weekend free-for-all – November 19-20, 2016

eve-in-blanket2This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. (This one is truly no work and no school. If you have a work question, you can email it to me or post it in the work-related open thread on Fridays.)

Book recommendation of the week: Cruel Beautiful World, by Caroline Leavitt. A teenager runs away with her older teacher, and things don’t go well. The title is apt.

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

{ 1,098 comments… read them below }

  1. Cristina in England*

    Just remembered that this year we are supposed to go out for Thanksgiving rather than cooking in. Hooray! :-) Most restaurants here will already have their Christmas menus available and it is very nearly the same thing (turkey, stuffing, potatoes etc, but also Yorkshire puddings!)

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Nigella Lawson’s book Feast has a combined Christmas and Thanksgiving section. It includes Sweet Potatoes topped with marshmallows, and maple syrup roasted parsnips. Nigella suggests mixing and matching.

        1. Rahera*

          I’m a kiwi and my sister-in-law is from the States. Every Christmas she makes us her Thanksgiving sweet potatoes with marshmallows. Yum!

        1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

          I find it amusing how many Brits/Europeans in my life hope every year to get an invite to a Thanksgiving dinner. I havent done thanksgiving since we moved here three years ago, for a number of reasons (mostly because we dont have entertainment space right now, but should next year). Some day I will and they can all realize its exactly the same as Christmas dinner, minus chipolatas and paper hats!

          I was thinking of maybe doing a special meal just for myself and my partner next weekend by making some stuffing, roasting a sweet potato, and cooking a turkey breast, but eh. Its just not the same.

  2. A.C. Stefano*

    OMG look at the precious baby. She looks so pleased!

    Oh! I heard back from the publisher last night, and she loved the chapters I sent and wants the rest of the book. So I emailed it to her last night, and now it’s just another waiting game. But I might…actually be getting published. O.O

    And I’ve already got a few ideas for sequels.

  3. Myrin*

    Alison, I don’t remember if you said something about this before already but how are your numerous illnesses doing by now?

      1. Pinkladiesroll*

        If you need a good OTC decongestant, you can get real sudafed at the pharmacy counter, you just have to sign for it because it is restricted, but still OTC. Good for head and muffled hearing.

        1. Kyrielle*

          That one depends on where you are! Here in Oregon you are required to have a prescription. (Or drive to Washington, where you can get it with photo ID, even if it’s an Oregon driver’s license….)

          1. Sarah G*

            No way — I didn’t know that! Bummer! I only go through about one box of sudafed per 1-2 yrs, but I would be BUMMED if I needed it and couldn’t get the good stuff without an Rx. Ugh!

  4. Sparkly Librarian*

    Passport photos today! Here’s hoping they’re better than my Costco ID photo, since I’m getting them at Costco.

    1. Nancy B*

      We got ours at Costco. They are fine. It’s okay to smile as long as you don’t show teeth. My husband thought he wasn’t allowed to smile at all, and he looks more than a little serious (actually–angry). The kids and I all have closed-lip smiles and look fine.

    2. katamia*

      Good luck! My last passport photos turned out so bad (the color was way off–I think they must have been processed wrong somehow) that I was actually glad when my dog chewed up that passport so I can try to get something that makes me look human.

      Still need to get new pictures, though.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        For my passport I had to go in person to the passport office when I was last home, so I went to a photo shop which offered (more expensive) passport photo shoots. They took several pictures, then let you pick the best one. For other photo ID, I use one of those photo booths which is half the price.

        Mind you, none of the images are ever flattering!

    3. Jessesgirl72*

      We got ours done at Walgreens.

      The bored teenager behind the photo counter does not take awesome pictures.

    4. LizB*

      Good luck! I find comfort in telling myself that after taking an international flight, I’m inevitably going to look like an exhausted, crazed mess… so it’s okay that the photo in my passport makes me look like an exhausted, crazed mess, because at least it’ll match my appearance.

    5. LibbyG*

      Isn’t there an Erma Bombeck quip about this? If you look like your passport photo, it’s time to go home. :-)

      1. Jean*

        “When you look like your passport photo, it’s time to go home” –book by Erma Bombeck. copyright 1991. (Hat tip to Amazon.)
        Sigh. Erma Bombeck was really funny.

    6. Anono-me*

      So how did they turn out?

      Also thanks for mentioning this, I need to get photos and renew my passport also. And the sooner the better, as I have heard that the beginning of next year is expected to be a busy time for passport applications.

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        They were very quick and painfully realistic. My hair is all over the place, and you can’t tell I’m wearing a speck of makeup (I put on more than I usually wear, but kept it natural), to the point that I still have dark circles under my eyes. But hey – I figure I’ll look drawn and frazzled when fleeing the country, so I’m okay with the realism.

  5. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    The good:
    I’m starting to look at homes this weekend with the SO (we live in separate places, and my apt’s overheated, the laundry room’s broken, it’s a mess that I’m ready to escape, the building’s deteriorating and I have $$ saved so far). Also, the SO just got a higher-paying job (slightly higher-paying) offer. Yay!

    The bad:
    Houses are ridiculously expensive here, and the only thing I can find I can afford are 3 BR houses 2 hours’ subway distance away (or 1 hour driving one way). It would take me another year to save for a down payment on a house and by that time prices will probably go up even higher. ($240,000 houses versus $600,000 houses). Family help isn’t an option.

    Thoughts: I want kids, a cat, and a small garden, and I want to get away from city life–find my own oasis. I just want to make sure a 1-2 hour commute won’t drain me. Current commute is 30 min. But I walk sometimes so it’s an hour walking. Thoughts?

    Question: Any mega-distance commuters here? Is it better to have a pricey condo in a posh area, or a 3 bedroom in a super far place?

    (Also, need good vibes for family member going thru chemo now…)

    1. AnonAcademic*

      Have you ever had a long commute? I have always tried to keep mine under an hour because more than that really affects my quality of life. Of the people I’ve known with 90+ minute commutes some grinned and beared it (especially if they could take a train or listen to audiobooks in the car) and for others it became a major dealbreaker that motivated them to move. If you’re likely to hit traffic, bad weather, etc. it can really be rough as 90 minutes turns into 3-4 hours on a regular basis.

      Personally I’d prefer an apartment with a small garden or near a park, where I can walk to the store, versus a larger space all my own where I have to drive 15+ minutes to get to everything and spend up to 20 hours a week commuting.

    2. Rey*

      I drove an hour each way to work to two different jobs for a year. Some things I learned:

      -The kind of drive makes a huge difference. One commute was a low-stress highway, the other a 4-lane interstate. I enjoyed the former and hated the latter.

      -The job itself makes a difference. One job I loved, which made the already ok commute more bearable. The other job I hated, which made the bleh commute even worse.

      -The longer your commute is, the more extra time you need to add for things to go wrong. Accidents, traffic jams, and getting stuck behind someone going 45 in a 55 will all slow you down, and the more driving you do, the more likely you are to run into at least 2 different things.

      -If you are driving, you need to make more room in your monthly budget for gas and regular car maintenance. Regular long distance drives will find any small problems in your vehicle and make them large problems.

      Best of luck to you, and good vibes for your family member who is going through chemo!

      1. Solidus Pilcrow*

        Oh yeah, the type of commute and what you’re personally more comfortable with can make all the difference. I’ll take a 90 minute drive on a rural highway over 45 minutes of stop and go city expressway/surface streets most any time.

    3. the gold digger*

      I took the train to work when I lived in Miami. It was 80 minutes each way. The only reason it worked was my boss was really flexible and didn’t care about face time as long as I got my work done. I would take my computer on the train and work or I would just read. But it was a hassle – I would much rather live close to work.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I had a job about 30 minutes from home. I remember one ice storm when it took me 2 hours to get to work. I was so frazzled that I could not function. I also remember one ride home that took 1.5 hours, where I could not even see the edge of the hood on my car.
      As the years roll by this stuff gets draining. I still have a scar on my face from one accident. (Fortunately, it does not really look like a scar.)
      Don’t paint yourself into a corner where you have to make the long commute or face losing your property.

      I now have a job that is about 20 minutes on a good day. My worst ride home so far has been 45 minutes. What a difference. It’s still tough to plow out 3 feet of snow, work all day then come home and do more snow. But at least it’s not the ride that is killing me anymore.

      I would not chose a spendy piece of property no matter where it was located. Life happens. Suddenly you need a replacement vehicle or 3k worth of dental work. Choosing a less expensive property has saved my butt financially so. many. times.

    5. periwinkle*

      This is your starter home. Unless you’re planning to have kids right away, find a slightly smaller oasis. A 2-bedroom place in a closer location that is in good condition but needs updating would be a good option. You could renovate bit by bit – replace old carpet, swap out fixtures, paint, redo a bathroom, and generally just make it a nice peaceful space. When it’s time for a larger kid-friendly place, you’ll have the proceeds from selling your starter place plus you hopefully will both have higher incomes.

      I’ll second the recommendation to not spend your max possible mortgage. When we bought our first ever house, we looked at places that were no more than 60% of our theoretical maximum approval and bought something that was about 40% of the max. We didn’t have a lot of cash ready for a down payment (had a bad apartment situation and needed to move soon) so we’re stuck with PMI – it was worth it to us so we could buy with only 5% down instead of waiting a few more years. It’s not a luxurious house by any means, but it’s in a nice enough neighborhood that’s conveniently located. Eventually we’ll sell and upgrade to a more posh place, maybe.

      Long commutes are no fun. Long commutes in the DC area are really no fun. Okay, short ones there aren’t necessarily any better. So glad we moved away…

    6. Anono-me*

      I intermittently have a longer commute. For me; after about 3 weeks, I wind up using up all my patience on the commute in and am short tempered for the rest of the day at work, and then it starts all again for the commute home.

      If you are planning to raise children in the new home, remember that a longer commute will mean less parenting time and higher child care costs.

      Please consider talking to a real estate professional. Sometimes you can get what you want more easily if you don’t get caught up how you think it needs to be packaged. In my case, I wanted my own laundry room, but what I really wanted was to be able to do my laundry in my own home. My real estate agent found me the perfect place, but it didn’t have a laundry room. The washer and dryer were in the kitchen. I never would have found it by myself.

      Good luck on the house hunting and good wishes to your loved one.

    7. Nancy B*

      Some people love a long commute because it creates a separation between work and home, but others really hate them. In fact, some researchers have concluded that long commutes can negatively impact happiness. A quick Google search will bring you lots of articles like this one from Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2014/12/07/want-to-be-happier-change-your-commute-or-change-your-attitude/#49030a995a73

      I wish your family member well. Chemo is so so very hard.

    8. Hi.*

      My commute is 4 hours round trip (and cost $27 a day for parking in my work garage or $27 a day to park at the train station and take the commuter train into the city).

      It takes away my will to live. Think really hard about a long commute before you buy a house. I love my house and my job but the commute is absolutely soul sucking.

      1. Hi.*

        Sorry for typos. Mobile posting! *costs

        Also it’s 4 hrs round trip regardless of method, driving or train. Driving sucks but train can be even harder. So crowded and if the weather is bad the mile and a half walk to my office is really unpleasant. It also only runs every 50 min in the afternoon so if it takes me longer to walk or I get hung up for a minute I’m stuck at the stations for almost a full hour. I just want to get HOME. my commute is really taking a toll on me. I miss my wife, I hate leaving at 5:45 am and not getting home till 7 or 8. Awful.

        1. HardwoodFloors*

          You might be me. I used to leave at 5:30 AM to go to Boston from another state and on good days got home at 7:30 PM. One bad snowstorm got me home 5 hours after leaving work early.

      2. Shabu Shabu*

        Agreed. I also had a 4 hour commute. I did that for almost 4 years. Absolutely soul sucking. Not worth it!!!!

    9. Nye*

      I loathe commuting and would do almost anything to avoid it. For years I had a walking commute, then I moved to the DC area and work either in the city or on the Chesapeake Bay. In the city is 40-60 minutes on public transit, which is fine. The Bay is an hour drive each way, minimum, with huge potential for traffic. Your mileage may vary (literally!), but that commute just sucks away all my happiness when I have to do it regularly. And I love my job and co-workers, the place I work is itself beautiful, and I like the house we rent and the area we live in. But I’d live in a shack if it were closer to work. To me it feels like totally wasted time (losing 10+ hours every week is rough), and I find the drive itself extremely stressful. Doesn’t help that I had a rollover accident coming in to work on a Sunday last year, and I pass at least one bad accident almost every time I commute.

      Just my two cents worth, but I’d say you should rent (if possible) in the area you’re thinking of buying and see if you can handle the commute on a regular basis. Some people can. I can’t.

    10. chickaletta*

      The novelty of a long commute wears off real fast. It affects everything: how much sleep you get, how much time you have for other activities, where your friends are. And if you’re like me, traffic makes me frustrated, it was a horrible way to begin and end every day. And if you plan on staying in this house after you have kids, keep in mind that means dropping them off at daycare very early and picking them up very late, or brining them to a daycare close to your work which means they have to be in the car all that time. When they become school age it only gets more complicated.

      As you can tell, I’m not a fan of commutes at all. I left a pretty cool city because I couldn’t afford to live in it without a 2 hour commute each way. It was a lifestyle I wasn’t willing to invest in.

    11. Myrin*

      My commute is more than one hour each way and while I don’t enjoy it, I don’t really mind it. I’ve been doing it for years and I’m just the kind of person who doesn’t really care about that kind of thing. I’m taking public transit though and I feel like I might be more annoyed if I had to actually navigate traffic all that time. Additionally, I just really love the rural place I live and wouldn’t want to move, least of all to the expensive and ugly city I work and study at. To me, it’s all about priorities and what you can and can’t deal with.

    12. Stellaaaaa*

      A long commute is a deal breaker for me. I value my sleep and my coffee time. A short commute makes my workday feel like just one component of my day rather than the only thing I have time and energy for.

      Don’t buy a house now under the assumption that all the things you want will come to pass exactly as you imagine them. I also have reservations about making major lifestyle and financial investments with someone before you’re legally married; you can’t assume his money is your money quite yet. It would be different if you were moving into a rental or if this was somehow the most convenient solution for both of you but you’re presenting two not-great options here, with the underpinning assumption that your partner would be ok with you making a sacrifice (commute vs the home you really want) based on him being in the picture.

      And don’t rush into a $240k purchase just to escape your current situation. That never works out.

    13. BRR*

      It depends on your personality. I have an almost two hour commute each way three days a week and I hate. It’s brutal. I’m exhausted all the time, my evenings are short, and I feel like I need to dedicate my weekend to resting. It’s destroyed my work life balance. I can’t imagine doing it with children. Doing it on a train is better than driving that far but the crowds to get on the train and off the train etc are like Black Friday crowds to me.

    14. Jen*

      Totally depends on the long commute. In the Boston suburbs, a commute that long would make me drive off the road in rage every day- I’ve done it (the distance, not going off the road!). Somewhere where you drive 60mph for a long time is totally different.

      What about a duplex type option? You could always up-size in a few years, but a great starter place. You’ll build equity/ride the housing wave in something smaller but when you have to spend $$ to upgrade you are at least going to recognize profit on the house.

    15. Jen*

      Oh- and you mention kids. Your tolerance for a long commute will disappear with kids. Daycare dropoff, dr’s appointments, the whole shebang is just 100x more pressure on your schedule so unless you can work during the commute (eg be in work 6 hours with a 1 hour working commute on either end) I give it a big fat no.

      1. DeadQuoteOlympics*

        + million. I did an hour commute each way with fast highway driving, so not so bad, but my spouse handled the day care and it was on campus where he taught – so his flexible schedule handled emergencies, mid-day sick pickups, etc. The most stressful six weeks of my life were when he was teaching in Europe and I had to do it — and there was construction on my drive. Thank god for my neighbors and their super reliable high school kids. When I stopped after a job switch, I could not believe how much extra time I had in my day to actually interact with my family, work out, live life… I also learned to drive extremely fast and aggressively like the other a**h***s on my drive and it took me a couple of years to unlearn it.

        As my boss at the time said, commuting is like prison — nobody comes out of it a better person.

    16. Anonny*

      I used to have a 3 min commented with no traffic and now I have a 25 min commented with no traffic. However, when I add dropping off both my SO and child my commute is around an hour each way.

      Make a list of pros snd cons for thr communte and for the place you want to buy. Find out what your deal breakers are. I gave up the short commute and tiny house because my house now is 4 times as large, I have a huge yard, and my pool almost the size of the house we used to live in, less bylaw restrictions and I live closers to decent household and grocery stores. Also for the price we paid for this house we could have gotten 1/2 the house and 1/ the yard closers to town.

    17. Melody Pond*

      My personal preference is for a smaller space in an awesome location, preferably with high Walk Scores and Transit Scores. I’d rather invest in convertible furniture so that spaces can be easily converted for different uses (murphy beds, hide-a-bed couches, day beds that can serve as couches but also pull out to a short king sized bed, etc), than pay year round for space that I’m only using part of the time.

      My partner and I live in a 566 square foot studio in the Pearl District of Portland, OR – we don’t plan to have kids, and we typically have 1-2 cats. I’m able to walk to work, and there’s amazing public transit everywhere, not to mention grocery stores and restaurants and repair shops galore, all within walking distance.

      My sister, who has a dog, and wants kids, has a very small three bedroom house with her husband (just shy of 1300 square feet, I think?) in a neighborhood that she loves, near the DFW airport. She was thinking for a long time that she was going to want to upgrade to a bigger house eventually, but then recently decided that it makes much more sense to invest in convertible furniture and other upgrades to their existing space, so that they can stay in a location that they love, and maybe not have to choose between paying for their own retirement and funding their kids’ college. By staying where they are, they expect to be able to pay off their mortgage in the next 4-6 years, and they are currently 28 and 31, I believe.

      So to sum up – it’s definitely a personal preference thing, but I fall solidly in the camp of minimizing the space you need, and then picking a place with that square footage in the most ideal location. There are lots of upgrades and improvements that can be made to use space more efficiently. But you can’t fix location.

    18. Natalie*

      I’m on team no long commute, especially if I have to do the driving. If it was a long train ride it might be tolerable, but definitely not an hour driving.

      I would also avoid buying a “starter home”, by which I mean a home you only like because you assume you’ll sell it in 10 years. You really can’t count on the housing market. That’s not to say you shouldn’t buy a smaller home, just make sure you actually like it and it will work for you long term (even if that isn’t ideal). Putting yourself in a position where you will likely have to move with timing you don’t control is high risk, especially now.

      1. Stellaaaaa*

        This is so true. My mom has a friend who’s constantly complaining that she’s having trouble selling her house for “what it’s worth.” The problem is that it’s worth way less than what she thinks it is. No one in their late 20s or early 30s is going to pay mom’s friend’s asking price for a house that hasn’t seen major upgrades since the ’70s, doesn’t have a garage or a paved driveway, and won’t be coming with any major appliances that don’t have to be replaced fairly soon. Additionally, 30 years of cats will take their toll on a home.

        So yeah Carmen, if you’re planning on buying a house for you, your kids, and pets to live in for 10 years before reselling, I’d think long and hard about how serious you really are about this plan to resell.

    19. NewDoc*

      I recently transitioned from a 10 minute commute to a 1 hour commute (driving on an interstate in a rural area with basically no traffic, cruise control almost the whole way). Some things that have made it doable:
      – the drive is really easy
      – the switch happened as I transitioned out of residency training into an attending job, so my overall hours got *SO* much better (I am full time, but went from 60-80 hours a week of patient care in residency to 32-40 hours a week in patient care
      – I can do my one day of non-patient-facing time from home each week, so I’m only doing the drive four days a week
      – we haven’t hit winter yet, but I live in an area of the country that only gets snow <5 x per winter
      – we are living close to my husband's job, so on weekends he is the main driver

    20. AcademiaNut*

      What about renting a place in that area for a year? That way, if after a few months of the daily commute you find that you hate your life and dread going to work, you aren’t stuck with a mortgage and looking for a new job.

      So far the comments from anyone who has had a commute like this are overwhelmingly that they hated it, and it seriously affected their quality of life, and it would really suck to discover that you agree after you’ve bought the house, and either have to suck it up or change jobs.

      Personally, I’d get a smaller place further in, or not buy at all. I live in a big city, and we’ve basically written off ever buying. If we bought, we’d pay more per month for a smaller place in a worse building, have to move outside the city and buy a car (traffic here is seriously nuts in an “I can’t believe they just did that” sense), we’d be on the hook for repairs *and* we’d be stuck with an underwater mortgage if the economy in China takes a nosedive.

    21. thehighercommonsense*

      I’ve never had a commute under 45 minutes since I graduated (six years ago). Over the years, it’s included highway driving, country roads, public transit, and interstates.

      It sucks. It really does. Trying to manage life around the commute (doctor’s appointments, community commitments, meetings, etc) becomes a lot harder because you have to add that time. On public transit you can read, but if something goes wrong, you feel even more helpless because you’re stuck there with no possibility of taking an alternate route. Driving in bad conditions is worse because you have to do it longer. Etc.

      I actually really enjoy driving and public transit, but having that 2 hr drain (minimum) on my day, every day…well, it’s really tough.

      I’d strongly recommend purchasing a smaller house, like others have suggested, and use the time to save, maybe eventually get jobs that will allow you to buy into the more expensive market when you have kids, and build your financial cushion. And do your best to preserve the short commute.

    22. Seuuze*

      I did a commute of 1 hour each way which wasn’t as awful as it could have been due to most of the traffic going in the opposite direction and the rural places I passed through were full of wonderful wildlife. Oh, and I could speed, but cautiously. But I was never in the mood to go anywhere on the weekends, especially since there were enough times that I was at work late. I often grocery shopped after work to avoid the rush on weekends. I didn’t have any children and the spouse sort of helped out. But then I did the math. And it was 40 hours a month of commuting. This is not something I would choose to do again. It really was exhausting. Why not rent instead?

    23. ginger ale for all*

      Dave Ramsey has addressed buying a house together on his show and he has advised newlyweds to rent for a year before purchasing. The stress of combining two lives and finding the we and us in the world on top of the stress of a home purchase is too much. I know you didn’t mention marriage but I thought his thoughts on it would be worth thinking about.

      1. ginger ale for all*

        Also, I am on the short commute team. So save while renting and keep an eye on the market.

        And sending out positive vibes for the chemo.

  6. Come On Eileen*

    Have any of you successfully created a personal Facebook schedule or policy for yourself? I need to cut back on the time I spend on FB for many reasons (too much post-election anxiety from FB friends, too much comparing myself to others on FB and feeling like I come up short, too much mindless scrolling, etc.). But I don’t want to give it up altogether — it’s a great outlet for staying connected with people when I don’t go overboard. I’m taking this week off FB, and my sponsor has suggested I try to only check it a few days a week for one hour max. Which sounds simple but won’t be easy. So just wondering how those of you with a love/hate relationship with Facebook manage the time you spend there. Have you implented a schedule that works for you?

    1. Some Sort of Management Consulta*

      Nope.

      I should, though.

      My biggest hurdle is not being able to download a blocking addon to my work computer and lacking the self discipline to not use it.

      I’ve not figured out how to solve it yet.

      Good luck!

      1. Louise*

        Same here. I’ve just started my first “professional” job and KNOW I spend too much time on Facebook, but the habit is so ingrained in me from years of being a student that I don’t know how to change it.

    2. LadyKelvin*

      I deleted the facebook app last week when I needed a break from all the politics on Facebook. It has helped curb my mindless facebook checking a lot, especially first thing in the morning (I read the news in bed on my phone) and before I go to sleep at night. Plus whenever I’m not on my computer, most nights and most of the weekend, I’m not on Facebook. The other thing I did was log out of Facebook every time I leave. Then I have to actively click on log-in and it gives me just that little pause to realize where I am and that I don’t need to look at Facebook right now. I still struggle with too much Facebook, but removing it from my phone has helped a ton.

      1. Rob Lowe can't read*

        I did the same thing – no more app on my phone or iPad, and FB is blocked at work (not that I’d want to log on using my work laptop anyway). I actually just logged in for the first time in about 10 days yesterday, and had exactly zero interesting notifications, so now I feel like I’m not really missing much.

    3. Adam*

      I would suggest scheduling it in so you know when you have time to do it.
      -At this time I workout
      -At this time I pick up the kids
      -At this time I check Facebook

      If you know you have time set aside for FB it might be easier to resist looking outside of that.

      Also, remove FB apps from any mobile device you might use so it’s contained to one home computer or device. Also turn off all the notifications you can.

      1. Working Mom*

        I’m late replying – but I think this is a great idea. To schedule the time so you know you have it, and schedule a time limit. Let’s say you want to check in briefly each day – maybe it’s just 20 minutes each day. If it’s weekly, maybe you let yourself dive in for 1 hour on Saturday morning, etc. I think scheduling time for it and also limiting the time will help.

        Personally, I just deactivated entirely. I don’t remember how long it’s been, several weeks maybe? Couple months? I’m not sure – but I am SO glad I did it. Sure, I miss out on knowing whats going on with some friends that I don’t text with already – but it really hasn’t impacted my life at all. I highly recommend it! :)

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Not really your question but parallel, I go through my personal emails by checking which emails have a personally written message and which ones are forwards or contain excessive links.

      I do the personal messages first. Then I look at the remainder and I only read what I absolutely need to read, such as something for a group I belong to. In short I have a definite reason for reading the email. When it is time for bed, then I am done. Bed time is not negotiable.

    5. Cari*

      Yes! I recently put limits on my Facebook viewing. I look at it 10 minutes in the morning and 10 at night. I may also have to log in for work-related purposes, but since I’m not the only FB administrator for my workplace, I try to keep that to a minimum/delegate it to the main FB admin. I took the app off my phone but left the Messenger app on so my messaging friends can communicate with me (mostly my babysitter). So far, that is working.

      I also unfriended a lot of people and changed my name to an alias.

    6. Episkey*

      Ugh, I am so addicted to FB that I struggle with this a ton.

      After the election I did delete the app from my phone, because about 90% of my friends were posting horrific doom & gloom and it was turbo-increasing my anxiety….but here’s how addicted I am — I would click on my Safari app and check it in the browser. ::hangs head in shame::

    7. Marche*

      I stop looking at it at 12:30 and don’t check it again until 5:30. Rather than go cold turkey I’v been weaning myself off regular and frequent checks, and it’s been working pretty well.

      Additionally – if there are people you have on FB that you don’t want to remove but don’t want to see on your feed, you can remove them from your feed. That was a very happy discovery for me.

    8. FD*

      I’ve cut it off entirely post-election. If you’re going that route, IMO the easiest way to do it is to modify the hosts file-just Google “block website hosts file”.

      If you live alone, I think some routers will let you selectively block certain pages at certain times, but that’d apply to everyone on the same wifi.

    9. TL -*

      Can you make it more boring to look at? Clean out your friend list (are you really friends with them? Are you interested in their lives?) and once you’ve got that down, hide a whole bunch more of them from your feed and ask to see less from others. I think only 25% of my friends are on my feed – either they’re boring or I don’t like their posts. So my feed is just not that interesting to check more than 2-3x/day. I only see maybe 15 new posts a day.

      This works well for me – when I want to see what Eric is up to, I go to his page and “catch up” but I’m not inundated by the myriad details of his life on a daily basis

      1. lionelrichiesclayhead*

        I did this and it really worked for me. I unfollowed everyone I don’t really know that well or don’t need/want to keep up with and this made my feed incredibly easy and quick to browse. It literally takes me 5 minutes to scroll through the new posts before the old stuff pops back up and I’m signing off.

      2. The IT Manager*

        That’s my recommendation. I can’t cut FB cold turkey because a lot of my social activities are arranged through FB events.

        Unfollow (but remain friends with):
        – people who post so much or like so many things that they overwhelm your feed
        – old friends you’re no longer in touch with (Christmas card friends)
        – people who posts things that upset you (be it because you vehemently disagree or you agree and it upsets you)
        You can always go check out what these people are up to by clicking on their name and you’ll see their timeline posts. (This allow to to miss all of their “likes”)

        Unfriend people who are no longer or never were your real-life friend. If your only communication is through FB posts (no IMs, messages, emails, phone calls,face-to-face contact) then you may feel like friends because you’re keeping up with their news, but there’s nothing personal, it’s only a public blast.

    10. emlen*

      What worked for me was temporarily deactivating my account for a couple of months. I had some things I needed to buckle down and concentrate on, and found that idle FB checking/browsing was occupying far too much of my time. After the first week, the urge to check FB disappeared. When I reactivated it after the planned interval elapsed, I found I would go days without looking. Like you, I find it too valuable for staying in touch to delete entirely (no matter how often I want to just kill the whole thing) – my friends and former colleagues are spread around the world, and regular communication with them would probably never happen via any other medium. Just post a few days before you disappear that you’re busy and have to leave temporarily, say when you’ll be back and how people can get in touch if they have to reach you, and then stick to it. If there’s anything you’re always wishing you had more time to do (read books, stay up to date on the news, etc), keep the required materials with you and reach for those every time you want to check FB.

      Digest version: Cold turkey until the urge dies of starvation. Fill the void with something meaningful to you.

    11. Kay*

      I’m struggling a lot with this right now. It’s a source of horrible anxiety for me but also a source of comfort and I can’t decide which side to come down on. For now, I’m staying as it’s a good point of organizing with a support network, but I’m trying to make conscious choices to put my phone down, leave it in another room, etc.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This sounds like the type of thing I would wrestle with.
        Something that is truly comforting, does not have an anxiety producing component. Something is either comforting or it’s not. If we have to wonder then the answer is, it’s not.

    12. Nicole*

      I like the suggestion to make your feed “boring”. You can hide people from your feed. That really helps curb the jealously especially if you gain nothing positive from seeing the posts. Get rid of all the clutter and not only will you spend less time on it you’ll also feel more positive from using it.

      I also suggest turning off notifications so you’re not tempted to check it everytime someone comments or posts to your wall.

    13. LibbyG*

      I set a rule for myself of only looking on weekends. It’s just right for me. I can catch the birthdays, “like” a bunch of things, follow a couple links and then leave it off. If limiting it to weekends seems too daunting, you could try staying off every other day. I do that with sweets sometimes. Getting through a day doesn’t feel hard if I know I can indulge the next day.

    14. Emily*

      You might consider using a browser add-on (like LeechBlock) or some kind of phone app that forces you to limit your time. A lot of them will let you set things up so that you can check it for a certain amount of time in a certain time period, or can only check it during specific hours.

    15. Raia*

      I’ve been successfully off of facebook for months, if not a whole year already. First step is deleting the app, so the notifications won’t make you remember that you’re missing it. After that, it’s just about finding more interesting things to do in place of checking it, like learning coding or plowing through my video game cue instead of getting jealous or irritated at what other people broadcast to the world without a care. The people you care about will connect with you other ways, and you’ll reach out as well. It’ll be just fine.

      I look at mine about once a month and what earth shattering news do I miss? Absolutely nothing.

    16. MsCHX*

      The one thing I did was remove the app. That limited me quite a bit. No notifications…so I would periodically check through my browser.

      I deactivated in September and I don’t miss it!

    17. Rahera*

      Yes, I have FB free days marked in the calendar, three a week. I don’t always observe them but they remind me to ask myself on those days if I reeeeeally feel like checking in or if I want to leave all of that till tomorrow. :)

    18. Ella*

      I deleted Facebook recently due to post-election stress, but one thing I found helpful at work was RescueTime. There is a fee. I was able to find a half price coupon code for $36 a year. That is good- there’s a focusing feature on it where you can take a break from whatever distracting websites as needed (30 min, whatever), or you can set it so that you only get x minutes or x hours between whatever hours you set.

    19. SeekingBetter*

      I was never a FB junkie, but do have a schedule for when I check FB. I check once in the morning and once at night each day 95% of the time. The other 5% has me checking it three times a day. I only spend five minutes scrolling through the wall and check to see if anyone DM’d me.

    20. Miles*

      Find more personal ways to keep in touch with your favorite/closest friends. Wall posts and facebook messages don’t have half the appeal when you’ve heard the full story over the phone or a get-together.

      Scheduling and too much self-discipline make me cranky so this is the kind of solution I come up with.

      If checking is really compulsive though, cutting yourself off for a month might be a good cleanse, especially if you use that time to get some regularly scheduled in-person things with friends set up.

    21. ARH*

      FB addict here. Systems to stop me make a huge difference.
      First rule: no facebook at all on my phone. I don’t have the app, but no problem, I would access in the browser. :/ So I actually bought an app that allows you to block websites on chrome for android called TrendMicro Mobile Security. I thought it was a bit expensive, but I couldn’t find anything else that could help me do that. Anyone else use something like that on your phone, or have other recommendations?
      Second, I use browser extensions on my computer. On chrome, I have one called “Time spend on Facebook” (yes, that is spelled correctly) that adds a little timer to the facebook page to tell you how many minutes or hours you’ve spent of your day on this site. I also have (which I absolutely LOVE) the “News Feed Eradicator for Facebook,” which does exactly what it promises! You can access all of facebook, but the newsfeed is GONE. It is amazing and wonderful!
      Now, because I am an addict, I was getting around this. I downloaded firefox to access facebook. SO, I had to get technology to help me there too. On firefox, I decided to use “LeechBlock,” and I set it so that I can access facebook for two minutes every hour before it redirects to a website of my choosing. (You can set whatever time restrictions you like.) It seems like two minutes is about the amount of time to get into the mindless scrolling zone, and then I’m cut off, yay.
      I also downloaded a facebook newsfeed blocker for safari as well.
      If you can resist temptation without closing every loophole, kudos to you, but for me the best way to not have facebook steal my life, without completely losing touch with fb friends, was to set up these walls so I don’t have to use my mental energy and willpower on resisting facebook. Best wishes in the fight!

    22. EmilyAnn*

      I gave my password to my sister after the election, then she changed and I can’t have it back for a while. She did the same with her account. Post-election facebook was too much for the both of us. Not sure when I’ll go back. I’ve deleted the app before but then I would just use the browser.

    23. AliceBD*

      Good luck!

      Best wishes, but no advice — I am an administrator for multiple Facebook groups and pages for work, so by the time I end the day I am generally sick of looking at the Facebook interface.

  7. Myrin*

    So, some of you might remember my intriguing tale of two rowdy teenagers who sat across from me on the train and talked about how they had stolen and vanalised a vehicle and its garage.

    So I was asked to come to the police station yesterday to give my statement – which, btw, they had to do in writing because they couldn’t reach me by phone. I said I hadn’t had any unknown number calling me and the officer was super confused but eventually figured out that his colleague I reached when I called the police to tell them I saw the perps had mixed up my mobile and my landline number so that neither was right! I totally feel extremely protected by these very competent people.

    Anyway, I gave my statement but the officer was kind of “meh” about the whole thing. Which, understandable since it wasn’t that huge of a case but I honestly expected a bit more enthusiasm for the details I could provide. I mean, I had the name of at least one of the guys’ case worker at the employment agency! Well, whatever, I had to look at some pictures of known juvenile offenders and the officer typed up my statement and I had to sign it and then I got to go home again. All in all, I’m pretty sure they could find the guys but somehow they feel only lukewarm about actually doing so? Not my problem, I guess but still, it was a bit of a weird experience.

    1. Simms*

      I find the police tend to give short shrift to anything less then physical harm to someone. My family called the police several times about people breaking into our house and garage. Nothing was really ever done and even when they could get prints they never bothered to. I’ve also called about someone stalking me in an old neighborhood and they didn’t even bother to come out and get my statement for that.

      1. Anonymous of course*

        My son’s college rental house was broken into twice (he didn’t live there the second time) and nothing really got done. They just had a police report so they could get the insurance payment.

      2. Jessesgirl72*

        It all depends on how busy the department is. Our suburb doesn’t have a lot of murders or other violent crime, so they take property crimes really seriously. A couple years ago during Christmas break, we had kids cut through our back yard- my husband went out to ask WTF they were doing. They gave some lame story about looking for a different street. Well, later that day, the police stopped because one of the houses behind us had gotten broken into- someone has smashed their sliding glass door- and the footprints led through our yard and had we seen anything. We gave a description of them and their car (parked across the street) and that they were carrying a snow shovel.

        In a different area, my cousin had her car broken into. There were footprints in the snow, which they pointed out to the cops. The cops were meh and couldn’t be bothered to follow them, and barely bothered taking the statement.

        1. Myrin*

          That’s actually part of why I was so surprised by the “meh” reaction – we don’t have much crime here at all, the one thing that recently spiked are break-ins but other than that, there were about four murders in what is probably equivalent to an American “county” in my lifetime.

          I mean, the officer was very friendly but since the victim actually got his stolen vehicle back, the only remaining problem is who pays for the damage done to the garage and while he seemed to feel really shitty for the victim he was also very “well, if these guys haven’t ever done anything before, you can’t find them” and I was just… YOU KNOW THEIR CASEWORKER AT THE EMPLOYMENT AGENCY. We literally have the lowest unemployment rate in the whole country so this one worker will have about 80 clients. Some of those will be female, many way too old, others not living in the town where the perps obviously lived. All of that should narrow it down quite a bit but apparently I’m the only one thinking of that?

          (No offence meant, of course. I’m sure there are reasons for them to act this way and that I’m imagining things to be way easier than they actually are but goddammit.)

    2. Dan*

      I’ve been less than satisfied by the services I’ve received from the local PD, which is one of many suburban agencies in a major metro area. For the most part, the average law abiding citizen (er, voting taxpayer) encounters the police under one of two circumstances: 1) Traffic stops, and 2) What amounts to petty crimes.

      So here’s the rub: When the encounters with the PD can be summed up as “they love to write tickets, but when I actually need them they don’t care”, well, that certainly doesn’t bode well for the agencies when they want more money.

      On a somewhat related note, the DC Airports Authority police department has ticket writing authority on the Dulles Toll Road. There’s about a four-mile stretch of road leading into the airport that has cops sitting all over the place. (I once counted four different cruisers on that short stretch.) All they do is sit and write tickets. One of my lawyer friends actually wrote the PD, asking which elected official they report to, so he could vote them out of office. If you have that many cops sitting around to write tickets, you have too many cops.

      1. Slippy*

        It isn’t that they have too many cops. The incentives are all wrong. Writing tickets is a major source of funding for police departments in and around the DC metro area and many officers have implicit or explicit quotas to meet.
        TLDR: Don’t speed at the end of the month

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I can see these things happening and I can tell a couple stories myself, so I empathize.

      However, I was shocked to learn that some officers are paid as little as $12 per hour and they do not even work full time. I could go on. But it is more stuff in this similar vein. Our systems could use some modernizing and I am not referring to the technology. :( Law enforcement could use an Alison’s AAM, also.

    4. MsChandandlerBong*

      I have never had a positive experience with police officers. I had someone hack into my Walmart account and use my saved debit card to order a $500 laptop. They were stupid enough to use their address and phone number on the order, so I was able to tell the police exactly where the person lived. Nothing happened. I once called 911 because four young men were trying to break into the house next door (I lived in a duplex at the time, so next door = “the other half of my house.” The guy rolled up, didn’t even put the car in park, and when he saw the guys running away, just said there was nothing he could do and left. Someone came into our back yard at 3:55 a.m. one day and pried the door off of our basement. Called the police, and they did absolutely nothing. It’s like they aren’t willing to do anything unless you investigate/solve the crime AND bring them the perpetrator in the back seat of your car.

  8. Some Sort of Management Consulta*

    Soooo…

    How many planners (like the Passion Planner or Erin Condren’s Life planner) would be too many for one person with no debt to buy in a week?

    Asking for no particular reason at all. (Just don’t look at my email inbox.)

      1. Some Sort of Management Consulta*

        Puh!

        A Passion Planner (on sale!) and a Purposeful Planner in white leatherette.
        But I’m eyeing a inkwell press or Erin Condren or Day designer as well. For not other reason than that… I like them.

        What about you? Any specific planners you’re buying?

        1. Rosa*

          It’s my dream to have a job where a day designer would actually be useful.

          I’m not a busy person so I go for the smaller, Korean, book bound planners, but I do appreciate all those designer planners on instagram!

        2. Rob Lowe can't read*

          I don’t have a busy enough personal life to justify an Erin Condren life planner, but I splurged on the teacher lesson planner and I love it. The set up works well for me, and as silly as this might sound, having my lesson plans in something that looks nice makes me really happy.

        3. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I got the Rituals for Living Dreambook and Planner and a cheapo Bluesky wirebound monthly/weekly planner. I want an Inkwell Press planner and an Erin Condren one, but my ultimate goal is to find my one and only planner that I use every year from now on. I tried planner decorating and bought a bunch of washi tape and stickers, but after a short time I learned that I want my planner to be primarily functional, so I use the washi tape to color code and highlight, but I don’t do the type of decoration that, to me, obscures the tasks and events on my planner. I did a couple of colorful, busy layouts, and then I couldn’t tell what the hell was going on in my life; it was as if a confetti explosion had obliterated all my appointments. So I learned that I’m more purposeful than decorative in my planner.

    1. Trixie*

      I’ve always like the simple 8.5 x 11 monthly planners, and used to find really nice ones at the Dollar Store. Now the covers are all pretty ugly but I find paper stock at craft store and insert new front/back covers.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Oh, yeah — the Plum Planner is another one that I want to investigate to see if it’s my one and only planner from this day forward. I wish I were a prominent blogger so I could receive free copies of all my potential planners and choose from amongst them. Too bad I’m too lazy to become a prominent blogger. :-(

        1. Temperance*

          I’m a big fan, but I’m way too cheap to investigate any others or make my own. I am so jelly of the women who blog for a living and get free crap. My husband’s ex-roommate runs a blog, and it’s not even good, and she regularly gets stuff.

    2. Chaordic One*

      At one place where I worked (actually the best job I ever had) all the corporate bigwigs used Franklin Covey planners and encouraged the lower-level people to use them also. They let us order them on the company dime and they worked well, but I never did get just exactly why they were all so gung-ho about them.

      1. Searching*

        I even went to one of the FC classes and never could get myself to embrace the system. I also feel like I’m not accomplishing a whole lot in life right now. Mmmm. Maybe the 2 are related?

  9. AvonLady Barksdale*

    My landlord called the other day and told me that come February, he wants to sell our house. We just signed another 2-year lease with him. We do not want to move. Our house isn’t perfect, but we love it and our location can’t be beat. Plus, moving sucks. So… I think we’re gonna buy a house.

    I spoke to my grandfather, who was extremely supportive. First things first, find out how much my landlord wants, and go from there. I’ve been saying for years that I can’t afford to buy, but that’s mostly because I couldn’t afford to buy in NYC. If I take a good hard look at my finances and consider accepting money from my grandparents (which has been on offer for a long time), then we can do it. I got pre-approved for a mortgage based on a relatively low down payment (I have excellent credit). I know I have to get the house inspected and I have to hire a real estate attorney if we decide to move forward.

    Has anyone else bought a house they were already renting or living in? Or in an FSBO situation, sans realtors? Any tips or advice would be hugely helpful– I don’t really know what to expect!

    1. SophieChotek*

      No suggestions, but best of luck. I guess my only top of my head idea is — don’t let the landlord get more out of you than is fair, just because you are already there. (On the other hand, if one counts cost of moving, time involved looking, etc. maybe there is some room for that.) Truly best of luck in this process. I’ve had several friends go through this — but often when they were in no position to buy — and scrambling to find new living options.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Thanks! My feeling right now is that selling to us is his best option– he won’t have to list it, we won’t ask for any improvements (pending inspection, of course, but he did major renovations before we moved in, and I would be willing to live in this house as-is for at least another year before I made any changes), and he won’t miss out on any rent that he would if he couldn’t sell quickly and we had to move. No need for him to paint or do any landscaping, either.

        I’m a little concerned that he’ll ask for way more than we can afford, but when we spoke, it sounded to me like he didn’t want to deal with the hassle. I’m going to try to use that to my advantage.

        1. fposte*

          Even in a private sale he’ll have to price it something the bank will find plausible, so he can’t go too crazily above a likely appraisal.

        2. ck*

          Also, you can avoid realtor fees (which in my state are commonly 6% of the sale price!) so you can negotiate down the price based on the landlord saving this expense.

    2. Lizard*

      We did this. It was pretty straightforward–we got a good deal in part because the owner didn’t have to do anything at all–no painting or repairs and and we didn’t use agents so there was no commission. Plus you should remember that in most places your lease remains valid for its duration, so your LL’s potential buyers would be limited to people buying for investment rather than folks wanting to live there themselves, which probably limits things a bit.

      We all had a pretty good idea of what the house was worth based on neighborhood comps but we got the house inspected and jointly agreed to get the house formally appraised to set a price. (Our LL really wanted this for tax and capital gains purposes; if you can come to an agreement without an appraisal that’s totally reasonable too). We ended up using the appraisal price exactly. We might have negotiated an additional few thousand off for repairs but the owner is a relative and had been extremely kind to us already so we didn’t want to nickel-and-dime him, and the price was fair. The actual transaction was drawn up by a lawyer and the title company. The bank doesn’t care whether you go through a real estate agent or not as long as you’re qualified for the mortgage and they think the house is worth what you’re paying for it. (They may want an appraisal of their own).

      I actually really benefited from reading the “Home Buying for Dummies” book, which I got at the library, because it sort of outlines the process and all the players.

      1. Connie-Lynne*

        “Plus you should remember that in most places your lease remains valid for its duration, so your LL’s potential buyers would be limited to people buying for investment rather than folks wanting to live there themselves”

        …. really? Certainly that’s not true in California. Here in CA, landlords can break a lease pretty much at any time if they or their family members want to live in the property.

        1. Dan*

          Yeah, I lived in LA for awhile. LA has really, really strong tennant’s rights and rent control protections. As in, it’s actually really difficult to make people move even after the lease runs out. In many cases, the landlord actually has to pay them to leave if they don’t want to move on their own.

          But one of the few exceptions to all of that is that the landlord can void the lease and make the tennants move if they want to turn it into an owner-occupied dwelling.

          1. Kittens*

            ^+1 to Dan I’m in LA and we were able to keep our lease at the same price when the building was sold (as did everyone else in my building). Landlords can only break your leases if it’s essentially going owner-occupied, but if they plan to lease again they can’t break the current leases. Depending on your states there may be some awesome benefits to buying the building you currently lease in! I’m less familiar with it, but a friend here in CA did it and it was a great value to both her and her landlord.

            1. Natalie*

              I’m not sure about California specifically, but in many areas leases can also be cancelled if the building is foreclosed on. A few of my acquaintances experienced that during the recession.

        2. MsChandandlerBong*

          Yep. My old landlord sold our house, and we were allowed to stay until our lease ran out. The new landlord ended up doing a month-to-month lease with us after that, but we wouldn’t have had to move any earlier than the end of our lease.

          1. Jerry Vandesic*

            The lease goes with the house. The new owner will be obligated to stick to the terms of the lease. In fact, the seller needs to transfer any funds alocated to a security deposit or last month to the seller. The OP should be able to stay until the lease ends

        3. CMT*

          I think it depends on whether you record the lease? Which you might have signed away your right to do in the lease.

    3. Episkey*

      I’m not sure if I’m understanding correctly, but don’t feel like you have to move because your landlord wants to sell. If you just signed a 2-year lease, they are obligated to let you stay for the remainder of the lease. He can sell the house, but the next people who buy it can’t kick you out & can’t raise your rent — you are still bound to the terms of your lease.

      1. Connie-Lynne*

        This is untrue. In California they absolutely can kick you out, as long as they want to move either themselves or their family members in.

            1. LawCat*

              It’s true that the new buyers may be willing to buy a home with tenants already in it and then try and evict them to move in. I supposed if the home is a super steal, it might be worth all the risks associated with doing something like that including months of litigation, tenants damaging the property, and having the store the tenants things then follow proper disposal/auction procedures if the tenants are forcibly removed by the sheriff. I suspect such buyers will be hard to find!

              1. Connie-Lynne*

                There are literally hundreds of buyers in SF taking this risk right now. The OPs concern over new owners is far from ridiculous.

        1. Jerry Vandesic*

          The rule in CA kicks in at the end of a lease or when rental is month-to-month. If there is a lease, it continues in the case of a sale.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I’m pretty sure he has a 60-day notice clause in the lease– I have to check. Regardless, I don’t want to risk a new landlord, and I also want to buy. This house is a great investment property (close to a college campus), so my risks are minimal. I think. :-)

        1. Jerry Vandesic*

          A 60-day notice clause might or might not be valid. It all depends on state law. In my state such a clause would not be enforceable for a residential lease.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            In my state, it is enforceable. Not a very tenant-friendly place, to be honest. I confirmed this with a lawyer friend of mine last night.

      3. Jessesgirl72*

        A lease is a contract, and like any contract, it can be broken. The law doesn’t force you to stay in a contract (marriage being the usual example, but even in strictly business contracts) What the courts do is decide what the penalty will be for breaking the contract, if it’s not spelled out already in the lease.

        1. Natalie*

          That’s not true if you are the landlord. You are required to go to court to evict a tenant and the court is not going to approve breaking a lease just because the landlord feels like it.

    4. Hypnotist Collector*

      I didn’t – and wish I had. If you like where you live, it’s worth seeing if you can make the purchase work, and if you have a good relationship with the landlord/seller, all the better.

    5. Jessesgirl72*

      Talk to a mortgage broker. There are limits to getting money – even as gifts- for a downpayment, thanks to the last housing fiasco and the rules the Feds put in place after. Our mortgage broker made us get a note from my in-laws for the money they gave my husband for his birthday that came between our accepting offer and closing, and they had to swear it was a gift, not a loan. And they look at your bank statements going back months before you apply. We paid minimums on our credit cards for a couple months (and charged all our bills) so there was a good amount built up in our bank account- they didn’t care that we owed it all to someone else.

      Otherwise, there are boilerplate forms you can get from the internet for real estate agreements in your state. Our house was FSBO, but we had a Realtor, so he ended up having to really handle both ends, for only his half of the commission.

    6. Florida*

      As others have mentioned, the law is probably on your side. In Florida, it is called the Florida Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. It probably has a similar name in your state. Google that to see if you can find anything.

      Also, ask your landlord to hold the mortgage. (This can happen in any state.) Instead of getting a loan from the bank. The owner lends you money. You would make a down payment (use grandparents money for this). Then every month, instead of paying him rent, you would pay him a mortgage payment. At the end of 30 years, you would owe nothing. Obviously, the specifics depend on the price, interest, down payment, etc.

      You would need an attorney to draw up the papers, but it’s a normal thing, so it wouldn’t cost too much. It is called a purchase money mortgage (when the seller is the lender). If you have a real estate attorney, you don’t need a realtor. They can do everything. However, if the owner hires an attorney, you need to hire one as well. You don’t want to count on their attorney to do wants in your best interest.

      The attorney will also make sure that the landlord understands that he is selling you the house, so he has no rights to it. He can’t stop by. He can’t change his mind. It’s not like being a landlord.

      I bought my house partially this way. I have a loan from the bank and a small second loan from the seller.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        That’s interesting about him holding the loan– never heard of that! But I don’t think he would do that here, as his main motivation for selling is because he wants to buy a new house for himself and he needs to get rid of this one. (Yeah.) Still, something to consider!

        1. Florida*

          If he needs the money to buy a new house, then it won’t work. But if he just wants to get rid of the house and invest the money, this is the perfect solution. From his side, the mortgage would be an investment.

    7. ThursdaysGeek*

      We did this, but it was a nearly three decades ago and in an area that was depressed at the time. The house was for sale when we started renting, owned by a real estate agent. After we had rented for a couple of years, and got tired of the house being shown with no warning, we said we’d buy it.

      It was our first house, and it went very well and easy. He was motivated to sell and the price had dropped. We might have had more problems, but he was ethical and helped us through the process.

      We figured that at what we were paying for rent, if the value continued to drop, we would only have to live in it about 3 years to break even. When we sold it, quite a few years later, the value was over double because the economy was no longer depressed.

  10. Anon4this*

    How do I tell my wife that she’s gotten too skinny? We’re in our mid 60s,been married close to 30 years. When we met she was heavier than “ideal”. Over the years, she put on some weight, but never got to BBW build.

    A few years back, she had Invisaligns and dropped some weight, then later had a health problem (now completely resolved) and dropped even more. She was ecstatic and continued to do so. A couple of days ago, she said, “I haven’t weighed this little since 7th grade!” It’s helped her depression, she feels great, and she loves it. Me, not so much.

    She’s happy, I’m not attracted to her much anymore. And yes, it’s created problems in the bedroom. I don’t like skinny women, I’ve never liked skinny women, and now I’m married to one.

    Suggestions from the commentariat?

    1. Adam*

      How’s her health? I don’t know what she weighed in 7th grade but that statement makes me worry if she might have lost too much weight.

      In regards to the attraction part…that’s tricky. Ultimately it is her body and she gets to do what she wants with it and if she is healthy overall and likes how she looks and feels there isn’t a whole lot to say here. I generally advocate open communication in relationships, because if one person isn’t happy long enough eventually both of them are going to feel it. And I think people should be able to ask what for what they want in a relationship.

      I would start with making sure she’s healthy first. After that, this may just be one of those things where people grow and change during a relationship and their partner has to decide how they want to adapt to it.

      1. Anon4this*

        Her health is fine, ignoring the things that aren’t weight-related like depression and anxiety and a genetic thing – those haven’t changed with the weight loss.

        And I’m at the same weight as when we met, plus or minus 5 pounds.

    2. fposte*

      Ouch. I think this is at heart a counseling issue, since I don’t think there’s any way to tell somebody that you’d like their body better if it was the way they don’t like it unless she’s thin enough that it’s a health problem, which it doesn’t sound like.

      It’s worth considering, though, if there are other factors at play here that could improve as well–not that you can’t find sexy what you find sexy, but that dealing with other aspects of aging, relying on a routine, etc., could compound the problem. Now’s the time to break out every other aspect of sex that might excite you. And if she’s enjoying her body in a way she hasn’t before, she might be inclined to be more adventurous.

      Sorry. I can see that this is a challenge, and I wish the best for both of you.

    3. Connie-Lynne*

      If she’s healthy and happy and loves the way she looks, I don’t think you _should_ tell her to change her body.

      Look at it this way, if she were otherwise healthy but had developed a physical deformity (facial tic, severe scarring, something …) that made her unattractive to you, would you feel right asking her to change? I’m hoping your answer is no.

      I’d suggest that you both go to a counselor that specializes in sex, or in geriatric counseling. That way, you will have a safe space to talk about your problems with attraction, and your wife will have a safe space to talk about how that hurts her (it will in all likelihood be hurtful to hear), but you’ll both be able to talk to someone who can help you two find that attraction again (or how to amicably break up, if, god forbid, that’s the conclusion you both come to). Yelp is pretty good for finding counselors.

      Script: “Hey, honey, I have been having some problems that affects things in the bedroom. I’d like us to see a counselor to help solve this and get us back to doin’ it on the regular. Would you like to help choose the person or shall I just make an appointment?”

    4. The Other Dawn*

      I’ve often worried that my husband would tell me this exact thing.

      When I met my husband I was a little overweight and he was very fit (just out of the Army). Over the years we both gained weight, as usually happens as we get older and settle in. He’s now considered obese by doctors, but I (and most people) would never think of him as so. I, on the other hand, got to be about 150 pounds overweight and finally had weight loss surgery three years ago. I’m now about 25 pounds over the highest weight in the range for my height (I’m really tall), so technically still overweight.

      Throughout the process I’ve worried that my husband will no longer find me attractive. Up until the weight loss surgery, I never knew that he likes larger women. I mean, he’d commented many times over the years that skinny women are all skin and bones, but I just assumed he was trying to make me less self conscious about my ballooning weight. After the surgery I started noticing that he really does like women that have a little meat on their bones, which got me very worried that he wouldn’t be attracted to me anymore. He commented sometimes in bed that he can feel my hipbones or my collar bone, and that got me even more worried. Now, however, I’ve discovered that it’s more that he was worried about my health–that I’d be too skinny–and an insecurity that I wouldn’t want HIM anymore. Also, I think he now realizes that I’m not out to be super skinny and am pretty happy with my weight overall. We never actually had any problems between us over this, but there were definitely some worries and insecurities.

      My advice would be to think about her health first and foremost. Is she happy and healthy, and at an ideal weight for her age, frame size, and height? If so, I’d leave it alone. The fact that you’re not attracted to her is on you. That’s not on her. Had my husband said to me that he would not be attracted to me anymore if I lost more weight or got to a certain weight, I would have told him to get over it, that’s it my body and I’m doing what I need to do to be healthy. As long as I’m healthy, at a healthy weight, and happy, who is he to tell me otherwise? I’m not going to gain weight and risk my health and well-being because he wants more insulation to hold on to.

      If she’s not healthy or is underweight, then, yeah, I’d express your concerns, suggest a doctor visit, etc. But I definitely would not make it about attraction.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I should have also said that I had the weight loss surgery because of my health, not for cosmetic reasons. I was borderline diabetic, had very severe sleep apnea, and was having other issues. Not to mention being at risk for many major diseases that run in my family.

    5. Stellaaaaa*

      It’s rough – attraction is a key component in a relationship. But unless your hairline and waistline have been the same since your wedding day, I don’t think you have a leg to stand on.

      1. Dan*

        I’m not of the school that says you have to be stuck with someone you aren’t attracted to or don’t want to be married to any longer. Sucking too much stuff up and not talking about it manifests itself in other ways. Are you suggesting that if OP’s wife asks why he doesn’t want to have sex as much (or at all), that he lie about it?

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I think he should tell the whole truth. The problem is in identifying the extent of the problem.

          Attraction occurs on more than one level. If the physical level is less appealing, there are other levels to consider. This is why therapy might be a good choice to help identify what is going on.

          Hopefully, there are other positive aspects of this marriage and those positives will carry the two of them through this challenge.

          OTH, if a guy told me that I lost/gained too much weight, he was no longer interested in me and wanted a divorce, then I would probably let him go. If my weight is the only thing holding us together then in the end I would probably agree that it may be time to move on.

      2. Anon4this*

        See above. I’m the same weight – wear the same size, still have all my hair and teeth. The hair is grayer, I started graying in my 20s,so it was all underway when we met .

    6. Dan*

      In the months leading up to my divorce, my ex wife ended up losing about half of her body weight. She was certainly overweight, and I can’t comment about her health after the weight loss, but she lost so much weight that her skin was hanging off her body. It was pretty bad. She then turns around and wants $14k for plastic surgery. (TBH, she certainly did ‘need’ it, it wasn’t just vanity stuff.) I told her that she needed to get a job and pay for half of it. Let’s just say we weren’t married much longer. (Strangely, that wasn’t a huge contributing factor to our divorce.)

    7. So very anon for this*

      I don’t see this ending well, unfortunately. Pretty much in the same situation, just slightly different. My SO and I have been together over 15 years. I used to be about a women’s size 10-13. Over the years I’ve gained more weight due to an unresolved medical issue so that now I’m a size 18-19, about a 50-60lb difference. In the last argument we had I was told he no longer finds me attractive. This broke my heart. I first thought maybe he said it in a moment of anger but he’s made no effort to make me feel differently since. There is no intimacy anymore. It’s like we’re roommates and I’m saving up and planning my exit strategy. This will be the end. Think long & hard about what you plan to say to her, if anything, and the outcome you really want.

      1. Come On Eileen*

        Gosh, I just want to say that I’m so sorry to hear that. It really sucks. At the same time, I’m really proud that you’re taking this issue and doing what you can with it in terms of planning for your own future – that’s so smart and something not a lot of people would do. Kudos and hugs.

    8. Liza*

      So…you married her purely because she was fat? There’s nothing else keeping you in the marriage like experiences you’ve shared or the life you’ve built together? Your only concern seems to be how to tell her you don’t think she’s attractive when she’s thin, even though it makes her happier and isn’t a health issue. There doesn’t seem to be any incentive for her to put on weight just to appease you given how fickle you’ve confessed yourself to be.

      Would it help if she wore padding when it’s just the two of you? If she gained the weight back and then decided she wasn’t attracted to you anymore you’d accept that’s okay? When you have an affair with a larger woman you’re just going to blame your wife for not being attractive enough so you may as well make your feelings known now and save both of you a lot time.

      1. TL -*

        That’s really harsh. Sexual attraction is a big part of most marriages and losing that because of a big image change (not just normal aging/life stuff) does not make someone a terrible person.

        No, he didn’t only marry her for her looks but they’re probably a big part of having a healthy sex life and that’s a very reasonable thing to value.

        1. Natalie*

          Agreed. Just because there are other aspects to a relationship doesn’t mean the sexual aspect isn’t a big deal, and it doesn’t make OP a bad person to have an issue here.

          1. fposte*

            The OP also didn’t mention ending the marriage or leaving, just regretting the loss of sexual attraction; there may be plenty to keep the marriage together, but not a lot of people are whispering “Remember when Bobby was a toddler who pooped all over the living room?” as foreplay.

      2. Anon4this*

        When I met her, she was about 10 pounds over the “normal” range for a woman her height (think Amy Schumer). So, not fat. Before she started losing, she had probably put on about 20 pounds; again, not fat. She’s now about 10-15 pounds under the normal range (think Giuliana Rancic – a skin bag of hangars to my eye).

        I’m sure there’s a male physical characteristic that just turns you right off. That’s what skinny does to me; it’s almost like throwing a switch.

        And thanks for that last sentence – not.

    9. INTP*

      If you tell her, you put her in the situation of having to live in this body that she finds more attractive, the world in general finds more attractive, that has helped ease her depression and improve her confidence, that probably (based on my experience at different weights) makes people treat her better and notice her more in general, but know that the man she is with finds her unattractive, or become attractive to you but give ALL of that up. It’s a tough decision, especially for a woman as our physical appearance has such an influence over the way we are perceived and treated. Even if you tell her, there’s a good chance she will not choose to gain the weight back, but will feel self-conscious with you and resent you for not being able to be happy for her and seeming to care more for her physical appearance than her mental health and personal happiness. I’m not sure how your wife feels but I would have a hard time getting over my SO finding me more attractive when unhappy and self-conscious at one weight than happy and vibrant at another, I would feel like he saw me as a walking scale or a physical shell and my personality mattered little in his attraction. I’m not saying that to make you feel bad, but to emphasize how this might emotionally affect your wife if you tell her.

      For that reason, I think you should try to get past this issue yourself if at all possible rather than burden her with it. I like fposte’s suggestion of using this time to explore new things to get yourself excited. Do it in the dark and fantasize for awhile if you have to. I think if you have a solid emotional relationship and a positive sexual history, a matter of personal aesthetic preference is probably surmountable, just give yourself time to get used to it.

      If you absolutely can’t get over the lack of attraction no matter what you try, then it might be worth bringing up, but realize that it might drive a wedge in your marriage for all the reasons I mentioned and don’t do it unless it’s worth that to you. Also remember that this is probably temporary. Drastic weight loss is very rarely permanent, she may not return to your preferred weight but she probably won’t stay this thin forever, so don’t splinter a good marriage over it.

      1. Jean*

        Would it help to notice aspects of her newly changed body that are beautiful? You may miss a deep curve here or there but perhaps the way the light and shadow fall in those or other locations can seem just as compelling. Weight loss removes some contours but reveals others. How are her shoulders or cheekbones or (insert whatever) now?

        1. fposte*

          Oh, that’s a thought. Maybe you can even find a different way to approach it that you’d both like–using her as a model for drawing, painting, or photography, for instance.

    10. Blunt Harsh Answer*

      Turn the lights off? Close your eyes and imagine the way she used to look? This may sound sarcastic, but I’m being serious.

      I think this is just one of those things that happens in long term relationships. It can happen any time to anyone. Even if you look the same, what you find attractive can change. So I think you just need to find a way to live with it or work around it somehow. I don’t know what the best solution is. But if it’s any comfort, you’re not alone.

  11. Franzia Spritzer*

    Since I turned 40 my eyes have changed pretty rapidly, requiring a new prescription about once a year, (a couple of times, more frequent than that). I used to have pretty great taste in eyewear, but I can’t afford that kind of nonsense every year. I could justify expensive glasses in my brain as reasonable when considering the cost spread over two or more years, if and especially when reusing frames. But no more, my insurance isn’t awesome enough to do that (it’s not even awesome enough to use when zenni is cheap as dirt).

    For the first couple of years I stuck to my regular style of glasses but as time has passed I’ve embraced ridiculous, (and cheep) glasses… I’m not quite to wearing heart shaped frames all of the time, but they are my go-to sunglasses, the world isn’t ready for another Sir Elton John. I just ordered my most ridiculous frames yet and I’m feeling a little bit of buyers remorse. I’m a tiny bit scared of the, all be it short, commitment to kooky glasses and I find myself wanting to order a back-up pair of more modest frames just in case I need to dial it back a notch.

    Does anybody else wear eccentric glasses?

    1. Clever Name*

      I just have black frames that are the style now. But I disagree that the world doesn’t need another sir Elton John. I love people who have a unique sense of style.

    2. Connie-Lynne*

      Yes! I wear fancy glasses and I’ve just owned it. I do have a cheap-and-very-sober pair that I keep on hand for if I lose my other glasses, but I’ve found that by and large I never use them (they’re now three Rxs out of date).

      I get a lot of compliments on my glasses. Just go for it!

    3. fposte*

      I think eccentric glasses are delightful, and since colored frames are so big now I think this is more on the pink hair level of eccentricity rather than the riding a unicycle through the hall level.

      But are people buying these online? I’d love to know about more glasses sources. I’ve looked at Warby Parker and Zenni and I’m not seeing anything I like. I’m not so creative on the eyewear; I’m looking for smaller lenses so I can read around them, and I like the wire-framed styles you see more in Europe. Anybody know any good sources?

      1. Talvi*

        You could also try clearly.ca for glasses frames. I can’t comment on their rimless options (my prescription requires full rims), but I do know they carry some smaller wire-rimmed frames.

    4. RKB*

      Have you tried eye buy direct? They’re fairly reasonable and they often have promo codes across the internet. My partner just got two pairs for under $100 and they were delivered in 10 days. So far they’re perfect, better than the pair he got from his optometrist!

      My eyesight changes rapidly as well but I wear contacts, so I only order half a year supply JIC.

    5. Talvi*

      I don’t wear eccentric glasses, but I can commiserate on regularly changing prescriptions and expensive glasses. (Fortunately, my myopia finally seems to have settled! Now if my astigmatism would also settle, I could keep lenses longer…)

    6. Come On Eileen*

      If you have VSP for your vision insurance, you can use your benefits on eyeconic.com — lots of cool frames and since the two companies are related, using your benefits online is actually really easy. You can shop there even without insurance.

    7. AnotherAnony*

      Costco. I don’t have vision insurance, but they’re reasonable. Plus they offer discounts depending on how much you spend. Just bought a pair of red cat-eye glasses- totally retro and am super excited!

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I wear regular glasses, I had to get something mundane for work purposes. But I am one of those people quietly coveting your eccentric glasses.

    9. Red*

      I have a pair of funky glasses and they’re my favorites, I wear them almost exclusively. The world needs more wild people!

    10. Kit*

      I like eccentric glasses on other people, and I wear a pair of cat eyes that are just off conventional, but you have to be prepared to be “weird glasses lady/guy”. I have three regular customers who are commonly identified that way by my staff.

    11. Gaia*

      I splurge on fancy, big brand glasses. They are my vice. I have two or three pairs always in rotation. But the only way I justify this is that when my prescription changes I simply change the lenses and keep the frames. Much cheaper that way!

      And, as always, a nice sober pair of rectangle black frames can go a long way both in terms of price and conservative look.

    12. Alston*

      Zenni optical is soooooo cheap for glasses. And they’ve got some grew styles. The start at 10 (with lenses) and go up to maybe 40.

    13. CMT*

      Yes! I mean, they’re more eccentric than most. They’re neon pink. People love them. I love them. Embrace it! Did you see the glasses that Gewn Ifill (RIP) was wearing in recent months? I loved those, too.

    14. Raine*

      I wear large, very cat eye glasses that look almost like a superhero mask and I have gotten nothing but compliments on them. Own your eccentricities!

    15. Jinx*

      I’m late to this party, but last time I got new glasses I impulsively decided to go with a metallic magenta. It isn’t *that* crazy but I’d been wearing neutral frames since 4th grade and wanted to try something different. Between the time I ordered them and the time they arrived I had buyer’s remorse about whether they were too offbeat and that I’d look ridiculous and they wouldn’t be allowed at work (I have a pretty conservative dress code at my office).

      Turns out, they didn’t look strange at all once I got used to them, and no one at work even noticed. :) I love my pink glasses, and I think they will be a gateway to more creative styles.

  12. Anon for this*

    Acknowledging that this is not a relationship website, but… is anyone here in a long-distance relationship? Any advice on how to deal with wildly different communication needs? FB messages don’t really do anything for me, and my preference would be to Skype for an hour or so every day (or at least almost every day). My husband (of 14 months, 3 months apart) doesn’t feel the need to Skype that often at all. Twice a week would probably do it for him. I’m currently unemployed and slightly depressed, so I guess that doesn’t really help. He’s coming over (different country) for Christmas, but until my job situation is a bit more clear, there are no plans for reuniting permanently.

    1. Simms*

      I was in a long distance relationship for about 10 years. We skyped every day for at least and hour. Even if you have nothing to talk about it helps to find stuff to talk about. We shared news and played games together to give us things to talk about. Trust me you do really feel it when you skip a day.

    2. AliCat*

      So my fiancé and I have been living on opposite sides of the globe for the last two years and it’s sucked. He works offshore and oftentimes has limited access to the internet. He also sometimes works 24 hour shifts and HATES talking on the phone. That being said, he realizes that in order for us to have a relationship, he needs to put in the effort. That means that we try to contact each other everyday – sometimes just through Facebook messenger, sometimes over Skype. It also means that I need to be okay with the fact that some days he’s exhausted and doesn’t want to talk, and he needs to be okay with the fact that sometimes I’ve had a bad day and really need to talk. It’s definitely a give and a take and it’s not easy, but it can work!! Have faith!

      To keep you sane, I would honestly start working on reuniting plans. Nothing has to be set in stone, but having a best-case and worst-case scenario that you’ve talked through and can set into motion is highly comforting.

    3. EW*

      I did distance with my now husband for about three years off and on. We hardly ever Skyped (maybe monthly?). We just talked on the phone everyday. Whether it was on our commutes to/from work, eating dinner, whatever. Skyping was too much of a commitment, whereas a phone call meant we both did our own thing on the other end like we may have if we lived together. What helped was specific intervals of seeing each other. The most we went was three months, most of the time we saw each other once a month at least.

      1. Simms*

        International long distance tends to be pretty pricey on phone though. You can get bluetooth headsets for computers though and walk around doing whatever.

        1. EW*

          Ok, when people say “Skype” I assume they mean video chat. When I say “talk on the phone” it means a voice only call. Use WhatsApp, FaceTime voice only, Skype voice only, whatever. All of these options let you use your smart phone without long distance charges.

          1. AliCat*

            Yea sorry, when I say Skype I mean voice only. I use it through my iPhone and I find it makes it a lot easier.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I was in an LDR for two years and frankly, I would not do it again unless I had some assurance that one of us would plan on moving at some point. That’s a separate issue, however.

      As far as communication goes, it really helps to have some kind of contact daily. Once you move past just casually dating (you said husband so that’s way past it!), you need to connect regularly. So the two of you need to work that out. Maybe you could split the difference on the Skype thing and do it more often but for a shorter length of time, and check in with messages the rest of the time.

    5. Zip Silver*

      I’m in a LDR. We chat on the phone a few times a week, text and snapchat. If she made me Skype for an hour everyday, I think I’d ask for my ring back, to be honest. Videochatting is awkward no matter who you’re talking with, imo.

      1. Simms*

        Skype can be done without the camera. My husband and I never used a camera in Skype for the ten years we spent using Skype.

    6. Jessesgirl72*

      I did it for about a year, and we talked on the phone for hours every day. Probably if he hadn’t been willing to do that, we wouldn’t have stayed together.

    7. Anon for this*

      Thanks for your comments guys! We definitely need to figure out some sort of compromise, I really don’t want to force him to talk to me. His communication needs (or lack thereof) do make me feel a bit upset though, unimportant, I guess. Trying to talk to him about that is difficult – he gets very defensive, even when I try really hard to be sensitive about the wording.

      AliCat, I like your idea about best- and worst-case scenarios. I think that’s something we could work with.

      1. Natalie*

        For whatever it’s worth, I think his defensiveness when you express a need is a bigger concern. Relationships don’t thrive if partners can’t hear you out without shutting down.

    8. shorty*

      I was in a LDR for 2 years until we moved to the same place. It sucked but got easier with time as we figured out each other’s needs in terms of making the LDR work (e.g. communication preferences). One thing that helped a lot was using a photo sharing app, Photo Circle, to share little things about our day. It made me feel more connected even on days when we might not talk. And looking back over the years it’s really neat to see our photos in the app and all the memories and things we experienced together, even though we were physically apart.

    9. Kit*

      Different communication needs ended my last relationship, which was long-distance 80% of the time. I felt like I was being constantly hounded, and like we had *just talked* and I hadn’t had time to do anything yet worth talking about! Meanwhile she felt like she was texting/emailing/calling into the void. My current partner and I agreed early on that we would just never do long distance because he’s more sympathetic to my ex than to me on this front!

      I think the only way this works is true compromise. You talk less than you want, he talks more than he wants, and you both agree it sucks but it’s what you’re going to do. Maybe more frequent than he wants, but shorter duration than you want?

    10. megmegmeg*

      I’m currently in a LDR, but with plans to move within the year. I think it helps if you have an activity to do together instead of just Skyping and staring at each other. We Skype about once a week and text frequently, but neither of us are phone people. And when we do Skype, we may catch up on our day, but then watch a silly K-Drama or show on Netflix together. It makes it feel more normal, and similar to how we’d interact when we were in the same place. I agree with other commenters that it’s good to have plans of seeing each other face to face though to get you through the months apart.

    11. Anon for this*

      Well, I just ended a two-year long distance relationship because we couldn’t figure out how to get it to stop being long distance. We texted a lot throughout the day every day and Skyped about once a week. I think talking every day for an hour would be too much. It really makes the focus on how you two aren’t together. If you can manage to have your own life and schedule (which I realize is very hard when you’re missing the person you love and even harder if other things aren’t going great), it makes it easier to deal with the distance. Good luck!

      1. Oops! Different Anon for this*

        Oops, sorry, I didn’t mean to use your same handle. I am a different person than the one who asked this question, but am also going anon for this :-P

    12. The IT Manager*

      This may not be helpful because my LDR ended 10 years ago and tech changed so much. But we called pretty much called every day and talked for an hour. And I’m not someone who likes to talk on the phone, but I wanted to talk to my significant other because I loved him. IMO you can’t get the same connection via texts or IMs.

      It would not be the same if my partner whom I lived with went out of town for a short business trip. That wouldn’t need an hour of catching up by phone. In a LDR the phone or skype is the way to keep the connection alive. You can’t “catch up” in person next time you see them because there’s so much more time apart than time together and the relationship must exist, grow, move forward during the time a part.

      One thing to consider, too, is your “love language.” My love language is quality time. I experience love through time spent together talking or doing something. My LDR partner that tried to show his love through gifts (“It reminded me of you” / “I was thinking of you.”), and because it’s not my love language most of the gifts were wasted on me, but he was putting time and effort into them to show his love.

      While working as a marriage counselor for more than 30 years, Dr. Gary Chapman identified five love languages: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.

  13. LadyKelvin*

    tldr; How do you talk to your doctor about being diagnosed with SAD?

    I’ve always struggled with “low spirits” in the winter. I grew up in Pittsburgh, which if you aren’t familiar with the weather, think Pacific Northwest but snow instead of rain (and much much colder). When I graduated college at 22, I moved to the south and all of my depression symptoms disappeared. It was even better when I lived in Miami, where it was warm and 11+ hours of sunlight all year round. Last year I moved back to DC and my depression returned with the return of fall and winter. This year, possibly because I am having a lot of anxiety about the fact that I’m graduating in a few weeks and don’t have a job and I’ve spent the last 26 years of my life in school and have no idea how to be a real person, my depression started earlier and is much worse. Its bad enough my husband has said something to me about it and wants me to go get help. I don’t disagree but I have no idea how to talk to my doctor about it and I could really use some guidance. Also, does anyone know of non-medicated treatments for it? We are hoping to start trying to get pregnant in the next few months and I don’t want to go on a medication for a few months only to have to go right back off it because I’m pregnant. Plus I know this is a seasonal thing, so I’d like some kind of treatment that I can start and stop as needed.

    1. Gene*

      My wife has good results with a SAD Light. And with LED technology, they’ve gotten a lot smaller and less ugly.

      As far as your doctor goes, just lay it out as you did here.

      1. Clever Name*

        Is that the same as a full spectrum bulb? I’m thinking of replacing the light by my husband’s desk with one because I think he has mild SAD.

      2. The Expendable Redshirt*

        Also promoting the SAD lamp. I’ve had “the winter blues” since I was a kid. Started using my sunshine lamp for 15 min in the morning this year. The difference is amazing. I used to feel sluggish, sad, and dread of mornings. Now I feel normal, and even refreshed. Some people who use the SAD lamp may not need to use medication.

    2. Pennalynn Lott*

      SAD light, plus Vitamin D3 supplements (after having your serum levels checked by your doc). Also, exercise outdoors, if at all possible. But any exercise will help.

      Additionally, some insurance plans will pay (or help pay) for the light if it is prescribed by a doctor. Check with yours.

      1. RKB*

        Yes to all three. I also got daylight mimicking bulbs for my overheard lamp and lots of candles, especially ones that I’ve burnt in the summer, because good memories and all. I also open all of my blinds as much as possible.

        Another thing that works out really well is the sunrise clock from Phillips. I have it set to the bird setting which is what wakes me up in the summer. It really helps.

    3. Come On Eileen*

      I use the NatureBright SunTouch plus light box during late fall and winter and it really helps me (SAD light as referened below — I’ll link to it in another comment). Bought it on Amazon a few years ago and it’s become my faithful companion when it’s gray outside and when sunlight is short. The idea is you sit next to it for about 30 minutes in the morning and it provides the same level of light as you’d get from the sun. Very easy to use as needed. I’ve never been formally diagnosed with SAD, but observing my emotions over the past few years has made it very clear that I’m happier in the summer when there’s endless hours of sunlight and I struggle in the winter when the sun is out for fewer hours and days are gray.

    4. Zip Silver*

      Ha, I live in Broward and I’m kind of tired of the endless summer thing. I miss having cool weather. I think that the zone between interstate 10 and interstate 40 is the perfect longitude in the US :)

    5. Jessesgirl72*

      I grew up about an hour from PIT (on the Ohio side) in 2nd cloudiest place in the US.

      I don’t have a diagnosis, but if I don’t take Vitamin D supplements starting when the days get shorter, my moods swing rapidly and extremely. That is something you can start today, and I promise, you’ll feel a little better tomorrow!

      Also, Vitamin D helps with preventing sunburn and sun poisoning. I discovered all of a sudden that in California, my sun sensitivity completely disappeared. Then I saw an article about it, and since moving back to the midwest, have shared my “secret” to two other people who used to get sun poisoning, and taking Vitamin D has stopped it in them too.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Love my vitamin D. I ended up taking an extra strength and I have been taking it year round. I am doing better now.

        OP, my doc said 20 minutes of sunlight on the top of my head, every day. I asked if I could wear a hat outside, he said not for the twenty minutes. So I will use those ear warmer things, which will leave my scalp/top of my head exposed.

    6. LF*

      I’m not saying you should try this as a first resort, but I did all the things recommended by others on this thread but still struggled. Finally my PCP put me on Zoloft for the winter months and it’s been a lot better since then.

      1. not really a lurker anymore*

        I’m about to go back on Zoloft. I’ve got an annual physical coming up and we’ll start it then.

    7. SC Anonibrarian*

      De-lurking to offer SAD advice from a life of dealing with it. All the advice about vitamins and light boxes and outdoor time and ALL THE SUNLIGHT is spot on, but I want to answer your doctor question.

      1) talking to doctor script: “hi Doc. For the last (insert number of years/months you’ve noticed) since I’ve moved up north, I’ve noticed that starting around (insert rough month) I have been feeling (insert symptoms – be clear and honest and descriptive and DON’T minimize because you feel silly or weak or embarrassed). Doctor, I really hate feeling this way. Do you think it could be S.A.D.? If so, can you suggest a pregnancy-friendly treatment plan for me?”

      2) ask doctor for a referral to a therapist who can help with coping techniques for the depression symptoms, as it might be a while before treatment options are available or effective.

      3) this is the thing that I feel hesitant to point out, but feel it’s important to be aware of. Persons who currently have depression or anxiety, even of the seasonal sort, are at a higher risk of suffering pregnancy-and-post-partum depression and anxiety and psychosis. You need to have a strong family-friend-professional (therapist, doula, OBGYN, doctor) network in place as soon as possible with plans made for how to handle this (talk to the therapist for action plans) so that IF something goes haywire with your mental-emotional state because of pregnancy hormones, you’re already supported and have plans in place to handle it and keep you (and family/baby) in the best place possible.

      4) wishing you all the luck and in my experience, SAD is very responsive to all sorts of treatment, and while you may never be truly giddy in winter, it can often be easily (and long-term) managed enough to make the season enjoyable again.

      1. Lady Kelvin*

        Thank you for the tips, and everyone else who replied. It’s terrifying to admit I need help, but I know that getting help will make my life much better. I appreciate all the support from this community.

  14. Gene*

    Earlier this week I made a batch of eggnog to age for the Christmas season. I haven’t done this for years, and I used Alton Brown’s recipe. It’s safely stashed in the back of the fridge, samples were boozy but tasty; it will be better in a month or so. That means I have a dozen egg whites. I decided to pull out and wash the tube pan and I’ll be making an angel food cake this evening. No cake flour in the house, and angel food really requires it.

    1. Nye*

      You can also freeze egg whites, and thaw then to use later. I have an extra-large ice cube tray that I use for this purpose. I freeze the whites individually and then pop then out and store them in a Ziploc in the freezer. Wherever I need a white or two or 10, I just count them out and thaw them in the fridge or in the counter. A good option if you don’t want to make that angel food cake immediately!

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I believe you can make your own cake flour substitute with all purpose flour and cornstarch. Just Google “cake flour substitute” and you’ll come up with hits.

      1. Nye*

        I’d be wary of doing this with something like an angel food cake. The wheat used in cake flour and AP flour is different, with different protein contents. Cake flour is lower-protein and forms less gluten, keeping it more tender and less chewy. Cornstarch would act as a filler to cut the AP flour a bit, but I’m not sure it would perform too well in something as delicate as angel food cake.

        1. Anonyby*

          Not only that, but cake flour is bleached, which also affects the way flour behaves in baked goods. Angel food cakes are so delicate and easily-disrupted!

          I imagine that using the AP-and-cornstarch would work in a standard cake in a pinch, though.

      2. Gene*

        I don’t even use commercial powdered sugar in angel food because of the cornstarch in it. I spin regular sugar in the food processor for a couple of minutes.

        The cake came out great! Just finished a piece for dessert.

    3. LCL*

      Are you single?! I know you’re in my neck of the woods…just kidding, I’m not looking. You have inspired me to look up that Alton Brown recipe. I often make his jerky recipe and cook it in my dehydrator; just leave out the onion stuff and it turns out awesome.

    4. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Several years ago, I read a recipe for making a large batch of Irish cream liqueur for the holiday season, and I haven’t been able to find it since. It had to cure or set or whatever for six weeks, and all the recipes I find now are for make-it-now, stores-for-up-to-a-month; somehow, that doesn’t sound as good. The other, six-week recipe sounded like it would be shelf-stable upon completion. I’m going out of my mind trying to find that or a similar recipe. I mean, Irish cream that I buy at the liquor store doesn’t have to be refrigerated and used within a month, and that is what I’m trying to make.

  15. Rayner*

    HELP?

    I’m cooking a roast dinner for the first time tomorrow – the menu is supposed to be lamb roast, roast potatoes, swede and carrot mash, gravy, and pigs in blankets. How do I keep it all together and not lose it or burn anything?

      1. Nancy B*

        Yes! When I have a big dinner to make, I create a schedule with time stamps: 3:30–preheat oven; 3:50–put cake in oven; etc.

        Sometimes, I’ll set several different timers with sticky notes on them to indicate what that timer is for.

        1. Nancy B*

          I also prepare as much ahead of time as possible. I love America’s Test Kitchen Best Make Ahead Recipe cookbook for this. Also, Ree Drummond’s creamy mashed potatoes are awesome and can be make a day ahead.

    1. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

      Make a schedule!
      When do you need to start different things?
      What can you do when the lamb is in the oven? What can be prepared today?
      Etc etc

    2. A.C. Stefano*

      Also consider your slow cooker or your toaster oven, if possible. For Thanksgiving next week, I’m making the stuffing in the slow cooker so the oven is dedicated to the turkey. And since I make Ree Drummond’s potatoes, those can be heating up and the rolls baking while the turkey rests, and I’m pretty sure the rolls can bake in the toaster oven.

        1. A.C. Stefano*

          I am going to be doing an apple and cranberry stuffing (link to follow). I’ve made the regular oven version, and I love it, so I’m excited about this variation. I might use some more broth, though, I like a wetter stuffing. Dressing. Whatever.

    3. Jessesgirl72*

      The nice thing about roasts is that you put them in the oven and then walk away- they require nothing else. I roast my potatoes right next to the leg of lamb. It’s almost as good that was as in duck fat.

    4. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Yes, what everyone else had said. Start with the time it all needs to be finished, and work backward from there. I have a Christmas dinner timeline for dinner at six and an alternate timeline for dinner at seven, and a Thanksgiving timeline for dinner at two or for dinner at three. Working backward from the finish line do that you know when everything needs to be started and finished is your friend.

    5. the gold digger*

      I loved the line in the book Mennonite In A Little Black Dress where she says something about how Mennonite women are born with the ability to get a 20 course meal on the table with all hot dishes being hot at the same time. I wish I were Mennonite just for that skill.

      1. Bibliovore*

        Congratulations! I am a late license getter and I LOVE driving. Except for on ramps to the freeway.

  16. Wildflower*

    Has anyone taken a Berke Assessment? It’s tangentially work-related, but I’m interested in a) its accuracy and reputation and b) the personality parts and how much they mean/what they say about a person. Any thoughts on them?

  17. Myrin*

    I’ve been thinking about trying to re-initiate contact with two old friends.

    As many of you guys will know, I’m an old loner but I do have people I consider friends whom I hang out with from time to time (and can I just say that I’m really glad that all of them accept that I’m not a meet-at-least-twice-a-week person? There’s of course nothing wrong with that but it’s totally not what I can, need, or want to do). And I’ve been thinking about these two people – whom I loved very much when we were still in contact – quite a lot lately so I thought, why not try it?

    One of them used to be my best friend growing up. We were very close up until age 10 and she was, as I realised recently and to my great shock, the only close friend I ever had who wasn’t in some way abusive or at least toxic. We briefly were in the same friend group again at 16 or so but fell out of contact again after that – and I feel like that friendship was different from the first one but mainly because the dynamic was an entirely new one; it was more about the whole group and not so much one-on-one relationships and a bit superficial? We also both live in our hometown (not far from each other, actually) and have that weird thing where we will meet the other one’s mum and happily talk to her and where she buys stuff at the supermarket my sister works at and happily sends best wishes my way but we haven’t talked in something like ten years. Anyway, I think I’d like to explore that again.

    The second one is a guy I met at the gym I used to work at. We only ever saw each other there or in situations that were somehow adjacent to the gym (like driving to and fro together) but we genuinely got along so, so well. He was one of the only people of the friend-variety I ever had where I could 100% be myself and didn’t need to stop myself from saying anything, making dumb jokes, etc. My sister tells me to just go for it since the worst thing he can do is say no but I do wonder if I will come across as weird since we never hung out outside of the gym context and I’m a few years older and whatnot.

    Anyway, have any of you guys ever been in such a situation? If so, how did you go about re-establishing contact? Captain Awkward has at least one letter on exactly this topic which I really like but I’d love to hear some more perspectives. What are some good places to go/things to do I could suggest in such a situation?

    1. AcidMeFlux*

      Give it a try. Adopt a casual, no expectations aproach. “Hey, I just thought about you out of the blue and was wondering how you were doing.” You’ve got nothing to lose. Now that I’m 61 and facing serious illness, I have to say that not keeping up with people is one of my bigger regrets.

      1. Myrin*

        Would you believe I hadn’t even thought about simply and only asking how they’re doing (I always immediately tacked on some variation of “want to hang out?”). Thank god this site exists, you guys help me so much.

        (I’m also really sorry about your illness – I hope you have some prospects of feeling better soon. D:)

    2. fposte*

      I think this is cultural and gendered, so take my female American thoughts with a large grain of salt, but I would have no problems reaching out in the first case; if you have her email or are Facebook friends, those are especially easy contacts. “Been thinking about old times with our friendship and appreciating what a cool person you were. I’d love to catch up over lunch sometime–is that doable? I’m free on Fridays this December.” Take it one event at a time rather than treating it as the reinstatement of a friendship.

      The second one is trickier, because the situation lends itself to romantic pursuit and the ways to signal that it’s not are far from universal. In the U.S., I think “Let’s grab a beer and you can tell me more about that marathon” is probably what you’d be going for, or if there’s an external activity you know you both like you can say “Hey, I’m going to go to the Comics Fair for a couple of hours on Saturday–you want to come?”

      1. Myrin*

        It’s funny you say that because I’m reminded of a tumblr post I see sometimes that goes something like “I wish there were things like friends-dates where you go to a restaurant together but not as a date but as friends” and I’m always utterly confused by this because that is actually totally a thing here. Which doesn’t mean that it can’t still be misunderstood as a romantic overture but I’ve gone to plenty of dinners with male friends with no problems whatsoever. /cultural tangent

        Anyway, thanks for the ideas! I don’t actually have Friend 1’s email and I’m not on Facebook but I already have an idea of how to contact her and I really love your wording! It also gave me the idea of finding out if Friend 2 still studies near my own uni and that maybe we could go for lunch somewhere in that area. Thank you so much for your suggestions!

        1. fposte*

          The older I get, the more I find that friendships can be dormant for ages and revive, and that doors that fall closed aren’t that hard to open again.

          And in general, I think people really are flattered by the possibility of friendship and by people willing to be vulnerable enough to say “Hey, want to do a thing?” As long as you flash the appropriate “not dating you, not going to be exhaustingly needy” signs, this is a thing that tends to make people happy.

    3. Yetanotherjennifer*

      I had a friend who used to say the best time to make this sort of contact is on the person’s birthday. Call or email and wish them a happy birthday or happy new year or something like that. You’re starting a new tradition of contacting old friends at the holidays. Then ask if they would like to meet sometime for coffee to catch up.

      Think of this like a first date. You want it to be quick and public. And it helps to have something else to do or watch so if conversation lags you still have the thing.

  18. Punkin*

    This is by no means a crisis, but I would so appreciate any recommendations for a shampoo (in the US) for oily hair. I used to be able to find shampoos for oily hair, but cannot find them now. Everything “adds body” – but that is not what I need. I am completely gray, if that makes a difference. TIA.

    1. Simms*

      The green Herbal Essences is a common one for oily hair. Also look for anything with tea tree oil. Head and shoulders I think used to make a type for oily hair, it had yellow on the label and was a citrus thing. Key words also tend to be clarifying or cleansing.

      1. Pretend Scientist*

        I second this. And if you’re somewhere that has a Big Lots, I got a bunch of them for $2.50 each.

    2. periwinkle*

      I guess “oily” has too negative a connotation for marketing purposes? Seconded on the tea tree shampoos. If you’re near a Trader Joe’s, they’ve got tea tree oil shampoo that is (as one would expect at TJ’s) reasonably priced and good quality. Shampoos labeled as “clarifying” do a deeper clean than normal shampoo, so they’re good for oily hair and scalp.

    3. fposte*

      In my oily days, Suave Clarifying was great (got a high recommendation from Paula Begoun) and inexpensive. (I think “clarifying” is the new “for oily hair.”)

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Yeah, I think you’re right that “clarifying” is the new “for oily hair”. Also, my hairdresser tells me to use the old-fashioned Prell shampoo occasionally, as a product-build-up remover. She said not to use it all the time, that it could “strip” my hair (whatever that means), so it might be really good for oily hair.

    4. Stellaaaaa*

      Look for clarifying or purifying products. Not Your Mother ‘s makes a Clean Freak line that I like. They carry it at Ulta and Target. Reasonable prices and eco friendly.

    5. Jessesgirl72*

      I know I always get ZOMG responses from this suggestion, but the way I got rid of my oily hair was to stop washing it every day. Yes it’s disgusting at first, so I suggest “training” it at a time when you’re going to have time off- like if you’re lucky enough to have 2 weeks off at Christmas- but washing it less has made my scalp produce less oil. I wash my hair twice a week and it is way less oily than it ever was before, which was really oily! There is all kinds of research on why this works, and from health and beauty experts, if you want to google and not just take the recommendation of a crazy person on the internet. I was skeptical, and I’m not a granola type, so only tried it out of desperation!

      1. Anon No-Poo*

        I don’t own shampoo! I use a clarifying conditioner to scrub my scalp and then rinse well. I look like a normal middle-aged mom, no patchouli or tie-dye. Lol.

      2. Stellaaaaa*

        An alternative is to keep washing every day, but with a lightweight conditioner (Not Your Mother’s used to make a Clean Freak cleansing conditioner, but the current conditioner in that line works just as well. Herbal Essences has a cleansing conditioner too). I only use real shampoo a few times a year to coincide with humidity changes.

      3. Simms*

        That doesn’t always work on all types of oily hair as an aside. I have very oily hair and have tried the washing it less. It looked and smelled hideous and made even more oil than normal. So this is a YMMV thing.

          1. Jessesgirl72*

            It does take a couple weeks, even if it is going to work, and some people just can’t deal with the yucky hair in the meantime.

      4. SaraV*

        I went from washing my hair everyday from my teenage years through most of my 20’s, to every other day, and now, on average, about twice a week. The two mitigating factors on 2x a week are 1) We moved to an apartment with a ridiculously finicky water heater, which means no long, hot showers for me. If I wash my hair, I just barely make it before the water is too cold to rinse off conditioner or body wash. And 2) I hardly ever blow dry my hair. Thick hair takes longer, and I value my sleep. When I do blow dry, I put one or two hair products in my hair. Product can always make your hair a bit dirtier and oilier. I did wash and blow dry my hair Friday afternoon, and this morning (Sunday), it still looks pretty good.

        But, as said before….your mileage may vary.

      5. copy run start*

        I have curly hair and this was the ticket for me. DEFINITELY start when you have, say, a week off work. You’ll feel disgusting for the first few days. But it eliminated oil and frizz for me.

        Twice a week I use a low-poo shampoo. Daily I wash with conditioner, then leave in a thicker conditioner.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      My hair is mostly gray and I keep hearing comments about gray hair just not cooperating like the “old hair” did. At first I agreed with that.

      At the same time, I had problems with random oily hair then dry hair. I never knew what my hair was up to today. It was a guessing game every day.

      I use Jason’s Body Wash. I had been reading about people getting rid of their hair care stuff and I wanted to do that also. So I made the switch. I have washed my hair with this body wash for many years now. No more oily/dry guessing games. I don’t use any hair spray, mousse, etc and I get compliments. My hair is no longer running its own agenda.

      Most of the time I wash it every other day. Something I absolutely could not do in the past. In the summer, I might wash it five days out of the week, instead of the every other day plan. It depends on how hot it is or if I have been working outside.

      I know this seems unrelated, but keeping my water intake at regular levels every day also helps my hair.

    7. chickabiddy*

      My daughter has extremely oily hair and she uses Juicy by Lush. You will fall over backwards at the pricetag but even though her hair is to the middle of her back she only needs to use a very little bit of shampoo, so that frightfully expensive bottle will last a long time. It is the only thing that has worked for her and we tried a lot.

      1. Gecko*

        I can second Juice by Lush. It’s amazing! My hair is no longer oily at all but when it was I loved that stuff with an undying passion. If you are able to visit a Lush store in person, ask for a sample. They ads usually very good about giving samples.

        1. ginger ale for all*

          How is the smell on it? I can’t be in the Lush store for more than one minute or two before I have to leave for fresh air and to wipe the tears from my eyes.

    8. Raia*

      I shower twice a week with Garnier Fructis Pure Clean shampoo for ‘normal’ hair, which can be found in the grocery store for a few bucks. It’s certainly tough to find with all the shampoos advertised for dry and damaged hair though.

    9. Yetanotherjennifer*

      I’m grateful for this thread because I have a teen daughter with an oily hair problem. We’re using the suave clear clarifying shampoo. That’s the one my husband, the one she inherited the oily hair from, also uses. He has so little hair and she has so so much that I can’t say for sure it works well but we liked it enough to buy another bottle. One thing I’ve learned so far is to go gentle. Removing too much oil too fast can dry your scalp out and create flakes. They’re dry skin, not dandruff, but they’re just as noticeable.

    10. Nervous Accountant*

      Fellow oily hair sufferer here, but it’s also pretty thin and I desire volume, so I use volumizing/clarifying shampoos.

      Echoe downthread where someone said to wash less…it is a process. I’m envious of girls who could get away with not washing for literally 2 weeks at a time. Right now I can go 3-5 days max.

      One tactic I learned was Apple Cider Vinegar. 4 tbsp of ACV mixed in 8 oz of water after shampoo is supposedt o be really good for the hair.

      I also use dry shampoo on day 3, if that matters.

    11. Viola Dace*

      You might want to try a shampoo made specifically for gray and/or silver hair. They tend to be a bit on the drying side, but they definitely will make your gray hair look less “muddy”. Which could be part of what you’re seeing instead of being just straight up oily hair.

  19. Ayla K*

    Anyone else doing NaNoWriMo? Where are y’all in word count? How have you dealt with any bumps along the way? What’s your favorite sentence or section you’re written so far?

    I hit 30,000 words on Thursday! My goal is to write 5k this weekend and another 2500 before I leave for Thanksgiving on Tuesday night. I’m really afraid I’m going to finish the book and only be at 40,000 words or so, so I’ve been trying to go back and expand on internal monologue, make dialogue longer, etc.

    1. Cari*

      Awesome! I am doing it, kind of. I knew I wouldn’t make it, but every year it seems like November is the “right” time to start a novel. I have 3000 words and a ton of research/outline. I feel good about it!

      Glad to hear yours is going well. Have you looked at K.M. Weiland’s work on story structuring? That might help with word count issues. You want to make sure you have all the elements of a novel.

      1. Ayla K*

        No, I’ll have to check that out! This is my first year trying it and I’m loving the experience so far. I have so many half-finished (or barely started) projects and I found the idea of having a deadline really appealing – and it’s been working well so far! I did spend some time at the end of October writing brief chapter outlines, 3 sentences each, so I knew where I would be going with the story, but I definitely would benefit from some extra research/outlining.

      2. Talvi*

        Camp NaNoWriMo runs in April and also in July, if those are better times for you. (November is a terrible month to be a student wanting to do NaNo. Everything is due in November…)

      1. Ayla K*

        Never too late to start! (Well, I guess 50,000 words in 12 days is a *bit* of a stretch for most of us.) Hope things are going okay for you though

      2. Liane*

        Writing a weekly article is enough writing for me right now. Plus I have copy editing/proofreading for the other writers’ work, which is at least 16 pieces.

    2. Anonyby*

      Awesome! Go you! You can do it!

      I’ve tried NaNo a couple of times in the past and never gotten very far with it. This year I don’t even have the brain power to come up with anything creative, but at the beginning of this week I decided to start a journal, just to get myself in the habit of writing everyday. At least with a journal I can just write whatever happened today and my thoughts, so I’m not coming up with anything new. One positive side-benefit is that so far I’m putting down more words per day than I normally would get trying to write stories! I’m just hoping this can translate over to fiction writing. :)

      1. Ayla K*

        That’s a great idea!! Something I might try continuing past November to keep the creative juices running.

  20. Anonymous poster*

    I would appreciate any recommendations of USA history movies that are both entertaining and educational. I would also be interested in knowing why you are recommending it.

    Sweetie and l are going to see “Loving” this weekend. And talking about it made us realize that more movies about USA history might be a good idea. (Sweetie did not grow up in the USA and surprisingly enough did not study much USA history in school. This has led to some odd misunderstandings.)

    Thank you.

    1. Simms*

      There is a long series documentary on the Roosevelts by by Ken Burns that is really solid and entertaining.

      1. HoVertical*

        Ken Burns is one of the best documentary filmmakers ever, in my opinion. He doesn’t gloss over the awful, but he doesn’t dwell unnecessarily on it, either.

    2. fposte*

      How old does it have to be to be history? I haven’t watched any of the well-regarded nineteenth century ones, but All the President’s Men remains, I think, a compelling exploration of the discovery of how an American president went very, very wrong. Bonus points for it almost featuring Alison’s dad :-).

    3. Franzia Spritzer*

      Any particular genres you’re more or less interested in? Documentary only? How granular of an aggregate do you want on US history? Big overarching histories, or smaller stories that tell of larger themes? What are some big themes you’d like to consider? What kind of films do you enjoy? Do you have netflix or amazon prime? What’s your primary source of media watching?

      I’ve not revealed this in previous posts, but my stupid useless masters degree is in documentary arts. I am equipped to answer this question!

      There’s a great show that was on netflix called, How The States Got Their Shapes, it’s episodic so you can take it in an hour at a time, and gives a pretty good rundown of the economic and political histories of each state in the union. Dang, I just looked, it’s no longer streaming, but still available on DVD.

    4. Stellaaaaa*

      I liked the Hatfields and McCoys miniseries. It’s on netflix now I believe. This story isn’t common knowledge anymore which is interesting in its own way.

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      I’m assuming by “history movies,” you mean historical dramas and not documentaries?

      I’d probably have Sweetie start with these:

      Spotlight
      Selma
      Lovelace
      American Hustle
      12 Years a Slave
      The Whistleblower
      The Social Network
      Julie & Julia
      The Informant!
      Frost / Nixon
      21
      Good Night and Good Luck
      Kinsey
      Shattered Glass
      The Laramie Project
      Catch Me If You Can
      Erin Brockovich
      The Pirates of Silicon Valley
      Donnie Brasco
      Prefontaine
      I Shot Andy Warhol
      Casino
      Apollo 13
      Quiz Show
      Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story
      And the Band Played On
      Malcolm X
      A League of Their Own
      Goodfellas
      Born on the Fourth of July
      The Accused
      La Bamba
      Silkwood
      Escape from Alcatraz

      1. DragoCucina*

        Glory is excellent.
        Remember The Titans isn’t about famous people or battles, but people making a societal shift in their community.

      2. Emma*

        The Patriot, however, is very much historical fiction, and plays very fast and loose with facts. So if you’re looking for a good dramatization of real history, that’s not it.

    6. Kay*

      A brief list:

      Lincoln
      Little Big Man (as satire)
      Glory
      Gettysburg
      John Adams (HBO miniseries)
      Amistad
      12 Years a Slave
      The Grapes of Wrath
      The Right Stuff
      Flags of Our Fathers
      Band of Brothers (HBO miniseries)
      All the President’s Men
      Spotlight
      Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
      Milk
      The Last of the Mohicans
      Roots
      Tombstone

      New movie: Hidden Figures. It’s the only one I haven’t seen on this list but it looks promising.

      All of these should be taken with a HUGE grain of salt but are all decent access points to moments in American history.

    7. Op here*

      Op here.

      People are being much much generous with their knowledge and mental energy than I expected. But I should have known better on AAM.

      To answer some questions.

      We actually mostly do DVDs either Redbox or Library, but I might give Sweetie pie a year of Netflix as a birthday gift.

      History of the USA from pre European contact to 2000 would welcome.

      Sweetie pie probably had about 1-2 pages on the USA in school. As I said this has led to some misunderstandings. Someone took a very flattering pic of Sweetie pie in front of a artwork that included symbols that in the USA are associated with racism. My “NO! NO! 1000X NO! You can NOT post that.” was accepted but led to a very long explanation of the history. I am not a history teacher.

      1. Franzia Spritzer*

        Watch all of the Ken Burns documentaries, they’re very informative, rich with details while still general enough to give a broad stroke of context to the US progress through changing ethical attitudes. I wouldn’t try to binge watch them though, pepper them in with other things so that you have the stamina to endure them. They’re all on PBS online.


        Stephen Fry in America, a series
        The Mask You Live In
        Miss Representation
        The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross
        Freedom Riders
        Soundtrack for a Revolution
        Dark Girls
        She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry
        The War Photographer
        The Sixties
        Snow Falling on Cedars
        The Milagro Bean Fields
        Smoke Signals
        The Blue and the Gray
        Fruitvale Station
        Narcos
        The Best of Enemies
        The New Black
        For Love and Liberty
        Gasland
        13th
        Tangerine
        Pariah
        Dope

        Deadwood is a gold rush era dramedy, but it covers some important themes of colonization, resource depletion, money and politics, and women’s history, it’s excellently written, but not for the delicate due to mature language, violence and sex, it’s all in there because it’s historically accurate. I loved this show and was really bummed out when it was canceled.

        Last Days In Vietnam (PBS)
        Indian 101 (PBS)
        Lewis & Clark (PBS)
        First Freedom (PBS)
        MY VIETNAM YOUR IRAQ (PBS)
        Across The Creek (PBS)
        PBS os pretty great, if you have a TV keep an eye on programming as it is broadcast, to watch online one must become a contributing member to your local PBS station, which as far as I’m concerned is worth the $5 a month for their programming.

      2. rubyrose*

        A lighthearted musical view of the Continental Congress in Philadelphia and how they finally got around to signing the Declaration of Independence can be found in the movie named 1776. The movie is based on the Broadway musical and was made in 1972. Turner Classic Movies always shows it on July 4.

      3. SC Anonibrarian*

        Please don’t watch these INSTEAD of all the other excellent suggestions, but the tv series ‘drunk history’ is truly delightful and passes on actually-correct weird historic information while being fairly consistently hysterically funny.

      4. Op here*

        Thank you everyone for all the wonderful ideas. We are looking forward to many cozy winter evenings snugged up watching movies without feeling guilty or lazy.

    8. BPT*

      Just going to say that the Hamilton documentary on PBS, while it does focus mainly on the musical, has a lot of the history and research in there. Also listening to the Hamilton soundtrack (no historical story is going to be 100% accurate, but listening to the soundtrack got me into researching more about the time period and wanting to figure out what was fact and what was creative liberties).

    9. neverjaunty*

      This isn’t exactly a movie, but the Schoolhouse Rock cartoons on American history are classics for a reason. (And yeah, they tend to be a little oversimplified, but they are great for the basic background.)

    10. SophieChotek*

      I know I’ll be repeating some movies here but here are some that come to mind for me too:

      12 Years a Slave

      Beloved

      Roots (Original and Remake?)

      Amistad

      Race (about Jesse Owens; also TV series Jesse Owens Series)

      Lincoln (new film) – but Hal Halbrook’s film and Gore Vidal’s Lincoln are also interesting

      Parkland (Bobby Kennedy Assassination) – love Marcia Gay Harden in pretty much anything

      George Washington/George Washington: Forging of a Nation (miniseries with Barry Bostwick and Patty Duke – very GW-centric, and follows Flexner’s classic biography, and maybe not as critical of GW as it could be–really glosses over his ownership of slaves for the most, for instance, but still worthwhile, but made in 1980s too)

      Iron Jawed Angels – it is about US suffrage movement – Hilary Swank is suffrage leader Alice Paul, Anjelica Huston is Carrie Chapman Catt, and other good actress – it’s not completely accurate, but they get many of the main details right. (Suffragette and Votes for Women! are the UK perspective/history, as I recall)

      Entertaining Angels – the Dorothy Day Story – perhaps overly “celebratory” — but she did some amazing stuff and had lots of obstacles – a friend of mine was critical because it made her too much of a saint and didn’t delve into her some of her love affairs (Eugene O’Neill?) but I still thought it was interesting to have some history — I can drive by a Dorothy Day Center now and have a better sense of what that is

      Cradle Will Rock – Cherry Jones stars in this film about the 1930s the WPA and the FTP production of Marc Blitzstein’s musical – great movie about theater, McCarthyism

      George Wallace – mini-series — about George Wallace – with Gary Sinise and Mare Winningham

      Come see the Paradise – perhaps overly romantic, but about Nisei and an American soldier during WW2

      Mercy Street – Civil War – PBS Series
      — also Blue & the Grey (older mini-series with Colleen Dewhurst, as I recall)

      Yankee Doodle Dandy – it’s full of admiration for George M. Cohan, but it’s not bad — showing the life of an entertainer through the first decades of 20th century, famous for songs like “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “Over There” (used period -accurate music)

      — which reminds me of “For Me and My Gal” which is about vaudevillians in WW1 – it loosk more like Ww2 based on costumes, and was clearly intended as a patriotic vehicle during ww2 – and while sanitized, it is also not that inaccurate for some attitudes and experiences during WW1 (uses period accurate music)

      The Experimenter – I found it a very interesting film about the Stanley Milgram experiment – stars Winona Ryder and Peter Sarsgaard

      Milk
      Kinsey
      Stonewall
      Turn (TV series?)
      John Adams (HBO Series)

    1. Simms*

      I at least am appreciating a politics free space. There is dozens of other places on the internet where you can talk politics if you want to right now.

      1. LegacyDev*

        I suppose I can balance my desire for reasonable aam community advice on dealing with fear and related issues against actually keeping the aam community reasonable.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Maybe Alison would allow a general discussion about fear. We could talk about times in the past when we were very afraid and talk about how we dealt with it. This would include what worked and what did not work. For example, I think everyone would be able to participate in a discussion of what they did with their fear on Sept 11, 2001.

          But we could talk about other things that caused us fear, such as accidents, crimes, etc. Who comforted us? What did they say that was helpful?

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Sorry, that was oddly third person, Alison. I was trying to land on saying, “What do you think of this idea, Alison?” and my post got away from me. sigh.

        1. nep*

          (Ha. Not to say it’s important that ‘I be here’ — simply to make the point of how much it’s appreciated. It makes an important difference.)

      2. Bibliovore*

        Please don’t lift the ban. I really appreciate having one place in my life that the present political situation does not intrude. I appreciate that there is a wonderful sanity to the commentarati but that is outweighed by the relief of “not having to go there.”

  21. anon for this*

    I’m feeling a little left out lately because all my friends have bought houses, gone on extravagant vacations, gotten married, or are getting pregnant/having kids and I’m….just in the same place and can’t even afford a down payment on a place. I live in a high COL area and even going an hour outside the city is unaffordable. I’d have to go all the way out to the rural suburbs (about two hours) to afford anything, and that’s where I grew up and I know I’d be miserable there. I have to have city residency for my job, but when one bedrooms are going for a minimum of $450,000, I’ll never be able to afford to buy.

    I keep getting even more depressed that all my friends are moving on and I struggle to even afford all my medical issues. We had a Friendsgiving and I was the only one there without a house, marriage, or children and it was painfully obvious. I know they don’t mean to exclude me, but when all the conversations revolve around houses and marriage and kids, I just feel like I’m so far behind financially and socially. It’s not even that I want to get married or have kids, but I feel like I don’t have anything to contribute and when I try to gently bring it up and change the topic to something else, I feel pitied or ridiculous for being all, “hey let’s talk about something insignificant instead of your big life achievements”. Or admitting that I can’t even afford to go on a vacation and causing the awkward silence when they talk about their international trips,

    So, how do you all deal when you know you’ll never have what your friends have? I’m happy for my friends, but I’m jealous they can afford houses and condos and depressed that I’ll never be able to join them on girl’s trips for a weekend away or host a party because my apartment is small and not as roomy as their nice houses and condos. Most of them get together with their kids or have couples dates and as the only single one and the only one who doesn’t want to have children, I definitely know that I don’t want to be the third wheel and honestly, it’s very awkward to be the only single one in a big group or be the only one without kids at a meetup where they all bring kids.

    Basically, I feel like my life choices and situation means I no longer have anything in common with my friends, and that’s making me really upset lately.

    1. Sibley*

      Sounds like maybe you need to find a new group of friends. Not drop the old group, but find people who you connect to now. People do grow apart, and that’s ok, but it sucks.

      Also, HCOL is tough. Owning a house is not a requirement to be an adult, neither is marriage or kids.

      1. anon for this*

        I know it’s not, but I’d like to own and hate that my money is going towards rent instead of something I can own. I pay so much in rent for such a small space and I just moved into my own place with no roommates after years of living with roommates to try and save money, but I just really long for a place where I can paint the walls and re-do the appliances and kitchen and have the space to hang out in more than one room and put up more than one framed artwork or have room for more than just a microwave and coffeemaker.

        I like the area I live in, but I think I’m just depressed that HCOL means I’ll never be able to reasonably afford a down payment since 5% would take me years to save for and 20% is never going to happen.

    2. AnonAcademic*

      Short version: nothing is wrong with you! You might just need some friends from a wider range of backgrounds to reassure you that your normal is, well, normal.

      I went through this with my stepbrothers who got married, bought houses, and had kids all while I was in grad school, unmarried, renting an apartment. For a while I felt “left behind” by them and like I was spinning my wheels in terms of the “American dream” accomplishments.

      Let me tell you how things look 5 years later: one stepsibling’s wife left him with their upside down mortgage on their house, effectively bankrupting him. The other stepsibling had a serious mental health crises, got laid off, started a business that is doing well but not well enough to maintain their lifestyle, so they are now going into foreclosure on their house. Along they way they’ve both taken vacations and posted beautiful photos of their families on facebook and you could really think things were idyllic.

      Your friends with kids probably have bad days where the kid is endlessly cranky where they envy your child free lifestyle. Your friends with houses may be worried that their roof leak is going to bankrupt them. Your married friends may have just fought bitterly the morning before they put on smiles to host you in their home. I know as a married person, I live vicariously through my single friend’s dating exploits and want to hear ALL about it! If you don’t feel your friends want to genuinely hear about your life, then I think you need new friends, and it has nothing to do with whether they own a home or travel or not.

    3. EA*

      I’m so sorry you are going through this. I felt like this a few years ago when my friends all got into serious relationships and I was single. First off, I think they could be doing more to be sensitive. I know you don’t want to blame them, but taking about trips when they know you can’t afford it isn’t polite. I also suspect they might project an air of superiority. I’m just saying the way you feel may not be all your fault, it is partially on them to include you.

      I would recommend that you focus on getting some hobbies. You might meet some people, and at the very lease will have another activity to take your mind off thing. I think distractions are good. Are you able to pick up a side job? It will serve the duel purpose of distraction and helping with financial stress.

      Also, try and remember that they might look ‘further ahead’ but you have no idea if they are as happy and satisfied as they seem. I think if they don’t meet you half way then eventually you will need to include new people in your life.

    4. Ghost Pepper*

      I’m sorry to hear you’re going through this. I was where you were several years ago. My friends had lucrative jobs at big-name companies, able to afford the finer things in life, while I was unemployed, barely scraping things together to afford a basement studio with no phone or TV. I’ve also been the Single One in a group of couples. Once when I came out of the restroom, my one friend jumped off of her boyfriend’s lap suddenly – as if the sight of another couple would somehow send me into loneliness-induced hysteria. I too have opted out of vacations because I was the only single one and because I couldn’t afford it. Like you, I was happy for my friends getting married and buying houses. But I still felt exactly as you do.

      So yeah. I’ve been there. I will also say it may be premature to conclude that you’ll “never” have what your friends have. Perhaps you don’t want all that stuff to begin with, which is perfectly fine. But if you do want it – I’m here to say that I’ve been there, and now I’m on the other side – I found a better job, I made more money, I met someone, and we started a family. So never say never.

      That said, I think it might be time to expand your circle of friends to those who are more similar to you in terms of situation. Honestly, it’s easier to have single friends when you’re single, and married friends when you’re married. It’s not impossible to maintain friendships with those who are in a different situation, but there is less commonality, frankly. I was single not too long ago, so I can still relate to dating stories. But when you have kids, it’s almost impossible to avoid discussion of kids.

      You probably have hobbies and interests outside of your friends. Why not expand your circle by going to a meet-up related to one of those hobbies or interests? There are other folks out there who are precisely in your situation. This isn’t to say to defriend anyone. Just expand and spend more time with others who are like-minded. And hopefully you won’t feel as upset anymore because there are plenty of other cool, fun people out there who have no notion of houses and kids.

    5. fposte*

      Oh, that’s hard; I’m sorry.

      One thing that comes to mind finding alternatives to get-togethers with everybody in the group and their kids. You’re not going to find a lot of kid-free time, because that’s how kids work for awhile, but going with one friend or even one friend and her kid for coffee or a trip to the aquarium that you might all enjoy reduces the “one of these things is not like the other” vibe. It’s legitimate to want to talk about something other than kids sometimes, but the more that’s the common denominator the more legitimate it is to talk about kids a lot of the time. To some extent, your friends are a package deal these days; find ways to make the package as pleasing to you as possible.

      Another is expanding your friends group. Maybe it’s time to find some Game of Thrones friends, or morning walk friends, or [fill in the blank] friends. Start small. We rarely keep all the same friends for a lifetime, and even if you do feel more in step with your old friends down the line, it makes sense to have more people than those to bring you joy.

      And another is to be okay with yourself and try not to calibrate your life according to them. I know that’s a hard one, but your apartment is fine and your job is fine, and you’re probably doing a lot better than some people you knew from your early friendship days, and your traveling friends are envying other people who stayed in nicer hotels or bought bigger houses or have pensions instead of 401ks that went empty so the vacation could be paid for. It’s a common human tendency to look only at those who look to have more, and it of course doesn’t help that you’re in a situation that brings that to the fore. But regardless of the legitimacy of the comparison, it doesn’t help you here, so it would be helpful if you can find a way to look at your life in a way that isn’t about what it’s not.

      Good luck. Friendship drift is a stressful thing.

    6. persimmon*

      If you want to host a party, do it and don’t be self-conscious. You can invite a smaller number to your apartment, plan a picnic at a park (though wrong time of year), or take a group to do a cool thing. Another thing is, if you are feeling like an odd one out in group gatherings but still have strong individual relationships with each friend, try meeting up one-on-one instead. My main question is, is it just that you’re feeling insecure and envious, or are they also being judgmental? If it’s just the first, you can get past it as suggested, but you shouldn’t subject yourself to the second.

    7. Rachel Greene*

      This was me a couple of years ago. I bought my first house and got married this year, so these have been pretty recent changes.

      In the past year or so, I realized that I have changed and the things that used yp be important to me (i.e. going to black-tie charity functions, shopping at expensive boutiques, and hanging with my Junior League friends) are just not important to me anymore. These days, I like spending quiet nights at home with my husband, dog, and Netflix and wearing my JCP clothes. We have a modest house that we enjoy for the most part. We are not in debt up to our eyeballs.

      Unfortunately, my old friends are still living my old lifestyle. I have noticed that whenever we do hang out, our conversations circle around materialism and surface talk. Ive realized recently that we really have drifted apart. Ive also realized that they have criticized me for having a “simpler” life and they “just dont understand it.” They dont understand why I would rather forgo an expensive vacation in favor of trying to pay off my house.

      So, Ive been slowly phasing myself out and hanging out with other friends that i have more in common with and that we actually have deeper conversations beyond whose SUV is better. It has been hard but that would be my advice for you – really seek out people you have more in common with and slowly detach yourself from the other friend group.

      1. Rachel Greene*

        I would also recommend a social media cleanse too – this helped me tremendously a few years when I was really struggling with these type of feelings.

    8. Stellaaaaa*

      People don’t tend to admit when they’ve had advantages. Did any of your friends have their parents pay for college while you’re hampered by debt? Did they get inheritances? Did they marry partners whose parents paid for college? Two incomes make a huge difference in lifestyle.

      1. anon for this*

        They didn’t, which is why I feel so weird about it, I guess. They all had loan debt, but were able to pay it off or pay a significant portion of it off. I had less loan debt than most of them because I had scholarships and went to a less expensive in-state college.

        It’s definitely not a coming from money situation since they had similar upbringings, but I think the two incomes is probably a big part of it. It’s probably also part of the reason why I sometimes get so angry about housing because it’s impossible to buy in my area without two incomes.

        1. Jules the First*

          Two incomes is definitely a big part of it. But I really wanted to say that living in a high COL place doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t ever own a home or have a place where you can paint the walls and redo the kitchen etc.

          I live in a HCOL city and work in an industry that pays peanuts, and I’m single. I was absolutely in the camp of “I’ll never be able to buy a house” and then last year the stars aligned and somehow I landed a unit in a subsidised housing development. I have a mortgage on 35% of my huge 1-bed, and then pay (very reasonable) rent on the remaining 65%. The two together come out almost to the penny to what my rent would have been. So you can look for affordable housing or rent-to-own schemes if you really want to be a homeowner (and lest you think those are shoddy quality, this is hands down the nicest place I’ve ever lived). I’ve also had friends who rented long term from an individual landlord who was totally cool with them repainting (sometimes you have to promise to put it back to boring white before you leave) and renovating (though if you do renovate, you either need a long, multi-year lease or some kind of legal agreement with the landlord that gets you compensated if you have to vacate before X date). I know it’s hard, but it’s worth looking at unusual options if these are things you really want.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      It takes skills to carry on an inclusive conversation with people who are (for any reason) not similar to one’s self.

      What we have here is a group of friends with NO inclusiveness skills.

      Sorry, not what you wanted to hear, I know.

      What types of things go into carrying on a conversation that includes everyone in the group?

      Well, for one thing, you have to remember things about each individual in the group. Then, not much different than playing the game Concentration, you find common threads among people’s interests and you launch a convo about these common interests.
      And, oh yeah, since this is WORK to put all this together, you have to have the desire to actually put forth the effort.

      I have watched people build a conversation that everyone could participate in and I will tell you it takes talent/forethought/presence of mind/willingness/caring. It’s also impressive when a person does this masterfully.

      Your friends aren’t doing any of these things. Time to expand your horizons and find folks similar to where you are in life and your interests.

      1. Stellaaaaa*

        100%. I recently saw a dopey meme that went something like, “Don’t waste your time on people whose eyes don’t light up when you talk about your dreams.” That’s corny as F but it’s totally true that good friends should be excited about whatever you want to talk about.

      2. Nervous Accountant*

        Agree to this. My friends and I , most of us are at different stages (some married, single, home owner/renting, kids/TTC etc) and I can’t say this has an ever been an issue…. like I don’t think it’s the being single (or married) the issue, it’s being considerate I guess.

        Although, I totally understand where OP comes from. If i were in a roomful of moms/pregnant women, I’d be super uncomfortable. With my friends its OK because I’ve known them for 13 years and there’s more to our friendship than babies or marriage if that makes sense.

    10. SeekingBetter*

      Yeah, I know exactly what you mean and I’m really sorry to hear that you’ve become so depressed by it. I’m kinda in the same boat you’re in and I know what it means to see all of your friends in serious relationships, married, kids-or-no-kids and such, and it never seems like those friends have any time for you anymore. What makes it worse for me is that I’ve been unemployed for a while, so I’m actually staying indoors pretty much all of the time and have been much more isolated.

      The way I made new friendships was by attending exercise classes in the evenings at least 3-5 times a week. I usually see the same group of people and have become good friends with a couple of these people who also attend. We share a thing in common (the exercise class!) and it’s a positive atmosphere. Even though I’m unemployed and really shouldn’t be paying to go to these classes, I am still continuing to do so because it’s the only way I get to go out and socialize.

      Hope my take on it helps you!

    11. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      But are you happy with the choices you’ve made? Even if its led you down a different path? Are the things they have important to you, or is it more keeping up with the Jones’ with a group you have maybe outgrown?

      I used to worry about not having bought a house, not done this, not done that, but then I realized that it didn’t matter because my life and choices were mine alone. Ive done some unconventional things because it is what was important to me and suited my goals and beliefs. Sure sometimes I am still bothered by the fact that I don’t own a house, a few cars, a couple kids, and two higher-earners but then I remind myself that I never wanted that in the first place and the life I am living now IS what I wanted (more or less – not quite perfect but nothing ever is!). And I am lucky for other things in my life.

      Breaking out of the friend circle is key – definitely try and meet new people, try new things! You may be surprised at what happens. Also – things happen at different times for different people. Some days I feel like I am 10 years behind everyone else in figuring things out :) That is ok – live life for you and not other people or some socially-acceptable norm. If you are unhappy with your choices to date, then work to change them slowly, over time. Its all a marathon, not a sprint.

      Finally, I never got on the social media bandwagon, but that is definitely something to limit. And who knows, maybe your friends are jealous of your ability to have time to yourself, an unencumbered schedule, a big city life :)

    12. Zip Silver*

      Change careers?

      My friend group from college has a guy in your spot, his job is tied to living in a high COL area on the East Coast, while the rest of us are more mobile or our industries are based in cheaper cities. So while most of us can get 4 or 5 bedroom houses for 250k, he’s SOL with apartment living, even though he makes more than we do.

    13. neverjaunty*

      Have you actually talked to your friends about any of this? Do they know you feel left out or like a third wheel? Are you actually bringing up things in your own life or shared interests that they are ignoring?

      If you are jealous of your friends and need some space to deal with your own unhappy situation, of course that’s okay. Or if they really are jerks, walk away. But right now it seems like you’re interpreting their actions in the worst possible light so you can “objectively” decide the friendships are over.

    14. matcha123*

      I don’t feel jealous of friends that have kids, I pity them. I’m not jealous of their homes, because I don’t want to own a home.

      I am jealous of their money, because I love money and money is happiness.

      Just know that it’s a lot easier to save up and buy the big house and go on the cool vacation when two people work towards that goal. When you are just you, everything takes longer because there’s no one to share the burden with.
      I’ve gone over to the homes of people with kids. I don’t ever want them, but kids love me and I’m fine spending some time with them and their kids. If that’s something you can handle, go for it. You can mix adult conversation in, too.

  22. Louise*

    Does anyone have experience living in South America? Which cities would you recommend, in terms of liveability and safety? And what’s the safety situation like on a day to day basis? (For reference, I’m currently living in Brussels. Slightly edgy about the threat from terrorism, but other than that I’m pretty comfortable.) I’m thinking about trying to find a job there in the next year or two, most likely in a multinational consulting firm. Looking at Buenos Aires and Lima as a starting point.

    1. nep*

      I’ve not been to S America– just to note that a friend’s daughter very recently went to Peru to work and instantly fell in love with it and is very happy working and being there.

      1. Alinea*

        Yes! Look into Peru. Lima was fun (where I’m sure the most work opportunities are) but I really loved Cusco.

    2. katamia*

      I haven’t been there myself, but I look at a lot of expat-related boards because I’m planning to move overseas, and people always seem to really like Chile.

      1. the gold digger*

        I lived in Chile for two years as a Peace Corps volunteer. It felt really odd being there in that capacity because Chile is a fully developed, first world country. I never felt afraid, but I did get tired of being cold all the time.

    3. Mela*

      Panama seems to be very popular, but I didn’t like it that much (and I like most places). Check out Colombia–I’ve only visited Medellin but Bogota is supposed to be great as well.

      1. the gold digger*

        Oh! Right! I also lived in the Panama Canal Zone for three years when I was in high school. Great place as a kid – not sure what it would be like as a working adult. Nice weather, though, and great produce – we had mango and avocado trees in our yard. Main thing is you can’t walk on the grass after dark (which happens at 6 p.m. every day of the year) because of the poisonous snakes.

    4. Mephyle*

      I have read various accounts that Ecuador is a sort of (mostly) undiscovered gem for expats.

      Since you’re thinking of Latin America, is there a reason why you’re not looking at Mexico or Central America?

  23. Cari*

    Having a rough day. I am at work, and I can’t focus on anything. My cat passed away unexpectedly yesterday afternoon. Then my baby was up till almost 1am (he took a late nap and got messed up on his sleep schedule). I’m normally more of a lurker here, but I’m trying to be more engaged today! Tell me good things about your day/week etc. so I can start to feel more positive.

    1. nep*

      So, so sorry about your loss — nothing stings quite like that. I read this on line today and I think you probably qualify as one of these superheroes (attributed to Elizabeth Gilbert): ‘The women (let say humans) I love and admire for their strength and grace did not get that way because shit worked out. They got that way because shit went wrong and they handled it. They handled it in a thousand different ways on a thousand different days, but they handled it. Those women are my superheroes.’
      All the best and take care.

    2. Nancy B*

      I’m so sorry about your cat. And being tired on top of it makes the day so hard.

      You asked for something good, so let’s try this. Today, my church filled over 1,000 laundry baskets with food for local under-resourced families. We do this every year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Even very little children get to participate putting food in baskets, moving baskets along roller boards, and breaking down boxes. We also get to partner with other local organizations to distribute the baskets. The whole operation is very cool–something our family looks forward to every year.

      I hope you feel better soon, Cari.

      1. Cari*

        Thank you so much! What an awesome thing to hear. I am feeling better just hearing this! I would love to have my four-year-old participate in something like this.

    3. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      Home searching and texting pictures of kittens to the SO to keep dreaming/saving for our future–a house, a cat, and kids.

      Also, I love the “Ideas are Scary” GE commercial (it’s on youtube). A creature comes to life, everyone’s confused/angry, folks give it a chance, and it flourishes. Reminds me of 2 years ago–just out of a masters pgm and I applied hundreds of places. But time passed, and I got a gig, and now I’m an expert in a surprising (to me) field.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I’m sorry about your kitty. :(

      I don’t really have anything, except I have a Thanksgiving potluck with my nerd group this evening. That should be fun for a couple of hours.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Doctor Who. :) We watched last year’s Christmas special (the one with the dream crabs and Santa, LOL) while eating and then geeked out over Doctor Strange.

          Then I came home and got in my music nerd chat room and some people from WAAAAAY back in 2003 when I first joined came in! I was up very late talking to them. :)

    5. Athena*

      Aww Cari, I lost my cat very suddenly a few months ago and I still miss him every day. I am so sorry for your loss. Add in the stress of a baby keeping you up and that is a VERY rough day. Hugs to you all.

      Here’s my good thing for the week: I have TIME. I am in grad school and work part time and I have 3 kids. Usually there is NO TIME, but this week there is a LOT more since most classes are cancelled and my job is shut for the holidays. I can catch up on school projects, clean the house, and hang out with my kiddos! I’m thrilled about it.

      1. Cari*

        Thank you so much. I’m so sorry about your cat as well. It is really hard.

        And YAY for time. I totally get it. I work full-time, teach part-time and have two kids. The fact that I have managed to get 5700 words on my NaNo project is practically a miracle! My husband took them to my in-laws’ yesterday, so I had a couple hours after work to de-stress. Hope your week is wonderful.

    6. Rahera*

      I’m so sorry to hear about your cat. That’s very tough.

      If you’d like to hear a little good thing, the roses have all started to bloom in my garden. (I’m in NZ.) I planted a new climbing rose a few weeks ago and it is very happy, but not big enough to attach itself to the trellis yet. Maybe next year :).

      1. Cari*

        Thank you! Oh, it must be so nice to have good weather, although we did have lovely fall weather up until today, so I shouldn’t complain :-) I bet your roses are beautiful.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Okay, I have a story I kind of have to be vague about some details, I apologize. I think you will get the gist, though.

      Friend had an ugly accident with a chain saw a couple weeks ago. Unfortunately, he was in a remote area of his property and no one was around. While he saved himself from worse injury, he still severed a finger. The quickest and safest way to get to people was to climb a bank made of rocks. So he tried.
      He made it to a near by parking lot. There was ONE car there. He yelled for help. The driver rolled down his window to see what was wrong. The driver agreed to call for help. The operator told the driver to go over to Friend and keep talking to him. The driver agreed to try.
      When the driver opened the door, that was when Friend saw Driver (a vet) had no legs. Driver got into his wheelchair went over to Friend and they talked until help arrived.

      The finger was reattached.

      To me, this is a “Yes YOU CAN!” story. And sometimes we need a “yes you can” story. We need to hear of people managing in situations that are worse than ours because it gives us reassurance. “If he can do X, then I know I can do Y.”

      It’s okay to cry for your kitty. You CAN do that and still KNOW that positive things are on the horizon for you, probably even today. Often times life is a bag of mixed emotions and events, we have positive things and sad things maybe within hours of each other. Take some nice deep breaths, it’s okay to feel sorrow just like it is okay to feel joy. We can do both.

      1. Cari*

        Thank you. That is an amazing story. The permission to give myself the space to feel sorrow as well as joy is liberating. I hope your friend is doing OK. I can’t even imagine that kind of pain and shock, and climbing the rocks on top of that… whoa.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yeah, it is amazing what people can do in these instances. I was pretty awed by just the rock climbing part also. When I hear the part about the Driver, I cried.
          Friend will be okay. It will take a while to reknit entirely. I hope he goes to visit the Driver (vet). I think that would be neat.

    8. Sami*

      I’m so sorry about your kitty. And I hope you all get a good nights sleep tonight.

      This was a surreal moment for me this week and yet so mundane.
      I was in and out of the Sec. of State/DMV in EIGHT minutes on Thursday. That included renewing my license plate and my license itself. Which included two pictures because even the woman agreed the first one wasn’t good.

      1. Cari*

        Thank you! Baby is still kind of off on his schedule, so I’m still a bit zonked (working again today). But I do feel more focused/productive.

        Eight minutes – that’s awesome!! Unprecedented!

    9. Hrovitnir*

      I’m sorry to hear that! I am having some awful pet times at the moment so I feel you. :(

      Good things… last week I did the practical portion of the short phlebotomy course I did (so I can take peripheral leukocytes for research rather than nursing/phlebotomy per se). It was nerve wracking as my (generalised) anxiety is through the roof, but it worked out well and it’s always good to feel competent at the end. It was a bit sad as so many people in outpatients are getting bloods as they are very unwell, but it also reminded me I do kind of like working with people in a healthcare role (I was a vet nurse before going back to school).

      Man, that was a lot of brackets. But hopefully nominally interesting – doing things that make me feel competent is very important for my brain and also a bit of a struggle so it’s a highlight for me.

  24. The Other Dawn*

    I posted a couple weeks ago about my frustration at not being able to get myself on track with my eating and working out (https://www.askamanager.org/2016/11/weekend-free-for-all-november-5-6-2016.html#comment-1257667).

    Unfortunately I’m still feeling the same, although maybe a but worse. I just cannot get it together for the life of me. I’m in a rut, in that I’m just so tired of thinking about food. Nothing seems to appeal to me and I find no joy in eating. (I know eating is for survival, but I’d like to at least enjoy it a bit.) Haven’t worked out much this week; however, that’s part my fault and part my back’s fault. I don’t have much motivation to workout, which stems from my back being an absolute mess this week from a long car trip last weekend, an office job and sitting a lot at home.

    I’ve really thought about what will help me get to my goal, which is to get under 200 pounds and be as strong as possible by 2/27 for my excess skin removal surgery. In thinking about how I approach my job and what works there for me, I’ve known for a long time that long-term deadlines aren’t good for me: I tend to dilly dally around until the absolute last minute, and then I cram cram cram. I need goals/deadlines that are right in front of my face, that I can accomplish quickly, and feel as though I’m making continuous progress. Since there isn’t really any getting around the kinds of exercises I need to do to build muscle, I just have to suck it up and do it. But what I’m thinking I want to do is to have my trainer give me small goals, which will get me through the next three months a little less painfully. I’m thinking he can say, “You’re going to do X routine for X weeks, and then we’re switching it up to do Y for Y weeks.” Or maybe, “You’re going to workout X number of times this week and on these days.” I think that will help keep me on track. Otherwise, it feels like this big long stretch of time and that I can f*ck around for X weeks and then cram right before surgery. (I know that won’t work because it takes time to lose weight and build strength, so I really need to find something to get me over this awful hump. Most of the time I can rally myself to get going, but can’t seem to this time.)

    1. Amadeo*

      I suggest checking your library (or if you want to buy, the bookstore) for The Obesity Code by Dr Jason Fung, or view his blog (Search google for his name, his blog is the very first result, Intensive Dietary Management).

      I have PCOS and am (probably, haven’t been officially tested) insulin resistant. I started the book feeling a bit down, since what he was saying was the same as everything else I’d read until he got to the chapters about fasting. It’s worth reading and deciding if that diet management is something you think would work for you. I started with baby steps, giving up my between meal snacks I’d been told I needed by other books, then started skipping breakfast and lunch two days a week, usually drinking a cup of bone broth or just broth at lunchtime because it tricked my brain into at least pretending I’d eaten and made getting to dinner easier. It’s almost mindless, and he’s right that it’s incredibly simple. On fasting days I only have to consider supper, and I can make enough at supper for lunches the next day, so it takes a lot of pressure off of thinking about food. Dr Fung even covers exercising while fasting, which he says is fine to do.

      I’ve lost weight every week since I started doing this and I only exercise a couple of times a week by attending a taekwondo class.

      Mind, this is my personal experience and it’s only been about a month, month and a half, but I wanted to share it in case it may help you break up your worrying about food, because I totally understand that frustration!

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Sounds like that works for you, but I’ve had gastric bypass and I have to hit certain nutritional goals each day (x grams of protein, etc.). Not sure if this would be good for me. Unless, however, I can use a protein drink for those two meals. But I guess that technically wouldn’t be fasting since I’ll be getting at least 200-250 calories with eat drink. I do agree, though, that this takes the focus off food. Maybe part of the answer is to go back to the basics of when I was a new WLS patient.

        1. Amadeo*

          Ahh, then yeah, that might not be feasible for you. I do agree that going back to the basics sometimes does help!

    2. nep*

      Even aside from ‘you’ll do x routine three times a week, etc’, you could have a much more immediate goal such as ‘I’m going to out my workout gear on and start moving my body…’ Or ‘I’m going to finish this bottle of water by the end of the hour.’ In the moment. That can really help. Seemingly small victories stacked up can be empowering. One foot in front of the other. All the best to you. You’ve got to know that you’ve got this.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Thanks! Yes, I definitely need to improve on my water intake, so I think setting water goals will help, too. I try to say, “I’m going to finish this glass or water before my next meeting (at work),” but that doesn’t always work….because I’m snacking, and with gastric bypass I have to wait 30 minutes after I eat to start drinking again. And since I’m snacking so much at work, I’m constantly having to reset that 30 minute clock.

      2. the gold digger*

        I like the idea of smaller goals. I hate exercising, but I tell myself that I am going to put on the exercise clothes and exercise for at least 30 minutes. On the weekend, I don’t let myself read my book or watch DVDs until I have exercised and the only time I let myself listen to podcasts is while I exercise.

        It is much easier to motivate myself on a workday – there is a gym at work and I go at lunch. I don’t get paid any extra to work through lunch, so why on earth would I?

    3. Anono-me*

      Two things that help me beat the gym blaas.

      1. I “cheat” on my gym, not on my work out. I do a one week free trial at another gym. Either it is a better fit for me or I appreciate the old gym more.

      2. I skip the official gyn work out and do something that is hard physical work. Hike with a friend. Mow the lawn. Volunteer to do something (My personal favorite is dog walking at the local shelter and since the walking is on-site they take walk-in volunteers.)

      Good luck.

    4. Emily*

      For the working out: could you add something more fun (dance, Pilates, martial arts, yoga, rock climbing, hiking, swimming, whatever active thing you find interesting) to your workout routine? I understand that you can’t skip out on many of the exercises that your trainer is having you do, but maybe if you supplement them with a physical activity that you enjoy, you’ll feel more motivated and less bored.

      Also, it sounds like you’re onto something with the small goals thing. Maybe having your trainer give you smaller, shorter-term goals will help you feel more accountable.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Most of the time eating for me is a mechanical process. Buy it, cook it, eat it, put the kitchen garbage out. I have always thought that eating three times a day is so inefficient and such a waste of time.

      I hope you are laughing.

      I ate whole foods for years. I have slipped some what lately, but I do agree with you that eating should not be recreation. And I also agree with you that I don’t enjoy what I eat that much, not like I used to. However, I do totally enjoy feeling better and being more me.

      Are you working with a protein drink? Please say you are.
      Please consider a nutritionist or a practitioner who can help you with figuring out what vitamins and minerals you need. I read your posts and I can hear it in your writing, you remind me of me when I am lacking this or that, you could really benefit from some type of nutritional help.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Protein drink: not at the moment. Last time I saw the nutritionist at my doctor’s office she was fine with me not using one. Mainly because I was (WAS) eating high protein foods and was able to get my protein through food. Typically, they encourage WLS patients to give up the protein drinks after a year or so, since we’re drinking our calories and those drinks, depending how thick they are, the type of protein, etc., don’t keep us full and satisfied. As long as we can get all the protein in other ways–not everyone can–they’re OK with ditching the drinks. That said, I haven’t been eating the way I’m supposed to eat or drinking my water (still!), so I should be using protein drinks and haven’t. I am, however, taking all my calcium and vitamins, so there’s that.

        Joy in eating: I had TONS of joy in eating….until gastric bypass. I still enjoy it, but definitely not like I used to. Mainly because I can’t eat the way I used to. My eyes are still WAY bigger than my stomach. I hate knowing that no matter what I order when I’m out, I can’t finish it. And it just hit me yesterday while having a mammogram and chatting with the tech: I’m still mourning the loss of food and the way I used to get so much pleasure out of it. That probably sounds very foreign to those who eat to live, but those who live to eat will know exactly what I mean.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Mourning: Oh yeah! Definitely! I spent a lot of time mourning when I changed my diet. More than missing desserts, I missed eating all the carbs I liked, I could eat potatoes three times a day and still want more.

          But I know on the logical side of my brain that this food is my frenemy. It pretends to be very likable, but over time it makes me heavy, sluggish and mental dull. It’s not helpful to me at all.

          Mourning, even tears, is fine. But to balance it, start looking around and seeing what you can add to your life that will help you to feel that life is still rich. By way of example, I am going to borrow from Louise Hay, who found emotional connections to various health issues. Diabetes, she wrote, rides on the emotion of feeling that the only sweet thing that happens to us in life is the sugary thing we eat.
          So in this example, the rebuttal would be to deliberately notice sweet things happening around us all day long. Her book got me to thinking about what was missing from my life that I would like to add in.

          (Louise Hay: You can heal your life.)

          I am totally convinced that 25% of weight loss is actually about food. The remaining 75% is about environmental issues and emotional issues.

          I’d like to encourage you to look at your life as a whole. Think of this not as weight loss but almost as a rebirth, a re-energizing, like hitting the redo button. It’s a chance to tweak things, improve things, and a chance to run at life again with a new approach.

          I cleaned my file cabinet to match the improved me and improved life. Gosh, I got rid of a lot of stuff. Then I set up new files for the new stuff I am now interested in. It was therapeutic, I can tell you. I ended up with less files and NO boxes of papers around the house. Oh my! That freed up space in my head. I never realized what a burden all that stuff was. A great weight got removed from my life…. wait a minute… a great weight. hmmm.

          Look around with fresh eyes, see what you see using those fresh eyes. It’s not just about food.

    6. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Maybe try a book about the psychology of habit foundation. Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before inspired me to adopt some desired habits and drop some unwanted ones.

      Here’s an excerpt from Amazon describing her book:

      Why do I find it tough to create a habit for something I love to do?

      Sometimes I can change a habit overnight, and sometimes I can’t change a habit, no matter how hard I try. Why?

      I want to help someone else make a change. But how?

      Why do practically all dieters gain the weight back—plus more?

      How quickly can I change a habit?

      How can I get myself to stick to a new habit?

      Do the same strategies work for shaping simple habits (like wearing a seat belt) work for complex habits (like drinking less)?

      Why can I make time for everyone else, but can’t make time for myself?

    7. Today's anon*

      I used to run mostly for exercise and then discovered triathlons and it was the best! Now I have 3 different disciplines that I rotate throughout the week. I really love the variety, but it’s predictable. I’m wondering if something like that might work? divide your workouts? like core, arms, legs. or whatever the exercises are. The other thing that I find helpful is to have a specific workout for each session, i.e, not swim 1000m, but 200 warm-up, 100m kick, etc. Each workout is not that different from the other one, but also different enough that it keeps it interesting. It keeps me focused.

  25. Loopy*

    THANKSGIVING HELP! I have never been able to plan out meals in terms of how much to make and I never trust the servings listed on recipes! Who eats an actual serving size? Especially on Thanksgiving?!

    So, I only have 3-4 people to cook for but I want lots of leftovers for everyone. Also my dad is flying down Sunday and won’t have had Thanksgiving so I want to ensure there is plenty for him to have a full hearty meal via leftovers on Saturday!

    Do I plan for 8-10? Do I double the “servings” listed in recipes? (For example if it Says serves 6), automatically double it?

    Advice?!

    1. MsRoboto*

      Relax it’s just food. I advise if you want to make a little more sure go ahead. Remember that there might be a lot of things to choose from and people may not eat full servings of any one thing. Well except whatever is their favorite. So be reasonable. Get a little larger turkey and if you MUST make a small amount of a side or two for Dad. It will be better anyway that 4 day old mashed potatoes.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Nigella says that the more food there is on offer, the smaller portions people take.

        And the December issue of Good Housekeeping advises 125g green vegetables and carrots and 175g potatoes per person (raw weight) if that’s any help?

    2. Cass*

      My mom, who makes incredible mashed potatoes, plans for a pound of potatoes per person. There’s usually some left over then!

    3. Colette*

      Are you cooking more dishes than you would for a regular meal? If so, I wouldn’t go too overboard with the number of servings – a little of a bunch of dishes adds up to a lot of food.

    4. Natalie*

      For three to four people, I would probably stick to a smaller number of dishes, and have more of things that keep well or are easily turned into something else (I make baked potato soup with mashed potatoes, for example.)

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I would cook for 6-8. Probably closer to 8.

      People tend to eat more in groups, they are talking and they keep eating. However if you are having several carbs or several veggies, you could cook for 6 or maybe 7.

      Decide not to make yourself crazy. You need to make sure there is enough turkey, gravy, stuffing. Those things are too hard to replace. Veggies, carbs, desserts you can run out and get on Saturday morning if you do not have enough.
      Your dad will be happy with whatever you give him. ;)

    6. BPT*

      I mean my biggest fear is running out of food for people. So I tend to go overboard and cook more than anyone could eat.

      This is just me, but for 3-4, I’d probably aim for servings of 8. If you’re not including your dad in there, servings for 9-10. Mostly because you’ve said you wanted to make sure everyone has leftovers. To make it simple, like your example, if a recipe serves 6 I’d just go ahead and double it. (Especially for mashed potatoes. Everyone wants seconds of those).

      I’d also make sure to get some tupperware and put some aside for your dad before everyone goes through for seconds.

    7. Anon for this*

      I would cook for four or five. I always end up making more side dishes than usual at Thanksgiving, which means that people pick smaller servings of everything. If there are any recipes that everyone loves, like mashed potatoes with my family, cook for six so people can have more but not go nuts with it.

    8. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Ive always found that most recipes way underestimate the number of servings, all the same, I bet you would be ok if you went another 50% up on the recipes and made sure you had enough turkey for everyone.

      Also, you could “hold some back” specifically for dad that you don’t put out on the general serving plate. I am guessing no one will give you grief for ensuring your dad has a nice Thanksgiving too at a later date :)

      Are you having others bring some sides as well?

      1. Loopy*

        I’m glad I’m not the only person who looks at serving sizes and does a double take! Sometimes I’m like, crap, I must eat a lot…

      2. EmmaLou*

        It’s also how some “light” recipes get the calorie counts they do. “This cheesecake is only 90 calories a slice!” (Serves 45.)

    9. Loopy*

      Thanks everyone! I probably should have explained it’s not going to be a traditional sit down meal where we all eat at the same time and that’s also making me nervous in how to plan.

      My boyfriend is working 9 AM-~9 PM at a high end restaurant doing Thanksgiving dinner. I feel so bad that he’ll have to watch others eating with their family all day I wanted him to have a really REALLY good dinner to come home to (especially since he’ll be sitting down to eat after a super long hard day of running around craziness).

      His mother who runs a kennel will be working all morning, coming to eat, then rushing back to work. So I feel bad for her having to bust her butt on Thanksgiving too!

      I definitely probably over-thought it :) But also, there is less pressure to have everything timed perfectly, and plated perfectly, etc. So I guess I latched on to the one think I could be anxious about!

      I planned to double most recipes, some because I KNOW I’ll eat a huge amount of them (I’m vegetarian so I will eat more mashed potatoes and no turkey) and some because I could tell the serving size is on the small side (for a roasted carrots recipe).

  26. Ghost Pepper*

    Costco membership or Amazon Prime?

    Which saves you more money? Please share/detail your experiences.

    We’re a family of 4 – one little girl and one baby boy. Perhaps Costco makes sense once the kids get older.

    1. Mt*

      Amazon prime only saves you money if you have to have 2 day shipping or have orders less than $49. Costco only saves you money if you buy in bulk and use it all up. Meat quality at costco is great. Neither one will really save you money

    2. Anono-me*

      I love Costco, but with little ones you may find the time savings of Amazon Prime to be the biggest advantage.

    3. FD*

      It really depends.

      Costco, in our area, is about $60/year.

      Where it’s a good deal is on things that you can buy in bulk and last forever. For example, they offer the best deals on dishwasher tablets, paper towel, toilet paper. These are all things we have to buy no matter what. Those three items save about $150 per year, which indicates a rough savings of $90, even if we never buy anything else.

      You can do much better if you have storage and can buy more food in bulk. I buy bulk flour for baking, and stock up on four loaves of bread at a time, which can be frozen, but I can’t do much beyond that because of limitations in space. My family use Sam’s Club, and they do better in savings because they have a total of three freezers. They buy meat in bulk, vacuum seal, and freeze it. (I have four siblings still at home, and most are teenagers, so they do eat a lot!)

      In addition, our Costco has a gas station, and gas is usually about $0.02 off the other prices in town. I usually get a better deal through Hy-Vee’s fuel saver program, but if you don’t have that option, that can save money too.

      Amazon Prime, in my opinion, is best as an entertainment option. I buy most of my books and electronics through Amazon Prime, and I do make up the $100 price tag in free shipping. In general, the items I buy are cheaper with base price+free shipping than they are with a third party seller.

      That being said, I rarely buy anything essential from Amazon, and I could live without it. It’s a nice treat, and I occasionally enjoy watching something on Prime Video, but for the most part, it’s a pleasant luxury rather than something that saves me money.

      1. Liz in a Library*

        Wow! Our Costco gas is often as much as $.20 below the competition. I assumed it was the same-ish everywhere.

      1. Cass*

        I just joined a Sam’a club today! Prices for paper towels, toilet paper were better. Meat was about the same as Walmart, but I’d assume it’s better quality. (Sitting down to a ribeye now!)

        1. HoVertical*

          I’ve found the quality of meat at Sam’s to be as good as my local butcher, and much less expensive overall.

      2. Pennalynn Lott*

        I have both close by and Costco is better in terms of quality of meat, produce, and frozen/prepared foods. Sam’s has a limited selection of canned / boxed food, usually just cr*p from the big food manufacturers (Kraft, ConAgra, Tyson).

        But if you’re just looking for the cheapest option on staples like toilet paper, paper towels, dish soap, toothpaste, etc., then Sam’s is fine.

      3. EW*

        Sam’s is no Costco, but we got tired of doing a monthly trek out to Costco. Costco will give you all of your membership fee back if you end up not liking the drive. We just did that in August. Sam’s gets us what we need, but if the drive was only 45 minutes I would probably still be going to Costco.

        Paying extra for the upgraded Sam’s membership is worth it if you want to avoid crowds. Ours let’s you in at 7am every day but Sunday. It’s so much nicer to go early. Otherwise it makes me want to rip my hair out.

    4. periwinkle*

      I wouldn’t say neither option saves money – we’re members of both – but saving money depends on what you tend to buy.

      If you like to do batch cooking or pre-prep ingredients, Costco’s meat and produce sections are your friends. If you entertain a lot, Costco is awesome. Birthday celebrations at work are always better when there’s a Costco sheet cake involved. The problem at Costco is quantity; you need to be able to consume the food in a reasonable amount of time or have enough storage space for whatever else. The prices aren’t necessarily better than supermarket/Target.

      Amazon Prime is all about convenience. If I need something soon but not immediately, I’m likely to order it via Amazon; since I have Prime, I don’t hesitate to place small orders. As a full-time employee and grad student, I don’t have time to run all over the place to pick up various things, so I appreciate being able to order what I need without worrying about shipping. The price is usually equal or less than local retail, and because of the flat annual fee, I don’t have to wait until I have $X worth of stuff to buy. For us, Amazon Prime saves more money.

    5. EmmaLou*

      If you need prescriptions, Costco is amazingly good on price. Costco is good on things like wool socks, laundry detergent if you don’t need a very specific kind. For most canned goods we find our grocery store is cheaper, but a big bottle of real vanilla is around $9. (16 oz. bottle) It’s currently $25 on Amazon (usually it’s more like $15).

    6. Belle*

      We have both. Here are some of the biggest pros for our family of two:

      Costco:
      -We save usually 40+ cents per gallon on gas. This averages out to about 4 dollars a week which pays for our membership. Everything else is a bonus for us.
      -We eat a lot of organic produce. It is cheapest at Costco vs our regular grocery store
      -Baking supplies are usually pretty cheap (butter, milk, flour, spices, etc).
      -Eyeglasses are also very reasonable and our insurance was accepted. This made it so we could get new frames and lenses for less than $50 each
      -Alcohol – if you buy any alcohol, it is very cheap through Costco. We get nice bottles of wine for about 50% less than the big stores. Here in Kentucky, we also get beer, bourbon, whiskey, etc in our store at great prices.

      Amazon:
      -Free movies to stream. We do not have cable and this is our main entertainment
      -Free 2 day shopping plus monthly subscribe and save options. We get razor blades, toilet paper, paper towels, etc for cheap this way
      -Easy to send Christmas gifts for no shipping cost to family throughout the country
      -Free book every month to borrow

    7. Dan*

      When I was married, my wife and I had a Costco membership for a year. I never understood the attraction.

      For me:

      1) Costco isn’t convenient. It’s not “far” from me distance-wise, but it is out of the way. When I go on Saturday, the place is PACKED.

      2) You have to drag around this HUGE cart. Bigger than what’s at a normal grocery store. I don’t need to buy that much stuff.

      3) You have to buy too much stuff. Whatever you buy, you generally buy a lot of. They also don’t package it well, so it’s not convenient to drag into the house.

      4) No matter how cheap things are on a per unit basis, I would always spend a lot of money (well over $200).

      I let my membership lapse and don’t miss it. It’s just easier for me to buy smaller quantities of what I need when I need it.

      1. Nina*

        Pretty much this. For me, the best thing about CostCo is the low priced gasoline. But I hate shopping there, and it’s always busy, no matter what time I go. I live in an apartment, so buying in bulk isn’t the best option because there’s just not enough space for several boxes of oatmeal, or 30 bags of fruit snacks. The only stuff I prefer to get from there are paper goods, fish (their salmon is worth it) and some small food items (coffee, nuts, snacks) but I could never do the whole of my grocery shopping there. And I hate those ginormous boxes. No, thank you.

      2. Natalie*

        They don’t have consistent stock, either, unless it’s Kirkland. We got a really good deal on Caribou coffee beans one trip, never saw them again.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          I *hate* that. It’s like they buy failed products or things that fell off the back of a truck/were damaged in transport. I bought dishwasher detergent there once and after a while, it lost its gel, became like water. I thought it was my fault somehow (maybe I didn’t use it fast enough?). Bought another one, same thing happened. So I e-mailed the company and they requested a lot number. Turned out that lot number had frozen during transport, they gave me a bunch of coupons, so it worked out for me.

          The best time to go to Costco is about a half hour before it closes or 6pm (at least in my area). I’m pretty sure my Costco membership pays for itself with what I save on cat food.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Thanks for saying this. I have had the same experience with BJ’s. It costs me a couple hundred to get out of the store, I can’t find the same item when I go back later and when I get home the super huge package does not fit in the cupboard.

        I don’t know if Costco does this, but BJs offers free trial memberships from time to time. I do take advantage of those and I have picked up a few things that I could not find anywhere else.
        I tend to give a side-eye to these places that charge membership fees. I grew up in an era where you did not pay someone to allow you to shop in their store. Even when I scold myself for using old thinking, I still have a hard time paying someone to shop in their store.

    8. brightstar*

      I have both, but I go to Costco about once a week. I live with my boyfriend, and buy meat and vegetables there. I went this morning and purchased about half the ingredients for Thanksgiving for about $50 and that included a 4 lb leg of lamb for $20. The Costco here also has a gas station that’s a little cheaper. I’ve found the prices on fresh vegetables make it worth it, along with the prices on alcohol.

    9. Natalie*

      We had Costco for about a year but dropped it. It was really inconvenient to us, so we couldn’t take advantage of the gas prices, and half the time I found a really good deal they wouldn’t carry that product the next time. Some things are really well priced, but typically we either didn’t have enough space to store a lot of that item or didn’t want the brand or variety they had.

      For household consumables, you might check out Amazon’s Subscribe and Save. It’s not as locked in as it sounds – you pick how often you get each item and you can always cancel or postpone a particular item at any time. And there are coupons all the time plus 15% off if you’re getting five things in your delivery.

    10. Cristina in England*

      Does Amazon Prime also come with Amazon Family where you live? This basically just means you get 20% off diapers, which can offset the cost of the membership completely, depending on how much you buy.

      I would pick your favourite brand of diapers and then see how much they are at Costco vs. Amazon. If you aren’t doing disposable diapers, then maybe look into the Amazon streaming-only service, if you want the movies and music. Again, if it is available where you live.

      I have found that the free next day delivery on Amazon Prime is fantastic, and I don’t want to give that up, especially if I have run out of wipes unexpectedly (it sometimes happens even though I have them on my Subscribe and Save list). OTOH, if you subscribe five or more items on Amazon you can save 15% so you just need to see if they have what you normally buy.

      Costco… I love it but the membership doesn’t save me money so I cancelled it.

    11. Temperance*

      I do both, honestly. I do Prime for the convenience, and Costco for the money savings. Prime also has prime video and the kindle library.

      Booth and I both have “big jobs”, so we don’t have a partner who is primarily responsible for home stuff. Prime is a lifesaver.

    12. .*

      What do you want to buy? I have both, but I use them for different items.

      We use Prime for odds and ends not available locally, but mostly for the video and music services. As we don’t have other TV service, Prime + Netflix works well for us. It’s also good for must-have specific items because Amazon has everything.

      Since we eat tons of produce and don’t live where grocery delivery is a thing, we use Costco for groceries. When the kid was in diapers, we used Costco brand, and the TP and liquor prices are unbeatable. Also, kids love the food court and there’s free samples in the warehouse. However, as a warehouse, not everything is available all the time. If you want what they have, Costco is great.

    13. JoniKat*

      My boyfriend pays for a Costco membership for his mom and has access to the stores through it, and I have Amazon Prime, so I can go to Costco with him and since we live together Amazon has let him be a part of my Prime family plan. I would probably not get a Costco membership if it was just me due to the hassle of going there in our area (always packed even early weekday mornings, too difficult to lug anything around).

      It’s great though when we’re buying paper goods and frozen foods/foods that stay good for long periods of time. We spend a ton of money there but only go about 3 or 4 times a year, and the overall savings make it worth it for the two of us. For a family of four I can see it being quite advantageous, especially if you and your partner go together.

      With Amazon Prime, you really don’t save much money unless you place a lot of orders that you need just in time. However, the convenience, free music and movie streaming, and free monthly book make it worth it for me. I use all of those services regularly and enjoy them immensely. As mentioned before, it changed the way I shop for holidays and has really helped my mental health due to how stressful going to store after store was to me..

    14. chickabiddy*

      Both save me money in different ways. For Costco, I have a second freezer in the utility room so I buy meat in bulk and freeze it in meal-size portions. Not only is their meat inexpensive but it is excellent quality. If you use disposable diapers theirs are cheap and good. OTC meds and vitamins are also good buys; also, I have one prescription that my insurance won’t cover and it is $600 at Walgreens and $37 at their pharmacy. I bought a lot of kids clothes there — the selection is not huge but what they have is very nice and very well-priced.

      The prices on Amazon Prime do not actually save me much money, but I live in a rural area and work mostly at home. Having stuff delivered saves quite a bit of time and a bit of money on gas the like.

    15. DragoCucina*

      We eat A LOT of cheese. Costco is a big saver in that area. I can get Pecorino Romano for half the price as the local grocery store. Nuts are also a good buy. Okay, what goes with cheese and nuts? Wine! They have a good selection.

    16. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      I’ll chime in as a Costco fan who lives almost 200km from the nearest one.

      We go monthly or every six weeks or so (longer in the winter as it’s weather dependent). We live in a rural area, and local prices on things like meat and staples can be high, so it’s worth it for us to buy meat in bulk, pack it, and freeze it in our chest freezer. We buy almost all of our household staples there–bath tissue, Kleenex, paper towels, laundry detergent, dishwasher soap, you name it. Our cats get their food and litter there (well, we buy it for them, we don’t send them out on their own shopping trips), we get bread and butter and bacon to freeze, we get all kinds of stuff. Because it’s far away we usually tie it together with the other city shopping we need to do, but it really does save us a bunch of money. Otherwise we’d be stuck paying high local prices, especially for meat, and we also like to take advantage of cheap gas when we’re traveling in an area with Costco. And prescriptions. And glasses. And good prices on holiday stuff–Halloween candy, Christmas cards and wrapping paper, that kind of thing. We really like almost all of the Kirkland brand stuff we’ve used and they consistently get excellent ratings on Consumers Reports, so that is a point in their favour. Oh, and tires! We’ve gotten a few sets of new tires in the family from Costco–good prices on quality tires and good service with a money-back guarantee.

      So we’re big Costco fans, and we’re those people everyone hates who come in on Saturdays to buy a month’s worth of food.

        1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

          If you know a way to get them motivated and mobile enough to do so, PLEASE teach me your ways. These ungrateful louts lay around the house all day and never so much as lift a finger to get their 50-lb boxes of litter into the house!

          1. neverjaunty*

            I wish. Yesterday I was visiting friends with a dog and they asked me to send the dog outside to the patio. I opened the door and said “outside” and the dog went. BLEW MY MIND. There are pets who take orders?!

    17. Wildflower*

      I live in a city and I LOVE Prime Now. I can order something and have it two hours later. It gets me in trouble with books though! But for one of those days when my fiancé has the car and he’ll be at work all day but we’re out of toilet paper and cat food, it’s a lifesaver. My family lives in a really rural area and my mom is always amazed when I tell her that Amazon will drive me whatever I need within a couple hours.

    18. Chaordic One*

      Costco and Amazon Prime are really pretty different. Costco is good for things that you buy in bulk and some groceries. Just make sure you have storage room for those things, and probably a freezer. I have had my eyes examined there and purchased new prescription glasses from Costco with excellent results. Finally, I got a really good deal on Michelin radial tires there. (Of course, I probably don’t drive that much and have more than one car, so I probably only buy a set of new tires every four years or so) Sam’s Club is very similar to Costco, but it just doesn’t seem quite as good to me, so I prefer Costco.

      Amazon Prime is pretty different. It’s good for books, entertainment, some toys, small appliances and some clothing items. Amazon Prime is more of a luxury thing for me, and I could probably get by fine without it.

      1. OhBehave*

        OP may be talking about Amazon Pantry. It’s becoming a very popular service. You can also set certain items to ship automatically depending upon how often you want to replenish your stuff. I have a few friends who are starting to use them exclusively.

    19. Searching*

      Savings on gasoline, glasses, tires, and OTC meds/vitamins alone make the Costco membership worth it, BUT: I really have to watch the impulse buys when I go there because they can easily offset the savings.

      I love the convenience of Amazon Prime and the oddball show I occasionally watch, BUT: I feel guilty because small businesses have such a hard time competing with the Amazon behemoth. I try to make a point of buying some of my books at my local indie bookstore (as an example) even though I could get them for so much less at Amazon.

  27. ljs_lj*

    Recommendations on how to find a place to get a piercing?

    I never got my ears pierced as a kid/teenager because I wasn’t allowed to, and for various reasons now I’m in my 30s and still haven’t done it. But I want to. So where do I go? I asked the last time I was at my doctor’s office and the nurse said, “I just went to Claire’s at the mall…” which sounds terrible. So how do I do this? Or does anyone have recommendations for a place in the Portland, OR, area?

    1. periwinkle*

      Honestly, you could just go to Claire’s at the mall. I had mine done at a similar place about 35 years ago, no problems. However… the best place to have it done might be a piercing studio. They’ll do “standard” ear piercings as well as tongue, eyebrow, etc. They’ll also work at a higher level of professionalism and sanitation than some teenager at the mall.

      I imagine that Portland has no shortage of piercing studios. :)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Ditto from me. I went to a random jewelry store on Cape Cod about 25 years ago. The only concern was infection if I did not keep the holes clean. The woman doing the piercing did not like the fact I did not live close by. And she was not thrilled about doing a double piercing. It went fine.

        I did get a little infection, so I used hydrogen peroxide and then some topical antibiotic. It cleared up and I have been fine since then.
        The piercing itself was just a moment. I so enjoy having pierced ears. Like you I was not allowed to while growing up.

    2. NM anon*

      Do yourself a favor and do not get your piercings done with a gun! They’re unsanitary, not done by professionals, can get stuck and just don’t. Go to a clean, reputable body piercing shop and have it done there.

    3. Clever Name*

      I’d find a tattoo/piercing shop. I got my eyebrow pierced at one probably 20 years ago, and I’ve since stopped wearing it. However, there is absolutely no scar at all. It was pretty painless, and the place was as clean as a dr office.

    4. copy run start*

      Go to a piercing place. I had my ears pierced once at a “Claire’s” type place as a kid, and one side almost ripped through the bottom of my ear. My ears are crooked but the piercings were in line with each other, which made it all look sooo much worse. Plus: raging infection.

      When I had them redone, I did go to Claire’s, but my friend was working there during college and she actually knew what she was doing and adjusted the piercings around my crooked ears. Unless you know someone competent at a Claire’s/Icings type place, do not go there.

    5. Kittens*

      Just say no to Claire’s and piercing guns! Go to a reputable body piercer (yelp helps). The absolute worst piercings I’ve ever had (I have many) came from Claire’s. Their people are poorly trained and rarely know any best practices for piercing, meaning you’re much more likely to get an infection, have it pierced at an odd angle, etc.

    6. Natalie*

      Yeah, don’t go to a place in the mall. Go to a proper body piercer who will use a hollow needle rather than a gun. Piercing guns are more painful, cause more scarring, and put you at higher risk of infection.

      For ear piercing you don’t need to spend too much time looking for them best piercer in your area, just perusenthe body piercers on yelp and pick someone near you.

    7. Melody Pond*

      I’m echoing all the other sentiments saying don’t go to Claire’s/the mall.

      Yay, another Portlander! I don’t think the shop where I got my navel pierced 10+ years ago is still around, but I second the suggestions to check out yelp for good reviews. Someone told me years ago that Oregon has way more regulations/standards in place for piercing shops than Washington, so it’s generally a safer bet to go pretty much anywhere in Oregon, but anywhere close-in in the city of Portland in particular is also probably good. But I’d still check out Yelp just to be safe.

      A quick search on Yelp says that Black Hole Body Piercing in NE Portland is very highly rated, with 128 reviews.

    8. Pinkladiesroll*

      Tattoo parlors. Why? Because they are inspected by health dept., and they don’t use the “punch” piercing guns that the untrained hs sophomore at the mall uses, they use less pain causing method.

      More hygienic, better gained, more experience.

    9. Red*

      DO NOT go to the mall, unless it’s for a nice top to wear with your new earrings. Piercing/tattoo shops are the way to go. I don’t know any where you are, but I found mine by asking someone on the street who had some really nice piercings. You can also check out reviews online, if you wish. It’s a lot like finding a hairstylist, in some ways.

    10. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Oh my gosh, don’t get it done with a gun at the mall. I have two sets of holes in my ears–one done by a bored teenager probably killing time between smoke breaks at Claire’s, which are uneven and never quite healed properly–and one done by an actual piercer, who did it properly with a needle and ensured that they match even though my lower holes don’t, and healed in a snap with no weird bumps.

    11. blackcat*

      I have two sets of piercings (all in the lobe, so simple) done at mall-like places that came out just fine (the folks lined them up fine). But of the 4holes, 2 got infected… everything healed eventually, but it was a pain. I have another set of piercings, also in the lobe, done by a friend in college. She was the bomb, things came out great (no infections, well lined up) but WTF WAS I THINKING?!?! Do not go this route.

      I highly recommend going to a reputable tattoo parlor. Almost all do piercings as well. Portland has to have a zillion reasonable tattoo parlors, so I’d check out web recommendations.

    12. matcha123*

      I got my ears pierced at a mall, but not Claire’s. It was a proper jewelry store. As in their target were adults and not eight-year olds. See if there’s a place like that near you. And since some people mentioned crooked holes, bring a friend to mark the holes for you or at least check to see that they look aligned before they pierce them.

    13. The IT Manager*

      “Claire’s at the mall” is my answer for normal ear piercings.

      I had it done (which store I don’t recall) when I was 5 and had a second set added when I was in my early 20s. No problems.

  28. KarenT*

    This is totally an embarrassing question, but has anyone had a professional photo taken for a dating profile? I’m online dating, and I’ve realized my pics are all really old or I look terrible (I just seem to be unphotogenic). But at the same time a posed photo seems weird. Any ideas?

    1. self employed*

      I think a professional shot would seem off. Can you go with a friend to a park or somewhere, and have her help you take a good shot? Choose someone who you feel relaxed around and you should get a good one!

    2. Lily Evans*

      Do you have a friend you could trust to take some “candid” pictures of you? It’s kind of an awkward thing to ask, but a good friend probably wouldn’t mind at all if you’re out together and you told them you’re trying to get better pictures for online profiles. It’s also much cheaper than hiring a professional! But there are professionals now who work with people who want pictures for instagram and stuff that don’t look super posed.

    3. Dan*

      I think we’re all our own worst critics. When I look at profile pics, I want to see the “normal you.” (As in, if you never wear makeup, don’t do yourself up for the photos. I suppose then if you always wear makeup, then you should wear it in your photos.) In some senses, unless you’re taking candids, all shots of yourself would be “posed”. “Normal” posing is actually preferable, I’ve never been a huge fan of candids in profile pics.

      Have you asked guy friends of yours about your profile pics?

    4. Come On Eileen*

      I haven’t, but I was chatting with a friend a few months ago who did this, and it’s worked out great for him. He got the professional photos of him and his daughter for multiple purposes – some to give to his family as gifts, others to use as a head shot on LinkedIn, and then he also uses them on his eHarmony profile. In a small world incident, I’m also on eHarmony and he and I were matched so I got to see the photos and they were great — they definitely set him apart from 90% of the guys on there. So yes, I’d recommend it. I’d like to do the same, but haven’t taken that leap yet.

      1. Dan*

        The thing is, for a hetero woman on a dating site, I don’t think the expense of a professional photographer is necessary. And depending on how “done-up” a photographer is going to make the subject, I’d almost call it misleading.

        For a hetero woman to have decent pictures on a mainstream dating site, she needs just a few basic things:

        1) Straight on head shot with the amount of make up she “normally” wears. (All I mean with that the make-up bit is that if you never wear it, or will not wear it on a first date, don’t do it for your profile shot. If you always wear it, don’t do a head shot with nothing on.) I don’t give two shits about make-up, but I do care that the pictures you present on the site clearly represent who you are on a first date.

        2) Full body shot where you are clearly identified. You with friends? If you have to do that, then clearly note “I’m the one in the middle” or something. Preferably, you have a photo with you alone. Don’t submit a group photo if you’re the only woman in there. When a bunch of guys are in there, it makes us wonder what’s going on. Ex-BF? (Or BF who you haven’t gotten over?) Even if it’s your brother, why don’t you have a decent photo of you alone?

        3) Selfies and mirror shots are a no-no. They never come out flattering.

        The above points (I swear it’s not that much) will set a hetero woman apart from 90% of the profiles out there.

        1. Lily Evans*

          I think that a selfie done well can be flattering. I think that having one selfie that’s a nice clear face shot if none of your other pictures are close ups is good, it’s just weird when someone’s entire profile is filled with them. But I agree 100% that mirror shots should be a no go since it’s not 2006 anymore.

          The best way to take a good selfie is to first find flattering, preferably natural, lighting. Then hold your phone as far from your face as you can without looking strained and keep it at an angle slightly above you. Next, make tiny alterations of the camera angle, your face angle, and how the light is hitting you (I’ll literally pivot in a slow circle until I find the best light). Last, if you have trouble taking the picture without shaking the phone, you can set a timer to make it easier. A good selfie is definitely a science.

    5. BuildMeUp*

      I think if you go the professional photographer route, try to find someone who will do an outdoor shoot (or at least something other than a traditional studio). A photo of you smiling outside in a park would seem a lot more natural than a posed studio portrait.

      I do second the thought of having a friend do it – really all you need is someone who can tell you to tilt your head, lift your chin, etc. to get the best light and angle.

    6. INTP*

      Based on the stories I hear from my friends that do online dating, I wouldn’t seek out super flattering photos to post, let alone professionally done photos. It’s the intuitive thing to do, we all put our most flattering pictures on Facebook and Instagram and everywhere else, but a lot of men get really weird about being “misled” if you are a tiny bit less attractive than they imagined. I’d go with having friends take photos of you in a setting where it isn’t odd to have a picture taken (party with decent lighting, outside at a park), and throw in some of the less flattering candids to avoid the weirdos.

    7. Mephyle*

      I agree with what the others say. It‘s hard, but it would be better to use somewhat unflattering (but current and honest) photos. There are two related factors at work here. You want to weed out the contacts for whom looks are a dealbreaker, and you don’t want them to be disappointed when they meet you.

    8. Rachel Greene*

      I have a friend who had professional photos of her and her child taken, and she ended up having the photographer taking a couple of solo photos too that she is using in her online dating profiles. I personally think the photos give an accurate representation of her, which is important in a profile. She hasnt had a lot of luck with online dating but its not because of her photos.

    9. Hrovitnir*

      Yeah, I agree with the general sentiment of “I wouldn’t” (and going somewhere with nice natural light/backdrop and a friend trying to catch you actually relaxed is a good idea for flattering), with the caveat that if it would make you feel good I don’t actually see a problem with having it as *one* of your photos.

      I would add that if you’re game, I would go as far as actively including an unflattering picture. (a) It’s almost certainly not as unattractive to others as it is to you, (b) it gives a more rounded idea of you as a person rather than a pretty picture, and (c) I like the idea of weeding out people who are put off by that.

      Said with the caveat that I’ve been in a monogamous relationship most of my adult life so this is all theoretical, but that’s how I would approach it. I do make sure to include unflattering photos of myself on Facebook for the “more rounded person” aspect. :D

    10. ginger ale for all*

      When I set up my profile, I first looked at other women my age to see what the standard would be. I then got a friend to take a few photos of me while I was on break at work. I did a photo of my face and two full body shots at different angles. I then also listed myself as bbw even though women my size and larger were listing themselves as a few extra pounds. I am size 14/16, depending on the brand. I am glad I did that because there are a lot of anti-bbw statements in about almost half of the men’s profiles that I read and I thought it would be better to be more upfront about the extra weight. Also, on plenty of fish, they list it as bbw/tall and I am definitely tall. Someone on here said months ago to under promise and over deliver in dating profiles and I thought it was wise advise. Another thing I would advise to anyone making a profile is to take off your sunglasses in at least one shot. And if someone could explain the trend of men taking pictures of themselves behind the wheel, I would appreciate it. I just automatically assume in my part of the country that you can drive unless you say otherwise. There is no need to supply photographic proof. Lastly, people can google search your photos, so have some that are just for the dating profile unless you are okay with strangers finding out who you are.

  29. AnotherAnony*

    I’ve been getting really bad sinus headaches. There is pain in the corner of my eye, near my eyebrow or near the sides of my nose. I take sinus medication and sometimes Motrin for the pain. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn’t. Does anyone else have this problem? What do you do?

    1. fposte*

      Yup. Things that help: Afrin (can’t take it more than three days, but it can stave off a sinus closing up), NSAIDs to keep the swelling down (so I’d take the ibuprofen earlier and not wait until the pain gets bad), neti pot, and a microwaveable eye mask. (Found that out when using it for dry eyes and discovered it decongested me.)

    2. nep*

      I’ve heard that oil pulling with coconut oil can ease sinus problems. Curious — has anyone tried this? I haven’t got any sinus issues so I can’t vouch for it — just curious.

      1. Nina*

        I tried oil pulling years ago (with sunflower oil) and noticed no difference at all. But I was trying it for whiter teeth at the time, so I can’t say if it helped my sinuses. Considering how many sinus infections I’ve gotten, that would have been nice to know.

    3. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

      I have awful sinuses and have had sinus surgery twice. Have you been taking the Sudafed you get at the pharmacy, behind the counter? I think that helps much more than the other version. I usually have it with Mucinex and lots of hot water. I use a hot water bottle, too.

    4. Lore*

      If there’s any chance yours are triggered by allergy (mine are), I find antihistamines work better than sinus decongestants. (YMMV, though. I don’t respond well to pseudephedrine.) I’ve also found the frequency decreasing since I’ve been taking Flonase.

      But my other essential remedy is hot compresses–washcloth soaked in the hottest tap water you can comfortably use, held up against your facial and forehead sinuses (and for me also right in front of my ears because I have ear issues connected to sinus ones. I can almost feel the compression loosening.

    5. brightstar*

      I get these a lot. I usually take Benadryl at night and pseudophedrine during the day. Aleve for the pain. Neti pots help. If it’s really bad (mine turn into migraines sometimes), I’ll do all this and go eat pho. For some reason that will get my sinuses draining like nothing else. My head will feel pounds lighter and people hear the difference in my voice.

    6. Clever Name*

      Yes. I’m currently on Flonase and I’ll take another antihistamine on bad allergy days. Plus I use a neti pot. It’s really helped. Plus ibuprofen or naproxen for the pain.

    7. Jessesgirl72*

      I always take Advil cold and sinus or a combo of Advil (not always- or usually- name brand) and something with pseudoephedrine for bad sinus days. The stuff without pseudoephedrine that you don’t have to sign for in the US only works for me on light sinus days- or I use it at night so I’m not awake all night.

      My husband has had some luck with a Neti pot.

    8. Observer*

      Make sure that you don’t have any infections going on. Also, your teeth – I find that when my teeth are bothering me, my sinuses are more likely to act up.

      When I’m having a run of these headaches, I find that a cup of tea from Thyme (steep a teaspoonful in boiling water fro 3 minutes) twice a day to be helpful. If I get one coming on, if I catch it early, and cup of the tea is often helpful as well. And, if I don’t catch it early, I find that steaming myself with it works very well. Put a 1/2 – 1 oz of the tea and pour boiling water over it. Cover the bowl and your heat with a towel and breath the steam in. It works very well.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I love, love, love willow bark for sinus pain/swelling.

      It’s the natural equvilant to aspirin. But it works, each time every time. It gets rid of my sinus headaches, too.

      I also use it for injuries with lots of swelling along with an ice pack. I gave some to a friend who broke her toe, she said the swelling went down in 24 hours.

      So you can get lots of use out of this product.
      You can find it in some grocery stores but mostly in health food stores.

      There is a regular strength and an extra strength. Don’t waste your money on the extra strength it is about twice the cost of the regular strength and I have never seen too much difference in them.

      Note- you will probably notice it draining. Spit when possible, gargle with salt water to speed things along.

    10. AvonLady Barksdale*

      This is so timely for me! I stopped buying Allegra when I became unemployed (stoooopid), and I’ve had a headache every day since Wednesday. It sucks. Taking some of the advice in this thread– and adding Allegra to my grocery list for tomorrow.

    11. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I was the QUEEN of the sinus headache/infection when I lived in the high desert. Horrible headaches nothing would touch, infections multiple times a year, a lot of pressure when a storm would come in over the mountains. I was miserable for years from the dust, dry, and barometric pressure changes.

      Then one day a roommate suggested I do what one of his diving friends did to unblock his ears after diving, which was to inhale, through my nose, a bunch of salt water. So I stuck my face in a bowl of warmish salt water next to the sink, and inhaled and spat it out (sorry for graphics!) Did that about five times. Blew my nose after and a whole bunch of junk came out, but damn if I wasn’t feeling a ton better!

      This rather primitive form of sinus irrigation did the trick though – I havent had another sinus infection in 15 years, even during allergy season. I usually irrigate when I’m feeling “sinusy” – clogged up and groggy. Its essentially the same thing as a neti pot. It helps get some warm moist into the tissues to make everything flow better. Things like Afrin and other drugs can dry it up so you can breathe, but can also exacerbate the problem.

      These days I use a Neil Med sinus washer – you can get them at Walgreens/Target. Its a little squeeze bottle with properly portioned sodium wash you empty in to the bottle. Put it against one nostril and squeeze, letting the water drain from the other. You must block the back of your throat with your tongue obviously too. Its less mess and more effective than a Neti Pot, and way more convenient than my other system!

    12. the gold digger*

      Years ago, my doctor told me there is no such thing as sinus headaches and that I was getting migraines. Which, for me, anyhow, explained why Sineaid, which I bought by the gross, never worked and why Imitrex did.

      Is it possible you are getting migraines? If so, the painkillers that work for me and my friends who have migraines are available only by prescription in the US.

      BTW, “migraine” does not necessarily mean debilitating headache. I have friends who get that kind, but mine feel more like sinus headaches or like an icepick going through my eye. They are painful and uncomfortable, but not debilitating. I can still function, but I get really cranky.

      1. CMT*

        I’ve recently begun thinking that the headaches I always thought were sinus headaches are actually migraines. I should probably go see a doctor. Did you have other classic migraine symptoms like auras or sensitivity to light? I don’t think I get those symptoms. What kind of things can they prescribe for migraines and do they help?

        1. the gold digger*

          I am sure there are people who get sinus headaches, but I apparently are not one of them. I have never gotten the aura or sensitivity to light. I just get the headache. That’s why I didn’t believe my doctor when he said it was migraine.

          The only painkillers that work for me are imitrex and relpax, but some people find that just a sugared coke and two aspirin work. (The caffeine helps.)

          I have tried the anti-seizure drugs (migraine appears to be related to epilepsy) – depakote, Lyrica – but they didn’t work for me to prevent migraine. (All they did was make me gain weight and make my hair fall out.) Nor did topamax. I have a friend who gets botox shots every six weeks. She does not get such frequent headaches but when she does get them, they are more painful.

          My triggers are glare (like sun reflecting off the highway or fluorescent lights), low blood sugar, dehydration, and lack of sleep, so I try to avoid all of those. Changes in barometric pressure also bother me, but I can’t do anything about that.

          It might be worthwhile to ask your doctor for a sample of imitrex or relpax. (They are pretty expensive – but if setting a $20 bill on fire would stop a headache, I would do it.)

          Good luck. I know how miserable this can be. It’s been a 35 year journey for me. :(

  30. Anonyby*

    Can some of the wonderful cooks on here help me figure out how I want to handle stuffing/dressing for Thanksgiving?

    Two of the items I volunteered for (fruit salad & peas) aren’t going to take much time & effort, so I volunteered to take over the dressing as well. Only problem is that I’ve never done anything other than from the box, and want to make it from scratch!

    Other considerations– It needs to be vegetarian and corn-free, and my plan is to cook it in my 5 qt crockpot. I’ve seen interesting recipes for dressing, but all the slowcooker ones call for a 6.5-7qt cooker, which I just don’t have. (In fact, both slowcookers I own are 5qt.)

    The one from Kitchn looked particularly simple, but again, it called for a 7qt cooker.

    1. periwinkle*

      Take the recipe for the 7qt cooker and reduce it by a third. Stuffing isn’t an exact science so you don’t need to get it down to the exact gram.

      Better yet, make the whole recipe, put about 2/3 in the slow cooker, and put the rest in a muffin tin (bake at 350 for about a half hour). Stuffing muffins are awesome for those who crave the crispy bits (me!) and freeze really well if you have extras.

      1. Anonyby*

        Baking it in a muffin tin sounds like a good idea. Could I then leave them out at room temp, or would it be better to stick them in the fridge until dinner?

        And I’m not familiar with this crispy bit craving you speak of! Though to be fair, growing up my family actually stuffed it in the bird, which leads to sog city. Not an option with the current group I’m having dinner with, as only the bird and the turkey gravy are allowed to have meat. :) I’m actually not sure if any of this group like crispy dressing.

    2. printrovert*

      I found a mushroom and leek recipe online a few years ago (link below) that I love. It calls for apples, but I omit those. You can reduce the broth per the Kitchn’s instructions or just cook the dish a little longer if you decide not to add eggs. I have only tried this with homemade cornbread, but I’m sure whatever bread you want to use will work, too.

    3. Ann Furthermore*

      I buy the Pepperidge Farm stuffing at the store, and follow the directions on the bag, with a couple of modifications. It calls for one cup each of chopped celery and onions. I do that, but chop both very fine in the food processor, and then drain out all the excess water that I can. And I only use a cup and a half of broth, to start with, and if it seems dry, then I add more. Too much liquid makes it too gooey. You can always add more liquid, but you can’t remove it.

  31. Soupspoon McGee*

    Oh F*$^ my foot! My foot just starting hurting out of nowhere, then I stepped on laundry and felt a pop that made it a billion times worse. I have a podiatry appointment next week, but so far the x-ray (before the pop) and ultrasound don’t show anything definitive. I want this to go away!

      1. Jean*

        Cake is definitely good in a crisis. Because *icing*. Even better are cupcakes, because *icing + cuteness.*
        (Sigh. Now I want cake. First world problems!)

        Soupspoon, may your foot feel better soon.

    1. Mimmy*

      Not to scare you or anything, but have your bone density been tested? That sounds like something that happened to an older friend of mine who just had surgery for a broken foot. She has osteopenia and was recently walking when she felt something pop. I think this might be her second or third time too :(

      Good luck with your appointment!

      1. Mimmy*

        Whoops, sorry if this sounds like I’m diagnosing your foot problems :( (sorry if I broke the rules Alison!)

        I will add that if your podiatry appointment isn’t, say, Monday or Tuesday, I would suggest maybe getting your foot checked out again just to be on the safe side.

        Feel better!

    2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      You may want to make sure its not back related too. I wasn’t aware how much foot pain can be generated by something in the back. If the podiatrist visit doesnt yield anything substantial, you may want to check in with a chiro or other back-type doctor.

    3. Pinkladiesroll*

      Lisfranc injury need ice, stay off it until doc can diagnose. Ace bandage might help keep it immobilized

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I had a lisfranc break a five years ago — this doesn’t sound like a lisfranc to me, although if it is, there will be bad bruising on the bottom of the foot, which is one way to know. But either way, staying off it and icing is smart. (And if it is something as serious as a lisfranc, go to urgent care or the ER right now; don’t wait. Lisfrancs are serious and I still have pain and other effects from mine five years later.)

        1. Soupspoon McGee*

          Thanks! I thought of you and your ordeal when my foot wouldn’t stop hurting. I don’t think it’s Lisfranc either, because the pain is in the 5th metatarsal, too far forward on the foot.

  32. periwinkle*

    As long as the topic of cooking has arisen… I pre-ordered a Joule this August and it’s finally shipping. In fact, it’s due to arrive via FedEx on Wednesday. Since it’s just the two of us, I’ve always roasted the smallest turkey breast I could find. Now I’m thinking hey, sous vide turkey breast.

    Is anyone else trying out sous vide for holiday (or non-holiday) cooking?

    1. Nye*

      I have an Anova model, and recently cooked hangar steak using the recipe from The Food Lab cookbook – it was delicious! I’ve also used it to thaw giant frozen hunks of meat, and it was awesome – highly recommended for a quick and thorough defrost.

      Though, I mostly use it to melt chocolate and hold it at temperature after tempering.

    2. Viola Dace*

      Yes, I’m doing sous vide turkey breast. We have had our Polyscience sous vide for almost four years and it is fantastic. I’m putting each breast in a bag with duck fat, butter, and herbs. Will probably throw them in the bath on Tuesday. Re-therm and sear off on Thanksgiving day. There are lots of great You Tube videos on sous vide.

  33. Jean*

    Time may heal some of this. If you enjoy the company of kids you can become the cool, active adult playmate as the babies turn into toddlers and older children. However I am not saying that you have to choose this solution!

    It may be that time will _not_ prove helpful. And yes, it hurts when people are totally focused on activities that for whatever reason are not part of your own life at present. It feels demoralizing and discouraging to have one’s own life circumstances overlooked or dismissed as something that other people have outgrown.

    For your own sake I suggest you find new friends for the here and now; people with whom you can share thoughts and activities that at present are being drowned by a tidal wave of “Travel! Family! Houses!” You deserve to be around people who don’t make you feel “so far behind.” At first you may still feel sad about parting from your friend group, but these people don’t sound very nourishing to you. It seems as if most of the benefits of being with them has faded away into the past.

    It can feel very awkward to meet new people at first, and you may miss your old friends, but all this will get easier with practice.

    You may also want to recast your circumstances as choices rather than life limitations. It doesn’t change the facts to say “I’m spending Thanksgiving weekend reading cozy mystery novels and rediscovering the local botanical garden” rather than “I can’t afford international travel”–but it keeps your dignity intact.

    Life is not a track meet, even if it seems that way when a group of friends goes from being all in the same stage of life to all-but-one-of-them being in similar life stages. People end up on different paths because of a combination of deliberate choices, half-assed choices, and plain old chance. It’s fine if your work keeps you in the city–it sounds interesting to me, in fact–or if your place is “too small” for a party. (I suspect it’s not too small at all if you entertain a different group of people!)

    Life is also a business that involves constant changes. In the still-unknown future you may decide that you want to change jobs to be able to live somewhere else with more affordable housing. Or you may stay in the city but increase your salary enough to afford a tiny place.

    P.S. I don’t think your friends are being deliberately unkind as much as they are being preoccupied to the point of being insensitive. Preparing for, welcoming, and adjusting to exciting travel, marriage, young children, and/or home ownership–on top of work, sleep, eating and the other tasks of life–can easily take up all of a person’s attention, unless he/she is particularly empathetic or otherwise aware that his/her social circle includes someone who does not have the same activities.

    1. Jean*

      Re life involving constant changes: I’m not saying that you will or should become a homeowner, parent or part of a marriage–just that you might. Similarly, some of these “happily married on schedule” couples may realize they were just floating along to the next “expected” milestone in life…and they may divorce. Or the divorce may happen after one party decides to join a religious order, or vote XYZ instead of ABC. Or who knows.

  34. Shabu Shabu*

    Anyone out there do a “capsule wardrobe”?

    If you aren’t in the know it’s basically a wardrobe limited to X amount of pieces, usually 30-40. And it includes it tops, bottoms/dresses, outerwear and shoes in that total.

    Some people do it for their entire wardrobe and some do one capsule for each season.

    Anyway, in combo with decluttering my life I’d like to have a capsule wardrobe. My issue is, if I only wear the same 10 shirts over and over again I’m afraid that they’ll get worn out. I’m not the type of person who can re-wear shirts cause…well, my pits. They seem to love stinking up my shirts hence I wear shirts once and in the wash they go.
    Whats your experience been with a capsule wardrobe and have your clothes faded?

    1. katamia*

      I unintentionally have done this by virtue of never really having enough clothes, lol. I think it depends to some extent on how good the washer and dryer you use are, although I also think it can be pretty hard on your clothes anyway. Fading was never really my major issue, but over time I’ve felt like the fabric of some of my shirts had gotten thinner/weaker. It’s also really stressful if you spill something or if you get really sick one weekend and have to push laundry day back a couple days.

      1. copy run start*

        Me too! I usually focus on purchasing quality garments that don’t fade or shrink, even though it costs more up front, because I never have that many. I always wash gentle/delicates cycle and separate whites/grays from blacks/darks. I’ve not noticed much of a difference in laundry detergent for me, but I’ve been using All Free & Clear for a few years. Almost everything gets washed after one wear. (This was not the case when I was using coin op though… eugh.)

        For pit stains and smells, spot treating with vinegar can help. I switched to Mitchum for my deodorant though because it doesn’t stain as much — different formula. I also confess that after I stopped shaving my armpits, I stopped sweating and smelling bad. Like a 1000% decrease. I am also hairy as heck down there and single though, so… YMMV. Especially if you like short sleeved or no-sleeved items…..

        1. Talvi*

          +1 for vinegar in laundry! I use it in every load in lieu of fabric softener, and I think it is better for my clothes.

    2. self employed*

      Be sure to use cold water, the delicate cycle, and treat stains promptly. Use the amount of detergent advised by the label. Treating your clothes well, they should last for years, as long as they aren’t tissue-thin cheaply-made items.

    3. Natalie*

      Not “officially”, but I use a lot of the principles of a capsule wardrobe to keep my wardrobe under control. So I stick with a pretty limited color palette, look for items that layer and combine well, and I’m starting to shift to higher quality items (although some of my formerly reliable brands are letting me down in that department)

    4. fposte*

      I think the best thing I’ve done for lengthening clothes life is to limit the dryer. Let stuff go in for a few minutes to get the worst of the drips out and then hang it; it’ll also be less wrinkly.

      1. CMT*

        Definitely. I stopped using the dryer about 4 years ago for a number of reasons, and it has greatly improved the lifespan of my clothing. I have cheap Target t-shirts that are still going strong. Although, now I have a cat and there’s cat hair on everything and I feel like that’s worse without a dryer.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        This. I have to wear cheap clothing because I just cannot afford nice things, but it makes them last WAAAAAY longer.
        My iron broke and I bought a new one right before I lost my job, whew. It’s purple! :D

    5. Caledonia*

      someone I read on another blog type site has a project 333 (www)bemorewithless(dot)com/project-333/
      so this could be for you?

    6. Observer*

      Buy good quality stuff, and wash / dry on the gentlest setting that works. That means separating stuff, in most cases. Also, personally, I’d rather have fewer things and replace them more often than have a bazillion things.

      1. Talvi*

        If you have the space and time, air drying your clothes will help preserve them longer as well. (This, of course, works better in certain climates as well. Things that would dry overnight in Alberta took days to dry in Vancouver in winter…)

        1. Anxa*

          Oh yes. I use the dryer because no amount of hot tumbling can match the damage of mildew growing on my clothes.

    7. Jules the First*

      An odd suggestion re the stinky pits…if you’re like most people, you probably apply deoderant/antiperspirant in the morning…but actually it works better if you appy in the evening before you go to bed. Totally weird, but I swear it works.

      1. CMT*

        I’ve found that for me personally antiperspirant actually makes me sweat more. So I use hippie deodorant, which has the added benefit of being better for your clothes.

        1. Eleanor*

          I also sweat a lot less since I switched from conventional deodorant (Secret) to hippie (Crystal Essence Unscented Rollon). I’m in the humid south so sometimes apply it more than once a day. I switched because I was getting armpit abscesses (they’re as fun as they sound). I don’t get them anymore with the crystal deodorant.

    8. The German Chick*

      I started a work wardrobe earlier this year, consisting of 8 white blouses, 2 pairs of pants, and 3 cotton blazers. This allowed me to slowly replace my “other” wardrobe with more fun pieces (patterned and colorful), compared to my previous wardrobe which had to cover both purposes.
      Each garment has a limited lifespan, which I measure in how many times I can wash it. If it’s a good cotton shirt, I will probably need to replace it after ~ 50 wears. If you have 10 shirts, the capsule would theoretically last 500 days, thus 1.5 years. To me, that sounds pretty good.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Can you tell me more about how you figure out the lifespan of a garment? Some stuff lasts and some stuff dies young and I am usually surprised either way. Price seems to have little bearing.

        1. The German Chick*

          I only buy cotton (>80%), linen, or wool, which feels nice and high quality, not too thin. No rayon, nylon, or polyester (only exception: fun, statement pieces, though I prefer silk). Good cotton is a little more expensive, but not too much. The lifespan of 50 wears was only an estimation, but I think pretty realistic. One day, I would actually like to count the times I wear something, but have never tried.

          1. The German Chick*

            In addition: I don’t dry shirts, only socks and underwear. My laundry detergent does not include bleach (check the label). Every now and then, I wash all shirts at 60 degree Celsius, which kills the smelly bacteria.

        2. HannahS*

          For knits, at least, you can stretch a portion of the fabric in your hands, and then see how long it takes to regain it’s shape. If the bit you stretched stays stretched out, whatever it is will start to look limp pretty quickly. In general, I find that polyester and acrylic tend to look ragged faster, because they pill more easily. Something loosely woven or knitted is more likely to lose its shape. Thinner fabric wears out faster. Things that come up higher under the pits get worn out faster. Those are my metrics, generally.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Interesting, thank you both! I like how you guys did not use brand names to describe what you look for. I prefer to look at the garment itself, too. Good brands can have bad products and not-so-hot brands can make a good product.

            Good point about the high underarms, I never thought about that.

            Thanks!

            1. HoVertical*

              For that very reason, I often buy dressy blouses one or two sizes large, and have them taken in – my seamstress is dead cheap, for something simple like adjusting seaming she will charge me ~5 bucks for 2 garments.

    9. HannahS*

      I sort of have a capsule wardrobe by default, by being cheap and not liking shopping. First of all, clothes will wear out! They just will. I wash all my clothes (except socks and underpants) in cold water, on gentle, and hang to dry. If the pits are stinky, I use a pre-treating spray or just rub in some dish soap, especially if there’s deodorant residue. Here are the lifespans I’ve found for my clothes, given that my stuff is only in weekly rotation for six months at a time (fall/winter or spring/summer).
      T-shirts (cotton/spandex, from places like H & M or Gap): one year looking new, one year looking fine, one year looking tired, then totally worn.
      Cotton blouses and dresses (Gap, mostly): two years looking new, one year looking fine, one year looking ragged.
      Pants: depends; jeans can last four-five years, stretch corduroy pants look new for about thirty seconds (ok, maybe a year–but I expect better *glares at Joe Fresh*)
      Skirts: cotton and wool skirts are magically indestructible
      A note on fabrics: Polyester and acrylic pill easily, so they look worn faster. For knits, spandex/lycra helps them rebound and keep their shape. Linen lasts well, but needs to be ironed. Blends with nylon tend to be very resilient. Wool naturally smells less than other fibres, so it needs to be washed less (for me, a cotton cardigan needs to be washed every wear, even if it’s not against my skin, but wool maybe once a season).

      1. Not So NewReader*

        So I am not crazy about T-shirts not lasting very long! I thought I was just really rough on clothes. And good to know that I am getting about the same mileage out of a pair of jeans. It felt like I was replacing jeans all the time.

  35. catsAreCool*

    Any suggestions for a good vacuum for someone with long hair and 3 cats (and one of the cats has long fur)? I’ve got a Shark Rocket vacuum, and it keeps getting clogged.

    1. Pennalynn Lott*

      I have six cats and a Great Pyrenees (VERY fluffy, long-haired dog). We have a Dyson Animal, but the roller brushes needed frequent cleanings, using scissors to cut the hair out from the rollers. Then someone here suggested a carpet broom (FurStatic, basically a rubber broom) and I go over the carpet (and the tile and the wood) with that first, balling all of the hair up into piles that I pick up before vacuuming. So far, so good.

    2. copy run start*

      I have a Bissell Clearview Pet vacuum (I think the title is longer but those are the important pieces). It survived a cat and a chinchilla (thickest hair in the world). It has special pieces on the spinners designed to pick up the hair. It also comes apart very easily to remove any clogs you do get. It was about $150 when I purchased it.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        We have the Bissell too. It’s outlasted all my other vacuum cleaners. We have 2 cats and 2 dogs and my long hair that gets everywhere. Both my current cats are medium haired, but it has lasted since I had 2 long haired ones.

        1. catsAreCool*

          The Bissell sounds good. Does it require much maintenance? With the Shark, I’ve had to wash the filters, which I guess is OK.

          1. Jessesgirl72*

            You’re supposed to wash the one filter occasionally, but I don’t remember to do it all the often, and it still survives! ;) It actually will just stop working when it gets too clogged, forcing you to wash it But that takes me many months.

    3. nep*

      Speaking of cleaning up hair — Hair on the bathroom floor (and somehow everywhere in the bathroom!) can be maddening. People’s best tips for getting at that on a regular basis, I mean between major cleanings? (It’s just about enough to make me want to shave my head again. No hair strands in the bathroom was one of the best parts.)

      1. Nancy B*

        Swiffer? Works great on hair if you use it–as opposed to what my family does, namely leave it standing in the corner of the bathroom.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I have an O’Cedar dust mop (I have hardwood floors, no carpet). It has a large flat square surface with this stretchy towel thing that fits over it. You can buy a refill for the thing; I have two, one on the mop and one backup. I can wash them instead of buying Swiffer cloths, so it saves money.

          In a pinch, used dryer sheets also work on a Swiffer or Pledge sweeper. You will probably have to use two because they’re small, but that was another thing I did when super poor, before I got the dust mop.

      2. Natalie*

        A damp paper towel works well for us. We just keep a roll of paper towels and a spray bottle of all purpose cleaner in the bathrooms.

    4. NM anon*

      I’m thinking about trying a shark rocket duo clean. It has a second roller and looks like it works pretty good. We have made the purchase yet though. Currently, we have an ancient bissell that works okay, but 3 filters to replace and a 4th tiny one to wash and it doesn’t get all the hair ever.

    5. Melody Pond*

      We sprang for a Roomba and run it about every other day (in a 566 sq foot studio). It can be scheduled to go on its own, so you can tell it to vacuum Monday/Wednesday/Friday, or every weekday or whatever – it does a really good job with my long hair and our long-haired cat (we normally have two cats, but my cat died about two months ago… I’ll get another one soon, probably). I think the trick is that it runs on its own, and you don’t have to manage it, so just by vacuuming more frequently, it never gets too overwhelmed with cat hair/my long hair.

      The trick to this, of course, is regularly cleaning out its bins and cleaning out its brushes. You also have to periodically clean its sensors, as well as the sensor on its “home base” and the metal conductors on both the Roomba and the home base that allow it to charge. It’s got a front wheel that can get gummed up over time, and when ours started randomly changing direction in the middle of the room (which is unusual), we finally figured out that its front wheel was the problem. We disassembled it enough to clean that wheel and its joints thoroughly, and it was fine from there on out.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        We had the Roomba, and I found I spent more time cleaning the brushes than it would take me to just vacuum by hand with a normal vacuum.

        1. HoVertical*

          Those “Magic Gloves” with the little rubber nodules on the fingers and palms work really well, too. :)

    6. Gaia*

      I cannot recommend the Shark Navigator enough. I’ve had Dysons and Mieles and Kirbys and my Shark outperforms every one of them.

      I have a dog that sheds year round. He shed A LOT. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out he’s bringing in fur from other dogs while I’m gone. I have to vacuum 3 – 4 times a week to keep my house looking respectable. But the Shark cut the time I spend on my furniture, etc in half and it gets way more out.

      It isn’t inexpensive, around $150, but it lasts doesn’t clog, doesn’t lose suction when you make it a lift away, etc.

    7. Older Momma*

      Dyson for sure – my Dyson Animal is 15 years old and just showing its age now. It has been through Great Dane, Dalmatian, Black Lab, Jack Russell, terrier mix & Springer Spaniel (at one time we had 4 dogs in the house) currently down to two.

      Add to that mix over the 15 years, 5 teens (and their friends) and 4 to 6 cats at any given time; so yes the Dyson is a must. I do have to clean the roller brush from time to time, but all of the animals love being vacuumed with the hand dust attachment so that helps too. Also love the attachments, I live in a very dusty house on the edge of farmland. Makes it easier to control dust.

    8. Anono-me*

      With a long haired dog and longer hair myself, I could not find a vacuum that I could use more than a week without needing to clean the roller.

      I would up using a Pledge fabric cleaner on the floor, then vacuuming. The Pledge cleaner is supposed to be tossed when it filled up with fur, but I just cut a opening in the back so I could empty it and taped back up.

  36. misspiggy*

    It should be possible to get quality cotton shirts that last a long time despite being washed often. Marks and Spencer in the UK are great for this.

  37. Myrin*

    Oh. My. God. You guys. I got these pyjama bottoms last week and I’ve basically been wearing them constantly. They’re so warm! And fluffy! And cosy! I’m completely in love with them (which is extremely surprising since I’ve been wearing the same stuff for ten years and am not hugely into fashion)!

  38. Nicole*

    Soooo… we adopted a dog!!! More specifically, an eight week old puppy. She is a schnau-tzu. We are visiting my husband’s family in Arizona and the next door neighbor got the puppy from a hoarding situation and needed to rehome her. We’ve talked about getting a dog and this just felt like it was meant to be since she’s the size, coloring, and temperament that we wanted.

    That being said, I’m very anxious because I know that puppies are a lot of responsibility. Plus I’ve personally never had a dog, not even growing up, so this is all new to me.

    Would dog owners care to share tips and advice? Perhaps name suggestions too? Here’s a link to a photo of her. https://www.dropbox.com/s/tmbwv0fh3gh7e32/Photo%20Nov%2017%2C%209%2041%2050%20AM.jpg?dl=0

    We are flying home tomorrow with her.

    P.S. The woman who we got her from, who used to be a vet tech, had her fully vetted and she’s healthy. She gave us a list of everything that’s been done and we will be taking her to our vet as well.

    1. Jessesgirl72*

      I really like the My Smart Puppy book. I had dogs my whole life, but then we lived in apartments and I didn’t have one, and then when we did get one, we rescued an adult dog who didn’t have any bad habits (except for bolting out the door, but he hates being scolded, so he stopped that one almost immediately!) so when we were about to get a puppy, I realized I’d never raised a puppy by myself, and that it had been a LONG time since I’d done it at all. This book was sensible and I think just about covered everything.

      The basic stuff is just to know that there are going to be accidents. There just are. Buy the gallon bottle of the cleaning enzyme stuff at the Pet Store. And whenever the puppy wakes up, if she’s not crated, RACE her outside. And praise her the second she starts to obey a command (or goes on the outside!)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Am laughing, pups need to “go” after they eat, sleep, play, sit, lay down, haha. Their kidneys are tiny, they will grow and this will change.

        1. Nicole*

          We’ve been taking her outside to potty every hour or so and at night have her crated so she wakes us up to tell us she needs to potty. Only two accidents indoors so far and that’s on us for not keeping up on the every hour schedule.

    2. Rahera*

      Oh my goodness, she’s so adorable. I’m melting! i would want to call her something like Theodora, because she’s like a little teddy bear :).

    3. dragonzflame*

      The best thing you can do is start reading up on training. Positive reinforcement that is – I’d ignore people like Cesar Millan (this may be a controversial opinion). Look for Sophia Yin, Patricia McConnell, Ian Dunbar, Victoria Stilwell. You may also want to look into obedience classes (again, check they use positive training methods).

      You’ll find it’s a big lifestyle adjustment, so do give it some time. It’ll take a while for you all to get to know each other so don’t worry if it feels like it isn’t working out for the first few weeks. Soon you won’t be able to remember what it was like pre-dog.

      I’d also set your ground rules with each other now so there’s no confusion later – will the dog be allowed on the bed? The couch? Where will she sleep? How will you organise walks? Consistency is huge in having a dog, especially around training.

      And good luck – having a dog is hard work and sometimes frustrating, but it’s also brilliant and fun and rewarding :-)

      1. dragonzflame*

        Oh, and because she’s so little, you’re going to want to put in tons of time socialising her. Take her to as many places as you can, let her meet as many people and other dogs as you can, make sure she gets exposed to lots of new situations. Make all these good experiences so as she grows up she approaches new things with positivity and curiosity, not apprehension.

        Obviously use your noodle and be careful about where she goes before all her vaccinations are finished, but your vet should advise you on that.

      2. Gaia*

        Yes to ignoring Cesar (he is borderline abusive to dogs and it makes me sick that he’s so popular) and YES to a lifestyle adjustment. You’ll find you can’t/don’t want to go out for after work drinks because of puppy’s needs, etc. It is wild how that tiny furball can change your world. But it is 3000% worth it.

        1. Nicole*

          We are against negative reinforcement for sure. I could not imagine hitting an animal or even yanking on their collar to try and make them behave. We are going to the store for treats today so we can work on the positive reinforcement.

    4. LadyKelvin*

      Splurge on training classes. They can start puppy classes when they are 8 weeks old. There they start to learn how to interact with you and more importantly, you learn a lot about all facets of puppy rearing. We took our dog to 6 months of training classes, getting progressively harder as she got older, starting at 12 weeks. It was the best investment we made. She’s not sperfect because we didn’t devote all our time to training her, but she is really well behaved. Also many training place has puppy playtime for dogs 8 weeks to 6 months which are great for socializing. The ones in our area are all free, and since they are run by training groups they make sure the dogs are all curent on their shots. I don’t recommend taking it to a dog park until after it has their rabies shot, because you have no way of knowing if they dog’s there have their shots. Good luck with your puppy, and enjoy your time with it while it’s small.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        Oh, that reminds me of my #1 pet peeve to puppy owners: DO NOT TAKE HER TO THE DOG PARK ! Not until she’s 6 months old and has had all her vaccinations, specifically her last Parvo one. Parvo can live in the soil for years after an infected dog has left it there, and is devastating to puppies.

    5. Melody Pond*

      OMG, what a cutie!

      Second all the suggestions to read up on dog training (which basically boils down to learning enough about how dogs instinctively operate in a pack, such that you learn to communicate in ways that are meaningful to the dog). And also investing in some dog training classes, which are really more about training you than the dog, would probably be well worth it.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Read up on dog gestures. Chest on the floor and butt up in the air, means PLAY!

      Have some toys around that she can chew on. When they are cutting teeth they are constantly chewing on somethings. This will stop as she grows.

      She is very cute, you are going to have lots of fun and you are going to learn lots of stuff.

    7. Gaia*

      Dogs are just the best. But puppies take a lot of work. Here’s my advice I always give new dog owners

      1. Do not punish. Reward. Dogs don’t have the ability to understand why you are angry. For example, let’s say you come home and New Puppy peed on the floor. You rub his nose in it and tell him NO! He doesn’t understand that you are angry that he peed on the floor. He only knows you are angry and there is pee there. So maybe he pees somewhere else next time. Or starts to hide it. Never punish. Always reward.

      2. Along the same lines, do not hit dogs. That teaches them you are unpredictable and scary. To be secure, confident and happy, New Puppy needs you to be confident and consistent.

      3. Play. A lot. Puppies learn really well through play. If he bites too hard during play, you yelp and stop the game. He learns to use his teeth less if he wants the fun to keep up. This is how dogs teach eachother and it is helpful if we can do the same for them.

      4. Even if you have a yard, walk your dog every day. Dogs need exercise and running in the yard isn’t enough. They thrive from the interactions they get, the new smells, the other animals.

      5. Socialize your dog (once he has his vaccines) with other dogs and humans early and often and you’ll have a dog that does well in all situations.

      6. Find a great vet that you trust. A great vet won’t make you feel stupid for panicking over something that turns out to be nothing. They will give you common sense advice that meets your needs and won’t push lots of tests or products on a problem that could be solved via observation.

      7. Feed a truly high quality food. You won’t find this at the grocery store. I recommend Go! as they are producted in Canada and have never been recalled (something almost no other brand can claim). These foods are not cheap but think of it like your own food. How would you feel and how healthy would you be if all you ever ate was $1 Tostinos frozen pizzas?

      8. Crate train. It isn’t cruel or inhumane, it is a “safe place” for dogs and if done right, it becomes a place they like to be. It worked best when I fed my pup at the back of his crate (door open). He began to associate the crate with food and would eventually wander into it on his own and take a nap. I leave the door open all the time and when he is stressed or overstimulated, he goes there to relax. It was a life saver when I moved him across the country twice and could crate him in hotels.

      9. Play with your dogs feet, ears and mouth early and often. This will get them used to what it is like at the vet and groomer. Touch their ears, give a treat. Play with their feet, give them their favorite toy, etc. Positive reinforcement.

      10. Never, never, never, never, never, never NEVER leave your dog outside unsupervised. Dogs escape, get hurt or are stolen this way. You’ll never forgive yourself. Don’t do it.

      1. Gaia*

        Also, talk to your dog as often as you can. They cannot understand everything, but evidence suggests that it lights up their reward center of the brain and that they have the ability to learn language (to about the vocab level of a 2 year old human). Puppy loves it when you talk to him. So talk to him even if it is nonsense. I narrate my cooking to my dog.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          By the time my previous dog hit 10-11 years old he understood about 30% of what my husband and I were saying to each other. You could tell by the reactions. We switched to spelling words and that worked for a bit but he figured it out. So we switched to Spanish.

          This is what happens when you talk to a dog.

          An important thing I learned with that dog was to be more responsive. When he said something, I would respond each time. Even if it was to tell him something was okay and not to bark. As time went on he told us more complex things. Like he told us the field behind us was on fire. When he got old, he used gestures to tell me that I did not need to lift him up the stairs, I just needed to lift his back end for him.

          They will tell you a lot if you make it a habit to listen. I remember a story of a lady who had a small dog and he let her know that she was developing breast cancer. It’s a privilege to see them tell us stuff.

      2. dear liza dear liza*

        All really solid advice! I’ll underscore the need for training. I’ve met too many owners with small dogs who never trained their pets because they could just pick up the dog as needed. That ability does not remove the need to train your dog to have proper manners, both with people and other dogs. You don’t want to have an ‘ankle biter’ or a small dog with a Napoleon complex.

        PS I assume you’ll post photos of the puppy every week for us? She is adorable.

      3. Nicole*

        This is all very good advice, thank you! I agree that crate training is not inhumane. She was already used to this before coming to us so we’ve kept that up.

        Not that we would anyway, but we can’t leave her unsupervised since we don’t have a fenced-in yard. Plus she’s so tiny I would worry about a hawk or coyote getting to her.

    8. LCL*

      That is the world’s second cutest dog!
      1. Find out if she is chipped, and get the information. If she isn’t, get that done ASAP.
      2. Find out from your vet the legal requirements for rabies shots in your state and follow them. Not because of disease prevention, but for legal reasons if she ever bites someone.
      3. Check out your yard for little holes in the fence. Chicken wire can be used to patch small areas.
      And, pick up a bottle of enzyme cleaner for the inevitable accident.
      She is so cute!

    9. Nicole*

      I just wanted to thank everyone for the advice. I read everything even if I didn’t reply and I appreciate it. So far things are going great. She was on her way to potty training before we got her which really helped, and she did perfect on the plane ride home. No whining or accidents. She’s a smart little thing. My husband has been sneezing a lot since we got her which surprised us both since he had no reaction to his sister’s Boston Terrier mix which lived with us for over a year. We are going to buy some puppy shampoo and see if that helps since she came from a household that had cats (which he is allergic to) and birds and may have that dander on her.

  39. AnnonyHippie*

    With marijuana rapidly becoming legal across the US, has anyone had any luck convincing a friend/family member to give it a try? My FIL has been living with chronic pain for decades, unable to work, and between the pain, the side effects of standard pain-killers, and sleep deprivation, his quality of life just isn’t great. I’ve been reading about the topical creams and think they could work for him, but he’s very conservative and thinks that “medical marijuana” is just a scam so hippies can get high.

    1. katamia*

      You say that he thinks medical marijuana is just a scam so hippies can get high, but have you been able to get any deeper about his objection? Does he object to it because it is/was (depending on your state and also whether you take the federal government into consideration) illegal? Is it because he thinks it’s immoral to alter consciousness? Is there a history of drug abuse in his family? Does he just not like hippies? Something else? You don’t have to answer me here, but knowing the deeper source of his objection could help you find sources that would persuade him.

    2. Minta*

      Perhaps you could start by referring him to a mainstream resource for discussion about medical cannabis– an article or post by someone he may be more likely to trust. Something like this one from Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

      http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/08/health/gupta-changed-mind-marijuana/

      There are products out there that have the beneficial cannabanoids but not the head-high-inducing THC — one example is the Charlotte’s Web Hemp Extract.

      Anyone IRL whose story you could provide as a testimonial? “My coworker Joel has been using XYZ for 4 months now, and his [Symptom/Condition] has improved [insert quantitative evidence of improvement].” Facts, figures, and real people.

      Of course, if he’s not having it, he’s not having it, but it should be ok to gently a time or two more.

      Sorry you’re FIL is experiencing pain.

    3. chickabiddy*

      If it is legal in your state, have him discuss the options with a regular (non-hippie, lol) physician. Perhaps hearing about the possible benefits from a medical professional will convince him that it is a legitimate alternative to narcotics. It also might be worth noting that narcotics are also drugs that are subject to abuse but he seems to be okay with them when they are prescribed legally, so an objection to medical marijuana on the basis that some people might like it too much does not really make sense. (Personally, if I had a choice between opioids and marijuana, I would definitely consider the latter to be safer and less addictive.)

    4. HannahS*

      I don’t know that much about medical marijuana in the States (but I do know plenty about chronic pain, unfortunately), but would be possible for him to get it as a prescription or an “I strongly recommend…” from a doctor that he already sees? I guess, basically, do you think he’d be more receptive if it seemed more like “legitimate” pharmaceuticals?

      The other thing is (you probably know this, but I feel I need to leave a PSA here) chronic pain is a BEAST and everyone has ideas about this thing that they know would really help you based on the articles they’ve read, or the news story they saw, or the study they came across. Unsolicited advice–well-intentioned as it may be–becomes deeply unwelcome after a while, especially as you try more and more ineffective treatments. I’d say, bring it up, privately, “FIL, I was reading the newspaper and they were saying how some seniors with arthritis are using medicated creams etc. it’s not enough to make you high, etc. and I just thought I’d let you know, in case you want to bring it up with Dr. Higgenbotham etc.” and then don’t argue back. If you’re one of “them hippies,” he isn’t going to be convinced by anything you say. Leave it at, “Well, I thought it might work for you, so I thought I’d mention it.” And then, crucially, drop the subject and don’t bring it up again.

    5. Girasol*

      Trying to get parents to consider it for severe osteoporosis pain to reduce fentanyl use. No luck. Once you get to fentanyl, even on prescription, can marijuana really be that alarming?

      1. AnonAcademic*

        It makes me even madder at D.A.R.E. and the war on drugs that we have tons of people hooked on opiods and ODing on fentanyl who think that weed is the devil and won’t try it!

        1. Girasol*

          I’ve read that where medical marijuana is legal, medical opioid use is reduced. I’m just disappointed that in the state where my folks are, where medical marijuana is legal, doctors are recommending more fentanyl instead for intractable pain. But it’s what they’re trained to understand.
          Medical use of marijuana isn’t well understood because places that might study the medical effects of marijuana face federal restriction on it.

    6. Zip Silver*

      I mean, medical is basically a scam for people to get high. I still voted to legalize it in Florida this past election, but a spade is still a spade.

      Might help him with chronic pain, assuming he lives in a legal state.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Wait, no, that’s absolutely incorrect! The American Medical Association, the Institute of Medicine, the American College of Physicians, the American Public Health Association, the American Nurses Association, the American Academy of HIV Medicine, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the Lymphoma Foundation of America, the Epilepsy Foundation, and numerous other medical organizations have all recognized that marijuana is an effective drug for some conditions and in some people. There are numerous respected, peer-review studies on this. It’s not a scam (!).

        1. Zip Silver*

          I don’t doubt that there’s medical benefits, I just also know that before recreational in California, it was super duper easy to get a prescription through the right doctors.

          Not knocking it at all for either medical or recreational. Even opium has tons of medical benefits.

          1. chickabiddy*

            It’s very possible that there are some doctors who are scammy, but that doesn’t make medical marijuana a scam. There are plenty of “pill mill” clinics who prescribe narcotics to anyone who walks in the door. That’s scammy, too (and quite a bit more dangerous), but it doesn’t mean that narcotics don’t have a legitimate place in pain management. Unethical doctors are the problem, not the substances themselves.

  40. Becca*

    Sort of a weird question, but as someone who’s never been to the US I was wondering if you guys can shed light on how accurate the portrayal of life in American high schools in pop culture is.

    Stuff like: are your high schools really full of cliques, with the stereotypical groups like the jocks, the cheerleaders, the nerdy kids, etc.? All the dysfunction that goes on with the teachers behind closed doors? The hype over dances (and the ‘voting for king/queen’ type activities), and are proms really as huge a deal as it’s always made out to be?

    I grew up in Australia (now in the UK), and when I was young watched lot of American movies/TV shows (there seemed to be a huge surge of them in the late 90s and early 2000s) and that’s how I thought high school would be, and really it’s nothing like that here. I imagine movies/TV would be somewhat removed from real life, but by how much?

    1. katamia*

      They weren’t true for me. I went to a very large high school in a very diverse area, and we had so many people that grouping up based on jock/cheerleader/nerd status just didn’t work. I also have to say that, other than the gang activity, it was a pretty polite school–people were generally pretty respectful of differences, and there was little to no bullying that I saw. I wasn’t popular (or unpopular–kind of in the middle), but I could and did do group projects with people further on both sides of the general popularity spectrum without having any of the movie/TV-esque “popular kid does nothing while the nerd does all the work” issues. (Some of this was because I was in gifted programs in middle and high school, but even when I worked with classmates who weren’t in those programs, that rule seemed to hold true.) Dances were fun and a lot of people went, but by the time I was a junior/senior a lot of my friends were going clubbing in addition to going to dances (though I didn’t because I had a late birthday and didn’t turn 18 until after I was in college). And afterprom was way more fun than prom–they really went all out to keep people from going to hotel rooms and having sex afterwards with lots of games and fun stuff held at the school.

      However, I went to college in an area where most of my classmates came from less diverse areas and small towns, and what they told me sounded a lot more like the stereotypical movie high school experience, with everyone going to football games on weekends, prom being a huge deal, etc.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I’ve gone to only one high school, but I’ve worked and taught in several others (both public and private), and it really depends on the school itself—I don’t think you can safely generalize for the whole country. Some schools do very much align with film portrayals of high school; others don’t at all. And then sometimes schools will have only some aspects (e.g., the obsession with the football team and cheerleading squad). We’re 300 million people in 50 states with rural, suburban, and city populations. Your mileage may vary (or your kilometerage?).

      1. Becca*

        Not trying to generalise the US, maybe I should’ve worded it more like ‘do the portrayals reflect the area the schools are set in’ or something. But there are a lot of common themes which seem to come up a lot in popular media (like the ones I’ve listed) so I was wondering how much they actually feature in real life.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          I think there’s some truth to each of those tropes and in greater or lesser degrees, depending on the school. I believe we had a prom court at my high school, but nobody really cared who was “crowned.” At other schools, it’s a much bigger deal, as is homecoming and football games. As others have mentioned, the cliques tend to not be so completely separate from each other, but they do exist.

    3. NM anon*

      I went to a high school where our graduating class had about 500 students. We had cliques and most of them self segregated: drama geeks, band nerds, goths, skater kids, blacks, the super smart kids, rednecks, the popular kids, the uber religious kids etc. the segregation was most visible during lunch time. Most people got along with each other during class and in the halls. We had very few fights. Dysfunction with teachers? I mean there were rumors about teachers being gay, sleeping with one another, smoking pot, coaches sleeping with girls on certain sports teams, but nothing ever undeniably factual. The hype over dances really depended on the students of the class involved. We had mainly homecoming and prom and although we had a king and queen and court for both, they were by nomination only and I don’t remember anyone getting super upset about losing. The same girl won queen in my class every year. Nicest person ever. I only attended my senior prom. School was big on football and school spirit.

    4. LizB*

      In my experience (high school with ~2000 students on the west coast of the US), high schools do have cliques, but it’s not like the whole population of the school has to fit into one clique or another — you’ll have a group of student council kids, the chess club, the football team, etc., who primarily hang out with each other but then you’ll have a large group of students that are just… students. They don’t fit into a box, and nobody has an issue with that. I’ve also never seen much rivalry or enmity between cliques — they’re just circles of friends, they don’t generally have huge feuds or organized bullying or pranking, and cross-clique friendships are common enough to be unremarkable. Dances/prom can be a big deal if your group of friends is really into them, and people can definitely do dramatic things to ask each other to the dance, but I’ve never seen a dance where ~the whole school~ was buzzing about so-and-so going with what’s-her-face — plenty of people don’t really care.

      As someone who’s worked in schools, though, dysfunction among the teachers is absolutely real. Schools have some of the worst office politics I have ever seen. Ideally the students aren’t aware of it, but things can get nasty.

    5. all aboard the anon train*

      Not really. I grew up in a small, rural town and our biggest issue was lack of anything to do. So parties were common, but not the extreme wild parties you see in those movies. Our biggest problem was that you needed a car to do anything and there was nothing to do in the town, so it really meant a lot of loitering in parking lots and if there was a party with alcohol, it was more of a party where everyone awkwardly gathered in someone’s house with a smuggled bottle of whatever alcohol their parents drank or whatever an older sibling bought for them. I can’t recall any big house parties like the ones you see in those movies.

      A lot of our “jocks” were also the “smart kids” and a lot of our “nerdy/theatre kids” were also the ones voted in for class president. So everyone sort of blended into different cliques and people had set lunch tables, but it was more by who your friends were and who also had lunch at that time (we had three different schedules for lunch, so you weren’t always sitting with the same people). Strangely enough, all the girls considered “pretty” in my school were more likely to be on student council and all the girls who weren’t considered popular were cheerleaders. It wasn’t considered “cool” to be a football player or cheerleader in our school. You pretty much went to football games if you had nothing else to do that night.

      Prom was fairly boring and definitely overhyped. If anything, middle school dances were more full of drama because everyone had hormones and thought that “dating” was dancing with someone they liked at a dance held in the cafeteria. By the time senior prom rolled around, a lot of people didn’t want to go because after years of school dances, we all grew bored of them fairly quickly. For some bizarre reason, we didn’t get to vote on prom/homecoming/whatever dance king or queen and either the teachers or event staff of the venue did. None of us really seemed to care, but it always made me think the movies where people had prom queen/king campaigns were super weird. We only had “campaigns” for student council or class offices.

      To be honest, our teachers had more drama than the students did. Looking back, the teachers seemed so old but a lot of them were right out of college, so it was a different set of drama. Something similar to what you’d find with any group of post-college aged twentysomethings in an office.

    6. Florida*

      The stereotypes portrayed on TV are real, but they are also exaggerated for comedic effect. Yes, there is hype of dances and king/queen, but not that much hype. Yes, there is teacher dysfunction, but not as much as on TV.

      Also, it’s not the same for everyone. As a school event, prom is a big deal. For many students, prom is a big deal. But there are also students who could care less about prom. That’s true of everything, not just prom.

    7. Tris Prior*

      My high school was very cliquey. I can’t speak to dysfunctional teachers – well, there was the teacher who apparently was a massive coke fiend the entire time I went to that school, but I actually didn’t even find that out until a couple years ago when I joined a Facebook group for my high school graduating class. Explains a lot in retrospect, though.

      Dances were a big deal at my school, as were sports, but I personally didn’t really care about them or understand the hype. I was a choir/theater/arts nerd and we didn’t pay much attention to all of that. I ended up going to my senior prom mostly out of FOMO but it was a huge waste of time and money in my opinion.

    8. Dan*

      The US is too large and diverse to make any sweeping statements about much of anything — particularly the pop culture portrayed in the movies and TV shows.

      Take the TV show Beverly Hills 90210 — BH is considered a REALLY posh section of LA. TV or not, a “real” BH high school wouldn’t be representative of my rural average income HS in the upper midwest. A more interesting question is how different the TV show was from actual life at the school. I wouldn’t know the answer to that unless I talked to a few people who went there.

      And Saved by the Bell? AFAIK, nobody I knew ever took drviver’s ed in a golf cart in the school gym.

      Granted, these shows were the thing in the early to mid 90’s. I was in college in the late 90’s, and wasn’t watching as much “pop culture” TV at that point, so I’m not as familiar without what was on that you would have watched. For example, I’ve never watched “The OC” or “Jersey Shore” or “The Real Housewives of X.”

    9. Stellaaaaa*

      I’d say the social tiers are similar to those on Buffy (though that show never captured the overall high school experience all that well): you had people who were considered cool or uncool but everyone mostly looked and acted the same. The few people who seemed like “nerds” weren’t actually all that smart. Honors and AP classes tend to be full of the more popular, moneyed kids.

    10. BPT*

      I went to school in a more rural area (my high school was made up of kids from four surrounding towns), and when I graduated my class was just under 300 students.

      There were cliques, but they weren’t set in stone. Like you had the preppy kids, the really country kids, the artsy kids, the jocks, the smart kids, the “rebels,” but people were certainly in more than one group. Like I was a “smart” kid, but also in theatre and chorus, my best friend was a “rebel” who was also in chorus, but I was also good friends with some super religious kids (bible belt) and some of the preppier kids.

      Funnily enough, at my high school theatre and band were really popular. We weren’t that good at spectator sports – i.e. football, basketball, the ones students came out to root for. We were good at the country club sports (golf, tennis, etc). So the more sporty kids maybe didn’t have the hero worship that occurs in other schools.

      Prom king/queen were kind of a joke – nobody really cared about those. And it certainly wasn’t the most popular kids who were voted into that. It was usually some random person I really didn’t know well (who got all their friends to vote for them while nobody else cared).

      1. Mela*

        This was essentially my HS experience (suburban, 250/graduating class). There were definitely groups and lots of overlap. There weren’t any “nerd” groups, it was Nerd + Something, where “nerd” really just means they took honors and AP courses. There were jock nerds, drama nerds, religious nerds, band nerds, overachievers, who fit into jock, band, nerd, etc. I was in a could of groups, but one was mostly defined by their tastes in music, which I definitely didn’t share. It was diverse, with AP and special ed levels of academic achievement, some were cheerleaders and some went through goth fazes. I think most people in my school had a main group and then were part of 1-3 other groups as well. Generally very fluid, and unless there was some personal issue, everyone was nice to most people.

        One cliquey thing that I remember laughing about even then, there was a “popular” group (they weren’t popular, it was just a group who were all athletes or cheerleaders) of about 10 girls and 10 guys and they always had a lot of interpersonal drama that everyone seemed to talk about. One guy had been dating a girl in the group, cheated with another girl in the group, came to Girl 1’s door to apologized, and she answered, kicked him in the balls and closed the door. I think everyone knew about that the next day, and I’m not sure why haha. What’s even weirder is most of them stayed in the area and still hang out! (I’m still very close with a lot of my HS friends, but it’s a catch up once/year, skype once/month kind of thing, not going to the same places weekly as we did in HS)

      2. Elizabeth West*

        This was mine too, mostly. I was on the receiving end of a lot of bullying. It was a small town with one school system, so you went with the same kids through almost your entire time there, barring anyone who left or moved to the area in the meantime. A teacher I had in grade school basically made it okay for the kids to pick on me and once they started, it never stopped. If you were quiet and minded your own business, you could be a nerd and not get picked on, but I was more of an extrovert, haha.

        Jocks were popular because sports were big. One of my former classmates still is a big vocal fan of our high school football team on Facebook (she’s a teacher but not there and has no kids; I don’t know what her thing is, but whatever). Cheerleaders were ONLY the popular girls no matter how good you were at jumping and yelling. We had ONE guy the whole time–I think they picked him as a joke, but for that time, his auditioning was pretty ballsy. My sister, who was popular and very good at dance, also made cheerleader. I was in chorus and theater. I didn’t get leads until I went to college because I wasn’t one of the cool kids. Everything revolved around being one of them. The homecoming queen was a big deal. We didn’t have a king.

        Like all aboard the anon train’s post above, there wasn’t much to do; we cruised around the town square and pulled in and out of the center parking spots next to our friends. I did that later too when living there as a young adult. There were parties out on people’s back forty, but I was never invited to them. My dad lives there but I have literally no other reason to ever go back to that place.

        I totally freaked when Stranger Things came on Netflix; when Barb first appeared in the scene at the lockers with Nancy, I almost died. They absolutely NAILED her outfit: the high-waisted jeans, secretary blouse, and glasses. If you look in my yearbook, we all had that same exact outfit!

    11. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      My high school was a brand new school in a fast growing, diverse city that, by the time I graduated in the first class to have gone there all 4 years, had 3200 students crammed in. My graduating class had almost 900 and it took two hours to get through everyone. We had a lot of wealthier kids and a bunch that were “bussed in” from the rest of the city. Every clique, every creed, every class was pretty much represented there, including gangs.

      People for the most part stayed within their socioeconomic class and clique. At the top with all the honors kids some folks were band geeks, some were jocks, some were nerdy outsiders, some were cheerleaders etc, but at the end of the day everyone got along (with the exception of a few practical jokes here and there, or shunning of one person or another for whatever reason). A lot of people fit in more than one group. Sports were huge, band and theatre much less so, but you weren’t completely shunned if you participated (usually as long as you also had a sports letter to back it up!) Plenty of kids pulled “do you know who my father is” and some were actually working in the entertainment industry from 16.

      Outside of that group, I have no idea who the other people were in school. Sometimes there would be big fights you would walk past on your way to your locker, or police arresting someone in the parking lot. It never felt like a cohesive place – just somewhere we were all legally corralled for a few hours every day, with the top 150 or so running in an almost parallel universe. Most people hadn’t grown up with each other, hadn’t even lived in the same city their whole life, which probably added to the strangeness. I never felt threatened or anything, just felt like groups of different people moved in different circles and stayed within those circles. My friend to this day jokes that whenever someone tells her that 20% of their class went to an Ivy, that 20% of our class went to jail.

      Prom, though,that was huge. HUGE. But I think that was the nature of the city. Prom wasnt even held at the school but at a rented venue at a large hotel. Talk was about which show you were taking your date to, especially based on whose father could get the best comp tickets/rooms as EVP of whatever hotel, or what celebrity they knew. Our proms were pretty close to those in BH90210 – most people only went to the dance long enough to get their picture taken, with professionally done hair and nails, big dresses, limos, dinner, the whole works. There wasn’t pressure to go, for sure, but it was still seen as very important in a see and be seen type of way (if you were in to that).

      UK friends sometimes bring up questions about high school if they have seen a movie and I will explain how it usually went, that a show/movie may or may not be exaggerated, but my own experience was X and was likely influenced heavily by Y, and is therefore definitely not representative of the US on the whole at all.

    12. matcha123*

      I could never relate to those teen drama shows. My high school had over 2000 students, was pretty diverse and the ‘cliques’ all overlapped with each other.
      To give some perspective, in most teen dramas, the ‘jocks’ are good-looking, but stupid. In my high school, you had to maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA (basically a 70%) in all classes in order to play on a team. And to play on a team, you needed to pay for the uniforms which were hundreds of dollars. If your family was poor, then…sucks for you. If you couldn’t keep up your grades, you were kicked off the team. There wasn’t just one ‘team’, either. There were football, soccer, baseball, ice hokey, field hokey, tennis, softball, track, swimming, gymnastics, etc teams for men and women.

      The prom was not a huge thing, either.
      The teachers probably had their own drama, but I also knew some of them talked shit about students, so there’s that.

      In my mind, those types of dramas reflected people who were raised in tight-knit, rural communities. In those kinds of places, high school is the peak of a lot of people’s lives.

      In more urban/suburban areas there’s going to be more focus on life after high school.

    13. Gaia*

      It varies widely by school but, overall, I would say no it isn’t very accurate. Our Prom wasn’t some HUGE deal, but it was the biggest dance we had. And we did have a “court” but again it wasn’t a major deal and people from all social groups were part of it.

      Cliques happen, but it is almost never as simple as shows make it seem and they are often mixed about quite a bit. I don’t think Americans are that different than other western countries, really.

    14. copy run start*

      Not in my experience. It seems like most TV/movies portray high school as super homogeneous–full of the same group and with the same income level (white and affluent in the burbs or poor and black in the city).

      My high school was in an affluent suburban area, but open to kids who lived out-of-district, so we had a nice mix. Some of my friends lived in 4,000 sq foot homes on the lake, and some lived in cramped apartments. The only downside was that some people were a long drive away. We also had a lot of different ethnicities. Many Jewish and Chaldean people lived in my town, so Christians were a minority. We had Jewish holidays off school. We had some groupings, but I think it was because a lot of the ethnicities had summer programs for their kids to learn about their culture and so they spent more time together and became friends outside of school. Everyone was friendly though. No reason a Jewish and Muslim kid couldn’t be friends (though we had few Muslim kids).

      Our football team had a 4.0 average and couldn’t win a game to save their life. We had 0 school spirit and half the school skipped pep rallies. 95%+ went on to college, if I remember right.

      We did have some controversies with teachers being asked to keep their ethnic maiden names so kids could “relate” to them. (The school made an effort to ensure a lot of the different ethnicities were represented in the administration and teaching body.) Our teachers were very good for the most part.

      There were wild house parties… mostly sanctioned by the parents though. I think they wanted the kids to at least be somewhere they knew about if they were going to get trashed. I never went to them so I can’t really speak to the experience. We had great sex ed, so I recall maybe 4 pregnancies out of 2,500 kids.

      I do remember being worried about high school after seeing all those movies, but it was actually a drastic improvement over the cliques and bullying of middle school.

  41. brightstar*

    So I had posted a while back, upset about the situation with my family and my having power of attorney. I called a lawyer, who was a jerk who told me that I needed a family therapist and not a lawyer. So I called one a friend recommended who sat down with me, reviewed the paperwork, and gave advice. He’s a well respected lawyer who’s written books on succession law. It was a relief knowing the paperwork was okay. My family, except for Nerfetiti my hoarder sister, is all on board.

    Last week, my Mom called me out of the blue. She denies screaming about never wanting to talk to me again and if she did, it’s okay because she was upset at losing everything. I’m going to call her once a month to check up on her, but I think it’s best to keep some distance.

    Thanks for the recommendations the last time and just being so nice.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      It sounds like you have a good long term plan. I am glad to hear things are calmer at least for now. I hope this continues to go better for you.

  42. Living in a box*

    Anyone have tips for cooking in very small kitchens? For the six months or so I’ll be living in a studio apartment the size of shoebox, and the kitchen has only two hobs, plus very very limited counter space (can probably fit a small chopping board). Anything that needs a lot of prep is tricky to manoeuvre, and I don’t have appliances like blenders since there’s no storage space, and no oven or microwave either,

    (I also only have a tiny fridge with limited freezer space so batch-cooking stuff to reheat is also not possible).

    1. Anonymous Poster*

      Get a nice toaster oven, and if you have another place to keep it use that. They’re a huge lifesaver, but it’s understandable with space concerns if you can’t get one. I do mean nice though – you’ll appreciate the temperature control and other niceties with it, and it’ll serve as a personal sized oven for you.

      Other than that, anything you can put elsewhere will serve you well, or hang. You’ll get the hang (somewhat) of your space with time, but 6 months is an annoyingly short amount of time. Good luck!

    2. LizB*

      – Cutting board that sits over the sink
      – Magnetic knife strip on the wall instead of a knife block
      – Small end table or bar cart that you can put a toaster oven on. Bonus points if it has a lower shelf, so you have some extra storage
      – Command hooks on the wall or inside cabinet doors to hang measuring cups/spoons, pot lids, spatulas, soap bottle, anything else hang-able
      – If you have the funds, buy pre-prepped ingredients — salad bars can be great for chopped veggies if you’re cooking for one
      – Plastic bins in the fridge to help keep things organized
      – If you can commit to taking the trash out very regularly, you only need a very small trash can
      – Dry and put away dishes immediately after washing so you don’t need space for a dish drainer

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        I’d say the trash only applies if you have trash bins outside or in your apartment building. I know I’d love to have a smaller trash can, but I can only put trash outside for collection once a week. Otherwise I’ll get a $50 ticket. None of my apartments have had a place to store trash on non-collection days.

        For the command strips, I agree they’re super useful, but make sure they won’t harm your walls. Mine have always torn the paint off the walls or the finishing on the cabinets. Or they just wouldn’t budge when I moved apartments.

        1. LizB*

          That’s true! I’ve always lived places where there are outside trash bins that the inside bins get emptied into when full, so if that’s not the case it won’t work so well.

      2. Dan*

        Interesting note about salad bars, I never thought about that and I cook for one, so thanks.

        On the cost aspect of it, I’ve concluded that when you cook for yourself, you probably do have funds for smaller sizes or pre-prepared ingredients. Yes, you’re paying more on a unit basis, but practically speaking, for produce and herbs, you probably don’t use everything and throw stuff out. In the mean time, you’re storing the things you’re going to throw out.

        I’ll suggest a high end blender like Vitamix or Blend Tech. I have the later, and it does double duty as a food processor. Between my Blend Tech and KitchenAid, I’m able to skip the food processor. I have counter space for two of the three, so I suppose I have more room than OP does. Neither the Kitchen Aid nor the Blend Tech are cheap, but when counter space is at a premium, well, you have to compromise on something.

        1. chickabiddy*

          I cook for two, but I do the salad bar thing frequently if I only need a little bit of something. Sure, it costs more per ounce, but if the rest of the celery (or whatever) ends up wilting in my refrigerator drawer then I am actually not realizing any savings.

    3. Dan*

      Wow. Are you in NYC? I have a 1-BDR apartment in suburban DC, and I thought my kitchen was small. I have counter space for a couple of things, plus a little bit of storage. I also converted my old computer desk into an auxillary counter in my kitchen where a “kitchen table” type of thing would otherwise be. (I have space for a “dining room”, so the idea of a kitchen table in a not-huge apartment seems like an odd use of space.)

    4. MsCHX*

      Buy a small island/cart on casters. I downsized my house (half the space) and have a TINY kitchen now. There is almost zero counter space. That thing comes in handy for me!

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        I have had two of those now in different kitchens. They really are lifesavers if you can squeeze one in. It gives extra storage too.

    5. INTP*

      If the kitchen layout is open at all, you can expand the size – buy a kitchen island at Ikea, or you can do what I did and buy a basic wire kitchen rack with wheels and put a cutting board on top of it. It’s a mini-counter with storage. If the kitchen layout isn’t open, you can store it just outside the kitchen and roll it in when you need the counter space. I’ve also been known to take larger cooking projects outside the kitchen, to my expandable table.

    6. Anono-me*

      Under the cabinet mounted microwave toaster oven combo, if permited.

      Small French press. (Nuke the water, stir it and nuke it again if you are a coffee or tea snob.)

      Eggs*, good cheese*, quinoa, and salad in a bag are your food friends . They can be combined with each other or multiple other items for a variety of easy meals. * Or vegan substitutes.

      If you eat meat, grocery store rotisserie chicken is a wonderful time and prep saver.

      If people are aware of your micro kitchen and offer to host you, take them up on the offer; show appreciation; but take them up on the offer. Kind people enjoy the opportunity to do kind things.

    7. Kate R. Pillar*

      This sounds exactly like my student-accomodation kitchen back in the day…
      Seconding the toaster oven and kitchen island/cart! An electric water kettle also was very useful, as those small hobs tend to be less than powerful. Use the space outside the kitchen – take your chopping board to the desk or window sill, let your rice finish cooking under your bed covers…
      Don’t discount the frozen food aisle because of your lack of freezer space – most things ca be stored in the fridge for a few days and pre-prepared veggies or a pizza to pop into the toaster oven (halved, it was a small one) were staples for me even as my kitchen had no freezer at all.

    8. Jules the First*

      Stir fry is going to be your friend. Buy yourself a really sharp box grater – almost any veg can be shredded and cooked in a frying pan stir-fry style.

      Think smaller cuts of meat (if you eat meat) – chicken breast, steak, ground meats – which cook quickly and can go straight from packet to pan.

      Eggs, cheese, canned beans, canned fish, red lentils (because they cook faster and don’t need soaking) all super useful. Think rice, quinoa, quick-cook barley, whole grain pasta, asian noodles. Also couscous, which just needs boiling water and a covered bowl. Ooh – or crepes, which can be savoury or sweet!

      If you like to have your veggies on the side, I strongly recommend a silicone steamer insert which lets you add your veggies to the top of the rice pan, freeing up a burner for other things. Also a divided frying pan (sometimes called an omelette pan) can be super handy in a small space; if that’s not an option, big poaching rings or pancake rings can help separate things in a single frying pan.

      If you need culinary inspiration, look for boating cook books – they’ll have recipes designed to be executed in very compact spaces with limited prep.

    9. Nye*

      Look for no/low cooking options, especially if the weather’s fine where you are. I spend a lot of time away from home on fieldwork and field accommodations generally have tragic kitchens. I’m a big fan of buying really good produce/other food and eating it minimally prepared, in fairly simple dishes. A few of my simple favorites:

      Caprese (tomatoes, mozzarella, basil)
      Prosciutto & melon
      Panzanella
      Good cheese & charcuterie
      Good bread & spreads
      Salad with lots of good stuff

      Trader Joe’s, if you’ll be near one, is also pretty good for food that requires no/minimal cooking.

      Anyway, I find it really useful not to have to cook every night in an inadequate kitchen. If this were a permanent situation, I’d have different suggestions, but since it’s just 6 months it may be worth keeping things simple (and dreaming of all the cooking you can do once you’re in a better kitchen).

    10. matcha123*

      I live in a small place and it sounds like your kitchen is a lot larger than what I have. My fridge is basically a small dorm fridge.
      I buy food every night and prepare it on the floor (no counter). If I can, I try to get enough to take for lunch the next day, but most of the time breakfast and lunch are bought somewhere near my office. The supermarket by my place has a lot of prepared food that I eat and I can get by without cooking.
      I would recommend an electric kettle for boiling water and a single coffee filter thing (if you drink coffee). It takes longer to make coffee that way, but you do save space. If you can fit a microwave on the floor someplace, I found that my quality of life improved significantly when I could buy meals to heat up. A skillet is fine for toasting bread, making fried rice or even something like kimchi jjigae.

  43. BRR*

    One of my favorite things done on here has been the favorite product thread. What’s a product or brand that you’re over the moon with? I recently got a purple brand mattress and it came with a seat cushion. I’m in love. My bed is so comfortable and it has helped my back so much.

    1. Pennalynn Lott*

      I got in on the Purple Pillow kickstarter. Can’t wait for it to ship! I’d love a Purple mattress, but I got my Tempurpedic just a couple of years ago, so I can’t see myself coughing up a grand for a new mattress just yet.

    2. periwinkle*

      Clarks shoes. They’re hardly an unknown around here but still worth a mention! I’m phasing out all the warm colors from my wardrobe (if I look like crap in browns and creams, why the bleep did I have them?) and realized that most of shoes are brown or otherwise not suited for my edited wardrobe.

      I picked up some ankle boots including two pairs of Clarks from their Cloudstepper collection (Sillian Frey in black and Sillian Chell in aubergine) and ZOMG SO COMFY.

      1. fposte*

        Heh. I have the Sillian Frey on order. Right now I’m amassing piles of the Sillian Jetay, because they’re the best shoes for my feet when they get sore but shouldn’t go barefoot. (They are about half the weight of most shoes.)

        And Flor rug tiles. They are so much fun, and they stick to each other and not the floor so you don’t hurt the floor. If you want a rug that’s not the standard size or just want to get creative with colors and patterns, Flor is great. I have them in several rooms plus the basement now, and there’s still one pattern that I wish I had a place to put.

      2. TeaLady*

        As a Brit, Clarks shoes are a given and a trusted friend to my feet! Growing up, we didn’t have much money but my parents would never skimp on shoes (and I had very narrow feet) so it was Clarks for school. In my twenties, I explored fashion shoes, in my thirties I was broke so they were a treat at sale time, but now I am more comfortably placed, they are my first choice. My feet are now wide and don’t have much feeling due to MS so I need something comfy and stable and want something stylish and Clarks fit the bill. My winter shoes are Janey Mae in black and in aubergine … feels like I am not wearing shoes!

        1. periwinkle*

          Zulily (dot com) regularly offers Clarks at a discount of 40% or more. It takes a while to receive orders from Zulily and you need to know your size; luckily Clarks seem consistent and I can just order my usual 6W with confidence. Worth the wait!

    3. Not Karen*

      The Body Shop’s hemp hand protector. It is the only lotion I’ve found that can handle my extremely dry skin. Expensive, but totally worth it. (I go through ~one $20 tube per year.)

    4. Colette*

      Not a product, exactly, but I’ve started ordering my groceries online and I love it. I don’t have to wander the store looking for something I buy once a year, I can check the cupboard to see what I have, and it takes ten minutes to pick them up. (We don’t have delivery here.)

      The funny part is that I don’t even dislike grocery shopping, but I really like not having to do it.

    5. Red*

      Shea Moisture, all the way! They make hair stuff, lotion and the like, face wash and such, and even makeup now. Literally any undesirable ingredient I can think of is not in their products, they aren’t super expensive, and holy bajeezus they smell divine! Oh, and they work. My skin and hair have never looked so good. I cannot get over their Coconut and Hibiscus conditioner. It’s perfect.

    6. Stellaaaaa*

      I’m loving the Yes To Coconut eye balm. No fancy ingredients or anti-aging trickery, just a nice coconut cream that doesn’t sting my eyeballs. I recently moved to a place with harder water and I was really feeling it in the skin around my eyes.

    7. Pennalynn Lott*

      Bee Bar Lotion from Honey House Naturals, made in Washington state (but available online!). Particularly the Citrus flavor. It’s not a liquid or cream lotion, but a hexagonal bar that you hold in your hands to let it melt a little, then rub it into your skin. My nails have grown longer and stronger since starting to use it about 9 months ago, plus the skin on my hands, arms and elbows (and ankles and knees!) looks and feels great. Everyone on my extended gift-giving list is getting one this year.

      Plus, Honey House Naturals’ bar soap, lip balm, and cream lotion are also fan-flipping-tastic! Again, my favorite scent is Citrus. The corresponding lip balm is Mandarin Orange and — no lie — it smells like fresh oranges. But I’m also fond of the Spiced Honey lip balm, too.

      1. rubyrose*

        Just went to their website – how cool! I’ve got to start traveling some for my job and was starting to think about what to do about moisturizer. Thanks so much!

        1. Pennalynn Lott*

          I never even thought about that! A Bee Bar, of any size, would definitely make it through security easier than liquids or creams.

    8. rubyrose*

      Young Living Essential Oils. Pricey, yes, but they are not synthetic and not diluted.

      Maharishi Ayurveda Pirant Balm. Good for respiratory stuff, but also any body aches, muscle stiffness, joint stiffness and inflammation. For those of you who don’t know what at balm is, picture Vicks VaporRub made with 51 herbs and oils. I have used this for over 20 years, first on a partially fused ankle and more recently on my lower back. I originally was able to get this in the US and they they quit carrying it. I tracked it down to the UK and got it there for a few years, until they discontinued it. I now get it from New Zealand.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I have just started getting interested in oils. So far I have peppermint for me for pain and lavender for my dog for calming. He EATS it! At one point I had carelessly left the bottle on the table. He took it and tried to get the lid off. (He can take lids off of things, so this is not a stretch for him. Yes, he needs lavender.)

        What have you tried and liked so far?

        1. rubyrose*

          Your dog – oh my! I’ve heard that with animals you need to take their lead on what they like and don’t like. Yours has made his wishes known!

          I’ve been using a combination of peppermint and wintergreen to clear up my sinuses and entire respiratory tract. And the peppermint is great for mental clarity, so I put it in the diffuser very first thing in the morning (I work from home). Grapefruit is also wonder with this combination.

          For pain – a combination of Panaway (acute) and Relieve It (chronic), mixed in a lotion.

          At night – Stress Away. I did use it during the day on my last job, but now only need it at night. Peace and Calming is also great for relaxation.

          I’ve started using frankincense with lavender, tangerine, and Joy in the morning, right before I meditate. They are mixed in a spray bottle with coconut oil. I just put small amounts on my face, neck, and feet (total of about 10 spritzes). It really helps me to center and feel prepared for the day.

          There is a podcast called The Essential Oil Revolution (Samantha Lee Wright). It has a wealth of information.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Yeah, animals can be self-medicating/treating. I let my last dog tell me what nutrition he needed for which ever concern his aging body had that day. He was accurate and most times he even knew how much he had to take. (If I gave him too much he would spit the pill out onto the floor. Because he downed the previous x amount, I knew he did not need the one he spit out.)
            I reeally worked with this dog, this is not something I would do with a random pet. Nor would I recommend it to someone else if they had doubts about doing this.

            Thanks for the personal experience testimony. I have noted a few of these that sound right up my ally. I will definitely check out that podcast. Thank you!

        2. Hrovitnir*

          In case you don’t know, essential oils are pretty toxic if ingested, so make sure you store the bottle away from where he can get into the whole bottle. The little bit he can lick off himself should be OK, but if he managed to get into the bottle it could be bad.

    9. Mags*

      Herbivore – I love their products so much they may cure me of my skincare product addiction.

      Coach shoes – In an attempt to simplify/declutter all areas of my life, I have recently gotten into actually paying for one or two quality items which will last, rather than acquiring a dozen cheap items which are destroyed in 6 months. Coach shoes seem to strike a great balance between comfort, quality, and price.

    10. nep*

      Along these lines, anyone here use Bioelements skin products? (Wish they’d send free samples w/o a purchase but it looks like I’ve got to buy something to get some samples.)

    11. Clever Name*

      I love my Prius. I’ve had it for 11 years, and it hasn’t had a single problem. It’s such a brilliant car.

      My awapuhi shampoo smells amazing and my hair is crazy soft.

      Carmex hand cream. It’s the only thing that keeps my fingers from developing cracks in the winter.

      Burt’s Bees lip balm. I live in a dry climate, and this stuff is the absolute best.

      Anything made by Method or Mrs Meyers.

      1. BRR*

        Ooh speaking of cars i love my mazda3 hatchback. It’s pretty feature loaded, roomy (I’m 6″3), and gets great gas mileage. I’m actually sad I don’t need have a longer commute, the driving part of it anyways.

        1. periwinkle*

          If we’re giving shout outs to cars, I’ll stay in the Mazda family and give kudos to my CX-5 (works like a small crossover, drives like a sporty sedan) and MX-5 Miata (the cure for the blues, even when it’s too cold or damp to drop the top).

          And just a general shout out to backup cameras. I installed one on my previous daily driver and how on Earth did I manage without one all these years? I’m very short and cannot see well enough to back into spaces, back out of spaces without trepidation, or parallel park. Now, no problems.

          1. HoVertical*

            Shout out to my 2005 Subaru Impreza wagon…I am its third owner, and it’s still <150K miles. I love it! It's a wee iron beastie.

    12. DragoCucina*

      OBags. Love the mix and match ability.
      Clarks Shoes. They wear and ware.
      A friend just started War Paint Cosmetics and I politely tried a few products. I didn’t have to pretend to love them.

    13. Lily Evans*

      I’m obsessed with the NARS velvet matte lip pencil in the Dragon Girl color. It’s absolutely my favorite red lip and I’ve tried quite a few at this point! It’s definitely pricey, but I bought mine over a year ago and wear it at least once a week and it’s just now on it’s last bit of product.

    14. EmilyAnn*

      Nordic ware pans. I am a huge baker and she I first started I’d be baking cookies and you hear that weird sound in the oven, almost like a crash. Bought Nordicware pans 3 years ago, haven’t heard it since. They also make beautiful bundt pans (their signature item).

    15. ginger ale for all*

      Avon bubble bath. I have had other brand but Avon gets the scent level at a pleasant low. Other brands have had problems with their containers. The Calgon boxes have had powder leak from the bottoms and I have had other plastic bottles break. Cleaning up a soapy substance when the only thing you were looking to do was have a nice relaxing hot bath is the pits. Avoid the winter rose scent in Avon though, it is overpowering and fake. The ocean breeze scent doesn’t smell like an ocean breeze, it smells like a men’s cologne counter.

  44. Anonymous Poster*

    I’ve been looking into joining the Foreign Service and have my Oral Assessments coming up soon. But I’m afraid I’ve built up a rosy vision of what it is in my mind, and since the process is so involved I know that I’m developing that whole, “Look what I’ve done to get here, it must be amazing!” mindset that isn’t always true. I’m wondering if any AAM’ers are in the US Foreign Service, and what you’d want to share with someone looking into it and going through the application process. Tips and pointers for the Oral Assessment? Tips and pointers for adjusting to that kind of life, and was it all worth it?

    Also personal context, I’m married with no kids, but we’d like to start having some soon. What sort of role would that play? And what’s the general social life like?

    Thanks to any who are willing to share!

    1. Sandy*

      There are TONS of blogs out there about the US Foreign Service. They should help give you a picture of the good parts and the bad parts of the life. I suggest starting with Travel Orders, she has a great collection of flag day stories on her site and links to a huge collection of other FS blogs.

    2. Be confident!*

      Don’t sabotage yourself out by comparing yourself to others and you’ll probably do fine. If you don’t, remember that most people have to take the test several times to pass. I passed on the first time (yes, self-brag), and what I most took out of the experience was how many tools there were in the waiting room trying to make you feel bad about yourself. They were really trying to pysch out the competition to increase their own chances. Note: I passed; they did not. You know your stuff, and you just need to go in prepared to show it.

      On a related note, I managed to screw up getting in the elevator to go to the testing site. There were a lot of middle-aged white guys in suits to follow, and my little group followed the wrong one. We eventually got to the right place, and despite being embarrassed, it did not negatively impact my scores. Just be confident.

    1. Lillie Lane*

      +1. I remember when they were fostering Eve and she was having a hard time trusting and feeling at home. Now it looks like she couldn’t imagine being happier anywhere else! So sweet.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I really was despairing about her in those days! She just would not come around, and I was really worried about what that would mean for her once she was back at the shelter and up for adoption. But she is so loving and happy now.

  45. LizB*

    After 7 years of heavy wear, my winter coat is still in amazingly good condition, but I think it’s time for a replacement — it’s getting kind of tight around the hips, and the color doesn’t really go with the rest of my wardrobe anymore. I’m planning on going to LL Bean to try things on sometime this afternoon. I’m in Minneapolis, so I’ll be getting something rated for very cold temperatures. I’d love to get one down coat and one nicer-looking wool coat, but I’m not sure I’ll have the funds for it. I also need a new pair of gloves… I lost one glove from my favorite pair. :( Any recommendations for coat or glove brands to check out?

      1. Grumpy*

        Canada Goose if you want to spend the money. Those suckers are warm.
        For reference, I regularly stand outside in howling -45, waiting for transit, pondering my life choices…

        1. TL -*

          Canada Goose is the best. I have one and I break it out for the heavy duty cold (I live in middle New England). It covers me from knees to ears and only my forehead and shins get cold.

    1. MinnetonkaMom*

      I’m in Minneapolis too and recently bought the J.Crew Factory Long Belted Puffer. I was going to wear it today and it was way too warm. So it should work well when we’re sub zero!

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I have a 3/4-length down coat from Lands’ End and I looooovvvvvveee it. Bought it a few years ago, and that thing is super warm. I also got my nicer wool coat from Lands’ End. Both coats were well under $300– I think I paid $150 for each.

    3. Chaordic One*

      I’ve had good luck with coats from Land’s End, too. After I first ordered something from them they started sending me daily emails, which are kind of annoying, but they hooked me by offering me a 33% to 40% discount that will apply to non-sale items at least once a week and usually more often.

    4. periwinkle*

      And another recommendation for Lands End. Their quality has been all over the place recently, much to my dismay, but they still seem to understand outerwear. Their wool coats are nice – I have the wool car coat, currently about $240 for plus and tall sizes, $220 for regular and petite.

    5. Damn it Hardison!*

      I also love my Lands End down coat. I have the long commuter coat and another one that is mid-thigh. Both are great for shoveling snow – they got me through the nightmare 2014 winter in Boston (120+ inches of snow in about 8 weeks)

    6. Elizabeth West*

      Land’s End is okay. In 2014, I bought a trench / raincoat from Eddie Bauer (tall size, yay!) with a button-in thermal lining that has full-length sleeves. It’s waterproof and windproof. I have not touched my parka for the last two winters. :) All I need is a scarf and a hat in really awful wind, and I’m good to go.

      Still searching for decent gloves.

    7. HannahS*

      I’m in southern Ontario, and I got a very reasonably-priced (like $100 CAD) knee-length puffy down jacket at Gap of all places, and to my shock it’s been incredibly good. I bought it in response to the Polar Vortex winter, which was good, because the following year was worse. It’s pretty unflattering–turns me into a fluffy rectangle but oh man, it’s SO warm. I have a wool coat that I wear until it’s about 5-10 degrees below freezing. I got it at RW & Co, and while it’s beautiful, it’s really heavy and a bit scratchy around the neck. I don’t have any favourite glove/mitten brands, but I’ve found that shearling mittens are really, really good for bitterly cold and windy days.

  46. Rebecca*

    I have a conundrum, so throwing it out there in hopes that someone has a suggestion. I live in a rural area, and we recently got a cell tower, but I’m pretty much directly under it (it’s on a hill nearby), so the signal is weak. I had an older LG Tracfone, and was able to get one signal bar in the house after the tower was constructed. I upgraded to a new ZTE Tracfone, and now no service in the house. Apparently the internal phone antenna isn’t as good (?). I also have a Comcast VOIP landline, but that’s been taken over by scammers mostly. I rarely get a call that’s important, but I keep it due to the poor cell service so I have a phone in case of emergency.

    So, I was thinking either a signal booster (sort of expensive) or some way of getting calls over an app, maybe, as my phone connects to WiFi. Basically, I’d like to know if someone calls or sends a text to my phone, when I’m in my house.

    Any ideas?

    1. Observer*

      Have you considered changing providers? In any case, call tracfone and complain – perhaps they will give you a signal booster

      Is the phone you have a smartphone? If yes, WhatsApp is great, but you need to be calling someone who has whatsapp as well. The Google Hangouts dialer will allow you to call regular numbers even to someone without a google account.

    2. Dan*

      I’m not a huge talker/data user, so I’ve looked at ways at keeping my telcom expenses to the bare minimum. It’s got nothing to do with cell coverage (for the most part), but what I’ve done may be relevant to you:

      1) I use Ting as my cell provider. It’s a T-Mobile (or Sprint, your choice, but Sprint is CDMA and T-Mobile is GSM, so your phone is going to dictate your network unless you have a multi band phone) MVNO. They charge by the “bucket” for data, text, and voice. A bucket is a range, and charged after you’ve used the service for the month. I keep my texts to nothing, my voice under 100 minutes, and my data under 100 MB. My bill is $18/mo.

      2) How do I work around some of that? Google Voice is your friend. GV actually handles its texts over data, so if you’re on a WiFi connection, you’re not paying cell data or text charges. If you’re off WiFi, a text uses your data package.

      3) For phone calls, I use a mix of two things: Skype and GV. With Skype, calls to other Skype users are free, as are calls to 800 numbers. In the US, calls to other landlines are 2 cents/minute or something like that. In addition, a few months ago, GV introduced VOIP calling, so I can still use my phone and duck the cell minutes. By far, I talk to my dad the most, and he set up a Skype account, and it’s pretty easy for the two of us to talk for nothing.

      4) Downsides: GV text app doesn’t support the sending of MMS messages. I can receive them from others, but they come through email. Skype doesn’t support 911 calls, but GV even on VOIP should.

      If you go the GV route, I think you can get a number for free. If you want to port an existing one over, there’s a one-time fee of $20. (Or was when I did mine a couple of years ago). There are no ongoing service charges with GV, it’s absolutely free. With Ting, there is a $6 line fee every month, so even if you use no data, no texts, and no voice, you’re still out $6. The other upshot to Ting is that taxes are about $1 a month. With the major carriers, mine used to be $10 or so.

      Yes, I get my telcom needs taken care of for under $20/mo. I’m not a heavy cell data user or talker, which helps keeps costs down — and why I went with Ting, because they’re very friendly for lite users.

      I held off getting a smart phone for a long time because I wasn’t a heavy phone user and spend most of my time in front of or near or a computer. At the time, everybody wanted to charge $80/mo or so which included the phone. When “bring your own phone” plans became popular, and I found Ting, I was thrilled. I have a Nexus 5 which I bought almost 3 years ago, and my smart phone plan is actually cheaper than my old brick phone plan. It’s funny, if I could keep my Nexus 5 for more than 30 months, it would actually work out to be cheaper than if I would have just stayed with my old brick phone and plan. (Brick phone plan was $30/mo.)

      Hope this helps.

      1. Rebecca*

        I’ve had a Tracfone for years now, and have quite a few minutes built up :) I don’t talk on it a lot. I have a smart phone now, because it suits my needs: it connects to WiFi, updates apps on WiFi, it’s a portable alarm clock, I use an app that shows where and how far I’ve hiked, I can text people and take pictures that upload to my Google cloud. I check the weather first thing in the AM, use it for Facebook and other apps in the house, and I don’t talk a lot on it. That’s why I don’t have monthly contract phone plan. It’s too expensive for what I would use it for. I spend less than $9/month after buying my phone, and I typically use the phone for 2-3 years.

        Thank you for the suggestions! I wonder if someone calls me on my cell if I could forward it to a Google Voice number while I’m home. That might be an option.

        1. Dan*

          Other way around, you give out your GV number and tell it where to forward. mine just forwards to my cell, but I could set it to work.

          If you want to keep your current number but use it as your GV, that is where $20 comes in handy.

    3. Aurora Leigh*

      I have family that lives in an area with literally no cell signal at all. They have Republic Wireless. The phones were pricey, but I guess the plan is cheap and they are able to make calls over Wi-Fi when they are home and use a regular signal when traveling.

      1. shorty*

        I’ve had Republic Wireless since they started 5 years ago. This is exactly what I was going to recommend. If you can’t afford the up front cost of a phone you can get on a payment plan. You can also bring your own phone (but only certain ones will work). A friend of mine bought a new phone on clearance for $150 and brought it to Republic Wireless. Works great.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      If you have a Google Voice number, check out the Hangouts Dialer app, which lets you dial out on your wireless connection in case you don’t get a good cell connection.

  47. Amy Farrah Fowler*

    I was invited to a friend’s wedding and don’t know what to do. If I go, that means I see “Mary”, a mutual friend turned frenemy. Mary used to kick and punch me, but then tell people that I was “being mean”, so I would have people come up to me and ask me why I was mean to her! People know that Mary acts like that, but I just don’t want to deal with her dramatics. If I don’t go, I would feel bad and I don’t want to let one person to be the reason why I don’t go.

    1. fposte*

      You would feel bad not going and you don’t want her to keep you from being there, so go. Talk to other people.

      (How long ago was this, and how old was Mary? Sounds like something’s seriously wrong there.)

      1. H*

        That was my first thought too! It sounds like something primary school kids might do, anything older would be…unhinged

    2. Dynamic Beige*

      Will you know many other people there? If so, can you recruit them as “Mary”-shields? Hopefully she’s grown up but you can always have one person with you wherever you go so that you don’t get attacked. There’s also the art of “Oh hi Mary! Wasn’t the ceremony beautiful?/Aren’t you happy for $MutualFriendBride? Hey, there’s $SomeoneElseI’dRatherTalkTo/Other excuse such as needing to use the Girls’ Room, getting a drink, favourite song is playing time to dance.” With a big enough wedding, you could avoid her all night, just by making a point to talk to other people.

    3. catsAreCool*

      I think I might be afraid to go to something where I might meet someone who would physically attack me. Did this happen when she was a teenager or a kid because if not, that’s pretty scary.

      1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

        Sorry- yes, I need to clarify. She was like this when we were kids. (There is a bit of a back story, but I didn’t want the post to be horrendously long. “Mary” grew up in a tough environment and was lucky to get out of there in one piece.)

    4. Stellaaaaa*

      I have very limited good will toward people (like your friend who’s getting married) who continue to be friends with people who treat others badly. She’s not really your friend. She’s more concerned with her own comfort and convenience over thinking long and hard about the kind of person she wants to be.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      You have this set up so you can’t win. No matter which one you pick you have decided to be “mad at you”.

      My suggestion is to decide that you have to do what is best for you, not anyone else.

      Which ever way you decide tell yourself that you are satisfied with your decision.

      See, in a way, you are beating YOU up, by not allowing yourself to win this one. You are being Mary to YOU. Go gently here, be kind to you.

      Here, try these on, see how they feel:

      I have decided not to go to Jane’s wedding because I don’t have to deal with Mary’s drama anymore and I will continue not to deal with it.

      OR

      I have decided to go to Jane’s wedding because I love my friend Jane and I want to be there for her. If anything happens with Mary, I will keep my phone with me and call the police.

      Which one gives you the most relief?

    6. MsCHX*

      If the bride is your FRIEND, you should go and avoid Mary. It really isn’t that hard to avoid people at the average sized wedding!

        1. Perse's Mom*

          That would be a no-go for me. It would also make me question how much of a friend this bride is, if she knows about this history and still seated you two at the same table. If she doesn’t know, I would ask if she can move one or the other of us. “We don’t get along and I want to focus on you and [soon-to-be-spouse] rather than worrying about/dealing with any Mary-induced drama.”

        2. fposte*

          If the punching were happening now, that would probably be a dealbreaker for me, but childhood stuff is another matter. How much of another matter depends on how far you are from that childhood and what’s happened since, but if what you’re talking about with Mary is from several years ago and she doesn’t do it any more, I’d go to the wedding and sit at the table. Not saying you need to forgive and forget, but if she’s no longer a threat, she can be mentally relegated to somebody you dislike a lot, and you can sit with people you dislike–probably half the people in the wedding party are doing it :-).

    7. ..Kat..*

      Can you ask to be seated at different table?

      If you go, see the Captain Awkward blog for ways to shut her down.

    8. Anono-me*

      If you believe it will be physically safe; I hope you try to go. This is your good friend and a very important happy day for her. Please don’t let the past control and detract from your happiness now.
      And if you RSVPed yes already, then you really should try to go (unless you feel unsafe). No show guests that RSVPed ‘yes’ are almost universally a huge deal at weddings, especially more formal ones.

      However, if you think it would be physically unsafe or if this is just too much drama and and too many bad memories to deal with you are not a bad friend for RSVPing ‘No.’ and sending a nice card.

      Please note-If this was recent or if this was an adult who had a history of being physically abusive; my advice would be to tell your friend you won’t be there and to reevaluate the friendship.

  48. Gene*

    While waiting for the egg whites to warm to room temperature to make the angel food cake, I made some catnip cat pillows (about 4×4). Tossed one to one the cats, now she’s sleeping it off and the pillow is soaking wet with drool. :-)

    1. Hellanon*

      Friend of mine brings catnip sachets over for the kitties – she makes them out of baby socks by putting a spoonful or two of ‘nip in the toe and then knotting it off. Less cute by miles, particularly once it’s been dragged up and down the stairs and drooled on, but pretty durable…

  49. mousemom*

    Help!

    I’ve been estranged from one of my sisters for about 7 years. She cornered my (then) teenage daughter and told her that I was never anyone she could depend on, I didn’t give her any emotional support, on and on and on. (This is the sister who, when she adopted dogs, had me come to her house at least twice a day while she and her husband were at work to take the dogs out for walks, play with them, etc.; would call me and tell me to be at her house at a specific time on specific date to let in the furnace repairman or other service personnel; other types of similar behavior.) I had put up with her constant negativity for years (hated her jobs, disliked her husband, hated her coworkers/bosses, life sucked, her daughters didn’t want her to be an ongoing part of their lives – I’m sure you all get the picture) and tried to be a shoulder/sounding board, but her going off on my daughter was the final straw. I stopped speaking to her or answering her phone calls.

    She showed up at a lunch date my husband and son and I were having with her adult daughter and the daughter’s kids and asked me if there was something wrong – this was about 6 months after the episode with my daughter. I said yes, but that if she wanted to discuss it, the lunch was not the time to do it and she should call me when she was ready to talk about it. She’s never called.

    I have encouraged my husband and kids to attend family events where she will be in attendance, but I have not gone myself. I’ve been told by other siblings that she asks about me, how I’m doing, wishes we weren’t estranged, but she has no idea why I’m being so cold and aloof. I’ve told my sibs that they do NOT have to be an apologist for me and that if she really wants to make any kind of reconciliation, she knows how to contact me.

    With Thanksgiving coming up, her daughter is hosting and has invited us. My husband and son will be going (my daughter is married and lives out of state, too far to drive). Several people have asked me to please come; they miss seeing me and think that enough time has gone by that my sister and I should forgive and forget. However, while I do miss the other members of my family, I really have no desire to be in the company of my sister, who will most likely try to act as if nothing has ever happened. I also don’t wish to put a damper on everyone else’s holiday by refusing to engage with my sister.

    I guess what I’m asking is: Should I give in and go, even though I still feel very much wronged by my sister? Ever since we were kids, I always had to be the one to suck it up and apologize to keep the peace, even when it wasn’t my fault. I haven’t missed her negativity and don’t feel that I want to be “the better person” and act as if everything is just peachy. Other family members seem to be more bothered by the distance between us than I am and keep pointing out that we’re not getting any younger (?!) (we’re both in our 60s); they keep saying that if “something awful happens” and we haven’t made up, I’ll regret it, but I don’t really have that feeling.

    Any suggestions/recommendations?

    1. Colette*

      A few thoughts:
      – you stopped answering her calls, then told her that if she wanted to talk about what was wrong, she should call you
      – you send your husband and son to events with your family but don’t go yourself. That’s a little odd – it’s great that your husband is willing to do that, but it’s not his family except through you
      – because you don’t want to see your sister, it sounds like you have cut off contact with your whole family, not just her
      – you’re afraid that if you go, she’ll act like nothing is wrong. That’s not actually a terrib