weekend free-for-all – September 10-11, 2016

Eve headThis 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: How to Party with an Infant, by Kaui Hart Hemmings. Food, gossip, snark — a delight.

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

{ 842 comments… read them below }

  1. KR*

    I’m engaged. Parents find out tomorrow or Monday and then I can tell the world. But for now it’s just you all and my roommate and my pets who know.

    1. Mimmy*

      Congratulations!! Enjoy this time as you begin to plan the wedding. Many people find it very stressful, but I found it to be one of the most joyous periods in my life.

      1. KR*

        Thanks! We’re having a small Vegas wedding so we can move in together (military) and then having a bigger wedding in about a year.

      1. KR*

        I think so, but my cat is leery of having to move and my dog will miss me very much while I’m in Vegas. Thank you. :)

  2. House cat*

    Anyone live in the Ozarks? (Preferably the AR side but MO will work too.) Tell me everything. We’re thinking of moving, but I’m concerned about severe weather and the whole personal property (not real estate) tax thing.

    1. Rubyrose*

      I can’t speak to personal property. I lived in Fort Smith for about 5 years and made several trips up to northwest Arkansas, think the Fayetteville/Bentonville area, which may be farther west than you are thinking of.

      I would move there. With the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and Walmart corporate headquarters in Bentonville, there is a diversity of people and ideas you don’t find in the rest of AR. The airport, NWA, is a decent airport (don’t be fooled by the fact that you have to drive through farmland to get there).

      As to weather… I guess it depends on where you come from and what you consider severe. To me, a native Kansan, it is not severe. They would probably get some tornadoes not not many. In Fort Smith we rarely got snow and when we did it was minimal (2 inches). I would think being farther north the Ozarks would get more.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        The airport code is XNA for the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport. I used to have to drive there to pick up Italian exchange students for my university department, and the airport is in a very rural location. I used to always explain to them that Fayetteville was a thirty to forty-five minute drive away; they always seemed nervous about how remote the airport was, and I didn’t want them to think I was a crazy lady out to abduct them.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I do but I’m probably not the best person to ask, since I hate MO and want to leave with the white-hot fury of a thousand suns. Mostly because I don’t fit in around here and there’s nothing to do if you don’t like hunting and fishing and boating and church BBQs and church and eating fried everything and Walmart and church.

      I’m not sure what you want to know about the tax stuff (I have to pay tax every year on my car, but I think my mortgage payment covers my home tax). They send a thing every year you fill out and you list stuff like boats, vehicles, etc. Then they send you a bill and you can pay it online. You get a receipt that you have to have when you renew your vehicle registration.

      Weather–it’s really nice in spring and autumn (when we get them–the transitions between seasons can sometimes be short). Summers are hot and humid with temps in July and August between 85 and 100. Winter brings snow, ice, and temperatures with highs in the teens through the thirties, though we have had warm-ups in January and then we get severe storms.

      As for those, well it’s a hazard, to be sure. Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas do tend to get it worse than southern MO does (Oklahoma in particular). You will be fine if you don’t live in a trailer, have a place to shelter (preferably underground, like a cellar or basement), and have a plan. Tornadoes are mostly hit or miss–they’re not widespread things like hurricanes. You do get used to watching the weather when it gets a bit unsettled. Radar is better than it used to be. We don’t have disasters like the Joplin tornado often, thank the universe. Flash flooding kills more people around here than tornadoes, mostly because they’re stupid and try to drive through water-covered roadways and low-water crossings.

      It’s a conservative part of the country. In some places and on plenty of issues, it’s incredibly backward (especially AR and OK). But people are mostly pretty nice, and if something bad happens, they bust their asses to help. So it’s not all bad. Some of it is even really pretty. There’s a God camp down by the MO/AR border I went to during the summer before my senior year, and we spent some time hiking around on the Buffalo River. Very beautiful down there. Some very rich kids went to that camp–one of the kids in my age group was the son of one of the Hunt Brothers. Housing is not nearly as expensive as some other places–you can buy a fairly nice house for around $200K. But wages are low also, and like the rest of the country, they didn’t rise proportionately with housing costs.

      Your mileage may vary. I actually would go back to the California coast in two seconds if I could afford it.

    3. SL #2*

      One of my best friends lives in Fayetteville, AR and I’ve visited her there before. It’s a college town, since UoA is right there, and Walmart HQ is also right there, so it’s pretty diverse and, in comparison to the rest of the state, liberal (which would probably be conservative by CA/NY standards. I saw Confederate flags and it shocked me, as a lifelong Californian and a woman of color.). It’s definitely not ~the countryside; think of it as comparable to a small city on either coast in terms of business/arts/culture. I actually had a really good time there.

      Tornado and storm warnings appear to be frequent but as far as I know, it’s just par for the course in that region and I think you get used to the storm and flash flood warnings after a while. I was in Dallas with my Fayetteville friend when they had their massive storm in May 2015 (that broke the years-long drought in like 4 days!) and it terrified me, but my friend was perfectly calm and explained that basically anyone who lives in that region is used to and knows how to handle storms like that.

    4. Noah*

      Liberal compared with the rest of the state but conservative compared with the rest of the country. People are very nice. They may invite you to church but won’t be offended if you decline.

      Eurkea Springs is a quirky little town that my family used to visit all the time. Lots of hippies, bikers, and live music.

      If you’re thinking more of the Fayetteville/Bentonville area, then it is somewhat diverse because of Walmart HQ being in the area. However it is also the area that the 19 Kids and Counting family comes from.

      I lived in Tulsa for a long time and they have similar weather. Bad thunderstorms and frequent tornado watches and warnings. However, I never saw a tornado when I lived there and I never really took cover in a storm shelter or anything.

    5. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I live in NW Arkansas and it’s true that we do get fairly frequent warnings of tornadoes and flash floods, mainly during the spring and early summer. My SIL from California is terrified by the thunder storms and lightning that we get here, but people who’ve lived here any length of time pretty much take it all in stride.

      Our big tax is the real estate tax; the personal property tax, assessed on any vehicles, boats, trailers, etc., isn’t very much.

      Probably the most liberal towns are Fayetteville and Eureka Springs. I live in a little conservative town right outside Fayetteville, and most of the teachers and kids my children go to school with are pretty conservative. I’ve been very grateful to the two or three liberal teachers who’ve mentored my kids and stuck up for them when they’ve needed it.

      All in all, it is an affordable area with much more opportunities and more progressive ideas than the rest of the state, but conservative compared to up north or the coasts.

    6. House cat*

      Thanks everyone! I really appreciate the personal perspectives. The area we are considering is fairly large right now, borders are approx. Fayetteville/Roger to the west, Branson to the north, Herber Springs to the east and I-40 to the south (think a square connecting those areas). We think the landscape is beautiful. I’ve lived on the gulf coast before, so used to hurricanes, but tornados alone terrify me because I can’t prepare. For those of you that have experience with personal property tax, is it usually a large amount? I’ve never lived in a state that had that particular type of tax. Again, thanks for all the responses! :-)

      1. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

        Don’t assume you can’t prepare for tornadoes. While I’ve only experienced one, based on my conversations with Oklahoma natives, they are not usually a surprise.

        The weathermen/women LOSE THEIR MINDS. Like, they’re talking about the possibility of it several days in advance. Then you hear it about it everywhere. Then the sirens go off, or your weather radio goes off, or your cell phone goes off. Then you get in the tub, or in the cellar, and wait.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Ditto all this. Some people now are starting to install pre-built storm shelters that are designed to go beneath the garage. So the opening is in the garage floor, and if the meteorologist says, “Take cover now”, or more conservatively, if the storm is upgraded from a watch (conditions are right) to a warning (tornado spotted), you can go down there.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            In the garage? This is interesting, is this better than a basement in a home? Or is it because a lot of homes do not have basements? I am picturing jack-hammering through a concrete garage floor, that can’t be fun.

            1. Mallory Janis Ian*

              It’s because so many houses don’t have basements here, which is strange to me. I grew up until age six in southern Illinois, and every house that I knew of had a basement as a standard feature. Then here in Arkansas, hardly any of the houses have basements.

              The companies that sell the pre-fab storm shelters do all the installation, I think. They only recently became a thing, like within the past five years or so.

      2. nonprofit manager*

        I live in California where everything is taxed. Even so, the only personal property tax that I have experience with is boats and mobile homes. Vehicles are assessed a separate license fee based on the value of the vehicle that is paid yearly at registration. I would suggest looking for the state taxing authority’s website, which might provide some guidance.

      3. E*

        Sorry for posting so late. I grew up in Springdale (between Rogers and Fayetteville), attended the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, and now live up near the MO line but on the AR side out in the boonies and I drive almost an hour to work. There’s a bit of something for everyone in this area. I’m amazed by the growth in my lifetime but I prefer the quiet rural life and the commute is very scenic. I’ve only dealt with property tax via my mortgage/escrow, but it’s not super expensive at all ($250ish for 2.5 acres outside city limits per year).

        And I’m so excited to see that several folks who read AAM are in my area!

  3. Windchime*

    The neighbors next door used to have two dogs that barked non-stop. These poor dogs were left outside constantly; no attention, no walks, no playing ball in the yard, no exercise or play at all. Just sitting and barking all day. They got lots of visits from the police department for noise complaints — funny how that works. The barking stopped a few months ago when one of the dogs bit several children (stitches were involved) and the neighbors subsequently got rid of the dog.

    Now they’ve got a new puppy. They are playing with it and training it and — haha, just kidding. It sits outside the patio door whining and howling all day because it wants to be let inside. WHY do people get dogs and then ignore them like this?

    1. SignalLost*

      I have no idea, but my neighbours do the same thing. They have a cat that’s an indoor/outdoor cat, and he cries to be let in when he wants in. They don’t seem to hear it, either – even when they’re home, they can often take up to five minutes to let him in (or for him to give up) and the way the acoustics in the area work, his cries come right into my window. I would literally steal the cat, but I already have two rescue cats of my own and they have their own problems; introducing a third cat would be a disaster. I also completely hate these people because, surprise surprise, they don’t parent their kid either, and I think 9 is a little old for the random-shrieking stage, especially since a) I have talked to them about the noise; b) other neighbours have as well; c) it’s a heavily urban area and you just should use your brain and realize that’s not acceptable.

      1. Windchime*

        The acoustics here are the same way. We have a bunch of big houses in a row whose backyards face each other, so it’s like a giant megaphone when the dogs howl and bark. And I guess it’s no surprise to you that these people don’t discipline their kids, either. They race motorized, child-sized mini bikes up and down the streets and sidewalks and they don’t watch for cars. I’m terrified I’m going to accidentally hit one of them with my car.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            The funniest thing I ever saw with the little pocket bikes was when I was leaving work for the day at the university. It was pouring down rain, and this young guy’s pocket bike had broken down. He was standing there, getting drenched in the storm, pulling and pulling the starter cord so he could get on his tiny little motorcycle and ride home with his knees up around his ears. I never could understand why he didn’t just pick it up, put it under his arm, and run home with it.

            1. Mallory Janis Ian*

              Somehow this spectacle was like the polar opposite of watching thirty clowns come out of a Volkswagen, but similarly funny.

      2. Crystalline*

        Ugh. Just ugh. I had a lovely kitty but, after discovering I am super duper not a cat person aT ALL, I figured he would be much better off with a new home (and I’ll stick to dogs!). My neighbors looooove him. So much so they adopted him from me, and then made him an outside cat. He’s never been outside! It breaks my heart every time he tries to follow me home or come inside with me :( Now I can’t take him back as I’m at the limit for my apartment. I’m starting to think the Humane Society would be a better option. He’s so loving and sweet. Maybe somebody else in your area will take pity on the crying kitty.

        @WindChime : That’s awful and someone should immediately high-five people like this. In the face. With a brick. More than once. Poor puppy. I saw someone mentioned the Humane Society or ASPCA, but if the puppy is a purebred, you might also contact the breeder, if you know where they got it. Any responsible breeder is going to want to know about that, I’d bet. My baby frustrates the crap out of me but I can’t imagine leaving her outside all the time. She’s just a *baby.* :(

    2. Blueismyfavorite*

      Some people shouldn’t have pets…or children.

      One of my neighbors would go spend the weekends with relatives and leave her two dogs in the fence to bark all weekend long. She finally stopped after numerous complaints from her neighbors and me complaining to the HOA. We live in a year-round hot climate so those poor dogs were probably burning up. Same lady’s grandkids come over and play in the backyard and let out constant, loud, high-pitched screams. It’s extremely annoying.

    3. neverjaunty*

      Because they’re garbage. Is there a humane society or animal control in your area that might help?

    4. Lily Evans*

      My neighbors have the worst yappy dogs (and yappy kids too). I honestly don’t understand how the other apartments in that house deal with the noise, because I can hear the dogs when both they and I are in our respective buildings. It’s just not fair to keep them in a tiny city backyard and apartment like they do. My roommate and I have joked about kidnapping them and bringing them to a farm where they’ll have room to run and bark without bothering anyone. Some people just should really not have pets.

    5. Bad Candidate*

      I had a neighbor like that once. I felt so bad for that dog. I got a dog, and we didn’t have a fenced in yard, so I’d take her out to the yard on a leash for a quick pee. Well of course that made his dog bark like crazy. Really everything made his dog bark like crazy. All.the.time. One time he comes out and says “Do you really have to do that?” And I say “Take my dog out? Actually yes, yes I do.” And he says “Why do you have to do it over here? It’s making my dog bark.” I told him my dog could be on the far side of the moon, it wouldn’t stop his dog from barking. Idiot. One time I got into it with him too, big screaming match over the fences over something unrelated. No one else in the neighborhood would stand up to that jerk but he left me alone after that. I was not having it.

      1. Too Many Specifics*

        I got into a shouting/talking match with my neighbor a few months ago. The dog barks and howls if he knows or thinks I’m in my driveway, yard, or apartment. (I sometimes call him my external doorbell, such as when my father comes by and the dog flips out because there’s someone in the driveway.) I was doing yard work and the dog was being its ballistic self, and I admit I tried to scare it by banging on the chain link fence on my side. The owners have made up crap like, “well he barks because he can’t see you”, which didn’t work when there was a hold in their old wooden fence and doesn’t work when he runs to the windows. The wooden fence has been replaced, so luckily I had six feet of opaque protection during the argument.

        Neighbor accused me of antagonizing the dog repeatedly, including in the past, and that’s why he barks at me and only me. I angrily told her he barks when I’m watering my plants, mowing my lawn, bringing out garbage, arriving at home, washing dishes in my kitchen, using the bathroom, taking a nap… But yeah, sure, *I’m* the problem.

    6. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Our neighbor used to let his dog bark and bark at all hours of the day and night. One night we were lying in bed and, once again, the dog was barking his head off with no intervention from his owner. My husband got fed up and leapt from the bed, went outside, and yelled at the neighbor’s bedroom window, “For God’s sake, shut that damned dog up!!” The guy took the dog inside then, and the barking subsided for a few nights afterward, but eventually it was the same again.

      1. Windchime*

        Oh I will admit that I have screamed, “SHUT UP!!!” out my window a couple of times. The neighbors can ignore the dog somehow, but they don’t usually ignore it when I scream at the dog. It drives me nuts.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        It really chafed, because we and the neighbor guy each had German Shepherds near the same age. We trained ours to stop barking if we knocked on the window, and anyway, she slept on a doggie bed in our room at night. So it was frustrating that we could manage our dog’s barking and he wouldn’t manage his.

      3. Crystalline*

        Reminds me of my old apartment complex…downstairs neighbors decided it’d be a great idea to put their dogs outside all night. Except for where they’d start barking somewhere around 1 or 2, and then sporadically keep doing that up until 10 or 11. I think my roommate was the first person to stick her head out the window and shriek “COULD YOU NOT?!” since she had an early shift. It still took phone calls complaining to the manager before they stopped doing that. I don’t understand how people think that’s acceptable. Especially when you know you’re disturbing everybody around you/the whole neighborhood.

        1. George*

          I once had upstairs apartment neighbors who left their dog on the balcony at night. My balcony extended further than theirs, so when the dog peed off the balcony, it landed on mine. Sigh.

    7. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

      Sadly, these people usually think they are good pet owners. I have a relative who keeps adopting cats and dogs. In the last year their animals have: developed diabetes, gone blind, lost an eye to infection, lost an ear to infection, gotten fleas and on top of that all the critters pee and poo throughout the house.

      Yet this person A) has the audacity to criticize my, indoor only, healthy weight, kitties with no such injuries. B) Constantly chafes at even the slightest mention of pet care, getting immediately offended and super passive aggressive. C) Continues to adopt new animals!

      It’s mind boggling to me. I just don’t get it.

      1. Chalupa Batman*

        This is super frustrating to me. I cringe at people who say that dogs “need to be outside” as an excuse for why it’s ok to leave a dog chained all day every day in all kinds of weather. I’m not anti-chain as a concept: as a kid I had a dog that was chained while we were all gone at work/school, within easy reach of an ugly but well constructed doghouse with food and water. He absolutely hated being in his kennel, but did well when he was outside (we lived in a climate where it stayed warm enough that I didn’t own a coat) and couldn’t be trusted to stay inside the yard, even though it was fenced. He was immediately brought inside or released to run free in the yard when we got home, and slept in the house. A chain or kennel is a safety measure when the dog can’t be supervised, not a home. Now I joke that my new puppy has turned me into one of those obsessed-with-their-spoiled-mutt people, but puppies need a ton of attention, training, and stimulation if you want them to grow up to be well tempered pets. It really is like having a baby in the house. It irks me that these people probably expect that this will grow into a friendly, well behaved dog without any real intervention on their part. It’s not their old dog’s fault he became aggressive, it was theirs, but I’m sure they expect this dog to be different.

    8. Pennalynn Lott*

      At the apartment I lived in before I bought my house, my across-the-breezeway neighbor used to leave his dog on his balcony when he’d go to his girlfriend’s place overnight. The poor thing was usually pretty quiet, unless there was a storm. While there was shade, based on the building’s location, there wasn’t any shelter from the driving rain (and sometimes hail). I eventually was able to catch up to the guy one day and asked if I could please dog-sit the next time he was going to be gone overnight. The guy never took me up on it, but his dog was also never left out on the balcony overnight again.

    9. NaoNao*

      I used to live in a horseshoe shaped section of apartments where the balconies/porches all faced a central lot. So dogs left on balconies (and there were many) were audible to ALL the apartments in the lot. One night I was out talking on the phone at an unusually late hour and my upstairs neighbors were too. The across the lot dogs were out, barking their little heads off.
      I joking suggested that someone should go over to the offending apartment and leave a note on the door saying something vaguely threatening like “Wouldn’t it be a shame if someone got mad and poisoned your precious babies?” (I would NEVER do anything like that let alone write the note, I was blowing off steam) and my much younger, much more inebriated neighbors did just that! Went indoors, came out in all black clothing with a hand written threat note and went over there to deliver.
      Upshot was: those particular dogs were never seen or heard from again!

  4. JOTeepe*

    YOU GUYS MY HUSBAND WON A TRIP FOR TWO TO LONDON FOR THE PREMIERE OF THE NEW BEATLES DOCUMENTARY. We leave Tuesday. !!!

    Fortunately, my boss responded, “Obviously you are going.” Obviously. Though I didn’t have a passport, so we had to make an emergency day trip to Boston to get one yesterday. Phew.

    I have a reputation with friends and family for being a time hoarder. Now, the next time someone asks me why I always keep my leave balances near the max (I NEVER give back time, for what it is worth), I’m going to respond, “Because sometimes, your husband WINS A TRIP TO LONDON, and obviously you want to be able to go.” :) :) :)

    1. JOTeepe*

      Also, the dress code for the premiere is “Smart Casual,” which is predictably vague per Wikipedia. We are erring on the side of what we’d wear to work but maybe a bit more stylish. (Feminine/casual dress + sweater for me; Oxford-style button down + khakis for him.)

      1. Tess McGill*

        Have the best time! Lived south of London for two years. My favorite city ever. From September through March, “smart casual” for me always meant a nice skirt, nice boots and a blazer. I think you have planned your outfits well. Everything (especially food) is crazy expensive in London. Our favorite fast casual restaurants are Homeslice in Neal’s Yard, Patty & Bun (Liverpool Station and Bond Street Station), Smack Lobster and Wagamama (yes, it’s a chain, but we loved it). No need to tip. Honest. If you want afternoon tea (it’s not “high tea” — it’s afternoon tea) try The Brown (Brown’s Hotel) … less expensive and easier to get into than The Ritz (which is overpriced anyway) or try The Savoy. If you are determined to eat in pub, stay away from the tourist traps and try The Lyric or Coach & Horses in SoHo, Cross Keys or The Harp in Covent Garden, or Queen’s Head in St. Pancras. Of course, there will be tourists in all pubs, but these places don’t cater to tourists, making them more “pub like” and less “tourist like”. If you have time for just one museum, my personal favorite is the V&A (Victoria & Albert). Yes, the British Museum is awesome, but the V&A is just so wonderful (and the cafe inside is gorgeous (take a peek at the ceiling). (I like to call the V&A a girly museum … fashion, furniture, jewelry, architecture … and fabulous gift shop. It’s divine!) Have fun!

        1. misspiggy*

          Lovely advice, but as a British person I’d say do tip in table service restaurants and taxis. Only 10% is needed, or 12.5% in London restaurants.

          1. Tess McGill*

            I will clarify … we always tipped the cabbies when we took one … but I spent more time on the Tube. Also agree about tipping only 10% in table service restaurants. We often dined in places where tipping was not expected. We were totally used to tipping and willing to do it, but after a bit, realized it wasn’t always required.

        2. Mander*

          I’m in St Pancras all the time and I don’t know the Queen’s Head. Where is it? If I’m looking for a pub there I usually end up in the Parcel Yard in King’s Cross.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            There’s a yummy tapas place near King’s Cross called Camino. It’s kind of tucked away–has a bar and a restaurant behind.

            And if you’re near there, go to Granary Square and go to the London Bookbarge!!!!!!!!!!!

        3. Crystalline*

          I want to save this comment so when I get around to London, I’ll have an idea where to go!

          @JOTeepe: That is flippin’ amazing and I hope you have the most wonderful time! You go, you time-hoarder, you.

    2. Artemesia*

      How exciting! Major British museums are free and the British Museum’s ancient civilizations collections are amazing (the Rosetta Stone, various temples etc –) Great town.

    3. SL #2*

      Hahahaha I’m also a PTO hoarder! But I just love having the luxury of being like “I would like to take this day off because I want to do _________ instead” and not have to worry about needing that time for Christmas/Thanksgiving/whatever.

    4. Penny*

      Congrats! It’s nice to hear that people actually do win those kinds of trips. I’m constantly entering into contests for trips and whatnot, though I have so many friends tell me it’s a waste of time. But real people do win!

    1. JOTeepe*

      Oooh fun! What sorts of things do you enjoy? The weather has been quite warm in NY recently, so plan accordingly. (Though some of the heat is going to burn off tomorrow, finally, but will still be in the high 70s/low 80s.) Central Park is lovely. There is the zoo, if that’s your jam, but if not just walking around the park is really nice. It’s one of the most beautiful urban parks in the country.

      I’m personally not a big fan of Times Square, but a lot of people love it. You’ll get to check out Broadway if you are seeing Hamilton. If you like craft beer, I recommend checking out Draught 55 on 55th between 2nd and 3rd ave. http://www.draught55.com/

      The best cannolis anywhere (outside of Italy, that is) can be found at the admittedly super-hyped Ferrara’s in Little Italy. You may find a local that says they have a better spot. My husband and I have tried a lot of them. We want the little spots that aren’t Ferrara’s to be better. We really do. But we haven’t found one yet. http://www.ferraranyc.com/

      Also, there’s plenty of great pizza all over the city, but if you can go to Lombardi’s, I recommend it. In this case, there ARE better places (in Brooklyn, as it is), but Lombardi’s is right up there, and it’s very historic. http://www.firstpizza.com/

      Also, really, just walking through the different neighborhoods with no real purpose is lovely. If you want to move faster, you can grab a CitiBike and bike through the city. You can get just about everywhere via public transit – of all of the major US cities, NYC is by far the easiest to navigate without a car. A lot of people are intimidated by the subways, but especially in Manhattan they are actually quite easy. Also, the myth of the Surly New Yorker is exactly that. I’ve personally witnessed native NYers helping tourists navigate, going as far to escort them to where they are going.

      You are going to have a wonderful time! I could think of a million other things but 48 hours is a quick turnaround. :)

      1. BRR*

        “Walking through the different neighborhoods” exactly! Some of my favorite times are going from place to place and not the actual places.

        I’d reccomend the high line and the Rockefeller center art and architecture tour.

      2. K.*

        The Surly New Yorker is a total myth! I’ve had tourists say “You’re so nice!” in a surprised voice when I happily gave directions. New Yorkers aren’t mean, they just have places to be and stuff to do. I remember having a really lovely conversation with a woman visiting from Minnesota with her teen sons on the subway – they were studying the subway map and I asked them where they were trying to go and gave them directions. The woman and I had a nice chat afterward.

        One of the things I loved most about living in NYC (and cities in general – I LOVE living in cities) is the walkability, so I definitely recommend just taking a nice long walk and seeing where you end up. (I would not recommend doing it today as it is hot as Satan’s armpit in the Northeast right now, but next week is supposed to cool down and be nice.) If you’re a museum person, Museum Mile is lovely – you can go from museum to museum and then take a walk.

        Tomorrow is 9/11 so there may be a tinge of something in the air. Just something to be mindful of.

        1. K.*

          Also make sure to wear comfy shoes. You’ll do a lot of walking and standing in line. If you’re coming from a place where everyone drives everywhere, you’ll be surprised by how much walking you do.

        2. EmmaLou*

          Absolutely agree on the NY rude myth. Two things happened while we were there that stood out. First we’d just gotten my wheelchair so were still learning how things worked. Husband got a wheel stuck in a divot in the sidewalk in Manhattan and couldn’t get it out. A man walking by stopped, picked up the chair, moved it and kept walking. We shouted, “Thank you!” after him. So nice! Second was the cabbie captain at the airport yelling at our cabbie for not treating our things nicely enough when loading the car with our luggage. We’d thought he was fine but it was so funny. Arguing about who was nicer and how to be nice. Nice people were everywhere.

          1. TootsNYC*

            “A man walking by stopped, picked up the chair, moved it and kept walking.”

            This is NYers. We help, we just don’t hang around making small talk; we don’t think that giving you directions means that either you or us is required to become friends.

        3. AdAgencyChick*

          It’s true, we’re not all mean people! Just be smart about who you ask for directions — someone barreling down the sidewalk in an obvious hurry is not a good bet — and you will probably get them.

          I hate Times Square but if you’re visiting from anywhere else in the world except, say, Tokyo or Shanghai or similar, I guess you kind of have to go? Eat at Casellula (kick-ass wine and cheese bar) if you do. But I like SoHo best for food and shopping, and the Frick for a cool museum experience. (Not that the Met isn’t lovely, but the Frick is more intimate.)

    2. Today's anon*

      It is very hot and humid in NYC right now. Bring something to carry water! There’s a lot to do in NYC so think about neighborhoods maybe, so you don’t spend all your time going from one place to another. For example, the Met then walk through Central Park then the Museum of Natural History. The Highline then new the Whitney then explore the west Village, maybe walk to the Piers. Grab a CityBike and take the West Side Greenway north or south (more green up from 45th st), and see how NYC is by the Hudson. Don’t be afraid of the subway but also don’t be afraid of walking if it’s short distance.

    3. SL #2*

      I’m going in October so I’m going to keep a close eye on this thread to see what other people are recommending for you ;)

      Some things on MY to-do list are the High Line Park and the new-ish World Trade Center memorial.

    4. MsChanandlerBong*

      The Met has ruined all other museums for me, so if you’re into art, I absolutely recommend it. Take a look at the map online before you go. There’s no way you’ll see everything in one day, so it’s good to pick a few galleries you really want to see. I particularly enjoy European art, but the Greek/Etruscan area is amazing. The Egyptian exhibit has a giant sarcophagus and other amazing artifacts. The top of the Empire State Building has great views, but be careful about the weather. I stood in line for two hours and then couldn’t go out on the observation deck because it had started raining after we got in line.

      Loved the boat tour around the Statue of Liberty. You get great views of the statue, Ellis Island, the Brooklyn bridge, and Lower Manhattan. When you disembark, Battery Park is in walking distance. You can also take a photo with the bronze bull on Broadway.

    5. Myr*

      We visited a lot of free stuff when we went because we wanted to keep all our money for various Broadway shows. We enjoyed visiting Hamilton’s Grange a lot, though I’m not sure I would have paid for it, it’s cool for Hamilton fans. We also really liked visiting the Morgan Library, it’s an awesome building, and I loved the audioguide. Have fun!

    6. memboard*

      If museums are your sort of things the MET is the place to go. The Egyptian temple room is quite the thing. The rest is also a cut above the rest. The statue room for instance is quite something and so it the roman and greek rooms.

      Statue of Liberty is somewhat overdone, however it’s so unique that it’s hard not to go. I was there few years ago and it was airport security level, so no pocket knifes and what not. In fact security searches in NYC are common in tourist sites and a lot more that you will encounter elsewhere.

    7. Nancypie*

      There’s a walking pizza tour that you can sign up for that is supposed to be super fun. And, ummm, how did you get Hamilton tickets? Any tips?

    8. Lore*

      This may not be in your tour but Brooklyn Bridge Park is spectacular and if you want amazing skyline snapshots it’s the place to be. If you have time to do a loop in either direction that includes walking the Brooklyn bridge, going the length of the park, then taking the ferry from pier 6 to Governor’s Island, that’s a gorgeous afternoon. I’m not sure of the ferry schedule from Brooklyn after Labor Day though.

      Also if you go the the Met remember it’s technically pay what you will. Their suggested admission is $25 I think but you don’t have to pay that!

    9. skyline*

      Have you been there before–I’d prioritize different things for a first time visit than for a repeat visit. I was there this spring and also saw Hamilton. (Amazeballs!) The Met is well worth a visit, though if you’ve been there before, you might make a case for MoMA instead. Wear comfy shoes and wander through Central Park and along the High Line.

      If you’re looking for a second Broadway show to see, I can’t recommend Fun Home enough. Even on short notice, you should be able to get seats just a row or two from the front. (It’s staged in the round.)

        1. The Unkind Raven*

          Hamilton is fantastic! The hype is accurate – I’ve seen it twice & have a ticket to go again. Such a fun show. The theater district/Times Square is the worst, though, and 7th Ave in particular has been extra congested lately due to construction.

          I second the Strand from a commenter above, but books are my thing; if they are yours, too, I would suggest Three Lives down in the Village. Excellent book store; and the Morgan Library and Museum in midtown is very bookish (they have a Charlotte Brontë exhibit on now I’m planning on going to in a couple of weeks).

          As for museums, the Met is world class, and the fifth floor of MoMA houses Starry Night, as well as other wonderful and famous paintings.

          Have fun!

  5. regina phalange*

    So I am really worried about my friend. She broke up with her BF but is miserable and basically stalking him on social media – his twitter mentions, his instagram likes, etc. No matter what I say, she won’t stop. All she does is make herself more upset. I tell her to block him and she doesn’t listen. HELP!

    1. Rowan*

      If she can’t bring herself to block him (yet), maybe she can schedule and limit her time instead? Like, every day between 6 and 7 pm is when I look at what ex-BF has been doing online. The rest of the day, it’s off limits.

      1. Rahera*

        Sadly, I think you have to let her be and wait for the situation to play itself out a bit more. It sounds like she is not contacting him, which is a good thing for the sake of her not looking back later and wanting to sink through the floor in embarrassment.

        It’s a miserable state to be in however it plays out, and I hope things get better for her soon. In a similar situation, I couldn’t bring myself to block the person concerned but I unfollowed them on all social media and instituted Facebook-free days three times a week, just so I wouldn’t be tuning in to look for proof that they hadn’t contacted me. That’s quite helpful but I think it has to be something you choose for yourself.

    2. MeridaAnn*

      One of the concepts that comes up a lot on CaptainAwkward (a great site to check out for more suggestions) is that you can’t control other people do on their own time, but you can set boundaries for yourself. So maybe you can’t get her to stop looking at his social media, but you can let her know that you’re not comfortable discussing him. Any time she starts in with “Can you believe what Fergus posted on FB! He said blah blah blah!”, you can say something like “Friend, I love talking about other topics with you, but I really don’t want to talk about Fergus any more. What are your thoughts on [obvious change of topic].” And just be a broken record about it. “I’m sorry, I just can’t be your sounding board about Fergus issues. I’ve already said everything I have to say about him. But I’d love to talk about literally anything else.”

    3. Sunflower*

      Not sure if you’re still reading this but if so- this is pretty normal for someone going through a break-up. Social media is most likely now her only connection to him so telling her to block him is basically telling her completely cut him out of her life. Trust me- I am sure she wishes she could just block him/delete him but if the break-up is new, she most likely just isn’t ready yet. Most of my friends who go through breakups end up deleting their ex but it often isn’t until months later. If she isn’t ready to block him, tell her that she should limit her time. Like she can only check it once in the morning and once in the afternoon. It might also be easier if she tries to stay off social media completely. When I went through a breakup, it was really hard to not check my exs page so I decided to stop checking FB all together. Maybe offer to do a ‘social media cleanse’ with her.

      I would just try to keep reminding her how terrible she feels after doing it. Tell her every time she gets the urge to look, to remember how awful she feels afterwards. Also I would recommend picking up the book ‘It’s called a breakup because it’s broken’ for her. By the same guy who wrote He’s Just Not That Into You. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but it addresses a lot of the ‘But what if’ situations that people feel after a break up and it sounds like that might be beneficial to your friend. Good luck and just remember to be kind and understanding. And if you start to worry for her, don’t hesitate to suggest she think about seeing a counselor- even if it’s just for one session.

  6. anon for this*

    I’ve been feeling really gross and depressed lately. I’m 5’5″ and 148, which I know is on the edge of a normal weight for my height but inching towards being overweight. My stomach has a bulge and my face is puffy and when I gain weight, it’s in the stomach and the face. I’m overly aware of my problem areas when I sit or walk and I just feel unconfident and bloated all the time.

    It doesn’t help that I’ve been exercising and dieting for 6 months and still can’t seem to lose any weight. I do a mix of cardio and weight training and I know my weight isn’t muscle because my clothes still fit the same and my heavier areas are still the same. I track my foods and only drink black coffee in the morning and water for the rest of the day, and stick to fruits, veggies, protein, and whole grains. Very little added sugar or simple carbs. I have a bad sweet tooth, so I eat a lot of sugar to make up for the lack of baked goods.

    I know that my weight isn’t as bad as it could be, but I still want to go back to where I was at around 130 a year ago, but nothing I do seems to be working and it’s really frustrating and upsetting. Enough people have mentioned my weight and how different I look from a year ago that it’s really bringing me down.

    It’s not even that I’m looking to lose a lot of weight in a small amount of time, but I just want to see some progress. If I lose two pounds one week, they come back next week regardless of not changing my routine.

    1. Windchime*

      Have you started any new medications over the past year? Sometimes meds can cause weight gain and bloating. Maybe a trip to your physician is in order, just for a checkup to make sure something else isn’t going on with your health.

    2. Samantha*

      I second seeing your doctor. Could be something like a hormonal imbalance or thyroid issue that’s preventing you from losing weight even though you’re doing all the right things.

    3. fairyfreak*

      I have no good advice, just sympathy. I’m in the exact same situation, just one inch shorter. My weight came from my last pregnancy and a move across country, and I haven’t been able to shake it yet. :( I’m working out and trying to avoid I’ve cream (my kryptonite), but the weight is not leaving. On the plus side, after three months of fairly intense workouts, I’m finally starting to notice that I’m getting stronger with a bit more endurance. Baby steps.

    4. JOTeepe*

      It might be worthwhile to meet with a nutritionist, too, if you haven’t already. Weight loss is primarily calories in/calories out, but sometimes WHAT you are eating (even if it is healthy!) is not optimal for your activity levels. (For example, you might not be eating *enough* if you’ve been working out a lot.)

    5. Trixie*

      Depending on funds, might be fun to work with a personal trainer for a short time. Something to mix up the routine. Without variety, it is amazing how quickly the body recognizes our routines over time and we are no longer challenged.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Have you lost clothing size?

      I ditched the sweets for quite a while, I ate mostly protein and veg. I got to listen to the running commentary about my massive weight loss. I lost 3 sizes and a grand total of 4 pounds. This happens when you put on muscle.

    7. neverjaunty*

      I third the recommendation to see a doctor and nutritionist, if you can. Don’t worry about what the scale says, because as you know muscle weighs more than fat, but if your clothes fit exactly the same that’s worth looking into. Lots of things like hormones and medications can affect how your body acts.

    8. nep*

      Very little added sugar … Eat a lot of sugar — I don’t get what you mean here. What kinds of sugars are you eating a lot of?
      Every body is different and yes it might well be worth consulting a nutritionist, esp one who specializes in food sensitivities. I’ve battled with my weight for as long as I can remember. Recently seeing less bloating after cutting down on oats (pretty much the only grain I eat). Do you eat a lot of grains?
      Good on ya for continuing the exercise and better eating for six months — consistency trumps everything. Progress is rarely as regular or as quick as we want. Agree with suggestions to change up your workouts — more intensity, heavier weights if you can.

    9. BobcatBrah*

      It sounds like you know your weakness, which is the sweet tooth. That’s also my downfall (along with bored snacking, which is why I don’t keep snacks in the house). If you fix that, then everything should just click.

      Additionally, if you start pounding back half a gallon or so of water a day, you’ll shed a few pounds of water weight within a few days (of course, the caveat to this is that you have to keep drinking that much water).

      Good luck!

    10. Chaordic One*

      You say protein, but I’m not sure what you mean. If you are not a vegetarian, you should probably add a bit more protein in the form of lean meat, lean chicken and fish. You could also probably mix in some soup or broth. Consider having tea along with your lunch and later meals.

      1. Short and Stout*

        I think the advice to drink tea with or shortly after meals is bad, as the compounds in tea and the calcium in any milk added hinder iron absorption. Iron deficiency anaemia is a real risk for many people, and especially women.

    11. Kat*

      I recommend seeing a registered dietitian (RD). They have a lot of training and can be a good help. The title “nutritionist ” doesn’t mean anything. Insurance may pay for this (check your plan). If an RD is out of your price range, consider any of the apps for your phone or programs for your computer. Two apps that I’ve found helpful are MyFitnessPal and Fitbit. Of course, for Fitbit, you need to buy one of their movement trackers (some health insurance policies will pay for one!). I like Fitbit because it really shows me how much I move, as opposed to how much I think I move. The best thing about using one of these apps for food logging is that you can log your intake on the go. When you log at the end of the day, it is too easy to forget what you ate. After logging your food and exercise for a couple of weeks, you may be surprised by what you find. This can help you make healthy changes.

      Something else to consider is buying clothes that fit your current shape. I have done this myself since I have gained some weight. When my clothes fit, I am comfortable. And I look better and feel better about myself. And as I feel better about myself, I find myself taking better care of myself.

      Just some ideas. I hope they help.

    12. Myr*

      I like calorie-tracking too – I used loseit.com. It opens your eyes to how many calories there are in stuff. I have a huge sweet tooth too, so I found lower-cal alternatives (mostly by portion control, not by having aspartame and other diet versions). I like the Skinny Cow ice creams, and I like eating one piece of “fancy” chocolate after dinner. I also keep a lot of cut-up veggies at home always when I feel like snacking. I managed to lose 45 pounds in about six months thanks to tracking. Now I’m maintaining and I’m managing ok without tracking, though I still weigh daily. Good luck!

    13. Crystalline*

      Lots of sympathy and a big fuzzy internet-hug, if you’ve got need of one. I echo doctor/nutritionist and thyroid–that last one is my problem. My mother and I are actually doing a fasting protocol (yes there’s a doctor involved, no we’re not actually starving ourselves, insert other general disclaimers here) and it’s the first thing we’ve found in YEARS that has allowed her to lose weight without a massive awful struggle. It’s also not as hard as it may sound. Anyway, I hope you find what works for you…it’s so discouraging not to see progress when you’re working on it diligently.

    14. nonprofit manager*

      Two things jump out at me reading your post. But first see your doctor to make sure there is not an underlying health problem like your thyroid. Also, it might be a good idea to consult with a nutritionist.

      So the first is sugar. You say you are eating a lot of sugar. Stop that now. It will be hard, yes, but you have to stop. The second is I don’t see where you mention fat in your diet. What about healthy fats like avocados, olive oil, and certain nuts? When my weight was stuck and I decided to just focus on health, not being afraid of healthy fats seemed to do the trick and I ended up losing weight without much effort.

      1. Anonymous Pterodactyl*

        Yeah, fats are a pretty essential factor. Not all, obviously – don’t go chowing down on a tin of Crisco – but plenty of them have a lot of health benefits. Plus, things that are fatty tend to make us feel more full and satiated, where the same food item that’s low-fat can sometimes counterproductively trick the body into feeling less full and wanting more.

        Well, counterproductive for the consumer, anyway. Less counterproductive for the company making money off product sales.

        There’s a LOT we don’t know about nutrition, and so much of it is specific to each individual, but a lot of the time in pop culture it’s presented as “X in, X out”. Like, “If you EAT fat, you GET fat,” as if the fat just oozes through your organs over to your thighs or hips or belly. Holy detrimental oversimplification, Batman!

        FiveThirtyEight had a really neat article about the difficulties in understanding nutrition earlier this year, from the challenges in collecting data, to the pitfalls in analyzing it, to the issues even defining the scope of the question itself. It’s definitely worth a read; link to follow.

    15. DoDah*

      Portion control. Buy some small plates or ramekins and use those as your dishes.

      We are all wired a bit differently but if sugar makes you “hold” weight you may want to cut way back on fruit and increase your vegetable intake.

    16. Golden Lioness*

      I am going to something similar. only I am 5″ 1′ and went up 10 lbs when I was at the peak of my fluctuating normal weight, which translates in I need to lose at least 15 lbs… I know it doesn’t sound like a lot for some people, but when you are as short as I am and have been about the same weight since puberty, it’s really a big difference and very frustrating. I feel fat and bloated and everyone keeps telling me I look “softer” and I look OK and I am not big, etc… grrr!

      I went to the Dr. and they keep telling me all is well and I am healthy, (i am not, I am overweight in the BMI charts a s I have been borderline because I weightlifted and I am a lot more muscular than average) but I am peri-menopausal, so I know that’s why I am having these issues. It’s so frustrating, until about a year ago I was a steady size, just fluctuated a few lbs here and there, but now the amount of exercise or food restriction it would take for me to go back to my prior weight will make me ravenous and completely miserable…

      Just a long rant to say, I am sorry, I sympathize and you’re not alone. A lot of us are going through the same thing.

    17. Phoenix Feather*

      Not a doctor. Talk to one for real advice.

      But the sweet tooth and weight gain in the stomach and face make me think this is endocrine. I have PCOS and it has primarily caused insulin resistance. It sucks. Dietary changes can help. Prescription medications can help. But the doctor will help the most.

  7. NicoleK*

    So I’m going to try and eat healthier; more fruits, veggies, and fish. For people who follow a pescetarian diet, how do you manage this at work? I don’t want to be the coworker with the smelly fishy lunch.

    1. Felix*

      I’m not pescatarian, but I often have salmon at lunch. My tip is to eat it cold, WAYYYY less smelly and just as delicious. I bake it the night before and then have it on a salad the next day.

      Also, avoid eating fish in a shared office. If you have a cafeteria at work, or outside eating areas, eat your fish there!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I was getting some salmon pate at the store that I could eat daily for the rest of my life and be quite content. No smell to it.

    3. Lily Evans*

      When I was better about bringing lunch I’d make a lot of mason jar salads. Taco salad, with seasoned cooked lentils replacing the meat were one of my favorites. I also like veggie sandwiches or wraps with hummus or I’d make a batch of pasta or grain salads that didn’t have to be heated up. You can find a lot of ideas on pinterest and on buzzfeed!

    4. Thumper*

      Usually I never bother putting fish in my lunch and just stick to a vegetarian meal. At my job we travel a lot so I don’t have the luxury of a microwave, so I experiment a lot of with different ways of making pasta salad or regular salads. My favorite thing to make is whole wheat rotini with veggies and mixed with a generous spoonful of hummus instead of oil or pasta sauce.

      If you really want to use fish though, I’ve noticed shrimp doesn’t usually smell as potent as other fishes. Shrimp caesar salad is one of my favorite quick meals.

    5. StudentA*

      Why, sushi, of course :) Carbs don’t bother me, though, so that might not be the answer you’re looking for. Sushi doesn’t stink and you can get it at just about any grocery store. The stores near me have pretty good sushi.

      You can also do imitation crab and make it any form you like. It has little to no smell. You can put it in salad, burritos, deep fry it, whatever.

    6. MacGirl*

      I’ve been a pescetarian for almost eight years. I would recommend eating fish at home and stick to plant-based meals at the office. Hummus wraps, homemade bean burritos or bean quesadillas, and lentil salads are good options and fairly easy. I also sometimes make tempeh but that depends on how you feel about soy-based protein.
      One of my favorite cookbooks is Thug Kitchen. It has helped to inspire me when it comes to cooking with vegetables, but fair warning, there is a lot of swearing in the book. I also recommend browsing a few blogs if you need ideas.

    7. HannahS*

      Here are a few things I do for protein-y lunches:
      1) I make on pot of hearty lentil or bean soup/stew and one pot of some kind of whole grain on Sunday, then I combine a scoop of each every morning in a thermos or a glass thing if there’s a microwave.
      2) I’ve never found that cold fish smells much, unless it’s smoked, but the only fish I don’t mind cold is salmon, which I’ll eat on rice.
      3) The dressing from this recipe with some roasted vegetables, but over quinoa instead of rice https://smittenkitchen.com/2013/10/miso-sweet-potato-and-broccoli-bowl/

    8. Pearly Girl*

      I keep a couple cans of fancy imported Italian tuna in olive oil on hand. It isn’t that expensive ($2/can?) and has much more flavor than “in water” kinds. It makes a good salad add-on.

    9. Bluebell*

      The only fish I ever have at lunch is sushi. When I bring lunch it’s salads or yogurt and fruit. I’ve been a pescatarian for years and mostly have fish for dinner or when I eat out.

  8. Bibliovore*

    So here is something not everyone knows. Carbon Monoxide Detectors expire. So last night around 8:30 pm. Weird beeping noise from upstairs. It is the detector. It says END. I think oh it needs a new battery. That is weird I just put a new battery in a few months ago. I unplug it and start down to the basement to grab a new battery- transistor. Mr. Bilbiovore is coming up the stairs from the basement and said the Carbon Monoxide Dectector was beeping and was still beeping with a new battery.
    We think uh-oh- (for those following our house saga, we installed a new furnace this week) Call the furnace company, they say they will send someone on Monday.

    I go on-line (mad research skills) Open all the windows, air out the house. Okay. Does anyone have a headache? ….well now that you mention it…fatigue?…. dizziness? (okay so I do have headache but I have headaches all the time, I was up since 5 am going non-stop, so of course I am tired, and dizzy…I have had vertigo all week.) So if you change the battery and it is still beeping call 911. We call 911, they say close all doors and get out of the house but don’t go back into the house to close the windows, they send the fire department.
    Fire truck arrives . The neighbors all come out to see what is happening. The firemen test. Yep, the alarms are expired. Who knew? Thats what END means. Feel slightly embarrassed but glad we didn’t die in our sleep.

    1. Newish Reader*

      As the wife of a firefighter, I can tell you that they much prefer to come out and find out it’s just a faulty or dead detector than to have awful things happen. Glad you called to have them check it out.

      1. nonegiven*

        My cousin, when she was middle school age, woke up feeling bad and went next door and woke a neighbor, her whole family could have died in the night.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I noticed that when I put them up, there was something in the instructions that said replace after x time. I wrote the expiration date in black marker on the detector. I am cynical, it’s a law that you have to have these things, of course, they expire, this is how the money rolls in. But it could be that there are parts that become unreliable after a time, so some maybe okay and some may not after a given period.

    3. Bad Candidate*

      I did know that, but one time I had one that was faulty and started alarming. I freaked out, I was home alone. This was before broadband internet, so checking online wasn’t going to work. I unplugged it and looked at the back, it said to call 911. Now, I always wondered why they put that instruction on there, because if it’s going off, aren’t you going to know to call 911? Nope, it’s because you’re going to freak out and read the instructions. So I get the dog on a leash and the cat in a carrier, and I grab the cordless and call 911 from the driveway. Yeah, same thing, it was faulty. They were surprised too, they said I had the good brand. I just hope they didn’t talk about how messy the house was on the way back.

    4. Clever Name*

      Yeah, they last about 7 years. They also will reliably expire at 10 PM, or on a Sunday or holiday or any other time when you can’t just go get another one. So I like to have more than one in my house, but don’t buy them at the same time because they’ll expire at the same time.

      1. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

        +1 to the expiring at the most unreasonable times

        Why do smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, remote batteries, etc. all die at the most inconvenient times?!

        1. Awkward Interviewee*

          No kidding. The last time my CO detector did the need new batteries chirp it was 2am and scared the crap out of aroused from a deep sleep me. Why couldn’t it have done that at 2pm?

    5. blackcat*

      My system (hardwired smoke/CO combo) reached the end of its life recently. The entire thing went completely haywire for like an hour (final result: remove ALL EIGHT! of the suckers). It was awful and I think it traumatized the cat.

      On the positive side, we now have a new system. I felt super competent when I installed it myself.

    6. in MIA*

      Going to London and Paris October 26 to November 9 London and Paris November 9 to 16. It is my first time in Europe, any suggestion?

      1. Paris Lover*

        Pack neutral colored clothing, black, navy, taupe in simple, classic styles. Bring comfortable shoes, but not athletic shoes.

        Try street food and in Paris, try a sandwiche jambon from a bakery. You won’t need to eat at posh, pricey restaurants every day.

        Are you going with a partner, solo, or with a group?

    7. an ony*

      I had to deal with this same thing once when two of my non-hardwired, differently-branded CO detectors both failed within minutes of each other. My husband is a firefighter AND an electrician, and he wasn’t home when it happened, so you bet I threw him under the bus to our hometown firefighters.

    8. Science!*

      We had to call the fire department a couple months ago when we had a problem with our propane refrigerator releasing carbon monoxide. That’s when we learned our carbon monoxide detector DOES work, which is good to know. In our case, we were out of the house most of the day, so we came home to find the detector going off. Luckily my dog was okay, he was in the back room. It turns out something got caught in the flu (sp?) and was causing incomplete combustion of the propane which causes the release of CO

  9. Sandy*

    I discovered today that our typically very easy-going, puts-up-with-everything cat has finally reached his stress limit. An international move and three months of movers and construction later, he’s started getting huge bald spots, probably from stress.

    Other than giving him time to settle, and keeping his beloved carrier available for him to hide in, is there anything I can do to make him feel better? The worst of the move is over now, although I’m not sure I have the feline language skills to explain that to him.

    1. Me2*

      Some people swear by Rescue Remedy, although I’ve never found it to be too helpful. Make sure he has something in his carrier that smells of you (or whomever he is closest to). If catnip doesn’t rev him up too much try that. It calms two of my three cats down. I moved internationally with my three and it took a couple of months for them to adjust to the new location. Good luck.

      1. Momghoti*

        Yes, Feliway can really calmed my cats down–after our move they were stress peeing everywhere. We used a spray, and as long as we used it they calmed down. For about three months if we forgot they’d start peeing again, then they seemed to not do it any more.

        1. Onnellinen*

          Possibly a silly question, but how do you use the spray, or what do you spray it on? I have two diffusers (also recent move, also dealing with an annoyed cat peeing on things).

      2. Stardust*

        Agree with Feliway! It was suggested by my Vetrinarian for my cat and really made moving across several states much easier. I’ve used both the plug in and the spray.

      3. Golden Lioness*

        I second Feliway. It worked for my kitty girl.

        Lots of cuddles (if he will let you) and reassurance will help, as well as things that smell like you or the older place.

    2. Overbooked*

      Poor guy! Poor you! We had this happen to one of our cats after a big move – “psychogenic alopecia”, it’s called. We tried kitty Prozac for a while without noticeable improvement, then a different vet said that a simple antihistamine was more calming and certainly much cheaper. This did help, but it still took quite a while for him to get out of that anxious hair-chewing loop. In hindsight I think it might have been good to try making his world smaller for a while – fewer rooms available, less time outside – until he felt better about life. He’s fine now.

    3. mistersquawk*

      One of my cats takes these calming treats and they really work wonders. About two months after her move from the shelter to our apartment she was still howling every night and afraid of a lot of things.

      I’m honestly not sure which of these words is the name, but the bag says “VetriScience Laboratories”, “Composure”, “Behavioral Health”. Active Ingredients Thiamine 67 mg, C3 11 mg, L-Theanine 10.5 mg.

      It says you can give them as-needed, and your cat might not need them for long if he’s normally calm.

      My cat’s been taking two a day for about 2 months now. She stopped howling on day…2 I think? Today she actually cuddled up with me and let me pet her. She’s clearly a lot happier taking them.

    4. KR*

      Poor baby. Can you give him more play time? Does he have enough places to sit up high if hes a tree dweller cat and hide down underneath stuff if that’s more his speed?

    5. nonprofit manager*

      Poor guy. I like a lot of the suggestions above. I have personally used Feliway and calming treats with success. I also suggest that you make time to play with him. Get him running around, if you can. My male cat, who had some issues with stress, was not a player, but I finally found a toy that he responded to: A wand with a string attached to it, then at the end of the string, a thing that looks like a bug. He loves it.

    6. Sibley*

      Well, what you do depends on the cat. Various options:

      Get Feliway, they make a air freshener type version, plug it in. They also have a spray, but you have to remember that.
      Make sure kitty has a quiet, dim place to sleep/hide, preferably several such places.
      High perches can help.
      If he’s good with it, calm petting sessions.
      Aim for a calm, quiet, relaxed environment in general.
      Plenty of toys and play sessions.
      Reducing the “world” in size for a while can help as well. Closing off sections of the house so he can adjust to a few rooms, then slowing letting him explore additional rooms until he’s got free rein of the place.
      Reduce/eliminate outdoors time. My general rule of thumb is kitty must be comfortable inside before going outside.
      You may also consult a vet, ask if there’s any medications you could give him for a while to help him relax.

    7. Violet_04*

      There is a website called Cat Faeries that makes flower essences for cats dealing with various behavioral issues. I haven’t tried them myself, but they are lots of positive review on the site. Good luck and hoping for the best for him!

    8. Emily*

      Our cat has been stressed since we brought a dog into the household. Feliway diffusers around the house hadn’t helped at all. We ended up taking him to the vet because he was marking on things the dog had touched, and we wanted to rule out medical issues. They kept him a couple nights to get a urine sample, since stress can cause urinary issues in cats, which could have been the issue with the marking. Turns out he’s medically fine, but they did give us a urinary health + stress relief prescription food, which does seem to have noticeably calmed him down. Either that or he’s decided that being home with us and the dog is better than being in a crate at the vet refusing to use their litter box. I’d say it’s worth taking him to your vet to see what they might recommend.

  10. Bibliovore*

    And as long as I am here
    Good and bad.
    Good: we finally have a refrigerator after more than three weeks without. We went with the Liebhier. So far, love it. The new AC/Heating system has been installed. I went to the Farmers Market today. The kitchen is stocked and I am on the porch with a hot cup of Assam and three fabulous books that I’ve been waiting to read.
    Bad: A touch of 911 PTSD. Keeping the radio and TV off.

    1. Bad Candidate*

      Good: I have a phone interview on Monday. I posted in the Friday open thread a couple of weeks ago about applying for a job a few years ago that I was turned down for. I have more experience in the industry than I did then. Also, a former coworker works there and they asked her about me and she had nothing but good things to say. She told me that they like to hire people from my current company. Technically it’s a pay cut, $1/hour, but it could lead to more money with a skill set that I’d have to learn on the job. I’m hopeful that it works out.
      Bad: Weaned my new cat off of Prednisone two weeks ago with the vet’s OK. She came to me from the rescue with them saying they thought she either had IBD or food allergies. Vet thought it was hard to tell but said let’s take her off of the drug to see what happens. Foster mom’s vet had also put her on a “prescription” diet, so we weren’t sure what was helping her symptoms. Well the vet said give it two weeks and based on her symptoms, I’m guessing she has IBD. :( I’m still hoping that a diet change will help, or at the very least the “prescription” food is obviously not solving any problems, so if I’m hoping if I can get her on something that’s better quality, maybe that will help.

      1. mousemom*

        We have a little guy that has IBD. We tried one of the recommended (high-priced) prescription foods for a couple of months with no real improvements. We had had fairly good luck with the I and Love and You brand, so our vet recommended choosing one of the limited-ingredient kibble varieties and feeding that exclusively for a while. He’s been eating it for a couple of months now and is much improved. He occasionally has a flare-up, but nothing like what he used to have. We’re feeding him the Naked Essentials salmon and trout – it also has probiotics and probiotics, which may well be helping.

        We also discovered that he is VERY conscious of the cleanliness of his litter boxes. If they don’t get scooped daily (and sometimes even twice daily), he will begin to have accidents outside them. The vet said that this is not uncommon for some kitties with digestive problems.

        Good luck with your fur baby.

        1. Bad Candidate*

          Thanks for the info. Did your vet say why the kibble? Or was that your choice? I prefer to give wet food to cats, but they only have one flavor of “novel” protein in the wet, and I like to mix it up. Our old cat had diabetes, and there’s a pretty good health forum website for that, I’m going to ask there too because sometimes people have cats with different issues. So far she has not gone out of the box at all. Which is good! Our previous cat had other health issues and did, and I was concerned that she’d pee over his spots no matter how much we cleaned them. I do think I need to add another box for her though, right now she just has the one.

          1. mousemom*

            The vet recommended the kibble because the wet foods have a higher protein content, which can be problematic for cats with digestive problems. We originally were feeding only wet food, so switching to kibble was a little challenging for a couple of days, but he really likes this one. We have two cats and four litter boxes, and that works pretty well; our vet said (and I’ve read on some websites) that you should have the number of boxes that you have cats, plus one more.

            We also got one of the “bubbling” drinking fountains for our cats. They both love it. We were concerned about the amount of water they would be getting with the dry food, but the two of them combined drink about 16-24 ounces of water per day; I add ice to the fountain at least once a day and sometimes twice. They definitely prefer the fountain to bowls of standing water.

            The Nature’s Miracle cleaners do an outstanding job of taking care of smells and stains. It really helps to keep cats from using spots outside the litter box over and over.

            We’re hoping that once we get his issues under control, we can maybe give him the occasional treat. He’s had a bite or two of tuna that didn’t give him any problems, so it may just be a matter of time. Good luck with your kitty.

    2. Crystalline*

      Oooh yay fridge!

      Good: I’ve been working hard on my online business and now get to be cautiously optimistic about the future. I went back to trying to learn Italian and it’s quite fun–also pleased with how much I remembered! Stood my ground to get the schedule I wanted, and am so grateful I did.

      Bad: Yet another person I thought was a friend, is not. Sister is upset at me, but chose to complain to our mother rather than talk to me about it–her birthday is coming and now I’m worried it’ll be awkward.

  11. fairyfreak*

    Ok, I need some shared enthusiasm, and it’s not going to come from hubby. I found a store that has clothes I actually like. Even after I tried them on. :o It’s almost unprecedented, because I think most women’s fashion is horrible. Went to Stein Mart yesterday and was completely surprised. I actually enjoyed trying on the clothes. Crazy. Hubby was not particularly impressed with my triumph, but he gets away with buying most of his clothes online, the same brand/size each time. Guys, the struggle for nice clothes is real!

    1. Sparkly Librarian*

      Yay! I feel similarly about fashion, and it’s actually an event now when the NorthStyle catalog arrives. Apparently it’s the reflection of my inner (matronly) style that I haven’t had since Coldwater Creek closed down. Honestly, I’ve bought one item (actually, my wife bought it as a birthday present for me), but the planning is nice even when I can’t try things on or afford them.

      1. salad fingers*

        My friend and I joke about our early onset love of Coldwater Creek. Mostly vintage oversized smocks in like, rust and lime- real art teacher stuff.

    2. Mallory Janis Ian*

      My big life tragedy was when our local Stein Mart closed and nite the nearest one is six hours away. I’m glad you found one for yourself. It’s really great.

      1. fairyfreak*

        yeah, I hadn’t been to one in years, but we recently moved, and there’s one by my new work, so I decided to check it out. Completely surprised.

    3. Amber Rose*

      I know these feelings! There’s a store I’ve been admiring online called Blame Betty, and it turns out they have a physical store in my city. I was so overwhelmed by feelings of joy about this.

      And yeah, my husband was pretty meh about it.

    4. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Finding a store with clothes you like and can afford is the holy grail of fashion. Tomorrow I’m making a trip to the city to visit my favourite department store of all time and stock up now that I can afford to do so. Finding that store is AMAZING.

    5. neverjaunty*

      Give your husband a stern warning. Faking a certain level of enthusiasm for stuff that bores you is a basic Spouse Skill!

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I have had to tell my husband this! I spent our early marriage listening with enthusiastic engagement to him talk and talk and talk about bike components and kayak/canoe components and how he was going to customize his bike or canoe, and what bike or kayak trick the customization was going to optimize for him, etc.

        And then when I’d try to talk to him about clothing stores or some such, he’d be all, “That doesn’t interest me”, like Sheldon Cooper. He tried to say that his hobbies were objectively interesting, whereas clothing-store talk was inherently boring.

        I had to tell him that listening to talk about bicycle chains and tire spokes and gear shifters, etc. was not interesting to me, either. I referred to it all, collectively, as “sprockets” like the old SNL skit, so now “sprockets” is our code word for when one of us had listened to the point of boredom to the other’s hobby.

        1. Myrin*

          In my opinion, there is absolutely nothing that is “objectively interesting”. Otherwise, there would be things that every single person in the world does with a huge amount of passion, which is not the case.

    6. Mander*

      That is actually a huge thing! I have the hardest time finding anything I like, can afford, and that fits properly. It is one of my most significant stressors, oddly. Clothes seem like they should be trivial but they carry a lot of important meaning in our society, and it sucks when you can’t adequately present yourself because you aren’t happy with your clothes.

      (Yeah, I know it’s a first world problem, but since this is where I live these are the things that affect my life.)

    7. Chaordic One*

      I have a terrible time finding things that fit. They’re either too small or too large. I’ve turned into one of those people who shops by internet and orders 2 of everything in different sizes and then returns the one that doesn’t fit. (Every once in a while, neither one will fit and end up returning both.)

      I sort of feel bad about it, but I don’t know what else to do.

      1. the gold digger*

        I am in this industry – the one that deals with the returned garments. It’s a huge, huge expensive problem for women’s clothing retailers – and you know what?

        I. Don’t. Care.

        It would not be a problem if women’s clothes were sized consistently. Men don’t have to return stuff because it doesn’t fit – their clothes are sized in inches. Women’s clothing sizes are made-up BS and vary not only from retailer to retailer but within a retailer.

        They need to fix the problem. Until then, I will bracket order and return the one that doesn’t fit.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          Preach!

          When I am ruler of the entire planet (ha!) that is going to be one of the first things on the agenda.

          1. Amadeo*

            Please also consider adding to your agenda the matter of reinforcing the inner thigh area of jeans for those of us not blessed with the much coveted thigh gap. I lose more jeans that way than any other possible mishap.

            1. Myrin*

              This is actually the only way I lose jeans – like all my other clothes, I’d have them forever if it weren’t for that damn area!

            2. Dynamic Beige*

              Hmm… there may have to be a special section on clothes. All dress pants should come lined, damnit.

            3. Mander*

              I keep thinking there must be some kind of lubricant or Teflon thread or something that can be used in this area. It drives me batty.

            4. Dynamic Beige*

              I’ve been thinking about this and what exactly happens? Is it that the denim fabric rubs together and frays along the seam?

              1. Amadeo*

                The fabric rubs so thin that it ultimately frays to nothing if it doesn’t burst open first when you move your leg wrong.

        2. fairyfreak*

          Yes! So very, very yes! Since this is AAM, I will know comment on how this must be sexual discrimination, and ask if it’s legal to size men and women’s clothes differently. Especially since the mens sizing is so much better.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Yes, dammit, just let me order by how many inches around and long I am. If the fat men can handle their waist number, then so can I.

    8. brightstar*

      It’s a big deal to have a store you can go to and reliably find clothes! For me, that’s the Limited for Tops, Macy’s for pants, and Modcloth for everything else (they have so many dresses and skirts with POCKETS).

      It’s odd, yesterday I noticed a Stein Mart, I’d totally forgotten about those stores.

      1. Chaordic One*

        I was reading about a new fall TV sitcom called “The Good Place,” about a terrible woman who dies and then, by accident, gets sent to a version of heaven called “The Good Place.” “The Good Place” is a pleasant little town that has a clothing store called “Everything Fits” where everything fits.

        The show sounds interesting.

    9. TootsNYC*

      Oh, I’m so happy for you!!!

      To be able to reliably shop somewhere is such a blessing.

      I’m still mourning the A&S Department Store here in NYC; there were buyers there who just “got” me. (well, they obviously didn’t know me; but they stocked their racks with stuff that was my style)

      I’m doing the happy dance for you.
      And hoping that some of your good luck w/ rub off on me.
      (Probably not, though, bcs I’ve gained just enough weight that nothing fits me right, even if I like how it looks on the hanger.

    10. Golden Lioness*

      Love Stein Mart. One of my favorite to go stores for nice affordable clothes (the other ones are fab but very expensive, so with my pay cut I cannot longer afford them)

  12. Gobalt*

    How soon should you start dating again after the breakup of a long term thing? Dumped after around 4 years together around 6 months ago and though still pretty heartbroken I know it was the right thing to happen. Tried a couple of hook ups and decided they weren’t for me, but it still feels way too soon to be getting into anything. Should I feel the fear and do it anyway? Or lounge around in sweats hoping one day I feel ready…aagh

    1. Amber Rose*

      Dad started dating about a year after mom died. He keeps it casual because he’s not ready for serious but likes the companionship.

      So the question isn’t “how soon” in my opinion. It’s what do want out of dating? Would it make you happy to date right now, or would it make you feel worse?

    2. Cristina in England*

      Lounge until you are ready. Maybe make yourself get out to get some basic human contact, like small talk or something, but if you don’t want to date right now, definitely don’t.

    3. Dan*

      Depends on what you’re looking for, there is no magic number. You’ll feel ready when you feel it, I don’t think you can force it.

      Hookups may not be for you, but friends with benefits can be a nice middle ground.

      I’d say it took me two years after I split from my 3 year relationship before I really *wanted* to pursue anything with a woman.

      1. chickabiddy*

        I’m 1 year out of a 25-year marriage. I’m not heartbroken. I would be open to a FWB relationship should one appear on my doorstep, but I am not motivated enough to start searching for one. My ex is on his second fiancee already. I would like to say that there’s no right or wrong answer, except that I’m pretty sure he’s wrong.

    4. Gobalt*

      I’m looking to date I guess because I miss having someone to share things with and I miss having someone to learn about/be interested in. I’m also the wrong side of 30 and the breakup was from a guy I thought I would marry (even though looking back I had that really wrong haha). Unfortunately he moved into something straight away which I guess is contributing to me feeling I should be back in the saddle too.

      The hook ups made me feel worse ultimately (great at the time though!) and although I’d like to dip my toe into dating I’m not sure my heart could take it if it went wrong.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Of course you miss those things, and you should take time to mourn them if that’s what you need to do. Don’t rush into something just because he moved on. That’s not really fair to the person you date, who might be ready for something while you aren’t yet.

        Having been the rebound WAAAAAAY too many times, I would advise you to take your time. It’s fine to date if you want to now; I’d just keep it casual. And if you don’t and you just want to hang out with friends or do meetups or something, that’s fine too.

    5. Chaordic One*

      Option 3. Before you start dating again you should maybe go out with a girlfriend (or a GBF) just to get out of the house. Go to a movie, book club, dinner, or just coffee.

    6. Fabulous*

      My ex of and I broke up about 3 years ago but were seeing each other on and off for about 2.5 years afterward (he was out of state so it was a tad easier because of that), which put us at about 4.5 years “together”. I only JUST started dating again this year, about 6 months since we last saw each other. It took me nearly 3 years to move on, but all in all, it’s about when you feel ready. I don’t know that I would have been ready for a relationship before now.

    7. Golden Lioness*

      You will know when you are ready. Don’t rush things and only do what feels right for you.
      Everyone is different.

      It took me a year after my divorce to even consider casual dating.

    8. NacSacJack*

      My ex and I were together 10 years and have been broken up for about 2 years. I think I waited six months before I went on a date and the dates I’ve been on haven’t been that great because almost always we talk about the future (I’m not getting any younger here) and inevitably I bring up the “I want kids” card. Nobody’s beating a path to my door which just this weekend, having met some really nice, already committed guys, I think I’m okay with that. God is showing me he has people out there that I am compatible with, just making sure, working my life and his so we meet at the right time and place.

  13. Trixie*

    Booking two trips today, first “vacations” in years. Between finances, work schedule limits, etc., this could be the year. One trip to Madison during fall so perfect hiking, biking, farmer’s market weather. Second trip to Tucson over Thanksgiving and again perfect for hiking, biking, yoga, etc. Thinking both trips will bring some new energy to my routine, and motivation for new year. Good or bad weather, will be lovely to visit both former home cities again.

  14. Rory Gilmore's Book*

    Alaskan cruise recommendations? We are thinking about Holland America. We are in are early 30s, non-partiers, and dont want to be on a cruise where its kid-friendly, if you know what i mean. We are really interested in seeing Sitka too, so if anyone has any specific recommendations there, it would be much appreciated.

    FWIW, neither of us have ever been on a cruise before, so any general cruise advice would be great, too.

    1. Chocolate Teapot*

      I have only cruised on Norwegian, and not to Alaska, but if you haven’t visited it already, http://www.cruisecritic.com is incredibly helpful with reviews of cruise lines and ships, tips for destinations and advice for cruise novices (such as “How to pick the best cabin on the cruiseline that’s right for you”). You can also join the forums which can be useful as well.

    2. Chocolate Teapot*

      I just typed out a response and it went AWOL when I clicked the submit button. Very odd.

      Anyway, no advice for Alaska, and I have only cruised with Norwegian in Europe, but the website http://www.cruisecritic.com is very helpful, especially for people who have never cruised before. There is advice on which cruiselines are best for different people, tips on destinations and a forum where I have picked up useful information and reviews.

      1. Talvi*

        If there’s a link in the comment, it goes into moderation – that’s why it went AWOL on you for a bit (this is also why people here often will make a comment and mention a link, but leave the link itself in a reply to their own comment).

    3. Elkay*

      We’re a similar demographic to you and went with Princess and they were fine, there didn’t seem to be a lot of kids and we went mid-July. We went with Princess rather than Holland America because at the time Holland America didn’t do anytime dining (they may now).

      Also, don’t go to the totem park unless you’ve got a full day in Ketchikan but do go to the lumberjack show.

      1. DCR*

        I went on a Princess curse to Alaska with my mom (late 50s) when I was in my late 20s. I was a little younger than the average, which seemed to be more mid-30s to 60s. But I loved it

        Picked princess over Holland because everything I read said that the average age on the Holland cruises was older (more of the 60s to 80s range) and the Holland cruise was more expensive

    4. CAA*

      If you want to avoid kids, you would need to stay away from larger ships (even HAL). If you can swing the $$$, I think Uncruise trips look amazing. There’s also Nat Geo/Lindblad and Discovery Cruises. You could also look at Smithsonian as well to see if they have anything. You may also find fewer children on luxury lines like SilverSea and Oceania, but they’re also going to be on the pricey side and average age of the passengers will be much older. If you’re on more of a budget, there will be kids, but there’s usually plenty to do and ways to separate yourself from the really young ones.

      We did a Princess land and cruise tour with our then 16-yr old DD which included a week before the cruise where we went to Denali and also traveled by bus up the Dalton Highway to the Arctic ocean. We happened to be in the Arctic on the summer solstice, which was amazing. With the land tours, everything is taken care of except a few meals. The bus takes you to a hotel, you’re met by a clerk with envelopes and room keys for everyone, your luggage shows up in your room and you leave it outside your door the next morning — it couldn’t be easier, which was just what I needed since I was working much too hard to have time to research and plan for a self-driving trip. (Also, we could not have driven ourselves to Prudhoe Bay without violating rental car agreements.)

      The cruise portion was pretty standard, but we’d been on several Caribbean cruises before. Alaska was a bit more casual than our other cruises had been, with more people wearing jeans and lots of layers. The scenery was fantastic. We did not have a balcony room, but didn’t feel the loss as we preferred to be on the top deck where we could go from side to side easily.

      All-in-all, it was a fantastic trip, and we definitely want to go back and see even more of the state.

      1. Always room for cello*

        Uncruise is absolutely amazing– we went on one of their trips in July. Amazing scenery, great guides, great food, and not too many people. Highly recommended.

    5. Blue_eyes*

      I’ve cruised Holland America twice (in Europe though) and found it to be a slightly older crowd, so not a lot of partying or kids. I’m not sure whether the passenger demographics would be the same on an Alaska cruise. HA has pretty nice ships and good dining generally. If you can, spring for a room with a balcony, or at least large windows (sometimes the lower deck rooms only have little portholes).

    6. SL #2*

      I did Princess Cruises for Alaska and loved it. I’ve heard that Holland America’s ships aren’t quite as nice as the others (but not as bad as Carnival!).

    7. AliceBD*

      I did a Holland America cruise this time last year, but mine was between Boston and Montreal, so I can’t talk about Alaska. Overall it was fun, but I don’t think I would choose Holland America again because it was all retirees and I would like to sometimes chat with people closer to my own age (I’m mid-20s).

      I went because my grandmother (in her 90s) needed someone to help her so she paid for most of my expenses; the group we went with was all retired people from her church. Most of the ship was retirees. Out of a few hundred people there were one or two families with elementary schoolers, one family with teenagers, and maybe one or two other couples who were under 50. Walkers (like my grandmother had) were not uncommon, and no one knew how to work the elevators. (They were normal elevators.) There was no partying, but there were a lot of cocktails. I don’t drink so that was not interesting.

      I liked the stuff we did on shore — I did a mix of excursions and just walking around towns, and I got to see Green Gables which was the big draw for me — but on the boat was quite boring. The evening entertainment was hit-or-miss — some nights it was fine, but other nights was boring or we skipped it because it was absolutely not appealing. There was a casino but I don’t gamble. There was a library (with very expensive internet we didn’t use) with a limited selection but I had brought books; I like reading and knitting and did a lot of both, but there was no one to talk to. You’ll have each other, and hopefully your cruise will have younger people, but I was already explaining Kids These Days and hearing about When I Was Your Age every night during dinner, and I wanted to discuss current events/movies/tv shows/Facebook memes/SOMETHING with someone close to my age. The limited shopping on board was not interesting, except for looking at the (too expensive for me) art collection they had for sale. They had a good gym. I did not try the spa. I did not try the cooking classes. They did a couple of movies in a movie theater but they weren’t interesting so I didn’t go. They had one educational program about a tragic event in one of the ports we were going to, but the person presenting it (the cruise director) did not do a good job presenting and made an interesting event sound dull and boring. I wanted more educational programs — tell us about the history of where we are going! or about major industries! or about the plants that are here! — I would have been satisfied with a variety of topics but that was the only one they had.

    8. Laura*

      Went to Alaska on Holland cruise/tour 7 years ago. We actually only did a three day cruise out of Vancouver, and then spent 4 days in the Yukon before going to Fairbanks/Denali/Anchorage. I really liked it since everyone sticks to the cruise ship and not as many go to Dawson City.
      I’ve had Siberian Huskies all my life and followed the Iditarod since Wide World of Sports Days. Tour a kennel. We went to Jeff King’s near Denali. I know the Seavey’s have tours as well, and they have awesome commentary during the race on their Facebook page. (My Christmas gift to my parents will be a trip to see the Iditarod start in March. I’m sooooo excited.)
      I collected the gems you could get at the stops in Juneau and Skagway and had them set once I got home. Probably the stones weren’t that valuable, but I like it.

    9. JJtheDoc*

      Take a look at Princess if you haven’t already. I’ve gone to Alaska with them 3 times now and enjoyed every trip. Generally not many kids – at least not young ones! Lots of activity options, including a library with comfy seating, and lots of people-watching spots as well! The ports vary depending on the cruise you booked, and Sitka is one of the options. NCL is a step down, Carnival another long step down. No experience with Holland America, so…YMMV!

    10. Sarah Gross*

      My dad, who is an adventurous, experienced traveller who’s been all over the world, swears by Lindblad Expeditions. They are pricey and use smaller boats, definitely not your conventional “cruise ship,” but can go many places where those ginormous ships cannot fit. He just cannot say enough about Lindblad and has been on several cruises with them.

  15. Amber Rose*

    Our dealership wants us to pay $270 for an “emissions cleaning.” Apparently supposed to be done every 50,000 km.

    I’ve heard of emissions testing, but not cleaning, and Google turns up nothing. Anyone around here know anything about cars and can confirm or deny my feeling that they’re trying to rip me off? Because this sounds a lot like headlight fluid (something someone also once tried to sell me.)

    1. LCL*

      Ask them what is involved. If they are talking about fuel injector cleaning, there are diy products at the part store for much less than 270…

    2. neverjaunty*

      If it’s “supposed to be done”, that should be in the official maintenance recommendations from your car’s manufacturer.

        1. neverjaunty*

          I’m SURE your mechanic has an excellent explanation for that, and can tell you who, exactly (car manufacturer? government agency?) says it’s “supposed to be” done.

      1. SophieChotek*

        Huh….this reminds me of the time I got my oil changed and tires rotated and my mechanic assured me that I needed to get my hub cabs replaced….

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Maybe check at a couple of auto parts stores and see what they say. I guess I would point blank ask if this was some kind of a scam.

      Is your vehicle throwing up a code on the computer? Auto parts stores will loan you their machine, you can plug it in and get an idea of the codes your mechanic is seeing. Someone at the store should be able to translate the code numbers into real words and tell you.

    4. Noah*

      It is most likely fuel injector and throttle body cleaning and my local Jeep dealership is always pushing that despite the fact that Jeep says it is unnecessary.

      You can either get a bottle of Techron fuel additive or Seafoam cleaner from the local auto parts store. It will do the same job and be way less expensive.

    5. YaH*

      Popular Mechanics says it’s a scam, and as long as your Check Engine light isn’t going off then you’re fine. Cars dot com says the same.

    6. Aknownymous*

      Just as anecdotal data – I was talked into one many years ago when I was going in for an oil change, and my car went from nothing wrong with it to useless within a month. I felt something weird as soon as I drove off their lot, but I waved it off as a coincidence. When it finally broke down I went to them, but I couldn’t prove anything. Years later they had to settle a giant class action lawsuit for these cleanings, as they were both deceptive as well as damaging. It was too late for me unfortunately, but I learned a very expensive lesson – always get a second opinion from a trusted source. I would ask the car manufacturer.

  16. Grumpycat*

    How do you feel when your partner goes on a trip? I love Mr. Grumpycat but…I also love having the apartment to myself for a few days. I sometimes take solo trips too and enjoy them, but many of our friends and family seem really surprised that we deliberately plan trips separately. My parents have only been apart for like, maybe a week in the 30 years they’ve been married, which sounds kind of terrible to me. Or am I terrible?

    1. Cristina in England*

      My parents do what you do. I think it is great. My husband and I travel separately all the time, except usually it is me with the children and him alone. I would love the house to myself for a day!

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m so with you. My bf is out of town this weekend and I’m kicking myself because I agreed to a visit from my mom. This cuts into my alone time.

    3. neverjaunty*

      Gosh no. If it were “I can’t wait until Mr. Grumpycat is gone” all the darn time, then maybe you’d have a problem, but not a thing wrong with enjoying solitude occasionally.

    4. Pennalynn Lott*

      Boyfriend is at some fly-fishing thing this weekend and I’m loving it! I have a ton of homework and studying to do, but I keep taking breaks to walk through the house just to enjoy the peace and quiet. (Not only is he stompy-footed and talks loudly, but he *always* has either the TV or Pandora on, full blast).

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      Not terrible. I rarely get the chance to travel alone, but my spouse has traveled alone several times since we’ve been married, and I think it’s great… for us. Obviously not for everybody. But just because you’re coupled doesn’t mean you have to be joined at the hip.

    6. periwinkle*

      I take most of my vacations solo although lately it’s been mostly work-related travel. My husband does the same. We take day trips together. This is in part because of the cats – they’re too high maintenance for a sitter and too numerous for boarding – but in reality this is how we’ve done vacations for most of the 16 years we’ve been married. We’re both introverts who crave alone time and both enjoy being either the traveler or the one holding down the fort solo. Mr. Perwinkle has a business trip next week and I’m looking forward to a few days of Netflix binging…

      Whatever works for you both is just fine, no matter what other people say.

    7. Mander*

      One of the nice things about having a house that we can’t sell anytime soon in another city is that sometimes I can come here and hang out by myself for a few days. I love my husband but I’m also a true introvert and I like having time to be totally alone.

    8. Rob Lowe can't read*

      I am right there with you! Having the house to myself for a few days when my significant other is traveling for work or otherwise without me is very relaxing! We don’t regularly travel separately, though – only for work, which isn’t much for either of us.

    9. Lily Evans*

      I’m super single, so I can’t answer your question, but I have to say it’s nice to see that the general consensus is that it’s fine to enjoy time apart sometimes. I was talking to a couple engaged/married friends of mine a few weeks ago about my solo-travel plans and they both said things about how they’d like to travel alone, but now their SO’s would feel left out. And I was like, well why couldn’t they take their own trip? And I was stared at like I had two heads.

    10. Amadeo*

      Heh, I am not married or partnered (currently live with my parents out of necessity) but I find myself thinking that one of my childhood friends’ sisters has a pretty nice arrangement. Her hubby works for the railroad and is gone a few days at a time, leaving the house to her (and their daughter, but, you know).

      We are definitely a family of “I love you, but go away. For a little while. Please and thank you.”

    11. Blue_eyes*

      Not terrible at all! As long as it works for you and your partner, who cares what anyone else thinks (this is true for so many aspects of a relationship, isn’t it?). I enjoy occasional days to myself in the house when my husband is away. Getting to do exactly what I want to do whenever I want to do it without taking another person into account is refreshing for a bit.

    12. SophieChotek*

      Like Lily Evans I am single…but I’ve been living with my family…and it’s great when they go one their vacations (that I am not invited on, and probably would not go–unless it was Europe, LOL–even if I were) — but I love having the house to myself for a few days/evenings too…so the principle is the same…
      I don’t think it’s terrible at all. Most people need some ‘alone’ or ‘me’ time! =)

    13. Not So NewReader*

      I was married for over two decades and I am a firm believer that each partner should have their own thing that they do and that can be hobbies/travel/friends/etc.

      If you experience everything as a couple, then there really is not much to talk about because you both experienced it together. Every relationship needs down time, time for each person to recharge or collect their thoughts.

      As far as your folks, that is what works for them. Nothing is set in stone, marriage is whatever two people agree to. Neither one of you (you and your guy vs your folks) are terrible, it’s just the differences in people and their marriages. I know that there have been a few times when friends mentioned this or that and I caught myself thinking, “NEVER, ever would I be able to work with this in a marriage”. Differences in people.

    14. AliceBD*

      I’m single, but I have the experience of my parents. My mom travels pretty frequently for work — probably 12-15 long weekend trips a year, clustered at certain points of the year. She’ll be gone 3-6 days depending on the trip. My dad likes to do occasional trips with his Poker Buddies or to see his cousins on his own, but those are 2-3 per year. He was always scheduling them during my mom’s trips, which I thought sounded like an awful idea, until she finally got sick of never being home alone and told him he needed to schedule them on weekends when she was home. They do have the experience that when they were first married he was in sales and was gone for more of the week than he was home, and I think she missed that alone time.

    15. Yetanotherjennifer*

      I got back a couple of weeks ago from my annual trip with my daughter to visit family and my husband, who stayed home, commented to me that he missed me but enjoyed having the house to himself. I feel the same when he’s gone. I definitely miss him, but enjoy having some extended one-on-one time with our daughter. The only downside is I tend to “wait up” for him each night, fully knowing that he’s not coming home but I still stay up late as though he’s going to walk in the door any minute.

    16. C Average*

      My husband and I often travel separately. It’s logistically easier–we have full custody of his kids–and we like it.

      There’s something fun about seeing the side of your partner that the rest of the world gets to see. When my husband comes home from a work trip or a college reunion or an out-of-town race with his rowing club and tells me about his adventures, it’s like I’m meeting him again for the first time, and I find myself thinking, “Wow, he’s a catch! So cool that I am married to him.”

      Also, it’s fun to hog the bed and play Rock Band with the kids and have frozen pizza for dinner and sort of give the whole adulting thing a break for a few days.

    17. Penny*

      Not a spouse or partner but I have two roommates who are really truly friends of mine and I love all the stuff we get to do together… yet I so look forward to the times they’re both gone and I have the house to myself. There’s always one night of the week where they both work late so I get the evening alone and I love that one night to recharge.

  17. Pug Lover*

    Those of you with rescue dogs – do you ever experience this type of behavior with them?

    I adopted a super sweet Pug mix about two months ago. She has been a dream for the most part. Ive noticed that everyone once in awhile when I kiss her on her head or give her a hug, she gets terrified of me. She will go into hiding and sometimes she even shakes. She also hates fly swatchers – she is downright terrified of them. Unfortunately, we are in the middle of fly/fruit fly season where i live, so we use the fly swatcher a lot.

    I feel so bad. 99% of the time, she is so affectionate and cuddly and then, its like a light switch goes off in her head and she wont come near me.

    1. Elizabeth*

      Off-hand, I would say she was beaten with a fly swatter. Maybe you could switch to swatting flies with a rolled-up paper or something? Or you might be able to slowly train her not to mind the swatter by associating it with treats, etc.

      Same thing with getting terrified when you touch her — something about your approach on those occasions reminds her of when she was attacked or beaten. Trying to approach from the side rather than overhead might help. I learned that when taming a feral cat who’d had experience with birds of prey attacking from overhead! She never failed to flinch if I reached down from a standing position to pet her, but when I sat down beside her she crawled happily into my lap.

    2. Pennalynn Lott*

      My Great Pyrenees came from a hoarding situation. She becomes absolutely terrified if I try to kiss her head without first petting her. She also freaks out if I’m standing when I try to pet her. Sitting is safe, standing is not. And it took about 6 months to get her to come over to be petted when I sit. At first, she would only come when I was petting one of the cats or my now-deceased Chocolate Lab. She was like, “Oh, that other animal seems to be enjoying the human’s attention, I guess it’s safe for me, too.” :-)

      But now she’s a major pest whenever (and wherever) I’m sitting, constantly demanding to be petted. Pyrs do a thing called “Pyr Paw”, where they kind of clumsily whack you with a front paw in order to demand attention. It’s adorable right up until the bruises show up the next day. ;-)

      1. Red Reader*

        My bloodhound mix likes to pat people to get attention. She once trotted up to a plumber, sat down in front of him, gave him a doggy grin, and “patted” him right in the gonads. Luckily he was a sucker for dogs and very forgiving. I felt terrible.

    3. Amadeo*

      Kissing and hugging and generally looming over your dog is not necessarily aggressive but definitely a very assertive/dominant (to them) thing to do and that may be what’s setting her off. Most dogs just kind of put up with it and some might even enjoy the attention, but others need some time to get used to it or may never get used to it at all.

      As to the fly swatter, I agree with Elizabeth’s suggestion of offering some treat or other (doesn’t have to be food, necessarily) that she enjoys and slowly desensitize her to it and associate it with something good instead.

      1. Bibliovore*

        Foster fail here. We have a 9 or 10 year old Bichon. I second the not standing over, looming or fly swatter.
        My dog seems to be doing okay and then suddenly act extremely terrified. Even when she is seeking attention, I make sure there are no sudden moves. We consulted a behaviorist and he suggested it takes more than a year of calm surroundings for a dog to learn to trust that bad things won’t happen.

    4. Chaordic One*

      Elizabeth is probably right about the fly swatter.

      I just recently read an article on the internet that said that, generally speaking, dogs don’t really like to be hugged, although most will put up with it.

      http://www.mnn.com/family/pets/stories/why-dogs-dont-like-to-be-hugged

      I guess just pet her a lot, because she will like that. Hopefully, and over time she’ll feel more comfortable and not freak out when you kiss her head or hug her.

      As an intermediate step, if you let your dog on the furniture, have her sit beside you on the couch while you pet her. Then move to an overstuffed chair and have her sit beside you in the narrow space between the arm of the chair and yourself, all the while petting her and talking to her. If she gets up and leaves, let her. But if she wants back up and to sit next to you, let her jump up or help her up into the chair and get her turned around beside you.

      My dog will not shake hands and gets very annoyed with me if I touch his paws.

    5. Bad Candidate*

      I think our dog was in a mostly good home, but I think he also got hit when he was bad. I’ve noticed that he’ll watch my hands some times, and there’s been a few times that he’s cowered when we were scolding him. Mostly he did that in the beginning, we’ve had him about a year and a half now. Some dogs get past that stuff and some can’t.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      While it could be that she was beaten with a fly swatter, it also could be that the snap just makes her jump.

      My friend was willed his friend’s dog, a little dachshund. We know for a fact the dog was not beaten, nor was she hit with a fly swatter. That whoosh and then the snap/crack makes her jump each time. I think our sudden movement and our testiness because of the fly adds to the drama centered around the swatter, it’s several things combined.

      I hate those sticky fly tapes but they do work and I do use them. Maybe an idea like this would mean less fly swatter usage and she would calm down a bit.
      You could try leaving the swatter on the floor, where she can see it and perhaps at some point investigate what it actually is.

      When you are swatting flies do watch what you are doing. Do you have an angry tone to your voice? Do you move about suddenly and quickly? Many people I know, myself included, jump up, yell !@#$%, and start hitting the fly. See, this is what it looks like to her that you are angry with her. So if you chase flies, when you are done take a second to tell her, “It’s okay.”

    7. Jersey's Mom*

      One of my dogs is also terrified of the fly swatter. Hates the sight of it, and panics when we get it out of the closet. Don’t know why, she was never ever hit with it (or a rolled up newspaper). The best we can figure is that what makes her panic is that when we have the flyswatter, the behavior that we (humans) exhibit is that we’re annoyed, swinging like mad and end up hitting the wall (window, etc) a few times with usually a pretty loud whack.

      So, our pup is freaked out by our scary behavior, which is preceded by pulling out the fly swatter.

      If you can, try to use sticky paper catchers near your food so you don’t need to swat at all. there’s a neat fruit fly trap that looks like a small apple that you can leave on the counter.

      Or, when you’re using the fly swatter or rolled up paper, try to be positive about it — we try talking in a happy voice (usually describing how much we want to murder that damn wasp in the house and not get stung). And when we’re about to swat, we say so (here it comes, get ready, SWAT) — that seems to help a bit too. Our pup knows that happy voice is a good thing. We also try to avoid flailing about with the swatter, as it looks like we’re trying to kill invisible things in the air, and can be extremely unnerving to the pup.

      Good luck!

  18. Cristina in England*

    We are in the middle of my mum’s visit. She has just over a week left here. It has been great, but we have been pushing it a bit hard, going to Edinburgh and York this week. My 3.5yo has been pretty ragged with all this and refused to walk back to the hotel the other night so I ended up with my 20+ pound baby in the carrier and my 35 pound 3.5 year old on my shoulders for half the way back, then I tricked her into walking the rest of the way. I think we will do absolutely nothing at all if possible tomorrow, I am knackered.

    Also, I have reversed course and bought jeans again. Skinny jeans! Never thought I would see the day. I have nothing to wear with them but maybe when I have recovered from the traveling I will work on that.

    1. Mander*

      I have learned to always factor in a day to laze around the house doing nothing when my family comes to visit. Otherwise everyone is tired and cranky and they don’t enjoy everything.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I have done this, too. Forced fun is never fun. Sometimes just hanging out is the best of times.

      2. C Average*

        This!

        I think people have this idea that when one is on vacation or is hosting company, one must have only quality time, quality time that consists of doing memorable and social-media-brag-worthy stuff.

        Nooooo. When one is on vacation or is hosting company, one should do things that are enjoyable and relaxing.

        Earlier this year my sister and I went to Iceland for a week, mostly so that she could hook up with an old flame. I didn’t have any particular agenda for my trip, other than helping my sister navigate international travel, something she’s never really done before. I spent a good bit of my time going for long walks by myself and then binge-watching “Game of Thrones” in my room at the hostel. By “what did you do on your vacation?” standards, it was lame. By “did you enjoy your vacation?” standards, it was awesome.

        1. Talvi*

          Ooooh, I loved Iceland! I only had 2.5 days (it was really kind of an extended layover – I’d always wanted to visit Iceland, so I took a couple of days instead of sitting around in the airport for two hours) and I’m dying to go back!

  19. Cristina in England*

    If you could just wave a magic wand and create a successful business, what would it be?

    Mine would sell baby-wearing clothing, to wear with a baby in a carrier. Things like cardigans, jackets, hoodies, nursing clothing (some types work better than others with a carrier). Stylish and practical.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I’d love to write something as huge as Harry Potter so I would never need a stupid office job ever again! Also, it would make me feel nice to know people were enjoying it as much as I’ve enjoyed HP. :)

    2. Lily Evans*

      I’ve been obsessed with travel blogs lately, so I’d love to do that (and if the magic wand can get rid of my student loans at the same time, even better)!

      1. SophieChotek*

        Well…”successful”…so yes…travel the world while paying off student loans sounds perfectly lovely!

        1. Lily Evans*

          My favorites include: Be My Travel Muse, Alex in Wanderland, The Young Adventuress, Adventurous Kate, Jessie on a Journey, and This Battered Suitcase. They all fall under the solo female travel category, which is most pertinent to how I hope to travel.

      1. Noah*

        That’s awesome. My answer is Kevin from This Old House. I would love to work in those old houses and learn from masters like Norm Abram and Tom Silva.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Someone commented, in an earlier thread, about bricklaying requiring pattern recognition, among other skills. As an administrative assistant who is fed up with administrative minutiae, I don’t want to start a business. My fantasy is to have a job where I can learn something hands-on, the work doesn’t pile up into a tedious headache when I’m not there, and I can achieve a state of flow.

      3. TootsNYC*

        me too!
        I want to make furniture and kitchen cabinets, etc.

        Or a professional organizer, who makes people’s storage solutions.

    3. nep*

      Drum and dance center that would include a shop featuring hand-made goods, proceeds of which would go to women’s associations I’ve worked with abroad.
      That, or a gym focused on Oly lifting and ‘primal movement’.
      Nothing stopping me but me.

      1. C Average*

        I remember reading about a used bookstore/laundromat called Brainwash. I love the idea of quirky combinations.

        1. SophieChotek*

          There used to be a specialty used bookstore that only did used military history books; at one time I heard they had thousands of titles. Then they moved online. They may have since gone out of business. I’d love to do something very specialized…with an awesome cafe attached…maybe a small museum devoted to…whatever the specialty (specialities) of the bookstore was…

    4. chickabiddy*

      Clothes for larger women made out of natural fibers, without cartoon characters or bedazzling, and with necklines that don’t drape off the shoulder. I have no interest in recreating the Flashdance look (yes, I am old enough to remember when it came out).

      1. TootsNYC*

        Or yes, clothing for larger, SHORTER women.

        So, like, a size 16 doesn’t get taller; it just gets bigger around.

        If you’re my niece who is tall and a size 16 when she’s pretty trim, you can’t buy my clothes.

        Or, a business that makes custom-sized clothing.

    5. chickabiddy*

      Plus-size clothes that are made from fibers found in nature, without cartoon characters or bedazzling, and with necklines and armholes that actually fit. My chest is large; my head is not. And I do not want to recreate the Flashdance look (yes, I am old enough to remember that) when I am trying to dress business casual.

      1. periwinkle*

        If you promise to behead (or at least flog) any designer who thinks fake pockets are a good idea, I’d be your most devoted customer.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          And good underarm coverage on sleeveless shells. I hate how some brands of clothing think plus size means giant, gaping armholes.

          1. Mander*

            Argh, the arm holes! I don’t know how many otherwise nice tops I’ve rejected because they had enormous arm holes. It’s worse on tops with sleeves, IMHO, because then you can’t move your arm properly as it’s basically attached to your waist.

      2. Blurgle*

        And not a big vee-neck stretch cotton shirt with inch-thick trim around the neckhole and a tiny little gather under the point of the vee, because all plus size women have enormous breasts.

      3. Mander*

        On a similar note I want to design (affordable) proper outdoor and work gear for hard to fit sizes, both small and large. I guess nobody over a size 20 wants to go hiking, and nobody under 5′ needs safety gear. I’ve ranted about this before but I haven’t done anything about it.

    6. AliceBD*

      Owning a publishing company that produces books for people where their age and their reading level don’t match. So children who read at advanced levels, but find books about adult relationships boring because they don’t have the maturity to understand them, can read books that are about their interests but with more complex language. And children and adults with learning challenges or who are learning a new language and want to read things that interest them but their reading level isn’t high enough to read regular books written for their age.

    7. C Average*

      I want to start a company that makes apparel that matches different breeds of cats, so that when your cat gets fur all over you, you still look somewhat respectable and put together.

      All the garments would be classified by breed. So you’d order a calico dress or a tabby shirt.

        1. C Average*

          Patched tabby! I have one of those, too, all the way down to the white paws. She is the original inspiration for this idea.

      1. Talvi*

        Mine would also be a combination: cafe/booktore/fibre crafts store (yarn/knitting/crochet/quilting/spinning/weaving/etc.)

    8. YaH*

      I’d like some combination of doggie daycare and assistance dog-training. Helper dogs, therapy dogs, court advocate dogs, nursing home dogs.

    9. Mike C.*

      Penetration testing. If you aren’t familiar with the term, you’re hired by companies to try and gain access to areas that you shouldn’t be able to. Digital, physical, etc.

    10. Felix*

      Comfy undies for women. Why is the gusset always in the wrong place? Why are men’s boxers made out of delightfully soft material when women’s undies are weirdly thin and non-breathable? I’d make women’s undies in sizes that made sense i.e. A line for hips/booty, tall/lean, petite etc. There shouldn’t just be one type!

    11. Dynamic Beige*

      For some reason, I’ve developed this semi-obsession with hand made soaps. I don’t know what it is, maybe it’s my version of a new lipstick or something. If I am somewhere and there are bars of soap for sale, I will stop and smell them and read the ingredients and then I’ll do the “should I or shouldn’t I?” dance as I debate whether or not I should spend money and buy more soap. I don’t mean places like Lush (too much perfume), but gift shops, health food stores, farmer’s market. Strangely, I have no desire to learn how to make it, I just like the end product.

      Having said that, sometimes I get this idea of having a shop that sold nothing but soap. All different kinds from all over the world. Mail order, reviews. I would quickly go broke because I would be the only one who ever patronised it but it would be fun.

      1. Amadeo*

        LOL, hit me up when you get around to this. My business idea is just selling my soaps and butters. Like another commenter says above “Nothing stopping me, but me.”

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          That seems to be the way most people get started. They make a bunch, go to a farmers’ market and the demand just goes. I listened to a podcast where one woman was making gluten free soap because it turned out her children were just that allergic to it and she couldn’t find a manufactured version they could tolerate. It had gotten to the point where they were out at some market or fair every weekend selling it and had a mail order going.

          So yes, you could do it!

    12. Christopher Tracy*

      I’d either want an interior decorating business (I love making things look beautiful), a lifestyle blog like GOOP but less pretentious (mainly, I just want to get free clothes and makeup), or a PI business since I love investigations and am very nosy.

    13. LCL*

      Neighborhood tavern. Probably won’t happen, I’ve done my time in food service and don’t have the energy to start over.

  20. AvonLady Barksdale*

    My mother came to visit for a couple of days, then we traveled to see my grandparents. (We’re here with them now.) She admitted she doesn’t pay attention when I speak, and now she also can’t hear either. Great. It’s been two days of negative comments about me, my friends, my city (no restaurant could possibly be good, no event is safe from scorn)… Oh, and there’s been racism too. I have had a tension headache for two days. Remind me why I agreed to this, again?

    1. Dan*

      If the relationship doesn’t work for you, I’d have no problem ending it. “But it’s family” isn’t a compelling argument when you’re miserable.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        “Gee, mom, it sounds like you are not having a good time and it looks like there is nothing I can do to fix that for you.”

    2. DoDah*

      If you add in years of physical abuse (punching, slapping, pushing) you mother sounds like mine. I ended my relationship with her twenty years ago and never looked back. Just because someone can physically give birth doesn’t mean they deserve to be a parent.

      1. Friend of Bill's*

        Two therapists and a few twelve step programs helped me understand that my mother’s behavior wasn’t anything that I could change and as a human being, I had a right to be free of abusive behavior. Sometimes there isn’t going to be a relationship.
        We haven’t spoken for 29 years. So far, I have no regrets.

      2. Golden Lioness*

        Same here, unfortunately. I have not spoken to my DNA donor in about 25 years. Never looked back or regretted my decision. No hard feelings, either. It’s just that she is so abusive and toxic that it’s impossible to have any kind of normal relationship, so I did it for my own mental health.

        I feel sorry for people like this. They are the ones that miss out on a wonderful relationship!

    3. AnAppleADay*

      Ugh, I hear you. It’s so hard to be with someone, anyone -related or not – whose default demeanor is unhappy negative and demeaning. There is really no reason you need to force yourself to do this anymore.

      I last met with my Nmother six years ago this month. I’ve now been completely No Contact for 4.5 years. No regrets.

  21. Brooke*

    I’m moving today. At the airport now. :-)

    I was crashing with my parents for a little while. My plan was to just stay for a short while to find a new job and apartment.

    But my parents are super crazy. I knew they were when I was in high school, but I haven’t really seen them in more than a couple days at a time in like 10 years, so I kind of thought maybe they had calmed down. Umm… No. They haven’t.

    They’d do all sorts of messed up things while I was staying there. Went through all my things several times, including things that were put away and zipped up in my closet. (You know, normal things, like taking it upon themselves to store my “personal items” elsewhere.) Take the food I’d just make for myself and eat it while I went to the bathroom (say they paid for it, whether or not they did, and validated that means my food is theirs). Literally SCREAM at me. And scream at me. And scream at me (I’m a grown adult for goodness sakes) for totally unreasonable things… that I didn’t even do!!! (Like the registration stickers weren’t up to date on THEIR car — as if somehow I went through their mail and confiscated it?? I don’t even know!) Lots more screaming. A lot more. And me saying you can’t talk to me like that. My mom saying that’s just how she is so she’s going to scream at me as much as she wants. Me walking outside and going to the library, because I won’t let you talk to me like that. (And me being out of the house as much as possible… at Starbucks applying to jobs all day.) Emailing me to tell me what a horrible person I am, how much she’s failed as a mother. Promising to pay me back $600 for something, then changing their mind, because I did the dishes on Monday and Tuesday instead of Wednesday and Thursday, or WHATEVER day they decided I was supposed to… and then me not having the money for my loans in time and having to put them in forbearance because of it. Saying I could earn some of it back if I play “light, pleasant piano music for half an hour at times of their choosing.” I wish I was making this up.

    I wasn’t even there for that long! They seem like totally normal people when they’re in public… they have normal jobs, don’t stand out in society or anything. I didn’t realize how totally insane my family is! I kind of didn’t believe it at first, or I would’ve moved out sooner. Seriously like they’d do something not-cool, and then they’d act totally normal again for a couple days, and I’d kind of just brush it off like it wasn’t a big deal because they’re totally normal! Really, one minute they’re normal and the next they’re batshit. And finally I had to just see like, no, this is not ok. It was so EXTEME! I even booked a motel one night because the environment was so toxic. They never kicked me out, and honestly I don’t think they ever would’ve. I think it gave them a power boost to feel like they could push me around. I think consciously they thought “She’s our kid and we support her by letting her stay!”

    Anyway… my plan didn’t end up working out so well, and I just realized I had to get OUT. So I’m getting on a plane to go out of state where I have some connections and will try to work at a restaurant until I get a job in my actual field.

    I blocked my mom a couple weeks ago because I had just had it with harassing texts. I refused to engage or encourage their behavior, so I ended up hardly talking to them at all. Now my mom is texting my friends (the numbers she has, so like, people she met once like 10 years ago) asking them what they know about me and what I’m doing and etc etc etc. I get she’s worried, but I have to take care of myself. And texting people she met once is not a way to start building my trust. Also, she knows I’m alive, cuz my sister told her I moved out. It’s not like I just disappeared. I left, said I was moving out, but didn’t give her any more information.

    I’m glad I’m at the point where I realize their behavior isn’t acceptable though. I probably internalized a lot of it when I was a kid and didn’t see it. I used to feel bad that I wasn’t the “coolest” kid, but now I’m wondering how I managed grow up with any social skills or confidence at all in that environment.

    I just wanted to talk about it here because it helps me validate that I made the right choice for me. Some of my friends say it’s irresponsible to leave to another state and have to use a credit card for everything… and I was never ever ever that person. I’m always very responsive. Always have a plan. Always have a backup plan. Never buy anything I can’t afford. I just felt like this was my only real option.

    So anyway… waiting for my plane now. Happy to move past this and focus on building my new life. :-)

    1. Pennalynn Lott*

      I “broke up” with my mom for a little over 6 years (maybe it was a full 7?) during my 30’s. It was the best thing I have ever done for myself in my life. She, too, looked and acted totally normal to the outside world, but treated me like some subservient extension of herself when I moved back home after living out of state for a couple of years.

      Like the time she *screamed* at me, for over an hour, because she’d put a black trash bag full of wet clothes in the tub in my bathroom. I had no idea what was in the bag, so I put it on the floor behind my bathroom door in order to be able to take a shower. It stayed there for several days, and the clothes got all covered in mold. Somehow it was all my fault, because I should have. . . actually, I don’t even know what else I should have done. She forgot about her own damned clothes. She was an adult; I was an adult. Her clothes weren’t my responsibility.

      Then there was the time my best friend came to stay the weekend with me, while her son was out of town visiting his father. She drove a van. On Sunday morning, my mom asked if she could borrow the van, because she wanted to pick up some big, heavy things at Home Depot. Friend said, “Sure, but I need to pick my son up at the airport at 2:30, so just be sure to have it back by 1:00.” Well, 1:00 came and went. By 1:30 my friend is panicking, so I give her the keys to my mom’s car. My mom came home at 2:30 (!!) and absolutely flipped out. Again, non-stop *screaming* because I told my friend to take her car, not mine. I was like, “I didn’t borrow her van, you did. You broke your word to be back by 1:00, so *of course* I told her to take your car.” My mom started ranting about the dent in the side of the [very old] van, and *how dare I* let someone who drives so badly as to dent up their own vehicle drive *her* precious car! I didn’t bother to tell her that the van was all dented up when my friend bought it (single mom, couldn’t afford much). Instead, I just reiterated that the agreement was between the two of them, and the person she needed to be upset with was herself — for breaking her word and leaving my friend stranded — not me.

      Then, when I moved out a couple of months later (after yet another really whack-a-doodle rage fit of hers), she hand-wrote me a four-page letter detailing all the ways I wasn’t welcome back in her house: Could never live there again; she was changing the locks to make sure I couldn’t get in; I would be allowed to eat one holiday meal at her house per year; if I was starving and living under a bridge, she’d give me information about local shelters and food pantries; and other assorted martyred bullsh*t.

      So I went full no-contact. I called the police when she showed up outside my apartment early on a Sunday morning, kicking the door and screaming for me to open it. She backed off for a few months, then sent me some sweet, syrupy letter talking about all the fun things she was doing in her life. I threw it away and never responded. A year later she sent me some other “Friendly Update” letter, and I wrote her back and told her to never contact me again. That I was putting it in writing and mailing it registered so the police could get have a record of it in case I ever needed to file a restraining order against her.

      I guess that was the wake-up call for her, because she eventually got on psyche meds (for bipolar disorder, anxiety, and depression) and got some serious counseling. So when I reconnected 6+ years later, we had a better relationship. She still tried some of her old tricks, but I’d been going to counseling, too, (and practicing what I was learning there) so I was able to draw some very, very firm boundaries with her. She lives with me now and things are peachy, amazingly so.

      1. Pennalynn Lott*

        Oh, my. I didn’t realize that I’d typed up a lengthy article, versus a short comment. Whoops! :-)

      2. Cristina in England*

        Woah. She lives with you now and things are peachy? That was a very happy surprise I did not expect when I read to the end!

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, I agree not the ending I expected to read here. Well, all the power to you, Pennalynn.

        OP, ymmv, as you are doing, get yourself to a better place and then think about your next steps. I wish you many successes, let us know how you are doing.

        1. Pennalynn Lott*

          It wasn’t the ending I expected either. :-) But I made the most of my time apart from her, and got super freaking serious about undoing all the mental and emotional damage from my childhood. (For the first 8 years of my life, my mom was married to a man who beat the h*ll out of my mom, my brother, and me).

          I think having my mom live with me, and her trying to push my boundaries for the first year or two, was actually what allowed us to finally have a comfortable, adult-to-adult relationship. Being able to tell her, “Abide by the House Rules (which are about respect and relationships-among-equals), or find another place to live,” made her rethink a bunch of her choices in how she wanted to treat me. And I was serious about giving her the boot, and she knew it. I’d done just fine with her out of my life completely; I’d be perfectly fine with her out of my house if she couldn’t behave. Thankfully, she chose to learn how to behave. :-)

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            When the shoe is on the other foot, most people don’t find it fits as well. And when the shoe is on the foot of someone who can kick you out the door, you had better learn to behave! I wonder if your mother ever thought about how she’s in the position you used to be in, as a dependent, and reflected on how bad it must have been for you. She is, at least, an adult and could, if she wanted to, find some other way to live. When you’re 8, that’s not something you have much power over.

    2. Mander*

      Taking care of yourself by escaping this situation, by any means necessary, *is* responsible. My mouth was hanging open reading this. Good job getting out!

      1. LCL*

        What I was going to say!
        In a non abusive, normal household, starting anew with credit cards is silly. In your case, you knew you had to get out fast.
        Besides, it’s your life and you get to decide anyway, doesn’t matter what your friends or the Internet says.

    3. Jersey's Mom*

      Congratulations!!!

      You’ve gone through so much awfulness, was able to break the cycle and see the awful — and most important of all — you got the hell out! Even better, you made a plan and are being completely responsible with how you’re taking your next steps. You are a star! I am so happy for you, and sending jedi hugs your way.

      If you need scripts or help with dealing with the family after the move, I suggest reading the http://www.captainawkward.com blog. She provides excellent advice and scripts for folks dealing with terrible situations.

      You’re jetting away from the crazy and into a new life. I don’t know you, but just reading your story, I am so proud of you. Best of luck to you!!

      1. Brooke*

        Awwww! That is so sweet. Thank you. (And thanks to everyone else too, that I didn’t reply to — but I read it all.) It makes me feel really happy that there are other people out there who are, gosh, *proud* of me and have such nice things to say without even knowing me. It means a lot. :-)

    4. Me too*

      Here’s a congratulatory handshake / hug / drink / whatever to you for extracting yourself. I understand your situation all too well, as I’m in the same one. Basically packed up my life because I was guilted into coming back to help with a family health situation which – oh yeah, it turns out, didn’t require me to pack up my life at all! Could have been dealt with right here! Not that my mother thought about the impact on me at all.

      I’ve been stuck here since, and like you, I had a long journey to realizing just how toxic, dysfunctional, and fucked-up my family is. I moved continents 18 years ago, and never, never, ever wanted to return, because the dynamics just make me feel awful. I always knew my father’s behavior was messed-up (some sort of undiagnosed personality disorder). What I learned anew was that my mother’s mirrors his. In fact, her behavior had far more effect on me, because I attached to her more. It’s not just my father who’s constantly negative and critical and emotionally manipulative – oh no, it’s her, too. It took being back to see it clearly. She nags, guilts me, but also gaslights me. I wish there were another word, but there isn’t: she’s incapable of acknowledging my feelings or seeing my point of view, and not even interested in trying. If I try and express my feelings to her about something that hurts me, she has one of two retorts: 1) “Well what about me!” (which makes me want to punch things); 2) “You’re exaggerating / you just want to paint me as a terrible mother / I didn’t say that or mean it or do it.” Validation = 0.

      It’s such a mindfuck to realize that my own mother, whom I love, and whom everyone thinks is wonderful (and who does have many qualities) has never been there for me emotionally. Didn’t protect me against my father’s volatility (I wince at shouting, always feel the need to mollify upset because I was enlisted in service of appeasing my father’s irrational moods), or my brother’s meanness or her own hangups (weight, etc). On the one hand, I totally understand how I have no sense of self or confidence; none was ever fostered in me. On the other, I think I did okay, because I had to work everything out for myself, without any guidance.

      I never believed in the Freudian determinism of family relationships as a crucible for personality development; I actively resisted it. Like you, Brooke, I always internalized the dysfunctional crap: my most firm belief is that something is wrong *with me*. Being here and experiencing this toxic waste-dump again has made me both clear-eyes about what I don’t ever want, and deeply saddened about how much it’s affected me and is seeping into me again. It’s a tragic truth that the people who are meant to care about you the most are the ones who hurt you the most.

      I commend you on leaving, I really do. I should, too – should have months ago. Sometimes it’s the only way.

      Best of luck to you!

    5. Crystalline*

      Run, Brooke, run! Good for you. Sometimes you just have to jump and have the confidence in yourself to know you can land on your feet. I did that once and it was the best, most freeing feeling ever. I hope you had a great flight and are enjoying wherever you are now!

    6. Finny*

      Ten years ago this coming Christmas, I called a taxi, spent the night in my local airport, then took a flight to another country (the States to Canada, but still) to start a new life with the now-husband. I lived with my mother prior to that, save for the two months the summer before my senior year of university when I lived with a friend’s family, and the winter break that year, when I lived in a homeless shelter in a city I’d never been to before, because I was terrified that my mother would lock me away.

      I had to get away from my mother. I did not tell her what I was doing, or when, though I called her once I was in Calgary to let her know I wasn’t dead. A year after that, I cut her off entirely, as she was still making my life he’ll, even from the States. A couple years later we reconnected, and things were okay, though not fantastic. Then she died five years ago this coming January. And I still don’t really know how I feel. Sad, missing her, relieved, guilty, mixed up.

      And boy do I miss some of my favourite Stateside foods, like Better Cheddars crackers and Fruity Pebbles cereal, from the care packages she sent when we were on okay terms!

      But anyway, just like I did, you are doing the right, the best thing for you. And you will make it through, to a new, better life for yourself. I know I have.

    7. Golden Lioness*

      Just to say best of luck to you! Sometimes we have to do things that seem crazy from the outside, but we know that we have a plan and a reason for them.

  22. neverjaunty*

    Has anyone had experience with pet (veterinary bill) insurance, and if so, what would you recommend? I have not done this because I am always wary of insurance companies (look at the way they treat human patients!). We’re dealing with a very expensive pet emergency now, and as the cats age I am considering that insurance might be a good idea.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I have VPI (now Nationwide) and am very happy, but we chose it because I got a discount through work. My buddy is and has been super healthy, and insurance has covered some well visits and minor injuries. My fellow adopters lean toward Healthy Paws– they covered 90% of my friend’s hound’s cancer treatment.

    2. Book Person*

      I fortunately (touch wood) haven’t had to use it, but my cat is insured under my province’s SPCA. Same level of coverage as some insurance chains offered for half the price, and a percentage of the fee goes to support their adoption and trap-neuter-release programs.

    3. Tris Prior*

      It was a mixed bag for me. Like people insurance used to be, any preexisting condition is excluded and not covered. My cat was born with a heart murmur so the insurance said that ANYTHING related to his cardiovascular system would not be covered.

      He ended up with another chronic issue, that was mostly covered until the end of his life – when we discovered that there was not only a lifetime cap on all payouts (again, just like people insurance before Obamacare), but also an individual cap on each… bodily system, I guess? So, at the end of his life, they’d no longer pay for any more treatment relating to his GI system – which was his issue – but if he’d ended up with cancer somewhere else in his body then that would’ve been covered, I guess?

      It was good for paying for emergencies, like when we had to rush him to the ER for eating something he shouldn’t.

    4. chickabiddy*

      When I did some research about six months ago, I found that Healthy Paws was generally well-recommended and they also had the lowest prices for my two then-kittens. You can choose your level of coverage and I liked that. I can afford to pay a moderate deductible so my monthly cost reflects that: if I could pay more my premium would be even lower and if it worked better for my budget to pay a little more per month instead of having to come up with a chunk of cash I could have arranged that as well.

    5. nonprofit manager*

      I looked into when I had a sick cat and learned that most pet insurance plans contain significant exclusions for any preexisting conditions. Because of the nature of my cat’s illness, I felt it could eventually be linked to anything by an insurance company and decided to take the money I would have paid in premiums and save it instead. So consider your pet’s own health history and look closely at any fine print before signing a contract.

    6. LCL*

      I don’t have it for my dog, because of the cost given his age and the exclusion of preexisting conditions. If I was starting over with a puppy, I would get the insurance and keep it until age three or four. The really bad expensive ortho stuff has usually shown itself by then.

    7. Crystalline*

      I’ve been researching pet insurance companies for a while and for me the best fit so far looks like Embrace. I have a baby Great Dane and Embrace will cover common issues for her breed, where some other companies don’t. Definitely read some reviews and feedback though, because of course everybody is going to have a different experience…documenting everything is pretty important. Pre-existing conditions may not be covered, either. Good luck! Hope you find something that works for you. You might also ask your vet if they have any payment options, assuming you haven’t already. Some offer mini ‘insurance’ plans of their own, or packages that might help you out in the long run with costs.

  23. Nicole*

    I’m so excited to be watching the live stream of The Cure at Bestival right now on my TV in high def from the comfort of my couch. Technology has come a long way! :D

  24. Patience*

    How do you handle your partner’s hobby when it’s one you have zero interest in it?

    Mr. Patience goes a bit ga-ga when he starts a new hobby. He reads everything on the Internet about it, joins forums about it, watches documentaries about it- and worst of all, for me, wants to talk and talk and talk about it. While we do have some shared interests, his hobbies tend to be of a type I really don’t want to do myself. Like one year it was Fantasy Football, and I don’t watch *any* organized sport. I was 100% fine with him going to a monthly local Fantasy Football bar outing (and encouraged him to find similar, other opportunities) and I’m pretty self-entertaining, so it’s not like I ask him not to go do his hobby. And yet he wants to tell me every.detail. of the draft, and then tell me the play-by-play of every player in games and how his team is doing in every criteria and ohmygodIdon’tcare. He doesn’t really want a conversation, he just wants to gush to me for like an hour. Then he gets upset because I’m not showing interest. Here’s what I’ve tried:

    1. Listening and trying to understand. Problem: This leads to me asking questions and then he talks MORE about the hobby.
    2. Trying to find something in it I could be interested in. Problem: It’s futile. His hobbies are so far outside my own.
    3. Going to one event with him just as a sign of support. Problem: He’s sure that this attendance is a sign that I’ve changed my mind and I’m now into his hobby and don’t I want to go to more? Why not???
    4. Explaining to him that I love him, I’m fine with him doing his hobby, but leave me out of it. Problem: He thinks I’m not trying hard enough.
    5. Pointing out that I don’t inflict my hobbies on him, so why is he doing this to me? Problem: He is offended that I see his hobbies as a form of torture for me.

    Oh, and did I mention that he telecommutes, so he doesn’t have co-workers, and he’s never made local friends? Even his FF league was with friends with college, all of whom live 1,000 miles away. Sigh.

    1. Patience*

      Oh, forgot to mention that his hobbies last 1-2 years, max, and then he falls in love with some other one. But while the hobbies change, my lack of interest and his wanting me to be involved are constants.

    2. Red Reader*

      No advice, just commiseration. My fiance finds a new (show, book series, podcast, whatever) and will not talk about anything else for weeks at a time. I’ve finally gotten him to recognize that either I’m not interested, or I would like to be interested as soon as I have time to partake of (whatever) myself so I really need him not to burn me out on it before then, mostly by repeating those exact phrases over and over again, but ye gods it took forever. (For example: I had to tell him that he isn’t allowed to blare the Hamilton soundtrack on repeat in the house because I haven’t got the time to give it a solid listen, and I don’t want to be tired of hearing it by the time we go in October. That took about four months to get through his head.)

    3. Anne*

      When my husband rambles about his hobbies I basically pretend to listen. May not be the best solution but we’ve discussed it and I’ve told him I just have zero interest in cars, racing, engines, etc. Works for us.

    4. Bad Candidate*

      OMG yes. Mine does this too. His hobbies last longer though. If I have to hear an overview of the Marvel Civil War one more time in my life I think my head is going to explode. EXPLODE. I seriously thought I’d go crazy in the spring when Captain America came out. I enjoy super hero movies, I don’t need to know the minutia of the backstory. I mean did I tell him in extreme detail everything that got wrong about the Hunger Games? Or Game of Thrones? No. Sometimes he asks and I’ll tell him, but I don’t go “OK well to really know what happened I have to tell you about Robert’s Rebellion. Twenty years ago…”

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I think the problem is the time spent talking about the hobby. Can you tell him that you would like to talk about other things with him as well as the hobby? Maybe suggest a period of time for the subject then you both agree to change subjects.

      Or maybe ask him, if he would talk about your hobby/interest for the same amount of time he talked about his hobby/interest. If not then why not.

      I do agree, “It’s your hobby not mine, you don’t get to decide what hobbies I should have.”

    6. neverjaunty*

      The problem isn’t the hobbies, the problem is that he’s unwilling to recognize that you are a separate person who is allowed to like or not like things, and that’s not a referendum on your love for him.

    7. Grumpycat*

      I sort of have this problem for my partner’s work. He does engineering-type stuff and I’m super humanities, and the fastest way for me to fall asleep is for him to describe in great detail a project he’s working on. What we’ve sorted on is that he gets to tell me stories about the PEOPLE, not the projects. I will happily listen to epic stories of workplace drama, and he still gets to talk about his work. Could your partner talk about some aspect of his hobbies that would still be interesting to you?

      1. the gold digger*

        he gets to tell me stories about the PEOPLE

        Primo would not characterize running for office as a hobby, I say if you are not earning money doing it, it’s a hobby. It has been his Thing for the past several years and it is not my favorite. The politics in our state have been particularly contentious and I am tired of hearing about them, especially because Primo and I do not agree on how to resolve many issues.

        However – I love, love, love hearing the inside scoop – the internal party politics of his side. All the dirty infighting that would never be in the paper, all the “he said, she saids,” all the gossip. Yep. I love the gossip. Primo wants to talk about policy and issues – I don’t care. I know what he thinks. I want to hear what’s going on behind the scenes.

    8. Mallory Janis Ian*

      My husband gets really intense about his hobbies, too. I used to avoid conversations with him when he was in the throes of a new hobby, because he would find a way to turn any conversation into more talk about the hobby. Seinfeld invented the phrase “excruciating minutiae” to describe my feelings about more hobby talk. I would listen enthusiastically at first, but my interest petered out after learning the surface level, and a bit beyond, of the hobby; I didn’t share his love of the deeper details. He had some hard feelings toward me, I think because he felt my lack of interest as some sort of rejection. But, like your husband, he was just using me as a sounding board for endless hobby gushing.

      I don’t know what to tell you to do. My husband finally mellowed out with age and I guess he found the maturity to realize that, unlike the fantasy wife in his mind’s eye, my life’s dream wasn’t to hang on his every word. I think he thought someone who loved him would be endlessly interested, and then he realized that I love him, but my interest is limited.

    9. Anonacademic*

      My husband is the same way. I just tell him “I think I’m overloaded on hobby conversation now.” He knows he gets intense and needs to reign it in sometimes.

    10. Clever Name*

      It sounds like your husband needs some friends (other than you). It really isn’t fair for him to expect you to be everything for him.

    11. Sibley*

      Can you have a calm conversation with him, when he’s NOT in the middle of the current hobby talk?

      Otherwise, my standard advice for everything people related applies: read some of Captain Awkward’s blog. I think somewhere in her archives she’s got something like this.

  25. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    Photography and self-image….so I went to a high school reunion-type shindig this morning, and when the photos came out of us all sitting/standing, I took one look and thought I looked fat. Mind you, I’m 5’2″ ish/115.

    I’ve been eating healthy, fruits, veggies, no carbs, fish, no meat. Only thing is I’ve been drinking a ton of coffee, I’ve been under stress from working overtime, and I do late night snacking (of the healthy frozen raspberry/fruit sort with 1/10 cup of chopped roasted nuts).

    How do I lose more weight? I work out every day via elliptical, I run 2 miles every weekend, I do crunches on the offchance I have time. My waistline still looks the same, and I look fat in photos (or at least I think I do)…X/

    1. TL -*

      I would suggest working more on liking your body – sounds like you’re pretty healthy. If your body does everything you want it to do and you feel up to doing everything you want to, why do you need to change it?

      Also. Photos can make you look much larger or smaller than you really are, depending on angles and lenses. That’s beyond the normal bias you’ll have looking at yourself – I guarantee nobody else looked at that photo and thought you were fat.

    2. nep*

      Stress and inadequate sleep can ambush weight loss efforts (and are detrimental to health in other ways).
      As far as exercise, I’d suggest adding some weight training — building muscle will help.
      Do you add sweetener or creamer to your coffee?

    3. Um...*

      Um… I’m similar height/weight. You are most definitely not overweight and really shouldn’t lose much weight or you’ll be below the healthy range! And it sounds like you already eat healthy foods and exercise. I agree with TL – this seems like a perception problem, not a weight problem.

    4. Lady Kelvin*

      I would consider adding weights to your routine. You don’t have to use more than 5 pound weights, but toning your muscles ( in addition to the cardio) will make you look and feel smaller, but you might actually weigh more because muscle! I know I’m 5’2″ and range between 100-115 depending on if I’m in the middle of half marathon training or not, but adding weights to my workout has made a huge difference. And don’t worry about bulking up. For women especially, you only bulk up if you are trying to.

    5. nep*

      I got caught up in the weight loss question…
      The other replies (thanks) have me thinking more on this — Certainly at that height and weight you’re not overweight. Do you feel healthy and energetic?
      (I nearly always think I look big in photos — I think a lot of us do.)

      1. misspiggy*

        Yes. I generally hate photos of me immediately after an event, but a couple of years later I look at them and think I looked fine. In my case it’s probably because I put effort into looking good, am happy with my reflection in the mirror and am then disconcerted when the pics don’t look like my reflection. Which would be physically impossible!

        I’ve had to force myself to look critically at photos of other people at the event. Unless they’re unusually photogenic, most people don’t look as good in the photos as they did when I saw them. So I’ve got to assume the same is true of me.

      2. TL -*

        Absolutely! Plus the photos we see all the time are people who *know* how to pose so they look good (+ their photos get retouched). Posing properly can make all the difference – if it really bothers you, it’d be better to spend some quality time Tyra Banks-ing it in front of a mirror and camera and find your best angles so when someone points a camera at you, you’re prepared.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Coffee adds to the grazing. Lack of sleep causes grazing.

      Generally speaking, lack of sleep can cause weight gain.

      The problem here is that you are not fat and you sound like you keep a fairly healthy life style. It could be that you look at yourself with too critical an eye and that is the real problem.
      Go by clothing size, try to stay around the same size. If your clothes get too tight then it’s time to get a handle on the grazing.

    7. KR*

      You and me have the same body type. We’re not fat people. If you don’t like how you look, maybe assess your posture (which is a big thing that can make you look heavier/less fit than you are), look at how your clothes are fitting you, or work on loving your body how it is with a therapist? You sound in shape and healthy and I’m jealous of your workout routine. Good luck.

      1. Harriet*

        I second the posture suggestion – when I started going to pilates a happy side effect was being happier with photos, just because I had better posture. It makes a huge difference.

    8. Mags*

      You don’t sound at all overweight. Are you sure you weren’t just bloated? If you’re near the start of your period, low on sleep or eating salty foods lately that can make you look a bit heavier. It could also have been an unflattering outfit or lighting.

    9. Stellaaaaa*

      I lost about 10 lbs without trying when I stopped adding sugar to my coffee. Now I just add a little creamer. It makes sense; mathematically, 100 cals a day comes out to 10 lbs in year and I was probably adding more than 100 calories worth. Is that something you can do?

    10. Ellenmcfelon*

      whenever I hear a recording of my voice i always think, “do I really sound like that?” But no matter how nasal/squeaky it is, I never ask for suggestions on how to make my voice more kathleenturner-throaty. I just assume the recording has distorted my voice.

    11. Retiree57*

      If you think you look fat at the weight and height you describe, you might want to read up on eating disorders (or possibly exercise disorders?) You are not fat. The idea that you should lose weight at 115 pounds…I’m just…wow, are you trying to disappear? Working out every day, doing crunches whenever possible? From my possibly unhealthy-on-the-other-end-of-the-spectrum perspective, this all sounds rather obsessive. Unless you are a professional athlete or something along those lines?

      1. LadyKelvin*

        I wouldn’t necessarily agree. I’m 5’2″ and 115lb was the point at which I said I need to lose weight. Now I’m back down around my ideal and healthy weight at 100-105. And yes, when I’m 115 I look “fat” because it’s 10% of my body weight.

        1. Golden Lioness*

          I am 5′ 1″ and I agree, not all bodies look the same at the same weight and body ranges vary a lot more widely than BMI or old-fashioned weight tables would lead you to believe. 100-105 is not at all uncommon for people 5’+ a few inches. That is a very healthy weight for slim frames and small bone structure at that height… and I say this as a shorty that is very muscular who is the opposite and need to weight a lot more than that to be healthy. My bones are at the cut off between small and medium, too.

          The only time I weighed 116 lbs I was very sick with my gallbladder ( at 5″ 1′). At that weight people thought I was dying. I was asked if I was anorexic when I answered I wasn’t dying. All bodies are different and need a different weight and diet to be healthy. If you saw me you’d probably guess I weight about 115 lbs, and you’d be wrong.

    12. Oryx*

      Based on those numbers, you are right in the middle of the normal BMI range (and I say that as someone who actually hates using the BMI as a system for health but in this case I think it’s important). I don’t know how much you think you need to lose, but anything more than 15 pounds would put you in the underweight category.

      Honestly, just based on the information you’ve provided I think maybe you should look into both orthorexia nervosa and body dysmorphia.

    13. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      Thanks all…I like the idea re: weights and working on posture. I do tend to slump sometimes. I do yoga weekly, do weekly/daily 2 mile walks, elliptical daily. I also need to cut the midnight snacking. Might drink tea instead.

      Size-wise in clothing, I’m the same more or less, but I guess its residual from a long time ago when I was sick and lost so much weight I was 92 pounds. (Sick, as in, bad bout of stomach flu/incapacitated).

      Going for a walk this afternoon and spending time with the non-virtual friends. Thanks for giving lots of tips :)

      1. skyline*

        In case this helps – I am a caffeine addict (mostly black coffee, but sometimes I hit the Diet Coke when I’m really stressed). One of my tricks for managing this is drinking hot water. Sometimes I’m reaching for more coffee simply because I’m cold or because I want the comfort of a warm mug, and the hot water does the trick without adding to my caffeine intake.

  26. Aurora Leigh*

    Now that I don’t have to live in this apartment just because it’s cheap, I am planning my exodus back to the country. I want to buy a house with a couple acres, get a big dog, raise a garden . . . all that good stuff! I didn’t realize how much I would miss country living when I moved out of my parents house.

    My plan is to save agressively and hopefully be able to move in about a year or so.

    Based on comments here, I downloaded the Goodbudget app, and I feel very confident in my budgeting abilities. I also downloaded the Zillow app so I can see what properties I like are selling for.

    Any tips for using this pre-house time constructively?

    (For what it’s worth, I’m a single female in my mid-twenties, but I think I’m ready for home ownership!)

    Anyone else dreaming of country living?

    1. Rob Lowe can't read*

      Every time I’m stuck in Boston traffic (which is basically all the time), I fantasize about moving to the middle of nowhere, or something close to it. I grew up and attended college in the suburbs, and lived in some rural towns here and there, and then I moved to Boston and discovered that I haaaaaate living in a city. (I didn’t think I would adore it, but I did think I’d tolerate it much better than I do.) Sadly-ish, I have chosen a career path (which I love!) that means living in or near an urban area is pretty much required.

      1. Overeducated*

        Me too! I moved from one massive, expensive city to another this summer and I am just like “no, this isn’t where I want to land long term either.” (I actually like my neighborhood here more than in Boston already, but I can’t afford to live by the subway or buy a home here either, so….)

    2. Amadeo*

      I live in the boonies. 20 minutes from the nearest Voldemart, but somehow they built a Family Dollar in our podunk town to go with the locally owned grocery store. My internet access is a Verizon hotspot with a 10G data limit (my less thank 30 coworkers cannot fathom that I don’t stream, well, anything. The youngest, my manager, joked that he’d let me have a pity hour of Netflix at work), so we give up a few things to live here.

      But it soooo nice to come home and only hear the bugs, and the birds, and the leaves sighing in the wind and not more people voices. To have space for a garden to gleefully neglect when it gets too hot and the smell of fresh hay and dry corn in October. It’s fantastic and I’ll take it in spite of the lack of modern amenities like broadband cable internet. Netflix isn’t that great anyway.

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        Yes! That is how I grew up (except we had dial up internet!).

        My friends make good natured fun of me for calling this the city since the population is about 20000, but it’s too many people for me!

        I would gladly give up Netflix for a giant yard and no other people living less than five feet away from me.

        1. Amadeo*

          Heh, dial-up is what I grew up on. I’m 36 and I remember “Get off the internet, I need to make a phone call!” And it was that way for us for a long time!

          I lived in Champaign, IL for a while, and then in town when I came back to southern IL and then back into my parents’ place out of necessity (stupid economy anyhow). I’m finally making enough to be able to contemplate my own place again, and I’m eyeballing a piece of land they have around the corner and thinking double-wide or something. I’d still have to drive 28 miles to work one way, but that’s all right.

            1. Amadeo*

              Only 3 and 1/2 hours to each other, give or take. :) I didn’t mind Champaign, but I like it here in river country in the woods.

                1. Amadeo*

                  Isn’t it? I can cross from Missouri to KY where I am in an hour (or less, if I’m in the right place) but it’s a good six hour hike to the other end of the state if I’m going north!

      2. Noah*

        That’s how my parent’s house is. In the middle of nowhere on a lot of land. Their nearest neighbor is miles away. They do have fiber internet though, and get excellent cell reception because AT&T pays them to lease a spot for a cell phone tower.

        I’ve lived in the city too long or something. I walk everywhere. Postmates delivers anything in an hour. Amazon shipments show up the same day you order them. I enjoy getting away, but after a few days out there I’m ready to be in the middle of a lot of people again.

        1. Amadeo*

          Well, they ran fiber cable through town three or four years ago, but we’re a mile out of town and they haven’t bothered out here. We’re not a good business investment I guess.

    3. Jean*

      City girl here, but with a soft spot in my heart for small towns. When I lived in Champaign, IL I fell in love with the landscape. Some people complain that “there’s nothing to see here” but all that wonderful, flat, open space made me happy! Due to DH’s work and us wanting to be near a larger ethnic community we relocated to large metro areas in the mid-Atlantic (two different cities in 20+ years). I still miss open space but appreciate the urban amenities and the occasional clearing (parks, playing fields, parking lots surrounded by trees..). In recent years I’ve been able to grow flowers in a small section of a community garden. This helps.

    4. Jersey's Mom*

      Only tip I can think of is to think about what you’re willing to trade-off.

      What are the most important things for you — the acreage, a fabulous kitchen, a bathroom just so, whatever. Also, think about whether you want a move-in ready house, or are willing to do some reconstruction work to make an OK place into a perfect place? Doing reconstruction (like rebuilding a bathroom or kitchen) can be difficult for some people – especially trying to live in a house while you don’t have access to whatever you’re rebuilding.

      And of course, being sure that you have the necessary stuff to live in your future country location. Here in the middle-of-nowhere-Wisconsin, you’ve got to have good winter equipment (snow blowers, etc).

    5. Tandar*

      Pre-house tips:
      If you’ll be financing your purchase, pull your own credit reports to make sure there’s no errors that you need to have the credit agencies fix. Much easier to fix them ahead of time than to have it come up while you’re in the process of getting a mortgage.
      Take Zillow with a huge grain of salt – if you’re looking at actual listings or sale prices it’s ok but their “zestimates” can change wildly in a short period of time.
      If you work with a realtor don’t let them push you into anything that’s not what you want.

    1. Cristina in England*

      Best: My best pal met us in Edinburgh and stayed in the same hotel
      Worst: my 3.5 yo is driving me crazy with attention-seeking, general whininess and feigned helplessness. Possibly normal reactions to having a newish sibling but my patience is wearing so thin.

      1. SophieChotek*

        Fun — I would love to see Edinburgh — and same hotel hope means that you had more time together!

        1. Cristina in England*

          Yes that was the best part! We really only got to chat uninterrupted once the kids were asleep, so since we were in the same hotel that was fairly simple.

    2. Nicole*

      Best: Saw a hummingbird this morning by our house for the first time ever. Also watching my favorite band, The Cure, live.

      Worst: One of my pet rats was diagnosed with heart/lung problems and he has a huge mass in his belly. He’s too old for surgery and the medicine for his heart and breathing issues doesn’t seem to be helping. I think he won’t be around much longer. :(

      1. Ruffingit*

        BEST: The support of my best friend this week.

        WORST: My mother’s mood swings and overall bad attitude. It’s worn very thin and pushed me to the edge.

    3. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Best: Started my new job! It’s scary, but in a good way, and I think I’ll really enjoy it once I’ve learned it thoroughly and no longer feel awkward just walking into the office.

      Worst: My cousin just announced she’s pregnant while my husband and I are taking the first steps into the deep dive into the world of infertility.

      1. Jean*

        May your time in the waters of infertility be no longer than necessary and may your results make you happy. In other words, may you soon grow from a family of two to a family of three — or find equal joy as a family of two. And may your time watching other people’s pregnancies be brief and painless! Sending good vibes to you. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    4. Cruciatus*

      Best: My sister got married last Saturday at a zoo (dinner was in the “rainforest”). I feel I was sufficiently (actually) happy and exuberant (danced the night away!) though her husband will never be my favorite. Sounds lame but I feel better she’s keeping her name because she wanted to any way. I was worried she would cave in to him but didn’t and I appreciate that she’s still her. If that makes sense. Just a small thing but it made me feel better about the situation.
      Worst: I’m now getting into BEC mode with a coworker I normally like. But he’s just getting on my nerves lately. I know it’s him and me against the rest of the office and he’d hate for me to leave, but I told him about a job at our work place I’m thinking of applying for (different area) and he was just a drag about the whole thing and kept trying to make it sound awful and when I commented such he said he was “just trying to make conversation”. Um, no. He’s been quite contrarian about a lot of stuff lately. Hopefully this will pass.

    5. Thumper*

      Best: I’ve started drawing & painting again after not doing so for four years after a bit of a creative/mental burnout in college
      Worst: Based on the quality of my work back then vs. what I’m working on now, I have a looooooot of catching up to do. But I’m just glad to be in a place where I can enjoy working again

    6. Aurora Leigh*

      BEST: New job! They like me and even though there’s a loooong training period, I really think it will be good. Plus, it’s full time with benefits!!!!

      WORST: I think I just witnessed a drug deal outside my apartment. I don’t like the idea of my neighbor being a drug dealer. Further fueling my desire to get out of town mentioned above!

      1. Audiophile*

        I felt this way too. Like the week just seemed to drag on, Friday especially.

        Best: Went to the movies and saw “Hell or High Water.” Good movie and I got to use the AMC gift cards I found a few months ago.

        Worst: Nothing really.

        1. Oh HELL no*

          Oh god, can I change my worst?

          Yet another addition to the I-get-everything-Elizabeth-wants-while-she-gets-nothing Club: the most recent ex has spawned. Ugh ugh ugh ugh. *retching noises*

          Now I know for sure–God is really Q from Star Trek: The Next Generation. >:(

    7. It Could Be Me*

      Best: Having supportive professional colleagues in my area.

      Worse: Click bait headlines, people who don’t check facts, and attempts at social media shaming.

    8. C Average*

      Best: We got a dog! We are now the proud owners of Eddie, a rescue Chihuahua/Italian greyhound mix. He’s super cute, very well-behaved, friendly, and even nice to the cat. The kids are over the moon.

      Worst: I’ve got nothing. It’s been kind of a great week.

      1. Jillociraptor*

        I had to google what such a dog as Eddie might look like! What an interesting combination. I’m curious what his personality is like. I understand that chihuahuas and greyhounds have pretty dissimilar dispositions!

        1. C Average*

          He’s pretty chill. He likes to sniff things. He likes to wag his tail. He likes all the humans in the house and will fall asleep on your lap while you pet him. He likes food. He likes his crate with the bed in it. He seems to be a cheerful, good-natured little animal. He is indifferent to the cat and curious about the squirrels out on the back deck.

          And he likes wearing clothes, which thrills me because I like to sew. I plan to create a very natty little wardrobe for him.

    9. AnAppleADay*

      Worst: A friend died on Tuesday. She was a breast cancer survivor and doing quite well. Suddenly, a couple weeks ago she started going downhill. She found out cancer had spread throughout her body. She went so fast it’s kind boggling. We were supposed to to begin our third season of being in a volunteer music group where we sit next to each other. I just can’t do it now. It would feel so strange without her there.

      Also, landlord said we can’t adopt a bonded pair of cats that we really wanted to adopt. We can only adopt one cat. We haven’t been lucky with craigslist at all. No one responds. We haven’t found the right fit when visiting available cats at rescue places and events. Landlord said no to kittens as well. One cat I was petting bit me so hard it caused a lot of bleeding. It’s a jealous cat that has issues, I was told, and it’s semi bonded litter mate was adopted out.

      Best: cooler weather is here which helps a lot with sleep.

        1. AnAppleADay*

          Thank you. She was doing so well and had a wonderful year in remission so it’s shocking. There is comfort in knowing she truly had a great last year where some old relationships were repaired and celebrated. I’m truly happy that she was so happy.

    10. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Best: I was able to snag tickets for the Book of Mormon production coming to our local arts center this December. I got one of the last remaining sets off two seats together, and all the shows are now sold out. I have a voucher, from the very nice, newly-renovated hotel downtown, for a free night’s lodging, so I made my reservation for the night of the show. And I’ve already made dinner reservations at a nice, quiet Mexican restaurant right across a side street from the theater, so it will be easy to park and walk to the show from there. My husband and I are both so excited for this overnight getaway!

      Worst: Job angst. I’ve gotten disorganized and behind on everything, and my boss has noticed that some things have fallen through the cracks. I just had an annual evaluation where my rating was “4 – very good” (one grade off the highest rating of “5 – excellent”), to which my boss added the caveat that, to be rated “excellent”, I need to take more initiative to manage him and be more proactive in anticipating regular, upcoming events. I’ve been in a funk, so reactively responding to necessary duties has been a stretch for me. I feel like I’d rather start over with a fresh, new job and do better at it than feel like I need remediation in my current job. My boss was very kind and understanding when he talked to me, saying that he is my biggest advocate and to let him know if there are any tools I need to help me. I just don’t know if I’ll ever be able to perform at the expected level or if that particular set of skills I’d too much of a stretch outside my capabilities. My strengths are more along the lines of calm adaptability to change (which was more valued in my old department) than meticulous advanced planning (which is more valued here). Maybe I need back in a department with a little more “crazy” to it.

    11. Christopher Tracy*

      Best: I went “camping” this weekend up at this beautiful sprawling campsite an hour or so away from the city where I live. I put camping in quotes because my mom and I ended up staying at a lodge with cable, an indoor pool, fitness center, and restaurant. (That’s how city girls camp after all.) And I didn’t pay for it! And the weather was nice for some light hiking.

      Worst: It rained and a lot of the trails were flooded, so we couldn’t go horseback riding :( Oh, and I’m back home now where there’s no cable (double sad face).

      1. GovWorker*

        Best: Mr. Gov Worker is cooking a complete Sunday dinner, dessert too. He is a mechanical genuis, and a licensed financial analyst. Smells like heaven in here.
        Worst: Bought the wrong size garage door opener, must go back and exchange. Good that he can install it though. :)

    12. George*

      Best: an old friend I’d lost touch with has found me on Facebook.

      Worst: our dog died. Two days before her 18th birthday, so it wasn’t unexpected, but still …

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I am sorry about your dog, that’s sad no matter how old they are. I am glad your old friend jumped in to the picture, I hope that helps even if only in a small way.

  27. EA*

    So I feel slightly silly posting this, but here goes nothing.

    Do you guys think being irritable is normal? I tend to be annoyed by people. have 5 coworkers in my small department, and one really pisses me off, she is a know it all that inserts herself into conversations. I tend to talk to her less/walk away, etc. Also in my run club, out of 10 people, one guy makes horrendous/obnoxious jokes and I can’t tolerate him. My boyfriend/parents/close friends seem to think I have extreme reactions and need to change, that I shouldnt get so annoyed. I know these are not terrible traits in people, and I can tolerate them and be polite and deal with them in small amounts, but longer conversations are difficult, to the point where I walk away and make an excuse. I can get along with the vast majority of people.

    Is this normal at all?

    1. SophieChotek*

      I think some people just tend to push our buttons the wrong way; a behavior that other people can tolerate might really bother another person. But then vice versa. If you get along with the vast majority of people, I would think it is normal. Some people just rub us the wrong the way, even though logically we think “that’s not the worst trait/annoying habit they could have” it just does. If you are polite and can walk away/excuse yourself before becoming impolite (If you are afraid you are wont to do that) I think you are probably doing just fine.

      1. Myrin*

        100% agreed with this. EA, in your comment, you are talking about two people out of fifteen who really annoy you (and for good reasons, it seems); I don’t really think that’s unusual or overblown at all. Also, you seem to be handling it well and not, like, explode into their faces as soon as you see them or something. It’s normal for people to exist whom you don’t like and/or who get on your nerves.

    2. h.cowl*

      If you find the magic cure let me know because I am also like this. I’m hoping to mellow with age? I also try to actively seek out and compliment or be kind to the one or two people who really grate on me. In one case it’s helping.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Getting annoyed isn’t the problem. The problem is what you do with your annoyance. These other folks (fam, bf, other friends) cannot fix the coworker or the other runner. While you may feel that you are just venting, they feel that could have talked about something else with you and enjoyed your company. So, right, they are not enjoying your venting, especially about problems they cannot fix.

      I have a friend who is usually PO’ed about something every time I talk to him. It’s tiring. Added to that he does the same thing over and over and wonders why the results don’t change. The worst part of it is that he does not see how his anger is wearing on others. He has a right to be angry. hmmm, yeah, but don’t “put the load right on me”. “What if we all were the same level of angry and we all did as you do?” Life would be miserable because everyone would be upset over something all the time.

      So what to do, you know these other people annoy you. Build a plan so that the annoyances rolls right off your back and you just go about having a good day.

      So yes, you have the right to be annoyed over some people’s behavior. But you can’t expect bystanders to share your level of annoyance nor share your level of interest in the annoyance.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I have a co-worker now whose main topic of conversation is how such-and-such thing or person annoyed him, and the predictability of knowing that he is always going to express annoyance has gotten pretty tiresome. I think it’s normal for some people and situations to push our buttons, but it’s also normal to feel dragged down by constant expressions of annoyance.

        As for myself, I find that my annoyance doesn’t really go away by venting it; I just become more attuned to further annoyances. I’m happier when I can let little annoyances not bother me.

        1. C Average*

          I think there’s something to this. I realized not long ago that I dreaded spending time with a couple of longtime friends because they complain constantly about how annoyed they are by things that just don’t register as annoyances with me. When I spend time with them, not only do I struggle to make the right sympathetic noises when they complain, but I find myself more attuned to minor annoyances afterward. I really don’t like myself after I’ve spent time with these people, so I’ve stopped spending time with them if it can be avoided.

          I think it also helps to adopt a kind of serenity-prayer approach to the annoyances around you. A year into my marriage, after waging a daily battle against all the clutter my husband and stepkids left all over the counters, I had this moment of utter clarity when I said to myself, “I can either love these people and stop giving a shit about the counters, or I can continue keeping the counters clean and grow to loathe my housemates. I’m going to stop caring about the counters.” And I did. Completely and literally, that very moment. Since then, I’ve had many similar moments when I’ve stood back and looked at something that annoyed me and said to myself, “Nope, that is not the hill I’m going to die on. Next.”

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Great attitude! It reminds me of an article I once read, where people were asked to write in about their pet peeves.

            One responder wrote that her pet peeve was “people who keep peeves as pets”. I loved that perspective and the phrasing was pretty funny to me, so I’ve always remembered it.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            I have the serenity prayer on my kitchen wall. Sometimes I have to add to it based on my need at the moment:

            “Grant me the serenity”…. RIGHT NOW!
            or
            “…and the wisdom to know the difference” HEAVY ON THE WISDOM PART, OK?

            But I can’t always be standing in my kitchen when annoyance hits. One of my regular tools is to ask myself, “What is my goal here? Once I achieve this goal will world peace follow?”

            I probably sound unsympathetic to OP, actually I do understand. But I also know that the ability to get along with difficult people can make or break some settings. There have been too many times where I was directed to go speak to Annoying Person and resolve an issue. As luck would have it, it was not that hard and it was because of seeking paths through the annoyances. Look for paths, OP. I can tell you for a fact that I have annoyed the crap out of some people. And for whatever reason, they forgave me and we moved beyond it. We both won.

        2. the gold digger*

          This is actually pretty easy for me, because I work with fabulous people, but I have adopted a strict no-whining policy at work. If someone asks how I am doing, I say, “I am fabulous!”

          It’s not always true – we just discovered my uncle has stage 3 cancer, my husband is running for office again, we discovered the exterior window trim has dry rot, I have had a migraine for the past two weeks – but nobody at work needs to hear that.

          I also do not gossip about other people at work. (OK – except sometimes – a very few occasions – to my boss about the German engineer who is so rigid and inflexible that he gives me a headache.) But I don’t want to be that whiny, gossipy person whom nobody wants to be around. Complaining about coworkers is not good form at all. And Mallory, you are right – nobody wants to hear that.

            1. Crystalline*

              We love listening to you whine ;) Sounds totally creepy, but in reading old posts I saw your name around frequently and got excited when I read you had a blog (then less excited because you’d taken it down temporarily) then excited all over again because it was alive after all. You make me laugh–and I do hope that migraine takes a hint and buggers off!

      2. EA*

        Thanks for this. I’m going to try and stop bitching for a set amount of time and see if that makes a difference.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I think it will. A group of coworkers and I once got so sick of hearing ourselves and one another complain, that we instituted a “no complaining” policy at work. After about a week, we realized that we were all much happier. We finally broke our vows when the stress of our annual general membership meeting overcame us, but it was really nice while it lasted.

    4. HannahS*

      How annoyed are you? Is it ruin-your-day annoying? Or roll-your-eyes annoying? Because if these people are ruining your day, regardless of whether or not you’re normal (and you might just have some exceptionally bad people around you right now; it happens) learning how to cope with that is useful. It sounds like you are polite and then excuse yourself, so you don’t seem ridiculously over-reactive. But if you walk away from those interactions furiously thinking about how awful that person is and how much you dislike them for an hour, learning how to first, manage their behaviours better (“Thanks, Jane, but we’ve got this”) and second, “shake it off” (Jane is so annoying! She’s probably just insecure) will make you happier. Something else to consider: other stressors? Are you overtired? Very stressed? Because I get real grumpy and judgmental real fast when the rest of my life isn’t good.

    5. Mander*

      Constant irritability can be a sign of depression, too, but it sounds like it’s not really the case for you. Just something to keep in mind if you find yourself being cranky more often.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I do agree that on going irritability or the inability to shake off things can be a health symptom. Something might not be working up to par, or it could the lack of rest. This is important because we can challenge ourselves to have a better mindset and be totally unaware of how a slow heart rate, slow thyroid, poor bowel elimination, etc is really pulling us down. And these are things that can happen at any age, a person does not have to be old or middle-aged, young people can have these issues.

    6. Christy*

      I mean, what *is* normal, anyway? I don’t think normal is really a useful metric for anything, really, except maybe judging moles for skin cancer.

      In my opinion, it’s not a good or helpful thing for you to get so annoyed by individuals. I actually had a similar issue that I worked through in therapy. I would have very black-and-white opinions on my coworkers–Andy is awesome and perfect and the best, and Dan is awful and never does any work and sucks. She helped me recognize that Andy has flaws and Dan has value as a coworker. It has really helped my annoyance level with Dan.

      At the same time, I’ve gotten better at boundaries. Richard will talk your ear off, and I would just sit there and get annoyed at him. Now I’m much better at extricating myself quickly so that I don’t have as much opportunity to get annoyed.

      It’s made me a much happier person at work overall, so I recommend it.

      Oh, and I lived for a year with a guy who makes terrible jokes. It really helps if you make an internal (or external–worked with my friend) scorecard where you evaluate the jokes on a 1-5 scale, and you sort of think of your friend as a like, science exhibit and marvel at his focus and drive at something that so many people hate.

    7. going anon for this*

      Have you always been this irritated by certain things? If not, you might want to get checked out. Here is why I suggest this.

      For the past six months or so, I found myself becoming increasingly irritated and annoyed by certain people and things. Even though I tend to get impatient and annoyed with stupid people or people who do really stupid things, for me, this was even more so. Because I am 51, I figured it was hormonal changes.

      Meanwhile, other things have been going on and I went to the doctor. I will spare all the details, but I found out from the endocrinologist that I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, have had it for at least 10 years (when I first started having thyroid ultrasounds), and have probably had it much longer. But it is progressing. And one of the things that can happen due to the fluctuating thyroid hormones, is extreme irritability.

      So if this is somewhat new for you, you might want to get checked out to make sure nothing weird is going on inside.

    8. Vancouver Reader*

      Gawd, I hope so! Although right now, I’m in a really good place workwise, and my co-workers are all wonderful. It’s the family, especially the in-laws that are making me want to go ballistic. But I’m going to take the advice given here to see if I can calm myself down.

  28. SophieChotek*

    I am in a frenzy of packing. I did decide to take the apartment I mentioned a few weeks ago.
    I really need to live on my own and not with family.
    I am looking forward to getting all my things out of storage and paring down to the essentials.
    I’ve a tendency to hoard and buy things…and this is really opening my eyes — I am hoping I can pare down and live with less and not lose sight of that.
    I could have saved so much money these past few years not storing things that, with a few exceptions of some favorite books, stuff I haven’t missed.
    In retrospect, I should have sold the furniture when I realized no job was appearing on the horizon post-college/grad school and would have to move back in with my family; I could have purchased all newer and better things with the money I’ve spent storing. But of course, at the time I thought it would only be a few months, not years.
    In the meantime, I’ve had a lot of family members downsizing/grandmother moving into long-term care, so I ended up with a lot of her things for my ‘someday’ house; well I am finally moving on my own again, but to a super-small old apartment, not a huge house (!) — so a lot of all those things for my ‘someday house’ just won’t fit…and having seen the folly of paying money to store my own (relatively cheap) stuff…I think I can let things go…
    Went through my closets today and got rid some clothes that were out-dated or that which I have duplicates, but I know I could do more
    Stressed about the move but also looking forward to it…
    Unfortunately, I might have to take a business trip right after I move, so timing isn’t ideal…
    Thanks for listening and good vibes…

    1. Cristina in England*

      Good vibes coming right at you. I have been trying to pare down my stuff but it is hard! Good luck.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Many good vibes.
      Get things arranged as best you can and understand that sorting takes time, as we have to figure out what works and what doesn’t. In an added layer of complexity our tastes change, which means that is another factor in how we sort. What looked like a good idea last year, may not be such a great idea this year.

      Maybe it is just me but it seems like my life changes enough that I could have easily gone through every thing once every 5-7 years. Needs change. I did end up with a permanent spot for my donation pile and another permanent spot to put things I wanted to sell. Small consolation but if you think of it as a life habit, it might make it seem less of a chore.

      1. SophieChotek*

        Yes — things, books, stuff I thought was awesome 5-6 years ago are not so awesome now.
        Some things/likes have remained constant, but others have definitely changed.

        I agree, trying to think of it as a life habit might/will help…but I also want to learn to live with less and not spend money on things I’ll just want to change out 5-7 years…sigh…

    3. Yetanotherjennifer*

      It’s one of those things with the storage space; it’s tough to judge whether you’re better off selling or storing. My MIL put an apartment’s worth of furniture and supplies into rental storage when she moved in with her 80-year-old boyfriend. He’s much older than her and while she hoped things would last she was also being practical for when she needed to get her own place again. 15 years later, he’s still in great health, and she’s getting rid of most everything. Sure, she could have bought everything several times over with the money she spent on storage but once you’ve got things in storage it’s just so easy to keep them there.

      1. SophieChotek*

        Thanks — exactly it: tough to judge whether you’re better off selling or storing…
        If I knew 5-6 years ago that I’d be stuck where I am now, I definitely would do things differently…
        I am trying to move forward and not get caught in the “what if” and “if only”…I just spiral down into feeling angry at myself and all the stupid choices I’ve made (like why did I go to grad school and get useless degree and student debt)…

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Those “if only’s” will eat you up for breakfast if you let them.

          Remember there is no hand book on how to live life, no set of rules that everyone should follow. If you sit there and do nothing you will never make “mistakes”. But you will have…. nothing. It’s in the process of doing that we actually learn how things work. Mistakes are a given in life. It’s what we do with those mistakes that makes a difference. The biggest thing to look at is “how will I do things differently in the future?”

          A friend and I were commiserating about all the money we have wasted over the years. It’s important to realize that everyone does this, everyone feels they have wasted money. Just let it sharpen you, so that you think sharper and spend smarter. It all learning experiences, this stuff is not in us at birth and we do have to learn it.

          1. TootsNYC*

            It’s in the process of doing that we actually learn how things work. Mistakes are a given in life. It’s what we do with those mistakes that makes a difference. The biggest thing to look at is “how will I do things differently in the future?”
            . . .
            It all learning experiences, this stuff is not in us at birth and we do have to learn it.

            I’ve been saying to my self something similar: People are entitled to the mistakes they make. And, time is never truly wasted. We learn something from it.

        2. Pearly Girl*

          Please try not to let this eat you up. We all have financial baggage, but tell yourself “I did the best I could with the knowledge I had then” and move on.

          Honestly, even at 60, I’m teaching myself to NOT LOOK BACK. There is no point in beating yourself up over the past.

    4. Ellenmcfelon*

      It is great that you have such a clear mind for what you need now and what you want — don’t beat yourself up over past decisions – you made the best choice at the time with the informations you had! And now you know more, and sounds like you no longer need things to hold you hopes/dreams/security for the future, you are stronger !

    5. Mallows*

      Good luck! I’m beginning to ponder a cross country move myself, probably to a tiny place, and will be doing a similar purge. It’s tough when you associate objects with the people who gave them to you/owned them before you. Hope the new place is awesome!

  29. Roo*

    Hello! I’ve enjoyed reading Ask a Manager for a while, but am only just stepping foot into the comments.

    Any suggestions on good glass or plastic food storage containers and where to get them? I’m fairly young, just moved into a new place, and trying to be organized without breaking the bank. Thanks so much!

    1. Kit*

      Please enjoy my favourite website of all time, thesweethome.com. They do comprehensive reviews and recommendations of household items. Here’s their review of food storage containers: http://thesweethome.com/reviews/best-food-storage-containers/

      tl;dr: Glasslock, Snapware, or Rubbermaid TakeAlongs. I like the Glasslock for home but use (and you can get them pretty cheap on Amazon), but I use a plastic bento box to take lunch to work.

    2. Samantha*

      I love my Pyrex food storage containers. You can get them at Walmart, Target, etc and they are affordable.

      1. Random Citizen*

        Ooh, yes. Love Pyrex too! They’re great for storing leftovers since you can just throw them in the microwave, and lunch-size ones often come with plastic covers that have a vent to open for microwaving if you do that often.

      2. Nina*

        Co-sign on Pyrex. Been around for a long time, but that’s because it’s such a durable brand. Plus, there are nicer styles than there used to be.

      3. Mela*

        Same! I use the round ones with the rubber lids. The bigger sizes are perfect for as small serving dishes and leftovers, the mediums are perfect lunch portions, and the small ones are good for sauces, snack portions of things, or desserts (the kind that require you to make each serving in their own little container).

        I also have a set of the plastic stuff with the green lid from Ikea. For $3.99, you get more than a dozen containers that actually seal pretty well. I use it to store cut up fruit and veg, or other things that won’t stain or leak.

    3. Random Citizen*

      Lock-and-Lock containers or a knock-off brand work really well for me. Target has some, I think, or Walmart. Since those are made to be completely air and water-tight, even off-brands seal well compared to other random containers. Fleet Farm or the like usually has glass jars of various sizes (quarts and pints are always good, and I often use half-gallon jars for storing snack food or leftover soup) and also sells plastic, one-piece screw-on caps that are easier to deal with than the two-piece metal lids for canning.

    4. chickabiddy*

      Costco has a good set of glass storage containers. I don’t know if you have to be a member to buy them online. I’ve had my set for about 10 years now and it’s still in very good condition — one of the lids has a snappy piece missing but holds on fine with the other three, and that’s the only casualty. I’m going to reply to this comment with the link.

    5. Lady Kelvin*

      Ikea has some great glass containers of a variety of sizes. We just but knockoff Rubbermaid containers for lunches and leftovers. If you want really nice things ask for Tupperware for Christmas. I know it’s a MLM but I am using this my mom bought 20 years ago still, and when a lid breaks they replace it for free. If they no longer carry it, they replace it with something similar.

    6. Rebecca*

      I like the Rubbermaid containers with easy find lids. If you watch Amazon and sometimes Walmart, they’ll have a nice sized set for under $20. I picked up my set for $15.99 or thereabouts. For me, they’re the perfect size for work lunches.

    7. LizB*

      ShopWorldKitchen (.com) has a bunch of brand name stuff, including pyrex, at a discount and they’re constantly having sales on top of that.

    8. C Average*

      If you’re a Costco member, they sell a big, nicely designed set of glass storage containers with rubber lids. It’s pretty affordable, and a lot of the pieces nest inside each other.

      Also, strange but true, if you live near a Grocery Outlet (or GrossOut, as my sister and I call it), you can sometimes find really nice stuff in the housewares aisle for cheap. As with everything else at GrossOut, you should grab several if you see something you like, because they never seem to have the same stuff twice. Always an adventure shopping there.

    9. TL -*

      I love my Anchor products and they’re not too common, so it’s generally easy to tell they’re mine. Roomie uses Pyrex and loves hers, too.

    10. Pearly Girl*

      If they have some in your area, try shopping at estate sales! Lots of great housewares at garage-sale prices.

      estatesales.net is a great resource.

  30. Kit*

    My mom’s Celebration of Life is tomorrow. She died of cancer on the 31st. I’m making a slideshow. Anyone know how to make a slideshow with music that will play on old AV equipment? I need to use a laptop connected with a VGA cable and a 3.5mm audio jack. I’m thinkig exporting to .wmv is most foolproof but it turns out that’s a pain in the ass to do.

    1. Dynamic Beige*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. Fuck cancer.

      As for your slideshow, it depends on what you want to do.

      Is this something that is going to loop for the entire length of the event and the music behind it doesn’t matter? Or is this something that will be set to a certain piece of music? It also depends on what version of Office you have.

      In the first case, so long as you’ve set your transitions to auto advance and you’ve got your show set up to loop continuously, with an audio out and a VGA cable, that should play over and over again. Make a set list in iTunes or Windows Media Player that will also loop continuously and it will go on until the battery runs out/the event is over. You don’t need to have the music in PowerPoint if you’re going to do it this way.

      If it’s the second, where you are going to try and set it to a certain piece of music, that is much harder. You’re right, converting it to a movie would be better than as a slide show. Mainly because you can’t guarantee your computer is going to play the file the exact same way every time (believe me, I have tried this many, many times over the years and it never works) so trying to hit certain posts in the music is… difficult. I can’t remember off the top of my head right now, but I think the ability to export as a video has been around since 2010. If you don’t have that version, you could download the trial (I think it’s good for 30 days) and do it that way.

      Unfortunately, I cannot recommend a free tool or a cheap one to convert PPT to video. When I did this, I used to use Camtasia to screen grab the whole thing (Camtasia also has a 30 day trial). I quickly looked on The Google and there are zillions of returned results — I wish someone would come up with a way to refine returned results rather than software that checks if you’re looking for a new job.

      1. Kit*

        I really appreciate this reply. I ended up finding a computer with ppt2010 installed on it, but if I hadn’t been able to, that tip about the free trial would’ve been a day-saver. I’m doing two slideshows, one meticulously timed to music and one silent loop. So far so good.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          No problem! The silent loop you won’t need to convert to a movie, so you can just leave that as slides.

          As for meticulous timed to music, I hate to say it but the one time I managed to make that work, I put everything on the same slide and then used the Animation Pane to cue the animations at times I had noted down in the audio track. Like I said, it’s more difficult. It can be done, but it’s a PITA. When doing something like this, the Selection Pane is your friend, so you can rename things so that they make sense, instead of Picture 21.

          Best of luck to you!

    2. SophieChotek*

      I am sorry for you loss…

      Yes, I believe you can make a slide show via Powerpoint and add music — at least there used to be a way with iMovie (Apple) that you could then just drop the entire thing into iMovie and burn it to a DVD to play on regular old AV equipment

      Alternatively, make Powerpoint slide show; and run computer through AV equipment/project; even if there isn’t an HDMI port, there are adaptors to put your computer up on older typs of ports using the traditional 3-colored inputs

      Also perhaps could export as .mp4 and burn to DVD?

  31. Audiophile*

    My friend and I are trying to plan a short trip to Boston around Columbus Day. Any suggestions on where we should stay and what we should see/do are welcome and appreciated.

    When I took a trip with this person to DC a few years ago, we nearly came to blows over hotel accommodations. She wanted to stay in hostels and that’s just not my thing. I was eventually able to find an affordable hotel in Arlington, VA that was a block away from a metro station (don’t remember which station but we were two stops from the Pentagon and one stop from Arlington National Cemetery) and we had a very nice time.

    I’ve never been to Boston or MA for that matter, but friend went to Cape Cod for her birthday a few months back. We’d likely be looking to leave on October 7 via Amtrak and leave sometime Monday October 10, since we’d both have work Tuesday.

    1. Lily Evans*

      What activities do you like to focus on for vacations? Museums, shows, food, general city roaming, shopping? I have tons of suggestions, but unless you want a novel that’ll help narrow it down :)

      1. Audiophile*

        Lily Evans – feel free to write your novel.

        We don’t have any dietary restrictions and anywhere we went, we’ve been able to find something on the menu to eat.

        I’m open to museums and shows, I did have a hard time convincing her to go to any museums in DC, even though most were free. I think it would be fun to do a trolley tour or a waling tour

        1. Lily Evans*

          It sounds like your friend is a saver, so I’ll stick to mostly free or cheap things, and add a caveat if it’s on the expensive side.

          First off, if you’re going to be taking public transit compare the price of passes to how often you’ll be using it. A train ride one way is $2.75 but you can get an unlimited day pass for like $12 something, and a week pass for like $21 and change, so it might be cheaper to get the week pass if you’ll be on and off the trains a lot.

          If you like trolley-type tours, you might like the duck boats for something a little different (though this is pricey). If you like walking tours the freedom trail is great! You can join a group tour, or just follow the map yourself. It goes through all the major historical spots in the city and it’s one of the top touristy things to do, and if you do it yourself it’s free. And Boston’s a super walkable city, I’ve walked the city in a day with my family before and you can see a lot that way. The Freedom Trail also will take you through the North End, and I’d recommend stopping at every tourist’s favorite lunch spot, the Quincy Market, it’s literally just a hall with stalls offering any food you could imagine. As a food lover I dream of that place (alas, it’s too busy and out of my way to stop at regularly. That’s probably for the best.)

          The Boston Gardens are a great place to roam around, and if you like brownstones it’s close to Beacon Hill and the Back Bay and the houses around there are beautiful. The Copley area is also a nice place to roam. There’s lots of little historic monuments around there and tons of shops and restaurants. Plus the Boston Public Library and the reflecting pool.

          If you care about sports at all, just seeing Fenway Park is kind of cool. It’s also near the river, so you can take a walk along there, it’ll be pretty in the fall! And it’s near BU so there’s a lot of lunch places that aren’t too expensive.

          If you want to head over to Cambridge, Harvard Square is always a classic place to roam around. The campus is gorgeous and so classic New England in the fall. There’s also lots of stores and things there. The MIT campus can also be nice to roam, some of their buildings architecture is incredible and it’s close to the river, great views of the skyline! There’s also a rooftop garden in Kendall Square that’s kind of cool.

          If you want to head in the opposite direction, there are some nice walking paths near the ocean around the UMass campus and the JFK library.

          If you can convince your friend to go to a museum, the Museum of Fine Arts is great. I love their art of the ancient world collection (mummies!) and the Impressionist collection the best. I’ve also heard great things about the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, but I haven’t been yet! Neither are free, but if you like art it’s worth the money.

          As for food, most of the places I frequent are out of the way, but if you check out the Phantom Gourmet website, they have good recommendations, as well as the usual sites like Trip Advisor. There are so many options it’s almost overwhelming. Two places I would recommend (for two of my favorite foods) are Saus, if you like french fries (they also have amazing poutine), and Bagelsaurus in Porter Square, if you really like bagels. And if you want less expensive meals, stay away from the more tourist-driven areas of the city, and the obviously wealthy areas. Those areas have really good restaurants if you want to splurge on a meal, though. Davis Square is more out of the way, but has so many restaurant options and most are affordable. I get a lot of delivery from restaurants around that area. Basically any of the more out of the way squares in the Cambridge/Somerville area (Union Square, Inman Square, Teele Square) offer a lot of affordable restaurants.

          Anyway, I think that’s enough to get you started on planning! Let me know if you have more specific questions about anything!

    2. Jerry Vandesic*

      Affordable hotels are hard to come by in Boston. as the number of hotels is significantly lower than demand (at least it has been for the last few years). A quick look at Boston and Cambridge for that weekend on Trivago shows most rooms in the $300+ range, which I think is high. You might need to stay outside of town, so choose carefully if you want to use the subway or mass transit to get where you want.

      Lily Evans provides some great suggestions, and I’ll add a few more. If you like classical music, check out the schedule at the New England Conservatory. They have wonderful concerts, ranging from chamber music to jazz to symphonies, and most are FREE in the amazing Jordan Hall. If you want to try a lobster roll, go to James Hook near South Station. Definitely not fancy, but probably my favorite traditional lobster roll in town (others might disagree and say Neptune Oyster, but their best is with warm lobster in butter, but that’s non-traditional so doesn’t count). If you come into Cambridge, just be aware that Harvard Square has become mainly an open air mall for tourists full of name brand stores like Gap and Urban Outfitters. That being said, there are some nice things, including the grounds of Harvard itself. I can recommend the newly renovated Harvard Art Museum, Bartley’s Burgers, the Harvard Bookstore, and the store Black Ink (unusual household items).

      1. Audiophile*

        I’m a little concerned about hotels, since it is right around a holiday and prices usually skyrocket.

        We may do an Airbnb for sleeping accommodations, that’s what she did in Cape Cod.

        When we were in DC, I coincidentally found a hotel celebrating its 50th anniversary so all the standard rooms were about $50 p/n. I’m not expecting that this time, especially since we’re going around a holiday.

        Thanks for the recommendations, I don’t mind going to museums, I think my friend was just disinterested in it at the time, because she was set on seeing the monuments.

        1. Lily Evans*

          You could find cheaper hotels in towns like Arlington or Medford or in North Cambridge. You’d just have to compromise with either shelling out for cab fare or taking the bus.

          And I’m going to have to try James Hook, I hadn’t heard of it before but I’ve been hunting for a good lobster roll all summer (as much as I can with how much they cost). One restaurant I went to put pickled red onion on theirs, which is just sacrilegious IMO. WHO DOES THAT? To a perfectly good lobster roll? Why?

    3. Lily Evans*

      I just saw on facebook that Monday Oct 10th is a free Museum of Fine Arts admission day! So If you wanted to go and your friend doesn’t want to pay, that would be the day to do it!

    4. badger_doc*

      This might be too late, but I love Boston and have traveled there a couple times. The first time I stayed in Medford at the Hyatt Place with a friend and we split the cost of the room – about $150 per night if i remember. They had a shuttle that took you to the T station. The second time we stayed at the Embassy Suites near Airport Station. Probably about the same price but so convenient for taking the train!! I would definitely recommend that option if Air BnB doesn’t work out.

      Loved the Freedom Trail and walking all over Boston – great recommendations above. I have to champion Neptune Oyster for both oysters and the warm Lobster Roll. There is nothing like it, but be prepared for a 2 hour wait. Visit the Prudential Center for some amazing views. Also I did the Sam Adams brewery tour the first time i was there – very cool. And you gotta try the clam chowder at the Black Pearl down by the wharf.

      Have fun!

  32. Lily Evans*

    I was getting on the subway tonight and a man sat down next to me and asked if I was okay. My first instinct was wow I must look especially pale today so I was like, yeah I’m fine. And he goes, “Well you look kind of aggravated.” So I just was like, “Nope, I’m fine.” While holding back something snarky about how thrilling commuting on the train is. And then he proceeded to try to have a conversation with me, that I hope wasn’t flirting because he was like my dad’s age, that finally stopped when all I gave were monotone one word replies. Why do men do things like that? Ugh.

    1. Noah*

      FWIW, I think it is more “why do people do things like that.”

      I agree, it is annoying though. The last time I took Uber home from the airport it was late at night. The trip itself was stressful and as a nonrev I kept getting bumped off flights all day on the way home. I knew I had to be at work early the next day and was mentally planning all the stuff I still had to do when I got home.

      The driver asked me if everything was ok and I replied fine. She then tried to engage me in a conversation for the entire ride home. I finally gave up and stopped responding at all. Probably really rude, but at a certain point know your audience.

      1. HannahS*

        No. An uber/taxi driver making conversation with their client isn’t the same as what Lily Evans described. In a private car, chatting is a matter of preference, but on public transit the phenomenon of men demanding attention from women is well-recognized and definitely gendered. Like, yeah, making small talk with taxi drivers stresses me out when I’m tired, but they’re intending it as a form of customer service, and will chat as much with my dad as with me. Not so on the subway and buses.

        1. Noah*

          I’ll agree to disagree. Lots of things on this site turn unnecessarily gendered. Usually I ignore it and I’ll go back to doing that.

          1. Temperance*

            Actually, no, in this case, you should actually listen to women. Have you seen that ridic article about how to talk to women wearing headphones?

            I’m so sick of men deciding that they don’t need to consider sexism because it doesn’t impact them.

            1. Alex*

              It isn’t about listening to women. It is about listening to the perspective for one person who happens to be a woman. Women are not a monolithic hive mind with exacting symmetrical experiences. I acknowledge that her being a woman may have impacted the context of the situation. I believe that if one woman speaks for her self, then she is speaking for one woman.

              1. Lily Evans*

                But you’re not seeing the forest for the trees. If every time a woman speaks out about this you say, “Oh, well that just happened to one woman and only affects her.” then you’re really missing the bigger picture where it’s definitely a pattern and a problem. This instance was pretty tame, but all you have to do is google “street harassment” or “subway harassment” to see countless news articles (legitimate sources, I’m sure you like those) and blog posts about the crap that women deal with every day. I was lucky that the train car I was on was busy, and that the guy did back off, and that he didn’t follow me off the train.

            2. esra (also a Canadian)*

              @Alex, this is definitely women, plural. There’s an entire movement around women, specifically, getting unwanted attention while they’re just going about their business. If you’re on twitter, check out #DudesGreetingDudes.

              Hollaback!

          2. Lily Evans*

            I don’t think it was unnecessary at all. Sure the situation you described is annoying, but an uber driver is expected to be friendly to their customers, and her version of friendly was chattier than yours. No one’s version of friendly should be approaching strangers on public transit, insulting them, and then trying to force them into having a conversation. Have I had women try to chat with me on the train before? A few times, yeah. Did they ever insult my appearance to start a conversation? Nope. That’s a phenomenon that has only ever happened with men. It’s basically the same as why women get pissed off when men tell them to “smile.” Because I wasn’t standing on the train platform with a cheerful look (and seriously, who does?) he decided that he knew me, a complete stranger, and my facial expressions, which tend towards RBF, well enough to comment that I must be aggravated. And I’ve never heard of or seen a man approaching another man that way. But every woman I’ve spoken to about situations like this has her own stories to add.

            I’ve had both men and women try to make small talk on the train without being insulting, and with seemingly good intentions (usually tourists), and while it’s annoying I put up with it for a few minutes, because some people are just lonely or nervous being in a new place. But then there’s men like the one tonight, or the one a few weeks ago who was giving me wrong information about how the train worked and when I ignored him, he started yelling at me in really, really bad spanish. Because obviously I wasn’t ignoring him because he was wrong, I must have ot spoken english??? I’m still trying to wrap my head around that interaction.

            And it just frustrates me because men don’t believe that it’s gendered. And it’s usually because they are decent guys who would never behave like that, but it happens all the time and it is exhausting to try to convince them that this is a real problem that happens all the time. Tonight it just happened to be a night when I had an anonymous place to vent about it, and sometimes you just need to vent in a space where (usually) you don’t have to defend why you’re venting? But if you don’t believe me, pick any woman in your life and ask her about a time in her life when a man approached her for conversation in a public area and made her uncomfortable. Chances are, she’ll have a story to tell you.

            1. Alex*

              “And it just frustrates me because men don’t believe that it’s gendered”
              ~That’s because even though it happens; men-who aren’t a part of the problem- don’t want to be judged by solely outward characteristics as being a part of the problem. I I don’t believe that is unreasonable.

              1. Cristina in England*

                I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you have never creeped on someone on the subway. So, not engaging in sexist behaviour is like Level 1 of being a decent human. But the thing is that not dismissing, belittling, or denying women’s accounts of sexist behaviour which they experienced first hand is only Level 1.1.

                Sure, not every man engages in sexist behaviour but the ones who are quick to say “but not all men!” are very much part of the problem. We know when we are being creeped on so it does otherwise “good” guys no favours to try and minimise this experience.

                1. An Average Guy*

                  When you say men who say “but not all men” are part of the problem, I don’t understand how men who want to distance themselves from the behaviour of guys who act like assholes are part of the problem, and I don’t see it as trying to dismiss or minimise the harassment, and to me it’s objectionable to be told I’m part of the problem just because I’m a man.

                  What would be a better way for men to show support to women, distance ourselves from the assholes and not be grouped in with them?

                  I saw the same thing said in another comment thread recently too. I’m really keen to understand why saying “not all men” is problematic if you or anyone would like to help me with that.

                  **Hopefully I’ve struck the right tone with my comment, I’m genuinely interested in expanding my understanding and learning from people with a different perspective**

                2. Hana*

                  @ An Average Guy – Because your desire to not be grouped in with assholes is somewhat trivial compared to the past/ongoing harassment experienced by the women you are saying “but not all men” to.

                  Similarly, I have many LGBTQ etc. friends who have had terrible experiences with Christians. I don’t think it’s appropriate to say “not all Christians” to someone who is sharing that they’ve been disowned/physically assaulted/publicly humiliated/etc by people who share my faith. When someone does say that, I hear “oh hey, it sucks that that happened to you, but please reassure me that you know I’m one of the good ones.”

                  The “I’m one of the good ones” impulse (normal, as generally people like to think of themselves as good people) should take a backseat in these kinds of situations. The focus should be on support through actual action, not on derailments seeking reassurance.

                3. Lily Evans*

                  @An Average Guy, Saying “but not all men” sounds defensive and it’s pointless because women know it’s not all men who act that way. You don’t have to tell us that. When I say that bothering me on the train is something men do, I’d never mean that it’s something literally every man does. I mean that it’s a behavior I’ve only ever experienced coming from men. The best way to distance yourself from that and support women is to say “Wow, I’m sorry that someone treated you that way.” Literally, just a man believing these things happen disproportionately to women from men, without trying to defend himself, and acknowledging that is refreshing.

                4. Alex*

                  I am going to go out on a limb and say that most (as opposed to only some) men don’t engage in sexist behavior. I want to help end this sexist behavior and any other sexist behavior. I am not minimizing the impact that this behavior has or even the frequency. My problem is that this problem is being addressed by making broad sweeping generalizations across entire demographics. If I am going to combat sexism, the last thing I want to do is participate in those kinds of behaviors. Making generalizations about groups of people falls in to this category so I avoid it and challenge anyone who engages in this behavior.