weekend free-for-all – October 22-23, 2016

This 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.)

{ 850 comments… read them below }

    1. dear liza dear liza*

      Seeing parts of the stage production. I would love to see it on Broadway (or Chicago!), but so far, no one has given me free tickets to the show. ;)

    2. Cruciatus*

      Yes! “And Peggy” was unexpected! I was able to see most of this earlier this week through an event my city’s playhouse was having. It was mostly older people who had no idea what they were seeing. I’m wondering how many were interested after that (though I thought the documentary was great! I just truly don’t know how much it might appeal to the 80 and up crowd). They also had a group sing some of the songs–none of the hip-hoppy ones. The crowd didn’t really laugh at King George’s song or “And Peggy!” I think my mom recorded this last night so I’ll be interested on her take since she loves 1776 and every time it’s on TV she tells me. I forced my dad to listen to the soundtrack while driving somewhere–not a fan, except for King George.

      1. dear liza dear liza*

        Reading the libretto really helped me- a non-hip hop fan- appreciate and now love the soundtrack.

        1. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

          I shared it with my 73 year old friend last year and she (definitely not a hip hop or rap fan) fell in love immediately. I don’t know anyone in the 80+ demographic who has appreciated it though. My sub 2-year-old loves it :)

    3. Becca*

      OH my god I cried!! I really liked how they addressed that no one in the show was perfect— they all had flaws and that a lot of them were just terrible people. I loved seeing parts from the ending of the show, especially when Eliza is highlighted… That is just the saddest part to me because, well… because.

    4. AdAgencyChick*

      I saw it last week at the NY Film Festival. So good!

      I have yet to see the show although I’ve listened to the songs over and over, so I had no idea what Christopher Jackson looked like. He is officially my new celebrity crush.

    5. Lizabeth*

      Taped it and watched it this morning with steaming coffee, listening to the Broadway soundtrack as doing chores. Loved all of it…

    6. Claire (Scotland)*

      I stayed up until 3.30am to watch the livestream. This is the list of favourite moments I made for a post earlier:

      – Daveed Diggs on Jefferson: “And he sucks!”
      – “He HAS no principles.”
      – Lin and Leslie reading aloud from the letters of Hamilton and Burr, and that whole sequence in the finance museum
      – Obama greeting Lin with “Hey man!”
      – “Shooty shooty shooty… Shot!”
      – Chris Jackson talking about Washington owning slaves

      1. HRish Dude*

        I laughed so hard at “And he sucks!”

        I admit I got a little (a lot) teary when the show ended with the last lines of the musical.

  1. Beem*

    I’m starting the weekend by reading the comments on the “Who was your weirdest coworker?” post. 20/10 entertainment.
    I’ll post the link in the reply.

  2. babblemouth aka One Of The Greatest Minds Of The 21st Century*

    I’m lying in bed sick today, and I’m already so bored – but don’t have the energy to get up.
    What’s the most fun/interesting thing you read on the Internet this week? Maybe with some good reads I’ll survive the boredom…

    1. Ayla K*

      When I’m bored I always like to peruse the latest threads on AskReddit. Some of the topics bring up hysterically funny answers, and some are super thought-provoking. Right now, there are also a bunch of threads about freaky and paranormal experiences (since Halloween is coming up) – those are always good to fill up an hour or so if you read everything.

      1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

        I love doing this. I also love the archives there–search Top All-time, there’s several years of excellent threads with thousands and thousands of posts. Also around Halloween I love to search “creepy” or “spooky” there and read those archives.

      1. babblemouth aka One Of The Greatest Minds Of The 21st Century*

        Oh, that sounds fun. Any particularly good one you’d recommend?

        1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

          Also check out Longreads! Same concept, frequently there’s some overlap in there, but there’s a ton of excellent long articles in both of them. They both have archives sorted by theme, so pick one and just go for it.

        2. Natalie*

          I love crime stories so I go to their crime archive first. But they have every topic you might want – politics, sports, art.

      2. Kay*

        YES. This is my go-to for filling up bored spaces in my life. I usually have one article open at work to dip into when I need a mental break.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Zombie rubber duckies.

      I like to order small items to give out for Halloween as opposed to candy. It works for me because the leftovers have a long shelf life and I don’t gain weight.

      I have been doing business with Oriental Trading Co. for years. So I went into their site to see what to get this year. Yeah, close timing but I saw they can still ship. The rubber duckies have been popular with the kids and I have not bought any in a while, so I decided to check out the duckies. One hundred and seventy plus different styles of duckies. Who’d thunk? I lost a half hour looking at the duckies and laughing so hard. I ordered the zombie duckies, they were just too adorable. I might keep one or two for myself…. because part of me is still five?

      If you are looking for something that is a good time sink, you can order your Halloween stuff online if you need anything.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I LOVE them. They have so much stuff I don’t need but wish I did. One thing I did get from them was a cool magnifier that folds into its own stand, for doing mini work.

    3. peachie*

      If spooky stories are your thing, I’ve been enjoying going down the rabbit hole that is the annual Jezebel spooky story thread.

      1. New Bee*

        Agreed! I recommend reading “Look at Me” (someone will certainly have linked to it; it’s a past winner)–with the lights on.

        1. Ostara*

          Wow. That gave me chills. I regularly sit at my desk with noise canceling headphones – NOT ANYMORE.

          Are these stories supposed to be real or made up?

          1. peachie*

            They’re supposed to be real — of course, it depends on how much you trust the honesty of internet strangers. ;)

            I like to believe that they’re told truthfully, even though I don’t really believe in supernatural happenings. All the same, the stories are wonderful. (If you have a lot of patience, this year, there is an AMAZING story about an armoire toward the end of the comments…)

    4. Sara*

      If you’re not totally sick of everything related to the election, I really enjoyed both of these satirical pieces:

      “Nasty Women Have Much Work To Do” in the Washington Post – funny, powerful, and a great read

      “Hillary Clinton’s Locker Room Talk” in NY Magazine – hilarious, but definitely for mature audiences only

      On the more serious side, I really like FiveThirtyEight’s election coverage.

      Enjoy, and feel better soon!

      1. babblemouth aka One Of The Greatest Minds Of The 21st Century*

        Goodness, the Hillary Locker Room article is just disturbing and creepy. The other one though, wonderful!

  3. Ayla K*

    I’m looking for a roommate and it’s not going well!! I posted the room on Craigslist and in some small local Facebook groups (for alums of my college) and I’m getting 0 worthwhile responses. The responses I’m getting are either 1) people who clearly didn’t read the ad or 2) spam. What else can I do?? I cannot afford rent on my own.

    1. babblemouth aka One Of The Greatest Minds Of The 21st Century*

      Do you already have an apartment and are trying to rent a bedroom, or are you looking for one with a free bedroom?

        1. babblemouth aka One Of The Greatest Minds Of The 21st Century*

          Try to avdertise offline – find local businesses that have pin board where you can leave an ad, so the word spreads around the neighborhood. You can also try community centers or churches.
          Spend some time making sure you have really good photos – lighting matters! – so that the room looks its best. Decorate it a bit so it looks cozy. If you’re not great at photos, ask a friend to help.
          Say a little about yourself in the ad (are you introverted or extroverted? Tidy or not? etc) so people can self select early if that’s going to be a problem for them.
          When people come to visit, make sure the apartment is sparlking clean – not just regular clean.

          I’d avoid craigslist entirely if I were you – I’ve never had good experiences. Keep trying the Facebook groups though, but maybe with new and improved photos.

          Good luck!

        2. Yetanotherjennifer*

          Have you talked to your rental office? Sometimes they know of people looking to move into the building.

    2. N.J.*

      You mentioned college alumni. Do you still live in a college town? Posting flyers on community boards at the college or putting an ad I’m the student paper could work if you live in a college town. If not, you could try the local paper or any bulletin board style publications (we have one in my area that is free to post to but that people buy to read that lists items for sale, rentals etc.).

      1. Rever nd(ish)*

        Or tell the off campus housing manager that you have an open room. I contacted campus housing when I was looking to a place to rent as a graduate student, and they sent me a link where they had a private listing of available housing.

    3. Sunflower*

      Have you posted a status directly on your FB page? It seems people always know someone looking

      1. TootsNYC*

        I’d also suggest spreading the word somehow at work. Or through a friend at their work. Or if there’s some company that tends to hire recent college grads (so, needing a low-cost place, but coupled w/ some evidence of stability), maybe contact their HR department and say, “I have a room that a new employee might be interested in; do you have a way to let new hires know?”

  4. FD*

    Ugh, I’m so frustrated. I planned a camping weekend away and everything, EVERYTHING went pear-shaped, so I ended up going home. I’m upset and frustrated and depressed.

    I was really looking forward to this.

    1. JHS*

      I’m so sorry to hear that! Hopefully you can have a fun weekend at home despite it all. If you drink, have a mimosa and try to relax.

  5. Trixie*

    Found the thread regarding Raleigh vs Durham very helpful last weekend. I’m still reviewing comments but it reads as though Durham might be better suited for recent while Raleigh has more for 40+ population, single/married, w or w/o kids. Any additional insights are appreciated!

    1. chickabiddy*

      I am a couple of hours away from the Triangle so not really up on neighborhood dynamics, but yes, I would pretty much agree with that assessment (although Durham does have a great mostly-kid-oriented science museum).

    2. LC*

      Durham is to Raleigh what Brooklyn is to Manhattan. Raleigh has more, period–more jobs, more restaurants, more for everyone. But Durham has its own quirky vibe and, if you’re the right fit, may feel more like home than Raleigh.

      -Source: Charlotte resident living in Brooklyn

    3. AliceBD*

      I didn’t see the thread last weekend but my recent do you mean recent grads? If so, I lived there almost two years after college (and I went to college there too). I LOVED it. I moved for work a few years ago because I was offered a job that was such a good fit for me, but I really loved living in Durham and miss it. It’s definitely smaller than Raleigh and I saw it as more individual. More farm to table stuff and art things.

    4. blackcat*

      I lived in Raleigh as a recent grad–while I wasn’t married I was already living with my now husband. We made several close friends with neighbors while living in Raleigh (near downtown). We regularly visit one couple (they used to visit us, but now they have a kid and traveling is a pain. FWIW, they moved to Durham when they had a kid).

      North Raleigh or places a bit further afield would be more family oriented, but the cameron village area/5 points/other areas close in to downtown do have some pockets full of young people. Both also have significant populations of grad students/undergrads due to the large universities (Durham w/ Duke & NC Central and Raleigh w/ NC State).

      Both Raleigh and Durham are geographically large, with neighborhoods that are recent-grad friendly. I’d aim to whichever city is more likely to have the type of jobs you’d want, because the commute between the two cities can be a pain.

    1. Dangitmegan*

      I can’t keep any lipstick on for more than 20 minutes no matter how much it costs. My solution has been the Covergirl Outlasts. That stuff stays on forever and it doesn’t dry out my lips. I also have a similar one from Kiko.

    2. Ayla K*

      Powder!! Use a clear finishing powder (I like e.l.f.’s, and it’s only $3) and lipstick will stay on. FWIW, I really like Loreal’s True Match lipstick. My friend and I both have it and it’s stayed on through multi-mimosa brunches, puppy kisses, and jumping in the pool. Also I picked it up at Target for under $10. I was never a lipstick person, so I was not interested in spending tons of money, but I wanted a good red and that one delivered.

      1. JHS*

        Coming to say this. Yes, you do one coat of lipstick, then tap the powder on with your finger, then a second coat of lipstick then blot!

    3. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      I use the Rimmel Lasting Finish Colour Rush balm. It’s soft enough to be moisturizing, but it stays and stays and stays and stays through eating, drinking, kissing, you name it. (OK, it needs to be reapplied after doing a lot of any of those things, but the colour remains–I just need to reapply for glossiness.)

      Or, powder. Apply lipstick, apply powder, apply lipstick again, blot, and enjoy your lovely smile.

    4. Clever Name*

      My solution is to not care if my lipstick wears away and to reapply the few occasions when I do care. :/

    5. peachie*

      …would you be open to $20?

      I’ve never, ever, ever been able to make lipstick stay on for me, and the only thing that’s worked has been the Beauty Bakerie Lip Whips. It is NOT messing around. I’m an actor, and I wear it for a show in which I have to drink several beverages, kiss someone, and most nights I also eat greasy bar food of some kind, and it doesn’t smudge AT ALL.

      Plus, BB is a black-owned independent brand run by a truly badass woman, so I don’t mind paying a little more than I would otherwise.

      For a budget option, though, I love NYX Full Throttle lipstick. If I let it set, it usually lasts me until I eat something, which isn’t bad!

    6. ginger ale for all*

      Google beautipedia and read the reviews of the brands you are interested in. I think you are going to have to get one of the ones that are marketed as long lasting. They tend to be a bit drier but if you get a good one, it isn’t as bad as the constant reapplication.

    7. Stellaaaaa*

      Try ColourPop’s Ultra Satin liquid lipsticks. They’re not drying and they last a long time. $6!

    8. Sir Alanna Trebond*

      For super intense looks (a red lip, a dark lip, etc) I line my lips fully in the same color as the lipstick and color them in with the lip liner all the way. Then I apply lipstick. I only buy makeup at the drugstore, and this works for me plus it makes it so that when the lipstick does fade, it doesn’t look patchy and weird.

      (Disclaimer: not a makeup artist by any means)

    9. Claire (Scotland)*

      Make sure your lips are smooth and dry before applying any lip colour. Use a matching lip pencil to line and fill in lips, then go over with lipstick.

      My personal favourite is the clear Urban Decay Ozone lip liner, it goes under anything and makes my lipstick last all day.

    10. Daily lip color wearer*

      I have gotten endless compliments on my rimmel provocalips. I’ve been wearing it every single day and I can put it on in the AM and still see a good amount the next day in the morning.
      Some tips: apply the stain and then let it dry, don’t run your lips together – after it feels dryish in 45 seconds, I apply lip balm for softness.
      Also if you ever do need to reapply – rub the whole thing off and reapply to “reset” the crazy staying power, rather than layering over old.
      Hope it goes well! I love it so much I have a backup to my backup :)

    11. Raine*

      The L’Oreal Infallible Lipstick is at any drug store, comes in many shades (subtle to super bright), goes on as a gloss, takes maybe 10 seconds to dry, and then you top it with a balm. It is grease proof, kiss proof, drink proof. I have worn it for over 14 hours and it still looked flawless, plus you can add more of the balm through out the day if your lips feel dry. I have tried so many lipstick and this is the one that I go to for pretty much any occasion.

    12. Marillenbaum*

      NYX Liquid Suede! It’s a liquid lipstick, dries matte, and stays on all day, no joke. I wore it to a food truck festival–out all day, doing a ton of eating, and it didn’t even smudge. It’s about $8 at Target.

  6. AnonDreamer*

    I have weird dreams all the time. Like sequences that just make absolutely no sense (a bear, on a boat? Chasing me into an Apple store below decks?) or just images of shapes and colors and sounds. I’ve always had this. I dream every night and remember them (briefly) upon waking with a general sense of “huh. that was weird.” and a chuckle.

    But the past week or so they’ve gone from weird to downright scary. I dreamed a few nights ago that my mother called me. I don’t remember the phone ringing or answering it but I’m on the line with her. She’s crying begging me to help her. That “he” is dangerous. He stabbed her in the face (what!?). I don’t respond in the dream but I’m terrified and when I woke up it felt so damn real I nearly called my mom at 3am to make sure she is okay. All of the dreams are like this. Someone is in danger, I don’t respond or act but am instead just experiencing their fear and when I wake it always feels real.

    I’m no more stressed than usual. In fact, life is on the upturn right now. I don’t know what is behind this change but it is really shaking me. I don’t even want to go to sleep at night. I’ve gone from falling asleep around 10 to staying awake as long as I can until I literally can’t keep my eyes open.

    1. AnonDreamer*

      I want to add the person that is in danger is always someone I know in my waking life. Usually family, if not family it is a very close friend or loved one. And I remember all the dreams vividly days later. Thinking of them still shakes me.

      Has anyone had any luck stopping something like this? And why don’t we have the technology yet to control our own dreams!?

      1. Amadeo*

        I dream like this sometimes. Not every night, and not usually someone I know/love being in trouble, but definitely little mini-horror movies that play in my head, and seem to be waiting to start back up again like a paused tape when I wake and then try to go back to sleep. There was one once though that involved a demon/monster/thing that looked like my brother, but my brother was with our group. I remember waking from that one thinking ‘Cripes, seriously?” If I could remember half of them and stomach writing them down, I could make bank selling horror movie plots.

        I usually end up singing to myself (contemporary Christian music, I have a half hour commute and that’s just what’s on my radio the whole time – I know several songs pretty much by heart) until I can clear the memory and sleep again. I have no advice for preventing them in the first place.

      2. anon nightmare-haver*

        There’s actually a medication called Prazosin that’s used to treat PTSD nightmares. I took it for a while, as I have chronic bad dreams. I think it helped reduce them, but I stopped taking it b/c I actually find the dreams helpful in figuring stuff out about myself.

        I definitely sympathize with your feeling disturbed. Generally, I find writing out my dreams and talking about them in therapy are what take away their power.

        I’m not sure if you’re in the US, but my psychologist was just saying yesterday that there are recent studies of how the election is causing many people to experience flares of anxiety and distress. There’s clearly an acute amount of uncertainty, fear, and nastiness in the air, and it all feels unavoidable and unsettling to lots of people. My nightmares have absolutely peaked these last few weeks.

        Hope you can sleep better soon!

      3. Blue Anne*

        I used to have a lot of dreams like that. In one that really shook me, I dreamed that I was for some reason in some sort of extreme evangelical group doing door-to-door work handing out pamphlets, and I looked down at the pamphlets and saw my dad’s picture. I realized that this group I was in was targeting him and trying to signal to young male members that someone should assassinate him, and if I tried to stop it or just withdrew from the work they would figure out who I was and kill me. (Not *totally* divorced from reality… although already dead when I had that dream, he was an important expert witness on a lot of high profile cases and has had people like Al Sharpton denouncing him on TV.)

        I talked to my therapist about it. He said that dreams don’t act like a really reliable “messages from your subconscious” tool – it’s not as cut and dried as Freud would have it – but if dreams are sticking with you and bothering you and you think that they’re signifying something about your mental health, that’s a really good indicator that there’s something sticking with you and bothering you and that you have a mental health concern! It made a lot of sense to me. If your dreams are scaring you and you think through what they might be saying about your mental state, it’s worth exploring what you come up with, whether or not the dream itself is actually a reliable indicator.

        It might be worth talking it through with someone (therapist or not) or journaling about it, and trying to answer the question “Why am I coming up with these scary images?”

    2. JHS*

      I have really vivid terrifying dreams on the regular. There are some that haunt me all the time. One time I dreamed I was at my parents house going into the basement to get something and I saw death coming up from somewhere below the earth into the basement and coming towards me trying to go up the stairs. I knew he was coming to take someone in the house. I started screaming “no! no! no!” and I actually was screaming because my husband woke me up. That’s the only time I’ve ever cried out. I have dreams like that a lot though–although not that specific dream. Dreams about grotesque things. I have NO idea why. I don’t even watch or like horror movies.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Growing up in the 60s and 70s I read Ann Landers and Dear Abby a lot. I think it was Ann but I cannot be sure, one of them said if you are having nightmares get a full medical check up.

      For myself, I found this to be true. I had recurring dreams about my legs, nightmares actually. I finally had my legs checked, got some help and the dreams stopped, cold hard stop. This was after years of dealing with these dreams, once I had the check up I never had the dream again. I thought I would never shake off that dream.

      1. Vancouver Reader*

        Good to know! Hubby’s been having a lot of dreams of late, like JHS, where he cries out. Actually he swears and is physically violent in his sleep, and I was wondering if there’s something medically wrong with him.

        1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

          Just an off thought but does he play video games before bed? My partner goes through phases where he will be playing certain games and will then sometimes start yelling/talking in his sleep and/or bolt upright with his eyes open yapping away in a language I dont recognize (probably the scariest part! hes not a native english speaker but I dont recognize the language as his native tongue either!). He usually doesnt remember doing this either.

          1. Vancouver Reader*

            No, that’s the ironic thing, I’m the one with a device in bed. He’s taken to not even watching tv (usually) at least a half hour before going to bed.

            I think there’s just something seriously wrong with his head. ;)

    4. Snazzy Hat*

      My father is (was?) on a medication where one of the side effects is disturbing dreams. He’s given me vague details about some of them. They almost always take place at any one of the crime scenes he’s visited in his life, and often something extra bizarre happens. Without details, one example was a crime scene where the victim had died; in the dream, the person was still alive while the investigators were there.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        A friend of mine went to work in a chemical plant. He said it was not long and the nightmares started. The floor was covered with snakes and other bizarre stuff.

    5. Katie the Sensual Wristed Fed*

      Are you taking mucinex by chance? I’ve had really dark, violent dreams when on it,

      1. mander*

        Is that the same as Sudafed? Because I was just going to ask that. I won’t take it at night anymore because it gives me such awful dreams.

        Also check your carbon monoxide detector. I vaguely recall reading that nightmares can be an indicator that the CO levels are too high, but I don’t know if that’s actually true or not. Can’t hurt though.

        1. Stardust*

          I think the two brands have similar ingredients.

          That’s an interesting point to check the Carbon Monoxide levels in case.

          I have vivid dreams every night that I remember when I wake up. All the time, and while weird, usually not scary. I mostly have action dreams that don’t make much sense (flying like a superhero power, buildings with 20-30 stories underground, ghosts, Egyptian rooms, robot aliens scanning buildings with red lasers, etc. all in the same dream). Sometimes I think it would be neat to take my dreams and write a science fiction book or movie plot. (Not a writer, though, so it’s just a thought, like, hmmmm, these dreams are material for something! Haha!) However, the few times I’ve woken up scared, I usually sing or pray or listen to a podcast sermon.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Ha, I used to write down my dreams in hopes one would make a good plot for a story or book. But in years of doing this, I only ever came up with a few–most of them are too short or too weird.

            I enjoy my dreams, when I can remember them. Even the scary ones are kind of fun–and I’ve trained myself to wake up out of them if they get too disturbing. I did that after a breakup during which time I kept dreaming repeatedly about my ex, and it was so emotionally awful I basically forced myself to wake up.

    6. misspiggy*

      Check whether you’re breathing OK at night. As others have said, carbon monoxide detector – but also airflow in general to your bed, and how your sleeping position is affecting your air intake. Do you have a cold; do you need to prop your pillows up more; do you need to straighten up so your throat is freer?

    7. MsChandandlerBong*

      Are you taking any meds? I was taking Neurontin a while ago (I have lupus-related neuralgia), and I did the weirdest things while I was on it. I had tons of vivid/bad dreams, woke up screaming at my husband, thought the ceiling fan was a man coming after me (it has five blades; when I’m half-awake, it does sort of look like a man with his arms and legs outstretched). I quit taking Neurontin because the side effects were worse than the neuralgia, but my CRNP recently prescribed amitriptyline to relieve pain and help me get better sleep. I woke up after taking it for the first time and said, “Wow, I slept great!” My husband said, ” No you didn’t! You went to the bathroom and started yelling about how the f***ing bedroom ceiling fan wouldn’t turn on when you flicked the bathroom wall switch.” He says I’ve been talking a lot since I started taking it, and I’ve been having vivid dreams, too (the other night, Michelle Obama lived in the woods behind my mom and dad’s house; a few nights before that, my house was infested with giant rabbits that had springs coming out of their faces so they could hop around and chase me).

      1. MillersSpring*

        Taking melatonin to help me sleep gave me vivid intense technicolor dreams. Only happened on the nights I took it and I’ve never had any similar dreams after I stopped taking it.

    8. Uyulala*

      Do you sleep on your left side? If so, try your right. I was having strange dreams in some sleep positions and looked into it — apparently it’s a common thing for sleeping on the left side to give bad dreams.

    9. Another Dreamer*

      For me, it’s usually caffeine or stress. If you drink coffee, tea, or caffeinated sodas, cut back. And try healthy stress-reducing things like getting more exercise, eating a healthier diet, meditating, etc.

      And I think that dreams sometimes do tell you something. Not in a supernatural way, but they can have to do with things that are weighing on your mind, maybe sources of stress that you’re not paying enough attention to. You could try writing about the dreams and see if you end up connecting them to anything in real life.

    1. Me2*

      Hopefully kitties are keeping her company in bed. Mine love it when I stay in bed all day, I’m just a giant heating pad to them.

      1. Pennalynn Lott*

        For us, it’s the other way around. We refer to how [overly] warm we slept during the night by rating it in Kitty BTU’s. (“It was a five Kitty BTU night; I’m exhausted.)

      1. chickabiddy*

        Oh, poor you. Not to get too TMI, but is your tummy feeling okay? In our family we have been able to knock out nasty crud by eating crushed raw garlic (I mix with a little olive oil and a little salt and put on bread), but it’s kind of a bootcamp cure.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Stomach is good. Throat is a war zone. Swallowing is painful.

          I have been readings things about sucking on raw garlic and also drinking apple cider vinegar and am open to both but lack the energy to make either happen. My husband is just as sick too so I can’t even ask him to make me a gross tray of garlic and vinegar. (Actually, I love both those things. Maybe it would not be gross.)

          1. Lady Blerd*

            What I do when I feel a tickle in the back of my throat, announcing some kind of oncoming strep, is gargle with salty water, I’m talking Dead Sea leavel of salinity. Usually kills whatever is trying to get something started.

          2. Chickaletta*

            No cough? If not, maybe it’s strep. I’ve had it twice in the last year and I couldn’t swallow anything it was so painful. The only thing that helped was antibiotics.

              1. Pennalynn Lott*

                I’ve been sick for almost three weeks now. I only had 3-4 days of feeling well and truly horrible; the rest of the time it has been like really bad allergies. I called my doc and described my symptoms during the -43 Bad Days and he, too, said it was viral. Nothing to do but take good care of myself and just ride it out. :-(

                If it weren’t for Puffs Plus tissues, I think the end of my nose would have fallen off by now.

              2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

                This sounds a lot like what I got walloped with three years ago. Was horrible – until I figured out how much ibuprofen to take I would just sit up and drool all night long because it was too painful to sleep/swallow. It was a strange sore throat too – like a lump rather than super raw (although with some rawness).

                Took me three weeks to get over it and two doctor visits confirmed it was viral too. I dont want to ever be that sick again, so my sympathies!

              3. Nerdling*

                Might I suggest hot tea with honey and bourbon? I had a nasty sinus infection last week, and that really helped ease the knives in the throat feeling.

              4. Clever Name*

                Did they do a strep test or just look at you and declare its viral? When I had strep they were all, “I guess we’ll test you….” and seemed surprised when it came back positive.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  My husband had a strep test and it was negative. My doctor declared it just by examining my throat, but he also gave me a prescription for antibiotics to fill if I get any worse.

                2. Clever Name*

                  That’s kind of weird. I guess I’d want to know for sure an infection was bacterial before I kill all of my microbial symbionts.

                3. Elizabeth West*

                  Yes, ask for a test. Don’t use antibiotics unless you actually have a bacterial infection–overuse is why they don’t work anymore and I wish doctors would stop prescribing them without testing!

            1. Amadeo*

              If it’s strep and you don’t get antibiotics within a couple of days after symptoms begin, I can attest that by the third or fourth day, you will be sicker than a dog. Like, puking sicker than a dog. My mother didn’t believe me once (even though I got strep regularly as a kid) and I went probably about three days before she finally took me to the doctor and I got drugs. I was sick the entire week and ate nothing until Easter dinner, and then just some turkey and jello.

              If it doesn’t get better, I’d go an ask for a throat swab, much as those suck.

          3. catsAreCool*

            For throat pain, gargling with mouthwash, salt & water, or vinegar & water can help. Vinegar and water tastes weird, but it seems effective. Hope you feel better soon!

          4. Me2*

            Another throat remedy is what we call Slurpee Therapy. Only works if one of you can get out long enough to get to a 7-11. A few sips of a frozen drink numbs your throat. Then I just put the cup in the freezer and take another few sips every hour or so. If it freezes solid, just let it sit out for about 10 minutes and then take a spoonful. My son and I always get very bad sore throats first, regardless of whether it’s a cold, flu, virus, always the throat first. Slurpee Therapy is the only thing that consistently soothes and numbs. Plus you’re getting some fluids which is good too!

          5. EmmaLou*

            A warm, salt-water gargle may help with the throat. Sipping warm lemonade. So sorry you are not feeling well. Rest, rest, rest.

          6. Gaia*

            I woke up this a.m. with a small tickle in my throat that always indicates a coming cold. Not gonna lie – I am not happy.

            Feel better. There is a nasty bug going around this year.

          7. Reverend(ish)*

            Urgh, this rampaged thru our house a couple of months ago. To soothe sore throats I pulled out my slow cookers and just kept them full of warm drinks. One was a white grape juice and ginger drink, the other a mulled Dr Pepper. more comfort drinks than nutrition, but both really take away sore throat pain.

          8. E*

            I know I’m so very late to suggest, and hopefully your throat is feeling better, but sage tea worked wonders when I had tonsillitis last year. Just steep a bit of dried or fresh sage, like you would with any tea leaves. Add honey if the taste is unbearable. I sipped a couple of cups and felt much better by that evening.

      2. Lore*

        Did the dr do a flu test? Every time I’ve hit that “I’ve never been so sick in my life and it just keeps getting worse” point it’s turned out to be the flu, even when first and worst symptoms were throat-related. If that’s what it is, it seems (for me anyway) to have a pattern of being really sick for two days, feeling marginally better, then drastically worse for two days before starting to come out of it.

        1. Gaia*

          I’m the same way. I’ve had the flu a few times and I always bitterly laugh when people say things like “oh yea my stomach was just a bit upset yesterday but today I’m fine. Must have been the flu!”

          Right. Because a few hours of upset tummy = an illness that makes most people wish for death.

      3. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Well, now I have taken a narcotic syrup that’s supposed to help me sleep, so either I will sleep or I will start posting really odd stuff here. I am in suspense to find out which it will be!

      4. Liane*

        Hope you & your husband get better quickly, Alison.

        This is for Clever Name, since there were too many nested replies to answer there: “That’s kind of weird. I guess I’d want to know for sure an infection was bacterial before I kill all of my microbial symbionts.”
        Answer–Sometimes what starts as a viral illness (sore throat, sinus, etc.) can turn into a bacterial infection. All that mucus, inflamed tissue, body already weakened, not eating well because you can’t swallow, etc. So sometimes a doctor will prescribe antibiotics in case you develop a bacterial infection, and feeling worse or worse after getting a bit better are indications this has happened. Having the prescription handy may keep you from having to make another doctor visit (& pay for another visit in the USA)

  7. Loyal Reader*

    I know that ad revenue is what keeps a site like this up and running, but is there any sort of way that Alison could eliminate the ads for Trump Hotels? there are plenty of businesses not owned my racist misogynist, pussy gropers who I am sure would love to place ads on this site.

    1. Becca*

      I feel similarly to you in that I’d rather not see it, but my husband doesn’t mind those ads because every click costs Trump money!

      Also, I may be wrong, but the ads shown on the site could be chosen by a third party.

    2. Allison Mary*

      I bet she doesn’t have any control over the actual ads that show up – she probably just contracts with some kind of an ad service, and that service itself picks out ads for people (and then probably charges the companies whose ads it wound up running). From what I understand, those are more likely to be based on things in your internet history or search history on various websites. I’ve noticed that when I’ve searched for a certain item on Amazon, that item or similar items suddenly starts showing up on ads on websites I visit.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I used to have Adwords on one of my sites, and Google gave me the ability to block advertisements from certain sites. If you think about it, the ability to block only makes sense. You don’t want to advertise for a competitor site, for example.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’ll see if it’s possible for me to block them. I had no idea they were even displaying, and I don’t want them to.

      (And yes, I don’t pick ads; companies buy via my ad service and a lot of it is automated, but I think they can block specific companies.)

    4. TootsNYC*

      There is a development of apartments on Manhattan’s west side, all with that name plastered all over them. I’m waiting to see if that affects their rental values.

      1. Chaordic One*

        I’ve heard that revenues are decidedly down at hotels and apartment complexes owned by Donald What’s-His-Name. Surprise, surprise.

        1. Florida*

          I’ve heard that the revenues at the south Florida resort are up (of course that is reported by the Trump Organization, so who knows). Maybe because his campaign keeps staying there. His campaign travels are based on where his resorts are, and it’s a plus when they are in a swing state. Fifteen more days …

  8. Storms ahead*

    My baby sister married young to a guy who already had terrible money problems and by the end of the brief marriage, her credit was ruined too. Her credit is so bad that she can’t even open a checking account. In the 8 years since, she’s lived with various friends and romantic partners, periodically bouncing back to our parents’ house for months here and there. Through it all, she has been steadily employed.

    This summer, she had a medical emergency and borrowed money from me to pay what insurance did not cover. She had a chart all printed out with a payment plan, and she made the first two payments without a problem. And then this month, she told me she’d quit her job so she couldn’t pay me, but her new love interest- of 2 months- would be getting paid at the end of the month and she’d pay me then.

    I want to shake her and say, “This is NOT how you adult!” I’m furious that she quit her job without another one lined up (her job was for sure d*cking her around a bit, but it wasn’t dangerous or toxic); that she is jumping headfirst into a romantic relationship so fast, and making herself completely dependent on this guy; and for thinking she was grown up enough to pay me back.

    Her MO when being lectured is to just shut down and cut off communication. Is there a way to tell her how disappointed I am that could be productive? Sigh.

    1. self employed*

      If you can afford it, I would ask her to stop payments until SHE is able to pay. It might allow you enough relationship bonus points that you could discuss the relationship/job issues. Although after saying “I’m concerned” and “I’m here for you,” there’s not a whole lot you can do. (Id personally also add “I’m not comfortable loaning you money again” but I understand that’s your personal decision.)

    2. neverjaunty*

      You can’t make her listen to what she doesn’t want to hear, but you can focus on the one thing she can’t really argue with (that she promised to pay you back). Don’t make it about the guy. That just lets her turn it into ‘you are trying to control me and you don’t see how great Fergus is blah blah’.

    3. Perse's Mom*

      Brutally honest? Nope. If her response to being told something she doesn’t like is to shut down and not talk to you (which is something a pouty teenager does), you have very limited options. You can’t make her adult; she has to figure that out for herself and based on what you’ve indicated here, she’s got some work to do… and she’s apparently not ready to do it yet. Some people never are.

      The best you can do is be there for her in ways that don’t put the burden entirely on you (she doesn’t get to emotionally shit on you or manipulate you or keep “borrowing” money and not paying it back). People talk about unconditional love (because faaaaamily!) but that’s not healthy for anybody involved.

      1. Sunflower*

        Totally agree esp with the last few sentences. Unconditional love is not healthy and continuing to help her out may just be further enabling the behavior as opposed to giving her the space to change.

      2. Gaia*

        I think you can unconditionally love someone and not enable their behavior. I love my mother and my sister without condition but I do not enable their bad behaviors and I don’t pretend I am okay with these behaviors. In fact, there have been times I’ve had to exclude them from my life for my own sanity. This does not mean I did not love them, still.

        Love =/= giving someone everything they ask to your own sacrifice. *That* is unhealthy for both parties.

    4. Lady Blerd*

      So it’s like her ex isn’t 100% responsible for her bad decisions. I think your only option here is to take this as a lesson and maybe not come to her rescue next time she needs financial help. 8 years and she hasn’t been able to get her credit back on track? There’s more going on then you think.

    5. Chickaletta*

      You can’t make her change. It’s been 8 years since she left her ex, so I don’t think her money problems can be blamed on him anymore. This is just how she is.

      Also, as a general life rule, don’t lend out money to family or friends unless you’re ok with not getting it back. I think the easier thing to do here is call this a lesson for yourself, and at least consider writing off her debt to you if you can afford to. And next time don’t give her money unless you intend it to be a gift.

    6. Stellaaaaa*

      Forgive me, but she sounds like the type of person who prioritizes an old-fashioned type of relationship over pretty much everything else. Am I in the ballpark? Does she just want to find a guy and get married? Because this isn’t strictly about finances; if that were the case, she’d be living with your parents long-term.

      I’m casting things into this perspective because based on what you’ve said here, I suspect that she might not bother getting a job as long as she’s living with a partner who’s employed. She’s not going to have an income of her own until she leaves this guy, since he’s apparently cool with her not working. So I guess you need to decide whether you’d accept money from her partner or if you’d be content to never get money drawn from your sister’s checking account until she’s single again.

    7. MillersSpring*

      I’m OK with you shaking her and saying This is NOT how you adult! Seriously. She needs a grown responsible loving friend or relative to persuade her to get on a mature path forward. Could you grab a couple of her friends and stage a mini intervention to get her away from boyfriends and coach her into a better job ASAP?

      1. Honeybee*

        I don’t know, if I had been steadily employed for 8 years trying to clean up my credit from a decision I made in my early 20s, and had to borrow money from my sister for a medical emergency, and then quit a job abruptly with no other job lined up (presumably for a good reason), I think I’d be pretty pissed if my sister and her friends “shook me and told me this is not how to adult.” She sounds like she’s adulting just fine – just maybe not the way her sister would do it.

        Also, there’s really no indication that she’s jumping into a romantic relationship too fast. She’s been dating someone for 2 months and then maybe asked to borrow money from them. Two months is maybe too early to ask to borrow large sums of money from someone but that doesn’t necessarily indicate that the relationship is moving too quickly.

    8. Gaia*

      I had to learn the hard way I cannot loan my sister money. I can gift her money, when I can afford it, but it can never be a loan. She always intends to pay it back but she is wildly irresponsible (thank you, drug addiction, immaturity and mental illness!) and makes terrible decisions. If I continue to expect her to pay me back, we can have no real relationship.

      So, now I have learned to say no when I cannot truly afford to be without the money. It means I’m able to help her less often, but it has significantly reduced my irritation and stress.

      1. snuck*


        I was going to say similar… now the OP knows that she can’t loan her sister money, that it can only be a gift.

        And… OP… now you are off the hook for ever loaning her again until she pays this all back!

    9. Lauren*

      It seems odd to me that in eight years she hasn’t been able to fix her bad credit–unless she hasn’t tried to fix it, which given her bouncing around. That said, she was at one job for quite a while. So I am not sure exactly where she is in terms of being “an adult.”

      You might want to write this money off as a gift. That would allow you to move on from the emotional and financial aspects of it. I realize that’s hard to do but it would be a gift more to yourself and to her. And that’s important because she might decide to fix herself and she might not. You cannot control that.

      I have a sister who is a new 65 years of age and has lived her whole life this way, feeling the world should support her. She is angry when anyone tries to offer help other than money, stating that no one loves her (or she would have what she wants) and that everyone wants to control her. There is nothing to be done. When my mother passes on, any money she might have inherited will go directly to her many creditors and no one from the family will give her a dime. I am pained at what I know is coming but she will listen to no one and is in full denial about any role she has played in that. It’s hard but I have removed myself emotionally from this and will not help her any more in any way because there is no help I or anyone else can provide that would be a helping hand and not (another) handout.

    10. ginger ale for all*

      If you would like to give her one more chance, see if you can both enroll in Financial Peace University run by Dave Ramsey. I suggest him because he has classes nationwide, books, podcasts, radio shows, etc. Then if her behavior persists, you will know not to give a drunk a drink and that you tried to fix the behavior. Try to not be judgmental about her choices and baggy but be there as a fellow soldier when you ask her to join the class with you. Perhaps you can pose it as self improvement/girls night out for both of you.

    11. Storms ahead*

      Thank you all for your thoughts and advice. She and I are about 400 miles apart, which of course complicates communication (and makes it easier to dodge me). You’re all right in that she’s had time to get her financial life turned around; thank you for that reminder. It’s too easy for me to trace her problems back to her ex, when in fact he was just one example of bad choices she’s made. This was the first time she ever asked me for money, and it will be the last time I provide it.

      Once again, I very much appreciate the perspectives from the outside!

    12. Student*

      The person you need to work on is yourself, not your sister.

      You need to get some perspective on and distance from your sister. You want to be a loving sister; you’re actually a controlling sister. Go read your own post! Get it together. It won’t fix your sister’s problems, but it will improve your relationship with her, maybe enough for you to be a positive influence instead of no influence at all.

      From your post:
      * “My baby sister” – opening line – infantilizing your adult sibling
      *”married young” – judging her choices
      * Blame her money problems on a guy – as if he controlled her money and she had no personal agency
      ** who she hasn’t been with in 8 years! Quit trying to blame others for her problems!
      *”can’t open a checking account” – Emphasizing her credit problems. If you were aware that she has severe credit problems, why didn’t you have a more realistic plan in mind when you decided to lend her money?
      *lived with friends and romantic partners and parents – How is this relevant to your argument? It’s not – y0u’re judging her for her housing choices
      * love interest “of 2 months” – you are judging her choice of romantic partner and deciding for her that it isn’t serious enough by your own standards to expect anything of him
      *worked for 8 years, then quit her job, but you’re furious at her for quitting hastily – That is not a pattern of irresponsible job-hopping. You’re judging her for not changing jobs the way you think she should, for not making the decision you would. You don’t actually know what prompted her quitting. What if it’s something more serious than she’s telling you? You blow up everything she does into an issue, so it’s not like she’s going to confide in you if her boss was harassing her, or if they actually laid her off, or so on.
      *”jumping headfirst into a romantic relationship so fast” – it’s been two months already and it’s not like she’s marrying him. You’re judging her relationship choices. The only thing you bring up here is that she’s trying to get money from her 2-month boyfriend to repay you, which is a little gutsy, but means she is prioritizing paying YOU back at possible risk to her romantic relationship with this guy by establishing that she owes him money instead of you.
      “making herself completely dependent on this guy” – You cite absolutely nothing to back this up other than she’s going to try to get him to pay you back for a medical debt she incurred with you. You are jumping to conclusions and judging her relationship. It sounds like, from your earlier description, she has several reliable fall-backs if things don’t work out with the guy that she’s been relying on for years.You have no reason to think she won’t get another job soon, either, you’re just assuming.
      “thinking she was grown up enough to pay you back” – Again, you are making a personal dig at her. Only legitimate gripe you have in here is that she didn’t pay you back on time. However, she made two payments on time, she was 100% upfront about why she was going to miss this third payment, and she proposed a way to get back on track for payments. Sounds like she’s doing everything she can to mitigate the impact of her choices on the repayment of the loan to you. Maybe you should give her the benefit of the doubt for a month? If she misses payment #4, then you should worry more and talk to her about the loan payment plan. It’s also stupid of anyone to lend money to family, for exactly these reasons – unable to separate the loan (business) from the relationship. You knew what you were getting into by lending her money, and you did it to have leverage over her life and choices instead of to help her out.
      *”Her MO when being lectured is to just shut down and cut off communication.” Unsolicited advice is always self-serving. You criticize every move she makes and can’t stop seeing her as a child instead of as an adult with agency over her own decisions; decisions that have not ruined her life even though they are profoundly different than your own decisions. Of course she shuts down when you lecture her! Stop trying to be her mother. Stop trying to be her “big sister to the rescue”. Start treating her like an adult whose decisions over her own life deserve respect, even when you profoundly disagree with them. Start keeping your mouth shut unless she asks for your advice or your help. Stop trying to get leverage into controlling her life, and start treating her like a person. You don’t own her, you aren’t responsible for her conduct, she’ll be fine without you riding to the rescue or riding roughshod all over her.

      Forgive the loan, don’t loan her money again, and then try to figure out a way to reset this disfunctional relationship to something more even-keeled.

    13. Honeybee*


      I have a younger sister, too, who makes life decisions that make me raise my eyebrows. If she asks me for advice I am happy to give it, and sometimes she floats an idea past me that I tell her is a bad idea because of Reasons. But my sister is stubborn and headstrong and if she’s unwilling to listen to me or anyone else, she won’t. And that’s her right, right? She’s an adult. She can make her own mistakes and choices. (The lesson I had to learn was not to lend her any large amounts of money.)

      Even if you do choose to talk to her, though, “how disappointed I am in you” is probably not the best way to approach it. That sounds needlessly mothering. Why not take a more sisterly tack, like “what the hell, dude, you relying on some dude you’ve known for two months?” And wait until you’re not angry anymore.

      1. Honeybee*

        Also, I am a grown mature adult and I think I would shut down (or, alternatively get pissed) if someone deigned to lecture me about how to be an adult, let alone my older sister. People don’t like to be lectured. Even if I think my sister needs help, I certainly don’t lecture her. Instead of a lecture, why not approach her with a conversation?

  9. MacGirl*

    Just to give you all an update on this post from a few weeks back, I found a place! I managed to move most of everything in a day, and my new roommate was kind enough to help me when I got into a jam finding a way to move my bedroom furniture.

    1. TootsNYC*

      I like the sound of that roommate, so far. There are decent roommates out there; I hope you’ve gotten one.

  10. Mazzy*

    Does anyone know if there is any support group like AA but for problem drinkers, not full fledged alcoholics? I’m familiar with AA but don’t think it is for my friend, because her drinking isn’t a progressive disease that is getting worse, I trully think she’d be OK drinking in moderation and learning how to stop sooner. We’ve discussed getting healthy and I didn’t want to mention drinking straight out if AA was my only option.

    I don’t know if anyone else had used AA here, but even when the person wants to change their life, I don’t see how a problem drinker or someone who just wants to get healthy can use it. The program is too intense. You get a sponsor and then never drink again. Most of the speakers’ lives were out of control before they sought help. Some of the attendees had serious mental or emotional issues they were covering up. Many of them drank until they blacked out. We discussed drinking a few weeks back and I have to be honest, even as bad as it impacted my health, I was never that bad. I never related to blacking out. I don’t think that is even a physical possibility for me, I would get sick long before that.

    As we get older, I find some people I knew are open to admitted they problem drink, but I really can’t recommend lifelong sobriety and a sponsor for them. They just aren’t that bad. Does anyone know of any sort of toned down version?

    Also, on another note, has anyone ever been to an AA meeting? I always found it interesting how so many people create a strong tie between emotional issues and blackout drinking, as in, they were drinking to cope with mental issues. I know that can be a thing, but I can’t help but wonder that at least half of them would have drunk anyway. I always thought, if you drank to cover up issues, then more power to you by addressing them. But if you’re someone who has issues like anyone else then drank because you wanted to drink or because you wanted to be social and then it got out of hand, I don’t get how focusing on those other issues is going to help you stop drinking and to stay sober.

    I think it has become so rooted in our society that any unpleasant experience in childhood = lifelong anxiety. Again, not dismissing all of the millions of cases of child abuse and legitimate drama that scars people. But I’ve been to enough AA to hear people describe pretty common but bad experiences that happen to most people and then go on to basically say, and that is why I drank every night and often blacked out. But everyone else deals with the same problems (layoffs, breakups, whatever) and may not drink or may have a few. There has to be something else there. Maybe its something physical, I don’t know, but long comment short, if someone doesn’t drink heavily and is pretty content in life but needs help cutting down, I’m not sure what official program exists to help them.

    1. self employed*

      Perhaps a therapist?

      Forgive me if I am misreading, but your comment reads as a bit, well, unempathetic. Certainly AA is not for everyone, but it seems like a pretty broad brush you’re painting with. I think you’re trying to say that your friend isn’t like what you’ve seen in AA meetings, but that doesn’t mean she couldn’t actually have a significant alcohol problem. (Or a slight alcohol problem! Both warrant help, no?)

      If it were my friend I would ask if she sees any issue w her drinking; if so, I’d proceed to help her set healthy limits. If she couldn’t stick with them I would recommend some one-on-one therapy.

      1. Mazzy*

        I’m wondering if there is some group out there similar to AA but not as intense. It’s not about being empathetic or not, it’s just that I’ve been through AA and know there is a common narrative for why people drink and how they are helpless, etc. and it’s not for everyone. Not as in, they aren’t going to like it, but as in, if the common narrative isn’t true for that person, then that program isn’t going to help them to stop drinking. And I am asking about a group because I do think the community aspect is important

        1. Sunflower*

          Binge drinking is on the rise so there might be some support groups out there aimed at that- not sure how old your friend is but I’d think college campuses would have a lot of that. That might be more what your friend is dealing with as opposed to full fledged alcoholic.

          If you friend is dealing with other mental issues, I would look at support groups there too as she is most likely not the only one dealing with those things who also have issues with alcohol.

    2. Auralie*

      I actually did this myself. I set rules on when, how much, and where I would drink: not alone, with certain friends, not at home, etc. For me it was helpful to identify why I was drinking too much. Once I took care of that issue, it was a matter of breaking the habit I had acquired as a coping mechanism.
      And I think your comment is fine, I didn’t read any intended slight to anyone in it.

      1. INTP*

        I did the same thing. Over a few years I kind of worked out what my triggers are as far as problematic drinking behavior, and I just avoid them. In my case, I specifically cannot go past tipsy into drunk in a social setting. That’s when I lose the part of my brain that tells me when I need to stop drinking, so I might just stay socially acceptably drunk, or I might get really out of control, I have no real control over it. Strangely enough, I can drink alone and I’m fine.

        I do think it would have been nice to have the structure of a like-minded community when all this was happening, though. I sensed that I had a problem in college, but I didn’t really know how to go about getting help for it when there seemed to be a binary “You’re an alcoholic or you’re not” view of problematic drinking. I didn’t feel like I needed to give up alcohol entirely and permanently because I did stupid things while drunk at age 21, and it turns out I was right.

    3. Sunflower*

      Everyone deals with the same problems but not everyone deals with them the same. It’s not about the things that happen to people- it’s about how they cope with it. Generally, coping mechanisms are learned in childhood. For example, I am good at dealing with death but terrible at breakups. So if my parent died, I might be back on my feet relatively quickly but if it doesn’t work out with a guy I like, I could go into a depression for months.

      I would suggest therapy. I don’t know anyone in AA or anyone who would call them self an alcoholic so I don’t know why they drink. I do know some problem drinkers and all of them have some mental issues or insecurities. I also think there are people who drink to be social or loosen up or because it’s fun and once they’re drunk, their issues start flowing out of them and they hate the way they feel the next day.

      1. friend of bill's*

        One of the signs of co-dependence is that someone else’s drinking bothers you. Once way to help your friend who drinks too much is to attend Al-Anon meetings yourself. Try at least 6 to see if this is a program that can help you.

        1. Another Dreamer*

          I don’t think being bothered by someone’s drinking always means that you’re co-dependent. It’s normal and healthy to care about people and feel troubled when you see them hurting themselves or others (with alcohol or anything else). Other people’s drinking can also directly affect you. If your partner or family member become argumentative or winds up in difficult situations that require your help when drinking, it is your problem too and it’s normal to have feelings about it.

          1. friend of bill's*

            I didn’t mean co-dependent in a negative way. I meant that the person’s drinking behavior is affecting the person some way- nasty language, money issues, friendship issues, unacceptable behavior and if it all point so the friend/family member’s drinking. If a person is bothered by their drinking to the extent that they are looking for solutions to it, Al-Anon might be able to help.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      A couple of things hit me here.
      Does she want to stop drinking? If no, then full stop. The desire to stop drinking has to come from her.
      Watch out for the pitfall of deciding what would work for your friend. It’s true that she may just need to scale back, but only your friend knows for certain what she needs. It’s so easy for us to decide what would work and in reality we actually don’t know everything we need to know to make that decision. I have fallen into this pit myself. Only the person who is having the experience knows for sure.

      If she gets involve in some of the alternative stuff out there she might find something to help her. I got involved in eating simpler foods and so on. By that point in my life I was down to about six drinks a year. So when it came up, “Oh, btw, avoid alcohol” it was just a comment in passing for me. I dropped those six drinks a year immediately. No big deal. But the idea here is that if she has something better that she is going toward that might give her incentive to lessen or eliminate the drinking. Again, though, it’s got to be her choice and her call.

      One last thought. I quit most of my drinking in my early 20s. Two things happened. One was I had extra time on my hands and no idea what to do with it. The other thing that happened was many of my friends just vanished. I had to get a new group of friends. My friendships were based on going to the bar on Fridays and Saturdays. When I stopped going to the bar, I didn’t see my friends. Try to understand that it’s not just about slowing down or quitting drinking, there are little seemingly unrelated surprises like this that come up and have to be dealt with.

      1. Mazzy*

        Well, you’re right, I am projecting on her. I do look at her and think, if I drank that, I’d be sick! And then get all upset that I have to do something. But she doesn’t get sick. Or seem to be suffering consequences. I don’t know.

    5. Perse's Mom*

      There’s a lot to unpack here, but let me say that as a child of an alcoholic, you say “problem drinker” and I hear “alcoholic in denial.”

      Guess what! You don’t have to have terrible childhood traumas to eventually become an alcoholic anymore than you have to have terrible childhood traumas to be clinically depressed. Sometimes shit just happens. You like how being drunk makes you feel (drinking to drink!), so you keep drinking (to be social!), until you eventually rely on it (it gets out of hand!). Congrats, you’re an alcoholic.

      And also, as much as there are problems with AA, it’s NOT okay to cast aspersions on people who are using it to get help (which you absolutely are, with the whole “we’re not as bad as THOSE people” theme running through your post). It doesn’t work for all of them. Recovery is a process and a life long one at that. But at least they’ve moved past calling themselves “problem drinkers.”

      1. Pennalynn Lott*

        Meh. I sometimes fall into a pattern of eating too much or even exercising too much, then I realize I’ve gotten into a bad habit and back off. Same with drinking. My mom has been in AA (and sober) for 36 years, so I was raised on all the AA cliches. One of the key things I remember from going to meetings with her is that any time a person did something that AAers disapproved of, the AAers would all jump on the “You’re in denial!” bandwagon. No answer on the planet was acceptable until you said, “I’m an alcoholic / have X addiction,” regardless of the actual behavior or its [lack of] severity.

        I’ve seen more harm than good done in AA. It works for some people, but they’re a minority. There’s a lot of blaming and shaming in the program; a lot of “It’s our way or the highway,” (actually, it’s more like, “Without AA you’ll end up in one of three places (1) jail, (2) the gutter, or (3) the morgue.”) which not only doesn’t work for the majority of people who would like to alter their drinking patterns and coping skills, but that trope about jail / gutter / morgue simply isn’t true for the vast, vast majority of people who find themselves drinking more than they’d like to.

        1. Mazzy*

          I hate to say this but I agree with you. I didn’t want to start an anti AA thing, I’m still asking what alternatives there are besides going it alone. So yeah, none of my friends actually asked for help. But we’re all around 40 and alot of the shame associated with these sorts of things has fallen by the wayside, not to mention the physical side is catching up with us, so they seem much more open to admitting they drank or drink too much.

          I found and sometimes still find AA helpful to listen and for the community atmosphere but never got too involved for the reasons you describe. My first week I went, it did help me not to drink, I think I had 3 drinks once that week. So that was a huge reduction for me, but I also couldn’t fit into the AA program without completely giving up alcohol. That doesn’t mean I was in denial. They whole reason I went was to get help cutting down. And frankly, nothing bad happened when I slipped a little. I didn’t get sick or miss work or drive drunk, and 3 drinks isn’t enough to halt the physical healing process I was probably going through.

          Actually the “you’re in denial” attitude of some people always perplexed me. I’m going to AA because I see clear as day that I have an issue. The question is, what is the issue. You’re (meaning some people at AA or friends trying to help) coming at me like I have a strong addiction that is going to ruin my life, but that’s just not the reality. To you, that is denial. But if I was in denial I wouldn’t be there at all having the discussion. Actually I started drinking less for the year before I even went to AA. So it’s more of getting stuck on different perceptions of reality than denial.

          Well, since I kind of started an anti-AA thing, I’ll just add, I don’t agree with the other theme of the meetings that alcoholism is a progressive disease that will eventually ruin your life. It totally doesn’t account for those who level off on their own or naturally drink less as they get older. I guess they were never really alcoholics then? But those are the same type of people you say are in denial about being alcoholics. Which is it!

        2. Mazzy*

          And about the severity thing, those three drinks that first week wouldn’t have been viewed as a success. It would have been viewed as a “relapse” as severe as someone who went on a three day binge. Even though they aren’t the same at all.

          1. Pennalynn Lott*

            Yep, the whole “drinking alcohol = moral failure” just doesn’t make sense to me. Even getting to the point where you realize you’re drinking more but not getting drunker isn’t a moral issue. The human body is highly adaptable. Is someone who takes their coffee black a morally superior person than the one who “needs” sugar in it? Alcohol, for 90% of the population, is like sugar. You may get to a point where you’re eating so much of it that your body craves it and food tastes weird if there’s not a lot of sugar in it, but then you just work on slowly cutting back. Some people cut it out entirely, some people cut back by a little. Whatever works for them.

            It would be so weird to tell an acquaintance that lately I’ve been craving and eating a lot more candy than I normally do, and have them go off on a rant about how that means I’m in denial of my sugar addiction. Wha—??? No. It just means that I need to back up a bit, readjust my taste buds and my gut flora, and go back to eating sweets only a few times a month, not a few times a day. No need to confess my moral failings and take a personal inventory. Yeesh.

        3. Mazzy*

          Oh, your comment actually opened a can of worms in my head.

          As per the blaming and shaming, I just realized another reason I never got into it is because I don’t really have anyone to apologize to. I guess my husband for not being as thrifty as I could? But for me and many others, the drinking was just as much a mental pattern as an action thing.

          Actually, if anything, I let people walk all over me when I was drinking and didn’t set boundaries and let people hurt me – not the other way around. If I drank I was just always nice, because I never wanted someone to figure out I had had a drink and then think that I said something or did something because I was out of control. So I think even the assumption that ever drinker has someone to apologize to doesn’t even hold true.

        4. C*

          Wow, you went to some crap AA meetings. The anecdata you’re spreading is seriously harmful for anyone who is on the fence about whether or not they have a problem. Your mom has 36 years, which is not nothing. AA meetings are everywhere (including online) and people who are serious about getting sober should shop around.
          That said, I definitely have meetings I prefer over others–whether it has do to with topics, readings, or the people who show up regularly.
          People who drink more than they’d like to are not necessarily alcoholics.

      2. Mazzy*

        I’m not casting aspersions on people using AA at all. I’ve used it. I’ve also seen people related to everything everyone else said and trying to turn meetings into personal therapy sessions. As someone that used AA, I think I’m allowed to point out its flaws more than someone off of the street.

        Your second paragraph is in total agreement with me even though you wrote it as if its counter what I said. That is part of what formed my belief that AA isn’t going to work for everyone. The narrative the program takes is that everyone is a broken person and that talking about your problems and anxieties will help solve your alcoholism. However, as you point out, not everyone drinks for those reasons. For many it starts out as social drinking and then just progresses.

        1. SeptemberGrrl*

          I don’t think there are any support groups to help people drink in moderation. If your friend is looking for help in doing that, therapy is a good option.

    6. Snazzy Hat*

      For you, I recommend Al-Anon (geared more toward people who have a heavy drinker or alcoholic in their life). ACOA — Adult Children of Alcoholics — might work too, but I admit my knowledge of ACOA is limited to knowing someone who has attended those meetings for years.

      Either way, in most cases you are welcome to attend a local meeting, decide if it’s right for you, and try another group if you prefer. You don’t have a sponsor, and you don’t have someone hounding you to attend meetings. (If that ends up happening, that’s not cool or normal.)

      You may want to consider counseling/therapy for yourself, too, to the tune of monthly or tri-weekly sessions during which you give your counselor updates on what’s bugging you and/or what’s pleasant in your life. Some of the sessions I have go all over the place, and most counselors will understand that and not demand you talk about a specific thing. (They might ask, “how are you doing with ____”, but if they push for answers without empathy they are not worth your time.)

      1. Dan*

        I hated al-anon, and did try a couple of groups. My issue is that many groups have a “no cross talk” policy, so it ends up with a bunch of people giving monologues. Me, I need to dialogue, both when it’s my turn and someone else’s.

        TBH, I met a lot of strange people. One guy would go because of an ex gf — someone who had been out of his life for over three years. Another person attended meetings *every day* with different chapters. Uh, what?

        1. C*

          In AA–at least where I live–there are three meetings. The meeting before The Meeting, The Meeting, and the meeting after the meetings. (There is a lot of coffee involved in the 1st and 3rd meetings.) Those are the meetings where you cross talk. The Meeting? That’s where you listen.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Years ago, I went into the ACOA website while I did not spend long there ( a few nights after work) I learned tons and applied it to my life. It was very helpful in pointing out the differences between a healthy family dynamic and an unhealthy family dynamic. The problem with an unhealthy family dynamic is that you learn the unhelpful or self-defeating responses to things.
        A good friend had pointed it out to me because she said the same advice can apply even if there are no drinkers in the home. People can exhibit the same defeating habits and the same thought process and never drink a drop. This caught my attention. I said I have to learn more.
        While I did not attend meetings, etc. and I really did not spend a lot of time going over the site, I was able to apply stuff to my life immediately.

    7. Stellaaaaa*

      I kind of get what you’re saying here. For me, the “higher power” aspect of AA is what turns me off. Some people would say that it’s mostly about giving up control or acknowledging that you’re not the biggest thing in the universe, but what if taking back control would help you? What if your problem stems from not prioritizing your own emotional needs enough?

      That said, I do think there is maybe almost always some driving force behind problem drinking. Even if the physical/chemical addiction isn’t there, there’s still something pushing you to drink that much. Like 95% of everyone ever, I’ve had some BAD drinking nights. I’ve even gotten way too drunk as a reaction to emotional stuff. But I’ve also always gotten up the next day feeling terrible and able to feel that I don’t want to drink again for a while. And then I don’t. If you’re unable to go to a bar or restaurant, or to hang out with a group of friends who are drinking, and you cannot resist the urge to order a beer, that’s a compulsion that needs to be examined.

      Maybe this is what you’re talking about? I realize that I can be glib about this stuff because I’m fortunate to not have addictive tendencies. However, I’d say that, as someone who can easily abstain from drinking when I just don’t feel like drinking, I’ve been in a position to see people who I don’t think are addicted alcoholics but still cannot have a night out without drinking themselves stupid. I don’t think AA would help them. Realistically, I think getting better jobs (that they have to be clean and alert for) and better friends (who want to do more than drink) is what they need.

      1. Mazzy*

        I’m mulling over your comment. I actually like the “higher power” concept of AA but don’t like how they tie it to being helpless. I also don’t agree when they say “my life has become unmanagable” because even when I drank almost daily I still did more than most people at work and at home.

        So I feel the need to say something positive about AA since I’ve started a thread saying so many bad things about them. I often here “when I was a alcoholic I felt like my life was done, I was scared about what tomorrow was bringing. Now I don’t know what tomorrow brings, but that is an exciting feeling. I don’t know what tomorrow brings went from terrifying to exciting.” And I really like that, because the older I get, the less I feel secure in anything. People die, solid jobs dissappear, etc. and it is empowering to see people who were completely in despair about the future actually completely change and accept the future like that

      2. C*

        The idea of a higher power is basically to get you to kick your ego to the curb. (General you, not you specifically.) You can’t control everything. I can’t, but I threw a bunch of energy away trying to prove that idea wrong.
        There are bigger things in the universe than me. My family. My work. Reading. My cat. Connecting with other humans. Breeze.
        All of these fall under the Higher Power idea.
        I’m not helpless–which word Mazzy keeps using–I am powerless over alcohol. I can’t have just one drink. Shrug.
        But I can choose, today (for example) to read, make coffee, feed my cat, post a bunch of letters to people who live in other countries, probably make some delicious food later, and go to a meeting because it’s still in the 60’s here and I am going to walk my a$$ off before winter settles in.
        If your friends are drinking themselves stupid, I’m not sure how realistic it is to hope that a better job will fix it.

    8. Pennalynn Lott*

      As for alternate resources, Google “drinking in moderation”. You’ll find groups like “Moderation Management” and “Moderate Drinking dot com” and a host of others. Some have in-person meetings, some have online meetings (or group discussions), and some are purely informational.

    9. Dan*

      My ex mother in law was the AA poster child that you describe. Her daughter, my ex wife, was the queen of word smithing. My ex would never admit to being “drunk”, the only acceptable word was “tipsy”, never mind that she (my ex) could throw up on the floor in the middle of a conversation without making an effort to go to the bathroom to take care of said business. I see some of that in your post — you’re using a lot of word smithing to say that things aren’t that bad. Some people might call that denial — there’s a reason people have to say “Hi, my name is X, and I’m an alcoholic.”

      There’s only a few really important questions to ask here: 1) Is alcohol usage negatively impacting life? 2) Is there a desire to change? 3) Do you know where your stopping point is, and can you stop there?

      I do suspect that everybody in AA thinks their life would be fine if they drank less, but were still able to drink something. But people in AA realize that the only way to kick the habit is going cold turkey.

      Don’t get me wrong — AA ain’t for everybody, and I’m not trying to suggest it is. But your post spends a lot of time trying to make a claim that there’s a difference between “problem drinker” and “alcoholic” where I am not sure there is much of one.

      1. Mazzy*

        I have a strong conviction that there is a difference, based on my experience with AA though. And to preface, I’m totally not being argumentative here, I’m trying to figure this out and you are helping.

        So my experience with AA has been positive despite the nitpicking I’ve done above. However, I can’t relate to most of the attendees precisely because of what I call the “alcoholic” vs. “problem drinker” distinction.

        They are very nice people and I wanted to relate to them, honestly, I did, but they all had hours of stories of absolutely crazy things they’ve done while drunk that I can’t relate to at all. Stealing peoples’ wallets, sleeping around, waking up and not knowing where they were, not going home for days on end, sitting in bars regularly from after work until closing time, blacking out, losing jobs, losing relationships, throwing up blood, having so much unprotected sex that they got HIV – there have been alot of horrible stories and I’m not undermining that at all.

        What about the people that leveled off at “I drank when I didn’t need to” or “I went from 2 drinks to 4 drinks at happy hour and I can’t go back to 2” phase years ago? You can’t honestly say you’re life is unmanagable and you give up and submit to a higher power at that phase, because your life isn’t out of control at all. You just want help because alcohol’s effect is so empowering and physical – – – but you’re not addicted yet

        1. Dan*

          I kinda think that most of this is a “slippery slope” and there isn’t a bright line test. Do you know you’re going to drink 4 drinks at happy hour but keep telling yourself that you will only drink 2? Who cares, unless you’re a 100 lb female who drove, and has to drive home, and drives home drunk. (Or doesn’t drive home drunk, but has to leave the car parked over night.) That’s certainly a start down the slope.

          If you’re a 100 lb female who knows she’s going out to happy hour and will have four drinks, but takes the bus to work because she knows she’s going to drink too much to drive home and will just as soon not deal with getting the car the next morning? I’d call that a heavy drinker, but strangely responsible. (I’m not picking on women here, but we need to be clear that four drinks for a tiny person is vastly different than four drinks for a big dude. I’ve seen women drink what I drink, then two hours later be completely shit faced, whereas I’m good to drive.)

          The person who lost his job because of alcoholism? It wouldn’t surprise me if that started as an occasional Monday hangover that morphed into an every-Monday hangover… or when you start going out to happy hour with “the gang”, but then are always the one closing out the bar… and showing up to work the next day with a hangover. Or those hangovers translate into blown-off meetings and not showing up to work until noon. When does that turn into “oh hell, it’s 1pm, I may as well just take a sick day”?

          We all have that line, and it’s different for every one. You are definitely an alcoholic if you are dependent on alcohol, and not just for a good time. The alcoholics that you’re talking about (and that I’ve seen) drink so far beyond excess and so often that they can’t be drinking for the pleasant buzz. But you can certainly be the person who lost a job due to alcohol related activities and never get that completely far gone.

          Sometimes I think we attach too much meaning to labels. If you have behaviors you want to change, because they’re leading you down a path you don’t want to go, you’re not doing yourself any favors by worrying about the “alcoholic” label. Focus on what you need to do — have a hard stop for the number of drinks at happy hour, or take the bus when you know you’re going out, for example. But if you keep telling yourself that you’re going to “be responsible” but then aren’t, well, that’s a first step down the slope, because it sure sounds a lot like being “powerless over alcohol” and not admitting it (which is called denial).

          Not too long ago, someone wrote in asking for advice about inviting a recovering alcoholic to a party where heavy drinking would occur. A few people chimed in with, “With drinking like that, you’re worried about the person who *won’t* be drinking?”

          1. Mazzy*

            Mmm mmm this is really well put. I’m already going to bed soon and have a full day tomorrow but definitely am coming back to this thread tomorrow night or monday, there’s alot of advice and good experience coming out. Thanks

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I am reading along here and my thought is I am wondering if what you are seeing is the difference between psychological addiction and physical addiction.

          Someone pointed out to me that the first stage of addiction is psychological. They said it is easier to quit at this stage because you just deal with the thinking/emotional aspects of the quitting.
          Once the physical addiction kicks in the person now has two problems- the thinking /emotional part and the physical part.

          This kind of scared me because it resonated. I could go without drinking, no prob. But every weekend I went out and got ripped anyway. Why. And this brought in boatloads of thinking and emotional stuff. I wanted to be with my friends, but the only time I saw them was at the bar. I wanted some semblance of an ordinary life, rather than the life actually I had. My list went from there. I finally landed on “I am not having fun at the bar.” Period. Full stop. It just was not my idea of fun.

          When my friend pointed out psychological addiction vs physical addiction, I realized to my horror that I had enough key pieces in place that I could could start to get psychologically addicted. In short, I realized quit now, or I might spend a lifetime dealing with this problem. It scared me how easy it is to fall into this pit.

          What I see in your posts is that you are noticing there a varying degrees of alcohol usage. You feel that AA is suited best for people who have a severe or near severe problem, because your friend’s problem is not severe you wonder if the AA message would even begin to mean anything to her. The links about moderation that another person posted might be the thing you are looking for. I have not looked at the links but I want to later on.

    10. Natalie*

      There are definitely alternatives to AA, whether she wants to quit drinking entirely or cut back. For quitting entirely, she could check out Rational Recovery, SMART Recovery, or an evidence-based recovery program with an individual counselor. The first two have both online communities and in-person groups. For cutting back, she could look at Moderation Management or Hello Sunday Morning. Moderation Management is online and groups, HSM is completely online app-based. There are others, too, just google “AA alternatives” to find them.

      1. Kara Zor-El*

        I’ll second SMART Recovery — a good friend of mine has been sober for 5 years with the support of her SMART group.

      1. Pennalynn Lott*

        Thank you for posting the link to this article. It does a much better job than I ever could articulating the problems I have with AA.

        “We’ve grown so accustomed to testimonials from those who say AA saved their life that we take the program’s efficacy as an article of faith. Rarely do we hear from those for whom 12-step treatment doesn’t work. But think about it: How many celebrities can you name who bounced in and out of rehab without ever getting better? Why do we assume they failed the program, rather than that the program failed them?”

      2. Mazzy*

        I’m reading it now but it’s going to take a while. In the beginning of it, I was thinking that he was an ideal candidate AA because his drinking was so extreme, but he said the same exact thing I said, that 1 drink in relapse might as well be a 100. When you’ve actually live through this this article is really intense and I’m analyzing every paragraph – thanks.

    11. Anxa*

      I don’t have any resources, but I do I want to say that I agree that there can be problem drinking without an alcohol addiction.

      I have a parent who drinks socially, somewhat regularly. Holidays, nights out with friends, etc. But every once in a while drinks by themself, somewhat in ‘secret,’ and then get’s belligerent, sloppy, and is in complete denial that they had been drinking or our drunk. This happened after menopause and isn’t necessarily after many drinks.

      Then months or years can go by without another incident.

    12. INTP*

      I don’t personally know about anything like this, but I thought I’d chime in to say that I REALLY wanted to find something like it in college. I knew then that I had an issue with alcohol, but not with being addicted to it, just the decisions that I made while drunk and limiting how drunk that I got. I never went to an AA meeting because I didn’t feel I needed to commit to giving up alcohol entirely for the rest of my life at age 21 (and I didn’t), but I did want some kind of forum to talk about it and figure out how to go about managing it. I worked it out on my own over the course of several years, but looking above it seems like there are a few groups out there, so I’m glad those exist now.

    13. C*

      I’m in recovery. I’d suggest AA Open meetings–you don’t have to consider yourself an alcoholic to go, but many of the people there will self-ID as alcoholics, and it might help her to hear how much you can lose from drinking. (Health, relationships, jobs–to name a few.) If there is alcoholism in her family, Al-Anon. Otherwise, therapy?

      If she’s trying to cut down and can’t, well, that’s a huge red flag. It’s not clear from your letter.

      You write that she’s content–does she want to cut down, or do you want her to?

      There is no one way to ‘be’ an alcoholic. You’re basically an alcoholic if you are powerless over alcohol. I can’t have, for example, two glasses of wine a week. Some alcoholics never black out or lose a job or get divorced. Others escalate to hard drugs and homelessness.

      It’s not ‘too intense’–it’s as intense as you need it to be. I can skip meetings for weeks on end or go to three a day. I’m on my second sponsor, and neither of my sponsors have put me in some kind of AA jail. It’s a program of attraction–if she doesn’t want sobriety she is not going to magically have it handed to her in an AA meeting.

      A lot of drunks–myself included–don’t drink to deal with mental issues, abuse, etc. but to forget them because a bottle is less scary than dealing with your parent who has a raging personality disorder. Until, of course, it isn’t. If your friend can’t stop but isn’t progressing, she might be a functional alcoholic. Until she isn’t.

      Your letter does not really demonstrate a real understanding of alcoholism, which is a disease. Would you shame someone who had cancer? MS? Your letter is dismissive.

      If you’re sincere in your efforts to help your friend, you might want to educate yourself about alcoholism and AA before you start judging others. I’m glad you’re not an alcoholic. Your letter is so full of shaming your friend/possible alcoholics out in the world. I’ve read it now five times. If your friend is possibly on the fence about seeking help, wherever it may come from? A talk or message from you with the overtones you’ve communicated here would be the opposite of helpful.

      High five for not being an alcoholic. It sounds like your friend needs help. Check your pre-conceptions, and offer whatever you can to her, however small.

      just a ps: before I was ready to really own being an alcoholic, I was all kinds of defensive to any poor sap who tried to help me. So my general advice: be there for her. be ready to accept the fact that she might be angry/sad/defensive if you bring it up, check your judgment and educate yourself, make sure you have boundaries that are also healthy for you Most importantly: her health is WAY more important than your ideas about alcoholism which are based on anecdata. You are almost definitely not the help she needs, but you might be able to steer her in a healthier direction.

      1. friend of bill's*

        Thank you C.

        I was having trouble articulating why I was having a reaction to the poster’s letter.
        Your words were perfect.

    14. Another Dreamer*

      I have friends who are in AA and related groups. It seems to work very well for some people, but I agree that it’s not for everyone.

      I also think that you can be an unhealthy drinker without being an alcoholic. For some people, alcohol is the issue. For others, it’s situational or symptomatic of another issue that, if addressed, would solve problem. And some people learn unhealthy drinking habits which can be changed.

      It would be great if there was a general Alcohol and Health discussion group, something that would offer support to people who just want to make healthiet choices about alcohol, whether it’s to give it up or just be more responsible about it.

    15. Student*

      AA is actually not based on any evidence-oriented addiction treatment. It’s just very well-known branding. The whole AA process is based off gut feelings, a specific set of religious beliefs, and some catchy slogans rather than through rigorous trial and error. It certainly helps some people, but the average relapse rate to problem drinking is higher down the AA path than down evidence-based addiction treatment plans. Most people with a drinking problem can, in fact, go back to drinking in moderation better than they can go the abstinence route.

      If your friend needs help, go find someone who treats addictions. Not a support group; a trained physician who specializes in addiction treatment. Many of them will recommend AA, but keep shopping around until you find one that doesn’t push AA hard if you already know it’s a non-starter. Addiction is an often-treatable condition.

  11. Miaw*

    I am currently watching Suits and I realized Pearson Specter Litt is a highly dysfunctional workplace. First, Mike and Harvey has absolutely no professional boundaries between them from day 1. The firm hired a fraud and covered it up for years. Louis is the description of boss from hell. Employees had sex in the filing room….

    I still love the show but I will never want to work there.

    1. James*

      I can’t think of a single portrayal of an office in movies/TV that doesn’t show a highly dysfunctional workplace. All hospital dramas are dysfunctional even by hospital standards (no insult here, it’s just that an ER is different from an accounting firm!). No courtroom drama accurately portrays police work or lawyers. The most accurate portrayal of a scientist is Allen Grant from Jurassic Park. Parks and Recreation would be a nightmare to work at.

      I think part of it is that TV focuses on relationships, while in real life there’s a lot of focus on the procedures. On TV folks will bend or break the rules for a good employee. In the real world, a good employee doesn’t NEED anyone to bend or break the rules. It makes for better TV, but horrible business sense.

      1. Red*

        Hospital dramas are dysfunctional *especially* by actual hospital standards, lol. If anyone in my workplace even thought of acting how anyone on House acted, they’d be out the door so fast their head would spin. That’s the fun of hospital dramas – the drama!

          1. NacSacJack*

            When they killed off TR Knight in that dramatic way on Grey’s Anatomy, I checked out. The stuff wityh Izzy was bizarre enough, but to kill George after he was off the show???

      2. INTP*

        Yep. Plus, TV shows are expected to show a high level of closeness between the main characters that might make sense to some extent for a family or even a group of friends (though it still gets dysfunctional in that context), but is kind of ridiculous and unhealthy among coworkers. You should not unconditionally have your coworkers’ backs! You should support them when you feel they are right, but still not in a self-destructive or deceitful-to-management way.

    2. Stellaaaaa*

      Shows like this, where everyone breathes for their job and never goes home, are why a lot of people don’t know what the eff to do with their lives. They grew up watching shows about careers that are no longer available, with no model for how to spend their free time or to nurture friendships outside of work. The First 48 actually gets it right. You hear the cops saying, “I’m not approved for overtime. If we don’t find this kid by 5 I still need to go home.”

    3. Sami*

      My secret favorite TV show actually illustrates pretty decent management, and it’s even a reality show. “Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team” – check it out. It’s on CMT and their new season just finished but they show reruns in the mornings (set your DVR).

      1. the gold digger*

        A friend of mine from college married a former Cowboys cheerleader. I have a question for the group because this has been bugging me for years – what is the appropriate age for little girls to start wearing makeup and getting their hair blown out? I saw photos of the friend’s daughter when she was about eight in eyeshadow, mascara, and lipstick, which seemed – totally inappropriate, creepy, and gross to me.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Yeah, around twelve or thirteen seems okay to me, but some women who are really into “beauty” (of the consumer variety) just can’t wait to see how their daughters look with that yardstick applied. My cousin who was really into the pageant circuit and competed in our state’s pageant as a precursor for a Miss America attempt is the same way about her daughter; she couldn’t wait to see how she’d look all made up and dressed like a little adult.

        2. Marillenbaum*

          I think it depends on the circumstances: I was an eight-year-old who knew what shade of foundation she wore, but that’s because I did ballet, and wearing a full face of makeup was normal when I was performing. Outside of shows, I didn’t wear makeup. My mom let me start wearing lip gloss in middle school, which is about when I started trying (and failing–oh, so miserably) to style my hair in a “fun” way.

        3. Jen*

          I say lipgloss (if there is interest) and eyebrow tweeting (if necessary AND there is interest- no pressure) in middle school. When depends on the kid. Maybe mascara by 8th grade and makeup on weekends (maybe) in 8th grade/summer before high school.

        4. Ann O.*

          It depends on the context. A lot of kids get fascinated by makeup. Also, some activities (such as dance or cheer) require it. So if this was in a dress up context, a playing around context, or an appropriate activity context, totally normal IMHO. If this was an everyday just what the girl does, it’s inappropriate but probably also not anything you can intervene in.

  12. Cruciatus*

    For those who own their own homes, how much importance did you place on things like a) loving the house itself, b) the location, c) the school district (whether you need it or for resale ease), d) other (fill in the blank)? I keep seeing houses I love but the school district sucks. I don’t need the schools and likely never will (and the neighborhoods I’m looking at are safe and just fine), but I’m scared of needing to sell the house one day and no one wants it because the schools on Zillow are rated a 1 or a 2 and a mile or less away the school district is a 6, 7, 8 (out of 10)–though of course the house prices and property taxes also go up. I’ve seen houses that appear perfectly fine that have been on sale forever and then I check the school district and realize why they are likely not selling (at least that’s my assumption).

    Also, I realized I’m a sucker for colonials apparently. Too bad none are in my price range and there are maybe 2 for sale in the entire city!

    1. Aurora Leigh*

      I’ll be interested to see the replies! I’m also househunting for the first time. For me, I really want a big yard and preferably out of town or on the edge of town. I’m spending a lot of time on Zillow lately myself!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Probably not that helpful but here goes:

      Price was the number one consideration. Period. We had to watch what we were spending.
      Next came the condition of the house. We wanted something that was relatively safe (don’t take this for granted) but for our price range anything we picked out would be a fixer.
      After that came location. I did not want to live out in the boondocks. I like have a few neighbors around me, but I do not want to be closed in by neighbors.
      Next came a garage. For our needs we had to have a garage. Not optional.

      Our biggest limitation was our price range. We did not consider school districts because we did not have kids. I dropped the idea of resale-ability because no matter how hard you try to make everyone like your home, they just won’t. I decided to assume that we would resell it if we needed to. I had to let go of this because my brain was getting tired.

      If school districts are important to you then you trade that off by purchasing a more modest house. It’s all trade offs. You lower the importance of one thing to get another.

      I can almost promise you will keep seeing houses that you love. Let me tell you about the one with turret, two story porches and the double kitchens- summer and winter and the double living rooms. The cellar floor was IMMACULATE. Just on a walk through we were able to figure it out it needed at least $100K in repairs. I cried. It was not going to be our home it was going to be an anchor around our necks.

      Above all else put yourself some place SAFE. Find a safe neighborhood where you are physically safe and buy a house that you can maintain on your budget so you are financially safe. Think about the lifestyle you have and purchase a home that fits that lifestyle. My husband and I were either at work or taking care of our aging parents. We needed a place that was easy to take care of and easy to live in. I did not need two kitchens to remodel, two livings room to clean, a leaky turret and two sagging porches on top of what I already had going on.

      1. Seal*

        Price was my number one consideration as well, then location and how I felt about the house itself. As it turned out, after looking at a number of houses and condos, I wound up buying the first one I looked at because it just felt right. It’s got lots of windows, the location is good, and the complex itself is smallish and quiet. My condo is actually half of a duplex, so no dealing with people above or below me. School district wasn’t a concern as I don’t have kids, but if I did I’m sure I’d feel otherwise. Resale-ability never really entered into my decision, although because I bought just before the housing market tanked I’m slightly below water on the mortgage. Not enough that I’m struggling by any means, but enough that selling it now would be a hassle. Since I’m job hunting and plan to move out of the area, I will most likely wind up renting it out for the near future. Still, for me buying was by far the best thing I did when I moved here; after years of renting it’s been nice not to have to deal with a landlord.

    3. Little Miss Cranky Pants*

      Having bought and sold three houses over the past ummphh decades, I can echo and reinforce– buy what YOU can afford. Then think of personal/neighborhood safety, then the structure/mechanics of the house itself, and then any potential resale. I wouldn’t get too bogged down with school districts and all that because, guess what? There are other people without kids who also don’t care about school districts.

      I’m in the market again for what may be my forever home, and my priorities are: 1- price; 2- safety; 3- car vs. walkability. In most any market, unless you have money coming out of your butt, you’ll have to make tradeoffs. The key is find out what *your* tradeoffs are.

      Good luck with the house hunting!

      1. Florida*

        Another reason not to worry about school districts is that they change. The school that is the worst school now could get a new principal and become the best school. The reverse is also true. Also, as the population changes, they redraw those lines. You might have bough the house when it was zoned for Great School, but they rezone it to Average School. If the only reason you care about schools is resell value, then take that off your list. (For people who actually have school-age kids, it’s a different story.)
        Buy a house to use it, not to resell it. There is so much that is unpredictable about the real estate market, that you should just focus on buying a house that you will enjoy living in.

        1. Cruciatus*

          The problem in the city is this…they are contemplating closing ALL of the city high schools and busing those kids out to the county high schools. There is so much turmoil currently surrounding those schools. There is one school district in the city that would be free from all of that (and is not rated a 1 or 2 like the other city schools). So while I’m not planning on leaving soon or anything, the school situation could really be a problem in some ways I may not have considered yet.

          1. Natalie*

            If that happens it’s going to affect all homes in the city equally. I really wouldn’t worry about it – you should never buy a home assuming it will appreciate by the time you sell it.

            1. Florida*

              Exactly. If you have kids, then the schools will be a factor. If you don’t have kids, then focus on the things that are important to you like parks, transportation, access to whatever is important to you, etc.

    4. Pennalynn Lott*

      I didn’t care about school district because I have no kids. I wanted a house in the middle of a quiet block (my childhood home was on the corner of a busy street and I hated it), a massive yard, and a big front porch where I could sit and visit with neighbors who were out walking their dogs or children. I definitely got all that.

      The public schools in my area are rated low because of the ISD they’re part of. But my home’s value has almost tripled since I bought it back in 1998. The people buying houses in my area are wealthy enough that they send their kids to private school, so the rating of the local ISD is meaningless to buyers who can afford the homes here. (FWIW, I couldn’t afford my house if I were buying it now. I did a ton of research before buying and picked a neighborhood that was on the cusp of turning over. When I moved in, I had several WWII vets — or their widows — for neighbors. Now those houses have young families with good incomes in them).

    5. Coffee and Mountains*

      We knew a few areas that we were looking in and limited it that way. Our schools are fine, but not amazing, which is perfectly fine for us because we don’t have children. It also helps with our property taxes.
      We basically limited to two ZIP codes and went from there. We definitely placed importance on loving the house itself, and probably looked at 100 houses (we were going from an apartment to a house and weren’t in a hurry). We also had a price point we had to stick to, and the other two musts we had were a garage and a full basement (we live in tornado country, and this was a requirement for me). Good luck!

    6. chickabiddy*

      I picked a house for the schools. I didn’t absolutely hate the house or the neighborhood, but it probably wouldn’t have been my first choice otherwise. Now it turns out that homeschooling is what we need right now (and, uh, I’m realizing that my kid who got As at a 10/10 elementary school didn’t actually learn all that much, but that’s way OT here). Oh well, at least it has good resale value.

        1. chickabiddy*

          It is OT, but we’re doing a cyber charter school, which is a hybrid that really works for us. She has online classes and chats with real certified teachers for a few hours a day, and then does her work at home with some help from me. I am personally quite glad that there is someone other than me teaching geometry!

          1. DragoCucina*

            My youngest son did an online high school and it was the best option at the time. Not all schools are right for all students. I’m excited that our public school system has created a school that serves the needs of homeschool families. Need a geometry class (I’m with you there), it’s available. It also serves students who are involved with high level pursuits. Two high school students compete internationally in their activities. When at home they attend the school. When away they connect online.

    7. Oldie*

      As a parent, school district was our first consideration. But we were buying a large-ish family home. If the home you are buying is 1-3 bedrooms, it is just as likely to appeal to kidless families, so school district will be less of a factor.

      1. TootsNYC*

        Also, you ought to be able to buy it at a lower price if it’s in a bad school district. You’ll sell it at a lower price, but you should be able to sell it.

        1. TootsNYC*

          And by “lower price” I mean, “a lower price that similar homes in a good district.”

          Hopefully the value of the home will go up, but it will always be affected by that starting point. Just don’t assume your investment will go up as fast–but then, you’re not starting from as high a price, and hopefully will pay less in interest too.

          It’s all relative, in other words.

        2. RR*

          seconding this. If you’re buying a home to *live* in, don’t put undue emphasis on resale. If you don’t need to worry about the school district in particular (as opposed to the general responsibility to support the education of children in our communities we all have), I wouldn’t make this a top factor. What’s important to YOU? For me, it was a combination of loving the house itself, and its location. I live in the city proper. I did not want to be in the suburbs. I bought a home in a neighborhood that was transitioning. Given my income as a single person working for a nonprofit, it was a total fixer upper. (I would have preferred to buy a house in better condition, but that was what I could afford. I am glad to have done this, but I don’t think I’d ever do it again.) My criteria at the time was that I wanted to be able to sell if I had to or was miserable in this location without losing a ton of money. I found deciding not to worry about making money on reselling very freeing.

    8. Chickaletta*

      Well, school ratings don’t mean everything. Find out how the rating system works in your area. Where I live, the rate of test score improvements are factored into a school rating, so a B school who stayed a B school would be docked more than an F school who went up to C. Therefore, there are good schools with average ratings and poor schools that have high ratings. Also, the highly rated schools are flooded with transfer students where the average schools have all their students coming in from the neighborhood. Finally, high rated schools in our city tend to be located in neighborhoods out of our price range, so it’s not even an option for us. My son goes to an average rated school and you know what? His teacher is awesome, the classroom is new, and he’s learning lots. It’s fine. I kinda laugh inside to myself at the parents who think that a top rated school is going to make their kid smart, but their 8 year old can’t even locate a pencil by themselves (helicopter parenting, anyone?)

      Anywho, I know you’re asking the question because of the resale value of your house. I think the best thing to do is a) stop basing it on what you see on Zillow and ask your realtor about it because they’ll know the real answer and b) just buy a house you like.

    9. mander*

      We don’t have kids and didn’t really take schools into account. Our major concerns were that it was accessible by public transportation, in our price range, and ready to move into.

      Our house is located in a somewhat economically depressed area, and honestly, whoever we sell it to eventually will be more concerned with the cost of living than the school ratings (as we were). Not that the schools are dismal, they are just OK. But it’s easy enough to get to schools in other areas thanks to the transportation links if any hypothetical kids living there got into one of the more academically rigourous schools in town.

      I’m in the UK though, so YMMV. I don’t understand how school places work here but I don’t think it’s as simple as signing up to the nearest one.

    10. Sibley*

      I’m not a homeowner (yet) – am planning on buying next year. Here’s what I’ve been thinking thus far.

      1. House – I need to like the house. Why would I buy something as expensive as a house if I don’t even like it? I’m on a budget though, and am sticking to it.
      2. Location – I want to be near the transit station. I want to be close to the grocery store, gas station, bank, pet store, library, etc.
      3. Schools – I’m in the same boat. The area I’m looking at has uniformly poor schools. I expect to pay less for the house as a result. I also plan to stay in the house for a long time. In my case, I think the area will eventually recover and would expect the schools to do better. I will be helped by the fact that ALL the public schools within 20 miles are equally bad.

      Also, Colonials are nice. I like your taste :)

    11. Natalie*

      I would put possible resale issues lowest on the list, as you’re not trying to flip the house or planning on moving soon. A house shouldn’t be primarily thought of as an asset, IMO – its primary purpose is as your home.

      Personally, I rated location and condition of the house about equally. I determined my price range picked a bunch of locations I would like and had my MLS set up to only show me results that met both criteria. As far as house condition, avoid getting too caught up in cosmetic things like paint, light fixtures, etc. Even appliances and plumbing fixtures are easier to fix or replace than the bones and guts. You want to focus on a layout you can live with (moving walls and such is crazy expensive), good foundation and roof, good water system, electric, and HVAC, and windows.

    12. Rosalind*

      No kids. We went with a mid level school district. It’s actually one of the lower rated in our quadrant ( or suburbs are divided by north south east and west) but still highly rated in the entire city. Our first house we worried about resale, but we made sure we didn’t overpay and made decisions on what to do with optional upgrades based on what would increase value/entice buyers (and on a careful budget). Kept the same school district on the second house because I liked what it offers but mostly because the house had the space and room sizes we were looking for, garage, neighborhood. Our biggest thing was a house we were happy living in. Resale and schoolsee came later.

    13. Yetanotherjennifer*

      I live in a rural small town where housing stock is limited and varied. We bought the house that works the best for us in the town and neighborhood we wanted. It’s not our dream house but is a good house to launch our dreams from. We picked the town and the neighborhood for the school, but more the atmosphere of the school than the quality, although it is a decent school. (Btw, test scores aren’t always the best indicators of school quality)

      Our previous house (different state, bigger city) was down the street from a not very good elementary school. But we didn’t need a good school because we had a toddler and planned to move before she was old enough to attend elementary. We chose that house because it was the best in our price range. We had one week to buy a house and looked at 17 houses in one long weekend, chose our top 4 and made an offer on the best. The one we bought was a for sale by owner that we found by driving around. The house was a great starter home and also a great age in place home because there was a bedroom and bathroom on the first floor, so we had two good markets to target for resale. I didn’t love it when we bought it but I did by the time we moved out.

      We sold that house in 2009 during the crash by being slightly better (and luckier)than our competition. We left half our furniture behind so the house wasn’t empty and hired a stager to best arrange it. Fresh paint and clean windows helped. And our realtor hired a pro to take the pictures and we priced it well (and didn’t take a loss). We went from on the market to closing in less than 60 days and sold to a young couple with no kids. So a bad school doesn’t have to get in your way.

      I wouldn’t assume the houses aren’t selling due to the school. It could be the price or an odd layout or it could be they’ve just been on the shelf too long. People are awfully superstitious when it comes to houses. Also, check out American four squares. Built in the early 1900s, they come out of the craftsman trend but some are styled like colonials.

      1. DragoCucina*

        True. Atmosphere of schools rather than test scores is a good consideration.

        As with doing “improvements” it needs to be for the owner not resale value.

        1. Yetanotherjennifer*

          I agree for the most part. When we painted the interior of our house before selling it I wished we were going to be around to enjoy it and we made a point of painting the interior of the next house before moving in so we could. But that first house was a planned temporary house. We were only in that town for graduate school, but staying long enough that buying made more sense than renting. We bought a house we could sell; in fact we made sure our realtor was willing to sell it before we bought it. We didn’t make a lot of improvements to that house but the ones we did were done with an eye towards the eventual sale.

          1. DragoCucina*

            A coat of paint makes sense. Improving basic items (taking out knob and tube wiring from the 20s) makes sense. Too often people will do major remodels to kitchens, put in swimming pools, etc., for resale. My BIL is a sellers realtor (he refuses to work with buyers) and rants about this. Remodel the kitchen for yourself.

            1. Natalie*

              Sellers’ expectations can get way out of whack for sure. I looked at a bunch of houses where the sellers expected their coat of paint to add thousands of dollars to the sale price. Too much HGTV, I guess.

              1. DragoCucina*

                I think so. Flipping houses isn’t cheap, quick, or easy. Add in the emotion of living in the house. I love my house, but I know the quirks I like might be detractors.

    14. Ann Furthermore*

      My parents bought and sold at least 40 homes in the 54 years they were married. They were nomads, and would always follow the money when my dad got offered a better job. Their rule, always, was to buy the cheapest house in the best school district. It served them well. They were always able to sell houses and roll the gains into the next one. This served them very well over the years, and helped them have a very comfortable retirement.

      They had kids, obviously, so the schools were important to them. Their other rule was to never buy the most expensive house on a street, or in a neighborhood, because it will take longer to sell, and you’ll end up with less equity.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Forty homes in fifty four years? That’s averaging one home every 1.35 years or roughly every 16 months. wow. Just wow.

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          Yes…we moved around A LOT. I’m not sure all the moves involved buying and selling homes, some may have been rentals, but my mother counted up the number of times they moved and that number (or something close to it) was what she came up with.

    15. Allison Mary*

      Assuming the place was in our price range…

      The number one consideration for us was location. Location in this sense could include being close to good schools – but for us, it was being in the center of the city, super close to downtown, right on major public transit lines (light rail type thing), and having a walkscore of 80 or greater (google this, it’s amazingly helpful – for many areas, they also have a transit score and a bike score).

      After location came the place itself – obviously, we needed the basic layout of the place to work for us, but after that, there was much more room for compromise. We were looking for a condo, and most of the ones we were looking at had old-timey feels with lots of hardwood floors and classic looking cabinets – but the place where we actually wound up was more modern and had way less of the “feel” we were after. But the location was AMAZING – walk score here is 95, transit score is 85, and bike score is 98. And the basic layout of the condo (a 566 studio, which was right in line with what we were after) was perfect for us. Everything else is cosmetic, and it can be changed later on, once we have a little more free cash flow.

      But you can’t fix location. Or the basic bones/layout of the house. Those two things, plus affordability, I would say are all of vital importance, if you can find a place that is good on all of those factors.

    16. snuck*

      I’m going to ramble….

      There’s that saying “buy the worst house in the best street”… the idea is that you buy something where everything else around it is valued higher, and thus it lifts the value of your place. Except… everyone knows this, so that ‘worse house’ is probably already being sold for more because of it’s location.

      If you plan to be in the place more than five-ish years, then plan more for the place you want… if you are passionate about a style, era, garden size, commute etc… write down your limits. How far are you willing to travel for a supermarket, the doctor, work… What is your expectations around access to public transport?

      And then for the house… What are your key elements – how many bedrooms, bathrooms, living areas… What about heating/cooling and sensible house design elements…. and yard, car, storage. Do you want open plan or closed in, would you consider a house, apartment or townhouse…

      Community – what do you want, envision… and where is that found.

      Now you have a minimum requirements list. Grab your budget, your lists… and start looking. Rehash if you are clearly out of limits. What can you drop… you want a spare bedroom but all the three bedroom houses are too expensive… could you go to a two bedroom house and have a murphy bed in your study… etc…

      I heard somewhere random that people look at about 40 properties before buying a house. I’m not sure if this is true (we built ours, but I probably looked at close to many house plans seriously before deciding, and we certainly looked at a LOT of blocks too).

      Then when inspecting houses think through:
      Bathrooms and kitchens are expensive to renovate if you don’t like them. New cupboard doors are cheap, but all new layout? Ouch.
      Carpets can be pulled up and replaced, curtains are actually more expensive than you realise, and things like damp and musty smells will be there for you and are a sign of issues. You can repaint a room, but dealing with damp takes more.
      Look at the lines of the roof – are they straight? Look at the lines of the walls and window frames – all neat and square? Do the doors inside open and shut easily? Does any heating/cooling work and seem appropriate and not too old? A building inspection is wise, but these will save you the inspection fee if you spot anything here easily enough.

      Then… an ugly little place one block back from a row of cafes and shops might be a better investment than something near a school – if your place is more for a couple/one child max than a big family home. No point going for the large family home near a school if you are going to hate it (unless it’s an investment strategy, but I’m not sure that it’s a wise one right now), better that you get something that you will love and take care of. And no point getting something non-family sized near a great school, as the school won’t be a major factor for a future buying (probably, can’t count on it).

      1. Not So NewReader*

        The people I know who have lived near schools constantly complained. If it wasn’t the school traffic then it was the trash left on their lawns. There was always something. OP, if you have to be near a school, chose a quiet side street that has more than one exit out on to the main road.

        1. Cruciatus*

          Thanks…though I think my original question got lost a bit in the thread. It was more about how much weight should a good school district get in home buying when I do not currently nor in the foreseeable future have any need for those schools. It wasn’t about location to schools in general but that is something to keep in mind!

          1. LCL*

            If you aren’t planning on having children, I would say quality of the district is insignificant. I’m going to quote someone I used to work with, she and her husband made big bank in real estate. “If a house isn’t selling, the price is wrong, period.”

      2. Rachel Greene*

        We are in a similar boat. The public schools in our city are generally not good – in fact, a lot of people with more modest means actually end up sending their kids to private school.

        We ended up buying a modest, cookie cutter house in the next county over where the schools are much better…or so we thought. The schools are generally better but not all are created equal. Plus, we have discovered we are just too far out and it is really inconvenient for our everyday life. We dont have children yet but are planning to in the next few years. Admittedly, we got really spooked about the schools in the city and thought we were making a good decision but it really wasnt the best for us at this point.

        Anywhere, the old real estate adage is true – location, location, location. We are now looking for houses that are in the city and in the neighborhood we originally wanted.

        Price – please, please get something that you can comfortably pay off in 15 years or less. You wont regret it but you could regret buying a larger house that will put a tighter strain on your budget. The rule of thumb I use is that your payment should be 25-30% of your takehome pay or less, depending on your other debts.

        Age of homes – I have always wanted a Victorian home. Alas, I quickly figured out that it has a lot of upkeep (typically). For my family right now, it would be better for us to have newer construction (15 years old or less) for several reasons.

        Someone else mentioned this upthread but its really important – the layout of the house. For example, we looked at a house this weekend in a great neighborhood. The house had been updated a lot and was generally really appealing. However, the master bad was tiny and the master closet was almost non-existent. There was no room to renovate this area of the house, or change the general layout of the house. We passed.

    17. Rachel Greene*

      We are in a similar boat. The public schools in our city are generally not good – in fact, a lot of people with more modest means actually end up sending their kids to private school.

      We ended up buying a modest, cookie cutter house in the next county over where the schools are much better…or so we thought. The schools are generally better but not all are created equal. Plus, we have discovered we are just too far out and it is really inconvenient for our everyday life. We dont have children yet but are planning to in the next few years. Admittedly, we got really spooked about the schools in the city and thought we were making a good decision but it really wasnt the best for us at this point.

      Anywhere, the old real estate adage is true – location, location, location. We are now looking for houses that are in the city and in the neighborhood we originally wanted.

      Price – please, please get something that you can comfortably pay off in 15 years or less. You wont regret it but you could regret buying a larger house that will put a tighter strain on your budget. The rule of thumb I use is that your payment should be 25-30% of your takehome pay or less, depending on your other debts.

      Age of homes – I have always wanted a Victorian home. Alas, I quickly figured out that it has a lot of upkeep (typically). For my family right now, it would be better for us to have newer construction (15 years old or less) for several reasons.

  13. LizB*

    Ack, I typed out a whole long comment and my phone ate it. Trying again…

    This weekend I’m going to the wedding of one of my boyfriend’s friends from high school, and meeting all his high school friends is really doing a number on my social anxiety. I know they must all be nice people I would get along with just fine, but OMG so many new faces and names and nicknames and jokes I have no context for and gaaaaah. Add that to my paranoia that I’m going to be horribly underdressed (the invite said “formal attire” but I don’t own any long or solid colored dresses so I’m wearing something midi length with a pretty pattern) and I’m just hoping I can get through the day without a minor panic attack. Someone tell me it’s going to be okay, please!

    On the plus side I get to see my best friend tomorrow, so I’m clinging to that as a light at the end of the tunnel.

    1. self employed*

      You’ll be great. Just come armed with a couple of questions/topics. And ask people about what bf was like in HS; bet they’ll love sharing stories and you’re off the hook!

    2. Blueismyfavorite*

      I would suggest buying or borrowing a dress that meets the dress code a little better. Formal attire means a full-length gown or a dressy cocktail dress so your midi-length patterned dress doesn’t quit fit since it sounds a bit too casual. You could even rent a dress from a place like Rent the Runway. Being dressed wrong is going to make you feel so uncomfortable the entire time!

        1. MillersSpring*

          Your dress sounds fine. “Formal” is usually the bride’s vision not a social requirement. I bet that up to half of the other female guests will be in midi or knee-length skirts.

          Take deep breaths, smile, squeeze your boyfriend’s hand and ask people about themselves. Excuse yourself to the ladies room or bar as needed.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      It will be okay.
      Half the people there feel the same way you do. They want it OVER.
      You will find other people there wearing what they have also.
      They will not notice you did not remember their names because they will be too busy thinking about how they forgot yours. Not snark, it’s true, many people get nervous about this stuff.
      Deep breaths, in through your nose. You’ll be okay.

    4. LizB*

      Update: I had lots of fun at the wedding! I was definitely underdressed, which was embarrassing (I’ll remember to look into Rent the Runway if I have another formal event in the future – I just don’t need formal attire often enough to invest in it), but I wasn’t the only one and nobody really cared. My boyfriend’s friends are wonderful and I wish they lived closer so we could all hang out more. And the wedding itself was wonderful – amazing food, open bar, not too much obligatory dancing. And then we went out for brunch with my best friend. All in all, a good weekend! Now there’s just the six-hour drive home.

  14. Elkay*

    Has anyone here been to Hakone in Japan? We’re looking at doing a trip which is Tokyo-Hakone-Kyoto but not sure if Hakone is worth it as it seems very expensive.

    1. Alice*

      Yup, did it as an overnight trip when I went to Tokyo. I don’t remember how much it was exactly but I’d absolutely recommend going there (so long as the price isn’t too outrageous). If you do it as a tour it usually includes a cruise across lake Ashi and a trip up Mt Fuji (depending on the weather and time of year). I took some really amazing photos there.

      There are also some pretty amazing onsens there, including the Yunessun spa resort, which has onsens with wine or coffee or milk etc (it’s also one of the few that’s mixed gender and allows you to wear swimmers).

        1. Alice*

          The first day was with a tour company (the cruise, Mt Fuji and I think a shrine somewhere), the second day (Ōwakudani and Yunessun) I did independently.

    2. Tallulah*

      First-time commenter, but I spent two nights in Hakone and really enjoyed it – there were two really enjoyable art galleries (including an outdoor sculpture one which was amazing) and a trip in a cable car over a sulphurous quarry. It’s more rural and wooded than the big cities so was a fun contrast, and there was the lake cruise Alice mentions too. My tour company bought me some kind of day pass which had a lot of the transport included, so that made things easier. I didn’t go up Mt Fuji but even getting to see it was amazing!

    3. acmx*

      I’d check on when you can go up Mt Fuji. I think you can only climb in July.

      I did the lake cruise and the cable car. IIRC, there was part of the cable car trip that was under (periodic) maintenance so check for that.

      I spent one night there. I think you’d be ok with 2 nights. But I went alone and saw many places in my time there.

    4. AcademiaNut*

      I went to a conference at a onsen hotel in the Hakone area, which was lovely. I’ve also vacationed in the Izu area, which is also near Tokyo and has very nice hotspring hotels.

      If you’re not picky or restricted eaters, you can get very good deals at traditional hotels (ryokan) which include the accommodation plus breakfast and dinner. My experience is that you get some very nice food much cheaper than you would for a comparable meal at a restaurant nearby – the tradeoff is that it’s a set menu, and you eat what they are serving that night. Typically, the meal involves a number of small dishes, with an emphasis on local ingredients – we stayed at a place in northern Hokkaido where we got a whole steamed snow crab each, plus about eight other small dishes, including sashimi and grilled fish.

    5. Raine*

      Do the philosopher’s walk when you go to Kyoto and visit the monkey park! It’s like a reverse zoo, you go in a building with grated windows and feed the monkeys that are roaming free outside. It is a beautiful place.

      1. Raine*

        Also the philosopher’s walk is a hike (sort of) between all of the temples surrounding Kyoto. I met some students there who wanted to practice their English and gave my friend and I a tour. Tougetsu (I think that’s how it is spelled) was this amazing little B&B owned be two super sweet older women with traditional baths and some of the best water pressure I had the entire time I was in Japan. You sleep on tatami mats, which I loved, and when we came back they often had tea and mochi for us in our room. One of my best travelling experiences.

  15. HardwoodFloors*

    I always pick the best school district I can afford. Have done well selling 4 or 5 houses over the years (serial employer job relocations) . Recently I was surprised to see the schools in my district have 1o s.

  16. Sunflower*

    I’ve been in therapy off and on but on consistently with a therapist I like for about a year now. I have a lot of issues with relationships primarily related to my anxiety and low self-esteem. I’m starting to really feel the phrase ‘you can’t be happy with someone else until you’re happy with yourself’. I’ve never really felt special and I think part of my issues with this is I never really found that thing I am good at or excel at or anything I really enjoyed and loved doing. I always fell right in the middle at most everything I did. I’m not the most competitive person and I’ve always accepted that people are just better at things than me. Although I have low self-esteem, I’ve always considered myself a confident person. I’m good looking. I can talk to anyone, public speaking is not an issue for me- so this is a weird conundrum to have.

    I think what I need to do is accomplish something. Really work for something and be able to do it. I feel like running/marathon is a first thought but anyone else have any other suggestions?

    Any suggestions for improving self-esteem that aren’t the standard stuff you find on the internet?

    1. self employed*

      Perhaps something like Toastmasters? You could hone a skill you already have.

      Have you run before? It may or may not be for you. But it’s pretty easy and cheap to start. Also think about yoga, art classes, learning a language, photography classes… those would also provide the opportunity to meet some interesting people.

      1. Sunflower*

        I run but I don’t take it very seriously. I had always debated teaching myself sign language so that might be a good one to put on the list.

    2. TootsNYC*

      I found that doing things for other people raises my self-esteem a lot.

      And it doesn’t involve competition–that’s important, I think, especially because of your comment.

      What about a longish-term commitment to something outside yourself, that capitalizes on that interpersonal confidence you’ve got?
      Tutoring, maybe?

      1. Sunflower*

        I’m working on volunteer opportunities but I have a bit of a crazy work schedule so trying to find something that works with that. I bought a box of ‘encouragement’ cards that I’m going to send to my friends who have been supportive and helped me through my recent rough patches and I already feel good about that. I will look into tutoring and maybe some other things like that thanks!

      2. Chaordic One*

        I agree with Toots, but with a caveat. Make sure that what you do for other people is something that you actually enjoy doing. If it becomes too much of a burden and/or if you end up not enjoying doing it, then it just becomes another obligation. If it doesn’t work out, don’t be hard on yourself.

    3. Kay*

      I get a huge self-esteem boost from figuring things out. One way I’ve been doing a lot of that lately is house projects. I like reading through how-tos and acquiring new skills and having things turn out well. The more I do of it, the more confidence I have. At the same time, weirdly enough, screwing those things up (the low-risk things, anyway) also helps with self-esteem because that’s how you gain experience and really understand something. If the bookshelf I’m making doesn’t quite sit square, I take that sucker out back and put it on the burn pile and try something else.

      To expand that more generally: are there any projects that you can slowly scale up on? baking? knitting? crafting? growing things? painting? building things?

      My husband has cripplingly low self-esteem and two weekends ago he and his father gutted a room in our house. He went from full-blown anxiety attacks about how he would ruin everything to talking confidently about drywalling in two days. It was amazing and I loved seeing him so happy and expressing that confidence.

      1. Sunflower*

        I love thrifting and I’ve been trying to get into re-purposing furniture. My therapist gave me the same advice- start with something small, cheap- low risk. My biggest issue is I live in the city in a smallish apartment with a roommate so transporting and doing the work is a little tough. Also- I only have so much space so eventually I gotta move the pieces somewhere! I like working with my hands though- and don’t do much of it in my job- so I’m trying to find something similar but slighlty lower scale. thanks for the suggestions!

        1. Kay*

          What about miniature furniture? Like dollhouse furniture? You can buy them and re-do them, or learn to build them from the ground up and either give them to friends with kids or sell them. Good luck!

        2. Natalie*

          What about Habitat for Humanity? You get to work with your hands, do something good for the world, and you don’t have to bring anything home. You don’t need any experience to volunteer.

    4. Sibley*

      ooh ooh ooh! Go read Captain Awkward’s blog, find her advice for Self Care and I’m pretty sure she addressed this at some point too.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      By relationships I assume you mean SOs?
      I read something pretty cool a while ago. The writer’s idea was that we learn about having a relationship with a long term partner by first learning how to maintain regular friendships. Anxiety can come with lack of knowledge/learning. Put these two together and maybe an idea would be for you to work on building friendships so you can have experience in seeing how healthy relationships work.
      So maybe some volunteer work where you make “at work friends” with some of the people there?
      But maybe you prefer something more passive, like reading up on healthy relationships, what goes into a healthy relationship and that sort of thing.
      One of the ways we raise our own sense of self-worth is by putting the time in and filling the gaps of what we don’t know or don’t understand. I google odd things all the time, in my own quest to fill in my gaps.

    6. Today's anon*

      I wonder if you need to perhaps also learn how to value what you do have and do well? You are so dismissive of being good looking and having the ability of talking to anyone. I’d give a lot to be more social and taller for example. I know when I’m in a down place, I tend to focus my attention on all the things I don’t do well/don’t like about myself and totally ignore those things in my life that I do well.

      I think running is interesting in that regard. I run and on good days I really, really enjoy it and am proud of it, and have run some incredible races etc. But I can also use it to beat myself up, as to how slow I m or bad a particular run was or how i didn’t run x races or whatever. I am a slow runner and I can let myself enjoy it even as something I don’t excel at because it brings pleasure and joy to my life or I can feel “not special” and blah about it.

      What I’m saying is, it’s not the running per se, it’s my mind and outlook that control what I get out of the running (and of course, to other things in your life as well).

    7. KatieKate*

      What about small sewing or yarn projects? I know there are a ton of org around that collect this kind of thing for different populations (homeless, womens shelters, etc.) Plus you can see if they have any meetup groups where you can meet new people.

      Or, if you enjoy writing, NaNoWriMo starts soon! No one ends up with a perfect something, but there’s a great sense of “I did that!” when you finish, even if you never pick it up again.

      1. Dot Warner*

        I second the sewing/yarn recommendation. I’ve been making preemie hats for our local NICU and it’s amazing how quickly you can get one of these done and stand back and say, “I made that! Go me!”

        1. Rocketship*

          Thirding! I’ve been a knitter for years, and recently took up sewing as well. I’ve also done a bit of cross-stitch and blah blah blah. This may not work for everyone, but I find teaching myself a new craft to be extremely rewarding – enough of a challenge that it feels like an accomplishment when I figure it out, but not so much of a challenge that I become overwhelmed and decide I’m terrible at everything forever. I also find that focusing on a fiddly craft project helps me deal with stress and anxiety – of which there has been much in my life lately. My best friend refers to it as “sewing your feelings” – as in, “That’s a nice shirt. Been sewing your feelings lately, huh?” Considering I used to just eat my feelings, sewing them feels a bit more… constructive.

          Plus then when you’re done learning the craft, you’ve also made a thing! And can make more things! You can make things that are Just For You, that No One Else In The World Has. And if it doesn’t fit/doesn’t look right/ you just don’t like it somehow… presto! A gift for a friend, or a donation to a local charity. It’s pretty awesome. :)

    8. Stellaaaaa*

      First of all, sorry to your therapist, but toss out the notion that you have to love yourself before anyone else can love you. That sh!t will just make you feel worse, and it gives other people license to tell you that you haven’t earned a relationship because you’re not a good enough person yet but they totally are, because look at their awesome relationship! Many people with low self-esteem or chronic depression are able to successfully date. Self-improvement is great, but please separate it from dating, and please please please don’t use “do I have a partner yet?” as a benchmark for whether or not you’ve transformed yourself into a person of value.

      As for ways to feel better about yourself, I like to nurture my identity as a reader. I love being able to go out and tell my friends about the newest book I just read. Even if my life was boring that week, I can still talk about a new book.

      1. Sunflower*

        Sorry if that was confusing in my post- my therapist doesn’t say/think that. She’s saying because my low self-esteem makes me believe I don’t deserve love, I tend to be attracted to people who can’t give me it. Also, I’m not happy and I’m looking for a relationship to fill these holes in my life so I need to find other ways to make me happy. So exactly what I’m trying to do here is not use my dating/relationship status to define my value as a person.

      2. Dynamic Beige*

        I think there’s a difference between “love yourself before anyone else can love you” and accepting/believing that you are worth being loved, being able to see that you are loved. I mean, if you do not love yourself, then you are more likely to look outside yourself for things to fill that up. Or turn away good things because you don’t think you deserve them. Or accept poor treatment. You could run into the most amazing person who loves you (or could be capable in the long run, because let’s not confuse infatuation with love) but if you think they’re out of your league or you don’t measure up to them/they could do better than you, you aren’t going to accept that they could love you.

    9. nep*

      I dare say this is likely pretty common. I don’t feel in any way special — have never excelled at anything.
      I agree with the comment about doing something for others — the gratification and lasting good vibe can be huge.
      Is your main concern improving your social life and relationships, or just overall enjoying life more?

      1. Sunflower*

        Both. Even though I know this to not be true, I still have this unconscious (subconscious? idk?) hope that a relationship will fill this void in my life and make my happy. So I know that’s not true or good and in the case I do actually meet someone, I don’t want to make them my life. But a big factor in this is just to be overall happier in life.

    10. Natalie*

      When you say you never found anything you loved doing, were you possibly attaching “good at doing” to that at the same time? I had a similar mindset for a long time, I thought I didn’t like anything because I was unconsciously assume that liking something would just naturally lead to being good at it.

      Something that helped de-couple those two was working on things where I’m not entirely in control of the outcome. I garden. I could be the world’s best gardener and still have weather or pests or bad seeds that lead to a bad harvest of this or that vegetable. So I began to learn to separate doing the work from getting the results.

    11. The Grammarian*

      I agree with the idea of learning a skill. Knowing how to make things makes me feel good and when I see the finished thing, it brings me satisfaction. Sewing, knitting, building things, fixing things, etc. Where I used to live, there was a monthly fix it night at the library and people brought small appliances to fix with someone’s help.

    12. Maya Elena*

      In the long term, staying congruent – it’s hard for me at least, and I detest myself if I don’t do what I said I would – even if nobody cared or needed it. It also means controlling what you promise and making sure not to over-commit. But the knowledge that, though they be modest, you met your obligations honorably and in good faith, is a powerful source of pride, and one that does not rely on arbitrary thresholds of importance or hierarchy.

      In the short term, exercising. Running, aerobics video, whatever – for me, it breaks a cycle of negative thinking like nobody’s business.

    13. C*

      Do things. Laundry. Get a pot of some sort of herb you like, and then make a meal with it. Make sure your dishes are done before you go to bed so you wake to a clean sink.
      I started volunteering at a shelter a few months ago–just two hours a week, and I mostly clean floors–and it has been amazing.
      Find a thing you love, and do it. I volunteer with stray cats 3 hours a week, and I am SO happy when I show up and one or more of them have been adopted out.
      I’ve been bouncing back from an abusive relationship, so I’ve been starting small, because when I set my sights on the large things I got overwhelmed and retreated.

  17. Biglaw Stormtrooper*

    Hi all,

    I’ve booked a trip to go backpacking in Patagonia (the W hike in the Torres del Paine) for January, and I’m very excited! Has anyone done it who has advice? I’ve never been backpacking before. I’d love to hear more general things, as well as advice about what to pack / wear. I was thinking of wearing athletic leggings and sleeved workout tops as the default, with rain pants, a warm fleece and a good quality raincoat as packed layers that I can put on and take off as needed. Will that be warm enough?

    Thanks so much!

    1. James*

      Watch your feet. Invest in good socks and break your boots in before you go. I don’t care if they say you don’t need to, do it. I do a lot of work that involves hiking, and I’ve seen the difference it makes. The person with new shoes falls out about lunch, due to blisters. The person with cheap socks falls out after a few days, because the socks fall apart, or don’t offer sufficient cushion, or whatever.

      Also, spend time getting your pack to sit right. You want the weight evenly distributed, but hugging your hips more than your chest. If it hugs your chest, you won’t be able to breath, and you’ll wear yourself out FAST.

      Finally, be on the lookout for dinosaur bones. Some of the best finds are coming out of Patagonia these days!

      1. Biglaw Stormtrooper*

        Thanks! I knew I’d have to break my boots in, but it didn’t occur to me about the socks–I’ll make sure to get good ones.

        1. The Grammarian*

          I have been told that sock liners with socks, and wool blends in particular, are good for hiking.

          1. LCL*

            I’m allergic to wool, if I wear it tight next to my body the skin gets red and irritated and itchy and looks scalded. It would be nice to find out before you go if that is an issue for you. For long hikes and skiing, I wear knee hi nylons (available at the drugstore for cheap) under artificial fiber socks. Quite often I wear socks inside out because the toe seam is in exactly the wrong spot and grinds my toes.

    2. Lily Evans*

      I’m not sure if my reply got eaten, or the link put it into moderation limbo and I’m just being impatient, but the blog Be My Travel Muse just had a bunch of posts about backpacking in Patagonia! If you go to the blog and just search for Patagonia you can find them, it includes a packing list too!

    3. the gold digger*

      Caveat – this was 21 years ago, so things might have changed:

      I went to Torres del Paine with a friend when I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Chile and what shocked me was how crazy crazy expensive everything was once we were inside the park. It wasn’t just my Peace Corps stipend financial perspective – my friend was a director at Kraft at the time and she was also in sticker shock.

      My advice would be to take in as much food as possible and not eat at the few restaurants in the park.

      1. James*

        Be careful with your food choices, too. It’s not just about “eating healthy”; it’s about what your body needs. You’re going to sweat a LOT, even if you don’t feel it (parts of Patagonia are very arid, and in arid areas sweat dries so fast you don’t notice it ever existed), and this can do nasty things to the electrolyte balance in your brain. I’ve seen people drink water all day and still have issues, because they diluted the electrolytes. Of course, too many electrolytes can cause other issues, such as kidney stones. So think carefully. :D

    4. CMT*

      Torres del Paine is awesome! When I was there (same time of year) it was very, very windy. Are you camping? Make sure you have a good tent that isn’t going to get blown over and keep you awake all night.

  18. peachie*

    My sister convinced me to join her fantasy hockey league, and I’m totally lost! Anyone have any advice on how to study up and learn what I’m doing? Like, Fantasy Sports for Dummies? I know virtually nothing about hockey, or fantasy sports, or sports in general, but I’m always game to learn something new!

    (If it makes a difference, we’re going through the ESPN app — we drafted our lineup the other day, and I’ve been doing alright by just making sure to un-bench my players who have games coming up, but… I’m sure there’s more to it than that.)

    1. Kay*

      Mostly I get bored halfway through the season and trade chores with my husband in return for him being my team manager, buuuuut!

      Some of the things you want to look for are specific for your league. Each league can decide that different things count for points. So depending on what stats count you might make different choices with your players.

      Don’t be afraid to drop people and pick up other people that are doing better. I know a fair bit about hockey but little to nothing about good fantasy management, so one way that I keep an eye on a player is to look at how many other people have him on their teams – that’s a percentage stat. I figure other people know more than I do.

      There’s an ESPN fantasy hockey app that I found useful to swap out players who were playing/not playing/injured.

      If you’re a REALLY savvy player you can also swap your players based on who you’re matched up against in a given week…like if they’re bad at the goals scored stat you can stack your best scorers. This is a level of sophistication and/or caring that I have never personally achieved.

      HAVE FUN! Hockey is my favorite of the major sports. Go see a game in person if you’re able, you’ll be hooked.

    2. Temperance*

      You can Google and find suggestions for a good fantasy team. That’s what I do whenever I’m highly encouraged to join in March Madness. ;)

    3. Alucius*

      I haven’t played fantasy hockey in a long time, but I’ve done a lot of fantasy football and baseball. I imagine similar basics apply. Kay’s advice to watch for players whose ownership percentage is increasing a lot is good. Also watch your roster for guys who are hurt or slumping, and look to swap them out. You should be able to see if lots of other people are dropping that player. Also, if you feel like trying to do trades, it helps to have someone in your league whom you trust to give you a fair perspective. Sometimes people try to take advantage of the newbie with lopsided offers.

      Good luck, have fun!

  19. Kay*

    Anyone else totally obsessed with Supergirl? I started watching it a few weeks ago as my background while sewing on my day off, and I just love it. It’s so cheerful and smart and kind. It’s been my welcome antidote from the barren hellscape of 2016.

    1. Myrin*

      I’m friends on tumblr with someone who is a huge fan of the actor who plays Superman on Supergirl, so while I don’t watch it myself (I’m not hugely into TV shows in general) I’m supplied a steady amount of gifs and videos about it at all times. It seems really fun and positive, like something that just makes you feel good.

    2. Liane*

      I don’t know about totally obsessed, but College Kids & I have been doing mini-binges (2-3 episodes at a time of season 1), and the new Superman, Tyler Hoechlin, is great! He’s witty, he & Kara have fun* Being Heroes & the writers so far haven’t let him take over the show, just add to it. Plus the show is way easier to follow than their other supershows. (You can’t get into Arrow unless you’ve seen Every. Single. Episode that came before; the constant time travel has made Flash, which I loved to start, almost as bad.)
      Oh, & I just finished version 1.0 of my Supergirl Halloween costume that I debuted yesterday. (Does the costume send me over the edge into obsession?)

      *Even though Henry Cavill is Hunky Eye Candy, I hate the DC movies turning Superman “Dark & grim. Just like Batman, only grimmer and darker & much less fun!”

    3. Raine*

      My youngest sister has been watching it non stop. I think I’ve absorbed some of it vicariously, and I love that she’s looking up to a strong, kind female role model in the media.

    4. Kara Zor-El*

      I love it (as you can probably tell from my username…)! I love the female relationships in the show (Kara and Alex, Kara and Cat), and the optimism and sunniness. I agree the DC cinematic universe has gotten waaaay too dark, so it’s nice to see a lighter Superman on this show.

      1. Liane*

        Cat is great but some of her Boss Talk, just wow. Like she is written to satirize the Lean In author.

        Once Alison is on the mend, I am going to email her and suggest Cat Grant for one of the posts she sometimes does on a fictional leader/manager.

    5. Emily*

      I’m only two episodes in, but so far I love the main character’s bubbliness and positivity! It’s the kind of thing that could be annoying if done wrong, but (so far) feels fun and true to the character.

    6. Marillenbaum*

      Yes! It makes me so happy. Kara is smart, and hardworking, and kind–I’m trying to convince my nieces to give it a shot. And I’m surprised by how much I enjoyed the actor they cast as Superman; it really throws into relief what a disappointment Henry Cavill’s portrayal has been.

  20. A Mom of a Young Adult*

    I’m the parent of a launching 22-y-o, and I could use some advice!
    Basically, how much do I pry, or interfere, or demand info/action, or interfere.

    She did 4 years at an expensive college (using money from grandpa & grandma, which covered it completely) and doesn’t have a degree. She told us she has only one course left to take, and she’ll do it in the evenings once she’s gotten a job doing coding.
    BUT…I found a letter (while I was sorting out the stuff she brought home from college, which she wouldn’t do) from the college wanting her to take a semester off bcs she’d flunked 2 core classes and had a GPA of 1.7 or something. I didn’t real further, and put it back, bcs I hadn’t meant to snoop. (OMG, the waste of tuition money!!)
    But the secret I now have is eating at me, and I think it’s got to be eating at her.

    She started seeing a therapist while she was at school, so it’s clear that something like depression of late-onset ADD is part of this. We’d known about that, and had worried, but she would NOT give us any info, and we thought it would be disrespectful to pry.

    She lived w/ a friend over the summer and is now home, in the bedroom, door closed.
    She said she was going to put together a coding portfolio over the summer, but I don’t think she did, and she doesn’t leave the house now. She doesn’t speak to us much, but when she does there’s no mention of looking for work.

    She’s intensely private, and doesn’t want to be pressured. And I don’t think pressure would help–it’ll just up her anxiety level…

    But given that she’s living at home, I’m thinking we have the right to say, “You have to look for work every day. Hell, get a part-time job at Target, so you can build up a work reputation, and then use the rest of the time to work on getting a job using your Python skills, etc.”

    Any random thoughts that might be useful?

    1. Sunflower*

      I think you’re doing a lot of the right things. I find it extremely admirable that you acknowledge prying and pressure would not help and that you are giving her space. I know that’s tough as a parent to not want to jump in and save her and I think it’s awesome you are asking the right questions.

      I’m not sure how far away her college is but getting her a therapist she can see regularly is priority. If she doesn’t want you involved, just make sure she knows how to go about finding one herself. I do not think it’s out of line to require her to work. Does she know what she wants to do for a career? Is she actually interested in coding or is that just what her degree is in. Also- is there still money left for her to finish her degree or is that coming out of pocket?

      I had a bit of a breakdown right before I graduated. It took a while to get out of it but I found once I started working and hated my job, that became my motivation for finding a better job.

      1. TootsNYC*

        She’s got a therapist–she called to find out how to get on the insurance for that, so that’s why we know. And bcs of the insurance, I know that she’s seeing a counselor weekly (I’m paying for it) and a psychiatrist every 2 to 3 months and getting meds. (I haven’t googled the med names–that’s how respectful I’ve tried to be.)

        I don’t know about money for school–there might be a little left that would get her through a far less expensive college, but at the moment we’re not speaking about it at all. She has to ask, is my theory. The money should really be signed over to her control, but nobody’s followed up on that–I think she feels she’s not entitled to touch it, which is fine by me. If she ever does try to finish off, she can show some initiative and ask about it then.

    2. self employed*

      You sound very caring. Be careful that “not prying/pressuring” doesn’t actually end up being enabling. She has been lying to you, hiding info from you, and the fact that she is in your house gives you a right to be in the know about what is going on. You need to see some concrete progress out of her (and she needs to know that).

      1. TootsNYC*

        This is my worry–that we’re not helping her by just quietly letting her stay in our house.

        I think we really do need to do something about the Big Secret. Heck, my own secret (which is: the fact that I know this from the letter) is messing up the way I look at her. And even before I found the letter, we all knew she was keeping secrets from us, and that CAN’T be good for her!

        I just can figure out how to broach it, and my DH keeps saying, “we need to figure this out,” where “this” = “what Daughter is going to do next,” which is NOT ours to figure out. He’s not very good at letting go.

        But I’ve also just realized, she’s not contributing a damned thing, actually–she doesn’t do chores, doesn’t come hang out with us in the evening like a family member, doesn’t pay rent. At least we don’t really feed her–but I don’t know where she’s getting money. I think she’s using up gifts her grandparents sent over the school years.

        1. self employed*

          It’s key that you and your husband realize that you’re not helping her by doing nothing. Setting some firm boundaries will help give her some structure and goals. I would have a hard time keeping this secret too, so I think you should come clean about what you found (once you have a plan to offer her).

          I can’t imagine her depression would get better under her current situation unless she starts being an adult and taking pride in even the small progress she can make.

        2. AcademiaNut*

          I suspect she’s spending a lot of mental energy on maintaining her web of lies. And her current situation is not one that is practical or healthy in the long term. I’d also bet money that she’s lying about the coding portfolio and preparing for work. I think I’d lean towards ripping the bandaid off and telling her that you know about the university situation – you came across the letter by accident and weren’t snooping, and that you’re not mad at her but you’re worried. And yes, she’ll likely be angry and upset, but part of that anger will be covering up fear.

          I would also suggest that you and your husband make an appointment or two with a therapist for advice on the best way to approach the situation – how to encourage her to do *something*, and how to avoid enabling and making the problem worse.

          For now, I’d pretty much forget about stuff like finishing her degree, or transferring programs, or community colleges, or getting a coding job. Right now, the immediate concern is that she’s getting appropriate medical treatment, starts doing something productive – getting a part-time job, volunteering, doing chores, and stops actively lying.

          As an aside – I know multiple people who dropped out of college and went into coding careers, but it was generally because they were already actively coding at a level that was employable and decided that finishing the degree wasn’t necessary, not the result of being kicked out.

    3. Pennalynn Lott*

      I would prioritize a full medical work-up (including looking at serum D3 levels and screening for ADHD) and therapy over making her look for work every day or take a part-time job. I have suffered from depression on and off most of my life, and one of the worst things I ever did to myself was take a soul-sucking retail job just because my family told me I had to. I floundered there for two years, sinking deeper and deeper into depression until my brain was telling me, “This is it. This is the best your life will ever be. You’ll never work a professional job. You’ll never have any money. You’ll always be treated like a child by your toxic bosses. You’ll never be somebody that you’re proud of.” From there it wasn’t too difficult to put a suicide plan in place.

      Some people seem to do OK with “tough love” and pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps lectures, but not most of the people I know who are prone to depression.

      Additionally, are there any coding camps / groups nearby that she can join? Doing something she enjoys while being in a space where she can interact with potential employers might be helpful. Instead of forcing her to get a part-time retail job, could you make attending one of those groups a couple of times a week (for a few hours at a time), plus going to therapy once a week, a condition of living at home?

      1. TootsNYC*

        Thanks for those thoughts.

        My thought about a retail or barrista job would be” “it’s just for now, so you have some spending money and some structure.” And so it would eat up some of her day, and then she’d maybe have more initiative to do the independent work of building a coding portfolio. On the “busy people get more done” theory, since right now there is literally nothing in the day that she needs to do–so I think she sits in her room and piddles on the Internet all day long.

        I wish I knew of any sort of support group for job hunters, or something, so she’d have people other than her parents saying, “did you finish that portfolio piece?”

        1. KatieKate*

          As a previously depressed 22 year old who graduated without a job–while the waitressing part-time may have slowed me down a little, the self worth of having a job and earning money was amazing, and hanging with people in completely different stages of life (food service lifers, struggling artists, etc) kept me away from comparing myself to my peers. Plus, any cords you can cut can be helpful. If she gets the job, make her pay rent. Or make sure she’s cleaning the house. She’s an adult now, even if she’s struggling.

          1. Myrin*

            I agree with this, only it’s not me who is in that situation but my younger sister. Our situation is a bit different in that we’re poor and every person in the household has to pay rent or we won’t be able to afford our flat. So when my sister finished school but didn’t really know what to do after (she tried a few things but nothing worked out), she started a part-time job at a supermarket. She was already depressed and struggling with her PTSD at the time, but the job did indeed give her structure, forced her out of bed, gave her some wonderful colleagues, etc. Then, after having seen a therapist for a while but not getting better, our doctor interfered and sent her to hospital, where she spent the first three months of this year (psychiatric in-patient care for six weeks, out-patient for another six weeks). After she got out again, she could start right back at her job and actually got an increase in salary and responsibilities! She’s now working almost every day and while she doesn’t love the job, she enjoys it and it is still very much giving her stability, both financially and “mentally”.

        2. Pennalynn Lott*

          Based on your username, I Googled “NYC coding groups” and got a ton of hits. Maybe joining a few groups would be helpful for her. Perhaps the portfolio seems like a massive mountain that she’ll never be able to climb, but a group can help break it down into bite-size pieces for her.

      2. TootsNYC*

        And it’s less that I want her to get work (though she has NO references, NO work experiences, except a summer at college where she was supposed to be working on a computer program w/ a professor, and now I’m wondering if she procrastinated her way through that…), and more that I fear she’s just not in control her of day, or of her life.

      3. TootsNYC*

        I mentioned above: she’s got a therapist, meds, etc. And she did go get a full medical workup when she started therapy.

        But I think there are some things we could set as “a condition of living at home,” like “go to the doctor for the health issue you AREN’T caring for,” and “sort out your winter clothes so we can get the boxes out of the living room.”

        But it’s sort of, what do you do when a grownup doesn’t do those things? Are we going to make her move out? Scolding isn’t all that effective anymore…

        1. Ella*

          If you’re setting conditions, I’d also be clear about consequences. We have my husband’s 26 year old stepbrother living with us. Prior to living with us, he was living in his car for a bit, and has also done several unsuccessful college tries/job tries.

          We’ve been phasing in requirements. We charge him $450 rent, and have allowed him some leeway (like allowing him to do chores for $15/hr to pay for part of the rent). We are also requiring that he stay in school, and stay employed. He got a job at a gas station, lost it due to being irresponsible, and now is a bouncer. We’ve been kind, but clear in our expectations (i.e. you must remain employed/in school while you live here & you must pay rent. We will kick you out if you don’t do those things.). It’s hard, because we wouldn’t want to kick him out, but it’s also not fair for us to support someone who is grown.

          What about talking to her, letting her know that you found the letter, and seeing what her plan is. She probably doesn’t have one, so part of it may be figuring out next steps. But I would set expectations of her living there. They don’t have to be rent (though I really think even a small amount of rent, like $200, due on a specific day, is healthy. We upfront also told the stepbrother that there would be a 10% late fee if he’s late. Currently he’s behind in rent, but he is making progress)but it could be things like staying in therapy, getting a job at a place like Starbucks and remaining employed, and doing household chores like dishes, mowing the lawn, and taking out the trash. It’s not unreasonable to expect those things. I would be calm, and explain that you know she’s going through a hard time, but part of growing up means taking responsibility.

          I would also be clear on deadlines and consequences. And yes, I would have one consequence be that she needs to move out if she can’t do these things. It’s hard, and she will not be perfect, so it is ok to do some adjustments as you go (ok, you lost this job. You get one more chance, but if you can’t keep the next one, I’m really sorry, but you need to find a new place to live).
          Think of it as you preparing her for life. These are hard lessons, but she’ll only have more to lose as she gets older. A mortgage company is not going to care that she doesn’t feel like having a job. And also try to be professional. Tell her that you love her, and you’ll always love her, even if she has to move out.

        2. LibbyG*

          I see your point. You could charge some rent, but what do you do when she can’t/won’t pay? It sounds like her hermitage is just a couple months long so far. I don’t see where you’re holding her back by providing a soft place to land.

          I’m a professor, and I work with several students each year who go off the rails like this. She may not have lied per se about needing “one more course.” It may have been just the kind of magical thinking that a lot of people get trapped in when some high-stakes process starts going awry.

          You can’t be her academic or career advisor or therapist. As her parent, maybe this is the moment to just say, “I’m so proud of you for taking charge of your mental health” and “I’m ready to help in any way I can.” If she’s managing her appointments and scrips, that’s a great sign.

          Maybe you and your husband can agree to just let it ride until mid December or something. Give yourselves a break from feeling like you’re supposed to do something about this.

          Just my 2 cents. I’m confident she’ll get her legs back under her. I hope it happens soon!

    4. Chickaletta*

      I think there’s two issues:

      1) She seems to have some form of depression or mental issue, which I think you should address as someone close to her who cares about her.

      2) She’s an adult who is mooching off you at home. This is something you can put a stop to by requiring her to pay rent. I did when I lived in my parent’s house for a year in my 20’s. They asked me to pay 1/3 of my paycheck (I think), and it wasn’t a bad deal because it was cheaper than living on my own and I was able to save up during that time.

      The good news for you is that your daughter is apparently an intelligent person (since she went to college at a nice school), and she can figure out how to get a job. Work out a deal so that she’s contributing financially to the household. Where she works, whether she completes her degree – all that is up to her. She’s an adult now and the best thing you can do for her is cut her free. If she asks you for advice or help, then by all means give it, but let her know that for better or worse she is going to be making her own decisions from now on. It might just give her the motivation she needs.

      1. Becca*

        At one point, I lived with a family friend who wanted to help me transition to being more self-sufficient. One of the things that felt really helpful was that I could do a certain number of hours/month of work around the house to lower my rent (from $400/mo to a minimum of $200/mo— I was working part time). She made a spreadsheet of things for me to do and check off.

    5. A daughter*

      I don’t know what your relationship is like with your daughter, but based on what little you said, I feel like it may be worth addressing the school situation — she lied to you, and I’m guessing there is some shame/guilt she’s feeling and carrying around, which must feel awful. I wonder what she would say if you said, “I’m sorry, I found this letter and read it by mistake, I can imagine this is weighing on you, I want to know what’s on your mind and how we can help you.”
      I’m 26. I’m lucky that school was easy for me but I really hate letting my parents down because they’ve done so much for me (paid my tuition at a great school! let me go abroad!). When I was going through a hard patch (anxiety, depression), I confessed to my mother that I didn’t want to worry her or upset her because I know she has enough to worry about in her own life. She bowled me over with her response — she said she loved me and that she wanted me to take her love for granted (!) and call her as much as I needed to. Of course, I don’t take any of this for granted but just hearing that made me feel so supported and while I haven’t been calling her that much, knowing that she’s willing to pick up has helped me mentally.
      Now, I don’t know what’s going to help your daughter, and I don’t know if you guys are on good enough terms that she would trust you with her problems. But I do suggest going to her with love and saying, what’s on your mind? and how can I help you? and REALLY listening to the answer.
      You clearly love her – from your post that is evident – why not ask her what she needs instead of guessing?

      1. MillersSpring*

        Agree that you need to sit down and have an overdue talk about her GPA, requiring her to get at least an immediate part-time job, setting a minimum of maybe three months for her to have a full-time job, increasing her therapy to twice per week, getting her involved in a group therapy or a social or volunteering group, paying rent and not seclusing herself in her room. Discuss what the consequences will be if she doesn’t cooperate–taking her phone off your family plan, taking the TV out of her room (just a guess), up to maybe her moving out with a friend. She’s never had a job, was never held accountable for her grades during 4 years of college and now sounds too depressed to leave her bedroom. (Is she eating, cutting, getting high, sleeping, addicted to video games?) Sounds like it’s gone on for several months, so you should feel confident about confronting her and not letting her coast through life for even another week. Good luck.

      2. Anxa*

        “When I was going through a hard patch (anxiety, depression), I confessed to my mother that I didn’t want to worry her or upset her because I know she has enough to worry about in her own life”

        So, I messed up college really badly. Looking back, I probably had depression, may have had a sleep disorder/health issue/undiagnosed ADHD, and have since been diagnosed with anxiety (which has kind of waned since getting a job, but is acting up while I transition right now).

        I kept all of my issues a secret. Part denial, part not wanting to burden my mom, and lots of shame.

        1. Nerfmobile*

          I messed up college the first time around, too. It happens, even with smart kids with lots of potential. It took me a lot of years of therapy to deal with unresolved family issues and depression (and I suspect never-diagnosed ADD, but I cope with it). Eventually, I built a good career, went back to school and finished my BA and got an MS, and am now doing great in my second career field. So nothing is forever, thank heavens.

          What helped me:
          1) treating any medical/mental health issues – priority 1. Since you have health insurance, she has no excuses here. Has to be done.
          2) doing something productive. I was lucky that I had stumbled into a campus job that suited me well and I could stay on and parlay that into a career (much thanks to my manager at that job!). Basic work that gets you on a regular schedule and engaging with other people here Isi key, whether it is paid or volunteer.
          3) having a safety net – you’ve got that one covered it seems.
          4) having a long-term goal. I did eventually want to get back to school, but I didn’t have a date set. This was good, because I didn’t feel pressured to meet a date – but I knew what the steps were when I was ready.

          Hang in there! I know this situation is so hard for parents. But some kids bounce hard off that “what am I going to do with my life” point and it does take time. Steering them towards short-term productivity can remove some anxiety over making those ‘forever’ choices and help get their engines revving again.

    6. Stellaaaaa*

      I’m going to be honest here (from my own experience as someone who was once 22 and not entirely honest with my parents): I don’t think she’s telling you the truth about the coding thing. She’s tossing it out there as something (she thinks) you don’t know anything about so you won’t be able to call her out for lying about it. She has no work experience, no degree, and her GPA is what it is. She’s not going to get a coding job. She knows that but she’s hoping you don’t.

      Is there a local university or community college? I’m the first person to point out that going out and getting a job isn’t easy for younger adults. I also know that it’s almost impossible for a 22-year-old to afford rent without either a gaggle of unreliable roommates or a partner to split a studio apartment with. I don’t think you need to charge her rent. However, I do think you can reasonably tell her that if she doesn’t enroll in some kind of schooling for the spring semester, she’ll have to start applying for jobs and show you the sent emails as proof.

    7. Bluebell*

      As the mother of a hs senior who isn’t on a direct track to a four year college degree, we are already starting to have talks about what will change next year. I do think it’s absolutely fair to ask for something in exchange for your daughter living with you. That could be rent, specific chores, going to therapy , etc. but her doing nothing is not going to help her or help you. Many good suggestions on this thread and I hope things will change for the better!

    8. Michaela*

      Oh, man, I was there about a decade ago. Came close to failing out of my Ivy, massive depression/anxiety that therapy helped with (but it took years), had to move home, felt unemployable, am super private by nature, etc., etc.

      I dug myself out! It took time, and my family was incredibly supportive, but I swear she can come back from this.

      First: part time job. A fulltime gig is probably out of reach right now, and might not even be healthy, but something that will get her out of the house on the regular, get some money coming in, and get her out of a pattern of moping alone (I was there, I remember the almost-physical need for quiet and solitude, but it only solves the immediate problem of OTHER HUMANS ARE STRESSFUL and no long-term problems). Barista, bartending, envelope stuffing for a local non-profit (this was my choice), phone banking for the candidate of her choice, whatever.

      Second: be visibly supportive of her therapy. Don’t ask for details, that’s invasive, but ask how it’s going, if there’s anything you can do to help. Maybe ask if she would find a session with you and her therapist to be a useful tool? That might be a place to negotiate what your expectations are for while she’s living with you, and what her boundaries are; the supportive third-party of her therapist can make the negotiation less fraught. I found it super comforting when I would come home from a therapy session and there would be a favorite snack of mine on the counter — therapy is hard and exhausting and it was nice to able to take a few minutes to come back into myself afterwards. And I don’t think depression can be cured by exercise, but maybe encourage her to join you/your husband in exercise?

      Third: chores. She has GOT to contribute in some way to the space she’s living in, even if that’s not financially. I did allll the cooking when I was living at home, which made me feel less like a terrible freeloader, and maybe she’s not into cooking as much as I am, but she can do something. Yardwork? Pet care?

      This is an awful, awful thing to go through, on both sides, I’m only now coming to appreciate how awful it was for my mother to watch me be miserable and ineffectual for years on end, but it is survivable and she will probably be okay. She is going to have to work for it, and it’s going to take a lot of time, but I am living proof this kind of thing can be dealt with.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I actually think depression can be greatly helped by exercise. My CBT therapist really wanted me to do more. She doesn’t like the idea of exercise for exercise’s sake, but I sort of wish I could insist she go to a *regular* Zumba class (loud, happy music; the same faces most of the time for low-level acquaintanceship; and hard, repetitive physical activity).

    9. Dan*

      I gotta be honest, my grades in college were not that hot. I wasn’t going to truly flunk out, but I did have to calculate my major GPA to make sure I could graduate while still getting D’s in my capstone course. You can actually get straight C’s, not technically flunk out, but still not graduate. (Or is not graduating flunking out? I digress.) I did end up with a 2.6 overall. I also really didn’t tell my parents shit about my grades, although they didn’t pay any of my tuition. Grandpa pitched in, but he didn’t ask. So I didn’t tell.

      Another poster was quite blunt in saying your daughter will not get a coding job. Blunt, but probably right.

      So here’s the deal. Coding is about what you can do, degrees are secondary, although usually (but not always) necessary. If you don’t have a degree, you need a stellar portfolio. TBH, a killer mobile app would be better than some pythons scripts. Your daughter has an uphill battle, because she will either have to admit to the 1.7 GPA (which will sink her unless she has a portfolio similar to the next Bill Gates and can prove she was just bored) or she has to omit the school references but then somehow account for that time. You can’t have a four year gap, no degree, a thin portfolio, and expect to get a job.

      Working at Target and “building a portfolio”, I’m just not sure how that’s going to work in practice. She may be better with a coding boot camp.

      Regarding the actual conversation with the kid, well, you hadn’t meant to snoop, but you can’t un-know what you saw. Sometimes, you forget things when “kids will be kids, this is part of growing up” and sometimes you can’t forget things because you came across information indicating a very serious problem that needs to be addressed. The situation you described is the later. Flunking out of college is Not A Good Thing and deserves a conversation. (Don’t talk down to her or demand things from her, but have a conversation.)

      College isn’t for everybody, but flunking out leaves a hole that needs to be dug out from.

    10. Colette*

      Normally, I’d say “she’s 22, you don’t get a vote”, but she clearly needs help.

      I’d suggests giving her some parameters – she needs to pay rent unless she’s going to school and passing 75% of her courses, for example.

      I also think you need to understand more about whatever mental health issue she’s dealing with, at least to understand better how to help. Is her current reclusiveness part of the illness, or is she just floundering? Is she actually showing up for appointments and taking her medication? Does she need a more intensive program?

      It doesn’t sound to me like whatever illness she’s dealing with is anywhere near controlled, and the nature of mental illnesses means you might need to step in.

    11. Ann Furthermore*

      I think you are well within your rights to tell her that she needs to get a job and contribute to the household. Charge her rent — even a nominal amount — and hold her accountable. If you want, you can hold on to what she gives you in rent and then when she’s ready to go out on her own give it back to her for a nest egg or something.

      She needs to do something. Just living in your house and not working or doing anything else isn’t good for her, and it’s not fair to you.

    12. misspiggy*

      I think it’s worth getting to the bottom of her illness. Some mental health conditions cannot be managed to the point where someone bounces back quickly. Sufferers need to get through and survive until the most severe phase lets up, and then start building a life. Someone in this situation needs to be eating well, doing regular exercise, helping with housework, and doing structured activities like a job or volunteering. But that’s about staying as mentally healthy as possible, not preparing for a future career. That can come later. You need to let her know that at the moment you don’t care about the degree, or launching or any of that stuff – you care about her getting as well as possible. And that she has a responsibility to you, because you love her so much, to really work at things that involve self care. Self care includes being as honest as you can with your loved ones and not using money to paper over the cracks. Several people close to me have had serious mental health issues emerge in their early twenties, and those with families who supported them until the worst passed did much better in the long term.

    13. Another Dreamer*

      There is probably more to the story. I’d withold judgment and try to talk to her about it.

      My last year of college, I was assaulted. The college wasn’t helpful. It took a huge toll on my academic career, job search, and many other things. I never told my family because I knew they wouldn’t be supportive.

      I’m not saying this to alarm you. Just to point out that there may be more going on here. She could be depressed and overwhelmed or she could be dealing with other Real Stuff that isn’t easy to talk about.

      Maybe come clean about having seen the letter, but approach it supportively in case she’s struggling with some difficult stuff?

      1. A Mom...*

        This thought has crossed my mind, actually. I don’t -think- she’d assume we wouldn’t be supportive; we’ve had “in general” conversations about sexual assault at colleges, and risks, and alcohol, and stuff. All of it culminating in the “the point is that you’re safe, not that you never get drunk” conclusion.

        I also worried about drugs or alcohol, but based on what I see of her friends, I don’t think so–and her bestie is very protective of her privacy, which I don’t think she’d be if it were something like that.

        But that thought is just one part of why I don’t want it to be a huge “You were flunking out!” hysteria, and more a “what was going on, what’s going on now, where are you going, do you have a plan to get there? We are worried about you, and we want to see you making some kind of progress in some direction or other.”

        1. Another Dreamer*

          You sound like a great mom. :-)

          College is hard. To balance out what I said before, I think that some people struggle for reasons that aren’t a big deal in the long run. Like learning how to handle pressure, how to manage your time, having unreasonable professors or a bad living situation, being on a career path that isn’t a good fit, any number of things.

          When I was in college, I would feel really guilty when I got a bad grade for a seemingly minor reason (like getting distracted when trying to study or just not being interested in the material) and that made everything worse. In hindsight, I realize that it’s all a learning process and that you can recover from having struggled in college and go on to have a good adult life.

          1. A Mom...*

            “you can recover from having struggled in college and go on to have a good adult life.”

            This is the big point I want to make to her, but that she makes it harder for herself to do that if she lies or if she lets herself drift.

            It’s so hard to figure out how to a parent now–bcs it’s not good if what’s going on is “You haven’t pleased Mommy & Daddy.” It needs to be, “I am going to do these things, and my parents are going to do X to help me.” And maybe X is, “hold me accountable for how I spend my energy and my time.”

    14. moss*

      She can write an app for free with the tools that Google provides. Working on that could be a condition of her staying there. Good luck!

  21. Sibley*

    I’m doing about a million loads of laundry today, all for a good cause. I volunteer at the local animal shelter, and both their washers are broken. They go through a TON of towels, blankets and toys. So I brought home 2 HUGE bags of laundry to do and then will take back. I’m estimating 7-8 loads total.

    1. jamlady*

      This is awesome. I never thought about doing something like this before! I always want to volunteer at a basset hound ranch nearby but never have much time. This is perfect! And kudos to you for your service :)

      1. SeptemberGrrl*

        I’ve been fostering a lot during this kitten season, the laundry is staggering! (but well worth it).

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      That’s awesome! Just remember to vacuum out your lint trap in addition to emptying it! I only have one dog and he clogs up the system on the regular. :)

        1. Pennalynn Lott*

          I would imagine that you attach an extender, the kind that narrows down into a chiseled point, to your vacuum and stick it in the slot / hole that the actual mesh lint trap goes into.

  22. alex b*

    Anybody wanna talk recent, decent thriller/horror movies (discounting the Am. Presidential debates)?

    I finally saw The Witch this morning. I loved the lighting, costuming, scenery, and dialogue, but was a bit meh on the pacing and plot. It was neat to think that the dialogue was from historic 17th-C accounts, and the possession scene, I thought, was well done.

    I quite enjoyed The Invitation, after the awful cold-open scene, which was unnecessary, IMO. Anyway, Tammy Blanchard was stellar in the main role (she’s also great in the movie Tallulah, on Netflix). And who would have thought that Norm Gunderson from Fargo would do so well in creepy roles (AHS: Freak Show, The Walking Dead, The Invitation)?!

    Haven’t seen Under the Shadow yet, which is supposed to be an Iranian kind-of Babadook film. I liked The Babadook. I did not so much like Circle or Would You Rather? which have been streaming recently on various platforms. The Forest, also recently streaming, I enjoyed, despite critical rejection.. It’s about a girl who goes to search for her sister in the supposedly haunted “Suicide Forest” in Japan at the base of Mt Fuji. It stars the Margery Tyrell actress from GoT.

    Any thoughts on these movies, and what are you watching this autumn? I would love recommendations!

    1. Lily Evans*

      Not super recent, but have you seen It Follows? I’m not a big horror fan, but it got such good reviews I had to check it out and it lived up to the hype for me!

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I hate horror movies in general, but I loved Let Me In—the remake, not the original.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I thought the original was better (except for that stupid cat thing–good horror films always seem to have one really dumb scene). The remake isn’t bad, but it’s just not as disturbing. I don’t like remakes as a rule, except for a couple.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Yeah, I don’t really have a rule on remakes. For some movies, I like the remake better. For others, I like the original better.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            My favorite horror film remake is The Thing. It’s WAY scarier than the original. The old one is pretty good, but it’s not scary. John Carpenter’s 1982 version freaked me the hell out. :)

    3. ginger ale for all*

      I saw the latest Jack Reacher movie. Thin plot, few surprises, and I think Tom Cruise is showing his age. He took off his shirt in the movie and I wanted to yell out for him to put it back on. Also, I think he has Botox face. I don’t think it will do well in the theater. The action scenes were diverting though, nothing innovative just routine stuff.

    4. Kara Zor-El*

      My husband and I just watched The Conjuring 2, and really enjoyed it (we also liked the first one)! It was very suspenseful and made me scream a few times. I liked the 70s UK setting as well.

  23. Frustrated*

    A lot of this is venting, but I’m asking for advice, too. It’s gonna be very long…

    My best friend of 30+ years (let’s call her Sandy) is friends with another woman (let’s call her Karen) whom she’s known for a couple years longer than me. I’ve known Karen just as long since I often tagged along with them (I’m several years younger), but we’re just occasional friends. They’ve always been the kind of friends that make a lot of trouble together and fight quite a bit, many times about serious things. They’d have these wicked fights and then make up quickly, no matter how nasty or serious the fight was–Sandy is very forgiving and a people-pleaser, while Karen gets over things very quickly (wish I could do that!). Their thing was usually partying and still is to this day. Sandy and I fought when we were kids over stupid things, like the color of the carpet. Very benign stuff. We usually went to the movies, slept over each other’s house, drove around and listened to music, and ate out.
    So, Sandy met Eric as a teen. There was an attraction there, but they never dated for some reason. Then she introduced Eric to Karen, also both teens at the time. It was clear there was still an attraction between Sandy and Eric, which mostly came out when they were drinking, and they flirted a lot, but for whatever reason Eric chose Karen over her. Eric and Karen got serious and eventually had a couple kids as the years went on, but never married. Eric treated Karen like garbage throughout their whole relationship (she’s still with him). Verbally and emotionally abusive, drug problems, etc.

    Eventually Sandy got married (we’ll call him Mark). The attraction between Eric and Sandy never went away and it was just below the surface. The four of them hung out all the time, usually partying at bars and night clubs, among other things. A few years later Sandy cheated on her husband with Eric, even though she knew what a dirt bag he was. It came out, they all went through a rough patch, of course, but all was forgiven pretty quickly (within days) and they went on with the usual pattern of bar hopping and night clubs several times a week, among other things.

    Although all was forgiven, Karen used this affair as an excuse throw Sandy under the bus constantly, make up lies about her, and guilt her into doing things for her (small stuff, nothing big). This went on for years. During this time the cheating happened again a couple times. And all through these years, Sandy, Karen, Eric and Mark continued to hang out every weekend. From time to time Sandy and Karen would get into a blowout because Karen thought Sandy and Eric were sleeping together again. Finally Sandy and Mark got divorced, so he’s out of the picture. But the three of them continue on with the friendship and the same pattern keeps happening. Karen would accuse them of sexting, or flirting, or whatever. Sometimes it was true, sometimes it wasn’t. (Although these days I don’t know what to believe anymore.) They’d all fight. Karen would say she’s done with them both. They’d all make up and carry on. (And she would always post this stuff on Facebook for all to see.) Even though Karen would suspect them of something or catch them up to something and they would all make up, she would always somehow find a way to throw Eric and Sandy together. For example, if Karen had a picnic and needed ice, she would ask Eric to go to the store and ask Sandy to go with him. It’s weird. I don’t know if she just has this switch in her mind where it’s fine that they’re together, and other times it’s not. Or if she’s doing it on purpose because she likes the drama of accusing them of something, so she can then lay on the guilt trip to both of them. I tend to think it’s the latter.
    The latest incident was Eric and Sandy texting flirtatiously and saying things they shouldn’t. It basically boils down to them both being guilty (though that’s not the story Sandy told me originally), there was a huge blowout, Karen posted it publicly on Facebook (for both sets of children to see!) and threatened to post some very personal health information about Sandy on FB if she didn’t admit her part in it. Sandy said she’s done with Karen and Eric, and Karen said she’s done with Eric and Sandy. They all unfriended each other and blocked each other on their phones. Eric and Karen are reconciled, of course. Karen and Sandy supposedly are civil to each other, but I’m pretty sure they’re friends again.

    So, through all these years I’ve remained friends with Sandy. I’ve listened to her when she and Karen have these blowouts, given her advice when she asked, and just tried to show her what kind of person Karen really is. (Yes, Sandy is at fault in this, too, but Karen has done some pretty crappy things to Sandy through the years and Sandy just puts up with it out of her sense of guilt.) Although I’ve seen more and more how Karen operates (oh and BTW, she’s cheated on Eric also), I’ve always just let Sandy go on about her business. I’ve told her how much I hate that she puts up with Karen’s toxicity and that she’s batshit-crazy for staying friends with her, but I don’t harp on it at all. I’ve said it maybe twice over the last few years. And, likewise, I think Karen is crazy for staying friends with Sandy given how many years this whole “love” triangle has gone on (20+). I told her that, too. However, with this latest incident, I told Sandy exactly what I think of this whole situation, no holds barred, including that she’s just as much to blame as Eric, and that Karen is truly a shitty person for posting what she posted on FB for all their kids to see (it was really disgusting).

    With this last incident, I’m starting to feel like I can’t trust Sandy to be truthful with me. So many times the stories start out one way, and then it comes out that she’s just as guilty as Eric. And even though she tells me she and Karen aren’t friends, I know she still talks to Karen. They’re not friends on Facebook (but I noticed they each have a hidden mutual friend with me, which I suspect is each other so I won’t know—I sound crazy…), but they use Facebook Messenger; they each supposedly have the other blocked on their cell phones. But she plays it off like they’re just being civil and texting once in a while. Even though I can see all the FB messages popping up on her phone when we’re out (and they’re constant). I think it’s that she knows how I feel about their friendship and doesn’t want me to judge her or say anything to her about it. The way I feel is that if this is her decision, it’s her decision and that’s fine. But I don’t want to hear the tale of woe the next time this happens (and there WILL be a next time). You’re an adult. Own your decision!

    I truly don’t get how these two women can stay friends. It’s a sick, toxic, dysfunctional relationship if I ever saw one. If the person I called my best friend slept with my boyfriend, the father of my kids, she (and he) would be kicked to the curb quite fast. That would totally destroy my trust in them forever. Period. And if my supposed best friend treated me like garbage all these years and then posted the latest incident and all this nasty name-calling shit on Facebook for all to read, including my kids, there’s no way I would ever want to be friends again. And I wouldn’t sleep with my friend’s boyfriend and then continue to sext, flirt, etc. for years to come. You just don’t do that to your friends.

    I can’t help but feel that she puts way more time, effort and energy into this toxic triangle than she does into our friendship (and other non-toxic friendships she has with other people). I’ve told her this. And I’ve told her recently that I feel like I’m the Tuesday evening/Saturday afternoon friend. In other words, she reserves the prime socializing hours for Karen and Eric (prior to this latest blowout), drinking and whatever else she’s doing, while I’m relegated to the non-prime hours for things like clothes shopping and a matinee movie. She always says I’m her best friend, but it doesn’t feel like it. She always says I’m the one she tells everything to, but then I find all these omissions she makes when telling me things, because they come out at a later date. I don’t think she’s malicious when doing this. I think she’s got a huge self-esteem problem, I know she’s got depression, and she’s a people-pleaser. Always has been. She’s also pining away for companionship, even though her divorce is less than six months old, which means she’s spent a lot of time on dating sites and trying to meet men. I’ve told her she needs this time to work on herself after all the crap that’s happened over the last 25 years. And she adamantly agrees with me. But then she’s right back to the same old thing: dating sites and this toxic friendship.

    Finally, my questions: Do I just carry on and let her do what she’s going to do and just write it off as she’s never going to change? Or do I put some distance between us? I don’t want to throw away 30 years of friendship, but I’m tired of feeling like I’m second choice all the time. It feels like a slap in the face to me (and her other friends) when she continues to put effort into this toxic person all the time.

    1. Myrin*

      Ooof, that’s some drama-and-a-half if I’ve ever seen one, and basically going on for neigh 30 years, no less! I don’t have much experience in situations like this but I’d really recommend you disengage from all of that. I do see that you’re valuing Sandy’s friendship and very understandably don’t want to throw it away, but does she value you? Do you actually want to be her friend or do you kind of feel obligated to/are used to it because it’s been that way forever? Do you do stuff together that isn’t about her relationship drama? Because I feel like if you answer these questions for yourself and decide that yes, you do want to remain friends with her and not just become an occasionally-seen acquaintance, you may need to put a ban on all relationship talk from her. It sounds stressful and unpleasant and unnecessary so you could say something like “I’ve decided that from now on, I don’t want to hear anything about the drama of your relationships anymore because it’s stressing me out, nothing ever changes, and I can’t do anything about it anyway. I’d just like to spend time with you, my friend. Can you do that?” or something to that extent.

      1. Frustrated*

        I think she knows I don’t want to hear about it anymore and that’s why she’s omitting that she’s back to being friends with Karen: she doesn’t want the judgment she thinks she’ll get from me and figures it’s easier to not say anything and pretend like nothing is going on. She won’t come out and say that they’re messaging all the time, but I know it from all the popups I see on her phone when I’m around. In telling her exactly what I think of all this I think she knows I don’t want to hear anything about it, as I truly did not pull any punches or beat around the bush at all. What gets me, really, is that she’s lying by omission because it’s the easy thing to do. She’s always been one to take the easy way out of things and not tell the whole truth. She lies by omission, rather than blatant lying, because it’s the easy thing to do. And I think that’s really what’s getting to me now. I feel like she’s being sneaky and I feel like I can’t believe her when she tells me something. Rather that just own the decision to stay friends with Karen, she’s sneaking around. Like an affair.

        (I know this whole post makes her sound terrible, but she really has never done anything to me or her other friends. It’s just this particular friend. And honestly, I’m starting to think the reason they stay friends is because they’re both willing to put up with such terrible behavior and disrespect.)

        1. dawbs*

          I think you *might* be overthinking the ‘lying by omission’ bit.
          Not that her honesty with you might not be an issue, but, you made it clear you find the ‘love triangle’ BS distasteful and obnoxious–so she’s not sharing that with you. That’s not so much lying as it is saying ‘gee, this bothers her, I’ll not shove it in her face’

          honestly, that’s a great first step w/ a BFF. Because truly, when I’ve been in relationships that were so problematic that I couldn’t share them w/ certain people in my life, the ‘double life’ of keeping it from them lead to fractures that highlighted the problem until things crumbled more or less on their own.

    2. self employed*

      I hate to be so blunt, but it doesn’t sound like you’d be throwing away 30 years of friendship. Drama, maybe. :\ Id distance myself.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      These are three people who thrive on unnecessary drama. This is who they are and this is the plane they live life on.
      Do you want this in your life?
      Twenty years is plenty long enough to tell how this will go. You could randomly check in each decade from now and the same thing would be going on.
      Sandy calls you her best friend but I am wondering if you are her best enabler.
      Friendship is a two way street. How does Sandy add to your life? How does she help you?
      Meanwhile what are you life plans/goals/dreams? How much of your energy/time is lost to this drama that will never be cured? For the amount of energy you have put into it you probably could have created world peace by now.
      My best advice, remain cordial but go about your life. Fill your time up by fixing problems that actually can be fixed. Tell Sandy that she can no longer vent to you because there is nothing you can do to fix this. Decide for yourself that you will not allow on-going, unnecessary drama to define your life.

    4. BRR*

      I don’t think anybody can tell you how to feel. You’ve told Sandy what you think about this. You can continue being friends with her (I would draw a hard line about discussing Karen/Eric. That you don’t want to hear about any of it because it’s been toxic for a while). Or you can let it drift apart. It’s sort of the advice on here of your manager sucks and isn’t going to change. This is going to continue. It’s perfectly ok to distance yourself from this. I was exhausted just reading it. It feels to me like you’re making the time you’ve been friends equal how good the friendship is.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This. I had a friend who was in a very difficult relationship and I functioned as her sounding board for a long time. When she finally got out of it, *poof!* she vanished. I no longer have any way to get in touch with her and I haven’t heard from here in a long time. :(

        I had one function, and it seemed that once she didn’t need me anymore, I wasn’t of any value. Which now that I think about it, I’m really disgusted with myself for putting up with her that long. I had the same thought–“We’ve been friends for so LONG!”–but really, that doesn’t matter when you eventually just become a means to an end for a person.

    5. Stellaaaaa*

      They all kinda sound like garbage people who embody my truism that people who have LOTS of friends usually do so by forgiving a whole lot of rotten behavior. I’m sure that if you acted like Karen, Sandy would hang out with you more, but you probably wouldn’t be okay with any of this trashy drama bleeding into your life. I’d cut Sandy loose.

      1. MillersSpring*

        +10000 These sound like toxic horrible people who all deserve each other and thrive on childish antics and immature boozing.

        Slowly back away from your friendship with Sandy. If you’re seeing her once a week, start seeing her every other week, then once a month, then every 2-3 months. Be busy, even if it’s just time to yourself.

        Don’t think of it as throwing away a long friendship but as a normal process of growing apart and minimizing the drama that spills into your own life. You don’t need these people’s drama taking up valuable room in your head and life. It sounds exasperating and exhausting to be Sandy’s friend, and she doesn’t seem to have any interest in maturing or turning over a new leaf.

    6. Ann Furthermore*

      There are people in this world who thrive on drama, and these 3 sound like classic examples of that. It’s been going on for years and years. If any one of them really wanted to end it, they would have.

    7. AcademiaNut*

      I think I’ll vote for distance.

      To be honest, from your post I don’t see Sandy as being in any way a better or nicer person than Karen. If anything, Sandy comes across as worse, because she’s the one whose been carrying on an intermittent 20+ year affair with her close friend’s husband.

      I think you need to accept that Sandy isn’t going to change. She’s been like this for more than 20 years of her adult life. For whatever inexplicable reason, she’s chosen, over and over again, to dive back into the cess pit of dysfunction that is her friendship with Karen and Eric. She’s not going to stop lying. She’s not going to stop her affair with Eric, or her public fights She’s not going devote more of her energy to her sane, supportive friends. She’ll keep on agreeing with your advice, and turning around and doing the exact opposite.

      From a practical perspective what I’d advise is

      – Block both of them from your Facebook feed, so you can’t see the drama there.

      – Drop your relationship with Karen. Don’t go out with Sandy when Karen is along.

      – Refuse to discuss Karen, Eric, Sandy’s dating woes or anything related to it, ever. Tell Sandy that you’ve been hearing about this for 25 years, you’ve had enough, and you’re not discussing the situation or listening to it again. Be firm – the moment Sandy starts in on the latest drama, repeat the above and if necessary hang up the phone, delete the email, or leave the coffee shop if she doesn’t listen.

      Then, after a while you can re-evaluate what there is of your friendship when talking about Karen and Eric, and you trying to support your friend through her terrible choices, is no longer part of it.

  24. Lily Evans*

    So I took the plunge and bought plane tickets for the spring! I’m going to be doing 2 nights in Iceland and a week in the UK starting and ending in London! I’m still trying to decide how to fill that week in the UK and would love any suggestions! I’m a fan of good (vegetarian) food, interesting museums, and outdoor things that aren’t super outdoorsy (like gardens and beaches, I’d rather take a nice stroll than a hike).

    1. Bann*

      Will you be hiring a car or using trains to travel around in the UK?
      Do you have any preference for how long you want to spend in London itself?

      I’m a Northern girl and obviously would love to advocate for you to experience parts of the UK other than London, but honestly with only a week, you might be better spending the majority of your time in London itself. I didn’t particularly like living in London (I was there for two years), but it’s an amazing city to visit as a tourist. There are dozens of museums, the majority of them free, and lots of gardens (e.g. Kew).

    2. Elkay*

      I’d recommend spending the whole week in London because there are lots of museums and parks within easy reach. Hampton Court Palace is nice and you can get to it easily from central London. If you want to go a bit further afield Brighton, Bath, Cambridge and Oxford are all short train journeys. You might want to look at The National Trust as they often have properties with gardens which are nice to walk around.

      1. mander*

        Kew Botanical Gardens is amazing and easy to get to from central London (if a bit of a long ride, depending on where you’re staying). There’s also Regents Park, which has lots of formal gardens to walk through and is next to one of London’s most interesting mosques (I haven’t been inside but the copper dome is pretty impressive to look at). A lot of the most famous tourist stuff is really overpriced but if things keep on the way they are Britain will be a bargain destination by next year.

      2. Mander*

        Oh, and Borough Market (next to London Bridge station) is a great place for all kinds of interesting food and it’s close to lots of other tourist attractions like Southwark Cathedral and the Golden Hind.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        Go to Richmond Park and visit Isabella Plantation. You can look it up on the internet on the Royal Parks website. It’s free, while you have to pay to get into Kew.

    3. Dot Warner*

      The British Museum is amazing! You could spend a week there and not see everything. The Tower of London is pretty cool too, if a bit touristy. The Imperial War Museum is also not to be missed.

      Pubs can be hit and miss on vegetarian food, but curry places usually have good options, and London is one of the best places outside of India to get curry.

    4. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I live in London – here are some ideas:

      Definitely stay the whole week in London. There is enough to do in this city and the surrounding environs that it will be overwhelming enough without also trying to head out to other cities (and there are many beautiful places to see in the UK too!) and dealing with trains, etc. You can lose a lot of time in this town getting from point A to point B!

      Speaking of transport – a lot of people forget that the Thames is a working river and there are all sorts of transport services available, including Transport for London’s River Bus, so available using the Oyster travel card. It would be an easy way to link some great sightseeing views with getting to a destination in a leisurely way- for example, you can get to Kew or Hampton Court Palace from central London in a much more scenic way than rattling along on the District line for hours.

      You could do a day trip out of London to somewhere like Windsor, Brighton, or, my personal favorite because it is cute and accessible, Winchester. Any of those would give you a chance to see another part of the country and yet not be too far from your London base.

      Interesting museums: Check out the Wellcome Collection by Euston Station – it is free and they have all sorts of weird stuff in there, depending on what they are displaying. There is also the John Soames Museum and, actually, you may really enjoy the Geffrye Museum – they have herb and multiple period gardens as part of their exhibits on how people have lived in the past 400 years. It is out close to the trendy part of town, so you could see Shoreditch and Spitalfields Market at the same time as a trip out that direction.

      Vegetarian food – easily accessible just about anywhere and lots of options. There are a bunch of pop up food stall market type places these days as well. I would recommend hitting up the area around the South Bank Centre on the weekend (behind the Queen Elizabeth Hall) where there are all sorts of food stalls, sometimes depending on a theme (for example there were only African food vendors during their African festival thing a few months back). Its also great for people watching and skyline looking :)

      If you are looking for an interesting nature stroll, or you just want a break from the city – there are a bunch of those up in Hampstead Heath area (check out Kenwood House – it is free). I am a huge fan of Greenwich too. The view from the park next to the Observatory is incredible. Added bonus: the Maritime Museum is down there (mostly free) with a lot of neat exhibits, there is a market/food hall in the center, cute pubs along the river, and the Maritime College and the newly-renovated Queen’s House (where the super famous portrait of Queen Elizabeth is apparently now on permanent (free!) display).

      I would recommend deciding what you want to do and then seeing if you can group things together by area so you aren’t crossing town a lot. Also, leave plenty of time for serendipity and wandering, and also if you see something you would want to do/see when you get here. Finally, spend little extra money to stay in Zones 1/2 – anything further out and you will spend more time on trains than seeing anything.

      You’ll have a great trip – even better now that the exchange rate is so favorable!

    5. Jessi*


      London has tons of parks and gardens for strolling in – there are even a couple of forests within the Greater London area (I feel like if I can get there on the tube it counts as London). I second Kew Gardens as a place worth seeing. London is filled with museums (natural history, science, V&A British) all of which have free entry. London will also of course be the most expensive for accommodation. Planning a holiday is one my favourite parts of a trip!

    6. Lily Evans*

      Thanks for all the suggestions! You’re all probably right about a week being not enough time to do much beyond London. I’ve never traveled anywhere for more than a few days before, so it sounds like a really long time but it’ll probably go by really quickly!

      1. The Unkind Raven*

        If you wanted to try to see a little bit outside London you could do a day tour – Viator is an option, and there are plenty of others.

    7. Mander*

      Oh, and Borough Market (next to London Bridge station) is a great place for all kinds of interesting food and it’s close to lots of other tourist attractions like Southwark Cathedral and the Golden Hind.

    8. Jessica*

      I just spent a month in London over the summer, and while I didn’t get to go to a ton of restaurants, I did find a few good vegetarian places (and many more than I was sad to miss!) Bhavna Sweet Mart is off the beaten path in Brent (NW London), but good, cheap vegetarian takeaway in an area that didn’t have many options. Andina is a Peruvian place (if I remember correctly) in Shoreditch that has a lot of vegetarian options- most of their plates are small, so you can try a several of different things- lots of fresh, bright colors! Manna and 222 Veggie Vegan were both good. One of my most frequented places during my stay was Yorica, a vegan ice cream/soft serve place off Oxford Street. They have three kinds of free sprinkles! A lot of restaurants got pretty busy for dinner, so you might think about getting reservations- we had to wait over an hour at 222 Veggie.

  25. Amy*

    Does anyone have experience with postpartum anxiety?

    I gave birth nearly three months ago to a perfect little baby who is doing great. I knew beforehand that I was at risk for postpartum depression – I’ve been treated for depression in the past, and have a family history of depression (postpartum and otherwise). I see a therapist every two weeks and was watching closely for signs of depression, and I was relieved to find I’m not depressed.

    However, I’ve been struggling with intrusive anxious thoughts, almost all related to my baby. It mostly happens at night and when I’m alone. For example, if I take her to the grocery store, that night I’ll have what I suspect is a low-grade panic attack that she caught something and will get so sick she’ll have to go into the hospital. Or I’ll be playing with her and think, what if she dies and this is the last time I get to see her smile? It’s heartbreaking and really interfering with my happiness. I’ve also found myself doing some compulsive repetitive behaviors like sanitizing my hands, checking the locks on our doors, and feeling her stomach while she’s asleep to make sure she’s still breathing.

    Yesterday I told my therapist the extent of what’s happening, since I think things are getting worse. We’re working on figuring out how to redirect my thoughts when intrusive cognitions come up, but I’m really struggling with it. We agreed I’m going to see her more frequently until we get this under control, which is comforting. But honestly, I didn’t even know postpartum anxiety was a thing until she brought it up, and I’d love to hear from anyone who experienced this and was able to get better.

    1. self employed*

      I’ve not experienced but know it is super common! Time, CBT, and maybe medication are the answer. Also support! Be careful not to isolate yourself. Find other caring moms and make yourself leave the house and hang out. You’re ahead of the game already by seeking treatment. It’s very easy to isolate and that just makes everything worse. Best of luck to you!!

    2. JenC*

      My oldest son is 10 years old now, and just last night I woke up and remembered the desolation I felt when he was about one month old and caught a cold. I didn’t know I had PPD. It went on like that for months, and to be honest things that people thought would make me better like meeting other mothers made me feel worse. no offense to the other commenter who suggested that – even to this day I’m not sure what made that so bad for me! I just wanted to tell you to hang in there, I think a therapist is the best thing you can do. It’s only when I told my doctor how I felt that I started to improve. The thing that turned it around sounds really silly but it was a little kit to make a stuffed cat/doll that my mother bought me. The handwork spurred on a whole lot more embroidery, cross stitch etc and now I am quilting obsessed. I think I was trying so hard to do everything right and having that little project to focus on placed that desire on something I could more or less control, and just let me enjoy the baby. Writing it out sounds dumb but it really helped. I just wanted you to know that you aren’t alone. I also worried that if I had other children the same would happen, but I have had two more kids without a shadow of PPD. You will find a way out of these feelings, you are doing everything right! And you are the best mum for your kid! One other thing, 3-4 months can seem wretchedly hard and then suddenly things turn a corner, again I don’t know why. Best wishes to you, and I hope my comment is helpful rather than annoying!

      1. JenC*

        I know you said you aren’t depressed, sorry if it seems I ignored that part, I was just trying to tell you that I had similar problems after baby! I also had those awful anxious thoughts, but I was depressed.Hope that came across!

    3. M*

      Yes! I had it – therapy, human interaction, and sleep if you can get it were the things that helped me.

      Once I was able to sleep and also make some necessary boundaries with family members, it got a lot better and I’m now able to look back on that time without it ramping up my anxiety.

      So there is help out there, and recognizing the problem quickly means you’re doing a great job. For another success story check out amalah . com (no spaces). She’s funny and also had a lot of these symptoms with each of her boys postpartum. Askmoxie . org also has some great resources. Take care!

    4. chickabiddy*

      Congratulations on your baby!

      I do not know if this is something you’d consider or even if it is relevant, but some antidepressants (which can be used to help tamp down intrusive thoughts) are actually compatible with breastfeeding, so if you are thinking that they are not an option, they might indeed be.

      PPA/PPD/PPP is definitely a thing and I’m sorry it is making your life more stressful right now.

    5. Natalie*

      That sounds really hard! I don’t have any kids yet, but I have anxiety generally and I’m always checking my dog to make sure he’s still breathing when he hasn’t moved in a long time. I can’t imagine how much worse it would be for my own tiny person.

      Definitely keep working with your therapist, and as mentioned consider medication short term. Also, try your hardest to share what you’re experiencing with people closest to you (your partner, both of your sets of parents if their around) and possibly some guidance on how to help you. I know many people, for example, instinctively try and reason with an anxious person, which doesn’t usually help and can actually make it worse. Your therapist can probably help you figure out some specific steps or assists that your nearest and dearest could do that would help.

    6. Arty*

      In my day, we called them day-mares. A horrifying scenario would play out in my head, and I would be powerless to stop it. Subsided after baby was about 6 months and I was more confident as a parent. Very normal and very unsettling! Best wishes to you.

    7. Troutwaxer*

      Look up “Free Range Kids” on Google and head over there. They’re a good antidote to the anxious, helicopter parenting which is all the rage now. Where medical issues are concerned, remember that it’s good for your baby to get a little cold or infection; their immune system needs to exercise and grow strong just like muscles do. As long as its not life-threatening (consult a doctor, not some guy on the Internet who named himself after a fish) it will be good in the long run.

      And get some sleep. Get Grandma or a sister/brother or someone from team you who can change diapers and get a couple good night sleep and you’ll be much less anxious!

      1. Observer*

        I think you’re missing the point here. @Amy knows that here fears are not reasonable or realistic. So, going to a site that tells her she’s being unreasonable is not going to change anything.

    8. TootsNYC*

      I think in a group that size, the negative-attitude people will totally dominate. (especially if it’s online!) Because there’s some compulsion driving them to express themselves, and the “healthy” people will simply pull back.

      So I don’t think it’s a good place for you. Participate peripherally, and plan to get most of your “help in a crisis” assistance from other places.

      Meanwhile, you know there have to be people more like you, so watch out for them. People who might show up at something in-person but you realize you don’t see them posting in the online group, etc.

    9. TootsNYC*

      Since you’ve already got CBT going, I will second the motion that you consider medication. For many people, medication is a short-lived thing, and I think esp. post-partum.

      1. NotAsSadMom*

        I am 6 weeks postpartum with my third baby and just admitted I was dealt with PPA this time around and am working on treatment options. i haven’t had any issues before, though we have a theory that some of my issues started with my second birth, but were mild and didn’t need treatment, and then having my third so soon exacerbated the problem because my issues started during my pregnancy. And honestly most of my symptoms aren’t bad enough that I would likely do anything about them, except the rage machine. I am having bouts of uncontrollable, sudden rage. And my big kids catch the brunt of it and it’s really not ok. The other things I am experiencing are the instrusive thoughts (if I fall off this stool and die, will the kids be ok and safe until DH gets home?), inability to think through a multi step process, and having physical connection issues with my oldest (I can snuggle the toddler and baby all day long, but the 4yo wants in my lap and my skin crawls).

        When I talked about this with my doctor, aside from therapy, she recommended a shot of progesterone or low dose antidepressants. I honestly don’t believe that I could follow through with therapy right now – that stereotypical mom lack of self care issue – so I went for medication options. So we tried the progesterone shot yesterday, and I think it is working. There is a fog that seems to be lifted from my brain. I didn’t even realize it was there. Or I just brushed it off as newborn fogginess. Except that my kid is sleeping a crazy amount. I don’t always take advantage of it, but I’m not up much at night.

        I guess, just keep pursuing it and don’t let it slip through the cracks. Good luck.

        1. Observer*

          Please push your doctor for a full physical. A lot of what you describe sounds like classic thyroid issues. But the “fog” could be a lot of things.

          1. Reverend(ish)*

            This. Did the doctor run a hormone panel and full thyroid panel? Progesterone is a great help, but a baseline of your labs could help clarify the situation. And also vitamin d. Mine plummeted to 19 and I started having big mood swings and mental fog. Cleared up with prescription vitamins.

  26. Anonymous Educator*

    It’s been a while since I’ve been stoked for a new album release. Kayjez just released a new album this week, and I’m listening on repeat!

  27. chickabiddy*

    This is a little bit work, but mostly life. I am a freelancer with three main clients, which together add up to at least a regular full-time job. One of these contracts absolutely requires that I work late: I have to paint all teapots that come in by midnight, so that takes me until at least 2am, and often later. Another contract does not mandate late hours, but the client is in a different time zone (I am east coast, he is west) and tends to work fairly late himself, so when I need to actually engage with him, which I frequently do, the best times are usually about 9pm-midnight my time. Third client is not time-sensitive.

    I don’t mind this schedule, as I am not a morning person. However, when I’ve been finishing up work between 2am and 3am, I am finding it hard to wind down and head straight to bed. This sometimes means that I don’t get to sleep until closer to 5am, and I am not a person who does well on limited of sleep, so I am often not up until noon at the earliest. This kind of kills the rest of the next day, as by the time I have eaten and showered and stuff, there’s not much “day” left.

    Do any other late-shift workers have ideas about how to decompress more quickly so that I can actually get to sleep shortly after I finish working? Getting up at 10am instead of 1pm would make me feel like I had more of an actual day in the world.

    1. BRR*

      I don’t have great advice but I can totally commiserate with you. I worked at a bar in college and typically got home at 3am. I was tired but not sleepy. I just embraced it that I was not going to go to sleep right when I got home. I would have a snack while watching a short episode of something as my wind down ritual.

    2. The RO-Cat*

      I’m a freelancer myself and, while not working on such a harsh schedule, I do have days when I go to bed after midnight and after a hard day. What I do is take a few minutes to just breathe and let my thoughts wander, play a game that relaxes me (UT2004, of all the games!), meditate a little… you get the idea. Plus, I’m always paying attention to sleep phases – I go to bed when I’m sleepy becayse I know from experience that sleep comes in 90 – 120 minuntes cycles and if I miss the moment I have to wait for the next one.

    3. Cristina in England*

      Definitely definitely install something like f.lux on your computer, it will dim the blue tones because blue light makes your brain think it is daytime and time to be awake. Other apps are available depending on your platform. For iOS there is the built-in night shift setting which does the same. F.lux has really annoying settings where you have to set the time you want to wake up and it works back from that, limiting manual control, but you get used to that.

      In terms of quieting the mind, what about listening to calming podcasts? You can get meditation ones, or try something from BBC Radio4, I can’t always stay awake through a super well-researched and dry piece about Ancient war artefacts, etc.

      1. chickabiddy*

        I do use f.lux! I have never really gotten into podcasts but it is certainly something I could try.

        1. Natalie*

          There’s a program called Deep Sleep you might like – it’s an app and costs a few dollars, and a delightful Scottish person does a sleep induction thing. I used it when I was on vacation and didn’t have Netflix and it worked wonderfully.

          There are also a couple of “sleep help” podcast. Sleep With Me is one but I know there are others.

    4. James*

      No longer on late shift, but I used to for a while. The trick I’ve found works is to stop thinking of working late as eating into your sleep. It’s not–that’s your schedule.

      Think of it this way: At my job, I leave around 4/4:30. I don’t go to bed at 5!!! I get some chores done, then eat dinner, then do some housework, then read for a bit or watch TV (or both). I typically go to bed around 10. That’s 5/5.5 hours of time between “off work” and “done with today”.

      If you’re working late shift, accept that. You’re done with your WORK at 3 am, but you’re not done with your DAY at 3 am.

      One thing you can do is find local third-shifters or the like on Meetup.com. There are groups of folks that hang out, do activities (bowling was big in my area, but it’s probably a local thing), and generally socialize the way normal people do in the evenings, only they do it late at night. Having a group of friends that shares your schedule can definitely help you feel like you’ve had an actual day.

      1. chickabiddy*

        Yes, I did have that attitude/schedule when I worked a (different) late shift job many years ago. Unfortunately — well, it’s not at all unfortunate except for scheduling issues — as I mentioned in response to a different post upthread, I am a single homeschooling parent and need to do at least some parenting during the day.

        (And right now, homeschooling is not optional. My daughter is old enough and aware enough that she would not want me sharing stuff that’s not really mine to share, but please believe me that this is the way things need to be.)

        1. Ann O.*

          If you’re homeschooling, would it be possible to move your daughter onto a night schedule with you?

          1. chickabiddy*

            It’s actually a cyber school, so she “attends” classes online. It actually works out okay, because she gets herself up and fed (she’s a teenager, it’s okay) and does her classes in the morning while I sleep. In the afternoon I help her with schoolwork and do house stuff and errands. A night schedule would significantly disrupt her social life, and that’s not trivial to a teenager. As long as I’m up by noon it works out well enough, and I can do that if I get to bed by 4am (and to sleep by 4:30ish), but I have a hard time winding down enough to sleep at 4am if I’m working full-steam until 3am. I am definitely going to try some of the podcasts, and I remember reading on a thread here to change into PJs and brush teeth and all that well before bedtime.

    5. Red*

      When I worked until 1am, I would make a routine of winding down, like a bedtime routine for a child. I’d take a shower, wash my face, get the coffeepot ready for the morning (I like having the filter and coffee already in it, because I’m a moron in the morning and couldn’t handle it otherwise). At the end of it, I’d feel like the only logical next step in my life would be to get in bed and go to sleep. Having that routine helped me a lot with a rapid transition to day shift, too, fwiw.

    6. acmx*

      When I worked second shift I really tried to make it a habit of going to bed a max of 2 hours after I got home. I’d spend the first part doing any chores that I want to do, showering and then I read ’til bedtime.

      Also, I put up light blocking curtains and started taking melatonin to help me sleep (but I’ve always been a poor sleeper before).

    7. INTP*

      Here are some things that help me:
      -If I’m going to be working really late, I’ll wear my blue light blocking glasses for my last hour or so in front of a screen. That might be impossible if you are doing some kind of visual art because they obviously distort colors, but I don’t find them disturbing just for my typing and dealing with word processor-type software. I’ll also listen to relaxing-voice youtubers when working late, so that I finish work in a more relaxed state than usual. Then I take my melatonin as soon as I’m done working.
      -Have a ritual of some sort, instead of just doing different relaxing things every night. Maybe making a cup of tea and watching a specific bedtime show. (I might be a little insane, but I compartmentalize my Netflix shows according to time of day/activity — shallow sitcoms and cozy dramas are for watching before bed and I also have my cleaning shows, workout shows, and so on.) Somehow having some ritualism about it makes the same amount of downtime feel more powerful.
      -Don’t work in the bedroom. I know when I’m tired I get really tempted to sit with my laptop in bed, but ultimately it’s best to be able to physically move to a new location when you’re trying to signify a change in the time of your day. Ideally you’d work in one location, relax in another, and sleep in a third.
      -If you eat dinner after your work, plan ahead as much as possible so that you aren’t putting much time into it on nights that you work later. That will get you in bed a lot sooner. And eat something easy to digest, like soup or a smoothie, so that you aren’t going to bed with a full stomach. If you don’t eat dinner after work, when you do work really late, plan to have a little snack as soon as you finish working so that you aren’t hungry when trying to sleep.

  28. Myrin*

    So some of you might remember this story I posted about here two are three weeks ago – my sister and I share our first names with two teenaged “Instagram celebrities”. I had no idea who these people were but we suddenly started getting phone calls by a girl who wanted to talk to “MyrinAndLyria” (and it’s always that, it’s never asked normally, and that’s because, as we later found out, the account name of these girls is “MyrinAndLyria”). We were super confused for some time and then one day my mum had an earnest talk with the caller and she said she desperately wanted to talk to “MyrinAndLyria, the famous celebrities!”, so my mum googled those and then at least we knew what that was all about.

    Now, we thought this was some kind of one-time thing, maybe someone had googled these girls’ names and then found our phone number. I thought that our number actually might have been posted on some fansite or something – something one of you guys suggested as well when I posted about it – and I’ve come to the conclusion that this was probably the case. And I’m saying that because the calls became so many and so intense, oh my god. It couldn’t just have been one group of friends alternating their calling anymore, Jesus Christ.

    We had already resigned ourselves to never being able to use our phone ever again when one day, my mum answered and there was a boy on the other end who had like a huge crush on these girls or whatever and my mum managed to involve him in a conversation. Only after he hung up twice because he clearly didn’t know what to make of my mum’s obviously-already-somewhere-around-sixty voice telling him that he’s got the wrong number and then called back with an “It’s me again!”, but whatever. My mum then told him that this wasn’t the number he was looking for, that he probably wouldn’t be able to just find these girls’ number just like that if it really were the real number, that he was being somewhat creepy by doing this in the first place, that they probably wouldn’t want to talk to him because why would they, and that “stars” usually have an email or even snail mail address where you can contact them so he should try those. She ended the call with asking him to please tell his friends and “on the internet” that ours is a wrong number and they shouldn’t call anymore.

    And it really worked, we only got one single call after that. So I’m thinking that either this was one massive group of friends who now finally got it or that there was indeed a website that had our number listed as theirs and maybe the boy now called them out on it? Anyway, I’m just glad I don’t have to talk to fanatical 12-year-olds again because holy moly. The one time I answered the phone the way I usually do – with my name – the girl on the other end screeched “MYRINANDLYRIAHOORAY” and hung up.

    1. Amy*

      That is a great story! Whether it was intended to be funny or not, I laughed. :)

      I’m pretty sure my phone number is very similar to the customer service line for a major phone/internet service provider in my old city, where I got the cell phone. I get calls 1-2x week from angry people (usually cranky elderly folks) whose TV/internet isn’t working or who have some sort of billing issue. Not great, but it’s infrequent enough that I’m not up for going through the hassle of changing my phone number to avoid it.

      I’ve also had a recent ongoing saga with a sad-sounding yet persistent guy who I’m pretty sure was given a fake number (my number) by a girl at a bar. He has called and/or texted looking for her 5 times now. Every single time I’ve told him he has the wrong number, but hope springs eternal, I guess. Today, after I told him (again) I wasn’t her, he followed up with, “Okay… but are you a dancer?” Dude, no!

      1. Pershing48*

        I laughed as well, mostly because the spelling made me guess that Myrin is UK based and I imagined a teenager calling a celebrity’s phone number and having a older lady with a Cockney accent answer instead, asking them what the hell they think they’re doing and then patiently explaining the situation to them. Yes, this is entirely because I’m American and find all British accents inherently funny.

        1. Myrin*

          Hate to disappoint, but we’re actually German and my mum is an older lady with a Saarland accent but I believe the situation you imagine is still pretty similar! :D

      2. JKP*

        My brother was only 1 digit from a pizza chain. He used to get people calling to order pizza all the time. Some of them would be cranky and/or drunk people who wouldn’t understand/accept that they got the wrong number. So he would take their order. And then when they called back to complain it hadn’t arrived, he would claim to be sending a 2nd driver with their free pizza.

      3. Myrin*

        I laughed so hard about your last sentence (and my comment was indeed meant to be at least a little funny) because that happened here as well! After my mum had already explained about half the issues I listed above, he hesitated for a moment and then said “Okay… but do you have daughters?”. Like what the heck, I thought you had a crush on these 13-year-olds, why would you ask about random other females you know nothing about?! Do you think they want to talk to you? Ack! My mum was Not Amused.

        (On a side not, none of these callers seem to have realised – and I don’t know how that’s something you can miss – that both Myrin and Lyria are 1. extremely common names in Germany and 2. have been very popular for more than a decade. Just googling only the names reveals that there are dozens of sets of siblings who have these names [something my mum is still annoyed by, because she likes to be ~special~ and then pretty much directly after my sister’s birth, both of our names took off and now there are SO MANY people with the same names] and yet they behave like there are only these two girls who are named that way and no one else.)

      4. Elizabeth West*

        Haha, I had a similar issue with my landline–it was one digit off from Child Support Enforcement and I would get all kinds of calls.

        Also, for some reason, for a while in the early 2000s, I would sometimes get calls at night and when I answered, they hung up really fast. I thought it was just kids or something, but one night, I answered, “Hello?” and a man said, “Oh, uh, sorry.” I said, “Wait!”

        He stayed on the phone and I asked him who he was calling. He was very reluctant to tell me, but when I told him I was getting calls late and this was getting annoying, he confessed it was an escort service!! I told him that’s fine, you do what you like, but when you get hold of them, you might tell them this happened so they can change their number to something a bit more different than mine. Please and thank you, and good night.

        He must have done, because after that, the calls stopped, haha! XD

    2. Miaw*

      I tried googling myrinandlyria and nothing comes up. I am curious about who this ‘internet celebrities’ are… is ‘MyrinAndLyria’ a pseudonym you used?

      1. Myrin*

        Ah, yes, of course, I used the pseudonyms my sister and I use on the internet – the “famous celebrities” share our real names.

  29. Lady Blerd*

    Three days of soul sucking weather in my neck of the woods. It will be all Netflix for the rest of the day.

    1. Mags*

      We had a freak hot-streak the past few days, now it dropped 30º and is raining with some crazy strong winds. It’s definitely a good-book-and-warm-tea kind of day.

  30. Mimmy*

    So I’m in New Mexico right now enjoying this lovely weather. We return home tomorrow.

    We’re here for Homecoming at my husband’s high school. Last night’s function was traditionally a somewhat fancy affair, but last night was horrible. All we had were burgers, hot dogs, fries and onion rings. And half the burgers were rare, bordering on raw! Definitely not the worth the money we paid. Here’s hoping tonight’s function is better.

    Rashes are okay – most of them are now dry/crusty/peeeling patches, though a couple small new ones occasionally pop out. I’m beginning to wonder if this was initially poison ivy but turned into eczema. I’ve had this before, as I said, but I don’t remember the rashes turning so crusty before. Could be the dry air out here, but still!

  31. Folklorist*

    Uuuggggghhhhhhh….moving is the worst. That is all.

    Also, update: I posted here the other week looking for a temporary place to stay in DC while I look for a condo. After many, many frustrating setbacks, I’m moving in with an AAM reader! Woo! Thanks AAM for being the best community.

    Now I just have to pack. Grumble.

    1. MacGirl*

      That is awesome! And I agree about moving–it takes forever, even after you have physically moved!

    2. Sibley*

      Ugh. I’m with you there. Moving sucks.

      3 good things come out of it:
      1. you find that thing you’ve been looking for
      2. You get rid of a bunch of crap you don’t need
      3. everything gets cleaned (I clean while packing)

    3. Anxa*

      I’m with you!

      I actually am not totally with you, though. I think moving could be kind of fun, if only everything went smoothly. But, of course…

      I’m currently stuck between needing to start packing, and being afraid to start packing because my apartment still has fleas and I don’t want them setting into the packing boxes.

      I’m also freaking out because family is going to be helping us move, but while the help is much appreciated, it also means that I have to fit in family meals with the move, when all I really want is some quality time with the moving truck. Give me a granola bar and some extra time over a sit-down meal. But it’s the last time we’ll all be together for a while. Anyway, I’m getting nervous about my ability to maintain control over the schedule and priorities.

      Also I’m packing up a two-person apartment by myself, have no car, and our bus system is even worse than usual, in part because we had some post-hurricane flooding in town, and my dryer was broken for 3 weeks.

  32. The Other Dawn*

    Any ideas for using bulgur wheat? I have some in the cabinet and don’t have a clue what I want to do with it. I went on a dry goods buying kick several months ago, so I’ve got the bulgur, some wheat berries, lentils, and quinoa to use up. And I’m armed with an Instant Pot.

    1. mander*

      Sounds like a good base for stew. I used to just cook bulgur wheat and wheat berries and eat them like rice but my husband doesn’t really like it when I cook alternative grains so I don’t do that so much any more.

    2. MacGirl*

      I’ve used bulgur in veg burgers with good results. You can also use it as a stuffing in roasted acorn squash or roasted aubergine.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I love bulgur. I use it in casseroles, make pilafs, etc. I make really good stuffed collards with bulgur in place of ground beef. There are some great bulgur recipes on the NY Times cooking site, so a search there might yield something delicious.

      One of the first dishes I made with bulgur was a bulgur and lentil salad with red onion, carrots, tarragon and white wine vinegar. A little olive oil and some salt. Good stuff.

    4. Lily Evans*

      A dining hall where I used to work made the best wraps with either wheat berries of quinoa. They’d basically make a grain salad with dried cranberries, dried currants, celery, some sort of dressing, etc, and put it in a wrap with hummus and spinach. Then they’d toast the wrap in a panini press (but I replicated it with a frying pan and it came out fine). They were so good, and really easy to throw together once you had the grains prepared!

    5. Anonyby*

      I’ve used it as a replacement for ground meat in shepard pie, so anything you might normally use crumbled ground meat in might work.

      For those curious, the recipe I used was actually based off of something from Disneyland–the Veggie Tater Casserole at Flo’s V8 Cafe. Will reply with the recipe link!

  33. "Mrs. Kershaw"*

    I know sometimes “love” grows over time, but right now I am greatly disliking a group in which I am now inadvertently more involved with and will be for several years. Let me explain…

    For entertainment purposes, let’s say I’m a WAG. “Wives and girlfriends of pro athletes/sports stars” is my guilty pleasure garbage TV show and as I watched the show this week I realized it kind of mirrored what I was going through, albeit dramatically fake. In reality, I’m in a spouse group of 2,000+ people that is 95% women and our spouses are high level in their careers in a specific field. A new girlfriend told me about spouses group and invited me to join the club.

    My spouse was formerly a major league player and I met him after he retired. He played in the minor leagues after retirement and has played in the minor leagues since. This year he returned the major leagues and I’m so happy for him. As a minor leaguer, my life wasn’t really affected. I was technically a WAG back then but I just think about it in the minor leagues. I went to games when I could and made friends with some other players and their significant others but nothing major. Now that spouse is back in the major leagues, baseball is greatly a part of my life when it wasn’t before. I’m having trouble dealing and I’m having an even bigger problem being a WAG.

    I can’t even say this nicely. I can’t stand the WAGS! We have a private, invitation only forum that everyone chats on and many people ask for advice or vent. At first I thought it was great because the WAGS seemed so helpful, but then about 5 minutes later the ugly drama allllll came out. We’re talking Jerry Springer ish sometimes.

    They are all obsessed with money (yet are mostly broke), complain constantly, are super catty (a common post is “so and so wore a hooker dress to the after party, can you believe what a hoe she was?!”), and are fanatical about their spouses careers. And I swear to JHC, they all must have the same f*cked up keyboard because writing “the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog” always comes out “the question brwnz fox jumped opera the lazy dig.” WTF. This goes beyond spellcheck.

    I am not my spouse’s trophy wife. I am very successful on my own…but suddenly I feel like people just see me as a WAG with no accomplishments of my own. This was not my life and now it might have to be (spouse is on the World Series team and it looks like it will be another very successful year…so yeah, can’t down play it even if I wanted to, heh.) For now I’ve kept my distance from the WAGS and just stay in the background of the spouse group.

    Now that I’ve vented…back to reality. I want to know has anyone out there “learned to love”? Ok, I don’t have to love it but to say that I want to be tolerant of them makes me feel like a jerk. Or maybe, just share a story of how you hated XYZ at first but now XYZ is not so bad.
    I know things will change for the better over time, but this is like the teething stage for me and it’s borderline unbearable. I cannot relate to most of the spouses for various reasons. Maybe I just need to find a good friend of two in the group. This group really does help each other out in times of need, so I’m trying to see the gold amongst all the sh*t.

    1. Pennalynn Lott*

      Do you HAVE to be part of this group? I joined what I’ll call an exclusive social club (tight restrictions on who can be a member) several years ago, hoping to find people of a similar mind, but I hated it. I met people online and in person, and only liked maybe 1% of them. I’ve stayed a part of the online forums (which are on FB), but I literally never check the discussions. I hear about the drama from the 1% I’ve befriended, and that’s more than enough exposure for me.

      So, what happens if you stop participating in the online forum? Will your husband’s image suffer on the team? Any negative consequences for you, other than not being part of the catty “in” crowd? (Which would seem like a benefit to me, actually. :-D ) Because it’s perfectly OK to not like All The People, especially when the only thing you have in common with them is your husband’s job.

      1. "Mrs. Kershaw"*

        Ultimately, no it wouldn’t affect my spouse. I don’t live near the hen house :) If lived in town I’d have to be involved.

        I won’t lie, sometimes the Jerry Springer stuff was stuff-popcorn-in-my-mouth entertaining but then it got sad and depressing.

        Multiple people have left the group recently so I might be one of those people too. Although I will leave silently…no dramatic exit for this lady.

    2. Stellaaaaa*

      You didn’t marry into major league life, but most of these women did. I’ve followed the A-list musician crowd for a long time (that’s a novel for an entirely different comment section) and I gotta say, sorry to all the empowered, successful women out there, but non-famous women are only able to marry celebrities if they have lives so negligible that they can easily be given up. When the husband needs to move or travel for his job, there’s no compromise about whether the wife’s career might be equally important. These women don’t work or live in one place long enough to make real friends. They also fear that their husbands may be unfaithful because a lot of them definitely are.

      I’d say you should keep an eye on the forum for info but refrain from contributing.

      1. "Mrs. Kershaw"*

        Oooo I want to hear some stories from you!

        You’re 100% right and you bring up a good point, a lot of them were ready for this lifestyle and sometimes it’s just like they’re along for the ride.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      They don’t sound like a likable group to me.
      My suggestion is to figure out why you are there. You mention finding a good friend and helping each other. Is there another group doing something else that would fill this description for you?
      For me, I would feel lost in a group of 2K people. I do best in smaller groups. Do you notice similar patterns about yourself?
      It could just be me, but the good groups I have joined I liked them starting at day one and it only got better. I suggest thinking about other groups you have joined, what you liked and didn’t like and how did that story play out over time?

    4. mander*

      Go Royals? :-)

      These people sound like they just want to be super special and important because they are with famous people. From your description I feel more inclined to pity them than anything else, as they sound very insecure about their positions. I suppose if I saw myself as a trophy I’d feel the same way.

      It’s perhaps not quite the same but I joined an expat group after I’d been in the UK for a while and was feeling lonely. Somehow it ended being exclusively women, most of whom have kids and don’t really have careers as such. Several of them are lovely and I’ve made a few good friends but I had to quit going to most of the social events because of the non-stop complaining. Some had been here longer than me but made very little effort to integrate, and they would complain about the lack of free drink refills, various American products, the way the laws work, driving on the other side of the road… on and on and on. And for reasons I could never understand they all thought British customer service was terrible and bitched about paying tips when we went for lunch.

      I still participate on the Facebook group occasionally and sometimes go to the meet ups depending on who’s going to be there, but I’m pretty selective about the events now.

      1. Japan Anna*

        Haa! Are all expat communities the same? SO much complaining. SO little effort made to integrate or do something.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Oh my God, that would drive me crazy. I wouldn’t want to be complaining if I chose to move somewhere different–I’d be doing everything I could to assimilate! What did they expect!?

          1. Mander*

            I wish I knew! I have no idea why you would move to another country and expect it to be mostly the same, even if you do speak the same language.

            I mean, sure, there’s some things that I genuinely think are better at home, but I am not going to waste the mental energy complaining about the lack of them for the rest of my life here.

        2. "Mrs. Kershaw"*

          ^ a few live abroad as well! Aaackkkk it’s maddening. How can you live in ‘Japan’ for 8 years and never travel and/or not learn as much as “arigatou”?!

    5. Sibley*

      Just because you’re entitled to participate in a group doesn’t mean you have to. If there’s a few people you click with, chat with them. You may find that those people have also checked out, for the same reasons you don’t like it. Have your own life outside your husband – work, friends, family, hobbies, etc. Go the games when you can/want to. But you don’t need to submerge yourself in your husband’s work. The other women who feel they need to are really the ones with a sad life.

      1. bibliovore*

        I know the push-me- pull -you of these groups. There is a very real need to be “part” of something this big in the spouses life but…
        if you must be part of the group be the voice of reason- help out the newcomers with practical information that you would have found useful as a newbie.

        Ignore, do not chime in do not participate in gossip and criticism. Skip those threads. Its a very large group. If you end up meeting one or two people that you can connect with or go to a game that really is enough.

    6. Super Anon*

      I think I might know what you’re talking about, and, yeah, stay as far away from all the drama as you can. If you can get support without being part of that group, do it. If it were me, I would leave the group, focus on my own life, and get support from trusted non-WAG friends. Because WAG’s gossip, backstab, and stir up trouble. Don’t trust those people. Yes, some of them are trust-worthy, but it’s very hard to tell who, and it isn’t worth the risk.

      1. Super Anon*

        PS – Be careful what you say in print. Regardless of how private it seems, there are a lot of ways that forum posts can be made public.

    7. Panda Bandit*

      Those people sound completely miserable. I don’t blame you one bit if you stay away. Maybe see if there are a few nice ones in there but polite and distant sounds like the best course of action.

  34. Mags*

    Hi everyone. I would love some book recommendations. I recently finished “The Wonder” by Emma Donoghue which was wonderful. And have read samples of a dozen other books but nothing has grabbed me. I’m going to peruse the bookstore later today to see if I stumble on anything as well. I’ll take any recommendations, but I really gravitate toward literary fiction, mysteries, and magic realism.

    1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      I have The Wonder out from the library right now! I’m a chapter in and can’t wait to finish it. Have you read Emma Donoghue’s other, pre-“Room” stuff? She’s fantastic. If you liked The Wonder, you may also like some Tracy Chevalier books, especially Burning Bright and Falling Angels.

    2. Stellaaaaa*

      Try Wonderstruck by Brian S…..something. It’s a graphic novel but not what you’d expect.

    3. MacGirl*

      You may like The Children Act by Ian McEwan. I’ve listed a few others for you to try:
      Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
      Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
      Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
      Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
      The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

    4. Canadian Natasha*

      I don’t read a lot of magical realism or literary fiction but I do enjoy a good mystery. A few historical mystery series I enjoy are:

      Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley
      (intelligent pre-teen protagonist fascinated by poisons gets involved in murders in her village in 1960s Britain)

      Inspector Rutledge series by Charles Todd (the pseudonym for a mother-son writing team)
      (Former British officer who’s now a police inspector solves murders while being haunted by the phantom voice of a soldier he had to execute during WWII. Set in Britain in the years after the 2nd world war and deals with the topic of PTSD)

      Beth Crawford series also by Charles Todd
      (WWII nurse gets involved in solving murders on and off the battlefield)

      Hiro Hattori (Shinobi Mystery) series by Susan Spann
      (A japanese shinobi (aka ninja) is tasked with protecting a Portuguese Jesuit missionary in 16th century Japan and has to solve multiple murders in order to keep his charge safe.)

        1. Canadian Natasha*

          Did you know another book is out this fall? It’s called Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d and I may just possibly be on a library waiting list for it. ;)

      1. acmx*

        Hiro Hattori (Shinobi Mystery) series by Susan Spann – these are a nice, quick read.

        Previous magical realism books recommended were The Golem and the Jinni, and Night Circus.

        The Shadow of The Wind.

      1. Mags*

        I almost picked up “My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry” by the same author last night. I will put that on my list for sure.

    5. Liane*

      It’s a little different from The Wonder from what you wrote. but you might try After the Golden Age and Dreams of the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn. They are about Celia, the grown daughter of the 2 best known, now retired, superheroes in a city. Celia has no superpowers unless you count being Ideal Target for any villain who needs a Major Distraction to carry out their latest Master Plan. Between kidnapping and other crime incidents, Celia deals with job problems, love life, and how imperfect she finds her parents. The second book follows her oldest daughter Anna and her pals as they develop their own superpowers and attempt to emulate Anna’s grandparents’ old superteam while dealing with typical teen problems. The super powers are handled more realistically than in movies and relationships and the plot mystery are more important. Does a good job of mixing everyday tropes with supers: Grandma who loves cooking–with her powers.

    6. Mags*

      Thank you all so much for the replies! I went to the bookstore before reading them and I ended up picking up “The Woman in Cabin 10” which is an excellent thriller so far, but a quick read. I will be looking at all of your suggestions next.

    7. SeptemberGrrl*

      If you like Emma Donoghue, you might like “The Paying Guests” by Sarah Waters. Have you read Donoghue’s “Slammerkin”? that was the first book of hers that I read and made me a fan.

      Other suggestions:
      “What Alice Forgot” by Liane Moriarty
      “Reconstructing Amelia” by Kimberly McCreight
      “Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel
      “The Giant’s House” by Elizabeth McCracken

  35. Theguvnah*

    A friend and I are planning a trip to the Palm Springs area. Joshua Tree, etc. any and all recommendations anyone has are welcome! Hotels, towns, activities – any of it. Thanks in advance!

    1. James*

      Tehachapi isn’t that far away–three hours or so–and it’s got some gorgeous mountains. The southern tip of the Sierra Nevadas, plus a few mountains associated with the Garlock Fault. There’s a hiking train running through there that would be well worth checking out! If you can go after a snowfall, that’s best–the snow-covered mountains, walking above a sea of clouds, and yet it’s not so cold you can’t enjoy it. One of the most beautiful areas of the country, in my opinion. And Tehachapi is off from the main SoCal lifestyle enough that prices aren’t horrible if you need to spend a night in the hotel.

      If you’re into military history there’s the George S. Patton museum in Riverside County, not a horrible drive from Palm Springs.

      There’s also some hot-pot volcanism south of the Sulton Sea. Hot-pot volcanism is basically CO2 forming through interactions between limestone and various underground fluids (hot rocks, acidic groundwater, etc), which bubbles up to the surface. It’s cool if you’re into geology–and for us true rock nerds, it’s even cooler because of the newly discovered fault in the area!

    2. Another Lauren*

      Do you want a hotel, specifically? I always rent a house when I’m in PS, because it’s so much nicer — you get a private pool, amazing mid-century architecture, etc. Check out VRBO and see what they have to offer! (I’m assuming you’ll have a car, but correct me if I’m wrong.)

      If you’re set on hotels, I recommend either the Alcazar or the Saguaro, though. Both are amazing!

    3. Ann Furthermore*

      Take a day and drive up to Idyllwild, in the mountains. It’s a beautiful little town, with lots of cool shops, galleries, and restaurants. Until 1990, there was a boarding school there, which I attended in the 80’s. These days, it’s a place called Astrocamp, which is a science and outdoor adventure camp for kids.

      It is one of my very favorite places in the world. If you drive up early, have breakfast at Jan’s Red Kettle. JoAnn’s in the middle of town is a great place to have lunch and hang out in the outdoor garden. For dinner, do the Gastrognome.

    4. DragoCucina*

      If you like to browse mid-century modern this is the town! They embrace it and the stores are filled with amazing pieces. LuLu California Grill is good. My BILs live in Palm Springs and it is their favorite.

  36. LSP*

    Do I really need to clear my cookies/cache?

    I was trying to buy a new phone case when Chrome said that that particular website was having issues and recommended I clear the cookies for that specific website. So I did that but then saw hundreds of cookies for garbage websites. Ad-this and ad-that, shady stuff.

    I get conflicting info on the web. Some articles say it’s harmless and some say I should clear it weekly. What do you think?

    1. Not Karen*

      I don’t think they’re harmful, they just take up hard drive space. If you’re searching for flights, you’ll want to clear your cookies or work in incognito mode because the price you see can go up if the cookies say you’ve searched for the flight before (from what I’ve heard).

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Cookies are text files set by websites to store information for that site. It’s how Ask a Manager remembers your commenting username. It’s how your bank knows you’re logged in (or logged out).

      Sometimes there are third-party cookies that keep track of things for the benefit of advertisers. So you might search for something on one site and then see an advertisement for it on another site.

      Most browsers allow you to disable third-party cookies, but some websites disable core user functionality if you don’t enable third-party cookies.

      If you’re really worried, browse incognito/private all the time. Cookies will still need to be set, but they’ll always be forgotten when you close the window.

  37. Lizabeth*

    Finished Alison’s recommendation from last week – Missing Presumed. Well written and tight plot, enjoyed it enough to not take naps on my commute to/from work. Rate it as just as good as Elizabeth George or PD James.

    Just finished watching the finale of Inspector Lewis, perfect way to end it but I’m bummed that that is it, they won’t go forward with DI Hathaway. It looked like he was being set up as a modern Morse.

    1. Caledonia*

      Have you watched Endeaver, which is the Morse prequel?

      As for Lewis, I don’t think either of the main characters wanted to do it anymore. There was an article about how ending it where it was, it matched the same amount of episodes as Morse, which I suspect most of the people involved found fitting.

      1. Lizabeth*

        Been watching Endeavor on PBS as well – it’s good :) And listening the Masterpiece podcast on it was interesting. They did some episodes on Inspector Lewis as well.

        Still I would have loved to see where they would have taken Hathaway…maybe someone with do it as a book.

    2. New Bee*

      I’m going to try to get Missing, Presumed from the library this week. I just finished Oh, You Pretty Things, which was pretty good (though I agree with Roxane Gay’s review on GoodReads).