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*


    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*


          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.


      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*


        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*


      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!
            “…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.


          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.

                5. Alex*

                  @lilly Men are not the only one’s that get defensive. Men have to contend with this preconceived notion that they are all sex driven lecherous creeps. This impacts everything from men getting jobs in the nurturing professions to their experiences in the judicial system. Any demographic with negative stigma’s attached (virtually everyone of them in one form or another) are typically going to respond this way. It is difficult to offer support while not reinforcing that stereotype when these generalizations are being comingled personal negative experiences. I want to be able to target these behaviors and be supportive without perpetuating these negative stereotypes.

                6. Lily Evans*

                  @Alex, really though, you’re arguing semantics more than sweeping generalizations. A sweeping generalization would be saying ALL men act that way. I just said men because they’re the only people I’ve experienced this type of behavior from. And, quite frankly, you are contributing to sexist behavior by defending yourself, when you were never the one being accused of anything. And then by playing the “men have it bad too” game, you’re just really doing a poor job of the being supportive thing.

                7. TL -*

                  @Alex: Yes, sexism affects men too. But it affects women way worse and a threat where a woman is talking about a man being a creep is not really the place to bring that up. And, yes, most men aren’t creeps but women tend to worry and plan for the ones that are enough that creeps take up a disproportionate amount of both our brain space and our discussion about men. If you want to change that, and thus have less talk about creepy men, it’s a problem you need to address with said creepy men, not the women who are affected by them.

                8. An Average Guy*

                  @Lily thanks for the reply. I appreciate it.

                  I’m really surprised that it even needs to be a point of conversation that street harassment happens disproportionately to women, it’s so obviously true, so that’s really useful to know.

                  On a side note, Everyday sexism is an eye opening if not depressing window on the subject. I found it shocking, but good for raising awareness.

                9. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  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.

                  Alex, most people engage in sexist behavior, even well intentioned ones, because that’s the impact of a sexist culture. The best thing to do isn’t to deny that, but to work to gain a deeper understanding of how that bias plays out; you can’t combat it otherwise.

                  I want to help end this sexist behavior and any other sexist behavior.

                  Cool. Then step one is to not make the minimizing comments you’ve made here, or to jump in with “not all men” or to say you believe an individual woman can’t talk about what women as a group experience, or to detract from that discussion by giving greater priority to your worry about how men might be perceived. That’s not cool here, and it’s not helpful if you genuinely want to help combat sexism.

                10. TootsNYC*

                  An Average Guy: this is what I always think of the guys who say, “Not all men!”

                  WE didn’t say “all men.” We said, “We hate when men do this!”

                  I’m like, “Why are you grouping yourself in with them? WE didn’t say you were an asshole. YOU are the one who is standing over there w/ the assholes, saying, ‘Hey, not all men–I don’t!’ Stop standing by the assholes (which makes us think that maybe you ARE in that group after all). Come over here by us decent people, and say, ‘Hey, you people stop being assholes.’ “

                11. Alex*

                  @ Ask a Manager
                  “Alex, most people engage in sexist behavior, even well intentioned ones, because that’s the impact of a sexist culture. The best thing to do isn’t to deny that, but to work to gain a deeper understanding of how that bias plays out; you can’t combat it otherwise”

                  I am not sure I completely follow your premise but I will take another look at the information that is out there so that way I can more finely nuance out any concerns that I may still have with this premise.

                  “or to say you believe an individual woman can’t talk about what women as a group experience”

                  How am I supposed to view one woman’s experience as representative of an entire group? I’m sure any woman on here can make a statement about an issue and I could probably find another statement made by another woman that indicates she is feeling something different. How can I best approach understanding what women experience if there are contradictory accounts from other women of what they are experiencing?

                12. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Luckily, there are reams of documentation out there — easily available through a quick search on the internet — about what large swaths of women experience. It makes sense to start there rather than picking apart women’s statements here, since the latter comes across as quite derailing and trying to make it about you rather than the experience the original poster was sharing.

                  You should also read these:



                13. Clever Name*

                  Yup. A woman on twitter responded to the Not All Men camp thusly: Sorry nice guys. The assholes have ruined it for you. Start policing your asshole friends and maybe we can talk in 5 years.

                14. Clever Name*

                  Alex, also check out Dr. Nerdlove. He’s an advice columnist who focuses on helping men date successfully, and he has some really enlightening things to say about feminism. He’s a dude, and he does a great job on explaining all this stuff.

              2. Misc*

                Men don’t believe it because they don’t want to?

                While true, and understandable, how is that in any way relevant to whether it actually happens?

              3. Yup*

                ?? Who said you were part of the problem?? This story isn’t about you, but about Lily Evans’s experience!

            2. Today's anon*

              Most men may not engage in sexist behavior consciously but in my pretty informed opinion (and I am a man for the record), all men benefit from the existing sexist structures, so calling in doubt as you are doing when a woman tells you something creepy happened is not helpful and helps perpetuate the structures that let sexist behavior flourish, even if you yourself do not engage it its more egregious forms.

        1. DragoCucina*

          But women do it to other women. I’ve had it happen all my adult life. No I don’t need to talk to someone I have a seasonal sinus headache. No, the only thing I’m worried about is forgetting something on my mental to do list. Random meddling isn’t restricted to gender.

          1. Yup*

            But are they just chatting to you or negging you and commenting on your appearance / how you should act / why you won’t talk to them? That’s not a difference that can be ignored, not one bit. Also, if a woman talks to you, are you concerned she might follow you home while jeering? Because that’s most definitely a concern I’ve had with strange men talking to me and wanting my attention.

            There’s no real equivalence here to my mind.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Come on. It’s well, well documented that women deal with random men approaching them in public all the time, demanding their attention, telling them to smile, trying to talk to them. Do some women approach some men, and do some men approach other men? Sure, but in much, much smaller numbers. This is a widely recognized, well established problem that plagues women from men in massively greater numbers than in any other combination. The fact that occasionally it happens woman to woman or man to man doesn’t change that.

            1. Mallory Janis Ian*

              Thank you! Yes, it’s a matter of the sheer volume of what women encounter from men. Sure, the other interactions happen occasionally, as well, but not with near the volume and tiresome predictability as the men-to-women interactions.

            2. Dan*

              Sure, but it’s still a generalization that we would not put up with in any other context. Starting a question with “why do gay people do…?” Or “why do black people do…?” Would be met with a lot of pushback, because of, I donno, generalizations and stereotypes.

              Why do men do X? Can’t say, because while I am a man, I don’t do X. I cannot speak for “men”. It’s not my job to police other men’s behavior.

  33. MacGirl*

    I have to find a new place to live. :(
    I moved to a new city at the beginning of the year to start a new life and explore new opportunities. The girl I moved in with is great, but we have had varying problems the last few weeks, and they finally came to a head a few days ago. I unfortunately have been so focused on finding gainful employment that I haven’t really made friends, so now I feel like I am in a mad scramble to find a place that matches my budget and someone who I can live with it.

    1. SophieChotek*

      Best of luck MacGirl.
      I admire you moving to a new city to explore new opportunities, etc. I hope things can come together for you!

      1. MacGirl*

        It is! I feel awkward about arranging times to meet/interview with people and asking what their preferences are for roommates. I know it’s weird on their end too, but it feels sort of formal. I am also used to living with other females, and I am actually considering looking for a male roommate for the first time.

        1. Golden Lioness*

          I just rented a room in my house to a male friend. It’s working very well with very small annoyances that are completely tolerable.

          The best way for this to work is someone you have no romantic interest whatsoever. This is the case with my friend and so far (2 months in) it’s been great.

    2. Trixie*

      Stay focused with your immediate goals and needs in mind now. Not much you can do about the current/almost former roommate, just didn’t work out. If you know a few folks, let them know you’re looking for a housing situation if they know of anything. Maybe local FB groups. And maybe find someone you can live with for now if you want to keep yours eyes open for other opportunities.

  34. Identity masked*

    An SO who doesn’t/can’t cook.

    We’ve been together about 20 years, married for the majority of that and I can’t think of a single scratch cooked meal SO has made. If I get told, “I have dinner covered” it’s take out, prepared food from the market that I end up heating up, or something like soup from a can. If I’m sick, see above.

    I work full time, SO is retired on disability that doesn’t affect ability to cook, and this predates the disability. I’ve tried saying I’m not making dinner, it’s up to you – see above or cold cereal. The response to bringing it up is some version of, “But you make such good food and I can’t make anything like it.”

    I don’t understand how SO lived before, we met when in our 40s.

    I am a good cook, just put a chicken pot pie in the oven, but I am by no means a chef. Mostly I make soups, casseroles, salads, simple things; so I’m not setting a high bar.


    1. Noah*

      Maybe something like Blue Apron? All of the ingredients would be there and there would be instructions to follow.

      I would bet his reluctance to jump in and start cooking is a combination of laziness and not knowing where to start or how to plan and put a meal together.

    2. Colette*

      Can you agree on criteria (e.g. the meal must have 3 or more food group and there must be enough for one meal of leftovers) and frequency (he cooks 2 times a week) and then leav him to it?

      What’s your concern about prepared meals and soup? (I mean, I know they’re less healthy and more expensive, but they’re also a gateway to cooking – and making something entirely from scratch can be intimidating).

    3. SophieChotek*

      I agree with Blue Apron or something like it.

      I could not tell if you want to cut the cost of eating out/take-out and/or are sick of take-out, or, if you really want SO to cook. Perhaps SO did just that (take-out/prepared food from market) before you met?

    4. HannahS*

      I wonder if he’s saying that primarily as an excuse, or primarily to tell you that he has no idea where to start? When my brother was learning how to cook, my mom would say things like, “Put ground beef in a pan with sauce until it’s cooked, boil pasta according to the instructions on the bag, and serve some cut up cucumbers and carrots.” And then we’d praise him a lot (which, honestly, grated* a little because I was younger and a better cook). But it’s different in a marriage than encouraging a guy in his 20s. If he doesn’t want to learn to cook, or doesn’t feel like he should, I really don’t know what to do.
      *cheese pun!

    5. Stellaaaaa*

      It could be that your SO just doesn’t care. They might be utterly happy to eat what you make but consider it no big deal to graze when left to their own devices. You could try to broach conversations about shared cooking, but it might be one of those things (like standards of cleanliness) where if you can’t get the other person to care or to even notice the differences, you’re going to be the one always doing it. It’s notoriously difficult to figure out how to cook for just one person, and your SO had 40+ years of fixing snacks at home and getting meals elsewhere. For people without the talent or genuine love for cooking, picking up inexpensive pre-made meals can end up being cheaper than making a standard portion and having it go to waste before you can finish it.

      For what it’s worth, I do think that “from scratch” cooking is a lot less common than you’d think. I’ve never cooked anything from scratch. I’m just not that invested in food.

    6. Mags*

      Can you take a cooking class together? If your SO has made it this long without learning to cook, I can imagine it might daunting to start now. Making it a fun couple’s experience might alleviate some stress.

      1. Ellenmcfelon*

        Do you have a grill? Or a cast iron pan? My non cook began to make dinner after we got a cast iron pan – hamburgers led to steaks, led to grilling split chickens.

    7. Jillociraptor*

      I apologize if this is too much speculation! I’m inferring from your comment that the issue is actually less that SO can’t/doesn’t cook, and more that they appear to be unwilling to expend energy toward food preparation, while taking for granted that if they do it, you will. You’re responsible; they just “help” sometimes. And that’s maybe complicated by you being the primary breadwinner, while also working a “second shift” on dinner duty. Does that resonate?

      If yes, there are two things I think you should consider.

      First is putting the issue in those terms. Rather than “I need you to handle dinner more often,” sitting down for a conversation about the pattern of behavior, how it makes you feel, and what you want to see change. Go into this conversation assuming that your SO is not intentionally devaluing your time, and that they might have some very real and strong feelings that make it tough for them to see your point of view. Anxiety about not being able to create a good meal, a really high value placed on being cared for by you, some gendered expectations that tie up into their identity–none of these things demand that you be the cook in your family, but they are very real and serious for those who feel them. The conversation can be about how you balance both of your needs (while of course holding firm that their anxieties or desires to be cared for does not entitle them to your time). Make some small commitments and start from there.

      Second is evaluating your own expectations. If SO is in charge of dinner, I think you need to let them be In Charge of Dinner. That means they can get take out, or make soup, or bake a Stouffer’s lasagna, with no commentary from you on the legitimacy of that dinner. (No more bringing home food for you to prepare, though! That does not count!) If you are the arbiter of what counts as a good enough meal, you are putting yourself back in the Dinner Captain’s Chair, which I think will undermine what you’re working for here.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I like this answer a lot. Lots of good stuff here, OP.

        My husband could not cook worth a darn. I could just see him pulling this stuff. What I did was use his diabetes as an inroad. I said, “Cooking has moved to the arena of First Aid in your world. You need to be able to prepare a simple meal that you will actually eat. Your health and your life depend on it.”

        To say he was overwhelmed does not describe. We cooked together a lot while he was getting used to it. Yes, he was hanging on to me, but hey, he was trying. It took a while, but he got so he could prepare a simple, eatable meal. Then an odd thing happened. He decided to back a sugar-free cake. And that is when he learned he LOVED baking. I hated baking and he liked it. who’d thunk?

        If you can get him to cook with you, so he can see how it goes maybe that will help. One of the other talking points I told my husband was, “What if I get sick and bedridden for a couple weeks? How will you manage to get meals for us?” That helped to make him think, too.

    8. Dynamic Beige*

      doesn’t affect ability to cook, and this predates the disability. I’ve tried saying I’m not making dinner, it’s up to you – see above or cold cereal. The response to bringing it up is some version of, “But you make such good food and I can’t make anything like it.”

      If he can’t make anything like it, then you’re going to have to teach him how to do it. Yes, it’s going to take time and it will be annoying to you and you’re going to have to keep your lip zipped when you want to scream and you’re going to have to lay the compliments on thick, but if he understands the problem and is willing to learn, it can be done.

      I say this as someone who never really learned how to cook. I don’t like cooking, it’s not my “thing”. Some people I’ve known get all excited about the idea of making a certain dinner when they get home or trying a new recipe or watching the Food Network, I am not one of them. When I was 14(?) I was finally old enough to stay home and watch my younger sibling, instead of going over to a babysitter after school. My mother lit on this was the answer to all her problems and said I would be allowed to be a latch key kid (essentially), if I would clean the house and make dinner when I got home from school. She then handed me a copy of the Betty Crocker cookbook for kids and that was it. I only knew how to make the things that she would make us, we literally had pork chop night, chicken night. The “new deal” lasted for about two weeks, when I came home and decided to make spaghetti for the second time that week because I loved spaghetti and wanted to eat it. What can I say? I was a kid. She sat down at the table and screwed up her face and said, like a little kid, “not spaghetti again.” I decided it wasn’t worth the effort to make dinner every night and stopped doing it.

      So, if there’s something you make that he really likes, teach him how to make it. Do it on Saturday night or Sunday. Make extra so you can freeze the leftovers. Start small, if you can, he’s not going to able to tackle a rack of lamb right off the bat. Be patient. Let him be the one who holds the pan, puts in the ingredients. When he’s had a taste of success and accomplishment, maybe he will want to do more. Maybe he won’t. For some people, food is an expression of love and maybe when you cook for him, he sees that as you love him and care for him in a more tangible way than you’re bringing home a pay cheque. Someone I know was married to a man who would cook her these meals and she, like me, was simply not a big foodie. It was only after they divorced that he clued in that she just didn’t have the same idea about food as he did.

      I don’t think you’re being unreasonable in what you want, a decent meal when you come home from work, rather than a bowl of cereal with milk in it, but I think you may have overestimated his abilities or experience. He’s had years to develop these habits and he’s not going to drop them quickly.

    9. Dan*

      So… I cook. Well. And I did so for every eat-in-the-home meal we had for my three and a half year marriage. But I’m invested in eating well, and putting in the effort is worth it to me. I know plenty of guys who aren’t and don’t by the way.

      When you have high standards for things, you have to accept that others may not match them. Yes, if you want to eat the way you want, you have to do it yourself sometimes. Me? I hate cleaning. It just doesn’t matter to me. I will never clean to the standards of a hotel maid or hospital.

      You may just have to accept that spouse is not invested in learning to cook from scratch, and TBH, that’s ok. You mention that he does handle meals –as others have mentioned, that is his contribution, and should be supported.

      I realize some things you only discover with time, but i often feel like meals are one of the more overlooked things in the “getting to know each other” stage, yet they are so important because you eat two or three of them every day.

      You asked how your spouse survived into his 40’s – you wrote the answer in your second paragraph. Your real question is how to get him to change. He won’t unless he wants to.

    10. Identity masked*

      Thanks for the discussion. One thing, I’m the male half of the couple. :-)

      Scratch cooking is generally healthier, tastier, and less expensive than equivalent purchased meals. Generally.

      I’ve scaled down my cooking quite a bit and rely more on shortcuts now. Last night’s pot pie used Pillsbury pie crust. I’m making more slow cooker meals and the wok hasn’t come out in months. I also do all the grocery shopping except for the stuff from Whole Foods-type market that she wants and is only available there.

      I think I’m just in a frustrated place right now. I used to enjoy cooking, DeadFirstWife and I cooked together regularly. And I’ve had to significantly change how I cook; CurrentWife doesn’t like spice, green things other than occasional salad, tomatoes that aren’t completely cooked down, or anything in the allium family. One early question I asked her was, “How many stars in a Thai restaurant?” I was happy when she said 2 or 3. Turns out in her area (we met online and were still LDR), it was 1-10, not 1-5.

      If I could offer one bit of advice, culinary compatibility is something to pay attention to in a new relationship.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        OK! I will revise my answer.

        I never learned how to cook. I know that as an adult and a woman this is something I should have learned to do properly, but I haven’t. Part of that is a self-esteem issue/childhood history, part of that is that I have never had anyone in my life who knew how to cook, enjoyed cooking and was willing and patient enough to teach me how.

        So similarly to what I said above, you’re going to have to teach her. And it’s going to take time. Start with something you make that she loves. Because early success is going to be key. If you start her off with a soufflé, forget about it. Just teaching her how easy a slow cooker recipe can be, it might start to remove the “I can’t do this” bricks. No one likes to feel that they are inept at something. Every time I’ve tried to teach myself how to cook, it has ended in burnt stuff, feeling like a failure and waste of money/time/effort.

        Also, she is not your First Wife, so — for now — you’re going to have to let that fantasy of the two of you cooking together go. You and your first wife had a long time to build up that routine together, and New Wife is starting out with a deficit. Perhaps she even knows that this was something you did with First Wife and it upsets her in some way. You’re going to have to have an honest talk with her about it. She may have a family history like mine where cooking was a chore and not a pleasure or her mother never cooked. Perhaps if you frame it as something you can share together, she will see the appeal of it.

      2. Bibliovore*

        all I have to say is good luck. Mr. Bibliovore does not cook and would be happy with a take out pizza or a bowl of popcorn for dinner. And yes, it is a slog to cook every meal, grocery shop , plan. He has taken cooking lessons, I have shown him step by step how to prepare foods that he enjoys. I am not going to change him. I have changed my attitude. If I am not going to cook, I make sure there are left overs that I enjoy. If there is not enough for two, he is on his own. I bring home a prepared roasted chicken about once a week, and we eat out about once a week. Pardon me, I have to go make dinner now.

      3. Stellaaaaa*

        She might enjoy the food while she’s eating it but she might genuinely not care if you stopped cooking. Food just isn’t her thing. There are a lot of ingredients integral to cooking (spice, interesting veggies) that she doesn’t like. I gotta be honest: if I didn’t like cooking and didn’t care about food, I would be even less motivated to try if my partner brought up his first wife as leverage.

    11. FTW*

      Not sure why this is a problem. I probably could, but never cook; I genuinely don’t enjoy it at all.

      I would expect my future husband would learn this about me when we’re dating and accept it.

      If you’ve known this is how he has always managed food, why is it suddenly an issue? Is it really a deal-braker / must-change?

      1. Marcela*

        Sometimes the problem is not that the other doesn’t cook. It’s that the other refuses to acknowledge the amount of work of being in charge of cooking. I do not cook at home. I do not like it, and when I am alone, I would eat frozen meals or go to a restaurant. My husband does all the cooking and most of the planning and buying of food (I am in charge of cleaning, which he detests). But sometimes he would be too tired, or with too much work, or simply he would not want to cook, for any reason, and then I will cook for us. Being in charge of dinner doesn’t mean he is condemned to make dinners until he die.

    12. Vancouver Reader*

      What about if you give her a list of things to prep so that when you come home from work, you just have to assemble dinner rather than do all the work that goes into cooking? I love cooking, and although hubby says he wants to help out in the kitchen, I’m more inclined to do everythign myself because I find it less stressful that way. My brother-in-law is an amazing cook, and my sister is the perfect sous chef and kitchen cleaner, so that works for them.

    13. C Average*

      Why do you want her to cook? I can see why you’d want to not be solely responsible for food procurement and preparation, but why is it important to you that she cook rather than, say, get takeout or make something prefab?

      Is it that the non-home-cooked food is too unhealthy or too expensive? Does it feel unfair that you take the time to cook and she doesn’t? Does it make you feel like she doesn’t care enough about you to prepare meals for you? Try to figure that out first. I think for you this might be about more than just food.

      And probably for her, it’s NOT about more than just food. As a fellow non-foodie, I can understand her position all too well. It’s just food. Who cares where it came from? In all honesty, if there were such a thing as nutritionally complete people chow, I would buy fifty-pound sacks of it and never cook. If I lived alone, I would literally never, ever cook.

      I do cook, though, because I know my family likes it when I cook for them, and it’s a way I can show I love them and want them to feel cared for and well nourished. I know they like coming home to a home-cooked meal and a house that smells good. It’s pleasing to me to know that they’re eating nutritious food that will help keep them healthy and happy. These things are important to me and so I cook for them.

      (And I don’t actually know how to cook. I just follow recipes. I have zero instinct for the art of cooking, so I never substitute or improvise or veer away from the recipe. I love to bake and bake well, but cooking will always be a by-the-numbers activity for me.)

  35. Noah*

    My Macbook finally died. It won’t charge or even start up. It is 2010 model, so I guess it is time. I’ve been looking into buying a new one for several months now anyways but haven’t been able to decide between the Air and Pro. My old trust Macbook also still worked just fine and wasn’t slow at all.

    Well, I was walking through Walmart today and they had an open box 15″ Chromebook for $99. Figured it was worth a shot and so far so good. I have a Windows laptop for work, so this is for personal use only. It starts up really fast and everything I do is in a browser anyways. The battery life says up to 10 hours.

    I always considered Chrome OS devices very limited, but I’m glad I gave it a shot. For personal use, the only local applications I had installed anyways were Microsoft Office and Evernote. Both have Chrome OS apps. If I do need to work, pretty much everything there is a web app or uses Citrix. I tried the Ctirix Receiver app and was able to get into everything I would need.

    I might stray back to Apple again eventually, but the performance of this machine is amazing for the price.

    1. MacGirl*

      I am glad you posted this! I have been very curious about Chromebooks, especially since my mac is close to yours in age. The charger died in July, and I ended up buying a replacement off of Amazon (two actually, since I had to return the first one for a defect). It was my understanding that everything on a Chromebook is web-based–do you have Microsoft Office and Evernote that you can use offline?

      1. Noah*

        Evernote works offline, but it doesn’t sync everything the way the Windows and Mac desktop applications do. You can search everything, but older notes have to be downloaded and are not stored locally. Makes sense though, I would quickly max out the Chromebook storage with all my notes and attachments.

        The Google version of office applications work offline. The Microsoft web app versions do not, at least as far I can tell. Not a big deal for me. Google Docs and Sheets does 99% of what I need anyways, especially for personal use. However, I have heard that Android apps will work on Chrome OS soon. In that case, I know the Android versions of Microsoft Office support offline use.

        1. MacGirl*

          Good to know. I have graphic design programs on my laptop, so I will have to research and see if Adobe has them available for Google’s OS. I could probably get away with doing everything else via the Drive apps, though I do like having all of the options and tools for Office 2016.

        2. The Cosmic Avenger*

          In Google Docs, one of the options for opening documents (usually Word docs) is DocHub. I had never tried it before, but I started using it recently and it’s pretty useful, and particularly for filling in forms, it’s actually easier than Acrobat Pro.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I still think the MacBook Air is the best overall laptop out there, but it is quite a bit pricier (even refurbished) than any Chromebook (apart from the Pixel, I guess). Honestly, if you can do everything in the cloud, a Chromebook is an excellent choice.

    3. AnAppleADay*

      Thanks for posting this! I’ve been very curious about the chromebooks. $99 bucks? Wow.
      It will be interesting to see how you like it over time.

    4. Myr*

      After thinking long and hard about getting another macbook (had been an Apple fangirl for ten years) I decided to buy a Chromebook in November. It is magnificent. So fast, and really everything I do is on the Internet, so. I also love its super long battery life and how light it is. I do still have the old macbook and I use it a leeeettle bit for photo-managing stuff, but that’s it. So happy with my decision. Though mine was $200 more ;)

  36. Canadian Natasha*

    Does anyone have recommendations for tours (especially without single supplements as this will be a solo trip) or must-sees in Provence & the French Riviera? I’m planning a trip to the south of France next September (2017) and am in the information-gathering stage. Thanks!

    1. Kate*

      This may be too far west for what you had in mind, but I loved both the Canal du Midi and Saint Guilhem du Desert.

      From what I remember, you can actually set yourself up to “sail” down the Canal du amid I, which would be a great way to do it, especially if you’re travelling solo. I use the term sail lightly because it’s about the width of the Rideau Canal in Ottawa.

      1. Canadian Natasha*

        Thanks, I’ll take a look at those! My plans are not that solidified yet so I’m not sure precisely where I’ll end up travelling in southern France.

    2. Essie*

      There are four sections to Provence-Alpes-Côtes d’Azur: Le Var (83 – main city Toulon), Alpes-Maritime (06 – main city Nice), Bouches-de-Rhones (13 – main city Marseille) and Vaucluse (84.. no idea, this is an area I don’t know at all, probs Avignon?), so it all depends on how much time you have because it is a pretty large area with a ton of things to see. 83 – skip Toulon, go to the beaches! St. Tropez is here (Pampelonne beach is a favorite) and one village that is amazingly beautiful and also, bonus, has the best beaches (and great vineyards) is Bormes-les-Mimosas – L’estagnol and le pellegrin beaches are AMAZING. If you’re going closer to the Italian border, Nice is a great city, and Antibes is amazing – Cannes can be skipped unless you are there during the film festival. Marseille is one of my favorite cities in the world, but there aren’t many touristy things to do besides the Vieux Port and Chateau d’If. That being said, it is surrounded by les Calanques, cove beaches that are accessible by boat or hiking that are a must-see – Cassis being the most famous and incredibly beautiful. There are a lot of well-known provençal towns nearish Marseille – les Baux de Provence is my in-laws favorite. Le Vaucluse, personally, I’ve never been and don’t think there is much to see because I’m a big-city OR chill at the beach type, but Gordes is there, which is supposedly one of the most beautiful villages in the country. You can travel by train in this region, but it is actually one of the least train-accessible places in the country because of all the hills, beaches and mountains – renting a car is much easier, but train is possible, keeping in mind that Marseille St Charles is the busiest train station in the South and can serve as main hub for the region.

      Hope this helps! Have fun on your trip – September is a great time to come to the south. It’s still hot enough to go the beach, but the tourists have left so prices are cheaper. Don’t hesitate to spend the day chilling at cafés whilst drinking the cheapest and most delicious rosé wines on the planet (ask for a pichet instead of a bottle) :)

      1. Canadian Natasha*

        Thanks for all the info! Good wine and good food are two of the top reasons I’m interested in southern France so I will definitely be chilling at cafés and restaurants for a significant proportion of my trip. :)

      2. Jen RO*

        Seconding the calanque in Marseilles – I loved the cruise! The city was my least favorite on that trip though – we stayed in a fairly sketchy area and we were glad we had only booked one day there.

        Our itinerary was (I’m listing places we slept in): Nice – Toulon – Marseilles – Aix-en-Provence – Avignon.

        From Nice we traveled to Monaco and Ventimiglia in Italy, plus Eze which is a lovely old city on a cliff very close to Nice. Nice itself was OK but not for more than 2 days (unless you want to go to beach).

        Toulon was nice, but not really worth a night of accomodation. On the way from Nice to Toulon we passed through the resorts and stopped in Antibes (pretty) and St Raphael (only for lunch and we had a crappy restaurant). Cannes looked at the same time very boring and too crowded…definitely not worth it.

        Aix was OK but we only really stopped there because of friends.

        Avignon is definitely worth a visit – the historical center is great.

        All in all, Provence exceeded my expectations. I thought people were exaggerating, but no, it really is something special!

        1. Canadian Natasha*

          Thanks! The tips are very helpful; it’s difficult to identify what’s really worth seeing and what’s hype from the tourist advertising. :)

    3. blackcat*

      Do you like to hike? Or boat tour around pretty nature?

      If so, Les Calanques of Cassis are wonderful. Cassis itself is a great small town to putter around. It can be reached via train + bus from Marseilles very easily. You can walk to a trail head in Cassis and hike along the top, or grab a boat tour in town. I think you can also rent kayaks in town.

  37. Elizabeth West*

    Anybody read the Miss Peregrine books? I just finished the last one and they are fantastic. I love the whole picture thing. I’m soooooo jealous I didn’t think of that first, especially since I collect old cabinet cards (!), but it was so great and I enjoyed reading them so much I couldn’t really hate on that, LOL.

    I can’t wait to see the film—I think they’re making a film! I hope it doesn’t suck. Please don’t let it suck.

    1. SL #2*

      The movie comes out at the end of the month! But it’s also a Tim Burton film, so you should probably go in expecting his very distinctive directorial and visual style.

    2. Mallory Janis Ian*

      So I looked up what cabinet cards are. As I understand it, the pictures are mounted onto the existing card? Do you collect the blank cards or with pictures on them?

    3. MeridaAnn*

      I love the books, and I was excited about the movie at first, but now I’m… wary. They switched around Emma, Olive, and Bronwyn’s powers / ages, and I am very wary of the differences it will cause. I just can’t think of a good reason to take the main female character who was bold and aggressive and fiery (literally) and change her to (based on how she looks in the trailer) a quiet, gentle, air manipulator who can float (literally held down via rope by the lead male character in all the promotional material) and create air pockets underwater (again based on trailers, mainly for what looks to be a romantic underwater rendezvous). It just sounds like they’re toning down all her rough edges and turning her into a generic romantic interest. Riggs has expressed that he is fine with the changes, but… Yeah, I am very skeptical regarding the chances of movie-version-Emma coming across as the strong, kick-butt character we see in the books. :/

  38. Mazzy*

    Hi, the discussion on addiction last weekend brought up a lot of memories and actually had me trying to count how much alcohol I would have drank if I was still drinking. I came up with 32 bottles of vodka. It sounds like so much but spread out over months, didn’t feel like a lot. I did actually relapse this week but the good news was, I didn’t get the high I once did, so I didn’t feel the need to do it again the next day, like I did when I relapsed the last time. I decided instead of pressuring myself to be sober for some humungous number of days or months in a row, that I would start a calendar and mark off every day I didn’t drink before going to bed, so if I did relapse, I’d still be able to track how many days I didn’t drink without feeling like a failure. This is to the person who wrote that there husband was an alcoholic. I thought years ago that I’d never stop drinking, and now I can go weeks without without effort. It can change.

    1. C Average*

      Thank you for posting this. I’m glad you’ve arrived at what sounds like a healthy relationship with alcohol. Keep up the good work.

    2. Colleen*

      Congratulations. Every day. One day at a time. My brother is 6 months sober after 30 years of drinking. He is using the anti-alcohol drug Vivitrol to help him. It has been amazing.

  39. Rent*

    I know this topic has been covered here before, but I can’t find the open thread with the discussion. What percentage of your post-tax income do you pay in rent? I live in LA and rent out here is insane. We found a place we really like, but it would be a $700 increase in rent from what we’re paying now (we’re miserable in our current apartment). Rent would take up 50% of our post-tax income. Neither of us has car payments and we rarely go out with friends (or each other–we’re both always working). I think we could make it work, but I’m just nervous about the big jump in rent.

    1. shorty*

      When I got my first “real” job I was living alone and paying 30% of my post-tax income toward rent. 6 years and a few promotions later, I’m living with someone and now pay only about 14% for rent. This is in a part of the country that’s probably average or slightly above for housing costs though– it’s nowhere near LA costs. 50% sounds like a lot to me, but I’m sure it’s very doable for some people depending on amount in savings, job stability, debt, lifestyle, etc. For the average person though I can imagine that’s a real challenge.

    2. Clever Name*

      I’ve heard that one should aim for 30% of their income goes to rent, but I honestly don’t think that’s especially realistic given high rents in many places.

    3. Awkward Interviewee*

      I’ve also heard the 30% number. But I thought that it was 30% of your pre-tax income. Which depending on your tax bracket, etc, is probably not too terribly far off from 43% of your after-tax income? (If I’m wrong, someone correct me… it’s late for math-ing.)

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      30% is ideal, but it’s not always possible. My spouse and I are paying about 40% of our post-tax income in San Francisco. 50% seems a tad much. I don’t know if I would go for that.

    5. Kerr*

      Similar area, paying more than 50% of post-tax income in rent. It’s definitely a pinch, but it depends on how far the other 50% can stretch. If it’s a much better apartment that you’ll be happy in, and you can genuinely make it work (including having an emergency savings cushion), it might be worth it for quality of life.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I do think absolute amounts and not just percentages matter in this discussion. Spouse and I are paying 40% of our post-tax income on rent now, but we still have more disposable income (since we make more money) than we did fifteen years ago, when we were paying 30% of our post-tax income on rent.

        These aren’t our amounts—just to give extremes to put it in perspective: If your post-tax income is $20,000 and you spend 30% of that on rent, that leaves you $1,167 a month for everything else (groceries, gas, car payments, student loans, electricity, Internet, savings), but if your post-tax income is $175,000 and you spend 50% of that on rent, that leaves you $7,292 a month for everything else, which is a considerable amount of money still.

    6. Christy*

      I don’t know offhand what our post-tax income is but we pay 14% of our pretax income on rent.

      Fwiw, we could definitely afford to pay $700 more each month, but I literally can’t imagine choosing to make that choice. We live just outside of DC rather than in DC and that lets us save more than the $700/month in rent. We prefer living by the park and it also gets to be cheaper.

    7. Mreasy*

      I’m at about 1/3 now, but I’ve definitely done 50%. When you’re talking about a % that high, it’s about the absolute numbers, though – what does a monthly budget look like & are your actual expenses/costs covered? If so, it should work out, particularly if you aren’t planning on this for the long term.

    8. Rob Lowe can't read*

      For the past year, our rent was about 25% of our combined take-home pay. It’ll be down a little bit from that this year because my SO just got a raise and I will be getting a raise at the end of the month (yay!), and our rent only went up $50/month. I haven’t done the math yet to figure out the exact percentage, though.

      At out old place, we paid about 40% of our take-home pay on rent and it was really tough. Part of that was because our combined income was 50% lower than it is now, so we were paying such a big chunk on rent and didn’t really have “extras” that we could cut out to ease that burden – we already drank minimally, almost never ate out, had the cheapest utilities, etc. But even now, I wouldn’t want to go back to paying that much just for the roof over our heads – personally, I can’t think of anything that would realistically make me cool with paying that much. (But I know everyone is different! For some people, it might be worth it.)

    9. Temperance*

      When I was in college, and the year right after, our rent was about 60% of our income. We didn’t really go out, FWIW, and it was pretty financially tight. Right now, our mortgage is something like … 8% of our income. I feel comfortable up to 35%.

    10. Not Karen*


      I wouldn’t focus too much on rules of thumb, because rent varies greatly depending on where you live and what your requirements for “comfortable” is; focus on what you would be comfortable with within your own budget.

    11. LawCat*

      We’re around 15% so we’re quite fortunate in that respect. However, earlier in my career when I lived in a much high cost of living area, it was over 50%. At that time, I did not eat out often (I pretty much ate the same dinner every night to help make my grocery costs predictable), and would look for free or low cost activities. It was a struggle, but doable.

  40. shorty*

    Got a new headshot recently. The photographer edited the heck out of it and made me look really fake with gobs of makeup. It pissed me off more than I expected! I’m trying not to be too dramatic about it, but it seemed to send a message of “you’re not pretty enough” or “this is how you’re supposed to look.” Being a woman can really suck sometimes.

    1. kkjayne*

      My sister got married a couple of years ago and the photographer edited out all her distinguishing features. They had a cow and demanded the unedited copies. Got them too. I didn’t think to ask if he’d done anything to her husbands image.

  41. Marcela*

    I am having serious problems with my office and car seat, and I don’t really know what to do. I am petite, 5’2, and now I realize I’ve never been able to know what “sitting comfortable” means. I am of those people always moving in chairs, crossing my legs, sitting on top of both of them, or on the side… I have footrests and they have helped somewhat, but they haven’t fixed the issue.

    And now I am driving around 2:45 every day. So I guess my office chair is prepping my back, and then my car seat is going for the kill. But I don’t know what to do! I’ve read articles online, watched videos, and then followed the recommendations without finding real relief. So now I’m wondering if there are specialists for these kinds of situations, specialists you can hire to look at your posture and then tell you what you need to do to improve it. I know companies sometimes have “ergonomic people”, but my company is too small for that (we are 13). Is there something like that?

    You know, I drive in the bay area, where traffic is bad, but I’m getting anxious not because of slowdowns, but because I can’t bear to arrive at home every day like an old lady, barely able to move. I even do pilates, and it terrifies me to think what could be of me if I didn’t exercise. Do you have any ideas? I could use anything!

    1. Awkward Interviewee*

      A physical therapist should be able to evaluate your posture and give you exercises to strengthen any muscles that need strengthening. Depending on the rules in your state, you may need a referral from your physician (to see the PT and/or get insurance to pay for it). Since it’s for back pain, I’d think health insurance should pay for it, but I’d check with your doctor to be sure.

    2. Misc*

      Yes, go to a physio! I recently found out my lifetime of back pain, chair fidgeting and carpal tunnel issues all came from my hips, and the only way I could have known is from a physio actively looking.

    3. Temperance*

      I’m your height, and can really relate to never finding a comfortable chair.

      I drive a tiny car, a VW New Beetle, and it’s the first where I fit well.

      1. Clever Name*

        This is why I only buy toyotas. Made by short people, for short people. I fit exactly into my Prius. My husband can barely drive it.

        1. Marcela*

          Mine is a Pontiac Vibe, which is a Toyota Matrix (seriously, they are 100% identical except outside). So no luck here either.

    4. Nancypie*

      I have a car that where I can adjust the height of the seat. Both myself and my tall husband can drive it comfortably.

    5. Marcela*

      Thanks for the idea. Now I have to convince my doctor to send me to a physio, which is something I’m no sure it will be easy to do. Our kaiser doctors seem to have a ‘wait’ philosophy, where they will give us painkillers for some time, hoping things will fix themselves, instead of trying to actually find the root of the problem. We’ll see…

      1. Ange*

        You could see if your employer has any employee physio that you can self refer to – if it’s a large enough company it might have something. Or check if you can self refer for physio without going through your GP. I know in the UK you can self refer to physio for at least some things.

        1. Marcela*

          In my company we are only 13 :( And I was browsing physios in my city, but all of them says I need a referral from my doctor. Double :(

    6. Belle di Vedremo*

      Some places have/hire ergonomics experts to consult. You could try that, if it’s an option. And maybe your doc would be quicker to refer for that than for PT?

    7. TootsNYC*

      And while you’re talking to the physiotherapist, talk about pedal extenders on your accelerator and brake. and maybe a “false floor” to rest your other foot on (one that won’t slide around, under the pedals.

    8. Chaordic One*

      I have the opposite problem, being 5’12”. Years ago I had an Acura Integra that I had to get rid of because the seats became painful after about sitting in them for half an hour or so. It was otherwise a great car. My shorter girlfriends all found it fine and I ended up selling it to one of them (she was 5’6″ or so) who just loved it and drove it for years. Anyway, it seems to me that the seats in Japanese cars seem more suited to smaller individuals. I would look for one that is specifically designed and built in Japan, as opposed to one with a Japanese name that was designed and built in, and specifically for, the North American market.

      Have you considered any kind of orthotic lumber support cushions that you could place behind your back in your desk chair and/or car seat? They’re fairly inexpensive and worth a shot.

      I had a former boss who bought a fancy Cadillac that had a mild vibrate feature (sort of like “magic fingers”) built into the seats of the car. It was supposed to fight driver fatigue and she just loved it.

      1. LCL*

        That’s why I hate Japanese cars. It’s not cause they are made by A Japanese company, it’s because the cars are too freaking small inside. I’m 5’10 with long legs, so it’s fords or nothing. Being able to adjust the seat tilt and steering wheel height is not optional. Though the ford cheap fleet seats in their fleet pickups don’t have a tilt adjust, a firm cushion will fix it. The steering wheel adjustment in the Prius is exceptionally hideous, and I have to open the door to release the emergency brake.

      2. Marcela*

        Well, just lumbar support sounds like my second worse nightmare. I have lordosis, i.e. an extra curved spine and most of the time I can sit touching the lower back or the upper back of chairs, not both at the same time. Right now, that’s actually one of the problems I have with most guides for properly adjusting the seat, that they will tell me that my shoulders should touch the seat, but there is no way right now that I can put my seat in such way that all of me is fully supported. The headrest is the worse, as it protudes from the line the seat defines… I can feel it pushing my head forward, so I had to recline the seat more.

    9. Clever Name*

      I’m 5’3″ and I have a short torso. I also had surgery to correct scoliosis, and my spine is fused, so if I’m in a less than ideal workspace setup, I can be in excruciating pain within an hour. The set up I have is I happened to find a chair in my office that doesn’t instantly cause me back pain. I’ve removed the arms (I had to buy a special tool to do this). I use a footstool, and my desk height is about an inch lower than standard (I have it set at 29 inches). I also primarily mouse with my left hand, and switch when my shoulder starts hurting.

      You’ll just have to find what works best for you through trial and error. My office has been pretty accommodating about me lowering my desk height (we have modular furniture).

      1. Marcela*

        Oh, I envy your desk. My company bought me a footrest and let me remove the arms to my chair. But it’s impossible to lower my desk, since it’s just a big piece of wood from wall to wall.

        However, I can’t do the trial and error any longer. It always been like this, and I’ve always coped. I was trained as a theoretical scientist, so all my time was in a desk. Then I moved to software development, so I spend between 8 and 9 hours every day in a chair. Now I drive almost 3 more hours. This time I simply can’t stand the pain, and I do not have the time to try different chairs and desks, partly because my company is tiny and there are no more chairs or desks to try. And of course, I can’t buy a new car. Even worse, how would I know my next car is right unless I drive it 3 hours daily for a week?

        I am sorry, really, that I am ranting to you. Right now I feel so lost, so alone, like the world failed me, or more correctly, it ignored me for some “average guy” who has always been comfortable in all the chairs of my life :D

    10. something*

      A key parameter is seat length — the distance between the back of the chair and the front edge of the seat. Many office chair seats are too long for shorter people. When you sit all the way back into your chair (buttocks and back fully touching the back of the chair), do your calves hit the front edge of the seat? If they do, that seat is too long for you and you’ll never feel comfortable in that chair. The only good solution is a chair with the proper seat length which allows your back (upper and lower) to be fully supported by the back of the chair. After that, it’s just a matter of adjusting the lumbar support, height and angles.

      1. Marcela*

        You know, that’s my theory now. I know my office chair is too deep, and I tried cushions to help me, but since they were just normal cushions, it was obviously a failure. I’m not sure it’s the same thing with my car, though. And that’s kind of the thing that’s driving me crazy, being unable to tell what’s better, because I’ve never felt comfortable in any chair in any place or moment I can remember. My problem is that I don’t dare to buy anything “not cheap”, because I wonder if I will ever be able to tell if it’s working or not. So I do not dare asking for a chair for petite people to my company, for example.

        1. something*

          Re. “since they were just normal cushions, it was obviously a failure”, no, inserting cushions, normal ones or otherwise, is a bad solution because while this fixes the calf-hits-seat-front problem, this solution moves your whole spine away from the back of the chair and leaves it unsupported. Now, if you lean back until your shoulders hit the back of the chair, even if you’ve managed to place cushions in just the right places to support your lower back, your upper spine will be bent abnormally backwards (relative to your lower spine). This is not good because the spine is now even further away from the ideal shape. You need to understand that there is no good post-purchase fix for a too-long seat. You have to find and get a chair with the proper seat length.
          Re. “don’t dare to buy anything “not cheap””, what is your back worth to you? I price mine at M$1. My back is irreplaceable and has to last my lifetime, preferably pain-free. I cannot imagine living in pain all my life (hello, meds and probable addiction). If you’re uncomfortable about asking your employer to buy a special chair for you, you should consider buying one yourself and taking it into work with the understanding that it goes with you should you leave employment. Yes, it’s gonna cost money but what’s a pain-free back worth to you? How many painful hours will you be spending in your office chair over your lifetime?
          Have you tried sitting in an office chair with mesh seat and back like the Herman Miller Aeron Chair (google for images)? It comes in L, M and S sizes but beware the seat length in the S size may still be a bit too long for you. The mesh conforms better than cushions IMO and may work better for your lordosis. IIRC its lumbar support is also adjustable in the vertical direction (if I’m not conflating this feature with another chair’s) so that too may work better for your lordosis. Perhaps you can call them and ask if there is a S size to try in a showroom near you? Or just try available mesh chairs in local showrooms?
          Don’t mean to rant and rave but office chairs are a pet peeve for me as I am short-ish like you. Did have one that fitted me well but the bloody bureaucrats took it away (it had 4 legs, company rules require 5) and had pain in my lower back until I got a Small Aeron. For my home office, I found a wooden chair (similar to a dining room chair) with a short seat and the right height at a flea market and bought a seat cushion for it. A bit creaky but fits me well.

      2. Marcela*

        Based in your comment, I bought a car cushion that goes in the back of the seat (most of the ones I’ve seen only increase the height, but I don’t have a problem with that since my seat is adjustable), apparently pushing the driver forward. It is the second gadget I get for this… I’m fervently hoping one of them will do the trick while I get an appointment with a physio.

        1. something*

          Does the cushion you bought fill up the whole space between your back and the back of the seat, or does it fill just the lumbar area? If the latter, see my comment above on abnormally bent upper spine.
          Have you tried sitting in a Honda Civic? Had one and the seat fitted me very well, better than the seat in my Toy Tacoma. Car seats, even among just the Japanese manufacturers, do vary some from model to model so it’s worth trying different small-car seats in showrooms.
          If physio visit does not help, here’s a crazy suggestion: buy a memory-foam mattress top (they come in various thicknesses, typically a low few inches), cut out a shape that fits the whole back of the Vibe’s car seat, temporarily hold it in place with duct tape and drive that around for a while and see if that helps. If you get 1″ thick foam, you can stack foam layers and get 2″, 3″, etc. Filling up the whole gap between your back and the seat back will shorten seat length while supporting your whole back, and your body heat will mold the memory foam to conform to the shape of your back (but unsure how well this would work in winter when you’re wearing a coat). The foam comes in various densities and I think you’d want the low density stuff for better conformability. It’s probably like a $100+labor experiment and you’re a scientist so what’s not to like? If it works, start a company to make custom foam seatbacks and give me 5% royalty, thanks in advance hahaha.

    11. SusanPNW*

      Maybe I’ve missed it in previous comments, but have you tried a standing desk? I was just at my tax accountant’s yesterday, and he had one that raised and lowered, so he could either sit or stand. It looked like an add-on to a standard desk.

  42. cs*

    Anyone have any advice on how to help my friend? He’s sinking into depression at the moment because he just started a management masters course and realised that no, he doesn’t like it and it’s not helping him to discover what he wants to do with his life (he did an arts degree and went in for masters right after). On top of that, his network of friends have all dispersed since they’ve finished university, and he isn’t really gelling with any of his new course-mates (yet?). He’s the type who really needs to be around friends to get energised again, so being alone in his flat is exacerbating his depression quite strongly.

    At this point he’s oscillating between staying there for 2 years in the management degree, switching to a shorter finance one, or just dropping out. I’ve told him to stick with it for a bit (he’s only been there for 2 weeks), and if not getting work experience is probably more practical for him to discover what he wants for his career. I’ve also suggested to maybe get involved in campus life, but he’s currently on the pre-course so campus is dead until the rest of the university starts as well. But I honestly have no idea how else to help him; also I’m not in the same country (he went overseas for university), so I can’t ‘pop by’ his place to cheer him up.

    1. Colette*

      Well, there’s nothing wrong with dropping out if he doesn’t like where this is taking him. What drew him to this program at first? (If the answer is “I didn’t know what to do so I stayed in school”, dropping out may be best.)

      All you can do is check in regularly, listen to what he wants, and encourage him to do things with/around people. (Meet up groups? Festivals? Does he hav/can he get a job?)

      1. cs*

        Alright, it sounds pretty much in line with what I’m currently doing. Thank you! I’m really worried about him but I’m not good at being the shoulder people lean on when they’re depressed. I tend to be too pragmatic, while they tend to need a sympathetic ear more than advice. I guess at this point I can only keep a close eye on the situation and help when I can.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I don’t do well with endless venting, myself. I tend to say, “what’s your action plan?”

          Is there free counseling available near him? Maybe he needs to go to a regular doc for a check up.

          I don’t see anything wrong with saying, “Friend, I tend to be the pragmatic sort and I am concerned about you, so I really feel like we should see what steps you can take to help yourself. You know, if I were there with you, I’d be over in a heartbeat. But this is the best I can do, help you figure out some helpful steps.”

          I had an aunt who lost her husband, then later her only child and SIL. It was so sad. We lived hours apart. The best I could do was say, “So what did you do today?” Sometimes just knowing someone cares what we did today can be powerful stuff on its own.

          1. Awkward Interviewee*

            Oh, good point about counseling. In the US, most universities will have easily accessible and affordable counseling at their student health centers. Not sure about the UK, but he should definitely look into that.

          2. cs*

            Thank you for the advice! I was already planning on checking in more regularly, and I’ll definitely have a chat with him about moving forward. What worries me is that I think I’m one of the few people he’s being completely open to about his situation. I asked other friends to check in on him as well, but they told me that he seems normal.

            If his depression gets worse I’m definitely going to recommend making use of campus counselling/hotlines/etc. UK universities are pretty good at providing those kinds of support systems. I’m not sure if mental health is covered under the NHS (public health service in UK), but from personal experience it would be a long, arduous, and possibly months long wait to even get an appointment.

            1. Ange*

              Mental health is covered under the NHS, and the referral process is not that bad. Or at least it wasn’t for me. You can apply online – go to NHS choices and search for “psychological therapy” – one of the choices is “find psychological therapy services”. When I did it (last year) they called me back within a couple days, I was offered group therapy within a couple weeks and individual talking therapy within six months or so. However this was non-psychiatric so if he needs/might need medication then he would probably need to go through his GP.

              1. cs*

                I didn’t mean to imply that the NHS doesn’t provide mental health services! I’m sure they do; I actually meant that I wasn’t sure if mental health is covered for international students. They cover ‘compulsory psychiatric treatment’, but I haven’t for the life of me been able to figure out what that means. But uh, I also just remembered that my friend is actually a British citizen (he has the passport, but everyone forgets since the only time he’s lived there is for university), so my point about whether he’s covered or not is actually moot.

                It good to know that the process isn’t as terrible as I remember it – I’ll pass on the information if he needs it, thank you! I don’t think his is at a level where he’ll need medical intervention I sincerely hope it doesn’t get to that level.

                1. Mander*

                  Sometimes it takes forever to get an NHS referral for mental health services, but I’ll bet the university has student support that he can access more quickly. Two weeks seems like a really short time to give up on something, so maybe a little in-person support can help him decide if it’s just new situation blues or a true sign that it’s not the right program for him.

                2. Ange*

                  I’d guess that compulsory means “sectioned” – I.e. compulsorily committed as a danger to self or others.

                3. cs*

                  @Mander: I’d probably recommend him to for the university support initially too, because I’m sure the counsellors/etc there would’ve faced many similar problems before (his lack of a network sounds like homesickness to me; and panicking about jobs is definitely a university-level norm). As it is, he’s already been to a careers counsellor but I don’t think it helped him. It’s always nice to have backup option if things get very serious though, and at least the NHS will be free for him.

                  @Ange: Oh, that makes sense! If that’s the case, I’m guessing depression won’t be covered for international students. Probably why all the universities I know have provided on-campus options.

            2. Not So NewReader*

              Cornball answer but sometimes it’s helpful: Trust that the fates have him talking to the right people. He does not need ten people giving him advice. If one or two people give him the good/helpful advice that is all he actually needs.

              Sometimes we have to believe that we are in the right place, at the right time and helping in the best way possible. We have to believe this because there are no other choices, yet. we want to keep our hopes up regarding a situation. So because there is not much else, trust that the fates have you right where you should be in order to help your friend. I find that this thought makes me look at things with fresh eyes and helps me think sharper about my concern.

    2. Awkward Interviewee*

      Two weeks isn’t very long. Is he sure he’ll hate it if he gives it another month or two? Or maybe the first semester? That said, if he still isn’t liking it after the first semester, he should stop. Getting a (usually expensive) masters degree that you hate is usually not a good idea, financially or career-wise.

      Does he want to combine arts and management? Is he in a traditional business management program? There are arts management masters programs that he might like better – both the program and his classmates. However, if he leaves his current program, I’d suggest he get a couple years of work experience before committing to another masters program.

      1. Awkward Interviewee*

        I should add: I know arts management masters exist in the US. I’m not sure about other countries. And I’m not sure what country he’s in now, or where he would want to go.

        1. cs*

          He’s in an a more traditional business masters, but one aimed at fresh grads and not an MBA (which usually requires 3-5 years work experience). It’s in a very prestigious university in London though (I’d say equivalent to Ivy League standard). He actually almost did another masters programme that his parents convinced him out of – it’s completely out-of-the-box (he said it’s a new field), and they freaked out because they were worried about his future.

          Arts management sounds interesting. What does it entail? The only things I’ve heard similar to it is the fine art/contemporary art management courses, but I’m not sure that’s what you’re referencing.

          Honestly, if he does drop out, and I’d say there’s an 80% chance of that happening, I do hope he’ll get work experience instead of going back to another masters course. I was in a similar position last year (hence why he keeps on coming to me for advice) and the work experience has really been invaluable. If he goes back to university and follows his heart he’s probably going to end up as one of those people both over-qualified and under-qualified for entry-level jobs. And if he follows his parents’ traditional route he might just end up miserable.

          Yesterday I told him to at least give it a shot for himself and to satisfy his parents, so I think his plan is stay there for another month. If he still hates it he will at least know he tried and will have concrete proof for his parents that it’s not the right call.

          1. misspiggy*

            He should really talk to the university straight away, as well. If he’s clear on why this course isn’t right for him, and what he does want, it will probably be quite easy to switch at this point. But I’m concerned that he was hoping the course would help him discover what he wants to do with his life. If he doesn’t know already what he wants to do with the next 5-10 years, no course of study will be able to help. Better perhaps to at least decide what he doesn’t want to do, and use that as a way to choose immediate next steps.

            1. cs*

              He already approached the university about switching to a shorter 10-month course, but it was actually even more alarming to me. The new field he chose is a field he’s pretty ambivalent about, AND is one of the most cutthroat in the world. I’m pretty sure the industry would chew him up and spit him out if he finished a degree and got a job there.

              I really wish I could find a way to transmit just how much I got out of getting job experience, but I have no idea how to convey it. It’s one thing to say it to a fresh grad and them understanding on an intellectual level, versus actually experiencing just how much you grow in a different environment from a class setting.

              I think I’m going to pass on the advice about deciding what NOT to do right now. I think he probably has too many possibilities scrambling around in his head, so being able to pare it down might help him to focus on what he wants out of a career. Thank you!

          2. Awkward Interviewee*

            I don’t know exactly what an arts management curriculum is like – the school where I did my public affairs masters has a good arts management program and there is some course overlap, I knew some arts management students, etc. I think it’s basically a management degree, but focused on the arts and nonprofits – I think the people I knew took courses like management, finance and budgeting, fundraising, etc. That program also had an internship requirement so students were getting some real world experience. As far as the type of careers it might further, two examples: One acquaintance had a theater degree, spent a few years acting in a traveling theater program. Then she did the arts management masters. Her first job after that was working in the front office of a local theater company. I think she did a little bit of everything – fundraising, budgeting, managing the actors, etc. Another acquaintance had a music performance degree and then went right into the arts management masters. After getting her degree, she worked in education outreach for a major city orchestra. Now she’s doing front office stuff for a different orchestra.

            1. Awkward Interviewee*

              …and forgot the add… if one of his issues is he’s just not fitting in at all with his classmates, the arts management students are definitely a different type of group from traditional business students! You could even often see a difference between the arts management and nonprofit management students in my school.

              1. cs*

                Oh tell me about it. He hasn’t actively come out and said it, but I’m pretty sure one of his biggest struggles is adjusting from having artsy peers to more business-minded peers. He’s a very intellectual guy – I used to hate how he’d always try to get me into philosophical/literature debates back in high school. It’s really easy to imagine how the different mindset of his cohort is tripping up his social interaction.

                You’re completely right about an arts management degree though. It sounds amazing (says the girl working in an arts field…) and I think he would like it better, but I’m not sure if it would suit his needs in this stage of his life. A career in an arts industry is something he’s thrown around, but he’s also thought of finance and tech. At some point he was even going on about the possibilities of marrying tech and arts on a coding level… Like I said, he’s VERY intellectual. But also has no idea what he wants to do with his life.

                1. Awkward Interviewee*

                  Yeah, sometimes I think it’s harder for intellectual people to settle on a career path because they’re capable of so many different things. So if you’re good at school, it’s actually way less scary to just keep doing school than to figure out the job world. I’m not sure if there’s really a way to learn that grad school in that situation is a bad idea except to try it?

                2. cs*

                  @Awkward Interviewee I’ve noticed the trend of people going back to school too (and in some cases, staying in academia for the rest of their life). Hopefully this situation ends up turning out to be a blessing in disguise for my friend. At the very least, it’s a wake up call that a masters isn’t the magical cure-all for an undecided career path and he can re-calibrate from there.

  43. Paige*

    I realised recently (as I was packing up my apartment for a move) that I’ve moved seven times in the last seven years (basically since I graduated university). The longest I’ve stayed at an address was 3 years, the shortest 2 months. Some of those have been within the same city, twice interstate and the latest one overseas.

    At this point I’m finding it difficult to imagine having a settled address. A place where I can buy stuff like a grand piano (something I’ve dreamed about owning since I was a child) or huge collections of books (I love the aesthetic of full walls covered with bookshelves) without worrying about how to move the stuff at a later date. At this point I hesitate to even buy stuff like a blender.

    But at the same time, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t sort of enjoy the freedoms I’ve had in being able to move around and the opportunities it’s allowed me to pursue. And a part of me is sort of scared by the prospect of not being able to do that if/when I do settle down.

    Sigh…I mean being a nomad is all very well during my 20s, but now I’ve reached my 30s I’m starting to feel that I should think about the long-term, about settling down with someone and starting a family (haven’t been in a serious relationship in those seven years). Somehow I’m both tired of the constant (usually self-inflicted) changes yet I’m unwilling to let go of the freedom.

    1. SophieChotek*

      I completely hear you. (See my above comments about moving). I too dream of a place where I could have a library full of books…and awesome art on the walls…

      But not having too much stuff to tie one down sometimes sounds free-ing also

    2. Fjell & Skog*

      I feel the same way, except add ten years…I keep moving, and every time I move, I know that this isn’t the last time, and that the new location is not going to be where I live the rest of my life, so I constantly feel unsettled. But my career is one that often comes with a lot of moving around, and I’m seeing that I’ll probably move again within the next few years because my current job has become somewhat unfulfilling and my relatively new boss is not someone I want to work for too much longer.

      So yeah, I’m starting to think about whether the next move should also include a career change, which will be tough. Although I am somewhat dissatisfied with my current job, I love my field. But I’m thinking I need to aim to stop moving around every few years. I really want to get back into pottery, which I did many moons ago, but pottery is not really a hobby that can be moved easily, and I haven’t always been able to find a studio that I can use.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      You know those scales of justice? It’s two plates hanging by a chain from a bar. One plate is on either end of the bar.

      Right now your plates are fairly balanced. On one plate you have constant self-inflicted changes and on the other plate you have loss of freedom.

      At some point something may happen that you may be willing to give up your freedom because you see that you are headed toward a greater thing than you have now. The loss of freedom will be less of an issue. You’re not there yet, it’s not time to make that decision. You’ll know when you are there because you will be thinking, “No more constant changes and now I have Greater Thing to look forward to.”

      I do think that you are closer to figuring it out because you are thinking about this stuff. But I can also see that it’s not time yet. If we are lucky in life we have time to prepare to shift gears. This could be your time to prepare OR you could figure out that you want to spend your life as you are now. No way to know for sure how it will play out for you.

      Look around you with fresh eyes and see what you see. Carry a higher awareness through your day/week and see if you notice things that used to fly right by you. Above all, trust that our lives do make sense in the long run. Nothing is wasted, ever. Everything that happens to us makes more and more sense as we go along.

  44. Mela*

    Reading Alison’s recommendations and randomly seeing a couple of movies that were originally classic books got me thinking about how we describe or summarize the classics. Does anyone think that the way classic books are described do them a disservice sometimes? I’ll have read the synopsis a dozen times and it’s just meh, but then after seeing the movie or reading some non-official synopsis, I’ll all of a sudden want to put the book on my list. Same with Alison’s recommendations–they’re short and succinct, but draw me in–even if I’m not all that interested in the topic.

  45. Aurora Leigh*

    Fitness trackers

    I’ve been contemplating getting a Fitbit knockoff (looking at the Blueweigh on Amazon) but not 100% clear on how these things actually work. Do they always have to be with a certain distance of your phone? Because I’m not always super close to my phone especially at work. Should I be weirded out by the GPS tracking thing?

    Thoughts by people that use one? Thanks!

    1. Temperance*

      I use a Fitbit, and have had the lower-end version and I have the Charge HR now. It doesn’t need to be near your phone at all times; it tracks and stores data and connects when you are nearby. There is a fob that connects the fitbit to your computer, and I use that to upload the data at the end of the day. I can see data updates on the FB screen.

    2. Rebecca*

      I have a Fitbit Zip, and it really fits my needs. I don’t sync it to my phone, but I sync it to my laptop. It came with a little gizmo that I leave plugged into an open USB slot, and every other day or so, I boot up my laptop and it syncs the data. At first, I wasn’t sure if it “remembered” the steps I took each day if I didn’t sync it each day, but I figured this out once when I went away for a few days, and when I came home, it uploaded the data from the days I was away.

      So, at least with the Zip, you don’t have to be super close to your phone, and I’d assume other trackers might work the same way – it would remember the steps and then upload the data when it could.

      Hope this helps!

    3. Mephyle*

      I don’t know how different the one you’re considering would be, but I have a Fitbit Flex, and it doesn’t have to be near my phone. I can set the Fitbit app on my phone to either sync whenever the device is within range, or to sync only when the app is open. If a day ends without syncing, it will catch up and register the total steps on my profile the following day the next time it syncs, although sometimes it takes a while (i.e., even when the current day’s steps have synced, the previous day’s total steps sometimes take longer to register). My device doesn’t GPS track me (or else I don’t have it set to do so – I don’t remember, since it’s not a feature I’m interested in).

      I really like mine, but it might be worth mentioning that I treated it as an interesting statistic for about the first year and a half, and after that, for some reason I can’t identify, it changed to being a daily goal that mattered, and I work to reach my goal every day now.

      I wear mine all the time – only take it off to bathe or swim, or when it’s recharging. I like that it’s a given – I don’t have to make a decision or remember whether to wear it or not.

  46. SophieChotek*

    Although I think most of us were, in some way affected by 9/11, I just wanted to write that for all those affected by 9/11, rather directly through the death and loss, etc. or indirectly through other ways I cannot imagine, I just wanted to let you know I’ve been thinking about you today!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Same here. There are many folks who were and still are affected in so many ways, gosh, it boggles my brain. If you are reading here please know that you are still in the hearts/minds/prayers of many people.

      1. anon for this one*

        thank you for your thoughts. I am no longer in the NYC area. it was difficult to be there on the anniversary. it is difficult not to be there.

  47. SophieChotek*

    Taxes….as I move…in your experience do you agree with the IRS about 3-7 years worth, with the attendent various caveats? Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you wish you kept yours longer?

    What about closed credit card staements or closed bank accounts? Would you think after a year they could go?

    Trying to purge before the move but don’t want to be overzealous and then find I shredded something I actually do need…

    1. Not So NewReader*

      The one time I had trouble with the IRS, I was told within weeks of filing. We had forgotten to write our IRA contribution on two lines, we only put it on one line. They let us know immediately. I sent them over-the-top documentation, explained it was a transcription error, we had made a good, neat copy to send to them and we failed to copy the numbers on to that one line. And that was the end of that.

      I keep credit card statements and check book statement for seven years. That is my life in those statements, I can reconstruct almost anything with them. So, yeah, I keep them. I tend to believe if you are prepared for the worst then the worst does not happen.

      I can also see where it would be handy to have this stuff if there was a recall on a major purchase or other unforeseen problem. I got up one morning and found a hole in my new hot water tank. It was about 6-7 years old. It was weird, like someone had shot it and there was ooze coming out of it. I found my proof of payment and called. I got the hot water tank replaced for free, I just paid the labor. That saved me over $800.

      I don’t keep utility bills for more than a year. The utilities just shut off if you don’t pay, so no need to document a payment from 5 years ago. If they thought I did not pay 5 years ago they would have turned off that utility long before now.

    2. Sibley*

      If you don’t want to keep the paper, scan it and keep electronically.

      I tend to keep taxes for 10 years, papers for stuff I’ve bought like cars/houses, etc as long as I have it + a couple years.

      Bank stmts, utilities, etc – typically keep around 5 years.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I’ve been filing my taxes electronically for 13 years now, and I have PDFs of all of the returns. I also scan in any paperwork that I don’t get electronically, like W-2s that I only received on paper, then I shred them. It’s just SO much easier to not have to worry about physical paper copies, and to know it’s all in one place, and it’s easy to search.

        I have two-factor authentication and a strong, randomized password on that account, and I have them all backed up on my home network server.

      2. SophieChotek*

        In theory for the oast 5-8 years, been doing the electronic scan–it’s the years before that. And I just don’t have time to scan years’ worth of bank statements from early 2000s, late 1990s…

        Thanks for feedback/suggestions!

  48. JHS*

    So I have a beautiful almost 1 year old, a loving dog and a wonderful husband. The problem is that I work full time, but my husband is in a specialty fellowship program in a medicine specialty known for being extremely rigorous and difficult. He is in the first year of a 3-4 year program and it is HORRIBLE. He works regularly from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm leaving me with my own demanding job (which is paying the bills since he is making a pittance for the amount he works) and this weekend he is on call. He left at 6:45 am yesterday and hasn’t been able to leave the hospital yet. I am blessed with amazing grandparents that help on request and we recently started with a babysitter two nights a week (she is a lovely college student but the dog is still getting used to her–subject of another post on crazy rescue dogs…), but even with the help, I find myself feeling really unhappy. I see instagram posts of friends and relatives in the Hamptons or on the Cape or in Europe and I feel like every day is a struggle just to get through the day. I know it is a first world problem because we have a gorgeous home and good food and health, for the most part, but nothing seriously wrong. I just feel like each day is a struggle and I have no free time at all except on the weekend when the baby is napping and then I feel like a terrible mom because I’m literally counting the seconds until she goes down for a nap. Someone told me, it gets easier once they’re out of diapers, but my husband wants another baby stat and I’m like—seriously??? You’re never even home! My husband is truly wonderful–super hands on dad, cleans up, grocery shops, laundry, you name it–when he is home–except he’s never home anymore.

    I don’t even know what I want to get from this point–maybe advice, maybe words of encouragement, but mostly just wanted to vent. I know it will eventually get easier, but it’s just hard right now.

    1. Elkay*

      There’s a quote from Jenny Lawson that goes along the lines of “There’s no point comparing your backstage with everyone else’s show reel”. That’s what Instagram and Facebook are, show reels. You don’t see photos of people cleaning up the vomit that came out of that cute cat they shared a photo of or the three hour traffic jam they sat in with screaming kids.

      There’s no doubt you are facing huge challenges but I bet you could fill up Instagram with cute pics of your kid/dog/husband with carefully worded captions that would sound just like those other people.

      1. JHS*

        Thanks. I really appreciate it. My husband always says that to me too. You definitely can’t tell people’s problems through their instagrams. I think it’s more that I see them getting out and doing things and enjoying life and right now, it just feels like it’s such a grind.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Please stop looking at this stuff. It’s not helping you. Your turn for this will come, in a while, not now.
          Everyone does their own PR, “Here let me show you how wonderful my life is”. I tend to think they are trying to get THEMSELVES to believe that, not us. If they say it often enough, they will start believing they have a wonderful life.

          As for all your busy-ness, try to see if you can find things that are less important that could go to the back burner for a while. We think that all these things we do are important, and some of them really aren’t. Look again, see what isn’t important.

          And reconnect with your hubby. Marriages can flounder when one spouse is immersed in job/school. Get your calendars out and make firm plans to reconnect with each other. This does not have to be elaborate. I have read and believe that couples who take walks together have stronger marriages, take a walk, as often as possible. We need that reconnect or we start feeling like robots going through our days. Reconnecting brings purpose back into all the chaos.

          1. JHS*

            Thank you! Yes, I believe in that too. It’s just been so hard because I think my husband feels so guilty for not seeing the baby enough so when he’s off, we tend to do family things. But I agree with you 100%, we need to maintain our marriage because that is good for the baby too in its own way.

    2. Colette*

      Can you come up with things you will enjoy that don’t depend on your husband – for example, short outings with your daughter that will break the drudgery? One year olds are usually interested in the world – can you take her to a bookstore or a coffee shop or a festival or museum?

      1. JHS*

        Thanks for the suggestions. I definitely need to do more of that on the weekends. I think I sometimes get some inertia and feel like leaving the house is so difficult, but I’m probably just building it up in my head. Here I am in my pajamas and it’s noon and I have baby snot in my hair. I think another thing is that my dog (as referenced above) is pretty crazy and he has bad separation anxiety so that also feeds into the inertia of why we tend to stick around on the weekends.

        1. Colette*

          What about walks, with the dog and the baby? The baby gets to watch the world go by, the dog gets exercise, and you get time to be in your own head?

          Is there a dog park nearby?

          What would you do if you had time to yourself, and is it possible to incorporate your child into it? For example, can she color while you draw? Can she play on the bathroom floor while you take a bath?

          And can you carve out time for yourself when your husband is home to deal with everything else?

          1. JHS*

            Thanks! Yes, we actually went to the park yesterday for a walk with my mother-in-law. That allowed me to walk the dog and she pushed the stroller. Unfortunately, there is a wonderful dog park nearby but they don’t allow any children under 5! When we lived in our old apartment I would strap her to me with the carrier and go and it was wonderful. I really appreciate the suggestions. I also took so long to reply because my husband came home (finally!) and I took a shower and took the baby out for a while so he could get some much needed sleep. I think the key is just trying to get up and ready to go so I don’t get stuck in the house all day. Thank you so much for giving me a push! :)

        2. TootsNYC*

          the inertia thing:

          Find something to do that involves other people, so that you don’t let them down (like, a friend who will go with you to do something)

          Or that costs money, so you think you shouldn’t waste it (like, a craft session at Michaels).

          I like the dog park idea that people have suggested–take those things that are a burden, and turn them into something that can be fun.
          Take the dog to the dog park on the night the babysitter’s there (consider it “me” time); or take the kid to the science center and show her ONE thing each Saturday morning, and then go back home. Pretend she can understand it.
          And, maybe a short outing like that will help the separation anxiety.

    3. Sybil Fawlty*

      Big hugs for you! I have lived that life for the last 20 years so I know what you mean. They aren’t home after residency either, sorry to say. It’s a very different lifestyle than most people live now. There are good and bad things about it, but you really have to accept that you are on your own. Set up your home life the way you want it and make sure it happens.

      You are not a terrible mom, you are just on 24-7 and it’s very hard. If you want to ask me anything, feel free. I have had a lot of experience with this issue and I have spent a lot of time and tears getting things workable.

      Good luck and hang in there!

      1. JHS*

        Thank you SO MUCH! I would love to take you up on it. Residency was tough, but it was doable because we didn’t have a baby. Fellowship is just so much tougher because there are so many more responsibilities now. Plus he is the only fellow in his class with kids, so I feel bad for him too because they’re always going out for drinks etc and he’s like, I haven’t seen my wife or baby in a week!

        I am definitely worried about a life in academics because it is one of those things that just seems like the prize is more pie. Research funding? Great, now publish! etc etc etc.

        I think that it will definitely be easier when there is some additional money coming in with the horrible hours. But money definitely doesn’t solve everything, I know. It’s just so hard because I can’t go down in hours in my job because we have to pay the mortgage and daycare. Plus my job is usually one of the jobs where the other spouse has a lower stress job (I’m a lawyer) so I am sort of an anomaly because I am the only one in my group at work who has a spouse that has a more stressful job than I do!

        Any advice you have is much appreciated!

        1. Sybil Fawlty*

          Wow you have a tough situation for sure. We have some differences, so I hope I can still give some useful suggestions. I had planned to have a more demanding career, but the combination of kids plus his career didn’t leave enough time or energy. I had/have strong opinions about our family life, and I had to choose. So I chose our family and stopped the career path I had initially chosen. It sounds like that won’t be a good option for you, because you are already set up and working, but I think your best option is making sure you use all of your avenues for outside help.

          It took me a while to fully understand how much his career impacted my life. It sounds like you both are anomalies in your field, you are both with people who don’t have families or a partner with a tough career. So you just can’t compare your situation to theirs.

          So my advice is this: See how much outside help you can set up. (Not how little you can get away with!) Think of all the time you could afford to pay for babysitting, housekeeping, errands, whatever else you can do.

          And: Schedules and checklists are my best friends. If my husband is on a 72 hr shift, he may be in and out, or I may not see him at all. Zero predictability. And lots of sad and scary cases to discuss. Once he leaves, I know exactly where I am and what I need to do by following my checklist. I standardize as much as possible.

          I hope those two things help, and good luck to you! It can be done, just focus on what you and your family need and not on what everyone else is doing.

          1. JHS*

            Thank you so much. I do think that I would like to slow down in my career once he is up on his feet, so to speak. Right now it just isn’t financially feasible based on our choices (e.g. our mortgage). Our mortgage isn’t crazy at all, it’s fairly reasonable, but probably not reasonable enough for his salary alone. I do have to work on accepting that it’s okay to need help! I am going to make that my goal!

    4. Observer*

      Find ways you can take the baby out – getting out helps loads. Also, in addition to the babysitter in the evening, perhaps a few hours of household help each week – and another couple of hours of babysitting in Sunday, specifically for YOU time.

      When my kids were little I had a LOT of household help. It cost us plenty, but it was worth it. Even if you can’t afford a LOT of help, if you can afford enough help to reliably get certain big jobs done, it will make a huge difference to your stress levels.

      Also, I don’t know if you’ve bought into all of the things we “must” do for our kids, but please know that it’s really not true. Your child will be fine if she doesn’t get organic blueberries out of season, and perfectly balanced and presented meals etc. And you can be sure that all of the perfectly gorgeously dressed babies and toddlers you are seeing on instagram, etc. do NOT always look like that. The same if for general household stuff.

      1. JHS*

        Thank you so much! Yes, the help is good–I just need to let myself accept it. With the babysitter, I still feel guilty like–why am I such a bad mom that I can’t take care of everything myself? It is just something I need to get over and realize that no one is Polly Perfect all the time. I think some housekeeping help might end up being something we look into–although we just got a Roomba and it has changed my life! It vacuums everyday when I’m at work!

        Honestly, the instagram stuff is mostly just relatives and friends who are really wealthy and are taking trips literally every week (this week it was Milan looking like a million bucks dressed to the nines) and wearing their Chanel when I am sitting in my snot covered PJS and looking at them living a fabulous life. The baby and dog photos I love :) But I take your point. They aren’t posting their PJ pictures with crazy hair!

        1. Observer*

          The reality is that there are only so many hours in the day. The only people who manage “everything” on their own are the ones who have a fairly narrow list of “everything”. EVERYONE else needs some help. And, that generally assumes that you still keep your list reasonable. It’s just not possible to manage a demanding career, keep the house nice, provide reasonable feeding to everyone in the household and tend properly to the baby all by yourself. And, that doesn’t even get to “me time”, which isn’t a luxury. (Neither is sleep, but the way. Do NOT let anyone guilt you about doing whatever it takes to get a reasonable amount of sleep.)

          The idea that women should have careers (and demanding ones, no less), keep perfect homes and be “perfect” mothers with perfectly groomed children, and do so without any help is a modern invention. And it has no relationship with reality.

    5. HardwoodFloors*

      Please, lets have a post on crazy rescue dogs! This is the hardest rescue dog I have ever had and I want her fears to lessen to allow herself to have a better quality of life.

      1. JHS*

        We call my dog our emotionally disturbed second child. He is so scared of people! When he was a puppy, he loved everyone! Now he loves dogs and children, but if he didn’t know you when he was a puppy, he thinks you’re going to murder our whole family and he wants you to stay far away. It’s really tough because we literally can’t have people over unless he is crated and it’s sad. He gets so anxious.

    6. TL -*

      Definitely say no to the second kid if you don’t want one now – your husband gets more input when he can be the primary parent. Tell him that’s part of the deal of choosing a difficult specialty.

      Seconding getting out of the house more and getting help if you can. But also, don’t compare yourself to other people’s lives – compared yourself to the life that would make you happy and then work towards that. You never know what sacrifices other people are making for that “perfect life” you see – all you know is everyone makes trade-offs and which trade-offs you’re okay with.

      1. Observer*

        But also, don’t compare yourself to other people’s lives – compared yourself to the life that would make you happy and then work towards that. You never know what sacrifices other people are making for that “perfect life” you see – all you know is everyone makes trade-offs and which trade-offs you’re okay with.

        This, 1,000 times over.

      2. JHS*

        Thanks! I appreciate the advice very much. I am going to make a real conscious effort to get out of the house and do fun things. Based on everyone’s advice, I made it out this afternoon and we went to the town center and just strolled around and then we went to a bookstore and we got a few new stories for bedtime. The baby had a blast and I felt good to be out! (I wish I realized how hot it was, but no big deal :) )

        Also, I know the whole perfect life thing isn’t really so perfect–I think I just feel like I’m never going to have fun again but that isn’t true and I need to make time (when possible) including a date night with my husband. We are probably neglecting our marriage and that’s not a good thing. I think I wouldn’t feel that way if we made time even every other week to do something fun so it isn’t just the monotony of work and childcare.

        I really appreciate the advice.

        1. Bibliovore*

          My rescue dog could be certified for PTSD. What has been helping us (and her) with the separation anxiety hysteria reactions is more people not less. We have friends and family over and ignore her. If she takes positive action like investigating the new person, we give her a little treat.

        2. TootsNYC*

          Don’t put pressure on yourself to do “fun!” things. Just do things. Period.

          Maybe every Saturday, you and the baby go for a donut and come back.
          Little things, and then you’ll probably have more energy for more interesting stuff. Start small, so you don’t psych yourself out.

      3. C Average*


        I’m going to put in a plug for spacing kids out. Two little kids = two helpless and demanding people who totally depend on you. One big kid + one little kid = one helpless and demanding person and one extra pair of eyes and hands to help you. My sister and I were seven years apart, and I was a more hands-on parent to her than our father managed to be. With my help, my mother got a respite from infant and toddler care, and had a reliable on-call babysitter as my sister got older. And we played together and were and remain very close, despite the big gap between us.

    7. C Average*

      Take half a day of PTO and go to a matinee of “Bad Moms.” It’s really funny, and does a great job of skewering society’s expectations of moms. I know going to a movie doesn’t actually fix anything, but it really made me feel better about my real and perceived shortcomings as a parent, and there’s something decadent about watching a movie in the middle of a weekday.

      Other than that, I have no brilliant ideas, only empathy. Fellowships aren’t forever and diapers aren’t forever. It will get better, but it sure sounds hard right now.

  49. Tamara*

    Can you guys recommend short story collections to me? Especially short stories that can be read in 15 minutes or less.

    I need to make better use of my breaks at work and I think that reading a quick short story would really make my breaks more *relaxing.* The only short story collection I own is one with Anton Chekhov’s short stories. I’m not too picky about what I read, but I am not into science fiction or fantasy AT ALL, so nothing from those genres please.

    1. Aurora Leigh*

      Splickety! They have a magazine that is filled with short stories 4 times a year. Splickety is various themes. Splickety Love is short romances. Havok is sci-fi fantasy. Link to follow.

    2. hermit crab*

      My favorite author of short stories is Lorrie Moore. She has several books of quirky, funny, heartfelt stories, including a new-ish one that came out in the past year or so.

    3. Elkay*

      Coronado by Dennis Lehane is good but the stories are more novellas than short stories. If you’re happy with novellas Different Seasons by Stephen King is brilliant.

      I’m currently reading Olive Kitteridge after Alison recommended it a few weeks ago, I’m really enjoying it. I quite like linked/themed collections of short stories.

      I’ve heard good things about Philip Pullman’s Grimm’s fairy tales.

    4. Dynamic Beige*

      I remember reading short story collections by Arthur C. Clarke when I was in high school… but those are all science fiction/fantasy.

      Have you considered poetry? I once got a collection of 16th century poems out of library because I wanted something short I could read during lunch. It did have The Faerie Queen in there, which I skipped being 70 pages long. But otherwise, it was kind of nice to read a few poems and then get back to work.

      Also, if you haven’t read any of them, you might want to consider a James Patterson pot-boiler. Seriously, some of the “chapters” are a page long and there can be over 100 in the book. I can read one cover to cover in 3-4 hours depending.

      Alice Munro is well known for her short stories but I confess I’ve never read them.

      As Elkay suggests, old fairy tales are short (usually) and if you can get a copy before Grimm, well… they’re not what you’ve been lead to expect from Grimm and Disney.

      Many of Dickens’ books were serialised, so you might try that. I also read an anthology of Sherlock Holmes mysteries and recall they were pretty short. I mean, each one wasn’t the length of a novel.

    5. LisaLee*

      Flash Fiction Online is a great site that does stories under 1000 words. I like them because you can get a taste of a lot of different authors.

      I would also recommend Kelly Link’s collections. She does sometimes step into fantasy territory, but more in the magical realism/literary sense, and she’s a master of the short form. Her most recent collection is called Get in Trouble.

      1. Mags*

        I love Kelly Link! I don’t really enjoy fantasy but would agree that she’s more magic realism. Amber Sparks is another author in a similar vein whose work I really enjoy.

    6. Mags*

      I recently bought Flannery O’Connor’s complete short stories and would recommend it. Also try Lucia Berlin’s A Manual for Cleaning Women. And I will second the poetry recommendation. I usually recommend something from Write Bloody Publications. Anis Mojgani, Derrick Brown, Sierra DeMulder maybe. Or a compilation like The Last American Valentine or The Elephant Engine High Dive Revival.

    7. Mephyle*

      I just got Man V. Nature: Stories by Diane Cook. As I write this, the e-book is at reduced price, one of those Daily Deal things.
      I can’t tell whether the stories are short enough to read in 15 minutes or not, since the free peek inside didn’t contain all of the first story, but I needed to see how it ends, so I bought the book.

  50. HardwoodFloors*

    Does anyone have magazines that they look forward to reading monthly? I would like to read informative thought provoking articles and maybe some with humor. I am fed up with what I currently see. I get disgusted with magazines that promise personal growth and current events and have tens of pages filled with $1000. skirts. I like the Atlantic or the Nation but sometimes find their articles long-winded and pedantic or occasionally preachy.

    1. LisaLee*

      I really love The Believer. They have stories, poems, profiles of interesting people and places, and really good interviews. It *can* get a bit hipster-y, but not horribly so.

      1. The Unkind Raven*

        The New Yorker has a nice balance of thoughtful articles and reviews, and of course they are famous for their cartoons. They have a humor feature each week called Shouts and Murmers, though I find it hit and miss.

        1. Clever Name*

          Shouts and murmurs is supposed to be funny?! My parents have had a subscription forever, so I probably started reading it when I was 10. The cartoons were my favorite then. I sometimes read the articles. As an adult, I find it too New York centric (duh) for me, living in the mountain west. But I’ve never found shouts and murmurs to be funny. Ha!