weekend free-for-all – November 12-13, 2016

Olive as kitten

Olive as kitten

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.)

No politics, please. There are lots of other places on the internet to go for that.

Recommendation of the week: Instead of a book recommendation this week, I’m going to recommend that you stream How the Universe Works, as shows about space are strangely soothing.

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

{ 994 comments… read them below }

    1. LadyKelvin*


      We use homemade sourdough for it, but a store bought loaf works too. Plus you can leave out the turkey/kale/dates make it vegetarian by using veggie broth over chicken stock, the chilies do add a bit a spice, so if you don’t like spice leave it out. You can basically tweak this to meet (almost) any dietary restriction, and it is delicious. We make it sometimes as the main course instead of as a side, but it will definitely be making its appearance at the table on T-day.

    2. Gingerbread*

      Scalloped potatoes and broccoli salad are my go-to dishes. They’re basic, but super easy to make and are always a hit at potlucks

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        I take au gratin potatoes to pot lucks, and always have people ask for the recipe- which I just use Pioneer Girl’s recipe that is mostly just cream, potatoes, garlic and a little cheese- so simple and easy.

        1. Wendy Darling*

          In my extended family we have an old family recipe for au gratin potatoes that is similar. I have on several occasions tried much fancier, more involved recipes but I’ve never liked them as much.

          Also last year whilst making said involved fancy recipe I cut my finger on the mandolin slicer slicing the potatoes and then the cream boiled over while I was trying to stop the bleeding, and we had to send someone to the store for more cream, and meanwhile the potatoes oxidized and turned grey-green. So we had a zombie gratin. And it wasn’t even that good.

          1. Jessesgirl72*

            Mandolins are dangerous! We have a pair of those gloves you can’t cut through, for use with the mandolin, but I sliced my finger deeply once just taking it out of the box!

    3. CAA*

      Green bean casserole is a perennial favorite. You can make it more upscale by using fresh green beans and making your own cream sauce with mushrooms. Look for Alton Brown’s recipe on foodnetwork.com.

      Epicurious.com has an amazing cranberry sauce recipe that has fuyu persimmons in it. I tried it one year and now have to make it every year by popular demand.

      Pecan Pie bars — basically the same as pecan pie, but made as a bar cookie — lots of recipes for these online.

      Mashed potatoes from thepioneerwoman.com can be baked in a casserole dish at the party.

    4. JHS*

      There is a really amazing chipotle maple sweet potato recipe that I’ve made a couple of times that is a real hit. If you google New York Times Bobby Flay chipotle maple sweet potato, it should come up.

        1. JHS*

          It isn’t too spicy! You can always temper down the chipotles if you want it less spicy but the combination with the maple makes it the perfect blend of spicy and sweet!

    5. Natalie*

      If you bake, a pie is always a nice option. You can get a little creative for you don’t want to be one of six apple pies – sweet potato or pecan are classics that not everyone does. Or even punch up the apple. My dad often does an apple pie with cranberries and dried apricots that is delicious.

      1. Wildflower*

        I love making my mom’s sweet potato casserole. It’s basically sweet potatoes with brown sugar and cinnamon, with marshmallows on top! It’s super easy and people love it. There are tons of recipes online!

    6. hermit crab*

      It’s a little nontraditional, but look up “Chickpea Casserole with Lemon, Herbs & Shallots” from the kitchn. The recipe makes a big 13×9 pan of easy, inexpensive, vegetarian, transportable, comforting, delicious amazingness.

      1. Ktelzbeth*

        I love this recipe! I’ve even adapted it for the slow cooker, but never wrote down the details, so I reinvent the directions each time.

    7. Overeducated*

      Smitten Kitchen’s spinach and chickpeas is one of my go to potluck dishes, and I have made her creamed spinach for Thanksgiving too. Kale Caesar salad is solid, as well as a Roasted Cauliflower with capers, anchovies, and breadcrumb recipe I made a few years ago and found addictive.

    8. AdAgencyChick*

      i always like to bring a green veggie to potlucks since often people end up bringing a lot of starchy stuff and it’s nice to have one lighter item around. Braised Brussels sprouts are great, as is the Wall Street Journal roasted root vegetable salad (my go-to dish for potlucks).

      1. Mephyle*

        Brussels sprouts seconded. A great thing about bringing them to a potluck is that often a majority of people aren’t fans, which leaves more for the hard-core Brussels sprouts fans.

        Braised are great; I’ve also simply steamed them, then tossed them with a bit of butter (or use nice oil if you want a vegan dish). Maybe a hint of garlic, and some coarse salt.

    9. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      I’ve had terrific luck with everything I’ve made from Smitten Kitchen, and she has a whole section on Thanksgiving. Her apple herb stuffing is outstanding, and although I don’t eat mushrooms, her recipe for garlic roasted mushrooms has gotten rave reviews from friends.

    10. Ellen N.*

      I like this pomegranate/barley/celery salad by Yotam Ottolenghi. This link calls for the seeds from one large pomegranate. The original recipe calls for the seeds from two large pomegranates which is what I use. This recipe has many virtues. It doesn’t have any ingredients that are subject to food safety issues so it can be left out all day. It is vegan, so the vegetarians and vegans have something delicious. It’s crunchy brightness is a nice contrast to all the rich dishes on the Thanksgiving table.


      1. TL17*

        Total Ottolenghi fangirl here! I haven’t made this salad yet but I’d put it on my list. I have made probably 50 of his recipes and I’ve loved them all. He’s a vegetable wizard.

    11. Merci Dee*

      Loaded mashed potatoes. You will not bring any home.

      1 package Ore Ida Steam n Mash russet potatoes from freezer section.
      8 oz. sour cream
      8 oz. onion and chive cream cheese
      1 cup (or more) shredded cheddar
      1 package real bacon bits

      Prepare potatoes according to package instructions and mash. Stir in sour cream and cream cheese – add a splash of milk or an extra dollop of sour cream if potato mixture seems too stiff. Transfer to 8×8 or 9×9 casserole dish and top with cheese. Heat for 20 minutes at 300 degrees – when only 2 minutes of cook time remain, sprinkle on bacon bits. The bits should warm, but not burn.

      Double recipe for a 8×13 dish.

    12. Sled dog mama*

      My go to is homemade cranberry sauce.
      Two bags of fresh cranberries
      1/2 cup sugar (or equivalent of preferred sweetener, honey is awesome too)
      Splash of OJ
      ~1/2 C water
      Put everything in a crockpot and cook on low overnight or high the morning of. When most of the berries have burst and it’s thick it’s done. I like mine pretty tart so adjust sugar and OJ to your preference

      1. Connie-Lynne*

        Mine is similar – but instead of the OJ and water, I add a chopped or jubileed orange, and a diced apple.

  1. Lore*

    You guys, I won the Hamilton lottery! For the Wednesday matinee. Of all days. (I didn’t really mean to enter for the matinee. I just do it every morning when I log on to my computer and I didn’t think about it. Till I got the email. Then I basically marched into my boss’s office and said I’d be disappearing for three hours that afternoon. He was cool with it, fortunately.)

  2. Gingerbread*

    I hope this isn’t too work related. What should I wear to a company holiday dinner? I would be heading to the dinner right after work, so I will be wearing whatever I choose to wear at dinner all day. Last year, most of the women were in cocktail dresses so I felt kind of dressed down (I was in dress pants and a cardigan), but I don’t ever show my legs so dresses or skirts aren’t an option.

    1. Ms Ida*

      You could bring a dressier cardigan to change into or add a scarf or necklace with more sparkle than you would wear during the day. I think adding even something small that isn’t part of your normal work uniform will make you feel more “holiday”.

    2. Ayla K (in HR)*

      Could you do a sparkly tunic with some nice leggings? That way, you can match the general silhouette of the women without showing your legs. Plus, good leggings feel like pants, so you should be comfortable. You could even find some with a fun detail, like contrast piping (or more sparkles!)

    3. LesleyC*

      You could dress up your office slacks-and-sweater ensemble with a sparkly necklace or brooch. In some cases, maybe even a belt!

    4. Marcela*

      I’m not trying to pick up your words, really. For many years I did not show my legs at all, and I only wore skirts, the long ones: maxi skirts, are they called? I actually had a pair of shoes I used to try new clothes, so I would know that the skirt was a couple of centimeters above the floor no matter what other shoes I was wearing, but always covering most of my feet. So perhaps a fancy maxi skirt, with some sparkle or nice embroidery, can be an option for “nice, fancy, dress up clothes for special events”. I had one like that, and last year I had to throw it out because I wore it so much, it was a rag.

    5. Jen RO*

      I’d go with dress pants and either a funky top with a simple blazer or a simple top with a satin blazer. (A satin blazer is not really work-appropriate, but you could leave it on your chair until you went to dinner.)

      As an aside, I also hate showing my legs and I get uncomfortable just thinking of wearing a cocktail dress. No advice, just commiseration.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I went shopping today and bought a sparkly lurex T-shirt which will go under any suit or with trousers for a bit of Christmas bling.

    6. Jessesgirl72*

      Sparklier cardigan and maybe a sparklier tank or cami for under it. I have a couple tanks with rhinestones or similar at the neckline, and several cardigans with metallic threads throughout- my newest red one also has faux rhinestone “buttons” at the cuff- to wear over them. I’d also suggest a pair of palazzo pants. I got a pair this year for Holiday stuff, as a little more festive/formal than regular dress pants. My MIL wore a pair to my SIL’s wedding, and was just as formally dressed as everyone else.

      1. Nella*

        One year I went to two Christmas parties wearing a sequined t-shirt that was tunic length and gold jeans. Thinking back I probably could gave gotten away with sparkly leggings. But just do see now that gold jeans are popping up in the mall again where I am. When I was pregnant at 40 week I wore the equivalent of a black moo moo long to dress and slippers. Yes I wore slippers and just about every woman there was jealous that my feet were comfortable. Who knows many the women at your party are jealous of you because you are dressed comfortably instead of being in an uncomfortable dress.

        I would so go to a store like Winners and pick up something like this:


        It would go well with trousers and work well under a cardigan to bring out a little bling to match the dresses. Honestly, I don’t really care what individuals wear to a party because I put more meaning into their presence at the party then their clothes. It’s just nice that they show up.

    7. Aardvark*

      What about palazzo pants accentuated with an amped up cardigan, interesting shirt, or sparkly necklace? A colorful blazer/blazer over a fun shirt/blazer with chunky or sparkly necklace might also be an option. You could pair that with nice pants/leggings/palazzo pants, particularly if it’s got little flare at the hips or is longer/funkier than a typical suit piece.

    8. Connie-Lynne*

      I don’t wear cocktail dresses to work events, either.

      I have a pair of fancy black pants with some unique hand-painting on them, that roll up super-small and don’t wrinkle. Those, some black or sparkly heels, a black top and glittery butterfly barrettes in my hair are my go-to outfit for work parties.

      I also have a perfectly tacky black cashmere sweater that has “PARTY TIME” on the front in holiday colored rhinestones. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worn that and black dress pants with heels and fooled people into believing I was dressed up fancy. I think it’d because the sweater would be nice without the rhinestones.

    1. J.*

      On sandwiches:
      – with smoked salmon and cream cheese
      – with ham and cream cheese

      In salads:
      – mixed with other salad leaves, tomatoes, cucumber and other salad components

      I bet you could make a yummy pesto if you blitzed it with some olive oil and pine nuts, too.

      1. Ms Ida*

        I love arugula and I just came across a pesto recipe with arugula and walnuts that I am excited to try.

    2. CAA*

      The best way is on pizza with goat cheese and prosciutto.

      Second best is much easier — on a tuna sandwich instead of lettuce. :-)

      1. CeeCee*

        I was coming here to say the same thing regarding pizza. Arugula with a bit of goat cheese, prosciutto, and I like some fig jam on my pizza! Delicious!

        1. CAA*

          Oooh! I was just cleaning the refrigerator and found some fig jam from some recipe I can’t remember. Now I definitely have to make pizza tomorrow!

    3. Alice*

      I like to wilt arugula and have it as a (very slightly-) cooked green. Equally good with European-style food (steak or chicken for example) or Asian (glass noodles, Thai curries).

    4. Marche*

      I love arugula with other mixed greens, with a light drizzle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Makes for a lovely side when I want to feel fancy!

    5. MelPo*

      Williams-Sonoma has a recipe for angel hair pasta with scallops and arugula that is absolutely fantastic.

    6. Another Lauren*

      I do it for breakfast! A bed of arugula, torn prosciutto, crumbled goat cheese, and a poached egg. So good!

    7. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      Panko crusted, pan fried chicken breast, topped with arugula. If you Google Thomas Keller Panko-Coated Chicken Schnitzel, you will find the chicken breast. I top that with arugula, and a little bit of balsamic dressing!

  3. RKB*

    My older sister is getting married this December. We’re Indian and her fiancé is white so there’s about ten days worth of events and gatherings that go down, including two weddings: a church one and one at a Sikh temple.

    I feel awful for saying this, but I am so sick of all this wedding planning hullabaloo. I can’t wait for it to be over. I love my sister and I’m excited, but I want to move on with my life!

    Also – the cost being sunk into this wedding is so astronomical that I feel slightly sick. When my partner heard the amount, we calculated that we could easily elope and then live off the wedding expenses for a year! That’s ridiculous. Indian weddings are always over the top, but I guess I didn’t just realize HOW OTT.

    … sorry. I just needed to vent.

    1. HP Fan*

      I was a bridesmaid for a friend this past summer. Wasn’t involved with the planning process of the wedding itself but I heavily involved with the bridal shower and bachelorette gathering, which was a major pain because the maid of honor was such big and complicated things done without doing the effort herself. So I totally feel you for being at the end of your rope. And everything I heard from our bride was that she wanted things a lot more low-key but both moms were insisting on much bigger things, that went pretty out of control. The ceremony itself was quite gorgeous, left us all in tears, but the reception was a major headache. Seems to be the end result of a lot of weddings.

      Definitely giving me a lot of ideas on how I’ll plan things if/when my day comes… Good luck with surviving your sister’s wedding.

    2. Natalie*

      For whatever it’s worth, she might be sick of it, too. I know I was around two weeks prior.

      Hang in there. It’ll be over before you know it.

    3. Jessesgirl72*

      As long as the couple aren’t setting up a gofundme to pay for it, let is roll off your back. But maybe see if the option is there to take the cash, or even some of the cash, should you decide to get married, rather than the hullabaloo.

      I hope you survive the experience, and luckily, it will be over soon!

    4. SeekingBetter*

      Chinese weddings cost a lot of money. I estimate my Chinese cousin who got married to a white guy probably spent about $40,000 on the wedding attire, invitations, venue, food, cake, and entertainment for the wedding. They invited well over 300 guests.

      The only thing missing was ten days worth of events :)

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I imagine I won’t have such a big wedding if ever it should happen. For one, I don’t know that many people, and for two, even if I were marrying a celebrity and/or we both had tons of cash, I can’t imagine spending that much. All I want is a pretty dress, a nice cake, and some pretty flowers and that is freaking it. And maybe a nice dinner for people, if it’s at night. All that can be done without extravagance.

        1. A.C. Stefano*

          I was at a wedding on Saturday and the dinner was a catered baked potato bar. Genius, simple, and freakin’ delicious.

    5. Connie-Lynne*

      For what it’s worth, my SIL is Chinese and her parents insisted on an OTT wedding, too. She hated it and managed to argue them down on a few issues. Mostly though she just kinda vented to the rest of our generation. :)

  4. nep*

    Anyone have experience with Rock Steady Boxing — programme / organisation helping people with Parkinson’s?

    1. Franzia Spritzer*

      I don’t have direct experience, but I know the owner of the Seattle gym. She’s deeply passionate about the work and is really quite proud of the people she works with.

      1. nep*

        Oh how cool. Thanks. If you ever get a chance, for what it’s worth thank her on my behalf. I’ve been very impressed and inspired by what I’ve seen of their work.

  5. Kitty Kat*

    We have just discovered that my roommate’s indoor only cat has fleas. Yippee for us :P My family dogs have had fleas before so I’m used to getting them flea-dipped. But that’s apparently not an option for cats since they always lick themselves clean? I had no idea about that.

    So how have you cat owners conquered fleas in the past? Any tips?

    1. Elkay*

      Wash all bedding (yours and the cat’s) on hot then either take the cat to the vet to get a flea shot, give the cat flea tablets or buy some flea treatment you put on the back of the cat’s neck. Treat any other animals in the house too.

      1. caledonia*

        Tbh, unless you can’t afford it or it’s an expensive duvet, I might suggest buying a new one. I have a king size duvet and my washing machine too small.

        1. CAA*

          Laundromats usually have industrial size washers and dryers that can handle large items. Ours ended up costing about $10 to wash and dry last time I did it, but that’s a lot cheaper than buying a new duvet.

    2. caledonia*

      I went to my vet and they gave me some hard-core flea spray (for my flat) and several months worth of flea stuff that I put on my cat (it’s liquid in a syringe).

      I was told that stuff you buy in supermarkets just are not strong enough to sort the problem.

      (I am in the UK)

      1. bridget*

        I was told that in my mild California climate, fleas who overwinter have evolved to be resistant to drugstore flea medication long ago, and you need the strong stuff. Definitely consult your vet before you waste money somewhere else on something that won’t work.

        1. Wendy Darling*

          It is said among dog people (and by my vet) that fleas have become resistant to a lot of flea preventatives, but exactly which ones do or do not work seems to vary regionally, according to the Dog Person Grapevine.

          Also I’ve seen one photo too many of chemical burns on pets from that Hartz flea preventative rubbish, yikies.

          My dog takes a pill monthly, which is easy because he thinks it’s delicious. The stuff you smoosh on between the shoulderblades might be easier for a cat though.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            That’s what I used for Pig–the Revolution squeezy thing from the vet. I had to sneak up on her when she was eating to do it and BOY would I get a dirty look!! XD

    3. Punkin*

      Give the cat a Capstar (kills all fleas on her for 24 hours), then treat her with a topical, like Advantage or Frontline (make sure all of these are for CATS and her size).

      If the fleas are all over your living quarters, you may need a professional exterminator (or try some of the stuff from the hardware store). Keep kitty elsewhere until the spray dries.

      1. Connie-Lynne*

        This. Advantage and similar from vets will kill the fleas on your pets AND keep them from coming back. Don’t buy the grocery / pet store stuff, get the vet stuff.

        It’s amazing. Our cats growing up always got flea dipped monthly, and collars, but it didn’t really work.

        The stuff vets have nowadays is safer and works! You won’t even need to treat your bedding or other stuff, unless you want to speed up the process.

    4. Turtlewings*

      Yep, cats and dogs have to use different flea stuff, because the dog stuff is terribly toxic to cats! In my experience, getting the place professionally sprayed is, while expensive, the only reliable way to end an infestation. (Of course, this was an infestation that had gotten bad enough that I was scratching myself bloody in my sleep.)

      Tip that may or may not be useful in your circumstances: Dawn dishwashing soap. It kills fleas and is safe to use on animals (they use it to get oil off critters caught in oil spills). It doesn’t kill eggs or prevent re-infestation, but can still be very helpful — particularly with puppies and kitties too small to safely tolerate poison-based fleakillers. (We use it on the chihuahua.)

      1. Connie-Lynne*

        If it’s a mild infestation (i.e., nobody noticed except on the cat, or one or two hopping around to humans), spraying will be entirely unnecessary with modern vet treatments.

    5. i am just a danish*

      Apparently if you use Frontline or Advantage the fleas in your home will all eventually be “vacoomed up” by your cat and killed. They jump on the cat when it gets near and then dies from touching the fur. Don’t know how long that would take, though.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        OP, make sure you take your vac bag outside and get rid of it after you vacuum. The fleas will stay in the vac bag, so you don’t want to store it in the house.

    6. Franzia Spritzer*

      It’s entirely possible the fleas came with your dwelling. You have to deal with the fleas on the animal, and in your house. Fleas have ridiculously robust pupae, you can kill the flea, and the eggs but the pupae can lay dormant for ages and when a warm bodies host shows up, bingo, flea infestation. The best way to get at an infestation is to do all of the topical stuff being suggested in other replies which sterilize the hatched fleas and prevent them from breading and they will die in time, but also treat your house with Diatomaceous Earth regularly to get all of the hatchlings.

      Brush off all your carpets and vacuum thoroughly. Wash off everything that you can’t vacuum, with hot water in your washer.

      Now wherever you think the fleas or their larvae might hide, sprinkle the DE in thin layers. You can safely sprinkle DE on your carpets, pet beddings etc.

      Leave the Diatomaceous earth in all these places for about 12-48 hours. While fleas start dying 4-6 hours after you treat your home with DE, it’s still better to leave the thing for longer.

      Now vacuum away all the powder and remember to discard the vacuum bag.

      1. Bre*


        If using diatomaceous earth in your home for this purpose, ALWAYS make sure it is is “Food Grade” DE.
        That is all.

      2. Brie*


        If using diatomaceous earth in your home for this purpose, ALWAYS make sure it is is “Food Grade” DE.
        That is all.

        1. Bonnie Fide*

          Well that is the weirdest darn thing! Neither the names I would choose, nor did I mean to double up here. Sorry!

    7. zora*

      people have given lots of great tips for dealing with the infestation now, but also REALLLLY urge your roommate to get a preventative flea med from the vet, Advantage always worked great for me, but Frontline is supposed to be good, too.

      It feels expensive, I know, (my roommate and I were poor college students working minimum wage jobs with a kitty in the house) but it is SOOOOO worth it, because as you are now finding, dealing with an infestation costs so much more in both time and money. If you consistently use the preventative stuff every 30 days (or whatever the instructions) you will not have to deal with this again. And if your roommate can’t afford it, tell them to talk to the vet, we were able to get discounts and coupons and samples periodically. I can’t even tell you how much it is worth every penny.

    8. Not Karen*

      Don’t remember the name, but the last (and only) time my cats had fleas, I took them to the vet and they gave me a little tube of medicine to squeeze onto the back of their necks, I think one dose every month for a few months or something like that. The vet said the medicine would spread around the house and kill the rest of the fleas by rubbing off the cat onto furniture as they went about their business so I didn’t need to worry about washing everything in the house.

    9. Jessesgirl72*

      Get her one of those (CAT SAFE ONLY) topical flea treatments you put behind the shoulder blades.

      If you caught it early enough, that should do it, honestly. My indoor only cat had one flea jump off her onto me this summer, she got the topical treatment the next morning, and I never saw another flea.

      If they are in the apartment/house, the DIY flea bombs do honestly work, but you’ll need someplace for all the humans and the cat to vacate to while they go off.

    10. Pennalynn Lott*

      Whatever you do, don’t use the topical flea treatments available at the pet store. My boyfriend once dosed all of our cats (at the time) with Hartz flea drops. . . and we ended up having to take all of them to the E.R. because they started trembling and stumbling, and one had a seizure. We almost lost all of our cats because he wanted to save money. :-(

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        You can get the good ones (Frontline, Advantix, and their generics) at the Pet store too. Or even Big Box stores.

        The real thing is never buy a Hartz product. Ever.

        1. Amadeo*

          Absolutely. Nothing, ever, at all, from the stores for either cats or dogs. I saw too many come into the clinics I worked at with a reaction to those medications that left in a bag. Always consult with your vet and get a veterinarian approved product from your vet for parasite treatment.

          Do not put Advantix on your cat. Unless it’s changed in the last few years, it’s a pyrethrin, and pyrethrins are fatally toxic to cats.

          Frontline, Advantage, Capstar to help with the adult fleas and I think there may be some new chews or pills you could also ask about, but make an appointment with the vet to ask them about it.

      1. the gold digger*

        PS I promptly grabbed a washcloth to clean it off the cats. My husband the engineer protested that THE WASHCLOTH WOULD GET DIRTY AND THEN WHAT?

        And I had to remind him that I would rather get a new washcloth than new cats.

    11. mousemom*

      After doing all of the environmental control, we used Seresto collars for our kitties. They last for 8 months, and worked great. They’re not cheap, but totally worth not having to dose the cats with topicals every month.

    12. rozin*

      I had a flea infestation without having any animals in my place that were biting me in my sleep. If you’re dealing with fleas infesting your house, I found these things were able to get rid of them at my place:

      -Lavender. Apparently fleas can’t stand the scent of lavender (mosquitos neither) and will avoid it (at least according to the internet, which should always be taken with a grain of salt). I bought several lavender-scented products and placed them all over, especially where I slept and I stopped getting bitten.
      -Water flea traps. Where there are fleas in your hope fill up a few bowls of water, add some dish soap in them and place them near a light source through the night. Fleas will jump into the water and die from that.
      -Dehumidifier. Fleas need high-humidity to survive. If you’re suffering from an infestation, get a dehumidifier and take it from room to room, setting it as low as possible. If you can get the humidity below 50% in each room for a couple of days, that will kill the fleas and their eggs.

      These steps worked for me, and after about a week, my home was completely flea free. Granted, I did not have any pets so be sure to follow what the others here suggested about getting the cat treated. Good luck!

    13. Anion*


      Run out to the grocery store and buy a nice big box of 20 Mule Team Borax (in the laundry section). It’s only a couple of bucks.

      Every day the first week, and every other day the second week, sprinkle your carpets with it, and walk around a little to rub it in. The next day, vacuum thoroughly and re-sprinkle.

      Treat your pets with whatever flea spray or treatment the vet gives you/you buy.

      Check your furniture; vacuum it as well (under the cushions, too) and wash your sheets etc–you can do the laundry every couple of days. When we had a major flew infestation we found they were laying eggs behind the buttons of the papasan chair’s cushion, so check places like that.

      We went from absolutely overrun with fleas to not a flea in sight in two weeks with that method; it’s safe, doesn’t smell awful, and inexpensive. It’s a little bit of work, yes, but it’s worth it. (And yes, make sure you toss the vacuum cleaner bag/empty the chamber every time, and throw the bag or chamber contents out, outside.)

      We didn’t think it would work, but we were desperate–we’d tried everything, sprays and bombs and baths and we even bought a flea trap; none of it solved the problem like Borax.

  6. Julie*

    Colour-blind casting in the theatre: thoughts?

    Big productions like Les Miserables has had colour-blind casting for a long time, and every now and then someone would object to the fact that non-Caucasian actors were playing roles that are mostly assumed to be white (French, in this case). The argument given is usually that if a white person is cast in a role that is specified to be of a different ethnicity (e.g. Othello, or Kim in Miss Saigon) there would be an outcry of whitewashing.

    (I guess this extends to casting in general, but with theatre the cast is constantly changing, so comes up more frequently. )

    1. Natalie*

      I like it, personally – so much of western classic theater was written with 99% European characters, so it really seems like the only way to let actors of color play certain desirable lead roles. Yes, there’s lots of modern theater, but often actors really want to play this or that well known lead role.

      As far as the inverse being less acceptable, IMO it’s only unfair if you ignore all the cultural context and history of theater. That, and I’m not sure how much people would care if the casting was truly colorblind – as in, Othello might be white, but Desdamona is black and Iago Asian or whatever.

    2. MegaMoose, Esq*

      The best analogy I’ve heard for the whitewashing vs. colorblind casting involved candy. One kid shows up to a party and is handed a giant bowl of m&ms. The other kid is handed three. Its fair to give kid number two some of kid number one’s candy, but the reverse is not.

      1. fposte*

        Totally agreed. Plus it’s better for me as an audience member if they choose from the whole bowl of m&ms; the best one isn’t always going to be light tan :-).

    3. AMT*

      The argument is generally a labor argument — i.e. that the theatrical canon is largely plays written by white people for white actors, so if companies want to continue to perform these plays and don’t use color-blind casting, there will be almost no roles for actors of color, and many of these roles won’t be particularly complex or desirable ones. This is especially true for Shakespearean companies. There are literally no Asians in Shakespeare!

      I tend to agree with this, especially since plays aren’t cast and produced to be 100% historically accurate anyway. If they were, we’d cast only English actors, force them to do weird-sounding period accents, Othello would be a white actor in blackface, we’d serve beer and snacks during the performance, scenery would be minimal, and men would play women!

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, it’s funny to think that Shakespearean casting is regularly genderbent already, in historical terms.

        1. Connie-Lynne*

          There’s a Shakespeare company out here that performs their summer season at a campground, outdoors. Beer and snacks are sold and can be brought into the amphitheater.

          1. Connie-Lynne*

            Eight of us went and we brought wine and snacks with us (although we also bought there to support the theatre), then went back and had a campfire and s’mores.

            Pretty damn idyllic.

      2. BPT*

        Funnily enough, I’ve actually read that American accents now are closer to period English accents than today’s English accents are. The English accent started changing after America was founded. Some scholars say that Shakespeare sounds better in an American accent than the current British accent.

        1. Kit*

          By “American accent” they mean “an American accent from an island off South Carolina where some old people talk funny”. British accents and American accents have both drifted away from their shared origins. You can find clips of actors approximating Shakespeare’s English as best they can based on his rhymes and some contemporary glosses, and it sounds more Scottish than American to me (though a Scot would perhaps not agree).

    4. bassclefchick*

      To me, I think it’s a good idea. As everyone else has mentioned, most plays and musicals were written for European characters. If I go to the theater, I just want to see a good show, it doesn’t matter to me if Jean Valjean is White, Asian, or purple with blue stripes. I KNOW he’s supposed to be French. The actor should be good enough at his (or her, of course) job to make me see the character, not the actor.

      But then, I’m not one that’s insistent on seeing original cast shows anyway. However, that may be because I live in the Midwest and getting to New York to see a first run show is not happening on my budget. As long as I get to see Something Rotten (or that other musical everyone wants to see, ha-ha), it doesn’t matter who’s in the cast.

      1. Neruda*

        Interestingly, many of the women I have seen play Eponine have not been Caucasian. I know one at least was from the Phillipeans. I don’t want to generalise too much but it seems the actresses I have seen in this role have an Asian background and when I just did a quick google search I noticed they had played both Eponine and Kim in Miss Saigon.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        The actor should be good enough at his (or her, of course) job to make me see the character, not the actor.

        I usually feel the same, except when the actor (regardless of color) just looks wrong. *koffTheDarkTowerkoff*

    5. Stellaaaaa*

      Theatre tends to cast regardless of things like body type and age as well, so I find the race thing to be a bit of a red herring. As for something like Les Mis, you’d be really limiting the casting if you went by race, as Fantine and Cosette would have to resemble each other and so would Eponine, Gavroche, and the Thenardiers.

    6. BPT*

      A lot of times, it seems that white roles = “normal person” or “average person” or “everyman”, whereas roles written for people of color are done so because that role specifically deals with being a person of color. It’s like, a lot of roles aren’t written for people of color unless they HAVE to be (i.e. slaves, or civil rights characters, or characters dealing with racism, or characters in Miss Saigon). There isn’t really anything lost by casting a black or Hispanic or Asian actor in an historically white role (Les Mis isn’t a story BECAUSE the characters were white – it’s a story where the characters happened to be white, but it’s feasible that these types of storylines are things that people of every race can identify with). But when a white person is cast in a role specifically written for a black person, it doesn’t make that much sense anymore (i.e. blackness is inherent to the role, or something).

      That being said, another reason is that there are so few roles written for actors of color. I can’t imagine being an actor and being relegated to roles that were specifically written for my race – it’s like I could almost never play an average modern day person. So I have no problem with the roles in plays like RENT being coded as the race of the original actors that played them. You look at the depth of talent in Hamilton right now, but many of those actors are saying that they can’t stay on Broadway now because there are no upcoming shows with lead characters of color. Which is insane.

      So sure, when there are an equitable amount of roles for people of different races/genders/orientations, etc, then I might be fine with characters being played by their original race. But considering it will probably take use 500+ years to get there, that’s not something I’m going to advocate for in my lifetime.

      1. Emma*

        Your first paragraph about sums up my feelings on it. I think if there’s the rare case of a role really truly being about whiteness in a way that would be jarring for a non-white actor to play, that’s the only case I can see a role needing to be played by a white actor. All those “everyman” characters, where race isn’t actually a part of their role? No need for them to be white, even if people assume they would be. And that assumption itself is a problem – if a character is French, say, everyone assumes they must be white, but that’s far from true, even in the past. So for a lot of characters people point to as being written to be white, that’s not exactly true – they were written to be of a particular country, say, or class or religion, or whatnot, but not necessarily explicitly white.

        1. BPT*

          That’s a good point that I neglected to include – just because a role is set in Europe in the past doesn’t mean that a person of color couldn’t play it. There were a lot of non-white people in European countries in nearly all periods of history.

          1. DragoCucina*

            That’s a good point. One of the things I liked the HBO series Rome was it showed the many different people living in Rome. Southern Europe was always very diverse.

      2. TL -*

        Yeah I would find it hard to believe a non-white Scarlett O’Hara (unless it was a Hamilton-type take on the story) but Wicked or Chorus Line or something like 90%+ of stories that have a white protagonist, I don’t think it would make a difference at all.

    7. eV*

      Just for example: Alexandre Dumas (19th century French author of The Three Musketeers, Count of Monte Cristo, etc.) was black. People of color tend to be written out of history, or their origins obscured, but they were always there.


      So it seems to me that you could point out to people complaining about nonwhite cast members that a little historical research would benefit them.

      1. Emma*

        This, right here. I’m both a historian and a fantasy novelist, and one thing that drives me batty is how people will argue that having non-white characters in fantasy novels is PC revisionist bullshit because “the real middle ages weren’t like that.” Leave aside, for a second, that fantasy novels don’t even have to be set in faux-medieval Europe. Leave aside that non-European societies still existed even during the European middle ages.

        Europe has always had people of color, and it is really not hard to do just a bit of digging to find some examples.

        1. BPT*

          The same people who reject POC characters in fantasy novels are totally cool with dragons being present.

          1. Emma*

            Yup. Or, y’know, magic.

            They tend to also be the same people who insist that a realistic fantasy novel must include rape, because apparently that happened to every woman ever up until the modern day, and yet dragons, elves, magic, or whatever are fine. Macho white guy fantasy or nothing, I guess.

        2. eV*

          Exactly. Here is Ursula K. Le Guin’s response to the SciFi (as it was then) Channel’s travesty of her EARTHSEA world: http://www.ursulakleguin.com/Index-EarthseaMiniseries.html

          This is a place where “colorblind” casting was used in its opposite sense — Oh, gosh, we’re so colorblind that we didn’t even *notice* that we cast white actors in most of the parts, for characters who were not in fact white in the original books.

          I paraphrase, but that’s the general idea.

          And a lot of people of color had never read a fantasy novel in which any of the characters were PoC, before A Wizard of Earthsea came out. A couple of the essays linked on the URL above are by people for whom the series was very, very important to them for that reason (aside from the general awesomeness of the series).

      2. Mags*

        No, Dumas was mixed race. His mother was white and his father was 1/2 black 1/2 white. I know people don’t mean it, and often don’t think about the implication, but the just-a-drop rule is incredibly racist.

        1. eV*

          My apologies for awkward phrasing. Calling out racist American definitions was entirely not my intention.

          If Dumas were a character in a movie and, say, Gerard Depardieu played him (or his father, who was a French war hero), I would find that very objectionable.

    8. DragoCucina*

      I’m 99.9% in favor of color blind casting. I want the best talent in the role. There may be a rare instance where it matters (I’m not seeing Kevin Spacey as Frederick Douglas), but it’s about the characters and story. Who can convey that to the audience.

        1. DragoCucina*

          I don’t think so, but there seriously needs to be. Badass is an excellent description. I hope for a sliver of his courage.

    9. SophieChotek*

      I am in favor of it [cast line-up for new Wrinkle in Time film is awesome, BTW) —

      A friend of mine who is a director — we had dinner and talked about this issue — I got cast (in college) in a Chekhov play (along with one other person of color) — and so we talked about how if we’d done it in historical period I ought never have been cast — (so see my original bias above would have been against myself) — and she was talking about how she had auditions for Fiddler on the Roof coming up and was wondering who would audition…

      I’ve seen it done best with Shakespeare (of course)…and I did recently see a great high-school production of Les Miz where Fantine was a non-white…

  7. Natalie*

    My husband quit his job a week ago or so for mental health reasons, and has been super productive at home during his staycation. So many things have been fixed and cleaned! And he’s doing all the laundry and grocery shopping and dog care. New life goal: have enough money to have a SAH or part-time-employed spouse.

    1. hermit crab*

      Me too! My husband has been un(der)employed and sort of casually job-searching for a couple months and frankly, I love it. If we didn’t have to save for retirement (and if he didn’t want a job for the whole sense-of-purpose-in-his-life thing), I’d personally be cool with him staying at home full time. I HAVEN’T GONE TO THE GROCERY STORE IN MONTHS OMG IT’S AMAZING.

    2. Fiona the Lurker*

      Mine took early retirement and for the first year or so he was very busy and productive and happy; then boredom set in and he started to get depressed. Luckily he’s recently managed to pick up some casual work which he really enjoys, and he can take a break from that whenever he wants. There could be a tipping-point when being at home just isn’t enough for yours, and if that happens I hope he ends up with something to do which not only keeps him happy but also contributes to the family budget!


      I need one of these househusbands. Frankly, dont you eventually resent that you’re working and he is not and is not contributing financially to the household?

      My experience stems from both times my then-partners were not working 1st) by choice and 2nd) by getting fired. In the first case, he moved here and then announced he wasnt going to work and in the second case, he did nothing around the house – I was still cooking and cleaning.

      1. Natalie*

        Well, he’ll only be out of work for a short period – we really can’t afford to only have my income long term. But if we could afford it, I wouldn’t resent it as long as he was carrying the bulk of the home/kids load. That’s not really about who’s working outside of the house, though, since I won’t take on all the house work when he is working. Sharing that equitably is a deal breaker for me

      2. just another librarian*

        My husband has been staying at home for over 5 years. The first year we didn’t have children and now we have 2.

        I have never resented him not bringing in a steady paycheck. He will sometimes pick up a short-term gig to try something out, but never for more than a few months. We do not need the money. I think resenting your partner (when the extra income isn’t needed) says as much about you as it does about him/her.

        1. NACSAJACK*

          And thats the issue – in both cases I was carrying the full load financially for each of them with no help. Both of them had savings and when I said, hey how are we going to split the financial load, both refused to touch their financial nest egg. And both didn’t do anything until I said, look we’re going down the tubes here.

          In both cases I was expected to maintain a certain lifestyle. Both were hourly workers. Their mentality was if you need more money, work more hours. They didnt understand that because I was working 50 hours a week, I wasn’t making more than if I worked 35 hours a week.

          In the first case, we didnt have dogs and he did keep a nice house, but he wanted a life of leisure, yet he was very healthy.

          In the second case, we did have dogs, I still came home to a dirty house and I was paying for his health insurance on top of all the bills.

  8. Mimmy*

    Need advice quick –

    I tripped earlier today resulting in a couple of scrapes on my nose (between the eyes). I’m about to get ready for a wedding and am wondering if it’s okay to wear foundation (powder) on relatively fresh scrapes? If it helps, I already put a little bacitracin on it and my glasses cover one of the scrapes.

    Side note: My knees also took some of the fall and they are sore too, particularly my right knee, which I fell on TWICE already just this past summer :'(

    1. Jean*

      Ouch! I hope you heal up soon. NO expertise here, just common sense (or what passes for it in my case ;P ). Try a little bit of powder but if it itches, remove it. You might want to wipe off the powder compact and use a brand-new cotton ball or a freshly washed make-up brush to minimize the bacteria that might otherwise get into the scrape.

      If you have your regular makeup on as usual except for this one spot I don’t think you’ll be as conspicuous as you may feel. The focus will be on at the bridal couple. Guests don’t usually remember details about the appearance of other guests.

      1. Mimmy*

        Thanks! I ended up just doing my make-up normally – I recently bought facial powder and hadn’t even opened it yet, so I figured it’d be safe. I just applied it gently, and it was fine.

  9. New Bee*

    I had a baby yesterday! I spent nearly 20 hours in labor, but she was worth it. My husband and I are ecstatic (and tired!).

    1. New Bee*

      Thanks all! Baby Bee (love that name) is home, and I alternate between feeling exhausted and not wanting to stop looking at her. :-)

  10. Sara*

    Does anyone here read the blog ‘a bad case of the dates’? (I’m pretty sure it was someone here who linked to it a while ago). Most of the stories are amusing enough (although there’s no way to be sure if they’re authentic), but a lot of the comments are decidedly sexists. Terms like ‘dinner whore’ or ‘shego’ gets thrown around all the time whenever a woman stays on a date despite huge red flags. None of the commenters seem to have a problem with it though.

    1. fposte*

      I do look at it sometimes, and I know what you mean about the comment section. I do think that it’s more that there’s a very small group of commenters who’ve established a friendly long-term culture that’s somewhat 4chanesque rather than it being awash in people seriously devoted to ideology about male-female relations, but it’s still not to my taste.

    2. Alex*

      I have read some of the PUA stuff honestly. I have heard the term “dinner whore” but not “shego”. What on earth is a “shego”?

  11. Mimmy*

    Alison – Did my post go into moderation? I thought it went through but I don’t see it. It didn’t have any links. My question is time-sensitive :)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      There were a bunch in moderation when I checked around 3:45 p.m. ET, but they’re all out now.

      It’s better to email me this kind of thing than to post it in a comment; if I’m not seeing an email stuck in moderation, I’m probably not seeing comments right then either. (And sometimes I’m just off doing something else altogether!)

    1. Wo Fat*

      I never thought I needed a fluffy kitten in my life but one day I managed to get three of them from an old friend. “Barbara the cat lady” was looking for someone to foster these kittens and somehow I got the call. I knew it would be temporary, and it was, I had them for seven weeks. They were the nicest kittens and I ended up adopting out two of them to friends though it wasn’t my obligation to find homes for them. The third one was adopted out within two weeks over at a Petco (or maybe it was a Petsmart). Barbara got these kittens from a shelter where she volunteered.

      Since then, I fostered 11 more kittens and each of them went on to get adopted into a nice home. What is great about fostering is that the situation is temporary so you can have a nice fluffy kitty for 6-8 weeks or so then you can have off time which is good for travel or just having time off caring for an animal(s). Then get new kittens if and when you’re ready for them.

      There is a big caveat if you do take up fostering kittens. You have to be able to let go once they are big enough to get fixed and adopted out. Otherwise, you may be the one adopting the kitten(s) if you just can’t let go. Think of it like the scenario of a school teacher. She has a group of kids for a year and usually forms some kind of bond with them. But when the school year is up, she enjoys her time off then she is ready to take on a new set of kids next year. I don’t presume to understand how a teacher typically feels about letting go of a group of kids then accepting a new group but this was the best analogy I could think of. My point here is that one part of being a kitten foster is being able to let go of them when the time comes. You never know if the kittens will be even happier in their new home. Foster them well and they will make good cats for someone.

      Fostering is an option to consider but be aware; they can steal your heart away.

  12. Alice*

    I’m interested in tips for finding a good realtor – for renting a new place (short term) and for buying a condo (in 2017).

    I am not satisfied with the realtor I used to find my current apartment because I was blind-sided by maintenance issues that stem from a bad landlord not investing in the property… But I don’t really know how to identify a good one.


    1. Natalie*

      Do any of your friends or relatives have recommendations? That’s how we found ours and we were very happy with her.

      1. Alice*

        The one who didn’t know (or maybe didn’t mention) the bad reputation of my current building was a recommendation from a colleague.
        A friend recommended her great uncle who is techphobic but apparently very experienced. I trust that she’s right (because if she were just trying to get clients for him she wouldn’t have told some hilarious stories about him fighting with his cell phone).

        Have you ever asked realtors for references (previous clients)? Or is that weird?

        1. Natalie*

          I didn’t, but I don’t think it’s weird. I would approach it as more of an open conversation about what the realtor’s working style was though, rather than just asking if they were good or bad. Anyone they give as a reference probably liked working with them, so that won’t really tell you anything. But if you ask about how the realtor works you can probably get some information that will allow you to decide if you can work well with them.

    2. Anono-me*

      Recommendations from friends are what helped me find both of the Realtors that I used; but that was just a starting point. I also met a few likely Realtors at open houses in the neighborhood I was looking to move to.

      1. I suggest asking not only who your friends recommend but why and when they worked with the Realtor. (If the Realtor is a relative or did a great job on X but you need help with Y or it was 10 years ago, maybe not the most helpful recommendation.)

      2. Make sure the Realtor knows your area/ neighborhood and type of home.

      3. Interview several Realtors. They should have a good general plan for you and address how they will help you avoid your previous issues.

      *Also consider a professional home inspection when you buy.

  13. Simms*

    I want to just thank Gold Digger for her blog posts about Primo’s headaches with ebing his father’s executor. Being able to accurately describe the problems let me convince my mother not to make me her will’s executor when her house is in Missouri (and Wyoming) when I live in British Columbia.

    Thank you so much.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      From reading her blog I also discovered that you can decline to be someone’s executor. Or, rather, you can decline to actually execute the will. I’m worried about this because my aunt wants to make me the trustee for her money when she dies (and she has a lot) because her daughter and son-in-law don’t manage money very well. I keep telling her that’s because she keeps buying them things and letting them live in her house, but she wants to make ME responsible for fixing HER issues. No thank you!

      1. the gold digger*

        You can also decline to be a trustee! (Which I am sure you already knew.) Now that the election is over, Primo is going to wash his hands of all this trustee crap. (Which he also should have done with the executor crap.)

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Yes, thank you! But although my aunt and I have a difficult relationship, I’m still pretty close with her, her daughter (my cousin), and my cousin’s husband and their young daughter. They were around when my father was ill and when I had to deal with his death, so if it comes to that I think I’ll see how she’s structured the trust and what the conditions are, and how my cousin and her family are doing then, and where my life is at that point, and then see if I want to take it on. But I’m feeling better about it just remembering that it’s totally optional, given how they’re handling money issues now.

    2. Cristina in England*

      Yes! I too am grateful for GD’s PSAs about getting your stuff together and not leaving it for your kids to deal with.

    3. bassclefchick*

      I like Gold Digger’s blog too! VERY informative. I went back and started reading it from the beginning. However, I’m at the point where Primo ran for office and I just couldn’t take anymore election stuff. Even though Primo’s election was in 2012. LOL

      If Gold Digger sees this – I can’t WAIT to “meet” Bernice!

      1. the gold digger*

        I want to be be Bernice!

        Spoilers: The campaign in 2012 was not Primo’s last. Honestly. He tricked me! He was an engineer, not a politician when we met and when we married.

    4. the gold digger*

      Aww, you guys. I’m blushing. Thank you! I am so happy to know that our drama might prevent drama for others!

      And good on you, all you people who have written your wills and named guardians and gotten rid of junk!

      1. Connie-Lynne*

        OMG My mom apologized to me for “being so dark” during our every-few-years talks about what to do when they die and I was all “no, it’s so much better than having to guess! Thanks for writing it all down and also please clean the garage!”

        That’s all on you, GD. Thanks!

    5. Aurora Leigh*

      I’d like to thank Gold Digger for telling me to get some health insurance a few months back! Although I didn’t find any affordable options, I did finally get a job where it’s offered and it kicks in this month. I love how wise and practical she always is!

      1. Bibliovore*

        Me , too. Gold Digger’s blog was just the push we needed to get our stuff in order and get the will and trust. We made sure that a there was a reasonable amount of money for executor and also that no one was left out.

        1. the gold digger*

          You guys, it makes me so, so happy to know that I have done some good in the world and maybe prevented others from having to go through the drama that Primo has had to go through! You are all very kind share your comments with me.

  14. Catnip Melba Toast*

    House hunting….Does anyone know how accurate those monthly crime reports are on Trulia? I am wondering how to get more information about tbe types of crimes that are included in the number. If the majority are people getting a speeding ticket at the nearest busy intersection, I don’t care. But if there’s quite a few home invasions or assaults happening in that area, that is a different story.

    1. Wwr*

      Well, speeding tickets aren’t a criminal offense. But really the best thing you can do is seek out a resource where you can ask actual residents what it’s like to live there; I usually just Google it but Reddit might be a place to start

    2. hermit crab*

      You might be able to get details from the local police department’s website. I did a little online research before I moved to my current city and was able to find good information from the public crime reports/incident tracking — in my case, just based on the stats, a certain neighborhood looked like a high(ish) crime neighborhood compared to the rest of the county, but in reality the crimes were mostly thefts of GPS units etc. from cars in a nearby mall’s parking garage.

    3. Sibley*

      talk to the mailman (person? whatever). they tend to know a lot about the area if they’re willing to chat.

    4. Jessesgirl72*

      They get the reports from the police department directly- or the local publication that the PD puts out. You could double check that way, since most locations have them available.

      I’ve also used crimereports.com

    5. Anonymousaur*

      http://www.city-data.com/forum and find the page for your future city/region. Then you. Can post a thread asking about the neighborhood(s) you’re considering and residents can give you feedback, suggestions, etc.

      I stumbled on it when moving cross-country and found it super useful

      1. There's a Spoon in the Pie*

        I would take city-data with a big grain of salt. Many comments tend towards negativity and too many times are classist and racist, sometimes subtle, sometimes overt. I know the forums for my city just aren’t accurate with respect to neighborhoods with a larger non-white population. YMMV in your city.

        1. VintageLydia*

          I’ve noticed the same for my city. We have a very large immigrant population and there is one bad neighborhood that’s very small and another that’s lower middle and working class that has some issues but not terrible and you’d think the entire place is burning down with drive-bys and gang violence based on city-data. We’re close to some of the yuppiest communities in the country, though, so I guess in comparison to multi-million dollar homes of the next county over, yeah, we’re bad. But on a more normal-people scale? You’re good, but a bit of knowledge of Spanish might help you get some of the best food in the city ;)

          (I regret my decision to take French in high school.)

    6. Cookie*

      When I used Trulia in the past, there’s a way you can click for more details. I’d see things like dv, car break-ins, drunk & disorderly, etc. along with the date of each incident.

    7. One Handed Typist*

      Nextdoor is a great app/website for this information as well. It’s an online neighborhood watch.

  15. Cristina in England*

    Has anyone tried online therapy? I tried Betterhelp during a free trial and I was underwhelmed. It wasn’t live chat so I would spent a lot of time writing a long thing about my problem and The. I would wait 24-48 hours for one line replies like “when did you first notice this being a problem?”

    I am not struggling with anything acute, I just want to process some family of origin stuff so I can be a better parent and spouse. Are there better services out there or should I just wait until my kids are in childcare next year so I can do this in person?

      1. Snazzy Hat*

        I had a psychologist for about four years who then moved out of state but was so concerned about my health she didn’t want to just stick me with anyone, plus she had seen my negative meetings with psychiatric nurse practitioners. We did bi-weekly Skype sessions for over two years and even had a transition period after I found a new counselor locally, with sessions more spaced apart.

    1. Confused Publisher*

      Yes. I tried IESO Health – I’m in the UK – which linked me to a regional service based on my location. I had hourlong, online, weekly sessions for 5 months, and was primarily processing feelings about family so that issues relating to my family of origin didn’t overwhelm me or my marriage. I made a lot of progress and have been told I can go back to working with the therapist I had if I need to in the new year.

      1. Cristina in England*

        Thank you! I didn’t know that sort of thing was available on the NHS at all. I will look into Ieso.

    2. Cat steals keyboard*

      It might be worth looking at Big White Wall. I haven’t tried it but I know it offers online therapy and is NHS recommended. It’s free in some areas and you might be able to get it on prescription.

      Otherwise I’d suggest having a look for therapists who offer an online or Skype service and also work in person, as they may be better than some of the online only services – you could try the BACP directory and also Anxiety UK has a list of low cost therapists who will work via Skype.

    3. Shayland*

      I would recommend a game called Player2. I think it might be more helpful than what you describe, although it certainly has it’s faults and may not work well for your situation. Still, I recommend looking into it.

  16. WorkerBee*

    I’m curious what the AAM community would do if you were to win the lottery tomorrow. Let’s say it works out to be 30 million after taxes.

    1. Mirilla*

      Quit my job in a blaze of glory (it’s quite toxic).
      Tear down my house or sell as is to a contractor.
      Buy a new house.
      Find something personally meaningful to occupy my time, like a charity. Also donate to this charity.

    2. Nerfmobile*

      Fully fund college funds for my daughter and two nephews. Move to a much more convenient house and renovate our current house. Set aside enough for a comfortable rest of life. Endow something at my high school and my university.

      Then figure out what cause or two I really wanted to dedicate myself to in order to make the world a better place. Spend money and energy there.

    3. Natalie*

      Boring stuff: Buy a slightly larger house with the features that are on our “bonus” list. Pay off our car and student loan debt and get our retirement squared away so I never have to think about it again.

      Fun stuff: travel, travel, travel. All the places we’ve ever wanted to go.

    4. bassclefchick*

      I love this game! My friends and I have been doing this exercise for years. LOL

      Pay off all of my debts.
      Pay off the mortgages of my parents, my sister, and my best friend.
      Pay for college for my youngest niece (older one is already done with college.)
      SCOTLAND!!! And the UK, really. I want to travel pretty much everywhere, but Scotland is top of the list.
      Maybe buy a house.
      After that, I’d set up something that would provide for my retirement and allow me to be a temp. Plus have the kind of health insurance that I want. I didn’t mind being a temp, I just couldn’t handle the instability. If I had lottery winnings, I wouldn’t have to worry about that part.

    5. SeekingBetter*

      At this moment, if I won that $30million, I would really stop worrying about looking for full-time employment; buy new clothes; donate a lot of the money to charities, people, and causes I care about; and become a more active volunteer as well as work a nice, non-stressful part-time job :)

    6. hermit crab*

      Buy a move-in-ready house with a yard (where I live, that’s about $1 million). Adopt a couple of dogs to enjoy the yard with us. Hire a cleaning service to vacuum up the dogs’ hair so my husband and I don’t have to do it. Also, buy the house next door to our new house, so our friends/family/whoever can stay there if they need or want to. Pay off my BFF’s college loans. Donate a lot to charity. Decrease my hours and spend the time volunteering instead. Save some for our old age.

      (My dad always liked to play this game and as a kid I was always kind of pissed off about it, like, it’s not gonna happen so why get your hopes up? But these days, especially, I can really see the appeal.)

      1. Ayla K*

        Seconding “pay off my BFF’s college loans”! I’ve always said that that’s one of the first things I’d do. What good is all the time and money I could want if she still has to work?? I want her there with me, enjoying all those dogs.

      2. hermit crab*

        Update: I asked my husband, and he said “Save $10 million and use the rest to give out IUDs until I run out of money.” He’s a keeper. :)

        Ayla K – yes! I’m also very lucky that people in my immediate family had scholarships/family help/military help and wouldn’t need me to pay off their loans. But also, my BFF has mad gardening skills so I definitely want them with me, enjoying my yard!

    7. Emma*

      1. Double-check that my taxes on it are taken care of.
      2. Half to savings.
      3. Pay off my student loans. They’re not as high as they could be, but I don’t like them hanging over my head.
      4. Buy a house I could afford to make payments on with my current income.
      5. Go on a vacation.

      Somewhere in there, I’d probably raid my local art store.

    8. Sparkly Librarian*

      I love this question – but I usually play it with smaller numbers. I’d keep my job, I think — possibly switch to a volunteer position with fewer hours? or take a few years off to concentrate on childraising — and very likely my house, but there are key renovations that we could pay for out of pocket and also board ourselves and the cats somewhere during the process. Pay off my wife’s student loans, and probably our siblings’ as well. Buy a house outright for my mother-in-law. Somewhere near us would be nice. Sock away enough for a comfortable retirement ($5 million, when invested, will cover the house in the area my wife and I want to move to, all our medical stuff including long-term care, and living expenses for 40 years). Build college (etc.) funds for our future kids and future nieces and nephews.

      Once the personal comforts and our future were taken care of, I think we’d probably fund several scholarships and maybe my wife would start a community organization. We’d have to hire appropriate legal and finance professionals to handle all the money and keep it discreet. I would hate to be the target of financial scammers.

    9. Anonymous of course*

      First it would be split 4 ways before I even saw it. My kids (all adults) would each get 1/4 and spouse and I would get 1/4. Money to alma mater (we went to the same college), kids’ high school, church, gifts to a few people I know who could really use a few extra dollars. Either update/renovate my house or build it anew to insure we can stay in it as long as possible. And if I can find a car I like I’ll get a new one. And have my husband’s refurbished.

    10. Christy*

      Invest it. Let’s assume a 2% return every year, which is absurdly low. That’s $600,000/year.

      First, I’d tell my wife to quit her job that she hates.

      I’d put a down payment on a house in my neighborhood.

      I’d get more laser hair removal.

      I’d adopt at least one more cat and a dog.

      I’d get a personal trainer and join a yoga studio. (I’d keep my regular gym membership.)

      I’d keep my job.

      1. Grumpy*

        Omg yes. I’d get a personal trainer and train to run a ridiculously fast marathon… And pay people to make signs along the course cheering me on by name! And i’d pay full price for the running outfit, not scrounge the sale rack.
        Sigh, dare to dream.

    11. MsChandandlerBong*

      Buy our current house from our landlord. Make some improvements (landscape the yard, put a bathtub in my bathroom, put a hot tub outside so I can stop taking muscle relaxers for my tight back and neck muscles, paint, put in new flooring). Give my parents $1 million. Give my brother $1 million. Pay off my MIL’s mortgage and give her $900,000 (my parents don’t have a mortgage, so they’d be getting the same amount, except theirs would be all cash and my MIL’s would be part mortgage payoff and the rest in cash). Take $5 million and start a foundation to support the arts, homeless outreach, literacy programs, animal welfare, and wildlife conservation. Invest the rest in fairly conservative funds. Spend the rest of my life running the foundation.

      1. MsChandandlerBong*

        Forgot to mention pay off my best friend’s mortgage, pay off my cousin’s mortgage, pay for my best friend’s two kids to go to college, and give $25,000 to each of my husband’s aunts and cousins (five aunts and seven cousins).

    12. KatieKate*

      Oh boy.

      Invest half and then start a foundation with the rest. I am very cheap and I would love to be able to give money away forever. Oh, and hire my mom because she is an out of work foundation manager.

    13. K.*

      I love this game!

      First, like before I even claimed the money, I’d call a lawyer, my accountant, and financial adviser. I’d want to accept the money in a trust so my name wouldn’t be splashed all over the place. Half gets invested so that it grows and I can be sure that I’ll never have to punch a clock again. My immediate family of origin and I would be debt-free. I would set aside money for in-home care for each of my parents just in case they were to need it, and buy us all the best health insurance available. I’d build a house, spend at least a year traveling around the world, and start and run some sort of foundation, probably dedicated to providing educational opportunities to people of color.

    14. Rosie the Rioter*

      1. Find and hire a good lawyer
      2. Pay my student loans off. Pay back my parents. Settle any other outstanding debts
      3. Buy a new car (mine is almost 10)
      4. Leave my part-time job but still look for something full-time (because I am a worker–I can’t not be productive)
      5. Find my own place. I like where I live now, but I don’t really see the point of staying with my current roommate (and he would probably be just as confused if I did)

      Not really sure what else! I imagine that I would travel periodically and I certainly have causes that I would like to donate to.

    15. Jane D'oh!*

      Pay off the house, fix it up, and sell it. We’re getting too old to care for our steep yard.
      Use the leverage of independent wealth to convince my job to let me telecommute.
      Move to the other side of the country for weather and to escape toxic family.
      Build a studio for DH to pursue his dreams.
      Become an angel investor and animal welfare advocate.

    16. BPT*

      Pay off all my debts, and the debts of my family (parents, brothers, aunts/uncles/cousins), and maybe some close friends.
      Buy property for my immediate family (houses or condos wherever they want) and myself.
      Send my parents on a bunch of Viking Cruises through Europe (their vacation goal they’ve had for years).
      Send my youngest brother to the Sommelier course at the ICC in New York.
      Send my other brother to get his master’s in whatever program he currently wants (can’t remember what it is now).
      Hike Kilimanjaro.
      Put funds away for any possible future weddings for me and my brothers (possibly wishful thinking) and college funds for any future children/nieces/nephews.
      Get my dream wardrobe.
      Split up the rest between my parents/brothers/myself, possibly in trust funds for the future for my brothers.
      Give to charity.
      Oh, and buy my dream wardrobe.

        1. Sparkly Librarian*

          Oooooh, yes. I mostly don’t care about clothes because I want to be comfortable and don’t have a lot of money or a standard shape. But if I won the lottery, I would get rid of every bit of clothing I own, have some style discussions with professionals, have models made with my measurements, and buy a whole new bespoke wardrobe.

    17. Temperance*

      I would fix up my house, set up a trust fund for my sister’s kids, and then burn $10,000 right in front of my in-law’s stupid faces, because they really piss me off and they want us to financially help them out. lol

    18. Rin*

      1. Quit my job and get a fun part time job (maybe)
      2. Buy a big enough house for my family
      3. Pay off family mortgages and just give a bunch to siblings cousins etc
      4. Open a shelter, preferably for kids or lgbt folk. I’d love to do that now actually

    19. Audiophile*

      I’d pay off my mom’s house. Pay off my debt. And maybe buy a house.

      At some point, I’d quit my job.

    20. Cristina in England*

      1. Buy my favourite local house in the area, which I love because it has an outbuilding the same size as the main house. Do it up before we set foot in it. The outbuilding will be for my husband. Also buy the house next door so my parents can move here if they want to. And buy them a super nice condo in the US if they don’t want to move. Hire accountants and lawyers to deal with all this.
      2. Set aside money for university educations for my children, set up trusts, etc etc
      3. Donate a large amount to women-focused and child-focused charities
      4. Get a driverless car as soon as they are available here
      5. Get a part time nanny? I need to go to the dentist soon and I have no idea what to do with my youngest child during my appointment, so I am putting off going. It would be nice to have an extra pair of hands during the day as well. Maybe fly to the US to see my dentist there instead?
      6. Go on holiday in a private jet, surely by now there is an Uber for jets?

    21. Aardvark*

      Put everything in some kind of low-maintenance, reasonable return investment like an index fund. Avoid touching the principal and live off less than half the income, re-invest the rest. I would share some with my parents so they could retire earlier than planned and set up college funds for some of the kids in my life. (Maybe there’s a way to make a portion of it a family trust? I don’t know how that works, but I’d spend some of the $$ on a financial advisor!) Set aside a portion for good causes (Planned Parenthood, ACLU, etc.) and maybe endow a scholarship at my alma mater? I’d also buy a house in one of my dream neighborhoods, though I might put that off a few years so I didn’t touch the principal.
      I would spend some of the interest income to travel more as well. I also have kind of expensive clothing taste, so I’d shop sales less often. I’d go out to dinner somewhere nice at least once a week and leave 40% tips everywhere. Be magnanimous with my close friends and family wherever possible.
      I wouldn’t necessarily quit my job right away, because I’m still pretty young and the longer you can let more of the money reinvest, the better your payout will be/the more good you can do with the money later. Also, if it all disappeared, I’d like to have kept my skills current. However, after a year or two I might go back to school and get an advanced degree in something interesting, or see if I could become a contractor with reduced hours at my current workplace in favor of volunteer work and creative things.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Avoid touching the principle. This is interesting. The income on the 30 M (minus taxes) would be pretty healthy. I mean you couldn’t do stupid spending, like tigers on a gold leash, but you could still live quite comfortably.

        I think the bigger part of this question is once we have money how would we fill in our time. I like the idea for using the income stream because this assumes that life goes on and we need to actually DO something.

        Paying off our debt and other people’s debt is a one shot thing, it’s a moment that is all it is. The first thing I thought of was friends who have debt in 10s of thousands of dollars. I would do that Santa thing and pay it it off. BUT what if they turn around and just run up more excessive debt? Peach. I know I would not keep paying it off. And I also know that I would not get any satisfaction/internal peace from having paid off the initial debt load.
        I would have to think about how to use the money to actually make a meaningful, LASTING difference somewhere.

    22. Dynamic Beige*

      There’s a farm near me that just went up for sale, for the first time ever that I can recall. I think it’s been held by the same family for a few generations. They’ve split it into 3 pieces because the land around here is too valuable to farm, odds are some developer is going to buy it and put up a few dozen McMansions (the parcels total out to over 50 acres). If I had $30 million, I would buy all that land and become a hobby farmer. Because I could comfortably live out the rest of my life (farm or not) with that money.

      I’d also buy a condo or something in a sun destination like Belize, Cuba or Turks and Caicos. Would need to do research on that for what would be the best place in terms of taxes and medical care.

      Of course, I’d do all the important stuff — pay off the mortgage, pay my debts, etc. But buying that land and keeping it farmland, that it what I would do. Unfortunately, land doesn’t come readily available up here all that often and there were a lot of cars on the smallest piece with the dwellings today (which are tear downs). It’s not going to be on the market for very long. *sigh*

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          Sadly, that just about sums it up. But I would have the most awesome fully organic fruits and vegetables for kilometers around. Greenhouse? Why not?

    23. Tempanon*

      Give Boyfriend half and kick him out of my house.
      Pay debts. Invest.
      Continue with current life plan to become an accountant, because I’ll get bored if I don’t use my brain. :-)

    24. Mela*

      1. Pay of student loans (me, husband, siblings)
      2. Create college trust for two nephews
      3. Buy huge 4 bedroom apartment in the Upper West Side and outfit it with a kick-ass library and studio/office for the husband.
      4. Buy a vacation house in home country. Buy my favorite childhood home. Buy houses for our parents. Basically buy a lot of property.
      5. Have husband try to negotiate part-time hours/pay at his current job.
      6. Something charitable. Either create a foundation or make big contributions to existing orgs.
      7. Pay for annual family vacations so we can see our family (we don’t live near them).
      8. Invest the rest.

    25. DragoCucina*

      I’ve semi-joked that I want to be an obnoxious, rich person. I would of course pay off my bills. I would make strategic gifts to various libraries (no shock there). My big wish would be to build an apartment complex of studio and one bedroom apartments geared toward adults in their 20s-30s. In our area there is a dearth of entry level housing. There doesn’t need to be a fancy gym, car wash, etc., just the essentials.

    26. nep*

      Put aside college money for nieces and nephews.
      Give start-up money to several friends around the world.
      Buy a house / invest in property.
      Buy a full set-up for Olympic weightlifting.
      Donate a bunch to independent journalism and organisations working for the environment.
      Put a good bit aside in savings and investment.
      Rewrite my living will accordingly.

      1. Bibliovore*

        I would keep my job and endow my position.
        I would endow a department assistant for our group and they can do the parts of my job that I hate like filing my expenses and budget paperwork.
        I would fund a fellowship in my department.
        I would fully fund our 826 and fund a school librarian foundation/scholarships
        College/ trade school funds for the grand nieces and nephews
        I’d spend a whole week at Canyon Ranch in Arizona.
        I would buy a Japanese Cedar Soaking Tub
        I’d give the rest to my husband.

    27. Aurora Leigh*

      1. Buy a house with at least ten acres so I can have all my pets together again and never hear my neighbors flush their toilet again!

      2. Pay people to fix the house up properly for me or build a new one if necessary. There will be a Beauty and the Beast style library!

      3. Set aside trusts for my siblings so that they can go to college of they want and never have to truly worry about money. Make sure my parents retirement can be whatever they want. Tell Grandma she never has to worry about not being able to pay her rent again.

      3. Set up some kind of fund for a couple of small libraries in my area so they can be open at least 40 hours a week and employ full time staff. Set up a foundation to do this for as many libraries as possible.

      4. Have a donkey sanctuary on my land. Devote my time to this and the small library foundation, also rescue cats and write novels.

      5. Give to various other charities and churches, but live in such a way that to look at me you wouldn’t know I was rich.

    28. Anon and alone*

      First of all, give 1/2 to my brother and his family. I have a list of charities I would give to, move, buy a condo in a high-rise (not a house, too much work for me alone), adopt a cat or two, relearn how to enjoy life.

    29. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Quit my job.
      Buy a house not much larger than I have now, but laid out better and in good repair with lots of built-ins; maybe have it designed by my former boss’ architecture firm.
      Buy a cabin in the wooded mountains as a vacation home.
      Be a shopping fool for awhile; buy all the things.
      Pay off all my debts.
      Pay my kids’ college and give them money for a car or travel or a house or whatever they decide to do with their early adult years.
      Give all nieces and nephews college or starting-out-in-life money.
      Have a nice retirement and leave a nice inheritance to kids.
      Donate to various charities.

    30. matcha123*

      I’d give my mom and sister 10 mil each and hope they would be set for life. If not life, for a long time. I’d probably put 9 mil into a savings account and use the remainder to travel and go back to school.

    31. Seal*

      First, I’d set up a trust so no one knew I had that much money. Then I’d pay off all my debts, buy a house in my home state under an LLC so no one could find me, and invest the rest. Once all that was set up, I’d walk away from my job and never look back. Certainly pay off my mother’s house and make sure she was taken care of. Probably pay off my brother’s house as well. After that, I’d take some time to get settled and decide where my money and I could do the most good.

    32. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      Invest all but $4M across my existing investment portfolio and expand it to the areas that are on hold. Buy a large piece of land, build up the infrastructure for a community, meant for rescuing and caring for animals.
      Set up adult-life-skills halfway houses for foster kids aging out of the system. Possibly housed on the land, caring for the animal rescues as their income earning jobs so they have practical experiences in earning income and then learning how to manage it.
      Set up animal&foster kid& LGBTA at-risk kids&teens pairings with lonely elders in hospice and retirement homes.
      Sponsor small scholarships for life needs for college students who don’t have family support.
      Quit job, research what might help make the world a better place, do that.
      Teach JuggerBaby the ways of money and how to strive to be a good person.
      Go on a monthlong trip to Japan and eat a lot.

    33. Dot Warner*

      Quit my job and travel.
      Buy a Tesla.
      Fund my niece and nephew’s college accounts
      Donate large sums to charities that protect civil rights and serve the poor.

    34. Jen RO*

      I’d probably keep my job, or start doing the same thing as a freelancer.
      Buy a couple of vacation homes in other countries.
      Hire a financial advisor to help me invest the rest.

    35. plip*

      Invest around 20% of it and live reasonably well on the interest. Pay off any loans my family/close friends have. Build my dream home. Hire a housekeeper and pay them well. Set up several scholarship programmes. Start a charity for a cause close to my heart. Travel. Do voluntary work. Help those who’ve been kind to me along the way. And buy an awesome Audi sports car :)

    36. Ellie H.*

      Move into a nicely kept up one-bedroom apartment in my same general neighborhood (I miss living alone, don’t want to buy now)
      Get a really good haircut
      Buy some new clothes, more Eileen Fisher and Garnet Hill and fancy underwear
      Take some continuing education classes in math/statistics/economics (I left my humanities PhD program after 2 years and want to become an economist instead)
      Buy a well-working bike and bike to work every day
      Pay for a bunch of scholarships at the art school I work at
      Start a research and lobbying initiative for higher education reform (accessibility and focusing on disadvantaged student success rather than their just getting admitted and being left to flounder)
      Hire a personal trainer
      Buy a new bed and new desk, I think
      Travel a lot whenever I feel like it
      Invest the rest, continue to work and live as if I don’t have money, save for kids/house/college
      Pay off student loans

      This was really fun. I think most of the things I want to do are doable more or less right now and aren’t contingent on being rich. It’s funny how we can feel barriers about them though.

    37. Hrovitnir*

      Oh man. I have thought about this, and I never buy lottery tickets. I wouldn’t change much about what I’m currently working towards but my partner could quit (and he’d be so gone), pay off mortgage and student loan, fix up/knock down and rebuild house, talk to accountant/expert and put the rest in investment funds/savings for a year then contemplate giving – to family and charity.

      Tell NO ONE. You’ll have to say something, but don’t tell people you won millions of dollars, and especially not family IMO.

    38. Red*

      Pay off my student loans and those of my best friend.
      Pay off the mortgages of my family members.
      Buy a damn car, and probably a nice one.
      Buy a house.
      Quit my job, go back to school, and get that bachelor’s degree.
      My boyfriend has always wanted to own a campground, so I would buy him one.
      Then I’d just leave the leftover money well enough alone and have the best Oh Shit Fund ever. Really, I’m so used to being broke I don’t think I would know what to do with that much!

    39. Red Reader*

      I. Wouldn’t. Tell. Anyone.

      I’d pay off my debts and keep everything as on-the-downlow as possible. I don’t *think* my friends would go bonkers if I was suddenly beyond-our-wildest-dreams-rich, but I don’t feel like any of my friendships (or family relationships, many of whom WOULD go bonkers if I was BOWD-rich) really need to be put under that kind of strain. The only people who have any need to know the state of my finances are the ones who live in my house, and I might possibly tell my parents, because they would not go bonkers.

      The idea of paying off people’s mortgages and student loans is fun in theory, but I feel like that would be seriously unbalancing — I wouldn’t be super comfortable with being on the receiving end of something like that from anyone I know, personally, and I wouldn’t want to put any of my friends in the position of feeling like they owed me because I paid thousands of dollars for their responsibilities.

      1. Ellie H.*

        Same. I am really lucky that I don’t have anyone close to me who is truly struggling without family support. I would probably take some people out to dinner if I felt they’d be comfortable with it, but that’s it – I find the power thing super uncomfortable, I don’t know if I’d accept someone paying off my student loans.

    40. INTP*

      Buy a condo and move into it
      Quit my job
      Find financial advisor to help me best invest the remaining money so I can live on it forever without working
      Travel a lot

    41. Anonyby*

      -Make sure plenty of it is saved/invested so that I could comfortably live off of it the rest of my life.
      -Buy a house to live in until I inherit my dream house.
      -Set up an education fund for my nieces+friends.
      -Go back to school myself for the fun of it.
      -Important: get my health (physical & mental) fixed up
      -MAYBE: Start a hobby business
      -MAYBE: Fix up he other house my Dad is not doing anything with, either to live there or so he can rent it out.
      -MAYBE: Buy Dad a mobile home or a house near my brother. He’s mentioned those as possibilities if he wins. Bonus: if he does, that means I can stay in the house I want to be in.
      -Definitely pay for someone to do the standard housekeeping.
      -Buy a DVC contract and take regular vacations with it!

    42. Dangitmegan*

      1. Pay off my student loans and any debt of my mom and brother.

      2. Buy myself a house and another for my mom nearby.

      3. Give money to the nonprofit I used to work for that can only be used to pay the salaries of the three people in my former group because they are insanely underpaid and work harder than most everyone.

      4. Take all the angels off of all the angel trees I see and fulfill all the wishes. Also pay off random people’s layaways at KMart throughout the year.

      5. Invest in my freelance business to the point where I could do the fun work when I wanted to, but someone else is doing the day to day nonfun stuff.

      6. Take all the ballroom lessons and coachings I want, and do every competition I want.

      7. Put the rest away for the future.

    43. Elizabeth West*

      After consulting with a financial adviser and setting up a way for me to never have to work again, I’d
      Pay all bills that are / were outstanding ever.
      Fix the house up just enough to sell it.

    44. Chaordic One*

      I’d like to buy a house with room for a piano and with a yard for a dog (or maybe two dogs). Then I’d like to buy a piano and a dog (or maybe two dogs). I’d like to set up some trust funds for my grand nephews and make some substantial donations to local charities. I’d also like to do some traveling, visit the distant relatives and cousins in Scotland and Ireland and go on to see Europe and then New York City. I’d also like to get some dental work done. Even though I’m decidedly middle-aged I think I would still like to get braces and straighten my teeth for how ever much time I will have them.

    45. Olive Hornby*

      This is fun!! I’d keep my job for the time being but would massively upgrade my lifestyle:

      -hire a financial advisor
      -pay off mine + partner’s student loans (about $70k left total)
      -buy and renovate a brownstone ($6-8 million total) and decorate it from ABC Home and Carpet (another $1 million probably)
      -hire a housekeeper ($50k/year? Plus employment taxes?)
      -order Seamless whenever I feel like it
      -wear nicer clothes!
      -travel more and not just to places that are accessible by Amtrak
      -with the rest, either start a foundation or invest to throw off money to donate to my favorite charities (global health, reproductive health and abortion access, literacy, housing/homelessness)
      -donate to political candidates and get invited to fancy dinners
      -purchase a struggling legacy media operation

    46. ginger ale for all*

      I wouldn’t tell anyone that I won. I am in the beginning of a dating relationship that is nice but I would want to know if he likes me for me and not because of the money. I would donate to favorite charities that I already donate to. I would fake a smaller win though so I could buy a small modest home for myself and treat my friends and family to something. I think I would also visit the places I have read about, like the place in Persuasion that I am going blank on right now, where one of the characters tries to jump into the Captain’s arms and misses. I would also leave big fifty to one hundred percent tips at restaurants. Maybe even flip a hundred dollar tip for coffee every once in a while. And when I would see the Girl Scouts selling cookies, I would pick that new option they give you to buy a box for a soldier overseas and buy a case or two for them. Mostly, I would enjoy being a random Robin Hood for people who I don’t know and they wouldn’t be able to connect it with me.

  17. Regular going undercover*

    My cousin died last week. I went back to my home state for the funeral. I hate what I’m about to say but I always thought she was plain and unambitious. All of my other cousins and myself moved out of state and away from our hometown for college. She stayed behind and never went to college. I hate that I didn’t realize how charitable she was until after her death. My cousin wasn’t a public figure but thousands of people came to her funeral and not everyone could fit in the church. People stood on the lawn and up the sidewalk from the church in the rain. Donations in her name to charities that she liked are over six figures from what we know. We found out she started a homework program in her apartment building by putting up posters saying she would help kids with their homework if needed. It got so big they had to talk over one of the common rooms and kids would come from other places to get help. People at her funeral told my aunt and uncle that the homework program is the reason they are in college. She would visit elderly people and people in the hospital and read to them. She gave to the food bank and the animal shelter. She donated blood and helped the homeless. Her funeral needed 10 books of condolences and when we were cleaning out her apartment we found boxes full of old tax receipts from charitable donations she made. She wasn’t weather by any stretch but she gave so much. She never talked about it with any and I hate that I never got to know that side of her. I feel like a horrible person for ever thinking she was unambitious. My cousins and me all feel that guilt. Sorry just needed to vent.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, wow; that’s going to complicate an already complicated situation. But it sounds to me like this was a part of your defining yourself in ways that was important to your independence in your earlier years, and then you never stumbled on anything to make you reconsider as the years go by so you kept cruising along on that viewpoint highway. That happens.

      And as long as you treated her kindly your mistake didn’t really hurt her. It’s mostly just a part of mourning that you’d have to do no matter what you thought of her, and I’m sorry for your loss.

      1. Dot Warner*

        I agree, as long as you were kind to her, thinking of her as unambitious is no slight. Considering the negative connotations of “ambitious” and the fact that she never discussed her charity work, your cousin may have thought of herself as unambitious and been proud of it. It sounds like she was an amazing (and humble) person, and I’m so sorry for your loss.

    2. PosterChild*

      I’m so sorry for your loss and how much more of a loss it feels now that you know more about her. Make it up to her and try to donate your time or money to a cause that she supported, like education.

    3. nep*

      Condolences. Thanks for sharing this. Amazing and beautiful.
      Easier said than done, I know — but your generous, amazing cousin would probably like for you to let this inspire you and not get you down. Guilt is wasted energy. This is a beautiful lesson — one I think can speak to all of us. The sense of guilt, esp in the midst of loss, is understandable. But I hope you’ll move past that and honour her life by Letting this feed your own generosity and understanding. Thanks for this. All the best.

    4. Vancouver Reader*

      Your cousin wanted to be quiet about her accomplishments, and that’s why you didn’t know. I don’t think that’s anything to feel bad about. You know now what a wonderful person she was and you can be happy for all those people whose lives were made more positive by what she’d done.

      1. Mazzy*

        I agree. As I’ve come out of the closet about drinking on this blog, I wanted to raise a similar example, which is that alot of people put in many hours of community service in AA every single week for years, often an hour every single day between leading meetings and having sponsees, and their families don’t know because of the stigma of alcoholism and such. I think they don’t even think about it as being service because helping people become sober can be such a life and death moment that you don’t think about it as work or service when you’re involved in it, and you’re also building social connections yourself, as your cousin was when she was doing this work. And because the work is so satisfying by itself, most of us don’t need external validation at all.

        Just wanted to provide one example of people doing service and not necessarily wanting to or even needing to tell people about it.

    5. Overeducated*

      I think probably many of us wanted to “get out,” see the world, and define ourselves by our careers and accomplishments at a formative age. It took me about 10 years after moving away, and some big life changes, to start understanding the more subtle benefits of staying rooted close to family and focusing on community rather than work. I don’t judge people I looked down on in high school any more because I see more clearly what I traded off, and don’t think my choices were necessarily the best. But it took time to get there, and I think you don’t need to feel guilty for making assumptions that you had to grow out of…we all have to grow in different ways.

      I am really sorry that you lost your cousin.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Aww,I got a little choked up about your cous’ and her efforts. Very impressive person.

      She did not keep it a secret because she wanted you to hate yourself, you do know that, right? She just went about her life and doing what seemed to be her path in life. I bet if she were able to tell you, “It’s all okay” she would. Some people hear a different drummer. Call it fate/destiny/God/whatever, but I believe that these different drummers exist for a purpose. We need these folks, just like we need regular folks like you and me.

      Trust. Trust that you did not know this about her, FOR A REASON. The reason maybe explained to you shortly or it may be explained to you decades from now. We don’t know, how this stuff plays out. Try to work with the idea that in the past it was not time yet for you to see who she was and that is why you did not know. Nothing stays stagnant and, now, it has been revealed to you who she was.

      We can’t change the past and we do have to accept the fact that lots of stuff just gets by us. We can change our future based on new information. So what do you think you would like to do to honor your cousin’s efforts? Clearly her actions touched your heart and mind, I think most of us where touched by your story here. And most of us were painfully aware, “I am so NOT this cousin.” You do not have to BE her. But you can consider what you might like to do differently going forward.

      It’s odd, you know. Some people touch our lives WHILE they are still here. And some people touch our lives AFTER they pass. To me, the greatest honor would be that one person would want to do something in my memory after I am gone. If I have touched one person in that manner, my life will have been a success.

    7. manderw*

      She sounds amazing, but I agree that she probably wanted to keep it quiet.

      Maybe you could contribute to helping her homework program keep going? It sounds like that was an awesome thing to do.

  18. Carolyn*

    Is it possible to learn a new language once you’re past 30? Especially if moving to a country where that language is the main one spoken is not an option?

    I work with a lot of people who have English as their second language (mostly Europeans) and speak it fluently, sometimes in addition to a couple more languages. I don’t know if I’d ever want to work or live in a non-English speaking country but it is a skill I’d really like to have.

    1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Definitely possible, although it certainly helps to have started learning languages early to help build those pathways.

      The thing about Europeans is that they know all those languages because they are either similar to their own or they border those countries and by schooling/default learn the other language too. Also, there are a lot of tiny countries where it is understood that no one will know your language outside of that area,so you better learn another one, typically English. My Swedish partner took English from the age of 8, however in Scandinavia, unlike Germany or Italy, American tv shows are subtitled, not dubbed, so Scandis will tend to have less accented english. He has a friend who, if you didnt know him, would never guess he hadn’t been born in the US.

      What really gets me is the ease that these folks can switch between two/three languages.

    2. fposte*

      It depends how good you want to be, I think. You can learn a whole lot in a new language no matter where you are, but I think it’s really hard to become fluent in a language unless you get to use it regularly and informally.

    3. Jen RO*

      Yes, of course, as long as you’re willing to make a significant effort. I don’t think age has anything to do with learning a new language (though lack of time might).

      I’m 32 and I started studying German at 30. I am nowhere near where I should be after 2 years, but it’s all my fault – taking breaks, not doing all my homework, not listening/reading enough. With a bit more effort, I’d have been moderately fluent by now.

      I do think you will need to invest a couple of years in this – it won’t happen overnight. And don’t expect a perfect accent unless you are a natural talent – I’ve been studying English in one form or another for 28 years and people tell me that, when I am writing, they tend to forget I am not a native speaker… but the moment I open my mouth you can hear that I am obviously still 100% Romanian :)

    4. Coco*

      I am a language instructor and YES YOU CAN! I teach a Spanish class at a senior center, and they are by far the fastest-learning students I have ever had.

      Here is what I recommend:
      1) Take some classes or do independent study to have a basic foundation of vocab & grammar in the language. Don’t focus on fluency at this point.
      2) Find a community online or in-person focused on something you like, maybe a soccer team, a videogame, church group, political forum, whatever. Participate regularly, and throw away your fear of saying things wrong. Be brave. Outgoing people learn languages faster. Fun fact: real time text messaging (eg Skype, gchat) improves peoples’ SPEAKING ability. Make friends online and take advantage of that.

      This is how I became bilingual in Spanish without stepping foot in a Spanish dominant country.

    5. Just Me*

      I have a similar question and would love recommendations for the best way to learn. I’d really like to learn to speak Spanish conversationally/fluently. I’m definitely willing to put some time and money into this effort. Will an online/tapes/videos program be enough? Should I look into classes at the community college or will that be a waste of time? How advanced do I need to be to start looking for local meet-ups who practice conversations?

      1. Coco*

        Hi, community college Spanish instructor here :)

        Online tapes and videos are probably not enough, but that’s okay because there is an easier, free way that I described in my post above.
        First, get a basic understanding of vocab and grammar. Community college classes can be great for this, or even independent study with occasional tutoring from a friend (buy a textbook or find an educational YouTube channel). Spanish is actually relatively easy to learn because the grammar is fairly simple and there are so many cognates. Take advantage of WordReference.com (they have forums!) and Linguasorb.com.
        Then, I would highly recommend finding a Spanish-speaking online community that’s into something you enjoy, a hobby or interest. Tweet at Spanish-speaking Twitter accounts, make comments on Spanish-speaking YouTube videos, join a Spanish-speaking videogame clan, etc. This is much easier than in-person conversation because you can take time to plan what you say, but it still builds conversation skills if it’s in real-time!
        “How advanced do I need to be to start looking for local meet-ups who practice conversations?” This is difficult to measure, but I think not very advanced at all. As long as you can talk about yourself, you can participate to some extent. Maybe think of some simple phrases you would want to use in English for small talk, and if those would be doable for you in Spanish (even if you can’t say them flawlessly), go for it!

        1. Another Lauren*

          Argh, but the subjunctive! “Use this verb form when you’re certain of something, that form when you’re unsure, and the other form when it’s raining on a Tuesday and you’re sad about it but not too sad, and also kind of hungry.”

          Can you tell I grew up in the era of “whole language” and didn’t learn grammar in school? ;)

          1. Emma*

            The thing I find hilarious about this is that the subjunctive exists in English, too. It just seems to be the one part of English grammar that gets consistently overlooked in school, at least in my area of the US, so most native speakers I meet don’t realize they’re using it.

            1. Coco*

              It’s true! Although even the antiquated uses of the subjunctive are still MUCH more limited in English than in Spanish.

          2. Coco*

            Yes, I tell my students that the most difficult parts of Spanish are subjunctive and grammatical gender.

          3. Jen RO*

            But, compared to other languages, the subjunctive form is SO simple in Spanish! You just take the present tense and change a letter. It’s also not as difficult to figure out when to use it… and honestly, most people aren’t going to care if you say a wrong word, as long as the meaning is clear.

    6. SeekingBetter*

      It can be harder learning another language past 30. I think the best way, and this worked for me really well, is to do as much immersion in the new language you want to learn and speak. Try to make friends online and or seek forums that have other language learners. Watch a bunch of movies in the language so you get used to hearing the pronunciation and picking up the so-called “rhythm” of the language; subtitles will help you with understanding it, but don’t match it word-for-word. Commit time to learning to at least 1-4 hours a day, just to drive it in your brain.

      It’s actually easier to learn the language if you’re in a country where it’s spoken. Better yet, if no one else there speaks your mother tongue so that you can really only rely on what you’ve learned. The only thing I found frustrating after improving my skills in one other language other than English is that I sometimes put grammar rules from the other language into my English (therefore, it makes no sense to other people I’m talking to) and I think in the other language half of the time. But I’m not fluent, which makes it weird.

    7. YOLO*

      Yes, you can! I’m learning Mandarin Chinese right now. What I find most difficult as someone in her 40s is that I just don’t have the memory or the stamina that I used to – there are days when my mind is agile and there are days when my mind is not. As you can probably guess, agile days make for easier learning.

      Things that help (or that at least have helped me): focus on communicating – it’s a skill that transcends language; don’t be too hard on yourself; and don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good-enough. If I waited until my tones were perfect, my character recognition was over 2000, or my grasp of nuance was perfect – I’d have died of old age, never having spoken Chinese. :)

    8. Emma*

      Sure. If anything, the problem is finding the time to really focus on learning; the more you use a language, the more it sticks, but you can also forget what you’ve learned (in my case, pretty quickly). So I’ve found for me that if I skip even a couple days’ practice, I start to forget.

      But! You can always start over, or just keep plugging away. Immersion is best if you can manage it – there aren’t local immersion classes or groups for the language I’m learning in my area, so I am half-compensating by following people’s blogs, Twitter feeds, news sites, etc. in the target language. I don’t understand more than a quarter right now – but that’s way more than I did three months ago. (I also can’t speak it for shit but that’s a different story.)

    9. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      My mom learned to be conversationally fluent in Mandarin in 2 years, started after the age of 50. She jokingly griped one day that if she’d known it was so easy, she would have done it years earlier! But the timing was just good in that she had more time to do it at that age.

    10. Jessesgirl72*

      My husband and I are both over 30 and learning Russian right now. I’m only a few weeks in, so I can’t say how much of my (very relative) struggle comes from age vs it a different alphabet, but I suspect it’s only the alphabet. And I’ve always been really good at languages, so by “struggle” I just mean it’s not as instantly learned as it used to be.

      One of the things he’s found, for once we get a little more proficient at the basics, is that you can hire native language tutors via Skype for $20 sessions.

    11. Anono-me*

      I am currently trying to learn/relearn a second language. (I had a year of it in school; but as I am well over 30, it is almost all gone. ) I have trouble finding the time for an actual class. So I have been doing Duolingo on my phone and I have seen a significant improvement.

  19. Sir Alanna Trebond*

    TW: fitness, food stuff, weight loss

    Thanks everyone for your advice last week (I asked about eating healthy when you don’t want to lose weight). I got a bit sidetracked this week with my fitness goals, but I’m back on track now. I’m going to try and eat some vegetable thing with dinner everyday. I’ll stick with listening to my body and eating when I’m hungry/stopping once I’m full. This has tended to be my MO anyway, but the things I eat often aren’t that healthy. I think I eat enough fruits and protein but I rarely eat vegetables and I have a bit of a sweet tooth. I’ll see how adding vegetables goes this week, and slowly start incorporating more servings of veggies as I figure out what I like/fits in with my lifestyle.

    It’s really exciting exercising and watching progress. I just switched from doing push-ups on my knees to doing “regular” push-ups. Who knows? Maybe in a couple months, I’ll be able to do a pull-up for the first time in my life.

    1. Lemon Zinger*

      Congratulations! Sounds like you’re doing great!

      To help resolve your sweet tooth, try cutting back on the fruit and replace it with veggies. For example, if you always have eggs for breakfast with a banana, skip the banana and scramble your eggs with spinach, which is a really easy veggie to “hide” in other foods, since it cooks down to almost nothing.

    2. misspiggy*

      You sound like you’re doing really well. I find that if I’m not getting enough protein and ‘good’ fats I inhale a lot more sugar – you could try increasing nuts, fish, avocado and that kind of thing just to see if it makes a difference.

  20. Shy Cat UK*

    I don’t know if this is TMI but has anyone ever felt like they might not be able to get pregnant in the future? It sounds so stupid, but for some reason, despite not ever having tried for a baby or having a history of problems in my family, I really worry that when my husband and I do try for a baby, I won’t be able to get pregnant!
    I’m 30 and we’ve been married since I was 23. We’re probably going to start trying at the beginning of 2018 but I worry that I won’t get pregnant.
    Any ideas?

    1. Christy*

      Oh, I worry about it, but I have cause to, lol. I’m a lesbian with PCOS, so a fertility issue plus dealing with artificial insemination anyway.

      Can I ask why you’re waiting to get pregnant? Would it be a problem to start trying this year? From my understanding, in the US, you need a year of non-success at getting pregnant to get fertility help in many instances. If you’re nervous, why not put yourself ahead of the game and start now?

      Also be sure to talk to your husband (I’m assuming) about your feelings!

      1. Shy Cat UK*

        We’re actually waiting because we have 2 holidays paid for next year! I sometimes think that sounds bad (shallow?) but we get back in September next year. Was thinking the beginning of 2018 because we do so many things over the Christmas period that I think it would be hard to conceal my lack of drinking to so many people! I don’t want to have to tell anyone early.
        I guess I should talk to my husband about it!
        Thanks so much for your input!

    2. plip*

      No ideas but I’ll just chime in to say I feel the same….and I haven’t even got a guy yet! I’m 34 and just out of a long term relationship where we had talked about kids but didn’t try because we didn’t want to get pregnant before getting married (best idea we ever had as it happens!). I do have PCOS but they won’t investigate the fertility side until I’ve been trying and failing to get pregnant…which at my age doesn’t leave much time. I think there’s much more of an awareness now around reproductive issues that most of us know it’s a possibility things won’t come together the way we want them to. Good luck :)

      1. Shy Cat UK*

        I’m glad (but not obvs) that I’m not alone in my feelings.
        I think you might be right. I guess when I was younger, I thought it was a case of you have sex, you have a baby. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come into contact with people who had to use IVF and things like that. I guess it’s just got me concerned!
        Thank you so much :)

      2. Anon for this*

        I’m in a similar position. It’s super stressful! I’ve been mentally preparing myself to adopt if/when I’m in a place to be a parent, and I know that’s a whole other stressful long will it/won’t it process…

    3. chickabiddy*

      If you are not currently using hormonal birth control (or even if you are, although you couldn’t actually use the information right now but could become better informed for later), I strongly recommend reading Taking Charge Of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler. I read it when I was almost 30 and was shocked at how little I actually knew about my reproductive health and menstrual cycle, and I had been having periods for 19 years at that point and did not consider myself sheltered or uninformed. I feel like it should be required reading for all women no matter how they feel about pregnancy and fertility just because there is so much that I didn’t know I didn’t know, if that makes sense. (For parents of afab children, there is a teen version as well that has the same information but focuses less on fertility and pregnancy.)

      1. Anion*

        I was about to recommend this book! Helped me get pregnant once and avoid pregnancy after (until we got careless, lol, and had our second baby–our precious, amazing little surprise!).

        Worth a read for every woman.

    4. Cam*

      Before we started trying for a baby, my husband was pretty much convinced that he wouldn’t be fertile. Not based on any actual health problem, just mostly on anxiety and pessimism. He fully expected that we would try for a year and then need to seek fertility treatments. In the end, it took us 8 months. So you definitely aren’t alone in worrying about this!

    5. CeeCee*

      I am 28 and not yet trying for a child. My better half and I talk about it all the time, discuss baby names, etc. and have been talking about trying to start a family come the new year. Let me tell you, I’m terrified that I won’t actually be able to get pregnant. So you are definitely not alone.

    6. Sandy*

      Judging by my Facebook feed- which turns out not to be that representative- fertility issues and miscarriages/stillbirths are not the “silent shame” they are elsewhere, they are the majority.

      I had the impression that virtually every woman on my feed had gone through those issues, and I assumed from that impression that I would have a very difficult time getting pregnant and then likely suffer multiple miscarriages before (maybe) carrying a fetus to term.

      Well, the dice rolled out differently in our case, and I got pregnant two weeks after we unofficially started trying, I carried the pregnancy to term, and we now have a beautiful toddler. It clearly doesn’t work out that way for everyone, but it did for us, and it was a massive surprise. I think I spent my entire pregnancy waiting for something awful to happen (maybe not the healthiest approach…)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I can count on ONE hand the number of women I know who say they never lost a child. It’s rather shocking.

        But, OP, this does not mean it will be you. It means that you probably have heard such stories and have grown concerned because of it. Let’s face it, one story is disturbing and if we hear several that can be down right upsetting. There’s lots you can do to help yourself, please, tell yourself that every time you start to worry. And this is just general life advice, when worry strikes and it probably will, tell yourself that you are going to work at things such as keeping healthy to minimize unforeseen problems.

    7. Anonymous of course*

      Yes, I thought that at 22. Though there were clues that there might be an issue I certainly hadn’t tried to find out. Got married at 28. First child at 30 after about 15 months of no birth control. 2nd child at 34 after needing a little boost (clomid – usually the first step) as I was not ovulating regularly (and probably never had) and hadn’t gotten pregnant after almost 2 years. Had 3rd child at 40. I knew right away I was pregnant as after the birth of my 2nd child I ovulated every month and my periods were regular. Learning about natural family planning actually helped understand what was going on and when most likely to be fertile.

      1. Anonymous of course*

        And of course my sisters had no issues at all. One has 6 kids and the other had 3 in less than 3 1/2 years.

    8. Jubilance*

      I had this worry. I didn’t get married until I was 31, and then we waited a year before we started trying. I was worried that it would either take us a while or we wouldn’t get pregnant at all. I’d never had a pregnancy scare so I was sure there was something wrong with me… And then we got pregnant on our 3rd try – i’m currently 33wks pregnant.

      My advice is to stay positive, and do what you can to reassure yourself. For me, that was a pre-conception physical, starting prenatal vitamins and tracking my cycles.

      1. TL -*

        Yup! Never having a pregnancy scare doesn’t mean you’re infertile, it just means you’re reasonably responsible and we have reasonably effective medication! Both of my friends with babies thought they would have trouble conceiving and they didn’t. Don’t go borrowing trouble if you can help it.

    9. Looney Tunes*

      Yes. I was utterly convinced I’d be infertile and I diagnosed myself with all kinds of issues. I’m now pregnant and frankly, feel a little silly for putting myself through all that. I’ve done it with all big life events (I’ll never get a job, I’ll never meet someone to marry, I’ll never buy a house) and it’s probably my worst habit.

      Stay off Google is my advice – reading a lot about IVF and infertility makes it look a whole lot more common than it really is. Also, try learning a bit about fertility awareness – I found it really comforting to be able to see that things were most likely fine.

    10. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      This is the kind of the thing that there is quite literally zero point in stressing over. You haven’t even tried yet–you have no idea whether you have cause to worry! Trust me, if that day comes you will have more than enough time to research and stress about every little thing.

      Everyone and their mother will tell you their stories as soon as you announce that you’ve “started trying,” so buckle in for that. The one actually useful thing you can probably do now is get a copy of Taking Charge of Your Fertility and read it (and the usual advice for life: eat well, exercise moderately, get some rest). Why make yourself stress over nothing? You could end up like one of the lucky people who get pregnant their first try, or you could end up like me with fertility problems/infertility despite zero physical issues. You just don’t know. Do not invite additional stress into your life. Journal it out, talk about it with your husband, focus on your upcoming trips and vacations. Stay off of Google and the internet. Live your life.

      1. EmmaLou*

        They’ll also ask you completely inappropriate questions. Practice your blank or shocked looks now. Our favourite was: “So what are you doing to try to get pregnant?” Oh, the biting of the tongue for the answers that spring to mind! We were not successful due to an undiagnosed medical condition, but this was many years ago and, golly, has medicine come a long way. Telling you not to worry is silly of course because it’s like saying, “Don’t think about pink elephants.” We’re all still going to tell you that though. Worrying will not change the outcome. Get the information you need. Count on your spouse and perhaps a trusted friend or two.

    11. Overeducated*

      I was worried due to family history so that influenced me to start trying earlier than I might have otherwise (at 28, married at 26, would have been able to get more settled first if we’d waited). Fortunately it only took 2 months to get pregnant, and I am thrilled to have my kid, but we are going to have to space them out more than I would consider ideal.

    12. Maya Elena*

      To disagree with everyone, I’d at least trust but verify. The majority of women might not have problems, but a large enough minority do – if they only start in their thirties, and after many years of hormonal birth control to boot.

      I’d at least try to prophylacticly going off of birth control and getting a normal period back.

  21. Pokebunny*

    At the kitty place that I volunteer, we had a “free admission” day where people can come in and pet kitties without paying. Oh lordy, it was so busy! At one point we had to turn people away because our waiting list was so long that they’d have had to wait for two hours to get in. We ended up staying open 90 minutes past our usual closing time. It was so nice to see people who had never been here before just squeal in joy at being able to hang around all the cats.

    Of course, like all things in life, there’s always that one person. Got a call from an angry woman who yelled at us for 10 minutes on the phone and told us to “grow up” because she thought we were doing this as a response to recent events.

    1. Confused Publisher*

      A couple of my colleagues volunteer at a local dog shelter, and last week, I went with them to distribute warm blankets to the dogs since their old bedding is manky or the dogs have used them as chew toys. Watching them wriggle in joy at being warm and try to ‘hug’ us all made us all cry happy tears.

      Thank you for the work you do. This world needs people who are kind to animals because they make the world a better place for us.

    2. Jessesgirl72*

      She should have come in to pet kittens. She’d be less angry.

      I’m a big believer in purr therapy.

      1. Pokebunny*

        That is a great response, gah, I wonder why we didn’t think of saying that. “Ma’am, you sound pretty angry. We are waiving the entrance fee for all of today to pet cats, would you like to drop by our location? We’re open till 9.”

    3. Lemon Zinger*

      Some of my favorite memories as a child are when my mom would take me and my brothers to a cat shelter downtown. It was a little out of the way for a lot of people, so random visitors were always welcome. We’d spend hours going from room to room, visiting the cats and playing with anybody who was interested. Such fun.

      What a great place you volunteer at!

    4. dragonzflame*

      Why would it matter if it was a response to recent events? The point is you’re doing it and it’s making people happy.

  22. Christy*

    Today has been such a good week and such a bad week. I got a really great work review, I ran a 10K, I did a lot of yoga, I bought new leggings on double-sale, my friend is getting married tomorrow, I took a day trip yesterday to see a few old college friends. The highs help with the lows, which we won’t discuss.

    What highs have y’all had this week?

    1. Confused Publisher*

      My husband and I are massive foodies, and today we went to the BBC Good Food Festival in west London. They do several such events all over the UK all year, and this was our second time attending. It was amazing to see so many cultures and so much delicious food represented: for a while, we forgot about that-which-must-not-be-discussed, and those who would kill all this sense of community and sharing, on both sides of the Atlantic. Now I’m on the sofa with a blanket, a massive cup of tea, a book, and talking to everyone else here on AAM.

      1. Cristina in England*

        My husband got a set of nonstick pots and pans at that show years ago and we still use them. I am dreading having to replace them because we love them so much!

      2. Elizabeth West*

        One thing I love about London is you NEVER EVER run out of things to do. Quite literally, there is something going on all the time. I’ve even walked smack into fun stuff just schlepping around. :)

    2. Lore*

      Won the Hamilton lottery! Got to puppy sit my neighbor’s tiny and insanely energetic pair of foster puppies.

    3. KatieKate*

      Managed to run 3 miles in my target time for my 5K training! Feeling really confident that I will be under my target time in two weeks.

    4. Jen RO*

      Booked a holiday to Cyprus! Temperatures here have been around 10-15 C (in the 50s in Fahrenheit), so I wanted something WARM and relaxing after a tiring couple of months at work.
      Bonus: a friend who I haven’t seen in many years lives there.
      Bonus to the bonus: my friend told me that it will be even warmer than I thought – they had 30C (86F) 2 days ago!

    5. fposte*

      I had a lovely phone conversation with my centenarian friend, who’s sharper than I am. My new GI medicine is working well enough for me to eat things that aren’t good for me :-). Work is finishing with the busiest time of year so I have a little more breathing room on the weekends and can begin to address the wreck that is the condition of my household.

    6. Lady Blerd*

      I’m making a scarf and it’s looking gorgeous even as a work in progress. I’m even more proud because I copied a name brand scarf, I dare say mine will be better. Often times for me, the process of actually making a thing is more enjoyable then actually having the finished item.

      1. Searching*

        Ooh, how immensely satisfying! Are you weaving, knitting, crocheting, silk-painting, or something else?

    7. Natalie*

      Temporary house husband, as I mentioned up thread. He’s also been amazingly supportive of me while I’ve been depressed this week for The Reason That Shall Not Be Discussed.

      I found two bonus cauliflowers in my garden, which should have had a killing frost over a month ago. It’s been unseasonably warm here so I guess the climate was just right for them.

      Good friend time lined up for this evening, too.

    8. Jean*

      Having several good telephone conversations and/or email message exchanges with friends who live in faraway places. Also having bright, clear, crisp and cool autumn weather for most of the week. It’s wonderful to finally be free from heat and humidity!

    9. Aardvark*

      Found perfect presents for two important people in my life, and found perfect cards for two others.
      A library book I was waiting for came in.
      Am not only feeling stronger from working out regularly, but my pants are also starting to fit better.
      Finally watched the season finale of Atlanta, and it was just as good as I’d hoped it would be.
      My favorite snack food and quality cheese were deeply on sale.

    10. Overeducated*

      Had a networking/mentoring happy hour that was good, and saw two sets of friends this weekend for meals and walks in nice fall weather. Yesterday I was still pretty upset but today socializing actually distracted me for the most part.

    11. Lemon Zinger*

      I was highly praised for a presentation I did at work on Friday. It was on a topic that tends to upset people, but one woman said she appreciated that I added humor and my own experiences to make it entertaining and informative.

      Also, I only worked three days this week! Monday I was off on vacation and Friday we got off for Veteran’s Day. So the week really flew by!

    12. Al Lo*

      My husband and I had a theatre marathon day today, which we haven’t done in a long time! In 12 hours, we saw 3 plays and a movie. We’re both theatre professionals, and don’t see nearly as many shows as we want to, so when the timing works out, it’s such a good day.

  23. Lando Calrissian*

    Has anyone tried to sell their collections of items on eBay? I don’t want to use one of those phony sounding concierge servuces, but I have a large Lenox Christmas plate collection I am looking to unload.

    1. Jessesgirl72*

      I have, and it was a real pain. The ONLY negative reviews I have (not that I sell tons of stuff, just the occasional thing here or there) is from someone who bought pieces from an old collection I had, and ranted and raved about the condition- even though I took tons of pictures, never claimed anything was like new, had gone out of my way to accommodate her many demands, etc. Collectors can just be high maintenance. Plus, there are never as many people who want collectibles as you think.

      1. Audiophile*

        My mom sold a doll for a ridiculous amount over $900. She shipped it to the buyer and this person ranted and raved, initally on eBay and then on PayPal. Seller complained the doll was in poor condition, then saying the wig had come off (seller had taken it off) and numerous other things. Seller demanded a refund and said she’d return the doll for a partial refund. She never returned and my mom never sold something else on eBay.

        I’ve also had issues selling electronics on eBay. And now Amazon has restricted most of their selling categories to their new pro users.

    2. Neruda*

      Is there an auction place anywhere near you that could sell it for you? I didn’t even know this was a common thing until I recently bought my mum an antique chair for her 60th birthday. They keep a commission but it would probably be easier than he hassle of eBay.

    3. Lemon Zinger*

      Yes, my mom has been using eBay to sell off her sheet music collection and some other small items, and it works very well for her.

    4. Pennalynn Lott*

      My dad sells collectible toy trains from the 1920’s – 1960’s, plus phonographs he has restored, on eBay. He has done so well that he has to report the income on his 1040.

    5. EmmaLou*

      That’s funny! I JUST started collecting those! Well, the holly ones. I had a couple of pieces from an aunt. No, I am not asking to buy yours. My set will be very slow going. I wish you luck though! I haven’t heard really good things about eBay, I’m sorry.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I paid someone to put some Lionel trains on Ebay.

      It worked. But he said everything people are saying here. You have to plan for a high maintenance customer. Things have to be in great shape, they have to be shipped perfectly, etc.
      It was his business to sell stuff online and he knew his stuff. He was extremely picky about what he would accept to sell. (Probably 40% of what I had.) He sold everything he took. Some of items did better than expected and some items just sat there for a bit.

      Plan on it taking longer than expected. And plan on paying extra attention to how you ship it and how you pack it.

  24. Vancouver Reader*

    I’m hoping this isn’t political Alison, but with Remembrance Day having just taken place and all the strife going on in the world, I was wondering about people who’s religions don’t allow them to vote or take part in wars.

    I understand that their god is greater and more powerful than any government on earth, and so that’s why people don’t bow down to government (sorry I can’t think of a better way to put that), but if you’re living in a country where everyone is hurt by a leader’s actions, can they not take part in actions that would result in a better life for everyone? I can’t see anyone, religious or otherwise, who is a decent person, for example, not standing up for someone who’s being assaulted on the streets, would that not therefore translate to taking actions on a larger scale? I’m not trying to be obtuse here, I’m just not able to wrap my head around not doing something when the results still affect everyone, including those who don’t take part.

    1. fposte*

      I don’t find the wars thing that hard to understand, since I don’t know that it’s always crystal clear what a better life for everyone is (there are pretty much always conscientious objectors on both sides, after all, so they can’t both be wrong), or that standing up is always something that has to happen violently–Gandhi did okay for India with non-violence. Additionally, many faiths allow adherents to participate non-violently, so there’s a lot of participation in the medical corps and similar realms.

      The voting for me is a tougher one, but it’s also a lot rarer, so it doesn’t take up a lot of mental real estate for me. I have more concerns when that belief means children not getting medical treatment.

      1. Vancouver Reader*

        Thank you fposte, that’s part of what I’m not understanding because most times, to me, wars are black or white. I think wars are started because some person in power wants more power, or someone in power feels they have to help out another country who’s being bullied. Standing up in a non-violent way is still standing up for what you believe in, it’s not standing up at all that I can’t fathom.

        1. fposte*

          I think they’re often more complicated than that–the country being bullied can be run by somebody who wants more power, for instance, or that countries can treat each other in ways that the recipients believe to be bullying and the other party feels is absolutely fair treatment; in addition, countries have tended to be more likely to help defend countries with economic value to them than other countries, so even what may seem like a good motive turns out to have other things pushing behind it.

          It’s a little dense, but if you get a chance to see the Michael Frayn’s play Copenhagen, I think you might find it really interesting. It’s about Werner Heisenberg the German physicist and Niels Bohr the Danish physicist, who were close friends and colleagues, and who had a strange visit during the war in German-occupied Copenhagen relating to Germany’s possible ability to create a nuclear bomb. The play talks through the complicated morality of being a scientist in wartime. One of my favorite moments is when Heisenberg, in a scene set years later, asks Bohr why Bohr didn’t just kill him–Heisenberg would have been hauled off and shot if Bohr had dropped the fact that he’d told Bohr what he did, and it would have devastated the German nuclear program. And Bohr, who engineered the atom bomb that killed hundreds of thousands of people, is shocked at the suggestion.

    2. Alex*

      “I understand that their god is greater and more powerful than any government on earth, and so that’s why people don’t bow down to government (sorry I can’t think of a better way to put that), but if you’re living in a country where everyone is hurt by a leader’s actions, can they not take part in actions that would result in a better life for everyone?”

      ~I can’t imagine a scenario where any leader (although I am an American so I believe I should be represented, not lead” can take charge without hurting people. It doesn’t matter what policy or position they put forth, it effects everyone. If they don’t do something about a problem, it effects everyone and people get hurt. Indecision is a BIG decision in it of its self. There is no action-at least on a national level- that will help everyone without hurting someone. Literally, there is no policy that has been proposed that does not have some sort of negative consequence attached to it for at least some group of people. It is the sum of peoples beliefs and values that determines which actions and leaders they support in spite of the costs. Since you are dealing with millions of people with very different values and lived experience they are going to come to some very different conclusions.

      “I can’t see anyone, religious or otherwise, who is a decent person, for example, not standing up for someone who’s being assaulted on the streets, would that not therefore translate to taking actions on a larger scale?”

      ~People not standing up for one another on the streets is a common thing here unfortunately. This phenomenon is called the “bystander effect” I’m not sure if that was the direction you were going with this but I think it is important to mention. After considering this, I don’t think it is too much of a stretch to see that people are probably willing to ignore the trickle down sentiments that leaders and policies in play have had with that resulted in people being assaulted on the streets. This effect is amplified with someone that holds the sentiments in question.

      “I’m not trying to be obtuse here”

      ~You are not. These are fair questions and I hope this helps.

      1. Vancouver Reader*

        Thank you Alex, for your well thought out responses. I was oversimplifying when I said everyone being hurt by a leader’s actions, I realize not everyone gets affected in the same way, and every action or inaction has a butterfly effect.

        You’re right, bystander effect is very prevalent and being able to be even more anonymous now with social media can make people even less inclined to help out especially when it doesn’t involve people they don’t know. It’s also good to see it works the other way, that many people are using social media to do good.

        1. Amadeo*

          Yes, the bystander effect is so bad that in a self defense class I was once told to yell ‘fire’ instead of ‘help’. The idea of watching something burn will draw an audience, at least.

    3. Emma*

      The thing is, if you’re religious to the point that you’re observing restrictions like that, your religion really is your priority in ways that seem alien to people who don’t prioritize that way. Their response would be – why would you not place God first? Basically, take all the feelings you’re expressing here about political involvement and apply them to religious observance, and you’ve basically got it.

      It’s a fight that happens even inside religious communities a lot – what matters more, God/the gods or people? Am I more moral by helping people at the expense of my gods, or obeying my gods at the expense of people? That’s not always an easy answer if you’re religious (though most, if not all, religions do have some community/humanity-centric teachings as well, so it’s not always or even mostly a strict opposition). If you actually believe in a god or gods, then you have to take them into account like you would take in a person – they’re not abstract to you. And I think most of the people who do obey the kind of restrictions you’re talking about would say that those aren’t the only ways to help people – it’s not like you have to take part in wars to help people (and many non-religious folk are also pacifists), and I could see people making the case that they don’t vote, but they do other things – like how you may not donate to X charity, but you might do something else.

      I mean, I might disagree on where they draw their lines (my gods are somewhat political so voting for me is something of a religious requirement), but I can see how they get there.

      1. Vancouver Reader*

        You’re right Emma, even though I was raised in a religion, I am no longer religious and cannot fathom placing a god over everything and everyone else. I guess what confuses me is that from what I can understand, all religions’ basic teachings are to treat each other with respect. So if one group does harm to another, is it not logical to take the basic teachings a step further by trying to prevent or stopping the wrongdoing? It’s the inaction in any way shape or form I can’t fathom.

        1. fposte*

          I think a reasonable question there would be why a country is placed above everything else, though, too. If you’re Japanese-American during World War II in Canada or the U.S., you’re sent to an internment camp and stripped of your assets. That’s some pretty solid wrongdoing in my eyes, and while quite a few people of Japanese ancestry fought for Canada and the U.S. anyway, I would find it pretty reasonable if somebody whose family was interned was maybe not so impressed with those countries’ moral position. Or if you’re a immigrant from Rwanda in the 1990s and your country makes a big deal about the moral importance of intervening in the Bosnian War but it lets the genocide that’s killing your family in Rwanda go unchecked.

          I don’t mean to be saying that nobody’s worth defending, but just that pretty much every country has made some morally dubious choices that have hurt people within them or outside them, so there’s not a lot of simplicity when it comes to heroes and villains.

          1. Emma*

            Also, “my country over everything” is an attitude that can lead to a lot of problems, and while I, personally, can’t quite wrap my head around people refusing to vote when they live in a democracy, I can very much wrap my head around people, religious or not, refusing to take part in wars. I’m not sure I even consider them quite on the same level – refusing to fight whoever your country tells you to is, when it comes down to it, refusing to kill a fellow human, or aid and abet that killing.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Using a small example. One union had to vote on whether to become part of a larger union. Out of 350 employees, 28 voted. The employees said, “I am not voting because I can’t make a difference with my vote.’
              Of the 28 people who voted, 25 voted in favor of the union that they did NOT want. Why. Because they said “The union was going to take over anyway and probably it would come to light that I voted against it and I will have to pay a price for that.”

              Three people voted against a union that 350 did not want. Only three people stood up.

              The most difficult prisons we have are the ones inside our own minds. Our perceptions lock us in to behaviors that are not our first choice and not reflective of what we actually want.

              Newspaper headlines read, “New union voted in by overwhelming majority.”
              It should have read, “New union voted in by self-fulfilling prophecy.”

              When people believe a system is irretrievably broken, we start to see some really strange behaviors.

        2. Emma*

          Part of the problem is that everyone has different ideas of what “treating each other with basic respect” is – and for the very religious, depending on the religion, even that takes a backseat to doing your religious duties. It’s not that your fellow humans are unimportant, but that your god/s are that much more important.

          But, like, even with people who aren’t that religious, there are still arguments over what matters most, what counts as basic respect. It’s pretty easy to agree on something as vague as “treat everyone with respect.” Most people agree with that. The problem is, we all think we know precisely what “respect” means, and we really, really don’t.

          My patriarchal and atheist father thinks that he respects others by respecting what he thinks is their role in life, and he definitely takes the view that it’s more important for him to push for what he considers a rightly ordered society than for him to listen to the objections of others, because he has that paternalistic “I know what’s best for you” attitude. But he absolutely considers that respecting people. I absolutely disagree with his definition of respect – but it’s one he honestly holds, and he’s not alone. And there are plenty of other definitions out there.

    4. Temperance*

      No, it wouldn’t translate that way, actually.

      I know a lot of JWs through work, and these folks are some of the kindest people you can imagine, and would help anyone out, but they also have their beliefs, which are #1. They don’t believe that voting (for example) would make everything better, because Jehovah will, so they need to follow him.

      1. Vancouver Reader*

        Many of our kids at our schools are JWs and they weren’t allowed to participate in the Remembrance Day assembly, which I know is their parents’ right to do so, but I also think it’s important for them to realize that it’s because there were others who stood up and fought, that they are able to practice their religions freely.

        1. fposte*

          Well, they might agree with you–and they might also know that JWs have had a history of being persecuted in Canada and have *not* been able to practice their religion freely.

        2. Temperance*

          They can’t observe any holidays, including Remembrance Day. It’s part of their faith. I get your point, but that’s not how it works at all.

        3. Emma*

          You know what, though? That’s a line used to shame an awful lot of people who have real objections to wars, or even just to their country’s wars, current or former. Any damn time someone objects to military policy, military spending, or anything else military, they get hit with the “but those guys stood up to fight for your freedom.” It’s true, but only in a limited way, and people are still allowed to dislike wars and the military. It’s not disrespect to disagree with warfare.

          I also personally think there are real problems with the lionization of the military, same as I think there are problems with the lionization of the police. Yes, they do difficult and potentially fatal jobs, but being overly reverent renders them untouchable, and that’s a huge problem.

            1. Vancouver Reader*

              You’re probably right Emma, I’d probably less annoyed at it if it wasn’t for religious reason. As a former Catholic, I am more inclined to blame religion for more things than not.

    5. LCL*

      Not a direct answer, just an example.
      I have a relative who was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam war. He spent some time in the federal penitentiary for it. And honestly, he is a cruel controlling jerk. Maybe my point is even bad people have principles?

      1. Vancouver Reader*

        Was he actually against the war or was he just not wanting to participate? I agree we all have good and bad points about us, it’s a matter of which side we let out in public more?

        1. LCL*

          That side of the family is all JWs, they have a faith based objection to serving. This was in the early-mid 60s, I was little so don’t know too much more about it. Those were different times; a neighbor youth quite possibly committed an assault against a small child, and that youth was strongly encouraged to enlist early and nothing else was done.

      2. the gold digger*

        I don’t know the ins and outs of it, but I don’t think people get put in prison for being a CO. They can be assigned alternative service. They are not exempt from service, but they do not have to fight. It’s not illegal to be a CO.

        Draft dodgers, on the other hand, can be imprisoned, I think.

        1. fposte*

          What happened a lot with Vietnam is people applied for conscientious objector status and were denied; at that point, your choice was either enlist or go to prison. I can see that a lot of people might not consider the military’s definition to be the ruling one and considered somebody willing to go to prison to be a conscientious objector whether it was officially agreed to or not.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Or you could go to college and become a teacher. I landed in high school in the seventies. I had more than an hand full of teachers who said, “The only reason I teach is because I felt a draft.”

            They did not want to teach, but their desire to stay out of Nam was bigger.

    6. DragoCucina*

      It’s not always either/or. As a US vet I obviously don’t have a problem with military service. But, JWs and others, can refuse military service but still stand up for those being persecuted. They won’t necessarily stand by and just watch. Historically they have been imprisioned for following these beliefs and not cooperating.

      When I was more active as a US Holocaust Memorial Museum educator I knew a teacher who was very much a pacifist. He wrote an interesting paper on the cooperation between pacifist groups and armed resistance groups.

      1. the gold digger*

        A guy I went to college with decided, after attending college on an ROTC scholarship and attending medical school on the Navy that he was a CO. I am thinking this is something he might have been able to figure out before the military (i.e., us, the taxpayers) paid for his education.

        1. DragoCucina*

          Yeah, that makes my blood pressure go up. He wanted the benefits without actually having to do his part. My husband was drafted (he went from an all boys science high school and in college discovered girls and beer). Afterwards he went to nursing school on an Army scholarship, then back to Vietnam. He made a choice and met his obligation.

          1. the gold digger*

            Agreed. My dad was career air force. He spent his year in Vietnam, which is where he was exposed to the Agent Orange that gave him the cancer that killed him. I truly do not have a problem with people who are sincere COs, but this guy makes me furious.

    7. Jennie*

      I’m Canadian too, and live in an area with many conscientious objectors who chose our community for its freedom of religion. I’d suggest shifting your thinking slightly to focusing on the good each group does in their specific community and in our broader shared community to see the positive differences that people of all kinds make. For example, my province continued to be able to help feed people during the world wars and built much needed roads and trains including training facilities that are still used to train and support young men and women to this day. They may have a different reason for their work, and do different work than my family, but it’s still work for the greater good and it still very much matters.

    8. Engineer Girl*

      You are making a fundamental flaw in your logic. It is called false dichotomy (black and white thinking). The assumption is that either you support the government by voting/participating in the military OR you stand by and allow evil to happen. Of course in real life we know that there are many options, and many choices. Complex problems have many solutions. Under your paradigm, only one way will solve your problem. It’s actually a recipe for failure.
      To say they “don’t take part” is inaccurate. There are many ways to take part. Maybe it is to influence others by the way that they live. That in itself could suppress violence. Maybe they refuse to participate in evil and go to prison. Maybe they are the ones that go in and clean up after the violence and rebuild. During WWII many “righteous gentiles’ hid the children of the Jews. Or hid the Jews. Just because someone is in alternative service doesn’t mean that they aren’t getting shot at (hello, Medics!). Maybe a religious group is smuggling people underground. Are they not risking their lives as much as the guys with the guns?
      Ironically, most religious groups do these things by just doing it without fanfare or recognition. Which many times lets them accomplish what they are doing right under Evil’s nose.
      One doesn’t have to have a gun to fight evil. One doesn’t have to vote to have influence.

    9. Previous Silent Stalker*

      One of the points you made is that most religions require people to respect each other, and that’s the thing. As a Christian I believe that God loves EVERYONE, no matter what they’ve done. Who am I to say that the soldiers in the other army no longer have the right to live, in many cases simply because of what country they’re from? God loves them just as much as the people in my country.

      (I actually am not a CO or pacifist at all, but that is the general mindset)

    10. Not So NewReader*

      I just want to say, I really appreciate how everyone is giving a thinking person’s answer to this question. I have found this very interesting to read.

      Just my opinion, but I think some pacifists do a lot of the aftermath, clean up type work. For example they would donate food and clothing to people who have lost theirs.

      I think that some pacifists bend their own rules in times of crisis. For example, a pacifist might not break up a fist fight on the street. But that person would immediately seek people who would be willing to break up the fight, such as police.

      I do know one thing, you read the writings/thoughts of someone who has been a pacifist for a long time and what they think of to say is unique, interesting and informative. Their non-action teaches them A LOT. It teaches them how to think through difficult situations, in ways that a lot of us are not able to think things through. They sit at a table and talk about it.
      Interestingly, this is how wars are resolved also, everyone ends up sitting at a table and talking about it. Kind of makes you think we could skip the war part and just go sit at a table together.

      My wise friend pointed out that we will always have people who do not believe in talking out problems. These my-way-or-highway people inflict their attitudes/beliefs/practices on others with no holds barred. So we need people who are willing to go in and take these aggressors on and shut them down. But we also need people who practice gentler ways in the hopes that we will stop having these aggressors in our world. We can’t have all one type of person/approach. We need both approaches.

      If you think of the world as having a huge bunch of widely diverse needs, you start realizing that it will take a huge bunch of widely diverse people to meet those needs.

      I do agree, I had a hard time wrapping my mind around the concept of ignoring our vets and our fallen, when our vets allowed us to continue on as we are- FREE. So what that means to me is that I do not subscribe on a personal plane to that level of pacifism. I felt like I identified a part of myself. There are millions of people who support our armed services, I choose to be a part of that group.

      Hopefully, this is not too work related: I worked with a person whose religion preached non-violence. I wondered how he would handle things as work could get violent. He called others for help. If he saw a problem started to develop, he would intervene at the earliest moment to prevent escalation, indeed he did prevent some problems from getting out of hand. And he helped with stuff after the incident was over.
      I think if you are going to subscribe to this school of thought, you have to map out what you will do if faced with a crisis.

      1. Engineer Girl*

        “Not honoring” Remembrance Day as you call it is not the same as not honoring vets. You are making an external celebration the only way you can honor someone. That is never true. Have you considered that some of these pacifists work with the vets families, bring them food, housing, education? Wouldn’t you, as a vet, rather have the day to day help instead of one day a year platitudes? Which requires more effort?

    11. Vancouver Reader*

      Thank you to everyone who’s responded here. I knew that such a diverse and smart group would come up with thoughtful posts that helps me think outside of my own egocentric world.

  25. DodoBird*

    I’m rewatching Angel, season 5, because it’s comfort tv and I’m almost at the end. Whedon shows have the knack of being sad yet strangely uplifting? I don’t know–I think I just really adore Illyria.

    1. Cristina in England*

      I was depressed in 2009 and for a short time pretty much all I could do was watch Angel on DVD. I don’t have my DVDs anymore so these days I turn to Carpool Karaoke, Drag Race (the show and also the 100,000 associated YouTube videos), and the Graham Norton Show to distract me from the world.

    2. Jane D'oh!*

      I did not like Angel at all (I’m a Spuffy shipper, after all) but what he did to Fred really bothered me. It seems like Whedon can’t stand to let a strong female character NOT be corrupted, destroyed, or killed.

        1. Jane D'oh!*

          Did they do it in the comics? I’m only a bit familiar with the bigger concepts, like Twilight and the seed of wonder.

          1. Stellaaaaa*

            I never read the comics. My willingness to fall down the nerd rabbit hole has its limits :)

            I suspect they wouldn’t have killed Cordy in season 5 if there had been a season 6. Whedon knew very early on that it was Angel’s last season. Charisma’s pregnancy was apparently miserable and season 4 worked around it the best they could. I think that there just wasn’t enough time to integrate Cordy into the new setting and story wind-down after Charisma’s leave.

    3. Stellaaaaa*

      It’s really such a great and under appreciated show. I’m doing a Buffy rewatch now and it’s weird to realize that it wasn’t as good as I remembered. The language was too cutesy. It took until season four to get consistently good even if the plotting wasn’t as bombastic.

    4. BPT*

      Veronica Mars is this show for me (along with some Whedon shows like Firefly and Dollhouse). It’s such escapism and comfort tv.

      1. Juli G.*

        West Wing is usually my comfort show but it’s not my best option this week. VM is a good way to go! I’ll try that.

  26. Stephanie*

    Biking/running accessories opinions?

    1. It’s getting cold where I live. I usually bike to campus and would like to keep it up as long as possible, mostly because the buses are eh. What would I need for winter? I know at least a balaclava and good gloves. What else?

    1a. Anyone have any recommendations for larger helmets? I have an incredibly hard time finding helmets that fit between the size of my head and having a lot of hair.

    2. What do you guys recommend for running outside in the winter?

    1. Cristina in England*

      2. In winter I always run with this hideously ugly hat with a neck warmer thing on it. It looks less bankrobberish than a balaclava but does the same (covers my head and my face from the nose down). On milder days I have a fleece headband that is meant to cover my ears as well. My ears always get cold first so that comes out early in the season. Wool socks are great! You can get ones from Smartwool in different thicknesses.
      I also wear a zippered fleece jacket and thin fleece gloves. I run with a backpack (salmon xa20) which is tiny but I can put the hats and stuff in it if I get hot. I don’t run on ice, so can’t speak to that!

    2. Cath in Canada*

      Waterproof shoe covers if winter = wet where you are, and ear protection – my ears usually get colder than the rest of me when I’m cycling in winter. It’s not cold enough for a balaclava here so I just wear a fleece headband around my ears.

      Try Nutcase helmets – I have a pretty small head but even the XS is almost too big for me, even when I put in all the extra padding, so I’d imagine that the larger sizes might work. Plus they have awesome designs!

      1. Stephanie*

        Grawg! Tried the Nutacse helmet on at REI today. Almost worked, but it was a little snug. (The pattern was really cute, so I wanted it to work). I imagine it might work with a different hairstyle though (I have braids at the moment, so my hair’s even bigger than usual). But thanks for the recommendation!

    3. Natalie*

      If it’s not full on winter biking you don’t need a ton. If it’s quite cold and snowy, you’ve got a whole new wardrobe and gear to invest in.

      A jacket made specifically for biking is always good. They’re usually kind of like light rain jackets or windbreakers, but won’t feel horribly hot as you start to heat up, and they’ll generally have a longer back to cover you as you lean forward.

    4. Grumpy*

      I can recommend in the negative: Costco workout wear is awful this year. The leggings stretch out and sag and their so called wicking stuff just absorbs and holds sweat.
      I’m trying old navy warm wear out. Has a drawstring and pockets and reflective bits and Is currently on sale.

    5. Rob Lowe can't read*

      True story: I did not learn the word “balaclava” until I was 25. I called them “face hats” and no one ever corrected me. (I mean, it’s not like I was talking about them constantly, but it definitely came up.)

      1. Pennalynn Lott*

        I love how “balaclava” rolls off the tongue, but I’m going to try interjecting “face hats” wherever possible because that is awesome!

        P.S. I always just called them “that thing burglars wear, but it keeps your face warm”. :-D

    6. Alice*

      Biking advice only here – running, who knows?
      Layers are great. I get base layers from LL Bean or Uniqlo.
      I swear by LL Bean skiing socks (they go up to your knees).
      I wear a men’s helmet, large, even though I’m not a man. Try to get one with enough room (thanks to the dial at the back) to wear a thin hat underneath it. I got mine, you guessed it, at LL Bean (the thin hat, not the helmet). It covers my ears very nicely too.
      Gloves, even good ones, won’t help as much as you think. It’s just not ideal to have each finger separated. You can get big gauntlets that stay on your handlebars, into which you put your hands with smaller gloves. I never bothered – but I did make a point of carrying an extra pair of gloves for when the first pair got waterlogged. They probably won’t dry while you’re at work.
      I don’t like a traditional balaclava because of the moisture of my breathe. Instead I found a neoprene-nylon face mask. Between that and my under-helmet hat, my head is fine in all but the worst weather. If there’s wind, add a pair of ski goggles.
      USE EXTRA LIGHTS. Many drivers are idiots and don’t realize the burden is on them to operate their vehicles safely. Go way beyond your state’s legal requirements.
      Ok, one more piece of advice in this stream of consciousness – don’t exercise too hard in your nice warm cocoon. Your goal is to get from point A to Point B without making your inner layers wet and sweaty.
      Have fun and stay safe!

        1. Jen*

          I have a friend who rode to school all winter in Winnipeg and I think he got special tires for ice and fenders for slushy days. For the helmet, my family has big heads and hair :) and has had the best luck at locally owned business compared to larger chains, possibly as customer service to keep open and possibly because they have a more diverse clientele who have different needs including bikes with adaptations for disabilities etc so they also seem to have more diversity in safety items and accessories

      1. Alice*

        Hi Gold Digger – perhaps it’s because of where I live, but my take is – if it’s too icy to ride safely (with appropriate tires), it’s too icy to drive safely; if the roads are clear enough to drive safely, then – with the right gear – you can ride safely.
        That said, you may want to make some adjustments. For example, if there’s snow piles in the normal parking spaces, and cars ion the normal bike lane, make sure you’re riding in a straight line out of the cars’ door zone, even if that’s further to the left than your usual road position. Take special care at intersections and driveways with snow drifts blocking drivers’ vision, too.
        I’ll also point out that I can get off my bike and carry it for a block if I need to. I can’t do that with my car for sure!

    7. Emlen*

      For the running, invest in a few pieces of wool athletic gear (your base layers, if nothing else) vice a closetful of cheaper poly blend “tech”/”wicking” stuff. The ability to be wet (whether from sweat or precipitation) and *not* have that cause discomfort (or make you dangerously colder) will change everything.

      For warmth, remember that the air trapped in between layers is key; one form-fitting layer over another is going to do far less for you than looser layers will.

      On days when I have to constantly switch back and forth between plowed and un-plowed streets and sidewalks, I find that my trail running shoes were the happiest medium I’m going to get. They aren’t great on ice, but the solutions that do work on ice are terrible when you’re on bare pavement.

      Even if it’s not sunny, consider sunglasses. You create a bit of your own wind running, and the raw, icy air hitting your eyes can cause them to tear up, which makes delicate skin get miserably cold in a hurry.

      Last but not least, running gloves with terry/other absorbent material patches along the thumb and index finger. Your nose will run and your eyes will tear, and the ability to mop this moisture up instead of smearing it around does wonders.

    8. Ktelzbeth*

      –I’ve bike commuted in the winter in Minnesota and agree with Alice’s points, except I don’t own anything from LL Bean. My ride was short, so most of the time I put wind pants over my work slacks, a windbreaker over my work top, and wore boots, with work shoes in my bag. Except on the coldest days, I warmed myself up enough not to need more layers.
      –My helmet is a Bern, which I really like because it came with interchangeable winter and summer liners. The winter one has build in ear flaps. You do need either a balaclava or hat and scarf if the Bern helmet doesn’t work for you.
      –Look into pogies–basically accessory mittens you attach to your bike handlebars and slip your gloved hands in for an extra layer. They fixed my worst cold spot.
      –For traction, consider studded tires for your bike if you have a wider tire bike like a hybrid or mountain bike. My dream was a fat bike, but it wasn’t in the budget.
      –And I cannot say enough about having as many lights as you can possibly affix to yourself and your bike.

    9. Henrietta Gondorf*

      Running in winter: it’s all about the layers and the handkerchief! (You will need it for when your eyes water and your nose runs.)

      In terms of how much to layer, think about what you’d wear standing around if it were 20 degrees warmer and match that. (Some trial and error definitely required. I don’t get cold easily so I’m usually wearing less than others.) I also have a very thin vest that I wear on top of whatever else I’m running in so I have pockets that I can stuff my hat and mittens in as I warm up.

    10. Today's anon*

      Runner’s World has this app-like thing called What to Wear where you plug in the temperature/time of day etc. and it offers suggestions. I’ve found it works pretty well as a guide, especially at this time when it’s not freezing yet but not warm either. Also, if you are running long in the cold, remember to bring water, you won’t feel it but you will get dehydrated. I tend to start with lukewarm water because it will get freezing cold as you are out (they shut out the public water fountains in winter here).


    11. Sutemi*

      Bar mits are the one item I would recommend the most. They are like big mittens for the handlebars, and keep all the wind off your hands. This allows me to wear thin gloves underneath so I retain tactile sensitivity and can shift/brake easily. If you have bar mits, you don’t need the oversized gloves.

      I have waterproof pants that I wear over my pants or tights. They are great for keeping out both water and wind, but can be a pain if you don’t have someplace to store them once you arrive.

  27. Persephone Mulberry*

    Partnered people: what sorts of activities do you and your SO do together? I feel like DH and I are really boring because most of our togetherness revolves around TV or the latest sci-fi movie, and I’m terrible at thinking up new ideas. I’m not really looking for “date ideas” (sign up for a paint night or a wine tasting!) as much as possibilities for new shared interests that we could explore.

    1. Nicole J.*

      Mostly DH and I potter around the house, or go for walks. Not exactly fascinating. I work a lot of Saturdays so when I get home on Sunday I usually don’t want to do much.

    2. Aurora Leigh*

      Well, I’m single, but a former co-worker and her husband were building a dollhouse together and I thought that was awesome. They worked on different rooms and were always looking for miniatures.

      Not sure if that would be something you two would be interested in or not, but I think I remember that you’re pretty crafty.

    3. Cath in Canada*

      My husband and I mostly tend to hang out and watch TV, or go out for a nice dinner, but we mix it up sometimes by going to a trivia quiz, or a live storytelling event (these are becoming really popular thanks to podcasts like The Moth), or a speaker series (like a mini, local TED event). In summer we sometimes also borrow his brother’s dogs and take them for a nice long walk in the forest or on the beach.

      1. Kate*

        Yes! My husband and I used to run together, but since having children we now have to trade off (kids are still young). We were just reminiscing about running together and looking forward to being able to do that again as the kids get older.

    4. Soupspoon McGee*

      We brew beer and make cider together. It’s fun coming up with ideas for new flavors, and even the dreary parts like ingredient shopping and cleaning all the bottles are more fun with a buddy.

      1. Cath in Canada*

        We’d like to get into that too, but we’re planning to move house next year so we’re going to wait until we see how much space we have (we’re planning to downsize from a shabby old house to a smaller but nicer/newer townhouse or apartment). Any tips and tricks? My husband is an excellent, very intuitive, amateur chef and I have microbiology lab experience, so we think we’ll make a great team!

    5. Natalie*

      We have a dog, so we do dog things together – walks, dog park, training classes.

      Home projects, if you like that sort of thing. Could be ambitious – we’re building a grow area in our basement for winter vegetables and herbs. (Not that kind.) Or it could just be fixing something small together.

      Legos or some kind of model kit, if you like puttering around with your hands. Can be done in front of the TV as well.

    6. SMT*

      My husband and I also watch a lot of TV together. We also do groceries/errands together. Occasionally we work out together, and so far have done 5 mud runs together (he’s done several more by himself).

    7. Jane D'oh!*

      Hubby is an avid musician, so I am learning the drums to be able to have “jam sessions” with him. I’ll never be John Bonham, but I can get the basics down enough to keep a beat for him.

    8. Jessesgirl72*

      We’ve tried to add board games and puzzles to the mix. We also enjoy camping together- we started in a tent. It’s still inexpensive, but a change of venue sometimes helps you break a rut.

      We went to a cool craft show this morning that has a focus on re-purposing stuff, with vintage pieces also thrown in, in addition to the usual soaps and jewelry and stuff. My husband likes handcrafts anyway, but especially likes this show.

    9. Elkay*

      We both got into photography a few years ago. Computer games and board games. TV is a staple for us though so you’re not alone there!

    10. AliceBD*

      Not partnered, but I took some Spanish classes at the local community college — the ones designed for fun/work, not the ones for college credit. The Spanish 1 class had several couples doing it as a couples activity, and a few of them stayed for Spanish 2. The price might have seemed high at first but it worked about to be about $10 a session or $5 an hour.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        My husband and I took a computer course together in the late 80s. That was fun. And we got a lot of neat comments about doing this as a couple. He got the better grade, which was predictable, because he excelled at taking tests. (He could pass tests when he barely knew the subject. He was good at taking tests.) But I had a broader understanding of the course than he did and I would try stuff that he never even thought of. So we both won in our own way.

    11. danr*

      We food shop and cook together when we can. We each have some dishes that are our specialties and some where we work together. We try to eat out once a week, usually on Fridays. It’s nice to wrap up the week and not cook or clean up. With the end of baseball, we have time for movies on the weekend. We make it special with popcorn and wine. Special times are going into the city for museums, a play or opera. The rest of the time we’re just home or out and about, but not worrying about being “boring”.

    12. Temperance*

      We’re board game geeks. There are so many co-op or two person games out there. Pandemic and Fluxx (ESPECIALLY Cthulu) are favorites.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        This reminds me I should dig out Pandemic. We stopped playing for awhile after losing so many freaking times in a row. And I should add Cthulu FLUXX to my list. We have normal, Holiday, and friends recommended Zombies, since apparently the Zombies can win. ;)

        1. Girasol*

          Some friends got us into Pandemic and it’s a favorite in our house too. When the toxic competition at work is over the top, a game of Pandemic, where all the players work together to beat the diseases, is such a nice counterpoint.

      2. Ktelzbeth*

        7 Wonders Duel is a nice two person game, though it’s only playable with two.
        Dominion works for two.
        My husband loves crayon rails, but the often 5+ hour commitment can be beyond my attention span.

    13. Shayland*

      My partner and I are also big sit around and watch TV, or happen to be in the same room while we read or surf the web. So I’m not the best to give advice on ways to “spice things up” as it were, but if you’re comfortable and happy with the way you spend the time you do have, then there’s no pressure to change it. :)

    14. Vancouver Reader*

      We’re the boring sit and watch tv together people, but we also go to some hockey games. Do you like to cook together? Maybe take some cooking classes together? When my husband was doing more woodwork, he’d try and teach me some of the basics of woodworking. I however, would never be able to teach him how to knit. :)

    15. Jillociraptor*

      Seconding all the board game couples. We get in streaks of playing games almost every night. There have been some video games that we’ve enjoyed playing together — lots of the LEGO games are fun for multi-player. We’ve done puzzles and actual LEGO kits in the past, too. Our office is full of LEGO Star Wars constructions!

      There’s a farmer’s market a few blocks from our place that we like to go to on the weekends. We pick out the ingredients for one nice-ish meal and then cook it sometime during the weekend/early in the week.

      We also like just talking with each other. We both work at the same university, and then also both have “side hustles” with similar end goals, so we spend a lot of time picking each other’s brains and bouncing ideas off one another.

    16. nom de anon*

      My partner and I are both interested in building/making things, but in very different formats (mediums? materials? Think welding vs knitting.) But we really enjoy the brainstorming and problem-solving aspects of each other’s projects, so we spend a lot of time bouncing ideas off each other and talking out design issues. We also both have a tendency to make projects more and more elaborate, so it’s nice to have the other person be a reality check.

      Also, we tend to make cooking/meal prep a time to connect. He does pretty much all the day-to-day cooking for us; I’m happy to play prep cook, but in our tiny kitchen even that role is pretty limited. So instead, I get to be DJ! Lately we’ve been starting with Spotify’s weekly playlist, which is supposed to be customized based on what you like but mostly we make fun of it, and then I find weird techno songs and he requests epic metal ballads. We both get skip/veto power, and fortunately our tastes overlap enough that we end up with some pretty interesting mixes (which is probably why Spotify is confused). There’s also some exceptionally bad dancing. We do this around 2-3x a week, since we usually go out once or twice a week with friends and do leftovers or simple meals the rest of the time. Basically, it turns something that’s a chore into a playful time to connect, and at the end we get dinner!

    17. the gold digger*

      Primo and I have almost nothing in common. Now that the election is over, however, he is going to make good on that promise from SIX YEARS AGO to take dance classes with me.

      We take tennis lessons every summer. We like to go on walks. We like to cook and eat. We talk about politics a lot, although that is not my favorite topic.

      But mostly, we do different activities independently. We just really like each other when we are together.

    18. Sorgatani*

      My brain flicked to board games and tabletop miniatures. The fella and I started painting some warhammer armies together a long time ago and had to take a hiatus – but he bought Warhammer Quest: Silver Tower recently, so we’re getting back into gaming and painting again.

      Since you are into TV/Sci-fi, maybe you could go to conventions and/or cosplay together.

      Fella just got home, and he said “BINGE!” Pick a show and make a day/weekend of watching it.

      We also reckon, if you both have computers and/or decent internet, how about co-op Steam games.

      1. Dr. KMnO4*

        I second the Warhammer Quest and miniature armies recommendation! My SO got me into Warhammer (Fyreslayers rule!) and I love painting the models. We have a great time building and painting and questing and battling together.

    19. Tempanon Again*

      There’s not much my boyfriend (of 12 years) and I can do together that doesn’t end in some kind of tension and conflict. Even watching TV or movies is stressful (for me) because [like now, in the other room] HE TURNS THE VOLUME UP WAY TOO LOUD, or he just wants to watch cop-type shows (which are not my thing).

      We can’t read books together because it takes him 10 minutes to read a page that I absorb in under a minute. We can’t build things together because he doesn’t believe in reading instructions, and I don’t believe in wasting material and time. We can’t cook together because he thinks it’s a race, and I’ve been physically injured by him throwing pans into the sink or rushing to-and-fro and I was in the way. We can’t go for a nice walk together because he won’t slow down (I’m 6 inches shorter than he is), plus he just yammers the whole time, repeating things he’s already said, instead of enjoying being outdoors and commenting on the plants or the critters. We can’t even go for a walk and play Pokemon Go together because he becomes All About The Game and I cease to exist. (Oh, did I mention that he has off-the-charts ADHD?)

      So pretty much the things we do together are maintain the house (in separate but equal ways) and take care of our pets (again, in separate but equal ways).

      We tried going to festivals (of which there are many in my area, at least one a week), but I kept wanting to talk to a million people and he kept wanting to. . .? Leave early? Stay in a bubble? B*tch about how much it cost?

      What I *wish* we could do is work on jigsaw puzzles together, or play board games made for two. Or go throw a Nerf football in the backyard. Ooh, or bat around Squoosh (?) balls. Or put up a dart board and practice throwing. Or even find a way to politely work together to de-clutter one corner of a room.

    20. EmmaLou*

      We took a ballroom dance class and that was really fun once I convinced him that we both look dorky, not just him and we aren’t trying to be Fred and Ginger, we’re just having fun. No grades!

      We also read aloud to each other. If our budget and things were a bit better, I’d love to take some art classes together and we’ve talked about taking a language class. We like to learn. AND we watch DVDs together too!

      Have you tried a “together” game like Forbidden Island?

    21. LizB*

      Board games, TV or movies, pub trivia nights, walks when the weather is nice, trying out new restaurants, concerts (more his thing, but I’ll come to some), plays (more my thing, but he’ll come to some), co-op video games, escape rooms, running when I feel up to it, playing with our cat, sharing silly memes or cat pictures.

    22. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      Walk the dog and kid, grocery shopping, eating together. Once in a long while, eating out or going to a museum or aquarium. On a grander scale, travel a couple times a year for fun (family visits do not count). We’re pretty boring as far as combined interesting pursuits but we also do our own thing quite a bit and enjoy hanging out and being people together.

    23. misspiggy*

      At weekends we take turns making breakfast and bringing it up to the other one in bed. We sit and eat and have long rambling conversations, triggered by the news or what’s on the radio. We often end up turning that off to concentrate on what we’ve ended up talking about. It’s a different dynamic to sitting side by side watching the telly, and I love it.

    24. Fiona the Lurker*

      Husband and I have taken up long-distance walking; I like the exercise, he bought a new camera and is getting seriously into (and seriously good at) taking pictures with it. We’re in an area where we have access to innumerable public footpaths, many of which take in interesting historical sites or offer the possibility of encounters with wildlife, and there’s enough variety that we’ll probably never need to walk the same path twice!

    25. Dorth Vader*

      My husband and I play PokémonGo together! It gets us out of the house and into our awesome town (and usually comes with a side of coffee/dinner for us). We also like two-player board/card games, especially cooperative ones like Pandemic.
      But we also do a lot of sci-fi/tv show watching! I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with it.

    26. Kyrielle*

      Play Pokemon Go. Play online games (we used to – now with kids, I’m looking forward to when they can and we can go back to it!). Read books side-by-side. Cuddle and watch a TV show or movie. Go for a walk, especially in a park or other lovely greenspace (which is our personal preference, may not be yours!).

      Board games and card games. (The traditional ones if you like, but if you want to branch out – Dominion, Tsuro, Thunderstone, or Pandemic which is cooperative.)

      Jigsaw puzzles if you like them. Or Izzi, which is a fascinating puzzle tile-game and which I have yet to actually form a full square in (haven’t had it long).

      And for shared interests – explore also interests that *connect* instead of being the same, something where you can be in the same space and doing something together, but doing different aspects of the same thing. (Photography is one of those hobbies that melds well with several others since photographic evidence is often nice, but there are others that go well together.)

    27. The IT Manager*

      Right now I play softball or go on group bike rides. There are a few couples that play softball together, but a good number of couples and families who do the rides together. These are social bike rides that go fairly slowly and encourage talking to the rider next to you so it doesn’t require as much skill as softball might. I also enjoy the Moth and other storytelling shows around town and comedy shows.

      I’m not partnered right now but if my partner isn’t down for either of those activities, there’s always kayaking or Standup Paddleboarding, disc golf, and actual golf that I would like to do learn but don’t have time for. I don’t want to be joined at the hip, but i do desire something to do together beyond tv or movies even though it would be great to have some common interests there too.

    28. TeaLady*

      My partner and I go geocaching together. It gets us out walking in dome fabulous places, and we make a good team: he’s quite gungho and will get into all sorts of places, whereas I will stop and observe and notice something out of place… equally for puzzle caches, I do the brain work, he does the find!

    29. Anion*

      Haven’t seen this one yet:

      My husband and I play games “together” on the PS3. Most games aren’t set up so you can play with/against each other in the same room (though some are) so what we do is, he does the actual playing while I look at an online walkthrough and tell him what to do/where to go next/offer whatever tips etc. I can find online. Sometimes we switch back and forth with working the controls/advising. (I usually also start my own game in another save slot, so I get to do all the stuff/learn how to play, too, plus it’s really fun.) The person not playing is in charge of things like spotting medkits/whatever health thing the character needs (and advising when it’s time to health up), chests to loot, collectible items, that kind of thing.

      It’s actually way more fun than it probably sounds. For me it’s kind of like watching a movie, only we get to decide together what happens next. I get really into it, too, looking up reviews and reading stuff online about the game and picking our next game. We especially like games with open worlds that players can just wander around in; last year we spent over 120 hours playing Far Cry 3–still our favorite game–because the world is so gorgeous; it literally felt like a vacation we took together. We’ve played through that one twice now (and I have my own game on that one that I’m halfway through). We played Far Cry 4, too, which we didn’t love quite as much, but it was still great, and there are more choices to make in that one.

      We’ve played Batman Arkham Asylum, Arkham City, and Arkham origins; Red Dead Redemption; those two Far Cry games; and we’re currently almost done with L.A. Noire, after which we’re going to play Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag. (Since we don’t have a PS4 and can’t afford one at the moment, we haven’t been able to play Arkham Knight or Far Cry Primal yet, phooey.) We’ve also played the Batman games on New Game+ and we take turns there with the big fights, which can be pretty tough at that level.

      Again, it’s way more fun than it probably sounds. It really works for us; we have a great time doing this together–and it really does feel for us like we play this *together.* I know I said it before, but it really feels like a vacation we take. And it’s inspired me to start playing on my own–I’ve finished Arkham Origins and Arkham City myself, which is pretty cool.

      I definitely recommend it, because we have a blast. We kick the kids out of the room at 8/8:30 to get ready for bed and we fire up the PS3, and we’re gone together until bedtime (with a short break to kiss the babies goodnight/tuck them in).

  28. Anxiously Anxious*

    If you have anxiety and treat it with medication, when did you realize it was time to get medication? I’ve been struggling with anxiety for about 6 years now (I’m 28) and I’m starting to think it’s time to treat my anxiety with medication. Therapy has only helped me so much (but I still consider it a valuable tool).

    I don’t quite understand HOW to get medication for anxiety, though. I’m a Canadian and I’ve never had a family doctor. Can I just go to a medi-centre? Do I have to find a family doctor? I have no idea how to find a family doctor and I know that it can be very difficult to do that in Canada. What should I be doing?

    1. Mirilla*

      I’m in the US but my family doctor prescribes it for me. I could also see a psychologist who could provide it as well, but I haven’t done that, as I have neither the money nor time for talk therapy right now (although I know it would be extremely helpful and I’m trying to find a way to make it work.)

      I too struggle with anxiety. I can only say when it’s interfering with your daily life and relationships to the point where you are uncomfortable it would likely be time to discuss with a doctor.

    2. Sunflower*

      You should ask your therapist. I’m in the US- I tried medication from my primary care doctor and it didn’t help. My therapist suggested I see a psychiatrist who might be able to recommend a better medication since they specialize in that sort of stuff.

      1. ck*


        Ask your therapist for a psychiatrist recommendation. You should not have a primary care doctor prescribe you anxiety medications. They do not have the appropriate training. You should not go into a walk-in clinic (not sure what a ?medi-center is) and ask for these medications, because they should be prescribed by a specialist who will continue to follow you long term. And it is best to get a good psychiatrist… not any random psychiatrist. So I am hoping that if you like your therapist, you trust their referral to a psychiatrist.

        And … you really should have a family doctor. Once you get the anxiety under control, start asking friends/relatives that you respect (I usually aim for folks about 10-20 years older than me) if they have a primary care doctor they would recommend. THAT is the best way to get a new doctor. And then make your first appointment for general check-up.

        FYI – feelings of anxiety can also be exacerbated by other medical conditions (ex. thyroid problems, dehydration etc…), so if your anxiety is going to involve medicines for treatment, it’s a good idea to have a primary care doc that knows you too.

    3. Shayland*

      My parents required that I try medication before getting a service dog. That’s not a great anwser but…

    4. Vancouver Reader*

      It is very difficult to find a doctor, but the website for the College of Physicians and Surgeons usually lists all the doctors in your area and who’s taking new patients.

    5. cleo*

      I’m not sure I can identify one thing that made me ready to try medication. I have anxiety related to childhood trauma and PTSD and after 20+ years of various types of therapies (on and off, not continuous) I hit a really rough patch 3 years ago that really didn’t respond to anything that had worked previously. I was slowly starting to think I need to try something more when I happened to see my general practitioner for my annual exam after a particularly bad episode. After talking with her I decided to try it. It took a few months to find the right medication, but it’s been a year since finding the right one and while it’s not a miracle cure, it’s pretty unbelievable what a difference it made.

      Even though I had a good experience with a generalist, I second all the recs to ask for a referral for a psychiatrist.

    6. INTP*

      The first time I was treated, I felt like the anxiety was situational and didn’t want to go on medication for a situational problem, so I waited until I was in my doctor’s office sobbing and begging for a note to get me out of school responsibilities because I felt like I just couldn’t go on another day. Don’t wait that long! I hadn’t slept more than a few hours at a stretch in months.

      I’m not familiar with the Canadian medical system, but in the US, a clinic usually won’t prescribe psych meds in my experience (I couldn’t even get refills for meds I was already on when I was between doctors). A family doctor or psychiatrist would be the way to go. But again, I have no idea if it works the same in Canada.

    7. Genebec*

      For me, it was when it reached the point where it was interfering in my daily life and nothing I was doing was helping. Nowadays, I know I need to up my meds when the anxiety becomes to intrusive, for example, if someone is meeting me and they’re late and my first thought is “what if they died in an accident” rather than “what if they’re stuck in traffic.”

      No help on the Canada issue, sorry.

  29. Michele*

    I’m debating about throwing away photos of friends who have cut ties with me – wedding, get-togethers, etc. Is this a regrettable thing to do?

    1. fposte*

      What’s your goal? Are they taking up room you need? Visually cluttering your photostream or archives? Or is this more about emotionally putting them out of your life?

      I think if you had a friendship with them, even if it’s ended that was an important part of your life. That doesn’t mean you have to keep the photographs, but it’s kind of cool down the decades to be able to look back at those phases. However, I’d shove the photos to the back of a box or iPhoto in the meantime, and I wouldn’t keep the photos at the expense of something else that was more valuable to me.

    2. bassclefchick*

      Not at all. I had to cut ties with someone after 30 years of being friends because she tried to make my wedding all about her. I got rid of all pictures I had of her and everything that reminded me of her. OK, I still have the gift she gave me for my wedding shower. But it was really practical and I use it all the time. I just conveniently “forget” who gave it to me. Best decision I ever made.

    3. Emma*

      Because I am a completist, I scanned my pics first just in case I ever wanted those photos again, or if someone else did. (I am, completely by accident, the Keeper of the Photos.) But then I trashed every last one. The photos now take up just a tiny portion of my portable storage thingy, and not volumes of albums.

    4. Lady Kelvin*

      I think you should ask yourself, am I angry when I look at this photo or do I smile at the remembrance of a fun event or memory. Then toss what makes you angry and keep what makes you happy. Not being friends with someone downstairs mean you can’t acknowledge that you once had fun together.

      1. Overeducated*

        Maybe hide them for a little bit though, if the wounds are very recent, things could turn around, or every thought makes you upset.

    5. Pennalynn Lott*

      If it’s not a matter of of a lack of physical or digital storage space, then just put the photos in a box (or DVD, or appropriate storage medium). There may be memories tied to the photos that have nothing to do with the people, and you’ll be grateful for the images in decades to come.

      I’m 50, and I wished I’d saved (and labeled!) hundreds of photos from my life, regardless of how I eventually felt about the people in the photos.

    6. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      I tend to get rid of photos of those people because I don’t necessarily look back at the time together fondly if we got to the point of needing to cut ties, vs drifting apart. But that tends to be a few years after the fact when the decision isn’t made in the heat of the moment and I’m reasonably sure we’re not going to end back in friendship again.

    7. Anono-me*

      I understand feeling that all pictures are important and should not ever be disposed of feeling.

      What if you scanned them into a drive, then sent it to whomever has your “Stuff I would need in case of a flood/fire box”? That way the pictures are out of your space, but not 100% destroyed.

      Then, throw, shred, burn or flush the originals to your heart’s content.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I toss anything that usually makes me feel sad. Sometimes things can make me feel sad for a short bit, but then I level out and it’s okay. Other times, I realize that I have had something for ten years, I felt sad about it then and I STILL feel sad out about it. So out it goes.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Whooops. Wanted to say, it’ not an all or nothing thing. You could through out half the pictures now and see how that goes. You can be deliberate , for example, let’s say you have 1o pics of your former friend’s dog. Toss 5, keep 5. Or pick out the 3 nicest and toss the rest.

        I have done a lot of this type of sorting. I went through the pics a while ago. I filled 2- 30 gallon garbage bags. I am done looking at pics for the time being. I will go back and look again in a few years and see if I still want all the ones that remain.

        I take a lot less pics because they are not that much fun and they are a burden to sort.

      2. Michele*

        Thanks all. One set involves the wedding of an ex-friend who cut ties with me, but also I blame for losing a mutual friend. She has a tendency to pick fights with people, and I’ve seen her vaguebook or cripe about people on her Facebook page (I’ve been unfriended and blocked).

        I was talking to another close friend of ours, and he asked me I did something that I’m assuming this ex-friend said about me.

  30. Rosie the Rioter*

    Any recommendations for cleaning a glass stovetop? There are a few cooked on marks on ours and some white stains/streaks (not sure if that is permanent…). I tried a mix of baking soda and water, but that didn’t seem to do anything.

    1. Jessesgirl72*

      My MIL suggested using some liquid dish soap, of the type that promises to get off baked-on food in X minutes. She dilutes with a little water and then lets it sit on the marks.

    2. fposte*

      I like Soft Scrub for a lot of tricky surfaces, and it looks like people recommend the All-Purpose Kitchen and Bath version for glass cooktops.

    3. CAA*

      I use Cerama Bryte. A sample came with the cooktop and I’ve just kept on using the same brand. I spread it on pretty thick and let it almost dry before polishing it off.

      My cooktop also came with a razor blade in a plastic holder for scraping off anything that is baked on. If you can feel it when you run your fingers over it, you can scrape it off with a razor blade. Just angle the blade so it’s about 20 to 30 degrees from the surface, similar to what you would do to scrape stickers off a car window. The white marks may be scratches in the glass, which will not come out.

    4. Melody Pond*

      Try Bon Ami? Or a mixture like this:

      – 1 part baking soda
      – 3 parts washing soda
      – enough liquid castile soap until you get a texture like toothpaste

    5. Anonymous of course*

      The cleaner made especially for smooth tops really does work the best on the stubborn marks. There is a scraper (like a paint scrapper) for the baked on spillage and a thin sponge for the cleaner. I use when needed but regular cleaning I do with liquid dish soap and hat water.

    6. Lady Kelvin*

      A magic eraser by Mr. clean or off brand, it might take some elbow grease but they work really well on the stove top

    7. Emily*

      Some of the appliance makers have cleaning kits for these. Affresh (made by Whirlpool Corp) offers a cooktop cleaner with special scrubby pads.

    8. TL -*

      Barkeeper’s friend. Scrub once with a wet sponge, then mix it with water and let it soak for 5 minutes, and scrub again. LOTS of elbow grease – you should be out of breath.

    9. the gold digger*

      I use Brillo pads. I hate that darn stovetop so, so much. The guy who re-did our house redirected the gas line that had gone to the kitchen and put in a horrible electric smoothtop stove. Obviously, he knew nothing about cooking.

      Anyhow, I use Brillo because I HATE THE STOVE and I want it to hurt. But also because I have discovered that is the fastest, easiest way to clean it. And it’s not scratched.

  31. Cath in Canada*

    Ideas for celebrating a landmark birthday?

    I’d thought about renting a big house somewhere pretty for a weekend and inviting some of my closest friends in a very low-pressure, no-obligation kind of way. But I just don’t think it’s going to fly, because only a few of my closest friends know each other (although I don’t think it would be a big problem), and a couple of them have SOs I’d rather not share accommodation with (one is a lying cheating bastard I don’t think my friend should have taken back, one is prone to trying to engage all comers in complicated conversations about whichever conspiracy theory he believes that month, and one is a very senior colleague of mine who I like very much but it would be awkward as hell to share bathrooms and breakfasts with him). I’d like to do something more than the usual dinner/drinks though, and I’d really like to get out of the city.

    I’m currently leaning towards a 2 or 3 night romantic getaway with my husband over the actual day of my birthday (it’s midweek) followed by an evening event in town that weekend, but that’s about as far as I’ve got!

      1. Cath in Canada*

        Tons of hiking trails, but the weather might be a problem in February (I’ve gone snow shoeing for my birthday before, and it was awesome – but when I tried to do it again the following year it was pouring rain that day. Yay Vancouver). I like the sculpture garden idea but I don’t know if we have anything like that – will check though!

    1. Vancouver Reader*

      I like your idea of a getaway with hubby first. Maybe go to Tofino for some storm watching or to Tigh-na-mara for a spa treatment? I don’t know how formal or casual you want to do it, but there are comedy dinner and a show places (Giggle Dam) if you want light hearted and not have to speak to your friends’ SO, or book out a small restaurant just for you and your friends.

    2. Theguvnah*

      Maybe a cool activity like Escape the Room or something similar followed by a party?
      A stadium suite for a concert or show that a bunch of you can hang out in for a VIP experience?
      In ny I’ve done a really fun cooking class competition in largish groups or, a guided wine tasting? (Onbiousky this is regional)?
      Rent a party bus and go to some favorite locations (pub crawl style or something more refined)?
      Private party at some new museum exhibit you are interested in?

  32. Marche*

    Has anyone been watching Humans? If you like Westworld, you might like it as well. Season 2 is airing in the UK but won’t be on in America until February, but I really enjoy it.

  33. Chocolate Teapot*

    Currently watching the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance and managed to start blubbing 12 minutes in, which is a record. Usually it doesn’t start until the Act of Remembrance and the falling poppies at the end.

  34. Mirilla*

    Anyone else out there totally unenthused about the holidays this year? I am totally not into it at all. I’m in denial that Thanksgiving is almost here. I’ve had a hell year and I really am not up to celebrating. Dysfunctional family drama with my personality disordered family of origin doesn’t help and makes me quite frankly dread the holidays anyway. Plus I had a goal that I would be gone from current job by December and I’m still there, so there’s that. I think if I start hearing Christmas music on the radio I’m going to throw up!

    1. Sibley*

      so, if you haven’t already, go poke around Captain Awkward’s blog. If nothing else, it’ll help you feel like you’re not alone (cause you’re not).

      You do what makes sense for you. You can totally have a great Christmas that has zero resemblance to what everyone else thinks would be great.

    2. Stellaaaaa*

      It’s strange this year. My mom hadn’t wanted to host this year but her family wouldn’t hear her when she said no so they’re coming anyway. It’s easy enough for me to avoid (I’m a champion sleeper and everyone assumes I’m sleeping if I shut myself in a random room) but I’m not looking forward to dealing with cranky old people.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        “[H]er family wouldn’t hear her”???

        Sounds like mom should take a cruise over Thanksgiving week this year! :D

        I’m only slightly kidding.

    3. Rosie the Rioter*

      YES. I usually love Thanksgiving, but every time it comes up, I just sort of distract myself with something else. I have no real urge to travel to see people or to even cook.

    4. Temperance*

      I pretty much went nuclear on most of my family this week, with the exception of my sister. My in-laws recently “asked” us to pitch in with elder care and financially help out, but they did something that we find morally reprehensible, so we aren’t giving in to their ask. They don’t think men and women are equal, so this woman isn’t going to waste her time giving them emotional and physical labor.

      We’re having dinner with friends instead of our toxic, racist, sexist family members. I can’t wait.

    5. Shayland*

      I’m excited for the holiday’s because it’s when I’ll get to see my immediate family. We’re really close. Recently us kids (18-20) have been comforting our mom through her job loss and some really intense shit going down on her side of the family. (Her asshole brother recently went through something like winning the lottery, in terms of getting A LOT of money, but not at all like winning the lottery because something very bad happened to him before he got the money. And he’s completely screwed over his kids and has been threatening to sue his siblings and it’s so much DRAMA.)

      Anyway, it will be just us. And haven’t been super holiday’s or celebrations since I was about ten years old. I even forgot last Friday was my birthday until I called my mom to discuss How To Adult. For Christmas we just make cinnamon rolls on the morning for breakfast and hang out at a family. I think I even got my present in advanced.

      So, uh… I’m really sorry your family is dysfunctional. I feel you about being unenthusiastic about the holidays, but I have totally different reasons for that, it seems.

      Anyway, stay strong and stay safe! <3

    6. Lemon Zinger*

      I’m a bit anxious about Thanksgiving, which I’m celebrating with my boyfriend’s family. Last year, we all went to a buffet which was truly horrible, so this year we’ve decided to cook and do it at their home. Unfortunately, I am the only avid chef in the family, so the burden to make most of the food falls on me. I’ve never been in charge of Thanksgiving before (I was always my mom’s right hand in the past) so we’ll see how this goes!

      I’ve made a Pinterest board to organize recipes that I’ll make– several will be made in advance.

      Christmas is NOT exciting me whatsoever. My SO and I are going to my parents’ house and I’m dreading being around my extended family there. They make me anxious. My grandfather and uncle are very stern and my parents seem to be perpetually disappointed in me. Nobody approves of my SO and I living together, so I’ll be sleeping on the floor while my boyfriend gets the bed. Oh well.

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          I have to travel and cook, too! Not my favorite, but we deal.

          I do miss at least having a home-sized kitchen to cook in, though. Last year my parents moved to a retirement home, and their kitchen is now smaller even than my NYC apartment kitchen. I could go to my brother’s house (he and my SIL host) and cook, but then I’d be fighting my SIL for the oven. The pain in the tail of dealing with her is greater than that of cooking in a postage stamp-sized kitchen and then bringing the food over, so there it is.

          The day itself is always fun (we’re a big immigrant family and there are lots of kids to play with), but getting there is a struggle!

          1. OhBehave*

            There are plenty of things a non-avid cook can help with. Peeling potatoes, cleaning up(!), etc. Don’t slave away while they sit around napping. If you do, you’ll be doing the lion’s share of the holiday cooking for years.

            Just curious as to why you have to sleep on the floor at Christmas?

            1. Lemon Zinger*

              Thanks for the advice! I’m going to ask my SO’s parents to take care of the turkey, mashed potatoes, rolls, and a couple other things. I’m sure cleaning up will be a group activity!

              My parents do not approve of us living together (and all that entails), so when we are at their house for Christmas, I have to respect their rules. I’m giving my SO the guest bed and I’ll sleep on a pad on the floor in the front room. It wasn’t in our budget to stay at a hotel, which would be quite far from my parents’ home anyway.

    7. Lady Kelvin*

      We don’t go home for Thanksgiving, we usually have friendsgiving because we were in grad school and most of us either couldn’t afford to fly home or were international and had no idea what thanksgiving was about, so I’d make a turkey and pies and have everyone bring a dish. This year neither of us are in grad school for the first time and much to our surprise most of our friends are going home or having family in town so it looks like we are on our own. Which is totally fine with me. My parents are only 5 hours away but super stressful so I don’t want to spend a weekend at home with them where we’d have to sleep on the floor.

      For Christmas we are going skiing in Italy with the in-laws and then spending the holiday in Germany where they live. We haven’t spent Christmas with them since they moved abroad 5 years ago, so we are looking forward to it as well. I’m a bit stressed about how to manage our current estrangement from his sister, who will not be there, but overall we are going to have fun.

    8. Stephanie*

      I’ve been there before. When I was out of work, the holidays were just stressful because it felt like there was pressure to be cheerful and spend lots of money (and when I was out of work, I was neither cheerful nor flush). Last couple of years, I was working at Big Shipping Company and the holidays meant crazy hours.

    9. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Yup. I’m basically sitting Thanksgiving out. My reasons are rooted in practicality– I’m working a retail job that means I can’t make a 6-hour drive for Thanksgiving, nor can I risk a flight to family in Florida– but I also just… can’t. I guess I could technically take that flight to Florida, but there are members of my family I cannot stomach right now. I’ve had an invitation to a friend’s house, but she’s not a close friend and her husband is kind of rude, so I don’t know what I’ll do. Buy a turkey sandwich and snuggle with the pooch, maybe?

    10. Red*

      Yeah, I’m not feeling it either. We alternate thanksgiving between my family and my boyfriend’s family, and this year is his turn. His parents are divorced, and instead of eating with his lovely father and his lady (who is a truly fantastic person), we’re going to his mom’s house. He dislikes his mother (with good reasons), but is patient and forgiving with her because he’s a good son. I have no such loyalties and do not like this woman or her family. I know politics are a no-no on this website, but they’ll be a big deal at that dinner (it’s a rather xenophobic & homophobic lot, and alcohol doesn’t improve the situation) and I cannot dread it enough. Oh, and they’re still weirded out by me being a vegetarian, so there will be delightful dinner conversation about that, I’m sure. I’m just hoping I get really drunk, choke on stuffing, and am carted away in an ambulance about an hour into the festivities.

      Oh, and I’ll probably have to dress up. F that. I miss my small, friendly family that has a dress code of “pajamas are acceptable, jeans are encouraged.”

    11. manderw*

      I’m not feeling this year either. With all of the things that have happened this year I’m feeling very pessimistic and not the least bit cheerful. We were thinking of going to the US for Xmas but I’m not sure that we will be able to, and in fact I’m a bit nervous about doing so right now. But I did buy myself a new glass tree ornament (I started buying myself one or two every year just because I like them). That was before the Event Which Will Not be Named but maybe I can recover a bit of optimism.

    12. Alone for Turkey Day*

      Any recommendations for how to get through Thanksgiving if you have zero plans? Husband has to work internationally (Mexican and British crew, so no day off for American Thanksgiving). Every single year past there were Friendsgivings going on, and of course the year I actually need it there isn’t a a single one happening in my area. So I’ll be alone. I’m not a big holiday person as it is, just kind of bummed to be 100% by myself? How do I make it fun? My plan so far is movie theater trip and hike with the dog. Maybe Chinese food?

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        That’s close to what I did when I was young and single over the holidays for a few years, I got a nice takeout meal and watched movies at home. It’s like a staycation!

      2. A.C. Stefano*

        I made a turkey pizza the one time I had Thanksgiving alone. Roasted turkey breast, broccoli, re-hydrated cranberries, and gravy as the base, smothered in cheese. Easy and delicious.

    13. Elizabeth West*

      I am. I have to go to Thanksgiving because it’s my dad’s 80th birthday and all he wants is a picture of us. We’re doing everything on Saturday, so I probably won’t even go over there until Friday morning. Christmas we alternate, so this year I’m on my own. What I usually do is make myself a nice dinner and watch A Christmas Story.

      I am so incredibly sick of being on my own / going to family things alone that I wish I could travel at that time of year.

    14. Chaordic One*

      I think that partly it is because we’ve had unseasonably warm weather so far this year and no snow at all. It is not unusual for it to snow at least once in September, and there is almost always a good snowfall before Halloween. I dread thanksgiving with my Republican aunts and cousins and my elderly liberal Democrat father. He’s sort of like a liberal Archie Bunker. (I think he might be coming down with something and we’ll have to bow out this year. heh, heh.)

      I do tend to get bogged down with all the extra work, but I’m looking forward to having a few quiet winter moments.

  35. Sparkly Librarian*

    Soooo, I’ve been eating my feelings this week. So far my feelings taste like crappy supermarket croissants, ice cream, mediocre pumpkin pie from Trader Joes’s, cupcakes with purple frosting, and mini Three Musketeers bars. I am also making a mixed-berry pie that will be leaving the house in an hour or so because I don’t actually like blueberries.

    How about y’all? What do your feelings taste like?

    1. Cath in Canada*

      Leftover Halloween candy (we only got one group of kids this year, so we have tons of the stuff left even after taking some to work). We’re down to just the M&Ms now, so we’re slowing down and will have run out soon, which is probably a good thing.

        1. Pennalynn Lott*

          Sadly, all of my “comfort” foods end up tasting like acid reflux this week. Thanks for helping me describe it! :-)

    2. Lily Evans*

      Chocolate croissants from the bakery up the street from me, Trader Joe’s corn chip dippers (I’m obsessed with them right now, they’re like frito’s but even better), and Thai food.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        Speaking of chocolate and corn chips, Ritter Sport now makes a candy bar that is bits of corn chips in milk chocolate. It is now fighting a championship battle against the Ritter butter biscuit bar for first place in my affections.

    3. So Very Anonymous*

      I am actually really struggling with this because I have prediabetes and am supposed to be super-careful about carbs but DAMMIT THIS WEEK MY FEELINGS DO NOT TASTE LIKE VEGETABLES.

      1. Rob Lowe can't read*

        My feelings didn’t taste like vegetables this week, either. They tasted like pizza and take-our Chinese food and cheddar cheese. Also too much coffee.

    4. Jane D'oh!*

      I’m trying to convince myself that they taste like frozen berries, but I’m pretty sure I will soon cave in and admit that they taste like ice cream.

    5. Emma*

      Spicy steak, apparently, since I’ve broken my long fast-food avoidance streak and hit up Chipotle’s like three times this week.

    6. AnAppleADay*

      Mine taste like gluten when I should be gluten-free :-/. Schwan’s Chocolate Peanut butter ice cream, pizza, donuts, carrot cake muffins with cream cheese frosting, Schwan’s chicken fries and tater tots.

      So yeah, feel really crappy right now because I’ve been eating my feelings as well. Six weeks ago I had a bad feeling about November 8th so I asked for the week off.

      Now, I’ve got insomnia and need extra medication to sleep then sleep half the day away. I probably would have done better working this week?

      My life was already stressful. It’s going be very difficult for me to snap out of this funk. Thinking of going on an internet diet. Started Netflix binge watching yesterday which is just another escape.

      Luckily, I know myself well enough that eventually, I’ll come out of it. Sometimes, stronger than ever.

      Grieving processes take time.

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        Sometimes a new Netflix show just hits the spot. I bought the first season of This is Us from Amazon Prime, and it felt like self-care. I bingewatched it first, and now my wife and I are watching together.

    7. Lemon Zinger*

      REALLY low-quality Halloween chocolate I got from a volunteer event. I have a dairy sensitivity too… ugh. I think I’ll let my SO finish them.

    8. Melody Pond*

      A very nice homemade chocolate cake that my mom just made for my birthday (which was yesterday). It’s delicious, and I’m telling myself that it doesn’t count as unhealthy this week, because it’s my birthday. :)

    9. Jean*

      My feelings haven’t tasted like vegetables either during this week. I’ve been eating low-fat but not low-sugar chocolate popsicles (pardon me, “frozen treats”). Special K with honey and skim milk. Crackers with margarine-designed-to-taste-like-butter and Trader Joe’s boysenberry or raspberry preserves. Rancid bottled peanuts. Plain brown sugar, butter, and flour.
      We don’t have much good snack food at home and I’m trying not to bake because DH is trying to watch his diet.

    10. Sparkly Librarian*

      Oooh, also chicken pot pie (both the homemade kind with phyllo dough and the Banquet frozen kind), pesto pasta, and I found some MegaStuf Oreos when I was cleaning out the freezer. (Did you know they made those? I find them excessive.)

    11. Pam*

      Vanilla cupcakes and I am not a cake person. I don’t like frosting either. But I have been craving it and bought a box of mini cupcakes, the size of a half dollar and already ate 3!

    12. EmmaLou*

      This afternoon they tasted like Nutter Butters. In about a half an hour they will taste like Nachos. They NEED to taste like salad. (Does fresh tomato and green onions on Nachos count as salad?)

    13. LizB*

      An entire container of brownie bites (split over two meals), most of a bag of Trader Joe’s olive oil popcorn, biscuits from Popeye’s with butter and fig jam, a weird assortment of potluck food because everyone in my choir was too out-of-sorts to scrounge up anything decent for our usual monthly potluck, TJ’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups, and shredded cheddar straight out of the bag.

      I’ve been really improving lately in my effort to only eat when my body is hungry and use other coping mechanisms for addressing my feelings when I don’t actually need food, but damn, this week threw that right out the window.

    14. The Cosmic Avenger*

      This week they’ve tasted like ALL THE MEAT (Brazilian churrascaria) and egg nog in my morning coffee as creamer.

      Which is bad, because I had just been getting control over eating my feelings over my dad’s passing, and then I felt compelled to stress-eat again starting Wednesday morning for obvious reasons.

    15. skyline*

      This week: leftover Halloween candy, donuts, coffee ice cream, caramel corn, chips and guacamole, hot cocoa.

  36. A*

    Just need some commiseration. I’m in the middle of some work/life conflict that has been going on close to a year and shows no signs of letting up. Last weekend I decided it was time to seriously look into other options at my university. On Monday, the president announced a hiring freeze.

    I am burned out to the point that I’m getting depressed. I need help and feel so overwhelmed and alone.

    1. Sibley*

      can you look for jobs elsewhere? And don’t forget to take care of yourself – if you need to take a day and veg out, go for a run, do massive house cleaning (though why people find that relaxing I have no idea), or anything else, then do it.

    2. Overeducated*

      Oh, that stinks. I am sorry. Any chance internal transfers might still be possible? If not, you are probably competitive in other settings as well, even as an external candidate.

    3. SeekingBetter*

      If your burnout is really bad, maybe you could talk about it with a good, nonjudgmental friend or family member? It helps and costs way less than a psychotherapist. Otherwise, psychotherapists are good at listening, and good ones will even come up with strategies to help you cope in the current time.

      i was very burned out before from a toxic/unfulfilling job in the past, but now, feel more ready to be employed again since I had my time off during unemployment.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Today, right now, think of one thing you can do.
      So let’s say you decide you CAN tidy up the bathroom a bit.
      Do that.
      Come back and find one more thing you CAN do.

      Keep repeating this process.

      Sometimes we have to force our brains to think about things that can be done. We look around and every door is shut, locked and barred. At this point it does not matter what you come up with to do, just focus on finding one little positive thing. Do that, then find your next little positive can-do.

      Inch by inch.

  37. Ophelia*

    I’m the strong, silent type, except I’m female and this intimidates some people. I look younger than I am, so people act condescending towards me. But I am no pushover and can speak my mind. I do things by myself and don’t need to cling to anyone else. The caveat is that I am tough to get to know and not so open. The people who are close to me I love and protect. I’m just not overly warm or inviting. It’s not that I’m cold, but I can be guarded and take a while to warm up. (Plus I have resting b!tch face, which is horrible and doesn’t help. People tell me to smile all the time and it’s annoying.)

    I feel like I should be more outgoing and social, but it makes me angry at the thought that I have to change myself. Maybe I’m just stubborn or something. It seems like everyone has life figured out by now at my age and I get nervous talking to the cashier at the grocery store. I feel awkward and embarrassed, yet I have friends and am social. I just have to feel comfortable around the person. Does anyone else ever feel this way?

    1. fposte*

      You don’t have to change yourself unless you’re not getting what you want from the world the way you are.

      There are huge regions of the world that are the way you describe and they do fine; some of them add a layer of familiarity on top that confuses the unknowing (yes, I’m Midwestern) and some don’t, but plenty of people have no particular inclination to talk to the cashier at the grocery store, and plenty of cashiers are just as happy not to talk.

    2. Emma*

      The older I get, the more I realize that no one ever has life figured out. That helped reassure me immensely, because I spent years worrying over the fact that I was “behind” my peers. I wasn’t – I’d just gone a different way, and the people I was comparing myself to had their own derails and insecurities I didn’t see.

      On resting bitch face – you mean you’re a woman with a serious face. That’s not a crime, and the whole concept of RBF is sexist as hell. I mean, if you try smiling all the time or being more open and like the results, by all means continue, but the idea that women must be smiling all the time or always have a pleasant face drives me up the fucking wall. If men can have serious and even solemn resting faces, dammit, so can I.

      1. Ophelia*

        Why is it when men are quiet, they are “mysterious” and women are not? If there’s something I have to say, I’ll say it. But I’m not going to start yapping for the sake of yapping just to please someone. My friends are really understanding and are very patient with me- they know when I have something to say, I’ll say it. Other people have a problem with “quiet people.” I don’t know why.

        1. Emma*

          And of course, if you speak up too much, you’re either a domineering bitch or a vapid gossip, whereas a guy is just talking or being assertive.

          Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Living while female in a nutshell.

          1. Ophelia*

            Yes- exactly! When I’m with my friends, I am loud and more outgoing- sometimes we get told to “shut up”! It’s a catch-22!

          2. Mazzy*

            I think this is a false dichotomy though. I see this often on the internet. Women want to share stories and commiserate, but end of perpetuating worse stereotypes than the ones they are trying to break. In no situation that I’ve ever been in or can imagine has any woman been relegated to either one or the other roles you described. A woman can fill any number of roles as such in a social situation – a gracious host, a good storyteller, the one with the witty comebacks, the reliable neighbor, the friend who disappears for years but always shows up at the right time, the friend who is good in a crisis – the list goes on and on.

            As I described in a wall of text above, I’ve heard dichotomies like the one you wrote again and again in support groups (but could be traditional therapy for other people, I’m not plugging a particular method), only to be shattered and replaced with healthier and more realistic thoughts and eventually laughed at as silly views of the world.

            At the very least, going through life thinking that others are always viewing you in a negative light is not a healthy way to go through life.

            1. Emma*

              It’s not a completely false dichotomy, in that it’s one that actually happens to people. It’s one that’s happened to me, repeatedly. Not with every single social interaction, but with enough. It’s certainly one that shows up with a lot of sexists (both men and women, in different ways), and it’s one that’s showed up in my family, in the churches (yes, multiple) that I left, in school, in workplaces. Not all of them – it’s not like every teacher ever told me to speak up, then berated me for doing so – but … it actually does fucking happen.

              And yeah, find better social relationships. I have, actually, and I don’t actually go through life with unhealthy negative viewpoints. But I can actually acknowledge that these attitudes are out there, and that they are, in at least some places, a lot more prevalent than some “sexism is over, it’s all in your fucking head” folks like to admit.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Hey Emma, you are a big fan of F-bombs in your comments, which makes them go to moderation, which I then need to fish them out of. To save me the work, can you rein those in? Thanks!

              2. fposte*

                But I think she’s making some good points, especially about the error in making pleasing everybody your goal. Everybody is thought to be “too something” by somebody, which highlights the error of arranging yourself to avoid criticism in the first place. And identity (and for that matter, criticism) really is more complicated than placement along an axis.

        2. Mazzy*

          I hate that I’m bringing AA up again because I’m not plugging a program and your comment isn’t about addiction, but I have seen countless, countless men and women express the same exact feelings you are writing here in AA meetings again and again and again – every age group, both genders, all races, different sexual orientations, etc. And actually, the feelings of being “other” or “stuck on the outside of” or percieved as being cold are such common problems that drive people to addiction to fill the void.

          I don’t like when the term “RBF” gets overused and is turning into a buzzword at this point, and I think it turns what is such a common issue among all segments into one that only impacts women whose facial muscles relax in a certain way, and that is simply not the case. I really don’t think it matters if we call it RBF or grumpy old man face because at the end of the day, it’s about the person’s feelings and not whether they are a man or a woman or young or old. Rest assured that anyone can and does feel this way.

          Now, a few things in your comment stuck out to me because they sound like your interpretation of how things are rather than how they actually are. Are you reading other people correctly? Because other people might not be seeing you as a strong, silent type. Most people don’t analyze strangers that much. They may or may not even notice you at all. They may want to talk to you but don’t know what to say. They may want to say hi but the logistics of the situation are such that it doesn’t make sense to.

          You also mention people being condescending because of your perceived age. Yes, ageism is a thing, but I have found that so many ideas like this are explanations people come up with as they desperately search for the reason why they feel “other” or “outside of.” This is a typical comment I’ve heard with someone new to my program, but I’m sure it comes up in various other self-improvement programs as well. As time passes, people end up laughing at all of these excuses they used to make to avoid having meaningful social contact with other people.

          You mention age twice and I think there is a connection between the two comments. I think you might feel people are being condescending to you because of looking younger because you feel like you wasted years in an abusive relationship and are now behind in life, so feel inadequate in a way. You should be three steps ahead of where you are. So when people assume you are younger it somehow rubs you the wrong way because it is a reminder that no, you actually aren’t that age anymore when it would have been more appropriate to be where you are now. Just some arm chair psychology there, I could be wrong.

          Just know that you’re not alone in the way you feel and people do work through these feelings to become genuinely more outgoing.

    3. Jane D'oh!*

      I’m much like you, and I used to feel like I “should” try to be more outgoing and bubbly. The problem is that doing so is freaking exhausting! It’s not natural to me to be very social and warm, and doing so takes away energy that requires me to sacrifice other parts of my self.

      I learned this with a vengeance when I started waitressing. I had to be a butt-kissing smile machine in that job, and a five-hour shift drained me in a way that an eight-hour shift in an office does not. I would come home and rot on the couch because I could not muster the energy to do any household management or hobbies.

      Eventually I was able to quit, and that experience made me much more comfortable with who I am as a taciturn, private person. I also recommend Susan Cain’s book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”.

    4. Stellaaaaa*

      Well are you strong and silent by choice/inclination or us it something you nurtured in the hopes that it would be a workaround for social awkwardness? Everyone has to adjust themselves a little in order to make themselves socially palatable. Don’t view it as society breaking you down or forcing you to change.

      1. Emma*

        Yeah, but there’s a difference between adjusting yourself a little and completely altering how you are to present a pleasing face. If people’s idea of a pleasing face is so narrow that I can’t walk around unsmiling without being accused of having resting bitch face, that’s on them. I’ll start smiling when they stop telling me I have to.

        1. Stellaaaaa*

          You might be underestimating how much work can go into building and nurturing friendships. People do it because friendship is its own reward. It’s not a battle of wills over whose natural personality wins out and gets to set the stage for interactions.

          1. Emma*

            I wasn’t referring to friendships, though, so much as basic social interactions. I shouldn’t have to smile constantly at people just because I’m female anymore than I should be required to put on makeup to go to the grocery store.

            And if it’s a battle, it’s largely coming from a society which says, you must be pretty and smiling and chipper all the time in public, ladies. It’s really pretty restrictive, moreso for women than men, who are allowed to smile or be solemn as they please. It’s society that says my unsmiling face is rude while a man’s isn’t, and that’s deeply fucked up.

            1. Stellaaaaa*

              I….really don’t know who you’re talking to then. I’ve never, never walked up to anyone and initiated a conversation and had them, in lieu of nothing, tell me to smile. Catcallers and old men have told me to smile, but those aren’t social interactions that are worth factoring into an overall sense of wanting more friends or dating partners.

              1. Ophelia*

                They’re not necessarily telling you to smile, it might be the overly enthusiastic cashier or the chipper postal worker, people who seem to be going out of their way to get a reaction out of you- they might think you’re in a bad mood or because you’re not smiling, they’re going out of their way to elicit some sort of positive response from you.

                1. Stellaaaaa*

                  Maybe those people are just upbeat by nature. Even so, a random interaction with a polite service worker that you have no intention of integrating into your social sphere shouldn’t be added to the scales of reasons why adult friendships are difficult to navigate.

              2. Emma*

                Good for you, and I mean that. I have, repeatedly. I’ve also had the related – people constantly asking me if I was okay or awake because I happened to not be smiling, then once I did they were fine and left me alone.

                1. Tris Prior*

                  Oh god, the “what’s wrong?” or “are you OK?” or “OMG, who died?” comments when I’m just sitting and thinking…. Those are the worst.

                  (I apparently have resting-something-tragic-just-occurred face rather than actual RBF, based on the comments I get when I am not literally beaming with joy.)

              3. Notorious RBF*

                Well, lucky you? It happens to me pretty much daily. So maybe this isn’t about you? A shocking,idea, I know, but it might just be possible that your experiences are not, in fact, universal.

              4. Alice*

                I’ve gotten the smile comments from 1 coworker, many clerks and stock assistants, and infuriatingly a police officer. (Or rather a catcaller who happened to work as a police officer). And I’m talking about comments, not just enthusiasm:
                Cheer up, it may never happen!
                You’d look so much prettier if you smiled!

      2. Ophelia*

        Introverted is probably the better description. Quiet, soft-spoken, etc. For me to really be a little more outgoing I have to be around people I know or feel comfortable around. But I get nervous when meeting new people and going to new places and sort of clam up.

      1. Ophelia*

        Combination of things: Being in my 30s and still being single. (Is this why?); Recovering from a toxic/borderline abusive environment at work, wondering if I was more outgoing, social, etc. could have saved me or prevented some of the abuse; Interacting out in public, wondering if I’m doing/saying the right thing, etc.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I would break this into smaller parts.

          For the abusive work environment, you can read up on work place bullying. You can also read up on how to deal with toxic people. Knowledge is power. And you can go easy on yourself and allow time for reknitting you.

          For social inter-actions you can, again read up on etiquette, how to converse with people and so on. Okay, this is getting to be lots of reading. I almost think I would make this one a lower priority and I will explain that by going into the next section of your concerns.

          Relationships. If you have had a long history of toxic or even neglectful relationships, you lost opportunities to learn about how relationships work. Not your fault, clearly. But unfortunately, when this happens to us, we have to do the fix up work ourselves. ugh. Start reading advice columns daily. I like Carolyn Hax. I don’t read the comment section because it would take to long. I grew up reading Dear Abby and Ann Landers. Even if I disagreed with them, I still developed my own thoughts on that particular subject. What you are basically reading for is to learn how other people think and take in the world. You will see common threads, pits that many people fall into. And you will get new ideas for ways to look at old concerns.

          As you are doing this tremendous amount of reading, you can say to yourself, “Is there anything here that I would like to start doing in my life, RIGHT NOW.” Key part, just pick the stuff that you will start doing right now. Let the rest go.

          In answer to your question of preventing this abuse problem by being more outgoing, I don’t think that it would have helped that much. I think when it comes to abuse situations we actually have to sit and read and learn. Just my opinion, though.

          In general, I do believe that the more people you have in your life the better quality of life you will have. I am more introverted than extroverted, and I am saying this. However, you CAN be selective about who you add to your life. Insist on quality people who have something interesting about them. Insist on choosing relationships where there is a back and a forth, a give and a take.

          Start with reading up on these various topics and see where that takes you.

  38. Sigh.*

    Sometimes I wonder if I would be happier if I was pretty.

    I know that sounds terribly silly and vain, but I can’t help it.

    1. fposte*

      I think it’s common to see people with something you don’t have and figure they’re happier because of it. And the pretty we notice is often coming with a nice package–we’re not admiring the stunning woman clearing garbage at the food court but the one in front of us in line at the airport who’s dressed to the nines and traveling someplace wonderful.

      In general, though, there’s not a strong correlation here; most research finds that happiness doesn’t strongly derive from the stuff advertising thinks we really long for; instead it improves as we age, as we get enough sleep, and as we strengthen social ties and contributions.

      My favorite comment on this, however, is from Heather Havrilesky when she was writing the advice column for The Awl, in response to the person who wrote in afraid of turning 30 since she’d vested so much of her identity in her beauty. Heather wrote her usual compassionate but acerbic answer that included the following wonderful phrase: “Pretty faces can go fuck themselves, compared to peanut butter cups.” (It accompanied a wonderful photo of a very happy Heather sprawled on a couch covered in cats.)

      Get some sleep, make sure you’re getting treatment if you have depression, find some people to people with, even if it’s weird at first. And you look great to me.

    2. KatieKate*

      This is going to be a really weird comment, but-

      I am much prettier now than I used to be. When I was a teen, and even into a young adult, I had no idea how to dress myself, I had bad acne, a bad hairstyle, and no idea how to do makeup. And I refused to learn how to “do” those things because I was so convinced it wouldn’t make me happy.

      Then, in climbing out of a depressive stage, I cut off most of my hair. And I looked so much better. I got clothes that fit and I felt comfortable in (not my stylish sister’s leftovers,) I tried a few makeup styles until I found one that fit (eyeshadow looks horrible on me).

      Am I happier because I am prettier? Maybe. Do I feel better about how I look, and does that show through? Absolutely. Was I pretty all along and I just needed to work at it? ?????????? Who knows.

      I really, really don’t believe that no one isn’t attractive. A lot of it is confidence that comes through, and that may be easier for people who have “standard natural beauty.” Find your thing, look good, feel good.

      1. Jen RO*

        I agree with you. I feel much prettier at 30-something than I felt at 20-something! Physically I haven’t changed much, but I think I managed to make some small changes that helped. The biggest one was a haircut – I used to have long hair (down my back), but it got very tangled so I just had an eternal ponytail that looked like crap. I cut my hair a few years ago and now I’m experimenting with various lengths and cuts.

        And, of course, a big part was simply feeling better about myself and admitting there are some things that I have to learn to live with I think my legs are horrible, so I don’t wear skirts and heels; I have small breasts, but it turns out that B cups are actually fairly common; the skin under my chin sags, so I just don’t take photos from profile. In the end, I think I managed to teach myself that my friends and partners don’t give a shit about my physical imperfections, just like I don’t about theirs.

        Now the disclaimer: in the end, while I think I am average looking (a 7 on a good day), I will admit that I have it easy in some ways, because I am naturally slim and not a minority.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I can relate to this. I am in my mid 50s and probably I am the prettiest I have ever been. (I hope you are laughing.)

        And I am an average looking person. But I am much improved over what I looked like when I was 18.

        It’s kind of normal to say “If I had X, then I would be happier.” My reply to that is why postpone happiness? Why not just decide to be happy in spite of not having looks, one million bucks, a graduate degree, five dogs or whatever else we can think of?

        So say to yourself, “I am not Miss America. So what. I can be happy anyway.” Don’t be that old person in the nursing home who says, “Why didn’t I chose to be happy?”

        Honestly, the most powerful choice, I think is to chose to be content.

    3. Stellaaaaa*

      I’ll say this plainly because I don’t feel like making caveats about privilege and whatnot.

      I am considered very attractive. I did some catalog modeling and have dallied with celebrities. It’s not sonething I doubt about myself. But has it made my life easier? Only if I happen to want whatever men are already interested in giving me. Women resent me and assume I’ve consumed life “resources” (money, jobs, male dating partners) that I haven’t, and research proves that men aren’t really interested in getting to know women who are outliers on the attractiveness scale. Recall Joan’s arc on Mad Men. What’s there to envy?

        1. Sophia in the DMV (DC-MD-VA)*

          Me too bc my understanding is that attractiveness helps people get ahead in work

          1. Stellaaaaa*

            It only helps you get ahead in work if you want the job that a man is offering you. There’s no flexibility.

            1. NACSAJACK*

              I disagree – we have a lot of attractive men in leadership positions. In fact, it seems to be a generation gap here – the generation in their late 50s/early 60s is the image of a typical boss (overweight, grey hair, long time employee) whereas other leaders who are younger are very attractive, tend to age well and are migrating up. I think current thinking around here is promote the ones with good looks and healthy weights.

          2. Stellaaaaa*

            I’ll add that we’re talking about women in the “cute-hot” mold. Women who transcend that and are legitimately gorgeous don’t really benefit from it.

            1. Jen RO*

              I was actually discussing something similar with my boyfriend today. A former boss of his got a super-hot assistant, whom everyone assumed was only hired her for her looks. A year later, she announced that she is quitting because she got a scholarship to Oxford.

          3. Not So NewReader*

            I think some attractiveness does help initially. But if you have no people skills you’re toast.
            What I have been seeing is the people with great people skills but just average ability are the ones getting ahead.

            Just from talking to some guys here and there, there are several recurring comments. One is that a truly beautiful woman is out of their league. It’s a non-starter. I remember in high school one of the prettiest and most popular girls was crying. No one asked her to the prom. Everyone assumed someone else already had asked her because she was so pretty and so popular.

      1. Pennalynn Lott*

        I, too, have always been considered gorgeous. I did runway and catalog modeling, and used to have photographers and agents stop me in the street to offer their business cards [to give to my parents, when I was a tween and teenager].

        I will admit that my looks opened doors for me, but they came at a price. The male Senior VP who approved my trip to San Francisco even though I was a new hire and the trip was supposedly only for folks with tenure? He was interested in having me along on the trip for other reasons. The average-looking guy who had a dazzling smile and was very intelligent and whose conversations and company I enjoyed? Told me to go f*ck myself when I wouldn’t sleep with him, after he’d bragged to all his friends that this “super hot chick” was totally into him. The women in college and at work who looked like they were having fun hanging out with each other? Wouldn’t speak to me because they thought I would steal their husbands and boyfriends (or just that their men would want to be stolen by me). Add to this the fact that I could never go anywhere — ANYWHERE — without people (men and women) whipping their heads around to get 2nd and 3rd looks at me. And never mind the internal pressure to always look good, always be “on”, always live up to the image that everyone has of very good-looking people.

        I’m 50 now, put on some weight, spread out a little, and I freaking LOVE being invisible! I can go to the grocery store without being stared at. I can strike up a conversation with a man without him thinking that I want to sleep with him (because, duh, why else would a young attractive woman be talking to him; but my middle-aged, better-than-average looking self doesn’t get the same reaction). I have infinitely more women friends than I ever had at any point in my life. When I speak, I can tell people are listening to my words and not going catatonic because of my looks. (Yep, people really used to just kind of stand there and scan my face, top to bottom, back and forth. Some would interrupt me to say, “You’re really beautiful, ya know?” Um, great. Can we get back on topic?) And I no longer have to worry that when I again find myself single, someone will say to me, “But you’re so pretty! How can you be single!” As if looks are the only criterion for a relationship.

        Pretty really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

        1. Stellaaaaa*

          I will say that being pretty means there’s something of a protective “bubble” around you (I’ve always thought that attractive women were more protected than privileged, if that makes sense), but if we’re talking about a list of things that people think are just handed to attractive people…well, I’ve never gotten any of them without there being serious strings attached. And given the fact that every week you’ll see a post here from a woman who resents or is envious of other women based only on their looks, I’m not inclined to support the idea that attractive women are drowning in female friendship.

        2. anon for this.*

          I also did modeling when I was young. My mother represented her state in a beauty pageant. She had a hobby of entering them and winning. And now I’m older and fatter and it is wonderful. I am so happy without the weird pressure that had been in my life. The one drawback is seeing my friends reactions when they meet my mom or other women on that side of the family. They have aged beautifully and could still model or enter beauty pageants and the questioning looks they give me about why I haven’t kept myself up like they have. I just prefer to not focus on the outer me , the inner me is more satisfying to work on.

          1. Ophelia*

            I remember being at a fashion show- it was one of those department store ones- but there was this older woman in it who was absolutely stunning. Afterwards, my Mom, Sister, and I talked about how beautiful she was. Those younger models had nothing on her! She was positively radiant.

      2. Is it Performance Art*

        Being beautiful just changes some of your problems. If you’re shy, you must be stuck-up because good looks are supposed to preclude certain personality traits. Pretty women get a lot of crap about turning down men who have nothing in common with them but really want a good-looking girlfriend. Beautiful women often get judged more harshly when they do things that are less than 100% altruistic.
        There’s some evidence that being somewhat attractive makes women seem a little smarter, but women who are beautiful have a hard time being seen as intelligent especially when it comes to technical skills. Back when Marissa Mayer became the CEO of Yahoo, people had a hard time believing that she knew anything about computer science even though she had a graduate degree from Stanford in a technical subject and was Google’s employee #12.

    4. Emma*

      I feel that way sometimes when I look at my sister, who is drop-dead gorgeous. And then I look at all the shit she has to deal with because of it – from men who treat her like she’s a thing for their pleasure, to women who think she must be stupid or sleeping around when she accomplishes anything, even to bosses who’ve hired her because they think she’ll sleep with them in gratitude – and I think, dammit, sometimes it’s good to be the overlooked, ugly sister.

      I still do sometimes think I’d be happier if I looked prettier, but I’ve also come to realize I need to figure out what pretty is for me (healthier? better clothes? something else?), and if “pretty” is really what I want others to think when they see me.

      1. Pam*

        +1 I had some family friends who were absolutely drop dead gorgeous. They were so beautiful that even as
        children (!) they would receive attention and compliments. I envied the heck out of them! I thought that
        they had the perfect life, to go along with those perfect looks. But it turned out that they had abusive
        family members, which lead to them being in abusive relationships with men who treated them horribly.
        Thankfully the abusers have been removed from their lives and they are in healthy marriages, but things
        were far from perfect. Beauty complicates things. You may think “oh, she’s really pretty” but that may
        stop there. If she has a bad personality, you’d want to run from it eventually. “Pretty” to me is what
        is on the inside. If they make me laugh and feel good about myself, they are a model in my eyes regardless
        of if they have a chipped tooth, frizzy hair, etc.

        I like to think of the Roald Dahl quote, ““A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”

      2. the gold digger*

        men who treat her like she’s a thing for their pleasure

        I am very ordinary looking. When I lived in and traveled through Latin America, though, I experienced a bit of what I think beautiful women go through all the time. Men would sit by me at the movies or on the train, even when there was plenty of room elsewhere. They would try to talk to me. They would catcall me. I could not figure out what was going on, because I was not asked to a single high school dance (except for that ROTC dance – sorry I was so rude, Mike N) and would go years between dates until I met my husband, until someone told me that an American woman by herself was clearly asking to be picked up.

        Which I was not.

        I was just watching a movie. Or taking a bus. Or a train.

        I did not like it. I didn’t like being harassed. I think it would be nice to be beautiful and tall and thin, but man, I would not want the stuff that goes with it.

        1. Pam*

          +1 I could never be gorgeous because I don’t like being the center of attention. I know people say that and don’t mean it, but I get embarrassed easily and don’t want to stand out from a crowd or anything. I also never dyed my hair blue, pink, purple, etc. because you stand out with that hair. Sure, I want to be noticed and acknowledged, but I am just fine with being funny. I make people laugh and that has a lasting impression. Looks fade, humor never gets old.

    5. Jennie*

      I recognize that privileges do come with being considered pretty (especially my kind of approachable little white woman pretty which means lots of doors being held open and heavy things lifted) but I have to say that despite other people objectivitifying me verbally (frankly it’s weird to have other people comment on my body at all, that’s not how my very large family behaves so it’s just a bit disconcerting to be reduced to hair and teeth and smiles) I don’t think I feel or act differently than anyone else, it’s always a little confusing to me to be honest because I genuinely don’t think that I’ve seen an objectively ugly person. I suspect, though, that if you feel bad about your looks then yes you probably aren’t as happy as someone who is content with theirs – in which case other things to be proud of like your accomplishments and kindness might make a difference. It’s hard to be happy if you can’t celebrate what makes you special and for what it’s worth even as someone who has it very easy I struggle with depression (which knows no bounds, and can affect anyone) and have found both medication and therapy helpful in finding joy in what I have in my life.

    6. Pam*

      I don’t know how deep to get with this and I don’t think it was the OP’s intention, but couldn’t the way you are raised and your culture come into play here? My cousins in Germany are drop dead gorgeous (6 ft tall, blonde, gorgeous- young Heidi Klums), but the focus was always on academics. When they came to visit America, because we place such emphasis on looks, they were treated like rock stars. They felt a little embarrassed over the attention they were getting and definitely weren’t used to it. It’s a cultural thing and plus their parents always emphasized, “Education first” and so on. Looks don’t always play an integral part in things, unless you’re in a culture where the emphasis is on that thing. Sure, they might notice a pretty face and what not, but other things might matter more or the emphasis is on something else.

    7. Chaordic One*

      Yeah, good looks are a big help when one is younger and can really open a lot of doors career-wise and in your personal life. OTOH, you really are being hired and promoted based on your looks and not so much on merit. If you’re smart you can use your good looks to promote a worthy causes, ethical business decisions and to bring good people along with you.

      A lot of good looking people don’t age well and it is kind of surprising. There are a fair number of websites with pictures of celebrities with before and after pictures that show what different celebrities (singers, movie stars, tv stars and others) looked like in the their teens and twenties and thirties and what they look like in their fifties, sixties, seventies and eighties. A lot of them don’t take very good care of themselves. Of course, a lot of it is just normal aging, too.

      I do feel bad about the seemingly high number of people who get by on their looks when they were young and then they don’t have anything much to fall back on when they get older and can’t get by with them anymore.

  39. Lily Evans*

    I’m hosting my first post-college holiday party next month! It’s come together with surprisingly few scheduling conflicts, and I’m excited because it’s shaping up to have an interesting intersection of friend groups. It’s also made me realize that almost none of my friends are single anymore, which is weird. I’m not unhappy being single, but it looks like I’ll be the ninth or so wheel at my own party. It’s also the first time one of my friends has had an SO who I don’t really like but kind of had to include anyway. I only met her once and she really rubbed me the wrong way, but I’m hoping that if she comes, this time will go more smoothly, if anything can put me in a forgiving spirit it is the holiday season!

    1. danr*

      It’s a holiday party. Don’t worry about it. As long as there is plenty to eat and a moderate amount to drink everyone should have a good time. And, as the host, you are expected to mingle.

    2. Pam*

      I think you’ll be too busy hosting to worry about anything else. Sure, being the only single one sucks, but maybe one of the couples can ::cough:: bring a single friend of theirs. As for the SO of the friend, give her another chance. If she still rubs you the wrong way, you don’t have to invite them next time (unless it would be awkward), or if someone else hosts the next party, you can leave early or not go.

      1. Pennalynn Lott*

        Oh, ick! I have had very long Purposefully Single periods in my life and always, always, always hated it when someone would think they were doing me a favor by bringing a single guy — for me — to a party. Great. Now I’m stuck entertaining some random stranger all night. And it’s extra weird because there are fake “date” vibes put on our conversations, placed there by outside forces.

        Thankfully, OP, just because people have paired up doesn’t mean they’ve merged into one human being, and you can still enjoy everyone at the party as individuals.

        1. Lily Evans*

          Someone bringing a “date” for me is literally the opposite of what I want. I’ve tried dating and come to the conclusion that at this point I’m perfectly happy being single (though if I met someone I really liked, I’d give it a shot). It was just one of those weird observational moments since I haven’t seen all of my friends in the same place in a while! Plus, I get along with all the other SO’s perfectly fine, I really don’t think it will be weird. I am kayak, hear me roar!

          1. Pam*

            Okay, okay, let’s relax. What I meant is since they’re all friends, they might have mutual friends or maybe the last time they hung out, the OP and someone hit it off, so they could be included. It doesn’t have to be some random stranger.

            1. Pennalynn Lott*

              Awesome, so they can bring a not-remotely-possible-date-for-the-OP friend of any gender or paired status to even out the numbers (assuming the OP has room and the food/beverage budget for the addition). . . or they could, ya know, just bring themselves.

              But “::cough:: bring a single friend of theirs” would have been icky to me and is the exact opposite of what Lily Evans was going for. There’s no need to tell people to “relax”.

              1. Pam*

                Those were the two points that Lily brought up. It wasn’t just, “I’m excited because I’m having a party.” She did mention being single and she mentioned the friend’s SO, so those were concerns of hers and I was simply addressing them.

                1. Pam*

                  If I offended you or Lily, I apologize. Part of the reason why I come here is because everyone is very helpful and gives great advice. It’s (usually) pretty peaceful and a safe place to voice our opinions/give advice. May have to rethink things now…

                2. Lily Evans*

                  I just now saw this, but I’m not at all offended! It was a totally valid suggestion, and if I didn’t get on as well as I do with everyone else’s SO’s or was actively looking for a date I would’ve considered it! If my reply seemed upset, it was definitely unintentionally. Tone is hard to convey on the internet.

  40. Jane D'oh!*

    Can anyone recommend household cleaners that disinfect and yet are safe/organic/have minimal chemicals?

    1. Melody Pond*

      I use:

      For dish soap:
      – 1 part unscented liquid castile soap (La Almona brand from Amazon)
      – 2-3 parts water
      – maybe a tablespoon of vegetable glycerine or sweet almond oil to make it a little more moisturizing

      For dishwasher detergent:
      – 1 part baking soda
      – 3 parts washing soda
      – a few drops of liquid castile soap added on top of the “detergent” in the detergent compartment
      – a glass custard cup face up in the top rack, filled partway with white vinegar as a rinse aid. As it fills with water and overflows, it disperses over the rest of the dishes.

      For cleaning countertops and such:
      – the homemade “dish soap” referenced above

      For cleaning kitchen or bathroom sinks, as well as showers/bathtubs and toilets:
      – the homemade “dish detergent” referenced above (just the baking soda & washing soda – though you could probably add a little liquid castile soap still, if you wanted)

      For laundry soap:
      – NaturOli soap nuts! I take about 5 of them, add 4 cups of water, and cook it all in my pressure cooker for about 45 minutes. Then I let the pressure come down naturally, and I strain out the leftover bits of the berries. I pour this into a 32 oz container, and I top it off with a little extra liquid castile soap, if needed.
      – For heavily soiled loads, I might add 1/2 a cup of washing soda as a laundry booster.

      For fabric softener:
      – the soap nuts recipe renders fabric softener almost completely unnecessary. So when I throw the wet laundry into the dryer, I spray it liberally with a spray bottle of white vinegar, and then I set the dryer on an auto-dry setting, to ensure that clothes don’t get over-dried. This has pretty much eliminated static cling, even for super synthetic athletic clothes.

      That’s everything I can think of. I have similar types of recipes for personal hygiene products, like shower soap, shampoo, and deodorant, if you’re interested.

    2. Rosie the Rioter*

      I disinfect with a water-vinegar mix (50-50) and sometimes with rubbing alcohol, depending on where in the house I am cleaning.

    3. Lemon Zinger*

      Make your own, as Melody Pond suggested! The only thing I don’t make myself is Magic Erasers, which are the only thing that get my tub clean.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I clean everything with vinegar, water, and lavender oil (which is a disinfectant). Cheap and easy!


      In case you don’t want to make your own or you dont have success with those (which I dont), here are ones I use around my house:
      – Watkins products
      – Method products

      Both are minimal chemical invasive

      Murphy’s Oil Soap is 97% organic

      1. NACSAJACK*

        Oh and Planet Earth for dishwashing liquid – works as well as Dawn and better than Method Dish Soap

    6. Chat Noir*

      The blog One Good Thing by Jillee has lots of DIY cleaning solutions. One solution I use from there is citrus infused vinegar. I put used citrus peels in vinegar and let it sit for several days. Then strained it and mixed it with water.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I use vinegar for windows and mirrors.
      I put hydrogen peroxide in a spritzer for counters, toilet and miscellaneous.
      Bon Ami for sinks and tub.

      And I buy the store brand version of the product for these things: dish soap, general purpose cleaner (floors, walls, car) and laundry soap.

      Since the dish soap is mild/gentle I use that to hand wash clothes that require hand washing.

      I buy a bottle of natural fabric softener and spill it on to rags to make my own dryer sheets. One bottle last me years as I very seldom need it.

      I will get Nature’s Miracle for pet stains but it also works well on grass/blood/other natural stains on garments.

      I like peppermint soap for dealing with chemicals. It seems to do a good job getting chemicals off of things. I foolishly washed my porch furniture with it and the run-off soapy water helped to remove loosened paint off the floor of the porch. Whooops.

      When I first started doing this I realized I could spend a small fortune on cleaning products. So I had two criteria- they actually had to work and they had to do more than one type of job.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I tried a vinegar cleaner from Frosch which was quite effective. It was on offer, promoted by a person in a giant furry frog costume. All the Frosch product are low chemical.

    8. Sir Alanna Trebond*

      If you’re going to mix different chemicals together to clean, please be careful!

      Ammonia + bleach –> toxic gas + bad news bears

      Vinegar + bleach –> toxic gas + bad news bears

      Mixing baking soda and vinegar is fine, you just get a volcano and salt and water, basically. Drain volcanoes can actually be helpful. Just please google before making your own cleaning products to make sure you’re being safe.

      Your Friendly Neighborhood Chemist

  41. SeekingBetter*

    Just a rant: My friend on Facebook keeps constantly complaining about her job and the place she works for. I see her status updates on FB all of the time, every day, where she’s either not happy with long hours and almost everything else she hates about her job. She knew about the long hours and some other job duties before accepting the job offer. The thing that I most hate about this is that she told me never to be desperate when receiving a job offer. Yet she did exactly that because she needed the job right away, or she wouldn’t have been able to live without it. *sigh*

    1. Jessesgirl72*

      I know you’re not looking for solutions , but if you hide a post, one of the options FB now gives you is to see fewer posts from that person. ;) I like that, for myself, as a first step before “unfollow”

      I really wish FB would give us a way to block certain keywords without having to block someone’s posts entirely.

      1. SeekingBetter*

        I have done this in the past, like three years ago, but then it made it impossible for me to see any posts from the person. I will definitely look into it!

    2. Lemon Zinger*

      Unfollow her! She sounds unpleasant. My new coworker is the same way, which is amazing because she’s only been on the job for a month and we made it VERY clear in the interviews that we work hard, exhausting hours.

      1. SeekingBetter*

        I am currently considering that if I can’t find a way to hide most of her negative posts.

        I’m really surprised to hear about your new coworker being the same way even though you made it clear during interviews about the exhausting hours at your job. I’m sure it’s annoying to hear it from the new person. Hopefully, maybe she will grow to like the job and do less complaining?

      1. SeekingBetter*

        I totally agree. I hear that even with tight FB privacy settings, there’s still a chance that someone can see the post elsewhere in FB.

  42. Melody Pond*

    Feeling pretty heartbroken and guilty today.

    I was doing a foster-to-adoption for this cat that I took home from the shelter a little over a month ago. Admittedly, I had rushed into this – my previous cat had died only two days before I took this cat home. But today, I had to take the foster cat back to the shelter, and I just feel so awful and guilty and horrible about it. I’m picturing him freaking out and being scared and not knowing why he’s there, or why Mr. Pond and I aren’t there anymore.

    He was an okay cat – I didn’t feel quite as much of a connection with him as I did with my previous cat that had died, but he was sweet, and would lay next to me and liked to be pet. But here’s the problem – he was considerably more energetic than my previous cat, and we live in a studio apartment. And I started my new job this week, and he had been cutting my sleep short by two hours or so every night, by meowing loudly and digging vigorously in the litterbox around 4 AM each morning. I’d tried a few things to get around it – moving the litter boxes as far away from us as possible, partially closing the bathroom door, leaving dry food out for him during the night time… but none of it was enough, and I was starting to feel a cold coming on, from not getting enough sleep. Sleep is normally a big struggle for me, anyway (delayed sleep phase disorder) and I’m one of those people that desperately needs a full night’s sleep every night, or else I start getting sick easily.

    So after talking to the adoption counselor and asking for other suggestions, and hearing in response that the adoption counselor really didn’t think it was a good fit, we brought him back to the shelter today. And I’m just feeling like a complete failure. I really didn’t want to be the type of person who does this – takes an animal home and then brings it back, rather than sticking to a lifelong commitment. I feel so, so awful. :(

    1. fposte*

      Aw, Melody, that’s hard, but you did the right thing. Even The Way of Cats blogger had to rehome an overactive kitten she had once. Kitty deserves a chance at a home that’s right for him, and it sounds like yours wasn’t it.

    2. Jean*

      +1 to everything fposte said. Also, take extra care of yourself this weekend. Sometimes when a cold is coming on it takes down our emotional equilibrium as well as our immune system. Cut yourself a bit of slack and ease up on the self-served guilt. If the shelter offers foster-to-adoption it’s probably because you are not the first person to find herself mismatched with an animal. The shelter has probably concluded that it’s better to offer an exit than to have animal-adopting people feeling like they and the animal have just signed a lifelong contract for shared unhappiness.

    3. Luisa in Dallas*

      You tried really, really hard to make the placement work, so please don’t feel guilty. Because this kitty was appealing to you, it will likely appeal to others as well. And now the adoption people have useful information to match it up better.

      We once adopted a kitty who had been return to the shelter several times because he would just not shut up! (He eventually did, thank goodness, but only our procrastination saved us from returning him, too.) I’m sure the previous adopters felt bad to return him, but cats live a long time, so the match needs to be right for a long-term commitment. Think of it like dating!

    4. Melody Pond*

      Thanks, all, for the encouragement. I just can’t seem to stop worrying about him, and I’ve never had to “return” an animal before. It’s really hard. :(

    5. Red*

      You did the right thing. You and this cat weren’t right for each other, and now you’re both free to find a home/cat that is right. This is why foster-to-adopt is a thing, so you can try it out, see if you can make it work, and back out if it’s just not right. It’s 100% okay that you did that.

      1. Emma*

        For us, we’ve gone bonkers on spice-scented stuff. The house smells like we all rolled in cloves or something.

        1. Stellaaaaa*

          I like to boil cinnamon sticks on the stove.

          Tomorrow I’m putting on a giant chunky-knit sweater and walking a park trail. i may stank near a sunbleached wooden fence whilst gazing into the middle distance.

    1. Clever Name*

      We spent too much money buying “pumpkin spice” flavored treats at world market. It turns out none of us really like that flavor.

  43. TummyTroubles*

    Is anyone else pretty much unable to eat fruit/vegetables without suffering terrible digestive problems afterward? I will be seeing a GI specialist, but they can’t get me in until February, so I figured I’d ask if anyone else has the same problems. I was eating very well for about six weeks. So well that I lost almost 20 pounds. However, I had to stop because my belly just can’t tolerate fruits and vegetables. Gas is one thing, but I had the runs nearly every day for the whole six weeks, and I had abdominal pain so bad some nights that I couldn’t sleep at all. One of the episodes coincided with me eating two whole raw bell peppers (sliced into thirds and filled with cream cheese and scallions), so I eliminated peppers from my diet. Unfortunately, I had similar symptoms after eating broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and apples. I am no longer eating any fruits and veggies other than potatoes and canned peaches, and I am fine–not one episode of the runs or abdominal pain since I stopped. Does this sound familiar to anyone? Any suggestions?

    1. BPT*

      You’ve got foods listed that are high in fiber – could that be part of it? When I up my fiber intake quickly it never settles well with my stomach. I’d ease into it more slowly, and make sure that you’re not combining too many foods that are high fiber together.

    2. LCL*

      A lot of raw foods are really allergenic/sensitivity causing. If I tried raw peppers and scallions I wouldn’t get the runs cause I’d vomit first. Try sticking to cooked stuff for awhile.

      1. TummyTroubles*

        Scallions don’t bother me, surprisingly. Other than the peppers, all the other stuff I ate was cooked. Still bothered me something fierce, though.

    3. Shel*

      Look up the low FODMAPS diet. It sort of organizes troublesome foods into categories based on their makeup. You can safely do your own elimination trials: try foods in one category with your non-troubling foods and see how it goes. Adding a probiotic, plain yogurt, and/or digestive enzymes are anecdotally helpful.
      That said, sudden diet changes never agree with me, even when they are healthy!

    4. Emma*

      Well, you are talking to a doctor, which would’ve been my first recommendation. My only other one, really, is to listen to what your body says and try out each food, see what the result is, etc. It’s painstaking, but it really does help pin down what works for you and what doesn’t.

      I can’t eat fresh or canned corn (but popcorn and cornmeal are fine!), bell peppers (but other peppers are fine!), or tofu/soymilk (but miso, edamame, and soy sauce are fine!). I have no effing clue why, but there you go. Sometimes our guts are weird.

    5. Sophir*

      An Australian university discovered that short-chain carbs cause a lot of people troubles. I believe scallions, cream cheese, broccoli, cauliflower and apples are all on the no list. Everyone is different so it takes some trial and error but it has been a huge help to me. I’ll send a link through in the next comment and/or you can just google FODMAP.

    6. nep*

      I have bad reactions when I eat certain fruits and vegetables. You might have to find out by process of elimination which are OK for you.
      Does this happen only with fruits and vegetables? Are you chewing for food thoroughly? Might sound silly but it makes a huge difference in digestion.
      I’ve read a bit about how combining certain types of foods (or eating foods in a certain order) can affect digestion — might be worth checking into that.

      1. TummyTroubles*

        I have trouble with nuts and seeds, too, but not the same type of trouble. I don’t want to get too TMI, but suffice it to say that seeds and nuts seem to get “stuck” somewhere in my system for weeks on end. I suspect I have diverticulosis. I can’t eat popcorn or sunflower seeds at all; I can eat walnuts and almonds if I chew really well.

        As far as chewing well, I was actually chewing more thoroughly than usual because I was only eating 1,500 calories per day and wanted to savor every bite of food I had!

        1. nep*

          That does sound like diverticulosis.
          I know what you mean — I get a lot more satisfaction when I take my time chewing every bite; gut feels better too.

    7. JenC*

      check out something called fructose malabsorption…I don’t have it but I read about it when my kids were younger. I don’t remember much, but I know things like apples, onions, garlic, pears etc can cause exactly the symptoms you were talking about, but then there are fruits etc that are ok. It’s because many people’s bodies have difficulty in processing fructose I think. Sufferers get some relief by following a low FODMAP diet…better to google this than read any more of this uninformed comment, but maybe it might be something?
      Good luck in figuring it out!

      1. TummyTroubles*

        I looked at some articles about fructose malabsorption, and the symptoms sound very similar. I didn’t mention it above, but one of the symptoms I had was abdominal distention. When I would get the other symptoms, my abdomen would be swollen so much that it looked like I was five or six months’ pregnant. I haven’t experienced that since I stopped eating almost all fruits and vegetables (I have no trouble with potatoes, even if I leave the skin on them).

        1. nep*

          That’s precisely the effect I get when I eat certain fruits and vegetables, particularly apples, pears (sometimes), broccoli, Brussels sprouts. As much as I like the last two, it’s sure not worth the discomfort. Fortunately beets, sweet potatoes, and greens still agree with my system.

    8. Stellaaaaa*

      It’s called roughage for a reason. People who are into raw diets aren’t always up-front about deliberately seeking out foods that won’t stick around in their systems too long. It’s a feature of veggie and juice-based diets…”toxins” was code for “bathroom stuff” until the mainstream latched onto cleanses without absorbing certain contexts.

    9. Chaordic One*

      I went to an allergist for testing and discovered that I was allergic to tomatoes, soy and dairy. So many times I would come home from work exhausted and stop by a pizza place and pick one up for dinner and then I would have horrible cramps and diarrhea all night and the next day. It made work extra hellacious because I’d have to get up and run to the restroom about once every hour. (Dirty looks from coworkers.)a A previous doctor had told that it was all stress.

      Anyway, I would recommend seeing an allergist, or possibly an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist who does allergy testing and see what exactly you might be allergic to, and then proceed from there. I also had a lot of seasonal allergies to pollens and animal dander and underwent allergy desensitization shots. The shots helped a lot with the seasonal allergies, but not so much with food and animal allergies. They were totally worth it, though. I don’t sneeze nearly as much and can breathe through my nose all night long now.

  44. Achy Anon*

    I either have the mother of all fibro flares, or chikngunya or anthrax. Going on 2 weeks of swollen glands, fevers, headache, severe aches, and hit-by-a-truck tireds. I have fibro that has always been mild and well-managed. It’s not mono. I have an appointment with my real Dr on Monday, but eeeeeevvvvveeeerrrytthhhiiiinnnng huuuuurts. Ugh. Now to find some cheese for that wine.

    1. AnAppleADay*

      That sounds a lot like one of the current viruses making the rounds. It knocked me off my feet last month and I spent two days in bed. Sore throat, swollen glands and everything hurt. It definitely felt like a bad fibro flare but with swollen glands, sore throat added into the mix. Had word choice problems and other cognitive issues as well.

      Hang in there and take good care. I had Pho delivered and that made all the difference in the world.

      1. Achy Anon*

        That’s reassuring – the walk-in Dr I saw who would only do a rapid mono and strep test said that the next step was seeing my regular Dr to do bloodwork for lupus and lymphoma and other scary things. Then she told me I “seemed tense” and should take a day off work for mental health. NOT HELPFUL.

        1. OhBehave*

          You seemed tense? Hmm. I wonder why? Oh yes, get tested for lupus, lymphoma and a host of other scary things. Oy

  45. Rin*

    Monday is my first day back from maternity leave and I just feel stuck. Stuck at a job that sometimes makes me feel like my head is going to explode; stuck in a house too small; stuck with a family I can barely take care of for many reasons and who legit do not care what I have to say or feel; stuck in my “class” from which I will never escape (no retirement for me!). I’m so disheartened.

    1. Overeducated*

      This is a super tough transition. Hang in there and be kind to yourself. Things may not look different objectively in two months but they very well may feel different.

    2. OhBehave*

      You just had a baby! That alone makes for a really tough transition. I think you might be in good company here. We’ve all felt stuck at one time or another. That is certainly not meant to dismiss your feelings. Your ‘stuck’ feeling is very understandable. You’ve got a lot going on and what sounds like, little support at home.

      Were you looking forward to going back to work?
      I know it’s hard to do, but try and do something just for you. Even if it’s hanging out in your car for a few minutes alone.
      I had a very hard time after my babies were born. Hang in there and if the feelings don’t improve after a few weeks consider asking for help.

  46. Traveler*

    Allison, looking at your book recommendations, do you read a new book every week to recommend here or are you reaching back for old recommendations?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Parts of both. I usually read somewhere around a book a week, but I don’t end up wanting to recommend them all so for recommendations I use books I read longer ago too. (For example, this last week I read The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg but I didn’t like it enough to recommend it.)

      1. Traveler*

        I am so impressed by people who can read a book a week. I used to be able to do that in college; now I’m down to a book every two or three weeks, just from lack of time.

  47. traveler*

    I’ll be in Philadelphia next weekend, anything not-in-the-tourist books I should do? Any great restaurant suggestions?

    1. CAA*

      If you like Spanish tapas, go to Amada on Chestnut street. Everything on that menu tastes amazing. Reservations are a must, though if you’re alone you could probably get a seat at the bar without one.

      I also liked Talula’s Garden when I went there a couple of years ago. It’s expensive though.

      Reading Market is great for lunch. Even if you don’t want to eat, you at least need to walk through and just admire all the different food stalls.

    2. DragoCucina*

      One of my favorites is the overlooked Rodin Museum. It’s not far from the Art Museum. Pat’s or Geno’s cheesesteaks is the great debate. I prefer Geno’s because I’m not a Cheeze Whiz fan.

    3. Temperance*

      I work in Philly, so I lean towards crap bars like Mad Mex. Stay away from City Tap House Logan – the prices are ridiculous for not great food (based on DC menu). My favorite place is Brauhaus Schmitz. It’s a German beer hall with great German food, including veg options. Irish Pol is a great bar, but their food is just okay pub stuff.

      If you’re into beer, I highly recommend Yards or Dock Street.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      It’s probably in the guide books, but even so– I think Philly’s new-ish Museum of American Jewish History is really cool and always worth a visit, so whenever someone tells me they’re going to Philly, I push for it. It’s right near all of the traditional stuff (Independence Hall, Constitution Center, Liberty Bell) and it’s one of the best designed and curated museums I’ve ever visited. Been there twice (my whole family is in Philadelphia). It’s basically a walk through American history through the lens of the Jewish experience. You don’t have to be Jewish to love it. :)

    5. Penny*

      Seconding Reading Market Terminal like crazy! Such a wide variety and I love the atmosphere there! Just be sure to check the hours, it closes earlier than I expected and I missed out on having dinner there my first time in Philly.

    6. AdAgencyChick*

      I don’t live in Philly any more, but I do go back fairly often to see my family.

      Capogiro gelato is the best. I know it’s not really gelato weather, but it doesn’t matter. It’s so good. Any Michael Solomonov restaurant (Zahav, Abe Fisher, Dizengoff) is great, although you are unlikely to be able to get a reservation for Zahav at this point. Abe Fisher, maybe. I’d still try, though — you would think NYC would be the mecca for Jewish food, but Solomonov’s Philly empire has us beat. Amada and Tinto have delicious tapas.

      The last time we were back, my family and I did the touristy historical stuff I hadn’t seen since my high school days. Independence Hall was actually really fun! So was the Second Bank of the US, which I had never been to. It’s free, and you can see paintings of a lot of Revolutionary War-era Americans. I’ve been obsessed with “Hamilton” lately, so it was fun to revisit the historical figures in the musical (and others).

    7. K.*

      Sabrina’s is a favorite brunch spot. There are several locations around the city. There’s liable to be a wait though.

  48. Lemon Zinger*

    I got a copper IUD on Thursday! I was so nervous and the insertion really did hurt, but afterward I was okay and went straight back to work. I had some pretty terrible cramping in the evening and all day yesterday, but I woke up this morning and have been mostly fine all day.

    Hormonal birth control is not a good option for me; I was on the pill for three years and got massively depressed and totally lost my libido, so fingers crossed that the IUD is the trick for me!

    Anyone have advice about having a copper IUD? I’ve already picked up a good multivitamin, iron supplements, and I regularly use Natural Calm as a magnesium supplement.

    1. Sibley*

      For me, it’s not a big deal except around periods. You may find you have wicked cramps – I did, but after a few months it started getting better and now basically nothing. The bigger issue was that my flow got REALLY heavy for the first 2-4 days, then almost nothing. Like, tampons + pads and soaking both in 2 hours heavy. that has also improved some – now I can go 3-4 hours, and it’s only about 2 days then much lighter.

      I don’t do anything special with vitamins, so unless your doctor has instructed you to a balanced diet should be good.

    2. .*

      I am on my 2nd copper IUD. After the first IUD, the extra cramping levelled off in a couple months; a big part of it was that the pill had lightened my periods to the point that simply going off the hormones made the flow seem really heavy. I needed no supplements of any kind, but if you tend towards anemia the iron could be helpful. Ask your doctor. I only had the 1st IUD removed so that I could get pregnant.

      The 2nd IUD was placed while I was nursing. It was 8 weeks post partum. Didn’t hurt at all (the cervix is dilated 5mm or so for an IUD, which hurts like crazy for someone with an unbreached cervix) and, as I was nursing, I had plenty of time to physically adjust to it before my period returned several months later. No problems here, and I highly recommend the IUD.

    3. Melody Pond*

      When I finally got my copper IUD, I think I had already spent WAY too many years on hormonal birth control (like, 10+ years) – so when the hormones finally worked themselves out of my body, and then I got the copper IUD, I continued to have massive, terrible cramps for years. (I’ve had the copper IUD for 5 years now) So in addition to a really good magnesium supplement, I’ve also taken a supplement for hormonal balance – Vitex Berry by a brand called Gaia Herbs. You can find it on Amazon.

      More recently, I’ve also picked up a couple homeopathic solutions from Whole Foods in their homeopathic section. They look like little blue chapstick sized bottles, and they have tiny little pellets in them, that you dissolve under your tongue. There’s one for “cramping that is relieved by heat” called Magnesia Phosphorica, and then there’s also one called “Sabina” that is simply a remedy for “heavy menstruation.” Both of those have been super helpful to me.

      And then most recently, I picked up a turmeric supplement, which is supposed to have strong herbal anti-inflammatory properties. So it basically acts like an herbal ibu profen, except it has more of an effect when you take it every day – not just on your period. I’ve only had it for one period, but with that plus the homeopathic remedies mentioned above, my last period felt downright normal and manageable. :)

    4. One Handed Typist*

      Natural Calm is a great product, but magnesium is not absorbed internally very well. You’d likely get better results adding epsom salt to a twice weekly bath or foot bath. I actually made my own magnesium oil and spray it on my thighs, legs, abdomen, and forearms about 30-45 minutes before a bath/shower. It made a huge difference! I can tell when I need to increase my magnesium levels now.

      I take a B Complex in the mornings and a very quality probiotic as well. I’d definitely suggest finding a good probiotic. It should be refrigerated and have at least 15+ strains. I use Garden of Life RAW Women’s Probiotic. It has 85 billion CFU and 32 strains.

  49. Loopy*

    I never have anything exciting to share ever (hence not being a regular poster…) BUT today I met my favorite author (Victoria Schwab) and she was as lovely and gracious and as wonderful in person as I had hoped. Isn’t it just thrilling when the authors/celebrities/idols you follow turn out to be amazing in person?!?

    I’m on cloud 9. I gave her a mug I made based on one of her books and said “Well I’m not that artistic, but I tried really hard!” and she was like “How can you say you’re not artistic?! Look at this! It’s amazing!” and she was just so genuine I just melted with pride.

    Anyone have similar warm fuzzy stories of meeting people you looked up to?

    1. Kristina L*

      I’m a fan of Dave Barry, and when he was on a book tour, I was one of the audience, and when he asked for questions, eventually I asked one, and he said it was a good question, and he looked like he meant it. He also did his best to answer (it was about how to tell if what you write is funny).

        1. Sami*

          Ha! I see what you did there. :)

          I love Dave Barry too. I met him once as well. And got him to autograph one of his books.

        2. catsAreCool*

          His answer was that he never knew for sure, he just did the best he could with it and went with his gut as to whether it was funny. He said that by the time he finished polishing, he didn’t think it was funny anymore.

  50. NotMyName*

    I know this topic comes up just about every week, but I’m really lost here and am hoping someone will have some advice for me.
    I am so SO lonely, and I just don’t know what to do. A little backstory; I moved back to my hometown after college and haven’t made any friends since I’ve been back (years now). All of the people I used to know here are long gone, and unfortunately I don’t work with anyone my age. I’ve gone out by myself to a variety of places/events but it’s so difficult to meet others as they always tend to stick with their groups. I’ve joined yoga classes and started volunteering. All the meet-ups in my area are centered around mothers or divorced people. Nothing so far that works for me. I’m really lost on where to go from here. I’ve been okay being by myself for quite some time, but the longer it goes on the harder it is.

    1. Aurora Leigh*

      Don’t discount older people as friends. I’m single and in my 20s and one on my best friends is a widow in her 60s. We bonded over a mutual love for British tv and frequently hang out to watch them and eat desserts. I go walking and talk about Marvel movies with a friend in her 30s.

      Also, don’t be afraid to start your own groups. Libraries are always looking for new programs. Ask if theyd be interested in hosting a board game night or a scrapbooking night or whatever your interests are. I think activities that require discussion like book clubs or similar also help with getting people talking to the new people.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        What she said about starting your own group. If you want a group that focuses on $thisThing and there isn’t one, you could be waiting a very long time for someone else to come along and start it. Yes, starting a Meetup group isn’t free like it might be through a church or community centre, but the service does a lot of the advertising legwork for you and casts a wider net, so there’s always that to consider.

        Also, focusing on having friends “your age” is going to keep you from finding cool people of any age. While there may be advantages to having friends your age, there are advantages to having older friends (or younger ones). Older people have been there, done that and can usually provide you with a different perspective, or serve as mentors or role models for how you would like your life to be (or not).

        This may seem like a wacky idea but if you want to know how many people in your area are your age and single, look it up on an online dating site, both the men and the women. Some dating sites have a “looking for friends” option. If there simply aren’t that many people in the area (and it does happen) then you have some decisions to make. Are you OK with staying on where you are? Can you travel to local larger cities for culture and entertainment? Is moving somewhere else an option (and it may not be depending on your career/aging parents/other factors). The only person you have control over is yourself. Ten years from now, all kinds of people could come flooding back to that town, but do you really want to wait that long?

    2. Pam*

      Give it more time. Keep getting out there- join a meetup, take a class at a community college, etc. As Aurora said, don’t discount others- they might turn out to be really good friends and they might know of people your age or know people who know of someone your age.

    3. LCL*

      How hard is it to start a meet up group? Because I see a great need for one aimed at a different demographic than your towns existing groups.

    4. Stellaaaaa*

      Could you shift your focus to dating? It’s sort of uncouth to suggest this, but so many people I know only came into their friend groups by dating someone else who already had a lot of friends. It’s not something people like to own up to, that their friends are really just their partner’s friends.

    5. Trixie*