weekend free-for-all – July 9-10, 2016

This 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.)

{ 1,113 comments… read them below }

  1. Adoption*

    For various reasons (mostly related to medications I’m on), my spouse and I are seriously considering adopting kids instead of having biological children. Our plan is to start the process in 3 – 5 years. We are interested in adopting a sibling group from foster care (probably between 2 and 7 years old). I’m kind of nervous about adopting toddler plus aged kids, but it is something that I have wanted to do for a long time.

    Does anyone have any advice about non-infant adoptions or books we should read? Any advice about foster-to-adopt in the US? Anything we should be doing now to prepare?


    1. QualityControlFreak*

      No helpful advice, but I’d like to say, go you! My grandparents adopted two sets of siblings (plus one single child and two bio kids – full house!) They were in the US, but this was on tribal lands and in tribal court. This is doable though, and very worth doing. Best of luck.

    2. Scotty Smalls*

      There is an excellent book that I would recommend – “How to Adopt Debt Free.” I’ve had several friends who have chosen adoption and the financial part of it can be overwhelming.

      Best of luck to you!

      1. Amtelope*

        The book may cover this, but I think it’s important to note that adopting from foster care doesn’t involve the kind of expense that’s involved in private domestic adoption or international adoption. If you’re adopting from foster care, your expenses should be minimal — from a few thousand dollars to nothing depending on exactly how you do it — and there is often some ongoing financial assistance provided for the child in the form of a monthly stipend payment.

        It can still be financially challenging — we had travel costs because we’re adopting out of state, and the adoption assistance stipend never actually covers all of a child’s monthly expenses — but it’s not like paying for international or private adoption.

    3. Kittens*

      I would love to read the responses for this, as me and my future-husband (4 months til wedding) are planning on doing the exact same thing in about 5 years (foster-to-adopt a set of siblings). I have advised that state processes can vary wildly, so research your area and their policies. I’ve also had it recommended to me to try volunteering as a foster advocate, which will help you better understand the system and how to best help foster kids. Also, the system can take a good long time, so start doing some heavy preparing at least a year before you’re really ready. Good luck!

    4. The Other Dawn*

      I don’t have advice other than to say that my sister and her husband are foster parents and it’s tough. They’ve done very well with most of the kids they’ve taken in over the years (they just adopted one of them!), but some of them needed so much intensive therapy and could barely function, and they just weren’t equipped to handle it. Make sure you know what you’re getting into. Many foster kids have very deep-seated emotional problems that sometimes take years to address. Many kids in foster care are there because of sexual abuse by a family member, or friend of the family, mom’s boyfriend, etc. (the stories are just awful!). It’s possible the first few years will be tumultuous as the kids settle in to a new family, new routine, environment, etc. You’ll need to be extremely patient and understanding.

      Best of luck!

    5. Amtelope*

      My partner and I are in the process of adopting a teenager from foster care. Advice, for what it’s worth:

      The exact process will depend on your state. You’ll either need to go through your local department of social services, or through an agency that specializes in placing kids with special needs (for foster care adoption, that includes sibling groups and school-aged kids). We’ve been working with Lutheran Family Services, which has been really helpful. If you want, you can look at online listings of waiting kids, but remember that those particular kids probably won’t be available when you start the process, and may not be a good match for you because of information that’s not on their public profiles.

      Be prepared for all the kids in foster care to have some degree of special needs — PTSD, anxiety, depression, problems in school, behavior problems, etc. Don’t let that put you off! There are great kids in foster care. But you’ll want to find out as much as you can about how to get them the services they’ll need once they’re placed with you; most kids will need therapy of some kind, because kids don’t come into care without traumatic things happening in their homes, and being taken away from their original families is itself traumatic even when it’s necessary.

      There’s typically a lengthy training class required before you can be matched with a child or sibling group. Sometimes it can feel like the class is being deliberately discouraging. Adopting from foster care is hard, and they really want to weed out parents who aren’t committed to tackling tough challenges. Keep going — the class was ultimately really useful to us, even though it was grueling.

      Be honest in the home study interviews, and give the social worker as much information about who you are and what your home is like as you can. They’re trying to make a good match, not just place any kid in any home, and often there aren’t “right” answers to things — there are kids who will do best with flexible and laid-back parenting, and kids who will do best with strict and very structured parenting, for instance.

      And prepare yourself for endless, endless, endless red tape. Everything involves filling out forms and checking off checklists and dealing with agencies that are well-meaning but often can’t communicate with each other. Medicaid, if your kids are entitled to it, is a circle of bureaucratic hell. An adoption assistance stipend may be available to help support kids adopted from foster care — a monthly payment, not large but helpful — but involves yet more red tape. Just visualize your worst experiences with bureaucracy and figure it will be at least that bad. Then if you sail through, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

      And after all of that — our new daughter is a joy to have in our home. Good luck to you!

    6. Pix*

      I’d suggest speaking to your nearest children’s librarian, tbh, but I also like We Belong Together, and And Tango Makes Three.

    7. Sparkly Librarian*

      My wife and I are a waiting adoptive family (US, agency, infant) and we are considering fostering older kids/teens in the future. I did a lot of research in the years leading up to the kickoff for our application, and would recommend the following sources:

      Adoption Nation: How the Adoption Revolution is Transforming Our Families — and America, by Adam Pertman
      Weaving a Family: Untangling Race and Adoption, by Barbara Katz Rothman
      This is US: The New All-American Family by David Marin
      Another Place at the Table, by Kathy Harrison
      One Small Boat: The Story of a Little Girl, Lost Then Found, by Kathy Harrison
      The Things I Want Most: The Extraordinary Story of a Boy’s Journey to a Family of His Own, by Richard Miniter

      Kinda Like Brothers, by Coe Booth
      Peas and Carrots, by Tanita S. Davis
      One for the Murphys, by Linda Mulally Hunt


      Take lots of pictures! You won’t be able to share them online, but the kids (and their biofamily and other foster parents, if applicable) will appreciate having those memories documented.

    8. Emmie*

      No advice. My friends adopted older foster kids, and both groups of friends have been blessed and happy beyond measure. Two separate families adopted older kids from foster care a second time. One friend has a child with behavioral issues and they had to adapt for the kid’s care; however, you could face the same issues through birth and infant adoptions. Many blessings to you!

    9. Uyulala*

      I’m in the early stages of adopting from foster care (older kid or sibling group) and it really does vary by state. In my state (Texas) you don’t need to be a foster parent first. You can do a direct adoption of children who are in the foster care system and are clear to be adopted.

      I also want to mention, for those looking at older kids, that sudden college costs aren’t necessarily a concern. My state offers free undergrad tuition to kids who were adopted from foster care (or aged out of foster care). I’m sure many other states offer the same.

      1. Uyulala*

        Also, I’m unmarried. In most states, an unmarried man or woman can adopt as long as they don’t have a live-in partner. Single and living alone or married and living together are both seen as “stable homes”.

        1. Amtelope*

          It’s also possible in many states to adopt if you do have a long-term live-in partner; my partner and I aren’t legally married. However, it does mean that although both of us are currently foster parents to our kid, only one of us will be able to legally adopt her.

        2. NacSacJack*

          regarding long-term partners, in MN, all adults living in the home must be certified as foster parents even in the case of foster-to-adopt. younger than 6 mos adoption process is different, but a friend of mine almost got her adoption process derailed because she had a friend living with her at the time of her application even though they had a short-term agreement (couple months_

      2. Coffeepots by Hazel*

        Regarding sudden college costs, any child who was in foster care at the age of 13 or any time thereafter is considered independent when applying for federal student aid, even if they’re adopted later — so if you adopt a teenager from the foster care system, your finances won’t even be included on the FAFSA.

        Caveats abound, of course. Qualifying for maximum federal student aid doesn’t necessarily mean it will cover the full cost of attending the college of your choice. It also doesn’t preclude Pricey Private U from looking at parents’ finances when deciding how to award its own institutional scholarships. Even so, maximum federal aid (for a freshman for 16-17, 5815 in Pell Grants, 3500 in subsidized loans, and up to 6000 more in unsubsidized loans if you need them — and that’s NOT counting any FSEOG (supplemental grant), work-study, or state aid you may be eligible for) easily covers tuition and books at a community college, and goes a fair way towards defraying the cost of your state university.

    10. Sami*

      Check out lavenderluz(dot)com
      She’s a blogger and open adoption advocate.
      Good luck!

    11. Meg*

      The New York Times ran an excellent series under the title “Foster Parent Diary.” Definitely worth a read!

    12. Jean*

      I just wanted to give you heartfelt good wishes as you bring a younger generation into your immediate family.
      No advice, but it looks like other AAM readers have that covered.

    13. France*

      Just a pointer – I know that there is a local law firm in town that handles adoptions, they have a wealth of various resources for prospective adopters, if you find a firm like this in your area they may be able to give you very helpful resources and perhaps even talk about the process with you a bit.

  2. Lily Evans*

    Last week in the thread about how to make friends as an adult and I’d mentioned that I’d started using the “bff” setting on a dating app to meet people in my new city. I ended up going on my first “friend-date” last night! Despite the inevitable awkwardness of meeting in person for the first time we seemed to get along pretty well and it was really great to meet someone who I probably never would’ve crossed paths with otherwise. I haven’t gotten far enough into any other conversations on the app to meet in person, but it was nice to have this one go well and I’m hoping we’ll get to hang out again!

    1. Audiophile*

      I’ve never seen a bff setting on any dating apps, and I swear I’ve used all of them.

      That’s awesome that you had a good friend-date.

      1. Lily Evans*

        It’s an option on the Bumble app that I think was added pretty recently. I hadn’t used it before, but it said it was new!

        1. Audiophile*

          Very interesting. I think I set up a Bumble profile, but I deleted the app. May have to give it another shot.

          Would you go out with this person again? Have you talked to them since your friend-date?

          1. Lily Evans*

            I’d definitely meet up with her again, but it was just last night so I don’t want to come on too strong haha. But I’ll probably see sometime this week if she’d like to meet up again. And it was really cool to get to know someone totally separate from my normal “circles” of work, college friends, etc.

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

      I’m married and didn’t realize there was such a setting! What app? I wonder if other married people my age are looking for friends via apps. LOL

      1. Lily Evans*

        It’s on the Bumble app, you can choose the “BFF” setting! I’ve seen a lot of different ages and plenty of women who are married or in a relationship on there (though I’m in a fairly big city so ymmv)

      2. Honeybee*

        I’ve definitely considered it (I’m married, too). One of my new friends told me about the BFF setting on the Bumble app.

    3. Pineapple Incident*

      That is such a cool way to expand your social circle! Good for you for trying to meet new people- it can be really hard sometimes once all the people you see are family/coworkers/old friends

    4. salad fingers*

      That’s super cool! I find it really sad that the idea of friend dating is waaaaaay more daunting to me that “regular” dating (anyone else feel that way?). I am super intimidated by the prospect of making new friends after a really bad and hurtful ending to my long time best friendship. Big thumbs up to you for putting yourself out there!

      1. Lily Evans*

        It was so intimidating! Honestly, I approach dating kind of cynically so I never put too much hope into online dating, but all of the women (there only seem to be women on the friend version, I’m not sure if it’s only for women or if men just aren’t using it) on the app seem so cool and out of my friend-league. It’s almost harder because people can have a lot of friends but most people only date one person at a time. So the fear of being “rejected” by potential friends is greater, IMO. But then again, my standards for friends are almost as high as my standards for dating, so I wouldn’t want to waste my time with people who don’t think I’m awesome anyhow.

    5. New girl*

      Ugh I’m trying to build up the courage to do this. Downloaded the app and built my profile but that is about it. I’m in my mid-20s and moved back to my hometown after college. A lot of my childhood friends are around and I still hang out with them regularly plus a few from college that live in the area so I kind of feel pathetic for wanting “new friends”.

  3. Raptor Trainer*

    I’m writing this on behalf of a family member (FM from here on out) who is having trouble with a neighbor who does not seem to understand personal boundaries. FM recently moved to a townhouse and bonded with her next-door neighbor over the fact they both have dogs. She liked the woman, seemed very friendly, and they enjoyed several evening talks the first couple of weeks after FM’s move. But it quickly became obvious that the neighbor is very needy.

    One of FM’s first weekends in the townhouse, when she was still unpacking, the neighbor came over in tears that she was having trouble sorting through important medical and legal documents that needed to get finished that weekend and the friend who was going to help her couldn’t come anymore and could FM, who she barely knew a month, come help her. FM did because she didn’t know what else to do with her neighbor sobbing in her living room but she made it clear she wouldn’t be able to do that again.

    That was the most extreme the neighbor has been but now it’s day-to-day stuff driving FM crazy. They both have patios out back of their townhouses. If FM is sitting in her patio, on the phone or reading or whatever, and the neighbor realizes she’s there, she’ll invite herself over and chat with FM forever. I have been on the phone with FM and hear the neighbor in the background that FM has to tell her she’s on the phone and can’t talk to her. Last weekend, I visited with FM and the two of us were hanging out on the patio, drinking and talking. Without asking if she could intrude, the neighbor came over with her own drink in hand and talked with us for half an hour, even when we dropped hints we didn’t want her there (we needed to discuss important family issues, we should figure out dinner soon, looks like the rain is approaching). She finally left but only after insisting that she would grill up steaks for FM the next day, a kind offer indeed but one I knew FM didn’t want to partake in.

    Personally, if she were my neighbor, I would have no problem laying down some boundaries; at the very least don’t interrupt me when I’m on the phone and please ask before you come over whether I’m alone or with company. But FM has a hard time being direct. Any polite but obvious ways she could put her neighbor off?

    1. LawCat*

      How is she accessing FM’s patio? Is there a gate that can be locked? If neighbor is locked out then she can’t just intrude. If neighbor knocks/calls out, “Sorry neighbor, I’m in the middle of something right now. Let’s chat later!” No need to actually open the door.

      Can FM plant tall container shrubs or put up a patio umbrella for added privacy?

      1. Raptor Trainer*

        FM’s gate doesn’t fully latch and doesn’t lock at all, which is something she’s working on with her landlord (she’s renting the townhouse). Hence why the neighbor can just stroll into the patio.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I think you need to tell FM that they need to realize that unless they’re willing to hurt their neighbor’s feelings, the neighbor has shown that they will completely take over FM’s life. FM needs to be OK with that, or they’re never going to be able to set and hold to a boundary.

      Captain Awkward has great advice on setting boundaries. I just did a search for “boundaries visitors” and the second one is about a “too-friendly neighbor”!

    3. Legalchef*

      Maybe if the neighbor comes over when she is on the phone or reading or whatever, she can say “I’m really enjoying this book, why don’t we can chat another time.” And then each time, say the same thing. And another time just won’t happen.

    4. Lady Blerd*

      FM will have to woman up and will have to have a stern talk with her neighbour. But before doing so FM will have to decide what’s the level of interaction she wants with the interloper: Would she invite her over occasionally? Would she rather just occasionally chat above the fence? Would she rather have no interaction with said neighbour? Once she figures out what she wants, then she will have to tell her neighbour.

      Unfortunately, it’s no different then a break up and is just as pleasant a conversation to have, especially if she’d rather not interact with the neighbour even again but if she wants change. I suspect this would bring on the waterworks or even anger or passive-aggressive reaction, she will have to be direct about it and more importantly, FM will be firm and hold her ground.

      1. F.*

        Be prepared for this neighbor to possibly go full on nasty. That is what my emotionally needy leech of a neighbor did to me when I set boundaries. It had been 9 years of neighbor hell since then. She has poisoned the other neighbors to the point that people I don’t even know give me dirty looks. She defies the physical boundaries between our trailers, lets her children run all over my property and taught them to scream loudly when they see me and call me The Witch. The gossip that has gotten back to me has been horrible (She told people I poison puppies!) That’s just a drop in the bucket, too.

        By all means, set firm boundaries or you will regret it. I sincerely hope that your relative’s neighbor is not the kind of sociopathic narcissist that mine is, but be forewarned that it may go very wrong very quickly.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          What a nightmare! My SIL had a similar thing happen when she set boundaries with her overly friendly neighbor; the neighbor took the rejection hard and was nasty the rest of the time they were neighbors. She once flung a dildo over the fence into SIL’s yard, screaming something about “fat b*tch”. It was awful.

        2. Tris Prior*

          Holy shit, are you my mother? haha, no, she doesn’t have internet. But this is EXACTLY what she is going through, right down to “The Witch” nickname. People can be just awful.

    5. Long time listener, First time caller*

      For the FM, what I learned in leasing might be helpful. When you are ‘done’ stand up, put your arm behind the other person and guide them out, with a firm and clear “See you later!” Shut door/gate behind them. It is hard,but. you need to set boundaries, or you will be used forever. For everything. Good luck!

    6. Ask a Manager* Post author

      This is my worst nightmare.

      There are two ways to handle this: incident-by-incident, or big-picture talk. Incident-by-incident is easier (“I’m waiting for a call/reading a book/doing work and can’t talk — see you later!”) but she probably has more of a chance of putting a real stop to it if she says something big-picture instead, like “I’m so glad to have a great person like you living next door but I need a lot of down time and I’m not one for spur-of-the-moment drop-bys.”

      That said, the bigger issue here is that if she has a hard time being direct, she’s just not going to be able to stop this (unless she’s willing to stop using her patio and answering her door). I might point that out to her, because no advice will work if she’s afraid of offending the neighbor. Maybe put it bluntly for her: is she willing to risk the neighbor being a little hurt in order to reclaim her privacy? And what language would she actually be comfortable using? I’m betting that someone who has a hard time being direct isn’t going to be willing to do some of the obvious stuff here (like say “please ask before coming over”). Would she be more comfortable with a cover story, like always having a book out on the patio and saying she needs to read it for work or her book club? I’d like her to be direct, but if the reality is that she won’t, it might be most productive to figure out what kinds of things she is willing to say.

      1. Nicole*

        This is my worst nightmare as well, which is why I probably come off less friendly than I actually am – I’d rather not talk to my neighbors at all than have someone up in my business all the time. I sympathize with this person because I find it hard to be direct too.

        1. Temperance*

          Oh this is so me, too. I posted below about a difficult situation with a former neighbor who was very quickly becoming dependent on us, and I make most of my choices about where/how to live with the thought that I would like that to never happen again. (Incidentally, we have a good situation now; our one neighbor lives down south half the year and when she is here, spends half the week with her husband at his house. It’s glorious.)

          1. the gold digger*

            half the week with her husband at his house

            I love my husband. I like my husband. I want to spend the rest of my life with him.

            Separate houses seems like the absolutely perfect setup.

            1. catsAreCool*

              I like the idea of getting a duplex or 2 houses next to each other – easy to visit, but each person has their own space.

            2. JaneB*

              The older I get and the longer I’m single, the more separate houses for any future relationship makes sense… I mean, even on the same street would be OK, but a door that’s MINE to SHUT…

              1. Dan*

                Same. Non withstanding that I’m a night owl and don’t go to work until 11, and my boss doesn’t give two shits.

                The thought of waking up to someone else’s alarm clock at 6am? Hell no. Did it once, that didn’t last long.

            3. Cristina in England*

              Yes. My dream local house has a same-sized house right behind it, as part of the same property (it’s an old carriage house). I would love this. That can be my husband’s house.

            4. Mallory Janis Ian*

              My husband and I once spent the better part of a week fantasizing about a duplex set-up for ourselves.

              We talked about having an interior door that connected the two sides, and he said, “What if one person leaves their junk on the other person’s side?”

              I said, “The other person would fling the junk through the connecting doorway onto that person’s side.”

              “What if we got divorced?”

              “We’d seal up the interior door and say, ‘I divorce thee’ three times.”

              1. Pennalynn Lott*

                This is fantastic and hilarious! When Boyfriend moved to my state 13 years ago to be with me, I had initially told him he’d need to buy his own house down the street from mine. But, finances being what they were (are), he moved in with me, instead.

                I fantasize frequently about how wonderful it would be like to have him live 1 or 2 houses over. :-)

              2. Shardawnhey*

                The author, Robert Parker had a duplex with his wife, with each having their own space.

                1. Mallory Janis Ian*

                  I would make my side so girly if I didn’t have to worry about manning things up to compromise with my husband’s taste.

              3. CM*

                I love this story, but I love the idea even more. I have floated the idea of separate bedrooms on many occasions, but my husband is adamantly opposed — I doubt he’d go for an entirely separate living space. Now I have something new to fantasize about.

            5. Yetanotherjennifer*

              Some friends of my parents are on their second marriage and have separate houses down the street from each other. We all understand why: they both have strong personalities. It’s worked very well for them.

      2. TootsNYC*

        I would suggest that she not worry much about hurting the neighbor’s feelings. Because the neighbor is NOT really clueless. I think she is deliberately manipulating the conventions of society in order to impose on your Family Member.

        And so the Family Member might find it easier to be “mean” (in quotes bcs it’s not really mean) to say, “Do not come over to my terrace unless I invite you,” or to stand up and say, “I’m going to send you home now, Intrusive Neighbor, because I do not want your company now” if she remembers that this person is rude.

        The neighbor is deliberately not picking up the clues. The offer of making a steak is a complete “favor sharking” move–“I’ll do nice things for you that you never even asked for, so then you’ll feel obligated to give me attention!”

        It’s deliberate. It may not be maliciously intended, and it may be a tad more instinctive than calculated, but it’s a deliberate tactic.

          1. Pineapple Incident*

            I love this. “Emotional squeegee” is now my favorite go-to phrase for these people

    7. Tomato Frog*

      Most of my life decisions have been made with the express purpose of avoiding a situation like this.

      1. Temperance*

        Me too! When we bought our house, we chose one with a fenced-in yard and an empty house next to it. LOL

    8. fposte*

      This also might be a situation where planned times that she *is* willing to interact with the neighbor can be used to push the uninvited times away. That has to be managed strategically so it’s not “Hey, we’re being even better friends so I should come over more!” But “Can’t talk now, Jane–I’ll see you for our coffee on Sunday” is a cutoff that many people can say when they can’t just say “Go away now.” It might also be worth saying “I can’t talk now, but I’ll walk you back” to get her out of FM’s patio–use the neighbor’s velcro tendencies to move her.

      For the patio: there are plastic garden containers with lattice trellis attached. Even if no plants are growing on them, that helps create a boundary. Maybe FM could look into it.

      1. Myrin*

        This is a technique my mum uses with one of our neighbours. She’s a nice lady the same age as my mum and very contact-y, something my mum doesn’t share at all. But she likes our neighbour and does want to spend some time with her, so she will go over every so often for coffee and have a chat and that seems to mostly fulfill neighbour’s desire to be social.

        (I’ve also sworn to myself that the next time we move – which will hopefully be soon -, should we meet another pushy neighbour, I will force myself to set the boundary of wanting to be left alone from the very start. I’m actually a pretty direct and straightforward person but it’s still kinda hard so I think it will be easier if I don’t know these people already/they don’t know me. Because despite the initial hardness, I don’t actually care much if someone thinks I’m rude or not. Thankfully.)

      2. TootsNYC*

        One suggestion that parents are often given when they’re struggling with all the neighborhood kids is to say, “Here is a flag on our front porch. When this flag is out, you may come over. When the flag is not here, you may not come to our house, even if our kids are outside in the yard, because this is family time.”

        So maybe something like that.

        “I want to have quiet time alone, or time with only my friends and family, on my terrace. It can be disruptive to have you come over without being invited. When I’m on my terrace, I need you to give me my privacy. If I am up for having company, i will put the flag up. If I don’t put the flag up, please don’t even greet me–give me complete privacy.”

        And I would look into some sort of barrier to put between them, just so I didn’t have to see her. I might hustle to get that in place before I said anything, so it didn’t look like the trellis was related.

        (google “privacy planter” or “lattice planter”; they’re roughly $125 for 32″ wide)

        And what a reminder to all of us to be just a little reticent when moving to new places; the people who have no boundaries will definitely be among the first to be very friendly; and the people with careful judgment will probably be among those slow to reach out. It’s probably smart to be slow to reach out. Though of course, FM was in it before she knew it.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, that first night with the papers sounds pretty wild. And I love the flag idea!

        2. So Very Anonymous*

          Seconding that last paragraph: my downstairs neighbor is a creepster who views himself as the welcome wagon for the building. No boundaries, tracks creepy things (like what my work anniversary is??). Took me a month to convince him that no, I was NOT coming into his apartment to use his washer/dryer. I’ve had to be outright mean to him and he mostly ignores me now. If I’d not been eager to be friendly in a new, unfamiliar city, I might have had less work to do to head him off.

    9. Temperance*

      There isn’t really a polite or discreet way to turn away a steamroller. Neighbor doesn’t have boundaries, which is clear from her showing up to demand help sorting through personal papers (?!!) from someone she didn’t even know.

      I’ll tell you what I did in a similar situation, but I’m not really a pushover; I have the unpopular view that my time is mine, and I owe it to no one else. A woman with some fairly significant issues moved into our apartment building during my law school finals, to the tiny apartment right around the corner from mine. She has a lot of functional issues, and couldn’t remember that our building was secure and she’d need a key to enter. So she would wander our neighborhood at all hours, and then bang on my window at all hours of the night for us to let her in. My husband did this exactly twice before I put a stop to it … I also caught her approaching him for help with her trash and various other tasks. This was in the course of .. 3 days. I knew he was too nice, and if I didn’t intervene, she would become dependent on him and us and would keep disturbing us when I desperately needed to study and sleep. I wasn’t about to let this person destroy my grades, and my husband was getting upset and anxious about how annoying her constant requests for help were.

      So we ignored her the next time she started banging on the window to be let in. She woke up someone else in our building, and never, ever forgot our keys again. I started answering the door when she came over, and made it clear that we were busy and couldn’t help her with tasks.

      What FM can and should do is set boundaries, like saying that she’s on the phone/listening to music/reading a book. She could always pop on headphones and not actually turn them on, which is what I do.

    10. Artemesia*

      There is no way to deal with this without penalizing yourself (e.g. never using your patio) or being blunt. It is one of the great reasons to be distant but pleasant with near neighbors in apartment buildings, but that ship has sailed.

      If she wants a boundary then she will have to sit down with her over coffee and say “it can be really awkward living so close to friends because it is so hard to have a chance to use your patio and come and go without losing privacy. I think we need some ground rules so we aren’t invading each other’s privacy. I think we need an invisible wall and when we want to get together we need to make arrangements to do so and not just drop in on each other. For example when I have a friend over to chat with on my patio, it is really awkward to have someone just drop in; we need that invisible wall. Can we agree to wait for an invitation to drop by or to plan ahead to get together?” And then make an actual date to have dinner together or something 3 or 4 days later (if any sort of relationship is desired).

      Frankly, better if she is insulted and withdraws than that the friend has to give up all privacy and control over her social life. But there is no ‘subtle’ way for this to be done with a persistent, needy grasping person. There just isn’t.

      1. fposte*

        What I like about this is that you’re not approaching her in the moment of overstepping. That means she’ll be more receptive, since she’s not being ejected right this very moment, and FM will feel more in control and less invaded and therefore more able to be both kind and firm.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I like this too–and it leaves it open for there to be an actual acquaintanceship if you still want one. Sometimes that’s ALL you want and it can be hard to maintain that boundary.

    11. Mando Diao*

      I hate it when rude people use the confines of “good manners” to disable your honesty and trap you in a social interaction that you don’t want. She has learned and honed an approach that makes you seem rude for shutting her down. FM doesn’t want to be friends with this person. FM needs to be ok with being disliked by someone she doesn’t even like.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      If you don’t want to shut her out entirely, why not set up specific days/times where it is okay for her to stop over if you are outside? You could explain that sometimes you sit outside to read or meditate, which is something that is very important to you and you would really appreciate her respecting your quiet time.

      Or you could fake being asleep. I have done that and it works well.

      Or you could say something like, “You know my family and I have a system that works pretty good for us. Since we see each other often, we all decided to call first to give each other the opportunity to say it is or is not okay to come over. It’s not always easy to know when is a good time for the other person, you know what I mean? And who wants to be an intruder, right? So I am thinking this is would be a good system for us. We give each other a ring first and see if now is a good time for a visit. ”
      And you can add on by saying, “Sometimes we tell each other no and we know that is not personal, it’s just life. Life can get crazy sometimes, you know what I mean here because you have seen that yourself….”

    13. OES*

      If the neighbor isn’t getting what she wants from FM, maybe she’ll stop bothering her. Everyone hates a surly teenager; perhaps channeling that vibe would put the neighbor off. So, if FM is reading on the patio & neighbor comes over, after the first acknowledgement of neighbor (almost impossible to avoid), FM goes back to reading. Neighbor realizes FM is reading & probably comments. FM doesn’t acknowledge comment or says, after long pause, “what? I’m reading,” and goes back to book. Or FM has guest on patio & neighbor comes over with a drink to join them. FM & guest don’t say anything but just stare into space.

      1. Raptor Trainer*

        I was actually trying to do something similar when the neighbor came over. I kept directing the conversation to things the neighbor wouldn’t know about, hoping she’d lose interest and go away. But FM kept pulling the neighbor in, explaining things. When we finally went inside and I told FM what I’d been trying to do, she realized that was a good idea and she kept messing up my plan. Unfortunately, FM is just too nice and, even though she doesn’t want to interact with neighbor as much as the nieghbor does, she just isn’t good at pushing back.

    14. Stachington*

      Ok, this is sort-of tongue-in cheek, but… maybe your FM can start acting either annoying or boring. Like become an over-zealous proselytizer for a more unusual religion she knows your neighbor wouldn’t be interested in… push her neighbor into jam-berry parties… get really pushy about environmental causes and only talk about that… invite her neighbor to a seance or to go ghost-hunting if she’s the superstitious type. Have fun creeping out that neighbor!

      On a related note, I have a friend who loaned his in-laws a large chunk of money knowing they wouldn’t be able to pay him back (but didn’t tell them they didn’t need to pay him back). They avoid him now, which he rather enjoys. So if your FM wants to throw money at the problem, lending money is a sure-fire way to lose a friend. And your FM will come away from the situation looking like the nice one.

  4. Guava*

    I saved $15 buying a youth size 6 instead of my normal women’s size 8 shoe.
    I was so excited, but equally annoyed because of the mark up over the same damn shoe (Van’s Atwoods).

      1. Stitch*

        No, they wou,do both have the same percentage of tax. Kids shoes are cheaper than adults, and sometimes men’s are cheaper than womens. I’ve often purchased my shoes from either the men’s or children’s section for this reason, plus I like the flashier styles I the kids area. I currently have a pair of sparkly rhinestone shoes from the kids area.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I like some of the kids’ shoes, too. I didn’t realize I could buy them! Off to Google up shoe size conversions for women to children’s sizes.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          My feet are too big to do that, though I think I can wear a boys’ size. I remember stealing some of my brother’s shoes.
          I might have to do this for trainers. I get tired of paying through the nose for shoes that just fall apart anyway.

    1. Rebecca in Dallas*

      I’ve done the same thing, not just with shoes but with clothing. (I’m very petite.) I still remember that years ago, I was looking at a nice down jacket at the Gap. If you’ve ever been in the Gap, you know that Gap Kids is usually attached. Well, I happened to glance over at the Kids side and saw the almost-identical coat over there, tried on an XL and it fit! I saved about $50 if I remember right.

      (Of course, it was a little awkward when I was wearing the coat later and saw a little girl wearing the same one.)

      To me, it makes a little bit of sense. Kids aren’t typically going to be able to wear their clothes and shoes as long as an adult would be able to, they’ll grow out of it soon enough. But I actually still have that coat and pull it out when the weather is appropriate!

    2. always and forever anonymous*

      I usually buy the XL youth size for sports jerseys and t-shirts. They’re cheaper than a woman’s small and tend to fit me better, too, since women’s sports jerseys are gigantic and I’m usually swimming in a small.

    3. CAA*

      I do this too. I have small feet, and it’s usually much easier to find a youth 4 than a women’s 5.5, unless I’m looking for dressy high heels.

    4. TootsNYC*

      I have wide feet, so I started out buying men’s shoes in certain styles. Then, when I had kids, I figured out that children’s sizes are always wider than adults’, bcs of boys.

      So now I buy girls’ shoes sometimes.
      For me the problem is that it can be hard to find a youth size 6 (I’m a ladies 7.5); lots of stores don’t carry them!
      (And kids’ shoes go up to a 7, but not further, in my experience; and those 7’s are hard to find)

      But Lands End does, so I have a nice pair of suede Mary Janes from Lands End and a cute pair of suede booties. Girls’ shoes are often too glitzy for me, but there are classics now and then.

    5. INTP*

      I got my Sorels for $40 that way! Plus I get compliments on the fact that they’re hot pink.

      1. catsAreCool*

        I love the kitties, but I understand. Hopefully they’re hanging out with you – 2 of my cats tend to be very cuddly when I’m tired.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Aw! He looks like a Maine Coon or Norwegian Forest Cat! They’re very smart and very social cats, and particularly like to push with their heads. Does that sound like Ray? This was our sweet Coon: http://imgur.com/a/BLzBI

        Also, Alison, sorry for all of the extra moderation approvals, I thought of it after my first post!

        1. Kyrielle*

          That’s been our guess! He was a shelter cat, so of course we don’t know and it may be (probably is) mixed with other things, but he definitely has matching traits (including size, but also personality). I’m guessing Maine Coon, but. We got him at 9 months old and he has grown up alongside our children (I was pregnant with my eldest then) and always been remarkably tolerant of and kind toward them. (Apple has a slightly different policy, which involved staying out of their reach until we, and Ray, taught them to pet properly.)

          Yours was adorable!

    1. periwinkle*

      More kitties! I had posted seeking advice about my bullying/bored male kitty and was advised to get him a kitten friend. And then we adopted another. And then last month, with kitten season ramping up, we decided to adopt two more babies:


      (and that makes eight cats in our household – we are definitely at our limit but then again that’s what I said when we were at 6 so…)

    2. misspiggy*

      Thank you for the cat pictures everyone – they are all gorgeous! I do like Ray’s floof and jade-green eyes.

    3. salad fingers*

      I’d like to submit for your amusement this picture of the first Satanist pet pig I’ve ever met. Found him last night at a street fest and made the mistake of (when going in for some belly rubs) putting my beer down next to me, which Satanist pet pig instantly went snout first into to guzzle.


      Zoomed and cropped to protect the innocent.

    4. EddieSherbert*

      I was at a cat show this weekend (manning a booth, not showing any cats). One of the most entertaining things I’ve seen! Gist of it was “men in suits waving cat toys and then writing really seriously in a notebook.”

      I was able to chat with one of the judges after and learn more about the “whats and whys” of it. Cat toy is for judging the cat’s reaction times.

      Also, they have a “household cats ring” for rescues and general pets (rather than purebreds) so they’re just judged on being “pretty, purring, and playful” which I think is AWESOME!

  5. LawCat*

    Just got back from vacation! Craters of the Moon (Idaho), Yellowstone, Grand Teton, white water rafting on the Snake River, and visiting points in Utah (highly recommend the Natural History Museum at U. of Utah!) Feeling refreshed and relaxed!

    We got a National Parks “passport” while on our trip! So fun. You put inked stamps in it when you visit different parks. I wish my state parks had a passport too! Thinking of making one for myself for state parks since we are frequent visitors and maybe making stickers in lieu of inked stamps, but not sure how to go about making the little passport book itself. Any suggestions on how to do such a thing?

    1. Aurora Leigh*

      Awesome vacation! As far as handmade books go, there’s the old quarter gold with construction paper cover, but if you’re looking for something nicer, I used The Art of Homemade Book Binding for a 4H project (amazon link to follow). It turned out pretty cool!

    2. NM Anon*

      We’re getting ready to head up to Yellowstone and the Tetons! Any advice? Anything that you’d say is an absolute MUST see?

      1. LawCat*

        We did lower loop of Yellowstone. Not to be missed: Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic Spring (both of these get really packed, but worth beholding!), and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone). We did a tour, which was great since the guide did all the driving and was so knowledgeable of history, wildlife, and geology (Buffalo Roam tours). Bring binoculars or a spotting scope for viewing wildlife. The wildlife can cause traffic jams so be prepared for that (the bison sometimes travel the road). We saw ospreys, bald eagles, a grizzly bear (if you go hiking, carry bear spray, our guide said you could rent it in Yellowstone), elk, bison, and a coyote. It’s a pretty amazing place!

        I’m not sure how far north you are going in Yellowstone, but you may be able to view wolves in the Lamar Valley. We didn’t get that far north, but that’s what our guide said.

        The Tetons were prettiest to view in the morning. We took a boat across Jenny Lake and then hiked to a spot called “Inspiration Point” and then back down around the lake. It’s a well traveled trail around the lake, but we had plenty of times where it was just us (since it was so well traveled, we were not concerned about surprising large animals). We also look a drive through the park. There are many points to stop and take in the scenery. Jackson Lake Lodge has a good viewing are to look for wildlife (I saw a golden eagle and a mother and baby elk).

        We had dinner one night at Dornan’s, which is a chuckwagon style buffet. Excellent mashed potatoes and picnic tables looking up at the Tetons.

        We had an amazing time and I’m sure you will too!

        1. NM Anon*

          Thank you so much for the response! Hearing your story made me even more excited!! We’re going to try and do everything we possibly can; we will be there at least a month.

    3. Raptor Trainer*

      If you like the idea well enough, maybe you could reach out to your own state parks to suggest it. Parks are always looking for ways to bring people in, and collecting things like stamps and whatnot is usually a big hit for very minor expenses. Your local parks might appreciate the suggestion.

  6. Aurora Leigh*

    Last night I was supposed to meet my best friend from college at a concert and she never showed.

    On the one hand, we’ve been texting more sporadically, and I haven’t seen her in person since October.

    On the other hand, she still lives at home and the family situation is controlling at best.

    So I flip back and forth between she just didn’t want to see me and something bad has happened. I last heard from her at noon yesterday, and I’ve sent her several unanswered texts. About 15 minutes ago I sent her one just telling her I was worried and to let me know she’s okay.

    Am I overreacting? Other thoughts?

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        I will try this evening, if I haven’t heard from her by then. There’s a possibility she’s working outdoors (family farm).

    1. alice*

      You’re not overreacting. Even if you were, that would be better than assuming she just no-showed. Do you have any mutual friends you can check in with?

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        I just sent a text to her sister. They’re not super close anymore, but maybe I’ll hear something.

        1. Aurora Leigh*

          Well, drat, I don’t have the right number for her sister anymore. So no mutual friends :(

    2. ginger ale for all*

      You aren’t overreacting. Keep trying to see if she is safe, you are being a caring friend.

      1. JaneB*

        Worrying! I hope there’s an explanation like a broken down car and phone – let us know

        1. Aurora Leigh*

          Finally heard from her! She is okay. It was family stuff. Kind of bummed as I think I’m losing the friendship, but I guess that’s life.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I hope you get in contact with your friend. I’d be tempted to ask her at what point does she want the police to be called?

      But I am wondering if her cell does not work at home. Mine doesn’t and I am in farm country.

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        Hers does, I know. She did text me back finally. There are some really weird family dynamics going on and she was actually at the concert with them. So I guess that’s good. I’m pretty bummed though.

        1. misspiggy*

          Hmmm. Weird family dynamics or not, the way she handled it (or didn’t) doesn’t show the best adulting skills.

  7. Mimmy*

    Just came back from our week at the shore! It wasn’t as chaotic as I’d feared – my nieces and nephews are maturing and they spent a lot of time with each other, giving the adults some good alone time.

    However, the week was a bit miserable for me: 1) Hotel was crappy, 2) (tmi warning) had my monthly friend, and 3) Fell TWICE due to missing a step, so now I have major road rash on my right knee. It is still difficult to bend and is still pretty sore. I was particularly bummed yesterday because it was the last full day at the beach and the water, which had been cold all week, was finally at a comfortable temperature.

    Which leads to my questions: My husband and I were looking up whether salt water is good for wounds, and there is conflicting information. Some have found it helpful for rashes, e.g. poison ivy, but some articles say there are too many variables, such as the potential for bacteria in the water (a beach a few towns away was closed due to high levels of bacteria). What have you guys heard? Also, any good tips for healing? I had a similar injury a few years ago (yes, I do tend to miss steps and holes) and i remember it took ages to heal.

    1. Ellie H.*

      My personal opinion is that salt water is good for wound healing, but the bacteria element is worth considering too. If it were me I would have considered the salt water likely to be beneficial. Knee wounds take so long to heal because there’s not a lot of tissue there, just skin and bone, so there is not as much blood flow to the area. I don’t have any real suggestions though – you could try Vitamin E oil.

    2. fposte*

      If you mean going into the water while you were at the shore, I think it’s going to be neutral in most cases–it’s not going to help heal anything, but you’re not likely to make things worse, absent a nasty bacteria strain. It might have a slight advantage of allowing you to move the joint a little while your weight is supported by the water, presuming you’re actually swimming or going in to a reasonable depth.

      1. JaneB*

        I used to fall all the time (I was one of those kids with plasters on both knees well into my teens) and got a lot of raw, bleeding eczema especially in the back of my knees and on the top of my feet – our GP actually recommended paddling in the sea! And putting a handful of sea salt in bath water (which is more hygenic, as the kind you buy from health food stores is fit for eating!). It stings, but it did seem to help – those areas take ages to heal as every time you move you seem to open up cracks, and the blood flow isn’t so good. In fact, I should get some sea-salt – these days the persisting injuries are mostly grazes on my shins from walking into the corner of the oven door and the dishwasher, but the problems with healing are the same!

        1. Mimmy*

          those areas take ages to heal as every time you move you seem to open up cracks

          Oh goodness YES!! Every time I move I feel like the wound is going to split open. It’s still really raw and red and even feels a little hot.

          1. thehighercommonsense*

            Yikes, a little hot is a possible sign of infection–keep an eye it! Best wishes for a quick recovery.

          2. Clever Name*

            Ooh, it sounds like an infection is setting in. Do you have neosporin or bacitracin? A few drops of tea tree oil mixed with witch hazel is a good disinfectant too.

            1. Mimmy*

              I’ve been putting bacitracin on it – I put some on last night and I think it looks better. I keep showing it to him and he has not seen anything that looked abnormal and that the feeling hot is just increased blood flow. It definitely doesn’t hurt like it did yesterday and doesn’t look as red, so I’d say those are good signs.

  8. Scotty Smalls*

    Wedding/baby shower etiquette question – how many showers can you have before it looks like a gift grab?

    I’m asking this out of curiosity. Lately, I’ve had several family members and friends have multiple showers. For example, my cousin recently got married and him and his fiancee had two engagement parties (gifts expected) and five showers. Another cousin had her third child about a year ago and had three showers. A friend was having her second child and some friends had a shower for her, even though she just had her first child a year ago.

    Also, I always thought that etiquette dictates that you should not invite someone to a shower if they are not invited into the wedding – is that correct?

    I’m asking this because I thought that etiquette experts said you should not have a shower for a second, third, etc child and you should not have a bunch of wedding showers because it risks looking greedy. I’m trying to figure out if I’m just really old-fashioned or need to keep up with the times.

    1. always and forever anonymous*

      I thought one shower for each event was standard – one shower for the first baby, none for the second or third, one shower for the wedding. I don’t think I’ve ever even been invited to a shower for a second or third child, but that’s probably because most people I know who’ve had children reuse the items they got the first time around for the second child.

      Not gonna lie, I wouldn’t go to multiple showers for one event because that seems excessive. Why do you need two engagement parties and five showers?? I don’t think it risks looking greedy, I think it is greedy.

      1. bearing*

        Two words: Divorced parents.

        You don’t think Mother Of The Bride and Step-mother Of The Bride are each going to let the other one get away with throwing the only shower, did you?

        1. Fog*

          At some point you just have to say no.

          If my mother/stepmother had had their way, we’d have had two separate *weddings.*

          You behaved like children during my childhood. Now I’m an adult. You will be too.

    2. Kittens*

      I’m in the middle of the wedding part of this right now (my wedding shower was two weeks ago), and I would say that multiples are justified when you have many subgroups of friends and family that aren’t super accessible to one another or don’t overlap much. 2 engagement parties and 5 showers is BANANAS though by almost any standard. Who’s throwing them? Is there any context to explain why they can’t coordinate and combine?

    3. TheSnarkyB*

      YIKES! 2 engagement parties and 5 showers is a lot. I just got married and I think we had a few “informal” engagement parties meaning – meet us at XYZ bar, don’t bring anything, but then friends bought most or all of our drinks for the night. Main purpose for that was to see different groups of friends. I then had 1 bridal shower, with like 10 people, and gifts were brought. No formal engagement party, no 2nd or 3rd shower.
      I’d heard that baby showers for 2nd or 3rd kids are considered “tacky” (hate that word, feels classist, but that’s what people say). But I’ve also heard that there’s an exception if you’re having a kid of whatever gender for the first time (eg 3 boys but your 4th is a girl – have a shower for the pink stuff! obv she can’t have BLUE hand-me-downs). eye roll. So yeah that’s what I’ve heard.
      I think 2 showers or parties for the same thing are fine, but better if they’re for different groups of people, and far apart in timing if there is overlap. Eg. you want to have an engagement party asap in March and then a wedding shower in November, ok, I’m not going to hate on you much for that. Or 2 in March where completely different people are invited, ok. Beyond that, I do think it seems very gift-grabby and uncouth.

    4. Rebecca in Dallas*

      Typically just a baby shower for the first baby, maybe one for the second one if it’s a different gender. After that, etiquette says no but in past years I’ve had friends/family do sprinkles or sip & sees for subsequent kids and usually people will bring smaller gifts for those (the idea being that they already have the basic baby stuff). So I think the times are changing a bit on that front.

      The only etiquette rule that I remember for wedding showers is that the guest lists for each shower shouldn’t overlap (with the exception of your mom and bridal party, who aren’t required to bring a gift to multiple showers). So if I have a college friend who wants to give me a shower and invites our college friends, then a work friend who wants to throw me one and invites work friends, a church friend, etc. that’s fine. And yes, only people who are invited to the wedding get invited to the showers.

      1. Scotty Smalls*

        I’ve heard a lot about sprinkles – but really, isnt that the same as a baby shower?

        For baby showers, I always thought that a small gift (i.e. an outfit, receiving blankets, books) is okay, unless you are pitching in for a large gift. The last few showers I’ve went to the guests of honor have received expensive gifts (i.e. strollers, beds, etc). The most recent shower was for a second child (same gender as the first and the first is about a year old) and she got tons of “big” gifts.

        1. Rebecca in Dallas*

          Yeah, I think the idea is that “sprinkle” implies that it’s smaller, no big gifts just stuff like clothes. Sometimes people just want to give you a party and ooh and aah over baby stuff.

          I can’t really think of any “big” gifts you’d need for a second baby, maybe a double stroller? A second high chair? I have zero kids, though.

          1. TootsNYC*

            maybe not even clothes. Something really small, like less than $10 in cost.

            And a smaller group of friends as well–the kind of people who are close enough to want to have a moment to say, “yay, baby no. 2!” And also not that elaborate.

            Basically, smaller in every way.

          2. Overeducated*

            Stuff you didn’t get for the first because you were being minimalist/didn’t have much money/didn’t get a big shower for #1!

            I didn’t have a bridal shower, and our parents gave us gifts for baby #1 that we are super grateful for, but there wasn’t a formal shower as such, and we were on a very tight budget. A lot of people say “it turns out you don’t need nearly that much stuff for a baby after all!” but I had the opposite experience. Wish we’d spent $40 apiece on a few things some of our friends swear by for helping with infant sleep, and still worry that my kid doesn’t have a good stock of toys and books compared to others. Also, due to moving between tiny city apartments we can’t keep much in storage. If and when we have a #2 it may be expensive…

            1. Overeducated*

              Oh! Also, stuff you borrowed for #1, but had to return to original owners. My kid’s infant car seat and bassinet, for instance.

        2. JaneB*

          Uh… in my part of the UK, and in the part of Canada I once lived in, a “sprinkle” was an ultra-coy way of referring to urination. I had to read that post several times to catch the real meaning…

          1. Aurora Leigh*

            Haha! That would be a “tinkle” in my part of the US. Sprinkles are on cupcakes, cookies, and ice cream!

      2. WT*

        We had a very small work shower for my second (whose 6+) years younger then the first. But it was really more about an excuse to eat cake at work, there we no “big ticket items”. Which was fine, we knew we would be replacing all those from the first anyways.

    5. Tax Accountant*

      I think you can have as many showers as people want to throw you, but you shouldn’t invite the same people repeatedly. That’s just weird and tacky. So, for instance, when I had my daughter, my work friends threw me a shower, and then I had a shower with my social friends. There was no overlap in terms of who was invited.

      I think it’s weird when people have a full blown baby shower for kids after their first, but I’ve seen some more low key baby shower events called a “sprinkle”, where it’s understood that you have all the big expensive stuff like a crib, stroller, and carseat, but a friend wants to throw you a low-key party and you get some low dollar presents. That’s okay in my mind, especially if your second kid is of the opposite gender.

      1. Artemesia*

        I don’t get people expecting friends to buy strollers, car seats and such. Family sure — but to expect more than a couple of onsies from friends seems clueless and greedy.

        A shower is initiation to motherhood. One becomes a mother only once.

      2. TootsNYC*

        “I think you can have as many showers as people want to throw you, but you shouldn’t invite the same people repeatedly.”

        This is where I fall. Of course, I would say that, because I had 5 bridal showers. But they were really different, and none of them were my idea; a couple of them were a surprise.

        1. My own family (aunts, cousins, grandmothers, college friends from back home), memories shower in a box, hosted by my best friend

        2. My husband’s huge family and a couple of women who were friends of me & my fiancé, household stuff, hosted by my mother-in-law (a technical no-no, but common in their family)

        3. My girlfriends (about 5), a lingerie/honeymoon shower hosted by my roommate (I said yes to this instead of folding them into my MIL’s family shower, bcs I wanted to be able to actually talk with them!)

        4. A work shower

        5. My hometown ladies (women from my church, people I used to babysit for, etc.), a linens shower hosted by my mother’s best friend

        It felt a little weird, but it wasn’t that greedy, and in most of these situations, the true purpose of the gathering was for the guests to all have a little bit of extra time w/ me to say, “we’re so happy for you!” (and for me to have time with them!) and to have more personal attention than I’d be able to give them on my wedding day.

        1. TootsNYC*

          Oh–and other than the fact that my mother and sister were asked to participate in the memories shower, were invited to my MIL’s shower (but didn’t attend), and were invited to the hometown ladies shower, nobody was invited to more than one.

        2. TootsNYC*

          Oh, and the work shower was like all the work showers I’ve ever attended:
          • A group (the department, or a couple of departments) take up a “give what and if you want” collection to get something sort of big-ticket that fits their collective budget;
          • a couple of people who feel personally closer will buy something just from them (usu. boss does this, or else rounds up the group gift);
          • and most people just come for the cake and to say “good luck!”

          I’ve never worked anywhere that a work shower was much of a problem.
          And I’ve never worked anywhere that the colleagues would consult the guest of honor for permission.

          1. Kyrielle*

            Yep. My firstborn, I got three baby showers – family, my work, and his work. My work had several folks who were close to me and they were embarrassingly generous, family was generous, his work was a few outfits and a cake, which was just perfect.

    6. Al Lo*

      For babies, my friends/sisters have started doing a “meet and greet” for the second/third baby. It’s the community aspect and baby cuddling of a shower (a lot of showers in my area are held after the baby’s born, which always seems better to me — the best fun of a shower is snuggling a newborn!), but pretty explicitly no gifts. Lots of people bring a card, some people will bring a food dish for the family to take home, and you get those one or two who ignore the “no gifts” thing, but for the most part, people know not to bring gifts. Those events are becoming much more common around here, so it’s entering the gift-giving etiquette and lexicon, at least in my experience.

      1. Rebecca in Dallas*

        That’s a “sip & see” where I live! Usually no gifts, maybe something small like a cute onesie or bib.

      2. Kyrielle*

        Yes, that’s awesome. :)

        Plus, showers after the baby comes, if they include clothing for the baby, it might actually fit…some of the gifts from my firstborn’s shower never got worn or barely got worn. (He was 11 pounds, 9 ounces – newborn never fit, and 0-3 months lasted about a month….)

        1. blackcat*

          My mom has always given me the advise to always get baby gifts that work for a 6+ month old. That way, if the baby is giant at birth, you’re not getting something that they’ll never wear. Plus, if everyone else gets newborn and 0-3 month stuff, the parents will run out of clothes at some point!

          So far, this has always been well received.

          1. bluesboy*

            My Mum gave me the same exact advice! And it’s very effective, as long as my fiancé is with me. When she’s there everyone comments on how thoughtful it is.

            If I ever did it as a single man though people always just assumed I’d bought the wrong size…

          2. Kyrielle*

            Yep! I never got that advice, but after my firstborn, I came to it on my own and have given things useful later on every time. The newborn/0-3 stuff is cute, but even kids born in those sizes will outgrow it sooner than later.

          3. Elizabeth West*

            I always buy books (picture books, etc.) for a baby shower present. Lots of times, they get tons of clothes, blankets, etc. from family. My other go-to is a tiny diaper bag–the ones that hold just a bottle and a couple of diapers–for short errands. Everyone I’ve given the little bag to has loved it. They said it was nice when they didn’t want to haul a huge suitcase with them.

    7. Katie the Fed*

      You can have one engagement party and up to three showers, provided those showers all cater to completely different groups of people (no double dipping!) and everyone is invited to the wedding.

      I opted for neither, although my MIL threw us a VERY small shower with some of her friends, which I was fine with. I had a small bachelorette party too. But the wedding was smallish at 80 guests and we each only had one attendant. I am so not into all the giftiness and pomp of weddings, especially my own :)

    8. Ex Resume Reviewer*

      Perhaps I’m old-fashioned too, but I was raised that there is Only One Shower. Especially for babies; you don’t get another because the next one is a different gender or it’s been a few years. I’ve lost “friends” because I wouldn’t attend their second baby shower… which tells me exactly what the motivation was. There’s lots of articles about how this is “changing,” but I strongly feel that I am not here to subsidize your reproductive practices. Unless we’re going to start making cat showers a thing.

      I’ve made one exception to this: for a friend who’s last child was 10+ years before. I didn’t know her then.

      I can accept multiple events for different groups, but I would only attend one (say the shower for friends, not the one for family or coworkers (which I do not support but it happens)). I would not support inviting the same people to each occurrence.

      And nope, you don’t get to invite someone to your wedding shower and not the wedding! I’d be horribly offended.

          1. JaneB*

            OOO that would be so fun… (probably not for the new kitty, but for the attendees, definitely!)

            Also puppy showers should be a thing – everyone gets to play with the puppy!

    9. evilintraining*

      Ridiculous IMHO. I was also taught that showers are for firsts only and yes, don’t invite someone to the shower who is not invited to the wedding. If there are multiple parties/showers, I would expect to be invited to and attend only one. You’re not behind the times at all; this is just overkill from people who don’t know or maybe just don’t care about proper etiquette.

    10. Older not*

      I was given a shower for my second child. A neighbor in my new neighborhood hosted it and invited all the women in our neighborhood. When she offered to host it I initially declined because it was my second child. But she talked me into it saying that nobody in this neighborhood knew me when I had my first child and everybody was excited I was having a baby and they wanted to celebrate. It was a great get-together, we had fun and got
      to know each other better.

    11. Jubilance*

      Gifts aren’t expected at engagement parties – I don’t know where this idea started but I wish it would stop.

      The same guests shouldn’t be invited to multiple showers. I’ve seen multiple showers due to geographic issues. I myself am going to have 3 baby showers: 1 in my hometown, 1 in my husband’s hometown and 1 in the city we live in currently. I wouldn’t dream of inviting the same folks to all 3 showers, that’s just ridiculous!

      I think a baby shower for a 2nd or 3rd kid is acceptable when the baby is a different gender, or there’s a big gap between kids. I also see people do a lot of the sprinkles, where people bring essentials for the baby.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I think gifts at engagement parties came about because for the longest time, there really weren’t many engagement parties.

        Then when people started having them, guests didn’t really know what to do; they thought, “a party for a guest of honor–you have to bring a present, don’t you?”

        My MIL is annoyed w/ engagement parties, “Oh, this is a thing now? More gifts?” But I have to tell you, she’d throw one for my DD in a heartbeat to get her share of the “fundraising.”

      2. Elizabeth West*

        The big gap makes sense–if someone has limited storage space, they might have got rid of most of their baby things and maybe didn’t expect another kid to come along!

        There’s an old thing–never get rid of your baby stuff, LOL. It’s like tempting fate.

    12. EmmaLou*

      Sometimes you get more than one shower because of different circles you are in: Work shower, if they do that kind of thing; church lady shower, if you go to church; family shower if family is not going to any of the other showers. Each guest only has to attend a maximum of one shower and even if they come to more than one, (like your mother or best friend) they don’t have to bring a gift to each. As the guest of honor, you can just say, “No, I’d rather not,” but that’s sometimes harder to say to your future mother-in-law or boss. One is usual, three is the most I’ve seen and five seems like… wow.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I had five! (the list is above)

        It seems like a lot when you say it, but the groups were (as you say) all so very different.
        I also, in the case of the iffiest shower, relied upon my mother utterly to decide whether that was cool or not.

    13. Sydney*

      Personally I think the wedding shower tradition should be eliminated. Shower AND a wedding? Why are there two parties? If you are going to the wedding you are giving a gift (and often people who don’t attend the wedding still send a gift) so why is it two gifts and two parties? It would be different if it was people you invited to the wedding but they couldn’t attend and you still wanted to have a small get together with them (and the groom should attend) because you are very close to them. Otherwise I just don’t get it. The shower in itself seems like a gift grab these days.

      Historically showers were to help the couple set up their households back when people went from living at home straight into marriage. But now that doesn’t happen as much. From wikipedia:
      “The custom of the bridal shower is said to have grown out of earlier dowry practices, when a poor woman’s family might not have the money to provide a dowry for her, or when a father refused to give his daughter her dowry because he did not approve of the marriage. In such situations, friends of the woman would gather together and bring gifts that would compensate for the dowry and allow her to marry the man of her choice.”

      that’s not happening anymore so why are there still shower(s)?

      1. Myrin*

        I’m always surprised by the idea of these showers anyway. They don’t exist in my culture and I remember when I first read about them – on this very site, actually! – I was just scratching my head all “Huh? What the hell is a baby shower?”. I thought they literally had the baby take a shower, for whatever reason.

      2. TootsNYC*

        I think the original point of the bridal shower has become lost.

        Originally, the only people who attended a shower were the bride’s absolutely closest circle. And the gifts were much more of a personal thing between close friends, and less a “let’s outfit you for the future” thing (those were wedding gifts).

        They were actually the parallel to the bachelor party.

        I don’t know when we started w/ baby showers.

        1. Fog*

          That’s how we did it at the two weddings in which I was closely involved:

          Bridal shower – best friends, small gift directly from me to the bride-to-be
          Wedding – large circle of family & friends, The Gift from SO and I to the new couple

    14. Nina*

      I agree that multiple showers seems gift-grabby, especially if the same folks are invited to multiple events. But one thing to consider is whether the showers are being put on (or insisted upon) by others instead of the couple.

      For example, we’re expecting our first baby and weren’t planning on having any shower at all, but my MIL really wanted to throw one, so we agreed to a small get-together. Soon after that shower my husband’s workplace announced that they would be throwing one too (surprise!), and there will be some folks from his work that will be invited to both. It’s very kind of his employer, but it feels awkward, especially since we already have pretty much everything we need.

      Of course, we could have told them to cancel it, but that feels pretty rude. So, I don’t know. Is it possible your cousin is a pushover like us who just has a lot of family and friends who want to throw them showers? I don’t know of anyone who throws a shower (let alone multiple showers) for themselves.

      1. TootsNYC*

        Yeah, actually nobody is supposed to throw a shower for themselves.

        They’re not even supposed to ask someone to host it for them.

        1. nonegiven*

          Even your immediate family isn’t supposed to do it. It is supposed to be a friend or group of friends that host it.

          1. TootsNYC*

            or an aunt or cousin
            or your mom’s best friend

            Basically, a shower is saying, “Come give my niece a present!”

            It sounds horrible to say, “Come give my sister/daughter a present!”

            W/ my MIL, I left it up to her; the fact that she hosted wasn’t anything her family cared about (they all know that the mom foots the bill, even if it’s hosted by the bridesmaids), and they actually saw it as an indicator of how much she loves me. If I had more experience, I might have suggested we use someone else’s name, but I didn’t have any bridesmaids handy (they were all out of state).

          2. Anon Anon Anon*

            Exactly. Your bridesmaids can throw a shower, your best friend can throw a shower, your mother’s best friend can throw a shower.

    15. Moonpie*

      I had 3 wedding showers (in three cities) and 5 baby showers (in 2 cities). I would have been happy with one or none, but I thought it was lovely that so many people wanted to make our life events special. Wedding was husband’s hometown/family, my hometown/family, and my friends/coworkers from the town I was leaving. Baby (years later, so shower fatigue wasn’t an issue) was his hometown family, my family, my girlfriends, my coworkers (they do this for every baby) and a surprise from a social group I’m a part of where they all went in on one special gift. I don’t think it was poor ettiquette, there was just enough geographical and peer group differences that it worked out that way. Each one was unique, I thanked everyone profusely, wrote timely personal thank you notes and had lots of fun putting all the pretties away. But maybe it matters that I’m in the South, where showers are maybe more common? The only crossover guests at any of these was my mother and mother-in-law, and I jokingly told my mom she was welcome to just wrap the same thing over and over and I’d act just as surprised each time!

    16. Blurgle*

      The rule about weddings is that you can have one formal shower, officially hosted by someone not related to you or your fiancé/e, and one work shower. Every person invited to the formal shower has to be invited to the wedding, which is why either the bride has to see the invitation list first or the host/ess has to cross-check the invitation lists him/herself. It can come across as not simply impolite but also exploitative to invite people to a formal shower without inviting them to the wedding.

      The rule about baby showers is that you only get one *except* in cases where there’s a reasonable chance the parent/s don’t have anything left from the last baby. That usually means fires, floods, international moves, redeployments, etc. but can also mean an unusually long gap between one baby and the next. If your last child was born 15 years ago you probably can’t reuse much anyway, either because it’s deteriorated, gone missing, been given away, or no longer meets safety standards.

    17. SAHM*

      That’s really….over the top. I did have two baby showers (i.e. One for each) but that was bc Thing 2 was SUPPOSED to be a girl…. Ha! And I didn’t throw either of them myself, my aunt did the second shower, I honestly can’t remember the first (7 years ago). I didn’t have a shower this time around (although my Womens bible study did a little sprinkle for me), but I gleefully accepted boxes and boxes of hand me downs from friends/family who had girls. Baby E’s dresser is overflowing (I packed up anything over 6 month bc it wouldn’t fit in dresser). Most of my baby items are things I’ve had or been handed down, co-sleeper, crib, bassinet, baby swing, the items are all on their third or fourth baby. I literally only bought a new dresser and a top of the line car seat bc it was the only thing I needed so I could splurge a bit on it. It’s nice to have multiples, I feel like I’m actually getting my money’s worth out of these items. Some of them went through my two boys, sisters two kids, and now are back to me.

    18. nonegiven*

      The only thing I believe about multiple showers is that people are to be invited to one of them. One at work, one for her mother’s church friends, lingerie shower for her friends, or one in his hometown and one in yours, etc.

    19. Kit*

      This thread is making me unexpectedly sad! I’m getting married in the winter but no one’s throwing me a bridal shower. I imagine my mother is expecting my maid of honour to, but she lives almost on the other side of the country (to be fair, my mom actually *does* live on the other side of the country— or rather, I do). I’m the only one of my university friends to have stayed in our university city, so my closest friends are scattered, and I’m a butcher, so my work friends are all men. They would never think of it. My nuptials feel under celebrated. :(

      1. TootsNYC*

        My sympathies! Those extra events are fizzy, and fun. That’s even better than the stuff (I didn’t need the stuff, but I enjoyed the showers immensely).
        It’s legitimate to be a little sad if they don’t happen in your life.

      2. Overeducated*

        I’m sorry! I didn’t have one either, for similar reasons, and it’s the hearing about everyone else’s that’s the worst part! I do think that the bridal shower tradition is anachronistic and needs to end but maybe I am just a grinch….

    20. Lady Blerd*

      An FB friend of mine had what looks like three showers (judging on the pictures) and it’s pretty obvious that it was not the same group of people at each one. The first one was a surprise. So I’d say it’s not the number of events so much as not inviting the same crowd to all of them and expecting gifts.

      I remember getting odd looks from people because they couldn’t understand why I didn’t throw a shower for my sister’s second baby although it was her first kid with my BIL. I put my foot down on that one but did chip in for a new stroller for baby #4.

    21. YaH*

      Yes, it’s incredibly rude to invite someone to a shower and not invite them to the wedding.

      I am still grumpy about bringing a pricey gift for a coworker’s bridal shower and then not being invited to the wedding. I don’t think any of the women in our office (who all attended the shower) were invited to the wedding.

    22. Mando Diao*

      I don’t mind it in theory. As people get older, get married, have kids, advance at work, it becomes harder and harder to get the group together. I’d stop giving gifts though.

    23. Mander*

      It seems like a lot and probably violates some etiquette rule or other, but it depends on the circumstances. In my experience it’s not the person who is getting married or having the baby who decides to have the party, and it seems like it’s more rude to say “I can’t have your party because I already went to someone else’s” than it is to just have them all and try to keep the gift-giving to a minimum.

      I’m imagining my own situation here — I’m an expat and I can easily imagine my family and friends in one country would have insisted on having a shower there as well as one here if I hadn’t been able to persuade the key people to save their money and just come to the other country for the wedding. I’m sure my sister had a shower for each of her kids (though they are one of each gender), and probably multiple ones, but that was down to friends and work colleagues deciding to do one independently.

    24. thehighercommonsense*

      I’d always heard one shower per event, because the idea is that your community is helping you out with the high set-up costs for a new stage in life that you wouldn’t have had the tools for. House stuff and baby gear gets expensive! Subsequent ones would be considered more superfluous than impolite, I think.

      That said, like others below, I think if multiple people want to throw you one, good for them, as long as the guest lists don’t overlap. Especially these days when family and friends live further apart. If multiple showers makes folks uncomfortable, you can always try to re-direct to a “yay getting married” or “yay new generation” party, without making it explicitly a shower.

    25. Clever Name*

      Is the bride or expectant mom throwing these showers themselves? Usually other people host the showers, and I feel like it would be rude to say, “you know, I can’t accept this nice gesture because it would seem gift-grabby.”

      I’m recalling to my own wedding nearly 16 years ago, and I had an impromptu engagement party (I was visiting home just after getting engaged, and my mom invited some family and friends to dinner and someone brought champagne), two showers, and a bridesmaid’s brunch the morning of the wedding.

      I do think that 5 showers is a lot, but the bride likely isn’t throwing any of them.

    26. INTP*

      I think it’s pretty standard and acceptable to have two showers with distinct guest lists – one more traditional for family and one for friends (though some overlap is okay). My cousin just did that, and invited me to both but made it clear that she didn’t expect more than one gift from any person. More than one shower with the same guest list seems like a gift grab to me, and more than three total (family, friends, coworkers) is iffy.

      And definitely no one at the bridal shower who isn’t invited to the wedding.

    27. Not*

      I thought etiquette required invitation to wedding also…but apparently not.
      Was invited to a cousin’s shower (third) but not wedding. One person told me that showers are a nice way to include people if one is trying to keep wedding small…still seemed like a gift grab to me three different sets of friends hosted each shower….

      1. Honeybee*

        I’ve heard that from people, too, but I don’t buy it. The purpose of the event in the name – you’re supposed to “shower” the bride with gifts for her upcoming wedding – and they were originally supposed to be more intimate, not less, than the wedding. In fact, I’d say that I’m more likely to feel less included if you invite me to an event designed to give you gifts but not to the event designed to help you celebrate newly married life.

        But I’m one of those people who doesn’t get hurt either way. I’m 30 and quite frankly, I’m wedding’d out. I’d rather send you a nice gift and stay home!

    28. Honeybee*

      I think norms have changed a little bit since people started living further away from their natal families. I think it’s less about the number of showers per se than the number of people getting invited to each, and who. For example, let’s say my friend Violet lives and works in Seattle, but was born and raised in Dallas. Let’s also say she’s a second-generation immigrant and her extended family is all in Nigeria. I wouldn’t be surprised or think it was a breach of etiquette if she had three showers – one thrown by a friend here in Seattle; one thrown by her sister in Dallas; and one thrown by a great-aunt in Nigeria. That just indicates that she’s got people who love her in three different locations who want to celebrate with her.

      BUT don’t invite me to all three, expect me to show up, and give you a gift for all three. It’d also be weird if she had three showers in Seattle, or two showers in Dallas and expected me to travel and give her a gift for both.

      Even if that is the case, though, there’s definitely a fatigue involved in being invited to several events for the same engagement. I mean, if you have an engagement party in your hometown, a bridal shower here, and a bachelorette party in Vegas for the weekend, and I’m expected to travel for two of those and buy you a gift for two of those…it gets to be a bit much.

  9. Chelsea*

    I’ve been trying to change my life and “grow up”. I started working in a bar right after high school and for the last 3 years I didn’t do much except work and socialize. I saw some pictures of me right after New Years and I didn’t like at all what I saw. I stopped dying and bleaching my hair in January and let the roots grow out for 6 months. I bought new clothes that looked more grown up and classic, instead of the short, low, tight stuff I was used to wearing. I got a job at a pub which is more family oriented and away from the bar scene. I’ve signed up for business classes at night school part time. I switched out fake nails for my real ones kept short with just regular polish and I no longer own makeup and only tint my eyelashes and wear lip gloss. I also moved across the state back home and am living near family in my grandfather’s basement so he isn’t alone and has someone to help him around the house.

    It’s been 6 days since I quit smoking, moved, started my new job, started going to school, started wearing my new clothes and stopped wearing makeup. I also cut off all the bleached hair and extensions and now I have a pixie with my natural color. I like all the changes I’ve made and don’t regret them. I feel like my life is better already. I’ve even cut back on social media and made a new Facebook profile that is just for keeping up with family. The only thing that is bugging me is my hair. I don’t regret cutting it and stopping with the bleach and extensions. It’s so much healthier but it’s a dark brown color and it feels so dull. I know I just need to get used to it though because it doesn’t feel like me and looks so different from what I’m used to.

    (This blog has been helpful in my plan to mature and grow up. I’ve learned so much. Thanks tof Alison and everyone here.)

    1. anon again*

      Good for you for making changes you wanted to. Regarding you hair – if you can afford to, talk with a hairdresser about options for highlights or coloring. There are ways to enhance or modify your natural color and still look “adult”.

    2. Al Lo*

      Could you look at hair color that feels less dull, but also less “wild” than your previous colors? I really love it when I have fresh hair color in something totally “grown up” — chestnut brown, something with a bit of auburn, or something like that. My eyes really pop with a darker brown, and I love how refreshing it feels to have that fresh color. My natural hair also feels fairly dull and dishwater, so I like to add something with more shine and more nuance to the color.

      *Full disclosure, I’m a “grown up” with a professional job, albeit in the arts, with (right now quite faded) blue, teal, and purple “mermaid hair,” so I don’t think that being a grown up and having fun hair are mutually exclusive, but if you want to go with more natural colors, there are ways to do that without feeling dull.

    3. Not Settled*

      If you’re bored with your hair, an “adult” thing to do would be to find a stylist you like. Plenty of people go once a month or two and consider the cost “self-care”. Self-care is very important to your mental health so you’re not focusing on being serious/working all the time/not letting yourself relax.

    4. Chelsea*

      ^Thank you both for the replies to my post :)

      I’m not looking to do anything with my hair that involves dying or highlighting it. Part of this change I wanted to make is to be less “high-maintenance” and vain (I’m not saying that people who dye their hair are these things, I mean my case and myself only). I do also want to save money and spend less on my looks and work more on what’s inside me. I got used to everything else pretty quickly so maybe my hair will just take a little bit longer. I didn’t realize how I attached I was to my blonde hair and extensions and I feel like I need to work on self acceptance more.

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        Congrats on your life changes! What about fun barettes or hair clips? I’ve seen decorated bobby pins that would be cute in a pixie. Or you could make your own if you’re crafty!

      2. Tax Accountant*

        There is that John Freida shampoo, and I had a friend who used the red one, and it definitely brought out the red in her hair, so you might try that if you want something lower maintenance than full blown dying it. Or semi-permanent dye you can do yourself. I am hair-challenged, but had good luck playing around with that when I was in my 20s.

        Now that I’m in my 30s, nothing replaces a very talented hair dresser. I don’t dye my hair or anything, but a really good haircut is worth every single penny.

        1. themmases*

          I was going to suggest the same product. I used the tint or glaze for a while and really liked it. I am a natural brunette and was stopping dyeing my hair black at the time so I had this same problem… I wanted to stop using dye but I looked mousy to myself.

          It’s very cost effective– a single bottle would last me months and I had long hair. I only used it a couple of times a week when I felt like it, not high maintenance at all.

      3. Mallory Janis Ian*

        For the hair, since you’re not into makeup anymore, maybe experiment with clothing colors that you really like and that complement your current look. Color that you feel good wearing can do a lot to lift your spirits and give you confidence, and it can be fun!

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            I keep thinking of one more thing, lol. With shorter hair, you might also try different earring styles, if your ears are pierced. And if you decide to do any makeup, maybe go to Ulta or Sephora and have them give you a session with tips for your current style and coloring.

            1. Chelsea*

              Make up is not an option for me with what I am trying to do, but I will look into getting some nice earrings. Thank you for the suggestion :)

              1. JaneB*

                I love nice hair clips or barrettes too. They needn’t be expensive, but they change the shape of the cut a little, and can make your hair feel a little dressed up when it’s short (I’m currently wearing mine long because I found regular hairdresser visits hard to schedule and more of a pain/vanity thing than a self-care thing – braids and buns look professional enough for the work I do, and adding some fun or pretty clips, especially in winter when my dark brown-with-grey-threads hair colour looks and feels dull and depressing, gives me quick and easy options – and an occasional trim is enough.

                When I was younger I used to use henna-enriched shampoo (just an inexpensive brand) to bring out the redder lights in my dark hair – now I’m getting a little grey, it doesn’t seem to work as well, but might be worth trying for a small change.

                1. Not So NewReader*

                  When I started graying I put some drops of chamomile oil in my conditioner. This turned my hair a very soft blondish color. It looked natural, like my own color.

                  OP, it is amazing how you can change your hair by watching your water intake and trying to eat healthy. Even a half-baked attempt at these things will give you some difference.

                  I stopped using shampoo and conditioner entirely after a while. I will never go back. I use my organic body wash to do my hair . I stopped needing mousse, conditioner, hair spray, all that stuff. It’s like having someone else’s hair not my mop. Like you are saying I thought about “high maintenance” and “too many freakin’ products”.

                  LOL, with age, my hair is thinning. What used to take hours to dry with a dryer now can just air dry before work. I do make sure I give my scalp a good massage when I wash my hair and I will brush my hair upside down. It seems to help it, but that is just my experience and nothing scientific.

              2. ginger ale for all*

                Best wishes for your new groove. You said you’re not going to wear makeup anymore but please don’t skip the sunscreen. Skin cancer is no fun.

      4. Cam*

        My name’s Chelsea and I also have a short brown pixie cut! We should start a club. One way to look at it is that your hair cut itself is more unusual and edgy, even if your hair is brown. You’ll actually stand out more than with long blonde hair, which is pretty common. Pixie cuts are a little high maintenance if you want to maintain their shape (but definitely less than getting your hair regularly dyed). I usually get my hair cut pretty short by a professional about twice a year and then let it grow out in between and trim it myself. I also just found a place that will charge me the men’s hair cut prices instead of women’s, since in essentially getting a man’s hair cut and that drops $15 off my cut.

      5. Mockingjay*

        Check your clothing colors. I had light brown hair until I went prematurely white. I dyed it until I began to react to the dye and had to grow it out. (My hair is now completely white.) Suddenly I couldn’t wear camel, white, or pastel colors without looking like a ghost. Patterns also look weird on me now. I’ve been slowly replacing items in my wardrobe with warm and jewel tones in solids. I also use scarves on top of my old pale clothes as an inexpensive alternative to make them work for now.

        Also consider makeup colors. What worked with blonde coloring might be a little off with your natural brown hair. It’s a subtle difference. I wear much less makeup now; just a little bronzer to warm my skin and some concealer to even skin tone. Easy to maintain and much easier on my wallet!

        I get how you feel; it took me a while to embrace my “new” platinum look. I was startled when I looked in the mirror – what I saw didn’t match the previous mental picture I had of myself. Acceptance of your new look will take time, but less than you think.

        Here’s to you rocking your new look and positive lifestyle changes! Congratulations!

    5. Kittens*

      I’ve also been working on some grown-up stuff. For me doing the “adult” thing meant throwing away clothes with holes, picking new items with intent instead of just what’s fun, washing my hair more regularly, sticking to a cleaning and self-care schedule, going to bed without dishes in the sink, setting up an internet distraction blocker, etc. But! There are tons of awesome professional women with fake nails, blonde hair, makeup, etc., I think the key is how and how much. Sounds like you need some highlights! Since your hair is a pixie, make sure to talk to your stylist about putting something in that will grow out well.

      1. Kittens*

        Ahh sorry, missed the response about not wanting to dye it. In that case, short hair is PERFECT for accessories – even a simple clip with a cute small embellishment can make all the difference, plus you can do headbands that make it so you have to do even less work — all the more time to focus on yourself ;)

    6. StefanieRan*

      My natural hair color is what I call “boring brown,” so I use henna to dye it red. It requires pretty regular upkeep and I rely on pomade to dress up my pixie but I really like it this way. I’m not going natural until I go grey.
      After high school, I like to say my youth was “properly misspent.” That’s what it’s for! And I now have a life and career I love and still have fun and do things some people think are crazy. (Like riding bicycles really long distances.) It sounds like you’ve made some major changes to eliminate some unhealthy things in your life and you’re happy with the changes. You’ve got school and work down – now add some fun back in! Being a grownup doesn’t mean giving up all the fun things that make you happy if they do no harm.
      And big congrats on quitting smoking!

    7. Rebecca in Dallas*

      Yeah, definitely see a hairstylist! They should be able to add some highlights and cut it in a style that will fit your face shape. Also using the right products for your hair type can make a big difference.

      Congrats on the life changes! Sounds like they are all really good for you.

      1. Chelsea*

        ^The cut is a nice style, the stylist fixed it up properly after cutting off the dyed hair and extensions. With what I am trying to do highlights are not an option though.

        Thank you for the well-wishes :) they are appreciated.

    8. Chelsea*

      BTW I hope I didn’t offend anyone when I was talking about hair dying and being vain. I was meaning for myself only. I started bleaching my hair blonde and using extensions when I was 16. By the time I turned 18 and started working I was spending first hundreds and hundreds on my hair. If I wasn’t sleeping I was either shopping or at the salon or a bar. I drank lots and picked up smoking and weed use. I thank my lucky stars I didn’t fall into hard drugs. But I fooled around and socialized a lot. I didn’t try going to school and I didn’t try to read or keep up with the news. I think I was pretty shallow too. I want to be different then that and for me part of that means cutting back on the beauty stuff. I do have a nice haircut and will look into the suggestions for accessories.

      1. Reba*

        I had similar feelings about my dull hair when I moved to no coloring and a style that needs no maintenance (never blow dry, cut 2-3 times per year). Now I think it suits me :) I think it is so awesome that you have made all these intentional changes in your life! One thing that helped with the hair and just feeling a bit ‘less’ in that area was imagining all the books and movies I would get to enjoy with the money and time that used to go to salons and primping.

      2. Me2*

        Chelsea, good for you! I saw myself in your posts and replies. When I was your age I was hanging out with people who were into the party scene pretty hard, and realized I was just wasting my life. I made a lot of changes, like you’re doing, and my life has improved 1000%. Super proud of you, keep taking little steps. One day you will turn around and see how far you’ve come.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Agreed, you will not regret this at all. Matter of fact, you will be forever grateful that you did. I quit drinking when I was 21. (I was allowed to drink at age 7. Times were different then.) Not a big moral/religious decision on my part. Just that I wanted something more out of life. The only way I figured I would get something different was by forcing myself to drop the parts of my life I did not want. This left blank spots and I had to find things to fill in. I was surprised when a lot of my friends dropped out of my life. Then new friends came in and they were doing different things so I joined them. Congratulations on your new life and may you achieve all your goals!

    9. Temperance*

      Can you try a demipermanent wash to brighten it up? Or get some nice-looking highlights?

      1. Chelsea*

        ^Unfortunately with what I am trying to do neither of those are options for me. Thank you for the suggestions though :)

    10. TootsNYC*

      I saw some pictures of me right after New Years and I didn’t like at all what I saw.

      I just want to say–how empowered you must feel!

      All of those things you were doing that you’ve stopped are perfectly OK things for a person to do. (Well, I’m not a fan of smoking.)

      But how empowering for you to decide for yourself what you value, what you want, and what things you want to be part of your life. And to define for yourself what this journey means for you.

      You are a terrific person! I wish you all the best on your journey to self-acceptance. (You will get used to the change in a hair color; dark brown hair is incredibly sexy and powerful. And nowadays, it’s actually a bit attention-getting, because so many people are artificially blond.)

    11. Emmie*

      I am really proud of you! Making all of those changes in a short time period is hard, and you are a very strong person! Keep up the amazing work!

    12. TootsNYC*

      Oh, one other hair idea, if it fits with your sense of yourself now–it’s a product, but maybe it’s one you’ll think is OK.

      Shine serum is really great for unhighlighted hair. It makes it really shiny and silky, and especially w/ a pixie, that would look really nice.

      I knew someone once who went from shoulder-length black hair to a pixie, w/ lots of layers. Everyone else was all, “Ohhh, you cut your haaaaiiiirrr!” And I said, “Wow, that looks great–it really makes your eyes stand out, and your neck looks willowy. And your hair is so glossy, with all the layers, it looks like facets, like a black diamond.” We were never friends, but I think she really appreciated that. (I was the only person not whining and lamenting about her hair. It looked GREAT on her.)

      So maybe that little bit of styling aid would be enough to make you feel you’ve done something slightly special without really deviating from what you naturally look like.

      1. CM*

        Is there a specific product you recommend? I see all sorts of leave-in conditioner type things but I don’t remember seeing something labeled as “shine serum.”

        1. TootsNYC*

          Here are a few

          Special Effects Silk Drops sheer liquid silk smoothing & polishing hair serum
          L’Oreal Paris EverStyle Smooth & Shine Serum
          Gloss And Toss – The Best Hair Shine Serum
          Matrix Biolage Smoothing Shine Milk

          at Total Beauty (.com), there’s an article titled
          “14 Best Shine Serums and Sprays”

          But if you just google “shine serum,” you’ll find a ton.

    13. Dot Warner*

      Congrats on all the positive changes you’ve made! Well done!

      I agree with the suggestions about going short. My hair had been long for years until one day, a coworker was good-naturedly teasing me about how I always had it in a ponytail, and I realized, “Man, I really am in a rut!” The next day, I went to the salon and got a pixie! I’ve had short hair for the last couple of years and absolutely love it, and it’s really easy to dress it up with scarves/wraps or barrettes.

    14. France*

      I get being down by dark brown hair… but guess what? It can be amazing!

      In school people always told me my hair was blackish and dull, but after I started spending more time outdoors it started to get natural highlights. Now my hair is a beautiful copper colour and people are amazed when they see it in the sun! It is better highlighting than you can get in a salon, it certainly takes longer but will last.

      1. blackcat*

        Yep, time outside can really change hair color. When I was a kid and outdoors all the time, I had a layer of blond on top of my red hair. It was a pretty sweet look.

        On the opposite end of the spectrum, how do you feel about hats? I am super pale (see the red hair) and in my mid 20s in dawned on me that I totally need to do more to prevent/delay skin cancer (see the childhood spend outdoors). So now I have hats I wear all the time.

        Along a similar vein, what about colorful sunglasses?

        Colorful earrings often look great for folks with pixie cuts, so I’d second those. Do you live anywhere near a place with a really big farmer’s market? At least near me, there are some local artists who set up shop at the bigger farmer’s markets. A lot of them sell earrings. It’s a great way to get really unique stuff for not that much $$.

    15. Ever and Anon*

      That’s awesome and very mature of you!

      To break from other suggestions, while a pixie cut is nice, you could bite the bullet, be bored for a bit, and grow it. Then, your styling options increase – short hair but not pixie allows for a bob or playing with hair clips in fun ways, and long hair can be braided (a skill I would invest time in!). And you can also get to experiment with bangs of various sorts.

      And isn’t it funny how different people see things differently? I have boring mouse brown/dirty blond hair that I wear in a perpetual bun, and slightly envy dark brown hair – be it thick and curly or sleek and shiny.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This! And dark brown hair is really nice. I had been coloring mine a dark auburn (it was light reddish-brown in my youth) but the greys were hard to keep up with. I sort of miss it, though I’m enjoying the change of being blonde.

        Change is good, and it sounds like you’ve made some really awesome and mature decisions about your life, Chelsea. Go, you! \0/

    16. Belle diVedremo*

      Wow, good for you!
      Deciding you want to make changes and stepping into them, and feeling like your life is better already, is an achievement. Be proud of yourself.
      Let us know how you’re doing as you go along, please. It’s great to see someone doing so very well.

    17. Honeybee*

      I applaud you for making the decisions you felt were necessary to grow up and mature! Bravo! Making big life changes can be hard.

      BUT. You can have a fun and funky hair color and still be grown up. I know quite a few totally legit professional women who have bleached blonde hair or even colors that don’t occur in nature, like red, purple, blue, green, pink, etc.

      You don’t have to completely eliminate your sense of self to be an Adult ;)

  10. anon for this*

    Do other people not feel excitement about dates with people they otherwise like?

    I’ve been going on dates with this one guy who I like and has a lot of similar interests as me, but I’m not overly excited before we meet up and I don’t feel the need to talk to or see him everyday. That tends to be my m.o. for friends as well, so I don’t know if it’s just me, a habit because I tend to be solitary and haven’t dated in awhile, or if I should be feeling that effusive excitement.

    I feel guilty that he seems to be way more invested than I am, and I truly do like him and enjoy our time together, but I’m not….idk counting the day until we next see each other. It’s sort of like a “oh cool we have plans next Tues. See you then”. I feel this way about most people, but I just get the weird feeling that it’s wrong somehow.

    1. Aurora Leigh*

      I went on two dates with a guy I met online that I felt that way about. He was a nice guy, not creepy or crazy, but . . . I just felt meh about the whole thing. I’ve never dated, so no real comparisons, but when I realized I was more excited by the possibility that the cute checker might be working at the grocery store than I was to meet up with him.

      1. anon for this*

        I think my problem is that I’m pretty “meh” about everyone, friends or partners, so I don’t really have a comparison for dating that would tell me if I really am just “meh” about everyone or if I just haven’t met that one person that gets me all excited.

    2. Myrin*

      I’m on the grey-/asexual side of things and don’t have any experience with dating but I bet that, should I ever be with someone, I’d be exactly the same way. It’s how I am about basically anyone and anything. I’m just not a very excitable person; I’ll be happy or glad about something but there are very, very few things I get all ZOMG AMAZEBALLS about and even with those, the novelty will wear off after a very short time.

      1. anon for this*

        I suspect I’m somewhere on the grey scale. I enjoy sex, but I can go years without it, and I enjoy human companionship and interaction, but I don’t need it 24/7.

        I feel like so many people talk about that “spark” when meeting new people or all-consuming love that I’ve just been sort of wondering if that’s something everyone experiences and if my casual almost indifference to hanging out with people isn’t so unusual.

        1. Myrin*

          I really think it’s just about the kind of person you are. My mum and grandfather are both exactlty the same way whereas my sister and grandmother are easily excited and, for a lack of better expression, “feel much more deeply” than me/mum/grandpa.

        2. Perse's Mom*

          You’re definitely not alone. I like the *idea* of a relationship way more than I actually enjoy being in one. I have almost negative social energy and very few friends; dating and relationship maintenance is so far above the level of mental energy that I have at any given time.

          (ex: I just got back in touch with one of my closest (!) friends after something like two years of no communication. This is not unusual for me when there’s no real online aspect to our friendship.)

          Also agree about the spark – Hollywood and TV sell us this idea of how friendships and love are “supposed” to be. It’s helpful for me to remember that BEST FRIENDS FOREVER! INSTANT ROMANCE! are just as choreographed and scripted (and therefore fake!) as fight scenes and CGI. At the *very* least, Hollywood leaves all the hard work that goes into those things (relationships that DO last) either on the cutting room floor or they save it for the BTS/deleted scenes on the Collector’s Edition Bluray. :D

    3. nep*

      So unexcited about dating that I don’t do it. As in can’t be bothered.
      (So I guess I’m in another boat altogether.)

      1. anon for this*

        Honestly, I didn’t date for a long time because I found it boring and an annoyance. The only reason I started up again was because I missed having more constant companionship now that most of my friends have moved away and are busy with families, and I suddenly find myself with a lot of free time.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        That was my thought as well.

        Being into someone doesn’t have to be ZOMG AMAZEBALLS–but you should be anticipating your get-together and thinking about them a lot. It’s okay if you like someone in more a friend way. Except, if he’s more into it than you are, then maybe it’s time to say something.

    4. TootsNYC*

      I don’t think you have to be excited, but you should feel a little bit of pleasurable anticipation.

      I might bail on this, if I were you. Or, classify it as a friendship.

    5. ginger ale for all*

      That is one of the down sides of dating, finding really nice guys who just aren’t the right guy. There isn’t anything wrong about them or you, the spark isn’t there.

    6. Dan*

      If he’s way more invested, it’s probably better to cut him loose now.

      The feelings thing would be different if both of you were “invested” at the same level. Then I’d say that you could continue to see him until you knew what (both) of you wanted out of it.

      When one really wants something that the other probably doesn’t, well that’s just awkward and ok to let go.

    7. misspiggy*

      If you don’t get excited about meeting others, it’s not necessarily a bad thing – but maybe this is a chance to evaluate what you want from dating. I wouldn’t say I’ve got excited to go on dates or see people, but I do pick up a clear sense of what I want from the person after a short while.

      I’ve asked myself things like : Do I want to go to bed with them? Do I want a cosy evening at my place cooking? Do I want to show them my favourite art gallery or band? Do I fancy lots of chats in the pub? If I’m not getting any internal yeses to those ideas, I’d conclude that the person isn’t for me. If I’m getting one or two ideas, but not a lot, I might want to check whether they are OK with just being friends.

    8. Ever and Anon*

      Completely agree with Dan! The relationship you describe is not likely to lead anywhere good long-term.

      Maybe the problem isn’t you, but the kind of company you keep. Are your friends all friends by proximity – work buddies, roommates, with no other binding agent (e.g., mutual world views or assistance through crises?)? How about your dating pool?

      To remedy this in dating, I would suggest changing what you present about yourself and who you tolerate seeing. Narrow the appeal of your dating profile, don’t hide your mildly controversial (for your area) politics or hobbies, be willing to drop an aesthetic standard (e.g., “must have PhD, no tattoos”), and see what you get! Good luck!

      1. anon for this*

        No, my friends are friends I’ve known for years, from college or high school with similar world views and who’ve been there for the good times and bad. I love them dearly and enjoy seeing them, but it’s just not a “omg we’re hanging out tonight I am counting down the hours!” and more of a “oh cool we have plans”.

        It’s literally like that with everyone, even people I would be sad not to have in my life, so I don’t think it’s really the company I keep and really is just how I am. I already present myself that way when I make new friends or date, so it’s not like I’m hiding anything or choosing aesthetics I don’t like. I just don’t feel overwhelming excitement about most social interactions. They’re something that happen, not something I need to look forward to, you know? But I’m starting to see that I guess that’s not….normal? IDK.

        1. Myrin*

          Please don’t feel like your unnormal, anon! Like others said above, the idea that you need to be EXCITED!!1! about relationships (any relationships, really, not just romantic ones) is something that is oversold by the media anyway – I’d guess that in general, many people have feelings that are much calmer than the EXCITEMENT~~~ shown in movies or TV. It feels like you feel like you have to be EXCITED or otherwise you aren’t reacting in a “normal”/appropriate/expected human way when in fact, well, this is just who you are and that’s perfectly fine.

          And I’d say that you don’t have to feel excited at all because really, what’s so extremely exciting about most of that stuff anyway? I’d say it’s completely fine to feel happy or content or like you can honestly say to yourself “I like that I did/will do this thing”. I really do believe it’s enough.

          As for a romantic relationship, if you feel like the other person is much more invested in the relationship than you are, I wouldn’t say that really has anything to do with being excited or not. It just seems like his feelings for you run deeper than your feelings for him. You can love someone dearly and still be devoid of a feeling of constant ANTICIPATION and EXCITEMENT whenever it comes to them. I’m someone who loves like that. For me, it means liking someone. Getting along with them. Laughing together. Genuinely liking someone as a person. Feel good when I’m with that person. Have a good time with them. Joking together. Things like that. It doesn’t have to revolve around excitement at all.

          1. Lady Kelvin*

            I second this, I was never OMG THIS IS AMAZING when I was dating my now husband. It was more like, ok this is fun, I guess it’ll end when it stops being fun. And then a year later we were both like, oh, we are still together and I don’t hate you, let’s see where this goes. I am head over heals in love with him, but it took over a year for me to feel anything more than, oh this guys is fun to be around I’ll keep seeing him. He’s still my favorite person to hang out with, and we’ve been together 7 years, 3 married. So not being super excited isn’t a deal breaker, my approach to dating was when its not fun anymore I’ll end it, and it just happened that it never stopped being fun with Lord Kelvin. I agree that you want to think about what you want out of your dating life. A long term partner/marriage? Maybe not date people you are only meh about. A good time/someone to have fun with even if it doesn’t last? Why stop seeing someone if you are still having fun together?

    9. INTP*

      I don’t feel excited about dates unless I’m already in the grip of infatuation. It’s the main reason I haven’t tried online dating. I’m pretty sure I’d just end up flaking out on any dates because in the moment I’d rather spend free time alone than with a new person.

    10. mehowe*

      I am currently in the process of a nasty divorce after 24 years of a less-than-great marriage. Right now I am content with the prospect of becoming a crazy cat lady in the future. I will not absolutely rule out dating in the future, but I cannot see myself feeling giddy or excited about the prospect. I think that if I ever do re-partner it will be for companionship and not a great romance. So I think there’s nothing wrong with not being wildly infatuated, but if you think he is feeling more than you are (he may just be more demonstrative and not necessarily more invested), it would be kind to have a discussion.

    11. Yetanotherjennifer*

      I think “oh cool we have plans” IS excitement. I’d be more suspicious of “oh I suppose we can get together.” We are not all guaranteed a fireworks romance if we just keep searching, and the presence of fireworks is no guarantee of a lasting relationship. If you enjoy his company and he’s not trying to buy furniture with you on a date then there’s no reason you can’t go on as you are. You like him and you have similar interests, that’s a really good start. Maybe you’ll catch-up to him in investment levels. Maybe you won’t, but as long as you’re open and honest and continue to have a good time in his company then go ahead and enjoy things on your own level.

  11. Not Settled*

    I know we’ve had some gray A/ace conversations here, but is anyone aromantic? I’ve never been in romantic love, and believe me, I’ve dated all sorts of people trying to find it. I’ve made some great friends, had a few FWB, but nothing that makes me feel anything like what my other married friends and family have. Thing is, I really want kids. Well, I want to be married with kids, since having them on my own is practically impossible. Is it settling if I just decide to marry someone who I’m friends with so I can have kids? I don’t know if I even want to use the word settling, because I don’t know if I can attain romantic love.

    1. Ex Resume Reviewer*

      I’m card-carrying childfree (sterilized)… but I think if you truly want kids you should pursue that. You don’t have to be married to raise a child successfully, though the extra income and assistance helps I’m sure.

      I think once I was romantically in love for about… a month? Then it kind of wore off and was pleasant. Then I got sick of him and broke up about month 4. That’s it, except for some childhood crushes. I’m okay with that. I think if I ever really got attached to someone they’d have to live a few doors down at least. I love my own space, and I imagine that person will be a gamer so we’d need space for multiple beast computers/TV+console setups anyway….

      1. nep*

        I’ve never had any inclination to marry, but I always reckoned that if I did for whatever reason, we’d certainly have to have different living quarters.

    2. Elizabeth*

      Who says you need to be in romantic love with someone to have a life partner? You can have a best friend/most important person/partner in crime without being in love with them and wanting to date them, right? If you are committed to spending the rest of your lives together I don’t see why you can’t have them be your co-parent, too, including marriage if you want. That’s not settling at all! That sounds amazing! (Although, full disclosure, I am also probably aromantic, so I might be biased.)

      As to having kids on your own, I have no personal experience with this but my understanding is that there are options, like sperm donation.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Everyone has their own idea of what love looks like. I was more of a practical thinker than some of my friends were. I saw my parents go through some super difficult stuff and it made me think about someone who would not run away when the going got tough. I looked at how a guy handled difficulty- everyday type difficulties and life changing type difficulties.
        So maybe some people would say that I did not have enough focus on romance or sex. Well, for them that could be true. I met a guy who would sit down and talk to a sick, dying person later he would play with that unruly pup. And my heart turned to mush. Here was a guy who showed by his actions he understood the wide range of stuff that life throws at us. And that was what I needed.
        If you go by what your friends are describing, please remember, that this is a relationship that fits THEIR needs and not yours. They are talking about what they value in a relationship. You do not have to value the same things. It just makes sense that your experience would be different.

        It’s through our friends that we learn the beginning stuff about love and marriage. Think about the times your friends have touched your heart. This begins to give you insight to what you DO value in a SO. When your friends are talking about this or that with their relationships, ask yourself, “is this something I value too?” You might be surprised at the answer.

    3. Dan*

      I might be aromantic, still trying to figure that out. I wasn’t in love with my ex wife, and well see how that worked out.

      I have what amounts to an FWB, but let me say that there is certainly some F with the B. It’s not just the later. The thing is, we never explicitly defined anything. It is what it is, and I’m quite happy with it for the foreseeable future.

      In this day and age, I’d say that as long as both parties are on the same page, have at it.

    4. Ever and Anon*

      This is a really tough one to do gracefully or fairly. I once went to a wedding where the preacher said, “respect precedes love”. I don’t think sparks have to fly too much or for very long before you settle into “old couple” routine, but you must be ready to respect him, support him through hard times, enjoy sex with him (even if not with wild abandon).

      Anything less – say, a situation like the previous commenter’s, but ending in marriage – is almost certainly based on a lie somewhere along the way, is 99.9% unlikely to satisfy you, is very likely to end in divorce, and is unfair to the poor guy who went along with it, or to the kids that get caught inthe middle.

      1. Honeybee*

        Hm, I commented with the assumption that Not Settled was going to be upfront with her friend about not wanting a romantic and/or sexual relationship at the outset and the partner/friend being okay with that arrangement. It doesn’t have to be based upon a lie.

        If by Dan’s comment we’re talking about two ‘friends with benefits’ who decide, fully knowledgeable, that they want to formalize the friends with benefits relationship into a marriage (but don’t characterize that marriage with romantic love) or a domestic partnership and co-parenting relationship, I don’t see how that’s a lie. It’s not even particularly non-traditional, as people have been arranging marriages with others for reasons other than romantic love for as long as humans have existed. Seriously, marrying someone you fell in romantic love with first is kind of a modern concept. Marrying someone you respect and want to share economic and parenting responsibilities with isn’t really so out-there.

    5. Honeybee*

      That’s not settling, that’s just choosing an alternate and perfectly acceptable arrangement for co-parenting. You may find another gray Ace who wants to share that lifestyle with you – wants a family, and wants a friendly and deep partnership but isn’t interesting in a romantic relationship. I think there are lots of different ways to have a family.

  12. Kittens*

    We got our new foster cat this morning! Our last one (14 year-old black cat with medical problems) went to her forever home last week, it’s amazing. New girl is a gray 2 year-old sweetheart who was rescued from the same extreme hoarder situation as our last foster. She’s also declawed! Poor thing :(

    Anyone have any tips for best integrating clawed and declawed cats? I have three other cats all of whom are friendly and sweet, but, as cats do, they use their claws as a warning sign, to help them grab things, scratch posts, etc. Outside of very slow introductions, anyone have experience with this?

    1. Shel*

      We have had a mix of both – shelter kitties who came to us declawed, a feral rescued at 5 weeks, etc. I’ve never had a problem! Declawed kitties seem to “bop” harder to get their point across, and do the same clawing behaviors, just with soft paws on the furniture. Read up on integrating cats. I’ve had some take to each other right away, and two boys who ignored each other completely for 10 years. Cats are weird!

    2. NN*

      We’ve similarly had no problems with our clawed and declawed foster kitties getting along. Just like Shel said, the declawed kitties tend to bop others harder; I found they also used to be more physical in other ways like jumping and sitting on each other. But they’d still sit on your lap and ‘knead’ and stretch out grabbing furniture (which with the clawed kitties would be the start of shredding the couch). We just introduced them the way we’d introduce any new kitty, and aside from some usual ‘new cat’ shenanigans, all was fine.

      1. Kittens*

        Awesome, thanks Shel and NN! I’ve spent the day checking in on her at base camp (closet) and she is so mellow and sweet. We’ve fostered many and are really comfortable with the slow kitty meeting process, just wanted to make sure there wasn’t anything we were missing. She’s very ginger with her front paws, but other than that seems just fine :)

      2. Cam*

        I’ll pipe in and say I had the same experience with introducing a declawed cat to a clawed household. Something to keep in mind, is that most cats like to threaten but not actually fight. So the clawed cats might raise a paw or even swipe in warning, but they aren’t going for real damage and rarely penetrate the fur even if they do actually hit the other cat. In my experience, cats that are trying to cause damage to an opponent are going to use teeth, so at that point they are on equal footing.

        When my cats play fight, the declawed one will roll on her belly, wiggle it to lure the other cats in, and then attack with her hind legs (which still has claws). So they figure out ways to hold their own.

        1. Kittens*

          HA! Awesome. I hadn’t thought about that – my clawed kitties play fight all the time and yes, it really is more about pawing/swiping rather than actual claw digging.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I had a declawed rescue and I adopted another rescue with claws.
      It went okay because both cats were the same temperament. I had one day where they started to hiss at each other. I just happened to have a large laundry basket in my hands and I very carefully set it down between the two of them. Because they were similar temperaments both went off to their respective corners. I never had another problem.
      While they did not snuggle with each other they would eat out of the same dish together. And they would play tag at 2 am.

    4. Kit*

      You need lots of perches/hiding spots so they can all escape each other without argument. If the new girl can get away quickly and keep to herself while everyone acclimates there will be fewer incidents. Keep in mind that declawed cats aren’t completely defenceless, she’ll still be able to swipe as a warning and box if she needs to make a stronger statement.

      1. Kittens*

        Interesting! Our apartment is cat paradise – every room has multiple trees, hiding spots, scratching posts, etc. and we have full cat super highways a la Jackson Galaxy everywhere – so hopefully it’s enough for her. Two of mine are scaredy cats, one is more of a bully/alpha cat — but we do SO much to drain their energy and get their hunting out of the way with play (Da Bird cat toys are where it’s at).

        1. Jen RO*

          Your apartment sounds amazing! We dreamed of a “cat highway” going from room to room, but unfortunately it’s a bit difficult to drill such big holes in the walls.

          1. Kittens*

            It’s pretty awesome! Drilling was admittedly hell, we used several boxes of anchors to get them all to stay. The smallest ones (we have stairs) were the absolute hardest and put quite a few unnecessary holes in the walls. We also make our own cat trees!

    5. Perse's Mom*

      Other people have already given some advice, so I’ll just say thank you for fostering!
      *eyeballs personal foster failure curled up on top of cat tree*

  13. Aurion*

    I’d like to thank the person who asked about weightlifting in an open thread a few weeks back, and also thank whoever recommended New Rules of Lifting for Women.

    I actually got the book Strong by the same authors (I joined two online communities for women who lift using the NRoL books, and all of them said Strong was the better book–it is apparently the spiritual sequel to NRoLFW), and I’m really, really enjoying the workouts. (And I appreciate that it’s an organized whole-body program that doesn’t try to start with barbells right off the bat!) I never thought I’d look forward to the gym, but I was wrong! My thoughts lately have been more “hurts so good” rather than “$@#&*^# DOMS”, which is amusing me quite a bit. :)

    1. LizB*

      Okay, question: do those books have particular workout sequences/plans in them? If so, how the heck do you remember the sequence when you’re actually at the gym? Maybe my memory is terrible, but I would never be able to remember which moves and how many reps and sets to do without having a cheat sheet in front of me. I have enough trouble with a strength training class led by an instructor — I know what to do because they tell me, but I can never remember how much weight I used last class for each set of moves, so I never know for sure if I’m using the same amount. I’d love to do some more independent strength training, but I don’t want to look like a weirdo with my little checklist.

      1. Aurion*

        They do!

        In Strong, the workouts are divided into 3 phases, each phase has 3 stages, and each stage has 2-3 workouts, meant to alternate. (I looked into Stronglifts and Starting Strength, but it was 1) too advanced for me–I can’t walk in cold and deadlift an Olympic barbell, even with just the bar; 2) too boring, because I’d be doing the same workout every day. I like the variation.) All the workouts are tabulated and each move is documented in the back. They also tell you how long to do each move or how many reps. The only thing it doesn’t tell you is what weight you’ll start with, because it depends on what your baseline is; you find that out by trial and error within the first few workouts.

        So for example, right now I’m in Phase 1, Stage 1. It has two workouts, A and B, meant to be done 6 times each (for beginners; you can shorten it to 4 times each if you want). So I’d do Workout A six times and Workout B six times before I “graduate” from Stage 1. Both Workout A and Workout B tells you to do these two moves (or variations) for the core, these two moves for upper body strength, and these two moves for lower body strength, and advises you on time/reps. (Said moves differ between A and B, obviously.) And all the moves are documented in the back so you know exactly what they meant by “suspended jackknife”.

        As for remembering the moves, I don’t; the book wants you to copy down the table and record your weight/reps/time because that’s how you know you’ve improved. So if I squatted 15 lbs x 12 reps on Monday, write it down; then I know I had improved if I squatted 20 lbs x 12 reps on Friday. I’m pretty sure all lifters who are serious about improving track their progress; I just prefer pen and paper (because it’s not as big of a deal if they get damaged; my first time I brought my book it fell down and got caught in the elliptical and the machine gouged a chunk out of the book. I’m glad it wasn’t my phone!)

        Having a notebook on the side is not a big deal. I don’t see a lot of people with pen and paper, but I figure they might be recording on their phones. I actually bring the book with me so I can look up moves I’m not familiar with; I just keep my notebook and my book out of the way.

        1. LizB*

          This is really good to know! I guess I’ve never really watched the people lifting at my gym, so I never noticed any notebooks. Glad to hear I wouldn’t be the only person writing stuff down or consulting a list.

      2. Emilia Bedelia*

        That’s actually exactly what a lot of people do- bring a checklist. If you go to the gym and watch the really serious lifters, many will have little notebooks that they write their workouts in.
        You can also use an app to keep track- I like Fitocracy because you get points for logging exercises and you can level up! :)

        1. LizB*

          That’s good to know! I’m a pen-and-paper fan, so I’d use a little notebook too — I already have one I keep at the gym for just recording what I did each time I go in broad terms (e.g. “2 miles on treadmill” or “strength training class”), so I could take that out to the floor with me and use it for more detailed tracking pretty easily.

      3. Anxa*

        This is actually why I didn’t go the route of NRoLfW…I just knew myself too well to know I couldn’t remember the routines or even how to do them.

        I ended up going with SL 5 x 5 just because it was so much simpler for me to remember. I was enjoying it, but I was in a fender bender some weeks back and don’t feel safe working out until I see a doctor.

        I knew I’d hate bringing around a checklist; just keeping track of my keys is enough for me. I tend to track my workouts at home or work right before and after I go as an alternative.

  14. Legalchef*

    So as I mentioned in the work open thread, I’m pregnant! 5 weeks! It’s our first, and I’m feeling very John Snow about things – as in, I know nothing!

    Does anyone have any advice on being pregnant? What to expect? Things to get to make the pregnancy easier? Brands of maternity clothes to recommend? We aren’t telling real life people yet (as opposed to to you lovely internet strangers), so I can’t ask my sister or friends who’ve already been there, so any suggestions would be appreciated!

    1. Tax Accountant*

      Get the Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy. A lot less fear-inducing than What to Expect. I bought most of my maternity clothes at Old Navy, thrift shops, and a few at Target. I got one very pretty and expensive dress at Isabella Oliver, which I do not regret one bit.

      Congratulations! It’s very surreal for a while.

      1. Legalchef*

        Thanks!!! We have a wedding in October so I’m going to need a fancy dress. I’ll check out that book too.

      2. Saro*

        Completely agree with the Tax Accountant. The Mayo book was great for me. I also found eBay helpful for Maternity clothes. I hope you don’t have any hip pain but if you do, the snoogle pillow was a life saver for me!

    2. Ellie H.*

      I’d suggest Expecting Better by Emily Oster (an economist) – it’s a great book even if you are not pregnant because it’s such a great presentation of economics principles. It advises what is actually sensible to do and what you don’t really need to worry about so much.

      1. Legalchef*

        Thanks! Actually, I think I got that for my best friend a couple years ago when she was pregnant and she really liked it.

      2. Nina*

        Seconded! That book has kept me sane throughout my first pregnancy. Also, in a similar vein, The Science of Mom by Alice Callahan and The Informed Parent by Haelle and Willingham. They’re more focused on parenting choices post-pregnancy, though, so Expecting Better is a good place to start.

        1. kzkz*

          I would also suggest Expecting Better, for sure. I also read the Informed Parent and I found it a bit less useful because it tries to cover a lot more ground but in less depth than the first.

    3. Amadeo*

      Can’t answer any of your questions because I have not been pregnant myself, but if it makes you feel any better, my mother once called my grandmother shortly after I was born, totally in tears, and wailed at Gran that she was sure she was going to kill me because she had no idea what she was doing!

      I survived. ;)

    4. Katie the Fed*

      Open a 529 college savings plan today! I already have one for my not-yet-conceived child :)

    5. Cristina in England*


      My top tips are mostly about clothes. Instead of buying just maternity clothes, see if you can get breastfeeding tops or dresses, since they’re usually cut to be worn during and after pregnancy (ignore this if you aren’t planning on breastfeeding). I got most of my maternity clothes on EBay for next to nothing. No shame in wearing your maternity linen trousers with a six month old baby… ahem.

      Oh, and maternity yoga pants are the best thing ever.

      Being pregnant and due in Feb/March will mean your body will be toasty throughout the winter, yay!

      Baby Meets World by Nicholas Day is a great book. It isn’t a how to or anything, it is about babies through the ages and across cultures, and makes the point that there are tons of ways or bringing up a baby and every way feels like the only way to the people who practice it.

    6. Mkb*

      Yes! I just had my first baby this week! For maternity clothes I liked motherhood maternity (their store brand and the Jessica Simpson line), old navy and pink blush maternity. I work in a casual office and bought 3 pairs of work pants, 1 pair of jeans and about 8 shirts. Once it got hot out I bought 1 pair of denim shorts and a casual dress both of which I only wore on weekends.

      I hope you don’t get morning sickness! Weeks 6-14 were not the most fun for me but all still bare able and well worth it.

      1. Cristina in England*

        Congrats! Since you have a brand new baby you have reminded me that I usually recommend a red light in the bedroom so you can see the baby in the middle of the night but red light doesn’t disrupt your sleep rhythms. I sleep with one on all night, it is great. I have an LED light bulb with remote which means I can lower it or turn it off from bed if I want to.

      2. Legalchef*

        Congrats!!! I hope you and baby are both doing well :)

        No real morning sickness yet, just a couple bouts of mild nausea. But I’m guessing it’s coming.

        My office is business casual, so I’m trying to figure out what I’ll do in the winter. I usually wear mostly dresses, with tights in the winter, so I guess I’ll need to find some maternity tights that don’t roll down. I will also need some more formal stuff for court.

    7. Jubilance*

      Read “Expecting Better” by Emily Oster – lots of evidence-based active and she translates scientific studies into easy-to-understand language for non-science people. It’s been my fave resource so far.

      I’m currently 15 weeks with my first baby so I’ve been learning a lot myself. Figure out what works for you – for example, I managed to keep my morning sickness at bay by having a snack at like 2AM every night. Some women don’t have that problem. Also get ready to have your entire body start changing right from the beginning, that part was very surprising to me. I also like to have support, so I joined a FB group for plus size moms and I browse the forums on Glow Nurture quite a bit.

      Best of luck! Here’s to a healthy and happy pregnancy!

    8. Temperance*

      Check your local thrift shop for clothing, if you live in a nice area with good thrift stores. Women hardly wear their maternity stuff and at least in my area, maybe only have one kid so it’ s barely used stuff, name brand, for peanuts compared to what Motherhood charges.

      1. Legalchef*

        That’s a really good idea, especially since I will need a winter coat and don’t want to spend that much on it.

    9. Sami*

      Another great book is “Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe (and Parents Sane) by Gavin de Becker. Same author as “The Gift of Fear”. Both are excellent.

    10. The Rat-Catcher*

      Get a generic phrase (mine is “just ready to meet baby!”) And have it ready for the overly intrusive personal questions you will encounter. It’s been a lifesaver when people have asked about things like my genitalia (I wish I was kidding).
      Also, you’ll never hear about it, but it’s very common for a pregnancy to go past its due date and it’s frustrating if it does. Try not to think of it like a baby deadline.
      I’m due tomorrow and labor’s not even trying to start :(

    11. New Bee*

      Congratulations! I’m currently pregnant (23 weeks), and the only thing I’d add is that Ross is great for maternity clothes–very affordable, and since they sell stuff from so many different brands I often find flowy/stretchy non-maternity wear that fits there (maxi dresses, t-shirts, etc).

      I love the comment below about a generic response to intrusive questions, and I’d add to seek out/confide in friends or family with a similar outlook. I’m pretty low-key, (not really into taking a bunch of bump pictures, don’t feel a special “maternal glow”, etc.), so I don’t spend as much time with “every day is a major milestone” types, especially since they tend to worry a lot, and I’m more “Eh, I turned out fine.” On the other hand, if you really want to obsess over your baby constantly, many folks are happy to oblige, so get in where you fit in. :-)

      And stay off the internet! Not literally, but nothing good comes from Google in the first trimester.

      1. Overeducated*

        YES. Most of the time Google will tell you it’s cancer. With pregnancy Google will tell you it could be a miscarriage. Fortunately by the time the kid is born the Internet mostly retreats to “talk to a medical professional.”

        My main advice for pregnancy is find an OB or midwife you trust, but feel comfortable and empowered enough to questuob or disagree with. There are legitimately different approaches to decision making in pregnancy and childbirth, around tests, interventions, etc., and finding someone who makes you part of the process is as important as finding someone you think shares your preferences.

    12. WT*

      Congrats! Don’t worry you feel unsure, I would wager to say that is the normal feeling. One thing I did for clothes was go out and buy a bunch of comfy empire waste maxi dresses. They were comfy and grew with my during my pregnancy and afterwards were more usable than maternity clothes.

    13. Yetanotherjennifer*

      Pregnancy is different for everyone so do your best to enjoy what you’re experiencing and give yourself plenty of room to be emotional, sick or too tired to go to work. Remember that whole thread we had on when it’s ok for someone else to call on the employee’s behalf? My husband called-in for me the morning I was so tired the thought of rolling over made me cry. If you’re going to have a shower and register for gifts, don’t leave it too late. We finally registered when I was 7 months along and I was so full of hormones I was trying to bond with the babies on the packaging while my engineer husband tried to scientifically determine the best of everything. The memory is hilarious now, but the experience wasn’t so much. Save some of your clothing budget for those last few weeks when you feel as big as a house. A cute little something new will do wonders for your mood.

      1. Yetanotherjennifer*

        Also, I don’t know why, but people will want to tell you about their labor horror stories. Or they’ll want to tell you dead baby stories and bad mommy stories. Feel free to stop them mid-story and blame your rudeness on the hormones.

  15. Former Diet Coke Addict*

    So: yesterday was my last day at work, tomorrow we take the cats to be boarded, Monday we do laundry and pack our things that can’t be transported, Tuesday we’re meeting with the lawyers and having the house cleaned, Wednesday the packers and loaders come to cart off all of our stuff, Thursday we drive to our new duty station and pick up the cats and have our final walk-through on the new home and have the closing meeting with that lawyer, Friday we get the keys to the new house, and we can expect our stuff to arrive “anywhere from 2 to 10 days” after Wednesday. So…maybe Friday, maybe not until the 23rd. Then they’ll unpack, take away the boxes, and this will all be over.

    It will be a little busy!

    1. fposte*

      I missed the moving backstory, FCDA–how far is this? It sounds like quite a relocation.

      1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

        This one is easy–it’s only about 250km to the next duty station, much easier than our last move (16-hour drive!). It’s “easy” in the sense that we can drive there in a couple of hours, rather than having to deal with a plane on top of everything.

        I’m still ready for it to be over, though!

    2. TootsNYC*

      Normally I get jealous and excited when I read about people taking off on these sorts of “all new life!” adventures.

      But I just had a brief panic attack, reading your list.
      Nothing to do with you, particularly, but perhaps a warning light for me. So, thanks for that (seriously).

      And best of luck with it all! Hope you find some cool things in your new place–places to go, interesting quirks in the house, etc.

  16. Ellie H.*

    I know there are a bunch of DC people here – I’m going to be in DC for a two-week long seminar at one of the museums there the last two weeks of July, and would love to hear any tips for fun or off the beaten path-type stuff to do. I’ve been there many times so I’ve done all the typical stuff – I’m interested in anything like non-standard museums or exhibits, indie movie theaters, cool places to do yoga, nice coffee shops to work in, outdoor farmer’s markets, anything like that. They’re having us stay near Foggy Bottom. I have close relatives who live there and I did one of these seminars there before so I’m pretty comfortable getting around the city and all. Would love any suggestions!

    1. Lizabeth*

      Both the Building Museum and the Textile Museum are favorites of mine to visit when I’m down lunching around. Old Town Alexandria, VA is fun to walk around. Same with walking around the neighborhood of Georgetown. C&O Canal towpath to hike or bike out towards Great Falls, MD. Plan on humidity!

      1. Ellie H.*

        Thanks so much! I’m really into architecture and design so the Building Museum looks great. I just saw that they have late night Wednesdays in the summer – very cool.

      2. Pineapple Incident*

        I read that the Building museum is great as well, and they have a very cool ‘Icebergs’ exhibit going on now. Supposed to be awesome. Georgetown is great for shopping, Old Town Alexandria is very pretty. Just a warning- Watch out for Metro maintenance (SafeTrack)- this is gonna be an interesting summer so some lines will have waits and crowded/less-frequent trains.

    2. Levsha*

      Oooh I’m from DC! Favorite things, all of which are low-cost/free:

      1. Frederick Douglas’s house – beautiful view of the city, great free tour (but during the summer I would recommend buying a ticket online, costs $1.50)
      2. The Postal Museum is fun to browse through, it made me look at mail in a whole new way!
      3. The Arboretum is absolutely beautiful (amazing collection of bonsais, grove of state trees, and of course, the capitol columns)
      4. The DEA’s museum is surprisingly cool (be prepared for some moralizing about drugs, but there’s a fascinating stuff about you used to be able to buy cocaine-infused wine and children’s medicine with morphine)
      5. If you haven’t gone yet, old town Alexandria is a fun place to spend the afternoon. By the river there’s usually a man playing a “glass harp” made out of wine glasses
      6. This site has a lineup of all the upcoming outdoor movie screenings in the DC area: http://www.dcoutdoorfilms.com/#dcscreenings
      7. If you like tech/art, you could go use the “Fab Lab” at DCPL and learn how to use a 3D printer: http://dclibrary.org/labs/fablab
      8. Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse has $2 movies on Mondays and Tuesdays; it’s amazing
      9. For food, I love Sandovich (sandwiches) La Colombe (coffee) Mi Cuba (cuban) Thip Khao (Lao) &Pizza (pizza) and Keren (Ethiopian.) Definitely get Ethiopian at least somewhere while you’re here, it’s amazing!
      10. Misc: Rocket Bar in Chinatown has free popcorn and Red Derby in Petworth has the cheapest most delicious brunch!

      1. Ellie H.*

        Thank you so much for so many great suggestions! I actually have never been to the Postal Museum and I cannot wait to visit, same with the Arboretum. And outdoor movie screenings is basically exactly what I was hoping for! I appreciate the great tips.

    3. Levsha*

      And just thought of more things! The aquatic garden in Kenilworth is beautiful in July when the water lilies are blooming, as is Dumbarton Oaks Garden (looks like it was designed by an elf and hobbit team from Lord of the Rings.)

      I love DC. I’ve been here 4 years and I’m still checking things off my DC bucket list!

    4. lapgiraffe*

      I’m a bit of a dork but I worked in museums there for a while and have two random favorites I like to suggest – the Postal Museum and the Renwick Gallery. Both are smaller, can be done in short time, are never very crowded, and are not your usual museum fare. Both are super easy from the Metro, as well.

      Another interesting place is the Newseum, I haven’t actually been to the new and improved one but the Press Club used to have fantastic lectures that were free and catered, worth a look up.

    5. periwinkle*

      There are not a lot of things I miss about DC but I dearly miss the American Film Institute’s theater, the AFI Silver. It’s in downtown Silver Spring just a couple blocks from the Metro station. It has three screens including one massive screen perfect for those 70mm epics like “Lawrence of Arabia” (which I’ve seen twice on that screen – amazing). The films are a mix of current “arty” ones, foreign films, and whatever fits into their current themes. This summer they’re saluting (among others) John Williams, Olivia de Havilland, and John Carpenter. Yeah, a bit eclectic…

      1. Ellie H.*

        Thank you! I love classic film and just looked at their current series. Definitely something to check out!

    6. YaH*

      The Eastern Market is an extremely cool farmer’s market in the Capitol Hill neighborhood- everything from food to art, live music, etc. It has a website which is easternmarket-dc dot org, which should give you directions. There are indoor and outdoor sections, and the weekend markets are when all the cool artisans are displaying their wares.

    7. Dan*

      If you like beer, the craft brew scene in the city is really taking off. If you like wine and have access to a car, the Virginia wineries are worth a drive.

      1. Ellie H.*

        Awesome! I’m really into beer (I’m an IPA fiend) and will have to find some places to check out.

    8. SophieChotek*

      I really enjoyed the U.S. Postal Museum in D.C.– that was not as well known as some of the other Smithsonian museums.

    9. Belle diVedremo*

      There’s a farmers’ market at Dupont Circle http://www.freshfarmmarkets.org/dupont-circle.html
      The Uptown Movie Theater on Connecticut Ave in Cleveland Park (metro stop right there) has a balcony. (Only one screen.)
      JF Kennedy Center near Foggy Bottom is a concert venue. They have free concerts daily at 6:00pm at the Millennium Stage (which is set up at one end of the hallway along the back of the bldg.) The rooftop has a nice view of the river.
      C&O Canal you can take a walk along the tow path in Georgetown.
      Architecture tour of DC http://www.freetoursbyfoot.com/washington-dc-tours/walking-tours/architecture-tour-national-mall/
      Hotel Washington has a rooftop bar with a great view of the city. Best to go Sun-Th for smaller crowds. Go in the evening and watch the lights come up on the Mall, stay late enough and you’ll see them go out.
      Hillwood museum and gardens http://www.hillwoodmuseum.org/ Collections indoors, gardens outdoors
      National Geographic has a gallery in their building, and all sorts of events
      Get to the Potomac river sometime; you can paddle a boat or walk along it in the city or out in the burbs.
      Oh, and carry a sweater. Everything is air conditioned enough to want it whenever you’re indoors.
      Have a great time.

    10. Raptor Trainer*

      I’m late to respond but please let me recommend the cat cafe Crumbs and Whiskers! It’s a cafe where cats roam free (so apologies if you’re allergic and can’t use this suggestion). You have to book an hour and a half session in advance on their website but it’s a ton of fun. The idea of cat cafes is very common in Japan and has only recently migrated over to the States. My friends and I did it for the first time a few weeks ago and we had a blast getting to relax with cats for 90 min. Also they offer yoga and movie nights with the cats too. I recommend signing up for their newsletter or keeping an eye on their Facebook page for event announcements.


  17. EvilQueenRegina*

    So I’m supposed to be going away with my family this week and I don’t want to go. Problem is our accommodation and tickets to the Derren Brown show have been booked for months and it isn’t easy to cancel now.

    Basically, when we got together a few weeks ago, something stupid (my uncle ignored directions Mum was trying to give him, thinking he knew better because he’d seen a sign for Hay on Wye the day before, never mind that Mum knew the area and was trying to tell him a better way) escalated to ridiculous levels. The relatives actually left a day early – they own their own store and have two people who cover opening up in their absence. One was out of the country and the other then got signed off sick for a month. So they had to go for that reason, but made it sound like it was because of the argument, and also made a big point of saying they needed to go so they could watch the England match (Football, over resolving things? Seriously?)

    And some other stuff got stirred up as well – they were demanding respect over the driving issue but sometimes I don’t feel respected by them. I don’t want to be the family go between on difficult matters, to be made fun of over things that happened 20 years ago or to have my ex Googled when I have had nothing to do with him since 2002 and there are reasons for that. But they won’t respect my wishes on that.

    So I don’t really want to go.

    1. Lizabeth*

      Do you have the option of going to the show then bugging out? Or go separately in own car so you have the option to leave?

      Wow is a powerful word to use in answer to all unwanted comments.

    2. Elizabeth*

      Is there any chance you could get unfortunately and violently ill the morning of?

    3. misspiggy*

      Do you want to do the trip and see the show, family aside? Maybe you could be clear in advance with your Mum that you will be politely absenting yourself from any trouble the minute it starts, because you want to have an enjoyable time. And is she on board with that, because otherwise you’re very sorry but you won’t be able to make it?

      You could step out for a walk, a coffee, or to visit an attraction anytime you feel like it – or just cheerfully set up a completely different schedule for yourself. Captain Awkward has some great advice on what to say.

      At the show, you could wangle it to sit away from your most irritating family member, and focus all your conversation on the show.

      If anyone in your family calls you rude or gets huffy, that would be a sign to minimise spending time with them forever in my book. Relatives have to give people space sometimes: if they can’t, you don’t have to give them your time.

    4. Observer*

      As for googling the ex and being made fun of for 20 year old incidents, I think that the way you react can make a real difference.

      So, for example:
      They: “Hey, I googled ex and found that he blah, blah,”
      You: shrug.
      They: “We’re talking about ex!”
      You: bored “yeah, he’s been an ex for a while. Enjoy yourselves if you want, but I have no interest.”
      They: –trying to continue the discussion–
      You: shrug / blank stare.

      It might stop them, but even if not, it will keep you from getting drawn in.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I’m kind of a fan of the “make them the topic of conversation” tactic.

        Them: “Hey, I googled Ex and found that…”
        You: “Why are you googling Ex. Isn’t that more than a little weird? I can’t imagine why you would spend your time googling someone I used to be with. It just doesn’t make any sense.”
        Them: “but don’t you want to know?” (*or anything else)
        You: “He’s my ex, so I don’t really care. I just do not understand why YOU care. He’s not even YOUR ex. It’s just so weird.”

        And sort of go on the offensive. Don’t really wait for an answer, just keep saying stuff like, “It’s just so strange.” “It’s kind of creepy.” etc.

    5. stevenz*

      Maybe he was thinking of Wye on Hay. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made that mistake…

      And was that the Iceland game? I’ll bet *that* helped thing a lot!

  18. Tris Prior*

    Is there ANY Internet provider that is reliable and doesn’t suck?

    We’ve had pretty good luck with AT&T until recently – our Internet has crapped out 3 times in the past month. The most recent time being last night. We have a tech coming out today for the third time. They have already replaced our modem, our phone jack, and the entire phone line going from the box in the building’s basement to our apartment. There is nothing left to replace! Customer service seems mystified as to what might be going on.

    And of course I have to work from home all next week due to remodeling at my work. Can’t do that without working Internet. GAHHHHH.

    1. salad fingers*

      I know you’re in Chicago too – I’ve had pretty good internet from Comcast. Their customer service has, at times, brought me the closest I think I’ll ever come to customer service induced rage, but the actual internet has always been fine.

      1. Tris Prior*

        Yeah, I don’t know if I could handle the rage of dealing with their “customer service.” My mother has them and it’s been nothing but problems – mostly, involving their techs failing to show up for appointments. Which is less of a big deal for her as she is retired and does not have to take time off work to sit home and wait!

        I just don’t know what happened – we’ve had AT&T Internet for well over a decade. It’s always been great. Now over the past month it’s suddenly become a disaster.

        (and now of course it’s come back up, just in time for our tech appointment… :( )

        1. Elizabeth West*

          You know how I deal with no-shows? Or appointments they set two weeks out? I tell customer service that for each day I don’t have internet (or satellite–I used to do this with DirecTV), I will pro-rate my bill so that I don’t pay for the days I don’t have service. That gets them on the stick MUCH faster. >:)

      2. themmases*

        I am in Chicago and have always had RCN. I love it and will never switch if I have a choice.

        5 years in my building and the only outages have been temporary things or something outside their control that affected the whole block. The one time I had techs out here for something, they were awesomely professional and sweet to my cat.

        We are moving in September and if we can’t use them at our next place, I will be legitimately sad.

    2. Noah*

      When I had AT&T uVerse they ended up replacing everything from the neighborhood box all the way to the jack where my modem plugged in. From then on I never had an issue, but I’m sure it cost them a pretty penny. Also had a terrible month until we finally got to the point where they admitted it was an issue and did all that work.

      I have Time Warner Cable now. No real issues with the service itself, but it took them three months to get the billing right. It has gone out twice, but both times were weather-related and it was back in a few hours. The price is also very good ($35 per month) and there are no contracts.

      1. Tris Prior*

        According to today’s tech, this may be the problem – they think it may be a problem at the pole in the alley behind our building. Fingers crossed. Of course, this means blowing yet MORE of this nice weekend sitting at home waiting. :(

        1. AnonTech*

          As a DSL tech (not for AT&T) I am flabbergasted they didn’t check that first. Especially if it’s aerial, which I don’t think lasts as long as buried.

          Our field techs ALWAYS check service to the NID to see if it’s good before going inside the property. I mean, why tear up walls and stuff if the cable pair is bad?

          I urge you to demand a hefty credit when this is resolved.

          1. Tris Prior*

            Yeah, our tech gave us the customer retention number and said we should ask to be compensated. Boyfriend is going to do that first thing Monday when they reopen.

            Our landlord apparently had the same issue years ago and said it took multiple AT&T visits before they realized it was a problem at the pole. Apparently a squirrel had knocked something loose?

            Anyway, hopefully this resolves things. As far as I can tell no one’s looked at the pole yet but the Internet is back up, so ????

            1. AnonTech*

              Ah, crispy fried squirrel. Jerks usually take something out in our network at least every other month. :)

              Could’ve been something even further out than that pole too… there are multiple segments until you hit the DSLAM usually. My fingers are crossed that this is finally resolved for you!

    3. Alison Read*

      We have Comcast/Xfinity. I find it pretty unreliable here (Seattle area). I’m no longer working from home so it’s not an issue. A nearby family member does work from home a considerable amount of time and gave up Comcast for CenturyLink due to the former’s fairly regular outages.

      I bet it really depends on your area though and how the service is delivered (i.e. Above vs underground & likelihood of downed trees causing issues.)

    4. Annabelle*

      Here in Minneapolis we have Comcast. Very reliable and never a customer service problem.

      1. LizB*

        Wow, really? I’m also in Minneapolis, and nobody I know has ever gotten good customer service from Comcast. I’m not doubting you, it just sounds like you’ve been lucky! I was with CenturyLink for a while, which was a much better experience than Comcast, and my current apartment is wired for fiber internet with US Internet, which has been fantastic. Super fast internet, decent prices, really really wonderful customer service.

      2. Persephone Mulberry*

        IME, Comcast only turns into jerks whan you need something from them or want to give them less money each month. BUT they’re the only cable internet provider in town (no thank you, DSL) so we suck it up and deal.

        1. YaH*

          THIS. My apartment building can’t even get DSL so Comcast is literally the only service provider for my address. And every time the heat goes above 93 my internet goes out. They’ve already shut off two of the three cable outlets in my apartment to try to boost signal strength and I don’t even have cable so I’m not on a splitter.

          Google Fiber is slowly coming.

    5. Dan*

      I never thought I’d say this, but Comcast is both reliable and sucks. Specifically, thier customer service is less than straight forward at best.

      Every time they have tried to sell me on enhanced services, I’ve felt mislead after the fact.

      Think “we can give you an awesome rate on faster internet” when the issue I called in happened to be a hardware problem. They told me I needed a two year contract. They didn’t tell me the promo rate was only for year 1. They didn’t tell me the faster internet was an add on, and that I could have just saved a few bucks at the current service level.

      And my cable bundle a couple of years ago that I was “sure to love”? That was so bare bones it wasn’t advertised on the website. I loved it so much I cancelled the next day.

    6. Honeybee*

      I know everybody hates Comcast, but I very rarely have problems with my Comcast internet service. The problem is their customer service, but 1) they’ve gotten better in the last 2-3 years and 2) I don’t often have to use them.

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

    I posted in last weekend’s thread that we were going to be putting my cat to sleep. Our appointment was for Tuesday morning (Monday being a holiday here in the states). Unfortunately Hobbs didn’t make it that long and passed away Monday afternoon at home. Our dog was there when he happened so he knows where his little kitty friend went.

    As for me, I’m doing OK… I’m brokenhearted and sad, always looking for him and thinking I’m seeing him out of the corner of my eye. But I’m doing better than I thought I would be. Our local humane society offers private cremation, so we took him there. Can take up to 8 days though.

    I just miss my baby and I wish I had a cat to hug. Our dog is 80 lbs and he’s not a cuddler. Nearest family cat is 500 miles away. :( I wish my brother had cats, he’s always talking about getting some. Hurry up, I need a surrogate! ;) They have these Cuddle Clones where you can get an exact replica of your pet made into a plush animal. It’s like $250 though. I thought that was crazy at first and now I’m not so sure.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m sorry! This method is not for everyone, but I adopted Sam and Lucy a couple of days after my previous kitty died. I was sad and mopey and eventually thought, “You know, there are a bunch of cats sitting in cages wanting a home, and I have a home for them.” It helped immensely. I know it’s not for everyone though (I remember my mom being shocked that I was able to do it so fast).

      (I’m only mentioning this because you said you wished you had a cat to hug. Otherwise I would keep my weird suggestion to myself.)

      1. anon again*

        I don’t think that’s weird. It certainly isn’t the solution for everyone, but I suspect you’re not alone in adopting a new fur friend after one passes. While the one that is gone can’t be replaced, it can help to have four-legge company back in the house.

        1. JaneB*

          I adopted much sooner than I expected to after my last cat passed – I actually thought, I miss playing with kitties, wonder if the shelter would let me volunteer until I’m ready for a new cat. Went down there, met my current cat in the first pen they showed me (she’d been there for 6 months because she looks kind of wierd and was 8 so not so adoptable, and basically she came home with me almost at once).

          The one thing I would say is that I’m really glad I picked a cat who looked very different from my Molly – Moll was black and long haired and nervous and dainty whereas Tibs is tabby-calico, short-haired and a great inelegant lump of a cat with a huge personality, so I never had that moment of seeing Tibs and thinking for a moment it was my Moll then realising Moll was gone forever. A friend who had the habit of always having multiple all-black cats (because they’re really hard to rehome so she deliberately seeks them out) has just added a ginger to her fur family after a loss, because she found it was getting very hard when one cat reminded her of another…

      2. Schmitt*

        Yeah, same. Our remaining cat, who we’d thought would be fine as a single cat, was insanely needy and clingy, so we started looking nearly right away; we chose a cat who was incredibly different from the one who’d passed, and – this was key for us – she is a total clown, and made us laugh so much, even while we were grieving.

    2. LiteralGirl*

      My friend has four cuddle clones, all cats. His childhood cat, one that died a few years ago, and two of cats that are still living (he’s held off on getting one for his young kitty). So rest assured, if you have one made you are not crazy.
      I’m sorry about your cat’s passing.

    3. Rebecca in Dallas*

      I’m so sorry. :( Losing a pet is so hard. I hope you can find a kitty to cuddle soon!

    4. anon again*

      Are there opportunities to volunteer at your local humane society so you can cuddle with cats? I miss having a dog, but am not home enough to be fair to adopting one right now. So I volunteer at the humane society and get to walk and play with the dogs. It gets me my dog fix until such time that I have time for one on a full-time basis. I know there are also volunteers that work solely with the cats to get them some love and attention.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        So much truth. I dread the days when I will have to take my fur-babies on that one-way trip. The last time, it was so terrible, coming back to an empty home. I didn’t have another pet for over 10 years because I just wasn’t sure if I could face it again. Then these two literally showed up at my back door… and now I’m going to have to. Fortunately, it won’t be (hopefully) for quite a few years but I know it’s out there, somewhere in the future.

    5. Alison Read*

      Does your area have shelters that are in need of cat foster homes? Helping a needy cat might help you without the commitment you may not be yet ready to make; although you may find you’re a little more ready than you thought. (I think that’s really the true motivation of shelters that offer fostering!!!)

      1. NN*

        This is how we started fostering – after our cat died, we didn’t feel ready to get a new one but wanted some kitty love. We’ve come very close to being “failed” foster parents several times (ie adopting one of them) but so far, have been happy to give them back. And because we have experience caring for a quite ill cat (our kitty was quite ill the last few years of his life), we often foster kitties with special needs, which can be really rewarding too.

    6. Sydney*

      Yeah I had to wait 6 months after my cat died. And I’m not sure I would have been able to if I hadn’t gotten the most perfect cat (well not really but she’s really perfect for me). My previous cat was pretty easy to live with as in not a lot cat shenanigans so I wanted the same thing the second time around. (I know cats are cats but I didn’t want a cat into EVERYTHING and clearly well behaved cats do exist!) It was a really hard six months. I was devastated. Adopting cat helped me a lot but I wasn’t ready before the 6 months were up. I spent a lot of time crying.

      1. TootsNYC*

        Yeah, the first time my kitty died, we got a new one pretty soon, and I spent her first two days crying for my old cat.

        1. Indy, Jenn, and Hannah*

          I waited 3 weeks after my cat died. It was the best 3 weeks ever. It was 10 years ago and my big boy is fine.

    7. TootsNYC*

      My only comment is–don’t rush, so you can be sure you get a cat that LIKES hugging.

      I wanted that kind of cat, and I moved too fast, so I got an aloof one.

      Next time, I’m going to ask for a mature cat whose personality has shown. I’m going to put an ad on Craigslist: “Do you need to rehome your affectionate cat?”

      1. Heather*

        Rescues are a good place to look for cats that if you want specific traits. When cats are placed into foster homes it’s much easier to find a cat that has specific traits you are looking for. Although shelters are good places to look for cats too! It’s just some of us want specific traits.

        1. Marcela*

          I had sort of a bad experience with a shelter trying to get some personality traits in my current cat. The shelter supposedly uses this cat personality test, feline-ality, to help to get the proper cat. I filled the form and took it with me to my visit. However, they did not care at all about the form, didn’t read it, and when they asked me what I wanted, I said an affectionate cat, one thay wanted to be with me but I didn’t care about colors, weight, gender, or if he/she was very vocal, active, etc. Then they asked me to give an example of affection and I said, I don’t know, loves to be petted, is always around you at home, perhaps he would sit on my lap? And from that moment, they were obsessed thinking I wanted a cat to sit on my lap. They refused to show me cats because they would not sit on laps, and insisted on kittens, which I did not wante because they are easier to adopt, because “I could teach her to sit on my lap”.

          I left very annoyed, for I only wanted a cat and I was willing to accept almost anything. I only wanted a cat to love me, for I am still mourning my previous cat, 10 years after he died. My story has a happy end, though. The county has a shelter very close to the other one, and in fact we went there by mistake the first time. So after realizing I wasn’t going to get help from the first shelter, we went back, after looking at the cats jn the website. Then -without personality tests or anything- we found our baby, who is the most affectionate and perfect cat ever. Sometimes we wonder how we survived between my former cat and this one: life without our Curu sounds now like being dead.

          1. TootsNYC*

            I think that I actually would actively reject a kitten, because I don’t want to have to teach the cat to sit on my lap. The kitten’s personality is sort of unformed, and I don’t want to end up with one that doesn’t like laps, sleeping on the bed, etc.

            I want a cat whose personality has been demonstrated.

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

      Thanks all – as far as getting a new cat… I don’t think getting one immediately is weird. Someone I knew did that. Within a month of her cat passing. I don’t begrudge anyone’s timeline. You have to do you. Still, I don’t think I’m quite ready yet. Will I be ready in a week? A month? Tomorrow? I don’t know. We’ll see. I’m also the type to think out logistics so part of me is thinking “Well what about Christmas, it’s always a pain to leave a cat behind because we have no one to really watch them.” But do I want to wait that long?

      As for the shelter thing… I did consider it, but they don’t have a “walk in and play with cats” option. You actually have to work! LOL I don’t blame them, and I have considered it in the past. But they also want a 6 month commitment of 8 hours/month. And they are a kill shelter. Not a high kill shelter, but the fact is that here in Nebraska there are a lot more cats than there are homes for them. Dogs get adopted, not all cats do. There’s a small TNR movement but there’s a bigger “just shoot them with a BB gun” mentality. I’m not kidding, the day after we moved here I overheard someone at Petsmart say that about cats to the cashier. So then another part of me is like “OMG I NEED TO RESCUE ALL TEH KITTIES!!!!!” Oy.

      Anyway, I’m doing better than I thought I would be. I had imagined that losing Hobbs would wreck me, that I’d end up in bed for a week and lose my job over it. Well I haven’t been. I have been off work but for other health reasons. And while I do miss him really bad, I also am glad that he’s no longer in pain or suffering. And I’m glad that I won’t need to research the amount of carbohydrates and phosphorous in various cat foods any time soon.

      1. Today's anon*

        Check with the shelter what that means exactly. I volunteer at a shelter working with cats and part of the work is spending time with the cats, petting them, playing with them, distracting them, socializing them etc. When the cats are calmer and more socialized, their adoption chances are higher. Now it is true that when I am with a cat, if I see they need food or water or made a mess, I will clean things up, refill bowls etc., but it rarely feels like work, it feels like I am trying to make this cat life’s better. I feel like I try to make them look and feel their best so they can be adopted and find a forever home. Even if a cat has made a mess like overturning their water bowl and getting everything soggy and you need to clean it up, there is a chance to talk to the cat and interact and pet it, and show it some love.

    9. KR*

      Just told my cat I love her just because of your post (she looked mad at me, but I know she loves me). I’m so glad she’s only 9 and incredibly healthy. I don’t know what I’ll do when she dies. I recently adopted a senior dog, and while he’s healthy and active, I don’t think he’ll live longer than 15 or 16 (he’s 10 now). Thankfully that’s a while away.

      1. Gaia*

        My pup is 8 1/2. He is (relatively) healthy. At the vet yesterday I was unceremoniously reminded that I probably only have another 2-3 years with him


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

        We adopted a 13 year old dog a year ago. He’s healthy for now but we know we’re on borrowed time.

        1. TootsNYC*

          I think that I might go for an older cat next time, maybe partly because of this–you’d get lots of different variety by “changing cats” every 5 years! And, older animals need homes too!

        2. Windchime*

          But what a wonderful thing, to adopt a senior dog. You’re making his senior years happy and comfortable and that’s a great gift to him.

          I’m sorry that Hobbs died. It’s so sad to lose them. When Old Kitty died, I thought I wouldn’t want another cat but then my daughter-in-law fostered some adorable kittens and the rest was history. Four months later, I had a kitten climbing my Christmas tree.

    10. Lady Blerd*

      I’ve never waited long before adopting a new cat. In one case, it was two weeks after finding my tomcat stiff as a board after being away for a couple of days. That’s when I found out cats could die of natural causes. But I can assure your the pain of losing my previous cats (the other one died of renal failure). That said, it does take a while for the pain to away, I still get sad when I see old pics pop up in the Facebook flashback feature.

      Please don’t buy the plushy, for that money you can adopt a rescue cat. Honestly, you may be holding back because you think it’s inappropriate to move on so quickly because pets are like family now but I say you should.

    11. stevenz*

      This is just the saddest thing there is. I feel for you. I’ll tell my cat Saber and she will purr for little Hobbs.

    12. Elizabeth West*

      I’m sorry for your loss. :(

      I know how you feel–I keep looking at the clock in the evening and getting up in the morning and thinking, “It’s time to go feed Psycho Kitty–oh wait.” :(

      It will take time. *hug*

  20. TheSnarkyB*

    Hi folks, I know that many of you/many of us are in mourning this week. Maybe it’s been hard to get through the week, maybe you’re grieving for the many lives lost to injustice. I’m not posting to start a conversation or debate, I just want you to know that other people in this community see you, hear you, and can bear witness to your pain. I love you all.

    I’ve failed to be as active a member of this community as I’d like to be, but I know how respectful and safe a space this is for many people, myself included. And I know that it’s important to know that people in your safe internet spaces are thinking about your pain and grieving with you. So please know, you’re not alone. Other commenters on AAM see you, hear you, care.


    1. fposte*

      Hi, Snarky–I was thinking of you recently and I’m glad to see you again.

      It has just been such a heartbreaking time in America. I have been consciously trying to seek out more positivity. Thank you for contributing to that.

      1. fposte*

        BTW, when I reflect, “positivity” might sound avoidant. I don’t mean to undersell rage and pain here–it’s destructiveness and toxic trolling that are so prevalent and so poisonous that I’m trying to drown out with better things.

        1. Tau*

          I hear you on that, and it makes sense. Different context, but I was and have been so incredibly angry about Brexit (I’m an EU citizen living in the UK) and I felt like I didn’t like the person it was turning me into. I’ve had difficulty with getting sucked into toxic spaces and toxic mindsets before and was feeling myself going down that path, getting bitter and hateful and pointlessly destructive. I’ve been trying to channel that energy into more constructive and positive things. (Mainly that’s meant I do a lot of baking these days… I’m working on it!)

          Rage and pain can be so important and so powerful, especially with terrible things like what’s happening in the US right now, but they’re not an obligation and they can be so damaging as well. I think trying to be positive and constructive in the midst of horror can be really important and necessary in its own right.

        2. TheSnarkyB*

          Hi fposte, thanks for thinking of me. Thanks for clarifying, too. I agree that sometimes the idea of positivity can represent avoidance, but I see what you’re saying here and how you’re using it. :) Glad to hear from you again, and I’m hoping to get back into AAM commenting, so hopefully we’ll be in conversation again soon!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I’d just like to grab the opportunity to say, we could all take an extra second to be a little more thoughtful and a little more caring about each other as we go about our day. I know I could, so this is not about pointing fingers. It’s about looking inward and realizing just how many people feel so very alone in this world. I won’t have a massive coronary if I smile at someone and say good morning. I won’t pass out cold if I take a minute to help give a stranger directions. Nor will I need an ambulance if I ask someone how they are doing today. None of these things are going to hurt me in the least.

      We don’t know what it is that we don’t know. Do we need to know exactly how massive someone’s burden is in order to just be a little softer with each other? I don’t think so. We can just do this.

      I do believe we send out a ripple. If I am kind to that stranger who comes into work looking for help and then maybe that stranger goes out an pays it forward. I don’t know, probably never will.

      I look at the news and I cry and I pray.

      1. Jean*

        “I won’t have a massive coronary if I smile at someone and say good morning.” May I steal this sentence? It warmed my prickly heart. Seriously, how can it hurt to put more genuine positive energy into the world?

        “I look at the news and I cry and I pray.” Yes, it makes one’s heart ache. I do a lot of turning off–or not even turning on in the first place–the radio. I’m also consciously deciding that it’s okay to recycle the daily newspaper without reading every single word.

    3. Willow*

      Thank you for this. It’s just been one thing after another lately and I’ve had to take a step back from news commentary and just read headlines, but even that has been hard. I try to remember that there are so many good people quietly doing good things in the world, even if only tragedy makes the news.

    4. Overeducated*

      Thanks for saying this. I echo it 100%. Was hoping we would talk about it on open thread but somehow missed your post yesterday. I am grieving with and for those affected directly and indirectly this week, it has been terrible.

    5. Gaia*

      I have blocked and unfriended more people on FB over the past several days than I ever have before. I live in a conservative area that doesn’t seem to have any interest in understanding why this is such a problem. Even people I believed were good, kind and caring folks have said horrible and ugly things. I refuse to get into an argument online about it – it does no good – so instead, I just remove them so I don’t have to share in their hate.

      I want everyone hurting to know that my heart breaks with you. My heart breaks for the families and loved ones of the people killed by police and my heart breaks for the police that were killed in Dallas. I wonder if we’ll ever realize that gun violence is not the answer?

    6. Clever Name*

      I’ve been very heavy hearted about all this stuff. I’m glad that people are having a conversation about race, but I feel it’s just a start. I think gun control is a big part of the answer. Police would be less likely to shoot first and ask questions later if they didn’t fear that citizens were armed. Activists wouldn’t be able to acquire weapons of war to kill police.

      I’m white, and I admit I feel guilty that I’m not doing more. I do call out racism when I see it (some coworkers were speculating about someone’s ethnicity, and I said, “well I’m not going to ask him about his heritage because I think it’s a fundamentally rude thing to basically say, ‘I can see that you are brown, and I’m not sure what type, so I’m going to ask a personal question to satisfy my discomfort and curiosity'”) I know I could join marches and protests in my city, but I’m frankly scared I’ll get killed, and I feel like a privileged jerk for just sitting back.

      1. Gaia*

        Not everyone feels comfortable going to protests, particularly ones so heated as a protest involving race relations. It is ok and perfectly appropriate to do your part in a way that you feel you can be most effective. Standing up to coworkers is incredibly hard! I am rather vocal about institutional and unintentional racism and even I backed down when faced with a wildly racist comment at work.

        The key is to say something or do something. Do your part, whatever that part may be. If you can’t attend the protest, maybe spread the word so others can?

      2. TootsNYC*

        I said, “well I’m not going to ask him about his heritage because I think it’s a fundamentally rude thing to basically say, ‘I can see that you are brown, and I’m not sure what type, so I’m going to ask a personal question to satisfy my discomfort and curiosity’”

        I think this is such a brilliant thing to say!

    7. Mazzy*

      I said this about Brexit, I am really getting angry with how the media is covering all of this.

      I have a city paper from the nearby city and a county paper and a local paper, and there are all sorts of crimes going on that never make the big papers but is reported by the local media, such as USA Today or NYT, or even onto MSN or Yahoo. Lots of white on white and black on black and Hispanic on Hispanic and Hispanic on white and white on Hispanic and, well, you get the picture. There are also local stories that get no national media attention. Young innocent people being shot, women being trafficked, drunk drivers killing people.
      There are about 1000 Americans shot by cops per year, most have weapons, and half are white. I feel like the large media outlets need to either report on more of these stories or none of them. Making this into a race issue instead of a policing issue immediately says to the American people that it was fine that ½ of the people killed by cops, which is not a message that is going to build unity. They also need to get the story straight before causing national outrage. Don’t put on the front cover of the paper that the person killed didn’t have a weapon and then put a tiny edit on a page in the middle of the paper a few days later saying that they did actually have a weapon, for example.

      I also thing protesters need to stop being so aggressive. Don’t throw things at cops. Don’t interrupt events that have nothing to do with your cause and then get angry that no one wants to listen to you, after you’ve hijacked an event.

      It would also help if the media put out more stories of cops saving lives and helping people. We get a cop shooting story every few months, but I can’t remember the last time I saw a cop as a hero story. And I respect cops, they’ve helped me twice in my life, and I know people and know of people that have been burglarized and been victims of other crimes, and the police were very helpful.

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        The Black lives matter movement isn’t about saying “to the American people that it was fine that ½ of the people [were] killed by cops”

        Firstly Blacks are much more likely to be killed after contact with the police, you say half the people killed were black yet what percentage of the population is black? No where near 50%

        Secondly the black lives matter movement has been organised to speak out against the number of blacks killed they are advocating for policing changes in their own self Interest, and given the disproportionate number of blacks killed by the police it seems like a necessary and worthwhile cause.

        You say that the protesters shouldn’t be so aggressive, the community is angery and with good reason. These aren’t new issues the earliest high profile case I can think of is Rodney King from the early 90s and little seems to have changed. How much violence and abuse should the black community accept while the state Stands by and does nothing?

        1. Here, kitty, kitty...*

          Apollo, given the exact same hypothetical scenario, a white person is more likely to be shot by police than a black person. White people are also disproportionately likely to become the victim of a crime committed by a black person.

          I’m worried about what is happening in Chicago. An outcry has caused more laws to go into place that severely limit the CPD’s ability to do its job. The laws took effect in January 2016. Already this year, there have been more shootings in Chicago than there were the entirety of last year. The vast majority were black-on-black shootings.

          I’m worried by the fact that it has become “racist” or “hateful” to talk about facts, or to express an opinion that is at odds with the liberal point of view. I’m not even sure this comment will make it through moderation because the facts I posted at the beginning of this comment are at odds with the liberal narrative.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I … don’t think that’s correct. Can you provide a citation for that figure?

            I don’t block comments that are at odds with the “liberal narrative,” whatever that is.

            1. Gaia*

              I always laugh a bit when people comment “you probably won’t even post this” or whatever. Because when it gets posted, they often just feel vindicated that you only posted it because they called you out. Not, you know, because you don’t censor folks. We see it less here than other places but my goodness, it gets old.

          2. Gaia*

            Did you post any facts? Because all I see are unverified statements.

            White people are more likely to be shot by police? Not per capita. That is like saying Americans are more likely to travel internationally this month than people from England. In pure numbers, sure, but per capita? Probably not.

            White people are disproportionately likely to become the victim of a crime committed by a black person? I’d really like to see this statistic. While there is some truth that a black person is more likely to have a criminal record (again, we’re talking per capita not pure numbers) than a white person there are a lot of reasons for this an propensity towards criminality is not really one of them.

            It is never racist or hateful to discuss facts, but you have to discuss actual facts. Not assumptions. Not “I know what I’ve seen” – actual facts. So, where do your facts come from?

      2. Gaia*

        Ok, wow.

        First, yes half of all people shot by cops are white. However white people make up around 80% of this country so when nearly half of the people shot by cops are not white, you have an issue. We’ll never live in a world where no people are killed by police (well, I won’t say never but it would take some pretty drastic changes that I’ll likely not live to see) but we should live in a world where shootings are proportional to the population. When things aren’t proportional, you can bet racism is involved at some level.

        Second, no one makes news articles about me doing my job either, but if I spectacularly failed at my job it might make the news. Saving people, protecting people, serving people – that is the job of police. I don’t want to see articles about that. That is just them doing their job. I do want to see articles about when they kill unarmed or armed but noncombative individuals. Because that is fundamentally NOT their job.

        Third, it is easy to say protesters should be less violent, less aggressive, less angry, less disruptive. You are not the victim of systematic racism that puts your live at more risk than others. Please try to understand that you cannot understand their anger and fear.

        Finally, I respect police. I have known many wonderful people in law enforcement. In fact, these people are those most concerned and most horrified by what is happening. These are not one-off situations. This is systematic and part of a bigger issue.

  21. fposte*

    To whoever recommended the StyleBook app–thank you! It is both helpful and terrific fun on several levels–it’s kind of a game app, coloring app, and lifestyle app all in one.

    1. Al Lo*

      And, somewhat dangerously, a shopping app, too. ;) I always laugh at the price ranges — everything from $2500!

      1. fposte*

        That can be great if you list results from high to low and want to tell yourself that your splurge is really a great deal :-).

  22. Katie the Fed*

    So, after a few months on Weight Watchers, which drove me nuts and resulted in only minimal weight loss, I’m ready to try something new. My father-in-law really likes the 5:2 diet, and it’s supposed to work well for people with metabolic disorders like I have.

    Anyone tried it? I need something simple and I like the science of it.

    1. Confused Publisher*

      Monday will be the start of Week 3 for me, and whilst I’ve only lost 1 kilo (and nearly killed my husband a couple of times because I get hangry), I’m feeling a lot more toned (and clothes are fitting better).
      I have severe PCOS and endometriosis, and this diet seems to have helped me cope with the pain and bloating a bit too. Good luck, if you do end up going down this route.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        what do you eat on your fasting days?

        I was thinking of 1 egg for breakfast, a cup of veggie soup for lunch, and shrimp or chicken for dinner with some vegetables.

        1. Confused Publisher*

          My fasting days look something like this: boiled egg + 2 corn thins for breakfast; 80g couscous with chickpeas/tofu; chicken/fish with lentils (red lentil dahl, with plenty of ginger, chilli, turmeric; no oil) or roast veg.
          I also have about 15 kinds of herbal/green teas to stave off the hangry.

          1. Confused Publisher*

            I forgot to say that I do make a LOT of soup, but having even a tiny amount of carbs in my day helped with sleep. Several resources I found pointed to a complete lack of carbs causing sleep difficulties, and I’m a light/restless sleeper at the best of times.

    2. lapgiraffe*

      Interesting, I haven’t heard of this one and will look it up.

      I’m PCOS with fatty liver and my doctor recommended Whole30. Two weeks in and I’m down 7 pounds, but it’s NOT easy especially with drinking holidays. It’s a bunch of NOs and DON’Ts, but I find it pretty straightforward so in the end rather easy. Requires a lot of cooking yourself, though, which can be tough for some people. Keep up updated!

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          An old college friend of mine lost a lot of weight recently, he’s posted a lot about it on FB. He had been diabetic, needed one of those masks to sleep at night and other stuff, completely off all of that now. He recommends Whole30, which is I guess similar to what he did which is called Ideal Protein. I know nothing about it, but it appears to be something you do through one of their clinics, so that probably means $$$.


          1. Perse's Mom*

            A group of people in our office did Whole30 this past year – I’d say about half of them saw a lot of success (because it’s a lifestyle change for them and they’ve added a lot of exercise, so they’re not treating it like a fad diet) and the other half not so much.

            There was SO much complaining at the start about how hungry all of them were ALL. THE. TIME, though. One of the guys who has lost a lot of weight and kept with it STILL just talks about food a lot. Often completely unprompted.

            I’m half convinced that the sudden diet change contributed to several of them getting and staying sick for weeks on end shortly after starting it. IANAD, but severely restricted diets are a bad idea if you’re not also taking care (usually with professional medical guidance) to get all the necessary vitamins.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        I did Whole30 last year. I loved the way it made me feel physically but mentally/emotionally I was a disaster. I need to figure out what caused that and see if I can find a solution because I want to try it again.

    3. SAHM*

      I do Trim Healthy Mama, it’s a low carb/high fat diet that cuts sugar as well. I haven’t been sticking to it lately bc pregnancy (new baby is 11 days old!) but when I stick to it I loose weight like mad. Went from 200+ to the 160’s in 3 months. It’s also something that’s easy to stick to in general, it’s pretty easy to eat out on this diet. The only warning I have is that it’s got a very religious forum on FB, so you’ll hear a bunch of “Thank God for 20#’s lost” etc, but they don’t try to convert people (except to their way of eating, lol).

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I did really well on Atkins years ago, but it hasn’t worked well for me the last time I tried it. :(

    4. ladyb*

      I lost a stone on it last year, and have kept the weight off. I now weigh less than I did 10 years ago.

      But it was hard, especially the first few weeks when I didn’t seem to lose anything. Then I went to about 2lb loss every month. I didn’t exercise with it, but friends who did said it was fine to go to the gym on non-fast days.

      It has been the only successful diet I have managed in over 20 years. I have an underachievement thyroid and some problems regulating blood sugar so I found abstaining much easier than moderating.

      Last thing; I found a few 5:2 recipe books at the supermarket and just picked a couple of meals that worked and rotated them. You can manage monotony for one day if you’re going to eat normally the next.

    5. Dan*

      I borrowed a friend’s points calculator, and it told me I got 59 points a day. I looked at point values for food, and was like “hell no, I already eat that”.

      May in DC with all that rain made me miserable and I put on a few pounds. I’ve decided to start eating less – careful attention to portion sizes, particularly at dinner. Minimal carbs. Cut out late night snacking. It’s working, I’ve dropped a couple of pounds and feel better.

      TL; DR: I eat what I want, just less of it.

    6. Fjell & Skog*

      It worked well for me last fall. I lost about 10lbs in a few months (can’t remember exactly, but I had to buy the next smaller jeans size). I did have a hard time on the fast days at the beginning. I sometimes felt shaky, and had headaches. This subsided a bit, but I never could do much of anything on the fast days- I could just go to work, get home, drink broth and sit on the couch watching TV. Walking the dog was sometimes a struggle. But I was seeing results, so that made it worth it. It was a vacation to Belgium when I totally fell off the wagon (chocolate! Waffles! Beer!) And the the holidays, then work travel…. I would like to get back to it. I gained some of the weight back, but not all.

    7. Gaia*

      WW was incredibly ineffective for me because the number of points they said I should eat would have meant eating MORE. I lost no weight and they said it was because I wasn’t eating enough. I find that kind of logic toxic. Eat when you are hungry. Don’t eat when you are not. Learn to know what hungry feels like.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Yeah – that’s not great advice for people with metabolic disorders. I’m sure it works for some, but it’s not that simple for everyone.

        1. Gaia*

          Oh of course it isn’t that simple for everyone, but for the vast majority if you can learn what true hunger feels like (as opposed to thirst, cravings, emotional hunger, etc) and you eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full you will be okay. The key is to learn to listen to your body which is something we’ve gotten terrible at over time.

          Of course, anyone with any sort of disorder should be following a medical professional’s advice and not mine or WW :)

  23. Caledonia*

    My flat is officially under offer.

    I had a small freak out putting the ‘under offer’ sticker up. I’ve been here for 10 years, all the way through my 20’s and it’s hard. I have to move on though.

    I was thinking about going travelling but looking/acting like an adult, I don’t think I can as nobody will look after my cat and I need to find a job.

    The date to exchange contracts is late August.

    1. Confused Publisher*

      Congratulations on the flat being under offer! ‘Adulting’ can be hard: all the very best with achieving a balance between what you want to do and what you ought to do.

      1. Caledonia*

        I think what I’m going to do instead is treat myself to some tennis tickets (as I follow tennis) in the autumn and next year.

        1. Confused Publisher*

          That sounds like a great mid point! :) I hope everything else falls into place very soon.

        2. Merry and Bright*

          … and speaking of tennis, all my fingers are crossed for Andy this afternoon. Wild horses won’t drag me from the TV!

          I’m biased but the tickets idea is a great one.

    2. Onnellinen*

      Congrats! If I am remembering correctly, you were having trouble getting any bites when it was listed months ago – I can imagine it is a relief and a bit sad to have it under offer now.

  24. Colette*

    Foot update – 11 weeks after I broke my ankle, I can walk (with an obvious limp) and drive. Going up stairs is fine, going down is harder. Still, big progress. I use a crutch to and from work (since it’s a long walk, and it gets me a seat in the bus without having to ask for it most of the time – my balance is still not back to normal), but otherwise I can live a mostly normal life.

    1. fposte*

      Downstairs always seems like it should be easier but it’s almost always harder. Glad to hear you’re maneuvering if not completely unaided (and I think the crutch as sign is a great idea.)

    2. evilintraining*

      Ankles are the worst! So sorry you’re dealing with that. Never broke one but helped my mom through three of them. I remember, “Good leg goes to heaven, bad leg goes to hell,” for the steps, but it seems that isn’t working for going down them. I would ask your doc, just in case there’s something else going on there.

      1. Colette*

        I think stairs are just a matter of time. Based on the way my physiotherapist measures ankle flexibility, I gained 0.5 cm in the first 4 weeks, and 1.5 between Tuesday and Thursday. I hope that kind of improvement keeps happening for a while.

    3. IT Squirrel*

      I’m the same, loads of my friends are playing it and I love the idea of using it to explore places I’d not normally go. I’m terrible at just going out, I always feel like I need a reason or a destination to go to.

      But I’m on Android and don’t sideload apps. To much risk of malware (which, apparently, is in a LOT of the Pokemon Go apps available…). So I’ll be waiting till it’s on the Play store.

    4. AliceBD*

      All my sympathy! I’m still recovering from an ankle sprain that happened on April 16. I’ve had previous sprains on this ankle, including a really horrible one, so it’s taking a while to heal. And while I’m mostly back to normal, I still need to wear a brace to exercise at all, and I still have to hang on going down steps. Like you, I’ve found going up steps to be pretty OK, but going down steps still feels really unsteady.

  25. Aurion*

    My Facebook feed is flooded with Pokemon Go posts and pictures. Which is fine, I get tips and hints, but I want to play too :(

    It’s not officially available in Canada yet unless you make a US Apple account or sideload on your Android device. There are some risks to sideloading (malicious APKs, possible bans or account reset in the future) so I don’t want to risk it. Hoping it comes out soon!

    Any AAMers play it? What do you think?

    1. Meemzi*

      I like it! It’s ruining my life!

      1. Ridiculously fun to play
      2. I went downtown (my town is little) to find Pokemon and the Pokestops showed me so many cool things I would never have noticed about my town. And I’m leaving the house to walk around.

      1. No tutorial
      2. I didn’t get into Pokemon when I was a kid so there’s stuff that I feel like I’m behind on (evolution, power up, attacks.)
      3. It’s ruining my life.

      1. Ex Resume Reviewer*

        I liked Pokemon as a kid but then Digimon happened. So I’m not knowledgeable on the lore, but I’m starting to figure things out. Not certain if I’ll battle anyone or just collect ’em all.

      2. PokeGo*

        There are tutorials online. Google them. I had to install it on my phone for my kids and I googled to read up on it.

    2. Ex Resume Reviewer*

      Yes I’m playing… currently recovering from spending the morning trooping about town in the rain! I’m in the US luckily but I’m hoping it comes to Canada properly soon so you can join in.

      I only got it because a few friends were urging and I’m totally hooked. We believe the Pokemon congregate near people, so my big apartment complex is full of them (the lawn guy thinks I’m weird now). Also downtown areas, of course! I currently have 15 Pokemon: Charmander, Parasect, Geodude, Rhyhorn, Diglett, Weedle, Ekans, Pidgey, Magikarp, Ponyta, Drowzee, Eevee, Zubat, Vulpix and Growlithe.

      It’s a great form of exercise, to be honest.

    3. Temperance*

      I play, and I LOVE It. I’m a former Ingresser, and Pokemon is just way more fun.

    4. Otter box*

      It looks like so much fun, but I’m not sure I can play it because I missed the whole Pokemon craze growing up thanks to a very insulated upbringing and don’t know the first thing about it. Oh well! I’m loving people’s photos at least :)

      1. Meemzi*

        I missed it too – I think its playable with no pokemon knowledge. There are tons of guides online.

        I think you should at least give it a try!

      2. Kyrielle*

        I would say it needs no special Pokemon knowledge.

        But it does need special game knowledge, which the developers hide away in a hard-to-find spot (help is in the *settings* menu, what the?). Online tutorials are your friend. Maybe you’d be more effective in battle if you knew the lore? I don’t know, I don’t want to battle. Other than that it’s playable without…when the servers are up, and once you find out how the app works.

        1. Honeybee*

          Oh, is that where it is?

          I work in UX in game development and this is the kind of thing that makes me gnash my teeth, lol. So many developers want to put the help in the settings menu! Why?! Nobody looks for it there! Make it obvious. Better yet, offer a tutorial or some kind of learning systems in the gameplay! Game developers treat tutorial like it’s a dirty word sometimes, lmao.

      3. Honeybee*

        You don’t need to know anything about Pokemon to play Pokemon Go. I will say that there’s very little information in the game – I DID get caught up in the Pokemon craze as a youngster and I was still pretty confused when I started playing it – but there’s a wealth of information on the Internet about the game, too, which is usually where I turn when I have a question. The game tells you pretty much nothing.

    5. A Signer*

      I’m having a ball! My spouse downloaded it yesterday night so we took a midnight walk to the college campus nearby. It was nice to show them my school grounds and the neat landmarks since they don’t spend time there. I hope it comes to Canada soon!

    6. Mallory Janis Ian*

      My kids have let me know that they are now *very unhappy* with their entry-level smart phones because they aren’t compatible with Pokemon. I told them they’re going to continue to be very unhappy until November when our contract is up, and then they’re likely to be somewhat happier; not, like, latest iPhone ecstatic, but happier than they are now.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Okay, I just installed it on my phone, and we’re all going to play together starting tonight, as soon as we finish or Sonic milkshakes.

      1. Honeybee*

        I thought it was just me. I was super frustrated yesterday because I was in a mall near a Pokestop and I needed some more Poke Balls, but I couldn’t get the game to work so I could collect them. I eventually gave up and left.

    7. Sorgatani*

      Pokemon Go is a lot of fun, but it is a massive battery drain.
      I keep running out of pokeballs due to horrible aiming skills. My hometown has a few landmarks that are pokestops, but it’s one of those games where big-city dwellers will have a huge advantage.
      I’m in Victoria, Australia. If my hometown has 10 pokestops, it feels like Melbourne has 100.
      If you frequent public transport, most train stations seem to be pokestops.
      I hope the ‘Pokemon Go Plus’ accessory is released soon. It isn’t necessary to play the game, but I worry about how much impact Location services will have on my data usage.

      1. Ex Resume Reviewer*

        I’m in a small town by real-world standards. I also happen to live sandwiched between two graveyards. Beyond that, it’s residential or industrial for a few miles.

        Those two graveyards are both Pokestops. One is a Pokestop and has a Jesus statue (Catholic cemetery) that is ALSO a Pokestop. >.> And yes… I went and got more Pokeballs… but during the day.

    8. SL #2*

      I love it, I just wish the servers didn’t go down as often as they did. But my bff and I are hanging out tomorrow because there’s a Pokestop literally at the end of my block, and then we’re gonna go wander elsewhere too. :)

    9. Aurion*

      I’m so envious of all of you! With the possibility of bans/malware I really don’t want to go through the effort of sideloading, especially with all the server issues.

      Good thing I’m not super competitive, because all the gym leaders will have insanely strong Pokemon guarding the gyms by the time I get around to playing (there are CP 700+ Pokemon out there already how is this possible…)

    10. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I went around with my daughter and played, and we ran into so many other people who were also out playing, including my daughter’s best friend from high school and her little brother. Our town is very small, about 6,000 people, so our Pokestops were several churches, the old abandoned building that Google thinks is still our library, the post office, and the park. There is a gym at the church half a block from our house, and we were defeated twice before my daughter decided we’d better power up some of our Pokemon before trying again. While we were there, a carload of young men pulled up and parked there to use the gym, too. I almost wanted to say, “What’s up, fellow kids?” :-)

      1. SL #2*

        I have a Pokestop at the end of my block (the local library which is closed on Fridays) and yesterday, I walked over after work and ran into no less than 5 people and 2 dogs in their mid-20s all standing around in the parking lot, haha.

    11. JAM*

      I moved to my part of town about 18 months ago. In the last 48 hours I have never talked to so many strangers in my life. I was at a food truck event and decided to go hunt with my husband since we saw several spots. We started seeing people with their phones out and we’d think “texting or Pokemon?” half joking. When we saw a lure had been dropped we went over and saw dozens of people. So crazy.

      Today we brought the dog out with us once it cooled down and hunted again. We used to walk more in the spring and it’s hard to go out in the humidity but I committed and I put in between 5 and 10 K today (some of the walking was at Target and the mall too), trying to hatch some eggs. We came across families (one birthday party that was controlling a gym), a lost dog (that we helped find its home), and made our own dog very happy. I just need to watch how much data I’m using!

    12. Perse's Mom*

      I’m not playing it, but for the love of all that’s good in the world, don’t lose track of where you are in the world when you start. There were three highly obnoxious kids at the grocery store yesterday who were clearly playing (texting looks very different than playing Pokemon Go) and were just constantly in the way.

      I’m also pretty ambivalent about the catch areas being inside businesses in general. Great if it brings in sales (some businesses are clearly on board and hoping for exactly that), but I also fully understand the businesses that don’t want anything to do with influxes of what amounts to non-paying loiterers.

      1. Lindsay J*

        A lot of large businesses do not have pokemon inside. Airports don’t have any (but do have pokestops and gyms), same with malls.

        The pokestops and gyms are, I believe, all created from user data from Ingress (another phone based game kind of similar in play to pokemon go where you have to go to different landmarks to claim them for your team). I think there is a form on the Ingress website somewhere to have a place removed from being a point of interest in the game.

    13. Cam*

      It combines people’s love for being rewarded for walking and their love of always having their face glued to a phone screen :) but really, my husband and I spent the morning driving around town to look for Pokemon and poke stops and it was a lot of fun. He didn’t didn’t participate in Pokemon as a kid, bit he’s having fun to. Definitely a battery killer. Maybe it will cause a phone revolution when us nerds demand a smart phone that can handle playing Pokemon go all day long.

    14. Clever Name*

      This sounds like something that would cause my son to take my phone over. He pretty much took over Neko Atsume. He liked the modern house and I liked the zen garden.

    15. Anonyby*

      I just downloaded it last night, but I haven’t played it much. Been much more focused on Disney Magic Kingdoms (I found out about DMK just under four weeks into the first 5-week event with event-exclusive characters. Been playing this like mad!).

      BFF was a beta-tester and she likes it. I’m hoping it’ll get me up and walking more!

    16. Kyrielle*

      If my kids didn’t adore it, I would delete it and never look back. Ingress I find fun – you just go to the portals and do stuff.

      Pokemon Go…read the tips and hints if you wanna play. Read the articles. The on-boarding in the app is *TERRIBLE* and the help is hidden in the *settings* menu. I thought Pokestops weren’t working because I didn’t know you had to spin them, because the app doesn’t teach new players.

      Also, the servers are SLAMMED right now. I *think* it may be getting better but I have had a _lot_ of server down messages and, bless the programmer’s hearts, after every one of them I discover I’ve been logged out of the game and have to log back in. And since they’re using *Google* as the login and not Facebook, this is not an easy integrated app but an “enter my gmail account, password, and then the authenticator code” slog because I actually want my Google files secure, whereas I don’t give a Rattata’s behind about the security of my Pokemon game.

  26. LizB*

    I’m having a party today! My birthday was last weekend, but I had relatives in town, so I’m doing the friend celebration today. I made a tiramisu cake from Smitten Kitchen that I’m super excited about. Other snacks include spanakopita (my first time working with phyllo dough — it was so cool!), veggies with hummus, rosemary-balsamic roasted pecans, chips and salsa, and a variety of chocolate-covered snacks from Trader Joe’s. Drinks include store-bought lemonade, soda, two kinds of sangria (rosé with berries and white wine with citrus), and the weird assortment of beer in my fridge. I bought dollar store paper dishes and plastic utensils so I won’t have to deal with cleanup. Bad for the environment, I know, but I don’t have a dishwasher and don’t own enough regular plates for 12 people. :( We’ve cleaned the bathroom, cleaned the litterbox, vacuumed, and taken out the trash and recycling; there are enough chairs for everyone; the AC is on full blast. Didn’t have time to put together a playlist, but oh well.

    Anything I’m forgetting?

      1. LizB*

        Yes, I bought napkins at the dollar store too! They were easy to find next to the plates. I also hate being napkin-less.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Lipton Onion Dip. I mean, come on!

      Kidding. KIDDING, I swear. Your spread sounds lovely– it will be a great time. Don’t worry about the paper and plastic; once a year is more than fine. Happy Birthday!

    2. Cat Woman*

      Paper plate holders in the event the food leaks through the plates (not sure if you bought the microwave safe ones, uncoated, or the heavy duty plates). It would suck if a plate failed and the food got all over your carpet.

      Lint roll the furniture. As you can tell from my name, I have lots of cats and fur is just everywhere. I always use a lint roller and also vacuum the furniture.

      Enjoy, and happy birthday!

      1. LizB*

        Thankfully all my food was pretty lightweight and not wet, but I’ll keep the paper plate holders in mind if I do something heavier in the future.

    3. EmmaLou*

      Make sure that your trash/recycling containers are known to your guests so they don’t have to just carry them around or guiltily leave them on a counter somewhere.

      Your food sounds wonderful! Have a great time!

      1. Cat Woman*

        Yes! And make sure they’re marked. People always throw garbage in my recycling bin and it drives me nuts. I make a sign, but sometimes people don’t see it.

      2. Dynamic Beige*

        At a recent BBQ, I found it hard to figure out what should go in where. Bottles/cans in the blue box, OK. But when it came to the paper plates (Chinet) and the knifes/forks I didn’t know if that could go in the green bin (compostables) or not. You can get disposable cutlery made of potato starch that will decompose but it wasn’t obvious if these were plastic or that. You can also buy glasses that are made of corn starch or something else that will decompose. But if don’t tell people, they will just throw it out. So I say, make it clear that paper plates/cutlery are garbage if they are.

    4. LizB*

      Thanks, everybody! The party was a success. Now I just need to figure out to do with the half a cake I have left over… I’m sure I’ll find a use for it. :)

    5. Gaia*

      Paper products don’t have to be bad for the environment. 1. You can always recycle them and 2. you may be able to compost them if your city offers that service.

      1. LizB*

        True! My city just started doing composting, but it’s set up to be much easier for people who live in houses or duplexes, and I’m in an apartment. When I move to a house or a duplex, I’ll definitely get in on that. (We can’t recycle food-soiled paper here, but will be able to compost it.)

      1. LizB*

        This was my only downfall — I had meant to put an extra roll in the bathroom before everyone arrived, but forgot. Fortunately the friend who used the last of it was comfortable saying “Hey, you’re out of TP,” so I could restock. There’s also a box of tissues in the bathroom, so anyone who was really in a tight spot would have had a backup.

        1. Anxa*

          My aunt is awesome at hosting, but we live life fast and loose at her place and she buys TP one roll at a time. I’m always on the look out for that!

  27. evilintraining*

    I just got back from a wonderful vacation in Coudersport, PA, and spent two amazing nights stargazing at Cherry Springs State Park. I can’t even describe the view of the night sky, it’s so incredible. Expansive and very clear view of the Milky Way. If you’re into stargazing, it’s definitely worth the trip. Lots of great places to stay, including campgrounds, and lots of great hiking in the Allegheny National Forest. You can also buy an overnight pass for the Cherry Springs astronomy field, but the public viewing area is huge. We stayed at a cute little B&B down the mountain from the park. A must for amateur astronomers and astrophotographers but really pretty great for anyone!

    1. Rebecca*

      It’s amazing what effect very low to zero light pollution has on our view of the night sky!

    2. Cam*

      What b and b did you stay at? It’s about four hours from me and I’ve been thinking about getting away for a long weekend in September.

  28. Cat Woman*

    I bought the Dave Ramsey book that was recommended by some readers, Total Money Makeover. It’s pretty good so far, but I agree that some of his ideas just don’t make sense (to me, anyway). For example, the idea that having no credit score is a good thing. My sister has no credit score (she went bankrupt 20+ years ago and never bothered with credit again). Last year she needed to finance a car for the first time in many years and found it very difficult to get a loan. She finally got one, but is stuck paying 18% until she establishes a good enough score to refi. And he says if no one used debt, the economy would prosper. He says that we wouldn’t be supporting the banks anymore by not taking out loans, etc. Sorry, but interest income is a big part of how banks make money. Fees, too, of course. But fees would be much worse without people taking out loans.

    I haven’t gotten to the part about 401k plans yet, but from what someone else said, the idea of not contributing to your 401k just doesn’t make sense. That’s your retirement and you would lose the benefit of compounding interest and time.

    What do others think of the book?

    1. Katie the Fed*

      From what I remember, the only worthwhile part of his advice was about the debt snowball paying-down plan. The rest was questionable. If you’re terrible about credit, then yeah, cut them up. But I use my mileage card for every purchase and pay it off each month.

      Oh, and paying off your mortgage early is just terrible advice if you have a low mortgage rate. Our rate is 3.75% – why am I going to pay that off when I can beat those returns with investing?

      1. Nicole*

        I agree, unless you happen to be so flush with cash you can max out your retirement contributions AND pay down your mortgage quicker. If only! :)

      2. Colette*

        IMO, it’s not just the interest, it’s what you do with the money otherwise. Paying off your mortgage is better than buying cars or shoes (outside of what you need). It also gives you more freedom to leave a bad job or a bad relationship.

          1. Colette*

            Oh, agreed. But not everyone will, and I have the impression that Dave Ramsey’s advice is aimed at people who have issues with impulse spending.

            1. Katie the Fed*

              Yes, absolutely. He’s good for the spenders, but his advice won’t help you make the most of your money.

        1. fposte*

          We may also have a Canadian/US split there–those are two completely different cultures when it comes to mortgages, and they therefore function very differently.

          1. Colette*

            That’s true. But I think that in both countries, there can be advantages to prioritizing paying off your mortgage, even if that’s slightly more expensive. It’s like paying the smallest debt vs. paying the highest interest debt – one will cost you less in the long run, but there are psychological and behavioural reasons why doing the other one makes sense for some people.

            1. fposte*

              One big difference, though, is that the US gives you a tax break on your mortgage interest, which has to be factored in.

              And I do think there’s just a different cultural psychology. My Canadian friends who’ve moved down here were really shocked by the USAn approach to mortgages, and I’m an example: I’m a carry-no-debt person otherwise but I don’t worry at all about my mortgage. I could actually pay it off now if I moved stuff around, but I’ll likely get more than 3% on that money elsewhere in the meantime, and I like shoes beyond what I need :-). Whereas carrying a balance on a credit card freaks me out.

              That being said, I think paying it off more quickly can be a perfectly reasonable thing to do, especially if it gets you out of a mortgage by retirement. I just wouldn’t pinch my life to do it if I were otherwise okay with my financial plan.

              1. Colette*

                I don’t think I know anyone in Canada who is actively paying down their mortgage, although it’s possible that they just didn’t tell me. :) I think that the mortgage interest deduction has a psychological impact in the US that doesn’t affect us here. But I also think that financial decisions are often not rational, particularly when the people making them have a history of high levels of consumer debt.

                IMO, if you have no debt other than your mortgage and you have discretionary income, you can buy as many shoes as you want. But that’s no more rational than paying down your mortgage, just a different lifestyle choice.

                1. Katie the Fed*

                  Our mortgage is our only debt now and we’re doing well on retirement savings. I don’t want to own too much stuff (I just finished Marie Kondo) but we do want to save for a garage and extension on our small home :)

                2. esra*

                  Rates are so low, for a lot of people I know they’re making more on their investments than they are paying on interest. So while they may take partial advantage of pre-payments, it doesn’t make sense to sacrifice their investments to do so.

              2. Katie the Fed*

                We decided to pay an extra 5k or so on the mortgage every year. That way we pay it off a few years early and have it paid by the time most of the tax benefits have been used at the front end.

                1. Colette*

                  The first time I was laid off, I ended up getting a job before the severance ran out, so I put a chunk on the mortgage, which cut years off the duration. Thats also when I decided that I wanted to get rid of my mortgage since I worked in a volatile industry and it was likely I’d be laid off again (and I was, twice more so far). But most people I know make different choices.

                2. TootsNYC*

                  ‘We didn’t think much about why we were doing it, but we did pay off our mortgage in about 10 years (we had a 15-year loan instead of a 30). It turned out to have been a really good thing, bcs my husband got laid off (that “volatile industry” type of thing Colette was talking about), and we didn’t have to worry about money as badly. Considering that he’s never gotten full-time work since, I’m grateful we don’t have a mortgage to pay.

    2. Nicole*

      I haven’t read the book, but based on the things you’ve mentioned above, I don’t agree with his advice.

      Credit can be a very useful tool (as your sister learned) as long one is careful not to spend more than they can pay off in full at the end of the month. We always pay our balances in full and then use the rewards toward restaurant gift cards so we can dine out guilt free.

      He suggests NOT contributing to a 401k? If so, I do not agree! I think it’s the best thing you can do, particularly if your company contributes too as that’s free money. We have built up a very healthy retirement account balance by contributing to our 401ks as well as Roth IRAs. If anything, I wish we had been more aggressive saving for retirement even sooner because then we could have retired early!

      I love reading finance books/blogs but if all his advice is similar to the above I think I’ll pass.

      1. Cat Woman*

        Yes, someone who recommended the book in another open thread a couple weeks ago said that he advises NOT to contribute to 401k until all the debt is paid off–the debt is the most important thing. I didn’t get to that part yet, but I totally disagree with it (as did the person who recommended the book).

        Yeah, some of the stuff in there seems questionable. I’ll read it though, and see what I can glean from it.

        1. BRR*

          That’s dumb to avoid an employer match. Also your retirement accounts are untouchable in bankruptcy just in case.

    3. LawCat*

      I found some useful things in the book, but a lot I didn’t like (the things you mention and the “preachiness” of it). I think the best takeaways are the baby emergency fund (I have ours at $2,000 instead of $1,000) and the debt snowball. I did not suspend retirement savings and kept that going to at least get the full match (when I was employed somewhere that had matching funds). I think the credit card views are extreme and really for those who cannot manage credit cards/won’t use them with money they actually have/end up just digging themselves in credit card debt (I definitely know such people).

      It was not my favorite personal finance book, but I got some useful things from it. Just take from it what makes sense for your situation.

    4. Temperance*

      I don’t like Dave Ramsey. I think his advice is largely hogwash, and I’m uncomfortable with all the religious terminology he so sneakily uses. (I’m an ex-evangelical, FWIW, so it might not be insidious to others, but I see it as the idea that you’re more “moral” if you follow his method and I don’t agree).

      I vastly prefer Suze Orman if you have to go to anyone outside yourself for this type of advice. The Billfold is pretty great.

      1. Not Karen*

        I second Suze Orman! Also Gail Vaz-Oxlade, who is like the Canadian version of Suze.

        Regarding compounding interest: doesn’t it compound in the opposite direction on loans? I don’t see the difference between paying off a loan at 7% interest versus contributing to a 401k expecting 7% returns. Don’t they both work out to be a 7% increase in net worth? In the case of no 401k match, then, I can see why Dave recommends paying off debt first. What doesn’t make sense is that he holds to his advice even when you have a 401k match, which would be a 100% return on investment (if your employer matches 100%).

        1. BRR*

          I also like suze orman. My opinion in th debt vs investing is a lot of times your investment will grow longer than your debt will. That you can pay off your debt in 5 years but your 401k might grow for 15 years or whatever depending on your age.

          1. TootsNYC*

            Also, I think it’s just wise to get yourself into the habit of saving like that.

        2. Katie the Fed*

          not quite, because 401(k) contributions are pre-tax dollars. So your reduce your tax burden.

        3. K.*

          I used to love Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s shows. (I’m in the States but they had them on MSNBC for a while.) She gives such practical, no-nonsense advice, to say the least. The show “Princess” was a guilty pleasure of mine. I think I read that she’s not interested in doing any more television, which is a shame.

          I started thinking about personal finance after college, and I skipped right over Dave Ramsey. My parents gave me a Suze Orman book so she’s always been my go-to.

          1. Nicole*

            Definitely! Although sometimes I was a bit jealous of some of the people who had so much money coming in… but a lot of times they had just as much going out so then I’d come back down to Earth. I’d rather have less overall expenses and less income (but enough to still be living below my means) than a large income but equally large expenses.

            1. nep*

              Same. My income’s never been huge — but nor have my expenses.
              I would hear some people on that show talk about how much they had and/or made and I would think, ‘Gee, I wonder what that’s like?’

      1. Temperance*

        Oh it totally is. He seems to believe that everyone abuses credit, when actually, it’s the best way for many people to run their finances. We live traveling and pay off our balance in full every month, so our trip rewards are invaluable.

    5. Rebecca*

      I agree with some of the advice, like the debt snowball and saving for emergencies, but I disagree on getting rid of credit cards. In my case, I pay them off every month, and I keep my spending within reason. I have Chase, Capital One, Discover, and Amex. I take advantage of the cash back rewards, I don’t pay interest, and the cash back I earn on my Amex card always is enough to pay for my Amazon Prime membership with money left over. Also, cash back from Chase and Discover can be used on Amazon as well.

      I can see where getting into massive credit card debt can be very bad, but not everyone falls into this trap. For me, it’s a way to pay for things easily and take advantage of rewards, that’s it.

      1. LadyKelvin*

        Yeah we put everything on a credit card and use a monthly budgeting software to keep track of expenses (mint) . That way every month cocour credit card purchases come out of our monthly budget and we don’t have to worry about making sure the money is in the bank account to pay off the card because according to our budget the money is already gone, so there’s no risk of spending it twice.

    6. Sibley*

      My take. Dave Ramsey is good for people who need a shock to the system to get things moving the right way. His primary audience is 1. Christian; 2. massively in debt; and 3. consumer overspenders with no self control over the spending. If you don’t fit that mold exactly, you can still get value out of it, but you may not like/need certain aspects.

      Developing a realistic but still tight budget and sticking to it will hurt you, and his cash method works very well for people who are addicted to credit cards or otherwise out of control. Once you learn that control however, you can move on to other methods. If you can stick to your budget while using credit cards and pay them off in full every month, go for it.

      I would (almost) always contribute enough to your 401k to get the full employer match. Once you’re able, I would max out the 401k every year.

      In some ways, I think the economy would be much better off without all the debt out there. It would just look very different from what we have now.

      I would also not take his investment advice, like, ever.

      Other sources: mrmoneymustache.com and the bogleheads forum

    7. Dan*

      Taken as a whole, mass market financial advice is bullshit. I get they need to make it easy and accessible, but there are too many mistruths to excuse the simplicity. If you are smart enough to know what parts are accurate, then you don’t need the mainstream advice.

      My company matches up to 12% of my 403b contributions. I’m also paying off a lot of credit card debt. I recently maxed out my match, which cost me $400/mo in net pay that I was using to pay off cc debt. I got a 0% APR balance transfer offer for 18 months with just a 3% up front fee. I’m waiting for Dave to tell me how dumb that is, because the numbers work very much in my favor.

    8. Mander*

      I don’t know that much about it but apparently my Dad is a big follower. According to Mom that means that almost all of their savings is tied up in the stock market — and they are both at retirement age. Seems to me that they should move it into something less volatile at this stage in their lives, but that’s apparently not the Ramsey way. Mom is quite frustrated about it, I gather.

    9. Anxa*

      I get very grouchy over DR, but that’s because I’m not the target audience. Even then, I think it’s the radio show that bothers me more than thebook. For example, he’ll suggest that you just go out mowing lawns (assumes you can afford a mower, that the market’s not saturated with other people trying to hustle), start delivering pizzas right now (oh, I didn’t know you could just walk in and get a job on the spot), etc.

      I’ve heard that his investment advice is abysmal but that the debt escape plan can be really helpful. I’m personally more of an avalancher than a snowballer though. Actually, I kind of consider the merits of both and adjust my plan accordingly. So like, if I have a 700 dollar debt at 18% and a 3000 debt at 20.5%, I’ll prioritize the smaller debt first. But if I have 500 at 9%? That I would deal with last.

      I don’t actually have any CC debt though at the moment.

  29. Cristina in England*

    We are going on holiday next month to my mother in law’s house for five days. Me, husband, and our 3yo and 6mo. Lots of firsts: first family road trip of more than 5 miles (we don’t have a car, we are renting a mini MPV), first time staying at my MIL’s since we moved away, first time taking our new baby on a long trip.

    Since it is within the country (until the second Scottish referendum!) we can get our normal groceries delivered to her house and we know our way around there, but does anyone have any top tips for such a trip? I think my MIL is delightful but I have only ever spent 1-2 hours at a time with her. I know she has a lot of opinions about babies that are counter to mine, but she never says anything to me, thankfully, about it, just to my husband.

    I guess I am concerned about those two things combining: I have only spent small amounts of time with her, and we are about to be guests in her home, with my parenting choices on full display (we disagree primarily on breastfeeding and sleeping arrangements). I don’t have an easy time shrugging off criticism if it is to my face, and maybe I crave approval deep down, but I have been fine up to now since her criticism/disapproval has been behind my back. Should I be worried? Any advice?

      1. Marcela*

        Uh? It is true Scotland and England are different countries, but for normal purposes they work as one, the United Kingdom. That does NOT happen, for example, with France and Spain. I lived several years rigt next to the border and there were many issues, the simplest of them that deliveries were not possible even if we lived closer to France than to the big city nearest to us in Spain. Or the fact that French people could not pay with cheques.

        1. JaneB*

          My only advice would be to keep remembering that it’s only a few days! And the three year old will LOVE all the Granny time – can you kind of direct MIL to 3 year old amusing and how great she is at it, and thus away from baby comments?

    1. Aussie Teacher*

      Talk to your husband about it before you go. When we first had kids, we stuck to a strict feeding/sleeping routine for a bunch of reasons, which some people didn’t agree with. I was worried about parents-in-law judging us, but my husband and I talked it out and knowing we were on the same page and he would defend me/OUR choices as a parent as needed was enormously reassuring. You want to know that if your MIL makes negative comments to him, that he will shut it down. We practiced saying “Thanks for your advice, but this is the routine we’ve decided on together.”

    2. Jessi*

      Top tips: do your best to keep the kids on their normal schedules – especially for sleep! If your MIL is anti-breastfeeding (assumption on my part), you could always point it that it is advised by your doctor/health visitor ect and they are very happy with how your little one is doing. I think its harder to argue with ‘but my doctor thinks this’, and it can be repeated like a broken record if you panic.

      Its advised in the UK for the baby to sleep in the same room as the parents till 6 months, so I would just repeat that ‘it reduces the risk of SIDS’ like a broken record too!

      If its all getting a bit much you could ask your husband to take your 3 year old and MIL for a walk and stay in and “nap” with the baby :)

    3. Overeducated*

      Just use the baby as an excuse whenever you need s break…they’re useful that way!

    4. Cristina in England*

      Thank you everyone! I suspect I will be spending most of my time trying to keep my 6mo amused and away from granny’s glass figurines. Yes, I will keep “the midwife said to do this” in my back pocket for when I need it. :-)

  30. nep*

    Has anyone here had bad reactions (stomach pain) to quinoa?
    I’d eaten quinoa in the past with no problem (aside from — sometimes — slight bloating). But the other day I ate some (after quite a while) — was in almost unbearable pain for several hours afterward. I’d rinsed the quinoa as well as I normally had in the past. Anyway, I guess food insensitivities can come and go.
    Yikes — it was baaaaaaaaad.

    1. Ex Resume Reviewer*

      No. But that’s how my issues with chicken started. I’d be fine a few times and then WHAM it’d get me. I’d try it again in a bit and be okay, so I’d think it was just a fluke/bug and then after a few more times WHAM again sickness. And each time it hit it’d get worse. Finally realized that was it was cumulative and that I had to stop if I didn’t want to carry an epipen.

      I miss chicken.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        I’m like that with raw carrots. Sometimes I can eat them; other times, I end up lying on the bathroom floor in agony. It feels like someone is pumping me full of air and won’t stop.

    2. AcidMeFlux*

      Several friends have had bad stomach reactions to quinoa. Google reasonable sources. You’re not the only one!

      1. nep*

        Yes — I’d read about it before, and in a lot of forums that day saw descriptions of symptoms like I had. Ouch.

    3. Mando Diao*

      I can’t always handle a lot of soy/tofu and I generally gave an iron stomach. I think it’s normal to react weirdly to something that isn’t a consistent part of your diet.

    4. Minta*

      Yes. I’ve had bad stomach reactions to quinoa when I made it at home–even after having eaten it regularly with no problem. I always cleaned it well, which is what is suggested to remove the offending, natural outer coating. At some point, it just stopped working (no matter how thoroughly I scrubbed and rinsed), and both my DH and I felt it badly.

      I had to take a break from making it at home (of course, it was just after I purchased a huge amount of it in bulk). The break lasted a few years. I only recently introduced it back into my kitchen. No problems yet.

      Make sure you’re washing it well prior to cooking. If that doesn’t help or you’re already doing so, try taking a break from it. Or, if you’re willing to risk the discomfort, try eating it from a different source (diff brand or something).

      I hated being without it because I really like it and appreciate its protein and nutrient content. Best wishes!

    5. Adjunct Gal*

      I had that problem with quinoa, too. Now I just don’t bother with it in my diet.

      More recently, I’ve been getting hives from pepperoni, corned beef hash, and now at least one kind of cured ham. So disappointing, and it’s only in the last few years.

  31. Mazzy*

    I am going to try my own problem on an open thread this week because I’m barely talking to anyone at this point.
    So I had an argument with a close friend. Both of us were to blame and both of us sad nasty things.

    One of my siblings loves to talk and gossips and spreads stories, and often rehashes things from decades ago. I’ve met people in one year for the first time and they already know an embarrassing thing I did and forgot about from fifteen years ago, from my sister. I’ve always tried to train friends who mingle with my family not to give too much information, because my sister is going to tell anyone, and if you admit to having a flaw, it may be used against you at some future point.

    Well, what did this friend do? She immediately confided in my sister all of the horrible things I said during the argument, leaving out her contributions of course, which prompted sister to send a barrage of ranting texts. It was crystal clear that said friend completely blew everything out of proportion.

    Then I received a long melodramatic email from my meddling mother about how we should all just get along and she just wishes I was happy. I am. My sister thinks I’m not and lives closer to my mother and always blows things out of proportion and only dwells on the bad things I do, not the majority of good things.

    This is the end of the rope with so many people for me. One, my sister needs to be cut out for a while. She is a toxic person to me. My mother as well, and I never thought of my mother like this because she is so nice, but she also does gossip a lot, and I realized these past few weeks that she overshares information to so many people, and I’m reevaluating how to speak with her before I resume contact.

    And I think this friendship is over. She was in the wrong, and I was deeply hurt just with the argument, but I didn’t feel the need to go get revenge. That I don’t understand. But the most disturbing part is that she went to my sister of all people. I spoke with the friend yesterday and said that if we had just had an argument, we’d probably have already made up and forgotten about it, but now that my sister is involved, everything that we both said is going to be repeated for ten or fifteen or twenty years to everyone we know (and some secrets were shared). And we will never be able to be in the same room at the same time as my sister, because she will make a scene every time and repeat the same secrets to whoever is there. But my sister is the nice one, so that is OK in our circles. I’m the mean one even though I don’t gossip. The things I could share but never will.

    1. Temperance*

      You need to set boundaries with your family. My mother has Issues, and it took my sister and me YEARS to realize that our behavior patterns were fucked up wrt relationships. Gossip is actually awful and poison; it’s not merely a bad habit, it can really color the kind of person you are and the kind of people you attract.

    2. Dynamic Beige*

      Yeah, that friendship is over. She took the nuclear option when she went to your sister and now it’s time to stick a fork in it, it’s done.

      Since you know that all of these people have so little of interest going on their own lives that they feel the need to gossip and stir trouble, you’re going to have to get used to telling them as little as possible about yourself or just asking questions about them and then conveniently needing to go when they start in with the third degree.

    3. Aisling*

      I’ve had to cut a sister out of my life. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, and I wasn’t expecting to grieve as if I’d actually lost her, but I did. I realized that what I grieved for the was the relationship I wish we had, but we were never going to have – and that realization tore me up. However, my life is better because of it. She’s still around, though I only see her maybe once or twice a year at other family events, and now when she’s acting out, I feel pity for her, rather than the anger I felt before. Just my two cents.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Your sister is the nice one and she gossips and yells at people???? Please keep me away from your sis. She sounds like a former coworker of mine, who used to sit with other family members and gossip, get drunk and malign everyone. The thing was my coworker thought she had the world by the tail because she knew all this stuff about people. What she never realized was that when she approached a group of people everyone reacted like the Black Plague had just walked in the room. No one, I mean NO ONE liked this girl, but everyone felt compelled to get along or they would be next on her gossip list. Well, the fallacy there was that they were next on her gossip list no matter what they did.

      If it were me, I would stop introducing friends to my family. Next, I would start to back away from this hot mess. It’s a quality of life issue. Build yourself a full and enjoyable life outside of your family. Just my opinion, though.

      1. LuvThePets*

        So sorry that you have experienced so many disappointments from people that you should be able to trust. Not sure If you posted to the thread for a shoulder to lean on and vent, or for advice, but it sounds like you have come up with your own good solution… ” I’m reevaluating how to speak with her before I resume contact.” My husband and I have a ton of folks in our lives that like to be messy and live messy, and we learned a long time ago that we say and share very little with them. Your comment that I quoted above says it all.

        It’s funny. For example, I am very close to my mom, but I know that she holds grudges, especially against people that hurt her, or people she loves (my dad, her kids). I never tell her anything bad about my husband. Sometimes we have to set firm boundaries, even with people we love, to protect ourselves, but also to stay in relationship.

      2. Mazzy*

        She does sit with family members and gossip, but doesn’t drink, and it doesn’t sound like gossip when you hear it because the stories are so believable. But lately, after all of these years, I’m beginning to see how she embellishes stories by adding motives or what people were thinking – and it is always something negative – to the stories, and we’re not really sure what other people are thinking, or if they are not thinking. “Sally did that stupid thing because she was tired and just having a bad day” is never how a story is spun. It is always something about how Sally had some bad motives going on. I can’t believe it took me until almost 40 to figure this out.

        She doesn’t drink but criticizes people who do, and if anyone even had one beer or wine, she blames their “bad” behavior on their “drinking” or “being drunk.” I noticed that a while back and it annoys me. You can’t discount what other people say just because they’ve had a drink; it’s not like they are drunk. And if they were drunk, don’t most people speak the truth then anyway?

        I’m surprised that it took me so long to see my mother like this. I think it is because she is genuinely nice, I just think she doesn’t realize it is gossip, and she socializes a lot, so they are all repeating stories to eachother. And of course, the stories get embellished.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Eh, people can lie drunk or sober. Doesn’t really matter about their level of sobriety when it comes to lying.

          Gossip can be true, so yeah, it can be believable. It’s still gossip, though.

          We get used to what we see. If we always see a negative spin on stories then that is what we are used to. It takes a while to realize that not everyone does that.

          Here’s the problem with talking that way. It turns people against each other. Ever have a friend stop talking to you and you cannot figure out why? It’s probably because a mutual friend was gossiping about you. Additionally, people who malign others behind their backs probably also malign us behind our backs. While Sally looks like a fool to everyone, Sally thinks that everyone else is a fool. Because Sally has heard stories about what everyone is doing and screwing up so badly.

          Some people get a sense of power/satisfaction from knowing that others have failed. It makes them feel good about their own setting or it makes them feel smart/knowledgeable. “I KNEW Sally would fail at X.” The inference being that the speaker would never fail at X.

          Recipients of gossip feel a false sense of bonding, like they are getting insider information. And of course, the speaker would never tell the recipient X if the speaker knew the recipient would also mess up X.

          There’s a quote that is relevant here: “Great people talk about ideas, average people talk about things, small people talk about others.” When I see a gossip like my former coworker, I kind of get a sense that the person is going nowhere in life.
          Check back in ten years, she will still be digging for that latest prized piece of gossip.

          You could arm yourself with some one liners and then redirect the conversation.

          “Sorry to hear about Sally. So, mom, how do you like your new phone? Have you found any cool apps?”
          “Mom, I am sure if Sally wanted me to know that she’d have told me herself. I really don’t want to discuss others. So how is your garden doing, any tomatoes yet?”
          “Mom, ever hear of the telephone game? I am sure that by the time the story gets to us, it has nothing to do with what actually happened. Anyway, how’d your dog do at the vets?”

  32. going undercover for this*

    I have decided to finally plunge in and make an online dating profile. I have a type of person that I usually go for. Should I mention that or try to break out of my routine? The type of guy I like to date is the comic con nerd. I like it when a guy has an active imagination and fans out with it but still has time for other hobbies.

    And how do people feel about women asking men out? I have done it twice. The first time turned out well. He had never been asked out by a woman before and he was flattered and said yes. We had a great relationship. The second time, the guy was offended and I almost felt like he wanted me to apologize. So is it just not done? Or was the second guy an aberration?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Take my advice with a few grains of salt, because I’ve never dated (not in the traditional sense), let alone online dated.

      I wouldn’t mention what you’re looking for in a guy, because that has two serious potential downsides:
      1. A guy who might actually be great for you but not technically your “type” might self-select out.
      2. A guy might pretend to be into comic-con nerddom just to get your attention.

      Maybe you don’t mind those two risks, but I just wanted to throw them out there. You could, however, mention that you’re into comic-con or comics or nerddom.

      As for guys who are offended, I would just say that’s a good sign you two aren’t compatible. He’s telling you something about himself (“I’m very traditional when it comes to gender roles” and/or “I am threatened by women who aren’t passive”).

      Have you thought of trying Bumble? I think that one has het women initiate contact as a rule.

    2. Aurion*

      If someone gets offended at you asking them out because they wanted “to get there first”, that is a clue that this person is probably going to be extremely competitive in weird ways, they likely have some entrenched ideas about gender roles, and they might expect you to be a mind-reader.

      Hopefully, people like the second guy are rare. But even if they’re common, I think it’s safe to say that you wouldn’t want to date them anyway.

      1. LizB*

        Yep, the second guy sounds like he’s part of the (hopefully) dying breed who are very invested in rigid gender roles when it comes to dating. I personally wouldn’t want to date a guy who was upset about me asking him out, because that would be a big sign that our values wouldn’t mesh well.

    3. Tomato Frog*

      If I did online dating, I know I would be turned off by a profile that included a list of things that I was supposed to be. Imagine if a job applicant submitted a resume to you and it was all “I need a company that is so-and-so.” You would never hire that person. I think you should write a profile that describes yourself, and thereby gives a sense of the things that are important to you. For example, a profile that exhibits a sense of humor is going to attract people with a sense of humor. A profile that evinces nerdiness is more likely to attract nerds.

      I recently listened to an episode of the Allusionist — a podcast about language — where a woman named Amy Webb talks a bit about how she created the kind of dating profile that attracted the sort of person she wanted to date (and, in her case, marry). The episode is titled “WLTM Part II.” Apparently Amy Webb published a lot and done a TED talk on this topic, but I can’t speak to those — I just really enjoyed the Allusionist episode.

      1. Ellie H.*

        Just for the anecdote – my online dating profile was literally a 13-item list of things I was looking for in someone to date and that was it. My ex-boyfriend was the first person i ever went on a date with and we dated for around 3 years :D (we’re still good friends now too, even after a pretty unpleasant drawn-out breakup). I wasn’t super serious either about finding someone that way and in that I absolutely wasn’t looking for anything serious at the time (without being too explicit, one of my items alluded to something in the “casual hookup/short-term dating” genre, which drew a good amount of responses) so that’s a big part of why it worked, even though it ended up being a serious thing. I also didn’t even have a picture in my profile but demanded in my list that the other person be extremely good-looking (!) Clearly I was incredibly lucky!

        1. Tomato Frog*

          Haha, yeah, I guess the fact that something would be off-putting to me only really matters if I’m the person you’re hoping to date.

          (But really, I should be. I’m awesome.)

    4. June Twentyone*

      I am female and relatively new to the online dating world as well (OKCupid is my platform of choice, but I’m thinking about adding Bumble), and I can tell you what I’ve learned so far:

      – Most guys love it when girls make the first move. Guy number two was an insecure jackass.
      – Spelling out “what you’re looking for” can be taken as a turn off, but sharing your unique interests and hobbies will attract guys who share those interests. Don’t be generic (“I love going out but also staying in!”) in the hopes of being attractive to the greatest number of people – focus on connecting with the people you want to find you. If you’re on OKC, the subreddit /r/okcupid has great pointers for writing a profile that will stand out in the crowd.
      – Depending on which platform you are on, you will likely be deluged with likes/messages for the first few weeks. DO NOT feel obligated to reply to every one, even with a “thanks but no thanks.” You will get burned out on the entire experience before you even have a chance to connect with the profiles that interest you.

      I think that hits the high points – if you have specific questions about OKC, I’ll be glad to share what I know!

      1. Dan*

        “thanks but no thanks” is a waste of everyone’s time.

        It’s like the first round for job applicants – I just assume I’m out of the running unless I actually get a response.

        1. No real name for this*

          Yeah, but if you’re a woman on a dating site, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. If you don’t respond to a message, it’s quite likely you get really aggressively mean follow-ups. If you do respond with a “thanks, but no thanks” message, you can still get terribly aggressive messages.

          1. FutureLibrarianNoMore*


            I was once told I was “pathetic” for not responding. And people wonder why I’m slow to reactivate my profile!

    5. Dynamic Beige*

      I would say make your profile about the common values you hope to share. You appreciate someone who is creative, has imagination and is well rounded in his interests — that doesn’t necessarily have to be someone who is into ComicCon.

      The thing with online dating is that you can say anything like “I don’t drink and am not interested in dating anyone who does” but alcoholics are still going to write to you. You may not even know they have problems with the drink until you go out with them. It seems that many people have a “but once they get to know me — the real me! — it won’t matter that I’m X, Y or Z they said was a dealbreaker.” So if someone seems interesting, meet them for a coffee sooner than later, whether you suggest it or they do. It may seem petty but if someone has lied about their age, weight, height, odds are they are lying about other things, too.

      1. Dan*

        Okc did a study and they found that guys under 6’0″ lie about their height by 2″. So I’m not sure that is much of an indicator of other lies. Weight/body type too. We all want to position ourselves in the most flattering light.

        However, i do agree with you, meet in person sooner rather than later. If the conversation has momentum, I’m trying to meet you after 3 back and forths (or so). I just want to ascertain that we have enough in common to make it through an hour. If the conversation hasn’t gotten any momentum at that point, I’m going to stop messaging. I’m not spending a month writing messages online.

    6. MissGirl*

      I like to end my profile with a question as a conversation starter. I’m outdoorsy so I’ll ask something like “what’s been your favorite adventure of the summer?”

      You could ask “What’s your favorite Marvel movie or craziest costume you’ve worn?” Something that gives them an opening line to reach out makes it easier to make that first step.

    7. Dan*

      OKC has (or had) a “message me if” section. I think this is your spot to say “I really like…” and still get responses from guys who jive with the rest of your profile.

      Too long of a “you must” reads like a job description and makes it too hard to know what’s most important to you.

      BTW, convention is for the guy to initiate. Okc has a “like” feature you can use to signal interest. But a woman who reaches out to me with a thoughtful message won’t offend me and might get a response back.

      What doesn’t cut it is a single mom with three kids who lives 20 miles from me in a run down part of town and writes “hi”. I ignored that one.

    8. Overeducated*

      My experience with nerdy types is that most are all for it when a woman asks them out! (My husband was the first guy I dated who asked ME.) If you are lIke me and want a pretty gender egalitarian relationship, a bad reaction would be a good way to weed someone out early.

    9. stevenz*

      You won’t get what (who) you want if you don’t say what that person should be like, as you did here. But try to work in a little flexibility, or state your top two or three most important qualities and say that anything else is fine.

      If a guy gets offended by a woman asking him out, he isn’t likely to be any more grateful for any other sign of strength from her. It’s actually not a bad test. (You can ask me out any time! ;-)

  33. Mica*

    I need some cleaning advice! I’m in my late 20s, but still live at home (lol, they live INSANELY close to where I work, so it’s actually not too bad). Anyway, they’re thinking of downsizing due to health reasons and either moving to a seniors complex/getting a small condo. But before they “officially” decide to do anything, we need to go through all of our junk. HOW do you begin sorting through a house with 30+ years of stuff in it? I’m thinking room by room is the best way to start, but I’m actually not sure? It just seems overwhelming!!

    1. LawCat*

      I liked Marie Kondo’s “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and going through how she recommends getting through stuff.

      1. Temperance*

        I like her organization method, but I couldn’t get past the hippie-dippie stuff about your things having their own energy and thanking your stockings.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          I thought it would be silly, but it helped absolve me of some of the guilt I felt over having bought so much stuff

    2. Not Karen*

      As with anything overwhelming, take it one step at a time. Whether that be room by room or just dealing with item a day, that’s up to you. I like having three ongoing buckets: “keep,” “donate,” and “toss.”

    3. Cristina in England*

      I like the blog 365 Less Things for its practical advice (even though I want it to be 365 Fewer Things but I’m a pedant). There are a lot of set tasks either by category or by room (declutter some memorabilia today, for instance), and also general advice, like start with the easy stuff and gradually build to the emotionally difficult stuff. What I love about this blog is that she puts out so many different approaches and the posts are frequent enough that you will definitely find something that works for you!

    4. Temperance*

      My husband and I are in the process of decluttering now, and what’s worked for us is getting rid of stuff we clearly don’t want first before actually going room by room. Last week, we filled two large black contractor bags with actual junk (broken/stained/damaged crap) and I dropped off three boxes at Goodwill and a bag of books at our library for their sale. Our first floor is already more comfortable, and we’re making really great progress because we’re now more motivated.

      Are you going to be getting your own place, or going with them? I’m asking because the stuff they’re getting rid of might be useful to get *you* started. There’s no reason to have to buy dishes etc. if they have a set you can use for now.

      1. Mica*

        I’m pretty sure I’m going to be getting my own place. I was actually thinking about things that! Like saving the dishes I can use, etc. I’m also the only one who uses certain kitchen appliances (lol, the popcorn maker and espresso machine), so I’d take things like that with me.

        The house we live in isn’t terribly messy or anything, there’s just 30 years of stuff in the house. I’ve been thinking of suggesting going through the rooms we don’t use often, such as the dining room and spare bedroom. That way we can get those emptied and it will be easier to sort the rooms we actually use.

        1. Temperance*

          That’s a really good idea, and as a bonus, you can stash stuff for your new place in the now-empty spare room/dining room, so it won’t get accidentally tossed out!

          I totally get where you’re coming from. We bought a 115-year old house in 2014, and there aren’t any actual closets, which is why I’m all about tossing stuff.

      2. KR*

        Be careful though- my dad was moving in with his girlfriend when I moved out of the house and he pretty much dumped all the stuff he didn’t want to bother to go through on me so I spent the first few months in my new apartment going through stuff that he had accumulated over the years that I had been stuck with. A lot of parents, especially if they’re attached to their stuff might want to give everything to you and it’s okay to not want their stuff or want your own stuff.

    5. LCL*

      Downsizing the family home, what to save, what to let go by Marni Jameson.
      I found this book more helpful than the Kondo books. It is available through aarp, I was able to find a copy at the bookstore. I also bought The joy of leaving your s”@& all over the place by Jennifer McCartney, it is a parody of the Kondo books.

      1. Mica*

        Thanks, my local library has Downsizing the Family Home as an eBook, so I’ll have a look through that!

      2. nep*

        Holy s*. I just read excerpts on Amazon of The Joy of Leaving Your S* All Over the Place.
        One review said ‘laugh-out-loud funny’. I laughed out loud. Damn that is funny.

    6. First Initial dot Last Name*

      +1 on the keep, sell/donate, toss, boxes. I’d add to that a box labeled “for family consideration” as a finer aggregation of the keep box, in that maybe y’all don’t need to keep it, but it should stay in the family, this is great for grandma’s wedding dress, family photos and letters, records, holiday and religious objects, that one sewing machine that is out of use but still good.

      I handled my aunts estate after she passed, she was a bit of a hoarder, thankfully she had good taste! It took me a long time to circulate things out of the house, but by making an active effort to get through rooms and establish habits of moving things out I got through it. I started by having an antiques dealer come in to assess/sell the furniture nobody in the family wanted. I utilized freecycle, craigslist, ebay, etsy, and a lot of goodwill runs to get through the rest of it all. I set up some simple rules, such as: If my hand touches an object I have to deal with it. When a box is full, make it go away.

      Things got tricky for me when associated items were spread out in different rooms, e.g. I found sewing stuff in every room of the house and I just couldn’t quite deal with the individual items as I encountered them, so I established a staging area for all the sewing stuff, I then grouped the things appropriately, (all the bobbins for that machine, or that machine, the foot pedal for that one, the embroidery discs for that one, etc.) I had to have patience with stuff like that or I would have thrown the whole lot away, and then I’d be kicking myself.

      Be prepared that it might be emotional, make space for the feels and roll with it. Good luck.

    7. auntie_cipation*

      I like a variation of “easy things first”, and that is: “easy, BIG things first.” In other words, look for things that you can get rid of without needing to ponder, but start with things that have volume. Empty boxes are often an easy place to start. Other big things — furniture, appliances, winter coats, sports equipment, collections, etc. Focusing on volume lets you see a difference in the clutter right away, and also create some space where you can work more easily. Don’t start with a shoebox full of mementoes, where hours of work and the most space you’ll free up is… a shoebox’s worth.

      When I cleaned up/out my fathers hoarded house after he died, most every room was full so I had no space in which to start working. I went to the least cluttered room and took out everything but the furniture, adding the stuff I removed to already-toppling piles in other rooms. That “empty” room became the place where I put stuff that was “to keep” for myself or others. Then I assigned “clothes to a bedroom”, “books to the living room”, “bathroom/kitchen stuff to their respective rooms”, and I began a several-day process of bouncing between rooms, putting like things with like. I didn’t want to make decisions about what to keep until I saw just how many/much of each category there was. I think it’s important to have most everything of a category together before deciding, because something like a lamp might seem perfectly useful/necessary, until one sees that there are 30 lamps and perhaps the new smaller condo might need five, so then the favored five can stay and the rest can go.

      You’ll have a complication that I didn’t have to deal with, in that it sounds like you and they are living in the house while you’re doing this cleaning up. So rather than taking up living space you might try to empty one room and then designate each corner of the room for a certain category of thing, and go through the house and gather up all of that thing in one spot, and once you have all or most of it in one spot, you and they can make your decisions about what to keep.

      Last thought, be brutally honest with yourself about the realistic-ness of selling stuff that has value — it’s so easy to think “oh, this is worth something, we’ll sell it on eBay or at a yard sale” but that kind of selling takes a lot of time and some skill to make it worth your while! Except for true antiques/collectibles, I favored giving things to the thrift store or even putting small furniture out on the lawn with “free” signs — even though each piece might have been worth a few bucks, the stress of the details of selling it would not have been worth it to me. Just think about how someone will be thrilled to find something GOOD at a thrift store, and let it go.

      Good luck!

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I have emptied four houses. Never again. never. But I did each one in almost the same way.

      Take the stuff off the top that you KNOW you do not want. If you have to stop and think for a minute, then set the item aside and move to something you are certain about.

      Take out stuff that needs to go to the dump or needs to be donated first. You will notice that some things you only have because of where you live and you will not be able to take them to the new place. And you will notice that there are things you have been looking for an excuse to get rid of, Great Aunt Mabel’s scarf she gave you three Christmases ago- you know the one that would look terrific on a 90 year old person? Out it goes. Other things get tossed because you decide, “no, I will never get it repaired”. Try not to move things that have been laying around broken for years to the next place.

      I emptied one house in five days, so I only spent a day on this step. Another house took a year and a half. I spent months on this step. All you are doing is skimming off the top so it is easier to sort.

      You may want to consider a tag sale. One house I did had a nice cellar that you could walk into from outside. I put down a blue tarp. Everything on the tarp was for sale. I threw old sheets over the stuff that was not for sale. I lined up larger stuff outside. It all went because I cut ridiculous deals. You may want to consider borrowing a tent and having weekend sales. Put new stuff outside each weekend. (Watch your local codes about tag sales, though.)

      Then I reached a point where I could pack up some of the stuff I knew I wanted. If I was undecided, I did not pack it. But mementos, photos, knickknacks and stuff you know you want can get packed up and stacked in a corner.

      Then finally, I started going room by room and methodically getting rid of most that was in there. Since you are living in the house a guest room or basement room is ideal to empty first because once it is emptied you can use the area to organize or store other things.

      One thing we did was keep most of the papers. I brought them home and sorted them here. I just found it easier to sort personal papers after I had dealt with all the stuff. I tried renting a shredder and doing the papers at one of the houses and that was incredibly time consuming for how little I got rid of.

      Clearly label everything you pack. Six months from now the word “pictures” is meaningless. Write something a little more descriptive like “Pictures from dining room walls” or “Pictures-mom’s albums”.

      You can get decent boxes for free from grocery stores or wine stores. Mostly, I prefer medium sized boxes because I pack heavy- I crowd stuff into a box. Some stuff, like lamp shades, has to go in a larger box, though. I reused newspaper for packing material, so my only expense was tape for my tape gun and big black markers.

      If you are hiring movers you do not have to pack up drawers of stuff, they will just move dressers, etc with the contents still in the drawers. This works well for short distance moves. Not sure if I would attempt it for a long distance.

      And yeah, it is an emotional process. But you will learn things about yourself and about your family so it’s not a wasted experience. I feel that it grew me in some ways, probably you will, too.

    9. AcademiaNut*

      Get some big boxes and bins to pitch stuff into. One for straight up garbage, a couple for recycling (paper and non paper), one for paper to shred, some for garage sale/donation (clothes, books, kitchen/electronics, knick-knacks), one for future sorting, one for memorabilia.

      Then I’d do go room by room, but do it in a few passes. The first pass gets rid of anything that’s broken, ratty, that no longer fits, that I haven’t used/worn/read in the past two years, or that I’m saving “just in case”. Get rid of old magazines, newspapers, saved margarine containers and jars, any more rags than you’ll need for the cleaning and moving process, and so on. For clothes – get rid of anything in the “if I lose five pounds” or “maybe it will come back in style” category.

      The second pass is to select out the best of what you have, and want to take with you. The hard part here can be being strict enough, particularly if you’re the saver type, or there are memories attached, so concentrate on what you need for the new place.

      So for example, for the linen cupboard – select out the best towels/sheets/tablecloths. Save no more than 2 sets of sheets per regular bed, plus one for the guest bed. Enough towels for one wash cycle with guests. Enough blankets to outfit all the beds. No more than two regular tablecloths and one fancy. Everything that doesn’t make that pass goes. You can designate a box of a particular size for, say Christmas ornaments, and restrict yourself to what fits in that box.

      Once you’ve done the above, you’ll have your regular house that’s gone through a thorough sort and organize. I actually do this about once every year or two, even without moving. Once they’ve found a place, you can deal with the big stuff, like furniture and appliances. Figure out what will fit in the new place, and where to sell/donate what’s left.

      Schedule some time to go through old documents, newspaper clippings, photos etc. You can scan stuff that you don’t have room for, but has emotional value.

      I think the biggest challenge can be emotional, rather than logistical. There can be a reluctance to get rid of stuff that has emotional attachment, or to get rid of anything that might be of use, someday in the future. And there’s also the difficulty in accepting that something that has value to you might not to other people – unless you have valuable antiques, the furniture will go for cheap, and it might turn out that no-one even wants the good china, or your old knick-knacks and souvenirs.

    10. Cam*

      The hardest part of getting rid of stuff is that pile of emotional attachment items. The trick is to put all of those items in a garbage bag or box and seal it. Leave it for two weeks (or more if your memory is too good). if you can still name anything in there that you want to keep, you are allowed to pull only that item out again and keep it. Everything else gets donated. (Do not go through the box to get to the one item if you can’t trust yourself! If you have to, describe the item to someone else and have them pull that one out). It doesn’t sound like this will be a problem for you but it’s probably good for your parents, if they have a hard time letting go.

    11. AliceBD*

      I’ve been in a somewhat similar situation — a couple of years my parents moved out of their home of 26 years into a smaller place, right after my brother moved out. And I’m also in my late 20s. :-)

      You should DEFINITELY keep stuff that you’ll need for your new place by yourself. I got a ton of stuff from when my grandmother moved into assisted living and then from when my parents downsized. I don’t live in the same town, but it’s driving distance, and I saved a ton of money compared to all of the rest of my friends. Almost all of my kitchen stuff and furniture came to me that way. And my furniture is solid wood and well made; I didn’t have to get IKEA stuff and put it together myself. So I would empty out one room you don’t use (or an area of a large room, if a single room is not available, but the room is better), and use it as your “stuff for Mica” room. Be realistic about it (you don’t need a guest bedroom set when you’re in a one-bedroom), but I saved thousands of dollars this way.

      My parents had overlap between their new house and their old house, so they went through everything and only moved the stuff they wanted to keep to the new house. Then we had a heavily-publicized estate sale over Labor Day weekend IN the old house. Like a yard sale, only indoors. My dad sat by the front door taking money, so no one could walk off with stuff without paying first. My mom and I and some friends circulated to help people and watch the small stuff. Everything was priced and we did not haggle. This was especially useful because we had some specialty stuff that my mom knows about that she had priced. She had advertised to relevant groups in the area that she was selling the speciality stuff, and a lot of them came. Since it was priced and we didn’t haggle, my dad was able to take money for the speciality stuff he didn’t know the value of. At night we were able to lock the doors and go over to the new house to eat/sleep/etc and all the stuff was securely in the old house.

      To go through things, they started by going through drawers and making sure they wanted to keep everything in the drawers. We also started by going through stuff in the basement storage area. No one wants this set of ugly, outdated lamps, so it should be donated. This is a picture my parents don’t want but it was painted by a relative — text a picture to my aunt and uncle, and one of them took it. My brother and I went through the boxes of children’s books and toys, so we donated the stuff we didn’t want to keep for our kids. (We actually did this virtually, because he lives across the country. I would empty a box out onto the floor, and then look at everything in it. Repack the stuff I wanted to keep, and make a pile of the stuff I didn’t want to keep. Stuff I didn’t want to keep I texted pictures of to my brother, and he identified the ones he wanted to keep. More fuss than doing it in person, but he got his opinion heard while 3000 miles away.) Assuming you don’t have lots of different places for the same stuff, I think room by room is best. Also, within each room, figure out how you’re going to do it, so you don’t miss anything (go around to the right, go around to the left, always do it xyz, etc.)

  34. Ruth (UK)*

    Anyone got any good sign ideas for me? A few days ago, a brick was thrown through the window of a Romanian store in my city (on the street I live on), and the shop was then torched. This is among a rise in hate crime against foreign nationals (especially but by no means limited to eastern europeans – in fact many non-eu people have been targeted) since the Brexit vote, and happened on the same night as a pro-eu rally in my city. I’m going to a ‘solidarity with [my city] migrants’ demonstration next week and want to make a poster/sign.

    My current idea is to just write largely “you are welcome here” and then write the word ‘welcome’ in a number of languages around it (and make a good effort to check I get them right). I hope this is an ok idea.. if anyone else has any good, or clever or funny suggestions I’d like to hear them.

    (incidentally, I’m actually the daughter of an immigrant myself, though people wouldn’t guess if they didn’t know me and I didn’t tell them, since I’m white and have a British accent as I grew up here).

    1. nep*

      That incident — how horrible. And I guess not isolated. Beyond disturbing.
      I like your sign idea.
      (I’ve got a t-shirt that says across the front, simply, HUMAN. Somehow — here in the US as well as there in Europe — it’s more relevant than ever.)

    2. Marzipan*

      That sounds like a great idea – and even just going and showing solidarity is really important.

      In other news, Andrea Leadsom is managing the impressive feat of making us all long for the days when we thought no-one could be worse than Johnson or Gove or May…

      1. Tau*

        I cannot believe I am actively hoping for May to be PM. Cannot. Believe. Like, May on EU immigrants makes me feel like I am getting nonconsensually dragged into a hostage situation and yet Leadsom is still worse. HOW.

        1. nep*

          It’s interesting to read these points of view. The other day I watched a pre-vote debate that featured Leadsom. I’ve been wondering about these public figures and how they’re seen in the UK.

        2. Mander*

          Ugh, me too! I have despised May for years for her inept and unfair handling of the Home Office and immigration, and yet I am desperately hoping that she wins the contest. Unbelievable.

          I now want Cameron to rescind his resignation. That’s how awful everyone else is.

    3. Tau*

      That is a lovely idea! I’d find a sign like that really touching, honestly. I’m EU in the UK myself – not a particulary comfortable position right now! – and it’s hard to describe how much it’s come to mean when someone explicitly goes “you’re welcome and we want you here.”

      And the poor Romanian owners of that store. :( It’s horrifying and, tbh, pretty scary to hear about the rise in hate crimes since the referendum.

    4. Jen RO*

      I was reading about this today (a news article was fairly widely shared by Romanians on FB) and the support was heartwarming. Thank you for being part of that.

      I am sure that the majority of Brits don’t hate immigrants, but I admit that I am a bit worried about my friends and acquaintances living or studying in the UK… (And ugh, I really, really hope we won’t need visas again – I’ve never had to apply for one, because I was fairly young when we joined the EU, but I’ve heard many stories and I would rather not visit the UK again than have to prove that I have enough money in my account and I won’t stay there and beg, or whatever.)

    5. Mander*

      It’s awful. I feel like Brexit has suddenly revealed that I am not living in the nice, reasonably tolerant place I thought I have been in all this time. I have lived in the northeast for 12 years and although I currently spend most of my time in London I thought of myself as an honorary Geordie. Now I’m wondering if my neighbors and acquaintances have secretly hated me all this time.

      I’m a non-EU immigrant at the end of the day, even though I’m now a citizen, and I am worried that I could be a target. Even though this is unlikely since I’m a white American, the guy who was abused on the tram in Manchester was American, too.

      I’m more horrified and worried on behalf of everyone else who is more obviously not stereotypically British, of course. At least half of my colleagues and friends are EU citizens. I think your sign is lovely but I’d also be worried that I might invite problems for myself by displaying it. :-( I’ve been torn between attending various solidarity rallies and demonstrations and being concerned that they might not be safe places to be. I’m planning to get more involved in politics, though, starting with attending a meeting tomorrow.

      However, I have started wearing a safety pin as a visible sign that I am not one of the racists and Europhobes. Perhaps it’s just a cowardly bit of virtue signalling but if I see something happening I will step in and say something.

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        If you want to attend a rally but are worried about it, you can always turn up in normal clothes (ie. not wearing anything obvious like eu flag shirts etc) and without a sign, and not be right in the middle of it. For all anyone knows, you could be an interested passer-by, not someone showing up specifically as part of the demonstration, but your presence would still add another body to the group, making it larger and potentially more effective/noticeable, and they’re also just really interesting to go to. The one last Thursday here had some really great speakers and they had a choir sing as well.

  35. Aurora Leigh*

    Anyone have more cats than their landlord/lease allows?

    I live in an old apartment
    The listing originally said no pets, but when I asked the landlord, he said one cat was okay, but just one, he didn’t want a tribe of cats living in here.

    I’m a good tenant (and the bar is set pretty low in this building). My lease is coming up in a a couple of months, and I’d like to ask about getting another cat. Mine’s a year old and I’d like her to have a friend.

    Should I ask permission or forgiveness? He rarely checks in and my current kitty hides under the bed on the occassions I’ve asked him in.

    It’s ridiculously hard to find pet friendly apartments in my small town, so should I just be happy with the cat I have?

    1. BRR*

      I never suggest getting a pet that’s not allowed just to be safe. If it’s a non corporate rental you can ask and offer pet rent or a pet deposit and show how nothing has been damaged.

    2. Marcela*

      I’d go for ask if you have been a good tenant and believe your landlord to be a reasonable person. The first time we saw our now home and talked to our landlord, he said he rather have no cats here. We didn’t have a cat yet, but we told him we would love to get one, and being denied permission would be a deal breaker. Next time we talked, he accepted one cat and added him to our contract. So we got our baby :D

      1. TootsNYC*

        I’d ask–you’ve been a good tenant, and his concern is “a tribe.”

        So stress that you really only want two, more than that is too much.
        And emphasize the concept that the cat needs a friend. Because he sounds like a basically nice guy, and the emotional appeal might work.

        And have in the background the idea that you could offer a pet deposit or something.

        1. fposte*

          Thirding this. I see a lot of people on legal boards asking if their landlord can really make them move just because they snuck in a cat, and of course the answer is yes.

        2. Aurora Leigh*

          I like this idea! I thought about mentioning that most of rentals in town (that allow pets at all) allow 2 but that seemed confrontational. Any other thoughts on arguements I could use?

          1. fposte*

            Appeal to his nice streak. “We so appreciate you letting Kitty live here, and it’s made us very happy tenants, which I hope has been mutual. We’re hearing a lot about how cats are happier in pairs–we’d never go over two, but we’re wondering if you’d be open to letting us have a second cat now that you see how low-impact we’ve been able to keep cat-owning.” If he pauses, say “I don’t want to push you on this, but if you’d be willing to think about it and get back to us, we’d appreciate it.” Because you really *don’t* want to push him on it and get a grudging yes that he regrets later.

          2. NYC Redhead*

            Landlords are probably worried about smell, damage and noise, so perhaps you could argue that your one cat meows or scratches to get your attention, but with a friend he will be more amused and won’t?

    3. Kittens*

      I bring you two perspectives on this:

      My apartment complex is pet friendly, but my city has a (ridiculous and unenforced) 3 animal max rule that the building adheres to. When we moved in we had 2 cats and a dog, now we have 3 cats, a dog, and new foster cat. We told them about the dog because you can’t exactly hide a 50 pound pit bull, but we just sort of “forgot” to mention the extra cats, because we have to pay a $25 per month per animal fee and it adds up! Our building manager is very hands off, and since they know there are cats already, we don’t worry about them being “busted” if they’re looking out the window while the building manager comes by. So, from one perspective, go for it! Indoor cats are super stealthy and I’ve never once regretted 3rd cat or fosters, plus I have the legal resources and know-how to deal if for some reason they found out.

      Flipside: my brother moved into his apartment being told by the roommate that it was pet friendly. Turns out that was a complete fib. He’s lived there for a year, one day roommate let in the landlord for a maintenance thing while brother was working and the kitties slipped out of the bedroom door, landlord sees, brother is told cats have to be out in 30 days. So now cats are hanging out at his girlfriends house while he looks for a new place (also in a city that’s hard to find animal-friendly housing), and it sucks for him to be without them, even temporarily.

      1. Ex Resume Reviewer*

        I’ll add a third perspective — moved into a rental during college with a friend and we both had pets. Complex was no pets but they made an exception because they were small caged pets. Practically EVERY other unit had a cat or dog in it as well, so we started accumulating more pets, to the point where we had 3 more than our limit, including a cat that was left at a friend’s apartment after the owner moved. Friend just couldn’t afford to feed it, so we took it in.

        Well we tried to keep the cat out of the window and it didn’t work, the landlord came by one day and saw cats and dogs everywhere and launched a MASSIVE crackdown on all buildings. We finally had to let them in to inspect, but I luckily didn’t answer the door when the certified notice came by so we had a few days to smuggle the cat out to another friend’s. State law gives you 3 days to get out for having an illegal pet if the landlord wanted to exercise it.

        We cleaned up all traces of cat hair, hid the other two extra pets in the closet (caged) and made it through without a blemish, but it was very stressful because my city is not pet friendly and we didn’t want to lose our other pets as well. Do not screw with your living situation; get permission first! I’ve always had landlords happy to work with me when I was upfront about it.

        1. Ex Resume Reviewer*

          Also the landlord went right for the living room curtains, but luckily my roommate had spied the hair there and cleaned it off. That was how we weren’t pinned for it.

        2. Kittens*

          What?? Wow. I know this is a total AAM cliche, but to any lawyers out there, this is a legit question: is that legal? I was under the impression that a landlord couldn’t legally enter your premises outside of a few very specific circumstances.

          1. Noah*

            Usually they just have to give notice and they don’t even have to do that if there is an emergency like a burst pipe or a gas leak.

          2. Ex Resume Reviewer*

            These buildings were 4-plexes that had an inside hallway with washers and dryers… this was just after they came by and put up some notices on those, so I believe that’s why they were there. But no, state law here requires 24 hours notice unless it is an emergency. So we had to consent before they could come in and inspect for the cat.

            We got a few days though because they’d sent notice by certified mail, and I happened to be feeling grumpy and decided not to answer the door for the mailman, and when we received the notice in the regular mail, we deliberately decided to never pick up the certified copy at the post office. Had I answered the door, we would’ve been screwed because that would’ve started the 24 hour notice clock.

    4. Caledonia*

      Since you already know that “it’s ridiculously hard to find pet friendly apartments in your small town” why would you put yourself in the position of trying to find a new place if your landlord says no and you’ve already gotten another cat?

      I would ask your landlord first.

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        Basically, because a friend who’s opinion I generally respect has an extra at her place and because the likliehood of the landlord noticing seems pretty slim. My instinct was more towards ask first, but advice I was getting in real life seemed to differ.

    5. Pearl*

      I know people in college who lost apartments when unapproved pets were discovered. I would err on the side of asking first. Some people had to get rid of their pets and others had to really scramble to find another place to live in a pet-unfriendly city. Also, I don’t know if this is common – when I adopted my cat, the shelter called the landlord to make sure it was actually allowed, even though I’d brought a copy of my lease with me.

    6. lucina*

      Another thing to consider is that your cat probably needs a friend less than you think. You could maker her miserable by bringing another cat in the house.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Echoing everyone who said Ask First. My friend is a landlord. He does not want pets in the rental, but sometimes he will wave that rule. BUT. If he finds out there are more pets than he was told about he gets crazed. He feels the people have showed a willingness to lie to him and he starts to wonder what else they are lying about. (He has been screwed over a lot.)
      It’s not worth trying to pull one over on the landlord. Ask. If he says no, then sadly that is the answer.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I agree with this. We had a wonderful relationship with our last landlord in NYC (we rented a condo) because we were always up front with him. Before we started the adoption process for our dog, we emailed and asked permission, which he very kindly gave. Had he said no, I would have been disappointed, sure. And if I had decided to go ahead anyway, I might have lost out on a few things, like the excellent reference letter he wrote us (in which he also praised our buddy), the early return of our security deposit, and the note that we didn’t need to worry about spackling the picture holes in the walls when we moved out.

    8. Temperance*

      When I was renting, if it was from a corporate place, I would smuggle my ferrets in. For privately owned places, I would ask. One of my last landlords threw a fit about our ferret, even though she knew that the pet had a cage, because … she didn’t think ferrets ever needed to run around? IDK.

    9. Mando Diao*

      Ask first. A lease is a legal document and if it says no pets then you’d be violating the lease by sneaking one in. You’d have no recourse if your landlord wanted to kick you out over it. As someone with major pet allergies, it sucks to look at “pet free” apartments and realize immediately that pets have lived there.

      1. Ex Resume Reviewer*

        This too. I’d get bits of cat fur on my clothes from the dryer for months after I moved in here, and this is the cleanest rental I’ve had in my town. (Lived here a while before getting my cat.)

  36. y'all seem to give good advice on dysfunctional families, so let's try this*

    I just found out that my younger sibling is starting his surgical transition, which is great for him and everything, but now I’m SO CONFUSED (and pissed) because years ago when I was still talking to my mother she flipped out when I mentioned I eventually wanted a hysterectomy. If this doesn’t demonstrate how I was treated differentially than my siblings, I don’t know what does.

    On a related note, the first therapist I tried in this town turned out to be a total failure. I explicitly told her I didn’t want medication, she brings it up twice, then when I tell her I’m mad at her because she brought it up when I told her not to, she says, “I understand why you’re upset. So have you been thinking about medication?” Like WTF?? And then she’s all surprised when I say I don’t want to see her anymore. I can’t be the only one who’s had to deal with bad therapists, can I?

    1. Temperance*

      It’s about your family, not you. There’s nothing wrong with *you* that causes your family to treat you differently from your brother. My mother favors my youngest sister and my brother (only boy), as does the rest of the family. I choose to mostly not spend time with them, to be honest, because I’m not defective and spending time with them makes me feel like I am.

    2. bearing*

      No. The first therapist I tried was a complete dud. I figured out after a few sessions why, when every other therapist had a waiting list for new patients that was months long, her calendar was wiiiiiiiide open.

      I did much better the second time by doing some research and being willing and (luckily) able to pay cash/get reimbursed by insurance rather than picking from the sparsely available “takes our insurance” list.

    3. Sibley*

      Captain Awkward’s blog. Seriously. She’s addressed trans- stuff. Boundaries. Irrational people. Etc. And you might get a laugh out of it – I greatly enjoy her writing style.

    4. Camellia*

      Nope. It can take multiple tries to find a compatible therapist, but it is worth the effort.

    5. Dynamic Beige*

      As someone who hasn’t really been in a place to afford therapy, I’ve done a lot of reading of self help books. It may not be the same as getting input from a neutral third party but I’ve managed to understand a lot based on that and through journaling. It might help you while you search for a therapist you mesh with.

      One of the books I’ve found very helpful was Running on Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect by Jonice Webb. https://www.amazon.com/Running-Empty-Overcome-Childhood-Emotional/dp/161448242X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1468116311&sr=1-1&keywords=overcome+your+childhood+emotional+neglect It really framed for me how while my parents weren’t abusive in the ways people think of abuse (i.e., no beatings) being ignored is neglect and that is a form of abuse. I mean, it’s one thing to say “Parent was an alcoholic” but what does that mean to you as the child who had the alcoholic parent? It was the parent who drank, who had an addiction issue, who was X, Y or Z — not the child. The child is affected because they can’t rely on their parent or their parent has inappropriate behaviours, and they cope by whatever means they can with their limited understanding and capabilities. Without learning new ways to deal, those behaviours continue on as the child grows up.

      Another book that I’m considering reading is It Didn’t Start with You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle.
      Some of the comments give me pause but I know there’s a lot of trauma in my family’s history and I’m curious about how this book addresses it.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      You paved the way? From what I see the first kid that does/wants X is when the stuff hits the fan. The second kid who does/wants X gets less or no reaction. I have watched this too many times. Yeah, it burns. It can even end family relationships.

      Sometimes all we get is to know there are patterns that some families/individuals follow. If we see a pattern of behaviors we can then make a plan to protect ourselves from the fallout of those behaviors. Ex: My friend steals from me. Solution: Realize that this is her pattern and stop letting her in my house. This protects me from her behavior.

      I think it’s tough finding a good therapist. I went twice in my life for problems that were happening at those points. Both people needed more help than I did. Seriously. These two people were in tough shape. My suggestion is to find someone who cannot prescribe. The second person I went to was able to prescribe and he kept looking for a pill for me. He kept asking what medical tests I wanted and so on. It was to the point where he was not following the conversation. “Well my parent died and I am upset” was met with “well maybe you should have x medical test or y pill”. Honestly, I don’t think he knew anything about how to actually help me.

      While you are looking for your next therapist, I agree with DB about checking out some self-help books. I got more relevant help and I got faster help by reading these types of books than I did with Dr. Drug. I understand that medications help some folks, but I knew medications were not for me. That was not the help I needed. Sometimes we just intuitively know what isn’t going to work.

      I think the number one thing I have learned is that when our parents fail us, we owe it to ourselves to be a good parent to ourselves. This means take care of you, above all else. Make sure your basic needs are met and make sure you talk gently/kindly to yourself.

    7. Mando Diao*

      The oldest kids always bears the brunt Ina lot of ways. Parents ease up once they’re sure that at least one if their kids won’t be a screwup.

      As for your therapist, have you asked her why she thinks you need medication? There are some situations where the whole point of the therapy is that the person has struggles that warrant medication. Has your therapist communicated that to you? Do you have reasons for refusing medication under all circumstances?

    8. France*

      Just a note on the therapist, never go in with a ‘I don’t want medication’ and then refuse to talk about it or get offended at a recommendation.

      I once had a similar viewpoint, I didn’t want to be on any medications because I had just got off a whole bunch from a medical condition. My therapist was talking about anti-depressants and I got really mad at her, I told her I didn’t want to be on them and stopped talking about it. Then she brought it up again, and again.

      She kept on bringing it up because she knew I was majorly depressed and therapy wasn’t an effective treatment for me. Just because I didn’t WANT them didn’t mean that I didn’t need them. She kind of put me in my place one session and told me that therapy meant I had to be open, she said I clearly had a problem with just the idea of taking medication and that was something that we had to work through before I could make a definite decision that I didn’t want any medications to help.

      So for me, we had to start talking about my past medication experiences, my anxiety with taking a new medication, the pros and cons of medication, and potential alternatives I could try before needing to seriously consider it.

    9. Elizabeth West*

      You are not. My mum is a therapist and she has to deal with the fallout from bad ones all the time. And as others have said, it might be time to distance yourself from the family dysfunction for a while.

  37. Elle*

    Posted last week about my dog going in to see if her heart murmur had progressed, and I am happy to report that it is the same as it was 3 months ago, so she is in good shape for the time being! I really appreciated the kind words I received last week!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Yipppee. And you know what? It might never get worse. My friend was bequeathed a dog when his friend passed away. The dog was diagnosed with a heart issue when she was just a few years old. She is now TEN years old (seven years later) and has as much bounce and liveliness as she ever did.

      Just keep an eye and don’t let the dog get too overweight, weight will tax a healthy heart. So you have the heads up to keep your eye on it and that is actually a good thing. She will probably live longer because of you knowing.

      1. LuvThePets*

        Great News!!!! We love our pets. So glad to hear that you sweet baby got good news this week.

  38. Temperance*

    Crowdsourcing: does anyone have any recommendations for books about organization, both home and personal? I just finished “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”, and it wasn’t the right book for me – too touchy-feely or something. Other non-fiction and cookbooks would be awesome, too. (Or books about food!)

    Due to recent issues with SEPTA, my daily commute tripled, so I’m trying to read more to make the best of it. I don’t really feel like reading fiction lately.

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      I really liked Organizing from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern. It’s probably 10 years old now, but it’s not like “putting stuff away where it makes sense to you” (this is the core concept but obviously the book goes into more depth) is advice that becomes outdated over time.

      1. Trillian*

        I particularly like that she gets you to keep the parts that working for you, and look at ways to extend the approach, as opposed to prescribing a system.

    2. TootsNYC*

      people really like Julie Morgenstern. She was big way before Marie Kondo. And she has updated her really big book: Organizing from the Inside Out.

      She focuses on how you think about things, without blaming or shaming. So, a psychological approach combined w/ practical strategy, but not quite such an emotional or esoteric psychological approach as Marie Kondo.


    3. fposte*

      I’m not deep enough into it for a real endorsement, but I’ve been liking the “A Slob Comes Clean” blog and I downloaded her Kindle book, which I haven’t read yet. There does seem to be a religious component but it hasn’t been as palpable as it is on Flylady, and it’s useful to have the recovering slob perspective rather than the organized from birth view.

      1. fposte*

        Okay, I’ve finished it and the e-book isn’t worth getting. But I still like some of the blog posts.

    4. Lauren*

      Ooh, do I have suggestions for nonfiction. First, any books by Simon Winchester, Henry Petroski and Mary Roach. Outstanding writers in their fields; who knew geology (etc.), science and engineering could be so interesting! Almost any book by Bill Bryson. Very funny writer, and so engaging when he does it well–which he mostly does. For books about food how about the following:

      Perfection Salad: Women and Cooking at the Turn of the Century
      Vanilla: The Cultural History of the World’s Favorite Flavor and Fragrance
      Blithe Tomato by Mike Madison
      What Einstein Told His Cook
      Alone in the Kitchen With an Eggplant: Confessions of Cooking for One and Dining Alone
      Heirlooms: Letters from a Peach Farmer
      Broccoli and Other Tales of Food and Love
      How Carrots Won the Trojan War: curious (but True) Stories of Common Vegetables
      Fresh: A Perishable History
      Citrus: A History
      The Fruit Hunters: A Story of Nature, Adventure, Commerce & Obsession
      Into Thin Air

    5. TootsNYC*


      Danny Meyer, “Setting the Table” (about his experience in opening restaurants)

      Stanley Coren, “Sleep Thieves”
      Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman, “Nurture Shock”

      William Bryant Logan, “Oak: The Frame of Civilization” (loved this one!)

  39. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    A lot of recent law grads/people soon to attend law school ask me what my experience was like. I don’t mince words. But–someone asked me a question–what about people with chronic conditions who attend law school? I did my research today and could only find a couple. Leading me to ask:

    1) Has anybody attended law school with a chronic condition (MS, diabetes, etc.)?
    2) What did you do about medical insurance?
    3) What was your experience like?

    1. First Initial dot Last Name*

      I didn’t go to law school, but I do have a graduate degree, and incidentally my spouse who is in grad school has diabetes.

      Schools, in my experience require you to have medical insurance and offer a group plan, the expense gets tacked onto your school expenses.

      My spouses diabetes is well managed and doesn’t seem to effect their studies in anyway at all. They take snacks to class, carry their insulin and manage accordingly, spouse gets through school days just fine.

      Sorry I can’t speak to the law school experience specifically.

    2. Cookie*

      For law school in particular, anyone with a condition that precludes drinking should be aware of the heavy drinking culture.

      1. Ella*

        There are plenty of lawyers who don’t drink though. I wouldn’t let that put you off. For example, there are many Mormon lawyers who don’t drink.

  40. LuvThePets*

    I would love to get other readers feedback on today’s neighborhood etiquette or whether I am just a grumpy neighbor. My husband and teenage daughter and I live in a nice neighborhood in a cul-de-sac. Our neighborhood has large lots and is the type where kids can go outside and play with little (no) supervision. We just got new neighbors with kids ages 7 and 9, and now there are lots of kids playing in the cul-de-sac. The problem is, there is no respect for any of our neighbors boundaries. The kids are riding their bikes in all of the driveways in the cul-de-sac, leaving their belongings in our yard, and playing in our yard.

    I am not suggesting that they are playing in their yard and come into our yard to retrieve a toy that has come into our yard; rather, they see our yard and driveway as an extension of their own. They have left bikes in the un-fenced portion of our back yard overnight. I have had to get out of my car and move their belongings just to get to my house when coming home. Once, we caught someone hiding in our carport during a game of hide and seek.

    Am I overreacting to want this to stop? It’s driving both my dogs and my daughter crazy, so I don’t know if I have the right perspective. My daughter has anxiety and some other mental health issues that can make her overreact to some things, and this is really bothering her. So… Do I say something to the parents to ask them to have the kids stay more in their own yards and the common areas, or do I try to calm down everyone in my own house?

    Thanks for your input!

    1. TootsNYC*

      You have concrete reasons for approaching the mom and dad and asking them to establish boundaries for their kids.

      Their stuff is in your way, it’s stressing your family out.

      So I would start w/ the parents. And then if that didn’t seem to work, I’d go straight to the kids in a very cordial, informational way: “We really don’t want you to play on our lawn; here is where the property line is, and we’re going to ask you to stay on the side of it.”

      I will say that it might be nice if you could see your way to one concession–like, they can ride their bike into your driveway in order to turn around, as long as they aren’t yelling (if your dog could adjust to that), if that would make a big difference in how much fun it is to ride a bike (it would have made a big difference for me). It might make you seem less like a curmudgeon, which might make your requests more effective.
      (this is a strategy suggestion, not any indication that I think you’re required to do this)

    2. Temperance*

      It is 100% absolutely and totally reasonable not to want these kids in your yard. I think it might be time to pop over to their parents and let them know that the kids are constantly in *your* yard, leaving their crap all over your driveway, and upsetting your dogs. (I would leave your daughter out of it, but that’s just my .02.) You can tell them about having to move the kids’ stuff to park your car IN YOUR OWN CARPORT and about how your dogs are very sensitive.

      1. Artemesia*

        “I’m so afraid I will end up driving over a bike or toy.” might be tossed in there. Concern for the kids even faux concern softens the message a bit but there is no way this will stop if you don’t deal with it directly. Having a dog that gets upset and not wanting to run over toys in your driveway are both reasons slightly higher than ‘get off my lawn’ and make the get off my lawn stance seem more reasonable.

    3. fposte*

      A little of both, but especially yes on calming down your daughter, I think. Unless you live out in the middle of nowhere, other people’s lives bleed into yours and vice versa, and managing that is a lifelong life skill.

      If I’m understanding correctly, it’s only the kids of this one neighbor who then have guests–that makes it easier than if it’s the kids of every house in the cul-de-sac. Talk to the parents. Identify the things that are most problems rather than making it “Don’t touch my stuff”–parking stuff in your yard and driveway so you can’t use your own space, expanding games to your place so that there’s a risk somebody will get hurt–and emphasize what you *are* okay with, like retrieving lost balls, chalking up your driveway, whatever you think you’re okay with their still doing. Realize also that they might not be able to control what other people’s kids do, even if those kids are visiting their own.

      And if you don’t already, consider cultivating more of a relationship with these neighbors, and encouraging your daughter to do the same. That makes the kids less invading strangers and more overrevved little siblings or cousins, and helps put you all on the same team. That’s particularly advantageous as the kids get older and they can be genuinely useful :-).

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I agree that working to calm the situation down will be helpful to your daughter and this includes finding ways to calm yourself down. I remember how upset I would get when I saw my parents upset- it’s contagious.

        Cul-de-sacs tend to have these types of things go on. People pick cul-de-sacs because of all the interaction they have with their neighbors.

        You could set up an area in your yard to pile up forgotten toys. Or you could pile the toys up on your neighbor’s lawn. But only if you can do it in good humor.

        If you knew the kids’ names you could call them by name and ask them to move their toy.
        Honestly, I would use the example of almost driving over a bike to show how it is to their advantage to move the toy. “Oh my! If I had hit it, you would no longer have a bike! Then you would be sad!”

        I have a shared driveway here. For 20 plus years I have had to check the driveway before backing out. Sometimes I turn around on my lawn because I am not absolutely certain that someone will not step out behind my car. In return, I have the best neighbors, they help with plowing the driveway; when my husband got sick they mowed and weedeated; they have started my car for me; checked my smoking furnace and helped when there was a stranger on my front porch at 2 am.

        There might be some wonderful life long relationships right here. Hold things in the best possible light and see where that puts you.

    4. Momiitz*

      If the neighbor kids left something in my yard overnight they sure as hell wouldn’t be getting it back. At least not for a week or two. Let them learn personal responsibility by just putting in the garage for a couple weeks. “we didn’t know it was yours”

    5. Lady Kelvin*

      I know everyone else here is saying that you aren’t overreacting, and I don’t necessarily disagree. However I grew up playing in all the yards in my block without any thought as to who they belonged to. The difference is that my parents expected and enforces us to make sure we put everything away every day, even in own yards. So I’d start with the parents, saying something like”we noticed that your kids have been leaving their toys and bikes our yard and driveway. We can’t guarantee that we won’t hit them when we are coming or leaving, can you make sure that they clean them up when they are done playing?” Then if they still don’t listen tell the parents that you are going to assume that things left in your yard are there because the kids no longer want them, and follow through. Remove them and the kids will learn not to leave them there.

      1. LuvThePets*

        Thanks everyone for chiming in! I knew I would get some great perspective. All of my family are introverts, and I have been trying to make myself ask the new neighbors over because I know its the right thing to do, but we’ve had a less than easy year, especially in the few months since the neighbors moved in, so my motivation to reach out has been terrible, (actually, I lost my job in a messy, unexpected way). BUT, reading the posts and thinking about it has made me realize that doing the FRIENDLY thing as suggested by several of you would have many great benefits. Like, well, making friends. But, beyond that, giving my daughter a resource if she ever needed one and we’re not around. I have had some tunnel vision because of my own struggles, I didn’t look at the BIGGER big picture. I also like the idea of granting certain concessions, but asking that when possible the kids respect other boundaries. I will also ask my daughter to work on that as well. Life is all about give and take and finding win-win solutions. So maybe it’s fine to ride in the driveway, but not play ball where they upset the dogs. Whew!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Now you’ve got it. You will never regret working at this. Most of your neighbors probably run on the introverted side also. They won’t move in with you, I promise.

          In as much as my neighbors have done for me, I have “rescued” a kid at home with no adult a couple times, caught a few loose dogs, threw blankets over people while the firemen thoroughly checked there house, found a loaner wheelchair for someone with a broken foot and helped them to learn to navigate stairs. Not trying to brag here, just showing this is how life goes. They bail you and you look for ways to say thanks, then they look for ways to tell you thanks and it just keeps going that way.

          Interestingly, most of my relationships with my neighbors take place outside. We very seldom come in each other’s houses. It’s almost like everyone understands because we live close to each other we have to grant each other some personal space.

        2. TootsNYC*

          Or, they can use half of your lawn for tag and spaceman, but they need to stay some sort of distance away from the house, etc.

    6. Mando Diao*

      Just for perspective, your neighbors are trespassing, and the police would be on your side if your called them.

      I’m not suggesting that you call the police. But you need to tell the parents that you have no intention of bearing liability for their kids getting hurt in your property and that you’ll be throwing away any personal items that are left on your property. You can’t have other peoples kids playing unsupervised on your property unless you love paying other peoples medical bills. Tell them officially that their kids are not welcome on the property you are paying for.

    7. France*

      It would be very reasonable to go to the parents and have a friendly conversation. You can explain that you realize they are kids and may not understand but you and your family are bothered when they are playing on your property. You can ask them to tell their children that your property is off limits – you can even be generous and explain that if they want to use your property for a game of hide-and-seek or something needing space, they can just knock on your door and ask if that is okay.

      You can even get those little garden sized fences and outline your yard with them, then you can show the kids an actual boundary that they cannot cross, this is especially helpful if you have a connected yard.

    8. stevenz*

      I can see how that would be annoying, but it reminds of exactly the way we were when I was a kid. Everyplace was ours. We weren’t allowed to cause damage of any kind or be rude or stuff like that, but it was a “village” and no one would have thought to question our sharing of space. We even used to just run in and out of other kids’ houses now and then. Frankly, your situation sounds like an old-fashioned ideal to me.

      If I were you (or is it if you were me? I never know), I’d try to explain it to your daughter in terms that make it sound like a good things – “see how all these nice kids love you”, and help the dog settle down. (We played with dogs, too.) When I find other kids’ stuff in my driveway I just roll my eyes and remember when I did it. And as long as they’re only playing hide and seek, they aren’t doing any harm by hiding in your car port. (It’s when they hide in the garage and you close the door without knowing they are there! That’s the fun part!)

      They’re just kids and I think this is all part of living in a cul de sac.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        The problem with “they’re just kids” is that a lot of people don’t teach their kids to respect property like they used to, when it was a village. They just let them run all over and then get mad when you try to say something, even if it’s a safety issue.

        And the OP does not want this stuff/these kids on their property. Their space, their right.

  41. Trixie*

    Trying to upload video for new certification and it’s taking FOREVER. Expected, yes but really no way to know if it’s uploading or stuck. Due today so I’ll go to Dropbox as plan B. If it’s under 2GB, it should be good. So happy when this is done. Started mid-May and can’t wait to cross of my list!

  42. nep*

    Anyone other US readers sick and damned tired of the noise and smell (and hazard) of all the fireworks? I got on line 5 July and signed a petition to ban people from using these huge fireworks — and saw that a lot of residents were right there with me. For what it will be worth, I’ll also write to my state legislators. It was worse this year than I can recall from past years. Pure insanity.
    (What is it like for people who have been in combat? Certainly we can’t generalise; everyone experiences things differently…But I’d be interested to hear. I once lived in a place where that sort of noise was often gunfire, and I can’t stand it.)

    1. Temperance*

      I am in the minority – I LOVE fireworks, and miss living in a rural place where we all (illegally) lit off fireworks in our yards to celebrate Independence Day. I really loved doing that and seeing my neighbors do that. It wouldn’t fly here.

    2. nonegiven*

      It’s illegal to blow fireworks inside city limits but that doesn’t seem to slow anyone down.

    3. fposte*

      I love proper fireworks. Random home noisemakers are a whole ‘nother thing. There is actually a neighborhood group trying to figure out the location of somebody who lets off mortar shells or something similar all year round, sometimes late at night.

    4. Rebecca*

      I live in the country, so someone is always shooting, and there are times I believe the township next door has launched an invasion due to so many explosions and fireworks at random times throughout the year. It doesn’t bother me, and no one calls 911. I spoke to a woman who moved here from a more populated area, and the first day she was here she called 911 to report gunshots, and was a bit baffled that this is just a common thing here.

      I just tune it out. I do see your point about PTSD though; I hadn’t thought of that. I’d like to think my neighbors would chill a bit if they knew it was upsetting someone.

    5. Sami*

      I love a big, bright and beautiful fireworks display. Once or twice a year. Around the 4th of July.
      Firecrackers are a whole different story. Those I hate. With the ferocity of the burning embers of them.

      1. nep*

        I used the wrong word — I get the large fireworks displays. Put on by professionals in designated areas. Almost bearable. Indeed I meant to write firecrackers — all the stuff people play with and sometimes get reckless with in their neighbourhoods. For days — before and after the fourth. And into the wee hours.

    6. SAHM*

      I live in the suburbs now but as a teen I was guilty of lighting off fireworks- but we lived in a more rural area that’s since been built up. Now as a mom of 2 dogs, 2 cats and three kids (Baby Ellie is 11 days old!) it was straight up Aweful for an idiot neighbor to blast off three mortars in their backyard. My poor dog ran and hid under the toilet (we turned on the fan and let him hide there for the next few nights, can barely hear the noise of the firecrackers with the fan on). The cats were terrified, and it woke Baby E up. Generally I’m ok with firecrackers, but the mortars terrified all the small beings.

    7. salad fingers*

      I live in a neighborhood where I people love to light quarter sticks of dynamite from June through July. The pure “boom” stuff. I don’t like it, necessarily, but I suppose I don’t begrudge them their fun. I do wonder how vets and dogs feel, though.

      My neighborhood is also one with relatively frequent gunfire, but guns do sound pretty different from fireworks. Probably not a bragging point that I can tell the difference between the two.

    8. catsAreCool*

      I like the big pretty fireworks that cities and Disneyland put on. I don’t like the loud and surprising fireworks that people in my neighborhood set off at random times, including late at night. For one thing, I don’t know who’s setting them off, if they know what they’re doing, and I think the explosive fireworks are illegal here.

    9. No real name for this*

      I was totally fine with loud fireworks until this year when I saw somebody die on the street from a gunshot wound. It was self-inflicted, but still very scary. The personal, loud noise fireworks this year have freaked me out. I do like the actual fireworks shows, though.

    10. misspiggy*

      I’m surprised the police don’t come down hard on the personal firecrackers – the ones that sound like gunshot. They’ve been banned in the UK I think.

      1. Nancypie*

        We used to have a neighbor who did personal fireworks (landing dangerously in people’s roofs and trees and stuff), and the police didn’t want to do anything official about it because the punishment was actually quite severe. I think if it had been less serious they would have cracked down on it, but since it was so harsh they didn’t want to. Same neighbor also unrelatedly set his garage on fire, but still had a big fireworks display on the 4th.

    11. Cookie*

      I live in a city near a venue that does fireworks every weekend in the summer (Friday and Saturday nights, sometimes other weeknights for special events). It is extremely annoying as it means it’s hard to get to bed early and it frightens my pets. I definitely wouldn’t want to have small children here.

    12. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I love the fireworks. We’re only allowed to light them in our town from a few days before to a few days after the fourth, but there are always the few random people who still have a few bottle rockets left after the cut-off date.

      I did recently see that one of my fellow church members is a former combat veteran with PTSD, and the fireworks are problematic for her. Another veteran suggested that they both join a group of other veterans that stays annually at a nearby resort town where fireworks are banned.

      My brother just retired after twenty years in the Marines, where he was deployed to Iraq twice and saw plenty of combat, and the fireworks don’t bother him at all.

    13. Cam*

      My husband is a combat vet and the illegal back yard fireworks in our neighborhood have been really affecting his mental health this week. Night terrors keeping us both up and increased anxiety and depression during the day even when there aren’t any active fireworks. Last year, we spent the 4th in Ireland and it was perfect but we can’t afford to travel internationally every year just to get away from the noise. Maybe next year we’ll have to find a drought striken area that takes firework bans seriously? If anyone has advice for how to escape the noise without leaving the US, I’d love to hear it!

      1. Cruciatus*

        This may not help much, but there are signs that say something like “combat vet lives here, please be courteous with your fireworks.” If people in the neighborhood saw that leading up to the days before they would set them off it’s possible there would be fewer going off in the area. Most people don’t even think about who it might affect but if they see something like that it could actually make them think twice about it.

        1. nep*

          Some friends were talking about those signs. I like the sentiment and the gesture but really when the firecrackers and whatever else people are using are so loud and plentiful, there is no escaping that noise.

      2. Dynamic Beige*

        Camping in a national forest/park? I mean the type where you hike in and make your campsite, not the type where they have campsites already staked out and you choose from a map. The further you are from other people in general, the less likely there are going to be fireworks, I would think?

        If you live near the Canadian border, Canada Day is July 1st and that’s when we shoot off fireworks. If you traveled on the 2nd, it would all be over by the then. There are pretty strict laws in Ontario about purchasing fireworks, I’m not sure you can even buy them after the 1st. I have noticed that the campground on the other side of the ravine from me has fireworks on the 4th (I can hear them faintly), so I imagine a lot of Americans travel up for the holiday.

        You might want to try Googling “non-firework fourth of july” or something like that. It seems to me that there are probably a lot of people in your situation who want to celebrate quietly. I’m kind of surprised that no one has come up with some sort of alternate celebration that takes that into account.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Not to liken you guys to my dog, but I had a dog who was very fearful- fireworks, thunderstorms. Fortunately, the dog would go along with ideas that people came up with and it worked. If there was lightening, I had blackout shades in one bedroom and I used a radio to muddle the claps of thunder. We would sleep in there during storms or on the 4th of July. I found that the radio/tv also worked for fireworks, in other rooms if I wanted to stay up and read or something. We can’t see the displays from the house, we can only hear them. These ideas worked great.

        For people, if you put the radio near a window it makes it a bit harder to distinguish the booms from the sounds on the radio.

        I’d also recommend some vitamin E maybe some vitamin B, don’t get synthetic vitamins, use vitamins from natural sources. See, the sudden noises can tie into heart issues. Not saying like a medical issue but rather like heartache/sadness. Fortify the heart and the vascular system.

      4. E*

        We live in the woods and our nearest neighbor is a vet so she understands and gave us a heads up this year when they were about to set off a few. That said, other than them we heard very little during that week. Perhaps you can find a local campsite and pitch a tent out away from the majority of the noisy folk for a night?

    14. Anxa*

      I’m from an area with lots of town fireworks. They are schedules and community events. I loved that.

      I’m not a fan of my current area with crappy town fireworks and a month long trend of those noisemakery ones. Plus it goes on all year long. I hate the ‘gunshots or fireworks’ game.

  43. the gold digger*

    Anyone here bake madelines? I have decided I want to. (Nope. Don’t know why.) I am looking at tins on eBay and don’t know which brands are good (and are not made in China) and if non-stick is better to regular.

    1. TootsNYC*

      madeleines are lovely to eat. That’s why.

      I like them with a slightly crisp edge and crust, but not THAT much crisper, so I don’t like nonstick for baking, since it gets hotter.

      I like silver for most baking (back when I could), but the one trick to not ever needing nonstick is to set a timer for 10 minutes when you take the pan out of the oven, and then remove the baked goods when the timer goes off.

      Especially for shaped baking pans like madeleines and bundt pans, this is a very handy trick. The baked goods pop right out without sticking (well, it’s smart to do a little teasing of the cake from the edge, but…).

      They’re not cheap, but I love love my Fat Daddio’s baking pans.

    2. Pleiades*

      I don’t, personally, but I can definitely see the appeal. They are tasty, and cute looking, and Proustian, too.

      For what it’s worth, I really like the idea of having a signature baked good that you make (and have all the accouterments for). You’ll get your recipe down pat and will always have something nice to bring/gift/make for a dinner party.

      I hope they bake up beautifully for you!

      1. TootsNYC*

        ooh, yes to the idea of getting the recipe down pat!

        I used to think it wouldn’t make that much difference.

        And then I made choc.chip cookies 52 times in a year (nope, not exaggerating). And discovered that I was faster at it, better at gauging the time, had perfected the exact amount of time needed to get the perfect texture…

        (Though, to get the time right, I baked one cookie for 10 minutes, one for 10.5, one for 11, for 11.5, for 12. I did them one at a time and allowed them to cool the normal time before testing them. And I decided that 11.5 was perfect)

    3. Kate R. Pillar (DE)*

      Ah, I know I am late with this – but you might also consider silicone moulds.

      We baked hundreds of madeleines for our wedding three years ago, using silicone moulds and it was ridiculously easy. Took some experimenting with the baking times, but once we had that down…
      The madeleines come out of the moulds very easily and you can re-use the mould at once for the next batch as it cooly really quickly.

      I don’t have a direct comparison with other moulds, unfortunately – I would imagine that in metallic moulds tey get a bit crisper, perhaps?

  44. designbot*

    Partly just venting, but I knew folks here would understand, but suggestions are appreciated… My husband and I are fixing up our majorly run-down, 100-year-old house. However due to different work schedules and talents, our neighbors often see me working in the front yard/porch alone, most weekends for hours at a time. This is often actually enjoyable for me, as it can sometimes be the only alone time I get all week, but one neighbor has decided that This. Is. Unacceptable. and made it his personal mission to make sure I don’t strain myself. Now I don’t think there’s anything untoward here in his approach, he’s just an old-fashioned guy and has flat out said things like “I hate to see woman working” and not in a come-on way. In response to that comment I actually responded “well, I’m sorry for you then, because that’s just how things are.” but partly due to a language barrier (he speaks a little english, I speak a little spanish, neither of us speak the other’s language particularly well) he just did not get it.
    When he offers to help, what is the quickest way to shut it down? I have tried: “No, thanks though. Have a nice day!” “No, really, I WANT to work.” “Yo DESEO trabajar, no nessecito ayudar.” “Please, I’d prefer to do it myself.” but he just does not seem to get it. He insists that he will help for free (this is a neighborhood where you would typically assume an offer of help would be accompanied by expectation of pay), not to worry about it, “we’re ok.” But this is my alone time! And if a guy can’t listen when I say I want to do it myself, what are the odds he would listen to the way I want it done anyway? Just having this conversation takes half an hour in the sun usually, when I’d just rather get on with my day. I feel like SUCH a grump after interacting with him because I know he genuinely thinks he’s trying to be helpful, and doesn’t get that managing his feelings about seeing me do labor makes more (and harder!) work for me than just doing the work myself does. Help!

    1. Mephyle*

      My Spanish is far from perfect, but I can make myself understood and communicate more or less what I want to convey. From what you describe, I would start out,
      “Lo siento mucho, don Alberto, pero necesito que me respete. Hacer este trabajo por mi cuenta me da placer y usted me quiere quitar este placer. Ahora le ruego que me disculpe, voy a seguir con esto.”
      (I’m sorry, Mr. Alberto, but I need you to respect me. Doing this work myself pleases me and you want to take that pleasure away from me. Now please excuse me, I’m going to keep doing this.) And physically end the conversation by turning away.

      1. TootsNYC*

        add in something like, “this is a time for me to be alone with my thoughts. That is part of why I enjoy it.”

        Google says that’s: “Este es un momento para mí estar a solas con mis pensamientos.”

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          And I hate to say this but since he’s old-fashioned, if he doesn’t back off after a polite explanation that you enjoy the work, you are going to have to bring your husband into the conversation. Preferably informally, like when you’re out working together one afternoon. In a weird way that we are just not used to anymore, he’s being gallant and that’s nice. This is the sort of guy who would help out old ladies with their sidewalk shoveling in winter. He may think that your husband is a layabout who’s letting his wife work herself to the bone, and that’s not the case.

          You might also want to wear some earbuds and look like you’re enjoying yourself. If he comes over again, try cutting him off at the pass with some pride at what you’ve managed to accomplish. Maybe if you can say that you love the feeling of seeing your hard work make a difference or something along those lines, you take pride in the job you’re doing, he’ll understand. You could get The Google to translate a letter for him, of the “Dear Alberto, thank you so much for your offers of help. It has been appreciated by me that you have taken notice of how hard I work. I enjoy it so much to see our house being looking good again and knowing that I have done it makes me feel…” kind of thing.

    2. Sibley*

      They’re so nice. I was going to suggest telling him to GO AWAY. NOW. Easier to translate a short phrase.

      Seriously men, women are not going to break, or die, if we do anything remotely approaching work. Get over it. Your concern is not polite, it is extremely impolite.

    3. Mando Diao*

      Don’t appease him or be nice to him. Welcome him to the 21st century. Don’t coddle machismo and misogyny. Thus is benevolent sexism and he’s the one who needs to change.

      1. designbot*

        I generally agree with you, though the one time I tried to be pretty direct and a little argumentative with him (“Well I’m sorry for you then, because that’s the way things are”) he genuinely did not seem to comprehend. If he could understand snark and attitude in English, this would go a lot easier!

        1. Mando Diao*

          I’ll say this now because the thread is old and hopefully you’ll see it and other people won’t: You need to decide if respecting his culture is worth throwing your feminist ideals under the bus. I don’t think it is. Be rude to him. He’s the one who’s being rude to you and is imposing a regressive culture on you that isn’t yours. He can’t move here (I’m assuming, since he doesn’t know English) and then try to make the women act like they did back home. You can’t always respect women and culture at the same time. He’s choosing culture. I vote that you choose yourself.

    4. Marcela*

      In my experience with all the older men in my family with this same attitude, sooner or later you will have to say “I am sorry you do not like it, but I am not going to stop doing things my way” (lamento mucho que no le parezca apropiado, don X, pero no voy a dejar de hacer las cosas a mi modo). They never stop until they are rudely told that you won’t care what they say, for they are not able to accept you are a full person 100% capable of deciding anything.

      Although every fiber of myself rebels about this, for I consider myself very capable to handle my affairs, your husband could help if he plainly refuses any help. Careful though, that this señor will try to get your husband to agree that working in the house can be dangerous for you. He has to refuse to even acknowledge that idea, for your neighbor is going to be looking for any opening to keep giving you grief, and if he can convince himself that your husband agreed that your work is dangerous (even if your husband only agreed that this work could be dangerous for anybody, not just for you), well, he is going to keep bothering you under the argument that he knows better and your husband doesn’t feel like he can say anything to you… because, you know, women.

      Now, I am sorry I can’t think of any way of quick shutting down the conversation. A simple “no, muchas gracias, no necesito ayuda hoy” should be enough. I guess, paraphrasing all the conversations about boundaries, you could say that again and again and again, but that’s not going to make the conversation end faster.

      1. designbot*

        I like this, and there’s a chance I might manage to actually remember it properly.
        I find myself reacting against dragging my husband into it as well, both for the reasons you mention and because he’s often at work when these things occur. Plus I love that I have a husband that sees this stuff and generally shrugs and doesn’t get involved because he knows I can handle it, and don’t want to ruin the good thing I have going there!

  45. Liane*

    Need help from the tech savvy, please.
    I have a first generation iPad. All of a sudden, I cannot get it to connect to the home wi-fi after service was down briefly. This happened once before and the internet advice to select Other and enter the network name and other info manually worked. But it isn’t working this time.
    I have also tried the Forget Network/re-enter manually suggestion, the Reset Network Settings under General and resetting the router.
    Anyone have any other ideas? No power outage was involved.

    I haven’t gone to the local Apple Store or tried their online tech support. I am not the original owner–I bought it from a friend who was upgrading–so am not sure if they would be willing to help me. Would they anyways?

    1. Aurion*

      Can you power cycle your modem, wireless router, and/or any access points? I had a Kobo that utterly refused to connect to my home wifi even it connected fine before. My phone connected just fine. I tried the same things as you (forget network, manually re-enter, etc.) on my Kobo; no dice. A power cycle fixed everything, oddly enough.

        1. Aurion*

          Power cycle is just disconnecting the power and then reconnecting it after about 15 seconds. If they’re all plugged into the same power bar I just turn the power bar off. Otherwise, you can individually unplug whatever power adapter they’re attached to, wait 15 seconds, and then plug them back in. Wait until everything boots up and connects, then try your wifi again.

            1. Anonymous Educator*

              For the iPad, I’d recommend rebooting specifically by holding down the Home and Power buttons for about 15-30 seconds until the Apple logo appears. I support iPads as part of my job, and this way of rebooting fixes 90% of iPad issues that come up (including suddenly not being able to connect to a wireless network).

        2. Liane*

          Okay, we have tried that with both the iPad and the router already.
          What else?

          And thanks everyone!

          1. fposte*

            Does it connect to wifi anywhere else? Take it out to a coffee shop or something to see. And presumably your wifi is working on other devices?

            1. Liane*

              Haven’t been out with it. I will try tonight as I have errands later and will update. I intended to check it out when I went to the grocery store, which has wi-fi, but forgot to bring it.

              But yes it is working on our other devices. My son couldn’t get it on the Wii U this morning, but he said that is a known intermittent issue with those consoles.

              1. Liane*

                This morning I was able to connect with the church wi-fi successfully and get to websites. (I was looking up a Biblical character for Sunday School class, that’s why :D)
                However, when we grabbed lunch afterwards, I was able to connect to the public wi-fi (iPad’s Settings>Network showed “Store Wi-fi” instead of “Not Connected.” I could also get my email. BUT, I wasn’t able to get to any websites. It would start to load a page, then I would get either “Cannot connect to the internet” or “The server stopped responding/timed out” messages.

                So where do I go from here?

                1. Anonymous Educator*

                  Well, there’s either something physically damaged, or it’s a software issue. The fact that you can get emails but not connect to websites indicates it’s probably a software issue. Do you have some kind of VPN app installed? And do you get the timeout messages with even a different web browser (Chrome, for example, instead of Safari)?

                  If you don’t have a VPN app, and you still have the same behavior in another web browser, I’d back up your iPad to a computer (via iTunes), and then do a factory reset and see if that fixes the wireless issues.

    2. Liane*

      @ Anonymous Educator:
      No VPN and Safari is the only browser I have on here. I am not sure I can backup most of what’s on it. This iPad still shows up under Friend’s Apple ID and I don’t have his account information, and he’s not local, so cannot have him do it for me.
      And being first gen, of course I cannot upgrade apps or software, since it is limited to iOS 5.x.

  46. Liane*