weekend free-for-all – August 27-28, 2016

Eve on chairThis 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.)

Recommendation of the week: Today I’m recommending movies instead of books, and two very different movies at that — the very funny mockumentary Popstar, and the very funny but in a totally different way Love & Friendship, based on Jane Austen’s Lady Susan. I am still laughing at both.

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

{ 918 comments… read them below }

  1. anon needs help*

    Has any childfree person successfully maintained a friendship with someone after they had kids or vice versa? I don’t mean a casual acquaintanceship, but a true friendship.

    A good friend of mine recently told me she thinks she is pregnant. She got married a couple years ago and has been talking about it for awhile, so it wasn’t a total surprise. However, every time I hear that someone is pregnant, my mind goes straight to 1.) you want to bring a child into THIS world? and 2.) well, I guess we won’t be friends anymore because you will be busy with your kid and your new parent friends. As much as I wanted to sound excited and happy for her, I just immediately started to mourn the death of our friendship. We have lived in different states for several years and our relationship has mainly been through the phone, but as much as I want to say, “oh we will still talk weekly like we do now,” the realist in me just recognizes that it probably won’t happen.

    Are there any success stories out there?

    1. danr*

      Why bury the friendship now? Wait until the baby arrives and see. The friendship might change a bit and continue. Give it a chance.

      1. nep*

        I don’t have any experience exactly like that, so no success story. Just my unsolicited 2 cents — agreeing w danr and suggesting you go where things take you rather than slap a predicted ending on something not even yet begun. Lots of variables, unknowns…
        It could well fizzle as you say, but no telling for sure.
        Best of luck

    2. Kyrielle*

      I have seen it done, but you may have to shift things for a bit. Newborns are exhausting, and toddlers are pretty enervating. Plus they’re new, and so we parents tend to get excited about them.

      Which is to say, it may fade a bit, because _everything_ outside their four walls may fade a bit. But if you hang in there, kids get older, new parents get more competent at what they’re doing (the second baby is less exhausting by itself than the first, if they choose to have more), and friendship resurges.

      Also, sometimes it’s like “…wait, where did _I_ go in all this kid stuff?” And having a friend outside that dynamic who still talks to you about the other stuff you love is awesome.

    3. Overeducated*

      My husband still chats near weekly with his best friend across the country, and often more with his sister, even though we have a toddler. They just talk after 9 pm when the kid is in bed. The first few months with a newborn are insane and your friend may have trouble keeping in touch as much because she will have no schedule predictability and may need to prioritize sleep and showers…but that’s a very short stage, and as adults a few months is a blip on the radar.

      Sadly I don’t have any friends who talked to me that much even before kids, and I do my best but my friendships that are surviving are the two sided ones. Not the ones where I have to make every phone call or invitation…in those cases we talk or hang out less than half as often.

      So my recommendation is to do your part to keep in touch but give a 3 to 6 month grace period in which you try not to resent her lack of availability.

    4. Harriet*

      I have done it! I did need to make the effort for a little while – for instance, when she was on maternity leave (this is the UK, so lasted for a year) I’d take random days off during the week and spend them hanging out with her and the baby. Then when she went back to work we mostly corresponded via text and email for a little while till things settled down. We tend to alternate between meeting for wine after work now, or doing something with the kid on a weekend day.

      I’ve had other friends that have faded out of my life after babies so I don’t have any sort of magic formula as to why this time it worked. But it is possible :)

    5. NicoleK*

      I have a friend from junior high. We’ve known each other for 27 years. She has 5 children (ages 16-2) and I have none. We get together 3-5 times a year. Sometimes her kids come along and sometimes it’s just me and her. Our activities range from spending time at her place, going to the movies movies, and having lunches. The key to having a successful friendship with a mom is being flexible (kids get sick, kids get messy, plans may change last minute, and etc). It’s also a plus if you like kids or can tolerate kids (especially your friend’s kids). If you’re someone who intensively dislike children and want nothing to do with any children, your friendship is going to suffer.

      1. anon needs help*

        I actually do like kids for the most part… I just don’t want them for a multitude of other reasons.

        I have a difficult time with teens and pre-teens, but at least then you can say to yourself it is almost over! Thank you for letting me know there is hope!

        1. fposte*

          There’s also kind of a fun opportunity here. You can find yourself a new and very easily pleased playmate this way. A walk to the park with a two-year-old with a stop for ice cream on the way back is a hoot and a great excuse to play on the swings, and you can give him/her back after an hour. A three-year-old is a terrific brunch date or cookie-making partner. If you’re the one bringing up the idea and choosing the time it can feel like blessed babysitting to the parents but no obligation on your end.

          1. Kate in Scotland*

            I don’t do babysitting without the parents except on very rare occasions, but find that especially with small children, an extra pair of calm semi-competent hands is very much appreciated! And I find children I’ve known since babyhood much easier since I’ve seen their personalities develop and know what they’re interested in.

            1. Anna*

              When my cousin’s three were all pretty young and I was working part time/going to grad school/would need to leave the house just to see something different, she would call me and just ask me to come hang out while she did things around the house so she had another adult to talk to. I helped corral the kids, too, which I didn’t mind, and she appreciated having me there.

    6. Hellanon*

      Oh yeah, friendships can survive almost anything as long as you take the long view. Thing is to just accept that while the core of the friendship won’t change, your interactions will, and the amount of uninterrupted time they have for you (for each other! for anything!) will change drastically. But kids grow up and become small people you can have interesting conversations with, as as the ratio of crying to conversation gets better, so too will your interactions with your friends.

      Unless you make the mistake of insisting that their attention to you remain their highest priority – then no, the friendship won’t survive.

      But I am saying this from the perspective of someone who’s celebrated her friends’ kids’ birth, first birthdays, first days of school, college graduations, and everything in between. We’re all still friends, and getting to watch all these awesome 25 year olds launch? I can’t imagine anything better.

    7. MsChanandlerBong*

      My best friend (we’ve been friends for 23 years) and I are actually closer now that she has kids. Yes, things change. Instead of one long conversation per week, you might have to have two or three short ones because there’s a baby screaming in the background. But if your friend is truly a friend, she’ll find ways to stay in touch.

    8. GBBOfan*

      I didn’t really lose contact with a friend who gave birth a year ago, and we still remained friends. We contact each other via SMS, so the contact is low pressure and less of a need for immediate reply.
      I think you don’t have to plan so far ahead and immediately drop the friendship. Just see how it goes first. There are lots of types of mothers. Maybe your Friend will be the type who doesn’t want to have her entire day revolve around best diaper brand and the latest innovation in milk bottles, and would really love the chance to hear you talk about other things.

      1. irritable vowel*

        You make a really good point about different types of moms. I have one friend who has structured her life around her kids, and honestly has nothing else to talk about besides them (and she’s 1000% happy about that). I love her kids but am really, really not interested in hearing all the details of the kids’ friends, the kids’ friends’ parents, school politics, etc. But other mom friends are much more interested in talking about TV shows, politics, etc. – stuff that gives them a chance to not focus on their kids for a bit!

    9. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      I have a toddler and three of my closest friends that I talk to everyday are child free by choice and the third has long since raised her kid and is out living the awesome single life.

      We’re seeing yet another dear friend, also child free, today for brunch. This is a rarity for me, not because of the kid but because I have chronic health conditions that severely limit how much I can get out and about.

      I’d say at least half of my circles are child free, or in actual numbers, at least 20 friends are. Probably more. It takes me a while to count them up because I don’t divide them in my head as with or without children friends, they’re categorized along the lines of how close we are, what we enjoy doing together, geographical distances.

      Why does it work? We care about each other and accept each other the way we are. Those of us with kids have never judged those who would never want them, those who would never want them don’t act like my having kids is a stupid selfish thing to do. And they treat my kid like I’d treat their pet: as a cherished part of the family. I dote on their pets, they dote on my kid and dog and it all balances. We respect each other and do our best to be understanding of the limitations the new circumstances cause whether it’s someone’s anxiety about leaving their newly adopted pup or someone’s exhaustion and inability to be out after 8 pm. And we go the extra mile for each other. If I haven’t seen them in ages, I’ll do my best to make an effort to see them even if it screws with the kid’s nap time a bit, within reason. In turn, they respect our time and limits: if they cannot meet until late because of work, they come to us and have a beer on our sofa and we feed them dinner.

      That’s not to say nothing has changed, of course it has. I can’t talk on the phone the way I used to but I am now your number one text or DM correspondent. I write long and detailed emails and send photos frequently to those friends who appreciate that. I still send postcards and real letters. And with some friends, you need some ebb and flow. Sometimes you will grow apart, some parents struggle more than others and some friends don’t feel comfortable or know how to be part of that. Doesn’t mean you can’t grow close again after. For several years I was the non parent friend (at a time in my life when I definitely didn’t want them) and because the parent friend was struggling and didn’t confide in me, which was absolutely her right, we grew apart for a while. In the last few years, we’ve found a new way to be close again.

      Also there is of course the other category of friends we accommodate. We would never subject our friends who actually dislike kids to the JuggerBaby, instead maybe one of us will go to a concert with them or have drinks and the other will stay home and parent. We see them less because our lifestyle has changed so that it doesn’t match up to their “drink til 2 am and wake up at noon” style. That’s fine though. We enjoy them when we can.

      In the end, because I’ve had so many successful friendships with parents when I wasn’t one, and with child free friends when I did have my own, I feel like this is completely doable as long as you both flex with the changes. Your friend may need your support more after the kiddo is born, or may need you less. I don’t think there’s any way to predict that. But maybe talk to her about your hope that you’ll find a way to remain close instead of pre-mourning.

      I discussed this with one of the aforementioned close friends recently, she too had some trepidation about how my JuggerBaby would change our friendship during pregnancy, but while she didn’t discuss the fear with me before the birth, she was also willing to ride it out and see what happens. She never pulled away, and she was always supportive and in return, I try to always be supportive of her stresses.

      Being a parent adds more to my life but it doesn’t take away from the relationships I had before that were worthwhile and I hope it proves to be the same for you.

      1. Ruth*

        Oh hey, one of your friends! I would also say that this has worked—your baby’s been a change in your life, but we were friends for…what…6-7 years before baby arrived? I think if one has the skills already to manage a cross-country friendship (which we did), one can adapt them in order to handle a friendship with another life change. OC’s friendship has survived multiple states…so…might work?

        That said, relationships with other friends with kids have changed and not changed over the years. Sometimes the friends come back into one’s life after a few years of intensity. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they prioritize other things over friendship. Sometimes you meet someone who you prioritize over them. I would be sadder, writing this, but I’m happy for the friendships that have worked or resumed and for the new friendships I’ve built which don’t replace the ones I’ve lost exactly but are a new friendship!

        (If you really can’t stand kids, it might be an issue… but as Revanche says, it works with mutual respect.)

      2. anon needs help*

        Thank you for the very thoughtful response. She is a good friend of mine and truly a good person. I certainly try not to be judgmental of people who have kids – I think choosing to have kids can be “selfish” and I think choosing to not have kids can also be “selfish,” so it is ultimately a personal decision, but one that people just need to give a LOT of thought to. But otherwise, I understand where both sides are coming from.

        It’s great to hear that you have managed to maintain so many friendships with people who have kids and those who have remained to be childfree.

        Thank you for giving me hope!

    10. copy run start*

      I don’t have one, unfortunately. And we’re all in the same town. We all sorta tried, but as the kids started to walk and talk it seemed like we were only getting together for play dates and birthday parties for the children. Being single, I felt very alone at the birthday parties and I was spending money I didn’t have on gifts to be polite. And tagging along to play dates is just torture (I don’t like kids). So I stopped attending those things. And that’s when the friendships basically ended.

      I had a friend who has (as best as I can tell from the outside) maintained friendships with our friends who became parents, but she has always volunteered herself for free babysitting of the children. I don’t want to suggest they’re only still friends because of free babysitting thing, but I think it does help her stay connected with the parents’ lives and to connect with their children’s lives.

    11. Nanani*

      If your friendship is based on something mutual, as opposed to friendship of happenstance like being at the same job/school/life situation, then it should last. As others have stated, yes friends might take a back seat to baby, but that doesn’t mean losing your friend.

      If you are local, offer to come over for low key hanging out after the kid is asleep (like netflix and snacks, as opposed to going out), understand that plans may be dropped at the last second because of the kid, be flexible, and do NOT try to compete with the kid.

      1. Kate in Scotland*

        Totally agree with the low key hanging out. Luckily that’s more of my thing too, so I was pretty happy with that shift. It actually makes it easier that I don’t have kids, because I can go to them. Now the kids are getting older, it’s becoming easier to go out sometimes.

      1. DoDah*

        Yah–nope. I tried but found for the most part unless I was willing to act as co-parent for the outing–or offer consistent, free babysitting–the friendships would just ebb away.

        1. chickabiddy*

          Huh. I didn’t want any of my friends (and especially the ones who weren’t terribly fond of children) to take any role in actively “parenting” my child.

    12. LizH*

      Agree with both Nicole and Hellanon. My best friend of 40 plus years got married and had kids. My life took the single track, no kids. You do have to be flexible. However, I was invited to all the birthdays, graduations, etc. Seeing all their milestones was great. They are now grown young men with independent lives. I appreciated being included in all that. They are as dear to my as any of my own nephews. On the other hand, I have a friend who has a 22 year old daughter, and I can’t stand being around her. She is rude and disrespectful to her mom, and my friend never calls her on her behavior. She has a horrible attitude, and manages to sulk or have some type of tantrum which ruins any time we do spend together. Needless to say, I try to spend as little time as possible around her. Not any way for a young adult to be acting.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        It is the best of both worlds, really. I get to spend time with two awesome kids who love me, and then when they start getting salty, I leave. I get to do all the fun stuff–birthday parties, Christmas presents, outings to the zoo–and I don’t have to change diapers, stay up all night, or listen to bickering. :)

    13. Jen Erik*

      Other way round, but one of my best friends from school just came to my daughter’s wedding. (On her own merits: because my daughter wanted her there, not just for me.)
      To be fair, we did sort of lose touch for a while, but she moved continents for a bit, so not entirely the childrens’ fault.
      But she came back after we were through the boring baby phase (as in – we were boring about the babies: I’m sure the babies themselves were as interesting as babies ever are), and I think she’s vaguely enjoyed watching the children grow up, and I’ve very much enjoyed having a non-parent friend, who talks about non-parent things, and who spices up life by doing non-parental activities like staging operas, or drinking too much wine.

      (I know parents can stage operas as well: but my circle of parent friends don’t. I value her friendship immensely.)

    14. AnonMarketer*

      My best friend of 10+ years is pregnant. At first I was felt with a sense of betrayal and jealousy, but after a week, I realized the only thing I could do was be supportive of her, even though the baby was unexpected. As it was—friendship hasn’t changed that much. She’s still the most hilarious, geeky person ever.

    15. Mike C.*

      Yeah, all the time. Most of my college friends don’t have kids, most of my work friends do.

      Sure, the friendship changes and they’re going to be more busy and have limits on what and when they can do things, but that’s ok too.

      Sometimes you’re going to get the person who decides they’re going to completely shed their previous identity and talk about nothing but being a parent and that’s hard. But for most folks they’ll get really busy when the kids are young and so on.

      Stay in touch as you can, be a good friend and everything will usually be fine.

    16. Canadian Natasha*

      I have a success story! I’m single/no kids and my closest friend is married with toddler. We have successfully navigated the new baby addition (at least so far- her kid just turned 2 this summer). We became friends at a previous workplace a couple years before the baby and maintained our friendship after both leaving that office. We’ve kept up regular monthly get-togethers, at first with the pretext of a mini book club but they soon morphed into what we call cheese dates (watching cheesy t.v. or movies and taking turns providing a cheese-themed meal or snack). Between meet-ups we text quite frequently and we are also Facebook friends. Once she had the baby, we agreed to meet at her place to avoid baby-transport difficulties but kept up with our regular dates as much as possible. Sometimes she was really tired and she even fell asleep during movies once or twice. Totally understandable! There was definitely a time period where a lot of conversation revolved around baby and parenting topics and I had to bone up on my general knowledge of the issues. Some people might have been driven crazy by it but 2 things helped us during that time: 1) My friend was very self-aware that incessant baby talk could be annoying and made a point to ask if I was getting bored by it (I didn’t mind and I think I made a good conversation partner/sounding board because it wasn’t so personal for me. Mommy war stuff can be hellishly divisive when everyone talking has a stake in the issue!) and 2) We let things be low key when needed (for example, I didn’t expect her to be a big emotional support while she was dealing with sleepless nights because of newborn and she is okay keeping the conversation light-hearted and not ranty when I’m exhausted from work pressures)
      I also make a point of taking an interest in her child (I’m honorary crazy aunty) although I don’t spend tons of time with them. That’s just part of being a friend imo; we care about the important things in each other’s lives.

      tl;dr- Adding a baby to friendship can work as long as you are flexible and considerate of each other’s needs (which will vary at different times).

      1. DoDah*

        You are lucky. My former parent-friends are literally incapable of uttering a sentence that isn’t about baby.

    17. SafetyPin*

      Nope, I feel the same way as you. Not that I haven’t tried in the past, but since I don’t like kids to begin with, I really can’t get behind conversations being 95% pregnancy, babies, teething, etc.

    18. Oryx*

      I think a lot of it comes down to the foundation of the friendship. My best friend since middle school (so 25+ years at this point) has two kids, both under the age of 5. She lives a state away and we maybe see each other once a year if we’re lucky and talk rarely, but the history of our friendship and seeing each other through so much still holds up after all these years so when we do talk or see each other, nothing has changed. Likewise, I have a local friend I’ve known since college who also has two kids, both under the age of 5. We see each other fairly regularly and text frequently and I’ve even been a babysitter for her kids.

      Friendships drift apart for lots of reasons. The friendships I have lost have been with women who aren’t parents so I can’t blame that. Instead, we’ve just grown up and grown apart and didn’t have the foundation built to keep the relationship up as time went on.

      Sometimes, the parent v. childfree thing can be a red herring.

    19. neverjaunty*

      There are lots of success stories. But success is not really about the kids – it’s about your personalities. Are you the kind of friend who gets jealous or annoyed when your friends’ lives change so you’re not at the center of their world? Are they the kind of friend who gets swept up in whatever new thing is going on in their lives and only pays attention to you in between? If so, on either count, it’s not going to work. If, on the other hand, neither of you gets resentful or vanishes off the planet every time a job or hobby or romantic interest pops up, you should be able to weather the change of parenthood just fine.

      It depends, also, on how you both feel about parenthood. If you think people who have kids are stupid, selfish breeders, or they think “you’ll change your mind someday”, pretending otherwise isn’t going to wear well and you should move on.

    20. Not So NewReader*

      I think it gets easier as everyone in the story ages. There’s lots of reasons for that easing.
      I think it is wise to hold things in the best possible light, so if a friend drifts away then tell yourself that the two of you will reconnect in awhile. Hold the door open for a more active friendship in years to come.

    21. Library Director*

      It can be done. As others have mentioned, recognize that at first your friend’s world will literally revolve around the newborn. Your friendship can be a life saver by talking about low key things other than children. Nanani offered good suggestions about things you can share that don’t involve children or going out. Humor is a great friendship glue. When they were newborns used to read and nurse my sons. It would have been great to have someone to talk about these books. Later with a toddler it was the infancy of the public Internet (Prodigy member here) the Sci-Fi and other interests bulletin boards saved my sanity. Everyone else only wanted to talk about children, our children’s school, etc. You can be that person who is able to have an adult conversation about things that are mutually interesting.

    22. Marina*

      Maybe your friend’s child will discover a cure for breast cancer. Maybe write a great novel, maybe start an innovative business, maybe be a wonderful caring member of the human race. To question why someone wants a child in this world seems unnecessarily flippant to me.

      1. Victoria, Please*

        It’s not about what the child might do. It’s about what the world might do to the child. Climate change, war, pestilence, poverty, the kardashians… I am the same, one reason I never had children was because I didn’t want to impose my problems on an unsuspecting, unconsenting person. It’s a very personal choice and I don’t think ill in any way of people who do have children. It’s a very serious thing to do.

        1. anon needs help*

          Thanks Victoria, Please.

          Marina – Their kid could also be the next serial killer or rapist or career criminal, that’s not the point that I was trying to make… I totally understand why people want kids, but I think many of them ignore the real possibility and the risk… Having kids is a gamble and I hope people recognize that before they decide to bring a child into the world. That doesn’t mean I am criticizing or thinking negatively of them for deciding to have kids – it’s just my gut reaction goes to the thought of what a crummy world it is turning into when someone tells me they are pregnant.

          1. Honeybee*

            Everything we do is a gamble. Every time we enter a car, an airplane, step outside of our homes, even eat something we’re taking the risk that something might kill us.

            But I think people vastly overestimate these risks. And life is unfair, but if your friend lives in a developed nation with infrastructure and comes from a middle-class home their child probably won’t be very affected by war or pestilence or poverty. (And even for people who do live in those conditions…many still have the will to live and to push on, for hope for a better future for their people. And also probably lack good options to prevent pregnancy and childbirth anyway.)

            1. anon needs help*

              The gamble that I was referring to wasn’t just death and poverty. In fact, would argue that death is a better outcome than many other possibilities, after all it is inevitable… the gamble was that your child ends up being a career criminal or deals with severe mental health issues or resents you for being born. Then back to death, there is the risk that you will have to bury a child – car accidents, life-threatening illness in otherwise health people, it may be rare, but some parents outlive their kids, an absolute horrible situation and outcome, and there is no way to know which hand you will be dealt. Sure, your kid could ultimately be a well-adjusted adult who takes care of you when you are old, and the odds are in your favor that it will happen, but for me the risk of it not happening and what I have to lose is too high compared to the rewards.

              Anyway, I’m not interested in debating the validity of having kids. I’ve mentioned in the thread that I get why people have them, despite the gamble. It’s not for me and it’s just hard to be supportive when you can’t ignore the potential risks.

    23. Jessica (tc)*

      Absolutely! Yes, friendships can last through choices by either party that the other wouldn’t choose. For me, it seems like the keys have always been [1] no judging the other person’s choices (including whether or not to have children) and [2] having a relationship that has always generally been a two-way street over time. I can now usually tell if a friendship will continue through any big change like having children, moving 10 hours away, etc. by how the friendship has progressed over the long term anyway.

      True, the relationship may shift and change, but that’s the nature of relationships in general. People grow and change throughout life. :) I’m a by-choicer, although most of our friends have chosen to have children. It really depends on the friend and how they view the relationship, to be honest. If it always seemed like a two-way street (with both making an effort), then the relationship tends to last. One of my closest friends had a rough pregnancy and birth experience, and she was worn out after her child was born. Even though we live about 8 hours away, we could tell she just needed support, so we drove down to ostensibly “see the new baby,” but she realized that we were there for her and to support her at that moment. We’ve always had a relationship of support, back and forth, so it was natural. We’ve vacationed together several times since then, and having a kid added to the relationship just adds another dimension to your friendship. We still talk about everything, though, so the friendship is still a fully formed relationship in itself, just with bonuses (our husbands now and her child).

      On the other side, we had a friend who didn’t understand our choice, which wasn’t a problem until they had kids. Even though we made an effort to reach out and hang out, it was never, ever reciprocated at any point. No phone calls, emails were one sentence, if we ever had a response at all. Although I understand that there is a lot of changes in a friendship after the birth of a child, I’d been through it before and know that people tend to make time for what’s important to them. My other friend (above) made time when she could to shoot me a short email telling me what was going on in her life and how her kid was progressing with different things, but this particular friend could only send emails that basically said, “Your email is too long, so I don’t have time to read it.” My email was five sentences long and asked mainly about they and their family were doing. If I was regularly writing emails to this person, I’d get it, but I hadn’t heard from them or emailed in months, so I just wanted to check in. This was the breaking point for me, so I just stopped checking in and it died a natural death. When I did the normal friendship postmortem, I realized that it had always been like that. For every five or ten contacts to that person, I might get one, measly response back with little-to-no interest in my actual life. Everything was always about them, so I think it would have fizzled out around the same point even if they hadn’t had children. If you’re the only one making an effort for the life of a friendship, any major change is going to highlight those problems.

    24. NM Anon*

      My best friend has two kiddos and we are still close, even though we don’t live in the same state. We keep in touch via phone calls, texting, email and Facebook. Every time we are able to get together, things are like they were in high school. I’m an auntie to the kids. I dislike children in general, but since they are part of her life, and I would like her to be part of mine, they are now part of mine. Soon, I’ll be back and we’ve planned an outing and yes, the kiddos are coming. I’m planning to make them little activity bags to help keep them occupied :) hopefully they behave, crying and screaming drives me crazy. Lol

    25. Stellaaaaa*

      It really depends. I find that if you want to maintain the friendship, the childfree person has to do a lot more compromising than the parent. It’s fair from the outside, since an adult shouldn’t choose to have children that she is not willing to prioritize. But it definitely sucks for the childfree person to have the other friend introduce a new element into your relationship that you had no choice over.

      Usually the only good advice is to wait a few years until the kids are starting to function as independent people. But that can be lousy for you too, because it means that you’re waiting stuck twiddling your thumbs while your friend does something that she perceives as being more important than her friendship with you. Plus there’s a fair bit of societal messaging that would tell her you’re a jerk for ditching her to find new friends that are more on your page/level.

      I think the answer you’re looking for is that you wouldn’t be a bad person if you eventually decided you couldn’t be flexible enough to be friends with someone who has young children.

    26. TL -*

      My best friend’s first baby is about 3 months now. Things are okay! There’s a lot of baby talk but she makes a good effort to ask about my life and keep in touch. I make a good effort to be sympathetic and interested in her baby.
      We’re texting people and that helps a lot. I don’t think I’m in any danger of losing her – I was worried at first but she’s still the person I’ve been friends with for a really long time. Just be flexible and kind and if they’re you’re friend, they’ll probably do the same for you.

    27. Honeybee*

      Well, I think it depends on how you define “true friendship” and how much you are willing to do.

      Two of my closer friends are the same age as me and have children. Yes, they are busy with their kids. But there are things you can do to remain friends with friends with children. First, help them out! They’re going to be exhausted the first couple months, so bringing by food, giving them space, offering to help them with runs to the grocery store or whatever else. But even if you don’t do that, acknowledge that if you do get any hanging out time it’s often going to be at home with baby on board. I spent a lot of time with my cousin (one of my closest friends) just at home with her and her daughter, talking and laughing while the baby played or crawled around or whatever.

      My two friends’ kids are older now, and one of the things that works a lot is giving them time to plan. When we go out they have to arrange for childcare, so advanced notice is really necessary. Spontaneous things don’t happen as often, but when they plan we can have fun.

      But I think there is a point at which you have to recognize that the relationship simply won’t be the same. That doesn’t mean it’ll be over for good; it’ll just be different. They’ve got other priorities…and that’s totally fine.

    28. Connie-Lynne*

      My BFF of 20 years (now 30) and I totally managed it. Yeah, sometimes I had to make a bigger effort to shift my schedule, and we’d have to do kid friendly things for a while, but not always.

      Similarly, some good but isolated friends here had a kid, and it’s a delight to visit them. The mom, who went SAHM when they had their kid, brought me food when I was sick even! We now live about an hour apart but both sets of us make an effort to get together. Again, sometimes the kid has to come, but not always.

      I think if you value each other enough to make extra effort, it works out. If you don’t, or you just don’t wanna be around kids, well, it’s harder.

    29. sarakg*

      My best friend since we were 12 has a 5yo and 2.5yo. We see each other around once a month and text lots between that. Usually, she’s most happy to get out away from kiddos, but I also will sometimes help with gaps in childcare. Like last week, she had to go out a couple hours before her husband got home from work. I went and hung out with her and the kids for a couple hours, then she left and it was just me and the monkeys. Works really well.

      When the kids were little, when she was on mat leave (for a year each time), I often had strange weekends (like Tues/Wed) so would go on adventures with them. More so with the older one, as she didn’t know as many people that had weekday availability.

      Our friendship has definitely changed, but we still have a lot in common besides the past and genuinely love spending time together when we can. We’re hoping to get away for a couple days sometime on a girls’ trip, which we haven’t done since before she had kids.

    30. the.kat*

      My best friend’s daughter will be two soon. She and I have been best friends since college and our friendship made it through a few challenges. We’ve both moved, taken new jobs, she got married, etc. I think the reason our friendship survived is because we both had the long view of things. Having children didn’t change what we liked best about each other and we worked together to make time for it.

      It meant that we had sleepovers at her house on her schedule, playing games late after the baby was in bed or doing child friendly things (some of which I thought I would hate and ended up enjoying). It also meant that we talked on the phone a lot. She found that when the baby was sleeping was a great time to chat. We also had child-free dates, set up on her schedule when she needed to get away. You might find yourself bending over backwards a little, especially at first, but if you both want to stay friends, having a baby won’t change much.

    31. Jackie*

      Yes. Friendships can survive life changes. You have to be open to the changes. My bff from high school and I have kept in contact through 50+ years. She married first and had kids in her early 20s. I married much later and had kids in my late 30s. When her kids left the nest we had more time for each other until her grandkids came. She’s a person who loves babies and kids so her priority was being with the grandkids. Now that her oldest grandkid is 12 she is starting to want to meet for lunches and dinners again. It’s really nice to have someone in your life who knew your parents, siblings, and your younger self. We have never forgot one another’s birthdays throughout the years. Just one of the ways we tell each other we care.

    32. Anonymous Educator*

      Talking weekly seems like a lot to me, for some reason.

      My spouse and I have one mutual friend we talk to or hang out with maybe every two weeks, and that’s by far our closest friend! Some friends have definitely drifted further from us since becoming parents, but others have stayed relatively close. I guess I’ve just gotten old enough that what constitutes closeness has changed. In high school and college, I considered a close friend someone I talked to or saw almost every day. Then, it was friends I saw every three to six months. Then, it was friends I saw every couple of years. Now, there are some friends I’m very “close” to that I don’t see for years at a time and other “friends” I see every few weeks or every couple months that I’ve never had a deep conversation with and wouldn’t necessarily trust with our cats.

      I’d say just take it as it comes. Yes, it can be depressing to see a friend’s priorities shift, but that’s just the way it’s going to go sometimes. Other times, it won’t… or the shift will be only temporary.

    33. MindoverMoneyChick*

      I am many years into being child-free and trying to maintain friendships with my parent friends and I have 2 success stories. First was my best friend from high school. We talked every day in high school, 3 times a week in college then once every two weeks in grad school when I moved away. She married and had her kids young by today’s standard – 26 when she had her first. I figured I would just keep up our schedule but call after 9:00 when the kids were in bed. Now I’m not sure I’d do that again, because I hear how tired parents are. But I didn’t know that yet, and she picked up the phone and talked to me. Over time as we got older and busier it slipped to once a month then once every two months. But I don’t think it had to, we just both got lazy. Now we are both 48 years old – she has two in college. We still talk for 2 hours straight when we do get on the phone. And I keep planning to be more diligent about upping the frequency of our calls but I get lazy.

      Number 2 is my good friend from grad school. She had four kids (now mostly teenagers) and a demanding full time job. Our friendship did have to change – we used to go out dancing, skiing etc. Now I go hang out with her on Sunday afternoons while family activity whirls around us, or go to her kid’s basketball game and chat through it. Or Friday night the younger kids were out with Dad and we got dinner and then hung out at her place for hours talking. It helps that I love her kids.

      Now that doesn’t mean nothing changed. There have been ups and downs. And I did have to create a circle of child-free friends to round out my social life. I went through no small amount to angst over friendships in general in my mid-30s. But I did create a satisfying social life over time to fill in the gaps and now I am very satisfied.

    34. Cordelia Longfellow*

      Three of my best friends have had kids during our relationships, and a fourth is a single mom of a seven-year-old, and it hasn’t been an issue at all. I’m single and do not want kids of my own, but I very much enjoy being an auntie to my friends’ sprogs. When they’re little, I do find it’s easier to hang out at the new parents’ place, and as they get to be a bit more mobile and into the toddler years, I make an effort to find kid-friendly places to hang out. But my friends also enjoy a break from the kidlets, so we still get to have one-on-one time.

    35. Maya Elena*

      THIS world is a sight better than many a world in times foregone. You say in another reply that you don’t mind kids, but if you are a teensy weensy bit judgmental of her… Maybe that’s the barrier you’ll have to overstep instead of preemptively burying the friendship….

    1. Jessica (tc)*

      Yes, so much. I want to go squoosh my own cream tortie whenever I see these adorable pics of Eve. (She would hate that, though, so I don’t. She’s not a hugger, and I can respect that.)


  2. Amber Rose*

    Yesterday I spent three hours swinging a 4 foot long sword. Or rather, it swung me. Try and wave rebar around and you’ll see what I mean.

    Today my lower back just refuses to move properly. I have six more hours of long sword to get through. I hate that I’m in my 20’s and feel like I’m in my 80s. The worst part is, my teacher IS in his 80’s, and he hits like a mack truck.

    Sephiroth gave child me very unrealistic expectations for the use of long swords. Just drawing the damn thing forces you to be an Olympic gymnast.

    1. Gene*

      You’re using muscles you don’t normally use in ways you’ve never used them. Feeling that way is perfectly normal.

      One thing to remember, no death grip! You’ll tire less and have better control with a gentle grip. Sounds counterintuitive, but it’s true.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Nope, Eastern. We have some HEMA guys in the group though. It’s quite literally a 4 foot katana.

        In order to draw from the sheath and cut, I have to basically do the splits and lean out over one leg. While screaming. It’s a hell of an art.

    1. AnAppleADay*

      Aww. This photo made my chuckle. She’s obviously very comfortable with her life. She also looks curious like she’s sniffing something out getting ready to reach her paw out.

      I’m saving up for the $500 “pet fee” and $50 “change to lease” fee so my son and I can get a rescue cat. We both keep having dreams about two older kittens. It’s weird that we both are. We really want a mature, house trained cat and can only get one at a time since the pet deposit is so expensive.

      Love the weekend cat photos! It’s the first thing I look for.

      1. Jessica (tc)*

        That’s the biggest downfall to having a cuddle-bug. We had a hard time finding a good place to live that allowed us to have our cat, but that was also affordable. We love our place now, though, so they are out there.

        And hooray for adopting senior kitties! We adopted our Rosie as a senior cat, and we love her. She had some quirks from her former home (we think she was kicked, and although we know there were dogs in that household, she’s actually afraid of dogs and has a LOT of food anxieties because of that issue), but once we figured out how she ticked, she’s been the most loving member of the family–I think, in part, because we took the time to make her comfortable in the ways that she craved. We just love her so much!

        1. Camellia*

          I think she means the fees are for her apartment, to add a pet to the lease and the deposit, which is usually nonrefundable.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          I think that’s an apartment/rental deposit fee, not an adoption fee. They typically want something like a security deposit to cover any damage a pet may cause.

        3. EmmaLou*

          My complex also now charges monthly rent on top of the $300 non-refundable deposit. :| We haven’t got a pet but goodness that’s a lot.

  3. Sparkly Librarian*

    For others who get satisfaction from making and completing lists, I’d like to recommend the 101 Things in 1001 Days approach. (I use the setup at DayZeroProject.com, but of course you can keep your list anywhere.) Personally, I don’t like the idea of a Bucket List, and 5-year plans make me anxious, so this smaller option — see how many of your chosen items you can complete in about 3 years — works better for me. They can be frivolous goals, life milestones, reminders of self-care or self-improvement… whatever you choose.

    1. Susiecq*

      I. Love. Lists.

      Now I don’t know whether to curse you or bless you because now I have to do this!

  4. GBBOfan*

    I wonder if this would count as still vaguely work related, but I had been watching The Great British Bakeoff a while back and suddenly wondered if the contestants ever got questioned by HR. Because a lot of them seem to have non culinary related jobs. Would say, I dunno, former teapot warehouse assistant manager try to apply for leave to take part in GBBO, and then get asked why they have career aspirations not related to Teapot Storage, if they are planning to quit if they win… And get fired for basically getting selected to join GBBO.
    Horribly depressing though, but I just wondered.

    1. Overeducated*

      I always wonder that about reality show contestants in general. Can’t recall everyone from GBBO but the season I watched did have some people who.sounded like they were self employed or in family businesses.

    2. Aurora Leigh*

      I love that show! We don’t get enough of it in the US. Don’t they only film on weekends? I’m pretty sure they go home and practice and stuff between episodes. So they wouldn’t need time off work really. And I think it’s more of an “I have a hobby that I’m awesome at” thing than an actual career thing . . . you could probably try to launch your own business off success on the show, but they don’t actively help the winner set up a new career.

      1. periwinkle*

        There are… ways to watch the show if you’re in the U.S. and have already memorized the barebones offerings from Netflix and PBS. A little Googling will find streaming sources – just make sure you have your malware detectors running and don’t click on any “helpful” installation links, of course.

        On the one hand I’d love to try out for a U.S. version. On the other hand, I’m positive a U.S. version would be twisted into the usual backstabbing, “I’m not here to make friends”, fame-seeker-infested mess in which contestants are spared from elimination if they’re truly horrible people because “viewers love drama.” No we don’t. If we want to see toxic jerks get ahead by lying and bullying, there’s a place called “work” for that. Sigh.

        Enough of that. Once I finish my homework for the weekend it’s time to make sugar cookies and watch a bit of series 2.

          1. Jessica (tc)*

            I don’t want a U.S. version; I just want more series of the GBBO to stream here. I love that I can root for almost all of the bakers, because they are almost all pretty likeable people. They help each other out when they have time and share resources, which I think would be ruined if the U.S. tried to make a version of it (just from past experiences of reality shows that have been remade on our side of the pond).

          2. Nina*

            No, it definitely didn’t. There was more manufactured drama, and the cooks didn’t display the same skill as their British counterparts. The latter was probably due to the rushed production. You could tell these people could bake, but with the shortened time frame (the show ran about five weeks iirc) it didn’t give them the chance to really work on the pastries properly.

            I haven’t seen the American version with Jeff Foxworthy, but I heard that one was pretty good.

    3. Audiophile*

      I’ve always wondered how reality show contestants get time off, especially since most of these shows take so long to shoot. But since so many of them are actors or self-employed or business owners, it likely isn’t too much of a problem. I can’t really think of any high profile examples or someone appearing on a reality show and then getting axed.

      Maybe someone else can?

      1. Irish Em*

        Mary Byrne worked in Tesco’s until she got through to the live finals of X-Factor a few years ago – but Tesco’s really got behind her because it was free publicity for them every time she spoke of where she came from. And I’m fairly sure her not working there post-X-Factor was more because she got into music professionally than from their wanting her gone. *shrugs*

    4. Kittens*

      I work weekends at a restaurant with a celebrity chef (think Top Chef All-Stars) and have known many many chefs who have done shows like this. For shows where the contestant is already a professional, they just take leaves of absence. The restaurants will highly encourage this because it means $$$$$ once the show airs.

      My fiance works in entertainment, and usually for the reality shows they’ll shoot nights/weekends, plus there’s a ton of movie magic involved so oftentimes it seems like they’re away from work forever when really the whole thing was shot in 3 days so very little work has to be missed. I do always wonder about shows like the Bachelor, but I’m pretty sure they just have work flexibility? Or they’ve taken leave?

      1. Audiophile*

        I figured the culinary industry was on board for cooking shows, for all the reasons you mentioned.

        I wondered about shows like Fear Factor, back when it used to air but most of those contestants were actors or working in the entertainment industry.

        The Bachelor would definitely take long, if you progressed beyond the first or second rose ceremony.

        1. MsChanandlerBong*

          There was a big uproar when a teacher from my hometown was on “The Bachelor.” Lots of people squawking about how she’s not a good role model. When she came back from the show, she took a sabbatical, but she ended up leaving the district a few months later. I always wondered if she was forced out or left because she wanted to.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          One of my coworkers at an old job told me to watch an episode of Fear Factor–her friend was on it. The friend won that one, too. I did watch but had to leave the room when they forced her to eat live, whole snails–shell and all. NOPE.

      2. Lizketeer*

        I have friend who was on The Bachelorette, but his work was basically freelancing so he just took a break while filming, and went back to it once the show was over

      3. Liane*

        A friend, Aragorn, from my church was on The Quest, a fantasy themed reality show that I wish would return.
        He told the congregation after he was chosen for the cast. That show kept everyone on site for the entire shoot, over weeks, because they built the castle and all.
        Aragorn told us that he didn’t even know exactly where he was going beyond the state it was in; the contestants were given GPS coordinates only, so they could drive there. He also told me, after he was allowed, that if/when he got eliminated, he would most likely end up working with the hordes of BBEGs. I thought that was cool.

    5. phil*

      My reality tv show of choice is RuPaul’s Drag Race, which is filmed over the course of about 3 weeks. During filming, the contestants are sequestered in their hotel when they’re not in the studio, and forbidden outside visitors or to access the Internet. This has led to a fan culture activity of monitoring the Instagram/Facebook/twitter feeds as well as booking schedules for drag queens all across America, trying to figure out which queens have radio silence during the 3 summer weeks of filming. Which has also led to contestants arranging to have friends manage their internet presence, re-posting old vacation photos as new ones, and other tactics, all in the name of keeping the secret.

      As far as jobs, most of the more experienced contestants are freelancers, and the gigging fees they give up to participate are seen as not comparable to the value of the exposure being on America’s premiere drag queen reality television contest will net them. But yeah, some have come from jobs that they’ve just quit in order to appear on the show and follow their dream.

    6. brightstar*

      I’ve recently become obsessed with GBBO. As others have mentioned, they only film on the weekends so it doesn’t interfere with the contestants jobs. Plus, since this season’s premiere beat viewership for the Olympics, that probably helps as well.

      I do wish they’d air the show here in sequence with England and have more seasons available.

      1. Nye*

        I really like the weekends-only filming schedule! It seems much more conducive to having contestants with a wide variety of professions, rather than only free-lancers/professional reality TV contestants. Plus it gives them time to plan and practice their bakes for each week, which I think leads to a much nicer result than a constant string of just-announced challenges. Seems like it would level the playing field a bit more for folks who are very skilled bakers, but not so good at coming up with things on the fly.

        Just one of the many things GBBO does that make it a much more enjoyable program than most reality TV contestants shows. Now I want to bake!

        Also: the new season has started in the UK, and it’s off to a promising start!

          1. copy run start*

            You just reminded me of the time I walked from Gate A to Gate G the loooong way at MSP….

          2. SophieChotek*

            I agree. Both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 at MSP are not bad airports to travel in/out of or be stuck in, if one must be.

            I don’t mind Amsterdam Schiphol if one is not crazily running to get to the next flight.

          1. MillersSpring*

            Long Beach is nice. Orange County, Calif, Greenville, SC, and Savannah, Ga. are all very nice. I love Dallas-Ft. Worth unless you have to make a connection at a different terminal. Atlanta is the friggin worst.

            1. SusanIvanova*

              Atlanta’s got lots of things to do to kill time, though. San Jose is boring.

              They need Pokestops, though.

            2. EmmaLou*

              We loved Atlanta. Only been once but it was so calm and open (We were going to and coming from La Guardia.)

            3. Christopher Tracy*

              Atlanta is the friggin worst.

              I second this. Closely followed by Philly International.

              1. Library Director*

                +1 on Atlanta and Philly. When ever I fly 99% of the time I have to change in Atlanta. The flight time from my home airport to Atlanta is 30 minutes, but you never know if you’ll make the connection due to over booking of the number of flights in and out of the airport. My husband once missed his flight and he had a scheduled 3 hour layover in Atlanta.

                We liked it when we could change in Memphis. Other than Huntsville being the most expensive airport in the US it’s a very nice. Everyone from gate agent to the TSA folks are are polite and considerate.

                1. Christopher Tracy*

                  I’ve only had one layover in Atlanta, and will never have another one if I can help it. I was coming in from LAX and my flight was really late and I had no clue where my gate in ATL was going to be, so I tried to ask someone for help, and everyone working there was so rude and slow about pointing me in the right direction. I got to my gate five minutes before takeoff and needless to say, I was not amused.

                  And every single flight I’ve ever taken out of Philly has been delayed for hours – every single one. Why? Why?!

          2. periwinkle*

            I love Long Beach! The exterior is so 1940s film noir. Unfortunately Alaska stopped flying there and I’d have to route through SLC to get there via Delta. Ugh. So instead I fly into SNA which is efficient and booooring.

            MSP is my favorite for layovers because I can restock at The Body Shop (Satsuma body wash!) and dine at the restaurants in the Delta area with at-seat ordering/payment. I rather like DTW because there is, of all things, a Hello Kitty store (it’s a Delta hub for connections to Asia). SLC has nice views and Millcreek Coffee Roasters makes a pretty decent latte. (yes, I fly Delta a lot and have spent a lot of layover time at these three…)

            STL is boring beyond words. The highlight of STL is that there’s a Dunkin Donuts, which I’ve missed since moving from the East Coast to Seattle (no Dunkin here). I loathe MCO with all the fire in my soul. My next two planned trips take me to DFW and ATL – I’ve never been to Hartsfield so that’ll be an adventure.

            1. Florida*

              I just think it’s funny that you loathe MCO with all the fire in your soul. I like it, but only because it’s my home airport. When I get off a plane at MCO, I know I’m thirty minutes from being in my own bed. If that wasn’t the case, I’m not sure how I’d feel about it.

              1. Red*

                I don’t mind arriving at MCO, because I go to Orlando for theme parks :) But leaving … holy god, in a city that’s made queuing an art form, how can their TSA line be such a complete cattle call mess?

            2. Searching*

              I love Long Beach too! Such a nostalgic feel to it. And small airports are easier to get in and out of.

            1. fposte*

              Yes, this was not the result I had expected–but it’s kind of nice to hear how many people have airports they like.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                Yeah, it did not seem to go in the direction you were heading. It makes me smile- funny and endearing at the same time.

        1. Mike C.*

          SEA, but that’s only because I know I’m home. I would like to fly out of PAE for the novelty once though.

          1. periwinkle*

            Commercial flights are (allegedly) coming to Paine! Can’t imagine anything bigger than maybe one of the bigger Bombardier Dash 8 for regular service there, but then again, the runways can handle all the heavy stuff.

          2. Windchime*

            I love SEA as well. Free wifi (which is surprisingly rare) and I love the northwest decor. And, of course, it means that I’m home.

        2. Awkward Interviewee*

          I actually love IND (Indianapolis). Hands down my favorite. It’s well designed. Lots of windows, security is always really quick and easy (and the TSA staff is actually friendly!), luggage comes out fast.

          DCA is my least favorite – I fly southwest whenever possible and the terminal A gate area packs you in like sardines! Collecting baggage is also a slow and crowded experience.

          1. Awkward Interviewee*

            I’ve only flown in/out of Love Field once, but I really liked it! There was a little art gallery to wander through to help pass the time, and I got to have whataburger for lunch before boarding.

            1. Samantha*

              It’s small, it’s clean, nice art, good dining options…I fly out of Love whenever I can!

              1. Kate*

                We recently flew out of Love Field after not having been there in quite some time. They’ve made some great restaurant additions. And there’s even a little play area for the kids. Love love!

          2. pony tailed wonder*

            I like the Texas Ranger statue at Love. It makes me think of those ‘you must be this tall to ride this ride signs’.

          3. Elizabeth West*

            DFW has a super-fast train that’s easy to access–it saved my bacon when I left my wallet on a plane. When I got to my connecting gate, I realized what I’d done and went straight to the gate agent. I still had my boarding pass and was able to tell them what seat I had been in. They called the other gate, where they were still tidying up the plane, and I hopped on the train back to the other terminal. The flight attendant met me there with my wallet. Yay! Then I hopped on the train again and went back to my gate. I missed my flight, but they just got me on the next one, so I only had to wait an hour. (Thanks, American!)

            I don’t like many airports. I do like Terminal 5 at LHR, though; I ate at Gordon Ramsay’s Plane Food and it has lots of lovely shops. The tiny airport in my city doesn’t have anything good to eat. :( But at least it’s very tiny, so you can go pee and make it back to your gate without running a marathon. Its decorating theme is “Ozarks Waterways,” so the carpet looks like water, there are fish shapes hanging from the ceiling, etc. My ex called it the Aquarium. :)

        3. Former Diet Coke Addict*

          I had a layover at the renovated Detroit Metro airport earlier this month. It was delightful! For an airport, I mean, but still! Spacious, clean, relatively quiet, outlets that worked, good food choices (Chik-Fil-A? In an airport? And Pinkberry? Sure!), and a neat little train right above everything that takes you all along the looooong terminal. And a very funky connecting tunnel as well.

          I’m also pretty fond of O’Hare, but I’ve flown there a zillion times so I know where everything is and all the good places to eat and sit. Definitely not keen on Newark (horror show) and my least favourite airport of all time, ever, Pearson Airport. I have literally never once had a good experience there and odds are good that something awful happens every time. Lost luggage, canceled flights, delayed flights, 3+ hour lineups at security or immigration control, you name it, it’s happened.

          1. So Very Anonymous*

            I love renovated DTW! I secretly like O’Hare too as long as I can arrange for enough of a layover that I don’t worry about connecting flights. I love that tunnel with the rainbow-colored lights.

            I also like Madison’s airport, because it’s small, super-easy to navigate, and easy to drive in and out of. It also means Mom’s home cooking is imminent. :)

        4. AusAnon*

          Singapore airport is awesome. Well organised with lots to do. Last time I went through I had a 7 hour wait and I had a massage, went to the cinema and chilled in the butterfly garden, all within the terminal.

          1. DeadQuoteOlympics*

            I love Singapore too! They have a hotel in the airport where you can book for 6 hours at a time, and they are tiny, like train compartments, but after a transpacific flight with a long layover, the ability to have a shower and lie down even for a little while made me sob with joy. And if you can’t get one of the rooms, you can pay for a just a hot shower and stand under it as long as you want. I think they have a sauna too.

            1. migrant worker*

              Incheon has a spa in the basement – I think it was 20$ for the entrance fee and there are places to sleep, dry saunas, and a jacuzza. Basically a mini Korean spa. :)

              1. Hattie McDoogal*

                Yes! That place was amazing. I had something like a 15 hour layover in Incheon and I was able to take a shower and have a little nap before taking the train (station right in the airport, natch) into the city for a few hours. It was 5 years ago and my husband and I still wax rhapsodic about it — usually while stuck in some vastly inferior airport (“Remember Incheon?” *sigh*).

        5. AdAgencyChick*

          I like SFO. It has great (if ruinously expensive) food and enough gate seating that I’ve never had trouble finding a place to sit down before my flight.

          Recently took a vacation that included a stop in HKG and omigod the char siu was off-the-charts amazing. I would like to go back to Hong Kong just to eat more char siu. (The rest of the airport can suck it, though — I felt like we walked MILES from one gate to the other!)

          NYC airports, on the other hand, are terrible.

        6. Bex*

          John Wayne / Orange County. It’s lovely and spacious, TSA is always easy and there is rarely more than a 10 minute line (at worst). Really good food options.

      1. Clever Name*

        I honestly love the Denver airport. It’s enormous and takes forever to get to, but it’s really very well run and easy to find where you’re going.

        1. Awkward Interviewee*

          Interesting, DIA is on my list of least favorites. Security lines were long, and once I almost missed a connection because it took so long to get between my two gates. (They were in two different terminals – I have no idea why, as they were booked as connecting flights. Not sure if the airline or airport dropped the ball on that one.)

        2. Clever Name*

          The path rooms smell like pine trees! There’s a special carousel for your skis! (I live here and don’t even ski, so I’d have absolutely no reason to be flying with skis, but I still love it. Their Twitter feed is also expertly curated and handled.

        3. Beezus*

          I got stuck in DIA for over 8 hours once (and in Denver overnight) when a storm in Chicago coincided with a storm in Atlanta and futzed a lot of people’s travel plans up. The thing that impressed me was their handling of lines and flights the next morning when a lot of people had rescheduled flights. Security lines were LONG (way way back into baggage claim), but they kept them moving really swiftly and kept planes taking off, and it seemed to go pretty smoothly!

        1. Me2*

          Voted best airport in America for the fourth year in a row. Only wish they hadn’t taken the Powell’s out of the concourses.

      2. Amadeo*

        Heh, I am not in airports very often. Actually, I’m in airports very seldom, but I always feel the urge to moo, loudly, as I shuffle along behind people.

    1. Kittens*

      O’Hare! Best restaurants/stores/walkability. I like to get there super early and get magazines/eat/veg out/have a beer, so I appreciate all the options.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        I just went to O’Hare for the first time a few weeks ago. I hated it. There is no handicapped access to the shuttle between terminals, so I nearly keeled over walking down two flights of stairs and up two flights of stairs to get from Terminal A to Terminal C.

        1. Kittens*

          Oh wow! That sucks, I’m sorry. I’m a big walker so it’s perfect for me, but yeah that’s no good.

        2. Amadeo*

          I’ve only spent time in O’Hare in the international terminal – terminal 5? They had next to nothing to do to pass the time on this side of security and then basically a soda stand on the other side of security. I was not impressed.

          1. Kate in Scotland*

            Yeah I’d flown through the domestic terminals a few times and had a nasty surprise at how little there was to do/eat in international!

          1. Dot Warner*

            +1. I have a flight delay/cancellation every single time I fly through ORD. I’ll actually pay extra to avoid flying through that dump.

      2. Windchime*

        OMG I hate O’Hare. If you want to be guaranteed to miss your connecting flight, book it for O’Hare. We actually recommend to people at our workplace to avoid Chicago at all costs and change planes in Minneapolis if at all possible because O’Hare has been so unreliable.

    2. Tris Prior*

      KC is the only airport where I ALWAYS get pulled aside for additional searching. I guess I must look shifty to them. One time, they were extremely suspicious of my eyeshadow. This doesn’t happen to me anywhere else.

      1. Lindsay J*

        LAX made everyone pull all of their electronics out of their bags yesterday.

        Actual TSA rule is that laptops have to be pulled out. Laptops and smaller electronics can stay in. So I had my laptop nice and accessible. Other electronics not so much. Highly annoying.

    3. Mazzy*

      It’s fine until you go through the gates. Then there is basically nothing there. I made the mistake of getting to the airport way too early there expecting a newsstand or restaurant or something, but there was just one snack stand.

        1. Merida Ann*

          Yes, it is still like that – and because of the way it’s built, it will remain that way until they eventually rebuild it as a single terminal. Which is… Well, the soonest it could happen would be around 2021-ish. It’s great for getting through security quickly, but, yeah, there’s definitely nothing to do once you get through security. And not much to do *before* security, either, frankly. The terminal buildings’ current layouts just don’t give any options.

      1. YaH*

        Agree, and that snack kiosk is obscenely overpriced- like $8 for a cheese sandwich, $4 for a coke. It’s the weirdest laid-out airport I’ve ever been to as well.

        I like Nashville/BNA a lot. There’s a law? rule? ordinance? that the in-airport food is not allowed to have a higher price than what you’d pay out of the airport, so it’s very traveler-friendly with a ton of restaurants and a food court and several little stores.

    4. Ellie H.*

      What’s wrong with it? It’s small and easy and low key. Kinda like the old days of flying.

      I don’t mind the Baltimore airport because there’s so much there. Philadelphia is ok too. Least favorites so far would probably be Midway and MSY.

      When I smoked I thought the smoking rooms in European airports were so cool. Amsterdam has this section that looks like a small jungle or garden or something and the smoking room was in the same style. I also liked the small Eastern European airports where you go down the stairs (staircar) to the tarmac and can pretend like you’re in the 70’s.

      1. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

        +1 to Midway

        That always seems to be my layover spot with Southwest, and it is ATROCIOUS. Never enough seating, poorly laid out…just bad bad bad.

    5. Beezus*

      I hate the bathrooms at LAX. They’re not big enough to roll a standard upright bag into, and the doors open inward, so if you DO manage to yank your bag in with you, good luck getting it and yourself back out.

  5. Overeducated*

    I did not actually realize how much different a move 400 miles is from the move 60 miles i made 2 years ago. The climate is noticeably different (and not in a direction i like, sadly). Can’t drive an hout to see old friends, though fortunately we are a bit closer to some others. We just spent an insane amount on movers, so our new place is piled high with boxes. I have to replace or buy tons of house stuff that had to get left behind or isn’t provided here, kid starts new day care Monday, and I start new job Thursday.

    I HOPE THIS IS NOT A GIANT MISTAKE! I dragged my family so far, I hope I am good at my job! Eek!

      1. Overeducated*

        Thanks! I look forward to things cooling down sooner or later…though with record hot weather this year, who knows when!

    1. Nicole*

      I feel for you. Having lived in the same general area for 40 years, I would like to move across the country someday but I’m worried about the change in climate and scenery. I plan to do lots of research ahead of time including visiting the areas of interest first.

      I think it will take time for you to adjust to everything… or maybe you will never like it. All I can suggest is you give it time to see whether it’s just being overwhelmed by the changes or something more. It doesn’t have to be permanent if it turns out you really can’t adapt. Good luck!

      1. Overeducated*

        Thanks! The job itself may not last forever and my spouse is also going to be on the market again in a year or two, so it is probably temporary, which made the decision to relocate easier in a way. But I hope we do grow to like it and find ways to stay if we want to. This new area does have a lot of job opportunities.

    2. First Initial dot Last Name*

      It’s not a giant mistake unless you convince yourself it is. If you like where you moved then you’ll be willing to take time and make an effort to settle in and make it work. On the other hand if you think you know going in that it’s temporary then you may find yourself resenting it a bit, not digging in, not making friends, not finding the resources you want and need.

      I moved my household 3000 miles for grad school, there have definitely been times when I though to myself, “Holy hell what have I done?” We’re in a place we do not want to stay any longer than absolutely necessary and I think that has definitely colored our experience here. I’ve since graduate and I am CONSTANTLY working on getting us back into our home time zone.

      3000 miles is a long way from home without the benefit of being exotic.

    3. Seal*

      Best of luck with the new job! I moved from the Upper Midwest to the Deep South almost 10 years ago for a job. While it was absolutely the right thing to do career-wise, unfortunately I’ve never really adjusted to the climate or living in a college town. People think I’m crazy when I say I miss living in a place that knows how to deal with snow or has actual seasons. I also didn’t realize how difficult it would be to live so far away from my family, even though we aren’t all that close to begin with. My next move will definitely be back in the direction I came from – no desire to live someplace where it’s in the mid-90s and higher for half the year or more ever again.

      1. Clever Name*

        Not crazy at all to like seasons and the snow-sensible. I lived in TX for 7 years, and never again.

        1. Lindsay J*

          Yeah, I’ve been in TX for 4 years now (originally from NJ), and the lack of seasons still weirds me out. It doesn’t feel like Halloween or Thanksgiving or Easter when it’s 90* out. The whole year is kind of one big blur of hot.

          And I thought I would be glad to never see snow again, but now I kind of miss it. And now I need to deal with driving in torrential rain instead of snow, which is equally shitty. And we get shut down by the mere thought of frost.

        1. periwinkle*

          I moved from the swampy mid-Atlantic to the PNW. This summer weather is weird. I mean, it’s August and people *want* to go outside because it’s lovely.

            1. Audiophile*


              I’ve been seriously considering a move and just got an email the other day from an ad agency out in Cali about a job.

              1. Seal*

                Exactly. A good friend of mine lives in coastal California and while she loves the weather she’s constantly complaining about the cost of living there.

              2. Elizabeth West*

                No, I came back thinking it would be easier to go to school at home. I’ve been stuck here ever since. I SHOULD have stayed out there and gone to school at USC or something. Now I can’t go back because the rents are too high. :(

              3. DoDah*

                I live in LA (near the beach) and the COL is ridiculous. Anywhere you would “want” to live rents in the 1,500’s for a small one bedroom. I can’t believe what I pay for groceries, gas, electric, etc. And the traffic is completely unacceptable–and everything is crowded. I moved here 15 years ago and I can see a huge difference in how many people there are.

                And for reference sake, I make a little over 100K

                Don’t do it.

          1. Seal*

            That’s what I’m used to. After 9+ years in the Deep South I still can’t get used to not spending the summer outside because it’s too hot to do anything productive. I really need to move north ASAP.

          2. Honeybee*

            The thing I can’t get over is how it can be 88 degrees outside but you stand in the shade – of which there is a copious amount, because trees – and it instantly feels cooler and refreshing. In Atlanta where I’m from the shade doesn’t feel that much better than the direct sun because HUMIDITY. There’s no humidity here!

        2. Honeybee*

          I moved in the opposite direction – I grew up in the South, spent grad school in the Northeast and now I am in the PNW. The summers are so lovely here, and the winters are pretty inoffensive. Basically the weather is pretty perfect.

      2. So Very Anonymous*

        Also moved deep south for a job, also miss the upper midwest. My relationship with family up north has changed while I’ve been down here, and I now really want to be nearer them — initially that wasn’t such an issue, but it is now. And I totally understand missing actual seasons — I’m to the point that I get snow envy. My Scandinavian blood also has had it with mid-90s + intense humidity for half the year!

    4. Belle diVedremo*

      What Have I Done nerves are common with a big move and with a new job. But they’re generally just nerves, compounded by being tired and having so much to do to have a home set up and in order.

      The climate does take getting used to. Arriving at the end, rather than the beginning, of summer should help. A/C makes a huge difference, dehumidifiers too. And take a sweater every time you’re going to be indoors for a while in the summer. So many places are air conditioned for the comfort of men in suits that if you’re in general summer clothes it can be downright cold indoors.

      It’s a terrific area, once you learn your way around there’s a lot to see/explore for adults and small fry.

      YOU CAN DO IT!

    5. Hippie Chick*

      I have moved 23 times in my life, I was in the military and was married to a military man, and moved several times post military as well. Each child and pet was born in a different city or country. Middle child was born in Stuttgart (when it was still West Germany.) I’ve lived in Louisiana, Washington State, Virginia, and Kansas to name a few. Yes, there is a big climate change. In Washington state we’d be up til after 10 pm on the 4th of July to shoot off fireworks. In Louisiana we mowed the yard from February til November. In Maryland they closed everything for an inch of snow, and in Nebraska that is business as usual. Each community has their own irritations and their own amazing glorious character. Relax, take your time, explore, it will grow on you. You will be good at your job, they didn’t just hire anyone off the street, they chose you. The boxes will get unpacked, you will get settled. It will be good. Now drink of cup of calming tea and BREATHE.

    6. TL -*

      When I first moved from Texas, I spent the first week crying and the first few months miserable. But within 6 months I was so glad I did it – I never want to move back to Texas and I’m really happy here.

    7. migrant worker*

      I’m a nomad – have moved all over the world for work. Give yourself some space to settle in and make some mistakes and just get used to it all. Keep an open mind and learn to see the place for what it is and not what you left behind. Be open to the idea that different is not always ‘worse’, sometimes it can be ‘better’ or at least just ‘different’.

      And give yourself space in the job too! There’s a learning curve professionally and personally and you won’t get it all right right away. Have patience.

      Good luck and enjoy the adventure. :)

    8. louise*

      I recently listened to The Art of Manliness’s podcast entitled The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live. The episode description really caught my eye:

      “How can you learn to love the place you live, even if you don’t feel it’s the place of your dreams, or the most ideal location?

      “My guest today spent a year researching the burgeoning science of what’s called “place attachment” in order to answer that question. Her name is Melody Warnick and she’s the author of This Is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live. On the show Melody and I discuss what “place attachment” is and what you can do to have more of it for the place you live. This is a great podcast filled with some extremely actionable advice.”

      I recommend giving it a listen! As a transplant to an area people often loathe, but where I am happier than I’ve ever been, I found the idea of place attachment fascinating. I hope you and your family are able to attach soon. Good luck in both your new home and new job!

  6. Nicole*

    I need help. My husband and I are planning a trip to Arizona in a couple of months to visit family and I’m mentally freaking out about the flight. I’ve read all the statistics about the extremely low chances of an accident and how safe flying is, but to my irritional mind it doesn’t matter – it feels unsafe regardless and I am dreading it. I don’t like the feeling of takeoff, particularly when the plane banks at 10,000 ft instead of once we’re at crusing altitude. Logically I understand it’s necessary to turn towards the correct path sooner rather than later so the plane doesn’t waste time heading the wrong direction but I still freak out and think something is wrong. I literally lean the opposite direction in my seat to counterbalance the turn which is ridiculous, I know!

    I hate most of the stimuli related to flying – the loud sound of the engines, the vibrations, the tight seating, etc. I’m a (self-diagnosed) HSP which I’m sure doesn’t help, and on top of that I already suffer from generalized anxiety and tend to ruminate. Even though I keep telling myself that there’s thousands of flights that take off and land every day without incident my brain says “tell that to the people who were in the one that didn’t”. Whenever there’s any kind of tragedy I imagine what the people involved must have went through and I really feel for them, and air disasters are at the top of the list. Unlike many people who can go through life thinking “that won’t happen to me”, I’m more in the camp of “if it could happen to them, why couldn’t it happen to me? I’m not special”. Ugh!

    To give a little more background – I flew for the first time when I was only five or six when my grandparents took my cousin and me to Disney World. They took me again with my brother when I was 10 and a final time when I was 15. Those were the only flights I took when I was young but I don’t remember being scared at all. In fact, I remember enjoying it. In 1996, when I was in my twenties, I flew to London by myself, and I developed the flu on the flight over, but again, I don’t recall being scared. That was actually a very comfortable flight since I was lucky enough to fly business class and the plane was HUGE! After that many years passed before I flew again in 2009 and that’s when I realized I was terrified. No incidents ever happened on any of the flights to cause this so I can only surmise it was a combination of media coverage from incidents, particularly 9/11, and my growing general anxiety about getting older and knowing I will cease to exist one day.

    So anyway, does anyone have any tips on how to cope? I love to travel so I don’t want to ground myself over this! It’s also not feasible (nor safe, statistically) to drive everywhere. We actually did drive to Arizona twice and it’s hellish being in a car for two days so I know it’s much better to fly. I just don’t relish the thought of almost four hours (we’re in Chicago) in a plane, especially because I’m on edge the entire time and hypersenstive to every move the plane makes. I find it nearly impossible to distract myself. I’ve tried reading and listening to music but I can’t focus on either. Watching a show or movie works the best and the last flight I was on (last year to Florida) I obsessively watched the plane’s stats on their website so I could see what altitude we were at, the speed we were traveling, and most importantly, how much time was remaining before we’d land. Furthermore, I have a bladder condition that with the combination of the cold of the plane (I dress warmly but it only works so well) and my nervousness causes me to have to use the restroom multiple times during the flight and standing up on a plane feels even weirder than sitting. I already have a prescription for low-dose Xanax which I use sparingly and helps take the edge off but only slightly. I’m so tired of feeling this way. I have nightmares and think about the flight from the moment it’s booked until we’re back from vacation. This is no way to live especially because I want to explore the world which would require even longer flights.

    Oh, one other thing – we always fly Southwest due to their safety record but I’m starting to question if that is the best idea because their planes are so small and it’s stressful trying to get my preferred seating (above/slightly in front of the wing) even when we pay extra to board first. Last flight we were behind the wing and I really didn’t like it.

    I welcome all suggestions, particularly if you’ve suffered from this fear and have gotten over it.

    1. Gene*

      One suggestion, I won’t regurgitate statistics other than no major US airline is any safer than any other. I’m sitting in a Southwest plane now.

      The suggestion, go take a couple of introductory flights in a small airplane. You’ll see what really goes on.

        1. fposte*

          It’s funny, because that’s common with flying phobics, but I always minded a small plane less–it seemed more manageable somehow.

          (And I was well aware of what goes on and the safety of flight, but phobias are beyond logic.)

      1. Anxious Flyer*

        Knowing that it is safe does nothing for me.
        There is medication like ativan that will take the edge off . I probably take the lowest dosage.
        For me, there is no side effects. I am still aware that I hate flying, but the obsessive thoughts go away.
        I spend the extra money to know that I have an aisle seat towards the front (so I can get up)
        I have headphones and a meditation recording that I put on as soon as I take my seat.
        I have a loaded up iPad with books, magazines and podcasts for distraction. And a Vanity Fair magazine or New Yorker.
        Last time I loaded a coloring book and colored.
        My new job puts me on a plane about every 40 days. I wish I could say I have gotten over my anxiety but no.

    2. fposte*

      Have this fear–had serious, walked-off-the-plane-rather-than-taking-the-flight phobia–and have largely gotten over it. Consider changing how much Xanax you take and when you take it (which may mean talking to your doctor). Your goal isn’t just to take the edge off but to start breaking the freakout habit. Do you start stressing the night before? Take a dose then. Boarding and takeoff were my worst moments, so I took my main dose about an hour before departure time (you’re usually in the airport anyway); I’d take a second dose 4-5 hours later if I wasn’t going to be through with travel. The goal was to never let the medication level drop once the anxiety stage kicked in, so if I was flying later in the day, I’d take a dose in the morning as well as before the flight.

      I use the smallest possible pills, .25 mg, so I can calibrate better and for psychological value of taking several pills. My max dose at any given time was 1 mg. So for a morning trip from Chicago to Arizona it’d probably be 6 .25 mg pills, two the night before, 4 in the morning, and same again coming back. While the combination of adrenaline and Xanax would make me really, really tired at the end of the day, I never got zombified or incapable of dealing with routing changes or ticketing errors. However, I don’t drive on it–that’s my one big rule.

      Consider this possibility, and also consider testing it little by little. Go out to O’Hare and test a higher dose while wandering around on this side of security, just so you know what it feels like to be on a higher dose in an airport. See if you can find a flight to Indy or to Milwaukee and a pal or spouse who will come with you for a day outing for the next test. That way you’ll have a chance to be familiar with the stronger usage and more reassured about its ability to handle the situation, which may help some with the anxiety dreams, too.

      I am a smart and strong-willed person and really thought I could logic my way out of this. I was wrong, or at least I was wrong that I could do it in time for me to have a decent life and career, and I am so glad Xanax has allowed me to travel. Maybe it can do it for you too.

      1. Nicole*

        I have .25mg and .50mg pills so that’s a great suggestion, thanks. I don’t know why I didn’t think of taking multiples to help since I did do that one when I had to conduct a training class for work (public speaking is the worst) and it definitely helped.

    3. Thinking out loud*

      If it helps, my husband worked in flight test for Boeing commercial aircraft for almost ten years (and I was an engineer at Boeing for 12 years). They test the pants off of those planes, because they know that people’s lives depend on them.

        1. Dangerfield*

          I live by a specialist lightning lab: its whole function is testing aeroplane parts by hitting them with lightning and ensuring they still keep on working. I love knowing that there are special facilities for things like this.

        2. Gene*

          I had to shut up, they closed the doors.

          Since that helped, I’ll add this. Boeing is one of my accounts. I hear people afraid of flying talking about the “wings falling off”. I watched them break the wings off the 777 static test airplane. The wingtips were at least 30 feet above normal position. When they tried to break them off the 787, they couldn’t, the fixture couldn’t bend them far enough. There’s no level of turbulence that’s going to break them off.

          If you haven’t looked into a local Fear of Flying clinic, you should. One really helped my wife. She’s not blasé about it like I am, but it’s not like it used to be.

          1. catsAreCool*

            I read something about a fear of flying class, and the person who took it said it was very helpful because it explained how the planes were safe and some of the details.

      1. Clever Name*

        I love hearing stuff like this. My grandpa was the chief tool designer for McDonnell Douglas, and I always felt so safe in MD-80s because my grandpa helped make them. :)

        1. fposte*

          I know Mike C. is a listener to LiveATC–I don’t go that far, but there are some wonderful ATC channels on YouTube where you can hear some of the great controllers work. The slang and the nicknames are an awful lot of fun–like Angry Puppy (which I think was originally used just for MD regional jets but I believe I’ve heard even for the MD-80).

          1. Clever Name*

            Cool! I love aviation. I used to work for an airport and it was great fun to sit in the airport ops tower and listen to the ATC tower. Still a nervous flyer, though. Even after watching literally hundreds of flights take off and land safely. :/

          2. Mike C.*

            To be fair, LiveATC is like watching C-SPAN, fair warning to others who want to give it a shot.

            I think British Airways has the best nickname – all of their planes are referred to as “SpeedbirdXXXX” with the X’s being the flight number.

            1. fposte*

              Yeah, that’s why I just do the “best ofs” on YouTube. Plus they come with captions there.

            2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

              Oh good, other people who dont find it weird!

              I also like to find flights on FlightAware and decode the route using aviation maps. :/ I once tracked the boyfriend on a flight from IAD to MSP this way, including listening in to the ATC exchanges the whole flight (where possible) as he was handed off between centers and eventually into MSP control.

              America West (and then US Air) had the “Cactus” callsign which I thought cool, but agree that Speedbird is probably the best one out there.

              1. nonegiven*

                I always watch my son on FlightAware, he gives me his itinerary if he’s flying commercial or his tail number if he’s flying a rental. It’s just fun.

              2. Mike C.*

                On a political forum I’m on, there are folks who watch the general aviation flight plans to predict vice presidential nominees.

      2. Mike C.*

        Engineers are cool, but test pilots are badass. I currently work in Quality there.

        Nicole, the other thing I want to point out is that if you were to start looking at the parts inside the plane, you would notice two things – serial numbers and literal stamps on each and every part. A small assembly could easily have dozens of these.

        What those stamps represent is the mark of the people who installed and inspected each part. The amount of checking and rechecking and certification that goes on in the construction and maintenance of a modern commercial aircraft is nuts. Not to mention the numerous redundant systems out there.

        If you have specific concerns, please ask, there are likely tons of us who can answer questions.

        1. Lindsay J*

          Also to tack onto what Mike is saying, there is a huge amount of documentation and a huge emphasis on personal responsibility in all aspects of aviation, including maintenance procedures.

          I currently work with aircraft mechanics. My main job is making sure we have all the appropriate paperwork for all maintenance items completed in the correct way.

          Every mechanic who completes any kind of work signs off on the work they completed on a work order and/or a logbook entry with their initials and their employee number (or for outside contractors, their A&P [airframe and powerplant] license number. The WO has checklists that describe the exact procedures (down to closing windows and doors) for each task, and the mechanics need to initial off each step each time to ensure the procedure is done the correct way each time.

          Any mechanic or part of the the mechanical team has the right and the responsibility to keep the plane from taking off if there is the possibility that something is unsafe. And they take this seriously – nobody wants to be the reason for damage to the aircraft or a possible crash. They WILL NOT sign off on something that isn’t right because that’s their job, their reputation, and their piece of mind at risk. And generally their immediate boss cannot overrule them. There is an escalation process that goes up through to the director of maintenance and the director of quality control, and that is documented at each step of the way.

          We do 3 Day, Weekly, and 4 month checks on the planes that check some of the same and some different things. So the major components are being checked every couple of days. And walk-arounds are done each time a plane lands in our station so things like fluid leaks, damage to the body, tire issues, etc, will be caught after a flight.

          The flight crew also checks the interior and exterior of the plane before each flight.

          On some repairs a mechanic is required to get “buy-back” from another mechanic, who basically signs off that it was done correctly. (This is mostly for things like making sure latches on the cowlings are redone after the engine is checked.) On more complex stuff they may have to get a signature from an inspector (QC guy who has maintenance training and experience and then additional training on top of that), 0r RII signature (signature from someone who has special training who has watched the entire installation or whatever and has made sure it was done correctly the whole time). These people’s signatures and numbers go on the paperwork as well.

          And for parts, again, everyone in the chain that handles the part has the ability to say “hey, this isn’t right” and stop things.

          When purchasing a resuable part, the people sourcing the parts ensure there is paperwork tracking back-to-birth traceability on the part backed up by official documentation, that it came from an approved manufacturer, and that it wasn’t involved in any type of major incident since then.

          When it gets to the airline, a parts person receives it in, makes sure the part arrived undamaged, makes sure the part numbers and serial numbers match the paperwork, makes sure it came from a pre-approved vendor, etc. Then it goes to a receiving inspector who double checks their work, and makes sure the part appears to be in good working order.

          Then when a mechanic goes to put it on a plane, the parts person, the mechanic (and generally the computer system too) make sure that the part is designed to be effective to that specific aircraft by consulting with the WO and/or the IPC (illustrated parts catalogue) or internal maintenance manuals etc. And this goes for everything, from big parts to tiny screws. And the mechanic again double checks the paperwork and the part to make sure everything appears to be in good order. And again, all of this is tracked and signed off every single step of the way and the records retained for years. (And are available to the FAA and likely the DOT to review at all times).

          Nothing happens to these planes that isn’t reviewed and documented by several people who are aware they will be held personally responsible for anything bad that happens to the aircraft.

        1. nonegiven*

          My dad was a test pilot. My cousin is captain for an airline. My son is a private pilot, working on his commercial license. I’ve taken flight lessons. The pilot always does a preflight inspection, with a checklist.

          As an example, if my cousin sees oil where there shouldn’t be any, a mechanic probably spilled it, but she will delay the flight and make them check for a leak anyway.

    4. shorty*

      A few thoughts:
      1) When you feel/see/hear something during the flight that makes you nervous, look around you. Look at the flight attendants and the other passengers. I find it encouraging to see that they don’t even bat an eye.
      2) Try a red eye flight or try flying when you are extremely sleepy. I tend to get a bit nervous in turbulence but I’ve found I could care less about it when I’m in a sleepy daze.
      3) I know it doesn’t mean much now, but just trust that the more you fly, the more you’ll get used to it. It used to freak me out quite a bit but once I started flying more it got to the point that it feels really normal and unremarkable.

      1. Dangerfield*

        Yes, I watch the flight attendants obsessively. If they’re sat there looking bored or chatting about their plans, whatever I’m hearing is probably normal.

        The other thing that helped me was reading more specifically about air disasters. There have been plenty of times when planes have failed and still landed safely and got all or most of the passengers safely off. It helps the anxiety to acknowledge that something might go wrong with the plane, but most likely I would still be fine. If the plane just stopped working, the pilot could glide it down.

        1. salad fingers*

          Oh boy, my sister is a very anxious flyer and does the same thing. On a flight to Boston she observed that the flight attendants had stopped serving snacks and were whispering to each other, which had completely escaped me. She started freaking out a little and and speculating, I told her to calm down and went back to semi-napping. Lo and behold, an emergency landing in Detroit was announced a couple of minutes later. I don’t think this did much to convince her that constant on-flight vigilance is unnecessary. Still cracks me up to think about it.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Remember too, that emergency landings may not always mean something is wrong with the plane–they might have to land because someone needs medical attention as fast as possible.

          2. Dan*

            FWIW, “emergency landing” is often times a misnomer. The reality is that these landings are precautionary more than anything. For instance, it’s perfectly safe to fly on one engine, but procedures instruct a flight crew to divert to the nearest suitable airport if there is an engine failure. Also, if there’s unexpected weather or congestion at the destination, sometimes flights have to divert because of lack of fuel. Even then, it’s by no means an “emergency”, and actually a rather routine event.

            1. salad fingers*

              Very true, and surprising choice of words given the number of anxious flyers out there. In this case, there was noise coming from the baggage compartment and an unaccounted for baggage guy at O’Hare. One of the flight attendants thought she heard “SOS” tapped through the floor above the compartment. We landed and HAZMAT guys inspected everything for a long time, baggage was loose, we went on our way. The whole thing was actually very funny in the end.

        2. Honeybee*

          In fact, most of the time when planes have failed, pilots manage to land them safely and most if not all people survived. Reading about air disasters* is a pastime of mine. Catastrophic airplane failures that result in death are exceedingly rare.

          *Reading about all kinds of disasters is a pastime of mine…don’t ask.

      2. Dan*


        Despite the fact the wings won’t fall off the plane during turbulence, it’s worth noting that turbulence is one of the leading causes of injuries inflight. People not belted in their seatbelts get tossed around and break bones. It’s one thing if the captain turns on the seatbelt sign and the flight attendants are still providing cabin service, but if the pilot tells the flight attendants to sit down and buckle up, you better too. If you’re belted in, your risk of injury is quite low. Finish your drink though so it doesn’t end up all over you or your seatmate.

        FWIW, if something serious is happening, odds are the crew are going to downplay the severity of the situation. Yes, we complain about how little an airline tells us, but the reality is that there are a lot of jittery flyers, and the odds are that if too much information is given out, it’s too easy to misunderstand/misinterpret what was said and cause panic. The absolute number one priority is to keep the cabin calm, and not make people all jittery. So they tell you as little as possible.

        On the one hand, the lack of information sucks, but in the unlikely event you do have to deplane in an emergency, you want people to get off the aircraft in an orderly manner. There have been incidents over the years where panic has slowed down or stopped the deplaning and unnecessary loss of life has resulted.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          People not belted in their seatbelts get tossed around and break bones.

          I was on a flight back from a job with a coworker and when the seat belt signal came off, unbuckled it with relief. I mentioned to her that she could be free! now and she refused. Turned out, her father had been a doctor with Air Canada. He had told all his children to never unbuckle their seat belts unless they needed to go to the bathroom/stand up. He had been called to attend a flight that had hit an air pocket and suddenly dropped 10K feet (I did not know such a thing could even happen at that time). There were people with multiple head and neck injuries but everyone who had remained buckled was more or less fine. They had just served the meal when this happened and these were the days of real cutlery. He said that there were knives and forks embedded in the ceiling.

          After she told me this story, I buckled my seat belt and have ever since.

        2. Nicole*

          I always keep my seatbelt on other than when I use the restroom due to all the injuries I’ve heard about during turbulence.

          I can see both sides of the argument for not telling passengers EXACTLY what is going on. I mean, if the plane is going down it’s not like it’s going to help things to tell everyone, plus the pilot is busy trying to prevent it, but on the other hand it would be nice if someone could reassure everyone when something out of the ordinary happens that isn’t a big deal so they don’t start suspecting the worst.

      3. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        If the attendants abruptly stop service and sit down and belt in, then the pilot has usually deemed the turbulence significant enough to warn the crew. Usually they will then try and find better air at a higher or lower altitude.

        I like flying but I do have difficulty with turbulence, probably from years of flying in and out of Reno which has turbulent air due to the mountains. I’ve found it helpful to learn how turbulence works and where it is usually generated, like over mountain ranges, subtropical areas/areas of convergence (Bay of Bengal/cross the Equator, or north Atlantic in the winter), or certain airports on water that are exposed to lots of wind. Also remember that weather typically will play a supporting part in a crash (visibility, crew confusion, additional factors such as icing that the plane is built to deal with), but is rarely the main cause.

        One thing I do find fascinating are air disasters, which are usually made up of chains of small, seemingly unrelated events. A lot of small things need to go wrong for an airliner to be brought down – the odds of all of them happening in the right chain of events at any one time is extremely small hence why there are relatively few crashes.

        1. Cruciatus*

          Not quite the same thing, but related is the sinking of the Lusitania. I just read Erik Larson’s book on it, “The Last Crossing of the Lusitania” and while obviously they were sunk by a German U-boat, there were a bunch of seemingly unrelated things that happened to bring the Lusitania to that point, at that time (and same for the U-boat). I thought it was an interesting read.

    5. Jersey's Mom*

      Nicole –

      You’ve already taken the first big step; you’ve acknowledged your fear, tried to identify exactly what bothers you, and you’re searching for a solution. I reiterate what others have said: visit the airport and look around. Park outside the airport and watch the planes take off and land. Practice deep breathing and calming exercises.

      Load up your iphone/tablet with plenty of things that you think will help distract you. You may want to consider contacting a help group — you’re not alone, there’s plenty of people who are afraid. If you search the term fearofflyingrelief you will find classes (that cost $), and you can search YouTube for Boeing, they post visuals of some of the tests that they do on airplanes (seeing how much stress they can take is amazing! Bring along a couple of those “hot pockets” that outdoors people use in winter (they’re little flat packets), available at Calbelas or other outdoor stores. Avoid liquids for the last couple hours before flight — if you get desperately thirsty, suck on an ice cube. That may help avoid the need to get up as much.

      I’m terrified of heights. I avoid the obvious stuff (no ferris wheels for me), but have to walk in power plants (60+ stories up, on a wire mesh floor, so you can see down below). I practice deep breathing, I focus on anything but down, and pretty much continue to tell myself that I can do this, it will be ok. I also stand in a location where I feel safe and stretch – roll my head, shoulders, hips, etc. I typically get really tense and the stretching seems to help. If it’s a non-work situation, I have my husband massage my neck or shoulders (or even just my hands), which gives me something else to focus on, and helps with the tension.

      If you’re flying with someone, you might want them to know about your fear, and maybe they can help you with it throughout the flight. Good luck, and I hope everything goes well.

      1. catsAreCool*

        Audio books can be great in a plane. I don’t mind flying, but I don’t like how cramped we are, and the audio books help me with that.

      2. Nicole*

        Thank you for your kind words. We were actually near a major airport today and I was able to watch some planes take off and land. The ones taking off were causing me anxiety because they bank pretty quickly to get on course. It just worries me every single time I see it for some reason.

        I plan to subscribe to YouTube Red before my trip so I can download a ton of videos to my iPad to help distract me. We’ll see how well that works. I am flying with my husband who has no fear so I will be hanging onto his arm for dear life during takeoff like I have the other times we’ve flown. I told him I wish someone could just knock me out and wake me up when we get there.

        1. nonegiven*

          You probably want the plane to take off and go straight to the other airport without turning, but there is a rectangular pattern around airports, just like traffic lanes. The plane enters and exits the pattern like using off and on ramps. That way everyone knows where the planes will be and which way they are going.

        2. Gene*

          Most of the low level turns have absolutely nothing to do with being on course. They are for noise reduction for the people who bought houses under a flight path, then complained.

          Airplanes use the runway that is most closely aligned with the wind, no matter which way it is to the destination. When there’s no wind, most airports have a preferred runway that either reduces noise problems for the surrounding area, or make ground operations more efficient. In rare cases, the takeoff direction is dictated by terrain. I used to fly myself and some shipmates from the SF Bay Area to Reno for weekends. When we’d leave Reno I’d always first head east to gain some altitude to clear the mountains.

    6. Noah*

      First, you are unlikely to find any larger aircraft on a domestic flight than the 737s that Southwest operates. However, if seat is important, I would go with one of the others that offer assigned seating. Both American and United have large hubs in Chicago and would also offer nonstop flights. You would probably have to pay for your seat assignment though.

      I have worked in the airline industry since I was 18. I love flying and I love the industry. Everything is about safety, and I’m not saying that because I work in the safety department.

      I’ve seen many passengers with fear of flying. Statistics don’t make them feel better. My own father, who gets free flights through me, hates flying and will drive for two days instead.

      My only tip is to tell the employees you have a fear. If you think preloading will help, ask the gate agent. I was one and most will have no issue. I was also a flight attendant, tell them and they will reassure you that everything you hear and see going on is normal. Some people like to meet the pilot, seeing a face helps, just ask the gate agent or flight attendant.

      1. Dan*

        Hey, is there any way I can touch base with you offline, linked in or whatever? Based on what you and I do for a living, you and I probably know some people in common, particularly if you travel for industry safety conferences.

    7. Dynamic Beige*

      I used to fly more than I do now and have never had a really bad incident. But one time on a perfectly standard and routine takeoff, I started to panic. Similarly to you, OP, I was all “what if it crashes and I die!?!” My next set of thoughts was that if I’m dead, it’s not going to matter any more and there’s nothing I can do to control the outcome of this situation. So I let it go and I’ve been fine ever since. We think that we have control when it’s just the illusion of control. We think when we drive ourselves somewhere in our cars that we’re in control… but how many auto accidents are there? A plane crash always makes the evening news, but the only car accidents that get air time are the ones where dozens of cars are involved or a lot of people died. All the fender-benders, people who get rear ended on the highway, skid off the road hydroplaning or because of snow or ice — the only people who know about them are the ones they happen to.

      1. Dan*

        The thing with flying airplanes that IMHO makes it more safer than driving is that on the road, you can be the best trained driver in the most advanced car on the road, and you’re not a match for the guy who is not paying attention and runs a red light and t-bones you. You have absolutely no control over the others cars on the road, and you’re packing in with them sometimes going over 60 miles an hour.

        Other than the airport surface itself, you’re generally going to be *miles* from any other aircraft, so it actually gets a lot easier.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          Exactly! I have no idea how many flights there are in a day over any given airport, but I would bet that there are multiples into the thousands more cars/trucks/motorcycles being driven in the same space. You never know who is texting while driving, or whatever. Years ago, my mother passed a semi and just as she got to the cab, one of the tires blew out behind her. A few seconds earlier, and that tire would have been in her passenger side. Not to mention what she might have done when she reacted to the explosion. I was driving on a fall morning, it was a bit icy but not much and the woman in front of me just did a 180 for no reason I could see. Was she going too fast? Were her tires almost bald? It was a good thing I was pretty far back from her and was able to stop in time.

      1. Honeybee*

        The thing to remember is that this is news because it doesn’t happen that often. It’s also a news report, so it’s in CNN’s best interest to make it sound as dramatic as possible for additional coverage. Nobody was injured or even hurt, and the plane made its emergency landing. Sometimes mechanical problems arise – just like any other mechanical system – but there are lots of safety checks in place to make sure that even in the rare event something like this happens, everyone gets off the plane safely. That’s exactly what happened.

      2. Dan*

        Honeybee is right, despite the best efforts, some things just break. The system is also run by humans, and human error is actually a big factor in most incidents.

        OTOH, the “system” handles any one thing going wrong pretty well. In fact, dealing with any one thing going wrong is almost routine, as it is something that is trained for — pilots go in for training twice a year. Note that there were no injuries in the Southwest incident.

        When people die in plane crashes, it’s because multiple things went wrong all at once, and the humans had a hard time dealing with it. If you think about, say three things have to go wrong *at the same time* for something bad to happen. Assume the odds of any one thing going wrong are 1 in 100 (they’re actually much less frequent than that). So for three things to go wrong at the same time, the odds are going to be 1 in a million.

      3. Dynamic Beige*

        I have found in recent years that whenever I have a flight coming up, something like this hits the news. As the others have said, things happen. I was on a flight back from the UK and someone smelled smoke (I didn’t). You would have loved this plane, I think it was a 777 or 787, it was huge. They turned the plane around and did an emergency landing in Cornwall, it wound up on the news and everything. Turned out that there had been an electrical short in an air conditioning unit. The worst part of the whole thing was that they had been about to serve dinner (I was in first, with the pods, dinner was going to be good) and the Cardiff airport was not suited for a sudden influx of ~500 starving people. Within a very short period of time, there was no food left. After about 6 hours, they put us back on the plane and we returned to Heathrow. We had to go through Immigration (the flight had originated in Spain), they put us up in a hotel for the night which mercifully laid out a full hot buffet dinner at midnight. Overall, it was more annoying than scary.

      4. Thinking out loud*

        That’s definitely a success story, in my opinion. 737s are designed to be able to fly with only one engine. It’s very rare that they do really loose the use of the entire engine as they did in that case, and you can see that even in that kind of failure, no one was even injured.

        My husband was actually involved in testing of the case where both engines failed (on a two-engine aircraft). They have a ram air turbine (RAT, basically a big fan) that deploys, and it uses the air blowing over it (like a windmill) to power the most important systems on the aircraft. So even if you had the catastrophic failure of two engines, the pilots still have enough power to get the airplane onto the ground and brake and steer.

      5. Mike C.*

        It looks like it was just the cover of the engine that blew, it looks terrible but it’s really not a big deal.

      6. fposte*

        I think it’s easy to consider anything that’s loud and that causes the plane to make an unscheduled landing to be a big deal, but it’s really not. The system is designed for safety, but that’s not the same thing as complete perfection. So the system worked here.

        Also keep in mind that most reporting on aviation stuff sucks. It’s a better story when it’s a disaster averted, not something that’s the equivalent to pulling over in a rest stop, discovering there’s a nail in your tire, and getting off the interstate.

    8. migrant worker*

      hi Nicole,
      I have a fear of flying as well. In fact when I was younger I loved to fly (and actually enjoyed turbulence) but now I hate it (it started getting worse about 3 years ago, when my frequency of flying went up). I can think of a few scary flights I went on that probably triggered it, but have also been on lots of uneventful flights too.

      In any case, it’s all illogical. Nevermind that flying is waaaaay safer than driving or other forms of transport. Never mind that a plane takes off or lands safely almost once every 6 seconds. Never mind that I have friends who are aerospace engineers or test pilots or etc. I still freak out.

      I started taking Inderal to take the edge off, because I can rationalise my way to calm, but doesn’t slow down my speeding heart. You might find that useful, though not sure if you can take with Xanax as well.

      The better option is to find a Fear of Flying class or to consult a good therapist experienced in these phobias and who might be able to help with CBT or the like. You definitely need to rewire the neural pathways vs trying to convince yourself its all safe. Best of luck.

      1. nonegiven*

        Propranolol and ALPRAZolam may have additive effects in lowering your blood pressure. You may experience headache, dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting, and/or changes in pulse or heart rate. These side effects are most likely to be seen at the beginning of treatment, following a dose increase, or when treatment is restarted after an interruption.

    9. Irish Em*

      I just want to offer virtual hugs to you. I can’t imagine having a fear of flying, mostly because Ireland is of course an island and we need to fly to get anywhere, unless you’re prepared to take the ferry for hours and then drive across either the UK or France to get wherever you’re going. At least most places are 4hours or less from us (unless you’re talking the US or Australia or New Zealand) so nervy flyers can still realistically get out and about if they want.
      (I do have a ridiculously limiting phobia (gah, spiders) that makes me feel stupid and small and ridiculous when I come into contact with my triggers, and have panic attacks etc., because everyone around me does not have this problem, and I get tons of jokes made at my expense which makes me even worse because I am averse to getting slagged off as much as I am averse to spiders. I hope that isn’t the case for you.)
      I think if you feel safer in larger aircraft, then opt for the airlines that offer the largest aircraft, regardless of the safety record – one is more or less as safe as another at this point. Also, it may be possible to book seats in the middle of the cabin with extra legroom – Ryanair offers this for an extra €4 on their flights – and that might be enough to make you feel more comfortable in the aircraft. But as I say I’m not phobic so I don’t know if my advice is going to be of any use to you.

      1. Nicole*

        Fear is such an interesting thing, isn’t it? I don’t care for spiders, but I don’t fear them like you do. If only we could just erase each other’s fear!

    10. Mallows*

      Oh Nicole, I feel for you. I’m fine in a smooth flight but put me in turbulence and *nothing* distracts me, and boy if we hit turbulence on the takeoff… Yesterday I flew out of Charlotte and they were about to take off INTO A THUNDERSTORM, and I was so scared I was about to make a spectacle of myself by walking off the plane and renting a car to drive 5 hours home. We were on the runway and thank goodness someone grounded all flights for a half hour due to windshear. It was still bumpy as hell though.

      Here are my bullet points:
      1) The physical reaction itself scares me. To that end, I try to avoid caffeine and salt (salt makes my heart race). Flying in very early morning with zero caffeine is easiest for me.
      2) I have had a little success with games on my phone (Two Dots, Candy Crush and the like). bonus, the music is a bit hypnotizing in itself. Crosswords can help too. If you are a crafty person, maybe knitting or something like that?
      3) I have found that morning and evening flights (beginning pre-dawn or after sunset) are best for avoiding turbulence. However, that is entirely my amateur opinion.

      And lastly here is this utterly amazing thread that was linked here by someone else. It is an “ask me” by a Delta pilot and it has been going since 2009. He comes across as very safety-conscious, competent, and most of all as a human with a vested interest in safely transporting people.

      1. Nicole*

        I’ve never experienced turbulence during takeoff. I hope I never do as it sounds terrifying. I’m glad they delayed the flight until it cleared up. Thanks for your advice and the link to that thread in particular. I am looking at it now.

    11. Another Nervous Flyer*

      I’m also a nervous flyer. I pack as many little liquor bottles as I can fit in my FAA approved quart size ziploc bag and make sure I’m nice and buzzed when I board the plane. Makes the whole experience much smoother.

      1. Clever Name*

        They don’t frown on this? I definitely prefer to have wine before/during my flight, but I thought you had to buy the airline’s $7-a-glass stuff. (Although the last flight I took was an 8:30 am flight and while I am not philosophically opposed to drinking at that time, it just didn’t appeal to me at all, so I didn’t)

      2. Mike C.*

        You cannot do this anymore. They aren’t allowing people to bring alcohol for consumption during the flight anymore, due to assholes who start fights and what not.

        1. Another Nervous Flyer*

          How recently did that change? I went through TSA with the under-3oz-bottles about 2 months ago. They didn’t even look at me twice twice.

          1. Mike C.*

            It’s really recent. It’s not the TSA banning you from bringing alcohol onto the plane, it’s the FA’s banning you from consuming it.

      3. SOMA*

        My dad does the same thing but he doesn’t bring his own liquor; he’ll just pay a fortune at the airport bars instead. It’s funny actually, we all go through security and locate our gate as a family, then he ditches his bags to find a bar. We don’t even blink, we know he’ll turn up a few minutes before we board, all liquored up and ready to go.

    12. saminrva*

      I was a very nervous flyer for a long time, which sucked when I was in a long-distance relationship and mostly flew in and out of LGA (short runway, near water, urban area with tall buildings), but what ended up making me feel WAY better was one time I went down an internet rabbit hole and read a bunch of articles on Ask the Pilot and other sites with first-hand accounts from pilots. The best takeaway for me was that turbulence is almost always more of a nuisance than a danger and the reason they even do anything about it is more about the beverage cart and allowing passengers to use the bathroom. The other thing I try to remind myself (which was more convincing after I flew more) is that there are a bunch of noises, flight paths, etc. that are all normal depending on the type of plane, time of day, etc., so I try to distract myself from trying to figure out if something is supposed to be happening. I like the advice about watching the flight attendants.

    13. Yetanotherjennifer*

      You could also just consider it a price of traveling. I mean absolutely do what you can to reduce your anxiety, but you can also acknowledge it and figure out its patterns. I get anxious before driving on long trips these days more than flying but my anxiety is highest the night before. I usually get a terrible night’s sleep and I’m usually fine by boarding time or about half an hour into a drive. I accept these things as the price of living the life I want to live and by doing so I’ve lessened their effect on me. I think part of what makes this so bad is the negative anticipation of your symptoms. Try to look upon your symptoms as taking out the garbage: something not exactly pleasant but necessary for a healthy life.

    14. lfi*

      hi – i took have a fear of flying. if it’s someplace that i’ve been before, i’m usually less anxious because i know where i’m going (say, NYC or las vegas – I’ve done it several times and know what to expect – turbulence over the rockies but generally evens out after that). but when we went to Japan last year I had to get some anti-anxiety pills. I’m talking hyperventilating on the plane and crying because i was so afraid. most of my fear seems to revolve around flying over water. the anti anxiety meds helped a bit.

      part of my fear is the fact that i’m not the one in control of where the plane is going. granted while in a car i can’t control other cars, i can adjust and react accordingly. but in a plane.. nah.

      i used to be fine when i was younger, but i guess the older i got (and the more my mother used to take me to be blessed by a priest before traveling) it messed with my head.

      1. Nicole*

        Yea, that whole priest thing was basically your mom telling you without saying the words out loud that she thinks flying is dangerous. It’s no wonder you’re scared now! We tend to pick up on the fears of people around us, especially growing up. I think that’s where my extreme fear of death comes from – my mom. She, incidentally, has never flown and never will.

    15. Windchime*

      I don’t really have anxiety over flying, so maybe this won’t be helpful but I sometimes pretend I’m on a bus. I put on my noise-canceling headphones, listen to a good podcast or two, and if I have anti-anxiety medication I take it. And then I close my eyes and pretend I’m on a bus. I never am able to fall asleep on airplanes but if I can keep my mind distracted then that helps. Also I sometimes knit if I can do it without bothering my seat mate.

    16. Crafty Time Lord*

      Late to respond and haven’t read all the responses so I’ll just share what I do.

      I have flown all my life, at least once a year. But it was only in college that I developed anxiety over flying. Like you, I didn’t have anything that triggered it, no bad experiences; I just randomly had a panic attack on one flight, where I basically sobbed in my mother’s arms.

      My doctor now prescribes me low-grade Xanax for when I fly. It’s a very low dosage, doesn’t even put me to sleep, it just takes my panic levels down to a manageable level. Now I fly like I did as a kid, care-free and relaxed.

      1. Crafty Time Lord*

        Sorry, I missed where you said you already take Xanax. Can you talk with your doctor about a different prescription or higher dosage?

        1. Nicole*

          I can take more than one dose like Fposte suggested which might help. I have taken it for past flights but either I’m not taking enough (I don’t believe I took more than 1mg at a time) or my anxiety is no match for it. I feel like it calms me only slightly and I’m anxious (ironic) about taking too much and it causing a weird reaction. As it stands right now I’ve tapered it to the point where I only take Xanax if I’m having a panic attack (which is usually 1-2 month) and when I do it’s no more than half a milligram. Unfortunately that does nothing for the next 2.5 months leading up to the event. I wish I could forget all about it until the day arrives!

          I envy you being able to fly like a kid again. I can picture the flight from when I was around 10 and how excited I was to have the meal they served. If memory serves me correctly, it was just a chicken salad sandwich but I thought it was quite yummy. Thank you, Delta! :) And when we landed in Orlando there was a bird in this little wetland area between the runways. Funny how that happy memory sticks with me. Wish I could get back to that! I think with age comes too much awareness. I am way too aware of all the things that can (and do) go wrong and all the poor people who lose their lives and it just haunts me.

  7. Loose Seal*

    My thanks to those who encouraged me while I was cooking up my county fair entries last weekend. I entered the chocolate chip cookie contest and the apple pie contest. (I prepped for several others but my body gave out on me before I could finish them.) They didn’t like my cookies, but I won third with my apple pie which surprised me greatly. They didn’t know that both my entries were gluten free and sugar free.

    I learned lots, though, for next year. I took notice of the categories that didn’t appear popular, some didn’t have any entries at all. I also have to work on my time management and make as many doughs as possible in the weeks leading up to the fair and store them in the freezer. That way if I’m having a weak day physically, on the day before the fair, I can just pull things out of the freezer and bake them.

    So, all and all, it was fun and, again, thanks to all of you who cheered me on.

    1. Belle diVedremo*

      Good for you! 3rd prize while not knowing how non-standard your pie was is downright terrific.

    2. Anonyby*

      Yay for you! Two is two more than I’ve done! And amazing with the apple pie! Now that you’ve got one under your belt, you can scorch them next time. :)

    3. Library Director*

      Brava to you! 3rd prize your first time out is impressive. Your idea of looking at categories with few entries is a good one. A good way to build a reputation by doing something slightly different.

    4. Ava Avarice*

      I love that you went gluten and sugar free, but my heart leapt in my throat when you said they didn’t know. It’s someone with a SEVERE allergy to artificial sweeteners, not knowing about that allergen could have put me in the hospital if I was one of the judges. Just something to keep in mind!

  8. Annie Moose*

    How long should one expect to see results from acupuncture? IBS-C sufferer and NOTHING has worked for the stomach pain – dietary changes, magnesium supplements, probiotic supplements, aloe juice, sauerkraut (homemade even!), linzess, amitiza. Have gone 4x to acupuncturist. So far, no improvement.

    1. fposte*

      Are you seeing a GI, and have you had a breath test? I’m not seeing rifaximin/neoomycin on there. What diets have you followed? Have you been doing the 3-5 hours between eating thing?

      1. Annie Moose*

        Am seeing a GI and I have had a colonoscopy performed. No breath test – perhaps that’s something I need to ask about on my next visit..? For dietary changes, I worked with a nutritionist and tried a few eliminationist diets to see if we could identify a culprit that was causing the pain/problem. Could you expand on the 3-5 hours between eating thing?

        1. fposte*

          Have a look for Dr. Michael Pimentel at Cedars-Sinai–he’s the leading researcher into IBS/bacterial overgrowth, and he just did an AMA on Reddit with some interesting info. It sounds like you may not be getting the benefit of some more recent knowledge–did you even do the low FODMAP diet? That’s a common first try. Pimentel has a slightly different diet that I’m about to try–it’s slightly less drastic than low FODMAP (which I believe he’s also okay with) though also less detailed.

          I know more about the D side of IBS, because bacterial overgrowth isn’t uncommon with Crohn’s, so there may be some details on the C side that I’m off on, but Pimentel works on both. His research suggests that D is from an overgrowth of hydrogen-producing bacteria while C is from methane-producing bacteria (the breath test for methane would test whether you’re exhaling methane, which ordinarily you wouldn’t).

          The 3-5 hour thing is because the migrating motor complex, which is basically the thing that causes peristalsis, is often impaired in people with SIBO/IBS, and it does its best work when things have been empty for a while; if you’re eating snacks or small frequent meals (as used to be advised with IBS) that may be interfering with its work. For me the effects are really noticeable when I manage to keep ingestion that far apart.

          Pimentel has a book available from Amazon (Kindle as well as print); a lot of what he says there is available through his interviews, research, etc., so it’s not necessarily a must-have, but you might find it interesting if you like what you hear of him elsewhere.

          1. Annie Moose*

            Have heard of FODMAP, and when I asked my GI about this diet, she said that in her experience it had only been helpful for patients with IBS-D. Thank you for the suggestion to look into Dr. Pimentel! More research and reading ahead for me.

            1. fposte*

              That could be–as I said, I know less about the C side. But still worth looking into Dr. P :-).

    2. Nicole*

      The only other things I can think of that haven’t been mentioned are antidepressants (known to help with IBS) and/or digestive enzymes.

        1. Nicole*

          Try searching digestive enzymes on Amazon. I don’t have any in particular to suggest right now; I’ve just started looking into them myself.

    3. Fellow Sufferer*

      Have you talked with your GI about Miralax? I used that daily for a while and then worked with my GI to taper it down to using it on an as-needed basis. I currently use it in small doses s few times a week. In conjunction with dietary changes, this seems to help me control the symptoms of IBS-C fairly well.

      1. Annie Moose*

        Forgot to include that one on the list! It did help move things along a bit, but didn’t ease the pain, cramps, bloating. I suppose it could be used in conjunction with something else tho. What kind of dietary changes helped you?

    4. Dynamic Beige*

      Someone I know went to an acupuncturist for ~6months for their sciatica and that was enough. I went to one for over a year until it turned out I had an infection which antibiotics helped much faster. I think the thing is that with these kind of things, it depends. But it’s not going to happen overnight.

      I don’t have IBS but I would suggest two things (if you can afford them), first see if you can get a food sensitivity test done. I had one done 5 years ago and it was interesting which ones were the “worst” for me, but it helped me to know how to alter my diet. The package was around $250 Cdn and I opted for the additional one that checked for common allergens. Second, look into traditional Chinese medicine. Your acupuncturist might know someone. Asian medicine has a different perspective on health and wellness, once again, it probably won’t be fast progress. Over the 6 months I took the pills, I did notice an improvement but it was very subtle. It was pretty amazing to me that a complete stranger who didn’t even speak English had a good idea what my problem was in less than 15min.

      1. TL -*

        The placebo effect can be fairly strong and if the acupuncture helps someone relax, it can help lessen stress-induced symptoms, which can be quite helpful.
        That being said, it’s not going to solve any underlying medical problems nor will it do what medication or your body can’t.

      2. migrant worker*

        I thought this too, until I went to an acupuncturist for migraines and found substantial relief. I don’t need the hard drugs anymore. Totally buy into it being due to placebo effect, but an hour long nap every week was no small sacrifice on my part. :D (Also my insurance paid for it).

        1. Elkay*

          Do you need to keep going for acupuncture to keep the migraines away? I get regular migraines and I’m trying to avoid being put on daily medication for them.

          1. migrant worker*

            I don’t do it anymore actually – went for about 6 months every week or so, then another 6 months 1x a month. Then I moved away, but the couple times I was back in town I would try to book another appointment.

            For most of late teens/early 20s, the migraines were bad and when I got them I would have to go home and go to sleep. In my late 20s they got progressively worse so that I would need meds for the pain and to go to sleep. I was actually at the point of exploring the daily meds myself.

            I do get migraines now and again but they are less frequent and less severe, so meds are only necessarily to sleep it off.

          2. Dynamic Beige*

            A neighbour of mine got Botox for her crippling migraines. She has to get the shots every whatever months, but they’ve completely gone.

            While I understand what you’re saying Nanani, the thing I’ve found with Western medicine is that it’s not perfect or complete. I had a runny nose for 5 years. I knew something was wrong. I went to see an allergist (took 9 months to see him, he was that booked up) who told me I wasn’t allergic to anything, an ENT who told me I should just get used to keeping a Kleenex up my sleeve (yes, he literally said that). I had my lung function tested. I did everything I could think of to try and find out what the problem was — my doctor never offered one suggestion. Until it got so bad and I was so miserable that I went to the walk-in clinic and got my doctor. She had had a situation earlier that year where she had a strange pain in her head and thought it was a tumour, so she booked herself an MRI and it turned out all her sinus cavities were full of fluid. She had an infection and didn’t know it. After a few courses of antibiotics, her suggestion was inhalers, nasal sprays. I took them but I wanted to understand the *how* behind what had happened because after being on just about every antibiotic known to man over the course of a few years, I knew that wasn’t sustainable, something was causing this infection to reoccur. It took a while but eventually I figured it out and it was all about diet. I am much better now. But few of the things I did to get here had anything to do with Western medicine.

            If I broke my leg, I wouldn’t go to an acupuncturist, I would go to a doctor and get the bone set/a cast/physio. But if I had a chronic situation where the solution was “take these pain pills for the rest of your life”, I would try to find something else. Sure, there are conditions that can only be managed with medication and I’m not talking about those. I too thought that acupuncture was bunk (and OMG needles!) until that person I knew said she had had it and it cured her sciatica — she was in the position that her doctor had said the only way to deal was with pain meds and she didn’t want that forever so she found an alternative. Whether it was placebo effect, something that actually worked or whatever, it was much better for her health long-term than popping pills. That’s the decision everyone has to make with their own care. Doctors are not gods, they are people and they only know what they know.

          3. Valeriane*

            The daily drugs don’t work for everyone, either. Those helped my daughter a little, but her doctors never found anything, either daily or acute, that helped very much.

    5. chickabiddy*

      IBS-C here too. I find that I need rather a lot of probiotics. Some of the drugstore brands are only 1-5 billion active cultures. I take two 20-billion capsules every day and more when things get bad. Different brands have different blends as well, so you might want to try a few other kinds. Also, ginger root capsules seem to alleviate some of the cramping and discomfort. I do not know anyone who has gotten positive results from acupuncture.

      1. Nicole*

        I’ve been on the hunt for a good probiotic since the one I was using was rather expensive and didn’t seem to be doing much. What brand do you recommend?

        1. chickabiddy*

          I found through trial and error that “webber naturals Complete Probiotic” (I copy-and-pasted; they don’t capitalize and it bugs me) works the best for me. I was wrong in my first post and it’s 30 billion active cells. I am also happy to report that it is not terribly expensive as far as these things go – $23.99 for 60 capsules on the Costco website.

    6. Cristina in England*

      Have you tried soil-based probiotics? They cleared up a bit of chronic indigestion for me. I know a couple of people whose systems have been really messed up after a few courses of antibiotics and the soil based probiotics helped them too. I have, and love, Primal Defense Ultra, but there are others. Primal Assist maybe?

    7. AnAppleADay*

      I’m curious, are you able to completely relax on the table during your acupuncture sessions? Once all needles are in, can you allow your body to sink into the support of the table? Maybe try another practitioner?

      Keep searching and seeking out answers, you will find them.Sometimes it can take a long time to figure out what going on and how to treat it.

      My experience – Acupuncture has helped me significantly over the past 25 years. Being 100% comfortable with the provider and being able to completely relax makes a big difference for me. I’ve gone to several practitioners. The first one I saw was excellent and saw him for six years but I moved and it wasn’t convenient to continue. I tried others for the next six or so years. The benefit seemed to be hit or miss. Now, I’ve been getting treatment from the same practitioner for 13 years at this point and have found it it helpful in managing pain, recovering from illness and injury as well as managing PTSD.

      There was one time I was in too much pain and couldn’t relax or get comfortable no matter what. I let the practitioner know that nothing was working and asked to end the session early.

      It sounds like you have tried many avenues to heal. How about your water source? Have you looked into a home water filtration system? Personally, I can’t drink out of water fountains or water at restaurants without it causing significant stomach pain and intestinal distress. A relative of my came to visit from the Midwest and had the same symptoms from drinking out of a drinking foundation. They were absolutely miserable for about 24 hours. I told them I don’t drink the Seattle tap water because it causes me the same issues.

      TMI, I’m sure but I had eczema since birth and bowel problems as well. I have a birth defect in my spine that may or may not contribute to this issue. I was nearly 40 when my doctor decided to try prescribing digestive enzymes. It made a huge difference with my gastrointestinal issues and we were both surprised when my lifelong eczema disappeared within two weeks of starting on the enzymes.

      1. Annie Moose*

        Thanks for your thoughts. What kinds of enzymes helped? I’ve also had eczema, allergies, asthma since birth.

        1. AnAppleADay*

          Thorne brand Bio-gest, and Thorne brand Betaine HCl & Pepsin. (Thorne is a excellent company and I trust the quality of all their products)

          I think they are available over the counter on-line and at most Pharmaca Pharmacies now a days but initially, my doctor had to write a prescription.

          Expensive but worth every penny to me!

    8. SongBird*

      So, I know you’ve a diagnosis and all, but have you been checked for H pylori (ulcer causing bacteria)? Because I had textbook IBS symptoms for *years* and nothing, but NOTHING, helped. Finally, my current doctor (she’s great) suggested a breath test for H pylori.

      Sure enough, I was positive. One giant series of killer antibiotics later and I’m fine. The one problem is that the antibiotics also killed off my little lactase producing enzymes, so I’ve had to re-build my tolerance for milk. I’ll take drinking lactose-free milk in exchange for daily stomach misery.

      I don’t know if it’s helpful to you, but if you haven’t had this tested, it might be worth it. There IS a breath test, don’t let your medical professionals insist on a stool test.

      1. SongBird*

        … *sigh*

        “I’ll take drinking lactose-free milk in exchange for NO MORE daily stomach misery.”

        (Time for more coffee, clearly.)

    9. Ellen*

      It’s interesting to read what other fellow sufferers have tried. I’m going to try the probiotics, so thanks for those recommendations.
      Going on Bupropion (Wellbutrin) made an incredible improvement in the pain I was experiencing.
      I also found improvement by eating smaller meals, and keeping my fat consumption low. I tried fiber supplements, but found improvement when I ate a large salad every day instead, which would indicate that the type of dietary fiber can make a difference. Stool softeners and Milk Of Magnesia help keep things moving along without the discomfort of laxatives.

    10. Belle diVedremo*

      Talk with your acupuncturist, who should have an educated opinion about how long it should take to know if the treatments are working. Acupuncturists vary like every other health care practitioner, with different levels of expertise and somewhat different skill sets. And acupuncture doesn’t fix everything. My acupuncturist is happy to say what he does and doesn’t work on, and what in his opinion acupuncture doesn’t address.

      Hope you find comfort soon.

    11. JHS*

      This is going to sound ridiculous, but I had IBS-C for years. I did Zelnorm and Amitiza after Zelnorm was pulled from the market. I also did Protonix for 3 years because of delayed gastric emptying. The thing that made my IBS-C better was actually doing a detox diet from my yoga teacher. I know! It sounds like a ridiculous scam or something, but I think I replaced my gut flora by doing it. Basically, it’s three weeks. In the first week, I cut out sugar, alcohol, caffeine, flour and animal products slowly, one day at a time. So you don’t just go cold turkey, you slowly phase them out over the first week. Second week you don’t have any of them, but you should be replacing with lots of veggies and sweet potatoes and beans etc and they gave me a bunch of recipes that even included some chocolatey type stuff made with cacao and avocodo. Third week, you see how you want to phase back in any of the original stuff you tried to cut out. I did that twice in a year (once every six months or so) and it was gone. I kept telling my yoga teacher she should work with a physician and see if she could get it trialed for helping IBS patients, but she just sort of does it for her clients as a nutrition thing. I don’t know if this is remotely helpful, but I figured it would be worth sharing since you seem to be at the end of your rope with it. I understand having been there myself. I haven’t had symptoms now for about 4 years after doing that.

    12. Formica Dinette*

      Have you checked the forums at http://www.helpforibs.com? I’m not into Heather’s products, but the forums helped me narrow down probiotic options based on my symptoms. I found some that work for me without having to waste money trying a bunch of different kinds.

    13. Annie Moose*

      Thanks everyone for sharing your experiences and your suggestions on this awkward/painful subject.

  9. Thyme Lady*

    So one of my favorite frozen products is Amy’s California Burgers and I decided that I am actually going to attempt to make my own today. I won’t call it a copycat recipe since I do not have all of the ingredients listed, but I have some of the main ones.

    1. Clever Name*

      I love making copycat recipes! My best one is a salad with Boston lettuce and a homemade herb dressing and an enormous mound of Parmesan.

        1. Clever Name*

          Ode to Parmesan Salad

          1 head Bibb lettuce
          1/2 block Parmesan cheese, grated
          1 avocado, cut into squares

          9 tablespoons white wine vinegar 
          1 1/2 tablespoons honey 
          1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt 
          1 cup olive oil
          3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
          1 tablespoon minced fresh chives

          Mix the dressing ingredients together and pour over salad 

          1. Clever Name*

            Oh, my sister thinks the dressing also has chervil, but I haven’t been able to find it in the store. I think the dressing is fine without it. (She eats this salad a lot)

        2. Thyme Lady*

          I can but I didn’t measure out my ingredients. A Southern woman taught me most of what I know when it comes to cooking. and she rarely measured anything. I picked up that habit.

    2. Clever Name*

      So how were the burgers? Making your own meatless burgers is a great idea. Think of all the different seasonings you could do. Black bean chipotle. Navy bean and curry.

      1. Thyme Lady*

        They came out great! Actually, they may be the best veggie burgers that I have ever made. I didn’t have oats (which is unusual–I usually have some quick-cooking rolled ones in the cupboard), but I have used them as a binder in the past and not been too pleased with the results.

  10. Sam E.*

    Does anyone have tips on dealing with anxiety? This may be too work-related for the open thread.. Alison, let me know and I can save it for another day.

    Long story short, this is my first five-days-a-week job out of grad school, and I’m at near-stupid levels of being worried about losing it – with no basis for these feelings, except that at this point it is a contract position. I’ve been here six months,and had a call at the end of the day on Friday which I handled well but I can’t stop thinking about. My anxiety has gotten to the point that I’ve gone from fine to hysterical sobbing. Being contract, I don’t have any benefits.

    My imposter syndrome is out in full force. Nearly everything I do ranges from “I’m so great at this” to “Oh my God, this is it. This is the thing I’m going to get fired over”.

    1. fposte*

      Hysterical sobbing anxiety sounds like it’s time for a professional–you haven’t said this, but feeling obliged to handle it yourself because you think you should tends to come alongside anxiety, so if this is you, don’t get sucked into that. Go see somebody. CBT is generally a good therapy for anxiety, so I’d start there.

      1. Sam E.*

        Thanks fposte, you’re exactly right – I do feel like I have to handle it myself. I’ll see what kind of resources are available.

      2. migrant worker*

        I co-sign this. You’d see a doctor for debilitating physical pain, right? same idea.

    2. Sami*

      A book that has saved me over and over again is “Anxiety, Phobias and Panic” by Reneau Z. Peurifoy. I have probably 50 or so sticky-note flags, many many more than that of passages underlined and highlighted. In fact, I copied some really helpful lines on notecards and I carry them in my purse. Good luck!

    3. SOMA*

      I’d definitely recommend speaking with a counselor. I was having similar break-downs in 2015, where I’d be totally fine and normal to inconsolably in tears, even in a full blown panic attack. I’ve been seeing a counselor the past few months and she has been wonderful. It’s so freeing to have someone I can tell everything to and she won’t judge me or look down on me. I highly recommend it.

      Good luck, Sam!

  11. LisaLee*

    Popstar is such a ridiculous movie. I thought I was going to hate it (I’m generally not a comedy fan) and I ended up loving it. It’s an R-rated movie about the power of friendship, which is a bizarre and wonderful combination. Andy Samberg seems to have the magic touch.

    1. Emilia Bedelia*

      I loved Popstar! I am a huge Andy Samberg/Lonely Island fan and I really love comedies, so I knew I would like it, but I was really pleasantly surprised at how good of a movie it was.

      You may want to check out the movie Hot Rod- I can’t guarantee you’ll enjoy it, as it’s also a completely ridiculous comedy, but it was also produced by the Lonely Island and stars Andy Samberg as a similarly untalented but lovably enthusiastic wannabe stuntman (along with a whole host of other big names in comedy).

  12. LH*

    Best/Worst Moments of the Week?

    Best: I got to spend time with my brother when he was in town this week and realized how glad I am that I live closer to him now. I’ve always lived far from family and I’m excited to change that. I ‘m also loving my new colleagues on Week 2 of new job and feel so appreciated.

    Worst: I got “dumped” as a friend by a formerly very good friend of mine. While I figured it would happen eventually (said friend is known for abruptly cutting people off and quitting jobs regularly instead of working things out when things get tough), it still makes me sad since this person has been a big part of my life for the last 3 years. I apologized for the hurt feelings and recent miscommunication but I don’t want to get sucked into someone else’s drama. We’re supposed to be going on a trip together overseas this November so that’s going to be interesting. Any tips for a friendship breakup?

    1. Cristina in England*

      That sucks, I’m sorry. I don’t have any advice but I have been there and I still think about those people years later. One thing about people like your friends who ghost instead of sticking anything out is that it’s about them. Whether it is being afraid of being rejected themselves, of failure, or of not measuring up, there is some big time fear going on in this person.
      What are the circumstances of your overseas trip? Everything booked and nonrefundable?

      1. LH*

        Thanks, that’s a great reminder and I’ll try to keep that in mind. Sorry you’ve had this experience too.

        I’m just moving forward as much as I can at this point. I’m going to Iceland in November, the flight and hostel are already booked but luckily nothing else yet. I can probably switch to another hostel/hotel if needed and move forward as a solo trip.

        1. Cristina in England*

          Do a lot of self-care surrounding the flight, assuming you will both be on it, even if you change hotels. Wear your favourite clothes, pack your favourite book and snacks, load up your favourite movies or podcasts or music. Surround yourself with comforting things in case you need a boost. Good for you for still going! I hope you have an awesome time. :-)

    2. Mike C.*

      My wife planned an amazing birthday party for me last weekend, which included two friends of mine who I hadn’t seen in years flying up with their significant others. The next day I got to take them on a walking tour of my workplace (they open it up for families every few years). Ended the day with a soccer match. I have an awesome wife. :D

      Worst: Cleaning up the apartment in preparation!

    3. copy run start*

      Best: Finished Stranger Things. So good, yet so terrifying!

      Worst: Cried after a horrid day at work. Doesn’t look like I’ll be crispy-fried for anything, thankfully. Been licking my wounds and applying copious amounts of chocolate and cheese.

      LH, I used to be friends with a woman who was very hot/cold — for a few months she’d cling to you obsessively, and then the next few you might as well have not existed. Towards the end of our 8 year friendship I really began to dread her calls. It’s been almost two years since that rollercoaster finally ended and I am SO much happier that drama is not in my life. Unfortunately some people are their own problem, but they don’t have to be yours!

      1. Bibliovore*

        Best: Filed my Dossier. After a year the now ten-year-old (vet thinks) rescue pup has relaxed enough (this week) to curl up in her dog bed in the living room while I work instead of hiding behind the big arm chair. Country cousins staying at my house for The Fair. All the laundry is done. And we went to the farmers market and got the most beautiful yellow tomatoes.

        Worst: We have to replace our air-conditioning and heating systems. Signed that contract this week. Replacement will happen in Sept. The plumber had to come for pipes that were blocked by tree roots. The refrigerator died. For those who have been following that saga…the house came with a built-in subzero and that will be 10,000 dollars to replace. We are going with a Liebherr that will fit in the slot. AND Wednesday, I had my first car accident. I was backing out of a space in a parking lot and clipped the bumper of a parked car and broke a (I think) a brake light in his bumper. Found the owner, exchanged information. A police officer was near by, filed an accident report. Then sat in my car and cried.

    4. LCL*

      Best-doggie’s ACL was sprained not torn. He’s getting better!
      Worst- four days of close to 90 degree temps.

    5. Soupspoon McGee*

      Best: I cleaned the bedroom and closet, with much decluttering and bags marked for donation. I did this while procrastinating finishing application essays to PA school (which I did finish, so yay).

      Worst: My partner has been thinking of selling the house he owns and rents out. He was fantasizing that he’d buy another house in our town and live there. I panicked. He said he doesn’t want break up, he just wants his own space because we live in a house I own. He seemed surprised that I thought this was the dumbest idea I’d ever heard.

  13. Marcela*

    AAM readers from the Bay Area, can I ask for your knowledge and advice? DH and I live in Dublin, he works in Pleasanton. Now I got a job in East Palo Alto, and the commute is killing me. It’s not really that it’s long, as it is unpredictable. I have to be at work at 10, so most days I leave home at 8:30. But last week there were two days when the trip was 1:40, so I was late. And this is what causes me unbearable anxiety, being late.

    So we are thinking we need to move closer to my job. But this is the thing and the advice we need, we don’t know where it would be smart to live. We are thinking Fremont, but we don’t know if Union City or Hayward would be too crazy. The 880 is always so full, both ways..

    Of course, I know my question is super specific for our very particular situation, but I would be glad to have any advice. We are foreigners, so the rich network of knowledge from family and friends is not available to us.

    1. SusanIvanova*

      I’ve always lived and worked on the peninsula side, but I’ve had friends who lived in the East Bay and worked in Palo Alto/Mt View – the commute from Fremont was reasonable, Berkeley/Oakland was horrible. From Fremont you can get to 101 without any bridges, and while 101 traffic is worse than 280 it’s still better than the East Bay freeways – and when 101 is really bad, 280 can be a faster alternative. The bay bridges get worse the farther north you go, though it might be better now the Oakland bridge is done.

      I’d look at the traffic maps and see if there’s a town that gives you a reasonable reverse commute to where you work.

    2. neverjaunty*

      Anywhere is going to be pretty equally terrible along 880. Newark, Fremont, or Union City are probably good choices if you’re looking in that zone, and not quite as expensive as farther north, I don’t think.

    3. SongBird*

      I’m in Hayward, just at the bottom of the hill from the college. My partner commutes to Menlo Park, but has commuted to Mountain View and Sunnyvale, all from here (or Alameda, where we used to live).

      He takes Mission Blvd to Industrial, then Dyer to Union City Blvd, which becomes Ardenwood, then Paseo Padre Parkway to 84, and then he’s on the bridge and away. He has flexible timing at work (thank goodness for software companies), but even during the peak commute hours, it tends to be only about an hour for him.

      As for city culture, I’d say that Hayward doesn’t have much. I’m not sure it’s much different from Dublin, honestly; it’s less suburban, but no more ‘cultural’. It’s close enough to interesting East Bay things to be nice – we often drive up to Berkeley on the weekend, or zip across the bay to the coast. It’s cooler (by several degrees!!) than Dublin/Pleasanton, which might or might not matter to you.

      Union City is really expensive; unreasonably so for the Bay Area, I think. A friend of mine from college is looking at apartments there and yikes, they’re easily a thousand dollars a month more than nearby areas. I use Zillow for price checking – it’s a decent search engine for this sort of thing.

      Some parts of San Leandro might be acceptable as well, really; it’s right next to Hayward and not much further north.

      (Source: I’ve lived in the Bay Area since I was 6 years old.)

    4. LJ*

      We know some folks who live in Newark which is right next to Fremont (one town closer to the Dumbarton bridge). They say there isn’t much in town, but it’s cheap!

    5. SAHM*

      I would suggest Hayward, we used to live in Hayward and commute to SJ (Hubby to Santa Clara, while I was going to SJSU). It’s not a *great* commute but it’s decent. About an hour and fairly predictable. Fremont is just a bit closer, maybe shave off 10 -20 minutes to your commute depending on where you are in Fremont (I’m talking taking 880) but again, the housing prices in Fremont are a bit higher. I liked Hayward bc its centrally located, you could go to SF, SJ, Oakland, and Berkeley. Depending on *where* you live in Hayward it can be pretty nice too. Lots of trails in the canyon to hike, not a great school district- unless you’re up in the hills, but overall I like Hayward.

    6. lfi*

      he would be doing the reverse commute but damn i love Oakland; yours would be much worse though. does your office have a vanpool/commuter bus?

      is his office close to a bart station? hayward/san leandro might be an option – easy for you to get onto the san mateo bridge and he would have easy access from 580 to pleasanton.

  14. Kittens*

    How do you approach making major life decisions? For very personal ones, I live by Dear Sugar’s Ghost Ships analogy (as does my future-husband). We are still deciding on kids (we’re both 27, getting married in 9 weeks), but we’ve found peace in knowing that we’ll find happiness either way and have regrets either way.

    My trouble right now is making decisions that don’t involve an either/or choice, and specifically about money. I don’t want to make this question about work itself (of course because this is no-work, no school), but I have always had a bad relationship with work/money due in huge part to my very toxic family’s horrible lessons. So how do you make decisions about next steps in your life when there are a million options?

    1. QualityControlFreak*

      Do you think it would help to visualize what a “good” relationship with work/money would look like to you? I’d suggest exploring different scenarios in your mind around that, and paying attention to how each of those makes you feel. That’s going to look different for each person. Once you’ve identified what a successful outcome would look like, you can work backwards in your mind to where you are now; i.e. ask yourself “what steps do I need to take to get from here to there?” This method has worked well for me. Best wishes.

    2. Stellaaaaa*

      When it comes to the bare-bones of money stuff, I was a bit surprised when I reached a certain point of adulthood and realized I had to almost reach for things to spend money on. As an adult, there simply aren’t a lot of things I want. Pay your rent/mortgage, pay your bills, repurchase your shampoo & toothpaste, maybe pick up one or two new books a month. I’ll splurge on a new bottle of perfume and a Modcloth dress twice a year. I realize this is all very easy to say as someone who doesn’t have money anxiety (don’t worry, I have other problems) but would it be helpful to take some time and think about your deep-seated wants and needs? If you’re not sure that you want a given thing, that means you really don’t want it.

      Of course, society has mapped out certain life steps. If you can afford a house in the region you want to live in, you should probably look for one to buy. If you and your partner want kids and feel your lives are stable, there’s no reason not to have them. What “next steps” in your life are you worried about?

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Some people are higher risk takers than others. I think I am fairly conservative and have been most of my life.

      I try to put myself in places where I think I will have some measure of success. So this means I do not apply for jobs repairing cars. And it also means that I did not buy a 20 room house.

      I try as often as I can to have plan B.

      I am not sure what you mean by decisions do not involve an either or choice. I am guessing you mean several or many choices. Being a conservative person I chose the one that is the easier to fix if it blows up on me. This usually means avoiding things that would paint me into a corner. I will not move to West Overshoe to apply for the only job opening in that area. This is not a good plan for me.

      Be aware that sometimes if we cannot make a decision between choices that maybe because it is not time yet to decide. There maybe something else we should do first.

      As you are doing here, make it a life habit to as advice from people who have something to say that is worth listening to. I understand your fam is not going to be of any help in this regard. Watch for people who seem to be managing things well. At work you may meet someone who is always happy with their doc. So this might be the person to ask to recommend a doc to you. You notice your neighbor has good luck with cars, ask him/her what she is doing that ensures they get a good car.

      Another thing that has helped me with decision making I think about times in my life where I have faced a similar decision. I ask myself how did that play out? What would I change? What would I do the same?

      Handling money is a whole topic unto itself. Posters here can recommend several outstanding websites for advice on budgeting and making money decisions. Basically if you are willing to throw most every thing you learned and rebuild your knowledge pool then you will be okay here.

      My father was not a good money manager at all. I grew resentful of what he did NOT teach me. Then I figure out a) parents cannot teach what they do not know and b) depression kids did not have money so there was no need to learn to manage it. My father followed the advice of his times as an adult, “get as much credit as you can”. He was super stressed. I saw that and I decided to carry a lot less debt and have only one credit card. See, going the opposite way of what our parents did can be a satisfying form of rebellion AND very practical all the same stroke.

      1. Random Citizen*

        Not So NewReader – just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your comments here. I find myself often saving and re-reading them for your insightful advice. Thanks for being so involved in this community!

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Aww. I can assure you that it is a drop in the bucket compared to what I have seen and learned here. It’s to the point now that my friends are starting to say, “where did you learn x or y.” Uh, here.
            So thank you and an in turn my thanks to everyone here for enriching my life and my knowledge.

    4. Honeybee*

      I research the shit out of everything. It’s in my nature to gather statistics, qualitative data (aka personal accounts from people who have done it), secondary information, all kinds of stuff to help me make a decision.

      Buuuuut a lot of time it’s also really based on personal interest and gut feeling. Like when I went to get my PhD in public health, it was a simple premise: I really like research, I love public health (which I learned through internships and research opportunities in college) and I knew at the time I eventually wanted a PhD so it made the most sense to go straight into the PhD instead of doing a master’s first, which was the other choice. I guess technically there were a million other options – marketing and consulting and law school were all other things I considered, and there were lots of other things that were probably more lucrative and on the table, but I dunno, I just liked health research the best. When it came to leaving academia and entering tech, it was because I was bored with public health and didn’t like the job duties in academia and UX research was where I got my next offer. I moved to Seattle because I did some research and the place seemed to have a lot of the stuff I liked. *shrugs* I applied in other areas and kind of let the chips fall where they did – I could’ve just as easily ended up moving to San Francisco or DC or staying in New York, and working in advertising or marketing or a think tank (all places I applied for).

      I don’t know, as I’ve gotten older I think I’ve gotten even less paranoid about finally pulling the trigger than I was when younger. One, I know what I like better than before. Two, choices are rarely irreversible – my reasoning was that if I didn’t like my job and/or Seattle I could always move later.

      As for children – I’m 30, my husband is 31, we just celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary, and we still don’t know whether we want to have children. We’re ambivalent. I still have an IUD. Our philosophy now is that children are something you have to really want and not something you should do ambivalently, plus having children would require decisive action (getting the IUD removed) so right now, we’re not having any. We check in with each other periodically to see if anything has changed. And we’ll of course revisit it in about 3 years – I’m in a clinical trial to test my IUD, Liletta, for 7 total years, so at that point I’d have to decide whether I want to get another one inserted or what. Somewhere between 33 and 35 is when I wanted to have a first child anyway, if any – so that seems as good a time as any to figure it out.

    5. migrant worker*

      I’m a satisficer. When presented with multiple options, it’s seldom that there is only one good option, and also rare that there is ever a ‘perfect’ option. So I pick the one that is good enough based on circumstances. I’ve rarely regretted it.

      What I have regretted – not being bold enough. Not having a good plan for going into something. Often the two go together.

      In terms of money it can take a while to undo the toxic habits we’ve built up or internalised. Sometimes it takes a good while of just sitting down and working through some of the cause-and-effect of situations, and what would you do and not do again? I also draw a lot from other people’s experiences.

      Is there someone in your life who has the kind of relationship with work and money that you think is a healthy? Can you have a chat with them about it?

    6. Ava Avarice*

      Those who are best at managing finances for businesses tend to be the worst at personal finances; they either spend too much or not at all. My suggestion would be to research in personal finance programs or systems. YNAB and Dave Ramsey are both massively popular for good reason: they teach not only how to properly budget and save money, but also how to spend money.

    7. JHS*

      If you need to ask any questions about deciding whether to have kids, I’d be happy to do an AMA as a married for 3 years 32 year old with an 11 month old baby girl and a dog. Husband and I are both in professional jobs with crazy schedules. Husband always knew he wanted kids, I was never really a baby person and was a little terrified about having them. We both could have been happy either way.

      1. Kittens*

        Thank you all for comments, I’m bookmarking to re-read tomorrow afternoon. After posting this Saturday morning I went into work that night and found notice of a mandatory Monday afternoon meeting, which for many complicated reasons is likely to mean our location is a goner. So big decisions may be made for me!

  15. Red*

    I think I just ordered my wedding dress! Didn’t expect to, the wedding isn’t till next fall, but I was shopping for a guest dress for a friend’s wedding and happened across a dress that was exactly what I didn’t know I was looking for, couldn’t pass it up! And, even better, it’s a style and at a price point where even if I end up not wanting to wear it for the wedding, I can wear it for other dressy occasions.

  16. Cristina in England*

    Bathroom / renovation update, kind of.

    It is still not finished. We came home from our 2 week holiday and I had to take the kids to a hotel in our city for another few days because we couldn’t use the toilet or bath, and there was no shower, and there were no doors on the bathroom or half bath/WC. The builders have been horrendous and ruined parts of our house, to the point where the boss called from his own holiday in Spain to apologise, and he came over in person today to apologise and to arrange for repainting and a second professional cleaning at his expense. Also, various bits haven’t worked, have arrived damaged or in the wrong size, or have been incompatible with something else and we are just so down about the whole thing because it has cost a fortune and we have nothing left to spend on any other renovations anywhere else (including putting anything back into the garden we’ve ripped up).

    One thing we can already laugh about: my husband wanted new doors for the bathroom and half-bath/WC, and he wanted frosted windows in them because the hall is really dark when the room doors are shut. So he ordered some nice oak doors and they arrived… with clear glass. As in, the door on the bathroom and half bath have giant clear windows in them! It will take about two weeks for the new glass to arrive and be fitted in the doors. Did I mention my mother is visiting from the US in a few days? Thankfully she had a good laugh when I told her she would be lucky if we even had bathroom doors, so I am sure she will appreciate the wrapping paper window shade I am going to have to rig up.

    A good thing that happened was that the box room bedroom looks great. We had a custom bed fitted behind the door, with a wardrobe, top cabinets, some under bed storage, and a desk. The whole room is only 5′ by 8′ so it is like a sleeper car on a train, but it looks bigger somehow with the furniture in and is just so neat, I love it.

    1. Cristina in England*

      The box room builders and the bathroom builders were completely separate groups of people, so that’s why one worked out so well and the other didn’t,

    2. Caledonia*

      Oh Cristina, I am so sorry it’s been so bad! They should comp you for the hotel stay also, as they clearly made your house uninhabitable/not fit to live in.

      Re: the glass, you could keep the clear glass but homebase/B & q have sheets that you can place on windows to block out the light/make it harder to see through – I bought one in a bird pattern for my window as it faced into the street. Will link in next comment.

      1. Cristina in England*

        Thank you, yes you’re right, they should. At least one thing that went wrong is beyond their control, but plenty of it was their own fault. The one thing was this: when they started to pull the plaster down in the bathroom ceiling, in order to insulate and put in the spotlights, it turned out that the ceiling was concrete, and that meant the ceiling was lowered a bit more than it would have been because they had to put some wooden slats in or something. That plus a slightly higher bath means that my husband now can’t raise his arms properly to wash his hair because they hit the ceiling (he is tall but not a giant, about 6′). I actually cried when my husband told me that, because of all the functions of a bathroom, taking a shower is a pretty fundamental one to go wrong, and a daily annoyance that wasn’t there before.

        That bird paper is so pretty! I love it.

        1. Caledonia*

          But…why didn’t they say that to you? Why did they make the decision for you? Because if they’d told you that and said it would need lowered, would you have made that decision?
          I’m not surprised you cried. Everytime it’s going to be a reminder :/

          (can you tell I’ve had issues before!?)

          1. Cristina in England*

            To be fair to them, they did tell us that underneath the plaster the ceiling was concrete, so they would need to put in some wood to attach the spotlights. My husband said OK. I don’t think either of us thought it would be a big enough difference to get in his way, and I know I never ever would have considered that because to me, even now, the ceiling doesn’t look any lower (I am farther away from it then he is though!). I have never ever wanted to build my own house and this is one of the reasons why: too many decisions to make on things I know nothing about.

          2. Cristina in England*

            Whoops, I should rescind my fairness to the builders. I just found out that they did install the bath too high! The bath panel has a gap at the bottom of it, which they’ve left exposed. Sigh.

  17. Nervous Accountant*

    I realized I have been chronically fatigued for the last month now. Aside from grocery shopping and half hearted attempts to meal prep, and 1 afternoon at friends house, most weekends I stay home and veg out. I just don’t have teh energy to do anything or go anywhere. I wake up, do grocery shopping, and that wipes out my energy. I just stay in bed all afternoon/all day. It’s that kind of feeling, where I can’t sleep, butI’m too tired to do anything else.

    No clue what’s going on, I’m taking my medications (insulin & pills for diabetes), I get 8-10 hours of sleep a night, sugar levels aren’t higher, I managed to squeeze 20-30M of cardio 10 days this month. No amount of coffee or energy drinks will change my energy level, esp on weekends.

    The fatigue also affects me during the work week, I had 1 day when I was so tired I cried in frustration bc I still had coffee, had my normal amt of sleep etc. I would like to figure this otu so I can go to my Dr and have some treatment. I’m trying to get pregnant as well, so I’m apprehensive about starting new medication.

    1. Awkward Interviewee*

      Why do you need to figure this out before seeing your doctor? Thyroid issues and low iron, vitamin D, and B12 are all common causes of fatigue, especially in women. Your doctor can do a simple blood test for these.

    2. AnAppleADay*

      Is it really hot where you live? Has it been awhile since it rained?

      For me personally, summer in Seattle when it gets above 73, I slow way down. Energy is zapped and I have a lot of trouble staying asleep due to the heat.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        Oh yeah,I’m in NYC, and we had a hot spell for a few weeks. as well as rain almost every night this month.

    3. Clever Name*

      Make an appointment with your doctor now. You and your doctor together can figure it out together. If they tell you it’s in your head, find a different Doctor. (No idea why my iPad is capitalizing Doctor, but since it makes me think of Doctor who, I’ll go with it)

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        Ok I hope so. I really do need a new Dr because I feel like this one brushes me off and never took me seriously Bc of my weight and diabetes until I actually got my husband involved. I have no idea where to begin to even look thiugh.

        1. EmmaLou*

          Is there another doctor in your life that you do like? I found my current doctor that I adore who listens to me and gives me hope through my husband’s orthopedist from a car accident. (who we also love) I just asked him for a recommendation for a GP and explained why I needed one and he gave me list of three options and said the top office on the list was his best recommendation.

    4. Amtelope*

      You’re not supposed to have to diagnose yourself. See your doctor — they’re the one who’s supposed to figure out what’s wrong with you.

    5. Chaordic One*

      Yes, you do need to see a doctor.

      Is there anything unusual or extra stressful going on at work? You might try laying off the coffee and caffeine for a while. Stay hydrated. Watch what you eat, stick to healthy things and lay off the junk food.

      I’m glad you’re managing to squeeze in some cardio. That’s good. You really might consider postponing getting pregnant until you feel better.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        Work is OK, it’s pretty slow. I did have an issue with my boss last week that stressed me out, but the fatigue was from before that.

        I can’t imagine going a working day without coffee but I’ll try!!! I can have 2 cups in the AM and still yawn at 4 pm but if I drink a small cup anytime after 12 pm, I’ll be up late. Weird! I go without on the weekends and I’m super sluggish for 2 days.

        1. Chaordic One*

          Maybe consider limiting your coffee to the morning and switching to tea in the afternoon and evening.

          1. Natalie*

            Or even decaf coffee. I find I have a psychosomatic reaction to the taste even though it has basically no caffeine.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        Well the super busy spell ended about 4 months ago and it’s actually ramping back up. While I occasionally yawn during the day, the head dropping eye closing was a rare occurrence this month.

    6. Awkward Interviewee*

      Oh, actually, one thing to check before you see the doctor – you’re sure you’re not pregnant yet (since you said you’re trying)? I’ve never been pregnant, but my sister has several kids and she’s said that fatigue is one of her early symptoms.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        I’m pretty sure I’m not, I’m desperate for it to happen, but My period is due this week, and I’ve had all my PMS symptoms (weepy, hungry, crazy thoughts).

        1. chickabiddy*

          Early pregnancy symptoms are very, very similar to PMS symptoms. I’m not trying to give false hope, but don’t write the cycle off yet.

            1. JHS*

              I’ve been there! It took me a year to get pregnant and I found out I was pregnant the week before I was going to be starting IVF. I actually have a genetic condition that makes me have serious fertility issues. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate.

            2. lfi*

              me too :( we are going into fourth cycle of trying and i feel like everyone around me is all BAM PREGNANT.

              1. Nervous Accountant*

                Yep, it seems like it just happens so easily for others. :-/ Ive had 2 miscarriages, and I love holding babies, so imagine the weird/pitying looks I get. Alas, no point in dwelling on this.

                I like the suggestion of reproductive endocrinologist. I really need to take more control of my healthcare team, I feel like I’ve had more shitty experiences w health professionals (rude, brushing me off, irrelevant comments about my weight etc) than good. I know there are amazing Drs, But I’ve no clue where to begin.

                1. JHS*

                  Yes DEFINITELY go to a reproductive endocrinologist! That’s how I found out about my genetic condition. I am so very sorry about your miscarriages. Please accept this big virtual hug. I had one also and it was devastating. Just know that things will happen, even if it has to be with intervention. My doctor attributes mine to the “relaxation” gap when I knew I was going to have IVF. It seems crazy but there really is a factor of watching the kettle with getting pregnant. And please ignore those people who say annoying things like “all my husband has to do is look at me and I’m pregnant.” People don’t talk about infertility issues, but trust me, there are way more of us than the “bam” pregnant people.

    7. Champagne_Dreams*

      This sounds endocrine-system related. You sound like me when my adrenals were destroyed and I was still undiagnosed. Given that you are trying to become pregnant anyway and you have pre-existing endo issues, I would go see a reproductive endocrinologist. Those reproductive endocrinologists are WAY more thorough than the standard-issue endo, and you’re interested in getting pregnant anyway so that would be a win-win-win.

      1. Ava Avarice*

        Yes!! I was hoping someone would say this. With weight and insulin issues aside, an RE will really be able to help you. Simple supplements can resolve a tremendous amount of issues but you need to have blood work done to determine which supplements you need.

        And I’m sure you know this, but as someone TTC, you should already be taking a high-quality pre-natal vitamin with FOLATE (not folic acid).

        All women of child bearing age, whether you want to have kids or not, should be taking that.

    8. Belle diVedremo*

      Anxiety and stress each drain your adrenals.
      I really like the idea of a reproductive endocrinologist.
      If you’re up for it, it sounds like acupuncture might be helpful. I get hormonal system support, among other things, from mine.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        This is all so daunting. I’ve no clue where to begin. I’m 31 and nowhere near pregnant. I feel like my time is running out quickly.

        it’s 2:30 AM and I’m having my bout of insomnia.

        1. Kate R.Pillar (DE)*

          I am sorry, I know that feeling of late-night despair!

          In all likelihood though, your time is not running out just yet!
          There’s an article in “The Atlantic” that debunks a lot of this – yes, fertility does drop, but the decline is not as stark as we usually believe, and not as early. Will post link in next comment.

          I read this article early in our own journey of TTC – and I know that I did not quite believe that it would apply to me. I had this silent conviction that our attempts were doomed, as I was already 35 years old…
          if all goes well, our girl will be born a few weeks after my 37th birthday; less than two months from now.

          Keeping my fingers crossed for you! For the bouts of insomnia, for figuring out what is causing your fatigue, and for your TTC journey.

  18. Applesauced*

    AAMers of the Pacific Northwest! My boyfriend and I are doing a week long trip to your area and I’m so excited! We are going to spend a few days in Seattle, a day or two driving between, then a few days in Portland.
    For reference, we’re both early thirties artsy and outdoorsy people – in the cities we’ll do some touristy stuff, lots of eating and drinking, and hopefully some “urban adventuring” (kayak the bay, hike the parks…)
    I’m torn on what to do in between!
    We both like hiking and camping (I lean towards “glamping” he could take a hammock to the woods and be happy) I’ve heard driving down the coast is nice, but I kind feel like we got to the Atlantic coast a lot (we’re in New England) and we’ll be SO CLOSE Mt Rainer… Any insights would be great!

      1. First Initial dot Last Name*

        +1 Mt St Helens

        Ho Rainforest on the Olympic Peninsula is a fabulous day hike — or you can go in and camp overnight, there are great hot springs in there.

        The Pacific coast and the Atlantic coast are different enough that it wouldn’t be more of the same, and you can see mountains and the coast all in the same day!

        It might be fun to go east of the mountains too, there is such great diversity west to east in Washington and Oregon, it’s like two different worlds. Lots of people kinda forget that we have desert and lava flow a few miles over the hills.

    1. Julie of the PNW*

      The Olympic Peninsula is beautiful and has lots of hiking, kayaking in the bays and lakes, oyster and clam harvesting. There’s natural hot springs in the north part of Olympic NP. The west side of it is rain forest so while you’ve seen coastal areas this would be different, I think.
      My Ranier is pretty awesome and is more direct between the two cities. Mt St Helen’s is interesting, good for hiking and scenic driving. Check out Lewis Falls south it.

    2. Allison Mary*

      In Portland:

      Check out Forest Park! If I heard correctly, it’s the biggest park within city limits in the United States – even if that’s not true, it is certainly ONE of the biggest – it’s huge!

      I haven’t done these myself (mostly because I don’t drink beer), but if you two are beer drinkers at all, look into either Brew Cycle or Brew Barge.

      If you’ve never explored Powell’s City of Books, definitely check that out.

      Food! OMG, so much food. If you don’t already have a list of restaurants to check out in Portland, I recommend the following:

      – Salt & Straw ice cream, get their seasonal flavors (don’t bother with Voodoo doughnuts – I don’t think the quality of the doughnuts justify the long lines, which is NOT something I would say for Salt & Straw. The quality DOES justify the long lines, just plan on possibly being in line for a while, depending on the time of day).
      – Petite Provence: amazing French restaurant, for really any meal of the day, but brunch and dinner are especially good.
      – Tilt: some of the best burgers I’ve ever had in the city.
      – Slappycakes: it can be really difficult to get into on a weekend morning, but damn if they aren’t one of the best breakfast places I’ve ever been to.
      – Tasty & Sons: same as above, good for any meal (all of these will be easier to get into on a weekday while everyone else is at work).

      That’s everything I can think of right now.

      1. Red*

        Is Veritable Quandary still open in Portland? I had friends who used to swear it was the best restaurant ever, but they left Portland a few years back.

        1. Allison Mary*

          Oh yeah, I’ve been there once, it was really good! But last I heard, they were maybe going to have to close down, or at least move, due to some issue with the city and the land they were on?

    3. Lydia*

      +1 to both Mount St Helens and Salt & Straw! If you go to Mount St. Helens I’d recommend the Ape Caves as well – underground lava tube from a past eruption (~2000 years ago). You can bring your own lantern or rent one there for $10 if I remember correctly. Portland Walking tours does some great food tours if you want some guidance. Also in Portland be sure to check out Alberta St, that’s the arts district (and conveniently where Salt & Straw is located). If the timing works out visit on the last Thursday night of the month – there is a monthly street/art festival called Last Thursday where all the shops stay open, vendors artists and food trucks fill the street, etc.

      Have a fantastic time!

    4. Temperance*

      I must implore you to a.) spend some time at Pike Brewing (they have AWESOME beer and also a room they call the Craft Beer Museum, with all manner of really cool beer stuff) and b.) Top Pot Donuts. SO DELICIOUS.

      There’s also this really delicious bourbon bar in Pike Place. I can’t remember the name, but the alcohol and food are so good.

      I also HIGHLY RECOMMEND the EMP Museum. There is a City Pass thing that will let you in a whole bunch of really fun attractions, like the Space Needle.

      1. Trix*

        Radiator Whiskey! Love that place. And Pike Place Market is one of the most worth-it touristy places in Seattle, absolutely worth a visit.

    5. Rovannen*

      If you have the time, Google Ape Caves by Mt. St. Helens. If you’re into lava tubes, it’s great. Plan on spending at least a half day, a full day is best to see everything.

      1. Rovannen*

        Forgot, Beacon Rock on HWY 14. It’s east of I-5, down the Columbia River. Hike to the top and see the Columbia River Basin.

    6. Thinking out loud*

      The Olympic peninsula is beautiful, but I don’t think it would be worth it with the time you have available. I’d vote for Mt Rainier or Mt St Helens instead.

      Seattle-ish food: We love Bai Tong (Thai), Barking Frog (kind of expensive/northwest), Dahlia Lounge (northwest), Taste of India (Indian), and Petite Toulouse. My favorite Naples style pizza is Pizza Pulcinella and my favorite New York style is Talarico’s. Top Pot does have excellent donuts.

  19. Emilia Bedelia*

    I just submitted an application for a new apartment today- I’m really excited, because I really love this place, but also nervous because I know that other people submitted applications first, and I couldn’t really get a straight answer on how good my chances were. I’m not sure how to gauge my own competitiveness- obviously, I don’t know who else has applied, but I feel like I’m a decent candidate. I have okay credit (680, ish), a decent salary (the rent would be about 25% of my gross salary/40% of my net, which fits in fine with my budget), and I think my references will be good (I’m a good tenant, and my landlords have always liked me). But I need to be better than the rest of the applicant pool… and I don’t have the advantage of being first.

    Fingers crossed that I get the place!

  20. salad fingers*

    I’m interested to hear if anyone has used Apartment Therapy’s clean your house in 20 minutes a day approach before. The idea is you devote 20 minutes a day to a specific, assigned cleaning task on a 30 day cycle. They have an outline so that cleaning things like the bathroom recurs frequently, but deep cleaning the fridge only shows up once a month. For some reason this really appeals to my cleaning sensibilities. Has anyone done this or something similar?

    I’ll link below.

    1. fposte*

      I use the app Home Routines, which is similar. I like it a lot–my challenge is always breaking things down, so while I can’t deal with “Clean the house” I can deal with “Put away clothes on bedroom floor.” It also allows me to customize for particular stuff that either bugs me most or is specific to my lifestyle. In just about everything, I’m a sprinter, not a stayer; I can power through and then need to stop and do something else.

      1. salad fingers*

        I’m also not always great at thinking about tasks in terms of manageable chunks, and I like the idea of someone taking the decision making out of cleaning. Should I start here, or is this more a priority? Doesn’t matter because the list says today we do “x”. The list knows best.

        1. salad fingers*

          Also, boo, went to download Home Routines but it looks like it’s not available on Android :-(

      2. Cristina in England*

        Wow, that app looks neat! I might pay the £3.99 for it since I have been needing exactly this.

    2. Chaordic One*

      Well, I tried, but almost everything took longer than 20 minutes. (Sometimes half an hour, sometimes 45 minutes, a couple of times a whole hour.) Maybe that’s just me. At the very least I have to say that it motivated to get things done, so even though things took longer than 20 minutes, they did get done and I’m grateful for that.

      1. salad fingers*

        I wonder if this system was designed for people with apartments/small houses. For me, living in a pretty compact apartment, 20 minutes is enough for most of these things. However, I can imagine things like “Clean every interior window surface in the house” could take a loooong time for some people.

        1. Jillociraptor*

          I think that’s right! I used the system for a little while in my 650 sq ft apartment and I would say most tasks took about 15-20 minutes, so if you’re in a larger dwelling, I’d have to imagine that chunk of time won’t be sufficient?

          The timing was fine for me, then, but the reason I gave up on this plan is that everything always felt unfinished! My apartment probably was overall cleaner, but I would get anxious spending 20 minutes cleaning, having all the cleaning supplies out and ready to go, and being in the “cleaning mindset” but then having to stop. UFYH strongly advises against the cleaning binge, but that’s honestly the only way I’ve ever been able to have any part of my house be clean. The anxiety of cleaning just one thing at a time is so overwhelming that I’d rather just have that thing be messy again than have some parts of my house be cleaned up and others still messy.

          1. salad fingers*

            Hmmm, not so sure. The article is titled “How to Clean Your House in 20 Minutes a Day for 30 days” and most of the things on the site aren’t actually apartment specific. I hear ya though, that would make sense.

    3. Honeybee*

      I’ve never heard of the specific approach but this has long been the way I’ve done my cleaning, because I get super bored with cleaning very quickly so I typically divide it into 30-60 minute spurts. I’ll usually decide either on a whim or based on need which area is getting cleaned first and then tackle that. Then if I feel like it, I’ll tackle another area later. Usually I do 1-2 of these sprints on a weekday morning and then 1-2 during the week. I definitely don’t do it every day though.

      Having a “landing” strip has always been a technique of mine – I have a specific place I put my keys and work bag and a coat closet near the front door. Doing the dishes after every meal is something we’re working on – my husband just joined me from an LDR and dinner dishes are his responsibility since I cook, but he usually leaves them sitting in the sink overnight, which irritates me (especially since we have a dishwasher!) He does all our laundry and he does do it in small increments. I always play music while I clean! Keeps me upbeat.

      1. salad fingers*

        I am super impressed that you get cleaning in before work. That is sort of the dream – I’ve tried a couple of times but I find I just. want. to sleep.

        Boyfriend and I are also trying to do the dishes right away after meals. There is nothing like a pristine space (kitchen, in this case) to motivate you to keep things tidy. Unless you are a cat.

    4. migrant worker*

      Wow I really need this. But… none of those things takes 20 minutes for me to do – just vaccuuming one room takes 20 minutes because of having to move stuff around to get under things, putting away the vaccuum, etc. But still better than nothing?

      I will try this…. thanks!

      1. salad fingers*

        Yes! I think a lot of the things Alison talked about earlier this week in the post about improving work ethic apply here. The idea is you just tell yourself you’ll clean for 20 minutes, anyone can do 20 minutes. And then you get on a roll and continue. Or maybe you don’t, but you’ve at least done 20 minutes :)

    5. Rob Lowe can't read*

      No, but now I want to. I have a really, really high tolerance for home dirtiness, and were it not for the fact that I cohabitate, I would probably not clean anything more than once per month. (Except dishes, I’ve always been good about taking care of those because I like to cook and eat.) It’s a vicious cycle: I hate cleaning, so I do it only minimally, which then means that when the house finally reaches my (or more likely my boyfriend’s) limit, it takes forever to clean and I resent it.

      I think I could do 20-30 minutes daily, though. Use AT’s list or make one that’s similar, put on a podcast, clean until end of podcast. I’m going to try it!

  21. AliCat*

    Okay so my question is a two-parter.
    Over the last few years I have gained a lot of weight (like really a lot) due to depression, stress and anxiety which also kicked my binge eating disorder into hyperdrive. I’m definitely in a bit of a rut and I recognize that so I’m doing everything I can to get the help I need. My fiancé is amazing and supportive…my family less so. My mother has downright contempt for my current size. She cannot be around me without giving me foul looks and making cruel comments. My father keeps on trying to do an intervention and wants to sit down and talk about it all – something that only makes me more ashamed and just sends me spiraling downwards. When I politely decline to discuss these things they call me childish and get angry which also doesn’t have the best effect on me. This normally wouldn’t be an issue given that we don’t leave near each other but they are in town this weekend for a family birthday and my dad is already trying to pin me down for a “talk about my health”. So 1. How can I convey to them that I don’t want to talk and that I need to figure this out on my own (and that I don’t need them constantly emailing me articles about the benefits of chia and broccoli!)? When I’ve said exactly that before they say that they’ve left me alone to fix it and I’ve just gotten bigger. And 2. Any suggestions for getting out of this rut. Any suggestions for dealing with binge eating disorder would be highly appreciated.

    1. fposte*

      Wow, that sucks; I’m sorry. I think it’s time for a tour of the Captain Awkward archives, because they are rich in information about setting boundaries with family and there may even have been letters specifically about weight and eating.

    2. BRR*

      I would tell them straight out your weight is not a topic of conversation. My mom usually started with some comment about my weight when she saw me (like two or three times a year in person and it was literally her second or third sentence). I told her it’s not a topic of conversation Multiple times and finally said “I’m tired of talking about my weight, let’s talk about your’s.” That ended up doing the trick. Anyways if you don’t want to go that route I would just repeat its not a topic of conversation and change the subject or walk out of the room. If they say you’re being childish I would reply it’s childish to not respect your wishes.

      As for the eating I don’t really have a solution, if I did I would be employing it. I would suggest maybe a therapist who has experience with this. I would also make sure you’re getting treatment for your depression and anxiety. That might help.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      It depends on how you feel about it, but you could tell them, “Either stop talking about my weight or I will be done visiting with you while you are in town.”

      I was in my late teens. My father said to me one day, “God, you’re fat. You need to lose weight.”
      I said, “I have lost 25 pounds. How many pounds have you lost?”
      He never, ever, spoke of my weight again, to the point that when I did lose the weight he NEVER mentioned that he noticed-lol.
      You could fight fire with fire. You could point out all the things they are doing wrong with their health. They probably take a few scripts, google the scripts and read the side effects to them.

      Personally, I would not bother trying to discuss anything. I would just draw a line and stand by it. “Not up for discussion, folks. Next topic?”

      Your mother is almost making my blood boil. Love is a water faucet, eh? It turns on and off at will? I run out of patience for the head games, really. And it does not matter what your rank in my life is, a head game is a head game and I need to move away from head games. If she can’t keep a civil tongue in her head, what is the point of you visiting with her? That is not visiting that is abusing.

      As far as binge eating, I am not sure I was a binge eater. If I opened a box of cookies I had to finish the box. If the cookies are not in the house then there was no problem. I got into a lot of alternative stuff because I wanted drug free and non-invasive help with things. So the practitioner I went to said that overeating comes in part because of lack of nutrition. The body is so desperate for vitamins and minerals that the brain says, “eat more, eat more.” I found that to be true for me to some degree. I also had to take a hard look at how I view food. In the end, I was absolutely shocked by how many non-food issues went into solving my weight problem. For example, allergy to fragrances made me lethargic and slowed me down. When the allergies started bogging me down, I started grazing more. Which makes sense of you think of food as energy. I grazed to get energy after being zapped by allergy.

      I think at the moment, just get through your parents’ visit then deal with life. It sounds like you got your hands full just dealing with them.

    4. Amy*

      I solved this with my parents by telling them explicitly in the moment that I wasn’t interested and I would leave if they continued, then I left. I addressed it at a different calm time and said I wasn’t open to this kind of conversation and why, and then set the boundry that I would leave if it kept happening. I give them one warning and the second time it comes up I walk out and don’t speak to them until I feel like it (sometimes many many weeks later). Over time they started to stop themselves as they started to say something, then eventually they stopped starting, and now it’s not a problem

    5. Honeybee*

      Agreeing with the comments about cutting off the conversation, making clear that you are not interested or willing to talk about these things and leaving if they continue to try. Eventually they will get the picture – or you will have to severely cut down your time with them. Captain Awkward has a lot of great posts about the wording and how to have these conversations, especially with parents.

      I think with your parents, you should be able to be blunt. So you can tell your dad, “I cannot pin down a time for this because I am not willing to talk about my health with you.” and “If you continue to send me emails about my health, I will block your emails and stop responding.” with the last comment, about them leaving you alone to fix it, insist “This conversation topic is off-limits/I will not talk about this with you. If you keep talking about it, I will leave.” And do it if they do.

      As for the binge eating disorder – do you have access to mental health care? Even if you don’t have health insurance, you may be able to access affordable community mental health care if you live in or near a big city with a community clinic. Many of them have sliding scales.

    6. migrant worker*

      on 1)

      a) they are getting upset because they are concerned (which is good) but failing to recognise a boundary (which is bad). So likely both pieces need to get addressed. ‘Parents, I understand you are worried, and I appreciate that but part of loving someone else is trusting them to sort out their own ish. Please demonstrate that love by giving me the space and faith to sort this out and trust that I will come to you when I need help.’

      Other things to note – your mom might need a more direct ‘your actions are very hurtful and are hindering not helping. if you really care then what I need from you right now is support and not judgement’.

      b) the worst way to handle this is to engage. that has taken me almost 40 years to figure out. :) either ‘this is not a topic for discussion’ or complete silence is appropriate when it comes up. dad needs to hear ‘i will not sit down and discuss with you at all, so stop asking for a time’.

      in response to: ‘we left you alone to fix it’ i think the answer is actually no they didn’t. they’ve continued to hound you on it. how about they try complete silence on the issue for 6 months?

      c) there are two different conversations that need to happen, as Amy noted. at a calm time when the topic hasn’t been raised, you can raise the ‘i need support not opprobium’ conversation. would suggest in this conversation to also note that if they do bring up things you’ve said you don’t want to talk about, you will disengage and leave the conversation/room/etc. and then you have to follow through.

      when they do bring stuff up, then it’s ‘we talked about not talking about this’ and if they continue then you leave.

      2) this is harder. :) if not already, do seek help with the depression and anxiety issues, separate from any binge eating. giving yourself the head space to visualise change is really important.

      separately, i think once you feel you have the family pressure in a place you can handle, you might find the emotional baggage lessening, which will naturally reduce some of the binge eating.

      one thing that i find is helpful for me is to keep a journal (there are apps for this too, or even emails.texts to self). everytime i eat something (healthy or otherwise) i write down how i’m feeling – even just 3-4 words. if i have more time, i might write a bit more, like whatever event is triggering those feelings. over time you’ll start to notice the pattern, and then you can see (maybe with the help of others) some options for breaking that pattern.

      separately, if you aren’t already, doing some exercise can help too – even just a walk. if it’s something you can fit in.

      good luck!

    7. Girasol*

      Sympathy! I hate it when people, and most especially family, say “Did you know you’ve gained weight?” as if you could possibly have failed to notice, and offer basic diet advice like, “You know, you should eat less,” as if the thought would never have occurred without their advice. My two cents is that you’re on the right track now. My binge eating is worst when I’m most worried about it and seems to clear up naturally when weight and diet fade from being the central focus of my attention. Evading the naggers is a great first step.

      1. AliCat*

        This! So much this! I’ve been struggling with how to communicate to them that their nagging and hurtful comments just triggers a binge and sends me down a hole that takes me weeks to get back to positive thinking. When I explain it, all they hear is “I’m a child and I will do exactly the opposite of what you ask just to spite you!!” I suppose it doesn’t help that they don’t recognize binge eating disorder as an actually thing even though it’s been an issue since I was a child. And you’re right, their solution is always eat less or even don’t eat at all, though now they are telling me I need gastric bypass so that’s a nice development.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          “Mom and Dad, nagging and hurtful comments do not help anyone. Would you lose weight if I spoke to you in the manner you are speaking to me? I sincerely doubt it.
          Which brings me to my point, I expect to be spoken to in a decent manner. If you cannot do that then I must leave.”

    8. Temperance*

      Tell them no. Repeat as necessary.

      Your weight and health is between you and your doctor. Not your overbearing, jerkass parents. If anything, your parents and their incessant nagging are probably even fueling your eating disorder.

      I think you need to take some space from your parents. You don’t actually have to talk to them, or let them visit you, or read their shitty emails.

    9. Pennalynn Lott*

      I’ve told this story here before, but I got my dad to back off about my weight years ago when I was visiting him in San Francisco. We sat down to lunch at his favorite diner and I was eating a turkey burger and fries. As I was popping a french fry in my moth, my dad said something like, “Eating food like that is why you’re so fat.”

      I jumped up out of my chair so fast that I knocked it over backwards and, looking bewildered and confused, said as loudly as I could, “OH MY GOD, I’M *FAT*?? WHY DIDN’T ANYONE TELL ME THIS BEFORE?!?” And then I picked up my chair, sat back down, and went back to eating like nothing had happened. My dad was mortified because, of course, everyone in the restaurant was staring at us.

      He has never mentioned my weight again.

      P.S. We’d already had the calm, “Dad, you’ve been criticizing me about my weight for a decade now, and I’m still fat. . . how’s that workin’ for ya?” conversation. (To which he replied, “So when I see a train wreck about to happen, I’m just supposed to stand there and stay silent?” And I said, “If it concerns my weight, yes.” And he still didn’t get it.) Something drastic was needed to get through to him.

    10. anonymous today*

      I’ve struggled with binge eating too and have been thinking about seeing a counselor about it, mostly because it seems to keep resurfacing every few years after I think I have it figured out and like most eating disorders, there’s probably something deeper I need to be working on rather than just the eating part. I’ll be rooting for you, and am happy to hear you have a supportive s.o.

      Also – I definitely won’t pretend I don’t have body issues, but I have been really encouraged/empowered by one of my fav blogs, Fit is a Feminist Issue, and their many great pieces about letting go of weight loss/thinness = moral goodness messages https://fitisafeministissue.com/category/weight-loss/

  22. pony tailed wonder*

    I met someone on a dating site. He is promising. I enjoy his company. However, he doesn’t have a job and doesn’t seem to be looking for one. I am going to inquire on our next date but would you all think it is a deal breaker or red flag?

    1. fposte*

      It depends on why, his history, what else he’s doing, how he’s being supported, what this means he expects of me, etc. More importantly, would *you* think it’s a deal breaker or a red flag?

    2. Clever Name*

      Even if the dude is independently wealthy and lives off a trust fund, it would be a deal breaker for me.

      1. periwinkle*

        Linda: I met a nice guy. With my help, he could become a prince.
        Ralph: Who is he?
        Linda: Just a guy.
        Ralph: What does he do?
        Linda: Nothing.
        Ralph: Another beauty.How does he make a living? I take it this bum will be calling you.
        Linda: Dad, he’s a millionaire.
        Ralph: You have my permission to marry him.

      2. Clever Name*

        Also (and this is jus one person’s experience, obviously) I have a friend who married a guy like this. He could never seem to hold down a job and never seemed terribly concerned about getting one. My friend saw how amazing and talented he was and was sure he just hadn’t found the right company and would get his act together sooner or later. Except, 10 years later, he never did. They had a son, and my friend had simply had it, but couldn’t bring herself to divorce him because she was sure he would be on the streets without her. A few more years passed and my friend screwed up her courage and finally divorced him. Guess what? He didn’t end up on the streets because he finally had to get a job, so he got one.

        I guess what I’m saying is that unless you decide you’re cool with being the breadwinner (and why the hell not?) and you know he wants to be a homemaker (again, why not?), I’d assume he isn’t interested in working and won’t suddenly get his act together if you have a relationship/get married/buy a house/have a baby.

        1. Mela*

          My aunt did the same thing as your friend. She only had one child because she always had to support all three of them and I think she regrets that. She also managed to divorce him 15 years later, and is now happy.

    3. chickabiddy*

      It would be a dealbreaker if he played games all day long or expected to marry someone who will pay all the bills. If he was somehow financially independent (and not-rich is fine!) and chose to spend his time doing volunteer work or taking classes, I would not consider it a sign of trouble. I would normally feel awkward discussing finances on a second date, but this is unusual enough that I would try to get a sense of them.

    4. copy run start*

      I had a friend who dated a guy who won a lawsuit against his last employer and lived off the proceeds for a few years. This dude was NOT a winner, to be honest. He never really had a “career” and did zilch with that time off.

      I also have heard of people taking time off to go back to school, to travel, etc. They’ll work for a year or two, save up a large sum, enjoy life for a while/do their thing and then get another job. I’d be okay with that.

      I think you need more info, in short.

    5. Lauren*

      It’s a deal breaker for me. It wouldn’t be if he had been laid off (or perhaps even fired IF he he learned from it) but the fact that he isn’t looking is a huge madly waving red flag.

      I dated a guy for six months who worked the one of the University of California campuses. He got fired from his (union) job, not an easy thing to do. I had warned him gently of what he was doing but he just excused it. HR got more than enough evidence so he lost an extraordinary job (dull, actually, but the benefits are outstanding and it’s not easy to get in there). He waited a month to apply for unemployment, thinking they’d take him back. Nope, second chance, permanently gone. The EDD told him he was fired for cause and wouldn’t get anything. He was very laid back about it and couldn’t be bothered to do much. (He is an artist, a talented one, but lazy. He didn’t even follow up the “in” I got him at my community college to teach art classes to adults.

      A second guy I met about a year later was even worse. He saw me as his financial savior. That wasn’t happening. He’d gone his whole life, as the first guy did, in a kind of “hippy dippy” style. Yes, all of us are that close to retirement age.

      Any man I would consider dating again has to be financially secure and responsible. Anything less is a huge nasty crisis just waiting for the right time to explode. Don’t. Do. This. Involving yourself with this guy could cause you to ruin yourself. If he isn’t responsible now he won’t get better if you are around.

      Warning: Will Robinson!

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        Yeah, you guys all sound like you’re describing my ex-fiance. Thank goodness I finally wised up and dumped his ass before I was actually legally connected to him!

    6. Stellaaaaa*

      I tend to be very forgiving of other people’s “functioning adult” status. If you’re living at home, I need to hear that you’re in school or saving up for a down payment. If you’re unemployed, I need to hear that you’re applying for jobs, going to school, or waiting tables in the meantime. Basically, tell me you’re doing ANYTHING at all and indicate to me that you intend your current situation to be temporary and I’ll believe you. It wouldn’t even bother me if he had a trust fund or whatnot and spent all day playing the piano. Real talk: I wouldn’t work if I didn’t have to, but I’d still find interesting ways to fill my time.

      All that aside, if he’s truly someone who doesn’t work, and just doesn’t want to, it’s valid to think about what it would be like to date him. Do you like to go out? Do you work hard to enable yourself to have nice dinners, see movies, and have like 2 beers on a Saturday night? Would you date someone who couldn’t share in the fun parts of relationships that are important to you?

      Whenever someone posts here about “My spouse and I have different views about money/working/lifestyle,” there are always a bunch of comments along the lines of, “I love my husband, but I wouldn’t have married him if I knew he was serious about never wanting to pull his own weight financially.” You’re not setting yourself up to marry this dude, but you probably also don’t enjoy wasting your time dating someone who you know isn’t a long-term option, so it’s worth making a decision now about whether you’d date someone who doesn’t want to work.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        Real talk: I wouldn’t work if I didn’t have to, but I’d still find interesting ways to fill my time.


        For me, this would be a deal breaker. I’m extremely driven and ambitious, so someone who’s not working at something and doesn’t seem to want to work at anything would be a no go – I’d become resentful over time or just flat out wouldn’t respect him.

        One of my old friends dated a guy who dropped out of school in his senior year of college, quit his job, and sat on the couch all day playing on his laptop. She was shocked, SHOCKED, when after they got married he quit his job without telling her (she only found out when she came home from work early and found him playing video games), refused to go back to school to finish his degree, begged her for money to go out with his friends and to send home to his family in another country, and was just the general bum he was when they were dating. My friend was getting her Masters in Public Health at the time and planned to go to med school (and eventually got into Johns Hopkins) – she was utterly disgusted by this man’s lack of ambition and ultimately ended up divorcing him.

        So I guess you have to figure out what you value, pony tailed wonder, and make sure his actions and values align with yours.

        1. Stellaaaaa*

          I’m with you there. I’m kinda on the fence when it comes to people stating with aplomb that they would never stop working even if they were financially able to. So they would keep their call center jobs if they suddenly inherited a decent amount of money? And what about people who leave the workforce to raise their kids and never end up going back to work? There are a million valid reasons for why a committed couple would be okay on living on only one person’s income. An independently wealthy person might enjoy volunteering, or taking an unpaid internship in a niche industry, or taking writing classes, or using his/her money as a cushion while working toward entering a really competitive field. But let’s be honest: someone with a lot of money probably isn’t into online dating. My personal anecdotal experience is that there are a lot of really great women on dating sites but desirable men don’t need to cast a wide net to find dates. So #sorrynotsorry, but “unemployed dude on a dating site” doesn’t make me too optimistic.

    7. Library Director*

      Red flag for sure, but not a deal breaker. My husband was “forced to retire” it’s because he filed an ethics complaint against a surgeon. He decided it was time for a break from the profession. He already had retirement check A and then went on unemployment. Since he had for a decade been a S Corp he’d paid in both employee and employer portions into the system. The $265 each week wasn’t much, but it was bit of both sides he’d paid. So, on paper he’d been let go and while he applied for jobs he wasn’t really looking. He wasn’t sitting around the house though. He simply put in more volunteer hours and finished his JCL. Don’t be dazzled by the backstory, but it is important.

    8. Yup*

      Really depends. My cousin-in-law (sic!) has currently “retired” from his career in a VERY high-paying field. He’s in his 40s. What this means, in actual fact, is probably that he’s going to take some time off and eventually go back to work. He has plenty of $$$ to support himself and my cousin (who works for much lesser remuneration).

      That’s very different from the lazy bum scenario, so ask!

    9. Hippie Chick*

      I had a date with a 44 yo guy recently that quit his call center job and was hoping to find someone that would help him find himself. This man child wore his pants down by his hips and had his hat on backwards.I wouldn’t have gone out with him except his offer of lunch came up quickly and I had no good reason to turn it down, and how better to really find out what someone is like. I have grown children more mature than this person, and I told him he was just a walking huge red flag. You don’t find yourself, you create yourself and you need a job to do that unless you have money stashed away. My days of raising kids are over and that was a phone number I didn’t keep.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      I’d proceed with caution. For me, I felt that a guy had to be putting in effort. See where his efforts are.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        And keep your options open. Unless he’s pushing for All The Commitment! Right Now! you’re not married to him, you can still see other people. If he can’t pick up his half of the cheque, or is always accidentally leaving his wallet at home, or is already talking about moving in with you because he can’t pay his rent/his parents’ basement is too cold, you’ll have your answer.

    11. Office Plant*

      It’s a red flag. Not a deal breaker because it depends on the person and their situation. But there are a lot of unemployed people who, consciously or not, are looking for a partner to support them. Which is fine if you’re up front about it, but some people aren’t. And some of those people are looking more for financial support than for a real relationship with someone they care about.

      In other words, be careful that this person isn’t going to try to use you for money. It can be hard to tell at first. I’d consider why they’re unemployed, if there are other red flags like acting entitled, what their past relationships have been like, etc. Be objective about it. And maybe bring it up directly and see how they talk about it. And trust your gut.

    12. Dan*

      If he is a trust fund baby or otherwise independently wealthy, you have other things you have to screen for. Does he hold his money over you? If it’s family money, how much involvement does the family have in his life? (I don’t mean this in the “we spend all the holidays together” sense, I mean it in the “if I don’t do what my mom tells me, I’m getting cut off” sense.) I have a friend who married the later, and needless to say, divorced him. Husband and *mom* were joint users on a bank account; my friend never was.

      But I gotta think that the poster who suggests that an independently wealthy person wouldn’t be looking online. They’d have an offline network where they find their dates.

      1. chickabiddy*

        I think you’re right about a truly independently wealthy person. I may be older than many of the actively dating people here — I’m 47 (and newly single, eep) and I would be willing to date someone a bit older than me. So it’s not entirely impossible that I could meet someone who has paid off his house and sent his kids through college and taken early retirement or somesuch, and does not need to work to pay bills, but is not “wealthy” by most people’s standards.

    13. migrant worker*

      I would just ask him what he does on a regular/daily basis. How does he spend his days? Maybe he’s a day trader or earns his income on the stock market? That’s pretty much how my mom is financing her retirement.

    14. pony tailed wonder*

      I went on the date and asked. I knew he had bad back problems and he isn’t working until surgeries are complete and when his back is better, he will get another job. I like him but there is another thing that might be a deal breaker for him. He is an animal lover and has lizardy types of animals which I am terrified of. So, we shall see if I can get over the fear. I will try but, shivers.

    15. Maya Elena*

      I like to approach each relationship as one that could end in marriage eventually, potentially.

      From that lens, picture being married to this guy when he continues not to have a source of income (notice I didnt say “job” though). Could you respect him? Could you see him as a man and lover, rather than a roommate or child, 10 years later?

      I’d say the chances are pretty small of this working out, based on info provided.

  23. SAHM*

    I want to plan a road trip from California Bay Area to Washington. Mostly because in Bellingham, WA there’s the Brambleberry Otion storefront so I could actually test out the fragrance oils in store instead of ordering them sight unseen (or in my case, unsmelled) -and I can turn it into a family road trip! But I really don’t know what’s out there in OR or WA to visit, obviously Seattle, and the coast…. But I don’t really know what else is there. Thinking of talking to a AAA travel advisor for planning, but do you guys have suggestions?

    1. LCL*

      Oh Lord that will be a long drive! Since you are headed that way anyway, try the following words in your browser: Skagit County, highway 20, north cascades highway, Skagit dams, Ross Lake, Anacortes, La Conner antiques, Birch Bay, Chuckanut drive, tulip festival, Skagit river.
      From Bellingham, it is closer to Vancouver BC than Seattle, that’s a whole nother topic. You will need a passport, and if you have a felony record including DUI forget Canada.

    2. KR*

      Multnomah Falls in Oregon, the Kitsap Peninsula area is so gorgeous, if you go s little farther west Lake Cushman is gorgeous and the water is very warm and clear. The Tacoma Zoo rocks.

    3. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      We drove Bay Area to Vancouver, BC once and it was a great drive, but if you take US 101 then be prepared that it will take AGES because of all the switchbacks, though its more scenic than I5.

      Can recommend Oregon State Parks for some cool alternate camping options as they have yurts and cabins available in the parks along the coast and some inland. I HATE camping with a tent, but these were doable for me, and in some very pretty locations. Olympic National Park was really neat for the biodiversity, and we hiked out on a nice trail to the westernmost tip of the contiguous US.

      We went north on the coast and back home south inland, but by that point we wanted to get home (we spent time in Vancouver, etc). We did check out Snoqualmie Falls because it was pretty cool and we are Twin Peaks fans, but we didnt do the Columbia river or anything

    4. Seattle Writer Gal*

      Once you reach Seattle, consider taking a scenic detour through Whidbey Island instead of driving straight up I-5 to Bellingham. Drive from Seattle to Mukilteo (gorgeous lighthouse park on the water at the ferry terminal here), take the ferry over to Clinton and spend the day driving north up the island through Langley, Coupeville and Oak Harbor. Spend some time hiking at Deception Pass State Park before driving over the spectacular cliffside bridge into Anacortes and back onto I-5 up to Bellingham.

      In Oregon, I recommend Crater Lake. And, if you’re willing to add a half-day extra drive time to your journey, a day in Bend, OR. Super cute little town in the middle of Oregon, hip restaurants, very walkable, superb for bicycling and horeseback riding, and is in a region known for its rock climbing (Smith Rock State Park). You can take US26 from Bend to Portland and visit Mount Hood and historic Timberline Lodge along the way.

    5. Ava Avarice*

      Are you dead set on driving? Because Amtrak has an awesome train that goes that same way. You can stop in various locations along the way, and maybe rent a car at your final spot.

    6. SAHM*

      Thanks Everyone! These are great ideas! I’m definitely going to look into each one! So excited now!

    7. Vancouver Reader*

      Oh my gosh, you’re going to my favourite soap store! The only suggestion I have is go to The Copper Hog in Bellingham for a meal. If you like craft beers, even better. It’s a restaurant, so no worries about bringing little ones along, although with it being a university town, be prepared for a lot of college aged kids there, and it can get noisy if there’s a game on.

      1. SAHM*

        Thanks!! I’ve been following the Soap Queens blog for years now and have gone from “I just want to make bath bombs, CP is scary” to having an entire room dedicated to soaping – specifically CP. I love BB’s products and have been DYING to go check out their store. So this is my way of turning a family vacation into a shopping spree ;-)

  24. LawCat*

    I got a couple new plants today. One is an air plant that I am going to put in a glass container with interesting pebbles. The other is a touch sensitive plant! So cool! If has little fronds and if you touch them, they close up. I want to put it in an interesting pot and put it in my office near where people would sit so they will check it out! I have named it Audrey II :-D

    1. Trixie*

      Air plants! Have some really unusual ones at local greenhouses and online. Was just at Trader Joe’s and saw adorable mini succulents. Thinking a trio of them would perfect for work. I also have some cuttings in water with roots going crazy. Plan to plant in a pretty pot this weekend, also for work.

  25. Pennalynn Lott*

    Are auditory migraines a thing? I almost started crying this morning (OK, I cried a little) because my boyfriend Would Not Stop Talking. Either to me or the pets or just making verbal noises to hear his own voice. I asked him to stop talking while I was in the kitchen (emptying the dishwasher, feeding the cats, etc), so he went into the living room and turned the TV on. . . with the volume turned waaaay up. I had to go hide in my bedroom, and turn on the window A/C unit just to drown out his TV. But even the sound of the fan blowing on the A/C was painful.

    I don’t have a headache, but I still feel like I’m on the verge of tears. (It’s not helped by the fact that somewhere nearby someone is playing what sounds like “oompah” music very loud and the bass is reverberating inside my house).

    Anyway, just wondering if anyone has experienced something similar.

    1. Noah*

      I don’t know if it is a thing or not but I get that way 4-5 times a year. I generally stick in earplugs, grab a pillow and blanket, and curl up with my Kindle inside my walk-in closet. It is the quietest room in my place and when I get that way even the refrigerator cycling starts to set me on edge.

      I dated someone for awhile who could not handle quiet and it drove me nuts. He had to be talking or have the TV on or have music playing. Great guy in lots of ways but he did not understand when my need for silence occasionally.

      1. Pennalynn Lott*

        Noah – The guy you dated sounds exactly like my boyfriend. He has to have noise constantly. Pandora on the computer, while the TV is blaring, while he is talking LOUDLY. It doesn’t help that he’s slightly hard of hearing, so his version of an “inside voice” is my version of yelling.

        Normally I can tune him and his attendant noises out, but today I would have loved to have had access to your walk-in closet. My closet is too small to lay down in, and Boyfriend’s closet [yes, we have separate bedrooms] has a hardwood floor and no door. :-(

        Thank you, though, for helping me to feel less like a freak. :-) Knowing that there’s at least one other person out there who experiences this is comforting. (So is knowing that — if mine is similar to your experience — it will pass).

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        My husband is like this. I want to have some periods of quiet in the house, but he has to have the tv going all the time for background noise. I told him that I wanted complete quiet, and was like, oh, okay, I’ll switch to radio, then. His need for background noise is so strong that he considers switching from tv to music some sort of grand compromise. So basically, I go around the house turning all the noise off, and he goes around behind me turning it back on. I retreat to our bedroom and watch the door with my eyes narrowed, as in a Hollywood gunslinger movie, lest he come in and make a peep, and I feel so irritable I could jump out of my skin.

    2. Chaordic One*

      There’s a condition called “Hyperacusis” which is an extreme sensitivity to noise. It can be associated with migraines, but often is not. I suggest you google it and read more about it.

      1. Pennalynn Lott*

        Thanks, Chaordic One. I googled it, but it sounds like a chronic condition, not a “today, suddenly, I’m sensitive to noise” type thing. I’ll keep it in mind, though, if I’m still like this tomorrow.

    3. Sami*

      Noise can really be bothersome to me as well. Is it possible you were gritting and/or grinding your teeth and that’s what caused headache? Or the noise activated some anxiety and that caused it?

      1. Pennalynn Lott*

        I grind my teeth in my sleep, but I have a mouth guard that I wear to bed to prevent the grinding. Nonetheless, I didn’t (don’t) have a headache, just a sudden hyper-sensitivity to noise (and general malaise).

        1. LCL*

          If this is a new thing for you it is worth a trip to the doctor. I get the aversion to noise thing if I am having allergy and sinus issues.

    4. Nicole*

      I can’t stand a lot of noise for long periods in general, but I’ve also noticed if I’m already feeling tense/anxious then it really gets to me. The other day I came home from work to my husband streaming some music at a normal volume but it was seriously getting under my skin so I hid out in the bathroom for about 45 minutes until I felt calmer. He had also turned it off by then. I think for me I just needed some quiet after being in an office all day.

    5. Lynnsey*

      This could be the same thing that affects me, my husband and our kids – sensory integration disorder.

      People are affected differently by the same sensory stimulus. Some people crave certain stimuli (e.g. constant sound or movement) while others become overwhelmed or distressed by much less of the stimulus than most people and try to avoid these stimuli (children who cry when their feet touch grass or beach sand).

      It doesn’t always cause functional impairment and adults have usually developed coping mechanisms.

    6. Soupspoon McGee*

      Yes, migraine sufferers can have phonophobia–noise makes it worse. Photophobia (aversion to light) is more common. Unfortunately, it’s easier to block light than sound. :-(

    7. nonegiven*

      I had a friend that was having trouble with normal noises making her anxious and irritable. She started drinking bottled water exclusively and it went away. I could be something in your diet or environment that is affecting you

    8. Lily Evans*

      When this happens to me, it’s usually a sign that something else is “off” with my body. It tends to happen when I haven’t gotten enough sleep, during pms, when I’m coming down with something, or if I’m having a particularly bad anxiety day. It starts feeling like sensory overload, my body can’t handle whatever’s going wrong and too much noise on top of that. A lot of the time being alone for a while, drinking some water, having a snack, and napping will help it go away.

    9. Belle diVedremo*

      I couldn’t live with someone who can’t be quiet. And I’d hate having someone else’s music reverberate in my place more than occasionally.

      Are you by chance an empath? My experience is that sound is a lot harder for me to tolerate if I’m full up and not sufficiently managing the empath side. One thing I try to do is go to a park/woods/etc and walk by myself or with a silent partner. Feet on the ground, nature sounds predominate, and I can feel better grounded and centered.

      For white noise can you use “nature sounds” like running water and birds and bugs, or peep frogs, or rain or… Sounds that are low key and not demanding, don’t have a pattern, don’t seek engagement, and aren’t mechanical?

      Ambient sounds that clash make me crazy. At one point at work they got me a new cpu. It was a big improvement – except that the fan hummed in a different key than did the lights above my desk. I lasted a whole day before telling the tech and facilities team that they had to fix it. Didn’t care which one they “tuned” but they needed to get to a sound that I could tolerate. First, they told me they couldn’t/had no idea how they’d tell. Then they tried and were astonished that they could tell, and at how much better it was when they got it right.

      Hope you’re feeling better.

  26. Sorgatani*

    Wrist update:
    I am now confident that I can dress myself to a socially-acceptable level (including undergarments) one-handed, although shoes with laces are still beyond me.

    I asked my sister to turn my cast into an Iron Man gauntlet, and you can see the result if you click my name.

    Unfortunately for that artwork, my cast was getting loose (felt like it was moving whenever I lowered my arm) so now I have a new cast for her to decorate.

    I did a load of dishes last night because they were bugging me and the fella wasn’t going to get to them for another day. It took ages, and my thoughts tell me I might not have done them right, but the bench and sink space is worth it.

  27. Woman of a Certain Age*

    Being “of a certain age,” and a bit frustrated in my job search, I’m becoming a bit concerned about my appearance and considering coloring my hair for the first time.

    As a child I had blonde hair, but as I grew older it darkened to a medium brown. In the summer it had reddish highlights. Over the years it has turned into a sort of a darker mousy gray, with a lot of silvery white strands mixed in, although the silvery white really isn’t noticeable from a distance.

    Does anyone have any experience with coloring their hair? Any recommendations about different brands of hair coloring or how to to about doing it? Should I bleach my hair before I color it? I don’t want it to look unnatural or brassy. Should I just go to a colorist in a salon? I might not even go through with it.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I absolutely recommend going to a salon if you’re going blonde. You might make an appointment with your stylist to talk about color, what shade or technique would be good, how much maintenance it will need, etc. before you commit.

      I had sort of chestnut hair growing up but as an adult I colored it auburn for years. In February, I got really super tired of touching up the grey every two weeks, so I went to my salon and we tried a light strawberry blonde. It came out lighter than that but I liked it so much, I went slightly lighter and kept it. Now I only have to touch up every four or five weeks, but I let my stylist do it. It does cost more to maintain and it WILL make your hair very fragile (yes, they do have to bleach or “lift” your old color up before they tint it).

      You’ll have to change your makeup too if you change your hair color. I don’t wear very dark eye colors anymore. But I absolutely love being blonde and I don’t regret it ONE BIT.

      If you just want to do it at home with a dark color or one closest to your old color, Nice and Easy is very good. I had quite long hair, so it took two instead of one to color all of it. Then I just did root maintenance. I still recommend a chat with your stylist. They can help you decide on something that will flatter you. :)

    2. pony tailed wonder*

      If finances are tight, you can go to a beauty school to get it done. When I was about twenty percent gray, I used Clairol’s Natural Instincts in a lighter color in my brown hair. It darkened my brown hair a bit and made my grays look like highlights. Box colors have hotlines to call in to for advice so google the brand you want to try beforehand and talk to them about color choices and upkeep. I will say that you will have to condition your hair every time you shampoo and you will have better hair the longer you can stretch out between washes.

    3. periwinkle*

      A semi-permanent hair color is a good way to get started. I used Clairol Natural Instinct for years and really liked it. I’d switch up occasionally with colors and between permanent & semi-permanent but always within the Clairol line… until I tried a different brand and a really dark color, which looked horrible and resulted in my first salon visit to fix the mess I’d made. Oops.

      My hair is naturally a very dark brown but has now hit the 50% gray mark. if I colored it brown, it looked weird because of the grays. I switched to black but it looked too harsh. Now… I go to a salon. The colorist knows her stuff. My hair is now a wine-y medium brown and looks fabulous.

    4. Woman of a Certain Age*

      Thank you very much for your comments.

      I’ve been thinking that I’d like to try to go back to my original natural medium brown color, or perhaps a shade or two lighter. (I’ve always heard that as you get older you shouldn’t try to keep it as dark as it was originally.) The Clairol Natural Instinct semi-permanent color sounds like something that would be very doable and worth a try. Have you any problems with the dye coloring your scalp or skin and not washing off?

      1. pony tailed wonder*

        Definitely use old towels. And grab some chapstick to run a line under your hairline so the dye does not get on your face. The dye dyes your scalp skin but by the next shampoo, it will be gone. I use the lip balm for my face because I don’t want to be too harsh while washing my face. The dye will wash off somewhat easily but Bonne Bell lip balm washes off easier. I also run a line of it on top of my eyebrows to avoid having dye run into my eyes.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I used Vaseline around the hairline. And I found by accident that Rimmel’s eye makeup remover will take the dye I got on my hands and arms right off. It’s cheap.

        Natural Instinct is great if you just want to jazz up your natural color a bit. Clairol products in general are pretty good (Nice and Easy is one but it’s permanent color).

    5. Library Director*

      I also had blonde hair as a child. It darkened over the years to mouse brown. It’s now about 25% gray. I’m happy for it to be all gray, but til then I color it myself.
      1. I have very short hair, fine hair, so it doesn’t take much and any error won’t last long.
      2. I’ve only stripped the color from my hair once decades ago. Never again, it was too harsh.
      3. The gray colors differently and adds nice shades and depth.
      4. I go to Sally’s beauty supply and buy Wella Color Charm and Mix with 20 Volume developer. I used to just use 8NG, but now mix a couple of blondes and a reddish blonde. A total of 1 oz color and 1 oz developer covers my hair.

      If you’re nervous go to a school or professional. Our local tech school has an amazing cosmetology department. It was intimidating for me listening to the high school students discussing how unhappy they were with their 32 and 33 ACT scores. The formulation of their business plans for their dual enrollment college courses. I was never that together at 17-18.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I had some highlights done and use L’Oreal Casting Creme Gloss (semi-permanent) which is not too expensive and balances out the root regrowth until I can fund a trip to the hairdresser!

    6. Temperance*

      I would recommend going to a salon. My hair is naturally that ugly color called “dishwater brown” and I lighten it. I think coloring over gray is pretty difficult.

    7. Lady Bug*

      I’ve been dying my own hair for 25 years, I’ve only gone to the salon for highlights. Here are some newbie tips:

      Don’t go more than 2 shades lighter or darker on your own when starting out. Anything more drastic use a professional.

      Brown dyes can go reddish/orange-y. If you are looking to avoid that choose an “ash” shade.

      I’ve used every brand. They are all about the same in terms of coverage and how long they last.

      Do not bleach before you dye. You will damage your hair, and its not necessary unless you are going super blonde or bright colors.

      Use a colored hair friendly shampoo and wash your hair as infrequently as possible.

      Be prepared for the color to be different than the box. I’ve had results ranging from dead on with the box to a dark red turning out blackish-purple (which was gorgeous). If you aren’t prepared for that uncertainty, get it professionally done.

    8. Office Plant*

      I’ve had mixed results with salons. Sometimes they do a better job and use better products than what you can find in the store. Other times, they do the same thing you could do at home, or they do something extra that you don’t want, like trimming your hair or using products or treatments that you don’t want. And it’s ten to twenty times more expensive. If you go that route, choose a stylist carefully.

      If you’re using drug store products, avoid anything that says, “warm” or has reddish tones. Those are the ones that can fade to that yucky metallic reddish color that screams, “I dye my own hair.”

      Pro tip: You can start with a permanent darker dye, then a week or two later, use bleach to give yourself some highlights and then dye over those with a semi-permanent dye one or two shades lighter than the original one. Then use that dye for touch ups. That will make it look more natural.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Oh, they’re both so cute! The black looks like he’s an American Bombay.

      Good luck!

      1. Troutwaxer*

        The black kitten already loves to “help.” Fortunately, we found homes for all the kittens and their mother (who has terrible socialization difficulties) on Saturday.

        Unfortunately, we’ll have more kittens that need homes in November or so.

  28. Trixie*

    Eating a little better this week, and feeling better as a result. Overnight oats as an experiment was a nice change. Salads at lunch, and today splurged on a smoothie at Whole Foods. Had no idea dates added such a nice mellow flavor. Tempted to try adding to my own smoothies at home.

    Need more walking during the day because of all the sitting for work. I try to take regular breaks (water, restroom, copier) but not enough. Today I tried alternate walk/job on treadmill. Still hoping to try a new Zumba Strong class. Has anyone actually completed the training? Trying to determine how much it costs in addition to basic training. Thinking 2017!

    1. Thyme Lady*

      Good for you! I love going on walks but have had to cut back because of the heat. Ready for some cooler weather!

  29. Lady Blerd*

    I’ve fallen into the table top gaming rabbit hole. I’ve been watching and rewatching Wil Wheaton’s show on YT and a few of my colleagues have hosted lunch breaks games at the office. I picked a few games for a family game night, Zombie Dice, Coup and the Archer edition of Love Letters, any recommendations for games that can be played with kids? My 8 year old niece should be able to play Zombie Dice with some help but the other games will likely be above her head because of all the strategy and deceit. Any suggestions for board games or otherwise?

    1. Sorgatani*

      Boardgamegeek might have a few suggestions, but if she likes puzzles, maybe Carcassonne, if she likes wordplay, perhaps Dixxit or Apples to Apples.
      I have read good things about Ticket to Ride, but not played it.
      I remember we had monopoly (who doesn’t -haha-) but I’d stopped enjoying it by then.
      When I was that age, my family was mostly playing card games such as Rummy, Canasta and easier ones like Cheat, Snap and Spoons.

    2. pony tailed wonder*

      My niece picked up Uno pretty well as a toddler and it was her favorite game until she was about eleven.

    3. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      My parents were card players with their friends (many a night I was banished upstairs while they played euchre and the house filled with cigarette smoke!), but at 8-9 we played a ton of Yahtzee as a family, which was easy enough for me to pick up but interesting for them, too. (And my parents made me keep score, which was a sneaky way for them to get me to practice quick arithmetic.) I can’t recall when my dad started to teach me Stratego, but probably was about ten? Lots of Uno as well, Old Maid, Crazy Eights, Go Fish when I was a little younger as well.

      1. nonegiven*

        We always played Pitch. When I was young, the adults played Widow Pitch, but by the time the kids got old enough to play it was all 10-point Pitch.

    4. Jillociraptor*

      Games are so fun! Settlers of Catan, Carcasonne, and Smallworld would all be awesome for her. Pandemic might also be fun — there is a fair amount of strategy, but there are also multiple difficulty levels, and the game is cooperative rather than competitive.

    5. Elkay*

      I’m very excited at the prospect of an Archer game, hoping I can get it in the UK.

      For Ticket to Ride look at the smaller boards if you want to play with your niece, because the Europe (and I think US) one is big and can take a while to play. I think the Scandinavian one is one of the smaller ones.

      Carcassonne is good fun and easy to pick up. Hive is suitable for kids too.

    6. Colette*

      My niece was around that age when she started playing Kittens in a Blender. It’s a card game – you gave to save your cute kittens while blending your opponents. (She’s very into animals, so I didn’t think she would like it, but she did.)

    7. Lady Blerd*

      Thanks for all your suggestions. I think Ticket to Ride may be the best option because the basic premise is simple. A local game store seems to have all the variants. I also thought of getting Tsuro and maybe Get Bit. Uno is a classic, I had a lot of fun as well playing it as when I was younger. Still I will keep all the ideas in mind to add to my collection of board games for future games nights.

    8. Margali*

      Exploding Kittens is a lot of fun — some strategy, but easy enough to master. We also all like Forbidden Island, which I believe was created by the same guy who made Pandemic. It’s cooperative, so you all win or lose together. (We discovered that one through Tabletop!)

      1. Lady Blerd*

        I played EK this week and it really is fun. One thing I didn’t like was that I exploded on the second round so I spent the rest of the game looking at my phone. When we played a second game, I made it to the last one but lost. Worst, I knew I would because I saw the card but couldn’t do anything about it.

    9. SoCalKate*

      You might look into Catan: Junior which is a simplified version of Settlers of Catan (with pirates! and parrots!). I haven’t played it, but it’s supposed to be fun for adults as well as kids.

      I would also recommend Forbidden Desert. A fun, short, collaborative game in which everyone plays against the game. You’re all stranded in the desert when your plane crashes, and you have to find and assemble an ancient airship before running out of water . . .

      I’m also a fan of Mice and Mystics, in which you play adorable mice that have to battle evil roaches and rats and whatnot (it reminds me a bit of Redwall).

      Oh, and it’s definitely worth checking out the website BoardGameGeek.com . You can search for a game and then read reviews. I find it very helpful to get a general sense of what a game is like to play.

  30. Cherry Tree Lane*

    This is sort of like an anti-rant rant.
    Basically, I’m getting tired of all the moaning people do (usually via social media) about baristas who write their name wrong on their cup.

    Those coffeehouses (most of the time it’s Starbucks) are pretty noisy places, and even if you have a super-easy name they may still mishear it. Also, even common names can have multiple spellings (Katie vs Katy?) and is it /really/ such a big deal? So you’ve had to constantly correct people spelling your name for name tags or whatever, but the name on your (disposable) cup of coffee isn’t exactly serious business.

    I have a pretty difficult to pronounce/spell name, and most of the time I just use a different name to save time. It’s bemusing that people get so hung up about what’s written on their cup.

    (Note: I don’t mind at all when its posted as a laugh. It’s when people are all “how hard is it to spell Marie right?!” who are staring to grate.)

    1. LCL*

      I always use my middle name in situations like that. I love my first name, but it is easily mispronounced, sometimes so badly it is misgendered. I don’t get offended if people misgender me in person because of my dress and presentation, but I want them to get my feminine first name right, darn it. So the middle name is easy and phonetic and people who speak English as a second language can manage it better. I have never posted on social media complaining about it, though.

    2. Stellaaaaa*

      I have a common name with a less-common spelling (think Ashleigh vs Ashley). I got over misspellings a long time ago. I’ve read that the Starbucks misspellings are actually part of their marketing because then people post their cups on social media. I had a friend named Honor get a cup with Otter written on it. If you don’t have a sense of humor about that, whatever to you, humorless human.

      1. Margo*

        I normally post here with a different name, but I had to come here and say that my name is Margo, and a barista once heard my name as Embargo, which is still pretty funny to me.

    3. pony tailed wonder*

      I usually go with a fictional character’s name. Then it’s no skin off of my nose if they get it wrong.

    4. periwinkle*

      I use my last name which I share with a former U.S. president (no relation as far as we know). “Lannister, like the president.” (disclaimer: not the actual name) They get it wrong much of the time but no big deal, give me a decent latte and we’re good.

      Now, spelling my name wrong in emails when it’s right there in my email address and contact info and .sig and badge and we’ve been working together for two years fer cryin’ out loud…

    5. fposte*

      Oooooooh. This is a big eyeroll for me, so I’m glad to hear I’m not alone. It’s just a way to avoid making you take numbers like you’re at the meat counter, people; it’s no more a summation of you than being number 17 would be.

      Though some enterprising coffeehouse should start offering a Correct Name Surcharge. For another three bucks, we will write your name exactly as it appears on a legal ID you produce when ordering.

    6. Al Lo*

      I have an unusual name, which is pretty phonetic, but can also be spelled in a myriad of other ways that make sense (and a few that don’t). I love seeing what baristas put on my cup, and actually have an Insta hashtag that I post them all under.

      (Far fewer now that I mobile order most often, so the label has my name printed on it properly, since it’s linked from my account.)

    7. Anonsie*

      As a former Starbucks barista, I appreciate this.

      Baristas are paid minimum wage, it’s noisy and busy and we’ve been dealing with entitled, snotty customers all day, and we’re just focused on getting your drink order right and getting it to you quickly while keeping a big cheery smile plastered on our faces.

      I tried, and was generally pretty good at getting names right, but when you’re the twentieth variation on Catelyn to walk in the door today, I might accidentally slip up and spell it Kaitelyn instead of Kaitelynn. And I’m someone who’s pretty well-attuned to spelling. Plenty of good baristas aren’t, because they’re more closely attuned to the dozens of other things that are going into making your drink and visit a success. Truth be told, I was a pretty lousy barista, because I wasn’t as attuned to those things.

      Given the choice, which would you rather have? The attentive speller, or the good barista?

      1. Mela*

        It sounds like you didn’t, but it’s definitely a *thing* that some baristas do on purpose. Primarily to entertain themselves (apparently the customer’s face is funny–I believe it), but I thought Starbucks was actually, maybe unofficially, okay with it because when people complain, it’s on social media and they actual prefer the “negative” exposure because they know most people will just find it funny.

        1. Anonsie*

          I can only speak definitively for my old store, but I have never heard of this being actual accepted practice, and I’m friends with a fair number of current Starbucks supervisors who I feel like would have mentioned it if it were part of a semi-officially sanctioned policy.

          I can easily believe that some baristas screw names up for the lulz. It’s a repetitive, degrading job. But really, I think most of us are just trying to get through the day smoothly, and our brains go on autopilot, to the extent that sometimes it won’t immediately register that “Otter” isn’t a real name (and anyway, people give us joke non-names all the time, so maybe she really did say Otter? Who knows! No time to stop and wonder, the next person in line already looks pissed off at me!)

    8. Karen*

      My name is Karen, but when I go to Starbucks and other places that ask for my name, they frequently hear Carrie. Even if I stress the N, they still hear it wrong. Whatever they repeat back to me, I always say, “Yes, that’s right.” What I really care about is if they get my order correct. They can shout out whatever name they want.
      I think the people who get their panties in a wad about this are the same ones who are angry about Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas.
      I wish my biggest problem in life was that the barista wrote the wrong name on my latte cup.

    9. Lady Bug*

      I always crack up when barsistas ask how to spell my name, which is one if those could be y, ey, ie or i names. I’m like, you can write whatever you want on the cup, as long as you get my order right. But its nice that they care.

    10. HannahS*

      Yeah. I don’t get it. My real name is one of those “….sorry, what?” names and I just use Hannah now because why do I want to slow down the line just for the barista to spell my name? Does my drink need some relationship with my identity? Also, making fun of low-wage workers serving fancy drinks really rubs me the wrong way.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Amen. All the server did was misspell a name. Not a quality of life issue. However the FB user scorned/ridiculed a low wage worker who is just trying to do a job and make ends meet. The FB user fails to grasp the situation and that IS a quality of life issue for the FB writer. Sometimes those who privately feel they have NO power use what little power they do find in the wrong ways.

    11. Office Plant*

      People are complaining about this? Of all the “problems” to have. They should be glad they don’t work in a coffee shop, making minimum wage with few to no benefits, getting insulted and condescended to by grouchy customers all day, doing eight hours of physical labor next to machines that give off a lot of heat, risking getting cut or burned all the time.

      I loved being a barista, don’t get me wrong. But those people sound bizarrely sheltered.

  31. Tara R.*

    I am moving on Thursday and I am SO STRESSED.

    My dad is supposedly going to load all my stuff into his truck & trailer, but I saw him today and he was a complete mess & I’m like 70% sure he’s using again. His trailer will cost me extra $$$ on the ferry, so he was like “Maybe you should rent a uHaul, it might be cheaper!” Now I’m trying to figure out a) if it’s better to take the truck or the uHaul and b) what the f I’m going to do if he bails on me at the last minute.

    Truck pros:
    –overall a little bit cheaper
    –no rental fee
    –don’t have to figure out how to get Dad to the ferry from the uHaul drop-off

    uHaul pros:
    –only have to ferry one way
    –don’t have to worry about my stuff getting rained on in Rainy City I’m moving to
    –not as much work making sure everything’s secure
    –no fee for extra length on the ferry (I don’t think)
    –someone else can drive it if he bails on me (probably my mom but she decidedly doesn’t want to drive a uHaul in Rainy City)

    I don’t know what to do. :(
    P.S. That is the correct way to punctuate emoticons. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Also I need to sell my car before I go & I’ve had a bit of interest but no one willing to commit yet. Plus Dad dragged me to the movies today to see a film I didn’t really want to see and I ended up having to pay for myself because he didn’t have enough money for all of us, and then I had to loan him gas money so we could get home. He just sold his motorcycle!! Where did the money go??? I am so excited to be 5+ hours away from all of this again.


    1. Stellaaaaa*

      My stance on moving is that it’s better to get things done right than to worry about saving money when the difference isn’t huge.

    2. Awkward Interviewee*

      Moving is so stressful! It sounds like (unless money is super tight and you truly can’t afford it) the uhaul is the better option. Since you’re worried about your dad’s reliability, renting a uhaul sounds like it would cut down on the stress/worry.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Yeah, worry about whether your dad is going to let you down is just another layer of stress to an already stressful situation. If you can afford the Uhaul, that option is kinder to yourself.

    3. fposte*

      I would vote for the U-Haul. If your dad is doing okay he can drive that for you or at least do some loading; if not, you haven’t lost your wheels.

      Tangentially–you sound really grounded about your father’s possible relapse here. I know that’s been hard for you, and I’m sure it still isn’t fun, but I think it’s great that you’re reasonably focused here on *your* problem–getting into the new place.

      1. Tara R.*

        Thank you fposte. :-) I went with the U-Haul, for pretty much the reasons everyone identified; I also managed to sell my car today, so the cost of moving will be covered, plus some leftover for groceries and whatnot. Fingers crossed all goes well!

        1. Tara R.*

          Oh, other update, after talking to him a bit more I don’t actually think he’s relapsed– he used the money to catch up on his insurance & phone & storage bills (easily verified since he now, y’know, has insurance & phone minutes again). He was off his meds for a bit so I think I just confused his garden variety mental illness issues with drug use. I’m trying to convince myself that it doesn’t really matter and I shouldn’t spend my time trying to figure out whether he’s using or not, but I can’t seem to help it… (He’s also probably getting kicked out of his current living situation & is talking about living in his truck again. Not my problem, not my problem, not my problem, but I’m still not very happy about it.)

          I’m just so sick of being lied to & deceived. I kind of miss when he was just rude and angry and prone to explosive bursts of rage– at least there wasn’t this big guessing game all the time. Everything I’ve done in my life has been in spite of him, and I get really frustrated sometimes because it feels like it’s not fair. I don’t even resent him, really– he does the best he can. He’s an addict, an abuse victim, he’s mentally ill, he’s essentially destitute, has crippling PTSD; he’s done his best to be a good father but he just can’t be & no amount of me being angry will change that. Sometimes I’m just sad. He’s 50, he has no friends, he has bouts of suicidal ideation & has told me repeatedly that we (my brother & I) are the only reason he has to live, he has no job & no steady income, and it’s just… it’s really sad. But he also emotionally abused me, physically & emotionally abused my mother, and did a lot of things that I have a hard time forgiving him for.

          I should probably go back to therapy next year. :P Thanks for always being so supportive, AAM folks.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            You will manage in spite of him, just as you say here. You have got the resourcefulness, the brain power and the energy to succeed, and you will. I have kind of been following your posts and I think you are an admirable person. Time will be kind to you. When the going gets tough in my life I remind myself to leave no stone unturned, assume there is an opportunity in everything and double check everything to see what you find. I have to chuckle, there are times where I’ve caught myself almost skating right by an opportunity. It’s easy to do. Eyes wide open, it WILL get better.

    4. Observer*

      Do the U-haul. It’s not even the money – although given what you’ve described, don’t assume that you really would save anything the other way. But, your father is utterly unreliable, and the stress of depending on him is something you don’t need.

    5. Iain C*

      Also on team Tara R.

      Given how matter of fact you are about your Dad, I’d lower your dependency in that direction if you can, which means U Haul.

      This might be something you’ve already thought of, but don’t just take what you need, but take what you can, especially valuables. If motorbike money can evaporate, so can the necklace your late Grandma left you…

      Hope it all ends well.

  32. Jose*

    A question that comes up every now and again and tends to be rather controversial: should fat people be made to pay for two seats on long-distance travel?

    On the one hand, it may be taken as discrimination, but it doesn’t seem fair for people who’ve paid for the adjacent seat on a long train or plane ride to have their space encroached on. Should they receive a discount for the inconvenience?

    It’s not a fair argument to say that the fat person in question would already be uncomfortable or embarrassed by their situation (assuming they refuse to pay for an extra seat or can’t afford to), since that doesn’t change the fact the person next to them has less space, and it’s not the responsibility of thr other paying passengers to accommodate their situation. And to demand wider seating on all transport would push up prices in general and force everyone else to share part of that burden.

    Of course since there’s no practical way to monitor this (short of demanding a person’s measurements whenever they buy a ticket, which would be all sort of wrong), it’s probably all moot and people will just deal with each situation as it comes up.

    1. LCL*

      They can pay for two seats, and get to use the second seat. Paying extra just cause they are big, no.
      Airline seat space keeps shrinking. Most people who are 5′ 10″ or taller can barely fit in the seat.
      The sharing all of the burden part of your argument is the inflammatory part, I am sure you know. That’s how a society works, we all share the burden. To give only 1 example, my taxes help support our public schools. I don’t have and will never have kids, should I be exempt from school taxes?

    2. Stellaaaaa*

      On a basic economical level, I don’t think it’s wrong or offensive for people to pay more for a product or “resource” if they need to use more of it than the average person.

      The real issue with this debate is that it’s a smoke screen for people who just want to lash out at bigger people. Most of the people sounding off on this issue on the internet haven’t been on a plane since Spring Break ’09. They have no vested interest in the affordability of a plane ticket. They do have a vested interest in making heavy people feel bad.

      1. Florida*

        I agree that it is lashing out at bigger people. I think some people think of obesity like you would think of a person traveling with a cello. They have to buy an extra seat for the cello. I tend to think of it like person travelling with a wheelchair. The wheelchair takes up space on the plane, but the airline does not charge extra for that space. They just find someplace to put it, and it’s free.

        The argument about a person “choosing” to be obese holds no water for me. Many (but not all) spinal cord injuries are caused by people’s choices. People choose to not wear seat belts. They choose to dive head-first into murky water. But they are still given a place to store their wheelchair (as they should be).

        Obesity should be treated as a disability. It fits the ADA definition of a disability (depending on the severity of the obesity) as far as limiting one or more major life functions. Is it fair that the airline would provide two seats to the obese person and lose that income? No. But it’s also not fair (to the airline) that they have to provide a place for a service dog without getting paid. Sometimes it’s not about what is exactly equitable.

    3. fposte*

      I think the rule many airlines have–that if you can’t fit into a seat/seatbelt, you will need to purchase a second seat–is a reasonable way to approach it. It’s not the end of the world for people’s flesh to touch. Sometimes I think people on airplanes have never ridden a subway train :-).

    4. Dan*

      Southwest already makes you do it. But what I don’t know is what the actual threshold is — I’m on the larger side, and can fit comfortably (enough) width wise into a normal seat with arm rests down. In an exit row, where the trays are in the arm rests, the armrests are actually a big block of metal that doesn’t move.

      If I’m sitting next to another large person, it’s going to be tight. But I don’t know who should have the responsibility of buying the extra seat. Once, a guy sits down in the seat next to me, and the first thing he does is raise the armrest. I’m like “oh hell no”. So maybe that’s the threshold? On a full flight, I actually do prefer the exit rows for that reason — the built in arm rests make it easier for everybody to be contained in “their” space. Then we just get to fight over elbow space.

      I’ve had normal size people in the middle seat think that their elbows are allowed to go past the edge of the armrests and poke me in the ribs. Really? Who taught you that? If you want more elbow room, shouldn’t *you* have to pay for an extra seat too?

      1. Red*

        If you book and pay for the second seat in advance, Southwest will reimburse you for it after the flight. At least, that’s what the policy on their website says, and I believe my mother has used that policy successfully.

      2. blackcat*

        I hate elbow room thieves, and I’m tiny. I think I’m subjected to more of their behavior because they look at me and decide I don’t need all that space. But if I’m typing on a computer, I need my arm space.

        FWIW, the elbow-ers are basically always average to small sized people, in my experience. Larger folks tend to be conscious of their size and try to minimize their impact on their neighbors. I’ve traveled a lot, and only encountered 1 or 2 large & inconsiderate people. And I’ve sat next to dozens of inconsiderate average sized people. My last red eye flight, the woman next to me couldn’t understand why I wasn’t cool with her SLEEPING ON MY SHOULDER. F— no lady. I do not snuggle with strangers.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          This happened to someone I know, except the tiny Indian woman laid down and put her bare feet in my friend’s lap. Friend woke up, removed the feet, went back to sleep. Woke up, found the feet in her lap again, removed them, went back to sleep. Woke up, the feet were back so she left them and went back to sleep.

    5. flying*

      I have friends who have to do that and what they complain mostly about is: 1. even within the same airline, sometimes they are fine and sometimes they are made to purchase the second seat (even controlling for how full the flight is); so there are no guidelines and sometimes there is a surprise at the counter; it seems to be at the discretion of the crew and perhaps their feelings about larger people. And 2. the way they are asked to buy that second ticket is often worded/presented in humiliating and offensive ways, with looks of disgust etc., when again, there doesn’t seem to be any guidelines so it’s not really their fault as customers. I have some friends in fact who won’t fly certain airlines because of the repeated offensiveness. So I don’t think it’s so much about having to buy another seat (I mean they know they are large) but it’s the whole “you’re so disgustingly fat” attitude that accompanies it.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      The seats used to be wider, and airlines had no trouble filling them up. It’s stupid and just greed that they shrunk them. They’ve gotten so tiny now and have so little pitch (the space between seats where your knees go) that even regular-sized people can barely fit. And don’t even get me started about being tall. >:( If it gets any worse, it will start to be a safety issue. Personally, I think they do need to widen them a bit.

      If you can fit in the seat, buy one. If you can’t, and you know it, buy two. There is so much documentation about seat sizes online these days that I think someone who can’t fit would be able to deduce that they might need two seats well before they book their ticket(s). I realize that might not always be the case, and if someone is forced to pony up for an extra seat in the moment, a small discount would be nice. I’d like to see a second-seat discount for a cello or your ass cheek or a tiny child. The airline doing that would clean up.

      I don’t mind someone large encroaching a bit unless they stink or something. If they don’t care that our legs are touching, I don’t either. (My bubble shrank quite a bit after riding the tube so much at peak time.) However, they do need to be aware that if I’m in the window seat, they might have to move to let me up if I have to pee!

    7. nonegiven*

      I think the ticket ought to pay for one person taking the ride, you can tell them you need 2 seats, in case they sell too many but one person one ticket should be the way it is.

    8. Noah*

      I work for an airline. We even have a special term for this, customer of size. Our rule is simple, you have to fit in the seat and be able to have the armrest down. If that can’t happen, you have to pay for a second seat. It is left up to the discretion of airport agents because there is not real way to determine it until you are on board. If the agents got it wrong they will refund the second seat.

      Also, airplane seats have not really shrunk in width recently. They’ve been the same since the 1980s. The only change has been in legroom, they have been pushed closer together in pitch.

  33. Tamara*

    I feel rather silly for asking this, but somehow I’ve managed to survive to the ripe old age of 28 without learning how to properly cook. I guess I can cook basic things, but… not much more than that. I want to learn how to cook and eat better quality food, but kitchens just overwhelm me! I’ve signed up for a cooking class that starts at the end of September, but are there any good cookbooks for complete kitchen dummys like me?

    I got “How to Cook Everything The Basics” by Mark Bittman for Christmas, but I haven’t used it much. Are there any other cook books I should look at?

    I guess, I’ve always avoided cooking for two reasons a) misguided perfectionism (what if I make a mistake and it tastes horrible) and b) the prep/waiting that goes into cooking just BORES me.

    1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      My first cookbooks were the Betty Crocker Cookbook, which is a basic reference designed for the novice and includes tons of references on how to cut things, cooking techniques, you name it–and the Help My Apartment Has A Kitchen cookbook, which is targeted at college students but was super useful for me as a college student cooking for myself all the time. Lots of straightforward, basic stuff for just learning How To.

      Also, youtube! Kitchen Daily and Gordon Ramsay both have a zillion videos on how to start off with basic cooking skills, and if you’re like me and a bit of perfectionist, it can really help to see it in video so you know what it’s supposed to look like at each stage of the process. This is the kind of stuff that will really open you up–if you can chop and slice efficiently and quickly, if you know how to saute and steam properly, etc., you’ll be able to look through a recipe and go “Yeah, I can do that.”

      Good luck! You’ll be zoning out on auto-cook in no time!

      1. periwinkle*

        Videos can be really helpful for learning technique and getting the idea of how something should look, like what “golden brown” means. As a teen I watched a lot of cooking shows on PBS; my favorite was Martin Yan. “If Yan can cook, so can you!” He repeatedly demonstrated how to cut vegetables quickly and safely, and thanks to him I could joint a whole chicken in 40 seconds flat (still can).

        Although you have to translate from UK to US (or at least I do), Jamie Oliver is a fantastic resource for simple, healthy, and tasty recipes.

        Also, go read your Bittman book, it’s excellent!

    2. Emilia Bedelia*

      I really like Food Wishes on Youtube- Chef John is really funny and personable, and his recipes are interesting and a good mix of difficult and more easy things. I like that you can see how something is supposed to look while you’re cooking it (like, what is “golden brown” supposed to be?), and he also notes where you may want to change things as you’re cooking.

      1. Lady Kelvin*

        Funny story, my husband used to think browning chicken meant literally cooking it until it was brown. So he would cook that chicken forever until it turned a nice golden brown. He is still skeptical when I say the whiteish chicken is browned. But after 7 years of him helpinge in the kitchen he can hold his own for many things. I’d suggest following the recipe as closely as you can until you understand how the different ingredients work otogether, then start make substitutions. Don’t try to be creative until then. That’s when my husband gets into trouble. Also, taste everything as you are making it. Test the rub before you put it on the roast, taste the sauce as it cooks. Add salt as you cook and you shouldn’t need salt when you are done. Also taste your ingredients, you should know what soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, different vinegars, etc tastea like alone so you can understand how they will change the flavor of your food. Cooking is lots of trial and effort. I love to cook and have been cooking since I was little, and I still make things that are almost inedible, although my husband will eat just about everything i make. I’m just picky about eating stuff I don’t particularly like. Don’t be discouraged if and when you messup, you’ll learn from all your mistakes.

    3. fposte*

      I’m a big fan of America’s Test Kitchen, which is both a TV show and a publisher of cookbooks (and a magazine, Cooks Illustrated). They take kind of a Consumer Reports approach where they cook the recipe over and over again and figure out ways to avoid common pitfalls. I’m with you on a) and that’s why I really like ATK. I can’t solve b) completely, but they’ve been doing books focused on quicker prep and fewer ingredients in the last few years, so those might be good ones to look at first. Have a look at the cooksillustrated dot com and americastestkitchen dot com websites–they usually have current stuff free and you can figure out if you like their approach.

      1. Nina*

        Co-sign on America’s Test Kitchen. No matter what the chefs are preparing, they break the steps down very well. It’s one of the few cooking shows that doesn’t feel intimidating.

        1. Betty (the other Betty)*

          Another vote for America’s Test Kitchen. Solid recipes that are easy to follow.

          I just bought America’s Test Kitchen The Make Ahead Cook book. The recipes are straightforward and don’t use too many ingredients. Only $13 (less at Costco) in the magazine section.

    4. Stellaaaaa*

      The Rachael Ray style of cooking gets a lot of flack but it’s actually a really good starting point for newbies with limited time. I’m a fan of combining prepared components and adding other odds and ends.

      What about soups? With soups your finished product isn’t limited by any mistakes or miscalculations you made in the beginning. There’s no limit to when you can stop adding ingredients and seasonings.

    5. Cheryl blossom*

      This was totally me! I was particulalry overwhelmed by cooking meat (and bored by how long it takes).

      Enter crock pot.

      Omg, my crock pot changed my life. 2 years later I regularly cook roasted chicken, pulled pork and roast beef!

      I highly suggest getting a crock pot as you do maybe 10 min of prep and then leave it alone for the day to cook. This freed up my time and patience to begin learning how to make side dishes.

      Good luck! I now love cooking and hope you fall in love too :)

    6. Dan*

      One thing to know if you’re a complete noob, is that stocking a kitchen is expensive. But most things will last a long time. For instance, if you’re making a recipe that calls for four dried spices, you’ll spend $2-$5 per jar. So you could end up spending $20 on spices alone. BUT, those things will last forever (most dried spices will keep for over a year if you keep them out of sunlight.) What actually gets you cost wise is fresh herbs. Those will go bad after a week or so, and I always buy more than I need. (It’s really hard to buy the right sizes.)

      Anything sauce based or sauce like (say a dressing) is easy to rescue if you screw it up. These kinds of things you’re supposed to taste as you go, so if you don’t like the flavor, you can fix it. Avoid baking at first — that’s the kind of thing that if you’ve screwed up, you’ve screwed up and can’t do anything about.

      If the prep bores you, I hate to say it, but there’s no magic bullet. You can sometimes buy pre-chopped vegetables, so do that if you want. I don’t think there’s a flavor penalty for buying store-chopped veggies, but you will pay extra for the chopped/washed read to eat/use stuff.

      1. Troutwaxer*

        Never overlook the possibilities of a well-stocked thrift store when shopping for kitchen goods. Sometimes I’ve found very cheap cast-iron pans too, and most thrift stores will allow you to return electrical goods which don’t work.

        Once you have a jar labeled for a particular herb, you can buy bagged herbs at most markets much more cheaply. (Really, you’re paying for the jar.) Frequently you can buy spices in sets, which is also cheaper.

        Keep in mind that most cooking skills will transfer. Browning chicken will transfer to pork or beef. Making one kind of pasta is pretty much the same as making another kind of pasta. Frequently the easiest kind of dishes to make are rice dishes – curries, Chinese, etc. A rice cooker can really help with these. It’s also easy to buy pasta sauce and various Chinese sauces at most markets, and if you’ve got an Indian market near you good curry sauces are also available, so you don’t need to make your curry sauces from scratch – just look at the labels and make sure the sauce you’re buying is not too spicy.

        In making rice dishes, you’re essentially looking at a very easy model that goes something like this:

        1.) Make rice in the rice cooker. (This can last for a couple days.)
        2.) Brown onions and some kind of meat in a cooking pan, with olive oil. (Or another oil you like – Olive oil is pretty much universal.)
        3.) Add your curry sauce, milk or plain yoghurt, and possibly a little water. (Practice will be required to make the sauce the right consistency, but your errors will still be edible. Don’t add too much water at once.)
        4.) Add store-bought chopped vegetables (frozen can work if you don’t mind cooking for 5-10 minutes longer) and simmer until cooked.
        5.) Seafood and mushrooms go in last, not during step 2.

        Variations on this plan will give you 20-30 different dishes, and the recipes for pasta dishes are similar. If you’re feeding several people, make rice or pasta and multiple dishes to go with. Salads, of course, are easy.

    7. migrant worker*

      Gordon Ramsay’s Fast Food and Jamie Oliver’s 15 minute meals cookbooks are fantastic. I believe the latter is also an app.

    8. Irish Em*

      I made it to 32 without learning how to do more than microwave or oven bake pre-made meals (and boil an egg). When I realised that pasta is literally just boiled for 10mins with a sauce heated in another pot, it was like a lightbulb went on over my head. I mean the sauce is from a jar – I couldn’t make my own sauce if my life depended on it – but it made things much freer for me in terms of what I could reasonably eat and say “I made it myself” :)

    9. Shel*

      The very first Rachel Ray 30 minute meals cookbook is a great starter resource! No weird ingredients, precision is not necessary, and everything tastes good.

    10. nonegiven*

      There are videos. Get a timer, I zone out and forget to stir, so I set a timer unless the instruction is to stir constantly.

    11. Blue_eyes*

      Everyone has to start somewhere, good on you for working on this skill now! I don’t have any great recommendations for books or resources. For the boredom, I really like listening to podcasts while I cook. It gives my mind something to do while my hands are busy and makes the time go faster.

    12. Emily*

      One of my friends started cooking with Laura in the Kitchen, a show on YouTube. Laura Vitale is Italian, so it’s a particularly good resource for pasta dishes and other Italian foods, but she cooks things from other cuisines as well.

  34. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I can’t stop thinking about this article about sleep and recommend that everyone read it, especially if you have sleep issues:

    My favorite parts:

    “We are mired in a pre-Copernican-like, wake-centric era regarding consciousness. We presume waking to be the centre of the universe of consciousness, and we relegate sleeping and dreaming to secondary, subservient positions.
    Looking at sleep solely through waking-world eyes is like looking at a glorious night sky through dark sunglasses. We are caught in wakism, a subtle but pernicious addiction to ordinary waking consciousness that limits our understanding and experience of sleep.”

    “It’s about opening a respectful dialogue with sleep. Whether coming from another or oneself, that most common nightly dictate ‘Go to sleep’ is a demand. By contrast, invoking sleep is about a gentler, more compassionate conversation. It’s an invitation, as if from a lover or Hypnos himself, to ‘Come to sleep’.”

    1. Allison Mary*

      This is so cool! I’ve struggled with delayed sleep phase disorder ever since I was a kid, so this really hits home with me. Thanks for sharing!

      1. Lily in NYC*

        Such beautiful writing in that article. I love sleep but it doesn’t love me (I’ve been awake since 4am).

      2. nonegiven*

        Is there a treatment for that? I can go 3 weeks straight on 45 minutes sleep per night and I still become alert at 10 pm and can’t sleep before 2 or 3 am, even with drugs.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I internalized this article enough that last night I fell sleep hours earlier than usual and slept for 10 hours (versus the six hours I’ve been getting for weeks). I am thrilled.

      1. Jackie*

        I’ve always said, if there was a lottery for sleep everyone would play. Forget the Power Ball.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Nice. They gave me melatonin in the hospital — it did help, or maybe I was just tired from being mostly awake the night before in the ER. I might try it at home to see if it worked.

      I always liked going to sleep to see what I would dream. :)

      1. nonegiven*

        I think I’ve taken every dosage, brand and form of melatonin there is. Useless without an actual sleeping pill added to it.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Verry interesting. I enjoyed the part about love of sleep. I grew up being taught sleep is escapism. People sleep in order to shirk their responsibilities. We need to rethink that one.
      One thing that ticks me off is remarks about how much teens can sleep. I read some where that teens actually need about 10 hours of sleep a night. This makes sense to me, their bodies and brains are developing at a faster pace. That energy has to come from some where.

      I do agree that reading something spiritual or something about the greater scheme of life will help you to sleep better. It is as if we need to take time away from the day’s events to focus on the big picture, the overview of the world/life to get our brains to shift toward rest. My friend had opened a business. A year into it, she said “I cannot sleep at night. All I can do is make endless lists of what I have to do.” I recommended that she redirect her thoughts to a list of things she is grateful for. If she got off course, that can be expected and just go back to making a list of things that she is grateful for. She started talking about what she was grateful for, I kid you not, I could hear the sleepiness creep into her voice as she spoke with me on the phone. Fifteen minutes later we had to hang up because she was sleepy…..

    1. Eva*

      Best: Actually enjoyed doing stimulating work this week, despite putting in quite a few extra hours
      Worst: Missing someone like crazy. Breaking up while still in love is hard, even when it’s the right thing for both of you.

    2. Elkay*

      Best: I found clothes and shoes for my upcoming holiday, three shirts which were all discounted and a pair of approach shoes which I managed to get price matched so I didn’t have to give Sports Direct my money. This has been an additional challenge because outdoors shops seem to think that only men want quality kit.

      Also, I got a laugh last night out of hearing someone who lives in one of the downstairs flats say to a friend “That’s where the cat sits” referring to my cat who enjoys keeping an eye on things from our balcony wall.

      Worst: I realised I hadn’t been putting enough money into my pension and neither had my other half, we’re trying to fix it now but I’m still frustrated that I didn’t spot it before.

    3. Caledonia*

      BEST: My flat has officially been sold, contracts exchanged and it’s no longer my responsibility!
      Second best: Seeing my friend after she’s come back from 10 days away on holiday.
      Third best: Two interviews for next week.

      WORST: Last minute buyer being a total arse over communal roof repairs. I had to pay more than the likely quote to the buyer (after she wanted the most expensive quote paid to her, despite the advice of her solicitor) BUUUUUT it’s all her responsibility now!
      Second worst: I am totally flat broke until Friday when the sale money comes through.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Best: Glorious hot sunshine. I went shopping and just about had enough money to buy something, then at the till, it turned out it was 20% off!

        Worst: Antony Jay, the writer of Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister, a brilliant comedy programme (and probably my favourite of all), has died. In his honour I have been watching my Dvds and eating emulsified high fat offal tubes.


    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Best: A good friend of mine had a baby! Poor woman was miserable for the last 3 weeks, so I’m glad that’s done. We took her dog for the night and I got double the doggy snuggles. I also spent some time with people, got some great books out of the library, generally had a good week.

      Worst: I haaaaaate job-searching. I realize I am not alone. Most people are lovely and nice, even when they cancel and postpone phone calls, but all that postponing gets frustrating for me!

      Bonus: After gaining weight last week, I’m down again this week. I’ve lost almost 20 pounds since late June, even though the heat and humidity here meant I didn’t run at all for about 8 days. This is hopeful.

    5. TeaPotDesigner*

      Reversed to make me feel better LOL
      Worst: No replies on job applications yet. Woe.
      Best: I am making GREAT progress on my amateur digital illustration assignments. I am making great use of this time in between jobs and am actually quite proud of myself.

    6. danr*

      Best: It’s Hot and we can grill our suppers most nights.
      Worst: It’s Hot and impossible to enjoy time outdoors, except during grilling.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      BEST: Went to a tinycon at the library yesterday with Doctor Who group–we had a table there. It was fun. Saw the most amazing Chewbacca cosplay ever! (Ignore how fat my giant shirt makes me look, haha.) https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Cq6UIHVUEAEHdKq.jpg

      WORST: I’m behind on bills because my car battery died and I had to get a jump from the tow truck ($55) and buy a new one/have it installed ($225). I hate getting caught out like that. No one was around to help. And it rained on me so the bottom of my jeans got wet. I was late to work and had to go in with wet jeans and use PTO to make up the time. >:( But they fixed my turn signal bulb without charging me, so yay.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            My insurance comes with roadside assistance. I have never heard of this before I have to check into it. But you might want to see if your insurance has this. No point to paying for Triple A if you already have something that is workable.

    8. Anonyby*

      Best: My civic duty is done for the year! Whoo! Also, a fanfic author I’ve been reading posted a FANTASTIC chapter on Friday. I keep going back and rereading and basking in the warm fuzzy snuggles of it.

      Worst: As I mentioned in the Friday post, getting to/from the courtroom on Monday messed up my already-not-happy knees, and that’s just making everything worse. Plus, I’m starting to slip into BEC with a new coworker and my job, when I was mostly-happy with my job before and the direction it was taking. So I’m just taking one emotional hit after the other, with the additional of physical, when I don’t really have the support I need right now. My friends are amazing and awesome, but they are not professionals, and I’m trying very hard to not use them as substitutes for professionals.

    9. Callietwo*

      Also swapping order:

      Worst: A coworker let it known that interviews for an internal position for which I’d applied were going to happen on such and such a date and asked what time mine was scheduled? I didn’t have an interview even scheduled and though I assumed that must mean I wasn’t going to be interviewed after all, I sure as hell wasn’t going to give HER the satisfaction of knowing that and was very noncommittal. She is the type that is as sweet as can be to your face while reaching behind you to stab you in the back but management thinks she’s great.
      Worst 2.o: IBS pain that kept me up all night last night.

      Best: When the director of our non-profit contacted me for that interview a few hours later!
      Best 2.0: Lovely day with my husband yesterday.

    10. Ruffingit*

      WORST: Nonsense at work that makes me realize it’s time to job hunt. Haven’t even been there six months yet. ARGH.

      BEST: Had a lovely 40th birthday for my husband yesterday. Great turn out and fun for all.

  35. anon for women's healthcare talk*

    I’m a frequent reader/commenter here, but just for this topic, I’d like to stay anon.

    I have a combination of symptoms that, along with my age, line up perfectly with polycystic ovarian syndrome. I know I have to get it checked out. I’ve just been delaying the appointment with my PCP because I’m not in pain… Doctor Google is great at scaring the crap out of me (what do you mean I’ll need specialized fertility treatments when I want children?!), but does anyone here have advice about ~life with PCOS~ and how to manage it?

    1. Anony-turtle in a half shell!*

      I’m going to us my anonymous name for this response, too. I have never planned to have children, so I’m not super helpful in that aspect, unfortunately. I think it can depend on how severe your PCOS is as to what treatments you might need, so wait until you know more about your levels, etc.

      I have never had any pain associated with my PCOS. I had some symptoms that made my doctor wonder, so I did the testing and discovered I had it. For me, it was important to know because I have a family history of diabetes anyway, so having this additional risk factor for it makes me even more conscious of taking precautions against it. Because I’m not looking to have children, I don’t do much for treatment, other than using Vaniqa for the unwanted facial hair that has sprouted up in the past few years. (Grrrrr.) I have also had issues with gaining weight and having a hard time losing it, insomnia, and fatigue, but I try to treat these more naturally, mainly exercise and better sleep hygiene. Maintaining an activity level is important, so I’m really trying to get back into the swing of things after a long bout of health problems this summer (unrelated to the PCOS) that made it so I couldn’t walk or sit for very long.

      I’d say get the testing and find out where things fall for you, because it might not be as scary as you think! Some people prefer to work with an endocrinologist once they’ve been diagnosed, particularly if they are considering the option of having children.

      1. anon for women's healthcare talk*

        Yeah, between the family history of diabetes, ongoing issues with my period, fatigue, and now rapid weight gain with no change in diet or exercise (if anything, I’ve been eating more consciously??), it really got me to wondering and googling and realizing that I should really see my doctor. My goal with symptom management is just to get my body back on track (I’m not sexually active and not looking to have children right now) and hopefully lose some of that extra weight. A dress that used to be pretty roomy a month ago was suddenly very tight yesterday. :\

        The one good thing, though, is that I’ve always been an easy, heavy sleeper, and that hasn’t changed. I’d probably break down crying if I lost my ability to (intentionally) fall asleep anywhere at any time.

        1. TL -*

          Oh, get tested and follow up – rapid weight gain can be a sign of a number of easily treatable things.
          For the majority of people diagnosed, PCOS isn’t a big deal. I’m pretty sure I have it and the only terrible part was having an ovarian cyst burst and awful periods. Painful but easily controlled with birth control. My cousin had the same thing and she’s had three kids without intervention.

          1. anon for women's healthcare talk*

            Thankfully, I’ve never had painful periods! If anything, they’ve always been on the light end and a bit irregular (5-6-week cycles rather than 4 weeks), until they just… stopped about a year ago. It was mainly that + the weight gain in the meantime that made me worry.

        2. Anony-turtle in a half shell!*

          Definitely talk to your regular doctor, if you’re mainly concerned about symptoms right now. Cross the other bridge (childbearing) when you come to it, but focus on the main symptoms that bother you and ask how to get control of those. My diagnosis consisted of hormone-level tests and the ultrasounds. Some women don’t actually have the cysts on their ovaries, so it’s not conclusive even if they don’t show up. I do have the cysts, but I’ve never had pain or issues associated with them so far, for which I’m grateful. (As an aside, I had a great ultrasound technician and I’m just curious about everything, so she was explaining everything that we were seeing. I think her knowing that I wouldn’t be devastated by the diagnosis led her to be more frank and open about it than she would be if I were someone worried about having children, and we both geeked out about the ultrasound technology and what we were able to view on the screen.)

          I gained weight from birth control and couldn’t lose it, which was really unusual for me. I usually controlled my weight through diet and exercise, which hasn’t worked with the PCOS, so I definitely feel you on that one. The good thing for me is that I’m not gaining weight, which my doctor is okay with, although we’d both be happier if I did lose some of it. The problem I have with many of the treatment meds is that they are diabetes meds, and my doctor and I are both pretty sure that I’ll eventually need those for diabetes due to the strong family background (all grandparents and their siblings, both parents, siblings,…), so I’m waiting for now.

          Some women do have luck with hormonal BC, but my greatest weight gain was on BC (and this is the gain that I’ve had the hardest time losing, unfortunately). I had a bunch of issues and side effects while I was on any of the hormonal BC options, so I finally opted out. It may help alleviate some symptoms, if you’re willing and able to go that route.

          Another of my issues is super irregular cycles, but since I’ve started really watching my diet and exercising that has actually become less of an issue. I do notice the biggest changes when I’m extremely stressed/anxious, though, so I try to keep on top of any anxiety (which is often easier said than done).

          If you ever need support for the weight issues or anything else, just shout out. :)

    2. Margaret*

      I took metformin until that plus lifestyle stuff was able to get my weight down. For me, both diet and exercise were very important to actually losing weight (though I think exercise – which for me comes easier than a good diet – was helpful in managing symptoms, including fatigue and sleep, even when it wasn’t enough to lose weight).

      I was diagnosed due to symptoms and high testosterone levels, and it was only recently during a pregnancy ultrasound that I actually got confirmation that I do have some cysts on my ovaries – but they’ve never caused any trouble, and really having PCOS isn’t a big deal overall. It means I have to work harder to lose weight and be stricter with exercise and diet to get the same results, but it’s not a big deal.

      Yes, I was able to get pregnant without any real issue! (34 weeks along now) I think since PCOS can make your cycles a bit wonky, it’s that much more important to track them in some way so you know what’s going on (I used temperatures – keep in mind ovulation predicter kits that look at hormones can be off when you have PCOS because the hormones can fluctuate irregularly, it might give a false positive as your body gets ready to ovulate more than once before actually doing so). I didn’t ovulate until day 35 all three cycles of TTC – if you’re not tracking and trying earlier in the cycle you’ll certainly get frustrated and probably stop trying before you actually ovulate. We only took three cycles – first we didn’t even get the timing quite right (figuring out the temperature charts), second we had a chemical pregnancy, and the third one stuck – so really totally within the normal range. Some people might still need more intervention, but so do plenty of people who don’t have PCOS or any other diagnosed issue. I was definitely nervous before that it’d be a long process, but I think education and knowing your body and how cycles actually work is the key so whether it is or not, at least you can know what’s going on and take whatever control of it that is possible.

    3. Ava Avarice*

      I have PCOS. I began displaying primary symptoms when I was 21 – period disappeared, lower abdominal bloating, acne, lots of dark hair, and oh my god the weight gain! I went from 130lbs at age 21 to 180lbs at 22 and 240lbs at age 24. I saw four different doctors from age 21-24 and they all blew me off and just wanted to give me the pill – which I now know is completely wrong! At age 24 I found a new gynecologist who introduced herself and promptly asked how I was managing my PCOS. Insert minion Whaaaaa? She didn’t even have to run tests (though she did) to clearly see that I had PCOS; she just reviewed my history and took one look at my cystic acne covered face.

      I was able to find balance using metformin for two years to stabilize and then switching to a diabetic diet. This is made difficult by my allergy to certain chemical sweeteners (specifically aspartame) so I’ve found its best to avoid any artificial sweetener.

      The single best way to control PCOS is through diet. There’s a couple fantastic books called “The PCOS Workbook” and “The Insulin Resistance Diet Plan and Cookbook” that can help. I have friends who also love “The Insulin Resistance Diet” and “

      1. Ava Avarice*

        Sorry. Hit submit accidentally.

        …and “A Patient’s Guide to PCOS: Understanding-and reversing- Polycystic Lvary Syndrome.”

        As far as the specialty fertility treatment to have kids… Sigh. After being diagnosed, it took another 4.5 years before I tried Clomid. I got pregnant on my third cycle using it. I now understand what a miracle that was. My son is 6, and we’ve been trying to have a second baby for 4 years. I did clomid and femara for a year. Had surgery to drill my ovaries and release those cysts. More clomid and femara. Another surgery, injectibles, and then IVF with subsequent FET (frozen embryo transfer). The FET “worked” and I got pregnant with two… But miscarried within the first trimester. My doctor puts a weight limit of 250lbs on IVF patients and my hormones from the IVF stim cycle pushed my weight up to that point. I’ve taken almost a year off trying to lose weight. My insulin resistance was really out of control and I’ve been unable to lose all the weight, but I’m down to 240lbs so we’ve said screw it and are proceeding with the stim cycle before I get too much older.

        So… Yeah. It can affect your fertility. I’ve really had a lot of “worst case scenarios” so don’t let this be your definitive guide to what exactly you will experience. Feel free to contact me for more info or support.

    4. Observer*

      You don’t really know what will be with having kids, but, yes, if your PCOS (if that’s what you have) is symptomatic, you’ll probably need help when you want to have kids.

      The biggest issue is that most doctors don’t really handle PCOS well. They’ll give you hormonal birth control to get the symptoms under control. But, that doesn’t do anything to improve the underlying situation, nor to slow / stop the progress of the condition.

      Most women with PCOS do well with a diabetes friendly type diet and exercise. Often, it’s also worth checking for the presence of other auto-immune issues, as they seem to cluster. And, good nutrition is always a good idea. One good rule of thumb is to avoid foods that have had their color stripped out, and to eat foods that are naturally colorful. It’s not precise, but it really covers a lot of ground.

      You may also want to see a reproductive endocrinologist. Most PCPs don’t really know too much about this.

    5. Meag L*

      PCOS means a lot of different things for different people. For me I’m very overweight, with I know is a contributing factor. I have lot’s of dark hair where I shouldn’t (haha), cystic acne and a lack of periods. I’m 28, but not planning on having children, so I’ve really been putting off doing too much about it. I got a lot of relief just having a Dr tell me it was mostly likely PCOS.. just having someone confirm it made me feel much more “normal”

      Best of luck with whatever you decide to do!

      1. Observer*

        Please do talk to a doctor about managing PCOS. It’s a condition that most definitely is NOT just about having children. Your chances of heart problems and diabetes is way higher than normal – and if you are already having weight problems, there is a good chance that you are insulin resistant.

    6. Panda Bandit*

      You may not need fertility treatments at all. An acquaintance of mine has PCOS and had two healthy babies without any assistance.

    7. Also Anon*

      I have probably had it since college, but the period didn’t disappear entirely til I went off of BC and started trying to get pregnant. Ans now I am trying to find the right doctor and treatment who won’t shove me back on BC. Currently taking metformin.

      For what it’s worth, provera was able to induce bleeding for me both times I’ve tried it.

      However, my blood tests are all mostly normal except for testosterone, and I’m small and while not 100% fit – not overweight or pre-diabetic.

      My current hypothesis is that if I can de stress and fix my sleep cycle (from 4 hrs a night to 7-8), I might be able to get the ovulation started again.

      Good luck with everything. At least for now you can have unprotected sez with less risk of pregnancy! (Although my friend thought that and poof, she’s pregnant as her wedding looms…oops).

  36. Cheryl blossom*

    Real talk: How do you sleep with your partner?

    Since my mid-20s I’ve dealt wish ongoing sleep issues ranging from legit insomnia to just not sleeping well. Sleeping with a partner makes everything worse.

    I’m in a place now where I can sleep pretty well (my sleep app tells me an average night ranges between 50-70% sleep quality). I’m also in a long term relationship which for most of it, we spend all our time together but go home to our own apartments at the end of the day. We both find this kinda sad and lonesome and would love to figure out how to sleep together so that I’m ok (he sleeps fine).

    Currently to sleep with a partner I need to do any and all of the following: listen to a guided meditation as falling asleep, use ear plugs, take a melatonin or over the counter sleeping aid, have white noise playing, fall asleep first, have my own blanket/sheet to manage body temperature.

    Any ideas/tips are much appreciated. I would like to live with partner and share a bed!

    1. Jessica (tc)*

      I feel you! I used to use earplugs while sleeping to drown out any of the movement and noises of my husband, but I developed an ear issue that doesn’t allow me to do that any longer. I invested in a white noise machine that has definitely made the noise issue better. I would wake up when neighbors opened their car doors or closed a window or sometimes when a car drove by. I’m super sensitive to noises when I sleep, so having the white noise generator has definitely made my sleep much better.

      Also, I second the idea of having your own blanket. I absolutely have my own blanket, because I am such a light sleeper that any movement of the blanket would jolt me completely awake. We tried sharing for a few years, but my sleep was interrupted too much, so when I figured that one thing could help, I went for it. (I also tend to like my feet covered and he hates that, so there was a battle to keep the blanket over my arms and around my feet, which I don’t miss at all. Also, I married a blanket hog, so there was that. ;~) ) I’m married to a human furnace, so being able to regulate my own temp without completely losing control of my blanket has been wonderful. Before, I’d uncover myself only to later find that I had no access to putting it back on later, because he’d have rolled over and taken my part with him. No, thank you. My own blanket it is!

      One thing that might not be an issue for you, but I want to mention anyway: allergies. If you do have allergies that make things worse, I’d recommend taking your allergy meds before bed, as this may help, especially if you take Benadryl or another one that causes drowsiness. Not being able to breathe well always makes my sleep terrible, because I absolutely cannot breathe through my mouth while sleeping (not sure why, but I’m okay with not having to deal with a dry mouth in the morning).

      I’d say to do whatever you need to in order to help yourself sleep well. If you need white noise, earplugs, melatonin, and your own blanket, do that! I tried falling asleep first, but he always jolted me awake when he came to bed, so that wasn’t helpful for us, but if it does work for you, do it. As someone married to a guy who could sleep through the zombie apocalypse while I myself am a person who couldn’t sleep through a slug trying to take a shortcut across our bedroom floor (okay, that might be hyperbole), I have discovered that I just need to find what works for me and do that. Your partner should hopefully be supportive of that, because good sleep is important (and very hard to come by for some of us!)

    2. Allison Mary*

      Gonna try to keep these thoughts brief (because I should really go to bed, ironically, and not write a super long response on this subject)…

      I would suggest: before you move in together, invest in a quality, solid foam mattress of some kind, whether firm or soft – i.e., NOT a spring mattress. If my partner is really jumping around, obviously I’ll feel it and wake up, because I’m a light sleeper, but for normal movement during the night, and even when he gets up before me in the morning, I don’t feel that movement in the mattress at all, and it doesn’t wake me up. We visited some friends in Alaska recently, and their guest bed was a HORRIBLE spring mattress, and I swear every time my partner took a deep breath, I could feel it, and it woke me up.

      Also, can you invest in a king-sized bed, so that you both have the most possible space to yourselves in the bed, if needed?

      I do use ear plugs. We have a fan/air conditioner going at night, which is almost white noise. My partner sleeps heavy, so white noise wouldn’t bother him – would it bother your partner?

      Would using earbuds be viable, for the guided meditation? If you haven’t already done so, I’d also suggest investing in an iPod shuffle, or something similar, which does not have ANY light-up components, for use in the guided meditation.

      This is just getting into sleep hygiene, but if you don’t already do this – for two hours before bed, I stay away from laptops/TVs/phones/tablets – anything with a light-up screen. And I start dimming the lights around my house as much as I can, limiting my light exposure to ambient, soft light, and avoiding direct, bright light. (clearly I’m not doing this right now… but my laptop is dimmed as much as possible, and I use f.lux to filter out the blue light… and I’m not working yet, so I don’t have a regular sleep schedule.)

      Aaaaand more general sleep hygiene – if you can invest in one of those crazy-bright super happy lights? Sit with one of those pointing to the side of your face for 15 minutes first thing every morning, at the same time. Combining this with the above step of dimming lights at night, can really help enforce the circadian rhythms you want to have, around sleep.

      If it’s legal in your state (and if you don’t have an employer who will give you grief over it), making your own marijuana tincture can be awesome – I just drop the dried buds into some everclear and let it sit for a few months. There are several strains of marijuana that are specifically formulated for sleep, and I swear that I seem to sleep through the night better. I feel better about taking this than I do my prescription for gabapentin (which I’ve been taking to aid in sleep for like seven years, now).

      That’s everything I can think of. I’m sure you guys can find a way to make it work beautifully for you. :)

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Also, can you invest in a king-sized bed, so that you both have the most possible space to yourselves in the bed, if needed?

        I was going to say this. One of the best sleeps I ever had with a partner was in a motel room with a California king. The bed was so huge it was like sleeping in two separate ones. I could even starfish and we didn’t touch each other!

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Another vote for a king-sized bed if you can swing it. We have a queen, which is an improvement over the full we slept in together for three years, but I sleep so well when we’re on vacation and in a king bed. I need my space in bed, since I flop around and turn quite a bit.

    3. Connie-Lynne*

      Yeah, I have all of those, plus a ban on topics that would rile me up before bed and some rules about if I’m prepping for sleep don’t hog all my nice prep effort for your comfort.

      Also we have programmable lights that change color and eventually dim on a timer.

      Finally I have my own comfy place I can go sleep if I need it, with no assumption of fault on his part, and also I can ask him to go sleep there if I need the bed.

      In summary, your choices seem reasonable.

    4. NicoleK*

      DH and I had several sleep challenges. He’s usually hot and I’m always cold. I’m a very light sleeper and him rolling over in bed usually wakes me up. I can cuddle but I need my personal space to sleep. He goes to bed much later than me. We’ve done using a fan for white noise and air circulation and each having our own blankets. For the last couple of years, we’ve slept in separate bedrooms. It’s not for everyone but it works for us.

    5. AdAgencyChick*

      My poor husband has to wear earplugs and push me onto my side sometimes to make me quit snoring. (Yes, I have been to a sleep specialist. He prescribed a mouth device for me to wear at night, but that caused *me* not to be able to fall asleep when I had it on.)

      He gets me back by always wanting the room colder than I do. :P I just pull an extra sheet or blanket over myself.

    6. Ava Avarice*

      We have a white noise machine in our bedroom. For the first 5 years or so, I used a sleep mask because he needs the TV on to fall asleep. We’ve compromised on one of the music stations so there isn’t the flickering but he still has noise. We also have a good quality king size bed and he sleeps way the heck over there and I sleep way the heck over here.

      And honestly, I go to sleep before him many nights and make him creep in and not wake me.

    7. HannahS*

      Not sure if this addresses any of your issues, but I know people who put two twin mattresses on one king-sized (I think) frame, so that the motion of one doesn’t bother the other, and each has their own blanket.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This. And you could also each have your own set of sheets and blankets, too. It might take getting used to, but I have often thought this is the route to go.
        Looking at your list of needs, I think the only one that would be a problem is the need to fall asleep first. If you can have all the others can you let go of that one? I mean, we really cannot control who falls asleep first. And just because one person falls asleep first does not mean they will stay asleep.

  37. Volunteer Enforcer*

    Aw bless, is that Evie? That’s the most affectionate, relaxed face I’ve seen on a cat. <3

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes! I never get tired of thinking about her metamorphosis from a kitten who would not allow touch to the happiest, most affectionate cat I’ve ever seen.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        They go toward what they are shown.

        I have a husky here that was just all over the map. BUT. He is smart. He can hear a command the first time and know what it means. Subsequent times his response depends on if he feels like doing the command or not. So I put a big emphasis on how good love feels and how good it feels to be part of a “group”. This meant howling with him, rubbing his “arm pits” (which he craved) and playing with him A LOT. This self-focused dog with very poor judgement skills regarding safety has changed so much. He was five years old the first time he expressed fear of ANYTHING. Now he is a somewhat safety conscious and he is gentle with others and is especially good with children. Animals copy us, we train them even when we are not purposefully training them. They do watch us intently all the time and they adjust to what they see. They KNOW when they have it good. ;)

  38. Connie-Lynne*

    Y’all, I have a lot of the sads this week. It’s Burningman build week last week, and while I went out for five days, I’ve been home for three.

    Normally I’d have another two weeks to go out there in the dust, but this year I decided on self care and not blowing all my PTO. I left before most of my village arrived, five days before the event started, and before my crew even finished our project!

    It was the right choice but as everyone heads in I feel misty.

  39. Rory Gilmore's Book*

    I have a sibling who is, quite simply, a brat. My mom is at her whit’s end and always asking me for advice on how to deal with Sibling but gets upset when I suggest “tough love.”

    For example, my sibling is 30 years old and never worked full-time. Music is his passion, which IMO is all well and good as long as you can find some way to support yourself. He is constantly getting fired from jobs because of his substance abuse problems. When he is short on money, he calls my mom. My mom is almost 60 and works seven days a week. In short, its okay for her to work ridiculous hours and “okay” for him not to because “he doesnt want to.” (siblings words) He “feels bad” about our mom supporting him but it never goes beyond that. He dates women from wealthy families in the hopes that they will take care of him too.

    She was complaining to me recently about him and I finally told her, “I know you are trying to help him but you are actually hurting him. He is never going to be an adult until he has to.” She then yells at me, telling me how cold-hearted I am. I told her that I have tried to help Sibling but Im not going to “give a drunk a drink” and support that kind of lifestyle.

    The thing is….our father died from substance abuse. I struggled with and so did another sibling. Its just so sad to see someone else go down this road. I have suggested a couple of rehab facilities that I know have helped others but my mother gets mad when i suggest taking Sibling there because she says he will just learn more bad habits.

    Im at a loss. Ive gotten to the point where i dont even ask about him anymore because its always some drama or sob story why he cant be a functional human being.

    1. brightstar*

      It’s really difficult to see family members enabling the ones who are hurting themselves. Not talking about it, or even taking a step back from your family may be the best thing for you to do. It sucks and I’m sorry.

    2. fposte*

      Is it worth a trip to a Nar Anon meeting for you? Right now it sounds like you’re doing with your mother what your mother is doing with your brother–trying to do for her what she needs to do for herself. I suspect that’s a pretty common pattern in families that have struggled with addiction.

      I’m sorry. It’s tough when you see a parent go down to this. Does she know that you’re not going to support him or house him when she no longer can?

      1. Rory Gilmore's Book*

        That’s a very good observation. I’ve often had to play the role of “Mom” to my mother throughout the years.

        I’ve made it really clear I will not be supporting my sibling in any way, shape, or form when my mother is unable to (as long as he is using substances). My other sibling wont be supporting him either.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Agreeing with fposte, that this could become a thing where you are enabling the enabler. So you may need to go that one more step of not helping her at all. In this instance, “helping” might be as little as just listening to problems over the phone.

          Sometimes they just do not learn. I had an aunt who gave money to a cousin. The cousin ran away from home before 18 and would call for money. My aunt gave it to him and he would call again. My aunt’s financial situation was not good at all. Finally the money ran out. There was no more money to give. And that is when the calls stopped.

          OTH, going the opposite way, a friend was having trouble with her adult daughter. The drama and the requests for money did not stop until my friend said no more money. The daughter is doing better now, it took years to get to this point in the story. One good solid talking point, I brought up is about my aunt. I told my friend that she cannot allow herself to lose everything she has, because once it is gone, it will not be coming back. (We are talking about a retirement income.) Later the daughter said that was the only thing that would have worked was for her folks to cut the financial help. While their relationship is not perfect you can see that the two women do love each other.

          I suggest printing out the “Letting Go” poem that Al-Anon uses. Maybe give a copy to your mom and you each keep a copy on the fridge. I know that poem has pulled me through some major STUFF. Each time I read it I find something I did not notice before.

    3. Pennalynn Lott*

      Change some minor details, and you’re describing my family. My 71-year old mother will still rush out of the house (she lives with me) to “help” my 51-year old brother through another drunk-out-of-his-mind crisis at 2:00 am, even though she hardly has any vision in her left eye and shouldn’t be driving at night, let alone speeding and in a panic because her “baby” needs her. [FYI, he’s the oldest sibling.]

      She has bailed him out of jail more times than I can count, gives him money, pays his bills, pays his attorneys when he gets yet another DUI, endures his lies and emotional abuse, and just keeps coming back for more. My mom is in AA (has been sober since July of 1981) and attends Al-Anon. But she has a HUGE blind spot where my brother is concerned, and can’t seem to apply any of Al-Anon’s principles to him.

      I’m in the same boat as you, RG’s Book, in that I gave up asking about my brother a long time ago. And since my mom lives with me, I do what I can to be supportive during the times she lets herself get emotionally and physically drained by him. But I have drawn some very firm lines. I will *not* help my mom get my brother’s email and online banking accounts secured after he has given his abusive girlfriend his passwords (again); I will not help my brother track his girlfriend through her smartphone or his computer; I will not drive my mom anywhere if it means bailing my brother out of another mess; I will not go with her to the courthouse for my brother’s umpteenth DUI hearing, etc. So, basically, if she needs some laundry done or a meal or three cooked for her, I’ll do that.

      Oh, and my brother has been to rehab 3 or 4 times. It was a huge waste of [my mom’s] money. If the addict isn’t serious about getting sober, it’s basically just adult summer camp. (As in, they get a 30/60/90 day break from having to deal with the “real” world, while partaking in “art therapy”, “horse therapy”, “massage therapy”, “cooking therapy”, etc., and forming factions and cliques, just like in summer camp. The stories my brother told me about rehab, back when I was still talking to him, sounded like nothing more than a very expensive vacation.)

      Also, since my mom has been in AA forever, she has sponsored dozens and dozens of women, quite a few of whom went in and out of rehab like it was a revolving door. I’m sure some of them got sober after the first go-round, but that doesn’t seem to be the norm. So I guess my advice, based on my limited experience, is that if your brother isn’t serious about getting sober, rehab is probably a waste of time and money.

  40. parent seeking advice on social anxiety and depression*

    Since many on here seem to have Social Anxiety and/or Depression, I thought this community would be a good place to look for some insights.

    My daughter is 15, and I am having a difficult time knowing how to help her with this.

    I could write tons on this, but I’ll (try to!) keep it short and ask my questions:

    • I struggle with knowing how much to push her into activities where she will meet some people and discover activities she likes. She has spent the entire summer alone in her room, except for 2 weeks. Obviously, this is her comfort zone and I know she needs it as a refuge – sometimes. But I want her to have the tools to have a full and fulfilling life, and I will only have her under my roof for a few more years. My question is – for those of you with SAD/depression – what could your parents have done to help you when you were a teen? (Yes, she is in therapy, but grudgingly. She tells the therapist what she wants to hear. She also says she is content, and to just leave her alone. I wish I could believe this, but she has said that to us before, and been engaging in self and suicidal ideation at the time.)

    • Any other parents of teens/children with SAD/depression who have resources to share (Message boards, support groups, etc.), I would really appreciate it. I am sure there are a lot of people in my own community dealing with this, but no one talks about it, and I feel I can’t either without violating my daughter’s privacy.

    Thank you.

    1. Aurora Leigh*

      I might not be the best person to anser this, but I’ll throw this out there.

      I have social aniexity and deppressive tendencies but I’ve never actually tried to have anything diaganosed, so your daughter’s experiences are probably different from mine.

      This might be more of an introvert thing, but I have a limited amount of “social energy” to use on any given day. I definitely needed my room as a refuge. Now that I live alone, I enjoy coming home work and having no one talk to me for a bit. I get together with friends, but I like to have one day of the weekend where I just don’t leave my apartment, except maybe for a walk.

      So is school totally wiping your daughter out? I was homeschooled, but I think that if I had to be socially “on” so many hours of the day, I wouldn’t have had anything left for the extracurricular activities I was involved in.

      I was definitely a teen who could tell people what they wanted to hear . . . for me it was a coping mechanism. I still have a dash of perfectionism and admitting depression to some one would feel like admitting to failure. It’s not! But I do think society still views it that way to an extent. I often felt I had to protect my mom from finding out I wasn’t perfect.

      I’m afraid there’s not much advice here, but kudos to you for being in your daughter’s corner! She’s lucky to have a mom who’s aware of her issues and trying to understand them and help!

    2. Leatherwings*

      Thanks so much for being sensitive to what your daughter needs, you sound like a wonderful parent. When I was a teenager, I was exactly like her and my parents *hated* it. They would punish me for staying indoors, force me into activities I hated (including requiring me to call friends, which was torture), and yell if they thought I was getting too lazy/slobbish. It really messed me up that they weren’t more sensitive to my emotional well-being so again, thank you.

      I would let her know that she does need to leave the house because it will help her feel better, but ask her if she has suggestions for what she would like to do – and come with suggestions of your own because it’s likely she won’t be that receptive. Does reading in a park alone appeal to her? Going to the mall and getting a smoothie with you or a friend? Getting a gym membership? So I would push her to leave the house a little, but only on her own terms.

      Good luck with everything. I know it wasn’t easy being around me as a teen, and even though my parents weren’t always super supportive, I do recognize the things they did do for me now that I’m grown. Keep on keeping on.

    3. Lily Evans*

      I had a horrible time with depression in high school, and at the time I had no idea that it was depression I was dealing with. You’re already several steps ahead of my parents who don’t believe in mental illness or therapy (they’ve actually gotten a bit more educated on it, but that does little to help me now). But at the same time, I probably wouldn’t have been too receptive to therapy either at that point, it’s one of those things I had to be ready for. I’m not sure any of what I’m about to write will apply to you, but here are some things that would have helped:

      – If my parents had put less pressure on me regarding grades, getting a job, and college. I ran myself ragged trying to please my parents to achieve the life I thought they wanted for me. They’ve chilled a bit on that now that they can’t control my decisions and I’ve proven myself to be a (mostly) competent adult, but it would have taken a lot of pressure off teenage me if they’d supported me pursuing what made me happy, instead of putting me on the college conveyor belt. Would I have my current job now if I’d gotten the creative writing degree they talked me out of? Who knows, but it would have saved me slogging through classes I had no interest in for the sake of a more “useful” degree. Even if that doesn’t sound like your relationship with your daughter at all, it doesn’t hurt to check in with her regarding school stress.

      – Make sure she knows you’ll love her no matter what. My parents love always felt contingent on how well I was doing. I also have no plans for ever coming out to my parents since their love and support has never felt unconditional. It would have gone a long way to just have them sit down and give me this talk.

      – If they went to therapy too. IMO, everyone can benefit from discussing things with a therapist. If you started seeing one too, not only would it seem less like something you’re forcing your daughter to do because she’s doing something wrong somehow (obviously that might not be how she feels, but oftentimes that’s the first thing a teenager’s mind jumps to) and you could learn better ways to communicate with her.

      – Be careful about seeming judgmental, and don’t try to force her to talk to you. My mom used to pick at the smallest things about my appearance, my mannerisms, my “attitude”, and then couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t tell her things. She didn’t even realize that all of those little things added up to me not feeling like I could trust her. Just don’t sweat the small stuff and let her make her own mistakes. My parents fought with my sister all the time about her clothes for school, when their relationship probably would have been better if they’d just let her get a detention for her ripped jeans.

      -Make sure she knows that mistakes she makes now won’t define her future. I spent years terrified about getting a bad grade, being late to school, getting a detention, but in hindsight none of those things would have been nearly as bad as I’d thought. I failed a class in high school and I was sure that it was absolutely the end of the world and I’d never get into college or get a job, and thinking that you somehow ruined your entire future at 16 is just so much pressure to have. I wish I could go back in time and tell my 16 year old self that it would be fine. What helped was my grandmother telling me how my father failed one of his college classes and had to stay in school an extra semester. What would have helped more was hearing that from my dad and knowing that he and my mom weren’t disappointed in me.

      – Help her find “her people”. I was a total geek when it came to things like Harry Potter and Twilight, and instead of nurturing those interests my parents made fun of me for them. It would have made a huge difference if my parents had helped me find a book club or something to join with people who shared those interests. Is there something your daughter loves that you could help her find a group for? As a teen, I never would have known that things like community center classes and library book and writing clubs existed, but would have given them a shot if someone had helped me find them.

      -Set separate times for family bonding and for difficult conversations. My parents liked to boast how we’d always eaten dinner together as a family, but many (so, so many) of those dinners were soured by inquisitions about grades and homework and just unpleasant topics. The same goes for car rides and family vacations. Make family time about happy things, keep the topics to good things happening in your lives so that your daughter can let her guard down and isn’t afraid of what you’ll bring up every time you’re together. Then be consistent about where and how you have serious conversations, so that she doesn’t feel blindsided. And let her walk away if she needs to, forcing it will just make things worse. Also, give her the option of writing things down instead of talking about them. It can be hard to feel pressure to talk about difficult things, so giving her options about how to communicate with you might make her more likely to do it.

      – Lastly, make sure she’s not spending too much time online. I am absolutely the last person to suggest censoring online activity, but there are some scary parts to the internet that romanticize depression, self-harm, and suicide. Your daughter might be nowhere near those sites, but try to draw her back to the “real” world for at least a couple hours a day. Definitely don’t ban her from the internet, because she might have a support system in place there and it could make things worse, but remind her that you’re there and you care about her. Ask her to do something like help you with dinner, keep the conversation light, maybe put on some music and just have fun with her. Or coax her out by offering to take her for ice cream or to a museum, or anything you think she’d enjoy. Then enjoy her company and, like I said above, don’t push her into talking. Just spend time with her, no strings attached.

      Hopefully some of this novella is helpful, I know all families work differently! Good luck with everything!

      1. Lily Evans*

        In case I hadn’t written enough, I thought of one more thing to add:

        Accept that you might not always understand your daughter, and celebrate those differences. It drove my mom nuts that she had created a kid who she just didn’t get. She was a social butterfly, I was an anxious introvert who was perfectly happy 90% of the time being a homebody. And she just couldn’t wrap her head around that, and she made it very clear to me that it frustrated her how different I was. That in turn made me even more uncomfortable in my own skin, like there was something wrong with me for enjoying being alone. She was constantly needling me to try to figure out my way of thinking, when we both would have been so much happier if she’d just taken our differences at face value, instead of acting like there was some mystery to solve.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          If Lily hadn’t said a lot in her first one that I agreed with, this one capped it off. It’s a terrible thing to know that your parent doesn’t “get” you and because of that, it’s your fault. That whatever idea or ideal they had for a child, you do not measure up to that.

          I spent a lot of time in my room as teen with my nose in a book because it was the only way to escape from my mother (and family) — she would leave me alone when she saw me reading. I’m not saying that is the case for *every* depressed or introverted teen but like video games or TV it’s an escape.

          So while I applaud your desire for her to find “her people”, if you pick at that too long, it’s going to be another thing she’s failing you at, another expectation of yours she’s not living up to. It’s OK for her to be different than you are, she’s supposed to be!

          I’m going to suggest something that might sound odd, but make plans for yourself and find a way to include her in them. I mean, if you are going shopping, don’t ask her to go shopping with you, but ask if she wants to come along, that you could drop her off at the library and pick her up when you’re done. Or if you want to go and visit a friend/get groceries, you could offer to drop her off at a book store/museum/movie. If she doesn’t want to go, then she doesn’t want to go and if she’s old enough to be alone at home by herself, then she can be left there. With no driver’s licence and no public transport, I was always trapped at home… unless I wanted to go to the supermarket.

          Pay attention to what she reads. Look at the covers, try and remember who the authors are. They may come to your town and your daughter may love to go to a book signing or if there’s a new release coming out you might want to pick it up for her or arrange a trip for her to get it. Ask her about the book, read it yourself. You will learn a lot about her based on her reading choices and it will give you something to talk about.

          And tell her you love her. Not because she cleaned her room or got a good grade, but just because you love her.

          1. Lily Evans*

            Yes, to not nitpicking about finding her people! I wasn’t super specific about it in my first post, but the best way to do that would be to find options she might not know exist, present them to her, and then let her do what she will with that information. That way the message sticks to, “I care about and support your interests, but I also respect your choices.”

            Also, super yes to the being willing to drop her off places. I’d also add to not asking too many questions when she wants to go somewhere, as long as it’s somewhere safe. It’s counterproductive to say “You should socialize more!” and then dissect her plans Spanish Inquisition style. My entire pre-car teenage life involved conversations like this:
            “You need to leave the house more! Oh, you want me to take you to the mall? Who will be at the mall? Your friends? Which friends? Are some of those ‘friends’ boys? What boys? Will any parents be there? What are you going to do at the mall? I’ll just stay there while you’re there. You won’t even know I’m at the mall too! I’ll also bring your younger sister! And we can only stay for an hour, because I have other things to do! What do you mean you don’t want to go anymore? Ugh, you never leave the house!”

            Yes, it can be inconvenient and scary to start letting teenagers out of the nest, but it’s worth it to give them some space and show that you trust them! Guess who’s now planning a trip to another country, whose mother will be lucky if she hears about it before it happens, but might just get a selfie from in front of a famous landmark!

            1. Lily Evans*

              And this is another reason I think everyone should do therapy, it can be really hard to see how your small behaviors turn into a bigger picture that’s not the picture you thought. If you asked my mom, she thinks she did a bang up job raising my sister and I and genuinely doesn’t understand why neither of us are close with her. She doesn’t realize how all the small things she said or did added up for us over the years, and I don’t believe she ever had any bad intentions, she thought what she was doing was for the best. I can’t imagine it’s easy for her to reconcile the relationship she wanted with her daughters with the one she has, but I also can’t give her the relationship she wants because I just don’t trust her.

    4. Emilia Bedelia*

      One thing that helped me a lot in doing new activities was having someone familiar there so that I didn’t feel alone. Perhaps finding some activity that you can do together would be fun- a cooking or exercise or art class, a specifically parent/teen activity, even just going along to something with her if she’s interested in trying it. Even something as simple as cooking dinner together at home or doing a yoga workout together. Or, ask her to come along to something that you want to try, so that you’re taking the lead on meeting people and trying new things and she can follow you. Or, if she has friends who might be up for trying something, ask if she’d like to do one of those things with a friend, and pay for both of them to do an activity.

      Encourage her to explore hobbies that she can do at home- even if she doesn’t want to go outside, something like crafts or art or exercise might give her something to do while she’s at home, and help her relax. When I was feeling particularly low as a teenager (I’ve never been diagnosed with depression or an anxiety disorder, but like a lot of people there were some particularly tough times), doing something that made me feel accomplished was helpful.

    5. Pat Benetardis*

      I have a 14 year old daughter with anxiety and maybe depression. She is willingly going to CBT(asked for it after lots of prodding). And there was also something big going on that was underlying). Prior to starting the therapy she spent loong periods of time in her room and not socializing. One thing that helped tremendously was that we got a puppy. Even when she wanted nothing to do with the rest of the family she came out to interact with puppy. And takes him on walks, etc. We also have developed rituals, like after dinner we always watch a certain show together and then maybe walk the dog. That turns into an hour and a half on engagement. Things are better (but not all the way) since the dog and therapy, but are tenuous.
      So to make a long story short, can you get a new pet?

      1. Hrovitnir*

        I know this should go without saying, but please only consider getting a pet (12-18 year commitment for a dog, 14-20 year commitment for a cat) if *you* want one and are excited to get and care for one. They’re a lot of work and that wears thin pretty fast if you’re getting them for any reason but that you want them.

    6. Clever Name*

      My son has a myriad of diagnoses. He’s been in therapy and is currently doing well on medication. I’d find another therapist who you daughter will connect with. At the very least, stop wasting your money on the current one. Certain people get my son and others don’t. The ones who get him are amazing and he loves spending time with them. He just shuts down with the ones who don’t get him.

    7. parent seeking advice on social anxiety and depression*

      thanks Lily and Dynamic and Aurora and Leatherwings and everyone – lots of great points and lots to think about.

      We have been doing family therapy too; I have no illusions that I can’t improve as a parent.

      We’ve given her lots of freedom in the past but unfortunately she and her friends were heavily shoplifting. It was heartbreaking that the couple of friends that she had found and liked ended up being banned from seeing each ohter.

      I guess every parent struggles at times, but it is difficult to have a relationship with someone that seems not want to have one with you and won’t share anything. I understand that’s part of her makeup, but it still hurts. Hopefully something will open up between us at some point through therapy, but then again, maybe it won’t. I am trying to be accepting of how things are, yet still optimistic that we can have a better relationship in the future.

      Anyway, I am taking in all that you all have said, and I thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences. I really appreciate it.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I’d like to mention something, you may have it covered already. I was that kid in my room all the time. But it was more do to at-home issues than anything like what is going on with your daughter.
        You seem like a very caring parent and I am awed by that. Please be sure to help her find something she IS successful at. Probably it will be an activity she does on her own, if so then that is okay. It could be a craft or it could be writing or a hobby. Please try to help her find things that she KNOWS she does well, and keep the activity within her current perimeters. It’s really important to people of all ages to know that they have skills and they CAN do things well- it’s a basic need like food and water.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Wanted to add: My friend paints with her daughter. They each have their own easels, paints, brushes and when they finish a painting they get the pics framed. They can paint alone or together. If they paint together it can be quiet time together or it can be a time to talk about anything and everything. They pretty much make it whatever suits the moment.

      2. Dynamic Beige*

        We have been doing family therapy too; I have no illusions that I can’t improve as a parent.
        So wait a minute… your children are in therapy with you because you know you can improve as a parent… but what has that got to do with your children? Are you saying that you could improve as a parent, but they could also improve as your children somehow?

        I have been to therapy just once in my life. Like your daughter, I was deeply depressed at the time, but I didn’t know what that was as we never talked about feelings, or anything really. The therapist asked why we were there and my mother said, looking at him, “I think we’ve been having problems” then she turned and looked at me (I was sitting as far away from them both as the couch would allow with my sibling in between) “as a family.” She had decided that everything would be fine, if I would start toeing the line/shape up/whatever and just be exactly what she wanted me to be which she never really came directly out and said but I know it would have been a miniature version of Herself. Let’s just say that by the end of that session, she had learned way more than she wanted to know about how I felt about her as a parent… and we never went back. Or even mentioned it again.

        I guess every parent struggles at times, but it is difficult to have a relationship with someone that seems not want to have one with you and won’t share anything. I understand that’s part of her makeup, but it still hurts.

        OK, I want you to consider that not sharing isn’t part of her makeup, but something that you’ve trained/taught her.

        I’m not saying this is something you have done intentionally. At one point when she was very small, she trusted you completely and would tell you anything (I would bet) and you really miss those days. But somewhere along the line, she said something that you didn’t like or approve of and you brought the hammer down. There wasn’t any discussion or reasoning or questioning about where she had heard that/why she thought that, it was something you wanted to put a stop to, right then and there. But that also taught her that there were things she couldn’t talk to you about because you would get angry or flip out over. So she started censoring what she said to you. And whenever she found more things that you Did Not Like, she we would edit those out, too. I know more than a little about that.

        I am not a therapist (and I don’t play one on TV) but I would suggest to you that you consider just getting therapy for yourself and let your children be (at least for now). If your one “problem child” has already figured out that whatever she says to the therapist is being retold to you, then you are wasting your money. You know she’s only saying what the therapist wants to hear, because the therapist is telling you what they talk about and IMO, that is wrong, wrong, wrong. How on earth can you expect her to open up to the therapist and talk about the things that are really bothering her (which may not even be all about you) when she knows you’re going to hear about it and then be there to pick on her about them? You are so desperate to be let into her life/thoughts that everything you are doing is driving her away. You couldn’t even give her a journal at this point, because she would know that anything she wrote in it, you would find it and read (also something I know a little about).

        Looking back, I would have *loved* to have had a non-judgemental adult that I could have talked to about anything in my life. It would have made such a difference. Sometimes, as much as parents may want it otherwise, that person simply cannot be a parent. I honestly do believe that your “problem child” would benefit from having a therapist, just not the one she’s currently seeing. If you can work with her to find a new one, that would be a good idea IMO. I would also — if I were you — at the first meeting, tell the therapist that you don’t want to know anything about what gets said, and then stick to that (with the caveat being later privately that unless she is seriously in danger of causing harm to herself or others). Yes, it will kill you. When you pick up your daughter from her sessions, just ask how it went and accept any “OK” non-specific answer and then “that’s great, dear!” Change of subject. Because therapy isn’t going to work if someone else (you) is listening in. She isn’t going to open up if she knows what she says is going to be broadcast about.

        I’m also going to make a weird suggestion: buy her a toolbox. One that’s mainly empty (has no shelves or dividers) so that it can be filled with journals and personal things. Include a packaged (unopened) combination lock with it and an empty journal. You are not allowed to know the combination of the lock. Tell her that this is for her personal thoughts and you will never go into it, unless she allows you to (hence, the combination lock). Because while I’m sure your heart is in the right place, I think a journal filled with your daughter’s thoughts and feelings sitting out in the open or even hidden under her mattress would be too much of a temptation for you.

        Consider that she’s like a wild animal. You aren’t going to get close to a wild creature by running after them, yelling “Come here! I want to pet you!” You have to sit and be still and non-threatening. You have to accept their presence on their terms.

      3. Pat Benetardis*

        Hello – I have been thinking about you all day. At times I have felt that my daughter wants nothing to do with me, no relationship in the future, etc. and it is really, really painful. I’m sorry that you’re experiencing this. Many times I have reacted childishly to this, but I want to say to do your best to be supportive and visibly loving forgiving. And please let us know how things are going.

      4. Hrovitnir*

        Oh, I just saw this reply! Sorry to spam all over this section.

        Personally I would advise doing therapy for yourself and not with your daughter as a family if she’s not feeling it. It is very, very easy for it to feel like family therapy to fix how you’re wrong if you’re the child/young adult in a room with a bunch of adults, even in the best situation.

        Definitely try and make an open space for communication without chasing her. If you don’t feel comfortable to share yourself being pressured just makes you withdraw more. It is hard and something worth discussing with your therapist – how to create spaces for engagement that aren’t about putting her in the spotlight or making her perform certain behaviours you want. Good luck!

    8. Hrovitnir*

      I’m sure you’ve already got great replies but I’ll answer from my perspective first. This is way too long because that’s how I roll but the TL;DR is: you cannot fix it, but you can really help just by being consistent, supportive, and safe for your daughter; and you are doing a great job.

      From my perspective my parents could have helped me when I was a teenager by not expecting me to be more mature than them and not verbally and physically attacking me. But I’m a little bitter.

      To elaborate on consistency and support: that means saying you will be there if she needs you, and following through. It doesn’t mean not having rules or consequences, though she’ll potentially be more sensitive to anger or things said in anger than your average person. At the end of the day you will make mistakes, so will she, but if she knows you’re there for her and you don’t belittle her experiences (this is easy to do without meaning to) you are providing the most important base for improvement.

      Further, having missed out on consistency and a sense of emotional safety I cannot describe how important they are. Not having any family I can trust with my self will probably always affect me and my ability to feel safe in the world. I have also noticed that people who have always had that tend to take it for granted, and depression makes you myopic on top of it, so I want to note it might feel like you are not appreciated at times (or a lot of the time). It is most likely that even if she can’t see it now she will most likely appreciate it later, and you’re doing a great thing even if it’s hard.

      In terms of how much to push her that’s very individual. I would advise talking to her when she’s in a relatively good headspace and trying to get her to tell you how much she wants to be pushed. Then following through even when she really doesn’t want to do it later!

      Finally to touch on therapy, therapy is hard. She may not be ready, so I would advise not really pushing on that but making sure she knows it’s available and something you see as innately positive and a neutral choice (as opposed to the view you only go to therapy if it’s “that bad” which is common), and checking in occasionally. You could suggest she look up different therapy styles and see if any appeal more – therapy is not all the same and not all approaches work for all people. This applies to therapists also!

      Good luck to you and your daughter.

  41. Mazzy*

    Hi so I’ve seen Captain Awkward reference many times here and I love advice columns including Dear Abby, C Hax and Dear Prudence (even if I don’t always agree with the advice) so I thought I’d give C.A. a try, but I totally just don’t get it. I feel like the letters I read are 1/2 problems, I read some and had to re-read them to see what the actual problem was or if I missed a “click to page 2” button or something. Some of the letters just look like someone overanalyzing to death a small comment made by someone else. What am I missing? Is there some part of the website that is better than the rest? Do others find the letters a tad tedious?

    1. Florida*

      I’m glad to hear you say this. Many readers here seem to rave about Captain Awkward. I don’t like her at all. It seems very clique-y because she uses a lot of her own jargon. She’s snarky, which is not what someone needs when they are asking for advice. And half the time the letters and her advice makes no sense to me.

      I am not a fan of Dear Abby (although I am a huge fan of the late Ann Landers). I like Carolyn Hax. Dear Prudence is hit or miss.

    2. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      I don’t care for CA either. The questions either aren’t interesting to me or like you said, are overanalyzing, and I really, really dislike the comment section. It’s very cliquey and there’s no room for dissent–even polite dissent, which I think tends to contribute to the echo chamber. There can be some helpful stuff there, but overall I prefer Carolyn Hax and Dear Prudence (although as great as Mallory is, there’s a couple of things I think she’s missed the ball on).

      1. Mazzy*

        I’m glad I wasn’t the only one. I think sometimes the questions here are what they call “first world problems” too but those type of problems have a heck of alot more value to discuss at work because there are more power dynamics and you’re dealing with people you may not know well and you need to maintain a professional demeanor and get along with people you might not like. And I think those “first world problems” are worth discussing in the work world because someone’s livelihood may be at stake for silly things they don’t even realize. But I think those same sort of issues can often be non issues outside of work, which is why I was kind of surprised to be some of the questions on CA

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I liked Captain Awkward at first (and, in fact, I first heard about Ask a Manager through Captain Awkward), but I feel the “Do whatever; and if they don’t like it, that’s their problem” approach gets recommended far too often (many times, it’s appropriate… other times, not so much), and there definitely is a cult-like following among the commenters with not even polite dissent being allowed.

    4. fposte*

      It’s a taste thing and a where-you’re-coming-from thing. I run more toward AAM, the old Tomato Nation, Hax, and Ask Polly myself, but CA has been really helpful to me in understanding the POV of a lot of people, especially people facing stuff that I’m not. I think it’s been particularly valuable for people who feel like they don’t get heard or are victims of genuine dysfunction and abuse, situations that in advice columns often don’t go beyond “You should leave” and never explore what it does to you later.

      So I think a lot of the length is because people really don’t feel like they’ve been able to tell this, and they’re storytelling their experience as much as asking a question. (Which happens in all advice columns to some extent, I think, but it’s particularly marked at CA.)

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Will you say more about this? I haven’t seen her say that’s never okay to do; I’ve seen her say that it’s a last resort but she acknowledges that it’s sometimes warranted.

          1. Temperance*

            Of course! I’m a pretty avid Hax reader, and you’re right about her calling it a last resort – it’s just that the way that she applies it is pretty clear that she thinks that it should almost never be done.

            It seems like whenever this comes up, Hax asks the LW if they could cut back on contact and visits, and set boundaries, and then reminds them that cutting off contact completely is a last resort. This is in response to often egregious abuse, overstepping, and/or mental illness and abuse.

            I’m viewing this through the lens of a person who has had to cut off family members, though, so it may be less offensive or hurtful to someone who hasn’t been through it. It’s just that, as a person with toxic parents, who had to cut them off, I hear over and over from people about how it can’t be that bad, how you can set boundaries, etc. … and it doesn’t work like that in real life.

            1. Pennalynn Lott*

              I “broke up” with my mom and went zero communication for a little over six years. It was literally the best thing I could have ever done for myself and for our relationship. And she is the first one that will tell you that. We were horribly, dysfunctionally enmeshed, and after a decade of counseling, all the boundary-drawing in the world on my part couldn’t cut through the multiple levels of her own disorders and dysfunctions. I had to cut her off completely.

              Boundaries came into play after I reconnected with her, and she moved in with me. She tried some of her old tricks to reassert her dominance in the relationship (moving all my furniture around in the middle of the night, without consulting me, for instance), but the skills I’d learned all those years on my own (and finding out that I liked who I was as a person separate from her), helped me set her straight on The Rules of Our New Relationship. Plus, being able to tell her that she needed to play by my [very fair, very respectful] rules or she needed to find a new place to live was kind of awesome. :-)

              1. Temperance*

                I have to say that I’m so impressed that you were able to maintain safe boundaries with her IN YOUR HOME! I don’t even like visitors in my place because of my mother/MIL’s habits to assert dominance. (In defense of MIL, she thinks she’s being helpful when she rearranges my cabinets or does other things in that vein.)

                My mom unfortunately isn’t really getting it. She isn’t willing to budge on my boundaries, so I rarely speak to her.

                1. Pennalynn Lott*

                  Ya know, I think the fact that it is MY home has made it that much easier to define and maintain my boundaries with her. As in, “My home, my space, not yours; and I can kick you out at any time.” I am no longer beholden to her for anything. Not money, not a roof over my head, not approval, not validation, not self-worth. I provide all of those things for myself. So when she tried her usual tricks on me, it was just a bit of annoying noise. It didn’t hit home, because home had. . . moved? solidified? Whatever you want to call it, she couldn’t push my buttons anymore. :-)

                  Plus, the six years’ separation really helped me to define myself in the world, far beyond my relationship with my mom, and I now have no problem whatsoever booting toxic