weekend free-for-all – February 18-19, 2017

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

Recommendation of the week: The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain, the story of Ernest Hemingway’s marriage to his first wife, told through her eyes. Ultimately they both annoyed me, but it was an enjoyable journey.

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

{ 920 comments… read them below }

  1. Weekend Warrior*

    Hemingway’s own A Moveable Feast is the best story of that marriage. Written with (hypocritical?) regret by the one who threw it away.

    1. Artemesia*

      I have read both and both are interesting. I was always stunned that they often went out to drink leaving the baby in a crib with only the cat as a sitter. It is also stunning how much drinking people did in those days. And I would have thought the marriage would have been over when she carelessly lost ALL of his unpublished writing including both carbon copies. This was such a stupid egregious act that it almost had to have been subconsciously intended. How dumb would you have to be to put all 3 copies of the work in one bag and then leave it unattended under a train seat while you went to dinner? How many of us could have forgiven a spouse who lost years of our work so thoughtlessly?

  2. Anon looking for a gift*

    Okay everyone, I am designing a birthday gift for a friend – it’s going to be one of those black vinyl wall decals. We share a favorite band, so I wanted to use part of the lyrics from one of their songs, but can’t decide how much to do. Size will be either 7″x15″ or 13″x25″ (leaning towards the larger size), and pricing is based on size, NOT number or words (which, yay!).

    So I made two mock-ups from the same song, but can’t decide which one to use! I’ve linked to both images below – any thoughts?

    P.S. Also, will I run into any legal issues using a band’s lyrics? I don’t have written permission, but it’s for personal use in her home and I’m obviously not making any money on it.

      1. Jamie*

        I like the longer version. And if there are copyright issues I hope Warrant doesn’t sue me for using some in my wedding announcement ages ago. Although now that we’re divorcing maybe they’d let it go :)

          1. Jamie*

            Thanks – it’s the worlds most amicable divorce and we’re both in a good place. Good places? :) Something about knowing I’m on the right path that makes the future less scary.

            Until my Cinderella Complex kicks in and I panic and hide under my covers and ugly cry till it passes and I remember who I am. I’d been feeling numb for so long it’s nice to have my intensity back even if it’s not always pleasant.

          2. Ellie H.*

            Ditto – from me too. I’m glad to hear you feel like you are on the right path. To me, that’s the absolute most important thing in life. Best wishes.

        1. Random Citizen*

          Thanks Jamie! I kind of liked that one too, but wasn’t sure if it was too much for a wall decal. As long as the company doesn’t down song lyrics, I reckon I’ll be fine then. If not, I’ll call you from jail. :)

      2. Amadeo*

        I just want you to know that the song started playing in my head when I read this. I like the first one the best in its simplicity. I don’t know that Need to Breathe would chase you down and sue you for using their lyrics and it might even be based on a Bible verse to begin with. While you might have issues selling these to others, you’ll probably get by under the radar with personal use.

        1. Random Citizen*

          Yay someone recognized it! Yeah, I wouldn’t consider selling without a license, but I think the sellers main product is customized decals, so I el like they would have said something about using quotes/lyrics? Guess I’ll send the request in and see what they say.

          1. Amadeo*

            LOL, I did! we have a local, listener supported radio station (no commercials!!) I listen to to and from work every day (khisradio . org if you want to check it out, you can even listen online) and I know lots and lots of these songs. I’ve picked out four (10,000 Reasons, Redeemed, Oh How You Love Me, and uh…lord I don’t remember which one was the fourth) and occasionally try to get my church converted over to contemporary music at least one Sunday a month. Not a battle I’ve won yet, LOL.

        2. Sarah G.*

          “While you might have issues selling these to others…”
          One would *definitely* have issues selling these to others — ethical AND legal issues, although you may not get caught. She is not selling it, so that’s beside the point, but just to be clear that profiting off of someone’s else copyrighted material without permission is most definitely illegal, not a gray area at all.

      3. Sarah G.*

        Longer version looks much cooler. There shouldn’t be an issue with the lyrics. The one place where the company *might* push back is the band name because that looks kind of like a logo — a stylized presentation of the band name in that font. Maybe not, and if you are ordering online there are probably guidelines posted on the website.
        A quick google search turned up websites that specifically sell custom decals from song lyrics of your choice, so seems like the lyrics alone definitely shouldn’t be an issue. As for legality, making one copy of something as a gift for a friend to put up in her own home is so negligible as to make it a non-issue, in my opinion. The analogy that comes to mind is taking home a paperclip from work, whether intentionally or by accident. You could argue that it’s theft, but does anyone care? Does it have any impact on your employer? Would you be fired for it or sued for it? No, no, and no. :)

    1. This*

      Not a lawyer– generally speaking the and owns the rights to their lyrics. Wedding invitation would generally be ok because it’s highly personalized and could not be confused for official merch. Just the lyrics on a wall thing I would shy away from. You aren’t selling it, correct, but you are paying someone to produce it and they are selling to you. So the company producing it could be liable.

      1. Random Citizen*

        Hmm company does a lot of personalized decals, so I guess I’ll ask and see if they think it’s all right

    2. mreasy*

      Music industry pro here: if you’re making this as a gift for a friend, there is and will be no issue. Distribution for profit or not would be the problem.

      1. LawCat*


        V. Important Birthdays February 18:
        – Persephone Mulberry
        – LawCat
        – Dr. Dre
        – Vanna White
        – Mary Tudor

      2. Bagworm*

        Happy birthday to you both! It’s also my partner’s and my best friend’s birthday, too. Obviously lots of cool people born on 2/18.

  3. printrovert*

    Found out that most of the interviews I went on last year won’t count towards deductions on my taxes because some were through a placement agency and none of them were in my field (I was looking into trying out marketing at the time). Also discovered I didn’t write down what I donated on my donation slip last year (d’oh!). Upside is I just found out that I can deduct my commute from job 1 to job 2.

    Would anyone know if mileage for job interviews you are hired for and mileage for HR orientation can be deducted?

    1. Life after Recruiting*

      I would guess yes, since those are pre-employment and you haven’t started work officially.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I use itsdeductible dot com, which is a service of Intuit. After every donation I record the information there, and it is all imported for me into our return. (We use TurboTax because we get a discount through our credit union, plus H&R Block charged me for “advice” from an “expert” that was clearly, patently wrong.)

      1. printrovert*

        I used itsdeductible last year. Awesome tool. I thought I might have recorded what I donated at the beginning of 2016 there but no cigar.

        1. printrovert*

          I JUST REMEMBERED! It was for a piece of furniture. I probably donated something else with it, but this is def the bigger item.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            I love their valuation tool. I donated boxes of books, and less than an hour of going through them netted me over $100 in tax savings! (The whole donation was valued at almost $500, largely because they were almost all in new condition — the only books I own that don’t look like new are ones that I bought used!)

    3. CAA*

      Yes, you can deduct mileage for job interviews. It goes on schedule A as a misc deduction. Your total misc deductions must be over 2% of your income for this to count.

      The mileage for HR orientation is not deductible as a job search expense, but it might be deductible as an unreimbursed business travel expense. It would only be deductible if you moved for the new job after attending orientation and the new job is at least 50 miles further from your old home than it is from your new home.

      1. printrovert*

        Ack, I should have clarified. Yes, I meant orientation as a write-off for business expense, not a job seeking deduction. Thanks!

      2. Audiophile*

        I did not know this. I normally don’t even look at this stuff, because it involves itemizing and that just seems so much harder.

        1. CAA*

          A tax program will do all the math for you and tell you whether it’s worth it to itemize. If you live in CA or any other state that has high income tax rates and you have a mortgage, then it’s worth at least entering the numbers to see.

  4. Emi.*

    Hi ladies, I’m doing a (totally anonymous!) survey to collect data about bra cost and value–basically the 538 approach to the “ugh, how much should I really spend to get a good bra?” question. Would you be willing to fill it out? The link is in my name!

    1. Jamie*

      There is nothing more important than a good bra! Once I discovered the magic of Victoria’s Secret bras I never went back. My favorite holiday of the year is anytime they are having a major sale!

      (hope this is non-work related enough since I do wear them to work :) )

      1. Jamie*

        Sizes vary between mfg. I’m a VS girl and a DD in other brands is a DDD there. Idk why they do that, it’s annoying. Everyone I know is up a cup size in VS so have to take that into account when calculating results.

        1. blackcat*

          See, I’ve found most UK brands are super standardized. I can order my size and it will basically fit–though cut differences can mean it fits better or worse.

          And the last time I walked in a VS store with a friend, it was hilarious. The saleswoman helping my friend INSISTED that I *couldn’t possibly* be a 30F and she swore up and down a 32 DDD (the closest size they had) would fit. The woman would. not. stop. arguing with me, and so we left without her buying anything. By what I’ve heard, it seems that some VS locations train staff to lie about bra sizes to people who measure at sizes that they don’t carry.

          1. Jamie*

            I’ve found the sales people at ours to be super helpful and knowledgeable. I don’t usually like being assisted when shopping, but it’s useful there since they know so much about the cuts and coverage, etc. And I can (clearly) talk about bras all day. It’s a thing.

            There is something about the right bra that is just fundamentally mood changing. A good bra is spirit lifting.

          2. Becca*

            Yeah, I went to VS and they gave me a 34DD bra— which was already a little loose on the tightest hook, and they acted like that was normal? No thanks! (Turns out I’m a 28GG/28H. I’ve had my best luck with European sizing, particularly from brands like Freya.) I understand that the store wants to make sales (and that their sizes work for a lot of people), but pushing people to buy something that isn’t right for them really bothers me.

            If people are looking to figure out their European bra size, there’s a Reddit post (link in my name) that explains how — it’s how I figured my actual size out.

          3. Amadeo*

            Bwahaha, yes, I’ve run into this with them too. I’m a 36H. There’s nothing in VS that I can wear besides their underpants and lotions. Nothing. I had one woman try to squeeze me into a DD. It was pitiful and that was before I knew how a bra should fit (newsflash, VS fitting consultant/salesperson: I should not be spilling so far out of the top of the cup I have quadboob!!).

          4. mreasy*

            That has also been my experience at VS (told I was another wildly off size bc they don’t carry mine).

          5. kms1025*

            super bad experience at last visit to VS…sales woman looked friend up and down and said in her hautiest, snootiest tone of voice “We have NOTHING to fit you!”. Friend could have cried, I was shocked speechless. Out the door and never been back since.

            1. chickabiddy*

              I had a similar experience (sad shoulder pat to your friend). I am fairly obviously out of their in-store size range but my teenage daughter and college-age sister are not, so I had gone in to shop for gifts, was made to feel like a buffalo, and ended up spending my money elsewhere.

            2. tink*

              Wow, I bet their manager would’ve been LIVID to see something like that, because word of mouth can be really brutal on sales.

              1. Gaia*

                They don’t carry my band size, and I was told this – quite rudely – by the store manager. I then reported it to the regional manager who told me I should be more aware of their “desired size range” of customers before getting upset at being educated.

                I won’t ever step foot in a VS again.

                1. Jane Eyre*

                  Same here! The staff at the VS near me was Uber rude last time I went in for bras. Told me they never sell in my band size in the meanest way possible. I left empty-handed. It’s a shame. Pretty stuff in there.

                2. blackcat*

                  I sort of get the sense that they want to have an image as providing bras for conventionally attractive women. So if you needed a larger band size, I’m not surprised that they don’t really care about offending you.

                  It’s a shitty business practice.

                3. Gaia*


                  I get that but they should care. Because while I cannot wear their bras, my best friend, my sister, my cousins etc all can. And don’t. Because of how I was treated.

          6. copy run start*

            Yes, many years ago as a teenager someone as VS tried to sell me a 34B when they were out of 32C because they were “sister sizes.” My mother and I left in a huff.

      2. Lady Kelvin*

        Most VS bras don’t come in my size (32A) but I really like their technical underwear for running. One day I went in wearing a padded bra and several layers of clothes on top and a sales woman held a bra up to my chest and said oh you are definitely a C cup. I laughed in her face and left. Sure a C cup would have fit on top of all my clothes, but who does a bra fitting like that. Not to mention she just randomly walked up to me and held a bra up to my chest out of nowhere. Boundary violation.

        1. Lady Julian*

          Isn’t it frustrating? I *barely* fit some VS bras; they have a nice T-shirt bra now that I can get in a 34 A and that works pretty okay. But I wish people made pretty bras for us small chested women!

          1. crazycatgurl*

            Have you looked up title nine clothing? Their small sized bras make me wish I was tiny chested! They have some gorgeous ones!

        2. Zathras*

          I have the same problem, I am a size they don’t usually make – A cup with a large band size. I can’t actually remember what band size because I normally just wear lightweight sports bras. I will say when I needed a fancier bra for a formal event a few years ago, I had a good experience at VS. The salesperson was up front about how most of the bras didn’t come in the size I probably needed, and was apologetic about that, but she still spent a really long time bringing me as many bras as she could until we found something that worked. It could have been an awkward experience but ended up being kind of fun.

          But yeah, I would have been super upset if someone had just walked up to me, held up a bra, and announced their (bogus) guess at my size – nope nope nope.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        I’ll tell you what–the day I found out what my REAL size is was a great day. My bras actually fit now. I went to a department store and got measured. Even though they’re cheap bras, at least I’m in the right size. :)

        1. Gaia*

          Oh yea. I wore the wrong size for YEARS because no one ever explained to me how a bra was supposed to fit. Turns out? It shouldn’t leave marks and indents in your skin. And it shouldn’t be uncomfortable. Who knew!?

    2. Justme*

      The brands to choose from are skewed away from larger sizes. VS doesn’t carry my size. Choices like Cacique or another plus brand would have been nice.

      1. Emi.*

        Thanks for the feedback! I honestly don’t know that much about bras so there’s not a lot of rhyme or reason to the options. Cacique has been turning up a lot in the “enter other brand” field!

      2. blackcat*

        Ditto this.

        I wear brands almost exclusively from Europe and the UK. Panache, Freya, Fantasie, etc. I have a small band size but large cup size and the brands you list simply don’t carry my size.

        1. S.*

          I was in France recently and discovered Darjeeling bras, which are cheap and fit amazingly (I have the small band, large cup problem). I bought two because I can’t get them here at all.

          1. LPUK*

            Empreinte is another French brand which does large cup – sizes. They are very pretty designs, beautifully made and quite comfortable to wear. The Thalia style is my favourite – it’s gives a really nice shape. I have 5 of them at the moment

        2. Cristina in England*

          I love Panache! I had the same experience with VS trying to get me into a size they sold versus the size I really am (and poking a head over the stall door to talk to me while I was changing, go away!!!). Panache is my go-to now.

          1. blackcat*

            I <3 my Freya swimsuit. I also have one from Panache. I treated myself to them when my bff had a beach destination wedding, and I have no regrets. It is amazing to have swimsuits that fit my boobs perfectly.

        3. Rat in the Sugar*

          Do they have small bras? I wear a 28AAA, and the only bras I can find are made for children! The only website I found that carried my size only had huge granny bras that cover half your chest. It’s obviously impossible to find any sexy bras in the children’s section either, and it’s so aggravating to have no choices but plain colors or cartoons!

          1. blackcat*

            I buy from figleaves dot com. I think they will have something–I swear they have something in every size ever made. Shipping is a bit pricey because it comes from the UK, but returns aren’t pricey (I think they have a warehouse in VA that you ship returns to).

        4. Blue_eyes*

          This. I’m in the same situation re: small band/large cup. My favorite brand is Lunaire. They fit me just right and are very affordable ($40-60). Unfortunately barenecessities seems to have stopped carrying Lunaire, but they have their own website so I’ve been buying directly from the company. My favorite heavy duty sports bras right now are Anita.

          1. Applesauced*

            I’m the same (small band/large cup) I’m currently using bras from aerie, and I’ve been very impressed with the quality and cost ($30ish).
            And they make swim tops in bra sizes! Why doesn’t everyone do this?! All I want is a waterproof bar for the beach!

            1. blackcat*

              A lot of the UK brands do, too!

              And they start at band size 28. I love my swimsuits that fit my boobs!

            2. Blue_eyes*

              I only buy bra-sized bathing suit tops. Nothing else fits me because sizing up to fit my cup size makes the band too big.

              Alas, Aerie does not carry my size. I have a plus-size cup but regular size band (34DDD/F), so many brands don’t carry my size.

        5. Windchime*

          Elomi and Fantasie for me. I don’t mind paying $50 apiece when they fit and are supportive. I’ve given up shopping at places like Macy’s where their “full figure” bras top out at DDD. When I need to be measured, I go to Nordstrom and then I buy either from Nordstrom or Herroom (online).

          I know where VS is going with the whole “sister size” thing. The thought is that the cup size is (supposedly) the same between a 34D and a 36C. But that doesn’t mean that they will fit the same because the band size is bigger around on the 36. So you might get a cup that fits, but if you are swimming in the band it won’t matter because the support comes from the band.

      3. AliceBD*

        I added the brand I mostly wear, Elomi. I wear a very large cup size with a fairly small band size; stores like Cacique don’t have bands small enough for me. I don’t even try to wear American brands anymore, as only UK brands have the size I need.

      4. edj3*

        They are also skewed away from small bands with big cups. I wear a 30DDD–good luck finding that without special ordering.

      5. Gaia*

        I wear Cacique and Freya. I am incredibly picky about my bras both in brand (for longevity – I don’t pay this much to have it wear out after a couple of uses) and for fit and style. I know how I like my clothes to fit and that is dependent on a particular bra fit/shape/style.

    3. Kyrielle*

      Hee. And I totally avoid expensive bras and places that fit you because they always, ALWAYS argue with me about size, put me in something that will look gorgeous and hurt, etc. My expensive bras have all been regrets, with the exception of the nursing bras when I needed those.

      1. Kyrielle*

        (I should add, even when I go maverick and get the size I’d like, those expensive ones are still no better than my usual. But if I let them do fittings, they’re torture devices.)

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I agree. I used to buy spendy bras and… sigh…
        Now I get them at Kmart. For one thing they last a lot longer. And they are more comfy.
        It was so discouraging spending all that money for something that just wasn’t that nice.

        It could be that if I tried something now, I might like it better. But bra shopping is so much work.

      3. Gaia*

        Interesting! I find the cheaper bras don’t last long for me and are far more uncomfortable – I wish I could buy ones that cost less but I’ve had no success.

        I agree with the fittings though – I don’t do those. I know my size and the fitter is almost always wrong.

    4. FDCA In Canada*

      Honestly, I have never had any luck at Victoria’s Secret (or here in Canada, La Senza). One time in the States I tried going to a specialty shop that was supposed to be great–they gave me a totally incorrect size and then shrugged when I tried on a bra in that size that hung off me weirdly. I went to Nordstrom’s and one of the ancient ladies who must have been fitting bras since about the time Marie Antoinette was looking for one took two minutes to size me properly AND set me up with an array of designers who might work for me. Presto, I had a starting path. Nordstrom’s bra clearance rack is also great–I don’t care what it looks like as long as it fits, so hey, neon yellow and leopard print? Sure, I’ll wear it with an opaque shirt and be happy.

      Most of the bras I wear are from Canadian department stores, but occasionally I’ll get something cheap from Aerie because they’re inexpensive and cute, but they never fit me quite properly and wear out fast. I don’t wash my bras all that frequently (which is gross, I know), and when I do I hang them to dry, but the Aerie ones always wear out pretty fast. I usually spend between $35 and $50 CAD on a bra, and I buy new ones every three or four years because it’s such a nightmare of a process.

      1. LG*

        I’ve also had good luck with the fitting folks at Nordstrom’s when I gained weight and knew I’d gone up several sizes. I ended up getting one bra there (good but expensive for me, having previously shopped for bras at Target). Then I went to the nearby Nordstrom Rack store and got an identical bra, for about half the price, so now I have two. I have not had good luck with Victoria’s Secret. When I was a tiny teen, they told me snottily that they ‘didn’t make my size’ in strapless bras, and now I think I’m at the other and of their ‘we don’t make that either’ range. But clearly they are great for some folks!

      2. CAA*

        Speaking of Nordstrom’s bra clearance rack … give nordstromrack.com a try. I got a couple of my favorite bras that are usually around $50 for $18.99 each.

      3. super anon*

        Do you have any Change stores in your area? I was wearing a 36B from La Senza for the longest time… it turned out I was actually a 34F! Their bras are a bit pricey, but they often have sales where you can buy 2 bras and get 1 free, which makes the price more affordable. They also last forever – I find I have to replace them because I’ve lost weight, rather than because the bra itself wore out.

    5. S.*

      I found the question about rotating wear confusing. Are you talking about number of bras or number of wears?

      I’ve been told to wear a bra only twice before washing, with at least a day in between to let the elastic relax.

      1. Jamie*

        Did my mom tell you that? Because that’s the exact advice she gave me about never wear them consecutive days and twice between washing.

      2. Emi.*

        Oh, sorry–I meant number of days between wears (i.e. how long the elastic has to relax). For example, I wear each of my bras every four days (until I wash them).

        1. Lord of the Ringbinders*

          I had never heard of this ever. I did not know it was a thing. Is every other woman doing this and I somehow missed it?

          Can anyone link me to any information about it as google just turned up articles about going bra free?

                1. blackcat*

                  My experience is that owning a week’s worth of bras means that the last much longer, so I don’t think I buy more overall.

                  It’s not the fabric that needs the rest, it’s the elastic. Rubber is weird like that. See also: letting hair ties and rubber bands rest between use.

          1. Drago cucina*

            No one ever told me to do this, but I started many years ago. The idea of wearing a bra that’s next to my skin more than twice didn’t appeal. I wear Bali with comfort straps.

          2. Jessica*

            Ringbinder, you’re not alone. First I ever heard of this was when Dear Prudence (back when she was Emily Yoffe) told some clueless man that women wear their bras a bunch of times between each washing. I was shocked into conducting a completely unscientific survey of whatever female friends I had handy and I knew well enough to interrogate them about their lingerie habits, and the result was 100% NO, we do not do this.
            My bras get sweaty, and I don’t wear them a second time any more than I do socks or underwear. I might rewear some outerwear things, like a pair of jeans, but when I take off a bra, it goes into the laundry hamper. I personally find it gross to do otherwise, though clearly there is another point of view, as represented by Yoffe, some commenters here, and that article someone linked to. Just testifying that my point of view also exists.

      3. really*

        I’ve heard that you should be replacing bras every 5 months. Not happening. But “they” never say what’s that based on, i.e. how much you wear it and how you wash it.

    6. LizB*

      Filled it out! This may or may not be useful information for you, but one of the things that annoys me about being a “non-standard” bra size (36H) is that literally all of my bra options are basically in the same price range. I don’t have the option to try a cheaper bra — everything I can get is in the $60-80 range, take it or leave it. Rather than “How much should I spend to get a good bra?”, the question for many of us bigger-cup-size folk is “Which brand actually manufactures my size and how much do they cost?”

      1. blackcat*


        When Panache first came out with their (AMAZING) sports bra, I happily forked over $80 or so for a sports bra ACTUALLY in my size. It’s dropped in price now, but there is no such thing as a cheap sports bra that fits me.

        Brexit has helped my bra situation. I order almost exclusively from the UK, so the falling pound has made them significantly cheaper.

        1. mreasy*

          Yep. I am Enell 4ever for sports bras, but the cheapest one I’ve ever found (turquoise, on sale), was still $75.

        2. Jules the First*

          I bought my first Panache sports bra after a complete stranger came up to me after a riding lesson and said “honey, you should try the Panache sports bra – it will change your life”. She was right…I’m only a 30F, but man that bra hangs onto the girls!

      2. Amadeo*

        Psst, Dillards, if you have one near you, has a ‘house’ brand called Cabernet. They’re $20 each and I’ve gotten them for $5 before digging through their New Year’s Sale bins on the first of the year. I am also a 36H.

        1. LizB*

          Sadly no Dillards in my state or the next state over, but if I run into one on vacation I’ll stock up!

          1. Amadeo*

            They’re still on their website and they had a rack of them *not* on clearance at the beginning of this year (in colors that I’m surprised they don’t have listed online) so I’m pretty sure they’re still a thing. At least in my area.

        2. Phyllis B*

          Yep. Dillard’s is great. When I FINALLY decided to get fitted that’s where I went. For years I wore (what I thought was my correct size) 44D. When I got fitted, I was told 38DD. That was just TOO tight, but a 40DD was just right. I had read that 90% of women wear the wrong size bra which is what made me decide to get fitted. Even if you don’t buy from them at least you know what to look for. I buy two/three new bras every 18 months. One nude, one black and maybe a fun color (the last one I got was a beautiful lavender.) I don’t buy pure white because it shows too much through sheer shirts. And if you gain/lose more than 10 pounds go get fitted again. It makes such a difference in how your clothes fit. When I got my correct size, I had a ton of people asking me if I had lost weight.

      3. Stephanie*

        Yeah…in the same boat. I usually just replace my bras around tax refund time because I know I’m going to be out $500 to replace them all.

      4. ThatGirl*

        Yuuuup. I finally got fitted and need a 36DDD which most Dept stores don’t carry, and yes, really need that exact size. I have to spend at least $45 or so to get a bra that actually fits.

      5. A hunting we will go*

        I haven’t read all of the comments (yet) but I had to take a minute and recommend Amazon for bra buying. I do a periodic search for my bra size and have been able to find many many bras in my size (38 E or F) on sale for less than $25. My favorite Heidi Klum was $14. I keep a spreadsheet of the brands and styles I have tried (obsess much?) so I don’t repeat the mistakes. Sometimes the colors are not the most popular ones, but I figure if I find a style I like, then I will happily spend up to $70 for a white or beige one. I just can’t afford to buy 5 $70 bras to try at one time. My current search is for a t-shirt bra that is lightly padded, smooth, and puts everything front, center, and rounded- and that doesn’t make me look two sizes bigger(thanks anyway, VS.) Ideas welcome.

        1. Gaia*

          I have had no luck with tshirt bras! Mostly the front, center and rounded part. I end up with breasts pushed to the side pointing out away from center. Everyone sings the praises of tshirt bras and I’m beginning to think they are just opposed to me and in outright rebellion!

      6. Clever Name*

        Yep. Apparently 32 DD is an unusual size. I don’t even bother with cheaper places anymore because they never even carry my size, and the pickings are slim at Nordstrom

    7. Ktelzbeth*

      I also have the small band, large cup size problem with the additional wrinkle that I am between band sizes. I used to think that with three choices for hooks, you could get every size. But then 32s were too small and 34s were too big, so I held two bras of the same style up next to each other and there was a band size gap you couldn’t reach by adjusting the hooks. Yup, right where I should be. Though given some of the comments from other small band/large cup folks in this thread, I now have some additional brands to try.

        1. Ktelzbeth*

          That’s my current solution, but for the price I’m paying, it smarts not to actually be able to buy my size.

    8. Victoria, Please*

      I just bought 12 bras from Costco, the Maidenform 2/pack ones at $25 per ($12.50 per bra). They fit well, they’re comfortable, pretty, and serviceable. Then again I am lucky to have a moderate figure and not need special support.

      1. Ms Ida*

        I love the Costco two packs! More comfortable than the bras I have paid way more for after being measured and fitted at Bali.

        1. Jane Eyre*

          These are wonderful! I’ve been wearing them in 36DD and they’re so soft, cool and comfy. Best thing of all–no back fat bulges!!
          Fantastic value when just one Maidenform bra costs $35 in the department store.

    9. OperaArt*

      I’m a big fan of Nordstrom. The women there know how to measure a bra correctly, and also know their stock. I just bought 3 new bras in my hard-to-find size of 34H (US sizing). The saleswoman me 6 options in the “T-shirt”, non-lacy type I wanted, and they all supported my non-perky, post-menopausal chest quite well.
      And, yes, they cost about $70 each, but they made my entire wardrobe look so much better.

      So many women wear the wrong size bra.

    10. The Other Dawn*

      I think there should be multiple choice under the “how long before you replace your bra” question, one of which is: “until I absolutely half to, either because the wire popped out or it’s all stretched out, and only then will I be dragged kicking, screaming, bitching and moaning to the store to spend a ridiculous amount of money on something no one (except hubby) ever sees.”

      1. blackcat*

        True story: 6 months ago, I sewed a wire back into a bra. It isn’t that stretched out, so I wanted to keep it around.

        I bought most of my current bras ~4-6 years ago. The oldest ones are finally dying, and it makes me sad. I keep them alive as long as I can. If I’m gonna pay $50-100 per bra, I’m gonna use em for years!

      2. Blue_eyes*

        Through high school and college there was this one style of DKNY bra that I loved. I had a bunch and my mom would always buy me more whenever we went shopping, so for a while I had a stockpile of new ones with the tags on. But eventually they discontinued them and I used up the stockpile. I wanted to cry the day the last one had a wire snap.

    11. Elizabeth H.*

      I don’t know what kind of results you have been getting but I was thinking years not months for the how long does a bra last. It took me a while to consider but apart from anything I bought before I was 15 (and I still have one of those) I have bought 9 bras in my life and still have 6. I don’t wear underwire bras, and 2 are the camisole style bralette (no separate cups). I threw out three bras that I had bought at age 16 for too many holes when I was like 26-27 (I still have and wear one). Wonder if this is an outlier in your results? :D

      1. Nic*

        I’m the same way you are as far as wearing them to death and possibly beyond. I’ve been told before that you should retire a bra after 4-6 months, but I’m thinking that’s the same as “repeat” on the back of the shampoo bottle; to make you buy more.

    12. Turtlewings*

      I currently alternate between two super-generic $8 Walmart bras, no underwire, no bells or whistles of any sort, and I’m honestly so darn happy with them. They’re more comfortable and have held up longer than any of the more expensive ones I’ve bought.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        There is an Austrian brand Palmers which has some good products. They aren’t cheap, but the quality is excellent and often there are discounts.

    13. chickabiddy*

      Large band, large cup. I like Panache and Elomi for regular wear and WomanWithin for cheap stretchy cotton bras for at-home wear. I think regular retail for my “real” bras is in the $70 range but since I almost always wear darker shirts even in the summer I am willing to buy the ugly clearance colors and patterns and typically spend closer to $30. Zulily has Elomi a few times a year: they are pretty cheap but don’t allow returns so I only buy bras that I know work for me. Breakout Bras also has some good sales. I usually have 3-4 bras at a time, wash between each wearing since big boobs = boob sweat, and replace every eight months or so.

      1. AliceBD*

        I also wear Elomi and Panache, so I will check out WomanWithin because I’ve been looking for more at-home bras! Also didn’t know to shop at Zulily and Breakout Bras so will check there.

        I do watch eBay, as I can sometimes get a bra I know I will like for $30 on there. I can’t count on it, but it’s always worth checking because getting a necessary item for 50% of the retail cost is always a win.

        1. chickabiddy*

          Zulily has an odd shopping model where they feature only a few brands each day. If you sign up, you can set your notifications so they will alert you the day before they put Elomi and Panache up on the site.

      2. No Belle of the Ball*

        I’ve been reading AAM for about a year, and it took a conversation about bras to bring me out of lurkdom! One of the first things I do when I get home from work is to take off my bra. Lately I’ve been thinking I’d love to have a comfy, stretchy bra to wear in the evenings. Do you have specific recommendations for stretchy cotton bras from WomanWithin?

        1. chickabiddy*

          The hundreds of posts make it so obvious that we all have different opinions (because we have different bodies, what a surprise, bra manufacturers!) but I will link the one that works for me below. The parent company FullBeauty has free shipping and returns with code WWSHIP if you order from their site so that’s where I am linking from.

            1. No Belle of the Ball*

              Thanks so much! I realize that what works for you might not work for me, but this gives me a great place to start looking.

    14. Emi.*

      Also, whoa, people, I’ve already gotten more responses from y’all than I got from Facebook in the last week. Thank you so much!

      1. not today*

        I’m late to read this and clearly in the minority, but wanted to say how much it sucks to wear a large band/small cup. I have found exactly one company that makes and stocks my 38AA size (in a very pretty and comfortable, but sadly very lumpy-under-shirts style that is almost never in stock, and then only in highly impractical colors for everyday wear). I resort to wearing a 36A with a strap extender. Still not the easiest size to find, but not as impossible as my real size.

    15. AlaskaKT*

      VS has the best bras in my opinion. To bad I don’t fit their largest size anymore! Personally I don’t wear bras anymore though, I stopped two years ago. My back and shoulders have never felt better!

    16. Anon for this*

      Filled it out. Does anyone else have a slightly asymmetrical rib cage? I’m like 30DD on one side and 32D on the other. I’m about to give up on underwire bras and finish making the switch to bralettes and sports bras.

      1. Gadget Hackwrench*

        Yes. Scoliosis FTW. Is it a pain thing? For me they just plain HURT, and not in the normal way.

    17. Effie*

      Oh my goodness I was so excited to see your post! I’ve worked in the lingerie industry for over 4 years (still tangentially related to my work) and I just took one of my best girlfriends bra shopping today (yup, it’s fun for me!). For proper sizing and great service, I recommend Nordstrom! I’m also partial to Bradelis (sadly exclusive to NYC currently; it’s a Japanese brand) since the salesladies get in the fitting room with you and make sure everything fits well (disclaimer: some saleslady-sticking-hand-in-your-bra-cup may occur). Further disclaimer that Bradelis is for women who really want to accentuate their cleavage.

      I really like Japanese brands best because 1. they fit me best 2. they’re super cute and functional! I’m petite full-busted and most retailers seem unable to produce girly functional bras in my size. There’s a great online site I like (shirohatoshop) that is based in Japan so you need to know your Japanese size (usually you need to go up a cup from your Western size, ie if you’re normally a 32D then you’d be a E70).

      ALSO my friend just told me about this site called Third Love where they have half sizes!!! Super exciting because due to hormone fluctuation I change bra size about three times a month but not really full cup sizes so I need bras that run tight, loose, etc. I haven’t tried Third Love yet but I’ve played around on their website and it looks good: you pay shipping upfront for a new bra, wear it for a couple weeks, and then decide if you want to keep it or return it (no fee to return it). If you keep it, then they charge your card $68 for the price of the bra. Also there’s no need to keep the tag on the bra – if you decide the bra isn’t for you and return it, they’ll clean it and donate it!

      Hope this helps!

      1. Ms Ida*

        I tried the Third Love bra and am really happy with it. They were featured in an article in the New York Times recently that was interes about a few bra and lingerie companies run by women.

    18. Epsilon Delta*

      Honestly for me the question is not “how much should I spend,” it’s “where can I find a bra that actually fits?” Based on measurements I should wear a 32A but in actuality bras of that size vary hugely in how well they fit. When I find a comfortable bra that is actually my size I will wear it until it’s no longer functional (usually this means too stretched out and doesn’t actually fit anymore).

    19. Nic*

      I’d absolutely suggest getting someone at whatever retailer to measure you. They’ll be able to tell you what sizes you need to look for in their products specifically. As some folks have mentioned sizes can vary significantly depending on the manufacturer and even the style.

    20. buzzbattlecat*

      For any of the larger cup ladies, there’s a great online lingerie shop based in Australia that has loads of brands, sizes, and YES! swimwear , and with the AUD to USD rate you might get a bargain. It’s bellaforma.com.au, be sure to check the size guide as they have brands from all over the world.
      I have a couple of gorgeous bikinis by Curvy Kate that I could choose band, cup and bottom size, and they actually are supportive!

    21. Anon for discussion of my undewear*

      I live in East Asia. Finding a bra in a 38D is difficult, and if I do find a bra in the right size, it’s some fancy push-up deal that’s just not comfortable. And in the lingerie stores in North America, I find a lot of the bras either don’t give enough support, or they’re the kind that has padding. Padding may look nice and smooth, but in a subtropical climate it’s like wearing a sponge that soaks through on my way to work and stays damp all day.

      The last time I was in North America and stocking up, I ended up with a bunch of boxed bras at the Bay (Canadian department store). They weren’t particularly fancy, but they had lots of support, thin fabric cups, and were quite reasonably priced ($20-30 each on sale).

      On a similar note, I was overjoyed to discover that Costco here sells comfortable stretchy cotton underwear in sizes up to women’s XL.

    22. Gadget Hackwrench*

      Will there be a “screw bras, I haven’t worn one in years” option on the quiz, because otherwise I can’t help you.

    23. Sorgatani*

      This whole thread is amazing.
      I filled out the form, and have been reading the discussion, but realized that the size I put in must be the Australian equivalent, and I took a guess at what the price translation would’ve been. I did not recognize most of the brands listed. Most recent purchases were a few Simone Perele outlet specials. I’m getting better at sizing for fit, but bra shopping tends to give my brain weasels a lot of exercise.

      I’m being reminded of a webcomic that was one of my favorites: Busty Girl Problems. It has some of the advantages too, like the “hands-free bath towel”, but most of it rang true for me.

    24. Christy*

      I only own one non-sports bra at a time, and I wear it daily. I’ve had my current one for right around a year, I think? Maybe two years. It’s finally getting time to replace it. I buy 38DD Wacoal bras.

      But I’m a monster (and I work from home so some days I just wear a sports bra).

    25. Hrovitnir*

      So I answered your survey but I don’t know if I should have considering I’m not in the US and the price may not map (I assume you’re in the US).

      I used to kind of wear whatever, as I had small breasts when I was slimmer. I deeply resented having to care about what I bought when I got bigger – though it was great to be fitted and realise the cup size is to do with the diameter of your breasts tissue, not the fullness of your breasts! The latter will depend by brand, but I could never figure out why things never fit properly before I got fitted.

      ANYWAY my friend introduced me to these bras and they’re great. http://www.bendonlingerie.com.au/bendon-damask-shaping-underwire-bra-black-20-7347-blak

      They’re comfortable (in as much as any underwire is), flattering on different body shapes, supportive, have a bunch of colours, are well made with nice wide straps, are not horribly expensive (note: that website is in AUS$ so cheaper for you) and come in a decent range of sizes – though the max waistband is 38. So yes, I am sold, and that’s all I buy now.

  5. Allypopx*

    I’m a little shaken up today. Sorry this is long.

    Five years ago I moved out of my home state and made a clean break with having my father in my life. I told him I was leaving, and that’s the last time I saw him. I hadn’t spoken to him for a couple years preceding that. My father is mentally unstable and incredibly manipulative and there’s a history of emotional and psychological abuse. I’ve made it very clear to all my contacts (and remind them occasionally) that access to my information is a privilege I will immediately revoke if I learn they are reporting back to my father about me. They understand and respect that.

    Today I got a message from mom telling me if I got a message from Wakeen that I shouldn’t engage because he was a friend of my father’s. Sure enough Wakeen had just friend requested me on Facebook. I blocked him. Apparently my father reached out to my mother and tried to talk Wakeen up so she’d encourage me to want to date him (I don’t live anywhere near Wakeen, he’s younger than me, and I have a partner) so that he could hand pick his son-in-law. He doesn’t know I have a boyfriend; he was just trying to create a mutual contact. He apparently told my mother he had Wakeen “hunt me down” and he was going to try to get in touch with me.

    Now “hunt me down” in this context meant find me on social media, but the verb choice has me feeling very unsettled. I sent a reminder to my contacts about not giving my information to my father or just people who they aren’t sure I’d want to have it, I checked and tightened the privacy on all my social media accounts, and my mother said as long as neither of us try to challenge him directly it’ll probably be the end of it. But I’m still on edge, having an exaggerated startled response and really wishing I could be home with the door locked instead of at work right now.

    1. Marillenbaum*

      I’m so sorry that happened to you; that sounds incredibly stressful. I’m also someone who doesn’t speak to their father for similar reasons, and I hear you on the importance of restricting access to information. Hopefully, it turns out that your mother is right about things dying down once he gets no response.

    2. Kj*

      I’m sorry, that sucks. I am glad you are reaching out to contacts to make sure they remember your request. Most abusers want a reaction, so I think your mom is likely right- lay low and it will blow over. Take care of yourself and summon Team You when you need them.

      Do you need to let work know as well? I don’t know if your dad could find your work contact information with ease- at my job, we all use the same conventions for assigning emails, so it is far too easy to guess a person’s email if you know their name.

      1. Allypopx*

        My work uses an email domain that isn’t overly easy to guess and I’m listed on our staff page with my full last name which I use professionally but not socially so I don’t think he’ll find me by searching.

        If I get reason to think he’s using those channels or shows any intention to travel here I’ll loop them in but for now I’d like to keep my personal drama out of my professional life if I can.

    3. Lord of the Ringbinders*

      I’m so sorry – Wakeen is what’s sometimes known as a flying monkey. They can really shake your sense of safety in your life. You might find the Reddit community raisedbynarcissists helpful.

      Self-care is especially important at these times – please try to be kind to yourself.

      1. Allypopx*

        Thanks – I will probably check that out.

        I took a half day today, just said I wasn’t feeling well. I’m gonna try to go home and decompress.

        1. Lord of the Ringbinders*

          I hope you can regroup a bit. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. It does get easier with time (and I say this not at all flippantly, after navigating four years of parental estrangement).

        2. Emlen*

          I just wanted to second the suggestion to check out r/raisedbynarcissists. That community alleviated a deep lonely pain I didn’t know I had. I’m sorry your dad is pulling this shit, and I wish you the best.

        3. kms1025*

          so very sorry…your father is behaving very stalkerish, as you well know…how would you handle this situation if he wasn’t your father but just some creepy dude??? do that… he has no God-given right to make you or you Mom miserable…keep your guard up, your privacy locked-down, and jus don’t engage with him…sooner or later he will get tired of getting no reaction from you…again, so very sorry…lived thru abusive behavior with an ex and asshats all seem to have basic creepiness in common, they’re bullies…stay strong girl

      2. Gadget Hackwrench*

        The worst thing about flying monkeys, is that they’re usually well meaning people who have no effing idea they are flying monkeys. The road to hell is indeed paved with good intentions.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Yeah, that is an interesting choice of verbs. I don’t blame you in the least for feeling unsettled about that, I think most people would find that disconcerting. On the good side of things you were warned, you saw it for what it was and you took action. You are in a different space than you were when he was so abusive to you. Things have changed and dad no longer has the control over your life that he used to have.

      I think you know to try to stay where there are people milling about and have timed check-ins with your partner, buddy system style. Stay strong. You have gotten this far, you can do this too.

    5. OhBehave*

      So sorry he’s creeping on you again. Is your name on social media Allypopx? If so, you should change it to something different. A friend changed hers to two initials (first name, maiden name) and married name. Thank goodness your mom called to warn you. Hoping you can relax after this incident.

      1. Allypopx*

        That’s an interesting suggestion. Is real name stuff really more secure? Allypopx isn’t the most anonymous name on here because it’s easily searchable to my other social media but it’s an obscure nickname from a friend I don’t find it an inherently insecure handle. I go anon here for things I don’t think my employers would appreciate stumbling upon.

        For life and networking I’d like to be somewhat googleable, which is a hard balance with this. I acknowledge that I might have to let go of that if it gets worse. But I’d hate to lose my internet presence over him that would be incredibly frustrating.

        1. OhBehave*

          I really meant is your name on SM your real name, such as Beth Anne Smith? I can’t imagine he would be able to find you based on the user name on this site. But given that your name should be searchable is a conundrum. You will just have to rely upon the privacy settings on your social media pages.

          1. Have to be anon right now*

            Ah yes – no he doesn’t know this handle and my real name is only on Facebook which is maxed out on security settings. And I exist in such separate spheres for real life personal and work and internet presence that you definitely could jump between those if you needed to, which is fine, but it would take some amount of time and effort and savvy and like you said, he doesn’t really have that. I have changed my handle on Tumblr because there are zero security settings there, and my irl name is no longer on twitter, so I feel reasonably balanced between “You can find me if you like my content and want to stay in touch across platforms” and “You can’t literally stalk me,” but it will probably require staying on top of things to maintain that.

            1. Allypopx*

              That’s weird. Not sure why that defaulted to my handle from the domestic violence thread, that was days ago. whoops.

    6. Observer*


      That sounds really rough. It’s good that your mother had the sense to give you a heads up. And, it also looks like your father is not as smart as he thinks he is. That’s a good thing, as it causes him to make mistakes that help you.

      1. Allypopx*

        Ugh the “like you said” in my post above was actually directed at you – I’ve had a long day.

        Yeah he suffers from bipolar induced narcissism (NOT a knock at anyone suffering from bipolar, his is intentionally untreated and this is a side effect), so he tends to go manic and overestimate his own abilities. My mom knows enough to just nod and not indulge him.

        1. Hrovitnir*

          Belated hugs/appropriate sympathy. I’m glad your mother and friends are on side. May he once again disappear from view for a good long time.

  6. De (Germany)*

    So, I don’t know if anyone remembers, but I posted here (under anonymous names usually) over the past two years about my three early miscarriages sometimes.

    I’m happy to report that 2.5 years after starting to try for a baby, I am now 13 weeks pregnant and everything is looking good.

    1. OhBehave*

      Yay! That’s great news. Also hoping you can breathe a bit easier now that some time has passed and things are progressing well.

    2. Phyllis B*

      Congrats!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I had two miscarriages then went on to have three children. Please keep us updated, and know we are all so happy for you!!

  7. Sensory Issues*

    Does anyone have recommendations for sleepwear that doesn’t have prominent seams under the arms?

    I used to be able to sleep naked but now I need something covering my shoulders and upper arms. Unfortunately, a baggy t-shirt just feels like it’s strangling me and anything tight means seams are rubbing where my arms touch my body. Both situations set off my claustrophobia.

    Ideally I need a shirt with seams on the outside. I might need to make one myself, but I thought I’d ask here first.

    1. Ktelzbeth*

      Some people I know find the seams bother them less if the shirt is inside out. A cap sleeve t-shirt would cover your shoulders and come a little ways down your arms, but not give you much material in the armpit.

    2. Temperance*

      What about a soft t-shirt that’s not saggy, but not really tight, like slightly form-fitting? I don’t really know what you mean by prominent seams, but I think Jamie’s idea about wearing the shirt inside out is a good one.

      1. Kj*

        Some of the kids I work with report those UnderArmor stretchy-type shirts help them not feel seams. Might be worth a try?

      2. Bibliovore*

        miss sensitive here. The Eileen fisher pajamas from Garnet Hill are the softest things on earth. Pricey but they hold up. Otherwise old 2 x t-shirts turned inside out.

      3. Elizabeth H.*

        Gap Body makes seamless t-shirts. I have one from there that I like a lot but from a while ago. Not sure what size you are but if you’re female and 6 or smaller you could probably wear XXL kids clothes which are often made to be softer/seamless (I have a ton of these). But I’d try Gap Body first – so soft and unalarming.
        Also, I’m sure you’ve tried or thought of this too but sleeping under a weighted blanket might help in general.

    3. chickabiddy*

      My kid had super sensory issues when she was younger and slept in Hanna Andersson long johns, which have flat seams and also come in adult sizes. They are not inexpensive but they are great quality and last forever. If you find that you like them and are not particular about colors or patterns, you can call the actual physical outlet stores and buy over the phone and have the items shipped to you (they do not advertise this and the outlet stores have deals that are not available in the online sale/clearance section).

    4. Aealias*

      Have you tried old-fashioned button-up pajamas? They leave your neck/throat clear and are usually loose enough to not contact your armpits.
      A seam on the top of the sleeve won’t solve the armpit-rubbing problem, because it’s tough to avoid a seam where the arm connects to the body. You might be able to get a seamless shrug knitted or crocheted for you? That’d cover upper arms, shoulders and back, have no seams, and leave your neck and as much of your chest as you want free. If you know a crafter.

    5. HannahS*

      If you manage to find one that has good seams but the neck binding bugs you, you can always cut it off–knitted fabric (what T-shirts are made of) will stretch out of shape, but won’t fray.

    6. EEEner*

      Try looking at dolman sleeve tops. They are loose under the arms, and often have the seams on the outside of the arm.

    7. tink*

      Target’s got some fluid knit tees with short sleeves, a slightly scooped or v-neck, and minimal seaming that might work for you? (Assuming you have a Target nearby.) The brand’s washed out of mine, but it was in the sleepwear section, is super comfortable, and came in sizes up to a 3X, iirc?

    8. Lady Julian*

      I’m wearing a drapey sleep T from VS that has a deep neckline (so it doesn’t feel like it’s choking me) and seams that are flat, more woven into the garment than anything; they don’t stick out at all! Plus, it falls to below my rear end, so I don’t feel the need to wear sleep trousers.

  8. bassclefchick*

    Another fun time at a silent movie this afternoon! Today it’s going to be Harold Lloyd in “Safety Last”. That’s the one where he’s hanging off the clock tower. We’ve seen this one, but it’s really funny so I don’t mind. I also enjoy watching the vaudeville acts before the movie. Maybe this time I’ll FINALLY win one of the door prizes.

    And can I just say that it’s been a pleasure seeing Jamie chime in on comments this week?! I’ve missed her insight and I’m glad to “see” her. *waves hello*!!

    1. Jamie*

      *waves back* I’ve missed you guys! Last couple of years things got ugly for me at ex-job so my only insight would have been “people are monsters and work is stupid” which isn’t usually helpful :) But now work life is great and personal life is getting there (world’s most amicable divorce …no pity, guys, definitely a good thing) just trying to figure out the next stage in the game and discovering all kind of new things about myself both exciting and terrifying….it’s an adventure anyway. :)

      1. bassclefchick*

        Yay! Glad things are going better for you. We’ve missed you! Sorry about the divorce, but glad it’s amicable. Congrats on new job, too. Hopefully, my work life will sort itself out this year.

      2. Ruffingit*

        So glad to see you here Jamie! Went through the amicable divorce thing myself a few years back so I know how that goes. May the next stage of your journey be an incredible adventure!

        1. Jamie*

          Thanks! I’m really hoping for some mindless debauchery, but it will probably be life as it’s been except now with less laundry and pumping my own gas.

          But since I keep forgetting to fill my car up that’s made driving an adventure! Will I get there on fumes? If not can you transport gas in a Hello Kitty travel cup?

          *kidding – I know one needs to use a certified container for transport.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        That had to be job from hell. Am so glad you got away from that. Glad new place is such an improvement.

      4. Mimmy*

        I too was pleased to see you commenting!! The awesome woman who inspired (okay…helped me pick…) my screen name! :) Sorry to hear things have been a bit rough lately but glad to see life going well for you again.


      5. One of the Annes*

        Good to see you here again, Jamie. I really missed your comments! Glad things are going well for you.

      6. Phyllis B*

        Yes, Jamie, glad to see you back. I have missed your comments/insight. Not to mention your sense of humor. Sorry for your personal trials, but sounds like things are going well for you. I’m glad.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Ooh how cool that you have a place to go watch them! I love silent films. My favorites are the horror films, LOL. The original Phantom of the Opera is deliciously disturbing–I’m not really interested in the Phantom as a romantic figure. I’m a HUGE Lon Chaney fan–my favorite silent film is one of his called He Who Gets Slapped. It’s a tragedy about a clown and that’s all I’m going to say. :)

      1. bassclefchick*

        Loved it! The organ is one of the few still in its original theaters. We ARE lucky to have such a great program. And the tickets are less than $10 each! Next time it’s The Thief of Baghdad, which I haven’t seen. Should be fun!

  9. nep*

    Anyone have a go-to workout — one you return to from time to time…as a sort of fit test, or when you need to get back on track and just want something familiar?
    I like to go back to a step / interval workout by ‘Missfit’ Kate Beeley and see how many rounds I’ve got in me.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Walking. Always walking. If I do it regularly, it knocks pounds off like nothing else–if I’m careful not to stuff myself, that is. I walked a lot more than usual in the UK and ate like a horse and actually lost weight.

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        Can confirm. We walked miles last weekend around potential new neighborhood and along the river. My pants were sagging off me this week. Result!

        I try to walk at lunch for 40 minutes and am looking forward to being able to walk 30 mins to work each way from new home.

        Also – attending gigs where you dance a lot can enable significant pound droppage if its in the 2-4 hour range. Bonus points if you avoid the mcdonalds after and haul ass for the bus!

    2. KR*

      I try to run through the entire Dying is Your Latest Fashion album. It’s a great album and keeps me pumped up at all the right times. It’s roughly 40 minutes straight through.

  10. Kj*

    Geek stuff!

    I’m going to be game master of my weekly role-playing game tomorrow for the first time! I’m both nervous and excited- it is something I’ve never done before, although I’ve been leading story games and playing the game I am set to GM for a while now. But GMing will be new to me.

    I’m also planning my CosPlay for a local con now. I’m going at Jyn from Rogue One and I’m super excited. For one thing, the outfit is comfortable enough to wear all day without being annoyed. For another, it looks great on me and is been pretty cheap to put together.

    Any one else here a geek and excited about anything coming up?

    1. Ktelzbeth*

      Good luck and congratulations on GMing for the first time! I was set up to do it a while ago, but things fell apart. Fingers crossed for you.

    2. LizB*

      Nice! I really want to try my hand at GMing some day, but need some more experience under my belt first (and a group to game with…)

      I just got the Widow’s Walk expansion for Betrayal at House on the Hill and am dying to try out the new haunts. I wish you could play that game with only two people… I need to round up a friend for a game night.

      1. Kj*

        Finding two player games can be hard. One reason I like some cooperative games is they go as low as 1 player. Semi-cooperative like Betrayal- not so much. If you like RPG games, there is a story game company, Less Than 3 games, that is publishing a bunch of 2 and 3 player story games. I have one from them I need to try out soon.

          1. AMD*

            If you are okay with some complexity, my war gaming husband and I have gotten a LOT of play out of Battlelore, and are really digging Stronghold, both made for 2 players.

    3. Amadeo*

      I am sitting here thinking of all of the geekery projects I have going that I need to get my butt up off of the computer and work on. I have another fan soap to make, I need to sand the ends of my Jedi General bracers and draw out a pattern to do the tabards and obi of my trial tunic run (I’m going to try to join the Rebel Legion, making a test tunic to show the judges to make construction corrections to before using my expensive fabric!) and all that good stuff.
      I have thought about gaming before, but am too much of an introvert to just walk in someplace and ask to join.

      1. Kj*

        Finding a game to join can be the hard part. Husband and I started this group- a couple of folks had played RPGs before, a couple hadn’t. We are using a newish-system that none of us had played before, so we got a feel for it together and no one was more advanced than the rest of us.

        Your cosplay sounds amazing! My sewing is not amazing, so I am limited, but I still enjoy it.

        1. Amadeo*

          I can sew a straight line. That’s about it. My mother has the skill but does not love it, if that makes sense. She’s helping me along the way.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Local Tinycon in Branson is coming up, but I can’t go (no moneys). This will be the second one in a row I’ve missed with my Doctor Who group. To be honest, it’s really sort of a lame con and I tend to get bored very fast, but I kind of feel sad I won’t get to go with my actual geek friends. I have no cosplay ideas–the first time we went together I was Donna Noble because I had the long red hair so it was easy to do. I have kind of a fun idea for next time if I get to go, but it would involve some construction and limited movement, LOL.

      But looking forward to more Marvel movies and Star Wars of course.

    5. Gadget Hackwrench*

      The last group I GMed still won’t let me live down the fire-ants encounter. It’s not my fault they decided to go into frigging death valley. It was going to be hella boring just wandering around dealing with water logistics and finding nothing. So go to sleep? Wake up covered in fire ants.

      I could say the geek thing presently excited about, but unfortunately it’s related to a fandom I’m too well known in (for cosplaying a particular character very well,) but which is also not sufficiently large to have lots and lots of well known fans, to mention it here without potentially identifying myself. But I’m definitely a geek and I love cosplay.

      One thing about cosplay though that irks me a little… and is related to the above. That cosplay I’m so well known for? It’s essentially closet cosplay. I had to hunt down the articles of clothing online, but they’re all there for purchase. The most complicated thing I did for that was alter a wig. The stuff I spent hours sewing from scratch… no one gave a crap, but this one, people gobble up, and it’s pretty clear why. I just so happen to bear an uncanny likeness to the actress who plays the character. That’s it. Nothing in my control. People put waaaay too much focus on how well you as a person are believable in the cosplay than the actual work you do on your costumes. It’s bull.

    6. Liane*

      GMing can be fun, although I prefer to be a player. I hadn’t GM’d in years, due to some bad experiences, but decided to try running Star Wars Age of Rebellion a few years ago. Nervous as heck. About halfway through the beta version module, I was having so much fun, I forgot I was GMing! Still running a campaign.

      Geekery I am looking forward to: Gamer Nation Con in Plano, Texas the end of March. My late birthday present. My husband and son are going AND one of my closest friends that I haven’t seen in a few years. Plus gamers and RPG writers I have only met online.

      1. Kj*

        Cool! I just got to go to my first Game-centric con (ComicCon is more standard for me). In fact, I got into it for FREE by doing some professional volunteering (and it is expensive and sells out fast). It was really neat to see the upcoming stuff and get to play all kinds of games. I’m not a big video gamer and the main floors were a bit too much for me, but it was still fun and they had plenty of RPG and board game stuff to do.

  11. rubyrose*

    I had my dog for 14 year when she passed 18 years ago. I’m right on the edge of committing to get another one.

    What I think I want: small (20 lb max), older (maybe around 6 years, even older), minimal barking (absolutely no yipping), not in need of daily long walks. No chihuahuas, no pit bulls, no puppies. Mutts are fine. Low key. Minimal health issues (would consider on a case by case basis).

    My situation: single, live in a first floor apartment, work at home (with some travel every 6 – 8 weeks), fused ankle which limits my walking ability. I don’t have many people in, so environment is low-key, quiet. I’m concerned about it being too boring for the dog. I have a fenced patio area, but the fence has a gap at the bottom of about 4 inches. Squirrels and rabbits come under it at times but never stick around very long. About every 18 months we do get an alert that there is a coyote in the complex, so I don’t foresee letting the dog be alone on the patio. Regular visits to a groomer no problem.

    I’ve been looking at adoption websites for over a month. I’ve been considering names (assuming the dog does not already come with one). I’m in Denver and we have a large number of rescue groups that bring in animals from high-kill states (think NM, TX, OK, AR, portions of KS, even LA). There are also organizations that are rescuing dogs from puppy mills. So there is a lot to look at.

    There seems to be a large discrepancy between adoption requirements. For example, it is obvious that one organization requires you to have a house with a fenced in yard, but they won’t come out and say it. Others want you to have a sibling for the dog. Some want you to give the vet’s name as a reference (how I’m supposed to do that since I have not had an animal for 18 years is beyond me). I know all of this is that they want the best for the dog. On the other hand, it has the effect of eliminating potentially good homes, which I know I can provide to the right little angel.

    I’m being gently discouraged by friends from getting an older dog. They want me to be able to mold the dog to what I want, don’t want any health problems, don’t want me to fall in love with the dog only to have them die in 2-3 years because of advanced age.

    So I think what would be helpful for me from this audience is to hear your experience with rescued dogs, adoption of older dogs, and dealing with adoption groups. And any advice you might have on specific breeds that might be a good match for me.

    I’m leaving right now. Petsmart is having an adoption event yesterday/today/tomorrow and I’ve decided to go. Will check in later, and thanks in advance.

    1. Bluebell*

      There’s a pretty wide spectrum of ages for dogs up for adoption. I’d recommend a dog in the 2-3 year old range. Past cute puppyhood but still many years ahead. Be very candid and detailed with the rescue with regard to energy level and they will try to match you appropriately. Good luck!

    2. Bibliovore*

      Good luck and take your time and remember “man plans and god laughs”
      I did not want an “old” dog. I did not want a small dog (under 25 lbs)
      There is a right dog for you out there. If you want a puppy great but there are no guarantees as to health etc with a puppy either.
      That said- I did not want an “old” dog. I went to lots of those “pet smart” etc adoption fairs.
      Yet here I am with a little old lady (over 10) Bijon. She came from a rescue group. She has all sorts of “issues” but once she was with me for awhile the medical issues calmed down. (or there was nothing to be done- cataracts, bad knees…)
      She does not need or want long walks.
      Her favorite thing is to curl up near by.
      We do not have a fenced in yard.
      Perhaps you can be a “foster” and give temporary refuge before figuring out your forever dog.

      1. rubyrose*

        Hearing that the medical issues calmed down – makes me feel better.
        Yeah, I’ve been wondering if I should foster. I think it is a viable option since I work at home.
        God does have a way of laughing, doesn’t she?

        1. Bibliovore*

          oh and little Miss Janie is a “foster fail” She was just supposed to be with us for the day while the rest of her rescue group went to an adoption fair to be paired up with their forever homes.
          They thought the experience would be too traumatizing for her and they couldn’t leave her back at her regular foster for the day. She spent the day shivering and shaking in the corner of my couch.

          It was one of those “if not me, who?” moments when the rescue group asked if we would keep her.

          Oh, and the vet who did her first physical and shots gave me the well- baby visit for free, (she does that for all rescue adoptions) I just paid for the meds.

    3. Zanar*

      Good luck on your search! We just got a 2-yr old rescue and it was so nice to be past that housetraining stage. (All our others we got as puppies). It’s taken him a few months to loosen up and either learn or feel comfortable playing.

    4. Jamie*

      I am such a huge advocate of adopting older dogs…they are wonderful companions. We don’t chose spouses or friends weve only known since birth :)

      and my daughter works at PetSmart and is working the adoption today – so excited she’s been volunteering at shelters since little and this is her calling to place animals in forever homes. If you’re in Illinois hit me up on Facebook and if you’re going to her PetSmart I’ll hook you up with the best matchmaker in the business!

      1. rubyrose*

        Sorry, not in Illinois, but thanks for the offer!
        You are correct. I have thought about how if my friends (all older adults) chose the new people in their lives applying the standard they want me to apply they would not have anyone new in their lives.

    5. Sas*

      The plus sides to getting an older dog: they are out of the destructive stage, they have learned some essentials already (potty-training), they make great companions that appreciate the love that you can give. No one knows how long you’ll have a dog. I have done it after getting puppies. It is totally amazing. You are rescuing a dog from a scary and uncertain future. You can get training for the things that the dog doesn’t know already. You can make this dog, as any, your OWN. Your friend. I work with dogs, sitting and what not. Good whatever you decide.

          1. Bibliovore*

            oh AND although it was soon clear that she was not “house trained” there were very few accidents until we figured out to leave a pee pad by the front door. AND she trained us that there was no way she was doing her business outside when it was 15 degrees. She would suffer the walk, do nothing, and immediately pee on the pad once back inside. Of course she is only 9 lbs so her elimination is minuscule.
            TMI- as soon as she “does her business” she comes and finds us and does a happy, happy dance. At first I thought she was asking to go out and I would go to the front door to take her. Now I know she is actually saying “look!look!, I did a pee-pee!!!!”

    6. periwinkle*

      I don’t adopt older dogs but only because we’re cat people. I used to show a very rare breed and wanted to stick with the breed after I got tired of showing, so I wound up communicating with the person who ran the rescue group for this breed. It was pretty uncommon for cats to need rescue but it was usually older cats, and most people don’t want older cats. We’ve given a forever home to 5 breed rescues who ranged in age from 7 to 11 when they crossed our doorstep.

      Your time with older rescues is relatively short, but those few years are wonderful.

      We also have four shelter adoptees, all from the same rescue group. We’re in the Seattle area which, like Denver, imports a lot of adoptable animals from high-kill shelters elsewhere. Three of our four came from the same high-kill California shelter. Rescue groups around here have different adoption requirements. We adopted from a place that didn’t have tough restrictions, but did require in-person interviews and all household adults to be present for the adoption.

    7. LCL*

      My last two dogs were shelter dogs. The 6 year old was a bit dog aggressive, but shelters check for that now. She was a great dog, lived to be 13. The dog we have now, the pointer, was adopted when he was a year old. He was a maniac crazy dog for awhile, but pointers are like that when they are young. He is an awesome dog.
      With your limited ability to exercise, you sound like a pug person. Don’t get a puggle unless you can find out how active it is. Definitely don’t get a pointer!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Pugs are a great idea. A family member had one and it was perfect for her. When it was time to go in the house if the dog did not move, she would just pick it up. No fuss, no muss. Likewise with vet trips, pick the little guy up, put him in the car and off you both go.

        1. Bomb Yogi*

          I adopted a Pug mix through a rescue group this past summer and she has been such a joy to our family. She is three years old and a lot of fun. Don’t be discouraged by the “intensity” of some of the rescue groups out there. Before we got our dog, we looked at several groups and some of the people running them had very unrealistic expectations (i.e owner needed to not have a full-time job, must have a fenced in yard, had to have 2 vet references, etc.) The group we got our dog from was one of the best run, most caring that we encountered and they weren’t crazy in the slightest.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I think as you meet dogs that will help also.
      A friend brokered an adoption. One person had a dog that needed a home ASAP. Another friend was looking for a low key companion dog. This friend had disabilities that meant he lived a pretty mellow, low key life. He thought he wanted a different breed. He ended up with a basset hound from the first person who had to find his dog a home. The dog ended up being perfect. It was content to just curl up in whatever room the person was in and nap.

      There is nothing like meeting the dogs because they are such individuals. And there is a tendency for them to pick us. Sometimes they know who they should go with.

    9. OhBehave*

      We only adopt rescue/shelter dogs. Sweethearts one and all. As long as there is a window available for our pup, she is content to look outside all day long. She will sit on the steps and watch out the window for the kids to come home from school. She always goes to this spot at 2:30!
      Not every youngish dog is an energetic one. We adopted ours when she was 1 1/2 years old – she’s part shepherd. She’s a chill pup and doesn’t need much activity. She does love walks, but is content to stay put as well. We’ve had her for 10 years.

    10. rubyrose*

      Back from Petsmart – actually, 2 of them. Did not find what I was looking for, but was impressed with one of the groups and am putting in the online application. They are fine with apartments and looked at me strangely when I asked if they required a vet recommendation.

      After reading all of your wonderful comments and the visits, I am reconsidering the age, meaning being open to a dog a bit younger. Yes, a younger one would be fine if it is low-key.

      Thanks for the comments and insights.

    11. KR*

      I adopted Jerry last March. I didn’t know it at the time but he’s 25% Chihuahua, 12.5% English Springer Spaniel, and the rest is hound/terrier/hunting/guard dog mix (I had a DNA test done). He’s fluffy, 45 lbs, and perfect for me. I adopted him when he was 10 and I love him. He’s low energy so if we don’t get to a walk in a couple of days he’s okay. He’s already housebroken, good with everyone, and knows his manners since he’s 10, but he’s still proven adaptable to learning my habits and preferences. Honestly he’s had some health problems but I think he’s worth it and I think he still has 3 to 5 years left. I think an older dog is perfect for what you’re looking for. Most rescues will know that an older dog doesn’t nessecarily need a huge yard or someone who will walk them five times a day. Also, the adoption rate is cheaper.

    12. scarydogmother*

      Please don’t be discouraged from adopting. The right guy or gal is out there waiting for you. I adopted an 8 year old beagle in 2007. He died last year at age 16 and I feel like he will always be my soul mate. If you’re unable to do long hikes or runs and have a “boring” lifestyle (as I usually did), you can’t go wrong with a senior pet. I bet a retired greyhound would be a good match but in general I’d advise evaluating the dogs you meet as individuals rather than breeds. I volunteered as an adoption coordinator for a dog rescue in the D.C. area for a few years when I lived there. Happy to discuss further if you want.

    13. ChemMoose*

      We went hunting for the right dog about 3.5 yrs ago. It was my first dog w/o my parents. We had a goldilocks experience with various rescue groups. First place too old (14 yrs+), second place too young (<1 yr), last place just right (4-6 yrs). Since we were in an apartment that had a weight limit of 20 lbs, we looked for smaller dogs. I was also in graduate school, so I didn't have a lot of time to do long walks.

      I got my best friend, Threo, a 5 y.o. Lhasa Apso who was given up by an older couple. He has dry eye, and pigmentosa (essentially he's blind). We discovered this year that he has a heart murmur. That being said, he doesn't have meds (just some OTC eye drops), loves to just be with you, can sleep all day, and enjoys a short walk once in a while. Super trainable, smart, and is super lovable. He's done a few cross country flights to travel with us when we go places too. He's a flight champ! Best thing – his life expectancy is 16 – a full decade after we got him (assuming his heart stays good). The longest living Lhasa was 28 (which could be two decades of life!).

      I'll recommend the smaller breeds, but I'll also say we have a preference for Lhasa Apsos, Shih Tzus, and Havanese. Best of luck finding a fur friend.

  12. Namast'ay in Bed*

    Does anyone have any househunting advice? I’m starting down the road to home ownership (yay!) and want to know if there are any non-obvious things to look for or advice you wish you had gotten when it comes to actually looking at houses.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Jamie*

      Your realtor will want to show you things outside of your price range “just to get an idea.”

      Don’t. They don’t care if you have to eat ramen for the next 10 years as long as their commission check clears. Know what you can afford and stick to that range. Because once you’ve seen houses way more expensive that what you can afford it makes the stuff in your range look like a downgrade and this should be exciting.

      And if you have non-negotiables and they continually try to talk you into something with a deal breaker dump them and get another realtor. I couldn’t have been clearer that we needed 4 bedrooms and at least 2 baths. Call about the perfect house, I took off work early (at that time in my career was a very big deal) and showed up at a 3 bedroom one bath house. So angry I walked off without a word.

      1. bunniferous*

        Depending on your area (and this advice REALLY depends on the area!) you can look at slightly higher houses and negotiate down. That said, it probably is a good idea to make your ceiling less than what the mortgage company tells you. But a good agent will NOT do what Jamie describes precisely because it is just like Say Yes to the Dress-nothing you can afford will look as good after, you will keep looking and not buying, and THAT is what nobody wants.

        1. bunniferous*

          And oh yes, if they do not listen to your nonnegotiables FIRE THAT AGENT. My son had to go thru two-the third one finally listened to him regarding what he wanted. He is in Texas so we could not help him directly (my husband and I practice in NC) but yeah, that should be basic Real Estate 101 and I am so sorry to hear Jamie had that experience. Not cool at all.

      2. periwinkle*

        Better yet, skip that part of the House Hunters routine. We have this cool thing called the internet! Go to Redfin, Zillow, local realtor websites, and whatever else is out there. Filter for the price, features, location, etc that you want. Look through the photos, use Google Maps to scope out what’s nearby, use Google Street View to check out the neighborhood. YOU choose what houses to view.

        We bought through Redfin. You’re assigned a main agent who will handle the paperwork bit; you’ll usually view houses with a showing agent. We used their site (cross referenced with others) to identify the houses we wanted to see, requested showings, and met with the showing agent at the property(ies). When we decided on a house, we worked with our main agent to submit the offer and negotiate with the seller. The nice bit about Redfin is that since you’re doing the work of finding suitable properties to views, you get a chunk of their commission back; it can be applied directly to your closing costs, which is what we did. Easy peasy, and no being dragged to houses that clearly didn’t meet our criteria!

        Oh yeah, about the money bit… get pre-qualified so you’ve got a ballpark figure for what they’ll approve for a mortgage. And then – look for properties under the max amount. If this is your first home you want something nice enough but it doesn’t have to be your Dream Home and you definitely do not want to be “house poor.” There are a lot of things a first-time homeowner probably doesn’t already own – lawnmowers are expensive! Based on our income, down payment, and credit rating, we could have been approved for up to $X; I set my max price filter to about 70% of X and we bought a place that was about 50% of X. It’s not perfect but we love the house and really love not being worried about having enough for the mortgage.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I’ve been curious about Redfin’s model. Did you think there were any downsides to not having a traditional agent relationship? When I was looking at houses a couple of years ago, we used Redfin to see some listings and it seemed so easy that I kept wondering if I was overlooking downsides to their whole set-up.

          1. periwinkle*

            If you have unusual requirements or don’t know the area well, an experienced realtor would be helpful. I think that would also help if you couldn’t quite define what you were looking for; seeing a variety of homes could help that process.

            In our case we were renting and had some time to scope out neighborhoods. Also, whenever I found a listing that looked worthwhile, I’d use Google Maps’s street view to “drive” to the nearest roads leading to work/commercial areas. We knew our mandatory requirements, nice-to-have-but-optional features, and deal breakers. This all made it pretty easy to narrow down Redfin listings. Viewing agents can add positive or negative comments to a listing based on what they got to see during a client tour (visible by registered users, registration is free), which can be very helpful. Once you’re set up with Redfin as an active buyer, you can easily schedule viewings of whatever looks promising.

            It was pretty painless! The only downside is that you’re on your own to pick the properties, and that’s not too tough if you know what you’re looking for. We got about $1500 back and had Redfin apply that directly into the buyer-paid closing costs. I had some questions and concerns as a first-time buyer, and my agent was great about answering questions. I’d use Redfin again without hesitation.

          2. Triangle Pose*

            Nope! None at all. I used them and got my Redfin agent through a trusted friend. Their pay is based on customer reviews instead of selling more expensive home for a better commission. That said my partner and I are both lawyers so we didn’t need anyone to help with the documents so I can’t speak to whether Redfin agents are better or worse in that vein.

          3. Cas*

            I don’t know about Redfin but the first part sounds like how we do it in Australia. It’s fairly uncommon to have an agent finding listings for you rather than you finding your own places to look at.

            The seller pays commission to their agent, but the buyer is just paying their own legal and tax expenses, etc. In a big area, there are two set inspection times a week and you can call the seller’s agent if you want a different time.

          4. bunniferous*

            As to finding houses, it is the rare agent that cannot hook you up with customer access to the actual MLS info which means you get access to everything that is out there-updated (a big problem with zillow sometimes. They have houses listed that have long been sold.)

            As to commissions-Let me break that down for you. Since antitrust laws prevent me from telling you what a typical commission is, I have to be careful here. But for an example: if a house is listed at 6 percent commission, that breaks down as follows: the listing company gets three percent, the selling company gets three percent. Let us say your agent is with xyz company. The split between the company and the agent depends on a lot of factors that are negotiated, but much of the time the company gets at least half and the agent gets half or less. With those kinds of numbers, your agent is not sitting there trying to make you buy a house way out of your price range.

            Now, a lot of mortgage sources have started running programs where they provide you an agent. What they do not tell you is they are taking a very big chunk out of that agents already low percentage of that commission, and the agent is prohibited from letting you know that. I work with foreclosures myself and do not deal with that stuff personally but the individual agent-who has to pay big MLS fees and dues and their own taxes and advertising and gas and on and on….well, the vast majority of them are not getting rich off buyers.

            If an agent is doing his or her job well, they are overseeing a lot of things that make the transactions go smoother. If you are selling, they are the ones who handle the showings and advise you during negotiations. If you are buying they keep you from getting ripped off by overpriced houses, and again, help you negotiate both price and any needed repairs. Most of the time they work very long hours, weekends, nights, and at the end of the process you have made not just a professional contact but a friend. Buying a house is made up of so much more than just seeing something you like and getting a mortgage for it. It is very possible to make a very very costly mistake when making the most expensive purchase most people ever make in their lives. These days a good agent is as much of a consultant as anything else. Plus if you are buying, most of the time you are not paying for their services at all.

            1. Work in real estate*

              I second this. I am not a realtor, but I work in the real estate field. Real estate agents do not make nearly as much money as people think they do for the amount of work they do.
              As with most things, unless you truly now what you are doing, you are far better off paying someone who does it day in and day out to help rather than trying to do it yourself in order to save a few bucks.

          5. Meg*

            I bought my house with Redfin and had a great experience! But there is only one agent in my mid-size town, for example, so a lot would depend on how you got along with the one in your area. We sent him houses that we wanted to see, and he would send some options, as well. Very much enjoyed getting that $2000 check, also. :)

      3. super anon*

        Your realtor will want to show you things outside of your price range “just to get an idea.”

        My partner is a realtor and he would never do this. This is a trick that bad realtors would use – not good ones. A good agent knows that a bit more money now is worth a lot less than a satisfied client who will refer you to others, and will use you for their future home purchases.

        Doing this also makes the agent’s job harder. A good agent will show you places that fit your specifications and f you have gotten a mortgage pre-approval, that fit into that price range as well. If you can’t afford a more expensive place, and can’t get a mortgage for it, your agent doesn’t get commission. A good realtor will also send you a list of homes & their feature sheets that they’ve compiled for you to choose from. You can then decide which listings you want to see (or you can search MLS yourself and request your realtor to make showings for them). This ensures your time and the realtor’s time isn’t being wasted showing you properties you either aren’t interested in, or can’t afford.

    2. Sarah G.*

      Get a real estate agent you trust 110% and who doesn’t show you places that don’t fit your needs and budget. Same with mortgage broker/lender. Go with your gut and don’t rush.

    3. periwinkle*

      Look past the shiny stuff like flower arrangements, sleek staging, and that lovely fresh-baked cookie smell so common at open house events. Ignore all that and pay attention to room size and flow. Are the individual rooms big enough for the furniture you have/want and the activities you’ll do there? How is the kitchen workspace?

      Open and close every door, drawer, cabinet, and window. Buy an inexpensive outlet tester that also checks for GFCI (under $15 at Home Depot/Lowes/Amazon/etc) and test all the outlets. Yes, even in new construction – trust but verify. Turn on all the hardwired lights (track lighting, chandeliers, wall scones, etc). Turn on every faucet, including the shower, and check water pressure.

      Look at the walls and definitely look at the ceilings. Any visible cracks or visible patching of cracks? What about the driveway and outdoor walkways and foundation? As long as you’re looking down, check out the flooring. Is the carpet pulling up at the edges or pillowing out in the middle? Any damage to vinyl or tile? How does the hardwood look? If there’s laminate, how does it feel? (cheap laminate feels papery)

      We were fortunate in taking our first house tour with someone who had been a home inspector. He pointed out structural issues that could cause expensive problems and others which were okay for now but could cause problems later.

      It’s a bit like dating. You might fall in love at first sight but you’d better make sure it’s a love worth keeping! We toured several houses we liked a lot but then walked into one and just knew it was it. Our inspector agreed, and here we are.

    4. bunniferous*

      My advice? Remember Zillow info is inaccurate. Find a buyer agent and make sure they have been in the business for at least five years. It takes that long for them to really know what they are doing. Have this agent give you a list of five mortgage people to talk to-pick a couple of them and reach out to them. You will get better deals with financing if you do-not just money wise but stress wise.

      If you find a house or area you like, try to talk to neighbors. They will know things your agent may not.

      A lot of houses built in the 90s, at least in my area, almost invariably have rot problems in the outside chimney area. Watch for that.

      A good house inspector is worth his or her weight in gold.

      Avoid short sales if at all possible. They will break your heart. A bank can kill the deal right up to the last minute if they figure out they can make more money by foreclosing on it. And that happens way more often than not. There is no sentimentality in the banking industry.

      For the rest, ask your good local agent. All real estate is local and they will know what matters in your area. Remember, at least five years in business! Ask your friends/people you respect for people they recommend.

      Finally, remember that closing dates are not set in stone. It is the rare deal where the closing date stays the same. If you know that ahead of time you will not be so stressed.

      Happy looking!

    5. Gene*

      My personal opinion is a requirement that there is no HOA. While there are good, well run ones out there, in my experience they tend to attract the neighborhood busybodies to got into leadership positions. Like the woman who walked around with a ruler, measuring people’s grass. :-/

      Jamie’s advice on holding to your non-negotiables is good. If you’re in the snow belt, are you on a plow route? Where is mail delivered; to the door, in front of the house, at a group box two blocks away? Are there trees that will shed needles or leaves into the roof and require frequent gutter cleaning? If the house has a basement, are there sewer drains or any plumbing in it? If so, unless the house is on a hill and the basement floor is above street level, is there a sewer backflow preventer? Is there any chance of surface water flooding like a detention pond uphill? Make sure you’re insured for flood. How close is the nearest airport? Is the house under any likely flight path?

      1. Jamie*

        All of this…which didn’t occur to me to check. Next time I move will you fly in and pick the house for me…it would be worth whatever your per diem rate is to not have to try to think anymore.

      2. the gold digger*

        Is the roof pitched toward the driveway? If you are in a place where it snows, this means that your driveway will turn into the Icy Driveway of Death as snow melts onto it.

        Don’t buy a corner lot if you are in a place that snows – it means twice as much sidewalk to shovel.

        1. rubyrose*

          And speaking of snow – looking at this time of year you might not walk into the back yard because of it. But you need to. Because come summer you will be responsible for mowing that yard and it is better to know right now exactly how big that yard is.

        2. Clever Name*

          We specifically bought a house that faces west because of the driveway melting issue and also because I wanted a back patio that was shaded in the evening.

      3. Delta Delta*

        Second on the no HOA. There are some good things – coordinating plowing and trash and whatnot. There are some bad things – like the ruler lady, or like in a HOA where I once lived where the president embezzled tens of thousands of dollars and actually later landed in federal prison for it (and for embezzling from several other places, too).

      4. Mike C.*

        What’s the issue with airports and flight paths? Or is this something else entirely?

        If it’s a noise thing, also look into gun ranges and race tracks. All three create noise and incidentally folks like to buy cheap land around them then get mad when they hear something.

        /Yes, people do buy homes close to the largest airplane factory on earth and complain when they hear airplanes taking off and landing.

        1. Gene*

          Yes, the noise factor. Funny thing is, I’m about a mile away from the Boeing widebody plant as the crow flies. :) And I can sometimes hear the police firing range near Forest Park.

        2. periwinkle*

          My house is on the flight path for Paine. It can be a little noisy but only for brief moments; smaller business jets are hella noisier than the widebodies. If the flight tracking app indicates that rumble was a delivery flight (such as a 777 departing PAE with a destination of DXB or a Dreamliner off to TPE), I regard the noise as just the sweet sound of money…

          On the other hand, living on the flight path of an airport with commercial service would get annoying fast.

          1. FDCA In Canada*

            Until they changed the flight paths a couple of years ago, my parents lived directly under one of the major approaches for O’Hare. During peak times, there was a plane overhead about every 120 seconds. And it was noisy enough that if you were sitting outside you’d have to stop talking until it passed. Now, they didn’t particularly mind, but you would not believe the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the people who lived nearby–who had bought the homes knowing full well where they were. Lord in heaven, you would have thought they’d farmed that land for 500 years and O’Hare had been built in the past six months from the way they complained.

          2. Mike C.*

            It really depends on the planes used – if they stick to planes with the chevrons on the engines (787, 737MAX, 747-8) then noise is going to be really low. 777s, 737s and Citations are really loud. I remember watching a 787 and a Citation X take off back to back and it was like the difference between a Prius and a Harley.

            Running 747-LCFs (Dreamlifters) at 11pm or 2 or 4 am is really a bit much, however.

            1. Gene*

              How about Saturday, 2PM, at The Chocolate Mill, 11706 Mukilteo Speedway A100? It’s in the QFC center, at the south end.

              Let me know if you plan to be there at thenoid105 at the Gmail.

              I’m easy to recognize, long gray hair and beard, aloha shirt, and kilt.

        3. the gold digger*

          My aunt and uncle have owned a commercial stables in Colorado Springs for decades. As in, there are horses. Horses on the paths and on the dirt road into the mountain. Horses means horse poop.

          They have been there for at least 20 years – maybe 30.

          People have bought property to build houses near the stables in the past decade and have gone to the city to complain about the horse poop. Honestly.

          1. Jersey's Mom*

            Nearby cornfields means spreading of liquefied manure in the fall and early spring, usually when you’ve just opened your windows to catch “fresh air”. We call it “dairy aire” out here.

        4. Mephyle*

          Our first house was under a flight path AND our back yard backed onto a railway. We were young and thrifty, and congratulated ourselves on the good deal. We still have fond memories of going to the far end of the back yard and lifting our small children onto our shoulders so they could see over the barrier and get a closeup view of a passing train.

      5. Nic*

        I agree on the HOA. Also, if possible swing by the neighborhood at different hours (morning, afternoon, evening). You’ll notice things like school zones, streets packed with kids playing, stray cats everywhere, or in the case of my neighborhood, a 50ft high cross behind a church on a hill, that turns out is electric and is practically daylight bright to any houses within 100 yards. Gathering centers such as churches and community centers can cause traffic backups.
        Look for train tracks. Low water crossings that might leave you trapped in a flood.
        Having a place you can get basics (like a walgreens or similar) that you can get to without having to cross a highway or get far out of the neighborhood is helpful when feeling sick.

        Good luck on house buying!

        1. Nic*

          Oh yeah! And try to get a record of the last year’s utilities, if possible. It can give you a heads up on things like inadequate insulation.

    6. really*

      Since houses are usually show during weekends or during the day if you find one that you like drive to it during rush hours (both morning and evening). I knew a women who only saw the house on a Sunday and found it almost impossible to turn left out of her driveway in the mornings and had to wait to turn left.

    7. really*

      Check how many and where the electrical outlets are.
      Don’t fall in love with any thing. You need to be somewhat objective. Be realistic about any trade offs and how much work you can/will do.

    8. CAA*

      Look at the trees. Specifically any trees that you would not own but that affect your property in any way. Find out what they are and what they drop and if you are allergic to them or their pollen.

      (If they happen to be olive trees, run away and find some other place to buy. Walking on olive pits is like walking on marbles, and the oil from the fruit stains everything, and gets tracked in on your shoes.)

      1. periwinkle*

        When I lived in northern CA, the apartment complex was thick with olive trees that were sprayed annually to prevent fruiting. One year, they forgot to spray.

        I used to hate olives. After that fruiting season, I now loathe olives with the burning energy of a thousand suns.

        1. CAA*

          Yeah, the city sprays a fruit stop on the trees since they’re in the parking strip and they officially own them (which is also why we can’t remove them). The spray has to hit them at exactly the right stage of development though, and sometimes they miscalculate or the part of the tree that faces south has more mature flowers than the part that faces north or something, so we still get olives and pits every year, they just have less flesh on them than if they were never sprayed. And if these trees are not dropping olives, then it’s pollen or leaves. I hate them.

      2. Gene*

        Olive trees in the area are a hard no for me. They bloom at night and I end up in the hospital, unable to breathe; and that’s after 3 years of allergy shots. Also a big part of the reasons I left Phoenix. If your whole forearm turns into one giant welt during testing from that one prick, the allergist will call all his buddies in to look at it and take photos, then you’ll have to come back to redo everything it wiped out…

      3. Anon for this*

        Also consider weather patterns when you look at trees, like hurricanes or tornados. Hurricanes tearing down pine trees is a real problem where I live. They damage houses, injure people, take down power lines, etc.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Random things:

      Take the mortgage amount that you have been preapproved for and REDUCE it by 33%. That new lower number is your price range.
      This will help protect you for WHEN the house needs repairs. It’s not “if” it needs repairs, it will need repairs. There’s no avoiding it. Let’s say a house is in great shape. Okay, then a tree in the yard might get hit with lightening, it’s always something no matter how hard you try to avoid repairs.

      My big concern based on life experience is to look at the lot drainage. First look to see if there are swamp trees growing in the yard. I totally missed this point. I ended up with a houseboat not a house. I love my house and I eventually got the lot draining but it was a 20 plus year saga.

      Houses built into the sides of hills often times have damp basements. Yes, that can be fixed or the problem can be lessened, but is the house worth the battle?

      Roofs, furnaces and foundations can be spendy repairs and a nightmare if you have to do the repairs when you move in. Check the expensive things.
      Houses will give you clues if you let them, that roof is bowed for a reason, that floor is weak for a reason, there is a crack in the foundation for a reason. Ask why. It could be minor or it could be major.

      When you are serious about the house bring a trusted friend or family member with you to help you look at the house objectively. Remember, it’s not the last house on earth, it’s okay to let go of it no matter how much you love it.

      For my price range I was not choosing a house. I was choosing which set of problems I wanted to deal with. I opted for something that had a logical floor plan and was easy to live in and in a safe area- low crime, low traffic. It had enough space for our serious, long term interests such as books and it had a workshop area.

    10. Swoop*

      I’m assuming you’re buying in an area you already know. If you’re moving there rent for a year until you get to know it :)

      To add to things others have said: open the closets and sniff for damp, turn on the taps and make sure they work, and really listen to your gut (if it doesn’t like the paint colour that’s one thing, but if you have a weird feeling about the place listen hard. Same with an unaccountably good feeling)

      Know your market. You might be able to get by without a realtor, but in some markets good places sell before they hit the listings and the only way to have a chance is with a realtor.

      Remember that you only own what you own, so if a big selling point is the empty space across the way or the view that might change. If a negative is a farm or an airport that probably won’t change, no matter who tells you what.

    11. OhBehave*

      Just because the bank pre-qualified you for $xxx doesn’t mean that should be your price range! Ours preq us for a ridiculous amount but we did not bite.
      Don’t use the home inspector recommended by the Realtor. Do your homework and know what they should be looking for. A good resource online is Mike Holmes. He’s known to go overboard, but at least he has solid advice.

      If you have kids, or my have them in a few years, what is the school system like? The neighborhood; is it safe, good area for kids to play, etc.

      Make a list of “must haves” and “would be nice”. You want a double sink in the master/main bathroom. You are told that it’s easy to add another sink. Nope. Unless you are super handy and want to make that change when you move in, don’t give up.

      As others have suggested, the internet is a gold mine of information. You can save so much time by finding your own listings to visit. But don’t hesitate once you have found something. If you live in a hot market, then desirable listings won’t last long. We typically see houses sold in a week once listed.

      Drive around neighborhoods you would like to live in and check out the listings. You may find some FSBO (For Sale By Owner) that you missed online. These are fine to deal with. Drive that area during different times of day. Is it ok with you that your neighbor might work on his cars from 7pm to midnight with the noise that comes with such work? Is there ample on-street parking? Helpful if you have a one car garage while you own two cars or have kids with cars.

      Have fun with open houses and don’t judge a book by its cover. There just may be a jewel inside.

      1. Bibliovore*

        All good advice. Plus. Walk the neighborhood in the day time and at night. Go on a Saturday night- are you next door to the Teenage Party House. Go by during the day. Is there a dog tied up on chain, barking, barking, barking.
        Walkability Score. How far are you to the nearest grocery.

        When you visit a house- Is there music playing- ask for it to be shut off (the backyard might be right next the a busy street or on a flight path)
        Is this house next to long stop light? (asthma alert)

        Are you on the wrong side of the county line. (yes there is such a thing)
        If you are excited about the schools check to make sure there isn’t a redistricting in the works.

        Do not be afraid to ask questions- keep a tablet handy- What is under this carpet? Asbestos tile? whoops.
        How old is and when was the last time are important questions.
        Factor the age of the hot water heater into the price that you are willing to pay.
        Appliances- if there is nothing in the fridge of an occupied house that is a sign. (yes, I didn’t see the sign)

    12. Artemesia*

      Note that your realtor’s interests and yours are not the same; they do better if you get a bad deal. So know that you are on your own in making decisions. Use zillow and other resources to find out what similar homes or condos in the same building or area are going for. Know what things are costing. Note that homeowners will cover up defects so look with a critical eye. If there is a giant pot in the corner of the living room with a fake tree in it, probably the floor under it is damaged. Use your eyes., check all functional things like faucets, toilets, appliances etc (obviously when you are thinking of making a bid, not for casual looks)Have a clear idea of how you live and what is critical to your happiness in a house. Different areas have different dynamics so talk to as many people you can who have purchased recently. We got sort of hosed on our last purchase; wish I had taken my own advice and had had more experience.

      1. bunniferous*

        PLEASE remember Zillow is INACCURATE. It is fine and recommended to use ACCURATE sources to check prices but that is NOT ZILLOW.

        1. Being here now*

          Our house is actually on Zillow with two values. Same address. if you search for our address it randomly pulls up one or the other. There is about a $40,000 difference between the two values.

          1. Nic*

            I just checked mine, and it said that my lot is over 8k acres. It’s less than one. It also mentions central AC, but not central heat, and has the cost estimate at a good 25k more than I paid.

    13. Elizabeth West*

      Ooh thanks for asking this. I’m going to bookmark the question for moving (apartment hunting in future).

      When I bought my house, I thought getting an older house would be cheaper, but it’s falling apart. It will cost me more to fix it up than I will ever make from it. All-original is not the best thing. So I would consider what sort of upgrades you are willing and able to do. I wish I had gotten closer to what I wanted rather than picking something thinking I would change stuff. I literally have not even painted, really need to, and now I don’t want to spend the money even for that.

      Also, I would go to the neighborhood at different times of the day on different days to see what the noise level is like, traffic, etc.

    14. FDCA In Canada*

      We’ve bought two houses now and we have to do it all in a week-long whirlwind that gives absolutely zero time for “just for fun” looking. This means we have no extra time to spend on “hmm, let’s just look at it and see,” all the houses we look at need to already fit all of our criteria. When finding a realtor, interview them first–ask how long they’ve been working, what they specialize in (some realtors specialize in certain types of homes or areas), whether they’re familiar with the area you’re interested in, and ask for references. If the realtor just barges ahead and says “I know exactly what you want!” don’t hesitate to lose their number. The realtor is working for you and do not hesitate to let them know you’re not interested in something.

      Like wedding planning, figure out what’s nonnegotiable and required, and what’s “nice to have but not necessary,” and what’s “absolutely not, dealbreaker, delete.” Don’t bother looking at things that don’t meet your requirements if you want to streamline the process and tell your realtor you’re not going outside these parameters. As for price, decide for yourself if you’ll have a hard limit or flexible limit and look accordingly–maybe your range only goes up to $100k, but think about what will happen if you find a perfect home for $105k–will you bite or skip it? Figure this out beforehand and you will save yourself some heartache. Think about whether this will be your forever home (or at least 15-20 years), or you’ll be selling and buying again in under 5 years, and whether that will affect what you think.

      Actual home stuff: What’s the neighbourhood like? You never want to have the nicest or the worst home on the block. Is the yard in OK shape, or is there a lot of landscaping and stuff that will require upkeep and maintenance from you? Are you OK with mowing an enormous yard or shoveling a superlong driveway if you live somewhere snowy? Is there a fence that needs maintenance? How’s the siding and trim look? How does the roof look? Are the shingles curling up like it will need to be replaced? Is there standing water in the yard anywhere? That might mean lousy drainage. Is it on a busy street? Is it near a school (shrieking kids) or store (parking lot traffic) or something else that can cause weird traffic issues? Drive past it at rush hour and at night. Is it noisy in the area at any of these times?

      Inside: Does it have a weird smell? (We walked into one home that looked beautiful online and reeked of cat pee. We walked out again without going further than the threshold.) Does it smell like mold? Are the doors solid? How old are the windows? Open one up and see if they feel stiff or ancient. Look at the flow of the rooms. Listen to the noise from outside–can you hear street noise, airplane noise, neighbour noise? Look at the layout of the kitchen if you cook. Check out the available storage space. Is it gorgeous and minimalist, but the only storage space it offers is a nearly-inaccessible crawlspace? Look at the conditions of the walls, check for cracks, check for chips in the baseboard. Look at the floors–are they dinged up and expensive to refinish? Is the carpet nicely finished at the corners, or is it stained and old with suspicious water stains? Have a good hunt around the basement and check the age of the furnace, water heater, etc., and look for evidence of mice or rats or bug infestations. Is there beautiful ceiling lighting that will be a major pain to change lightbulbs in? Is there a beautiful kitchen with zero counter space? Run all the taps. Turn on the shower to check the water pressure. Flush the toilets. Have someone go into another room and start talking to see how thin the walls are.

      Think about upkeep. Are you at the bottom of a hill in an area where all the meltwater and rain will end up in your yard and consequently, in your basement? Have a good home inspector with good reviews and no lawsuits pending against him, and never, EVER, EVER skip a home inspection. Have him check the foundation, roof, crawl space, wiring, and plumbing. Get the age of all the different major appliances–is the furnace 20 years old and about to go? Consider that in your asking price. Does the roof need shingling? Ask about it in your offer.

      Most of all, think about what YOU want in your home for the next few years. What’s a priority in your life? Is your home going to support that? If you’re an avid cook, don’t buy a house where you’ll have to totally gut the kitchen before enjoying it. If you’ve got lots of outdoor toys that need a lot of space, don’t buy a house with a teeny yard where you won’t be able to have the space to keep them. If you’re a nutter for Christmas and go all-out decorating your house, don’t buy a place where you won’t be able to squeeze in a Christmas tree and all of your 50 boxes of Christmas decorations will have to go up a shaky ladder in January.

      Good luck! It’s exciting!

      1. really*

        Yes, about the smell. Looked at a house years ago. There was work it needed that was doable and expected but all I could think about was how much work to get the smell out. I figured at a minimum painting all surfaces and replacing the carpet and flooring in the living and dining rooms. And this house had hardwood floors.

      2. Bibliovore*

        all of this!
        We bought our house after three days of looking in a relocation. Our realtor was fabulous. I thought I wanted to be in a loft space downtown given that we were relocating from a city and I was an urban person. The apartments were very pricey for the space, high maintenance fees, and not convenient to public transport to my job. (the transportation was going to be 2 years in the future or it was two busses and more than 40 minutes)

        The house we ended up with wasn’t even on the market yet. We had narrowed down the neighborhoods for my commute, our budget, and my special needs (I wanted to be near but not on campus, I didn’t know how to drive so there had to be convenient public transportation, I can’t do steep stairs, I needed at least two full bathrooms- non-negotiable and at least two bedrooms/office space)
        You can put a deposit and agree to a price pending the home inspection. The only thing we probably would have done differently is negotiated given the age of the boiler, heater, ac and appliances. That said, its been four years and we really love our home.

    15. Jessesgirl72*

      Look at the electrical panel. If there aren’t any empty circuits, it’s a mess and/or you see cloth wiring on some of the wires coming into it, be prepared that some electrical updating costs will be in your future! We carried around one of those small circuit testers you just plug into an outlet, to see if there’s a ground wire- just because an outlet is 3 pronged doesn’t mean it’s been updated properly.

    16. Anono-me*

      Talk to the neighbors. You will be amazed at what people will tell you about the house and the neighborhood.

      Check for future city/county/state project that could mean special assessments.

      If there is a HOA; check the rules and the financials, read the minutes. Make sure that you can live with the HOA rules and that there are no big projects coming up that could mean special surpise HOA assessments.

      This is a starter house and you might plan to move again at the next stage in your life; but try to find a home that you can live in longer than you are planning on if life does not go as planned.

      Seconding the importance of the inspection report and not over buying.

      Good luck.

    17. AlaskaKT*

      I’m sure you already know where you want to live (and houses are usually a long term plan) but be aware of local/state laws regarding when you can *sell* your house as well. My plans changed drastically about a year and a half after purchasing my house. In my state if I don’t live on the property 2 out of the last 5 years I owe a 33% sales tax when selling due to anti-flipper laws.

      I’ll probably lose money on the sale due to that law.

      1. Work in real estate*

        I’m not sure if you are explaining a state law or a if you are referring to the Tax Relief Act of 1993, which is a federal law. The Tax Relief Act says that if you live in a house for two years, it is considered a home. You can earn up to $250,000 in capital gains on the home ($500,000 if you are married) and not pay taxes. If you live their less than two years, it is not considered a home and you pay regular capital gains taxes. It is not possible to lose money on a sale because of capital gains tax. Granted, you send part of the profit to the government, but that will never put you at less than break even.

        Again, I’m not sure of the laws of your state so I’m 100% certain if you are referring to a true sales tax (where the BUYER, not the seller, pays tax on the entire sales price) or capital gains tax (where the SELLER pays tax on the profit).

    18. JHS*

      We just bought our first home. My biggest tip would be to make sure you look at what you can fix and what you can’t, even down the road. It’s really hard and expensive to change the floorpan and it can be impossible to make rooms bigger. You can always upgrade a bathroom/kitchen over time. My biggest regret is that we didn’t pay as much attention to the age of mechanicals, so we are going to have to make some pretty hefty investments in that stuff over time (e.g. we will probably need to replace the furnace and the air conditioner in the next couple of years and we had to replace a part of our well already in the first year). I would also say don’t just get the home inspector. If you have mechanicals like a well, get a well guy to come out. We didn’t do that, but wish we did because we would have been better prepared to spend the money on it and not been disappointed!

      Also, remember that the closing costs can be a LOT, which will be in addition to your down payment. That really caught us off guard!

      The best advice though is that you’ll know your house when you see it! It’s just like dating. You’ll walk in and it will just feel right. So don’t settle! Good luck :)

    19. Buffy*

      Make sure when you are getting your inspection done, to find a third party inspector. In my experience, the realtor always recommends one but I’ve heard you should really have a neutral party who has no stake in whether the sale goes through or not kicking the tires. Hope that helps!

    20. Namast'ay In Bed*

      Thanks everyone so much for responding! It took me a few days but I read through all of the comments and really appreciate all of your advice. It’s so helpful to hear all these things I wouldn’t have even considered, I’m compiling all of your tips into one document for easy reference during the process!

  13. Bluebell*

    Looking for input from readers who have had to clean out storage units. Next week I’m headed to visit my mom for 4 days. She lives in the condo where my grandparents used to live–they died in early 90s then my uncle had it as an extra place and my mom moved there 3 years ago. She doesnt pay rent due to uncle not charging her. Last night I get an email from uncle that he’d like me to go to the storage unit where my grandparents things are, take out the photo albums and then the rest will be thrown out. Even though they died a long time ago I really would much rather enjoy my 4 days, and not get caught up in memories. Any tips on how to make this easier? Thanks!

    1. Jamie*

      force yourself to just sort and not open. You see photo albums, boxes of military papers, whatever just put them in the keep pile and remind yourself to keep going. It will be so much nicer to sort through it all once you’re done and can curl up with a cup of tea, softest throw, and a box of tissues rather than on the floor of a storage unit while the other part of your brain is berating you for wasting time.

      I know how hard this is and I’m sorry. ::Hugs::

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I am thinking there is a reason your mom and uncle have not done this yet.

      Is there someone to cart this stuff away? Preferably someone with a pickup truck?
      Who will pay for the carting away or the dump fees?
      Will there be anyone to help you lift?

      Perhaps he literally wants you to find the photo albums and then leave. Is this space big enough for you to actually sort through stuff? Or is stuff stack right up against each other?

      I am not trying to make this harder. My point is that I do not think you are going to be able to sort this even if you worked all four days. I am saying this as a person who has emptied four of my parents’ houses. Yeah, too much experience going on there, I no longer do people’s houses. You can tell your uncle no. Conversely, you can say that you are limited to helping for one day. “I will help you get started, uncle!”

    3. Me2*

      Can you possibly take a friend (not a relative) who will have no personal attachment to anything and can help quickly sort? Also take stuff to donation location or trash as soon as possible, make several trips if you must. The longer it sits visible, the more likely it is you will think of a reason why it might be good to keep it. When we did my mom’s house (worse than an episode of Hoarders), we three sisters had husbands standing by with vehicles to run stuff to the dump and donation site as quick as we could get it out the front door. Husbands had no emotional connection to anything and were eager to get it out of our sight.

      1. Bluebell*

        So mom and uncle are both in their 80s. I don’t think uncle has been back down there since mom moved in. And mom is a world class foot dragger if she doesn’t want to do something. Uncle phrased it in a letter to me as “go in and get the photo albums and I’ll pay for the rest to be thrown out.” I will have husband with me and teen daughter but this was supposed to be vacation. I have two younger sisters who also live a plane ride away from mom and neither likes uncle. One is advising me to say “sorry I have plans but my sisters and I will deal with it in the next 3 months” Part of me wants to be a good daughter but I also dread being sucked into nostalgia and a messy cleaning job.

    4. OhBehave*

      If your Uncle is letting mom live in the condo rent free, bless him! You really should do what you can to help him because he doesn’t have to provide housing for her. Given the fact that Uncle said everything else would be trashed indicates to me that he has plans to take care of that himself. It’s not on you to decide what to keep and what to toss. Of course, you haven’t seen the storage locker and have no idea if it’s stacked to the rafters or just a few boxes. Start really early in the day and get an idea of what you’re in for.

      Uncle doesn’t sound like a sentimental person. I would balk at “throwing everything out”. My tendency is to sort through everything. Only because I remember after my Grandma passed, we found cash in books. We ended up with several hundred dollars. However, given that grandparents have been gone for some time, this more than likely will not be the case.
      I also caution against loading up your vehicle with ‘stuff’ to go through later. Depending upon the kind of person you are, later may never come. But if you have a firm plan in mind, load up!
      You may ask mom if there’s something you should keep an eye out for in case there’s something precious she remembers or has value.
      If you find things that bring up memories but aren’t necessarily things you want to bring home, take a photo of it and make a note of the significance.
      This is the kind of thing I love to do. I’m sick, I know!

      1. Bluebell*

        Uncle is a dutiful big brother to my mom but not really warm or affectionate. I’m grateful for him letting her stay there but annoyed he emailed on Friday and the vacation is only Monday through Thursday. We are flying in so won’t have room to really take stuff out. When my grandfather died I took a few things and I feel pretty set. uncle has a daughter as well he could potentially ask to deal with it but they have a strained relationship and she hasn’t seen my mom in years. The last time I saw uncle was 6 years ago at a life cycle event when we invited him and my mother. Ironically uncle lives about 3 hours drive from me – he has his own house but lives at his ladyfriend’s home.

    5. Temperance*

      Why didn’t he ask your mother to take care of it in exchange for the free rent? I would probably say no to the request, because that’s a several-day job.

    6. Embarrassed to use my usual name*

      Well, gee. I have a storage locker myself with a lot of household items that I hope to use if and when I ever get a house or apartment that is mine alone.

      My locker is next to a dumpster and it is almost always full of interesting things. One time it was full of women’s high heels. (Not my size.) Another time there was a beautiful set of china that was broken from being thrown into the dumpster. I’ve also seen decent-looking furniture and copies of hardcover books. If it were me, I would like to look through it and see if there was anything that might be useful for other people and then donate it to an appropriate charity.

      But if it is unusable and really junk, then yeah, dump it.

  14. Nervous Accountant*

    Sleeping pills. How often is too often to take it? As of now, I take them once a week (Sunday nights), but not during the week. I feel amazing on Mondays but depleted of energy by Wednesday. I wouldn’t mind taking a rx pill once in a while, because while falling asleep isnt’ a problem…staying asleep is. I just dont’ want to get addicted to them?

    1. regina phalange*

      Back when I had horrific insomnia, I was prescribed Trazodone because my doctor said it was non habit forming. I took it as needed but never felt dependent on it, and actually haven’t taken it for years. Do you take Ambien, or something else? I always slept so well and never felt addicted. The only caveat is to make sure you can get a full 8 hrs in or you might feel drowsy when you wake up.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        For now I’m just taking otc. I think sominex. I took one last night and slept a glorious 11 hours. I did wake up 3/4 times, more after 7 am. But i was able to go back to sleep right away.

        1. Arjay*

          Sominex is the same active ingredient as Benadryl (diphenhydramine), so most people won’t have a problem with dependency. Getting fewer than 8 hours might leave you groggy though, depending on how strongly you react.

    2. Artemesia*

      I struggle with the same thing. I now take Ambien when I know it is important to sleep because I have heavy demands the next day — making a speech, consulting etc. And I use it several days in a row when recovering from jet lag on international trips. But I also am afraid of dependency so don’t use it more than twice a week. I bet if you used it Sunday and Wednesday you would be okay.

      The real challenge here is figuring out a routine so you don’t need it every night. Have you tried melatonin? You can take that every night if it works for you. If you get any great answers I’d love to hear them.

    3. rubyrose*

      I took a small dose of Lunesta nightly for several years. This was on the recommendation of a psychiatrist. I was worried about becoming addicted, but when I did not take it I had true problems functioning the next day. I had the same problem you have – I could fall asleep just fine, but could not stay asleep.

      I started weaning myself of it when I ditched the psychiatrist. I got more serious about the weaning when my primary care physician told me there was a study linking Lunesta with Alzheimers.

      I have been off them for about 1.5 years. I still sometimes wake up in the middle of the night, but it is not all the time and I am usually able to get back to sleep. These things worked for me:
      1. I changed my view of sleep. If I wake up in the middle of the night I quit automatically thinking that my next day is going to be bad.
      2. I added memory foam to my bed, which made it more comfortable.
      3. I started going to bed when my body told me to go (which is 8:30 pm) and getting up when it said it was ready.
      4. I started diffusing essential oils for relaxation at night.

    4. Gung Ho Iguana*

      Have you talked to your doctor or had a sleep study? My waking up in the middle of the night thing turned out to be UARS, which I had never even heard of, and sleeping pills were the wrong treatment.

    5. Chaordic One*

      I took melatonin for a while. It worked great at first, but I built up a resistance to it over time. I now use it every once in a while. I’ve also had good luck with the occasional Excedrin P.M. or sometimes with Benadryl.

      My only caveat is take them when you first go to bed and will have at least 8 hours of sleep. I find that if I can’t sleep, take something at 3:00 am, and then have to get up at 7:00 am, I’ll be groggy and feel about the same as if I haven’t slept at all.

      1. the gold digger*

        My advice on melatonin would be to test a little bit of it on a night where sleep is not essential. I have tried it twice in my life and both times, it made me understand the phrase “about to jump out of my skin.” It made me feel horrible – all restless and anxious — and I got no sleep at all.

    6. Nic*

      I don’t know if this would help, if your issue is staying asleep rather than getting there. Melatonin is my go-to. It is otc, inexpensive, and comes in various dose sizes. I generally do not use it more than three times a week.

    7. Nervous Accountant*

      I thought maybe I should update–I didnt’ take a pill yesterday, but I slept 12-5 AM and I have SO MUCH energy today, like I feel like I can do anything. I’m not drowsy or tired or lazy like I’ve been the last few Sundays. It’s really such a good feeling!

      I usually get 8 hours of sleep a night, but I’m still exhausted most days. at this point Im no longer opposed to taking “outside help” in the form of a otc pill.

      1. TL -*

        Have you done a sleep study? It sounds like the problem is quality of sleep, not quantity, and there’s oftentimes something they can do about that.

        My dad has sleep apnea (he’s not overweight at all, which is the most common risk factor) and getting the CPAP machine gave him such a higher quality of sleep. And it helped my mom sleep better, because she didn’t have to listen to him snore and stop and start breathing.

  15. Ruffingit*

    I guess this is somewhat work related, but did anyone read the Captain Awkward letter about the co-worker who was trying to co-opt the LW’s vacation? That was so odd, I can’t imagine why anyone would think that was ever OK. (Link in next post).

      1. LawCat*

        Ooooooooooooooh emmmmmmm geeeeeee!

        This is my nightmare.

        In my own case, spouse and I had to stop telling my step-son about special vacation plans for when he is visiting us (now we just tell him we have surprises planned) because a couple years ago, his mom showed up on our vacation. We found out one week before that she’d told him she would be at the same place. It was so upsetting and stressful! Ugh, ugh, ugh! And yes, she did “happen” to run into us. Fortunately, we nipped that encounter short.

        She’s been pushing for details on our summer plans this year “so she knows what to pack.” Spouse has told her nothing special and we can just go shopping for anything he might be missing when he gets here.

        She has zero percent boundaries and is super passive aggressive.

    1. Former Invoice Girl*

      I did! I still can’t decide which was more baffling — that the coworker talked about the trip as “their trip” from the beginning or that she seems to refuse to get that she is not invited, even though the OP stopped being polite about it at this point.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I am not sure she thinks it’s okay. She could just want to take a trip so badly that she willing to put herself in a super awkward situation in order to get there. Sometimes people get blind to other things when they see something they want so much.

      I hope the LW shows the offending party her letter to CA. “This is YOU we are talking about here.” ugh, ugh, ugh.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Right?! I mean, I love my co-workers, they are genuinely some of the most awesome people I’ve ever worked with, but I would not ever in a million years think it was OK to invite myself on one of their vacations.

    3. Nic*

      I saw that one, and really wanted to read Allison and the commentariat’s responses over here! I love the amount of cross-readership here.

    4. Arjay*

      I accidentally invited myself to sit with my teaching assistant at a film in college. He’d mentioned it in class as something that might interest us. He and I were friendly. I went to the film, saw him there, we started talking, and then I walked in and sat beside him.
      He was very nice about it, but later I realized what I’d done. He wasn’t actually inviting ME, of course. I was horrified, mortified.
      Somehow I feel a little bit better about that now in light of this letter. :)

  16. Marche*

    Last week I was asking about making bread for the first time, and I figured I’d give a little update: DELICIOUS.

    I went with the King Arthur Hearth recipe and followed the tip for lighter, crustier bread, and it was so tasty. My only complaint is that I turned the oven down as suggested but took it out after five minutes because it was getting pretty dark on top. Next time I’d start it off at a lower temp so that it won’t brown as fast.

    I also joined that Bread Baking group on FB, and now my feed is full of delicious food all the time. Can’t even say I mind.

    1. printrovert*

      Awesome! I love making my own bread (though I do not always have time to do it). I make mine using a recipe I found on The Kitchn blog. I usually only make sandwich loaves and homemade pizza crust for when I make pizza, but I did check out Hot Bread Kitchen from my library to get ideas about boules and other loaves.

      I use Arrowhead Mills’ all-purpose. I’ve tried others, but this one is my absolute favorite.

    2. Lady Julian*

      Yeah! Good for you – I have a loaf proofing this afternoon; it’ll go in the oven in maybe fifteen minutes and then make an excellent late-afternoon snack. :)

      @ LawCat, the FB group is literally called “Bread Baking”. Should be pretty easy to find.

      1. Vancouver Reader*

        Slight OT, but I have misread a couple posts on this weekend free for all, and I read “Bread Baking” as “Breaking Bread”, like a pun on Breaking Bad. I really need new glasses.

    3. brightstar*

      I’m so glad your bread came out well! I love baking bread. I saw this bacon onion spiral bread recipe that I’m hoping to make when I’m over this upper respiratory infection I’ve been fighting.

      I also like the King Arthur crusty rolls recipe, those are now my go to for holiday dinners.

      1. Marche*

        Bacon. Onion Spiral. Bread.

        I think I know what I might have to try next, that looks amazing! And I hope you feel better soon, any sort of respiratory infection sucks.

  17. regina phalange*

    just got home from my monthly eyebrow/lip wax, and while there, the woman waxing me asked if I wanted my nose done??? I had never heard of this as a thing, but apparently you can get your nose hairs waxed. I ended up taking her up on it b/c I have seen a hair or two poking out that have been driving me crazy. It was the oddest experience but didn’t hurt at all. Wanted to share in case anyone else out there had some errant nose hairs they wanted to get rid of.

      1. Jamie*

        Yeah, but if they’re sticking out they need to go. I’ve never heard of this, but I’m sure they were just addressing the errant ones.

        I’ve never had this happen to me, but when my stbx didn’t keep things tidy I’d threaten to take care of it with tweezers while he was sleeping. That struck the fear of God into him as apparently that really hurts.

    1. Chaordic One*

      I’ve never heard of such a thing.

      In a related thing, my GBF is a very hairy man with pale skin and dark hair. From time to time I would notice what appeared to be blackheads on his nose, and since we have a very close personal relationship I asked him about it. Big mistake and TMI.

      I learned (to my everlasting horror) that they were whiskers growing on the outside of his nose and that when he shaves his face, he also shaves his nose (with an electric razor). I wonder if this is common with men?

    2. JHS*

      I’ve had that done as part of a lip wax before without them even asking me. I was sort of in the same boat as you, but I did like it :)

  18. Lord of the Ringbinders*

    I started reading The Paris Wife and loved it but got sidetracked – thanks for reminding me to finish!

    I read a wonderful book this week: Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel. Couldn’t put it down and am now in major book mourning. I’ve just started another book called Black Rabbit Hall – it’s pretty good so far.

    1. Lady Julian*

      Ooo, I enjoyed Station Eleven, though some of my favourite parts were flashbacks to the pre-virus era; the imagery was very gorgeous and the characters compelling. I also enjoyed hearing how the people in the airport survived.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I have that on my Kindle but STILL haven’t read it!

      For more post-apocalyptic virus stuff, try Joe Hill’s The Fireman. GOD I LOVED THAT. It is wrenching but so good.

  19. Bibliovore*

    I am positively gleeful that the weather here is almost balmy. So I said to Mr. Bibliovore, I think I have been depressed. And he says, yah think?
    I have opened all the windows. Taken the doggie for a walk. Scrubbed down the seats in my car. Put away the groceries. Forwarded the laundry. There will be a nap. I am committing to the commentariat that there will be NO WORK TODAY!
    There will be nap and maybe we will go to the movies.

    1. nep*

      Nothing like opening windows for that lovely breeze, and getting some outside time in balmy weather. Enjoy.

      1. Jamie*

        Thanks for the incentive – I need to open the windows and take advantage of the fact that it’s a spring day in February in Chicago. If only it didn’t require getting up, but I’ll do it because that’s the kind of motivated woman I am.

        1. the gold digger*

          Opened windows here, too!

          AND THIS! Oh man – Primo is gone for the weekend so it’s party time! No talking, changed from PJs to gym clothes at 2 p.m., and season six of The Mentalist. I don’t think it gets better.

          Introducing kalsarikannit, a Finnish term that roughly translates to “drinking home alone in your underwear, with no intention of going out.”


    2. really*

      I have a touch of SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and find I get much more done on spring like days.

    3. Marillenbaum*

      This is an excellent life choice! I got out of the house for a bit today, and I made sure to soak up this wonderful sunshine.

    4. Bibliovore*

      there was a nap! hard to keep the no work commitment. Invited the young niece over for dinner. Going to go down and do the laundry. Bit nippy in the house right now but it does smell good. Still giddy.

  20. 20-something*

    For anyone who’s taken antidepressants: I’m obviously not expecting medical advice, but what was the turning point at which you decided to seek medical treatment?

    I’m coming round to the fact that I probably have recurrent depression and/or anxiety (as an example, looking back on the last ~4 months, there’s only been one weekend I’ve got out of bed – despite living in a new city/country) and have done on and off since my early teens, but… ugh. There just seems to be a mental block, between thinking ‘I can’t go on like this for another year’ and actually making an appointment and being taken seriously by a medical professional. I feel like I’m wasting my twenties. :/

    1. Lord of the Ringbinders*

      I work in mental health. I’m sorry you’re struggling right now. We can sometimes think in terms of whether it’s ‘bad enough’ to justify seeking help instead of asking: could things be easier and could I use some help coping?

      It can be scary reaching out for help, but you deserve support, whatever that looks like.

      For me personally I didn’t seek help until I pretty much had a breakdown. Medication wasn’t great for me but therapy very much helped.

      In hindsight I wish I had given myself permission to seek help. When you’re asking these questions it’s a sign that you might need to.

      If you think you have cancer you probably won’t wait until you’re sure you’re definitely dying before asking for help. You’ll get checked out. This is the same- it’s okay not to be sure what you need and to want someone to help you figure it out.

    2. Ruffingit*

      My doctor wanted to put me on AD when I was 26. I refused as I felt I could handle things myself. I had severe anxiety. I did handle it (badly) for the next 4 years. Finally, when I was 30, another doctor suggested it and I did it. IT WAS AMAZING! It was literally life changing. I felt like I could deal with life, like my brain had been wired up on caffeine and energy drinks and now, it had calmed down to decaf. It was worth it.

      Try it. You can go off them. But really, it was worth it. Don’t let your life pass you by. I so wish I’d gone on them before.

    3. SRG*

      GET HELP! Call right now, or call Mon. Make an appt with a psychiatrist. General practitioners can and do prescribe anti-depressants, but a psychiatrist has much more expertise in all the different options for meds. If you don’t click with the first psychiatrist, try their prescription anyway if you trust their advice, but if it doesn’t work (or even if it does), you can try a different Dr. till you find someone you’re 100% comfortable with. You don’t need to adore them, but it helps if you feel 100% comfortable and that they truly understand your needs.
      Remember to be patient and give the meds time to work, but also that you may have to try a few before getting it right. Hopefully not, but don’t get discouraged if that happens!
      I’ve been on anti-depressants most of my adult life. One of my close friends goes on and off anti-depressants and anxiety meds as he goes through rough spots, maybe 6 months out of 2 yrs he goes back on meds. Do what works for you.
      Also look into other options for supplemental treatment. Therapy is good. Also, acupuncture has helped me tremendously (!) , and is generally very effective for emotional concerns. You said you live in a new country, and I don’t know where that is, but most metro areas in the U.S. have very affordable options like community acupuncture (which I highly recommend), acupuncture schools, and/or sliding scale. You can also pay with FSA if you have it, and some insurances provide partial coverage or discounts. Good luck!

    4. SRG*

      p.s. To answer your question more directly, the turning point for me has been when I realize life doesn’t have to be this hard. If you feel like you’re “wasting [your] twenties,” now is the time to get help. My heart hurts for you. Depression sucks. I’ve battled it all my life.
      A friend recently posted this on facebook:
      “Burnout and stress led me to resign from my day job as 2016 crumbled to an end…I sought professional help for my mental health for the first time. Reading Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography gave me the courage to accept that doing so wasn’t a failure. It was a necessary step towards healing and moving forward.
      If you’re like me you have a stubborn streak, pride, and perhaps long stretches of stability that convince you that you’re fine and just going through a rough patch. Asking for assistance feels like a character fault. Shake it off. Throw some dirt on it. Walk it off.
      Therapy and medication have improved my well-being and quality of life more than I thought possible.
      I’m happier. Even-keeled. Laughing easily. Playing music.
      I feel human again.
      If you read this and it strikes a nerve I highly recommend talking to a friend. Or your partner. Your doctor. A parent. A sibling. A co-worker. Your neighbor. Me.
      Help is available. You don’t have to carry the weight alone.
      We’re all in this together.”

    5. bunniferous*

      Dealt with that, it is now in my rear view mirror.

      I have been told that if you treat depression early, you can head it off, and you will not be stuck taking pills the rest of your life. But that if you let it ride, do not treat-at some point it will turn chronic and you may be in the situation of medication for life.

      Not trying to scare you , just saying that if your mood affects your life-and judging from your letter, they absolutely do-you deserve to be evaluated and treated.

      Now, that said-if it turns out meds are not for you and you want to try something different-regular exercise and exposure to sunshine absolutely are mood elevators. I get that it is extremely hard to force yourself out there but if you can make it a habit it absolutely does help.

      1. Lord of the Ringbinders*

        Some people need to stay on medication for life. It depends on each individual. Just worth saying.

      2. Ktelzbeth*

        Think about depression like type 2 diabetes. Some people can do enough exercise and weight loss and careful diet monitoring to get off and stay off medication for diabetes, for a while or for life. Others can’t. People in the second group can try just as hard or even harder than people in the first, but their biological deck may be stacked against them. Depression is no more a failure of character than diabetes. It is time we as a society stopped thinking about it that way. /rant over

    6. Marillenbaum*

      For me, it was realizing that I had been feeling cruddy for over a month, and that I didn’t want that to keep being a thing. I made an appointment with my GP that was ostensibly a garden-variety checkup, and while I was there I mentioned how I was feeling. She recommended me at a therapist’s practice and also prescribed me some antidepressants; it did take some time to find the right one/dosage, but I found that when I spoke to her, I was taken seriously and treated with respect. If your doctor doesn’t do that, it’s totally okay to find someone else.

    7. Sherm*

      I had kind of painted myself into a corner. I was also twentysomething and moved back in with my parents. They were increasingly exasperated with my not succeeding (the economy was good at the time), and didn’t understand that my mental issues were getting in the way. (I didn’t have the courage to tell them what was going on inside.) To “buy some time” I even lied and told them I applied to a program and lied some more later that I got accepted. (I was pretty messed up.) Well, the supposed start date was coming up, so I had to start SOMETHING, because telling them I just wasn’t going enroll after all wouldn’t have flown in the slightest.

      So I very nervously went to the doctor, who was very understanding and prescribed me an antidepressant. It helped enough to start something for real that time. I wish I had also seen a therapist — I eventually went down the road and it helped immensely.

      Anyway, if you’ve been spending whole weekends in bed, then yes, it’s definitely time to seek help. Good luck to you!

    8. Ktelzbeth*

      For me, and I’ve given this advice to other people, the answer is that the time to ask for help is when you wonder if you need it. This can apply to mental health, but also to plumbing projects. Not knowing enough to know if you need help is a sign that you might be in beyond what you can manage and the time to ask.

      I’m sorry things are tough.

      1. TheLazyB*

        My friend has medical conditions that mess with her perception and nearly died a good few times because she gets confused when she’s really ill and thinks she doesn’t really need medical help.

        She now has a sign in her kitchen that says ‘if you’re not sure whether or not you need an ambulance, you do’.

        I have just thought that I could do with a depression/anxiety version of that (not for an ambulance but ‘call x’ or ‘take steps y and z’ (that are known to help).

        1. Nic*

          I REALLY like that! Great idea for your friend, and a good thing to keep in mind in general. Thanks for posting!

    9. mreasy*

      Hi! Please go. Remember that going to a psych and a therapist isn’t committing to a treatment – it’s learning about your options. A doc can put things in perspective for you. It took me seeing three different docs and getting deeper and deeper into depression before I’d agree to go on meds (again after a 10-year break, in my case), and it made a huge positive difference in my life. But maybe there are other changes you can make that won’t require medication, if that’s what you’re worried about. Or maybe the doc will help you understand the spectrum of options, or how much your suffering is affecting your day to day life. Going to the appointment is a low-commitment step, and there isn’t a “suffering bar” you need to meet to take that step. Please do it.

    10. TheLazyB*

      When I reacted to my friend having a baby with two days pretty much solid crying. The second day I went to the doctors and said please help.

      (I was heartbrokenly jealous because her child had a sibling and mine never will. I’m mostly ok with that now, but even at the time I knew that reaction was in no way normal or proportionate.)

      If it helps, after being on them now for around 18 months, I’m now MUCH better at self care (and don’t want to throw up from using the words “self care”) and have a plan to taper off them that started about 3 weeks ago and goes to summer 2018. However if it becomes clear I need to stay on them for ever, I will. I am a much better person on sertraline (aka Zoloft).

      I was 39 at the time, my depression and anxiety had been really bad on and off since I was 33-34 ish, and I think I’ve alway been prone to poor mental health. I’ve had various forms of counselling and psychological support since I was 32-33 ish. They have been varyingly helpful, but the last counsellor I saw (just 6 sessions on the NHS) was AMAZING… although tbf she was probably able to build on the earlier work.

      Fwiw though you don’t have to go on them immediately. You could go talk to your doctor and discuss options and think about it for a bit.

      I’m sorry you’re going through this. It’s so hard. Baby steps. Smallest possible steps until you can do it. And do report back (if you want to).

    11. OhBehave*

      Honestly? For me it was the moment I wanted to throw my infant son down the stairs. He was a few weeks old. I put him on the bed instead and collapsed in tears. Daughter was 3 and she brought me the phone. Called hubby and got to the doc that day. After counseling, I realized I had dark thoughts and bouts of depression all my life. Medication is a wonderful thing.
      The fact that you’re even asking the question tells me you should call your doctor.

      1. Anon for this*

        How do you know? You know right now. This is serious. And yes, I did lose my twenties to anxiety and depression. Seek professional help. I am not a doctor. Let the professionals figure it out. Keep a journal. Take your psychic and physical temperature morning and night. Turned out that my big issues were caused by hormonal imbalances. I had probably 5 good days a month. I took what is sometimes called a “recovery” job. No expectations, just showing up. It took about six months to get the meds right. No regrets. Good life. Better living through chemistry.

    12. LizB*

      When I had a long, intense conversation with my boyfriend in which I argued that he obviously must not be getting anything positive out of our relationship because I was just a completely terrible person. I realized when he called me out on trying to badger him into saying he wanted to break up with me that I really didn’t want to break up, and also really didn’t want to keep hating myself.

      I was already seeing a therapist for some trauma issues, and fortunately had an appointment the next day, so I told her what was up and she gave me tips on how to talk to my regular doctor about getting a referral to a psychiatrist. Turns out my regular doctor actually has quite a bit of experience prescribing basic antidepressants, so she talked me through my options and we chose something to try. I was expecting to have nasty side effects and no real benefit for a little while, but the very first week I took them I had 7 good days in a row — the previous year had been more like 1 good day a week at best even though my life was objectively pretty great. I’ve now been on them for a bit over 6 months, and am making so much progress in my life because I’m not weighed down by hating myself every minute of every day. Seriously, don’t wait any longer — your life doesn’t have to be like this.

    13. ArtsNerd*

      Any good medical professional will take you seriously. Please don’t forget that.

      My anti-depressants and therapist help me be a version of myself that I really like. Finding the right providers and the right medicine / dosage, etc. can seem overwhelming if you don’t land on the right one at first but sticking with it has been well worth it to me, and it seems very much like it will be for you, too.

      Good luck!

    14. Nic*

      My case is a bit different…turns out my thyroid was not producing appropriately. But I initially went to a mental health provider when I found that I was crying at the drop of a hat, two or three times a day. I started crying thinking about how often I was crying even. It was affecting me at work and making social interactions difficult. It took a lot of courage to make that appointment. I think of something a friend who has had a diagnosis for over a decade: The disease will do anything it can to preserve itself. It will convince you not to get help. It will convince you that you’re better, so you stop taking your medicine. It will make excuses. Recognize this and be stronger for seeing the flags.

    15. Gadget Hackwrench*

      I’m going to answer the question you asked, and the one I think the spirit of the question was meant in.

      I started seeking help in University when I woke up one day and realized that that I was becoming exactly like a friend of mine from high school who’s mental health issues scared the crap out of me. I didn’t want to scare people like that. The guy I saw at the school center was terrible, but having made the choice to step out the door, I had also auditioned for a college theater production, and I was feeling better and I stopped going. I chalked it up to having given up theater when I started college. Problem solved. Senior year I spent most of the first semester not leaving my dorm except at night to go get food from the campus shop. When I realized it was late October and I still hadn’t even started my thesis… I went back for help again, and spoke to someone else. She was good enough help to get me back into class. I was able to function, so again I stopped going. Chalked it up to the aftermath of a bad breakup I’d had over the summer. Problem solved. Both of those times I made the choice to get help, but chose to stay only long enough to get back on my feet and go, still suffering, back out into the world. Learn from my mistake. Do not do that.

      3 years later. Lost my job to the recession. Unemployed 6 months and losing hope. I’ve already sought help twice before so the choice is easier this time. I’m thinking the problem now is that I’m unemployed. Shrink #3 was not buying that. Where the college councilors had seen yet another case of college induced impostor syndrome, she saw that there was something way the hell deeper than that. Even after I became functional enough to resume my job search, I STAYED that time. That’s what you need to do. Stick with it. If one shrink isn’t any good find another, but do not just stop at superficial relief. Funnily enough I wound up switching away from her too, but I’ve been with who I switched to for years now. That’s a whole other story though.

      Now the question I think this was meant in the spirit of… when did I decide I was ready and willing to take antidepressants? I was with Shrink #4, who I still see, and shit took a hard left in a difficult session and I couldn’t drive home because I couldn’t stop crying and shaking, and shit just all hit the fan in the worst possible way. I was convinced to take them not for the depression, but for the panic attacks. I was sick of them. I SHOULD have taken them when shrink #3 suggested them. I would have felt a lot better a lot sooner.

      Go. Do it. See someone, and if they suggest medication, try it. It doesn’t have to be permanent. Sometimes you just need something to help get your head on straight enough for therapy to be effective. (One of the meds they gave me, I no longer need.) Sometimes… you need to stay on them. (The other one, I still take religiously.) Either way, it’s ok. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just correcting a chemical imbalance. No different to a diabetic taking their insulin. You deserve relief.

    16. Channel Z*

      I have been on anti depressants 3 times. I am 42. Initially I went on in my 20s because I woke up every day feeling like crying and having no motivation. I also found out a relative had attempted suicide when she was attending the same university and I didn’t want to be next. I don’t remember why I stopped, but a few years later I went on them again when I was walking down a white hallway at work and literally it looked gray and hazy and I felt like I was plodding through a marshmallow. More recently, at 40 I went on them again after years (more than 5) of just feeling flat or extremely irritable. To this day, I don’t like 90 s music because I spent the whole decade depressed. Maybe if I had started the meds before 1999 it would have been different.

    17. Hrovitnir*

      There wasn’t one, exactly. I have had depression since childhood and it’s a result most likely of genetics as well as abuse. I only ended up trying them because my mother had some she wasn’t using. They worked better than expected.

      Basically in a do as I say, not as I do kind of a way – there is no downside to at least discussing them with a professional (psychologist/psychiatrist – a psychologist cannot prescribe them but can give recommendations and referrals and therapy is always a good idea. Definitely research different approaches if you’re not currently seeing someone and haven’t done so.)

      Bear in mind the results are wildly variable (if they work, how long it takes, how many you need to try, initial and long-term side effects), and unless you have depression that is a result of circumstances rather than brain development I don’t think they often *fix* it. Even with therapy/exercise/etc. But they can take the edge off and that difference is indescribable.

      It was such a small difference but that difference was such a big difference, it really viscerally made me feel like a lot of people are harmed by feeling like medication is bad, or it’s OK for other people but theirs isn’t “bad enough” (because if you have depression or similar, feeling like your issues aren’t “that bad” is pretty bloody common).

  21. Elizabeth West*

    OMG kitty face! <3

    So I went to the Buddhist meditation group this morning…….


    Except my entire lower body went NOPE, and then, “You should have done those stretches we kept thinking about doing, you dumbass.” LOL! So I need to stretch every day (as I should have already been doing :P) and find a position that works for me and doesn’t piss off my knees. I’ve had issues with them since I was a teenager.

    The meditation itself was only about 30 minutes (it went by faster than I thought it would) and then we talked about some readings. I feel like this is very much a good thing for me. I think it’s going to give me a lot to think about, and that it will be helpful. And learning to focus and be mindful of my body and breathing, omg yes. Anxiety medication right there. I could FEEL myself becoming more calm. WHY did I never try to meditate before now!? Plus we went to coffee after and I like the people very much. :)

    I was talking to one woman and we were discussing what we were looking for with the meditation, and the issues of clarity and perception, which came up in the discussion. I said I couldn’t explain it but I felt like things were finally lining up. Not because of today, but because of all the things that had been happening over the last year. The analogy I used was driving into the automatic car wash, and you’re trying to line your wheels up with the conveyor, but I felt like I was always off and never hooked into it–until all these “changes” started happening. And how today was just more confirmation from the universe that the damn wheel is in the right spot now. She laughed and said that was a good analogy.

    I can’t explain it–it just felt GOOD. I’m interested in the courses too and learning more about the practice and philosophy. I was anxious as usual about doing something new, but I’m really super glad I did it.

    1. Charlie Q*

      Ahhh that’s wonderful! It is impossible to overestimate how properly good and right a new spiritual home can feel, if that’s your jam. Was the meditation silent or guided?

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Guided, which I appreciated, since there were new people (me and others). Once the group leader for this week had established breathing, etc. we went silent. That’s about the time my knees commenced their little bitchfest. Before that, I almost had the whole forget-where-you-are-ignore-the-dog-barking-outside thing licked!

    2. Jamie*

      I love the car wash analogy – that’s perfect. I’m so happy for you for finding a path that fits you.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Thanks, Jamie. :) You might have missed me commenting on it before, but I basically challenged the universe and it’s been responding–with some eerie signals that it actually heard me this time. o_O I think this will help me to put aside some of the anxiety about these changes and focus so I don’t miss things I need to see. Even if things work out exactly the way I want them to, it’s still a little scary.

        *hug* I’m so glad you’re back. I missed your little Hello Kitty face and insightful comments.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        We sat on cushions on the floor (provided), and some people had chairs. I had one of the firm block thingys, but it’s bending my knees that is the problem. I’m not as flexible as I would like to be (my fault entirely, though fixable) and I also have knee issues (cartilage). I think once I stretch regularly for a while and find a posture variation that fits me it will ease up.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I tried both, but I think I just need to stretch more. Also, the block might have been TOO high and put too much forward pressure on my knees. I’ll try the lower cushion next time. I really don’t want to be relegated to a chair.

  22. Sam Carter*

    I’m hoping to poll fellow AAM readers with a wedding related question: Is asking for cash instead of having a gift registry acceptable or tacky? Does your answer change depending on what the cash is intended to be used for?

    As background, we are not a traditional couple and since we’ve already lived together for 4 years, we don’t need houseware type items. We’ve already booked and paid for the honeymoon as well. As an LGBT couple, having children (the actual getting pregnant part) is our biggest upcoming expense. The procedures we want cost around 20k and are not covered by insurance. I don’t want to require anyone to give a gift, but if people are able to contribute, does it sound ok to ask them to give to our “start a family” fund?

    1. Ruffingit*

      I have no issue with that. People often chaff at being asked for money, but in my view, if someone asks, then there’s nothing wrong with giving them the info for your start a family fund.

      Congrats on the wedding!

    2. Overeducated*

      I generally think it’s tacky but 1) I even think registries are mildly tacky for we’ll established couples, 2) it’s getting way more common to ask for cash, and 3) your circumstances are special and not just like “we want to build up our money pile.” So…do it. I think calling it something like the “start a family fund” is sweet and would make your guests feel excited for you.

    3. LawCat*

      I just got a wedding invite with a link to the couple’s wedding site. They had some great language on a cash fund option, probably the best I’ve seen and I am one who usually frowns upon such asks. When I get home, I’ll look it up and share the language.

      1. LawCat*

        “We are so excited to have the gift of you joining in our celebration!
        Other gifts are not expected but gratefully accepted.

        Because we have combined our households (and because that house is adorable, but small), we are not in need of many household goods or small appliances.”

        They have a link to amazon registry for some small items and a link to a honeymoon fund. I think there are mysteries and confusion around gift etiquette so I appreciate the expression of the celebration as the thing that is important and the expression of gratitude.

    4. Turtlewings*

      I know asking for cash is in general seen as tacky (I don’t have strong feelings against it personally), but I feel like it makes all the difference that it’s for a specific purpose, and extremely connected to starting your lives together. I would probably just feel relieved to not have to pick out a gift! (Also, congratulations!)

    5. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I still think asking for cash is in poor taste, but all of your immediate family should know that you’re planning to use any cash or checks from the wedding towards starting your family, and if guests ask them about a registry they can and should mention that. You and your partner can mention that you have everything you need, you’re just focusing on paying for [procedure] so you can start a family soon (HINT HINT). :)


    6. Jay*

      We didn’t register and we didn’t explicitly ask for cash, but people got the hint from our lack of registry. We still got a few physical gifts from people but mostly received cheques. We already lived together and have a very tiny apartment, so the idea of getting lots of stuff was really stressful. I’m sure some people chaffed behind the scenes, but overall I think people understood our reasons.

    7. chickabiddy*

      I do not mind at all giving cash instead of gifts, especially (and I know this is judgemental so sorry) when I know that cash is intended for a special goal and not just wanting to supplement a lifestyle.

      The actual asking part is trickier. I am old and I am Southern so am likely on the stuffy side, but I don’t like registry info in invitations, so I probably wouldn’t be thrilled to get a note about cash either. I think this is where you need to deputize the gossipiest members of your family and friend circle and spread the word. I would also recommend setting up a GoFundMe or similar (I think there are others with lower fees) so if anyone asks where you are registered you can direct them there.

    8. Ktelzbeth*

      We didn’t want gifts either, though didn’t have the question of asking for money for a want/need that was bigger than any one person could cover. We were, however, moving states within the next couple months. After googling and reading examples and several drafts, we came up with

      “With hearts grateful for the many gifts in our lives and a full house that we will soon need to move, we have realized that the tradition of receiving wedding gifts from our community does not seem wholly fitting for us. In that light, we ask you to forgo the traditional gift-giving in favor of honoring us with your presence, with your continued love, and with a shared meal thoughtfully created by our community.”

      The end of the last line is because the wedding was part of our Sunday church service and followed by a potluck reception to which the whole church community was invited. I’d arranged for some food, but the church came through spectacularly.

    9. OhBehave*

      EtiquetteHell tells us that you NEVER include registry info or cash requests in any invitation, shower, party or wedding.
      As long as your invitations do not include registry/gift suggestions, these are fine.
      How will your guests know what you want? That’s what family and friends are for. Tell them to spread the word. If people ask you what to give or what registries you have, you can then let them know how to help. To do otherwise, looks like a cash/gift grab.

    10. Sunflower*

      I guess this would really depend on who’s coming to your wedding. It’s kind of an unspoken thing between my friends that for a wedding, we give cash- it’s just easier for everyone TBH but I find the older folks really want to give gifts. I would just have a really basic registry – are there any items that you would need for a new baby but aren’t explicitly only for a baby?

      People are weird about weddings. Even if you ask for cash, people will buy you gifts anyway because they feel it’s the right thing to do. Some people may be so pissed you’re asking for cash that they buy you presents to spite you. I would keep a really basic registry and try to put the word out through friends you’d prefer cash to assist with starting your family

    11. Jessesgirl72*

      Here is what is perfectly polite- even Miss Manner’s approved. DON’T REGISTER. Then when people ask what you’d like, you or your parents or whoever can tell them that all you want is their presence and you don’t really need things as you have all you need, but if they insist on giving you something, you can always use money. I wouldn’t specify the “start a family” part.

    12. Kj*

      I would happily donate to a “Start a Family Fund” BUT I don’t think you can put it on paper that that is what you want. Just don’t have a registry and ask a couple of good friends and family members to tell anyone that asks that “they don’t need gift but they are saving for starting a family.” People will get the idea.

    13. Felicia*

      I want to get people what they want so I think it’s totally fine to ask for cash. Especially if you say it is for something specific I’d be even more excited to contribute to whatever it is.

      I’ve also never been to a non family wedding and we’re Jewish and I think maybe cash is a more common gift at a Jewish wedding which is why it seems normal to me I think.

    14. Nic*

      There are some places in South Louisiana where there are money tree and money dance traditions. The latter might raise some feminist eyebrows, but I find them a neat aspect of culture. The idea for both is generally that it goes towards the honeymoon or getting started in life together.

      For the money tree, there is a tree (real or artificial) set on the table with the gifts. There is also a bowl of clothespins or something else you could use to attach. Guests hang money on the tree.

      For the money dance scenario, each table has a small dish of pretty straight pins. The guests ask the bride to dance, and pin money to the wedding dress for the privilege of the dance.

    15. Florida*

      I think it is tacky to ask for cash as a wedding gift, even if you set it up as a menu of items ($XXX for a dinner on our honeymoon, $XXX for a hotel night of our honeymoon.)

      However, I don’t think it is tacky to give cash for a wedding gift. There is a big difference between the couple asking for a certain thing and a person giving a certain thing unsolicited.

    16. BRR*

      Some people will not like it but I see it as the purposes of the gift is to get the couples something they need. Another suggestion is to have a small registry but I don’t like that unless you absolutely need some things because peoples will flock to that.

      For my wedding I wrote something with a polite version of your presence is your gift (everybody was traveling) and we are fortunate to have everything we need. We needed money for a honeymoon.

      I do think asking it to go to something versus just cash is better.

  23. Lord of the Ringbinders*

    Also, I posted about being at a wedding last week. I was being accosted by someone Captain Awkward would have a field day about – after the second time I told her that her question was too personal she actually ARGUED and said it wasn’t!

    But otherwise it was a magical weekend. I am estranged from my birth family and have had a hard time seeing my husband’s family as mine too. This weekend I properly felt that sense of being part of a family that I’ve always yearned and have never experienced before. I heard my nasty inner critic tell me I’ve only got them because of my husband and I told it to shut up because that’s partly how families are formed. I have amazing friends and I’m not knocking friends as your family of choice but it feels pretty amazing to have finally experienced something I never thought I’d ever get to feel.

    1. Sas*

      How did you handle that, first paragraph, out of curiosity? Happens to me or all of us sometimes, so I’s wondering.

      1. Lord of the Ringbinders*

        I initially was trying to just change the subject. After she said it wasn’t too personal and I could tell her (uh no, not a discussion and I don’t WANT to tell you, you stupid stupid boundary-crossing weirdo) I said actually it was too personal and then changed the subject again. Then avoided her as much as I could once the meal was over!

        If she had kept on I was going to use an AAM-inspired “I’m going to pretend you didn’t say that.” I’m happy that I didn’t get sucked into JADE-ing (justify, argue, defend, explain) my position.

        Oh, and the question was whether I want kids. So yeah, it was too personal!

    2. TL -*

      There are plenty of people that various members have dated and nearly married (or married) that haven’t been part of the family.
      And then there’s my cousin’s husband, who has many faults, but has always been kind, supportive, caring, and respectful. He is part of the family. He was introduced to the family because of my cousin, but he became part of the family because we like him.

  24. TL -*

    This day blows. I finally got an estimate on my car after rear-ending someone and the frame is bent so it’s pricey. I just got a letter from the new owners of my apartment and I did not know my landlord was selling! I called my dad to talk about the estimate for my car and he ended up lecturing me, so I called my brother and we ended up in a huge argument (wherein somehow, I finally got around to telling him that his ex-fiancee from 6 years ago was actually a huge jerkface.)

    And I’m saving for an international move, so the car fix means that money is going to be super tight going forward. Life is generally good, but I am super grumpy today!

    1. Marillenbaum*

      Argh, that sounds so frustrating! I’m sorry that happened. It can be especially rough when family members (who love you and should ostensibly be helpful and empathetic) just leave you feeling criticized instead. Now might be a time to do something really nice for yourself (that doesn’t cost too much): maybe read/reread a favorite book, or bake some brownies, or just take a nice long nap. Hopefully, that can start towards turning the day around.

  25. chickabiddy*

    I know that I am not a big poster here but I am way “behind” on reading and haven’t been making any contributions so I feel guilty for asking now. And I feel guilty for being a bad cat mom. So…

    My stripey guy has two tufts on his back/spine that are matted. They are each a little larger than a quarter. They do not seem to bother him unless I am actively working on them but they do seem to be spreading a little. I have used several different brushes and combs and have not been successful. I would prefer not to take him to a groomer because although he is super-lovey he is also a real scaredy-cat and it would be traumatic for him. I have ordered a special “pet detangler” spray that has mixed but mostly positive reviews. If that doesn’t work, is there any option besides cutting them out? I have googled how to cut out mats and I think we could do it and he’d probably handle it better than going to a groomer but he still wouldn’t like it.

    1. Trixie*

      Maybe a friend can distract him while you groom? My friend has her second cat now with similar issues. If the cat is relaxed while she’s cuddling him, she can sometimes sneak in with scissors and snip them out. Or she’ll distract him while I comb it out or snip if necessary. I think some cats are just prone to this, especially if you’re brushing regularly.

    2. Lily Evans*

      When I’ve had cats with matted fur in the past, I’ve cut them off using round tipped nail scissors. I’d wait until they were in a cuddly/sleepy mood and just gently snip away until they noticed and got mad. It took a few tries to get the entire matted piece off, but it was the most low-stress method I’ve found!

    3. mreasy*

      If it’s at the mattes stage, you’re going to have to cut them out. A shaver works best. My kitty is horrible at grooming (always has been, and now has a touch of arthritis in his hips), so when my other cat was sick I let it get away from me and he got some matts. I think you can handle it with a partner – very quick to snip or shave, easier than trying to brush and brush at them.

    4. Emlen*

      I had a very elderly cat (read: I subjected her to as little stress as possible) with whom I had luck using nail/cuticle scissors horizontally across the top of her mats, making it simple to comb them out. I generally only ever did 15 minutes of grooming a day to avoid stressing her, so it could take a week to work out a section, but she was much happier when the mats were gone.

      I never cut past the top quarter of each mat in order to not cut the extremely delicate skin cats have, but that was always enough to break them up for combing.

    5. Panda Bandit*

      When the fur is already matted it’s best to cut it off. I got a brand new pair of scissors and waited until my kitty was distracted with food. I cut little bits off the matted parts while keeping an eye on my cat’s mood. If she gets mad or weirded out then I stop. It only took a couple of days to get rid of the mats.

    6. Gadget Hackwrench*

      You said you used all kinds of brushes and combs but I’m wondering if that includes dematters? They’re comb like, but each tooth of the comb is a claw like, curved, sharp on the inside blade. They break up the mats by both combing and cutting at the same time. Works well on my longhair.

  26. A.C. Stefano*

    So, slight update on the LASIK. I did call the doctor back, and he said that there was like, pre-cataract surgery, but I’m too young for that. And that they’re constantly trying to develop new stuff. So, I’m not giving up entirely, but it won’t be a high priority. I’ve already respent the money. :-) And maybe next year I’ll talk to my rheumatologist, or investigate this further down the road.

    Not quite as heartbroken as I was last week. Thank you guys for advise and comfort.

    On the plus side, I’m posting a new teaser poster for my book tonight, so mosey on over to my FB if you want! Hopefully I’ll make enough from it that I can get that $5500 cookware set I’ve been eyeing.

  27. Marillenbaum*

    Question here for any natural-hair AAMers: I’m biracial (Black/White) with 3B hair, and I want to try flexi rods or twist outs. Do any of you have experience with those methods? Any advice for a newbie? Thanks!

    1. Red*

      When the instructions say to make sure the flexirods are completely 100% dry before you remove them, they mean it. Your hair will be a mess if you do not. Trust me, I larned this through experience. Also, I found them horribly uncomfortable to sleep on, so I say f that and you should get a diffuser if you don’t already own one. Other than that, flexirods aren’t that complicated.

  28. Chocolate Teapot*

    It was a bit sad to hear that Dick Bruna, the artist who created Miffy, has passed away. I have always loved Miffy, probably because of the Mondrian inspired, minimalist drawings.

  29. CAA*

    Anybody here a fan of mid-century design? We’re heading to Palm Springs for a few days later this week and I just found out it’s “Modernism Week” there, which seems to be a really big thing. They have a lot of events, including house tours, lectures, museum exhibits, a tiki party, etc. Some of it sounds intriguing; DH definitely wants to go to the vintage airstream trailer show and we’re both up for a tiki drink.

    1. Temperance*

      That sounds so, so cool! I am a lowkey fan of that era – I’m in the process of figuring out what I like, if that makes sense – and midcentury modern furniture is my favorite.

      1. CAA*

        I get kind of nostalgic when I see the furniture of that era. As a child of the 60’s and 70’s, it was just “the furniture” and the adults in my life who’d bought and furnished their first homes in the 50’s or 60’s all had that style — though they bought cheaper knock-offs than what’s in the truly upscale homes and museums now. My MIL, who never redecorates, still has the wood-framed chairs with the angled backs and square cushions and a chandelier that looks like a star-burst.

    2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Very much so – I was devastated to give up my precious (free) tickets for the tour of the Robin Hood Estate here in London last fall during Open House weekend because I couldn’t walk. Those things were like gold dust and it was the only chance to get in and see the place before they tore/tear it down. Previously we’ve been able to go up some of the classic big estates like Balfron House and poke around before it was renovated, or Alexandria Road – some of the flats are still in original condition and are opened up for folks to see.

      We were at the Barbican on Thursday for a show and oh god I just love that auditorium, the seats are huge, the wood is golden, the acoustics are amazing. The is an estate agents here that only sells mid-century modern flats/homes and I spend way too much time on that site dreaming about what I could buy with $3M (themodernhouse.com). Unfortunately with our cats we couldn’t move to the Barbican now, but that is one thing I would love to check off.

      We think Palm Springs is great though – so much more “hopeful” design than the concrete jungles here in the UK!

      1. CAA*

        That’s so cool. I did not know that there was so much of it in London. I googled images of the Barbican theater, and wow!

        One thing I love about the older places in Palm Springs is the continuity of the indoor and outdoor spaces and how they used glass and water for visual effect. I might have to rewatch the “Mad Men” episodes that took place there just to get in the mood before we go.

    3. Drago cucina*

      My brothers-in-law retired to Palm Springs and are big mid-century modern fans. When we visited we discovered that Palm Springs has embraced it with a passion. They were redoing store fronts to reflect that aesthetic. Lots of shops to poke about in. Lulu California Bistro is a fun place to eat. Good food and people watching.

      1. CAA*

        I’ve been to Lulu! A former job did a company retreat in Palm Springs and we had a really amazing dinner there. I’d forgotten that, so thanks for reminding me! DH and I don’t have any plans other than relaxing in the desert heat and now a couple of the modernism events, but I can take him there for dinner one night.

  30. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I hope it’s not gauche to share interesting (to me) stats about the traffic here, because I want to share this one.

    So every January, this site gets a big jump in traffic that’s then sustained permanently. I have no idea why — people making new year’s resolutions to job hunt, maybe, and then sticking around? In any case, as a result of this year’s jump, the site has been getting more than 100,000 visits a day every weekday (except on Fridays — Fridays have always been the lowest-traffic weekday). This feels like a milestone of some sort, and I just keep marveling at it. (It’s also a little weird because within the comment section, I think it feels like a much smaller community.)

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Wow! My client agency is mid-sized and we average 20K sessions (Google Analytics term, probably the same as a visit) on a weekday!

    2. chickabiddy*

      Wow, congratulations!

      Are those 100,000 discrete visitors or does checking back a few (or, uh, more than a few) times a day count? Because I read when I have a chance, which means on and off throughout the day, and I’m old enough to remember when having more than a few windows open would blue-screen a computer so I tend to leave completely and then come back.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          I’ve found that each analytics engine can have slightly different definition for those terms. Sessions are usually defined as consecutive page views from the same browser session, but they will vary in how long it takes of a gap it takes between views for a session to end and a new one to begin. IIRC, most are around an hour, so if you’re reloading the site every 30 minutes or less, it’s probably one long session all day.

        2. Ladyoh*

          Newbie here. Someone over on Retail Hell Underground mentioned AAM about a week or two ago, and I’ve been coming on multiple times a day, or just reading for Hours!
          Just a tad addicted and I love the close community. This is the first weekend thread that I have read and I have to say – WOW!

    3. Jamie*

      I love stats like this – it’s not gauche it’s cool to know the scope.

      I’m an admin on a good sized forum (about 7k members) and the general rule of thumb which bears out pretty well is for every member who comments fairly regularly we have about 100 members who only lurk or post once or twice. And the unique visitors who just read and never join are about 10x membership.

      So it does feel like a smaller community and it’s easy to forget a lot more people are reading than responding.

      And that forum is not work related* (although we have some overlapping members, hi those of you who know my secret identity!) so I’d imagine here there would be even more readers who would be reticent to comment due to fear of dropping workplace specifics which could identify them.

      *Although I have evangelized AAM over there because awesome needs to spread across the internet. One post about AAM resulted in a PM asking, “Are you Jamie from AAM?” I had never mentioned my name over there. It was honestly the coolest I’d ever felt in my life!

      1. TL -*

        …now I desperately want to know your secret forum identity :P

        I also find these kinds of stats really cool! Plus it reassures me the website will be around for a while, which I very much want.

        1. Jamie*

          This on being glad Alison is getting this kind of traffic so it makes it harder for her to ever want to leave us. :)

          f r e e j i n g e r dot o r g. I’m the only admin with a penchant (although not avatar) for Hello Kitty :)

          I don’t want to link because anonymous over there but I’ll roll the dice that no one will scroll through the comments of an open thread looking for info on me. Hell, if someone was that motivated to find info about me I’m probably dysfunctional enough to fall in love with them for it.

          1. blackcat*

            When I was teaching high school, I told students that I was google-proof (I have an extremely common name). A student took this as a challenge, and he did, indeed find me on Facebook (he stalked anyone who he thought might be connected with me).

            He confessed this to me two years later. He said that when he found me, he was both very proud and very ashamed to have successfully found me on the internet.

            I found his entire story hilarious (including all of the ways he thought to look for me). It has been nearly a decade. I no longer teach. He’s now older than I was when I was his teacher. We are friends now.

            1. Dan*

              Somewhat related —

              In junior (this was like ’92, when the internet was still a thing for geeks, although that’s not really part of this story) my friend and I had had this computer science teacher that we were on pretty good terms with. I have no idea why she told us this, but one day, she told me and my friend that the lab password was her mother’s maiden name, and it was said to us in a way that hinted that we’d *never* figure it out.

              Except we took it as a challenge and figured it out. I can’t remember how we did it, but it wasn’t anything illegal. None the less, when the teach found out, she was *pissed*. TBH, I was a bit confused, because if we weren’t supposed to know the password, why did you even hint at it?

              25 years later, I still remember my 7th grade CS teacher’s mother’s maiden name.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Did you ever count up the regulars in the comment section? I guess define “regulars” would be the next hurdle, names we easily recognize? People who post daily or several times a week?
      It feels like maybe there are 3-4 dozen who post regularly, but I bet it’s actually a lot more than that.

      Winter blahs could be a contributor to your January jump. People are more apt to be stuck in their houses and have the time to look around the net.
      That is funny/odd though with Friday being the lowest traffic day and the open forums are so busy.
      I love watching the stats, keep sharing.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        A few years ago I tried to get a rough count of regular commenters, and it ended up being way higher than I’d estimated — I’d figured maybe 50-ish but it was a couple hundred, and it’s definitely expanded since then.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yeah, am not surprised by it being several hundred.

          I know a person who runs forums. It’s his biz and he’s been at it for a decade. His belief is that it takes 200 people to keep a conversation alive and running. Less than that the conversations will drop off and there will be less interest.

          So if we go with 200 as a baseline, it’s not hard to imagine that you probably have about 400 people posting on a fairly regular basis. I think the newer people are more apt to notice just how many different names keep popping up. Those of us who read regularly have gotten used to many of the names and we “know” the person, kind of/sort of.

    5. Temperance*

      I have a feeling that’s exactly what’s happened. You run an excellent site with high-quality content. Not gauche at all, but I have many feelings about women sharing their achievements. ;)

      1. Bibliovore*

        Love the a stats. Thanks for sharing. Also want to commend you for sticking to the “staying in scope” and leaving politics at the door. This IS my safe space and I DO love the regular commentators. Many have changed my life for the better. I even got a will.

    6. Owly*

      Nice! I was talking to a colleague about a few different issues discussed here (a big one was task based vs. relationship based workers since we are both engineers) and I was like, you have to check out the site. He was like, I have no idea who this person is but I love her already! So word of mouth seems to really help too!

    7. Chaordic One*

      Well, there’s nothing else like AAM out there, and it’s very good!

      I also appreciate the search feature which works very well.

    8. Nic*

      Very cool! Not gauche at all to share that awesome accomplishment.

      I check the site pretty much daily, and have recommended it to several friends. I came for the questions but stayed for the comments. You do a fantastic job at building community here.

  31. Milton*

    You guys!!! I really want a Vespa.

    Tell me about your Vespa. Do you drive it around a busy city (LA, NY, etc.)? Is it safe? Pros/Cons?

    1. Red*

      I don’t drive a Vespa, but I do have a moped of a different brand and can tell you about that. I live in Buffalo NY and drive it around there and Niagara Falls. It’s a little terrifying on the roundabouts, but I think that’s just me, because I even hate them in a car. I can’t speak to taking it out on highways, as I haven’t done that. It seems safe enough to me. I’ve been in two low-speed crashes and had a scrape on my thumb to show for it. I have, however, known people to crash and be very injured, so do dress appropriately. This means a helmet and lack of exposed flesh, at a minimum. Do not ever wear sandals unless you wish to make a disaster of things.

      The pros are the price and the fun. I could fill up the tank with pocket change and my commute was a treat, as opposed to something to dread. Cons would be that, in the event of a crash with a car, they will win and you will lose, so you have to dress safely and that’s not very fun on a warm summer day or when you want your hair to look nice. Also, rain sucks and bugs really will get in your teeth if you let them. Also that time there was a bee all up in my personal space when I was stuck at a red light was absolutely frightening, but I’m allergic to bees.

    2. KR*

      Vespas are just as dangerous as motorcycles. I’m a long time motorcycle rider but I’ve never owned a vespa. Please, please, please wear sturdy footwear (no sandals or thin sneakers, preferably a boot or something that covers your ankle), wear a proper DOT approved helmet (not a bicycle helmet), wear glasses/sunglasses/goggles/ something to protect your eyes, and some sort of gloves to protect your hands if you go down. You can still get road rash on a vespa, you can still get hit by a car, and you can still get seriously hurt.

    3. Stellaaaaa*

      My brother got into a really bad vespa accident in LA a few years ago (he got through it, but it was rough). They’re not jazzy little scooters or a good way to avoid the more annoying parts of car ownership.

      1. Milton*

        Dang it :( Okay, so after reading all the above…no Vespa. I’m not all about that danger. Thanks for your comments y’all.

        Man, I’m glad your brother recovered!

  32. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    After my crazy Friday (see other Friday post) I treated myself to sleeping late, a bubble bath, and a summery Walk in the city.

    Furniture for the new place: what are essentials for cozy living? I don’t have a couch, just chairs and a quasi-kitchen bar, etc.

    Also, for 1 BRs near metropolitan areas, what percent of rent is normal for a utilities bill, for minimal use? I work crazy hours, barely use utilities except 2x/day, the oven once or twice, no washer/dryer.

    Thanks <:)

    1. TL -*

      Utilities bill depends a lot on your area – where I live now, super cheap; where I lived before, more than 2x the cost but I use about the same type of energy and rent is way more expensive now. (So I pay a ton less, percentage wise.) Your utilities company can probably tell you what average use in your neighborhood is, though.

      Couch is an essential; but I think that the amount of furniture really depends on what makes you comfortable. Do you entertain a lot, do you want a computer desk, do you eat at the bar or at a table or on the couch?

    2. Jules the First*

      Furniture-wise, you need something to sleep on and something to eat off. Everything else is negotiable.

      When I bought my place, all I owned was a sofabed and some shelves. I’m pretty minimal – I have a bed and some storage in the bedroom; my living room has the sofabed, one comfy chair, a ton of bookshelves, and two little stools that double as side tables. There’s a table and four chairs in my dining area, plus another chair on the balcony. Frankly, I might have skipped the couch if I didn’t already have one – if your living space is small or oddly shaped, a bunch of comfy chairs can work just as well (though harder for friends to sleep on!).

      Utilites are really hard to predict without knowing your area, but whatever company provides utilities in your area probably has a bit on their website about typical usage. TVs, microwaves, tumble driers, toasters and kettles are the biggest power users.

  33. Headachey*

    Please send all your good thoughts my landlord’s way! He’s currently standing in a hole (in the rain) in my side yard trying to fix a break in the concrete side sewer and it’s just as nasty as you’d imagine. The really awful part is that even if he can get the break repaired, there’s still a clog further down the line – I don’t know when we’ll be able to use the drains again, and it will probably be sometime next week before the sewer people can come snake out the rest of the pipe.

    Never been more glad to be a lifelong renter!

  34. HelloItsMe*

    People who have lost weight who went from a normal weight to “more fit”… where did you get the motivation to do it?

    I was more fit at one point and there was absolutely no difference in how people treated me, in clothes I could wear, in how healthy I *felt,* so… I’m having trouble sticking with it.

    1. Turtlewings*

      Ugh. Wish I could help, but I was actually considering posting something very similar! I don’t like being overweight, but I also just… love food and really, really hate exercising! Right now my sister and I are competing for who exercises more in the week (loser has to handle the dog’s morning walk) and that helps. Sort of. I’ve walked the dog for two weeks in a row and it still didn’t motivate me to exercise at all this week.

      So yeah, if you figure it out, please share!

      1. HelloItsMe*

        I actually exercise a lot and like it a lot. For me it’s the feeling of being lethargic, unable to focus, wanting to stay in all the time and lie down… that happens when I eat less. =/

        1. TL -*

          Why eat less if you’re happy and healthy at the weight that you’re at and if eating less makes you feel terrible? You’re not going to be healthier by getting skinnier; if you’re in a normal weight range, neither skinny nor overweight, you’re probably at your healthiest weight. Fitness is much more a function of exercising than diet, too.

          Certainly, you can shift your eating habits to be eating healthier – and that’ll change your body, too, if you eat a different type of calories without eating less calories – but it sounds like you’re happy and healthy and functioning well where you’re at. What’s the motivation to change that?

          1. HelloItsMe*

            Well… the motivations are:
            1. I get headaches a lot and I thought if I ate healthier or lost weight they’d go away (but they haven’t). The doctor wanted to give me a scary daily medicine to take for my headaches that’s a lower dose of what they give people for seizures. So… I thought maybe diet was the answer.

            2. People (trainers at the gym, chiropractors) have said that I should weigh less for my age since I’m relatively young, even though I’m in the medically “healthy” chart.

            3. I thought maybe… I don’t know how good I “could” feel. Like, maybe I’m settling for something when I could be fitness-model level? I guess I just see a lot of people online who go from like “average” to like “I DIDN’T KNOW I COULD FEEL SO AMAZING” so I thought maybe I’m missing something.

            1. TL -*

              Oh, I’m sorry about the headaches; they sound awful.

              We have this cultural idea that our bodies are like a classic Porsche car and if only we do everything right we can restore and maintain them to this state of perfect running. And that’s just not true – we’re not machines and the human body is pretty much a compilation of things that worked good enough to get us to the next generation. And good enough includes things like constant headaches and autoimmune disorders and chronic joint problems. There’s no magic diet/exercise/weight that will make our imperfect bodies run perfectly. You can make it run better but you can’t make it anywhere near perfect and anyone who says you can doesn’t understand how bodies work. That’s where medicine and doctors come in – their job is to help our imperfect bodies become higher functioning than they sometimes actually are.

              I’m pretty sure my mom is on that medication; for what it’s worth she finds the increase in quality of life to be worth the side effects (which her doctor also helps her manage.)

            2. the gold digger*

              Fellow headache sufferer here. This is what the acupuncturist who treated me after my neurologist fired me said to do re food: eliminate certain foods (dairy, gluten, caffeine) from your diet for a week. You will notice in that time if there is an impact. I discovered that caffeine does not cause a headache by itself but seems to make me more susceptible to other triggers, like glare.

              I would try that before I would take lyrica, topomax, or depakote again, none of which stopped my headaches. Lyrica and depakote had the added advantages of being very expensive ($140 co-pay for the lyrica), making my hair fall out, and making me gain weight.

              My neurologist had just thrown some xeroxed pages to me with lists of foods that cause migraines. She did not explain that there is not necessarily a direct relationship between eating, for instance, aged cheese or chocolate, and getting a headache. Although those foods seem to have no impact on me, they might for you. Again, I would try eliminating those food types from your diet for a week or two to see what happens. Those anti-seizure drugs are no fun.

                1. the gold digger*

                  No, unfortunately. The acupuncturist didn’t think it would – he said acupuncture is more effective on pain caused by an external source – but we gave it a shot anyhow.

              1. DoDah*

                Ugh. Me too with the headaches. I get the puking, dizzy migraines. I’m still trying to figure out my triggers, but one of them is definitely wine. I take a daily dose of Nortriptyline (10MG) every night. My migraines went from 4-5 a week to 2 in 5 months.

      2. nep*

        Just to note — I reckon just about everyone loves food. I know I do.
        Losing weight does not have to mean utter deprivation.

    2. Ktelzbeth*

      I’m a little overweight now, but carry it fine and think I look okay, so looks aren’t my motivating factor. What’s motivating me is that I got into triathlons last spring. I read an article about the crazy amounts of money people are willing to spend to get their bike kit a little lighter versus how cheap it would be to get themselves a little lighter (assuming it was a reasonable idea healthwise) and that plus the idea of carrying less on the run is my motivation.

      1. Amadeo*

        I find my motivation shifting like this. I’d like to look better and not be *quite* so voluptuous as I am, but since I’m taking TaeKwonDo classes I realize that I am a weakling who has no flexibility or stamina. I’m contemplating joining the rec center at the university were I work and seeing a personal trainer maybe once a week in order to get to working on that stuff.

        it doesn’t help that I’m surrounded by a bunch of 7-12 year olds who flop down into the straddle splits like they have no connective tissue holding their hip joints in place.

      2. TaeKwonDoGirl*

        It might help if you remember that being healthy and fit is something much more than just being a healthy weight. Society is a bit obsessed with weight and we forget that there’s much more to fitness than simply being slim. I’ve gone through phases of being fit and unfit without massively changing my weight. Being fit Has so many positives aside from weight/appearance. You sleep better, feel more positive, more energetic, you enjoy healthy food more (when I go through phases of eating and drinking crap food then I crave more crap food, but when I am in training and eating healthily I crave more nutritious food), you can eat so much more when you are exercising more, you are physically stronger and have less muscle and joint pain… the list goes on. I personally do martial arts and an additional benefit is the feeling of confidence you get when you know you can protect yourself. Another big one is that you can eat anything you like and don’t have to diet because you will burn it off.

        My advice – forget about aiming for a healthy weight and instead aim for physical fitness in terms of being in shape through a sport. When I am “in training” i.e. I have a competition or a grading coming up I swim twice a week and train twice a week – and I feel amazing. Unfortunately I can’t maintain that level all the time (coz life) but even when I train or swim twice a week total I feel great.

        Tl;dr: find a sport you enjoy and forget about dieting!

        1. HelloItsMe*

          Ok thanks! I don’t know why this keeps getting lost, but I already love exercising and I already exercise 4-5 times a week. Maybe I just need to train harder? That could be a solution. Thanks! =)

          1. TaeKwonDoGirl*

            Oh sorry I must be a bad reader. Honestly if you are exercising 5 times a week I don’t really know how it’s possible that you are unfit. There’s different types of exercise (strength, flexibility, stamina, fitness) and the one that helps with fitness is cardiovascular exercise. Proper cardiovascular exercise should raise your heart and breathing rate and keep it elevated for at least 20 mins. If you are already doing that 5 times a week and you are still unfit then I think you need to see a doctor because there may be some medical reason you are not getting fit.

            Most people only need 2 x 20 min sessions of cardiovascular per week to be fit. (Fit in this case = can walk up stairs quickly and not be out of breath, though of course you can get much fitter than that).

            I haven’t see you work out so I don’t know how hard you train. I’m sure you are training well but I’ve seen people do silly things like get into a swimming pool and chat to their friend for an hour doing the odd 30 second swim – and theft thing they’re exercising. I’m sure that’s not you though.

            Maybe it’s the type of exercise? Yoga for example will make u flexible but not fit. Swimming is a great all-round exercise.

            Good luck anyway

            1. HelloItsMe*

              Yeah, I think it’s really just calories in vs calories out. Like I said, I’m in the “normal” weight range. so I’m not totally unfit.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            So, let me get this straight. You are exercising 4-5 times a week. But you feel unmotivated and tired.

            Ummm. Maybe you are doing too much??? Let me go the opposite way here. Do you get 8 hours of sleep a night? Granted not everyone needs 8 hours, but some people do and don’t realize. Did you know that lack of sleep can turn us into a different person? Okay not that dramatic but we can fail to live up to our potential if we do not get enough sleep. And we can feel like we have no motivation to do things.

            What you are talking about are core issues. Just my experience and not anything else, but you could check to see if your heart/thyroid/adrenal glands are working correctly.
            Next make sure you are getting minerals and hydrating properly.

            Next go after the emotional/psychological piece of the story: How are you doing with your life goals? A person who is not meeting their life goals OR does not have any life goals can reeeeally flounder at their very core. This is a person that could have difficulty doing the simplest things. It’s an all new level of feeling lost. If this resonates with you even a little bit, you may want to start thinking about what is actually meaningful to you. Don’t be too surprised if it’s not a traditional answer such as “I want a million dollars.” I wanted a house and a dog. I could be content with a modest house and a mutt, but I really wanted a house and a dog down to my very core. It anchored me, made me feel safe. This was a goal that came from my very core.
            General overview: It could be time to check out your direction in life, see if it is satisfying you and if not, make some tweaks.

            1. HelloItsMe*

              I’ve been checked out and everything is fine. I do sleep a lot already.

              I think you might be on to something with the emotional part of things. Exercising is the most exciting part of my day. I think it’s really a core belief… like, I need to start believing I can get what I want. So that I have something to work for and look forward to. I want a dog too. I don’t know why I stopped believing it was possible.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                Oooo. My heard just had a little pang. You stopped believing that getting a dog was possible? oh my. No. You can get a dog. If you want a dog then you should have a dog.

                1. HelloItsMe*

                  I’m really glad I’m conscious about this now. Yeah somewhere I along the line I think I stoppped trying. I don’t know why.

    3. Wing Girl*

      My motivation is seeing the health issues of older family members that could have been minimized or avoided if they had exercised more and eaten healthier when they were younger. I like to eat and still let myself have the “bad” stuff” but I do try to do that with more moderation. And I work out more than I used to. I consider it an investment in my future – potentially less health issues to deal with later.

    4. AnotherLibrarian*

      For me, it is about mental health. My depression and anxiety are much easier to manage when I work out regularly, but I hate working out.

      So, what I do, is I use a timer. I work out at home and I tell myself, “You can do anything, even things you hate, for 25 minutes.” Then I stretch out, set a timer on my phone, and workout.

      After 25 minutes, I have permission to stop. I often keep going at that point if I am in the middle of a set or something, but the fact that I know I can stop makes me feel better. Maybe this’ll work for you.

      1. HelloItsMe*

        Thanks. Yeah, I’ve thought about this! Like I said though, I like exercise regularly and I like it a lot. It’s the eating less that’s harder because I get so fatigued that it’s hard to accept feeling lethargic instead of just eating more. I’ve tried the, “It feels bad but it’s only temporary,” thing, but it’s also kind of not temporary because it lasts like all day lol.

        1. Jules the First*

          I just wanted to pop in and say that if eating less is making you lethargic, you might want to look at what you are eating rather than just how much. I spent a long time (years! sob!) working with my amazingly patient team of doctors to figure out a diet that not only manages my chronic disease (which normally is treated with scary immunosuppressants and steroids which make me miserable) but makes me feel awesome. There were definitely variations over the years that made me feel lethargic and deprived, but we hit on one a couple of years ago that manages my illness, knocked the last stubborn 15 pounds off my frame, and made me feel full (of food and energy)!

          In terms of where to start, look at things like sugar, fat and protein content, timing of meals, snacking or not snacking. For example, I never snack (it makes me feel blah), but we do work hard to make sure my calories are evenly distributed across three meals. And while I can’t eat many carbs, I’m a mess if I don’t have some carbs at every meal.

    5. Vancouver Reader*

      My motivation is/was my knees felt so much better for it! Even though I’m currently on the lighter side of normal (according to my Wii Fit), when I went into what it considered to be underweight, my knees gave me absolutely no trouble whatsoever. Also made me feel I could indulge more when I actually wanted to.

    6. Charlie Q*

      Honestly? Don’t eat less. One good rule of thumb I heard is to eat what you *should* (the veggies, the protein, the eggs and avocados and so forth) first. Then, if you’re still hungry, you can eat the junkier stuff. I’ve been counting calories, but that’s mostly to stop my mindless not-actually-hungry snacking.

      I also find a lot of motivation in activities & functionality. I swing dance, and I want to be good enough for the performance team next year, so I work on cardio and am starting agility & balance work to keep me light on my toes. I want to join a community softball league this summer, so more running, which I love on its own — I want to be a runner who can run a decent 10k. And when I work out especially, I get to feed my body stuff that’s really good for it, and I don’t need to restrict amounts because I (a person who struggles with “stopping when you’re naturally full” as a concept) am just more satisfied.

    7. Anon for this*

      I’m mostly motivated by mental health. Exercise makes a massive difference for me.

      My other motivation is shallow, in a way, but personal in another.

      A long time ago, I had to have surgery to be able to walk. When the braces came off, simple activities made my weak, skinny legs tired and sore. I also wasn’t happy with how my legs looked. My kneecaps stuck out and my thighs had no shape.

      Also, because I had been prescribed steroids and hadn’t watched what I was eating, I gained weight around my upper body. It felt disproportionate, gaining weight around my face, arms, and stomach, while my legs shrank.

      So now? I really appreciate being stronger. I like feeling more proportionate. I like how I look in skinny jeans and shorts. And I like that I can check out my legs, surgery scars included, like heck yeah, I did that.

      I like seeing my work pay off. And if you don’t have the injury recovery thing going, maybe you can still relate to that. Getting stronger, meeting your goals, and seeing the evidence every time you look down at yourself feels good.

    8. AnotherAlison*

      This is me right now. I’m at my normal weight, but just started back with more regular, harder exercise and upping my Intermittent fasting game because to want to be leaner. I guess I DO notice a difference because people comment on how fit I look when I am a little leaner but not now and I can wear a size smaller clothes and am more comfortable with how I look. I also see my health numbers improve.

      I am lucky and have spent my whole adult life in a 15# range (in the lower middle now), and even though the high end is very normal, I get a double chin at that weight. Really, if I was in your shoes and didn’t see a measurable difference that was meaningful to me in any aspect of my life, I wouldn’t bother.

    9. Gadget Hackwrench*

      Pokemon Go. I am dead serious. Two weeks after I started playing I thought with all this walking I do I should get a Fitbit. The Fitbit is up my rear about walking all the damned time, and harasses me to get up from my desk and walk at least once an hour, and since I’m logging my food in it, I’m consciously ware of what I’m eating, and less likely to boredom eat. It’s been slow, as it’s bound to be when you’re in the “normal” range, and like you said… no difference anyone else can see… but I do think I look a bit better in the nude now. More trim.

      7 months and I’m still at it.

    10. Candy*

      I’m similar (not overweight, but not as fit as I’d like) and there’s a couple things that motivate me to keep going to the gym.

      1. I found a form of exercise that I genuinely enjoy (swimming). That makes a HUGE difference to me. I would DREAD going out to run because I hated it so much. My ass looked great when I was running, but I’d be running and my mind would be on a loop thinking “my knees are killing me, my legs are tired, this is so monotonous, I’m so miserable” and eventually I just stopped going out. But knowing I’m going to the gym to swim, which I love doing, makes it so much easier to get out, even when I’m tired.

      2. My gym is literally next to my job so there’s no excuse for me to not pop in after work. If I had to travel out of my way to exercise, I know I would never do it.

      3. Going to the gym is the only time of the day I get to be alone and unplugged – no work, no husband, no screens – it’s bliss. It’s really nice to have at least one hour a day to not be looking at my computer or phone or listening to music to talking to anyone.

      4. I enjoy sex more when I’m fit. I still enjoy it, but I was definitely more uninhibited I was when I was really toned and I’d like to get back to that.

      5. I really like the smug self-satisfaction I get after I swim haha

      6. In the immortal words of Terry Crews’ AMA:
      Yes. It has to feel good. I tell people this a lot – go to the gym, and just sit there, and read a magazine, and then go home. And do this every day.
      Go to the gym, don’t even work out. Just GO. Because the habit of going to the gym is more important than the work out. Because it doesn’t matter what you do. You can have fun – but as long as you’re having fun, you continue to do it.
      But what happens is you get a trainer, your whole body is sore, you can’t feel your legs, and you’re not coming back the next day – you might not come back for a year!
      I worked my way up to 2 hours a day. I ENJOY my workouts. They are my peace, my joy – I get my whole head together! I value that time more than my shower! And it really gets me together. But it’s a habit.
      There are times when – I’m not even kidding – there are times when I”m in the middle of a work out, and actually woke up because i am so engrained with going to the gym and being there – it’s that much of a habit to me. The first thing I do in the morning is work out – I lay out my workout clothes the night before, and just hop in ’em.
      So lay out your clothes, and go to the gym, and relax.
      But sooner or later, you WILL work out.”

      1. HelloItsMe*

        Hey like I said I already work out regularly. It’s the eating less and dealing with the lethargy that’s the issue. What do you do about that?

        1. Epeeist*

          Some of what you’ve said reminds me of when I’m not getting enough to eat and/or overtraining. Once I decided to eat less in an effort to be healthier (spoiler alert: eating less and eating healthier are not the same thing!!!), but when I started to be tired all day and could track the time by when a headache would appear, I took a closer look at how much I was eating. I realized I was eating far less than what would support my activity level. When I started eating more, but more fruit and vegetables and proteins instead of the snack foods I was eating before (like other people have said), the headaches went away and my energy came back. I also moved to eating a small meal every four hours instead of one big meal at lunchtime, which keeps me from feeling like I’m starving to death during the workday – which in turn helps me cut down on the amount of snacks I eat.

          Another issue can be overtraining. Other people have mentioned this – your body needs time to recover. I have a busy competitive schedule and it can be really tempting to train at 100% all the time, but over the years I’ve found that I stay in much better shape if I build in days where I either do nothing or my exercise consists of rambling around the mall. (I also feel a lot better if there are days when I can eat anything I want, which may or may not have been an entire pizza in one sitting the other day…)

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Protein drink?

          Sometimes the body holds on to weight when it knows it is not getting enough food. That is an odd thing to say, but there can be a hording type of panic inside the body.

          I hope you see this. Counter-intuitive I know but maybe try a week of eating more protein and veggies? If my theory is correct you should notice a bit of change in sleep patterns too. We get energy from two places: food and sleep. The two are connected. If we do not sleep enough we can tend to eat too much. If we do not eat enough, we can tend to sleep more.

          When I had tightest control over my diet, I also had a very physical job. Similar to lifting 30 pounds every 15 minutes all day long. I narrowed down to mostly veggies and meat. But I did not limit my portions, I ate until I was full. I did make sure that my last snack was an hour or two before bed, not right at bedtime. I only lost 4 pounds but I did go down several sizes. I think that a lot of these people who write diets do not have physical jobs or do not do the amount of exercise you do. I think that they woefully underestimate how many calories we can burn.

          Which brings me to my other suggestion of going the opposite way: exercise every other day and keep the food intake the same. Tweak something, do it for a period of time and see what changes.

    11. Coraggio*

      I do lots of exercise but love food & work in the food industry so temptation is everywhere! The last few months of 2016 were pretty bad for me as there were a few stressors happening which made poor eating choices. The last 4wks or so I’ve been much better.

      “Thinking; fast & slow” was a very interesting read in general and had some great chapters on how to make better decisions, some specifically around food choices. Now I can “pre-make” decisions and head off a lot of the impulsive eating that I do. And there was a good TED talk on embracing your bad habits & really paying attention to them – how you feel when you do them, how you feel afterwards.

      Things that work for me:
      Have lots of healthy, easy choices – veges & fruit to snack on, wholegrain but delicious carb options, good sources of protein & fats.

      Removing all temptation from the house – the only thing is dark chocolate so that I get my once daily fix. I find I rarely want more than the day’s allotment of it, whereas other treat foods I can over eat easily.

      Being really educated on what I’m eating – both to ensure that what I’m eating is truly healthy and so that I know when I’m having a treat. When I started really paying attention to labels I was really surprised how many extra calories I was eating from “non-treat” foods – both portion size and unexpectedly high calorie content (almonds – I’m looking at you!)

      It’s not easy & it’s always a work in progress! Good luck

  35. Sybil Fawlty*

    I’m right there with you. I am at the top of the normal weight range for my height and build. I look pretty decent, but I have looked better.

    But I think, good grief, that’s such a lot of work and such a pain. Is it really worth it? And so far, the answer is NO.

    If you get any motivating ideas, I’d love to hear them.

    1. Kj*

      Does it really have to matter to you? Honestly, I have decided that, as long as I’m healthy, I’m cool with my weight. There is a LOT of pressure to be on a diet/lose weight, but if you are healthy and happy, then why bother? Dieting isn’t very good for you, all the studies agree, and people with a little extra weight tend to live longer anyways.
      If you want to change something, focus on healthy habits-make a plan to change something in your routine to make yourself healthier. I try to exercise daily and eat 90% dark chocolate for health reasons. I’ve also recently added taking a prenatal vitamin and when I get pregnant, I’ll have to make other adjustments. But I’m trying NOT to focus on my weight and it helps me feel better about myself. Health is key to me.

  36. Sad Under my Covers*

    I posted a few weeks ago about how I was going through an ‘unofficial’ breakup. So the big issue is this guy runs in my same social circle as me- I have full confidence if I didn’t have to see him, I would be able to get over this quite quickly. This is also the first ‘breakup’ I’ve had with someone I can’t avoid. While I’m avoiding events I KNOW he’ll be at, the only way to 100% avoid him would be to not leave my apartment which isn’t healthy. We’ve been on and off and whenever we’re off, I always feel anxious about running into him but this feels 100x worse and like it will never end.

    I feel so much anger. I can deal with pain and heartache but having to plan my life around him is driving me nuts. I hate that he can go out and run into me and it’s NBD but leaving my apartment and knowing I may see him, makes me incredibly anxious- the last time I ran into him, I threw up right afterwards. I knew he was going to this event this weekend and I really wanted to go but I bowed out because I knew I would run into him and end up feeling worse. I hate that I am giving him this power but I don’t know how to control my emotions.

    I feel stuck in a terrible cycle. I feel like he is controlling my life. So I keep telling myself that he doesn’t and I’m the one letting him control my life. This, in turn, makes me feel worse about myself and that I’m weak that I can’t take the control back. I feel like an idiot since this guy wasn’t even my real boyfriend and my friends just keep saying ‘don’t let him control your feelings’. Easier said than done?

    Normally I really like my therapist but lately she isn’t helping too much. She validates my feelings of sadness but can’t give me any real life tips on how to overcome any of this. Not sure if I’m looking for tips or commiseration or what. Just feel frustrated by this :(

    1. Stellaaaaa*

      It could be that it’s time to move on to a different social circle anyway. I’ve been part of those larger “incestuous” groups where everyone eventually gets with everyone. It just ends up being really toxic and stressful after a while. There’s no reason for people out of school to be maintaining a huge network of “friends” that they don’t even like all that much, nor is it fruitful to force yourself to be on speaking terms with people you broke up with and need a clean break from.

    2. fposte*

      Sad, it’s possible that a different kind of therapy might be more useful to you right now–doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with your current therapist, but sometimes you’re seeing a primary care physician when you need a physical therapist. Something more like CBT or DBT, focused on changing your behaviors and strengthening your self-soothing and self-regulation skills, might be worth looking into for a bit. And try to cut yourself a break–it’s really hard to redirect your feelings, especially when you’re already under stress. Saying “Don’t let him control your feelings!” is kind of like saying “Just eat less and you’ll lose weight!”–it’s the “how” that’s the tough part there.

      And Stellaaa may have a point about the friends group, and it certainly wouldn’t hurt to take a moment to strike out in a new social direction or two right now. That might also be helpful in just shaking up your routine a little so that it’s not exactly the same except for the relationship that isn’t.

      1. TaeKwonDoGirl*

        I agree CBT would be perfect for this. That’s cognitive behavioural therapy and it’s pretty much aimed at exactly what you are describing.

      2. ArtsNerd*

        it’s the “how” that’s the tough part there

        wow, thanks for articulating this. I hadn’t ever thought about it exactly that way.

        re: CBT, there’s a free online program called Mood Gym. My understanding is that this kind of online therapy is just as successful as in-person… IF you actually stick with it and do all the exercises, etc. That’s a big “if,” but even the little bit that I did myself before I fell off was helpful for me.

      3. Sad Under my Covers*

        I just looked at my therapist’s website and it says CBT is what she primarily does? I haven’t expressed these thoughts to her yet so maybe I should start there.

        1. fposte*

          That seems like it would be a good start. Sometimes therapy helps you realize more about what you want from therapy, so she should be pretty used to that.

    3. Jo*

      I’ve been in the EXACT same position for the past few months – my first real, long-term relationship ended and due to the fact that we live in a small international community in a conflict zone, there is no avoiding him. I ran into him at a social event about a week and a half after we broke up and I proceeded to quickly get drunk and stay drunk for the next two days. It was not pleasant.

      After that incident, however, I did manage to successfully avoid him for the next two months, which really helped a lot. Avoiding him is not “giving him power” over you — it’s you looking out for yourself. Distance helps. Constantly seeing him does not help you to move on. Avoiding him as much as you can for a while makes a difference. It lets you heal without the sporadic heart-being-ripped-out-of-your-chest pain that you get when you run into him. Just the thought of running into him immediately threw me to the