weekend free-for-all – August 13-14, 2016

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

Book recommendation of the week: You’ll Grow Out of It. It’s hilarious essays by comedy writer Jessi Klein on everything from dating to aging to her issues with baths. It’s hilarious and you will want to go to brunch with her.

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

{ 669 comments… read them below }

    1. Alcott*

      Best: Insurance finally settled the car accident I was in back in January.

      Worst: My landlord is insane.

    2. Caledonia*

      Best: My friends continue to be amazing, and Andy Murray is the in Olympic Gold Tennis match.

      Worst: I have no worst really. I’m worried and sad to be moving soon but it will be nice to have money again.

    3. Trixie*

      Best: Making progress on my debt, which means I can start saving more. Fewer mistakes at work, six months in. Lot of things that do happen are going to happen given the work/system.

      Worst: Need a life outside of work and jobs. I don’t have any friends or social network locally. Just so isolated in this community where everyone is married with kids and at church on Sunday morning. Great for them but not my lifestyle at all. Plus I’m comfortable doing things on my own but may prove to be self-enabling, if that makes any sense.

    4. Meemzi*

      Worst: The IUD is making my periods really painful. Spent most of Sunday evening waiting for the painkillers to kick in.

      Best: At work on Monday morning, I opened my drawer to find the See’s candy I had bought from a fundraising kid. I left it at work so it wouldn’t melt in my car. Sweet, sweet salvation.

    5. Mimmy*

      Best: Nothing super special, but with all the horrible things in the news lately, it was nice to see footage of some of the gold medal victories in the Olympics in the last couple of days, particularly with the two Simone’s. I forget the swimmer’s last name, but her reaction to realizing she’d won gold got me crying.

      Worst: The heat and humidity!! It caused us to lose power for 3 hours yesterday. I was starting to get annoyed because our power company’s website showed a restoration time of 10:00 pm (it started at around noon time, while I was showering), but it came back at 3:15 pm, thankfully. Still!! >:(

    6. Claire (Scotland)*

      Best: one of my former pupils got a gold medal at the Olympics in the cycling.
      Worst: the school holidays are ending, and I have to get up for work at 6.30am on Monday :(((

    7. Tess McGill*

      Best: I’m taking my son to college in four days.
      Worst: I’m taking my son to college in four days.

    8. C Average*

      Best: I thought my wallet was lost, but then it turned up at the library. With all the money in it. Yay for nice, honest, book-loving people!

      Worst: I’ve begun job-hunting and it is a soul-sucking death slog that makes me doubt my worth as a human being.

      1. Lore*

        If I remember correctly that you were interested in freelance proofreading or copy editing some time back, and you’re still interested, look me up on the LinkedIn group–I don’t think there’s more than one Penguin Random House production editor on there but also my id here is part of my name so that might help…

    9. Elkay*

      Best: Groundhog Day the musical is awesome (bar two slightly misplaced/unnecessary songs), much more Tim Minchin’s ‘voice’ than Matilda.

      Worst: I’m volunteering for a multi-day event with participants next week and I became de facto organiser for it. I’ve hated every minute of it. I’m so looking forward to it being over.

    10. Lady Blerd*

      Best: Finally checking out an ethnic food store not far from my place. I will definitely add it to my supermarket rotation.
      Worst: All of the road work that have turned my city into a game of Chutes and Ladders.

    11. Miss Nomer*

      Best: started looking at places since we’ve outgrown our apartment!

      Worst: football is back and my husband seems determined to watch EVERY game.

      1. Trix*

        As someone who quite literally scheduled our wedding and honeymoon with a particular team’s games in mind, I totally feel ya.

        At my job, I have to put in a certain number of weekend days, and I always try to schedule mine for Sundays during football season. He gets to watch in peace, I don’t have to deal with him yelling at the tv, and generally I get to make a football fan/coworker happy that they don’t have to work it!

        1. the gold digger*

          We had to wait until our city’s annual music festival was over to have our wedding.

          I love football games – when I was helping Primo campaign in his first run for political office, we didn’t do doors on any afternoon when there was a local team football game. I hated doing doors so I welcomed those games.

    12. Amadeo*

      Best: Bought a new truck (I never thought I’d ever be able to afford an F150, but somehow, I did it!)

      Worst: Cried like a baby in the truck after I left my 6 year old Mustang at the dealership, I was fine until the salesman took the plates off it! The downpayment check I wrote might also have had something to do with that.

      1. Lindsay J*

        I get weirdly emotional about my cars. Even when I never really particularly liked the car I feel upset when it’s time to give it up.

        1. Amadeo*

          I don’t remember being quite the same way about the Half Pint (the Ranger that came before the Mustang) but I guess that might have been because I brought it home and sold it privately as opposed to trading it. It was less abrupt I guess.

    13. Natalie*

      Best: it is So. Effing. Nice here right now. Hanging in the yard with my pooch and some beers.

      Worst: Husband’s sciatica has been really bothering him for longer than I knew. We have 3 more weeks until insurance.

      1. danr*

        Heat on the lower back really works. Before my surgery I used a flexible heating pad that I could position on my lower back and sit in a chair and read. The disposable heating packs also worked, but not as well. Good luck…

    14. Nervous Accountant*

      Best — challenged myself to work out 4 days this week and I did! Did a full 30 minutes/close to it.Challenging myself to go everyday this month. Slow but steady.

      Also, went out with cowrokers after work. Had an aweesome time.

      Worst–horribly fatigued one day, no explanation.Had the biggest cup of coffee ever (a starbucks Trenta), my blood sugar was normal (diabetic so highsugar can cause fatigue and drowsiness). Least productive day I’ve ever had.

    15. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Best: My network has been really great and supportive. And I’ve spent time with friends, which I didn’t have energy for while I was working at that miserable job.

      Worst: I have a terrible headache today that won’t go away. I was supposed to meet a girlfriend for coffee this afternoon and I had to bail in favor of lying on the couch in agony. I still have that headache.

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

      Best: Our new cat. Even with having to give her two pills twice a day and her hating it, she’s so sweet and I love having a cat around again.

      Worst: I was off on FMLA due to a bulging disc in my neck which made it very painful to use a computer. I returned late last week and told my boss that my Dr wants my desk ergonomically reviewed to keep it from getting worse or recurring. HR had to get involved because we don’t just do that, I have to make an ADA accommodation request which is a 7 page form from my company that they want my doctor to fill out. Meanwhile I’m backsliding and my pain is coming back.

    17. LCL*

      Best-doggie’s ACL injury is somewhat better today.
      Worst-doggie’s ACL is definitely injured, trip to e vet last week. Diagnostic visit with regular vet scheduled for Monday.

    18. Oviraptor*

      Best – my friend’s puppy dog is visiting me & we are having a Girls Only slumber party. Or something like that…

      Worst – she managed to slip out of her collar while on her cable in the back yard. At least my friend was still here to help me look for her.

      Best (again) – we found her!

      Best (for the puppy dog) – the glorious, mud- filled adventure she went on

      Worst (for the puppy dog) – Boy! Was she in trouble! Oh! I stand corrected. She tells me the bath that followed the glorious mud-filled adventure was the worst! :)

    19. Wrench Turner*

      Best: Despite some bloodied knuckles I was able to install the new side stand on my motorcycle to replace the one damaged by getting hit at work. Twice.

      Worst: It’s dangerously hot here in the DC-area and our home’s AC unit is struggling. Now that I have an HVAC-related day job I know exactly how much and why it’s struggling and how much it will cost to fix or replace. $_$

    20. Bigglesworth*

      Best – I finally was able to share the news to my family that someone I grew up with and am still close with is pregnant. Keeping that a secret was hard!

      Worst – Still looking for a new job. I started looking a few months ago, but the economy (especially in education) is awful here. Blech!

    21. Jen RO*

      Best: Went out with two groups of friends last week, and I’m going out with two more next week.

      Worst: The only two people (except me) that have more than a year experience in the role are leaving in a month. I will be all alone with a department of new joiners, who have already started sending me desperate messages along the lines of “pleaaaaase don’t leave!”.

    22. ginger ale for all*

      Best – I finally got an online profile up on an online dating site. I have gotten tips on it from you all from previous posts and worked up my courage to do it. I had made another one on a niche site for people looking for dance partners for competitive dancers and got zero hits.
      Worst – now I need courage to meet a guy. We spoke on the phone and he asked me out and I told him my schedule. I expected him to ask me out on a free day but he didn’t. So we texted and he asked me out again so I don’t know why he didn’t remember that I said yes already and was waiting for an actual how about this day or that day detail talking. So the communication is off. I am not sure if it is a bad sign or not. There is a pink flag, his facebook page has posts about idiot liberals and I was pretty clear about being a liberal on my profile.

      1. the gold digger*

        Whoa. Anyone from either side who posts stuff about how people who don’t agree with him are stupid as opposed to “I think policy X is wrong because of A, B, and C” is probably not going to be fun to be around. :(

        1. ginger ale for all*

          Agreed. I hope to see how it goes with a coffee date. He was fun on the phone and we have enough in common to have topics to speak about. But, I don’t like people stereotyping entire swathes of people with insults. I do it myself on occasion and have to tell myself to stop (I am not fond of conspiracy theorists but sometimes they can be right, Russian doping was right).

          1. the gold digger*

            I hope it goes well! I have to admit I am a little gun shy on this topic – my husband and I do not agree on politics. He does not use that kind of language but it still is – a challenge.

    23. Jules the First*

      Best: had two great sessions with a newish pony and am totally smitten. She may have a reputation around the yard as a short tempered princess, but she moves like a dream.

      Worst: ordering custom blinds for my new apartment. Mind blowingly expensive and I’m terrified I’ll get the measurements wrong.

    24. Dot Warner*

      Best: My spouse and I went whitewater rafting for the first time in years this weekend! It was a blast!

      Worst: Sore all over this morning… worth it. :)

    25. danr*

      Best: finished cleaning out the garage bays, got new doors installed and for the first time in years we have both cars in the garage at once. Mr Fred (our sleepover cat) is miffed because we’re using *his* space.
      Worst: the heat and humidity. Of course, we’ll be complaining in February about the cold and snow, but it’s a tradition.

    26. Elizabeth West*

      BEST: The heat has backed off a bit, though it’s still humid. My nerd group cleaned our Adopt-a-Street bit yesterday and we dripped and drooped.

      WORST: Horrible review at work and I’ve resigned myself to opening up a job hunt that will undoubtedly set me firmly back in the realm of poverty yet again.
      Also, a story rejection. Thaaaaaaaanks.

      1. C Average*

        Awwww, I’m sorry. Rejection letters never lose their sting, do they? Every time I pitch an idea and get a “no thanks,” I mentally turn into my sixth-grade self, wearing totally the wrong outfit on the first day of school and feeling like I have “LOSER” tattooed on my forehead (possibly backward, so I can read it in the mirror). I always wonder how people whose jobs expose them to constant scrutiny and potential rejection do it.

        The job thing sucks, too. I’m sorry.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          No, they really don’t. They don’t devastate me, but even a polite one is still like a scream of “YOU SUCK!”

          Oddly, I prefer specific rejections to a form letter. I once got a rejection that picked the story apart–I loved it because it told me exactly what was wrong with it. It was so great I wrote a blog post about it. The form letters seem so much more dismissive. But critiques are gold. And once the Missouri Review rejected something I sent them, but somebody wrote a little bit of praise at the top of the letter. PLATINUM.

          *sigh* I just have to roll my eyes and try again.

    27. Lindsay J*

      BEST: Went tubing last weekend with boyfriend and a mutual friend and we had a blast!

      I got a membership to the local YMCA and it is amazing. Apparently it’s like the 5th biggest Y in the country or something. Two pools, separate cardio and weight rooms, special areas for beginners and women who don’t want to work out with the general population, tons of classes, and a sauna and whirlpool.

      I brought a cello for pretty cheap off of Craigslist. I learned to play strings a little bit in college and always wanted to learn the cello.

      Basically all of these things mean my meds are working and I’m not depressed anymore. I have the energy and desire to do things beyond the bare minimum to keep myself alive again.

      WORST: Got really sunburned when tubing, like skin blistering sunburned. I did that twice in high school and I’m pretty sure each time puts you at increased risk for skin cancer. And it hurts. I used sunscreen but missed a couple spots.

      I need to set up a budget and deal with my finances.

      1. C Average*

        At the risk of being nosy, can I ask you a few questions about the whole depression topic? If these are too nosy or you’d rather not talk about it, feel free to ignore me. I understand that it might be something you’d prefer not to discuss with an anonymous stranger on the interwebs.

        How did you recognize that you were depressed, and what prompted you to seek help, get meds, etc.? If you have a history of it, what prompted you to get them the first time?

        I have been in a really strange head space the last few months. I’ve been really high energy all my life–always going places and taking up (and often abandoning) new hobbies, inventing projects, coming up with ideas, making stuff happen. It never felt like an effort to be like that. I was someone who really, really enjoyed life and was considered fun by my family and friends. But I’m not like that lately. I feel like I’m working really, really hard to muster any kind of game face for the world. I don’t do stuff with my friends because I don’t want them to notice (and also because doing stuff with my friends feels like work, too).

        My husband has started to notice and thinks maybe I need help, and I’ve sort of blown him off because I have this idea of depressed people as unable to get out of bed in the morning and function. I’m still getting out of bed in the morning and fulfilling my basic responsibilities in life. But reading your account of before and after meds makes me wonder if the way I’m feeling is what depressed looks like on a (normally) high-energy person.

        1. Kerry ( like the county in Ireland)*

          I would say you should go talk to someone. It does sound like depression to me, as a person with what’s called double dip depression–basically my natural level is slightly depressed, and I have a history of longer episodes of major depression. You don’t have to be crying all the time or unable to get out of bed to be depressed. Mental illness tends to be progressive so it gets more severe the longer it goes untreated. And with a lot of upheaval amongst your family, now that the worst is over is the time for the caretakers to start to fall.

          For what it’s worth, my telltale depressive symptoms tend to be anger and intense irritability, combined with indecision and poor sleep and disinterest. After a while it escalates to suicidal ideation, and a lack of energy. But I’ve been (mostly) employed, had a fairly clean home, and generally shown up places on time. YMMV.

          1. Jo*

            I think it really does vary by person. Also, you’re very astute to realize that you might not recognize it and to therefore ask for help. For most of my major depressive episodes I didn’t even realize I was depressed until it was all over with and I was (mostly) back to normal. Now I’m slightly more in tune with myself and usually catch on fairly quickly, but sometimes they still sneak up on me.

          2. Lindsay J*

            The first time it got really bad prior to me seeking help. I was in college at the time and I was skipping almost all of my classes. I still showered, and always showed up to work, but that was pretty much it. I locked myself in my room the rest of the time. I also slept way more than is normal and couldn’t bring myself to do things like clean or cook. I kept on thinking I was just lazy or something and just needed to snap out of it.

            In a summer class section, one of my professors pulled me aside and pointed out that she noticed I was missing class a lot, and that when I was in class I always looked tired and cold, and suggested that I get my thyroid checked because she had hypothyroid and recognized a lot of the same symptoms. I went to the doctor, and they tested my thyroid and adrenal gland and stuff like that and couldn’t find anything wrong with me physically really. (My PCP prescribed me levothyroxine and metformin because he thought hypothyroid or possibly PCOS might be the issue, but the endocrinologist said that that was not the case, and from my research the results from my tests agreed with him.) So I went on figuring that this was just what being an adult felt like.

            Finally something drove me to see the campus therapy center. I don’t remember quite what it was. I think possibly the fact that I could make it to work all the time but couldn’t deal with other things like classes or making friends clued me into the fact that it was a psychological vs a physical issue; if it was really something physical like CFS or a sleep disorder or something I would feel equally tired/disinterested at work.

            Since then I’ve been on and off meds a few times and generally I notice a few things when I start slipping back towards needing them again.

            A. I stop wanting to do things outside the house. Even things that theoretically seem like fun seem like too much work when the moment arrives so I don’t do them.
            B. I stop doing anything creative or productive and just consume things. Instead doing any type of hobby etc I binge watch one of the same 4 shows (Friends, How I Met Your Mother, Scrubs, or That 70’s Show) on Netflix, or spending 8 hours a day reading AAM or relationship drama on Reddit. At a certain point even watching a new show or movie feels like it would take too much mental effort so I fall back on old favorites (and I think all of those shows kind of fulfill a social need? since I’m not hanging out with my real friends anymore I watch shows about close knit groups of friends instead.)
            C. I stop cooking and start eating fast food almost every night. Cooking, and cleaning up, and the grocery shopping needed to have ingredients to cook in the first place take too much work.

            If I don’t catch it before this point, this is where I start falling into the point where I actually start neglecting taking care of myself. (Well, arguably the fast food isn’t taking the best care of myself, but it’s still eating.)

            And the biggest thing for me is that for me depression has never really meant sadness or negativity. It’s just “blah”. There’s a Hyperbole and a Half comic that sums it up pretty well, “Cognatively you might know that different things are happening to you, but they don’t feel very different.”

            And there’s a visual with a bunch of different situations, “sun, birthday, sounds, not sounds, your hair is spiders, everything is spiders” with the character experiencing them the exact same way.

            I can be doing something I know I like, or that I most likely would like. But there’s no enjoyment. There’s nothing. I might as well be staring at a wall. So I don’t do them anymore, because what’s the point?

            So yeah, C Average, from what you described it definitely wouldn’t hurt to get checked out. What you described sounds very familiar to me as the early stages.

    28. Christopher Tracy*

      Best: Work is still going really well for me almost seven months in (the 18th is my anniversary). My division’s SVP talked to me about potentially joining another team in the unit that handles slightly more complex work, and within his complimentary listing of all of my positive attributes he think would make me excellent in the role was high praise for my writing ability. He called it “second to none.” I turned down the opportunity since I don’t want to work under the person who manages the team (didn’t tell him that – I couched it in terms of still learning my current role), but it felt great to know that the higher-ups in my division think my work is head and shoulders above a lot of my coworkers when I’m brand spanking new to this.

      Worst: My niece’s second birthday is today, and I live too far away to go to her birthday party :( I miss that little monster, lol. She’s going to be a total diva today (well, she’s that way everyday, but today will be worse), and I’m going to miss the hilarity. I wish my brother would move closer so I could see her more often. I feel like I’m going to miss all of the major milestones of her life, and that makes me sad.

    29. Anonyby*

      Best: My friends had their monthly board game night at a county park instead of their home yesterday. Very small attendance, but was still a lot of fun. Giant jenga set! Pavilion was a pokestop! Card games! Shared food!

      Worst: My knees have been acting up for a few weeks now, but I can’t see a dr thanks to insurance confusion leaving me high and dry (partly my fault). I’ve been wearing braces and that helps (at least I can walk mostly-normally, just not as far without a break), but if I bend and put weight on them wrong, it hurts, and they don’t like me sitting in chairs.

    30. Ruffingit*

      BEST: Relaxing two days over the weekend.

      WORST: Tired of dealing with people with bad attitudes.

    31. LibraryChick*

      BEST- My Border Collie has finished with chemotherapy for lymphoma and is in full remission. Yay! WORST – I may need to sell a kidney to pay off the chemotherapy bills. Please let me know if you have any part-time, second job ideas for someone with an academic librarianship background.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Best: 15th of August is a public holiday and the weather has been very good.

        Worst: That annoying part of the month before payday when the bills are coming in.

      2. Connie-Lynne*

        Oh no! I had to get chemo for my kitty a while back. It’s so expensive but I’m really glad your dog is in remission!

    32. Connie-Lynne*

      Best: Friends from out-of-town for an unexpected but very welcome visit!

      Worst: I leave to work at Burningman in four days and my trailer guys are dodging my calls. I need it to live in and they have my trailer a 90 minute drive away. They have had my trailer for four weeks and haven’t even given me an estimate yet! I may have to sleep in my truck!

    33. LH*

      Best: After a fitful and frustrating year long job search in my city, I just relocated to the West Coast to start a new job tomorrow that is essentially a promotion with 60% salary bump. Loving the sunny weather and excited for new beginnings!

      Worst: The DMV took the worst photo of all time for my new driver’s license. Grumble. On a work note, old company suddenly folded a week after I left. I’m not surprised as I had seen the writing on the wall for the last few months, but I feel so bad for all my former coworkers who were caught off guard and are now scrambling.

    34. Jo*

      Best: Haven’t been kidnapped yet.

      Worst: I’m a little over a month into my new job and still struggling to find my footing; also, a new project was just dropped on my head and I have to give a presentation on its status to the donor tomorrow despite knowing nothing about it.

      Additional worst: I HATE giving presentations, they’re the worst and I’m the worst at them and now my anxiety is kicking in big-time. And yes, I rate this as more terrifying than the prospect of being kidnapped.

  1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

    I swear this is true. Last night I dreamed Alison posted Monday morning that she was no longer going to be updating AAM, because she was going to move to Saskatchewan to become a registered nurse, because Saskatchewan did not require nurses to have any formal training. (I am positive this is not true and SK nurses are held to the same rigorous standards as nurses elsewhere! But my subconscious brain apparently doesn’t agree.) She told us that it was her lifelong dream to be a nurse in a small rural community hospital, that management and blogging/writing had been a fun distraction, and wished us well but she was going to take all of her postings offline. It was a really really really weird dream.

      1. SophieChotek*

        +1 Great dream – the places one goes…
        (lately I’ve been dreaming of classmates from undergrad/grad school that I have not seen for a decade or more, and most of them I was never particular close to) but suddenly my dream self is taking vacations with them, supporting their dream goals, buying Girl Scout Cookies from them….)

    1. Canadian Natasha*

      If this were true, I’d be scoping out the coffee date options immediately. (Because Allison would surely want to hang out with one of her askamanager lurkers right?) Allison, come to Saskatchewan! We may not have no-training nurses but we do have good coffee shops! ;)

      1. C Average*

        This has only the most tenuous connection to the conversation at hand, but it’s the free-for-all, so . . .

        My father has always been obsessed with weird place names, and Moosejaw, Saskatchewan has always been his favorite. He’d threaten to send us there if we misbehaved, as though it were Oates Military Academy or something. I’ve always meant to go there, if only to obtain a ridiculous local souvenir for my dad.

        If one were to take, say, a four-day road trip to Saskatchewan that included Moosejaw, where else ought one to go?

        1. Kit*

          There are only four places in Saskatchewan, so you should be able to see the whole thing.

          I wanted to let you know, in the event you have not been informed, that people from Moose Jaw (it’s two words) are called Moose Javians. It’s my favourite demonym.

        2. Former Diet Coke Addict*

          Be prepared for a lot of driving. Saskatchewan is REALLY FLAT. One of the weirdest experiences of my life was driving across Alberta/Manitoba/Saskatchewan in August, when the sunflowers were in bloom (for sunflower seed oil, not just…for pretty)–sunflowers are nice in a garden, but miles and miles and miles and miles and miles of endlessly flat prairie filled with nodding sunflowers got really creepy fast.

          If you’re in Moose Jaw, the Thing To Do is visit the tunnels, which is a super cool tour of the underground tunnels in town where you can learn about both Chinese immigration and 1920s bootlegging! Regina is the nearest big city, where you can visit the home of the Mounties. Not too far away is Buffalo Pound Park, where if you’re really into the plains thing you can visit some bison. And down by the US border (it’s a drive, but so is everything there) is Grasslands National Park, which is, I’ve heard, very beautiful and pleasant if you like grasslands.

        3. Canadian Natasha*

          Well, I’d be remiss if I didn’t suggest Saskatoon (the largest city in Saskatchewan). In the summer they have several nice art, music and food festivals. My favourite is the Jazz Fest which happens near the end of June. During the two-week festival, there is a lot of free outdoor music downtown and by the river if you don’t want to pay to get into the main event stages. (The South Saskatchewan river cuts through the middle of town and has lovely walking paths to enjoy the sights and sounds). There are several other events in the summer- Folk Fest, the Fringe Festival, an annual vintage car show, Word on the Street (a book fair that sometimes has interesting author guest speakers), and also Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan if you like outdoor theatre productions. You can also go for a ride on the paddleboat that goes up and down the river.

          In Regina, you should visit the Legislative building (locals call it the Leg- pronounced ledge) to enjoy the gardens and Wascana lake. Heads-up that Wascana lake is more of a goose/duck pond so there is no swimming.

          For food and drink-
          I’ve heard that CafeFrancais, a new bakery and coffee shop in Regina, is very good with locally sourced ingredients and a French style trained pastry chef, but haven’t verified it yet myself.
          In Saskatoon, Christies Il Secondo in the Broadway area is a marvellous coffee shop with fresh pastries and italian style cappuccinos during the day and makes from-scratch pizzas in their woodfire oven in the evenings.

          I’ve done one of the Tunnels tours in Moose Jaw (you either do the chinese laundry tour or the bootlegger tour) and it is interesting but not a happy kind of tour (horrible ways Canadians treated Chinese immigrants) so be aware of that. They say Al Capone had something to do with the bootlegging tunnels- and may have visited Moose Jaw back in the day.

          Wow that got long. Sorry for the novel! I’ll stop here. :)

        4. Colette*

          The Sandhills are cool, and the badlands – both are in southern Sask. but not terribly close together.

          I liked the old RCMP museum but haven’t been to the new one. The Moose Jaw tunnels are interesting, and there’s a mineral spa (Temple Gardens).

          Cypress Hills is the highest point in Saskatchewan, and you can learn about the Cypress Hills Massacre.

          Grasslands National Park is also in southern sask – from what I understand, it’s not really action-packed, but you can see bison and the land as it was a hundred years ago.

          1. Colette*

            Oh, and the petroglyphs at St. Victor are good to see (but don’t take long). That would be between Moose Jaw and the badlands.

  2. Not Karen*

    I’m planning a trip to the Conner Prairie Interactive History Park. Has anyone been?

    Since it’s a good four hour drive from me, I’m thinking of staying overnight and exploring Indianapolis a bit, maybe going to the theatre or opera. Worth it? Any tips?

    1. Red*

      Conner Prairie is neat, I’m not sure it’s drive-four-hours neat? I’ve only been once and it’s a 20 minute drive for me. :) we have a decent zoo, which is right next to the Indiana State Museum and the Eiteljorg art museum, and spitting distance from the Indy Children’s Museum, all of which are very good museums. Depending on the timing of your trip, the Indy symphony does themed concerts at Conner Prairie. We have a dinner theatre called Beef and Boards that gets excellent reviews. Is it just you, you and another adult, kids?

      1. Not Karen*

        I’m really into living history museums. :) Also a huge fan of dinner theatre! It’s just me going.

        1. Red*

          It’s definitely not bad!! Very kid centric. I grew up in Michigan, spitting distance from both Crossroads Village and Greenfield Village, so I have a weird bar for that type of attraction? (And if you haven’t seen them, they’re both fantastic, Greenfield somewhat more so and also sharing grounds with the Henry Ford Museum.) The symphony shows are going through August I believe, and their fall repertoire of stuff (including pumpkins and apples for sale) starts mid September?

          1. Not Karen*

            I’m in Michigan; I’ll have to check those out! Strange, I looked up living history museums in Michigan and didn’t find those…

            Thanks very much for your recommendations!

            1. Red*

              Sure thing!! Crossroads is (or was?) near Flint, Greenfield is in Dearborn a stone’s throw from one of the bridges into Canada. (Customs gets twitchy if you tell them you went to Canada for dinner. Ask me how I know, hah.) They both do fancy setups at Christmas :)

    2. Good Afternoon!*

      I used to work on the open air museum field. Connor Prairie is known for its high quality staff.

      I only heard great things but didn’t get a chance to go before moving Out West.

      Ask what are some weird or unusual stuff they don’t get to talk about. Every interpreter has a huge list of off the wall facts found during research and LOVE a chance to talk about them.

    3. ThatGirl*

      Indy is a great little city. Not sure about opera but there’s plenty of theatre, restaurants, night spots.

    4. Little Missy*

      First the “official” site: https://www.visitindy.com/

      Now from a local perspective:
      We live on the northwest side and work in downtown Indianapolis. The city is actually laid out in a circle from Monument Circle and the streets go out in spokes from there. The downtown area has a wonderful canal that runs from the Indianapolis Zoo through White River State Park, the Indiana State Museum, the History Center, and then a residential area with apartments and canal-level eating places Fresco and Burgerhaus. You can rent a paddleboat or buy a ticket to ride on a gondola, too. Monument Circle (a block west of the capitol building) has–naturally–a monument that you can sit by or go inside to either climb stairs or ride an elevator to get some neat views of the city from any direction. Northeast of the monument is a wonderful street–Massachusetts Avenue, with restaurants, bars, and shopping. I would recommend BRU Burger, the Rathskeller (in the Athenaum, our first German-American club building), or Mesh on Mass for dinner. The Flying Cupcake has awesome desserts (not just cupcakes) The downtown mall, Circle Centre, is struggling–their only anchor store is Carsons and they still have some of the usual mall-type stores, but I think in another decade, the space will revert to office or residential, so if you wanted to do mall shopping or browsing, I’d recommend the Fashion Mall at Keystone (which is on the way to Connor Prairie from downtown) rather than Circle Centre. If you like car racing, we don’t really have much going this time of year (both the 500 and the Brickyard 400 have already run), but you can visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum about 5 miles from downtown on 16th Street. There is another walking district out from the track with places to eat and drink or just walk around too. Please feel free to reach out to me here. I am on Twitter as circlecitybelle.

  3. Trixie*

    Washington Week with Glen Ifill is one of my favorite weekly programs (especially this time of year) as it summarizes the week’s events. One of the few news shows were the panel or contributors let each other speak, don’t interrupt, and aren’t all trying to get the last word. Makes me how wonder how much is scripted? I wish they would bring back the live webcast extra right after the program because 20 minutes simply isn’t enough.

    1. C Average*

      Wow, I haven’t thought of “Washington Week” in years! My parents were always fervently anti-TV, but had a TV they kept in a closet so we could watch the Olympics, the Mariners’ playoff appearances (statistically as common as moon landings), election night, and on occasion “Washington Week.” I didn’t even know it was still on.

      I listen to podcasts of all the Sunday news shows (“Meet the Press,” “This Week,” “Face the Nation”) while I’m doing chores around the house. I’m going to have to add “Washington Week” to my rotation, if they have a podcast version.

      (“Face the Nation” is my favorite. I think John Dickerson is the most unflappable man on the planet.)

        1. Trixie*

          Without Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report, and Tim Russert, I depend Gwen and Rachel Maddow these days.

          1. C Average*

            Rachel will always be my favorite. She is wonderful! So smart, so thorough, and so FUNNY. I love her.

      1. Overeducated*

        Love this idea. I listen to news hour on the radio while cleaning the kitchen after dinner but it sounds like a good way to make weekend chores better too.

      2. Mike C.*

        Dickerson is a solid host, and I think Chuck Todd was a huge improvement over David Gregory on Meet the Press. The fact they’re willing to actually treat polling and modeling data somewhat seriously is a huge improvement over guests who complain about seeing the word “numeracy”. I feel like having a more data centered approach makes it easier to hold folks accountable for the predictions they make. Of course if they really wanted to get into it, they’d bring in Sam Wang or Nate Silver but that may be a bridge too far…

        On the other hand, I feel like the efforts of “This Week” to attract a younger crowd are backfiring. It feels too frenetic, the analysis is a little more shallow, and I can’t hear the phrase “Powerhouse Roundtable” and take it seriously. It’s not terrible, but I expect more from that sort of show.

        /I’m sorry for nerding out here, but I’m a huge junkie.

        1. C Average*

          I don’t know if you’re strictly a TV guy or if you do podcasts too, but FiveThirtyEight has a great elections podcast that I really enjoy. It focuses a lot on polling data. There’s also a podcast called The Weeds that’s great.

          (One weird side effect of getting most of my news from podcasts is that I don’t actually know what a lot of the people on the shows look like and I speculate in my head. I watched quite a bit of the convention coverage and was astounded to discover that Jeff Sessions does NOT look exactly like Boss Hogg, for example!)

          I feel like Chuck Todd is a little too nice to get substantive answers from his guests. I don’t want him to turn into Chris Matthews or anything, but when he gets a total non-response, I really wish he’d pursue a real answer at least a little bit.

          I’m a Dickerson fan from way back. I love Slate’s political podcast, on which he’s been a regular for years, and I really like his writing. He has a book coming out soon, “Whistle Stop,” that I can’t wait to read. It’s all election history.

          Must stop nerding out myself now.

          1. Mike C.*

            I listen to a ton of NPR, so I totally get the reaction when I see hosts in person.

            I would agree with you about Todd, and would extend that criticism to Tim Russert as well. To connect to your other question Todd had a fascinating interview on Keepin’ it 1600 where he explained this as “not belaboring the point and the audience knows what’s going on anyway”. I don’t agree because I think it legitimizes dumb talking points.

            I keep forgetting about the 538 podcast, but so long as you don’t mind listening to a bunch of younger former Obama advisors Keepin it 1600 is great. It has a viewpoint but it’s refreshingly authentic and there’s lots of inside baseball stuff if you’re interested in how campaigns are run and how they deal with issues on the trail.

            1. Mike C.*

              And for the other side, if Robert Costa had a podcast, I’d be all over that. That guy has insane access on the right – establishment, tea party, whatever.

            2. C Average*

              I love Keepin’ it 1600!

              It was interesting to hear Chuck Todd’s answer to that question. I was out on a run while listening, and I found myself literally talking back to Chuck as if he could hear me: “No! That’s NOT what the audience wants.” People driving by probably thought, “Why is that crazy woman talking to herself while she’s jogging?”

              There are times when some politician (from either side of the aisle) is being all bullshitty and evasive, and I just really want the host to keep pursuing the question until the pol loses composure and yells “You can’t handle the truth!” like Jack Nicholson in “A Few Good Men.” At least that’s what I like to imagine happening. Most likely Chuck is right: the pol will keep repeating the same inane talking point and waste air time doing it.

              Speaking of young advisors, another podcast I like called Off Message did an interview with Hillary’s advisor Robby Mook recently that was surprisingly wide-ranging and thought-provoking. If you dig this sort of stuff, you should look it up.

              I can’t handle listening to the equivalent people on the right. I just can’t. My parents are super conservative, and I grew up with Rush Limbaugh and his ilk droning on the radio about the war on Christmas and the gay agenda and political correctness and guns. I still have a visceral negative reaction to that kind of rhetoric. I’ll have discussions with actual humans I know who hold conservative views, but I won’t let a conservative voice simply talk at me. I’m a proud, card-carrying member of the Christian left, and the acoustics in my echo chamber are fantastic.

    2. Ellie H.*

      I don’t think it’s scripted. I LOVE Gwen Ifill too. My mom plans her week around watching the Friday night PBS news does and I’ve adopted the habit too.

    3. Mike C.*

      I feel like the questions must be scripted, but the responses are not. I really wish the show was moved to Sunday mornings and an hour long format, the quality of the other political shows is highly varied.

      Man, this makes me wish Christiane Amanpour was still host of “This Week”. Also, is there an English language version of “Al Punto”? That would be a fascinating perspective.

      /Misses when the Seattle tv market let me watch every political show without overlap…

  4. TheCupcakeCounter*

    So I am starting a cupcake business on the side and have to create price sheets but I’m not sure how much to charge. I know my costs and so far have only done things for friends and family but it is starting to expand. What would you be willing to pay for a standard size “gourmet” cupcake? I have several types and would be interested to know what you would pay for each type.
    1. Simple cake plus frosting (think red velvet with cream cheese or chocolate with vanilla)
    2. Fruit – real fruit in the cupcake and frosting with a fruit garnish
    3. Filled – cupcake with a filling (fruit compote, pastry cream, or a ganache truffle)
    4. Boozy 2 – alcohol in the cupcake and frosting
    5. Triple Booze – cupcake with a filling and frosting and at least 2 of the 3 components contain alcohol

    I am in a smaller type conservative town so I know $4 and $5 won’t fly here (those are the comps from Sprinkles and other famous cupcake shops). I pride myself on interesting flavors (Vanilla Chai with Plum, Irish Car Bomb, etc…) so these are the typical chocolate or vanilla with crisco white frosting.
    Any help from the AAM community would be appreciated.

    1. Baker*

      $2.50 for simple, $3 for filled/boozy.
      Pro tip: Don’t bill your Irish Car Bomb cupcakes as Irish Car Bomb cupcakes. I’ve found that a lot of people find the name offensive, even though it’s the name of the drink the cupcake is modeled after.

          1. Natalie*

            It’s a reference to The Troubles, a significant and violent era in Ireland and Northern Ireland’s history that wasn’t that long ago, but it’s flippant.

            1. Miss Nomer*

              Hmm, I guess it doesn’t seem any worse to me than, say, a kamikaze? I guess now I know.

              1. Natalie*

                Well, that was a lot longer ago – The Troubles didn’t end until the late 90s. But yes, one could make the same argument about kamikazes or White Russians, for that matter.

          2. Owl*

            Because it’s referencing a time in Irish history when the IRA would use car bombs as a terror tactic. It would be like calling a drink a Boston Pressure Cooker.

            1. Miss Nomer*

              I mentioned this above, but it seems no more provocative than a kamikaze, so I was a bit confused by the strong reaction.

              1. Cath in Canada*

                Well, there are probably people who think there shouldn’t be a drink called a kamikaze, either. I’m less sure of the context on that one so I’m not sure.

                I grew up in the UK during part the IRA bombing campaign, always aware that our town might be next. My best friend was very close to the big Manchester bomb in ’96, but luckily was OK. I was astonished to encounter ICB as a drink name when I moved to Canada. I’m trying to think of something equivalent… maybe if a drink was called a mass shooter, or an al Qaeda or something.

            2. CS*

              I agree. Stay away from political names or anything that sounds negative when naming a dessert. You are selling it in a shop and not a bar. If it sounds like a name you could find in a bar, pick something else.

        1. Marzipan*

          I had no idea that was the name of a drink OR a cupcake. And yes, I do find it offensive. One of my best friends grew up in Belfast during the Troubles and has childhood memories of armed soldiers on the streets, and having to be concerned about frequent acts of terror. That’s… not cupcake material.

      1. Ellie H.*

        I live in Boston area but this seems WAY too low to me. I’d expect $3 as a starting point.

    2. MillersSpring*

      For #1, I would gladly pay $2.50 or $3. For the fancy types, I’d pay $4. For the boozy types, it’s not my thing, but you could probably charge $5 or even $7. (Think of what mixed drinks and shots cost.)

      You seem to be doubting your worth; maybe you have negative but well-meaning family and friends, or even scoffing/sarcastic family and friends. Remember that one of the reasons that Starbucks sustained itself during the Great Recession is that people like to spend a few dollars to treat themselves. Particularly on something that makes them feel special like a gourmet cupcake.

      To test your pricing, you could try setting up a booth at any kind of street fair, fall festival, or in the lobby of an office building. Also think of ways to sell multiples and charge for extra services. You could try discounts for multiples, such as 2 for $7, 6 for $20, and 12 for $40. Be sure to add delivery fees when applicable. You also could charge extra for cupcakes with custom icing colors–such as sports teams and company logos. Best wishes!!

      1. MillersSpring*

        Also think of other things you can offer with the same ingredients, such as cake balls and whoopie pies. The Corner Bakery chain often has chocolate cake whoopie pies with peanut butter frosting filling. YUM. Also, maybe muffins or muffin tops. When you think of pricing also look at scarcity, i.e. how far a customer would have to go to get a similar treat.

    3. Temperance*

      Just a heads up – Irish Car Bomb is actually a pretty offensive thing to say. They call it a Depth Charge in Ireland.

          1. Connie-Lynne*

            Specifically, it’s Guiness with a shot of half Bailey’s, half Jameson’s, dropped in it and chugged before the Bailey’s curdles.

            It’s a specific type of depth charge cocktail.

            1. Elizabeth*

              I’ve made it as a Taste of Ireland cupcake: Guinness dark chocolate batter, Irish whisky ganache filling & Irish cream buttercream icing.

              I can’t stand the drink. I don’t do shots or chugging contests, so I can’t ever drink it before the cream curdles.

        1. SusanIvanova*

          I’ve made Guinness chocolate cakes. I’d buy that as a cupcake but I’d have no clue what either of those drink names referred to.

    4. Blueismyfavorite*

      I think you’re going to have to specialize in some way to compete with the grocery stores. In my town, a large metro area, I pay $4 for a large cupcake from a specialty shop but I can buy half a dozen at the grocery bakery for less than $6. The ones from the cupcake shops look better but they don’t taste any better so it’s not worth it to me to spend $4 on a pretty cupcake that tastes exactly like a Publix cupcake. I think you need to specialize in high quality ingredients and amazing taste to compete. If your cupcakes taste amazing people will pay more. Cupcakes NEED some amount of REAL butter in the batter to be any good. Most bakeries use gross, cheap oil so they’re just not good. They also use low quality chocolate. So make your quality ingredients your selling point. And start very, very small because it’s going to be expensive to follow the health department regulations for food service. I’ve heard of businesses folding because the regulations for the commercial ovens, etc. are so onerous and expensive.

      1. MillersSpring*

        I’ve read that start-up bakers can often rent a commercial kitchen at a church–these are equipped to feed crowds with fridges, ovens, bowls, etc., however, they’re typically idle in the mornings.

    5. The Butcher of Luverne*

      Maybe consider those tiny one-bite mini cupcakes too, for wedding showers, etc.

    6. chickabiddy*

      I live in a small town in a conservative and relatively low-cost area. I would pay $4 for a cupcake treat but would not pay $24 for six cupcakes. I know that’s how math works and it doesn’t make sense, except that I could justify one single splurge but not stocking up the pantry at that price. I agree it would have to be extra-special for that price.

      I also think — sorry! — that if your small conservative town is anything like mine, you would probably do well to have some of the standard “boring” flavors as well.

      1. The Butcher of Luverne*

        I can never seem to find choc-on-choc cupcakes in bakeries or even in the stores. Might be a good basic to carry.

    7. Jaydee*

      I live in a medium size college town with a larger city nearby. We have multiple cupcake shops in the area. There isn’t a lot of difference in pricing between flavors. The difference is always between mini cupcakes, regular, and giant. Minis are usually $1/each. Regulars are $2-3.50. Giant are $6.

    8. C Average*

      I will preface this by admitting that I love cake more than I love almost anything in this world, and when I discover a good cupcake source, I tend to patronize it often.

      I think it depends on the size of the cake. It’s interesting: I’ve seen the oversize cupcakes priced at up to $7 and they don’t interest me, because . . . too much cake. But I’ll gladly pay $2 for the little two-bite cupcakes because they’re the perfect serving of cake. The normal-sized cupcakes don’t appeal to me as much as the little ones most of the time, but if I’m trying to satisfy a serious cake craving, I’d gladly pay $3 or even $4 for those. I don’t really go for the fancy flavors, to be honest. I’m a creature of simple tastes.

      There is a local cupcake shop that does punch cards, like the ones at coffee shops. That seems like a good idea to me–encourages repeat business.

    9. always anon*

      I live in a city where cupcake businesses were huge a few years ago and $3 – $3.50 was common for all five options you have, and most of the places I can think of in my city charge the same price for cupcakes with fillings or without fillings.

      You’ll have to look at how other places do it because if say you charge $2 for simple, $3 for fruit or filled, and $4 for boozy, but everywhere else charges the same amount for all three options, you’re not going to get much luck. I can’t think of many places that have charged that much of a difference between fillings, no fillings, or boozy. To be honest, I’d be a little annoyed if a place charged more for something with a filling because it’s so uncommon.

      I would never pay more than $4 for a cupcake unless it was one of those huge ones that are three times the size of a normal cupcake. Or something for a special event. I know some of the shops in my city have Olympics themed ones or have sports themed ones when our teams are in the playoffs or sometimes ones that support a charity of the month.

    10. Kit*

      You’re doing it backwards in my opinion. Figure out your costs for a batch, divide it by the yield, and mark that up 50%. So, $60 a batch, 24 cupcakes in a batch, $2.50/cupcake * 1.5 = $3.75 retail. If your cost per cupcake is significantly higher than that you need to find a way to bring costs down before you launch rather than reducing your profit margins. It’s a cupcake business, not a cupcake charity!

    11. Natalie*

      Around here (Twin Cities) the fancy #3 type would be around $3.50-4. Minis would probably be $2.

      If people can order ahead, offer full dozens at a slightly lower rate per piece. We did cupcakes for our wedding and they were $32 for 1 dozen full size or 2 dozen minis. The same place sells single full dozen cupcakes for $3.50 in their shop, so we got about 25% off I guess.

      Make sure your costs include labor & overhead!

      1. ginger ale for all*

        I like the idea of a preorder discount. Maybe you can name the different sizes names that suggest cupcake occasions like the dinner party six, book club dozen, office party eighteen, and bridal shower twenty four. I would think about seasonal flavors too like caramel apple in the fall and lemonade in the summer.

    12. Vancouver Reader*

      I think you can look around at other artisans and see how they figure out how to price things. For instance, I make soaps, and there are a lot of really helpful soapers who give a basic formula to use on how to price your items. And I don’t know how it works in a smaller town, but if you create the best cupcakes in town, then you should be able to charge accordingly! Don’t undersell yourself just because your competition has cheaper cupcakes, make your customers understand why yours are more desirable and therefore more expensive. MillersSprings and BlueisMyFavourite explained it better than I can.

    13. TheCupcakeCounter*

      Thanks everyone! I had no idea about the ICB name being tied to terror tactics so I will definitely change that. Its on the menu of our local Irish Pub so I never thought about it.
      A bit of background – this is a cottage business so I am capped at a certain amount of revenue per year which won’t be an issue as I also have a full time job but I won’t have to deal with health department. I have always happily done it for friends and family because I love to bake and we can’t eat enough to support my habit. What is happening now is a friend made me some business cards as a thank you for making the cupcakes for his wife’s 40th and several of my friends and family member took the cards and started handing them out to their friends and coworkers so I am getting a lot of calls for graduations, birthdays, and weddings.
      My ingredients and flavor combinations are what sets me apart (only real butter in the frosting and either butter or a locally refined soybean oil in the cake, fresh fruit, good chocolate, and pure Mexican Vanilla) but my town tends to go cheap. I did check out the main place in town that does a gourmet cupcake and they do charge a bit more for filled vs unfilled and simple vs “gourmet” flavors which is why I separated them. It does cost more to make as the fillings are usually a fruit compote or a pastry cream and it adds additional labor time.

      1. Lurker*

        Look closely at the cottage food business regs in your state. In my state, fruit fillings are a no-go, as are any baked goods where the finished product requires refrigeration (ie, cream filled). If you decide to start under the cottage industry statutes, you may find your menu possibilities somewhat limited.

    14. Cookie*

      I’m perfectly happy to pay $3.25 per cupcake in my mid-size city. But after I got on their website and realized their cupcakes had 800 calories each, I was much less happy. If there’s a mini-cupcake option, I’m sure your health conscious patrons would love that too!

    15. Rory Gilmore's Book*

      I am a bit of a cupcake lover, so here is my two cents:

      1. Every great baker should have a kick butt vanilla cupcake and a really solid chocolate. I personally can tell a lot about a bakery based on how good those two flavors are.

      2. Consider having a couple of signature flavors. For example, there is a bakery in my hometown that is known for their red wine flavored cupcakes. I dont know of any other bakery Ive ever visited that has this flavor.

      3. I live in a medium-sized Midwestern city and I think a standard price for a cupcake here is $3 per regular sized cupcake. There is a fancy (a.k.a. overpriced) bakery nearby that charges $4 per cupcake, which I think is too much for the size and taste. I don’t know too many people that are willing to pay that around here. Plus, their flavors are very basic.

      4. Ive noticed that not a lot of people are interested in huge sized cupcakes anymore, including myself. I would stick to one bite versions or regular sized versions.

      1. C Average*

        I totally agree about a very solid vanilla and chocolate cupcake! Definitely don’t overlook the basics.

  5. LawCat*

    Just over 8 miles on today’s run, which is another distance record for me. I’m thinking my next race may be a 10-miler, which is crazy to me. I joined the running group to improve my 5k time and never imagined I’d be able to do this kind of distance.

    1. nep*

      Well done! Bravo. It’s always fun and interesting to find that our bodies are generally capable of far more than we think.

  6. Beezus*

    I need an idea for how to decorate the top of a cabinet in my living room. It’s a corner cabinet that houses our TV and other media stuff. The top is about 3 ft x 3 ft x 4 ft 3 in, and it is about 3 ft below the ceiling. I hate floral arrangements with a passion. My style is a sort of mid century modern/rustic/industrial blend. I have an assortment of pretty wine bottles up there now, but they’re really too small for the space, so I have added lots of them to fill it up, and now it looks cluttered and also maybe like I have a drinking problem. :D

    I basically need ideas for a big focal item that I can put up there that is not a floral arrangement, and also not a container that will look like I should put flowers in it, once it gets up there, and will work in a triangular space (doesn’t need to be hung on the wall).

    1. it happens*

      A few ideas – (don’t know how high your ceilings are…) a large painting hung from the ceiling, a few large machine pieces – gears and such to meld the industrial and rustic, an arrangement of remote control LED candles, wooden soda/beer boxes. Blank space is also refreshing in a room…

    2. C Average*

      This setup absolutely screams “gargoyle” to me. :)

      Maybe candles or an interesting sculpture or a lamp? Or a cool set of bookends with some suitably impressive volumes between them?

      We have an antique globe in our living room that’s proven to be a fun conversation piece, particularly because it includes so many countries that no longer exist.

        1. Anna the Accounting Grad*

          I suppose the genuine article could probably climb up there just fine, depending on the height of the bookshelf. Just something to consider if you have one or are thinking of adopting one.

          1. C Average*

            I had this same thought as I read this! I immediately thought of my parents, who have five cats, all of them adept jumpers and climbers. The real cats would knock over the clay cat!

            (My cat, on the other hand, shows no inclination to be an athlete. She is so lazy we frequently find ourselves poking her to make sure she’s alive. We believe she is part sloth.)

            1. Anna the Accounting Grad*

              My kitty’s not vertically inclined, but she’s no more lazy than most cats. But we live in NYC, so with our heat index everyone — feline or not — is part sloth right now.

      1. Gene*

        Putting on my pedant hat, unless it’s designed to convey water away from the building it’s on, it’s a grotesque.

        But I really don’t care, everyone knows what was meant, it’s just One Of Those Things to me.

    3. Lord Vetinari Is My Spirit Animal*

      Musical instrument (uke/balalaika or similar)?
      Antique sewing machine?

      1. Rahera*

        Ooh, I like these. I was going to suggest one of one clear glass heads milliners use and a very groovy hat on it.

    4. BRR*

      when I need a spot filled and dont know what I’m looking for i go to home goods. I find west elm has a good selection of decorative accessories or is just wonder around target for a cheaper option.

    5. Meemzi*

      My mom has old Longaberger baskets, a faux-vintage cake tin, some pottery, pretty plates on plate stands, and some fake ivy (which you would hate) above her cabinets.

      Maybe fabric would work in place of flowers? Beautiful scarves that you never wear? Anything you collect? Family heirlooms? Wooden toys, cookie jars, your horrible preschool clay projects…

    6. Beezus*

      I love the suggestions, guys, thanks! I headed to a vintage home store near me this morning to look for something, and all I found were big vases and vessels with floral stuff in them, and I was mentally stuck.

    7. Natalie*

      Pottery could be lovely if it has glazing meant to be seen from whatever angle it will be seen. (Sometimes the inside of a bowl is the most decorated but in this case it sounds like that would be hidden.) sometimes you can find sets of 2 or 3 bowls/jars of different sizes that are meant to be displayed together.

      Do you have cb2 near you? If not they have a website. They have a lot of interesting decorative pieces.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Sometimes you can hit it good on tag sales.
      How about antique children’s toys? I found a kid’s scooter.(Right word? You sit on it and push it along with your feet.) The whole thing is made of wood, it was 20 bucks. If you can find an old Meccano Erector set, you could make something interesting with it to put up there.

      Going the opposite way, a low/no cost idea would be to use something you already have. Perhaps you have things in the back of your closet or attic that you want to keep but really don’t use. I have several old clocks here, they have eye-catching shapes. I thought it would look interesting to gather them on to one shelf, maybe add some brass candle sticks.

      I also had some old curtain tie back holders. Some are metal and some are glass. I got a shadow box picture frame- you know- the frames that are about two inches deep. I covered the back ground with black velvet and lined up the tie back holders in an attractive manner. They look pretty neat, at least to me. The shadow boxes can either stand on a shelf or be wall mounted, for what you are doing, you could just stand them on the top shelf. The dark back ground off-sets the holders and you can see them well even at a height.

      You might want to try emptying the shelf and then trying different things up there until something hits you. Sometimes I put something up for a week, just to think about it. Then at the end of the week, if I am still not sure, I take that down and try something else for a week.

      1. Chaordic One*

        Since you mention antique toys, I’ve seen people display large dolls, doll houses, stuffed animals, rocking horses, boats, and cars and trucks (like old Tonka toys) from the 1960s.

    9. Elizabeth West*

      Not a corner unit, but I had an antique clock on mine and a basket filled with stereoscope cards and a stereoscope on top. Now they’re in the bedroom with the cabinet and the old TV.

      The clock has to be wound weekly. As of now, it has been silenced with a sock and a lack of winding because although I adore Westminster chimes, it is LOUD AF. I will use it when I have a larger house and can put it further away from my bedroom. >_<

  7. HannahS*

    People with chronic illnesses: how do you deal with the well-meaning “helpful” advice? Sometimes I manage shrug it off. But when someone goes on and on about how great yoga/gluten-free/mindfulness meditation would be for me, I really get angry and upset, and I want to TELL people in the moment that what they’re doing is insulting and inappropriate.

    The back story is this: usually I can shrug it off; people mean well. But last week I had a conversation with two people who LOVE yoga and went on at length about how great it is. I don’t mind that! These are people I love! I’m happy for them! But then it turned to me and, “You have to try it!” I have tried it. It’s not good for me. “But maybe it was the teacher! Some teachers push too hard!” It’s not for every body. Swimming is better for my body. “No, you should definitely try again, I think it would be good for you.” and ON AND ON. I just can’t BEAR it when people ignore me. Like, do you think I’m an idiot? Don’t you think I’ve tried everything? Why can’t you believe me when I say that things don’t work for me? It’s enraging.

    I need scripts that tell people that a) I’m not an idiot, b) just because I’m a young woman doesn’t mean I need to be told how to deal with my body, c) I’m on-medication-for-the-rest-of-my-life sick and you can’t solve it for me, d) my body isn’t normal anymore; what works on your healthy body won’t work on mine, or e) please, shut the F— up. Any suggestions? Any tone–funny, snarky, respectfully disagreeing—will do.

    1. neverjaunty*

      “Thanks, I’ll think it over” is a good opening salvo that will shut down the people who are well-meaning but not jerks.

      After that, try the slightly too-long pause and then brightly announce “Change of subject! So what do you think of [the Olympics/local sports team/Hamilton/whatever]?”

      If they STILL keep at it, that’s your cue to get up without a word and walk away. Because at that point they have made it clear that neither soft nor hard redirects will stay them from their mission of telling you how to run your life.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I like this:

        “Thanks, I’ll think it over”

        Get comfortable with lying.

        Say, “Oh, that sounds interesting. I’ll have to check it out.” and change the subject.

        If you are feeling irritation and the urge to slap them (very understandable), use that to justify to yourself that you are flat out going to lie, lie, lie, lie to them.

    2. Myrin*

      I actually think all the things you’re listing under a-d are completely fine to say, if you’re willing to be a bit on the harsher side. I’ve found that it can help immensely to phrase things as the non-discussables (?? you get what I mean) that they are but I guess it depends on what kind of person you are, who the people you’re talking to are, and what your relationship is.

      Also, I’m really sorry you’re dealing with this. Not just the comments, but the fact that you have this illness at all. :(

    3. Temperance*

      I had a serious illness this year and had to do a lot of PT to recover. I know what my body can and can’t do, and pushing it had serious consequences for me that other people didn’t see. (Like needing to sleep for hours and hours.)

      In the yoga evangelism case, I would probably snap and say something about how I would LOVE to do yoga, but my body couldn’t handle it, and then sarcastically thank them for the reminder. But … I’m kind of a curmudgeon.

    4. INTP*

      I’m definitely watching this post. I don’t really know what to advise other than trying not to mention your health issues at all, which is often unrealistic. (Not because you SHOULDN’T be able to discuss your health issues, but because I find that people just can’t deal with hearing about problems that have no solution to the point that they’ll drop random pieces of advice and refuse to consider that it might not be a viable solution for you. Even in a lot of other internet communities, you can’t vent – even explicitly saying you just need to vent – because you’ll be given some advice that involves totally turning your life, finances, relationships, etc upside down and called stubborn and not interested in helping yourself for refusing to follow that advice.)

      1. Rana*

        That’s a really good point about people’s reactions to problems without clear solutions, especially if they are causing distress to someone they care about. I too find that the more amorphous a problem is to fix, the more “halpy” people get about it.

        I’ve seen some people have small success stating upfront that they are looking for emotional support and validation while venting, not solutions, but it’s not foolproof.

    5. Cordelia Longfellow*

      Oh man, I am right there with you. In cases where people won’t let go, and where neverjaunty’s deflections don’t work, I will sometimes pull out, “Are you my doctor? Because these are decisions I make with them.” If I’m feeling extra-snarky, “Wow, when did you find the time to go to medical school?”

      1. ginger ale for all*

        I would avoid the medical school one. There is a subset of these advice givers who think people in the medical field with degrees and experience don’t know what they are doing and only holistic/natural remedies are best. You will then be treated to a lecture about how you eat wrong, sleep wrong, think wrong, and pray long. I have someone in my circle who is certain that I can get rid of my allergies if only I lived and thought just like her rather than taking that poison called Zyrtec.

        1. Nico M*

          And a real medical qualification wont mean they know more than Fuck All Divided By Six about your condition.

          1. ginger ale for all*

            Both sides have valid points but some conditions cannot be solved by eating better or doing x workout. Jmo.

    6. C Average*

      Oh, man. I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this.

      I’m an avid runner and have had a couple of hip surgeries to correct torn cartilage. As a result, I cannot run on the treadmill and I have to be really cautious about yoga. And I’ve heard all the things you’ve recited here, ad nauseam.

      I’ve taken to just being honest. “My body has some limitations it didn’t used to have. They’re real, doctor-certified limitations. I’m not interested in trying to mind-over-matter my way out of them. I’m trying to stay active and healthy within my limits, and those limits are different than other people’s limits. So no, I can’t run on the treadmill for a few minutes for a fitness assessment, and no, I’m not going to try out some hip openers at your favorite yoga studio. My doctor and my PT don’t think those activities are good for me, and I trust them to give me good advice. I’m glad you’ve found things that work for you, but I don’t like being pressured about this stuff. Please don’t.”

    7. Sparkly Librarian*

      I’ve used “Why do you think you know better than I do about my body/health?” and, in response to someone snarking about how I must be “all better now” because I wasn’t using my cane today, “My doctor would be surprised to hear that!”

      1. Bibliovore*

        oh. this. It is all that can do not to say…no I am not getting better, I have good days and bad days. I find it so, so disturbing sometime that when I am not using my crutch (it is a cuff crutch) work colleagues and acquaintances are all excited like I had been to Lourdes. That and how lucky I am to have a handicapped parking space at work. Someone JUST said to me this week, wow how did you get handicapped plates, aren’t those for real handicapped people? And this was from someone who is a friend of 20 years and knows I have a debilitating, permanent condition.

    8. Perse's Mom*

      If these are people you love, you should be able to be honest with them.
      “I’m happy it works for you and that you enjoy it so much, but I have tried it, and it didn’t work for me, and I need you to respect that.”

    9. Meemzi*

      Mix and match:
      Thanks for your concern
      Thank you for thinking of me
      I’m so glad that works for you
      I know you mean well
      I’m not really looking for advice about this
      I really need ____ from you
      I know my body pretty well
      It’s pretty clear to me what works and what does not
      It’s such a complex medical issue
      I don’t want to go into detail
      You’ll just have to trust me when I say
      I’ve talked to my doctor about this
      It’s pretty clear it’s not an option for me
      This isn’t a problem that will go away, ever
      This isn’t a problem that can be solved with _____
      My body doesn’t react to that the same way yours does

      The big guns:
      I can’t take medical advice about this from someone who doesn’t know my condition.
      Thank you for understanding.
      I need to change the subject.

      Patient Example: Thank you for your concern. I know you mean well, but I’m not really looking for advice about this. I’ve talked to my doctor about this and it’s pretty clear that this isn’t an option for me. Thank you for understanding.

      STFU Example: Thank you for your concern. I know my body pretty well, so you’ll just have to trust me when I say that won’t work for me. I can’t take medical advice from someone who doesn’t know about my condition. Please stop.

      There might be someone who you love and trust but who won’t take a hint. Catch them before they can forward you another email about medical-grade spices and ask them how to handle all this unsolicited medical advice you’re getting. Please let us know how it goes.

      Good luck. You’re in our thoughts.

      1. BRR*

        @knowing your body I say “yeah I know what works and doesn’t work for me” a lot. I have no patience for unsolicited advice.

    10. BRR*

      Ugh I HATE when people do this. My politest respons is “oh I’ll have to look into that.” If it’s then repeated I say “yeah it sounds great. I’ll have to look into it more later.” Changing the subject also helps.

      I’ve also tried to establish that I hate it before people start doing it. Build up a reputation so people don’t do it.

    11. Ultraviolet*

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this! Here are my suggestions:

      -“It’s actually more complicated than that.”
      -“It’s nice of you to think of me, but I don’t want to get into it now.”
      -“Unfortunately I’ve already hit my limit of unsolicited medical advice this week! You really need to try before Wednesday if you want to get in.”
      -“Actually, I’ve stopped discussing other people’s ideas for helping me deal with X. It’s just too frustrating because people don’t have enough knowledge of X to make useful suggestions, and they seem not to believe that I actually know what I’m talking about.”
      -“Don’t worry about it.”
      -“It’s starting to feel like you don’t think I know what I’m talking about!”
      -“It’s nice of you to try to help, and I wish you could! But this conversation isn’t helpful.”

      (I haven’t tried any of these–I’m not really in the same position you are. They’re just what came to mind.)

      1. Meemzi*

        “It’s starting to feel like you don’t think I know what I’m talking about!”

        Oh. Hell. Yes.

        Another one for the condesplainers: laugh loudly in their face. When they look bewildered, say, “Oh, you’re hilarious! Wow, you do an excellent impression of everyone who gives me advice when they don’t know what they’re talking about. Hah! Say something about essential oils!”

        1. esra (also a Canadian)*

          Except sometimes your brother’s future in-laws actually do believe in essential oils and you have to smile blandly because you only have to see them this weekend for the wedding and never again. Not that this oddly specific example is from personal experience or anything.

          1. MsChanandlerBong*

            The essential-oil crowd is the worst. Sure, I’m all for lavender oil to help with sleep, peppermint oil to feel energized, ginger for digestive troubles, etc. But it is SO ANNOYING to have someone suggest essential oils and natural remedies for every problem. Before I had my gallbladder out, I was miserable. I was in the ER twice with intractable vomiting and pain. Then, while I was waiting for clearance from my cardiologist to have surgery, I spent 22 days in a row retching violently no matter what I ate or drank. Imagine how annoyed I was when somebody suggested a gallbladder cleanse. I had acalculous bladder disease (it turns out I had adhesions from previous surgery wrapped around the neck of my gallbladder, so that probably contributed to the severity of my symptoms), so I didn’t have any stones to flush out. Plus, if a large stone moves into one of the ducts, you can develop pancreatitis or other serious complications.

            Let’s not even get into the people who think my kidney disease would just go away if I drank red wine/distilled water, ingested oils, rubbed oils on my flanks, became a vegetarian, and so on.

            1. Lindsay J*

              The essential oil people really really annoy me for some reason.

              I have a friend who is a nurse (which concerns me because I feel like she should know better) that peddles a brand of these things and the posts she puts up claim that the oils will cure everything from asthma to yeast infections. And I really worry that some kid is going to die when their parents treat their asthma or flu with essential oils rather than real medications.

          2. Clever Name*

            I use and love essential oils. I have a drawer full of them and I use them for everything from making the house smell nice to relaxation, to helping with minor illnesses. But I just have to roll my eyes at the oil evangelists.

    12. Miss Nomer*

      So, my mom deals with this. There are two subsets that she handles differently:
      1. Well meaning family who respond to a complaint on her part (“Oh man, I am so tired of not being able to go anywhere without my oxygen!”) by attempting to “fix” it. They are well meaning and don’t know how else to respond. She tells them, “I know you’re concerned, but my doctor has very specific instructions for me. I really only take suggestions from her.”
      2. Random people who swear by acupuncture/yoga/some treatment that doesn’t work and NEED her to try. She tells them, “I think we’re on different levels with what works for us, and I’m really unable to deviate from my treatment.” If they persist, she firmly tells them, “I will let you know if that option becomes available, but please drop it.”

    13. Karin*

      I have a Primary Immune Deficiency, and as such, I field a LOT of comments from people who are convinced that echinacea/Vitamin C/essential oils/whatever woo is the answer to my immune system issues. (For the record, no, they are not at all helpful for the genetic defect I have, and I know this because I’ve tried them all.)

      It’s frustrating to field the same comments over and over, but, like another commenter, I’ve found that, “Thanks, I’ll mention that to my doctors” usually helps to shut things down.

      I still want to tell them all to STFU, though.

    14. Irish Em*

      I have chronic back pain and my best friend and her partner are Pilates evangelists. Eventually to stop their nagging I asked my physiotherapist, and she recommended a beginner’s class run from the actual physio studio. So, to shut my BF and her fella up, I spent €90 on a six week course of pilates, attended three of those weeks, promptly made my back seize up worse than before and was able to shut dow any and all sports-related evangelism in the future with “Tried it. Made the problem WORSE.” Followed by either a really detailed outline of HOW FUCKING MUCH I spent on the classes and subsequent extra physiotherapy sessions and talking in loving detail of the enormous relief the dry needling had on me.

      It is amazing what the mention of a six-inch needle stuck into a tight muscle will do to someone who thinks sport is the answer to all the questions nobody asked. Also the cost of stuff like constant physiotherapy. That makes them think twice (even when I had a disposable income I spent too much on physio in a lot of people’s opinions).

      But, y’know, I don’t care if people think it’s weird that I like getting needled, and I really don’t mind going into hyper (slightly exaggerrated) detail about shit like that, because they do the same to me with all their “Pilates is the BEST EVA!!!” crap. YMMV on how much people will listen or care or even on how much you want to gross people out.

      *hugs if you want them* for the chronic illness, chronic ailments are the worst, because it’s ALL THE DAMN TIME WITH NO LET UP, and if you’re anything like me, you tolerate way more than non-chronic people would just to have an average day. I remember telling my old manager that a good day for me was pain that was 6-7 out of 10, that it’s always around that level and I can manage it like that, it’s only when it gets to 9-10/10 that I call out sick, and the look on his face was pure shocked. (Sorry for the Wall O Text, it’s just that I so rarely get to talk about this stuff I tend to overshare randomly with people who have similar experiences)

      1. Hlyssande*

        I’d never heard of dry needling before. It sounds fascinating and like it might actually help with a stubborn muscle knot on my neck. I might look into that if the chiropractor I’m visiting tomorrow can’t help.

    15. esra (also a Canadian)*

      I know people mean well, but after 17 years of living with Crohn’s, I’m just out of fucks to give. I will just straight up say to people: I’ve spent two decades with this disease, and its various treatments. I am aware of what’s out there, and what works for me.

      Followed by the iciest, WASPiest “Thank you.” known to man.

    16. Stellaaaaa*

      I say something like, “Do you seriously think I haven’t already had some considered thought processes about my own illness? You didn’t invent yoga. I’ve tried it already. I’m not insane and I don’t do the same thing over and over in an attempt to get different results.”

    17. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      My sympathies! My main coping for the last twenty years was to pretend I was FINE LEAVE ME ALONE but honestly it was a terrible one.

      These days I mention it lightly, occasionally when it’s relevant, and usually fend off advice with “already tried that a dozen times and it didn’t help (or made it worse)”. Since my parents dragged me to half a dozen woo practitioners over the years, until I smartened up at 21 and just quit talking about the pain, the likelihood of that being true is pretty high but I don’t have a problem with it not being true. They don’t need to know that!

      And like neverjaunty, change the subject! Usually asking about them works well since lots of people like talking about themselves, particularly the ones who are eager to dole out unasked for advice.
      My empathies for both the chronic illness and the associated annoyances :/

    18. TootsNYC*

      why not just say, “Can we change the subject?” in a friendly tone.
      Don’t get into the reasons why if at all possible.
      Or say, “well, I think something else would be more enjoyable. How about that Local Sports Team?” or “What do you think about Simone Biles’ ankle control on the balance beam?”

      And I love C Average‘s last two sentences, below:

      “I’m glad you’ve found things that work for you, but I don’t like being pressured about this stuff. Please don’t.”

    19. rahab*

      I’m sorry. Chronic illness seems to bring out the crappiness in people. I’ve had dear friends send me essential oils (good grief) and tell me my doctors and the entire medical industry just wanted to profit off of me. Barf. For whatever reason I decided early on to only confide my diagnoses and how I’m feeling and what meds I’m on to people on a need-to-know basis, and I project a general air of confidence and lack of interest in nosy advice. In your situation I don’t know what I would have done. It’s gross when people don’t respect your “no”.

    20. HannahS*

      Thank you all so very much for your advice and commiseration! On the one hand, I sincerely hope I never have to use any of your suggestions; on the other (more realistic) hand, I’m glad to have such a wide variety.

  8. Bibliovore*

    Trip planning help.
    I am planning a trip Spring 2017. A mix of work and pleasure. Not really sure how to start. Never been to London or Italy before.
    Work- London Book Fair and Oxford. for 5 days in March. March 11 to 16

    Time off- 2 weeks vacation with Mr. Bibliovore, on my own dime. My idea of the perfect vacation is urban walkable environment, museums/libraries/bookstores and/or some kind of spa experience that include sitting in hot mineral baths up to my chin. (also with that in mind- I like to take trains, I have bad asthma and some mobility issues, I have always wanted to go to Denmark…is that possible?)

    April 2-6 Then Work- Children’s Book Fair in Bologna.

    1. Elkay*

      Bologna is well located for getting to other Italian cities via train, Florence and Venice are day trips, Rome is about two hours away and not a particularly exciting train journey (my memory may be tainted by being starving hungry and plotting how to steal the sandwich the woman next to me was eating).

      Most of London is walkable if you’re willing to do it (or the tube is very easy to use but using Google maps transport overlay is a good idea – the map is not geographically accurate) and there’s plenty of museums, libraries (mostly free).

    2. Caledonia*

      I am sensing a book theme here! On buzzfeed there are some best UK/London/Europe bookshops/libraries lists. I will link in a reply. One must see for London is the Book Barge! I’ve never been on it but I think Elizabeth West has.

      You can most likely get the Eurostar to Paris on Belgium and change to get to Denmark – might be a long journey though.

      1. Caledonia*

        Links! Most likely some repeats and closures:


        For train journey advice:

        London to Denmark:

        1. Elizabeth West*

          OH YES SEAT61.com is the best. I used it to plan ALL my UK train journeys, especially the one to Inverness on the Caledonian Sleeper. Everything on that site is spot on.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Word on the Water!!! Yes you must go to the Book Barge! I can’t go there and not buy books. They always have something. Last time I found a British copy of the first Harry Potter book (Philosopher’s Stone vs. Sorcerer’s Stone) and of course I had to have it.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            It is!! I found it on a Buzzfeed article before my big holiday in 2014. Last time, I went all the way to Victoria Park just to go there. Which of course was fun because I hadn’t been to East London before. :)

    3. C Average*

      If you can spend a day in Florence, do! The train takes you directly to the heart of the city, where you can do all the touristy stuff, which I heartily recommend. Gawk at David for an hour, gawk at all the amazing stuff in the Uffizi for at least two hours . . . I didn’t make it to Dante’s house, which totally bummed me out, but that’s an option in Florence, too.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Anytime anyone mentions Florence, this exchange plays in my head:

        Clarice Starling: Did you do all these drawings, Doctor?
        Hannibal Lecter: Ah. That is the Duomo seen from the Belvedere. Do you know Florence?
        Clarice Starling: All that detail just from memory, sir?
        Hannibal Lecter: Memory, Agent Starling, is what I have instead of a view.

    4. Dan*

      How to start? Accept that there is no such thing as the perfect trip… At least not one that you can plan without knowing what you’re doing ;) If you’re going to visit multiple spots, try changing hotels/cities no less than every three nights. Too often and you actually don’t have much time to actually enjoy yourself. Day trips are different, but if you’re doing them, make your stay in your base city a bit longer.

      Don’t over plan. Try planning for like one thing a day, but have a backup list of things to do if you have time. If you over plan, it takes a lot of effort to get the logistics right. If you get them wrong, you will find yourself hopping all over the city, which ain’t that much fun.

    5. Irish Em*

      I can’t speak to London, I was only there the once, and I didn’t much like it – but do try to take in a show or play in the West End if you can!

      Iirc Bologna is not too terribly far from Modena where the Ferrari factory is (and possibly also the Maserati factory) is/are. If Mr B likes his cars – or indeed if you’re like me and love cars – it is WELL WORTH a visit. I recommend Italia magazine and their website italytravelandlife dot com for suggested trips, as they do 48 hours in (name of Italian town/city/island) each month, and keep a lot of those articles available free online – and I know they did Bologna not too long ago, maybe May or June?

      1. Bibliovore*

        Irish Em,
        Thank for that. I have very romantic notions of tea and shopping at Harrods. The Albert and Victoria. My children’s book memories run more to wanting to walk where the Fossils may have stood than seeking out Harry Potter or Winnie the Pooh or Beatrix Potter environs.

        Good suggestion on the italytravelandlife dot com. That reminded me of the NYTimes, 48 hours in articles.

    6. Miss Larisa Roberts*

      Oooo, oooo! One I can finally help with.

      Oxford….March is a nice time of year to be there. It’ll be before it’s packed with tourists, and it can be chilly but you can have some REALLY lovely days. The exhibits at the Weston Library (the Special Collections library of the university) are fantastic, but I also highly recommend taking the guided tour of the Bodleian itself. Go on a self-guided tour at New College; the grounds are gorgeous and it’s not as crowded as Christ Church (which is cool, too – if you’re a Harry Potter fan you should probably go). There’s a cool pub/bistro near the train station called The Jam Factory, and my favorite pub is the Royal Oak (a walkable-but-not-exactly-central distance from the high street).

      London is fantastic and you could easily spend a month there and still not see everything you want to see! The free exhibits at the British Library are also excellent. There’s a lovely cafe called Cafe in the Crypt at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, right next to Trafalgar Square. And if you like offbeat museums, check out the Dennis Severs House.

      Bath is a short train ride from London and/or Oxford, and Thermae Bath Spas are excellent. March would be a particularly lovely time of year to enjoy the rooftop pool.

      As much as I love trains, I’d nix the train idea unless you’re going to, say, France. Flights are so much cheaper and faster. And I’ve not been to Denmark, but all of my friends who have been love it, so go, go, go.

      Sorry for all the suggestions. I’ve just come back from spending six years in Oxford and so turn myself into something of a raving lunatic anytime someone mentions a trip to the UK. Have a great time!

        1. Bibliovore*

          Yes to your suggestions. Thanks for taking the time. The Bodleian is on the schedule as I have business there…perhaps I will get a behind the scenes tour. I said I wasn’t that interested in Harry Potter and now realize that is not true. Starting to get excited about the plan.

          1. Your Weird Uncle*

            Great! I figured you might be working with the Bodleian, but then again Oxford is so….booky. Blackwells, Oxford Press, etc. I spent five years working at the Bodleian, so I know it well. :)

            Fun facts:
            There is a tunnel that leads from the Weston to the Bodleian to the Radcliffe Camera. Half of it is now called the Gladstone Link and is used by readers to get between the Bod and the Rad Cam. The other half is used for the transportation of special collections material between the Bod and the Weston.

            Millions of books are kept in an off-site storage facility in Swindon, and deliveries for readers are made by van several times a day.

            The basement of the Clarendon Building (the building between the Weston and the Bodleian) used to be used as a jail/holding cells, and there are still bars on the windows.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Cafe in the Crypt is great–but prepare for lines and it’s not that cheap. Still, the food was good and it was fun to eat in a crypt. I had to share a table with someone because there were a lot of people. Trafalgar Square also has the National Gallery–wonderful if you’re an art lover and it’s free.

        I second the British Library. Get off the tube at King’s Cross station (and you’ll not be far from Word on the Water because I think they’re parked near there–you can follow them on Twitter to see exactly where they are). Go toward St. Pancras station (the huge Victorian thing right next door) and keep going until you get to a huge brick building on your right with a very large courtyard. You don’t need a reader pass to look at the exhibits. It’s a very nice visit for a book nerd–it’s one of the largest libraries in the entire world. :)

      2. in MIA*

        I’m going to the UK for the very first time in late October, my manager authorized three weeks vacation and I am finally taking the opportunity for a “real” vacation!

    7. Mela*

      Check out Rome2Rio, it’s a website that lets you plug in two destinations, and pulls up every single way to get there (plane, train, car, boat, etc.) and compares the costs for you.

    8. Marzipan*

      OK. In London, I’d definitely recommend the museums in South Kensington – you’ve got the Science Museum, the V&A (decorative art and design from around world) and the Natural History Museum all in a row. The NHM, in particular, is my very favourite place in the world – just the building alone is marvellous terracotta cathedral to natural history. They’re all free (excepting special exhibitions) and well worth a visit.

      The South Bank is another interesting area for cultural stuff (although a lot of it is more time-bound, like productions at the National Theatre) – and if you walk along from the Southbank Centre itself (where they have handy WiFi and toilets in the Festival Hall, btw), you get to Tate Modern (also mainly free) and the Globe Theatre (where you can either tour the theatre, or potentially see a performance getting the full groundling experience, depending on the schedule), which you might enjoy.

      You might also want to think about a day trip to Bath. Normally I’d be reluctant to suggest breaking up a holiday with trips to entirely different places, but it’s only about an hour and a half on the train from London, and it might suit your interest in walkable urban spaces, literary connections (they have a bit of an Austen thing going on) and spas (the whole history of Bath being tied up with the Roman baths, and also there’s a modern spa utilising the same naturally-warm waters, with a rooftop pool)… so maybe think about taking a look? It’s an interesting place; they’ve really emphasised maintaining the architectural integrity of the (small) city so it has a very distinct identity.

      Oh, and if you do the train thing in Italy, consider visiting Lucca – a teeny, sleepy little walled city near Pisa/Florence. It’s lovely.

      1. Kate R. Pillar*

        Seconding Lucca so much! It was our “base camp” last year and so relaxing to come back to.

    9. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      You are definitely going to want to break this down into chunks and have some focus.

      London can be overwhelming/insane/chaotic etc. The Book Fair is held at Kensington Olympia/Earls Ct area if Im not mistaken, which at least makes it easy enough to take a bus from there to say: Hyde Park, the West End, South Kensington Museums. It looks as though you won’t be visiting when the kids are out of school (otherwise I would caution away from the museums – its mayhem!) and the museums in South K are lined up one after another on the road – very accessible. Some of these museums have Late opening times, so you could, potentially, head to one if you aren’t too tired after a work day.

      Another section of town you could do in a chunk would potentially be the Euston Rd/Kings Cross area – the British Library is over there, the Wellcome Collection/Library/Archives (its free! full of weird stuff!), they have totally redeveloped the space around most of Kings Cross so there are some lovely eating places and spaces back by the canal and Central St Martins (the art school) to check out. Another day you could go to Holborn and pick up Sir John Soane’s Museum (Lincoln Inn Fields, its free! supposed to be amazing!), then take the central line (or walk along the river and into the City for 20 minutes or so) to pick up St Pauls Cathedral and then cross over the river on the footbridge to the Tate Modern – now with new galleries! Depending on where you are staying there may even be a river boat option back from the Blackfriars area to your hotel. TfL maps should show if its an option.

      For London it will definitely have to be a case of being highly selective and limiting yourself to certain things in grouped areas. Try not to cross town more than necessary in one day, either e-w or n-s.

      You should definitely see Bath – trains are easy to get (think they go out of Paddington) and its about an hour and a half. An overnight trip to the countryside can be a nice balance to the craziness of London.

      For Denmark – any thoughts on where you would like to go? Copenhagen is a beautiful city, although in March it will likely be cold and wet (like London). Three days is pretty good timing and there are some nice shops/areas/museums to see. Be aware of the cycling lanes as people speed along quite fast. Train connections to other cities are excellent, and Scandinavian trains are all super clean, etc. It may be tempting, but there isn’t much point to crossing into Sweden, especially as there are now border controls on Denmark departures.

      Also, I would absolutely stress paying the extra cash to take a normal airline from Heathrow into Copenhagen Kastrup. Don’t be tempted by flights into Malmo (Sweden) or Esbjerg (if you aren’t going there) because they inevitably go out of airports in London (Stansted, Luton) that are exhausting (and expensive) to get to and arrive in airports that require an extensive bus/train ride back into a city center. Stick with Heathrow if you are staying in the west of the city near the expo.

      If you DID want to do a bit of a train journey, then I would do it on the Copenhagen to Bologna run. There is a special ship crossing, the trains are clean/decent/fast/well priced (compared to the UK at least) you can do an overnight train to save on accommodation, hit up Hamburg for dinner, go through Switzerland and see some amazing scenery, etc. Seat 61 for the planning details. It would also give you a chance to catch your breath a bit!

      Unfortunately I haven’t spent a lot of time in Italy other than to know that driving seemed really scary, but the food was amazing! :)

      Hope you have a great time!

      1. Bibliovore*

        Oh, this such good advice! I must say that I have been excited and dreading the planning of this trip. I am sure that I will not be driving myself anywhere. (I have only had my license for 2.5 years)

        1. Jo*

          Additionally, as a fellow book nerd, you might enjoy taking a short (45 min or an hour at most, I think but I don’t really remember) train trip out of Copenhagen to Helsingore, better known in English as Elsinore. Yes, that Elsinore :P

          Helsingore is the location of Kronborg Slot, otherwise known as Hamlet’s castle. I really enjoyed touring the castle and hearing about its history, even without the tenuous connection to my favourite author.

          As to getting there — I think you can just walk into any ticket office at a Copenhagen metro station and tell them you want to buy a ticket to Helsingore. Getting around Denmark really is that easy.

    10. Pipette*

      London: Do be aware that the tube/underground can be a pain to use even for perfectly able-bodied people. Especially changing lines. It looks deceptively short and easy on the map, but it often involves long walks with lots of stairs. Check out Transport for London’s accessibility guides here: https://tfl.gov.uk/transport-accessibility/

      For trains between London and Oxford, you can pre-book tickets up to 12 weeks in advance here: http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/
      The train for Oxford is popular, so try to get a seat reservation unless you want to stand all the way.

      Denmark is lovely, but March may not be the nicest time to visit depending on how long the winter lingers. That being said, Kastrup (Copenhagen International Airport) is one of the big European hubs, so you won’t have trouble finding flights to wherever you decide to go next. And Danes are in general very good at English.

    11. SophieChotek*

      I love London, but I’ve not been there for a decade now. The last time I went was around 2005-2006 and I spent a week there.

      I mostly went to museums.
      Bank of England Museum
      British Library
      British Museum
      Courtauld Institute of Arts
      Imperial War Museum — love it (also the Bunker, etc. which is part of the museum, but separate place)
      London Transport Museum – fun, I loved climbing in and out of old buses, etc.
      Museum of London
      National Army Museum
      National Gallery
      National Portrait Gallery
      Old Operating Theatre — medical history, very interesting
      Tate Britain
      Theatre Museum — I think this one has closed since then; honestly I was rather unimpressed anyway
      Victoria & Albert Museum
      Globe Theater Museum
      Kensington Palace
      British Museum
      Buckingham Palace
      St. Paul’s Cathedral
      Tower of London
      Madame Tussaud’s

      –> museums I missed (so many) — but included: Bletchley Park…

      Itay — also have not been there for more than a decade, but I loved Venice, Florence (did not get to spend enough time), and Rome/Vatican City. Never done the countryside though and hope to do sometime.

    12. Lucina*

      From Bologna, I’d go and visit Ravenna and Ferrara. I really don’t know why they aren’t more popular with international tourists! Ferrara is especially interesting if you like Byzantine art.
      There is also a rather famous (in Italy at least!) spa town not far away from Bologna, Salsomaggiore Terme (and “frazione” Tabiano Terme). I’m not sure it is the kind of spa you’re talking about, I remember my grandma going to the spa once a year for medical reasons, but it looks like nowadays they offer wellness and beauty programs as well.

    13. Undine*

      In addition to taking in the Big Sites, try to find something that matches your personal interests. For example, in Florence, I went to the Marino Marini museum (horse art! yes!). Do you want to see the house where a favorite author or painter lived? Look a few up and you will find something in London. Do you want to tour the inns of court (home of Jarndyce and Jarndyce)? Are you interested in fairy paintings or Christina Rosetti’s poem Goblin Market? Go see the Fairy Feller’s Master Stroke in the Tate Gallery. In Italy, too, look for favorite artists online and see what’s in or near Bologna.

      It’s less than two hours from London to Bath by train — a long day trip to a town that has both literature and spas!

    14. NYC Redhead*

      Bologna is an underrated gem. It’s beautiful to walk around, and I recommend the restaurant Osteria dell’Orsa. It was cheap and delicious!!

    15. ModernHypatia*

      Late reply (catching up from a busy weekend) but a few things people haven’t mentioned (I did a trip to London in November 2015)

      1) Take a look for special tours : I did a behind the scenes tour at the Natural History Museum wet storage (10 pounds a person) that was some of the best time and money I spent all trip – fascinating things in jars, seeing some of the original samples from the Beagle, and a lot of other cool geekery.

      2) I didn’t start using buses until 2/3 of the way through my trip, and wish I’d started much sooner: compared to what I’m used to (Boston, several other US cities) they ran frequently in the core of London and most places you’re likely to want as a tourist, and the stops are well announced and signed. (Look up stuff in advance, but once you’re on the bus, it’s pretty easy.)

      3) Other transit: do at least one trip on the Thames ferries: lovely way to see the city from the river. I found the Tube was quite manageable as long as I left to go do things after rush hour (no big deal, since most museums didn’t open until 9:30 or 10), and came back before people were leaving work, or later.

      4) If you’re up for a walking tour, the London Walks people are fabulous, and they have all sorts of specific themed tours. I also have some stuff that made me a little wary of a walking tour, but they run about 90 minutes, it’s walk-pause-walk-pause, and some of them are fully inside or cover a small physical area. Great way to learn more about a bit of the city from people who know a lot about it.

      5) In Italy (much longer since I’ve been there): Florence is interesting. Siena is a nice contrast, and you can combine the two into a couple of day trip. (Siena is still a very medieval city, where Florence moved on into the Renaissance)

      6) Thing I wish I’d done, was plan at least one day every five of the trip to have a light day with very little planned/plans that would not take a lot of walking. I would have gotten a lot more out of some of the remaining days. Scouting places to snag food and bring it back to the hotel helped a lot, too. (In London, I found Simply Marks & Spencers lovely for this: decent range of options, not terribly expensive, not all the fuss of going to a restaurant.)

  9. Bibliovore*

    I forgot the Ask. Anyone have any ideas or way to proceed? Checklists for trip planning or organizational tips?

    1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I would suggest first laying out how many days you have and how you want to break it down (e.g. 3 or 4 days in Denmark to give you more or less time in Bologna, etc)

      Ideally list out and rank what you want to see/do in each location. For example, the British Museum is a must see, but you can take or leave the Science Museum in London. Do some high level research online using the tourist bureaux, time out, even reddit (the London Reddit thread can have some good tips on getting in from the airport, etc)

      Build out your days taking into account travel time/neighborhood of what you want to see/proximity to other options. You know how fast you like to see museums, decide how many you think you may want to see in a day. Decide if you are happy seeing the outside of certain places (e.g. St Pauls) or you maybe want to go in. Entry fees can add up too, make sure you take account of those. Also – the benefit of London is that you can take a bus from A to B and cruise past a major monument anyway without purposely aiming to see it!

      Dont forget to build in time for travel/seeing something off the beaten path/wandering and serendipity. Are there any restaurants or shows or other entertainment you would want to see? Any restaurants that will require pre-booking months in advance? Shows requiring pre-booking months in advance?

      Definitely research the public transport systems of the places you are going – cost vs accessibility, etc. Copenhagen has a significantly different (annoying, to me) system compared to London.

      This is a pretty substantial trip that will take a lot of planning, so break it down, take your time, and enjoy the process.

      1. Bibliovore*

        Thanks for all of the really great advice. This is a real stretch for me but now I am less trepidatious. Mr. Bibliovore is often observing that I have trouble “not working” The WeekEnd AAM rules force me to think about outside work time and imagine time off even in the midst of a business trip.

        Best of the Week- posting on AAM and getting practical advice from a trusted cohort
        – finished a work project this weekend that has been hanging over me for weeks
        Worst- not worth discussing as it is over now.

  10. INTP*

    Is anyone here hypothyroid? Did you have a hard time getting diagnosed? Any suggestions for me?

    I have textbook hypothyroid symptoms (including the weirder ones like ridgy nails and carotenemia), severe enough to have significantly impacted my functioning the past several months. I was tested for TSH and T4, and they came in technically within the lab’s reference ranges, but based on my research, outside what is typical or ideal (TSH was 4.012 and FT4 was 1.07). Some had mentioned that a doctor might prescribe a low dose of thyroid meds for those levels, but I just had a follow up and my doctor just said that everything is normal and there’s nothing else physical that she can test for, maybe I should see a psychiatrist.

    I just ordered a thyroid antibodies, T3, and T4 test that I will go to a lab for next week. I had to pay out of pocket, but it wasn’t too bad ($75). I figure if this comes back abnormal, I will have something to get an endocrinologist to take me seriously. If it’s entirely normal, then I’m not sure what my next step will be, but I will know it’s probably not just my thyroid (I know there are all kinds of other thyroid patterns that are possible but I don’t have the money for all of the tests).

    I’m actually frightened of what will happen if I can’t figure out what is going on with me and fix it, because I have already had to quit my freelance work (I work 32-40 hours/week with low pay), and put any other large projects like getting certified in my field or moving out of my parents’ house on hold. I’ve made mistakes at work and my productivity is below my previous level (our time-per-task for every single task is tracked against a generic estimate based on the size of the project, so it’s something that will be noticed). I need to sleep 9 hours/night, exercise a little, and relax each day to stay mentally functional, and I don’t even have time for all of those things every day, let alone anything else in my life. I know it still may not be a thyroid issue, but I want to at least convincingly rule it out.

    Any stories or advice? I don’t anticipate being able to see a doctor that is super knowledgeable and open minded about thyroid issues because the highly recommended ones I researched charge a concierge fee, aren’t taking new patients, have a 6 month waiting list, don’t take insurance, etc.

    1. TL -*

      I had a classic lab result for a not super classic symptom (dizziness and a fainting spell) and was put on a low dose by my GP that worked immediately and I am the most boring case ever.
      But almost everyone else I know sees an endocrinologist so I would start with seeing an endocrinologist. Also, if you’ve talked to your doctor about your symptoms and they’re suggesting a psychiatrist, I would book an appointment just in case.

    2. Sparkly Librarian*

      I’m sorry you’re feeling so run-down! I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (super fun in that you get the best of both hyper AND hypo symptoms) in my senior year of high school, and have been prescribed daily medication ever since. Sometimes I’ve gone a while without a GP/PCP and haven’t taken my meds, and it becomes pretty obvious that I need to. (When I was tested the last time I asked for a new prescription, my TSH was 310. Yeah. 5.5 is the top value of the range indicating standard function that my provider’s lab was using. I know it can vary a bit from place to place.)

      I second the recommendation of an endocrinologist. It could be something other than your thyroid. You shouldn’t have to live with daily symptoms, and if it’s bothering you not to know what’s causing them, the doctors are supposed to help you figure it out. You might consider changing your GP as well. I’m not saying that counseling and lifestyle modification would hurt you, and that sort of treatment might also help manage the symptoms for now, but to throw up her hands and refer you to a psychiatrist? That’s pretty damn blase.

    3. SusanPNW*

      I am one of those who is hypothyroid and who feels AWFUL even if my lab results are “normal”. I feel awful if my TSH gets above 1.5. I need to keep it very close to 1. I felt AWFUL for years until I finally worked with a naturopath who said that many of her patients did much better with the TSH at the low end of normal. So maybe you could find a naturopath who could work with you.

      Once I discovered this my family practitioner was very willing to work with me on this and we kept my TSH numbers around 1, sometimes a little above, somtimes a little below. Eventually my TSH drifted up again without my knowledge and I didn’t feel my usual symptoms, but rather my migraines increased dramatically. I didn’t discover the cause for the migraines until my annual blood test showed my TSH had gone all the way up to 2.5 – still within “normal” lab results. Migraines decreased as soon as I increased my thyroid.

      At that point I decided to see an endocrinologist. He is wonderful in that he works not just with lab results, but also with how I am feeling. Running more extensive tests he found that my body doesn’t convert T4 to T3 normally, so now I also take T3.

      So I guess my suggestions are: believe your body, find a naturopath or endocrinologist who will work with you on how you feel and not just what the lab numbers say.

      Good Luck!!

    4. Here2day*

      If you haven’t done so also consider a sleep study. I kept having low but “normal” lab results, eventually getting a low dose thyroid med that still didn’t address my symptoms. My pcp’s general attitude was generally better diet more sleep and exercise. I waited 5 months to see my endocrinologist and he tested everything and told me that if I was having symptoms he would figure out what was going on. I’m still waiting on those results and hopefully he can give me some answers, but it was so refreshing to have someone take my concerns seriously. I also did a sleep study and have mild apnea. Got evaluated for a cpap machine and felt better after 6 hours sleep with the machine than 10 without.

    5. NewCommenterfromDaBronx*

      I am hypothyroid & see an endocrinologist. I went off my meds for about a year & just recently started back on levothyroxine. My TSH was measured at 150, the highest value for that lab. I had been feeling very very fatigued, very “spacey”, hoarse voice, gaining weight, no energy at all. After a couple of weeks of gradually increased meds, I feel so much improvement. Energy levels are better, brain fog is mostly gone & I have even started to lose some of the extra weight. Feeling so much better. I go back next month for more blood work.

    6. SongBird*

      I tried for a year to get the specialists my GP referred me to to prescribe synthroid for me – I had just about exactly your symptoms.

      The upper limit of ‘acceptable’ TSH in the body is highly debated, with the old standard of 5.0 now considered to be excessively high. My TSH was around 3.9 – 4 and my doctor gave me a prescription so that we could rule out the possibility of hypothyroidism. As a low dose won’t be harmful for a short period of time, she was willing to give it a chance. As it happened, it’s been a life-changing thing for me.

      My TSH dropped like a stone, down to about 1, and I’m able to remember things and have so much more energy. It’s been great.

      Try asking your doctor just to give it a chance – just for a couple of months to see if it makes a difference. If it doesn’t, then it’s time for the two of you to find another possible diagnosis.

      1. INTP*

        My doctor isn’t open to any further discussion of my symptoms, it seems. I asked about other possibilities and she said there is nothing else biological to test for and suggested I see a psychiatrist. I don’t think I’m going to get any further with her, I’ll have to see specialists without a referral.

        Sadly, she was actually one of the more open minded doctors I’ve seen from the beginning, as she was at least willing to test my thyroid. I have psych diagnoses and am overweight, which is a double whammy in terms of things that make MDs dismiss everything you have to say. But I’ve had ADHD all my life and anxiety for years and I know what those things feel like and the issues I have on them, and that what I’ve felt for the past 1.5 years is very different. (I.E. I’ve always had a tendency to forget conversations until I was reminded of them or miss deadlines if I’m not super organized, but now I still can’t recall the conversation when reminded, or I can keep an impeccable to-do list and check it at 5:45 every day and still miss deadlines because by 5:50 I’ve forgotten I have one last project due that day.)

        1. SongBird*

          Yeah, the brain fog was the bit that I found most upsetting. Sure, I’ve gained weight and can’t get it to come off (and yeah, my doctor spent some time trying to get me to Just Do More Exercise, but dammit, I’ve tried 6 months on strictly 1200 cal/day with daily exercise and the weight just stuck – how much more evidence does a person need? AND, of course, weight and fitness aren’t directly related. UGH.)

  11. Anon for This*

    It has come to our attention this week that my husband’s grandmother is having some sort of personality / memory issues. She’s been “forgetful” for years, but she apparently physically lunged at someone last week and started saying very horrible things to that person. It’s not the first time, but the rest have been kept under wraps. There are great-grandchildren now, and the babies need to be protected.

    GMIL and GFIL live with my MIL, who was more or less forced to be their caretaker. GMIL has been demanding and forceful about never, ever going to a nursing home EVER, but she’s becoming irrational and dangerous. MIL seems to feel that she needs to keep GMIL at home, at all costs. I tried to offer resources a few years ago when GMIL was ill, and they were honestly offended when I suggested that they take advantage of the Medicare visiting nurse program, like my family did.

    My question: is there anything we can do? We live over two hours away, and we absolutely cannot give weekend respite. (We have incredibly stressful, time-consuming jobs as well as an old house that we’ve been rehabbing. If not for weekends, we’d never have food to eat or clean clothes to wear. I’ve been commuting upwards of 3 hours/day due to train issues.)

    I’m worried about the stress on my MIL, especially now that her kids are refusing to stay in the house and visit due to the danger of GMIL.

    1. Rebecca*

      Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can force your family to do. My MIL succumbed to dementia, and it’s not a pretty process. Absolutely demanding not to go to a nursing home is sometimes not an option. It’s not taking advantage of Medicare to get in a visiting home health care aid! It’s something that’s necessary and your MIL cannot shoulder this burden alone.

      Your GMIL’s doctor needs to be brought up to speed, if he or she isn’t already. GMIL can be evaluated, and perhaps prescribed medication to help with the outbursts. I live in PA, and there are county offices of the aging, and your GMIL can get a caseworker to help navigate through the paperwork process to get her the assistance she needs.

      My MIL was getting worse, too, and her family stuck their collective heads in the sand. I wasn’t allowed to speak to the doctor or staff (HIIPA rules) but I took her to most of her doctor’s appointments and during one appointment she was really off the rails, and finally she got the meds she needed and the help through office of the aging.

      You are right to worry about your MIL. She needs help, and she needs it now. I wish you the best of luck while your family travels this sad road.

      1. Anon for This*

        My apologies – I meant “take advantage” as in “use your resources!” They refuse to use non-family caregivers, because they are old and stubborn, and for some reason, everyone is just okay with this. MIL can’t do it alone, but we can’t pitch in (and, honestly, nor do we want to, because our lives are chaotic enough without caregiving and long-distance commuting added to the mix) to do what they want. MIL’s brother lives in the same town, and his wife is a trained nurse, and they do jack. It’s highly frustrating.

        GMIL is already on tranquilizers … I think she’s honestly beyond them being effective. They’re refusing any assistance beyond “family”, which means that my MIL gets all this dumped on her. They won’t get a caseworker, or talk to anyone.

        1. Jen*

          Have you asked MIL “how can we help?” Curious to know if she has ideas. When my GF was ill (not dementia, but he was terminally ill and it got ugly), my mother, one of 4 kids, became a martyr. She would stay up all night at the hosptial, drove my grandmother around, and then come home and complain that none of her siblings did anything. Thing is, siblings (a) were reasonable people that wanted to help but didn’t want to sleep on the floor of the hosptial and (b) when they asked my mom how they could help, she pushed them away.

          At the end, GF died, and my mom’s relationship with all her siblings was wrecked. Over the years (this was 15+ years ago) she’s gotten over this with two of them but still will rant about it to anyone who will listen.

          All that to say…sometimes you can’t help someone that won’t accept it. Your MIL will burn out.

          1. Anon for This*

            We have asked her – she would like more visits / weekends where we come up to her so she has a “break”. It’s not feasible to do this regularly for lots of reasons. She has also asked us to take vacation time to help out, which is also not feasible. (As background, we’re childless but I’m recovering from a serious illness. I was intubated in the ICU for a week earlier this year, and the recovery has been slow-going. I tend to need lots of rest on the weekends so I can physically get to work and some mild exercise. Last time I didn’t do this, I had to leave work early to go take a nap because I was nodding off at my desk and felt ready to pass out.) We invite her to us to visit and get away, which she tries to take advantage of when she can, but her parents guilt her if she isn’t catering to their every whim.

            My husband has offered to work with his uncle to get him and his wife to pitch in sometimes, but MIL keeps refusing. She’s basically martyring herself, which is worrisome to me. She’s admitted in the past that she’s looking forward to getting her “freedom”, but I’m more worried that she’s running herself ragged dealing with two people who are at best unpleasant and at worst, possibly dealing with dementia, and that she won’t get the freedom that she wants.

            1. fposte*

              And it’s one thing if you *are* providing weekend respite and trying to get others to take a turn, but I don’t think you can nudge others into providing support if you aren’t.

              Even if you can’t go, there’s really no way your husband can’t put house rehab on hold to help his mother for a couple of weekends a year? There’s an area where she hasn’t martyred herself and has specifically asked, and even if she did get in a visiting nurse, this is still likely to be something she’d need.

              1. Anon for This*

                We see it a little bit differently because his uncle lives less than a mile away and they’re his parents, so we think that he should have 50% of the responsibility for care, if he’s not going to step up and discuss assisted living. If we’re removing it one generation, there are 6 other grandchildren who should be pitching in. 4 of the other grandchildren live in the same small town and only one of them has a demanding job. My husband has pointed out that if we start helping as much as she wanted (biweekly originally, then monthly – both of which are simply not doable with our schedules), it would end up with more and more on our shoulders, and no one addressing the problem that GMIL is becoming a danger to others.

                The nature of my husband’s job is such that he occasionally needs to do work on weekends, and it’s not usually planned in advance. So we could put off some parts of our house rehab (although our house is in seriously awful shape), but we can’t put his job in jeopardy. Also, he has anxiety, and putting up with a violent, horrible person like GMIL is going to push him closer to the brink.

                1. fposte*

                  Yup, I can see it would be tough. But I still wouldn’t poke anybody else to do it unless you were, regardless of the relationship.

        2. OhBehave*

          I have so many friends going through this same thing. I am so thankful that my siblings and I are of one mind in caring for my mom. Dad passed several years ago of Alzheimer’s.

          I urge you to contact GMIL’s doc and let them know what’s going on with her. It may do no good at all because they will more than likely recommend an Alzheimer’s Care unit for her and she won’t do that. You may also want to contact MIL’s doc and update them as well.

          Is your MIL’s brother out of the picture for this issue alone or is this always the case? If not, he may be staying away because they want mom in a nursing home and are getting flack because of it. Keep in mind that they may have the same lifestyle as you, they are just closer to the problems. If not, then they are just jerks.

          Some cultures think it’s a horrible thing to leave care of loved ones to strangers. Relationships with ones’ mothers are complicated things. I wonder if MIL may want to use a nursing home, but is on a guilt trip due to GMIL’s insistence on the opposite. She’s being the “good” daughter. Also wondering if she is prone to playing a martyr.

          Just curious to find out how MIL handles GMIL’s violent outbursts. Doesn’t she get why the kids are staying away? Sadly, your MIL’s health will suffer by providing this care. My mom’s health was starting to falter when she was taking care of my dad. She wasn’t sleeping because dad would get up at 2 am fully dressed and ready to leave. We had a family meeting and suggested that it was time to move dad. She agreed that she couldn’t handle it anymore. It was a huge relief to all of us.

          I am so sorry that you have to go through this. It is so very hard to do this from a distance.

          1. Anon for This*

            That’s actually why I’m concerned – my MIL is a really nice person, and she’s on the brink right now. She had to start taking anti-depressants from all the stress.

            MIL’s brother has never pitched in; the family has the typical patriarchal structure where girls are caregivers and boys are not. He visits them occasionally, but he doesn’t have a busy lifestyle whatsoever. (He’s a local cop in a very small town; he used to visit his parents while he was “on patrol”).

            MIL is in denial about how bad GMIL is. It came to a head last week when she tried to attack my SIL while SIL was holding her baby. SIL packed up her stuff right then and there and left. I’m also worried because she has been assigned the role of caregiver, and her dad is mentally fine but physically in bad shape, so he might strongarm her into caregiving GMIL.

      2. auntie_cipation*

        I know it’s in the past now, but for anyone for whom this situation is still relevant: I’m pretty sure that HIIPA doesn’t prevent you from talking to your family member’s doctor (ie you’re providing information to them), it only prevents the doctor from revealing private information to you. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong! Because my mom is just reaching that point where she doesn’t appear to be telling her doctor all the relevant things she ought to be reporting, and I’m worried (for example, that she might be having confounding effects of various rxs, or that she’s telling the doc she’s more reliable about taking her meds than she actually is). I’m assuming that I can get information TO her doctor when I feel that’s necessary, as long as I don’t expect the doc to offer anything back to me other than “thanks for the input”.

        1. OhBehave*

          You can absolutely contact the doc with concerns and to report that you question her ‘truthiness’. My sister has MPOA for my mom but I can contact him at any time with concerns. Her doc probably has his own nurse, so I would direct any concerns/info to her.

        2. TootsNYC*

          Also remember: the medical professionals can talk to you if the patient gives permission.

          So if someone has primary care of their parent or adult child, it’s smart to have a conversation about whether to have the patient sign a form that gives the doc & staff permission to reveal information to them.

    2. SusanPNW*

      We went through a similar situation with my MIL, who refused make changes that were really necessary for her health because of her determination to stay in her home. We lived across the country and couldn’t help on the day to day stuff. In the case of your MIL there isn’t much you can do when she makes these decisions not to get help because she is an adult. We had to learn to sort of separate ourselves as best we could emotionally or it would have been harmful to us too.
      Some suggestions:
      – The county support for the aging (different for every county) was actually very helpful in getting my MIL to accept at least some help. They are adept at talking with/about the elderly. Sometimes if you call them they can “arrange” to have a home visit, without your name being involved. Yes, we did that.
      – Although MIL and GMIL’s doctors cannot give you any information, you can give them information. You can send them a letter documenting your concerns. In this case your concern that your MIL is overwhelmed and you are concerned for her health, for your GMIL your concern about her dementia.
      -If your GMIL is hospitalized for any reason get the hospital social worker involved.

      Good luck, this is a hard one!!


      1. auntie_cipation*

        Ah, thanks Susan, you answered the question I posed above — didn’t see your post until after I posted mine.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Yes, there usually is that one event that makes locked doors fly open. At some point, something will happen and your MIL will be forced to admit it is too much for her. Unfortunately, some folks need to go this route. Other folks down size, move into a senior community, etc. I always say these folks show us what choices to make and what choices not to make when it comes to our own aging process. Sadly, this might be your only take-away for now.

        You can say things such as:
        “It would take a crew of 15 people to do what you are trying to do alone.”
        “Her illness does not make it hurt you LESS if she hits you.”
        “Verbal abuse does not hurt LESS if the person is known to be ill.”
        “Verbal and physical abuse are not acceptable EVEN if illness is a contributing factor.”
        “It’s a known fact, that the caregiver can end up almost as sick as the care recipient. Please take care of yourself.”

        I used to be one of these people that believed you stand by family and take care of their every need. I no longer believe that. The hard truth is that we are responsible for our own quality of life right up to our very last day on earth. No one can inhale/exhale for us, we have to do it for ourselves. And this is a very hard fact to face for most of us.

        I read somewhere that family caregivers can (sometimes) be more abusive or neglectful than nursing homes/hospitals. That was an eye-opener for me and I can really see it once it was pointed out. Family members are vulnerable to losing their objectivity. A complaint about a headache could be a major medical symptom but the caregiver blows by it because the sick family member is always complaining about something.

        I have talked with several people about taking care of an ill family member in their own home. In general terms here is what I have said, “You have to know your limits. Know how much you can do and know when it has become too much.” For me, I told my husband that he had to participate in his medical care decisions and he had to participate in his own self-care. If a person cannot participate in those two things, there is not a lot I can do for them. One friend after listening to this decided she drew her line at having to lift her family member. “I can’t do the lifts everyday. I can’t do it.”
        A male friend decided that he could not help his mother with toileting/bathing/female issues, although he did install handrails for her to use to help herself and he would talk to the female caregivers who came. They would tell him what she needed and he would run to the store.
        Different people have different responses to where their limits are. My father would do just about anything, but he could. not. deal. with. seizures. He had seizures as a kid and was totally overwhelmed by that experience. When my mother went into seizures he called for help each time.

        With a heavy heart, I have to say, sometimes all we can do is salvage ourselves from dire situations. Understand, that even if you lived closer and had endless energy, there would still be plenty of things that you cannot fix/help. I got sick taking care of both of my parents. Peach. Now the family had two people down for the count, my parent and me. If we allow ourselves to run into the ground, we only make MORE work for those around us because they now have two people to watch, not just the one who initially got sick.

        1. Anon for This*

          Thank you for this incredibly thoughtful comment. What I didn’t include in the post, but is incredibly relevant, is that my husband has severe anxiety and that I’m dealing with recovery from a serious illness earlier this year. We have our own issues, and me being sick sent him off into a tailspin. We can’t take over caregiving for his unpleasant, religious, and judgmental grandmother, even though his mother is a very nice person and doesn’t deserve this. She needs boundaries. (One of the things that happened in The Incident is that GMIL lunged at my SIL while SIL was holding her baby, screaming that SIL is going to hell for not going to church. Ironic, since GMIL herself hasn’t been in at least 15 years.)

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Having dealt with a dementia patient, I will tell you right now that neither one of you are in a place where you can help GMIL. Probably MIL does not understand and that is sad. But it is very important that the two of YOU understand.

            Caring for a dementia patient will break down the health of a caregiver. By break down their health, I mean irretrievably broken. Sometimes the caregiver can never get back the health they once had.

            I am not saying this to be scary, I am saying this so you and your other half really think about the magnitude of any decision to get involved in this care giving. Another article I read said that doctors KNOW for a fact that in the process of caring for our dying parents WE,ourselves, begin our own dying process. Kind of puts a new spin on why the doc asks when your parents died, doesn’t it?

            Whatever you decide to do, think carefully and be deliberate. Set boundaries. Since you already have the heads up about behavioral issues if you go to visit decide what behaviors you will tolerate and what behaviors will cause you to leave. See, most of what you can do is role model for MIL what she should be thinking about and doing.

            The church comment. This is dementia, logic and reason step out the door. If you don’t look for logic or expect statements to make sense, you will save a lot of time. Having watched people in dementia get really mouthy, I have concluded that they really do not know what they are saying. It’s almost like a form of seizure where they have no control, but in this particular situation, they have no control over what comes out of their mouths. And it can be nasty, vile stuff, too. But if you can detach from the meaning of the words and just watch the person speak, they look like they are hypnotized or having something weird going on with them. This can be helpful in some ways because then we can see that we should not react to what is said and instruct the person, “Okay, that is enough of that” or similar instruction.

            1. Anon for This*

              I’m really worried about this destroying my MIL – she’s already on anti-depressants because of the stress. I agree that my husband and me can’t step in as caregivers; we’re in our early 30s, live hours away, and our own health issues make this impossible. It’s frustrating that GMIL’s other child lives in their town and they expect nothing of him or his wife (who is a trained nurse). It’s somehow more reasonable to expect/demand us to drive 5-hours in a weekend to be caregivers.

              GMIL was like this before the dementia set in, although she was never a violent person, just judgy and religious. She wouldn’t have said someone is going to hell, but she was a master at Catholic guilt, once telling us that she would die from cancer if we didn’t all start going to mass and saying a rosary every day. This was years and years ago, before the memory issues set in. Lunging at my SIL while she was holding her baby is new, though … and I’m worried that MIL not having access to her grandchildren is going to push her even further into depression. (I agree that it’s no longer safe for kids to visit the home if GMIL is acting violent.)

              1. Not So NewReader*

                ouch. This is one tough life lesson here. I keep having to revisit it myself, too. We do not get to make other people’s choices in life and this is so hard. We can see clearly that a person’s choice is going to put them on a long hard road and yet there is nothing we can do to stop them from making this choice.

                I assume that this is your MIL’s own mother and NOT her MIL, not her husband’s mother. In reality, it is very unlikely that you will get her to make big changes in what she is doing until some major event happens. She and her mom have a history going way back. And it sounds like she is still looking for her mother to love her. Perhaps GMIL is not a person who is willing to play the loving mother role, but MIL keeps holding out hope for loving mom.

                All you can do is let her discover the reality at her own pace. If you step in and try to force her, it probably won’t go well. At all. This goes back to we are responsible for our quality of life right up to our last day. This rule applies to your MIL also.

                As far as the local sibling, uh, probably the local sibling raises enough of a fuss that it’s not worth calling for help. How would I know this…. let’s see. Having someone scream FU on the phone is more stress not less. So local sib makes it unappealing for her to call in some manner. It could be that sib is decent enough but the list of excuses that takes an hour to work down through. That’s an hour that could have been used doing something else. Like calling you guys.

                If you guys have a history of handling her problems in X manner and you change to Y manner, it will take a while for her to stop calling you every minute. You can encourage her to build a plan for the various things that come up. “I am five hours away, so you know I cannot help you. You need to build a plan on how to handle ABC when it happens. Do you want me to help you build a plan over the phone or do you prefer to work on it alone?”

    3. EmmaLou*

      Perhaps your husband could mention the very real danger of MIL being looked at for elder abuse/neglect for NOT getting her the professional help GMIL needs. We don’t let toddlers decide the rules of the house and, sad and frustrating as it is to say out loud, those we love with dementia are in very many ways toddlers but toddlers that can really do damage. A dear friend’s husband lit a fire in their living room. Another woman fell and two large grown sons could not lift her. Those things led to the decisions for assisted living. You wouldn’t keep a sick four year old at home because she just didn’t want to go to the doctor and if you did, you’d take a real chance of losing her. I say your husband as I know the “inlaw”ness gets in the way sometimes.

      1. Anon for This*

        Oooh this is good advice. My MIL is still operating under the assumption of being a dutiful daughter, and minding her parents. She’s almost 60.

      2. Anon for This*

        Oooh thank you for this advice. Yes, I definitely can only do exactly what they want or say/do nothing. I tried to offer some assistance a few years ago, when GMIL was going through cancer treatment, and they were offended that I dare suggest some non-family assistance with tasks of daily living. (As background, my own great-grandmother had used these services for years, because she felt that they preserved her dignity and relationships with family members.) I seriously offended them by apparently suggesting that MIL couldn’t do it all and that GMIL didn’t deserve family to take care of her. They wanted my husband to pitch in then and take time off of work to do so, but we couldn’t afford it and he didn’t want to. I was the bad guy and told them no, because he felt bad about it. We were just barely out of college and in our first career jobs, which didn’t pay much.

    4. Stellaaaaa*

      This is surely very easy for me to say, but I don’t think the person who needs help gets to have their wishes respected. The people paying for their care are the ones who get to make those decisions, especially when violence enters the picture. Just because something isn’t someone’s fault doesn’t mean they’re not responsible, and it doesn’t mean that there will never be victims.

      1. the gold digger*

        I don’t think the person who needs help gets to have their wishes respected

        Exactly. You get to do it your way when what you want requires nothing from me. The second I have to start paying for it or I have to be the one who empties your urine bottle, washes your urine-soaked clothes, or wipes your butt,* then I get a voice. I can choose to help you or I can say no. But you do not get to demand my time or money.

        * Yes, all of these happened with my husband and his dad.

        1. Anon for This*

          I totally agree! My in-laws have weird ideas about what family needs to do. My MIL had to bathe and care for her mother after she had breast cancer a few years ago … they wanted my husband to take time off of work to pitch in (!) with caregiving, and were pissed when he said no. (Then again, they also thought it reasonable to ask us for $500/month for “bills”, too …. they have no boundaries.)

          I read a lot of your blog because I know you and your husband had similar problems. Your outlook is close to mine. ;)

        2. Fiona the Lurker*

          “you do not get to demand my time or money”

          So totally, totally true! I had this same scenario with my mother, and other family members were pressuring me to look after her personally. I dug my heels in and said it was clear she needed professional help which I was not equipped to provide, so I arranged for her to go into care. She’s been there for nearly ten years now, can’t do anything for herself, doesn’t recognise visitors, and is generally helpless and non-communicative. This is not something I would *ever* have been able to deal with as my own health has been quite variable over the years, and I was not going to have my (adult) son’s life ruined by feeling he should take on the responsibility. Yes, the actual *process* of getting her into specialised accommodation was tough at the time, but I don’t think there’s a single member of the family who doesn’t agree that it was the right decision. Apart from anything else, it’s enabled us all not to resent my mother for the demands that looking after her impose; the people who are caring for her on a daily basis are professionals who have chosen the work and are paid for it at a proper rate – not family members who have sacrificed their own lives and interests for the sake of someone who is incapable of appreciating their help.

      2. Anon for This*

        I totally agree with you on this, which is why it’s so frustrating to me to deal with. My family navigated the Medicare process for my great-grandmother, but GG was honestly happy for the help because it preserved her dignity and family relationships. She liked knowing that she had caregivers to help with bathing and other tasks, because it meant that *we* didn’t have to do that for her.

        It’s tough because I’ve never really liked GMIL – she’s very religious, judgmental, and conservative, and dealing with her has always been a challenge. I tried to help with advice when she was diagnosed with cancer, and they were actually offended that I suggested visiting nurses instead of MIL having to do everything. (They wanted my husband to take vacation time to “pitch in”. With bathing his grandmother and such. We were 24. No.)

        1. OhBehave*

          I am so tired of dealing with other people’s expectations of me!

          I would guess that GMIL took care of her parents. It’s a generational expectation. Kill yourself caring for your parents! Your MIL is so young at 60 – she still has great years left. I am afraid your MIL will never do anything differently. You can bet that if she did get help in or put them in a nursing home, she would NEVER hear the end of it! And her brother is a jerk for not helping. It’s horrible that women are expected to take on their elderly parents and/or in-laws! I shake my head in wonder that they wanted your hubby to come help with grandma but didn’t ask the same of her own son!

          GMIL lunged at SIL and her baby. I would have left and never come back too. Does this mean that MIL has other children in the area? What are they doing to try and help?

          You may be a bit more inclined to help some if GMIL was a nicer person! Given the fact that you are still recovering from your illness and your husband has anxiety issues, there is no way you can do anything at this point.

          I really wish your MIL would grow a pair and tell them that yes, they are going to have someone coming twice a week to help because she needs respite! She must be praying for their passing with every sunrise.

          If you have elder care in your town, you may want to give them a call and ask about reporting someone. That is a very drastic step that I’m sure you don’t want to take, but as someone else said, maybe just mentioning this to MIL will stir something.

          Wishing you the best outcome here. Please update if anything changes. I’m sure we would all like to know what happened.

  12. Caledonia*

    Any suggestions for a city break in either the UK or Europe? Preferably without flying but might take some sort of valium type thing so I could fly. My local airport only has rubbish flights (usually to Spain and they’re expensive to boot) or ones with connections and since I dislike flying, I’m not convinced I’d get on a second plane!

    1. Elkay*

      Ignoring the obvious of London, York or Bristol are both good cities for arriving by train. You could always do Eurostar to somewhere (we went to Bruges a long time ago via Eurostar).

      1. Caledonia*

        I’ve been to Bruges recently – well, in winter 2014. My thing is, where I live everything is an epic journey (to London it’s a minimum of 7 hrs)

    2. Claire (Scotland)*

      York is a lovely little city to visit, easy to get to by train and walkable once you’re there. Lots of interesting things to see and do.

      Norwich is also a delightful little city, it’s small enough to wander and has some wonderful museums and sights to visits. I can highly recommend the Waffle House for breakfast.

      On the continent, my favourite city is Barcelona. It’s the only place other than my home city of Edinburgh I’ve ever wanted to live.

      1. JaneB*

        Seconding York as a city break – accessible from Scotland! And more walkable than other northern cities – Leeds in r Manchester if you want the big city vibe but really York has everything…

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Waffle House!!! I went to UEA for a semester a zillion years ago, and while I have never eaten at a US Waffle House (it’s a Southern chain here– and I live in the South), I have fond memories of the Waffle House in Norwich. Yes, a great little city, with a terrific market (especially on Sundays) and plenty to do (you can visit the original Colman’s mustard shop!). I’ve been back a couple of times in the last decade and we always drove to the Broads and had fish and chips in Wells-next-the-Sea– I think those little towns are accessible by bus, but I’m not sure about that. It’s a really cool part of the country.

        1. Confused Publisher*

          Another shout-out for Norwich from another UEA alumnus.
          Just a quick note: The Waffle House in Norwich is a stand-alone family-run restaurant though, and has nothing but the name in common with the US chains. (I say this as someone who got excited by seeing them on the other side of the Atlantic, before realising the difference.)

        2. LH*

          Fellow UEA alumnus here chiming in for Norwich! I went to grad school in Norwich and ended up living there for 4 years. It’s really a great little place for a weekend holiday and easy to get to by train or bus. The city centre is easy to walk around and there’s lots of great architecture. There’s the Norwich Cathedral, Royal Arcade, market, Elm Hill, Norwich Castle, Tombland, Dragon Hall and the whole riverwalk area by River Wensum. If you venture further afield, the UEA campus has some quirky 70s style architecture and a decent art museum. There are also some fun pubs in the Golden Triangle neighborhood.

          Depending on the weather, I also love Norfolk coastal towns like Cromer for authentic fish and chips and pretty Victorian seaside architecture. Holkham is a hidden gem of a beach on the Norfolk coast which is used in a number of movies, most famously the end scene of “Shakespeare in Love”.

    3. ginger ale for all*

      I have been reading a lot of Betty Neels lately and she makes it seem like taking a ferry to the Netherlands is a snap and the country according to her descriptions is fascinating and beautiful. Of course these are fictional stories from the seventies so this may not be true in today’s reality.

      1. Your Weird Uncle*

        I’ve done the ferry to the Netherlands before! It was great – they take you from the UK in an overnight journey, so you get a cabin and your full eight hours. Then your ferry ticket also includes a round-trip train pass to whatever city in the Netherlands you want to go. The way back is more direct and shorter, so you don’t get the overnight cabin. It was so easy, and pretty affordable!

        (To be fair, this was, like, five years ago so I’m not sure they still do them.)

        1. Jules the First*

          They do – I did it last year with my mum. The same company (Stena Line) also does trips to Ireland and Scandinavian destinations, which might be more accessible from Scotland.

      2. SophieChotek*

        Betty neels does make on want to go to the Netherlands…and hopefully meet a rich Dutch Doctor (who also happens to be Professor, world-reknowned specialist in some important medical field, often also a Dutch Baron, but not boastful about it), tall, distinguished, dog-lover, driving a silver Bentley; the house date back to the 17th century, and have a lovely Aga stove…

        1. ginger ale for all*

          Have you been on the fan page, the Uncrushable Jersey Dress? There is a blog and a facebook page with this group. I think the blog is more humorous with their book reviews and the facebook page is more kinder and gentler.

    4. OlympiasEpiriot*

      How are you with boats? There’s a summer car ferry from Denmark- Norway-Scotland -Faeroes-Iceland, rest of the year, I think the ferry stops in Newcastle. Also a ferry to Belfast from Stranraer.

      There might be a Zeebrug line from somewhere near Edinburgh. Rosyth? Inverkeithing? Near Queensferry, anyhow.

      Also, not very urban, but there’s Douglas on Isle of Man, accessible by ferry; or Kirkwall, Orkney.

      1. Kate in Scotland*

        Arriving late but the Rosyth-Zeebrugge ferry doesn’t run any more, which is sad because I loved the idea of “walking to the Netherlands” (Rosyth is walkable from my house). I keep meaning to do Glasgow as a city break even though I grew up nearby because they have so much new stuff in the last 20 years. Newcastle with a day in Durham? The Baltic is amazing. I see the Norwich suggestion upthread, that’s one of the few places you can fly from Aberdeen and I’ve heard it’s lovely.

  13. C Average*

    I’ve been feeling a little bit lonely and isolated and writer’s-blocked and fat and slow and sad, and I’ve known for a while now that I need something to shake me out of my rut. I’m particularly feeling this way as I prepare to send the kids back to school and to get serious about job-hunting.

    I was half-heartedly considering looking for a new church, even though I haven’t gotten a lot out of my sporadic church attendance the last few years, when I had an a-ha moment: the only part of church that I love and really miss is the singing.

    So instead, I’ve decided to join a local women’s choir. I used to sing in the church choir and really loved it. I think this will be fun!

    1. Myrin*

      Aw man, I’m so sorry about the negative feelings you’re having in the moment. I wish you all the best in overcoming those! :(

      Also, yay singing! I’m a mediocre-to-not-even-remotely-good-at-all singer, but my sister is really talented. She was in the school’s choir for years and when she was in hospital at the beginning of this year due to mental health issues, the musical therapy was the thing that helped her most, interestingly (she actually wanted to continue to attend those which the teacher was very happy about and then the weird doctor at the hospital claimed it “wouldn’t be good” for her and promptly forbid it; what even), and she’s been hoping to get some free time to join a choir again soon. I’m not really a musical person or even someone who’d say she likes music all that much but it’s amazing how much of a difference it can make in peoples life when they really love it and connect with it.

    2. Rahera*

      The choir sounds ideal. I’m sorry to hear you’re dealing with those tough and really blah feelings at the moment. I am sure the music and being part of a music community will really help. Have fun :)!

    3. fposte*

      “Singing in choir is better than sex and almost as good as fresh sweet corn.”–Garrison Keillor.

    4. TootsNYC*

      Don’t forget to add some singing around the house! I find that I am really underdosing on music at home.

    5. PollyQ*

      +10000 for the joy of singing! I rejoined my choir last fall, & I’ve loved the music & the experence of singing in a group (despite anxiety making it hard for me to get out of the house).

    6. Yetanotherjennifer*

      That’s a great idea! The joke in my denomination is that we’re all just there for the singing.

  14. Sparkly Librarian*


    Is anyone watching Stranger Things on Netflix?

    I was really looking forward to it, because I love Stephen King’s written work and the miniseries/movies that have come from his short stories. (IMO, the awesomeness of his full-length novels is lost in the screenplay translation because movies really can only be 2-3 hours long.) And many of my friends had been posting teasers about how it was making it hard for them to sleep, or that they had to check their locked doors, etc. But… I’m at the beginning of the sixth episode, and I haven’t jumped even once. Nor do I have the nagging creepy feeling (both awful and delightfully spooky) that I’m used to from scary movies. What do you think about its scariness level/other critique? What am I missing?

    1. ThatGirl*

      I watched the whole thing, I am not super easily creeped out but I didn’t find it that scary. I loved it, don’t get me wrong, but it didn’t give me that check the doors feeling.

    2. Elkay*

      I don’t think it’s a check the doors thing but I’ll be worried if the Christmas lights start flashing this year. I’m a massive wimp so will only watch anything even remotely scary during the day and after the first episode I declared it daytime viewing but I think the first few episodes are spookier than later ones.

    3. Cruciatus*

      I choose not to see horror movies, but I didn’t find Stranger Things actually scary, but I still just loved it. I loved the kids, their friendship, the rotary phones, the setting. It was “spooky” thematically but I didn’t jump out of my skin at any point. In a world full of tens, be an eleven!

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      Is it based on Stephen King? I didn’t even know that. I watched the whole thing and enjoyed it, and I hate scary movies. So I don’t think it’s supposed to be traditional horror. I viewed it as kind of a cross between Stand By Me, Aliens, and The Lost Boys.

    5. Mimmy*

      We watched it last weekend! It was definitely creepy at times, particularly in the first couple of episodes. I wouldn’t say it was particularly scary though. The kids played well off each other, great ensemble.

    6. Nancypie*

      I didn’t think I was supposed to be scared. I felt a lot of nostalgia for the movies of my youth, where kids band together independently to solve a problem and go on an adventure. Reminded me on ET. The stuff with Winona Ryder reminded me of Poltergeist. But it felt like homage, not ripoff. This was spot on entertainment for me.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      I binged the entire thing a couple of weeks ago, when a stupid cold put me down for the weekend with a headache and I couldn’t even read. I LOVED IT. I can’t wait for Season 2.

      I don’t think it’s all that scary, really. A bit creepy, but not actual horror. More suspenseful.

    8. brightstar*

      I loved it (finished it last week), but didn’t find it scary at all. I did find it suspensful in the sense I wanted to know what was going to happen.

      I really loved Dustin. That kid if the cutest kid.

  15. New girl*

    I moved in with my SO about 5 months ago. When I moved, I brought along a large box of photos that I have collected over the years. I was going through them one day with my SO and he was upset because he learned I still kept pictures of my exes. I’m talking high school and college exes so think pictures of proms and other parties.

    I don’t really understand where he’s coming from or his reasons for being upset. I haven’t had contact with any of exes since I’ve been with my SO, so over 4 years. He wants me to get rid of the photos but I see them as part of my past- events, people and memories that made me who I am today.

    Is it weird that I have these photos and don’t want to get rid of them?

    1. Annabelle Lee*

      Not weird. That was your life then. Both my spouse and I have pictures from way back with other SOs and we think nothing of it.
      I’d be curious if your SO is generally insecure or the type of person who acts as if the ex-SO, ex-friends, etc never existed. Could be a good conversation. Be open and curious.

    2. Sibley*

      You are 100% allowed to keep pictures of proms, etc. SO is being oversensitive about their existence and needs to get over it. Yes, I’m blunt and not very tactful :)

      Now, if they’re prominently displayed all over that’s a little weird.

    3. Perpetua*

      Nope, not weird at all, at least IMO. I’m right there with you on the reasoning, and photos/memories in general are very important to me, so I don’t think I’d react well to my SO asking me to do something like that.

      Does he have any insight into why he feels that way, has he said anything more about why he wants you to get rid of them?

    4. chickabiddy*

      I agree with everyone else that keeping them is fine, but displaying them would probably not be a great idea.

    5. Meemzi*

      I wonder if he thinks so differently about this that its hard to imagine another way?

      “Well, now that that relationship is over, the thing to do is to get rid of everything.”
      “Well, now that that relationship is over, the thing to do is to figure out what I want to keep.”

      Maybe he hasn’t considered that this isn’t a Thing People Do (and red flag if they don’t), but a thing people do differently.

    6. Anonymous Educator*

      You are absolutely in the right to keep those photos, and he has no right insisting you get rid of those photos. He does have a right to express his desire for you to get rid of the photos, and you should understand what insecurity leads to that desire, but you are not weird for wanting to keep those photos. You are not with those people, but that past is part of your life and how you became who you are now.

    7. The Butcher of Luverne*

      It’s not weird at all.

      Remind him that every experience you’ve had in life, every person you’ve been close to, has helped shape you into the person you are.

      He needs to respect that, as you would respect his wish not to throw away HIS old prom photos (such an innocent thing, I can’t imagine why he’s so upset, I’m sorry.)

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Remind him that they are exes for a reason. But they did shape your life and your thinking. They contributed to you being the person you are today, just as you say.
      Let him know that if he had pics of his exes that you would be okay with it.

      Some people think that a pic or momento is a way of hanging on to the ex. In order to let go you have to eliminate every remnant of them that you have in your life. Tell him that you don’t need to let go of these remnants in order to let go of the person.

      This one is a tough one, if he keeps pushing you on this point please think carefully here.

    9. Tomato Frog*

      No, it’s weird and misguided that he wants you to get rid of them. Is he this insecure about other things? Is he uncomfortable with you having male friends, for example? Or is he an otherwise well-adjusted person who just get it into his head that one is supposed to get rid of pictures of past lovers and hasn’t stopped to consider how silly that is? As mentioned above, if you had them framed on the mantel, that would be weird, but this is like asking someone to tear things out pages from your journal because they express feelings for other people. That they’re prom pictures — which EVERYONE keeps — makes it extra weird that he objects.

      Honestly, I would probably lose it if my SO (especially of four years!) made a request like this. But probably being sympathetic to his viewpoint while stating your reasons for refusing would be a healthier reaction….

    10. Gene*

      I’ve been married to wife #2 for 19 years and there’s still a collage of photos of wife #1 hanging in the hall. If his discovering that you kept pictures of exes after 4 years with you resulted in such pearl clutching, maybe you should add another ex to the collection.

    11. Stellaaaaa*

      There are two angles here.

      1) You are allowed to keep photos from things like prom.

      2) Your boyfriend doesn’t have to like that you still have pictures of your exes.

      As long as you don’t try to change each other’s minds, this isn’t an issue.

    12. Be the Change*

      Of all the things I wish I’d done differently, one of them is telling a fiance that I was not going to get rid of pictures of old boyfriends just because fiance didn’t like the thought that I’d ever had anyone else. I should have told him where he could stick his machismo insecurity. I didn’t, and when he dumped me — because I’d had previous boyfriends — that was the thing I wish I’d done: Stuck up for Who I Was. Good luck.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I met my husband when we worked at the same factory many years ago. Early in our marriage, he would have bouts of insecurity about the fact that I had dated a couple of other guys at the factory before going out with him, and he’d accost me with snarky comments about it.

        After about the third time he brought it up, I told him, “I’m not going to spend my life feeling guilty on command about this, and I don’t want to hear another word about it as long as I live!” I don’t know what he did with those feelings he may still have been having, but he never dumped them on me again.

    13. matcha123*

      I keep photos and stay in contact with the two people I used to kind of date.
      I enjoy them as friends and I enjoyed the time we spent together.
      If my current boyfriend had a problem with photos, thatd be his problem.

    14. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      I’m a “when we break up, you disappear and do not exist” person so having photos like that would weird me out. That said, if I don’t have to see them, I couldn’t find it in myself to care if my husband had pictures with his exes somewhere except in a general “ugh, we keep so much STUFF” sense. Still wouldn’t ask him to get rid of them, though, that’d strike me as being weirdly possessive. We’re still friends with someone who tried to date him before me, with zero problems ever, and I know he still has gifts from exes that were used til they were no longer useful. Also filed under No big deal.

      Like others say, this smells like an insecurity problem. If you can’t deal with the reality that there were people before you, if someone that threatens you as a person and as a partner, that’s a bigger problem than an old prom picture.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        + 1. I’m the same way (when I’m done with someone, I’m done – I don’t want to remember them, I don’t even want to acknowledge their existence, so keeping photos of them would not be a thing I’d do), but I understand a lot (most?) of people aren’t, so I wouldn’t try and make someone get rid of their mementos just because I don’t get the need to keep such things.

    15. Apollo Warbucks*

      Nope not weird at all to have kept the photos, not sure what your SOs problem is but getting rid of them is at a reasonable thing to ask of you.

    16. Lindsay J*

      Photos are fine to keep, and I would not get rid of them.

      I could see him being upset if they were prominently displayed in the house somewhere. But they’re in a box, presumably with a bunch of other photos.

      You have a past, and other people were involved in it. That’s completely normal. Once you hit a certain age most people are going to have romantic histories. And you shouldn’t (and can’t) erase that fact.

      I don’t keep many things from past relationships (mostly because most of my previous relationships were bad for me and ended badly and I didn’t want to keep around any reminders) but I have journals and blogs where I wrote extensively about them, what we did together, etc. Nobody could make me get rid of those.

    17. Kimberlee, Esq*

      Yeah, I have pics of my exes around, and I’m still friends with most of them. Either your SO trusts you or he doesn’t. You get to own whatever objects you want and associate with whoever you want (adding that because I think the fact that you haven’t had contact with your exes is immaterial and the pics aren’t any less OK to keep if you have.)

  16. NicoleK*

    So a close friend of mine is going through a mental health crisis. She’s very independent so I know something is seriously wrong when she ask to crash on my couch. This has been going on for the past 2-3 weeks but this past week was the worst. This past week alone, she slept over 4 nights. She’s also called me once in the middle of the night asking to come over. And two days ago, she called me in the evening and wanted me to go with her to the hospital.

    She says she doesn’t feel depressed. She’s not suicidal or homicidal. She feels off. She doesn’t feel safe in her own home, in her own bed (there is no physical threat in her home environment, nothing traumatic has occurred in her apartment or neighborhood). She feels that it’s a chemical imbalance. She’s also under a lot of stress (was let go from 2 jobs in the last 18 months, no job prospects on the horizon, and limited support system).

    I don’t completely understand what she’s going through. But I’m doing what I can (letting her stay over, talking to her, being supportive). I’m not her therapist and I don’t want to be her defacto therapist. She hasn’t had the best experiences with counseling and I’m not sure if she’ll seek counseling as she’ll be losing her health insurance.

    I’d like to hear from people who have helped a friend or family member through a mental health crisis. Are there things that I could be doing?

    1. Anon for this*

      I have had a mental health crisis myself and the only thing I think you can do, in my opinion, is what you are doing already: being supportive and being there. You come across as very supportive and your friend knows she can fall back on you. That is wonderful! I was not so lucky in the friend department – but luckily I had supportive family. Ideally your friend would seek a therapist/professional help, however I do feel that it is something she herself should really want. I had known for years that I really should have sought treatment, but it was only until recently that I actually did. I realise it is difficult to see your friend going through a difficult time and feeling like you can’t help them, but just being there and listening is probably more beneficial to your friend than you may think. In my personal experience: I did not want my friends to solve my problems, I just wanted them to support me, to know that they were there for me and for them to listen. It was important for me to tell my story and feel heared. I think you are a wonderful friend and wish I had one like you when I was going through my personal crisis. All the best to both you and your friend!

    2. Myrin*

      I can only speak of my (very recent as well as current, some regular readers may remember my talking about it) experience with my little sister and her mental illness. And I feel like there are basically two points I could take away from the whole situation: 1. She needs professional help. 2. She needs to want that help.

      Basically, what happened is that my sister has lived the past five years with depression, PTSD, and anxiety caused mostly (but not solely) by an abusive relationship with a rapist (the relationship ended five years ago, she hasn’t been with him five years, just to avoid misunderstandings). Her condition became worse and worse over time. My mum and I got her to talk to our GP about it who posthaste – and I mean it; he called a week after that initial conversation to tell her he got a spot for her for the very next day – sent her to the hospital. She spent three months (January to April) in the psychiatric ward of the hospital – first inpatient, then outpatient – and has made so much progress since then. She isn’t magically all healed or anything but she is so much better now. Every day is a struggle, but it’s still less of a burden now than it was before.

      But the thing that my mum and I could do was, honestly, not a lot. We gave that initial push to talk to the doctor but the rest had to come from within my sister herself. There is still things we can do – avoid talking about or doing triggering things; respect her boundaries and not judge her for what seems like irrational behaviour from the outside; be supportive and positive and praise her for things she can do now that are hard for her because of her condition; etc. – but really, there is no way we could have helped her in the way the specialists did.

      I don’t know how helpful this comment may be for you, considering that you say your friend is skeptical of counselling but I really think the bitter truth is that there isn’t much you can do in a case like this, at least not more than you’re already doing and what I mention in that last parenthesis up there; be kind and supportive, let her know she has a friend and helping hand in you. On the other hand, keep your own boundaries and don’t let her consume you – it doesn’t sound like you’re doing this but I’ve heard of so many cases where it happened and where the helper was suddenly burdened with problems that weren’t their own. Remember that she’s still a person and that her illness doesn’t define her. Be “normal” towards her, like you’d be if her issues didn’t exist.

      That’s about all I got for now. I wish you and your friend all the best!

    3. C Average*

      I’ve dealt with a couple of family members who have suffered from mental illness, and the best thing I’ve learned is that it’s possible to validate their feelings without giving credence to their irrationality. It can be a challenging needle to thread, but it’s possible.

      So in your friend’s case, the important thing is to accept that her fear and anxiety are completely authentic, even though they emerge from root causes that don’t make objective sense. So you would treat her the way you’d treat anyone who is afraid and anxious–without examining whether you agree with her reasons for being afraid and anxious. Just accept that the emotions exist and are real.

      I’ve found this way of thinking helpful because it prevents me from trying to reason with the person: “But your house is safe–see, here’s a history of crime reports for the past year, and here’s a Consumer Reports review of the kind of security system you have installed.” (It would totally be my inclination to say stuff like this, because I love logic and I am tone-deaf like that.) Instead, it encourages me to say what’s really needed: “You’re safe here. I know you’re scared. I know this is hard. I care about you. We’ll get through this together.”

    4. OhBehave*

      There is a big difference between friend and therapist. You are doing everything you can do at this point. Now comes the tough part.

      She really needs to see a counselor. It may take a few tries to find the right fit, but it will be so worth it to her. She at least needs to see her regular doc. He can help her find the right therapist as well as looking at the physical side of things. Perhaps there is something that can be diagnosed by a blood test or other testing. He may be able to prescribe an anti-anxiety medication. Drugs aren’t always the answer but they literally saved my life.

      Many communities have low cost mental health services. Her doc should be able to recommend some services to her.

      Bless you for being such a faithful and caring friend. She is so very lucky to have you in her life.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Just because I like checking the basics first. Is she safe in her own home? I am thinking of natural gas leak, radon, CO etc. I caught a family member who had a natural gas leak. The way it unfolded is that she did not feel like herself, she was off her center. She had some trouble thinking stuff through, she was depressed/lethargic. We talked about this for weeks. Finally one day it dawned on her to call the gas company. She had a very small gas leak but the effect was cumulative. Like you are saying this family member was fairly self-sufficient but down on her luck. It was really easy to point to her circumstances and forget to check things like natural gas or CO.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          It concerns me that the friend thinks something is wrong with the house but can’t identify anything in particular. This reminds me so much of my family member.

    6. Chaordic One*

      While not exactly the same thing, I have a close friend who also had some strange things happen. She kept saying that she felt like things were off, but she didn’t know exactly what. She seemed anxious and lonely and wanted to talk more than usual, so I ended up phoning her every day. I moved away to a different town across the country and have only actually seen her a couple of times in the last five years.

      Her daughter reported to me that she had become a terrible driver. I don’t think she ever got lost, but when she drove on the freeway, she got to where she was always driving very slowly and would get honked at a lot. Then, several times she claimed that she saw ghosts in her house. (It was built in the 1950s, the original owners who built the house, and whom she was friends with, only recently passed away and they didn’t match any of the descriptions of the ghosts). Anyway, the ghosts did not seem to be threatening and she wasn’t afraid of them.

      Her daughter finally took her for a complete physical and it turned out that she was diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer’s disease. It’s not a great situation, but at least her daughters know what they will have to deal with and will be able to plan ahead for her. I continue to talk with her on the phone, but only once or twice a week and sometimes I think she doesn’t always remember who I am.

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

    I posted a few weeks ago about losing my cat of 17 years, Hobbs. I still miss him dearly, he’d been sick a long time and I’m glad he’s no longer suffering. He had a long and happy life. Well, I love cats and missed having one around the house. Plus I think the best way to honor a pet that’s passed is to give a good home to one that needs it. Last Sunday we adopted an 8 year old black and white DSH female that we named Ivy. She’d been abandoned, though I can’t imagine why, she’s the sweetest and cuddliest thing. She’s settling in and while she and our dog Chewie aren’t buddies, there’s been less hissing every day. Link to a picture in the comments.

    1. Troutwaxer*

      We currently have four kittens that need homes; two black males, one orange tabby female and one orange tabby male. They’re about three months old, OK with dogs, and very healthy. If anyone is interested, my email is tungtung }at{ pacbell -dot- net.

    2. TootsNYC*

      If she’s a cuddly cat, I bet you she and Chewie end up curling up.

      I’m glad you got a cuddly one!

  18. Constable Crabtree*

    How do I tell a coworker that I’m not interested in dating him?

    He and I have chatted once or twice in the coffee room. He asked me I would like to get lunch sometime. I accepted.. Because i eat lunch. Then I realized when he texted me that he thinks this is a date. Maybe I erred somewhere in our interactions because I have no interest in dating anyone from work.. I’m not even single.

    How can I make my situation clear? My concern is that run-ins with him will be uncomfortable.

    1. chickabiddy*

      I think I would find ways to make it clear that you are not single. Hopefully he will realize that you are not interested in cheating/dating. Unless you have to, I would not focus on not wanting to date people at work or not wanting to date him specifically.

      1. Myrin*

        I feel like this is way too indirect and has the potential of making him think that if only Constable Crabtree were single, she (? guessing on pronouns here, please do correct me if I’m wrong CC!) would love to date him.

        CC, I think it would be completely fine to text him back and clear up the misunderstanding/misconception in simple words, saying that you now realise that he probably thought of this as a date-situation which is not something you’re interested in. If you are polite and friendly, run-ins might indeed become awkward but that too will pass and it certainly beats the awkwardness that would result in going on a date with someone and then finding out that the other person is taken and has absolutely no interest in me and only accepted because they thought we were going to a friendly lunch together.

        1. Constable Crabtree*

          I am a she. :)

          He texted to ask when I’m free to get together. Should I respond something like.. Hey, sorry if I gave the wrong impression, but I’m in a relationship.

          And leave it at that?? Should I address the lunch plans??

          1. Meemzi*

            Yes. “I’m so sorry! I totally misread the situation. I didn’t realize you were asking me out on a date. I’m not single. I’m still down for lunch if you are but I’d understand if not/Now I feel a bit awkward about going to lunch with you. Thanks for understanding./How awkward! Do you still want to go to lunch, or not?”

          2. Ellie H.*

            Are you 100%, totally indubitably sure he thinks it’s a date? If it were me I would make another stab at assuming it is a platonic lunch/friendship encounter before moving to “I don’t want to date you.”

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I think any discomfort will have to rest on his shoulders. I don’t know exactly what his text said (but your reply would have to be appropriate for the content of his text). Just make clear that you’re not single and wouldn’t be interested in dating co-workers anyway. Then continue to treat him as you normally would (don’t avoid him, and don’t spend extra time with him). If it’s weird after that, that’s all on him.

    3. animaniactoo*

      You gotta not be so afraid of the awkward as of being unclear and creating more awkwardness that way. Towards that, the best thing is to be direct:

      “Hi, maybe I’m completely misunderstanding your last text, but it sounded to me like you think this is a date. If that’s true, I just wanted to be clear with you that I am only interested in going to lunch as co-workers and not anything else. If I’ve misunderstood you, then I’m horribly sorry and please let’s laugh at it when we go to lunch, but I would rather be wrong than be unclear if there is a misunderstanding on either of our parts.”

      Don’t get into “not single” or “no interest in dating anyone from work”, those are things that people say to “soften the blow” (hey, I’ve done it myself), but what it tends to lead to is actually an unclear message of rejection that leaves the recipient still hoping. And really, there’s no reason to not just be “thanks but not interested” in a non-“ugh, really?” way. The thing to remember is that his reaction is really beyond your control. What’s in your control is how you deliver the message. If you can do it in a relatively straightforward but not insulting way, with an ounce of humility and compassion to take the edge of, you’re good on what you’ve done on your end, and you should feel comfortable with that.

      I wouldn’t overanalyze what you may have said in your previous interactions. The most likely answers are that A) you said something that is completely fine but interpretable as interest by somebody who is interested in you, or B) he just found you interesting and asked you on a date.

      1. Jenny F*

        There’s always bringing along a third party (Hey, Joan and I were thinking Mexican for lunch, how about we go get some Wednesday?) AND mentioning your partner! A classic.

      2. Chriama*

        If this was Reddit I would upvote you. You’re direct, clear and still give him an easy out to walk away with his pride mostly intact. And you don’t use any softening stuff like “I’m in a relationship” (which I hate for all the reasons in this article — http://www.xojane.com/relationships/stop-saying-i-have-a-boyfriend — even if it’s true, I think the world would be a better place if we all made a conscious effort not to use that as a deflector). What a great script!

        1. Mela*

          This. From what you’ve said about his texts, it sounds like a possibility that he thinks it’s a date, but definitely not for sure. IMO, announcing that you’re not wanting to date is kind of presumptuous and weird at this stage. You’re looking for clear communication and a way to preserve the working relationship. This does both elegantly and as a bonus doesn’t rely on softeners as Chriama says.

    4. Stellaaaaa*

      Don’t overthink it. Just tell him the truth, that you hadn’t thought it was a date and you’re not single anyway, and you’ll see him at work next week.

      For what it’s worth, this is why lunch dates are often recommended against: they don’t feel like dates.

    5. regina phalange*

      So, I was on the other side of this – wanted to date a coworker and he was single but not interested. He gave me a simple, “I don’t date coworkers.” A lot of people have that rule. Hopefully he gets the hint and if needed you can always drop, “my boyfriend” into a conversation if needed.

  19. Drinking problem?*

    This happened recently. I’ve never been into drinking bc of my background. I did try it a few times but didn’t like it and I’m not proud to admit it but I guess a little smug about it too,like “I don’tneed to drink to have fun”.

    I’d say I have 1-2 drinks every 6-8 months, and at work events only. But I recently did it at an event and I loved it. I liked what I drank, I loved how I felt and it was a fun night for me. It was the first time I drank as much as I did. Also, I was not drunk, I made it home safe, had no effects the next day and remember everything, so I didn’t overdo it. Everyone commented that I was tipsy and noticed I drank more than usual.

    I guess what’s bothering me now is that I really did enjoy myself and I woudn’t have if I hadn’t drank. I wasn’t shy (not a new group of ppl), I wasn’t overthinking what I said or did, or cringing at myself or just feeling paranoid and anxious like I normally do. Simply put, I liked myself more after I had had a few drinks and that kind of worries me. I also have a tendency to get addicted to things quickly and not shake them easily.

    1. Drinking problem?*

      Also, I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m making light of serious drinking problems; i guess I’m just wondering given my own emotional and anxiety issues, this has potential to snowball.

      Adding to these confused feelings is that most people I know go through their drinking heavily stage in teens and 20s…I’m well into my 30s so I feel childish for feeling this way.

      1. Miss Nomer*

        It doesn’t sound to me like you’re on the threshold of heavy drinking or anything. Many, many people drink a little bit socially. You are approaching the situation cautiously which is good. I like myself better socially when I’ve had a couple drinks, but I know I would absolutely not like myself better if I was addicted. If I feel remotely like I’ve been drinking too much, I just take a break. Maybe that would work for you?

      2. LCL*

        Well, you know yourself better than us. What you described, drinking socially and stopping when you had enough, isn’t anything to worry about. Don’t feel guilty for enjoying it, drinking is fun. The part that should worry you is that you know you have a tendency to get addicted to things.

        The big warning sign I have seen in others is day drinking. If you need a drink at lunch and then more later, you might be headed for trouble.
        Hangovers or the lack isn’t a good indication for some people. I never got hangovers when I was your age-thanks Western Europe genes. Now that I am 50, I will get a slight hangover from 1 shot of the wrong stuff.

    2. NicoleK*

      If there’s a family history of alcoholism or addiction then you should be mindful. But there’s nothing wrong with enjoying yourself every now and then.

    3. Dan*

      The actual amount of consumption doesn’t mean anything to me. I’m a big guy with a decent tolerance, so “one drink” (aka the proverbial glass of wine) means (and does) absolutely nothing for me euphorically. That is, I could have a 12 oz can of Miller lite every night. On a statistical basis, that puts me “up there” in terms of consumption. And I can hop into a car drive without any worry whatsoever.

      You should also know that many people don’t clearly distinguish between tipsy, drunk, etc.

      Being buzzed feels good, I think that’s why many non-alcoholics drink. You should start checking yourself if you start to develop a dependency on it, or you find that drinking gets in the way of other things that you need to get done, or you go to work with hangovers.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      When alcoholics first start drinking it is everything you say here. They love how they felt, they had fun, etc. But that buzz gets harder and harder to get, they stop loving how they feel, they stop having fun.
      I’m not saying you could be come a chronic drinker, because no one truly knows that.

      I heard a public service announcement in the 80s that gave me cause to pause. It said, “If you think you have a drinking problem then you probably do.” In my family, people were allowed to drink starting at age 7. So I knew what booze was. By age 20, I became uncomfortable with my consumption levels when I was out with friends. (At home I very seldom drank.) I also wondered why my friends only got together to drink. Why didn’t we do other things. Like you are saying I felt I had addiction tendencies, added to that we had real die hard drinkers in our family. I quit drinking to the point where I was down to about six drinks a year, years later, I stopped doing even that much. My friends vaporized, because we no longer had the bar scene in common and we did not do much else. I got a new group of friends who actually go and do things.

      Your last sentence is key. You liked yourself better after a few drinks. Find out what it takes to like yourself more all time AND while sober. Generally speaking, alcohol releases inhibitions. It could be that you are a worrier or it could be that you privately feel that you should do some more stretch reaches in life, challenge yourself more or something else. Look around, what can you do that would help you to like you better? What characteristics do your friends and colleagues have that you find admirable or even enviable?

      Do things where you are proud of you. Then see where drinking fits into your life.

    5. Stellaaaaa*

      Lots of people drink a little bit when they want to feel good. It’s only a problem when you NEED it to have fun. I can throw back a pitcher of mimosas on a brunch outing but then I might not drink at all for two weeks after that, and I don’t miss it. It’s good that you’re paying attention to your consumption and keeping your family history in mind but it doesn’t sound like you have a problem. Even non-addicts have one or two nights a year when they miscalculate and drink more than they realize.

    6. Ellie H.*

      One of the major reasons people drink is because it’s fun and it makes it easier to enjoy yourself and be social especially if you can have a tendency to be shy or a little self-conscious. In other words it’s a feature not a bug. What you describe doesn’t sound like a problem to me at all.

    7. TootsNYC*

      I don’t think there’s A Sudden Slide Into Alcoholism in your future.

      I’m almost exactly like you. I drink so very seldom, and I’ve always given a side-eye to getting very drunk. And then I find myself realizing that I’m relaxing and having more fun on my 2nd glass of wine.

      One nice thing about being a lightweight (I am too) is that when you DO drink, you don’t need that much to get that “loosening up” affect.

      Alcohol is a drug. And in very mild doses, its effects can be beneficial.

      I think your natural wariness will work really well for you. And also, if you’re like me, being a lightweight means that the 3rd drink (and sometimes the last half of the 2nd) makes me unsteady on my feet. Which I do NOT like, so I stop right there.

      You are approaching your “drug” dosage in a thinking, open-eyed way. I don’t think you need to worry.

    8. Sofa*

      What you described sounds normal, but it’s good to be self aware and concerned about drinking. Setting boundaries around it can be helpful. Think about how much and at what pace you’re comfortable drinking, and what things you don’t want to do while under the influence. Some are obvious (driving). Others are more of an individual choice, like buying things or getting affectionate with people.

      The liking yourself better thing is an effect of alcohol. Alcohol makes most people feel this way; you aren’t necessarily more likeable. Try filming or recording yourself when you’re intoxicated and then watch it when sober. I know that might sound far fetched, but it’ll give you a more realistic idea of how alcohol affects you.

      As you probably know, the danger with alcohol isn’t just that it can be habit-forming and detrimental to your health; it’s the impact on your judgment. Don’t make any major decisions or do things that are dangerous after drinking.

      I’m saying this because it sounds like you don’t have a lot of experience with it.

      Be safe and have fun!

    9. Temperance*

      I really don’t think that you have a drinking problem. What you are told over and over, as a teen, is that drinking isn’t fun, and only uncool people “need” to drink to have fun. So when you do drink, and it is fun, you might doubt yourself.

      Two weeks ago, I had a few and then sang karaoke. I’m tone-deaf. I don’t DO karaoke. Yet, I did, and had a blast, and no one threw tomatoes at me. I like drinking, though, and have a few each week.

    10. Kate Donovan*

      I’m similar!
      (Didn’t think I enjoyed alcohol, spontaneously and safely had it, found it changed a tense party time into a relaxed, fun party time)

      For me, as I also worry about getting to attached to it, I keep an eye on how much I drink when it’s a situation where social drinking is making me enjoy a party, and *also* increase the ‘not anxious-making social situations’ quota in my life, so I have times where I’m having lots of fun without alcohol. So, I can have the nice things from alcohol in social situations without my brain accidentally getting too attached to the idea of it being necessary.

    11. Drinking problem?*

      Thank you everyone for the comments and reassurance here, I feel better now.

      One clarification–by family background I meant that my family is religious and super conservative,so growing up alcohol was seen as a bad thing, which is why I never got into it (despite other indulgences). While I’m not strictly religious or conservative, it’snot something I want to makea habit of.

      One more thing, so I said I had an awesome night, but I think I got weird with someone, they were very frindly and nice to me but I’m not sure if she remembers bc I didn’t see her the next day, but I’m wondering if I should speak to her on Monday and apologize for anything? (if it matters,it wasa coworker)

      1. Sofa*

        I would let go. People get a little weird while drinking all the time. If she doesn’t seem to remember and she’s not acting any differently around you, then it’s probably not a big deal.

      2. Clever Name*

        Dude, I said I was the smartest person I know one time when I was when I was drunk. My friends still (deservedly) tease me about it. I laugh. Unless you said something truly hurtful and awful, I wouldn’t worry about saying anything.

    12. Sibley*

      Well, I DO have a very clear family drinking problem. So I keep my drinking under strict controls, because while I don’t have a problem now, I can clearly see how I could develop a problem.

      1. I do not drink alone, ever.
      2. I have 1 drink if out. If home, I may have 2 drinks.
      3. If I’m driving, I may not drink.
      4. On RARE occasions, I may decide before an event that I am permitted to drink more, and how much. I’ve done this twice – the first time was a family wedding, and I wanted to get it through their thick heads that I was an adult, so I got dead drunk at the reception. (It worked, they accepted me as an adult after that.) The second time was my 10 year high school reunion, I didn’t get as drunk as the wedding, but I definitely relaxed and had a better time than I would have otherwise.

      As a result, I basically don’t drink, and I’m fine with it.

  20. anonymasaurus maximus*

    Alright, so I’m anon for this because I don’t know how to talk about this without sound like a complete jerk. Over the past year, I keep getting slapped in the face with the fact that I am in fact smarter than average. I consider myself to be a fairly intelligent person, I know I have abnormally high test score histories on some things, but I can’t tell if I’m sort of deluding myself about how smart I actually am as I don’t know – maybe there’s a mass misreading of how smart average really is?

    I know I’ve never lived up to my potential. I’m pretty happy in my career that does not focus on my brainpower (but, yes, is bolstered by it). I know that everybody at work jokes about my vocabulary level and general knowledge, and trivia facts, etc., but that also gets passed off as I read a lot. Which everyone knows. Yeah, but I read a smattering of murder mysteries, a lot of sci-fi/fantasy, and a lot of romance – including the really junky serial romances. Not much else, and I always feel like I should be reading some of the smart interesting books (like the ones that get tossed around here) because well.. I should be, right? I used to read the newspaper regularly and stopped several years ago for what was supposed to be a mental break because I couldn’t take the relentless inundation of depressing things happening on local, national, and international levels. I never went back, although I did previously take such breaks and go back. Maybe because with FB, etc. I tend to at least get an assortment of current/important/relevant that way?

    I didn’t graduate college because I wasn’t really prepared for it from a maturity and responsibility standpoint. Odd in some ways because I have a relatively high level of responsibility at work and have always demonstrated a pretty solid work ethic. As a comparison, baseline IQ scores from several years ago, I test higher than my sister and she graduated one of the Ivies with a double bachelors in four years (biology/math), and almost picked up a minor in computer science to go along with it.

    When I look at the world, I don’t necessarily think that IQ scores count for as much as common sense and street smarts. I think I’ve fallen into some reverse snobbery there by never applying for Mensa membership despite having known since high school (~25 years ago) that I qualify for it (on the low end of the range). Um. Because from what I knew, I considered them snobby and didn’t want to be part of it. I didn’t go to the super-brainy high school that I got into because I knew enough about myself to know that the competitive atmosphere and perspective of it would be bad for me. Part of the smack in the face was learning last year exactly how few people who apply get in (+/-3%). Recently I came across a Mensa statistic that said only 2% of the population has IQ scores high enough to eligible for membership (I checked, I still qualify).

    Yesterday, one of my co-workers made a comment to me about something making sense to me because of “what goes on in that supersmart brain of yours”, but that the people I wanted to understand it wouldn’t get it the way I was trying to explain it. She doesn’t know my IQ score, or about eligibility for the high school or Mensa, so she’s only speaking from direct experience.

    I consider most people who post here to be pretty smart, but not in a way that I would necessarily say is “above average intelligence” – just I don’t know? Smart in different particular ways? Which is, I guess, how I view most people. Including some I know who would consider the conversations that go on here boring. Either because it’s a lot of reading or because they’re not interested in the subject matter. I do know people (rarely) that I consider dumber than a box of rocks, but that’s what feels abnormal to me vs most people being fairly smart.

    I guess my question is – is it more likely that I am really underselling myself in my own perspective of myself, or that there is a general lack of perspective about what is actually considered “intelligent”/”smart” that goes way beyond test scores?

    1. anonymasaurus maximus*

      Also, I suppose, why I am so uncomfortable with the idea of being in the top 2% of intelligence level, and yet I admire people who are smart and not afraid to be so. As long as they’re not being egotistical jerks to go along with it.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I also don’t understand. I can’t rightly ascertain that you are in the top 2%, but if you are, good for you—no reason to be uncomfortable about it. You are what you are.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I’m not sure I get what the problem is. If you’re as smart (book smart? test score smart?) as you say you are, good for you, and that means you do have a great vocabulary and are well-read, and you said it helps you in your job. Are you saying it’s causing a problem for you somehow?

      1. anonymasaurus maximus*

        I would say that potentially it’s a problem in not pushing myself to do more with my life, on the other hand, I’m relatively happy with my life – although along with most of the rest of the world, I could use a little more income.

        Potentially it’s a problem in what I expect others to be capable of doing, although I think I rarely misestimate that.

        Or, potentially it’s something I want to be able to talk about in the way that we as a society in general approach the idea of what “smart” is and means. What do critical thinking skills count for? Is there really a limit of what you can learn in terms of critical thinking skills? What does emotional intelligence count for? What do street smarts and practicality count for vs a stereotypical image of an absentminded professor? Are the tests that are being done composed and given testing for the right things? Are there pieces here that make people smart in interactions and situations that aren’t necessarily measurable on any kind of a test?

        1. Dan*

          There becomes a point where if you have more income, you could use less stress or want more free time, so there’s that. FWIW, income has less to do with smarts and more to do with economics. My guess is that there is little correlation between the 2% ers on the IQ test, and the 2% ers income wise.

          Smart means different things in different contexts. I work with someone who is academically similar to your sister, but is insanely difficult to get productive work out of. Aloof could be one word to describe him. TBH, I’d put him on a PIP if I were in charge.

          Have you thought about talking things out with a shrink? The world is a messy place, and there are few clear answers in many situations.

          1. Apollo Warbucks*

            + 1 to

            Smart means different things in different contexts.

            My sister had a PhD but literally set Fire to the kitchen trying to boil an egg.

      1. C Average*


        I mean, I guess it’s cool that you’ve got the high IQ merit badge, but what are you gonna DO with that brain? That’s the really important thing.

        I’m smart on paper, too, and I even read all of the right books, but my accomplishments are pretty run-of-the-mill. Welcome to the club. Members are legion.

        (I have a couple of people in my life I consider both brilliant and accomplished. Their intellect amazes me, but it’s their drive that really sets them apart.)

        1. Ice Bear*

          I can relate to your comment. I’ve always been told I’m smart (not Mensa level, although I never checked) but I did have honors classes in high school, high test scores, and was an Illinois State Scholar, but I dropped out of college because I hated it. I’ve always done well at my jobs but they aren’t anything special. I lack the drive and ambition so I struggle with feeling like I’m not living up to my potential. I often wonder if my anxiety and depression have gotten in the way of doing big things. :(

        2. anonymasaurus maximus*

          lol, I guess that’s a large chunk of it. I feel like it’s a merit badge that doesn’t really necessarily count for much? So just having it makes me uncomfortable. Something to unravel there…

          I suspect there’s also a certain part of purposely underselling so that I do not go where my sister has sometimes gone in being so sure of her facts that she argues with somebody who is actually an expert in the subject and she’s just wrong, but is so used to being right (because she usually is), that she doesn’t back down. It’s pretty obnoxious when it happens.

          1. nep*

            Seems to me underselling is not the only other way one could go there.
            The most intelligent people know and own how very little they [can] know.

            1. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

              Agreed. I’ve worked with some amazingly smart people but the best ones are the ones who recognize their wheelhouses and are totally upfront about not knowing what they don’t know. They don’t make a big deal out of it, they just ask someone who is a subject matter expert to fill in their blanks.

        3. Yetanotherjennifer*

          Drive is absolutely key. I’m pretty smart and well educated but I am not a driven person. I’m a born follower and I tend to flow through life. I have heard the “you’re not living up to potential” message for years. It seems to me that it is often an outside message; that others are doing the measuring or providing the scale when the only measurement that matters is your own. If you feel you should be doing more with your brain and your potential, then look for ways to do more on your own terms.

    3. NicoleK*

      Like other commenters have said, I don’t quite understand what the problem is. You’re really, really intelligent, know you’re way more intelligent than almost all of the people around you, but you feel that you haven’t lived up to your potential? If you’re that super intelligent, then what’s stopping you from reaching your full potential?

      1. anonymasaurus maximus*

        I don’t actually think I’m (way) more intelligent than most of the people around me. These theoretically objective evaluations say that I am, so I suppose that’s the other piece of it. Imposter syndrome?

        My childhood was definitely what can only be described as chaotic, and I think achieving a level of relative normalcy has been the greater priority for me. OOOh. As I say that – I think there’s a piece of that, and it’s why I am so uncomfortable with being praised or receiving compliments too. Battling being seen as odd/wrong/abnormal in a negative way stands in the way of being seen so in a positive way. Much to think on there. Not that I may make many changes since I am relatively with my life as it is, but there are pieces that I could work on to help myself out on the financial and general relationship fronts.

        Thank you very much, your framing here really helped me look at this in a new way.

        1. C Average*

          I don’t know if this will help or not, but I’ll ramble a bit about my own experiences. Maybe something will resonate.

          Throughout my childhood I did really well on standardized tests and was deemed gifted at various things by teachers and other grownups in my life, and it was always framed as something really special and cool. I assumed that it would take me far in life, but my concept of going far in life was really vague. I think I figured I’d be successful, I’d have an interesting job, I’d do important things, I’d make good money, people would value my insights, and (because all my alleged gifts were clustered in the verbal area) maybe I’d even write the great American novel.

          I’ve come to believe that having a high IQ/powerful intellect is kind of like owning a really fancy car. It looks cool, and people see it and make certain assumptions about your income and quality of life, but the truth is it’s just . . . a car. You still have to obey the rules of the road. Your commute is still a drag. You still have to go to the DMV and renew your license just like all the other schlubs. It’s really not that amazing, except on those rare occasions when you take your fancy car on some deserted country road and drive it really fast and feel the wind in your hair and listen to the engine purr and think, “God, I love this car.”

          Likewise, if you’re really smart, you still have to work hard, you still have to be nice, you still have to be conscientious, you still have to pay attention to etiquette and norms, you still have to put on your pants one leg at a time, your shit still stinks, etc. But once in a while, you encounter a project or task that lines up JUST SO with your particular intellectual gifts and it is the best thing. For a fleeting period of time, you feel like you’re finally living up to the potential all your teachers always accused you of not living up to. It’s exhilarating. (And in my experience, it’s often something super dorky and specialized. I once had to edit a bunch of technical documentation for a product launch under really tight deadlines, and it should have sucked by any objective measure, but it was awesome. I literally didn’t think about anything else while I was working on that project.)

          I hope you find a good stretch of open road to rev your mental engine on. It’s really fun.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            OMG. LOVE THIS!

            There’s smarts and then there is what you value.

            My husband was a geek’s geek. He was the guy the geeks went to when they were stuck. He would read books and be able to give you back entire paragraphs verbatim. His friends said he should be working at NASA. Anything he touched he was the golden child. He just had a huge capacity to absorb endless information. He once met a man who had worked on peace time uses for nuclear energy after the Cold War. This man was famous. My husband did not think twice, he wanted to sit down and talk with this dude at length about his work.

            My husband did not value a prestigious job with a fat paycheck. He did not want to be involved with anything that could cost people their lives. Added to these job requirements he had to do work that was ethically and morally correct. (He was not anal about ethics or morality, but he had to look at the big picture of what the company was doing on a vast scale. ) You can see his choices getting narrower and narrower here. He opted for a much simpler life than what his intelligence would have lead him to, if he had chosen to follow his intellectual abilities. He lived in alignment with what he actually valued.

            If I had to guess, I would say that most people do not use their intellectual ability to its fullest when it comes to their line of work. Some people step back from management positions. Some people work in factories when they should be sitting at a desk designing the very machines they are running. If you think you are not using your mind to its fullest capacity you have the company of most of us with you. Just my opinion, but most of the human race is not living up to their fullest potential. I include myself in that heap.

          2. NoTurnover*

            C Average, this is one of the best descriptions of what being “gifted” feels like that I’ve ever read. Very nice!

          3. Elizabeth West*

            I love this too. I thought I had that with my job, but it turns out I don’t–at least, not any more. I’m being forced to drive the rickety beater and constantly fear a breakdown. So I guess I’ll have to find a different road.

            1. Lindsay J*

              I’ll also add that you have to have the desire to take it out on the open road and rev the engine up, otherwise it works just like any other car in traffic on your daily commute.

              If you don’t want to do so, and just want to drive your daily commute in stop and go traffic in a shiny car that’s cool, too; it’s your car and you decide what you want to do with it. Some people will say it’s a waste to have that car and not speed down the open road it in, but that’s just their feelings and those have nothing to do with you.

    4. so anonynous for this*

      It seems to me you are too worried about what others might think if they found out how smart (according to the tests) you are. Live your life the way you want to. And could we get rid of “living up to your potential”. Who gets to decide what my potential is? If you score off the charts are you supposed to find a cure for cancer, become President of the US, run a big corporation, discover a new planet? What if none of that interests you; do you have to do it any way because you have to live up to your potential?

    5. BRR*

      I’m going to echo other with not sure what your question is. I completely agree with you that “being smart” is much more than test scores. Honestly it just sounds like you’re over thinking it. If it’s that you should be doing more, the most important thing is that you’re happy.

    6. Tennessee*

      You are right, there is a general lack of perspective about what smart really is. It’s not just a test score, it’s the ability to think, the ability to apply the thought to the problem, and the perseverance to see it through. And even those people I know that aren’t very book smart almost always have something that they are smart in, like being able to relate to others (which I really struggle with). You seem to have the ability to think, apply the thought and follow-through (base on what you say about your work). Maybe you are underselling yourself, but only by underselling how important it is be smart in real life, bringing intelligence to your workplace and life and by using that intelligence to make everyone else’s lives a little better as often as possible.

      Ok, I got a little rant-y there, but this is a topic that I’ve struggled with as well. Two quotes that have always helped me. “There is no greater burden than great potential.”― Charles M. Schulz (forgive yourself for not living up to some idealized view of what you should do) and “There is only one success…to be able to spend your life in your own way.” Christopher Morley (if it makes you happy to be ditch digger, be a ditch digger with a great vocabulary)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        More good stuff here.

        My father took an IQ test for WWII, when he signed up for the army. He blew the test out of the water. I remember in the 60s asking him what he thought of the IQ test. Remember, this is the 1960s. He said, “IQ tests measure an aspect of intelligence they do not measure all of intelligence.” (Miss my dad, he was a thinker ahead of his times.)

        So now we know there is a thing called emotional intelligence. People here have offered up street smarts, yet another form of intelligence. I have heard the expression, “people smarts”. I sometimes wonder if animal intuitives are just people who are extremely “animal smart”. But the list of ways of being smart is endless.

    7. Overeducated*

      I think outside of school, “smart” becomes way less important on its own because it’s basically capacity/potential, and much more valuable as part of a more complex, less measurable package of skills, personality, and persistent hard work that leads to accomplishment. (For instance, there’s a cliche in grad school that it’s not the smart ones who finish the PhD, it’s the stubbor ones – I think it’s true, take from that what you will about the relative intelligence of people with and without PhDs….)

      I’m at the point of feeling like intelligence is less valuable to me professionally than say, people skills and project management. But that’s because I am fairly confident in my intelligence and not as much in the other areas. You sound maybe a little insecure, like you want to be able to own and feel good about your smarts, but don’t think you have the right external markers. So? Own it in your own head, and if there are things that would make you feel more confident, think about how to accomplish them.

      I think it’s not egotistical or snobby to recognize your own intelligence as a personal quality, just like if you were really athletic or had perfect pitch, but the reason it’s not egotistical is that none of those qualities make someone better than others. They are just qualities that are unevenly distributed across the population. I would probably trade a few iq points for perfect pitch, but there are other qualities I don’t value as much.

      1. C Average*

        I’ve often thought that many of the trappings of “smart” that are advantages in school are actually disadvantages in the real world.

        In school, you really are focused on pleasing the teacher, and there’s very little serious down side to being a know-it-all teacher’s pet. A lot of teachers also like to have an intelligent contrarian in class, because it spurs good discussions, so you tend to get a lot of “that’s a good question!” feedback when you make a rather obscure but well-thought-out point.

        None of these things, alas, are true in the parts of the real world that I have explored. In an even somewhat political workplace, there are very few people as unpopular as the know-it-all suck-up or the asker of offbeat questions.

    8. Stellaaaaa*

      I kinda know what you mean. If you’re smart enough that people can tell just talking to you that you’re smart, it can be weird if you’re working a mid-level marketing job instead of making a killing as a high-powered attorney. You don’t need to justify your decisions though, as long as you’re content.

      I’m in a similar position and here’s why I’m not bothered: I have that mid-level marketing job. I make $35k a year to work from home 4 days a week. I only go to the office on Tuesdays. I feel like I made the smart decision. I’m never stressed out, I don’t have the burden of being in charge, and I’m one of the few people I know who can genuinely say that they enjoy their job. Besides, there are worse things than people thinking you’re smart. Let them!

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Okay, I have a few things here to toss out:

      Average smarts. I believe we are more intelligent that experts would have us think. So people with average IQs, in my opinion, are actually very smart people. Because in my mind everyone slides UP the IQ scale. I believe that IQ can fluctuate. I believe that what we eat and the scripts we take influence our IQ. I also believe that our emotions impact our IQ. But that is just me and my beliefs. So yes, I believe there is a misreading of what average intelligence actually is.

      Reading junk. It’s an addiction, I swear. If I read something that does not demand anything of me, such as THINKING, I keep wanting to read more of the mindless stuff. It is a way of vanishing, of escaping our world that we have. And this dovetails well with news avoidance. Avoiding the news entirely is a way to escape it. LOL. Who actually wants to read about what is going on now anyway! It’s pretty wild out there. I think the solution there is to look at the news for a short bit on a regular basis. For example, you should know if there is a tornado or flood coming your way. And you should know if there is a prison convict loose in your area. You should know enough to keep yourself safe. If you read so much news you cannot function, then you must dial it back, of course. The second half of the solution is to read on something that enriches your knowledge. I have gone though spells of reading biographies, sometimes I read about nature- animals/plants, sometimes my reading is practical such as how to train the untrainable dog.

      Smack in the face. I see you use that phrase a couple times. I am not sure why compliments are a smack in the face. I am not sure about that whole Mensa thing. Are you a rebel? My husband was. He would say Mensa could go scratch, it was worthless to him. This is a guy who could tell you how a nuclear power plant worked. Anything that smelled the least bit elitist totally repelled him. I tend to be the same way. If you think you might be a rebel at heart, the thing to watch there is not to rebel for the sake of rebellion. Harness your rebellious tendencies and use them to seek fairness and justice. This means asking yourself, “Am I saying NO here just because I can or because I have a greater good that I am seeking?”

      Boredom. I know some very smart people who would never read here. I guess it is like me reading a sports article. Sports articles are not for me. Discussing work issues is just not for some people. Just because a person is smart does not make them immune to boredom.

      We ALL undersell ourselves in the way we think of ourselves. And we need to do that to some degree. No one likes a self-absorbed egotist. NO ONE! We all appreciate seeing humility in others and people like it when we act in humbleness, too.
      If you feel you have undersold yourself AND it is hurting you then that is a problem that you need to address. If you feel you have undersold yourself and you are content* in life then you have no problem.
      *Contentment. I feel that being content is higher than being happy. Happiness is fleeting, some one gives you a birthday present, you become happy. But that happiness of the moment fades and what is left? Hopefully, what is left is that you are content.

      You know, sometimes when we master something we feel lost. This is ironic, because dang! we mastered this Thing and we should feel good. What’s up? Goals. Once we master/achieve something, we need a new goal to target. Goals are like water and food, we have to have them for our survival.
      Intelligence is not a destination or a goal. It is an on-going resource or asset. Just because you arrived at high IQ scores does not make your life complete. No more so than with a good looking man or woman, just because they are good looking does not mean their lives are complete. Good looks can be an asset to some people, (especially in a society that places high value on good looks). Again, it’s not a destination or a goal, it’s just an asset in life.

      Many assets are necessary to get through life. I can tell you first hand, when my husband passed, money was meaningless to me. It was my friends and church that kept me together. You can’t buy that. But I did need money for other things, like shelter and food. So intelligence is an asset, but so are friends, money/income, homes, family, etc.

      Here’s the big question: Are you where you want to be in life? If yes, good. If no, what will it take to get there?

      1. C Average*

        I am fascinated by “junk” literature, especially fiction and stuff from the psychology/sociology section. I eat the stuff up even though I know it’s mostly crap. But on occasion I’ll encounter an example of the genre that’s so well-constructed that I feel like it represents some kind of platonic ideal of the genre, and I want to examine it and figure out how it works. It’s sort of like trying to figure out what ingredients they put in Oreos to make them so damned addictive.

        A well-constructed pulp thriller, for example, really is an artistic achievement, even though I wouldn’t exactly call it edifying.

    10. Jules the First*

      So first thing that comes across is that you are kind of hung up on IQ. An IQ score is not a badge of honour, it’s simply the way we measure brainpower. I mean, you wouldn’t be this hung up on the subject if the number in question was your visual acuity, or your blood pressure, or your resting heart rate, right?

      Being in the top 2% means that your brain functions differently that other people’s. Not better, differently. The early neurological research suggests that your growing brain pruned its synaptic connections differently than the typical human, making it easier and faster for you to make certain kinds of connections. Your brain is also very good at making new connections, which means you pick up new skills more quickly than the typical human. Once again, this does not make you objectively better, just different.

      Second point: the purpose of life is to be happy and to make others happy. You are under no obligations to “realise your potential” or “use your gifts” to transform the world. Your only obligation is to live your life with grace and joy, and to do your best to bring that out in others. Notice that intelligence or IQ (or a college education) features nowhere in this.

      Third: from what you describe, others have been throwing your intelligence in your face. Part of that is because you’ve shown them that this is something that is meaningful to you, so if you can make it less meaningful, the subject will come up less often. Part of it is also that you think differently than your coworkers, which means that you need to learn how to relate to them in ways that they can appreciate (note that this is no different than me telling my left handed sister that she needs to learn how to adapt herself to a right handed world rather than giving up in frustration when she can’t be instantly provided with left handed scissors), so when someone says ‘that makes sense to you because you’re a genius, and it won’t work as an explanation for normal people’, they are telling you that they aren’t sure they understood your explanation, which is a cue for you to ask for help refining that explanation until it does work.

      IQ, like age, bust size, weight, height, and all sorts of other measurements, is just one way of describing ourselves to the world. (And yes, speaking from experience, Mensa is full of people who are hung up on the prestige of being, intellectually, really tall and naturally skinny).

      You might find it useful to do a couple of sessions with a therapist to work on how you present yourself to others (I know I did), but you might also just choose to let it go and move on.

    11. themmases*

      Intelligence is no single thing, and I think you’ll be happier if you find a way to let it go.

      You’re right that there are different types of intelligence. But even straightforward, academic intelligence is not a single trait– it’s more like a cluster of aptitudes and tendencies that not only make a person good at certain tasks, but fit with others’ stereotype of what a smart person is like. For example, even an otherwise brilliant person won’t “sound smart” if they are bad at expressing themselves verbally. IQ tests and standardized tests come with the same cultural baggage and inevitably measure what you’ve learned and have practice thinking about– not some pure, underlying ability if there even is such a thing.

      Even measurable intelligence is nothing to be proud of. It’s like being beautiful or athletically gifted: a mix of genetic traits aligned well for you and were further developed or at least not damaged by your upbringing. You and your mom got enough to eat when it counted; you weren’t dropped on your head or exposed to lead; you were educated enough to start exploring the world and things you want to think about for yourself.

      I get where you are coming from: it feels weird to confront the fact that maybe you have this really great, desirable trait. You don’t want to be vain and hung up on it, but on the other hand tests and Mensa seem to provide some objective evidence that you aren’t being vain and exaggerating your own abilities. But you can’t earn being smart, it’s not a real accomplishment, it’s not exhaustive of human mental abilities, and having it is as reflective of social inequities as of anything about “you”. So let it go!

      If you want to know yourself, do as you would with anyone else: look at what you do. You don’t have to value intelligence just because everyone else does; how do your actions match up with your other values? Have you succeeded lately at doing something *you* wanted to do? Have you made another person healthier or safer or just brightened their day? You will find so much more happiness and self knowledge by focusing on what you do instead of what you are.

    12. Sofa*

      I have sort of the opposite problem. People remark about me being smart but encourage me to be less so. I would really like to put my intellect to good use, but even with an advanced degree, I’m chronically under-employed.

      I had a fairly good job for a while, but I wasn’t allowed to use my skills and was told not to learn new skills. After a few jobs like this, I gave up and went back to low wage, mindless jobs so that I could put my energy into projects outside of work.

      What could be the issue? Why are some people supposed to “live up to their potential” while others are supposed to do the opposite?

    13. Forager*

      How can you tell how smart people are based on their posts here? These are short writing samples. That’s a very unreliable way to measure intelligence.

    14. Temperance*

      I’m coming at this from the point of view of someone who had an IEP in elementary/high school because I was gifted. I would actually argue that most people who participate here are likely above average intelligence. Read the comments here and then on people.com or your local news site. and you’ll likely agree.

      I have the problem where I think everyone has my abilities. If I want to learn about something, I read about it obsessively, doing lots of research. I’m good at learning languages. I get frustrated with other people when they don’t retain information like I do. My husband often has to remind me that I’m smarter than the average person, so it’s not reasonable for me to expect them to perform like I do.

      I’m also in the minority in that I grew up poor, in a trailer park, and still have a high IQ and good academic achievement. I was this weird and brainy in school, when no one else was, and I’m smarter than most of my family. The only exception is my brother, who is a math wizard, although I have a higher IQ.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        I have the problem where I think everyone has my abilities.

        I have a similar problem in that I just assume people know the same things that I know. Not because I think I’m all kinds of awesome but more because I kind of feel that if I know it, it can’t be all that amazing. It’s lead to more than one uncomfortable situation where I’ve been talking with someone and I say “you know, like when X happened at Y back in Z(date)” and they look at me like I have three heads. I’m mortified because I just assumed that *everyone* knew whatever it was. I never know what to say when that happens and it usually happens when I’m not expecting it, so I’m also too much in shock to recover gracefully.

    15. Lindsay J*

      I’m a lot like you. I qualify for Mensa in a few different ways. I got a perfect score on the verbal portion of my SATs. I don’t think I’ve ever taken a test that I didn’t score in the 99% in.

      Coming out of middle school I had the option of going to a super-preppy private school, or going to the local high school and saving money the money for college (tuition at the high school was like $17k per year). I went to the local high school. Then I went to a state school for college because I was so in love with my stupid boyfriend at the time and wanted to go to the same school as him. I was hit with depression pretty hard then, and dropped out.

      I currently work doing compliance work. A 4th grader could probably do my job serviceably. Being smart has certainly made me better at it, but is definitely not a requirement.

      I understand anything someone explains to me pretty much intuitively.

      I’ll tell you two things I’ve figured out.

      First, you’re not obligated to be smart for anyone or anything. I am sure there are plenty of better things I could be doing with my intelligence. I am sure I could go back to school and get my degree in pretty much anything I wanted. There’s nothing with my intelligence I feel a burning desire to do. I don’t read “smart” books. I read the news but it’s more HuffPo and the Houston Chronicle and less the Economist or whatever. The most I do with my intelligence is play pub trivia with my boyfriend and feel smug about the two of us beating teams of like 10 people. I’ve got two aunts that graduated from Ivy League schools. One is a stay-at-home mother, the other is an advocate for her son with autism. Not doing anything exceptional is a valid choice, just like a tall person choosing not to play basketball or a short person choosing not to be a jockey is a valid choice. Similarly, you’re not obligated to dumb yourself down for anyone. In previous relationships I would play dumb in order to not make them feel threatened. Same with bosses, etc.

      Second, all the brains in the world really count for jack shit in life unless you have other talents to put with them. If you’re smart, but act like a know-it-all all the time, nobody is going to want to be around you. If you’re smart, but can’t read people and understand office politics, you’re never going to get the chance to prove that you’re smart. If you’re smart but not creative then you can’t develop anything that is yours and will always be using your brain for someone else’s benefit. If you’re smart but have no common sense (my parent’s favorite criticism of me) you wind up doing stupid things that get you into trouble. If you’re smart but disorganized you wind up with bills in collections because you forget to pay them.

      I often feel like as far as getting ahead in the world it’s better to be pleasant to be around, able to read people, and diligent but of average or slightly below average intelligence than to be smart but lazy and/or unpleasant to be around.

      There are certainly places where pure smarts are needed, but do you have the desire to do them? My boyfriend’s dad is a physicist who taught at Yale, worked for NASA, built his own experimental aircraft, and a bunch of other cool stuff. That path would not be an option for a lot of people. I could do those things, but don’t really have the desire to.

      There’s a concept out there about multiple intelligence, which I definitely believe is true. I am definitely book smart and my strongest skill under the multiple intelligence theory would be verbal-linguistic. However, I am absolutely not blessed in the musical – rhythmic and harmonic area. I can try my hardest at that and scrape my way up to acceptable. But that’s about where I top out, while there are people out there who are at acceptable without really trying and hit mindblowingly amazing if they put in as much effort as I did. I believe most (all?) people have value in some way, whether it be book smarts, or being able to really empathize with people, or paint gorgeous paintings, or whatever, and that book smarts aren’t any more valuable than any of those other talents.

      I don’t know. I’m kind of rambling at this point. But I feel like I addressed your point? You can be comfortable in being in the top 2% of intelligence because it doesn’t mean jack shit if you don’t want it to, basically.

      1. C Average*

        “Not doing anything exceptional is a valid choice, just like a tall person choosing not to play basketball or a short person choosing not to be a jockey is a valid choice.”

        This is really well said.

    16. anonymasaurus maximus*

      I wanted to say thank you to everybody who responded and I really appreciate that you guys took this seriously and dug into the different aspects of it.

      It’s interesting to me because I’ve always defended that having a certain level of brains doesn’t mean you owe the world anything. You do what you want to do and enjoy doing. Also that IQ is far from everything – the drive to do anything it and the acknowledgement that other kinds of smarts are out there and equally of value (sometimes more).

      I suppose to some extent I got away from that recently because I really don’t think of myself as being *exceptionally* smart, so having this objective evaluation keep popping up was basically startling in terms of my view of myself.

      Fwiw, I do get to have my areas where I cruise and drive free, and they are pretty fun – some of them are at work, but most are at home. I think that I will simply start owning it more when it comes up at work. I think that it’s actually the not owning it which is in some instances creating more social awkwardness. Just to clarify one thing – dissecting things down into what can be understood by everybody is actually one of my skills, and one of the things I’m valued for. When my coworker made the comment, she was talking about how she and I both see something, but that it will be difficult to explain to somebody we have a working relationship with outside of the company. There was actually a miscommunication happening and I had already prepped it the way she thought would make it the most clear.

      For the person who asked how it’s possible to evaluate people here given that posts here are small writing samples – yes, they are. But they’re regular exercises in critical thinking and logic and demonstrations of what people bring in those areas. Even when I disagree with someone’s approach, I can almost always see the logic of what’s driving their perspective, and they’re pretty good about knowing how to get their point across. Those things are displays that I feel give me enough to have a sense of the relative intelligence level of the people writing them.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Am chuckling. If you quit focusing on other people’s intelligence it will be easier to be less harsh* with yourself.
        I totally understand the habit or inclination to think about other people’s intelligence. I am surrounded by some very brainy people myself. I will never be what they are. But I have carved out my own space in spite of that.
        My suggestion to you is to limit your observations to the moment, the current comment or statement. It is amazing how many times average people or self-proclaimed average people say something that is ingenious. A cousin and I decided to make ourselves into sponges. We just soak up the best of the best around us and make it our own.

        *Harsh. Don’t take a general concept and foist on a specific attribute. You are mixing two things that do not need to be mixed. I do agree we owe the world something. The world provides us with food, shelter, friends, pets, yes, we do need to respect that. But just because we have brains, money, beauty does not mean that is the VERY thing we have to pay the world back with. When it comes to choosing how to contribute to our world, we are in charge of picking what resources we will use and when we will use them. You are randomly deciding that “I am told I am brainy therefore I should go out there and fix the world.” nope. That is not how that works. It goes more like, “Gee. I have a spare $100 this month. I think I would like to donate to that animal rescue place in town.” OR “My friend’s house burned down. A bunch of people are helping her fix it. I think I will go on Saturday and help.” And that is how we pay back the world in real life.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Me, too.
        And I also see a synergy. All of us are smarter for having read what someone else wrote.

  21. Nervous Accountant*

    any suggestions for runningapps? or even any fitness apps (not my fitnesspal). I use the treadmill, not an outdoor runnr (for now)

    I recently downloaded a running app from Facebook, but I hate that it constantly has popups to upgrade. I’m ready to delete it bc I cant keepitopen or click anywhere w/o being prompted.

    1. Miss Nomer*

      One of my friends used couch to 5k, and two others like Zombies run? I think that’s what it’s called. I haven’t tried them but you could check those out.

    2. Emilia Bedelia*

      I like Fitocracy- you get points and can “level up” and complete challenges by logging your workouts. It does have a premium option, but I don’t think it’s super obtrusive about it.

    3. Your Weird Uncle*

      I use Runkeeper in conjunction with the Spotify running playlists. And also the C25k app, but I’m trying to get back into running, so feel free to ignore that one.

      I….use a lot of data on my runs. :) But, on the other hand, they don’t bug me to upgrade to premium. There’s the odd ad or two, and that’s it!

      1. KitCroupier*

        I love Zombies, Run! by Six to Start. It was the only thing that got me on the tread mill (and eventually outside) day after day.

    4. MegKnits*

      Zombies run! is a neat app, although I needed more constant music to keep my pace up. I use Nike+ to track my runs both inside and out. I like that app because I can track my mood after, what shoes I’m wearing (to see how many km/miles I have on them) etc. It also notifies you at intervals that you can set. (ex. for short runs I like to be notified every 1km with my pace time, but longer runs, I like to be notified every 2km or every 10mins). Also fun fact, I generally only run in Adidas shoes but love this app anyways.
      I think a few other people I know use MapMyRun but I am pretty happy with my nike + app.

  22. Jessen*

    Why is it so darn hard to find women’s dress shoes that fit? I’ve been shopping and shopping and even things that are the right size just don’t fit in one dimension or another. My personal bane is the toebox – a lot of dress shoes have toeboxes that are too short in height.

    1. so anonynous for this*

      What, you didn’t get the memo that all feet are the same? Had a friend who actually wore shoes 2 sizes larger than she measured. Long arch and short toes. I’m just glad that I don’t need dress shoes except for rare occasions. Im not sure I could find anything any more.

      1. nonegiven*

        This is me. They measure my feet then have to bring longer, narrower shoes. One guy at a family owned shoe store called for his mom to come look at this. She had me try on sandals I didn’t want, so she could see my feet change shape with her own eyes.

    2. Mimmy*

      Ugh I can relate! My problem areas are my super-high arches and my small heels. It doesn’t help that I’m a size 5, so there isn’t a whole lotta room for me to go a size smaller without going into the children’s department, which I REFUSE to do!

      1. Rebecca*

        I have the opposite problem. I need a size 12, and it’s nearly impossible to find where I live, even if I travel to other counties. I have to order online, and hope they fit. And no, just stretching the end of the shoe out a bit does not make a bigger size! So many times that’s what it feels like, they’re just not proportional.

      2. Kimberlee, Esq*

        Why not? I wish I could shop in the kids’ section, their shoes are so much cooler! People don’t sell adult shoes with all the lights and sparkle and Spider-Man I would prefer. :)

    3. C Average*

      Preach it. If I ever become fabulously wealthy, I’m going to hire someone with wide size 8 feet to select, purchase, and break in all my shoes for me. I will pay well for this service.

      1. JaneB*

        Wierd shaped feet run in my family. Get any 2 adult females together and we start talking about the impossibility of shoe shopping.

        My mum says that the only reason she would want to swap places with the queen is that the Queen gets to have handmade shoes – custom lasts are definitely the first thing I’d invest in if I won the lottery!

      2. TootsNYC*

        If I ever become fabulously wealthy, I am going to have my shoes custom made.

        Once upon a time (20 years ago?) I found a shoemaker in the Bronx who made fashionable shoes, and the first pair was $400. Subsequent pairs were less money because they already had your last on hand.

    4. Master Bean Counter*

      Look at Sofft shoes, Easy Spirit, Naturalizer, and Gianni Bini.

      All good brands for toe room and not crushing your foot across the top joints.

      1. Jessen*

        I’m actually looking at footsmart’s stretchable shoes – they have a quilted pseudoleather line that looks reasonably dressy (not fancy dress, but good enough for office wear) that’s stretch fabric. My mom has a pair so I can try before I order.

    5. Trix*

      I second the suggestions for Sofft and Naturalizer, and I actually usually have pretty good luck with Nine West too.

      If you’re going spendy, look at Gucci, particularly since you say the main issue is the toebox. And stay as far away from Christian Louboutin as possible!

      1. Jessen*

        Eh yeah – part of my problem is that I’m at the entry-level end of the wage pool – meaning I make less than 30k a year. Expensive shoes or even full-price from higher end brands isn’t in the budget.

        1. TootsNYC*

          You might do better with wide widths, since there will be a little more leather over the toe box. Payless has cute wide-width shoes.

    6. Jules the First*

      Dance stores. Look for character shoes, Cuban shoes, or ballroom. Super supple, super comfy, dressy, and surprisingly affordable.

      1. ginger ale for all*

        The dance store near me will let you customize your shoes. You pick the materials, the heels, the style, everything.

    7. Shoe stretcher*

      I got a shoe stretcher off the web. It helps for making the little adjustments to overall length and toebox width that turn a shoe from OK to I can actually wear this.

      1. Jessen*

        I wish they made these for height! I can make the toebox wider, but what I really need is to make it taller.

  23. Gene*

    Packed for my trip. Only things left to go in the carry on at things I need out until Monday morning, like chargers and drugs. I know I left it late, I’m usually mostly packed at least 4 or 5 days ahead. But this lessens my wife’s anxiety over me leaving – she usually packs the night (night, not evening) before.

    Costume presentation script emailed. Lawn mowed, laundry done. I’m ready.

  24. Collections*

    My boyfriend got a letter in the mail from a law firm regarding a civil limited collections case filed against him in the court. This is the first he’s heard of this case. We looked the case up on the court’s website and it was in fact filed.

    There is a hearing set for 2019 for an order to show cause why sanctions should not be imposed for failure to file proof of service and failure to file proof of service pursuant to CRC 3.740. On 7/20, they filed a proof of service. My boyfriend was NEVER served. He doesn’t have any outstanding debts (he has a 800+ credit score), so he has no idea where this is coming from. What should he do?

    1. Collections*

      Oops, I meant to say the hearing is set for 2019 for failure to file proof of service and failure to file default judgment. This date was set on 7/1, but the proof of service was filed on 7/20 and they say they served him on 7/17 (which is a lie).

      The letter he received doesn’t seem to be from the same law firm that filed the lawsuit.

    2. so anonynous for this*

      I am not a lawyer and never been involved in anything like this but you need to find a lawyer. It could be that there are 2 of him, that is another with the same name. But I would not ignore this.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, not a lawyer but it looks like you have not more than 180 days not less than 10 days to respond. So moving forward quickly is wise.

        Look to see if there is anything identifying on the document such as birthday, SSN or driver’s license number. That would be very helpful. If you find these numbers and they are not your bf’s, you might be able to call the court and talk with a clerk. If that does not work, move quickly to getting an attorney. I am thinking that this may just be a clerical error.

      2. Lindsay J*

        +1 find a lawyer.

        I was recently served for student loan debt. (Difference is that this debt is definitely mine). First thing I did was find a lawyer, who cost about $1500 retainer to file a response for me (and will get a percentage of any discount he negotiates on my amount due).

        A lot of these people rely on either

        A. You not paying attention and not realizing the debt is not yours or not collectable.
        B. You not responding or showing up to court, rendering them a default judgment

        1. Lindsay J*

          Also note that even if he wasn’t served directly, in some locations you can be served via public notice (usually an ad in the classifieds in the newspaper) if you are unable to be reached after a period of time.

      3. nonegiven*

        Don’t wait to find a lawyer. A legislator got his wages garnished because he had the same name as a debtor.

    3. Rebecca*

      This sounds like robo filing to collect a zombie debt. The Chicago Tribune has an article about it, dated 7/13/15 “Why you should fear ‘zombie debt,’ and how you can fight back.”

      This probably doesn’t belong to him, or someone years ago could have misapplied a final payment in a system somewhere, so a “debt” has been resurrected and now some collection agency is trying to get some money out of him, and probably thousands like him. I suspect the “law firm” on the letterhead isn’t a law firm at all.

      Very curious to see how this works out!

      1. TootsNYC*

        From that story:

        “I’m getting clients to look at their collection letters,” Cardoza says. “My clients get money and I get my attorney fees paid. There’s an upside for the consumer to get a professional to help them fight back.”

    4. Temperance*

      That all seems shady. I don’t know collections law, and this is not legal advice, but the first step is to verify that it’s actually your boyfriend and not a man with the same name. He should also pull his credit report. You should be able to view the proof of service online.

      I have a friend whose brother is a serious loser – drug addict and petty criminal. He was arrested for trespassing (shooting up heroin in a park at 3 AM), and gave the cop her husband’s name. Thankfully, we work at a law firm and I connected her with the person who had the connections to sort it out with the court/police. This happens a lot.

    5. Collections*

      Thank you all! My BF has a fairly common name so I’m hoping it’s just a mix up. He’s going to the courthouse tomorrow to get copies of any documents that have been filed and will get a lawyer if needed.

  25. Gene*

    I’ve had some coworkers ask what goes on at a World Science Fiction Convention. I’m sure some here wonder the same. Here’s a link to the online schedule so you can see.


    BTW, if anyone is in our near Kansas City, and wants to check it out in person, I have an extra membership that I’ll let go for $100; at the door membership will cost $240. My throw away email is thenoid108 at Gmail.

      1. Gene*

        Email what you’d like your autograph to say, I’ll try to get it for you. If you want a book inscribed, tell me which one, I’ll see if a copy is available in the dealers’ room, and you can pay me back for it.

        Seriously. I know how badly it sucks to have a favorite author so close, but you can’t go.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Oh my gosh, thank you, but I don’t collect autographs. I’m always more stoked just to talk to people. I went to a horror con way back in the early 1990s and met Michael Berryman—we chatted for a bit. Then I went to another one and he was there again and he remembered me. That’s way better than an autograph.

          Maybe someday I’ll have a table right by his…. :3 Or we’ll be on a panel!

    1. LizB*

      I’m going! I’ve never been to any convention before, and I’m incredibly excited. I went through the schedule and bookmarked everything I’m interested in, which is at least two panels per time slot, so I’ll have to make some tough decisions about what to actually attend. In your experience, is it usually necessary to get to events early and/or wait in line to get seats? I know that can be important at some of the huge cons, but I don’t know if things at Worldcon get that packed.

      1. LCL*

        Your first con will be worldcon? Ha ha ha ha ha. Expect crowds, make use of the schedule, and be prepared for a minor depressive crash when it is over. Cons are an ecstatic, transcendent experience. You will have more fun than you have ever had in your life.

      2. Gene*

        Any panel with GRRM on it, get there way early. There are always things that fill for no known reasons.
        Your first panel should be How to Enjoy You First Convention, 1300 on Wednesday.
        It’s easy to be overwhelmed, make sure you get adequate food, water, and sleep.
        Go to the Volunteer Desk and volunteer for a bit. Unlike commercial ventures like Comic Cons and the Star Trek conventions, Worldcon is run by fans, for fans.
        Make sure you leave time to wander the Art Show and the Dealers’ Room.
        Go to some Filk Singing.
        See some of the films – you will see things at Worldcon you won’t see anywhere else. Last year there was a print of the original, complete Song of the South.
        Go to the Masquerade.
        Go to some of the dances.
        Send me an email and I’ll buy you lunch.

  26. Random Citizen*

    Okay guys, I desperately want to see Michael Phelps’ last race tonight, and I don’t have any TV subscription (used to have basic cable, but canceled it because it just wasn’t worth it anymore), so I can’t get into NBC’s live stream, and I can’t find anywhere else to watch it!! I’ve missed all his other races this week and just saw clips here and there on social media, but I REALLY want to see this one. Any ideas?

        1. Random Citizen*

          Hit enter too soon. Was going to say that it’s in ten minutes I don’t really know where the sports bars are off hand, at least not off hand enough to get in my car are be there before the race started. Sadly. :( But thanks for the suggestion!

          1. animaniactoo*

            I’ve heard cbc – canada’s app is really good on their coverage and you should probably be able to get around the cable restrictions on us tv channels.

            1. Random Citizen*

              CBC says it is currently experiencing technical difficulties. Ugh! Found a German broadcaster that is currently showing track and field, which a friend just told me NBC is showing as well, so maybe they’re showing swimming a little later? Guess I’ll just have to stay off Twitter until after the race. :P

    1. Today's anon*

      you can watch 30 min of streaming on NBC without having to log in. It seems to reset itself after some time if you close the browser, or you can try a different browser, that usually works.

      1. Random Citizen*

        Do you have a link (without the hyperlink so it doesn’t end up in moderation)? Everywhere I click, it wants a login right away. I was watching it earlier this week.

    1. Elkay*

      It kind of depends on what you want and what the norms are in your area. My wedding on a budget would have been in a registry office with immediate family.

    2. bassclefchick*

      Offbeat Bride! They have LOTS of ideas for budget weddings. My wedding was around $6,000, which is still a good chunk of money. But, we kept the guest list small and made sure what was important to us got included. You don’t HAVE to have anything you don’t want, no matter WHAT the wedding industry tells you. (I’m looking at YOU Martha Stewart and The Knot.)

      Your guests won’t care if you don’t have favors. You don’t have to have 16 bridesmaids. Your dress doesn’t have to cost the equivalent of a down payment on a house. If there’s some sort of geeky thing that’s important to you and your groom, include it! We included a few Doctor Who items in our wedding.

      If you want a Martha Stewart/The Knot wedding, go for it! That just wasn’t our thing. Offbeat Bride will be a good reference point for understanding that not everyone has $25K to spend on their wedding.

      We each had one attendant. I told mine that she should get a dress that she would wear again. She picked out something by the same designer as my dress and she’s worn it several times since. We had our ceremony and reception in the same location. My attendant made all of our flowers (I think I gave her a $100 gift card for Hobby Lobby, and our flowers were STUNNING!).

      I guess my advice is: figure out what is important to you and your groom and include it! If it doesn’t make sense or it’s something that you really don’t care about, don’t include it! Hope this helps and congratulations!

    3. Overeducated*

      Agreed that Offbeat Bride is a great resource.

      IMHO the 3 biggest ways to save money are:
      1) keep the guest list small. Tons of the costs are directly related to wedding size (food, alcohol, decorations, chairs, etc) so fewer people = lower cost, plus smaller venues are often.cheaper.

      2) if money is really an issue, don’t serve a dinner. It is the most expensive meal. Catering was around 60% of our wedding costs, not including alcohol which we bought in bulk. Lunch is cheaper. If you time it right (i.e. don’t have the reception over standard dinner hour oR exactly at noon), something simple like cake and punch (or cocktails) works too.

      3) there is plenty of unnecessary stuff you can skip entirely. I don’t understand why favors even exist. We found a nice enough venue (indoor botanical garden) that we didn’t have to decorate, nor did we decorate the church for the ceremony. No need for DJS in the age of the ipod. Punch anyone who asks you repeatedly about why your invitations don’t include second envelopes (yes, this happened). We skipped engagement photos, showers, and two hour photo sessions, but we have hundreds of joyful candids from the wedding itself.

      Word of caution: only DIY things you will enjoy. I did origami flowers and made my own cakes, and I probably saved in the hundreds of dollars, but they were both very time consuming labors of love. I would have been stressed out and frustrated if I had taken on something like designing invitations or making favors that I didn’t enjoy, and self catering would have been way too insane logistically.

      Also look for sales and promotions. We got half price invitations from a designer running a promotion to build her portfolio and they were unique and amazing. We had more mixed experience with a Craigslist photographer buT it worked out ok, and we really did save thousands there.

      Good luck and have fun!

      1. Overeducated*

        Ps I didn’t even have a really budget wedding because we couldn’t pare down our guest list that far. We spent 1/5 of our overall cost on renting a big enough space (in winter so we had fewer options), and 2/3 on the food and alcohol, and went very cheap on the other 15% or so. A lot of people have smaller weddings but don’t want to cheap out on photography, we chose to compromise there instead. It’s the big ticket items that make the biggest difference.

      2. Katie the Fed*

        I second these recommendations. We had a brunch reception and it was wonderful! Brunch food is great and everyone loved being able to get on with their days!

        And yep – no favors, no photo booth, no second photographer, no engagement pictures, etc. That stuff is just unnecessary and expensive.

    4. BRR*

      First is going to be your guest list. Second will be the type of wedding you choose.

      I got married at a restaraunt and had it as a lunch instead of a dinner. Other common advice for cheaper venues is looking at city owned venues (like ones at parks) or things like historical societies.

    5. LF*

      Centerpieces – bulk flowers from Costco are your friend if you aren’t particularly crafty and have a Costco membership. I did flowers in a mason jar, tied a ribbon around them, and called it a day.

      1. TootsNYC*

        Or skip centerpieces. Or ask the venue to use whatever they normally have in their closet. Honestly, they’re just not that important.

    6. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Single biggest budget tip for a wedding is to cut your guest list. Second biggest is to change the date and season–Saturdays in June are going to be way, way more expensive than a Tuesday in January. Most venues will have off-season rates from October/November to April, and off-peak rates Sunday through Friday. Changing the time can have a big impact, too–you can do a large reception for 200 people cheaply if you’re just serving punch and cake from 2-4pm. I got married on a Sunday in April at a brunch wedding at a gorgeous venue for dirt cheap and we had the place to ourselves–if it was a Saturday evening in June the place would have been crammed with two or three other weddings (large venue, different spaces). Third biggest thing will be consider what’s really important to you and spend money on that, and go inexpensive on the other things. If you and your partner are huge foodies, it would make sense to have a decent food budget; if you want to have a slamming party all night, spring for a DJ and bar selection; if you want to have gorgeous photos to remember it, pay for a good photographer.

      Get a copy of A Practical Wedding (and check out the website, too)–I found it to be a lot more accessible and more my style than Offbeat Bride, and they have a ton of resources for “practical-friendly” vendors who won’t gouge the crap out of people and commit to their Sanity Pledge. Very useful! And think really hard about DIY and whether or not you are really committed to it before thinking “I can do X, Y,and Z myself, it’s not that hard!” especially if it’s something you’re not super familiar with. If you’re never cooked for a crowd before, don’t tell yourself that you’re going to cook all the food for a 150-person wedding and then realize at the last minute you don’t want to spend your wedding day in the kitchen, and then end up looking for a caterer who can do last-minute work! (True story, happened to my former coworker.) Similarly, don’t opt for home-grown peonies and then realize later that peonies are a huge amount of work and take years to raise to the beautiful-flowering stage, and then have to scramble for a florist. (Same coworker.)


    7. TootsNYC*

      Miss Manners once wrote that a wedding should be simply a slightly more festive version of the sort of parties you normally throw.

      The catering-hall wedding is the expensive one, and I think that even in families where they are the norm, friends & family find a lot of novelty in less elaborate gatherings.

      The other suggestion I have: For every decision, say “no.” Pick the least labor-intensive, least elaborate answer.

      Should you get flowers for the altar? no
      Should you have pew bows? no
      Should you decorate the venue? no
      Should you have the fancy colored tablecloths? no
      Should you have your own centerpieces instead of using the venue’s basic votive candles? no
      Heck, should you have a centerpiece at all? no

      There is an inexpensive version of every single wedding expense. Choose that, unless you personally believe (based on the previous weddings you’ve been exposed to) that this service or object will be something you remember for years and years.

      Photography usually lasts a long time; videography doesn’t.
      A good DJ can make a difference in how fun the evening is–but only if she/he’s really, really good.
      Nobody remembers the food usually, so just be sure it’s enjoyable, and stop there.

      1. Wrench Turner*

        I love this Miss Manners thing. I have to remember that…
        We went with DJ Pandora. It worked great – and people stopped confused and then laughed when the commercials came on.

    8. C Average*

      I’m sharing this story with the caveat that, like almost everyone else, I loved just about everything about my wedding and wouldn’t change a single thing. You’ll hear that a lot!

      We semi-eloped. Our wedding was planned in advance and had many trappings of a regular wedding, but was also very informal and very cheap.

      I sewed my own dress. I had a fairly small dress budget and wouldn’t have been opposed to buying vintage, but found that I could only get the sort of dress I wanted by making it myself.

      We only had immediate family in attendance: my parents, my husband’s parents, my sister, my husband’s siblings and their spouses and kids. No friends, no extended family. We had no attendants. (I really loved doing only immediate family, because it made it really easy to answer questions about why various people weren’t invited. “We’re only inviting immediate family.” That’s a bright, bright line.)

      My father-in-law officiated, and we held the ceremony in the living room of my in-laws’ beautiful house in Boston. We were already in town for the Boston Marathon, so we didn’t even have to make an extra trip anywhere! We got all the necessary forms and licenses at the nearby courthouse.

      We had no musicians, no photographer (my brother-in-law took wonderful pictures as his gift to us), and just a couple of bouquets of flowers bought by my sister-in-law as HER gift to us.

      We had a local restaurant cater dinner at the house, because it was easier than taking all the nieces and nephews out to a restaurant, but it wasn’t terribly spendy.

      My mother-in-law bought us cake and champagne as her gift to us.

      It was intimate, beautiful, and cheap.

    9. themmases*

      In a big picture sense, spend on what is important to you and find a way you do the other stuff inexpensively or not at all. Remember that this is a party– you know how to throw a party! And your guests are adults who will figure out how to RSVP and get there without fancy extra cards and favors. For me specifically, that meant renting out a restaurant so we picked the food and venue and other details were just handled for us.

      I got married this year for about $7400 in Chicago, so I feel like that’s pretty good! We chose a favorite, non-downtown restaurant where we loved the food and wouldn’t have to decorate or rent any furniture. (It was Wishbone if anyone wants to see pictures and why there was absolutely no need to decorate). We did a buffet dinner and open beer, wine, and a couple of cocktails we picked out. We also got a photo booth that would give us high quality copies of all the photos from the night.

      The way renting out a restaurant or a room at a restaurant works (at least here), they will have a food/drink minimum or a fee that can be waived if your bill is big enough, so it functions as a minimum you will pay the restaurant for the evening. It is surprisingly affordable, even in a big city, and will already be pretty and have furniture, a staff, and some kind of sound system. As a bonus, for stuff we weren’t sure about we could just do whatever the catering manager suggested.

      We had zero attendants, got married by a friend, and another friend with a photography hobby took photos of the ceremony because he wanted us to have them. My dress was $114 on eShakti and I plan to wear it again (it was silver).

    10. Jules the First*

      My aunt and uncle threw a backyard BBQ and announced that they were getting married when everyone arrived. Cost of wedding: two rings, steak, and a marriage license.

      Good friends did a small ceremony at the registry office, followed by a potluck picnic in the park.

      My parents had the traditional church wedding, dinner for immediate family, and then an enormous cake and dancing for the extended family (of which my mother has a LOT)

    11. Wrench Turner*

      Welcome to the club! I made or organized 100% of everything for our very tiny, very casual wedding for 70 people, and we were able to keep the cost for everything at $2k. Had to, we couldn’t afford a dime more. You’re going to be under a lot of pressure to do this or that, to have this or that, to follow this specific ritualized format, etc. coming from everyone, everywhere. From the moment we announced it, holy chrome, the Wedding Industrial Complex was on our butts. My advice is this:

      Do only as much as YOU want. Be only as fancy as YOU want. Invite only those nearest and dearest to YOU and their +1’s. Your day is special, so only special people really need to be there – your dentist’s mailman can see the website and be happy for you. DO make a website, something super basic like a Tumblr, so everyone can be on the same page. That way ONLY what is on the website is what will be going on, not what your aunt told your mom she thought would be going on and is now grumpy about not having. Anyone who doesn’t like it, anyone who had expectations about their perfect wedding for you in their head, anyone who doesn’t want to play along can TAKE A HIKE and you’ll be much, much happier for it. Seriously. 5 years later, many friends’ & familys’ weddings later, as much as we enjoy them we’re still like, dang, we had the best wedding.

      Also, if someone tries the “I’m paying for it so it will be this way” crap, give them your thanks for the offer of support but your wedding will be the way YOU want because it’s YOUR day and they can help or not. And they probably will in some way after all. If not, they don’t really need to be there, do they? ;)

      Good luck. Relax. The hardest part isn’t the wedding. It’s the next day. And the next. And the next. And the next…

    12. TootsNYC*

      For your dress: If at all possible avoid the true bridal salons.

      Just look for a dress at a regular store. If you choose a less formal style for the whole event, you can just wear any white party dress. (Or, any COLOR of party dress.)

      1. Lindsay J*

        I was looking at the formal dresses in Macy’s right now (homecoming dresses? IDEK) and was thinking that many of them would be gorgeous wedding dresses. I saw lots of blush pink and lace, and white and silver.

      2. Liane*

        If you do go to a bridal shop, head straight for the clearance racks! Back in 1991, I took this advice. I bought a lovely $500 gown for $50 because there was a run or snag in the train. I had been shown exactly where the snag was & could never find it later–but it had lots of seed pearls, lace & chiffon.
        Downside is–unless you are lucky to be the exact size as the gown–you WILL probably have to have it altered professionally, which is pricey–I was lucky that one of my dear friends got those done as a wedding gift.

        Alternatively, I have heard that renting gowns and attendants’ dresses is also very budget friendly.

    13. New Bee*

      I don’t know what your budget is, but we got married for $6K in one of the most expensive areas in the country (it’s one of the two you’re thinking of), so it’s possible to have a “traditional” wedding and reception in a big city for not a ton of money. We loved it (what C Average said), and a lot of our guests still talk about it being the best wedding they’ve ever attended. My thoughts:
      1) x1000 that the biggest choice will be wedding size. I come from a big family, but we budgeted for 60 people (45 attended) and weren’t shy about saying that it was going to be small, only close family, etc. Not getting married in either of our hometowns (we got married where we live) also helped; we didn’t invite distant cousins and such, and it was understood to be “let’s be realistic about travel” rather than a snub. Having a casual reception, like a barbecue 6 months later, is another option.

      2) We went with a country club in the off-season (a Sunday in March–Jewish wedding), and I can’t stop recommending them to my friends as an affordable option. The rise in popularity of nontraditional venues has put golf courses and country clubs on the back burner, but what I loved was that they had prices right on their website and were upfront about what could be negotiated.

      3) DIY cautiously–it’s a good idea if you are crafty and have the time + a smaller guest list, and if you can be reasonable about what your final product will look like. I made all of the stationery/signs plus my stash and a matching accent for my shoes, and a relative who’s a catalogue stylist helped me do the floral arrangements.

      4) Other stuff we saved on: temple membership allowed for a free ceremony, found a school dance DJ through a friend, bought a designer dress marked down because it was “last season”, did beer and wine only with BevMo’s “buy one, get one 5 cents”, found a photographer on Thumbtack, and had mini-cupcakes instead of a large cake.

      5) Being upfront and realistic about our budget went a long way. Our reception venue threw in a bunch of last-minute perks (like charging us a flat rate for each plate, so folks ate Chilean sea bass at vegetarian prices, no service charge, covered our slight alcohol overage), and I honestly think it was because we were humble, non-demanding, and really grateful for what our vendors could offer. If something was out of our range we didn’t whine or demand an exception, we just accepted it and moved on.

      While I wouldn’t have minded/could’ve liked some version of an offbeat wedding, being the first grandchild to get married and having folks traveling from the opposite coast to attend, among other cultural reasons, made us lean toward a more traditional setup. If that’s your circumstance, don’t apologize for wanting it! I hate when budget wedding talk becomes a pissing contest about who got married in a burlap sack and ate hot dogs, and if you’re determined to have a dinner reception or traditional first and family dances, walk down an aisle, etc., it’s OK to let people know you want to figure out the capabilities of your budget within those parameters. Congrats and happy planning!

    14. Rory Gilmore's Book*

      I just got married this year and had a relatively inexpensive wedding (around $4K for everything). Here’s what I did:

      1. Got married on a Sunday afternoon and had heavy appetizers, tea and water, and cake only.
      2. We pick a non-traditional venue (a ballroom dance studio). The studio is in a beautiful, super wealthy part of the city.

      3. We invited about 90 people and ended up having 75 guests. No wedding party.

      4. We got two sheet cakes at Costco for our guests and had a very small one made for us to cut for pictures. The small cake was made by a friend of a friend.

      5. Our venue was really beautiful all on its own and didnt need a lot of decorations, so we kept things really simple. I bought most of our decorations one at a time at Michaels so I could take advantage of their 40 or 50 percent off 1 item coupons.

      6. I love love love flowers. My favorite flowers are peonies and luckily, they were in season for my wedding so the cost wasnt too bad.

      1. Rory Gilmore's Book*

        Oh and we ordered our invitations off of Shutterfly and they were gorgeous. We paid around $65 total I think. We got so many compliments on them. We asked people to RSVP via phone or email, so no need for extra envelopes or stamps.

    15. Veridian Dynamics*

      I got married on a budget of 5K.
      *One piece of advice that a friend gave was that we should pick one thing to splurge/spend a little bit more money on (in her and our case, photography) and work the rest of the budget around that.
      *I found the exact dress I wanted on EBay for $150 (normally retailed for $500). It was one that normally sold through David’s Bridal, brand-new, never worn, with tags. I guess the person selling it had bought multiple dresses and didn’t end up choosing that one. I knew my measurements and checked them against the designer’s sizing to make sure that it would fit.
      * Consider having the wedding not on a weekend. My wedding was on a Friday afternoon in March and just the fact of having it during the week shaved off a few hundred dollars. A weekday wedding also helps pare down the guest list.
      *At the end of the day, you’ll still be married. No one is going to remember the centerpieces (or lack thereof) so you do you!

    16. Stellaaaaa*

      ModCloth and ASOS both recently expanded their wedding sections. There are some great quirky/retro/bohemian/unconventional options for under $200.

      I would suggest not skimping on the photography, even if it means just hiring someone for an hour after the ceremony. The pictures are the only part of the event of the wedding that you get to keep. No one ever regrets having a really nice picture to put in a fancy frame on the piano. Or put your wedding clothes back on a week later and go to the beach or park or sculpture garden for pictures. You’re going to want to remember this moment.

      Don’t be afraid to say that you’re only serving beer and wine or whatever.

  27. Brazilian Guy*

    Best: I am in love and I have got a job offer abroad.
    Worst: he has a boyfriend and says that he is going to end his relationship in good terms. He wants me to meet his current, future ex-boyfriend! And to make things horrible, he is going to move with me after I relocate for this new job. My heart is in a mess.

    Best: I am in love, anyway. (Repeat.)

    1. SophieChotek*

      Awesome! – job offer abroad.
      Worst…who is moving in with you? the boyfriend or someone else! It sounds complicated…I’m sorry!

      1. Brazilian Guy*

        Hi :-)
        Long story short, this future boyfriend of mine. I have met him through common friends. We had an affair, but he decided just to be friends as he had fine through a difficult relationship recently at the time. Months later, he told me that he wanted to try living abroad, and I invited him, if I got anything, he would travel wuth me and see if it works. I have kept my promise, invited him, he did accept. The issue is, I have declared myself to him later, but at the same day and time he said he was in love with this guy. Since then, I have been his best friend, but he is aware of my crush on him, that I tried but cannot move on, and the weird thing is that this current boyfriend of his knows about my feelings about this guy. So, this guy I like decided that I could go meet his boyfriend, creating a messy situation, and by the end it feels like I’m having a handover meeting, as absurd as it could be. New life, I’m in love, but it feels like I’m a character on a Woody Allen movie!

        1. Sofa*

          That does sound messy. I don’t want to judge without knowing the people involved, but how is he treating his current boyfriend? How did the affair happen? Does the boyfriend know about all of this?

          Look at the way he’s treating this guy as an indication of the way he might treat you. Love is a strong and wonderful emotion, but you should also be cautious and look out for yourself.

          1. Brazilian Guy*

            Thanks for the kind reply. He treats him very fine, with respect, consideration and does not neglect his feelings. His boyfriend knows about this situation in full. We have met during a dinner with our common friends a year and a half ago, we liked each other, but he was just out from a long relationship that didn’t went well. We’ve dated, several times, but he didn’t want to progress because he felt he wasn’t prepared and he didn’t want me to be just a replacement. However, maybe two months later, he started to date this other guy and became something more meaningful. He kept seeing me but as a friend only and I respected that. Now I feel strange as he wants to break up with him and be with me, with his boyfriend knowing everything, which makes me feel uneasy about his boyfriend, because I don’t want to have my happiness by destroying another happy relationship, and I never have been pushy, even I tried to jump off with all my strength from this. As I have never faced something like this and have nobody to talk, this might be a good opportunity to listen to other, well experienced, people. Of course this might be a lot off topic, but anyway thank you for any thoughts you might have on it, I will appreciate it.

            1. Sofa*

              I think your situation is a common one. Think of married couples who separate and start seeing other people without getting legally divorced, couples who continue living together as their relationship ends for financial / logistical reasons, etc.

              The “hand off” is the unusual part. Is it necessary? Do you and the boyfriend have to meet face to face? I think it could be emotionally traumatic for both of you. In these situations, sometimes people think everything’s fine, but other emotions come out later on. Be careful.

              1. Brazilian Guy*

                You got the point. Weirdly t feels like I am in a situation like this. I think I will not meet the guy and let them sort it out by themselves. Better not to be into a sad relationship that begun in the wrong foot.

                1. Sofa*

                  Yeah, that’s what I would do – give them some space and then get your relationship off to a good start.

  28. NYC Runner*

    We are experiencing this incredible heat/humidity in NYC, the humidity in particular is awful. I run outside, and I still do. I am friendly with other people who exercise regularly outdoors and they have adapted but everyone keeps on exercising; we are all training for something or other and while we can adapt, just not running is not really an option. However, most of my closest friends do not run or do any athletic activities and they have just been on my case that I must stop, I will die!!! and so on, and it’s getting on my nerves. I know they mean well, and it’s coming from a place of concern but I fear I will answer in anger because I am getting fed up, I am not doing anything extreme, I am careful, I’ve been running through summer so my body has adapted at least some, or at least more than if I’d bee in the A/C all the time and/or new to exercise, etc. Thanks!

    1. Rebecca*

      I hear you. I don’t run, but I walk and ride my bike, and hear the same things. I wear proper clothing, I have a water camel backpack, and I pace myself. I walk during all weather, from -10F to +95F, all year around, so I’m generally acclimated. I don’t have air conditioning at my house, so I’m not constantly refrigerated. I love the people in my neighborhood, though :) On one particularly hot day, a lady emerged from her house with a bottle of water, not understanding I had 3 liters on my back. It was so nice of her to be concerned.

    2. edj3*

      I run outside in most weather here in the Kansas City area. We have very hot, humid summers and still lots of us run outside. When people question my sanity for running when the temp is so high and the heat index is even worse, I just laugh and say yep, I’m nuts. But I don’t belong to a gym and never mastered running on a treadmill so this is my best option.

      FWIW, I do think running outside year round keeps me acclimated to the current season precisely because I’m out in it.

    3. Sibley*

      “Thank you for your concern, but I have taken all the appropriate precautions and I have educated myself on the symptoms of heat related illnesses.” New subject. If they don’t get it, “Seriously, this is annoying and unnecessary. Change the subject please.” If they don’t, walk away/hang up. They’ll figure it out.

      See also Captain Awkward’s blog.

    4. C Average*

      OK, first off, I’m tipping my hat to you, because I’m a pansy-ass runner who can’t (or, to be a little more honest, WON’T) take the heat, because I’m just not sufficiently dedicated to my sport. I admire your discipline!

      It is amazing to me how many people I encounter who want to tell me how bad some aspect of running is for me. I’m going to destroy my knees or my hips or my feet. I’m going to get heatstroke or a sunburn. I’m going to get murdered by weirdos or attacked by dogs.

      I have to bite my tongue REALLY hard to avoid pointing out to them that by not running or doing some other activity, they may very well develop problems (weight issues, heart disease, general lack of fitness) by being so sedentary.

      I will think of you next week, when I’m in Phoenix and am trying to stick to my half-marathon training schedule in crazy hot weather.

  29. Concerned*

    I’m concerned about someone I know who seems to be having some memory problems. They’re older; I’m not sure if I’m being ageist or not.

    I’ve noticed it for a while, but it seemed to be more minor things. Recently, this person forgets that entire conversations happened, and forgets pieces of information that most people would remember (for example, “Jane was in a terrible car accident,” and the next day, they ask, “How’s Jane? You haven’t mentioned her in a while.”). They don’t forget all conversations and things I tell them. It’s sporadic. Most of the time, they seem fine. It’s just noticeably more than is normal, even for someone who’s busy and stressed out. Although I know some people are just forgetful; it could be a quirk.

    I’m concerned because people who are having memory problems can get taken advantage of, and it could be something easy to treat. Or maybe I’m over reacting?

    What should I do? Should I say something to them about it?

    1. Ice Bear*

      Are these in-person conversations they’re forgetting or on the phone? Because when I’m on the phone with someone who talks my ear off for too long and won’t end the conversation despite me saying I have to go eventually I mentally check out and don’t pay attention to everything they’re saying. Just something to consider.

      1. Concerned*

        No, these are in person conversations when we’re alone together and there are no distractions. And they’re significant conversations. Stuff most people would remember.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      First thing I would look at is their hearing. Sometimes people have a sudden hearing loss so they miss some things, in turn, they work hard to cover the hearing loss so that means they miss MORE things because they are distracted by the busyness of covering themselves.

      You could ask your friend how she is doing, is she getting enough rest and so on. See where that conversation takes you.

      1. Concerned*

        Yeah, I’ll try bringing it up. Hearing loss wouldn’t explain it. We’ll have an entire conversation about something and then they’ll forget everything. It’s beyond what’s normal or easily explained, and I’ve been noticing it as a pattern over a long period of time.

        I don’t want to make the wrong kinds of assumptions, though. Some people are unusually forgetful. It could be any number of things. But I don’t know if this person is aware of all this, or if anyone else they know would say something about it.

        1. LCL*

          I’d say something. Just that you noticed this and wonder if they are well and encourage them to see their doctor. A myriad of things can cause memory issues. Making them aware that their issue has become noticeable is a kindness.

  30. Mac Girl*

    Is anyone else bothered by people dumping furniture at the curb? I’ve been seeing a lot of well-kept furniture being tossed out in my area, and it sort of grates my nerves since I know there are places and people that could benefit from it. Someone a few miles south of me threw out a 2K clean mattress because it was taking up space in their home.

    1. Forager*

      I love it when people throw out furniture. I collect it, give it a new paint job, and sell it or use it for myself.

      Matresses are another story, though. People generally don’t want curb-dumped matresses. Those should be saved for bulk trash collection day.

    2. TootsNYC*

      It may be that they’re expecting someone else to pick it up and use it. Depends on your locale.

      Here’s how I look at this stuff:
      • It all ends up in the landfill anyway. It’s just a matter of:
      -how long it takes
      -how much good or evil it does along the way.

      I get that you can see all the “good” that these things still have available to do.
      But it takes time and effort and coordination to donate or sell furniture. That maybe an “evil” that owner doesn’t want to submit to.
      A lot of donation places won’t take mattresses or upholstered furniture.

      1. SophieChotek*

        People in my neighborhood do it all the time, and usually it’s gone with 24-48 hours.
        (I got my first sofa that way. Though hearing about bedbugs, etc., I don’t know that I would take a sofa off the curb again that way. Or at least I’d check it really carefully!)

        Ditto – lots of donation places won’t take mattresses or upholstered furniture (just for thoes reasons?) – and may not be willing to haul away.

        Although yes, if one knows a church organization, etc. or such – that might be another donation way — but yes, generally I expect furniture on the curb to be taken by people ho want to use/take the time themselves to resell or whatever

        But donating can take time. My mom donates a lot of stuff (household items) to a church that works with refugees (finding apartment, etc.), but when she’s decided she wants it gone – she does not want to see it — so then waitng days/weeks for church to coordinate to pick it up drives her nuts….

        1. Temperance*

          I’m having this problem. I have a working refrigerator that I would like to donate, but someone needs to pick it up because I have a compact car. It’s really unreasonable that these places want and need donations, but only want to pick up during business hours when most of us are at work.

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            You could try putting it on Freecycle https://www.freecycle.org/ Pretty much everything on there is “pick it up yourself”.

            One caveat: I found that after being on it for not very long that I was getting dragged down by the amount of mail that gets generated. Especially the people who post WANTs. So, put your fridge on there, once it’s taken away, unsubscribe as soon as you can.

          2. E*

            Post it on Craiglist! There’s a “free” section and I’m sure there are a ton of folks who need a fridge and could pick it up around your schedule.

        2. Katie the Fed*

          I was really troubled about getting rid of my mattress – it was such a pain. Finally I decided to put it on the curb on a nice day, and listed it on Craigslist. I figured if nobody would pick it up, I’d schedule a special trash pickup.

          It was gone in an hour.

      2. Mac Girl*

        You’re right about time/coordination, and I get that people do not always have time or patience to find someone to take items off their hands. It just bothers me sometimes because I know some people just can’t afford certain items.

        Also, I suspect waste management employees are generally irked by curb-side dumping.

        1. TootsNYC*

          When you drive past them, you could always go online to Craigslist or Freecycle or a Facebook page and tell people that you spotted it, if someone wants it.

          Hey, if you have a lot of extra time on your hands, you could create a “freecycle” app or a Facebook page for people to put that sort of stuff up for the community when they put it out.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Although check the rules of your local Freecycle group; not all will allow notices of stuff left out at curbs (mine doesn’t, since it can result in multiple people driving over there and finding it gone).

    3. Rebecca*

      I’ve seen curbside pickup ads on Craigslist here, as well as on the sell and swap sites – people will post a photo of said furniture or item, and give a general address, like a street with cross street, with a first come, first served tag – and things disappear! That might be part of what you’re seeing.

    4. Overeducated*

      It is frustrating, but I am trying to sell a
      wooden kitchen table on Craigslist (not a luxury item just a solid basic, only asking $20) and nobody is interested in buying it. I know there are donation places but it won’t fit in my car so I am kinda stuck there, and i am not so saintly as to rent a truck to get rid of it…if this doesn’t work then it goes on the curb with a free sign. Grrrr.

      1. Allons-y!*

        I think some places do pick up donations, like the Salvation Army and the American Kidney Fund, if those are in your area. May be worth googling. Or you could try a church like SophieChotek mentioned.

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            When I tried to get rid of some furniture, they wouldn’t even come to my area. I offered them money, told them it was a 5min drive north from their collection point at a particular shopping centre and the woman just went on about how my postal code said I live in X and they don’t do pickups in X. Nothing I said could convince her I live in Y, not the fact that I pay taxes there, nothing. It was maddening.

    5. nep*

      I think that most decent stuff that gets put out on the curb gets picked up and recycled in some way.

    6. Temperance*

      Okay this is showing my class … but I love curb furniture, because it’s fair game! I only take in wood and plastic, though, because it’s not worth getting bed bugs.

      It’s actually nearly impossible to donate mattresses anymore, because of the bedbug epidemic. I understand it.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I put a dresser out one day, and the day I *had* to put it out, it was pouring. So I got out the $1 plastic tarp to put over it, and I put a big sign on the top that said: “drawers in excellent shape.” It was gone by late evening.

      2. Forager*

        Bedbugs can infest wood furniture. That’s why I always leave the furniture outside until I’ve cleaned it and applied a few thick coats of paint.

    7. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t care, as long as it isn’t going to rain any time soon. It’s annoying to see perfectly nice couches (with no plastic covering) out when it’s going to rain that night. Ruined for everyone.

    8. fposte*

      I’m in a university town. End of every school year is dumpster and curb-fill with furniture. And the laws are really strict on mattresses, so most Goodwill and Salvation Army locations won’t take them, nor will most Habitat ReStores; most individuals don’t want them because of the bedbug risk, either. As far as I know, the only place in my area that will take them for you is the mattress seller from whom you bought the new one. (You could always point the person you know toward the curbside mattress, I suppose.)

      It’d be nice if everything we bought went on to a useful life elsewhere, but mostly the problem with overconsumption is our purchase of the stuff in the first place, and there are fewer people clamoring for our used stuff than we might like to think.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Maybe by you, but around here people take EVERYTHING. I do live close to an immigrant-heavy area, so that might be part of it. But I have yet to put anything out on the curb and post it on Craigslist that hasn’t been gone within hours.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      We have a free community forum where we can advertise stuff. I put out some free plants, okay there was about 80 of them once I got them divided into sizes I could actually lift and carry. I put an ad on the forum and the 80 plus were all gone in 22 hours.

      Furniture goes the same way.
      Around here, you put something out and it does not last long.

      Our economy is set up such that people have to buy, buy, buy. It is amazing what you can get for free or near free as people tire of their new item quickly. I picked up an LL Bean tote bag for $3. I looked it up, it retails for $30.

      I have to chuckle. Growing up, if something was by the curb it was because it was true junk. Now it’s perfectly good, grab it and take it home with you, or someone else will.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, that’s funny–I grew up with the “leave it by the curb” thing 50 years ago too. Lots of kids’ stuff traded hands that way.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Yeah, the curb is where I get rid of a LOT of stuff. Once I put out a lawnmower with a cracked gas tank–I put a sign on it that said, “My fuel tank is broken but I’m free!” I went inside to use the loo and came out THREE MINUTES LATER and the thing was gone!

      3. Dynamic Beige*

        People are weird. I have a neighbour who would ask if she could cut some lilacs when they were in bloom. So one year, I asked her if she wanted to have one of her own. They put up little runner/off shoots and I knew I could dig them out quite easily and then she could have her own (I didn’t mind that she wanted them, it’s just that it was kind of surprising with all the plants they had, they had no lilacs, especially because they were her favourite). She gave me a shocked expression and said something about “would it be a real plant” that I didn’t quite understand at the time. I figured out later that in her mind “real” plants must come from a nursery, they’re not something that are dug up and transplanted or split from another. That still blows my mind. How does she think the nursery gets their plants? Most of the plants I have were transplanted from somewhere else. I found I had a sedum a few years ago and I had never bought one, it must have come as a seed somehow.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Runners or suckers come up fast and the general thinking is that they have a high water content and therefore will not survive without being able to suck off the main plant. There are lots of people who consider runners/suckers to be a weak plant.

          I have also seen problems with the hybrid holding. Sometimes transplants will regress to a parent in the cross hybridization. Old-old lilacs don’t have this problem.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            My lilac is a sucker that came up from a neighbor’s into another neighbor’s yard. She let me dig it up and put it in my yard. It was just a stick for a long time, and now it’s taller than I am.

          2. Dynamic Beige*

            Maybe… but I’m not talking about first year runners. I mean small versions that are established in their own right. These are also old lilacs in the sense that I have no idea when they were planted, the main parts are older than I am!

            My grandfather transplanted a bit of his white double lilac and that is now a monster. It does take a while, but once they’re established, they take off. There are tonnes of little ones growing up in places I know they won’t thrive. I think removing a 2 or 3′ little one from out under the tree and giving it to someone else is giving it a chance :)

    10. Bowserkitty*

      People do that in my college town, but it’s generally understood by the trash collectors that these are meant to be taken by other people. I call it “curb shopping” over here and I LOOOOOVE this time of year! I’ve gotten some great things. :)

      They’ve tried with some success to curb (ha) the curb furniture, where they ask people to bring their unwanted furniture to the lower level of one of our parking ramps and the city then sells it and all proceeds go to one of our local food/homeless shelters. Unfortunately this only happens once a year :(

    11. Chaordic One*

      A friend of mine was cleaning out the house of her late father. She called several different charities and one did come out and look at her father’s furniture, but no one wanted it. So she put it out by the curb with a “free stuff” sign and most of it got picked up by people. The things that didn’t get picked up after a couple of days went in the dumpster.

    12. Stellaaaaa*

      Sometimes there’s nothing you can do. You might have to move in a rush and goodwill pickup can’t come until after you move. Sometimes it’s a single person without a lot of relatives or resources to help out with the moving. You can’t rent a truck just to move things for donation. Plus the idea that “places” could benefit from it…that’s not always true. In my area, goodwill won’t take soft furniture anymore. They certainly won’t take a used mattress.

    13. The Other Dawn*

      I’m late to the game, but thought I throw in my two cents. It doesn’t bother me at all to see stuff out at the curb. Many times it’s just too much of a pain in the ass to coordinate pickup, or pickup isn’t available at all. I don’t have a truck in the family anymore, so anything we need to get rid of that’s big goes to the curb. It’s generally gone within hours, even if it’s true junk. We have scrap metal guys that drive through, so anything containing metal generally gets picked up by them.

      I’m bummed because I spotted a wooden drop-leaf table at the curb as I was driving down my street yesterday, and today it’s gone. I didn’t stop yesterday because my husband was giving me “the look.” For some reason, he won’t pick up anything off the curb, no matter how good it is. He’ll buy from a tag sale, though. I, on the other hand, am always looking around as I drive through the neighborhood. I won’t grab just anything, though–it has to be in good shape, usable, and not fabric. It’s so weird, because, when I was growing up, I always turned up my nose at this kind of thing. Not sure why. But now I’m always on the lookout.

  31. SophieChotek*

    For those of you who have had to live with relatives/parents for a long time after college…when you moved out were you glad or was the extra financial burden not worth it? I have an opportunity to maybe get an apartment that is a decent price for my area (and considering the increasing rent cost, probably the best I could do for space/area/proximity to grocery store and target/laundry), but still in the top/slightly above my budget (with all my student loans/loan payments vs. my small income, and added cost of internet and utilities and buying more of my own grocerries). the place is okay – not great — bathroom is awful — bedroom is small – living room/dining room/kitchen combo is okay — storage/closet is okay (not great but better than non-existent). But obviously, I need to quick get my application in, if I want it. I’m so on the fence. my relatives are on the fence too – on the one hand, they really want me to move (in the sense, you need to live on your own, sort of thing) – but they are not super enthused about place itself (except price) though we also think realistcally, it probably is the best I can expect to do in the metro area. Any thoughts? advice? other ways to think about it? Pros and cons?

    1. Allons-y!*

      Well, first, it really all depends on how you feel about the place, not your relatives. If you are a pro/con list person, make that list and assess it. You can always try to pick up a side gig to pay for the rent if you really want it. But if you find the cons outweigh the pros and still aren’t sure, it may be worth it to wait it out until you find a better paying position or something that feels right.

      I moved after graduation but found myself living with my family two years later. I finally got myself together and jumped ship. I am still not super well off, but I am glad that I moved. I like where I live now and who I live with. It’s difficult, but when I think about it, it’s worth it. But that’s my take.

      1. SophieChotek*

        Thank you for your thoughts and advice and experience

        I already have a side-gig (though I suppose I could try to pick up more hours)…

    2. Sofa*

      I think it depends on your relationship with your family and what it would be like to live with them for another year. Weigh that against the pro’s and cons of the apartment.

      Are there good things, other than economic benefits, about living with your family? Do they offer you emotional support? A sense of safety? Do you fight with them? Do they impose rules on you? If so, are they normal house-sharing rules like, “Wash the dishes,” or are they beyond that? Do they actively resent you for living with them or is it more of an, “It’s a good idea to get your own place,” sort of thing?

      Stuff to watch out for with the apartment: mold, bedbugs, the general safety of the building and the area, how reasonable the management is, etc. Look online or ask around. Look at the lease and see if it has a lot of unrealistic clauses; that can be a red flag. With apartments, appearances can be deceiving. There’s a lot of stuff that can affect your quality of life that isn’t obvious at a glance. You’re generally better off waiting to find a place that’s going to be easy to live in even if it takes a while or is more expensive.

      1. SophieChotek*

        Ugh bed bugs – hate them
        I don’t think I saw any…
        I looked online to comparison rent, etc.
        I do need to read the lease again

        Thanks for your suggestions!

    3. ginger ale for all*

      Do you have an emergency fund saved yet? So if you have a major car repair will you still make your rent with ease?

      1. Lily Evans*

        Seconding this. I got into a car accident literally the day I moved to my new city and had to pay the $1k deductible right after I put down first month’s rent and the security deposit, so thank goodness for the extra money I’d saved living at home! You never know when things like that will happen all at once.

        I’d also suggest gauging how hard it will be to get out of the lease in case something does happen that leaves you either unable to afford it or having to move somewhere else. My first landlords were fantastic and let me out of my lease with six weeks notice and I got my deposit back. My second landlords… not so fantastic. I had to come up with two months of rent and lost the deposit. You never know if you’ll have to break the lease or why, crap happens, so it’s best to be prepared for that.

    4. Lily Evans*

      It depends on your relationship with your family, but for me moving out was the best thing I ever did, even though I’m spending a lot on rent I’d rather be keeping a tighter budget than dealing with the toll my family takes on my mental health. But even if my relationship with my family was great I still wouldn’t want to live with them, here are a few reasons:
      -The freedom of not having any sort of curfew or having to answer personal questions about where I’m going/who I’m spending time with
      -It makes seeing my parents a better experience because we have a lot more to talk about when I haven’t seen them in a few weeks, and my mom’s much better in small doses
      -Living alone really helped my confidence and improved the way I look at my own competence. It sounds weird to say that living alone brought me out of my shell, but it definitely did.
      -It also helped my parents see me as a more competent adult
      -Setting your own schedule is great. For example, I love showering late at night right before bed, but couldn’t do that at home because it woke people up. It’s great setting my own routine
      -I can buy snacks and they’re still there when I get home! No younger sister to eat them on me!

      As far as the terrible apartment, my first apartment was kind of terrible. Charming, but a bit on the dilapidated side, but I loved it, mostly for the above reasons. It wasn’t a great apartment, but it was 100% mine and I really needed that, I think. But you do need to trust your gut. Does the landlord seem okay? Is the area decently safe? If something feels off, even if you can’t quite place it, it’s better to take a pass for now and keep looking than to end up in an unsafe situation.

      Lastly, make the decision yourself and don’t let your family influence you. If it turns out badly you’ll have no one else to blame, and if it turns out well it’s super satisfying to know that you did that. If I’d listened to my family I never would have left the house (they’re very pessimistic and what I think is best for me doesn’t always line up with what they think is best), but I haven’t once regretted it! Good luck with whatever you choose to do!

      1. Lindsay J*

        This. I couldn’t wait to get out of my parent’s house so I jumped into something that wasn’t great looking but didn’t have like a mold problem or rats or anything like that. It was just kind of dingy and old. I felt so much better being out of their house that I didn’t even care.

        It was similar when I moved out of my ex’s apartment. The place was run down, owned by a slum lord, and was damaged by Ike and never really restored and so the entire bottom floor had been turned into storage. But it was mine. And I had a yard with flowers in it. And didn’t have to answer to anyone and could do what I wanted to do whenever I wanted to. And I was deliriously happy.

      2. SophieChotek*

        Thanks Lily and Lindsay – appreciate your advice
        A lot of the pros you list are ones I see — I think my relationship with my parents might be better — but my mom and I still often get into (mini) fights with annoying frequency
        Well no little sister to eat my snacks. If I move out, very strict budget. I would be the one stealing my parents’ snacks when I go visit them!

        I think area is safe. Landlord — he seems okay. Very uptight about no nails in the walls (!) — apparently not quite as uptight about the state of the bathroom LOL

        I wish my gut would help – I am on the fence –
        If i loved it or hated it, I would have no question

        I have about an equal lists of pros and cons…sadly…I keep going over and over them….

    5. TootsNYC*

      People can live in a hovel.

      My only concern, were I your mother (and I could be–my daughter is 22 and just finished 4 years of college), would be:
      -safety (is your neighborhood OK, are your immediate neighbors sketchy?)
      -will the price make it hard for you?

      otherwise: this is your first home. It’s totally normal for a first home to be kinda dumpy.

      Were I your mom, I might say: “well, if you really don’t like it, and the price is a little too high, what if you paid that rent into a savings account and tried again in X months? Have a solid plan, that you actually LIVE by–that’s about as independent as living in your own place.”

      1. SophieChotek*

        Thanks all for your replies. I appreciate it.
        – safety (yes I think it’s safe)
        – price, it’s a stretch

        My parents really don’t want me to live with them anymore; I think they would be okay with a few more months, but a year (or two or three) — so I’m kind of concerned if I pass this one by (for price) I won’t be able to find another one….

    6. it happens*

      Moving out of the family home is a definite step toward self-sufficiency and feeling like an adult. So is being financially responsible. When you say that this place is slightly above your budget I get a little concerned (more than it being a less-than-great place, that’s ok.) Maybe you could move out at a lower cost by looking for a place with a room mate/s. Best of luck whatever you choose to do.

      1. SophieChotek*

        Thanks – I’d love a roommate. One of my best friends has said she would be willing to rent a house with me (or maybe buy a house, and I could rent half from her), but she hasn’t been able to save enough to make a downpayment…

    7. Rosa*

      I’ve been thinking about the financials of moving out too. Right now, I’m on track to finish paying my student loans around this time next year, so once that’s over with, I’m wondering what I should do. For me though, the biggest reason I want to be on my own is so that I can whatever I want for dinner haha.

      1. SophieChotek*

        i don’t mind eating what my parents eat —
        but having not to answer to anybody would be so nice
        Best of luck Rosa!

    8. Stellaaaaa*

      I lived on my own for a while and eventually just moved back home. I’m single and of an age where my friends are all living with partners, and I certainly don’t want to get young roommates (who will inevitably find partners and move out). In my area, a single woman can’t find an affordable and safe place to live on her own. You can find something cheap but it won’t be safe. So I’m back with my mom, who will probably eventually move back to take over her dad’s property when his ~time comes. Then I’ll just stay in our condo. Either that or I’ll possibly have enough savings for a down payment in a few years.

      Don’t move somewhere you hate. You’ll get really upset and resentful that you’re sinking all your money into a living space that you don’t want to spend time in.

      1. SophieChotek*

        It would be such a pain to move out and concede defeat and move back in again. I would hate to do that. (And I feel like most of my friends are either married or have already found their own — single–one-bedroom condos–or they are still living with their parents/relatives too!) If my parents were older, then I could see this being a none-issue because I would end up staying home to take care of them, but right now they are young enough that isn’t on the horizon (thank God) –

        Yeah – I am afraid I’ll miss all the comforts of home. My parents have a nice house. I agree first homes, first cars, first-everything tend not be as nice…I wish I could buy my own place, but I doubt I would quaify for a mortgage ande even if I did, my job is insecure enough/looking for a new one, I’d really be taking a risk to take on that mortgage (plus student loans)

  32. StudentA*

    I want to put my very thick hair in a sleek ponytail, but most pony tail holders are damaging. Does anyone know of a type of ponytail holder that is not damaging? I have clips, but I want a sleek, office-y ponytail, not a twisty one.

    1. Temperance*

      Do you have coarse or textured hair? I have fairly thick, wavy hair, and I’ve never had damage from an actual ponytail holder. Rubber bands, yes, but that was my own stupidity.

      I’m also not sure what you mean by “twisty” ponytail. I use the Scunci brand elastics; they come in colors to match your hair (as well as rainbow, but those aren’t really professionally appropriate) and a variety of thicknesses.

    2. it happens*

      Goody makes a line of barrettes with sticky rubber/plastic over the metal part that holds your hair. They look nice, don’t fall out and hold hair well.

    3. Claire (Scotland)*

      Sounds like you might like the Invisibobble. I have hair too short for a ponytail, so I couldn’t use the one I got in a subscription box, but the person I gave it to loves it.

      Link to follow.

    4. Ellie H.*

      I use legit 80’s style scrunchies. Scunci makes a couple of different packages with different colors and they have different styles too. Just at CVS with all the other hair stuff. I use the giant ones but they have mini ones too. I guess they are not super professional looking but I wear them to work and people don’t seem to notice much? I don’t know if I’d do it if I worked somewhere extremely formal, but I’d probably do it with a bunch and a neutral color scrunchie like black (I match colors to my outfit and stuff so have pink and blue ones. Now wondering if I’m too old for this? I’m 29… :D)

    5. Liane*

      Stay away from the silicon ponytail holders! Far away! I got some because I thought they would be less likely to damage my very fine hair. They did the exact opposite! Worse IMO than a plain office rubberband. :P

  33. Android #9*

    I moved with my wife 20 years ago from the NYC area to Texas, and I’m still not used to it here. We have a happy family now, and the kids really don’t know anywhere else (besides NYC, as we go visit my mom 1-2x/year). I make an decent living, really just enough, but I think if I continue in my career (I’m 50 y.o. now), I may as well do it where I feel more comfortable. And thus make more money, as I suspect my demeanor is sour half the time. (I’m in sales)
    My wife disagrees. The cost of living here is very good and she doesn’t want to go into more debt (we’re not in terrible debt). She’s the best wife in the world, still, we disagree on this. I don’t necessarily want to go back east, but I just can’t stand it here anymore. My wife doesn’t think Texas is the greatest, but she won’t leave until we are debt free. Hmmmmmm.
    Has anyone gone through this? Can any wives out there give me insight?

    1. Temperance*

      Okay I’m a wife, although younger than you and your wife. Does your wife have a job? Do you have good leads on potential work in New York?

      I’m in the Philly area now, and that’s great for me. Culturally, I wouldn’t be able to handle living in Texas. I don’t think it’s worth it to be miserable in an area of the country that you don’t like to maybe pay off debt, especially when you aren’t actually really paying it down.

      I’m from an area with a really low COL, and it’s also a cultural and intellectual dead zone. It’s awful if you care about nightlife, museums, or interesting speaking engagements. We made the choice to spend more on housing in an area that isn’t soul-sucking and boring. Our house in the area where we grew up would have cost probably 60% less.

    2. Ruffingit*

      I live in Texas as well and I can understand why you want to leave. You and your wife should negotiate this. It’s not fair of her to say you can’t leave until you pay off debt because this is something you should negotiate as a couple. How much debt do you have and can you both commit to a plan of paying it off within a specified period of time so you can leave? Can you think about paying down half and then moving and paying the rest? There are so many possibilities here, but the bottom line is you and your wife need to be able to discuss and compromise on this. You say she “won’t leave” until debt is paid off. That’s a pretty hard (and I’d argue unfair) line of her to take. Talk and see what you can come up with.

    3. brightstar*

      Is it really the debt that’s keeping her in Texas? I agree that some type of compromise should be reachable. If she’s adamant on that, then working out a budget to pay the debt off would be the next step. Also, the possibility of adding more income via a second job or something and cutting down expenses where possible.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Okay so it sounds like she basically agrees with you except for the debt thing.
      Ask her to sit down and write a budget with you so that the two of you get out of debt sooner.

      One of several things may happen:
      a) She could conclude that the debt issue is not as bad as she thought.
      b) You guys could hammer out a five (or whatever number of years) year plan and she could say, “Five years is too long, let’s knock the debt down as best we can for a year then move.”
      c) She could stick by her guns and insist the debt be paid off. So you could offer up the suggestion that you guys stop using credit cards and other forms of minor debt so you can concentrate on the debt you have and other similar ideas.
      See the key part here is that you will show her how serious you are about moving on, by more

      I was in the opposite position, my husband was the one who said “no debt”. So taking out a mortgage was not an easy thing for him. I tried to realize that he WAS compromising by agreeing to a mortgage. And he tried to understand why a house was so darn important to me. One thing that weighed in heavily for me, was that his idea of not carrying debt was to protect us financially. And here the same could be said, your wife could be trying to protect the two of you financially. I don’t think she is saying it to be cruel or create imaginary hoops for you to jump through. Although, it could feel that way if you are desperate to leave.

      Just my opinion, when a spouse says no X until Y happens, then it’s time to sit down and talk about it. Find out why they feel that way, this is important be sure to do this step. What she says may surprise you. Then build a plan to make Y happen so X can happen.
      Let her know that moving is so important to you that you are willing to work at whatever so that she can feel comfortable about it, too.
      The two of you may have a conversation where both of you are surprised.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        That sentence vanished from my screen so I never finished it. It should have been:

        The key part here is that you show her how serious you are about moving by getting down into the nuts and bolts of what it will take to make the move.

    5. LCL*

      Do some self questioning and try and figure out what you specifically want and don’t want. Saying you hate Texas is too general and vague, so your wife will continue to brush you off as just going through a midlife crisis. From her perspective, you can be miserable anywhere, so may as well stay where she is happy.
      But what do you want? Career change, snow in the winter, long Summer’s on the beach, someplace you can ride your bike after work most days, an iPad that doesn’t autocorrect, going back to school, making art, having a hobby farm and some chickens, or…?
      Once you and her are better at identifying what makes each of you happy, start negotiating.

    1. And you shall be my anon-squishy*

      THANK YOU I NEEDED THIS. My dog looks foxy, so I love seeing anything with a fox in it :)

    2. Bowserkitty*

      It’s Dawn the fox!!!!!!!!! I can’t watch this enough!!! Watching those videos made me realize my cat does the same thing with his tail when he is happy XDDD

  34. Chair-obics? (PollyQ)*

    So, sedentary, out-of-shape me decided that I would start walking around the neighborhood for better physical & mental health. Then I sprained my ankle.

    My question: can anyone recommend a fitness routine/video that can be done sitting down?

  35. Rory Gilmore's Book*

    Alaska cruise advice? My husband and I are taking our belated honeymoon next summer and want to do an Alaskan cruise. How much should we budget for the total trip (i.e. airfare, cruise, etc)? What cruise lines should we avoid?

    1. Elkay*

      We went to Alaska on a cruise two years ago, it’s stunning. We went with Princess which seemed to have a pretty good mix of ages, I believe Holland America are more for the older cruiser.
      Things to consider:
      Eating – are you happy to eat at a set time or do you want flexibility, different cruise lines do different things (Princess offered both)
      Drinking – will you want to buy a drinks package, alcohol or no alcohol (we bought the soft drinks package and took our own alcohol on which was just one bottle of champagne)
      Excursions – is there anything you really want to do, can you find a local tour guide (we only did this once in a port where we had a lot of time but other people swear by local companies)
      Celebrations – if you’re on your honeymoon you might want to go for a cruise line that will recognise that (I got a special dessert and staff singing for my birthday)

      Check out Cruise Critic there is lots of information including deck plans and cabin recommendations.

    2. CMT*

      Bring rain gear; Southeast Alaska is a rain forest and there’s a good chance it will be raining no mater what part of the season you come in. Do the excursions, otherwise you could take a cruise literally anywhere and have the same experience.

    3. StudentAffairsProfessional*

      Ooo, I just got married in May and my husband and I took our honeymoon cruise to Alaska!

      We sailed on Norwegian and really enjoyed it. Even though everything you read online will insist you HAVE to splurge for a balcony room, we had an interior room and found it to be surprisingly roomy and just fine. There are windows and decks everywhere for you to enjoy the view. Plus, we were there in late June, so it was light almost 24-hours a day. We were happy to be able to sleep in complete darkness in our interior room!! I have sailed on Royal Caribbean in the past and found NCL to be slightly nicer – bigger interior cabins, better food, better entertainment. RCI’s Alaska fleet might be lovely though, I sailed with them to the Carribbean and in the Mediterranean.

      We sailed out of Vancouver, but found it MUCH more cost-effective to fly into Seattle and take the Amtrak up to Vancouver. Amtrak tickets were $34 each I think, and we saved at least $300-400 per flight. We sailed Northbound and ended in Seward, which is outside of Anchorage. We got to see more of Alaska this way, but I think logistically it would be easier to go round-trip out of Seattle (not having to deal with customs, crossing borders, can’t buy a round-trip air ticket, etc). Our cruise ended up costing around $2000 total, after taxes, port fees, gratuities, etc. I think the advertised price was $699 or $799 per person, but it definitely gets higher when you add in all the taxes and fees. It did include one “freebie” and we chose the drink package. We booked excursions on our own rather than through the cruise ship, and that saved us money as well. I’m happy to share more information about our stops or experience if you want it! Enjoy planning, it sounds like a great trip!

  36. Dynamic Beige*

    Does anyone have any experience with UV clothing?

    I have vitiligo and manage my UV exposure as well as I can. Being Canada, I haven’t found any stores that sell any UV clothing, it’s all online. And pretty expensive.

    Just wondering if it lives up to the hype or needs special care. Does it last a long time? Companies or features to look for (or avoid)?

    1. it happens*

      I also try to limit my sun exposure and hate the stickiness of zinc sun block – so I’ve started to wear UV tops. Coolibar are crazy expensive, but Uniqlo has a whole line that is very reasonably priced. I think they work, and I just wash them normally.

    2. Bowserkitty*

      I’m not sure if they still do but UNIQLO had a bunch of stuff back when I was in Japan in 2010/2011. I think they still might, and now they have a pretty solid US base so I wonder how much shipping up north would be.

    3. Finny*

      The husband and I both got hats from MEC–Mountain Equipment Co-op here in Calgary, Alberta. The hats look like ball caps with curtains down the back, so they cover the back and sides of the neck. They are apparently made with cloth with UV protection built in somehow. I don’t know if they still sell them, as this was a few years ago, but we wear them all the time, and we’ve not got sunsick since we started wearing them.

  37. Another Alison*

    Best: I’m quitting my job tomorrow! Have been here for almost 8 miserable years, the last one being the worst where I spent most of it serving as the acting CEO with little-to-no support shortly after most of the staff had received pay cuts (morale? What morale?). The cherry on top has been the 2+ hour commute each way since moving offices in May. Don’t have anything lined up yet, but I’ve been saving my pennies so that I can take a mental health sabbatical for a few months.

    Worst: I’m being nice and giving several weeks’ notice, so I have to show up at said crappy job for a bit longer. It’s rough because plans for week one of my sabbatical include binge watching Stranger Things, riding Space Mountain ten times in a row, and laying by the pool reading at least 27 books (I live in FL, so all very possible).

  38. Bowserkitty*

    Still in the middle of my depression slump, and about 2pm I forced myself out of bed to go for a walk and play some Pokemon Go.

    When I got back I was checking around some things online and someone put a lewd Craigslist ad out saying he’d seen me and wanted to do ~things~ to me.


    and why do I check that section of craigslist!?!?

    my kitty was being silly and cute after my shower though so that made me laugh.

      1. Bowserkitty*

        They named the street I’d been on and the shirt I was wearing. It was a unique shirt and definitely me. (T____T)

    1. Retiree57*

      Wait, there is a craigslist section for rape threats? I am usually searching under “housing” so I must have missed this. Perhaps it is overkill but this might be something to print and report to local police. And check or upgrade your security arrangements, locks, alarms, pepper spray, whatever. (Sorry if this is unasked for advice; I think you activated my maternal gland….be careful out there!)

      1. Bowserkitty*

        It’s under this thing in Personals called “missed connections.” I started reading it after a friend who worked at a home depot-esque store linked me to it because somebody posted about one of his coworkers, and late last year somebody pointed out to me that my ex (who I have had to involve the police in at times) had posted about me. Since then I’ve been monitoring it for any extra attempts at communication from the ex (which I then screenshot into a police file I keep in case I need it) and instead I found this. Ughhhhh.

      2. Bowserkitty*

        The worst part was somebody knocked on my door an hour later and my heart about shot out of my throat. I still don’t know who it was; I didn’t recognize them through the peephole, but they went on to knock on other doors so I think maybe they’d been locked out of their place or something…

      3. NaoNao*

        It was probably ‘Missed Connections’ where people describe a person (in as much detail as they like) and usually note “hey, I would love to talk”. In this case, this person went off the reservation so to speak and instead of saying “hey, call me” it sounds like they went into fantasy sexxxy land with what they would like to do (not neccessarily violent or scary, just icky, it sounds like).

  39. AnotherAlison*

    Well, we dropped our oldest son off at college today. It’s only 30 mi away, so I will probably see hims again this week, but it is still hard. Kind of like when you drop off a baby at daycare or they start kindergarten. You don’t see older teenagers much when they do live at home, but it’s weird that he won’t be sleeping there.

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