weekend free-for-all – August 6-7, 2016

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

Book recommendation of the week: The Girls, by Emma Cline. I ended up equally haunted by the almost painfully beautiful writing and the story itself, which is about a teenage girl who drifts into what’s clearly a reimagining of the Manson cult.

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

{ 929 comments… read them below }

  1. Anon City*

    I need opinions if my friend is asking too much of me or if I making a big deal out of this favor.

    My friends and I are going to a large weekend event in our nearby city. One friend (Sara) has to fly in from out of town to reach the event. Sarah asked me and another friend (Megan) if we could pick her up from the airport. We said yes as she planned to get a flight for the night before into Airport A which is 10 minutes from my house. However when she got back to us with her flight information, she was flying into Airport B which is 45 minutes away and it’s the morning of the event. She said there were no flights into airport A for the night before, and the only ones for the morning of were $200 more. Even with this flight change, she still expects me and Megan to pick her up from Airport B. We would have to get up at 4AM or 5 AM, drive two hours there and back to retrieve her and then immediately go to the event, all with no offer on gas money from Sarah.

    Compounded on all this is the fact that, while Sarah is one of my oldest friends, she has always had a problem with transportation and compensation for it. She would often get offended if you ask her for gas money, asking me once why she should give me money to pick her up when she was coming to spend time with me (this was when I planned a party and invited her, to which she asked me to pick her up the middle of my party set up). It is something I’ve known about her for a long time that I don’t confront her on, I just try not to put myself out there as a ride for her. But having to fly in to reach the event, I knew she didn’t have much choice in transportation. Of course, airport travel is in the unwritten contract of friends and family, except she is not in a position to ever return the favor, and the fact that this has been an issue since we reached driving age makes me much less charitable to do what she’s asking.

    Knowing that she’s going to be at the further away airport on the morning of the event, I want to ask Sarah if she can look into using public transportation to get her at least halfway to us. Megan has no problem going to get her that early and that far but she also doesn’t mind asking if Sara could find alternate means of transportation when I brought up the idea. There are buses and subways that could get her closer to us. There’s also taxis and Uber, though Megan said she knows Sarah doesn’t like to use those, which is personal preference as I used Uber this week to get to and from work while my car was in the shop with no trouble. Megan and I would both be willing to put in money towards her getting transport closer to us.

    Would I be a bad friend for asking Sara to look into alternate means of transportation from the further away airport, and even offering money towards it, to spare myself from having to drive so far the morning of the event? Would it be wrong to force her into getting to the event a different way, since she can’t technically force us to come get her?

    TL:DR can I put off my friend’s request to get her from the airport if it was way more hassle than originally thought, and ask her to find her own way?

    1. Colette*

      Yes, absolutely you can. I think it’s fair to say “I’m sorry Sarah, when I said I could pick you up, it was when I thought you were going to be flying into airport A. I won’t be able to pick you up at airport B, but there is a shuttle/subway you can take that will get you to place X, and I can pick you up there.”

      If you think money is an issue for her, you can offer to pay all or part of the transportation, since you’re willing to chip in money.

    2. self employed*

      It sounds like you’re letting past aggravations color this. I think it’s kind of impolite to ask for gas money when picking up a friend who is visiting you (one of your example scenarios). Presumably she didn’t ask you to chip in on her flight. She might be a tightwad but you don’t have to go get her. Let her know it’s too far for the day-of and ask her to find another solution or help her find one. But I wouldn’t let all this stewing emotion fester– it’s not worth it.

      1. Anon City*

        We don’t know the further away airport that well so Megan wants someone to go with her. But Sarah posed the question to both of us as we’re her closest friends in the friend group, thinking we’d keep each other company, whoever was driving.

    3. neverjaunty*

      I think your bigger problem here is not the airport. It’s your relationship with Sara. She expects favors that she doesn’t reciprocate, gets offended when you suggest she does, and treats her visiting you as a big favor.

      Worse, you’re seeing this as wondering whether you even have the right to *ask* her to make other arrangements (which are perfectly reasonable arrangements, Sara just doesn’t like them as much as you running to pick her up) and are musing on the fact that she can’t actually *force* you to do as she wishes as an out. You are asking not just how to make sure she gets to you some other way, but how to “put her off”. I’m guessing because you’re afraid of how she’ll react if you say no?

      TL;DR – you’re not a bad friend, but Sara sure as heck seems to be. And you can absolutely tell her “I can’t pick you up from Airport B but there are lots of cabs and Uber there.”

        1. RKB*

          I grumble when I have to do this for my boyfriend, nevermind someone I have such a tenuous relationship with.

        2. Connie-Lynne*

          I didn’t even ask my mom or husband to get me at the airport at 4am.

          That’s ridic. If Megan wants to go, _alone_, she can go. You, however, are perfectly within your rights to say you were happy to do this the night before at the nearby airport, but cannot do the day of at the far away place.

          Maybe she can spend some of the $200 she saved on alternate transpo.

          1. Evie*

            Boyfriend and I recently went away to visit a friend in another city which has 2 different airports. We were lucky that people were able to give us a lift to and from the airport in City We Were visiting but we hadn’t expected it or asked for it, and we werelooking into other ways to get around (shuttle, bus, train – which is my traditional method of getting to the airport near my home). One decision we made flying there was, “sure (smaller airport which is further from CBD) tickets are cheaper, but what we’ll save in airfare we’ll probably end up paying in time and hassle” so we paid a little more – and didn’t expect anyone else to pail up the slack for is either.

            Also re: friend of OP – although the I’m guessing part of this is part of a larger pattern of behaviour, it might feel that a) she’d have gotten tickets to convenient airport if she’d been faster about booking them, and b) she’s making herself a saving but essentially at the cost of her friends who she didn’t ask about the more troublesome arrangements and without necessarily any repayment of the favor.

        3. Lindsay J*

          Yeah, my boyfriend doesn’t even ask me to do this for him. Anything during sleeping hours (or that would otherwise be an imposition) he either drives and pays for parking, or gets an Uber home.

          The original plan I would have agreed to, but the second the second (further) airport came into play I would have told her that it just wasn’t possible. She could either find a flight into the first airport earlier in the day, pay the $200 more for a flight in that morning, or handle her own transportation from the second airport.

      1. Sydney*

        Yes to this! I had a friend that was like this and it was just too much of me trying to make the friendship fit around her and her issues. You could never bring anything up as she would freak out and I decided it was too much trouble.

      2. INTP*

        Yeah, I had the same thought – that there must be a toxic dynamic, likely created by Sara’s high maintenance-ness and acting like a victim when she doesn’t get her way – for the OP to even question whether she’s in the right here.

        As a reasonable person (well, I try to be), if I book a ticket for an inconvenient time or place to save money, I consider it my own trade off that it might mean I don’t get a ride to/from the airport and have to find another option. I definitely wouldn’t book the ticket without confirming someone could pick me up if I weren’t willing to take a taxi or van or something. You don’t get to save money on your own ticket and expect other people to cover the additional time and money expense.

    4. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      Maybe I have a different perspective because all airpoints are at least an hour from my house, so picking anyone up from the airport is always an ordeal for me. I think your bigger problem is not the airport picking up… it’s that your friend is inconsiderate about your time and gas. Maybe if you don’t feel like you can pick her up, you can tell her “Sorry, I can’t get to the further airport that early. Ask Megan if she can get you.” If Megan is willing to pick her up, problem solved. If she isn’t, then your friend is presumably a grown adult that can figure out transportation even if she doesn’t *want* to. If she complains about the cost of Uber or public transport, perhaps you could (gently) remind her that she saved $200 on her flight by flying in somewhere farther away, so even if an Uber cost her $50+, she’d still come out ahead.

    5. anonnn*

      It’s a request. you are perfectly within your rights to say “no I’m sorry that won’t work for me, here are some alternative ways for you to get there.” If you want to be really nice, you can map out the public transit routes, or estimate the cost of a taxi vs an uber.

      (BTW, though she does sound a bit precious, not willing to use Uber isn’t really something I’d come down hard on a person for–especially a woman travelling alone in a different city. Uber doesn’t have the best safety record, and that’s putting aside any ethical issues someone may have with their business model.)

      This is one of those instances where “no” is a complete answer, and you can divorce yourself from any response or reaction she may have.

    6. A Girl Has No Name*

      1. If Megan is fine with picking her up from Airport B, why do you even need to go?
      2. Whether Megan was fine or not, you should be able to tell Sarah that when you committed to pick-up, it was under the agreement of airport A the night before, not airport B the day of, and that you aren’t able to make it work. Uber or a cab are reasonable alternatives (as you’ve mentioned), so I don’t think you need to feel guilty. I’d just tell her matter-of-factly that you aren’t able to do it, making it clear that it’s not a big deal, it’s not a thing, you’re just not able to and you can cheerily say you’ll see her at the event.

    7. Katie the Fed*

      I have a lot of different thoughts on this situation and relationship. In no particular order:

      1. If Sara has money difficulties, I’d make more of an effort to chip in for a cab for her.
      2. If Megan is willing to do the airport run, I don’t know why this is an issue.
      3. I think it’s strange for adults to ask each other for gas money, especially when someone is visiting you.
      4. Airport runs are a pain. I’ll pick anyone up from DCA, but I wouldn’t even go to BWI to get my own mother.
      5. Sara should have asked you before changing the itinerary and assuming you guys would get her. I think you’re ok to tell her to take a cab.
      6. You guys have bigger issues than just this.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        Most airports also have shuttle services. A Taxi may cost $X, an Uber $Y and the Shuttle $Z. The airport is about an hour from me and picking someone up in rush hour would be insane. I took a shuttle in San Diego and it was about $30, which I thought was reasonable.

      2. Sydney*

        I don’t think it’s so much of a big deal to treat someone who is picking you up from the airport depending on how far away (and the time) it is. Perhaps not $10 for gas exactly but if I was visiting someone and they picked me up from the airport (and it was far away) I would take them out lunch or something. I just feel like it’s good manners. It would depend on the relationship with the person tho I think.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          Usually if I’m visiting someone I take them out to dinner and bring them a gift. But the transactional aspect of asking for gas money when you’re hosting seems a little strange.

          1. BRR*

            Yeah this is what I would do. Thanks for picking me up, let me treat you lunch. I really can’t imagine being so penny for penny with my friends.

            1. chickabiddy*

              Normally I would treat for lunch or something like that. But there have been times when a few gallons of gas to get to work would mean a lot more to me than a fancy sandwich, and if I suspect my friend might be in that position, I’ll make sure that she has gas in her tank. (And probably buy lunch too, but that’s not the point._

          2. Colette*

            Personally, when I’ve focused on things like gas money, it’s because I felt like I was making all the sacrifices without being appreciated. In this case, Anon City’s friend saved $200 by significantly inconveniencing Anon City – she’s now being asked to spend an extra 1.5 hours and probably 1/4 tank of gas. If the friend were genuinely appreciative, apologetic, and eager to take her out for lunch (or equivalent), she’d probably feel differently.

            But I agree the place to focus is not the gas money, it’s on whether she wants to do things for a friend who doesn’t appreciate them.

            1. Sydney*

              That’s exactly it. To me a normal friendship is being appreciative of things people do and treating them back or being there for them in the same way. Some people don’t get that so then it comes down to the concept of gas money.

              1. the gold digger*

                normal friendship is being appreciative of things people do and treating them back

                I was insulted when a work friend tried to give me gas money when I took her from work to pick up her car at the mechanic. I appreciated that she wanted to show she was grateful for the favor, but I told her that this is just something that friends (who are both employed in jobs that pay well) do for each other.

          3. Not So NewReader*

            Actually asking for gas money is not that strange in some relationships. Especially where there is one person making more money than the other person. I find that most people are aware of the income disparity in their relationship and figuring out gas money is just a natural discussion. When I visited my retired aunt, I would take her to dinner and when we went some where together I would fill her gas tank. I had a job, she had retirement income. The conversation went easy, “Auntie, stop some where, I am filling your tank.”

            Another example that I can think of fits this situation to a tee. If I knew a friend was going to substantially more driving to get me so I could save substantially on transportation, I would want to offer that friend something toward gas. It’s because of the friend’s willingness to come get me that I am able to save money on my own transportation. The friend should benefit from my little windfall. And I would say it that way, too. “I had a nice savings because of you, so I want you to enjoy my windfall, also.” Even if I gave my friend $50 in this situation, I am still to the good by $150. It’s a nice deal for me.

            Some relationships do not have the relationship habit of showing consideration in this manner. OP’s is one of those relationships where consideration for basics is not taken into account. I think that is the core problem here, OP. The lack of consideration on her part has become a habit. Now her habit is starting to really cut into things that you are wanting to do.

            I think it’s fine to say this is not doable for you. Unfortunately, you have to use a real life example to set boundaries. It would have been easier to talk it out when there was no pressing matter at hand. Try, try to see her poutiness/attitude for what it really is, it’s manipulation. She is asking for more than you are comfortable doing. It’s fine to say no. Her reaction is on her.

            If you are having trouble finding the words there is a template you can use: “I cannot do X but I am willing to do Y.” Notice, “I cannot”, don’t offer reasons as she will only try to negotiate/argue with you. “Nope. I can’t do it”, is all you need to say when she starts to argue.

            1. Ruffingit*

              This. All of it, but especially this: Try, try to see her poutiness/attitude for what it really is, it’s manipulation. She is asking for more than you are comfortable doing. It’s fine to say no. Her reaction is on her.

            2. Artemesia*

              In this situation where the friends are driving this woman to the event, the gas should be paid for as a matter of course. for example, my book club recently did its annual weekend trip and two of the women drove a couple of hundred miles to haul us to the destination. The other riders all gassed up the car. I can’t imagine leaning on people for a long ride and also expecting them to pay for the gas.

              For an out of town visitor you have invited to your home, then if you pick them up of course it is part of the invitation. The guest should also pay for meals out or make other gestures of appreciation.

              And no one should ever expect to be picked up at the airport of a major city. When we lived in a small southern city we always picked up friends and relatives at the airport because it was a 20 minute no big deal. Now I live in a large northern city and we rarely make the excruciating airport run even for our spouses. They take the train in and a cab.

              1. MsChanandlerBong*

                I have to admit, I giggled at the idea that there are people out there who think 45 minutes one way is a long ride.

      3. Dan*

        Two random side stories:

        1. When my ex and I were dating long distance, I lived and worked near IAD. But tickets from where she was to IAD were damn expensive and I was buying them. BWI was dirt cheap. Yeah, it really took two hours to drive from IAD to BWI during rush hour one evening. Never again.

        2. My ex had family in Ashburn. Once, her sister (said family in Ashburn) bought her brother a ticket to BWI without saying anything to my ex. Then her sister calls her up and says, “Hey, your brother is coming into town and we bought the ticket. Can you pick him up?” This was like the first flight of the morning, so almost as bad as the 4am pickup mentioned above. I looked at my ex and said, “I’m not going, I can’t stop you, but you need to tell your sister this isn’t cool.” (Tickets in that market were really cheap… I would have paid $100 (the ticket price) to not make that drive.)

        It is possible to take public transportation from BWI to IAD. Not the most convenient (but not really terrible either) and I told my ex brother can just take the bus and subway. She says to me, “My family does NOT take the subway. What are you thinking?” Well ok then, have fun getting up at 5am…

        1. zora.dee*

          1. Only two hours!?? That’s not bad, I’ve totally been stuck on that route for over 3. I’m glad it didn’t take you longer, the relationship might not have even made it to the end of that ride! ;o)

          2. There’s also Super Shuttle which was only $40 the last time I took it from BWI. I don’t understand how people are so damn precious they need personal driving service to/from airports. I’m not surprised this is an ex.

          1. Dan*

            Hell, I even made my own parents take the subway once. They live in a market that is served nonstop to DCA but none of the other airports. One day I was talking to dad about flights, and I said, I’ll pick you up, but do NOT book the one that gets in to DC at 5pm. Just don’t.

            So what’s he do? He books that flight. Fine, I told him, but I’m only driving as far as East Falls Church. You still have your metro cards, right? And so they did…

            1. zora.dee*

              Oh, and look at that, they took the subway AND SURVIVED!! Huh, Ex’s-Brother, imagine that…..

            2. jbern*

              I think people who don’t experience DC area traffic on a daily, or even weekly, basis do not understand what a frustrating experience it is to have to pick someone up in a congested part of town. They think you are being precious or selfish or unwelcoming, but just the thought of sitting for an hour or more in traffic spikes my blood pressure. I did it for 5 years. One of the reasons my ex and I broke up was he lived east of Dulles while I live just miles from DC in Northern Virginia. For me to pick someone up anytime near rush hour, it would have to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The Pope calling. My granddad who does not fly but is catching a plane to see me. My boss telling me to pick someone up or else. And in that last case, I might take an entire day to do it.

              1. Ruffingit*

                I hear you on the traffic. I live very close to the international airport in my city so no problem picking people up there. But if they fly into the one that’s a good 50 miles south and offers cheap domestic airfare, ALL THE NOPES. In this city, traffic going to and from that airport would suck and I have no interest in that seeing as how I sit in traffic daily commuting.

          2. INTP*

            I’m with you on #2. I guess I don’t understand why driving people to and from the airport is considered an unspoken mandatory part of the friendship contract given that it’s usually possible to arrange transportation in other ways. If they’re in some city with very little public or private transport and it will cost $200, then yeah, pick people up. But otherwise, I just don’t understand why we need to “support” people by sacrificing sleep and gas to give them cushy private car service when safe, affordable, and time-effective options exist.

            1. Lindsay J*

              I kind of feel like it’s one of those things like moving.

              When you’re in your early 20s and all broke, you do the airport pickup and the moving thing with a pickup truck for a pizza and some beer.

              When you’re older and making decent money, you pay the moving company or the transportation company.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Sometimes it’s just not worth the savings to fly into the cheaper airport. I tried to fly in and out of Lambert in St. Louis to visit my ex when he was in Tennessee, and OMG NEVER AGAIN. Yes, I got to leave my car at my mum’s, but someone had to pick me up and drop me off, and then I had to drive three hours home (one way) after I got back. After flying all damn day. I sucked it up and the next time, I paid the extra $100 to fly out of TinyAirport here.

          1. Amadeo*

            Aw, you didn’t like Lambert? I wasn’t bothered by it at all. Living where I live it’s either them or Nashville though. And Nashville is a little further away. San Jose was where I got barked at by a TSA agent at 4am because I’d forgotten to put my hat in the bin with my other stuff.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I didn’t mind the airport itself–what I didn’t like was driving for three hours, having to ask someone to drive me another hour to get to it, then doing the reverse coming back. Easier to just take a cab to my airport and go from there or park in the lot. They have a cap on parking fees that equals what it costs to take a cab to and from my house.

              1. Ruffingit*

                I will totally pay extra for convenience when traveling. The last thing I want to do after being on an airplane all day is drive for hours.

      4. Stephanie*

        The fixation on the gas money seems a bit petty, imo. Only time I’ve asked for gas money (or for someone to buy a tank of gas) is if it’s like a multi-hour road trip that we both wanted to take. Granted, there might be traffic, but if it’s a 90-minute round trip, I can’t imagine the gas costs are that much unless you’re driving a 70s-era gas guzzler. I just chalk up airport runs as part of the deal with friends and family–they spent the time and effort to fly to me, so least I can do is drive to the airport to pick them up. Now if it is something inconvenient like they’re flying into O’Hare at 4 am and you live right by Midway, you can just say “Hey Sara, I can’t make it there, why do you catch a cab or SuperShuttle and I’ll chip in?” I did this when I landed during rush hour and my friend just gave me some cash for the Uber.

        1. Amadeo*

          You know, I guess I’m pretty accommodating. I rarely ask anyone for gas money (though I’ve had people just hand it to me even though I tried to refuse to take it) for more or less any reason. Like the other commenters, I suspect that there may be more to this issue than the gas and the drive. Is it because your friend changed plans without asking you first and explaining why? Does she tend to just expect you to accommodate instead of exploring other options and then doesn’t reciprocate? What else is going on?

          1. RKB*

            In high school, I was the only one in my friend group with a big enough car to pile everyone in for McDonald’s runs. I also couldn’t drink due to meds I was on, so I was the constant DD. I even DD’d my own grad. With my 7 seater.

            I never once asked anyone for gas money. Sometimes they’d pay for my Starbucks, or parking if we went somewhere with a meter. Otherwise, I was just happy to do it. We had lots of fun times in that car.

            1. Moonsaults*

              I was the driver in high school as well, I was the oldest for the most part and loved driving, I still do. I don’t expected any gas money in those cases as well.

              I’ll give just about anyone a ride and not think twice. However I know that others view driving as expensive, due to the gas issue. That’s another reason I drive, I don’t want to fork over cash to anyone or feel bad for wasting their resources. If I were low on gas, my response would be ‘I’m sorry, I can’t.” and leave it at that.

            2. bkanon*

              In my friend groups, the DD could usually make a killing! Sodas/coffees paid for, and five bucks per rider for gas. If you were like me and had an 80s Buick, so maybe 20-30 passengers :), that was a pretty good deal.

        2. INTP*

          I’ve never asked anyone for gas money, but I can understand how you might start to expect it when there is no chance that the giving of rides will ever be reciprocal. Especially when the ride is a personal favor, as in this case – they aren’t both going to the same destination, the OP is making a trip for Sara’s benefit only. I think it could be said that Sara is being petty herself if she expects to be able to save money by flying into a cheaper airport, at the OP’s expense.

        3. Kms1025*

          I think it’s not a fixation on gas money but a feeling of being used as a free transportation unit and never having any sort of reciprocal effort being made.

    8. Something Clever*

      Your friend is very inconsiderate. You are not out of line to say no or set any limits you wish. She is offloading her own travel expenses onto others by the choices she has made, but you don’t have to go along with this. I would share the names of local shuttle services or recommend uber or lyft and then let her deal with the problem that she made.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, I would be very happy if my friend just explained how to navigate to her house and she left her phone on while she caught a few extra winks. [shrug] Differences in people.

    9. Sydney*

      Yes she’s asking too much. I wouldn’t mind picking up someone at that distance if they offered to take me out for lunch or reimburse for gas in some way and also if the time to pick up was convenient for me. I don’t think it’s part of an unwritten contract – it’s more of a favour! And favours should also be offered not expected.

      Personally I think the cost of travel should include the cost of getting to and from the airport and not relying on other people. I don’t think you should offer to reimburse her the cost of taking a cab or Uber. Lots of airports even have lower cost shuttles to places in the cities. And personal preference on using a cab or Uber or not who cares. Just use it.

      And I also don’t believe in tiptoeing around people who decline to offer to pay their part whether or not they get offended or not. Gas is expensive. It’s one thing if you are going that way already but a special trip? No.

    10. BRR*

      Is Sara really a friend? If a friend was coming to visit I think it’s understood that times may be inconvenient because you can’t control when flights are and what they cost. If I didn’t want to be unconvienced by waking up early it’s probably someone I don’t want to see that much.

      In this situation I don’t understand why gas money is a big deal (if the last paragraph isn’t true). She just bought a plane ticket. How much would be a fair share? $10? $20? It doesn’t seem like such a large amount to get so worked up about. And to make her go half way saves you what, 15 or 20 min?

      I think you feel like Sara is not offering anything but she just bought a plane ticket and air travel is putting in effort on her part. I think it’s either Sara isnt a friend because you don’t seem happy in the least bit that she’s coming or you should take another look at what she is doing to make it this event.

      1. Yup*

        Sara bought a plane ticket, yes, but to attend a joint event — *not* just to visit OP. Therefore (and even if not), Sara is responsible for her own decisions, and it does not fall on OP to pick her up or subsidise her lift into town!

        OP, Sara is asking too much, yes. And yes, you can decline *without offering her money* for the rise. That’s on her. Really!

    11. Alix*

      I’ve been the friend needing a ride, as I can’t drive, and I have to say, from my perspective – Sarah’s being a bit of an ass, and it is absolutely reasonable for you to set limits, up to and including saying no or telling her to work out her own transportation. The fact that you have a car does not entitle me to use it, even if you’re my best friend in all the world.

      My not driving is a huge potential imposition for my friends. The least I can do is offer gas money if they offer me a ride, and honestly, I think it’s rude for Sarah to even assume you’ll pick her up or drive her around. I always ask my friends where we’re meeting up – if they can offer me a ride, they’ll usually tell me then, but if not then we just work out where the best place is, taking into account public transportation/traffic/cab fare/etc. It is, to my mind, absolutely a normal conversation to have with a friend, and you are neither being rude nor making a big deal out of nothing if you start it.

      1. Sydney*

        When I didn’t have a car I always offered gas money. Or since they likely refuse I would take them for lunch/dinner to thank them for giving me rides all the time. It’s still cheaper than cabs.

    12. C Average*

      This whole scenario brings to mind the conversation on one of the AAM threads about Askers and Guessers.

      Sarah is an Asker: “Can you pick me up from the airport? Can you pick me up at a less convenient airport at a less convenient time?” It sounds like she has been an Asker (and a rather high-maintenance one) for the duration of your friendship. And it sounds like you and your other friends have pretty much always said yes. She doesn’t know what a “no” even sounds like from you. Nor do you know how she would react to a “no.”

      You’re more of a Guesser. You don’t want to say, “Hey, can you look into alternate transportation? Because your itinerary isn’t at all what we discussed and it’s not going to work for me.” Not unless you know for an absolute fact that she’ll cheerfully accept this solution.

      So try an experiment and say no this time. Maybe she’ll cheerfully accept it; maybe she’ll howl in protest. But she altered her plans without consulting you, and just assumed you would adapt. You don’t have to. You’re not a bad friend if you do. You would have picked her up at the nearby airport the night before. You said so. Now she’s asking for something different. You don’t have to say yes. Tell her, “That won’t work for me, but you can take a [train/bus/Uber/elephant/rickshaw] to the venue and meet us there.”

      1. neverjaunty*

        Eh, I don’t think is about Ask vs. Guess so much as Sara making it pretty clear that she is not Asking; she is Ordering.

        1. Colette*

          I have a former friend who expected rides (which is why she’s a former friend). I suspect she’s a guesser – I.e. She asked believing the answer would be yes, so when it wasn’t, it was a Big Deal. It’s hard to tell what the friend in this situation is, but it’s something to keep in mind.

    13. FiveWheels*

      I’d say: “Sorry, because you’re not going to my local airport and you land so early, I’d be a wreck if I came to pick you up. Here’s the bus schedule – I’ll get you from the bus station when you arrive.” End of conversation.

    14. Come On Eileen*

      So, I’m realizing that I’m in the minority here, but here’s my opinion – I think you should keep your word and pick her up. You committed to doing so, and yes, she changed a detail or two, but you’re a friend and friends do their best to keep their commitments. I DO think you should use this as information about Sara and think twice before agreeing next time, but it’s kind of lame to back out now. If it helps, think of it as being the bigger person and staying true to your word even though it inconveniences you a bit. And next time – if there is a next time – don’t be so quick to say yes if you honestly think you just don’t want to be the airport pickup friend anymore. It’s okay to decide that, it really is. But decide it moving forward, not retroactively after you’ve already committed this time.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I’d argue, though, that what she committed to was something totally different — a much shorter drive and at a time when she’d already be awake. The changes aren’t minor details; they’re pretty major ones!

        1. Come On Eileen*

          I’d say the changes are neither minor nor major, but somewhere in between. I also think that the friendship and keeping commitments trumps the change of details. Being true to our word, especially to friends, is really important. There are definitely a lot of underlying factors with this friend that need to be addressed – if it were me, I’d be thinking about how much time or effort I wanted to put into this friendship moving forward. But it would be really selfish of me to say I’d help out and then back out because the help now inconveniences me.

          (I will say this – my opinion is definitely colored by the fact that I’m in recovery and working my steps. A big part of this work has been taking an honest look at my own faults and fessing up to them — So I’ve realized at a very personal level where I’ve put my own needs and comfort ahead of others and the damage I’ve done. Still, the same principles hold true for just about everyone. We need to do what we say we will do. Yes, it’s now inconvenient. Do it anyway, because she’s a friend and you said you would.)

          1. Temperance*

            I find i interesting that you’re saying this when the friend pulled a bait-and-switch. I find the friend’s actions to be incredibly and entirely selfish. Sarah should have *asked* again once she decided to catch an early AM flight.

            1. Come On Eileen*

              From the OPs description, it doesn’t sound like it was an intentional bait and switch — not like “hehe, now that they’ve agreed to pick me up, I’m going to find the most inconvenient flight EVER!” Life happens. Circumstances change. We have to be flexible and roll with the punches, especially where friendships are concerned.

              I agree that Sara should have asked again after her flights changed. I personally would have asked, and I personally would be fine with grabbing Uber. But Sara didn’t ask. Is it inconvenient now? Yep. Is it the end of the world or a HUGE deal? In the bigger picture, not really.

              Like I said — totally okay to decide moving forward that I’m not going to bend over backwards for this friend. But I already said I’d pick her up, and I should stick to that. Things come up with friendships that aren’t always convenient.

              1. Connie-Lynne*

                I don’t see where OP is not keeping her commitment. She committed to a 10-min, reasonably-timed, still lets everyone get a good night’s sleep before a big day favor.

                She didn’t commit to a two-hour, outrageously early, no sleep before a big day favor.

              2. Connie-Lynne*

                Oh, and Sara could have ASKED before booking the significantly different flights. No one forced her to make choices that were far more convenient for her but crummier for her friends.

          2. neverjaunty*

            It is awesome that you are working on recovery. But yes, you really are minimizing the enormous difference between what the OP agreed to, and what Sara is now asking for. These are not minor details, and if the issue is the sanctity of keeping one’s word, that should apply just as well to Sara – who is 100% responsible for this change in plans.

            1. Come On Eileen*

              Agree. But I can’t control Sarah’s behavior, I can only control my own. And the best relationships and friendships I’ve had in life don’t have the tit-for-tat element to them — they ebb and flow, with some people needing more help and support at times, and other people being the taker at other times. When that dynamic gets out of balance too far and too often, then perhaps that relationship no longer suits me. But what I don’t like to do is get into “well she did THIS so I’m right in doing THAT!” That kind of attitude doesn’t serve anyone well.

              Moving forward, I’d definitely examine my friendship with Sarah more closely. But in the circumstances in front of me right now, I’d pick her up. I try to choose the option that lets me sleep well and feel content at the end of the day. Your mileage will vary – the option that works for me might not work for you.

              1. BRR*

                “the best relationships and friendships I’ve had in life don’t have the tit-for-tat element to them — they ebb and flow”

                This is where I’m coming from. It’s not ideal but this is well within the realm of what I would do for a friend. Also knowing the event would help as it would give a clearer picture. Any event somebody would fly for (me or a friend) seems like something fun we’re doing together and if I or my friend spent money on a ticket and the hassle of flying I would think the other should do something too. I wouldn’t be on the side of cutting Sara some slack if the OP wasn’t saying she was a friend. I would personally want to do things like this for friends but for someone else I would say take a cab.

              2. neverjaunty*

                I guess we’re reading two entirely different comments; this doesn’t sound like “tit for tat” at all to me, just that the OP agreed to help Sara out in a particular set of circumstances, which Sara changed without making sure would still work for OP. At that point it’s not about being flaky or punishing Sara. It’s the OP controlling her own actions, and deciding she’s allowed to draw boundaries as to how far she’s willing to put herself out for Sara – and it isn’t “breaking her word” to do so.

          3. FiveWheels*

            I value my sleep and it’s vital to my health. Getting up an hour or so early will make me unwell. That night but be the case for OP but to me, expecting her to get up early when that wasn’t what she agreed to its pretty major!

            1. Katie the Fed*

              I had a really big fight with a friend on an issue like this. She was visiting. I live maybe 10 minutes away from a metro stop. I was willing to pick her up and drop her off at the metro station, within reason. She went out one night and I had a very early morning the next day (had to be up at 4:30 for work). I texted her at 9pm that I was going to bed soon and she should metro to the station with the cabs. For whatever reason, she didn’t see my text and went to the station with no cabs, and called me at 11pm and asked me to pick her up. I had a poorer sense of boundaries then, and I was so livid when I picked her up – I was so angry I didn’t really speak on the ride home because if I spoke I’d lose it.

              The next day SHE picked a fight with me about it, and said that I acted really immaturely and giving her the silent treatment when she was out having fun just really ruined her nice evening. I told her that I feel physically sick with less than 6 hours of sleep and she seriously inconvenienced me without even an apology, and I was trying not to lose it at her the night before.

              Our friendship actually never recovered, and I don’t care that much. She was beyond inconsiderate. I might have handled it badly at the moment, but she owed me a serious apology and was incredibly rude.

              1. Salyan*

                FWIW, keeping quiet so you didn’t dump on her doesn’t sound like handling it badly to me. Sounds like you did a stellar job at restraining yourself!

          4. Ask a Manager* Post author

            We need to do what we say we will do.

            But the OP didn’t say she would do this. She agreed to do something totally different. She didn’t agree to wake up at the crack of dawn, and that’s a huge difference for people who rely on getting enough sleep to function the next day. Some people are miserable the next day if they only get a few hours of sleep (I definitely am), and that’s not at all what she agreed to do.

            I can’t imagine asking a friend to wake up at 4 a.m. just because I don’t want to take a cab or Uber. The friend is showing no consideration at all here.

            1. Come On Eileen*

              That’s not how I view it – I view it as she committed to an airport pickup. We don’t have written binding contracts with our friends — I can’t imagine the conversation was “okay, I agree to pick you up but ONLY AT X AIRPORT and ONLY BETWEEN Y AND Z HOURS.” That’s not how friendships work – they are generally more fluid and flexible.

              I’m also a person who highly values sleep and doesn’t function well without it. I’d probably compensate by going to bed early the night before.

              Again, I’m not saying that Sarah is an awesome person. I’d feel put out too. I’d temper my future friendship with her based on the information I’ve been collecting about her. But I’d still pick her up this time, because to me, it’s important to me to keep my word to people I consider friends. I can’t control anyone else’s behavior but my own. At the end of the day, I have to be happy and content with the choices that I make.

              I can see I’m in the minority on this one – Alison, that’s one thing I really love about your page. You have intelligent folks with a wide range of experiences and opinions, and people respect other opinions. It’s an awesome place to hang out :-)

              1. Pennalynn Lott*

                As an example of how different everyone is, my friendships (and my family relationships) are not flexible and fluid enough that a crack-of-dawn pickup at a completely different airport would be seen as an OK thing to spring on someone. Point in fact, if I fly into San Francisco Int’l Airport, my dad will pick me up. If I fly into Oakland or San Jose, I’ll be taking a cab or BART, regardless of time of day.

                And the times I’ve only been able to get a red-eye to see friends, I build cab or shuttle fare into my budget, so they don’t have to get up in the middle of the night (or wee hours of the morning) to pick me up. There’s just no way I would do that to someone. No flipping way.

                I guess I see it as my friendships being so important and dear to me that I want the other person to truly be happy to see me, and I go out of my way to make it as easy on them as possible to spend time with me.

                1. FiveWheels*

                  Yeah, friendship does not mean it’s cool to expect someone to get up in the middle of the night and be exhausted for the next day just because you don’t like public transport.

              2. Connie-Lynne*

                I think you’re making a false level of abstraction here. It wasn’t “airport pickup, regardless!” It was “convenient airport pickup.”

                If Sara could only find a flight into an airport three hours away, would the OP still be obligated by her original commitment to drive six hours? Or what if Sara could only get a flight to the airport she’s going to, but at a time that meant Megan and OP would miss several hours of the event?

                You’re seeing a far broader commitment than OP made.

                1. neverjaunty*

                  Yes, exactly. I don’t understand this argument that OP agreed to “airport pickup” when she in fact agreed to “pickup at this airport at this time”.

              3. another friend of Bill's*

                This might be an issue to to discuss with a sponsor. Program does ask us to examine our side of the street. We may WANT to go above and beyond due to past incidences that had caused harm and make living amends by doing more than the minimum.
                In this situation-
                The friend asked if they could be picked up at the airport ten minutes away.
                I said sure, no problem.
                The friend changed her plan in a more than just a small inconvenient way.
                Picking my friend up at an airport at 4:00 am when there are alternatives like shuttles, taxis and public transportation does not seem to be the original commitment. Also if I could afford it, I would pay for the car service. (or maybe split the cost)
                And remember this is the morning of a big event that I am assuming the OP wishes to enjoy without a day of resentments.

      2. Temperance*

        This is my extremely unpopular opinion, but there is no value in being the “bigger person” when dealing with people like Sarah. They’re takers, and they will always take so long as you let them.

        This is a major difference. Picking her up the night before at a convenient location is vastly different than spending hours in the car, very early in the AM, before a fun event. It’s not a minor inconvenience, it’s a major one.

      3. Oviraptor*

        I see your point and it is good to take the high road/be the bigger person when possible. I prefer to do that if I can. But, looking at this from a different perspective, Sara didn’t keep her side of the deal. She said she was flying in the night before and to a totally different airport. That is important information to have when making a decision. In my opinion, asking to be picked up on a different day at a different airport is a new request. Therefore, it may or may not be accepted. I have no idea what kind of festival this is, but getting up at 4 am and possibly going non-stop all day until the last concert is over at midnight would not work for me.

      4. Mander*

        To me the having to get up ridiculously early to drive way out of my way to pick someone up who changed the plan without asking me isn’t really a detail. And if it were me being expected to get up that early is much more of an imposition than the extra cost.

    15. Artemesia*

      My attitude is colored by the fact that my husband and I don’t even pick each other up at airports generally. It is a giant PITA to have to drive a couple of hours long trip to serve as a personal taxi. I would never expect someone to do this for me and I am not much interested in doing it for others who are not my elderly mother.

      This is major user behavior and the fact that she doesn’t even expect to defray the costs when she expects others to drive her places makes her lack of consideration even grosser.

      I can’t really imagine NOT expecting her to at least get a cab to one of your homes before joining you for the further trip. I’d be quite matter of fact about expecting her to get a cab to meet you. ‘My personal preference is to use friends as jitney services rather than pay my own way or take an uber or cab –‘ Seriously? Really?

    16. AcademiaNut*

      I think that telling Sarah you can’t do an airport run the morning of the event is perfectly reasonable.

      You agreed to do one favour – an evening before pickup at a nearby airport. It’s now changed to a significantly different favour – an early morning pickup at a more distant airport, right before the event. And it’s not like she doesn’t have options – it sounds like there’s public transit, cabs and Uber, and possibly Supershuttle too. Not to mention having booked her ticket early enough to get the flight she wanted….

      In my world, getting up at 4am to pick someone up at the airport is a *major* favour, the kind you ask of close family members, and even then, only if there isn’t a reasonable alternative. Mind you, I spend a lot of time on airport shuttles, subways and buses, getting to and from airports in a variety of countries.

      I can see why you’re frustrated in general, and why gas money has become an issue, if you’ve had years of Sarah expecting rides from you, and not even considering any sort of reciprocity. I don’t have a car, so when I get rides from people, I realize they are doing me a favour that I can’t directly exchange, and I do things like offering gas money, or picking up the bill for lunch, or paying the tolls or parking, in recognition of this.

    17. lle*

      As the friend and family member who moved away from my home town, I’m usually on the other side of this. My loved ones expect me to come visit regularly, and don’t generally visit me. I understand why this is (they’re all in the same place, it’s much more efficient for me and my family to travel back to hometown), but it’s still the case that if we want to see each other I have to get time off work, I’m out several hundred dollars for plane tickets, I’m the one flying overnight or getting up at butt’o’clock to catch a flight and dealing with jetlag, etc. I try to arrive at reasonable times and check that someone can pick me up, but there have definitely been times in my life that a $200 difference in plane tickets would have meant that I wouldn’t have eaten anything besides ramen the month of my trip, or would have meant that I wouldn’t go home at all. I get that it’s annoying to get up early to pick up your friend, but it sounds like she will have been up all night flying and is still willing to come. Maybe that’s the price she’s willing to pay to see you, and maybe picking her up is the price you have to pay if you want to see her.

      It’s possible that you regularly travel to see Sarah where she lives. Or maybe it’s expensive to host her, and gas money is just one small part of it. If that’s the case, it definitely seems reasonable to have a talk with her, next time one of you is planning travel, about what you can do to even out the costs and annoyance of traveling to see each other, picking each other up, hosting each other, etc. If she’s the one always putting in the effort to come to where you live though, and you can afford your part, maybe you could factor in the trouble she’s taking when you decide whether this is worth being annoyed with?

      1. the gold digger*

        My loved ones expect me to come visit regularly

        This is a different situation. In the case of mandatory visits to relatives, I am on the side of the person who expects to be picked up. Primo’s parents expected him there twice a year (we will not go into how I thought this was unreasonable and advocated for telling them once a year and be happy with it). The only airport was 50 miles away. The only airport, not the one cheaper to fly into.

        Sly and Doris (my husband Primo’s parents) not only expected him to pay for two round tickets a year, they also expected him to rent a car, as they did not want to pick him up.

        At least there was a big inheritance when they died.

        Oh. Wait. Nope. Never mind. No inheritance. They really did disinherit him as they had threatened.

        Signed,

        Still ticked off about all of it but at least it is in the past

      2. BRR*

        I’m also usually on the other side too. We visit my in laws much more than they visit us and in general it’s irritating when there’s no effort from the other side. This is why I’m more or less saying you either want someone to visit and put forth some effort or you don’t care about seeing them. Maybe that’s a bit intense but on the rare occasion we fly instead of drive my in laws can’t be bothered to pick us up and we visit them 3 to 4 times for every time they visit us. But they want to see us and my husband wants to see them.

  2. matcha123*

    Any tips to keep my pokemon from running off after I get them in the ball? And is it better power up, then evolve or…?

    1. LisaLee*

      If you get a “nice” or “great” throw that makes them more likely to stay. As you level up you’ll get raspberries and great balls which help you catch higher level Pokemon.

      1. matcha123*

        I’ve been giving raspberries and using the great balls and they still run off. It’s weird cuz I’ll get a level 400 some pokemon with a regular ball and then waste 5 raspberries and a bunch of regular and great balls on a cp 100 something pokemon that runs off. I’m level 19, if that makes any difference.

        1. Connie-Lynne*

          Levels 17 and 18 seem to just have more trouble keeping the little buggers in the balls. If I raspberry AND great ball them, I often still have to try multiple times.

          Which I do, right now, because I NEED STARDUST.

    2. KitCroupier*

      There is a glitch lately that is causing Pokemon to escape way more than they should. (Wasted 10+ pokeballs on a Metapod out of curiosity.) If it’s a Pokemon you want desperately try raspberries and better pokeballs. Otherwise it might be better to wait for another update.

        1. neverjaunty*

          When you’re fighting a Pokemon there’s an Item icon on the bottom of the page. Tap that and it will let you select raspberries or different kinds of Pokeballs.

    3. Willow*

      Evolve first then power up. It costs the same to power up after you evolve so there’s no benefit to powering up first. While you’re collecting candy to evolve you might catch a more powerful version of the Pokémon and evolve that one instead. So you don’t want to waste stardust/candy on a Pokémon you might not evolve anyway.

      1. Connie-Lynne*

        I actually wait until I have enough candy to do all the powering up and evolution at once.

        Excep zubats, which I evolve immediately for the XP, then send them to live with the Professor.

    4. Kay*

      As others have said:

      – raspberries (you can give one raspberry per ball catch; so you can raspberry, catch, escape, raspberry, catch, etc as long as it will hang around)
      – higher value balls (depending on your XP level)
      – “great” or “nice” throws
      – hold down on the ball and watch the circle around the Pokemon. get it as small as you can, and get it into the middle of that circle. the smaller the circle + the more accurate your throw = better chance of catching
      – the color of circle also indicates how difficult it will be to catch, from green to yellow to orange to red

      But yeah – they’ve been escaping AND leaving much more frequently since the update, which is frustrating as heck.

      1. matcha123*

        True, this has happened a bunch since the update. Sometimes pokemon appear on screen and then suddenly disappear as I tap them.
        The runaways are ones that have been sucked into the ball like 5 times before running off…so frustrating! Hope they work something out…

    5. Aythoo*

      Pretty sure the escaping isn’t a glitch, but a deliberate evolution of the game. Making it harder to catch and keep them means you use more pokeballs, using more pokeballs makes you more likely to buy some (with actual money). They need to drive the microtransactions to make their money. It’s sort of the natural progression of free-to-play games. And it’s really just making me try to up my skills… and next up I need to start doing some battles I guess to maybe gather some coins!

      1. Connie-Lynne*

        Battles also give you XP and if you grab a gym, stardust.

        And they are fun! My husband and I battle together. It’s also fun when you suddenly spot another player you didn’t know was around in the arena!

    6. Temperance*

      It’s a bug that Niantic is currently working on. The advice about better balls, raspberries, etc. is good, but the currently ridiculous rate is because of a bug.

    7. Book Person*

      Also learning to throw curveballs can help. Spin your finger around the outside of the Pokéball until it sparkles, then throw it as a curveball (the spin will arc it back toward the circle). You get bonus XP on catching it then, too.

      But, overall, it seems to be a crapshoot. I’ve got 500+ CP on a single throw with a regular or great ball and had escaped/runaway 100- CP Pokemon (that I REALLY WANTED, gah!) on an ultraball with raspberry and “great throw!” combo.

    8. Lady Blerd*

      Agreed with the others, raspberry and if the target circle is yellow or red, a powerball if you have them but even then it depends on the level.

      Still, I have twice run into a 600 CP pidgeot that has pretty much all of my powerballs on Friday and simply gave up as I was on a jog; I use my jogging sesh mostly to hatch eggs and ignore the pokémons who show up unless I’ve never caught it before.

    9. Lindsay J*

      Curve balls. I throw a curve ball almost every time, and I haven’t had the issues other people have been talking about with the pokemon running away more frequently; my catch rate is better than ever honestly.

      Also, if you’re trying to catch them as a passenger in the car, they’re almost always going to run away if you don’t catch them on your first shot. It seems to me that once you exit the little geographic area that they are in, they bolt.

      I haven’t really been powering my pokemon up very much. I power up my top 6 as much as I can (but it takes so much stardust it’s really not very much) but the others I don’t bother with. I figure I will likely catch more powerful specimens as I continue to level up my character so powering up low level pokemon is wasting stardust.

      I do evolve whatever I can. Both because I want to collect them all and because evolving them gives you the biggest XP boost for your character out of almost anything.

  3. The Avocado*

    I really need advice on how to interact with people on a social basis.
    Over the years, people have given me the impression that you shouldn’t be over friendly as it freaks people out. But then…how do you make friends if you’re always holding back?

    I don’t think I know anymore and I don’t know how to fix it. How do people go about making friends? How much sharing is too much? How do you move from polite ‘ok’ responses when asked how you are, to an actual reply?

    1. self employed*

      Maybe you can practice matching others. If you are coming on too strong for some ppl, you may be having a problem reading their cues. If they stay at the “okay” level, take that as your cue to stay in a similar range of topics/depth. If they reveal more personal info, you do the same. But you don’t just go from “good to meet you” to “my skin rash is acting up again.”

    2. Colette*

      Friendly is good, over friendly is not. I’d say friendly means:
      – a positive tone of voice
      – neutral topics (progressing to more intimate topics as you get to know someone over weeks or months)
      – interest in the other person
      – sharing something (not too personal) when asked a question to allow the conversation to grow. So if I say “how are you” and you say “ok”, the conversation stops. If you say, “OK, looking forward to the weekend, you?”, the conversation can continue.
      – allowing the person you’re talking to their personal space, and watching for signs that they want to be somewhere else. I.e. If they say they need to leave, let them.

      And recognize that not everyone will want to be friends with you, often for reasons that have nothing to do with you. And that’s OK, you won’t want to be friends with everyone, either.

    3. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      As someone who is startled by people who are too friendly too fast, I’d agree with matching with them and maybe upping it just a little, gradually. For example, one couple we’re friends with now evolved from a “hi” and smile on passing acquaintance to good friends who babysit for each other. That is a HUGE gap to cross for me. How it worked was we would say hello for months, then occasionally ask how are you, and then when we had a common interest (my dog, their kid), we’d show interest in each others’ obvious interests. And let the other person take the lead a bit in sharing what they want to share and then doing the same. That let us get to the point of play dates and helping each other out.

      Another neighbor, though, on FIRST meeting me, dispensed a lot of advice about kids at a certain age which was totally helpful and then suggested we come over for a play date “anytime!” And that had me going whoa whoa whoa I literally just met you and I know nothing about you. I need to ease into any friendship by getting to know who you are slowly first. Especially with neighbors because I’d like to know if you’re the kind of person I’d like to invite back to my place or not. I don’t want to have to ghost a neighbor if it turns out we have irreconcilable differences.

    4. Cristina in England*

      I think it is much easier to pace yourself when you know you might see someone again, like if it is a class or a group meet up or even a friend of a friend. Then you can just go slow and see how it plays out. If I don’t think I I’ll see someone again I might come off as overly familiar because I am totally relaxed and not worried about whether or not I actually like that person and want a relationship with them, I am just having a good time and enjoying someone’s company while it lasts. This tendency works really well in some situations, like team building events with strangers and random service encounters, but in social settings where I want to make friends with someone then it can be really hard to get it right.

      1. The Avocado*

        I can see that. My natural inclination is just to make friends and chat and share and I kind of hate that I’m squashing that because apparently Noone does that! :(

        This is all great input though, thanks everyone!

      2. C Average*

        Wow, this is so true! I’ve never thought about it. Thank you. This is a really helpful insight.

    5. Dan*

      The key at any given moment is “balance”, not necessarily time. I’ve met people for the first time and hung out all night, it was a lot of fun. There are certainly social norms governing how much you can share in the early stages of a conversation/knowing someone.

      If you find you’re doing more than about 60% of the talking, and that the other person is giving brief answers, you need to excuse yourself.

      Also keep in mind that in the US, “How are you?” and “How are you doing?” are both greetings, and not actual questions. I’m not sure I’ve ever given anybody ever an answer other than “fine, and you?”

      1. Clever Name*

        Yes. This is especially true when you don’t know someone very well. I ask my friends how they’re going and mean it, but it’s different than the passing a coworker in the hallway greeting.

    6. Alix*

      It really, really depends on the person you’re talking to. There’s really no one size fits all social rule here, unfortunately.

      For me, as someone who tends to be either ridiculously introverted or babbling about random crap in my default state, what helps is to mirror the other person’s level of interest and interaction. If the other person’s not really talking or is physically withdrawing, tone it down or back off. If they’re responding in an upbeat way, holding up their part of the conversation, leaning forward, etc. – keep on rocking.

      It honestly helps if you don’t think of this as holding back or being fake. You’re not being fake, and while you aren’t just dumping every thought you have and your whole life history on a random person, that’s not actually a bad thing. You’re just introducing yourself – and presumably you’re interested in the person you’re talking to, so by not flooding them with info you’re also giving them space to get to know you and also to share about themselves.

      “How are you?” is, unless you’re already good friends, not meant to be replied to honestly. It’s just a social phrase. The response is always “Okay, how are you?” or some variant. How much sharing is too much varies, but unless you’re good friends or it’s a specific conversation, things like medical issues are generally off the table. Mirror your interests too – so don’t start unloading all your thoughts on X on someone when X isn’t the theme of the night/topic of conversation.

      How do people go about making friends? Generally, slowly. It’s sometimes a fast process, but in my experience, that’s rare. You’ve got to go from strangers -> acquaintances -> friendly acquaintances -> friends, and even then there are your friends and then your good friends, you know?

    7. Yetanotherjennifer*

      Geography can also play a part. There seems to be an extra layer of reserve in parts of the US. Everyone is perfectly friendly, but there is an extra wall to break through to really build a friendship. In my experience MN and New England have it, and Southern states like TX and KY don’t. Town size and culture also make a difference. City folk tend to be more reserved but some small towns are also fairly cold to outsiders. Places that have a high turnover in residents will be friendlier than those that don’t.

      The thing to remember is these people have gotten along perfectly well without you their whole lives. Unless they are also looking for friendships you are going to have to allow time for you to really get to know each other and also allow time for them to realize you are worth hanging out with.

      Check out books on social skills written for people on the autism spectrum. Please understand, I’m not in any way trying to diagnose you. All sorts of people struggle with this. These books tend to very clearly spell out the unwritten rules of social interaction for people who can’t read social cues and you might find that sort of description helpful.

    8. Gaia*

      I think it helps to think of friendship like platonic dating. You don’t (usually) go from first meet to living together all at once and you shouldn’t with friendships either. You go through stages of getting to know eachother and growing more and more intimate. Some go faster than others because they mutually just click, some go slower and some go nowhere at all

    9. C Average*

      I have no idea what part of the country you’re from, but there are very real regional differences in these things, I’ve found, and being alert to them can be helpful.

      I’m from a part of the country that’s known for being mellow, outgoing, and friendly. I would describe myself, for the most part, as mellow, outgoing, and friendly. (I’m definitely an introvert who needs alone time, but when I’m in a social situation and have my game on, I come across as chatty and extroverted.)

      I’ve found that when I’m in parts of the country where people are more standoffish, it’s helpful to work into the conversation early a small tidbit about where I’m from, to defuse any suspicion or worry on their part.

      I came to this awareness some years back, when I spent a winter in Vermont and worked at Ben & Jerry’s. Being a west coast girl who had worked many years of retail, my instinct was to be very friendly, but I could quickly tell that it was off-putting to New Englanders. So when doing my how-can-I-help-you-how-about-this-weather patter, I’d say something like, “We never got snow like THIS back home in Idaho!” They’d visibly relax: “Oh, she’s not scamming me. She’s just one of those weirdly friendly west coast people.”

      I’ve seen my mom do a similar thing. She’s a writer and she is quite literally interested in everything and everyone, and she’ll be a paragraph into a conversation with a stranger when she’ll check herself and exclaim, “Here I go, interviewing you! I’m sorry. I’m a journalist by training, and there’s just no kill switch on that.”

      tl;dr = if you’re effusive and outgoing by nature and it’s authentic, you don’t have to turn it off (although it’s not a bad thing to be able to tone it down when you can tell it’s unwanted). A self-deprecating nod to your outgoing nature can really help ensure that people don’t get freaked out by it.

      As to how to make friends . . . I’m not going to lie, some people will get freaked out by someone who is outgoing and honest. But a lot of people won’t. Keep being yourself. There will be people who like yourself and want to be friends with yourself. You don’t need a lot of them. Just a few.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Vermont is “close” to me and I find around here that people are LESS uptight if you say you are from some where else. I think it is because families and relationships go back hundreds of years and there is a modified social pecking order. If you are not from these parts then no worries about past relationships and family “social obligations”. This way of thinking is dying out, though.

        Living in this area, I see that transplants hang with other transplants and lifers hang with other lifers. It is changing. It’s helpful to have some understanding of your area and what people gravitate toward. Another example of knowing the area here would be the fire company and rescue squads are big deals. They are a huge social connection but they are also something that most people feel very strongly about supporting. I never saw this where I grew up and there are reasons that stem from being a more rural area.

        Just be you. Don’t pretend to be someone you are not. You want to attract people who like the real you and you will be able to keep their friendship. I find two rules that work, is to be sincere and keep to your word. Don’t tell people you like their coat/car/dog if you don’t. Skip the coat/car/dog topic. If you say you are going to do something, then do it. People will watch to see if you follow through.

        And try to remember that friendship goes both ways, you should be looking at the person and thinking, “Is this a person that I actually want to hang with?” It’s not all about them sizing you up.

      2. Temperance*

        I have to admit that your comment made me giggle. I’m a northeasterner, originally from Scranton and now outside Philly. In Scranton, they are very, very distrustful of outsiders and in Philly, everyone wants to get down to business.

        I tagged along on a business trip to VA Beach, and whenever I bought myself lunch etc. I couldn’t understand why people were so chatty. I was honestly distrustful, like WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME. I wasn’t mean or anything, because I can tone it down, but that’s exactly how I felt.

    10. FiveWheels*

      As a socially awkward Brit, my method is to drink enough with someone until we both do enough embarrassing things that the potential blackmail pile is too big to remember.

      I admit this probably won’t work for everyone.

        1. Blurgle*

          I feel I should qualify this. I live in a part of the world where public drunkenness is part and parcel of a horrific, widely pervasive racist stereotype and as such is extremely harshly stigmatized. Add to that high alcohol prices and it’s not surprising that most people simply don’t drink that much and are deeply uncomfortable with those who do.

          1. FiveWheels*

            Of course! I live in part of the world where heavy drinking is absolutely the norm, and not wanting to partake would come across as strange.

            One of the biggest eye openers to be on this blog is seeing that in the USA in professional environments being “drunk in front of the boss” would be a bad thing.

            Many years ago I watched in horror as a young colleague drunkenly told a total stranger how much he hated his job, not realising the stranger was the Big Boss. On Monday, everyone (including the Big Boss) thought the episode was hilarious. Somehow I don’t think that would fly everywhere…

    11. Temperance*

      Mimic what you see other people doing. It’s really, really regional. A good rule of thumb is to keep interactions surface and take cues from other people.

      There’s a woman who plays a game that I play who is known for being an oversharer, and people avoid her. If you just met someone, don’t talk about your medical problems, financial problems, or family problems. Be positive. This person has a hard time making friends because of how inappropriate she can be.

      1. Lindsay J*

        I think the biggest issue is actually being negative. You can talk about all kinds of things going on in your life as long as they’re positive things.

        Medical problems, financial problems, family problems, are all negative. And by unloading them on other people you’re kind of implicitly asking for a level of support you don’t really have the standing to ask for from someone you just met.

  4. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

    Harry Potter and the Cursed Child –

    What did y’all think?

    1. Lucy Honeychurch*

      I enjoyed reading it. I thought some of the plot twists were a bit ridiculous (especially That One Reveal), and the dialogue was weird at points, but I had a good time being back in that world. I also readily believe that it is much better when on stage.

      1. Some Sort of Management Consulta*

        Pretty much what I thought too!

        I like good theatre though. And this promises to be good theatre even if it’s not a very good play ;)
        I got some tickets on Thursday to see it in August /017..,

      2. Oryx*

        Yeah, that about sums it up.

        I always enjoy stories that deal with, well, the particular adventures that the boys go on so I loved that. But, yeah That One Reveal was strange. The reveal itself wasn’t entirely unbelievable (to me) but the timing of when it was supposed to have originally happened didn’t make much sense.

      1. Seal*

        I agree it would be incredible to see onstage, but thought the dialogue obviously wasn’t written by J.K. Rowling.

    2. Sorgatani*

      I read the whole thing within the space of an evening, which had not happened in a long time. I enjoyed it overall, and I’m glad that all of the characters are still developing – I’m not the same as I was at age 17, so why would they be?
      I am still digesting my thoughts, and will take a slower re-read later. Lent it out to a co-volunteer, because I currently don’t have anybody to discuss it with.

    3. Thelazyb*

      Why doesn’t JKR admit that those two characters are TOTES IN LOVE?!?!?

      I expected the one to be very upset and hurt about the other asking someone else out and it’s highly odd that they didn’t.

      It was beautifully written and all.

      1. Sorgatani*

        I spotted the subtext… I’m usually terrible at spotting subtext so it was a little blatant.
        Anyway, I’ll bet there are fanfics by now.

        1. Thelazyb*

          You know what, that was barely subtext, it was just… text ;)
          I really hope so. They belong together!!

  5. Amy Farrah Fowler*

    I just got The Girls from the Book of the Month Club in July. I can’t wait to read it! I just finished Sleeping Giants and really enjoyed it.

    1. K.*

      The Girls is on my Goodreads “to read” list. I almost bought it the other day but came across something I wanted more. I have a healthy stock of unread books I’m currently working through so I think it’ll be a bit before I get to read it.

    2. Kay*

      The author of Sleeping Giants came to speak at our local bookstore as part of our scifi/fantasy book club there. He was utterly charming. I actually came away liking the book much better after meeting him!

    3. WordFreak*

      I was very eager to read ‘The Girls’ after all the positive, glowing reviews but I was quite disappointed in it, very meh. The group in the book is a fictionalized version of the Manson Family with emphasis on Dennis Wilson’s relationship with Manson. I didn’t find anything deeply enlightening in this fictionalization and didn’t find the writing as exceptional as the critics have.

      A compelling true crime book I recommend is ‘The Wicked Boy’ by Kate Summerscale.

  6. Colette*

    As some of you may remember, I broke my ankle at the end of April. This week, for the first time, I walked down a flight of stairs (alternating feet, instead of always leading with my injured foot). I still have a long way to go, but this is very exciting.

      1. Colette*

        I can’t currently move well enough to be careless – if I’m paying attention and walking properly, every step hurts. But I’ll keep this in mind.

    1. Mimmy*

      Woohoo!

      I’ve never broken any bones (thank goodness) but it sure seems like a process. I have a friend who broke her foot in April (on April Fools Day of all days!) after getting hit by a car. She’s inching along day by day but is always thrilled when she reaches a milestone, such as being discharged from orthopedic care or finishing PT.

    2. Pennalynn Lott*

      I shattered my left ankle in July 2001. I was still in a walking boot in February 2002. And I remember how thrilled I was when I was finally able to fit back into my favorite pair of pumps (and feel safe wearing them). . . in Sept 2002. So, yeah, it’s a looooong process. :-)

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Hopefully, now progress will start to pick up it’s pace. You can put some weight on that foot now, so you are gaining good strength. This is great news. Congrats.

    4. Blurgle*

      I broke my ankle three weeks ago and was feeling rather guilty this morning about “lazing around” with crutches and a boot cast and having to rest all afternoon. Thank you for readjusting my overly self-critical expectations.

      1. Colette*

        It’s a good way to gain patience, I’d say. I found crutches exhausting, and was thrilled when I rented a knee scooter. And then I was thrilled to get rid of it.

    5. Connie-Lynne*

      OMG! I have joint problems and the first proper stairs after a months long episode is such cause for celebration!

      Hurrah for you! Hurrah for recovery! Hurrah for perseverance!

  7. A Girl Has No Name*

    TL/DR:
    The president of our condo association complains about everything we do, watches us constantly, and is making us feel stressed to the max, despite the fact that everything he complains about are things others in the community do, and nothing we do is against the association bylaws. How can we get him to back off?

    The details:
    My husband and I moved into our condo not quite 3 years ago, and from day 1 until now we’ve had problems with the association president. I need some advice on how to handle things. The problems we’ve had include:
    *At the closing, shouting at us that we can’t park in one of parking spots because they were for residents only
    *Before moving in, telling me I was being inconsiderate for hiring a cleaning crew to clean the house because they parked their car in our driveway, and he uses our driveway for extra space for his car
    *While moving in, he walked up to my dad, pointed his finger in my dad’s chest, and told him he needed to hurry up and get the moving van out of there because it was preventing him from using our driveway
    *Since moving in, commented that we should feel grateful because we got our home at good price
    *About a week after moving in, he came over to our house, unannounced and uninvited, pushed past my mom (who was visiting to take care of our son while we unpacked and settled in) and came into our house and said that they are a tight-knit community and don’t want anyone messing up the dynamic (what was he implying? I wasn’t home at the time so I couldn’t push for clarification)
    *Told my husband he shouldn’t teach our son how to ride his bike in front of our home “because it’s not a playground”
    *Told my husband not to wash our car in our driveway, asking “do you see anyone else around here doing that?” (In fact, lots of people in the community do, including his wife)
    *Told my husband his car was “too big for this community”
    *Told my husband his car sticks out too much and no one else has a car that is so big (not true, another resident actually has a work vehicle, I’m not sure if the exact make and model but it basically looks like a Sprinter Van)
    *Got upset with me because we didn’t hire the professional gutter and window cleaners he wanted us to and said we were harming the community by not doing so (we get our windows and gutters cleaned every year, but chose not use this company this year because every other year they’ve done a poor job and this year they raised their prices to $500 so my husband decided to do it himself; along with cleaning the windows and gutters, he also power-washed the whole house and our fence)
    *When our friends came to visit, they drove up our driveway to unload their car and he immediately ran out and started yelling at them that they couldn’t park there (they weren’t going to, they were just unloading their stuff)

    There are more examples that I can’t remember at the moment, but overall we just feel like he’s monitoring us all the time, watching our every move, and nitpicking us to death. Everything he complains about are things most/all others in the community do, and nothing that is prohibited in the bylaws. We are starting to feel like we can’t breath. I just want to make him stop. What do we do???

    1. Adam*

      This guy…sounds like a cartoon. Have you spoken with your neighbors about him? Are you the only one’s he’s harassing? I’m uncertain what level of push-back you can use as I’m not sure how much power the president of an HOA has. While he’s already stepped way over the line (barging into your home! WTF?!?) could he amp it up and take some sort official action? I’ve never been under an HOA so I don’t know how these things work.

      1. Nico M*

        Second thoughts get legal advice.

        Probably there are lawyers with special expertise in dealing with shithead neighbours.

        It all sounds way beyond fixable with scripts and such.

      2. A Girl Has No Name*

        I’ll answer the second question first. According to the bylaws, outside of things like day-to-day operations, he has the power/authority to enforce the bylaws, mostly through fines, but he can also move forward with some sort of eviction (I’m not sure what that process would look like since it’s not necessarily as simple as moving out a renter and getting a new tenant, we’d have to sell the home I guess…?). He also has the power to create new rules/bylaws. So for example, when he said we were harming the community by not getting our gutters cleaned, he said “we may have to make it a requirement for residents instead of just a recommendation…” (hint hint I guess?)

        As to what the other residents say…to be honest it’s not 100% clear. Because this all literally started from day 1, we didn’t want to go to everyone else and be like “what’s up with the jerk???” and risk offending others in case they all got along great with him. So for the first two years we just never brought it up. This past year we’ve gotten a hint from the folks who moved in just before us that he’s been difficult, but we were both on our way out and didn’t have a chance to get into details. The only way we knew is because he rolled his eyes in the direction of the president and then made a comment about not wanting to deal with him regarding the gutters (because apparently they passed on the gutter cleaning as well, we didn’t know until that moment because the president made it seem like we were the only ones who had chosen not to go with the cleaning).

        1. neverjaunty*

          Okay, whoa, first of all, you need to know exactly what the bylaws say and how things work in your subdivision. There is no way in hell you should be subject to an eviction process you don’t know anything about.

          I bet this guy has a lot less power than he would like all of you to think he does.

          Find a lawyer ASAP.

        2. Adam*

          Do you have a good relationship with your other neighbors at this point? Could you approach them about this guy and find out if he bugs them too? If a bunch of you pool you’re collective voices you can make a strong case to the rest of the board.

        3. SL #2*

          There is absolutely no way you can be evicted from a home that you own, is there?!?!? There cannot be any way a 3rd party can force you out of the home you bought and paid for.

          1. Noble*

            Yeah I don’t understand that either – if you own the place. I haven’t purchased a home yet but I swear every time I hear about HOA’s I pray I can find a place where there isn’t one in place. Because no thank you.

            1. Lindsay J*

              Many aren’t that bad. Our home has a HOA, but they’re very hands off. I can’t imagine the circumstances that would cause them to get worked up. Every once in awhile they send a reminder to people if their lawn upkeep is particularly bad but that’s it. The fees are very low, too.

              You only really hear the horror stories because people don’t talk about their HOA if they’re made up of reasonable people.

          2. Temperance*

            The answer is: it depends on state/local law. With condo associations, in your agreement, there will be a pattern of progressive discipline, and eviction usually only comes after a lot of violations and fines. Or if you don’t pay HOA fees.

          3. Lindsay J*

            They can place liens on the home for unpaid fines from violations, and can force foreclosure if the owners can’t/don’t pay the liens.

            (Then the liens need to be paid by the owners, the bank, or the new owners before a purchase can be completed). When boyfriend was buying his house, the transaction was almost blown out at the last minute over a disagreement over who was going to pay off the HOA liens.

          4. Guam Mom*

            It varies by county/state. We had to evict a unit owner from our association last year for years of unpaid HOA fees. It was a 12-month pain in the ass but worth it in the long run. The unit now has a new owner who is prompt in paying fees, is friendly, and contributes regularly building upkeep chores.

    2. Rebecca*

      Just reading your post makes me thankful I live in a rural area, as someone who got up in my business like this, to the point of barging into my home uninvited, would have had a restraining order slapped on him so fast he wouldn’t even see the blur of the paperwork hitting him.

      This guy has boundary issues. This really stuck out “and he uses our driveway for extra space for his car”. It is YOUR driveway, not his. Just because there is a condo association and he is the president does not give him the right to monitor and harass you constantly.

      I am not an attorney, but at this point, I think you need to document these things, tell this guy to either back off and leave you alone, or you will pursue charges of harassment. Perhaps an attorney could write a letter to him warning him to knock it off? Does he do this to other people, or are you the only people in his crosshairs?

    3. A Girl Has No Name*

      For context, the units are not what most folks would typically think of when thinking of condos. These are basically stand-alone mini-homes (there are 7 Colonial-style stand-alone houses, each with two main floors as well as a basement and a garage). The way it works is that each unit owner is responsible for the house (as in the actual physical structure, including the roof), and the association is responsible for the grounds (what they refer to as “common areas”). One caveat is that for things like the front and back porches, the unit owner needs to get permission before making any changes (e.g., painting the railings, or adding a storm door, etc.) – basically, anything that could alter the outward appearance of the unit, and therefore affect the look and feel of the overall community, must be approved by the association first. There is also a small parking lot for residents, 5 spots (and for those paying attention at home, congratulations on noticing that there are 7 units and only 5 spots – two of the homes have extra spaces in front of their units, so those serve as the two “missing” parking spots). Parking spots are first come first served, per the bylaws of the association.

        1. Adam*

          I didn’t understand that either. Is the parking complex narrow so he uses your driveway when he’s backing in and out? The story about him pointing at your dad and telling him to move the van because he couldn’t use your driveway raised my eyebrows.

        2. A Girl Has No Name*

          Technically everyone’s driveway is considered part of the “common areas” (i.e., not attached to the home unit) but it would be completely ridiculous of anyone to use anyone else’s drive because it is obviously distinctly a continuation of that particular unit.

          Before we bought the unit, the previous owner passed away and while the family was in the process of selling the home, I get the impression he got accustomed to using what is now our driveway as additional space to pull into and out of if he wanted to get something out if his garage but didn’t want to park his car in the lot or the street.

          1. neverjaunty*

            Technically everyone’s driveway is considered part of the “common areas” (i.e., not attached to the home unit)

            The fact that it’s not attached to a home unit doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a common area – and if it’s a common area, where does he get off telling people where to park?

          2. Mela*

            …but? It’s been 3 years? And he’s still acting possessive over your driveway? I just think you need to start being super abrupt and lay out your boundaries, start ignoring him, and having your guests ignore him too.

            Come up with your own “Bye Felicia.” Something to say to him that signals you’re done talking to him but isn’t rude. “Have a nice day, Bob.” and then walk away. He comes running up to you? “Have a nice day, Bob” Don’t answer his unrelated questions, just keep repeating your stock phrase over and over again.

          3. BRR*

            I would start by telling him to leave you the f alone. First in a more polite way then probably in those words. I would then consider leavi your cars in his driveway.

            Seconding Alison’s suggestion below of having a lawyer write a letter to the hoa. Or go to a board meeting and bring up that the president is harassing you. This guy wants power. You’re going to have to make it clear he needs to not abuse it or he will lose it.

            1. stevenz*

              Second BRR. This guy can’t be insulted – he’s just a bully. So push back, hard. If he doesn’t back down, get a restraining order. He’s gone way beyond the bounds of normal behavior, even for a HOA president (who are pretty crass in general.)

          4. Temperance*

            You need to get a copy of the HOA agreement and check into this. It sounds … hinky. Also, I think you need to talk to the association and let them know what’s going on.

      1. Mela*

        Please explain the driveway situation more. Is it at all shared? If not, why does he think he can park in your driveway?! How is he thinking he has any right to tell anyone what to do with their own driveway? This is truly confusing me. Have you spoken to the neighbors? Do they get any level of similar treatment? Who were the previous owners? Were they particularly close and he’s bitter about that? Or were they pushovers and he’s been allowed to think for years that this is acceptable behavior?

        I hate to say this, but your family is the only ones people treated like this, is there a chance he’s discriminating against you somehow? Something about you/your family he doesn’t think is acceptable? What about perceptions, even inaccurate ones? Race/ethnicity/etc. I only ask because I had a neighbor who verbally threatened my family and called the police on us because he thought we were Arabic. He overheard my mom and grandmother speaking in their mother tongue, and it sounds very Arabic, but we are white/Christian. We didn’t bother to correct him because we were moving due to other reasons, but it’s something to consider.

        1. A Girl Has No Name*

          We’ve considered this (that there is some underlying motivation), but I didn’t mention it in case I was off base, didn’t want to color the responses (no pun intended) since honestly we don’t know how much trouble, if any, the other tenants get from him.

          We are minorities (I am mixed, most people can’t quite place my race/culture aside from obviously not white; My husband is a first generation immigrant with an accent).
          We are also the youngest family in the community (early 30s so not that young, but relatively speaking).

          1. Canadian Natasha*

            The first thing I thought after reading your story was “This jerk is obviously some kind of bigot!” so I’m thinking your suspicions are spot on here. Especially the multiple comments that have “you aren’t our kind of people” feel to them. Sorry, I don’t have anything new to add advice-wise just another voice to the choir that this dude is clearly abusing his perceived power and waaaay out of line! All the commmiseration to you!

            1. Myrin*

              “This jerk is obviously some kind of bigot!”

              That, and weirdly obsessed with A Girl Has No Name’s driveway!

              1. Canadian Natasha*

                Well hey, if people can have car fetishes why not a driveway fixation?
                He and the neighbours’ driveway have a *special relationship*. Sometimes they go parking together…

          2. Troutwaxer*

            I can’t say for sure that it is a case of discrimination, but it sure sounds that way. Do any of your neighbors have an idea of his motivations?

          3. Observer*

            Oh heavens!

            I replied before I read the thread, which I see was a mistake. There is no way I can see that bigotry is not part of the deal.

            Are either of you ever taken for a member of a group that is stereotypes as “into money”, “cheap” or the like. And are your friends “guilty” of not looking like white-read Americans?

          4. Noble*

            Yeah. So… listen. It’s okay to bring up discrimination when discrimination is likely happening. A lot of people think they need to tip-toe around this but unfortunately this is a real thing that happens in our country (and our world, but I am assuming you are in the US) I notice the ones the most uncomfortable discussing it are those who aren’t directly affected by it, but you don’t need to hand-hold anyone when you are going through something very real that IS affecting you.

            That being said, without further information, this was one of the first things that jumped out to me: you were a minority, or a younger family, or had children when no one else did, or a combination of these things and it seems I was right. I don’t know if this is WHY this guy is picking on your family, but I wouldn’t find it to be far-fetched if it were.

            You can no longer be passive about this behavior. It needs to stop NOW and you all need to voice this firmly. You can be gracious and polite (for lack of a better word) about it, but you need to stand firm. Don’t let this man bully you with some power-trip. He probably doesn’t have as much power as he’s led you to believe.

            Read your by-laws, I don’t think “harassing the new neighbors” is part of his duties as president. best of luck.

            1. Mela*

              All this. If it makes you feel more comfortable to be a bit more sure before proceeding, talk to a few neighbors who are in your other demographics (younger, white families with kids). Share with them a “wild, funny” anecdote about JerkFace and ask quizzically if they’d ever seen that kind of thing from him. Their reactions will let you know if it’s “Oh Bob, that old kook!” or “Whaaaat? He *said* that to you??” If they seem particularly horrified/empathetic, you can say something like, “Yea, it’s so weird, he’s been saying that kind of thing to us since we moved here. At first I thought he was a kooky old man, but I have to wonder if he doesn’t like us for some reason.” You can get more specific and use phrases like “I feel like he’s harassing us because my husband is from Country” or “because we’re not white,” keeping in mind that your main priority is to suss out their thoughts on the matter. It’s a bonus if they’re horrified on your behalf, but your goal is to make sure other neighbors aren’t being treated similarly, because even if Neighbor John doesn’t think it’s discrimination, you have your answer if he says he knows of 3 other white families with young kids riding their bike outside who love JerkFace Bob…With that info you can proceed with above advice with shut-downs and letters from lawyers, and this time you can add “discrimination based on race/ethnicity/national origin.

              I’m going to repeat what Noble said….it’s okay to bring up discrimination when discrimination is likely happening. My family didn’t have the choice to “fight back” because our neighbor’s wife’s father was the chief of police in a nearby city, so she coughed and the police showed up, ready to knock down doors on her behalf. You have a legal relationship with this person, as well as a personal one. You’ve given it 3 years, the personal relationship isn’t going to flourish so feel free to stand up for yourself.

        1. Mephyle*

          As far as I can see, it is a condo because there are common areas that are owned by the condominium corporation.

    4. Katie the Fed*

      Oh, HOA and Condo association power trips are the worst.

      I think it’s time to set some clear boundaries. If he’s still parking in your driveway, tell him that needs to stop. If he continues, have him towed. Tell him you will use your driveway as you see fit and he is not to yell at anyone who has your permission to use it.

      If he walks in your house again, tell him he’s trespassing and you will call the police if he does it again. I know it’s escalatory, but he’s not respecting boundaries.

    5. MillersSpring*

      Each time he complains, reply with a standard script, “This is another complaint from you for something that isn’t against the bylaws. We want to enjoy our home, so we’ll need to agree to disagree on this point. Excuse me, I’m going back to my house/my son/my guests.”

    6. neverjaunty*

      ” and he uses our driveway for extra space for his car” – What? You don’t have to permit this.

      First, stop assuming you have to answer to him. He doesn’t have the right to enforce any of the stupid stuff he’s yelling at you about. Do not respond to him. Do not engage him; when he’s just flapping his mouth, IGNORE HIM. Smile vaguely and get back to what you were doing.

      When he’s trespassing on your driveway, harassing your guests, or pushing his way into your home (?!?!?), then it’s time to be firm. “Please leave immediately. This is my driveway/home/lawn and you need to leave now.” “It won’t be possible for you to park in our driveway any more.”

      And yes, you should talk to a lawyer with experience in HOA and neighbor disputes, because you are probably going to have to make police reports about this glass bowl. FORCING HIS WAY INTO YOUR HOME?!

    7. Dynamic Beige*

      Do you have a copy of this Home Association Agreement? There is probably something in there about elections/nominations etc. Odds are you drew the short straw because he’s your neighbour but there may be other people in the community who would love to see him out.

      Otherwise, copies with a highlighter may be what you need. He says you can’t wash your car in the driveway? Well section 5, paragraph 21, subsection 7.5 says… Please refer to the highlighted portions. Also, you might try speaking to his wife next time you see her out washing her car in the driveway. “Hi Mildred, nice day to wash your car! I was wondering about that, you see, your husband has repeatedly told me that I am not allowed to wash my car in this driveway and I don’t understand why…”

      Also, just because he’s got an extra car doesn’t mean he’s entitled to your driveway. WTAF.

      *fervently wishes to never wind up in one of these places*

      1. Oviraptor*

        Or when the wife is washing her car in the driveway, wash yours. How can he tell you that you aren’t allowed to wash yours but his wife is allowed to. Although I guess he could claim they are grandfathered in to some exception to car washing. Ugh. **I realize that it is not convenient to wash your car when the neighbor washes hers. But, I will admit, I would be the one to totally try to do this. Just because…I would find it amusing. And I would want to see what he would do.**

    8. Ask a Manager* Post author

      There should be an entire board of directors for the HOA, right? He’s the president of the board but there are other members? I’d seriously think about having a lawyer draft a letter to the board explaining that you’re being harassed and denied peaceful enjoyment of your home and asking them to call this guy off.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Petty HOA officials are notorious for making up stuff about what they bylaws say and allow them to do.

        I’m involuntarily backing away at the idea that this guy supposedly can evict people from homes they own, who don’t know if or how that process works.

      2. Gene*

        Yes, get a lawyer to draft a letter to the Board specifically citing the Fair Housing Act of 1968. That will throw a huge wrench into his works, and if it doesn’t, you’ve started a paper trail.

        And start parking your car in such a manner that makes it impossible for him to use your driveway.

    9. blackcat*

      Are there elections? And do you have a neighbor who would be an awesome HOA president? If so, encourage them to run!

      Otherwise, figure out what it would take to move. I’ve seen power hungry HOA folks totally destroy friends’ quality of life. The easiest solution is often to sell… which is certainly not easy.

    10. Dan*

      I assume you’ve read your HOA bylaws? To get this guy to stop, you’ll either have to vote him out, or take some sort of legal action. If he barged into your house without permission, that’s trespassing on a good day. It could actually be a stronger offense.

      So yes, lawyer up, with an expert on HOA.

    11. A Girl Has No Name*

      Just going to answer a couple of questions that have come up in one post:
      · They call it a Condo Association vs HOA because no one owns the actual property (the grounds), just the unit. And technically we don’t own the whole unit structure, just the inside (the only exception is that if the roof needs replacing for normal wear and tear the unit owner is responsible).
      · I have a copy of the condo association agreement, including the bylaws, and in fact refer to them often because we’ve gotten to the point where before we do anything we want to make sure it’s not against the bylaws.
      · In the agreement, the eviction process is noted as basically a nuclear option after tenants have violated various terms, etc.
      · He is the president of the board, but yes there are other members (treasurer, secretary). I need to go back and re-read that section to see exactly what the process is.
      · I have sent a firmly worded but polite and appropriate email telling him to stop, that was when we first moved in. And since then we’ve generally employed the approach of a somewhat quizzical look along with ‘we’ll give that some thought’ or ‘what do you mean by that?’ Or simply ignoring him. The problem is that it hasn’t gotten him to stop, and it has affected our ability to just be…just live…in our own home. I’ve been considering getting a lawyer to write a cease and desist but wanted to post here (or somewhere, anywhere) as a gut check that I wasn’t overreacting. This post is the first time I’ve listed everything out in one place and I’m realizing I’ve been gaslighting myself about the whole thing (telling myself it’s not as bad as it actually is now that I see it all in one place and am realizing everything we’re doing to overcompensate for this man’s behavior).
      · Alison’s recommended wording for the lawyer is exactly what I think we need to do…

      1. Dan*

        Thanks for the info. And just in case it wasn’t clear, you’re not overreacting — quite the opposite, this has gone on far too long. This place is supposed to be your haven.

        1. Jessica (tc)*

          I agree with this.

          We had a neighbor in an apartment complex who complained about everything she disagreed with. The building management would always tell us to our face to ignore her and that they agreed with us, but then we’d get notices stuffed under our door a few days or weeks later about stopping whatever the woman was complaining about. She had it in for us for some reason (she even wrote “anonymous” notes and stuffed them in our garage door–we knew it was her, because her garage was next to ours. We quickly asked to have our garage moved to get away from her knowing where we parked, so she escalated to complaining to management all the time), so this happened more than once.

          We finally just moved to get away from her, because it was NOT relaxing to be anywhere in the complex due to her behavior and complaining about everything we did. Of course, we were just living in an apartment, so that was easier for us than it would be for you. The maintenance crew, however, asked us if we were moving “because of her.” We just said we were tired of being told one thing by management only to find notes under our door telling us we were violating lease requirements a few days later (when we absolutely were not).

          Because you do have the association, I’d look into the option you mentioned of complaining to them about the harassment. This is ridiculous, and you should be able to relax and enjoy your own home without reading the bylaws every time you want to blow your nose!

      2. Adam*

        You are most definitely not overreacting. This tool is a bully that is violating your personal space when you’ve broken no rules except the ones in his head.

      3. Dynamic Beige*

        Honestly, when I first read it, I wondered what exactly was his problem with you because it was just so bizarre… and thought it had something to do with race/ethnicity because that was the only thing that made some form of sense (in an awful way) but being the youngest family on the block also “works”. This guy must have some sort of bigotry going on, combined with the you’re the only family with small children.

        Some people, when they get to a certain age, don’t want the noise of young kids around. We once rented a place in Florida that was full of nothing but old people. Old people who liked it quiet. Old people who didn’t want children under the age of 21 around them and even then for short amounts of time. Running, talking too loud, horseplay in the pool (which was pretty much anything over a sedate breaststroke), we were reported for. So there might be some of that as well, that he’s weirdly focused on running over a kid’s bike left out/other things that go with being kids.

        No matter what the reason, it’s apparent that being President has gone to his head (which sounds weirdly familiar somehow… but I bet he’s less orange). It’s time he step down, get over it or move out. He’s not the King of the Complex and he doesn’t get to play dictator over his own banana republic.

      4. neverjaunty*

        This is sounding like you don’t actually own the house, but are part of some kind of a tenancy in common or membership in an association that actually owns the property? Absolutely, you need a lawyer ASAP and you want one with expertise in dealing with homeowner associations and property disputes.

        1. A Girl Has No Name*

          We had a lawyer during the purchase of the unit. She read through all the paperwork and agreements and bylaws, as did the Insurance company (as did my husband and I). Based on what they told us, pretty much everything is typical of a condo agreement; however, the biggest difference being the roof. We have condo insurance, which is what is required of all residents. The association maintains insurance for the property, which includes the outside/frame of each unit. So we own the unit in the same way someone who owns a condo in a highrise, for example, owns their unit. They don’t own the building, but they own “walls in”. And similarly, they have no responsibility for maintaining the grounds, outside of the condo association dues they’d pay (I should have clarified earlier that we pay monthly condo dues, which pays for general maintenance and upkeep of the grounds, as well as one-off things like repaving the driveways and parking lots, or seasonal things like snow-plowing).

      5. Moonsaults*

        The first post I got the sense that he’s after you for a reason due to bigotry, even if you were just a young couple, that’s a huge issue for some scumbags out there.

        My family lived in a trailer park when I was born, it had a nice little section for “families” even. However they decided to swap it to 55 and older. They somehow got 99% of the families to sign a new contract and thus become ineligible to live there any longer. Then there was a my dad, who knew what was going on and was like ‘Nah I’ll keep my old contract, that’s good and still allows my family to say here.” I lived there for the first 12 years of my life and my brother until he was 17. The punk-ass power tripping management tried everything to get us to trip up, including harassing my teenage brother at the time when he’d be home alone until my mom found out and went to HUD about their asses.

        This is why there are laws that will squash a hateful pile of garbage that climbed into a top spot in an association to try to weed out his neighbors who look like he wants them to.

        Best of luck on everything and I’m incredibly sorry that you cannot peacefully enjoy your home that I’m sure is beautiful outside of this nutjob.

      6. animaniactoo*

        Fwiw, I live in a co-op and had a board/neighbor issue. My neighbor isn’t on the board, but she sure tried to leverage them to make my problems for my life.

        One of the things that I ended up doing which may be relevant to you was to go to all my other surrounding neighbors (including the floors above and to the side of her below me, I was thorough) and asked them if they had the problems with me that she was indicating, and then asked if they’d be willing to sign a letter to that effect when they said “huh? no” to the list of her complaints.

        In your case, I’d suggest casually following up with the other neighbors on what gutter service they use, etc. and creating a detailed list. Just as ammo so that you can be clear about what you’re being told that may be different from what others are hearing/doing.

        In my case, I used those letters to write my own letter and answer the board’s sending me a letter threatening eviction based on her complaints. Noting not just some specific incidences, but the extreme ridiculousness of the logic of her complaints and that if I had to sue my neighbor for harassment I was going to name them in the suit for failing to properly investigate her complaints and becoming party to my harassment. I never heard back from them – I’ve also never heard another peep out of her.

        For your amusement, some of the instances:

        • Called cops because we had a friend over playing Scrabble at 10:30 pm on a Saturday night (this was a problem for her because she uses her living room as a second bedroom and having people up and down walking around was keeping her awake). It was the 2nd time she’d called them on us after we stopped giving her any audience over her ridiculous expectation that we had to live in her apartment according to how she was using hers.
        • Her bf came charging up the stairs at 5 pm on Saturday to bang on our door and demand what the noise coming from our apartment was (my husband said “I’m vacuuming” and shut the door in his face).
        • My husband was working early hours, he was up and getting dressed and moving around in the living room. He knocked an empty glass off the coffee table to drop a whole 2 feet onto a carpeted floor. They banged on the ceiling.
        • Tried to claim that my husband (then fiancé) and his (now our) kids were illegal residents (Uh, no. All the board members had met all of them, and knew who they were – so did she. Perfectly legal, but I had to write an official notification of additional residents to take care of that part.)

        GL, I suspect you’ll have more support than you realize once you start reaching out to your other neighbors.

    12. Oh Fed*

      Former owner of a property management company here! My company would act as the agent for HOAs to collect fees, negotiate and oversee contracts, enforce rules. Board members like your neighbors contributed to my eventual distaste for the business and such developments. The president’s powers are most certainly more limited than what he is exercising and you should definitely study them. Secondly, with only 7 units and the three board positions you mentioned, this is a set-up for power struggles. Guys like your neighbor who seems to be someone who wants to exercise power and control, flock to board positions and often become little tyrants. Occasionally attending a board meeting may not be a bad idea.
      Also, sounds like this guy is your next door neighbor and even though his behavior sounds hideous, I would not recommend some of the more aggressive options suggested by some here. Do not ever trespass on his property or driveway, do not ever yell, point your finger or touch your neighbor in any way. I would only call the police as a close to last resort. A property we managed had a similar situation escalate to the point of a single punch thrown by the original victim of months of bullying by the aggressor. Unfortunately lots of nosy neighbors had seen the argument they had the day before where the true victim lost his cool and yelled then tapped the guy on the chest and those witnesses made him out to be the aggressor. This resulted in both criminal and civil issues for that person who actually was the true victim.
      All that being said, I don’t live in a development at all and have lived next to a guy like your neighbor for the last 10+ years so I feel your pain. The day we moved, in he tried to intimidate my husband; his wife and mother in law have walked into my home uninvited and he into our gated back yard etc. We also were nice for a year or so but when our neighbor cursed and swore loudly while we had company in our back yard, my husband went nose to nose with him. 10 years later I just smile and wave from a far distance, our teenage kids are super pleasant and respectful but whenever that guy comes over to complain about some ridiculous infraction, my husband is very badass with him and just shuts it down. “No we’re not going to tell Cal to cut the grass straighter, he is a kid. Go back home Fred” or “Sure, I’ll tell Brian not too have his music too loud. Bye Fred” or “Don’t be ridiculous, I’m not telling my wife to plant pink flowers, she’ll plant whatever she wants. Bye Fred, we’re done” . I don’t think he has even been over to our house for the last 2 years.
      We don’t want to hear his reasons or opinions, we don’t ever argue or debate anything, don’t care about his feelings or motives. Oh..one last thing, everyone in your development knows and either hate this guy or are scared of him. You may not have to depose him from his position, his power comes only from the fact that people permit him to have it. Don’t give it to him.

    13. Observer*

      Are you in the same demographic as most of the community, or of the association president? The whole thing really smells of prejudice. Yes, by buying the house you slightly inconvenienced him, and that could be the whole issue. But the other stuff sounds very much like someone who is seeing you, or trying to cast you, as the “outsider who doesn’t fit in and won’t even try.”

      1. TL -*

        And I get the impression that he doesn’t want them to be visible in the neighborhood. HOAs can serve as covers for a lot of racism and classism and this sounds like that to me.

    14. Noble*

      Curious why he thinks your driveway is his property? Why can’t your guests park in your driveway?

      Also, is there anything standing out about you that this guy could be targeting? Having children when mostly no one else does? Being different culturally? Is your family younger or larger than other families? Just curious what this guys motives are.

      Also, none of what he does is okay and it feels like you’re afraid because of the HOA and that he uses that power dynamic to be intrusive and controlling. But he is harassing you, and no HOA or bylaws can protect him from that. Get a lawyer. He needs to BACK OFF. Don’t be passive about this.

      What he is doing is NOT okay and he needs to be plainly told that. He doesn’t get to have free-reign over the community just because he managed to become the board president. I’m going to read the rest of the comments in the thread now.

    15. Rey*

      I just wanted to say that I’m so sorry you and your family are going through this. It sounds awful. You are absolutely not overreacting at all, in any way.

      I also wanted to second the advice to contact a lawyer and reinforce Oh Fed’s point that, no matter how good it might feel to imagine yelling at this guy and treating him the way he treats you, you are best served by keeping your cool, responding professionally, and remaining entirely and visibly in the right. It is by far the more difficult course. It will probably feel horrible sometimes–like you’re losing or giving up. But it is so, so important that you withhold ammunition from him. He *wants* a legitimate complaint to bring against you. He wants it so badly that a stranger on the internet can see it. Your power in this situation comes from depriving him of that, by refusing to play his game, or even to acknowledge that the game exists (outside of appropriate legal action as advised by your lawyer).

      I hope you find some resolution for this soon. You deserve to enjoy your new home and to be treated with respect. Best wishes. <3

    16. Anne (with an "e")*

      I just wanted to say that I am so sorry this is happening to you. One thing I might do is document other residents doing the very things that he seems to have a problem with your family doing. For example, he seems to have a problem with your family washing your cars in the driveway. For now on photograph anyone else who does that with time and date. He seems to think your husband’s car is too big for the community. Well, photograph the other, larger vehicle that is parked in your neighbor’s driveway. Document the dates and times the vehicle is there. If one of your neighbors has a child riding bikes in front of their house, then document it. Document everything. You say he accuses you and your husband of doing things that aren’t against any rules and that others are also doing. Get proof. Document everything. I know it sounds time consuming and crazy, but it also sounds like you are dealing with an unbalanced person with a lot of time on his hands. You might need this documentation at some point in the future because he may be documenting his conversations with you.

    17. A Girl Has No Name*

      Hi everyone. Thanks for all the comments, advice, and general outrage on our behalf. A couple of follow-ups:
      · Based on everyone’s skepticism about the “eviction” process, I went back and re-read the bylaws. And you guys were right (mostly). There isn’t a true eviction process – I think I had just evolved it into that in my head. In actuality, it’s a process for instituting a lien that can eventually result in foreclosure for nonpayment. The lien would be issued against the home only after multiple fines had been issued for violations of the bylaws, each day that the violation isn’t address is considered a new violation with a new fine. So that is good news because the EB is required to issue written notice of any violations before fines can be levied, etc.
      · We will be taking the advice here (not necessarily the use of his drive, but there is a lot of good advice here that we’ll be employing)
      · It’s helpful to hear that others are also seeing some sort bigotry or prejudice in this guy’s behavior. Whether we “go there” or not in any sort of formal response, it does help to hear that we likely aren’t projecting. Other examples I didn’t include earlier were him asking my husband when we first moved in “do you have a job?” and commenting to me about a month ago that looking at our backyard (not technically our property, but the area behind our unit) compared to our neighbor’s was like “looking at the haves and the have-nots” (because we haven’t yet decorated/put out furniture – frankly, with a toddler and preschooler, our focus of the backyard is mostly children’s toys, not a dining and entertainment set).

      1. Meredith*

        What a jackass. Glad you’re feeling like you have more control over the situation. I hope you are able to start enjoying your home soon!

      2. Lady Blerd*

        I wanted to ask you if your local despot was Taylor Doose from Gilmore Girls but he takes it to another level. I feel so happy that my condo association has no such drama.

      3. Gene*

        Whether we “go there” or not in any sort of formal response,

        I know it may be difficult, but IMO you need to “go there” in the first letter from your lawyer to the board. It doesn’t matter (and you don’t know) what’s in his mind, it gives the appearance of discrimination. HUD enforcement, while rare, is a huge threat to any condo board.

        I work as an environmental regulator, and our biggest stick, should it become necessary, is referring a company to EPA Enforcement. In my 35 years doing this, I’ve only done it twice; it was nuclear in each case. Both companies out of business, one operator did Federal prison time.

        One more thing, start documenting all interactions with him. Your goal is to show a pattern in his behavior.

    18. anon (the other one)*

      You say this guy was at your closing shouting at you about a parking space? There is no way a Board member of an HOA or condo community has a right to be at a closing. Read your docs, and any condo law in your state. Do you attend Board meetings? You should be doing so if you want to meet your neighbors and get a read on how much actual power this individual has.
      Depending on the state, you can be evicted. In Illinois, it is for non-payment and the Association can take over a unit by means of forcible detainer.
      I have lived in a condo for 11 years and served on the Board as both President and Treasurer. I don’t think you have a condo problem, you have a neighbor problem. If you can actually DOCUMENT the harassment, I would have a lawyer send a cease and desist letter. They can be very effective.

  8. Gene*

    I am doing the final 6 inches of handwork on the Worldcon costume now. Had to stop to rest my eyes and fingers. My man fingers are too big, but it’s ALMOST finished! This week has been finishing the accessories, including a redesign of one.

    And watching Women’s Handball. Could Brazil upset Norway?

    1. Susan C.*

      How can you possibly post this without saying WHAT you’re cosplaying? Inquiring minds need to know!

    2. Gene*

      It’s finished!!!!!

      For the first time, I put the whole thing on and it’s even comfortable enough to wear that it could be used for a hall costume. Took a couple of photos and it’s packed for travel (except the main part is on a hanger – satin and wrinkles…)

      My wife has to stop taking pictures so she could stop laughing enough to not take blurry photos. The masquerade may be live streamed, I’ll find out and ask Alison for special dispensation to post on the Friday open thread with time and location if it will be.

      1. Gene*

        To be clear, the masquerade is the evening of the 19th. I actually finished a week before I leave. I’ll post on that day’s open thread one way or the other.

      2. Gene*

        I checked. The masquerade will NOT be live streamed.

        Too difficult to get rights to ask music that might be used. Sorry, I’ll post links to photos.

    1. Bex*

      My uncle swear by it. My husband haaaaates taking any medicine, even Advil, so when he had sciatica I would make tea from tumeric and ginger. He said it helped. I’ve been meaning to try it myself! I kind of figure that it can’t hurt, so it’s worth trying. Near me, Whole Foods carries fresh tumeric and it’s actually pretty cheap.

      That recipe actually looks pretty complicated…. I just steep thin sliced ginger and tumeric in almost-simmering water for about 20 mins, then strain and sweeten with a tiny bit of honey

      1. Adam*

        The recipe I actually use isn’t very complicated. I’ve been using jarred spices so it only takes about five minutes to make. :)

        I’ve only done it three nights in a row, so all I can really comment on is the taste which I actually don’t mind!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Not experienced with turmeric, but anything pungent like that usually has healthful properties such as immune system boosters. If your knees are having problems because of inflammation due to bacteria, etc the pungent stuff can help kill off the bad bugs.

      I am not a fan of milk because of allergies and my bias there is I can see where milk can cause some people more problems not less. I feel a responsibility to say that, you might be fine with milk and totally ignore this part here.

      I have a friend who swears by celery for achy joints. So my thought would be to put some turmeric and celery in a juicer and down that. Measure out the turmeric so you know how much you are using.

      My one caution is if you are going to work with herbs/spices understand that when it works, that the garbage stuff needs to come out of you. If you are not drinking plenty of water every day, you could end up feeling worse. Happily, increasing your water intake will also help with pain levels.

      I have been doing a lot of alternative stuff for years. One thing I am seeing now is that just making sure I drink proper amounts of water everyday seems to help with “aging pain”. I never noticed this so much in my younger years.

    3. Violet_04*

      I’ve been taking turmeric in pill form. Sundown brand to be exact. I haven’t been taking it long enough to notice a difference. I think diet can also help with inflammation issues. I have read about people having good luck with the Whole 30. With some people, cutting out grains and legumes seems to help. No personal experience with this though, just passing along what I’ve read.

    4. Lemon Zinger*

      If you’re still checking this thread– YES, I really benefited from turmeric milk when I was dealing with the aftershock of a car accident. It was extremely calming and helped with my headache and neck/back injuries. I want to point out that your recipe says to use low-fat milk, and I strongly disagree with that advice. Full-fat dairy has many health benefits, especially since you’re avoiding inflammation. Otherwise the recipe looks similar to what I do.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I was just thinking of her but could not remember her screen name. I am glad you posted this.

      Alligator, if you see this, please, let us hear from you. We still think of you.

    2. Blue Anne*

      When I was still in Scotland I was texting with her a little bit, but she stopped answering. I’m worried about her.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Aww. Thanks for letting us know, though. My good wishes go out to her wherever she may be.

  9. Mela*

    Credit Report Dispute Question (US)

    In 2011, my husband was suddenly made aware that he had been in collections for 11 months on a student loan he had. This confused him greatly, as his monthly payment had been faithfully auto-deducted from his account the entire time. When he called to sort the situation out, he realized what had happened.

    He had 2 loans from the same lender. One was for say $250/month and another was for $100/month. The lender had been auto-deducting $350/month from his account, but was applying $350 to his $250 loan and $0 to his 100/month loan. So he was overpaying one and not paying anything on the other. He fixed the issue, and began making separate payments. He was furious at the time, because he had set up his auto-deductions over the phone with a CSR, so obviously that person made the mistake. But a year later, he had no idea who he spoke to, didn’t remember any details, was just starting a brand new job, and didn’t have any plans to make big purchases, so he let it go in terms of his credit report. We were just checking our credit scores/reports and became furious all over again, and we were wondering if it’d be worth it to get it taken off. I then realized that it will soon be gone simply due to age, so we won’t be pursuing it, but my questions is could we have filed the dispute back in 2011? He otherwise had excellent credit, so surprisingly, this didn’t result in a huge ding to his credit score, but obviously it would have been significantly higher without 11 months of collections on it.

    1. Enough*

      It probably isn’t worth the trouble. But you don’t indicate what your scores are. If you are 750 or greater don’t worry about it. Below 700 maybe you should do something. In between debatable. But if there has been no significant change in your husband’s score from 5 years ago just let it go.

      1. Mela*

        We’ve already decided to let this one go–it’s going to be off his credit report within a year because it’s so old. It’s more of a theoretical question: would it have been a valid dispute? As in, can the student loan’s company be held responsible for their clerical error? The line I’ve always been given is “The customer is responsible for ensuring their bills are being paid.” as a way to get out of being held responsible for damn near everything.

        1. BRR*

          Yes and they would have to remove it. Now proving it and getting them to do it would likely be easier said than done.

    2. Dan*

      Since we’re talking about what could have been done/what should have been done, and not current day advice…

      The student loan company is responsible for clerical errors, but the onus is on you to prove that such an error existed. TBH, I’d give you the benefit of the doubt if I were on the jury (but these things never see a jury, so it’s a letter of law issue) so maybe I should say customer service rep at the student loan company. This isn’t something I don’t think you could have disputed with the credit bureaus themselves, because when asked to send verification of the debt, the bank will send paperwork showing the bill wasn’t paid. The bureaus don’t really get into “resolution” issues.

      But going back to the past, the student loan company(s) are right. You’re responsible to ensure that your bills are getting paid. You said that you “suddenly” became aware that your loans were in collections for 11 months. How is this? Right after you first miss a payment, you’ll get monthly letters from the bank saying that your account is overdue. When it gets turned over to collections, the collection agent will send you another letter telling you that they are attempting to collect a debt. Those guys won’t send you monthly letters, but they will send you an occasional notice threatening that your loans are about to default. (They will, eventually. That’s not an empty threat.)

      If we were talking pre-internet era, when paper statements were the norm, yeah, it’s possible your account could have gone 30 days late before you realized there was an error. (Late payments under 30 days are not reported to the bureau; greater than 30 days are.) I do think you could have easily called up the student loan company, and they would have quickly agreed that there was some sort of error. In the internet era, it’s easy to catch this thing the day or two after a payment is due, so no having to worry about things getting slowed down too much in the mail.

      I will admit that having an account be overdue for an entire year and then trying to claim it was a clerical error is a hard sell to make to people. They are going to tell you that you’ve received several overdue notices, and if you claim you never got them, they’re not going to believe you.

      Did you just throw away the mailing from the student loan companies, because you were expecting $350 to be withdrawn every month and $350 actually was, so why bother looking at the bill? I do the same, and understand the thought process. But when it comes down to technicalities, the student loan company cannot be held responsible for letters you received and didn’t open — which means I think you may not have won that dispute.

      1. Dan*

        BTW, I didn’t intend this to be overly critical, as I live in a glass house. I learned a lot about credit and disputes from my own mistakes. I had moved, and the post office screwed up my address forwarding request. Did I think something was amiss because I wasn’t getting any mail? Well, in 2002, I wasn’t getting much other than junk mail, so wasn’t expecting anything.

        I did think it was my lucky day when AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon all didn’t send me final bills. Because bills you don’t get, you don’t have to pay, right?

        I found out that those guys were sending me bills because when I applied for a job with the United States Secret Service, I had to submit a copy of my credit report. Low and behold, those guys reported me to collection for not paying my final bill.

        I now check to make sure bills I expect to get paid in fact are. (But for auto withdraws, I just check to make sure that the first one or two credit correctly, and then I only check every six months or so.)

        1. Mela*

          Oh don’t worry, you can’t even see the level of how critical I was from where you are. It was a combination of not opening any mail, mail going to neighbors’ boxes instead of ours, and e-statements, so he never thought to open physical mail. He had also been paying this bill correctly for years, and all he did was call to switch the bank he was paying from. It never occurred to him that the rep wouldn’t set it up the exact same way it was before. But yea, it boils down to him owing $350/month and paying $350/month, and not thinking he needed to check anything beyond that, including opening mail. Now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure he mentioned at the time that he wasn’t even aware he had two separate loans, he had always paid $350 and they internally disbursed it properly without any instructions from him. Because…duh.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            We tend to look at things through our own lenses. I had a medical bill for $35 sent into collection. It was a medical bill that the creditor said I did NOT owe. It must have been in collection for a while before I figured it out. We went for a mortgage and the mortgage company said, “What’s this?!”

            I wanted to get really angry, but all I could do was laugh at how stupid this whole thing was. We never received anything in the mail to say we owed the money. We never received anything to say it was going into collection. The so-called creditor promised me a letter saying I did not owe the money. I did not get the letter until I plunked myself down in the waiting room and refused to leave. I told the lender, “My husband and I have paid off tens of thousands of dollars of medical bills. If we were going to stiff someone, don’t you think it would be for a bit more than $35?”

            In my mind, I can see no one notifying your husband and later telling him it’s his fault they did not follow HIS instructions. Just my cynical read on that one.
            You’ve got my sympathy here.

            1. Dynamic Beige*

              I paid for courier fees online. When the delivery person came, I gave him the confirmation number and he wrote it down. A month later, I got an invoice saying I owed less that $45 — that I had already paid. I called the number and got it straightened out. Until a month later when I got another invoice. Called, once again the CSR assured me that it was taken care of. Until I got another invoice and then I got a letter from a collections agency. At that point, I was very angry. Turned out that there was a different number that one had to call in order to clear up online things. After all of that, over less than $50, I was considering billing them for my time. I am waiting for a collections agent to show up at my front door because part of me doesn’t really believe that this is finally over.

            2. Mela*

              “I can see no one notifying your husband and later telling him it’s his fault they did not follow HIS instructions.”

              Exactly. The customer service is so bad, I honestly think they train the reps badly because it earns them more money to have customers make “mistakes” like this. When it comes to consumer credit products, like credit cards, I’ve had the best reps ever explaining every last detail before prompting and laying out options and pros/cons. Because they know damn well if I don’t like them I’ll just close the credit card. Student loans? They know you have no choices.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                Eh, I realize the saga is almost over for you, but you may get some satisfaction in typing out a letter to the attorney general and cc’ing a few others. You could point out that others could be going through this as it seems to be a way to help people part from their money. The only thing your hubby did wrong here was assume people do their jobs and do them correctly. I guess the creditor wants ALL of its customers to call daily or weekly to make sure the employees are doing their jobs correctly. Yeah, I feel your pain.

    3. Aardvark*

      Are they federal loans? You might be able to sic the Federal Student Aid Ombudsman Group on them.

      Long story short–I had one high interest student loan and one low interest student loan. I wanted to pay off the high interest one for obvious reasons, so I called up the loan company and asked how much to pay off that one loan. They quoted $X and said to send in a note via the secure message service that it was to pay off the high interest loan, so I made an additional payment of $X, sent the message, and thought I was done. Lo and behold, they applied part of the amount to the low-interest because of accrued interest (even though I made more than the minimum payment that month, and specifically paid the payoff amount for $X). Much back-and-forth ensued over the course of maybe 3 months. Within a week of telling them that if they didn’t fix it I’d report them to the ombudsman, everything was resolved. It might be worth checking out.

  10. Stephanie*

    Moving Day is tomorrow! I’m mostly packed up. I’m shipping most of my stuff via Amtrak and am shipping my car. My boxes and car left yesterday. Just cleaning up now. My folks are and I leaving tomorrow to drive–should be about a four-day drive.

    Anyone have any suggestions between Phoenix and Pittsburgh? We’re taking 1-40 and turning northward in Missouri and picking up I-70 in St. Louis.

    1. Dan*

      I have to ask, if you’re shipping your stuff *and* your car, what are you actually driving? And did you mean turning northward on I44 in Oklahoma before picking up I70? Cause otherwise, I40 goes through Memphis, where you’d turn straight north to head toward St. Louis.

      I did this drive back in 2007 while moving from LA to Cincinnati. There’s wasn’t much of interest other than the grand canyon, but we passed on that. There’s lots of flat land. We also did this drive with a UHaul trailer and a car that stalled at every stop light.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yeah, picking up I-44. I figured it was all flat, was just wondering if there were any points of interest.

        Wellllll, originally the plan was to tow all this stuff. And then my dad decided last weekend we were just going to ship most things. At this point, it’s mostly just a couple of things that would be difficult/really expensive to ship (like my cello) and personal affects. My parents also decided to turn this into some long road trip and just drop me off.

        1. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

          Are you driving through Oklahoma City? I live there, and would be happy to give some recommendations :) It’s a pretty cool city!

    2. Dan*

      I was in the same boat life-wise as you when I started grad school. It’ll feel really good to get back in school.

    3. Audiophile*

      Have a safe trip.

      Pittsburgh is only about 7 hours from where I live in NY I’ve never been, only been to Hershey and Lancaster. I heard Pittsburgh is nice though.

    4. anon4this*

      Lots of fun things to do in St. Louis, and many are free (zoo, art museum, history museum, tour of Anheuser Busch brewery). If you have a chance a one of a kind experience is the City Museum. Google it; it is not just for kids. Also, there is the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (otherwise known as “the Arch”). Safety tip: don’t leave anything in your car.

      1. Risa*

        2nd the City Museum…. Had the opportunity to go there once when I visited – really fun and amazing, especially the slide!

    5. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      If you like BBQ – I knew someone who once went on a tour of different areas to try different styles. I’m admittedly not a huge fan of BBQ, but given some of the areas you are driving through, maybe identify some cool places to try different things?

    6. Katie the Fed*

      Stop by The Hill and get some really good Italian food. Pick up a large Imo’s pizza and bring it to me. The city musuem is awesome.

    7. Simms*

      As a former resident of St. Louis, there is a really amazing Mediterranean restaurant not to far from a highway called The Vine. I ate so much from them while I was there plus they have this cool little market attached. Their website is thevinestl dot com. The Botanical Gardens are worth the slight entrance fee. There is also a couple of really good bakeries I used to go to. One does french style pastries, La Patisserie Chouquette and the Whisk which does alot of vegan gluten free stuff but is kind of out there but tasty (things like bacon chocolate chip cookies or Blackberry goat cheese popsicle). Also if you get a chance Randall’s (a liquor store) has a huge selection of local beers and spirits, I know cause I used to work there. Best way I can think of to get to try a bunch of local brews if you are just passing through.

      1. HYDR*

        I work on Grand, and have never heard of the Vine! Thanks for this rec, I will be visiting there soon (Pho Grand is my go-to).

    8. Bethlam*

      What school in Pittsburgh? My sister lives in downtown Pittsburgh and is an alum of CMU; I’m about 50 miles north of Pittsburgh.

  11. periwinkle*

    Kitty!

    Anyway, I am finally taking the first real vacation since 2012; all my vacation days since then have been for moving, running errands, attending conferences on my own dime, and school stuff. Husband will stay home to take care of our kitties while I gallivant off on a drive from Seattle to Jasper, Alberta.

    So, who has recommendations for interesting sights/great food in the Jasper/Banff corridor? I’ll be driving from here to Cranbrook (about 8 hours) and then staying in the town of Jasper for a few days in the first week of October. I’m not an outdoorsy person (basically a slug, really) but love scenery. On my short list are the Columbia Icefield tour and Sunwapta & Athabasca Falls. Finding great scenery is the easy bit, but food? (I mean, other than Tim Hortons, because it is illegal to visit Canada without stopping for Timbits) Any interesting little museums?

    1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      I was in Banff last year with my parents and husband, and had some excellent food there! The Maple Leaf on Banff Ave is fabulous, and the Grizzly House is an institution featuring fondue. There’s also a really excellent teeny little tea shop on a side street there that’s worth a visit if you enjoy tea at all!

      1. Al Lo*

        We really like the Bison in Banff. It’s a go-to for anniversaries and special occasions.

        The Banff Centre for the Arts may have something on — they host lots of residencies and have concert series and so on. It’s a great cultural gem in town.

        And I second the suggestion to visit Calgary if you have time. Lots of great stuff to do here!

    2. LiteralGirl*

      Hello from Seattle! If you plan to spend any time in Vancouver, look up The French Table. We’ve been going there for years; it was previously Hermitage on Robson.

    3. QA Lady*

      There was a little pizza place in the food court at the Banff mall that was basically a gourmet pizzeria with the most amazing pizza I’ve ever had. All locally sourced ingredients etc.

      Banff has a bunch of little museums & heritage sights. You can ride the gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain. It’s pretty overpriced but tickets are cheaper the last hour they are open. There is a waterfall in Banff–just follow the signs for Bow Falls. Cave & Basin was neat, and of course Lake Louise isn’t far and the scenery is breathtaking! Since you said October you may also be able to go skiing, but probably not unless we get a really early winter.

      Banff also has hot springs–I haven’t been in years! So I don’t know how good they are.

      If you have time, Calgary is about an hour east of Banff. Tons to do there!

    4. SL #2*

      I just visited both Jasper and Banff in May! The Icefield tour is INCREDIBLE, omg. My favorite part of the trip, hands down (but I’m also from SoCal… we don’t see snow down here, ever). Athabasca was gorgeous; some of the crevices where the water snakes through had such rich colors. Are you going to stop by Lake Louise? I had such a good time at the Chateau, and we stayed at Lake Louise Inn, which has a lovely indoor pool.

      I’m not gonna lie… good food is kinda hard in the region. Banff (the town, not the whole park) has some solid restaurants, although it all feels a little touristy…

    5. E, F and G*

      I actually agree with SL #2 that Banff is fairly touristy – gorgeous, breathtaking scenery, but touristy. So if you are in the Banff and Jasper area keep in mind that Banff is the more developed area currently.

      That being said, there are always good places to go. If you want scenery try the Johnston Canyon walk. It is one of the more popular walks in Banff and has a very well maintained path with waterfalls as a destination (and it is not a tough walk for most people.) At the base is a burger shop that you can stop at.

      Lake Louise and Moraine Lake are a definite suggestions for scenery and pretty much the go to postcard for all things Banff. There is a decent length walk/hike with a bit of elevation gain but not too much that connects to Lake Louise and takes you up to a tea house (there is a second teahouse much further out if you like walks.)

      The Banff Springs Hotel is iconic and you can wander around a surprising amount of it. And a full table of people agreed that the soup in the cafeteria near the check-in was to die for.

      In the mall in the town of Banff is The Old Spaghetti Factory which I consider the best restaurant in the chain (and it has free bread.) The Salt Lick in Banff has convinced a hater of steak that there may be such a thing as a good one.

      And of course, there is a fudge shop on the main street – The smell. Yum.

      I don’t know as much about the Jasper area and most of my knowledge of eclectic museums would take you out into the prairies.

  12. Cristina in England*

    Inspired by the latest post on gold digger’s blog, a shoutout to clothes lines. I didn’t grow up using them in America but I use mine 5/7 days of the week here in the UK (in the summer anyway!). I am trying to get my sister in the US to use one but she says she doesn’t want crunchy towels. She was the head of the environmental club in school so I am surprised she is so unwilling, but then again, I didn’t consider the energy usage of my dryer until I moved to a country with very high energy prices. Anyway, hooray for free drying!

    1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      I was absolutely flabbergasted to learn that clotheslines/outdoor dryers are actually forbidden in a lot of municipalities in the US! I grew up (in the US) with my mom and both grandmothers using them regularly, for everything, and I’ll admit that I do like them for towels, but everything else I prefer to have line-dried whenever possible. We just moved into a new place a couple of weeks ago and I’m trying to figure out where I want my dryer to go, since I don’t think I can get a line in my existing yard.

      1. Cristina in England*

        Yes, I read somewhere that the bans on lines was some sort of slight against immigrants?

        Why can’t you get a line in your yard, is it too big, too small, or awkwardly shaped? I actually just have hooks all over and put the line up every time I use it. There are three hooks on the back of the house and three on the back wall (very small yard, maybe 30feet?) and I have a plastic-coated string line that I tie up and then when I am done I wind it and put it back in its Ziploc bag. I would like a permanent line but the yard is so small it would just be in the way and I don’t want to duck under it all the time.

        1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

          A lot of it has its roots in anti-immigrant sentiment, because immigrant communities living in tenements would hang lines between buildings to dry their laundry (as did almost other poor communities, but it was seen as an “immigrant thing” because of prejudice), but a lot of it also has to do with rules in suburbs about what was acceptable in communities. Clotheslines were seen as low-class and poor, when electric dryers were the wave of the future, and dryers became so popular that clotheslines fell out of favour in a lot of places for a long time. A lot of municipalities are rewriting laws to legalize use of them in an effort to become greener, though, which is great!

          Our house is weirdly set on the lot, so we have a very spacious front yard and awkwardly shaped and small backyard, which makes it tricky to get a line of any distance set up. I think I’ll just end up getting a square solar dryer that I can take down in the winter, which is what my mom has, and it holds a scary amount of stuff.

          1. Cristina in England*

            That was a great explanation of the bans, thanks. I wondered if urban line drying would make a comeback, I am glad it has some footing!

            One of my neighbors has a square dryer, I have heard they are very spacious.

          2. Yetanotherjennifer*

            There are umbrella style clothes lines that need much less space and only need one hole in the ground. Plus you can hide unmentionables in the middle and surround them with other stuff. I had a friend who would put hers in the picnic table umbrella hole every time she needed to dry clothes until their HOA changed their rules.

              1. chickabiddy*

                I have an umbrella clothes line, too. It does hold a lot! And it doesn’t take up much room.

          3. Wacky Neighbor*

            When I was a child there was a somewhat odd family who lived across the street from us. The lady of the house was morbidly obese and she sort of reminded me of Rosanne Barr, only larger. She had unusual taste in underwear, which she would hang on the clothesline. The entire neighborhood was abuzz about her gigantic leopard, tiger and zebra print panties flapping in the wind. I often wondered if maybe she sewed them herself.

            But no one ever said anything about it to the woman directly. Aside from the underwear, the family had a few other quirks, but they were really rather nice and I have fond memories of playing with their children when I was young.

        2. Dynamic Beige*

          I use mine 5/7 days of the week here in the UK

          In the early 70’s a family from the UK built a house in our neighbourhood. One day, the woman, who was about my mother’s age, said to her that only the lower-class families ever hung their clothes out on a Sunday (we were not religious, they were Catholic). But she thought that since my mother was a single working parent, it was probably OK.

          Allllllrighty then.

          1. Cristina in England*

            Hahaha, this makes sense to me now after being here so long!! Yes apparently Sunday is not a washing day, except it is for me so I guess I am not classy.

          2. Cristina in England*

            Someone I know lived in Germany for a while in the 90s, and she was trying to make friends with other mothers from her kids’ school, so she would have people over and bake a cake to serve. At some point someone expressed concern and asked if they were doing ok because apparently you only baked your own cakes if you were too poor to buy one from the bakery! Not, you know, because you enjoyed baking and were good at it!

            1. Dynamic Beige*

              That’s one of the things about the current food craze I find interesting. When I was a kid, only poor people cooked. Because it was more expensive to buy canned spaghetti than it was to make it so if you had money, you could afford to buy it. Now, only rich people cook (or bake) — organic, non-GMO, paleo, gluten-free, whatever. And if you don’t or can’t cook, there’s something obviously wrong with you, because don’t you know that there are all kinds of preservatives and chemicals and toxins in packaged foods! Don’t you *care* enough about yourself or your family to spend $10 on a branch of kale harvested on a Dutch commune that’s only had people lovingly brush the insects away with feather dusters made from their own prize-winning chickens, rather than nasty poisons sprayed on it?

              There is no way to win. No matter what you do, someone is going to have a problem with it and will tell you you’re not doing it “right”. So you might as well do what makes you happy or what you need to do and other people can go pound sand.

              1. Noble*

                Don’t you *care* enough about yourself or your family to spend $10 on a branch of kale harvested on a Dutch commune that’s only had people lovingly brush the insects away with feather dusters made from their own prize-winning chickens, rather than nasty poisons sprayed on it?

                Hilarious

              2. matcha123*

                Same sentiment here. When I was a kid, I wanted store-bought everything. Clothes made by hand, used clothing and furniture were all signs of being poor…which my family was. Now the upper classes are going to thrift stores and patting themselves on the back for caring about the environment.
                It’s frustrating to explain to people the psychological reaction I get when I have to make my own food, since it represents some painful memories.

                1. Al Lo*

                  My mom has always loved seeing and made many of her clothes when it wasn’t cool to do so. When she got married and moved from Chicago to Calgary, she had one older family friend who lamented “poor [Mom], who had to move all the way to Canada and sew her own clothes”! 30 years later, I still don’t think she was quite convinced that her life wasn’t a tiny bit pitiable.

                2. Temperance*

                  Ooooh yes. I totally get this. I grew up poor / trailer park, and certain things really upset me. Homemade clothes especially; my mother is not a very good seamstress, and my clothes looked obviously homemade. So when one of my more well-off friends talks about sewing clothes for her kid, I get really annoyed.

                3. Moonsaults*

                  This makes me so sad!

                  I was one of the lucky kids, I grew up ‘poor’ and in a trailer park for the first part of my life. A few of the kids at school had parents as disgusting as those who are that look down on the fact. Even though my dad didn’t have an ounce of debt until he bought a piece of property that we eventually moved to. So we were “poor” but lived well within our means thankfully due to my parents thriftiness.

                  Now I’m at that stage in life that I can appreciate all the things they taught me to save money in the scheme of things. So grocery shopping and skipping the prepared foods section is best for my waistline and my pocketbook, no scars to weigh me down :(

              3. Katie the Fed*

                It’s this way with a lot of things. I do lots of things that used to be considered the the poor: bake my own bread, can vegetables and jam, have a large vegetable garden. I would have been considered low class doing those things when I grew up in the 80s.

                1. Dynamic Beige*

                  Make our own jam? Yep. Big vegetable garden? Yep. Never baked bread, but did sew some of my own clothes. I see people drinking out of Mason jars and I think “Uh… you do know those are for canning, right?”

                2. the gold digger*

                  The eating and love of kale! The thrill of eating all the parts of the animal! The canning of food! The baking of bread!

                  All the stuff my mom did growing up poor on a farm.

                3. Dynamic Beige*

                  Oh! I just found out that a weed we used to pull out of the garden all the time is Purslane and is a current darling of the organic community.

                4. Blue Birds Fly*

                  This made me think of the horror my grandmother had when my sister and I got our ears pierced in the 70’s. My grandmother said they used to be a sign of being an immigrant. Times change:)

                5. the gold digger*

                  dynamic beige, my challenge is that I don’t have four or five big purslanes – I have a few hundred tiny, quarter-inch ones. They are like a hydra – if you try to hoe them up – DO NOT DO THIS! – the chopped little bits come to life themselves. They are attempting to choke out the things I want to grow in my garden.

      2. zora.dee*

        I live in a tiny apartment, but I have strung up clothes lines in my kitchen. It’s not my favorite, because I love the sun-drying effect, but it works, and I save a lot on the dryer! (ours is coin-op)

    2. Sandy*

      I also hate the crunchy clothes problem. The solution I found was to line-dry the towels and then toss them in the dryer for 5 min to lose the crunchiness.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        Or the other way, pop them in the dryer for a bit, then hang them up to fully dry outside. I have lines up in my basement for drying clothes and a couple of flat racks.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          I dry pants and shirts for about 10 minutes and then hang them up in the closet to finish drying. They’re not stuffed in tight until they are dry. Limited drying makes them last longer and not shrink. Plus, it’s so dry here, the indoor drying laundry adds some moisture to the indoor air. (That’s probably not a plus in more areas.)

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, I hate crunchy towels and jeans. I throw both in the dryer for 20 minutes or less and let them hang to finish drying. They are fine.

      3. Colette*

        Interestingly, using too much fabric softener also helps (discovered inadvertently when I lost the top of my fabric softener bottle).

        1. EmmaLou*

          I heard that fabric softener on towels makes them less absorbent. (but I love that softness)

          1. Colette*

            I’ve heard that, too, and I’ve stopped using it altogether – I use vinegar instead. But I do miss the softness of excessive fabric softener!

          1. Jenni*

            Are you rinsing all the soap out? We find we have to use half of what’s recommended if we want to skip double washing

    3. Pennalynn Lott*

      While I love the environmental aspect of line drying, I learned when I bought my house in 1998 that my allergies can’t handle it. Drying off with a towel that had been hung on a line left me sneezy and itchy for hours afterward. :-(

        1. Pennalynn Lott*

          Yep, pollen and dust. I have a huge yard that backs up to a creek and forested area. It’s awesome because of all the green things and the critters, but something is always in bloom unless it’s the dead of winter (which lasts about week or so here). Plus, if it’s not winter, you can expect anything left outside for more than an hour to become home to a bunch of tiny spiders. I love spiders, and think they’re cute as heck, but I like them outdoors, and not on me. :-)

          1. Cristina in England*

            Wow. I had tiny spiders hatch in my bedroom once, and I am so glad I didn’t read your reply before I fell asleep last night! :-)

      1. Wacky Neighbor*

        Occasionally, a bird might poop on your laundry.

        If you live in a place where there is air pollution, particulate matter might land on the laundry while it is hanging on the line. I might not hang laundry outside if I lived next to a freeway or near some sort of refinery or factory.

        I have a friend who told me that he grew up living in a town with a copper smelter and that when the wind blew in a particular direction the laundry (and everything else) would be covered with a fine white powder that floated down from the smoke that was emitted from the smelter smokestack. Supposedly the powder contained all sorts of toxic chemicals such as arsenic.

        Anyway, the smelter was shut down many years ago now, a whole bunch of people lost their jobs, the population of the town dropped by half, but the air is much cleaner.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I use mine mostly for sheets–I don’t like crunchy towels either, but it doesn’t bother me much with the sheets. I do love the way they smell after they dry out in the sun. :)

      My auntie in London has one of those umbrella ones that spins around. I’d love one of those rather than the long line that stretches across the yard. I also bought a drying rack to use inside the house, because I like to dry my t-shirts and jeans for a few minutes in the dryer with a softener sheet and then hang them up. They last longer that way.

    5. Mander*

      I find it weird now that we don’t really use them in the US. I lived in desert states all my life until I moved to the UK, where it would have taken no time at all for my clothes to dry, and yet I always used the dryer. I move to England, where it’s a million times more damp and rainy, and I don’t even have access to a dryer without a long walk or a bus ride, so I dry everything outside when it’s dry or in the house with the aid of a dehumidifier.

      It is bizarre. How much money (and time!) could I have saved when I was doing my MA if I had put my clothes outside in the sun? They probably would have dried much faster in the New Mexico sun!

      1. Stephanie*

        Yes, that is one of the few upsides to Phoenix summers: my clothes are dry within the hour when I put them on the drying rack. I’ll miss that.

      2. Pennalynn Lott*

        Your dehumidifier comment reminded me of all the times I have begged my dad to buy one. He lives in San Francisco and line dries all of his laundry. I hate visiting him because the towels, sheets, and blankets are not only crunchy, but smell musty and mildewy. Ick. I think the next time I go see him, I’ll pack my own linens.

        1. Leeza*

          Do you have a fan? Aim it at the hanging laundry and it will dry much faster with less musty smell.

    6. FiveWheels*

      If Americans don’t generally have clothes lines, how do you dry things that can’t be tumble dried? Clothes horse?

      Now I’m paranoid because I’ve never noticed crunchiness in towels dried in the tumble drier, outside on a line, or inside on a clothes horse. What else am I missing? Argh!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I do have a tall rack with three arms coming off the top. I can hang a surprising amount of stuff on it. Before I bought that, I used to just hang stuff on hangers from the top of the door frame of the bedroom I don’t use, and I hung jeans in the bathroom because they would sometimes drip.

        1. Pennalynn Lott*

          Yep, I hang things from the beam in the living room that runs the length of the room, which positions the clothing between two ceiling fans (lots of air flow!). Sweaters get folded over the horizontal part of a plastic hanger and flipped over / re-folded a couple times during the hours-long drying process.

          If I have a single, no-tumble item that needs drying in a hurry, I have a rack that fits inside the dryer and I can put something on it with the heat on the lowest setting.

          I also have a couple of flat sweater racks that fit on the rim of the tub, but the cats treat them like they’re mini trampolines. Which is fun for them, but no so great for my clothes.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I have a clothes line in my utility room. I put stuff like tops and pants on hangers so I can get more items on the line. I also have a nice indoor drying rack that holds lots of stuff. In the winter my nose would dry out from the lack of moisture, so I moved the clothes drying rack to my bedroom and no more problem. (No need to run a humidifier, win-win.)

        I’d love to use an outdoor clothes line but with working full time, it was just too much to guess the weather every day and hang stuff outside on good days. I stopped using the dryer so much to save on the light bill, but I found that my clothes lasted almost three times longer and I was totally sold on the idea of avoiding the dryer.

      3. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I have a tension shower curtain rod hung across my laundry room, and I hang my clothes that can’t go in the dryer on that.

        1. brightstar*

          I was doing that until the shower rod came down on my head while I was taking a bath! Fortunately the clothes didn’t fall into the water.

          Now I have a tripod rack (I live in an apartment) but mostly use the drier. I only hang dry my work clothes and delicates.

      4. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

        We have a broken drying rack and also hang clothes on hangers that go on door frames or the shower rod til dry. There’s not enough room to do all of a load though and like Pennalynn I hate when the air is too damp to dry things properly because they smell musty so we have to use the dryer for about half our things.

      5. Mander*

        I think my family just never buys anything that can’t go in the dryer. Or on rare occasions we might go to a laundromat to use the gigantic commercial dryers.

    7. NN*

      I don’t think that it’s ever occurred to me that people who live in houses don’t have clothes lines! In Australia, swinging around on the hills hoist is an essential part of growing up!

    8. WIncredulous*

      Best thing ever is crunchy, crisp, wonderful smelling sheets from the clothesline.

      Best. Thing. Ever.

    9. Temperance*

      I grew up in a trailer and we always hung out our clothes – and I hated it! I hated having “crunchy” towels and shirts, and the mortification of every boy in the neighborhood seeing my bras and underwear (because my mother has no common decency and didn’t want to “waste” money on a drying rack for “unmentionables”, so of course she’d insist on hanging them up). I love my dryer, lol. I’m green in so many other ways, but I just can’t make that sacrifice.

    10. Lady Blerd*

      When I was a kid, my mom would not let us use her dryer, we would hang our clothes on a line in the basement. I would sometimes use it just to be a rebel! Now that I live in a condo, I installed a wall mounted clothes rack and I have folding rack as well (that doubles as a chew toy for my cats). So now I
      hardly use my dryer except for my work uniforms, towels and blankets.

    11. DanaScully*

      I’m living in a flat at the moment and I totally miss having a clothes line. Having to use maidens in doors at the moment and they GET IN THE WAY. I can’t wait to move to somewhere I can have a clothes line!

  13. Kay*

    I am renovating a 1928 house room by room to take it out of the 1980s. This week, I finished stripping wallpaper and repainting in a back bedroom. I pulled up a corner of the carpet…and instead of the perfect maple hardwood that’s in every other room of the house, it’s linoleum.

    As best I can tell, the linoleum was put down over the hardwood. I picked up a corner of it and it came up reluctantly in small pieces.

    Anyone have experience in removing old linoleum? It’s burlap-backed old linoleum, single sheet (not tiles), stuck to the hardwood with what the internet suggests is asphalt paper/adhesive.

    I’ve got a call in to test the linoleum and backing for asbestos, but does anyone have experience in removing this? Some quick googling tells me that I might be able to steam it off the floor. Do I have any hope of keeping the hardwood in ok condition? It’s been perfect in every other room – no need for refinishing at all. I’d like to stick to that, since it will be incredibly hard to match the finish.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      If it has asbestos, you’ll have to have it professionally removed. The remediation company should be able to tell you a good way to get it up, if it doesn’t. Steam might damage the hardwood.

    2. Dynamic Beige*

      If not steam, then heat. I think you’ll need a good scraper and some heat to loosen it. At least, that is what I would try. You can get paint guns that are like really hot hair dryers, but a hair dryer on high might be enough (or just the summer weather).

      I would try to pry some up starting at the door, because you’ll be able to see where you’re scraping and be gentler than if you start in a corner. You can also buy hardwood paint scrapers for furniture refinishing that might be better than a metal one (block of wood instead of flat metal). I know when I’ve had to scrape paint off, the hardest part is not going too far and gouging what’s underneath which is easy to do with a metal scraper.

      When I pulled up the carpet here, there were 50’s linoleum tiles all over the place. They came up pretty easily, most were no longer even sticking to the floor. I ran out of time before the hardwood people came to try and pull off the rest of them. But I see now that I should have tried to heat them off. The ones I tried to pull up just broke off it little bits with a scraper or screwdriver.

    3. Observer*

      There are two issues. One is the very real possibility that the linoleum contains asbestos. That’s actually not a problem unless you try to pull it up and it starts breaking, because that’s the only time it could get into the air. So, wait to find out what the testing says. If it has asbestos, you are going to need a professional, and you are going to want to move out of the house while it’s being done.

      The other issue is just getting it up and the mess cleared up. We had something like this in our house. Getting this stuff off is a MAJOR pain, and the hardwood will almost certainly be badly stained. Depending on the quality and thickness of the wood, you may or may not be able to scrape it well enough to erase of lighten the black stains.

    4. OhBehave*

      We renovated our kitchen three years ago. Our house was built in 1905. There were 5 layers of linoleum on top of hardwood floors. The guy we hired to refinish it used a long handled scraper to remove it. One of the layers had nails EVERYWHERE! Our son had a nail removal job for a day or so!
      Depending upon the test results of the product, you can use this type of scraper (it almost looked like what roofers use). If your floors are original, you should have great results as it will be a thicker board than most new hardwood flooring. Therefore sanding will go a long way towards removing any remaining gunk. Our floors have tons of nail holes with are dark in contrast to the light floors, but we love the worn look. You may have to mix a few stains to get the right match, but it can be done.
      Good luck!

  14. Oryx*

    Last time this week I was posting from the ICU at the hospital — I found out last Thursday I had a DVT in my left leg and the vascular surgeon did a non-invasive procedure. I was discharged Tuesday, went back to work yesterday, and am slowly adapting to my new normal (so many drugs! so many doctor’s appointments!)

    Anyone with familiarity with blood clots or Coumadin or anything have any advice?

    1. Colette*

      I have no advice, but I sympathize with the doctors appointments! I discovered recently that I have a clotting disorder, and breaking a bone and surgery are risk factors for developing clots. (I rarely bruise, but when I was on blood thinners after I broke my leg, I bruised all the time).

      I hope they get it under control and that you can get back to recovering.

    2. Anon and alone*

      My mother was on Coumadin, so my advice is to google a list of vitamin K rich foods because the vitamin counteracts the Coumadin. Some of the ones I remember are Broccoli (limited amounts), Spinach (None), Cranberry (limited amounts).

      1. Rahera*

        Yes, I was just going to say, try to keep your vitamin K intake regular, and it’s in some surprising things. Also limit alcohol because that is likely to mess with the meds… I’ll post a link or two if I can find them…

    3. Elizabeth West*

      You already know what to look out for now! So you know to see a doctor pronto if you have symptoms that suggest another DVT or God forbid a PE.

      Just be careful when you’re on Coumadin–even bumping my nose gave me a nosebleed when I was on it. And I would absolutely go to a pharmacy and buy one of those Medic-Alert bracelets or a necklace. They do make them for people taking blood thinners. If you’re in an accident or have any kind of medical problem, it’s vital that emergency services know you’re on it.

      1. Oryx*

        Ohhhhh the medical alert thing is a good idea! I have a card in my wallet (in the window where my license usually goes) that says I’m on it but I like this idea too

        1. Elizabeth West*

          It’s just a faster way to alert them. Better than if you passed out at work away from your desk and they didn’t have time to run get your purse, wallet, etc.

    4. Enough*

      You will be tested monthly to insure that your clotting is a the right point. And you will have to stop Coumadin (generic is Warfrin) before surgeries.

      1. Oryx*

        ive already started getting tested to get my levels where I need too (i am also on Lovenox in the meantime). Right now it’s every couple of days. Luckily the clinic is super close to my house and it wont disrupt my work schedule too much.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Oh God, yes, the monthly sticks. Drink a lot of water before those. Makes it easier. I had track marks for a while after that, but they went away eventually.

      3. MsChanandlerBong*

        Yes, and don’t let any dentists tell you that there’s no need to stop your blood thinners. I had my wisdom tooth pulled last year and almost had to be taken to the hospital via ambulance because the oral surgeon couldn’t get a clot to form. I was bleeding and bleeding for over 45 minutes. I specifically asked if I should stop my meds, and he said it wasn’t necessary.

    5. Good Afternoon!*

      We just had some asbestos remediation done on our master bath.

      It was worth every penny to have professionals do it. We live in the Bay Area so things get $$$, but this was not particularly eyebrow raising. 35sqft bathroom completely gutted.

      I was pregnant at the time and was not required to leave because the deal it off, create negative pressure wth their equipment outside, remove debris through the window and don’t unseal until it’s tested as safe. Approx. 24-48hra after demo.

      It is possible to demo asbestos yourself, but seriously weigh how much time and effort you want to put into it, the pros are FAST and efficient.

      1. Mander*

        I’ve had to do multiple asbestos awareness training courses in my career and I wouldn’t mess with it. It’s too much of a hassle to make sure you’re doing everything safely if you don’t have all of the equipment and training to begin with.

  15. zora.dee*

    Need advice about anti-anxiety meds.

    I’m kind of livid actually. I had a doctor (PCP) figure out a few years ago that I definitely have some generalized anxiety issues, when I was having major panic attacks while at a toxic job. She was super supportive about getting me on a very low dose of anti-anxiety meds, and said “this can be short term if that works out, but you clearly need some help right now managing this.”

    My mom has had very similar issues for years, if not more severe than mine, in a super high pressure job and never gets enough sleep. I told her to ask her doctor about the same things that I talked to my doctor about, because I think she should have some help dealing with this. She has now gone to more than one doctor, and every single one has said they don’t want to give her meds right away, they want her to try sleep hygiene, try yoga, just try deep breaths, etc. This has now been going on for 3 years. I feel like none of them are really helping her, and I don’t understand why it’s so hard to get them to talk about meds.

    And recently my doctor left my HMO, and I’ve had to switch doctors, and I’m starting to have the same issue with my new doctor who is saying she doesn’t want to give me any meds to help with sleep, and I should just try benedryl instead. I am getting really frustrated.

    Does any one have any advice or tips on how to actually get a doctor to talk about anti-anxiety meds as an option instead of blowing it off? Any tips on what I could say differently or ask for? Should it be this hard to get help, when I am waking up with anxiety attacks 2-3 days a week?

    TL;DR: Doctors not wanting to talk about prescribing anti-anxiety meds. What should I do differently to get them to actually help?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Is the issue that it’s somehow getting framed to them as sleep issues when it’s really anxiety issues (that are in turn impacting your sleep, but impact much more than that)? If so, I might take sleep out of it altogether and frame it as anxiety. Also, mention that you were taking X previously and it was very helpful.

      1. zora.dee*

        Thanks! I did say what I was taking previously and she said “yeah, I don’t like to prescribe that. Try Benedryl instead if it’s for sleeping.”

        It’s both really. My original doctor gave me a low-dose daily anti-anxiety med, and then another scrip for acute issues, that I could take as needed if I was having trouble sleeping, but that I tried not to use very often.

        I described my anxiety issues to the new doctor and she just talked a lot about deep breathing. Yeah, ok, I get it, that is good for me in the long-run to figure out how to manage the symptoms on my own, but I’m pretty positive this is clinical depression and anxiety, not just me being stressed out, and I would like her to be more supportive and talking about realistic solutions, at least in the short-term so I can stop having anxiety attacks.

        But that is helpful, I’ll try to nail down a more clear description of the anxiety issues and list of symptoms and focus on that as the issue.

      1. Rebecca in Dallas*

        This is exactly what I was going to suggest. I have always gotten my prescription for my GAD from a psychiatrist. They are going to be the most familiar with different medications.

    2. blackcat*

      Is you two seeing primary care doctors? And are you in (even infrequent) therapy? If you are both seeing primary care docs, a lot of them won’t prescribe any antidepressants/antianxiety medications but will instead refer the patient to a psychiatrist. In many cases, I actually think that’s the responsible thing to do, at least for a new prescription. Regular docs aren’t specialist in mental health, and I can see them not wanting to do prescribing. If you’re seen a primary care doc, you can ask for a referral to a psychiatrist (and it sucks that they haven’t referred her/you already). Also, a lot of medical guidelines encourage therapy, not medication as first line treatment for anxiety and depression. So I can also see a doctor refusing to prescribe if the patient hasn’t tired therapy. It’s suboptimal, particularly if a patient *can’t* access therapy, but again, it’s understandable to me.

      So my best advice is to go through your primary care docs and get referrals for therapy and/or a psychiatrist. If you sign a waiver, a therapist can communicate directly with your doc and say, “Please consider prescribing this patient meds.” A psychiatrist can do the prescribing, too.

      1. zora.dee*

        Yeah, the reason my first doctor did what she did is that in-network psychiatrists are backed up like 6-8 months for new patients. So she didn’t want me to have to wait that long to get some relief from the anxiety issues. She said let’s think of this as a short-term plan to help you get to the point where you can find a therapist and focus on therapy.

        This new doctor feels like she’s completely blowing me off, though.

        I know I do need to find a therapist, but I have so much going on that I am feeling completely overwhelmed and finding a therapist/paying for it/finding time to go to appointments, is contributing to the anxiety which is making it all that much harder. Which is what my first doctor was so understanding about.

        But I’ll try to double down on getting therapy started.

        1. zora.dee*

          And same problem for my mom. The doctor who is avoiding prescribing meds has referred her to psychiatry, but their waiting list is 6months+ long and it’s very situational for her, it’s her current job that is the problem. So again, she is asking for a short-term backup solution, and the doctor just doesn’t seem to want to talk about that.

          1. Book Lover*

            Are you talking about benzos, or about antidepressants? Benzos are short term management for anxiety while finding alternative options that are not addictive, usually antidepressants, cognitive behavioral therapy, etc. If your doc is refusing to prescribe, I suspect you are on benzodiazepines – I’m not aware of a doc that would refuse to prescribe a standard antidepressant for anxiety.

            1. zora.dee*

              yeah, id be open to a different med, I just feel like she’s completely dismissing the entire conversation

      2. Is it Performance Art*

        I’m sorry you’re going through this.
        Doctors are quite hesitant to prescribe antianxiety meds for a variety of reasons. The first is that they are addictive and sudden withdrawal can be deadly. Doctors are on the lookout for addiction and if a new patient asks for benzos, they’re going to be hesitant, especially if you haven’t tried anything else like a blood pressure medication. If you express a willingness to try other treatments before benzos, your doctor is much less likely to suspect substance abuse.

        There’s also not a lot of evidence that they are much better than a placebo for longer-term anxiety. Right now medicine is undergoing a shift where you really expect solid science to back treatment, so this type of treatment is not a first line treatment. Behavioral changes like eliminating or reducing caffeine consumption can have a big effect on anxiety and they’re low risk, so doctors are going to push those first. This is especially true when your life situation seems to be a significant factor. It’s hard to make a change in behavior, so a lot of times when people try, they make only small changes and it doesn’t work. So a lot of times doctors will assume the problem is the patient didn’t make the change rather than they did and it didn’t work and advise the patient to do the same thing. For lifestyle changes, it’s helpful for the doctor to explain what you tried, how long, how diligently and whether there was any improvement. If doctor recommends life/behavioral changes and the patient doesn’t want to try them, they are often hesitant to prescribe medications because that may be treating the wrong problem.

        You should definitely find a therapist. A therapist can help you find patterns in your anxiety and help you reduce it or deal with it when it happens. You may find that you don’t need a psychiatrist after all. If there’s a wait list for a psychiatrist, your therapist may assess your situation and let the psychiatrist know that they really should see you sooner, though this usually happens when their patient is suicidal, having difficulty taking care of themselves, on the verge of losing their job etc.

        If you do think you need to see a psychiatrist immediately and you can afford it, you could try to find one with a cash practice or who’s out of network. Their waiting times are sometimes shorter. When you do see the psychiatrist, chances are that they’re not going to treat your anxiety the way your previous PCP did. They’re often more cautious with anti-anxiety medications, but they’re also more skilled at managing anxiety symptoms.

        I know this is frustrating, but it’s likely your doctor and your mother’s doctors are doing this because they want to provide high quality care, not because they don’t care.

    3. EA*

      So I am not sure what meds you are on, but I thought sharing my experience and what I am on may help. I have GAD and have an as needed script for Ativan (which is a benzo, its similar to xanax). When I got this, the psychiatrist made sure to tell me this was not for long-term daily use. And if I was taking it more than 3 times a week, they would get me on an SSRI (an anti-depressant). She also said it was addictive and wanted to make sure I didn’t have an addiction in my family or an addictive personality. It works for me because I take in infrequently (twice a monthish). Mostly I feel much better that it is there as a safety net. As far as I know, benzos and anti-depressants are used for anxiety. Doctors seem hesitant with benzos because they are addictive.

      As others have stated, I would recommend a psychiatric, one who does ‘medication management’.

      1. Mreasy*

        I would second the supposition that this is a PCP vs. psych issue. Long-term anxiety, which I have in conjunction with clinical depression (as is often the case), sometimes includes panic, and sometimes does not. When an anxiety sufferer has panic attacks that cannot be mitigated/eliminated by lifestyle changes (I exercise, meditate, eat right, get weekly acupuncture, avoid alcohol & sugar, and have tried quitting caffeine), a quick-acting antianxiety (benzo, mine is Klonopin) is crucial to cut the panic attack off at the pass. Because when you suffer a panic attack, it can derail your whole day – and going through an entire attack makes you more likely to have another, simply because your brain is worn out, and more receptive to anxiety signals. Since I’ve had Klonopin to treat my panic attacks, I’ve gone from having probably 4-6 per week to maybe 3 per month. Your brain gets used to a different response. They’re a serious medication that must be used in combination with therapy and regular psychiatric treatment (and probably a depression medication, it sounds like, from what you’re saying), but can be lifesaving when used properly.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Years ago, I was told that ethically, the docs HAVE to tell you to try everything first BEFORE they give you a med.

      So I would go in with my handwritten list of all the things that I have tried and have failed. Then I would point out, okay that fills the ethical requirement, now can we actually figure this out? And I would point out that I cannot pay for/lose time from work for endless appointments that are not productive.

      1. TL -*

        They don’t have to try everything but meds first, but they do need go for the least invasive, most effective treatment for the state of the disease.
        But you should see a psychiatrist – they’ll be much more able to help you it because they’re so much more familiar with your disease.

      2. zora.dee*

        Not So New Reader: that is a very helpful point, thank you. I will definitely sit down and write things out. I have been just kind of rambling and that’s probably not helping things.

    5. Jaune Deprez*

      A lot of GPs are reluctant to prescribe anti-anxiety medications because they’re habit-forming. They’ve become even more reluctant to prescribe them in the last couple of years, because some recent research suggests that people who take anti-anxiety meds are more likely to develop dementia. It changes the risk:benefit ratio and makes it harder for doctors to justify prescribing them, except maybe a small prescription as a stop-gap (for example, if you have an unavoidable business trip and you’re terrified to fly). Their view is that, if you regularly need to use this type of medication, you should be getting it from a mental health specialist.

      If your mother is a senior (and especially if she’s a senior who even occasionally drinks alcohol), it will be even harder for her to get a benzodiazepine because it increases the risk of falls. This is something that doctors pay a lot of attention to when caring for seniors. It can be very, very difficult to persuade a general or family physician to prescribe an anti-anxiety medication to a senior. Her best bet is to see a mental health professional.

    6. Moonsaults*

      So it is thing now for PCP to recommend Benedrly!! This just happened to a family friend as well, I was shocked just the same as I am now.

      I used to self medicate with Benedryl for anxiety as a teenager, it does work wonderfully however it doesn’t work if you’re having an attack in public and need to stay awake. I’d get the fight or flight, leave the store, go home and take a bene, crawl into bed and wait for the peace to set in. I thought it was just me craving reset and sleep was my chosen reset, it’s been interesting to see that doctors now recommend it.

      You need a psychiatrists who isn’t scared to give you medication. PCPs are limited to what they can do because of the street value of anti anxiety meds :( they also can be the sorts who don’t believe in mental health needing medication either. Lots of reasons why they’re the worst for these kind of things. t

      1. Pennalynn Lott*

        I’m kind of freaked out that PCP’s are recommending Benedryl for anxiety or sleeplessness, especially with a recent study showing that long-term use of diphenhydramine (aka “Benedryl”) is implicated in dementia. I’d post a link, but it’ll get hung up in moderation, so just Google “Benedryl dementia 2016” for articles that will link you back to the study from the Indiana University School of Medicine that was published in JAMA Neurology.

        1. Brydon*

          One other thing to realize is walking into a new provider and saying I need a Benzo is an immediate trigger in healthcare to be on alert for a drug seeker. When a patient comes in it is best if they have their records from previous prescriber showing what was tried and failed prior to the Benzo being prescribed. A patient who comes in with no records saying I have tried every thing and the only thing that works is X (controlled substance) sets off all kinds of warning bells.

        2. zora.dee*

          yeah she wasn’t telling me to take Benedryl regularly but after I told her I can’t take Melatonin (side effects) she said ‘well if you have trouble sleeping, try taking Benadryl it works for lots of my patients. ok bye.’

      2. Artemesia*

        Benedryl not only doesn’t help me sleep it makes me crazy anxious zittery sleepless slightly desperately panicked. This is not apparently all that unusual. People who use it traveling with kids sometimes have the same effects — i.e. hyperactive rather than drowsy.

        I have noticed that it is incredibly difficult to sleeping meds now. I have lots of sleep issues and only take them occasionally but especially if I am traveling or have an important event I need to be well rested for, I need them. I have stockpiled lots of them because each year it becomes harder to get insurance approval (they don’t even pay but somehow have to approve the prescriptions) and harder to get a prescription from the doctor.

    7. Ruby 16*

      Oh no. I’m actually livid with your doctor now too. Check out this study:

      http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/18/health/otc-anticholinergic-drugs-dementia/

      I’m horrified that she is telling you to ‘just take Benadryl.’ The study found that Benadryl increases risk of developing dementia. It was big, big news a couple months ago, I’m not a medical professional and I heard about it. Frankly I think for her to be so uninformed is a red flag and maybe you should try to find a different doctor. If you do continue to see her I think you should print off a copy of the study or an article about it and bring it in to show her. Also, see this list of rankings of how strongly the studied medications are linked to developing dementia:

      http://www.agingbraincare.org/uploads/products/ACB_scale_-_legal_size.pdf

      You will see that Xanax and other anti-anxiety medicines are on this list too, but they are in the weakest-linked category to risk of dementia. Benadryl is in the list of medicines that have the strongest link to dementia.

      A good psychiatrist and a good therapist are your best bets for help. Where sleep is a concern, see a sleep doctor. I see a sleep neurologist and she is wonderful. I did have to do a sleep study but it was worth it.

      I am rooting for you and hoping you get help soon. Doctors who don’t listen are the absolute worst. Sometimes it takes a few false starts before you find a good one.

      1. Is it Performance Art*

        I don’t think the doctor is uninformed. (I think the media really failed in adequately explaining the study to the public. A couple of my friends asked me about it worried about the benadryl they took for allergies when they were kids and and I had to explain that it wasn’t that scary.) Many psychiatrists would recommend benadryl before anti-anxiety meds. The anticholinergic-dementia risk as actually quite controversial in the scientific community. There’s correlation not causation and anticholinergic drugs are much more likely to be prescribed for people who are at risk for dementia (ie with more health problems) — it’s hard to make sure you correct for all the confounding factors. It only has been found in older people, so we don’t know if it applies to young people.

        An occasional benadryl is not likely to have a huge effect. If you you look at the JAMA paper (the vast majority of doctors will have read it), people who had very heavy use had about an 80% rise in risk. At lower levels it was so small that it may not exist. The difference between an occasional benadryl and occasional anti-anxiety is going to be small. A doctor is going to to take a number of factors into consideration when deciding what medications to prescribe and this is going to be a much less important factor than effectiveness, side effects, addiction potential etc.

        1. Moonsaults*

          It’s partly the media’s fault but it’s also the standard reaction to medical studies released and snatched up by the public like this one has been. Many people see ‘This will cause dementia” and react in the way that says ‘Never touch that stuff, it’ll rot your brain straight out of your head.’

          Every drug has it’s side effects and it’s wear on the body. The choice is often ‘do you want to be able to function and enjoy life or do you want to worry that the medicine you’re taking will shorten your lifespan a bit?” I’d rather be fully functioning now in my 30s because if I don’t control my anxiety, depression and insomnia some how, I’ll be dead, possibly by my own hand well before the age dementia sets in.

        2. blackcat*

          Right–there are risks with any of these drugs. But benadryl is non-addictive and nearly impossible to OD on.* If you need an occasional sleep aid, benadryl is a probably the safest one out there, all things considered. If you need a sleep aid for every night, basically every drug available has significant risks. I can see doctors still recommending benadryl well before things like Ambien as a first line of defense, even if they believe the recent results.

          *This is even true for most mammals. When I discovered that my cat is allergic to bee stings and frantically called the vet, they told me to give him AN ENTIRE PILL. He’s like 7lbs, and they told me to give him an adult-human dose. He slept for like 24 hours, but was otherwise fine. And it stopped his wheezing and brought down the swelling within 5 minutes. For being as powerful as it is, benadryl is really remarkably safe. The biggest risk is if you are allergic to it, which sounds like the worst allergy ever to discover.

          1. Gaia*

            My dog (who was 90lbs at the time) took 4 Benadryl 3x a day. You read that. 12 a day. That was the normal, prescribed dosage for a canine of his size. I almost fell out of my chair. I take one of those things and I can’t get fro the couch to my bed without falling asleep and there was my dog taking 12 a day for allergies and just going on like nothing happened.

      2. zora.dee*

        thank you Ruby 16… I’ll keep trying, sometimes it feels so hard to keep starting over from square 1 though.

    8. Gaia*

      I think this is part of the pendulum swing. For a long time doctors were quick to hand out meds without considering non-med alternatives. There is now the opposite push: only consider non-med alternatives and avoid meds at all costs. Neither is good.

      Some people can address anxiety without medication. Many people cannot. There should be no shame, no guilt, no crap given to anyone that chooses (or requires) to utilize the appropriate medication for this very real illness. Unfortunately, some doctors won’t budge. If possible, switch. In your mother’s case, it might help to get a referral from a friend/family member that has had a good experience. I’ve also called offices and specifically said I want to discuss medication and asked the scheduler if they can verify if the doctor is open to prescribing it before I commit to an appointment (and waste everyone’s time).

      Good luck. I’m sorry, these doctors seems to suck.

  16. Former Invoice Girl*

    Spider veins / varicose veins – do they ever go away?
    My feet have survived years of working in retail and food service without problems, and now that I work in an office I’ve started to develop them – much to my horror. I know both sitting and standing for extended periods of time can cause them, but I’ve been working in jobs where I sit all day for for the last two or three years and I haven’t had this problem until now. Besides, I always try to balance things out by walking to wherever I can and by standing up from my desk regularly, but nothing seems to help now. The only thing I can think of as a root cause is my birth control – I’ve started using hormonal birth control again a few months ago, and the product insert does say that blood clots and spider veins might appear.

    Do you think they will go away if I stop using this particular pill – will they, ever? I feel a bit bummed out, to be honest, because I’ve always liked my legs, and now my already brittle self-esteem is crumbling down. I also feel like I’m way too young for these blue lines all over my skin.

    1. Stonkle*

      They don’t go away, but you can have them removed. IMO birth control pills definitely can cause them. I just went back on the pill earlier this year and started getting spider veins and leg aches, and I didn’t get any during the 4 years I wasn’t taking the pill.

      1. Former Invoice Girl*

        Oh well – that’s definitely a bummer, althought it’s good I can have them removed. Thank you. :)

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I quit eating sugar, started taking vitamin E, B and calcium and yeah, they did go way down. Some went away. Added bonus, I got rid of some scar tissue that I thought would never go away.

      I am not sure about what happens if you stay on that pill for any length of time.

      1. Former Invoice Girl*

        Thanks! I’ll try that before looking into removal options.

        I have about two more months until my current package runs off – seems like I’ll either have to get a different brand prescribed, or switch birth control methods entirely.

    3. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

      I don’t think so–my mom was a nurse and has some pretty impressive ones. You can have some removed. I think that Dr. Pimple Popper’s YouTube channel may have an example of how they do it. Seemed easy, if a bit painful. I googled “Dr. pimple popper varacose vein” and it was the first result. You could also try googling “sclerotheraphy”.

        1. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

          varicose….

          ” Eye halve a spelling chequer….”

          One day I will spell properly without thinking about it. Today is not that day.

  17. Vicky Austin*

    Has anyone been to Senegal for vacation type reasons? I’m going for work and thinking about staying for fun. It will be the wetter season and was thinking beach type activities but am open to any suggestions.

    1. nep*

      I would suggest doing what you can to see different regions of the country. For one, take the boat to Casamance region if you can.
      How long will you be staying on? Or is that open?

      1. Vicky Austin*

        Probably just 4 or 5 days. So I was thinking of Casamance. Any thoughts on what to do there other than beach? Active things are great. And do
        you know if one can fly there from Dakar? I see conflicting info online.

        1. nep*

          I don’t know the current situation, but when I was there a few years ago there were flights Dakar to Casamance. (I went down once by boat, once by plane — but it was a private four-seater, not commercial.)
          I don’t know how interested you are in local culture / customs (and granted a few days doesn’t give much time to ‘go deep’) — Anyway I would find a person from Casamance (anyone you work with from there?) to give you tips on what festivals or other local events might be going on.
          In any case, as you know Senegal’s great for music so if you’re into that, you should be able to find some interesting scenes.

    2. nep*

      You could also try Lac Rose — much closer to Dakar. Thies is an interesting town — there was a spectacular baobab forest there.

    3. Tex*

      I think it has a nascent surfing scene? Or was that Sierra Leone? Never been, but it sounds like it may turn out to be an awesome trip!

    4. Reba*

      Yes, and I’ll soon be going back for several months.

      St. Louis is a lovely city. I took a sept-place ride between there and Mauritania that has yielded my Best Travel Story: I was in the back center seat (last to arrive at station). At some point on the long hot road, everybody else in the car apparently fell asleep–including the driver. I see a cow cross into the road ahead of us. Seconds later I realize the car is not slowing. I scream, but we still hit the cow. The cow picks itself up and walks off, with a broken horn, otherwise appears fine. The car was not fine. I and the old Senegalese men hang by the side of the road and chat for an hour until a bus passed by.

      I STRONGLY recommend a tortoise preserve called Le Village des Tortues. Close to Dakar and very lovely park. In addition to tortoises (including babies!) we saw a hornbill and other interesting birds.

      I really liked Joal-Fadiouth. You can hire a taxi to take you there, a few hours from Dakar, and get a guide at the tourism office. We also arranged a canoe ride through the mangroves there–going through a guiding service, although if I were to go again I would just look for folks with boats and make a deal.

      I don’t recommend Lac Rose, sadly. Although the salt making process is interesting/amazingly difficult, the lake is only “red” a few weeks a year, definitely not in the rainy season. More importantly I had my worst tourist-junk-sellers experience there (not all “junk” but just meaning all the bracelets etc. found at every toubabou spot): extremely aggressive, grabbing me adn my friend, just unpleasant.

      I haven’t explored much of Senegal but looking forward to more! I have heard advice to be cautious about Casamance for political-conflict reasons. Don’t know enough about it myself to have an opinion, but you may wish to research. Have a fantastic time!

  18. LawCat*

    7.25 mile run today! I’m super slow and it took me about 2 hours, but yeah, new personal distance record!

    Also discovered vanilla Clif shots are not for me. The Razz one was tolerable. I usually have a sweet tooth, but these are kind of blech/too sweet for me during a run. I’m just now getting into nutrition during running. Any ideas for anything less sweet? Is there anything flavorless?

      1. Paula*

        I obviously know nothing about you, but do you need nutrition whilst running? Would plain water be enough?

        1. Awkward Interviewee*

          Generally when you’re running more than about an hour or so, you should start replacing electrolytes, not just water. Especially when it’s hot and you’re sweating a lot.

      2. Grumpy*

        Heck yeah. It’s hot out there. Nice work.
        I use Honey Stingers chomps, or half and half Gatorade and water mixed in a bottle. If you run with a group or join a local “race” there are usually samples of various fuels in the swag bag so you can try them out.
        Again, great work.

    1. LadyKelvin*

      I don’t have a lot of suggestions because you said you don’t do sweet when running and I eat Swedish fish or gateraid chews when running, but my old roommate would take cliff mini bars or eat pieces of a cliff bar when she was training for her marathon, not all of those are super sweet, I’m sure you could find something you like. It took me several tries till I found something I could eat while on my runs, I puked after my first and only gu. Good luck!

    2. AdAgencyChick*

      I used to do Gu when I did distance running. The fruit flavors are best — I hated anything that tasted like fake vanilla or chocolate. Could not deal with the Clif Shot Bloks, as I hate chewing when running.

      1. snowball*

        I only use the Bloks when I get free samples – but I always forget how much I hate them. I can’t chew gum and the Bloks are so much harder.

    3. Awkward Interviewee*

      Jelly Belly makes jelly beans with electrolytes called sport beans that I really like. Easy to eat, taste pretty good, and are sweet but not super sweet. (Especially the lemon-lime and orange flavors, which are my favorites.)

    4. C Average*

      If you prefer something that seems more food-like, Justin’s makes little pouches of peanut and almond butters. They’re about the same size as Gu packets, and they’re quite tasty.

      Gummi Bears also work well.

      My personal favorite is Nuun tablets dissolved in water. I prefer to carry my own water on long runs, so it’s easy to just drop in a tablet or two of lemon lime.

    5. Today's anon*

      Yes, I also find that I can’t deal with any Clif products when running. I usually use Gus – find your flavor, I think they have flovorless but try them, there are some that make me gag, and others I can deal with better. Also, when I need to take a few on a long run, I try to be mindful of varying the ones with caffeine with the ones – I don’t feel it right away but then at night I am all wired up. So excited for you, congratulations on the new distance!

    6. Rebecca in Dallas*

      I like Honey Stinger chews (hate the texture of gels) but I think they are pretty sweet. I think they also make a waffle thing that has more savory flavors, you might pick up those to try them out.

      1. skyline*

        I also like the Honey Stinger chews–they tend to be sweet, but some are also pretty tart/sour, which helps. I’ve tried their waffles, but found they were too dry and made me cough/choke.

    7. AnotherTeacher*

      Since hydration is especially important in warm weather, I like to get my carbohydrates/electrolytes via Gatorade on long summer runs. I mix the powder in my water bottle, so I can adjust the intensity of the taste. It’s not flavorless, but it doesn’t have that sickly sweet taste of bottled Gatorade. I also like the Gatorade beans (like jelly beans), which are easier to eat while running than blocks and other kinds of chews.

  19. Rory Gilmore's Book*

    My husband and I would like to start a family next year. We are considering moving back to my hometown (good sized college town with a major university) so that my mother can help out with the potential kids. We currently lived two hours away in a mid-sized Southern city.

    I work from home and plan to keep this job as long as possible. He currently works in sales and Im sure he could find a job in potential new city.

    We dont have any family in our current city, so day care is pretty much our only option for childcare during the week. We have a ton of friends in our current city and we would miss them terribly. Our friends are important to us.

    Has anyone else here ever moved back home to have help with children? Any advice?

    1. Mkb*

      I have the same situation as you currently but we chose not to move back to one of our hometowns because of our jobs (my husbands parents and mine both live 2 hours away but in different directions.) We have a 1 month old and it is already challenging not having family nearby. I love where we live now but I am very jealous of my friends who live close to their families and have access to free babysitting often.

    2. Case of the Mondays*

      Don’t assume your parents will want to help. Talk to them about it first. I know someone who moved home for help w/ the kids and her parents travel all of the time and are hardly around to help out. She can’t even rely on them for emergency backup care. I’m not saying your parents are obligated to be your backup but if that’s the purpose of the move then make sure they are on board first.

      1. Rory Gilmore's Book*

        Ive had conversations with my mom about childcare and she is very excited about watching the kids. She will be retiring soon and needs something to do anyway, so it could be a good situation. My mom and I are aligned on how to raise children as well. We wouldnt move until I am several months pregnant.

        Daycare really isnt an option because of the costs in our city and neither me or my husband are big fans of it. Neither of us were put in daycare and were cared for by our parents and grandparents growing up, so im sure that influences our views.

        1. Chickaletta*

          If your mom does become a primary caregiver to your children, it’s probably a good idea to talk to her more about how you want them raised and that she plays a disciplinarian role, not just a “grandma” role. We live near my parents and they often watch my son, but they treat him like every visit is a special occasion, they hardly ever tell him “no” and give into his requests or allow him to negotiate, they’re always taking him to museums and zoos and fast food restaurants, buy him toys on every outing … All this would be fine if they saw him a couple times a year, but when they see him 2-3 times a week it’s a problem. I’ve talked to my mom about it but she just can’t change. I think it’s hard for some grandparents to take on a parenting role; they want to have all the fun as grandparents, which is understandable – they already did the parenting thing and love spoiling their grandchildren – but if the child is in their care several times a week it creates problems. I’m now in a situation with a young kid who feels entitled to anything he wants and doesn’t like living in his own home because it doesn’t live up to grandma’s standards. Some of my friends have had similar problems. So talk to your mom. If she only wants to be fun grandm, then a regular caregiver position might not be the right role for her.

    3. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      We actually didn’t even consider moving for family help because in our case the help wasn’t offered and I suspect now that it was a very good thing we didn’t assume it was an option. If my mom was alive, it would be a totally different story but she’s not and we stayed put. Also at least one of our jobs wasn’t transferable. So from the perspective of not doing so, though we have general envy of friends whose parents are very active in the grandkids’ lives, in our case I think we have done better for ourselves as parents and as partners in marriage and parenting doing it all by ourselves with a combination of daycare and very rare help from friends. And we don’t have the added pressures of conforming to the lifestyles of our respective families which are quite different from our own because of the lack of proximity so we can raise our JuggerBaby with our values.

    4. Temperance*

      Is there good job potential where you’re thinking of moving? Will the area offer good opportunities for your future children, like great schools, sports, good extracurriculars?

      For lots of reasons, if we have a kid, we’re going to stay put (better schools, more enlightened and pro-education people, … not Scranton) rather than uproot ourselves and move near family. BUT that’s because we also can’t trust our relatives to honor our wishes when it comes to kids, and childcare here is quite good. I wouldn’t have to worry about anyone secretly taking my kids to church or something.

    5. Stellaaaaa*

      Make sure your mom fully understands what modern childcare entails (as in, I’m assuming you don’t want your eight-year-old to be keeping a key under your doormat and fending for himself after school – he’s going to be at grandma’s instead). Obviously things change, but you probably want your kids to be going over to her house every day after school until they’re at least 12 or 13 right? That’s 13 years of daily childcare, which is a lot to lay on someone who’s probably already in her 60s. Is she willing and/or able to drive them to and from school if necessary? How about soccer practice and ballet classes? Is she prepared to cook child-appropriate lunches and dinners every single day? How’s her activity level? Is’ she able to take a hypothetical kid to a park and socialize him or her with other kids (one of the main benefits of daycare)? Is she willing to help teach your kids to read?

      If all of these are things she’s willing to do, great! I’ve just seen so many situations where the grandparent either spoiled the kids or wasn’t able to provide care beyond “stay quiet on the couch while I watch my stories.” Both scenarios breed problems when it’s time to send kids to school – they’ve never been around other kids and they haven’t been “trained” to sit still during story time. It’s one thing if you just want your kid to be generally safe while you’re at work, but IMO you can’t expect her to be a third parent in this scenario, since she’s probably envisioning being a fun-time zoo museum grandma.

  20. Trixie*

    Making some major progress on purging/organizing. Repacking what is worth keeping now, and parting with what I can easily replace down the road. Space is somewhat an issue so minimizing is focus. Kitchen stuff, clothes, books. Plus in the humid south, I’m wary of mold.

  21. Myrin*

    I work part-time in an inn’s kitchen and today, while trying to navigate one of the weird dish towers my boss tends to build when returning the used tableware, four big plates crashed directly onto my big toe! The plates were miraculously unharmed but Jesus Christ, they hit my toe’s/upper foot’s joints exactly and oh, the hurt. My other boss immediately sprayed some cooling spray onto my foot which helped a lot but man, such pain in such an inconvenient place. By now, I can only feel it when I press it but man, this hurt like hell!

    1. Former Invoice Girl*

      Oooh, I’m so sorry. I used to work at a pizza place, and if these plates are anything like those were… I feel your pain.

  22. Amadeo*

    That feeling when you go to look at a new truck and trade your ‘stang and you are surprisingly calm about the whole thing as opposed to the usual ‘screwed up to the nth level, please nobody check my blood pressure right now’. Must still consult with the papa bear who has more experience with these matters but would not be upset with the deal offered if I came home with a new truck Monday (so long as they don’t try to jack me on the interest rate, I’ve got better credit than 6.5%).

    1. Sibley*

      Check what rate the bank would give you. If you walk in with a car loan approval from a bank at a good rate and tell them if they want you use their finance they need to beat the rate, they probably will.

      1. Amadeo*

        My brother used to work for one an online car sales listing service that shall go unnamed and he’s informed me where some of the lending services the dealers use were at rate-wise before he left this spring. If the place doesn’t want to go that low I can join a regional credit union by joining an alumni association and get that rate or better. I’ve grown up a little bit since I bought that Mustang and I’m fiercely determined not to make similar mistakes as last time.

  23. Tara R.*

    I need to sell a car, but it’s not running. :(

    Background: My dad made me to buy this car when I turned 16. Three years later, I still don’t drive, and it’s been sitting there for 3 years. It no longer starts. Big surprise. My dad had a friend take a peek at it a year or so ago, he says it’s a relatively minor issue, cheap fix… but I forget what he said was wrong with it and my dad is not being helpful. (My bad for not paying attention initially though.)

    I need it gone before I leave in about a month. I bought it for $500 (it was worth like $1k, dealer was a family friend) and would be happy to get like…. half my money back. Not sure if I should just sell it as is/for parts or if I should get a mechanic to take a look? How do you even bring a non-functional car to a mechanic? Getting it towed seems like… a lot of fuss for a crap car. Is it even worth selling?

    Any input welcome, otherwise just ranting into the void.

    1. LawCat*

      If you just need to be done with it, there are charities that will take cars, even cars that don’t run. Not sure if the tax write off would be at all helpful to you, but there is that possibility. Just keep all the paperwork from the transaction in case there is an issue with the car. (Basically, to prove you don’t own it. My mom donated a car and continued to get notices about the car for years.)

    2. Grumpy*

      No big deal, really. List it for sale: as is, where is.
      It’s a pretty common situation. Bargain hunters live for things like this.

    3. Tara R.*

      Update: my dad has (finally) gotten back in touch with me, and says he thinks it’s an air leak in the fuel gasket, whatever that means, plus a dead battery. Apparently if that’s it it’s not a hard fix? But he said to just list it as is, because if it turns out there are other issues it’ll be a big money sink. So I guess that’s what I’m going to do!

      1. Mander*

        Depending on the car that’s probably pretty easy to fix, if you have someone who has an idea of what they are doing (or the appropriate manual). The battery is really easy and I’d start with that first, but you might be able to sell it as-is. I bought my first car for $50 because it didn’t start, and my Dad and I were able to get it running with about $100 worth of parts (battery and a fuel pump, IIRC). I drove that car for several years before I sold it to someone else for $200.

    4. mags*

      I gave mine to a veteran’s charity. I didn’t make any money, but they do come pick up the car for you. But if you need the money, most junkyards will purchase the car and tow it for you.

      1. Tara R.*

        If I lived in a city, I would definitely think about it, but I don’t think there’s anything similar in my small town. :(

        1. Aurora Leigh*

          You might be surprised. It might be worht a google search. I also live in a small town and I know some charity was taking cars for awhile. But I think it would be easy to sell — there’s always someone looking for parts. Try area junkyards if you don’t want to put it in cl.

        2. Mags*

          I live in a small town too :) But, of course, I cold just have gotten lucky finding options in my area. Good luck!

        3. Temperance*

          There should be a Purple Heart Society near you. Google your town and car donation. I think your dad is giving you monumentally bad advice, and this car is an albatross.

        4. Library Director*

          Most non-profits that take car donations work with national organizations. We use Cars Helping America. So, it doesn’t matter the size of your community the national arm works with local towing to pick-up the vehicle. You get full credit of the sale price for taxes and the charity gets a portion.

    5. Oh Fed*

      I would definitely try to list it as is. Maybe jump the battery so that it starts (the fuel gasket shouldn’t prevent it from starting). My hubs loves cars/projects like this and buys cheap cars, fixes them up on the cheap and will drive or resell them. Lots of people do this.

    6. Moonsaults*

      My dad just sold my old car that was sitting at his house for the last 3 years, it wasn’t running either. Lots of do-it-yourself folks out there that can get her up and running, you should get your $500 back to be honest that’s a steal for any car in general.

    7. SophieChotek*

      I agree; it might be fastest to sell “as is” then go through the hassle of trying to fix and discover more things wrong with it. If you can sell “as is” (no guarantees) — I agree interest in parts would still bring car people, etc.

      I do agree donating would be good — I know a school here takes used cars for their students to work on? However, I’m not sure you’d get a tax break if you donate; if you don’t itemize your deductions, and just take the standard, then donations, etc. aren’t alway that helpful if you are trying to do donation in any way to try to “help taxes”– though of course, I support donating to causes for the sake of the cause. (Not a tax accountant though. Just what I think re: deductions and standard vs itemized)

    8. Noble*

      A mechanic would jump on this if you sold it on craiglist and list it for $1000. They will bargain you down to $600-700 so you’ll get your money back. They can easily fix it and use it or sell it for double and everybody WINS.

      Those are random numbers, but I would at least try to get back the $500, why not? That’s a steal for a car if its the battery and minor fixes that someone who understands cars can do themselves.

  24. Pennalynn Lott*

    I submit here, for everyone’s amusement, my Pokemon fail. I opened the app at home to look up the name of the Pokemon I’d caught earlier in the day at school (Tentacool) and saw that there were several critters [supposedly] nearby. So I quickly hopped up to see if I could find them, since there normally aren’t any in my neighborhood. After 10 minutes in the hot sun (it was 100F outside), I gave up and headed back. I got to within three houses of my home when it dawned on me that I should check on the egg in my incubator. So I was looking at my phone instead of the sidewalk when I came upon a section that was 3 inches higher than the one I was on. And — bam! — down I went. Full-on face plant on the concrete. [“Down goes Frasier!”]

    At the emergency room, I learned that I had badly sprained my left wrist and “road-rashed” my upper lip, nose, and palms. I’ll be wearing a compression bandage on my left wrist and hand for a few weeks, and the road-rash on my upper lip has turned into a fever blister. (And I’ve now got shingles pain radiating out from my upper spine, between my shoulder blades. Apparently that little tumble, combined with finals, was a tad too much stress for my immune system).

    So, yeah, I’m now a Poke Statistic. :-D

    1. Case of the Mondays*

      I tripped on similar sidewalk but luckily did not injure myself. I was with a coworker playing Pokemon Go. My coworker pointed out that if I wasn’t playing, I probably wouldn’t have been looking at the sidewalk anyway. I’d be looking up ahead, or at her while talking. She thinks I would have tripped either way. I hope you feel better soon and don’t end up on the news!

      1. Pennalynn Lott*

        Alas, no one I know has been that kind to me or given me an out. Everyone — from the phone rep at the insurance company (when I called to make sure my local E.R. was in-network), to the staff at the E.R., to my friends and family, to my professors — has all busted out laughing when I told them my tale of how I ended up kissing the concrete. ::sigh:: :-)

        P.S. I’m actually fine with them laughing, because that was my second reaction. . . after picking myself up and checking to see if anything was obviously broken (bones, glasses, phone, ego). Once it was clear I was going to live, and saw myself in the mirror, I started laughing, too. [“Middle-Aged Woman Face-Plants On Sidewalk While Playing Pokemon-Go”] :-D

    2. Rebecca in Dallas*

      Ouch! I tripped and fell while running once and got road rash on my chin/cheek. It hurt and looked awful for a few days bit thankfully healed quickly. The palms took a little longer and more annoying.

      Feel better soon! Hope the wrist heals quickly.

      1. Pennalynn Lott*

        Owie! My palms are pretty much healed up, except for a few pin-prick blood blisters and some bruising. But the fever blister on my upper lip is now competing with my sprained wrist for Most Annoying Body Part. It’s a dead heat at this point.

  25. Zoloft update*

    Thanks to everyone who helped me last week with my Zoloft side effects. They have subsided substantially, and I am happy to report that I already feel SO much better. The depression has lifted, I am able to focus so much better and my memory problems have started to go away, and it’s only been three weeks. I wish I’d gone on it years ago. Thank you for the support!

    1. Sophia in the DMV*

      Yay! Zoloft saved my marriage and despite the weight gain I am “normal” on it

  26. Felix*

    I’m working on getting into better shape. Currently spend 2-4 hours a week (sometimes more) on activities like: walk/dance/yoga/bike/hike but have been slowly gaining back weight since stopping running (it’s too hot here right now).

    I feel super awkward lifting weights at the gym and don’t really enjoy the gym atmosphere (the one near me is kinda a meat market). Wondering if anyone has inspirational fitness blogs they follow? I’m a woman, and not looking at getting bulky, just defined.

    1. Grumpy*

      Yes, no affiliation to any of these and YMMV:
      NYCrunningMama (she’s really speedy)
      Runsforcookies.com
      Shutupandrun
      Luluaddict
      Natrunsfar

        1. Pennalynn Lott*

          The site is awesome. It emphasizes baby steps and the fitness routines and suggested diet changes stem from that philosophy. Plus, the support group on FB is worth the price of admission all by itself.

    2. Former Invoice Girl*

      It’s not really a blog (although the site does have a blog feature as well), but I frequent fitnessblender.com – there are hundreds of free videos of all type there, and many of them don’t even require any kind of equipment.

    3. nep*

      Fitness Blender has some great stuff.
      You might like Melissa Bender — she’s a runner and she also does kick-ass home workouts / minimal equipment, she works hard, she knows her stuff, she’s very sweet and inspiring, and she regularly posts new workouts. benderfitness dot com. (She recently had a baby and it’s been great seeing / hearing her on that experience on her instagram.)

    4. Sibley*

      Also, if you’re “slowly gaining weight”, cut calories just a little bit. It probably won’t take much, but 50-100 extra calories than you need would cause slow weight gain.

      But good luck!

      1. Felix*

        Ugh, good idea. I have been eating more potatoe chips than usual lately. Anyone have ideas for a healthier substitute? I LOVE plain salted chips…

        1. Mags*

          Plantain chips maybe? I find they satisfy my potato chip craving, but aren’t as greasy and heavily salted. And plantains are a bit healthier than potatoes.

        2. Trixie*

          I keep shredded wheat mini squares around when I have the munchies. No prep required, and I have with dark chocolate for a sweet treat.

    5. DEJ*

      I love dailyburn.com. They offer a daily bodyweight 30-minute workout video along with a variety of workout programs, have a blog and thriving community with a lot of resources, and the basic package is only 13.0o per month, which is really inexpensive.

    6. Christy*

      Women don’t really get bulky unless they’re either taking steroids or working really really hard for it *and* losing the body fat. We just don’t have the testosterone necessary to bulk up like men do.

      I’ve heard that the Bikini Body Guide (ignore the name) is really effective. I personally lift at a gym following the StrongLifts 5×5 program.

      And the best way to get defined is to cut calories and lose the body fat. Sucks, but that’s how bodies work. For weight loss I’ve found Weight Watchers a really good community.

    7. AliceBD*

      The xxfitness community! It’s on Reddit (/r/xxfitness) and on a closed Facebook group. You can read the subreddit without signing up for Reddit. I don’t really do Reddit but I’m in the Facebook group; if you have Facebook you can request to join and as long as you look like a real human woman (not a spammer or a man; real profiles don’t usually have any trouble) they’ll let you in.

      Lots of the women are into weightlifting, but lots are into other stuff as well. A small but vocal subset are into weightlifting competitions and looking visibly muscle-y but there are more women who just want to be strong and look good, without the bulging muscles.

      There are lots of recommendations in the group for fitness programs to follow, diets to follow, etc if you ask. And also answers to general fitness questions, as well as support for your goals and celebrations for doing things that are hard for you even if they are easy for them.

    8. Fenchurch*

      I personally LOVE Blogilates. Lots of youtube videos, a monthly calendar, and tons of healthy recipes! And Cassie is just super duper nice.

  27. Cheryl blossom*

    To all the women (and men) out there that have decided not to have children- how did you come to that decision?

    I’ve always been very ambivalent about having kiddos. My current partner (2 years) was ambivalent when we first met, but is now adamant that he doesn’t want them at all. I don’t want his decision to be my decision by default… Also, I’m 30, so the clock is ticking a bit.

    My ex REALLY wanted to have kids with me and that was a major turn off. It wasn’t a good relationship match, so that was probably part of my early warning defense system.

    I hate/love watch the bachelor (I know, I know), and I can’t help but think lately that if I was in love with two people, and HAD TO CHOOSE, I’d probably be leaning toward the guy who wanted to have a family with me. This might just be programmed into me though from cultural expectations. However, I can’t imagine actually being pregnant and having babies. I like the idea of a family once the kids are at least 10. I also don’t want to take time out from my career for at least the next 5 years (but then you get into the risks with older pregnancies). Ugh.

    Any insight or advice from you own lives is much appreciated. Really just want to figure out what I want so I don’t begrudge bf one day.

    Also, is it crazy to be annoyed that BF doesn’t want kids, but also doesn’t want to have a vasectomy? I think it’s completely unfair that I have the burden of having to take birth control (or be faced with the abortion dilemma) when he KNOWS he doesn’t want them.

    1. Elkay*

      To me it was that there wasn’t a compelling reason to have kids, nothing outweighed all the reasons I had not to have kids. It’s never been something I pictured myself doing but maybe if circumstances were different i.e. those reasons weren’t concerns, I would have done.

      I’m with you on the vasectomy thing, although I wonder how easy it would be to get a doctor to agree to one.

      1. Cheryl blossom*

        He’s 10 years older than me, so I don’t think it would be that difficult to get a doctor to agree…

        1. misspiggy*

          In which case, if you did want kids in five years’ time (which would be fine, you’d be under the dreaded 37 marker), he’d bring a much higher risk of serious disability and miscarriage.

          1. Cheryl blossom*

            Interesting. I didn’t realize guys have the same kind of clock regarding risky pregnancies… I’ll have to read up on that now!

    2. nep*

      I never wanted to have children. I don’t recall ever coming to a decision about it — I simply never had the desire or inclination to have children.
      Have you ever considered adoption?

      1. Cheryl blossom*

        Yes, I have considered it, but not seriously. I wouldn’t be able to afford adoption expenses, unless my partner was completely on board. I don’t think BF is open to adoption from our convos. He’s slightly more open to fostering which I think would be a good fit for us. But “slightly more open” means there’s like maybe 8% chance he’s actually do it.

      2. SophieChotek*

        +1
        I’ve never wanted to have children, and never felt I’ve interacted particularly well when i see young children or babies that everyone else is oohing and aaahing on. (I get more excited about cute stuffed animals or cute photos of furry animals!) And I hate it when people say “Oh, but don’t worry you’ll love your own”.

        I think children is a lifelong commitment and investment in time and resources and emotions, etc. I know many people are fulfilled and completed by having children. But it’s never called to me.

        Re: adoption. I am huge fan of adoption (being adopted myself) but it is a huge expense.

    3. Mimmy*

      That’s a tough one, and I find doctors have the same attitude, that men don’t take some responsibility and get vasectomies (which I think are reversible?). I had a gynecologist get really angry when I told her I was thinking of getting my tubes done. I stopped going to her after that. The gyn who ultimately gave me the referral also made a comment, but it was in a much lighter tone.

      Anyway, back to the question: My husband had hoped that we would eventually have kids when we first got married. I did too at first, but was scared because of my disability. Finally, my sister and I had a conversation, and she stressed the permanence of having kids – it is forever. That nailed it for me. I was taking birth control pills for several years, but once I made that final decision, I went for the surgery. It was totally okay because my husband slowly but surely came to accept that having children would not be in our best interest: a) it would be much too emotionally difficult for me, and b) my husband is 10 years older than me–I think his dad was near 50 when hubby was born, and having an older father made him uncomfortable during school.

      Ongoing communication is absolutely critical when it comes to deciding whether to start a family. I believe couples should be certain whether or not they want to start a family; any imbalance on either side is, imho, not healthy. It shouldn’t be rushed though. Just keep talking and being patient with one another.

      Good luck in whatever you choose!

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        that men don’t take some responsibility and get vasectomies

        I knew someone who had a painful genetic condition. He did not want to have children as it was highly possible that it could be passed on. In his twenties, he couldn’t find one doctor who would let him have a vasectomy because he was “too young” and “would change his mind.” He did eventually father a child… which was not what he wanted. Last I heard, the child was showing signs of the same condition and he was trying to hide how devastated he was about it.

        I understand the oath to do no harm. I understand that it’s easy to get sued for malpractice. That some people rush into things without thinking through all the future ramifications. But surely there’s some way to put people who want a procedure like this through a process where they get therapy or something to fully declare their intention so that it can be done. People who want gastric bypass have to go through a lot of stuff, they are not approved willy-nilly. Why can’t it be the same for other kinds of operations like vasectomies and tubal ligation?

        1. Treena*

          Because society doesn’t think people, especially women, should be making conscious decisions about their reproductive lives, it’s not a priority to create such a system. Full stop.

        2. auntie_cipation*

          My friend who is 70 this year says he knew as a teenager that he didn’t want kids. He had to go through several doctors (guess this would have been in the mid-late 1960s) but he finally found one who would perform a vasectomy on a 19-year-old. He has never regretted it.

          On the one hand I understand the reluctance of a doctor with a patient of that age, the statistical probability of someone changing their mind as they get older, etc — but on the other hand if a person has the right to decide that that’s what they want, I feel like a doctor should respect that. Maybe make the patient sign a statement that they are fully informed etc. but respect the patient’s wishes.

      2. Cheryl blossom*

        Thank you for sharing this! My BF is 10 years older than me too. This definitely factors into his reluctance. And I do agree it would be a MASSIVE shift in how he’s lived his adult life, to add children in his 40s.

      3. K.*

        Having an older father also means dealing with caretaker issues earlier. My friend’s BF’s father is nearly ninety (the BF is in his early 40s) and has required care for many years. His mother is younger but not healthy and also requires care.

        The friend in question is mid-30s and talks about kids; her BF is more of the “wouldn’t we have done it by now?”mindset, and also doesn’t want to be an “old dad” like he had (his words).

    4. Oryx*

      I was in 8th grade when I first declared I didn’t want kids. I’m 34, still don’t want them, and yes it’s been a deal breaker when I’ve dated a guy who did want them. I just don’t have the mother gene. I have zero desire to be a parent and can’t see myself doing it and I like my life as it is without kids and I’m not willing to sacrifice what I have.

      I also think it’s completely unreasonable for your BF to agree with you on the no kids thing but is making you carry the burden of making sure you don’t get pregnant.

      1. Cheryl blossom*

        Interesting to hear your perspective! He started out ambivalent when we first met, and has since become 99% sure he doesn’t want any. I’m still very ambivalent- honestly I’m afraid 5-6 years from now I might regret not having children.

        I definitely don’t want to pressure him into having any (particularly since I don’t even know if I want them). However it seems like I need to decide 1) do I want this relationship enough to decide now that children aren’t in my future or 2) since I *may* want kids one day it’s better to end this thing now since I know he doesn’t want them?!

        And yeah, I kinda hate that he doesn’t want a vasectomy particulalry since he’d definitely want me to terminate any accidental pregnancy.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Context is everything. Thinking about times when you have had mixed feelings on something important, how did that play out for you? Don’t answer here, but something to mull over.
          Were the mixed feelings a sign that you did change your mind later on? Or were the mixed feelings more like a sorting process that you had to go through and you already knew your actual answer?

          Okay looking at it from another angle, how often are you knee jerk reactions the right thing for you? In this view point, think about other times you were ambivalent. How did that play out over time?

          I knew I did not want kids. But I did go through a brief spell of questioning myself on that “knowledge”. And you know what? When ever I tried reconsidering my decision, I got knots in my stomach. I think it is pretty normal to take these major life decisions and revisit them. Actually, it’s pretty healthy. We need to be sure that we are sure.

          As an aside, is there any possibility that your real question maybe about the relationship with your bf and not about kids at all? Sometimes nagging questions are a disguise for harder, more immediate questions, but not all the time and not for everyone.

          1. Cam*

            My mom taught me a helpful tactic. Flip a coin, heads you will have a kid, tails you won’t ever. And then spend some time sitting with your feelings after the flip. What is the first automatic rush of feelings? Dread when it lands on heads? Or a rush of excitement? Relief when it lands on tails? Or disappointment? I’ve used this trick so many times to figure out how I really feel about a situation. It doesn’t mean that I make the choice that my emotions would prefer. I still rely on my brain and pros/cons lists. But it gives you some valuable information of what your gut reaction to a situation is.

        2. Reba*

          Leaving aside the kids question, just looking at the relationship question:

          I am also giving your partner some serious side-eye on their birth control stance. He is ok with you bearing the risks and doing the work of prevention ALONE.

      2. Sharon in NZ*

        This is me too. From a very young child I’ve always been adament that I’ve never wanted children. I don’t find babies or young children appealing in the slightest and couldn’t think of anything worse than having a child. I also would never get into a relationship with a guy who stated that he wanted kids because what would be the point – I wasn’t changing my mind. My like to say that my biological clock is digital, it doesn’t tick.

        I’m 51 and still feel exactly the same way.

      3. Rob Lowe can't read*

        This is how I feel, too. I like interacting with my friends’ kids and my niece, but the idea of having a kid around all the time just doesn’t appeal to me. I like the things I currently spend my time, money, and energy on. My job is very demanding, and I love it, but I really don’t see how I would make it work in conjunction with parenting. (And I live in a high COL area without family nearby, so there would be no question of my staying home, or taking a less-demanding, lower-paying job – not that I’d even want to. We would need my income to afford a kid.)

        1. Cheryl blossom*

          I honestly don’t know how the friend’s in my life with kids do it financially. I live in a really high COL area and enjoy a (very) small disposable income. That would disappear and likely debt would be involved if kids came into the picture. I make above average salary for my career at my stage in this city….

    5. Jessica (tc)*

      For me, it just was right. I can’t explain it, but I’ve known since I was seven that I didn’t want to have children. As an adult, I’ve examined it many times, and I have no desire to be pregnant or have children at home. (I have always worked around kids at my jobs, although usually middle/junior high or older, which I generally prefer.) My mom once asked me if I’d consider adopting an older child, which made me think more about it, but I just do not want to have my own children at home.

      There are too many reasons than I could possibly list here that I’ve come up with, but I think the biggest one for me was just…I just don’t want to have my own children. I’m mid-30s now, and I have never felt that desire. I’ve quit trying to give others reasons (because I’ve been asked many times “why?”), because the major reason is that not having children feels right to me. The thought of having children feels dreadfully wrong, even though I have no problems with children or with working with them on a daily basis.

      I’ve talked to a lot of people about having/not having children once they know I’m a non-parent by choice, and a lot comes down to looking ahead 5-10 years to see where you see yourself. Do you see yourself with an infant, a toddler, a child, a pre-teen? What scares you about it? What do you think you might like bout it?

      I hate having birth control solely on women, and I was lucky that my husband agreed. As a matter of fact, when we saw all of the side effects and problems I was having on any number of BC options, he just said, “Forget this. I’ll take care of it to avoid these issues.” Even though his procedure did require him to be knocked out during and a short hospital stay due to some previously unknown complications, he still wanted to be the one to take care of the permanent option, because he knew how much I had already gone through and he understood how much more complicated the permanent option for a woman is. His doctor never even asked about whether I cared or not and made it super easy even though we were both under 30 at the time. Most doctors I’d talked to about my options attempted to dissuade me from permanent options, cautioning me to “think about your husband” or “what if your husband changes his mind” or “you’re too young to be thinking about this right now” and so on. For my husband, it was “I want to do this” and the doctor just moved the procedure forward. Done.

      1. Cheryl blossom*

        You sound like such a great couple!! Thanks so much for sharing your story. I wish I had that gut feeling either way… It would definitely make the choice point so much easier!

        1. Jessica (tc)*

          Thank you! :) I think he’s a keeper, and I was super glad to find a guy who felt the I did about children.

          I often do feel lucky that it was cut and dried for me: I don’t want kids. I have a lot of friends who were ambivalent about it and didn’t know where to go from there. I’m glad you’re talking to people on both sides of the issue (parents and non-parents), because it really gives you a perspective on both sides.

          For what it’s worth, a close friend of mine and I always joked that she’d take any kids she had from birth to age 9, and I’d take over after that. I’ve always preferred older kids, and she’s always preferred babies and younger kids. We are now both non-parents by choice, which I think has a lot to do with looking at 18+ years of parenting and not having breaks. :)

          1. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

            This makes me laugh because I had a similar deal with friends as a teen that if children happened (I hadn’t decided yet if I wanted them) we’d trade them around at different life stages. A shame that didn’t work out ;)

    6. Stonkle*

      I sort of always knew. I have an anxiety disorder and I get overwhelmed easily, especially by sounds. I think I’d be an irritable mother and very unhappy. I think children deserve better.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      I want them NOW. Like RIGHT NOW. I want to have it. I’d love to adopt one too, but I want to have ONE. It’s down to the wire! Hurry up, universe and send me someone to have it with!!!

      And no, you are not crazy to be annoyed. It sucks that we’re the ones who have to carry most of that burden. But you said when you met, he was ambivalent, and I wonder if maybe he doesn’t see that as too permanent with someone he’s not married to. Deep down, he may still think it’s a possibility, no matter how remote, and not want to completely rule it out.

      Maybe a compromise could be that he pay for your BC. One of my exes offered to do that once, and wow, I was really impressed. I said no, because it was really cheap for me to get it at the time and it wasn’t necessary, though it was a very cool gesture. And could you do the implant or something that’s less fuss?

      1. Cheryl blossom*

        I think you hit the nail on the head… Which is so super annoying!! Like is your 1% possibility of wanting to have kids worth more than me being on hormones for my entire life?!!!

        Thankfully my insurance covers the cost of my BC, and he pays for the condoms (yeah we are THAT careful). For me it’s more about being on hormonal BC forever … When he could just get snipped…

        1. Cheryl blossom*

          Also, I really hope someone comes into your life soon so you can have the kiddos you are dreaming of :)!

        2. neverjaunty*

          That is, in fact, exactly what he is telling you: that he is ambivalent enough, about being a father or the surgery (or both) that he is willing to stick you with altering *your* body for decades, and putting up with the side effects and health risks of that.

          Does that sound like somebody you want to be with for the long term?

          1. Chickaletta*

            ^^ THIS. And to add, does it sound like somebody you want to be the father of your children? You can always end a marriage, but you can never take away the fact that he would still be their father.

          2. Cheryl blossom*

            Yeah, I hear you. I think he’s super wonderful, but definitely growing in awareness about what women have to deal with and literally just hasn’t thought about it until I started talking about what it’s like for me.

            1. neverjaunty*

              ….he’s 40, and he has literally never thought about the impact on women of having to be responsible for birth control?

              1. Cheryl blossom*

                I don’t think this is as unreasonable as you are making it sound. If a man is from a family whose mother/sister(s) don’t discuss personal health, if his friends don’t discuss it, and his previous partners didn’t either (maybe the pill was awesome for them, as it is for tons of women). His thoughts around BC in relationships would be limited to asking if she is on BC. I don’t think it’s unreasonable that he hasn’t spent time reading/researching/thinking more about this.

                I’m not saying it’s the women in his life’s fault, but just similar to how I know very little about specific men’s health issues because 1) I’m not a man, 2) I don’t have men in my life that openly talk about prostate cancer or what have you. It’s not that I don’t care, it just doesn’t register on my radar. I realize that BC is different as it ultimately DOES affect both partners, but the world on general doesn’t see it that way still.

                I would be concerned if my partner wasn’t willing to talk about it with me, but he listens, contributes and we are having an ongoing discussion around it.

    8. Sibley*

      If your partner knows he doesn’t want kids and that he won’t change his mind, then yes, he should get snipped. It’s incredibly selfish of him that he won’t. Since he won’t, you need to make it “painful” for him. Right now, the only thing he has to endure is you asking about it. So, he pays for the birth control. Or he has to use a condom (gasp!) EVERY time because you’re tired of the side effects (but secretly stay on them?).

      I am about 98% sure that I don’t want kids. I have an IUD currently, and that’s working for now. This has been a gradual self-learning process for me.

      1. Cheryl blossom*

        I mentioned up-thread that my BC is covered, so there is no cost for me. We also use condoms (he pays). I also really appreciate what Owly is saying down thread about how it’s hard to imagine how protective men feel about their genitals. (seriously, preach!). While it seems like a trivial decision, and easy for me to feel jaded that he hasn’t considered it, I honestly don’t know if I’d be cool with my partner asking me to sterilize myself (even if I was SURE I didn’t want kids). It is a pretty big decision… and I do want to be respectful of his body too.

        1. Mreasy*

          That’s fair – but tubal ligations are so much more invasive than vasectomies. I’m not sure they can even be compared!

    9. C Average*

      My sister was born when I was seven. That’s when I knew. Man, do I not like babies AT ALL. And pregnancy creeps me the hell out. And I’m cripplingly emetophobic and have been my whole life, so the idea of signing up for a condition that probably involved puking and then being responsible for small creatures who would probably puke and need to be comforted and cleaned up afterward? Total deal-breaker. Later in life I got seriously into distance running, and that became one more reason to not be inclined toward pregnancy.

      I do like kids quite a bit, when they’re older. I married a guy with two kids from a previous marriage. They live with us and I have a good relationship with both of them. (They’re teenaged girls, so I can’t claim it’s all kittens and rainbows. That would be unnatural. But we like each other and I think I’m mostly a good influence in their lives.)

      I, too, wish more guys would get snipped. For couples who are committed to being child-free, it’s a relatively easy one-and-done approach to birth control.

      I spent my twenties and most of my thirties trying to find a doctor who would tie my tubes, but nobody was willing. Finally, at 35, I marched into my OB-GYN’s office and said, “Look, I want to have the operation, and I want to have it now. I don’t want to have to run out my biological clock first. The pill makes me feel like a zombie, the IUD makes me anemic, and condoms are disgusting. I want to enjoy stress-free nookie! I don’t want kids. Not ever. Can you please do this or refer me to someone who will?” A month later, I had my Essure procedure, and I have never regretted it for a single second.

      1. Oryx*

        I suspect I could talk my doctor into it. I am 34 & had to be taken off of the pill for medical reasons so we were discussing other options and if she could have inserted an IUD right then and there I think she would have so taking it a step further might not be that difficult.

      2. Cheryl blossom*

        Yeah, pregnancy really creeps me out too. As does throwing up. My friends with kids have all told me horror stories…. I think it’s SO awesome that you have step kids. While I’m sure it’s challenging, it sounds like it could be a really great way to have children in your life without the obvious issues we’ve already mentioned . I’d love to have young people in my life, but I don’t have any nieces/nephews and likely never will. My partner’s nieces/nephews all live across the country, so there isn’t much opportunity there either. I see my friend’s kids fairly often, but it’s not quite the same as they have a lot of family close by so I’m not really needed as an “aunt”.

      3. Lindsay J*

        Yeah, pregnancy freaks me out and pretty much always has. I never wanted to touch pregnant women’s bellies or anything like that – it was just too weird for me. And the only things I ever hear about pregnancy are horror stories – morning sickness, swelling, pain, etc.

        I also don’t think anything about dealing with a baby sounds enjoyable. I like my sleep. I don’t like poop or pee or puke.

        I think I could enjoy having a kid from age like 5 or 6 and up.

    10. all fall down*

      We don’t have kids. I grew up taking care of younger siblings and cousins, so I knew what kids entail; there’s no fantasy or romance to it for me. And for me, there was no “I want kids”- it had to be a “we”, a partnership deal. I would only have kids if my husband was in it, 1000%. I think it’s Carolyn Hax who says people thinking about parenthood should ask themselves, would you want yourselves as parents? And I love my husband, and I like myself fine, but we’re on the neurotic side, we like our routines, and we like time by ourselves. Oh, and my husband is impossible without 9 hours of sleep per night. We do great with our cat, but kids? We could’ve done it, but I love our life, full of travel and adventure and fun and being neurotic about our cat.
      And fwiw, when I was having trouble finding the right birth control, he volunteered to get a vasectomy.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        And for me, there was no “I want kids”- it had to be a “we”, a partnership deal.

        That’s how I feel about it–I want them, but I don’t want to do it alone. I want to do it with someone who also wants it. With me.

        1. anon for this*

          I was ambivalent about kids for most of my life. But then I met a guy (who has been my husband for 20+ years) who is an amazing all around partner. I wanted his children. I would never have done it on my own but I love doing it with him.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I have never been ambivalent about it–I always thought I would have at least one kid (and f*ck you, Universe–there is nothing I’m doing that requires me not to!!). But I just did not want to do it by myself. If that were the case, I would have just picked someone and gotten pregnant a long long time ago.

            When I say I want a family, people often think I just want a baby. NO. I want love and companionship for MYSELF as well.

      2. Cheryl blossom*

        Yeah taking care of kids either makes it or breaks it for you, doesn’t it! I hated babysitting kids under the age of 8/9 when I was a teen. And when everyone coos over babies, I’m like “okay, so he’s just a weird looking tiny human… that cries ALL THE TIME.” However, I LOVE the idea of having kids post age 8/9.

        I might still just be in the honeymoon stage, but I actually think we’d be pretty awesome at parenting. We would balance each other out nicely, and I think we’d raise lovely, well-balanced, respectful people. (but then there’s the crap-shoot of health issues, mental health issues, personality etc. you can be the best parents in the world and still raise a really troubled person).

      3. Sam E.*

        This is the perfect question. Mr. Sam E. and I have been struggling for months now about if being parents is part of our identities. I don’t sleep well to begin with, and I’m a giant pain to deal with the morning after one of my worse nights. Mr. Sam E. and I are both neurotic, but in different ways – and of course we find each other’s neuroses frustrating. I can’t imagine bringing in a third party to deal with that, on top of our mental health issues, and both of our families’ histories with substance abuse.

    11. Red*

      I’ve known I didn’t want kids since I was eight.

      Any individual – male or female – who doesn’t want kids should make responsible steps toward negating the possibility as much as they can, independent of their partner’s decisions. I don’t mean dishonestly. But for me, if I don’t want kids, it’s my responsibility to be on birth control, unless and until I am in a situation where I am convinced sufficiently that it is no longer necessary. If someone doesn’t want kids, but isn’t willing to take responsibility for that fact — especially guys, who don’t necessarily have a voice in the abortion discussion and have no more votes once they let their little swimmers out and can therefore end up on the hook for 18 years of child support — that person is not terribly bright.

      1. Cheryl blossom*

        You have a really good point here that I’ve been trying to verbalize – that if a guy knows he doesn’t want kids, he should do everything he can to mitigate that from happening. Condoms aren’t enough if you KNOW, particularly since they don’t really have the same voice in an abortion discussion.

    12. T*

      For me, it’s just that having kids is not the life I want. Life without kids seems better. And with such a huge thing as bringing a kid into the world, I don’t think it’s right to do it unless you’re all in, 100%.

    13. Pennalynn Lott*

      I think I read too many science fiction books when I was little, because the thought of something. . . someONE. . . growing inside me creeps me right the f*ck out. Plus, normally, when something starts growing inside of you, you race to the doctor to have it cut out.

      I used to think that maybe I’d adopt one day, but the older I got (like, from 17 on) I realized I just really don’t enjoy children. I can’t handle the noise, the mess, the emotional melt-downs, the 24/7 demand on your time and attention. (And the repetition of EVERYTHING. Yes, I know you know every single word to your favorite movie / song / book. No, I do not need to hear them, AGAIN. And, no, I do not need to see you twirl and twirl and twirl and twirl and twirl and twirl. I got it the first time.)

      I’ll be 50 in October [menopause FTW!!] and haven’t once regretted not having children. I’m sure it’ll bite me in @ss in 30 years, when there’s no one to take away my drivers license and force me into an assisted living home, but my plan is to make enough money that I can pay people to do that for me. ;-)

      1. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

        It’s a good plan. Plus having children is absolutely no guarantee that you will have them there to do those things. When we chose to try to have one, we were never thinking of the kid as a future caretaker or as our retirement policy. That is still our responsibility and besides, I’ve seen lots of awful things happen between childhood and their seeing you off into the sunset. They might not make it (Several of my close relatives died young), they may become terrible people (my sibling is one) who requires more care than they’ll ever put forth for others.

        It’s probably not a huge surprise that my goodnight wish to my darlin toddler is “don’t be a sociopath” most nights.

        We have a ton of child free by choice friends and you know what? The older ones have us. When it’s time, we will make sure they’re taken care of. Because that’s what friends are for.

        1. Cheryl blossom*

          You sound like such a lovely friend! And +1 on children not being future caretakers …. I worked in an retirement home for a while with over 300 residents and it was *unusual* for any of them to have family visitors more often than once a month for like an hour … it was really sad.

            1. Cheryl blossom*

              Totally appropriate! Most of those retirement homes have a volunteer program for companions (walking/ talking /visiting/reading/playing cards). If you are interested, you can call general reception (or pop in) and ask if they have a volunteer program. It seriously makes a huge differences to the residents!

    14. Owly*

      I never felt at all inclined to have kids because the thought of being pregnant repulses me and I really dislike babies. I think you kind of have to trust your instincts and if you are even questioning whether you might want kids, don’t give up on the idea just because your bf is adamant.

      About vasectomies, I had this same problem with my last boyfriend. He just ended up not wanting to make any long-term decisions (one major reason we broke up) and also had anxiety about medical procedures. It was also unclear if a doctor would do the procedure for a young man with no kids. My previous doctor refused to tie my tubes because I was under 35 with no kids.

      1. Moonsaults*

        My brother tried to get a vasectomy in his 20s, around 24 or 25 I’d guess, they told him absolutely not until he was at least 27. Then he was 27 and too busy or broke to get it. He still doesn’t want kids but hasn’t been in a long term relationship in so long it just hasn’t ever been a priority either.

        My best friend has 6 kids and they absolutely don’t want more…yet it’s been forever trying to get the procedure done. It’s actually the 3 days of downtime you’re supposed to have afterwards that’s keeping her husband from finally getting it taken care of, argh. heaven forbid you cannot ride your bike for a couple days! “BUT I RIDE IT EVERY DAY”, stawp, it’s that or have a seventh baby…priorities.

        1. Owly*

          I think it is also hard to overestimate how protective men feel about their genitals. It is a serious thing to subject that areas to a surgery. When I had problems with an IUD, I kept hoping that it somehow made me sterile (unfortunately, it did not). However, most men are not going to be happy about permanently changing their reproductive organs and it shouldn’t be treated like a trivial decision.

          1. chickabiddy*

            Probably somewhat TMI, but I had a (wanted, planned) baby and it definitely changed my reproductive organs. I get that most men don’t want to mess with their junk, but women’s bodies are affected as well.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              It’s not selfish if he’s truly ambivalent. He might be thinking that his feelings could change in the future–what if the relationship doesn’t work out, and five years from then he meets someone he DOES want to have kids with?

              I don’t like people saying it’s not a big decision for men because women’s bodies are more complex/hormones/blah blah blah/we have it harder. That sounds a bit sexist to me.

        2. Cheryl blossom*

          Massive eye roll about the bike riding… sometimes I think men must actually be from another planet or at least a different evolutionary line….

    15. Moonsaults*

      My BF and I are both in a similar spot. We don’t not want kids but we also don’t want kids, you know? It’s one of those things that is just kind of a mutual thing given we’re both career oriented. Neither wants to slow down a career for some kids, that’s for sure. However it’s not to the point of anyone getting tubes tied or snipped! So I understand his POV as well. I’m on the pill and have PCOS, which can make things difficult but also is certainly not a guarantee by any means.

      You can always adopt or do foster care in the future. That’s what my heart is mostly pointed at if the cards were to fall into the right place. From newborn to 7, i’m the worst. I love my two oldest nieces and hanging out with them is actually fun, they’re 10-12. Their little sisters…I love them, don’t get me wrong but they tire me out and I hate taking them anywhere. The 5 year old cried her way into going to an event with us and then promptly lost interest when she saw that we were indeed sitting and watching something she didn’t understand >_< She was behaved at least because she knew better but then I felt badly all the same.

    16. Rebecca in Dallas*

      Like you, I’ve always been ambivalent about having children. I like kids but just have never had the desire to have my own. I always assumed that would change as I got older but it really didn’t.

      My husband originally wanted to have kids and when we got married (ten years ago), we just assumed that we would eventually have kids. But as time went on, he didn’t feel as strongly about having kids (haha, I really think reading about the cost of raising children had a lot to do with that!). In addition, I started thinking really seriously about how pregnancy might impact my health. My mom had serious complications when she was pregnant with both me and my sister and her doctor told her she should be done with having kids by the time she was 30 (she was 25 when she had me). I have some of the same medical issues as her side of the family, so it was something I wanted to take seriously. (And yes, I know that adoption or surrogacy would be an option.)

      So around the time I turned 30, my husband and I decided that we still weren’t eager about having kids so we decided we weren’t going to. Honestly, I think if either of us felt strongly that we should have kids, we would. But we are happy just the two of us, plus our menagerie of animals. :)

      1. Rebecca in Dallas*

        Oh and my husband has absolutely volunteered to get a vasectomy, it is so much less invasive than a tubal ligation. I’ve been on Depo Provera for about 5 years and love it for reducing the frequency of migraines that I get. So it hasn’t been a hurry to get the vasectomy done.

      2. Cheryl blossom*

        You sound so calm and resolved about this – I can’t wait until I’m at that place. I also hear you on the medical issues. My mother also has some medical stuff that was exasperated by childbirth… while I don’t have her issues, childbirth could be the “trauma” that causes onset… so that’s another factor for me to consider.

        I wish there were more couples in my life without kids, it’s hard to imagine this future without any real role models. Also, EVERYONE and their frickin mother keep asking me if partner and I want to have kids, and why we don’t want to have them. I wish people would mind their own business about it and just let me live out my relationship in the way that works best for us!

        1. Rebecca in Dallas*

          If it helps, they will eventually stop asking. We celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary this year and hardly anyone asks about it anymore. They figure that if we were going to have them, we’d have had them by now. For people I know well, I’m just honest and tell them we aren’t planning on having children and may or may not go into the reasons why (just depends on how comfortable I am with that person).

          I have a few stock answers for people that I don’t know well and have no business asking me! “Oh, don’t worry, you’ll be the first to know!” is my favorite. They tend to get the sarcasm. But usually I’ll just deflect and ask them about their own kids or start talking about our pets.

          The older I get, the more it bothers me that people ask so brazenly! I have several friends who struggled with infertility to varying degrees and I know it was like a knife in their heart whenever someone would rib them about not having kids. Your reproductive organs are not anyone else’s business unless they volunteer information!

    17. Finny*

      Both myself and the husband are firmly childfree. We’ve both known since childhood that we don’t want kids, and neither of us have ever liked kids, either, not even when we were kids ourselves.

      So I’m not sure whether we actually decided not to have kids, or if it’s just been part of us our whole lives, like me being asexual, so this probably isn’t of any use to you.

    18. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      Well, I used to always want kids. My dream life was the job I’m in (hard to figure that one out ;)), a husband, a cute house, a dog, and a few kids.

      I have the job…yup, but life happened. I started getting sick at 18, got diagnosis of a chronic illness number 1. Number 2 diagnosis happened around 8 years later. So, I’m chronically ill (though actually quite healthy…other than being overweight). I do get tired more easily, and have to spend a lot of time on the couch when I am not working. But I can clean, cook, take care of life (I guess I could just be lazy too haha….), and am very fortunate in those respects. At the end of the day though, I can’t imagine passing anything on to my kids, and my heart breaks at the idea of having to tell my kids time and again that, no, mommy can’t play because she doesn’t feel good :(

      While others make it work, I realized I couldn’t do it. I waffle sometimes, but 98% of the time, I know I am making the best decision for these kids. That’s what its about anyways, you know. We have kids because we want them, but often fail to think about whether they’re getting the best life out of it.

    19. Cute Lil UFO*

      I knew as much as I could at 3 or 4 that I didn’t want them. I had zero desire to be a mother. Zero baby dolls in my toy box. My parents have also never pressured me or tried to change my mind.

      First BF absolutely wanted kids. He was determined to have both his two perfectly planned kids by 26, with myself being at 24. By the time that convo came around I knew that this relationship was not a healthy or safe one and had finally woken up and started formulating my escape plan. I caught him popping my birth control out and confronted him. He told me I already took it. I knew I didn’t because I took it at the same time every night. That wasn’t just a bullet dodged but rather an entire armada.

      Any desire to have kids was 100% gone after I accidentally got pregnant in my last three months of college classes. I knew I had missed a pill but because I am a stickler for reading contraindications it said I was fine. What was not fine was one of the medications I take for bipolar disorder, which for some reason was not as widely reported. It was lamictal, for the curious. It is reported to decrease your body’s absorption of certain medications, OCPs being one of them.

      I used to have the attitude of “man, how do you go so long and not know you’re pregnant?” like that I Didn’t Know I was Pregnant show. It was very very rough. I was vomiting after nearly every meal, which in turn meant I was not keeping down enough lithium, etc. I explained away so much because the last three months of college were so draining. I had no reason to believe otherwise.

      I ended up taking a couple tests toward the end that were positive, positive, negative, and so on. Inconsistent stuff. I then realized I was having a miscarriage. It was frustrating finding support afterwards because in what I could find there aren’t really groups for women who miscarried but weren’t keen on kids. There were still a lot of heavy thoughts on the matter.

      Just absolutely never again. I don’t respond well to medicines safer for pregnant bipolar women, I really don’t see myself raising a kid with the same kind of issues I had, wouldn’t want to subject them to that, and also just plain have no desire for kids.

    20. matcha123*

      I grew up thinking about what type of parent I’d want to be, since it’s assumed that people will have kids. But the more I thought about it, the less appeal it had. I’ve never been boy crazy, and the idea that I need to hunt down the perfect mate doesn’t appeal to me.
      Moreover, the issues that come with being pregnant, giving birth and raising a kid are just a huge turnoff. We expect parents to give themselves to their child, and we bring down parents who we accuse of not doing enough.

      I notice a lot of parents forget about what it was like to be a kid. They fogot about how annoying they were, they forgot about the stupid things they did, they forgot so much that they’re then surprised that kids need to be taught basic things.

      I have so many reasons not to have a kid, but the final…err three reasons are as a female, I hate upper middle class moms. They are classist, racist and cliquish. The second has to do with schooling and the effort to get a kid into a good school. And the last is that I just really have no respect for women who choose to be mothers.

      1. chickabiddy*

        “And the last is that I just really have no respect for women who choose to be mothers.”

        Why exactly is that? I understand and respect choosing not to parent. I also understand, respect, and agree with (I had a kid in my 30s; I’ve seen it from both sides) the frustration often expressed here that parents’ kid-related commitments are taken more seriously than the commitments of the child-free. But wow. More than half of American women have kids, and I’m assuming that many of them made a conscious choice. That’s a lot of women to have no respect for.

        1. matcha123*

          It comes from what I saw and experienced growing up.
          I saw mothers who would cheat kids to make sure their child came in first. Mothers that spoke publicly about “the children” which was just a front to push their own agendas which had nothing to do with child welfare and everything to do with their pride.
          The phrase “as a mother…” just became another way to push your personal needs. I saw so much cliquishness and petty fighting between mothers who spent so much time talking about the children, but would throw other peoples children under the bus so their kid could get better grades or higher SAT scores.

          If we lived in a society that truly valued the input of all members, a society where the sucess of the neighbor’s kid was just as important as your own, then I would be singing a different tune. But, what I see are people clamoring to get theirs by whatever means possible and I have no respect for that.

          Finally, I’d have more respect for parents of both genders if they were committed to raising respectful children who were not racist or classist. But again, I don’t see that on average. Certainly there are exceptions, but when I look around I don’t see the exceptions.

          Is it hard to be a parent? Yes. But I don’t respect people for choosing to do a hard job. Respect is earned and not something to be given just because someone had a kid. I also have no respect for smokers, if it makes any difference.

      2. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

        Huh, ok I get not wanting them because yes, they’re a ton of work. But I’m confused why you point out how parents are damned if they do and damned if they don’t, but then conclude that you specifically have no respect for women who choose to have kids. What’s the basis for that?

        That statement also suggests that you wouldn’t respect your own matrilineal line for having chosen to have kids as well, including you, is that the case?

        And are men exempt from this non-respect for choosing to become fathers?

        1. matcha123*

          “That statement suggests…” yes, I do not have respect for that line. I think they could have lived much better lives by not having kids. Do I think they are bad people? I’ve never met them and never will. They were probably nice enough, but having kids did not improve their lives in any way.
          I didn’t mention men because I’m not a man, but no respect for them either. Especially because the bar to be considered a good father is so low.
          As a woman who could potentially give birth, I don’t have respect for other women who know the bar for a good dad is low, but still choose to become mothers and then feel frustrated that a man changing a diaper is seen as great, but a mom doing the same is not.

          1. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

            I think I’m most confused by what appears to be a sweeping judgment of all parents and mothers in particular not deserving respect specifically because they chose to have kids based on what you’ve observed of some mothers who do sound like awful people. I’d point out that a, usually terrible people were terrible before they chose to have kids, it’s just more obvious when they do have them. And b, no one I know has ever expected respect for choosing to be a mother, nor do I confer it solely because someone chooses to be a parent. It seems odd to be judged entirely on the one choice I made to raise a child. It also seems odd to declare their lives would have been better without children, I’m not sure that anyone but the parents in question can really speak to that.

            I respect people for the sum total of who they are and what they do (are they good people? do they do keep their promises? do they have compassion and generosity for those who have less? are they contributing to the world in a positive way?) not based on whether or not they chose to procreate.

            It seems odd, then, to go in the other direction and conclude that all who choose to procreate must be selfish and grabby people. My husband is an amazing equal partner but he was that long before having kids, and not because the bar was set low for him. There is nothing that I do as a mother that he doesn’t also do for our child, other than the actual pregnancy and childbirth, and I certainly don’t revere him for changing diapers. I respect and love him because he’s a good person to begin with and that translates into being someone who rightfully doesn’t see his contributions as anything but normal and the baseline for being a good father. He’s happy to parent, not “babysit”.

            But we aren’t defined by our choice to have kids nor do we expect special privilege because of it. Being parents doesn’t absolve us of our responsibility to try and leave the world a better place than we found it, if anything, it’s even more incumbent on us to do good and set a good example for our next generation.

            I don’t know what quality of people you’re exposed to daily, it seems like not good people, but I’d argue that just because some people suck, have children, and continue to suck, doesn’t mean good people turn to crap for having kids.

            1. neverjaunty*

              Some childfree women buy into the sexist mindset that women who do anything but imitate go-getter, freewheeling men (who leave home life and childcare to others) are stupid, contemptible cows. That’s all.

              1. matcha123*

                I am not sure what you mean by that. I just think that it’s incredibly sad, disappointing that otherwise intelligent women would willingly give up their lives for something that may or may not pay off. And I find it sad that men are not men are allowed to continue working good jobs, while women are expected to sacrifice everything…their personalities, their careers, their souls.

            2. matcha123*

              If you are happy with the choices you’ve made, I don’t think there’s anything that could convince you otherwise. I haven’t met every single person in the world. And I even went back to look up the definition of ‘respect’ to make sure that I wasn’t using it incorrectly.

              It’s great that your husband is taking his proper role as a parent, but I would argue that in the grand scheme of parenting in the US and world at large, he’s in the minority. And I’m certain that people would praise him for doing things that you are a mom are expected to do.

              In terms of friends, I tend to keep good people around me. However, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t terribly disappointed when intelligent people chose to give up on life and have a kid.
              Growing up I had a first-hand view of how parents view their own children and the children of others. Given the choice, joining those types of people is not something I’d do.

              I’d add that while I don’t respect moms or dads for being parents, that doesn’t mean that I go out of my way to treat them badly.

              1. hedonia*

                “Give up on life”? What a creepy way to view having kids. If someone doesn’t want kids, I 100% support them in that decision. No one should EVER have kids if they don’t want to — that would be grossly unfair to everyone involved.

                But I didn’t “give up on life” when I had kids. I used my intelligence to make a decision about what KIND of life I wanted to have, and that life included having kids. My particular life is much richer for having had them.

                My kids are people, not pets or accessories, and I take the responsibility of raising them and teaching them the tools of self-sufficiency very seriously.

                I hate to say it, but your view of parents seems to be warped and prejudiced. You judge what kind of person a woman is just by whether or not she has kids, which is unfair. I hope you’ll reconsider.

      3. C Average*

        I wouldn’t go so far as to say I have no respect for women who choose to be mothers, but I do resent the way society seems to feel that all mothers are automatically deserving of great respect, that it’s the toughest job in the world, blah blah blah.

        I’m not saying it’s not tough: having raised someone else’s kids for several years now, I’m well aware that it’s tedious, emotionally laborious, unrelenting, thankless work much of the time. But I see a lot of moms using this truth as a kind of catch-all excuse for obnoxious behavior: being late, being flaky, being insanely self-centered on their own behalf or on behalf of their child, being inconsiderate of other people and other children, etc., and then pulling out the “but my child!” card when called on any of it.

        You want my respect? Be kind. Be fair. Keep your promises. Consider the needs of others. I don’t really care whether you have kids or not. That doesn’t factor into the amount of respect I have for you.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Well said.
          I am not a big fan of people using things to get leverage in any manner. Someone wants help, I will do what I can to help out. No need to leverage children/commitments/etc. I tend to think when people try to use something as leverage that is because they basically believe they will not get help UNLESS they have something to force the issue along. That cynical attitude jumps out for me.

          I also feel that it’s important to remember that whatever is happening, someone else HAS experienced it before us. I had a family member who thought she was the first person on earth to ever get pregnant. There’s not a lot I am going to be able to do with to help this family member. Conversely, other family members seemed pretty pleased when I turned up with little gift bags filled with miscellaneous baby items. Differences in people.
          It’s the attitude of the person that makes the difference in my mind. It is interesting to watch two people having similar circumstances, such as having a baby or having a dying parent or whatever and watch how their attitude really impacts how things play out.

        2. Temperance*

          Yep. My own mother is mentally ill, and a jerk. I am immediately distrustful of women who make sure that you know that they’re mothers within 5 minutes of meeting them, because that’s something that she did. She also did all the things that you cite here, except doing it on our behalf. She did it for herself. (She managed to get pregnant right before one of us would be going into kindergarten, so that she could avoid working, and then she would make whoever was older do all of her household chores, except actually operating the washer. She would also avoid volunteering in our classrooms or doing other “mom” stuff because, BABY NEEDS ME AT HOME. For those hours. I’ll never, ever forgive her for passing up a job offer at a local college that would have kept me from having student loan debt, because my then 3-year-old sister “needed” her at home.)

        3. chickabiddy*

          “a kind of catch-all excuse for obnoxious behavior”

          Well, yeah. Obnoxious people will be obnoxious, and they will always have an excuse for their obnoxiousness. For some people, that excuse is their children. It’s highly unlikely, IMO, that they would be *less* obnoxious if they weren’t parents: they would just blame it on something else.

          It is true that young children can sometimes stuff up schedules by getting sick or injured, or having a babysitter no-show. That is unfortunate, but a parent who is a good person would apologize profusely and try to make amends however possible and not expect everybody else to quietly accept being inconvenienced because it was a KID issue. That parent should also recognize that other people have disruptions in their own lives and offer the same kind of understanding that she expects.

    21. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      I don’t think it’s crazy at all. I have never understood why it was entirely on the woman to deal with the birth control if the man doesn’t want kids.

      We have at least a dozen friends I can think of off the top of my head who do not want and will not have kids. I remember them sharing reasons like: don’t like kids, like them fine but never wanted to bring them home to keep, health reasons, ambivalence meant they weren’t going to commit to something they couldn’t uncommit from. They were all quite comfortable in knowing that was the decision they made even before meeting their partners.

      There has been at least one husband of all these friends who chose to have the vasectomy instead of making his wife get her tubes tied with the side effects she might encounter. He was fine with the decision and totally fine post-op.

      1. Cheryl blossom*

        Where are all these childfree couples?! I only know maybe two… but I don’t know them well and suspect they are actually going to start trying soon. Maybe I should start a club in my city to try and meet other childfree couples. I have numerous friends that are childfree, but they are desperate to find someone to marry and start having kiddos with immediately, which is definitely not the same as knowing people that are in a childfree relationship by choice.

        1. Oryx*

          We exist! My boyfriend and I had the kid conversation pretty early and we know we do not want kids at all. I recently had to go off the pill for medical reasons so we’re talking about some more long term solutions to make sure I don’t get pregnant.

          I do have friends who have kids with their spouses. I do like kids — I just don’t want them for myself — so having friends with kids means I can hang out with them when I want and hand them to back to their parents :)

        2. Pennalynn Lott*

          I, too, have at least three dozen friends who are also childfree by choice. Not all of them are coupled, but most either are or want to be. It probably helps that (a) I’m 49 [my friends range in age from mid-20’s to late-60’s, but most are close to my age and so have already firmly figured out where they stand on becoming parents], (b) I’m an atheist [so there’s no religious element to the expectation of procreation among my core friend base], and (c) I live in a big city [which allows me plenty of choices when it comes to picking who to hang out with].

          Starting a Childfree-By-Choice Meetup group in your city might be the way to go.

        3. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

          Oh my goodness, at LEAST half of my good friends are childfree by choice. They’re scattered all over the country. It’s actually a surprise to me when people say they *don’t* know anyone who doesn’t want kids.

          Like Oryx, many of them like or even love kids, they just don’t want to keep them. Those friends, even more than friends with kids who understand what we’re going through, are blessed blessed souls because they are happy to come visit even with a rampaging JuggerBaby (who isn’t as bad as all that, just exuberant) and they’re not tired from raising their own. AND they go on amazing adventures that I couldn’t do anyway (chronic illnesses booo) and come back to share their stories. Childfree friends FTW!

          Maybe the meet-up is the way to go – I’m not sure how people meet like-minded folks otherwise except perhaps just by going out and doing things? (Not my specialty so I’m just guessing here)

          1. Oryx*

            My friends and family know I’ll happily babysit if my schedule allows (but also know that as an adult, babysitting isn’t exactly a high priority for me) it so I’m often asked in those last resort situations when the normal teenage babysitter falls through.

    22. Cheryl blossom*

      I really wanted to respond to all the comments on this thread and was working my way down, but I’m not going to be able to get to them all. A huge thank you to everyone so far for sharing your thoughts and personal experiences about kids/not having kids. I so very much appreciate all your comments.

      I may get a chance to respond to a few more tomorrow (Sunday), but just know I’m reading them all and finding them so thoughtful and thought provoking.

      1. Bethlam*

        Here’s another one to read but don’t feel obligated to respond. I was ambivalent about having children -was a tomboy growing up and more into catching frogs and playing with “boy toys” than with dolls. But I loved kids and was a very busy and highly sought after babysitter. I think if I had married someone who really, really wanted kids and would have been a good father, I would have been fine with having them and I would have been a great mom.

        But I married someone who grew up in a pretty dysfunctional family with a horrible role model as a father and couldn’t see himself as a father. He is also very OCD about his stuff and wouldn’t have been able to deal with spills and scratches and other things that come with kids. Since I was on the fence anyway and didn’t t want to raise a child with someone who wouldn’t be a good father, I was fine with not having children (and he found a doctor who would do a vasectomy even though he was only 23).

        I will be 60 in a couple of weeks, so my perspective is the long view. Do I regret my decision? Overall, no. But yes, occasionally. Unlike many of the others here, I’m sorry I missed the pregnancy part. I’ll never know the miraculous feeling of growing and giving birth to a child. And when relatives and friends have big events with their children, I know that I’ll never see a son get his Eagle Scout (my sister has 2) or throw a winning touchdown, never watch my husband walk a daughter down the aisle.

        My brother and sister and I are collectively helping to deal with our Mom, who currently lives independently, but who is starting to need some help. We are very involved and very responsible – when that time comes for my husband and me, there won’t be anyone who will do for us all of the things I’m doing for my mom.

        But with all that said . . . I realized that I mostly had regrets when I saw the big events; the day to day of dealing with children was not something I really wanted. And having children is no guarantee that they will be around to care for you when you get old. And there is a lot of upside to not having children: my husband and I both need a lot of alone time, something you don’t get much of with kids. The freedom to be able to do something – or something different – at a moment’s notice. A much less complicated life – and no fights over/about kids’ stuff.

        And, at this time in our life, I cannot stress enough the difference it has made financially even though we are both savers and made good financial decisions from the beginning. Choosing not to have children wasn’t a financial decision for us, but it certainly has impacted our financial situation. We have never lived paycheck to paycheck, we’ve mostly paid cash for everything we own, and we are now looking at a very, very comfortable retirement.

        One of the most difficult aspects of being child-free is the lack of other child-free friends. It’s difficult to find people whose lives don’t revolve around their children’s schedules or child-care options (and now it’s the grandchildren). Or, who have the financial resources to share in the activities we wanted/want to do. Because of this, we did a lot of things over the years with other people’s kids, which only made us realize that we had made the right decision – at least for us.

        1. Rebecca in Dallas*

          Thank you so much for sharing! I love this. I agree that sometimes I get a little pang about some aspects of not having kids, but we overall feel like we have made the right decision. We are happy to be the fun aunt and uncle (with a pool! And maybe one day a vacation house!).

        2. Cheryl blossom*

          Yes, thank you so much for sharing this. It’s so good to hear from a different perspective how this has played out for you. I really really appreciate your thoughts.

    23. Sophia in the DMV*

      I thought I didn’t want kids for the longest time BC of family issues. But the weirdest thing happened when I was 29 or 30 – I started wanting kids, and like now BC of my age. At 31 I had my dau, who is two now and she is my adorable nugget that I can’t believe we made. I’m ambivalent about having a second – mostly because a second kid is exponentially more difficult to juggle with work, and I don’t really want to give birth again. But I want her to have a sibling. I’d love to adopt or foster but my husband wants one more biological child

    24. Menacia*

      Never had any inclinations toward having kids, even hated babysitting. I met my (like minded) hubby when I was 34 and he 38. He got a vasectomy without question after we were married. I think since you two are not married, it’s up to him to decide, but should be a mutual decision once you decide to get married.

    25. AnotherTeacher*

      Like a lot of other readers, I simply never had the desire and never saw being a parent as something I needed to do. I think it helps that I have older relatives who never had children – growing up, I didn’t feel I had to question or defend my choice. At mid-life, I don’t regret it.

    26. themmases*

      I don’t want to share my body or my life. Our society is already outrageously intrusive and entitled when it comes to the bodies and choices of non-pregnant women. What pregnant women and mothers are subjected to is worse. That is all on top of literally sharing your body with another person. I have a clear memory of reading a series of essays on breastfeeding as a young adult and realizing that even after giving birth, I wouldn’t just get my body back. That was it.

      I have other reasons, like not really wanting to parent, loving my career and finding it way more important, and my partner also not wanting kids (although I think we each thought the other was a harder “no” at first than they really were). But on some level they are rationalizations or things I could get past if not for this reflexive sense that I need to avoid pregnancy and parenthood to remain a free and whole and independent person without undue intrusion from others.

      For this reason I don’t expect my partner to get a vasectomy. That’s up to him and I would probably continue using my IUD regardless of what he did. My husband doesn’t own my reproductive capacity. My birth control is about what I want for my body. BC hormones generally don’t disagree with me and the last time I had an unregulated cycle was as an adolescent who would get cramps so bad I couldn’t walk, so on that score I also don’t find it desirable to be able to just stop.

      I did read a book a few years ago intended to help couples decide whether to have children, mostly out of curiosity. I’d really recommend that route– it may help you think it through over a few days or weeks but in an organized way where you can separate out the issues at play for you. Knowing whether you want kids, and why, may help clarify whether you want to still be in your relationship and whether your current contraception is still OK with you.

      1. Cheryl blossom*

        I really like your approach to BC and vasectomies… this is a really positive thought process. I like it! Good idea on the book too, do you remember the name of it?

        1. themmases*

          Thanks! I took a look around my reading history and I believe the book was “The Parenthood Decision” by Beverly Engel. I remember it being a really helpful, balanced book.

    27. neverjaunty*

      No, I think “I don’t want to have kids ever, but I’d rather you do all the work of making sure of that” is a shitty attitude in boyfriend, and frankly a deal-breaker unless he has some other excellent reason for saying no, like a medical condition where a vasectomy would be contraindicated.

      Yes, it is true some doctors are reluctant to do this, but it doesn’t sound like the problem is that he’s tried and tried and been turned down.

    28. Vancouver Reader*

      I’ve never been super gung ho on having kids, even when I was young. By the time I met the husband and we talked about getting married, I definitely knew I didn’t want kids because I didn’t want to perpetuate crazy ass genes. And that was before I realized mental illness was in both of his parents.

      As for birth control. it should be something you both agree to and since he knows for sure he doesn’t want kids, then he should be the one to take care of it.

    29. Allison Mary*

      I grew up wanting a bunch of kids (I have four full-blooded siblings, plus a stepbrother who was around a lot), but around 25 or so started feeling less into it. When I met my current partner, who was adamantly against having kids, his attitude slowly started to rub off on me. I realized that I’m not as much of a people pleaser or a heart-of-a-servant type of person – I like to put my own desires first and do what I want to do. I think I could probably be a decent parent, but I’m sure that my attitude would be clear to my kids, and it’d be likely to breed resentment in them (just like happened with me and my own mother).

      My partner got a vasectomy about a year and a half ago, but I still have an IUD (because we are non-monogamous and sleep with other people sometimes). I personally think it’s pretty crappy if a male-bodied person is certain they don’t want kids, but isn’t willing to get a vasectomy and expects the female-bodied person to do all the legwork on preventing pregnancy, aside from condoms. In fact, I think I’d even say that I find it morally reprehensible (my male-bodied partner agrees with me, after I read your original post to him).

      Also: This planet is experiencing a huge overpopulation problem with humans. Just about EVERY environmental problem we experience, or species that goes instinct, etc., can be traced back to overpopulation of humans in some way. I just watched the 11-episode series Planet Earth on Netflix, and it was phenomenal, but also really depressing to watch several beautiful animals on film, and then learn that there’s like less than 50 of those animals left on the earth. I think that if you are like 1,000% sure that you want kids and that there’s nothing in the world that would give you the same happiness and you are certain that you won’t be completely happy without them – sure, have 1 or 2 of them. But if you are anywhere less than that on your desire to have kids, I think more people should do the earth a favor and go child-free.

      Every once in a while, I do get sort of a pang for the idea of being pregnant and having my partner’s kids. But these moments are fleeting, and I’m confident that this is coming more from societal pressure to reproduce as much as possible, than my own desires. And every time I go back to the environmental problems and the overpopulation of humans, I’m 100% sure that I’m making the right choice for myself. I know that personally choosing not to reproduce won’t stop the overpopulation problems from advancing, but in my mind, that fact does not alleviate me of my own moral responsibility to make what I think is the most ethical decision.

    30. Stellaaaaa*

      I definitely know I don’t want kids, but even I have the thought in the back of my head that if I met the right man and found myself in the perfect scenario (usually involving enough money so that my career track was no longer a concern, as I’m not hugely invested in my career beyond making money). Plus, once I crossed over into my 30s, I found myself having a lot of nuanced feelings about how the choice was starting to no longer be mine. It’s one thing to choose not to have kids. It feels different when time makes the decision for you. So yeah, realistically I’m not having kids but I wouldn’t tie my tubes just yet.

      As for your boyfriend…I wouldn’t get surgery for someone I wasn’t married to yet. Since he’s not voluntarily doing it, you really can’t lay on the pressure until you’re reasonably sure that you guys are going the distance. If you break up, he could easily go on to date women his age who are no longer at such high risk for accidental pregnancies.

      Is there are reason condoms aren’t an option? Yeah they’re annoying but they should be part of the discussion. It’s not “birth control pills vs. vasectomy.”

    31. Cordelia Longfellow*

      I have always known that I didn’t want to have kids, as far back as I can remember. I was an only child with a single mom, which may be an unconscious factor, but I’ve never been conflicted on the issue. When I was a teenager she remarried and my siblings were born when I was 16 and 18, respectively. I lived at home through undergrad, so I got to help raise them. I love them to bits, and I love other people’s kids – I am the best aunt to all my friends’s niblets, but I still never want my own. As an adult, I’ve also got health issues that make it difficult to care for myself, much less a tiny human, which is just the icing on the cake. Luckily, my family has never pushed me for kids, and if friends/coworkers/etc. ask, I just say that helping to raise my siblings was enough for me.

    32. Lemon Zinger*

      Not sure if you’re still checking this, but I wanted to chime in.

      My young adulthood was filled with babysitting and caring for my younger siblings and cousins. My first job was as a lifeguard, where parents treated me like a babysitter as well. In college, when I was rarely around children, I realized how much better my life is when kids are not a part of it.

      My boyfriend is 28 and I am 23. Neither of us want children, and we discussed that before starting a relationship, which I think is *super* important. Our careers are important to us, and our lifestyle is incompatible with kids. I’m on the pill, but I’m sure we’ll go the vasectomy route eventually, since I don’t like the effects the pill has on me. Your BF is being unreasonable about refusing the vasectomy, IMHO.

    33. NaoNao*

      I am giving a very hard side eye to this guy who is “adamant” he doesn’t want kids, is 10 years older than you, and has been with you for 2 years and is not open to making sure he doesn’t have said unwanted kids. I feel like there’s something else going on there, like misinformation about how having the procedure will affect him, or a desire not to close off all possible avenues in life. Or he’s just being a knob. Ugh.

      I can see a couple lines of thought that might make this more sympathetic:

      1) because you are slightly on the fence, he doesn’t want to go and make up your mind for you: if you stay with him, you will not be having children by/with him. That’s a hard row to hoe, so he may be shying away from that.

      2) he wants/needs more time before making a permanent body alteration “for” someone. Now granted, if he says he doesn’t want kids *with anyone* why not do this now, and no matter who comes along, it’s covered? However, because this change came about when he was with you, he might feel that it’s being influenced by you or that he’s doing it “for” you.

      3) he knows you’re ambivalent and is telling you what he thinks you want to hear: ie, that he doesn’t want kids either, when actually there is more of a chance he does want kids, just not now/not with you/not under these circumstances

      I dated a guy (who has since wised up and grown up, thankfully) that used derogatory terms for kids like “ankle biters” and “little sh*ts” and so on and claimed he was 100% sure he didn’t want kids. When I asked in genuine confusion why he didn’t have a vasectomy he gave nonsense, knee-jerk, emotional answers like “Well, it’s not a cobra without the sting, ha ha!”

      He’s now planning on getting a vasectomy and explained that he felt there was a 5% chance he wanted kids at some point, which I privately attributed to a common fantasy that many people have: “Some perfect person will come along and change my mind”. IMHO, if you want children, you want them badly enough to consider having them alone or actively seeking out someone to have them with; you’re not idly waiting to “see what happens” or “well, maybe if someone amazing came along”.

      As someone who doesn’t want kids at all, I simply explain to people “It’s not in the cards for me”. This has the benefit of being both true and close enough to sounding like a sad medical story that people generally don’t pry beyond that point.

      My advice is to write in your mind your life story. What does it look like? Who is in it? Is it full of world travel solo adventures? Is it full of family, but your family of origin, not one you built? Or when you “look back” in your minds’ eye, do you picture adult children with their own children gathered in your home? Often these “obit” exercises help clarify what you really want.

      Best of luck!!

  28. Trixie*

    Any Zumba fans here? I’m contemplating certification because there is an awesome instructor here and would love to take her workshop. Not sure if folks get burned out on classes before they turn to something else, or if (like so much) depends on the instructor. The instructor I would hope to work with puts on an amazing class with great workout, playlist, and cues so a lot to learn from her example.

    1. Elkay*

      I used to go to Zumba but the instructors that I had just couldn’t get enough people to come to the class to make it financially viable. I think with so much it depends on instructor and class time.

    2. nep*

      I don’t do Zumba, but I know some instructors as well as a lot of people who do it regularly. When the instructor is enthusiastic and really has that ‘spark’, invariably people come out of those classes sweating and with huge smiles on their faces. And they keep going back for more. It’s got to be a great feeling to help people feel that great.
      Go for it. Who knows where getting the cert can take you.

    3. LadyKelvin*

      My problem with Zuma is that if you don’t know the routines, no one is going to teach them to you. The instructor leads the class but basically just picks the music while everyone dances. It does not make for a welcoming environment for first timers and honestly it was humiliating to basically stand around the whole class because I had no idea what I was doing. I’ll never go again, I need positive workout experienceso not embarrassing ones.

      1. Trixie*

        I get that. I think for a class that has no verbal instructions, the physical cues are vital. And some teachers get so caught up enjoying the songs they lose track of teaching. But I’ll say I need to go a class 2-3 times before I really get a feel for it and songs/dances start to sink in. It definitely doesn’t happen in one hour.

        My thoughts are I enjoy the music, I pick up choreography/routines fairly quickly, and really enjoy the group setting. I think I’ll go to a few more classes as a participant and see where I’m at.

      2. nep*

        (This is one of the reasons I don’t do it. When I first tried I did a lot of jogging in place as everyone else did the steps. Only if I took the time to learn the routines would I get a good flow going and enjoy it. But I don’t like it enough as a workout to put that time in.)

        1. Stephanie*

          There was a class I used to go to that was like a modified Zumba (it was a bit more of an intense workout) and they used to host sessions where they’d break down the steps for you.

          A decent teacher should emphasize that the goal is just to keep your heart rate up and that you can just jump in place (or whatever) without embarrassment.

          1. nep*

            Yes — the instructor when I tried it was very welcoming and encouraging to beginners. I felt no bad vibe from her or any of the participants at all as I jogged or hopped in place. Super important — agree.

      3. C Average*

        Oh, man. It sucks that you had this experience.

        The whole reason I love Zumba so much is that in my experience it’s been utterly free of the “you’re doing it wrong” atmosphere of so many fitness classes. I am really clumsy and have no rhythm and have to think for a second about which side is right and which is left. I love that in Zumba, as long as I’m moving around in the same general direction and in the same general manner as the rest of the class, the details don’t really matter all that much.

      4. INTP*

        I have the same issue with Zumba as it’s taught at my gym. I don’t think that it’s a necessary problem though – I think it’s just that our instructors choose to teach for the benefit of the regulars who know all the routines, not for the people of all levels in the room. Some of the instructors do no cuing at all. They’ll even stop dancing in the middle of a routine to do their own thing or walk around and act encouraging, leaving everyone without all the choreography memorized scanning the room to figure out who knows what they’re doing. I’ve missed a few reps of squats before because the instructor just stopped dancing and never said “Squats!” or anything – the regulars just knew to start squatting. Or they’ll take a rest and let regulars on stage to lead the class – which is usually okay with me because most are better at teaching than the instructors but sometimes they don’t actually know the choreography.

        The songs vary a lot too, so it’s only a minority of people who have been regulars for a long time that have all of the routines memorized. I don’t know if they teach this way because it’s an economic necessity for them to keep a following of Zumba fanatic regulars, or if they just look at the class as their personal opportunity to be onstage and show off for an hour. But either way, I am all for someone like the OP who knows the importance of cuing to become an instructor!

      5. Clever Name*

        I honestly feel this way about all forms of group exercise. It’s not that I find it humiliating, but I invariably think to myself, “this would be so much better if all these people weren’t here”. Maybe it’s the introvert in me. I’ve also found I like yoga classes less and less. I had spinal fusion surgery to correct for scoliosis, and I have next to no spinal mobility, so I either have to do nothing when everyone else is twisting or rounding their spines or I have to approach the instructor ahead of time to let them know. Some are better than others at finding alternate poses. It just sucks to feel singles out because I can’t do what literally everyone else is doing.

        1. Trixie*

          Clever Name, you might check out Yoga with Rachel Jesien on Facebook. Lots on yoga for scoliosis, and modifications for at-home practice.

          1. Clever Name*

            Thanks! I’ll check that out! Apparently, having surgical revision is rare enough that I’ve had a difficult time finding specific yet important information (like what are the outcomes with pregnancy and giving birth?) is incredibly difficult, even with the Internet.

    4. Pharmgirl*

      I love it but I’ve only done the DVDs. I have a hard time finding classes that fit into my schedule. There’s a local gym near me that of l the classes it offers, Zumba is the most popular.

    5. Stephanie*

      I like it, but I find the quality depends a ton on the teacher. I’ve had some classes that feel like barely a step above low-intensity step aerobics and some that I leave drenched in sweat.

    6. Clumsy Ninja*

      I started taking zumba four years ago and continue taking classes every semester (it’s through our school district) from the same instructor. I’ve never had a different instructor, so I don’t know if it’s her or zumba in general, but I love it! She’s really good about teaching us the steps, though she also emphasizes that she doesn’t care if you do or don’t do them right – just move around and have fun.

      For what it’s worth, I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon – at least not as long as this instructor is available. We even talked her into having an “advanced” class for those of us who have been taking the class over and over. (Which reminds me, time to sign up for the fall classes….)

    7. matcha123*

      I love zumba. But, most of the classes I know of are held while I work (usually 1pm or 3pm start times).

  29. nep*

    Anyone have experience with hotels in Saugerties or Woodstock, NY? (Ever stayed at Hotel Dylan?)

    1. Today's anon*

      I stayed at the The Woodstock Inn on the Millstream in Woodstock (duh!) and it was very nice. The grounds are near a stream and you can hang out there reading or whatever, there is a decent breakfast (cereals, bagels, lox, fruit…) and it’s a 5-10 min walk to the main street. The one issue if you will was that the road from the main street to the Inn is not lit and so it’s very dark at night – I went in winter when it gets dark early so that was a bit annoying.

        1. Mreasy*

          I’ve also stayed there, and I loved it! The breakfast is wonderful & the owner is really sweet. And the coffee is strong. This is a crucial vacation consideration!

          1. nep*

            Ah, Mreasy. Do you know me? Indeed for me strong coffee is always a huuuge consideration.

            Thanks for the feedback.

    2. nep*

      Wow — looking at website for ‘Saugerties Hotel’. It looks charming and comfortable.(And affordable!) Would love to hear from anyone who’s been to the place.

  30. Caledonia*

    Oh, I just read The Girls last week! I didn’t like it overly much. It was far too verbose and I felt like alot of it was description for the sake of it. I felt it interesting how alot of the imagery was fruit based, talk of the smell of rotten fruit, the girls had ‘clotted’ cheeks etc (makes me think of clotted cream and strawberries).
    The actual storyline was decent though.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I loved the writing so I didn’t mind so much imagery — I think she’s a gorgeous writer. I also think she captured what it’s like to be a teenage girl eerily well.

  31. nep*

    Does anyone know whether this evening’s Olympic weightlifting (women’s 48kg) is being televised? I think it was to be at 6pm EST but can’t find it on any station.

    1. Sibley*

      Go to NBC’s olympics website. They have tv listings section, you can search by sport and it’ll tell you when and what channel. Also, they’ve got stuff on the website too.

  32. Elizabeth West*

    I was watching some ASMR videos and one of the ASMRtists I follow does these things called pocket letters. They are plastic nine-section sleeves like you put trading cards in, and you make these little vignettes for each section. Then you send them to people — I assume, since they have a binder edge, that you can put them in a ring binder when people trade and send them to you.

    I bought a bunch of stickers and paper at Michael’s and some sleeves at Walmart today to try it out. I can’t wait to make one. I have TONS of craft stuff that hasn’t gotten used, some for miniatures and some because I’m an acquisitive thing, LOL, and I thought, wow, I can use a lot of it for these. Yes, of course I had to go buy some stuff!! But what I have plus what I bought should be enough to keep me going for quite a while.

    Anyone ever hear of this or do it? I’m going to try to make one tomorrow and email her and trade!

    1. LisaLee*

      If you google “artist trading cards” there are lots of groups for trading small artwork like that (usually one at a time though). My mother’s gotten pretty into it lately–it looks fun!

    2. Oviraptor*

      On Facebook there are some groups that members trade Pocket Letters. I would think if you search Pocket Letters you would find a few (or a lot!). I always thought it would be fun to do also. Have fun!

  33. another anon venting post*

    My coworker who I have a passive social relationship with outside of the office with was supposed to do a detox diet with me. We picked out the specific day to minimize impact on our lives and even agreed on the specific diet… which was mostly based on “Oh, this one is only 10 days.” Well… she didn’t even last a day. And I don’t mean that her cravings were so bad that she couldn’t do it. I mean she chose to make drinking and eating plans day after day. I was really counting on her holding me accountable and vice versa. To make matters worse, she was actually complaining about things she couldn’t eat when she wasn’t even trying!

    Finally on day 3 I was like “screw it, this isn’t working,” and called it quits. I don’t want to be the food police, but it was clear she wasn’t making an effort…. I feel angry and really betrayed that she didn’t even try.

    Has anyone had any luck dieting with friends or coworkers? Anyone manage to go on with one of these diets when others let them down?

      1. another anon venting post*

        I’m sorry, but maybe my question was not clear. I am not looking for advice on dieting or eating healthy, just seeing if anyone had luck with trying to do something like this with someone else.

        Many nutritionists follow some very outdated advice about fats and focus on weight loss. I don’t need to lose weight I am looking to fight off my sugar addiction.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I think someone here said a dietitian is better than a nutritionist.

          I’ve never tried to do this with another person. I wonder if it’s like trying to travel with friends–sometimes, you get one who is difficult at best, and other times, it’s great. I guess maybe this particular friend is not the right one to share this activity.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          It could be me, how I am, but when I gave up sugar I did it alone. I have that part of my personality that is willing to let people be my crutch, “Oh, Friend is having pizza, so I will, too.”

          And I wanted to learn as much about whole foods as I could, this worked into a journey that I needed to do on my own. I probably sound like negative Nancy here, but I think it is hard to take someone with you on these kinds of journeys, for reasons you show here. Even though, I followed my diet very well, I did cheat with way too much watermelon. haha. So even if you find a partner who does do the diet they may cheat in different ways or have different crutches they use.

          1. another anon venting post*

            I’ve tried to do it alone, but it hasn’t worked out well… Especially the cooking and grocery shopping piece of it. My coworker and I were even going to split the cost of meals and trade-off with cooking (which we did for a couple of meals). It was specifically being held accountable to someone that was keeping me going. I’m not ready to give up yet, so I’ll see if there is another coworker who will do it with me.

        3. SophieChotek*

          I’ve not done detox or sugar-free, but I’ve done a carb-less/sugar-less diet (sort of a modified Dukan/atkins) for a week or so with my mother off and on (and that’s been okay). It’s hard though, when one of us doesn’t follow it, or something comes up (a work lunch). But when we both committ and stick to it, it’s helpful and then we can bug the other (no! don’t eat that!)
          If you can find someone to do it with, it’s can help support — frustrating co-worker would not follow through though

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        LCL, I agree with your premise, but not your approach. Do you really think that anyone will be convinced by being condescended to? Do you think the OP is incapable of reading? Has anyone actually said to you in response to that kind of retort, “Oh my god, you’re right! I was a complete idiot! Thank you for pointing that out to me!”?

        I do post debunking-type articles on social media, but not in response to or aimed at anyone in particular. Even with people with whom I’m really close friends, there’s usually no point in trying to argue them out of it unless they ask me for more information.

        1. another anon venting post*

          Believe me, I am fully aware of the controversies surrounding detox diets and even I agree that for most people they don’t offer the benefits people are looking for. (I just didn’t want to get into a debate with LCL over it, so I tried to specify what kind of advice and discussions I wanted). As I mentioned above, my motivations are not related to weight loss, they are to fight off a sugar addiction. There really isn’t any other way to overcome the addiction without some kind of “detox”. I just think it is helpful to have some guidelines to abide by, which is why I was using a formalized plan.

          1. TL -*

            The problem, though, is that detox diets, besides being hard, can often be unhealthy and make you feel bad, which is going to unmotivate people really quick.
            You might find someone to stick it out with you but it’s less likely; dietary restrictions are tough.
            If it’s the grocery shopping and food prep you struggle with, maybe you can do a delivery service like Blue Apron and develop your own rules around that?

      3. Mazzy*

        I’ve never dieted with a friend. At most, I’ve had occasional exercise friends, but dieting seems to take more effort so the bar is so much higher to do it together, especially since most diets are about what you don’t do, and exercise is something you proactively due. I had to learn to lower and lower my expectations. I may get a friend to come to yoga, but they might flake out half the time. I had to set myself up mentally to expect it and go to a class that I would still be comfortable in alone.

        As per all of the talk about detox diets, I get it, but it wasn’t OP’s question. I have had a lot of success doing intermittent fasting regardless of what little food I did eat. I felt ill when I fasted completely, but eating a few hundred calories a day for days in a row cleared up a skin condition and some digestive issues I’d been having for a few years.

    1. ginger ale for all*

      My mother and her work friends had a club where they dieted together and which ever one of them missed their own preset goals for the week had to put a stuffed Miss Piggy on their desk until the next week. My mom seemed to get a big kick out of it and she lost weight. I would think if there had been some one in the group who didn’t, they would have dropped out.

    2. Moonsaults*

      A partnership with diets can work well but both have to be equally as invested, that’s the real tricky part.

      I have had amazing partners with my weight loss and lifestyle changes over the last couple years. They were like minded and absolutely weren’t the ‘oh sure, we’ll start that on monday’ kind of person who then on Monday, you roll up with your meal supplements and they’re downing a cheeseburger for second-breakfast!

    3. INTP*

      I’m an independent person by nature so I’ve never tried to diet with anyone, but doing it this way sounds like a recipe for disappointment. Most people don’t last very long on their diets, especially short term 10 day detox things. People vary in how important diets are to them versus their social lives or energy levels or cravings. I think you have to go into something like that self-motivated, not dependent on another person for your motivation.

      I do know people who have “dieting buddies” that they are successful with, BUT they formed that relationship after both had already had success on their diets independently, and they happened to discover that they both used weightwatchers or low carb or whatever. And they weren’t trying to do the exact same thing or anything, just staying accountable and talking about strategies for that general diet.

    4. Elkay*

      I think in order to diet together you have to be able to have the “You let me down and that sucks” conversation without it ruining the relationship.

      Two of my co-workers joined Weight Watchers together, one of them basically went to support the other one and the one who needed support was a nightmare (not saying this is you, just how this can go wrong) because she wanted the entire office to support her by not bringing in any treats at all (totally unknown in our office) and would chastise people for bringing in cakes for their birthday. The quieter Weight Watcher would speak up and say she didn’t mind the cakes being in the office and she eventually started going to a different class on her own because she wasn’t close enough with the other co-worker to put up with her constant presence in her diet.

      1. another anon venting post*

        I was definitely having sugar withdrawal symptoms and started to express my disappointment, but I was not in any position to have a heart to heart “hey, you let me down and this isn’t cool” conversation in a calm and collected way. I was really ready to snap at that point and didn’t want to ruin a friendship over this so I just let it go. She has a history of some minor flakiness, but given how much she talked about the plan before we started, I really thought she was going to come through. I’m not ready to give up and I think I just need to vet healthy eating plan buddies better in the future.

        1. neverjaunty*

          I was thinking less of “you let me down” and more of “hey, sounds like we had a misunderstanding, what happened?”

    5. Clever Name*

      I think you need to find someone else to be diet buddies with. Maybe someone who is generally upbeat and has a positive attitude. You said your friend was complaining early on. I can’t imagine partnering up with someone thinking we’d support each other and then having to listen to them moan. Just no.

      1. auntie_cipation*

        “I can’t imagine partnering up with someone thinking we’d support each other and then having to listen to them moan.”

        I’ve been trying to figure out how to explain, to someone who doesn’t seem to get it, what I mean when I talk about “support” in this context. This is a friend who, when faced with a friend describing a goal or project (example: losing ten pounds) thinks: “eh, people tend to fail when they undertake these kinds of projects; better to not undertake it at all.”

        And then when I try to describe how unsupportive that is, he says “I’m just being realistic.” Which, statistically, is true, the reality is that many people fail to meet their goals, at least on any given attempt. I’m trying to find the words to describe to him that being supportive means being encouraging, but that he doesn’t have to “pretend” or deny his awareness of the reality that people often fail. How do I say this? I know it’s possible to be encouraging to someone even if you 1) don’t think their project is such a good idea or 2) don’t think they’re likely to succeed. I just can’t figure out how to describe it to someone who doesn’t get it.

        1. neverjaunty*

          People are more likely to “tend to fail” when they are not given support. I find it hard to believe he doesn’t understand that.

          1. auntie_cipation*

            Good point!

            Yeah, I don’t get it either, although he’s always been a loner type who is very strongly internally motivated — and motivated by dreams or ideals rather than practical type things like my mundane goals of “losing ten pounds” or “learning to knit”.

            So, I think that because he doesn’t seek that kind of support from others, he doesn’t grok how others need it.

            But it’s also an issue of defining/understanding what “support” actually means. If I were to tell him that I don’t feel like he supports me, he might object and list all the homestead projects he’s helped me do. Yeah, ok, that’s also support, but a different kind. So then I narrow my definition down to “no, I mean *emotional* or *psychological* support.”

            But still, I could see him saying (or thinking) that because X isn’t *his* goal as well, that he doesn’t know how to be supportive of it — it’s like he authentically doesn’t get how empathy or encouragement works, you don’t have to feel exactly the same about something as another person in order to feel empathetic or to offer encouragement; but I think that’s what he thinks those things are.

            He’s not keen on these kinds of meta-conversations, either, so I haven’t been able to think or talk my way through this process with him. So I’m always looking for hints about how to present things in a crystal clear way.

    6. Stellaaaaa*

      I think people get really jazzed about these diets and then are frustrated by how difficult and long they are. For one, long-term coffee drinkers often don’t anticipate how miserable they’ll be without coffee for that first week. Like legit head pains.

      I think that the lack of validity of the diet plays a bit of a part in your reaction. On a larger scale, you shouldn’t be super mad at your coworker for not following through on a dangerous diet with you. It’s like being mad that a friend broke your pact to smoke a pack of cigarettes a day. You just can’t hold someone to something that’s bad for them. You can feel upset that she probably never meant to follow through even though she lied and told you she would.

      1. another anon venting post*

        As someone who has a sugar addiction… yes, I had headaches and withdrawal symptoms. She didn’t even give it a full day and was still drinking coffee, so that wasn’t the issue. She has mild sugar cravings, but they aren’t as bad as mine.

        I’m not sure why you are assuming that the diet we chose is dangerous. This wasn’t the drink lemons and maple syrup or cabbage soup plan… We were doing the Blood Sugar Solution, which is more of a clean eating plan that focuses on getting rid of processed foods and added sugars. It is written by an MD who specializes in nutrition.

  34. Stephanie*

    Ok, another question.

    So I went to Miami earlier in the week for a school conference. My flight from Phoenix to Miami was kind of a disaster. Originally, I was scheduled to fly a red-eye on American direct to Miami. Easy enough, right? And then a monsoon storm hit Phoenix (and something was on the other end in Miami). My original flight was cancelled. So I get rebooked for a flight to Miami via Orlando the following morning. And then my flight out Phoenix is delayed an hour and a half due to an issue with the crew or a late incoming plane (I heard both). So I miss my connection in Orlando. I get to Orlando and that flight ends up being delayed 4.5 hours (this is for a 50-minute flight). At one point, I contemplated just seeing if I could get American to pay for a rental car so I could just drive myself to Miami. We never really got a straight answer as to why the Orland0-Miami flight was delayed. I heard both weather issues and maintenance issues (I’d buy both). I ended up getting to my hotel at 2 am (I originally was supposed to get there at 8 am that morning).

    So…do I have any recourse? I know weather usually isn’t covered. I’m usually pretty tolerant about delays, especially this time of year in Phoenix given that a dust storm or violent thunderstorm can appear with little warning. But I ended up at my final destination nearly 24 hours after I was supposed to with little communication from American aside from the occasional alert of “Oh hey, your flight’s delayed three more hours.”

    If I did file a complaint, what would I say? I also wasn’t the original purchaser of the ticket, if that matters.

    1. Audiophile*

      Were you there anytime between July 25th – August 1st? The weather just seemed to be awful as far as flights were concerned.

      I only ask because I was in Tampa during that period. On my way back to NY on Aug 1, I had a horrible time getting out of Tampa. Got to the airport around 4, flight was supposed to leave around 5:40. Around 5:30 they announce that the flight out is delayed until 7:30 because of bad weather in NYC. Then about 20 minutes later they announce that we’ll leave a little bit earlier and so they’re going to start the boarding process again. We ended up leaving around 6:30 and didn’t land until 9pm.

      Flying to Tampa was just as bad, if not worse. It started pouring right around the time we were supposed to board. We ended up boarding around 4pm, which was about an hour behind. We then taxied on the runway for an hour and a half. Twice the co-pilot came on and said we were going back to the gate and whoever wanted to get off the plane could but that they weren’t canceling the flight for the time being.

      Is it just me or do airlines seem more reluctant to cancel flights now? I know they get charged a ton if passengers are kept on planes for too long. But still.

      It can’t hurt to try to file a complaint. I’d be surprised if there isn’t a box somewhere that allows you to mention that you weren’t the original purchaser. I’ve never attempted to file a complaint myself and since neither of my flights were canceled, just delayed, I’m not sure that I’d get anything out of filing a complaint.

      1. Stephanie*

        This was this past Wednesday, so not sure if it’s just regular August Florida weather. We had a bad enough storm here that some of the freeways had closures due to flooding.

        1. Audiophile*

          Yeah I guess so. It didn’t seem to rain much while I was actually in FL. Just trying to get there and back.

          Didn’t know there was that much rain in Phoenix. I think there was some flooding in the NY suburbs too.

          1. Stephanie*

            There isn’t. It’s just that it all comes in a downpour at once and the soil is essentially sand on top of rock and can’t absorb much.

            1. Audiophile*

              I decided to try to file a complaint with Jetblue, my airline for trip. They don’t make it easy at all, no surprise there.

              I think my delay on departure might meet the threshold for a credit.

              Who was your carrier?

        2. Florida*

          The weather where you were might not have been the problem. If there are weather problems in any major city, it affects air travel all over because the plane you need to get on in Florida might be stuck in a storm in Tennessee. And the delays cause a ripple effect through the whole system.

    2. BRR*

      I recently had a terrible traveling situation and read up. To sum it up almost every airline has the same clause that they won’t to anything for things they can’t control which usually includes maintenance. I’d file a complaint with the airline and maybe you’ll get a voucher. Say they didn’t book you on a nonstop and that caused issues. I’d also have in my back pocket that they didn’t explain to you why the second flight was delayed. I don’t really know why I’d bring that up though.

    3. Dan*

      You can complain to the airline. They may give you some miles to shut you up, but that’s about it. You have no legal recourse, at least nothing like what the EU offers for delayed flights. It almost doesn’t matter what you say, a computer is going to read it and send an auto reply. The contract of carriage does not guarantee arrival or departure times, so there is no contractual fail here.

      The only kind of any real compensation that the airlines give out is great denied boardings. This ain’t you.

    4. SophieChotek*

      Christopher Elliot has an advocacy site and writes a column for the Chicago Tribune
      Situations like yours are often covered
      You might find it useful to read some recent archives and see their suggestions and how they advocated
      Numbers/emails of executives, customer service are all on the site too
      I enjoy reading it…and gotten some good insight I hope I remember before I do things like rent a car or book a cruise!

  35. Audiophile*

    Anyone watching “The Night Of”? The limited-run series from HBO? I watched the first episode via HBOGo before it premiered on HBO. It’s pretty solid. Now they’re doing a little mini marathon, because it’ wraps up soon I believe.

    I’ve been having an awful time getting HBOGo to run properly. I’ve downloaded HBONow for the free trial, because I was trying to watch the complete third season of Silicon Valley.

    1. Caledonia*

      I haven’t watched ‘The Night Of’ yet, I was going to binge watch it when it’s finished. It sounds pretty good.

    2. New Bee*

      Yes! I’m really into it (especially because some of my favorite characters from The Wire make an appearance).

  36. Cruciatus*

    So my older sister is getting married next month–really just 3 weeks now. I’m very “meh” about the whole thing (namely the fiance–I’ve never warmed to him and it seems no one else has either but we do what my family does and…no one talks about it), but I do just wish it was over with already. My first question is whether bridesmaids/maid of honor (which I am) are supposed to buy the couple a gift? I feel like an ass for admitting this, but I’ve already paid $130 for the dress, $70 shoes I will wear once for an hour, $400 for the hotel for 2 nights and now I’m sitting here like, AND a gift?. She only *just* sent the invites with the registry listed. She has lived on her own for years, makes close to $300,000. I make less than $30,000. Her signing bonus was more than my salary. She doesn’t *need* anything. Likes presents, sure but who doesn’t? But she usually just buys whatever she wants when she wants it. But then I feel bad about the lack of gift and could probably suck it up to get a $30-40 gift from the registry. Is this the best option? What is official etiquette these days?

    And the second thing is next weekend is her birthday but me and the other bridesmaid in town are going to surprise her with one activity and pay for her whole evening out. My sister did say months ago that she wasn’t expecting anything big in this way. We’re not big partyers (partiers?). We’re going to take her to dinner wherever she wants, then go do an escape room (which I think she’ll like a lot and it’s something new for all of us). But then that’s all we have planned! I figured after that we’ll let her do what she wants to next but I again feel bad because we don’t have this full night planned and we’re not going to have like, a bride-to-be sash and tiaras and limo and strippers and more than 3 people there! But the other bridesmaid and I both don’t think we need these things. We did discuss it. She has known my sister for nearly 30 years and me my whole life so I don’t think we’re wrong but I feel bad that it doesn’t seem special enough. I looked up other activities but the city where I live (where my sister will be visiting next week) sucks. And it’ll be 9:30 pm when we get out of the escape room (hopefully!) and most of the other things (besides bar-related things) are over about then. Is there any simple way to make it a little more special without going over the top (or costing a fortune)? I hate feeling like such an asshole sister. But planning was never my strong point and the other bridesmaid has given me no ideas despite frequently asking her.

    1. C Average*

      I think the escape room sounds like a blast! If she feels like it, maybe take her out for a drink and appetizers afterward, or something like that. Not everyone wants to put on a sash and do body shots and eat dick-shaped cupcakes. I semi-eloped in part to proactively avoid such experiences. But I would’ve been stoked to receive a gift like an escape room experience. It’s definitely something special that I would think she’d appreciate.

      I would suck it up and buy her a small gift from the registry. Some people pay attention to this kind of thing, and some people don’t. It’s worth $40 to eliminate the possibility that you’ll forever be The Sister Who Didn’t Bring A Wedding Gift. I know you’ve already spent a fortune, but you should probably pony up this one last time.

    2. Audiophile*

      Damn, what does your sister do – run a Fortune 500?

      Yeah, I was a bridesmaid in a wedding and probably had the lowest salary of anyone in the wedding party. I spent a good chunk on the wedding dress and shoes, plus a hotel room. Plus splitting the hotel for the bachelorette party. Obviously, I don’t begrudge them and had a good time, but I’m still paying the dress and shoes off (credit cards).

      I think it’s best to buy her a small gift off the registry or something you know she’ll enjoy. I bought a knife set, but inadvertently never gave it to them. It’s never been a big issue.

    3. Dynamic Beige*

      I think that if you can’t have a conversation with her about your different levels of income so that she understands… she’s kind of not nice. I mean, if she makes 10x as much as you do, it would be ridiculous for her to expect you to spend loads of money you don’t have on her. She’s your sister, she should understand this. She should be able to understand this about anyone, but especially family!

      As for the “small gift off the registry”… how about you buy her a nice picture frame that’s in alignment with her taste and have a photo of the two of you as kids blown up for it? I say that if you can’t compete with her expensive tastes (or the ability of others in her circle to indulge in them), then go for the heartstrings! A nice hand written note about how much her being your sister means to you/how proud you are/whatever is applicable to your family situation — no stainless steel chef’s quality range is going to compete with that. She can keep such a thing and read it when she’s 80. Not that competition should be the main point of giving anyone a gift, ever (which some people should really get a refresher course in) but you can give her something more personal than most people can. If she has a problem with that… then there’s a problem there and it’s not with you.

      1. Nancypie*

        I once saw someone in a position similar to you give her sister her wedding invitation, framed. it was engraved, and was a double frame, with an open spot for a wedding photo. It was really nice, and very sentimental. If this is too much, maybe you can look on etsy for what people are doing with wedding invitations?

      2. Mazzy*

        I make twice what my siblings make and I feel that that is a huge discrepancy. Ten times more is huge. I pay for 70 or 80% of our common activities and have thrown in a few hundred dollars extra at birthday celebrations or other events, because it isn’t a big deal for me but would be a huge amount of extra cash for any of them to come up with.

        I think you should just tell her you can’t afford a present, and not get one. I’m also a bit disappointed that she isn’t covering any of your expenses given her income

    4. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      I’ve always felt like being part of the bridal party was the gift, it’s usually a huge investment of time and money for all the pre wedding events.

      Is your income differential something you’re not comfortable discussing? I would normally suggest that you have an honest conversation with her that your income necessarily limits how you can monetarily express your love for her (apathy for the groom notwithstanding, it’s a bonus if you like or love the person incoming but the reality is that it’s not always going to be the case. My in laws certainly weren’t a warm welcome wagon when I got married but it didn’t affect their feelings about HIM whatever they thought about me).

      If she said that she had no expectations of a big surprise, is it wrong to take her at her word and assume she will be pleasantly surprised by what you DID choose to plan for her? And is there any chance she knows that you’re on a tighter budget and this was her way of lightening the expectations?

      I myself hate bridal showers and bachelorette parties so shut down any suggestions that they were necessary, I appreciated that my wishes were respected and not second guessed by people who would have felt differently if it was their wedding.

      Lastly, being cost aware and necessarily frugal doesn’t make you an asshole sister. Actively trying to make her miserable would but nothing you’ve said here suggests that is your intent. I know, having been in your shoes, that it’s hard to be the poor one in a bridal party and that your value to the bride is measured by the lavishness of the affair. I remind you that good relationships don’t require you to throw the biggest parties or to plot grand surprises that are beyond your means, it just feels like that when you’re participating in an event that’s laden with cultural and social expectations. It is ok to buck the trend and do what’s right for both of you to celebrate her special time without breaking the bank. I have never disrespected someone for not giving me a gift at any gift giving occasion because it’s not for me to be dictating that they spend money on me and I would hope that my loved ones know that. I hope your sister feels the same way, especially if she’s bringing in ten times your income.

    5. Fiona the Lurker*

      Why don’t you just make a charitable donation in your sister’s name, instead of a gift; if she really does have everything she needs, you can just present her with a card (most charities have them) confirming how much you’ve donated and where it’s going to. That way, although it still costs you money, you’re not giving her something she may not have a use for and may not even appreciate – and the cause that *does* receive it will put it to good use.

    6. Jubilance*

      I didn’t expect my bridal party to buy me a gift – I knew they were investing time and money into my wedding and I didn’t want them to feel like they were burdened to spend even more money. But I think I’m in the minority in that.

    7. Chickaletta*

      Definitely get her a gift, it’s your sister for crying out loud. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Just get her and her husband something you think they’ll like that’s within your budget even if it’s a ten dollar ash tray. If she’s hurt because you didn’t spend enough in her eyes then that’s her problem. And the best thing you can do is be happy for her, make her feel special on her wedding day, and not make it about yourself (hence, I suggest leaving out discussions with her about what you can and cannot afford, and how much you make vs what she makes, what you’ve already spent on her wedding, etc).

      For the birthday thing, try not to over think it. I know, it’s hard these days with all the wedding magazines and tv shows and keeping up with both the Joneses and the f’ing Kardashians. I think what you have planned so far sounds like fun, just roll with it and see where the evening takes you.

      And finally, you ARE a good sister. :)

    8. Stellaaaaa*

      For the birthday night, you could offer her a list of wine bars or nice restaurants that everyone already agrees on. So she has 3 or 4 options to choose from but no one else will be miserable. Or you could pick a nice wine/cocktail bar and make sure everyone knows it’s an **optional** afterparty.

      As for gifts, I always suggest outdoor fire pits. You can get a nice fire bowl that takes wood or charcoal, or you could get a more substantial fire table with a propane tank.

      Why not a Target gift card? She could buy $100 of toothpaste or cat food if it’s not her usual shopping stop.

    9. Beezus*

      I was cash strapped when my sister got married, and I wound up giving her a recipe box with some nice recipe cards, with recipes for some of our favorite childhood recipes written on them. I think you have to give her something, but when you can’t spend as much cash as you’d like on a gift, go for high sentimental value instead.

  37. C Average*

    I am dealing with friend drama.

    My childhood best friend, with whom I’ve been very, very close since we were both about ten, moved to my city a few months back. I introduced her to my ex-boyfriend, who works in the industry she hoped to work in. He not only helped her get some contract work in her field, but the two of them wound up dating. This was all fine. I’m happily married, my ex and I are friends, and I was genuinely happy for them.

    They have now broken up, and she says he is being creepy and she is afraid of him. She has forwarded me emails and texts he sent her as evidence of his craziness. (I didn’t ask to see any of this. She told me she wanted someone else to know what was going on in case things escalated.) She has asked me to come with her to collect her things from him, as she doesn’t want to see him alone.

    I’ve told her I am happy to come along with her to collect her things, and even to collect them for her if she doesn’t want to see him at all. And I am.

    But the stuff she forwarded? It’s . . . not creepy. It’s completely ordinary. I even showed it to my husband to get his take on whether it’s creepy, and he agreed with me that the messages are actually pretty polite and respectful for a guy in the middle of a breakup with someone he really liked. There’s nothing threatening or stalkerish or anything like that.

    I am biting my tongue and trying to be supportive of my friend by helping her in any way I can with the practical aspects of all this, but it’s hard to offer the degree of sympathy I know she’s seeking because, objectively, it seems like he’s trying to effect a pretty amicable and civilized breakup. I’m just not seeing the crazy. And this is based on the evidence she provided specifically to demonstrate the crazy! It sounds like there are good reasons for the breakup and that it’s probably for the best, but beyond that, there’s just not much to see here.

    He’s been my friend for a long time, and he’s friends with my husband as well. It feels hinky to accept someone else’s unflattering account of him unquestioned. And I feel like there’s an implied assumption that I will end my friendship with him, which I’d rather not based solely on what I currently know.

    I want to be a good friend to her and a fair friend to him. I’m not sure these things are compatible.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Is there a way to say to her, “I am totally here to support you however you need, but I want to be honest with you that I’m not seeing what you’re seeing in these messages. Taken on their own, these don’t alarm me. But I trust you that you’re alarmed — is there something going on that’s making you interpret these differently?”

      I’m trying to figure out how to word this in a way that isn’t “justify yourself to me” or “prove to me that your fears are warranted” … someone else might have better wording.

      1. C Average*

        You know, when I first read this suggestion, I found I couldn’t even envision having such a conversation with her. Which is odd, because it’s not an objectively unreasonable conversation to have.

        I’m trying to figure out why I had this reaction.

        I think part of it is that we’ve always been so very simpatico about literally everything. We’ve known each other for decades and we have literally never been out of sync in the way we viewed anything. We’ve read and loved the same books, listened to the same music, borrowed each other’s clothes, and generally liked and disliked the same people, places, things, and ideas. It is a new experience to have a different point of view about something important than she does.

        I think another part of it is that I know instinctively that she wouldn’t react well to me questioning her about a thing like this, at least not in the thick of it. It would change our friendship, I think. I imagine that down the road, when the dust has settled, we could probably talk it through and I could gently probe for these kinds of answers over a bottle of wine, but I think she would feel betrayed and abandoned if I questioned her now.

        My inclination, now that I’ve thought about it, is to drop him a brief email and say, “I don’t know what happened between you and B, and I’m not going to ask. I think she needs me right now and I want to give her my unqualified support. Please know I’d like to stay friends with you, too, and I’m not a fan of taking sides in these situations, but I may need to distance myself a bit from you until things have cooled off between the two of you.”

        In my experience, he is the more reasonable and less emotional of the two of them, and I’m hopeful he would understand.

        Thank you for your suggestion. Just thinking about that language, and why I can’t use it just yet, helped bring me around to an answer that feels right.

        1. Colette*

          Is that what you want? I think you can choose to remain neutral – i.e Alison’s script above, without necessarily asking whether there’s more to the story. You don’t need to be a judge, and you should be able to stay friendly with both of them.

          The price, of course, may be that your friend is angry, but I’d be concerned about being friends with someone I couldn’t ever disagree with.

        2. Apollo Warbucks*

          Is this type if drama typical for your friend?

          I can’t help but think your ex is getting the short end of the stick here. Your assement of the situation is he’s not done anything wrong, yet you’re going to offer unqualified support to your friend?

          Does she have a history of this type of dram? You say she wouldn’t react well to you questioning her take on this situation, have you seen a similar attitude at other times?

          You say your ex is more reasonable and less emotional than your friend, have you seen her be irrational and overly emotional at other times?

          I understand that you don’t want to change your relationship with your friend by having a challenging conversation but sending an email like that to your ex could well change the relationship you’ve got with him.

        3. neverjaunty*

          When you say she “wouldnt react well”, what do you mean – that she’d be defensive, angry, end the friendship? Why do you feel that she would react this way; is this something that’s always been true of her, that you two are in sync because you’ve never questioned her?

          Or would she react badly because she’d perceive you as siding with your ex – and if so, is there a grain of truth in that?

    2. Moonsaults*

      I know girls with that personality, they think anything short of never speaking to them again is a guy being obsessed with them and wanting them back, which turns into ‘this guy is so creepy!!!!”

      Especially since you dated him as well before, that’s where my alarm bells go off that she’s on some kind of wild trip within her own mind. I like to remember that every relationship is a special world all to its own and what we know of Guy and Girl in our platonic, even if they’re remarkably close are indeed different than when in a romantic relationship.

      I had a friend for almost two decades who I trusted her POV a little too much. she told me a guy was creepy, obsessed with her and all that. they were only ever just friends. Then things melted down between all of us, now I’m close to him and have cut her out of my life due to the dramatics. His side of the story was reasonable and not at all creepy when put into perspective.

      I would tell her that you want to stay out of it and be prepared to lose her in this one in the worse case scenario. She’s been your friend for a long time but that doesn’t change her behavior right now, nor does it change that she may just be trying to use this to force you to choose sides, which is childish and unflattering to say the least.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, my alarm bells went off here, too, C Average.

        I have family like this. BIG DRAMA and then they show you the evidence and … it’s. just. not. there.

        Please do not drop this guy an email, please do not do anything until you are totally sure of what it is you are dealing with here. Matter of fact, don’t tell the guy anything she is saying, until you have a really good handle on things.

        I agree with Alison, I think you should ask her what is up with the emails. Just say, “I know you gave me those emails to show me something, but I am not sure what you are showing me. I think I missed something here.” Notice how you can keep the convo just about her and her perspective and you aren’t saying things like “I have known this guy for decades and he is a decent dude.” Ugh.

        You can do this, I have seen you write here, so I know you will pull the words together in manner that is in keeping with who you are. And to be honest, you have been through some really difficult situations and you handled them with class and intelligence so you can do it here too. Just take your time, maybe re-read the emails and think about what it is you want to say.

        It could be that your guy friend has changed and he is not who you thought. It could be that she misread some stuff or she is adding in bad memories and coming up with the wrong ideas.
        Personally, I am not a fan of using email to solve personal problems. Voice inflection is missing. People don’t realize the ambiguity of what they have typed because they are not saying it out loud. Feed back is not instant, I can’t say, “what does X mean?”, I can only keep reading and having no idea what X means. etc.

        Tread slowly here. There is no need to do anything quickly anyway other than help her get her stuff.

    3. C Average*

      Thanks, you guys. Your input here has been really, really helpful in thinking about this.

      I decided I needed to have an actual conversation with the guy, and we’ve just finished chatting. I feel quite sure that he bears her no ill will, she’s not in any danger, and that any creepiness is in her perception, not in his messages. It feels good to know that my dear friend isn’t at any risk, and that my very high opinion of my ex can remain intact.

      He understands and supports my desire to help her with logistics. (I have easy access to a truck, and she has some large items that need to be removed from his place. This is why I’m involved in the logistics at all.) He also understands that she is like a sister to me and that we have been extraordinarily close since we were quite young and that I would never, ever say a bad word about her, even if it were true.

      It’s interesting: I’m coming to realize how different we’ve become, despite having so much shared history and so many surface similarities. That we don’t look at things the same way. That she can read a set of emails and text messages and see something there that I simply don’t. That our life experiences over the past three decades have shaped our perceptions in ways that now surprise me.

      I will probably listen quietly to her through this, but I will be ready to express my perspective if and when the time is right. And I feel on much more solid ground in my resolve to maintain my friendship with my ex.

      1. Moonsaults*

        I understand this confusion all too well for you when it comes to this stark difference between you and your best friend of so many years.

        The girl who was my best friend from 8th grade until our 30’s was much the same. We thought the same way about things, liked the same things, read each other’s minds at times it seemed. We spent summers as kids with each other bouncing house to house, giggling and being absolutely inseparable.

        Sadly there came a time where we no longer saw eye to eye. She had grown to be extremely pessimistic and convinced the world was against her. Whereas after some life altering moments of my own, I was determined to be positive and finally trust more people because it was causing me to be utterly lonely. It ripped us apart and ended extremely ugly in the end, which is still difficult for me to be at terms with.

        It is possible to find something out about someone you think that you know everything about. It seems she lived elsewhere for awhile as well, perhaps during the time you were separated, things happened that changed her POV on things as well. So now that you’re in the same city again, you’re seeing all these things that are shocking.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        “It’s interesting: I’m coming to realize how different we’ve become, despite having so much shared history and so many surface similarities. That we don’t look at things the same way. ”

        Great observation here. I found this with my husband as the decades rolled by.There were times where he surprised me with some of the things he said or did. Where did that come from? Well, it was the result of his accumulated stories over the years and it was a result of how he took in the world- what he concluded from what he saw.
        Several people can witness the same event and each come to a very different conclusion about what actually happened in that event. And it’s all based on what our life experiences have taught us.

    4. Saro*

      If I may offer another side of this, could it be that he is being threatening to her in coded language? I had this situation once where I was being harassed by an ex who used our history and background in emails and letters to quietly and subtly know that he was always around. From the outside, it looked innocent but left me feeling incredibly threatened.

      1. Saro*

        There’s more to the always around but I don’t want to get into details – he was very charismatic but it was a typical bad relationship with the typical red flags, age difference, power differential, moves to isolate me & etc

      2. Blue Birds Fly*

        I was thinking this could be a possibility, too. The messages might only be threatening when connected to conversations they’ve had or past actions.

    5. C Average*

      I want to thank all of you again for the good questions and advice you offered up here. It prompted me to examine some of the assumptions and decisions I was making in a new light.

      I’ve had a very productive chat with both of my friends (who are still both my friends!).

      I told her that I saw nothing objectively worrisome about his communication to her and that based on my pretty extensive knowledge of him, I didn’t think he posed a threat, but that I’d happily be there for her–as a third party, as a listening ear, etc.–as she’s processing this breakup and moving on.

      I told him that his attempts to gain some kind of closure were being viewed as overly persistent and potentially threatening, and that he needed to return her property promptly and without drama and then leave her alone. He hadn’t realized that she found his messages threatening (because they objectively weren’t, and because he hadn’t intended them to be) and agreed to drift away quietly, despite having some final things he’d wanted to say to her in person.

      They both know I plan to remain friends with the other party, and they’re both OK with that.

      They have agreed to handle the property handoff without my involvement, which is a great relief to me, and they both indicated that they were grateful for my help in sorting this out, which was an even greater relief. I have never been involved in other people’s breakup drama, and it was a weird position to find myself in, and I found myself feeling like a total buttinsky and was afraid they’d view me that way, too.

      Over the past couple of years I’ve had to navigate a really challenging situation with my stepdaughter, and I think my learnings from that have bled over into pretty much all aspects of my life. She wanted to cut her mother out of her life for reasons that I knew, objectively, to be based on wrong assumptions. I wanted to defend her mother, because I like her mother and I want them to have a good relationship and the objective truth is important to me in these situations. Through a lot of reading and thinking, I came to the realization that I needed to validate my stepdaughter’s feelings of fear and anger for her sake, but I couldn’t go so far as to accept their basis as truth. It’s a delicate dance. This situation felt much the same to me.

      Sigh.

      1. Clever Name*

        Glad it worked out! You’re really an amazing friend. Can you tell me what you read? I’m dealing with a similar situation where I can see that a friend’s perception of what’s going on is deeply skewed.

        1. C Average*

          I read several books about borderline personality disorder. I don’t think that’s what I’m dealing with in either case–and I’m not a shrink, so it doesn’t really matter what I think anyway!–but a friend recommended these books after I described my family situation to her. My favorites were “Stop Walking On Eggshells” and “I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me.” They both gave practical advice about supporting your friends and family emotionally while also maintaining your boundaries and personal integrity.

          1. Clever Name*

            Thanks! That’s pretty much what I’m struggling with, maintaining boundaries and not getting sucked in. This person is very good at garnering sympathy, and it’s gotten to a point where I feel like they are just a selfish jerk, but I know she has issues with depression, so that response feels less than charitable.

      2. Stellaaaaa*

        There’s an interesting element here, which is that it seems she ended things and that he kept reaching out to “gain closure.” While I wouldn’t call that creepy, after a while I might find it inappropriate.

        Now that I see this side of things, I admit that I’ve been like your friend in this scenario. I’ve dumped guys and had them keep texting asking for explanations (after I’d already given them) and trying to reconcile, or trying to guilt me into “staying friends” when that’s not what I wanted. Of course, these texts were super-nice at face value. But when I had already broken up with the guys, it definitely did make me feel uncomfortable that they JUST WOULD NOT STOP.

        Why was your ex texting and emailing her so heavily after they broke up? Was he trying to get back together? What kind of closure was he looking for? Had she asked him to stop and he didn’t listen? It’s not unreasonable to view persistent texting from an ex to be a violation of boundaries.

    6. Stellaaaaa*

      There are two possible scenarios here.

      1) She’s trying to get you to take her side or is just a general drama queen.

      2) Sometimes abusers send sweet texts or emails during periods of calm. It’s part of the gaslighting and manipulation to make other people think that the accuser is a crazy liar, because no one else is seeing things that have happened behind the scenes.

      Since you’ve dated the guy, you have some decent insight into which of these scenarios is likely to be true. Of course, the fact that he didn’t abuse you doesn’t automatically mean he didn’t treat her badly, but if your friend isn’t volunteering any other backstory I think you have to assume that she’s struggling with how to navigate a friendship circle after a breakup when there are so many overlaps.

  38. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

    In three weeks today, I’ll be back heading to the USA! I so, so need this break. We did two weeks in the US last year (including our 36-hour jaunt from California to D.C.) and loved it. This time we’re going for three weeks — two weeks in California, four days in New York, four days in Salt Lake. It’s going to be crazy and I’m so excited.

    But while I’ve got plans for New York and Salt Lake, I haven’t got a ton of things on the list for California apart from Universal (WWOHP, duh) and La Brea. We did Disneyland and Santa Monica Pier last time. We’re staying with family in the Santa Clarita kind of area, and we have a rental car. Any suggestions?

    1. LisaLee*

      Not sure how far it is from where you’re staying, but Glass Beach in Fort Bragg looks pretty cool. It’s a beach entirely covered in sea glass.

    2. BRR*

      The Getty is amazing. Six flags is closeish to you. You could go up to Santa Barbara or even Hearst castle if you want to schlep.

    3. Mx*

      I’ll wave to you going the opposite way at LAX :) (I’m going to NZ in 3 weeks on my way to Australia!)

      I’ve been putting together a last days in LA list for myself, so here goes:

      Venice Canals, Abbot Kinney coffee shops, Santa Monica pier, Montana Avenue, Sawtelle ramen, Getty Villa, Getty Museum, LACMA, MOCA, Broad Museum, Otium just to look at it, Little Toyko ramen, Arclight Dome, Griffith Observatory/Hollywood sign, downtown LA architecture tours, Night + Market Song, Echo Park Lake + Masa pizza

      Would love recs from your side of the world as well :)

    4. SL #2*

      Six Flags in Valencia is fun if you like roller coasters! And WWOHP is a blast; I feel like Universal Studios is a little overrated most of the time, but they really did do a good job with the Harry Potter stuff.

      Do you like museums? The Getty is wonderful, and of course, don’t forget to head down to Malibu, if you’ve already been to Santa Monica. The Annenberg Photography Space in Culver City is a bit of a hidden gem, in my opinion. They have an incredibly emotional exhibit on Syrian refugees right now. I think it’s too late for you to get tickets to the Broad Museum (modern + contemporary art) but you might be able to get in on stand-by.

      Food-wise… Howlin’ Rays is the talk of the town. I’m also super-biased because I work close by and visit often. It’s super-spicy fried chicken, but you can control the heat level (I don’t recommend anything above medium unless you know you can handle hot food). It’s some of the best fried chicken I’ve ever had. Also, Philz Coffee is finally in town! Make sure you stop by one to get a mint mojito latte.

    5. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I guess it depends on how far you want to roam and if you want to take a few overnight trips in there.

      Orange County can be pretty neat to see – Newport Beach, Laguna, Huntington, but definitely DONT go on a summer weekend cause its packed! Or, as someone else mentioned, go north- there are some wineries with tastings in the canyons above Malibu (really laid back – one that we went to you buy a bottle and just hang out under a tree for the afternoon), or a drive up to Santa Barbara/Montecito area. Plenty of hikes in the area too.

      The Huntington Library (in San Marino, out Pasadena way) is supposed to have amazing gardens and art collections too, that may make it more manageable/enjoyable than the big gun Getty.

      1. Library Director*

        I second this. Newport is my favorite beach and the original Crab Cooker is a favorite restaurant. Knotts Berry Farm is not the same amusement park I grew up with (admission used to be free and you only needed tickets for rides), but I prefer it to Disneyland. The replica of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall at Knott’s is free to visit.

    6. Anonymous Educator*

      I’d recommend Griffith Observatory and the Getty—both extremely affordable (free with optional payment or free with payment only for parking).

  39. nep*

    Anyone here a nutritionist? Know about phytic acid in our food? I see a lot on line about it — some advantages, some disadvantages….Some people should avoid, for others doesn’t matter much. Apparently it binds to minerals so blocks our absorption of same, but also binds to things we don’t want in our bodies so can be good…
    Anyone have experience cutting foods high in phytic acid?

    1. Sibley*

      Nope. Here’s my food philosophy: Everything in moderation. Just eat a balanced diet in appropriate quantities and don’t worry about it until a doctor tells you not to eat something for a medical reason (fads don’t count).

      1. nep*

        Right. Well I’m not worried. Just curious about such things.
        Given that I don’t eat any of the food-like substances that (astoundingly) pass for food in the stores these days, I reckon I’m good as far as that goes.
        Judging by the doctors I’ve dealt with over the years (granted it’s a small sample), they are the last people I would ask about nutrition.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Am chuckling. I had a doc tell me that food has nothing to do with health. I said to myself then why the heart diet, the diabetes diet, why food restrictions on certain ailments and so on.

          Will keep my ear open about phytic acid and let you know if I hear anything.

  40. Mica*

    God, this is so depressing to ask, but are there any other only children out there who’ve lost/are facing the loss of a parent? My father has a terminal illness, the doctors were hesitant to give a prognosis that was like “you have 6 months to live” or whatever, but Dr. Google has informed me that he probably has about a year, if he’s lucky maybe 18 months. Anyway, he was always my primary supportive parent. My mother is sort of, well… I won’t get into it, but let’s just say I’d hesitate to put her as my “emergency contact” after my dad passes.

    I don’t know if this is something that everyone who’s lost a parent goes through, or if it’s because I’m in my late 20s and an only child… I just feel so angry and so afraid of being “alone” after he dies. I don’t have a partner (I always thought I’d be married and have kids by the time my parents died, guess not), I’m not anywhere close to having one. I have a handful of friends, but geographically they’re distant. I do see a wonderful therapist. But nothing changes the fact that I just feel so *alone*. Like, who will care about me after he dies? No one. I just feel completely devastated. I’m afraid that life won’t ever be “good” again. Ugh. Any wisdom?

    1. Tex*

      No wisdom, but lots of sympathy from me. I lost a parent several years ago and I have siblings, but they pretty much bailed and I’ve been supporting the other parent single handedly. I don’t know what to tell you, except that you will find out who your real friends are after all this. And friends – good friends – are like family too: a family of choice. Keep in touch with them; some of them will understand what you are going through, others will not have to face it for decades.

      In my experience the first six months after someone passes are fine; there’s lots to do, there’s relief that the hospital visits are over and it feel likes the parent is on an extended business trip. I caught myself thinking that I need to remember to tell my dad this or show him that before I remembered that he’s not there anymore. At about the six month point that’s when the realization sets in that he is permanently gone and it’s a very empty, frightening feeling that will eventually fade over the next couple of years but it does feel like a black hole. You will feel a barrier between yourself and others who have not gone through it.

      I would say do as much as you can with him right now…vacation together, call up his old friends to come see him, get in touch with his side of the family a bit more. Record you and him having conversations. It might be years before you can look at that stuff, but at least you will have it. But also don’t put your own life completely on hold. It might not be the time to go on an extended backpacking trip, but take care of yourself and give yourself a break with long weekends out of town when you need to get away from it all. He’s probably very worried about leaving you behind and showing him that you’re doing normal things may help alleviate some his anxieties.

      As for help with your mother in the aftermath, if she is not in complete denial then the best thing you can do for practicalities is have discussions as a family about wills, finances, records, etc. The hospice care worker said that when people can feel they are near the end, they have an urge to get organized and get spurts of energy to do things even when very sick and I absolutely saw this happen in my dad’s last days.

      Again, my deepest sympathies.

    2. Amber Rose*

      No wisdom but lots of empathy. I’m an only child. My mom passed away abruptly 5 years ago next week. My dad and I have an awkward relationship. It’s rough. When he dies I feel like I’ll be an orphan, even though I’m an adult and been living on my own for years.

      It gets easier but it’s going to be rough for a while. I’m sorry. If you can join a social group near you and try to make friends closer to you, that may help.

    3. Moonsaults*

      Not an only child but around your age and my father, who I’ve always been close to, a total daddy’s girl, has had health issues that have left him frail and constant check ups to see if there’s any abnormalities.

      The mortality of a parent is devastating and you are not alone right now in your suffering. I was a late life baby for my folks and their parents all passed away from terminal illnesses when I was a pre-teen/early teen. I watched them struggle and mourn, even with one another and children, it left my mother in a deep depression for at least a year following my grandmother’s death. She also spiraled when my dad was going through the extensive treatments required to get rid of his cancer.

      So honestly, whereas I wasn’t alone in the same sense that you feel right now, none of my family was able to comfort me, they were all hurting too much, I was the rock for a moment at first but I crumbled and crawled into my own hole soon enough.

      It will get better, when you’re in the thick of things, it’s nearly impossible to really wrap your mind around that.

      Please try to use this time to be with your dad, don’t wish time away and try not to look too deep into the future. I learned from my dad’s illness that life is special and such a limited thing, you have to live each day and find something in that day to appreciate. Your dad loves you and no matter what, he’ll always be your dad and with you inside your memory and heart.

    4. Dynamic Beige*

      My mother died of cancer when I was 19. It was awful. I don’t have much in the way of family, so that whole “who will care about me afterwards” I never really thought about it because, to be honest, I never really felt like my mother cared all that much about me when she was alive. When I say “me”, I don’t mean my physical body/her child, I mean me as a person, separate from herself.

      While I am not technically an only child, I might as well be. What you’re going through, I went through after my grandfather died. He was the last family member that gave a damn about me (or so I felt). Which is selfish, I know. I also didn’t have a partner, or children at the time and it was a very lonely, isolating experience.

      I’m glad you have a therapist, I didn’t and should have (couldn’t afford it). What I’m going to suggest is that you find a group for people going through grief or supporting people with cancer in their lives. You’re going to need people to talk to — face to face — that are going through a similar thing. “Ordinary” people just aren’t going to get it. It’s hard to talk about with people who haven’t gone through it, they just don’t get it. You have a lot to grieve, and it might help you to hear other people feeling and saying the same or similar things that you feel or think.

      Or, find a meetup or something that will take your mind off of it for a while every week where you get to meet new people. Board game night, learn to crochet, yoga class. It’s the worst thing ever when you’re going through a bad time but life does go on. As much as you want the world to stop so that you can catch your breath, have a nap, cry your eyes out, it doesn’t work that way. Also, be careful about making any major life changes right now. It can be pretty common for people to do things like rush into a relationship/marriage, a cross-country move, or a career change as a reaction to their grief. Sometimes, it’s what they needed in their life anyway, but others are just an attempt to deflect from feeling.

      Ask your father all the things you want to know, what he remembers when he was a kid. Record it if you want/he’s OK with that. Spend what time you can with him. Maybe he is up to writing a journal about his life.

      Everyone is going to go through this eventually… unless they’re unlucky. You’re just getting it sooner than the majority are. I know that doesn’t help but like everything, the only way out is through. One day, this will all be over. One day, you will feel OK — if only for a moment — after he’s gone. And then that moment will be more than one, until you find that you can think of him without feeling sad or devastated. In the meantime, be kind to yourself. Take walks. Remember to breathe. Think about what in your life is working, and what isn’t. What is important to you, and what you should let go. If getting married and having a family is something you want/that is important to you, it’s not too late, you can still make that happen for yourself. Sometimes, things like this are wake up calls to remind us that time is passing and be mindful of what is truly important to us.

      I’m very sorry you’re going through this… but I bet you have strength you don’t you have and you will get through it.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Wonderful advice here.

      I’m an only. I lost my first parent when I was 23 and my second parent when I was 34. Then my husband when I was 45. It’s that second parent, my father, that really tripped me up. It got me. When my husband got sick, I knew what I had to do to keep me going because I had learned with my father’s passing.

      It’s okay to feel angry and it’s okay to be afraid of being alone. This is what grief looks like, it’s a mixed bag of all kinds of stuff. Often times it leaves us feeling powerless and that makes sense if you think about it. We don’t have a lot of power in fighting death.

      Death is a really odd thing in that it causes some relationships to end and triggers new relationships to begin. It’s almost impossible to see this right now, I know from first hand experience. But you will never be alone. There will always be people in your life who care about you.

      One of the people who will care about you is YOU. Start now, start taking good care of yourself. Yeah, this means eating more salads and drinking water. But it also means crying when you need to, getting yourself a little treat when you can, and it means realizing that you are ALREADY taking care of you. We know this because you said you are in therapy- yah! and because you have started a discussion here also, yet another good move.

      People are great, they really are. As people become aware of your setting, you will get offers of help. Either say yes or accept a modified version of their help. That could look like, “Well, I am not up for going out to dinner but I would enjoy having a cup of tea with you.” I am not sure why these kind people crop up in bad times but they do, so carefully start saying yes to offers of help. These people could become key in your future.

      Yes. Life will get good again. Will life be the same again? NO. But that does not mean it will not be good, it’s a different kind of good, but you will still enjoy it. Will you forever remember this time here? yes. You will never forget. You will learn a lot about yourself and about others, and about life. We never stop learning this stuff actually. But one thing to keep in the back of your mind, be a good student. Because one day it will be your turn to talk to someone in a remarkably similar situation. And it will be your turn to say, “It’s never as bad as we imagine in our heads. The stuff we worry about this most is usually NOT what actually happens. Something tamer and a little more manageable is what happens.”
      One day at a time. When you find yourself loading up with worry again, remind yourself to focus on today and all the opportunities you see today. Don’t lose today because of worrying about tomorrow or five years from now. Each day is a chance to build a better foundation for our own future.

    6. KR*

      My mom died when I was 14. My dad’s approaching 60 and has some health problems, but is generally more active and healthy now than he was in the past. I do get a lot of anxiety sometimes about what will happen when my dad dies. It was worse when I was still living with him and he was supporting me. Now he has a long term partner and I have step siblings along with my brother so the anxiety isn’t that bad in that regard.

    7. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      My mom died suddenly when I was around your age and left me taking care of my dad and sibling. My relationship with dad is and has been awkward for years, honesty has not been his strong suit given our rather complicated past due to money problems, and so like you, I already feel alone. I have a wonderful partner and child now but the moment she died, I felt like I had been orphaned in the only sense that mattered: having my family of origin who cared about me. The surviving family exist but like you, it’s not in any way that is support. If anything, on her death I inherited two more dependents.

      And it hurts. I won’t pretend that grieving was easy, it wasn’t. You’re both grieving the loss of the parent for their sake but also the future moments they won’t share with you. And other commenters are right, most people who haven’t been through it don’t understand. But there are a lot of us who have been though it and do understand. My dear friend and I refer to it as our membership to the Dead Parent club. Because it sucks a lot and it sucks more if you’re doing it alone. Know that you don’t necessarily have to – we are out here and we offer support when we know someone has joined the ranks. There have been a lot of hard days where knowing that there are friends who understand has helped.