weekend free-for-all – October 15-16, 2016

img_5058This 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: Missing, Presumed, by Susie Steiner. Edith Hind, a young woman from a well-connected family, is missing … but the story is about all the people left behind as much as it’s about the investigation into her disappearance. This is the first police procedural I’ve ever read, and as a Law & Order addict, I have no idea why it took me so long.

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

{ 843 comments… read them below }

  1. nep*

    Has anyone here read The Late Starters Orchestra? I read just a few pages on Amazon — looks interesting.

    1. Jenn*

      That does sound interesting. I was recently toying with the idea of taking up the clarinet again. I just turned 35 and I haven’t played since I was probably 15.

    2. Anansi*

      I haven’t read it but it sounds similar to The Piano Shop on the Left Bank, where the author as an adult discovers his love of piano through a shop in his neighborhood in Paris. I read it years ago and loved it.

    1. self employed*

      Stream! I use Pandora a lot with a little Spotify. I find Spotify has more frequent ads but a good amount of variety.

      1. nep*

        I’ve been thinking about Pandora. I could look this up, but while I’ve got you — how much is it?

    2. Bye Academia*

      I do a mix. I buy albums that I find myself liking after listening a while, or that my favorite artists put out. If I’m just looking for background music or am curious about something, I go for Pandora and Spotify. I don’t pay the subscription for Spotify since I usually outright buy albums I want to listen to on-the-go.

    3. Wrench Turner*

      Pandora unless I want to buy something specific. To that end, may I suggest you all look up a Tribe Called Red and check out their music.

      1. OlympiasEpiriot*

        TCR are great!

        Hey, are you familiar with Frank Waln? He just dropped a new, beautiful song this past week: 7

    4. FD*

      It depends! If it’s something I’ll listen to lots of times, I tend to buy albums from Amazon. I don’t have an MP3 player in my car, so if I want to listen to music over my car speakers, I have to burn it to CD. (My car’s a bit too new for a cassette deck, so I can’t use the MP3 to tape-deck adapter.)

      But if I just feel like listening to it at home, I usually stream it.

      1. Lady Bug*

        You can get an fm transmitter for your mp3. It transmits to your car radio on a dead station. They are fairly inexpensive.

    5. Felix*

      Stream- I mostly use google play, soundcloud and 8tracks. I’ve also just discovered hoopla which is awesome! You can borrow entire albums for a month (downloaded to your device) all do free if your local library uses the service.

      I used to buy all my music but had a succession of hard drives die on me…. I just got so tired of the hassle (even with an external hard drive) it is so much easier to just stream.

      I also have a record player so I do buy LPs on occasion!

    6. Nicole*

      I buy physical CDs from my favorite artists. For individual songs I really like I buy the MP3 from Amazon and back it up to two hard drives. For everything else I borrow from the library (either physical cds or by using the Hoopla app) or listen via Google Play, I Heart Radio, or Digitally Imported.

      1. Loopy*

        I also do Spotify 10 dollar a month package and I absolutely LOVE it. Very rarely is there anything I can’t find, and I love using the mood playlists!!! It’s quite a good service! You can also save songs offline which is a huge bonus for me.

        1. Nina*

          Yeah, I’m looking into subscribing to Spotify in the future. I think it’s worth the money. Great variety and the saving songs offline is awesome.

      2. Mags*

        Another +1 for Spotify Premium. It is well worth the $10 a month I pay. If you’re on the fence I believe they still have a $0.99 3 month trial. If you don’t like it just remember to cancel before the 3 months is over.

    7. super anon*

      I use Apple music. I have an iPhone, an Apple Watch, and a Macbook Air, so the integration with Siri and across my devices works well for me. For the few songs I can’t find on Apple music I download them. I use Spotify at work because I don’t want to sign into my apple account on my work computer.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      I belong to a website that streams soundtrack music, which is mostly what I listen to. I also buy albums that I like from that and from other things, because I can’t stream at work (except Pandora, which I hate).

      I do have a Spotify account, but mostly I use it to listen to stuff I might want to buy. There are a lot of CDs in my house, though I’ve moved to mostly downloading music. Sometimes a soundtrack album is out of print or an import, and I have to get a CD. Or I buy it used.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          My soundtrack station is free to listen to–we do have to keep donations up to keep ads out because it’s expensive for them. May I ask what the station is? I might check it out.

    9. OlympiasEpiriot*

      I buy albums. Either on cds or vinyl. Very, very occasionally I buy an mp3. I like hearing how the artist structured the album. They made specific choices about order. Sometimes, I suppose, it may not matter, but some albums are very different if you listen in a different order.

      I do have mixes, I have electronic playlists; these are generally from friends who do DJ’ing and there is a method to the list and the order and I appreciate their taste and think about how/why they chose songs.

      I do stream on Pandora, Soundcloud and Tidal when I am not at home. Tidal was the only place Prince was putting his music out on teh webz, so I joined. Soundcloud has a lot of sets from DJs I like.

      I also buy music from a lot of indy people who sell cds at their shows…so, well, I listen to cds.

      And, I’m old, I bought a lot of music starting in the mid-1970’s and kept it. So. Vinyl.

    10. FiveWheels*

      I buy physical, and burn to mp3 if I want a digital copy. Wouldn’t trust paying to download (copy protection etc) and streaming is no good when the internet goes down or I’m travelling

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        FYI: Most places to buy digital no longer have copy protection. Amazon MP3, for example has never had it. iTunes hasn’t had it since 2009.

    11. Charlotte, not NC*

      I buy albums as much as possible. I think generally an artist intends for all the tracks to stand together, so if I like something enough to listen, I want the whole message.

    12. Nina*

      Usually stream through Spotify, although I still keep Pandora and Slacker for certain playlists I can’t find anywhere else. I bought 2 albums last year through ITunes because I loved the artists and I have no regrets; I listen to just about all of the songs. That said, ITunes is terrible. When I upgrade on Spotify, I’ll just stick to that.

    13. mondegreen*

      I stream using Spotify and (recently) Amazon Prime, but set aside a small budget every month to buy a few of my favorite tracks. Artists don’t get much money from streaming services, but I’ve discovered and bought music from new people this way, so that’s how I justify it to myself.

      1. Honeybee*

        Yeah, I have Amazon Prime but heretofore I haven’t checked out Amazon Music too much – I should try it out.

    14. AcademiaNut*

      Buy physical, rip to a compressed lossless format for backup, and encode in MP3 for regular use. Scan the liner notes and save as PDF.

      I’m not in the US, so my streaming options are pretty limited, I can’t buy Amazon digital media (not in US), and other digital purchase options are limited. I mostly use youtube browsing to check out stuff before buying.

    15. Woman of a Certain Age*

      Being old, I still buy CDs. I listen to podcasts of music programs by specific DJs from a couple of radio station websites and occasionally I’ll listen to distant radio stations live over the internet.

      Besides that, I frequently listen to the music videos posted on YouTube. There are an awful lot of recordings of entire albums of music posted there.

      1. KR*

        (looking at the other comments I’ll ad I also have a sick vinyl and CD collection along with an extensive digital music library. Currently my computer is not working though so all the files are on a hard drive and I rely on Spotify for my new music and getting the music to my phone)

    16. Crystalline*

      I use Google Play for $10 (ish) a month and love it. Before that, I used Pandora. If I really, really love a song, I’ll buy it separately sometimes, but I rarely buy albums anymore, physical or otherwise.

    17. Lady Blerd*

      I buy albums, not individual tracks. Even though I’ve been subscribed to Spotify for almost two years now, I’ve only recently started to use it as a way to listen to albums to decide if I want to purchase them or to listen to newly discovered (by me) artist’s back catalogue.

  2. self employed*

    Anyone here on Medium? How do you promote/get your stories seen? I’m pretty new but would like to establish a following in a somewhat niche area. Is following others the way to attract some attention? Thanks for any tips!

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Maybe tag it with appropriate tags and make meaningful comments on others’ stories? Sometimes people will follow you back.

  3. Jordan*

    I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who commented a few weeks ago — I started therapy this week and we are going to use my preferred pronouns and name during our sessions. Happy Caturday to you all!

    1. Wrench Turner*

      I just had my first 2 sessions and #3 when I get back. Took 20+ years to open the door but I finally walked through it. You can do this. You deserve to be happy and feel whole.

    2. littlemoose*

      Best wishes to you as you move forward in your journey. I hope therapy will be supportive and empowering for you.

  4. TheLazyB*

    Hi everyone. I’ve finally realised that 90% of my struggles in life can be summed up as ‘I struggle with transitions’. Going to bed. Getting up. Getting to work and getting going. Leaving work. Stopping doing one thing and starting doing something else, basically.

    I know that can be a symptom of ADD/ADHD but I don’t think I have them (maybe I do and I’m in denial though, I’ve flirted with so many MH diagnoses I really don’t want to think about it – I suffer from depression and anxiety but have some OCD elements and have spoken to my GP about PTSD and bipolar, although we decided I don’t have them). But are there any hints, tips or resources that might prove useful to me?

    Thanks in advance, good people.

    1. self employed*

      I don’t suffer from this, but would timers help? Like, “when the timer goes off I need to start my bedtime routine.” Or give yourself a 5-minute warning to wrap up, then begin moving to the next thing? Or start telling yourself you can do one more X before it’s time to Y?

      1. TheLazyB*

        I have had a ‘time for bed’ alarm in the past and it Did Not Work. However in finding that I’m leaving work later and later which is Not Good as I don’t have a lot of leeway for picking my small child up from after school care so I should definitely try one for that (one day I had to call from work to say ‘err I forgot to leave I’ll be there asap’ -Not Good!!). However in general I think there’s something in that – in work especially I usually just start a task with no idea how or why I should finish it, and I think yeah, being more conscious about planning my day and my tasks will help. Thank you.

      2. FiveWheels*

        Speaking entirely for myself, a timer doesn’t help, because I know the time and I know I should be out of bed, I just don’t want to follow it!

        I used to think of it in chemistry terms. I have a high activation energy – takes me a lot of mental effort to start, but when it’s going the reaction keeps on going with a bang.

    2. breadrolls*

      I also struggle with those things mightily. I do have ADHD (+depression/anxiety), but one of the things I’ve been talking about with my therapist is that knowing *why* you’re struggling with something can be comforting, but it isn’t always necessary (or even helpful) in fixing it. So, ignoring the why, here are some things that I find helpful, although I haven’t magically gotten Really Good at this stuff:

      1) Combine steps you stumble on to create an easier, more sustainable routine. For example, in the morning I struggled to get through the steps of washing my face, applying my acne medication, moisturizing, flossing, brushing my teeth, taking my medication, picking out clothes, and getting dressed. I’d freeze trying to decide the order of things, or dawdle between stages, and I would end up taking three times as long as I needed to because I overthought it so badly. So I set up an order that made different steps “overlap”, which meant starting one gave me momentum to go on rather than having to force myself through each task individually. If I start by flossing, this means I’ll need to brush my teeth, but before I start brushing I’ll apply a face cleanser that needs to sit for a minute. Then I can wash off the cleanser and rinse my mouth simultaneously. Having used the cleanser means I need to apply my acne medication, which needs to sit on my skin for a few minutes as well, so while those minutes pass I take my medication and pick out clothes. Once I’ve decided what to wear, the tingling on my face will tell me it’s time to moisturize or have all my skin peel off, so I’ll do that. All that’s left then is to put on my clothes, which is infinitely easier after having gone through the rest of my routine. Basically, I make it so the real challenge is just to get through the first step, which has made things overall much less daunting.

      2) Latch onto any and every moment of energy I happen across to minimize the difficulty of an upcoming transition. Getting ready for bed is A Nightmare, so if I happen to have energy to brush my teeth or put on pajamas an hour before I plan to go to bed, I’ll do it then so that the later effort is lessened.

      3) Don’t wait to feel ready/able to do things before you do them. This is the hardest, least dependable method, because mental illness and cognitive disorders are serious sh*t, and you can’t make them go away by sheer willpower. Sometimes something will feel too impossible to make it happen. But I have good days and bad days, like most people, and on a good day it might be possible to say “I feel incapable of taking a shower right now, but I know I AM literally physically able to get undressed and stand under that water, so I’m going to do those things.” This can also be helpful when I’m struggling to start a new task at work; I’ll focus on the little mechanical aspects that I *know* I can do and force myself to start that way, even if I can’t mentally move on from my previous task at first.

      Idk if these will be helpful to you, but are so far they’re my best coping mechanisms. My only other advice is to supplement any and all such coping with a healthy dose of self-forgiveness. Celebrate every little “easy” thing you do–loudly, to friends and family who will cheer you on, if you can!–, but don’t beat yourself up for struggling or failing to get things done.

      1. TheLazyB*

        Haha I am Really Good at being self aware and exploring and understanding the Why of why I do stuff, and Not Great at the actually changing part – although I’m getting better.

        All those tips sound really helpful, thank you. My main problems will be a) not trying to try them all at once and b) actually trying them, not just reading, nodding sagely and then never putting them into action………!!!

        Thank you again for sharing. I really appreciate it.

    3. TL -*

      Have you talked to a specialist, not a GP? GPs aren’t really meant to manage mental health care, especially for things that could indicate PTSD or bipolar. If you haven’t seen a counselor and/or psychiatrist (if you’re on meds), that’d be a good place to start.

      1. TheLazyB*

        In the UK you usually see a GP for this stuff. I’m quite happy with the nos for bipolar and PTSD- I had good reason to consider them but after exploring it I was happy that I don’t suffer from them. (with OCD I do suffer to a mild degree but feel that an official diagnosis would be extremely unhelpful for me -I’m pretty sure my subconscious would use it as an excuse to validate behaviours I don’t want to reinforce.)

        I’m currently Between Counselors – I complained about my last one and asked to switch, which reminds me, I should have had a call back about that by now. Must check on Monday.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Sincere question, how much of your transitions problem is above and beyond what can normally be expected? I wrestled with this question. Then, I realized that some starts were harder than other starts.
      For example: I never want to clean the dog run or the toilet. Hey, these make sense! I found it helpful to get a grip on the task that was pending, keep a real world perspective on it. I am a big fan of using the reward system. I did not want to make a dump run today. I promised me I could paint my chairs once I got back from the dump. I have been dying to do these two chairs. So that moved me forward.

      For myself, I found that getting help with my heart, thyroid and digestive track helped with many of my stinkin’ thinkin’ issues. I learned that I absolutely have to have at least seven hours of sleep a night and eight hours needs to be a regular goal for me.

      I know these sound like simple answers to a complex question but before you go too far, check to see how the basics in your life are going.

      Also take a look at the question of “how do you comfort yourself?” When I got upset I used to drink coffee and eat a candy bar. Surprise, surprise, I just kept feeling worse and worse. I had to train my brain to read up on things that left me unsettled or concerned me. Knowledge is power. My wise friend said that we subconsciously know when we are getting ourselves REAL help. Coffee and candy bars were not real help and I knew that on some level. I let ME down and this made my fatigue and everything else even worse. Once I started investing more in myself, some of the arguments running in my head just went away. Looking back on it, I can say sometimes it felt like WWIII inside my head trying to make myself move and do.

      Do not allow yourself to drain and drain and drain. Family, work, home, pets, etc can all drain us as we put constant energy into these things. Look at how you refuel.

      1. FiveWheels*

        Again speaking totally for myself, the difficulty of getting started is unrelated to the unpleasantness of the actual task. The penultimate bus stop is closest to my work, and staying on the bus until the end adds 5-10 minutes to my morning commute.

        How often do I get off at the more sensible stop? Almost never, and only when I’m on deadlines so every minute counts.

        It’s almost like a bungee cord pulling me back telling me not to do anything until the last possible moment…

      2. TheLazyB*

        You always have such wise words. I wish I had time to explore ask this further but in the absence of that I just want to tell you that you’ve raised loads of good questions there.

        One of the things I’ve been realising lately is that my petrol(gas) tank keeps going totally empty, I put 3-4 pints in to keep going when really I need gallons. I’ve not quite figured out what to do about this yet, it’s hard to fix both practically and emotionally. But your comment to someone else last week about the order of priority to care for people and things really helped. It’s been in my mind all week. Your wise friend was wise, but so are you. Thank you.

    5. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I found that I’ve had to train the “adult” voice in my head to make me instantaneously take action when I think of or remember something I need to do. So, if I’m sitting there and I remember something that I wanted to do, I either get up the second I remember and go do it, or I set a reminder or open a browser tab or move whatever it is that I’ll need later to the dresser or on top of the laptop.

      It’s just a habit that you can learn. You’ll forget a lot at first, and sometimes you’ll remember but you won’t act, and that’s fine, but when I notice that I’m stalling I usually make myself get up and act at that point.

    6. FiveWheels*

      I call this the inertia disease – I didn’t know if was a symptom of ADHD, but that’s interesting to me as I have a lot of the other symptoms too.

      The way I try to deal with it is by reducing transitions. I don’t take breaks unless something intervenes, because I’m more productive in long stretches.

      1. Anon for this*

        I like “inertia disease.” Having trouble switching tasks or initiating new ones is part of ADHD’s difference in executive function. But I think that someone with anxiety or depression might also struggle with executive function because those are exhausting.

        1. FiveWheels*

          I was thinking about this last night and I wonder if it’s connected to being introverted. I’m VERY introverted, though most people I know wouldn’t think so because I’m also pretty energetic.

          Anyway, changing tasks involves coming out of my head and looking at something on the outside world, which is inherently tiring.

    7. Anon for this*

      OCD is an anxiety disorder, and it’s pretty normal for people with one anxiety disorder to find their symptoms overlapping with those of another. My diagnosis is generalized anxiety disorder, and I have panic attacks (as in panic disorder) and intrusive thoughts and compulsions (as in OCD). Is it possible that this is related to anxiety for you? Does change make you feel as if you aren’t in control? Do minor transitions bring up big-picture thoughts about your life that set certain depression/anxiety spirals in motion?

      If that might be the case, my advice is to take care of yourself and give yourself time/space to be panicky and uncomfortable – you know it will happen – during transitions. And to give yourself the feeling of more control by planning as much of your own part in the transition as you can.

    8. Sami*

      You’ve already gotten some good tips and ideas here.
      I will just add that I had a huge personal a-ha moment when I read Gretchen Rubin’s (“The Happiness Project” etc.) short essay about going to bed. The essence of it is that it takes a big burst of mental and physical energy to go to bed. Usually when it’s time to go bed you’re already tired and probably cozy on the couch. Then when you think of everything you need to do before you actually plop down in bed- well, at that point it’s easier to keep Facebooking or reading AAM. So I try to do as much as possible to get ready for bed and for the next day BEFORE I pick up my book/iPad/TV remote. Good luck!

      1. Anxa*

        This is so important for me. I have to brush my teeth early on in the night.

        This is also TMI, but I dread going to bed because I get the going-to-bed-now-i-have-to-pee thing. I have to try to stop drinking water at a certain time.

    9. Misc*

      In my case, (ADHD again, executive dysfunction is a major issue) the things that help me are:

      1. EXTERNAL deadlines, not internal ones. For motivation, this doesn’t help with actually remembering/not getting stuck.

      2. Lists. Literally write down every stupid thing. This reduces the chance of forgetting stuff/takes the mental stress of constantly trying to remember the marble your brain just dropped (e.g. I write down ‘feed cats’ even though I know they won’t let me leave without it because I’ll forget to factor it in otherwise and run late), and lets you tick stuff off which is nice, and gives you a set list of stuff to work through, which gives you a nice clear idea of how much/how long/how far along.

      Have a bunch of notepads around, write a morning list, follow it, do it in whatever order, cross each thing out, throw it out when you leave, write a new one later.

      2a. Or have a Very Set Routine instead of a variable list, which is just a series of panicked deadlines that arrive in a predictable fashion, but that can snowball fast if each one can pile up onto the next). I find routines only work for me if they’re externally imposed – e.g. I have to catch a ride with someone, get somewhere before it closes and I’m still going to be last minute-ing it.

      3. Don’t focus on the thing you have to do next (e.g. get out of bed and dress … ugh), focus on the more exciting/interesting/urgent thing you want to/have to go do after that incidentally *requires* you to jump up and dress. So you’re going ‘oooh, must try that new cereal/go check for eggs from the chickens/see if I can catch the X bus’ and then you’re half dressed without noticing.

      1. Misc*

        (For ‘3’ I’ll often just *assume* I don’t need to dress, I’ll just envision myself wandering round in a dressing gown, but once I’m actually upright it’s less effort to dress than it is to find my dressing gown/worry about flatmates/”I’ll just have to come back and dress so I might as well do it now”)

        But lists help a lot. Or just checking in with someone, ask them a stupid ‘this way or that way’ question, and then it breaks the ‘getting started’ ice and I’m all YES I CAN DO THE REST MYSELF THANKS I just didn’t know which way the gate I was hanging should swing because there was no real difference so I just couldn’t start because everything else depended on it.

    10. Marillenbaum*

      I sometimes do what I used to do for the kids I babysat: give myself a heads-up when it’s going to be time to make a transition. Like, okay, we have ten more minutes for X activity, and then it will be time to start something else. It gives me time to think about the things I have to actually do to make the transition–does anything need to be put away? Do I need to get out new equipment or information?

    11. Jillociraptor*

      I relate to this a lot. I find it really hard to shift focus and then stay on task. Focus/flow is kind of like a drug for me; I get so much energy from being deep into one thing (even if that’s thinking Deep Thoughts under the covers) that it’s torture to pull away from that, even if it’s for another thing I genuinely want to do.

      What I try to do is make it as easy as possible to pick up the next thing. Having routines helps, as does having all the information I need to do the thing in one place. For example, I pay all my bills the first weekend of the month after my paycheck is deposited. I have a list of all the bills, with the links to the websites, in an easily accessible place, and I do it all at once. I can’t manage all the little things spread throughout the month, even with the checklist. At work, when I have a task to do, I try to split it into two phases: one is gathering the information to do the thing, and the other is actually doing the thing. So, if I have a report to write, I’ll schedule time on my calendar on Tuesday to collect all the data sources and pull all the instructions/requirements into one place. Then on Wednesday, I’ll actually analyze the data and write the report. Having the logistics taken care of makes the transition easier, rather than introducing another way of thinking that just sends me off on another imagination bender. Basically it means that I get back into the deep concentration/flow as quickly as possible with the new thing.

    12. TheLazyB*

      Thank you for all the comments, some really useful stuff there. I’ll be coming back to it over the next few days!

    13. Mr. Manager*

      I have ADHD, and when left on my own to work in unstructured time, I find the only way to get anything done is to make sure what im doing is something im passionate about or eager to do. Boring things i struggle with, but something I am good at and have inspiration with I can complete with minimal distraction.

      The key for me is to be upfront with my boss so he can give me some freedom to jump around. He knows i do quality work, and just puts options in front of me and turns me loose. The rest gets assigned or delegated as needed.

      I realize this is ideal and unlikely in a lot of spots, but maybe something like this can be worked out for you?

  5. Wrench Turner*

    Taking my first European Vacation starting in about 2 hours. 4 days in Iceland, 2 in Paris, 2 in Switzerland where I’m officiating a wedding. Not anxious at all.
    At. All.

    1. Nella*

      If you want to see the Louvre and it’s a busy weight for the normal entrance go to the gardens surrounding it and look for a bathroom sign among the rose bushes. This takes you to the food court underground and right next to an entrance to the Louvre that basically no one uses.

    2. Rahera*

      Sounds awesome! Have a great time. Re nerves, my singing teacher, when I’m anxious, always reminds me to focus on breathing out, then relaxing and letting the breath just come in on its own. It really helps, and cuts that panicky feeling way down. :)

    3. nerdgal*

      If you use a credit card, the business will probably ask you if you want to pay in dollars or the local currency. It’s much cheaper to use the local currency! There are phone apps that can do the conversion if you want to.

  6. Editor*

    Does anyone on AAM quilt and are they interested in so-called modern quilting? I will be president of my fairly small guild next year, and we need some program ideas that don’t cost a lot (not a lot in the treasury). We don’t have as much of a social media presence as we should, either, so it seems like we’re a bit behind hand relative to other guilds that are part of the national guild.

    1. Lumos*

      I have made one quilt ever and it was a struggle that I really enjoyed. I don’t have access to a sewing machine at the moment, and I don’t have the patience to hand-sew or I would still be quilting. Have you checked your local library system? They should have a bunch of great resources on quilting.

    2. Wrench Turner*

      My mom and some good friends quilt but never heard of “modern” quilting. What makes that different?

      1. Editor*

        A lot of modern quilting is less rigidly structured, with improvisational piecing, asymmetry, negative space or large areas of one fabric or color. There’s less reliance on rigid grids in design, but more minimalist quilting using parallel lines or other, simpler approaches. For my guild this year, I designed guidelines so members could make square samplers that were 40 by 40 inches using some freestyle piecing, wonky stars, improv piecing, and stack’n’slash. Having done all that as VP this year, I don’t have as many ideas for next year.

        1. E*

          How about a limited color scheme to see how creative folks can get with only 3 colors? Or take inspiration from a modern art piece and translate what you love about it into a quilt? I’m thinking in terms of expanding artistic skills. I quilt very little, but these are projects that I think would expand my ability to create my own original modern quilt.

    3. Cristina in England*

      I think modern quilting would be a great addition to your program! I think there are a lot of people out there like me who want to give it a try but just don’t want a traditional quilt at the end of the process, and so never actually progress. I mean, if you spend that much time and money making something, you should love how it looks, right?

    4. Kay*

      I am about to embark on my first quilt. I have never heard of modern quilting. I just Googled and that seems really cool, though. Good luck!

    5. Colette*

      I quilt, but not modern quilting. It’s not my thing. The last couple of years, I’ve been doing all about me quilts for pre-teens of family and friends.

    6. Kim*

      I am active in our large local quilt guild and there is not a lot of interest in modern quilting. Quite the opposite actually. The tendency is to look down on it because of modern wuilting’s simplicity and minimalistic design. If you’re looking for low cost program ideas, some of the most well received were Presented by the local quilt store staff: choosing color combination, blocking and squaring, thread choices, and binding techniques. A local custom quilter did a program on choosing a quilting design. The sewing machine store owner did a program on troubleshooting machine problems (i.e. How to clean your machine). A local university prof did a great program on dating antique quilts. Another popular program was when the founding members did a show and tell of their first quilts.

      1. Editor*

        We have been doing member spotlights, where people bring in their work and show how it has evolved. And, of course, there’s show-and-tell at every meeting. We don’t have many quilt shops in our area, which is disappointing because there’s less of an opportunity for programs. The closest shop is unenthusiastic about modern quilting and doesn’t carry solids. We’re one of several guilds in the area, but the only one affiliated with the modern aesthetic, and we do have a lot of overlaps in membership. The really large guild in the area does some wonderful quilt history programs, but they have the budget for it.

    7. Lizabeth*

      Have you done a survey within the guild on what they’d like to hear about/do? I like some of the modern quilts out there, sort of modern abstract painting with cloth. However, the key to a great modern quilt is how they handle the quilting part. Have you looked at the Modern Quilt Guild’s website for ideas? Personally I would LOVE a workshop/demo on how to paper piece without having to commit to an entire quilt, like most of the classes in my neck of the woods. Paper piecing can go in just about any direction, traditional to modern.

      1. Editor*

        I would like to use more of the Modern Quilt Guild online programs at guild meetings, but the meeting facilities aren’t conducive to that and I think all the members can just watch them at home.

        I will have to think about the paper piecing thing. I am not good at that, but we have some members who have done a lot of traditional quilting and are good at it.

        1. E*

          I recommend the Shape Family Challenge by Tales of Cloth. I haven’t had a chance to try this myself but she sells an awesome set of paper pieces that can be used in numerous patterns. I think it’d be so neat to see how many unique patterns could be made in a guild group.

  7. Bye Academia*

    Thanks so much for all your comments on my post a few weeks ago about my cat’s mammary cancer (link to follow).

    The update after her appointment with the oncologist and some more tests is that it has NOT spread yet, which is a huge relief. Also, it’s still a small enough tumor that surgery could still give her 2 more good years. Though we have heard the recovery can be rough for a few weeks, we live in a big city with a great teaching animal hospital and we trust them to do a good job. We are leaning towards the surgery, because it’s worth it to us to have that extra time even if it’s not a permanent cure. Hopefully it will go smoothly, and we are crossing our fingers for a reasonable amount of remission time.

    1. FiveWheels*

      Good luck! With cats it’s often hard to know they’re unwell early on, so it’s great news it hasn’t spread yet.

    2. Today's anon*

      That’s what I did with my cat, and I think it helped her. She was depressed/low energy for a bit after having her tumors removed, also having to wear the infamous cone was not pleasant as she kept bumping into things. Good luck!

    3. Trixie*

      Fingers crossed! I remember my cat recovering fairly quickly from his surgery which included having from limb amputated. They told me to keep him still but when he wanted to move he just adapted. I kept his food/water/litter in same room so he didn’t have go far. And I imagine he slept quite a bit from both stress and pain med patches.

  8. Gene*

    Three weeks ago, my 80-yo Mom had to have her gall bladder removed. She’s still in the hospital and recovery has been going fairly well. Last night had a TIA.

    Waiting to hear how the MRI went. Luckily, my brother lives right next door to her, so he and his wife have been there for her and taking care of her critters.

    On a less fraught note, I made another nightgown for my wife. She’d prefer a less loose fit, so the next one will address that. You can see it (and her) here. https://www.instagram.com/p/BLl7bxtg2ro/

    I also found some awesome buttons on Etsy for the shirt using the bacon fabric. They look like fried eggs!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Hello Kitty. Where is Jaime?

      Fried egg buttons. You’re slaying me. I really want to see this shirt.

  9. Anon Again*

    How do you handle people who seem to want to bring you down or who make slights/verbal jabs at you? These people may seem like they have good intentions or even have a smile on their face, but then this venom comes out of their mouth. I’m usually either too stunned to speak or ignore it, until later on when I think of something to say and it’s too late.

    1. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      Depends on who they are in your life (family, “friends”, colleagues). The first two categories get cut out completely. They obviously don’t like us if they treat us like that and we deserve respect so I will cut ties. If it’s worth talking to them about it, you might have a handle on whether they are being deliberately malicious or just taking out their displeasure about something else on you, then I would do so once but then they’re outta my life if they can’t quit it. My own grandmother was that sort and she’s malicious and selfish and so she hasn’t been welcome in my life for the past 15 years. It’s a lot happier and more positive without her around honestly, she could never be happy for anyone and would always sneer at you if you were sick or in pain. Colleagues, I develop a frosty look with raised eyebrows if I can’t come up with an appropriate rejoinder. It usually says volumes without getting me in trouble for speaking mind in the heat of the moment. But good stand-bys have been: “I don’t know why you’d say something like that”, or “hm, that’s rude.”

    2. Stellaaaaa*

      I usually view them as people who can’t ever be happy for someone else. You’ll tell them something you’re excited about and they have to minimize it instead of just saying congratulations and then telling you something they’re excited about too. They’re people with empty lives and nothing positive to talk about so they don’t want to hear it from anyone else.

    3. danr*

      Don’t try to reply. These folks thrive on the verbal jabs and always have comeback. Ignore them and be polite. You’ll drive them nuts.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      You can move away from these people where possible.

      Or you can autopsy each situation and figure out what you will say the next time you hear it.
      This is helpful when it is a boss or someone who you cannot move away from. Develop a plan that you will actually follow. This stuff isn’t in us at birth, although it should be. We have to find paths for dealing.

      When people try to bring me down I have said something like:
      “Oh, you are just trying to cheer me up aren’t you?”
      “Cheer down will ya? I can’t take so much happiness in one place.”

      Verbal jabs:
      “OUCH! I wouldn’t slam an outhouse door that hard!”
      “Hey! I what did I do to you?”

      One thing I will say,if you must keep these people in your life, pick your battles. Not every jab/slight/put down can be a battle. And this is for your own sanity. They will probably never change what they are doing and probably do not even realize they could do something different. Pick the problem areas that are over the top for you. You can, optionally, limit the amount of personal information you let out. For example if money/budgeting is a hot button for you at the moment, then skip that particular topic with them.

    5. Clever Name*

      I have a coworker who likes to make nasty comments. I pretty much just ignore them and don’t even respond. If she’s really going off, I’ll cheerfully say, “welp, gotta go finish my report. Bye!” It helps knowing that I have way more stature at my company than she does and that others see her as a nasty person.

    6. Misc*

      This is very context sensitive, so it will depend, but sometimes, just mentioning that the stuff they’re saying is hurtful (usually in a ‘that specific thing was mean’ to start with way) is a good way to test the waters – ignoring/shunning them may end up being the only option, but it’s a lot of emotional energy. You know your jabbers best, but I wanted to throw this option into the mix, as the They Mean Ill end has already been covered ;D

      Sometimes people get stuck into ‘easy’ responses, the kind of humour that makes fun of people (fine in small doses, not fine with the wrong topic or too often or wrong tone of voice or wrong person), or just a different dial for what sounds ‘nice’ to the person they’re talking to. So if it’s just a way of talking/misjudgement, they’ll want to correct it. (…for example, I’ll make fun of people a lot, but I actively try and avoid topics they’re actually sensitive about. But sometimes I stumble into the wrong thing – but I only know that by their reactions. If my jokes fall flat and upset someone, I’m going to drastically cut back and feel terrible – but if they never indicate that it hurts and laugh along to smooth things out, I’ll just keep going because Hey It Worked My Social Bonding Is Awesome).

      Or … well, my sister seems to have a different dial for ‘criticism’, and thinks I’m horribly negative about everything, including her, when I’m actually really not, and will be very careful to avoid triggering hurt feelings. Her dial is just set to ‘relentlessly positive comments only’, so neutral reads as cruel, hurtful criticism. She…uh, doesn’t hold herself to the same standard because she knows HER comments are Neutral And Accurate and she is Always Nice so a far bit of tongue biting goes on there. But she is genuinely upset by things I might say).

      If not, time to nuke the relationship and return all that awkwardness ;D

  10. Denial ain't just a river in Egypt*

    I am absolutely amazed at how many “issues” that I thought were DONE and safely under the bridge come out now that I’m a parent.

    Case in point: my toddler got invited to her first birthday party this weekend. My spouse forgot to RSVP, sent a note yesterday saying “we’re sorry for forgetting to RSVP but she’d love to come”, and got a very nicely-worded NO back.

    …which left me in tears, convinced that my child will be forever rejected and never invited to another birthday party EVER AGAIN.

    Rational part of me says this is insane. She’s a toddler. She won’t remember this. There will be many more birthday parties. I didn’t even WANT to go to this one because the timing wasn’t great.

    And yet, it’s viscerally like I’m back in elementary school again, the one kid without an invitation.

    1. nep*

      Wow — who says no in a case like that? I get that there might have been some structured part of the event that required a count but JEEZ. Am I missing something?

      1. Honeybee*

        My cousin has two children, and I’ve watched her organize birthday parties for them over the years. Often the birthday party at a location outside her home has involved her paying per child and putting in a deposit or a full payment ahead of time based on the head count. That’s why she asks for people to RSVP. If a person responds too late, she may not be able to add a head to the count at the location or it may be outside of her budget to do so since she’d already budgeted for X kids.

    2. Samantha*

      They said no because you missed the RSVP deadline? Wow. Thankfully your daughter is too young to feel the sting of rejection but it sucks to feel it as a parent on your child’s behalf.

      1. chickabiddy*

        I am very sorry that you are hurting, and I agree that parenting brings back childhood slights that you thought you had tucked away. I wish that the birthday parents had found a way to include you and your child, but it seems as if parties these days are highly structured and it’s likely that they had made reservations or bought party kits or had plans that required knowing the numbers in advance. I am sure that you and your child are not being blacklisted and there will be plenty of parties in your future.

    3. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      Gosh, that’s a pretty harsh response on their part. I get if there was a head count situation but it wouldn’t kill them to say so politely.

      If it helps at all, as a parent with a kid a little older, I understand the feeling but honestly I take as a signal that we don’t want to waste time socializing closely with people who are so lacking in manners. There will be so many other parties that your daughter will remember. And this could be an opportunity to teach her not to take the rejection of others to heart, and how to bounce back.

      My own child sometimes goes overboard with giving hugs and gets pushed away. We explain to zir that not everyone wants a hug when ze wants to give them so ze has to respect and match the lower level of enthusiasm between the two parties. So rather than getting hurt feelings ze sort of goes: “oh ok. No hug for you then. Moving on.” Our kiddos will have to learn to take some kind of rejection in their lives and it will be just as hard on us to see as it is for them to feel but I find it’s important for me to remember that they’re not us all over again. The hurts that we experienced won’t necessarily be theirs. Things that would have bothered me as a child don’t necessarily bother zir. And that can be a good thing.

      1. TL -*

        It’s quite possible they couldn’t have another child (they’re paying for something that charges by head count, for example.) They politely said no, that’s good enough.

      2. Miss McG*

        How on earth are these people lacking in manners? They invited Denial’s kid, they asked for RSVPs, they didn’t get one for this kid, and then they politely said no when Denial’s partner asked if their kid could come anyway at extremely short notice. If anyone lacked manners here it wasn’t them!

        1. anoncmntr*

          Right? I don’t understand Revanche’s comment!

          It really stinks to be told no, but that’s the whole point of RSVPs. I have done the miserable thing where I hunt down people to find out if they’re coming to a party or not, and especially when you throw a party in honor of someone else (e.g., your kid or a friend), talking to folks you don’t really know about whether they can come to the party is not fun.

        2. Denial ain't just a river in Egypt*

          They were actually VERY polite about it. I kind of wanted to steal their language for future use, except I doubt it would come in handy- I’m the type of person who cooks for 12 when I’ve invited 8 “just in case”.

        3. OlympiasEpiriot*

          Yeah, a nicely-worded “no” is fine. Polite. Courteous.

          I gave up on expecting RSVPs years ago, but, I’m the kind of person who is always open (to the point of nearly a flaw) to unexpected visitors. I grew up in an insanely rigid environment when it came to visitors over (for any reason, even just to drop something off) or even me going to visit someone else. It was over-the-top even for inveterate planners, like the kind of people who plan their guest list based on who can sit next to each other. So, I overcompensate. Too far for some people in my life.

          That said, I am ALL IN FAVOR of following the RSVP rules and I do my very best to do that for others. I let them know if I plan on coming, or if I can’t (and I always tell them I’d love to, even if I don’t). Most people need to plan.

          Sheesh. Just stay on top of the RSVPs. And don’t take this so hard.

        4. AcademiaNut*

          And it’s incredibly frustrating to plan a party, particularly one where you need a head count for supplies or tickets, clearly state an RSVP date, and have the date pass with complete silence from most of the invitees, most of whom won’t show up, but some of whom will respond at the last minute. Not to mention the people who RSVP for more than were invited, wanting to add extra kids or adults.

          If I were to guess, I suspect that the hosts of this party have an older child or two, reached their limit with non-RSVPs and other invitation shenanigans, and, unlike most people, have figured out how to politely enforce those limits, rather than simply sighing and resigning themselves to overbuying tickets, craft supplies and goody bags for the latecomers and extra people.

    4. Renfield*

      Oh, gosh, I remember that feeling and it hurts like hell. I was eight and this girl invited everyone in our friend group except me. I understood; there was some kind of limit on the number of people she could invite, and she promised to invite me next year, but she talked about it constantly and how awesome it was going to be. I think she just didn’t know any better; we were eight. The next year, she didn’t invite me again, but offered to send me an invitation card so I’d feel like I was. Again, she meant well, but I pretty much lost all faith in humanity for the next decade or so.

      But yeah, your munchkin has plenty of time to grow and develop a thriving social life, and you sound like a very loving parent who’ll help her with that.

      1. Stellaaaaa*

        When you’re VERY young these things are usually partly about the parents. When I was in second grade there were two girls from the class that I didn’t invite to my birthday party. One was flat-out mean already at 8. The other one…I knew her up through high school and there were definitely issues. My parents didn’t want her in our home and I didn’t like her anyway. She told our teacher that I hadn’t invited her and my teacher yelled at me in front of the whole class for excluding this obnoxious girl.

        This isn’t to say that this is the case for anyone here, let alone the toddler in the original comment. But I think there’s value in recognizing at a young age that you can’t force other people to be friends with you. There’s also something to be said for a mode of parenting that doesn’t make kids think it’s ok to tattle on classmates about it.

        1. matcha123*

          I think it’s a parent thing, too. (In general.) In this case, I guess the parents wanted a headcount by a certain date and were not open to letting more people in after. That sounds reasonable to me.
          When I was a kid, I didn’t get invited to a lot of friends’ birthdays. Either their parents didn’t like my parent, or they really didn’t like me as a friend. And yeah, it sucks.

    5. Christy*

      I say this with compassion and as a person who has also been the friendless kid–have you considered therapy? It seems to me that your reaction is really outsized–the crying, the spiraling. I’ve been there! Therapy really helped me work on stuff like this. It particularly helped me get my irrational side/freaking out self to listen to my rational brain.

      1. Tex*

        I second this in the most supportive way possible. Your child is going to go through the normal ups and downs of childhood and adolescence. If you feel so wounded now over a birthday party she won’t remember, are you going to be the helicopter parent who takes offense at their child not getting less than an A at college or being rejected for the job they applied to. We have had plenty of those letters on this blog. It’s great that you are self-aware enough to recognize the problem is rooted in your childhood, that’s more than half the battle right there.

      2. Denial ain't just a river in Egypt*

        Honestly, I had no idea that this would be my reaction- I agree it’s totally outsized!

        I wondered if it was just me (because WOW THAT’S A LOT OF EMOTIONS) but reaching out to my mom friends privately, it seems like parenthood brings out all sorts of long-repressed memories…

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Am chuckling. You don’t have to have kids to have these over-sized reactions. I can almost guarantee you would have had the reaction at some point anyway even if you were childless.

          Sometimes we have to revisit old pain because something triggers that memory. This is okay, it’s normal for the brain to want to resolve old issues. Use the size of the emotional response as a clue to work on something.

          Aging, even five or ten years brings in mountains of new information that we did not have when the original upset occurred. Take what you know about life now, and look back at your upset. Grieve that sadness you felt, then console yourself by filling in the blanks you were not able to fill in at that time. Remind yourself that it is not happening anymore, that upset is over, it’s ended. You are safe and far away from that upset.

          In relationship to your current upset, we don’t get to pick what links together in our minds. Stuff just hooks on to other stuff and tags along for the ride. This is where you remind yourself how your situation was different from your kid’s. And you remind yourself what you want to teach your kid from this experience.

          It is okay to want to resolve old pain and put it to rest permanently. And sometimes we don’t get to pick when we start the process, the process just ignites on its own.

          I hope you smile a bit at any rate: Sometimes I could tell myself that when an old painful memory came up, “it is coming up now because it is SAFE to look at it.”

    6. Shabu Shabu*

      I hope your spouse saw how affected you were by this. Don’t leave them in charge of future RSVPs ;)

      In all seriousness though, I’m sorry this retriggered the “issues”. It just sounds sounds like an unfortunate series of events. Your kid hasn’t been blacklisted. They sent you a polite “no” for whatever reason. It’ll be alright! Cry it out, wipe your tears. Invite all the kids your kid wants to their bday party and remember this moment if someone forgets to RSVP.

      You sound like a very kind person who would show compassion and understanding of the roles were reversed.

      1. TL -*

        I do kids’ birthday parties for a side gig and the difference between 15 kids and 16 is at least $30. The parents aren’t being rude or heartless here.

        1. Shabu Shabu*

          As someone who said no to 4 people when they tried to rsvp a week beforemy wedding, I agree. I know that doesn’t come across in my comment though.
          As someone said above, we don’t know why they said no and those parents have a right to say no even if that hurts someone else’s feelings. Parties can be expensive!

        2. Pearly Girl*

          I seriously do not understand this.

          What if all 16 said YES? Do they drop one kid to bring the count down to 15?

          You invite 16 (hypothetical guests) — you plan to accommodate 16 guests. What difference does it make, if you invited all of them, to accept one just before the party?

          1. Pennalynn Lott*

            Well, that’s the awesome thing about RSVPs. You invite 16 guests. . . 16 guests RSVP to let you know they’ll all be there. . . you can then safely plan for 16 guests. But if you invite 16 and only 15 say Yes, then you plan for 15. And, yup, #16 may be S.O.L., depending on the type of event. That’s the whole point 0f RSVPs.

          2. Ann Furthermore*

            Well, you can always count on there being some kids that can’t come, for whatever reason. Usually, it’s OK, because many places say it will be a flat amount for up to, say, 20 kids. Any more than that, and there’s a per-kid charge. So if you invite 25, you can probably count on about 15 showing up.

            But then there are the places that charge by the kid. So in the world of Murphy’s Law, if you invite 25 or 30 kids, figuring on 20, that will be the one time that everyone responds with a yes, and then you’re in the poor house. We did my daughter’s party at a trampoline place one year that charges by the kid. I had to parse out the invites and start with the kids my daughter saw every day (like the day care kids) and then as I got no’s, I added more. We set a limit of 20 kids. And the parents who got the later invites were very understanding when I explained why they did not get the invites when everyone else did.

            So…it could be that the parents who sent the polite no had reached their limit of kids they could pay for. It adds up in a hurry. And then there’s the cost of pizza, cake, and drinks.

          3. TL -*

            So maybe they invited 15 kids, 13 RSVP’ed by the deadline, and either they invited 2 others to get back up to 15 or said yes to a few sibling requests after the deadline. They’re back up to 15 (which they paid for) and can’t take any more.

            That’s why you ask for RSVPs.

          4. Honeybee*

            Because locations require deposits ahead of time, and they may not have allowed the child’s parents to add an additional child; because when only 15 responded, they may have used the extra $30 to get a more expensive cake or extra balloons instead; because when the invitee didn’t respond by the date, the child’s parents may have included another child they didn’t get to invite the first time around; because they may have decided to spend that extra $30 on something else. Or any number of other reasons.

      2. Liane*

        Seconding Shabu Shabu. Impolite would be Bday Parents not sending an invite and making sure you and your family knew your child wasn’t invited.
        Plus it also goes the other way around. I always sent invites to my kids’ parties and I was lucky if if more than one family RSVP’d and most of the time the answers I did get were “Maybe” or “Don’t know what we’ll be doing.” And that also can make you think your child is Doomed To Permanent Unpopularity. But guess what? My College Kids have friends and invite/get invited to lots of things. Although I know they have dealt with Peers Who Don’t Like Them, we all. do.
        Have a few Zen hugz!

        1. Aealias*

          Liane, bless you. I totally got “my child is doomed to a friend-less existence” from this letter (because that’s how MY jerk brain reacts to similar situations) and I appreciate both your expressing that fear so clearly, and your reassurance and experience to prove that it’s NOT TRUE.

          While the world is full of triggers for painful childhood memories, I think that scenarios like this do hit parents a bit differently. They prey on our individual insecurities AND challenge our vain hope that our children will live charmed lives. We want our kids to do BETTER than we did, and any sign that they might be repeating our unhappiest patterns gets an outsize reaction.

          I absolutely acknowledge that this is ridiculous, unrealistic, and puts an unfair burden on my children. My feelings run that way a lot, actually, and I work on it. But in this particular vein I think my experience is common.

    7. Ellie H.*

      I think it’s extremely rude and and a significant faux pas to reject a late RSVP like that – it’s just not something you DO, in terms of social behavior. I just can’t imagine doing that in this context of a young child birthday. It’s not an international flight.

      1. Ife*

        The last few yeara I have been thrilled to get any RSVPs at all for my kid’s parties. Last year we invited 10 kids. Four parents RSVPed (yes or no), and the rest did not. The best part was the kid who came whose parents didn’t RSVP.

      2. Honeybee*

        It’s not rude. Birthday parties cost money, and some parents reserve places that charge per child. Every additional child is an extra expense – an extra goodie bag, party hat, slice of pizza, whatever it is. We don’t know these parents’ financial situation; it could be that once they didn’t hear back they filled up all the budgeted slots and couldn’t afford to add an additional child, or maybe the deadline for adding additional kids had passed and they were unable to.

        Honestly, if you really want to get down to it, not responding by the deadline and then asking later if you can still come is the etiquette-wise “rude” thing, although I don’t really think that’s rude either. It’s an honest mistake, which all of us have made – I’ve done this, too. But I think it’s up to people to understand that people won’t always make accommodations for our mistakes.

  11. Anon C.*

    I’m the one who posted two months ago about agreeing to pick up my friend at a nearby airport the night before an event we were attending to her change of air travel of needing to get her from a far away airport in the very early hours the morning of the event. (Link here https://www.askamanager.org/2016/08/weekend-free-for-all-august-6-7-2016.html#comment-1166004 ) Thank you everyone who gave me advice, I really appreciate it. If anyone wanted an update, here it is:

    In the end, I decided that I would go along with Megan to retrieve Sarah from the further away airport the morning of the event. Someone I was speaking with gave me the advice that ‘sometimes you have to go along to get along’. So I decided, rather than risk doing something that would make Sarah mad at me the entire weekend that we’d share a tiny hotel, I’d go for it. However, it ended up being a non-issue because Sarah missed her flight! Turns out Sarah hasn’t flown in the 10 years (not since a high school trip where everything was taken care of for her) so she had no idea that she needed to be at the airport really early. She arrived there only 30 minutes before her flight and missed her plane because of the long trek through security. She tried to get a different flight but everything was wait-listed. So Sarah had to buy a very expensive last-minute train ticket (which definitely ate up any savings she made from the cheaper flight at the further-away airport) and spend all day on the train to reach us by 9PM that first evening of the event. I wasn’t around when she arrived so Megan picked her up at the train station 10 minutes from our hotel on her own.

    I felt so bad that she had to spend so much on that train ticket and miss the entire first day of the event, I would have rather gone through the hassle of getting her from the far away airport. I wish she’d mentioned something to us and we could have set her straight with flight protocols. But what’s done is done.

    Also I wanted to make a comment about the people who said I was hung up on getting gas money from Sarah. I do acknowledge that I might have been. My friends and I are pretty good about sharing driving duties when we go out together. The difference here, to me anyway, is that we all trade off driving. One person might drive us to karaoke, another to a festival, another to the movies. Smaller trips like that we don’t count mileage for since we all take turns. But driving over an hour one-way to an airport is a lot bigger request. I went to visit friends in Florida who live an hour away from the airport. I’d already planned to book a taxi but they said they’d come get me. They didn’t ask but I knew they used up a lot of gas so I gave them gas money, plus bought them a meal or two since they let me stay with them. If a friend or a family member was going a significant distance out of their way to retrieve me from the airport, I’d definitely give them gas money.

    Plus, as I said in my original post, Sarah has always looked for free rides. Not because she’s trying to scam her friends out of gas money, I think she just forgets how pricey gas can be. Growing up, she shared a car with her sister, which her sister claimed more often than she did. She didn’t take a car to college, and she doesn’t have a car in the big city she now lives in since she gets around with public transportation. So she hasn’t driven or had to gas up her car for a long time, and as a result, she forgets how expensive gas is and is surprised when people ask her to chip in for rides.

    And that’s not to say she’s not one of my dearest friends. I know some questioned whether I should be friends with someone if I was getting upset over this airport ride but it’s not something I would break a friendship over. I know I’m not a completely perfect friend either, but we’re still the oldest and best of friends, flaws and all.

    Thanks again for everyone’s thoughts, I really do appreciate hearing other voices on the matter.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Thank you for the follow-up. I think I said this before, but it’s really not about the money, it’s about the consideration, treating your time and effort as valuable (because money takes time and effort to earn). I don’t keep track of what I spend on my closest friends or what they spend on me because 1) we’re all fairly secure financially, so I’m not concerned about it being a hardship on them, and 2) we always appreciate the effort and consideration of buying someone dinner, or paying for event tickets, or gifting a really nice bottle of alcohol.

      1. Hellanon*

        Yes, it’s about the generosity of spirit that’s at the heart of true reciprocity – one of the joys of having the friends I do is that we are generous with each other in ways that go far beyond money in and of itself. Money is a useful object for counting, though, and so when real generosity & reciprocity aren’t there, money becomes how people keep track of time and consideration.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      That could also explain why she had no problem asking for the pickup – if she doesn’t fly, and rarely drives, then she might not stop to think what her favour actually involves.

      1. Clever Name*

        That’s what I’m thinking. My father-in-law asked for a ride from the airport when he visits us next, and I really hope we didn’t sound heartless when we asked if he could take the train from the airport to a stop nearer to us. Otherwise, a trip to and from the airport is a four hour commitment.

  12. FD*

    I just want to share something I’m really happy about.

    I’ve been working on exercising more regularly and I’ve been working out every workday since August 1. I’ve found some routines I like, that change up regularly so my muscles can’t get used to it.

    I’m finally starting to notice changes! I haven’t really lost any weight, but I’ve lost a lot of fat and am starting to be able to see the muscle I’ve gained. I’m also noticing that I don’t get out of breath so easily anymore and just have more energy and less stress overall.

    I’m feeling really happy about it because it makes the “Ugh ugh don’t want to do this ugh” feel less powerful.

    1. TheLazyB*

      Yay! Well done. Also thanks for sharing, hopefully thinking about that will help me get motivated…!

      1. FD*

        Thank you!

        Something that helped me was making it easier for inertia to take over. My wife and I share a car, and so I have to drive her to work well before I have to be at work. I also rented a locker so I can store my makeup there, which means I ‘have to’ go to the gym at least to get ready. By the time I get there, it seems like I might as well work out, since I’m already there.

    2. SeekingBetter*

      I’m so happy for you! I can relate to noticing not getting out of breath so easily too. As for my weight, it doesn’t “melt” off of me either, but at least I feel better about myself.

  13. AFT123*

    I had my baby last week! She is my first, and my husband and I are so thrilled. Learning how to be a parent is already very satisfying (and challenging, of course).

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      Congratulations! Enjoy this time with her…it’s really wonderful. When I had my daughter, I was a little freaked out for a few days. I’d been planning and waiting for 9 months, and then she was finally here. Then I was like, “OK, now what the hell am I supposed to do??” But that passed pretty quickly and then it was amazing having that time to bond with her.

  14. Mialoubug*

    I second this book recommendation. Really well done, particularly for a debut book, and I’m a HUGE police procedure novel addict.

    1. Elkay*

      Have you read Elizabeth Haynes? Her Briarstone books are police procedurals and she used to work as a civilian in the police. Her other novels are good too but not so procedural.

  15. The RO-Cat*

    About meditation, specifically mindfulness meditation groups. I’d like to start one dedicated to introduction in meditation (science-based, secular), for the people who are curious enough to try it, but aren’t clear, or just want to see what’s it about. It doesn’t matter if you started the group or simply joined it, if you lead or just practice. How did the group start? How did you gather the first few times? How did you / anyone else spread the word? In other words, how did it come together, finally? Any details are welcome, since for now it’s in the realm of “it would be nice, but I can’t figure it out”.

    1. anoncmntr*

      I’m confused by your comment — are you asking about a group you’re thinking about starting? Or groups people already have started?

      I’m really interested because just this week I made some big mistake at work, in large part because I just wasn’t focusing at all. I was able to correct my mistake but am very disappointed in how my attention span and focus have withered away in the last few years. So I vowed to start meditation! And learn more about mindfulness. But I don’t really know where to begin, or how.

      1. The RO-Cat*

        I’m sorry I was unclear. I want to start a local meditation group (mindfulness meditation, science-based, without the spiritual component, at least for now), but I have no idea about the practicalities: do I e-mail my contact list? do I make up a Facebook event? How do I find out who would be interested in joining? etc

        I personally started meditating after several years of getting myself into light trances (this one I learned at NLP classes I took). I found out Headspace – the free segment – was very useful for me. Maybe some guided intro meditations would help? (there are scores, free, on the interwebs).

    2. RedBlueGreenYellow*

      One of my colleagues started a mindfulness-based stress reduction group at my workplace. We’re reading John Kabot-Zinn’s book on the subject and trying different meditations and activities suggested in the book.

      The topic of doing a mindfulness or meditation class had come up a few times, but hadn’t gained much momentum. So my colleague just announced he’d be doing it via email. Everyone who expressed interest got a calendar invite with a time and location, with a request to get a copy of the Kabot-Zinn book.

  16. esra (also a Canadian)*

    Anyone have any favourite sites for cool jewlery/funky pins/that kind of thing? My SIL and I are working on some jewelry crafts to sell at craft shows next year, and I’m working on the branding. I really like Peculiar Vintage, Valley Cruise Press, that kind of design, and wondered if anyone had any suggestions for their favourites??

    1. Paige Turner*

      Gimme Flair! Also once you find one company like that on Instagram, you can find so many others.

  17. Pug Lover*

    So, we officially put our house on the market last weekend. We are doing it as a “for sale by owner.” Ive taken advantage of free services like Craigslist, Facebook, and Zillow. For those of you who did a FSBO, do you have any advice?

    1. Mt*

      Make sure to be up front to any buyers on what % of commision you are willing to pay their realitor. Or if you are requiring the buyer to pay their own realitor.

      1. Pug Lover*

        I didnt realize that the buyer could be responsible for paying their realtor’s commission – interesting!

        1. Mt*

          If you have a realitor its in the conteact with them what % you give to the realitors and then how your realitor splits it with the buyers realitor. If the buyers dont have a realitor your realitor would keep the entire amount. So contract says you pay 6%, so each realitor gets 3 each, or just the sellers will get 6.

          If you are in a hot market you can refuse to pay the buyers realitor. Save you some money. There is no requirement that you pay unless you have a contract with your realitor for it.

          1. Mt*

            It may linit what buyers you will attract. From what i read some fsbo will do 1.5% to buyers realitor just to attact realitors to show your house

          2. chickabiddy*

            There is no requirement to pay the buyer’s realtor’s fees, but your house is not likely to be shown unless someone pays the fees, and buyers will be very reluctant to pay an extra 3% (which they may not be able to incorporate into the financing).

            I did FSBO, but it was a different situation because I already had an interested buyer willing to pay the full asking price. I still paid a real estate attorney and the title company.

            I say this as gently as possible, but if you are unaware of something as basic as how commissions work, you may want to do some research before continuing the FSBO process. There is quite a bit to be aware of, and if you are not completely on top of things, an unscrupulous buyer’s agent could easily take advantage of you.

            1. Pug Lover*

              No offense taken. Its definitely a learning process. The main reason we are going the FSBO route is because we have only owned the house a year and need to make as much as possible to roll into our next down payment.

    2. Bidding Adieu*

      I was a Realtor for years, and bought/sold 6 times using another Realtor, feeling that statistically I’d get a higher price, sell faster, and not be as stressed. However, there are many more tools available now for FSBOs. I would definitely pay to be on MLS.

      1. LoFlo*

        I just bought four apartment buildings and used the seller’s agent. I got a lawyer to help with the offer and closing documents, the fee was only $1200.

  18. Knitchic*

    Someone mentioned Welcome to Night vale in a comment a few days ago. Which jogged my memory that a friend had made a reference to it and told me to check it out. And now I’m down that rabbit hole (I just finished listening to The Phone Call). It’s so kooky it’s been a great way to break up the blah of the day. Thank you! All hail the glow cloud!

  19. Traveler*

    I’m heading to a week long vacation in Texas really soon. I’ll be in the Houston / San Antonio / Corpus Christi area. The main focus is a weekend at the TX Renaissance Festival but the rest of the week is wide open. Any recommendations of things to do?

    1. Tex*

      The Alamo, King Ranch tour, Salt Lick, Ocho restaurant(kind of empty because it’s attached to Hotel Havana, but gorgeous space and good food), La Gloria restaurant (some people think it’s overrated), Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Rothko Chapel, Menil Collection (Menial Bistro is good too). Camp Comfort was fun for a night but might be out of your way. Skip La Villita in San Antonio and don’t eat by the Riverwalk…overpriced and not good. Maybe grab a Texas Monthly at the bookstore at the airport, they probably have many more ideas.

      1. Stylish Entrepreneur*

        I kind of felt the Alamo was overrated. The outside was pretty but the inside was just… empty? I’m a history nerd, but it didn’t do anything for me. You can also tour Battleship Texas, which was pretty neat.

    2. ginger ale for all*

      When I lived in the Houston area, visiting relatives would ask to be taken to the Johnson Space Center. It’s about halfway between Houston and Galveston. We lived a few blocks away from it so that may have been a factor though.

  20. Renfield*

    This is kinda work related, but mostly it’s TV related. I’ve been re-watching NCIS on Netflix, and it’s making me feel a lot better about my coworkers, because while they can be a little immature, they don’t superglue my fingers to keyboards or snoop through my stuff (at least I hope they don’t) and my supervisors can be a little temperamental but at least they don’t slap me upside the head when they’re annoyed, though I’m sure they wish they could.
    Question for anyone who’s seen the show and works in HR: would Agent DiNozzo’s “teasing” of his female colleagues count as sexual harassment? Also, is slapping someone upside the head for poor work performance considered assault?

    1. TheLazyB*

      I’ve started watching NCIS recently. I really enjoy it but holy crap that workplace is dysfunctional.

      1. Renfield*

        Yeah. I started watching it when I was 14 or 15 so I had no idea that this wasn’t normal workplace behavior. I mean, I was smart enough to know that investigative procedure and forensic science and stuff don’t work that way, but I was kind of worried that I’d have to work with colleagues who acted like third graders and talked about inappropriate stuff at work.

    2. Christy*

      It’s definitely assault to hit someone in the head.

      It’s absolutely unacceptable to hit your coworkers.

      I can sometimes really dislike my coworkers but that doesn’t mean I ever want to hit them. (?!?!)

    3. KAZ2Y5*

      I love NCIS, but I really have to think of them as some disfunctional family that really loves each other. In an alternate universe where all kinds of weird things are acceptable at work. Actually I love all of them except Abby – she is too unbelievable even for my alternate universe!

    4. ..Kat..*

      There was actually an episode where everyone had to attend a meeting with paid speaker about Sexual Harassment. And Tony asked whether slapping people upside the head was bad! The speaker was almost speechless, it was hilarious!

      1. Renfield*

        Which one was this? I vaguely remember it … I remember the guy who worked in autopsy asked if it was okay to touch people if they were dead, and the speaker practically blew a gasket.

  21. EmmiesCatMom*

    Pet owners! Do any of you have pet insurance? I am thinking of getting it for my cat (she’s 8). So far she hasn’t had any health problems (except needing dental work when I first got her), but she is getting older.

    I’ve been rearranging my budget and I’ll be able to afford it, but I was wondering – is it worth getting? Any thoughts (and recommendations) would be appreciated!

    1. caledonia*

      I just got pet insurance this week because my cat had fleas and the medication was expensive but far less so with the insurance, as well as her shots. so for me, the insurance is worth it for those alone.

    2. chickabiddy*

      When we adopted our cats last year, I did a lot of research and it seemed as if Healthy Paws had the best reviews and recommendations. I have both had insurance and not had insurance at different times for previous pets, and perhaps it’s just the way things shook out, but I do now feel that having insurance is important.

    3. Kay*

      I have a dog, cat, and horse and have never had insurance. I’ve always preferred to self-insure by putting money into savings accounts. I’ve spent maybe $20k on the horse over 10 years (sob) but haven’t regretted not getting insurance. There have only been a handful of things that would have qualified anyway.

      I do have a friend who has it for her dogs, makes liberal use of it, and loves it. She has very active hiking dogs, so for her the ability to get x-rays, CT scans, and physical therapy is worth it.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        I had a friend who had it for her dog, after the first emergency vet visit. The dog would eat things he wasn’t supposed to for whatever reason. She also did some research and found out that in his breed, there were certain problems that came along with age. Doggie ate Bad Things a few more times before he got the message that it wound him up at the vet, she saved a lot of money — enough to justify the insurance anyway.

        So I guess the thing is EmmiesCatMom: are you the kind of person who would do *anything* to keep your pet alive? Because if you would get your cat treatment if they developed diabetes (for example), then yes pet insurance is probably a good investment for you.

    4. Claire (Scotland)*

      I got pet insurance as soon as I adopted my cat, and I wouldn’t be without it. I haven’t needed to claim on it, but having it is a huge relief. I wouldn’t be without it.

    5. Charlotte, not NC*

      We had VPI pet insurance for my cat, who ended up developing several health problems. The insurance weaseled their way out of paying every. single. time. There was always an excuse and a fight. We got fed up and dumped them, and just started setting aside a monthly amount for pet care instead.

    6. Adara*

      I’m a veterinary technician at an animal hospital and I think it’s a good idea. Get it now, while your cat doesn’t have any issues, so there aren’t any pre-existing conditions that might not be covered. As cats age, they’re at risk for several conditions that may ultimately be expensive to treat. And as a vet tech, it’s always hard to watch an owner opt to euthanize a pet because treatment is too expensive.

      There are so many different companies and plans our there, so do plenty of research. Some cover routine visits, but not diagnostics or hospitalizations. Other plans cover diagnostics and emergencies, but not preventative care. It really depends on your budget and situation what plan would work best. Personally, I’d choose a plan that covered diagnostics vs one that covered vaccines because bloodwork and x rays can be expensive and add up quickly. Almost all plans out there require that you pay the hospital, file the claim, and then get reimbursed. I haven’t heard of a company or hospital that will process billing third party like it works in human medicine.

      If I didn’t work in the field, I would most definitely have pet insurance. I recommend it to all of our clients.

    7. Misc*

      I chose not to get it because the amount I’d pay each month locally added up to more, on average, than I expected to pay over time with my cats, and I wouldn’t get everything covered, and I have a savings cushion for emergencies. And I’m well aware of the end of life Big Three (hypothyroidism, kidney failure, diabetes) that my cats are likely to get at least one of, so I can plan for that.

      It’s possible that something terrible might happen to one of them before that, but overall, chances are lower than the chance of insurance just not being worth it.

      (Same thing for health insurance, actually. But I live in NZ, and don’t actually need it).

    8. Crystalline*

      I don’t have insurance right now because I can’t afford it, but when I do, I plan on ensuring my Great Dane–there’s just too many things that can go wrong with her adorably obnoxious face. For me I feel like it’ll be worth it because the company I’m looking at (Embrace) will cover common breed issues, whereas some places don’t, because, well “You know your dog might get hip dysplasia and so do we, so, sorry okay bye.”

      Can’t hurt to look into it! Just make sure she doesn’t have any existing conditions they might not cover later on. I.e if she happens to have a heart murmur and later develops heart issues, they might tell you no because she already had a pre-existing condition. Hopefully you never need it, regardless of what you choose to do.

      1. Anonymoose*

        I’ll never do pet insurance again. The more you use it the more they will raise your premiums. This really becomes a factor when your pet is old and requiring lots of vet visits. Additionally you will constantly be battling with the insuracne company to get reimbursed. They will constantly deny your claim and you will spend a lot of time on the phone trying to get it resolved.

        Instead, set aside the money you would pay every month in premiums. We keep that money in an envelope and use it to pay our vet bills. You’ll pay a lot less over the lifetime of your pet and not have the aggravation of fighting the insurance company.

    9. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      We didn’t in the US (they were indoor only) but after a work colleague here in the UK had a major cat medical emergency running into the thousands of pounds, we will be sure to cover them once they arrive. His poor kitty likes to eat thread and managed to wrap thread around its intestine – he took the cat in to the vet thinking it was a tummy virus and the next minute the vet said I will meet you at the vet hospital in 30 minutes for emergency surgery. Swank hospital too – had hydrotherapy pools and the kitty had specific visiting hours and a little paw band and everything.

      His kitties are young – maybe 2 years old – but it just goes to show that its not necessarily age related to get insurance. Cats love to get into all sorts of things so its better to be safe than sorry, especially if they are outdoors.

    10. Honeybee*

      I don’t have pet insurance. I adopted my dog when she was 10 months old, and she’s not quite 3 yet – so she’s younger and healthy. The insurance doesn’t cover routine care – or rather, the additional rider for routine care coverage is expensive and basically the same as paying out of pocket for it. It’d add an additional $18 a month, which is about $220 a year, which is about what I spend at the vet for her annual visit anyway. Routine care is what I spend 100% of my vet money on at this point. I also did some investigating and found out that with some of the major pet insurers there are many exceptions to the policies that would have been the most likely things to happen to my young dog.

      But it might be worth it for potential catastrophic events or an animal that’s getting up there in age. A plan that covers up to $10,000 a year with a $500 deductible and 20% coinsurance is about $20-25, depending on whether you opt for Rx coverage or not.

  22. Windchime*

    Olive is my favorite of all your cats. She’s just so darn photogenic.

    I need a new mattress. I’ve been having some really serious back and hip pain and am seeing a doctor and PT for it, but I think a big part of my problem is my bed. I’m currently sleeping in the guest room because my bed is so uncomfortable. It’s hard as a rock with a dip in the middle. I put a memory foam pad on top of it and that worked for awhile, but now I feel that I’m sinking into quicksand.

    I’m going mattress shopping this afternoon. I dread it. I’ve read the reviews on Tuft and Needle, Casper and Leesa and I just can’t pull the trigger. My current (hard) bed is a “memory foam” that I bought from Costco and it’s really, really firm. So I don’t want to buy another one sight unseen.


    1. Nicole*

      If I could do it all over again I would have tried the ones you mentioned above simply because there’s a 100% money back guarantee. My husband and I looked at mattresses for weeks and kept trying a few we liked multiple times before pulling the trigger. End result – my back still hurts and we regret all the money we spent. I wish we had tried a Casper. At least we could have sent it back if we didn’t like it. Now we’re stuck with a mattress that isn’t comfortable. Mattress shopping is the worst; I really do hope you have better luck than we did!

    2. caledonia*

      My suggestion would be to not buy online, personally. I just bought a new mattress after having had the same one for 9 years and I went in-store and they talked me through all the options and what I felt was best for my comfort (firm, medium, soft, was I a side, back, front sleeper, etc)

    3. BRR*

      I’m also looking. The online ones have 100 night trials and Casper has partnered with west elm to use them as a show room if you’re near one.

    4. Come On Eileen*

      I’ve been hearing good things about Purple and am close to trying one for myself. I love that you can try it at home and they’ll pick it up and refund your money if you aren’t satisfied. They have some fun videos on their site you can watch.

      1. Pennalynn Lott*

        I’ve ordered a Purple pillow through their Kickstarter campaign. If I like it, I might get their mattress. I’ve got a Tempurpedic now, which I like, but it’s their cheapest model and I’m ready to upgrade. So my future will probably be either a higher-end Tempurpedic or the Purple mattress.

        A friend of mine recently bought Westin Hotel’s “Heavenly” bed, and is head-over-heels in love with it. And she used to have a top-of-the-line Tempurpedic.

    5. Sophie*

      I just bought a Leesa and I really like it. The return policy reassured me that it was worth the risk. Plus I appreciated not having to buy a box spring.

    6. Charlotte, not NC*

      I looked into Casper, but reviews say it sleeps very hot. People say they are waking up drenched in sweat. I’m thinking about trying Purple specifically for the cooling factor.

    7. Lauren*

      Have you heard of the blog, OldBedGuy (http://www.oldbedguy.com/)? He is a now-retired guy who worked in the industry for many decades, and he provides a sound education on beds and has recommendations if you write to him. On his recommendation I bought a bed from Charles P. Rogers of New Jersy (and I love it) but I hope to be able to afford the California manufacturer, McRoskey Mattress Company. Even if you buy elsewhere, reading all his archives can give you a lot of information that will guide you well.

    8. Clever Name*

      I got a doctors choice mattress from denver mattress. It’s just a regular mattress, no pillow top. I put a memory foam topper on it and it’s heavenly. It was fairly inexpensive.

    9. BackintheSunshine*

      I bought a new mattress last year and went with the top of the line Temper Pedic on an adjustable frame. I really like the memory foam/coil combination. It can be difficult to move easily (rollover, etc.) on a memory foam mattress. The addition of coils makes it easier to move. I also absolutely love the Leggett/Plett adjustable frame.

      Happy Searching!

    10. Michael in Boston*

      I bought a Tuft and Needle queen size mattress in 2014. At first I was very happy with it. The price was great, the ability to have it delivered to my apartment was perfect for my needs. The foam was firm enough and comfortable for my back. However, maybe a year and a half into owning, I was waking up with more discomfort than before. The mattress is no longer firm and I sink deeply into it.

      So I would just caution that: it might be comfortable initially and it may hold up past the trial period/return period, but I do not know in the longer term how these mattresses will last. If I could do it over, I would buy a more traditional mattress from somewhere like Sleepy’s or Jordan’s. I think the price would have been about the same (maybe $100 or so more for the traditional mattress) and it would be less convenient to get the mattress moved up into my apartment, but I would have no doubt that I was getting 5-10 years’ use, not 1-3 years.

    11. Honeybee*

      I bought a mattress online one time (through Macy’s) and it was the second-most comfortable mattress I’ve ever owned, after the current one I have. It was a Serta.

      I have a personal preference for Serta; my current mattress is also a Serta. I got it from my furniture store when ordering furniture as I got a discount on it because I bought the bedroom set at the same time. It had a 120-day return policy for any reason, no questions asked. So I felt less terrible about pulling the trigger because I knew I could return it.

      Even then, I still went in person to lay on it and see how I liked it. I’m glad I did, because I thought I liked one kind of mattress when it turned out I liked a different kind, and also within plush mattresses there are different firmness levels.

  23. Windchime*

    I’m starting a new job in about a week. Yay! I’ll post more about that in an appropriate thread. But part of my new routine will be getting up early. Like super, duper early (for me). Normally I get up around 6:30 to 6:45, sit around for awhile drinking tea and waking up. I eventually shower and drive in to work, arriving around 9 or 9:15.

    My new routine demands that I be at the bus stop by 5:45 AM. That means I have to get up at 5 at the latest. The bus is an Express bus that only stops at a couple of park-and-rides and goes directly downtown after that. My plan is to change my morning routine and do my tea-drinking and reading on the bus, but still — 5:00 AM!! Maybe it won’t be so bad if I can shower at night and have everything packed up and ready to go.

    The job itself is going to be great; great team, great organization, and finally a chance to work in the Big City like I’ve always wanted. But the commute is not something I’m looking forward to. How can I become a morning person!??

    1. Mike C.*

      I had to go through this eng gen I started my current job. I think the biggest thing is to stick to a proper bedtime and have as much done the night before as possible. It’s going to take a while to transition, so don’t be afraid to hit the caffeine a little harder than you usually do.

      1. Emilia Bedelia*

        That said, be careful about caffeine in the afternoon/evening if you’re trying to get on an earlier schedule- when I was trying to start going to bed earlier but couldn’t fall asleep, I made the stunning realization that hey, maybe drinking stimulating beverages until the evening was not helping! Now I switch to decaf everything at noon and it helped a lot

    2. Myrin*

      I spent a year having to get up at 5 am three days a week and while it was a bit of a challenge in the beginning, I very quickly got used to it and started to only get up a little later on the days I didn’t need to be up quite as early. That said, I’m already a morning person and my “normal”, “biological” time to get up is sometime around 6, so while it was still really early it wasn’t super extreme or anything, so YMMV if you’re more of a night owl.

    3. BRR*

      I have to be up early and a lot of people sleep on the train. I also shower at night and have everything ready to go the night before. After a year though I’m still having a tough time adjusting.

    4. Beem*

      Two different ways of going about this:

      1. IT’S MORNING TIME! Alarm blares, turn on music, turn on all the lights, open a window, drink a cold glad of water, force yourself to sing and dance and smile. Possibly disruptive to others.

      2. Soft Awakening: sunrise alarm clock, stretch, food and water.

      Also, I highly recommend reading about sleep hygiene. Get really strict with your sleep hygiene during the transition. Good luck!

    5. Rob Lowe can't read*

      I’m in Year 3 of 5 AM wake ups. It is still tough, I’m not going to lie. Having my clothes laid out, lunch ready to grab and go, and work bag packed up the night before is non-negotiable. I always shower in the morning (personal preference), but that’ll save you time if you can do it at night. Depending on what your job entails and what you like to eat for breakfast, you might think about taking breakfast to go as well, either to eat on your commute or when you get in. I drive to work now, so I have a bit more flexibility, but when I used public transit (and therefore had to be on the train at a certain time), I would pack my breakfast along with my lunch and eat when I got to work (which was always about 20 minutes before my workday actually started).

      No tips on “becoming” a morning person, though. I consider myself one, but 5 AM is just so early. (But I do love how fast traffic moves before 6 AM. I got to come in late a few days at the end of the summer and my commute was twice as long as normal, so I guess I’ll stick to these ugly-early mornings.)

    6. Cristina in England*

      In order to adjust I would recommend letting yourself go to bed ridiculously early, like 9pm. That may sound crazy or impossible or antisocial but you’ll have the best chance of getting used to it if you are getting enough sleep.

      1. Florida*

        I would modify this to say MAKING yourself go to bed at 9:00, even if you aren’t tired. Years ago, I had a job that required me to leave the house at 6:00 and I had to be on my game speaking in front of an audience by 7:00am. I went to bed at 9:00 every night.

        Go to bed at 9:00 (if 10:00 gives you the sleep you need, that’s fine) even if you aren’t tired. Do the same on the weekends until you get comfortable with the schedule. You will never become a morning person if you do it five days a week, then stay up to 2am the other two nights. Make yourself go to bed early and wake-up early every day (even weekends) until you find the best time to go to bed. No naps.

        Whenever you want to make a major change in your life, you have to be merciless in your efforts. Change is hard and requires a lot of discipline. (This is true of more than just adjusting your sleep time.)

        Good luck. It’s getting close to 9:00. Start getting ready for bed. ;)

        1. Misc*

          On the other hand, if making yourself goes to bed just leads to staring at the ceiling… don’t. You’ll just train your brain to be insomniac.

          My method is just to write off the first day or two to sleep deprivation to reset my clock a bit/let me pass out at the correct time.

          OTOH I am massively melatonin deficient due to fructose intolerance and don’t really have a light/dark sleep response (melatonin supplements are magic :D )

          1. Florida*

            The important part is to make yourself get up at 5:00, and don’t allow yourself to nap during the day. Then you will want to go to bed at the right time. Sure, any of us can get up super early one day, push through, and it won’t have a huge effect on our over sleep pattern, but if you do it day after day (which you have to in a job), then you will eventually get where you need to go to bed at 9:00 (or whatever is appropriate for you).

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I am usually up at 5-5:30 each day. It took me years to get to this space. What kicked me over was getting up at the same time seven days a week. If I had two days where I could sleep in, I did not stand a snowball’s chance of succeeding. I do take naps and I don’t stay up as late as I used to. This meant missing tv, until I figured out I wasn’t really missing it.

      1. Florida*

        If you cover your TV with a black sheet, in two weeks, you will wonder why you ever had it. (Disclaimer: this is coming from someone who does not own a TV.)

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I think I have had the tv on once in the last ten years. The set itself is over 25 years old. I’d rather look at stuff online- that is my “new” tv.

    8. Hypnotist Collector*

      If you’re not naturally an early riser it can be brutal. I’m in year 3 of a 90-minute commute and have to get up ridiculously early. It’s especially hard in the winter and it doesn’t matter what time I go to bed.
      Helpful: a dawn-simulating alarm clock that gradually brightens the room.
      Also helpful: Stick to a routine as much as you can.
      I don’t have coffee and breakfast until I get to work; it provides a little incentive and I never have to worry that in my sleepy state I left any kitchen appliances on.

    9. Elizabeth West*

      I used to live on a farm with a guy and we both worked an hour away from where we lived. He drove; I slept, haha. Which I stopped doing after the morning I was dozing in the passenger seat and missed a mother bear and her cubs cross the road! He yelled at me to wake up, but I didn’t sit up fast enough. :(

      But I still had to get up at freaking 4 am because we had to be at work by 7. Some things that helped:

      –We went to bed fairly early.
      –We got stuff ready the night before, including putting out my travel coffee cup with (instant) coffee and creamer/sugar already in it. Now I have a coffee machine with a timer, heh heh.
      –We showered/bathed the night before. All we had to do was get up and throw our clothes on, freshen up a bit, and go.

      We ate at work in the cafeteria (I worked in it, and he worked in the factory it was in) so we didn’t have to pack lunches. If you have a cube at work and you can keep stuff like soup, crackers, nut butter, etc. in it, that will help on mornings when you are too rushed to pack anything or didn’t get round to it the night before.

      I did get used to it after a while. So it’s not so bad, just for the first few weeks. Congrats on the new awesome job!

    10. Cat steal keyboard*

      I have gone from being a night owl to getting up at 5/5.30 for a 2-hour commute (moving isn’t an option as we are settled with an amazing support network and living closer to work would be more expensive and I really just don’t want to).

      I was dreading it. But it’s actually been fine. The really key things that helped: getting into a good routine and getting into the habit of eating earlier in the day.

  24. silvertech*

    I know there are a lot of cat owners here: please, get your cat(s) screened for kidney disease! I have a cat, and while I don’t know her exact age, she’s not very old, probably 5-6 years old. Since I’m moving abroad, I asked her vet to do a comprehensive check-up and a blood test to see if everything was ok before leaving.

    It wasn’t!

    Kitty’s blood test shows early signs of chronic kidney failure, and since she’s not showing any symptoms yet, this means we caught this on time and we can manage and slow down the disease with an appropriate diet and medication. I think I just bought my cat a few more years of life.

    So please, consider this my official plea to get your cats tested. Kidney disease is tricky to detect just by looking for symptoms, and by the time cats are obviously ill, the disease is at an advanced stage and there’s pretty much nothing that can be done.

    1. FiveWheels*

      Very common in cats – and the first symptoms are generally very non specific, just the cat being a bit off colour or behaving a bit better. The current medication is much better than what was available 20 years ago – my first kidney cat had no treatment other than special diet. Good luck!

    2. Charlotte, not NC*

      We did not find out in time, unfortunately. By the time my cat showed signs, her kidneys were operating below 10% functionality. Here are a few things I learned from my research:

      Anything you can do to get them to drink more is good. A motorized fountain, flavored drops for the water, anything.

      Preliminary resarch suggests that poultry is hard on cats’ kidneys (due to the tons of antibiotics and chemicals we pump into the birds) and fish is also hard on their kidneys (due to mercury). We have switched to rabbit-based food. Venison-based would also be good.

    3. Misc*

      My previous cat had kidney failure (after hypothyroidism and accidental antifreeze poisoning, both of which would have hammered her kidneys), and the thing that helped the most was a supplement called Epakitin, which is a phosphorus binder – I bought some in bulk online, as the local vet prices were ridiculous, and it made an enormous difference. She actually started eating again, and stopped peeing constantly. I could always tell if I’d forgotten to give it to her, or she hadn’t eaten enough of her food (I just took the lid off and let her eat as much as she liked), because the peeing would start up again!

      Plenty of water and switching to a raw meat diet (if possible, we have a good local brand in the supermarket) also helped a lot.

      Between that and her regular cortisone injections for arthritis (I think it was cortisone…, the glucosamine supplements didn’t do much) she actually had a decent quality of life and it gave her another year.

      1. Misc*

        She made it to 16 years, incidentally, and passed away… almost exactly two years ago. And I had to take my other cat back to the vet where she was euthanised last week for the first time.

    4. Hi.*

      Good advice. My cat died at age 7 very suddenly – he was gone within 48 hours of the first sign of distress. It was extremely traumatic, I don’t want to get graphic but it was absolutely terrible. He had kidney failure that was never diagnosed because they generally don’t check cats under age 10-12. The vet brought me a lot of comfort by saying that he most likely was born with a serious kidney problem and he wasn’t meant to be long for this world, and that we were just meant to love each other for the 7 years we had together. And that it’s rare in young cats so it wasn’t anything anyone could’ve predicted. But if you screen early, you can avoid what we went through.

    5. Bad Candidate*

      Agreed. I lost my cat this summer to CKD but I’m sure that he lived a few extra years due to early detection.

    1. Stellaaaaa*

      It’s better than I thought but not as smart as it wants to be. I personally don’t think it’s deep or clever to have the audience recognizing the robots’ sentience before their creators do.

      1. Mike C.*

        You know, I’m not sure if they’re fully sentient yet. There’s something there, but I’m not certain how much.

    2. Oryx*

      Yes. I’m slightly obsessed, going down the rabbit hole of theories. It feels like LOST all over again.

    3. Jillociraptor*

      Yes! We’re liking it a lot. It reminds me of Dollhouse, the Joss Whedon show, but a little more sophisticated. I’m really intrigued and hope it stays interesting rather than turning into LOST :)

    4. Michael in Boston*

      I am watching and so far I like the show. I am worried, though, that there might not be enough material in the original movie to create an entire series. Maybe there is enough for a miniseries or one season, but I am worried about investing too much in what might quickly become thin and boring. The second episode, compared to the excellent pilot, seemed this way.

      The acting is excellent so far; I’m looking forward to seeing more of Hopkins in the next episodes.

  25. Beem*

    Going to a Halloween party and the theme is Book Titles.

    My boyfriend and I (both 20s, I’m female) are having trouble coming up with costume ideas that are easy to understand. The host couple is going as Interview With A Vampire!

    Got any ideas?

        1. Stellaaaaa*

          Haha. you could have lot of fun with Narnia.

          Though I suspect we’re all lit nerds who are overthinking this and everyone’s just going to be dressed up as Harry Potter or Game of Thrones people.

    1. EmmaLou*

      Go dressed as two chess rooks and be The Two Towers.
      Go dressed as cheese and move around a lot.
      Put in one pearl earring…
      Write the poem “What are Little Girls Made of” on a shirt but leave out the word Girl. “Girl .. gone.”
      Oh the fun to be had!

    2. Torrance*

      The Old Man & the Sea has been done before, but you could always genderswap it– you could go as Santiago, the ‘old man’, & your boyfriend could be a marlin/shark/something symbolic of the sea.

    3. Sparkly Librarian*

      Last year I pinned a bunch of paint chips (free at a hardware store) to a suit and went as “50 Shades of Grey”. :)

    4. Lily Evans*

      You could play it super easy and go with a Harry Potter book. One of you would be Harry and the other would be the other half of whichever book you choose (Snape or Sirius would be easy, but transforming into one of the objects would probably be cooler. Like spiky blue hair+gray clothes with name slips pinned on=goblet of fire).

    5. Snazzy Hat*

      Dress like punks and stay outside the entire time.
      Dress in rain gear and bring marmalade sandwiches.
      Dress like a Puritan and randomly accuse people of being witches. (Do plays count?)
      At every opportunity, ask people if Godot has arrived yet. Act bewildered and mention the current time whenever someone says no or they aren’t sure.

      1. SophieChotek*

        Yep I was thinking along those lines –

        Jane Eyre/Mr. Rochester
        Alice in Wonderland and the White Rabbit/Mad Hatter (some other character)
        Harry Potter and Hermoine/Ginny Weasley/another other character combo
        Game of Thrones characters?
        Phantom & Christine

        1. TL -*

          My roommate and I brainstormed this last night.
          You could go dressed in a rainbow flag, your bf as Trump, and be Pride and Prejudice (just a joke, not political commentary!); one as a puzzle piece and one as Ares for War and Peace. Scarlett O’Hara and the Fonz for The Scarlet A.
          I’ll let myself out now.

    6. ginger ale for all*

      You could both go as a generic romance novel cover couple. Think Fabio and flowy hair and a nightgownish dress that might show your shoulders. Or maybe a western romance cover couple . . . Or swashbuckling pirate couple . . .

    7. Rahera*

      I apologise in advance for this one, but I woke up (seriously) thinking one of you could wear a hat shaped like an olive or with an olive attached to it, and one a hat with a lemon slice on it. Olive, a twist!
      (Thank you, I’m here all week.)

    8. Garland Not Andrews*

      How about one dressed as a pocket watch with gears showing and the other as an orange or just in the color orange? A Clockwork Orange

  26. Episkey*

    I just had sinus surgery on Wednesday and I’m laid up at home for the next 5-6 days. Feeling better than the day I had surgery, but this has been no picnic lol. I’m looking for some Netflix recs since I can’t do much of anything except sleep and lay on the couch. My mom had to come and stay with me for 2 days, I can’t even feed my dogs. :/ Here are some things I’ve already watched: OITNB, Twin Peaks (yep that was a trip), Stranger Things, Narcos, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage…I was thinking of going through Gilmore Girls & The X-Files, neither of which I’ve watched before. I also asked my FB crew and got some ideas. What have you loved?

    1. Beem*

      Criminal Minds is excellent. It’s pretty dark and one of the season 5 episodes made me cry and stop watching but I highly recommend.

    2. Stylish Entrepreneur*

      I’m a sucker for Blue Bloods & NCIS/Law & Order. Hope you feel better soon! I have almost constant sinus infections, but am far too much of a chicken to get the surgery!

      1. Episkey*

        Well, we will see how well it works. The first day was definitely the worst. It hasn’t been awesome, but it hasn’t been absolutely horrible after the first day. It does help to have someone with you the first few days just to help you get stuff to eat and make sure you are OK. My husband was the unlucky soul who got me the day of surgery but then he had to go back to work the next day. That first day I even needed help walking and the bleeding was pretty heavy.

    3. silvertech*

      OZ! It’s very explicit, though, with lots of sex and violence. Still, it’s probably the most brillant tv series I’ve ever seen. Fantastic and well-rounded characters, well-developed, engaging storytelling… I highly recommend it.

    4. all aboard the anon train*

      Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries!

      It’s an absolute gem and one of the most pleasant surprises I’ve found on Netflix. It’s about an Australian private detective in the 1920s who is amazing and wonderful and the type of female character I adore seeing on TV. It has a lot of female friendships and the way the supporting characters grow throughout each of the three seasons is delightful. It’s definitely a found family and murder-of-the-week with an over arching plot type of show, but everything about it is wonderful. It’s witty and well-acted and the costumes and scenery are excellent.

      1. Misc*

        Seconding this!

        Also for procedural stuff with awesome female leads, see the early seasons of Castle, the (just started) Conviction starring Hayley Atwell (who cares about plot right?) and Elementary. Supergirl is also pretty neat and far more watchable than the mindnumbingly vacant Flash or the grimdark Arrow (…I got so bored watching them. Sooooo bored). Galavant is ridiculous and has singing, Agent Carter is pretty good, Firefly is Firefly, and Steven Universe will complement any drugs you’re on beautifully (first few episodes are a bit random, but it settles into a proper story). Brooklyn Nine Nine is dumb but entertaining…

        Oooh, Wynnona Earp (Wild West and zombies, very Buffy-ish, only more adult) and Person of Interest (‘save the day’ procedural only actually SMART) were both fantastic.

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      North & South
      The Killing
      Master of None
      Justice League Unlimited
      The Paradise
      Crazy Ex Girlfriend
      House of Cards

    6. LCL*

      Not answering your question, providing unasked for advice instead. The first time I ventured outside for a long walk after I had that surgery, I had serious vertigo. The first time I drove I got motion sickness, which I never get in cars. Be prepared and ready to pull over/sit down.

      1. Episkey*

        Good advice. My mom drove me to my doctor’s office yesterday because they wanted to change my pain med Rx and we had to go pick up the paper Rx. I didn’t get motion sickness, but I wasn’t driving either. So we’ll see. I am staying home from work until at least Wednesday/Thursday…but then I have to go back on Thursday to get the splints taken out of my nose which I’m not looking forward to either…

    7. Jillociraptor*

      Hope you’re on the mend very soon!

      When I’m not feeling well, I love police procedurals. If I fall asleep halfway through, it doesn’t matter because the plot rarely progresses. Bones and White Collar are great go-tos: funny, at least mildly interesting characters, but pretty predictable and surface-level.

    8. brightstar*

      When I was recovering from surgery this summer, I binge mawatched “Fixer Upper”. I love it, but man, “shiplap” should be a drinking game waching that show.

    9. Theguvnah*

      Gilmore girls and X files are both must-sees in my personal television universe, but they are soooo different. Gilmore is fun and light especially the first couple seasons. And with the miniseries coming up in November now is a good time.

      X files is amazing but not every episode holds up. You might want Gilmore in the day and X files at night :)

      Is Veronica Mars still on Netflix? That’s my rec if so.

      Hope you heal soon!

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        I was thinking of Veronica Mars — I bought the DVDs after my lasik and just spent the weekend lying on the couch watching/listening to the show.

        Twin Peaks is a trip, I remember watching that on TV when it first came out. Bizarre.

        If you’re into police procedurals, there’s always The Closer (thank yew!) which veers from some pretty serious stuff to goofy episodes. I’ve also been watching Major Crimes, the spin-off/continuation, just got the DVD set from the library.

        And, of course, there’s always The Wire.

        1. The Unkind Raven*

          Veronica Mars is EXCELLENT. Weapons of Class Destruction is one of my favorite episodes of TV of Salk time!

      2. Cass*

        Veronica Mars!!! I think it’s on Amazon Prime. I still have my dusty DVD collection that I bought when it was still on the air. Fantastic show (and the movie was good too!)

    10. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      The Wire. Give the first three or four episodes a chance but damn if that show doesn’t suck you in and make you think. Its a beautiful piece of television, a rare show that you get lost in to the point where you think some of those characters are still on the street (and, in effect, they rather are). Also, Luther can be very digestible as its only a few eps per season (and Idris Elba! Although best watch Luther before The Wire because otherwise you will be wondering why Stringer Bell is on the OTHER side of the line).

      Im also currently laid up too with a back/foot problem and tried to start The Americans last night and Im rather undecided on it. Something about Kerri Russell’s face is not doing it for me.

      Oh! American Crime Story – The People vs OJ Simpson was really good – I watched that last week. If you like gory/horror stuff then American Horror Story is great fun, especially the first season (Murder House) and the second season (Insane Asylum). They get kinda camp after that but still fun with excellent acting by some big name actors (Jessica Lange, Joseph Fiennes, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, etc)

    11. Dot Warner*

      I really loved Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and Better Call Saul. I also just started on House of Cards and it’s excellent. If you’re a mystery person, check out Foyle’s War or Sherlock.

    12. Fenchurch*

      Chuck! It’s only available through November 1 so it’s prime for a quick watch-through. Only 5 seasons, but it’s a fantastic show.

      1. Random reader*

        YES to Chuck! Hilarious! If you have ever been in a BestBuy store or used the Geek Squad services, you will howl with laughter. Very funny–our teenage boys found this on Netflix, then the parents got hooked.

  27. New Bee*

    Adding Alison’s book rec to my list! What else are people reading? I just finished Freeman, about a man who starts walking from Philadelphia to Mississippi to find his wife at the end of the Civil War. It was a little slow at the beginning, but once the other stories started to intersect (his wife is still with her master who refuses to believe the war’s over; two women, one white, one Black, head to Mississippi to open a freedmen’s school), I couldn’t put it down.

    I’m about to start Pushout: The a Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools next.

    1. Lily Evans*

      I just read Tana French’s new book, The Trespasser, and I really enjoyed it! I’d recommend any of her books if you like mysteries, especially ones that are heavily character driven.

    2. brightstar*

      Right now I’m working my way through the Louise Penny “Inspector Gamache series. For some reason, I find reading murder mysteries very comforting. Maybe it’s that everything is tied up at the end.

      1. Barbara in Swampeast*

        I love that series. I read it this summer because we went to Montreal and Quebec City. I love reading stories placed in places I have been. Penny is a very good writer.

        1. brightstar*

          It’s made me add Montreal to my list of places to visit in the future. I’m on the fifth book now, and I love the visual of Ruth walking around Three Pines with a duck behind her, dressed in different outfits.

    3. Theguvnah*

      I just today bought the new ann patchett and the new Maria Semp,e – simple did Where’d You Go Bernadette which was absolutely wonderful so I’m excited to dive in.

      I’m always told I should read Tanya French. Anyone know if I should just start at the beginning?

      1. Damn it Hardison!*

        The same characters show up in her books; usually a secondary character in one book will be the main character in another. You can read them out of order and won’t have any problem following.

    4. Mags*

      Just started Emma Donoghue’s “The Wonder” which is excellent.
      And I’m meandering through “The Harder They Come” ($1.99 Kindle buy at the moment) by T.C. Boyle. I’d heard great things about the novel, but it’s really not grabbing me so far. I hate giving up on books, but I’m definitely considering doing so.

      “Freeman” sounds fantastic. I just put that in my wishlist.

    5. Former Invoice Girl*

      I’m reading Loving Someone with Borderline Personality Disorder by Shari Y. Manning. I find this to be a good one – there seems to be a good balance between “how to be compassionate with your partner and understand that they are not doing this all on purpose” and “you should also take care of yourself – here is how”. Many other books on the the topic seem to either vilify those with BPD or condone their problematic behaviours, which makes me really uncomfortable; this one is something I wouldn’t be ashamed to be caught reading by my partner.

      The other one is The Accidental by Ali Smith, but I’m not sure I like it all that much – it feels like it’s deliberately inaccessible and I find it a bit pretentious and annoying. Reading it because I’ve been lent it by a friend along with a stack of other books – I’m not sure I’d have picked it up otherwise.

      I’m adding Alison’s recommendation to my to-read list as well – given how much I like reading and watching crime-related content, it’s weird I have never read police procedurals.

    6. Misc*

      I am very sporadically reading “Organising solutions for people with ADHD”. It’s actually very handy, but ugh… I can no longer read books properly because I go into hyperfocus and lost literally the entire day and then just segue into the next book and a week later I have done nothing but read my way through half the Discworld books.

    7. Barbara in Swampeast*

      I just finished The Circle, which Alison recommended a couple weeks ago. I can’t believe Alison’s head didn’t explode while reading the “on-boarding” process. Just a very super creepy place to work. I never would have made it past the first interview.

      Now I am reading “The Warmth of Other Suns” about the Great Migration of Blacks out of the South. I thought it would be dry and statistical, but Isabel Wilkerson makes it very personal and compelling.

  28. New Driver*

    I got my first car (at 28, lol) in July and I don’t really keep anything in it besides my emergency kit. What are things that would be good to keep in a car? Especially as winter comes up?

      1. copy run start*

        Multiple window scrapers if there’s a chance your doors/locks freeze up in the winter. I have a clicker now and remote start, but my old car would routinely freeze up along the jambs unless I opened each door every time I got in or out during the worst weeks (sub zero temps + windchills into -20s here). And if I forgot I’d have had to swan drive across the car to get the stupid thing had I not had one under like every seat! Plus multiple scrapers = twice the clearing power if you can use both hands at once.

        Also lock de-icer *in your purse/bag* is a godsend. Of course it’s useless if locked inside the car.

        Extra-thick MITTENS as well, the thick manly kind. They can usually slide over regular gloves for extra warmth when scraping, and you’ll also stay drier since snow will stick to the outer gloves that you can just pull off once you get under way. Plus if it’s just bitterly cold you can double up. I like to use the gloves that work with cellphones, but they aren’t warm enough on the worst days.

        1. Snazzy Hat*

          We keep a snow brush & ice scraper in the house foyer in case it’s difficult to open the car door.

        2. Gadfly*

          Spray hand sanitizer also works well as a lock de-icer in a pinch and is good to carry for other reasons.

        3. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

          One Christmas my mom totally got me (as a stocking stuffer) this As Seen on TV thing that was a warm mitten with an ice scraper attached to the end. She probably got it at Walgreens but DAMN if that thing wasn’t awesome! No need to look for mitten and scraper, they came together,so I just had to reach into the car door pocket.

          We sometimes drove in rural areas, and when we did that we would make sure to have a thing of kitty litter in the trunk (and a shovel) as it can be helpful to lay down under tires if you get stuck on some ice.

      2. Lily Evans*

        A small shovel can also be useful. I’ve had to dig out of parking spaces (and digging off the top of the car can be faster than using a brush).

    1. Stylish Entrepreneur*

      Blankets, water (for radiator issues, hopefully you’ll never need to drink it), jumper cables, flash lights, first aid kit, basic tools, gloves. I keep all of my supplies in my trunk stored in orettt photo boxes from Michael’s.

    2. Beem*

      I have a jumpstarter that also has a light, USB port, and air pump. It is very, very handy.

      I also keep a sweatshirt, Chapstick, bags for trash, flashlight, pocket knife, and tissues (toilet paper, tbh).

      I’m not overly prepared, I just forget to bring things inside.

    3. Torrance*

      Good suggestions so far, but I’d also recommend a bag of kitty litter during winter, if you live in a place where snow/ice can cause problems; it’ll help with traction if you ever get stuck.

      1. Cruciatus*

        But not clumping litter! Just the plain old stuff. I also keep a small snow shovel in addition to many of the things mentioned. Sometimes at work the plows will trap you in and it’s been handy a couple of times.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        You beat me to it–this saved my bacon last year when I slid off the slope at the end of my road. A quick sprinkle and I was back up again.
        (I went out when I got home and salted the hell out of that damn slope, dammit.)

    4. Random Citizen*

      Extra clothes (I keep a t-shirt, sweatshirt, hat, mittens, scarf, and a pair of windpants – works for extra pants or if it’s cold) with an emergency kit, antifreeze, and jumper cables in the back of my car. Front has napkins, kleenex, some form of food (granola bar in the glovebox, etc.), pen and paper, and something for garbage (plastic bag lining a built-in cubby works well).

      Or at least that’s what I used to have. :P I got a new car in July and so far just have a stale bag of animal crackers in the glove compartment – I’ve got to get on that before it gets too cold out.

    5. Snazzy Hat*

      Umbrella, small tarp, menstrual products (if we stop there, that’s a decent hand in “Three Weird Items”!), tissues, playing cards, trash receptacle, antacids, mints, multi-tool (e.g., swiss army knife), small towel, cotton swabs, hand lotion, extra hats & gloves, foldable shoes (e.g., Dr Scholl’s Fast Flats), and classic emergency & first aid kit stuff. Other random things you can find in my car or my father’s car include: a white grocery bag to be used as a distress signal tied to the driver’s side mirror, a jug with an opening large enough to pee into or fit an accompanying funnel into, a military-grade sleeping bag, bungee cables with hooks, and a map for stargazing.

    6. chickabiddy*

      Insurance card, of course. And I am definitely showing my age here, but if you happen to be one of the very few people who does not have a camera in her phone, then a disposable camera. If you are in an accident, you will want to take pictures of the damage to both vehicles and anything else that may be relevant. Windshield washer fluid — if you don’t want to lug around the whole gallon, decant a pint into a soda bottle.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Snowbroom. I mean one of those rectangular things on a pole. I don’t mean a brush on a pole. The rectangular things are made out of foam or similar material, they don’t scratch your car and they last forever. Mine is 15 years old and shows no sign of quitting. Brushes wear out in pretty short order. Added bonus you can clean lots of snow off your car in minutes, it’s so easy, it’s not tiring at all. Your hands stay dry because the “broom” is on a pole, your hands stay away from the broom.
      I got mine from a car dealership. It was about $20, should last a very long time. The ones that car dealerships use seem to be a little bigger than the ones sold in stores.

    8. Gadfly*

      -Shoes you can walk in if you need them when wearing dress shoes.
      -A couple pairs of warm socks (share with a friend or put them on your hands if needed)
      -I have a jumper similar to Beem’s–they are great. Just be sure to check them once in a while to make sure they are charged and have real jumper cables as a back up.
      -a roll of paper towels
      -a headlamp flashlight–if I need to look at the engine in the dark, I need my hands!
      -a book __in case I am stuck w/o power somewhere for a long time
      -a couple blankets
      -a map and compass
      -A shovel
      -bags–both disposal and heavy duty carrying of stuff style
      -first aid kit
      -car emergency kit with the flags and such
      -a saw and a hatchet

      I need to adjust mine to more city–most of this stuff is still there from when I could reasonably be concerned with a middle of the woods sort of situation.

      1. Grumpy*

        PSA: You may be able to break the glass with the metal post of the seat headrest. I have not tried this but the Internet says it is so.

        1. Franzia Spritzer*

          On this note, if you have access to a Pick-a-Part, you can pay the entry fee to go in and practice breaking car windows with various things, you only pay for what you take out of the place. I’ve gone in to practice taking challenging parts off of cars just like mine so I could learn without destroying my own.

    9. Chaordic One*

      Jumper cables, snow scrapers and snow brushes are always good to have. I like having some sort of handi-wipes in the car in case you have to stop at a rest area and I always have a tire gauge.

      Just in case I get a flat tire I have what I’ve always heard called a “speed wrench,” but which is also called a “lug nut wrench” to remove the lug nuts off of the wheel. If your car has a spare tire, it probably also has a lug nut wrench, but the ones that come with your car are not very good. One of these that has four different sizes is a lot easier to use and you can use the arms for extra leverage. It just makes removing the wheel a lot easier. Here’s a link to an example of such a wrench at WalMart:


      Or better yet. Join AAA.

      1. Red Reader*

        If you’re a AAA member, leave a photocopy of the card info in every car you occasionally drive. The tow truck drivers don’t generally need to see the actual card, the operators can look up your expiration date and whatnot as long as they have the numbers, and that way you’re covered if you accidentally leave your actual card in your other wallet or whatever. (Or take a photo of front and back and save it on your phone. Or both!)

        1. acmx*

          I keep my expired card in my car (and the current one in my wallet).

          This thread is another reason I like not living where it snows. :) I keep my vehicle relatively empty.

    10. Grumpy*

      Extra washer fluid.
      Possibly a baseball bat if you drive alone at night (or into a lake).
      Kleenex. Extra sunglasses. Small supply of plastic bags (for trash on road trips).

    11. FatBigot*

      Waterproof high-visibility coat & over-trousers; similar to those you see people wearing at roadworks etc. Size them so you can just pull them on over you clothes. If you have to stop because of an accident, breakdown or to change a wheel you can be seen, and it won’t matter if they get mud or oil on them.

      I make sure I have a full-size spare wheel, so that in the event of a puncture I can change it and carry on. Many modern cars just have a space-saver tyre that limits your speed, or some compound that will seal the tyre. The compound (1) means that a tire shop cannot permanently repair a small leak, but have to replace the tyre; and (2) cannot seal if there is a major gash or puncture. Make sure you know how to use whatever it is your car came with. Carrying a tyre pump is also useful.

      A set of spare bulbs is also recommended. Beware, due to crash survival engineering, the front bulbs on many cars are difficult to replace. Paying the £5.00 for the shop to do it is well worthwhile once you have tried to do it yourself the first time.

    12. LizB*

      I live somewhere with very cold, snowy winters. My winter car kit:
      First aid kit (this in in there year-round)
      Kitty litter
      Sleeping bag, in case warmth is needed
      Flashlight with batteries
      Ice scraper/snow brush with a telescoping handle
      Protein bars
      Half-full bottles of water (to allow room for freezing)
      Hand warmers

      This year I think I’m going to add a long piece of rope (in case you need to get out of the car in a whiteout – tie one end to yourself, and the other end to the car) and a seatbelt cutter/window breaker.

    13. Kay*

      Tow straps, shovel, kitty litter (these were very helpful when I got stuck in a snowbank last winter). Paper towels, hand sanitizer, maps, phone charging cables, cash, tools. When I’m driving out of town in winter, I toss in some survival gear like a really warm sleeping bag, snacks, etc.

  29. Stylish Entrepreneur*

    I’m finally taking a leap to open a “thrifted” service like StitchFix. I already sell a lot on Poshmark, so I’m really excited to be able to pick up new clients. I’ve already had 2, but I’m finally putting more energy into it to get it off the ground. So far I’ve only marketed via Instagram but I hope I can find ways to make it work! I love doing it, as stressful as it may be.

      1. Stylish Entrepreneur*


        Above is my IG page where I network with other online sellers/style a lot of my finds – you can also just grab the email from the bio portion if you’re not into IG, and at least skim through the photos without an account. A lot of it is just minor selling achievements/goals and frustrations, but I try to post a lot of clothing items, too! I hope I do enough to justify a website sometime soon, since that would probably be more accessible!

    1. Tex*

      That’s awsome! Do you read the Paris to Go blog? The author is into zero waste, thrifts all her own clothes and looks stunning – with about 35 pieces of clothing!

      Also, do you sell items for other people? I have a pile of stuff sitting around that I can’t find the time to eBay.

      1. Stylish Entrepreneur*

        I haven’t read that, but I’ll certainly add to my list! I love refashionista.net – she takes “ugly” finds and re-fashions them into cute things.

        I don’t really sell for others because of logistics, (tiny storage, commission issues, etc.) but I’ve found Poshmark to be way easier for me to list on than eBay, and quicker too! I’m also typically able to get more money per item there than I would on eBay, and shipping is hassle free! If you decide it’s something you want to try, I am more than happy to walk you through and help you get started! :)

        Some people do use Thredup to get rid of their old wardrobes, but unless you send in this seasons Prada, you won’t typically get a lot for it. Around $23 for 5 pieces of J. Crew, Gap, 7 For All Mankind, J Brand & Honey Punch was all a fellow re-seller got out of it.

      2. Stylish Entrepreneur*

        I hadn’t heard of that one but will absolutely check it out! I also love refashionista.net – she buys pieces for like $1 or less and re-fashions them into cool stuff! Not everything is my cup of tea, but I’m all for making “ugly” things cute again!

        I don’t really sell for other people because of logistics, but if you carve out a weekend to list, I’d really recommend Poshmark! It’s easier than eBay, and you’ll typically get a little more money. Shipping is a breeze, too! I am happy to help you get started, with that if you have questions or need advice/motivation! I’ve made nearly $2k on Poshmark with just at 100 sales!

        There’s also Thredup, but you won’t get probably 1/8 of what you could on Poshmark eBay, and they take the randomness stuff. They’ll almost take 2006 Target over this years Prada it seems.

        1. Stylish Entrepreneur*

          I didn’t actually mean to reply to you twice – I didn’t think the first went through. Sorry!

  30. Today's anon*

    Does anyone take melatonin to help with sleep? I’m in rut where I wake up at 2am and then can’t go back to sleep. If so, how much do you take? I can’t find any good guidelines.

    1. Snazzy Hat*

      I occasionally take melatonin. Usually 2mgs, or 3 if I’m not tired at all. I get very weird dreams on melatonin nights. Not necessarily scary, but they come with a lot of plot twists, scene changes, and/or bizarre connections between characters. The label on my melatonin bottle says “limit use to two months with a break of one week”. My usage rarely goes beyond three days in a row. It was very difficult for me to find a bottle of 1mg tablets in the first place. 3mg and 5mg are much more common, and I searched more than one store.

      If your random awakenings are due in part to stress, I would evaluate the role anxiety may have in your life. I’m not giving an armchair diagnosis. Rather, I take a prescription sedative as treatment for anxiety attacks and I do not recommend using the sedative as a plain ol’ sleep aid on a whim. It works for me if I’m freaking out about not being tired, or if my lack of tiredness is due to rapid thoughts. If you believe you might benefit, please discuss it with an appropriate physician.

      1. silvertech*

        Interesting! In my country, you can find melatonin in 1mg tablets only, as 3 and 5 mgs tablets have been banned (yes, it makes no sense). I usually go with 3 mgs, with no side effects, and I never use it for more than a week. A friend of mine, who suffers from severe and chronic insomnia, takes 3 mgs as well and has been taking it every day for months, with his doctor’s blessing.

    2. Rookie Biz Chick*

      There are a million reasons this might be happening, but for me, recently, cutting back on the evening booze worked. Sometimes I’d have a glass of wine late in the evening, and since I implemented a no booze after 8p rule for myself, I’ve not had a 2a wake up. (Well, I’m also trying gluten-free eating to see if that helps with some other stuff I have going on, so may be a combination effect.)

      Hope you can work it out naturally somehow! The sheer energy of existing in the morning with nearly no sleep is excruciating.

    3. Nicole*

      Taking melatonin by itself doesn’t work nearly as well for me as taking MidNite which is a low dose of melatonin mixed with herbs to aid in relaxation. It works so much better for me and I don’t wake up groggy at all. It dissolves in your mouth which is perfect if you don’t want to get out of bed and since it’s low does and natural you can take it even when you only have a few hours before you need to be up.

    4. Georgia*

      I was going to try melatonin but I happened to start taking b12 for other reasons. A nice side affect is that I’m sleeping a lot better. Usual disclaimers…I”m not a dr., I’m a sample size of one, ect. But I just thought I’d share in case it helped you or some one else reading.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t know. I’ve only taken it once, when I was in the hospital, and I slept pretty good until they woke me at 2 am to change my IV, and then went right back to sleep. But I had been in the ER since 1:30 am the night before, and I didn’t sleep great there, so that may have had something to do with it. I would like to try it again–over-the counter sleep aids make me feel hung over.

    6. Pennalynn Lott*

      I take 10 mg of melatonin every night about 30 minutes before bed. I’ll sleep great for the first 4-5 hours, and then pretty good for the next 4.

      What time are you needing to wake up in the morning? If you don’t have to get up until 6:00 am or later, I’d say take 5-10 mg of melatonin when you wake up at 2:00 am. I know there are time-released versions of it for just this reason (for people who can fall asleep relatively easily, but who wake up in the middle of the night).

      Oh, and if I accidentally take 20 mg (because I forgot that I took the first one), I have *really weird* dreams. So you might want to buy 5 mg tablets / capsules, and start there. You can always double- (and triple-) up, if needed. Also, start taking it on a night when you don’t have to get up early and go to work the next day, just in case.

    7. V dub*

      That’s rough! This probably won’t be helpful, but I remember there being a book recently that shared that historically (maybe 1500s and later?), people had a “second sleep”. Went to bed at dark, and then woke up in the middle of the night for various activities (creative work, sex, talking with neighbors), then went back to sleep.

    8. acmx*

      When I first started taking melatonin, I started with 1 pill (3 mg as that’s what the store carried). One pill didn’t really seem to work for me so I started taking 2(against labels recommendations; says to consult a dr first). I took 2 for a long time. After awhile 2 seemed unnecessary and I dropped back to 1 pill. Now, I’ve stopped taking it unless I’m stressed/anxious.

      Like Snazzy Hat, I had weird dreams when I first started taking it.

    9. ..Kat..*

      Melatonin works best if you take it every night. I recommend trying the 2 mg sustained release dose. I have read that most people get a 33% improvement when taking it every night about an hour before sleep.

    10. Misc*

      Yes! It’s a miracle sleep drug for me (and creepily, I mentioned it up thread before I got here…)

      Important Things to consider:

      – if you are NOT melatonin deficient, it will do nothing. Zilch. Nada. It’s best for telling your brain to sleep, not so good at keeping it asleep.

      – the doses are generally waaaaay too big. About 0.1-3mg is the effective dose. This is because the excess just converts back into serotonin/gets ignored; it’s an on-off switch, not a ‘keep you under’ drug. Taking more can actually be counterproductive as a big boost of serotonin is what wakes you up again. I’m on 2mg because that’s all that’s available in NZ and it’s working fine for me.

      – have a look at 5HTP instead. It’s the precursor amino acid to serotonin and melatonin, so it’s less dramatic, but the dual hit can mean more effective sleep as both are required for sleep stuff. I don’t fall asleep as easily when I take it, but I sleep a lot deeper (plus awesome mood boost!). HOWEVER it is not safe to take in long periods as it’s only supposed to exist inside the brain, so it can get used up or wander off and cause problems while you’re absorbing it via the digestive system. It’s very good for short term fixes/checking whether melatonin and serotonin (e.g. anxiety issues) might be the problem.

      – if 5HTP helps you, consider tryptophan, which is the precursor again to 5HTP, but a lot safer to just take, as you normally get it from your diet. It’s a lot more subtle and takes longer to take effect, but it is long term probably more helpful. Important notes: I’m massively deficient because I’m fructose malabsorbing and fructose (including normal sucrose, alas) just locks up any available tryptophan and sweeps it away, so I don’t get any (if I eat sugar, I get extra depressed. FUN). The dietary sources are all either plant (with fructose) or protein. Protein sources don’t allow the tryptophan to reach the brain, as it gets outcompeted, so it’s very possible to be deficient (and there are lots of theories that it’s behind a lot of depression, PMDD, insomnia, anxiety disorders – especially in women, who have significantly lower levels and are very vulnerable to deficiency. It’s possibly why depressed people crave chocolate).

      There was a big contamination scare a decade or so ago, so it was taken off the market, but it available again now, and the studies tend to show it’s as effective as SSRIs with fewer side effects (‘as effective’ = may not work for everyone because people have different issues).

      You just tapped into my current massive research obsession :D I’m running trials of the above supplements at this very moment to make sure that’s the problem with me (I had to order the tryptophan from overseas, alas, so I haven’t taken any yet, I’m finishing up the melatonin/5HTP trials).

      But basically:
      melatonin= sleep
      5HTP = serotonin + melatonin = sleep + mood
      Tryptophan = 5HTP, niacin (B3) and a few misc things = sleep, mood, digestion, pain sensitivity, light sensitivity, and a bunch of other things.

      1. Misc*

        “About 0.1-3mg” means 0.1-0.3, not 0.1-3.0, btw. But 2-3mg is usually fine, 10mg is pointless overkill.

      2. Misc*

        ALso, I need to get melatonin on prescription and it’s not subsidised so it’s ugh, expensive ($40 for 2 months!), whereas 5HTP can be found in most supplement places, usually as part of sleep formulas, so it may be much cheaper/easier to start with.

        Location dependent, obviously ;D

    11. Lizabeth*

      Something to consider: do you use your smart phone, tablet or Kindle right before bed? Because the light from the screens does affect sleep patterns. I noticed a difference when I put away the tablet at least two hours before bed.

    12. Little Miss Cranky Pants*

      If you have a friend or family member who has a bottle, you may want to try a couple doses before buying a whole bottle. I ended up giving mine away because after trying it three times, the weird/lightheaded/woozy/kinda hungover the next day thing made me stop. But then, I have odd reactions sometimes to all kinds of supplements and drugs.

      When I know I really *have* to sleep, I just take a half dose of dramamine or bendaryl. :)

    13. Dot Warner*

      I work at night and take melatonin to help me sleep during the day. I usually take 5 mg for a full 8 hours of sleep, but if I needed to get up before that, I’d only take 2-3 mg.

  31. The Cosmic Avenger*

    I’m finding that since my father’s death I’m having trouble saying “no” to myself. By that I mean I’ve been overeating. I keep saying I’m going to go back on my plan (WeightWatchers) tomorrow, or today, but then I feel like crap dealing with the paperwork or just missing him, and I eat compulsively.

    Any advice for breaking out of this rut? I can keep indulging myself to make myself feel better, but not ALL the time. I’ve gained about 7 pounds since he passed.

    1. EmmaLou*

      Can you instead take a walk compulsively? Sometimes I find if I distract myself (with outside stuff) I forget that I was feeling munchy.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I can go around the block, but there’s not much to walk to here, there aren’t even sidewalks on our street. But sometimes I do that anyway. I might now that the weather is cooling off.

    2. Snazzy Hat*

      For random eating, I’ve had decent success with chewing gum (bubble or non-bubble) because it allows me to feel like I’m actively eating. This is not ideal for curbing hunger, but it helps with “I’m bored, what’s in the pantry?” moments.

      Window shopping and walks in my favourite parks/neighborhoods can be pretty distracting in a beneficial way, especially if you take the time to marvel at stuff. Sorry I can’t be of more help with the grieving process. {big foofy Eduardo hugs}

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Thanks. I might get a lot of sugarless gum and try that.

        As for walking, it depends on our family schedule. Sometimes I can, but sometimes I have to stay close. And I was going to respond to the comment thread earlier about transitions that I’ve trained myself to have an instantaneous “I need to do this now” moment where I get up and start, because otherwise I may never get around to it, so I can try to do that with walking, especially now that I really need it.

        1. Gadfly*

          Just know a lot of people end up gassy because of that–swallowing air. You may also want some simethicone.

          1. AcademiaNut*

            Not just gassy. Xylitol and Sorbitol have natural laxative effects, and different people are more sensitive than others. It takes about 1/3 of a pack of sugarless gum or candy before I’m stuck in the bathroom for an hour.

    3. Knitchic*

      Yeah this is tough. I’ve been struggling with this myself. I just passed the one year mark. I’m about to pick up a food packing system to get my diet back on track. I’m having good luck with putting a small pack of almonds (no salt) in my pocket and only eating those when I felt like snacking. Curbed me pretty quick. Then I could still indulge occasionally and it wasn’t as big a deal.
      Are you journaling? I haven’t been keen on writing my feelings down yet, but I’m getting into drawing mandalas as a form of getting my emotions out.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Sorry about your loss. I was on WW long enough that I measure everything, I just find my will to do so is gone. I actually have smoke flavored almonds, although I usually have them after dinner. I could easily polish off a large bag, so I just need to go back to portioning and tracking.

        I find typing and writing frustrating, actually; I’m much more verbal. I feel a lot better when I finish chores related to his estate, actually, but the way it’s dragging out has been getting me frustrated and upset. I feel like I get angry or sad much, much more quickly now, although I don’t usually show it when others are around.

        1. Hypnotist Collector*

          Maybe give yourself a break? Let yourself grieve and let your body tell you what it needs.

    4. Today's anon*

      For me, when I want to act compulsively it often means that I am not letting myself feel my feelings. So, maybe you need to give yourself space to cry and grieve and not be super productive with the paperwork? And being kind if you are not all together after this loss.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I don’t know, I mean I know I’m angry and sad and frustrated, but I can’t just sit around and…feel. I need something to do normally anyway, even if it’s read a book or watch TV or do crosswords.

        But maybe I’ll try to dwell a bit more, thanks. That might help a bit, especially with the sudden feelings of rage. I have been talking to friends and family as much as I can about my feelings, but I don’t want to make it a burden.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          How about reading up on grief? This would be a practical way of “dwelling”, sort of a dwelling with a purpose.

          Like you are saying, when my father died, I ate whatever. Unfortunately, it seemed to be a lot of chocolate. I lost my desire to eat meals. I knew exactly what was happening and I felt powerless to stop it. For whatever reason, the junk blocked my ability to cry and the more that got blocked then the more junk I ate. oh man.

          It’s okay to have rage, I think you know that. Get a punching bag or get whatever appeals to you as a good idea for burning off that excess energy. I knew one person who had so much rage they ran five miles every night before dealing with their family. Hey, at least they recognized they needed to do something. Rage is a normal part of the grieving process.

          How about journalling? You could just write about what you think today.

          Talking with people is GREAT! Don’t stop but add in other things that you are willing to do on a regular basis. This spreads the so called burden out as you have more than one activity you are doing to help yourself.

          Doing things is great, also. That should always be a part of your mix. Touching things and doing things helps us to get grounded. It’s a basic human need to be productive, it fill us on the inside.

          Losing a parent is a marker in life that we never, ever forget. And it does not seem to matter if the relationship was good or bad, the loss is still a bfd. As you build your new normal, realize that part of it will be missing your parent or wishing things were different if you had a negative relationship. It’s helpful to expect that will never go away. This gives you a heads up so you can plan how you want to handle things differently in light of your loss.

          Pushing it under the carpet only makes a lumpy carpet that can trip us up at random times. There is no quick fix. You have good things in place, keep adding to those good things. I have lost my husband and my parents. I can tell you first hand the toughest loss was losing my father. These things are hard and they can be life changing for us.

          I am sorry for your loss.

        2. the gold digger*

          I don’t want to make it a burden.

          I understand that. I went to a grief support group (at a church where I wasn’t even a member) for a few months after my dad died. It was really, really useful, much to my surprise, as I thought it would be a bunch of stupid woo-woo, huggy kumbaya crap that I hate. But it wasn’t – there actually was a structured process and it was nice to be with people who understood. My dad died when I was only 32 – so none of my friends my age or even a little bit older had experienced that kind of thing. They were kind, but they had no idea. I didn’t wish it on them, but it felt very lonely.

          So – a grief support group might be an option for you?

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            Believe it or not, I am very woo-woo/huggy/hippie kumbaya! I might try that. I was devastated when my mom passed, as I was very close to her, and she actually moved to our state when my daughter was a baby, so I saw her every week for a while before she passed. I think my problem now is that my relationship with my father was a lot more fraught and contentious, even though we loved each other very much and said as much every time we talked.

            1. Belle di Vedremo*

              If you’re woo-woo huggy, have you looked into bodywork of some kind? A maxim in that realm is “the issue’s in the tissue.” Sometimes addressing the physicality can help with the emotional piece. Good for you for taking care of yourself.
              I’m sorry for your loss.

    5. Tess McGill*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. Truly I am. My Dad passed in July this year and I still don’t even know how to start processing the whole thing. I spent the entire first 3 weeks incredibly angry. As in, almost got fired I was so angry. Then I made it through the memorial service (no funeral due to his wishes/cremation) and it was as if a switch was flipped and that was that. I have yet to move through any of the other stages of grief yet. Not a single one. It is so weird. Couple this with my son leaving for college in August, my husband having emergency surgery two days later, my BFF in England has been in the hospital for a month now (acute pancreatitis) so I’m incredibly worried about her, and my job is incredibly unsatisfying right now (not enough work to do/bored out of my skull) and I’m not well. I’m also eating lots too. Then, this past week I learned my brother, the ALWAYS sunny disposition, happy-go-lucky child, is really suffering from my dad’s passing (he’s in therapy and has been diagnosed with Bi-Polar II, is on medication, having major anxiety issues and is dealing with horrible job issues (deplorable management) as well), and now I’m crazy-worried about him too. Ugh.
      Have you considered talking to a professional? I think about it but don’t do anything. I keep telling myself I need to get outside and exercise/fresh air, but I don’t do that either. Maybe you could try that? Outside? Sunshine? Fresh air? Exercise? I like the gum chewing advice to curtail the eating so I may try that. You have my sincerest sympathies.

    6. Chocolate Coffeepot*

      I am so sorry for your loss.

      When my father passed away, I lost all interest in eating, and my weight plummeted (not in a healthy way). Once I got past the initial stage, I couldn’t say “no” to doughnuts or cake, either; I gained all the weight back with some extra as well. What helped me to get off that merry-go-round was to stop thinking in terms of “I have to stop eating doughnuts & eat healthily again, all the time!” Instead, I decided to take it “one meal at a time.” “For lunch today, I’m going to eat a sandwich with a cup of soup, but no cake. I’ll save the cake for after supper.” Then after dinner I might still want the cake, but gradually I was able to say, “None today, maybe tomorrow.” Eventually I was able to convince myself that salads are as yummy as cake (well, sometimes, anyway)

      Another thing that helped me: At first, I had no energy to prepare meals, so I was either scrounging in the pantry or eating fast food. Then, I started buying healthy frozen dinners; easy to prepare, minimal cleanup, and (most important for me) portion control. Much harder to overeat that way!

      Be sure to take some time for yourself without feeling guilty about not doing the estate paperwork — easier said than done, I know! Not that you should procrastinate on the estate stuff, but don’t feel that you can never do anything fun again until the estate is settled.

      Everyone else has some good suggestions, as well. One more thing that might help is a grief support group. The hospice organization that took care of my father provided counseling for family members for up to one year. If that doesn’t apply to you, there could be other organizations in your area that provide grief support/counseling.

  32. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    So my foster cat, Charlie, not only enjoyed the people who came to see him to adopt him, they liked him so much they wanted to take him immediately!

    There is, however, some paperwork to do so they are taking him tomorrow morning. I’m so sad! My first foster is gone! But also I am really pleased, because he is really affectionate and going to a family of four, so there will always be someone to hold him. And I am also proud of his personality and how my wife and I did with him; he is so sweet that the mom picked him out online specifically to keep her company. Because she has cancer, will soon start chemo, and needs a companion.

    I told Charlie to be really good, and what an important job that is. I hope he understood!

    1. SeekingBetter*

      I’m one of those people who really believe pets can understand what you’re saying to them. I used to have a dog who was able to understand me speaking to her in two languages. I’m sure Charlie understood everything you told him! :)

    2. Charlotte, not NC*

      Congrats! I need to find a home for a rambunctious kitten who’s terrorizing my elderly cat, so your story makes me hopeful!

  33. Come On Eileen*

    I am leaving for Nicaragua a week from today to build houses with Habitat for Humanity! I am so, so excited. I’m also a bit nervous about the little details rather than the big ones (like sharing a room with a co-worker and whether I’m packing too much). I feel so fortunate to work for the company that I do – they are sponsoring a group of 70 employees to go on this trip. Any last minute travel or packing advice?

    1. nep*

      Good for you. Wow that sounds great.
      I always think of Ziplock bags (can’t really have too many), and a few pocket notebooks — if you’re one to write things down, there’s nothing like capturing it in the moment– the freshness is there).
      Enjoy. All the best.

    2. Rob Lowe can't read*

      Nicaragua is hot as blazes. I was in Granada for a week in July (so, Nicaraguan winter), and it was in the mid-90s every day and oppressively humid. If you are a bra-wearer, I’d recommend sports bras over regular ones – better sweat absorption. Maybe pack some handkerchiefs or bandanas or something to mop the sweat off your face and neck, too. Tap water in Granada was not potable (I’m not sure if that’s the situation elsewhere), so be prepared to buy bottled; my host family did keep iodine-tablet-treated water for drinking, but I didn’t care for the taste, personally. (If I’d been there more than a week I probably would have just dealt with it.)

      That said, it is also a beautiful country, the people were really nice, and I found (in general) people’s accents to be much easier to understand than in Costa Rica (where I was based the rest of my time in Central America). If not for the weather, I would go back in a heartbeat. (And I’ve lived in actual deserts with no AC access before. It was the humidity that really made me miserable.)

      1. Come On Eileen*

        This is great info, thanks so much! Packing for this trip is HARD — very hot there, also very humid, rainy season, and working outdoors for 8 hours a day. Sports bras and bandanas are definitely on my list!

    3. Soupspoon McGee*

      I went to Nicaragua two years ago and loved it. I was in a rural, remote mountain village with limited electricity and running water. If you’re not going to be in an area with reliable electricity, I recommend taking a head lantern. Also bring several packets of tissues, bug spray, moist towelettes or baby wipes, a bandana for your neck/hair, a wide-brimmed hat, sunscreen, extra socks, sturdy shoes with supportive insoles, band-aids, antibiotic ointment, pain reliever, antacids, and Immodium. I recommend loose long-sleeved shirts for sun protection and long shorts or long pants. The bugs and wildlife are truly impressive, so don’t panic the first time you realize you’re sharing an outhouse with a giant frog. And drink more water than you think you need! I got heat stroke before I realized it (not fun).

    4. Bidding Adieu*

      Sunscreen can be expensive, pack lots. Laundries are abundant and clothes are few, pack few. OneBag.com has a great packing list, and TripAdvisor has much good advise re what to expect. Have a super time! Spent 2 months in Guatemala, it was life-transforming.

    5. the gold digger*

      If there will actually be electricity (most of Managua was dark when I had to spend a night there years ago), take a good lightbulb if you want to be able to read in bed. (I do this for France, too.) It’s like they think reading is something that shouldn’t happen when you are in bed? What is it with the 20- watt bulbs in hotels?

      If there is not electricity, then batteries.

  34. TheLazyB*

    Whoever it was that mentioned bullet journals in an open thread a week or two back THANK YOU SO MUCH. Started and love it.

    1. Red Reader*

      Yay! That was me, and mine hasn’t been going so hot overall, but I’m doing pretty well with my overall goal tracking chart, which was what I was hoping it would help with. So still calling it a win :)

      1. TheLazyB*

        Yay! It’s still a bit hit and miss for me but it’s soooo useful. I’ve also found that when something upsets me it’s great to give myself half a page to get it out, and no more than half a page. Can’t believe I’d never heard of them before! :)

    2. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Worst: Got a rejection email from the other job on campus where I was a finalist. I really liked their department, the building (it was the very first building that the rest of the university was eventually built around, so it’s in the heart of the central campus), and the office with a huge window overlooking a beautiful panoramic view that I would have had.

      Best: Looked up who got the job, and it was the old assistant who had left campus for about a year and wanted to return. Somehow, knowing that makes it feel like less of a rejection of me. But I’m still bummed and kind of unmotivated toward my current job.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Huh, I don’t know how this ended up here. Let me move it. Well, not really “move” but copy.

    3. E, F and G*

      The best part about bullet journals is that if something isn’t working quite right you can change it. A month calendar can look different each month depending on what you need, you can change the way tasks are laid out and just drop things if they turn out to be less useful that you had assumed.

      Enjoy, and play around.

  35. TheLazyB*

    Has anyone listened to Accused podcast? My work colleague recommended it. Really good (like serial but keeping the victim front and centre) but really, really sad too. I hope the attention brings a conclusion to the case, but it seems unlikely :(

    1. alex*

      I listened to all of it; I’m a true-crime podcast junkie! This one was well done but unlikely, sadly, to have any significant impact (like Undisclosed and Serial have), in my opinion. There’s nobody wrongfully convicted, and there’s no evidence left…
      I loved how the journalist investigated the alternative suspects (the boss, the handyman, and that random guy who inserted himself into the investigation) and explored, via experts, the plague of serial killers in the 1970s.
      The thing that shocked me about this one was how the journalist was met with such cold, misogynist, and vitriolic backlash from the people she approached. What the hell was up with all those elected officials brushing her off and worse?!? I actually started wondering if she was doing something off-mic that was provoking their hostility. But more likely, they were just bizarrely hostile. Weird.

      1. TheLazyB*

        Yeah the feeling I was left with was sadness for Beth’s family and how it’s unlikely ever to be resolved.

        Weird how there seemed to be so many potential candidates for the murder and only the one was ever taken seriously, too.

        And yeah the hatred shown to her was bizarre and disturbing.

    1. caledonia*

      Best: I moved and are some great cake this week.

      Worst: My cat has fleas. I had to de-flea my entire (new) flat. So that was fun….
      There was also a mix up with moving which meant my removal men were hanging around for a few hours waiting for me :(

    2. Snazzy Hat*

      Best: Got a crapton of yard work done at home and at my grandma’s house! I’m staying on top of organizing, long-term storage, and removing garbage; actual cleaning is okay, not great. Went on a fun architectural tour with my dad. Going to a job fair next week, where several places to which I’ve applied will have tables.

      Worst: Two new rotors on my car. S.O. got a speeding ticket in a work zone. Still haven’t heard back from the employer who seemed super-eager to bring me in for an interview but never scheduled it.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      BEST: THE WEEK IS OVER. I got slammed at work and was just ready for Friday to. Be. Over.

      Plus I managed to get a room for my first writer’s conference ever–the hotels are crazy expensive for the size of the city, but the university there is one of the Big 12 conference schools, so football. Now I just have to make sure I can pay for it.

      I did have to go with the cheapo Howard Johnsons. The conference is two days and the schedule is like twelve hours each day, so all I’ll be doing is sleeping and showering, and it does have free continental brekkie. I have to leave on Friday and come back on Monday to not miss anything; hence the three-night stay. But Chuck Sambuchino of Guide to Literary Agents book and blog will be there, and I’m really excited to meet him and hear him speak!!

      WORST: No news on anything book-ish, but at least I haven’t been rejected (yet). It’s not quite time to nudge.

    4. Al Lo*

      WORST: I dropped my laptop behind the couch and broke the hinges. It still works, but doesn’t close anymore, and as I’ve been using it for the past week, the screen keeps hanging on by a slightly thinner thread.

      BEST: New laptop! ;) My old one was 3 years old, so it wasn’t quite ready to be replaced, but it would have gotten there within the next year or so anyway. I had been hoping to budget and plan for this replacement, rather than needing to get what I could, when I could, but I was able to stick to my spec wishlist and didn’t have to go for the cheapest replacement possible, just so I had something.

    5. QualityControlFreak*

      Best: spouse’s surgery went perfectly, cancer was completely removed and it doesn’t look like radiation will be needed.

      Worst: the next week or two is going to be pretty uncomfortable. We’ll get through it.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        That is great news about your hubby. Congrats to the both of you. I hope you two celebrate.

        1. QualityControlFreak*

          Thanks guys. Recovery has not been fun but we were very lucky to catch it early and the outlook is good. Appreciate the kind thoughts.

    6. Ann Furthermore*

      Work related, so I’ll keep it short.

      Best: Offered a new job, which I’m going to accept!!!

      Worst: Dreading the conversation with my boss on Monday morning when I give my notice. Also, a little freaked out and afraid of the unknown, as I’ve been at my current company for almost 12 years. I know it’s the right thing to do, but I’m still a bundle of nerves.

      1. JaneB*

        Best: new fuzzy paw print pyjama pants in mint green!

        Worst: very rapid rejection without first state interview for a job I’m highly qualified for – current place is increasingly toxic, I’ve really struggled to find the energy to job hunt, been ok with rejections so far but this job’s requirements were such a good match, I really thought I’d get some interview practice at least. I’m now feeling hopeless and like I’m trapped forever in toxic job :-(

    7. Crystalline*

      Best: Feeling better overall this week (aside from the issues I caused myself by not sleeping enough!) and I’m 2lbs away from a loss of 40 so far this year. So. Excited. And, with the deals I had, got some new clothes for like $20 from my favorite store. Eeeeeee!

      Worst: Job hunting. I appreciate rejection e-mails, but at the same time, not so much. A place I was hopeful for rejected my application, then changed the listing afterward. Augh.

    8. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Best: Had a lovely holiday, then had a very good lunch that may lead to a job opportunity.

      Worst: Woke up this morning stuffy and sounding miserable. I do not want to be sick again! I also blame my obnoxious new neighbors, who apparently do not realize their house consists of more than their porch, which is where they sit every. single. night. with 6 friends, talking loudly until 1am. (Yes, we asked them to be quiet, which they would do… until their next smoke break.)

    9. Lone Rhino*

      Worst: My manager for the last 3 years, who I loved working for, left.
      Best: Going to Spain for 3 weeks on Wednesday.

    10. Elkay*

      Best: Saw two brilliant stand ups, Suzi Ruffell & Tom Allen, they do a podcast, check it out.
      Worst: Tried reaching out to an old friend who I’m not quite ready to give up on but I probably should.

    11. Mimmy*

      Best: Lovely bridal shower for a cousin’s finance yesterday.

      Worst: The everlasting mysterious rash continues.

    12. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Worst: Got a rejection email from the other job on campus where I was a finalist. I really liked their department, the building (it was the very first building that the rest of the university was eventually built around, so it’s in the heart of the central campus), and the office with a huge window overlooking a beautiful panoramic view that I would have had.

      Best: Looked up who got the job, and it was the old assistant who had left campus for about a year and wanted to return. Somehow, knowing that makes it feel like less of a rejection of me. But I’m still bummed and kind of unmotivated toward my current job.

    13. Maxwell Edison*

      Best: Heading out to visit my parental units and my sister for a few days. Plus, crab cakes.

      Worst: Had a migraine yesterday.

    14. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Best: FINALLY got the formal offer for potential new job. I have already decided to take it based on various factors, and it ought to be a positive work environment (if not necessarily more money)

      Worst: The burning, tingling foot pain continues as a result of back issues, leading to mind numbing insomnia. Thankfully I am off work at the moment, but most every day I end up crying out of frustration, anxiety, and stress over this. Tonight seems a bit better though, going to try modifying diet this week and avoiding sugar and alcohol,etc.

    15. Dot Warner*

      Best: Binge-watched House of Cards and made significant progress on a knitting project.
      Worst: I had time to do that stuff because I had 3 days off work for a sinus infection.

  36. Sparkly Librarian*

    Today is Sweetest Day (a total Hallmark holiday, but also the anniversary of when my wife and I started dating 7 years ago and our wedding 4 years ago) and we planted some apple trees in the backyard. This is part of the espalier living fence project! 4th anniversary present is traditionally “fruit and flowers”, so I think it counts.

    It helped to keep me from moping about our adoption wait and the lack of news there.

  37. Raine*

    A couple years ago my landlord made it mandatory to pay rent electronically — absolutely no more paper checks — through an online portal that charged a fee no matter what method you used (drafting from your bank account was the least expensive option but still cost money). It always irritates me to pay a fee to pay (rent, or taxes, whatever) and i do what I can to minimize or eliminate such fees — but the apartment landlord actually wrote it into all new leases for tenants (and changed the late fee from a flat fee to a percentage of rent — i haven’t been late so forget what percentage but it was not minor, either 5 or 10 percent of rent).

    Well now suddenly out of the blue everyone gets notices that we must pay only in paper check now, no exceptions, and the portal is now deactivated. This would be fine by me except this place is so sketchy as it is. I wondered whether anyone here might have insight into why a huge apartment complex might do this? Is it likely just they wanted to end affiliation with the portal? They want to collect such fees themselves and tack it on? Can they use someone’s paper check to say they are in violation of their signed lease and evict them? Will we suddenly see several checks that go “missing” — they will not give a receipt, and are insisting it goes in a drop box and not to a live person even during work hours — and so the steep late fee based on a percentage of the rent is tacked on?

    1. Snazzy Hat*

      Small-scale landlord here. I co-own two 2-family homes yielding four apartments including the one I live in and the vacant one below me, in New York State (not NYC). I have to give at least a month and a day advance before changing the lease, i.e., any changes I make could be applicable for December or afterward, but not November. I’ve never used a portal thingy, and I accept check, cash, and money order.

      But the biggest issue I have with this is, the notice you received requires tenants to violate the lease. That needs to be addressed immediately. The complex at this point can likely say “you gave us a check when the lease says no checks, so we’re evicting you” with little recourse. There is a paragraph in my leases that states if any part of the lease violates any law in our jurisdiction, that part does not actually apply. While there might not be something so obvious in your lease, the current lease and the new notice contradict each other.

      I’m guessing the fees implemented by the portal people onto the complex was higher than the processing fees imposed on you and your fellow tenants, so the complex decided they could keep more money if they went back to paper checks. Good luck in this moronic ordeal.

    2. Jean*

      Everyone is innocent until proven otherwise, but I agree this does _not_ smell good. Do you have a local tenant advocacy group, or an elected official (city, county, state legislature) who looks out for tenants’ best interests? If yes, it might be worth contacting them.

      One self-defense trick I learned as a longtime tenant is to pay the rent from a checking account that otherwise has almost no traffic! This avoids having overdrafts when your cash doesn’t flow in sync with the landlord’s cash-your-check timeline. Multiple accounts may be pricey with a commercial bank–one of many reasons I’m glad to use a credit union.

      You could photocopy your monthly check (or take a picture w/ a smart phone) as documentation.

      Good luck.

      1. Gadfly*

        We-spouse and I- did the same sort of thing where we opened an account with a separate bank just for rent, basically. We direct deposit the amount (plus a little as a sort of emergency fund) in that account and only pay rent with it. Because of the direct deposit, we got a $300 bonus for opening the account.

    3. Nina*

      Hehe, I wonder if we live in the same building. My landlords did away with paper checks a year ago…or at least they planned to. Unfortunately, the online portal was so faulty that no payments were getting through. And people who lived with roommates were really suffering with it, because the system was designed to take the full month’s rent in one lump sum. That meant roomies had to deposit money into each other’s checking accounts for the rent to be paid in full, and no one was comfortable doing that. So they’ve done away with the online portal until further notice.

      There could be a variety of reasons why the landlords decided to stick with paper checks. You said your place is sketchy, but the tenants could be sketchy as well. Maybe the landlords might want a paper trail for some of them? Or the software for the portal was crap and it meant they were losing money, or they were taking too much through fees, making the process illegal. I’m not sure.

      As for the other questions, I don’t see how they could use a check against a tenant unless the tenant isn’t supposed to be there, or if they have too many people in the home.

      Also, I’ve never known a landlord to provide an actual receipt for a rent check, and I’ve rented my whole life. This is why you need to keep the carbon copy of the signed check. Until the check has been deposited by your landlord, that copy is your proof. We have a drop box, but I would rather give it (in a sealed envelope) to the landlord directly when I can. Sometimes they just point to the drop box. :(

    1. Gene*

      Definitely considering it for my next phone. If Verizon loads theirs up with bloatware, I’ll buy directly from Google.

      Of course, I may just go with Project Fi.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I’ve been on Fi for several months now—it’s great! Not sure whether to keep going with my Nexus or shell out money for the Pixel…

        1. Gene*

          When using data while moving in a car, do you notice problems during the switches between cellular and wifi? I play Ingress and regularly play while riding the bus. I’ve had to turn off wifi do wouldn’t try to connect to Starbucks and other known ones.

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            Nope. Haven’t noticed any of the switches. I think they’ve improved that technology quite a bit. The early reviews (before I started using it) of Project Fi seemed to complain about the switches not being seamless, or switching to a worse instead of a better signal. I haven’t experienced that at all.

    2. Elkay*

      I considered it but I’m too cheap to buy one, I’ve gone for a OnePlus 3 instead which I’m told is a good phone.

  38. Cristina in England*

    We got a car today. Well, my husband got a car. I have no idea if we will become car people or if family life will be unchanged except for an annual holiday or IKEA trip. Thank you to everyone who has offered carsickness advice in the past!

    1. Chaordic One*

      Tell us, did you get a Honda Civic or a Honda Jazz or something else? And did you get one with a standard transmission or an automatic?

      1. LifeOrDeath*

        Just sold my 13 year old Honda Jazz – man I loved that car – the trunk/boot is enormous and the car is reliable and a joy to drive and park. I highly recommend the older type Jazz, not the hybrid one seeing as the hybrid has a tiny trunk and honestly does not save as much fuel as advertized – my MIL had the hybrid (2009 model) and had the same usage approx 5,5-6 litres per 100 km as my 2003 model.

      2. Cristina in England*

        We thought we were going a Jazz or Civic since we live 100 meters from a Honda dealership, but space/headroom was a problem, especially on the Civic. I am 5’7″ and I hit my head on the ceiling in the back of the Civic! We got a Ford Mondeo diesel in the end. 67mpg, 2012, less than 40,000miles. My husband used to drive one ages ago, and always liked them. It is very spacious inside and the trunk/boot seems a good size too.

        1. Chaordic One*

          It sounds like it should be a good car for you. I’m very surprised that the Civic you looked at doesn’t have more rear seat head room.

  39. SeekingBetter*

    Can’t wait until I get a job so I can start enjoying life again. All I’ve been doing are mostly things that are free (Netflix, sleeping, volunteering, exercising, reading) and not really going out with friends. Grocery shopping seems like the most fun I have now. . . .

    1. Nicole*

      Oh I hear you! My husband has been unemployed since February and the unemployment checks ran out recently. While we’ve never been big spenders, having to pass on tickets to events we’d like to attend stinks. With the cooler weather we can’t rely on trips to the park like we did before either. I can’t wait until he has a job again and we can spend a little more freely. We’ve always been frugal but this is a whole new level. Likewise, grocery shopping seems to be the highlight of some weekends.

      Hope you find something soon!

      1. SeekingBetter*

        Thanks for relating. I can totally relate to never being a big spender either, and agree that it would be nice to have some fun money to do fun things that cost money, like going to events and such.

        I hope your husband will find something soon as well!

    2. Snazzy Hat*

      Ah, that awful paradox of all of the time and none of the money, combined with trying to socialize and go out with friends. “Hey, we should get together for lunch sometime!”-“Yeah, uh, someplace cheap, where I can use a coupon, and it needs to be accessible by bus…”

      I, too, apply for jobs and think about all of the places at which I’ll be able to throw my money.

      1. SeekingBetter*

        I also ask my friends who want to eat out to choose a place that’s very cheap, or if they really want to and can do so, treat me to the meal :)

    3. Rob Lowe can't read*

      Oh yes, been there and I sympathize! Actually, I didn’t even find grocery shopping fun, because there were things I wanted to buy (like non-apple, non-banana fruits), but couldn’t because they weren’t in our budget. I hope you find a job soon!

      1. SeekingBetter*

        I’m like you and only spend on necessary groceries within the budget. I guess I just have fun browsing the grocery store isles for the stuff I *want* like chocolate, lobster, and shrimp!

    4. Chaordic One*

      I got to the point where, instead of eating out once or twice a week, I limit myself to Starbucks once a week and then I order a “tall drip” to treat myself. I know I don’t really need it and can’t really afford even that, but I feel like I need to get out of the house and do something fun and nice.

      1. SeekingBetter*

        That actually sounds like something nice to indulge on despite the cost! glad to hear that you did that when you were unemployed.

    5. Anon for this*

      I feel you. Making hash browns was the highlight of my day. Next week’s big plans are a therapy appointment, setting a psychiatrist appointment, and looking at furniture with my mom.

      1. SeekingBetter*

        Thanks for sharing this. I’m actually thinking of therapy as well. I’m glad to hear that you’re going to appointments. Looking at furniture can be fun too. I often did that even when I could afford to buy furniture.

    6. Overeducated*

      I hope you find something soon! My spouse and I are finally both employed full time, and while it’s only temporary so we are trying to stay frugal, just being able to walk into Target and replace worn out undergarments and workout clothes is kind of amazing. The little things you do to save money add up and it gets tough.

      Socially, my favorite frugal strategy is hosting brunch. It’s really cheap to make eggs, quiche, french toast casserole, etc., in bulk, and others will often volunteer to bring low effort but more expensive items like fruit salad and Prosecco.

      1. the gold digger*

        replace worn out undergarments

        It took me 18 months to find a job after I finished my stint in the Peace Corps. I was so, so excited to buy new socks and underwear. At last, I could be in an accident and not worry about being mocked by the EMTs!

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Lol. That’s the thing I hated when I was a SAHM; I felt like I couldn’t even afford a package of new socks or underwear, not even the cheap 6-pack at Walmart.

          1. SeekingBetter*

            Yeah, socks and underwear are so expensive. And whenever I do buy new socks, it’s like they develop holes like magic in the three months they last me.

        2. SeekingBetter*

          Glad to hear you were able to find a job after the Peace Corps. I haven’t bought new undergarments in almost two years now, lol. So, I’ll be worried about what the EMTs think if I get in an accident :)

      2. SeekingBetter*

        Yes, I agree that the little things that you do to save money really does add up. I’ve been going to the dollar store A LOT lately and find brand name toothpaste, kitchen necessities, pens, and other things I need for only a dollar. If I buy the same stuff at Target, this would usually cost me 2.5 times more. It’s been helping me stretch my money. I wouldn’t buy undergarments at the dollar store :) In fact, I don’t think the dollar store even has these types of items to sell.

        Hosting brunch sounds like a great get-together idea! Thanks for the frugal social get-together tip!

      3. Anxa*

        Yes about those little things!

        I felt like I had finally made it when I decided I was going to buy gym shorts, because summer in the south east is too hate to keep wearing leggings. It was so indulgent and felt pretty awesome. Plus, I only spent one day shopping around.

    7. Anxa*

      Oh man!

      I used to bristle so hard and people who complain on the internet about people who browse in the grocery store. I mean, I guess being annoyed at being blocked off and I feel awful when I realize I’m in the way, but there was a really strong tone of being annoyed that some people were just strolling about the store whereas they were trying to get in an out as fast as possible.

      Because when I was unemployed, grocery shopping was my only shopping. Well, I still don’t really spend money on a lot of things and don’t go out to shops, but just getting to and from work scratches a lot of that being out-and-about itch. I would get so excited for grocery shopping day.

      1. SeekingBetter*

        Yeah, I’m sure I sometimes was in the way of people in the grocery store who were in a hurry and just wanted to grab-and-go. But I’m loving browsing the isles now.

  40. Dietician services*

    Anyone know of an online service where I can tell a dietician what I can/can’t eat and they come up with meal plans? The ones that I know of just put in options like vegetarian/low-carb/etc, and they’re not meeting my needs. I want to be able to do something like “X calories/day (or Y meals), excluding Z list of ingredients.” Thanks in advance.

    1. Lauren*

      I have a good friend who is a registered dietician (RD) though she just retired from her full-time day job. Right now, she is taking additional education. I think she might be open to doing this. She is very, very good and if you you’d like me to put you in touch with her, I will be happy to do so. Just email me at fr_writer at the big Y (yahoo . com).

    2. Amadeo*

      Have a look at ‘eatthismuch.com’. I haven’t used it in a while, but as I recall correctly, you could do the general ‘low carb/veggie/etc.’ thing as well as make a list of things that you don’t want to/can’t eat (I remember making a list that included plenty of fish that taste like fish, yeck). But you can also set the amount of calories per day and finagle your meals too as well as set a ‘cost per day’. Though be aware if you set it as low as $5 a day, you’ll end up with a lot of suggestions like ‘egg in a hole’ and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches’.

      They have a free option and a monthly fee’d option.

    3. Clever Name*

      Maybe this is something that’s covered by your insurance. My son is on ADHD meds that suppress appetite, and he’s a skinny kid to start with, so my son’s psych had us talk to a nutritionist/dietician about ways to fatten my kid up (basically do the exact opposite of how everyone says to eat to be healthy lol) It was a half hour phone consult and it was free.

  41. Soupspoon McGee*

    We’re in the midst of a big windstorm here in the Pacific Northwest. Yesterday, a tree fell on my neighbor’s house, but didn’t cause any damage. We still have power, but I’ve made sure to have candles out and accessible, and a few snacks to sustain us. Unfortunately, we’re already eating the snacks. It’s not cold enough to light a fire, but we’ve got supplies ready to go.

    What are your favorite things to do in a storm?

    1. LCL*

      Work long hours in the rain and wind, make bank for Christmas. My car is packed with my safety gear, rain gear, extra boots and snacks, I’m going to work at Four PM.

      1. Me2*

        Stay safe! I’m in Oregon and it’s really warm weather for a storm here. One thing I use instead of candles/flashlights is glow sticks, like the necklace kind. They are super cheap at the Dollar Store, they last hours, they’re safe, and they even provide enough light to read by.

    2. Dynamic Beige*

      Depends on the storm. If the power goes out, I generally will order a pizza or go to a movie because the power is usually not out downtown. This has backfired a few times, like when the entire eastern seaboard went out over a decade ago. Or the time I ordered a pizza and in the less than 10 minutes it took to drive, pick it up and drive back some crazy storm hit and trees were knocked down everywhere. Took over an hour to get home because every road I tried was blocked.

      Sometimes, I will go to bed early and light candles, oil lamps and read by candle light. It can be nice to be inside all snug and listen to it lashing around out there.

    3. periwinkle*

      Right now I’m obsessing over the outage maps. The section just to our west went out during the early part of the storm. That’s been restored and now it’s the area just to the east that’s out. The big winds are supposed to land right about now. Yikes!

      We’ve got all our beepy devices charged up and the vehicles fueled up in case we need to re-charge. My Kindle is loaded! The semester just started so I can’t do a lot of leisure reading but if our power goes out, I’m giving myself permission to finally read Tina Fey’s Bossypants.

      Candles would be lovely but we have cats. And we’ve yet to prep our wood fireplace. We’ve got some battery-operated LED lanterns, fingers crossed that we won’t need them…

      Storms are a good excuse for snacking.

  42. Triceratops*

    My roommate and I adopted a cat today! She’s 8 years old and FIV+ and just the sweetest. She was really shy when we interacted with her at the shelter, but since she’s been home there’s been so much rubbing and purring.

    The folks at the shelter told us to keep her in a smallish room at least until she’s used the litter box a few times — but she seems so comfortable here already and eager to explore the rest of our apartment! Since she’s not hiding and doesn’t seem scared, do we really need to stick to the small room thing? Any tips? If it matters, they think that she was an indoor pet before she was taken to the shelter.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Do you have other animals? If not, I think you can let her roam if she seems comfortable and if you’ve seen that she knows where the litter box is — maybe wait until she’s just used it once.

      Yay for adopting older cats!

      1. JaneB*

        Definitely yay for older cats! Adopted my girl at the age of 8, she’s now 16 and queen of the house, and just the sweetest thing – but she’d been in the shelter ages due to her age

    2. Gadfly*

      I would still confine her for a while when you are not there and at night for a while. Just until you have had time to find out everything that is not cat-proof, her style. You might be surprised. My cats at my new apartment suddenly decided they like to open cupboards–something they didn’t do at the house- and sleep in them. I’ve had to get child locks for all the lower cabinets. Having an extra-safe space while you discover all those individual quirks is good.

    3. FiveWheels*

      If she seems calm and settled, no, no need to restrict her. Just if she’s going to be an inside cat be VERY careful with doors and windows. And make sure she has a place to be her own territory – like a small room with a litterbox, food, water, toys, and a box. Somewhere to retreat to if she needs a time out.

    4. Triceratops*

      Thanks everyone! We don’t have other animals, so we did end up letting her out — all went well. She still slept in her sanctuary room (my roommate’s bedroom) and has used the litter box. We may put her in the bedroom tomorrow while we’re at work, just to make sure she doesn’t get freaked out…

  43. Karma Chameleon*

    The comments section of yesterday’s update got me thinking about karma and how people talk about it. I always thought that it wasn’t so much “you do something bad, and something bad will happen to you,” but “when you do something bad, you put that negative energy into the world and somehow it will manifest itself in a bad way, maybe not to you but to someone at some point in time, maybe even in the next life.” And obviously that works for doing good things, too. So that might explain why a good person has so much “bad luck,” because even if he’s doing good, someone else is putting out bad energy. So that’s why you only should do good things, because then only good “energy ” will be out there.
    Is anyone more enlightened on this? I’d love to understand it better.

    1. Florida*

      I think when people use the word karma in everyday vernacular they typically mean “you do something bad and something bad will happen to you.” It’s funny because people don’t always use karma when the opposite happens (you did good, so good happens to you.) Although technically, I think the word would apply there.

      Karma is also a religious concept in Hindu and Buddism. I am not really qualified to speak about that, because I don’t know much about either of these religions, but I suspect your second definition of karma might apply here. From the little bit I know of those religions, I think the more worldly definition would fit. (If a follower or expert on these religions wants to correct me, please do. I’m making guesses here.)

      In any case, I would say there is a colloquial use of the word, which is probably not 100% aligned with the religious use of the word. I think that happens to a lot of words as they transfer from having a specific religious meaning to everyday vernacular.

      1. Gadfly*

        Because Hinduism and Buddhism cover a lot of different beliefs, there isn’t a simple answer. There are some very simple folk beliefs and some highly scholarly ones. On the more scholarly end of things it can get very complex (one strand of thought is dreams are bits of karma that are not enough to justify happening in real life, for example…My husband loves to trot that one out to counter dream interpretation.) In the West, the simplified version mixed with some simple similar beliefs (reap what you sow, just desserts, etc) to basically be a poetic justice sort of thing in common usage. I think the negative energy thing is a bit more new age (and many westerners mostly hear Indian concepts filtered through new age stuff) and you hear almost identical explanations given for things like the Wiccan three-fold law in an attempt to sound more scientific/less superstitious (I have also heard similar Christian versions with God does not punish you for sin as much as such things are naturally harmful and that is why bad things happen to sinners.)

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I don’t think I am enlightened. :) I also have lost my post somehow…

      I think karma comes back around often enough to cause people to notice and comment. That does not prove anything except that there is an ebb and flow to life. We win some and we lose some. Sometimes it’s our fault and sometimes not.

      But personally, I think that we live in an imperfect world with imperfect people acting imperfectly. I think that we are interwoven and interconnect much more than we realize. I think our actions- good or bad— impact others more often than we want to think about.

      I do believe that we can draw good things to us, but we should not expect good things just because we are trying to draw them, because this is not an automatic. I know first hand that really rotten things can happen and in the midst of the rotten thing, people can be awesomely wonderful and kind. Now this is getting confusing. Am I throwing out good to the universe or is the bad vacuuming me up? Tough to tell.

      The thing with putting out good energy seems like an empowerment exercise.It’s a train of thought that empowers people to deal with and sometimes rise above a given circumstance. Hey, if it helps people, who am I to take that away from them?
      It pays to consider the person you are talking with. Sometimes we encounter people who have done good all their lives and get nothing but crapped on. Telling them about karma probably won’t help them much. It could be that the person needs to reconsider the way they use their acts of kindness. Or it could be that we are supposed to help the person in some way.

      There are lots of reasons why people do good things. I like to do good things because it makes me feel like I am making a contribution on earth somehow. Other people have different reasons.
      People like to have quickie explanations for things. I know I sure do. Karma fills the bill in a lot of instances. But it does not explain ALL the ups and downs of life. And it does not explain why the struggle against bad has not ended after all these centuries.

    3. Franzia Spritzer*

      I understood a very crudely simplified analogy for karma is like, working and contributing to social security. You put in (good) when you’re working, and effecting your payout (bad) when you’re not working, you get it all back when you retire. It’s not an immediate retribution system, eye for an eye type deal, and it effects you’re next go round through reincarnation rather than this lifetime. So you’re kind of banking good karma for your next reincarnation to be a good one. As someone else said, there’s folk versions and more complexly laid our scholarly investigations of the pathways of karma. The biggest misconception in the westernize appropriation of the idea of karma is that it’s got a fairly swift turn around time, but that’s not quite how the cookie really crumbles… in theory.

    4. Stellaaaaa*

      I think that colloquially the concept of karma is the idea that bad things will eventually happen to people who knowingly and deliberately do bad things to others.

      I don’t take a cosmic view of karma, but I do think that people eventually notice when someone has been lousy for a long time and the social circle starts to naturally cut that person out.

    5. Garland Not Andrews*

      My mom always says “Choices have consequences.” If you make bad choices you leave yourself open to the bad consequences.

  44. MsChanandlerBong*

    I’m really frustrated about my medical issues. I was diagnosed with lupus 10 years ago. At the time, my ANA was positive, my anti-DNA was more than four times the upper limit of normal, I was fatigued beyond belief, and I had terrible joint pain. My symptoms aren’t as bad now, but I still have them. Joint pain keeps me up all night long sometimes. Unfortunately, I moved to a new state last year, so I had to find all new healthcare providers. My new PCP AND my new kidney specialist (I have kidney disease) refuse to believe I have lupus. I had some blood tests done, and my ANA was positive with a titer higher than I’ve ever had. My sed rate (which helps detect high levels of inflammation) is almost 60, and it’s supposed to be less than 20. Due to the sed rate being elevated, my PCP referred me to a rheumatologist–but ONLY because of the sed rate. She blew off the ANA titer because it wasn’t as high as some lupus patients’. Called the rheum to make an appointment–they can see me in 11 months and five days. Meanwhile, I asked the PCP what I can take for pain, as I can’t take ibuprofen due to kidney disease, I already take aspirin for my heart condition, and Tylenol doesn’t help. Her answer? Take more Tylenol. My liver is one of the few things I have that isn’t abnormal in some way, and I don’t think 1,300 mg of Tylenol at bedtime every night is going to help with that. I’m just SO FRUSTRATED.

    I would like to find a new PCP, but it took me five months to get an appointment with this one. I need to keep her at least until someone else has an opening; otherwise, I’ll have nowhere to go if I develop an acute illness.

    1. okay then*

      so what you need is not a new PCP. what you need is someone who understands chronic pain. Do not take more tylenol. chart your daily pain. ask for a referral to a pain clinic.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        I started tracking my symptoms yesterday, so I’ll keep doing that. I like my new city, but I miss my old doctor SO badly.

    2. Snazzy Hat*

      Ask coworkers for PCP recommendations. Anyone who has a PCP they love will rave about them at the opportunity. If your town has free health-related publications, search through the ads for physicians. I found my PCP by asking a friend who I knew was pleased with the office. I found my dentist by searching through my insurance plan’s list and just calling places that were (somewhat) easy to get to; I think it was the seventh place I called where someone actually answer the phone.

      I hope you quickly find a PCP and a kidney specialist who will treat you like a person.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        Unfortunately, I am new to town, and I am self-employed (due to previously described health conditions, I can’t maintain a full-time schedule). I literally know two people: my husband and my mother-in-law. I went through my insurance book yesterday and found another group that is accepting new patients, but I have to wait for my doctor to send me a new referral letter. I can’t make the appt. without a referral, unfortunately (the rheum’s policy, not my insurance company’s).

        1. Snazzy Hat*

          Damn, I was hoping you worked at a large place and could ask fifty people all in one day. I really hope you mention the referral letter as “I need to remain a patient of Dr Crummy until she gives me the referral for Dr Better-Rheum that she said she would, and then I can get a new PCP.” If not, what’s stopping you from getting established with Dr Competent, obtaining a referral for a good rheum from Dr Competent, and telling Dr Crummy you aren’t her patient anymore? I hope I’m not being too negative.

        2. Reverend(ish)*

          Urgh, this stinks. I’m sorry you have this frustration. Can your old pcp write a referral? I had to move in the middle of a diagnostic process for mixed connective tissue disorder and figuring out why I had a positive ANA test (turns out it is rheumatoid arthritis), and that was bad enough. I can’t imagine what it is like dealing with this and lupus. I had my specialist fax records and referral to the new specialist to get an appointment and that worked, especially since it was the office requesting it and not insurance company. That might help get you in to the rheumatologist clinic quicker.

          I actually found a great pcp through zoc doc and vitals.com. If you happen to be in the mid Atlantic region, I can help out more–that’s were I am.

          1. MsChanandlerBong*

            Sorry about the RA. I’ve been tested for rheumatoid factor, and it came back negative, so they ruled that out. I’m VERY fortunate in that I only have maybe three or four bad days per month. I’m not looking for a whole bottle of narcotics or anything; I’d be happy with three or four pills just to have on hand when things get bad, but I think doctors are afraid of over-prescribing and having people get addicted.

            The reason they don’t think I have lupus is that my titers have always been low (usually 1:40; it was 1:80 this time), which is “borderline positive.” But there are 11 diagnostic criteria, and I had 7 of them at the time I was diagnosed. The old rheumatologist took one look at my anti-DNA and said, “That’s lupus.” The new nephrologist thinks perhaps I had drug-induced lupus at the time, but that I don’t have true SLE.

            1. Reverend(ish)*

              This sounds like my diagnostic process. Aren’t autoimmune diseases fun? *rolls eyes. Not sure if this will help with pain, but Epsom salt baths and message therapy helped me out tremendously before I figured out that my aches weren’t normal. That and ginger turmeric tea helps with any inflammatory pain. Though I still have days where I’m curled up in bed.

              Wait…the nephrologist is trying to change your rheumatology diagnosis? I thought on things like on SLE lupus diagnosis the rheumatologist has final say..I’m not a medical expert, but I’d ask the nephrologist their background on rheumatology training. And maybe get a new one.

        3. Yetanotherjennifer*

          If you need a resource for recommendations you could check to see if your area has a list-serv, Facebook group, Nextdoor group, or some other sort of local online connection where you can be part of a community and get connected to your new town. Better yet would be a newcomers club if they have one.

        4. the gold digger*

          I literally know two people: my husband and my mother-in-law.

          For me, when I moved to get married and knew nobody, I just had to chat up everyone. This friendly woman who worked at the counter at the Y told me about her dentist and he has been our dentist now for eight years. I found my hairdresser by asking a woman in my BodyPump class. Carol has been our hairdresser for eight years and I am now friends with the woman in class. It stinks having to start all over building that part of your life, but I have discovered that when people have doctors and hairdressers and restaurants they like, they love to talk about them.

          1. Snazzy Hat*

            If you’re in a weirdly-knit community, you can make connections at the drop of a hat. About five years ago, I frequently had the same cashier at my local supermarket because of my shopping schedule and her work schedule. She seemed like someone I would probably get along with outside of that setting. One evening I was at a party and saw her. Turned out she had been dating one of my friends (the sibling of another friend, to boot) for years and still is. We hit it off very quickly and continue to be friends.

            Then again, I’m in an area known for connections like that. Another friend of mine and I have a bizarre timeline: we lived on the same street in the late ’90s and early 2000s. She moved out around 2005. I moved out in 2007. We met in 2014.

            1. Mallory Janis Ian*

              I was driving to a women’s festival with one of the members of my women’s group, and we discovered that we had worked at the same natural foods warehouse years and years ago, but not at the same time. We compared notes and discovered that I was her replacement and had started her job immediately after she had quit. No one had ever mentioned her to me though; everyone at that time was to too busy freaking out about how much they missed another, much-beloved co-worker who had quit at the same time.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        I checked with my insurance, and they do cover other groups. I called one group to make an appt, but they won’t even schedule you without a referral. So my PCP is going to send me a new referral letter; I just have to wait to receive it. Hopefully, the wait is much shorter at this other place.

    3. Charlotte, not NC*

      I have a relative near Philly with lupus who speaks highly of her doctors. If that’s close enough to help you, post and I’ll find out names.

        1. MsChanandlerBong*

          Thank you so much, but I actually moved away from Pennsylvania and out west, so I would have been much closer a year ago!

    4. caledonia*

      I have no advice but am horrified at your doctors – what a terrible reason and wtf about not believing you!?

      I hope you find someone better for you soon.

    5. Carrie...*

      You need a rheumatologist.

      All doctors have cancellations. Get on the cancellation list for the rheum your PCP referred you to, and also call 1-2 times every week to see if they have cancellations. You can always get in earlier.

      Also, ask your PCP for another referral for a different rheumatologist. Meanwhile, ask your OLD rheumatologist’s office if they have any rheum docs they recommend in your new city. Then do research yourself. Look at the Rheumatology departments at the major medical schools/hospitals in your city. See which ones specialize in Lupus. Choose one that isn’t a brand new doc (straight out of residency), and that seems to have a decent CV. Look online to see if any reviews for that doc are particularly bad… although you can’t put much stock in online doctor reviews.

      Did you request copies of all of your records (including lab test results) from your old rheumatologist before moving? If not, do that ASAP and have them send the copies to you. Make copies for your PCP and for your new rheumatologist.

      What has worked for pain in the past?

    6. Mon Mon*

      I am so sorry. I was diagnosed with UCTD about 8 years ago. The pain was baaaad. Turns out it was not just my joints, but also many, many tissues were inflamed and my body was attacking itself, causing tissue damage. Look it up and see if maybe there are more pieces to your puzzle. My blood work showed HIGH results for more than one autoimmune disease (I didn’t “have” either, but OH THE PAIN), and my rheum did some excellent detective work to come up with UCTD. Lupus was one of the diseases that was in my blood markers. She put me on methotrexate straight away (the “big guns”). I was on it for nearly 4 years and I am happy to say I am in remission, even though the tissue damage remains (mostly in my wrists), I feel great! Autoimmune stuff is not always cut and dry with diagnosis so please keep trying other types of docs or getting on cancellation lists. I had to “fire” a rheum for poo-poo-ing me and telling me I had Juvenile RA (I have no RA of any kind) and telling me to “take more Aleve”, before I found the doc who basically saved me. Sending you all the good mojo!

    7. Observer*

      I’m glad you are looking for another rheumatologist. But, you need to find a new PCP ASAP. And, possibly a new kidney specialist. The suggestion to find a pain management specialist might be worth following up as well.

      But, FIND A NEW PCP.

  45. nep*

    Anyone follow the blood type diet? A colleague was saying the other day that she always feels much better when on it. Not looking to follow it — just interested to hear of any experiences.

    1. Gadfly*

      I looked into it, but it was the exact opposite for my husband of what we know works for him as an O. It wanted him to focus on eating the stuff that experience proves makes him worse.

      Also, the science is all bad.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I did it about a long time ago. I liked it well enough but there weren’t many food choices and I got very discouraged. I did take away from it that O bloods need meats. I have tried going with out meats and that went oh-so-bad for me. I could be very happy never eating meat again, but my body is not going to let me do that. So now I know.

      But I do agree, I got results, I felt better and so on.

    3. Observer*

      The science makes no sense. Also, what little evidence we have is the exact reverse of what the theory says. (They did backtrack on one of the issues, though, so it’s still evolving.)

      I’m not at all surprised that some people feel better on it. Besides the placebo effect, most people who go on a diet like this are not feeling all that well to start with, on the one hand. On the other hand, they are often following a fairly terrible diet, if they are following a stereotypical American diet. When you go on a diet like this, you generally do have to cut down on a lot of the worst junk, and you are paying more attention to what you are eating. And you also often wind up eating less. (Although that’s less true for some of these diets that have become popular, because there are more foods marketed to people on the diet.) In short, your diet may improve significantly, simply because you’ve lowered you intake of high calorie, nutrient poor foods.

    4. Stellaaaaa*

      The science behind it is so kooky. Your colleague probably feels better now because she wasn’t eating well before. ANY kind of food plan is a positive change for people who are starting from a bad baseline.

  46. Me2*

    Off to Savannah in two weeks, and I’ve never been there. Anyone have restaurant or home tour recommendations? Walking tours? Thanks!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I had some rum there. Yarr! :)

        Ex-bf and I went down to River Street. That was kinda touristy but fun. I bought a huge bag of saltwater taffy and took it back to work with me. Everybody was like 0_0 GIMME.

    1. Jackie*

      Take the trolley ride to get the lay of the land. Pirate House is a fun place to eat. Go to Olde Pink House for dinner (Georgian mansion, circa 1771). Mrs. Wilkes for lunch. Take an ecotour and a haunted ghost tour too. Go to the Juliette Gordon Low house and tour the Girl Scout founder’s place of birth. See Fort Pulaski and gain some knowledge of US history. Have fun. Savannah is a place you will want to visit again…

    2. JayeRaye*

      Kevin Barry’s Irish Pub is excellent and low-key. The River House down on the bayfront is a great lunch/dinner spot. If you go to the Pink House be sure to make reservations – the wait can be hours long even if you get a spot in line. And at some point you should check out LuLu’s dessert bar – because I didn’t even know that anyone could make that many kinds of creme brulee. And if you’re tired of all the fancy stuff and want some easy and delicious pizza? Vinny Van Go-Go’s. But take cash, because last I heard they didn’t take cards.

      Enjoy Savannah! It’s a wonderful place to be.

  47. brightstar*

    I wanted to thank everyone for the comments on my post about my family problems. Nothing has changed except that I am looking into getting an attorney, etc. But I really appreciate the advice everyone gave.

    1. Snazzy Hat*

      That’s a huge step. When I had a manipulative tenant, the day I obtained a lawyer who assured me I would never have to speak to that tenant or be in the same building as her again was the day a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders. And right now I’m going through an unrelated property insurance claim which involves repairs; the insurance company is taking care of contacting the necessary places for services and I just have to sign approval forms and make sure there’s access to the areas in need of repair.

      In short, you will notice a huge change when the lawyer creates your file. Hang in there.

      1. Snazzy Hat*

        Note to self: there are synonyms for the word “huge”; you don’t need to use it thrice in a single post. >_<

  48. Dorkus Malorkus*

    A former friend showed up to my Grandfather’s funeral. When I saw her, she said, “I would ask you to hang out, but I’m moving, so oh well!” with a satisfied smirk on her face and then paraded off. When we were younger we were friends, but then she became popular and ditched me or would only hang out if no one else was around. She would make fun of me in front of others (especially boys) and laugh at me. Eventually I started to say no when she would call and not hang out with her, apparently she holds a grudge.

    I was a good friend to her when she didn’t deserve it- she would only call when she broke up with a boyfriend and then would disappear when she got a new one. She wasn’t a good “friend” to me, but it still bothers me that she chose a funeral of all places to make some snarky comment. I’m glad she’s not in my life, but it still stings. I was really nice to her when I shouldn’t have been and yet she’s acting like I’m at fault? What’s the deal?

    1. Cat steal keyboard*

      I’m really sorry she has acted like this. It’s all a reflection on her, not you.

      And I am so sorry for your loss.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        And an asshat to boot. Some people only feel good about themselves when they’re putting someone else down. Move, be happy, never think of her again.

    2. Nina*

      She’s just a nasty person. I know her comments hurt, but it’s not about you. And anyone who shows up to a funeral to mock someone and be mean has issues of their own. Don’t concern yourself with her.

    3. Snazzy Hat*

      I’m so sorry for the loss of your grandfather.

      As for this former friend, the deal is she’s stuck in middle school. It stings because she rudely showed up at a somber occasion and tried to make you look like you were missing out on coolness. She doesn’t hold a grudge, she’s just being manipulative to a disgusting degree because you have a history of being a good friend to her when she didn’t deserve it and of being nice to her when you shouldn’t have been and she knows she was/is a crappy person. You deserve to be appreciated and have friends who actually like you and care about you.

      By the way, tomorrow is a full moon. In my religion, that’s a time of putting old stuff behind you, getting rid of crap[py people] you don’t need in your life, and obtaining the energy to experience growth and maturity.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      The deal is she is not a quality person and she is consistently showing you that she is not a quality person. Telling you this at your grandfather’s funeral? She is VERY good at not being a quality person.

      Sure it stings. Because you live by different rules than she does. It would never occur to you to show up at a family members funeral to tell someone off. She does not value the things you value, such as friendships. Hold it in a different light and look again. If she were into shoplifting and you weren’t, this would be a lot clearer. But this is muddy because she acted like a friend, she seemed like a friend but she wasn’t. You aren’t into using people, you value real friendships.

      Sometimes the best we get from a situation is to know that we were sincere and we did the right things.

  49. Chronic Pain*

    So, I have a chronic medical issue that can be very painful. I’ve noticed that instead of realizing that my pain is increasing, I get really mad or depressed right before my pain level goes through the roof. Does this happen to anyone else?

    1. Soupspoon McGee*

      Yes! I have crohn’s with arthritis, and sometimes I’ll start to feel really wiped out–not sleepy, but totally lacking in energy. It’s an effort to move my body. Then I feel angsty or irritable, then I finally name the physical symptoms like joint pain and belly problems. Now my partner can intervene when I start to complain about the lack of energy and tell me to take an extra prednisone before it spirals. I have had this condition for more than 15 years, but apparently, I cannot spot the pattern when I’m in it.

    2. misspiggy*

      Yes! I try to be aware of my mood and have learned to stop and check for pain when this happens. Usually it’s a sign that I need to get myself to some bed rest asap. I treat myself like a cranky toddler during this phase.

    3. Misc*

      Yup. I think I’m so used to background pain that when it gets worse (IBS and general pain sensitivity) I don’t realise that’s what it is. I’ve started consciously stopping myself and going ‘does my head feel heavy because tired, or is it actually a headache? Am I irritable because I’m grumpy, or is my body distracting me constantly and wrecking my mental balance? How long has my stomach been hurting and should I maybe do something about it?

      1. out of spoons today*

        Welcome to my life. I say “pain makes me mean” One of the ways that I deal with pain is to ignore it. Be distracted by other things. Work like a demon. Awareness of it comes like an avalanche and if I hadn’t been paying attention, the meds don’t touch it. So….I try to watch the clock and do a body inventory a few times a day. Three pm is usually when things start going down hill. I also try to be aware if I am getting “snappish” or “sensitive” I ask- am I hungry, angry, lonely or tired. or what hurts?

        I give myself permission to take care of myself- it may be taking meds or going home, or closing my office door, or blowing off that cocktail party or having the third hot bath of the day or just taking to my bed like a victorian heiress and reading non-work related books.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Oh yeah. Pain and emotions are interwoven. It’s very interesting stuff if you get to reading about it.

      We can teach our brains to override low level pain, even medium level pain. As the years role by we stop realizing just how much difficulty we are putting up with. It’s like we teach our brains to become disconnected from our bodies.

      Pain is a warning, pain is the body’s way to let us know there is a problem so we can protect our health and our bodies. A broken arm is a clear example. Flap the broken arm around ONCE and you won’t do that again for quite a while. The pain warns you to be careful and let the arm heal. I went close to 24 hours with a hairline fracture in my thumb before I decided to get it checked. Finally the thumb swelled up to the size of two thumbs and I started paying attention. (For a little thing that was a PITA, we use our thumbs so much.)

  50. Al Lo*

    My husband and I are finally getting around to getting our Nexus cards for easier border crossings. We go between Canada and the U.S. a few times a year — at least 2 or 3 times; some years, more — so the $50 for 5 years seemed more than worth it.

    There are no interview slots at my airport for many months, however, so we have our interviews in about a week and a half at the nearest border crossing, about 3 hours away (it was either that, or in December at the next nearest international airport, about 3 hours in the other direction). I realized today that probably the biggest industry in the tiny border town is collecting packages for Canadians, and I should place a big online order of things that have exorbitant shipping to Canada, or are stupidly expensive here — and sure enough, Google tells me that there are at least 3 or 4 different places that will let me ship my package to them and charge me about $5 for the service.

    For instance, after the conversation about the Breeze litter system, we switched our cat over and love it! However, the pellets are about 4x more expensive in Canada, so I’m ordering a big bulk order to bring back with us. I do love Canada, but man, do I ever miss online shopping in the States. It was so much easier and cheaper when I lived there.

    1. periwinkle*

      I’ve got Nexus (Washington State resident). Last week I took a long drive through the Canadian Rockies then returned to the US via the Abbotsford crossing. According to the electronic signage the wait was about 20 minutes. I breezed through the empty Nexus lane, fielded 3 questions from the guard, and was across the border in about a minute.

      Oh, that explains the shipping stores immediately south of the border!

      Definitely a long wait for interviews. There was a 3-month wait at an interview slot at the airport but next-day availability in a town closer to the border. It was only a 90-minute drive so easy decision. For US citizens, the Nexus card is $50 but gives you the expedited Canadian land/sea crossing plus all the benefits of PreCheck and, if I recall correctly, Global Entry.

      1. Al Lo*

        Yeah, we applied in May or June. There still aren’t any slots available in our city, and another 2 months for the next closest airport. I’ve been meaning to get it for years, but this was finally the year to take care of it.

        The card is also $50 for Canadian residents, and since it’s charged in local currency, ends up being a little cheaper for us, since our dollar sucks right now. :) Glad it wasn’t $50 USD.

    2. DragoCucina*

      My husband and I have Global Entry. The airport 90 minutes from us didn’t have slots for months. We opted to drive 4 hours to larger airport. We ended up arriving extremely early for our appointment. Everyone was very nice, took us early and we were done in 15 minutes. It’s saved us much line waiting and well worth the trouble.

  51. Me*

    My husband calls me a “picky eater” because I am gluten-free and generally prefer healthy foods. I’m not cool with “just stopping at McDonald’s” and I don’t eat much junk food. Sometimes, on road trips for example, this means my dietary preferences can be a sticking point.

    However, there is not a single ingredient on the planet that I don’t eat and enjoy, other than wheat/barley/rye (the gluten foods). I eat all vegetables, all fruits, all types of meat, all types of ethnic foods. I can whip myself up a meal with anything available in the pantry and don’t mind hodgepodge dinners. I will try literally anything. I just prefer food with some level of quality instead of crappy takeout pizza or whatever.

    My husband, on the other hand, can easily eat in stadiums or gas stations or roadside stops with nothing but fast food restaurants. He is “easy” in that regard. But he will often turn up his nose at some vegetable dish I have cooked, and won’t eat leftovers.

    So which one of us is the picky eater? ;)

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      It actually doesn’t sound as if either of you is a picky eater. I know people who are so picky they eat seriously only one or two things.

      Even I am much pickier than both of you.

      1. Temperance*

        That level of selective eating is really the exception. I’ve been told I’m “picky”, with an air of judgment, because I don’t eat mayo or mayo-based products, and because I have a food allergy to certain kinds of peppers and eat none of them.

    2. Temperance*

      I think it’s silly to call someone “picky”, because it implies a level of superiority for “adventurous” eaters, that I just don’t agree with. So I’m going to say you’re either both picky, or neither of you is picky.

      I don’t think people who will “try anything” are somehow above those who won’t or don’t.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Also, for many of us actual “picky” eaters, it isn’t just that we’re not adventurous—what they’re asking us to eat is actually disgusting, as in I would feel like throwing up if I ate meat (I have actually thrown up because of it, many times when I was younger). Even the smell makes me feel nauseated. I’m not just saying “Oh, that’s not my favorite, so I’m going to refuse to eat it.”

    3. Cristina in England*

      You each have your own food preferences like anyone else, but I am giving your husband some side-eye for disparaging yours as picky eating, rather than respecting your differences. I get frustrated with my husband for not liking the things I want to cook, but I just save those things up for when he wont be home for dinner. I certainly don’t criticise him for it!

    4. Lizabeth*

      Neither…how about taking topic off the table completely between the two of you? The SO won’t touch or try many types of food and I learned to let it go BUT I don’t cater to him either. I’ll make stuff that I love for my lunches now and if he objects to a dinner menu, he knows where the peanut butter, salad fixings, eggs and soup is in the kitchen. He is always welcome to cook dinner but doesn’t do that every often. I generally will cook on the weekends, eat lunch as my main meal during the week and have started making smoothies for dinner for myself since I can’t wait to eat when SO gets home 7-8 pm. I’d be head first in the frig grazing if I did.

    5. Mephyle*

      Also, if it can be applied to your husband: creamy, cheesy sauces have converted many a “I’m not a picky eater, that just isn’t a tasty dish” non-vegetable–eating man.

    6. Overeducated*

      I think you are both picky. When someone refuses to eat an entire type of meal that causes others inconvenience to avoid whether it’s “junk” food, “ethnic” food, or leftovers, that’s what I consider picky. (Allergies and medical conditions are exempt because they are not preferences.)

    7. Not So NewReader*

      At least you don’t waste your leftovers.

      I hope he is teasing and not actually making a fuss.

    8. Stellaaaaa*

      I think you’re both kind of picky :/

      Your husband won’t eat vegetables. You won’t eat travel-friendly foods while traveling.

    9. misspiggy*

      To sidestep the question a bit, why would your glutenfreeness be a problem on road trips? Presumably you’d take food with you, on the basis that you’re unlikely to find what you need on the road, and wouldn’t balk at keeping your husband company at a junk food stop.

  52. Gala apple*

    I’m thinking of moving to the Raleigh/Durham area (from Charlottesville VA). Any insights into that area, or suggestions of things to consider when I go on exploratory trips?

    Reasons for moving: Cville is a temporary home, it’s great but not my tribe; there’s a lot more Jews in the Triangle; growing young population there; desire to try something new and not be too far of a drive from family.

    1. Anon for this*

      I’m a Raleigh native. What are you hoping to find here? Will you be moving with an SO and/or kids?

      1. Gala apple*

        Single (looking for a guy). What I’d love is a real community feeling and a deep sense of place. Not sure how much of that has to do with the actual place vs me. :/

        I’m into learning (podcasts/books/classes/free lectures), cooking, being outdoors, oldthings, history, music…

        1. I NC You There*

          I’ve lived in the Raleigh area for two years, and I’m Jewish. And one thing I can definitely tell you is that if I had moved here single and seriously looking (I have a long-term partner), I would have hated it. Granted, I’m in my late 30s, but all of my single girlfriends find it very difficult to date. The great thing is that the community can be very welcoming, and there’s a ton of stuff to do, but I’ve just found it to be a very coupled city. Durham is a little different– and Durham is not for me. I like it, and I think it has a lot to offer in terms of activities and restaurants (amazing restaurants!) but Durham is way too hipster-ish for me. Raleigh suits me very well. YMMV, of course! If I were younger, especially fresh out of college, I’d be in Durham where it’s “cooler”. I am not cool. :)

          We moved here so my partner could start a PhD program. We came down on two scouting trips and found a lovely house and just explored for a couple of weekends. He found friends through his program, I had to dig a little deeper (though I’m pretty close to some of his colleagues and the wives/partners of his colleagues). I met my best girlfriends here through my synagogue (I met one and she introduced me to others)– it’s definitely a place where you have to seek out your niche. In terms of the Jewish community, it’s not highly visible but it’s strong. It’s also mostly made of up people from the Northeast! However, there is not a single kosher deli in the Raleigh area. You have to go to Charlotte for good deli. They’re trying, but no one has succeeded yet. Barbecue? Yes indeed. Great Lebanese food? Very easy to find. (There’s a large Lebanese-American community in the Triangle.) Knishes? Not so much.

          Moving from a place like Charlottesville will probably be pretty easy in terms of adjustment– we moved from New York City. We were amazed at how cheap things were, but now things have equalized for us and it doesn’t feel quite so cheap! I do find it much more diverse than I ever expected, and people tend to be remarkably friendly.

          1. Gala apple*

            This is so helpful, thank you! Interesting perspective about it being hard on the single ladies to find guys to date. Off topic and somewhat rhetorical, what is a good place to live to find marriageable Jewish guys? Leh sigh.

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              Well, the BEST place to find a lot of Jewish guys is Israel. And there are plenty in New York, New Jersey, Boston, Chicago, etc. Atlanta too. But if I may… find a place you want to live, where you’ll make friends and be happy and build a life, irrespective of your dating prospects. I’m not saying, “He’ll come along when you least expect it,” I’m saying, “He may never come along, so build a life that makes you satisfied and happy.” It’s a very Jewish concept– make sure you take care of yourself before you look outward. Besides, you could look in every nook and cranny of a city for all the dateable Jewish men and then end up meeting the love of your life who happens to be in town on vacation.

    2. Triangle Resident*

      I’ve lived in Carrboro & Durham. Carrboro is very laid-back, lots of Earth Mother & Father types. I loved it but it became too expensive.

      Durham is quirky and fun and has a wide variety of ethnic restaurants. (Not that one is the cause of the other!)

      The local music scene in the Triangle is fresh and vibrant; there are music festivals in the summer. And several independent bookstores with an amazing range of author visits.

      If you buy organic food, check out Weaver Street Market; there are several now, but the original store is in Carrboro. There are also Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, but WSM is community-owned.

      It is much easier to find kosher food here now than it was 30 years ago. The variety of foods still leaves something to be desired, and if there is a good deli here I’ve yet to find it. That’s one of the few drawbacks, though!

      All in all, it’s a great place to live.

    3. 6+ years in RDU*

      I love it here. There’s so much to do. Always interesting events, great shows, and fantastic food. I think you’d find most of what you’re looking for here (learning, history, music, outdoors…). Finding that sense of community might be tougher though. It’s a pretty big area so I don’t get a tight community vibe overall, but if you got involved with smaller groups (e.g., young Jews) I bet you could find your sense of community. If that community feeling is very important to you then you might like Hillsborough or Carrboro. You might even get some of it in Apex or Holly Springs.

      The population has really exploded and if it continues to grow at this rate the area could have a different vibe to it in coming years. They’re constantly knocking down trees and building new subdivisions and shopping centers. Just something to keep in mind. Also, I think traffic is pretty terrible but it’s all relative; people who are used to worse think there is no traffic here.

    4. formerRaleighresident*

      Do you know whereabouts/at what companies you would be looking for work? I lived in downtown Raleigh for 4 years and commuted to downtown Durham for that time (my husband could walk to work, so this let us be a 1 car household–something that is hard in NC). This was only doable because I was at work 7-3:30/4. Doing that commute during peak hours really would have been unpleasant. So if you think you’d work in say, RTP, you’d be better off aiming for Durham than Raleigh. If you’d be looking for something in government, Raleigh’s much better. So keep that in mind when looking for a place.

      I really did like living in downtown Raleigh, but I’m a city person and I don’t much like suburbs. I also hear that the downtown rents have gone WAY up since I left 3 years ago (I had a 3 bedroom house for $1200/month).

      1. I NC You There*

        Oh yeah, rents have shot way up. Our house is near State (we’re also a 1-car household) and we pay $1650 for a 2 bed/2 bath. And that’s an amazing deal– the house next door to us is on the market for nearly $700k (they won’t get it, but they’ll get close). We looked at some of the newer fancy apartment buildings when we came to find housing and while I found them inexpensive compared to NYC ($1750 for a 2-br in Glenwood), they’re not cheap and they’re getting to be less so.

      2. Gala apple*

        Eeek sounds expensive! Helpful to consider as well. Probably not in government… I’m doing some research now but haven’t found a ton of jobs that fit my skills and desired pay range. I’d love to work for a smaller start-up that is post early-start-up stage… I’m really good at customer service and problem solving. I want to be directly involved with people, and I like creating things. Any ideas are helpful! :)

    5. Autumn*

      I am a female POC and I am from the triangle- born here, went to college, and graduate school here in the area. Chapel Hill is best bet if you want to recreate the Charlottesville vibe, but like Charlottesville- very university focused. Yes, there are graduate students, but the undergrad scene really runs the town. I personally would not live there, I think Raleigh or Durham is better. I’ve volunteered in downtown Raleigh, and really surprisingly liked it, it is definitely evolving and getting more urbane- but also more expensive. I prefer Durham to Raleigh, just because it is a bit less conservative, cheaper and Durham feels more diverse. Carrboro is very very hipster, but fun. Strong latino communities there as well. Places in Orange county like Pittsboro and Hillsborough are options too- but not urban enough for me. I personally hate Cary- yes, it is very manicured and clean, but just dry and feels like a large suburb. I think Cary has a lot of Indian restaurants which are worth a try. I say explore downtown areas of both Raleigh and Durham (museum 21 hotel, durham hotel are both smack dab in the middle of downtown) to get a feel for the robust parts of the cities. And eat out a lot, both cities have great, affordable restaurants – Toast is great lunch spot in Durham, drinks at Fullsteam, Motorco, the Raleigh Ashley Christensen restaurants in particular are great, and Trophy Pizza is fun casual eating.

      1. Gala apple*

        Thank you so much! Your descriptions of the diffierent cities/towns are really helpful. I’ll check out those restaurants!

      2. Little Miss Cranky Pants*

        Former Raleigh/Apex resident here and I have to echo the comment above about growth and subdivisions. It was a key reason I left the area, honestly. Wake County is going for a larger tax base to sustain government services to serve the larger population they need for the larger tax base to sustain government service, blah blah blah.
        Plus, the more folks move there, the more expensive the whole are gets. If you’re a singleton with a single income of less than, say, 35K, you won’t be able to afford to live in a neighborhood where you feel safe. Rents increased 25% in the 5 years I lived there, and a 1/1 in a decent area will run you at least $1300.

        Sorry, I’m agnostic and know nothing about any religious communities.

        When you come down to visit, definitely check out both of the downtowns_ Raleigh and Durham, and spend an afternoon in Pittsboro, just for fun.

        Good luck with your move!

  53. Cat steal keyboard*

    I just read the cupcake posts linked in ‘you may also like’ and now I seem to have something in my eye. Wow.

    1. Jean*

      I just reread that update. Yes, something in the eye. Thanks for the reminder to believe in humanity. Nice contrast to our current diet of crazy domestic news (U.S. presidential election, need I say more?) and disastrous or murderous foreign news (assorted wars, execution-happy or money-grubbing dictators, extreme weather incidents causing damage & suffering, etc.).

  54. Mimmy*

    This rash is driving me CRAZY!!!!

    This is something that happens to me every few years – I get a fairly widespread rash with no clear-cut cause, and it hangs around for a good while. This current outbreak will hit two weeks tomorrow and possibly getting worse.

    Late into the first week, my PCP put me on a cream and a Medrol pack. I thought it was starting to get a little better earlier this week but in the past couple of days, it’s been spreading on my legs and maybe other small spots. Saw the PCP yesterday for a follow-up and other than continuing with the cream and Benadryl (finished the Medrol on Tuesday), she didn’t really say much, but agreed with me that a dermatologist is the next step. One hitch: We are leaving for a week-long trip on Monday. Couple that with the fact that getting a short-notice dermatology appointment is next to impossible, and I’m sunk! We got one for the 26th, but I have an all-day training that day so I may cancel that.

    I don’t know what to do!!! I can’t figure out why this is still spreading – I switched to a dye and perfume-free laundry soap, same for the body wash, stopped my cream – nothing is helping!! My dad, who’s a doctor, thinks it may be autoimmune. He’s probably right – why else would I get this every few years with no apparent cause?? I can’t even stand to have anything touch my rashes, i.e. clothes or bedding.

    Waaaahhhh :'(

    1. Clever Name*

      Is there some local plant that blooms every few years maybe?? That’s so weird. I’ve gotten unexplained rashes a few times. Luckily it was fairly minor.

    2. Chocolate Coffeepot*

      Is your rash itchy? My sympathies if it is!

      Have you tried other brands of perfume and dye-free detergent? There is something that I react to in All-Free & Cheer-Free, but I can use Tide-Free. Also, are you using commercial products or ones with natural ingredients? My dermatologist has told me that natural ingredients can be harsher for people with skin sensitivities, which is totally counter-intuitive. Do you use anti-static sheets in the dryer? They have enough fragrance that using them cancels out the benefits of the detergent for me.

      Best wishes figuring this out — it can be difficult because there are so many possible causes.

      1. V dub*

        Yes, I had a rash in my armpits for a year from my natural deoderants! Disappearing with the switch back to Dove.

      2. Mimmy*

        The brand we got is Arm & Hammer – I’m beginning to wonder if that’s the cause, yet my husband doesn’t think so. The previous brand we had was Tide, and I was fine with that.

        If it is the A&H brand, I’ll cry because we got a GIANT bottle :(

          1. Mimmy*

            We’re doing laundry now in preparation for our trip this week, and hubby is using Tide pods and Oxi-clean. Yes he is using the extra rinse setting. Then, I’m going to do some of my stuff in Woolite.

      3. Mimmy*

        Also – I used the Aveeno oatmeal bath earlier in the week, going on the rave online reviews. Yet, I think it made me itchier.

    3. Yetanotherjennifer*

      I’m sorry! Do oatmeal baths help? It won’t fix the problem but it might make you more comfortable short term and most hotels have a bathtub. Hopefully you aren’t going camping!

      Call the dermatologist, explain the situation to the scheduler and ask to be put on the cancellation list. Hopefully at the top since this is short term. Tell them you will move heaven and earth to get there if something opens up. Also, does the dermatologist work with a nurse or assistant and is their schedule more manageable?

      1. Mimmy*

        No, I think the oatmeal bath made my skin feel itchier!

        We’re traveling to New Mexico this week – I’m hoping the dry air helps. Otherwise, I may have to try to get in to a dermatologist out there because I don’t think I can wait until next week. Plus, I have a two-day training on the 25th & 26th that I’d really like to not miss.

  55. chickabiddy*

    I love my cats, but I think it’s a good thing they are indoor cats with food dishes. I live in an old house in a rural area, so we get crickets inside the house. The cats are fascinated by them, but they just bat at them. One of them even carries the crickets around in his mouth and then puts them down and watches them limp away. They are not excellent hunters.

    1. Not Karen*

      My cats are the same… They love to play with flies and ants and stare at spiders. If one of them encountered a predator in the wild, I figure he would try to befriend it.

    2. Amadeo*

      Yes. I lived in a ground floor apartment close to fields in central IL a few years ago. I have two indoor frumps. I ended up with a mouse at one point and they chased the thing around the house to the point of driving me crazy.

      Until they finally cornered it and then they both sat there and stared at it. They had no idea how to proceed from there.

    3. Dynamic Beige*

      This is why you should never dump domestic house cats out in “the wild” to “return them to nature, where they belong.” Says the person who has gotten 4 cats that way.

      My current cats were dumped off in this area about 5 years ago. They were about 3 years and 6 months at the time (I think). I don’t think they hunted while they were outside and mooched food from whoever would feed them. Since I decided to keep them, they stay inside and they have no interest in catching/killing any bugs, which is sad because that would be helpful. They like to play with toys and my boy really likes fabric mice. He will pick one up in his mouth and shake his head and just generally play the Mighty Hunter, but I think if he was confronted with an *actual* mouse, he wouldn’t know what to do with it.

      FWIW, having crickets in your house is supposed to be good luck.

    4. KR*

      My cat doesn’t even notice bugs. We got a small family of ants move in a few years ago and I tried to point them out to my cat to get her to go after them (they were drawn to her food after all) but she just didn’t even notice them even when I pointed to them. Sometimes she’ll look at bigger bugs and sniff them and poke them but she doesn’t care to catch them.

    5. Perse's Mom*

      Of all the cats that have lived in my mom’s house, the two best hunters were both tiny, front-declawed (not my choice) female cats.

      The male cats – which were indoor-outdoor and not declawed – were lazy butts.

    1. Coffee Ninja*

      I love my Manduka mat. I’ve tried a bunch and it’s the most non-slippy. It’s also a pretty good thickness.

  56. SL #2*

    This is the most ridiculous problem to have in the world, but I got a new phone today when I wasn’t expecting to get a new phone today, and now I don’t have a case for it and it’s really bothering me. Best Buy had a paltry selection and I don’t have time to order one on Amazon because I leave for NYC in like 4 days and I need a case on my phone before then. Urgh.

      1. SL #2*

        I got the phone at T-Mobile but didn’t get the case because their selection was limited and also $$$$$$

    1. Newish Reader*

      I had a similar situation not long ago. I didn’t like any of the cases I could find locally. I bought an inexpensive one locally just to have the protection short-term and then ordered from Amazon what I wanted for long-term

      1. SL #2*

        Yep, stopped by Target today, grabbed a $5 one to hold me over until the actual choice I want can get to me!

      1. SL #2*

        I’m only in NYC for like 4 days so I’m not actually sure if it’ll even get there before I leave on Monday morning. But I did get a cheap $5 case at Target to hold me over until my Amazon order gets to me.

    2. Dynamic Beige*

      Rig up something temporary and look for one in NYC. I’m sure they’ll have pretty much whatever case you want in NYC.

      You might also try going to a Verizon/ATT/whatever wireless carrier store and see what they have on the shelves. Probably won’t be as cheap as on Amazon, but you’ll have it in time for your trip.

      1. SL #2*

        I have 2-day shipping at Best Buy so ideally they’ll have my chosen case in stock by… Tuesday morning? Fingers crossed!

  57. Kali*

    Does anyone have a recommendation for a good pair of earbuds? At this point, I’ve spent a pretty penny on cheap earbuds that (a few years back) used to be awesome but are now not so great – Sony, I believe. I need something that blocks out outside noise, since I use them most when I need to play music for tasks that require concentration. But I’d also like to use them for running. I really like how the Sonys feel (soft, squishy silicone). I don’t mind buying two pairs (one for office, one for running), but I want them to last, so I also don’t mind spending some actual money on this.

    1. Cristina in England*

      If you google: wirecutter and earbuds you’ll find links to different earbud articles they’ve posted at different price points. Definitely would be my first stop!

    2. Sandra Dee*

      I have a couple that I cannot live without. I have really liked the Yurbuds for running. They have different sized ear thingies, which are good for small ears. Then my sister got me a pair of Plantronics Bluetooth headphones, and they are now my go to pair, because there are no cords! The yurbuds start around $30, and the plantronics around $80. Totally worth the investment.

    3. Misc*

      There are dozens of brands, and honestly, they’re always changing makes and models, so ignore that.

      If you can go look at them in person, look for
      a) earbud styles you like
      b) the soft plastic wires, not that hard ones – that’s where the worst of the deterioration sets in first (I lost most earbuds to internal wire damage and I wear them constantly). They’ll cost 2-3 times more, but they’ll last a LOT longer. I go through cheap ones in a month, literally, and pricier ones last me a year or more (until the cat chews through them or I catch them on something :D )
      c) decent sound range. You want decent bass, but don’t worry about memorising anything, just compare the specs on the cheap ones and the pricey ones ;D

      1. Misc*

        Forgot the end of my sentence…

        “… so ignore that unless you find a very up to date review and know exactly what you’re looking for”.

    4. Lizabeth*

      I love my Griffin Tune Buds for comfort. My main beef with them is on the jack end where the wire goes in doesn’t hold up well. Like only hearing on one side or not work at all unless it’s held a certain way (think convoluted postures like with the old rabbit ears for tv) They do travel protected in my work backpack – wrapped around a cute holder and put in a pouch with the USB wire but that seems to be a weak point.

    5. Gene*

      Since your goal is noise isolation, look at the Etymotic Research line. They are actual rated hearing protection and I use then anyplace I’d wear hearing protection and I want to listen to something.

      I use the mc3 with 3-flange eartips. And I’ve been using them regularly for about 4 years.

      1. It happens*

        I second this. They’re pricy but worth it. I have really small ear canals so I need a soft rubber earbud (cannot fit the apple earbuds into my ear, at all) and the etymotic fit, sound good, have volume/start/stop control on the cord and have replaceable ear pieces.

  58. Applesauced*

    I bought tickets to a show with 3 friends. There was a lot of back and forth about when to go, and we finally found a date that worked for us all, and I bought the tickets then told everyone what they owed (about $50).

    My friend Cait is on a work trip that got extended, and can no longer attend. (She’s hasn’t mentioned this, one of the other friends pointed this out, and I haven’t heard a thing from Cait)
    I’m trying to find someone to buy the extra ticket, but haven’t had any luck so far.
    If I can’t find someone, can I ask Cait to pay for her unused ticket?

    1. shorty*

      Yes, definitely, assuming she clearly indicated that you should get a ticket for her. Same thing happened to me once, also for about $50, so I feel your pain. In my case I didn’t ask for the money (I thought it was easier to just suck it up) but I think you’re more than justified to do it.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I’d probably talk to Cait directly about it. “Cait, Francie said your work trip got extended. Will you not be able to make the show? What do you want me to do with your ticket?”

  59. Caledonia*

    A few weekends ago, there was a thread about friends and them bring their boyfriends to get togethers when it was supposed to be one on one with the female friend. I followed the thread as I had the same thing going on with one of my friends.

    It did not go well.

    My friend’s and I are Gilmore Girls fans and made plans to meet up and watch the new episodes the weekend they come out and then earlier this week one of them mentioned bringing her boyfriend (he watches it too) and I said, I thought it would just be us, as in a girl thing? My friend replied that they come as a package.

    So, after sighing, I said if the option is not seeing her and her bringing her boyfriend, I’d rather see them both.

    It’s just not what I wanted, you know? Like, they *are* individual people and I like her boyfriend but is it such a crime to ask to see my friend singularly!? (apparently, yes it is).

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      It is not. A crime, that is. “We come as a package”? Ugh. I call bs on that. Granted, I default to, “He’s not invited,” and also to, “I want some girl time, stay home, honey,” so I do not understand that package crap. I mean, yes, formal events, parties, dinners, etc., but when a girlfriend calls and mentions we haven’t seen each other in a while, it’s a one-on-one deal.

      All I can say is that I’m sorry and your friend is being a total dolt. You have every right to want some time with a good friend.

    2. Snazzy Hat*

      I hope the boyfriend is as big of a Gilmore Girls fan as the rest of y’all are. If not, I hope he insists on not coming along. Yeesh.

    3. MissDisplaced*

      No. It’s not unreasonable at all.
      You see this with moms too. You would think they’d enjoy a night out with just the girls sans-kids, but a lot… just won’t (or maybe can’t). They feel if their kids are not welcome, then they are not welcome.

      1. chickabiddy*

        Sometimes parents don’t have childcare. I have declined social invitations because my child was not welcome. I understood and was not upset/hurt/bothered, but it wasn’t about “if she’s not welcome then I must not be either” as much as it was “I can’t leave a toddler home alone so I’ll have to pass on this.”

    4. Amadeo*

      This kind of thing used to drive me crazy. My circle of friends is so small now that it doesn’t come up much anymore, but in high school/college there were a couple of times I nearly went out of my mind with irritation at my friends, wanting to spend some time with them and make plans, only to have them cancel on me last minute because boyfriend wants to do something else or to ask if boyfriend can come along.

      Seriously, y’all aren’t joined at the hip, I want to see *you* not your man. So no, it’s not a crime to ask to see your friend without her boyfriend along as an accessory.

    5. Elkay*

      I had the opposite the other week, met up with a friend and she was surprised my other half didn’t come out too, I pointed out there’s always a risk we’ll turn it into a therapy session about our old workplace and he doesn’t want to sit through that.

    6. ginger ale for all*

      If it is a pattern, then I would have a different response but if that is one of their go to shows then I can see his coming along. For instance, my ex and I loved Firefly and if I was invited to a Firefly party, I would do my best to get him invited as well. But if say perhaps he comes along to a Jane Austen party and he is not a fan, then I would see your questioning it.

    7. Stellaaaaa*

      That stuff is so, well, quietly sinister in its way. It’s a major reason why so many women give up on trying to nurture their female friendships and instead focus on dating as a main way of gaining any social interaction. And then the cycle continues.

      1. Anon for now*

        My friends were the clingy type as in, “zomg, I can’t leave him alone otherwise he’ll look at another girl, fall in love with her and leave meee!” type. They would hang out with me one-on-one when they were dating, but they would spend the whole time on the phone with the guy! Um, hello? I would come back home and my mom would ask, “So, how is so-and-so doing? What do you mean you don’t know, you just saw her?” Um, yeah, she was on the phone the whole time, so we didn’t really get a chance to talk much.

  60. Sorgatani*

    Back from a whirlwind of a weekend… pics and links to be added to a reply – uploading a few pics from phone to photobucket in another tab.

    Lacuna Coil, freakin’ amazing.
    The opening acts were
    Drown This City – apparently they’re quite recent, and started out in Melbourne. I liked them, but didn’t get any photos. Hadn’t seen any other people taking pics so I didn’t know they were allowed at that point.
    Female vocalist, energized sound.
    Orpheus Omega – they seem to be slightly more established, but what stood out to me was the keytar, and the manly bun that the vocalist came out sporting. It even tried to escape mid headbang and he fixed it. Facefull of scruff and a manly bun, suffice it to say the hair did not remain contained. Melodic death metal.
    THEN there was Lacuna Coil, who were fantastic. The house mixing was decent; heavy on the bass is to be expected, but some clubs have the bass so heavy that it makes me feel sick. My guts are so not rock ‘n roll.

    What was really awesome and unexpected about the night was how amazing the rest of the audience was. I hadn’t put much thought into anybody else attending, and I spent a bit of time worrying about what I’d wear, because I don’t typically attend these things. In the end, I decided to wear jeans and one of my favorite t-shirts – teeturtle’s “Dark Side of the Eevee” (well, I think they call it evolution spectrum, it’s a dark side of the moon parody anyway) because it’s the closest thing to a band shirt I own.
    But the audience’ age ranged from 18 to over 50, and they were dressing and acting like regular people. Made me feel so glad that I was in regular stuff too. Somebody went to stand almost but not quite in front of where I was, and asked if they were blocking my view (they weren’t) – and I had a good view for the whole night. They have a ‘selfie with the audience’ thing at the end of the set, and I looked it up… my friend and I are behind the lights.
    Then it was home again on Friday arvo, I attempted to get an early night and then set back out on Saturday morning.
    I did costume up for AMC (Australian Music and Comics Expo); I dressed as the character Virgo from Fairy Tail.
    This costume was relatively easy to develop a concept for, I’d been planning it for ages but not gotten all the pieces together until now.
    Pink Wig (obtained a few conventions prior but hadn’t been worn yet)
    Handcuffs/shackles (got lucky finding them, there were plastic stocks with a collar at the local toy/costume shop – removed the collar and the rest was good to go)
    Maid Costume (any maid costume would probably suffice, I went with a frilly ‘French Maid’, which required the last part;
    Leggings (a deviation from character, but a necessary measure for taking public transport for any length of time/distance)
    I received a few compliments on my costume, and I had a chance to talk to some artists and authors ^_^
    I didn’t get a photo, but I did talk to the creator of the mask. It was a glorious thing, cute and creepy as anything – but apparently it’s REALLLLLLY hard to see out of. And $200 AUD >.<
    Photos to follow ^_^

    1. Sorgatani*

      Review of Thursdays’ concert, to which I agree wholeheartedly:

      My cosplay character:
      Virgo, the maid.
      Me as Virgo. My niece took the photo.

      Dalek UFO

      The INTERNET!

      Didn’t end up with many other notable pics, just some nice memories.

    2. Sorgatani*

      Wondering about the wrist?
      Not quite healed, I have it in the wrist guard most of the time. Double padded for concert just in case.
      I used a wheelie case for an overnight bag, and also used it to transport my purchases. Pretty heavy/full by the end, and I mostly used my left if it needed lifting, and my right… carefully. Straight up, and tried not to slant it, but the wrist reminded me why I wasn’t supposed to be using it a few times.
      I can’t hold my palm flat for more than 3 seconds without it aching, which is bothering me a bit when it comes to smallchange. I was trying to put coins in a tip jar, and the coins tried to wedge themselves under the guard!
      That was awkward, but maybe I noticed it more than anyone else did.

      Oh, and nephew’s cousin broke his arm pretty badly this week – way worse than mine. Sis-in-law told his mum about my iron man gauntlet for when he’s up to it. Poor kid’s had his share of injuries already, pretty adventurous. Here’s hoping he has a swift but thorough recovery.

  61. MissDisplaced*

    I don’t want to talk politics on here, but man, aren’t you just sick and tired of this election crap? I am so done. I can’t even go on Facebook anymore without seeing all the posts from old high school acquaintances, many of which are so nasty. Just UGH!

    1. Not Karen*

      I’m tired of walking down to the street to “Are you registered to vote? Are you registered to vote??? ARE YOU REGISTERED TO VOTE!!??”

      1. the gold digger*

        Not only would being harassed annoy me, but I would also be thinking, “Anyone who is this close to the election who has not bothered to register clearly is not engaged in the system and I really don’t want that person just blindly casting a vote.”

        (I was working as a poll worker and saw this guy standing at the booth and calling his mother for advice on whom to vote for. I swear I wanted to rip that ballot out of his hands and yell, “YOU DIDN’T EVEN BOTHER TO DO YOUR RESEARCH BEFORE YOU CAME HERE?”)

        1. Florida*

          Many of the people are registered to vote, but they need to update their information. The people who are out registering can also use the same form to update your information. Maybe you were registered with one party, but because of things a candidate did, you wanted to change your party. I could see how that might have happened in this election.

      2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        Really? Getting folks registered seems so incredibly inoffensive to me. Those folks are doing important work!

        1. Not Karen*

          Really? Harassing people on the street is inoffensive? And it gets people registered who wouldn’t have otherwise?

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            It’s hardly harassing people to ask as they pass by if they’re registered to vote! Certainly if someone follows you and won’t stop talking to you after you ask them to, that’s different — but that’s not what voter registration work usually entails!

            And it does indeed get huge numbers of people registered who otherwise wouldn’t have voted. That’s why campaigns put so much effort into it.

            A lot of policies that people here seem to want to see (around workplace law, but more broadly too) would probably be voted into law if everyone eligible to vote actually did, so doing the work to register more people and get them voting is a good thing.

          2. Anon for this*

            Are they doing something more aggressive or involved than “Are you registered to vote at your current address?” where you live? Because I have to say that I haven’t seen this rise to the level of street harassment.

      3. Pershing48*

        Oh, I’m guessing you live in a swing state where people care about your vote?

        I’m the opposite, I live in a district that consistently votes the opposite way the state votes, and the district was specially drawn to make sure and contain all those “opposite” voters, so there’s very little doubt which way we’ll vote.

        Our House rep is pretty safe too, so I almost want to vote for the third-party candidate just because he’s hilarious. One of his planks is to have a new anti-corruption law where failure to investigate corruption charges is a crime by itself, punishable with six months mandatory hard labor.

        But there’s not any good referendum’s this year either, just an amendment to change who can fire a particular county official in what I think is a skirmish between City and County governments.

    2. Temperance*

      I’m from the greater Scranton area. You may or may not have seen the Daily Show clip with Jordan Klepper interviewing all those NEPA jerks. I feel like I need to apologize to everyone I know now for my past affiliation.

    3. Yetanotherjennifer*

      I was saying this just this morning. I want it over and done. I just can’t take another thing to get outraged over. Another article that deepens the divide by insulting the other side. Another phone poll. Another door to door canvasser. Another thing to roll my eyes over. Another moment of worrying over what happens if the other candidate wins. I want to be there already so I can start to deal with it.

    4. Seeking Happiness*

      We get lots of door-to-door political supporters and just put a sign on our door yesterday “We have already voted-please do not disturb.” Hope that works! I have been inactive on Facebook for over a year and am now avoiding my twitter feed as well. Even though my feed is pretty much all people who agree with my political views I am SO tired of all the talk from all sides.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        I use Facebook as a personal tool, mainly to just see what people from the old hometown are up to and that type of thing. Usually, it’s who had babies, who died, got married, grandkids, pets, etc., etc., and other slice-of-life stuff. You know, the hometown updates.

        But ever since the election took off, I am shocked at how offensive some of the posts are by some of these same people. It just kind of surprises me. I never thought them to be bad people, but jeez, the vitriol is sometimes over-the-top. I guess maybe there was a reason why I left that said home-town?

        Just sick of it all I guess. Unfortunately, I don’t think it will stop post-election.

        1. Lizabeth*

          You can set it so their postings don’t show up on you feed without unfriendliness them…might be worth doing until after the elections

          1. Suekel*

            I have unfollowed a couple dozen otherwise sane people who seem to have lost their minds as the election approaches. Once it’s over and things have (hopefully) quieted down, I’ll re-follow some of them.

      2. ginger ale for all*

        I think that early voting will be the way for me this year. When I have voted in elections that are in the years when a president is being elected, I have been in line for more than an hour. I definitely want to not do that this time. My state registered a record amount of voters this time and after all the election chatter, I want it to be done with quickly and easily.

    5. Mimmy*

      Oh god YES!!!! It’s been so incredibly ugly this cycle. Yes, on both sides. But I do know who I’m voting for.

      My problem is that I tend to be easily swayed, so I’m trying reallllllly hard not to let anyone convince me why I should vote for the candidate I don’t want to vote for *coughparentscough*.

      As for the “register to vote” campaigns: While I don’t believe in hounding people as Not Karen describes, I do think it is important to register so that you at least have a say.

      1. Mazzy*

        I tend to be easily swayed but am not going to let it happen this time. I keep telling myself, everything we need to know to vote, we knew months ago, for the most part. Yes, there are the HRC wikileaks and more Trump comments from years ago, but most of those are continuations of trends we already knew about. I think its important not to let whatever the last incident or piece of information or development be considered the most important just because it is the last.

    6. Dynamic Beige*

      I honestly do not know how Americans can stand it. Our election season is about 6 weeks from start to finish — even for the federal elections. Except when Harper was in power, then he was always running attack ads, even when no election had been called. It seems that in the States, there is always some sort of election going on. Once the presidential one is over, it will be for the senate or whatever and then two whole years before it’s time to elect a new president, it will start up again. Perhaps that’s the “down side” of having elections mandated for specific times, you can prepare for them. The Prime Minister could call for an election tomorrow if he wanted/it was politically expedient and while there is speculation that an election might be called, until it is announced, it’s not happening. There are limits, the PM has to call for one within 5 years of the previous election and apparently they changed the law (each general election is to take place on the third Monday in October in the fourth calendar year after the previous poll) so maybe in the future we will have similar stuff going on up here.

      1. Catherine from Canada*

        Another Canuck chiming in to say I don’t know how you can stand it. I’m tired of it all and I don’t even live there!
        Actually, I am honestly worried about the outcome; as far as I can see it doesn’t really matter who wins, there’s going to be unrest and outrage over the results. Worse than hanging chads outrage.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Me too, and a little nervous. I don’t think I will be able to relax until it’s over (and not even then, if it goes badly).

            I wrote a blog post about critical thinking — click my name for the link to my blog. So many people who don’t do this. Ugh.

        1. esra (also a Canadian)*

          Oh my goodness, I have to disagree that it doesn’t matter who wins. This is not another pick-your-poison election. It’s someone you might not agree with, vs like, actual poison. I do agree that the way things are going, it’s going to be incredibly hard for Americans to come together after the election.

          1. Mags*

            Yeah, there is going to be a HUGE difference depending who wins. Without going into too much detail, there will be true outright civil unrest if one candidate wins. And while many won’t be happy with the other candidate it’s probably not going to be much different than when Obama took office.

            1. Mazzy*

              Well, and the problem with that is that not that much different than when Obama took office (or, I think you mean, Obama being in office?) is that the past 8 years have been really bad for alot of people with the economic collapse and lack of recovery especially for middle class workers. Not to mention the increased cost of obamacare and the student debt bubble and the fact that so many of the new jobs added are low paying service jobs. Continuing with the way things are isn’t going to be OK either.

              I just came back to say that OMG, I was just on Slate, and the comments on the articles make me lose faith in humanity. So many people don’t know basic history, don’t know anything about now, don’t know what the different political parties or various groups even mean or do, but are sooooooo quick to write a bunch of nasty and sarcastic comments about the other side, and then not pretend when the other side responds with a rational and reasonable comment. This isn’t just the election, there is just a total lack of manners and critical thinking going on. Maybe people are getting into fight or flight mode because they are sick of thinking about it?

              1. Mags*

                No, I definitely meant when Obama took office. And+1 to Elizabeth’s comment. The economic collapse was Bush and began before Obama even stared running.

      2. Mags*

        I truly don’t understand it. It’s always been obnoxious (and, really, everyone is absolutely tired of it long before the primaries roll around), but it really hit home for me when May became PM what seems like overnight. I know it was a special circumstance but I was jealous beyond words. I’m really hoping with the possible changeover in congress we’ll be able to pass some laws in regards to time and financing in our elections.
        I actually appreciate mid-term elections though…

    7. Rebecca*

      I’m so tired of it. I don’t even want to vote. At least no matter what happens, I’ll still be able to go for walks, hiking, biking, will probably have a job, I will still be able to listen to audio books, and my cats will still be adorable. And since I don’t have cable TV, by choice, I don’t have to listen to all the blathering on.

      I wish we could be like other countries, and have a short election cycle. I’m just sick of all of it.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Please vote. Don’t stay home.

        I wish the same thing, really. I can’t stand to watch network TV during an election. Thank goodness everything I watch right now I can either stream or it’s on PBS. I’ll wait until later to catch up on Once Upon a Time–I can’t bear to turn on the network.

    8. Piping Plover*

      I made an innocent post on Facebook the other day, and one of my friends somehow hijacked it into some political rant. I tried to politely tell her that I was just putting something lighthearted and she was being super extreme, but she just kept beating it. Our mutual friends kept either liking my posts or interjecting to play along with me. She hasn’t answered in 24 hours; maybe she got the hint.

    9. Samantha*

      Yes. Not having cable helps – I haven’t been subjected to a single political ad. But social media, ugh. I’ve had to hide a lot of people. I have no problem with someone civilly sharing their opinion, even if I don’t agree with it. But all of the memes, personal attacks, and sharing of false information is too much. November 9 can’t get here fast enough.

      1. Mazzy*

        Two weeks ago I got a call at work. I was so busy I didn’t bother asking who was calling, and they said “can I ask you three questions” so I just said “yes.” One was “what is your biggest political issue.” The next, I can’t remember. The last was “HRC or DT?” As soon as I answered they hung up.

        Such a weird call, I almost think its just some random guy calling random #s in his area code or something

        1. Mephyle*

          It sounds like it was a poll. In which case it probably was a random call in your area code, although not the way you meant it. Proper polls have to get opinions from randomly-selected people, otherwise there is bias in the results.

    10. Clever Name*

      I hate even thinking about a certain candidate because I feel like it just gives them their narcissistic fix.

    11. Mazzy*

      I don’t mind the voting thing but what bothers me are the charities that stake out in the streets near my jobs. The same 5 charities are there almost every day and have been for the past 7 years. I don’t want to seem insensitive to the causes, especially since I give money to ASPCA and that is one of them, but don’t feel like going into how I already give money every time I walk by to every new person, and it also sounds fake to begin with like I am thinking up an excuse not to give.

      1. Jillociraptor*

        I’m very opposed to that type of fundraising in general. They are often misleading about the terms of your contributions and can be really sketchy in how they pay their canvassers. The combination of high-pressure tactics and guilt just grosses me out, especially as I learn more about fundraising and philanthropic investments as a nonprofit leader and as a board member. It’s so important for donors to do due diligence.

    12. Dot Warner*

      Ugh, yes, I’ve been avoiding social media for the last month because of all the political crap. (Yes, I know I can hide people who post political stuff. If I hid everyone who posts about politics, I wouldn’t have anyone left on my feed.) I just want to vote and get it overwith! And for a certain candidate to disappear after they lose…

  62. Aurelia*

    Hey guys! Just moved to Brooklyn. I’m thinking of getting a bike, because it seems like the fastest way to get to certain places, and it seems a lot safer with traffic than Manhattan. I thought about getting a road bike, but with winter coming up and everything, not sure if that’s practical. Is there something I should look for when looking for a bike? Or a brand/style you’d recommend? I’ll probably get something cheap on craigslist, but I want to know what to look for. Thanks!

    1. Lizabeth*

      The best thing you can do is visit several bike stores to try bikes. That way you’ll be able to make an informed decision about that size you need and what type of bike. Don’t assume it’s safer to ride in Brooklyn than Manhattan – would recommend a defensive cycling class as well. Check out various bike clubs – they usually offer classes like this. I got a hybrid bike as my first bike – a cross between a road and mountain bike that worked well for a long time since I like to do non- paved rail trails the best. BUT…it would wear me out on road rides so eventually I got a lighter road bike and use each about equally. I also have upright handlebars on both because my neck doesn’t like the downturn style. Good luck and good riding!

    2. LoFlo*

      Is there a shared community bicycle program in your area? You can usually get daily, weekly, and monthly passes. You could try biking without having to buy a bike, and see how it goes.

    3. It happens*

      Find a bike store near your new place and make friends with them. Bikes are much cheaper on Craigslist, but you can get good deals on past season bikes at a store. Having someone to talk through exactly what you want to use the bike for is invaluable. And knowing where to get it fixed, too. And don’t forget the helmet and lights. And maybe even storage solutions (mine is hanging on my wall, finally moved from my kitchen.)
      And Citibike is still expanding, so no doubt your neighborhood will get that in a few years.
      The store will also be able to hook you up with the organizations that do defensive biking classes, etc. Ride safe!

    4. Applesauced*

      Welshmen to Brooklyn! My boyfriend and several friends love biking around, I do not (but I have barley used bike for sale if you’re petite!). I got mine from EMS in Soho. They’re not around any more, but REI is and I found that chains has a better selection and prices than small stores. But I’ve also found the staff at Excelsior (Crown heights and Park Slope) to be super helpful

  63. Coffee Ninja*

    First birthday gift suggestions? Its for my friend’s baby girl. Most of her stuff is not super girly (no Disney princesses) and we did books at her baby shower.

    1. Lily Evans*

      Melissa & Doug brand toys were always a hit with my daycare kids. Their toys are all gender neutral and there’s a pretty wide range to choose from!

    2. self employed*

      Blocks that are good for 1-year olds? Balls to roll, walker toys (like a wheel to push that clacks, a push toy to walk behind, a little car to ride), puzzles, musical instruments (shake eggs, tambourine, etc.).

    3. Clever Name*

      Kids that age tend to like those stand up or walk behind toys. Bath toys are usually a hit. Stuff with wheels (for both boys and girls).

    4. Yetanotherjennifer*

      How about a wooden pull toy for when she’s walking? Or something she can push? Think ahead to where she’s going to be developmentally vs where she is right now.

    5. chickabiddy*

      It takes a while so I don’t know if you have time, and it is a book, but my daughter treasured her “My Very Own Name” book for many years. When I got it over 10 years ago it was all animals, so pretty gender-neutral. A quick look suggests that it is still the same. I will reply to myself with the link.

    6. Stellaaaaa*

      Maybe some clothes for when she’s 2 or 3, especially if she doesn’t have hand-me-downs from older siblings. One day she’ll suddenly be too big for all the stuff she has now and her parents will be glad to already have bigger stuff.

    7. V dubs*

      Yay! My nephew’s first bday was this weekend, I got him some board books (not paper pages) and a wooden xylophone that’s part of a ball-in-the-hole and hammer thing (brand is Hape). He loved it!

  64. Renfield*

    Question for Alison or anyone else who’s done the civil disobedience thing: If you’re detained by the police for protesting, does it show up in a background check? I’m thinking of getting into politics, but my industry is pretty strict about background checks and I don’t want to torpedo my career over a save the whales thing.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Simply being detained but not arrested shouldn’t show up. All arrests will show up, even if they don’t lead to a conviction (but it will show there was no conviction).

      Federal law doesn’t allow an arrest on its own to be used to take a negative employment action (like not hiring you). But an employer is allowed to ask you about the circumstances (although some state laws prohibit that).

      However, the vast, vast majority of people who engage in protests do not get arrested. Protesting on its own doesn’t violate the law. Arrests happen when people engage in deliberate law-breaking (as a form of civil disobedience), protest on private property and refuse to leave when asked to, or are dealing with police who are themselves ignoring the law. But something like a basic march with signs is highly unlikely to get you arrested.

      I’d guess that 99% of people who have engaged in political protests do so without being arrested, since the basic act of protesting is perfectly legal.

      So my question back to you would be what kind of thing you’re thinking about doing — standing with a sign, or deliberate civil disobedience? They’re two very different things.

      1. Renfield*

        I’d probably start out holding a sign, but I wanted to know about the background check thing in case I had the opportunity to be involved in something more serious.

        I started thinking about it when a relative of mine showed me this obituary on Democracy Now for a radical priest named Fr. Daniel Barrigan. He was very outspoken against the Vietnam war back in the sixties, and there was a famous incident where he and some friends stole draft files from a government building and burned them with homemade napalm. He also protested against the use of nukes during the cold war, and along with his supporters actually broke into a nuclear silo and sabotaged some warheads. I can’t remember if he did time or not.

        I don’t necessarily condone sabotage and destruction of government property, but I admire him because he wasn’t afraid to go all in for his beliefs. I have a lot of strong opinions about social and political issues today, so maybe it’s time that I start speaking up.

        Thanks for the answer, Alison.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I think it was his brother, Phillip Berrigan — also a priest — who did the nuclear warhead sabotage. He did indeed do time for it — my ex-boyfriend was one of the people with him and was in prison along with him for that! (Before we met, so he wasn’t my ex yet.) It was part of a Catholic Worker/Plowshares protest.

          There are lots of ways to speak out, though, that won’t get you arrested! The Berrigans are more extreme cases (as was my ex), but most people who are politically active don’t get arrested. Even those who engage in public protests that lead to arrest typically don’t end up with jail time. The warhead protest was a Big Deal.

        2. Florida*

          There is a municipality near me that does not allow you to stand with a sign. You can walk with a sign, but not stand still. This caused a hulabaloo recently because there were some people protesting Planned Parenthood. The ones who stood still were arrested. The ones who walked around with signs were left alone. This was a city ordinance violation.
          The police in this city were quite nice. (This is all based on media accounts, so who knows?) Apparently, the police explained the ordinance to the protesters. Some of them listened and started walking up and down the sidewalk. Some of them ignored it and stood still so they were arrested.
          I think in most cases you can call the police department and they will tell you what you can and can’t do. (You could in my city at least. Our police are pretty supportive of peaceful protests. Our white police chief marched along with the BLM folks recently.)

  65. Lizabeth*

    Music CD recommendation of the week: Chick Corea & Bela Fleck’s Two. Piano and banjo…what could be better? Saw this at the library while looking for something else.

  66. Ask a Manager* Post author

    So, a few days ago I discovered that the temperature control for our freezer had somehow turned itself all the way off, so that it wasn’t producing any cold at all. I have no idea how long it had been that way, but I’d think definitely less than 24 hours. The state of the contents was mixed: For example, some ice cubes had melted, but some were still fine. A pint of ice cream was liquified, but my husband had skirt steak in there and it was still frozen solid.

    I’m trying to figure out whether I need to throw everything out, based on the state of that ice cream, or whether everything else should be fine. (We have some tamales in there that I really do not want to get rid of.)


    1. Soupspoon McGee*

      I doubt you’ll have to toss anything. If the food is soft, you have 5-7 days to eat it. If it’s mostly solid, it’s fine. The ice cream will be fine, just hard when it refreezes–so cut your losses and make a milkshake now.

    2. Lizabeth*

      Toss whatever has thawed out (or eat…) Stuff that was wrapped well and still frozen should be okay, but I’d move it up to be eaten sooner rather than later.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        So … I don’t actually know what thawed, which is the problem. I’ve been sick and I just turned the freezer back on and went back to sleep without fully investigating. So now everything is re-frozen, and the extent of my knowledge about the state of how things were is just what’s above. I guess I’m wondering whether to give more weight to the melted ice cream (and thus toss most things) or to the fully frozen steak (and thus save most things).

        1. Lizabeth*

          Then err on the side of caution…full cooked stuff you may want to keep and eat soon, everything else toss (not the ice cream…milkshakes!)

    3. Lily Evans*

      The FDA has information about that here. Since you don’t know how long it was out, it’s probably a judgement call based on whether the food still seems frozen enough.

    4. Gene*

      Anything that’s still frozen should be fine. As should anything that’s still under 40°F. Beyond that, it depends on if it’s you’d be comfortable having at above refrigerator temperature overnight.

    5. Maya Elena*

      Fresh fish, esp. If a few days old maybe warrants being thrown out. Any meat, old cold cuts, or old takeout that was already on the cusp of going bad anyway and you would have debated keeping even without the fridge issue.

      Everything else perishable tends to have a definite smell test for when it’s bad, and has a margin of error of a few hours.

    6. GiantPanda*

      General rule: don’t toss anything that you would still eat if it had been 24 hours outside the freezer (in the refrigerator).
      The next time you thaw stuff, you need to eat it one day earlier than you would have without this episode. E.g if you’d have eaten the steaks within 3 days of thawing they will still be good for two days now.
      It might be too late for fresh fish. Frozen mushrooms usually go directly from the freezer to the pan and don’t take well to refreezing.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Oh, that’s interesting! I’d thought there was something about the thawing/refreezing itself that might be dangerous. From what I’m reading, though, it seems like for a lot of foods it’s going to be more about impacting the quality than the safety.

        1. A Bug!*

          Not super-relevant to your current situation, but it reminded me of this piece of grandma advice that might be useful to you or others:

          Put some ice cubes in a zippy bag and stick it in your freezer. It’ll tell you if the contents of your freezer have ever thawed and re-frozen due to power outage or temporary malfunction. (I have one at the top and one at the bottom of my chest freezer.)

          1. Turanga Leela*

            I heard a similar one: freeze a cup of water, then put a quarter on top. If you come back and the quarter is at the bottom of the block of ice, your freezer was out for a while, and you should throw out the contents.

          2. Anxa*

            Another variation of this is to freeze a container halfway, then lay it on its side after it’s frozen.

            The pricier tool to help with this is to buy a max-temp registering thermometer, but that won’t tell you how long the freezer was at a certain temperature.

        2. chickabiddy*

          Yes, the texture may suffer, but as long as it stayed cold enough (like refrigerator temperature), thawing and refreezing in itself is not dangerous. Do I remember that you are vegetarian? If there is no meat in the tamales, or if the meat was already cooked before being wrapped, I would probably think they would be okay.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          Yeah, this is going to be about mushy foods. Think of it this way, IF the food grew bacteria, then the bacteria re-froze with the food. Health code would have you toss everything. I would go item by item, look at the texture/color and smell as it cooks.

          I don’t think less than 24 hours is a problem. What if we had a short power outage? We’d probably just keep the freezer shut and use the food as planned. I remember one time we were without power for three days. I took the food and put it in ice chests and set it in the snow banks outside. It was fine.

          If you’re still concerned, mark everything that went through the power outage, so you know your new purchases will be UNmarked. If you are eating a food from the power outage and it does not taste right or does not settle well, you can toss it then on the spot.

  67. need some input*

    Has anyone tried any of the health share programs? Like Liberty Health Share or the like? What’s been your experience?

  68. Mela*

    So I recently found a great deal on a refurbished Macbook Air from April 2016 for only $850! I love it (it was upgraded from a 5 year old Air that was in dire need of replacement) except for the power adapter! Ugh it’s horrible–falls out so easily. Is there anything I can do to make it stick more? I’d do anything to go back to the old L-shaped ones…

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      You’re probably not looking to spend more money, but you can get the old L-shaped adapter (search Apple 60W MagSafe Power Adapter (for MacBook and 13-inch MacBook Pro)) for US$79 from Apple (third parties may sell it more cheaply) and then a MagSafe little adapter thingy (search MagSafe to MagSafe 2 Converter) for US$10 from Apple.

  69. Pug Lover*

    A good friend of mine is having a birthday soon and I want to get her something special. She is in her late 60s and doesnt really like a lot of “stuff” around. She is a former educator and enjoys reading, particularly books by Richard Rohrer. She has all of his books. Can anyone recommend a similar author or any other gift ideas? Im at a loss.

    1. Stellaaaaa*

      Is she good with stuff like itunes and downloads and all that? How about a one-year subscription to an audiobook service? It’s an especially good gift if she has a long commute.

    2. Chickaletta*

      I don’t know any authors similar to him, sorry!

      If she doesn’t like things, get her an experience. Richard Rohr is an amazing speaker, I got to hear him speak a year ago. Don’t know if it’s at all possible to sign her up for a speaking event he’s at. If that’s not possible then plan a special outing for the two of you, or a group of your friends: take her out for a special lunch, a theater performance, a museum opening, etc. Help her create a new memory.

  70. Aurion*

    You guys, the weightlifting meetup I went to yesterday was so much fun! And it was led by a personal trainer who gives me really good vibes.

    Personal trainers run the gamut and I don’t have any fitness minded friends I could get referrals from. I’ve been thinking of getting a trainer in a few months to look over my barbell forms (when I get there) but the ads for the trainers at my gym aren’t inspiring to say the least. The ad for the only female trainer were all about aesthetics (and full of typos to boot): “make jaws drop in your favourite cocktail dress”, “right kind of junk in the trunk”, something about a bikini… Whereas this trainer who led my meetup is all about strength and performance based goals. And based on yesterday’s meetup, I really like her style. If I end up getting a trainer I might just go to her for a few sessions. Although I’m not sure if I even have to, since these meetup workshops usually rotate through the major lifts that I want tips on (deadlifts, squats, etc) so by the time I’m ready for barbells on the regular, I might have absorbed all I need through these meetups :D

    There’s another meetup scheduled for the end of the month. I am so looking forward to this!

    Bonus points: she complimented me on my squat form and gave me a five-minute run through on deadlifts at the end of the session after everyone left, and complimented me on said deadlift form.

    The only missing piece to my fitness nirvana weekend would be for my gym to suddenly buy bumper plates. (I will probably make do with Romanians until I can get to the big wheels. Gym’s crowded enough that taking the time to stick 45s under the bar might be getting in everyone’s way…)

    1. nep*

      Sounds great. Glad it went so well. (Those ads for the female trainers sound just dreadful. To each his/her own I guess. But I’m with you for sure — I want to go with the person who’s focusing on building strength and above all proper form.)
      Do you use kettlebells at all? (I don’t recall from the previous discussion.)
      All the best. Enjoy.

  71. Allison Mary*

    I posted last week asking for advice for my new 12 year old cat, Oliver, who wouldn’t eat more than an ounce per day – and thankfully, within like 24 hours after making that post, he suddenly decided he was ready to eat whole meals. He still doesn’t eat it quite as fast as I’d like him to do so, because when I start working in three weeks, I’ll need to feed him in the morning and have him be finished with his food before I leave for work. But there has definitely been progress.

    He seemed to be gaining confidence over the past week, running around in the main room, jumping up onto our day bed and snuggling next to me or in my lap… but then yesterday something seemed to spook him (the wind storm, maybe? I’m in the PNW) and all he has wanted to do since then is hide in the most tucked-away corner of our closet. He’s still like this, it’s been probably about 24-30 hours. I’m trying just to leave him alone and let him be where he needs to feel safe, but I hope he gets past it soon and that this doesn’t become a permanent thing. :-/

    1. Trixie*

      I will sometimes add catnip to feedings, especially if its a brand or flavor that is not a favorite. Can make a big difference!

  72. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

    Made the mistake of visiting with more than one friend yesterday so today I am flattened with pain and fatigue. It’s got me thinking about kindles. My first gen Kindle won’t accept the latest update so I can’t borrow books from the lending library and the charging cord is shredded so it isn’t exactly the safest thing to have around. Wondering if it’s worth recycling this one and getting a new one. Does anyone have one of the newer cheap Kindles? Do you recommend it? What do you like about them?

    1. Lizabeth*

      The SO took my old, old broken Kindle (cracked glass) and traded it in when Staples had a deal going for a newer one that has backlighting. He loves the size and uses it all the time.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      You know, every Kindle I’ve seen uses a standard microUSB cord, like most Android phones. (We had 4 Kindles on a recent family vacation, from a 1st gen to a Kindle Fire, and they all used the same type of cord.)

      Anyway, the newest one I have is a Paperwhite, but I paid extra to not have ads. I love the backlight.

    3. Anon for this*

      I have a Kindle Paperwhite and I LOVE it. I would definitely recommend it.

      I have had it for three months, I read every day, and I have only needed to charge it about five times. The screen feels very similar to reading a physical book. It’s easy to read in any light. And it doesn’t keep me up at night the same way that my phone or computer’s screen will.

    4. LawCat*

      I loooooove my Kindle Paperwhite. I think the next level down in price Kindle is probably great too. It just doesn’t have the built in front light. (I used to have a Kindle Touch, whichlooks similar to the most basic Kindle available. Loved it, but upgraded since I wanted the light.)

    5. Mags*

      I asked about e-readers in last week’s thread and thanks to the suggestions I ended up getting myself a Kindle Paperwhite. I’ve only had it for a few days, and I LOVE it. Love. The screen has a great tactile feel and is very crisp and easy to read. I got mine during the sale last week and paid to not have the ads, but even at the regular $120 I think it is well worth the price. From what I understand, the only difference between the Paperwhite and regular Kindle is the Paperwhite is backlight and has a higher resolution.

  73. hashtag NotOkay*

    Re: the #NotOkay hashtag.

    I was thinking about this last week. I read some of the tweets, and it was so painful to read. One thing I noticed was how young some of them were.

    For the very first time in my life I thought to myself, I am so glad my parents sheltered me. I grew up extremely overprotected. For much of my adult life, I hated that. I remember being very awkward, shy, lonely a lot of the time. I would still never want to raise my kids the way I was raised.

    I had my fair share of experiences I’d rather forget, but I was over the age of 16 and they were more of when I was intimately involved with someone…rather than random assaults. I don’t knowwhat my point is. But it’s all so so so depressing, the rape culture, the future. It makesme fear for everything.

    1. Clever Name*

      I know. I didn’t date until college (first kiss at 18), and I’ve never been raped or assaulted. It’s kind of devastating to learn I’m in the minority. :(

  74. Nervous Accountant*

    I was 8 days late, and just got my period.
    And it’s much more extremely painful than it’s ever been.
    Stupid TTC. Stupid uterus trolling me. -_-

    1. chickabiddy*

      I am so sorry.

      I realize that you didn’t ask for advice so I hope I am not overstepping, but are you familiar with the book “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” by Toni Weschler? I do not think I would have gotten pregnant without it. I know you don’t know me but I know very well how much TTC sucks and would be happy to discuss off-board if you want.

    2. Nervous Accountant*

      I am really really really convinced that this wasnt’ just a regular period but a chemical pregnancy/miscarriage, but I have no way of knowing for sure now. I didn’t take the test, but everything that happened is the same as what happened during my first miscarriage, the pain and bleeding etc. I have no way of knowing for sure, and my doctor(s) won’t listen to me. So I don’t know what to do except to treat it as it was a reg pd for my own sanity’s sake.

      1. working parent*

        You could ask to have betas drawn if you’re up for blood work. You might still have a small amount of HCG in your blood, which would tell you if it was a chemical pregnancy.

  75. Nervous Accountant*

    Has anyone tried vitamins from Hum Nutrition? I just finished my batch of Biosil.
    I’m also looking for new prenatals/TTC vitamins. I know this is a great and resourceful group. Any ideas guys?

  76. Why Me*

    How do you deal with a mother in law that continually asks for material items? First, she always asks my boyfriend for money, but to make it worse, she won’t directly ask for it. She’ll drop hints, like “oh I wish I had $300 for this and this”, fully expecting that he give it to her. Any time my boyfriend gets me a nice gift, she wants it. For Valentine’s Day, she asked him to buy her jewelry. For her husband’s birthday, she asked him to pay $500 for a live band. Now, she wants him to pay for her to go on a weekend getaway. It’s like this all. the. time. Keep in mind her husband is alive and well and works. His brothers all live with his mother and all work, but she doesn’t ask them for things the way she asks my boyfriend.

    My boyfriend and I do make more money than his brothers and their partners, but we also have more expenses (they all live with their parents and pay little rent). We are also trying to save up money to buy a house and rarely spend money on ourselves. And, even if we did make more money flat out, I don’t think that means we are obligated to spend thousands of dollars on her a year.

    How should I deal with this? My boyfriend seems to think it’s okay and is willing to give her whatever she wants. This has caused tension between us, but I don’t think it’s fair that I’m here pinching pennies while paying for her to go on vacation. (FWIW, we have been together for 7 years and share bank accounts/expenses.)

    1. Dynamic Beige*

      The thing is, you can’t deal with it, because she’s not your mother. If your BF doesn’t see anything wrong with his mother essentially competing with you and asking for expensive things, there’s nothing that can be done except re-evaluate whether or not you want to be in this relationship.

      Does your BF realise that by indulging her, it’s putting your shared goal of buying a house further and further into the future? Does he understand that his mother may be intentionally doing this for some reason (such as she doesn’t like you)? After all, if he can’t a buy a house, wouldn’t he just move back home… with her?
      Does your BF realise that by indulging her, he’s just asking for more of the same?
      Does your BF use your money to pay for these gifts? Because if so, that is not fair to you and also not fair to your family if they aren’t being similarly treated.
      Is he planning on doing this forever? What if it’s a choice between Mom’s spa getaway weekend and your children’s camp/soccer/dentist fees? Or fixing a car? Or paying the mortgage?

      This is not a you vs. his mother because if you get into that fight you are not going to win. This is a fight of him being an adult who sets reasonable boundaries and deals with his responsibilities vs. his mother’s demands/expectations. If he can’t stand up to Mommy now, odds are he isn’t ever going to and if that’s the case, imagine what your life is going to be like when you have your wedding, when you have kids. When you buy your house. When future holidays come up (You must not love meeeee because you won’t come here for $ThisHoliday when I want you to/how dare you go to *her family* for $ThisHoliday! You must love them more than me!). Whose opinion is going to matter? Who is he going to listen to, himself or his parents?

      It may be the “easy” way out for him to make you the heavy — “Gee Mom, I would love to buy you what is essentially a diamond engagement ring but Why Me has put her foot down and has me on an allowance.” But you cannot put yourself into that position or allow yourself to be put in that position. Unless you want to be in that position for the rest of your life with him and then it will really be a battle of you vs. his Mom — for him. He has to fight for himself and if he’s not capable of it, then you may be better off finding someone who can.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Totally agree.
        The one inroad I see is for the two of you to find someone to advise you on budgeting and meeting long term goals. Perhaps if a disinterested third party shows him how long it will take to save up for a deposit on a home at your current rate of saving, then he will have an ah-ha moment.

        Writing a budget should include discretionary money, where each of you can make your own choices how to spend your own money. “Mom” could go under discretionary spending.

        As it stands now the two of you have different goals, his is to give his mother whatever she requests and yours is to save for the future and pay current bills. You don’t have the same goals and this does not bode well.

        Spouses and long-term SOs need to consider each other first and foremost. It’s necessary for the survival of the relationship. Tricky part: They should do so willingly and freely. If they can’t, then they may not be ready for a long term commitment.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          Meeting with a financial planner is an excellent idea. Getting together and going over your household expenses, drawing up the budget, looking at every expense might help him see the light. As Chickabiddy says, it might also make you draw up a new plan where you have your account, he has his, you both contribute to the household account. It’s one thing if you’re both spending the money, but when it’s just the one of you…

          I’d also like to say that I’m not against spoiling a mother. If it was the BF who said he wanted to do something special for her for her birthday (especially if it was a milestone one) and got together with his siblings to pool their money together, hey that’s awesome. It’s the fact that Mommy is telling her son what she wants and not in a “Xmas is coming and if you’re wondering what to get me, I’d really like a _____” way. Part of me wonders what the other kids think. They might be happy he’s pulling all the weight to keep her happy (which I bet isn’t easy), or they might be angry that she’s his “favourite” or whatever. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out there’s a lot of dysfunction there.

    2. chickabiddy*

      Honestly, if you cannot come to an agreement about subsidizing his mother’s desired lifestyle, I would separate your finances. I’m not saying break up, but get your own bank account, contribute fairly to the household expenses, and let him be the one to pinch pennies.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        And counselling! Because a partner who is in the habit of doing what his mother asks, without question, even when it’s unreasonable and causes hardship for you, is a problem that can get really big and ugly really fast. I honestly wouldn’t recommend buying a house with someone under the current situation.

        Right now, you’re spending thousands of dollars a year because your MIL wants gifts lavished on her at her demand. You can afford it, but you’re pinching pennies to save for a house and don’t spend much on yourselves. What happens when she demands a spa weekend when you’re paying a mortgage, and your hot water tank needed replacing that month, and you don’t have $500 to spare? Or if you have kids, and it’s a choice between money for music lessons (or braces), and jewelry for Mom? Particularly after years of practice saying Yes to his mother and No to his partner.

      2. Lady Kelvin*

        I second this. And realize that it is highly unlikely he will ever stop subsidising her. Either accept it, separate finances (forever) or move on. 7 years is a long time but mom could live another 40 years (rough estimate assuming you’re MIL is in her 50).

    3. Chickaletta*

      You need to communicate better with your BF. Even though you’re not married, you are in a long term relationship with shared bank accounts so I’d treat this the same way as a married couple who’s having financial problems. Talk to your BF about it: your concerns, your expectations, and then listen to what he has to say. If it’s not being resolved on your own, then try counseling.

      Also, your problem has nothing to do with your MIL because you cannot change her behavior. Your problem is that your BF is spending your shared money on something you don’t want it spent on.

      If you try everything and he still insists on spending your money on his mom, then you’ll have to decide whether you can live with that or not. Just be thankful you’re not married, which makes separating a hundred times more difficult. And whatever you do, do not consider having children before you resolve this problem, otherwise your problems will multiply by a thousand.

    4. Maya Elena*

      To add to everyone else’s good points, I gotta ask how much of your concerns have been explicitly stated and brought to the table. Is BF paying to placate his mom, or is he innocently thinking, “hey why not, we can afford it”? Also, are “tensions” you laying out your concerns ans him pushing back, or is it you passive aggressively sniping at him for minor things shortly after every such purchase?

      In the case that it’s the latter, all it may take is a frank but gentle conversation about how much money these gifts are eating up, what your financial priorities are, what are reasonable boundaries for large spending, etc. And all this should be done in Alison’s best nonconfrontational, benefit-of-doubt-giving tone. (“Dearest, I was looking at our finances, and it seems we spend a lot of money -$X a year!- on gifts. I like giving nice gifts, but this is cutting into our house savings. Do you have any thoughts on what we can do to fix this?”)

  77. LCL*

    Re the discussion on learning guitar last weekend, I found the most excellent website with tutorials. Justinguitar.com

  78. Going gluten free*

    My spouse was recently diagnosed with Celiac disease. This is definitely a huge change for us so I’m hoping AAM readers have product and recipe recommendations PLEASE?! Thanks.

    1. KR*

      If there’s a Trader Joe’s near you, check out their gluten free bread. Doesn’t need to be refrigerated like most gluten free bread and has a great texture. I’ve tried a lot of brands and that’s the best I’ve found. Also if you’re pasta eaters Ronzoni make a really good gluten free pasta in a few different varieties. Much better and cheaper than most of the varieties I’ve found. It’s a bright yellow box so it’s super ea