weekend free-for-all – January 7-8, 2017

olive-and-eve-sleepingThis 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: A Woman of Independent Means, by Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey.  The entire life of one woman, told through her letters to other people as she grows up and raises a family. I recently re-read this for the first time since I was a teenager, and realized that I had missed much of the humor the first time around. It’s good.

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

{ 1,209 comments… read them below }

  1. Weekend Warrior*

    Suggestions for clipping the nails of an extremely feisty tortie? So far the kitty is winning and going with an au naturel pedi but we’d like to at least clip the front nails. We got her at 1 year old and the fight was already strong.

    1. LawCat*

      Our cat is totally chill about getting nails trimmed now, but it used to be a team effort of wrapping him tightly in a towel like a cat burrito with one of us holding onto his body and the other extracting a paw from the cat burrito and clipping the nails. We sometimes had to do this multiple times to get all the nails. We did it on a bed and put a bag of his favorite treats on the bed where he could see it. He always got a treat out of the bag right after being a cat burrito. He started to chill out after months of this.

      But torties… good luck ;-)

      1. Lemon Zinger*

        The burrito method is what my parents use for my childhood cat. She’s a tortie and she fights them every single time (she can’t be bribed with treats because she doesn’t like treats… weirdo!). She’s only nine pounds but remarkably strong, so they have to use two people and burrito her tightly so she doesn’t escape.

      2. Jessesgirl72*

        Yeah, the wounds I’d get from our late tortie… she was the same about being combed. I felt bad, but our Vet had a tortie who was the same way, who she had to bring in to the clinic to get the mattes taken out and her nails trimmed, because the one vet tech had The Touch of how to hold her enough to get it done. She was about 6 months when we got her, and it was already too late to get her used to it.

      3. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        Our girl kitty isn’t a fan of a pedicure, but she will calmly stand still and let you take each paw in turn.

        Dumb boy on the other hand… somehow he learned that a shake of the treat bag means hes getting his nails trimmed and now runs and hides! We tried burrito with him and that didn’t work at all = we couldn’t get him wrapped up. For the time being he is au naturel, but sometimes we will try and get the front paws one day and the back paws maybe a week later, holding him on the ground in a two person operation.

    2. Rebecca*

      If you can, tag team! One person can hold the cat by the scruff of the neck, with the cat’s butt resting on their leg, for example, while the other extends the toenails and does the clipping. It’s pretty safe that way, relatively…

    3. Harriet*

      I keep clippers handy and sometimes manage to clip the odd paw when she’s relaxed next to me…to be honest though, I take her to the vet a couple of times a year and get the nurse to clip her claws. Well worth the money, and she manages to wear them down enough herself that they only need done every 6 months.

      1. dawbs*

        This is what we do
        When DevilCat is sleeping and relaxed, I’ll get 2 or 3 nails done before he switches into his death dealer ‘why is he pointy all over?” mode. So it takes days to get them clipped, but it works.

        (and we do the claw caps. Same way. So once I finish clipping both front paws, over 2 days, it takes us 2 more to superglue on the caps. Then we don’t have to deal with them again for about 6 weeks.)

    4. Red*

      I’ve heard it’s easier if you wrap them in a blanket like a little burrito of hatred, but I just take my cat to PetSmart for her manicure. It’s like $12 and totally worth it.

      I wonder if they will give me a discount for the shameless advertising?

      1. Hibiscus*

        Willa would not do purrito burrito or holding her like a baby, but if I crouch over her while she lays on the bed and hold her down with my weight I can get at least one claw done. Cain will let me hold him like a baby and do claws.

    5. Is it Performance Art*

      Make sure she’s relaxed, trim a few, and then reward her immediately. I also recommend The Trainable Cat by John Bradshaw and Sarah Ellis. It has sections on clipping nails, getting the cat to willingly go into the cat carrier, and how to stop destructive behavior.

    6. 14 years*

      My cats like to be combed, so I’ll start with combing, then clip, then finish with combing again.

    7. fposte*

      Don’t fight her, train her :-). Desensitize her to the clippers by bringing them nearer during good stuff like treats or petting and by letting them make some clipping noises; at the same time, start including foot handling as part of petting, with extra treats if necessary.

      It’s a good idea to do the same with carriers, medication-type handling, and vet stuff, too. You will be glad down the line that you did.

      1. blackcat*

        Yes, I give excessive treats for claw-trimming. I did used to fight him and then do treats afterwards, but now there is no fight–he knows the treats are coming.

        1. fposte*

          I was reading about small-dog syndrome, where because owners can pick their dogs up and move them around they don’t always think to train them instead, and I think that’s common with cats, too. Besides, it’s kind of cool to train your cat.

          1. blackcat*

            My cat is the most food-motivated cat in the world, so he is super trainable. He will dance on his hind legs. He will bring you the toy he is playing with (calling that fetch is a bit much). He goes in his carrier for vet trips on command. He LOVES the outdoors but will wait patiently while people enter and exit the house (he is indoor+leash walks. If you put his harness on, he will run out the door).

            He is also not that bright when it comes to many things, so I think that actually helps with the training. He whines for me to take care of things that I’ve always seen other cats deal with on their own (toy under couch, opening a partially open door, etc), so he seems more reliant on me than any other cat I’ve known. As a result, it’s like he never thinks “Well, I *could* do what she’s asking. Or I could not. I think not.” like every other cat I’ve had. It takes forever to train him on something (his memory sucks), but once he’s trained, he is very well trained. He *wants* to learn what I’m trying to teach him (at least to reliably get a treat)… it just takes a while.

            (Side note: And small dog syndrome drives me bonkers. My bff has a tiny dog and she trained it *like a dog.* It is SO well behaved. It is the only tiny dog I know who doesn’t jump when greeting people–he sits at your feet and wiggles his butt until you say “Okay!” Then he jumps. Really yappy small dogs or small dogs that bite are so common.)

            1. fposte*

              A friend of mine had a border collie with the usual obsessive love of fetch but unfortunately no problem-solving skills, so if the tennis ball so much as rolled behind a table leg there’d be massive whimpers of “Human, help!” Her sheep would have died off really quickly.

        2. Sparky*

          Mine hover around waiting for treats when I clip my own nails, they associate clippers/clipping with treats so strongly. They don’t get any, which they think is unfair.

          I use regular human clippers turned 90 degrees for their nails. Neither is a tortie, though, sorry.

          1. Jessesgirl72*

            I use human clippers too, and have since it was suggested when I was a kid.

            Only one cat of the now 10 I’ve had in my lifetime has eaten treats. And that one’s favorite treats were things like cheetos and bites of donut! LOL

    8. Sibley*

      Things to try.

      1. Cat burrito.
      2. When you’re not actually trimming, play with the paws. Some cats need to get used to their paws being handled.
      3. Make sure she’s got lots of scratching posts, etc to help reduce the need to trim.
      4. try when sleepy.
      5. Don’t try to do all of it at once – it’s ok to spread over several days.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        Our first Vet suggested sedation as the only way. That cat really was vicious if you tried to do anything she didn’t like.

    9. Bonky*

      I feel your pain. I have a cat who has to have an asthma inhaler administered once a day. I love her to death, but dear god, she’s *pointy* when she gets going.

    10. MissDisplaced*

      Daddy holds, and mommy does the clipping. It takes some patience but they eventually will get more used to it. I did see something called a Cat In The Bag, that is something like a sleeping bag for cats. It has little holes to pull the paw through for clipping.

    11. Windchime*

      I have a very docile cat, but he still fought the nail clipping for awhile. I realized that the only time I ever touched his paws was when I was clipping his nails, so I started gently touching his paws and his toes during cuddle time and pretty soon I got to the point where I could massage his toes. Now we sit in the chair and have some cuddle time, and then I start clipping. I can do both front paws before he starts to get super anxious. When he starts to pull away or whine, I tell him “no” and he lets me continue. However, I just barely snip off the sharp part because I’m afraid of hurting him. So when he goes to the vet, I have them clip all of his nails.

    12. Weekend Warrior*

      Thanks everyone for the variety of suggestions – and commiseration! Little burrito (or purrito!) of hatred really captures it!

      We have tried many techniques – wrapping, clamping, treats, PetSmart, vet, drugs (Feliway) with varying success and are currently at the give up stage. :) She’s a very strong 8lb nine year old who’s impervious to treats. I’d never heard of tortitude before her (previous cat was a mostly biddable and even trainable tabby) but she’s got it in spades! We’ve given up for now after I read that the physical power struggle is damaging to the relationship with a pet but I am reconsidering in general because we may need to get more hands on with treatments as she ages. I’m happy not to have a begging cat (and impressed with her food is fuel attitude) but we may need to ramp up the deliciousness of treats to start being able to handle her more in ways she doesn’t like.

      Thanks again!

  2. Nicole*

    Today is my birthday! Sorry, just had to get that in there. :)

    The real reason for my post, however, is to provide a puppy update. She’s three and a half months old and seems to be a pretty quick learner thanks to the liver training treats I recently purchased. Friday alone I taught her down and paw. I was impressed!

    On the so-so side, she’s getting more comfortable with new people. At first she’d run away when someone would come over. Now she will hesitantly approach and she warms up to them much quicker than even two weeks ago. I had been worried at first about socialization but that makes me feel better. Other than me she seems to prefer males over females, however.

    On the not so great side she’s still bad about wanting to bite our hands (and clothes, and feet, etc.). Is it better to ignore her or say “uh uh uh!” when she does this? Her teeth are pretty sharp now so it’s not cute anymore, especially when all I want to do is pet/cuddle her and she just wants to bite and scratch me because that’s how she likes to play. She does have toys, and I try to redirect her attention to those but sometimes she goes a little bonkers and gets especially bitey and it hurts! Please tell me this is normal and I don’t have something to be concerned about.

    1. Penny Pup*

      My family and I learned a trick from a trainer that has always helped with hand biting. If a dog bites at your hands, you shove your hands down their throat. Now that thing they put in their mouth for fun (your hands) is fighting back! It makes them gag and think twice about biting the hands that feed them. It doesn’t hurt at all, just freaks them out because it was all fun and games for them but now it’s not fun any more.

      I’ve even used it on my roommate’s cat (a lot harder since the mouth is smaller) and it works well. My dad’s new dog nibbles on my fingers every time I come to visit; the first thing I do when he does it is the shoving trick, and then he doesn’t bother with biting the rest of the day, just snuggles and plays with toys with me since he knows I won’t tolerate the biting.

      Hope that helps with the pup! It’s worked on every dog I’ve ever owned.

      1. Nicole*

        I read that too but when I do it she is not fazed in the least. Maybe because she’s small? I can’t stick my finger any further down her throat and she just keeps biting me like nothing is happening.

        1. Beaded Librarian*

          A variation on this trick that I have heard of from a trainer/kennel owner is having a sponge with vinegar on it that you hold in your hand that you squeeze when they try to bite you. Also even if she only nibbles one finger find a way to naturally work more of your hand in her mouth. That might help

      2. krfp13*

        I did this, you can also try to grab their tongue and that feels awkward to them. I always said, “Don’t bite your mother!” with an emphasis on the “don’t!” She’ll grow out of it. In my experience, it takes almost a year for the dog’s full personality to come out.

      3. and then there were 6*

        We’ve had retriever puppies, who are known to be land sharks. They are incredibly mouthy and yowza, those puppy teeth hurt. What I’ve learned is that there is no magic fix for biting. You just have to pick one method that seems to sort of work, and do it 1,000 times. Keep saying, “no bite” over and over and over. Eventually, usually about 5 months old for retrievers, they get it. But you have to be stoic and not give up, even though it seems like nothing’s working. It just takes a long time for them to learn not to bite.

        Oh, and I’ve found with retrievers that any kind of yipping or ow-ee sound just got them more excited. Little devils.

        Hang in there, and will get better.

        1. Nicole*

          Ok, that’s the part I guess that throws me – having to do it 1,000 times before she gets it yet she gets me teaching her commands so quickly.

          She’s a shih-tzu mix but she reacts the same way as the retrievers you describe!

          1. fposte*

            Training an animal not to do something is always 1000 times harder than training an animal to do something. Not only is it a habit, but usually they’re getting some kind of reward from the behavior. Play-biting is fun! Not play-biting isn’t fun at all.

    2. Turtlewings*

      Biting and scratching is how puppies play with each other, it’s perfectly normal. Fortunately there’s a built-in way to get her to stop — puppies yelp and stop playing when the other puppy actually hurts them, and so they instinctively learn not to bite (too hard, anyway). When she bites, yelp loudly and stop playing. She’ll get the idea.

        1. alex*

          Try a sharp “No” and then turn away/ignore her for a short time. I would intro “No” right away b/c otherwise you’ll be stuck with “uh uh uh” for the rest of her life!
          Also just cause you asked if the biting is normal– yes and also know that her baby teeth are going to be falling out soon, if they haven’t already, which is also normal!
          Happy birthday and enjoy that puppy!!!

          1. Nicole*

            I went back and forth with whether I should use “No” or not. I read a few articles that said “uh uh uh” was better than “No” because we use that word so much in regular dialog that it might confuse her. So now I’m not sure what to do.

            I appreciate the assurance and the heads up on the baby teeth.

            Also, thank you for the birthday wishes!

            1. Allypopx*

              The “no” is largely about tone more than the specific word. The sharp, pointed, firm “No.” is not likely to be used in conversation the same way you use it at your dog. Also raise your voice just a smidge (no need to yell at the pup) and make sure your face is serious. Dogs read facial expressions really well.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                No is a multi-purpose word that dogs really should be familiar with. I also like “leave it” which requires them to physically walk away.

                Pups are very mouthy in part because of getting in new teeth. Once the adult teeth come in they start to have more control over their actions. I had a dog with German Shepard ears- straight up like satellite dishes. As a pup I noticed some days one ear would be bend down and other days the other ear would be bend down. I was told the side with the bent ear is the side they are cutting new teeth on. I don’t know how true that is but it’s interesting. Only once have I ever found a puppy tooth and I have had five dogs. I guess they swallow them?

                Give the pup plenty of things to chew on. Chewing is also a way of getting rid of excess energy. Taking the pup for walks or having an exercise/play time might help slow down the chewing. I like having something handy to redirect the behavior as I really don’t want to be saying NO five million times a day. So I will say, “where is your toy?” and I had the pup a chewy or a toy that won’t hurt him.

                1. Amy the Rev*

                  We had two separate ‘negative’ commands for our lab- “no,” and “stop it”:

                  “No” was for things that she was never allowed to do: biting, taking food off the coffee table, disobeying a command, etc.
                  “Stop it” was for things that are in general acceptable behaviors that we wanted to stop in the moment, like barking (fine once or twice at a time, or when outside, but if she was doing it a lot indoors she’d get a firm “stop it!”, we eventually created a new separate command for that, “be quiet”), humping her bed when company was around, being an attention-you-know-what with people who don’t like dogs, etc. If she disobeyed a “stop it” command, or any other command, we’d follow up with “no”. It sounds somewhat complicated but it was a system that worked pretty well!

                  We also had a command to get her to calm down, “easy” (said in a soothing voice, obvs), and a few others aside from the typical sit/stay/paw: “go lie down,” “get your chewy (toy)”, “people food” (to stop begging), “that’ll do”(to release her from whatever the former command mightve been, like ‘wait’ or ‘sit’ etc.), “place” (to go sit on a specific rug over by the side of the room, very useful when people arrived at the house who didn’t want to be greeted by slobbery kisses and barks), and one of my favorites, “homework”, which was an accidental command that came about when my sister and I would be like ‘no I cant play I have to do homework”…eventually we could just say ‘homework’ and she’d stop nagging us and lay down at our feet with a toy to chew instead.

                  We had to put her down last month, but she gave us 13 amazingly sweet, affectionate, gentle years.

        1. Elder Dog*

          This works for me too. With very pushy puppies, put a door between you and them for a couple of minutes. Bite your very bestest friend and most wonderful toy, lose your very bestest friend and most wonderful toy. They generally learn very fast that way, but you do have to be consistant and keep at it.
          Also remember just because you taught the puppy something and he got it right off, you still have to practice it with him or he won’t retain it.

    3. Alice*

      Others have given good advice. I’m just here to reassure you that it’s normal and she’ll grow out of it. I say this because I’ve had several rescue dogs, all adopted after puppyhood, some from pretty bad backgrounds, and all of them had figured out how to play gently. If people who really shouldn’t have been raising puppies can produce adult dogs that are careful, even when they’re excited, then I’m sure you can too!

      1. Nicole*

        Appreciate the reassurance! I kept telling myself it’s normal but then doubt kept creeping in especially since this is my first dog so I have zero experience with any of this. Thank you.

        1. And then there were 6*

          And it’s no fun! Puppies are so cute you just want to hold and snuggle them- and yet every time you get near the puppy, she bites you. It’s hard not to internalize the lesson, “Stay away from the biting thing.”

    4. JHS*

      Have you tried the bitter apple spray? You can spray it on your hands or the leash. Then they taste it and think “yuck!”

      1. Anon 2017*

        My parents’ old pup would actually lick the nozzle of the bitter apple sprayer; it didn’t faze her in the slightest.

        When they switched to Tabasco, she quit nipping at things in a hurry.

      2. MashaKasha*

        We did this on our Sheltie when we first got him. He used to nip at everyone’s heels. I put on a pair of thick socks, sprayed them with the apple spray, sat on the couch and waited for him to come over and bite. I actually felt bad when he did, because he sat down and started crying. But it did stop the nipping.

    5. AlaskaKT*

      I used Ouch/Ow! instead of No with my dogs for training. I prefer it since kids are more likely to exclaim ow than no, and when I lived in town the neighborhood kids always wanted to play with my dogs and I rescued “dangerous” breeds (wolf mix, husky, chow mix, stafford terriers).

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Good one. I taught my old dog that Ow! and Oh! were not good things. This worked out so well when he met strangers as these exclamations are knee-jerk responses. The stranger using the exclamation would effectively correct my dog before I even had a chance to intervene.

        I also teach my dogs, “It’s okay.” This takes a bit for them to catch on. But after a while they realize what it means and it helps them to calm down if something upsets them. “It’s okay” is another one of those go-to responses that people seem to just use. It’s handy if the dog knows what that means.

    6. Red Reader*

      Something else that works with some dogs – get the edge of her lips in between your hand and her teeth. It’s not as much fun to chew on yourself, because that hurts! (Some dogs don’t have enough lips for that to work, I tend to keep jowly houndy dogs :) ) when my boxer mix got mouthy as a young pup, we also used to use the hand she was chewing on to grab whichever jaw was available – then “yay chewy fun” turns into “nooo don’t hold onto my (nose/chin)”. Again, works better on dogs with longer muzzles.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I had one dog that was real mouthy, worse than the other dogs. I got sick of having my hands and arms all scraped up. One day was the last straw, she got mouthy with me and I bent down, grabbed her paw and put it in my open mouth. (Not touching anything, I just put her paw there.) OH BOY her eyes got as round as saucers. She understood that one. It never dawned on her that I could bite also. After that I had a lot less problems with mouthiness.

        1. MashaKasha*

          I (very gently) bit my dog on the scruff once. Just took his scruff in my mouth when he was being especially insubordinate one day, don’t remember the details. He had the same reaction.

    7. SRB*

      Late to the game but…I have a corgi, and they are supposedly super mouthy. It took from months 2-4 to get him to totally stop mouthing, but what I did worked for him at least.

      I just did the “yelp and shun” method, with the shun being super over dramatized. One second, we’d be playing tug and grring and if he mouthed, I’d yelp REAL loud, so loud it would surprise and stun him, and I’d stand and stare at the wall like he doesn’t exist for at least a minute. Eventually I did that any time his mouth even got close and he stopped even trying. I do wonder what the neighbors thought about how loud I was “yelping”. :p

      YMMV based on what motivates your dog though. My dog is UBER play motivated. Like if there’s a choice between bacon-wrapped-steak and playing, he picks playing. So taking away social acknowledgement and play is a big “punishment” for him. If yours isn’t as into play, it may be helpful to use this strategy in addition to others mentioned.

    8. Bull Terrier in a Wig*

      The best way to deal with the nipping is the natural way – the way the mother dog, and the littermates, do it.

      Any time your puppy even just touches you with her teeth, yelp loudly! (“Yipe,” “ow!” and “At!” are all in my vocabulary.) You want to sound like she hurt you. Then you turn your back, and ignore her for a few minutes – a lifetime, to her! Depending on her breed and character, that’s anywhere from 10 seconds to two minutes.) Ignoring her means either your back turned, or something like a book or newspaper held as if your reading it. Anything that says “I am ignoring you.” Dogs are great with body language.

      If she gets hyper, and tries to make you stop ignoring her, either put her in her crate, or if you don’t have one, find a place in your house where you can shut her in that has no fun things. (And good luck with that!)
      You can make this into a training session, too. Play, nip, “ow!”, goodbye; repeat ad nauseam.

      The most important part of this is that *everybody in the house* needs to do it, too. If they don’t, she’ll stop nipping you, but… In case you haven’t figured it out yet ;-) you’re teaching her that, the second she nips, the fun stops.

    9. SusanIvanova*

      Wear goggles. My cat caught me right under my eye, luckily all I got was a black eye from it.

    10. whack on the side of the head*

      Can’t believe some of these “tips”; I’d never treat my pups roughly, sticking hands in their mouths or using bitter sprays, etc.
      When we are training service dogs, you learn early on how to use NO effectively, how to yelp out and remove the temptation by redirecting attention (usually to a better chewy). it is totally normal for them to chew – they are teething and it hurts. Part of having a young pup is getting used to pinholes in your skin (& sometimes clothes).
      Momma dogs do a good job of making sure pups know when they play too hard with her and also with siblings with a yelp, grunt, even a look.

      Handle your pup often, make sure she gets used to having her paws and muzzle touched and manipulated; joints too. Constantly introduce her to new people and other family members; encourage human contact whenever possible. Let her hear noises (vacuums, phones, barking, sirens, thunder, etc) while you are petting her (we have some noise cds that play while we give them massages) so they are comfortable with noise and associate it with calm feelings & contact with their human.

      Good luck!

  3. Allypopx*

    Bit of a health question…

    So I’ve started exercising again (put on a little holiday weight…) and I run into this problem that always stops me from exercising when I start. I suffer from a pretty acute anxiety disorder, and exercising always sets off a string of extremely frequent panic attacks. Not immediately – it’s not like a reaction to heart rate changes or anything. It’s like I’ll have a moderately intense workout and every 8-12 hours for two days I’ll have a debilitating panic attack. And since I’m trying to exercise at least every other day it becomes just a constant cycle.

    I’ve mainly been doing yoga right now. I’ll take a few runs at the punching bag too, but that’s not usually as bad. The post-yoga panic attacks have been brutal.

    Any advice? Otherwise my moods have been better, I’ve felt more productive and relaxed, and I desperately want to feel healthier. But the panic attacks are killing me. I can’t medicate them that often and it’s really impacting me.

    1. Christy*

      That sucks!! Are you on a daily anti-anxiety med? Have you tried other exercise, like running or some other pure cardio? Have you talked to a doctor? This is such a weird problem–exercise is supposed to help anxiety, dammit. I’d be really angry if my anxiety (treated with Wellbutrin) got worse instead of better when I exercised.

      1. Allypopx*

        Exercise is supposed to help and like from all accounts yoga is really supposed to help, so I thought that would be the safest bet. I’m on klonopin as needed after some bad reactions to daily meds (those reactions were, relatedly, given the suggested counter-treatment of exercise and it made them much worse). Pure cardio is just as bad and also just not a great option for me because I have not-bad-but-not-great knees. The punching bag seems to be less impactful, which is mainly cardio, so color me unable to find discernable patterns.

        My best guess is blood sugar, I have had some minor hypoglycemia issues over the years and exercising also destroys my appetite so I’m possibly not recovering quite enough nutrients, but I try to be mindful about that.

        Tis very frustrating.

        1. neverjaunty*

          “Supposed to” doesn’t mean it works for everyone, though. If yoga gives you panic attacks, don’t worry that there’s something wrong with you or you’re doing it incorrectly. It just isn’t for you for some reason and it’s absolutely reasonable for you to find something that is.

        2. Christy*

          Another suggestion (and feel free to tell me to back off, lol)… what about lifting heavy weights? It’s a hell of a workout but isn’t cardio at all. Plus, idk about you but lifting always makes me ravenous in a way that cardio doesn’t.

          1. Allypopx*

            No I appreciate the suggestion! I dunno I guess I’m trying to lose weight and tone up more than gain a lot of muscle mass? It might be worth looking into though. The other bit is that I have a yoga mat, a punching bag, some small 5lb weights I use for sort of basic lifting at home, and I don’t want to buy a gym membership, and am not sure I want to buy and store a weight set.

            But if the frustration continues I might explore that as another avenue.

            1. Christy*

              Muscle mass helps you lose weight though! And “tone” just means muscle. Plus, you feel like a total badass. Maybe try some body weight exercises. If you google bodyweight exercises nerd fitness you will get a good beginner routine.

              Plus, for me, getting stronger is so empowering.

              And I personally love my gym so I tend to encourage that avenue, even though it’s not ideal for everyone.

              1. Christy*

                Oh, but I wouldn’t read the nerd fitness website, personally. The writer really annoys me.

                Here’s his basic bodyweight workout (three sets)
                20 body weight squats
                10 push ups
                20 walking lunges
                10 dumbbell rows (using a gallon milk jug)
                15 second plank
                30 Jumping Jacks

              2. fposte*

                “And “tone” just means muscle.”

                Thank you. I really wish the “tone” myth would die. It’s not like some people’s muscles dangle around while others are crouched in waiting.

            2. Sled dog mama*

              More muscle, even a small amount, will burn more calories and help lose weight and keep it off. And if non cardio has the plus of not triggering panic attacks…

              1. Allypopx*

                Yeah I guess I meant smaller muscle mass more than bigger muscle mass by “tone”. It’s worth a try certainly!

                1. LadyKelvin*

                  If you are a girl, chances are you won’t bulk up by lifting weights. We just don’t have enough testosterone in our systems. I lift 2-3 times a week for about 6 months now and I’m toned but I haven’t bulked up in the slightest. You’ll probably slim down because muscle is denser than fat. Also, if you think it’s blood sugar, think about drinking gaterade or a protein shake while you work out instead of just water. When I run I have to eat chews about every three miles because my blood sugar will crash and I’ll cramp up.

                2. nonprofit manager*

                  If you are female, it will be nearly impossible to gain bigger muscle mass by doing body weight exercises. Females generally need to lift very heavy weights to accomplish that. I agree with the others that it’s worth a try. You will gain some muscle, which will help you burn more calories throughout the day and lose weight.

            3. Kms1025*

              It would take a massive effort over a long period of time for you to bulk up due to larger mass of muscles. Just go with more reps and relatively lighter weights. It really works.

              1. TL -*

                This! Weightlifting doesn’t mean bulky. Light weights, high reps builds tone. High weights, low reps builds muscle. In between, you’ll build some muscle and tone too.
                Getting a power lifter or bodybuilder physique is not going to happen just because you’re using weights. Anyone can do it, but it takes a serious effort with very specific diet and exercise. Runners and football players both lift to maintain physique; they just lift differently.

            4. Jessesgirl72*

              Start with lifting your own weight. There are books and videos all about that. Until you get really advanced (or thin), body weight is more than enough.

              Also, it’s a fallacy that you can really build muscle mass- especially for women!- just from weights. To get the over-muscled look, it takes steroids.

              1. Allypopx*

                Sorry for pressing a button! I was trying to state that my fitness goals weren’t super muscle focused but I think I hit a nerve and didn’t state it well. I want to be able to do three flights of stairs without getting winded more than tone muscle. Definitely not scared of looking unfeminine or bulky. But I also acknowledge my fitness understandings are relatively limited.

                1. Mephyle*

                  Sorry we jumped on you. What we were trying to say was that lifting weights will help you with your goal of being able to climb multiple flights of stairs.

            5. Connie*

              It’s VERY hard for women to build bulky muscles without specifically training for that effect. That’s just not the way our bodies naturally work. (And even men have to work pretty hard to get “ripped.”) You should never, ever let that fear get between you and lifting weights. It’s good, healthy exercise, easy to adjust to individual needs, and too many women shy away due to worries of something that almost certainly won’t happen.

              This is a bete noire of mine – when I finally took up lifting weights, I realized I’d finally found the exercise I liked & could keep up with on a regular basis. So I’m encouraging more women in particular to try it!

          2. DeadQuoteOlympics*

            Weight lifting can jack your heart rate right up, though, if that is what the trigger is for the panic attacks. It’s not cardio like sustained aerobic activity, but it’s something to consider.

        3. INTP*

          Exercise is usually very helpful for generalized anxiety, but it can be a major trigger for people with panic disorder and panic attacks. As explained in my clinical psych class (admittedly a number of years ago), people with panic disorder are often hypersensitive to their bodily sensations and signals (heart rate, temperature, etc.), and exercise causes major changes in your vital signs which can trigger the panic attacks.

          The blood sugar is also a definite possibility, I’ve read of many cases where someone was able to trace their anxiety attacks to drops in blood sugar. Can you stomach a post-workout smoothie with some protein powder or greek yogurt in it maybe?

          I wouldn’t give up on exercise entirely but definitely talk to the doctor managing your anxiety about what is going on – there might be some medication you can take before exercise that can help you prevent the panic attacks.

        4. Observer*

          As others say “supposed” is not quite as useful as it sounds. But also, if you have hypoglycemia issues, you need to deal with that. It’s not just the nutritional aspect of that, but the messing with you blood sugar levels which can have some fairly difficult effects.

          Also, have you spoken to your doctor about supplements like Vitamin B complex, and fish oil. These are not indicated for everyone, but for some people this stuff can help.

        5. WellRed*

          My first thought was blood sugar. Exercise can lower it for 24 hours after exercise, low sugar can sometines feel like anxiety.

        6. Mreasy*

          This happens to me, too, and I also have mild hypoglycemia as well as anxiety disorder. I have always thought it was a blood sugar thing, so I make myself eat something like a banana pre-workout & a meal afterward (or a protein/complex carb/fat snack). It helps, but I still have issues sometimes – and yeah, super frustrating given exercise helps with my mental state in other ways!

            1. Mreasy*

              Likewise! I have found overall that exercise & diet are really tough to figure out in terms of overall mental health, even though the conventional wisdom has them being this turnkey mental health improver. It is a journey, though. Yoga-wise, I’ve been doing some hatha routines from doyogawithme .com when I still want to stretch & lengthen but feel that the vinyasa power poses will be too aggravating. Maybe yin/hatha yoga could be an alternative to try? Good luck.

        7. C*

          It could be that you’re raising your cortisol levels too high–basically putting yourself in fight-or-flight mode. I have PTSD with severe anxiety/panic attacks and I’ve been dr.-ordered to do yoga and walk. Nothing that makes my body think I’m in fight-or-flight.

    2. Undine*

      Are there specific poses that make it worse? For example, hip openers can be very emotional. Back bends also. You don’t have to give them up, but overall, be very conservative about how far you go in yoga poses. Listen deeply to your body and emotions at the time. Better to do more smaller/lesser poses than to challenge yourself to do deep poses. Look at different kinds of yoga, like viniyoga or yin yoga. (Yin yoga could make it better or worse, depends what’s going on.)

      Eventually, you may get to a point where the panic happens at the time you are doing the pose — on one level this is horrible, but on another level, this is progress. I know you have a life and you have to function, but the panic is trying to release itself.

      Are you getting therapy or other treatment for the panic attacks? What support do you have there — online or off?

      1. Allypopx*

        I get medical treatment for panic attacks and have a really great support system for my anxiety, both at work and at home, and am given a lot of space to decompress and release and be selfish as necessary for my own self care. My anxiety is a constant part of my life but it feels well maintained, like I work with it and don’t fight it or bottle it up more than necessary to function, as you say.

        But, still, good point. I don’t know a lot about the emotional impacts of yoga and it could be specifically that. I always feel great in the moment and this happens much later, but all of my routines do involve some variation on warrior stances, which are hip openers. I’ll look into that, thanks for the insight.

        I do want to point out this happens with other forms of exercise too, however.

        1. Undine*

          Yoga is potentially a good place to explore what is happening. There can be a fine line between being empowered and being overwhelmed — sometimes the release itself triggers protection mechanisms that don’t feel safe feeling empowered, if that makes sense. It may get easier over time, but ideally you want to take it to the edge and expand yourself a little without triggering more than you want to handle. Even for the other exercise, I’d say try to see if multiple short sessions are better than one long session. If you find an approach that works, even if it’s less than you would like to be doing right now, if you are consistent with it, you will see progress, and eventually you can slowly do more. This is a long-haul game, and everything you do now, even making mistakes, will pay off.

          1. neverjaunty*

            Respectfully, I don’t think it’s a good idea to stick with something that is painful or debilitating in the hopes of finding a way to make it work eventually somehow. Yoga is an option, not an obligation.

            1. Undine*

              That’s true if there’s another alternative or if you don’t want to do it. But if all exercise causes some level of panic attack, then you have to explore different avenues to find out what can work. I certainly wouldn’t say “you MUST do yoga.” But this is someone who wants to exercise, and I’m offering suggestions that they can accept or reject as they choose.

              My personal experience with mind/body challenges is that if I go too far, it’s debilitating and counter-productive. But if I tried to avoid everything that is triggering, well, not even staying at home under the covers can save me. So it’s a fine line and up to the person involved.

              Here’s the Olympian Amy van Dyken on swimming with asthma:
              “Before I got my asthma under control with the right medicines — at age 23 — I was rushed to the hospital monthly. Finally I switched medicines and started sleeping through the night. I also got a peak flow meter (to measure lung capacity). If I was in the green, I’d go all out and do a normal swim practice. If I was in the yellow, I’d warm up really slowly, then see if it was in the green. If it was still in the yellow, the workout would be less intense. If I got to the pool and was in the red, I wouldn’t even set foot in the water.”

            2. Allypopx*

              Oh I absolutely agree, neverjaunty, but this has been a long term thing with many forms of exercise and I don’t want to give up on it, especially when the reaction seems mainly physiological and not like a physical limitation I have. Yoga might not work out, but I also don’t want to give up over a few bad experiences. I’ll never commit to anything that way.

              As Undine said, “if I tried to avoid everything that is triggering, well, not even staying at home under the covers can save me.” which I think is the perfect way to describe it. I’m looking more for how to make it manageable while I try different things.

              1. neverjaunty*

                Hey, whatever works for you, works for you. I just feel my shoulders creeping up when someone says “every time I do X it causes me a huge problem” and is told that maybe they just need to do more X, or different X, or hey, everything causes problems so might as well X… alternately, maybe set X aside, at least for now?

                1. Allypopx*

                  I hear you. I promise I’m asking in the interest of self care, not with the intent of pushing myself too hard. If I can’t find a way to do it in a way that works for me I’ll stop or take a break, I’m just not quite there yet.

        2. Christy*

          If you want to learn more about yoga (more than just the poses) at a relatively introductory level, I recommend the book Do Your Om Thing. It has really helped me to understand more of what’s happening in class and why it’s happening.

        3. Jill*

          There are also lots of do-at-home ten minute yoga videos. Maybe find some for different themes: relaxation, strength, etc etc and see what does or doesn’t trigger. This could help you narrow down what poses are your friend and what aren’t.

          I know it’s winter, but maybe long walks could be your friend here as well?

          1. Ninja*

            I’d second the daily walks suggestion. It’s good exercise, won’t get your heart rate up too much, and is free. Get a fitness tracker, set it for 10,000 steps each day, and see if that helps. (Also, get a decent pair of walking shoes!)

            1. Allypopx*

              I live in Boston so I end up walking a ton and interestingly that never bothers me. I could definitely make more of a point of that.

    3. A Signer*

      I don’t have any suggestions, but hugs if you want them. My body reacts weirdly to exercise and people just do not get it. I have a chronic pain syndrome and people kept (forcefully) recommending that I try yoga, but due to some trauma yoga makes me start sobbing in the middle of class. It’s hard when your body’s response is counterintuitive to what people expect. I hope things get better and you can find an exercise option that works for you.

      1. Undine*

        I wish you luck, too. Crying I don’t mind (unless it’s so loud it can be heard in the next county), but it can be exhausting, and you’re the one who knows your limits. (I should clarify, I mean I am the crier.) Some of it is how accepting the environment is. For a while I went to a Tai Chi class that was taught by a woman who had been badly burned — it was a very accepting place with a huge range of students, and it really helped me feel more comfortable with my reactions. Body work, like massage, can sometimes help with trauma as well as pain, but again it’s so individual, and a bad body worker can hurt you.

        1. FormerLibrarian*

          Decades ago my chiropracter sent me to a massage therapist since “I do all this great work and you pull it all out of place within 24 hours”. For the first several weeks I would find myself lying on the table with tears streaming down my face during practically every session, and not from pain or discomfort. My masseuse said this was actually pretty normal for people who have been bottling up years of emotional stress in their muscles. (I was seriously so tense that for those first sessions she was barely working on me with more than her fingertips, and she’d have to remind me to breathe!) Her explanation, which seems as good as any was that as you finally loosen the physical knots and kinks, you are also loosening the emotional pain you’ve been storing up in them, sometimes for decades. It has to go somewhere, and out it in tears is much healthier than back into new rock hard muscle knots.

          Could the issue with yoga be something similar?

          1. Allypopx*

            It could be the issue with any physical activity, really. Between adrenaline being an anxiety trigger and all the physical things a body goes through with exercise, there could be an emotional component happening to really take it over the edge. After all the body heals over time, not all at once.

            It is something to think about.

            You said for “the first several weeks” I hope that means you’re feeling better now!

            1. FormerLibrarian*

              It did get better and pretty quickly. Sadly, I think I’m starting to hold it in again judging by the reaction I’m having to very tiny doses of ativan (so I can get some sleep). At least I know what to expect, and why stuff is happening, which makes it a lot easier to deal with.

              We’ve had family drama with my parents, and I’ve been unemployed for over three years at this point. Now that I have my new shiny degree in a field where there are actually jobs (though not enough entry level, surprise) I’m really kicking off the job hunt again, and if I have to go geo bachelor, we’ll deal with it. We need the money, and we’re in a part of the country which never got out of the 2008 recession. (Our governor has finally admitted we’re back into another recession. Since almost everyone I know is under- or un- employed, the announcement was NOT a surprise.)

          2. Nic*

            Massage therapist here. If you’re interested in more information about the types of emotional releases you experienced in your early sessions, Bodymind by Ken Dychtwald is a neat place to start.

            When I was in school we learned it as emotions are rushes of neurotransmitters as a reaction to a stimulus. Not all of those neurotransmitters necessarily go to the appropriate sites, and may become locked in other areas of the body, especially if those muscles were active at the time of the emotion. Sometimes releasing longheld muscle tightness can also release those neurotransmitters back into the system.

            I’m not sure how scientific that is, but emotional responses to massage are VERY common.

      2. Allypopx*

        Thank you! I found online videos that are super beginner friendly and encourage you to know your body and respect your limits (yoga by adrienne on youtube, if anyone is interested). A class would be super overwhelming for me.

    4. PassingThrough*

      I’m not in that specific situation, but for me strength training / weightlifting greatly helps with my mood. I avoid cardio and just do work with heavy weights. I’ve been doing it for years, but if you’re just starting out, I would suggest taking a class or a few sessions with a personal trainer to get the technique down and customize the exercises for your body. There is something very satisfying, calming, and focusing in moving heavy weights (and “heavy” is relative for each person).

    5. Catface*

      How are you with dance? I can’t do yoga for various reasons, but I have a ballet workout that’s just challenging enough.

      It could be that finding a different form–to put you in a different mindset while you’re working out–could help.

    6. PhillyPretzel*

      Oh man, I am an anxious person and I know how much this must suck. You say that this has stopped you from sticking with an exercise routine before, so I wonder if this reaction would lessen after a while, if you can push through this initial suckiness for a few weeks? Like a period of desensitization. It sounds like you’re already seeing some benefits and that you have a really good handle on managing your condition, so I’d be tempted to stick it out for an initial period and then reassess, along with trying other forms of exercise, as others have suggested.

    7. Yetanotherjennifer*

      That must be rough! It doesn’t really surprise me though; mind-body connection and all. The physicality of the exercise may be dredging up emotional and anxiety stuff with you. If I’m really stressed and anxious I don’t want to exercise, not because it won’t help, but because the journey to helping dredges up emotions and crying in the gym is just not my thing. Maybe you can treat it like a muscle building exercise: start with a 5 minute walk every day and see what that gets you. If you get panic attacks, back down the time or walk less frequently. If you’re fine, then gradually increase the duration or frequency and see what happens. Or get a step counter and just try and add more steps for starters. Same with muscle building: can you do 10 squats without problem? 10 punches? You could start even easier and look for something really gentle and easy like Sit and Be Fit (exercise for seniors) or Fit2Be (online workouts designed for people with diastassis recti–split abdominal wall) or Tai Chi. Work to find your maximum exercise threshold where you don’t get panic attacks and build from there. Or better yet, build from slightly less than that so that exercising on a bad day doesn’t push you over the edge. Keep a journal and treat this scientifically to find what works for you.

      Do you think music might have something to do with it? I don’t know what your set-up is. But lots of yoga classes include music and maybe your punching bag sessions don’t. Music can also dredge up emotions so maybe exercise plus music affects you faster or differently than just exercise would. Or maybe it’s the type of music. Especially since yoga music tends to be sort of Enya-esque and that’s probably not what you’re punching to. Something to think about. Good luck!

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Are you drinking or using anything with synthetic sugars in it?

      What are you using for minerals? Do you have an electrolyte drink?

    9. not another Annie*

      I also have an anxiety disorder that is triggered by exercise. For me, the panic is generally in proportion to the ‘high’ I feel after exercising – so much so that I’m starting to negatively associate that post-exercise endorphin rush. Any exercise that gives me that high usually generates the anxiety a few hours later.
      Zumba, which I love, seems to be particularly bad (mostly because I have very poor coordination so I spend the workout laughing at my clumsiness as much as anything). I’m pretty sure it’s a neurotransmitter issue for me, stemming from that initial endorphin (and dopamine) cascade post-workout.

      I haven’t really found a solution, except that exercising in the late evening is a particularly bad idea. Since I’m not a morning person and expecting myself to exercise in the morning is setting myself up for failure…well, I’m also in a bit of a quandary. Earlier evening is the best compromise I’ve found so far, and aquatics such as aquacize seem to be ok.

      So no advice really, but I wanted to let you know you’re not alone.

      1. TL -*

        Oh aquatic exercise might be good! It’s usually designed for low-impact, low body stress.

        Also, OP, maybe look into classes/exercises for older people. They’re much more likely to be designed not to increase heart rate too much. (Tai Chi, aquatics, silver sneakers)

    10. Big City Editor*

      I have this problem, too. I have a heart condition (paroxysmal atrial tachycardia) *and* general anxiety disorder (I’m on Lexapro for this) and whenever I do heart openers in yoga, my anxiety levels kick in because my heart starts racing like crazy. See if you can avoid doing the exercises that bring you discomfort. Any other exercise is totally fine; only yoga makes me anxious.

      And could you also see if there’s an additional underlying medical issue? PAT makes your heart race and you experience the same kind of symptoms as a mild, short-lived anxiety attack. I’ve probably had PAT my entire life, but I didn’t get diagnosed until my late 30s. My cardiologist was astonished no one had noticed it before.

  4. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I have been watching The Crown and loving it, and I have a question that’s gnawing at me.

    In many episodes, when one of the main characters is on the phone, a bunch of switchboard staff members are listening in, seemingly openly. For example, when the foreign secretary insists that Churchill acknowledge how valuable he is, he tells him to say it loudly so that the people listening in are sure to hear it. Why are people listening on these calls? I have been googling for the answer and can’t find it.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Probably for record-keeping. Like how we have transcripts of every phone call made from the White House.

      I love The Crown. Tried to get my bf to join me for a re-watch, considering his love of history, but… no.

      1. Franzia Spritzer*

        That was my impression too. Monarchs have had their daily lives chronicled with exactitude for as long as we’ve had written history, I can’t imagine their phone calls would be exempt form this expectation.

    2. printrovert*

      I haven’t had a chance to watch this yet but maybe soon. I think it is because operators had to keep the lines open during the call so both parties could remain disconnected. There were some providers that provided individual service but that was more expensive than a party line.

    3. Marzipan*

      I haven’t watched The Crown at all, but the way telephone switchboard operators are often presented (both in period dramas now, and in contemporary fiction at the time they were a thing) is as nosy busybodies who were probably listening on on your conversation. As I understand it, connecting your call required the operator to physically connect it? And they could (and possibly needed to?) listen in once you’d been connected. So I would take it as being a side effect of the way the technology required human intervention to work (and, the way human nature can’t help but listen in). In The Midwich Cuckoos, for example, there’s definitely a whole thing about how the village postmistress is sure to be listening in to calls…

      1. Connie-Lynne*

        I worked as a switchboard operator in my youth, and, yes, you could listen in on calls. There was no need to, but if you wanted to ensure a connection had been made, you could listen, hear both parties begin speaking to each other, and then disconnect.

    4. aaaaaaaanon*

      I thought I’d love The Crown because I generally like period pieces, but I was pretty bored through most of it. But I think that’s because there’s only so much I can take about privileged white people whining about how hard their situation is, and I don’t really understand the point of a monarchy in this day and age.

      The blase attitude towards British Imperialism also made me really uncomfortable. I know you can’t portray modern approaches in a period piece, but the way they handled it left me very unsettled.

      I did have the same thought about the phones, though.

      1. DragoCucina*

        What struck me was how little power the Royal Family had over their own lives. Elizabeth had to be firm about marrying Philip. Then her own sister wasn’t allowed to marry the person she wanted. The lack of general education in preparation to be queen. She was smart enough to recognize what she didn’t know. I found the scene where she is reminded that she’s had more education on the constitution than anyone else interesting.

        1. J*

          A bit late to this, but I believe that’s still the case re: marriages. I read recently where I think it’s the next 8 in line to the throne need any marriages approved by the Queen (probably the royal family as a whole, but the Queen officially). As of now that means Beatrice and Eugenie would need QEII’s approval in their desired spouse.

      2. Lemon Zinger*

        I felt the same way about the series. I much preferred Victoria over The Crown. Elizabeth and Philip aren’t very sympathetic characters.

        1. aaaaaaaanon*

          I didn’t really find anyone sympathetic overall. There were moments for each of them I sympathized with, but as a whole I found all of them to be almost….annoying? I can’t put my finger on the word exactly, but I just didn’t really care about them by the finale.

          I think Jared Harris’ portrayal of King George was the best, though. He was the shining star of the series for me.

      3. Mephyle*

        I found it very educational (including looking up articles on which parts were fiction and which parts were real). I haven’t found it necessary to like the characters or to be convinced of the point of monarchy to find it interesting.

        I was surprised to learn that the version I had long believed of Princess Margaret’s broken romance was not true. I had thought that the Queen didn’t support her marrying Group Captain Townsend, and that the reason the princess ended up not marrying him was because they forbade her. When the show gave a different version, I looked it up and found that the version I had learned from the news at the time was not true; that things happened basically as portrayed in The Crown.

    5. Ruffingit*

      I found this information about switchboard calls, possibly this is the reason?

      “Operators had to listen in on conversations, at least intermittently, so they knew when it ended so it could be disconnected. This was especially important for long distance calls. (If the call was especially interesting, we may have listened longer). Toll calls were recorded on yellow tickets by the operator, listing the start time, date, operator number, calling from, calling to, and the stop time. The operator then calculated the charge according to a chart. If I wasn’t aware of when the conversation ended they would get charged too much, so I had to check in frequently. There was also a box to place comments. This was there to indicate if I thought someone was using the phone who shouldn’t be, like a child. Then there would be a record of it and I would be in the clear. It cost 23 cents to Harrisburg and 17 cents to Selinsgrove for a 5 minute call. A person-to-person call was 3 minutes for about the same price.”

        1. Ruffingit*

          Oh sorry I’m not a local reader. I’m in Houston actually. This is just something I found on the net :)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yes, this.
        Call switching/connecting was done manually. Take the plug out of a port, put a plug in another port and so on.

        Even for regular people, one had to assume that a nosy operator was listening to the call. BUT. In those days receiving or making a call was a bfd. Family would gather around the caller as the caller spoke to another family member long distance.

    6. AdAgencyChick*

      I love it because:

      1) I had no idea that the British monarch actually does participate, if to a limited extent, in decisions of state. I thought the monarchy was *completely* for show at this point. I realize this is fictionalized history, not a documentary, but it’s quite interesting to see how and when a monarch might actually assert power. (Even though I don’t believe in the institution!)

    7. Juli G.*

      I’m digging The Crown too. My whole life, Elizabeth has been an “old lady”. It’s fascinating to see her as a young woman.

    8. Nic*

      I had the same question, and am glad you asked! (And that the awesome folks in thread had an answer for it.) It was that specific scene, too.

    9. nonprofit manager*

      I also love The Crown and will probably watch it again over the summer before Season 2 comes out.

      I am not sure if this is the actual answer to the question, but based on things I have read previously from that time period and earlier, telephones worked much differently that today and were not strictly private. Many people listened in on conversations for entertainment purposes. Private conversations needed to happen in person. Not sure that’s the reason for this, it seems there is probably a functional reason having to do with clearing lines, but I suspect entertainment was part of it.

  5. WeightLoss Question*

    I am a little overweight. Not obese by any stretch but I would say I’m 25-35 pounds heavier than I want to be. This number does not come out of thin air but from my doctor; I have fragile and delicate bones so having too much weight means it’s a lot easier for me to break bones and likely give me early arthritis. So I do also have a legit medical concern for losing weight.

    My friends are very supportive and want me to be happy and healthy. However, I’m finding a few friends who seem to be against my weight loss. Anytime my weight loss comes up, they immediately say ‘But you’re beautiful just the way you are! You don’t need to change as long as you’re happy!’ Which is a lovely sentiment but I have explained to them why I do need to do this. However they refuse to accept these explanations and just keep telling me I don’t need to lose weight.

    We are all female so I think these friends are very aggressive against the societal norms of female beauty (stick figure thin and all that) but they know that’s not why I’m doing this, that there are medical reasons behind it. Plus even if it was, I’m not trying to get that thin; it would just be nice to go from 16/18 in pants to 12/14.

    It got even weirder this last week. One of these friends, who I haven’t seen in a while because we’ve both been busy with separate holiday things, posted an inspirational photo message she found directly to my Facebook. It said something to the effect of ‘One day I decided I was beautiful, and I looked in the mirror to see that it was true all along.’ She posted that directly to my Facebook wall so I know this is directly in relation to her thinking I don’t need to lose weight. I actually got a little mad when I saw it, and nearly deleted it, since the post is there for all to see.

    Again, I know all my friends want the best for me and even these few think they’re being supportive. It’s just weird that their support is trying to talk me out of it. Has anyone else had to deal with friends like this when working on weight loss? And how do you get them to stop the comments/understand that your decisions are your own?

    1. Christy*

      Oh that’s so weird! Friends are supposed to be supportive. Whenever my friends aren’t supportive on a particular topic, we basically explicitly agree not to talk about that topic with each other. It’s all we can do.

    2. Mazzy*

      The thing I never get about comments like this is that in most situations, women are told they have excellent instincts and to trust your instincts, trust your instincts. Gift of Fear, and all of that. Then when it comes to specific points like this, your instinct to lose weight has no meaning. Maybe your body or brain is sending you a message for whatever reason that it would prefer to be this way, not that. Not everything is social programming. And despite all of the talk about unrealistic body expectations, obesity is a huge problem especially in certain areas of the country. It’s not something to just dismiss.

    3. Allypopx*

      I think there’s a cultural movement surrounding body positivity that, while well intentioned, can go too way far and be harmful in this regard. Any conversation around “I want to change my body” is perceived as insecurity and a cry for help, even if it’s not. I see this a lot on certain factions of the internet regarding mental health as well. Embracing it is better than treating it and letting someone convince you something’s wrong with you.

      I would personally approach it by addressing their fears first. “I love my body, and I am perfectly happy with my appearance” (honestly I would say this whether it’s true or not because it’s what they’re hyperfocused on) “What I’m working on right now is my health, which will improve my life in a lot of ways that have nothing to do with my looks. It would be really helpful if you would be supportive of my goals instead of trying to talk me out of them.”

      And if they don’t, leave it, make it a topic they aren’t looped in on. Don’t talk about it, if they bring it up say “I’d prefer not to discuss my weight/diet/choices” calmly, firmly, and repeatedly, until they back off.

      It’s such a touchy subject nowadays. But it’s great that you’re taking steps to make yourself feel better and healthier. Negativity will always make reaching your goals harder, so put up a wall to block it out where you can. Good luck!

      1. matcha123*

        I agree with this. There were a few times when I was younger that I would tell friends that they were fine just as they were. I thought that I was being supportive and helping them to realize that they didn’t need to force themselves into some image. However, as time has passed, I’ve realized that it’s a lot better to just offer some encouragement. The other day, a friend of mine said that she thought her skin was bad, I thought her skin was great and told her so. Then I asked about her skin care routine and any discoveries she’s made. Unless the person is doing something very dangerous, it’s not my place to stop them. What is to be gained from that?

    4. A Signer*

      It’s possible that they don’t want to talk about weight loss but don’t know how to just say that to you. I’m not a fan of talking about diets and calories and fat burning, but I’ll usually just be direct about it with friends and coworkers. Is it possible that your friends are dealing with disordered eating or other body image issues that might be activated by talking about weight loss? You should obviously do what’s best for you and your health, but these friends might not be the right people to be a good support system for that. Do you have other friends that would be open to discussing this and cheering you on?

      1. E.R*

        Hmm yeah. I have a friend who wants to lose weight, and I want to support her but I find discussing body and food issues reminds me of when I was younger and obsessed over that kind of thing (which was mostly a waste of precious time and energy for me). But I want to support her and be a good listener and help her work through her stuff without those uncomfortable memories of wasted self-hatred. For me, running outdoors, playing sports again and eating whole foods and learning to be kind of myself was the perfect antidote but I know things that work for me may not work for her, and I dont want to be preachy. So, I listen and feel uncomfortable and honestly kind of stressed out by it.

        If WeightLoss or anyone else has examples of how to be supportive in a helpful way I would love to hear them.

    5. nep*

      You probably won’t ever be able to stop all comments that go contrary to your health goals — so best to just let them float out there, not pressing your buttons or sabotaging you in the slightest. Perhaps easier said than done, but it can be quite effective and empowering. It’s true that it would be more respectful to support you in every way you need, but sometimes we can’t know exactly what motivates people to say what they say. Your greatest power in such situations is deciding how (or whether) to react. Mind, I’m not dismissing your dilemma — I can see how it could be difficult.
      You know what’s right for you and your health — go with that, own it, and let others deal with their own reactions or projections. All the best.

      1. WeightLoss Question*

        It’s not something I’m constantly bringing up, it just always seems to come up with the people who will make those comments. One of my friends is a fashion/costume designer and her Christmas gift to me was fabrics with the promise of making for me a particular outfit I’ve really wanted. She asked when I thought we could do it (there’s no time limit for it on her part or mine, I know that so her comments aren’t because I threw off her expectations). I answered that in a couple months when I had my weight a little better in hand and she made the comment that I’m fine the way I am.

        Another friend, we were discussing recent doctors appointments, where I said that my doctor said I was healthy other than my weight. Friend basically said ‘What does your doctor know? You don’t need to loose weight.’

        It’s definitely not a topic I am constantly discussing, I keep it to myself. But whenever it does happen, those supportive yet unsupportive comments fly up from two or three very outspoken friends.

        1. neverjaunty*

          In that case, you can tell them thanks but they’ve already made their feelings pretty clear on the subject.

        2. DragoCucina*

          You can set your Facebook page that you have to approve anything that shows on your page. Your friend will see it, but it won’t be in your newsfeed. I had to do this to prevent the same book/library meme to be posted 20 times on my newsfeed.

          You have the right not to discuss your weight. The doctor comment isn’t totally crazy. I had an obstetrician who had lost a great deal of weight and was so fixated on weightloss for her patients it actually interfered with my care. I was exactly where I was supposed to be weight wise.

          1. Observer*

            Oh, Come on! Your OB was clearly out of line – and probably essentially engaged in malpractice. But that’s not a good reason to just dismiss anything any doctor says about the matter to anyone with “what does the doctor know?” WieghtLoss makes it clear that her doctor has specific concerns about her due to her specific situation. It would be fairly foolish to brush it off because some doctors don’t know where to stop.

            1. DragoCucina*

              I didn’t say she should ignore her doctor. A patient must be their own advocate. Its not unusual or inappropriate to question your physician. My husband is a retired CRNA and taught anesthesia to many MDAs. I can attest that many doctors roll their eyes at each other professionally. In one situation we asked 4 different doctors for diagnoses for one of our sons and received 3 different answers. Fortunately we went with the correct one. Doctors are not infallible and often let their personal agendas drive their decisions.

              1. Observer*

                I know that – but that doesn’t make a broad brush “what does your doctor know” at all reasonable. It’s rude and crazy in the context.

              2. Mike C.*

                But this sort of thing leads to folks completely ignoring experts, turning to pseudoscience and so on. I don’t think you’re going down this road but too many do and it’s incredibly harmful.

                Asking questions is great, but too many people believe that means “I can do my own research on Google and what the hell do they know anyway”. Even if these experts are arrogant jerks, they still have the years of education, experience, training and certifications that lay people lack.

        3. LadyKelvin*

          “What does your doctor know?”
          Um a lot more about your health than your friends. And you should tell them that. You could say it politely but I tend to be a bit brusque when people say something I think is crazy without warning. You do what you need to do to be healthy and screw your friends’ opinions. I know when I mentioned I was trying to lose weight by working out more and cutting out sweets several of my friends told me that gaining weight was part of getting older (I’m 120 lbs and 5’2″ so not technically overweight) and I responded that I had gained 10 pounds in the last 6 months due to stress and that was not healthy. It has taken longer than 6 months to lose it, but I’m getting there.

          1. DeadQuoteOlympics*

            Yeah, high risk of osteoporosis and mild arthritis can also be a part of getting older, and if I keep that extra 10-15 pounds off, the stairs are a lot easier now and I’m less likely to break a hip in the future. Sometimes it is not about looks, it’s about functionality — and honestly, as people get older they care much more about things like mobility and strength than looks.

    6. Elle*

      What if you were to just stop discussing it with them? It’s really none of their beeswax anyway! And if it does happen to come up, maybe say something like, “I’m just focusing on eating healthy and taking good care of myself.” There’s probably not a whole lot to come back with if you say that. In other words, take the focus of your efforts off weight and put it firmly on your overall health and well-being. Good luck, and don’t let them discourage you!

    7. INTP*

      How is the topic of weight loss coming up? This is such an emotional and individual topic for so many people, even the topic of someone else’s weight loss can trigger some intrusive thoughts and be awkward for people to know how to respond to. I’m not defending them, they shouldn’t get so aggressive about it that they’re putting stuff on your Facebook, but I also see how it could happen. In the future, I’d say to not mention your weight loss efforts unless someone else brings it up first, even if it seems to you to be a natural tangent to the conversation.

      For the friends you’ve already discussed this with, focus on the unemotional, non-aesthetic aspects — “My doctor says I need to lose [amount] because [medical jargon for your delicate bones and joints and potential complications of excess weight for them]. I appreciate your support, but in my case I really do need to lose the weight because my body isn’t built to handle it.” Most reasonable people won’t try to argue with a specific, well-explained medical reason.

    8. Zip Silver*

      Crabs in a bucket, OP.

      This is incredibility common when one member of a friend group (of both genders) decides they want to get in shape, suddenly the rest will come out of the woodwork to prevent you from doing so. “oh you look great the way you are, you don’t need to change anything”.

      Ignore it. You do you, and don’t be in their faces about it (like facebook motivational images and whatnot) and it’ll die down in a few weeks.

    9. Observer*

      I think you need to find new friends. Either they don’t mean to be supportive (a lot of this sounds quite passive aggressive to me), they simply can’t accept any point of view that is not a 100% clone of theirs, or they’re reacting to their own issue by trying to argue with you.

      None of these are behavior coming from a good friend.

    10. Jill*

      I think it’s time to be firmer when these conversations are happening. Some scripts:

      You don’t need to lose weight! You’re beautiful just as you are!

      “I’ve already told you I’m losing weight to decrease the stress on my bones, which are more fragile than other people’s.”

      If they continue…

      “Wow. I already told you it’s to prevent early arthritis. It’s pretty rude to keep telling me I don’t need to lose weight.” (Long pause. Let it be awkward. You didn’t make it awkward, your friend did, and you can return that straight to sender.)

      If they STILL continue…

      “You don’t get a say in my health decisions.” followed by “Let’s change the subject.” or “How about them Yankees?” or “So, did you see X movie yet?”

      That last one? Get it on repeat. If they keep bringing it up, become a broken record and make it REALLY boring for them to try and engage you on this topic. If you’re still having these problems with them, maybe it’s time to downgrade them to Small Doses Friends or Not My Friend At All, Actually.

      1. Florida*

        I agree with this. The only thing is you need to start off by asking them to not mention it again (if you haven’t already).
        Friend: You don’t need to lose weight. You look great as you are.
        You: I am not going to discuss my weight with you. Please don’t mention it again.
        From here, you can continue with Jill’s script.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Yes. This.

        “It wasn’t a question.”
        “Perhaps I was not clear, I am doing this. The best way to support me is to say something positive or let it go.”

        I lost 50 pounds and went from a size 24 down to an 8. (Muscle weighs more than fat/water so that is why so many sizes and not that many pounds.) About half way through this journey I realized there is really very few people to talk about weight with other than the doc or the books I read.

        Basically, if you want to discuss weight loss with someone find people similar to you, people who have to lose weight for health reasons and the doctor ordered it. The random person in your life probably will not understand and/or not support you in the ways you need.

        People can be pretty strident about these matters. If you find yourself caught in a conversation with a person loaded up with opinions, pause and say, “Gee, you seem to be getting very emotionally involved in this topic. What’s up with that?” In some cases you may conclude that you make them feel guilty because they have been thinking about losing weight and doing nothing.

        I hope at some point you can chuckle over my story. I decided to finish losing the weight because my health was in the latrine. I could barely get out of bed. I had a lot of emotional stuff going on then also. So I took control over my diet. I heard things like, “Well, it’s her way of controlling her life.” or “You are obsessed with weight loss.” (That one was funny, because if I had to weigh 500 pounds to feel better then I would have gained that weight. I just wanted to feel better. I could not have cared less about weight at that point.)
        So I walked alone on my journey for the last leg of it. The next thing I know is that many of my peers have signed up for weight watchers. I was not invited. ha! Even more telling, no one let me know that this was going on. So all of the sudden I know at least 18 people who have joined weight watchers together. I guess I was not so wrong after all. They had ridiculed me so much that they had put themselves in a place where they could not even discuss their own concerns with me. That was a wall built by their own doing and honestly, it existed only in their minds. I would have talked with them if they asked.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        You beat me to it. I would shut it down because it’s incredibly detrimental–this isn’t about looks; it’s about HEALTH.
        Also, it has to be really annoying too!

    11. Oignonne*

      I have found it’s often best to shut down the topic of weight altogether instead of trying to explain. Be a broken record- “I’m fine, thank you,” “I don’t talk about weight,” “oh, my diet isn’t that interesting to talk about,” and “I’ve asked you before not to comment on my body. Please stop doing it.” Then change the topic.

      Comments like your fashion friend made are probably a polite, automatic response. To those, I’d just say thanks. I don’t know how you are responding to those, but launching into a defense of your diet is going to be seen a bit oddly, just as responding with a long or negative response to a passing “how are you?” would be seen as odd.

      I think you can once say to close friends something like “I appreciate the concern, but I am fine with myself. I am not engaging in dangerous dieting or overexercising. I’m being monitored by my doctor and am not losing the weight because I think people need to be super thin to be attractive or happy. Please trust me to make my own health decisions.” After that, I’d try to shut down discussion altogether, because engaging is probably being (rudely) interpreted as an invitation to keep discussing it. It sounds like you have explained already, so I’d just move on to not debating. Sorry you have to deal with this annoying behavior. We have some odd views as a society about food and weight, and many think they get a say about other people’s bodies.

    12. AdAgencyChick*

      Take up weightlifting. Then tell people you need to get into the next lower weight class for competitions.

      I’m only half joking. This is the only thing that would make my coworkers shut up when the office was full of treats and alcohol in December. Now I’m down almost 10 pounds and everyone is jealous because I got a head start on the diets everyone starts in January!

    13. Rahera*

      That doesn’t sound like much fun. There are some good insights here, and Captain Awkward also has lots of good advice on setting boundaries and self care.

      Best of luck with your friends and with weight loss. It can be really frustrating on your own, but it can be done :).

    14. Huh*

      It’s just a polite way to respond. If someone says “I’m x pounds overweight and need to lose weight” it seems churlish to respond with “Yeah I totally agree, look at all those flabs of yours.”

      For example today, one of my friends mentioned she is on a diet. We all responded with a chorus of “you’re beautiful” – which is true, she really is gorgeous – but yeah, she is also overweight. But I would never, ever say that to her. Just like if anyone complains about their kids. No matter what the kid has done, even if he kicked a puppy or threw an irreplaceable antique vase at grandma, it seems rude to acknowledge how horrible their offspring is. You only nod sympathetically and utter “Oh but he’s a good kid, deep down.”

      1. Amadeo*

        Well, you could have wished her luck. Or offered to be a gym buddy/accountability buddy. Or offered some other form of help or to be there if she needed support.

    15. Nic*

      Just piling in to agree with several folks. It seems the body positivity movement has forgotten that part of loving yourself is making decisions about yourself for yourself that make you happy, and other people respecting that regardless of how it fits into their idealized version of you.
      I’ve seen several folks come up with scripts, and I agree that a general “My doctor and I have this planned out” type of thing for a first run is probably a good thing. It lets folks know that there IS a plan, that it is medically approved, and gives a pretty hefty hint of “and I don’t need your input.” Specifically the part about “I have brittle bones and I want to do this to ensure I don’t run into difficulties later.” could be thrown in with folks you feel comfortable sharing.

      For the friends who just won’t take no for an answer when it comes to the “you’re perfect just how you are!” bit, I personally would go with something along the lines of “I realize that there is nothing objectively wrong with the way I am. However, I want to make a change to make myself happy. Please, as my friend, do not undercut this by telling me what should or should not make me happy. I am the best judge of that.”

      Future attempts: “We’ve talked about this already, and the discussion is frankly boring. How about (newtopic)?
      “So you’ve mentioned. In other news (newtopic).”

      Another thing that I’ve been really successful with is metaphor. To pull a random one out for this occasion…I don’t know if you ever had to sit in one of those plastic chairs held together with metal screws or rivets or whatever, about midway down the back on the front. I have, and had long hair at the time. It was a painful experience. Yes. Long hair (your body as is, whatever) is beautiful! But just because you think long hair is pretty doesn’t mean I should get my hair pulled out every time I go to class. Just because you say I should be happy with myself the way I am (weight wise) does not mean that I should have to experience broken bones or arthritis.

      Good luck with your weight loss!

    16. Girasol*

      Perhaps they’re putting themselves in your shoes a little inaccurately. What if my doctor said “lose weight” when I was only 25 lbs overweight? Maybe I would come home and say “I’m supposed to go on a diet” and hope that all my friends rally ’round and say, “That’s ridiculous. You’re fine the way you are. Stupid doctor.” And then I would feel better about myself and I wouldn’t have to diet after all. Perhaps your friends mean well but are imagining incorrectly that you were hoping for that kind of support.

  6. Yet another Allison*

    I loved A Woman of Independent Means, and I had the paperback with Sally Field on the cover, from the TV miniseries adaptation. I had forgotten all about both, and it might be time to re-read the book and watch the miniseries. Like you, Alison, I haven’t read it since I was a teenager.

    1. Searching*

      One of my favorite books too, which I have re-read from time to time over the years. I think I still have it in the basement somewhere, and I bought the Kindle version too a while back when it was on their Daily Deal. I didn’t realize they had made a TV miniseries of it. Not sure I want to watch it, since screen/tv adaptations of books that I’ve loved so rarely live up to my expectations – although I do love Sally Field!

  7. Mazzy*

    I can’t wait to binge read the past few open thread Fridays. I’ve been missing AAM because work has been too busy and I have been pretty visible lately so don’t have time to hide away during the work day and open the site. And I miss the real world stories from Fridays!

  8. RKB*

    This is somewhat school related but more fashion- I just got a research assistant placement at my university. Mostly data collection. What should I be wearing? Are jeans ok for RAs? Or should I be more business casual especially at our weekly meetings?

    1. Blueismyfavorite*

      What do the other RAs wear? Dark-wash jeans without holes and business casual tops are probably OK but you should see what others in your position wear.

    2. Sir Alanna Trebond*

      Data collection, like in a lab? If so, you could probably get away with sweat pants, tbh.

      1. TL -*

        What I wore to work on Thursday :)

        Jeans and a shirt that is not holey or inappropriate (words or image wise) to slacks and a button up are the range for most labs. If it’s a wet lab, you can be a little more casual; a dry lab, I’d err a little nicer – jeans and a button up or nicer blouse.

    3. Southern Ladybug*

      Just ask the person who hired you. I hire students as GAs and interns. I just started automatically telling them the expectations, but it’s totally appropriate to ask! I never mind answering that type of question. After the first day it’s usually related to specific events etc – I try to give extra guidance if we are having an event, expect visitors to the office, or if it’s a “we have to clean out the storage area and you will help” day.

    4. Sutemi*

      Depends on what kind of lab you are working in, but be aware of what kind of dress code is needed for safety purposes as well. Heavy cotton pants (jeans!) tend to be protective against many safety hazards. You will probably need shoes that are full foot coverage and comfortable to stand in for hours. No dangling scarves or necklaces, long hair tied back.

  9. anoncmntr*

    Hi all! I’m new here so I hope this isn’t uncool to ask for advice when I haven’t been around long. My husband and I are taking a one-week vacation to England at the end ofor the month (spontaneously tacked into a work trip, hence the timing). We’re planning to mostly be in/around London, maybe a day trip to Cambridge. Any recommendations? Places to stay that are nice (it happens to be a big anniversary) that won’t break the bank? Good shows to see, or places to check reviews so we can decide ourselves? Restaurants not to be missed? Favorite museums? Etc etc.

    Thank you so much for any tips!

    1. Alice*

      It’s been years, so check the recent reviews, but the Penn Club in Russell Square is very reasonable and comfortable. Not luxorious, but if you want to put your money towards shows or meals to celebrate the anniversary (btw congrats), it’s a perfectly serviceable place, with good breakfasts too.

    2. Sarah G.*

      Not uncool at all, that’s what the open threads are for!
      My brother was just telling me about touring Winston Churchill’s underground headquarters, which I guess were not open to the public until relatively recently. He said it was incredible, that many artifacts were left untouched from when they hurriedly evacuated.
      I’m not much of a history buff, but after hearing his description, this is definitely top on my “don’t miss” list when/if I’m next in London.

        1. the gold digger*

          Tripling. And also, the Imperial War Museum. One of the historians there is a consultant for Foyle’s War. Even if you are not a history buff, I think you will like the War museum.

          1. Lemon Zinger*

            Foyle’s War is one of my all-time favorites! Must remember to visit the Imperial War Museum if I ever get to England.

          2. SophieChotek*

            Yep my favorites are the Imperial War Museum (go there each time I go to London) and the National Army Museum (in Chelsea). There is definitely overlap between the two but there are different things too, so I’ve gone to both several times.

            I also like (if it is still open) the Old Operating Theater — which has medical history.

      1. anoncmntr*

        Ah, that sounds amazing! And my husband will absolutely love it — he owns I think every Churchill biography that’s been printed. Cheers!

        1. Visited London last spring*

          In that case, going to the Churchill War Rooms is imperative. This is the underground bunker from which Churchill directed the war, and it’s a fascinating historical site full of stuff. Then as you go through it, at one point it branches into a sort of side museum that’s all about Churchill himself and his entire life and career, and there’s enough of that to have been a stand-alone museum unto itself. We spent several hours and wished we had had more time, and that’s without especially being Churchill freaks. Go here for sure and try to allow as much time as you can spare, or schedule such that you can choose to spend more time if you want (like go first thing when they open, and then once you’re there, you can choose to spend the day, or just spend a few hours and go do something else for the afternoon).

    3. Elkay*

      What sort of thing do you like? The National Portrait Gallery is my favourite museum in London. The London Eye is worth doing on a clear day.

      In Cambridge King’s College Chapel is worth a visit. Don’t ask where the university is in Cambridge, there is no central building it’s a series of colleges and department buildings all over the city.

      I’ll have a think about restaurants.

      1. anoncmntr*

        Good question! Well, I promised my husband that he, at least, could do the Eye (I have an irrational fear of Ferris wheels). I love art museums, and actually worked for years in natural history museums (I’m a biologist) so we’re looking forward to the Nat. Hist. Museum. So we’ll add the National Portrait Gallery to our list, and any others you recommend! I know very little about art, but my favorite periods are probably medieval and impressionism, if that informs your recs at all :)

        King’s College Chapel, excellent!

        Thank you so much for your thoughts!

        1. Cordelia Longfellow*

          The Victoria and Albert museum is right next door to the Natural History Museum, and the pair make a great day trip. The V&A is my favourite museum in London; it’s got fashion, textiles, furniture, sculpture and more. Be sure to check out the gorgeous rooms in the cafe (their scones with clotted cream and jam are delicious), and their fantastic gift shop.

          For theatre, https://www.londontheatre.co.uk is a great resource. If you want to see a musical, there are a bunch of great long-running shows: Les Miserables, The Lion King, Phantom of the Opera, Book of Mormon. For straight plays, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime is great, and the RSC is currently staging Much Ado About Nothing. The Woman in Black is fun if you like a good scare, and there’s a ton of other stuff that you can browse on the London Theatre website.

          If you do the Eye (or even if you don’t), I love walking along the South Bank. You’ll get to see the iconic London skylines of the north bank; if you start from the Eye and head west, you’ll see street performers and the second-hand book market, and you’ll end up at the Tate Modern museum and Shakespeare’s Globe. Even if you don’t properly visit the Tate Modern, poke your head into the Turbine Hall – it’s a massive exhibition space that usually has cool art installations. From the Globe/Tate you can also walk across the Millenium Bridge to St Paul’s cathedral.

          The Camden Town Market is also a ton of fun for browsing or shopping for anything you could imagine at dozens of tiny market stalls. There is so much to see and do in London that you’ll only be able to scratch the surface, but that’s okay. Buy a pay-as-you-go Oyster card for public transit as the cheapest option and have fun!

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Ooh, yes Camden Market!
            FYI the public toilet in the building near the London Eye (where you get tickets, etc.) is free. Or it was–as of April 2015. Also, Royal Albert Hall is not far from V&A if you want to take a look at it.

    4. TeaLady*

      Favourite museums in London:
      Victoria and Albert
      British Museum
      Science Museum
      Sir John Soane’s House
      Maritime Museum at Greenwich (combine with a river ferry trip – not overly expensive and way more fun than the Tube)
      Tate Modern – I could sit in the Rothko room for hours
      (most of these are free entry, although there may be a charge for a particular exhibition. But you could spend all day in the free bits of most of those)

      I live fairly near Cambridge, and my favourite spot is The Polar Museum, but then I’m fascinated by Arctic and Antarctic Exploration. The Fitzwilliam is excellent too, and there’s several smaller museums as well. There’s a lot of cyclists in and around Cambridge – I find it a little disconcerting.

      Have a lovely trip (but bring waterproofs)

      1. Elkay*

        Agree on The Scott Polar Museum, it’s very interesting and free I think. The Fitzwilliam is definitely free.

    5. TheLazyB*

      Depending on where you’re staying/what food you like, I would recommend Cyprus Mangal in Pimlico. Looks really unassuming from the outside but is lovely inside, food delish and big portions, and not too expensive for its location.

      I stay overnight in London sometimes and found it on my last trip. Mentioned it to a London-based colleague who arranged a meal there for her team. Apparently that was also fab.

    6. Elkay*

      Restaurant recommendations (none are fancy):
      London – http://www.wahaca.co.uk/menu/food/ – Mexican style tapas run by a Masterchef winner, I prefer the one on Chandos Place but the one in Soho is nice too. I’m not a fan of the one on the South Bank in the cold weather.

      Cambridge – there are two independent restaurant groups in the city that run a few places
      City Pub Company:
      The Mill – http://www.themillpubcambridge.com/
      The Brew House – http://www.thecambridgebrewhouse.com/
      The Old Bicycle Shop – http://www.oldbicycleshop.com/
      Cambs Cuisine:
      http://www.cambscuisine.com, the ones in Cambridge city are Smokeworks, Millworks, The Cambridge Chop House and The St John’s Chop House ( The Chop House has nicer views than the St John’s Chop House).

      1. Bonky*

        You missed out what’s probably the best place to eat in Cambridge (and it’s wonderfully English – in a good way): The Pint Shop. http://pintshop.co.uk/ – it’s independent (they’ve just opened a second branch in Oxford), and it’s outstandingly good. There are usually about 20 unusual beers on tap, and there’s a great, very seasonal menu of traditional pub favourites, charcoal-grilled meats and fish, and some very good dry aged steaks.

        1. Short and Stout*

          Another Cambridge resident here. I really don’t like Pint Shop as I think the cocktails are not good. Each to their own, I suppose. I would especially warn that it is not a traditonal English pub.

          My favourite pub is The Hopbine, which is close to Midsummer Common and Jesus Green, perhaps a little out of the way especially if you’re only on a day trip.

          You will probably not avoid harassment by touts selling punting tickets. I think the best thing to arrange punting is just to go straight to Tourist Info in Market Square and book it from there. It is expensive (more than £20 I think, though I guess the exchange rate is favourable just now), but a punt tour of The Backs really is the quintessential Cambridge experience and you can’t see what you see from the river by land.

      2. Heaven*

        Wahaca! My goodness, thank you! A friend and I stumbled across the Soho location when I went down to visit him last year and it’s been driving me mad that I wanted to recommend it to people but couldn’t remember the name other than that it started with W.

        Bookmarking that to save frustration in the future! And yes, this level of enthusiasm over re-discovering this restaurant is a definite vote in its favour. Absolutely the best Mexican food I’ve ever eaten, and the price (my friend and I had drinks and a big spread of tapas for about £30) was brilliant for anywhere, but remarkably cheap for London, where the night before I’d paid £5 for a tiny glass of terrible red wine in an equally terrible bar.

    7. Thursday Next*

      I really liked the Tower of London. The enterance fee is a little pricey but worth it (when I visited London as a broke study abroad student the tower was the one thing I paid to see and I was very happy with my decision). There are free tours inside led by the guards that are really good. It helps if you are interested in English history but since it was a prison you hear about the interesting bits.

      1. Red Reader*

        The tours by the Beefeaters are amazing. Even aside from the history, they’re fascinating — they all live onsite, and my guide didn’t bat an eyelash when I asked him about how they order a pizza. I was just imagining, “delivery address? Tower of London? Hah, sure, right, *click*” he said that was about right the first few times they tried a new place, but they have some standard go-tos who know them. The really difficult one was when he tried to have a washing machine delivered – it took weeks and his wife was livid. And his delivery on the story just slayed me.

        1. Marche*


          The Beefeaters are amazing! Just make sure to check the weather if and when you go, because if it rains they have to stop the tour. When I was there he kept going for a minute but the rain got heavier and he had to stop.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          I freaking love the Tower of London. This is hilarious.
          I got to see the poppies in the moat in 2014; I chose not to do the tour as I’d already been, but I might do it again next time. I’d love to do a ghost tour because it’s haunted as hell.

    8. Puffle*

      Selwyn College in Cambridge is really nice, especially the chapel and gardens. It’s a little further outside of the centre than the other colleges, but worth visiting if you get the chance.

      My other piece of advice is to get a pay-as-you-go Oyster card for London- you get discounted fares that way. I think that you can top up your Oyster card online or with an app, which might be worth doing- there are sometimes reeallly long queues to use the top-up machines at the stations, although since it’ll be off-peak season you might okay.

      Also, regular London buses don’t accept cash, you can only pay by Oyster card (as I learned to my cost…), although I’m sure tour buses will take cash. You can also use a contactless card instead of an Oyster card.

      I hope you and your husband have a great time!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        You can get an Oyster card at many newsagents (like a small shop that sells papers, cigarettes, candy, etc.) when you get there. No need to do it ahead of time.

        Also, just use Google on your phone to look up bus routes, etc. Everybody stands around looking at their phone so you won’t look quite so “touristy.”

    9. Bonky*

      I live in Cambridge. Do come here – it’s absolutely beautiful, and you’ll have a great time. The train station is about half an hour’s walk through the least attractive part of town to the beautiful historical buildings in the centre, so it’s worth grabbing a taxi when you get to the station to the town centre.

      Start at Trinity Street, and do a tour of at least one of either St John’s College or Trinity College (honestly, I’d do both; they’re glorious). Grab local guides at Heffers book shop, across the road from the entrances to both colleges. St John’s has the finest Tudor courtyard that’s still in use for its original purpose in the country, and it’s my favourite place in the city. (I studied there and got married in the chapel, but I’m not that biased.) Trinity has some beautiful architecture as well; get someone to point out the room Byron lived in with his pet bear, check out the Chariots of Fire quadrangle, and the Christopher Wren library, which is built over a collonade in case of floods.

      You’ll see a little apple tree outside Trinity’s front gate. It’s grown from a cutting of the tree that Isaac Newton found inspiration from.

      A few hundred yards away, on King’s Parade, is King’s College – that’s the one with the very famous chapel building. Worth a tour too.

      When you’re done with all that, grab a punt tour from Scudamore’s up by the quayside, or from one of the independent outfits. https://www.saveindependentpunting.co.uk/alternatives.html

      London hotels: if you’re after something really special and a bit unusual, check out Hazlitt’s. https://www.hazlittshotel.com/ It’s a Georgian building in Soho (so very, very central and convenient) which has been turned into a boutique hotel, but it retains all the Georgian features. It’s like sleeping in a museum, and it’s my absolute favourite place to stay in the city. There’s no gym, pool or restaurant – but you’re in the middle of theatreland with a million great restaurants, and they do a fantastic breakfast in bed.

      You’ll know about all the regular London museums, but if you want to get off the beaten track to somewhere very special, try Sir John Soane’s Museum, which is downright extraordinary (try a Google Image Search to see what I mean!)

    10. Bonky*

      Oh – and while I think about it, you MUST go to Westminster Abbey. There’s an entrance fee, but it’s a simply extraordinary place. You’ll be walking around 1000 years of history, royal tombs from Edward the Confessor onwards (Elizabeth I’s tomb is particularly moving; it’s next to Mary Queen of Scots), and some of the most beautiful architecture in the country. The Henry VII chapel will make your heart sing. And if you’re lucky, you might coincide with the choir practicing.

      1. Thursday Next*

        You can go during a church service for free! I went during a midmorning ~1h choral service, so it was church but pretty light and I heard the boys choir sing, so I considered it a free choral concert with a bit of religion thrown in. Downside is you can’t wander around, but when I went I was a little over with historical sites (end of study abroad semester in Europe) so I was happy to sit for an hour and listen to good choir music and see a bit of Westminster.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I got to do this at St. Paul’s–they had a service on St. George’s Day and I happened to be right inside at the moment. Lovely choir, and I sat almost under the dome and snuck a very cool picture. :)

    11. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I scrolled through the results and lots of good stuff posted. We just went today to see the Maps of the 20th Century show at the British Library (other half is is a cartography/visual data nerd) and it was a lot bigger and more extensive a place than we thought. That show was ticketed, but you can see the exhibits where they keep the really rare stuff ( a Gutenberg Bible, the Magna Carta, Handel’s Messiah written in his hand etc) for free. It is conveniently located near the Wellcome Collection which is also free and tends to have weird stuff on (current exhibit is on the Bedlam asylum. I have also seen shrunken heads and strange anthropological stuff there)

      A walk along the South Bank from Waterloo to London Bridge you will see all sorts of things. From the plaza around the Southbank Centre (check inside usually there is something going on over the weekends), little shops tucked away, good views across the river. Then you hit the Tate Modern with its huge new Annex (they have a lot of free exhibits as well), Shakespeares Globe, and then under Southwark Bridge you get to Borough Market. Lots of nooks and crannies in there to check out. You could also walk across the Millenium Bridge at the Tate to St Pauls. As you approach the St Paul side look down into the grates of the bridge – there is an artist who paints the gum wads that have been squished into some really neat patterns and miniature paintings.

      Nice hotel that won’t break the bank is relative in this city! :) Maybe check out some boutique hotels although with it being January and the GBP being so weak you may be able to score a good deal on a fancy place. Don’t expect a lot of space though!

      Food – some people swear by the Duck and Waffle, which is at the top of a tower, but I can’t tell you which one since my internet connection seems to have packed it in. I’ve also gone up to the Sky Garden in the walkie talkie a number of times for their Sunday yoga class and you can get a pretty good brunch (with amazing views) for a moderately inflated sum. Oxo Tower is pretty much a classic if you want a classy meal. I would recommend if you do research and find a restaurant that you really want to eat at and it seems popular, to book a table in advance. Also — don’t expect service to be stellar, just go with the flow.

      Shows – Depends on what you like to see, there are all sorts. A friend and I are going to see Buried Child with Ed Harris next month – that is playing at the very tiny Trafalgar Studios through mid Feb (if you care to watch a depressing 3 hour play about the collapse of the American farm! :P) If you are here during a Tuesday grab a copy of Time Out which is handed out free. Best place to get tickets – I think I booked through atgtickets but Im not sure – just be aware of a broker that tacks on like a £14 service charge on a ticket.

      I would suggest pacing yourself and picking one or two things a day and otherwise just wandering around the general areas to see different things. Lots of nooks and crannies all over the place here :) You are lucky to be traveling at a time with such a good rate

    12. Marillenbaum*

      Restaurant recommendation: Kipferl, in Islington, does incredible Austrian food–including desserts, and have an excellent collection of wines and schnapps.

    13. Elizabeth West*

      If you’re staying in Central London, it’s fairly easy to get to everything. I recommend really good walking shoes, because London is very walkable and your feet will fall off, LOL. You can also pick up a small tube map pamphlet at most stations. My favorites:

      –The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square; they have a ton of Van Gogh (squee!).

      –Eat lunch at Cafe in the Crypt inside St. Martin-in-the-Fields church, also Trafalgar Square. Cafeteria style and you might have to share a table, but it’s fun to eat in a crypt. Only live bodies, no dead ones. ;)

      –Fortnum & Mason, Piccadilly. If you want, you can get off the tube at Oxford Street and walk to New Bond Street (Bond Street Station is closest). Follow New Bond Street and Old Bond Street all the way to Piccadilly, past all the really expensive stores. It’s fun. I have to do this every single time I go, heh heh.) Great for tea and fancies and not as expensive or pretentious as Harrods. Try the Parlor ice cream shop upstairs and check out the grocery downstairs. Bring me back some macarons, ahaha!
      Plus, Hatchards is right next door. It’s one of the oldest bookshops in London and is very nice.

      –If you’re anywhere near King’s Cross Station, walk up to Granary Square and visit Word on the Water!!! It’s a secondhand bookshop in a 100-year-old barge. A good selection of books, and they are very nice and sometimes have music. In bad weather they’re sometimes closed, but you can check on Twitter and Facebook.

      –Also near King’s Cross: The British Library, one of the largest research libraries in the world, has a Treasures collection and it’s free. Come out of King’s Cross at the southeast end; the big street in front of you is Euston Road. Turn right and walk past St. Pancras International station (it’s the huge Victorian building next to King’s Cross). Keep walking past the giant fancy hotel. It’s on your right–you’ll see a massive sprawling brick building in a courtyard that contains a statue of a huge crouching figure.

      –You probably won’t get this far out, but in Richmond-upon-Thames, Surrey, you can go to Ham House,a 17th-century manor home full of all kinds of neat art and furniture. Said to be one of Britain’s most haunted houses. Very cool. Take the slow-ass District line tube to Richmond Station (change at Turnham Green) and then grab a bus (65 or 371) out front. Directions here: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ham-house-and-garden.

      –If you do go to Greenwich, not far from the Maritime Museum and Greenwich Park, you’ll find the Cutty Sark, a Victorian-era clipper ship that carried tea and wool. It’s in drydock and is a museum now. Also check out Goddard’s Pie and Mash–it’s very near the museum. They serve authentic pie and mash and liquor (this is meat pie with mashed potatoes and a green parsley gravy–the “liquor”), a traditional East End dish (you can also get regular gravy). Plus, they are cheap because most of their customers live in the neighborhood–they don’t want to raise prices for tourists. SO GOOD. Here is a picture: http://i.imgur.com/qxavUYP.jpg. TRUST ME IT’S AMAZING. You can skip the jellied eels, LOL. And Greenwich Market is not far away!

      –Check TripAdvisor for recommendations also. :)

      #sosojelly :)

  10. anon today*

    I’ve seen good discussions on these open threads about how to make new friends, and even some dating discussions, but I’m hoping for slightly different advice.
    I know that I should be making new friends, developing a larger social circle, and finding a partner – but I don’t actually want to. I’m perfectly happy coming home and reading or playing musical instead of going out and about with people. I don’t mind going by myself to concerts, restaurants, sporting events – even if people typically go with others.
    I know intellectually that a vibrant suppor network is important. But how can I motivate myself to build one when I’m happy (and lazy) on my own?

    1. nep*

      Where does it come from — the thought that you *should* be doing those things? If you are happy and at peace living as you are, isn’t that what counts? (I can relate, as I am far more content doing things on my own, including reading, practicing a musical instrument…than spending time w others.)

      1. anon today*

        You three must be saying “great minds think alike”….

        I guess the proximate cause for bringing it up was a WaPo article about – don’t laugh – how hard it is for some lonely, elderly people to find someone to pick them up after a colonoscopy. But I’m also familiar with research showing that people with stronger social networks live longer and suffer from dementia later than loners.

        On the plus side, I count my lucky stars that my family doesn’t nag about significant others/kids. :)

        1. animaniactoo*

          I talked about the first case below, on the latter case, a large part of it is intellectual stimulation that can only be found via conversation. Some of that can be found via internet relationships, but some of it there’s no in-person substitute for. However, if you’re forcing yourself to do something you don’t really want to do, you’re not having a quality of life that you’re really enjoying to get to the part where you’re living longer and delaying dementia by (on average I think) 3 or 4 years. In a lifetime, what is 3 or 4 years compared to all the years before that you are less happy than you might otherwise be?

          This is not to say that you shouldn’t look for opportunities as they arise and act on them when interest truly strikes you. Just that you shouldn’t torture yourself too much about *not* feeling the motivation to do it.

        2. Jen RO*

          I kinda know what you mean. I don’t want kids and my boyfriend is 10 years older than me, so I sometimes wonder what will happen to me when I’m older since I don’t have any ‘best’ friends close by… but I decided that I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

          Even so… while I’ve taken it easy over the past few years, without *trying* to make friends, it happened nevertheless. I got closer with some people at work and, even though we are not super close and we don’t see each other all the time (we don’t work together anymore), we keep in touch. I haven’t asked any of them to drive me home from a colonoscopy, but I am fairly sure they would!

          I don’t know how much sense this made… but TL;DR sometimes it’s easier to just relax and let friendships happen.

        3. nep*

          I guess I’d say — no need to follow any ‘formula’ for how or where you land upon companionship or human contact/help when you need it, or where it might be needed for balance. Enjoy what’s working for you as far as how you spend your time, and let the rest take care of itself.

        4. neverjaunty*

          But that research doesn’t mean “therefore, every person INCLUDING you should increase size of their social network and find a partner or else they’re risking early death and dementia”.

          Setting aside the whole issue of correlation vs. causation (and man, is that a HUGE setting-aside), there’s a difference between a large social network and a strong one, and if you don’t want a partner and tons of friends, then you plan ahead for what would happen if you got sick or when you become older. Which, frankly, is something that people with children and partners and strong social networks should do too.

        5. Natalie*

          If it will ease your mind a bit, you could always plan for living in a senior community as your plan b. Many of my grandparents did (10 grandparents from a blended family) and they had lots of social contact with other residents if they wanted it.

          1. Girasol*

            I’m newly retired and have aging parents in a senior living community. Those places are wonderful! But I’m starting to realize that it’s not the whole answer. You have to keep your friendship muscles toned. If everyone here answers my last comment with “no, no, no, you idiot!” I can say, “they just don’t understand me!” and ghost. If a face-to-face friend says it I have to work through the emotional and communicative difficulty of reaching common ground again. It’s that sort of problem solving, researchers say, that keeps minds young. Of course, if you’re not retired, you get lots of that at work. What you could be losing out on, I’m discovering, is practice in making new friends on the outside, so that when you retire you can form a relationship with someone who will call you an idiot once in awhile for your own good and still pick you up after that colonoscopy. Having “kids your own age” nearby facilitates friendships but doesn’t make them.

    2. animaniactoo*

      The reason that people build such networks is for something they’re missing – usually companionship. Sometimes people end up in a situation where they *need* some form of help that is most easily supplied by a support network and realize how difficult the situation is without one.

      But there are different ways to build support networks – most people enjoy being around other people and doing things and building it via a friendship. Don’t get locked into the picture that this is the way you need to build a support network. Think about how you can manage when you need help and are not in a position to be able to do things yourself. Find those resources now so that you have them ready when you might need them. That might look like anything from researching what cab companies in your area are relatively reliable and have rates you can live with if your car breaks down and you don’t have time to get a rental before going to work, to knowing how to arrange for a paid companion if you need to have outpatient surgery that they won’t let you leave unaccompanied (or what could be outpatient has to be inpatient if you didn’t have anybody available to help for the next 24 hourse, etc.). It’s perfectly fine for your support network to be “paid” resources or acquaintances that you sometimes trade favors with.

      One thing my godmother is setting up for herself now is regular help that comes by about once every other week for the few things she struggles to do herself (put something up in a high place, get it down, get under something, etc.) and setting it up so that this is a teenager or college age student who gets paid a small amount to do 15-20 minutes worth of stuff, with the idea that as she needs to rely on such help more, it can increase and she may need to switch who is helping her, but that the relationship and the idea of the kind of help is established and in place for when she needs it.

      1. a different Vicki*

        My mother has someone who comes in I think once a week for a few hours to help with that sort of thing, and with setting up computer stuff for her, and the organization she found this person through could provide more help if needed. Mom has a good social network, but many of her local friends and relatives are also in their seventies and eighties, and have slowed down some.

    3. anoncmntr*

      Your life sounds wonderful. Now that I’m married and have a kid, there are times I absolutely physically ache for that solo life, so I understand completely how fulfilling and rewarding an independent life can be.

      I do agree, however, that there are distinct, logistical benefits to being part of a network. I’ve done that thing where you have to ask your boss to pick you up from a colonoscopy (I was a 30-year old woman, my boss a 60-year old man, it was awkward as all get out) and I don’t want that for you!

      I think some advice that I’ve picked up from Carolyn Hax might be applicable here — when you go to your sporting events, concerts, restaurants, etc., strike up conversations with other patrons. A casual chat about the very event you’re at is an easy way to start. You probably won’t make new best friends from this (and I know you don’t necessarily want to anyway) but you might start to see the same folks at different events, you can start to make casual plans (“See you next month at the Feb symphony concert!”), and from there you may find yourself with easy, casual friends. I guess the idea would be to make friends with the people that are at/doing the things you’re *already* at/doing, and see where it goes from there.

      And I know that if a casual friend asked for help getting home from a colonoscopy, at any age, I would happily agree without thinking twice :)

      1. anon today*

        TBH my life is pretty wonderful :) – rewarding career, material comforts (enough that animaniactoo’s advice about a paid support network for logistics is very feasible), and honestly I enjoy my life.
        That definitely includes the casual friendships you mention, anoncmntr – I even ended up going to the wedding of a couple I met at a baseball game! Another way I’m lucky is that, even if I’m an introvert, I don’t have any social anxiety. If there’s a reason to go to a cocktail party, no problem, and I’ll enjoy myself to a point – I just will enjoy myself more once I’m sitting on the sofa with my dog and my book.

    4. Elizabeth H.*

      I naturally like to do a lot of things by myself but I find it a pretty difficult balance for when you do get lonely. It can be hard to always be able to spend time with another person/people when you feel the need while not doing that all the time. I feel like it is usually skewed one way or the other (constant social contact or not enough social contact). I’m an introvert but I really love social activities and parties and get lonely pretty easily so it’s a difficult balance for me. I don’t have advice, just to say that I think it’s worth trying to develop some regular social things if you do think you would get lonely at some point.

      1. anon today*

        Thanks everyone for the thoughtful discussion!
        Some of the social things I do are, well, not that social, which works well for me and maybe would for you, Elizabeth. Chamber musicians and choral groups, for example – a little bit of chatting but mostly focused practising. That’s my sweet spot.

    5. INTP*

      No tips here, just chiming in to say that I strongly relate. I need a lot of alone time, so on a day-to-day basis I’m unmotivated to try to make friends. I very rarely have spare time that I wish I could spend with people – on a typical full-time-working week, I pretty much want all the spare time I have as unstructured alone time, or if I have extra time and want to be social, I’d rather do something related to an interest of mine like take a class or go to a language group than socialize just to socialize. I really don’t want to put in the time necessary to sustain friendships. But I also know that a support network of some sort is important, and that at some point I’ll need to socialize more than I care for to build one.

      For the people above asking why someone would feel a “should” in this situation…I don’t think it’s necessarily about feeling like you need to socialize regularly and have friends just because it’s the normal thing to do. It’s that there are situations in life where you do need a support network, and when those things happen, it’s too late to go build one. Anything from an emotional crisis where you need someone to speak to (and it’s too personal to speak to a loose acquaintance about) to needing someone to pick you up from surgery. For real examples, I recently needed a personal reference for an apartment app and had no one I wasn’t related to I could ask. I also realized recently that I’m going to need a wisdom tooth removed soon…and I’m moving out of state in a week and there will be no one to pick me up. (I also wouldn’t have anyone here if it weren’t for family members.) I don’t think a network has to be specifically friendships, it could also be some combination of family members, an SO, membership in a church or similar where the members support each other, etc., but most people will eventually need a network.

    6. Harriet*

      I am very often perfectly happy on my own, though I do think I have more of a need for social contact than you and I do need friends to spend time with (before coming home and chilling out with the cats).

      But what I came here to say was that one of the nice side effects of getting involved in a volunteer cause I feel strongly about and am committed to is that it has also resulted in a great support network and feeling part of a community – so that might be something to consider, if you can find an activity you would be doing anyway and the network would be a welcome addition rather than the sole point?

    7. AliceBD*

      My social support network is 100% from church*. Sometimes I think about meeting friends my age (my church friends are mostly my mom’s age or older) but like you if I want to go out to eat or see a play or something I’m happy to do it on my own. So no real advice, but some commiseration.

      *I say church, but you don’t have to be Christian. Other regularly-attended religious groups would work as well, or those atheist groups that get together weekly that some of my friends are in whose name I forget.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I think there is a perception that everyone needs lots of friends. It could be due to all those adverts featuring a big group of (photogenic) people doing various activities.

        Where I live is not one of those places where it is easy to make friends, as there are always people coming and going. In addition, most people are in couples and I often get the impression that a solo person is tolerated only.

    8. Persephone Mulberry*

      If you’ve got wedding and cocktail party invitations and a routine group activity, I’d say your social circle is doing just fine. :)

      Being able to afford paid help in the event of a medical dustup is all well and good, but these types of events take an emotional toll as well, and there’s a difference, I think, between being introverted by choice and being homebound by circimstance, and the latter can be very isolating in a way that catches naturally introverted people off guard sometimes. Even having a casual social network like yours is valuable, because the day may come when you call on it, and you will be surprised at who comes out of the woodwork. :)

    9. Marillenbaum*

      Perhaps do those things, but be quite picky about whom you invite into your life. I, too, tend to be quite happy doing things on my own, but building that support network has been a defensive thing because I want to have people who can look after me when I need it (like when I have a medical procedure, or am too sick to go to the store). There’s nothing wrong with enjoying your own company, and nothing says you have to have a large social circle, but you can do that and keep an ear to the ground for the sort of people you’d like to have in your life.

  11. Cath in Canada*

    My resolution to pick up my poor neglected classical guitar again after many years is going well so far! I spent most of Jan 1st treating the wood, restringing, and retuning, then I started playing some of my easier old favourites the next day. The first session was pretty disheartening, but since then I’ve picked up the basics again faster than I’d hoped (I was seriously wondering if I’d even remember how to read music) – hooray for muscle memory and all those drills my old teachers put me through! My fingers hurt like hell though – I need to build those calluses back up. I’ve ordered some new music and have decided that playing for about 20 minutes every Saturday and Sunday plus two weekday evenings a week is a sensible goal.

    1. Bonky*

      Oh good – I’ve been wondering how you were getting on! It *is* surprising how fast it comes back, isn’t it!

      When I took up the piano after an unconscionable gap, I found frequency of practice was more important than length of practice. (Although frankly, I was having so much fun that the sessions often went on for hours – they still do, tbh.) Keep having fun – and keep letting us know how you’re progressing!

      Tangent: my mother played the classical guitar. One of my earliest memories is sneaking out of bed and sitting my my cracked-open bedroom door to listen to her play the Bach lute suites. It’s a beautiful instrument: I hope it’s giving you a lot of joy.

  12. FDCA In Canada*

    My husband and I had to put down our tortie kitty at the beginning of this week. She’d been fairly sick for a couple of months now and steadily declining, and it was horrible and gut-wrenching but at least now she isn’t in pain any longer. Oddly enough, her sister has actually been more chill and relaxed since then–we were worried as they’re littermates and have never been apart in their whole lives, but our remaining cat has been much more calm. I think we’ll hold off on getting her a friend for quite a while, though, at least until we stop missing our tortie quite so much.

    1. nep*

      I don’t know much about cat ‘psychology’, but perhaps the sister was experiencing tension, feeling that the cat was ill and suffering?
      Sorry for your loss.

      1. FDCA In Canada*

        That’s what we’ve been kind of idly wondering. Even at her best our tortie was a high-strung, needy, noisy, active cat and her sister is very chill and quiet, so I’m wondering if the recent tension from the past couple months giving way to quiet is actually a relief for her. Poor girl.

    2. Sibley*

      So sorry about your tortie :(

      Re the other cat – you really don’t know how cats will react to being separated until they are. Give everyone plenty of time to grieve, and then let her tell you if she wants a friend.

    3. Rahera*

      Oh, I’m so sorry about your cat. It’s never easy but you clearly took great care of her. I’m really glad her sister is doing ok.

    4. Bonky*

      I am so sorry. It’s unimaginably awful when that happens. I hope you and your husband are doing OK.

    5. Lima Joe Coo*

      So sorry for your loss. As for getting another cat, you’ll know when it’s time. Many years ago, my oldest cat died. A few months later, we adopted 2 kittens, also littermates. We didn’t go out with the idea of getting another cat, but when we were picking up food at the pet store they were having an adoption fair. One thing led to another and we eventually brought home the kittens. The other cat was not happy, but she did at least accept them. And I know that her quality of life was better for it.

    6. Rubbery Dubbery Smiles*

      So sorry for your loss! Losing a pet is so hard.

      I had two littermates once, and the dominant cat died suddenly from a blood clot that lodged in his spine when they were 8 or 9. The female spent a few days grieving, but then seemed calmer and happier than she’d ever been. It turned out that she just liked being an only cat. (YMMV, of course.)

      1. myswtghst*

        We had a very similar situation – the cat who passed first was always a bit bossy with her sister, so the surviving cat seemed more relaxed after she got over the initial weirdness of her littermate not being around, and was a pretty content only cat for the rest of her time with us.

        FDCA In Canada – I am so sorry for your loss, and am wishing you and your family the best.

    7. Mreasy*

      I’m so sorry. My tortie was my best friend and I lost her in November. They’re such wonderful little ones!!! I’m sure you loved her well.

      1. Golden Lioness*

        Coming late to the party to say I am sorry for your loss too. kitties just crawl into your heart and it’s so hard to lose them. (((hugs)))

  13. Gene*

    I get to take part of Wednesday off to be home for the new range delivery and installation. The 25-year old Caloric has started to fail, so I looked at Consumer Reports ratings and headed off to Sears for a Kenmore. It was planned for replacement later this year when we get the kitchen done, this just moved up its schedule. I’m looking forward to it, but it makes me think of first wife and cooking with her.

    Wok cooking will be better with the high power burner and the convection oven will be good for baking.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Mine stove came with the house when we bought it 25 years ago. I estimated it was about 10-15 years old then. It’s still fine. The color is awful.

      2. Gene*

        We had to buy a new one when we had gas brought into the house. I was SO glad to get rid of that electric range… I’ve been happy with the Caloric, here’s hoping the Kenmore lasts as long.

      3. chickabiddy*

        It’s funny — I know people who have ranges that are 25+ years old and people who have ranges that are 10 years old or less. It’s a pretty clear illustration of when it became cheaper to replace than repair (which can be looked at a lot of different ways). Last year I replaced a “harvest gold” range, which I assume was original to my house. I had been saying for many years that I would replace it as soon as it needed even the slightest repair, but that stubborn beast just kept on going.

      4. the gold digger*

        The older home mechanics appear to be so much better made than the new ones. I bought a reconditioned Kenmore in Miami in 1997 and left it in my Memphis house when I sold it in 2008. The original heater in my Memphis house – from 1922 – was still running when I moved, but we had to install a new heater in our house here to replace the one that was 11 years old. New appliances are crap. There are so many other ways I would rather spend $3,000.

      5. Elizabeth West*

        I have a huge Philco from the 1950s. It came with the house. Two burners are out, though (it’s electric), and I had a boil-over that blew the light in the oven. I need to find someone who can fix it.

    1. Bluebell*

      Our Kenmore stove from 1999 has gotten a little fussy, and needed a repair this month that cost $200. Still, I decided to keep it rather than go shopping for something new. It’s plain white, has one low and one high burner and I just don’t have dreams of a new one.

  14. Jess*

    How much is it ok to spend on yourself when you’re in debt?

    I have a lot of credit card debt. I pay off £400 per month and it is tough to manage that amount. But I also spend £100 each month on a gym membership and seperate pilates classes. I have some serious health problems, have tried many other options, but basically pilates with an experienced teacher (so not at the gym, which is more flat stomach oriented anyway) and regular swimming is the best way I’ve found to keep myself healthy and sane and not end up in hospital or in pain. I’ve looked into other gyms and classes and pools, and in the city I’m in this is as cheap as I can make it.

    But it seems like such a ridiculous amount of money to be spending when I’m in debt and pinching pennies, and I’m seriously conflicted by it. Especially when I have a week where I’m travelling for work or everything is going wrong, and I miss a few visits in a row. Has anyone been in this situation?

    1. A Signer*

      I haven’t been in this situation, but do what’s right for your body! Think of your gym membership as an investment. If you’re in pain or in the hospital, I’m sure that makes it hard to work to earn money to pay off your debt.

      1. Turtlewings*

        This. You need to be able to have fun somehow even when you’re buckling down on debt anyway, but in this case it’s even beyond that to a health concern, which is totally different. Since you’re talking about pounds, not dollars, I’m guessing that going to the hospital wouldn’t increase your debt the way it would mine–but it’s still worth significant money to keep yourself healthy.

        1. Jess*

          Thank you, and yes – I was in hospital a few times in 2016 and thanks to the NHS it didn’t cost me anything (other than what I pay in taxes), but the pilates is pretty much a straight choice between keeping up a regular practice or seeing a physio every 2-3 weeks to keep me moving and in less pain, which I do pay for myself (you can get physio on the NHS, but generally not with the hands-on manipulations I need).

          1. tigerStripes*

            You’ve got to take care of yourself, or it might be hard to get your work done. I think taking care of yourself has to be a priority.

    2. JHS*

      I think money spent on exercise and being well is money well spent no matter what. I am also with you that going to the place that specializes in what you want to do can be the only way to actually end up going (for me it’s spinning at a spin studio instead of a gym).

    3. Chriama*

      This is something that you’ve found works for you after years of trying other options. If you were in debt and considering a gym membership to get healthier I’d say wait. But this is something you know is important for your well-being. It would be like wondering if you should continue to pay for medication or something. I think you need to give yourself permission to consider this a necessity and look at other areas of your budget if you really want to cut it down.

    4. Dan*

      I think you need to take a more holistic view of your finances, not just this microcosm. I say this as someone who manages a lot of debt, lives in a high COL area, and does a lot of discretionary foreign travel (read: if I stay home, maybe I could pay off my debt faster).

      First things first, how much of that debt payment goes to interest? The classic “you’re screwed” situation is when that $400 (sorry, US here, don’t have the pound symbol easily accessible) is the minimum payment, it’s all you can afford, and $350 of it is going to interest. If that’s you, then I think you have some hard choices to make.

      However, if your interest rates are very low, then a vast majority of that payment is going to principle, so I think in that case you can relax a little. I’m not a “no debt” zealot like some personal finance people — if you can manage it, and it’s not costing you an arm and a leg, then so be it.

      Your health is worth something. Think about it this way (not sure how UK healthcare works, but…) if not going to the gym means you’re going to the hospital at some point, that’s a real expense that you will pay later. A quick google search indicates that in the US, a night in the hospital costs $2000 and that’s without any surgery. That’s a ridiculous amount of money to be spending when you’re in debt and can avoid it, no? So one way to look at it is your gym membership for 18 months is the same as one night in the hospital.

      The harsh reality is that if you’re struggling in ways that I mentioned in the opening paragraph, everything else is cut to the “bare minimum” (whatever that is) and you’re down to the point where this $100 is the only thing left to cut, then it almost doesn’t matter — you need to increase your cashflow or you will be in a constant struggle.

      If you do have high interest debt, how easy is it to get a lower rate, say through a balance transfer offer? I have about $14k on my credit cards, but they’re at 0% APR for 18 months. I do pay a 2%-4% fee every time I flip it, which is only $560 for the 18 month period. (Conversely, if my debt was at 18% APR, I’d be paying roughly $3800 for the same period. That kind of interest would motivate me to pay mine off much faster.)

      1. Jess*

        Thanks Dan – its all on decent interest rates because I do tend to swap round for balance transfer deals, and its been very manageable up until the last year where my health crashed, I was travelling a lot for work, and I stopped paying attention to what I was spending because I was exhausted and just trying to get through the day. It is at the stage where I really need to get a grip and take a look at what I’ve been spending – for instance, I was basically living off M&S food ( guess the US equivalent might be Whole Foods?) because they do ready meals that are healthy and had lots and lots of veggies and protein and fit in with some medical dietary needs, and I was too sick and exhausted to actually cut up vegetables and eat a healthy dinner otherwise. Everything is much more under control now, so I’m just looking at all the ways I’ve been living beyond my means over the past year and trying to get a grip.

    5. nep*

      Agree with the others — it’s a hell of a good investment to spend resources on what works to improve/maintain your health.

    6. Marcela*

      Not exactly the same situation, I was not poor, but barely making ends meet almost all my life with my parents. Some time I had to work to be able to pay for my university, something that is not very common in my country. Now I do have a good situation and a year ago I started doing pilates. The membership is expensive, a bit less of half what my parents get from their retirement plan (of course, different currency, different countries, it’s not like the comparison is 1:1, but still). Sometimes I feel very guilty, as if paying so much is ridiculous, and I am wasting money that could go towards my retirement money, which in my case is specially complicated since I don’t have any right to anything in my own country, nothing at all in the other country where I lived, and just whatever I can get from now, when I am 40, in the US.

      However, later I tell myself that doing pilates has been a great component in the mind change that helped me to lose 10 kgs in 10 months. I usually hated exercise and did many things for just a couple of weeks. Pilates is the only thing I’ve been able to do regularly, no complaints or excuses to skip a class. I’m paying not for luxury then, but to prevent myself to go into the trap all the women in my family have fallen to, where they become overweight, develop diabetes (a curse from both sides) and serious problems of movility, but refuse to change anything, while complaining about how they are so sick, life is so unfair. I tell myself that I’m not doing pilates to be thin and hot, which I’m not (and pilates is not good for that anyway), but to be strong, flexible and to be able to keep moving when I’m not young. In a family where you’d think just a breeze can knock our elders when they walk outside, from how week and unsteady they look, I convince myself that money is well spent.

      1. Jess*

        Yes! This is exactly it – I have inherited various autoimmune diseases and other health issues from both sides of the family, and trying to stay strong and healthy with a body that seems to be doing its best to kill me can feel like an uphill struggle. Pilates really, really helps with keeping me strong and flexible and pain-free.

        It sounds like you’ve worked very hard to get to where you are now – I’m glad you’ve found something that helps, and thanks for your comment :)

    7. Sarah G.*

      Are you paying for the missed classes? (Based on your concern about missed classes, that was my impression.) If so, is there anywhere that you pay per class instead of for a multi-week session?

      1. Jess*

        I am, yes. Its quite rare round here to find places where you can pay per class – my old pilates teacher let do it after my health nosedived, but that was after I’d been going for a while. After moving to a different part of town I haven’t found anywhere else.

        1. Sarah G*

          Bummer. Maybe if you spoke to them about your situation and asked, they might be willing to give you credit towards other classes and/or allow make-up classes or something? I don’t know, I am of the mind that it never hurts to ask for stuff like that…

    8. TeaLady*

      People have already mentioned about the health benefits (mental and physical) of your gym membership and pilates, so I won’t repeat that. The other thing I would say is that if you are on a tight budget (whether to pay off debt, or save for a house deposit or whatever) it’s easier to stick to that mentally if you have some “fun” money – money that you enjoy spending, and that you get some short term (or longer term, in the case of the gym) reward.

      My partner and I are currently putting the equivalent of 75% of my salary into savings at the moment, as we’re hoping to buy a house soon, but we do still spend money on eating out and cheap (Premier Inn) nights away, because that keeps us sane. Yes, we’d have reached our goal sooner, but we might not be talking to each other, never mind house hunting together :)

      1. Jess*

        Quite right! I think my problem has been that I’ve been a bit too keen to treat myself and not particularly paying attention to finances and only realised a couple of months ago that it had all got a bit out of control. I just need to be more intentional about everything and find the right balance.

      2. Natalie*

        This is so important, and often overlooked in a certain flavor of budget advice. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. You pace yourself during a marathon or you will collapse in a heap and never finish.

    9. Anono-me*

      If you stopped spending the £100.00 on these classes; how much more would it cost each month in medical bills and lost wages? I am guessing quite a lot.

      If things are super tight for you, can you ask at either class location about a barter or employee discount?

    10. Nicole*

      If it wasn’t health related, I would suggest cutting back, but I think health is important so maybe you can cut back in other areas to compensate? For instance, I found buying generic foods to be a huge cost savings and if you don’t like the generic version you can always go back to the name brand, but you’d be surprised at how good most generic foods are these days.

      1. Jess*

        Yes, I definitely need to take a look at my grocery bills! I have a couple of dietary restrictions that mean some staples can be quite expensive for me, but I’m hoping that now various health things that flared up last year are back under control I’ll have the energy to start cooking properly again which will make a big difference :)

    11. Jess*

      Thanks all!

      To be honest I was expecting to be hammered for the question and told that I should just run outside for free etc (I used to, but after several injuries my body just can’t handle it any more). I had obviously forgotten just how wonderful the AAM commentariat is :)

    12. Ktelzbeth*

      I don’t know what you have available where you are, but here in the States we have YMCA and YWCA gyms that can be quite good and may offer sliding scale memberships or assistance. I see that you said that you’d looked around to compare prices, but don’t know if you’ve thought about this or if it exists in your area.

    13. Observer*

      If you were spending that much on a luxury I’d be giving you a verbal slap (at least in my head, probably not to your face.) But, you are not doing that – you are taking care of your basic health needs.

      It’s like a car. Getting a luxury car is never a good idea when you are in debt. And, if you live in an area with good public transport that’s reliable enough for work, you maybe don’t get a car at all. But, if you need a good car to make it possible for you to keep your job you pay enough to make that happen even if it means more money than a cheap egg beater.

      One of the most important skills to keep yourself out of debt is to figure out what you NEED and what you WANT. Staying out of the hospital is a NEED. You simply can’t put it on the same plane as anything outside of food, basic shelter and making your employment possible.

    14. Not So NewReader*

      I do a lot of alternative stuff that costs me some bucks. A friend chuckled, “You have one pair of sneaks but you have all this health stuff that you do.” Yes, it’s trade-offs. I forego the half dozen pair of sneaker so I can have a chiro or whatever. If I am not up and functioning than nothing else in my life is going to go well. I hope you see that the same holds true for you. If you are not up and functioning then you will never get that debt paid down nor meet your other goals in life. Health comes first and foremost.

      Don’t let your guilt about a spending spree through you off course here. You had a spree, now it’s over. We all go off course once in a while, it’s part of being human. Now you are getting back on track. It’s a misplaced use of guilt to allow your spending spree to cut into health care needs.

      I have had great luck with changing my mind set. I decided that my life habit is going to be that I am in a constant state of looking for new ways to reduce current bills. Do one bill at a time. Look at your utility bill, can you do something there? Then look around are there subscriptions that you do not use? Keep looking and make it your habit. I have been living this way for over a decade and I cannot believe I am still finding ways to cut costs and reduce recurring bills.

      I started by questioning the things that could be pulling my health down. Synthetic chemicals were a biggie. So I looked for ways to spend less on chemically stuff. Save money, help myself toward healing = win, win.

      Hold firm to your health priorities. That is your path to having a full life. Look for other ways to handle your debt, don’t cut your plan for your health.

    15. The Expendable Redshirt*

      It’s important to invest in your health, both physical and mental. I see money spent on fitness as a good thing.

      From the financial side of things, it’s a good goal to put 15% of your net income towards debt. If you can use more money on paying off debt (without making your life miserable) that is fantastic. If you aren’t hitting that 15% mark, see what unimportant things you can financially cut out of your life.

    16. JenM*

      Agree with everyone that your health is worth spending money on. In your situation it’s a necessity. Have you spoken to your bank about a possible loan to pay off your credit card. The interest rates on loans are far more favourable and you’ll clear it far faster.

      1. Observer*

        That’s totally not responsive to the question at hand. The question is whether cutting out paying for things that maintain her health fall under “as fast as you can” or can’t.

  15. matcha123*

    I need a bit of advice.
    I met up with a friend from school a few weeks ago when he came to my city with his girlfriend. I’ve only met him a few times since then, and was never interested in him. But this time it seemed like we had so much to talk about. It wasn’t until I got home that I felt like there was something different about this time.
    He’s always been down to meet up when I’m in his city, and there was nothing about those times that really indicated to me that either of us were interested in each other. It seems like he just recently started dating this girl, so I don’t want to say anything to him. But, part of my wonders if I should throw caution to the wind and tell him directly or through mutual friends that I’m interested. There’s no chance of us bumping into each other since we live on opposite sides of the country.

    1. neverjaunty*

      Nope. Unless you have reason to believe he and the girlfriend are openly seeing others and are non-exclusive, leave it be.

      1. crash*


        This seems somewhat arbitrary, impractical and….. not very nice. It’s not like this is a man you have known for years, just realized you are in love with, and this may be your last chance to let him know your feelings because he just about to get married.

        I used to have female friends who only seemed to “notice” a guy once he was dating other women. Then he suddenly became “attractive”. A challenge? Less tension when hanging out because he is in a sense off the market, so you/he act more like yourselves? Who knows, but it never ended well…. Never.

        1. neverjaunty*

          To be fair to matcha123, it isn’t always about it now being a challenge or competition. It may well be that he IS more fun and attractive… because the girlfriend makes him happier, because he’s improved as a person to the point where he can be in a good relationship, and so on.

          1. matcha123*

            No not attracted to him because of his girlfriend! I was not expecting this at all. We’ve known each other since high school and he’s a citizen of the country I’m in. We’ve met up a few times over the past few years, usually one on one. Those times our conversations were okay, but nothing special. This time was different.

    2. Dan*

      Well… I’m of the mind that unless they’re in a committed relationship, then give it a shot. (Plus, the longer you wait, the harder it will be.)

    3. Elizabeth H.*

      I think it will become clearer after a little bit longer. I’m not hesitant about pursuing romantic connections but I don’t think there’s much to be gained with an open declaration at this point. If the relationship isn’t serious and the interest is mutual he will reach out to you again, find some excuse to be in your area again or will respond favorably to your reaching out to connect as friends. It’s also sometimes the case that you have a slightly flirtatious relationship with someone when one/both of you are attached. It doesn’t have to mean you have to pursue it further but it’s not bad either. I would wait until you meet up again or it becomes more clear.

    4. Bonky*

      Another vote to leave WELL alone. There is something weird about rekindling old school relationships with people of the opposite sex; the feelings can be very intense. I think it’s because it’s not just the person your lizard-brain is having feelings towards: it’s something about youth, opening closed opportunities and nostalgia.

      Your lizard-brain is an idiot. Ignore it.

      1. Lissa*

        Ooooh, not related to the situation mentioned here but that just totally turned on a lightbulb for me about a few things over the years….

        1. Overeducated*

          Me too…as a coupled person confused by a random crush on a very old acquaintance that I have no interest in or intent to act on…that helps with the confusion!

      2. matcha123*

        This is interesting and probably true. We spent a lot of time talking about our time in the US.

    5. Panda Bandit*

      If you were in a relationship, would you want someone homing in on your boyfriend? Don’t say anything until he’s single.

      1. matcha123*

        When I was with my previous boyfriend, he would sometimes tell me about women or female coworkers that approached him. While I understand the sentiment, I’ve always thought that I can’t control what other people think or do. If my boyfriend had wanted to pursue something with one of those other girls, that’s his choice. I’d only like for him to let me know.
        I also realize that my way of thinking about this might not be the norm…

        1. Panda Bandit*

          Of course you can’t control what others think or do. If your partner wanted out they could leave at any time. It doesn’t have to be because of someone else. My point is, don’t be a jerk. The world doesn’t need that.

    6. chickabiddy*

      Maybe it’s just me, but I consider “girlfriend” to be different than “recently started dating,” although you use both phrases. If the girlfriend is really a girlfriend, then I agree that it would be inappropriate to express your feelings. But if they’ve just started seeing each other and there is no exclusivity or commitment, and you’re sure your newfound interest is genuine and not just a case of wanting what someone else has, then perhaps a few well-placed words would not be amiss.

      1. chickabiddy*

        Although, rereading, if he brought his companion across the country to meet his friends, that does imply some level of seriousness…

        1. matcha123*

          It’s a small country. And it sounded like between my area and another he? they? chose my area. He didn’t tell me he was bringing a girl until we’d sent a bunch of texts.

      2. matcha123*

        Interesting, I never really thought of any difference between those words. We are both in Japan and the open dating people do in the US before going “exclusive” isn’t really done here. So, I was never attracted to him before, but hmm… I was surprised at how much we talked and how well it flowed. Of course we brought his girlfriend into the conversation but it was like we were talking to each other through her, if that makes since. He was explaining to her a lot of basic first date kind of things, which is also why I’m feeling confused.
        I then met him a few weeks after that and had lunch with a friend of mine, and the conversation flowed pretty well then, too. I usually shoot him a message when I’m in his area. I don’t know if I’m reading too much into something or not.

  16. regina phalange*

    looking for some relationship advice. my boyfriend and I are in a long distance relationship but we obviously don’t want to do this long term. the issue is that we cannot decide who should move where. we are both pretty attached to where we live and we don’t want to make the other person move amd regret it so feel that we just keep going around in circles…

    1. Dan*

      Quite honestly, I’d break it off, and if you don’t want to do that, then at least give yourselves permission to see other people.

      Because you are right. Neither of you want to move, and you *are* just going around in circles. You need to change *something* to give your mind some perspective. If dating around for awhile makes moving to the other person more appealing, then there you go.

      Sometimes people resolve this by saying, “We’ll live in one person’s city for X years, and then move to the other person’s city.” It sound equitable, but IMHO it’s really not. Because in those first years, if someone is established in a career, asking them to give it up and move is a lot, and they may not actually do it. I have a job I really like in a niche industry, and when I date, I have to be up front that I will likely never move beyond a reasonable commute from my office.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yeah, I agree. If you don’t change something, be it relocating to the same place, having a more open relationship, or accepting that your relationship is long-distance (not uncommon in academia), you’ll just be frustrated indefinitely.

    2. Marcela*

      Well, you should not be thinking about “making” the other move. That is straight to resentment. Consider this just the first experience on a series of similar situations, for it is impossible to make a life with somebody and be in agreement all the time (I once met a very conservative guy from my country who told me I should agree with my husband, because that’s what you do in a marriage. I laughed hard at the idea and told him he was being absurd, that was impossible since from the very beginning I could not agree with my husband liking women: I liked men. He was very annoyed with me, but never told me about his silly ideas again). This is an experiment in negotiations and also in what you will do when you don’t want the exact same thing.

      Having said that, I’ve left my life in several occasions to follow my husband. I’ve left my home, my jobs and moved to different cities and countries. Although it’s not easy because you are alone and everything needs some planning, it hasn’t been really difficult for me because my husband has always been aware of the “sacrifices” I’ve made. What I’m trying to say is that even after one of you took the decision to move, the other can’t just pretend nothing has changed, and needs to be receptive to the frustration and difficulties of the one being moved. But if both of you are generous and think of this as something that needs to be done to be able to share a life, you’ll find a way to make it work. Just do not expect to be something easy that can be decided, executed and dealt with in 5 minutes. Relationships are never like this.

        1. nonynony*

          I think the worry with that is then if it doesn’t work out, we’re both worse off rather than just one of us. Not that we want to break up, I know we both really want it to work, but we’re just stuck right now. Sometimes it is hard to move outside of your comfort zone. Also, some of my friends are pressuring me to stay put, which is not helping my stress levels. Not that it is their decision, but still adds to the stress I’m already feeling. How do I make this work and keep everyone happy? Is that even possible?

          1. animaniactoo*

            No. Assume that some people will be unhappy, and think about who has the most right to be happy or unhappy with the decision you make. Who is best served by it and how much should that matter in the big scheme of you being able to make decisions that work for what YOU want to do in life? If people are pressuring you to stay put, I would look at what their concerns are for you moving, how important those concerns are to you, and how you feel that they can be addressed if you think they need to be. Also: Your faith in the people who are having those concerns. Do they generally have *your* best interests at heart? Are they doomsayers about change in general? Is their track record on life matters usually realistic/reliably good?

          2. Dan*

            This is sort of (and I mean sort of) like a couple where one wants a kid badly and the other really really doesn’t want one. What do you do, split the difference and have half of a kid?

            If you stay put, you are somewhat happy and friends are happy. BF is not happy. (You’re only somewhat happy because while you have the city and friends, you don’t have BF)
            If you move, BF is happy, you are unhappy, and friends are unhappy.

            Whose happiness counts the most? You can’t keep everybody totally happy, but you can maximize total happiness.

    3. animaniactoo*

      Well let’s start with, who is *open* to moving and doing the work to establish themselves in a new place. Because if one of you is open to it, then it’s less “making the other one do it” and more “isn’t as big a sacrifice”. You can be attached to a place and still be willing to leave it…

      Secondly, who could recover better if the move doesn’t work out? Be able to move back/stay in new place/move elsewhere? Does one of you have a job that is more portable than the other?

      One thing I would suggest that I know a lot of people don’t think about is that it tends to be more of a financial burden on the person who is moving. If you work to split those costs as part of a partnership investment in the move, it will feel less like a sacrifice that is primarily on one person. This can also flush out something else… if one of you isn’t willing to contribute financially to the other person doing it, you probably aren’t committed enough to the other person for one of you moving to make sense and you need to be having an entirely different conversation.

      Final thought: Would one of you have an easier time of getting back to “home base” to visit (i.e., it’s closer to an airport or stuff like that) and keep up relationships, etc.? Can you incorporate an active plan of doing that say once every three months or so for the person who does move?

      1. regina phalange*

        We are both open to it, it would be easier for him job wise, like by a landslide. So you’d think that would be enough, but there are other factors going on, unfortunately. If he moved here and it didn’t work out, it would be way easier for him to move back rather than me moving there. Hadn’t even thought about the financial part of this, you do raise a good point.

        1. neverjaunty*

          It sounds like you are talking about this with purely rational reasons (i.e. it’s easier for him jobwise than for you) and ignoring the emotional reasons. That won’t work. People can have an emotional attachment to where they live beyond ‘it’s a good place to have a job’. Relocating is emotionally stressful, particularly when you like where you’re living, and VERY particularly when the reason for moving is a relationship.

    4. Turtlewings*

      If you really, truly decide that neither of you has a better “argument” than the other for staying put… you might agree to just flip a coin.

    5. the gold digger*

      My attitude on moving for an SO is it would not happen without a ring on my finger. (Figuratively. I don’t like wearing rings.)

      And even if you do have the ring (or the Engagement Trash Can) and even if you do get married, the person who moved (me) might be, almost nine years later, unhappy to be living in the new place and wish she could have a do-over. Do not underestimate the value of living someplace you like with an established network of friends and other community. Moving as an adult stinks.

      1. The Grammarian*

        Word. I moved for my partner, after we got engaged, and I miss my old community of friends and family every day. Really consider what you’re doing before you commit.

    6. Gene*

      Being the cold-blooded logic-based person I am, the first thing I’d look at is which move would maximise your collective meet worth. If you both rent, which area has a lower rental cost/cost of living ratio? If one of you owns, would the sale price be enough to buy in the other place? If you both own, which one has more equity?

    7. TeaLady*

      My current relationship was long distance but I moved 18 months ago to my partner’s location after doing 3.5 years of travelling back and forth alternate weekends. So here’s some thoughts based on my experience:
      – your network of friends will change over time. Don’t stay because of them. They may move (most of mine did, several overseas) and/or be less available to you because of their own changing lives
      – parents and family – my parents are aging but fiercely independent. They didn’t want me to stay close to them if it made my own quality of life lower. (They love my partner especially as my last relationship was less than stellar). I’m only 3 hours away if needed
      – partner’s job earns twice what I do and is specialised. In my home city there was not a single opportunity for him. My type of work is more portable so it made sense for me to be the one to move. In the end I kept my existing job and work remotely which was the perfect solution as I love my job and have a great employer and colleagues
      – making new friends as an adult for me is fairly easy – I speak as someone who had hardly any friends as a child/teen/young adult. It’s all about getting involved with hobbies and interests. We set things up so that weekends in the new location (which was new to partner too) we did stuff that meant we met new people. Now I have moved I have joined groups on my own too
      – it will take time to be mentally ready to leave. It might never happen (and that’s okay). It took more than two years before I was ready and then more time before I was ready to talk to my boss about potentially leaving
      – whilst deciding and whilst dealing with the practicalities of moving (if you do) communication with your partner is key. My partner never doubted that I wanted to be with him but knew that I needed to be sure that I was doing the right thing and that I needed to disengage with my old situation so I could put my heart into the new one

    8. Kj*

      That is a tough one, but I think you need to be honest- career-wise, can one of you move more easily than the other? Is one of the cities “better” for one or both of you in tangible or intangible ways? Is your desire to be with each other stronger than one or more of those factors? Honestly, if I wasn’t wild enough about a person to move cities for them, I wouldn’t. And if I wasn’t wild enough about a person to move cities for them, I wouldn’t be with them. That is really harsh in some ways, but depending on age, it might be worth it to break up now while dating is still easy. Also, if you want kids, you might have a clock that is ticking.

    9. Golden Lioness*

      I agree with the other comments above, but just a wild idea… Have you considered (and would you consider) moving to a 3rd “impartial” city so you’re both making the move? That way there would be no unilateral hard feelings on the part of the person that had to move… and going through the same changes may help bring you closer together.

  17. evergreen*

    A friend and I want to take a weekend this spring for a creative writing/drawing retreat. How would you structure such a weekend? Has anyone done anything like this before?

    Also — any ideas for good towns to go within a 3-hour drive of Chicago? Doesn’t have to be fancy or particularly interesting, but at least a couple of good restaurants and a cute area to walk around would be nice.

    1. bassclefchick*

      Madison, WI! State Street is always fun and we have lots of great restaurants. Plus we have a few interesting museums if that’s your thing. Cedarburg, WI is also fun. They have a winery and some interesting shops. It’s called Cedar Creek Settlement. Port Washington is also good, right on the lake and the downtown area has some good shops and restaurants.

      1. Perse's Mom*

        +1 for Madison!

        State Street (pedestrian traffic only (minus police/emergency vehicles and city buses)), leads from the capital building to the foot of the university campus. Lots of good shopping and eating along the way. Depending on when in the spring you’re aiming for, the Farmer’s Market on the Square (surrounding the capital) gets up and running sometime in April.

        Olbrich Botanical Gardens, the Overture Center, Monona Terrace.

        We have a number of smaller, lovely old showcase theatres (the Barrymore, the Orpheum, the Majestic) that get some pretty great shows (both comedy and musical). Plus the Kohl Center and the Alliant Energy Center for major stadium type venues.

    2. ChemMoose*

      Kalamazoo (MI)!! Great downtown, but can be cold this time of year (clearly). Great historic areas, houses, bnbs etc. It’s only a 2 hour drive from Chicago, depending on traffic in Chicago.

    3. Emily*

      Southwest Michigan! South Haven has great beachfront along Lake Michigan and a picturesque downtown with shops and restaurants near the harbor. The more rural areas to the south/inland (Baroda, Three Oaks, etc) have beautiful vineyards perfect for enjoying a glass of wine on the patio on a lovely summer day, as well as a growing number of craft breweries. Red Arrow Roadhouse in Union Pier makes a great stop for dinner on the way to/from Chicago. It’s easy to get to from I-94.

    4. Little Missy*

      Come to downtown Indianapolis! White River State Park is just west of the state capitol. Our canal runs right by the Indianapolis Zoo and White River Gardens, the NCAA headquarters and Hall of Fame, the Indiana State Museum (which has one of the best IMAX screens in the country), the Eiteljorg Museum, History Center, and several restaurants all along the walking promenade. You can take a gondola ride or rent paddle boats or take guided tours at various spots. If you would rather be up at street level, you can head to Monument Circle to tour the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, go east to our City Market, or even further east to Massachusetts Avenue to shop and eat our way up and down the street. http://www.visitindy.com

    1. nep*

      Best: Today — Did something that scares me. Beautiful outcome (as is usually the case when I move past the comfort zone).

    2. animaniactoo*

      Worst: The lingering cold kept me out of work on Tuesday when I got to a stage of being almost all better in the nose and the chest, but was suddenly attached to the bathroom for the rest of the internal organs…

      Best: Going over to my parents for dinner later for make-up latkes since I missed out when I had to skip (for the first time ever!) our family Hanukkah celebration. Still sucks that I missed the gathering and the out of town peoples, but yay my parents are making latkes just for me. 8•)

      1. animaniactoo*

        New worst: Snow prediction was TOTALLY wrong and my latkes just got rescheduled because the 1/2 hour drive has become a “please stay off the roads” situation and taking the train would take two hours with weekend construction, etc. WAAHHHHHH. I want my latkes!

    3. Elkay*

      Best: Both cats got a clean bill of health (one had to have blood tests).
      Worst: Trying to find a new waterproof coat and being reminded that high street shops do not cater for women. Also, I really hate shopping.

    4. danr*

      Best: It’s snowing. It looks like we’ll end up with around 4 or so inches. It looks very pretty.
      Worst: It’s snowing. The snowblower is still in the shed and I’ll have to shovel off the driveway if there isn’t enough for the snowblower. We have a 200 foot driveway.

      1. Mimmy*

        danr – We’re supposed to go into NYC this evening (leaving on the train at 4:35-ish, show is at 6:45 pm). Think the snow will be done by then??

          1. Mimmy*

            I’m in Middlesex County – that’s probably about how much we have as well so far. Still snowing :(

            We’re going to give it a shot, but if the roads are bad, we’ll just come back home. Wahhhhh this was supposed to celebrate hubby’s birthday (which was yesterday)!

    5. Drew*

      BEST: I had LASIK just before the holidays and it was one of the best medical investments I’ve ever made. I haven’t had vision this clear, even with contacts, since I was a teenager. (Close-up vision is in and out, but that’s why God gave us reading glasses.)

      SECOND BEST: Had lunch with a good friend yesterday and we counseled each other about our respective work problems. Plus the food was excellent.

      WORST: Aforementioned work problems. 2017 isn’t starting off in the win column, that’s for sure.

        1. Drew*

          I saved up for over a year, plus took advantage of a $1,000 off end-of-year offer. It’s definitely not cheap.

    6. Graciosa*

      Best: The holidays are over – no more shopping, cooking, or decorating to do – but I left my tree up just because I want to enjoy it for another week.

      Worst: I had a really stressful day at work – probably the second worst in my career – and hit the end of my rope. It’s amazing how thoroughly that can overshadow everything else in your life when it happens.

    7. LizB*

      Best: I am home after a wonderful vacation and I get to see my boyfriend and cat and have clean clothes and occasionally have time to myself (I’m fine with group travel but you get NO privacy).

      Worst: Jet lag, omg. I’ve mostly fought through it by now but I had a rough couple of days.

    8. copy run start*

      Best: Finally figured out my goals for 2017 (paying off my car in preparation for graduating school and paying on student loans again). Got an interview next week for a stretch position, though I am not expecting anything to come of it.

      Worst: Bitterly cold. The cat is sleeping with his butt up against the radiator!

      And my (super cheap) laptop decided the only input it likes is the stupid touchscreen, which I hate. Getting an external mouse and keyboard really defeats the whole purpose though. I still have my gaming PC (desktop), but sometimes a change of venue is good. Not sure what I’ll do yet.

    9. C Average*

      Best: Went for a six-mile run (okay, JOG) and didn’t die.

      Worst: It’s snowing and likely to turn to freezing rain. I see at least a day of mass cabin fever in my family’s future.

    10. Annie Mouse*

      Best: Went bouldering for the first time and did far better than I thought (except getting stuck up the wall once lol) and enjoyed it.

      Worst: Weekend of night shifts, Always throw me for a few days once they’re finished (2 more to go)

    11. Marillenbaum*

      Best: saw Hidden Figures with my mom and it was ALL of the #BlackGirlMagic
      Worst: might need to break up with the guy I’m seeing, and it’s making me mad stressed out.

    12. Elizabeth West*

      BEST: Salon day yesterday; cut, color, and brows. It’s not cheap, but I can’t do the blonde at home and I can go much longer between touch-ups now that my roots are so *koffgreykoff*. I didn’t want to be interviewing with roots because people are judgmental AF. Plus, I feel sloppy when my roots aren’t done. There is pampering in the form of a scalp massage, so I always look forward to color day. Brow waxing, not so much, haha.

      WORST: Barring a miracle, I think I may be done with the possibility of ever getting knocked up. I am devastated and extremely angry that this place seems to have stolen so much from me. Living here has been like being in prison, in solitary confinement–no matter what I tried, I could not find anyone. I really really wish I could just go to sleep and not wake up. And I still have no idea what to do to get out of here. No, I do not want a stupid prescription so don’t even suggest it. I JUST WANT OUT OF HERE. NOW.

    13. Trixie*

      Best: Received a raise this year for additional duties I started a last fall.
      Worst: I had the week off for the holidays but it’s not really downtime since I live with family. I adore them, but really miss living alone. Long story short, it was not a week off of relaxation for me.

    14. Mimmy*

      Worst: Our lovely state transit service didn’t bother posting anything about the indoor waiting area of our train station would be closed. Oh, did I mention that it was SNOWING and 20 degrees outside??! There were huts but they were not heated. We stood out there waiting for the train for a half hour (train was about 10 minutes late). Brrrrrrrrr!

      Best: That we were able to go to our event last night after all (I was worried that it’d be too snowy to travel) and had ourselves a good time. (we’d gone to a Professional Bull Riders thing in NYC).

      Honorable mention: Getting to wear my awesomely warm and fuzzy “hoodie footie” PJs last night that my husband had gotten me for Christmas!

    15. Red*

      Best: I’m getting married on Thursday!

      Worst: Just found out my cat has an autoimmune condition where her own body is destroying her teeth, so she will need them removed. Dangit.

  18. Elle*

    Random thoughts-

    Just started watching This is Us. What a great show! Can’t wait for it start back up on Tuesday! Anyone else watch?

    Started a new diet from a book called The Lose Your BellyDiet by Dr. Travis Stork (the host on the TV show The Doctors.) Love it so far. I’m five days in and feeling better than I have in years, so very hopeful for this being a long term way of life!

    Hope everyone has a great Saturday!

    1. 14 years*

      I watch it. I like it but sometimes it’s weird because as they interact in the present, I keep wishing their past would change. Example (no spoilers): the brothers have some tension but they’re getting better, and then I see them as kids and wish they would be different but they can’t because their present already informs us that they were that way.
      There are definitely twists and turns and I’m never sure if I like certain people.

    2. Kate*

      I watch! I want to know what happened to the dad (jack?). And I, too, wish that they had made different choices when they were younger, but of course if they all made perfect choices the show wouldn’t be very interesting.

  19. Jen RO*

    My cat is finally vaccinated!

    He gets very aggressive when he’s scared, and he’s always scared at the vet’s, so the whole experience was always traumatic for both of us (he had to be restrained in a special cage, he tried to maul everyone and last time it was impossible to move him back to his carrier). Because of this, I hadn’t had him vaccinated for almost 3 years. (He’s an indoor cat, but he likes to occasionally go out on leash, so vaccines are important.)

    Recently, a coworker told me about her vet who does house calls… and today he came by and, in 5 minutes, my beast was vaccinated! We didn’t even need to wrap him in a towel, he barely felt the sting. A weight has been lifted off my chest!

    1. MsChanandlerBong*

      We’re going to look into a house call next time one of our cats needs vet care. He is extremely afraid of any kind of noise, and our old vet had a set of sleigh bells on the clinic door. Every time someone opened the door, the bells would clang and jingle, and my cat would get more and more afraid. The last visit went terribly; he was so riled up from the noise, he was wailing and foaming at the mouth as they tried to check him. He is the most docile cat I’ve ever had, so I know it was the noise that did him in.

    2. Natalie*

      Our vet only does housecalls (she has a vet van with all her stuff) and it’s amazing. The cat hates being transported in her carrier, and would probably be apoplectic if the dog was also in the car with her, so it’s a complete non-starter. And we got good advice on our home setup for both animals as a bonus.

  20. TheLazyB*

    My nanna and grandad both died yesterday.

    They were my mum’s parents and were in their early 90s, and we knew they were both not far from death, and they were sad and scared and in pain… but it’s still so sad to know for certain that I’ll never see them alive again, never be able to send them a letter or get a card from them, all the other nevers. I haven’t cried yet… I want to but can’t yet.

    My dad’s parents died 20+ years ago. Strange to go from 2 grandparents to none in one day.

    They died within a few hours of each other. They weren’t really aware of what was going on and yet I’m sure they both understood they were leaving this life together.

    1. Alice*

      I’m sorry for your loss. It sounds like you had a great relationship with them. And they must have had a wonderful relationship with each other – many many decades together.

      1. TheLazyB*

        They were lovely. Absolutely lovely. And yes, they were married over 70 years and were never separated <3

        They will be very much missed by our large family.

    2. Caledonia*


      That’s sad but in a way sweet that they are together still. I’m sorry for your loss.

      1. TheLazyB*

        Yes it would be awful for them to be separated. I’m glad they didn’t have to live without each other.

        1. Sled dog mama*

          Yes, it is pretty awful to watch the single surviving grandparent go down hill. My grandparents were married for over 60 years when my grandmother died, expected she had been in declining health for several years and bed ridden for about 18 months. Five years later and my grandfather is still sitting at home mourning her all day everyday.
          And OP, I’m very sorry for your loss.

          1. TheLazyB*

            Yeah my grandma lived five years after my other grandad and it was awful. She just wanted to be with him. I’m glad neither of them were put through that.

            I’m sorry about your grandfather having to live through it :(

    3. TeaLady*

      I’m so sorry to hear that. Even when realistically death is expected, it’s still emotional.

    4. Myrin*

      I’m so sorry to hear that. The way it happened is quite beautiful in it’s poetic…ness? but that doesn’t make the event any less tragic and sad. I’m sure they knew they were loved and would be missed. I’m sending the best of wishes to your and your family.

      1. TheLazyB*

        Her siblings are mostly around now and that’s helping but I think once the funeral is over she really will be :(

    5. Kms1025*

      Really very sorry for your loss…such a bittersweet moment…hug your parents…you’ll all get thru this.

    6. Bonky*

      That’s so sad, but also rather beautiful. I’m glad they never had to be apart.

      I hope you and your Mum, and the rest of the family, are holding up OK. It’s such a difficult time.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I am so sorry. I hope the memory of their love and commitment to each other fills your cup in some way.

      How’s your mum doing?

      1. TheLazyB*

        Thanks for asking about my mum! She’s mixed, relieved they’re no longer in pain and scared, sad that she’s lost them. I think she’s going to be lost without them; she’s been staying at their house a lot and dropping everything to look after them regularly. I’m not with them at the minute; my sister is currently unemployed so she’s gone to theirs. They’re coming to visit next weekend. The funeral will probably be the week I have a work trip that’s supposed to be overnight but I think I’ll just do the minimum of just half a day. But we’ll see. (I’m just thinking out loud now.)

        1. Not So NewReader*

          When I lost my last parent it felt like a portal in life. I can’t imagine losing both in one day. The world sure looks different without the folks that is for sure. Let your mum know another stranger on the net is thinking of her.

    8. neverjaunty*

      Oh, I’m so sorry. Give yourself permission to work through your loss however is right at the time, whether you can cry about it yet or not.

    9. Jean who seeks to be Ingenious*

      Condolences. I’m sorry your family has lost both parents/grandparents at the same time.
      +1 to what Gene said. You can’t comfort others if you’re collapsing yourself.

    10. Marillenbaum*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. Even when you know it’s coming, losing grandparents is hard.

  21. Red*

    I’m getting married on Thursday! It was going to be a tiny city hall thing with just us and a mutual best friend, but now both our immediate families are coming. They are also asking me to wear a dress, lending Mr. Red a suit, buying us a bouquet and wedding rings, and planning lunch after. I love all the enthusiasm and love involved and wouldn’t trade it for the world, but dang, this is stressful! I just wanted to marry the dude and call it a day. Anyone have any wedding planning horror stories to share? Because I know in the grand scheme of things, this is nothing.

    1. Confused Publisher*

      Congratulations from another Thursday bride! My husband and I wanted to elope, but in the end, our immediate families attended, which I’m glad of, but my MIL made me have an expensive dress (that I paid for) and a bouquet and other paraphernalia, which I’m not glad of!
      In the end: I married the person I want to spend my entire life with, and that’s all that matters. I hope that’s what you’ll come away with too.

      1. Red*

        I’ thinking htat’s exactly how it will be :) I love my guy and I’m excited to be his wife! It’s just the actual marrying him thing that’s turning out to be more of a mess than I thought it would be.

      2. FormerLibrarian*

        Thursday here too! Me and my sailor got married in the courthouse (so we could get the housing allowance started) and then four months later we had a church wedding, technically a Confirmation of Vows. The courthouse ceremony was only about an hour from walking in to apply for the license to walking out married, and it was just the two of us. We had family, friends, the dress, (husband in a kilt and charlie) the cake, the reception for the church service.

        1. Red*

          See, that’s actually very close to what I wanted! Just sub in a pavilion in the park for the church, and you’ve got it! Even right down to the kilt! I honestly have no idea how we got so far from that…

          1. FormerLibrarian*

            Family get involved and then it just grows.

            I ended up with three bride’s maids instead of two because a few months before the wedding my baby sister was talking about it with school friends and when they found out she wasn’t part of the wedding party they got all indignent and starting demanding to know why she wasn’t. So of course she suddenly wanted to be part of the wedding (having not cared at all up to that point) and my mother get to make another dress. Thank heavens it happened *before* we went into New York to buy fabric!

            1. Red*

              I ended up having a maid of honor because my guy’s sister has always wanted to be one so I wanted to let her live her dreams and it makes no difference to me either way – I didn’t necessarily plan on having guests; what do I care if they have titles or not? So that’s a thing.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            Start putting your foot down and saying no. I have always thought of weddings a pre-marriage test or exercise. Just as adulthood means setting boundaries, marriage means even more setting boundaries. Say no to anything further. Tell them that if they keep asking you for more and more they will be UNinvited.


            I had my wedding to satisfy my MIL. She left early, took the cake (literally) and she was never satisfied. My wedding day became the day my husband and I NEVER spoke of. I guess people had an okay time but to us it was horrible. It was so far removed from what we wanted and the person we were trying to please was not pleased.
            So, please. Now is the time to get comfy with the “no” word.

            1. Red*

              I’ve been saying no! To lots of things! Maybe not all of them, but a lot. I swear, the F bomb used to be my favorite word, but now “no” is. It’s perfect; it saves my sanity and is a complete sentence all on it’s own.

              I feel like that’s the way my future MIL will be if I let things go unchecked – steamrolling and displeased. She said earlier that when we told her about the city hall ceremony it wasn’t enough time for her to plan. Well, that’s because we went and planned it already, the way we wanted it. You are welcome to invite yourself (kinda), but you are not welcome to invite yourself, tell us our plans don’t suit you, and make new ones for us! It ain’t about you! What the actual F.

              1. FormerLibrarian*

                I heard of a couple where the bride’s parents started planning a wedding which grew. And grew. And grew. As things got closer the couple sat her parents down and asked them flat out how much they were planning on spending on the wedding. The parents named a (way too large) figure, and the couple suggested a deal. The couple would plan and pay for the wedding themselves and the money that would have been spent on the way-too-big wedding would be a wedding gift since it was enough for a house downpayment. At least in that case the mother was thrilled to not have to do any planning and instead be able to just sit back and enjoy the day, and the couple got the wedding they’d actually wanted.

                I suppose you could try to sell it to her this way, that she can just enjoy and be a guest, but sadly, it sounds like your MIL-to-be wants the hassle of planning. I’ve always been somewhat guiltily releaved that my husband’s parents had both passed before we met so we only have one set of in-laws/grandparents’ drama to deal with.

                1. Red*

                  She definitely seems to enjoy the planning. I enjoy her doing it; I want her to be happy, too! I just want her to stick to adding to my plans (with lunch and rings and the like) instead of changing them completely (the wedding is staying at city hall and that’s that). That’s where I’ve drawn my line, and I’m almost glad she suggested crossing it because now it’s location is public knowledge.

      3. J. F.*

        The dog ate my wedding cake the day before the wedding. Also my sister didn’t come and it has been 12 years and by god I am still kind of annoyed.

        Happy wedding! It will all be over soon!

          1. J. F.*

            It was a lab, of course.

            I will always cherish the memory of standing out in the field setting out tables and chairs (we got married in my parents’ 3 acre back yard) and looking up to see my mother dragging the dog outside, screaming, followed shortly by my father with a smoking skillet that was forgotten in the excitement. Mom made another one, it was delicious, and we’re still happily married almost 12 years later.

        1. Red*

          Ha, that’s just so comically awful about the cake and so totally something that would be my luck. Thank you for that story! I’ve come to the conclusion that Thursday will be the best day ever for two reasons: One, I will be marrying the guy I love, and two – it will all be over and people will (hopefully) go back to thinking I am a person capable of handling my own life.

    2. Drew*


      It sounds like your families want SOME kind of pomp and ceremony around the wedding but are trying to respect your wishes to keep it small and low-key. As you say, it could have gone a lot worse.

      1. Red*

        Thank you :) That’s basically how it was going, but then Mr. Red just got a call from his mom that she wants to move the wedding from city hall to a banquet hall and hire a justice of the peace to come out and ugh. No. We planned it the way it was because we liked it the way it was.

        1. Drew*

          Argh. Time for the “Look, we told you as a courtesy, not because we actually wanted you involved” speech?

    3. Dan*

      I sympathize with the wedding stress. When I got married, it was just a family thing in the winter, and HARD to find an appropriately sized venue. Read: One that didn’t cost too much.

      So, ex and I got married in Las Vegas. It was actually a really nice time, albeit no Elvis.

      The horror part? Thankfully, my soon-to-be-MIL was scheduled to fly in two days ahead of time, because she got too drunk at the airport before her flight. Not only did they deny her boarding, but they arrested her and took her to lockup. (Random aside: I used to work for an airline, and I have no idea how bad you have to get for 1) The gate agents to call the cops, and 2) For the cops to actually lock you up.)

      BTW, her mugshot from that even is on mugshots.com.

      1. Red*

        Oh my god, that is such a disaster! Based on the airport behavior I’ve seen, you would have to get so horribly drunk for that to happen that I would worry about one’s safety! Thank you for sharing that :)

        1. Dan*

          You’re welcome. I forgot one of the better parts: Ex knew what time mom was supposed to arrive, and as time dragged on, she became more and more of a wreck. Finally, I looked at her and asked, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” (Response: What actually did happen.) Now, my ex could be a little over dramatic and exaggerate things, so I leaned over and said, “Honey, why does that come to mind?” (Response: It’s happened before.)

          That was a very entertaining time in my life, and one of the (many) reasons we split was she couldn’t draw healthy boundaries between her and the rest of her dysfunctional family.

    4. Ruffingit*

      At my first wedding, it took place at 11 am with reception to follow. The cake maker somehow got confused and thought the reception was at 5pm! So, the cake was being baked as we said our vows. Reception was awful, not what I wanted at all and ended up with my sister leaving early (no loss there) and once my husband and I left the venue, apparently my brother-in-law (married to aforementioned sister) threatened to punch my mother in the parking lot. His fist was stopped by the husband of a good friend of my mother’s. My sister is still married to that guy, he was physically abusive to both her and her son from her first marriage so he’s just an all-around peach. No longer speak to said sister (not because of wedding thing, but it sure contributed).

    5. Loopy*

      I don’t know if this will be helpful or not, but I’ve also started tracking my food/nutrients and so far it’s been pretty easy to stay under things like fat/saturated/fat/carbs/sodium, unless I *really( splurge and treat myself to something crazy like pizza/ice cream. However, I always go over sugar (mine is set at 28g/day) without fail. Sometimes before lunch.

      I’m not even close to as healthy as you, but I’ve always wondered why ever other limit seems feasible and sugar seems impossible. I guess I’m just trying to say it’s definitely not just you struggling with the sugar intake/limit!

    6. Hattie McDoogal*

      Congratulations! Your wedding sounds a lot like mine – husband and I initially planned to get married at our place and had a really small guest list but it somehow swelled to 20-ish people – mostly it was my dad guilting me into inviting various people (or outright inviting them himself, behind my back). Plus my husband’s divorced parents, who hadn’t been in the same room as one another since the divorce was finalized decades ago, both showed up. We had assumed his dad wouldn’t come since it was really short notice and he lived out of town, and this was only a few days before the start of the 2010 Olympics here so hotel rates were pretty high. FIL and his new wife ended up staying at ours the whole time which meant that we had to get a hotel that night ourselves (I’m can’t remember how the argument went on that one…). Ultimately the whole thing felt really weird and awkward – we should have either put our feet down about the small number of guests, or said “eff it” and thrown a proper wedding with a reception and a slightly bigger guest list, but we just wanted the whole thing over and done with.

    7. Robin*

      Hubby and I did the courthouse marriage, and although our parents were all totally cool with the small, simple plan we still didn’t tell them until two days before. Hubby’s out of town parents were flying in and we proposed that we all have lunch with my parents as they hadn’t met and we were engaged. The day before they flew out, I called my parents and let them know we had an errand at the courthouse to run before we could go get lunch… and the lightbulb went off. Hubby did the same. Both sets of parents were thrilled anyway, but we wanted to avoid a big wedding and any of the helpful advice/strong arming that seems to happen when you get married.

      We ended up hiring a photographer and taking photos with our parents and photos of the ceremony, and then we all had the promised lunch afterwards. I did rent a white dress and Hubby did buy a suit (he needed a new one, anyways) but we recycled a paper bouquet and borrowed jewelry and definitely did it our way. Our version of the bigger celebration will be a BBQ-style first anniversary party this summer.

    8. Natalie*

      Not a planning story per se, but my mother was an hour late and missed the ceremony entirely. Frankly I should have expected it, which is why she wasn’t involved in the planning!

    9. Chaordic One*

      I’ve told this story before and while not a horror story, luckily, I still think it was very weird. At a wedding I attended I thought it strange that I didn’t recognize the ushers. They were well-dressed in suits that matched the bridegroom’s and best man’s, they were all handsome, extremely fit and muscular men who looked to be in their late 20s and early 30s.

      After the wedding and reception I found out that the ushers were actually bodyguards hired by the groom, just in case a certain embarrassing relative known for making scenes were to show up. Luckily the embarrassing relative did not come, but if he had come, they were prepared for him. An ounce of prevention…

    10. Sophie*

      Congratulations! At my sister’s wedding, my mom’s uncle drove over his wife’s foot and the paramedics had to come and take her to the hospital. This was done outside of the reception hall, so no one knew until after the wedding. I just knew that my mom disappeared for a while, but didn’t know where she was. (She was with her uncle.)
      Meanwhile, my aunt was having a diva moment and threatened to sit in her car for the reception, so my mom had to then run over by her and coerce her to get out of the dang car!
      My dad, (God rest his soul.), got so drunk that my mom and brother had to practically carry him out of the reception hall, into the car, and then inside the house at the end of the night.

      If or when I ever decide to marry, I think I might elope!

  22. Taylor Swift*

    I’m moving from one apartment to another next weekend and I’m kind of paralyzed by all the packing I have to do. Anybody have any good strategies for packing? I don’t even know where to start.

    1. New girl*

      I go room by room. Start with the smallest, so usually the bathroom. I get overwhelmed so I try to do a little each day so I don’t get too stressed.

      1. Marillenbaum*

        Seconding this advice! It makes things so much easier. Also, feel free to just throw stuff out–what you spend on replacing some things is easily worth the peace of mind that comes from not having to pack it.

    2. anoncmntr*

      Don’t try to make a big plan of it, don’t worry about where to start (unless you think it’s absolutely necessary because you have two-trucks worth of stuff and only one truck, for example). Just grab a box and start with that shelf right next to you — put everything in it, label the box, and go do something else. Have trash & recycling bags next to you so you can toss anything you want to. But the thing to do is not make a big deal of this, just put everything in a box and move on. Remember that you can edit your stuff (rearrange, toss, set aside to give away, reorganize, etc.) as you *unpack* in the new place. Plus it will feel great to have something ready to go!

      Oh and set aside really important papers that absolutely can’t be lost to go in your purse/backpack the day of so you’re not worrying about where they are later.

      Good luck!

    3. Sir Alanna Trebond*

      I was overwhelmed earlier this year, and ended up starting with books because those were the easiest things to pack. Once you open the dam, so to speak, everything goes a bit easier.

      I would actually recommend packing up your bathroom last thing, and then make that the first room you set up in your new apartment. I hate the crazy mess when you’re in the middle of moving in, so I always completely set up the bathroom on Day 1 so that there’s one room that’s an oasis of sanity. And the bathroom is small, so it’s really fast to set up.

    4. Alice*

      Label things, even if it’s just by writing the contents on the box, with a box number, then taking a photo of it. That will take some of the stress out of unpacking.

    5. Red*

      Go room by room, and toss things as you go. If you don’t use it, don’t pack it or you’re only going to make your life more difficult later. If you keep your clothes on hangers, it’s best to just leave them on if you can, because it’s a lot of weight rk otherwise. Just grab a handful of hangers, cut a hole in the top of a trash bag to make something similar to one of those dry cleaning bags, and put that over your clothes. Also mark every box with where it belongs. I find it is best not to mark it with the contents because then I’ll never get around to unpacking the ones with infrequently used contents – I just need to grab a box, open it, and dive in.

      1. Red*

        I meant that it’s a lot of work to remove things from hangers and put them back. Sorry, I’m on my phone!

        1. Red*

          Oh, that’s brilliant! I had no idea! I just get my boxes from work lol. Everything comes in a box, nothing leaves in a box, then I take the box.

      2. Ktelzbeth*

        If you don’t want to get wardrobe boxes, strap the hangers together in carriable bundles with your belts or rope.

      3. Shannon*

        I leave everything on hangers and tie together every 8-10 hangers with a rubber band. This makes it so, so much easier to pack, unpack, and transport your hanging clothes!

    6. Perpetua*

      I moved a couple of weeks ago and here’s what helped:
      – putting books (or other heavy yet not too large items) in suitcases
      – putting clothes together with their hangers in garbage bags (without taking them off the hangers)
      – labeling boxes both on top and on the sides
      – purging as much as possible before the move
      – dreaming of the great feeling I’d have once I’d unpack everything at the new place :)

    7. Former Frequent Mover*

      Pack things you will need right away (daily kitchen items, bedding, a change or two of clothes) and label and keep track of those boxes – or even put them in a suitcase instead of boxes, so that you can quickly find and set up the essentials in your new place and proceed with unpacking at a sane pace, instead of searching desperately through every box for the coffee grinder on your first morning.
      Get a box of contractor bags, make a hole at the end and feed a bunch of clothes hangers through (with the clothes on), pull the bag down over them and then tie the open end at the bottom under the clothes – keeps clothes together, and even if some slip off the hanger they at least don’t fall out.
      Good luck!

    8. Christy*


      -pack books in small, sturdy boxes
      -pack a cleaning supplies box and label it really well and make it accessible in case you need it. Include paper plates and plastic cups and utensils. And bedsheets and a towel! And a phone charger. Maybe this should be two boxes
      -don’t worry about packing your clothes, really. If you can take the dresser drawers out of your dresser, you can just haul them as-is, maybe Saran-wrapped. You can just put clothes on hangers in a trash bag still all hanging on their hangers. (A clothes hanger box is really awesome, though.)
      -pack fragile items in your linens and towels (and casual clothes)
      -label your boxes really well and move the boxes towards the door for ease on moving day. Ideally, keep a numbered list of boxes and where they’re supposed to go on moving day.
      -if you can afford it, don’t bother moving things like half-used food containers
      -when you’re not sure if you should get rid of it, get rid of it. Moving is the best time to purge your belongings
      -if you do purge and you know you’ll have to replace items, keep a running list
      -if you have to unassemble things to move them, keep everything you need to reassemble (including hardware AND tools) packaged together and ideally taped to the item. (I’m thinking like, metal bed frame)
      -pack up as much as humanly possible ahead of time
      -the morning of the move, disassemble your bed and move it to the front door. It’ll have to be the first thing on the truck.
      -consider the move an opportunity to buy good storage containers. For instance, if you want to store your bed linens in a plastic tub, buy a plastic tub and use it for the move
      -if you are considering moving a cheap target bookcase, consider not bothering and just replacing it. They’re $30, easy to assemble, they take up a lot of room once assembled, and they aren’t very high quality anyway. (I say this as the owner of six of them.)

      I have lots of moving day advice but that’s a start.

    9. Mallows*

      You can save a ton of time with breakables in a couple of ways. 1) seek out the liquor store boxes that have the cardboard dividers in them – some have a dozen little separate compartments, for example. Glasses can go in there. Put dishtowels or washcloths on top. 2) For other fragile items, if you are like me and are more interested in speed than organization, nestle them in boxes of linens or clothes.

      If you have access to the new place already and it isn’t so far away that this would be onerous, take some stuff over there now (assuming you don’t have movers)

      Good luck. I’m moving cross country in 3 months and ought to be taking advantage of this snowy day to purge and pack, but it doesn’t seem to be happening somehow.

    10. LadyKelvin*

      I don’t go room by room, even though that’s what most people tell you too do. I’m thinking too all over the place for that. I get a few boxes out and walk around the house gathering all my knicknacks and photos, etc and put them in their designated boxes. So I guess I go by category rather by room. I also keep a box out to put random stuff in as I come across it so I can remember to organize it and pack it in the right box later. I usually have 3-4 boxes being packed as a time so that when I see something it goes in the right place or the “to be packed later” box.

      Also, wardrobe boxes are good for transporting clothes on hangers, I don’t recommend the trashbag method because trashbags are not going to hold up in transit until you take them separately and you’ll end up with a bunch of dirty clothes when you move in. Also wardrobe boxes are good for big bulky things like trashcans, laundry baskets/hampers, etc that are light but bulky.

      I also don’t recommend transporting clothes in your dressers because 1. movers won’t allow you if you hire movers and 2. if you are DIYing it, that makes the dressers super heavy and hard to move. Not exactly what you want to make your move easier.

      In the kitchen, pack a few heavy things in a box then fill the rest with light stuff like tupperwear so you don’t end up with very heavy boxes or half-full boxes. Also you can use your dish towels, bath towels, other linens, etc to wrap your breakables which will cut down on packing material costs.

      -Source, 8 moves in 7 years and our 9th coming up in a month.

    11. Al Lo*

      I start with bookcases, because they’re easy to do quickly, and it looks like I’ve accomplished something right away.

      Coloured tape to label boxes by room. Especially if you have people helping at the other end, they can unload right onto the proper room.

      Always have a roll of plastic movers’ wrap. It’s a lifesaver for things like packing decorative baskets or boxes with no lids, bundling artwork together, or closing unsecured items ( for instance, the piano bench with music inside gets wrapped shut, so the music doesn’t have to be taken out, packed, and put back later).

      When possible, I try to have people over within about 2 weeks after moving, so it forces me to deal with the unpacking and getting the house in shape for company right away.

    12. Anono-me*


      It can be expensive, but movers will also pack everything for you. So you can hire help or use the thought of how much money you are saving as modivaton for packing yourself.

    13. copy run start*

      I’ve only moved in town, so I don’t know if my advice is relevant outside of that situation.

      I always start with a massive purge, evaluating everything before I even pack it. Does this book need to be moved, or can it be donated? Same with furniture that’s not gonna work out, old clothes and other detritus. No point in moving something you don’t need!

      For big electronics: always save the box if you have room, and label where the foam/cardboard inserts go in relation to the device (like “left-front”). Much easier to drop the TV back in the box, pop the box in the car and then carry it inside without worrying about bashing the screen in at every step, plus the box is made for carrying and protecting your device. And it’s already clearly labeled for you. Put any screws or remotes or cables in plastic baggies and label those too (“screws, remote, cables for living room TV”), drop in the box or tape well to the device if the box is missing.

      I keep a different box with the tools needed to assemble and dissemble anything getting moved. I recommend just picking up a set of those allen wrenches at the store so you won’t be screwed if you’ve lost the exact one. Actual screws and bolts and parts stay with the item though, just like with electronics.

      For other stuff: I pack as I go. Books and DVDs are easy to start with, but also easy to overload a box with them. So I make them the foundation of several boxes, and as I see things, I find a box they fit into. I don’t really have enough stuff to forget what’s in the boxes though. You may want to categorize by room, or label the contents in some fashion. I leave the essentials around until the last minute and make that the last trip so if I need to stay the night in the old place again, I’m not bringing things back.

      1. urban teacher*

        Use different color index cards to label boxes. It’s so much easier to tell movers, the green labels go in the kitchen. Plus you can write everything you packed in the box on the card.

    14. Rubbery Dubbery Smiles*

      * Pack anything important — papers you’ll need right away, medicines you take, toothbrush/toothpaste/soap, etc.– in a backpack or small suitcase & take it over yourself so you can find it in the chaos.

      * Same goes for bedfing & clean towels, except you need a larger suitcase. I usually change the sheets on my bed a couple of days before the move. The day of, I roll up the mattress pad around the sheets & pop them into a suitcase. When I arrive, I just unroll it all & put them on the mattress.

      * I buy those colored stickers that they sell for yard sales and color-code the boxes by room (yellow = kitchen, etc.) Putting 3 stickers on a box — one on the top & one each on a long and short side — makes it easier to find them when carrying them into the new place. I also put one sticker on a blank sheet of paper and attach it to the doorway of the appropriate room.

      Hope this helps! And good luck with your move. :)

    15. AcademiaNut*

      For me, I tend to use moving as a chance to clean out as well. So I start with a couple of big boxes or baskets – one for donate, a couple for recycle, one for garbage. As I pack, stuff I don’t want to move gets pitched into one of the bins. Then I get the boxes, labels, a couple of markers, and lots of tape and a tape dispenser.

      Books (and DVDs and CDs) first. They’re easy, and get me into the groove of packing. Then clothes and linens that I won’t use during the move – I fill up all my suitcases with these. Then I tend to work by room or type of item – kitchen stuff, knick-knacks, tools, etc. filling up boxes as I go.

    16. MsRoboto*

      Consider purchasing real moving boxes from u-haul or other place like that and packing tape. They sell dish boxes those can really help packing the kitchen. It is easier to pack a truck or car if the boxes are sealed. Even if you only buy a few and use liquor store / grocery store boxes for non-breakables a few good boxes are helpful.
      Get clean newsprint for packing not newspapers. Bubble wrap as well. All of this will cost a 100-200 but will save you knowing that you packed the breakables well.
      Label everything at least by room.
      When I moved with professional movers out of state they packed (company paid for this move) and they start in one corner of the room and work their way around. It can be helpful when you open the box and know it’s this bunch of stuff that you had together.
      Keep a cordless drill / screwdriver and bits available to take things apart.
      That’s all I got for now.

    17. tigerStripes*

      If you have a lot of books, either pack them in small boxes or pack a box with half books and half clothes or something light.

      Save the essentials for last and put them in the new house first so you can get to them. Soap and the kind of soap that works w/o water can be crucial.

      If you have pets, it’s a good idea to keep them in 1 room when you’re moving and then move them to a new room in the new house.

      Mark the boxes on at least 2 sides. It’s usually easiest if you put things in boxes based on which room they’ll be in in the new house.

    18. NiceOrc*

      No good hints for packing (I always start with good intentions of sorting and not packing rubbish, but by the end I’m just shoving everything into random containers!) but for the other end, do make sure you know where your kettle is, plus tea/coffee making supplies, cups, spoons, etc. This has been a lifesaver for me!

  23. New girl*

    I know this has been discussed on here before but how does a 20-something meet new friends? I like meeting new people and every since I’ve graduated college it feels more diffcult and to add to that I feel as if I have no hobbies that take me out to meet people.

    Ugh I turned 25 on Wednesday so I think I’m having a shot of quarter life crisis.

    1. JHS*

      I think the best way is through activities. Can you join a local kickball or dodge ball team? Do you like yoga or spin? I always seem to meet people that way. There’s also usually a ton of meetup.com groups doing interesting things that you could check out for your area. Good luck!

    2. Puffle*

      Fellow 20-something here, what worked for me was joining meetup.com groups. I joined some activity clubs (martial arts, board games), and while the people there were all very welcoming, I didn’t seem to make any friends because usually they were much older/ much younger than me and all we had in common was the activity. I still do martial arts, but usually once the hour is up we all just go home.

      I think the thing with meetup groups is that usually by definition they’re full of people who are also actively looking for friends/ social groups. Also I was able to find a meetup group that does a variety of activities each week (cinema trips, trampolining, bowling, karaoke, picnics, etc), so I can pick whatever suits me and there’s always something social happening. I’ve found some good friends there, but it did take me a little while and I had to go to a number of events until I got to know people.

      The person who set up the meetup group that I go to most often actually established it because there was nothing similar in our area at the time. She’s gone from about 5 members to about 150 members in 18 months- mostly 20-somethings looking for friends, which I think goes to show just how many of us are in this boat.

      Good luck!

    3. Marillenbaum*

      I think the best thing is to ask yourself what you like to do, and then see if there is a way to do that thing that will allow you to also meet people–like joining a book group, or signing up for a wine-tasting course.

    4. Kj*

      Get some hobbies! What have you always wanted to try? If you are in a reasonably-sized city, there will be a class or a MeetUp for that. Husband and I board game, started doing it through MeetUp, now play with friends in their or our home. Beading classes helped me make friends. If you are active, there will be a group run or group cycle or boot camp class that suits you. Group that meet regularly and have the same people in attendance usually are better for making friends.

      Also, can you ask friends to introduce you to other friends? Could you host a party and ask friends to bring other friends? That is a tried and true way to expand social circles. Also, is there anyone at work you click with? I have a good friend who I met when she was an intern at my work (I was not her supervisor, just an employee who worked there). I asked her if she would like to come to a gathering and we hung out there and have been good friends since. Do this one with care, but it is a pretty normal way to make friends in you 20s.

  24. sugar intake*

    This is a silly question, but when it comes to daily sugar intake, is it still bad if most of those calories come from fruits and vegetables?

    All the food tracking apps I’ve tried to use say not go past around 30g of sugar a day, but I’m always waaaay over that. Usually at 50g or 60g. The thing is, most of that comes from fruits and vegetables. The only thing I eat with added sugar is morning creamer in my coffee and that’s only 1 tablespoon. Everything else is meat, beans, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Occasionally I’ll have some yogurt or cottage cheese, which I know has more added sugar, but they’re not common staples in my diet. Or maybe once a month some hot chocolate if I really want something sweet. But mostly I stick to fruit when I have a sugar craving.

    So, I’m wondering if going way over the daily sugar allotment even though it’s healthy food and not junk with added sugar is still bad for my health and prevents weight loss?

    1. Christy*

      Honestly, you can eat too much fruit, but it doesn’t sound like you’re eating a whole watermelon every day. (I do that in the summer, basically.) Too much fruit can inhibit weight loss.

      But really, what’s the alternative here? Fruits and vegetables are good for you. If you are satisfied by them, that’s a good thing. Like, to me, cutting down on fruits and vegetables is a path to feeling deprived which leads to way worse decisions.

      That said, if you’re eating a ton of potatoes every day, or corn, maybe adjust that somewhat.

    2. danr*

      Yes. it counts. You can discount the sugars in vegetables, but very sweet fruits can add up. And look at that creamer. How much of the tablespoon is sugar? You may be getting more than you figure on.

      1. sugar intake*

        The creamer only has 1g sugar per tablespoon and I measure that carefully so I don’t go over it. That’s really the only added sugar I can think of since I don’t use oils/butter when I cook, just spices, and I don’t eat bread or pasta often (they’re like a couple times a year food), so it really is mostly meats, vegetables, fruit, and whole grains on a daily basis. The creamer is the only processed food I eat.

    3. fposte*

      Yes, fruit counts. As does the natural sugar in dairy (it’s pretty unusual IME to find cottage cheese with added cheese, so I suspect you’re just seeing the natural sugars;). The sugar in fruit hits you especially hard if any of that is fruit juice or dried fruits rather than whole fresh fruit.

      I don’t know that the food tracking apps are right about there being a hard ceiling, but in general, we haven’t evolutionarily had access to a lot of dietary sugar even in fruit or dairy–the ability to get bowls of raspberries every day in the year is pretty new. So I suspect they base the number on what a diet without unusual additions of sugar, not just processed sugar, would be.

      1. sugar intake*

        It’s always fresh fruit, and aside from a morning cup of coffee, I only drink water.

        I think maybe you’re right. Based on what I eat, it’s 3 cups of fruit and 3 cups of vegetables a day and the only processed ingredient I use is the creamer, which is 1g of sugar. I don’t cook with oil or anything since I steam or roast or sautee most of the fool (or boil if it’s beans or quinoa), so I can’t really fathom why all whole foods are causing so much sugar each day.

        1. Observer*

          Well, it seems to me that you don’t really understand how this stuff works. The fact that you don’t use fats in cooking makes no difference to your sugar intake – the two are totally different things. Fats will add calories, of course, but that is a different issue. Also, if you are actually sauteing food, you ARE using fats, even though just a small amount.

          It sounds to me like you need to get a better handle on what you need on daily basis – how much sugar (whether natural or added), carbohydrates, fiber, protein and fat. Most apps tend to be very broad brush, so you may not be getting information that’s appropriate for you. Also, you need to think about your weight – do you need to lose weight or are you good and just trying to maintain your current weight. That affects what your intake should look like. The other piece of it is how active you are. If you sit a whole day, you should be eating less of everything, whereas if you are a triathlete, you are going to need a lot more of some things. You need to find where you fit in all of this.

    4. Stephanie*

      Yeah, it counts. Dried fruit is a huge sugar and calorie bomb. My grandmother was diabetic and I remember lots of fruit was a no-go.

      Assuming you’re not eating a pound of grapes a day, I would take a really good look at what you’re eating. Things like bottled dressing or pasta sauce can have added sugar.

      1. sugar intake*

        I really don’t eat anything processed like dressing or pasta sauce. So, a normal meal would be coffee with one tablespoon of creamer and two eggs for breakfast, 1 cup cut strawberries and 10 almonds for a pre-workout snack, lunch is usually some type of bean or quinoa salad with vegetables and no dressing and an apple/banana/pear, dinner is a piece of roasted or sauteed meat with spices (I avoid the oil/butter when cooking) and a side of vegetables and lentils/quinoa/beans, and dessert is usually a cup of fruit (cantaloupe, berries, grapes, etc.).

        So, overall, it’s probably about 3 cups of fruit and 2-3 cups of vegetables a day. Which is what is recommended, but somehow I still seem to be going over the sugar allotment. The creamer I use only has 1g of sugar per tablespoon and I measure that out so I know I’m not going over a tbsp.

        1. fposte*

          Overall, it sounds like you’re on a pretty healthy diet–a lot healthier than average–and 30g is a pretty low threshold, so I suspect you’re looking at some pretty intense guidelines. 1 banana and 1 cup of cantaloupe can be enough to put you above 30g right there.

          So I’d say the question is what you’re looking to achieve with a 30g limit and whether it’s worth it to you.

          1. sugar intake*

            Diabetes runs in my family, through my mum’s side. My mum had gestational diabetes, but neither my parents nor my siblings have it, just some of my mum’s siblings and uncles. My doctor says I’m fine based on my heath, but I’m just worried about it all the same because I seem to have gotten all the health problems in my immediate family that are a result of genetics and not lifestyle.

            I do think you’re right about the intense guidelines, but whenever I put my weight and height into any of the health sites or apps, 30g is always what they give me and that’s what a nutritionist had recommended a few years back, so I think that’s why the number has always been stuck in my mind?

            1. Observer*

              Well, these apps and sites are really, really general and often have no real relationship with what actual diets look like. And, there is a difference in where / how you get your sugars.

              I would suggest two things. One is to start looking at the glycemic index of foods. That measure how the sugar in food is released in conjunction with how much sugar / carbohydrates there are in that food.

              The other is to visit a good dietician / nutritionist who can work with you on what is appropriate for you, given your lifestyle and genetics.

            2. fposte*

              I would trust my doctor over a health app. And now that I’m looking around, I’m wondering if the health app maybe did mean added sugar–the American Heart Association has one of the stricter U.S. recommendations and it’s 24 grams of added sugar a day, with a clear distinction between the natural and the added. (I know it’s not based on a diabetes risk, but I thought it was interesting.) Harvard’s School of Public Health has a big diabetes prevention program and I think they’d be thrilled with your diet (and also point out that you need to keep active and not smoke).

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Is the person who recommended the diet also involved in how the app works?
          It sounds like the hang up point is the three cups of fruit.

          The advice on what to eat does not match the app. You could go down to half a cup of fruit or skip one or two servings of fruit to get the right reading on the app. However, if you are doing this with a doc or other person check with them to see what they want you to do.

    5. Loopy*

      I don’t know if this will be helpful or not, but I’ve also started tracking my food/nutrients and so far it’s been pretty easy to stay under things like fat/saturated/fat/carbs/sodium, unless I *really( splurge and treat myself to something crazy like pizza/ice cream. However, I always go over sugar (mine is set at 28g/day) without fail. Sometimes before lunch.

      I’m not even close to as healthy as you, but I’ve always wondered why ever other limit seems feasible and sugar seems impossible. I guess I’m just trying to say it’s definitely not just you struggling with the sugar intake/limit!

    6. MsRoboto*

      I started tracking in myfitnesspal this week. Happy New Year to me.
      Anyway the sugar goal for me is 53g a day on a 1500 calorie food plan. I don’t know how they come to this number but generally they are pretty right on these things.
      So 30g might be kind of a low guideline.

    7. Mephyle*

      It counts, but not the full value, as long as it’s fresh, whole fruit, not juice or dried fruit.

      Why? Because when you eat the whole fruit, you’re also taking in all the fiber and bulk. A cup of juice contains 3–4 apple’s worth of juice, and you can drink it easily and quickly, whereas you’d be unlikely to eat that many apples at a go, and even if you did, it would take longer and leave you much fuller (and less likely to eat something else as well). When you eat the whole fruit, the sugars are also absorbed slower than if you only drink the juice. Dried fruit, in turn, has a much more concentrated sugar content than fresh fruit, with obvious consequences.

  25. Alinea*

    After 11 years I’m thinking not taking birth control anymore. I’ve already discussed this with my doctor and she gave me the okay so I can stop whenever I want. I’ve been with my partner for 7 years, married for three, and we want to start a family in the next year or two or three. We’ll see :)

    Anyway, I want to know what your experience was like once you stopped taking BC. Did you lose/gain weight? Skin changes? Mood changes? Etc.

    1. Jen RO*

      I was on hormonal BC and I was extremely happy with it (had to stop because of high blood pressure). Two things happened when I stopped : my acne and my moustache came back :( I have a very mild case of PCOS, which probably explains it.

      I haven’t seen any changes in terms of mood or weight.

    2. Mallows*

      My periods changed for the worse. They aren’t horrible like they were when I was a teenager, but they are definitely much more of an Event and require more forethought in terms of vacations, activities, etc.

    3. AlaskaKT*

      I was on hormonal birth control for several years, when I stopped I didn’t have any noticeable changes except that I got pregnant immediately! I wasn’t trying to get pregnant, just had to wait before I could get my next form of birth control since I hadn’t had a period in about 8 years and wanted to make sure everything was still working right. Got the most obvious conformation that it was! :)

    4. Lemon Zinger*

      I was on the pill for three years before I got off of it several months ago. I lost about 10 pounds without realizing it (not that I was trying or needing to lose weight). Unfortunately my skin has been… troublesome. I’m not as zitty as I used to be before BC, but it’s not great. I think my better diet has been helpful. Dairy makes me break out like no other– you should consider giving up dairy for a while to see if it helps your skin!

      My libido was pretty much dead on the pill and it’s still slow to return. However, my feelings feel a lot more real and deep. I didn’t realize how much the pill had dulled my senses.

    5. Anonynon*

      I had to go off for a few months due to insurance issues- and I’ve taken it for about 10 years.

      My most notable change was my libido skyrocketed. Which was inconvenient as we had family temporarily living with my SO and I >_<

      1. Totes Anons*

        I’ve been wanting to quit my hormonal birth control to see if it effects my libido (mine is super low, which is frustrating). I would love for it to skyrocket (no family living with us fortunately!)

        1. Jen RO*

          As another data point, it didn’t happen to me after I quit BC. Turns out my libido is naturally low!

    6. Candy*

      I went on the pill at 17 and stopped when I was 35. I didn’t notice any weight gain/loss or mood changes but I did get a bit of acne on my back at first, but it cleared up within a month or two (either on its own or because of the tea tree body wash I started using). Before I never had cramps and now I do, but just on my first day and now my period only lasts two or three days instead of four or five which feels like a fair trade-off.

    7. Clever Name*

      When I went off birth control, the things I remember the most are getting more acne, having pms, and having heavier periods.

    8. all aboard the anon train*

      I’ve only gone off it once since I started taking it at 18 (so, 12 years), and I lost 10 pounds of what I assume was water weight immediately. My libido went up, my food cravings went down, and I felt generally happier and more engaged.

      All my endometriosis symptoms came back in full force, though, so I went right back on the pill ASAP. I’m on it for the endo, but I have such a love/hate relationship with birth control. I’m so glad it’s available and women don’t receive as much shame for being on it, but I really do hate some of the side effects and how they’ve messed up my body and state of mind.

    9. Alinea*

      Cool, thanks for all the replies!

      I’ve also had super low libido for years and in the last 3 years, the week before my period I just get so irritated. I feel like, is this really me? I felt like this was my body telling me it was time to stop.

      I love the consistency of knowing when my period is going to happen and it lasts 4 days. I can skip it if I want to (Dr said it was fine and I’ve only done this a handful of times). I don’t like the lack of libido and the range of emotions I experience sometimes. Of course, this means I could get pregnant at any time. I’ll be real with you, internet friends: it will be interesting to go back to condoms as I don’t want to (theoretically) get pregnant right away.
      I already downloaded a period tracker, so I’m hoping I’ll still be very consistent. Fun times.

    10. Briefly Anonymous*

      I’ve been on-and-off for several years. I’ve found I have a higher libido off of it, but the hormone swings really exacerbate my fibromyalgia and I wind up feeling awful for at least two weeks of the month. But even before fibro, I had very uncomfortable and LONG periods. So BCP for me. Also, off of birth control I found I had a lot more discharge, and less vaginal dryness overall.

    11. Elizabeth West*

      I went back to cramps and heavy flow, but I’d been on it so long that by the time I did, my periods weren’t as bad. Instead of six days of misery, it was more like five days with only two really bad ones.

    12. DefinitelyNeedtoBeAnonymous*

      I went off it without discussing it with my doctor, which…well, who knows if that’s cool or not haha. But I did it.

      I was getting almost daily headaches, and was so frustrated that I just said, I am stopping the one thing that could be doing this. I no longer get daily, or even weekly headaches. I rarely need my migraine pills. Worth the (very minor) issues.

      Month 1: Tears. So much emotions. All the emotions. Stopped once I got my period, and was back to normal. No skin changes, no significant weight gain, etc. My uh…interest in sex grew significantly.

      Month 2: No more tears. Anger. All the anger. Also stopped once I got my period, and am now back to myself. No skin changes, no significant weight gain, etc. Same with interest for anything regarding sex.

      Month 3: In progress. No major emotion fluctuations so far. No skin changes, no significant weight gain. Same sex interest.

      1. Epsilon Delta*

        I started taking BC about 10 years ago, but I have been switched between so many brands and types of pills that I don’t think my body really “got used to” any one of them. I let my birth control lapse a couple of times, ranging from a few weeks to almost a year, and I didn’t notice any changes even during that long stint, except that I had to remember when my period was likely to come!

  26. Wendy Darling*

    My tonsils have blown up like balloons and I am, once again, cursing my luck that there was a backlash against removing tonsils when I was a child because mine should have gone.

    Other than hot tea and gargling with salt water, does anyone have a favorite sore throat/swollen tonsils remedy?

    1. Confused Publisher*

      Hot water with ginger and honey. Lots of honey. And I hope you feel much better soon.

    2. Buggy Crispino*

      Get ’em yanked!!

      Seriously, though, I just had my tonsils out about 18 months ago, and though it was kind of rough having them taken out as an adult (an old one at that!), it’s been one of the better things I’ve done. I didn’t realize how awful they made me feel, but now that they’re gone I’ve been quite aware of the illnesses and pains that I have NOT had.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        I REALLY want to have them removed but my doctor says they don’t do it on adults unless they have 4+ Horrible Swollen Tonsil Incidents a year. I have 2-3 a year. The really bad part is that I have a really, really narrow airway generally, so swollen tonsils make me feel like I’m choking the whole time.

        What was the recovery like for you? I’ve heard it’s terrible…

        1. Lemon Zinger*

          Might be time to visit a different doctor, probably an ENT. It sounds like your tonsils are really impacting your life in a negative way; getting them out would make you a lot happier and healthier!

            1. J. F.*

              Yeah but sometimes there’s a loophole for chronic conditions. Or the ENT can massage whatever prior auth is required. I second the ‘maybe see an ENT!’ Good luck!

              1. fposte*

                Oh, yeah, definitely both/and it. It’s just sometimes useful to find out from insurance why they balked if it was them.

        2. Buggy Crispino*

          I had 2-3 upper infections a year, but not always my tonsils. I got a ton of “sinus infections.” I also had deep pockets behind the tonsils, so I got these awful things called tonsil stones. I think the pairing of the two issues is what convinced my ENT doc to do the removal.

          The surgery wasn’t too bad, had an 8(-ish) AM appointment, and I was sent back home by 2 PM. The first 3 days I had decided that either the world was full of wimps or that I had the worlds highest pain threshold. I didn’t realize that I was so full of narcotic pain killers that I just wasn’t aware of the pain. Days 4 through 14 were a lot rougher and I was convinced I had made a terrible mistake and was going to die! I had it done on a Friday and took the entire following week off work. One thing that I found out later, though, is that when most doctors take you off the narcotics, they generally give you some kind of topical throat spray they call a tonsil fire extinguisher (which I never got!) So I think the pain management can be handled better if you’re aware there are options.

          One of the things that was the worst for me was that the surgeon decided to reshape my uvula (though we never discussed it). Even after the pain was gone, I felt like I had a piece of scotch tape stuck on the back of my throat. That actually took a few months to go away – even though it stopped hurting early on, the annoyance was almost enough to make me insane.

        3. Observer*

          It sounds like a visit to an ENT is in order. This doesn’t sound too normal. Also, there might be something you could try before surgery – but an ENT is much more likely to know that than you GP.

        4. neverjaunty*

          Get a new doctor. It’s one thing to say they don’t take tonsils out of healthy, unaffected adults, but ridiculous to say that you have to put up with 2-3 horrible incidents a year and you’re one short of when they will allow you to have them pulled. FFS.

        5. Bluebell*

          My sister had her tonsils removed at age 19. It was painful for her the day after but seemed to recover pretty quickly after that. Good luck if you go ahead with it.

        6. Security SemiPro*

          Tell your doc they are wrong and get them out!

          Recovery as an adult is awful. It’s still the best thing I’ve done for myself, health wise, as an adult. I’ve gone from catching every thing to only getting sick rarely and when I do I get better faster.

          I had my sister stay with me for recovery and spent it high as a kite and eating popcicles. It was survivable, but not particularly fun. If you are over 25, I’d suggest two weeks off work.

    3. Lore*

      For me, if it’s not strep, Advil sometimes helps a surprising amount. Swallowing them past the inflamed tonsils is of course awful but after that… also last winter when I had the flu and horribly swollen tonsils they gave me 48 hours of steroids. This is apparently not the best idea as a rule for other reasons but it was a miracle at the time.

    4. Marcela*

      My husband used to suffer from inflamed tonsils all the time, and somehow we were starting to get used to the idea that he needed them to be removed, when he discovered he had tonsil stones. They are small pieces of calcified material that form in the tonsils and can produce bad breath, pain when swallowing and even ear ache. They can be removed with a water flosser, and since he is aware of them and now keeps the area under surveillance, he hasn’t had any problem at all.

    5. Jen*

      Before bed I like to gargle with ice cold vodka, it seems to numb my throat long enough to fall asleep. I keep a glass of ice on the bed stand for when the throat wakes me back up in the night, it’s usually cold enough as plain ice/water that I don’t need to get up for anything else as long as I’m mostly asleep

      1. Wendy Darling*

        I actually got into the whiskey. It’s helping and I’m way less upset about my awful tonsils because I’m tipsy. I regret nothing!

        1. Marillenbaum*

          I firmly believe in the medicinal powers of whiskey. My old college roommate’s mother used to advise gargling a shot of ice-cold gin, but then they were hard-core WASPs and gin was like air to them.

          1. Wendy Darling*

            I’m feeling much better today so I am heartily endorsing the whiskey. Even though I’m pretty sure this is a virus and I’m just over the hump generally now… WHISKEY.

        2. Jen*

          Ha! That’s the spirit ;) if you combine it with your tea with lemon and honey it’s almost medicinal. Rum in neocitrine is nice too, assuming your liver can handle it and you haven’t had any acetaminophen. On a more preventative note I used to have chronic bronchitis and I found that vitamin d and fermented cod liver oil help me prevent some infections and seem to lessen the impact (no pneumonia, or multiple courses of antibiotics), if your doctors won’t support surgery maybe you can get them to at least support prevention somehow?

    6. Chaordic One*

      Not just any old hot tea, but there’s a kind called “Throat Coat” that is made by a company called “Traditional Medicinals” that is very good. I found it at my supermarket, but it is in the department with the over-the-counter medicines, not with the ordinary tea. It is very good, soothing and kind of sweet to the taste and it does sort of coat your throat. I think that you might also find it in drugstores and in health food stores.

      I’ve also heard about some people who gargled with peppermint schnapps and they said it helped, although I would be worried about mixing it with any other medicines that you might be taking and having a bad interaction.

  27. 14 years*

    I really want to move to Australia. Anyone know how easy or difficult that process is? Like visa wise or finding a home? I always wonder too “but where would you work?” I’ve worked in an office for years in admin, so it’s like why would any company there go through all the paperwork and hassle just for a low position, you know? Maybe I could change fields-it’s so frustrating wanting to change and not being able to.

    1. Catface*

      I’ve done it, but there was already a job in place and they gave us housing until we found an apartment. Visas should be easy; Australia likes visitors. I had no trouble getting an open-ended work visa once I was in the country.

      Depending on where you go it can be very expensive to get set up. Apartments don’t generally come with all the appliances, for one thing.

    2. ScarlettNZ*

      I don’t mean to be the voice of doom but it’s not actually that easy to immigrate to Australia unless you are in an occupation which is considered a ‘skilled migrant’. There are options for temporary work visas and working holidaymaker visas. If you take a look on the Australian immigration website you’ll find heaps of information (I won’t post the link as it will get caught up in moderation). Good luck!!

    3. Rebooting*

      One thing to be aware of is that the housing market in Australia is terrible right now, unless you want to live out in the country. My place cost $400K eight years ago; it’s doubled to $800K now. Renting is a crapshoot, depending on what city you’re looking at; you’re not going to find anything without having to have flatmates in Sydney unless you can afford a very high rent, for example.

  28. LadyKelvin*

    Any tips for selling things on craigslist or ebay? We are selling all of our furniture on craigslist and a bunch of books (textbooks) and other random stuff on ebay and we just are not getting any hits. It might be the time of year where no one is moving/buying used furniture, but we’ve got photos and pretty cheap prices since we really would just like to get rid of the stuff. We’ve also done our due diligence and looked at what everyone else was selling their stuff at and priced it similarly. Part of the ebay problem is that we have to charge for shipping and most places don’t, but some of the stuff will cost more to ship than what we are charging, so we aren’t going to pay someone to take our things.

    1. Nicole*

      I haven’t have much luck with Craigslist but I have with the OfferUp app if you have a phone. I like that you can post something once and it stays in the app indefinitely without having to renew it, plus you can chat in the app with people who are interested in your item.

      1. SophieChotek*

        I second OfferUp especially for larger pieces like furniture that will be more local sales. My mother has been downsizing and sold some larger pieces on OfferUp for decent prices.

        I’ve sold stuff over the years on eBay (not a lot, maybe a couple hundred things in total), but they are all smaller items that one can post.

    2. Aphrodite*

      I do pretty good with CL when I sell something but my intent, like yours, is less to make money than to get rid of it quickly.

      First, I assess the piece objectively. Is it really something someone would want, or do I just have an attachment/history to it? Is it in nearly new to very good condition? (Many things that are “good” or “fair”get put in the free section or given to my favorite thrift store, but I am not hesitant to toss them either.) What is the absolute lowest price I would take for them? I price my items to move quickly because I do not like negotiating. I will leave the ad up for one-two weeks. Then if the item hasn’t sold, I’ll take it off for a week or so and then try a second time, maybe even lowering the price. If there’s no sale that time I remove it from CL and donate it to the thrift store.

      Second, good pictures and good description. Try for good lighting, several angles, close up (on fabric if it’s upholstered), and then in your description leave out anything irrelevant to the buyer. What you paid for it and what you do with it falls in that category; the fact that it belong to your late beloved grandmother is irrelevant. Just the facts: size, manufacturer, age, color (be as specific as possible; if it’s white is it snow white, creamy white, off white, white with beige, etc.), length, width, depth, type of material or wood, and note any damage at all. Any! Has it been in a home with cats, dogs or other pets? And if so, did you clean it thoroughly? How? Do pets get on the furniture or has it been covered? Has it been in a smoker’s home even if the person never smoked inside? That smell smokers have on their clothes and in their bodies does transfer to upholstered furniture as any non-smoker can attest.

      Third, if you are firm on your price say that. Don’t get negative and say “no lowball offers,” just politely note the price is firm.

      Fourth, give an idea of where you live by using the cross streets section on CL. That will let people know if they are willing to make the trip.

      Fifth, give times when you are available to meet such as “5:00-8:00 pm on weekdays and all day Saturday and Sunday. Weekdays are do-able if you can come to [my workplace] from 9:00-4:00.” Be as flexible as you can.

      Sixth, be prepared. People flake out. Do not hold it for anyone. Also, if it’s furniture, can you bring it outside shortly before the potential buyers come? Letting people in your house can be a risk. Take care to protect yourself and your home (and children and pets). I close all window coverings before anyone comes over. If someone has to come in, close doors to other rooms. Remove anything that is valuable and put it out of sight. Make your house boring and never do this alone.

      I’ve never had a problem nor am I worried because I take standard precautions–and I think that’s sufficient. You can often pick up cues about the people from the way they write their emails, especially their initial one. Good luck!

    3. Claire R.*

      I’ve sold a bunch of things on Craigslist and eBay, though I’m no pro. Things go quickly on Craigslist if you offer them for free or a pretty deep discount: people on there are not interested in paying even what a thrift store would charge, unless your items are extremely in-demand. Pricing your stuff the same as what other sellers have it for doesn’t always work, since you don’t know if they’re actually able to sell it at that price. And the season does matter; more people are moving and need furniture in the summer than the winter, unfortunately.

      Maybe if you just want to get rid of it, donate it to a charity thrift shop? Some will even come pick up large items for you.

      1. LadyKelvin*

        Yeah we will eventually donate the stuff that’s left. We have about 2 months before we move so we decided to start selling the stuff now and see what happens. But we’d like to get something for it because we are selling all of our furniture and will have to buy new after we move. Plus the move is expensive and my new job is only going to cover about half of it.

    4. Stylish Entrepreneur*

      I do quite a bit of online selling, though mostly women’s clothing on Poshmark. I actually buy things to flip, and follow a bunch of other eBay sellers on Instagram. One of the biggest things they stress for success is clear photos, and key words. Your key words make or break your sale, because people will search for what they want, and so you want to be using the right key words. Another thing is listing consistently to get the most activity, but if you’re just cleaning out things you no longer need, then obviously that may not work for you. Also, try adding the shipping cost info your price, and offering “free shipping” – this is mostly a mental trick to make people think they’re getting a better deal when they’re paying the same thing.

      Other venues to consider may be Fulfilment by Amazon for books, or Facebook Marketplace & Buy/Sell/Trade groups.

    5. AliceBD*

      Another option to consider is Facebook buy/sell/trade groups for your area. I know a lot of people who choose those over Craiglist when buying because they are connected to the person’s Facebook profile, so that seems safer.

  29. FDCA In Canada*

    On a better note: I got a food processor for Christmas from my parents! I’m pretty excited and I’ve been hunting down recipes to try with it that I couldn’t properly do before (or would involve a metric ton of grating, like potato pancakes and coleslaw). This goes nicely with one of my new year’s resolutions to branch out in my cooking more, so I’m pleased!

    1. What do you use your food processor for? So far I’m on it for grating vegetables, making pastry dough (still need to practice there) and making hummus/dips, but anything else I’m missing?

    2. Favourite cookbooks or recipe blogs? I’m a proficient-but-not-fantastic cook, and my go-tos are Smitten Kitchen, Budget Bytes, and the ever-popular “Google what I want and find the top result that looks promising.” And randomly surfing around Pinterest. Where do you find your recipes?

    1. Stephanie*

      Serious Eats is good, although I’ve found they have a lot less content.

      Cookbooks: anything from America’s Test Kitchen is good.

    2. animaniactoo*

      1) Graham cracker pie/cheesecake crusts….

      2) recipes mostly from epicurious.com, foodnetwork.com, allrecipes.com. I really want to get the Food Lab cookbook by Kenji Lopez-Alt who writes for Serious Eats. I have a range of cookbooks, so I can’t really say that I have favorites, but rather favorites in categories. For newer/expanding cooks, my mom really likes giving Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        How To Cook Everything is SUCH a good first or early cookbook because it’s just so versatile. It’s not my favorite but if I come home from the farmer’s market with something I don’t know what to do with it’s what I go to. It does exactly what it says on the tin — it tells you how to cook everything!

      2. CAA*

        I got The Food Lab for Christmas, and I find I’m slightly disappointed. Most everything that’s in the book is also on Serious Eats, which I’ve been reading for a long time, so there’s not much that’s new.

    3. LadyKelvin*

      Taste of Home cookbooks are nice because they are submitted by readers so they have at least made them, and many are tested in the Taste Home Kitchen as well. I also use my Betty Crocker cookbook for all the basics. It’s a great resource. If you are into baking (bread, sweets, basically anything that goes in the oven and uses flour) I can’t recommend the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion. I use it almost every day. It is more than just recipes, it has explanations for why you do everything and how to do all the weird things that recipes call for.

    4. Dan*

      Hm. I have a high end blender and a KitchenAid, so the food processor is mostly redundant. The KitchenAid, plus its attachments, are definitely not cheap. But, I live by myself in a small place, so really, the food processor would take up extra space, and while the blender is small for mimicking a food processor, it’s adequate for one or two people.

      One thing my blender likes to advertise but I haven’t tried are nut butters.

    5. Wendy Darling*

      If I could only have one electronic device in my kitchen, it would be my food processor. (If you got a Cuisinart, check the blade recall list! No metal shards in your food!)

      I use it to make things like pesto, grate cheese, chop garlic if I need loads, and make things like breading for meats. I also use it for soups and sauces sometimes (it’s not as good as a proper blender but I don’t have a blender). It’s also great for making pizza dough — kind of kneads it FOR me!

      As far as cookbooks and recipe blogs, I second the recommendation of Serious Eats. I can also heartily recommend The Food Lab, the giant cookbook by one of the guys who works on Serious Eats. It’s great because it explains *why* certain things work the way they do, so you can apply that knowledge elsewhere.

      How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman does not contain the best recipes in the universe, but all the ones I’ve done have been solidly good and it does tell you how to cook EVERYTHING.

      If you like Indian food I have really been enjoying Made In India by Meera Sodha. She also has a blog with lots of recipes if you want to try before you buy. She makes Indian food really accessible — the book does a great job of explaining what various things are and how they’re used.

      If you don’t mind getting books from England, Nigel Slater has some nice books of quick-cooking meals and I like them a lot for weeknights.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, I hadn’t heard of him, and I like the sound of his stuff–it also looks like he’s been published in America in editions that Americanize the measurements, for people like me that don’t want to deal with figuring out the conversions.

        1. Wendy Darling*

          I actually got a food scale a while back so I do everything by weight when I can, and it changes from metric to imperial with one button-press so I cook like 50% metric and 50% imperial now (SO is from a metric country and brought cookbooks).

          I also am always a little nervous about the measurement conversions because I’ve read reviews for a few cookbooks where weights were converted to volumes shockingly badly. (Grams to ounces is not so bad but grams to cups gets hairy…) Sometimes I get the UK versions of cookbooks on purpose.

          1. fposte*

            Some cookbooks written in American measurements are shockingly bad without even conversion to blame :-). I probably wouldn’t bother with a converted baking book, but I’m figuring this won’t be as fussy.

            But I’m also weirdly intimidated by baking in imperial, for some reason. I think I’ve gotten so accustomed to the wobbliness of volume that weight seems very exacting, and also like I’ll make a much bigger mess that way. I’m impressed that you switch between the two.

            1. Wendy Darling*

              I find weights super easy and I like it because I have to clean less things. I usually just set whatever bowl I’m chucking stuff into on a scale, tare it before I add any new thing I need to weigh, and dump the desired ingredient straight out of the container into my bowl until it hits the right weight.

              Also means I can sift flour straight into the bowl rather than try to sift into measuring cups, because how do you EVEN.

              With cooking as opposed to baking you can definitely afford more wiggle room. Although I did memorably attempt a shepherd’s pie recipe that called for less than half the quantity of potatoes actually required to cover the pie, and had to send my SO on an emergency potato run. I hate it when clearly no one has tested a recipe before I got to it. :/

        1. Wendy Darling*

          I have on occasion realized I was out of panko and just dropped a slice of bread in the food processor.

    6. Nicole*

      I don’t use my food processor too often, but I like it for making homemade hashbrowns. I also use it for baking, particularly when I’m using oatmeal instead of flour since I have to grind it up for the banana breakfast muffins I like to make. Since it’s already dirty at that point I use it to puree bananas and add the other wet ingredients instead of mixing by hand.

    7. bassclefchick*

      I got a food processor for Christmas, too! I resisted for a long time because I didn’t want another appliance taking up space, but I used it to make a recipe from The Outlander Kitchen (yup, based on the books by Diana Gabaldon) and I love it.

      Food Network almost always has recipes that require a food processor. Try Alton Brown’s recipes.

    8. ChemMoose*

      I don’t know what type of food processor you got, and if it was new or not – just be careful if it’s a Cuisinart made 2015 or earlier. They had a recall on the main slicing blade. Super easy to get it replaced though.

      1) I make a vegan meatloaf (made with lentils), and cheese crackers.

      2) minimalistbaker.com; pinterest is awesome.

    9. Triceratops*

      Veggie burgers! Makes it suuuuper easy to blend up beans + onion + garlic + other veggies into a paste that you can bake or fry.

    10. AdAgencyChick*

      I make sauces with it quite often. Pesto is super easy, and if you add a little more oil to loosen the sauce up, you can then mix it up with raw shrimp, bake for like 10 minutes, and voila! A tasty main dish! Also a nut butter-like stuff to put on diced roast beets — basically, you saute your favorite nuts (I like pistachios) and a smashed clove of garlic over low heat with olive oil, add salt, put that in the food processor, and mix the resulting sauce with the diced beets. SO GOOD.

      Also cauliflower “rice” — great for low-carb diets, and hell, it just tastes good. Cut the cauliflower into florets and process it down to rice grain-sized pieces, then saute for a few minutes with a little bit of oil. I could never accomplish this without a food processor!

    11. New Bee*

      I make fresh pasta and grind my own meat (e.g., chicken breasts/thighs) for meatballs. I also use it for breaking up vegetables (like butternut squash) after I roast them for soups. Sometimes I’ll even add the broth/cream and make the soup in it (I freeze a lot of soups and it’s easier to leave then a little chunky and then add more seasoning and use my immersion blender when I’m ready to eat).

    12. Mephyle*

      Unbaked vegan cookie dough balls – the kind made with ground nuts and ground dried fruit. There are uncountable recipes out there.

  30. AlaskaKT*

    Has anyone here been on TV? My husband and I have the chance to be on a reality TV show, and I’m not sure about it at all. We are in serious discussion with the producers and there are a lot of benifits, but I’ve never wanted to be on TV (and wouldn’t even watch us if we were on!).

    The only thing that’s kept me from flat saying no its it’s just one episode, then their done. I think I can handle a few weeks of someone following me around, but not longer than that!

    1. animaniactoo*

      I haven’t been on tv, but I do watch a bunch of reality tv. I think the main con is how prepared are you to deal with the assumptions that will be made about you? Misunderstandings about who you are and how your relationship works, and what people might say along those lines? How prepared are you to have people who have slightly more than mild interest to look into your background and find that one of you had a 2.5 gpa and barely graduated high school or some such publicly-ish available info? And be talking and broadcasting and spreading those kinds of things?

      1. AlaskaKT*

        This is one of my main issues. I don’t particularly want strangers interested in our day to day to the level that tv seems to bring.

        1. animaniactoo*

          For a one-episode thing (you are one episode in a series, it just happens to be following you that week rather than someone else?), it’s a lot less likely to happen to an uncomfortable level and anything that does is likely to blow over in a few weeks from what I’ve seen… on the other hand I am also not someone who obsessively follows or has more than a passing interest in the lives of people I watch on reality shows. So I could be underestimating that. I don’t think so based one what I do find when I occasionally trip over something I want to check out and Google for more info. Content/presentation matters. The more simple documentary like/less entertainment like it is, the lower the “public interest” in you as people is likely to be. If you’re familiar with MTV shows at all, people features on TrueLife are a lot less likely to garner extra interest than people featured on Catfish. That kind of thing.

    2. Stephanie*

      I haven’t, but a friend of mine is on a reality show. I was a bit worried, but I watched an episode and no one was throwing mimosas in anyone’s face or similar.

      Talking to her, I would just say be very clear upfront about what the show can and can’t film and clear everything with your job/spouse/family. She said she was very explicit about what could be filmed and had to clear a lot of things with her job before she agreed to do the show.

    3. Dan*

      Yes. I was an extra several times on CNN’s Burden of Proof show with Greta Van Sustern. There were only six extras, so it’s not like it was a whole crowd to blend into.

      Would I want to be the star or otherwise have a prominent role on a TV show? Hell no, at least not on a reality TV show.

      1. Alice*

        I ask because I can imagine a lot of bad outcomes that make me cringe – not necessarily likely outcomes I guess – and the benefits aren’t really coming to mind. Unless you all are performers or, I don’t know, chefs?

        1. AlaskaKT*

          We live remotely off grid, the show wants to help us make some upgrades to our property that are otherwise out of our budget for several years.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            Friends of mine had their backyard landscaped by a show on HGTV. The results were gorgeous, and everyone promptly forgot about their appearance on the show. If you’re on a competition show or a candid show with one cast throughout the season, it’s a little different than doing a one-off episode in home improvement– less intrusive, and people care less. Unless you’re outrageously horrible, like Amy from Amy ‘s Baking Company. It’s a matter of 42 or 22 minutes of prying into your life vs. 15-22 episodes of the same. If it’s the former, the benefits may outweigh the disadvantages.

            1. Alice*

              That does sound pretty significant. It sounds from some comments below like you’ve watched episodes – so you can get a sense of how professionally (or how kindly) the producers and the audience treat the participants. Good luck if you decide to go for it. And also if you don’t.

          2. Triceratops*

            Yeah, I think one episode of an HGTV-style show is not likely to incite a lot of interest into your background.

            I would still be mentally prepared for the possibility that otherwise innocuous footage might be cut to add some ~drama~ to the show. For example–You: “Should we get this thing?” Spouse: “I’m not sure. It might be too much so I don’t think so.” Becomes–You: “let’s get this thing” Spouse: “I don’t think so” *cue dramatic music and shots of either/both of you looking annoyed*

          3. the gold digger*

            Friends of mine in Memphis had their family room re-done by one of those shows. It turned out great and I don’t think it was too stressful for them, but then, it was about the redecorating and not about my friend and her family. I would never want a TV show about me personally – I hate being on camera and I want to control my own narrative.

    4. Cath in Canada*

      Some friends of ours did a home makeover show a few years ago. The wife was very worried that they’d edit it to make her look like a controlling nag, but they ended up editing it to make her look reasonable and her husband look like a lazy bum :D (the truth, of course, is somewhere in the middle, but somewhere in the middle doesn’t make for a great narrative).

      Before their show aired, they were all over Facebook saying things like “remember: nothing is real in reality TV” (which is true – the decision shown in the show is not the decision that they actually made). I think they were genuinely worried about how it would affect people’s opinions of them, but it was fine. Super weird to see people you know and a house you’ve been in on TV though!

      1. AlaskaKT*

        I’ve been worried about editing as well. The show isn’t particularly flattering for the people I’ve seen on there (they do need to “rescue” us after all). But if they put a well in for us, that’s a 10-20k expense. That would be something that would be worth looking like idiots on tv for.

        1. Grumpy*

          That’s so tempting.
          If it helps, it’s likely no one will remember or recognize you afterwards.
          I can only really remember three reality show people (and I doubt I’d ever recognize them in public): The marriage-survival reality show army/marine contestant couple (because they both cheated so much and had so many kids), the fiance who seemed to be only after the green card, and a brizedilla with a shrill voice who kept saying “but, I love it so!”
          Also, what the heck has society come to…

    5. EmmaLou*

      I can’t think of anyone on a reality show that it’s been ultimately GOOD for. Lots and lots and lots and lots of bad. You are brave.

    6. AlaskaKT*

      I’ve been worried about editing as well. The show isn’t particularly flattering for the people I’ve seen on there (they do need to “rescue” us after all). But if they put a well in for us, that’s a 10-20k expense. That would be something that would be worth looking like idiots on tv for.

    7. Aphrodite*

      No, nor would I. There is nothing that would horrify me more because I am a deeply private person. I loathe and fear social media, and I keep my online presence minimal with different user names for each place I go.

      The problem is that being on one of those shows is forever. It is not a one-time thing, and you are mistaken to think that. The show will be around for a long, long time; it will eventually get online and we all know when that happens it’s forever. It would be rare if it did happen but you could pick up some weirdo who for unknown reasons focuses on you.

      Just be sure you really are willing to accept these possible outcomes. They may never happen and it may be just fine … but there are no guarantees.

    8. Nye*

      I was, years ago. Just for an episode, and not as the main focus. I was one of five outside “experts” working with the recurring contestants. It was a really interesting experience, and I don’t regret it.

      I did see some creative editing that made another expert look kind of bad, though I understood the reasons behind it. If you’re being featured, this would be my biggest concern: that they’ll edit to make it seem that your family is terrible or bonkers. If it’s an ongoing show, how are featured families usually presented? Would you feel OK being presented that way?

      Another consideration is that it will come up in Internet searches of your name for years to come. I’m actually in IMDB because I got a named credit. It makes for fun cocktail party conversion for me, but it’s worth considering if it will potentially impact your future job searches, etc.

      Another thought, if you’re willing to do some internet sleuthing, is to try to contact folks who have been featured previously and ask if they’d do it again. They probably can’t tell you specifics – I imagine they signed some kind of NDA – but might be willing to give you an idea of whether or not it was worth it.

    9. neverjaunty*

      Keep in mind that you have zero control over how you will be portrayed. They will edit it for entertainment value – not for truth. If they think it would be best to make you look obnoxious or stupid in the episode, they will.

    10. BuildMeUp*

      One other thing you may have already considered – are there any tax implications for the show installing the well? Is it set up so that receiving it in return for being on the show could be considered a form of income, or will there be taxes or other expenses related to having it on your property?

    11. HannahS*

      I’d say, watch other episodes, and you’ll get an idea of how it’ll be edited to portray you. You can be aware, though, and try to avoid producer-induced drama. I know a couple that was on a home-reno show and like on all home-reno shows when something went “wrong,” the producers asked them for a comment. They said something along the lines of, “It’s ok, these things happen” and when the producers asked for something stronger they held firm and refused to criticize the team. It was a combination of them actually being really nice people, and wanting to ensure a good protrayal or Orthodox Jews.

      The fact that they were on the show is a neighbourhood anecdote and kind of “fun fact” but no one really cares otherwise. Also, the producers made them present the hosts with yarmulkes and dance the hora around the kitchen table…so you win some, you lose some.

  31. Myrin*

    Thanks to recommendations both here and on tumblr, I’ve started watching Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries while I was sick last week (I’m finally better, thank god) and I’m absolutely loving it! I’m on episode three or four of series two and I continue to be absolutely delighted by everything about it. I’m loving all the characters (which is very rare for me – I’m somewhat known for always disliking the main character of any given series but not even that has come true here!) and the cases are interesting and unique!

    I’ll definitely buy the DVDs, not only because I want to own this stuff and support them, but also because I need to watch everything with subtitles again. With the Australian accent and somewhat fast speaking, I feel a bit like back when I first started watching things in English and it’s Not Nice. I mean, I understand everything that’s going on but I find myself missing subtleties and little clues just because I didn’t quite catch a phrase and it’s driving me bananas! Doesn’t hinder my enjoyment of the whole thing, though.

    With that said, I’m off to another episode now! :D

    1. printrovert*

      I love love love that show! I tried to read the books, but I am just not a cozy mystery person.

    2. Claire (Scotland)*

      It’s such a good show. My best friend made me start watching it when I was visiting her, and I love it.

    3. Rahera*

      It’s a lovely show. The best costumes and interior design, and a lot of fun all round. Don’t let the accent/subtitles thing get you down. Aussie and kiwi accents can be very tricky (speaking as a kiwi here). Happy watching :).
      Dr Blake is also fun, by the way.

      1. neverjaunty*

        I always watch shows with the CC on, so I didn’t even notice!

        I also love this show. I particularly enjoy that the staid detective… isn’t so staid, and that the police are actually very good at their jobs. And that Miss Fisher is genuinely nice to people. I am very sick of shows with irascible misanthrope heroes.

  32. AvonLady Barksdale*

    There’s an update to my house drama, thankfully one that’s not particularly dramatic. I posted here last month about how my landlord decided to sell this house, and we’re barely 6 months into a 2-year lease. I was concerned that he would have an “out” of some sort that would require us to move, but I consulted an attorney who told me that since the lease I signed doesn’t have a provision for sale (and many signed in my state do have that provision), that we are subject to state laws. Those laws say that our lease is binding– we can’t be kicked out as long as we’re paying rent and abiding by the terms of the lease– and has to be transferred to the new owner(s). BIG sigh of relief there! After a lot of thinking and soul-searching, we decided not to make an offer on the house ourselves. I emailed my landlord the other day and said, “We’ll continue to rent through the end of our lease, and we look forward to meeting the new owners.” He didn’t argue, but he did say he’s coming by soon to put a For Sale By Owner sign in our yard. I am NOT looking forward to that, but I also know that I’m under no obligation to answer the door if people come knocking to ask questions. So that issue is handled for now. I doubt this house will sell that quickly, especially at what he’s asking. Unless someone wants to put a lot of money down, their mortgage payments would exceed our rent, and we’re still here through June 2018. Someone might want to buy this as a tear-down, but again, they can’t tear it down until we’re out. So who knows. But I will say that if someone comes along and wants the house or the land and is willing to pay us a nice sum to get out? Open to it.

    The second issue we had with them was their failure to forward their freaking mail and their shady reluctance to give us their address so we can forward things we get. We got some mail yesterday for the landlord’s wife that looked really important and was in a security envelope. They haven’t lived here since 2014! If she’s getting bills or reports from a doctor’s office (this looked like it was from a diagnostic center), then they should have her correct address. We were so annoyed, we just wrote “return to sender” on the envelope and put it back outside. If they object at all, we’ll just tell them the weather was so bad we didn’t want anyone to have to deal with it (true) and this was just easier, and if they would just give us their address, we could simply forward the mail directly with no hassle to anyone.

    I think I’ve just reached a point in my life where I dislike dealing with people who don’t think things through in a way that causes other people (namely, me and my boyfriend) problems.

    1. copy run start*

      You’re under no obligation to handle their mail for years (!), especially when they are planning on selling the house from under you. They’ll figure it out when they start getting calls from places about returned mail.* Hopefully your new owners will be good landlords!

      *I live in a title state, where you hold your vehicle title. A few weeks ago, I received a vehicle title for someone else listed at my address in the mail. I feel like that dude owes me a freaking reward for sending that back to the DMV.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        It is so, so ridiculous. The first couple of times, ok, I get it. But over two years later? No way. Our last landlord, in NYC, was so lovely– he repeatedly told me that if we ever got mail for him at our address that he would reimburse us for the postage. I think we may have forwarded one thing and he thanked us profusely. He and his wife eventually bought the place across the hall (condo) and we had a friendly, cordial relationship. I miss them.

        1. bearing*

          It strikes me that if you were the landlord in a situation like this, a convenient thing to do would be to leave a reasonably-sized supply of stamped pre-addressed manila envelopes. If it was a *nice* ex-landlord I wouldn’t mind dropping a piece of mail into an envelope and mailing it forward.

    2. Sibley*

      I have the same issue with the owner not changing their address. Except I get mail for 3 adults!

      Tax forms, DMV stuff, bills, you name it I’ve gotten it. I took a pile into the post office last year and said very clearly that they didn’t live there and I don’t want their mail. That took care of it until very recently, so I may have to repeat the process. The funny thing is, it’s actually illegal to not change your address with DMV where I live!

      1. hermit crab*

        The previous tenant in my apartment apparently never updated his car registration (!), so I get his speed-camera tickets in the mail.

        I have also received (not all for the same person) Christmas cards, tax forms, large packages (there was one box that was at least 3ft tall), those alumni newsletters that tell you who from each class year has gotten married/had kids/died, insurance documents, and credit card offers. I could have stolen multiple people’s identities by now.

        FORWARD YOUR MAIL, PEOPLE! It’s not that hard!

      2. Marcela*

        The post office took the mail? I tried to do that a year ago, with the huge pile of letters for the former tenants of my house, and they refused to help me. They told me to mark the letters with return to sender, but they kept delivering them to my home!

    3. CM*

      Just start returning everything to sender, and tell your LL that you will be doing that since they won’t give your their address for mail forwarding. You’re under no obligation to handle your landlord’s mail.

  33. dear liza dear liza*

    Help me end my book drought! I feel like I keep starting books but they aren’t catching my attention. I usually read 3-4 books a week, but I’m just not feeling it.

    I like books that…
    1. are fiction
    2. have strong female characters
    3. have some sense of humor to them
    4. aren’t too graphic in terms of violence

    I lean towards mysteries, historical fiction, YA, and some chicklit. Authors I like include Janet Evanovich, Elizabeth Peters, and Liane Moriarty.

    I don’t like books that
    1. are sci fi or fantasy
    2. mysteries that have lots of chapters from the villain’s inner monologues/pov.
    3. are dark/depressing
    4. but also, cozies/cutesy mysteries are ugh.

    I absolutely loathed GONE GIRL, THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, and THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO. (No judgment on the zillions who loved those books- they just weren’t for me.)

    I would love to hear your book suggestions!

    1. Christy*

      The Mary Russell novels! They meet all your criteria and there are a bunch of them. They are by Laurie R. King, and the first is The Beekeeper’s Apprentice.

    2. Amber*

      I’m a huge fan of historical fiction, you should look into Phillipa Gregory and her Tutor Court series and The Cousin’s War series. She writes her books from the viewpoint of the queens of history. She wrote them in the order that grabbed her but I’d suggest if they interest you, read them in the order of actual timelines. There is a great suggested reading order part way down here: http://literatehousewife.com/2007/08/philippa-gregory-in-chronological-order/

    3. bassclefchick*

      Try the Coffee House Mysteries by Cleo Coyle. They aren’t cutesy, but they’re a fun read. Donna Andrews’ Meg Lanslow series is good too.

      1. Northie Southern*

        I love the Scrapbook Mysteries by Laura Childs. They’re set in New Orleans, and have a strong female character – divorced from her husband, trying to avoid falling in with the uppity crowd, running her own Scrapbook shop. Childs also writes a few other series with the same concept, one about various teas, and I forget the other. Also the Coffeehouse Mysteries by Cleo Coyle, fairly similar concept, just more about competing with the towns crazy lady, from what I’ve read so far!

        1. Northie Southern*

          Didn’t mean to reply to you, but it’s funny we both recommended Coffehouse! Great taste! ;)

    4. printrovert*

      Try Alan Bradley’s Flavia De Leuce series (mysteries/ya/historical fiction) and Here be Dragons (historical fiction) by Sharon Kay Penman.

      1. Dear Liza dear liza*

        I love the Spellman series. Oddly, I don’t like her non-Spellman stories. Have you had better luck?

        1. Owly*

          Looking at them now, they seem really familiar but I really can’t remember anything about them. So I guess not :)

    5. Tex*

      Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, both by Hilary Mantel. (And she won back to back Booker Prizes for them.)

    6. Aisling*

      I second th Flavia de Luce mysteries, and for a Janet Evanovich read alike, try author Jennifer Crusie. My favorite of hers is “Agnes and the Hitman”- it’s hilarious!

      1. Dear Liza dear liza*

        I’ve read and loved all of Jennifer Crusie’s books, all the way back to her Harlequin days. Getting Rid of Bradley is one of my all-time favorites. It seems like she’s not writing anymore?

      2. Violet Heathcote*

        I loved Bet me and Manhunting by Jennifer Crusie!
        Historical – I recommend the 4 book Adventurers quartet series by Stephanie Laurens, and anything by Julia Quinn and Eloisa James.

    7. Chickaletta*

      Orphan Train. It came out a couple years ago I think but I just read it and it was really good. It fits your description of what you lean towards. I thought Girl on the Train wasn’t that good either.

      1. Dear Liza dear liza*

        Yes, I enjoyed this one, although I struggle with books that have dual past/present storylines. In this case, I found the story set in the past riveting. The other was okay, but not as strong.

        1. Bluebell*

          Speaking of dual timelines and with a similar title, I just finished Orphans of the Carnival and enjoyed it. The present timeline is very minor but the past timeline based on the life of Julia Pastrana was very good.
          I’m enjoying the suggestions in this thread. I also like th coffeehouse series and love Jennifer crusie. One author I haven’t seen mentioned is Cathleen Schine.

        2. Chickaletta*

          Yes, that’s the trouble with dual timelines.

          Oh, I just remembered a good series I liked was the Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne mysteries by Julia Spencer Fleming. Clare is an Episcopal priest in a small New England town, Russ is the local married police chief. Clare has a knack for getting tied up in the town’s mysteries and there’s a little chemistry between the two of them.

          1. dear liza dear liza*

            Oh, the Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne books are wonderful! It’s been too long since the last one.

    8. Loopy*

      So normally I am all about sic-fi fantasy and not into YA at all, but oh goodness, And I Darken by Kiersten White was amazing. Everytime I share it, I feel like the blurb doesn’t do it *any* justice. I *think* it’s YA (but it seemed to be one of those borderline YA/Adult books if it was) and it’s *slightly* alternate history but very very very well researched. If you like historical fiction, this is well done enough that it should absolutely fit the bill. It made me scamper off to research aspects that fascinated me!

      If anyone else has read it, please help me out here!!!!

    9. CAA*

      I am not sure if these would be too much sci-fi/fantasy, but try Gail Carriger’s books. They’re an intriguing bit of genre-bending Steampunk/Mystery/Romance.

      Charlaine Harris – Aurora Teagarden series
      Deanna Raybourn – start with Lady Julia Grey series, but read her stand-alones too
      Amy Patricia Meade
      Carola Dunn – Daisy Dalrymple series, try a couple and if they get too cozy you can stop
      Courtney Milan – romance, but she writes excellent strong women
      Darynda Jones – might be too much fantasy/paranormal, but worth trying the first one or two
      Deborah Coonts – Lucky series
      Diane Mott Davidson – might be too cozy
      Hank Philippi Ryan
      Jacqueline Winspear – just recommended her to someone last week. I think you’d like Maisie Dobbs.
      Jasper Fforde – I love Thursday Next, not sure if there’s too much fantasy for you.
      K.J. Larsen – kind of a mad-cap capers series about an inept PI
      Kate Carlisle – cozies, but not too cozy
      Kathryn Miller Haines – WWII
      Lauren Willig – maybe not the pink carnation series (those are very cozy mystery/romance), but everything else she writes fits your criteria
      Margaret Maron – Deborah Knott series
      Mary Anna Evans – Faye Longchamp series
      Nancy Martin – Blackbird sisters series
      Priscilla Royal – medieval abbey setting
      Sharan Newman – medieval Paris
      Sharyn McCrumb – several series
      Susan Wittig Albert – China Bayles series
      Tasha Alexander – Lady Emily series
      Tracy / Teresa Grant – spies in the Napoleonic wars

      1. SophieChotek*

        I will definitely second the Tracy/Teresa Malcom & Suzanne Rannoch Series set during the Napoleonic Wwars; the research is quite good.

        Yes, I like Priscilla Royal’s medieval mysteries series with Abbess of Tyndale Priory

        I will also second Jacqueline Winspeare’s post-WWI Maisie Dobbs series (though the last few have rather bored me)

    10. Dr. KMnO4*

      Sue Grafton writes about a female PI. Her books are pretty good.
      Meg Cabot (who wrote the Princess Diaries) has some good romance novels.
      Outlander is interesting historical fiction, I’m in the middle of the first one right now. I’ve heard the plot really doesn’t go anywhere after a while, though.
      Anne George’s Southern Sisters books are good.
      The Magician’s Assistant by Ann Patchett. Actually I would recommend all of her books except the first one, which I despised.
      I’m not sure what you mean by cozies/cutesy mysteries, but I don’t think any of the above fit that category.

      1. dear liza dear liza*

        A cozy is generally a light-hearted mystery series with an amateur sleuth, often female, at the helm. Even though she has no professional ties to crime or justice, she inexplicitly finds people continually dying in her Teapot Store, and she has to solve the crime. In many, she has a romantic interest who IS part of the law and order establishment. She is usually seen as less ept or competent because, well, she’s not part of the establishment. That’s a dynamic I really hate. Because these are lighter, they also are less verbally graphic, and the sleuth tends to “curse” by saying things like “Gee whillikers!” That’s the cutesy part I can’t stand.

        So yeah, Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone series would not be cozy. Kinsey is not inept or cute! I stopped around R but may need to revisit it.

        1. Dr. KMnO4*

          Ah, thanks for the clarification. I also would not care for those kinds of mysteries. Reminds me of the TV show “Murder She Wrote”. Inexplicable deaths abound!

          The Southern Sisters mysteries do have inexplicable death syndrome but less of the cutesy stuff like the non-swearing, if I remember correctly. Definitely amateur sleuths, though.

      2. Sami*

        Seconding Sue Grafton! I love Kinsey!

        Also seconding: the dislike of cozy mysteries. I know they’re very popular but they just aren’t my cup of tea. Pun intended. :)

    11. SophieChotek*

      I would suggest

      Maggie Hope mystery series set in WW2 Britain by Sara Elia MacNeal.
      The research seems pretty solid; anyone who spends 4+ pages in the afterward citing sources (even if they are secondary not primary research) makes me happy

      Bess Crawford WwI series by Charles Todd

      Fiona Buckley’s Elizabethan England Mystery series with Mistress Ursula Blanchard

      might consider Megan Whalen Turner’s Attolia/Eddis series — the main character is a man (Gen) but the women are strong and complex too. (The first book THE THIEF, is my least favourite, but one really needs to read that to make the rest of the series make any sense.) Set in a vaguely Byznantine/Grecian world, but not really

    12. Aurora Leigh*

      Anne Perry — I adore her Thomas and Charlotte Pitt mysteries! They are set in the late 1800s in Britain and Charlotte is a very strong clever character. Some of the murders can be a little gruesome though.

      Rhys Bowen — she writes several mystery series. I especially liked the Her Royal Spyness series, set on the 1930s, the main character is a distant cousin to the royal family but has to try to support herself. They’re fun and funny!

      1. SophieChotek*

        I agree – I like Anne Perry’s Charlotte/Thomas Pitt Series. (Not so much lately, but generally yes). Also I do think Hester is a strong character – (Monk/Latterly) series by Anne Perry

      2. bassclefchick*

        OH! I just read a biography on Anne Perry! It was by Peter Graham and the title was Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century. If you didn’t know, she and a friend killed the friend’s mom when they were teenagers. The book was a bit dry in places, but it was absolutely fascinating! But then, I’m a true crime junkie. LOL

        1. the gold digger*

          Yeah, I had to stop reading her books once I discovered she and her best friend bashed the mom’s head in with a brick when they were teenagers. I have a hard time separating the art from the artist, which is why I wish artists would shut up about their political views. I don’t want to know that stuff about them.

          1. DeadQuoteOlympics*

            I had the same reaction – once I found out, I couldn’t go back to enjoying the books. Peter Jackson made a film of the murder case called Heavenly Creatures.

            It’s not politically-based at all,, just personality, but I really wish I didn’t know anything about Aretha Franklin the person for the same reason (although I love her music so much it hasn’t stopped me listening– but I feel vaguely guilty!).

          2. HannahS*

            Yeah, me too. Damn Orson Scott Card is awful homophobia and terrific books. Can’t enjoy them anymore.

          3. bassclefchick*

            I totally get that. And from what I’ve read (admittedly only the one book on the murder) Perry never showed any remorse for what was done and neither did the friend. On the other hand, they both served their time. A very SHORT amount of time, but they did go to prison. I’m not trying to dismiss what they did at ALL, I think it was horrible and cruel. But, on the other hand, she DID serve her time and now she’s a productive member of society. I don’t have the answer, of course. But I still enjoy the books. Part of me does feel a bit like I’m condoning cold blooded-murder. Maybe I justify that by not buying them and only getting them from the library? I don’t know.

            I WILL say that the relationship between mothers and daughters is a unique and interesting one. And I have had plenty of moments in my life where I have not gotten along with my mother. But to just decide one day I’m going to bash her on the head with a brick because she annoys me? No, absolutely not.

    13. DeadQuoteOlympics*

      Val McDermid’s Karen Pirie series (Scottish police procedurals, cold cases — not graphic, but I haven’t read all of them yet!)

      C.S. Harris series– historical, the ostensible protagonist is male but really shares the billing with a very independent woman

      Harry Bingham’s Fiona Griffith’s series — police procedurals, Fiona is one of my favorites! There is a subtle strain of comedy running through the books. Might be a big graphic sometimes, but lurid details are never the point.

      Laura Lippman consistently writes strong and complex female protagonists, either with her series detective (PI) or her standalones.

      Sara J. Henry – Learning to Swim, and her new one with the same sleuth — non- professional investigator.

      Infer Ash Wolfe’s Hazel Micallef mysteries — Canadian police woman, funny.

      Madeleine E. Robins Sarah Tolerance mysteries — historical, with a very, very faint alternative history cast.

      SJ Rozen’s PI series — each book alternates pov between the pair of detectives — look at the ones written from Lydia Chin’s POV.

      1. DeadQuoteOlympics*

        You might like Dorothy Dunnett’s historical series the Lymond Chronicles. Lots of strong women characters, excellent plotting, locales ranging all over Europe and the Ottoman Empire, and plenty of humor. There’s a tiny bit of eye-rolling woo-woo at the very very end, but after six books and about 7000 pages, I found I could forgive the author. This is one of my favorite book series of all time.

    14. Sami*

      1. Check out fantasticfiction dot com
      You can find info about your favorite authors and books they recommend.

      2. Check out literature-map dot com
      You input a favorite author and it’ll give suggestions of similar authors.

    15. TeaLady*

      Lindsay Davis has continued/diversified her Falco series by adding novels featuring his adopted daughter Flavia. She’s great! The Roman setting is very well done but the research is worn lightly and the mysteries are intriguing

    16. Jenbug*

      Melissa Miller’s Sasha McCandless series would be a good one for you, I think.

      Also, I’m not sure where Urban Fantasy falls for you, but Kelley Armstrong writes a lot of amazing female characters. They just happen to be werewolves, witches, and vampires.

    17. Damn it Hardison!*

      I second the Laurie King recommendation; I’m currently doing a re-read of the Mary Russell series. Laura Lippmann’s Tess Monaghan series is a favorite of mine, especially the earliest books. I also like Carole Nelson Douglas Irene Adler series (even though historical fiction is generally not my cup of tea). Finally, Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series. Inspector Gamache is male but there are lots of central female characters in the series and the books are really good (almost all of them; there are a couple that I think aren’t as good as the others).

    18. Mephyle*

      I just finished The War That Saved My Life by Kimberley Brubaker Bradley. Strong female characters, historic (WWII), and triumph over adversity. Never mind that it’s supposedly a middle grade novel, it’s perfectly suitable for adults as well, at least this adult found it so. I was also thrilled to find out that the author is working on a sequel, due to be published this autumn. These were characters I didn’t want to say goodbye to.
      This book returned me to the way it used to be of not being able to put a book down until I finished. For a while now I haven’t been getting the pleasure out of reading that I used to in the pre-screen era, or at least only rarely. I think I’ve gotten out of practice at sticking to reading one thing to the end.

    19. Emi.*

      I know I’m late, but I just started reading The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and I love it. So far there’s no graphic violence and it’s very funny.

  34. Amber*

    Removed because this is the non-work open thread. Please feel free to post it on the Friday work one though!

    1. Amber*

      Robin Hood, the 1973 cartoon version. I remember it well from my childhood and always brings back fond memories.

    2. animaniactoo*

      Currently, it’s Moana. I get to see a bunch of them in pre-release, and this is the first one that I really just straight-up liked and would have regardless of job-related or not. I liked the humor, including some serious Bugs Bunny/Wily-Coyote-Roadrunner kind of play, and I love the grit of the female lead and her grandmother. I’ve always really enjoyed mythology and I like the way it was incorporated here. But also, it’s really all about that one scene between Maui and the ocean. I laughed my ass off.

    3. TL -*

      Mulan – it was the first movie I saw where I really identified with the protagonist – smart, intelligent, loud, brave, and always in trouble because she has to do something when she sees something wrong.

      1. Sci-fi_worker_girl*

        It’s a tie between Robin Hood (the classic where he is played by a fox) and Lion King – Mufasa was the greatest.

      1. SophieChotek*

        me too. No question. I’ll be curious to see what I think of the remake with real people though.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      I’ve got to say Zootopia. Good story, good script, good animation, good soundtrack… humor, adventure, allegory. It’s all in there. Most importantly, I watched it twice in the theater and watched it repeatedly even after it was out of the theater.

      Of course I have many other favorites (including Moana, Big Hero 6, Tarzan, Hercules, and The Little Mermaid), but if I’m pressed for one, it would definitely be Zootopia.

      1. Al Lo*

        Zootopia is my favorite current Disney movie. I’m still in awe over how seamlessly it wove in necessary societal reminders about power structure, racism, othering, microagressions, and so on. Plus it’s fun and funny.

        My perennial favorites lean toward the musicals, but, man, Zootopia set a high bar for kids’ movies.

    5. Red Reader*

      Beauty and the Beast and Moana are waaaay up there, but my absolute favorite is Brave. I am a feisty opinionated chick with annoying younger siblings and miles of riotous red curls, and since he first saw the movie my dad has called me his Merida. I have a tattoo of one of the lines from a song in a key scene of the movie – “chase the wind, touch the sky” – tattooed in my parents’ handwriting.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Oh, Pixar counts? That changes the whole scope…

        And, yes, Brave is also one of my faves.

    6. Cas*

      I always loved Tangled because Mother Gothel was so well done as an abusive parent figure, chipping away at Rapunzel’s self-esteem and telling her how the world ‘really’ is.

      Plus the beautiful animation.

    7. Lizketeer*

      Princess and the Frog
      Tiana’s determination, the hand-drawn animation, the music. It’s a great piece of modern princess ideals (strong, hard working, determined) while also incorporating some of the classic Disney feels.
      In the end, Tiana and Naveen rescued each other. They became better versions of themselves in a way that didn’t sacrifice their central personalities.

    8. Manderley*

      Sleeping Beauty because of the music. I also love the gothic architecture, especially transposed against the plump people and fairies. Maleficent is my favorite villain.

      Beauty and the Beast because Belle is a reader and more independent than many of the classic Disney heroes. That library!

    9. Elizabeth West*

      Fantasia. That’s about it. I’m not much of a Disney fan, though I did see all the classics as a kid (and thanks to living in a city up to age seven, I got to see them all on the big screen).

  35. Northie Southern*

    Anyone here own North Face jackets? I’m looking into getting one. I’d like to go with a soft shell, but was wondering if they retain smells that won’t wash out? Bonfire/fireplace smoke and other outdoorsy delights seem to be the main issue, since I am more rural south living. I have a cheap knock off that just smells really awful, and I can’t get the smell out, not with washing, dousing in perfumes or dry clean. If that’s going to be an issue, I’ll probably have to go with something different.

    1. MaybeTomorrow*

      Baking soda in washing machine and toss jacket in on soak cycle. Then wash. Let air dry and repeat if needed.

    2. Bonky*

      Hubby and I live in them in the winter. If a TNF jacket doesn’t have a down filling, it’ll wash in the washing machine. They’re brilliant: hearty recommend!

    3. emily_*

      I got my down north face parka 5 years ago when I moved to Milwaukee for school and it has really held up well! It doesn’t retain smells that I’ve noticed. The nice part for me is that the north face will lifetime guarantee your coat and will perform repairs for free. A couple years ago I accidentally tore the zipper of my jacket and I brought it into the north face store near me and they sent it out for repair. I think the return time is pretty slow, but not a big deal if you bring it in at the end of winter and don’t need it right away. Very much recommend!

    4. Alinea*

      I only have one North Face jacket and I love it. It hasn’t retained any smells.

      For smells, I just bought Febreze In Wash Odor Eliminator and it got out this nasty smell my husband had on his military gear. If you want to go natural, vinegar works too. For this smell I actually did one vinegar wash and the smell was still there so then a Febreze wash.

    5. DeadQuoteOlympics*

      I haven’t tried it myself, but I know people who swear by a spray bottle of cheap vodka to get out odors.

      I have a NF soft shell of some antiquity and a down coat, and both are holding up extremely well. They haven’t picked up odors, but I don’t spend a lot of time around campfires, although the soft shell has been on outdoor excursions plenty of times.

    6. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      Love, love, Love my North Face soft shell. It’s light, but warm enough to wear into the twenties (as long as I am just walking in and out of cars/buildings).

      I wash it all the time, because two friends have dogs that shed like crazy. We also have a lot of outdoor stuff, and indoor fires where it gets smoky. It has never held a scent. It washes beautifully. It just gets kinda hairy from me (I have long hair, and it sticks to everything!), but a quick wash and dry and it’s good to go.

  36. Anon for this*

    My husband and I have been trying to have kids, but it looks like my organs are older than the rest of me and it’s not going to work out naturally. Time has passed in this process and I’ve moved to a place where I no longer want to bear or raise children. He’s upset and making comments about deciding between me and kids. I’m struggling with feeling like I deceived him initially, though I really did want kids at the start of the journey. I also feel selfish, because who am I to decide I get what I want if it means he doesn’t? I know neither of those things really holds up, but I can’t get past them.

    For those who will suggest counseling, we’re in it, but have only had one session so far. The next is scheduled.

    Thank you to the regular commentators who have extolled their joys in a child free life. You’ve helped me at least not feel like a freak for not wanting kids.

    1. JHS*

      As someone with a young child, I would say that you should definitely not have kids if you don’t really, really want to have them. Kids are amazing but they become your entire life for better or worse. They disrupt everything. I say that as someone who wanted kids more than anything (who also struggled with infertility) and who loves my child more than anything in the world. However, I could not handle having a child if I didn’t really want one. The biggest thing to remember though is, despite society’s pressure, there is absolutely nothing wrong with not wanting children! I understand your husband’s position and I also totally understand yours. Unfortunately, you’re in a no win situation with your marriage but I definitely think you should stick to your guns and do what feels right to you (or in this case don’t do what doesn’t feel right).

    2. Amber*

      I have a friend who has been engaged for about 10 years. She really really wants kids and is getting to an age where it will be more and more difficult. Her fiance has avoided all real commitment (marriage and kids). And she’s worried that she will have to choose between him and the life she wanted for herself. You are kinda on the other side of this. The advice I gave her is that she can’t stay with him AND expect him to change into what she wants. If she stays with him she has to accept and be ok with the fact that she probably won’t have kids and they may never get married. If she’s not ok with that package then she should leave. She either loves and accepts the whole package of him (good and bad) otherwise it’s healther to move on. So probably the same is true for your husband. He needs to accept and love you for the whole package (meaning no kids).

      1. Get a Haircut*

        Not the OP, but your friend sounds like me. Thanks for posting- you’ve helped at least one person.

    3. enough*

      As described I don’t feel you have deceived your husband. People can change over time. And wanting children at 25 is not the same reality of being 35 and nature isn’t cooperating. I wasn’t sure about having a second when we were having problems conceiving even though we had agreed that we wanted 2 children. I was ready to call it quits the month we got pregnant.

    4. Oryx*

      Kids aren’t like sweaters that you can just take back if you decide it’s not your style. But, on the flip side, you can always borrow a friend’s sweater if you want to try it out without committing.

      So, if you don’t want kids — don’t have kids. I don’t know how long you’ve been trying, but people change and you’re allowed to change your mind. But, honestly, in my mind there’s nothing worse than having a child to appease someone else because that child deserves two parents who want them.

      That said (going back to the sweater example), there are ways for your husband to fulfill some paternal desires without children. I’m childfree personally but I love kids and love babysitting my friends’ kids. I’ve had childfree relatives do the Big Brother Big Sister volunteer program.

    5. dawbs*

      FWIW, We were there.
      (short backstory version of life…Mr. Dawbs and I married, said kids in a few years. After those few years I was well past ‘ok’ into impatient, Mr. said “oh, uh…may have changed my mind”. We spent a few years in an agonizing limbo. It was hard–really hard. We eventually decided together to try for kids. Then we had infertility. Then we had one kid. Then we did perm. sterilization, so only child)

      This is hard. And both of you should consider yourselves permitted to throat-punch people who make idiotic ‘when are you having kid’ comments for the foreseeable future. And you guys get to accept that people change–that’s part of marriage. (And it’s not just a bad part–I wouldn’t want to still be married to the Mr. as he was at 19–because we’ve both matured and changed since then. Although some of the changes have made things harder–we agreed politically more 10 years ago. But that makes things harder and makes us more nuanced people–not worse–quite possibly better.)

      You are realistic in knowing that you’re possibly making a choice for both of –of course, on the flip side is that if you go along w/ his choice, he’s making the choice for both (er, all?) of the family. That’s one of the lousy/wonderful things about family dynamics–that choices by one person makes will affect the whole.
      At some point, I think you both get to make the really hard lists with costs and benefits.
      I will say one of the reasons our marriage survived through the ‘we’re at an impasse” years is that, when it came down to it, I said my choice A was married w/ kids, choice B was married w/o kids, and choice C was the marriage ending–and his choice A was married w/o kids, choice B was married w/ kids and C was marriage ending.
      If those had landed in a different order for either of us, it could have had a different outcome.

      I’m not sure any of that is helpful in the LEAST–but FWIW, it’s survivable, it’s not as abnormal as people would sometimes have you think, and we can commiserate that it’s hard.
      (I also have a link that if I can find/it still exists, I’ll post)

    6. Melody Pond*

      You are definitely not a freak for not wanting kids. I’m 30, childless by choice, and currently in the planning stage to get myself sterilized permanently. Mr. Pond was permanently sterilized about 2 years ago (we’re non-monogamous, so it’s important to me to get myself sterilized as well). Mr. Pond has actually told me repeatedly that he would be fine with it if I wanted to have kids with someone else, and that he would even help raise them – but that he himself doesn’t want kids, so he made that choice, but without expecting that that would also be my choice. However, I’m very certain that I don’t want kids as well – and if for some reason I woke up in 5 years and HAD to have kids around, I would happily adopt.

      Your current situation with your husband does sound scary and stressful, though. So sorry to hear about that. But I definitely don’t think you’re selfish – especially if you can find it in your heart to approach it from an attitude of, “Well, I love you, and I want to stay with you, but I will understand if this means that you no longer want to be in this marriage.” But… it sounds like such a stressful situation to be in. If I were in your shoes, I’m sure I’d have a hard time staying calm or reasonable about it.

      1. Anon for this*

        And it is an interesting situation for us, since we are non-monogamous as well. I have thought about how I’d feel if he had kids with another woman. I don’t have problems from a jealousy perspective, but it would change things. For him to be involved enough in his child’s life, without me having more child raising than I’m okay with (because a little part time would be fine), my time with him would have to decrease in favour of child and child’s mom. I think it would be better than breaking up entirely, but it would be complicated.

    7. neverjaunty*

      You are NOT a freak! Speaking as a parent – having children is a huge decision, and it’s not fair to them to have parents who didn’t want them and regret them. It is the exact opposite of selfish to realize that is not the life you want, and therefore to decide not to bring children into it.

      You didn’t deceive your husband. It’s understandable that he may need to work through feelings of loss about being a parent and uncertainty about what to do, but he is being a complete glass bowl to you about it. It’s not as if you got the ring on your finger and then said “haha, sucker, no kids for you!” (Also, you know, you are the one who would have to physically carry and then give birth to any children, perhaps he missed that part?) I hope that counseling helps him get his act together.

    8. Mreasy*

      I am at an age where most of my peers have kids. I love my friends, and I adore their kids, but time spent with them doesn’t do a thing to make me less sure that kids aren’t for me (generally the opposite). I’m lucky that my husband feels the same way. I’m so sorry that your partner and you are at odds on this, but there is nothing wrong, or weird, or selfish, about not having or wanting children. Too many people make the decision because they’re expected to, then find themselves stuck. Good for you for knowing your needs!

    9. NoMoreMrFixit*

      Nothing wrong with not wanting kids. I never wanted kids even when I was one. Admittedly divorce runs in my family like it’s in our DNA but I just never wanted the job. It’s not selfish. Selfish would be having kids you don’t want because somebody else wants you to.

      Sorry to hear you’re having relationship issues due to this but this is definitely a hill worth dying on.

    10. Menacia*

      Not a freak by a long shot, I am 51, married, and no kids though hubby and I knew before we were married (I knew a long time ago) that we did not want to have kids. I absolutely hate that women who don’t want kids are pressured into doing so, and looked on as being selfish. What is selfish is not being true to yourself and having kids for other people (and then the kid suffers for it). Unless a child is truly wanted, and can be cared for (by more than one person!), it’s better not to have created one in the first place. While the decision may cause you to separate from your husband, and that’s extremely hard to realize, it’s better to do so now when you still have the opportunity to start over, instead hanging on but resented. You hit the nail on the head that you can’t be the only one making this decision for the both of you. Whatever you decide, you have to accept his choice as well.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I agree with the child being truly wanted, but I disagree on it being cared for by more than one person. That pretty much invalidates single parents. And many solo mums (and dads) didn’t plan to do it that way–somebody didn’t stick around or they died or whatever.

        The rest of your response is spot on.

  37. fposte*

    Weird window stuff: we had a cold snap that put us in zero to single digits for a few days, and as I usually do in really cold weather I kept my insulating honeycomb blinds down. It’s warming up a bit today so I opened them again and found ice on the inside of my windows! It was pooled at the bottom of the glass, so it seems like there may have been some melting and thawing, and I’m pretty sure it’s from condensation.

    And I get how it *could* happen, but it’s never happened before; additionally, those are new windows (well, new sealed glass) so should have better insulation than in previous years. I mean, on the bright side it says a lot about the insulating ability of my blinds, but I’m not delighted with it. Anybody have any experience with something like this or thoughts about how to avoid it?

    1. copy run start*

      Yup! We’ve been subzero for a week or two now. My window is currently iced up between the screen and the pane so I literally can’t open it. I would open the blinds during the day, or leave them set up a few inches off the windowsill. If it’s going to warm rapidly, I’d put something there to absorb the water. Otherwise, should be fine I think, as long as it’s not between panes.

      Story time! My first apartment was probably built in the late 70s, and while it was nice at that time, hadn’t ever been updated in 40 years. Original fixtures, appliances, windows, everything. It came with heavy drapes, and since it was facing a busy road, I kept them closed on the slider 24/7. I also had a pet chinchilla I let out every night, and that winter he kept ducking under the drapes during a really cold spell (-degrees for a week or two). I thought at first he was just looking out, but finally I got curious and pulled them back. There was a three-inch solid block of ice around the bottom of the slider that he was nibbling on!

      1. fposte*

        Ugh, winter. I’m amused by your chinchilla, though–that is making lemons out of lemonade!

          1. Sorgatani*

            Maybe this is post-beach ‘bleh’ on my part, but I didn’t even notice the expression switcharoo the first time I read >.<'

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I think the warm air in your house cannot get at the glass to cause natural moisture to evaporate. But what do I know.
      Am going to ask my friend who helps me with my house and put in my windows. If you haven’t gotten an answer by tomorrow, I will let you know what he said. I’ll ask him how to remedy.

    3. SophieChotek*

      This happened once at my parents’ house (subzero/very cold) and I was house-sitting for my parents. I noticed in too — I told my mom and she muttered something about needing to adjust the…something..kind of like a dehumidifier and controlling moisture — whatever she did it seemed to work…I never saw the ice/frost buildup again…

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Okay, checked with my friend and there are three possibilities.

      1) It’s the shades. The shades are effectively blocking the heat and any moisture is icing over.
      2) You have a cold air draft somewhere around the windows, the cold air hits the warm air in your house and you get condensation which freezes under the shade.
      3) You have a damp basement and the moisture is coming up for the basement.

      1) You can leave the shade up on one window over night and see if there is any difference between it and the other windows.
      2) You can feel around for cold air drafts. This would be easiest on bitter cold days.
      3) If you have a damp basement, you’d already be aware and can just add a dehumidifier.

      My friend uses wood heat, so his place is very dry. However, he has a regular shade on his front door. If he pulls that shade down the moisture will collect and freeze on the front door. It’s the only window in his place that does this. You’d think with the wood heat he would not have this problem, yet he does. So even a regular shade blocks the heat from a window.

      1. fposte*

        Thanks for the info and for checking further! I do think he’s right that it’s something to do with moisture exchange and am still considering your earlier evaporation theory; since the windows were better insulated than in previous winters, that makes sense to me. There’s a bit of a problem with this particular row of windows and moisture anyway.

        But I’m not interested in making my house any drier these days, so I may just put up with and soak it up as needed.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      That’s happened to me, but I have ancient double-hung, single-pane windows that I have to shrink wrap in the winter. One of them, in the kitchen, is missing the glass (it broke) so all I have there is a storm window. They need replacing. :P It tends to happen more on the windows that DON’T have wrap, which is strange.

    6. memboard*

      Not unusual. Below 0F is actually pretty cold. The only way to avoid this is to lower the humidity level in the house but that’s not really recommended as houses are too dry in winter in general. If there is a lot of humidity near the window (a humidifier, a shower, a stove) I would try to control that. In general nothing worry about.

      Maybe open the blinds during the day to let the windows warm up from the house?

    7. Amy the Rev*

      This used to happen to me! We had sealed all the windows in our apartment except for a couple (in case there was a fire/smokey cooking incident) and one of the unsealed ones was in my bedroom a the head of my bed. It was a drafty window so I’d stuff a blanket at the base of it, and in the mornings after a cold snap, my blanket would be frozen to the window. Frozen. I’d pull it off and little bits of blanket would stay stuck to the window.

  38. Anotheranony*

    I am a very emotional person and talk about my feelings. I also tend to dwell upon things to the point where my friends and family become annoyed and don’t want to deal with me because it is all I talk about.

    I feel like some angst-ridden, hormonal teenager, but I am not. I admire people who can see things clearly and know how to move on from situations and can put things in perspective. How do I do this? How can I become less emotional, detach from things and move on? Is it also a self-esteem issue?

    1. fposte*

      Hmm, interesting question–I’m hearing stuff about how you behave, stuff about how you feel, and stuff about how people react to you all mixed together there. Some of this may just be inclination, but if you’re willing to consider a therapist, I think CBT might be really helpful to you; it’ll likely help you find patterns other than verbal processing to deal with your feelings and teach you ways to self-soothe more effectively.

      When you don’t talk about your feelings, what happens?

    2. LizB*

      Do you journal? I also dwell on things, and I find that writing down whatever I’m dwelling on really helps me get it out of my head. If I have more thoughts on the subject later, I can always add another entry. I think it’s fine to be emotional and be in touch with your feelings, but when you’re at the point where it’s impacting your social relationships, you need to find another outlet.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        What she said. Get it out of your head, into the real world on paper. Go back and read it again later (or not). You can make lists of things to try and how they worked out. Write poetry or draw things. Write in blue pen when you’re sad and red when you’re happy — you might find it interesting to see how many of one or the other you write about just by flipping through a journal.

        The thing is that unless you’re paying them, no one wants to be your therapist. If one of your friends was always talking about something — let’s say football — and you had no interest in that, eventually you would get tired of hearing it. It doesn’t make you a jerk, it makes you a human. We all have limited time and energy for things. A quote I heard fairly recently was “you are responsible for the energy you bring.” It’s not other people’s responsibility to be your sounding board or “fix” you or whatever it is that’s been going on… it’s yours. There’s nothing wrong with having feelings or strong emotions, and I would argue that suppressing them is unhealthy. Find reasonable ways to honour your feelings without imposing them on others all the time.

        As for whether or not it’s an esteem issue, I guess that would depend on what it is that you have difficulty detaching from/putting into perspective/moving on from. You might want to make that the first question you ask yourself in your journal, “Why can’t I let this go? What do I get out of holding on to this?”

    3. Melody Pond*

      If I were in your shoes, I would probably focus less on trying to be “less emotional” – because that’s simply a part of who I am. I need to be able to process my emotions, and very often I do this verbally, out loud with other people.

      Instead, what I would do, is view it from the perspective of the needs of other people (whose needs are every bit as valid and important as mine). Other people might need the chance to deal with their own needs by talking about their own stuff, and if I’m always dominating the conversation by focusing on my own emotional needs, I could see how that might lead them to resent me. So maybe what I’d do instead is try to focus on finding the most efficient ways to process my own emotions and meet my own needs, so that I have a fair amount of time to focus on other peoples’ needs, too.

      There’s a book I love called NonViolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg, and it had a huge impact on me and how I view my own needs and other peoples’ needs. I recommend it to everyone.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      No one has mentioned this consideration so I will. I suggest getting a check up. Have your heart checked and have your mineral levels checked. Probably thyroid would be good also.

      Sometimes running emotional and getting locked on subjects can indicate discomfort inside the body somewhere. I would start here because if you are low on something all the talk therapy in the world is not going to bring that level up to normal.

      If you get a clean bill of health then yeah, therapy is probably a good idea. Maybe you have issues with feeling like you have not been heard. Maybe you feel like there is nothing new in your life so you revisit the old. Maybe you have had too much taken away from you so you attach to what you have. It could be any one of a thousand things, no way to know.

      I had a friend who was known for being emotional. She had a problem with too much chemical exposure. She lowered the amount of chemicals in her life and added some vitamins like vitamin B and she is much better.

      For the immediate moment I would try reading advice columns, read about how people are being advised to handle their stuff. See if anything resonates with you.

    5. misspiggy*

      They might be annoyed because they feel like you expect them to do something about your problems. You could try saying, ‘Can I just vent to you about this?’ But of course if you do that repeatedly about the same thing, they’ll feel like you’re using them as a kind of emotional punchbag – transferring your angst to them over and over again.
      I have a friend who will get worked up about the same issues over and over again, and it seems like she’s pursuing an emotional high and a sense of unburdening. But then I’ve got the burden! And I don’t get the satisfaction of having helped solve the problem, because she won’t do anything to change her situation.

      If you’re a bit like this, would you be able to get a sense of release and validation from other things (actual punching bags; dancing; writing; working with your hands)? Not saying you should completely stop unloading on people, but maybe mix it up so that you’re ‘getting things out of your system’ in varied ways, and venting to people less often.

      Or – if it’s that you want to make more progress with life problems – perhaps ask yourself what you’re getting out of not making certain changes. Do you like to see yourself as a genuine, heartfelt person? Would you worry that you’d be cold/selfish/something else bad if you took the obvious course of action? This might help you work out what’s blocking you.

    6. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

      Oh, I am like this too. Are you just talking about your emotions or are you being emotional (yelling, crying, etc.)? If it’s the latter, DBT might help you – it focuses on emotion regulation, distress tolerance, mindfulness. if it’s the former, I agree with others that journaling would be helpful.

      1. Anotheranony*

        It’s certain things that trigger these emotions- seeing an old friend, running into an ex. Then I either lament or relive the encounter. If it ended badly, I talk about it and try to defend myself or my actions. The situation stays with me for a few days until I either get sick of talking/thinking about it or something else occurs. I dwell on it and take a long time to move on.

    7. Amy the Rev*

      Woah are you me?!?!
      I’ve found that if your response to something is disproportionate to the depth of the relationship (like crying because you were supposed to have a first date with someone but they postponed) or disproportional to the event itself (getting really PO’d because a family member forgot to put away the dishes), it’s usually because some deeper issues that you have are being triggered.

      Looking downthread I see that you mention it’s often in response to running into an ex, etc. Some part of you might be trying to tell you that there are still unresolved issues that are being triggered by these run-ins. Sometimes, being able to name what the issue is, being aware of it and how it affects you, is enough for you to be able to get some distance from it and not be as viscerally affected.

      For example: I tend to get really anxious if I don’t hear back from someone I’m dating right away. Even if we’ve only been on a date or two. Really anxious. Once I realized that part of it was due to the fact that during my parents’ 8-year separation (which was pretty much my entire high school and college years), their relationship would run hot and cold, with seemingly no warning to me. So one day my dad would be over for dinner and they’d be fine, the next day my mom would be saying that she didn’t want us to have him over for christmas and was going to change the locks so he couldn’t just walk in when he’d come to drive us to school every day. My only model for a relationship was one of seemingly random instability, and I really internalized the (probably false) assumption that it’s very likely that at any given moment, someone you’re involved with could suddenly lose their feelings for you, and drop out of your life without warning. Knowing that THAT is what’s going on beneath the surface and fueling my anxiety about not having a quick response, makes the anxiety something that I can look *at* rather than look *through*, and helps me not be as controlled by it.

      I’d suggest that the next time you are feeling this way, really sit with the feeling and think about what it could be triggering in you, what assumptions it could be drawing on, or what issues it might be unconsciously related to.

      Good luck!!

  39. SadieMae*

    Seconded on “A Woman of Independent Means,” AAM. And you’re right about the humor. “Rob and I will be married this summer. Please don’t mention it to him when you see him, as I want to be the one to tell him…” :)

    You might also try “Fair and Tender Ladies,” by Lee Smith. Also the story of a woman’s whole life, told through the letters she writes to other people, but a very different sort of life – growing up dirt poor on a mountain in southwestern Virginia. It’s one of my favorite books: just tremendously moving and funny and colorful.

  40. Nolan*

    Has everyone heard about the new character added to the Sanrio (Hello Kitty) universe? Aggretsuko the red panda, she’s an office worker who hates her job and vents about it by getting drunk and doing angry heavy metal karaoke. They just released an intro video for her and it’s kind of amazing.

    1. salad fingers*

      Whaaaaaaat. And I thought Gudetama the lazy egg was the height of Sanrio anti-role models. I can’t wait!

  41. harley*

    Calling all dog people! (TL;DR: Having trouble connecting with my dog, halp.)

    I’m a dog person, I’ve grown up with them and always had them and generally never had a problem connecting with/reading/understanding the dogs in my life.

    Enter Winona (German Shepherd, six years old next month). She was rescued at three from a bad situation that I didn’t know the extent of until I took her home. I knew the woman who had owned her before me, she was elderly and couldn’t control her very well, walked her infrequently on a short leash with a muzzle, and often gave her to one of the neighborhood dog walkers, who had a reputation for abusing her clients’ dogs. The whole truth came out in the months after I adopted her: Winona had pretty much been kept in a bathroom for most of her life, and the dog walker suggested, to me, that I control her by kicking her in the face, and getting after her with my cane or a broom. (Honestly, if this is what she advocated for TO ME I have no idea what she did to that dog that she was ashamed to admit.) At the time, Winona was too fat to run or even shake water off of herself properly, she was basically molting, wouldn’t look directly at anyone, etc.

    At that point, I had another dog, Raylan, a pitbull the same age. Raylan was my heart dog. He saved my life twice in a real, physical sense, learned to detect and alert me of my chronic migraines before they hit, and was really bonded to me in a way I can’t describe to anyone if I tried. He died last March at five years old. End-stage liver failure that no one caught until he started having seizures out of nowhere, I lost him six months after the diagnosis. He and Winona were absolutely in love with each other. I think he really taught her how to be a dog in a lot of ways.

    Fastforward to now. Winona is at her target weight, runs everywhere, looks great, and loves me to death. I love her, too. I can’t imagine not having her in my life. The only problem is, I can’t read her. I can’t understand her at all. She doesn’t react to things like an average dog would, if she were a person I might think she had PTSD and maybe some brain damage? She’s calm and good, with me, when we stick to a routine but she loses it when something changes drastically, she’s afraid of everything from raindrops on the AC unit to hearing the phone ring (though I understand the phone thing; the dog walker who beat her was also known for being on her phone every time she had dogs out, and kicking them if they got out of line or disturbed her call). She acts like a puppy in a lot of ways, like chasing leaves on a walk, not recognizing herself in the mirror, etc etc. Everyone tells me I’ve done an amazing job getting her back to okay, but I feel like a fraud because I can’t connect with her. I know she does better with another dog in the house. I wasn’t ready to look for a buddy for her, for a long time, but when I renew my lease I’m going to be paying the pet fee twice over, with the landlord’s permission, and start seeing what’s out there. I work with her every day, we take walks and play and snuggle and all the rest of it, but it still just feels off.

    I don’t know what I’m even looking for, y’all. Advice, maybe? Reassurance that other people can’t necessarily read their dogs and it doesn’t make them a bad owner? That it’s not some horrible crime if I find her a buddy and understand this new dog better than I understand her? (Which is one of my big fears.) I’ve wondered if I’m somehow not clicking with her because I’m subconsciously comparing her to Raylan in my grief but I had this disconnect before, too, when he was alive. I’m willing to try anything, short of rehoming her, because I do love her, I feel like she has a better shot at a good life with someone who accepts her neuroses and doesn’t hold them against her, and honestly, she’s my girl, she has a forever home with me.

    1. Mrs. Fenris*

      I’ve had two pets that I didn’t really connect with, even though I loved them. Both of them were re-homed to me from people I knew, so I don’t know if that was part of it. One was a cat, and the other is one of my current dogs. I totally wouldn’t feel guilty. I imagine part of the reason you feel that was is that she is such a different type from your other dog. (The dog I don’t quite get is a Pug, and my other dogs have been active dogs with a clear “mission” in life.) Keep in mind that German Shepherds are extremely high strung by nature. Her weird moments may not even be the result of her background. Props to you for doing so much for her!

      1. harley*

        Thank you so much for pointing that out about Shepherds! I’d obviously much rather her weirdness be a naturally high-strung personality than something about her history triggering her in the moment. And you may be on to something about the difference in dog types — it’s funny, because I’m usually more oriented toward working-type dogs (I grew up around Malamutes) but the pit came into my life when I really needed a dog with his temperament, and maybe between that/how strong my connection to him was/how he was still kind of a buffer in my early days with Winona, part of this is needing to readjust? Thanks again :)

        1. LCL*

          I remember reading what one trainer said. German shepherds are experts in ‘what’s wrong with this picture’. That is how they look at the world. Anythin