weekend free-for-all – November 26-27, 2016

eve-eve-eveThis 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: Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke. I recommended this last year too, but I’m re-reading it and rediscovering how much I loved it the first time. Basically, picture Jane Austen but in a magical universe.

{ 1,006 comments… read them below }

  1. shorty

    Ugh, money and family dynamics! I got engaged recently but I’ve been putting off wedding planning because of some family issues. We’d really like to get married in the state where we live, which is halfway across the country from our families. The problem is one of my siblings wouldn’t be able to afford to attend if it was at our preferred location. She lives well beyond her means, spends more than she earns, is considering bankruptcy, etc.

    Should I pay for her to attend? She would need help covering unpaid leave from work, travel, lodging, etc. It would not be an insignificant amount of money, but it would not be too burdensome on me. I’d be so sad if she missed our wedding, and I think she would be crushed too. But I’m feeling really icky about the possibility of paying for her because she continues to make poor decisions that are putting her deeper in debt. If I don’t pay for her to attend I fear she’ll put it on her (nearly maxed out) credit card and come anyway.

    I know this probably sounds selfish of me but please understand where I’m coming from – my other sibling and I offered to pay for financial advising and the sibling who needs it declined. (She said she’d love to take us up on it but she needs to pay off her credit card first… umm, what?!?). I also gave her a sizable amount of money to help with bills – which she really appreciated – but she continues to buy things she doesn’t need and cannot afford. With all that in mind I can’t stomach the thought of giving her another handout to enable this lifestyle that she can’t afford.

    Any advice or commiseration would be appreciated!

    1. MsCHX

      This sounds like my sister! You all will have to stop enabling at some point, but I can see how your wedding wouldn’t be the time you’d like to draw the line in the sand. Maybe she can room with someone since everyone has to travel?

      We also had a wedding in a city where neither of our families were (but not a “destination” wedding) and my sister wasn’t going to go but ended up riding (and rooming) with my parents. So I would suggest you perhaps pay for her airfare and let her figure the rest out. DO NOT PAY HER ‘LOST WAGES’!!!!

    2. Gaia

      My sister and mother are terrible with money. When they do work, they spend all of their money before their bills are paid and often have to ask to “borrow” money to meet basic needs.

      I have taken a firm stance that I no longer loan them money for anything. I will – very occasionally – gift them small amounts but it is never a loan and it is never significant (or repeated).

      I think you need to consider how upsetting it will be for you if she doesn’t attend (or if you’re worried about how she attended). Perhaps you could offer it to her as a gift (only if you can truly afford that) but make it part of a bigger conversation about your concerns? She may or may not be open to that. People with bad money habits often don’t like to admit to them.

    3. danr

      Have a small wedding locally, then have a big reception later for your families back at their location. A cousin of mine did that with all the reception trimmings and everyone was happy.

      1. Natalie

        We did that, too, because we wanted a small wedding but my in-laws wanted to include their family in another state. So we went to where the in-laws lived and had a nice backyard barbecue thing. It was really fun and satisfied my husband’s mother, so I take it as a win.

    4. Artemesia

      Sit down and decide what is most important to you, having her there or teaching her a lesson she won’t learn anyway. One possibility is to buy her a ticket and room and make a commitment to yourself that this is the last time. People like your sister never change as long as family bails them out constantly. But think of this as a present to yourself especially if you think you will really regret not having her there.

      See if she will accept and attend a Dave Ramsey financial peace seminar in her area. This guy is annoying in some ways especially his attempt to ram his religion down the throats of his listeners — but his financial advice is totally perfect for people like your sister.

      1. Honeybee

        I feel like there have to be other great, lesser-known, less annoying financial advisors out there besides Dave Ramsay.

        1. Artemesia

          Probably but he is really very good for people just trying to get a grip on their finances — especially if they are fairly low income and have debt.

        2. ginger ale for all

          He is everywhere and he has the DVDs, cds, podcast, books, and radio show. So it makes him an easy recommendation. There is so much reinforcement. Just know that he has beliefs that comes out and he gives weird job advice (he believes that bringing someone a box of doughnuts, then they will give you a job or become a client).

    5. Anono-me

      Congratulations!

      Don’t give your sister any cash money.

      If it turns out that you decide having your sister at your wedding is worth paying for, and it sounds like it is; pay her way, but don’t give her cash. Buy her a nonrefundable ticket. Arrangement for her to share a hotel room and give the other person the money, pay any bills she will need help with directly, etc.

      Also, next time she needs financial help; please consider making meeting with a financial professional a non-negotiable part of the deal.

    6. Nicola M

      No. You shouldn’t pay for her to attend. Imho, by paying for her to attend, you’re only enabling her destructive behavior. She’ll continue to use you for her crutch when she overspends.

    7. fposte

      I don’t think it sounds selfish. A family isn’t necessarily a financial commune where money is required to be equalized between all participants regardless of effort.

      Can you take your larger issues about your sister out of this? If you paid for her plane tickets (directly) and hotel (directly) as a way of buying yourself what you want, would that work for you? A lot of people can’t afford to attend wedding travel and get help from family. It doesn’t mean you’re enabling her lifestyle, just deciding if it’s something that makes sense to pay for for your enjoyment of the wedding.

      That doesn’t close off a larger conversation about money, but your sister has made it pretty clear–she plans to live the way she does until circumstances prevent her, and you’re not going to counsel her away from that. I would make the decision about buying her a wedding ticket on that understanding and never bring up the wedding subsidy in any further conversation about money with her.

      1. periwinkle

        I second this advice. Pay (directly) for her two big travel expenses but that’s it. Absolutely do not “cover” her time off! You are not responsible for her lack of vacation time, lack of planning, and lack of financial sense. If she tries to guilt-trip you into covering additional expenses, you’ll have to decide if it’s worth it. A couple days’ worth of (reasonably priced!) meals, maybe. Her salary, no. Extending her trip so she can stay longer while you pay for it, no.

      2. shorty

        I really like this way of thinking about things– that it’s more about paying for what I want and that any travel costs would be like a gift for myself. Thanks!

    8. Wrench Turner

      There are boundaries you can set but still invite her to celebrate. Don’t pay for her time off (seriously) but maybe her flight out; see if a friend/family local to you can put her up in a spare room so nobody is paying for a hotel.

      She is a grown ass adult, and her bad choices are hers to make and consequences to deal with when the funds run dry. This is a celebration for your family, not an investment portfolio, so deal with that separately.

    9. Anon for now

      Wedding planning, family, and money work together to make the most frustrating problems, don’t they? My fiancé and I are pretty young, and our families live six hours apart. We’re at the point of deciding on a backyard wedding to save money at my parents’ house (they have a beautiful backyard, but we live in the same city as his family six hours away), but I just know my mom is going to drive me nuts! She’s very critical.

      Sorry for going off topic but I’m dealing with some of these things while I’m home for the holidays and I just wanted to commiserate.

      1. Artemesia

        If you have a backyard wedding at your parents turn the whole thing over to your critical mother and let her do what she wants — OR make other plans. A JP wedding with a dinner for family in a restaurant for example, might reduce the hassle. No way you can have the wedding in her backyard if you expect to plan and carry it out as she will be making you miserable every step of the way.

        1. Anon for now

          That’s what I’m worried about. Our families are both huge though, and not having a traditional wedding reception would probably cause a whole basket of other familial issues. And reception venues are so beyond expensive that I’m not sure I can afford anything other than the backyard (part of the reason I read AAM is post-college-grad unemployment). I just don’t know what to do. I’m thinking I’ll just let my mom take the wheel and be happy with it.

          On the bright side, I found a PERFECT (and CHEAP) dress today and bought it! It’s happening! :)

          1. KJ

            I had a very reasonable wedding and reception at a local restaurant. It was a lunch reception at a place not usually open for lunch, so I didn’t pay a fee for using the space, I just paid for the food and drinks we consumed. The restaurant was very beautiful so I had to do minimal decorating. We served beer and wine, but because it was brunch, even that wasn’t that pricey. And the food was amazing, but at “lunch” prices, not at dinner prices. All in all, it was easy, relaxed and not too pricey. Might be worth seeing if anyplace in your city could do that for you. Oh, and Sunday is cheaper than Saturday to get married.

          2. Temperance

            Are they paying for the reception that they’re demanding, or just being unreasonable? I wouldn’t have it at your parents’ place unless you’re willing to let your mother steamroll.

            A park or something in your current location is cheap and neutra

      2. Natalie

        I had a backyard wedding out of a desire to get married at home, or I would have if it hadn’t been for weather, and I have to say that it’s not as money saving as you might think. For one thing, weather backup – we had booked an alternate space in case it rained, and if we hadn’t used it we still would have been out the money. Since there were thunderstorms forecasted for our wedding day when we had to decide whether to use the backup space, we ended up using it. No thunderstorms, but it was 100 degrees (literally) so I’m glad we were inside.

        There’s also logistical headaches with a home wedding. We had to clean our house and yard. The table & dish rentals had to be stored and moved multiple times. If we had been at home, we would have come home to a lot of random stuff that needed to be put back or tidied. The only money we saved was on the venue, which was offset by spending money on rentals, mosquito treating the yard, getting lighting, etc.

        1. Natalie

          Left off a paragraph: typically your largest expenses are going to be venue, catering & bar, and photography. Figure out what your budget is first and then get price estimates for the larger ticket things. If your mom wants to help, she can research and price venues. Photography is hard to save money on, so if that is important to you just accept that it’s going to cost a bit. Catering & bar is where you have a lot of flexibility. If you can self-cater alcohol (buy all your own beer & wine) at your venue, you’ll save a ton. Don’t have liquor, people will be just fine without it. For food, consider doing a late wedding and just offering “heavy hor d’oeuvres”, doing a buffet, or doing a brunch wedding.

        2. TL -

          I do know people who have had backyard weddings at $500 or less (maybe not including dress here), so it definitely can be done on the cheap! They didn’t book an alternate space, though, or rent out tables, chairs – they just borrowed from friends and relatives until they had enough. (They also didn’t treat for mosquitos but I don’t think anyone would hold an outdoor wedding during mosquito season.)

          A fair number of my friends have had really lovely, really cheap weddings – people aren’t going to remember whether or not the chairs and tables matched or if your decorations were plentiful if they’re truly happy for you.

          1. Natalie

            Absolutely, but none of that is unique or inherent to a backyard wedding – you can just as easily do that kind of wedding at a state park or an art gallery (our backup space) or the VFW. Having a cheap, large wedding generally requires making specific decisions and compromises, no matter where you hold it. Having it at home won’t be cheaper just because.

            1. Anon for now

              Oh you’re making me feel so much better about choosing something else! I’ll look into local parks. There’s not a whole lot of that kind of thing around here, and I do want to have it here- as difficult as they can be, I love my family and extended family. My fiancé’s family (who live in our city)… not so much. Bad history there for him, and I’ve only ever talked to his mom two or three times anyway.

              We were already planning on a brunch wedding. I mean this in the most loving way possible, but I have a pretty hillbilly family, and limiting alcohol consumption is a priority for me. Nobody really has a lot of money, so I can’t really ask for help, and it’s not so much that they’re demanding a reception as that it would cause drama if I didn’t and I’d never hear the end of it!

              Sigh. We’ve been engaged for over a year and I’m just now starting on all this and it’s just overwhelming me a bit. Thank you all for your advice though, you’re giving me lots to think about!

              1. tink

                When my mom and stepdad got married, they rented a pavilion at a local state park. It obviously wasn’t a first wedding for either of them, and all of the children were grown (with grandchildren), so it was a fairly low-key affair and we did most of the food and whatnot ourselves.

                Sister 5 also got married at a state park–they rented a cabin for her + bridesmaids (plus a short honeymoon after), and the ceremony was outside at the lake. No chairs, folks had to stand or bring their own, and it was long enough ago that I don’t remember anything about after the wedding. I do know neither one was particularly expensive.

                Something to consider as well–I also come from fairly country stock, and when sister 2 got married, her rehearsal dinner ended up being a sort of… combo rehearsal dinner/closest family and friends affair? It was a fish fry–Daddy and some of our uncles and cousins actually caught most of the fish that got cooked for it, and there were chicken strips as well. If your families are into that sort of thing, maybe that’s something that could be done? The logistics are a bit of a mess if you end up cooking outside someone’s backyard or another place equipped for it, but it’s definitely an affordable option to do a family dinner like that instead of a big reception for everyone.

                1. Anon for now

                  I’m really liking the park idea!

                  We were thinking of doing a brunch wedding, and then a BBQ type thing with immediate family and bridesmaids/groomsmen for dinner that night. It might make sense to do that for the rehearsal though so we can leave sooner! :)

              2. Natalie

                People (your parents, maybe Future Spouse’s parents) may offer money, even if you don’t ask for it and weren’t expecting it. Only you know their particular financial situation, but accept it if you feel you can. It’s a pretty typical way for generations to pay it forward – my parents, my now-husband and I had a great afternoon of their stories about their wedding and how they fit it into the money my stepmom got from her mom. Regardless of whatever money is available, figure out your budget first.

                A good bit of general wedding planning advice, regardless of budget, is that you and your spouse-to-be pick your top three important things, and prioritize those. Anything else that doesn’t fit in that top-three list, you let go of. Try not to worry about what other people will think about the things that you let go.

                On a budget specifically, definitely scrap anything not strictly necessary, like wedding favors or fancy programs or the like. Since you have a lot of family in the area figure out what you can farm out to other people. For our wedding, we ended up getting our officiant for free because she is a friend of my step-dad’s and our photographer at an enormous discount because he is my best friend’s dad. My other best friend and my step-mom did all of the flowers from the farmers market (except for my bouquet, which was a specific indulgence that I wanted). We had a reception for my husband’s family in a different city that was held in his uncle’s backyard, with food prepared by the uncle and my mother-in-law and photography by husband’s cousin. (Pick reliable people – at one point my brother, who is the world’s biggest flake, was going to help us clean up and mulch our garden. Never happened.)

                Lastly, you may be inclined to think that you will do All The Things yourself. Resist that urge. Especially for anything that has to be done the day before or day of the wedding. No matter how chill and low-key of a bride you are, there will be approximately 10,000 tasks you either didn’t think of (wait, where are we going to store the rented tables?), take longer than you expected (hello, unexpected parking shortage when I picked up our cupcakes), or you planned for and then completely forgot about until the last minute (ask me about my stressful booze-buying trip the day before the wedding!). DIY as much as you want until 1-2 days before the wedding, and then pass as much off as you absolutely can to a trusted deputy. (And buy them a nice gift, or if that’s not in the budget write a heartfelt note and then do something nice and free for them a few weeks post-wedding.)

                1. Anon for now

                  You give really fantastic advice! This is so helpful, thank you!! How did the farmer’s market flowers go? I’ve looked at that but it makes me so nervous, because you have to do it really close to the wedding for them to stay fresh, right?

              3. Honeybee

                Is there a specific reason you are tied to doing it where you are? Because if your whole extended family lives on the other side of the country and is struggling, and his family lives near but may not come…maybe it makes sense to consider having it nearby your family.

                And also, a county park was where I was originally planning to have my wedding before MIL took over (for better and worse). The venue fees were ridiculously cheap and the park was beautiful. I grew up going there with my parents and feeding the ducks. It was nice.

                1. Anon for now

                  We are doing it near my family! It’s my parents’ backyard. That’s part of the reason it stresses me out so much; there’s travel for us and an extended time before the wedding in close quarters with my mom. And really, who wants to spend the week or so before their wedding squished into a twin bed in their childhood bedroom with their fiancé? Not me! I’m thinking a hotel room might be necessary, but that starts to get more expensive again!

          2. Pennalynn Lott

            My next-door neighbor’s nieces and nephews have all been married in her back yard. Way cheaper than paying for a venue because the weddings were basically the normal extended-family gathering (potluck, BYOB), with an additional expense for an officiant. No thousand-dollar cake, no rented tent or chairs, no floral decorations. Just the equivalent of a backyard BBQ, but a tad more festive. :-)

        3. Mephyle

          My daughter and son-in-law had a backyard wedding. It rained (as expected) but we had rented a big tent and everything went swimmingly (in the good sense).

          1. Natalie

            We had actually thought about renting tents at one point, but we got lucky with our backup venue and it was a similar price. In the end, tents probably would have worked well for the extreme heat we did have, but wouldn’t have worked for the severe thunderstorms that were initially forecasted for the exact hour we would have doing the ceremony. (Although their is something magical about the idea of saying your vows while the heavens are torn asunder above you, I suppose.)

    10. Not So NewReader

      I agree with everyone who said pay for the travel expenses. For one, this is a major life event for you. We are not talking about you loaning her money for a puppy or a diamond ring. No, this is your wedding, it’ s big deal. Next, if she continues on the way she has then she will max out those cards anyway. You might like to just set that whole story line to one side in this instance. And last, you can tell her that this is a one shot thing. When you guys get that new house/baby/puppy you will not be paying her travel bill for her to come see it. Let her know that this is a life changing event for you and you would like her there but going forward you will not be able to do this again.

      1. Sunflower

        I agree with all of this. If it’s important to you that she’s there then you’re really doing this for yourself, not her.

    11. Stellaaaaa

      Could you ask your parents to pay your sister’s way as their gift to you? That way it’s not so much your problem.

    12. copy run start

      Your sister is an adult who makes her own life choices. How she pays to attend your wedding is not your problem nor your responsibility. If you really want to assist, perhaps offer to pay for the flight or for the hotel room, or to contribute $X towards her expenses. But I wouldn’t offer to cover the whole thing for her. That’s just not realistic.

      Have you looked into wedding broadcasting? That might be a good option for your sister and any other relatives who are unable to make it in person. I had one cousin who did this and it was great. Heck you could just stick a PC running Skype on a chair and make the best of it, even.

    13. neverjaunty

      Let’s say that five minutes from now, your sister had an epiphany and suddenly became financially responsible and devoted her energies to cutting spending and paying off her debt. She still wouldn’t be able to afford to come to your wedding, right?

      I don’t think it’s enabling her if you pay her way (and by that I mean buying the tickets and paying the hotel directly, etc., not sending her a wad of cash). You want her at the wedding and you can make that happen because you want family there and together.

    14. MissDisplaced

      I think paying for her to attend is fine if you’re fine with it, can afford to do so, and it means enough to you to do so. But lost wages? How, what? Just no.
      Does she not get vacation or PTO and/or would be able to take off a weekend? I can’t fathom this part.

      1. shorty

        She only gets 1 week/year and that gets used up for legitimate kid-related events. Any time after that she can take off but it’s unpaid. And seeing as her current salary isn’t enough to keep up with her bills, the unpaid time off would be pretty tough.

        1. Natalie

          Does she normally work on whatever day you’re getting married? She doesn’t have to take a whole week off and come early – she can fly in the same day as the wedding and leave the next day. If those are both on her weekend than she’s not out any wages.

          1. Honeybee

            If the slightest thing goes wrong she can miss it. She’d at least need to fly in the day before, earlier if there’s a rehearsal dinner and/or if she’s in the bridal party.

        2. MsCHX

          She absolutely does not need (or get to since she can’t afford it) to be there for a week (or more?!). She should fly in the night before and fly out the day after, at best.

          Others said it isn’t enabling her but it is. She doesn’t get to be irresponsible and then dictate what’s given to her as help. If YOU want her there I think it’s perfectly reasonable to buy an airline ticket and hotel room (or shared room with another relative) but the buck stops there. No bills paid. No wages paid. That’s way too far.

        3. Miss Displaced

          Ok Shorty, well I do understand kid things are important. However, it seems like your wedding is still some time away, correct? And yet sister can not manage to schedule ONE of her precious vacation days (now in January when companies reset vacation time) to come to your wedding (where you are paying for her trip)? Moreover, if the wedding is some months out, why can she not SAVE enough money to cover the day or two off? This is called planning.

          I’m sorry, but this sounds selfish on her part and irresponsible.
          You are being very generous to pay for the wedding trip, the onus should be on her to cover her time off. But this is my opinion. I guess it depends on how important it is for you for her to be there.

          Side note: Only getting 1 week vacation per year typically equals a not-very-good job. I realize some people are not so lucky to have an employer that gives them 2-3 weeks PTO, but is the not-good job due to no fault of her own, or part and parcel of her other bad financial choices? By that I mean is she working the crappy job so that she has time for other activities or cache. As in: “I’m only working at crappy job for now so that I can pursue my dream of X, Y, or Z” kind of thing that is fairly unrealistic career-wise. [Please don’t misunderstand me… I actually do know people who do that on the off-chance dream that by working at crappyjob they will become a singer/artist/producer/dancer, etc., etc.] Usually they are in for a rude awakening.

          Normally, I would not even factor this, but your post was about how she continues to make poor decisions that are putting her deeper in debt and I wondered if job was part of that as well.

    15. Temperance

      Quite honestly, I would pay for her ticket and her hotel, but not her leave from work. I frankly wouldn’t give her any other money, though. She’s going to be in debt forever and irresponsible forever until she decides to grow the hell up.

      We gave my MIL money for airfare to our wedding, and she spent it on a trip to visit my SIL and her husband, and then complained when the airfare to us was more than she could afford. It went up by $250 because she waited until the last minute to book. I think my husband’s grandparents paid the difference, because we certainly didn’t.

    16. Snazzy Hat

      I’d be so sad if she missed our wedding, and I think she would be crushed too.

      But the ways she would be crushed can change depending on the circumstance:
      1) She stops spending and starts saving and tries really hard to afford to attend and does everything she can to be kind to her budget for being at her sister’s wedding, but still doesn’t quite make it financially. (I’ll be kind here and say it ends up being the round-trip flight that goes over what she can afford.)
      2) She continues spending, albeit less than usual, but all of her savings go into her debts and she apologizes to you for not being more responsible with her money and thereby missing an important event in your life.
      3) She doesn’t get the money from you and throws a hissy-fit compounded with disbelief that you, her sister, wouldn’t give her a few hundred or thousand bucks to let her attend your wedding.
      4) She complains to everyone else in the family that you are the reason she couldn’t make it.

      Don’t give her another penny. If you want to give her something, give her a library card. Oy.

    17. Honeybee

      Well, in this case I’d kind of considering it like paying for something I really want, not enabling her lifestyle. It’d be different if she called you for help paying for something she didn’t need or traveling elsewhere. But the situation in question is that you want her to come to your wedding, and you know the only real viable way for her to come is for you to pay. I’d think of it more like taking a trip somewhere nice or paying for some other kind of experience.

      But I wouldn’t cover the unpaid leave part. She’d get help with travel and lodging/food.

    18. Chickaletta

      Late to the party here, but my $.02 suggestion is to help her pay her way. Maybe not all of it, but pay for her flight and hotel or something, and let her pay the other expenses.

      My own wedding was ten years ago and here’s the thing about weddings: they’re just a day. One day. All you will have left afterwards are the photos and the memories. Think about looking back on your wedding ten years from now, what do you want to remember? Do you want to remember that she didn’t come because you held a grudge against her bad financial habits? Or do you want memories about her being there, having a good time, supporting you? You won’t remember how much you paid for her flight or hotel in ten years, and if you do you probably won’t care (hopefully not, that would be a long time to invest in being upset). So help her get there, keep the peace, take the high road, yadda yadda yadda. You won’t regret it.

      PS: You can’t change people. Refusing to help pay her way won’t “teach her a lesson” or “get even” or whatever. There’s no point in making a statement by refusing to pay her way. Do you let her take advantage of you? No, of course not. But I don’t think you want your wedding to be the occasion you use to make your point.

      1. Jen Erik

        Also late, but I agree with this. If you want her there, count it as part of the wedding expenses, and then let it go.
        I so agree that you can’t change people – you can only set your own boundaries, and detach with love.

        I hope, whatever you decide, that you have a lovely day.

  2. caledonia

    A black and white imposter cat is stealing *my* b & w cat’s food. I have chucked water over it once but I feel so bad for my (hungry) cat.
    I leave the window open in the kitchen all day when I’m at work as my cat is not one for staying indoors and I am gone from 7.20 am to 6.45 pm.

    It’s a rental so I can’t put a catflap in.

    Any thoughts or suggestions?

    1. Anono-me

      Cat flaps that fit most windows are available. You could also make your own. Cut a board, or get it cut (I know HD will) to fit in the open window. Install the cat door in the board.

      You may want to consider a cat door with a sensor lock, so only your cat can get in.

        1. Marcela

          I don’t Anono-me is telling you to make a hole. It’s probably what we did to install a portable AC in our rental: buy a piece of board the size of the window glass, cut a hole in it, open the window to the max and put the board with the hole as it were the window glass. I think it will depend on the window system if it’s possible or not, but most probably it will work.

        2. fposte

          You’re not putting a hole in the window. You’re putting a solid thing across the open part of the window. You can take it out when you want to close the window.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian

            Yeah, I’ve seen people put the cat door in a plywood rectangle and then close the window on the plywood to hold it in. They also put some rubber weather stripping around the edges of the plywood to seal out the wind and cold.

            1. Mallory Janis Ian

              Wow, now that other people’s links have come out of moderation, I see that you can buy the cat door already prepared for window installation; that’s great, and way better than plywood!

    2. Lucina

      Is your cat’s food close to the point of access? If so you could try moving it away. You could also try a timed cat feeder, so the food is no exposed all the time, or could train your cat to eat at fixed times and feed her/him when you’re around (although poor kitty it’s almost 12 hours).
      I was in the same situation and used to leave the bathroom window open. A sad catnip-addicted tomcat entered my house, found a catnip banana, chewed through it disseminating saliva and catnip on my (landlord’s) carpet, ate all the food, puked all the food, sprayed my own sofa, and left my two kitty girls traumatized. I made friends with the neighbor, who has a key now and lets my cats in and out during the day.
      Addict tomcat is still around and comes running if you have a catnip toy in your hands, but has been castrated recently, so not so much of a terror anymore and a lot less stinky.

    3. fposte

      If you want to get fancy, there’s a pet feeder that will only open when the microchipped cat approaches the bowl. They’re not cheap, but it’s a way to solve many problems.

      1. caledonia

        Interesting. I do actually have an autofeeder thing I got last Christmas but never used. I will have to see if it does that.

    4. Karen El Bee

      To be honest, I would probably just buy a little extra food and put out enough for both. I would feel bad for the mooch kitty. But then I was feeding 10 ferals at my old house, so….

      1. caledonia

        This cat has a home. It gets fed. I am not willing to feed it.

        Half the problem is my cat is so passive, she just sits whilst the other cat eats the food!!

        1. Elizabeth West

          Ugh, Pig used to do that. The only thing I could do was sit out and shoo them away. She wouldn’t do anything! And I only fed her what she would eat so she didn’t leave anything. If she was hungry later, I could always give her more.

      2. caledonia

        Also, in the UK, feral cats are far less common than in the States. It’s a small town and the cat lives across the street.

    5. Franzia Spritzer

      Once you get the catflap window business figured out, you can get auto-locking catflaps which permit only your critter through the flap so the imposter cat cannot come in to eat at will. This kind of flap uses a magnetic lock (maybe the technology has improved sine I last bought one), with it you’ll get a dohicky to put on your cat’s collar which grants them access.

      Good luck.

  3. Katie the Sensual Wristed Fed

    I’ve been so distressed the last 2.5 weeks. I’m trying to make things a little better by putting more good into the world – we’re volunteering at a shelter next week, and I bought some coats for a coat drive, writing notes to family members who mean a lot, etc. Basically an advent calendar of goodness.

    This wasn’t really a question. I’m just struggling right now and trying to make the world a tiny bit better :/

      1. Bibliovore

        To Katie the Fed,
        I had to fill out health questionnaires for a new specialist. In the last two weeks have you been anxious? Have your been worried? Have you been restless? Have you been depressed? Have your been sleeping?
        Seriously dude? I pretty sure telling the truth on this thing would qualify me for commitment.
        Doing good every day is a good plan. I shall go there.

        1. Bibliovore

          oh and I actually started writing to say that I appreciate your comments on AAM and that this is also doing doing good.

        2. Katie the Sensual Wristed Fed

          Ha, yes! I know the feeling.

          I’m going to try to do at least one good thing every day of Advent. :/

    1. Cristina in England

      Same. I got a chance to donate a lot of baby stuff to a women’s shelter through a friend of a friend and I have gotten really into it, making up little Christmas party bags with notepads and crayons and activity books and chocolate in case anyone there needs some festive cheer.

    2. LizB

      Hugs if you want them! I always appreciate your comments here, and I’m glad you’re putting good things into the world.

      I’ve been meaning to ask you in an open thread: I somehow missed what happened with the name transition from Katie the Fed to Katie the Sensual Wristed Fed — is there context there, or did you just decide it was time for a new look? :)

      1. Me2

        I’ve been meaning to ask this question too. A long time friend just posted a picture of the two of us at her 3rd or 4th birthday party and I commented on the graceful wrist pose. She’s not a Katie, nor a Fed, but I like to think perhaps you are the same person.

        1. Katie the Sensual Wristed Fed

          Oh good idea. I don’t know if Katie F is still around – that’s why i changed my username. They were too similar.

        2. nep

          Oh my word — could someone possibly think this is an acceptable — much less good — cover letter? I’m cringing so hard my ears ache.

    3. Temperance

      I’ve been having a really crappy year, too. I think you should put in some self-care time, too. You’re clearly a nice person who cares about making the world a better place, and frankly, that shit can get EXHAUSTING without a break to make yourself happy.

      I’m concentrating on being a more outspoken ally to friends who need it, and by calling out racism, sexism, and all that other nonsense.

      1. Katie the Sensual Wristed Fed

        Thank you so much. I’ve been mentally preparing myself for how to intervene when I see those kinds of behaviors. I kept silent for way too long – right now I feel like silence is acquiescence.

    4. Mimmy

      Katie – Sorry you are feeling down :( I like the “advent calendar of goodness” concept. I hope things brighten for you soon *sends hot chocolate and hugs*

      1. Katie the Sensual Wristed Fed

        I think I found it! I just found Penzey’s Hot Chocolate in my cupboard – forgot I had it. Good send – thank you :)

    5. Natalie

      Something I try to keep in mind is that you have to secure your own oxygen mask first, so to speak. That means different things for different people. For me, it means accepting that I need to focus on one or two social/cultural issues and accept that those issues are where I’m going to make my big impact. That doesn’t mean I ignore everything else, I just don’t prioritize it. I also try and unplug from news on a somewhat regular basis. My husband and I have talk about having a smartphone-free day, which for me would mean avoiding Facebook and various news blogs I read, since I tend to mindlessly check them on my phone. It helps, really it does, and your not letting down the revolution or whatever by unplugging occasionally.

      1. Katie the Sensual Wristed Fed

        That’s a great idea. I actually got off Facebook for a while, and did some culling of my friends. Not because we disagreed on issues – I cut the ones who said racist or sexist things or trolled my other friends in discussions. I’m cutting some of the crap out of my life :)

    1. Gaia

      This is the time for my rant against Hallmark movies. All my friends and family have heard it and now AAM gets to, too :)

      Hallmark movies are sexist as hell. Nearly every movie is about a silly, shallow woman (or worse, a career driven woman) who suffers some tragedy or situation that introduces her to a solid, steady man that is her exact opposite. She resists him at first but eventually begins to love him but realizes she needs to change everything about herself so he’ll love her. All the while, he is subtly sabotaging her in the background. She finds out about his sabotage and forgives him because he’s a good man. She changes everything about herself, they fall in love. But it is ok, because she got her man. Happy ending.

      God forbid she be able to be herself AND be happy in a relationship or hold a man responsible for acting against her. Or be happy without a relationship.

      I’ve watched a lot of Hallmark movies as it is the channel my TV stays on for my dog (the others make him bark, I don’t know what this means). But they make me rage inside.

      1. esra (also a Canadian)

        Don’t forget the most important part of the happy ending: Now she’s pregnant! Hurrah. Her real life can begin.

        See also: Terrible romance novels.

      2. Knit Pixie

        Just wanted to throw out a movie recommendation for anyone who is hitting the Redbox (or otherwise) this weekend.

        “East Side Sushi” was excellent. So much so, I wanted to personally recommend it to Alison and all the AAM readers.

        A dose of this movie was definitely what the doctor ordered, it has help inoculate me against the senselessness of your typical Hallmark made for TV movie.

      3. Zip Silver

        That’s the whole point of those movies, though.

        Everybody has an agenda, the media is no different. Hallmark just happens to be different from most others in Hollywood.

      4. cinammoncookieroll

        Dog doesn’t bark because he likes the sound of the hallmark dog whistle.
        It sounds like dependence.

    2. Artemesia

      Ahh the wonderful world of Hallmark where women can make a great living selling cupcakes, men can make a great living making hand crafted furniture, women give up career advancement for the guy they met yesterday and living in a rural village makes you morally superior to those big shots who are educated, live in the city and like pretentious things like art or music.

      1. Nicola M

        I’ve often wondered how one can be so financially comfortable selling “artisan” goods in a small town.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian

            Oh, if only I could live in complete middle-class comfort by baking cupcakes from 10 – 2, Tuesday through Saturday, and selling them in my charmingly-appointed shop at the corner of the town square to my fabulously quirky and always-supportive BFFs.

            1. ginger ale for all

              A lot of cozy mysteries have this set up. I love that genre but my gosh, a dose of reality would make them all better. And they can 86 the dumb cop stereotype as well.

          2. EmmaLou

            Well, in the actual books, the baker really is up often way before dawn and stays up into the wee sma’s as well. I often wondered how she functioned on so little sleep.

      1. Emmie

        Last night, a lady fell in love with her manager’s employee! The employee and the manager’s girlfriend were headed to spend the weeekend in a rural mountain cottage or something! As goofy as these movies are, I can’t seem to turn them off!

  4. Melody Pond

    Finished the Gilmore Girls revival yesterday! I was actually pretty happy with it – there were a couple weird things here and there, but all in all, I thought it was a pretty satisfying revival. I laughed out loud several times, and to my delight, despite possible cosmetic changes, Lauren Graham really didn’t seem all that different to me – just slightly older. I’d really love it if they did a second revival season, but it doesn’t sound like there’s any plans for that yet.

    What did others think?

    **possible spoilers in comments**

    1. caledonia

      I have watched winter and spring so far. I like it but it does feel a bit different. I can’t figure out why or what it is.

      Am totally loving Rory’s outfits so far.

      1. TL -

        It’s more movie-like – the montages and music numbers could never have been in the show.

        I liked it, except for the ending! Argh!

    2. Jessesgirl72

      I have only watched winter and spring, but know the final words (I know ASP said not to do that. She is a control freak. LOL) and I am pretty sure there will be more. The “no plans” thing is always what they say until Netflix gets its numbers back.

      I’ve liked what has happened so far, and the ending I know is coming makes sense to me. The show has always reflected the parallels in Lorelai and Rory’s lives.

      1. TL -

        Ugh. I said this below, but the ending doesn’t make sense to me – as much as the show is about reflecting the parallels, I think it’s also been about how Rory had the choices that Emily and Lorelai didn’t; that she didn’t get trapped by life but had been given every chance to make her decisions and chart her own course. So…it doesn’t make sense to me.

        1. RKB

          But she’s 32, not 22. I think the difference is that Rory knows what happens if she handles the situation like Lorelai did – hence asking Christopher about fighting for her, and how she waited until her mother was married and complete with her own life when she told her the news.

          What I think people are glossing over is the fact that Rory is immature because Lorelai set up her life as to avoid Rory making the same mistakes she did. This Rory never got to grow into maturity that her friends did (Paris, Lane, Dean, etc.) This is really Rory’s true test.

          1. TL -

            Well, she’s 32, broke (but I guess with a trust fund?), unemployed, living in her mom’s house in a very small town with few employment opportunities, unplanned outside of a stable relationship. That’s different from Lorelai, but also – pretty darn close to being 22.

            Yeah, it’s interesting to think how Rory will handle this. I do think she’s been incredibly sheltered (but also would’ve expected her to grow up more in the intervening 10 years!) and this is the time when she’s going to have to grow up but I don’t like it as a plot line.

    3. buffty

      I enjoyed it. I came home from work with the intention of watching just one episode…and of course then watched all of them. “Just one more…”

    4. Audiophile

      I’m in the middle pf “Summer” and I’m really enjoying it so far. I don’t mind the longer format and it was nice to see all the supporting characters pop up again.

      I’d be surprised if they get a second revival out of the cast, since it took so much time to get this one off the ground. But then again, I didn’t expect Netflix to get another season out of Arrested Development and that’s set to start shooting again in January, so anything is possible.

    5. Katie the Sensual Wristed Fed

      I’m watching it now. Actually, I’m hate-watching it now. I find Lorelai and Rory so awful and self-absorbed – it’s a case study of how beautiful women get away with treating people like crap.

      And yet I can’t stop watching :/

      1. all aboard the anon train

        I remember when it was on TV and I never really watched it because I found Lorelai and Rory awful and unlikeable, but all my friends loved the show. I feel somewhat justified now that they’re all rewatching the show and are shocked at how much they dislike the characters.

        Though, to be fair, I find a lot of characters you’re supposed to root for to be unlikeable.

      2. EA

        It’s funny. I loved the show when I was a kid. I identified with Lorelei because I have issues with my mother. I identified with Rory because I loved to read. Now I watch and think they are both terrible and self-absorbed. I think Lorelei is better than Rory, mostly because she is tougher. Rory really is awful.

    6. Elkay

      I’ve just finished watching. I liked it but didn’t love it, I think it suffered in the same way that season 6 did because it wasn’t Rory and Lorelei together the whole time. Also, given the length of the episodes I felt there wasn’t much content and the music (and musical numbers) seemed a lot more intrusive than I remember the music being in the original series, it felt too knowing to me. I guessed the ending (not the final four words) based on a scene earlier in the episode. Also it annoyed me that Rory was quite such an unpleasant person (her boyfriend and the Logan stuff) as I don’t remember her being like that, although there was the whole Dean thing so maybe that’s just who she is. Finally, a lot of the cameos were totally crowbarred in, I’d rather have had fewer and have the returners have an actual role in the storyline. But I’d totally watch a second revival series.

      1. Katie the Sensual Wristed Fed

        She’s always been a terrible person. Remember when she tried to break up Dean’s marriage by sleeping with him?

        1. Elkay

          I never saw it as trying to break up Dean’s marriage, I don’t think she gave it that much thought. I think she’s self-absorbed so the Dean thing was about her, not his marriage. Bizarrely I would have been happier with her having so little self worth that she needed to be Logan’s bit on the side but her treatment of her boyfriend really jarred with me.

          1. Katie the Sensual Wristed Fed

            I guess that’s true. But it’s the self-absorption that really irks me. She’s really a terrible person. She has no grit – she dropped out of school because someone insulted her. She squanders all the privilege she has. And is SO fragile. And then cheats on men and sleeps with married/engaged men. Just awful.

            1. esra (also a Canadian)

              Ugh, when she set her whole life on fire because one person said she might not be cut out for an incredibly competitive industry.

              1. Katie the Sensual Wristed Fed

                I’m halfway through the new ones – good god. Is she ever going to take responsibility for anything? realize not everything will be handed to her?

                1. esra (also a Canadian)

                  Everyone kept talking about what a hard worker she was in the original series, but you never saw it. Honestly after the whole town threw a festival for like, two residents who are barely ever around, I said GOOD DAY to GG.

              2. Anon for this

                She would have stood up to that all the way back in the first season!

                Rory wasn’t so bad as a teenager. Or at least, she wasn’t worse than any other teenager. What happened?

      2. Caledonia

        the musical numbers was very bunheads! (ASP’s other tv show that lasted 1 season and had a whole bunch of actors from Gilmore in it)

    7. bon-bons for all!

      Just finished! I really liked it overall, although I fast-forwarded past the Stars Hollow musical. That was really bad.

      1. Melody Pond

        That WAS horrible. I didn’t understand why they wanted us to sit through that for what seemed like hours. The longer 90 minute episodes are no excuse for such a monstrosity.

        1. Jessesgirl72

          I think because ASP shoe-horned Sutton Foster into the musical, and so made it “worth her while”

      2. LA Gaucho

        Am I one of the few who found the musical number hysterical (and hysterically bad too)?

        Actually, at first I thought “WTF is this?! What a waste of time…ha…haha…bahahaha!” Very Stars Hallow. Also, I expected Kirk’s movie to be better.

    8. Stellaaaaa

      I found Lorelai’s outburst at the funeral to be inexcusable. Either participate properly or stop spending the family money.

      Rory’s relationship issues WANTED to be illustrative of the messy stuff people her age go through but it was so tonally off.

      The 30something gang was totally cute. Oh no, people who are friends due to similar life experiences, how pathetic!!!

      1. Katie the Sensual Wristed Fed

        Ah, another hate watcher :)

        Seriously – messy relationships don’t usually involve a lot of cheating. That’s just not ok.

        1. Stellaaaaa

          I could have rolled with the story if it seemed that Logan and Rory were truly in love. But Rory rejected his proposal 9 years ago so I don’t feel any emotional weight with the affair. She doesn’t want to marry him.

          1. Jessesgirl72

            Logan is the Christopher analog, and Rory grew up with her mother sleeping with Christopher for years, regardless of who either of them were involved with.

            Then the Palladinos left the series and they got married!

        2. TL -

          But also, that’s not really in keeping with Logan’s character. He’s always been honest and very kind to everybody. And his 7th season arc was all about him breaking away from his family to become an independent person, so why is he now bound to marry someone for dynastic reasons? (Especially because Rory was clearly a suitable candidate…)

          I didn’t mind the storyline until he got engaged and moved in with someone – that’s just not in keeping with Logan’s character as we knew it. Even when he first started dating Rory, he was always very upfront about what she could expect from him. I can’t imagine he’d treat another girlfriend so differently.

          1. OldMom

            We don’t know that he is getting married for dynastic reasons, at least, if so, I didn’t catch that bit. But it did seem odd…they are still together, or together again, 10 years later, but with a NSA situation? why? It made perfect sense that she didn’t want to marry him 10 years ago, but why not now? Also the whole secret society partying stuff struck me oddly. The friends would have succumbed to alcoholism long since at the rate they were going, and all that frantic running around…suited to college students or the young Beatles, but seems a little “what are all these old people doing at the frat party” vibe.

            1. RKB

              After the party with LDB and they end up at the tango club, Rory says something along the lines of “are you really going to marry Odette?” Logan’s answer was “for dynastic reasons.”

      2. EA

        That’s the thing. Like Emily Gilmore could be terrible, but Lorelei was also mean to her parents. And then she expected everyone to feel sorry for her. Emily at least sort of owned who was.

          1. Elkay

            Did anyone else find Emily’s storyline really odd? I though they were setting it up for her to be scammed by her maid and the dad from Twin Peaks but it just seemed to fizzle out.

            1. TL -

              Oh, I liked it – I feel like Emily needs to take care of someone and in a weird way, she got to take care of the maid (who, though weird was really nice and making sure Emily was being taken care of in return.)

              But I just liked how the show dealt with Emily moving on with life after her husband passed in general. It was very sweet.

            2. alex

              I enjoyed Emily’s arc, and damned if Kelly Bishop hasn’t aged like a queen! But I agree that that Berta the Maid thing…eesh. I guess it was nice that EG had some folks to take care of, but the maid was the same actress who plays Gypsy the mechanic; why?? And the continuing fake language bit was just awkward.

              Spoilers below; my other thoughts having finished it this afternoon are:
              — The bizarre scene of Logan taking Rory out on the town with the guys missed so badly for me.
              — Petal was a great addition, and I loved Kirk’s ending.
              — I didn’t enjoy any of the scenes with the drunken English woman character. Naomi or whatever.
              — The town musical… Yikes. It was in no way believable that some of those characters liked it. I would have preferred for them to all mock it.
              — In my opinion, Alexis Bledel is unfortunately still not a good enough actor to match Lauren Graham or Kelly Bishop or even the male actors.
              — Why are all the male characters irresistibly attached to Rory??
              — The final words…. eh. They fit nicely with the references to “full circle,” the death/birth frame, and the fertility issues, but it was a bit groan-inducing to have it end just like that. That said, I think they should probably hang up the hat now.

              i’m enjoying reading the other reactions!

              1. Katie the Sensual Wristed Fed

                “— The bizarre scene of Logan taking Rory out on the town with the guys missed so badly for me.”

                The steampunk tango scene? What even WAS that? Who were they? I admit I was barely even paying attention that much at that point, but – what???

              2. Melody Pond

                The bizarre scene of Logan taking Rory out on the town with the guys missed so badly for me.

                YES. What the hell was that? That should’ve been tossed, along with the Stars Hollow Musical – or at least cut down by about 90%. For the longest time, I was leaning over to my sister and Mr. Pond, insisting that this had to be a dream.

                I’m a big Doctor Who fan (see my username) so I was thrilled at first to see Alex Kingston (the drunk British woman), but I guess I can’t expect her to be the badass River Song in every single acting gig. So that was ultimately pretty disappointing.

        1. Stellaaaaa

          Emily and Richard weren’t abusive or anything. Lorelai got pregnant and dropped out of school at 16. Her parents were entitled to be disappointed. And IMO it doesn’t matter if the Chilton money was for Rory. Lorelai’s choices impacted her kid. That’s life.

          1. KG, Ph.D.

            “Emily and Richard weren’t abusive or anything.”

            Emily is a classic narcissist who put down Lorelai at every opportunity. Emotional abuse is a thing, and she did lots of it, from my perspective. Lorelai is also a self-absorbed asshole, and so is Rory, but that doesn’t mean that Emily wasn’t abusive, and that Richard didn’t enable it.

            1. Lolly Scrambler

              Yes! Thank you for calling out the emotional abuse. Everyone seems angry at what Lorelai said after the funeral but I don’t blame her for being angry at her father for being an enabler. I wish she had found a better therapist and continued down that road (but there would be no TV if everyone got therapy and learned to try to minimise family drama)!

        2. Tomato Frog

          I think everyone overlooks just how awful Richard was, though, in great part because Edward Herrmann is so engaging in the role. When I rewatched the series all the way thought, I was really staggered by how inflexible and hateful he was towards his daughter (and sometimes his wife), with none of the sort of emotional reaching-out that underlies Emily’s lashing out. And unlike Emily, he never really gets called on it. Lorelei is definitely irritating in how she deals with her parents, but it strikes me as a very realistic reaction to being reared by these people.

          1. Katie the Sensual Wristed Fed

            This is a good point. And Emily was much more open and relaxed after he died, wasn’t she.

          2. Audiophile

            Richard really was inflexible and Emily was no better.

            Does anyone remember Emily’s rant about Lorelai missing out on marrying Christopher? That Christopher was the one that got away and he was marrying that woman (I can’t remember the character’s name) as a replacement for Lorelai and having a baby with her as a replacement for Rory.

            Emily never liked Luke, from their first meeting in the hospital when Richard had a heart attack, she pointed out Luke’s attraction to Lorelai but made it clear that she didn’t care for him and he was not worth her daughter’s time. I felt the whole franchise bit was Emily and Richard molding Luke into an acceptable partner for Lorelai. Didn’t Emily say Richard wanted to make sure Lorelai was taken care of?

            As for the Rory issues, from what I remember she was pretty gutted when Logan’s father told her she wasn’t cut out for the journalism world. I remember Richard getting in some kind of fight with him, regarding it. This made sense to me, since she’d been working towards this “Dream Job” for the entirety of the series, at that point. And here was someone considered pretty powerful in that industry telling her, she couldn’t make it and to pick a new path and new “Dream Job.” I did find it a little hard to believe, with all the raving everyone was doing about her New Yorker piece, that she was having such a hard time getting more freelance work. I have no doubt that competition is high in the field, and it is an industry that has drastically changed in the last ten years, but the New Yorker carries more weight than the Stars Hollow Gazette.

            I’d say one of my favorite bits was Carole King showing up again as Sophie but playing one of her own songs and Taylor criticizing it. It was funnier because I’d find it hard to believe that no one in the town would know that song.

            All in all, I’d be fine with the show ending on those 4 words.

    9. Lily Evans

      I’ve always been a big fan of the show and went into it really wanting to love the entire thing and was kind of disappointed by some of the choices that were made with character arcs and pacing of the story. But the high points were high enough that I still found it enjoyable! I was disappointed in how a lot of the characters seemed to be in the same developmental place we left them in, rehashing the same arguments and mistakes. My absolute favorite thing was probably the musical call-back in the penultimate scene.

    10. OldMom

      Mostly enjoyed it, but the “musical” bits were the worse. (Not the troubadours or otherwise naturally occurring music, but the “play.”) If it’s supposed to be ironically terrible, why give it so much screen time? (If it was supposed to be good, someone please let me know….the singers sounded like good singers but the songs were awful.)
      The characters seemed so much exactly like they were and did not appear to have grown much. Rory did not seem like a believable 32-year-old. I was a little disappointed not to see any discussion of what has happened to journalism in the last ten years.
      The bit with Lorelei’s weird memory-sharing about her father seemed very convoluted and not in keeping with what we know of the characters. The story she shared sounded like it came from a disaffected teenager, not a nearly 50-year-old woman. Also it contradicted her previously established backstory. Didn’t she fall in love with Christopher at 16 and get pregnant with him? So what was she doing with some other dude at age 15 and describing her virginity as long gone at that point? That whole bit sounded like part of some other play, cut and pasted into the GGs.
      The “fertility” stuff was also weird. Lorelei would have been nearly 40 when she got back together with Luke. They supposedly have a good relationship; yet never, in 10 years together, did they talk about having kids, or not having kids? It strains credulity. I am not sure if there is a 38-year-old woman in America who would not bring up having kids, if she wanted them, with a new and likely permanent partner. And then trotting Luke out to some fertility specialist without ever asking if he wanted to, just assuming…it all just seemed very weird. It was never clear whether they were going to use her eggs or a surrogate’s eggs…and if a surrogate, again, what is the point, since he already has a biological daughter of his own?
      I also found it hard to believe that Rory and Paris had accomplished so little when they had such bright prospects. Rory should have been a regularly published columnist or blogger or correspondent, and Paris should have been a high-level exec or congressperson or something more worthwhile than doing “fertility” for the well-heeled. Both a waste of a fine chilton education…
      I am not sure what “the last four words” were, I may need to watch again to catch them. By that point I was pretty bored, oh look, they are getting married, what a surprise. A nice ending but I guess I wasn’t watching closely enough to catch the dialogue.

      1. TL -

        oh, the last four words are important!

        I was bothered a lot because I feel like Amy Palladino was using this explore storylines she had planned to explore in the 7th season – they would make a lot more sense there. Like: do we want another kid/can we have them? is super important in the first years of a relationship of two people in their late thirties/early forties. Paris and Doyle trying to work out their two careers together, also important in the framework of graduating from college (but dealt with already!). And Rory trying to figure out what she wants to do with her life/how to make it work in a dying industry, also very nature for a graduating college senior. But it doesn’t make sense after having a 10 yr successful career and recently publishing a high profile piece. Surely she’s got the freelancer thing down by then.

        I hated Paris’ job (also, totally unrealistic because she would have just been finished with residency at that point. Also, I always thought she would be a surgeon.)

        But I was also annoyed because part of the whole point of Rory’s arc was that she had all the choices that Lorelai and Emily never had and she got to break the cycle of being trapped into a role she didn’t choose. Both Lorelai and Emily were happy with their lives, but Rory had all the opportunities in the world – it doesn’t make sense that at 32, she ends up back living with her mother and “trapped” by her choices.

        1. Jessesgirl72

          I think that is exactly the problem. ASP didn’t write the 7th season and hasn’t written the characters along the way, so her character development of them was stunted.

          She should have just told everyone what those final words were, and then written the series as if things that she’d planned to happen had already happened after the series ended, and where those consequences led. Like, if after Rory had turned down Logan’s proposal, that last scene had happened- and where Rory was in the present as a result of that, and what choices she made. We didn’t meet Rory and Lorelai until Rory was almost 16, so it still would have been interesting to see the next generation of Gilmore Girls, 10 years later, already formed.

        2. Caledonia

          I’ve got to agree with the first part – a lot of the issues e.g. luke & lorelai having a baby would make more sense 10 years ago.

        3. Juli G.

          I fanwanked Paris in a surgery program when she got unexpectedly pregnant. Then someone tried to “mommy track” her and she decided that it would be very hard to be a dual career family with an infant and a surgery residency so she decided to flip the biggest finger to the mommy track by conquering the world of fertility.

          The timeline is unrealistic but I think there’s some logic. I’ve always liked that, especially in comparison with Rory, Paris is ruthlessly ambitious but always with pragmatism.

          I actually was more disappointed with how she treated her kids. She had such shitty parents that it made me sad that she was more worried about the nanny than her children (whose parents were divorcing!). I would have been fine with her crushing life, childfree by choice.

          1. Lolly Scrambler

            That makes sense as an explanation for Paris’s path. I guess I see her as not having been able to overcome her own shitty parenting with her own kids but I hope she will in the future, although childfree would have felt more true to the character.

      2. Artemesia

        I don’t know. The very promising students from my very promising high school class went on mostly to have quite pedestrian lives. One became the science editor for the NYT which is pretty cool, but on the whole they did okay but nothing spectacular.

      3. Hattie McDoogal

        I wasn’t terribly upset by Paris’ accomplishments – she managed to finish both medical school and law school, and have 2 kids to boot, in the space of 9 years. I wouldn’t expect her to be Surgeon General just yet. What *did* annoy me was Lane, who apparently works in her mom’s shop and plays light jazz in the secret bar at night. There’s nothing wrong with being a wife and mother and staying close to your family, but that didn’t seem to be what Lane wanted.

          1. Katie the Sensual Wristed Fed

            She never really got much of an arc either. She was never more than just Rory’s friend (and the only non-white person other than a maid on the series).

            1. Tomato Frog

              It was so maddening how the show would saddle Lane with all these really terrible life problems, and then her scenes with Rory would still be all about Rory.

              1. Jessesgirl72

                And the only time Lane even complained about it was Season 1? when Rory was snowed in at her grandparents and Max was snowed in at Stars Hollow. Nothing really changed, but she never complained again about Rory not being there for her.

          1. Hattie McDoogal

            That’s fair, I guess, but it still makes me sad. I mean, I didn’t want Hep Alien to be headlining All Tomorrow’s Parties or anything, but I was holding out hope that Lane had *some* kind of job in the music industry (working for a label or a venue, doing some gigs as a session musician, something). Jess has no college education either (nor high school, for that matter) and he managed to do something other than take over Luke’s Diner.

    11. Honeybee

      Haven’t watched it yet – I was “re”-watching the original series in prep, and didn’t make it that far. I say “re” because I honestly never watched much of the original series – I’d heard about it and caught a few random episodes here and there on TV but didn’t make it through the entire thing.

    12. ck

      Is there a way to watch this if I don’t have Netflix?

      I guess it will be released to video, and then I can check it out from my public library in a year….

      1. Jessesgirl72

        I don’t believe that Netflix releases its original series to video. The entire point is to drive people to Netflix.

    13. Kerry ( like the county in Ireland)

      Did anyone else read Nicole Diecker’s “How Gilmore Girls Do Money” series on The Billfold last year? It was a series looking at the characters and the role money played in their lives–and she made some pretty accurate predictions on what was revealed in the Netflix season.

    14. Juli G.

      It was fine. Look, it’s a revival. They never have as much magic as the original. I found parts charming, parts annoying. I liked that Lorelai got a little realization that she’s somewhat selfish. I liked the amount of Paris (but hate that she and Doyle are open ended). I loved the cameos (Jason Mantzoukas!!!).

      I HATED the final four words. I’m a Gilmore Guys fan and I had dismissed that whole idea months ago, partly because they did too. So I missed any foreshadowing and it just went way over my head.

  5. Stainless steel bottles

    Practical question: I have a couple of stainless steel bottles for drinking but they are starting to smell gross. I admit I sometimes forget water in them. Is there a way to salvage them? I’ve cleaned and aired them but it still is a bit gross.

    1. Bruce H.

      I would start with a quarter of a cup of bleach, fill the bottle with the hottest water you can get out of the tap, and let it soak overnight.

      1. CMT

        And then wash with soap and rinse a whole bunch of times. I cleaned a stainless steel bottle with bleach once and thought I got t all rinsed and washed out, but I could taste bleach for a couple of days.

        1. Stefrrr

          That’s a good point – dw is only for non-lined, non-thermal stainless, like kleen kanteen. Sigg bottles are lined aluminum – totally different animal.

      1. Sawcebox

        Seconding the baking soda suggestion! I’d put some in the bottle with a bit of water, shake it up, and leave it for a few hours to absorb the smell. Then wash it out. Baking soda is magic.

      2. Jean

        Thirding the baking soda suggestion. If you don’t rinse it all out, you just taste baking soda (salty, if I recall correctly). Or you could try a small amount of baking soda + a really small amount of white vinegar. Do this in the sink because you’ll get a bubbling-up-and-over reaction.

        Also seconding the dishwasher suggestion. If you park the bottle upside-down on one of the vertical prongs, the dishwasher should spray soapy water and rinse water right up into the (upside-down) bottle. (In theory, anyway. I’ve never been able to see the inside of my dishwasher in action.)

    2. Natalie

      Do you have a bottle brush? You may have something building up on the inside that requires scrubbing.

      Also, scrub the threading and cap really well with a toothbrush or something else tiny and abrasive. Funk can build up there.

    3. Pennalynn Lott

      Vinegar is an effective mold cleaner. You can mix it with baking soda to kill a few more species of mold. I use plastic water bottles whose necks are too narrow to get a good bottle brush into, and the vinegar works wonders. I use a vinegar-and-baking-soda paste and a toothbrush to scrub the cap and the top of the bottle where the cap screws on.

    4. AnAppleADay

      Once a week, I fill mine half way with white vinegar and let sit over night. Next day, I add dish soap and hot water and shake. Then, I wash in the dishwasher. Keeps them slime free.

  6. lamuella

    There’s a very very good TV series of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell as well. Very good casting and a breathtaking performance by Eddie Marsan.

    1. LawCat

      I thought the series was well done and really brought the story to life. The actors playing Mr. Norrell and Jonathan Strange were perfect.

      I admit though that I was a little disappointed in depictions of the Gentleman with Thistledown Hair and Stephen in the show.

  7. LawCat

    The Christmas tree is going up today! We live in an apartment without much storage space, but we have devoted some of that space to keeping a 7 foot tall artificial tree and we LOVE IT. Can’t wait to play Christmas music, get that sucker decorated, and bask in the warm, sparkly glow of its lights.

    1. bassclefchick

      We got a new tree delivered yesterday and my husband put it up. So the tree is up but not decorated it yet. And we still have Halloween decorations out. So it’s a bit odd in our living room right now. Haha.

    2. CMT

      Living in an apartment is what keeps me from getting an artificial tree, but I want one so badly! I just don’t know that I want to give up space to store it for the 10 months of the year it wouldn’t be up.

    3. Oh Fed

      My daughter and I put ours up today, too! It was a lovely chore this year for the two of us– one boy is away at school and another working his first retail job and hubs picked a big outdoor project to complete.

    4. Liane

      College Son said on Thanksgivingg, he wanted to put up tree today. But Ebenez–I mean Grinc–I mean Husband, objected on gounds of “too early, even if this is the day Church gets decorated.”
      If all of us weren’t sick* I would tell Son to go ahead while Daddy is napping.

      *some details in Best/Worst…if you really want to know

    5. Natalie

      Our realtor apparently gives her clients trees every year. I did not know this when I picked her but it’s awesome. Christmas trees are expensive!

    6. Nina

      Congrats! We put ours up last night. We were sick and tired of waiting until the last minute (like Christmas eve) to do it, and we wanted to enjoy it all season.

    7. Elizabeth West

      I put mine up last week. A few years ago, Lowe’s had a sale on Christmas trees and I found one of the skinny ones–I too have little space for such things. It’s narrower at the bottom than most trees and fits right in the corner.

  8. The Other Dawn

    Any suggestions for good slow cooker cookbooks?

    My MIL has been talking about getting a cookbook for a long time, so I want to get her one for Christmas. HOWEVER. She doesn’t like to cook (but she does like and use her slow cooker) and has limited space as she and FIL are…not very neat, to say the least. So, I need something that doesn’t have a bunch of complicated recipes with special ingredients. I saw that America’s Test Kitchens has one, but a lot of the recipes require a bunch of prep, which is something I know she won’t do and won’t want to do. I told her to go online, but she won’t do anything on the computer besides play the games that came with it (solitaire and free cell), because FIL blames her any time it gets a virus and she doesn’t want to deal with it (he’s the one the causes the viruses, as he’s clicking and downloading things he shouldn’t…).

    1. Kate in Scotland

      I am completely enamoured with Ultimate Slow Cooker by Sara Lewis. I’ve made 25 or so of the recipes and have hardly used any other cook book this year. I find the recipes easy and reliable, and only one or two of them have ingredients I can’t get at the supermarket . The recipe style might be too British though?

    2. Nashira

      America’s Test Kitchen has several that are probably quite good. I make their slow cooker carnitas a lottttttt.

    3. AliceBD

      The Fix It and Forget It Cookbook. It’s the one my mom used all the time when I was growing up, and then when I got my own place I got a version of it as well. It’s very basic recipes for generally boring/traditional American food — there’s nothing fancy or exotic, and the most prep work is cutting up veggies and sometimes browning some meats. There is a lot of “dump a can of cream of [food] soup on top of the meat” recipes, if they go for that. You can buy all the ingredients from small town grocery stores. I hate cooking and I use it. My mom used it to cook healthy meals for my brother and I that we would eat while she was acting as a chauffeur for us and starting her own business.

      It’s a bunch of recipes sent in by families all over the place*, like a big version of the cookbooks made by church groups or ladies guilds.

      *I think it’s only around the USA, but tbh I don’t look at the cities very much.

    4. tink

      “365 Slow Cooker Suppers” by Stephanie O’Dea may be right up your MIL’s alley. The prep work is pretty easy/standard stuff like cleaning and cutting the veg, etc.

    5. bassclefchick

      Crock Pot has a great cookbook. But I also recommend Fix it and Forget it. Nothing exotic in there. And honestly I NEVER brown the meat before putting it in the slow cooker. Because I’m just lazy that way. LOL.

      1. Aealias

        +1 crockpot’s branded cookbook. Lots of really easy “dump in these five cans” recipes, but some of the results are amazing! And recipes for a wide variety of not-too-adventurous tastes.

  9. Mallory Janis Ian

    I am about to eat leftover stuffing and cranberry sauce for breakfast: My favorite part of Thanksgiving! Wheee!

    1. Artemesia

      Pumpkin pie was always my go to post holiday breakfast – I mean, squash, egg, milk — sounds like breakfast to me. But this year I didn’t host and so the only pie I have left is the extra lemon meringue I made. Turns out it works just fine as breakfast with a nice tall latte. I mean fruit, egg, crust — breakfast right?

      1. Mallory Janis Ian

        I accidentally won a piecaken (pie baked into a cake) at the garden club fundraiser, so that was my dessert for Thanksgiving. It was a pumpkin pie baked into a spice cake with brown sugar buttercream frosting; it was alright, but I learned that I prefer my pie and cake separate, not gimmicky. Plus, I paid $60 for the thing. I thought I was of the hook because someone else wrote in a bid after mine, but they were disqualified for bidding only $1 more when the minimum bid increase was $10.

      2. Drago Cucina

        Pumpkin pie is acceptable anytime. My real whipped cream is a serving of dairy.

        I took home a piece of carrot cake (actually a piece and a half due to restaurant error) and rationalizes that I should be eating more veggies.

        1. Liane

          Is it a violation of AAM’s rules to say people can have my share of all the pumpkin and sweet potato pies, because I just don’t care for them?
          But I will happily adopt all the unwanted pecan, cherry & even caramel apple pies.

    2. Wrench Turner

      Put a soft fried egg on the stuffing then put cranberry sauce over that. The yolk and cranberries will make a great creamy rich sauce that is sweet and tangy.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian

        I had a hard fried egg beside my stuffing and cranberry sauce. I never could eat soft-cooked eggs; the runny yolks squick me out.

        1. Wrench Turner

          I was for a long time, too. Funny enough, when I began cooking for myself and others, and seriously exploring food I came around and love them when used right.

      1. fposte

        A friend and I ran a “which pie is best?” science experiment. Clear winner among the pumpkins, pecan result less clear.

    3. Natalie

      I always have apple pie for breakfast the day after Thanksgiving. Although this year that was last Saturday since we did my Fakesgiving with my parents on Friday. Fried mashed potatoes is my other favorite post-Thanksgiving breakfast item.

  10. Cristina in England

    Inspired by Cath in Canada’s comment yesterday, what’s the most memorable compliment you’ve ever heard? (Non work related though)

    Mine is: “Oh I didn’t know you weren’t Canadian!” said by a Canadian when I lived in Canada (I am American)

    1. Gaia

      I was going through a really hard time when I was away at college. My family was in crisis, I was depressed and isolated. It was a mess. One day, our school chaplain (I’m not religious, but attended a school owned by the Presbyterian Church) stopped me in the hallway. He asked me how I was and I gave my (what I thought was) fake-cheery answer “just fine! you?”

      He smiled and he told me I have a beautiful soul and he believed I would make a difference in the world. I made it back to my dorm room before I started crying. No one had ever said something like that to me before and it was exactly what I needed to hear.

      I miss that man. I still keep in contact with his wife through Facebook, but I wish he was on there, too.

      1. Sled dog mama

        I’ve been going through a hard time recently and one of the nuns where I work came to check on me and told me she thought I was “a person of great grace.”
        I’m really going to miss her!

    2. Maxwell Edison

      I was at a horror con, wearing a black and burgundy velvet lace-up dress, and the dudes at the Cthulhu booth told me I looked like I belonged in one of the old Hammer horror films.

    3. Maxwell Edison

      One more: A friend told me a line in one of my novels sounded like it had been written by Ray Bradbury. I knew there was no higher compliment my friend could give me; I got all verklempt.

    4. Drago Cucina

      I was at a Doctor Who con. Eric Roberts was talking to someone, stopped, turned to me and said, “You have great hair.” I was fan girl giddy the rest of the weekend.

    5. Wrench Turner

      Something to the effect of “I had no idea you could be so gentle/delicate.” I’m known for my ability to do ‘hardcore’ construction/demolition work but surprised a friend one day who spotted me sitting in a sunny university window and sewing lace together.

      1. Snazzy Hat

        Oh my god that reminds me of the old Yahoo! Groups commercial where a punk with liberty spikes is hand-quilting in his room and a bunch of his friends walk in & laugh their asses off, but then the embarrassed punk ends up searching for quilting groups in his area and finds one full of attractive women who admire his quilting talent.

    6. Catherine from Canada

      Catching up with high school friends 40 years after we’d graduated, one woman turned to me and said,
      “I’ve always remembered you, you were so cool. You seemed like such a rebel, it was so cool.”

      Um, what? It was my fourth high school in four years, my ninth school at that point, third country, second province. Frankly, I’d given up trying to fit in, given up on trying to have friends. And while, because I’d relaxed and stopped trying, it was my best school year ever, I’d certainly never thought of myself as memorable, let alone cool.

      So, whaddyaknow? Being cool is not when you think you’re cool, it’s when you don’t care anymore.

      1. Sophie Winston

        Yup. Someone roughly half my age told me I was cool not too long ago. I gave them some serious side eye, but apparently not caring what people think of you is cool these days.

      2. Not So NewReader

        Being cool is when you are not loaded up with stubborn opinions and judgey stuff. It’s not that caring is UNcool, it’ when people turn themselves into an invasive weed that is such a turn off.

        I am sure you were and still are a very interesting person to talk with.

      3. DragoCucina

        Catherine from Canada, thank you for reminding of one of the best compliments I ever received. I was at a grad school alumni gathering. A grad school friend came up and said she’s been wanting to thank me for being a big influence on her. What?! She told me that by being me I helped her be honest about herself. She came out to her family and met someone. Not something I ever expected. I’ve worked hard to be me. I thought it only mattered to my immediate family.

    7. Mallory Janis Ian

      On two separate occasions at family gatherings, my younger sister and then my younger brother each told the gathered relatives that I’d stood up to our parents and protected them from abuse. They each framed it as if I were a hero or a rebel, but really I was just a kid with nothing else to lose from stepping in and protecting my siblings. What were my parents going to do; hit me? They were going to do that anyway. But it felt good for my grown siblings to remember that I brought some relief to them and that I cared to defend them.

      1. Neruda

        Oh, Mallory Janis Ian. That is all kinds of lovely and sad at the same time. I’m glad you had such a positive impact on their lives.

      2. Not So NewReader

        Okay. am a little choked up here.

        I am sorry life was so horrible but I am glad your siblings remembered that you tried to help them.

    8. printrovert

      I am from the American South, and I am often told that I do not have (or barely have) an accent. I’ve heard it from southerners, midwesterners, and even a few Brits! I looovvee this compliment. But the one memory that stays with me is when a gentleman from New York asked me where I was from and then expressed surprise when I told him I was from the South. He told me I didn’t have the accent, and before I could thank him, his daughter (who looked to be close to my age) scoffed and said “Yeah she does.” I managed to bite my tongue and not throw a comeback at her but looked to her father, smiled, and thanked him. Very nice man. Very pleasant.

      1. Nic

        Same situation here. I moved from a twangy state to a drawling one, and have managed to drop the first and avoid the last. It makes me so happy when folks ask me where I’m from because they cannot guess by accent.

    9. Pennalynn Lott

      Back in junior high (9th grade), I got busted for selling drugs at school. The assistant principal sat me down in his office and said, “Pennalynn, I’m surprised. I would have expected something like this from your friend X or your friend Y, but not you. You’re very intelligent, you’re great with others, and people look up to you. I have to suspend you for 30 days, but I’m choosing to make that 30 calendar days, not 30 school days, because I think this will actually be a wake-up call for you. I believe in you, and I believe that you want to do better with your life.”

      It was the first time any adult had ever said anything like that to me. And, he was right, I did want to do better and it was a wake-up call. I still failed 9th grade (it was impossible to recover from a month of zeroes in every class), but from then on I was a straight-A student and quit hanging out with the stoners. I was grateful to be able to find that principal on FB last year and thank him (34 years later).

        1. Pennalynn Lott

          He said it was the first (and so far only) time anyone has thanked him for suspending them. :-D

          1. Not So NewReader

            LOL. I bet. Sometimes people don’t mention. I have a friend who used to be a real wild child. It took him years to pull his act together. He will mention to me all the people who tried to help along the way, but I doubt he has ever mentioned it to those people. This is how it goes for many reasons. Most of the time we have no idea how we are impacting other people’s lives.

    10. nep

      My two-year-old grand niece saying, ‘Good job!’
      And native French speakers saying, ‘You don’t have that (American English) accent.’

    11. Victoria, Please

      I was at a wine-tasting party and someone asked me, “Are you [hostess’ son’s] girlfriend?” Hostess’ son is 20-something, handsome, kind, and utterly delightful, and *I* am well into my mid-40’s. I am very happily married indeed, but to have someone even think I *might* have been Prince Charming’s girlfriend was a serious ego-boost!

    12. Tomato Frog

      When I was in grad school, I had written a paper on a certain film and lent it to a film student who was doing work on a related topic. We were just passing acquaintances, I knew him through mutual friends. He returned my paper to me when we were attending a small screening. I asked if it had been useful to him, and he told me he hadn’t been able to use a lot from my paper — except there was one great line that he couldn’t help but quote in his own paper. And then he quoted that line I’d written, verbatim, from memory, for the benefit of everyone in the room. I could feel myself flushing all over, in a good way; I don’t think I’ve ever reacted so acutely to a compliment. The fact that he was a disinterested party really made the moment for me.

    13. Snazzy Hat

      I used to go dancing at EBM/Goth/Industrial night at a club in town. I got the following compliments there:

      “Thank you for dancing to every song and not just the popular ones.” Mind you this was from another patron, not the DJ from whom a compliment like that would just mean “I’m glad you like what I spin.”

      “Do you take ballet?” The answer was no. ^_^

      And by far the weirdest, which interrupted me while I was dancing — the previous two were during my breaks — and ended up being a dialogue:
      “What are you on???”
      “Um, nothing? The music?”
      “Aw man, I was hoping I buy some of whatever you had. Okay, if you were on drugs, what would you be on?”
      “Caffeine?”
      “Ahh, forget it!” {walks away}

      I mean I think that’s a compliment…

      1. MsCHX

        Similarly, I was hanging with my sister and her friends many moons ago and whatever the convo was between them the friend looked at me incredulously and said “You’re NOT high right now?!”

        Uhmm. Nope. Not at all! Lol!

        1. Not So NewReader

          I remember a time when friends came over and they stayed and stayed. Their comment was, “I can’t believe we are having so much fun and we are not drinking!”

          At that point I felt that I was a Boring Non-Drinker and their comment was reassuring to me.

    14. bluesboy

      “You could whistle semi-professionally”

      Followed by an explanation as to why I would never be able to go all the way and whistle full professionally.

    15. Cath in Canada

      Yay, I’m glad this happy thread is still going :)

      For me it was when my friend said she was so happy that I’m involved in her daughter’s life because I’m such a great role model for a little girl to have. I’m tearing up again thinking about that!

      My husband, on the other hand, is not so good at the compliments. I think “when I met you, I dumped all the other girls I was seeing” is about as good as it gets :D

    16. admin of sys

      I was once told by a friend that I was the person they were going to go find in case of a zombie apocalypse/other disaster, and all the other people around agreed with them. Which was certainly complimentary, but maybe a little daunting….

    17. TootsNYC

      My mom once said to me, “I think you need to hear what your sister said to me the other day.”

      One of my sister’s best friends was picked on and ostracized at school; she was a little round (not even quite pudgy, just not skinny), and she read fashion magazines like a maniac, and dressed very fashionably.
      Even 8 years after *I* had graduated, our school was big on the “you shouldn’t stand out, you shouldn’t have passions unless they’re band, choir, or sports” concept. So people were kind of mean to her.
      And my sister told my mom, “I said to Michelle, ‘Look at my sister, Toots. People used to pick on her and be mean to her, too–but look at her now. She lives in NYC, she works at a famous company, and these mean people don’t even cross her mind anymore. I’m sure she never, ever thinks of them–and I know she doesn’t, and didn’t, care what she thought of them. And if she can do it, so can you.”

      It was sort of amazing to realize that you could be a role model to someone you didn’t even know that well!

  11. Oh My Glob

    Just a quick update: I got the endometrial ablation this week, and all went well. It didn’t hurt as much as I’d feared (slightly more than the biopsy, but less than bad menstrual cramps, though I wouldn’t have wanted to do it without the painkillers they gave me), and my partner held my hand all through. It only took about 10 minutes for the active part. Cramps the rest of the day (took a few ibuprofen and used a heating pad) and two minutes of intense nausea as the drugs wore off, but I felt fine the day after and since then. And I think I’ve gotten a new regular gyn out of it – one who I feel comfortable with. Based on my experience, I’d recommend it to someone in similar circumstances.

    1. Gaia

      That sounds great! I’m glad you did it and I hope it really helps!

      Oh and yay for a new gyn you feel comfortable with. That can be SO HARD to find!

    2. Sophie Winston

      Glad to hear it went well! Hopefully you’ll be one of the lucky ones that has good long term results.

    3. AnAppleADay

      I had one in 2004 and recommend it to any one who is done having kids and has heavy bleeding. I had a bit more of a recovery process than you: vomited a bit in the recovery room and days later had an UTI and had to go on antibiotics. But, once I got through all that, it was a huge relief to not have much of a period after that.

      I’m glad you had a good experience and quick recovery!

  12. bassclefchick

    Well, this will go down as one of the worst Thanksgivings of my life. The holiday itself was fine. Got to spend time with my family and some friends I don’t get to see. However, a very dear, sweet friend of mine committed suicide on Wednesday morning. Everyone who knew him is just shocked and beyond devastated. No one saw it coming. His best friend is absolutely destroyed by this.

    Admittedly, I didn’t keep in touch with him as much as I should have. We were facebook friends and interacted there quite often. But I didn’t even have his phone number. I’ve been absolutely heartbroken reading all the memorials on his page. I wish he had realized how truly loved he was. But I’ve also been down that rabbit hole before and know that nothing we could have said would have gotten through.

    Please tell those around you how much you care. If even one kind word would have saved him, we wouldn’t have lost such a funny, kind, and thoughtful man.

    1. Gaia

      I’m so sorry. I’ve known my share of people that have committed suicide and it is always so painful because I always wish I could have known to say the “right” thing that would have saved them. I lost a sister and some friends to suicide over the years and it is the worst thing I’ve ever experienced.

      I am sorry for your friend that didn’t see another option. I am sorry for his friends and loved ones that are now missing him and I am sorry for you.

      If anyone reading this is considering, or knows someone considering suicide, please know there are other options. Life is worth living. And there is help available. 800-273-8255 is the National Suicide Hotline. They can offer help, guidance or just a kind silence as they listen. Please reach out. You aren’t alone.

    2. the gold digger

      I am very very sorry for your loss. I am reading Nadia Bolz-Weber’s new book, Accidental Saints. She said something at the funeral for a man who had committed suicide that really struck me – that if love could have saved the man, then love would have saved him because he was loved so much.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian

        A young priest from a local congregation committed suicide a couple years ago, and I’m still haunted by his description, in his suicide note, of feeling alone and separate even though he was surrounded by a congregation. They loved and respected him and thought that he knew and felt that, but he felt a distance between himself and others that wasn’t bridged by their caring.

      1. Observer

        Telling is more important – you can “show” all you want, but people don’t see it. Of course, if you don’t care and don’t act like you care, then it doesn’t make any difference whether you care or not. But you can spend your life loving someone and doing things you think will make them happy, and they won’t necessarily realize it, unless you SAY something.

    3. Not So NewReader

      Some people are caught in their own private hells and we have no way of knowing.

      To anyone who is feeling alone or isolated, there is someone out there who cares that you are feel blah or hopeless, please find that caring person. Holidays are especially rough for too many people.

      OP, I am sorry for your loss. And my sympathies go out to this man’s friends and family.

      1. Jean

        >Some people are caught in their own private hells and we have no way of knowing.
        Yes, this. Some people may be in enormous pain that they cannot relieve in another way.

        I am also sorry for your loss. May his memory be a comfort and an inspiration (to continue something that he valued) … eventually.

    4. bassclefchick

      Thank you for all the kind thoughts. It’s never easy to realize that we all have our own private hells and even though someone looks happy on the outside, we never really know how much someone is suffering.

      I think I’ll try to find a charity or cause he believed in and make a donation in his name.

  13. Elkay

    If anyone wants cheering up, read the @Quidco Twitter feed from yesterday. They’re a cashback site who’s site fell over at 8am on Black Friday, the guys running that feed deserve a big bonus this year.

  14. Marcela

    My teenage niece is pregnant. She is 17 and hasn’t finished high school. She lives in a country where abortion is not legally possible, and a couple of days ago she decided not to abort (women on waves would send pills to countries like mine). From that point on, it’s like it’s going to be a disaster anyway. She is not ready for a child, her whole support is my brother, because my sister, her mom, is a selfish excuse of a human who allowed this same niece to be abused by one of her boyfriends about 10 years ago. However, she can’t be forced to abort, there are no words to describe how bad as an alternative this would be.

    I worry so much about the future that now is not going to be, but I keep remembering that given my niece’s family circumstances, there was no future to begin with. She wasn’t going to get an education, she doesn’t like to study (and my sister is a teacher!) and she had to repeat one year already. My brother was trying to get her to study promising her a PS4 if she got decent grades, which my niece wanted so much, and my sister response was that she was going to burn it. And at the same time, my sister is so stupid that when my other niece finished high school, she forced her to apply to medicine school. Surely my other niece was going to enter into the career with most fierce competition in my country, after 12 years of not caring about school. Of course she could not enter.

    And at the same time, I worry so much about my family’s reaction. 20 years ago, it was my sister who got pregnant without being married, and you’d think she was dying, for the way my elders reacted. And my sister was 30 years old, already with a job as a teacher! My family forced her to marry her boyfriend, another excuse of human, and by that action my sister got two children instead of one. He actually tried to avoid the marriage ghosting my sister in two occasions, not going to the office where the legal marriage was to be performed. My grandmother and my sister both cried for 6 months straight. I used to spend all afternoons with my grandmother and she would take naps, actually crying sessions. She was kind of deaf, so I don’t think she realized I could hear her crying _every single day_.

    I don’t know. I feel like I’m in the middle of a curse, a repeating curse. I dread my mom’s reaction, for I would fight to death if she decides to behave like my grandmother did. But I am far away, too far to do anything useful. I just feel so sad and tired.

    1. Drago Cucina

      I know you are scared for her. My family was in a cycle of teenage pregnancy until I and another family member broke the pattern within months of each other. Family expectations can weigh very hard. Is adoption something she would consider? Are there reputable agencies near her? There may be more options than just two.

      1. Marcela

        You know, I know that adoption is an alternative, but I’ve never seen it being chosen, and I have several friends who got pregnant without wanting to, some of them while still in high school, others in college. And it’s not like they chose to keep the babies, therefore adoption was out of picture from early on; as in my country abortion is illegal, at first it seems that once pregnant there is nothing to do.

        In any case, yours is a good point. There are more options. Besides, I am trying hard to see what exactly causes me this anguish. I know some of it is my niece’s future and how she is going to deal with her life and a baby. But I also know I have some trauma left from my sister’s pregnancy 20 years ago, and I can’t see babies as a blessing, although intellectually I know they are. I feel them like they are a condemn and I don’t want to!

        1. the gold digger

          My cousin gave her baby up for adoption when she was 15. The adoptive parents were angels – everyone knew that the baby was going to be born with severe birth defects and not live very long, but the adopters took the baby anyhow and loved and cared for her for her very short life.

          My cousin has gone on to become a registered nurse in her 40s – the first person in her family to go to college – and is now married with three lovely children.

          I can’t imagine that a person would ever get over having a baby die, but especially not at the age of 15.

    2. Gaia

      Oh dear. First and foremost, I am sorry abortion is not legally an option. While it doesn’t sound like she would have chosen it, had it been legal she might have and she should have had that legal right. Nevertheless, here we are.

      Have you been able to discuss adoption with her? While she may not have much hope of a future (I think she still can, she just needs to make some big changes and those are hard), the child may with a different family.

      I am so sorry for your niece. It sounds like she has had a really hard life and this is just a culmination of that. We have to do better.

      1. Marcela

        I did get out. And even I did not plan it, not explicitly this way, I live in a different continent than my family, and I’ve refused any plan that could eventually take us back to my country. It’s not like I feel some special pride for my good life, I’ve always known it’s more luck than anything else, but now I wonder why did I get out. We -my brother and husband- have long known I’m way too different from the rest of my family, with whom I have very controlled relationships. Somehow the question is why that difference, whatever it is, didn’t get pass to my nieces? If someone needed that luck, they are. At least my parents, crazy and all, were determined to get us to get an education, which was the basis for my good life. Or perhaps was that education the key?

        1. Temperance

          Education is the key. That’s why people like your sister hate it so much, and why she’s trying to keep her daughters from achieving anything. That is why your sister tried to force her child into an academic program she knew the girl would fail at, and why she threatened to destroy the PS4 if her kid achieved.

    3. The RO-Cat

      I do feel a lot of compassion for your niece, and I’m sorry for you – going through this sometimes is a little hell of its own kind. For what it’s worth, please know that I’m including you both in my prayers (I don’t pray in the religious sense, but it’s a very close equivalent, for me).

      Unfortunately, “a repeating curse” is a very apt description. Wikipedia has a good article on transgenerational trauma and it looks like such cycles are common, where trauma is passed along generations. So, no wonder the history repeats itself ad nauseatum. But know that the cycle can be broken. With sheer willpower, luck or therapy, it can be broken. I’m a (luckily) living proof.

      (On a side note, curiously, it seems trauma is passed along generations also by epigenetics. Discover Magazine has an article tited “Grandma’s Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes”. I don’t give links to avoid moderation).

      So, please know that there are many people in this world unknowingly repeating past mistakes. Some of them are keeping you and your niece in their thoughts.

      1. Marcela

        Thank you so much. I’m not religious, and I truly hate the Catholic organization in my country for reasons like the impossibility of making abortion legal, but even so, if somebody pray for me, I feel very grateful and blessed for someone to care about me. Thanks!

        A few moments ago, reading neverjaunty and your comments, I was almost ready to say my sister is the only one being in this curse. Somehow I was negating things we know or suspect from a past we didn’t even know, such as the suspicion we have that my grandmother was abused by one of the many friends her mother invited to their place. She never said anything, but she was extremely paranoid with her children. Or the recent discovery that my (second degree) uncle’s parents were half siblings. And these are the things we know now. How many things there could be in all the extended branches of my family? My mom wanted to know all about that and her quest led to the discovery of my uncle’s parents, which was devastating for him, and ended the whole thing.

    4. Temperance

      I’m so sorry, Marcela. I too have a conservative, anti-intellectual family.

      For starters, your niece isn’t doomed just because her family sucks. My family sucks, too, and I like to think that I’m a productive, free-thinking member of society. Seriously – my grandmother was a teenage mother who didn’t finish high school, my own mother didn’t finish high school, and none went to college. I have a JD.

      Your sister sounds mean and mentally ill.

      1. Marcela

        Hehe, when I don’t feel generous I say my sister is evil. And dumb. She is so much like my mom, though. Both of them would love a world where they could do anything they wanted but the responsibility would belong to somebody else. Both of them think they are entitled to anything they want, just because they exist.

        I do believe we are kind of mentally ill. All of us, some more than others. What makes me afraid is thinking that the root is in the deep past, with people dead for more than 100 years. How could you possibly cure something like that, when we don’t even know exactly what is rotting inside us? And that even if everybody is on board of looking for better lives, whatever that means for them.

        1. Temperance

          I think a lot of it is the toxic behavior patterns of our extended family. I don’t really think that it’s coded in our DNA and we’re doomed, but I do really think that it is repeated in the actions and thoughts of our family. If we don’t recognize the toxicity, we can’t fix it, you know?

    5. TL -

      Just give her support. If this is what she’s choosing, help her make the best of it – her life isn’t over, it’s just different.

      Lots of people have had babies as teenagers and figured out their lives anyways. It doesn’t mean the rest of her life has to be a certain way; gently remind her of that if you can.

      1. Marcela

        That’s the thing, TL. I feel like her life is over and I can’t convince myself using reason that although it’s surely going to be more difficult, in reality she has so much to overcome because of my sister, that having a good and happy life was going to be a difficult battle for her anyway.

        However, it’s good to see some of the things I get for the comments, for I can see where I get defensive and try to deny stuff. That will help me to give her all the support she wants from me, with a clear head.

        1. Not So NewReader

          My friend grew up in a weird family. Dad was weird in some undefined ways and mom pretended life was normal, which was another kind of weirdness.

          For whatever reason, my friend started hanging out in the office at school. She did odd jobs etc. Again, for some reason, she decided that she wanted something different than what she saw at home. She decided she wanted to work in an office and do like these office people around her were doing.

          My friend is over 5o now and she has, indeed, carved out a different life for herself.
          While my friend’s situation is probably not as severe as yours, the parallels hit me.

          First you both had to have some level of awareness that life could be different.
          Then you both had to know when you could grab an opportunity at that different life.
          And you made the jump. There is that time where you have no idea where you will land or how you will land, you just know that you should jump. So this part is pretty scary.
          Then you land and you have to convince yourself that life is different now. Okay this is getting to be a lot of work and it takes a lot of strength.

          In many ways lots of people get stuck. And that is what you are talking about here, being stuck. It’s a hard thing to watch, especially if a person realizes, “OH MY! That could have been ME, too!”

          So my suggestion:
          First, get and KEEP your feet firmly anchored. Take care of you first, so that you have a unshakeable platform to take care of others.

          Second, maybe you can start suggesting to your niece that life does not have to be this hard. Life can be different. Find ways to show her what is available in the world that may be interesting to her, if you can. People have to know what options are available before they will consider leaving what they have.

          Third, understand that you may not be able to get your niece to a different place but in an odd twist someone else may overhear you and decide to accept your helping hand. Be on the watch for a person like this.
          Often times we don’t get to pick who accepts our help or how much of our help they do accept. This is some of the harder stuff in life to deal with really. It’s so hard that many people won’t think about or try to do this. Congratulate yourself for even thinking or trying to help.

        2. OhBehave

          It sounds to me as if your niece has something you and your siblings didn’t have. That would be someone who can offer support and smart advice about her life. She needs this desperately if she is going to have any success in this life and end the cycle of bad choices and dead end lives.
          If there is any way at all that she can move away from mom and Grandmother, she may have a chance. I don’t know your culture or laws in order to think this would even be possible at her age. Adoption is an excellent choice for her I would think.
          She’s lucky to have you and your brother in her life.

    6. Jen Erik

      My niece got pregnant when she was 15, at a time when her family was struggling to cope. We urged my sister to bring her to somewhere to talk over her options – abortion, adoption, continuing with the pregnancy – but that never happened. As a family, we feared the worst – that she wouldn’t finish school, that the expense and effort of another family member would tip her family over the edge into chaos – while my sister would only assume the best – that she’d finish school, marry the child’s father, and live happily ever after.

      So, we were right, and the worst was bad, and the ramifications continue five years later. However, my niece is doing well – she dropped out of school, but finished her education a different way, and has an offer from a university. She broke up with her boyfriend, but they share custody amicably, and she is a good, sensible mother – much more sensible than her mum (or dad) ever was.
      And her son is like sunshine – perhaps the back-and-forth of his early years contributed to him becoming adaptable, extrovert and easy-going.

      So, I wanted to commiserate, but also to say that even if all the things you fear happen in the short-term (my niece had a few bad years), it doesn’t necessarily mean that your niece won’t have a stable and happy adulthood.

    7. TootsNYC

      “But I am far away, too far to do anything useful.”

      You are close enough, connected enough, that you can be a sane, friendly refuge for your niece. If you can set aside your own fears and worries for her, and instead be the encouraging, matter-of-fact, “love you no matter what; you can find a way to cope with this” type of person.

      She’s so desperately going to need SOMEone who doesn’t go batshit crazy on her. Be that person.

    8. Anono-me

      In addition to all the good advice above; please remember that every day, you are showing your niece that family is NOT destiny.

  15. Drago Cucina

    We had a split Thanksgiving this year. Youngest son is a department manager at the big blue box chain. I made him a traditional Thanksgiving dinner Wednesday because he had to work Thanksgiving, Black Friday, today….. I’m hoping all the shoppers stay sane. He’s 6’1″ and so put on crowd control. His roommate works in electronics (G-d bless him).

    Thanksgiving we went out with our oldest son, his roommate, two friends of ours, our asst. pastor, and another priest. It was like a joke two priests and a deacon walk into a bar…. It was a very festive meal.

    I just finished making and freezing turkey broth that I began yesterday. It’s pretty tasty. This after during the B.I.G. Football Game I will probably go to the mall. It should be quiet.

  16. Limbolee

    I’m 28 and going through my first pregnancy “scare”. Rationally, chances are very very low. The timing would definitely not be good, but it would also not be the end of the world, and I’m feeling a bit weird because of that conclusion, like, “who is this person I am?!” :P Just recently I was thinking how I’m so not ready for kids yet, and now I’m not freaking out majorly.

    We’ll see, I’ll wait a couple of days before taking a test. Just felt the need to share with someone other than my boyfriend and best friend, since it feels so monumental, whichever way it goes.

    1. Gaia

      Been there. Honestly, I had a lot of emotions during my first (and second) scare. There were times when I thought it wasn’t and was End of World. But I knew how I really felt when the test came back. It was extreme relief confirming that I didn’t really want a kid. At all. Ever.

      You’ll know when you get the results back, either way. And whatever you feel, that is valid.

    2. Sunflower

      Oh boy I remember my first one. I was 24 and it was terrifying. I had never been late, let alone missed one completely so I was like ‘yup this is it’. I had no job. I had been going back and forth for a month about whether I wanted to break up with my boyfriend. I had always thought I would be torn about what to do but I knew. Every time I tried to entertain the other possibility, it just didn’t seem real. Luckily I was not pregnant but it was reassuring to know how easily I made the decision about what I would do.

      Personally, I would wait a full week after your missed period before taking the test. The hormone that the test tests for- there’s only limited % chances that the hormone will show up in the days right after you’re late. Once you’re 7 days late, there’s a 99% chance the hormone will show up. So even if you take it 3 days after you missed, you’re gonna have to take it again a few days later just to be sure!

    3. Stellaaaaa

      Been there :( the two times it has happened, I looked at my bank balance and decided I could afford to spend the $500 if I really had to. Fortunately it ended up not being necessary.

    4. Christy

      I don’t know your feelings on abortion. I’m staunchly a believer in abortion on demand, without apology. I know not everyone is comfortable with the idea of getting an abortion, but if that’s something you’d consider, just remember that the earlier the cheaper and better. I volunteer for the DC abortion fund and there are many local funds to help women who can’t afford abortions, and the National Abortion Fund or Planned Parenthood can also help with cost.

      Good luck! I hope you get what you’re hoping for, and I’m sorry you’re in a scare of any sort. Scares are no good.

      1. Limbolee

        Thank you for the support and sharing your experience, everybody, it helps!

        I am very much pro-choice. I researched abortion costs and availability yesterday, and thankfully it’s something that’s an option. It definitely scares me to think of being in a position where it wasn’t! I’m in Europe (so no PP or similar organizations in my country), and unfortunately things are politically moving in the direction of making it either illegal or very difficult to get, and it’s horrifying. I live in a capital and I could afford it if need be, so I’m thankful for that.

        That said, right now I’m leaning towards keeping it, but still hoping that I don’t need to make that decision at all.

  17. Artemesia

    Whine. so why is perfectly functional software upgraded all the time e.g. the overdrive ebook access to libraries worked great. The new overdrive ebook library software is slow, harder to use and I can’t see a single improved feature. It is as if every new crop of interns was turned loose on the web site design. Whine.

    1. CAA

      I’m also hating the Overdrive redesign. If you don’t select “ebooks only” before searching, then there’s no way to add that to your filters later, and it shows items in random order, which makes it really difficult to see what’s new since the last time you logged in. In case it helps you, I did tear apart the URLs and came up with this query for “fiction ebooks added in the last week”. It works for all 3 of the libraries where I have a card, so I think it’s standard for any library using the new site format. I bookmarked this for each library so I don’t have to deal with navigating the search settings any more.

      /search?subject=26&sortBy=newlyadded&availableFirst=false&mediaType=eBook&addedDate=days-0-7

    2. bon-bons for all!

      Oh no! The original search interface was pretty bad; who the heck makes OR the default connector? If I type in WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, I promise I don’t want to see every book by someone named William.

      And now I’m going to have to dig up my credentials because they didn’t migrate with the update. Grrrr…

      1. Artemesia

        Yeah that was the worst. Luckily the number for the library for which I no longer have an actual card was written down in my password file.

    3. Liane

      Oh I am so glad to know it is not Just me hating it. I have to go through several layers to find the genres I like. Old, one with that dropdown menu for those plus selecting audio or ebook only options.
      The least they could do is allow us to select the genres that show on the home page. I want SF, fantasy, & mysteries. Not Overdrive’s idea of what I am most interested in.

    4. bassclefchick

      I thought it was just me, too! I hate the new Overdrive. It’s won’t even save my library card number anymore. I really don’t want to have to drag my card out every time I log in.

      1. Colette

        I hate it too, but my library lets me set up a username which I can use to log in, so I never need my library card. Is that an option for you?

    5. Natalie

      Bleh, I hate it when that happens. I finally updated my iOS software and it changed, for no reason, one little detail about how the keyboard works which is driving me bananas.

    6. Rebecca

      Thanks for the head’s up! Between my eBranch2Go library (uses Overdrive) and Audible, I’m never without an audio book. At least now I’ll know why things are different and worse :(

    7. Garland Not Andrews

      Well that explains why my sister called and needed my library card number. She uses it more than I do. Fooee!

  18. Mephyle

    I just finished reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell! I liked some of the same things about it that I liked about The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing (two-volume series) by M.T. Anderson, namely that it is full of philosophical observations that make you want to highlight them. And they are not obtrusive; they grow out of the story but they make you think, “how perceptive; yes, life is like that in this century, too.”

  19. overcaffeinatedandqueer

    I am not sure if my wife is entirely sane. :) We’re in Alabama for Thanksgiving weekend, and when we were shopping in Orange Beach, we saw a guy with a shirt saying “Deplorable is my name, Trump is my game!” He was glaring at us.

    So I just moved closer to my wife, who said, “I call shotgun for the way home! Aren’t I a nice WIFE?”

    It was pretty funny to see the guy’s face. Now we’re going a bit inland to the Mobile Bay Area to shop, so I just hope everything is OK there too. I have never dealt with outright homophobia until recently, so I do worry.

    1. and then she moved to NC

      I used to live down that way. I think there is a lot more tolerance now than there was when I was younger, but I wouldn’t go as far as to call that area progressive. Mobile and Baldwin, like most of the state, is pretty conservative. That said, I haven’t seen or heard of any public ugliness, and I know quite a few people who still live where I did who are non-heterosexual, non-Christian, and non-white. For the most part, and it may depend on which neighborhood you are in and who is that same neighborhood that day, people will be polite and respectful and keep their opposing views and personal opinions to themselves until they get home where they can voice themselves to like-minded relatives/roommates/spouses.

    2. Liane

      Sounds like you had a good time. I wish I could see a picture of that guy’s face! And that the rest of your trip is great without bigotry.

      Not all the Deep South is anti-gay. Our small Methodist church in Little Rock, Arkansas isn’t, and I can’t think of anyone I have met in the 8+ years I have lived here who has acted bigoted. There’s even a big Gay Pridefest here–my daughter and her cosplay group marched in the parade this year. I have asked her to find out if they’d let a straight female Star Wars costumer join them next year. :) It should be okay. I people watched when I picked her up–there were as many traditional-looking families/couples leaving as gay ones.
      Now in other parts of the state, and even in the Capitol Building downtown :P, this may not hold. For example, that horrible, perv-ful, Quiverful ex-reality-TV family–that I won’t name because I believe they should be consigned to obscurity–lives in another part of Arkansas. Fun fact–they live right near Eureka Springs, the artsy Arkansas town that has been very gay-friendly for decades I think. (Yes, I hope it bothers that unnamed family *a lot*)

  20. Sandy

    I am having an absolutely crap week. An expensive crap week, to boot.

    Our fridge died. Thanks to the really specific dimensions in a kitchen I am not fond of anyways, I either need to spend 1200 bucks on a fridge (even with Black Friday sales!) or redo the whole kitchen. Needless to say, I have spent days researching fridge dimensions…

    Evil old job reached back to me to tell me that they accidentally overpaid me 6000 bucks five years ago, so could I please write them a cheque within 72 hours to pay them back?

    Then my alma mater got in touch to tell me that their computer systems were hacked and all my info was lost.

    Oh, and both my cat and kid are violently ill.

    It’s like the revenge of real life over here.

    1. Nicole

      Your old employer’s request in general is ridiculous, but the time period they expect you to give back the money is even more insane. I would think there’s some sort of statute of limitations in such a situation. In fact, I just Googled it and it varies by state so you should check if they even have legal standing. If not, ignore them.

      Hope things get better for you!

        1. Artemesia

          It is enough money to get legal advice if you aren’t sure. With debts the clock starts running again if you pay ANYTHING — so don’t do ANYTHING without knowing your legal position whether by googling your state rules on this sort of thing or getting legal advice. Don’t send them $100 bucks or acknowledge the debt or anything and find that that now obligates you to repay the whole thing when the law would have let you ignore it. 5 years — I would certainly think it is too late to try to enforce that, but you need to find out. and not respond in any way until you do.

    2. periwinkle

      I can commiserate about the fridge, ugh. Our kitchen was customized by the original owner to include a cabinet surround for the fridge. Although the fridge conveyed when we bought the place, it was original to the house and thus 24 years old.

      We had planned to keep using the original one until we could gut/redo the kitchen, but nope, it had other plans last autumn. The only current units that fit in that unalterable space were top-freezer models under 20 cu.ft. so we now have a small, low-end fridge with inadequate freezer space until we can do the remodel in a couple years. At least we’ll have a future spare fridge (or something to donate).

      1. Mallory Janis Ian

        We had the exact same problem, with the built-in, 20-year-old, small fridge and the kitchen needing a remodel, like, fifteen years ago. We bought the huge, French-door fridge of our dreams, and now we *have* to get a move-on with the kitchen remodel, because the fridge is standing out in front of the hole that it is supposed to fit into.

      2. Artemesia

        This happened to us with our first house. the refrigerator quit the first week and was odd and small and in a little niche — we could not find a refrigerator that would fit in our odd kitchen full of doorways and it ended up in the breakfast room (owning the breakfast room)

        I think we will have a similar problem with our current place when the thing kicks.

      3. AcademiaNut

        Fridges don’t have to actually go in the kitchen. :-)

        We have a small galley kitchen, with no room for the fridge, so it goes in the main room of the apartment. It takes a little more planning while cooking, but it’s doable.

    3. TootsNYC

      I sort of don’t understand why fridges don’t come in like 4 standard sizes.
      Dishwashers are 24″ or 18″; stoves are a few standard widths.

      Why can’t fridges be pretty standard?

  21. Gene

    Time for the final Formula 1 race of the season; I’m watching qualifying now. And it matters! If Hamilton finishes 4th or worse, Rosberg wins the season. If he finishes higher than 4th, Rosberg has to finish week behind for Hamilton to win the season.

    In that vein, I’ve gotten my SCCA National Flagging license and am planning on trying to work the USGP next season of I can manage it.

    1. fposte

      I vaguely know about this because apparently Google News personalization is extremely crude. Because of my interest in Hamilton the musical, I now know about Hamilton in Formula One and Hamilton, Ontario.

      Hope you get to flag, Gene. That might even make me watch :-).

    2. Nat

      I’m hoping for a Ricciardo upset! Not a big Rosberg fan, but so tired of Hamilton’s ego… Prost-Senna battles were much more interesting than these two!

      1. Gene

        I wonder if the team is going to rip Hamilton a new one after this race. I’m not a huge fan of team orders, but for an F1 driver to essentially tell the pit wall to suck it?

        1. Nat

          Yea… Nico could have crashed him out at the start, but that would have been wrong. So deliberately forcing your teammate into the grasp of opponents seems wrong as well. This is such a weird sport in that teammates compete against each other. It’s a recipe for conflict. If Hamilton had won by that strategy, would he have been proud?

  22. Allypopx

    I just spent money I absolutely shouldn’t have spent on Black Friday sales. I do need new clothes for work…but probably didn’t need that many. It was definitely a bought of stress spending mixed with terrible mental justification that everything was on sale. Dreading my credit card bill.

      1. Allypopx

        I’ll either return some of it or take the opportunity to do a culling of my wardrobe. My boyfriend will probably still have some opinions. I’m already taking over more than my share of closet space.

  23. Fearful Anon

    I feel like I’ve been dealing with a lot of fear recently. I have a pretty good life. Fantastic friends and family, a job that is pretty good and provides me with enough money for food and house and fun stuff, hobbies that make me happy. Everything personal has been great with me.

    But this last year, I’ve been a lot more afraid of the outside world. It feels like every time I turn on the news, I am face to face with how terrible the world is. Shootings, torture, wars, government corruption, everything feels so horrible all the time. Even the state of our planet seems in a downward spiral that we can’t stop.

    My family and friends try to get me to look on the bright side of life. My father says that the world has always been a terrible place, it’s just that the speed of tech nowadays means we hear all new everywhere all the time. My mother says that there’s far more good in the world than bad, it’s just that the bad is usually what gets highlighted in the news and is often the loudest.

    When I’m engrossed with my own life, I’m quite happy and optimistic. It’s when I look about me that I get really scared and depressed. I try not to put too much focus on those things but I still want to know what’s going on the world, even if the news always depresses me. Is there anyone else who feels this way? How do you deal with the overload of negativity from the world?

    1. Allypopx

      I think a lot of people are feeling that way right now.

      The best thing I find is just to ground myself in the things I can physically impact. The people around me. My morning coffee. My favorite pens. When the world as a meta is too much I focus on what I can actually experience with my five senses and that tends to help. I am also a big proponent of self care when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Have a second piece of pie. Curl up in cozy blankets. Pet your cat. Go for a run. Whatever makes you feel good.

      And lean on the people you love for support. Things are scary but we’re all in this together.

    2. fposte

      I think being choosy about your communication streams is huge. What media you consume, including social media, affects your view of the world big-time. Beware of the fallacy that being depressed is a sign that you’re in touch and not being depressed is a sign of ignorance; consider if you feel better about your own life because you’re doing, not passively receiving, and think if there are ways for you to take local action that makes you feel more engaged there.

      And remember news is generally bad news. Headlines rarely scream “World poverty at lowest point in 200 years!” (which is true). As the Our World in Data folks say, “these are the slow processes that never make the headlines – on no day in the last 5 decades was there ever the headline ‘Global Child Mortality Fell by 0.00719% Since Yesterday’.” Yet child mortality has fallen an astonishing amount in the last 50 years.

      And be aware of who you talk to and how the conversations go. We’ve got a little neighborhood webpage, and one topic of conversation is this year’s crime wave. It’s low-rent burglaries and thefts from unlocked cars, which are deeply unpleasant, but we’ve always had those, yet some people start ramping up the conversation as if this were the serpent in the Garden of Eden and we might as well have Jack the Ripper amongst us. So I’m careful about how much I read there and I will occasionally note the historical figures about neighborhood crime that give better perspective on the current numbers.

        1. Myrin

          Yeah. I stopped really paying attention to the news two years or so ago and it’s been such a huge relief with regards to my personal well being. I always hear things that are of importance to me but there is just so much stuff going on in the world that has absolutely nothing to do with me and doesn’t affect me in any way, so why should I run myself ragged worrying about it?

        2. Natalie

          Definitely. A couple of Thursdays ago (during That Week), my phone spent the night at the phone hospital and it was great. No mindless news or Facebook reading. I mean, I own a laptop so I could have checked there, but I just don’t do that usually so I didn’t. I read a book and my husband watched a show and it was divine.

          I have actually been appreciating the No-Election rule here. Even though I like and respect a lot of people here and would like to talk to you all about this, it’s really nice to have a place to NOT talk about it.

    3. Mallory Janis Ian

      I like what Mr. Rogers says that his mother told him when he was a child: in any disaster that’s on the news, look at the helpers. There are always people who are helping. I have been stressed out and anxious this past couple of weeks, wondering what our country is going to come to, etc. And I keep coming back to, “look for the helpers” and by extension, *be* a helper. Somebody posted on Facebook that a little free library at the boys and girls club near my house was empty; I gathered a stack of children’s and young adult books and drove right over there. Several other people had the same impulse, because the case was two-thirds full by the end of that same evening. I’m just looking for and acting on opportunities to add kindness and help to the world around me, even if it’s just through small actions.

      1. dawbs

        There are other root causes for this being a discussion in my house recently, but…my 6 year old knows her most important job is to ‘be kind’. More important than what she’s learning at school is being kind at school.

        So I asked her on Wed if she’d been able to be kind, and she said yes– a boy in her class gave her “11 white straw pieces’ (<I did not ask why 11 straw pieces were important; apparently they are currency in first-grade classrooms and I was unaware). She said she kept 5, and gave 5 to her BFF…and threw 1 away so they would have the same and no one would feel bad about having less.
        And that's small (it's 1 scrap of cut up straw small) but it's a nice step.

        (We also started some of our planning, she took her donation to the humane society this week [bank of mom and dad does matching funds], and she and I get to brainstorm ways for me to be kind too…because she sometimes reminds me of the example I'm supposed to be)

        1. Nic

          That is doing parenting right. I especially love but you came up with ideas together of how you can be a better example!

    4. printrovert

      I used to be a pretty big worrier, but last year I read “You Are a Badass” by Jen Sincero. It changed my outlook on a lot of things for the most part and helped me to find ways of coping with stress. I recognize that a lot of what I was feeling was rooted in fear and that fear was something that I was imagining was happening or was going to happen. But because whatever I was worried over hadn’t actually happened yet, I was really just creating a fiction. Anyway, it’s an interesting book. I recommend it.

      1. nep

        Browsing an excerpt now — loving it.
        So true that worry changes outcomes absolutely not at all. Just takes us out of living the moment.

    5. Mags

      I stopped reading the news. I’m ignorant, but my mental state hasn’t been better in years. I’m working on managing my anxiety and depression, and will hopefully be able to take my head out of the sand one day. But for now I am content.

    6. Not So NewReader

      It’s really important that to keep in mind that the media thrives on our fears. There are professions that use fear for motivation, too. Much of what we do is fear based. “Better buy as much toothpaste as you can when it’s 2/$4 because the price MIGHT GO UP!” If you really think about it, the price of toothpaste going up is just not a major life challenge.

      I think that it is really important to respect ourselves when we have fear. What does this respect look like? Well, dialing back on media is a great step. But how about investing in yourself? Always wanted a garden? go for it. Been thinking about asking for more responsibility at work? Stop thinking and start asking. Or you could possibly decide that life is short and you are ready to confront some of your smaller fears that you have been avoiding.
      We can use our fears to move us forward. We can decide “You know what if I do X that I have always worried about, I can get that behind me and have one less smaller worry.”
      In some cases fear is the lack of knowledge or experience. “Gee, my roof is leaking. I am not afraid to up here but I am afraid I will screw up the repair if I try. Neighbor said he would show me how to fix it, maybe now is the time to learn to fix my roof.”
      In other arenas, our fears can insist that we help someone else. “Being without food is my biggest fear in life, I must, must, must donate to that local pantry that I just learned about.”

      Our fears can guide us and help us fortify weak spots in ourselves and our lives. My suggestion is when you feel fear commit to finding something to do that in some way, even a small way, address the fear or some part of that fear. Likewise, helping someone else with their fears is a good way to help ourselves feel empowered, too.

    7. AnAppleADay

      It’s good to hear that generally you feel good about you and your life. UpThread people posted about doing good for others in need and that it can be uplifting to contribute to the good in the world. That may empower you so much so you don’t get caught feeling helpless and paralyzed by fear.

      For many, many people in the world, fear has been building all year. You are not alone and may even be tapping into that “collective consciousness” or whatever it’s called.

      My son and I had insomnia night of Nov 8, 9 and off and on since then. Nearly every one of my friends near and far had insomnia the night of the 8th or 9th. My long time doctor, my GP, even had insomnia the night of the 8th.

    8. Nic

      I understand what you mean completely! I have gotten more afraid recently, even though I am of a privileged race, religion, sexuality, and am cisgender. I made a comment to a family member at one point about how scary everything is and their response was “why should you need to be scared?” The same relative did not know that the KKK still exists, and is in her sixties, so I’m not certain if it stems from disconnectedness or denial.

      I keep vacillating between cutting myself off from news sources and social media for my own sanity and protection or wanting to research so that I can be informed and make a difference. I know that in order to make society better I need to do the second, but it is so hard.

      I don’t have advice but I stand with you in solidarity!

    9. Zip Silver

      Don’t worry. Your dad is right. It only seems that way because that’s how the media gets viewers.

      As a planet, we currently have the fewest active armed conflicts than we’ve ever had in recorded history. It’s only like 30 total.

    10. Sibley

      I was headed that direction, and decided to go on a news-boycott. I know just about as much as I did before about current events, with a whole lot less depressing stuff in my face, plus less advertising to deal with.

      I don’t watch the news. reading the news is ok (newspapers, magazines, etc). About a year in now, and loving it.

    11. comparingToHistory

      When I was a kid, we were afraid the USSR was going to bomb us. When my parents were young, JFK and his brother and MLK were assassinated. If you go back far enough in history, people in England (for example) were persecuted for being Catholic instead of Protestant. You’d probably have to go back farther to find a time when people were executed and their heads were mounted up so that people could see them.

      I don’t know if the world has ever been a nice and gentle place. I do think that there are more good people in it than bad, but sometimes the bad stuff seems overwhelming.

      1. ck

        +1

        Regardless of the seeming chaos being shoved down our throats as click-bait, things are still better than they have been.

        It is very hard to keep things in perspective, when you haven’t lived throughout other periods of history.

      2. Not So NewReader

        I remember the day Kennedy was shot. I had never seen the adults around me so devastated and so afraid. I asked if the bad men were coming and did we have to hide.
        (I was pretty young.) My mother said ,”I don’t know.” Then I asked what will we do for food. Again, “I don’t know.”

        Then I got scared.

        And yeah, the world changed. Some of the changes are actually good.

        Now as an adult, I have control over my choices and I have the ability to make my own decisions. I also understand better why things are the way they are. I had none of this as a kid, I think that is an important thought to hang on to.

    12. TootsNYC

      I think this is a huge part of why the presidential election turned out the way it did.

      And the funny thing is, I read an analysis piece that says things like a decline in the jobless rate, etc., and that most Republicans say “things are genuinely better where I am, but it’s horrible over there!”

      Also–edit your news content, and your Facebook feed.

  24. Nicole

    Puppy update!

    First off, here’s a new picture I took today. https://www.dropbox.com/s/dywy3s1sarlneso/IMG_0350-Revised.JPG?dl=0

    Choosing a name that suits her is proving difficult so she’s still nameless. We’ve tried on a few for size but they don’t feel right. Any suggestions? We’ve looked at lists online but nothing sticks.

    I feel like we’ve gotten very little accomplished around the house since we adopted her. It’s never been dirtier or more disorganized which is getting on our nerves because we’re all about keeping things clean. When she naps we try to get things done but the hours fly by without much to show for it. I still haven’t even finished going through all the photos I took on our vacation. Needless to say it’s causing a bit of anxiety. I work part-time and my husband is currently out of work so I couldn’t even imagine if we were both working full-time how we’d manage. How do other people do it?

    She doesn’t sleep through the night so we’re up 1-2 times to take her outside. Since my husband is reacting to her a little (stuffy nose, sore throat, etc), we have put her crate in the bedroom across the hall and use a baby monitor to hear when she’s awake and needs to go out. We have used our front door more this week than in all the 12 years we’ve lived here combined (we usually go through the garage). I just wish we had a nicer area for her to do her business in. We’re in a townhome so we’re stuck with muddy grass which is littered with leaves, twigs, and woodchips which she wants to eat. We took her to my parents house for Thanksgiving and the grass in their yard was so nice! Also, it figures we’d adopt a pup just as it’s getting cold outside. I HATE the cold so it sucks having to go outside so much every day. It’s making me seriously consider moving to Arizona where my husband’s family lives. I’ve grown tired of the Chicago winters anyway, but I’d miss my family and all the green during the spring and summer so I’m not sure what to do. I’ve lived in the Chicago area my entire life so it would be so weird to live anywhere else. Plus the thought of moving is not appealing since it’s so much work.

    People I don’t even recognize from the neighborhood have stopped to speak to me about the puppy; it’s funny how much friendlier they are when there’s a dog involved. I’ve always said hello to people but they’d barely respond and now they want to have a conversation.

    I feel like once we get through this tough potty training time we’re going to have a lot of fun and meet new people since there are a lot of dog owners here. I look forward to that but am feeling a little drained at the moment. We were joking, saying “what were we thinking” with this whole thing since we tend to be lazy and selfish with our time. But we also take pet ownership seriously so that trumps our laziness… which in a way makes it all the more difficult on us because we want to be lazy but can’t be, so we’re just exhausted instead.

    1. Not So NewReader

      The last two pups I got, came home with me in early spring. You would think I would have learned from the first time. ha!
      Yeah, you can pretty much forget that clean house thing. Even when I vac regularly, I have gray tumbleweeds (tumblehairs?) going through my house.

      Did you try googling for dog name suggestions? My last dog was named after someone suggested that I pick a name that describes his purpose/role. I picked a name that translates to “friend” in English.

      1. Canadian Natasha

        I was thinking Millie (short for Millicent) which is pretty similar (at least in my brain’s random name categorisation system). :)

        1. bluesboy

          It’s funny, looking at the photo the first thing I thought was ‘little old lady’s name’. And immediately afterwards I see Hattie and Millie.

          I’m thinking Betty or Mavis myself.

    2. bon-bons for all!

      Puppies are exhausting! It sounds like you’re doing everything right and you’ll get through this! (Although potty training in winter? That’s crazy. Grin.).

      Good thing she’s adorable. Do you have a sense of her personality yet? That could elicit names. Or if you and your husband have a shared hobby or interest, maybe that will have inspiration? I’ve met lots of dogs named for LOR, Harry Potterverse, sports teams/mascots, etc.

      1. LizH

        What a cutie. Mollie comes to mind right away. FWIW, I get not wanting to walk the dog when it’s cold. However, the last few years, I was actually healthier in winter. I am prone to bronchitis, but the last several years I have managed to avoid it. My only explanation is getting fresh air no matter the weather.
        Let’s us know what name you pick.

    3. Cruciatus

      How about Eleven, Elle for short? Or…Demogorgan. Also, probably don’t listen to me. I always have every intention to name my pets something good and then I get overwhelmed! Hell, even my user names on sites (like this one) are just because I couldn’t think of anything else and it was what was popular at the time (Eleven and Demogorgan being used most recently in Stranger Things). If I had a new cat right now I would probably name it Newt Scamander.

    4. EmmaLou

      My husband suggested Peek-a-Boo and I can’t stop laughing at someone shouting angrily or firmly to a pup with a mind of her own, “Peek-a-boo! PEEK-a-BOO!”

      1. Nicole

        That’s funny because she loves to lay on her back in my lap and I put her paws over her eyes and play peek-a-boo with her.

        Also, your example is why choosing a name is so hard. I’m trying to envision yelling certain names and they just sound wrong.

  25. AliCat

    Does anyone have any experience with keto diets? I’ve heard both really good and really bad things about them but I was wondering if anyone has actually done one.

    I’ve tried low carb, low fat diets before and I always felt so depraved I ended up going off the deepend and gaining more than I had lost. Now I’m really just looking for more of a lifestyle change that I can sustain.

    1. self employed

      A low carb/low fat diet would never work IMO — you have nothing satiating there! Either protein or fat is filling, so you definitely need to keep an eye on those.

      What is your goal? General weight loss or a health condition? What has worked or failed in the past for you?

      1. AliCat

        Weight loss is definitely the goal but I also want to develop healthy eating habits. I’ve been a yo-yo dieter since I was about 12 and it’s led to seriously disordered eating. I just want to be able eat healthy without feeling deprived while also losing weight. Is that even possible?

        1. neverjaunty

          It is, but jettison the whole ‘diets’ thing – as you know they’re really temporary eating patterns you can’t sustain. And honestly losing weight is also going to distort your eating patterns, because scales are not about whether you have a healthy body composition or are physically fit. (Dehydrate yourself and you’ll lose weight, replace fat with muscle and you’ll gain weight.)

          Have you tried keeping a log of what foods make you feel comfortably satiated vs. those that make you feel bloated or icky? That might be a good starting point in narrowing down good eating habits for you.

          1. CC

            If you do this, don’t forget to also note foods that make you want more. Try to limit those, but not cut them out entirely. Deprivation and subsequent “cheating” is a really bad dynamic to be caught in. Maybe check out the Weighty Matters website, which is written by an expert in weight issues. The author’s general take on diet (as a habitual eating pattern, not as a temporary weight loss change in eating pattern) is that you *should* have treats, in the minimum amount required to make sure you maintain the overall habits of healthy eating.

            One thing I have learned, is that when I get a general grumbly feeling of wanting to eat something and it’s not a meal time, just a general hungry-ish feeling, I eat a small portion of whatever I feel like having in that moment. If I get the same general grumbly feeling of wanting to eat something again at any point within the next 20 minutes, what I ate was not what my body wanted, so I eat something from a different food group. So for a true example that I have used many times: if the first thing was a banana, the second thing might be peanut butter or cheese, but definitely not a second banana or a cookie.

            If you’ve developed some disordered responses to food and hunger and craving, it might take a while to get those signals straightened out enough to trust them, though.

            1. Girasol

              I like low carb and keto diets because they get rid of those “make you want more” foods. One carbohydrate always demands another for me, though I know that’s not true for everyone. The general rule of supplementing the protein and low carb veggies with fat is a must or you end up so hungry you find yourself into the Twinkies again wondering how you got there. It’s worky to beat the carb cravings long enough to get fully back into the swing of keto (3-6 weeks for me) but once I do I feel much better for it, more healthy and energetic and less hungry-all-the-time. The cravings eventually go away. After weight loss I re-add whole fruits and some higher carb veggies but avoid grain and sugar and that seems to work well for a maintenance healthy eating plan. If you want a thorough scientific explanation Lyle McDonald’s book The Ketogenic Diet is a bible for it. Some chapters are a bit of a slog if you’re not into physiology but it’s worth reading in any case.

        2. self employed

          My suggestion might be something more along the lines of Weight Watchers, where there are no “bad” or off-limit foods, but just higher points value. To help you recalibrate what eating well looks like, you know? And cold turkey avoiding binge-triggers, if you can’t stop once you start– don’t even buy them or bring them home. I’m sure we all have at least one! (I know this contradicts my first statement, but sometimes there are foods that are impossible in moderation.)

          (But if you are dealing with true disordered eating I would honestly recommend meeting with a Registered Dietician (RD).)

          1. AliCat

            I’ve tried Weight Watchers and I didn’t lose any weight! I was on it for over a month and followed the points plan religiously but no dice.

            There are no practicing RD’s in my area, sadly, so I’m on my own. :(

            1. TL -

              oh, do an online thing! I did – maybe myfitfoods? But you can log all your food and tell them your goals and they’ll talk to you about your eating habits and suggest other foods you might like (for instance, if you, ahem, eat a brownie every day for breakfast, they might suggest a sweeter yoghurt instead with granola, so it’s filling.)

              I really liked mine, it was focused on gradual, small things that I would enjoy eating. Very practical – you won’t get dramatic results instantly but they are sustainable.

        3. Natalie

          Woah, yeah, if you’re just trying to generally be healthy you shouldn’t be thinking “diet” at all, and definitely not a super restrictive one like low-carb/low-fat. There’s nothing wrong or unhealthy about fat or carbs. Perhaps one place to start would be some generally nutrition education from a neutral source, not a diet promoter.

          Some people hear have recommended something called “intuitive eating”, I don’t recall the book but I’m sure someone will come along with the title. Michael Pollan sometimes gets a bad rap for being super pretentious, but In Defense of Food also might be worth reading.

          1. self employed

            FWIW, Mark Bittman’s VB6 (vegan before 6) is a good way to pay attention to what you’re eating and increase your veggies. You could try with one meal and go from there. His cookbook by that name is not intimidating and is quite good.

        4. Marcela

          I apologize if you are not looking for general ideas, because I’m about to give you one. Last march I decided I was too overweight and tried to do something about it, because diabetes is going to catch me sooner or later (my whole family has it, both sides), and I rather that being late. The only starting point was that I did not want to starve or suffer, because I was sure that was going to fail.

          First step was just to log food to have an idea of what I was eating. With no bad intent, I would omit things here and there, not realizing how much they mattered. So the right food diary strategy was a great way to know exactly what I ate and in which amounts. The app Noom for Android is invaluable, for I weigh everything in grams and Noom calculates the calories. Most of the food we eat in the US is there, including Trader Joe’s. This gave me an idea of the things that were “dangerous” to eat, i.e. too caloric.

          Once I knew how much I ate, I calculated, using several webs and the same Noom app, how much I needed to eat in order to get my goal. To my incredible surprise, I was supposed to eat just 1200 calories, from the 2k I remembered as usual for women. But when I started reading, well, 2k is appropriate for a taller woman who does a lot more exercise than me.

          Making a long story short, since March I’ve been eating exactly the same things as before, just in smaller quantities. Noom considers extra calories the days I’m doing exercise, so those days I can get an extra treat. The only big change was to accept that some days I do want to eat more, even not being hungry, and fight those urges. But the most important part was to forgive myself if one day I can’t help to eat a bit more. Partly because the numbers are just an approximation, and mostly because I do not want to have a weird relationship with food. I need to eat, it should not be my enemy.

          In 10 months I’ve lost 10 kgs, a bit less than 10% of my starting body weight. I still have another couple of kilos to go, which is something that is going to happen more slowly because now I’m not moving as before, but this is fine too. And I haven’t suffered too much. There has been some need to give up some foods, for example a cake we loved to make, but when we really want it, we baked one anyway.

          Please do not read my comment as losing weight is easy, just eat less. I feel very lucky this worked out for me, because there was some possibility my endometriosis would get in the way. Mostly I would recommend you to gather information about what you eat now, so you can decide if that’s the way you want to eat. My take is that our minds and body will trick us to eat, and we need to get all the info first in order to make sure we can take some control back.

          1. Nic

            I second the food log app suggestion! I used one called LoseIt! that also has a lot of grocery store and restaurant foods that you can select or check ahead of time to see how many calories they contain. I also experienced the surprise of how few calories I needed for a daily goal and it really helped me adjust my eating habits. With loseit you can also put in your exercise and it removes an appropriate amount of calories which helped me to realize things like “okay, I can have this soda. If I do, though, I will need to do X minutes of Y activity, or cut out C thing I was planning to eat.”

            Between having a better idea of what available choices there were and tracking the choices I made to keep myself honest (it was hard to record a nibble here or there, so I usually didn’t nibble) I begin to make healthier choices, include more exercise, and lose weight in what felt like an effortless manner.

            1. Sprechen Sie Talk?

              I get the food app things, but I like to cook fresh food and not buy whatever is at the grocery store. It always felt like a major hassle that took way too long to log in a recipe or whatever into the app, especially as I like the creativity of taking a recipe and making alterations. Has anyone else dealt with this?

              Here in the UK I have had two friends do well on that Joe Wicks plan, which is more veg and high fat, low carb with an exercise component thrown in, over 90 days. Yes, you have to weigh items and they issue you the recipes, but I may try that in a few weeks to get back on track with eating healthy. I know HOW to eat healthy, I know HOW to exercise, but bad habits have crept in, along with this back injury and I need something firm to reset myself.

              1. AliCat

                I think a major part of the problem is that I’m so accustomed to restricting calories and then binging that I honestly have no idea what a day of normal healthy eating is like. When I try to do balanced eating and they suggest Xg of carbs, protein and/or fats, I always end up way under the calorie counts and also the fats. For me, “healthy” food has always been things like egg whites, cottage cheese, canned tuna and a chicken breast. Like that would be what I ate in a day. I think thats what resonated with me so much when I read about keto because they were saying you can have full eggs and a couple slices of bacon and cheese for snacks I was like OH MY GOD WHAT IS THIS DARK MAGIC?

              2. Marcela

                Well, yes, logging all the food in any recipe is not fun. Specially since Noom does not have any way to save recipes and then calculate a portion. We had to that ourselves. We do it anyway, with good spirits, because along the way we realized we don’t know how to eat without some guidance. For example, we noticed it’s very hard for us not to eat everything in our plates, or in a restaurant, eating everything in reach because otherwise it will go to the trash and it will be waste. Counting what we eat is annoying, imperfect and bothersome, but the alternative is worse for us.

              3. Clever Name

                I am a home cook and I have the same frustrations with food diaries and calorie counting. I can’t just enter the name of the frozen dinner and be done with it. I have to calculate how many tablespoons of cream and how many ounces of pancetta from my home make vodka sauce makes it into my stomach. Just no. I haven’t found a solution to this.

            2. J

              My Fittness Pal has a recipe feature, and if you make changes to different versions of the recipe, you can edit the recipe and it only changes entries going forward, not previous logs. It can be a bit hard the first few times you enter a recipe but after that it’s simple to log a serving of the homemade food.

    2. Mona

      I had to look this up – you mean Atkin’s, right? While it sounds good on the surface, it’s terrible for your cardiovascular health. Too much of a good thing and all that. The trick to keeping the weight off long term is to change your habits – eat in moderation, eat less, and exercise more. If that sounds scary, take baby steps to start with so it’s not like you’re going to extremes and be less likely to succeed.

      As neverjaunty writes below, a food diary is a good place to start. I tried doing that a few Christmases ago with an app on my phone (I can’t remember what it was, apologies) to see what I was putting into my body. My cousin who is a type I diabetic has to do this to keep track of how much insulin she needs, so I feel lucky that I don’t have to jab myself multiple times a day to check my blood sugar :/ I will say that when I tried the food diary initially, I felt like a criminal and my eyes sort of goggled at the amount of calories I had previously taken for granted. But now it was in my face and I had to do something about it.

      That said, and as ironic as this must sound, I started to lose weight the less I was concerned and stressed out I was about losing the weight. If you have any sort of self-esteem issues, anxiety, or depression, it is worth getting those sorted on and speaking with a mental professional and/or doctor as an adjunct to whatever healthy lifestyle you plan to go forward with. If you are suffering in those areas – and I’m not trying to be patronizing, just suggesting – having other people “on your side” makes a huge difference.

      Also, whatever you do, do not deny yourself your favorite foods unless it makes you physically sick (like food you’re allergic to). Try to eat less in one sitting / in one day / in one week and as mentioned earlier, baby steps. No one likes to cut out their favorite foods cold turkey (no pun intended for this week!).

      I went through a period of my childhood where I was overweight for years due to medication to treat a chronic disorder, so I hear you about the diets and getting upset every time they didn’t work. Be sure to take time to be kind to yourself and you will find a way forward that works for you. Good luck!

    3. The RO-Cat

      Maybe you can find some useful tips in Caroline Arnold’s book “Small Move, Big Change”. It’s not only about the diet, but more about changing habits in general (though there *is* a chapter about eating). She advocates “marginal gains” obtained by changing a small thing at a time – this way the new habits stick.

      Also, if you’re curious, Marc Schoen’s “Your Survival Instinct Is Killing You” has some interesting ideas (generally science-backed) about how and why modern-day First-Worlders have so many health troubles (hint: it’s not the physiology).

    4. nep

      A good place to be — a sustainable lifestyle change is the only way.
      One habit that can’t steer you wrong whether the goal is losing weight or improving overall health — little to no processed food. Your body and brain will thank you.
      It can be quite eye-opening and helpful to note everything you eat, even if only for a while. The mindfulness changes things.
      All the best

    5. Not So NewReader

      Not the specific question your asking, but I finally lost weight when I tied what I ate to how I felt afterward. I loooove soda, but a drink of soda that lasts five minutes is not worth feeling crappy for several days after. I did all that weighing and measuring stuff and it worked up to a point, then it didn’t. I needed that additional motivation from noticing how much better I felt. “Oh I have a big meeting on Friday, I am not going to sit here and eat this entire box of cookies today because I will feel crappy at my meeting.”
      For me, the hook was to see an improvement in my overall quality of life.

    6. Mreasy

      I tried keto for its mental health affects. It absolutely helped me out, in a way no medication or other treatment had up to that point – but I couldn’t imagine myself sustaining it. After 3 weeks, I felt very weak, even though I knew I was getting the right calories & proportions, & was having regular symptoms of electrolyte deficiency despite supplementing them 3x/day.

      If weight loss and shaking up your health and diet are the goal, I would recommend the Whole 30. It’s lower carb (but not superlow like keto), and the restrictions in place really encourage you to focus on high quality proteins and vegetables. Some people can thrive on a lower carb diet long term, and as long as you’re getting enough fat & protein, & eating plenty of vegetables, that can be a solution for long term weight loss that’s absolutely healthful.

    7. Zip Silver

      Keto is absolutely not sustainable. It will eventually cause health problems. That being said, it’s great in the short and medium term. High fat, high protein diets are extremely filling. It’ll reduce your bloat and keep you from getting hungry. I use it a few months every spring when I cut down from my fall and winter bulk.

      1. Mreasy

        My only caveat would be that the first several pounds you lose really is water weight, that you’ll put back on once you go back to a non-ketogenic diet as your body adjusts. (Though if your office bathroom is a flight up or down, you’ll get a great glute & thigh workout during that initial period!)

  26. Gene

    I mentioned the office cat on yesterday’s work thread. Yes, we have two office cats. Currently, it’s a brother and sister semi-feral pair who were born under the trailer. We never were able to catch mom to do TNR with her, but we got the the kittens. Mom disappeared shortly after.

    She’s almost tame enough to go home with someone and her brother is getting there. He’s been on walkabout this week, so she’s been spending more time inside. I was the one who did the trapping and everything for the TNR, so it took her a long time to warm to me.

    Over the years, five cats I know of have gone home with people who work here, and we’ve taken at least that many to the shelter. But we keep one out two around for rodent control.

    1. The Other Dawn

      I so wish we had a office cat…or 10 at my company; however, nothing would get done because I’d be playing with the all the time, or they would be parked on my keyboard, in front of my monitor, etc.

    2. Mallory Janis Ian

      I wish we could have an office cat at my university department. If we thought kitchen and dishes squabbles were something, though, just wait until we had litter box duty squabbles. :-0

    3. Nic

      The cat I have right no, who is the best cat I have had since I was a child, is one that I brought home from work. He was wandering around in the parking lot and started following me around one day on break. On my next break, hours later, he followed me around too. I spoke to someone who mentioned that the people in the office next door were planning on bringing him to the shelter that weekend. I brought him home and have not regretted it since!

      Parking lot cats can be some of the most loving pets. I think it is great that you guys care for them and help socialize them.

  27. HardwoodFloors

    To AAM community, does anyone have a good idea for a Christmas gift I can send my mother in a far away state who is in a nursing home with dementia? I used to send her a pretty sweater, jewelry or specialty potted plant but now her memory is so bad she will quickly lose anything she is sent.

    1. only acting normal

      For my grandmother (who also had dementia) I bought one of those boxes of 100 postcards on a theme – I got English Heritage B&W photos, but there are lots of alternatives like art prints or classic book covers. I gave her the box and the first postcard with a note on it, then sent a couple each week to her.
      I wrote little poems (e.g. haiku, or just a rhyming couplet), or notes about what I was doing that week, or little drawings (those went down very well, which sort of surprised me), or my recollection about something she’d told me about her life prompted by the picture on the card (those in turn seemed to prompt conversations with the care staff – she had an interesting life!).
      It got a bit hard sometimes to think of something to put, but it didn’t have to be profound, just a line or two and if I had a day of inspiration I’d write half a dozen in one go.

      1. Luisa in Dallas

        What an inspired idea! I’m definitely making a note of this for a good friend who never knows what to send her mother with dementia. I especially like the fact that the postcards encourage interaction between the caregivers and your grandmother.

    2. LizB

      I heard a story on the radio the other day that listening to music from when they were younger can help people with dementia with their memory, at least temporarily. Maybe send her a nice mix CD or an iPod full of songs (depending on how she can most easily play music), and ask the staff to put them on for her every once in a while?

    3. Anono-me

      Does the nursing home have a beauty salon or have visiting beauty professionals? Maybe a gift certificate or make arrangements for haircuts, massage or getting her nails done? (Feet are especially hard to take care of if you have health issues.)

    4. MommaCat

      My mom has dementia; I tend to give her pictures of my children and nieces and nephews with their names written on the front. She’s most like herself with young kids, and I figure she’ll enjoy looking at the photos even when she forgets who is who. Copies of family photos are a hit, too.

    5. Sophie Winston

      Have you reached out to the activities department? They may have suggestions, or be able to help coordinate something for you.

    6. Not So NewReader

      A stuffed animal.
      I have recommended this to a couple people and they got great results.
      The one thing to know is don’t spend a lot of money on this animal- go to a Kmart type place. If she has a bad day the animal could get destroyed worse, it could get stolen. So don’t sink major bucks into this animal.

      Try to get animal with something she relates to, say in a favorite color or wearing a particular garment. That will help her to focus in.

      If you go into the nursing home you will notice more than one dementia patient carrying a stuffed animal or doll. It seems to be of some comfort to them. If the patient used to be a person who was embarrassed by such things, often that is not a resistance issue any more.

    7. Mephyle

      Look up “activity blanket”, “fidget quilt” or “fiddle blanket”. The idea is that it’s a small cloth with pockets, ribbons, buttons, maybe zippers, bits with different textures. It shouldn’t be too hard to make one if you sew or have a friend with a sewing machine that you can pay to put it together.

    8. AliceBD

      For the last several years of her life my dad had flowers delivered monthly to my grandmother (his mother). She loved them. Whatever type of arrangement they were they lasted most of the month. She had been big into gardening when she was younger and healthier, so she loved having flowers. She wouldn’t always remember that she had them so she would see them and get a pleasant surprise.

    9. TootsNYC

      What do you mean “quickly lose anything”?
      Does it get stolen?

      If it’s just that she won’t tak egood car eo fit, or will drop it, maybe something that will brighten the room around her.
      Like a plant. Maybe a really good-quality silk one, so nobody has to water it, but it will make her room look happier for longer.

      Or, maybe a picture or a cloth banner.
      Or a few REALLY big prints of important photographs from her younger days.
      Maybe ask the nursing-home folks what sorts of things they think would work in the space she lives in.

      1. TootsNYC

        or flowers of the month, as mentioned above. Again, it will just make the room prettier, and provide an emotional lift.
        The nice thing about flowers of the month is that it will give her a lift on a recurring basis.

    10. ginger ale for all

      Springbok has a line of jigsaw puzzles for people with Alzheimer’s. If you go to their site they are easy to find. A friend of mine has good luck with the adult coloring books for her mom. They just sit and color together during visits when her mom isn’t going to speak. She then photographs the drawings to e-mail to the rest of the family.

  28. self employed

    Any picky-eating-kid tips? Toddler will eat muffins made with pureed veggies, zucchini pancakes… and that’s it. I’m happy to keep pureeing/baking, but OMG help.

    1. Lady Kelvin

      Try cream of wheat? I was a picky eater but I loved cream of wheat and cocoa wheat. I still eat cream of wheat but apparently cocoa wheats were pretty regional. They have lots of iron and other nutrients that are good for toddlers.

    2. Cristina in England

      I have read tips on dealing with picky eating designed to reduce the power struggle with food, like introducing new things between meals, and making it fun and no pressure to try new stuff.

      I haven’t put a lot of effort into it, to be honest. My preschooler is picky but she at least eats yogurt and cheese so she is getting protein. My husband is picky too and that’s really annoying because I usually end up eating boring food so I don’t have to make two totally different hot meals. I am very excited for him to go out of town for work Monday night because then I get to eat something interesting for a change!

    3. matcha123

      I was a picky eater as a kid, but starting at a bit older than toddler age.

      Okay, I really can’t understand why parents freak out about this. Do you remember being that age? Do you remember what you liked and didn’t like?

      When I stopped eating certain foods, it was because the textures and tastes were bad. For some foods, like raisins, I ate them so much that I started to hate them. It’s possible they are stuck on certain foods now, but will give them up for some others later. Maybe they feel overwhelmed with a lot of choices?
      How old is your kid? You can tell them that it’s too hard to make XYZ every night. Don’t assume they can’t understand. If you are willing to make zucchini pancakes once a week, tell them. But tell them that they need to eat something else the other days.

      How long have they been requesting only one thing?

      Finally, and this was just me, but when I was that age, my mom said that there were starving kids in Africa who would be happy to eat peas. So I suggested we gather my uneaten peas and send it to them. When my mom and her friends said that kids will eat anything when they’re hungry, I made a point not to eat whatever it was they were trying to force me to eat and would go without…to prove a point.

      I don’t know much about your situation, though.

    4. Yetanotherjennifer

      The main thing is to relax. He’ll get there. You have plenty of time. Focus on what he will eat and gradually add new things. He wants to eat like the grow ups in his life so model good food eating behaviors. This does not mean exaggerated yum yums. Just quietly eat veggies at every meal. And be equally quiet about what he eats or doesn’t. get him involved too: let him help cook, plan, and grow and he’ll be more likely to eat…eventually. This is a marathon.

      I love, love, love the books by Ellyn Satter. Child of Mine details her techniques age by age. Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family has the short version plus recipes and menu planning tips. Both are available on Amazon. Basically, she has a division of responsibility where your job is to put a balanced meal on the table at regular intervals and your child’s job is to eat it. Your job is done when the food hits the table. It’s very freeing. No more power struggles. You can focus on the food and table manners and conversation.

      Last thing, set aside your inner food snob. These are not the years to care about fresh cs frozen vs canned vs organic, etc. start with what he eats and always add, never subtract. Once I got snobbish over fresh vs canned peaches and stopped buying the cans and guess who doesn’t eat peaches anymore?

    5. Clever Name

      Honestly I think all toddlers and kids are crappy eaters. Vegetables just don’t taste that great, let’s be honest here. As an adult, I definitely enjoy them, but I can intellectually appreciate that they’re good for me, and I feel physically better when I eat more of them. Kids just want to eat what’s tasty. I’ve done a couple of things to encourage my kid to eat healthy food. The first is we provide a variety of foods, some of which I know he’ll eat. I don’t serve a dinner knowing he hates everything about it. We have a rule that our son has to at least try a new food. He can spit it out if it’s awful, but he has to try it. And I keep making him try it many times before he can say he just doesn’t like something. Another thing we do is prepare vegetables in ways that taste better for kids. Putting cheese on a veggie is usually a hit. Yes, it adds calories, but kids shouldn’t be restricting calories (except for specific medical cases I’m assuming aren’t relevant here), and the adults can skip the cheese. Roasting veggies is usually a hit in my house as well. My 9 year old will eat roasted beets and Brussels sprouts.

      I know there’s a lot of scary information about making sure kids eat healthy. Giving a vitamin supplement can help ease fears that they’re not getting enough nutrients.

      1. TL -

        Oh I loved vegetables as a kid – hated cheese and most spices and a lot of meats but loved veggies. :)

        My mom just shrugged. I could eat what she served or eat leftovers or make a pb&j (from like, maybe 6?). Eventually I started eating more.

  29. Be the Change

    Help from any DIYers on AAM?? The toilet bowl in my bathroom has gotten all scratched up probably due to my stupidly (but temporarily) using those chlorine tablets and then cleaning vigorously. It looks nasty.

    Does anyone know if and how I can reglaze it? I’d rather not replace the toilet, it’s fairly new.

    Thanks!

    1. fposte

      It’s more likely to be the brush than the tablets. What you have may be either marks or scratches, and what you do will depend somewhat on which it is on what your toilet’s made of. Barkeeper’s Friend is a good place to start; if that doesn’t do it, you can consider something more abrasive, but you’ll need to be careful. (You can also Google “toilet bowl scratch repair” and you’ll find some deeper, as it were, guidance.)

      1. Be the Change

        It’s all rough, like little pits and peaks. Feels like sandpaper and has gotten worse over time. So I don’t think Barkeep’s friend is going to help, it seems more serious. Although BK sounds great for the plates that my husband wants to get rid of because they are dinged up.

    2. Natalie

      My husband does apartment maintenance and has seen this a bit, and without seeing it his guess is that it’s not fixable unless you want to reglaze it, which is nuts. Apparently, you can just buy a replacement toilet bowl rather than replacing the entire toilet – try contacting the manufacturer. It’s only a few bolts holding the bowl on, and I’m sure there are videos on Youtube that would walk you through the process.

      1. Be the Change

        Bummer. But thanks very much to your husband for the tip! Replacing just the bowl would not be bad.

    3. Chaordic One

      There’s a product called “Porc-A-Fix” that you can try. (You can google it.) It’s like a liquid porcelain that you apply like paint over the bowl. You apply several layers and if it looks lumpy you can sand it smooth with very fine grain sandpaper. The only downside is you need to turn off your toilet and drain it, clean the surfaces beforehand and then let the Porc-A-Fix dry for 24 hours after you’ve painted it on, so I hope you have more than one bathroom. You can google “Porc-A-Fix” and maybe find it at a hardware store or home improvement store like Home Depot or Loews.

  30. Sunflower

    My 10 year HS reunion is tonight. I don’t really feel any way about it. A lot of people in my grade are married or in serious relationships, some have kids. I have no problem telling people I’m single and living in the city where we grew up in a suburb of. I have a good job that people always think is way more interesting than it really is. I don’t want a lot of things(at least right now) that people do- don’t care about getting married, having kids or buying a house anytime soon. Sometimes I feel like people think I’m immature or trying to live in the past because I don’t care about those things and I still go out and party every Saturday night. I really just feel like I still have so much of the world to experience and I don’t want to be tied down by anything yet.

    But I’ve been very unhappy recently and really needing/wanting to make a change- and of course I have no idea what that change is except I’m pretty sure I need to move somewhere else. I want to experience all of these things but it’s scary and sometimes it feels like I’m the only one who still wants to do that. I’m just tired of pretending to be happy here and it feels kind of like I’m going to have to do a lot of that tonight.

    1. Not So NewReader

      I am looking at the time and thinking you must be there by now.

      I have to congratulate you for even thinking of going. Thoughts like these can be deal breakers.I would convince myself to stay home if I were on this path.

      If you went, let us know how it was. If you chose not to go, I am with you on that one.

    2. matcha123

      My 10 year HS reunion was 5 years ago, and the 5 year one was this past week. I didn’t attend either, since I wasn’t in the area. My graduating class had like 400+ students. I don’t know if your had more or less, but, really, why care what they think?
      I also don’t want a house, I’m not interested in marriage, and having a kid is my worst nightmare. I think that a lot of people that want those things try to convince themselves that they have moved on to a natural progression of life and that those that haven’t are behind. The problem with that way of thinking is that it assumes that everyone wants the same things out of life. If you don’t want their life, there’s nothing to feel ashamed of. If you want to go, go and see it as an experience, rather than a contest.

      1. matcha123

        Ugh. I meant the 10 year reunion was 5 years ago, and the 15 year one was this past week.
        I graduated in ’01…so weird that it could be that long ago…

  31. printrovert

    That book is on my reading list! Have you seen the tv series, Alison?

    Thanksgiving is over and the holiday hoopla has begun. I’m curious to know if any of you who live near an Ikea have shopped the as-is section after the twenty-fifth for holiday returns. Did you find anything great for an amazing deal? I’m contemplating whether to venture over there at the end of the month.

    Also, and I posted this to an earlier thread this week, there is a great video from the Brothers Green Eats that shows off some pretty creative things to do with Thanksgiving leftovers for those of you who are still working your way through them. Link below!

      1. Jen Erik

        Have you read Zen Cho’s ‘Sorcerer to the Crown’? It’s a similar sort of story, but I liked it even better.

  32. AnotherAnony

    When I go to my Windows Task manager and open processes, it shows 7 entries that say chrome.exe*32
    I’ve read that this is either part of Chrome or it could be a virus. My anti-virus isn’t picking anything up and malwarebytes isn’t showing anything either. Is there anything else that I should be doing?

    1. The RO-Cat

      AFAIK (but any computer wizard is requested to interfere) Chrome is sandboxing each tab, trying to prevent the house from coming down, should one tab freeze. That *might* explain the multiple entries – each tab has its own separate process. But don’t take my words as true and keep searching. Anyway, if both AV and MB are calm you probably can remain calm, too.

    2. Nancie K

      It’s almost certainly just the browser. Try closing it and see if the jobs disappear. If you don’t close your browser very often, it may take several minutes for all the processes to close — you may even need to kill one or two after waiting a bit, or reboot your system.

    3. MsChandandlerBong

      That’s normal for Chrome. Each tab runs as a separate process to prevent the entire browser from crashing in the event that a single page locks up. If there’s a video on the page, it may even run as more than one process. I wouldn’t worry too much about it unless your computer starts acting up or showing some other sign that it has a virus/malware.

    4. AnotherAnony

      Thanks everyone for your comments. It just makes me worrisome because I was looking something up on the IMDb and the page was redirected to a Chrome download page that looked suspicious. (I didn’t accidentally click on anything on the IMDb page either..)

  33. self employed

    What brands of makeup is cool in the middle-school set? Believe it or not, NAKED and NARS are… so along those lines. (Even though they are incredibly pricey! Whatever happened to Cover Girl?!)

    1. Allypopx

      I’d put money on Urban Decay being pretty big. Also not to sound crotchety but DUDE I couldn’t afford like sephora-level makeup until my 20’s.

    2. Sunflower

      I think NYX is considered cool. It’s a little pricier than drug store but still much less than Naked or Nars

    3. Mallory Janis Ian

      I think all the YouTube makeup bloggers have made all the young girls beauty product connoisseurs. It used to be only about what look you could achieve with any decent product available, but note the product itself is part of the statement.

    4. Stellaaaaa

      Hmmm when I was in middle school we had Bonne Bell and Jane Cosmetics, which were expressly made for tweens. Too Faced would go over well with all the cutesy packaging and scented products.

    5. Sophie

      Too Faced is popular and is available at Ulta. Urban Decay is popular, though the quality of their eyeshadows in the box palettes have gone downhill, in my opinion. Their eyeliners are still the best, though. Benefit is another brand that is fun. My middle school ages nieces still love drugstore brands like NYX and Rimmel. When I was their age, I could only afford Wet’n’Wild and Cover Girl!

    6. Office Plant

      Wow. When I was in middle school, I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup. Not even lip gloss. How wonderful it is that some teenagers get to experience those kinds of rules and the onset of acne at the same time.

    7. FDCA In Canada

      Good grief, I’m asking for an Urban Decay Naked palette this year because I couldn’t quite fathom buying it for myself, and I’m pushing thirty! As a middle-schooler I was definitely not allowed to wear makeup in public, but at home it was all about the Wet and Wild, Bonne Bell, Jane stuff.

      Around this time of year lots of “fancy” makeup brands put out miniature travel sets, or gift palettes, which are usually pretty affordable. I just had a quick peek at the Ulta flyer for this week and it looks like there are mini gift sets available from Tarte, Smashbox, Benefit, and more for under $20 USD. Maybe that’s a good way to go?

    8. Purpensia

      If you’re looking to purchase a gift for a middle schooler, ask them who their favorite makeup guru is on youtube and check out their holiday recommendations!

    9. Hana

      Not too plugged into the middle-school set, so may be wrong, but Colourpop seems trendy overall right now and is very not pricey compared to Urban Decay and NARS.

    10. Anonforthis

      Sephora also does value sets- you can get “Sephora Favorites” and one set might be hair products from different brands or you can choose a bag that has perfume, makeup, face masks, etc. It’s nice because you get to try different brands at a fraction of the cost.

    11. Shel

      My 14 year old who loves full contour, smokey eyes, and winged eyeliner, says NYX has good dupes for a lot of higher end stuff, including Naked.

  34. Myrin

    We got a new washing machine and it’s awesome so far! The last one was greatly disliked by all of us pretty much from the moment it arrived and it probably felt that or something because it really never worked properly. The new one has more… storage capacity (? What do you call that in English? I mean how much you can get into it; just “volume”?) which is already making a difference and above all, it runs SO smoothly and quietly. Our old one sounded like someone hopped around our bathroom with a sledgehammer, so this one really is a blessing in at least the sounds department.

    1. Pennalynn Lott

      Yep, volume or capacity.

      I remember when I got my big front-loading washer. Wow! So cool to be able to put a queen-sized comforter in the wash instead of taking it to a commercial laundromat. But I also love, love, love that I can wash just one or two small things and not waste water because the machine weighs each load and uses the appropriate amount of water.

  35. Amber Rose

    My sword showed up! I’ve been waiting like 8 months for this baby. It got stuck in Japanese customs for a long time.

    If I’ve done this right, picture is linked to my name.

    1. Pennalynn Lott

      I know nothing about swords, but it looks really cool!

      I want to ask about why you bought it and how you use it, but everything I’ve typed so far [and then hastily back-spaced over] sounds either really ignorant or really condescending. One I definitely am (when it comes to swords), the other is just because I don’t know how to ask questions about things I don’t know anything about. :-(

      But I’m genuinely interested why you [you, specifically, as well as the general “you”] would buy a sword. I’m curious about the how / why / where of its use.

      1. Amber Rose

        Any questions are fine, I don’t think it’s rude or ignorant to not know about something not too many people do anymore.

        The answer to all your questions is roughly: martial arts. I practice iaido, the way of the samurai sword. My sword is about as sharp as a butter knife, so I can get used to the weight and balance of a sword without hurting myself too badly. We run through forms and techniques, and sometimes attack pool noodles and assorted large vegetables, for 6 hours a week.

        I started a few years ago because I really, really like swords, and I’ve been using wooden ones up to now. This one was custom made to my height and arm length so it’s pretty exciting that I get to use it.

        1. Pennalynn Lott

          Oooh. . . that *is* cool! Thank you for satisfying my curiosity!!

          And I’m loving the mental image of attacking pool noodles and large vegetables. There are quite a few of each from my past that I’d like to take revenge on, so I’ll be doing that vicariously through you from now now. :-D

    2. Gene

      Is it modern or does it have provenance? My boss just got back from Japan, he has one being shipped home -17th century, I think. Also has a yari from the 13th century on way and another sword he left behind so it can be submitted to the NBTHK for the second level shinsa. That can take a year. He brought back lots of furniture for those and for his other swords. It’s become an obsession for him, be careful!

      1. Amber Rose

        Modern I guess. It’s a zinc aluminum alloy for training purposes. I’ll be putting it through its paces tomorrow in class. Given that I’m a walking armory at this point, you don’t need to warn me about addiction. I’m hooked. :)

  36. Hello from Canada

    Aargh! I want to buy a house, but I don’t think I can afford it. I live with my parents and younger siblings I’m so sick of it (this is purely personal, it’s not like there’s abuse going on or anything). But this isn’t a city I want to live in long term. It seems stupid (plus, I feel like my parents would be really hurt) to pay rent somewhere else when I’m living at home for free, but I also feel like I’m so miserable at home that I won’t be able to muster up the energy to leave (job search, study for grad school) until I get some space to myself to really focus on it. I’m basically just going in circles in my head and I’m tired all the time, and when I think about how I don’t see any way out of this situation I feel like crying. I’ve basically been paused here due to indecision for a year and I feel trapped. What would you do in my situation?

    1. Sunflower

      I think you need to move out- unless you can come up with some sort of plan or budget that would allow you to buy a house in the next yearish. Saying your parents would be really hurt if you moved out says quite a lot about what it’s most like like living with them. It’s normal to want freedom and independence. I lived at home, rent-free, for 2 years after I graduated from college. After 2 years, I didn’t care if I had to get 3 jobs to pay rent, I just couldn’t do it anymore.

      This idea of rent being a waste of money is an idea I’ve heard/seen from a lot of people. Rent is the most important living expense. It’s ok to spend money on it. I’d urge you to stop thinking of paying rent as a waste of money especially when your sanity and happiness are at stake.

      1. bluesboy

        I think that for me NOT renting would have been a waste of money. I rented a number of places that I thought were perfect, then found things I didn’t like after moving in. If I’d just bought the first one I would have been stuck; instead, by the time I bought I was able to understand what I wanted.

        OP, whatever you decide, good luck, but if you do move out to rent, try to think of it as ‘research’ to help you make the right call when it IS time to buy.

        1. One Handed Typist

          +1 This is the very best reason to get your own place. Don’t rent an apartment – rent the type of property you would be interested in buying. Experience living in a home so you can start to see all the little things that add up. You may discover that what you thought was a brilliant feature is really a total pain in the ass.

          I’d also add that your parents’ feelings are going to be hurt no matter what you do. Eventually you will move out. You will either find a place to live in your current city or you will move on to a better area. But you will leave their house. It is YOUR life to live and you can’t base your decisions on your parents’ emotions. Moving out now while you still have your parents’ support locally is a great step to take to test the waters and ease your parents into recognizing you are an adult.

      1. ck

        +1

        Except I would start saving for a studio/one bedroom.

        It doesn’t always make sense to buy a house. The additional expense is staggering.

        It is NOT just paying mortgage, but add taxes/association fees, high utilities, equipment/maintenance of yards/plumbing/heating etc.., replacing/fixing things as they wear/break, the furniture you feel you have to buy to fill the space. Just…. too much.

        Save your money, invest it instead, retire early. Live simply. On your own.

    2. self employed

      Can you go be someone’s roommate? Way cheaper than going out on your own, and they have already (I presume) done all the work of getting utilities, security deposit, etc.

    3. Natalie

      It sounds more like you want to move than that you specifically want to buy a house. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be somewhere else even though it isn’t the free option. “Free” or “least money possible” is only sometimes the best choice – I have this argument with my husband a lot. :)

    4. fposte

      I would move out and rent. The goal is an independent life; home ownership is totally incidental to that, and many people have exciting lives without ever buying a single house. Your parents are going to have a tough time when you leave, period; that’s not a reason not to leave in whichever way you can manage right now.

    5. Temperance

      I would move out. I don’t care if my parents had their feelings hurt, FWIW. My parents wanted me to move “home” after college until I married, because they’re conservative, but I moved in with my boyfriend instead. I couldn’t hack their curfew, mandatory church, and the amount of chores they wanted me to do.

      There is a very simple way out of this situation, and that’s looking for a small apartment in your budget.

      1. Mona

        THIS. If you can’t find a good friend or someone you would get along with as a roommate for a larger apartment, find a studio.

        Rent costs money, yes, but as Sunflower mentions, it’s worth your sanity, which is priceless. Also, consider the tools you will learn while living on your own and away from your family as part of your path of independence.

        I think all of us here who are older felt one way or another like you did now. Please don’t feel you are boxed in and have no options. You do. It’s just scary taking that first step out.

    6. Hello from Canada

      Thanks to everyone for saying that it’s ok to rent. I guess part of my struggle is that I come from a culture where it’s normal to live with your parents until you get married. So renting a place in the same city my parents live, to me, feels like a really selfish(or at least unfilial) thing to do. If I moved away it wouldn’t matter that I was renting, but I don’t think I can move away as long as I’m living with them and all my mental energy is used up just existing.

      Part of my frustration too is that when I look at places I could buy and split with a roommate it seems like it would still be pretty expensive. And yet when I look at renting a place with a roommate it seems like the nice places are all as expensive as buying! One option has* to be cheaper than the other, so I’m assuming the problem is me. But even though I know my thought patterns are wrong, I don’t know how to regain perspective.

      It kind of feels like I’m getting what I deserve. Instead of staying home like a good girl I want to leave my parents and pay rent that goes into someone else’s pocket. But I don’t want to stay home like a good girl. I know I’m being selfish but I just want to stop feeling so suffocated all the time. This is really hard.

      1. fposte

        Oh, that’s a tough pattern. Here’s a different perspective: housing is expensive, period. The less you earn, the higher percentage you’re likelier to spend on it and the more limited your choices are–that’s why people often do live in cheap little places with roommates when they first move away from their parents, and why sometimes young people have some adjustments to make when they move away from their parents and into less-nice quarters.

        But note this is all economics and nothing to do with virtue or morality! Bad girls and good girls alike generally can’t afford nice housing when they’re in their early years. And the relationship between renting and purchase prices varies hugely depending on where you are, but having the monthly charge be similar isn’t at all uncommon. Owning means you’re going to pay a lot more in expenses in addition to the mortgage; renting means there’s no chance of appreciation making you money when you move (or depreciation losing you money). How much those factors weight the outcome will depend on the market and the locale.

        But I’m concerned that you seem to be unhappy and considering that the tough housing row all young people have to hoe to be a personal failing. Would you consider talking to a counselor about this? It could help you clarify your wants and needs, and it would also give you some perspective on whether moving out would help or just relocate your unhappiness.

        1. Mona

          Good point in your last paragraph, fposte. As my first counselor said to me, “running away to Country X will give you some pleasure, but that doesn’t solve the problems of why you’re unhappy.”

          Hello from Canada, you’re probably from a similar background as mine. It is a difficult thing to navigate when girls are supposed to “be” one way and you don’t want to be that kind of woman when you grow up. I had bad self-esteem and low confidence when I was a kid and it took me years of being out in the working world and proving I could be a successful professional, not to mention a lot of therapy, to get to a place where I was happier with myself. You sound a lot like me when I was younger, and I do think talking to a professional about this would help you realize you need to make yourself happy first. Even if you’re brought up in a culture where you’re supposed to respect your elders as the be-all and end-all. Please know you’re gonna get through this.

        2. Hello from Canada

          Thanks fposte, I don’t know that I consider the conflict itself to be a personal failing. But the fact that I hate living at home so badly that I would pay a stranger to escape where I am now feels like a moral failing. In my mind the only right (morally, financially, relationally) choice seems to be to stay at home until I move to a different city or get married. I just feel like if I was a better person I wouldn’t feel so conflicted. I would just be happy to live at home while naturally progressing in my life and career until I got married or got a job somewhere else and it made sense to move out. But emotionally, it feels like getting away from home is a precursor to being able to actually progress in my life.

          1. CC

            It is not a moral failing at all, to want your own space. Especially if having enough space to think means you can actually think, and make plans, and make progress on those plans! It’s also not a sign of you not being a good person that you’re conflicted about doing something that goes against your childhood training and assumptions but instead something that is better for you. It’s inherently a conflict. Of course you feel conflicted about it.

            After moving out, or even after mentioning that you plan to move out, your family may or may not try to make you believe that you’re being terrible and/or making a mistake, but you’re not.

          2. fposte

            Oh, honey, all the best people are conflicted, I promise you. I think what you’re experiencing is really common, especially in people with contradictory cultural influences. (And the cold hard truth is that whether you’re buying or renting, you’re paying a stranger. It’s only recently that I owned more of my house than Mr. Wells Fargo did and I’ll still be paying him for a long time.)

            I strongly vote for moving out and renting a place; it will not solve your feeling conflicted, but you can see whether the advantages outweigh the conflicts. It will also give you an action to take, which is almost always a tonic for a situation where you’re feeling trapped.

          3. Marcela

            Let me give you a new perspective from somebody who waited 10 years more than it should to leave my parents’ place: just for staying there you are paying a price. The price was the relationship with my parents. In my country and culture, we live with our parents until we are married. Most people do not leave home to go to the university, so there is no place to go before you start your own family.

            I spent 10 years of hell with my mom, and I also believed I should not leave. I also wanted so much to happily live under my mom’s conditions, thinking she wanted to best for me and that she could not let me suffer if she only knew how unhappy I was for certain things, that I stayed. After all, she was not abusing me, only trying to raise me under the rules of the middle ages. Those 10 years scarred me in such way that 10 years later (from the moment I left, I mean), I still can’t have a decent relationship with her. I thought I was in a better place until she came visiting a month ago, but all the rage is still inside me. Now I wish I would have left as soon as I was 18. I would have been free of this resentment. I could love her without being so enraged by her selfishness.

      2. TL -

        So you’re probably not going to be able to afford a nice place – that’s okay. Your parents probably worked for years to be able to afford their nice house in their nice neighborhood and you’re going to have to do the same thing. And – $800/month in rent isn’t the same as $800/mo in mortgage and $150,000 in debt. Live somewhere where the rent is reasonable for the city you’re in; don’t worry about a place being “nice”; worry about it being functional and safe.

        It’s totally normal to rent when you’re first on your own! You don’t want to live in the city, so why incur debt to do so? And it’s also totally normal to not want to live with your parents – it’s not selfish to want to start your own life. Get your own place, and work on getting your life where you want it to go.

      3. Temperance

        I’m going to encourage you here to reframe your thinking. You’re an adult woman, not a “girl”, and it’s okay to be “selfish”. Don’t worry about being a “good girl”. Obeying your family all the time has clearly taken a toll on you.

        My family belongs to a religious group that encourages women to live home until marriage. I made the choice to stop being part of that, largely because I don’t share their belief system.

      4. Trillian

        While I’m not from a culture that expects women to go from parental home to marital home, my mother seldom missed a chance to denigrate the family relationships of students who moved out while attending the local uni. So I never thought of moving out until I moved long distance for work, into a 1br rental. I had no idea how much I would love having my own chaotic, creative space–that no one could enter uninvited without 24 hours notice, except in emergency–or how much my relationship with my mother would improve without the constant friction of our different priorities.

        I would recommend you start by renting. Home ownership does tie you down–the cost of both buying and selling are significant, and the basic–utilities, taxes, maintenance and repair–are ongoing, and always more than you expect. Never mind decoration, furniture and upgrades. Rent is predictable. And if independence is a struggle, you might wind up having to put some geographic distance between yourself and your family anyway, another reason to stay mobile. There isn’t one best in housing. It changes throughout your life, based on your needs, but also on factors beyond your control.

      5. Not So NewReader

        I hope you can find ways to go easier on yourself. It’s one thing when family sets up RULES and it another whole animal when we give ourselves RULES.

        Right now you have a set up where if you stay, you lose.
        If you go, you still lose.

        Change your mind, change your life.
        Decide to let YOU win here.

        It is normal and healthy to want to spread your wings and fly. I would be worried if your goal was to stay at home until your dying day. So you are normal and healthy.

        It’s not up to you to sort your parents’ emotions for them, stick to just sorting your own.

        Next on your list is figuring out the finances of all this. Getting that first place is HARD. But the next place is not so hard. Aim small, aim for something that is less than what you think you can afford. Keep your needs modest. You can do this. The hardest part is deciding to make it work. Once you decide that, the rough part is over and you can start taking action.

    7. Anono-me

      You are not bad for wanting what you need to build a good life for yourself. You are sensible. No one that cares for you wants you to be unhappy. (They may want you to be their kind of happy, but that is a whole ‘nother website.)

      With the complicated financial and cultural situation you have, along with the feeling I get that you just want OUT NOW; I am going to suggest looking for a longer term house sitting gig. Many snowbirds head south in January. This would give you several months of space to get your head clear and make plans. This would probably be an easier conversation to have with your family than telling them you were moving out to rent a place. You also can just sort of not move back when the gig is up, either move on to the next gig or to your own space.

      Good luck.

      1. Hello from Canada

        OUT NOW is what my heart is screaming ;). House sitting actually sounds like a really cool idea, and you’re right that it would be easier to justify to myself and my parents. Do you know about how people get started with something like that?

        1. self employed

          Consider starting with friends, friends’ parents, neighbors, colleagues, etc. Get references from those jobs and branch out from there.

        2. Pennalynn Lott

          Google “how to become a house sitter”. It looks like there’s a lot of information about it out there. Don’t pay any money to any of the sites [just yet]. Spend time sussing out what’s real and what’s a scam.

          Also, does your neighborhood have anything like an email group, or a Google group; or does Canada have something like Nextdoor(dot)com? You could write to the group and ask if anyone either (a) has experience as a house sitter, or (b) has used a house sitter. Let them know you want to pick their brains about how to become one. (Or ask any other community you might be a part of).

        3. Anono-me

          Most of the people I know who have pet or house sat or who used sitters did it as a sort of mutual favors for friends of friends. And found each other by word of mouth.

          However, I did meet a professional house/pet sitter several times and as I found that very interesting, I asked about it. The house/pet sitter had a LLC, a regular group of clients, a professional website and also advised on vacation group websites and blogs. I know that that there is at least one for Canadians who snowbird in Arizona. (Sorry I don’t know the name.)

          Also, if you are a dog person: I have a friend who dog sits at home and works with Doggy Vacay. And likes them. They do have an in home pet sitting option.

          IANAL, but you may want to check on how the insurance and legal stuff works if you wind up doing this independently.

          Good luck.

    8. Colette

      I agree with everyone that you should find a way to move out. If you’re not already doing so, start saving the equivalent of the rent you’d pay every month. That’ll give you a cushion when you are ready to move.

      Your parents might be upset. That’s ok – they can take it. To quote a great uncle I never met, if you do this they’ll be upset. If you don’t do it, you’ll be upset. It’s better that it’s them.

    9. Stellaaaaa

      I’m going to disagree with the others a bit – I don’t think there’s anything wrong with living at home to save money provided that you actually are saving the money.

      I moved out two years ago and got a studio, and I was miserable. In this region, the only places that an adult with my income could rent on her own were in unsafe, loud neighborhoods. I was paying a lot of money to live in an area where I couldn’t sleep at night or feel safe walking from my car to my front door. Roommates weren’t an option, since I’m at an age where everyone is jumping to move in with romantic partners. I don’t think it’s as easy as just finding a studio or just finding roommates; if the person living above you is a loud drunk who never takes her clompy shoes off, is the ~independence really worth it? Or if your roommate bails after three months to shack up with her boyfriend, where does that leave you? Wouldn’t you eventually resent having to spend the money to live in a place that made you cry out of exhaustion and stress?

      I moved back in with my mom but we mostly get along and she doesn’t hassle me. I have a lot of student debt from finishing my master’s. She’s proud of me for that and she doesn’t mind helping me out while I pay off my education. BUT I am very serious about putting my would-be rent money into savings so I can buy my own house in a quiet area eventually.

    10. AcademiaNut

      A couple of comments.

      The first – buying isn’t always the best thing to do financially. It depends on the market, your finances, how long you plan on staying in the area, and a bunch of other stuff. For my parents’ generation, it was a no-brainer – you rented until you could afford to buy, then you bought. For my generation, it’s a lot more varied. I have no intention of buying, for example, because the rent/buy ratio and housing prices in general mean it would be a bad financial decision.

      Second – living on your own (or with roommates) in between living with your parents and buying or marrying has some very practical benefits. You get practice managing things – money, interacting with the landlord, shopping, cooking, fixing things – in a way you generally don’t when living with parents. You can learn more about what you want and don’t want when you buy, and things to look out for, not just in the house but in the neighbourhood. Living with roommates you aren’t related to can teach you a lot about what you need and what you don’t want in a romantic partner, and how to live with someone as an equal. And with a rental place and roommates, it’s a lot easier to change if you don’t like it – you aren’t stuck with a house you can’t afford and can’t sell, or a messy divorce.

      Third – if you’re desperate to get out of your current situation, and the only way you can see doing it is marriage or home ownership, you’re more likely to buy or marry something that isn’t a good idea, and regret it later. I have friends who married to get away from home, and it wasn’t necessarily much of an improvement.

    11. Artemesia

      Being a grownup means moving away from home; but buying a house is a terrible idea until you are fairly well set on a location AND very well off financially i.e.no debt and savings for a good down payment and a good income.

      I’d think about finding a modest apartment, even a studio, in an area or building where there are other young adults and make plans to move and then let them know that is what you are doing. I am assuming you have finished college from your comment about grad school — so it is high time. If you don’t have a job to support this then make that your first priority — and save like crazy for the deposit.

      Another option in many cities and one my daughter used living in DC for her first job was living in a share house with 4 other people. It was really cheap and she was able to save money on a very low beginning salary in a high cost town.

      When you are stuck and need to do A B C and D — pick one thing and focus just on that. And please don’t feel guilty or succumb to hassles about the natural course of growing up and moving out on your own. Good luck.

      1. Stellaaaaa

        “Being a grownup means moving away from home”

        ———

        This isn’t true at all. There are many functioning, well-adjusted adults for whom living with their parents is the financially smarter or culturally accepted thing to do. There are many good arguments for moving out, but “you won’t be a real grownup until you do” isn’t one of them.

    12. Hello from Canada

      Hi everyone!

      Thank you so much for all your comments and encouragement. I was in a really bad place yesterday and honestly felt a little hopeless. I read all your comments and took some time to think about what was really important to me, plus examined what was fact vs. what was assumption in my mind. I also talked to my parents a little bit – not about the overwhelming frustration and unhappiness, but about how it was important to me to have my own space. What surprised me was when I talked to my dad about it, he agreed! I lived on my own in university because it was across the country, and he said he thinks I was doing much better then than I am now. I’m glad we’re on the same page about that.

      I think talking to my parents also helped me relieve some of the burden of cultural expectations. Yes, people in my culture live with their families until marriage. But my parents are not strict traditionalists at all! I learned a *lot* about healthy marriages and partnerships from watching them. So I don’t know why I was so sure they would be angry and disappointed in me if I decided to move out. I think my own fear about stepping out on my own as a financially independent young adult (no parents to pay rent or bail me out when student loan money runs out) was influencing my perception of their expectations. Financial security is important to me, and it will be a little more uncertain to live on my own than at home. But that’s part of growing up and it has to happen sooner or later.

      So basically I was worried that they’d be angry at me for wasting money because I was angry and scared at myself for wasting money (by choosing independence over free room and board).

      However, things are definitely not resolved yet. My parents are staunchly in the camp of “renting is throwing money away” and are strongly encouraging me to buy a place. The obvious subtext there is, “if you’re going to move out, then at least have something to your name to make it worthwhile”. I don’t know how things will shake out, but knowing that I have their blessing to move out I feel a lot more confident about exploring my options.

      Anyway, thanks to everyone for their encouragement and support, and for sharing your perspectives. Growing up is hard, but I think I’ll be ok eventually.

    13. TootsNYC

      Find something short-term?

      Look and see if someone needs an apartment sitter, or someone to sublet for a few months. Something that everyone knows is going to end at a specific time.
      Then see how it feels.

      You’ll have your toes wet.

  37. LizB

    I’m off on a local-store shopping expedition this afternoon to try and get my holiday shopping done. I have presents for almost everyone figured out except for my mom. I always have the worst time trying to buy things for her. She works tons of hours a week, she doesn’t really have time to spend on reading, crafting, or music (as much as she might like to), she’s very into weight loss but pretty much has everything she needs in terms of cookbooks and exercise equipment, and the last few times I’ve gotten her “experience”-type gifts she’s never gotten around to doing them. I’m never 100% sure what her taste in jewelry is. She doesn’t need another coffee mug. I’ve thought about a grow-your-own-mushrooms kit, since she loves mushrooms, or something kind of tongue-in-cheek about being an empty nester (my youngest sibling left for college in the fall). Any ideas, AAM hivemind?

      1. self employed

        LOVE Zingerman’s.

        Perhaps a coffee subscription? I have received Mistobox and wasn’t super into their beans but there are surely other brands.

      2. LizB

        This is a great idea! I’m on a budget, but I’ll see what I can figure out. (I’d ask my siblings to chip in, but they’re terrible about actually paying me back.)

        1. Artemesia

          LOL. Yeah you need one trial learning with people who ‘go in on’ gifts and then stick you with the bill.

          Maybe experience gift with you attached i.e. tickets to a show for the two of you or dinner at an interesting new place (dim sum, Brazillian grill, sushi — whatever seems like an adventure)

          1. TootsNYC

            I like the of attaching yourself to the experience gift. That’ll make sure she uses it, plus–speaking as a mom in your mom’s exact “last kid just left for college” situation–time with my children is precious.

    1. Anono-me

      If she is short on time, what about a service gift certificate? Maybe a gift certificate to: Dry cleaners that pickup and deliver. Grocery delivery. Mechanic that will pick her car up to do the next round of maintenance and return it. Spring or Fall garden prep if she has a yard.

  38. Cheryl Blossom

    How do you transition to become the fun friend?! My whole life I’ve been the stable one that everyone goes to for advice/confess their drama. This has happened now with every friend group I’ve ever been part of.

    This week three friends all confessed some really f*ing intense life stuff to me and I’m trying to keep it together, but it’s really affecting me.

    Its so hard to be fun to be around or the “fun one” when you know all the terible stuff :(

    1. self employed

      It sounds like you want to be able to compartmentalize. Imagine setting these friends’ problems aside to deal with later. (Heck, it’s the only way to get through the tough times!)

      1. Cheryl Blossom

        I think I’m pretty good at compartmentalizing already… I’m just exhausted being the “stable one” or the one that people feel safe talking too (because I’m a vault, I take confidentiality really seriously).

        I imagine this is how counsellors feel maybe? At a certain point it’s just too much to hear, you know?

        I guess what I mean by wanting to be the the fun friend, is to be the one they call when they want to go out or on a trip. But even when I suggest something “fun” I always get the emotional dump even at a bar or at an intermission at a concert :(

        My only idea so far to change this is to start not keeping confidences but that feels so awful I can’t imagine gossiping about private stuff.

        1. Mona

          I feel terrible reading this reply of yours, Cheryl Blossom. :( Please know you are not alone and you are not going crazy. What you really need is new friends who aren’t using you (which I know from first-hand experience is easier said than done).

          1. Cheryl Blossom

            Thank you! It helps to know hat other people understand!

            I’ve definitely been “used” before like you are describing and have cut those friends out, but this feels different and I’m not sure that’s what’s going on. I think it’s more that all the individual friends don’t know that everyone treats me the same way- like maybe most people have diff kinds of relationships and mine tend to be the same over and over again. I know at least three of my friends would feel horrible knowing that this is how im feeling and would want to support.

            I think because my my life experiences I have HAD to be a rock for my self and I’m really good at being strong and not f*cking up. Part of the problem is just being awe-struck by my intelligent, kind, lovely friends making HORRIBLE life choices. I feel really lonely and a bit lost. I also kinda just want to throw caution to the wind because it doesn’t seem to matter to anyone else to be rational! That said I’m a giant control freak and don’t even know how to do that. (Aka even if I wanted to get drunk I’d ed up self regulating and not let myself get plastered). Perhaps that’s also why I’m not the fun one.

            1. Mona

              “I think because my my life experiences I have HAD to be a rock for my self and I’m really good at being strong and not f*cking up.” – This is totally me. I was ill as a child so I had no choice but to conserve my energy so I could study. I was not the fun friend b/c I was too exhausted to be that person. It hurt me so badly at my high school reunion to hear that everyone else was going out to see midnight showing of movies and going to parties and I knew none of that. (I am, however, glad I missed all the debauchery, haha!)

              If you have friends who would respect you if you told them “look, I can’t handle all this emotional baggage of yours,” then be honest with them. The problem I’ve faced is that as you point out, there are a bunch of people out there incapable – or unwilling – to be responsible. You can’y be responsible for their reckless behavior, even if you feel like you are in some way by being their friend.

              I think you need to start doing some things for yourself :) There are plenty of things you can do to have fun that don’t involve getting arrested, ha. Don’t feel that you need others to have fun. I travel and go out and do stuff without those other friends of mine and I am not held back b/c of them. It sucked in the beginning b/c I hated going out alone, but if I didn’t go out myself, I’d never get out. And for women especially, it sucks when everyone but you gets married and has kids, which means they never leave the house unless to hang out with other married, kid-laden women (a generality I know, but more often than not where I live).

              To speak to your earlier comment of “I guess what I mean by wanting to be the the fun friend, is to be the one they call when they want to go out or on a trip.”, that could have been me a few years ago. There are a group of women in my friend circle who travel internationally a lot over a shared interest that has bonded them. I have asked individuals in that travel group if they want to go on a road trip a few hours away from where we live and somehow, mysteriously (or not… /sarcasm), they have never taken me up on it. I have tried repeatedly but for some reason they don’t want to travel with me. It isn’t from lack of trying on my part, so I gave up on them. Give your best shot but after a while, it’s just not worth it. You’re good enough on your own and you’ll find friends already in your circle or other new friends outside of it who will be worth your time.

              1. Cheryl Blossom

                Thanks also for this reminder that I can have fun alone. I’m an introvert so I think I could manage this ok- I haven’t travelled on my own yet but I think it could work. I think I need to get over the social expectation that you need a pack to have fun. It is hard though when I hear colleagues or friends talking about how they rented a hotel room or cabin with 8 girlfriends for the weekend. I wish I had 8 girlfriends I wanted to spend an entire weekend with. Maybe the reality is that no one really enjoys it that much?!

            2. Mona

              Just thought of something. Another approach is to tell your friends you care about that they need to talk to a professional. One friend of mine was constantly harping about her significant other and I got sick of hearing the same story over and over. She was hurt initially but eventually she backed off and found treatment for her low self-esteem. The longer I am in counseling, the more I realize the people complaining and emotionally dumping actually need an objective viewpoint I can’t give. When your friends start to sound like broken records, that’s a sign they are not dealing with real life and are using you as a way to temporarily relieve their anxiety / depression.

              1. Cheryl Blossom

                I love this because I do it all the time!! I a huge advocate of counselling. Most of my friends actually do use therapy, but this is good advice for one that I haven’t mentioned it to yet.

            3. Not So NewReader

              I wondered if you had your own crap to work through and this is why they lean on you and I see this is what happened.

              Seek people who are more like you. These are the people who are showing responsibility. The people you are with now may be chronologically your peers but in terms of life experiences they are not your peers.

              Secondly, develop a sense of humor/amusement based on cause and effect relationships.
              “Well if you tell a friend to STFU, then it’s reasonable to assume they will get mad. This happens often.”
              “Well yes, if you drive your car where the contractor spilled a bunch of nails it’s likely that you will get a flat tire. There are no nail proof tires that I know of.”
              Learn to shrug more. My husband used to say, “If you yank a chain on a toilet you cannot blame it for flushing.” Cause and effect relationships.

              Like you, I had to shut it down in my life. I could not cope with being a dump any more. So what I did was insist on action plans. “Okay you have had this happen before, so what is your plan on preventing it in the future?” Or, “Gee, that sounds awful. How will you help yourself not get hit with this problem again?”

              People either get into the swing of it, or they stop bringing you problems.

              If you are going to do anything wild and crazy, insist on having people around you who are responsible people. We go with what we know, if we have been surrounded by needy people that becomes familiar and we can end up picking out more needy people, if we do not decide to deliberately do something different. Look for people who are already helping themselves. This will take time and you might need to go slowly. You may even notice that the first few people you pick are a little older than you. That is okay, keep following along.

              You might want to consider telling those three friends you mentioned about your predicament and giving them a chance to change what they are doing.

              1. Cam

                This is great advice if you have friends who just want to endlessly vent and not problem solve. I like it. A line I learned was “What do you think you going to do about it?”

                You don’t have to betray confidences to get them to stop. If you don’t want to directly ask them to stop, you could just become an annoying person to vent to. Give them advice, even when it’s obvious they just want you to listen not advise. Be overly optimistic and find even the smallest silver lining in every bad situation. Change the subject a lot. Tell them that your new year’s resolution is to complain about (blank) less so let’s talk about Netflix instead. But this is all advice for stopping causal complaining that gets out of hand, rather than major life crisis.

                1. Not So NewReader

                  I looked up one day and realized a couple in my life had been complaining to me about each other for 25 years. I said no more, “fix it or get out”. They weren’t too keen on hearing that.
                  But my real eye opener here was just how long I had tolerated the endless stream of complaints. They dumped their grievances on me so they had a clean platter to get the next batch of grievances. They felt better, I felt crappy.

                  I had another example of a person who complained to me about an abusive family member. Tic-toc, again, I never looked at a calendar and when I finally did I was shocked in to reality. The abuse happened 50 years ago, the person complaining had been complaining to me for 15 years!

                  I concluded that the problem was ME. I allowed it. I wondered why I felt so worn down and defeated, well here was part of my answer.

                  I learned:
                  Don’t let time slip by unnoticed.

                  There is a difference between someone in a crisis and someone who endlessly whines about problems more or less of their own making. Generally, the people having a life crisis work through it and they settle into a new normal. It might take a few years but you can see incremental changes as the months go by.

                  The times in my life when I have gotten the best help is when I initiated things by helping myself first. The take-away for me here is help people who are trying to help themselves. I can tell you first hand that how these stories play out is very, very different from when I was trying to help the people who were stuck or stagnant.

              2. Cheryl Blossom

                This is amazing advice! Will totally implement this! Particularly with one friend who is online dating and is very upset and demoralized that guys keep ghosting on her after she sleeps with them – which to be fair is super super shtty. I don’t want what I say to sound like slut shaming because I think women should be able to do what they want when they want just like men but without the double standard (as long as its safe and consensual) however, it seems like having sex on the first date is setting up an unrealistic expectation that she’s just looking for one time, even though she tells them she wants more. What would be some good phrasing around slowing things down in relationships?

                1. Not So NewReader

                  “Friend, you are saying guys are ghosting on you and, yeah, I agree it sure looks that way. What do you think you would like to change about what you are doing here to get a different result?”

                  Warning: This part actually amuses me. When you do these questions be prepared for people to come up with very intelligent answers that you never thought of. On occasion people have blown me away with their answers. And here I was thinking I was the teacher, in reality they actually taught me something.

        2. self employed

          Ah, I understand better now. Can you come up with a line that helps you draw the boundary if you don’t want the dump? I’m drawing a blank and will look to the other commenters for ideas…?

          1. The RO-Cat

            “I’ve had a rough patch recently and I can’t manage more that holding it all together. Maybe there’s someone else who can listen better than me? Meanwhile, how about [fun stuff]?”

    2. Mona

      Firstly, you should feel a sense of pride that your friends are coming to you with your problems. It means you’re a good person, trustworthy, and kind. This happens to me all the time. Or I should say it did before. Friends would bother me at during work hours, at night, sometimes the middle of the night, seeking advice, needing a shoulder to cry on, etc. Earlier this year I had a bit of a breakdown where I realized I had been the rock for my friends for years and then when I really needed them – when personal and professional stuff got really bad in the front end of 2016 – wouldn’t you know, none of them were available for me.

      So I disconnected. I refused to open or answer FB messages, didn’t reply to crisis text, etc. Turning off from social media was probably the best thing I did for myself.

      When I finally “came back” months later, the people who really cared for me asked me how I was, and they stopped bothering me with their crisis moments. The other people who were just users had moved on.

      The problem with being “the good friend” is that they’re using you as a dumping ground for all their anxiety. Many of these people “dump”, then go on their merry way, feeling cleansed b/c they’ve talked to a person like us. Yet they can’t wrap their heads around helping US when we need it in return. It’s not a nice thing to realize that all the friendship you have extended isn’t coming back to you.

      The only way to be the “fun friend” you wish to be is to make your wishes known that you aren’t there for their drama. Hard to draw the line (especially if you are a woman, b/c women by nature are “sharers”) but unless you draw that line, your friends will continue to “dump” on you, leaving you drained.

      Check out The Friendship Blog, I’ve gotten some really good advice on how to handle “female” relationships there. http://www.thefriendshipblog.com

    3. Mona

      The site ate the response I typed up (maybe it’s in moderation?), so here’s the abbreviated version:

      1. Firstly, feel proud that these friends of yours are coming to you with their problems. That means you are a thoughtful, kind, trustworthy friend of theirs or else they wouldn’t be coming to you with their problems.

      2. That said, if you want to be “the fun friend,” you have to draw the line in the sand and make it known you are not a dumping ground for their drama. This was a hard lesson for me to learn but some people feel “cleansed” after talking to someone about a crisis, some pent-up anxiety, etc in their life, and then they go on their merry way with no intention (or no capacity) to be that person in the same way for you. If you are not getting a reciprocation of support from the other person who is being the drama queen, then you know this is happening.

      Change the subject and if that isn’t enough, be clear that you will only accept a happy, drama-free zone. Take the high road.

      3. Check out the Friendship Blog (google it) for further advice, especially on female-to-female relationships. I’ve got a lot of good advice out of it when I felt ditched and disrespected by my so-called friends.

    4. Overeducated

      I know the common factor seems to be you, but…could you try to look out for new friends who a) don’t have tons of heavy stuff going on in their lives at this point or b) are looking for people to share fun experiences with, not deep confidantes?

      I know a) is somewhat out of people’s control, and everyone goes through different stuff in different parts of life, but if ALL your friends are ALWAYS wanting to talk about intense stuff they are going through, that’s more than random chance. It makes me wonder if it’s related to how you first bond with people and setting patterns for the friendship. For instance, my best friend from childhood had a tendency to have super intense friendships that would sometimes flame out into super intense friendship explosions. I thought for years that it’s because she’s an extrovert who wears her heart on her sleeve, and makes friends fast with people who are exciting and open but not always calm or reliable. I urged her to make more “boring” friends who take longer to get to know but are stable and loyal, or at least can pull back with civility and subtlety if things go downhill. Those are most of the ones who’ve stuck around.

      You might just be on a run of bad luck, and if that’s the case, ignore my comment. If you’re not sure, maybe think about patterns and breaking them, though. In either case, it might work to present “fun” ideas as escapism, and say “let’s only talk about happy things during this activity, I am feeling overwhelmed and need a break to relax!” Putting it in terms of your own emotional needs might be speaking a language they understand.

      1. Cheryl Blossom

        This is spot on. I think I might not sure how to have more surface friendships. I’m the kind of person that people naturally just tell super personal stuff to (like I’m talking complete strangers, teachers, professors, co-workers, bosses etc.). I imagine it is largely how I interact with the world – I’m super thoughtful, quiet, trustworthy etc. You are right, I think I need to get better at developing new kinds of friendships where I don’t let the conversation go deep at all.

        I’m not sure how to do this?! Any advice out there? I generally don’t open up first, but if a new friend starts telling me personal things I don’t stop them, and then I feel like I have to reciprocate to match the level of sharing (although I generally only share my really personal stuff with just two ppl).

        1. Not So NewReader

          I think that it is good to realize that some people just tell their personal stuff to anyone who holds still for five minutes. So the first thing I check for is to see if this is a person who latches on to everyone.

          Next. Think about what the person is telling you. The nature of the problem can give you clues.
          “You know, I routinely play with matches and I have burned down my last three houses.”
          Okay, this might not be a person to have a bonding moment with. Personally, I do not have any familiarity with this stuff and I really cannot help. (Yes that is an extreme example but I think it helps to clearly show some problems are beyond our scope and not fixable by a single person, a group of people is needed here.)

          On the other end of the spectrum, there are people out there who are truly floundering because life threw them a curve ball, such as a death in the family. Well, I can talk about that some and I do not mind total strangers discussing it with me. This is a personal choice I have made. When I did my house refi I met a few people. Oddly, TWO of those people had lost important relationships in their lives: their mothers and their best friends (meaning two separate people, each of these two people had two deaths in their lives.) That was very odd, but I sat and talked to these two people anyway. Their struggle was totally real and immediately apparent to me.

          I think that another aspect to consider is compulsively matching their level of intimacy. Find good reasons to share and stick to those reasons. For example, sharing to let the other person know they are not alone. Or sharing because the situation worked out for you and you think theirs will work out for them. Then decide that compulsively sharing is not a reason to share. Check your reason before you tell your story to them.

          Last factor to consider, time changes us. So the guidelines you set for today might not work in ten years, you might decide on new guidelines. Go with your current needs and goals for yourself to help you set limits. I now talk with people about things I never used to talk with people about, such as particular financial things.
          It’s always good to question what we are doing and think about refining it. You are probably further on your way to finding new peeps than you may realize.

    5. matcha123

      Oh, I can really understand this feeling. And unfortunately, I have no advice!

      I hate being the ‘responsible’ one. I want someone to take care of me. I want to be the one drinking way too much and having a friend call a cab to take me home. I want to be the one with wild adventures. I have friends who keep doing dumb stuff, and I can’t believe it. They are so smart!

      1. Cheryl Blossom

        Oh much gosh this is exactly what I mean! And whhhhyyyy do they do such dumb stuff sometimes?????

    6. Anonforthis

      It might be time to broaden your friendship circle and get out and meet more people- volunteer, join a book club or biking club, take a class at the gym or community college, sign up for classes at your local library, etc. This way you can bond over the activity and a common interest. They’ll be more interested in what Cheryl Blossom has to say over the latest mystery book, instead of what advice Cheryl can give them about their latest problem. Some of these might develop into friendships and “Sally” from book club might be a really good person to vent to or get advice from, “Joe” from art class might be a great drinking buddy, etc.

      I know it has been mentioned, but you have to take care of you. It’s great that your friends trust you and depend on you, but you are a person as well. The road goes BOTH ways- make sure you also express to them what you need or if you need help/advice with something. It’s great to be their “rock”, but even the “rock” needs someone to lean on as well. Don’t let them take advantage of your kindness!

  39. Natalie

    Swimming: my husband and I have been swimming recently. He actually swam a lot as a teenager, I just learned the basics as a kid but don’t really remember. So we’re mostly treading water and doggy paddling and what have you.

    I would like to get a different bathing suit, as the one I have was made for looking cute on a boat and I don’t want to shorten it’s lifespan. What would I look for in a “performance, but seriously not really” kind of suit? Bonus if it will de-emphasize the stomach area as I carry weight like Bart Simpson.

    Also, I have really curly hair and the water is messing it up. I’m getting a swim cap today but any other suggestions would be awesome.

      1. Panthalassa

        Hair: if putting a cap on dry hair, sprinkle powder or cornstarch inside the cap. Tie up your hair in back. Flip cap inside out and fill it with water so you are holding an inside out bucket of water above your head. Then just pull it down over your head and shoulders. You’ll get a little wet but hair will be dry and you won’t be trying to stuff your hair up in the cap (which tears it). Get a cap that is *thick* latex or rubber. Try different brands. Doing this method, I can basically swim “dry” for at least 30 minutes.

        My preferred method is to get my hair wet with tap water and coat it with conditioner or oil, then put a cap on. The key is to not saturate with chlorine water. If you don’t want to do that, at least cost the front pieces and ends and the hair at your nape.

        There are some good shampoos for post chlorine, although a little baking soda dissolved in a bottle with water does the trick. Also works to get the smell off your skin.

        Start with healthy hair and a good trim. Chlorine will destroy damaged hair.

        . . . I swam competitively in pools and open water for many years and I have dry skin and dry curly long thick hair. Protect it. The damage isn’t reversible.

        1. Natalie

          This is great, thanks! I’m definitely going to try the baking soda thing, too – that smell really lingers. I was never much of a swimmer before this so I guess I never noticed. :/

      2. Amtelope

        I love Land’s End for swimsuits, especially because a lot of their suits come as separate tops and bottoms, so I can get swim shorts rather than bikini bottoms, which I dislike. They have a lot of options, and their suits hold up well to pretty hard wear.

    1. Cristina in England

      To me Speedo would be the standard swimsuit for fitness, and they have different levels of suit from recreational to elite professional. Speedo.com are having a sale for BF so you can get your goggles, etc too.

      As far as features go, I would make sure that it follows rules of other types of clothing fit, I.e. wide straps if you are heavy-chested, in a special long size if you have a long torso, etc. I don’t think there are many features needed for basic fitness suit beyond fit, but I am happy to be proven wrong!

    2. CMT

      Swim Outlet is the place for you! You can get cheap practice suits there (and any other swimming related equipment you might need).

    3. Rahera

      Speedo would be my suggestion too. I like the Endurance style/model, not sure if that’s available outside NZ? I would definite go for a suit that is chlorine resistant.

    4. Sled dog mama

      Athleta. I love their suits. Just bought my first bikini ever from them and they have one pieces and tankinis too. Top and bottom are sold separately so you can get different sizes if needed.

    5. chickabiddy

      www(dot)swimsuitsforall(d0t)com has a huge range of suits in the size 12-34 range, and if you get on their email list they send out a LOT of coupon and sale codes.

    6. Ktelzbeth

      I was a competitive swimmer and am now a triathlete, so I do plenty of swimming. I may not have good advice, since my hair is really straight, but I’ll give you what I have. My hairstylist told me to wet my hair with tap water first, so that it is saturated with that and cannot absorb as much of the chlorine. I have no idea where you are or what your budget is, but I think more and more cities have swimwear boutiques like Nani Nalu in Minneapolis (where I went last time I wanted a nice but also swimmable suit for a tropical vacation). The idea is somewhere with millions of suits and a helpful salesperson who will bring them to you based on what you ask for and what’s looked good so far. If you just want function for swimming, Tyr and Speedo are the classic brands and what I wear on a day to day basis, but not necessarily anywhere on the flattering spectrum.

    7. Mephyle

      I don’t swim very much but I know what I don’t like in a bathing suit. I don’t like straps falling off my shoulders, or my hips exposed. No fancy cut-outs or draping. So for me, a (one-piece) bathing suit has to be a tank with a racer back, and be low-cut at the sides over the hip. Anything else, I don’t care. (Adequate boob support goes without saying.)
      I have a fluffy belly, and I find that the things that best de-emphasize it are either busy prints or some sort of strip or colour block design running vertically on each side of the belly. Or a starburst pattern that converges on one side.

    8. Sprechen Sie Talk?

      Competitive swimmer and triathlete in past life… until I moved somewhere with far fewer competitive standard pools! (hoping to get back into it soon in January now that I will be working near a pool and hopefully this nerve situation with toe pointing and leg cramping gets resolved!)

      Check out Keifer.com – they have a lot of suit styles and some good sales on, as well as an own brand. Look in the Athletic and Fitness styles section. Anything shirred in the stomach will help cover up issues, and they have plenty of suits with a low leg line, and it looks like Dolfin now make separates. Oh – they have a Keifer Aqualast suit in conservative style for $25 at the moment, thats not bad at all. Sign up for their email as they tend to have a lot of sales.

      Ive got Chest, so I have always preferred Speedo over Tyr, because of the wider straps and a nice racerback and lower cut. But honestly, I have bought plenty of Keifer/Dolfin suits just to have an extra training suit in the bag, a drag suit (once it wore out), or one on standby.

      Goggles – can be a matter of choice, but I would recommend going to a sports store and trying a few on. I adore the Speedo Vanquisher and have it in a number of types for different pool situations (indoor/outdoor) and back up pairs (yeah ive got problems). Nothing ruins my workout more than the wrong pair of goggles/broken strap/leaky gaskets. I like them to be comfortable etc. because otherwise you are just asking for a headache or the irritation is diverting – like a bad running shoe.

      Caps – Ive got super straight and boring hair, but I prefer a silicone to latex cap because the tear possibility is lower. Nothing worse (than a goggle issue) than getting into a pool and you go to put on the cap and the damn thing tears. Speedo makes them for longer hair too, which maybe helps for your curly hair? Also, you can get special shampoo for chlorine removal – its on the website t00. My hair is so flat and lame nothing helps it anyway, so I just used a wash and go shampoo only at the pool, with my expensive salon stuff at home. Ive got silicone caps Ive had for over five years still going strong.

      Finally – if you really enjoy getting into the water and this is an activity you both like, maybe look into getting some adult swimming lessons? You don’t have to join a masters team or anything, but often there are courses through the Y or local teams to get adults in the water and more comfortable. Learning proper technique can make a huge difference in enjoyment of fitness swimming.

    9. Red

      On the hair, put conditioner on it before you put the swim cap on. You’ll have silky soft curls that were protected from the chlorine the whole time. I’ve never had better hair than when I swam.

      I’m no help on the suit, though. I just wear whatever cheap suit from Target I like and call it a day. If I burn people’s retinas, well, sucks to be them.

    10. AliceBD

      I echo Speedo for suits — I swam 5+ days a week for years for swim team and then just exercise and Speedo suits held up great. Get one of the lap swim suits that is chlorine resistant, and they also have ones with ruching on the stomach area to de-emphasize that area (I also carry my weight there).

      If your issue is water in general, I can’t help. If the issue is the chlorine water, go to the shower area of the pool and get your hair soaking wet beforehand with the tap water, and then put the cap on. If your hair (and your suit) are saturated with the tap water they won’t be very affected by the chlorine water.

      1. AliceBD

        Also, when you get out of the pool, head immediately to the shower area and at least rinse your hair. For me, actually washing it is better. Then put heavy duty conditioner on it.

  40. I Want to Tell You

    Does anyone have recommendations for mattresses, particularly ones that can be ordered from the Internet? I sorely need a new one because my current, going on 9-year-old IKEA mattress is sinking in spots and I keep waking up with back pain. My budget is up to $500 for a twin–it’s all I have room for–and I like a medium-soft mattress. I’ve browsed for mattresses at local furniture stores, but by the time I pay for delivery fee, tax, and tip, I may as well order one from a mattress web site and get the free shipping and not have to worry about scheduling a delivery time. A friend of mine has a Casper mattress and I tried it out but it was too firm for me. Also, I have a slatted bed base and no box spring, if that matters. Any suggestions are appreciated!

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I have the W Hotel mattress and it is magnificent. Everyone who has tried it loves it. You can often find coupons for sizable discounts on it if you search online.

    2. Natalie

      We bought a Tuft & Needle mattress, which works exactly like Casper in that you get the mattress for 100 nights and if you don’t like it they’ll take it away and refund your money. (They donate the returned mattress to the needy.) We chose it over Casper because it sleeps cooler and my husband is a space-heater, and so far we’re very happy with it. A queen was $600.

      1. Natalie

        Oh, and I think it would be considered medium soft. The top dents in when you are sitting or laying on it, but only for a few inches max – it’s firm underneath that squishy part.

        1. Lore

          I considered both Casper and Tuft & Needle before purchasing one this summer–I found Casper a little too soft and the T&N feels firmer to me. So I’m not sure it’s a good choice if you find Casper too firm.

    3. Ktelzbeth

      If you have a Costco membership or know anyone who does, try Costco.com (if you’re in that part of the world).

      1. lemonjelly

        Seconding this! My husband and I bought our current memory foam mattress from Costco’s website and we absolutely love it. They have many different options as far as firmness/size/features go, so I’m sure you’d be able to find what you’re looking for, and their prices including delivery were excellent.

    4. Girasol

      If you like a firm mattress, I can recommend Sleep Revolution Euro Mattress. It’s on my daybed (on strap-like slats) and I love it. I can kinda see why one reviewer complained “It’s like sleeping on a flour sack!” though. It’s not for soft mattress lovers. I got mine online and it was shipped all rolled up. It was about $200-ish as I recall, cheap enough that I don’t need to postpone its replacement when it needs it, but it’s still going strong at 3 years or so.

  41. Serious Question

    I have a lot of friends in the LGBTQ community, and some are involved with great organizations that offer a lot of support to people. But is there anything similar for people who are facing harassment and discrimmination because of a disability or something about the way they look?

    I’m heterosexual and cisgender, but I have some subtle physical differences and limitations. Because of the way people react, I’ve been through a lot. I” under employed and without a family as a result of all this. I know this can’t be uncommon. I want to find a supportive community of other people who are dealing with similar things. I’ve faced so much scary stuff (avoiding triggers here on AAM) it’s hard for me to talk about all of this to most people. Can anyone recommend a place to start?

    1. fposte

      I think it depends on the specifics, which you don’t need to share. If there’s a diagnosis or genetic disorder associated with the problem, I’d Google that and “support” or “resources.” Otherwise I’d go for a generic term (“Facial disfigurement,” for instance, gets you a lot of resources) and see if that gets you closer. Even if you don’t get a square-on hit, you might ask one of those places if they have any suggestions for you.

      Though I’m sure there are some broader alliances (Mimmy, who posts here, might know, as she studies this stuff), the disability experience is so tremendously varied that cluster points seem to be the relevant disorder or affected element.

      There’s also a disability subreddit, /r/disability; while it doesn’t seem very heavily trafficked, it’s got some good resources and might give you some places to explore further.

      I hope this is the kind of thing you were thinking of.

      1. Serious Question

        That’s helpful! Unfortunately, my diagnosis is one of those things that can cause different things in different people. I haven’t found much common ground with people in support groups for it. I don’t know why. Maybe I have a more unusual form of it.

        I think I need a broader body diversity sort of thing where I can just talk about what I’m going through and get some kind of support. I really wish there was a stronger community for this.

        1. Serious Question

          I’ll clarify a bit further. I’m dealing with discrimmination and similar stuff. I’m looking for resources on that. A lot of resources, condition specific or not, seem to focus on logistics, accessibility, etc. I haven’t found anything for people who’ve experienced hate crimes, been rejected by their families, etc. Although I’m sure something must exist?

          1. sundaysunday

            Maybe you can contact the LGBTQ organizations that deal with hate crimes (in NYC there is the Anti-Violence Project for example), and family rejection (Ali Forney also in NYC) and they may be able to refer you to non-LGBTQ organizations? Sorry my resources are NYC based. They may also be able to refer you to lawyers who deal with discrimination cases.

    2. Mona

      Giving you a hug and wishing you find the support you need to get yourself to a better place.

      I’m heterosexual with medical limitations that do not affect my work performance, yet somehow I’m still harassed at work because my personality is to care and do a good job, and my coworkers don’t care at all, so I’m looked at like the weirdo. (HR at my office sucks and is known to turn a blind eye, so I haven’t filed a grievance; I’ve been trying for a long while to get out, but I work in a shrinking industry.) Have you been been in / tried therapy? I tried a support group for my illness but I found it hurt more than helped: I was doing better than the other people in the group because I could work a full time job, wasn’t on disability, etc. and being the emphathetic person I am, I couldn’t handle being around people who were chronically depressed because it was affecting me mentally (I have depression myself but it’s under control). Therapy worked for me.

      1. Serious Question

        Yeah, but I’m dealing with bigger problems. I don’t want to say anything too upsetting here on AAM. But it’s a legal issue. I need advice on what counts as a hate crime and what I can do about all the stuff I’ve been through. And how I can better protect myself. It’s on-going. It’s been a constant issue my whole life.

        1. Cristina in England

          I don’t know about what resources there are where you live but here in the UK it is common for police forces to have info specific to hate crimes online. Here is the page on hate incidents and hate crimes on the Crown Prosecution Service website (there is a link for disability hate crimes on this page): http://www.cps.gov.uk/northeast/victims_and_witnesses/hate_crime/

          Probably best to go straight to the police/a lawyer since it is at that level.

    3. Rahera

      I’m really sorry to hear you’re going through such a rough time. Sending you solidarity and the best of luck. :)

      I wonder if there is a university near you, and if so, if they have a disability support person? Someone who is working with students in that role might be able to direct you to some local resources, maybe sources of support at uni or in the community, or technical advice. I hope so :).

    4. Serious Question

      Thank you for all the replies! I’ve made some phone calls and I think I’m on my way to finding support.

  42. Mags

    What are you guys reading right now? I had a bit of a splurge and picked up “The Vanishing Velasquez” “Moonglow” “The Nix” and Jericho Brown’s newest book of poetry “The New Testament” I am so excited I can’t decide which to read first.

    1. Mags

      Also, Amazon is giving $10 off book purchases of greater than $25 so I may have to treat myself to another purchase.

    2. printrovert

      I’m still on “A Breath of Snow and Ashes”–halfway through! I might even finish it before the end of the year.

      I finished Jennifer Niven’s “Holding Up the Universe” a few weeks ago and loved it. I have “Jackaby” to read in case I need another break from the bigger book. Those are both considered young adult, which up until last year was a genre I didn’t really care for. I have been trying to diversify.

    3. Pennalynn Lott

      “Timebound”, the first book in The Chronos Files trilogy by Rysa Walker. A friend recommended it. She said if you can get past the inherent inconsistencies in a time-travel novel, it’s an enjoyable read. I’m 44% through, and I have to agree. Tho, I’ve had to give myself a stern talking-to a few times now in order to suspend my disbelief and just roll with it. :-)

    4. katamia

      I just finished Elaine Sciolino’s Persian Mirrors, which was pretty good but quite outdated. I don’t like any of my libary books right now, though, so I don’t know what to read next. Will be keeping an eye on this thread, haha.

    5. Franzia Spritzer

      I’ve been reading The Expanse books by “James S. A. Corey.” I just finished book two, Caliban’s War, last night, and I’m about to start book three, Abaddon’s Gate.

    6. Torrance

      Right now I’m reading Neil Gaiman’s Trigger Warning. I’m trying to keep up on a resolution to read more but, given the general chaos of the past few weeks, my ability to focus for any decent length of time has made itself scarce. It’s a good thing my favourite author writes a ton of short stuff. :D

      1. Manderley

        I loved this! I checked it out of the library last year and again this year. I think I’m going to have to buy it!

    7. AdAgencyChick

      I just finished “A Little Life” by Hanya Yanagihara. It was like Dostoyevsky in that I won’t say I liked the events, but the writing and the psychology of the characters kept me turning the pages.

      I think next up is the Bruce Springsteen memoir. I’m not a huge Boss fan but I’ve heard good things about his writing.

    8. Overeducated

      I just finished “Back to Moscow” by Guillermo Errades and I liked it a lot, though I haven’t decided what to think of the ending. Lots of nostalgia points for me because it’s about studying in Russia as a young adult in the decade when I did that, also lots of good literary references, and of course musings about whether the “Russian soul” is a thing.

    9. lionelrichiesclayhead

      I’m reading “The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York” and “The Confidence Code” right now. Both are really good so far.

  43. Cat H UK

    So, I’m starting a 21 day diet plan. It’s actually with a personal trainer and he’s given me a 1600 calorie eating plan. I’ll also be seeing him 3 times a week. After the initial 21 days, I’ll be continuing with the training but moving to a more flexible eating plan.
    I’m really nervous about this but also excited. I’m 215 lbs so I need to lose quite a lot! I’m nervous about it because I haven’t properly exercised for a long time. I also have really bad shoulder pain (I’ve been referred to rheumatology to work out the source), but I noticed previously that lifting weights actually really helped it. It all but disappeared.
    I guess I don’t really have a question as such! I just turned 30 a month ago and I really want to be happy with my body!

    1. Sophie Winston

      It looks to me the trainer is trying to jump start your weight loss by creating a huge caloric deficit those first three weeks, which can be a great motivator. But if you’re pushed too hard with too few calories to fuel the workouts, you could crash and burn. I’m not trying to discourage you – just be careful and pay attention to your health as you get started. Good luck.

    2. AliCat

      That’s awesome! I’m trying to get on a better eating plan myself. Do you mind sharing what your plan is like? Are there any foods you’re cutting out entirely?

    3. Misc

      ” I noticed previously that lifting weights actually really helped it. It all but disappeared.”

      Might not apply to you (obviously :D ) but I also found I have a lot of hand/arm/shoulder pain if I don’t do a certain types of exercise; in my case it’s postural (screwy hips > spine issues > shoulders), so doing good arm/back/shoulder stuff (wall pushups is usually enough, or intensive garden work or running with very straight shoulders) helps correct my posture and strengthen the less used muscles to counteract all the computer-chair-itis.

    4. The Other Dawn

      Good luck!!

      I started with a trainer earlier in the year and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done, aside from the weight loss surgery. Just be prepared to be very sore the first week. I’m sure you know that, since you mentioned lifting weights previously. I, however, was not prepared for the soreness that set in, even though the trainer warned me. Actually, the soreness was from the fitness evaluation, not even the workout! It wasn’t bad the day after, but day two? Holy crap!! I did not look forward to using the bathroom and made sure I used the handicapped stall at work so I wouldn’t have as far to sit down and had a railing for support. But it went away quickly.

      And yes, it’s amazing what working out/lifting weights will do for back/joint pain. Stretching helps, too. It helped a lot with my knee pain.

  44. dental trouble

    I have to get three root canals and three crowns, and I’m panicking because after insurance, I’ll be responsible for $650 for each crown and I really don’t have $2K to pay for this. It’ll take me years to pay that off, and I’ve called around to the dentists in the area I can get to, and that’s the cheapest I’ve found.

    I’m also annoyed that I don’t eat a lot of sugar or chew gum or drink alcohol or coffee, and I brush, floss, and rinse with mouthwash, but my teeth always need so much work. My younger brother never brushes his teeth and eats so much junk and he’s never had a single cavity.

    I’ve had a good cry about the money this is going to cost me and even going on a payment plan is going to stress me out because I’m going to have to re-budget everything to just meet these bills. This isn’t even counting the 5 fillings I need to get as well. And I’ve gotten a second and third opinion, so I know this isn’t just a dentist trying to rip me off.

    1. Oh what, oh what, oh what

      I wish I had something that would help. My dentist told me my daughter would be a “dental patient” when she was about 7 years old. And he’s right. There is just something about her genetics. At 27 fortunately she hasn’t had to do quite as much as you at one time but has had quite a bit done and needs more.

      1. dental trouble

        My parents were told something similar, and we never had dental insurance so they had to pay for everything our of pocket. I guess I’m lucky that I have decent dental insurance at the end of the day. I’m only 30 and have had so much dental work done because I apparently lost the genetic lottery when it came to teeth.

        1. dear liza dear liza

          I’m so sorry. Same thing with me: I grew up with very few visits to the dentist, and by the time I was out of college with dental insurance, I had a backlog of work that had to be done. Like you, I was told I had inherited bad dental genetics- in my case, mostly crowding.

          I spent about 2 years getting all of the cavities filled and root canals completed. I did have a dental school in my city and was able to get some work there- might that be an option? Sometimes you can delay getting crowns, too.

          I could’ve bought a pretty nice car for all the work I’ve had done in the past 15 years. What makes it bearable for me is that my teeth no longer hurt. That horrible, terrible, toothache pain- it was worth every penny to stop it.

          1. dental trouble

            I actually was a frequent visitor to the dentist when I was young and my parents did all the recommended treatments when I was a kid and teenager in the hopes that it would prevent future issues, but no luck.

            I meant to ask my dentist about how long I could delay getting crowns, but I was panicking so much when she told me everything I needed to get done and gave me the estimate that it completely slipped my mind.

            But I totally feel you on the money. When I think of all the money I’ve spent on dental and other medical bills, I could have easily paid off some of my loans by now.

    2. Sophie Winston

      Yup, sadly some of us just lost the genetic lottery on teeth.

      And crowns really should not be considered cosmetic – having actual teeth is critical to eating well and so overall health.

      1. dental trouble

        I just lost the genetic lottery on everything. Between my teeth, eyes, allergies, and other health issues, I don’t think I’ve ever had a year free of medical bills I can’t pay off in full. Insurance helps a lot, but after rent and bills, most of my paycheck goes to medical bills and I’m finally feeling like I’m never going to escape the medical bill whirlpool.

    3. Mirilla

      That is a lot of money and would certainly put me behind also. I know someone who had about the same amount of work done and he did the payment plan. Dental insurance really sucks today. I had 5 cavities a couple years ago too. That wasn’t a fun year at the dentist. My dentist told me I’ll need major work done on my back teeth in the future if I don’t get my reflux under control as it eats away the enamel. I have no idea how I would come up with it either. (hug)

      1. dental trouble

        I guess I can be thankful the payment plan doesn’t have interest, but it still gives me a sick feeling in my stomach to know I won’t be able to pay this off for years, and that I’ll probably have other medical issues come up that are going to push my further behind.

        I have a little savings put away, but if I use that to pay off a portion of the dental bills, I’ll have nothing if another emergency occurs and that worries me.

    4. Pennalynn Lott

      My dental insurance plan will pay for only $1000 worth of dental services per year. So, needing a couple of different things recently, I had half done in one benefit year and half done the next (but the dental appointments were within a few days of each other). Is that a possibility for you, to maybe knock down the total amount you’re liable for?

      1. dental trouble

        I’m planning on doing half in December and half in January, but the total out of pocket cost will still be the same for the crowns. My insurance only covers 50% for the crowns and I’m responsible for the other 50%, so I’m out the $2K either way.

      2. Mazzy

        I’m dealing with this limit now. I’ve been putting off an implant job for year now but am finally getting it done in a few weeks because the tooth next to it is starting to rot. PITA, the expense. I won’t be back in the same financial shape until the end of Feb. Just to get a tooth done. Not to mention everything else that can go wrong between now and then.

    5. Natalie

      Ugh, that really sucks. I have terrible teeth too – I’ve probably spent the equivalent of one new car on my teeth in the past 14 years since I’ve been responsible for the bills. Sigh.

      One random suggestion for teeth help is chewing sugar free gum that has xylitol in it. My teeth started to turn around when I used nicotine gum (which has xylitol) to quit smoking, and even though the quit didn’t last the gum chewing did. Chewing gum pulls gunk off your teeth and stimulates saliva, which helps protect enamel. Some clinical research has also shown that xylitol helps enamel rebuild. It couldn’t hurt, at least.

    6. fposte

      Have you ever talked to a dentist about a fluoride rinse or toothpaste? I’m on medications that dry my mouth enough to make me really vulnerable, so I was on a fluoride rinse for years (switched to a high-fluoride leave-on dental specialty toothpaste after awhile). That helped some and was definitely cheaper than crowns.

    7. dental trouble

      Actually just found out there’s no interest-free payment plan, so I either need to pay everything in full or my option for a payment plan is 15% interest. In my panic, I misinterpreted what my dentist said.

      So I’m going to go cry into my pillow tonight because I don’t know how I’m ever going to get this money. I’m already living as cheaply as I can.

      1. mousemom

        Is your dentist open to any type of bartering? I have a friend who needed dental work done and was able to trade cleaning services for it – she got her fillings and the dentist got his office cleaned weekly for something like 6 months.

        Do you belong (or qualify to belong) to a credit union? Loans through credit unions can easily be less than 15% interest.

        Do you have friends you can brainstorm with? Sometimes just having another brain or two to bounce ideas off can help a little.

        I hope you can find a reasonable solution – dental problems are some of the worst.

      2. Cristina in England

        What about an online peer lending or micro loan? What’s available to me here will be different, but I know these services exist in the US too. We got one for £2000 to get our windows done, paid that off, and then got one to buy a car instead of using bank or dealer financing, and the interest was a tenth of what we would have paid using conventional financing.

      3. TootsNYC

        I had a bunch to have done, and I was able to put a few of the crowns off for 6 months or so; the cavities definitely got a little bigger, but not a ton. And I was going to end up w/ a crown anyway, so what was a bigger cavity?
        Instead, I did the cavities that weren’t yet in “need a crown” territory.

        You might ask your dentist if she recommends any plan like that, depending on what you’re facing.

    8. Sunflower

      Ugh I feel ya on all of this. I’ve had dental problems growing up and I don’t think there’s a single tooth in my mouth that hasn’t been worked on. Iv’e had caps, I have a bridge- I can probably fill a cavity on my own. I was so jealous of my friends with perfect teeth.

      FWIW I didn’t see diet soda in your list of things you don’t drink. I used to drink a ton of it and thought since it was sugar free, it wasn’t killing my teeth. I was COMPLETELY wrong and once I cut it from 4 cans a day to 5/week, my dental issues dramatically decreased.

      Right now is open enrollment- is there anyway you can get yourself into a better dental insurance plan? I’ve seen people recommend going to dental school to get work done so that could be a good alternative?

      1. dental trouble

        No, I don’t drink diet soda. The sweetener they used to use – aspartame – triggered migraines for me. I was never a big soda or juice drinker because they were too sweet for me to stomach. I mostly stick to plain water and occasionally some black coffee or seltzer if I feel a migraine or upset stomach coming on, but that’s rare.

        My enrollment just ended last week and I’m already with the best plan through work. The dental school is a goof alternative, though from looking at what’s around me, it’s not saving too much, but I guess anything lower is better than nothing at this point.

        1. TootsNYC

          I looked into dental school when I found out what I needed to have done (despite going to my old dentist every 6 months).

          I found out that the cost there would be the same as my co-pay with my relatively decent dental insurance.

    9. Lora

      I have a cousin whose children have all kinds of dental problems, and they eat pretty healthy. So don’t beat yourself up over not doing the right thing with your teeth. Sometimes it has nothing to do with your habits or heredity. Sometimes we’re unlucky. I know this is litttle comfort for your wallet, but it could be worse, right? It’s expensive, but there’s a solution. Be positive that you have the means to pay it off eventually and after all that’s said and done, it’ll be done and checked off your list.

    10. LisaLee

      Have you seen if there’s a community organization that can help you out with some of the cost? Where I live we have a couple of organizations that are set up to assist with one-time financial needs like this. I live near a university, and the women’s center there offers no-cost “emergency grants” to help people pay with unexpected costs. You don’t have to be a woman or a student of the university to apply for one, there is no maximum income, it’s very easy, and they just give you a check. I believe the maximum grant is $500 where I am but it’s still something. You can google “community grant + your area” or call local community orgs and schools. Searching “emergency medical grant” or “medical cost help” might also bring up someone who can help you. If you are already a student, your school might have funds to help students with unexpected costs like this if you ask around.

      You can also check to see if there’s a dental school or low-income dental care clinic in your area. A lot of the time these places won’t show up if you’re just searching for dentists. If you qualify, there are low-income dental clinics all around and they’ll perform almost any procedure (with the caveat that usually they’re only open a couple days a week). It might even be worth it for you to drive a longer ways away if you can significantly reduce the cost.

  45. Liane

    No Best & Worst thread yet. Oh well…
    Here are mine.

    Best: Backstory–Thanksgiving I usually don’t do well, &/or I have times earlier in the month I don’t do well, since my dad died just before, when my kids were a toddler & newborn. After we moved up here, that changed, in large part due to Mom-in-Law’s holiday, but after she passed away a few years ago, the same pattern. But this Thanksgiving was very pleasant and I was happy.
    I made the cornbread for our church’s potluck Thanksgiving lunch (a couple of generous members provide the turkey & pork) and put our roast beef for supper in the slow cooker.
    Later in the Dear Family Friend got on Skype with me to playtest some character stats I had created for our favorite role playing game. They worked pretty well for the most part. Good to see I am getting better at designing.
    Then the church lunch which was lovely even though Daughter was still at work and a lot of people–like Husband–who had RSVP’d couldn’t make it because of illness, so was just me & Son. (But we brought the others leftovers.) That night we had our “roast Beast” as Husband likes to call it, plus a pecan pie Daughter had made from scratch.

    Worst: All 4 of us are sick this week, as I mentioned in the Christmas tree thread. (Thankfully not Bear the dog too.)
    Daughter had got a nasty cold the previous weekend, I had it by Monday, & Son–who *hardly ever* gets sick–has it too. Son & I made it to church decorating but we had to leave as we were feeling sick again–and I had a migraine by the time we got home. (It’s better or I wouldn’t be on here now.)
    Husband has also been feeling very ill off & on for longer. Tuesday or Wednesday, we hear there is a recall of Sabra hummus for Listeria. He loves hummus and has it a lot for snacks & lunches, including that brand. At least some of his symptoms match. So he calls the VA clinic and they tell him to go to their ER. The VA ER doctor tells him that since Listeria infection is very hard to test for & is easily treated with antibiotics, he was just going to start him on them. He is starting to feel better now.

    1. Snazzy Hat

      Yay cornbread! Apple butter too?

      Best: Thanksgiving was awesome. My family members who get together for Thanksgiving are all politically liberal & one’s a poli-sci professor, so we got to talk politics without throwing anything!

      Worst: I got so emotional today. My s.o. & I went to dinner at a cozy coffee shop with live music; two women with acoustic stringed instruments (guitar, banjo, violin) & hand drums. When we ordered food, I was a little confused about the sandwich I wanted because it had a cheese that I wasn’t sure I’d like, as I thought pepper jack was spicy hot pepper and not actually black pepper. Awkwardness followed because there were people in line behind us. Next, when the cashier got our glass-bottled sodas, the one for my s.o. slipped and fell to the floor, causing it to foam up and blow the cap off. She didn’t charge me for it, but she also didn’t replace it and therefore s.o. didn’t get a beverage. When we sat down I asked if s.o. wanted me to ask for a replacement, he replied in such a way that indicated I was making things worse by continuing to talk about it. Then the violinist was playing some sad notes, so I just burst into tears but couldn’t fully cry. There I was, tears streaming down my face which had turned red because my mouth was clamped shut and I think I was holding my breath & shaking.

      Preview for next week: I’ve decided that being super-emotional has to do with my absence of medication for the past month, and I’ll have to convince my doctor I ought to be on that medication again but a lower dose than before. (From early 2014 to November 2015 I was on Xmg, then got an increase to 2Xmg. I’ve been at zero mg for the past month due to a combination of reasons, and want to go back to Xmg.)

    2. Maxwell Edison

      Best: Thanksgiving was fun. A gathering of friends, no one brought up politics, and we all had a great time.

      Worst: The spouse spent money on things he did not really need without telling me. Right when we’ve got Christmas and dental/orthodontic bills piling up along with my usual slowdown in freelance work.

  46. FDCA In Canada

    I’ve been lowkey listening to Christmas music for a month now because our choir is performing in a concert in a couple of weeks, but we had a small flash mob performance today at a Christmas market, and now I feel like we are truly able to get into the Christmas thing at home!

    Christmas music: I try not to listen to too much of it at home, because my tastes are extremely limited (I like only traditional religious music, sad Christmas songs, and novelty songs, basically, which makes me horrible to listen to Christmas music with), but now I don’t feel like a giant dork playing it in the car! Have you guys broken out the Christmas albums yet?

    1. nep

      I live with a relative who starts listening to Christmas music at Thanksgiving. I’m not too keen on it myself — generally I’m able to tune it out.

    2. self employed

      “I like only traditional religious music, sad Christmas songs, and novelty songs, basically, which makes me horrible to listen to Christmas music with”

      –I’m dying at this! So great :)

    3. Pennalynn Lott

      I don’t really get into xmas, but I can listen to The Waitresses’ “Christmas Wrapping” song any day of the year. It’s a happy song, but it always makes me cry. :-)

    4. Colette

      One of my local stations started playing Christmas music this week. I only listen to it in the car, but I swear it’s 30% covers of Last Christmas. But I heard the Snoopy song today so all is well.

      1. Snazzy Hat

        Every time I hear Last Christmas I sing it in my head thus:
        “Last Christmas, I gave you my heart,
        Tuesday Wednesday break my heart,
        Thursday doesn’t even start, it’s
        Friday, I’m in love.”

        Suddenly the song is much more bearable.

    5. CMT

      I started listening a few weeks ago. It makes me happy, so why would I wait until some arbitrary date that people think is more acceptable? (Seriously, folks who try to police when others can listen to Christmas music or decorate drive me crazy.)

      1. Temperance

        I set 11/1 as the date for myself, but i LOVE Halloween, and it’s become a fun ritual that I mostly look forward to.

      2. Clever Name

        My husband is incensed that the store was playing Christmas music last week. I just inwardly roll my eyes when he moans about it.

    6. Temperance

      I start on November 1st, but my taste is the opposite of yours. I do Christmas albums, nothing religious on purpose, and soooooo much of N’Sync’s holiday album.

        1. Snazzy Hat

          Backstreet Boys, too. I’ve never heard the album, but my s.o. swears it’s actually good because they have good voices and the songs are all original.

        2. Temperance

          OH HELL YES THEY DO AND IT’S WONDERFUL.

          Are you telling me you’ve never heard “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays”???????????????????????

        3. Mona

          Yes they do. Find the video for Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays on YouTube. Sooooo late ’90s!

          I feel old. Haha.

    7. Sprechen Sie Talk?

      I just found a station online last night that plays the classic standards without a lot of the new style wailing types or overtly religious tunes. It was on tunein.com – 181 FM from some place in VA.

      Here in the UK you get real tired of their standards, and I miss the traditional ones I grew up with in the US that mean something to me, more than another round of Slade’s Merry Christmas Everyone. I put the online radio on last night while I was cooking and it definitely made me cheery!

      I was at a shop on Nov 5 and noticed they were playing subtle xmas music, and I asked the assistant about it and she said it wasn’t bothersome just yet because it was quiet and soothing, not the racket in other stores. Still, I can’t imagine listening to it all for almost two months!

      1. JaneB

        Starting today as it’s the first Sunday in Advent – yay! I let myself keep listening until twelfth night, even if the rest of the world starts earlier and stops in the 26th of Dec – nothing wrong with keeping more of a church calendar, right?

      2. Hattie McDoogal

        Ha! I went out for lunch with my dad and brother this afternoon and our server was a friend of my brother’s so my dad asked him, “Be honest: how do you feel about the Christmas music?” and he replied that actually he loves it, and he was the one who put the Xmas station on, and if it were up to him he’d listen to Xmas music all year round. My brother and I scowled and immediately started complaining about how our mom used to try and “sneak” it into the music rotation earlier and earlier each year and how much we hated it.

  47. a hundred million suns

    Snow Patrol are one of my favourite bands.
    It’s been a while since I’ve been in a relationship and I listen to Snow Patrol and think “I want that in my life”.

    Hopefully next year.

    1. Stellaaaaa

      Gary’s voice gives me the swoons and “Run” is one of the best songs to come out of the early-’00s phase of rock.

  48. c'est la vie

    Katie the Fed’s thread reminded me that I want to up my “Random Acts of Kindness.” My goal is to do one a day for the rest of 2016. I would love ideas for such acts. I don’t live in a city, which eliminates things like giving my public transporation seat to someone, but do work on a campus, so I have a pretty large number of strangers available (although with obvious boundaries!). I tried Google’ing for ideas but most of the sites were either for kids (“go to bed without whining!”) or were bigger acts, like organizing a fundraiser. TIA!

    1. caledonia

      If you’re on a campus do people know you in the coffee/retail outlets? I live in a small town & a coffee shop here does a “pay it forward” type thing where you pay in advance for someone else’s drink. The other thing I have done is full up a stamp card for a free coffee and have left it somewhere/given it to a barista telling them to give it to the next person that looks like they need it/given it to a homeless person (in lieu of money).

      1. Mallory Janis Ian

        I like it when they leave a coupon right next to the item that it’s for. I love it when I’m shopping for something on my grocery list and then *Score!* there’s a $1-off coupon right next to it on the shelf.

    2. fposte

      I found a really nice list on Buzzfeed, of all places, as well as a site devoted to generating ideas at randomactsofkindness dot org. I liked the idea about leaving a sticky note with a nice message on a restroom mirror–might try that one.

      1. Elizabeth West

        That’s a good idea. I could do that. I’m broke and have no job so I can’t make donations (which has been frustrating), but I have tons of sticky notes I’m not even using.

    3. Mallory Janis Ian

      I always leave the quarter in the cart when I shop at Aldi. You have to insert a quarter to release a shopping cart, and the quarter is released when you return the cart. I like to leave my quarter there for the next person.

    4. Mallory Janis Ian

      We have a Freecycle shelf in my university building where people put things that they don’t want and other people pick up things that they do want. Anybody (faculty, staff, or students) can put something there or pick something up. I’ve occasionally set a box of granola bars or a bunch of bananas on there, and I like to think that a student is picking them up.

    5. Mallory Janis Ian

      Our building custodian did something really nice the week before Thanksgiving: every day that week, she set up a table with snacks for the students. One day she even set out cooked hot dogs with all the fixings. She said she was doing it for the students who wouldn’t be able to go home for Thanksgiving, to show them that someone cares for them.

      Then one of the associate deans sent around an email to organize the faculty and staff into contributing money to the custodian to help with the cost of her nice gesture, and a lot of people were moved to do so. It was a circle of kindness all around.

    6. Lora

      When you’re out at the local coffee shop, deli, etc., add an extra $5 to your bill and tell the cashier it’s for the person behind you. If you’re on a college campus, that kid will love you.

      If there’s a homeless person outside said shop, when you’re inside, buy them a meal and bring it out to them. If there’s someone there who’s always there, next time bring them a hat or gloves.

      Whatever you do, be careful in what situation you’re giving. My mom regularly puts money in the Salvation Army kettle this time of year, and this year she told me people are following her into the parking lot and begging her for money as she’s packing her groceries. I’m not sure what I would do in the same situation. My heart breaks that people are having to beg, but I’d also be concerned for my own safety. I personally feel more comfortable donating to the local food bank, so do what fits your comfort level.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian

        Ha. That reminds me of a group that my son started with his friends at the middle school: they called themselves “the L.E.C.” (Litter Extermination Crew), and they would go around at breaks and pick up trash and recyclables.

    7. Katie the Sensual Wristed Fed

      Here are some that I’ve done:

      – Give a random gift card to the people who clean your office. I moved to a different location and gave the team a $50 gift card to get coffee and breakfast. They were the sweetest.

      – Have a stash of $5 McDonald’s gift cards on you and give them to panhandlers or people at intersections.

      – If you have elderly neighbors, look after them. I have a 91-year old neighbor and I’ll take the snowblower over there are do her driveway and salt her walkway. Other people help with other things.

      – Send notes of appreciation. I wrote letters to the local mosque and let them know I was happy they’re in the neighborhood. I also wrote a note to an elected official I think very highly of and thanked him for his hard work.

      – If you have good service somewhere, take the time to write a note to customer service about the great employee – that’s pretty rare and makes a big difference.

      1. Katie the Sensual Wristed Fed

        Oh! I also put out a dog bowl and pitcher of water in the summer so the dogs can get a drink. A couple other people in the neighborhood started to do it too :)

  49. Mirilla

    I’m not sure who mentioned OBags on this thread but thanks. Never heard of them! I got one today and I am intrigued. I get bored with my purses easy so the concept of changing out the straps or insert is right up my alley. Plus they look really durable. These have not caught on in my area yet as I have never seen anyone with one so that’s pretty neat too. Seems like everyone around here carries Coach bags since we have an outlet nearby.

    1. DragoCucina

      That was probably me. I love how light my messenger bag is, even with a leather flap. I agree, they’re unique without being weird. So glad you like yours.

  50. The Other Dawn

    Anyone have a Sleep Number bed? If so, do you love it? Hate it? Feel lukewarm? What model do you have?

    I’ve been thinking about one off and on, especially this weekend. I posted a couple weeks ago asking about mattress toppers and other things that might help my back; however, after taking a good look at my mattress, I’m thinking it might be time for a new one. There’s a pretty significant impression on each side. It’s one of those coil-free jobs that can’t be flipped, only turned. Turning it isn’t a big help since my hips and lower back end up basically in the same spot, except on the other side of the bed. We’ve turned it several times over the years (I think we’ve had it for about 8 years, maybe 9), but the impressions are still deep.

    Another reason I’ve thought about one, other than a horrible back, is that I have major surgery coming up: excess skin removal (tummy tuck and panniculectomy). The thought of being in my current bed after surgery just makes me want to cry. If I’m tossing and turning by 3 am now, after being somewhat active during the day and working out, it’s going to be much worse when I’m in it for extended periods being much more sedentary. Also, I love the idea of the adjustable feature, which will make sleeping much better. Otherwise, I’d have to pile up a bunch of pillows or sleep in the recliner, because I won’t be allowed to lay flat for some time.

    1. .

      I had one for almost 8 years. I liked it, especially since the other half prefers a much softer bed than I. As it comes in boxes, it’s easy to get into apartments or up twisting staircases. You don’t need a super quiet pump unless you plan to adjust the mattress all day every day.

      However, the initial setup is kind of tricky and the beds aren’t really designed to be taken apart and reassembled as much as I had to (natural disasters and related cross country moves). I had a part of the foundation frame break (although the mattress and pump were fine) and, due to a reconfiguration at Select Comfort, I was unable to get replacement pieces without buying a whole new foundation for a ton of money.

      1. The Other Dawn

        I checked out their website and one of the models. iLE, is 50% off right now. I’m dying to go to the store and check one out, but I know that I’ll end up buying one. I want one, but I really don’t want to put it on credit (trying to pay down some debt). But with that price, that’s what I’d have to do anyway.

    2. rubyrose

      I’ve had one for almost two years and am really glad I got it.
      My lower back needs different support at different times and this bed has allowed me to have it. I started doing doing asanas (think yoga stretches) a couple of months ago. I know I should do those on the floor, but getting up from the floor is very hard for me. So I just pump the bed up to 100, do my stretches and meditation, and take it back down to 70 at night.
      I went with the first option from the bottom. It has met my needs. I tried the memory foam option and found I could not move!
      I also got the SleepIQ option. This is supposed to tell you how well you slept during the night. I’m glad I got it but there are problems with it. I found over time I could not totally trust the number it was calculating. When I call Sleep Number about it, they admitted that they were having problems with it. They just weren’t telling anybody about it, unless they called in. They had no ETA. That, along with the general attitude of the customer service phone staff, makes me rank their after purchase support as average.

  51. nep

    Did a relatively simple kettlebell complex yesterday that beat my a$$. Love my kettlebells.
    As soon as I come up with the funds, I’d like to do a kettlebell certification course. Has anyone here done that?
    On a related note, anyone follow movnat?

    1. Gala apple

      I follow Katy Bowman! I check out some of the movnat stuff but that’s beyond me now. Are you into it?

    1. bon-bons for all!

      Fine. Try to find as many reviews as you can since you won’t see it in person. Also, it’s a real hodgepodge so not very useful for specific needs. But I’ve bought from them and had no trouble with payment, delivery, or bait-and-switch tactics.

    2. acmx

      I really like Overstock. They have great customer service, too.

      I’ve bought furniture from them, exercise equipment (for my dad) and other things.

    3. Nina

      Not the best, but the product was shoddy and the reviews said so. My mother ordered some chairs and trying to screw in the legs was a nightmare. The holes weren’t measured properly, and you needed more than a power drill to really make it work. To this day, the chairs are still rickety.

      But again, the reviews stressed how difficult it was to build the chairs, so I don’t think I can blame Overstock for that.

    4. fposte

      I’ve had good luck. However, the selection always seems all over the place so I only shop there for lower-stakes stuff.

    5. periwinkle

      I always check out product reviews and price elsewhere on the web to sniff out if the product is good and the price is actually a good deal. I don’t buy regularly from Overstock but have been buying now and then for quite a few years. As a seller they’re perfectly reliable. Finding what I’m actually in need of at the time, well, that’s more of a challenge! I’ve had the best luck with bedding, and have in fact bought some excellent sheet sets from them over the years.

    6. Tomato Frog

      I’ve gotten a desk and some collapsible bookcases I really love from there. I’ve just gone by the reviews and not been disappointed.

    7. Garland Not Andrews

      I only tried once and did not buy anything. They won’t ship to a PO Box and I can’t do deliveries at my house.

  52. Sled dog mama

    Ugh! For the love of all that is Holy, someone make my mother in law shut up!
    I love her but if she’d shut up for 30 seconds she wouldn’t have to ask all these stupid questions.

    1. Mallory Janis Ian

      Ha. My MIL’s idea of being a good houseguest is to keep up a constant stream of pleasant chatter. That’s fine for awhile, but she has a much longer stamina for it than I do; at some points in the early mornings and in the evenings, I just want to think my own thoughts without having to volley banter back and forth.

    2. Sybil Fawlty

      Oh I hear you! When my mother-in-law runs out of meaningless chatter, she starts reading out loud anything she sees, especially on the TV. Thankfully we don’t live near each other!

    3. Mona

      Sounds like someone has a problem with silence. :)

      Be slower in your responses and when you do respond, come up with some comical response that is impossible to reply to. Or at least shows you’re entirely disinterested. The intention is to show you’re not willing to be drawn into the conversation. Example:

      She says: Cousin Lewis likes to collect Chocolate Teapots. Isn’t that a strange hobby? What’s wrong with him?
      You say: Doesn’t seem that strange to me… ::walks away to talk to someone else or concentrate on something else, like a book or newspaper::

      I realize this might not work in every instance but I had to do this *constantly* at Thanksgiving dinner. I love my extended family but most of them have a verbal diarrhea problem in social situations due to anxiety. You can tell their hearts are in the right place, but the conversations when we get together once a year are groaningly awkward.

    4. lemonjelly

      Sympathy here too!! If you’re ever looking for more commiseration, /r/JustNoMIL is a wonderfully funny and supportive community.

  53. Colette

    I’m looking for book recommendations for three kids – an almost-3 year old, a 5 year old, and an almost 7 year old. (The 7 year old likes video games, the 5 year old is one of those girls who knows just what everyone should be doing.)

    Suggestions?

    1. Gene

      No idea for the youngest.

      For the know-it-all 5 year old, Ursula Vernon’s Hamster Princess series. Once her reading advances, Terry Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching series. Starts with Wee Free Men.

      For the oldest, Ursula Vernon’s Dragonbreath series

      1. Sled dog mama

        My daughter is almost 3 as well, our neighbor is a children’s librarian and is constantly bringing us books. Some recent hits have been “Happy Birthday Moon,” “I love you, Stinky Face,” “Tails,” “Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom,” and “peek-a-moo.”

        1. Colette

          Thanks! I find that age exceptionally hard to buy for. I usually go for Robert Munsch, but I’ve done that often enough that I don’t remember what I’ve bought.

      2. admin of sys

        Ursula is the best! I’ve given all my friend’s kids her stuff, when they hit the appropriate ages.

    2. DragoCucina

      For the 5 year old: Has she read the Lilly books by Kevin Henkes? Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse is the most famous.

      One of my favorite series is the Poppy books by Avi. A brave girl mouse saves her entire family.

      1. Bibliovore

        3- go for great read aloud- Tails, chicka chicka boom boom.
        5- Some good classics- Whistle for Willie, a Snowy Day. for a new book look for Antoinette Portis Frints, or a series of easy readers like Henry and Mudge
        7- minecraft series, Stink, anything by Jenny and Matt Holm, Princess in Black, Ivy and Bean

    3. OhBehave

      Junie B Jones books were a hit in our house for the older girls. If you get them on CD, they are even better. The reader is the perfect voice for Junie.

    4. FutureLibrarianNoMore

      Oh hey, I am a librarian, maybe I can help.

      For the almost-3 year old/5 year old:
      -The Pinkalicious books are super popular and really cute (I think she’s done Purplicious, Goldilicious, etc.)
      -The Day the Crayons Quit
      -No, David!
      -A Sick Day for Amos McGee
      -The Very Hungry Caterpillar
      -Anything by Mo Willems (Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!)

      For the seven year old:
      -Magic Treehouse are perpetually popular
      -Minecraft books
      -Diary of Wimpy Kid might be a little old (depending on reading level), but worth a shot
      -The “Who Was” series (also known as the “big head books” by a lot of kids)

      Hope these help!

      1. Ann Furthermore

        OMG, my daughter still loves No, David and she’s 7. The author, David Shannon, is a close friend of my sister’s. They went to design school together in LA in the 80s. I met him once. Really nice guy.

    5. Blue_eyes

      Lulu and the Dinosaur (and the rest of the books about Lulu by the same author). Lulu is a girl who does only and exactly what she pleases (but eventually learns some lessons and becomes less insufferable). The 7-year-old might be able to read it depending on reading level, but both the 7 and 5-year-olds would enjoy hearing it as a read aloud.

      I love “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” by Judith Viorst. That one and her other books are all great for reading to young kids.

      The Llama Llama books by Anna Dewdney are really nice too (sadly, the author passed away recently).

    6. TootsNYC

      Is the 7yo a girl? If so, check out the Pony Pals series by Jeanne Betancourt.

      Specifically, go to Amazon and search on “I Want a Pony (Pony Pals #1)”

      The first review is a pretty good reflection of what I think about these books.
      I don’t think boys would like these books that much; there aren’t any boy characters except rowdy troublemakers.

    7. TootsNYC

      Dav Pilkey has great irreverent books for kids.

      Especially do I love the Captain Underpants series–and 2nd grade is the bottom edge of that reading group.

      It’s very irreverent–very. Fart jokes, underpants jokes, etc.

      But actually very clever and smart.

      I think my 2nd to 4th grader giggled the hardest at the horrible spelling in some sections.

  54. Melody Pond

    I posted a couple weeks ago (I think) about how I had to take a foster cat back to the shelter, and how it was really heartbreaking and I felt so guilty.

    Well, Mr. Pond’s cat has been SUPER NEEDY since foster cat went back to the shelter, and plus I’m just lonely for having another cat around. I went to the shelter today and met a 14 year old cat named Ruby who I absolutely loved – but I promised Mr. Pond that I wouldn’t take the next cat home on the same day I met her, and that I’d take some time to think about it.

    I also have plans to meet a couple of cats in foster homes tomorrow, mid-day… but unless one of those foster cats knocks my socks off, I kind of want to go back to the shelter afterwards to take Ruby home. But Mr. Pond wants me to wait a whole week, like I did with my previous cat who died – but I didn’t need the whole week to know that I wanted her, I knew that I wanted her after one day. I needed the whole week to make sure I was properly on his apartment lease at the time and get the pet deposit paid. None of those things are issues here, since we are now in a condo he owns, and it doesn’t have any such pet deposits.

    I’m a little nervous that she might be gone if I wait a whole week and go back next Saturday. But… maybe if that happens, it wasn’t really meant to be in the first place? What do you guys think? In the camp of potentially going back tomorrow afternoon, or in the camp of waiting till next Saturday? There’s not a lot of in between, as the shelter is too far away and closes too early for me to get there after work during the week.

    1. Pennalynn Lott

      We have six cats (now). They are all wonderful, but one is super special. She Christy is outgoing, she loves strangers, she welcomes all new kitties (which, at this point, is everyone but her), and she actively worked at making getting along with the then-in-residence kitties when we adopted her.

      We found her when we toured an organic, sustainable farm [to see where the meat and dairy we buy at the local farmers’ market was coming from] and there was this little black kitten who followed us *everywhere*. And when we stopped, say, next to the massive goat pen to talk to the farmer, the little kitten flopped between my shoes and played with my laces. We walked for over 5 miles that day (according to my pedometer) and yet that little kitty stayed with us the whole time.

      The kitten was one of six, so the farmers asked if we wanted to take her home. I told them I’d need to think about it and would call them. The farm is a couple hours from my house, so I told them if it was a “Yes”, then I’d probably come back the following weekend.

      I called as soon as I got home, and then drove back the next morning.

      Sometimes when you know, you just know; and it’s worth acting on. Listen to your gut. There’s no need to follow an arbitrary timeline that doesn’t apply to your current situation, just for the sake of “following a timeline”.

      And if you feel a connection with a 14-year old kitty, then go get her and give her a wonderful home! Older kitties are so hard to find homes for. Just go slow with the introductions. My cats have always welcomed a new kitten (with a few hisses here and there), but we’ve had some *very* serious problems when trying to introduce adult cats. Make sure they’ve got their own spaces, with a door between them, while Ruby gets settled in and Mr. Pond’s Cat gets used to her.

      1. Melody Pond

        I actually prefer older cats – the last cat I adopted was almost 17 at the time.

        And yes, as a hardcore Jackson Galaxy enthusiast, I do my absolute best to introduce kitties responsibly.

        1. Pennalynn Lott

          I, too, prefer older cats [but primarily because kittens wear me out!]. We just have such a hard time with integrating them that we’ve started adopting “special needs” kittens. So I now have five cats with varying problems, from chronic health conditions to missing limbs.

    2. Sled dog mama

      Could you call and say you want her but can’t get back until Saturday due to your work hours?

      1. Melody Pond

        I’m pretty certain our shelter doesn’t do this – they couldn’t “hold” my last cat, Louise, when I knew I wanted to adopt her, even with putting down an adoption fee.

    3. Not So NewReader

      Can you call the shelter, let them know you are coming for the cat and put a deposit on it?
      Then tell them not to mention it to your husband who needs to see you waiting a week.

      Ideally, just tell hubby that this is it, you have decided and you are calling the shelter to see if they will hold it for you.

      My husband picked out a cat 25 miles from our home. We got within three miles of home and he decided he wanted that cat. Well he had to eat his lunch and we had another 25 mile ride, so we called. They agreed to hold it. They told other customers that we were likely to show, so they were not going to sell it to someone else.

    4. fposte

      I think the critter who’s the question mark here is Mr. Pond. Can he be a little more forthcoming on what he thinks would go wrong if you didn’t wait a week, or whether he’d be upset if you didn’t? Because what he wants matters in this equation too.

      I think if Ruby goes home with some other family happy to have her, then that’s what was meant to be and you’ll find somebody else, and if you get her a week later, you’ll still be plenty happy to have her then. So I don’t think a week’s wait would be a tragedy–you just need to get a little more info from the biped on how necessary it is to wait for a quadruped.

      1. Melody Pond

        I agree that if she goes home with some other family, that that’s what was meant to be… it’s just so hard to wait!

        Mr. Pond himself I think prefers to take more time with decisions, whereas I’m more likely to jump into them, and then wrestle with it/worry afterwards. Once the decision is made, he typically stops worrying.

        But his reasons for wanting me to sit on it are valid, and I already know them. With the foster cat, I DID rush into it too quickly (brought foster cat home the same day I met him), and then it turned out to be a really bad fit, and that was really hard to deal with, taking him back to the shelter later.

        But I do think Ruby is a much better fit – she’s older than the foster cat was, which is more my style (she has CKD, which I’m well familiar with and very well set up to handle by now), and she’s very calm and quiet, whereas the foster cat was very chatty and more high energy (which was only really a problem at 4 AM, when he was cutting my sleep short by two hours each night).

    5. Cam

      Honestly, older cats are hard to place usually, so I’d say it’s unlikely that she will be adopted by someone else before Sat. Unless your area/shelter has a cat shortage. So I’d wait until Saturday, but I like to mull over decisions more.

  55. Regular going anon

    I haven’t told anyone outside of my immediate family but for the last 6 months I have felt like I am in a movie. My uncle died and left his house to my sister and me. I is in a good part of the city we live in and is life changing. A lot of work needs to be done but there is a little bit of money that we can spend.
    Part of me is still in disbelief and another part feels guilty because this is a totally unexpected windfall.

    1. Cheryl Blossom

      Oh my gosh, that is an amazing thing that your uncle did for you. Try not to feel guilty (if that’s possible). When you are able one day, maybe pay it forward somehow?

      1. Regular going anon

        It’s ridiculous that I feel guilty. He didn’t have children and my sister and I looked out for him, invited him for Christmas and occasions. We have plans to share our good fortune to help others.

        1. Mona

          Sounds like your kindness didn’t go unnoticed. What a happy story and proof in the adage “treat others like you would like to be treated.”

          Don’t feel guilty. You are a good person and you were rewarded. Pay it forward by continuing to be kind :) I’m sure your uncle would be happy that you continued your kindness to others in the way you afforded him the same.

        2. TootsNYC

          Please don’t feel you are required to share your good fortune to help others. That expectation by other people is a form of coveting.
          Don’t give out of some level of guilt.

          It’s not about rewarding you for being a good person, or kind to your uncle.

          It’s about your uncle’s assets, and HIS wishes, and what HE wanted to do with them.
          I bet your uncle was so glad to have been able to leave this life-changing thing for you. It must have made him happy to have done this. You are making him happy when you enjoy this, and marvel at it, and relax into it.

    2. fposte

      Aw, just think how happy your uncle would be to know that this is changing your life. That’s great that you can make his house so meaningful.

      1. Regular going anon

        I think he knew it would be life changing. My sister and I are hard working decent people who have never been able to get ahead. We live in a high COL city and to not pay rent will be awesome. Yes I realize there are other expenses but we will be better off. As I mentioned above, he didn’t have kids so would be happy that we are going to live in the house.

        1. Not So NewReader

          You all won, the two of you won and he won.

          Instead of “feeling guilty”, I’d suggest the expressions, “feeling humbled” or “feeling blessed”.

          I have been watching with my elders who have let go of their houses while they are still here on earth. Their big hope is to find someone who will take care of the place. Sadly, one relative watched her old place get trashed by the new owner. Then the couple split up and the house got totally ignored, which was even worse in her mind. It was so sad to watch her grieve her house like that. I never did learn what happened with the next owner.
          My father’s house was a happier story. A carpenter and wife bought it. It was a new build that needed to be finished and that is what he did. The wife was able to tell me that they know my father’s spirit is still with the land and my father is happy with their work. You know, if I had to let go of a piece of property I could not get a better outcome than this one.

          There are intangibles at play here. Your uncle probably wanted someone who was actually going to care for his house. I am thinking that he wanted someone who would appreciate/respect the gift. He found the two of you. You guys ALSO gave him a gift, you gave him peace of mind/comfort about his decision on his house. This is huge, don’t skate by this point.

          The circle of life is such that some day it will be our turn, we will pass the ownership of our homes onto someone else. Hopefully who ever gets our homes will care as much as we do.

    3. Mirilla

      Oh my goodness don’t feel guilty! How wonderful for you and how kind of your uncle. I’m so happy for you and I’m sure your uncle is grateful that he gave the house to loved ones who appreciate it.

    4. EmmaLou

      Hurray for you! I am sitting here just beaming for you! What a happy wonderful gift! How pleased your uncle must have been to be able to do this for you! The guilt is stupid! Bop it on the head and tell it to sit in the corner and then discuss with your sister what colour to paint the bathroom!

  56. Erin

    I’m expecting my first baby in seven weeks and I’ve made the decision not to breastfeed. I’m having trouble with a solid go-to response when people express shock and shame at my decision.

    The truth is that there are several reasons – I’m incredibly uncomfortable with the idea of anyone sucking anything out of my breasts, I’m also very uncomfortable with the notion of pumping, I know myself and my body and know that it will stress me out beyond belief during what will be an already stressful time, I don’t want to be attached to the baby, I don’t want to have to deal with pumping at work, I myself and many people I know were bottle-fed without experiencing any of the health risks of not breastfeeding, there are also health risks with c-sections which are very common but no one seems concerned about that, etc. etc. It’s not a decision I made lightly. I did a lot of reading, a lot of thinking, and a lot of talking with the husband about it.

    The best go-to response I can come up with is, “I’ve done my research and I know it’s not for me” but I feel like that doesn’t shut down the conversation quickly enough. They could still say, “Yeah but…” What can I say to express that this is a serious, personal decision I’ve made that is not up for discussion while you know, not being rude? :)

    1. fposte

      Could you cut the conversation off before it gets there? Maybe the answer to “Are you breastfeeding?” (which isn’t a question you should ask anyone unless you’re her doctor) is “We’re keeping family stuff in the family”–or “Why, are you hungry?”

    2. OhBehave

      Congratulations!

      I made the decision not to breast feed in the hospital after my daughter’s birth. She was so tiny and with every shift change I was getting different advice. She just would not latch on. After my son was born I didn’t even consider it. My hubs was fine either way. There are so many fanatical people who will guilt you into thinking you’ve failed your child by not breastfeeding her. Do not let them get to you.

      I don’t know why people think it’s their business to ask you such personal questions (family is different). Your short answer above is inviting rebuttal. “Thanks for asking, but we’ve chosen to use formula. What kind of diapers did you use with your baby?” A short and sweet answer with distraction at the end. You may have to put this phrase on repeat, but even the densest of people will get it.

      Enjoy your new little one. I’m sure we all would love to hear about his/her arrival!

    3. Stellaaaaa

      I wouldn’t even answer the question about how you’re going to feed your baby. Just ask them why they’re spending so much time thinking about your boobs.

    4. Temperance

      “Why do you ask?”

      You don’t owe anyone an explanation of what you do or do not do with your breasts. Point, blank, period.

      1. Katie the Sensual Wristed Fed

        Unfortunately, they’ll probably tell you exactly why they ask and give you a big lecture.

        1. TootsNYC

          And then you can say, “Yes, I’ve heard all that information. Thanks for sharing it again. Anyway, we’re looking forward to the baby getting here.”

    5. Sandy

      We bottlefed our daughter for many reasons that I won’t get into here.

      I think your script is basically a good one. If it seems rude to you, remember that they are the rude ones by pushing the issue in the first place, more so after you’ve signalled it’s not up for debate.

    6. mousemom

      If someone pushes it when you’ve already given them an answer, consider giving them the wide-eyed hairy eyeball and an incredulous, “Beg pardon?” in your frostiest tones. It may feel rude, but sometimes it takes rudeness to shut rudeness down.

      I wanted to breastfeed, but both of my kids were preemies, so it didn’t work. It was very satisfying to send the awkwardness back to the people who started it when they asked about my not breastfeeding – but then, I’m a terrible person and didn’t much care to pussyfoot around their tender feelings.

    7. Ann Furthermore

      I tried to breastfeed my daughter, and it just wasn’t happening. I tried everything. The pediatrician suggested fenugreek, which is supposed to stimulate mill production, but no luck. He also suggested some drug, but when I found out one of the potential side effects was crippling, bone crushing depression, I gave up and went to formula. I also had trouble getting her to latch on. She did fine with formula and is now a healthy, bright, super active girl.

      The lactation consultants in the hospital will probably try to shame you into changing your mind. There’s no way around it. Stand your ground and don’t let them make you feel bad.

      Now, I’m not trying to lecture you, but you might consider breastfeeding in the very short term so your baby can get the colostrum, which is super nutrient rich and very good for him or her. But that is completely up to you. The benefit could be that you avoid the nurses giving you attitude about not breastfeeding.

      Enjoy your new baby! It’s such a wonderful time. It goes by so fast, so treasure every moment!

    8. Jenna

      I didn’t breastfeed either, and boy did I get questions about why not! I finally started saying, “It just didn’t work out,” and changed the subject. If anyone was rude enough to press further, I just said “oh, lots of reasons” and again changed the subject. All my kids were on formula and they’re all too smart for their own good. ;-)

    9. printrovert

      Congratulations! I usually discourage evading questions, so I recommend that you just be direct. “My husband and I discussed it, and we have decided to use formula.” If the person responds in defense of breast feeding and encourages you to change your mind, just reiterate. “Thanks for that! But as I said, we’ve made our decision.” Say it with a calm smile and change the subject if you see fit. I doubt anyone would be antagonistic about it or push you on the issue, but in the rare event someone does, I would flatly say “I don’t feel comfortable having this discussion. I don’t want to be rude or get into a disagreement, so maybe we should move on to another topic.”

      1. nep

        Seems to me someone would not have to explain him-/herself to that extent. No one is owed an explanation about this.
        I agree it’s not always the best approach to evade worthwhile and legitimate questions — but questions along these lines are neither.

    10. Not So NewReader

      I am not a parent, so there is that.
      However, I am shocked that people even consider that question.
      Nip it at the start up, “That’s rather personal, don’t you think?” Don’t wait for that second sentence.

      For people who are known to be strong personalities, I think you should match the level they come in on:
      “That topic is not on the table.”
      “You’re over the line on that question. I won’t be answering you.”
      “Look, I have told you politely that we will not be discussing breast feeding. I meant it.”

      I have to say I almost sputtering here, what makes people think it is okay to question a parent about breastfeeding. What is wrong with people.

    11. Observer

      Not to get into the question of nursing or not, but you wrote

      there are also health risks with c-sections which are very common but no one seems concerned about that,

      That’s actually incredibly inaccurate. If your doctor is not concerned about unnecessary c-sections, you should have a very serious conversation with him / her about this. Changing now is probably not realistic, but that’s one of the things to talk to a doctor about when deciding to choose a particular doctor.

    12. matcha123

      Honestly, as someone who doesn’t have kids, will never have kids, and was breastfed as a kid, I think that anyone who pushes or shames someone about not breastfeeding is weird as heck.

      I think that you said it yourself best with, “It’s not a decision I made lightly. I did a lot of reading, a lot of thinking, and a lot of talking with the husband about it.” That’s a generous and polite response in my book.

    13. chickabiddy

      I breastfed for a LONG time and I’ve helped other women breastfeed (in appropriate circumstances) and I’m horrified that women use this as just another way to judge other women. I would just say “My doctor and I have decided this is best. Would you like her number?” It’s sucky that you have to resort to a higher authority when it is *your* body but I have known women for whom this has worked well.

    14. TootsNYC

      Two things: You do not owe them a truthful or complete answer. To ANY question. Deflect.
      so:
      Them: “Oh, are you going to breastfeed? It’s so good for the baby.”
      You: “We’ll see what works out; thanks for the good wishes.”
      Them: “Oh, but you have to!”
      You: “Yes, you’ve said. I’m focused really on just getting the baby here and healthy.”
      >>insert subject change here; best bet: “when did your child start on solids?”

      Or, if you do answer, your follow-up after they’ve gotten upset is this one:
      “Nevertheless.”

      And then a subject change.

      There’s also, “I hate to talk about the minutia of baby care–it’s really pretty boring. Have you seen XYZ movie?”

  57. Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda

    Warning: Awkward Thanksgiving Family Dinner Story

    This vent probably should have been listed on the Thanksgiving Day free-for-all, but it has taken me this long to calm down enough to write about it. Even now I’m kind of upset and probably not communicating this very well. I knew enough not to talk about politics at the family Thanksgiving Day dinner, but cousin “Serena,” in spite of her own African-American and Native-American heritage, managed to put down “Black Lives Matter” and “Standing Rock Protest.” (Not that you have to agree with them, but you can certainly understand their point of view and why they exist.) There are a lot of jerks in the world.

    The dinner table became strangely silent. Serena (who works as a school librarian) then went off on a rant about what a pain her job had become since her school named the school library as a “Safe Space” for LGBTQ students, and then called the students lazy “snowflakes” looking to get out of going to math class because it is hard. I think that is what really bugs me.

    I’m just appalled that someone like Serena is working with students. I’m angry with myself for not saying anything, but if I did say something I think I might have lost my temper. Later that night, when I was safely back at home, I started thinking about the silence at the dinner table. On some level the other guests (who were almost all also my relatives) must have know that Serena’s comments were not appropriate.

    In particular I thought about “Uncle Arthur.” He is usually the life of the party. He’s very clever and makes all kinds of funny quips on the spur of the moment. I don’t know why I didn’t figure it out before, but all of a sudden this light bulb went off in my head! OMG! Uncle Arthur is gay! (Well, I’m like 95% sure he’s gay.) It just never occurred to me before.

    Uncle Arthur just sat there quiet when Serena went on her rant. (Well, so did everyone else.) I feel horrible for Uncle Arthur. I feel like such a horrible person for letting Serena get away with being such a jerk and not attempting to rein her in, at least a little. I don’t want to push Uncle Arthur or out him or anything. I’m very fond of him and I really like him, but obviously I haven’t been a very good ally.

    1. FutureLibrarianNoMore

      What’s particularly shameful is if she earned her MLIS, then she is MOST CERTAINLY familiar with our Code of Ethics that all Librarians should strive to uphold.

      We control the flow of information, and must constantly be as neutral as possible.

      1. Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda

        Serena does not have an MLIS. The school district she works in insists that their librarians have state-level teaching certifications and then supporting coursework in library science, but not an actual MLIS. They would not hire someone with only an MLIS and there aren’t that many people that I’m aware of who have both an MLIS and a teacher certification. Serena does have a Master’s Degree in Education and she has to know about the bullying that goes on in schools and why schools have “safe zones.”

        AARRGHH!

        1. DragoCucina

          The theory talk in schools of education sometimes gets in the way of reality. Yet, she should understand the basics of the school library as neutral zone, open, and safe to everyone.

          Okay, I’ll get on my soap box. In my state we have a lot of teachers getting masters degrees in education with media specialist certification. For a long time these programs (in my state) were devoid of the ethos of librarianship. Fortunately that’s changing. The new department chair of one program is a kick @ss librarian.

    2. Oh what, oh what, oh what

      Actually the fact that no one said anything in the moment was probably for the best. It would have just gone on that much longer. But whoever is closest to Serena should probably say something to her.

    3. Observer

      Would you have accomplished anything by losing your temper? Do you think that anything reasonable you could say would have shut her down?

      If you are correct about your uncle, then he and anyone else who is aware of this are CRYSTAL clear on how in appropriate Serena was being, not just on “some level”. Either because they were too shocked in the moment or because they believed that it would make things worse.

      Going silent and refusing to engage is actually a pretty good tactic in these situations. If she’s aware at any level, this will send a message. If she’s too self-centered and unaware to notice (or care) than all you are likely to do is to feed her perceptions by getting into an argument.

    4. Not So NewReader

      It really depends on the setting and the group present.

      Story. A college student was complaining about a family member’s injury. The family member needed extra help, people spent a lot of time talking about the injury etc. The college student said, “How much longer is THIS drama going to go on.” Someone in the group said, “For the rest of your life, you are studying to become a NURSE, so for you, it’s going to go on forever! Don’t like it then change fields.”

      While no where near as intense as your story, this is still a case of a person working in a field where they clearly do not belong. And the injured person was providing the college student with free room and board, the injured person has done this for YEARS, so that is an added wrinkle here. Serena, who is not at all serene, is clearly in the wrong line of work.

      I have been at that table where one person seems to be controlling the direction of the conversation. And how do you redirect, how do you salvage the situation?

      In your story here, the first thing to do is ease up on you. You got blindsided, this happens and that is no fault of yours. Most people do not have the presence of mind to know what to do, because they don’t expect this, especially at a holiday meal.

      Others have made suggestions here of things to do going forward. I’d like to suggest that you think about what you might want to do/say differently the next time. This could be something you quietly think about on your own or it could be something you discuss with someone else who was there.
      I know when I build a plan of how I want to handle something, it lessens the chances of it happening again. But it also helps with the flood of emotions I have about the initial occurrence, too.

      Personally, I am favoring the option of not inviting UNserene Serena back again unless she can put a lid on it. Haters will continue to hate, I am not sure that is fixable. The best to be expected is that they keep those thoughts to themselves. And part of me thinks that Serena actually hates herself the most. Again, not really fixable.

      1. neverjaunty

        Well said.

        Don’t beat yourself up for not having the perfect response in the moment. But know what you are going to do next time. There are a lot of options between silence and table-flipping. (The flat “Wow”, for example, which conveys just how appalled you are that anyone would say such a thing, followed by a very abrupt subject change.)

      2. TootsNYC

        I have been at that table where one person seems to be controlling the direction of the conversation. And how do you redirect, how do you salvage the situation?

        A good thing for people to ponder.

        I think the best thing is to just start some other conversation. Preferably aimed in the direction away from the ranting rude person. And it’s OK to switch your attention away in the middle of her sentence.
        It doesn’t have to be a substantive alternate conversation; ask Aunt Millie how she made the mashed potatoes. Ask follow-up question after follow-up question about the minutia of potatoes and boiling/pressure-cooking/steaming them, and mashing them, etc.

      3. Little Missy

        Yes, sometimes you just have to stop inviting people when they can’t behave. My dad was a a dyed-in-the-wool United Methodist, as was my mom. Mom’s brother and sister-in-law changed to the Southern Baptist denomination. We never talked religion or theology at the holiday table. Until the year my parents, in an effort to be nice to Dad’s sister and her husband (a United Methodist minister), who didn’t have children of their own and no real plans for Christmas, to dinner. Uncle Minister (who was always a little dense and clueless and only got worse as he got older) began talking about why the Methodists were right and the Baptists are wrong. My Southern Baptist relatives didn’t say a word, just kept eating in silence while Uncle Minister tried to engage them in debate. My dad told Uncle Minister to drop it and when he didn’t, Dad said, “This is my house and these are my guests. You either drop the subject or you leave now and you will not be invited back.”

        Uncle Minister shut up then. And while we did have them over whenever Dad’s people had get-togethers, they were never invited to Christmas dinner with my mom’s people again.

        1. Not So NewReader

          A great example of starting out discreetly and then adding more if needed.

          I’m thinking OP’s cousin needed an earful to get her to stop.

    5. Mazzy

      Well, in Serena’s defense, alot of safe spaces have been getting bad publicity lately because they exist to shelter students from what adults would call “life.” The more expensive schools in my area have them, according to the local paper anyway. I think the question needs to be asked, if a particular group of students feels so threatened or out of place that they need a safe space, what is actually making them feel out of place? In Serena’s school, is there rampant bullying and homophobia? Is it being addressed?

      As per this particular safe space that Serena has to manage, or whatever she does with it, maybe the mechanics of how it works are what bothers her? Maybe a student or two are taking advantage of it? It’s certainly not uncommon for benefits to be taken advantage of. Maybe some are indeed using it to cut classes – I mean, everyone looked for any loophole to cut anything when I was in high school. I think those would have been points to address instead of just saying there are alot of jerks in the world.

      I also wouldn’t assume that everyone agrees with safe spaces just because they are the group the safe space is meant for. If you are in high school, you are most likely striving to fit in and be viewed as normal. You are probably not purposely trying to divide yourself from the rest of the student body because of your sexual orientation, which is something you most likely want to go unnoticed. I doubt alot of the real gay or lesbian students are going to have the guts to even admit that they are, in order to take advantage of the space.

      1. neverjaunty

        Serena doesn’t need or deserve a defense here. She wasn’t offering a nuanced discussion of whether safe spaces are helpful or effective, unless you really believe that calling students lazy snowflakes secretly pretending to feel unsafe to get out of math is some kind of thoughtful pros-and-cons debate about safe spaces.

      2. Observer

        Nothing you said can really be considered a defense of Serena’s rant. Even if SOME kids are taking advantage, using that to label all of the ones who take advantage of it “lazy”, “special snowflakes” and “fakers” is just out of line. As for your claim that the “real” lgbt are not going to take advantage of this, that’s something straight out of your imagination. There are plenty of kids who are bullied for being gay – whether because they are “really” gay or because they are perceived as / suspected of being gay.

        Sure, it’s true that if kids are being so badly bullied in class that they need to escape from there, there is a problem in the classroom that needs to be tackled. But that’s no excuse for going off on the kids.

        If she had gone off on a rant about the stupid school administration that is creating “safe spaces” instead of making the classroom safe, I would have some sympathy. But that’s not what she said. And, it’s the attitude that she apparently expressed that allows bullying to flourish in the classroom – the place that SHOULD be, by definition and normal management a true safe space for all children.

      3. Temperance

        She doesn’t deserve a defense, and the only discussion I see of “safe spaces” is the phrase used as a weapon by unintelligent people who don’t know how to debate. If “adults” see homophobic bullying as “life”, well then they are the freaking reason that these “safe spaces” need to exist. Ugh.

        This woman is a jerk who does not deserve access to vulnerable children. That being said, I have many gay and lesbian friends, and most of them were bullied as children for their perceived gayness. A “safe space” would have been welcome, instead of the adults in our lives agreeing that being gay is like, totes gross.

    6. Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda

      Thank you for allowing me to vent, for all of your thoughtful and supportive responses and for not judging me for remaining silent and for pointing out that I wouldn’t have done much good if I had lost my temper. I’ve discussed the situation with several other family members who also seemed to think that Serena’s comments were inappropriate. It was especially disturbing because, when she a girl, Serena was bullied about being of mixed race.

      I also spoke with Uncle Arthur. It was a bit awkward. I never said that I thought he was gay, but I did say how upsetting Serena was. I’m sure I’ll be a bit better prepared the next time I run into her, better prepared to politely disagree with her without making a fuss and to then change the subject.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Well done. This stuff ain’t easy. Your writing sounds calmer, too. I am glad you are in a stronger spot now.

  58. Anonforthis

    My cousin is dating this guy “Mike” and he’s horrible. He’s rude, condescending and extremely narcissistic. It’s impossible to have a conversation with him because he either cuts you off or pretends that he is the expert on the issue. I’m still single, so he asked me why I wasn’t married and if I was a lesbian and then proceeded to hit on me! I had just met the guy! Mike can be very charming when he wants to be and is very sweet around my Aunt and Uncle. I see right through the guy and now he hates me. He goes out of his way to ignore me when we are out and is very sarcastic and will make passive-aggressive comments- it’s horrible. He’s very obnoxious- he makes fun of people when they speak and is just so terrible. My cousin on the other hand is the sweetest person you’ll ever meet- she’s always doing charity work and rescues abused animals- it’s like night and day!

    I need to distance myself from the situation, but is there something that I’m not seeing? Is Mike secretly some nice guy and I’m just too quick to judge?

    1. DragoCucina

      Is she dating my step-father? These type of people suck all the oxygen out of a room. I think people find them funny in small doses and don’t see the meanness in them. My only advice is to be strong for your cousin and the voice of reason.

    2. Fish Microwaver

      I don’t think you are missing something. Mike is a jerk and has managed to convince others that he is a nice guy but you are not taken in. I was reading the other day that narcissists can be very charming and use it to fool their victims. No advice really but I would deal with his more egregious comments by askind “why would you say that ” like with an obnoxious coworker. Good luck.

    3. Mirilla

      Oh wow if she’s a kindhearted empathetic person then she’s fair game for narcissist types. She would easily fall into the enabler role. Not good for her but very good for him. I hope she runs in the other direction. You already know Mile is not a nice guy deep down. People with narc tendencies CAN turn it on and off depending on the audience.

    4. Was married to a narcissist

      “Mike” is my worst nightmare.

      If I were in your shoes, I would distance myself from him but not from my cousin. And I would be straight up about it. I would say something like “Cousin, I love you and I will always be there for you. I just won’t be around Mike unless totally necessary. I don’t like the way he treats people”. You’ll have to use your judgment as to whether or not saying something like this would cause contention in your family.

      I was married to a “Mike”. Unless you know his nasty side, he seems charming and even nice. Let’s just say he ended up ruining my life. The damage that a narcissist makes when they unleash the nastiness can ruin people’s lives. There are websites dedicated to this exact topic (people’s lives ruined by narcissists). I don’t mean to scare you; if anything, maybe I just want you to know that your feelings are not unfounded. This “Mike” may be on a lower spectrum of assholery.

    5. Grumpy

      You can tell who he is and what he is, which is bad news for him.
      Why your cousin picks losers is her deal to work through (some people never work through it, unfortunately), but in the meantime, while she visits this twit (and her issues) on her friends and family, maybe keep repeating, “what do you mean by that?” to all the remarks?
      Good luck… **shudder**

    6. Mona

      Go with your gut. This guy is bad news.

      Mike has figured out how to latch onto your lovely cousin. The sooner you can convince her of his true nature, the better.

      This has happened to me with several guys who used me and then when I outlasted my usefulness to them, I was dumped. See what you can do about proving without a doubt what a jerk he really is. The problem is these kinds of guys are repeat offenders and have come up with a formula for pulling the wool over the eyes of those gulliable enough to believe him.

      Good luck. You have an important mission, on behalf of all of us women who have been hurt by men like him!

    7. neverjaunty

      You’re not missing a thing. Mike’s behavior towards you and his rudeness are the real Mike. His sweet as pie behavior towards people who haven’t seen through him is the false front.

      VERY strongly recommend you go over to Captain Awkward and look at the “Darth Vader”-tagged posts. It can be maddening to deal with a situation where your cousin and maybe other family members can’t or won’t see through these guys.

    1. Mona

      Why are there 8 returning chefs? For the drama? Haha… I love that show but I can deal with less created drama!

  59. Anonymous Oats

    I received a 7 pound bag of steel cut oats as a gift. Can I freeze it or part of it? I don’t see how I could possibly eat this before it got rancid. I don’t have time to cook it during the week for breakfast and don’t have oatmeal every day in any case. Or any other ideas? I live alone.

    1. Short geologist

      I’m not sure about freezing, but I make a batch in the slow cooker every Sunday night.1 cup of oatmeal and 4 cups water makes about 4 servings, and then I reheat 1 serving with milk and molasses each morning in the microwave. You can use maple syrup or brown sugar as well. That leaves me to have 1 oatmeal-free day each week.

    2. printrovert

      According to the Whole Grains Council’s website, you can store them in a container and freeze them for up to four months.

    3. Mona

      Make friends with a horse? :) only being partly facetious.

      This page suggests because steel cut oats are coarser than what most people use to make cookies, you may have to bake your cookies longer.

      http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-steel-cut-

      This page suggests you’ll be good for 1-2 years.

      http://www.eatbydate.com/grains/cereal/how-long-does-oatmeal-last-shelf-life-expiration-date-storage/

      Oatmeal is also really good as a binder instead of breadcrumbs in things like meatballs and meatloaf. When I was diagnosed with a wheat allergy/sensitivity, we tried using oats instead of breadcrumbs in a meatloaf, and it worked like a charm. You wouldn’t even know it’s there, and it adds good fiber.

    1. Mallory Janis Ian

      Love! They cook so evenly, and when they’re seasoned are more nonstick than the coated nonstick skillets. Plus I’m from the south, so I have to cook my cornbread in a cast iron skillet; I’d never even seen anyone do otherwise until my MIL from California cooked cornbread in a square glass casserole dish.

      1. printrovert

        I know! A friend from Massachusetts once invited me to dinner, and she cooked cornbread in a glass oven dish. It didn’t feel wrong, but it was one of those “well this is different” moments.

    2. Red

      I love them to pieces. Until it’s time to deal with cleaning and seasoning the stupid thing, at which point I want to break it into pieces. Really, I’d recommend one. It’s worth it for cornbread alone.

    3. neverjaunty

      Love for a limited subset of uses. They can’t be beat as a roasting pan for a whole chicken. For everyday stuff like eggs? Not worth it.

      1. printrovert

        Agreed! I have never had great luck cooking eggs in mine. But casseroles, pizzas, roasted veggies, pies—I could go on. I think the one other item I had trouble cooking was a trout fillet. And actually, the fish came out well, but the remnants didn’t come off the pan easily and I ended up stripping and reasoning the skillet. My mother has a small pan though and has had very little trouble making eggs in hers. I guess it’s a good thing I prefer poached eggs.