weekend free-for-all – December 17-18, 2016

olive-witih-booksThis 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.)

Recommendation of the week: How to Talk to a Widower, by Jonathan Tropper. A commenter here recommended it after I mentioned how much I like another novel by the author, and it manages to be both sad and funny, which is a feat that I love. It’s about a 29-year-old widower, his dysfunctional family, and his climb back to life.

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

{ 1,114 comments… read them below }

  1. Caledonia*

    Is wrong of me to be more interested in the books behind Olive, than Olive herself? (although as ever, Olive looks cute!)

    1. nep*

      As soon as I saw the shot, I thought, ‘I wonder if I can see what titles are back there?’ Yes, I want to browse the books.
      Lovely, lovely kitty. Great shot.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        If you click on it, it will enlarge the photo and I think you can see many of the titles (including the faux-fur-covered Little Fur Family on the top right).

  2. bassclefchick*

    I’m planning on making Alison’s rum balls this weekend! Can’t wait to try them. Do they need to be refrigerated? I’ve never made these before and wasn’t sure.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Nope! Put them in something that’s tightly covered and let them sit untouched for a few days. No refrigeration necessary. (I have childhood memories of my mom putting them in old coffee cans that she’d covered inside and out with tinfoil. Those would line our kitchen in December. I just use Tupperware though.)

    2. Weekend Warrior*

      Made ’em last week! Simple and good. I thought the rum might be too strong but they’ve mellowed nicely. :)

        1. Weekend Warrior*

          In Canada so I bought a “mickey” of Cuban rum at the government liquor store. They also seem to sell airplane size near the checkout quite regularly but don’t know about US private stores. I used a cup in the recipe and will use the rest in eggnog so airplane size wouldn’t have cut it. :) Per the featured commenter on this version, you can substitute 1/2 cup orange juice plus 1tsp of grated peel for the rum. That sounds good too!

        2. Artemesia*

          I live in Chicago and you literally can’t buy them in Chicago, you have to go to liquor stores in the suburbs to get them. Most places you can buy the in any old liquor store. (can’t buy spray paint in Chicago either which was a bummer when I needed to spray paint something)

          1. miki*

            Artemesia, I am down south from Chicago, and no big grocery store has them. I might try the neighbourhood liquor store next. Thanks you.

        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          They should be available at most liquor stores and also places like BevMo, but it depends a little on your city/state (blue laws).

        4. Clever Name*

          It looks like it depends where you live. In colorado you’d buy them at the liquor store that is in every shopping center.

          1. miki*

            2nd post (my first one had a link to rum my mom prefers so it must have not passed the spam filters)
            I got the rum in a liquor store that is some 300-400 ft from my building! I knew it was there, but never had a reason to go in.
            And now I want to have the one that my mom always uses for cakes: Badel Domaci rum, here is the description:
            Badel’s lady with a barrel became a traditional symbol of the most popular drink rich in flavours. It is used as an additive for authentic and original sweets and as a popular additive for tea. The unique taste, the seductive and distinctive scent made Badel domaći the market leader for almost a century and a half.

            Badel Domaći is produced according to a special recipe from top-quality alcohol flavoured with a special rum essence. This essence ensures recognizable and characteristic aroma that refines all cakes and tea during cold winter days.

            I could almost smell it just by thinking of it. Sigh, making mental note to buy it next time I’m in country.

          1. the gold digger*

            I am an exiled Texan. Primo and I were taking some kind of Milwaukee tour and I casually mentioned Blue Laws. The guide, who was from the Wisconsin Historical Society, was startled. “What’s a blue law?” she asked.

  3. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

    I’ve been really into using my crock pot lately. What are your favorite crock pot recipes? The most recent thing I made was carnitas. It was delicious!

      1. Artemesia*

        If you love pot roast and other slow cooked meats, consider a sous vide. They make unbelievably tender pot roast; we cook ours for 48 hours and it is perfect every time. I have mixed results in the crock pot although I use that too.

            1. Katie the Fed*

              It’s the one thing I love so much :) I maaaay have sent a link for it to my husband. He struggles greatly on gifts when left to his own devices :D

    1. Allypopx*

      Lasagna! Lasagna is so wonderful in the crockpot. Use your favorite lasagna recipe (brown the meat if you use meat, lightly sautee the vegetables if you use vegetables) and layer it in the crockpot instead of a lasagna pan. No need to pre-cook the noodles, they cook in the tomato sauce! Cook on low for 4-6 hours until the noodles are nice and al dente.

      I’ve also done chili recently, and beef and broccoli.

      Soften onions, garlic, jalapenos, and green peppers in a pan, brown two pounds of ground turkey, throw it in the slow cooker with a can of pumpkin puree, a can of diced tomatoes (with liquid), a cup of chicken or turkey stock, two cans of your favorite chili beans, and anything else you like tossing in chili, mix in spices to taste (I usually do cumin, chili powder, cayenne, garlic salt, paprika, salt, pepper) and cook on low for 6 hours.

      Beef and broccoli:
      Put beef strips in the slow cooker and cover with a sauce (I make my sauce with beef stock, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, sriracha, salt, pepper, and soy sauce). Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Make a slurry with two tablespoons of the cooking liquid and two tablespoons of cornstarch and mix in back in really well, and then cook on high for 30 more minutes until the sauce thickens. Then steam some broccoli (or boil some frozen broccoli for two minutes) and mix it in, and serve over rice. The meat comes out so tender.

      I get a little too excited about crockpot recipes…

    2. Annie Mouse*

      Bolognese (exactly the same recipe as in a pan), making sure you brown the meat first or it goes all filmy.
      Goulash, I can’t remember what recipe I use, it’s been a while since I made it, but there are a few good ones that work well if you google it :)

    3. Kate R. Pillar*

      Thank you for asking this question! I just ordered our first-ever crock pot an hour ago (they are not really “a thing” here in Germany – yet) so I will be bookmarking the thread for sure!

    4. Rebecca*

      It’s sort of cold and icy out there in PA, and I have a big crock pot full of chili going. I like to make beef roast with carrots, potatoes, onions, and celery too, and I’ve put in a whole chicken. I know I don’t use it as much as I should.

    5. Tess McGill*

      Slow Cooker Shepherd’s Pie.

      1-1/2 lbs. beef chuck, trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces
      2 large carrots, chopped
      1 large onion, chopped
      1 cup beef broth
      1 cup dark beer (Guinness)
      3 TBLS Worcestershire sauce
      2 TBLS flour
      2 TBLS tomato paste
      Kosher salt & black pepper
      2 cups frozen peas
      2 large Russet potatoes, peeled
      1/2 cup milk
      2 TBLS butter

      Combine beef, carrots, onion, beer, broth, Worchestshire, tomato paste, flour, 1-1/2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. pepper in 4-6 quart slow cooker. Nestle the potatoes in the liquid. Cover and cook, on low 7-8 hours or on high 4-5 hours. Transfer potatoes into bowl. Stir peas into stew, cover and warm until heated through (3-5 minutes). Mash the potatoes with milk and butter and 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Serve the stew topped with mashed potatoes.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I only have a tiny one, like one quart. It’s hard to find recipes specifically for it. I made beans in it recently, with pinto beans, pancetta (that was the only bacon I had), garlic, onion, and some parsley (for color). They turned out pretty good, though I had to finish them on the stove because I forgot that beans swell and I put too many in. Oops!

      I’m also scared to go off and leave it on because my house is old and has old wiring. So I only use it when I’m home.

      1. New Bee*

        We have a small one too! I like to make soups in it…butternut squash and potato rosemary are pretty easy with an immersion blender (roasted vegetables, stock, a little milk or sour cream, and seasoned to taste).

    7. Lissa*

      I just put on the crock pot today — making some BBQ pulled chicken! Partner is working all day and I have a lot of running around to do, so it’ll be nice to come home to.

      1. Artemesia*

        It is also terrific for BBQ pork shoulder; we just throw it in the pot and cook it for 8 hours then pull it and sauce it.

    8. NJ Anon*

      Ours is fairly big. We’ve put a turkey breast in it for hot open turkey sandwhiches. Also a pork butt to make pulled pork. Go to allrecipes dot com for more (they call them slow cookers). Chicken tetrazini (sp?), etc. Italian sausage and peppers, the list is endless!
      Oh and stuffed cabbage!

    9. Chilleh*

      I love my crock pot! I make chili in it, turkey breast, red beans & rice, and all other kinds of things in it. One of my favorite easier-than-anything meals is to get pork tenderloin and a bottle of sweet onion dressing & marinade (don’t remember who makes it) and cook it just like that. Then you can serve it with rice, pasta, or mashed potatoes and just steam some veggies in the microwave to go with it.

      1. bon-bons for all!*

        My version: pork loin + a packet of Lipton onion soup + 2 cans cream of mushroom soup. 8 hours on low and you have melt in your mouth pork and a gravy out of this world.

    10. beetrootqueen*

      i love my crockpot. it’s all casseroles for me though. a good sausage casserole is the best when its this dark and cold

    11. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      We do Indian Butter Chicken – doing it tomorrow actually!

      We tend to crock on Sundays because dinner is cooking while you are home or maybe out for a little bit and it is done when you are ready for a nice hot Sunday dinner with minimal fuss. I am always nervous of leaving it ALL DAY because a) I think our cooks faster than others and b) if transport goes down it could be cooking an extra hour or two or three etc :/ and c) our wiring IS messed up (confirmed with electrician today) and I really would like to be around if there is a fire. Same as why I don’t leave if the washing machine is on.

      1. Annie Mouse*

        I’d love to leave mine going while I’m at work but I work a minimum of 12 hour shifts with late finishes almost every day and at least half hour each way commute. I’m worried about the same thing happening as you. I do sometimes put it on low overnight though which works really well.

    12. Marzipan*

      A handy tip for this time of year: you can steam a Christmas pudding (and presumably any other steamed pudding) in a slow cooker. It takes longer, but there’s no worrying about the pan boiling dry.

    13. Sled dog mama*

      Pulled pork is our go to for having people over, rub whatever you want on it, we always include some amount of brown sugar, salt, and smoked paprika cook on low for ~8 hours shred and everyone is amazed.

    14. Cass*

      I’m trying a new recipe tomorrow so I can’t vouch for it but it sounds yum. Put chicken thighs on the bottom, add a sauce of honey, garlic, and soy sauce to cover them and then some chopped red potatoes on top. Said it will take 4 hours on high, 8 hours on low to cook.

      1. Kit*

        I tried a similar recipe and didn’t like the potatoes, as the sugar and slow cooking gave them a strange, sort of candies texture. The chicken was very good, though, and it may have been down to something I did wrong.

        1. Artemesia*

          I do potatoes in the microwave or the stove and add them at the very end to absorb juices. I don’t like they way they cook in crock pots either, so not just you.

        2. Cass*

          Yeeeeeah….I didn’t care for it. I always forget everything I make in the slow cooker comes out like beef stew dog food.

      2. HoVertical*

        Crock-pot teriyaki chicken is always a big hit. Pretty easy to do, too – just a bunch of chicken breasts, 3 to 4, about 1 cup of a good thick teriyaki sauce, and set on high for 4 hours. I usually serve it with white rice.

    15. EmmaLou*

      Pepperoncini Pulled Beef Sandwiches. I’d give credit to the recipe creator but I can’t find it! 3-4 lb roast, a package of Italian dressing mix, a jar of pepperoncinis tossed in the crock-pot and cooked all day on low. About 1/2 hour before serving, pull the roast apart with forks and put back in the juices. Stir it up. Let it heat through. Serve on buns or rolls with a slice of pepperjack. Yum!

      1. chickabiddy*

        I do almost exactly that. I made it for a potluck once and someone told me that it was the closest to an Italian Beef Sandwich(?) that she has had since she moved from Chicago to North Carolina. Can’t speak to that, but everyone really liked it.

    16. Marillenbaum*

      Mulled wine! One bottle of red wine, pint of OJ, mulling spices, sugar to taste. Turn on high for one hour.

    17. SaraV*

      Easy Potato Soup
      3 cans of chicken broth
      2 cans of cream of chicken soup
      1 “normal-sized” bag of frozen hash browns, southern-style
      1/2 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
      4 oz of cream cheese

      Combine broth, soup, potatoes, and bacon in slow cooker. Set on high for 4 hours, low for 8. An hour before serving, mix in cream cheese. I think it tastes better warmed up as leftovers.

    18. ginger ale for all*

      Apple sauce. Your home will smell divine and it’s fun to experiment with the different kinds of apples.

      1. the gold digger*

        I did that a few years ago when our pear tree gave us an abundant crop! I cut the pears and put them in the freezer and then, once the weather was cold, I would cook a huge batch overnight in the slow cooker with the spices and process them. I would wake up in the middle of the night and the house would smell so good.

    19. nonprofit manager*

      I like to use the slow cooker over night to cook steel cut oats. They come out so creamy and yummy. I use 4 cups of water, 1 cup of steel cut oats, and 1/2 tsp salt. Mix it all and cook on low for 7-8 hours or over night.

    20. TheLazyB*

      I discovered from my sister that you can bake potatoes in a slow cooker which I think is the same thing.

      Wrap each one in heavy duty foil and you can either do them overnight then reheat in the microwave in work, or cook ’em all day and have them for tea.

      I prick them and rub a bit of olive oil and salt on them before wrapping them. Delicious.

    21. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

      Oh, I also made a roasted red pepper feta cheese frittata in the crock pot. I had no idea you could make it in there, but it came out perfect and is to easy to just use up whatever veggies you have around.

    22. DanaScully*

      I’m late to the party here, but my favourite thing to slow cook is a whole chicken. I used to faff about with root vegetables and rubs but now I don’t bother. I just pop the chicken in, season with salt and pepper and leave on low for around 8hrs. When I get home from work I take the chicken out (careful, it falls apart) and cut it up. I leave it on a plate in the fridge and dip into it all week for various meals. It saves us a lot of time and money as we used to spend a lot on chicken breasts, and the chicken is always so juicy and tender.

      Also, as the chicken gives off a lot of liquid, I pour it into a jug and put it in the freezer. The fat rises to the top and I skim it off with a spoon. I then use the liquid in a chicken and vegetable soup, or you can use it for a gravy.

  4. bassclefchick*

    My company’s Christmas party is supposed to be tonight. And we’re supposed to get 5 more inches of snow today. I HAD been looking forward to this, but after this horrible week, I just can’t fake being happy anymore. But, I’m expected to make an appearance, so I’ll drag myself to the party for a very short time. At least they’re reimbursing us the cab fare.

    1. bassclefchick*

      I just ordered the cab, so I’m forcing myself to go. I’m sure it will be fun, I’m just so exhausted from going to a funeral this week that I just don’t have much energy left.

      1. nep*

        When it’s all said and done, there will be that special kind of gratification that you sucked it up and showed up. That sometimes makes it all worthwhile. Hope you’ll also have some great moments at the party.
        All the best.

    2. bassclefchick*

      Just got home from the party. I AM glad we went. Ended up at the same table as the CEO, so that was interesting. Really nice guy, very funny. And we like the same cocktail. Win – win. Thanks for the encouragement!

  5. Lady Julian*

    I teach college writing, including a few remedial courses in language usage. This week, I used the liver boss story for an exam question asking students to replace vague pronouns. ;)

    (If you’re interested the question was, “At work, they’ve asked people to consider donating part of their liver to the boss’s brother.” Students were supposed to identify the pronoun “they’ve” as vague and rewrite it to something like, “At work, management has asked people”.)

      1. Lady Julian*

        I’d like to know my students’ reaction, too! I don’t get to hear their thoughts when they’re taking the exam, sadly. I’m particularly curious because the exam also included 1-2 paragraphs (asking them to change passive to active, or to identify the types of sentences) on rabies and on prison libraries. I draw my exam question topics from my recent reading; and clearly I’ve been reading some nontraditional books lately!

    1. Artemesia*

      love the lesson on ‘They’ — a pernicious habit attributing all bad things to what ‘they are going to do’

      1. Lady Julian*

        One of the things I wanted this class to learn was to avoid vague pronouns, the “it” and “they” thrown so liberally about. The lesson isn’t entirely learned yet (there were some unneeded “its” in the final papers) but my students are making progress!

        1. M-C*

          Perhaps you need to inform yourself a bit about the reasons people use ‘vague’ pronouns? As a self-declared lady you may not think sexism affects you, or is even a thing. But let me assure you this is not the case everywhere, and that frequently the need to not declare explicitly the gender of a person handily trumps your taste for traditional grammatical precision.

          I have spent some 4 decades making sure any technical writing that I have any say in does not imply that the ignorant user is female, nor the technical savior is male. I’m glad to hear that the use of ‘they’ has made significant inroads in the younger generations, and I hope they have the sense to continue the practice, even if they have to temporarily humor your retrograde edicts to get a good grade.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I took “vague pronouns” to mean using “they” instead of, for example, “the teapot company” or “people with toddlers” or some other entity/group that could and should be cited more specifically.

      2. TootsNYC*

        and don’t start me on the use of “you” to mean “I”!

        I read a blog post the other day in which a woman was talking about her experience with arranging five online dates in the same day, and why it worked for her.

        Her lead-ins were:
        “You get less nervous”
        “You get better at sharing your stories”

        I was like, “Own your experience!” This is what happened for you–don’t assume that this is true of everyone.

      1. Lady Julian*

        I encourage my students to replace ‘they’ with an actual noun, as in “the boss asked for a liver donation” instead of “they asked for a liver donation.” Usually when students use “they” or “it”, there’s a stronger, clearer noun that could be used instead.

        Yet I find the use of “they” as a singular pronoun to indicate all genders interesting. I personally do the alternate-between-he-and-she thing; for instance, when I write directions for a peer review assignment, I’ll write something like, “Read over your partner’s paper, and suggest three ways she can improve.” My inner feminist loves this solution! :)

        1. Undine*

          they as a singular personal pronoun has a long history and is used pretty often in speech, so many (including me) consider it acceptable. E. Nesbit used it!

          1. chickabiddy*

            Many people do consider it acceptable, and I am fine with it in social speech or casual writing such as social media, but very few, if any, style guides have approved of it (Chicago did once and then retracted approval) so people who write professionally might be advised to avoid it despite their own personal wish for a gender-neutral singular pronoun.

  6. dear liza dear liza*

    I need help getting more vegetables in my diet.

    Fuller story: I’m not a big veggie fan. If I could live off carbs and cheese, I would. But since I’m trying to eat healthier and not put on my usual winter 10 pounds, I’m trying to increase my vegetable intake. In the summer, I can make myself eat a lot of salads, but my office is cold in the winter and the last thing I want to eat is cold food.

    Dishes I currently make: spaghetti squash; a variety of Tex-Mex chicken recipes in the crockpot, doubling the peppers and onions; chili dishes that focus on beans and tomatoes. (I rely on Skinnytaste.com recipes for the latter two); omelets (although that’s not so easy for work lunches!)

    I would appreciate any tips or vegetable-heavy recipes!

    1. fposte*

      Does it have to be in dishes? The steam-in-bag veg are quite good, and it’s easy to splash some glaze or cheese on the top when you’ve dished them out (renuke if you want your Parmesan meltier). If you’re looking for low-prep, they’re hard to beat.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        I love those steam-in-bags. I stock up when the go on sale, and all the places I buy from have their own generic versions.

        For lunch, because I don’t want to eat salads a lot in winter either, I bake up a bunch of boneless skinless chicken on the weekend (take your favorite rub or spice combination- in a hurry, I just go garlic salt and curry powder), then cook a bag of veggies, and put the chicken on top of hot vegetables like I would cold in a salad.

      2. Chaordic One*

        It’s easy to add frozen vegetables into all sorts of dishes, into soups and chilis, into tomato or pesto sauces for pasta, or into mac and cheese (for example).

    2. TL -*

      Oh, mac and cheese with broccoli or cauliflower or peas (whichever you like.) If it’s from a box, grate in extra cheese and just use frozen veggies. :)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Cauliflower and cheese satisfies me when I find myself wanting to load up on carby stuff like mac and cheese. It’s one of the rare times in my life that substitutes actually work.

    3. periwinkle*

      Try making a chili that leans heavily on veggies beyond tomatoes. I love to toss together a chili that has black beans, kidney beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, zucchini (which I otherwise avoid), sweet potatoes, and winter squash. Slice the mushrooms and zucchini, dice the other vegetables. You could add shredded sturdy greens like kale or chard. I also add ground turkey. Yum.

    4. selyse*

      Maybe you’d enjoy veggies in soups? Butternut squash, cream of broccoli, etc. You can boil and purée a potato to thicken the soup to cut down on the cream.

    5. Annie Mouse*

      I sometimes make things like bolognese (which works great in the slow cooker) and add in diced veg like fine beans or sugar snaps. I’m with you on the vegetables front though, although I’ve also discovered roasted veg and roasted tomatoes which I love (and mix with herby cream cheese and pasta and it gets’s even better!).

    6. Lady Julian*

      I *love* veggies in the winter time! The trick is turning them into soups & stews, not salads. Lately I’ve made
      * Winter Squash & Hominy Stew
      * Roasted Pumpkin Soup
      * Sweet Potato & Black Bean Tacos

      I’ll put the links in a follow-up comment.

      It’s worth noting that once you get the hang of making soups, you don’t really need a recipe. Basically fry up some onions, & garlic for a base, add stock, and then chunk in whatever veggies you want (squash, sweet potatoes, beans, etc.) and add noodles and meat if appropriate. If you want a creamy soup, just puree the end result. I’ve made a really good butternut squash soup recipe on that principle; roast the squash with garlic, then fry up onions & more garlic, add stock & squash, and let the whole thing boil for a while. Then puree it & voila! Squash soup. Yum!!

    7. AnonEMoose*

      Spaghetti sauce can work well in a crockpot. And you can add things like mushrooms, bell peppers, black olives – you can even mix in some shredded carrot if you’d like.

      A dish I make, but don’t really have a name for, goes like this:

      2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
      1 small to medium onion, chopped
      3-4 cloves garlic, minced (I’ve also used granulated garlic or granulated roasted garlic – see note below about Penzey’s Spices)
      4 bell peppers (I like to use one each green, yellow, orange, and red because it’s colorful), seeded and chopped
      1 medium tomato, chopped
      1/2 pound mushrooms (I use button mushrooms or baby portabellas, but you can add other kinds if you like)
      1 can black olives, drained and sliced
      1/2 cup white wine
      Seasoning: I use parsley and the Italian herb mix from Penzey’s Spices (seriously, if you like to cook and have not checked out Penzey’s, do yourself a favor and either go to one of their shops or set up an online order)! Salt to taste – I don’t usually add it as I don’t think it needs it – the olives are fairly salty.

      Saute the chicken breast with the onion until the chicken breast isn’t pink on the outside (I use olive oil). Add the peppers, mushrooms, and tomato, cook until the peppers are just slightly crunchy. Add the white wine (I’ve used a bunch of different types – just use something you like) and the olives, just until heated through.

      Serve over spaghetti noodles (I use angel hair, but any kind of spaghetti noodle would do). Top with shredded mozzarella or parmesan cheese. Does reheat pretty well in the microwave. You could also serve this over rice.

      1. AnonEMoose*

        Oh, and for clarity – cut the chicken breast up into bite-sized chunks before starting to cook it. I try to have all of the chopping done before I start cooking.

      2. No, please*

        What about veggie and rice stir fry? You could make a lot in no time, and re-heat through out the week.

        1. AnonEMoose*

          A few cashew nuts (if you like them and allergies aren’t an issue) can be a great addition to a stir fry. They add a really nice flavor, a bit of crunch, and some protein.

      3. FormerLibrarian*

        I cut summer squash/zucchini into bite size pieces, lightly sauté them (butter, coconut oil, olive oil, whatever’s handy) and then add a tin of seasoned chopped tomatoes. After that is heated all the way through, I add some chopped or crumbled feta, heat for another few minutes (the longer you heat it the more the feta crumbles/almost-melts, so it’s pretty much up to personal preference) and then serve it over pasta, noodles, potatoes, or rice.

    8. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Are you cool with spiralizers? I know they’re super trendy right now, but squash-based “spaghetti” is delicious, and if someone can make it easier to do at home, all the better. Sometimes it can also help to rethink of your main foods. For example, Chinese-restaurant-style chicken w/ broccoli or chicken with green beans is not hard to make at home, and it’s already vegetable-forward. Are you looking for how to hide vegetables in your food (e.g., by pureeing), or how to increase the number of veggie-oriented foods you’re eating? There are good blogs/cookbooks on both, but they’re definitely two different veggie-incorporation philosophies.

      Also, are there specific veggies you really like, or a style of preparation you like? I grew up thinking I hated vegetables only to learn as an adult that I really just hated how my mom cooked vegetables (sorry, mom). I’m a huge fan of braised/blanched anything, but especially braised brussel sprouts and kale during the winter (and you can easily do a cauliflower, carrots & kale combo in about 10 minutes).

      If you find cookbooks helpful, my favorite “quick & easy” veggie-ful cookbooks are Susie Middleton’s The Fresh & Green Table, which focuses on incorporating veggies into foods you already eat, and Fast, Fresh & Green, which is all about simple and fast veggie recipes (the succotash recipe is ridiculously good and can be recreated with frozen veggies).

      1. Bluebell*

        We got a spiralizer this summer and have really enjoyed using it with sweet potatoes and zucchini. I’m the winter I’m also a big fan of roasting almost anything

    9. Cruciatus*

      Here’s the link for the Chunky Vegetable and Lentil Soup recipe I really like:

      I recently made it for our holiday potluck and it was all gone by the end of the event! It’s the first time that’s ever happened for me and something I’ve made for potlucks. And it’s easily adaptable. Like celery more than carrots? Just add more of one or the other. Want it spicier– add more cayenne, or no spice if you want. I always double the garlic and lower the cumin. You can adjust it to any tastes and it still comes out well. You could probably even use chicken bouillon over the vegetable if you wanted. I haven’t, but I have thought about it! I think it’d be just fine.

    10. Uyulala*

      What about veggie lasagna? And if you slice zuchini into long flat pieces, it can even replace the noodles,

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        I make my regular lasagna with wilted spinach mixed into the cheese mixture, and cook mushrooms in with the ground meat.

    11. katamia*

      I love Bobby Flay’s brussels sprouts with pancetta (although I use prosciutto) and and shallots. (Recipe in a followup comment.)

      As another person who’s kind of meh on vegetables (I love brussels sprouts and a few others but don’t like a lot of sweeter vegetables), one thing that helps me eat more in general is to cut them smaller. It just makes it less overwhelming.

    12. Elizabeth West*

      I went to a dinner party once where someone had sliced small zucchinis into wedges, dredged them in a mix of bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese, and baked them. HEAVEN.

    13. Christian Troy*

      -I’ve gotten into the habit of sautéing okra and green beans in olive oil with pepper, garlic, crushed red pepper, and a (very) little sea salt on a Sunday and then eating it at dinner for the next few days.

      -Soups are good (minestrone, mushroom, and butternut squash come to mind).

      -Oldwayspt(dot)org also has a lot of good vegetable recipes since it leans towards Mediterranean (broccoli rabe with olives, eggplant and walnut dip).

    14. LCL*

      For at home when you have access to a stove.
      Fry 2-3 slices of bacon. If bacon is really lean you might have to add some cooking oil.
      When bacon is done, push it to the side of the pan.
      Splash in some good vinegar, balsamic is awesome but others will work. Let it heat up.
      Dump in a small bag of spinach. Stir the bacon and vinegar and spinach all together and heat until the spinach is wilted to your preference.
      Add lots of black pepper and eat!.

    15. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

      You cannot go wrong with soup. Seriously. Grab any vegetables you have and make them into a soup. I make a batch of soup almost every week and eat at least a bowl of soup every day (often two).

      If you don’t like following recipes, here is the easy and successful way to make soup.:

      1. Chop vegetables.
      2. Put oil in the bottom of a big pot. I use coconut oil, but olive or sunflower are fine as well.
      3. Put chopped vegetables in pot and fry for a few minutes (anything from three to ten minutes, it depends on the vegetables and whether you want a more roasted flavour, but it doesn’t really matter as long as nothing burns).
      4. Add water.
      5. Add herbs, spices , salt and pepper. You can really go wild here. I add almost everything I’ve got, which includes but is not limited to ground ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon (not too much, it can overpower the other flavours but it’s otherwise great), cloves, allspice, rosemary, thyme, oregano, cumin, coriander and parsley.
      6. Cover pot, bring to boil on medium/high heat, then reduce.
      7. Once the vegetables are soft, use a hand-held immersion blender to blend the soup and make it all smooth.
      8. Add bay leaves, leave to simmer or turn off heat (depending on well-cooked the vegetables are).

      Why add bay leaves at the end? They can get lost in between all the vegetables and then you get bits of bay leaf in your soup.

      If you’ve got vegetables you aren’t sure will combine, just do a search for that combination and add ‘soup’. I guarantee you’ll find a recipe.

      Good luck!

    16. Zip Silver*

      The trick to getting good veggies is to blanche them. Stream or boil them too long, and they’re nasty and mushy. Blanche them for 60 seconds and they’re perfect.

    17. Marzipan*

      Shepherd’s pie with a lower proportion of meat, replaced with finely chopped vegetables (onions, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes) along with some lentils, would be nice. And you can switch the mashed potato for other root vegetables (like, a mix of sweet potato, carrot and swede would be nice).

      Curry is definitely something to think about if you want to eat more veg. There are huge swathes of India where people are entirely vegetarian, so there’s a huge variety of dishes you can make and they’re yummy. Madhur Jaffrey has some amazing recipes.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Her Quick & Easy Indian is one of the best North Indian/Pakistani cookbooks I’ve ever seen!

    18. Anono-me*

      Finely minced spinach can be hidden- oops I mean ‘mixed’ in with ground beef or turkey in many recipes without much difference in taste. 1/4 cup to 1# is the ratio I use. Burgers or meatloaf will be more moist however.

      1. Girasol*

        This! Oil up veggies, especially cubed root veggies, and sprinkle with salt and thyme, then into the oven for an hour or so at 400. This goes over big at a pot luck even if there are beets in it.

    19. printrovert*

      You can never go wrong with roasted vegetables. Roasting brings out a lot of flavor and keep well in the refrigerator (so cook in big batches!). Cauliflower steak is one of my favorite roasted recipes. You also don’t have to buy fresh–frozen works, too.

      Other ideas:
      vegetable burgers (I love experimenting with different combinations)
      portobello mushroom burgers (basically just roasted or grilled mushroom caps)
      homemade hummus – this one is good no matter what the season. You can make cold sandwiches in warmer months and use as a hot spread or sauce during the cold season. You can even use hummus as pizza base!
      pumpkin mac & cheese

      I also recommend switching out carbs for vegetables like you are with spaghetti squash. Rice cauliflower and substitute for regular rice. Mashed parsnips are delicious and a great substitute for potatoes. Slice zucchini, season, and microwave as a healthier snack instead of reaching for a bag of potato chips. And you can do a lot of different things with chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour!

      I keep a whole Evernote notebook full of recipes. I will comb through and a few links!

      1. printrovert*

        Oops, that should be *add* a few links.
        And here they are!

        Cauliflower soup: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/simple_cauliflower_soup/print/
        Lentil gravy: http://www.sodiumgirl.com/grateful-for-lentil-gravy/
        Vegan mushroom ravioli in broccoli cream sauce: http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-recipe/potatoes-and-porcini-mushroom-ravioli/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+onegreenplanet%2FHMmb+%28One+Green+Planet%29
        Cauliflower steak: http://chubbyvegetarian.blogspot.com/2013/12/82-queens-cauliflower-steak-with-confit.html
        Grilled eggplant bahn mi: http://chubbyvegetarian.blogspot.com/2015/04/grilled-eggplant-bahn-mi-sandwich.html
        Carrot dogs (2nd slide): http://www.torontosun.com/2015/11/10/what-the-flavour-thug-kitchen-party-grub-serves-sass-with-healthy-eating
        Gnocchi soup with beans & greens: http://www.glueandglitter.com/2014/01/27/gnocchi-soup-beans-greens/
        Root vegetable pie: https://food52.com/recipes/24965-thanksgiving-root-vegetable-pie
        Cauliflower hummus: http://www.thekitchn.com/cauliflower-hummus-is-the-dip-you-are-looking-for-the-vegetable-butcher-219993
        Veggie bites: http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-recipe/veggies-and-mushrooms-mini-bites/
        Zucchini carrot kale savory ‘cookies’: http://talesofakitchen.com/breakfast/zucchini-carrot-kale-savory-cookies/
        Zucchini chips: http://www.dinner-mom.com/zucchini-chips-microwave-or-oven/
        Cauliflower & pesto pizza crust: http://www.vodkaandbiscuits.com/2015/02/21/cauliflower-crust-pizza/

      1. Yetanotherjennifer*

        I do this too. It’s how I manage to use up all the greens we get with the CSA in the summer. You’ll never notice a cup or two of salad greens (any will do) in your smoothie.

        1. dear Liza dear liza*

          Yes, in the summer I make green monster smoothies! But in the winter, I don’t like cold stuff.

    20. Artemesia*

      Make cranberry orange relish — same kinds of vitamins and minerals but really tasty — when cranberries are available in stores like now — we make it up all the time and have either that or cooked cranberry sauce as a side dish most nights — a very nutritious relish (the cooked stuff is good on cottage cheese for lunch too.) Sometimes the way to deal with not liking veggies is to do an end run and eat more nutritious fruits like cantaloupe, cranberries etc. The other great way is to sneak them into soups or do like the Dutch do and mash them with potatoes. e.g. they have kale and mashed potatoes, saurkraut and mashed potatoes, corgettes and mashed potatoes i.e. they mash the vegetable into the potatoes — and serve it with sausage often. Really tasty. I also sneak frozen spinach into lots of things — spaghetti sauce , cream sauces, soups etc.

    21. Red*

      Try spinach and artichoke dip! It’s basically carbs and cheese with added spinach and artichokes lol, and spinach is very good for you. Alfredo pasta with broccoli is also a good choice. Vegetables don’t need to be an all-or-nothing thing, just start working them into your carbs and cheese until you start to really like them there, and then go all in on the veggies. When you do that, I find just about everything is good if you toss it with olive oil and herbs and roast it in the oven.

    22. TootsNYC*

      I just eat veggies plain. Raw or steamed, with or without a little oil or butter.
      Or, sautéed with olive oil and garlic.

      Of course, I really like them, so there’s that advantage I have.
      Maybe just eat them on their own, and focus on how they taste and feel. Enjoy the crunch, and the flavor.

    23. Natalie*

      Do you like pasta? Pasta & cheese (parmesan, asiago, etc) can be vegged up with pretty much anything you think would taste good. I’m a fan of frozen green peas (better than fresh, usually) or broccoli. Steam or saute the veggies, toss with your pasta, a little oil or butter, cheese, and any spices or garlic you think would taste good.

    24. HoVertical*

      The omelet thing is interesting. A niece of mine makes the miniature omelet cups in a muffin tin, and boy do they look good. You can put pretty much whatever you would like in them, she’s a big fan of spinach and other green leafies, though I can’t imagine putting kale (aka mulch) in something as yummy as an omelet. ;)

    25. Anion*

      Spanakopita? It’s one of our favorite veggie dishes–even my youngest likes it. If you hate spinach it’s maybe not for you, and it’s a little fiddly and time-consuming to make, but it’s delicious. I sometimes make it as a big pie, but lately I’ve been doing smaller individual ones (like the kind you can buy as appetizers: little triangles) and those are actually a bit easier. And if you’re cooking for one or two, it would be even faster, and you can freeze them unbaked.

      It’s worth picking up a box of them frozen–when I was pregnant I practically lived off Target’s Market Pantry frozen spanakopita, before I learned to make it myself–and see if you like them.

    26. HannahS*

      When I used to make pasta more, instead of putting on sauce and cheese, I’d cut up eggplant, stick it in a frying pan with a bit of oil, and then add pasta sauce (and serve with cheese). So it added to the dish, and I ate proportionally less pasta and cheese per serving, but the flavour I liked was still there. These days I find pasta doesn’t sit so well with me (sob) so I’ve relegated it to “sometimes food” and I just eat the saucy eggplant and cheese on rice or a slice of toast.

    27. Kj*

      Roasting veggies is my trick. Pretty much all the vegetables taste good roasted with olive oil. You can roast a bunch on one night, then reheat them in the microwave. Butternut squash is my favorite. Soup is a good, easy way as well.

  7. The IT Manager*

    I got to the airport at 4:00 yesterday. I am still here. I did spend the night in a hotel, but still if I’m figuring right I have spent 10 hours here so far.

    1. fposte*

      On a spindle :-). The rest is up to personal preference, but I recommend consistency within a household for those of us on autopilot in the dark.

        1. Graciosa*


          There was a Dear Abby or Ann Landers column on this at one point which was one that received a huge number of comments. “Over” won because it was clearly the manufacturers’ intent based on the orientation of patterns on the paper –

          – Back when toilet paper had patterns …

          1. ginger ale for all*

            I remember she once wrote that question and answer brought in the most responses out of all the letters in her column.

      1. Audiophile*

        We now finally have an upright toilet paper holder, the spindle’s been gone for years during which the toilet paper just sat on the windowsill. Not convenient since it often fell on the floor and rolled away.

    2. Cyehorn*

      I prefer on the stick and the paper going right side up. Otherwise other then that I don’t care. My wife prefers it being down facing

    3. Spongebobprincess*

      As long it’s within reach. Nothing is worse is when it falls and rolls away and getting up to get it. Nothing feel worse like having a cold in winter

        1. AnonEMoose*

          At least the cat won’t usually try to shove an entire roll’s worth into the toilet at once! On the other hand, cleaning up all the shredded stuff isn’t fun, either.

      1. FormerLibrarian*

        That was my question! I used to do over, but then after having a cat who liked to play with it, we switched to under so we didn’t have to throw out half (or more) of every roll.

    4. Jean*

      From the far recesses of my memory: over for ease of access; under to slow down any possible unwinding by cats or toddlers.
      Caveat: I do not live with cats and do not clearly recall whether our (only) child unwound the toilet paper as a toddler.
      Gee whiz, this is not exactly helpful advice!

    5. Rebecca*

      I have cats, so I put it in the “under” position, so if one of them gets the idea to claw at it, it doesn’t end up completely unwound all over the floor. Other than that, as long as it’s within arm’s reach when I need it, I really don’t care :)

    6. Lizabeth*

      Depends on whether you have cats that like to go at the roll with their paws. Definitely under so there’s a chance they won’t undo the roll. Over you’ve no chance at all…

    7. copy run start*

      Over. My cat has no interest in TP rolls, so we have no concerns on that front. Over is more aesthetically pleasing (to me) and is easier to manage one-handed. My TP holder is located next to my shoulder, so a lot of twisting is involved if you need both hands on the roll.

  8. Caledonia*

    This is the first year that I’m spending Christmas completely alone. In the past I’ve had a boyfriend or when single I’ve usually gone to my dad’s…but this year my dad’s wife is still not talking to me (since Feb) and so I’m not going anywhere.

    Anyone else doing a solo Christmas?

    I have several tv shows to catch up on, food being delivered on Tuesday so I should be ok.

    1. Not Karen*

      Yes and it’s going to be awesome. I’m making crepes for breakfast and watching all my favorite Christmas movies – Muppet Christmas Carol, The Santa Clause, The Holiday, and Rise of the Guardians (okay that last one isn’t really Christmasy, but it feels like it to me).

      During the month of December, every time I buy a “want,” instead of using it right away, I wrap it up and put it under the tree. So I have a bunch of presents to open on Christmas morning but I don’t spend any extra money.

        1. EmmaLou*

          I adore the gift of shopping! I know so many hate the gift card idea, but Amazon gives me so many choices! Books! Movies! An immersion blender! A bat signal!

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I know, right? Nothing impersonal about letting me buy EXACTLY what I want! I always try to let the person who got me a gift card know what I got and how much I like it.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        I do the same thing! Sure, I know what’s in the box, but it’s a present to myself so I know I’ll like it ;)

    2. Knitchic*

      Oh how I envy you. I work retail and I am soooo peopled out. I do have a week (a whole week!) planned after the holidays to spend completely alone. If the fam gifts me what I asked for I think I’ll be doing some art.
      Enjoy your Christmas! Call some friends and make some new traditions.

    3. Elkay*

      I’m not but Sarah Millican runs a hashtag on Twitter of #JoinIn for people spending the day solo if you want online company.

    4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I know it’s hard to spend Christmas alone when you’re used to having company, but as a lifelong heathen, I love my solo Christmas adventures. If you’re avoiding celebration full stop, then there is no better day to grab Chinese food and watch a movie (and if you have friends who are also flying solo or who don’t celebrate, this can be a fun thing to do together).

      But if you want to stay inside, it’s an awesome day to treat yo’self (think: all day spa day @ home) or to get a head start on a project you thought you’d do in the new year. Or you can treat it like a rainy Sunday and just stay cozy with good things to read and good/warm things to drink.

      1. fposte*

        If the weather’s passable, it’s a really nice day to go for a walk in a nearby park or similar. You won’t be worryingly alone because everybody with a dog is using that as an excuse to get out of the house, but it’s a great day to really see what’s going on in the woods, fields, art, whatever.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Yes! It can also be a fantastic time to snowshoe or cross country ski (assuming you live where it snows and that the weather is pleasant).

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Yep. Family alternates the big get-together between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and this year it was Thanksgiving because of my dad’s 80th birthday. So I’m on my own for Christmas (hoping this will be the last one where I don’t at least have an SO, though). Nobody will invite me for dinner, most likely.

      –Gonna shower and wash hair the night before so I can lounge in PJs all day without feeling grubby. I’m saving a particular pair for this. :)
      –Watch Christmas movies / shows (I have almost all the holiday classics on DVD). For sure Home Alone and A Christmas Story, but I might put on some others if I feel like it. There’s a particular version of A Christmas Carol I like with George C. Scott that scared me as a child, haha.
      –Make dinner: a ham slice, peas amandine, probably spaghetti squash, and Yorkshire puds
      –Not sure if I’m gonna call the fam or not. They rarely call me first. Will most likely call my mum, who will be in London with her sister. GRR GRRR JELLY JELLY JELLY ARRRGGGHHHH

      That’s my Christmas. If it’s going to be cloudy and dark, I hope we at least get a little snow.

    6. BBBizAnalyst*

      Spending it alone by choice. I haven’t had a holiday to myself in a few years. I’m looking forward to it. My family members are exhausting this is my 2016 act of self care.

    7. CMT*

      I have the last two years and I probably will this year, too. I’m getting a little tired of being alone, but I do like the quiet day I get to spend reading with my cat on my lap. I like to make sure my apartment is really clean before, so I can feel relaxed and cozy.

    8. Anonyby*

      I’m sort-of doing a solo Christmas. (I live with my Dad & his GF, but we don’t have anything planned.)

      Growing up we’d have a huge extended family tamale dinner on Christmas Eve (all the decendents of my maternal great-grandparents), and then on Christmas day we’d open presents with the immediate family before heading to my (still maternal) grandparents for breakfast and opening more presents with them and my aunt, uncle, and cousins, followed by a 3pm holiday dinner.

      Well, the hosts of the Christmas Eve got up in age and could no longer host, and none of the cousins stood up to take over hosting (the only one who would be willing lives too far for the rest to actually show up). We also lost two of the main people who were the glue of the smaller family unit, so pretty much everything fell apart for Christmas day stuff. I’m also not willing to invite myself to friends’ families get-togethers.

      Last year I went and saw Star Wars. I might go and see a movie or two this year again. I do admit I’ve been feeling very scrouge-y with no family (or even friend) celebrations to look forward to. I am grateful to get a four-day and three-day weekend, since I’ve only had one-day weekends for a few months now and that’s burning me out.

    9. Dan*

      I have a really tiny family, so there’s only need to travel for one winter holiday. I did Thanksgiving, so I’m actually looking forward to doing my own thing.

      My vacations aren’t relaxing, so a paid holiday at home is time for me to do what I want.

      1. JaneB*

        I usually go to my parents at Christmas, but this year I have Christmas solo and am going there at new year. It’s been a very hard year at work as well as in the wider world, and a few days on my own feel like a real treat – and it’s good to practice solo Christmas before it HAS to be that way, my parents are in their 80s and I’m chronically single so it’ll be my norm soon enough (my sis has her own family to juggle, with a lot of local inlaws – we’ll meet up after Christmas).

    10. copy run start*

      Yes, I’ve been doing Christmas alone for years, and I love it. Unfortunately I’ll be on call this year, but hopefully it’ll be quiet.

      1. phil*

        I used to be in the TV business so I worked on Christmas and Thanksgiving and every other holiday you can think of. But when I worked at NBC in the 80s they catered a very nice dinner for us.

    11. printrovert*

      Technically solo. I am visiting some out-of-town friends the Friday before and then driving back to my house the day after. My family and I have never made a big deal out of Christmas and have always been “done” after opening gifts. I made plans to call Christmas morning and open presents over the phone.

      Will possibly make a casserole to share with my roommate.
      Will definitely be watching Doctor Who.

    12. Ruby*

      I’m going to be alone this Christmas. After what is known as the “Apple Sauce and Cranberry Incident” from a few Christmases ago, I’ve been barred from the family Christmas by this one cousin who goes out of her way to ruin the whole day for everyone if I attend. My old mare died this year too, in years past I’d take a bottle of wine, some carrots, a picnic and a book and chill with her in the paddock for a few hours. I’m in Australia so Christmas is normally pretty warm.
      The plan this year is to spend eight hours at work (and hopefully it’ll be one of those super busy days) and then come home to watch Netflix, with a pizza and a bottle of tequila. Can’t get too drunk, as I’m working Boxing day but it should be bearable at least.

      1. Clever Name*

        Wow. Your cousin is awful and you don’t deserve to be treated like that. I hope your family has an awful Christmas. >:(

      2. Dynamic Beige*


        So this cousin celebrates Xmas — does she go to church/participate in services? Because not having much religion myself, isn’t Christianity big on forgiving people their trespasses and stuff? It’s weird that this one person has so much sway over the entire family and no one says anything? Bizarre.

        1. Ruby*

          None of the family is very religious, Christmas is really just an excuse to get everyone together and it’s a really big deal in the family. Each year some 60 people descend on one unlucky/lucky family and we have a bumper few days of feasting and festivities. The drama started the year my ex and I hosted. While people have been pissed off with her actions, she’s actually related to them. My claim to the family is tenuous at best, when I was fifteen my parents kicked me out and I moved in with my mother’s step brother. It’s his family that she belongs to.

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            Is it just Xmas that she bars you from? Are you “allowed” to attend other family events?

            It seems to me that there must be some childhood jealousy going on there for her reaction to be this over the top. Applesauce and cranberries? At your own house? It would be one thing if you got completely wasted at her house and smeared cranberry sauce into her fantastically expensive furniture/oriental carpet or something else completely beyond the pale.

            If you feel like being a shit disturber, go anyway. Bring a really nice present, something you know your cousin would just love to have. Give it to her in front of everyone and make a big speech about much you appreciate being welcomed into their family when you had nowhere else to go, it made such a positive difference in your life. That it was because of people like you, Cousin, that you enjoy the times you spend together as family. Family is more than blood, it’s memories and belonging and you, Dear Cousin, have so much to be thankful for to be a part of this wonderful group of people. If I could have chosen a family to be born into, it would have been this one, I wish I could have been as lucky as you. [give her a big hug] Whether you choose to make your regrets and leave or allow them to insist that you stay (which they really should do unless they’re all complete monsters) would be up to you.

            Yeah, it’s dirty play, but she hasn’t been playing very nicely either. I’m sure there are people there who are on your side but for whatever completely weird reason, are afraid to come out and stand up to this person. I cannot fathom how she’s managed to cow 60 people into going along with this, especially at a time of year when you’re supposed to be charitable. It would be one thing if it was inviting you to her wedding or a family reunion or backyard BBQ, but c’mon. There are people out there organising Orphan Christmas Dinners for complete strangers so no one has to be alone. Whatever bee this person has in their bonnet deserves to be squashed or let loose to fly away already.

    13. Louise*

      I might be doing an impromptu solo Christmas in Paris. :( I know this is like, the definition of a first world problem, but I want to go home and I don’t have money to burn! I’m supposedly flying to the UK on Friday to spend Christmas with family, with a night in Paris en route, but there are ground staff strikes planned at most of the airports. I’m an eternal pessimist, so I’m going to be spending the whole week stressing about this.

      1. M-C*

        Believe it when the French promise to ruin your holiday with strikes. Paris is not a lot of fun on Christmas, everyone is – supposed- to be with family, unless you enjoy eerily solitary walks along the Seine ☺. The train is almost faster than a plane though, can you score a chunnel reservation?

    14. Tala*

      I’m volunteering Christmas Day delivering dinners to housebound older people, then eating my own weight in turkey and stuffing when I get home. I used to love Christmas but since losing a parent and being supremely dumped this year I can’t face any family get togethers and the associated drama. I spent Christmas alone once before on vacation in Boston and it was heaven :)

      1. Anonyby*

        I think I need to plan a Christmas vacation for next year. That’s something I could look forward to (though I feel guilty at people working on a holiday just so I can have fun–I have the same issue with seeing movies on Christmas).

    15. Windchime*

      I’m not this year, but I have in the past. I just make sure to have all my favorite snacks and treats, maybe a little booze and a good book or craft project. The first time I spent Christmas alone, I was afraid that it would be a bummer but actually I just sat around eating fudge and reading a great book, and it turned out fine.

      Happy Holidays!

    1. the gold digger*

      Change a diaper on an upholstered chair in the Delta lounge – when there was a perfectly good diaper-changing station in the ladies. (And probably in the men’s – and for sure in the family bathroom.)

      1. Ange*

        We had someone do that in the waiting room at work, literally a couple of meters from the baby changing room. So weird.

      2. Airport Shenanigans*

        I changed my then 12 month old son’s clothes in the middle of the airport once. I’d used the ladies room changing table to change his diaper, but then his clothes got wet and the line for the only changing table was huge. He was wet, cold and crying, so I just stripped off his pants and shirt in a corner (using a large standing ad and my husband as shields!) and put him in dry pjs. I’m sure people thought I was crazy, but he stayed in his diaper the whole time!

    2. Cath in Canada*

      Douse themselves in perfume just before getting on a 10 hour flight. I’m glad I wasn’t sitting next to her!

      We met someone in an airport bar once who had a serval kitten with him – that was pretty cool!

      On a trip to Cuba, there was a woman right behind us in the check-in queue who kept up a very loud running commentary on absolutely everything that was happening, in a weird fake posh British accent (the rest of her large family group sounded 100% Canadian). Every sentence started “Mother”. We get to our resort many hours later – guess who’s in the next room? (Luckily they moved to a different room because she complained – loudly – about the first one). To this day, if we hear someone being obnoxious in an airport, one of us will say “Mother” in a fake posh British accent.

      1. Clever Name*

        I sat next to a pair of puppies on a plane. They were teeny and cried, but I decided it was adorable (because, seriously puppies) rather than getting annoyed at the noise.

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          I was reading the inflight magazine on a plane the other week and there was an article about flying with animals and how the flight to Nice was always oversubscribed with people wanting to travel with their dogs. Apparently the maximum number of pets allowed was 4, one in the cabin at the front of the plane, one at the rear and two in the luggage hold.

          Somebody had also once tried to travel with a (pre-booked) hedgehog.

          1. Clemmy Clue*

            Friend of mine once flew with his pet bunny as carry-on luggage. He wanted to take the bunny out for a cuddle (he was an unlicensed therapy bunny for my friend) but was worried about him getting loose because of his name.

            The bunny’s name was Lucifer and my friend said he couldn’t imagine running down the aisle after a run-away bunny calling ‘Lucifer! Lucifer, get back in your carrier!’ :P

            1. Chocolate Teapot*

              The article said that even if your pet was with you in the cabin, you were not allowed to take it out of its carrier during the flight.

              I’m still wondering why somebody wanted to transport a hedgehog. (The airline refused)

              1. paramilitarykeet*

                I have a pet hedgehog! And if I were relocating by plane, I would need to fly with him. I normally board him at the vet or with friends when I travel. He’s a grumpy old man.

    3. Airport Shenanigans*

      I saw one guy attempting to check in to his flight on the kiosk next to me and it wasn’t working. He went at got the ticket agent who came to help him. This was their conversation:

      Traveler: I can’t check in.
      Agent: (Asks for flight info to enter into the kiosk computer)
      Traveler: I entered that and it says I’m too early. But my flight is in two hours.
      Agent: I’m not sure, you should be able to check in. That flight takes off in a few hours. Let’s try entering your credit card instead of confirmation number.
      (Presses buttons and such)
      Oh! Here’s the problem! Your flight is tomorrow!
      Traveler: Oh. I guess I better call a ride…

      1. Jen RO*

        A couple of years ago I had a friend in the Peace Corps, stationed the in European country where I live. I was in the capital, she lived in a different city. One day, I get a phone call from her asking if she can spend one night at my place… She had traveled to the capital, gotten to the airport, and realized she was one day early for her flight to visit her son. Oops. As I told her – at least she wasn’t a day late!

    4. Mephyle*

      This was … how long ago? – more than 10 years, maybe 15 or so. Anyway, it was the early years of e-tickets and before the era of smartphones. The scene: lining up to check in on a stopover in Phoenix. A youngish but not extremely young (maybe late 20’s) man scuttling agitatedly between one line and the next, nervously asking someone in each line what airline and what flight they were waiting for, and barely waiting for the answer before dashing on to the next. I heard just enough to discover what had put him in such a tizzy. He had an e-ticket, knew his flight was leaving soon, but didn’t have the vital details, such as what airline he was supposed to fly on. We moved on and never did find out whether he found his flight.

    5. FDCA In Canada*

      Not exactly at the airport, but on a plane–you know how people will bring sandwiches or portable, neat-ish food to eat on the plane? I was on an hour-long commuter flight, and a woman sat down across the aisle from me and unpacked about four tupperware containers–one was leftover ribs (which she ate in the traditional rib fashion, of course, with her hands), one was a block of cheese with crackers which she proceeded to slice with each cracker, one had lettuce, and one had several smaller containers that she used to dress the salad with croutons, dressing, little bits of stuff. I have never seen anyone devote such gusto to eating on a lane.

      1. Jeannalola*

        We were in the boarding line and a girl rummages in her bag, finds deodorant (roll on), raises her arms and applies it going down the jet bridge.

    6. Girasol*

      Spin with a drop spindle. Her carry-on was a big bag of wool. She said settled her mind, and indeed she was an island of calm in a crowd of fidgety delayed passengers.

      1. M-C*

        +1 although i usually knit instead, because yarn is more compact, and even a drop spindle needs a bit more arm room than is usually provided in the cattle class.

      1. Windchime*

        A friend and I were coming back from Hawaii once and our seat-mate (a young lady) actually started doing yoga in her seat. As in, she stood up on her seat and did yoga poses on her seat while crouching under the overhead luggage bin. My friend and I were seriously side-eyeing the Yoga lady. At one point, her butt was pretty much in my friend’s face. It was weird.

    7. ginger ale for all*

      My friend and I saw a break up. This twentiesh woman who was scantily clad yelled out at this guy “And you will never see these again!” and shook her large boobs at him. He responded that he had paid for them. It went from there. My impression is that she might have been a stripper. My take away was that if you pay for someone else’s boobs, you aren’t going to get visiting rights if you break up.

    8. Mela*

      I know this will get all the cat people in a tizzy, but the guy ahead of me in security put a cat through the X-ray. The TSA officer was freaking out asking everyone and he nonchalantly said the cat was his.
      “Sir, why did you put your cat through the X-Ray?!”
      “I thought you had to X-ray everything, right?”
      “Uh…not living things! We would have hand-checked the carrier!”
      “Oh. Well, it’s my wife’s cat, anyways.”
      And then he walked away. TSA lady and I shared a shocked look.

  9. Nonynony*

    So insecure in my LDR right now. The other night my sig other went out with a friend he had feelings for before we started dating and I was just uneasy about it and the selfie they took. Am I being overly sensitive?

    1. fposte*

      Could be, could be not. Do you otherwise feel connected and supported? Are you getting a chance to go out and have fun where you are? Have you and he talked about what kinds of things make the other feel anxious and threatened while you are apart and are you pretty good about respecting that?

      I think it’s possible it’s time to have that last conversation if you haven’t, but after you’ve had a chance to process a little so it’s not an anxiety explosion. I don’t think it’s inherently wrong to go platonically out with an ex when you’re involved–I do it with some frequency and it’s not something any partner would need to worry about–but it’s also not wrong to consider and discuss what’s important in nurturing a relationship. (BTW, unless he’s a real jackass, I’d worry more if he *didn’t* FB it.)

      1. Chilleh*

        +100000 to everything fposte has said, and this is by someone who had a LDR that encountered all of these situations. We are now living together and I couldn’t be happier, but it was a little bit of a rough road getting here initially. The important thing is to have those conversations that fposte has said and making sure the results of your discussion works for both you and him after time to process it.

          1. Chilleh*

            It was about 3-4 years or so. We had met online and would visit each other whenever we had the time and money. Eventually he got a job in a city where he could afford to support the both of us (I was going back to school full time) and asked me to join him.

      2. Dan*

        Re: FB

        Interesting. I don’t do FB, and mostly for this reason. Granted, I’m not in a committed relationship, but I just don’t want my personal life out there for all to see and judge. (Or for that matter, having to answer the question, “Why don’t you want *me* in your selfie too?”)

      3. nonynony*

        he actually texted me the pic before he posted it and it still made me uneasy. and I feel bad because my personal insecurities and horrible dating history should not be his problem, which I why I have yet to bring it up. But maybe I should.

        1. fposte*

          It can be tough to find the line between not making a current partner pay for the sins of the past and the headspace and being who you are. But I think also there’s a difference between saying “I am anxious when we’re apart, and therefore you can never talk to anybody else” and “I am anxious, and I think I’ve been trying too hard to pretend that I’m not. Can we talk about some of the challenges of an LDR?”

    2. Allypopx*

      Communication is so, so important in long distance relationships. If it’s bothering you then you guys should talk about it. And it’s something perfectly reasonable to be bothered by. You can feel however you feel, and your feelings are valid, but it’s how you react to your feelings that matters. You guys just need to talk it out because bottling up that kind of discomfort is just going to drive you crazy and that’s not healthy.

    3. BTW*

      If it makes you feel better or a little less irrational (lol), I’ve been with my husband for 12 years, married for 5, and while I have gotten over my jealousy issues (I used to be crazy when it came to that) there are still 1 or 2 women I would feel uneasy about DH spending time with alone. Not because I don’t trust him, I know he loves me and would never do anything. But these are girls (I guess now women) he knew when he was younger that he always liked but who “friend zoned” him. Not to mention he has grown into an amazing, supportive man, is as attractive as ever and because of that, I don’t trust these women. They’ve had terrible relationships/husband’s and I can see them seeing my husband as a “night in shining armour.” But he’s MINE!!! lol ;) As others have said, communication is key. Talk it out.

    4. Dan*

      One person’s “I don’t care” is another person’s deal breaker.

      At the same time, I firmly believe if the relationship is meant to be, it’s meant to be, and imposing “rules” on the other doesn’t change that. I mean, if you’re dating a glass bowl and tell him you’re uncomfortable with him hanging out with female friends and posting selfies on the internet, the only behavior that is going to change is he will stop posting the selfies on FB.

      I knew things were over with my ex when I started lying to her about where I was going. Even something as innocuous as a birthday party could be used against me during a later fight. I learned quick that what she doesn’t know she couldn’t use against me.

      1. nonynony*

        I don’t plan on asking him to not be friends with her but fposte is right and when I see him next we need to have that conversation – I don’t think he is insecure about much if anything but I also haven’t asked so I think it is definitely a conversation that we need to have.

  10. Lissa*

    I have a pet peeve and I don’t know if I’m being unreasonable. It’s people who say things like “If I’d been there, I would have punched him!’ in response to something like a bad customer story, or a person being rude in public. Or statements like “He’s lucky he didn’t do that to me!” I have somebody in my life who does this *all the time* as well as imagining he’d be the heroic one any time a story comes up about people freezing in a crisis/emergency, despite never having been in a situation like this. And, he really does think he’d react like that, it’s not just a situation where he’s saying “I would” in place of “I’d like to”.

    I always have to majorly bite my tongue from saying something snarky. But I feel like very often people think “I’d never let myself be treated like that!” and it sort of implies that others are weak or “letting themselves” be treated badly. I really feel like if everyone who thought they’d punch a coworker who did Thing X actually did, we’d have way more workplace violence.

    1. fposte*

      It’s a perfectly reasonable position, because I share it. It’s a somewhat more malignant version of the way people, including me, check the time and place of a crime to feel like it wouldn’t have happened to me.

      We had some amazing comments and posts here a few years ago from a commenter named Marie on the topic of domestic abuse and violence. And one of her points that most resonated with me is that when you imagine dealing with this situation, you’re imagining yourself at your best, in your comfortable and well state that you are when, say, reading comments on the internet. In reality, you’re almost never like that when you encounter violence or danger; that’s one of the reasons why training for jobs of that kind often make a point of working you when you’re tired, so you can firefight, say, for longer than a couple of hours. For that matter, actual rehearsal of what you do is huge in ensuring you can actually do it under stress–just telling people isn’t enough. (I’m starting to walk staff through our emergency exits in orientation for just this reason.)

      The other thing is that what some people say they would do often is a lot worse than what happened anyway. You get into the “it’s not a crime if you do it to an asshole” fallacy, where people claim they’d punch or vandalize somebody for saying somebody horrible. Cool, then you’re the one with the criminal record.

      1. Lissa*

        I sometimes wonder if things like movies/TV shows play a part, because nearly every “good” character in fiction rises to the occasion and behaves heroically. Only “bad” characters freeze and run away, when in real life things like the bystander effect or freezing in a crisis have nothing to do with morals. I wish instead of reading stories that involve many people not stepping in, we wouldn’t think “all those people are terrible! humanity is the worst!” while smugly thinking we’d have done it better, we’d look at what we can do to change those responses. Like you said, rehearsal and practise are huge.

        I think there’s a lot of hero fantasy at play with those comments, like the hypothetical “I’d go on a vigilante spree if anyone hurt my family member” when in reality that almost never happens.

        1. fposte*

          Oh, I hadn’t even thought about the movie/TV part, and I think you’re right. We all think we’ll be the hero in everybody’s story.

          And I think everybody gets the desire; hurrah, we will save the day and demonstrate our true awesome power, so the bad person is humbled and everyone things we’re awesome and applauds. There are enough wish-fullfillment anecdotes running around to make that template clear :-).

          Laurence Gonzalez’s Deep Survival is an interesting book to read for natural survival realities, and one of the things I like is that he acknowledges that you can know all this and still blow it (he’s in the mountains with his daughter and makes some really stupid mistakes). The human brain has some natural tendencies that can work against our utility in some emergency situations.

          1. EmmaLou*

            Saving Private Ryan was a huge eye-opener for a dear friend. He said, after watching, “I always like to think I’d be the hero, but the chance is still good, that I could be the guy so scared in the tower that I don’t get the ammo to them. He was a good guy, just terrified in the moment because it’s war, not cops and robbers at home with your brothers.”

            1. fposte*

              Conversely, there’s a great book by Jill Paton Walsh from about twenty years ago called Grace, a novel about the real-life Victorian girl, the daughter of a lighthouse tender, who rowed out and saved men from a doomed boat. And the fame does this complete number on her, and she decides she’s an imposter because she was thinking about the financial reward she’d be bringing her family when she saved people. (I think it’s one of her rescuees who tells her that to the people she rescued it doesn’t matter what motivated her.)

              Even when we do the right thing, it’s not necessarily for what movies would consider the right reasons.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I get what you mean, there is like an air of superiority to the comments. Even adding a few words, such as “You handled it so much better than me, I would have decked him and I would be in jail!” changes the tone.

      I don’t know the whole conversation, maybe you can try to see it as a show of support in some manner. The person does see a problem with the incident.

      Or if this one person does this consistently maybe it is time to stop telling them these stories.
      OTH, you could say, “I was looking for sympathy/commiseration, I know you feel pretty sure you would handle it, so really, just a sympathy nod was what I needed here.”

      If you are feeling really nervy, maybe you can suggest you both role play the situation so you can see what he would do. Then you can point out that the boss frowns on these things or you might get fired, etc. In other words challenge him to work through is own ideas.

      Lastly, you could go to the root of the problem and maybe read up on how to handle difficult people/situations. Your solution maybe to find ways not to let stuff getcha. Not a waste of time, either; it’s an investment because I swear there are difficult people everywhere. (I am sure that some out there think that I am difficult. It depends on the situation and what is going on.)

      1. Lissa*

        I think part of it for me is that I always want to debate comments like that, and say things like “really, I don’t think you actually would” but calling somebody a liar is never helpful. But all I can think is “oh, yeah, well if you would punch someone for that type of offense how are you not in jail already” or some other snarky remark that points to the fact that I’m pretty sure he/most people would not in fact haul off and punch someone, and if they did it would not be a good thing!

        1. fposte*

          Internet tough-guyism didn’t start with the Internet.

          But I also think that is often a voice of inexperience. People who say things like that often haven’t seen a lot or been in positions where they were keenly aware of their own frailties and mortality.

    3. Anion*

      I hate that, too.

      I admit I have on occasion said it, but only when I’ve been in a similar situation and/or know for a fact that I would have done whatever it was (and it’s pretty much never “punched him,” it’s more like “asked for a manager,” or something).

      I will never forget a comment someone made years ago about a scene I’d posted on my blog, wherein my MC’s boss made her do a work-related thing she wasn’t eager to do. The reader’s response was “She’s a wimp, she should have told him to fuck off.” I was pretty stunned at that. Like, really? You would have told your boss to fuck off for pointing out that you needed to do something that’s part of your job? You think it’s wimpy not to cuss out your boss for reminding you of a task you’re paid to do? I guess it’s good that you don’t need to work for a living, but my MC does, so…

    4. Mookie Ball*

      I don’t think you “really” know what you’ll do unless/until you’re actually involved in the situation.

      It’s like a game show where the audience is telling the contestant to give back the cash and go for the box. It’s not *their* money, so there are no consequences for them either way.

  11. My*

    How do you not let other people’s lack of interest not hurt your feelings? My brother is extremely self involved and when he went on his first big vacation ever recently I called him to ask him all about it. Yet when he found out (through my mom) that I got a dog (my first one ever) he didn’t reach out to me and when I mentioned it to him he was very blase in his reaction. I should be used to this since he’s never shown excitement, let alone interest, in anything going on in my life but it still hurts my feelings. For context we are adults, ten years apart (I’m the older one), and I’m female.

    1. fposte*

      If this were a romantic partner, I’d suggest that this is a compatibility issue that may not be resolved; with family, I’d say what you do is reframe your thinking and change your standards.

      People can have very different tacit lists of things you do in relationships. Not everybody has “recognize a new development in somebody’s life” on the list; he may not have cared whether you called him about his vacation or not, and it doesn’t occur to him that somebody else would care if he called them about a new dog. It’s like PayPaling somebody $50 out of the blue would be to you–a nice thing, possibly, but not something on your list of things that you have to do to be close.

      So I think there are two possibilities: talk to him, to see not just if you can nudge him to call you but to see if there’s something that can mean closeness for *both* of you; or accept that this is him, and it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s not invested in you as your brother but that he’s just not a daily things guy.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Family! grrr.
      Not everyone can give us what we need from them.

      I had started a new job in a short period I got promoted five times. (I started way at the bottom.) I told a family member that I got promoted at work. I never finished the story. “Oh that is nice, NSNR. Did I tell you my sis had a heart attack?” I almost cried, I was trying to say that I would not lose my house because of the promotions, this person was totally, totally out to lunch here.

      I was late 40s and family member was early 60s. This crap NEVER ends.

      Tell yourself that your bro cannot share you joy with you. The reasons don’t change anything so don’t get bogged down in reasons. Look for people who will share your joy. For example, I bet at least 20 people here will congratulate you on your pup.

      I have a person in my life who I would like to share things with. But like you describe here she looks at me like I am mommy or something, needs constant approval, constant concern, etc. If she is not the focus then it’s not good. It’s been decades, she just cannot think of herself as my peer. She is only a year and a half younger than me. It gets tiring, I know. Look for other people to fill in your gaps.

      PS. What did you get? how old is the little guy?

      1. My*

        You’re so right – other people in my life have shown way more enthusiasm for things that have happened to me than my family ever has, yet they wonder why it’s gotten to the point where I don’t even bother telling them stuff until well after it happens.

        I know exactly how you feel where you can’t even finish delivering the good news before they cut you off to talk about themselves. When I purchased my first home and was excitedly telling my family about it, the same brother was like “that’s nice, but check out these cool t-shirts I got!” Uh, really?!? I completely understand that someone else’s life is most interesting to themselves, but even if I couldn’t care less, I know it would be hurtful to the other person if I didn’t show enthusiasm and interest in what they are telling me. It’s just common courtesy IMHO.

        P.S. We adopted an 8 week old Shih Tzu mix.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          8 weeks, awww, how precious. Your first dog, this is exciting. Having a dog is one of the most rewarding things I have found yet. No matter how crappy my day is my dog is always happy to see me. Have fun, you will have to let us know how it’s going.

        2. M-C*

          Don’t let other peoples’ ideas of what a good sibling relationship would be like blind you to the reality of yours. I was in my 40s before I came to terms with the fact that one of my sisters, also about 10 years younger, never liked me back at all, and her only interest ever was envy. I’ve been so much happier since I’ve been indifferent back. And it’s allowed me to concentrate fully on the sister who, just as unaccountably, does love me.

    3. Lissa*

      I think there’s two possibilities, one is that he’s very self-involved and the other that he is just not the type of person who reacts with excitement. I can be like the second thing, and have gotten friends upset with me for not showing appropriate emotion towards their big life events, so I try to make myself remember but it doesn’t come naturally to me. I am also personally not somebody who cares if friends remember mine — it can be nice but I would never notice if someone didn’t.

      So for me I would look at whether he expects you to react with excitement and interest to *him* but then can’t reciprocate it, or if he’s just kind of blase in general, and go from there.

      1. chickabiddy*

        I agree that communication styles could be the issue more than lack of caring. I am also personally closer to the less-excited end of the spectrum. For better or worse, I’m more likely to buy a friend a (small) gift on a whim because it made me think of her than to remember that it’s her anniversary. And honestly, I would never expect either of my siblings to show a lot of interest in my vacation. If your family doesn’t demonstrate care and support in other ways then I agree that you may want to re-evaluate how much effort *you* put into the relationships, but it’s also worth taking a step back to see if the love is there and the communication needs fine-tuning.

    4. Temperance*

      Women are socialized to do a lot of emotional labor, especially when it comes to family. That’s probably at least part of the reason that you felt the need to reach out to talk to your brother about his vacation.

      I’m more like your brother, FWIW. I’m not a phone talker, and it wouldn’t occur to me that someone would expect a phone call because they got a dog. I’m also not a big “family” person, either (which has caused me endless grief, because I don’t meet other people’s expectations and don’t like having any expectations).

      1. My*

        Oh he loves talking on the phone. I’m the one who would rather text with him. Why? Because when he calls, this is me – “Uh huh, mmm hmmm, well..” and not much more because I literally cannot say anything unless I’m prepared to interrupt his rambling. And that’s even if he’s asked me a question! He will keep talking after he asks a question. I feel completely mentally exhausted after our calls.

    5. Jessesgirl72*

      I’d like to know this myself.

      My husband told my MIL we have a confirmed pregnancy (via surrogate) and her reaction was basically “That’s nice”

      We told everyone else this week, and on FB then she showed (pretended) a little more excitement, but seriously, we had more reaction from just friends and people at church than from her.

      I just try to tell myself that it’s her loss.

      1. Temperance*

        It actually is her loss, though. Not yours.

        Just remember, your MIL is the one missing out, not you. You have friends, family, and church members who are happy for you and who will welcome your baby into their lives. That is a wonderful thing.

      2. My*

        Congrats on the pregnancy! You would think she’d be thrilled to be a grandma, or at least pretend to be for the sake of the relationship. It IS her loss but that doesn’t stop your feelings from understandably being hurt.

        I think that’s the part that hurts the most – that the people closest to you are less excited for you than someone who is more or less a stranger or merely an acquaintance. I would expect more support from family than friends but often it doesn’t seem to work out that way.

      3. ginger ale for all*

        Is she the kind of person who is cautious about getting excited until after the first trimester passes?

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          No. She’s an OB/GYN. And she never gets excited about things that take attention away from her- either good or bad.

          Like, when my husband told her he’d been diagnosed with MS, all she could talk about was herself, and how she was the “link” between her sister and my husband, so she might get it. And never mind my husband who just found out he actually had it.

          It’s all about her, all the time. Occasionally it gets to be about my SIL. But never her 3 sons.

    6. Dan*

      You try super hard to understand that other people have a different belief and values system than you do, and it’s not your job to convince them that yours is the correct view of the work.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if your brother views you as more of a parent than a peer. My ex’s sister was 10 years older than she was, and that relationship was not one of two peers. I also gotta figure there might be a little bit of jealousy or something (I might be using the wrong word here,…) I know for me that my ex SIL and BIL, being 10 years older than we were, were in a much different place in their lives, and it could be hard to relate to. They had four kids, we had none. They had a million dollar house, we rented a 1 bedroom apartment, the list goes on a bit. They were in such different places that relating to them could be hard sometimes.

      I take substantial vacations, e.g. I take off for a month and travel to far corners of the world. Even when people can be bothered to ask me how my trip is, I can barely say more than “great” before many change the subject. Hello, I just spent a month in places most people can only dream about, and they don’t even want to know where I went?

      It’s to the point where I’m just as content if they don’t ask at all. I can understand that some people might not want to have a real conversation because they have absolutely no clue about many of the places that I’ve been, and they don’t want it to show. It could very well be the same with your brother — he may not be interested in dogs, so doesn’t want to have a conversation about something he has no clue about.

      Beyond all that, some of us are just not wired to acknowledge big events for the sake of it.

      1. My*

        I think you’re absolutely right about the parent thing AND the jealousy thing.

        Back when I was 25 and he was 15 I brought my first new car home and we all took a test drive. All he did was complain (from the backseat) how it must be SO nice to have a new car even though he didn’t even have a drivers license yet! He always changes the topic back to him whenever something happens to me. I rarely even bring up stuff to him because I know that’s going to happen, but with the dog situation I expected more out of him because he loves dogs. He goes on and on about his girlfriend’s dogs often so I would have thought he would have been more enthused about mine.

        1. Dan*

          I’m not saying this is your fault or anything, I’m just pointing out what “is.”

          You will always be ten years older than him. That includes ten years of more life experience, more years at work, more money in the bank (presumably). It’s extremely awkward when you’re the younger one — you feel like you’re spending your whole life “catching up” and never do. I know it’s not a race, but kids are more or less supposed to be equal. You have one hell of a head start, and that’s never going to change.

          It’s funny, I’m the oldest of two, and was an academic standout in my younger days. At the time, I used to wonder how my brother felt, because any comparison to me wouldn’t be fair. I never had to play catchup with anybody, and was always blazing trails.

          Then I met my ex in my late 20’s, who was the youngest of three. It was so odd having older siblings-in-law that were way further down the “life track” than you were.

          This is something that I can’t articulate very well, but I understand where your brother is coming from. Keep in mind this is a mindset that been developing over 20 years. It’s really, really hard to understand until you’ve been there. You have ALWAYS been doing something first, and he’s always been tucked in the wings.

          Really, I just think he has no idea how to relate to you as a peer, or how much you truly want him to. I’m not saying you haven’t told him — I’m saying that even if you have, it didn’t sink in. You’re dealing with years of this established relationship, and the dog thing is actually a pretty clear example. For all of the other things he’s had to acknowledge in your life, he has to acknowledge this too?

          Trust me, I’m not trying to point any fingers here, because I don’t think this is any of your faults at all. What’s really the issue is the dynamic, and your brother may not be able to work through this in a constructive manner without some help. TBH, I think he needs a safe place to tell someone he’s jealous over you, where nobody will judge him for it. You’re not wrong for always being first, and he’s not wrong for hating always coming in second.

          Signed, the guy whose ex-wife had a one bedroom apartment and her sister had a one million dollar house.

        2. M-C*

          I totally understand the reasoning about the large difference setting you up for a bad relationship with the siblings. And it makes sense, when my one sister was becoming conscious the parents were treating me like an adult, I was in college while she was in kindergarten, of course. She’s stayed stuck in that feeling that someone who was supposed to be her equal got many things she couldn’t. But the weird part is that there’s none of that dynamic with the sister 15 years younger. Maybe that’s also a matter of age, that I was truly an adult, a more remote one? Maybe just personality ☺

    7. Lady Julian*

      Oooo, that stinks. I feel for you.

      I have a brother in law who puts zero effort into keeping up any kind of relationship with me; he doesn’t even sign the birthday cards that his wife (my sister) sends me every year. My parents are nobler than I am and make an effort to visit them occasionally, but I have decided that I’m not going to put the effort into keeping up a relationship with him on my part. You don’t want to be friends with this family you married into? Fine, have it your way.

      It’s different when it’s your blood family, I think – good luck with your situation.

      1. My*

        Thanks. I used to chalk up his behavior to immaturity but at this point I don’t see it ever changing so I really have to change my expectations. Once in awhile he throws me a (very small) bone and asks about something and I start thinking things are going to improve but nope.

        I think the part that bothers me the most is that a few years ago he was lamenting to me how he wishes we had a closer relationship yet he does nothing to foster that. I make all the effort and unless it’s convenient for him he will outright ignore my texts. Also, he says a lot of passive aggressive things that he tries to play off as “jokes” just like our mother does (and they really don’t get along probably because they are so much alike).

        1. Not So NewReader*

          He’s too much aware of living in your shadow. Matter of fact that probably is at the forefront of his thinking most of the time.

          I tried talking to my family member about being her equal/peer. It helped some but not a lot. Keep the door open on the topic of your relationship together.

          Life is strange with all its twists and turns in the story line. Something could change what you see now. Or not. No way to know. Meanwhile, you can insist that he mean what he says and says what he means. No passive aggressive junk, or any other crap. When he insists on passing things off as jokes, tell him you do not like that kind of humor. And stick to this as a go-to comment. Use a flat voice or a bored tone, “I don’t like that kind of humor.” I have gotten results with this tactic. but it takes a while, so you may need to do it more than a few times.

          And yes, he will continue to toss you a small one just to keep you hoping and following along.

        2. Dan*

          I don’t think he can really make these changes on his own, so take his bones in stride for what they are. You might (and I emphasis might) be able to suggest therapy to him. When he says he wants a closer relationship with you, tell him you do to. You can also acknowledge that it’s hard being in your wing all of the time, and you don’t resent him or thing he’s wrong for feeling that way. But his resentment is going to delay any meaningful change, and you think that discussing it with a therapist would be really productive. Tell him you know he needs a place where he can say what’s on his mind and not get judged for it, because he’s not wrong for thinking it.

    8. ginger ale for all*

      I just pull away bit by bit with people who treat me like that. Years ago I had a health scare and I was being tested for a serious problem and I told my family about it. Not one person ever asked what the test results were. Not one. I pulled back emotionally on them and noticed that they just don’t call period. I had been the one picking up the phone. Now I put more energy and time into people who care about me. The relationships are more even. So my advice is to accept them as they are and put more energy into the people who truly appreciate you as you want to be.

    9. Mookie Ball*

      Back in the days when I used to do open mike spoken word, there was one time where I was one of two featured readers. I was so happy because the event was listed in (what I considered to be) one of the city’s better “events” magazines.

      I proudly showed the listing to my father, and his first reaction was not congratulations, but “Who’s Jane Fergus?”

    10. Sofia*

      I don’t lnow to what degree your brother is doing this, but I’m the older sister of a younger brother and I’ve definitely done what your brother does (e.g brother tells me something nice he’s doing and I respond with either a ‘one upmanship’ tale of my own or a snarky/teasing comment about what he said) I really don’t mean to do this and I’ve probably only noticed it because I’ve moved away so don’t see him much anymore, so it kinda jars with me when I catch myself doing it. The last time he told me something lovely, I responded with some counter tale of “look at me!” And as the words were coming out of my mouth I was thinking, wow what a jerk I am! I wonder if it is some sort of hard programmed sibling rivalry thing? I literally don’t do it with any one else. Does your brother? I’m going to be extra aware of how I respond to him over the holidays.

  12. Sandy*

    Recommendations for indoor/outdoor winter boots?

    Backstory: my new job has me going from one building to another to another in a series of meetings. I live in Canada, so just wearing regular shoes or boots isn’t an option. But wearing big winter boots like Sorels isn’t great either- I either wind up looking unprofessional in my big boots and having my feet sweat like crazy (winding up with cold feet later thanks to the sweat) or I have to carry a big bag o’shoes around with me and change at every meeting. Really not ideal.

    Does anyone have a suggestion for a fairly versatile boot that could go between both? I realize I’ll have to give up some level of comfort (likely in the warmth department) and only the big boots will work during the big snowfalls (20 cm today!).

    1. Amy*

      LLBean has a pair that are leather and flannel lined. I love mine. Warm and not too clunky looking. Wide enough for warm socks, too. Mine are 10+ years old, so there may be differences from the cipurrent version. Even road salt just wipes off.

    2. KR*

      I like a pair of mid length leather (or pleather if you’d prefer) boots. The trick is to wear warm socks and use camp dry to water seal them every so often. I tuck my pants into them so my clothes don’t get wet and they keep me warm and dry.

    3. AnonEMoose*

      How about something like these: https://sonofsandlar.com/product/four-button-boot/

      They’re not cheap. But these are my current Renaissance Festival boots, and I have worn them to the office on numerous occasions as well. They are extremely comfortable (I add a pair of Dr. Scholl’s insoles), even on long days walking all over our local Renaissance Festival. The soles give decent traction, and they will last if you take care of them. (My current pair is now over 5 years old. They still look nearly brand new.)

      They’re not that warm, but decent socks inside do help.

      1. Red Reader*

        I have nine-button Sandlars and I can’t wear them to work without at least a half dozen “I love your boots!!” exclamations. :)

        1. AnonEMoose*

          I love my Sandlars – I’ve got the 4-button ones right now, but I want a pair of the longer ones eventually. I’d probably need to get custom ones, though – my calves are fairly thick.

    4. ck*

      Your situation is like mine. I finally bit the bullet, and bought good, waterproof, warm, stylish (appropriate for work inside and out) boots and booties. You absolutely do not need to be wearing Sorels. This weekend it is going down to -10 where I live in the US with lots of snow. My boots are great.

      La Canadiennes. They are the best. Pick a sleeker style. One knee height boot, one bootie. Choose the type of heel height/style that works for you.

      Wait until the after Xmas sales, and then pounce. If need be, wear an extra pair of socks in the boots, and take off the socks when you are inside if they get too hot.

      It i

      1. Sandy*

        I am really surprised to hear about the La Canadiennes. I am usually an LC evangelist, but my experience with them is that they are either super warm or nice dress shoes- not in between.


      2. Dynamic Beige*

        I’ve never heard of these… and now that I’ve seen the prices, I wish I hadn’t! I will continue to wear my Sorels and carry my shoes because ouch!

    5. Lore*

      Clark’s makes a gore Tex line–waterproof, insulated, sturdy, and nice looking. Mine are a few years old but they have a wedge heel and are pretty stylist. The sole is less textured than I’d like so they’re not ideal on ice but they’re great in slush and moderate snow.

    6. Lily Evans*

      I have these teva boots that have lasted me for years now that I like a lot! They do have some issues in the heat retaining dept, but as long as I pair them with wool socks, it’s usually fine. I also just ordered these which I’m really excited to try out! Also, Uggs actually has some waterproof boots that don’t look like traditional Uggs, but still have that lining and they’re supposed to be super warm!

      1. Wandering not lost*

        Seconding the Teva boots! I’ve worn my pair every day — literally — for a year on all kinds of surfaces. I like the tall shafted version best but, either way, they’re comfy and water resistant. They have grippy soles but don’t look rugged. The leather is oiled so they wear well and develop a nice “patina” over time. They’re also cute and versatile. I wear them with jeans, but they’d work with a skirt too.

      2. Clever Name*

        I was going to suggest these too! I have the tall ones. I’m in a similar situation where I walk between buildings at work, often through snow.

    7. AdAgencyChick*

      I have a pair of Aquatalia waterproof leather knee-high boots. They were a splurge but man, do I love them. I can wear them with a dress at work, and I can also splash through ankle-high mud puddles in them.

    8. LCL*

      Light hiking boots-they look and function like hiking boots, but are constructed like tennis shoes. I love Eddie Bauer brand, but there are many manufacturers out there. Keen’s are hugely popular here, but their fit is wonky in the larger sizes.

    9. E, F and G*

      I have had great luck with these guys

      They can be a bit cold at minus thirty and a bit warm in an overly hot office but do most in between temperatures quite well. The tread is deep enough to provide some grip in icy conditions but not so deep that you trail snow half way down the hallway.

      And they have been fairly easy to take care of, just use beeswax or something similar once a month and they stay pretty much leak free.

  13. Audiophile*

    Anyone have the echo dot or Google Home? I’m thinking about getting one, just not sure which.

    I’m an Android user, but the echo dot seems more appealing to me. I also think for the price it does more than Google Home currently does.

    1. Temperance*

      We just picked up an Echo Dot this week – funnily enough, a regift from someone who has Google Home and doesn’t want to make the switch.

      I like it, but we haven’t done much yet with it. I’m an Amazon fan, though, and excited to see how it works with my Fire TV.

      1. Audiophile*

        I don’t have Fire TV or a Chromecast, so those functions won’t make a difference to me.

        I take it the person you got the echo dot from really likes their Google Home?

            1. Temperance*

              She and her husband are Android users and they have a lot of Google products that are compatible with Google Home (including smart light bulbs!).

              We’re Android users, too, but we’re also Amazon people. I truthfully haven’t tried out the Fire TV compatibility, but we’re just getting used to it. I have linked my Pandora and asked it to play songs. I’m working on figuring out how to get my to-do list app (ToDoIst) to work, and updating my calendar.

              1. Audiophile*

                I don’t see the appeal of the Fire TV but I have a Tivo and DirecTV, so until I ditch those I’d probably have no use for Fire TV. I can stream Netflix and Hulu from my Blu-ray player or my laptop. And I have the HBO Go and Showtime apps on my smartphone.

                I broke down and bought an echo dot a few hours ago, it won’t come until the end of the month though.

                I perused through the various smart bulbs, I will admit they do look pretty cool. But after all the problems we went through the past few months with our FiOS router (turns out the battery in the box in the basement was dying, the one Verizon insisted was only used as a back up battery if the power went out lol) I don’t think I’d invest in smart bulbs yet.

    2. periwinkle*

      I bought a Dot when Amazon offered them at a pre-order discount. Now we have three. I primarily yell at Alexa for home stuff such as turning lights on/off using voice commands (we installed Belkin WeMo switches which are Alexa-compatible). For some reason the switch for the kitchen lights are in the living room so that alone made it worth the price! I also have a Joule sous vide device and can use the Dot to control that as well. I get a small kick out of ordering Alexa deals by voice – recently it offered one of those cat toys which are a circular track with a ball inside. Yup, had to order that one.

      Is it essential to my existence. No, except for that kitchen light thing. Is it worth it? For us, yes, because we’re early adopter geeks and like the convenience of voice commands.

      1. Audiophile*

        I have no smarthome stuff, but I may in the future.

        My biggest use out of either would likely be playing music, checking weather, calendar and traffic. I think price-wise, I’ll end up with the echo dot to start. I can’t see getting the full size echo.

        If Google offers another deal on Google Home, I’ll look into it. I kind of wish I had jumped on the deal last month when it was selling for $99.

    3. BRR*

      I have two echo dots and love then. The speaker in them is fine to me (and I didn’t think think I’d ever use them for music). I also have some Phillips hue bulbs.

  14. Alice Ulf*

    Hey, I just wanted to thank everyone who replied to my post last week, asking for advice about prescription cat food for my newly diagnosed old kitty. He’s doing much better! Right now, I’ve chosen the BFF line of food by Weruva, and he seems awfully happy with it. It is a lot of tuna though, so I’m trying other things to supplement it.

    Special shoutout to Bad Candidate for the recommendation to the felinediabetes.com website, which has been and no doubt will continue to be very helpful.

    Zachy thanks you all with the weird, snorty purring thing he does when he’s happy. ^o.o^

    1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Our kitties adore BFF wet food but agree, I wish they had more flavors than just tuna + (insert meat).

      Glad your kitty is happy!

  15. silverquill*

    A few weeks ago I asked for some subReddits’ recommendations: I bookmarked them all, but so far I only managed to check out /relationships (I gave it preference because I’m an advice column junkie).

    It IS addictive. Thank you Alison for giving me another site to spend tons of time on :P besides yours!

    1. Cath in Canada*

      I still haven’t quite figured out how Reddit works! It’s funny because I’ve picked up on other sites really quickly and intuitively, but Reddit still eludes me. I do try to follow a couple of threads, such as the Pacific Northwest Stories podcast page, but it’s overwhelming to me in a way that other sites aren’t.

      1. silverquill*

        I’m having some sort of problem with Reddit in that I find it difficult to keep track of things there. My brain has categorized it as chaotic, so I just skim the subReddits and read/save what I find interesting, without trying to make sense of the whole thing (if that makes sense =) ).
        It totally makes sense to me that you find it overwhelming, sometimes even the comment section here chez Alison is so crowded and fast-paced that I just give up and go back to read it a day or two after.

        PS I realized now that I wrote “sense” three times in a row, but I’m way too tired now to go back and revise!

    2. Maya Elena*

      I wouldn’t get into it too much. I haven’t plumbed its depths too much, but Reddit is addictive, and – if you land in the wrong places – can be an extremely toxic echo chamber. Ultimately it will just ruin your mood like as not. Also, I’ve recently had several unsettling experiences when I realized multiple unconnected people talking about the same things and voicing the same opinions they recently saw on reddit. So, in my opinion, it’s worth proceeding with caution there.

      If you are a sucker for advice columns, go and read the old posts (she’s not very prolific now) of Ms. Mentor – an advice columnist at Chronicle of Higher Education. You can also find her book (Ms. Mentor’s Impeccable Advice for Women in Academia).

      I also found the blog of a dating columnist whom I like to read, though most is not applicable to me. His name is Evan Marc Katz. The blog even has a comment section for which you don’t need any cumbersome registration.

      Good luck!

      1. silverquill*

        Believe me, I have no intention of exploring Reddit so much. I adjusted my use of social media years ago, since it was not healthy, and I’m confident I can keep doing well :) I have my rules of engagement, so to speak, and they work great for me.

        Thanks for the recommendations, those are new to me!

    3. Kit*

      r/legaladvice scratches an itch for me, though the mods and frequent commenters can lack tact. The problems are frequently interesting.

  16. The Other Dawn*

    So, my brother met with the doctor about his cancer diagnosis. The cancer in the esophagus as already stage 4, but there’s only a couple spots in the liver and stomach right now. It’s not as bad as I was expecting based on preliminary information, but definitely not good: with chemo he can expect the live 9-24 months. Without would be about 6-12 months. I was fully expecting them to say they can’t do any treatment at all, so this is actually good news. I was preparing to cancel my excess skin removal surgery that’s in February and now I don’t have to. Plus, we might even get to spend another holiday or two with him.

    For anyone that didn’t see my post last week, he was in prison for 30 years (I’m 42, so a good majority of my life; it wasn’t murder, rape or child-related). He got out 12 years ago and has built a great life; so many people revert back to a life of crime, or have PTSD, or just can’t conform to life on the outside. And now cancer comes to kick him in the balls.

    I need opinions. My mom had always said that she’d like to have a book written about my brother’s life. He started a life of crime very young–I remember her saying he stole a car at the age or 12 or something–so it would likely be an interesting read for family and friends. I like to write and have always wanted to write a book, so I’m thinking of asking him if he would be interested in doing this with me. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it to him, nor did my mom (she died in 2008) or anyone else. Do you think this is something I should pursue? I’m worried about bringing up a lot of really painful stuff for him, and I’m not sure I’m prepared to hear all about his life, both in prison and on the outside. I mean, I know it was a hard life, I know he’s done a lot of things (assault, drugs, theft), but I’ve seen movies and documentaries, and read books, detailing prison life, and I’m not sure I could deal with hearing about these things if they happened to him. I don’t even think I would publish it. It would just be a project, really.

      1. fposte*

        That last post had the name of two heinous crimes and the word “child.” My guess is that’s an auto-catch.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yes. And also, it’s good for people to know that sometimes the spam filter just makes weird decisions. Or if it malfunctions, it will send everything during that period to moderation. It’s nothing to worry about.

    1. Bobbie*

      It might be cathartic for him to tell all if you feel you are up to being the recipient. You could take notes or tape interviews. Then at some later point decide whether to write and/or share the story. But take it one decision at a time. 1) Are you prepared to bear witness for your brother, knowing that it may be grisly? 2) Is this something he feels would be beneficial for himself at this time?
      This is a big thing to consider doing. Even considering it is a big thing.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      FWIW, I have a friend who describes himself as a Recovering AH. I listened to his stories and yeah, he was an AH. (he stole a car,too.)
      The actual interesting part is how he stopped being an AH. Not my story to tell here and the story is beside the point, anyway. However, you might ask your bro what gave him the incentive to change his life around. Ask him about what he saw and learned, where his encouragement came from.

      You can start the convo just like here, “Mom said she’d like to have a book written about your life…..”

      And yes, definitely you will hear things you don’t want to hear. Make a plan for that. Since my friend is just my friend, not family, I can put some distance there. I focus on “but you stopped” or “but something inside you changed all that”.

      Ask. The worst that will happen is that he says no.

    3. Temperance*

      It’s honestly up to you and your brother. He might not want all the information about the horrible things he’s done out there in the world, especially if he’s terminally ill and has worked hard to stop hurting people and being a criminal. It would very likely change how friends and family see him. Then again, they know what he did, and that choir boys don’t get 30-year prison sentences.

    4. Catherine from Canada*

      A few years ago I helped my mom write her autobiography**. It was an interesting and rewarding experience, one that gave me a lot of insight into her behaviours and a lot of family history that I hadn’t previously known. It really helped me understand how to better manage our relationship too.
      I mean, she’s still not a very nice person, but at least I now know why, can see which behaviours are clearly her choice and which aren’t, and have been able to define and maintain certain boundaries that I couldn’t before.

      **Twenty Seven Kitchens, available on Amazon. We published it through Createspace, Amazon’s on demand publishing service. I’ve published several books that way, highly recommend it.

    5. Tala*

      Sorry to hear about your brother’s diagnosis – wish you all the best. Talk to him about the book idea, and if you go for it I’d recommend video type journalling of his story – either him freely picking up/leaving off or start each recording with one statement/question and let him tell his story organically. As he’s turned his life around he may want to leave the nitty gritty of what he’s done in the past, but might have elements he’s willing to share in his own words.

  17. Meg*

    Wisdom teeth! I have to decide between filling a small cavity in one of my wisdom teeth and just yanking them all out. My dentist is of the opinion that filling the cavity would be the more uncomfortable experience, and my oral surgeon says the surgery would be fairly easy because my wisdom teeth are all in, straight, etc. They aren’t the problem at all, just the small cavity.

    So I’m obviously leaning toward just taking them out, but I’ve been terrified of that specific procedure for years! I have a lot of dental anxiety in general, and I’ve never been under anesthesia before. Any words of wisdom? (Pun intended.) (And if you have a horror story about wisdom teeth, I’m very sorry that happened to you, but I don’t think that hearing about it would help my severe dental anxiety.)

    1. The Other Dawn*

      How old are you?

      I agree that pulling them out is the way to go. You don’t need them, and because they’re far back and touch to reach, it’s likely you could have problems down the road and have to have them out anyway, which is harder as you get older because the roots can grow and twist (sorry, don’t meant to scare you, but it happened to me).

      I had one top and one bottom done in my 20s, and then the other two in my 30s. My top ones were a piece of cake. They just popped right out because they grew in straight. My bottom ones, eh, not so much. Both grew in horizontal and had started decayed and cracking away. The first one was relatively easy because I was in my early 20s, but the second one was tough, as I was in my 30s and the roots had grown a lot more and twisted around the bone. Each time, though, I wasn’t asleep. They gave me the gas, which made me all tingly and I didn’t have a care in the world. And Novocaine, too, I’m sure.

      Bottom line, have them out now and don’t wait.

    2. KR*

      I too was very nervous. I get really squeamish about dental stuff and it wasn’t too traumatic for me. One thing that really helped is I told.my Orlando surgeon I was nervous about it and she gave me a valium for the night before and the morning of and she didn’t tell me anything about the procedure itself. All I remember was the recovery (definitly uncomfortable but you get to eat a lot of ice cream) and them telling me to count to ten while they put me under(which I barely remember either).

    3. fposte*

      When they’re in properly, it’s really not that big of a deal to remove them. I also don’t think the anesthesia is that deep–I was up and walking the dog later that day no problem. There wasn’t much post-op pain unless I accidentally got solid food back too far (rice pudding proved a problem there).

      That being said, I think this is a long-term call and not a short-term call; if you’ve got plenty of room for your wisdom teeth and they’re in fine, it’s not obligatory to take them out. If the cavity there is an indication that they’re tricky to maintain (can be a thing with teeth that far back), that suggest there is some long-term benefit from removal for you, and younger is easier than older for removal, so maybe that’ll tip the balance.

    4. lionelrichiesclayhead*

      I would definitely have them taken out. I had mine out when I was 12 (they weren’t showing yet so they had to go all up in there to dig them out) and it went fine. I was awake before I even know that I had been out and the recovery was fast. Had some minor pain the first few days that was handled with the pain meds.

      As another commenter said, even though they aren’t causing issues now, they are so far back and hard to reach that I wouldn’t be surprised if there were issues down the road due to not being able to brush them adequately. (not a reflection of your brushing, it’s just hard to get to)

    5. Jessi*

      When I had all 4 wisdom teeth removed in my late teens, (not enough space in my mouth and one was growing sideways) everyone was oh dear. Cue all the usual comments about the swelling and looking like a chipmunk. However, It went really well and if I had to do it again tomorrow I would be fine.

      I had an excellent, excellent oral surgeon and it all went well. I had great painkillers, my best friend babysat me and by the time I went back a week later to have the post surgery check I was down to 1 dose of pain meds before bed.

      I had numming to the gums and this magical drug that they give you which means you are awake but remember nothing – literally I remember the surgeon asking me to sit up further in the chair and thats it for just over an hour. Get a really good surgeon and go for it :)

    6. Bobbie*

      If your wisdom teeth are in and straight and not causing problems, removing them seems a bit extreme. They may need to be removed later in life, but then again they may need to be used as anchors for bridges or dentures later in life when other teeth are removed. My mother has dental appliances attached to wisdom teeth and is grateful to still have hers.

      1. M-C*

        Exactly. I had mine removed in my mid-20s because they were impacted and crowding out my other teeth, fillings were popping out and everything. It wasn’t a traumatic experience. But I’d have left them alone if I could, one can never have too many good teeth for the future

    7. Myrin*

      Everything about my wisdom teeth is a horror story – which I obviously won’t talk about here! – but maybe it helps to know that despite experiencing one of these “only one in ten thousand people get this!” scenarios there are no remnants of it and I don’t think about it at all anymore.

    8. blackcat*

      They can do different types of sedation. I’ve got the redhead resistance to anesthesia, so apparently I got laughing gas and something that just made me forget the entire experience (as in, I remember going to the appointment and my next memory is 12 hours later, waking up at home). While this was slightly disconcerting (and only doable since my mom was with me all day–I was a teenager), I managed to have basically zero side effects besides the memory loss (which was intentional by the doctor). I felt 100% fine when I woke up. Very little swelling, basically no pain, etc. I was just confused why I was in bed with my jacket and shoes still on! I only took ibuprofen for 2 days and didn’t need any additional pain meds.

      Mine had mostly come in, and apparently this makes the procedure much easier. With a good surgeon, you should be fine. If you have a friend/family member who can drive you and get you settled back at home, you can tell the surgeon that. It’s my understanding that many surgeons will give you stronger sedating medication if they know you don’t have to take a cab/etc to get home. So do your best to find someone to go with you and be with you afterwards. It can be a pretty easy experience!

      1. Red Reader*

        Redhead anesthetic response, amen.

        As someone with mass dental anxiety, triazolam (Halcion) was a godsend when I had dental surgery (14 massively damaged teeth removed after a physical assault). I took it right before leaving my apartment, and the next thing I knew I was on my couch going “don’t we have to go … I guess we went.” No awareness at the time and no memories later of the entire experience.

      2. Meg*

        So funny that you mention this because I’m a redhead, too, and that’s why I’m so anxious about anesthesia! :)

    9. BBBizAnalyst*

      I’d say get them removed. I had all of mine removed at 18. The way they grew in really affected the rest of my mouth (crowding, discomfort). Glad I got them out early as I ended up with adult braces a few years later and now my smile is spectacular.

    10. The dark trick*

      I’ve had mine removed. The top two were in straight and erupted like normal teeth and one had a cavity. Those were a piece of cake to have removed. My bottom two were impacted and required surgery to remove. They are the only thing I’ve ever been under anesthesia for. I too absolutely despise going to the dentist and my blood pressure goes sky high, so I feel you. I’d still recommend having them removed. Words of wisdom? Make sure you have someone to drive you home. Make sure you follow the instructions they give you; they’re important. Make sure whoever is taking you home reads those instructions too, so they can stop you from doing any of them, as you may be groggy still when you leave.

    11. BTW*

      Yank ’em out. You will heal better and faster considering that they are all in. I had mine out when I was 16 before they even came in because there would have been no room for them. Obviously I don’t miss them because they were never there. I couldn’t imagine having more teeth in my mouth haha! Having them out was my first and I think only general anesthesia procedure. It really wasn’t that bad. My parents opted for me to have an IV as opposed to gas. I was out like a light! Woke up hours later in a recovery room. I remember getting in the van and eventually being brought into my bedroom but not much else. I laid on the couch for 2 weeks. Again, only because I actually had to have a surgery (removing them before they came in which is more invasive) Most people I know who get it done these days are back up and at ‘er within like 2-3 days.
      Dentists offer a lot in the way of anxiety these days so don’t worry, you will be in safe hands!

    12. CMT*

      Getting my wisdom teeth out was very traumatic as it happened because I could hear all the yanking and scraping and what not, even if I couldn’t feel it. And I was home for the summer from college and my parents happened to be out of town, so I had to go home alone in pain, with a big swollen mouth. But, it was over and done with quickly and now I don’t have to worry about them. You might end up having to deal with cavities more than once, so I’d say just get rid of ’em now.

    13. periwinkle*

      I had all four of my wisdom teeth removed when I was in my late 40s, two per surgery. My dentist did local anesthesia, not general. If you have a skilled dental surgeon (ASK FOR RECOMMENDATIONS!) it’s not that bad.

      1. Find out *before surgery* what painkillers actually work on you. Luckily I knew that the usual Tylenol with codeine had almost no effect on me other than making me slightly nauseous. They gave me a prescription for a hydrocodone/ibuprofen combo (Vicoprofen) and that stuff was amazing. Thankfully it kicked in fast because when the anesthetic wears off, you will appreciate a good painkiller. I only ended up taking two pills each time and the second was precautionary rather than in response to pain. Once again, skill counts for a lot.
      2. Get someone to drive you if at all possible. I actually drove myself home the second time but would have preferred to just sit there quietly for a while!
      3. You will hear odd noises as they remove the teeth. This is a little freaky but entirely normal.
      4. If you feel any pain at all, signal immediately. Don’t try to be brave. They’ve got lots of numbing stuff, let them use it to make the procedure painless.
      5. Don’t try to talk afterward, you won’t have much control over your anesthetized mouth. Just chill out for a couple hours after the surgery. Pamper yourself.

      No horror story here – my surgeries went perfectly and I healed fast (yay for a great surgeon). The empty space in your mouth will feel odd for a little while but you won’t notice after a while.

    14. Annie Mouse*

      I had mine out at the start of the year, I was terrified! But it was far easier than the filling I had done a few years ago. And once I was numbed up, quicker too. Good luck!

    15. Amy*

      I had mine out as a teenager, but like yours they were all in straight with no problems or impaction. They were taken out as a precautionary measure. The procedure and recovery were super easy with hardly any swelling. My boyfriend at the time had his out the same week and had the whole chipmunk face, but his were impacted. I’d say go for it. Also: it’s hard to say whether it really helps, but eating fresh pineapple before the procedure (before the cutoff for no food/liquids) and during recovery is supposed to help prevent swelling. I did it because I like pineapple and figured it couldn’t hurt.

      1. KR*

        Mine was a precautionary measure too!! And to help with TMJ pain. I remember that this was before the ACA passed mandating that people stay on their parents insurance until 26. The concern was that the procedure was so expensive that if the teeth were formed we should just have it done while I had dental and health insurance.

    16. Cookie D'oh*

      I had mine removed when I was 18 and the whole thing went very smoothly. I believe I had a IV to knock me out. I don’t remember anything about the procedure. The only negative effect was feeling nauseous from the drugs. The recovery was very smooth and I don’t recall having that much pain or swelling afterwards.

    17. Tris Prior*

      When I was in my 20s, the dentist told me, “Your wisdom teeth aren’t really causing problems right now, but you should probably get them out anyway.” I blew him off.

      Fast forward to my 40s, when they DID start causing me a lot of pain, and one actually broke. Turns out he was right. The actual procedure was no big deal; they knocked me out, which I highly recommend, and I only needed prescription painkillers for a day. After that I was fine with ibuprofen. The pain – even immediately after surgery – was way less than the pain I’d been dealing with from the actual teeth!

      Honestly, the worst part was not being able to eat solid food for a couple of weeks. (We had a pizza party at work and I was sitting there with my sad little cup of completely chunk-free soup that I’d brought from home!) I wasn’t in pain, but my jaw was really stiff for a while, which is normal. And I was super paranoid about getting food chunks stuck back there, which can cause issues.

    18. Lady Bug*

      I had mine taken out by the regular dentist with just novocaine, but I’m a little crazy and try to get the dentist to not even use novocaine if I can. 3 I didn’t even feel, the last one was infected so there was a little pain. 800 mg of ibuprofen a few times a day and I was fine. It really shouldn’t be a big deal if they are all in straight. Good luck!

    19. Lady Kelvin*

      I had the same problem, fill a cavity or get my wisdom teeth out. Since mine have fully erupted and were straight, they were able to just pull them with local anesthesia. It wasn’t too bad, no stitches or anything. They offered valium because I have severe anxiety about dentists but I passes. At first we used laughing gas but I didn’t like it so I just had local anesthesia. It was pretty quick and easy. They recommended that I get them pulled because it’s likely that I’d get more cavities and have to have them filled in those teeth.

    20. RKB*

      I’ve been under anesthesia 21 times. Solid tips:

      – it will burn. It’s very unexpected but anesthetic itself feels like fire in your veins. I’m not telling you this to scare you – just be prepared for an ouch! feeling right before you go out.

      – every time I’ve woken up I’ve been crying. It’s a purely physiological reaction. I can be laughing or sleeping but tears flow. Your body will be a bit confused!

      – take it easy after you wake up. Ice chips, no solids for awhile, don’t eat or drink too fast. Don’t stand up too quick. If you feel tired, sleep.

      I was out partying 24 hours after my wisdom teeth removal but I have quite the anesthetic endurance. Just listen to your body, take it easy, and remember that whatever your reaction is it’s just a physical response and you’ll be better in no time!

    21. Mephyle*

      I had mine (all two of them) taken out when I was in my twenties. They had never erupted but no complications otherwise.
      I had a sedative (Valium and something else) and it was so free of problems, I was almost disappointed (semi-joke). I had expectee that since the dental surgeon referred to it as “sedative” instead of “anesthesia” that I would remember something, however foggy, but it was not the case. All I remembered was counting down as they administered the sedative, and then waking up and it was all over and I felt fine. There was a little bit of pain from the incisions, but only about as much as you’d expect, and they healed very quickly.

    22. Coalea*

      I had my wisdom teeth removed in my mid-20s. I have serious dental anxiety as well – and was very nervous about being “put under.” I was given “twilight sleep” as my anesthesia. I do remember flashes of the procedure but I wasn’t in pain (although I do recall it being uncomfortable – lots of pressure). I also remember the surgeon remarking, “You sure do moan a lot!” which was super embarrassing. I received Percocet for post-op pain and it worked pretty well. Good luck!

    23. Yetanotherjennifer*

      I have a couple cavities in my wisdom teeth. It’s really no big deal. If your mouth has the room, I’d recommend keeping them. Once they’re gone your teeth have room to migrate and that could affect your bite. And it’s major surgery. I had a dentist that was very against keeping wisdom teeth. She recommended surgery and I took her advice and scheduled the appointment. The recommended oral surgeon didn’t have consultations or I didn’t know to schedule one so the first time I met her was the day of the surgery and had my mom in the waiting room to take me home afterwards. That was when I learned about the nature of the surgery and the risks involved and I freaked out a little. I claimed I could be pregnant just to get out of there. The surgeon was a little irked with me but she told me she didn’t recommend taking out any teeth that weren’t causing any trouble and thought mine were fine.

      So my advice: make sure you know all the risks before you decide to have the surgery. And meanwhile use a child-sized toothbrush so you can better access and clean your wisdom teeth.

      1. Yetanotherjennifer*

        Sorry for the exaggeration, it’s not major surgery, but anything involving anesthesia does have risks.

    24. Natalie*

      I waited a while to have my taken out because of the anesthesia – I’d never done it before and it freaked me out. So I totally understand that. It really was fine. The anesthesia was fine and my recovery was perfect, no complications at all. (Since yours aren’t impacted, you could also ask about other pain reliever/sedation options that aren’t being put completely under.)

      And yes, you should get them taken out – because of where they’re located, they’re hard to keep clean so it’s likely you’ll have enough future problems you’ll have to have them taken out anyway. And the older you are, the harder it is to recover from both the anesthesia and the wounds themselves. My grandfather was a dentist and for part of his retirement he did dental work at a free clinic. A lot of his patients had to have wisdom teeth taken out at advanced age and it was unpleasant.

    25. AliceBD*

      I had mine out when I was 16. I don’t remember if they were in all the way or not, if they were straight or crooked, etc. I remembered nothing from the actual procedure as I had laughing gas and something to make me forget; my mom took me to the procedure and back, since I was a minor. I did have strong painkillers for a couple of days and spent them with bags of peas strapped to my face with an elastic bandage wrapped under my chin and tied on the top of my head (tip from a friend, and it is a hands-free way to hold ice packs to your face!). And then it hurt for the next few days, but I went to summer camp 3 or 4 days after it happened and couldn’t take ibuprofen regularly so I think I would have been a lot better if I’d had access to OTC painkillers. I had no complications and it wasn’t a big deal to me. It was my first time with any kind of sedative/anesthesia and I didn’t hear/feel anything while they were doing it.

    26. Sorgatani*

      I had my wisdom teeth removed at age 21.
      They weren’t growing in straight, they were crashing into my other teeth like the Titanic into an iceberg.

      Like you, I had not had any surgery requiring anesthesia before then, but I wasn’t sure how I’d be if I was awake for it – and especially if you have dental anxiety, I would recommend not being awake for the procedure.

    27. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Just as another data point, I had all four past my 40th birthday, and a filling in one of them. I have had plenty of fillings without much bother, and had heard horror stories about extractions, so I told them to fill it. But that tooth later cracked, so I had to have it out. My extractions (I had almost exactly the same thing happen to the other upper wisdom tooth two years later) went fine; I had only local anesthesia, and the extraction went so smoothly and quickly that I posted afterwards that “when he was putting the stitches in, I was wondering if he was wrapping that string around the tooth to yank it out. (Obviously, it was out already.)” I didn’t take any of the Tylenol with codeine that they gave me, I just took some ibuprofen, and when I had the second one out I didn’t take any ibuprofen either, and there was no pain either time.

      Obviously I don’t know if it will be that easy for you, but it’s possible!

      Anyway, I had the top two out because they cracked, but I still have the bottom two. I’ve heard the top ones are easier, but still, this was really easy, hardly any worse than a filling. I left the other two because I don’t see any reason to pull teeth that aren’t bothering me and might never need to come out. However, I will note that my underbite is now almost gone — apparently I always jutted my jaw out because of the placement of my molars, and that just became its natural position.

    28. Misc*

      Ask how they actually do it. The ‘yanking them out whole’ thing leaves you healing for a while (apparently), but mine was pretty easy. The dentist who did it was actually a dental surgeon who was laying the groundwork for eventual jaw surgery when I stopped growing (and oh god THAT was not fun), and he cut up the tooth inside my jaw and extracted it in pieces, then just sewed the small hole shut. One night of feeling crappy and weird, then I was basically fine – I was back at school within a day or two! (That was the first two. The second two came out during the actual surgery a couple of years later).

      The anaesthesia – for both wisdom and full jaw surgery – was easy as anything. You’re lying there going ‘I am totally awaaakk…’ and then you wake up. You’ll be a bit groggy afterwards, but generally no worse than staggering out of bed without enough sleep, it just lasts longer.

    29. HannahS*

      I absolutely dreaded getting mine out, because oh man teeth (and gums gah GUMS) really give me the shudders. But it was totally fine. It was less straightforward than yours, because two?three? were below the gums and it was still fine. The anesthesia was interesting more than alarming, and I had none of the weird reactions you’d see on youtube. I was a bit sleepy that afternoon, that’s all. The first day or two was a bit painful (achy, more than sharp), and I don’t recall using anything stronger than a prescription-strength Tylenol. There was only blood for the first hour or so (which was horrifying, but over quickly) and then after that I just made sure to keep the sites clean. They gave me a curved dropper to flush out the sites with, and I used it religiously, which I’m sure helped me heal well.

    30. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      I’ve had all mine removed in two separate procedures (I did two when I was a teen, and two in my 20’s).

      Both went smoothly, no issues. With the first, it took a few days to eat a lot of solids, with the second, I was literally eating anything I wanted the same day.

    31. Meg*

      Thank you all so much for the tips and the advice! I think I’ll be having it done within the next couple months, so I’ll report back. :)

  18. KR*

    I’m driving across the country in 9 days with my husband, my dog, and my cat in a sedan. We’re going from New England to the Joshua Tree area of California. We plan on taking the southern route going south along 81 and then hooking up with 40 in TN and following that all the way to California. We are going to drive as long as we can (hopefully 24 hrs straight, we’re both good drivers who like driving), stop for a night and let the cat have some time with a litter box, and then keep driving the rest of the way there. Any advice would be wonderful. Next week while I’m at work Husband is going to make sure the car is ready but it’s relatively new and still under warranty. The dog loves car rides and will sleep the whole way most likely, and we’re going to stop for walks. Cat doesn’t get anxious or frightened but really doesn’t like the car. I would love to set up a litter box in the car for her but there’s simply no room and I would worry about her missing (she’s used to a large enclosed box) and peeing in the car that we would have to sit in for the rest of the ride.

    1. Cobalt*

      We just did a 12 hour drive with our cat, who is not a car fan. We used a disposable litter box (you can get them on Amazon) and got her a nice big folding crate (Cat1st pop open cat cage). It sounds like you don’t have room for that though, but the litter box is a must. Our cat also uses a big covered box at home but did just fine in the disposable carrier.

      1. KR*

        Oooh good to know! I’m thinking about leaving her with the litter box in the car where the dog usually sits when we take the dog on walks and putting puppy pads everywhere to catch any grossness.

      2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        Check out the good folks at dryfur.com – they make/have special super absorbent pads you can put in carriers for oopsies. They will suck up anything, no smell. We used one to line the transport carrier for our two kitties riding together on the big plane. It was at least 16 hours where they didn’t have access to a litter box and were in a loud airplane hold for 9 hours. Someone DID leak a little but that pad sucked it up so well I couldn’t even tell other than a little spot on the top. Normally a cat won’t just “go” in their space, however, but its a good backup system if you think you may need one.

        We tried a disposable litter tray for shorter (5 hour) drives and they never liked it.

    2. BTW*

      My cats *always* get sick in the car, without fail. Gravol will help with that it if ends up being an issue for you. Kudos to you! I can barely last 3 hrs in the car with my cats (They HATE it) I do think some form of a litter box or area where she can pee is a must. Might want to crate her if she will move around. Where I live, it’s illegal to have an animal roaming around your vehicle. Although people do it anyways (and since my vet is so close, I have too)

      1. KR*

        She has a carrier with a special blanket for traveling :) I’m so glad she doesn’t get sick, she just angry meows at me

    3. Amy*

      When we road-tripped with our cat we set up a small litter box on the floor in the back and let him have at it as needed. We still chuckle about him pooping while we were hurtling down the highway at 75 mph (his speediest poop ever!). That said, he’s a really chill cat and I was on guard to catch him if he tried to get in the driver’s seat or pedal area. It’s actually a pretty terrible idea to have a cat loose in a car while it’s moving. Do as I say, not as I do, I guess.

      This comment ended up being pretty unhelpful. Sorry. Good luck!

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        Our younger cat is allowed to be “loose”- but by loose, I mean in a harness and attached to a leash. I wanted to try that method on our cross-country move, but the now-deceased old and cranky cat gouged my arms the deepest ever, when trying to put her harness on for a test run. So into the carrier she went!

        1. KR*

          The only time I’ve ever seen my cat go truly ballistic on someone was when my dad tried to get a harness on her. He got it on her but when he tried to adjust it so it fit more comfortably she went insane. So she’ll stay in the carrier mostly.

      2. KR*

        She has a carrier. She’s not one to wander but we might have her nap on the passengers lap if she wants. Thanks!

    4. Jessesgirl72*

      We did the cross country trek 3 1/2 years ago (Silicon Valley to Milwaukee) and I had a small litter box to offer the cats, but they weren’t interested, even when we were at rest areas. They didn’t want food or even water either. We did only go for 12 hours at a time and got hotel rooms every night (La Quintas. My go-to, every time. No limits and no service fees. There is one in NYC and one in Nashville that don’t allow pets, but those are it) so they had opportunities to eat and drink and use the box then.

      Our small dog loves rides, but makes us stop every 2 hours on the dot. If we try to stretch to 2 1/2, he starts to whine.

      1. KR*

        My dog can usually go 10 hrs but he really has to go at that point. My gas tank goes for about 470 miles so I’m gonna give him a little walk at every gas station. Thanks :)

    5. MsChanandlerBong*

      I did almost the same trip when I moved to New Mexico: 81-S to I-40 in Tennessee and all the way out west. My only recommendations are to make sure you stop a lot to stretch (don’t want to get a DVT!) and pack your own water and snacks so you don’t have to pay $2 for a bottle of water when you’re thirsty.

      1. KR*

        Good point thank you so much! I have a cooler so I’m going to pack it with my remaining food and some snacks.

    6. Dan*

      Can’t comment about pets, as mine gets car sick at the drop of a hat so he stays put.

      But if you’re open to routing suggestions (for the trip back?) I70 out of Denver through southern Utah before it picks up the I15 is some of the most gorgeous scenery I’ve every seen, and I want to go back and do it justice.

      For reference, I moved across the country twice — the first time I took the Northern route, and the second time I took the second route.

      1. KR*

        Hi! We want to do i70 so bad but I’m worried about the snow. Do you have any experience with it in the winter? Husband and I both grew up in New Hampshire. My car is in good condition, a stick shift, and will be weighed down but it’s a light car in general and I don’t have chains for the tires.

        1. Paul*

          I70 is generally well maintained but snow tires are a good idea. Also, some od the more mountainous parts arw occasionally shut down for avalanches

      2. Clever Name*

        I’d go the southern route. I70 is well maintained, but there are strict traction laws (meaning you have to have snow tires or chains plus 4wd).

    7. Franzia Spritzer*

      We made a similar trip a couple of years ago, all of our crap packed into our sloppy jalopy of an RV and our light-truck. Our cats rode in the front of my truck the whole way because it has reliable air-con and was quieter and less scary than the RV. Our cats are harness/leash trained so we took them out for on leash walks at rest stops away from dogs, the cats didn’t really care for the opportunity to stretch their legs, they just wanted the car hell to end. We slept in our RV one night, at a friends another, and in a hotel the next, my cats were cool with sleeping anywhere but a moving vehicle. They had a small litter pan, (the disposable kind from the grocery store) in the truck but didn’t use it in the truck, they held out for their regular box in the RV, or when we brought the box in with us for the night. They didn’t eat when we were moving either, I think they were simply terrified and were keen to just shut down until it was over.

      I like the idea of having a big collapsable wire crate for inside the vehicle, if you have the room. It would let you get in and out of the car without having to do the cat dance at the door to prevent an escape and would let you have the windows down more than a crack should the opportunity present itself.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        We have five cats, so we ended up getting a HUGE dog crate for the four boys. The princess got to travel in her own carrier.

      2. KR*

        Hi! She has her own cat travel crate she’s used to. We’re really strapped for space but if I had a bigger car I’d be buying a medium sized dog crate for her.

    8. Anonymous Educator*

      We drove cross-country with a cat, and we thought we could have him poop at rest stops with a harness and portable litter box, but he wasn’t having it and would just hold his pee until the hotel room and then let it all out like Austin Powers. We also thought he would need a carrier the whole time, but he was very well-behaved sitting on a pillow in the passenger seat, looking at the scenery go by. Have a blast!

      1. KR*

        Thanks! She likes sitting on laps for long car rides (we had to take her for a long one when I had to flea bomb the house once) so we might do that once she gets comfortable.

    9. BestInShow*

      We did Maine to Missouri with two cats. After three days my sweet docile Tom was done! We took frequent breaks and let the cats roam the car with the doors locked. They were miserable though.

      1. KR*

        Yikes! Combined with the drive and the new place and adjusting to living with my husband and the fact that we won’t have any furniture for the first couple of days, I know she’s going to hate this move so much. At least when I moved local I could lock her in a room with a litterbox and food and all her toys and perches while the move happened. But she’s just going to have to ride this one out! (pun)

    1. Jillociraptor*

      You can’t go wrong with a nice, thick chili. Meat or veggie, infinitely customizable, infinitely yum. Stay warm!

    2. Anonyby*

      Chicken noodle… Throw-anything-I’ve-Got-in-it… I second the chili recommendation! Butternut squash (my friend does one where he adds white beans and no dairy, it’s amazing!).

      Pretty much any hot soup would work. :) Gazpacho and the like not so much…

    3. Jessesgirl72*

      For tomorrow (high of -1 predicted!) I have everything to make a thick split-pea soup with lot of ham chunks and carrots.

    4. Knitchic*

      I make a yummy cream of chicken with gnocchi. I like to slide some kale in right at the end, so it wilts but doesn’t get to mushy.

    5. Bluebell*

      Potato leek or black bean. The Laurie Colwin black bean soup recipe is very easy and super comforting.

    6. Katie the Fed*

      I just heard about this book and ordered it for me and a friend (temporarily out of stock though).


      My favorite soup for cold and snowy days is Dutch pea soup – called Snert. I have a recipe that involves potatoes, celery root, carrots, and lots of ham.

      I also make a tuscan bread soup with leftover bread and lots of veggies.

      I LOVE soup.

  19. Bonnie Fide*

    Hello, does anyone have experience with Shampoo Bars?

    I thought they sounded like a neat idea, but with most things online you have to buy in bulk to offset the price of shipping. Not something I am inclined to do if I am afraid the product won’t work for me.

    I have dark untreated naturally curly hair that dries out at the tips despite the ambient humidity in my area. I am also interested for my husband who has thick hair and an oily scalp and at best views liquid shampoo as a necessary evil. Body wash? Don’t ask.

    Also a big part of this, I’d like to cut down the amount of disposable plastic containers that enter my home – recycling is limited in my area and our landfill is running out of space.

    So far I have narrowed my options down to Chagrin Valley Soap or Apple Valley Natural Soap but there may be other options.

    Any recommendations / suggestions?

    1. Rebecca*

      I made shampoo bars, and the only thing I didn’t like about them was rinsing with either citric acid dissolved in water, or using diluted apple cider vinegar as an after rinse. I couldn’t mix up extra rinse, and found out how cold room temperature liquids can feel when you dump it on your head in the shower! I have normal long hair, not colored, and I wash it every other day or so.

      Thanks for making me think of this – it’s been a year since I made soap, and I need to make more and get off my butt and make shampoo bars again.

      1. CMT*

        When I was doing this, I would pour the apple cider vinegar in a container before the shower, and then fill it up with hot water from the shower so it would be nice and hot.

      2. Bonnie Fide*

        Your own recipe? What kind of time/effort/monetary investment are we talking here?

        I’ve never thought of making my own, I am intrigued.

        Also the acid rinse is essential? Could you warm it in the shower with you or does it it have to be room temp or cooler?

        Thanks for your reply!

        1. Anonyby*

          The acid rinse is absolutely essential. Hair and skin is naturally on the acidic side, and soap is alkaline. Doing an acidic rinse (I would make some up using citric acid I bought for bath bombs, just need a tiny bit) helps keep the soap from causing too much damage to hair. Also it helps remove soap scum from hair.

          I tried going to shampoo bars a couple years ago (with long, somewhat dry hair). It was a mess. My hair gummed up and has never been the same since, even after switching back to regular shampoo and cutting it. I was even adding lots of anti-scum sodium citrate and extra citric acid to the rinse to try to fight soap scum… Nope.

          Shorter hair (like for many men) doesn’t tend to have as much of a problem, but that’s because of how short it is. It just doesn’t have time for a lot of damage to build up before it’s gone, nor does it have the length to clump and snarl.

        2. Rebecca*

          I got the recipe from a website about soap making. I make my own soap using lye, water, fats, and sometimes scents and colors. I like one that’s made with beef tallow (I rendered my own), among other fats, and then I scent it with orange oil and tint it with orange soap coloring.

          Oh, and the acid rinse. I thought I’d just mix up some citric acid and water, and leave it in a bottle in the shower. I found out that it was better to have an old plastic cup and just dump in a teaspoon or so of the powder before I got into the shower, and then fill it with hot water when I was ready to put it in my hair.

        3. Rebecca*

          And I didn’t read all the words (my daughter reminds me of this).

          About soapmaking: I bought a book after learning how to use hot process method from a site called “Chickens in the Road”. I got a used slow cooker, and most of the glassware I needed at the thrift store. Amazon to the rescue for the rest, like pH test strips and a digital scale. Goggles, long gloves, and a place outside to mix the lye solution is a must. The biggest cost is the oils, and I am lucky to live in a rural area so I can get lard and fat to render tallow fairly easily after butcherings. For me, it wasn’t so much about the cost as it was that I could make something so neat all by myself.

    2. Wandering not lost*

      LUSH makes a wide variety of shampoo bars that all smell great and claim to address a variety of needs. I love them, and they’re handy for traveling. However, they’re not saponified — they’re made from detergent-y ingredients that are all listed on LUSH’s website. So, if soap bars are what you’re seeking, these wouldn’t fit the bill. The yellow bar is the gentlest, and I don’t need a conditioner with that particular one.

    3. Willow*

      I’d recommend picking a low pH (5-6) one–higher or even neutral pH ones can mess with scalp chemistry.

      I’ve also found it helpful to coat the ends of my hair in conditioner before/during shampoo. It prevents the shampoo from drying the ends but still lets you clean the roots.

    4. Mindful anon*

      Lush has a few types, and they have knowledgable salespeople who will also often give samples. They reward returning plastic containers for reuse, and have quite a few unpackaged products, too.

  20. Cobalt*

    This is most likely the last Christmas with my mom, who has ALS. Does anyone have tips for dealing with the holidays and a terminally ill family member? I’m struggling with trying to balance the grief and trying to cherish the memories. It’s been a rough year, for all of us.

    1. Sweeny*

      Tnt father passed away from that. I am sorry you aregoing through this. What helped me was taking a lot of photos and videos, I made scrap books and videos.

    2. nep*

      So sorry you’re having to deal with this.
      What comes to mind is not to calculate too much…Just go with the flow to the extent you can and cherish every moment. And say and do what comes to your heart. This could be my or your or anyone’s last Christmas. We never know. Of course, it’s right in your face in a painful and heavy way when a family member is terminally ill — but I guess what I mean is all we’ve ever got is Right. Now.
      Wishing you and your family peace and many moments of pure joy during the holiday season.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agreeing with nep, trust each moment to be exactly what it is supposed to be. Don’t work hard at creating moments, that could only end up in frustration. I recommend following what is going on as opposed to leading what is going on. The other thing I recommend is expecting warm/comforting moments to just materialize and be on the watch for those moments.

          1. Cobalt*

            I suppose this is what I did over Thanksgiving and it worked well. I suppose my frustration with not being able to do anything to stop/slow the ALS progression has me feeling like I need to create Hallmark moments. But I’m going to relax and just let it be. Thank you.

            1. fposte*

              It probably feels like the only part of the situation you can control.

              And I think there can be some pleasure for you in feeling like it gave you and your mom the holiday that you’d want–but I also think ultimately it’s going to be the whole life, both yours and your mom’s, that really matters and that this holiday isn’t going to tip the balance. So I’d say being easy on yourself is probably my main advice.

            2. Not So NewReader*

              There are many things in life that have more power than we do: disease, storms, war, wild animals. We don’t think about these forces very often and when we do it’s usually because it’s right in front of us. It’s humbling and we are supposed to be humbled by these forces. That is okay. And yep, we think about life and where we are going in life and how we want our own lives to play out. Again, more of all the stuff we should think about. It’s okay.

              People forever change our lives because of their presence in our lives. And their exit also forever changes our lives, yet again. Here’s the kicker: Other people feel the same way about us. No life is ever wasted. Ever. And the sum total of one’s life is not found in their final illness or their last months. It’s a part of their story but not their *whole* story.
              Life is a movie, not a snapshot. Looking at the whole movie of their lives can be more helpful than looking at the snapshots you see in front of you right now.

    3. ck*

      Now is the time to talk with her. Go through old pictures with her and reminisce. Ask about her early life. Ask her questions/opinions/thoughts/worries. Audio record her voice, talking about her life. Keep as many family Christmas traditions going as possible. Get family to come and see her.

      It can be milestones like holidays that keep us going.

      1. Chilleh*

        +1 After my grandfather unexpectedly passed I learned about all of the amazing things he had experienced in his life. I wish more than anything that I could talk about these moments with him. For instance, I had no idea he was such a huge supporter of the Civil Rights movement and went to hear Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech while he was working in Washington, D.C. I would have loved to hear about all of the amazing things he did and witnessed.

        This of course may not be what you, your mom, or your family wants or needs! I know that while I may have wanted to spend that time with my grandfather doing just that, he may not have wanted to talk about it.

        I am so sorry Cobalt, but I bet you and your family are going to make exactly the kind of Christmas you need.

    4. Jean*

      +1 to all other suggestions. Spend time together enjoying each other’s company. Also take care of yourself (maintain good nutrition, sleep, and exercise as much as possible) because grief takes time and energy.
      Enjoy holiday traditions but don’t run yourself ragged trying to meet some unrealistic standards.
      Sorry that you and your family are facing this. I hope you have skilled and empathic health care professionals.

      1. Cobalt*

        Thank you. I was doing pretty good about focusing in on nutrition and exercise, but holiday goodies have been so abundant that I’ve given in a few more times than I care to admit :) This is a good reminder to pull back from eating my feelings.

    5. Temperance*

      Can you structure the holiday around what your mother would like most? Make it HER best Christmas ever, if you have the ability.

      I’m so sorry that you’re going through this. ALS sucks.

      1. Cobalt*

        Thanks…I will really think about how to do this. It’s tough because she’s completely chair-bound, but there are plenty of things we can still do. Board games, cookie decorating, movies, and of course just chatting.

    6. Lady Bug*

      I think it depends on what she wants. For me I would want everyone to ignore that I was terminally ill and have the same holiday we’ve always have. Your mom may want something special.

      So sorry you are going through this.

      1. Turkletina*

        My dad wanted us to ignore it. The rest of us took over the stuff he was too weak to do (e.g., it had been tradition for him pick up the gifts from under the tree, read the labels out loud–as written; there were several “mom”s involved, and deliver them to their intended recipients), and I think he fell asleep at some point, but everything else was business as usual.

      2. Cobalt*

        I don’t think she’s in denial. Definitely not. But she’s very modest and quiet, and I don’t think a huge blowout is what she wants. Probably as close to “normal” as is possible. But I don’t quite feel comfortable asking her. Possibly I’m the one in denial, that if I acknowledge it, it will make it real.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Or could be shock. It could be any number of things and it probably is. We humans are good at running many emotions at the same time. Don’t let that confuse you. Each time you feel an emotion, say, “yep, I am feeling sad/lost/angry/shocked/whatever.” Just simply acknowledge that emotion and feel the feeling.

          1. Ife*

            Agreeing, letting yourself feel your emotions without trying to change them is important.

            A few weeks ago I heard another suggestion for how to deal with strong emotions, and it’s worked well for me in my few trial runs. The advice: when you realize you’re feeling an emotion (let’s say anger), try to think of two other emotions it could be. Maybe it’s frustration, or maybe it’s helplessness, as an example. I noticed that it helps me understand the nuances of what I’m feeling, and that my first label is not always right.

    7. Dan*

      I think her attitude should drive what happens. If she really understands she’s terminal and has accepted it, maybe a big blow out is in order. That’s what I’d want in that position. I wouldn’t want people lying about it.

      But if mom is in denial, then I think you have to play along.

    8. EmmaLou*

      So very sorry. Sending you warm comfort. Agreeing with others. Ask questions. Listen. Don’t try to cram stuff in. (That’s my tendency.)

    9. Searching*

      I am so sorry you’re going through this. Your question brought me back 10 years – mom had terminal cancer and I flew over to be with her (we lived on different continents) when it became more apparent that it might be her last Christmas. We were very close, yet weren’t the types to have any deep or teary-eyed conversations about her looming death (if that makes any sense). The only thing that we talked about specifically was to choose the clothes she wanted to wear and the music she wanted played at her funeral. And it was a pretty matter-of-fact conversation. Other than that, we just went with the flow, as others have said. We laughed a lot, because that’s just the type of person she was.

      Hugs to you.

    10. ..Kat..*

      The relax and let it be advice is very good. I would also recommend asking your mother what she would like to do. Knowing you made this Christmas special for her would be a wonderful memory.

      I am sorry for what you are going through. Take care of yourself. Sending good thoughts your way.

    11. Cobalt*

      Thank you all for your support. I love this community, even though I typically get to the comments too late to actively participate in the discussions. You all are amazing.

  21. nep*

    You know when you have those moments / experiences that ‘restore your faith in humanity’?
    Share one of those you’ve had recently.
    One of mine — a colleague this week arranged for friends and clients to collect gifts for a former colleague who’s going through a rough patch. People came through with a huge lot of gifts for the woman and her three children — making two trips to bring it all over to help them have a happy holiday.

    1. Caledonia*

      This isn’t mine or anyone I know’s act of kindness but it’s from my home city:

      Yesterday we (fb page) posted a story about a lovely taxi driver refusing to take the fare from a customer after realising that she was the mother of young (child’s name), who unfortunately will be in hospital over Christmas due to a poorly heart.
      Well the main man at taxi company name, heard about this. Not only is he rewarding his driver for his generosity, but mummy will be getting free return taxi’s to the hospital from now until the start of January.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      A family here suffered a tragedy. People rallied with help and with money. (Sorry have to be vague.)
      In a different story a friend got in an accident that had a tragic outcome for someone else. Again, people rallied, assuring my friend that they could clearly see it was an accident. He was shaken to the core but he kept saying, “I know that I am supported.”

      You know, we gripe about others and we gripe. But reality is that there are some very awesome people out there. And reality is that people do “get it” when it comes to the really tough stuff in life.

      1. nep*

        Indeed. There are a LOT of sensitive, giving, caring people out there. And just people who step up and get sh*t done. And when the opportunity presents itself to be empathetic and give they do, in a beautiful way.

        1. fposte*

          That reminds me of this woman I work with remotely, with whom I communicate only by email. She is the tersest person in the world (whereas I am . . . not) and doesn’t do pleasantries, so I didn’t really have any sense of relationship with her, whether she was like that with everybody, anything. But in the last few years when I’ve had surgery or illness or whatever and need changes to the schedule, she just makes it happen somehow. No flowers, no chat, just miracle turnaround times. That’s the gift she gives.

      2. Jean*

        Yes, there are lots of good people. I have two examples that give me hope.

        National Public Radio identified and checked in with a diverse group of Americans during the recent U.S. campaign season. Although these people were not united in their Presidential candidate preferences, they seemed to bond over their shared radio experiences. At one of the last meetings they were described on air as exchanging hugs.

        A similar but one-time phenomenon was documented over the summer by a newspaper front-page photo of a diverse group of young men hugging. The guys had previously disagreed (about issues related to one of our too-many police shootings of African-American citizens) but were able to find at least some common ground, at least briefly.

        It’s not much but we have to start somewhere. We’re a heterogeneous country but we all have to live together.

        No worries, I’m not going to get any more political than this.

    3. Jean*

      I watch the other people at my synagogue and take comfort in seeing the stages of life repeat themselves over my ten-plus years of membership. It eases my sadness at my husband’s having advanced cancer. (At present he’s more or less stable and symptom-free, but we don’t expect a complete cure in the future).

      The babies have grown into pre-teens and the elementary-school-age children are college students. Their parents have moved from early to middle adulthood or mid- to late middle age, and the people who were middle-aged are now becoming elders. Everybody does not live in bliss (people have various challenges, the sorts you’d find in any group) but it’s nice to see life going along. We also have new members, some of whom have young children; and there are also folks (mostly older) who now come with walkers or canes.

      I don’t mean to make our synagogue sound like Noah’s Ark or some family template from the 1950s (Dad + Mom + 2-3 kids): we also have single people, single parents, child-free couples, same-sex couples, people of color (both with and without Jewish ancestry), and families in which some members belong to other congregations or other religions. It’s a welcoming place. People show up looking tidy but you’re not expected to be in full-business-suit mode and most of the kids wear casual clothing to facilitate active movements indoors or on the playground.

      Gah–I was trying to write up something cheerful, not a marketing piece (and with me typing away on the Sabbath). The community is clear about following Jewish traditions, but also clear in not chasing out people whose lives diverge from the traditional outline.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Like you are saying, my sick husband and I went to church regularly and did other activities, when we had time between all the doctor appointments. I found seeing the circle of life comforting. Couples with babies, single parents with kids, old people, old people who lost their spouse, all these different stories. And everyone doing the best they can with what they have. There was something there that filled my cup in a way that nothing else could. I guess just the reassurance that whatever was going wrong was not going wrong enough for us to be cast out. At that point, my husband was pretty fragile and okay, kind of scary to look at. He deteriorated a LOT in a very short time. But the folks just kept talking to him. (His mind was fine so conversation was not a problem, but his body was pretty shot.)

    4. Lucy Westenra*

      This one’s kind of stupid and doesn’t involve a community coming together to support someone going through hard times but …
      I was walking home from work in the cold, because I’d missed the last bus and it was either that or sleep in ops all night until they started up again. I was one hour in to a three-hour walk when I decided to lie down on a bench and take a nap for a few minutes before I got going again. Then this bus swished by and stopped at the end of the block, doors open. The sign said out of service, so I’d figured it was going back to the garage, but the driver told me he’d take me as far as the station if I was paying. I sure as hell was paying, but I had a feeling he’d’ve taken me even if my pass had been expired. He chatted with me for a while and said that he usually came down that route around one a.m. if I ever needed a lift again. Just one of those super nice people, I guess. Bus drivers rock.
      God, this sounds even stupider in writing. But it meant a lot to me at the time.

      1. Mephyle*

        Seconding that it sounds wonderful. Saving you from two hours of walking in the cold and being a nice guy besides is something indeed. Thanks for sharing this.

      2. nep*

        Not stupid at all. This is just the kind of thing that restores faith in humanity. Thanks, and thanks to that bus driver.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Not stupid to me either. I remember when I was 19/20, my father had promised me the use of his vehicle. And typical of my father at that time, he changed his mind. whoops. I had a job across town based on having a vehicle. I blamed myself, I was saving for a car but not fast enough, evidently.
        It was the bus driver who saved my butt. I would get to the stop late or because of other reasons have to use a different stop. He would see me walking and just stop the bus and pick me up where ever I happened to be. How random is that? We did not really know each other, yet when ever he saw me walking he’d pick me up. I always paid of course.
        Finally I got a car and problem solved. Random acts of kindness, I don’t think he ever knew how much he helped me.

    5. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      At least once a week in London I will see something where people come together just for a moment to help someone in need. Last summer I was on the morning commute train when we were held for almost 20 minutes in a tunnel. At that point its standing room only and I looked up to see a middle aged man in front of me, his hands shaking while doing the crossword. A few minutes later I caught movement out of the corner of my eye and he had gone into a dead faint and would have fainted right on top of me if his arm hadn’t been around the luggage rack.

      The way everyone jumped into action was amazing. Two young men laid him gently on the floor. Water bottles came out of a bunch of purses, someone put a coat under his head. He came around rather quickly and was able to sit up, but wouldnt take offered seats. Two women spoke with him while he recovered, and then he got off at his stop and went to work, as though nothing had happened.

      When I was in the worst of shape with my back problems and walking (badly and hunched over) from the chiro office to the taxi rank, I had no less than four people ask if I needed help/call an ambulance, etc. One was an elderly gentleman who was none too mobile himself and looked worried even though I assured him I was ok and going home in a cab that moment! Or the people of all types (bankers to builders to those in between) who stop to share a word or two with the station bum every morning.

      There really is a lot of humanity in every sense of the word here and it never ceases to amaze me that folks really do look out for one another, even if the bulk of the time you are trying to ignore the masses!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Oh what lovely folks. <3

        I can't forget those people in Walthamstow who lifted the bus off the unicyclist in 2015. He was trapped under the wheel and a ton of neighborhood people rushed out to help. And all the times I got lost and had to ask for help and never once did I get jacked around on directions. And despite what people think, the city is full of people who are happy to chat a bit if you catch them at the right moment. :D

        I love London so much and I miss it so badly right now. *snif*

    6. Anononon*

      At my last job, a coworker had an unexpected death in his family. We took up a collection to pay for his trip back to Africa to attend the funeral. I think we were able to cover the airfare 100%. He was one of just a few of my former coworkers who was fully respected by all, so everyone was happy to help out. It really touched him that we did that for him and he was so grateful.

    7. GiantPanda*

      The local food bank has asked people to donate Christmas Boxes – they hand out standard size boxes and donors fill them with enough non-perishable food to make a holiday meal for a family. My company has decided to promote this, and from my office I can see coworkers handing in boxes. There are dozens.

      1. KR*

        The grocery store I used to work at sells boxes like that. For $10 you could buy a box with cereal, pasta, sauce, canned soup, canned veggies and a few other things. You got a coupon book in return but most people don’t take them. On my last day at work (last Sunday) we had more than 2 shopping carts full of these boxes. They go to local food banks and to local aid groups to hand out to families in need.

    8. AliceBD*

      My coworker passed away this summer after a brief illness. He had a child in middle school. My office has raised at least $1500 through fundraising efforts (like wear jeans today for $1 sort of thing) to go to the child’s college fund.

    9. chickabiddy*

      This isn’t recent, but it has stuck with me for over a decade so I’d like to share it here. I went to the store with a very cranky child to buy a pack of diapers. My card was declined (some computer/bank thing). I went out to my car because my checkbook was in the glove compartment, and when I came back in someone had paid for the diapers.

    10. OhBehave*

      Our church is quite large. We host a toy/coat/food box give away every year. The congregation collects toys and coats based on tags they grab off of trees in the church. The past several years the numbers have grown. When word hit that more coats were needed the week before distribution, everyone brought more. We had enough of everything for 1,200 people. No one was turned away! We were able to donate the excess to another charity.
      It’s a moving experience each year. So many people coming together to make sure others are blessed is a beautiful thing to witness.

    11. Pennalynn Lott*

      Back in the early 90’s I was visiting a friend in NYC. We had dinner with some of his friends on the opposite end of Manhattan from where my friend lived. A little after midnight, we walked to an ATM to get cash for a cab. The ATM was out of order. We walked to another. And another. And another. All out of order. We took his last two train tokens and rode to Grand Central (halfway to his apartment), thinking the ATMs there would be working. They weren’t. [Later found out there was a citywide outage.] I was in heels, my feet were killing me, and I sat on a concrete retaining wall a few blocks away from the station, crying from exhaustion and pain (it was now coming up on 4:00am). A guy pushing a coffee-and-gyro cart rolled up on the sidewalk and stopped to ask what was wrong. We shared our tale of woe, and he opened his cash box, gave us money for a cab ($20, I think?) and gave us each a gyro and some water. He waited with us until a cab came by and helped us flag it down.

      I was raised on horror stories about NYC, and that gyro cart guy was just one of a few dozen truly wonderful strangers I met on that trip. For instance, on another night I was again tired from walking — I’m from Texas, where we drive everywhere! — and I walked up to an NYPD car and asked if the cops would give me a lift to the Purple Pig, or whatever pub my friends were headed to. The cops laughed and told me to hop in. I waved at my friends hoofing it on the sidewalk as I rolled past them in the backseat of the cop car. :-)

    12. Lore*

      The local Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops set up a really smart food drive right in front of Trader Joe’s. They handed out a list of items they needed–canned vegetables, peanut butter, etc–and then you could add a few things to your shopping and drop it off at their table out front (and give the list back for reuse). I bought a few things and asked the cashier to bag them separately. He said 90 percent of the customers he’d checked out had shopped for the food drive, amounts ranging from one box of spaghetti to several extra bags of food.

  22. super anon*

    I’m going on a real vacation for the first time ever this week! My boyfriend and I are going to Ixtapa, Mexico to stay in an all-inclusive resort and get lovely tans. Does anyone have any tips and tricks for Mexico in general, or cool things to do in the Ixtapa region? My boyfriend isn’t keen on the idea of leaving the resort, but I heard there’s a neat island with a better beach we can adventure to nearby and I definitely want to go. Other than that I’m not sure what we can/should do. Neither of us speak Spanish – will that be a problem? Should we bring USD or Pesos, or both? Any advice would be lovely!

    1. BTW*

      Are you guys into fishing? Ixtapa is wonderful for that! I’ve never been personally but we were gonna do a family thing a while back and the boys chose it based on that. Going off the resort is important IMO. You can’t say you’ve truly been to a country unless you’ve seen and experienced it’s true culture. My parents loved Mexico. They spent a lot of time meandering through the cities and eating the true Mexican cuisine. They didn’t feel unsafe at all. It’s just important to know where and where not to go. Have fun! :)

    2. CMT*

      Yay! Have fun! I bet you’ll do fine communicating in English. I don’t know if this is the best way, but I always just get cash from ATMs when I reach my destination. It’s easiest for me, and I think the exchange rates are about as good as you’re going to get anywhere else.

      1. Cookie D'oh*

        Yes, ATMs are the easiest way to get cash. Make sure to call your bank before you leave to have your cards authorized to use out of the country

    3. Cookie D'oh*

      When you’re staying at an all-inclusive resort, it shouldn’t be a problem if you don’t speak Spanish. When we stayed at one, the majority of the staff spoke English.

      We brought $1 bills for tips.

      We used Cancun Valet for our airport to hotel transfer and vice versa.

      If you drink alcohol, be careful jot to overdo it. That’s easy to do when the drinks are free! Stay hydrated and don’t forget sunscreen. Have fun!

    4. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Just be careful with the water – not sure if those resorts have their own sanitation/purification systems, but I lived with a Mexican environmental engineer doing her PhD on water purification in Mex vs the US (thats really simplistic but the gist). She was insane about the Brita filter use in the US – you don’t want to know whats up with Mexican water!

    5. Mephyle*

      It depends which resort you’re going to. Some resorts are only good as a springboard for doing interesting things outside, while others are so great that it’s worth spending all your time inside.
      I was at the Ixtapa Club Med a few years ago, and it was really much better than I expected, and I didn’t feel any desire to leave the resort. But I live in Mexico anyway, so there wasn’t a lot of motivation to leave the resort and explore.
      The resort may also offer expeditions to the island that you can arrange without leaving the resort.
      You get the best exchange rate if you bring debit cards from your U.S. banks and take out money at an ATM in Mexico. The cash you get will come out of the machine in pesos.

    6. Mephyle*

      Where there are lots of tourists, there are generally plenty of people who speak English. Not always fluently, but well enough to do business with you. Definitely inside the resort, and probably most places outside that you’re likely to visit.

    7. catsAreCool*

      I think that knowing a few words (especially thank you, please, excuse me) in a foreign language can be helpful – people know that you’ve made some effort.
      Thank you – gracias
      please – por favor
      excuse me – pardo’n (should be an accent over the o)

  23. Biff*

    I have a question that may seem a little heartless, but it becoming relevant more and more due to the fact I’m no longer in a position to support people the way I have previously (I lost my job.) I know how to deal with Debbie Downers and Mentally Ill folks in the office, at least as much as a non-manager can, but I’m not really sure how to deal with them in my personal life.

    In my twenties, I really thought that I just needed to be kind, forgiving, generous and patient with my friends with mental illness, especially depression. I’m in my thirties, and I’m pretty over it with most of my friends. Yes, I realize that I shouldn’t judge people for a disability, but at the same time, can I judge them for the attitude that it’s my (and everyone else’s) job to deal with it, be supportive and accepting? I feel like I’m getting dragged down and clobbered on my happiest days by their unremitting disappointment with life. We have shared interests and hobbies, but I’d say that 90% of my interaction with some folks is saying “I’m so sorry.” It’s exhausting.

    I feel like a bunch of them stopped trying to mitigate or manage their illness. Several of my friends who have SADD have actively chosen to NOT move to sunnier locations, despite having the opportunity. To me, this feels like a slap in the face. They are actively depriving their friends the option to even see the person we enjoyed having as a friend.

    When is it okay to sign off?

    1. BTW*

      Yikes. This is a tough one. I suffer from generalized anxiety disorder and when I was first diagnosed, I was bound and determined not to let it grab a hold of me and ruin my life. I think the biggest change has been for my husband. Even then, when I know it won’t help me telling him about attacks, I suffer in silence. Even though I know he would be nothing but 100% supportive in those moments. However, I do think it’s okay to let go when people are no longer helping themselves. I had a friend like this when I was younger. It was always, “poor me” then the standard, “I’m changing my life for the better!” which would of course never happen and it was a vicious cycle. I couldn’t handle it anymore so I had to check out. When people are constantly looking to others to make them happy and are only EVER looking for support, it gets exhausting. There comes a point where they have to decide to do everything in their power to change their life or let it drown them, and that has nothing to do with you. If it’s the first, then certainly support them in their journey, but when it comes to the last, there’s not much you can do. My Mom has been clinically depressed my entire life and she manages it well, mostly with the help of meds. She lives her life and doesn’t let her depression define her.

    2. Lily Evans*

      If you’re feeling that resentful of your friends, it’s probably kinder to yourself and to them to at least pause your friendship for a while. I know it can be frustrating to see your friends make choices you wouldn’t want for them, but remember you’re only seeing this from an outsider’s perspective. It’s so easy to say “They should just do this! It would solve all their problems!” but living those decisions is entirely different. Especially when mental illness gets in the way of that decision making.

      I saw a great quote somewhere recently about how important it is to remember that people are probably trying their best. Sometimes a person’s best is ugly and from the outside doesn’t look like they’re trying at all. And I think you’re taking their problems a little too personally. They’re not purposely depriving you of the person you became friends with before their mental illness. Moving is a huge undertaking, especially when you’re depressed. And it’s not necessarily a magic cure-all to make seasonal depression go away.

      But you need to take care of yourself first, so right now you should take a step back. Acknowledge that these are not your problems to fix. Bolster your own mental health and grow your own happiness, and then maybe you’ll be able to reconnect with these friends in a better emotional place.

      1. AnonAnon*

        +1 to Lily Evans’ advice: “Bolster your own mental health and grow your own happiness, and then maybe you’ll be able to reconnect with these friends in a better emotional place.”

        It’s okay to set limits as long as you set them kindly. Wait a bit to reply to messages. Make and keep appointments with yourself re bedtime, chores time, etc. When you get back to people, express your own needs rather than describe whatever your friends are doing (making empty resolutions, focusing on gloomy topics). You know that they aren’t deliberately making themselves and the people around them miserable.

    3. fposte*

      Sorry about the job, Biff; that’s tough. You can sign off any time you want to–they’re friends, not charity cases. An alternative would be having a conversation about what you need, which seems less drastic but sometimes can be harder.

      But I’m also a little concerned about that “slap in the face” language. People aren’t making choices about their illness to hurt you or even in reference to you; they don’t owe you self-care. Even if you’re a life partner I think that’s a needlessly adversarial way to mentally frame it–it’s about identifying what you’re prepared to do for your partner and what you need from your partner. I have a long-term friend who I wish would change her life; I don’t know if she ever will, so I’ve chosen to change the ground rules for our conversations. I’m not going to hear relationship complaints, and I want to talk about positive stuff. She’s free to decide that’s not what she wants from the friendship, just as I’m free to decide that I don’t want always to be the listening ear.

      That phraseology also makes me think you might have reached BEC with this crowd of friends and it may be time to move on generally. But it’s also worth thinking about how these patterns got created–if you set yourself up in the role of Friend Who Always Listens to Your Troubles, you’re probably going to set up that dynamic again unless you actively create a different, more reciprocal dynamic.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        That adversarial approach comes with burn out. It also happens when we give too much and don’t accept in return. OP, if your habit is to say “no thanks” learn to say “yes, please”.

        It goes like this: “OP, would you like help shoveling out?” Correct answer, “yes, please”.
        Looks easy on paper? Good, apply it to life. We have to let people pay us back, if we routinely say no we are cutting them off from that opportunity to pay us back.

      2. Biff*

        I use ‘slap in the face’ because I felt like this friend took all the help we could possibly provide and then set to squandering it as fast as possible on increasingly unrealistic schemes and mind-bendingly bad decisions. Like this:

        The group got together to help Ethel buy a car so she could apply to better-quality jobs. Ethel, despite having not driven for YEARS and talking about her fears about driving her new car in the snow, decides to do unnecessary errands on a day that the governor of the state has declared a state of emergency in town and urges everyone to not drive unless it is absolutely necessary. No surprise, Ethel wrecks the car. A couple months later, the group gets together to help Ethel put together the money and resources to move to a location she claims will help dramatically with her depression, because she says she suffers pain in the coldest months and the cold triggers cascading mental effects. She hides the fact that she has severe issues with cloudy climates. The town she moves to has as fewer sunny days than Forks WA of Twilight fame. Ethel then moves in with an alcoholic who doesn’t pay the bills, and we all pitch in to prevent her heat from turned off when she’s sick. We raise a bit more than needed. Instead of giving the power company the excess, she buys a new pet.

        So yeah, it feels like a slap in the face.

        1. fposte*

          Here are my two divergent but overlapping thoughts on that: it’s still not a slap in the face, because it’s still not about you, any more than it’s a slap in the face that somebody on EBT smokes; providing help doesn’t give you ownership of the outcome. (I also think your group needs to realize that people’s claims about obstacles shouldn’t be taken at face value, and if it really is the same person all the time, “once bitten, twice shy” is probably a reasonable approach.)

          However, I was thinking along “what would Not So New Reader say?” lines, and I decided I was missing a key puzzle piece or two. What I think is really a slap in the face is not that your friend isn’t choosing mid-depression to move to Miami, but that despite the attention you give to your friends they’re not giving you the same. If Ethel was walking around to bring you casseroles and listen to your anxiety about the job market, I bet what she did with her driving wouldn’t matter to you so much. You have longterm unmet need here, and that is really, really important in any relationship.

          I also think NSNR is spot on about asking for what you want and accepting assistance. We, especially the female we, can pick up a lesson that the way to get our needs met is to ignore our own needs and meet other people’s 110%, and then that’ll get them to volley back to us. And that’s a really bad lesson! More often that means people who want all of your energy find you and glom onto you and you dive into meeting their needs enough to get them to give back, and if they don’t give back you figure you have to just give more–and meanwhile, people with reasonable boundaries you’d enjoy being friends with are walking by and giving the side-eye to the high-drama exploits.

          I was recently in a conversation with a group of people all over 50 who know each other pretty well and are fairly established in life, and somebody asked, as kind of a discussion starter, if people make new friends at this stage of life. And many of us went first to caution, boundaries, and valuing of our own time, which speaks to some extent to the introversion of the group, but also to lessons learned over decades–that it takes time to know if somebody’s going to be a real addition to an already rich life, and that people who want instant intimacy aren’t usually the people who are the best at giving.

            1. fposte*

              Reading this now I sound hard on you and I didn’t mean to be that. I think you deserve to have people who are interested in giving to you and not just taking from you, because it sounds like the pattern’s gone the other way for a while.

          1. Cristina in England*

            “that people who want instant intimacy aren’t usually the people who are the best at giving.”
            WOW, never thought of that before; yes so true!!!

            1. the gold digger*

              Yes! I am not interested in providing one-way emotional support for anyone. It has to go both ways. My husband was very bothered that I did not have a closer relationship with his mother. I had to explain to him that she wanted intimate support from me but there was no way she would ever provide it. A relationship has to have balance. You are not required to be the one giving all the time.

          2. Dynamic Beige*

            I agree with a lot of this. I also think that it’s no wonder that you’re fed up — you’ve lost your job and every penny must be precious, yet there are still people going “Ethel’s in trouble! We need to help her!” and you can’t help thinking about all the other times she’s been bailed out. I don’t blame you a bit for being done and perhaps a little bit “where’s my bailout?” I know I would be, I’ve felt like that in the past in some situations where I’ve given to the point I have nothing left. Burnout is horrible and can take a long time to recover from. What they say on airplanes about putting your own mask on first before assisting others including minor children — they should really teach that in grade school. You can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself.

            You know what they say about feeding strays, it seems to me that Ethel is a stray and if you stop feeding her, she’s just going to go and find someone else who will. There may be some louder crying or extra pleading looks, but eventually she’ll move on. If these people come around looking for you to donate to the cause, you have the perfect reason not to, “I’m sorry but I recently lost my job. I feel badly for Ethel and her continuing problems, but I really have to put myself first.”

            Another suggestion is that next time Ethel is in trouble, the group may want to consider only raising a portion of the needed amount and encouraging Ethel or whoever she is with to earn the rest. When her kids were small, someone I knew would make them save up half to buy a GameBoy or whatever was the hot toy they wanted. She probably could have afforded to just buy it for them, but she felt that if she just gave it to them, they wouldn’t have any true appreciation for what it cost. By saving up half, they had investment in the item and would take better care of it. I can’t help but feel the same principle should apply to Ethel.

            Alternately, if you choose to still assist Ethel, you could do so without money. If she has depression or SAD, perhaps she could use some literature on Vitamin D supplements? Or useful links to the benefits of exercise on mood enhancement, local services she could apply to for assistance, whatever else might fit the current circumstance (budgeting? credit counseling?). Depression or not, she’s a grown-ass adult and it’s not other people’s job to fix her. It’s very kind of you and your friends that you have done so much for her, but she has to save herself and if she chooses not to, then that’s her choice. Sometimes, the only thing you can do for your own sanity is to disengage and walk away.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Ethel has several things going on here. But the one thing that is impacting you is her drive/push toward self-defeating behaviors. In all likelihood, if you continue to give her things she will probably continue to find new and creative ways to ruin them. This is a part of her pattern. Of course she is depressed, she shoots herself in the foot routinely. Which came first? depression or foot-shooting? That is something for a counselor to help her with. But the constant foot-shooting will exacerbate her depression which will cause more foot-shooting which will cause more depression, you get the idea here.

          You are correct in not wanting to be pulled in to quagmire. It could ruin your finances for one thing. And for another thing it gives you a distorted impression of what friendship looks like.

          fposte is correct about money, when you give someone something it is no longer yours. You have no say in what happens next. The first time I heard this I said “whoa!” It was mind-bending for me. The next thing that happened was I got very conservative about where I put my money. My uncle used to tell me, “NSNR, I will NOT loan you 10k. But I WILL give you 10k.” He was speaking figuratively, not literally. He meant when you give someone something think of it as being GONE you will never see it again. Kind of changes things, eh?*

          If you keep giving her things, many times what happens next is the recipient starts treating the givers like garbage. This happens for a number of reasons. It could be that the recipient feels “I don’t like me. So how come you are so stupid that you do like me?” Or it could be that the person knows they did not earn the gift and this creates an imbalance in the relationship which causes more problems. Or the recipient ends up with a distorted life view where she feels someone should bail her out. My FM had this last one. FM was always waiting for someone to fix things.

          * Another story if you can stand it. I had a different FM who I used to exchange presents with. This went well for a while. Then it didn’t. For whatever reason my present got broken either when it was opened or shortly after. I said something to FM, “what’s up with all the breakage?” Disturbingly, she said, “It’s just things. I don’t worry about things I care about PEOPLE.”
          I felt like saying well this PEOPLE is upset that you keep breaking my gifts. IRL, I just stopped giving gifts. It took me a few hundred dollars to learn this lesson. Real friends respect each other’s gifts.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      You’re burned out.
      Before you get bummed over my answer, understand that it takes one to know one, I am burned out too.

      The first 40 years of my life was working and living around folks who have difficulties (of many types, health, financial etc).

      I concluded that I have given all I can give and I must step back and allow others to have a turn helping. Oddly, I was in THEIR way I was blocking others who could help effectively.

      This sounds like a terrible thing to say, I know. But, wait there’s more, the other part of the story is that we have to recharge ourselves. Just as I felt others could “do a little more” for themselves, I ALSO could do more for MYSELF. I had to take my own advice!

      Story. I had a dear, dear aunt who gave and gave and gave. She was flippin’ exhausted. Finally her hubby died and she got cancer. We talked turkey, we had some blunt convos. One thing I told her was to stop picking people who needed help. She needed to pick people who were more like her. Even though she was grieving and sick she was still young thinking and very active when possible. She needed to pick out young thinking and active people.
      This is what I loved about my aunt, she actually thought about this and made her own adjustments to what she was doing. wow. She ended up with a different group of people. While she helped them here and there (because of her age and life experience she could offer advice), they also helped her with her grief and her cancer.

      So 1) find new peeps, don’t just hang out with your regular people. 2) Invest in YOU, whatever that means. That could be a better diet or the piano lessons you always wanted. Figure out what you would like and make it happen. It can be anything.

      And 3) work on understanding that we all limit ourselves in some way. We all do self-defeating things even if it is in minor ways.

      The bottom line is when we know we are having a problem it is up to us to make a plan and take steps to deal with that problem. I knew I was burning out, I did not realize how bad until I started to dig myself out. Dig yourself out, build something different in your life.

    5. hmm*

      “To me, this feels like a slap in the face. They are actively depriving their friends the option to even see the person we enjoyed having as a friend.”

      As a probably depressed person, this sentiment concerns me a little. It’s fine to sign off whenever, and it’s fine to protect yourself from/set boundaries with people who consistently upset you, drag you down, who you no longer enjoy being around. I would just keep in mind that they aren’t being depressed *at* you.

      I get it though. Loving depressed people over time is really exhausting. One of my friends is really good about saying, “I’m sorry, I really can’t hear this right now/not able to talk about that/we need to change the subject.” That straightforwardness actually alleviates my not insubstantial guilt regarding how annoying it is to be around me (real or imagined). To know that she’s comfortable telling me when she’s not comfortable makes being around her a lot easier than some of my other friends.

      1. Biff*

        I clarified the ‘slap in the face’ comment above. If you’d like, you can read it and see if I’m making more sense.

    6. AnonEMoose*

      When it’s okay to sign off is when you feel that it’s what you need to do. I know that sounds simplistic, and I suppose it is, but for me, it’s what has turned out to be true. It’s never an easy decision.

      I have a lot of friends who are dealing with various mental illnesses, of varying levels of severity. For me, when I find myself starting to dread interaction with them, not look forward to it, I know that it’s time to set some boundaries or try to re-frame things in some way.

      Back in my college days, I ultimately ended up walking away from one friendship, because I felt like I wasn’t helping her, I was enabling her. Because I would help her put the pieces back together, she wasn’t getting the help she really needed. We’re not really close anymore, but she is in a better place, and I’m glad to know that.

      I think what I’d suggest is that you do some hard thinking about what boundaries will work for you, if you don’t want to walk away from the friendships entirely. Once you figure that out, it then depends on how your friends react. If they’re willing to work with you, to the extent they’re able, you may still be able to salvage things. If not, then you may have some really hard decisions to make. But do keep in mind that taking a break can also be an option – the choices aren’t limited to “status quo” or “nuclear option.”

      The always-wonderful Captain Awkward blog might have some helpful stuff for you to think about. Best of luck!

    7. Temperance*

      So this is probably not going to be a popular response, but I don’t think you are obligated to spend energy and time on negative people. You can sign off at any time, basically. My answer would be different if you were the parent of a minor child with a mental health issue, but I don’t think it’s fair or reasonable for people to expect endless support.

      I have a mentally ill parent, so I’ve been subjected to someone’s illness for literally my entire life. That shit is exhausting, and shitty, and frankly, I’m a worse person when I’m around her negativity because it sucks me in. I mean, she has a personality disorder so it’s probably “worse” than depression.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Good stuff for OP. It’s pretty normal for people who drain us to bring out the worst in us. I had a family member (FM) relationship where my worst parts of me came right to the foreground. I did not like me. Why. Talking to FM was a lot like drowning. At first I lost parts of myself, then after a bit ALL of me was missing. I was fighting to collect up parts of myself as these parts of me floated by.
        I gave up.
        It almost killed me but I had to stop. I scolded myself, because in reality I thought she was a different person and I kept encouraging her to be this different person under the guise of helping. She did not want to be this other person. It was something I wanted, not her. Hopefully other people are talking to her and they are making more sense than I did.

        So OP, my pearl comes from my wise friend. My wise friend said, put your energy into people who are helping themselves. This means taking a minute to see what the person has done so far to work on their problems, so no rushing into burning buildings, okay? Indeed, I have found with my own life the more I do to help me, the more people lend a hand. It is to the point now that I realize I am most fortunate to understand this is how life works. Thank you, wise friend, where ever you may be.

    8. The Other Dawn*

      This probably won’t be very popular, but I’ve been there with a friend and I’ve had to end the friendship.

      She had some issues as a teen and young adult; however, she didn’t really make any effort to help herself. She was seeing the same therapist for 10+ years, but it didn’t seem to help her. Everything was everyone’s fault but her own. She wasn’t responsible for anything that happened to her. She had depression because of her parents’ divorce when she was a teen, but she used that as an excuse for EVERYTHING. I got really tired of spending two hours (!!) on the phone with her, listening to her man-bash and talk about how bad life is. I got tired of never being asked how I’M doing. Everything was about her and her problems. She once told me I couldn’t talk about a vacation I took because it made her depressed. So, eventually I dumped her. Had she done anything to help herself, or at least realize that she needed to make some changes, I probably would have stuck around. But since she didn’t, I couldn’t. It was so mentally exhausting and I just couldn’t deal with it anymore. I had tried helping her throughout the years, but every suggestion was met with 10 reasons why it wasn’t her fault she was the was she was.

      She eventually somehow got Disability so she doesn’t have to work anymore. She’s 42, lives at home with mom, has three kids (six pregnancies) by three different men, doesn’t work, and from what I hear from people that are still friends with her, is still convinced that all of this was done to her; it wasn’t because she made some bad choices or chose not to get help. Every once in a while I miss the friendship we used to have, but then I snap out of it when I realize she hasn’t changed and it would just be more of the same if I reconnected.

      1. fposte*

        I also think a reasonable takeaway is that you should be friends with people you like, not just people you used to like. That doesn’t mean every interaction has to be a joy, but when you’re repeatedly saying “Wow, I feel shitty after that conversation” that’s not really a friendship.

      2. paul*

        Yep. I mean, you can never know 100% what someone else is doing to improve but if they never seem to be working for a change and nothing ever does change and it’s always someone else’s fault? I’m done.

    9. Stellaaaaa*

      I have similar thoughts. At my age, I’ve come down to feeling that I won’t make time for people who have access to resources (meds, help, family) but won’t use them. My life is not a playground that people are allowed to eff around in.

      I also feel like if I have to put work into managing the pricklier parts of my personality, it’s not out of line to ask people with illnesses to at least try to participate in society in a positive way. Everyone has to work at themselves.

      1. paul*


        I spent 2.5 years in CBT working on productive ways to manage stress and fear; I’m not saying this as someone who hasn’t ever had to work on these things. And yeah, I do think it’s good to make allowances for people with mental health issues. But in social relationships, there has to be some form of reciprocity and give-and-take. If someones all take and no give, and you’re always the one putting up with shit and making allowances and they don’t? Drop ’em.

    10. Persephone*

      I am answering before reading any other answers to you so I can give you the advice I’d give myself. It’s actually a variation of a piece of excellent advice I found about the holidays, which is “When the tradition becomes a burden, it’s time to change the tradition.”

      When dealing with friends and family who won’t change their situations when they can, who won’t take responsibility but want others to do so, I say to you (and me): “When the friendship/relationship becomes a burden, it’s time to change the friendship/relationship.” For me, that means deciding that I might let go of the person, quietly remove them from my life, either quickly or slowly, with or without an explanation. It would be done without anger or resentment because that is what I am choosing to remove from my life; in other words, I am making a positive choice for myself.

      I can tell you that you cannot make up in support what someone won’t supply themselves. And why doesn’t really matter; what matters is that they continue to choose what they want even while complaining about it. If what they are doing makes them unhappy but they continue to make those some choices then there is something in the results that they want or need–and perhaps that or part of that is the comfort that comes with the familiarity, however unhappy it makes them.

      So choose for yourself. Maybe you will end up not having these people in your life; maybe you will only see them in certain ways for very limited amounts of time. But whatever you choose, make sure you choose for yourself, not them because life whiners will always survive, will always find new victims . . . I mean sympathizers.

    1. Jillociraptor*

      I have both Warby Parker and Zenni glasses. Warby Parker was fast and the quality of the glasses is excellent. I have 5 or 6 pairs around for various moods. Zenni was also fine — I bought the super cheap ones and the quality matched the price. However, I know others who have bought the more expensive frames and lenses and had good experiences with Zenni.

      Both were much cheaper than a typical optometrist or chain’s office. The offices usually have some kind of sale but I always find it hard to know which pairs are part of the sale, etc., so Warby Parker feels a lot more transparent. There’s no benefit for me to return to brick and mortar stores.

    2. BTW*

      I wouldn’t suggest it unless you’re like me and literally every pair of glasses fits the shape of your face and looks good. I’m not sure where you are but the cheapest option for me was always Costco.

      1. New Girl*

        Last time I got glasses I went to Walmart. I believe it was around $300 for exam and glasses and that was about 6-7 years ago.

    3. Temperance*

      I have, but I am only a “backup” glasses wearer. It’s incredibly cheaper. I do Zenni Optical, and you can get passable glasses under $15.

      1. Mindful anon*

        How do you get the Pupil Distance information? I have the prescription from my eye Dr, but not that measurement. We ended up with a LOT of cafeteria plan money left to spend, so I can get several pairs of glasses if I want them…

    4. Aardvark*

      I’ve gotten glasses from LensCrafters, Zenni Optical, and Warby Parker, and I’ve liked my LensCrafters ones the best. The pupillary distance/placement seems more accurate when I get measured in the store. I’ve got astigmatism in addition to nearsightedness, so the exact placement may matter more to me than to you (there are more things going on with the prescription.) Besides that, the frames have always held up pretty well–as a daily wearer that’s an important factor to me. I was able to see what they’d actually look like on my face and have gotten far more compliments on them than on my other pairs.
      My Warby Parker frames stretched out really fast and there’s nowhere to get them reshaped like you can with a brick and mortar store. After a few months I was holding them on every time I looked down! However, they were cheaper than in-person frames would have been if I didn’t have vision insurance. They looked okay on but were too wide for my face (which was fine until they stretched out…) Zenni was okay. I got three pairs for the price of one Warby Parker pair. One of which was awful in person and two of which were just fine. They served their purpose as backup and special-purpose glasses, and they were so cheap it didn’t really matter that 1/3 of them were ugly. (2/3, but one was an athletics pair and doesn’t count.)

    5. Franzia Spritzer*

      I have 12 pairs from Zenni, I love them!

      When I hit 40 my eyes went south, way south. I’ve worn glasses my whole life, getting updated prescriptions every two to three years as needed but now I’m getting major changes every year. Previously I’d spend a lot on frames considering they’d be on my face for two-three years and my prescription is a bit complicated so my lenses were always in the $400-500 range, new glasses were always about $1k even with insurance. When my eyes started changing once a year I fretted over how I was going to afford that. I looked into big chain opticians, considering their cheapest options and they were still too expensive (and ugly) so I caved to cheap online glasses and haven’t looked back. I was afraid that I’d be compromising style for cost but I’ve found that’s just not true. The cost has been liberating!

      I order transition, progressive lenses with the highest grade anti-reflective coatings and don’t restrict myself on the price of the frames. I have had the $6.95 frames and I’ve had their “premium” frames and have been equally satisfied (maybe because I’m only wearing them for a year). Now I can get glasses for around $100 rather than $1000 and I couldn’t be happier. Because the price point is so low I have the opportunity to get prescription sun glasses now and I love it! My favorite pair so far are heart shaped with a gradient tint, I will likely get a new pair when my script changes again.

      Zenni works for me. I have kept track of my favorite frame’s measurements so I can shop for new frames with confidence, I’ve only been off once, in that the frames I got were a little smaller than I’d prefer for the sake of fashion, but they’re actually just fine. How can you go wrong with purple aviators with animal print temples? You can’t!

      I don’t use Warby Parker because their multifocal lenses/glasses are about $400 and that just doesn’t fit into my budget. If I wore single vision glasses, I’d be picking up what their putting down.

      I just opened up to looking at eyebuydirect.com, they’ve got a lot of great styles that are super on trend and a similar price point as zenni, their frames might be more modestly styled than the frames I prefer, I’m into kooky glasses (as noted above).

      Frett not! Boldly explore online eyewear options.

    6. Red*

      My glasses are from Zenni. I love the prices, they’re so cheap. The only difficulties are in finding ones that fit. You really have to know what measurements you need. That, or do what I did and just buy 3 cheap pairs and not really care because if they don’t work out it’s only $6.95.

    7. AliceBD*

      I have a pair from Zenni. My previous pair of glasses was a few years old and starting to fall apart, and I needed something to tide me over until I went back to the eye doctor (I didn’t want expensive glasses in case my prescription had changed). The Zenni ones are fine. They were significantly cheaper than the eye doctor ones, but I think I see better out of the eye doctor ones. I paid for some extra coatings on the lenses and didn’t get the cheapest frames, so they weren’t $10 or whatever, but more like $60 instead of $250. My biggest thing was that I had a LOT of trouble finding frames I liked at Zenni, whereas at the eye doctor I find a lot of frames I like. I’m not talking about brand names — I don’t care about those — but I am very picky as to shape and color of my lenses, and the ones I like aren’t the trendiest now so apparently they’re harder to find.

      I wear glasses anytime I am not in bed, and have for 20 years.

    8. chickabiddy*

      I think it depends on your needs. My daughter has a very, very strong prescription. When I experimented with the Zenni site, all the extras she needed added up to the point that the final price was not far off from Visionworks (chain) when they were running a good coupon/sale. For her, I decided that the price difference was not worth foregoing the personal service and chance to try on frames. For me, I wear glasses only for reading, which means that I have a simple prescription and usually only wear them at home, so online glasses work well enough.

    9. ginger ale for all*

      I am a fan of Zenni for reasons that have been listed here and one that hasn’t. You can take a selfie and try on the glasses online with your photo. I have a tough time trying on glasses in a brick and mortar store because I can’t see without my glasses and so trying on the dummy pairs is almost useless.

    10. The dark trick*

      I have, through Optics Planet, my frames weren’t available elsewhere and they were cheaper than my previous glasses purchased at lens crafters and better quality.m. Just had to go have an eye exam done, get the required info and then order. I got my glasses pretty quickly and the Rx was correct. Good experience, would definitely order through them again. They only do new frame/lens orders though, no replacement lenses unless they’ve changed their policy.

    11. Reba*

      I have Warby Parker frames, have had for 4 years (just realized how long–yikes!). I love them, will get my next pair(s) from them. Nice range of styles, good quality (though I have a fairly mild correction so can’t speak to heavier lenses), and the price is just the price, no adding on for this and that. I was able to do adjustments myself using a hairdryer to warm the arms, but you may want to find an optometrist that will adjust for a little fee.

      I also have a pair from Zenni that I just use as computer (tinted) glasses, quality is super low but I chose cheap (~$30 altogether I believe).

      One thing that helped me in shopping for glasses online was measuring my current frames in millimeters, so I had a benchmark of “X bridge size feels good on my nose” and “Y frame width looks good on my face.”

      Have fun!

    12. Mon Mon*

      I also have pairs by Warby, Zenni and the Dr’s Office (Cover Girl brand). I have a light Rx for night driving. The Zenni ones I bought a cheap pair so I either had a back up or I bring them when traveling (so if I break or lose them during travel, I’m not TOTALLY PO’ed). My eye doctor gave me the Rx with the pupillary distance, and I do love that you can order online without sending a copy of the Rx. Just type it in and voila! I find that if the glasses don’t fit right, I can take them to an optical store and for a nominal fee, they’ll make adjustments (I have a bony nose and close set eyes).

  24. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    I’m spending Christmas 1-on-1 with my family member who has cancer. How do you celebrate Christmas with someone who has cancer (e.g. going through chemo/exhausted but can type/call/use iPhone)?

    Was thinking Pinterest, cool websites, art, and family member’s appetite’s better–was gonna make cookies. Other ideas? My mom’s not staying with her bc all she does is talk cancer, and my family member likes to think her life goes beyond that.

    1. Lucy Westenra*

      Movies at home, either streaming or DVD, and short outings if family member is up for them. If there’s a diner or cafe near where they live, maybe go get lunch or dinner? Take your cues from them. Sometimes it’s nice to just hang out and chat and know someone’s there for you.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      When my aunt went into remission we would visit. Before the visit we agreed that we would tell each other when we were ready for a nap. These naps were the best. She ended up having my animals sleeping on her bed beside her in the guest room and she LOVED their company. I got the down time I needed with my own nap. We enjoyed our visits MORE because we could tell each other “nap time” and understand it was not out of rudeness, it was out of necessity.

      Try to have a rough idea of how you will handle some stuff- naps, meals, outings if any, etc. If she has one bathroom and you know you are a bathroom hog, work that out before you get there. When I went to my aunt’s I asked her to make a list of chores. (She knew my skill sets so she did not pick car repair or anything that was beyond me.)

    3. Temperance*

      Will it just be you and this relative, or will your husband be there?

      I think it depends on the person’s age, quite honestly. My husband’s grandmother is the most negative person I’ve ever met, so when she had cancer, all she did was talk about cancer, how terrible she felt, and how it was our fault if she died because we didn’t go to Mass or pray the rosary. The fun ideas you have upthread wouldn’t have worked for her, because she’d rather wallow in her misery. (She’s fine now, BTW, and has been in remission for years.) When we had to spend that Christmas with her, it was a lot of boring sitting around, listening to what I call “The Nana Show”. Okay, that’s all of our interactions.

      One of my friends has cancer, and is limited in what he can do because of exhaustion and his damaged immune system, but we’ve hung out, watched shows we like, and just spent time together.

      1. Carmen Sandiego JD*

        It’s just me staying with family member–the apt is quite compact (read: small). Our ages, respectively are late 20s and 30s, so its almost like staying with an older sibling. Mainly, said member wants to have as normal a Christmas as reasonably possible under the circumstances (ie. not chemo-talk my mom would dish out–just light non-chemo-y stuff).

        1. Temperance*

          OH my apologies – I totally misread. (I thought that the person with cancer was the Negative Nancy.)

          In that case, I would stock up on fun holiday movies like Christmas Vacation, Bad Santa, and Die Hard, and all of the classics, eat whatever she wants, bake cookies, etc.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        Or just decorating cookies. Even if you have no appetite, the odd nibble here and there, bit of icing… yum!

        I would also suggest that if there is a special family recipe for something that you both like, make that. Far too often, those get hoarded or zealously guarded and not passed down.

    4. ..Kat..*

      Ask her what she would like to do. If she does not reply with specific activities she would like to do, make it a multiple choice question. For example, would you like to do A, B, C, or something else?

  25. Lucy Westenra*

    If this counts as school feel free to remove it. Has anyone here taken CDL [commercial driver’s license] classes in the US? I’m heading that way. What were your experiences? What was hardest? Tips for newcomers?

  26. Chilleh*

    So I’m not sure how this has happened, but my cat and I have gotten to the point where she will sit on the edge of a bed right next to my desk chair and will continually tap me on the shoulder and meow into my ear until I stop what I’m doing and play Maru videos for her fullscreen on Youtube. Guess I’m switching to my Youtube browser tab right now.

    Does anyone of you have cats that have you trained in silly ways like this?

    1. Lily Evans*

      My cat does that when she wants me to play with her. She’ll drag a toy to wherever I’m sitting and meow and tap my knee until I pay attention to her or she realizes that it’s getting her nowhere.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      One of cats loves to play fetch. She brings her ball or mouse over and drops it by my feet. Then she meows (she sounds like a broken squeaky toy) and rubs against my legs. I throw the toy and she runds after it. Before I can even turn around to finish what I’m doing, she’s back again. This goes on every morning while I’m in the bathroom doing my makeup and hair. Every.Single.Morning. She’s cute, though.

    3. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Our cats are lodging with partner’s parents at the moment and the smart one, who likes her routines, totally has “grandpa” trained. And he’s such a sucker for it too! At 8pm sharp (I have no idea how that cat can tell time, but every night its the same time), she stands by the stairs that go down to the tv room. First she will stare at him and if he looks her way she meows and tosses her head to indicate “its tv time. Lets go watch tv.” Grandpa then asks her “Titta på tv, Midge?” (do you want to watch tv, Midge?) and she meows again and heads down, stopping halfway to make sure he’s following her. Then he sits in his recliner, lays out the blanket and she hops up, lays down between his legs and passes out.

      Its like some sort of bizarre ritual, but its been almost three years now and every night, the same meowing, the same question. We are supposed to get them back this year, not sure how the cat or grandpa are going to manage!

        1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

          Usually they watch tv mysteries or some music type show (like one of those singing competition ones). Most of the time she is asleep but she really likes to watch hockey for some reason and will stay awake for that, especially if its a late afternoon weekend game.

          She also likes to “help out” with home improvement projects. Last summer they rebuilt a deck and every photo update we got had Midge watching grandpa. Same as when they replaced the refrigerators, redid the kitchen, and rehung some wallpaper in an upstairs bedroom.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        My cats do similar things with time. The staring for dinner starts at least an hour before dinner time. Close to dinner time, it ramps up a bit. At night, my one cat knows when it’s bed time. Being at home, I’ve had a chance to really watch them (and enjoy them), so it’s funny that they have “schedules” of a sort and that the schedule/activities change for reasons I do not know. Recently, my girl has taken to sleeping beside me on the couch, while the boy sleeps first up on the highest platform of the cat tree for 2-3 hours, then comes and sleeps on my other side. Which continues until about 5pm, and then the pre-dinner staring and kitchen-dashing begins.

    4. FDCA In Canada*

      One of my cats has a bed my mom made for her last Christmas. It sits in the middle of the couch and it’s her go-to spot for naps and nighttime. Last night I moved it to the side so I could sit next to my husband, and my cat jumped up on the other chair and yelled and yelled and yelled at us until I moved her bed back. Then she hopped up and went to sleep there after yelling at us to pet her for a bit.

      She’s been sick for the past couple of weeks so it’s nice to have her back to full strength, but we forgot how noisy she could be.

    5. Perse's Mom*

      My girls had me trained to adjust my sleeping positions around them. As soon as I went to bed, the blanket would get lifted so they could take their positions. This usually meant one would climb over or between my knees and lay down behind them and the other would curl up against my stomach or sometimes up by my chest so that she could position herself with either her chin on my hand or her paws wrapped around my fingers.

      My only reprieve from this was in the warmer months, because it would get too hot to be under the covers and they hated the fan blowing on them.

      Months after the loss of the second one, it’s still very strange to have cold nights and no snuggly cat under the covers with me. (The remaining cat is not a snuggler.)

      1. Chilleh*

        I’m sorry for your loss :( That sounds so adorable that she wanted to “hold hands” with you at night.

    6. Epsilon Delta*

      My cat has some kind of sixth sense that’s attuned to when I sit down on the couch. He will wake up from a dead sleep, or come running from who-knows-where on the other end of the house when he hears me sit down, so that he can climb onto my chest and cuddle. It is the most adorable thing ever.

      He also sometimes sits on top of the fish tank and punches me when I walk past. It is always so unexpected, but then I look and see him and really how can you be mad at something so cute?

  27. Rebecca*

    Minor thing that’s driving me up a wall. I play Candy Crush on my Kindle HD Fire, not connected to Facebook. My Kindle is not overloaded with apps and books, yet Candy Crush (and only this one game) slows to such a crawl I can’t play, like to the point of just trying to flip one candy can take up to 30 -45 seconds or more. I cleared the cache, checked to make sure I wasn’t out of memory or file space, but nothing helps.

    Has this happened to anyone else? I hate to do this, but I think I’ll have to connect Candy Crush to Facebook to save my progress, and maybe reset my Kindle? Or play it on my phone instead…not sure what to do.

    I don’t play for hours at a time, just a few minutes each evening to sort of wind down. The crawling slowness has turned it from a relaxing experience to a frustrating one for sure!

    1. Cookie D'oh*

      I play it on my Kindle too and don’t have it connected to Facebook. Is it possible there are other apps running in the background? I click on the square button and it brings up other apps I can close. Also, is the app updated to the latest version?

      1. Rebecca*

        Hi! There were a lot of apps running in the background! I closed a bunch of them, not even sure why they would be running, and things greatly improved. Thank you!

    2. Jen Erik*

      I don’t have Facebook, but I was still able to save my progress when my tablet was dying – and when I downloaded it on to my new tablet it was just a matter of putting in my email and my password to get it back. Could you save your place, then try reinstalling it?

    3. Rebecca*

      I’m going to see if some other app or apps are running, and I know I have the latest update. I don’t think it’s dying, either, since this is the only thing that hangs up or doesn’t want to work properly. I’m going to try some things and see what happens. I am much better at laptops/desktops than tablets, for sure.

  28. The Other Dawn*

    Any suggestions for remedies to help nasal congestion? I came down with a cold this week and the nasal congestion is killing me. My usual go-to is nasal spray, but I don’t like to use that for more than a few days because it can actually make it worse the longer you use it. The only natural remedy I know of is candied ginger, but I don’t have any and the roads are too crappy right now. I tried it for the first time when I went to Old Strurbridge Village in MA last year. They were giving out samples and holy crap it cleared me right out! (I was sick last year at exactly the same time.)

    1. Lily Evans*

      Sometimes a warm compress over my sinus areas is helpful. Or steam, from either a hot shower or a mug of something hot.

    2. Jessesgirl72*

      Neti pot- gross, but it works.

      And the real sign-for-it-at-the-pharmacy OTC nasal decongestant. Not the stuff you don’t have to sign for.

        1. Cruciatus*

          The first time I tried it I forgot to breathe through my mouth and had a 5 second panicky moment as I was like “I can’t breathe!!” then…remembered I could. And after that it got better. I have a CVS brand one. Just remember not to use tap water. I put a glass of distilled water in the microwave for about 30 seconds, dump it into the neti pot with the salts and use it pretty frequently–more in winter (maybe every couple of days. Some people use it more/less frequently). You don’t have to warm it up but for me it feels so much nicer. I used to get frequent nose bleeds in winter, but this has really reduced them to maybe 1 a year (usually when I forget to use the neti pot). It is a weird sensation the first one or two times you do it, but then you get the knack.

        2. BRR*

          I use the squeeze bottle that’s basically the same thing. For me the most important part is to close my throat.

      1. Girasol*

        Neti pot only feels strange the first or second time you use it. Once you get the hang of it, you remember that feeling of having your nose all clean and breathable inside and the idea of using the Neti is pretty appealing.

    3. Chilleh*

      I’ve seen people with mix results to this one, but sometimes a long hot shower helps me temporarily. This doesn’t help some other people so YMMV. At the very least it’s free and easy to do. Hope you feel better!

    4. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Try a Neil Med sinus washer – its faster, easier, more efficient than a neti pot. I use it to keep things clean and flowing in the sinus area. On sale at Walgreens, Costco, etc.

      Alternatively – eat some spicy food if you are into that sort of thing and let it flow. Ginger is hot and spicy like that so maybe something similar (spicy chili or indian or vietnamese/thai) could help.

    5. FDCA In Canada*

      My go-to is Vicks if I have it, but if not: slicing up and chewing a clove of garlic can really clear you out if you don’t have to be around other people. A little bit of strong horseradish applied to the roof of the mouth can do it too. Hot-and-sour soup is great, although really any thin, broth-y soup will do if it’s hot enough. You can “steam out” your head by pouring boiling water in a bowl and hanging your head over it and covering it with a towel, or you can do the same thing with the hottest tap water over the sink. Really strong mint or mint oil is helpful when you do this! Or a long, hot shower and washing your hair.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Oh, that’s what I forgot at the store last night: Vicks! I used to LOVE the smell of it and haven’t used it much as an adult since I discovered nasal spray. I do have some horseradish, so thanks for that tip!

    6. Elkay*

      Steam. Boiling water in a bowl, put a towel over your head and breathe as deeply as you can for at least 5 minutes. It should loosen everything up. Also try to avoid blowing your nose too often.

      If you have Vicks or Olbas Oil put some of that in the water.

      1. Chaordic One*

        Yes, steam. Sometimes in the form of a nice long hot shower or a hot bath.

        Now that the weather is cold and in most places the air is dry, use some bath oil either in the tub and a gentle bath soap (I especially like “Dove Wintercare”). And then moisturize when done so your skin doesn’t get dry.

    7. copy run start*

      Saline nasal spray can help keep things moist up there and move the snot out. You can get a basic squeeze bottle for $2 – 3 at Target and most grocery stores. No medicine, so there’s no restrictions on usage. And it’s less traumatic for some compared to Netipots.

      I don’t handle Sudafed well, but the the decongestants they allow you to purchase without going to the pharmacy help me as long as I take them consistently. Benadryl can also dry your sinuses out and help you sleep.

    8. Florida*

      I feel super qualified to answer this question as this is a lifelong problem of mine. I have experimented with nearly every sinus medication, folklore cure, and quick fix ever invented.

      Afrin is a godsend when it comes to congestion. Don’t use it more than three days or you will get addicted.

      For natural remedies try breathing eucalyptuses oil. What I do is turn a coffee mug upside down. Put several drop on the bottom of the coffee mug. Hold it right up to your nose and breath it. I usually have to close my eyes because sometimes it burns my eyes. You do need to be able to breath at least a little bit through your nose for this to work. So you might need to start with steam.

      Steam is great. A hot shower will help, but standing over a pot of boiling water is even better.

      Some people have mentioned a netipot, NeilMed and other things that function the same way. If you are congested, as in your nasal cavities are blocked up, this won’t work. You have to clear the passage before you can flush it. (Useful tip for plumbing as well.) If you try it when your sinuses are blocked, the results are quite uncomfortable. If you can breathe through your nose, but it is drippy, then the netipot, NeilMed, etc. will work.

      This is totally disgusting but I’m going to suggest it anyway… If you are blowing your nose a lot (and you are not in public) then blow your nose in an old t-shirt instead of tissues. Tissues are made from paper, which comes from trees. You are wiping your nose with wood particles (that what paper is), so it’s no wonder your nose gets chapped after a while. You can blow your nose a thousand times on a t-shirt and your nose won’t get chapped. If it’s just you, no one will care about the snotty t-shirt you are carrying around blowing your nose into. However, I would not recommend carrying this t-shirt into a restaurant or anywhere else in public.

      1. AliceBD*

        A few years ago I took some leggings that had died and them them into (very) roughly square shaped pieces about 6″ across. I use those like handkerchiefs when I get a cold and they are fantastic — perfect for blowing your nose all day, and easy to carry. They’re also fantastic if you’re watching a sad movie and crying a lot as they are softer around your eyes than tissues. Just throw them in the wash with your socks and underwear. Cutting up a tshirt or something would work too, but I liked using the black leggings because I wouldn’t mistake them for cleaning rags made of tshirts.

    9. FormerLibrarian*

      Chamomile tea has helped me with sinus issues. Sometimes it seems to help cut the cold short too.

      I use the saline nasal spray, and since the inside of my nostrils can get very dry and cracked, I’ll also use vasiline, though not in public – you just don’t look right sticking your finger up your nose! (Which reminds me, I should go set up the humidifier in the bedroom this evening which should help too.) When I can’t get Puff’s Plus, and for years before they were developed, I’d use vasiline on the outside of my nose after blowing. The year I discovered that trick was the first year I didn’t look like Rudolph in all the family Christmas photos.

      I second the eucalyptus oil. And spicy foods. The cafeteria at my grad school served very spicy chili every Wednesday. A classmate and I could always tell if we missed our weekly fix, because we’d be miserable and barely able to breathe by Sunday.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      Won’t help now with crappy roads, but my go to is willow bark. I have tried a lot scripts and OTCs and nothing comes close. I get relief within an hour or less.
      You can find it in some grocery stores and definitely in health food stores. Don’t waste the big bucks on the double strength, just get regular strength. I never found that much difference except price.

      You can save what you don’t use and get other uses out of it. Willow bark is the natural equivalent to aspirin. It works on swelling. So it works well with ice on large bruises. One friend used it for her broken toe, the next day she could put a shoe on, yea! It works on sinus headaches like a charm. Here it runs around $10 for a bottle of regular strength.

    11. Briefly Anonymous*

      As a veteran of many, MANY sinus infections, a long hot shower while firing snot rockets is a gross, but fairly good way to clear out AND it doesn’t irritate your nose more like prolonged tissue-wiping.

      …also, um, orgasms, while on your back, provide temporary relief.

      (In more ways than one badumtssshhh)

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        For any Vicks fan, I use some fantastic stuff called Erkaltungsbad, which as the name suggests is german. Basically, it’s a bad oil containing the same ingredients as Vicks and taking a hot bath in it does wonders in the desnottification process.

    12. The Other Dawn*

      Thanks for all the great suggestions!! The hot shower/tea/steam hasn’t worked this time like it normally does, but I’m thinking it will today because the congestion is finally breaking up a bit. Since it’s 50 and raining, which is melting away yesterday’s 5 inches of snow (good ol’ New England!), I’m headed to the store today to grab some Vicks and crystallized ginger, and next time I’m near the health food store I plan to pick up that willow bark. I can’t say that I’m eager to try the Neti pot, but maybe I’ll be brave enough at some point to do so.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I bought a neti pot and have not used it yet. Will get up the nerve at some point. You will have to let me know how the willow bark is going for you.

    13. Blue Birds Fly*

      I had all of mine taken out in my 40’s. They were all out and straight, no problems. But the dentist said the roots can cause problems. By the time I stopped dithering and had the surgery, one had grown down to my bottom jaw. But still, that one only gave me a tiny amount of additional problem in recovery.

    14. Blue Birds Fly*

      I’ve had sinus issues since I was an infant – my first allergy was canned artificial snow . I now take guaifenesin with no extra ingredients to keep the mucus thin. I also take a flonase-type nose spray. It is a steroid and doesn’t have the boomerang effect some types of nose sprays have. I live in the mold and mildew belt of the country and take 1/2 dose daily. When pollen allergies kick in, I take 1/2 dosages twice a day. I’ve successfully prevented sinus infections since doing this. Yay!

  29. Lily Evans*

    I’ve been having a hard time dealing with the cycle of emotionally difficult family members. When I don’t see them for a few months, I get lulled into thinking that maybe spending longer periods of time with them isn’t as bad as I remember. Maybe I’ve just been over-exaggerating their behavior in my head this whole time. So then I’ll agree to spend, say, a full day with them, and it never ends well. I’m trying to be better at trusting my own judgement of past situations and lowering my expectations for time we spend together, but it’s so difficult not to hope that maybe one of these times things will go better. Realistically, though, it probably won’t happen unless said family members start trying to improve things from their end, but they don’t even recognize what they’re doing wrong (untreated mental illness is almost definitely a big factor) so it’s not likely to happen anytime soon. So I’m left feeling guilty that I don’t want to spend time with these family members for the sake of my own mental health.

    And my mom would really like me to be like her travel buddy, but we couldn’t even spend one day in the city I live in without fighting. I just don’t know how to say “I love you, but I can’t spend that much time with you.” without making her defensive or hurting her feelings.

    1. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      My mother is exactly the same way (e.g. says if my SO doesn’t go to law school, she won’t accept him into the family). After free online therapy (and extracurriculars and superb friends) I laid out my plans with SO:
      -We would get better-paying jobs (done/in progress)
      -We would save lots of money so we wouldn’t ever be beholden to the mom (in progress)
      -If my mom doesn’t accept him into the family, I’ll leave *her* [idea of family] and create my own with SO
      -My mom will lose privileges/access to future grandkids

      I limit my contact to 1/week phone call for 30 min, and decline any visit more than every 3-4 weeks at very most. If she’d be less judgmental I’d totally be down for mall/shopping trips she invites me to, but it won’t be pleasant and I know better.

      Sometimes I freak out and worry I’m powerless–but I always text/talk to the SO who calms me down and helps me realize we’re in this together…

      1. Temperance*

        I just want to chime in as another attorney on the other side of what you’re going through. It gets easier, I promise.

        I think you may want to revisit how often you talk to her, eventually. I found that I’m a worse person when I have my mother involved in my life.

        1. Carmen Sandiego JD*

          Seven Cups of Tea. (I veer toward the chat version, you can live chat with an online therapist free. The upside is a prompt response, though you don’t know who you’ll get as a therapist, so YMMV (your mileage may vary).)

      2. Observer*

        I remember how bad things were when you originally started talking about your mother. I’m SOOOO glad you’ve gotten to this point. Also, glad that you are seeing your mother’s attempt to gaslight you for what it is. (It’s not your SO’s lack of law school, but the fact that she didn’t choose him that’s bothering her…)

        Which is to say that you are far from powerless. You’ve shown that you can take the steps you need to keep yourself sane and healthy. I’m sure you will be able to take any further steps you need.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Ditto from me. You have come a long way. You are a very strong person, I think that you can do whatever you set your mind to doing.

          1. Carmen Sandiego JD*

            Thanks y’all. It really means a lot…..

            I think what also helped was SO and I talk frequently about the progress we’re making/life goals. We’ve written out goal plans for the next few years, aimed toward seeing where to allocate finances, and he also got a new job which helps. Hopefully 2017 will bring big better, crazier, interesting things :)

    2. Temperance*

      I’ve shared this before, but I have a borderline mother. She can keep herself together for limited periods of time, but eventually, she does something that reminds me of why we don’t talk much.

      You don’t owe anyone your time and energy. You should be your first priority. Just remember that your relative is choosing to act a certain way. Untreated mental illness isn’t an excuse/reason to treat people poorly. They know that there’s an issue with their behavior, because it has resulted in consequences for them.

      Your mother knows that she’s pushing your buttons, which is why she’s pushing boundaries with you and trying to make you do things that make you uncomfortable. My mother does that to me, but with her, it’s constantly trying to goad me into saying “i love you” and visit her. I just … don’t respond. We’re not close, though, and not really in contact, so this may not work for you.

      1. Lily Evans*

        It’s weird because I don’t think she knows sometimes that she’s pushing buttons. I dealt with her for a long time by just giving in, but then I moved further from home, went to therapy, and actually push back or just shut the behavior down. A petty part of me really likes seeing the way she tries to defend her behavior now when I point it out to her. But it’s still just as emotionally taxing even though I’m handling it better to her face.

    3. Today's anon*

      I would wonder what are you trying to fill with your need to see your mother in this idealized way? why are you hanging on to this fantasy? I find that when I can answer that, the attachment disappears. For parental attachments, though, sometimes it is necessary to sort this out with a therapist because these relationships are so old and complex.

      1. Lily Evans*

        It took quite a bit of therapy to get to the point I’m at now, actually. And I don’t think it’s so much a fantasy, since I know that in reality nothing is likely to change, as much as wishful thinking.

        1. Today's anon*

          I am sorry if I sounded harsh, I was not belittling the fact that you are where you are, I just think there might be more road to travel. This is incredibly hard.

          1. Lily Evans*

            It is, and it was a good suggestion for reflection! It was just a reflection that feels like beating a dead horse at this point. It’s just hard to separate the way things actually are from the way I’d like them to be sometimes. Especially when it’s not something I can change singlehandedly.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              There are some good motherless daughter books out there, you might like to check out. The stories show you patterns and once you see the patterns you know that you are not alone and you also get the vocab to describe the behaviors.

              I will tell you the punchline: Be a good mom to yourself. Take the time to learn the things your mother should have/could have taught you. Google is my adopted mom! I have learned so much. Also take care of you, make sure your needs are met and make sure you have enjoyable stuff going on, too.

              I know I can get a wishy-washy brain and I can make a decision and then waiver. If you need to put pen to paper and write out some guidelines that you want yourself to use with your mother/family. Put the guidelines in writing, tweak them if they are not working and make yourself review them every so often so that you use them with consistency.

              From what you are saying here, it sounds like you still see your mother for too long a period. So maybe shorten the period of time you visit?

              From my own personal experience, nature abhors a vacuum. People will come along to fill in your gaps. Perhaps there is an older woman at work or in your neighborhood who always seems SO happy to see you. Pay attention to this. No, it is not the same as having a mother. But most of us will have a life long need for the companionship of an older person. Start now. Relationships with older people, who you respect, can help to round out your life.

              See, deciding to see less of an abusive parent is only half of the decision. The other half of the decision is figuring out how you want to handle life and relationships going forward. Then building those relationships slowly but surely. It’s not enough to be going away from something, it’s a human need to be going toward something. Build what it is that you are going toward.

    4. ..Kat..*

      I recommend checking out the Captain Awkward site. You will find strategies, scripts, and reassurance for this particular problem on her site.

    5. BBBizAnalyst*

      I just think you have to be blunt. I’ve gone no contact recently with my narcissistic parents. They’re never going to change or be the parents I wish them to be. And what’s been important is coming to terms with the fact that I have to stop waiting for an apology I’m never going to get and live my life.

      You shouldn’t sacrifice your peace of mind for people who gaslight you and don’t respect you as an adult.

  30. Sunflower*

    Advice for how to choose a checking/savings account?

    I’m 28 and still have my first student account. I’ll probably keep this account open to write checks from since it’s free(I only use checks to pay rent and for wedding gifts) but how do I choose where to keep the majority of my $$? How do I choose how much/what to put in which account? I’m not really saving for anything except emergency fund and travel so I’d like to have an account that I strictly use for travel funds.

    1. orchidsandtea*

      I love local credit unions. The rates tend to be good for savings, the service is excellent, and if you ever need credit cards / home loans their interest rates are great.

      1. Dan*

        When I was.in college, I got hooked up with a credit union that required any requests to be *faxed* in. This was in the late 90’s, and it’s not like faxes were a common household thing. They wouldn’t even accept phone or email, it was fax only. I hated it so much.

        To each his own — my advice with financial products is to review all of the terms and conditions, without making blanket assumptions that “all banks” do this and “all credit unions” do that.

            1. Dan*

              You can nitpick my wording if you want (although that’s generally frowned upon around here) but really, my general point was that not all credit unions are the same, and that some are better than others. And especially with financial products, one needs to evaluate products individually and not make generalizations. I’m sorry that point got lost.

      2. Anonymous Educator*

        +1 on a the credit union recommendation. I don’t get slapped with fees. They don’t magically open unsolicited credit cards for me. And I can pull from pretty much any ATM and get the fee refunded to me.

    2. katamia*

      Think about things you might need down the road even if you don’t need them now. If you’re planning on international travel, check out what their fees are for international ATMs, for example. Also make sure you compare interest rates, branch locations, ATM locations, whatever you think might become important to you.

      Also, credit unions are great (or so I’ve heard), but don’t be wedded to the idea because not everyone is eligible for them. I’ve checked, and I’m not eligible for a single one, so it’s banks for me.

      1. fposte*

        Credit unions are also pretty variable. Mine is good in some ways and not in others (there’s a fee for online bill pay service, for instance, which isn’t that common nowadays).

        I will also say that almost nowhere will offer a savings rate worth breaking a sweat over these days. If you have enough money that the savings interest rate deeply matters, you probably shouldn’t be putting that money in savings. I would prioritize things like the characteristics katamia notes; also think about how you plan to use this account and whether it’s a good thing to have it easily accessible or whether it’ll achieve your goals better if it’s a bit less visible to you.

        1. katamia*

          Interest rates shouldn’t be the only factor, but if there are two banks that both provide everything that OC needs, then going with the one with the higher interest rate isn’t a bad plan even though the extra amount of money will be minimal.

          1. fposte*

            No disagreement there. I’ve just seen people sweating through ridiculous stuff like mailed-in deposits only for an additional five bucks a year.

      2. Stellaaaaa*

        From my own minimal research, credit unions don’t seem ideal if you like to keep some cash on hand.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Hmm, I wonder where you’ve looked? Many (all?) credit unions function pretty much like a bank does — for example, I have USAA and I have totally normal checking and savings accounts through them and can easily get cash out at any time. The differences are that they give me a dividend back every year and they often have better rates and more customer-friendly policies that traditional banks because they exist to serve their members rather than to make a profit for shareholders.

            1. the gold digger*

              1. I think USAA is a bank.
              2. USAA (for non-members) allows you to deposit checks by scanning and emailing them to USAA.
              3. You can use any ATM you want and the fee will be reimbursed (up to ten times a month, I think)
              4. You can write checks online to be sent to pay your bills.
              5. I don’t think there are fees for just having a checking account.

              USAA is amazing.

          1. Stellaaaaa*

            I don’t really remember the details, as it was about 10 years ago. At that time, the ones that were available to me made it seem like getting cash via an ATM would be an expensive hassle. Plus during those years (my early-mid 20s) I was constantly depositing and withdrawing cash so it just wasn’t a good option for me.

          2. Girasol*

            My credit union is cashless and in that way differs from most banks. If I want cash it comes from an ATM. There’s a hoop-jump if I need big amounts of cash. But they’ve given me good rates and easy service on mortgages, free checking, online service and bill-pay, extra safety during the bank melt-downs, money management coaching, and a number of other services. I’ve got horror stories from three of the the big-name banks I used when I was just getting started in life but in 30 years with the same credit union I’m still a delighted customer.

        2. chickabiddy*

          I’m generally very happy with my credit union. I can use my debit card anywhere. Like most financial institutions, they do charge fees for ATMs that are not theirs, but there are no fees for cash back at the grocery store, so I just get my cash that way. Also, they let my daughter have a checking account and Visa debit card at 13 (with me as co-signer) and at least here, the bigger banks would not.

    3. Rebecca*

      I like my credit union, since everything is online and I can easily set up shares, move money from one share to another, and ATM’s aren’t a problem because it’s a member of the Star network, and I get up to 4 ATM fees refunded per month (up to $8). I use checking to pay bills, and my paycheck is direct deposited there, savings is for fuel oil and furnace related issues, vacation fund is where I stash my savings, since you can’t access it from an ATM, Christmas share is for my township auditor pay, and I set up a money market for work bonuses. It’s easy to see at a glance online how much is in each account. Hope this helps!

    4. copy run start*

      Fees — are there fees on checking or savings accounts, and are those waived with minimum balances/direct deposit, etc.?
      Interest — what interest do they give and is it checking and savings, or just savings?
      Access — if you travel, is there a network of fee-free ATMs you can access? Is there an ATM or branch near you?
      Features — online banking, bill pay, mobile apps, etc.
      Service — is interacting with your bank/credit union going to be a pain in the arse? Best to ask around on this.

      Online-only banks seem to offer the best interest rates lately, but there’s no place to walk in and get immediate assistance, and you usually need another account to transfer money in and out. Traditional banks have large networks and nice features, but you will want to check out their fees and interest rates. If you have credit unions around, they may be worth looking into as well. Sometimes they’ll have better interest rates and less fees, but you will potentially lose some features.

      Personally I’ve used a credit union since college and my one knock against them is that they’re a little slow to roll out improvements like online banking or bill pay or a mobile app. But they have always offered fantastic service to me, which makes up for it.

      I have a savings account with Ally bank to take advantage of the higher interest. I keep one months’ expenses in my credit union’s savings account and the rest of my emergency fund with Ally — it takes a couple days to transfer money, but it is still accessible and earning more interest there. Plus it deters me from spending it.

    5. Red*

      I love Ally because they have a high interest rate on their accounts, but there is a serious downside in that you really can’t deposit cash. I don’t care because I never have cash anyway, but ymmv. Anyway, I keep all money I’ll use in the next month in checking, and anything longer-term than that in savings. For you, I’d decide how much you wanted to save for each thing, and just send that over to it’s savings account. Anything other than that can reasonably live in savings.

    6. Stellaaaaa*

      To be honest, I just converted my student account to an adult one at the same bank. I was lucky to already be with TD. I’m not sure how their rates and whatnot compare, but I’ve never had the issues that my friends have had with other banks. Keep $100 in checking, $400 in savings, and opt out of paper mailed statements (ie take it to email) and you’ll never pay any fees.

    7. Belle*

      I think it partially depends on how often you want to access the money, where do you want to access money and how important is the APR.

      For example – I use Capitalone360 checking and savings for our travel and emergency fund. It has a decent APR but can pull the money out through a large ATM network or transfer it to my primary checking (my free student account at US Bank). You can also open multiple accounts for free with the 360, so I am able to deposit so much into my e-fund and travel fund each paycheck and keep the money separate. For me, this was a big point.

      I also have a small CD that gets better interest but you can’t raid early without a penalty. This is good because it earns more — but isn’t very liquid for short-term emergencies.

      Last – Roth IRAs can also be a good savings vehicle. Anything you put in can be withdrawn penalty free (the principal part) so many young Americans put money in there to help with retirement but can access it for emergencies.

      Just some food for thought!

  31. Jenbug*

    I have my family Christmas party tonight with my aunt who insensitively included a poem about spending your first Christmas in Heaven with Jesus signed with her brother’s name who passed away in September in her Christmas cards. And my alcoholic cousin who spelled my sister’s name wrong on her Christmas card. Wish me luck.

  32. waffles*

    parental leave – what did you end up considering when deciding how long to take leave and did you feel like it ended up being right for you? first child will join us in april and i have generous parental leave for an american. i have had colleagues who got bored early and came back, colleagues who took 6 months and did lots of side projects, and everything in between. im not sure how i will feel (normal i know), but interested to hear about how people felt on leave. were you bored, did you find it relaxing, would you have taken the opportunity to go on vacation, etc. if there is already a thread about this please do point me to it!

    1. Anne*

      On my second maternity leave now so here’s my two cents. My company only offers the standard 12 weeks, and the culture in my department is to take it all, so that’s what I’ve done. My son is actually 12 weeks old today and I go back to work on next Wednesday (I was able to take a couple of vacation days to have a short week). Honestly, I’d love a lot more leave. In a perfect world I’d take 6 months and then work part time till baby turned 1. I enjoy being at home and taking care of household items and this time around I stay plenty busy with both the baby and the 2 year old. I also tend to have easy babies and I nurse so that removes a lot of work because I don’t deal with bottles regularly. I don’t know that I would consider parental leave “relaxing” but it’s been a good break from work for me.

      As far as vacations go, traveling with a baby is way easier than traveling with a toddler. Ha.

      1. Anne*

        Also it depends on how you do on sleep deprivation. I’ve found that I generally function well if I wake up a couple times a night and baby goes back down quickly (swaddling is our secret weapon). Also depends on how well you or your partner recover from childbirth.

        1. Amy*

          This is so true. And unfortunately there’s no way to know what kind of baby you’re going to get. I was super lucky in the good-sleeper lottery and my baby started sleeping through the night at just over 2 months (caveat: sleep development is NOT linear and she had periods with night wakings after this, but overall she’s a champ and can self-soothe back to sleep pretty easily). Other moms I know have babies her age who still wake every 3 hours and need a lot of help getting back to sleep. There’s not really much sleep training you can do before 4 or so months of age so it’s pretty much the luck of the draw. Some people still manage to function really well but I would be a total mess.

    2. Cobalt*

      I took the 12 weeks offered by FMLA. For me, I would have taken much more if it was an option–in fact, I did eventually request (and get) part time status. My son didn’t sleep through the night until he was 2!!! so I was pretty much a zombie at work for a while, and I would have loved some more bonding time in those early months.

      Could you plan to take 12 weeks or so and pre-schedule a meeting with your boss at around 10 weeks to discuss what make sense after that?

    3. Just Me and My $0.02*

      I had PPD, so take my experience as just one possibility. I was out for 12 weeks and then went back part time for another 5 weeks. I was happy to get back to routine, but overwhelmed by the full transition. I used that part-time period to continue working with a therapist. At that point, I needed to feel competent, which I got from work but not parenting.

      At no point would I have described myself as bored or capable of side projects.

    4. Neruda*

      I’m in Australia so my conditions are different but my job is currently being held for me but I am no longer getting paid leave. My daughter is almost 8 months old. I have no plans to return to work until she is at least 12 months old. Everyone is different but I am not bored. I do miss aspects of my work but my desire to be with my child outweighs that but far. At this point if I went back to work it would feel like someone cut my arm off! Each to their own though, some people just don’t prefer being at home with their kids and need the outlet of work.

    5. Amy*

      I have a young baby and am part of a mother’s group at which this is a frequent topic of discussion. It’s kind of a running joke that before our babies were born everyone in the group (we’re all first-time moms) thought we’d want to be back at work so much sooner. Without fail, every one of us has hard a really hard time going back at the 3 or 4-month mark. Some were able to extend their leave, go back part-time initially, or negotiate more work-from-home time. These are all highly successful, career-driven women so these feelings surprised many of them since they expected to miss work and look forward to returning. I’m not saying this is a universal experience by any means, but it’s pretty common, from what I’ve seen. That said, once they did return to work the majority did enjoy it after the initial week or so of angst at leaving their child with a caregiver. It’s actually really nice to use different parts of your brain and to be able to go to the bathroom without a tiny person sitting on your lap and screaming at you. And you appreciate your baby so much when you get home!

      So, all that in mind, I would recommend you take the maximum. I think it’s probably(?) easier to do that and come back earlier if you really end up wanting to than the other way around.

    6. New Bee*

      I’m currently on leave and will be out 16 weeks, all paid (my job offers more generous leave than most). I would’ve liked to be out longer, but I may want to leave this job soon and want to go back and make my mark/negotiate a few things before hiring season. I also work from home a lot and have a flexible schedule, so I won’t be going back to 9-5 in an office, which has benefits and drawbacks. My baby’s still new, and it doesn’f feel like vacation at all, to say the least.

  33. New Bee*

    Anyone here in an interfaith marriage? My husband and I are both very secular representatives of our respective religions, but people have a lot of questions, especially now that we have a kid. We’re planning to raise her in my husband’s faith, mostly because he at least went through some of the rituals as a kid(he had a bar mitzvah, etc.), whereas I didn’t, but we don’t ever really go to Temple/church. To be honest, as a POC (we’re also interracial) I’m more invested in my kid being culturally connected, especially since she’s not growing up surrounded by people of the same race like I did. Curious about other folks’ experiences!

    1. LizB*

      I’m the product of an interfaith marriage and was raised entirely Jewish (my mom’s faith), and still practice actively. I don’t know if my perspective would be helpful, but I’m happy to answer questions!

      For a whole variety of perspectives, interfaithfamily [dot] org is a great site full of articles, forums, and information for Jewish-nonJewish families and couples.

      The one thing I will say: if you can find a synagogue that is as racially diverse as possible, that will likely be helpful for your kiddo. There are plenty of Jews of color out there, but the broader community in the US has been very slow to recognize that, and many of my friends have run into nasty racist attitudes or racial microaggressions from members of their synagogues or the broader Jewish community. Perspectives are changing, but it’s slow going, so finding a community that’s on the forefront of racial justice work is a good idea.

      1. New Bee*

        Thanks! We had a Jewish wedding, and the rabbi who married us is biracial, though not our same mix. That temple is somewhat diverse (and has had programs and stuff on diverse Jews), but pretty much all the JOC are East Asian (I’m Black). I also know some people feel some kinda way about kids who don’t have a Jewish mother–we think it’ll potentially be easier for my kid to “fit in” with Black people because the definition of “Black” has historically been very open, but hopefully the temple continues to diversify.

        1. LizB*

          I’m glad you found a more diverse temple to go to! I hope your community continues to work on its views and make sure it’s welcoming. I hope your kid is able to be comfortable in both the Jewish and the Black communities and have lots of support.

    2. katamia*

      I’m the product of an interfaith marriage. Both my parents are very secular, and I had no religious education (though funnily enough, I got the history/basics of all other religions in school but not the two my parents grew up in). Most of the people I knew as a kid were members of my father’s religion, though, and even today I still feel more “normal” and welcome when I’m around members of my father’s religion than members of my mother’s religion because their dialect and mannerisms are just more similar. However, I also feel a bit like a pretender because even though we have the same culture, I never went through any of the religious traditions or experiences that most people did. I wish I had had some of those experiences even though I’m not religious today and have no intention of becoming more religious.

      My parents are of the same race but different ethnic groups, and I identify more with my father’s ethnic group (more of a minority, though not in the same way as the situation would be if my parents were of different races), probably because I know that a lot of people in my mother’s religion/ethnic group would be less likely to accept me fully–there’s some prejudice there. Which is also probably a factor in why I feel more comfortable around people of my father’s religion/ethnic group.

      1. New Bee*

        The end of your first paragraph is why we’re raising our kid in the minority religion, so she’ll at least have the cultural points of reference. I’m sorry to hear that about your mom’s group–I could see my kid feeling similarly, like I noted above, but I think that’s a common experience for mixed POC.

    3. Anono-me*

      3rd generation of Interfaith marriages with a few suggestions as requested.

      In my experience and based on what my family has shared:

      Watch for people of Faith A who badmouth Faith B to the kid. We have too many family stories about this. It makes the kid/s feel bad. (In my experience, it also has had more of a negative impact on Faith A.)

      Go to service together as a family. It gets weird if one parent treats it as some odd thing that the other parent is allowed to drag the kid/s to.

      Don’t make the kid/s follow the restrictions of Faith A when the parent of Faith B doesn’t follow Faith A restrictions. (Example: Faith A says ‘No meat on Friday.’ so the kid is eating tuna noodle surprise and the parent of Faith B is eating steak at the same meal.)

      Have a plan in place to shut down people who over step and try push the religious teachings of either Faith farther than you both have decided is appropriate for your kid/s.

      Also, have a plan in place to shut down people who offer unsolicited advice about raising children of interfaith relationships.

      Have some basic knowledge of each others’ Faith.

      Congratulations on the newest newbee.!

  34. Raven*

    What’s a good public place to meet up with your ex when you don’t even want to be there?

    I’m moving to another state pretty soon. My ex, whom I talk to (briefly, and always initiated by him) about 4 times a year, has just asked to meet up with me later this week, for (I guess) a sort of one-last-goodbye kind of thing. We haven’t seen each other in person in years because we broke up right before he graduated high school, and we both went to college in different states.

    Here’s the deal: he works at a bowling alley, and he has invited me to play a couple games (paid for by him) with him before I go. I think this would be an awful idea. We haven’t seen each other in years, and I don’t want there to be /any/ kind of competition involved in this meeting, even if it were allegedly ‘just friendly.’ (Knowing him, that’s not the case.)

    I don’t want to even meet up with him at all, regardless of setting, for a couple reasons: one, I don’t want him to get any kind of impression that we could still be friends; two, I have a feeling he’s going to try to make a move (despite being engaged), and that’s not going to happen (I’m tempted to dress with nun-level coverage just so he doesn’t get any ideas); three, he’s kind of embarrassing to be with in public, due to various things.

    I kind of feel like I /have/ to meet up with him once just to get it over with, but I’m trying to figure out how to communicate this. If I were to meet with him, and meeting privately (in either of our houses, at least) is not an option because he’d certainly think that it was some kind of signal, and meeting publicly is going to be embarrassing, where should I go?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      This isn’t what you’re asking, but you know you don’t actually have to go, right? This is an ex who it sounds like you’ve been broken up with for years and don’t talk to much, you’re concerned he’s going to come on to you, and you don’t want to go. Why not just say “I’m sorry, my schedule is crazy with preparing for the move, I don’t think I’ll be able to”?

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        What she said. Save what time you have left for people you are genuinely going to miss.

        Otherwise… police station parking lot?

    2. LizB*

      You should go nowhere. Don’t meet up with him. What good can come of it? You are perfectly within your rights to say, “Sorry, I’m super busy with moving and holiday stuff, so I won’t be able to meet up with you. Wish you all the best.” and be done. I understand the feeling of “let’s just do this and get it over with,” but I’m inclined to believe that this “last” meeting is him trying to reconnect with you so he can more easily worm his way into your life on his terms whenever he feels like it.

    3. fposte*

      I’m not seeing any reason to meet him at all–you explicitly don’t want to, you don’t enjoy seeing the guy, and you’ve got a limited amount of time to do stuff before you leave anyway. I’m okay with either the direct “Honestly, Bob, this just isn’t something I’m going to fit in before I leave” or more indirect “I’m pretty squeezed–if I find time in my calendar before I go I’ll let you know.”

      If you feel meeting him would make you feel better in some karmic way or shut him up later or something that makes it worth the trouble, then your goal is to minimize that trouble: meet him for something low-impact and closed-ended (you can put the hard stop on yourself). “Thanks for the offer, Bob, but I can’t do bowling, Bob; I can do coffee on Saturday before I meet my sister at 5–would 3:30 at the corner Starbucks work?”

    4. Chilleh*

      You have NO obligation to go with him anywhere! This whole visit really sounds like it’s completely for the benefit of him and you don’t owe him that at all, especially if he makes you so uncomfortable and you don’t want to even be friends with him.

      1. Chilleh*

        Sorry, that came out stronger than intended! I really whatever you choose to do works out for your best interest.

    5. Raven*

      Thank you, all! Your advice has been helpful.

      To answer the question of why I’m even contemplating going: I’ve already given him the vaguest of maybes (“Oh… IDK… it might be possible… I don’t know my work schedule for Friday yet… [which is not true at all bc I know my schedule 10 days in advance, so]) and this isn’t the first time he’s asked. I think it’s like what fposte said: meeting him One Last Time (even though I know I’ll be back home in six months lol) might “make [me] feel better in some karmic way or shut him up later or something that makes it worth the trouble.” I’m just trying to figure out if it actually would.

      1. Franzia Spritzer*


        nopity nope nope nope


        You don’t even have to make an excuse, no is a perfectly acceptable reply. Use this as an opportunity to practice asserting your own desires, which is to not see him.

      2. Dan*

        It doesn’t matter how many time he’s asked, you can always say no.

        Or ignore him. After awhile, they get the message.

      3. AcademiaNut*

        Nope. It’ll just help him calibrate how much he has to bug you to get what he wants. For next time.

      4. Dynamic Beige*

        If it’s not a Hell, yes! Then it’s a no. You are trying to find “good” reasons to go, therefore there aren’t any, and you shouldn’t go. It would be different if you were never coming back and he was more than just some guy you used to know… but you aren’t and he isn’t so he can go pound sand.

      5. Observer*

        I’m with the others – I can see no good reason for you to go. You are not even sure that this is going to make you feel better in the long run. It’s not surprising – you don’t say ANYTHING that would lend support to the idea that there is some obligation at any level whatsoever, or any chance of any other good outcome happening but you HAVE mentioned things that indicate that the outcome of this is likely to be negative. So, just keep reminding yourself that you do NOT “have” to do this “just to get over it”.

        If you “have” to do something and “just get it over with” it’s stopping to give this guy the impression that he can expect ANY level of access to you. Do yourself a favor, and just stop responding to him. Tell him you can’t make it and then stop taking his calls.

      6. Colette*

        Well, saying no now doesn’t mean you can never see him again if you decide you want to. You’re not moving to mars, I assume. So you can say no and get in touch in the future if it’s important to you then.

    6. Trillian*

      What would be the consequences if you did not meet with him? You’re in the midst of moving, you probably have a to-do list that goes on forever. If he’s prone to push boundaries, he is likely to use your mindset of going along to get things over with to push yours. You don’t owe him a meeting.

    7. Dan*

      You aren’t getting anything over with if you meet up with him. The way you were laying out your story, I’m like, “ok, so there’s a kid involved and they have to do the kid exchange otherwise she wouldn’t even be contemplating this.”

      “No.” Is a complete sentence.

      Well after a year after my ex wife and I separated, she wanted to meet up with me. The thing is, she never felt like holding down a job, so she basically couched surfed after the breakup. She reaches out to me, says she wants to meet “for closure” and that she doesn’t want money. Uh huh. A friend of mine commented that the message would have been appropriate if we had just split a month or two ago, but a year+ down the line? Hell no.

      I wanted to talk before the separation was official, she didn’t. At the point she wanted to talk? The time for talking had long since passed. BTW, I didn’t even respond to the email — I just ignored it. You aren’t actually obligated to respond to someone who reaches out to you.

      1. Raven*

        Thank you for this. My issue doesn’t even involve kids (we’re 22 and 23, respectively), which, as you mention, takes away some of the stakes and puts it into perspective for me. I just felt obligated to finish this and just meet with him because I had already slightly dug myself into this mess, but all of the comments here have made me realize that it’s not actually as deep as I think, and it’s not hard to get myself out.

        1. Dan*

          We had no kids either, so the day I settled my divorce obligations was the last day I ever communicated with her. She tried communicating with me several times, and it was easy to just ignore her. Don’t get me wrong, it bugged me quite a bit, but there was no reason to actually respond. In these cases, a “bug off” is still a response that can keep them going. (And I don’t actually need to tell her to bug off, that’s what the notarized separation agreement said. I thought that was a clear message.)

          Hell, it got to the point where she thought I was blocking her emails, so she’d make up a new email every time she contacted me. I’d say the contact stopped after a couple of years.

          1. Dan*

            I meant to say the contact stopped after a year, it’s been a couple of years since I’ve heard anything from her.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Your question landed on where should you go. So I am answering that question. Do you think you are safe with this person?If yes, I would chose a very busy coffee shop and pick a time where it is at it’s busiest. I would agree to a 15 minute visit and stick to it.
      You could chose to say good bye over the phone. “I am super busy, we can talk for a few minutes then I have to go.”

      I agree with the others, just tell him no and you are just to tied up in getting ready to leave. Tell him congrats on his upcoming marriage and wish him the best. After all, it’s all about him, right? If it was about you, then he would know not to call.

      I know one guy who is probably still in love with his ex. She is hooked up with someone else, has been for years and that probably will not change. New man is a jealous/possessive dude. So this friend of mine just keeps his distance from his ex. It’s the last loving gesture he can give her. He has moved on with his life. If your ex has feelings for you then the most caring thing he can do for you is move on with his own life.

    9. Persephone*

      Is it cold where you live? How about a public park that’s near a main street in town? That will certainly cut down on the time he’s willing to spend there and solve your dress problem.

  35. Coalea*

    I’m Facebook friends with a number of extended family members (aunts, uncles, cousins). I have one aunt who I find extremely annoying and embarrassing and who I have blocked on Facebook. She just sent me a Christmas card in which she expressed an interest to connect and asked me to send her a friend request. Any recommendations on how I can continue to avoid her?

    1. fposte*

      Not every question needs an answer, and sometimes handwriting is conveniently difficult to read :-). I just wouldn’t engage with the query unless it was made in real time over the phone or face to face, and then I’d treat it lightly: “Oh, Aunty, I’ve given up on those, since I’m not looking at FB the way I used to [no need to say that “the way I used to” was “with annoying people whom I’ve since blocked].” If you want to throw her a bone you can say “I love the cards, though; I’m hoping to get better at sending those myself.”

    2. AliceBD*

      I like fposte’s answer. But if you feel like you have to, immediately restrict her if/when you friend her, and immediately unfollow her. So you don’t have to see anything she does, and she can’t see anything you do.

  36. Trixie*

    Looking for skin cleansers that will not dry out my 45 year old skin, especially this time of year. Looking at Sokoglam to start with. I can’t afford a ten-step kit but the sticks and oil cleansers look interesting. I don’t wear makeup so just need something to remove day’s serums/moisturizers. (Not a fan of wipes which end up in landfills or clogging sewage systems.)

    1. periwinkle*

      Ditto on CereVe. I also like cleansing oils. Currently I alternate daily between CereVe hydrating cleanser and I’m Cleansing oil (exclusive from Memebox, which is a gold mine for Korean skincare/makeup).

      My skin used to be very oily; now it is somewhat oily on the nose but with dry flaking skin everywhere. Huh? The mild cleanser/oil cleanser combination seems to work nicely. I used to use Cetaphil but just didn’t like it.

    2. Melody Pond*

      If you feel like going an ultra-natural route, check out youtube videos/blogs on oil cleansing. Jojoba oil is magical – it always removes my makeup easily and moisturizes my skin without clogging my pores. My skin has actually cleared up significantly since I’ve been using only jojoba oil to “wash” my face.

    3. Red*

      Burt’s Bees cleansing oil is great! I also would reccomend CeraVe or Shea Moisture’s Raw Shea Butter line.

    4. Stellaaaaa*

      Yes, CeraVe. Be aware that most cleansing oils are meant to be rinsed off with a second cleanser; the oils and emulsifiers will just cause more problems if they take up residence in your pores. I love cleansing oils though. They’re a great way to remove makeup or my nighttime products before going in with my cleanser. The Simple cleansing oil is nice for sensitive skin. I also like the ones from Burt’s Bees and Palmer’s. The CeraVe foaming cleanser works well as a follow-up cleanse. Their hydrating cleanser is the only moisturizing cleanser I’ve tried that didn’t leave residue on my skin.

    5. Natalie*

      I use CeraVe & Neutrogena Naturals (one in the morning, one in the evening). Also, get a good moisturizer and use it liberally. I figured out my skin care routine from the Paula’s Choice recommendations and have had really good results.

    6. Trixie*

      I have tried CeteVe, Cetephil, Neutrogena. Skin feels tight and dry after rinsing, so I think my goal is to avoid anything that suds/foams.

      1. Anion*

        Not a cleanser rec (I use Cetaphil) but a tip for very dry skin, which I also have. I use oil as a moisturizer (avocado oil, usually, which is light but moisturizing, and doesn’t clog my pores), and when I wash and rinse my face, I don’t dry it. **Don’t dry it!** Just wipe the excess water off with your hands and apply the oil or moisturizer immediately, over the water. That “traps” the water and helps eliminate that dry/tight feeling.

        It honestly works wonders, at least it has for me. The red, flaky skin I get above my eyebrows every winter has been completely eliminated since I started doing it. Often in the morning I don’t even wash at all, I just rinse with warm water and apply oil.

        Oil is also a great cleanser, if you haven’t tried it–it sounds like you have, but I’m mentioning it anyway.

      2. Anion*

        Oh! Have you tried micellar water? I use it for cleansing often, too, and as a make-up remover. It works great and doesn’t leave my skin feeling dry. I like the Nivea one for sensitive skin. It’s not expensive at all and is very easy to use; I keep a bottle in the living room, lol, so I can remove my make-up there if I want to.

    7. BuildMeUp*

      I use the Body Shop’s aloe line, and they have a cream cleanser that is very gentle and doesn’t foam. Their aloe day/night moisturizers are also really great!

  37. LizB*

    Isn’t it funny how when you have a million and one big stressors going on in your life, any tiny annoyance can feel like a ridiculously big deal?

    Case in point: I am currently dealing with work drama on several levels, packing for an international trip, finishing holiday shopping and wrapping gifts to mail out, my boyfriend grieving the loss of his brother, planning to attend said brother’s memorial service, a fun but stressful hobby event this weekend, and a big snowstorm with nasty below-zero temps. And in all of this, what has me freaking out the most? Finding a damn cat sitter. Boyfriend was going to take care of it, but he’s not in a mental place to make those arrangements right now, and for some reason I just can’t bring myself to text my friends who might be able to help out because UGH I DON’T WANT TO DEAL WITH THIS.

    1. Lucy Westenra*

      I know the feeling. You use up all your energy on big stuff, and then when you can’t find a cat sitter or your watchband breaks or your phone dies it’s the end of the world.

    2. LizB*

      Update: catsitter has been lined up! Also, I finished the last of my holiday shopping and everything is wrapped & ready to go to the post office. Phew.

  38. Gene*

    Just venting, I know there’s no cure.

    My wife conflates strained with dirty. Two examples: I have a cheap, as in on sale at the $0.99 store cheap, silicone spatula. Its only purpose is to clean coffee grounds from the coffee maker, so it’s permanently stained. She keeps asking when I’m going to throw it away because it’s so “dirty”. These discussions started after I took it out of the trash.
    Then there’s the day I came home from work and she had scrubbed all the seasoning off my wooden spoons. Two of them generations old, they were my great-grandmother’s. They were “dirty”. That one led to yelling, I told her if she touched the cast iron, I’d kick her out; only half kidding.

    Stained clothing gets donated, even if it’s coveralls I wear to work on the yard or cars. I know it’s all anxiety related, but it makes me nuts.

    Thanks, I feel better. :-)

    1. Temperance*

      There is a cure, actually. This issue is not her anxiety, but her lack of respect for your stuff.

      I’m a germaphobe, and I hate stained, ruined things. What I do is ask if I can toss something. We don’t donate stained or ruined clothing.

      1. Taylor Swift*

        The lack of respect for your things seems to be the real issue here, OP. I’m not sure how to handle that, but I think it’s more of a problem than your wife’s views on cleanliness.

    2. Melody Pond*

      That sounds incredibly frustrating! Being as obstinate as I am, I would be tempted to pull up several different articles (as scientific as possible) on the difference between dirt/germs and changes in pigment (i.e. stains), and read them out loud unrelentingly to my SO until he conceded. My sympathies!

    3. Stellaaaaa*

      There are a few possibilities here. Have you ever explicitly told her what seasoned cookware is for? That’s not something you can presume to be common knowledge. Hell, I don’t really know what it is. I know it’s a thing that Cooking People care about, but I don’t know why you’d want leftover stuff on your pans and utensils. If I saw a pan or spoons like that, I’d probably assume that they’re dirty. I’ve never seen seasoned wooden spoons in person.

      But if you’ve had that conversation, the issue is that she’s not taking your words to heart. If someone said, “those spoons aren’t dirty; it’s a cooking thing,” that would be the end of the issue for me. However, since she’s tossing stained work clothes I’m wondering if there’s a bigger mental hurdle here, possibly something to do with her upbringing. Even clean freaks know that work coveralls get banged up.

    4. Gaia*

      I know this is unrelated but the idea of donating stained or torn clothing really irritates me. While some people who can afford to buy new buy at thrift shops, the majority of shoppers at thrift shops are poor. Why would anyone think someone wants stained torn clothes just because they are poor? Donate clothes you no longer want, not clothes that are no longer fit to be worn.

      1. the gold digger*

        I always assume Goodwill has a way to sell fabric for rags or recycling, so I throw my stained stuff (that I am not keeping for rags myself) in the donation bag. I do not assume that poor people want nasty clothes.

        1. HannahS*

          Most big thrift store do. They receive way more stuff that they can sell. Even non-stained stuff, if it doesn’t sell within a certain time frame,gets sold to the rag business.

        2. SophieChotek*

          Yes. And my mother told me eventually these rags can wind up in South America. In Guatemala they make beautiful, long lasting rugs out of these rags.

          (Wish I knew site; I would post.)

      2. anon for this one*

        This is late, but as a volunteer and board member at a thrift shop, PLEASE DO NOT DONATE STAINED CLOTHING. We will not put it out on the floor, because it’s an insult to our customers. If we did put it out, no one would buy it. We do sell it in rag bags, but not all clothing is appropriate for rags, and we get way too much of it anyway. Please do not do it.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      A bunch of random thoughts.
      She ever work in a restaurant under health codes? This is the very type of thing health codes make businesses do. Wooden spoons are not allowed at all. The idea is that the oil is rancid. Cast iron, not a great idea for similar reasons. When it comes to the food prep, I tend to agree with her.
      So suggest that she looks for ways to clean the coffee maker that does not involve staining things you want to keep. Rinsing well and running vinegar through it can do a great job of cleaning it up.

      However on clothes, I have tons of clothes covered in paint from working on my house for so long. I keep the clothes. So donating stained clothing is ethically a big no-no. If she does not want it because of a stain then neither does a poor person. That is one of my peeves that I have, don’t donate stuff no one wants. It’s actually insulting.

      Please buy some peppermint soap. It’s amazing what that will clean up. I threw out a family made afghan because the colors ran. Years later I realized I could have used peppermint soap. It will clean up weird stuff like that.

      Tell her to quit throwing clothes in the dryer. The dryer sets stains and then the garment is lost.

      I do agree that your things are not hers to throw out and that is the greater problem.

      However with the food prep I do tend to agree with the items she had issue with that you are talking about here. Since they were your spoons, she could get her own spoons and use hers. Yours could be kept for you to use.
      The other overarching issue is the costs involved in throwing all this stuff out. It takes money to constantly replace this stuff. Here a small bag of garbage costs several dollars to throw away. I am picturing dollar bills with wings.

      I think you know that yelling is not going to solve this one. Matter of fact, yelling is going to make it worse. Please try to remember she did not scrub your grandmother, just your grandmother’s spoons. She did not put you in the garbage can, she just put your spatula in the garbage.

      You could go back in on it, tell her that you don’t throw out her things for a reason, you don’t want your things thrown out. Tell her that is part of trust in a marriage.
      You can also tell her that you two can tweak some things you are doing in a cost effective manner. Like maybe the coffee pot can be cleaned in another manner.
      Then go over the points about the clothes, replacing clothes is expensive this impacting the budget. Donating crappy clothes raises ethical questions and can be considered rude.
      Then talk about getting help with anxiety. Let her know you realize yelling only made her anxiety worse, not better.

      Too much answer. I shut up now. good luck.

    6. ThursdaysGeek*

      I think she’s related to my late MIL. My spouse has told stories about his torn and stained shirts being tossed, and then he didn’t have any grubbies to work in. Because of that, even though he now has more worn out clothes in the closet than he will ever need, I leave them be. They are his, he’s an adult, and it’s not my place to clean out his stuff. (It doesn’t approach hoarder level.)

      The discussion needs to be on her respect for you, her trusting you to make good decisions. It’s not completely about dirt and stains.

      (My mum had a spoon that was black from years of cooking and jams. I accidentally broke it.)

  39. printrovert*

    My roommate won a tv in a raffle! The thing is, we already have several tvs at our house and do not need another one. He wants to donate it to a child through an organization. We both thought of Angel Tree, but after some research, I found that organizations in our area are done taking gifts and in the distribution phase (understandable since it is very close to the Christmas holiday). He doesn’t want to give it to Toys For Tots because he wants to be sure an older child gets it (instead of a baby or toddler), and he doesn’t want it sold via Goodwill or Salvation Army. Does anyone have any ideas?

    1. Temperance*

      He can reach out to his local foster care agency – they’ll know an older teen who is in independent living and in need of housewares.

      I also, frankly, would like to give a gentle reminder that expensive gifts like TVs often get hocked by bio-parents if they’re involved. ESPECIALLY with something like an angel tree. :-/

      1. fposte*

        Though that’s not necessarily an unreasonable move by the parent or the emancipated teen–they may need rent money more than a TV. I think you donate something like that with the knowledge that a cash conversion may be the best use of the gift.

        1. Temperance*

          I really admire your generous spirit. I’ve sadly more often seen nice gifts and gift cards get sold for drug money, and not for necessities. (But, candidly, the orgs we work with deal with troubled families, so my perspective may be skewed.)

          I’ve also been very surprised by how few people realize that purchasing a pricey electronic gift for one of these charity drives might mean that the child isn’t getting a gift at all.

          1. Dan*

            Somewhat off topic, somewhat not…

            About a decade ago I was traveling around Nepal. Kathmandu has issues with a reliable power grid, it’s not unusual for power to cut out multiple times a day, sometimes for extended periods.

            So, one day I was off in an unfamiliar area, and the power goes out. A couple of six year old boys offered to walk me back to the neighborhood I was staying in. Fully expecting a shakedown, I was wondering what it was going to cost me. As we get to my neighborhood and pass their version of a bodega, the kid asks me if I would buy some powdered milk for his baby sister. (The cost was under $10.) That was one scam I was unfamiliar with, but $10 is certainly not that much, so if that’s all I would get taken for, then so be it. I did ask why he didn’t want the cash.

            The kid told me the problem with cash is that when he gets back to his neighborhood, the older boys would take his money, but they’d let him keep the milk. And his baby sister needs the milk.

            I have extremely cynical views of people who approach me on the street when I’m in a foreign country, but for some reason I actually believed that kid. And if I did get scammed? It was only $10. I’m sure I spent way more at tourist traps without even knowing it.

            1. Temperance*

              Thank you for sharing this story. I work with nonprofit legal services, and I think I’m at a point where the negative sides of what I do are starting to weigh on me.

    2. MsChanandlerBong*

      Game Changer. They provide gaming consoles, games, and A/V equipment to hospitals so that sick kids can play games. I don’t know if they accept TV donations, but you can ask. I have donated books and video games to them in the past.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      A school or library might use it.
      A church might be able to direct you to someone who would use it.
      You could check the news to see if there were any house fires in your area recently. Or you could check with someone at your fire company, they might have the inside scoop.

    4. Dynamic Beige*

      Nursing homes? I know of someone who was put into a nursing home sort of prematurely… she had developmental delays and some mental health issues that made it difficult for her siblings to take care of her. All the jobs she had had as an adult weren’t very high-paying so she is in either a government-run facility or one that accepts government-sponsored (low-income) patients. Having no children of her own, she is dependent on things her family can give her as there isn’t much money left after paying the nursing home fees. I can imagine that there might be similar people with no family (either literally or close by) and having a TV of their own would not be something they can afford but would make a huge change in their world.

    5. Mela*

      Some domestic violence shelters collect this kind of stuff to help survivors set up house when they transition out of shelter.

    6. Persephone*

      Would he be willing to contribute it to a domestic violence shelter? That way, it benefits the residents and won’t get sold.

  40. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

    I only have one Christmas present left to buy, but I’m really stuck on it. My cousin is almost 19, going into her second year of uni and going flatting for the first time. I don’t want to get her anything TOO practical, both because her parents have probably already sorted her basic setup and because Christmas is supposed to be at least a little about wants instead of needs. I was going to get her a really nice brightly coloured mink blanket, but it’s the middle of summer here so of course no one is stocking the reasonably-priced ones. Any ideas/suggestions/inspiration?

    1. Ruby*

      Depends, does she like to cook? One of the nicest gifts I got when heading to Ag college was a hamper with lots of seasoning, fancy ingredients in jars, oils, and the like. I had a horse on campus and was living really cheaply. Those extra flavorings took the cheap and nasty meals I was making to the next level when if I’d not had them, I would probably have had to steal salt/pepper from the dinning hall. (No comment on how well the horse was eating ;) ) And the jars/containers are on about their millionth refill.

    2. Dan*

      What went flat? Maybe you could get her a new tire? (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

      Actually, the thing with uni is some stuff people need is kinda expensive. Even a decade ago, I was dropping almost $1k a semester on books. I had to deal with my own finances in school, and sometimes it’s truly hard to indulge “wants” when you know your bills aren’t getting paid (or still need to get paid.)

      A few years down the line, my mom said she hated Xmas after I moved out of the house, because all I wanted was cash. I said, “Mom, it’s not uncommon for a text book to run me $100, so it’s not like I’m running out to the bar.” She said, “Well, why didn’t you tell me?” (Truth: She never asked or even expressed the displeasure of not being able to put something under the tree.)

      I think I told her that I disliked unwrapping a text book just as much as she didn’t like sticking a check in a card in my stocking, and with the cash, I know I’m getting the right book.

      I second Emily’s suggestion: Cash.

    3. SophieChotek*

      The other option might be too take her shopping for household stuff after she thinks she is set up — lunch (or coffee) then a trip to Target or Ikea or something? There are bound to things her parents didn’t get her (like stock the pantry with essentials like sugar, etc.) or things she realizes she needs multiple of, or that she really would like to pick herself without Mom saying “but that doesn’t go with…”. That way it maybe could be a fun outing for the two of you (if you are close enough this might be fun)…? But a little more personal than cash?

    1. Dan*


      Even though I knew my marriage was over, it was still very much a surprise the day it actually happened.

      Are condolences in order, or is this a good thing for you? Life gets better.

    2. chickabiddy*

      I’m sorry if this was not something you wanted, and also sorry if things happened that made you want it. I hope that your split is as civil as possible and that you are in a better place soon.

  41. Anono-me*

    You might want to check out DogVacay. I think they do cats also.

    I never used them, but my dog’s wonderful sitter started booking through them about the time we moved.

    Sorry about the other stressful stuff too.

    1. LizB*

      Ooh, I’ll check that out. I was hoping to find a friend who could do it for food/return petsitting in the future instead of money, but honestly at this point I’m willing to spend a little to get this stupid problem off my plate.

    1. nep*

      I ended up sautéing it in a bit of olive oil, with some grated beet. Sprinkled dulse flakes. Good stuff. I reckon the possibilities are endless.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      One of my favorite local restaurants makes a great cauliflower fried “rice” with: cauliflower, carrots, shiitake, kale, onion, pumpkin seeds, garlic, sriracha, sesame oil. SO GOOD. :-9

    1. Mallows*

      I haven’t read his books but I do follow him on Twitter and read the pieces he links. I teared up reading this piece too – especially the last couple of sentences. Thanks for sharing it.

  42. Huh*

    My friend is 33 and single and wants to meet a man. This is the only thing she talks about. Whenever our group goes out we spend the entire time on the lookout for a potential guy. We used to talk about our lives, current affairs, books, etc. Now it’s all “oh look that guy is sitting by himself let’s observe him and see if he’s decent!” The only thing she will ever discuss now is how she is single and miserable. This has been going on for weeks and weeks.

    I’m starting to reach the limit. How do I get our old friendship back?

    1. Stellaaaaa*

      You can simply tell her that she’s been talking about this one thing too much. We’ve all been there, where it’s either us or a friend who goes on and one for weeks about a tv show, rubber stamping, dinosaur butts, or dating.

      But be aware that if you’ve ever declined an invitation from her because you already had plans with your partner, or if you talk about your partner or your kids a bit, you’re not quite in a position to tell her that she shouldn’t want or seek out a partner. This is one of the subtle, terrible shifts in adult friendships: people gradually start to prioritize their relationships and they don’t realize how much they’re blowing off their single friends, because they fall into a mode of assuming that everyone else is getting socialization through a partner. This is a tangent, but please be gentle about it. There’s nothing more hurtful than a partnered friend talking about how you shouldn’t want a partner.

      1. Huh*

        I am married with kids. So I understand I am not in a good position to say “why don’t you just concentrate on being happy single?” However I also don’t want to spend every minute of every conversation listening to how much it sucks being single and where you might find a single man. I am not exaggerating when I say every single minute. We literally did not talk about anything else the whole evening.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Oh yes, please be careful not to do that. I hate so much when people say, “Oh you don’t want this; it’s hard and kids are a pain, and blah blah blah blahdee blah.” They think they’re trying to make me feel better about being single, but it’s really annoying and hurtful, because it assumes that I could never possibly realize that hey, life with another person isn’t always easy. I know that; I’m not stupid and not looking at their bickering life through rose-colored glasses, thanks. Also, it feels like they’re rubbing it in; it’s like a humblebrag.

        1. Stellaaaaa*

          Exactly. “You shouldn’t depend on a man.” Well you depend on a man, so.

          They only stop when I remind them they they stood in front of their friends, family, higher power, and ME to proclaim their spouses the most important person in their lives, and take it further by asking why they keep saying that relationships aren’t a huge part of their lives. I think about dating far less than my friends spend with their partners. Who thinks more about relationships then? The point is that if anyone wants the single friend to knock off the whining, you need to come up with an argument that isn’t bs. Just say she’s being annoying.

        2. Huh*

          I get that. I do. We’ve all had experiences of someone not empathising with our issues or responding in wildly inappropriate ways. But I am so sick of this being the only thing we ever discuss from the moment we meet to when we part.

          I really do think my friend is stuck in this mindset of “my life sucks until I find a man.” I find this attitude really grating and I’m a friend of 10 years. I can’t imagine this being attractive to any man.

          1. Stellaaaaa*

            Well it’s not about what men find attractive. She doesn’t even have to stop wanting a relationship. All she has to do is stop talking to you about it, if you also mentally promise not to talk to her about your husband. If you talk about your relationship, you have no grounds to ask her not to speak about her desire for one.

            1. Huh*

              What? That makes no sense. I have a husband who is a part of my life, isn’t it weird and condescending if I suddenly drop him out of conversations? “Hey what are you doing this weekend?” “Oh you know…I’m just, going shopping for, uh, the mother of someone you don’t need to know about.” *dark meaningful glances at other married friends*

              I don’t mind that she discusses men or her single life. My problem is that she ONLY discusses men and her single life. The answer to that is not pretending I am not married. That’s…weird.

            2. Huh*

              That’s really sad if a person is so bitter about their single life they cannot even acknowledge the existence of a partner of someone they know. I should hope my friend is not so emotionally frail like that.