weekend free-for-all – February 25-26, 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: Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, by Helen Simonson. It’s a British comedy of manners, but it’s more too. (I recommended the author’s The Summer Before the War last year too, and this one is just as good.)

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

{ 1,146 comments… read them below }

    1. TL -*

      I loved it! It’s exactly the kind of sweet and funny and touching that makes me feel like the world is a wonderful place.

  1. Ayeaye*

    How do you know when to have a baby? My husband and I are fairly indifferent and don’t have that big drive. We may never decide to. But I feel we ought to make an active decision rather than drifting in to just not bothering. What was it that made you decide either way? I’m 32 so feel like I ought to decide sooner rather than later.

    1. Anna Pigeon*

      I was listening to a podcast this morning, and the guest suggested using hindsight. As in, 5, 10, 20 years from now, what do I want to have done? The idea is it’s easier for us to make accurate decisions using hindsight, even when talking about the future, than to ask ourselves directly what we want to do.

      Good luck.

    2. Former Retail Manager*

      Full disclosure…..I say this as a person who doesn’t like kids and never planned to have them…..I have one daughter who is now 17 and of course we love her….buuuuttttt….

      I would say that if you don’t feel a very strong drive to be a mother/parents and you truly love your life as it is, then don’t have kids. I knew from about age 13 that I didn’t want kids, enter unplanned pregnancy at age 18, to which the response from many people was, “you’ll love being a mother…just wait.” I didn’t love it, just as I knew I wouldn’t. I do like it much more now that my daughter is a teenager with a sense of humor and with whom I can have adult discussions, but I have never found motherhood to be super fulfilling in the way that some women do.

      I agree with you that it should be an active decision by both you and your husband and if neither of you feels compelled to do it now, then maybe agree to revisit it in a year and see where you both are then. And you have to consider that, if you do end up wanting kids, that conceiving may take longer due to your age. I’m sure I’ll get crap for this next statement, but I feel like 35 is the deadline. If you don’t know by then, parenthood is probably not for you. Trust your gut & best of luck!

      1. Zombeyonce*

        I second this entire comment. And if you don’t know if you want the commitment of 18+ years of parenting, that doesn’t mean you can’t have an impact on kids’ lives.

        Ayeaye, you can always become a foster parent; there are tons of kids that need temporary housing and won’t be put up for adoption. If you ended up fostering and find that you want to continue that experience, you could start fostering kids that aren’t necessarily in transitional situations and may need adoption after all. You can specify exactly what you can and can’t accommodate and stop taking in kids if you decided it wasn’t for you. I realize this isn’t exactly like parenting, but it may fulfill a need you have.

        I think the best advice is for you and your partner to do some real soul searching to find out what exactly it is about having kids that makes you want them. Be incredibly honest in this process and then take what you’ve come up with and decide if it’s enough to justify the massive commitment of raising a child. IMO, if you’re on the fence that means you’re not ready. Which is totally okay.

    3. Anon for this*

      We found out a couple of days ago that our first baby is on the way after ivf (we’re both women, 35 and 36). We made the decision about when to take the decision by testing our FSH levels and seeing how much time we really had to decide. You can also test anti-Müllerian hormone to see what your egg reserves are like.
      We are over the moon about the baby, but still convinced that we will could a happy life with or without children, so indifferent in the way that we don’t have a strong drive to have children, but not indifferent at all in that we feel very confident of loving the ones we do have.

      1. Happymammy*

        I second FSH testing. It is nowhere near 100% accurate in terms of saying if you will get pregnant or not, but it’s the best relatively cheap test out there. It will at least give you an idea of whether you can postpone the decision or not.

        I would recommend you try to make the decision sooner rather than later anyway. think about the age you would be when your kids teach various milestones and think about what your life would be like at that age if you don’t have kids. That might help with the decision.

        IF you do decide to have a baby then look at all the costs involved and start saving. Once you can afford it go for it the longer you leave it the harder it will get.

        I personally love being a mother but I’ve known I wanted to have kids since my late teens. It’s not for everyone.

    4. Marcela*

      I always knew I did not want children. However, for some time I thought I hated maternity with the intensity of thousand suns. Before I left my parents’ home, my ability of get pregnant was the reason I was denied most social relationships, specially compared with my brother. It was only later, about 6 years ago, when I was diagnosed with a very serious endometriosis and told I cannot conceive, that I realized that I do not hate the idea to be a mother: I am just not interested in being one, and I truly believe a child should be wanted, or said in a better way , that if I am in the position to choose, having a baby I do not want with all my soul would be kind of unfair to that child. Therefore, here I am, 40 and childless.

    5. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I always knew I didn’t want kids, and I got plenty of “oh, you’ll change your mind”. Uh, no. So I guess that’s just always been a foregone conclusion for me. For my friends, from what I’ve observed, it always seemed like it was assumed they would have kids 2 or 3 years after marrying, with most everyone in the early to mid 30s age bracket, working on the assumption that there is “never a good time to have a baby”. Across disparate groups of friends it seems like once one couple starts then the rest all follow. Is your crowd babying up and you feel like you need to make a stand one way or another?

      I think the important thing is that you and your husband are on the same page regardless of whether you want kids or not. And I’m not certain a big decision HAS to be made one way or another, but it is good to acknowledge feelings and think about what you want, pros and cons, check in every once in a while. You could find you make a decision not to and then your biological clock kicks in three years later. Its ok to leave space to change your mind, as long as the husband is also on the same ride!

    6. Mike C.*

      I feel like if you don’t have a strong desire to have children then don’t. I’m about your age and realized that my own indifference was masking a strong but socially unpopular desire not to actually have children.

      1. Former Retail Manager*

        I think this is the case for many more people than admit it, which I find remarkably surprising considering that our country, generally speaking, is very progressive and has evolved socially in so many areas in the last century, but yet, say you don’t want children and you get side eye from a variety of folks.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I think this has to be a regional thing. I’ve been very open about not wanting kids for at least the last 10 years and I never notice any side eye. (I always wonder if it’s because people are thinking, “oh, thank god she won’t be trying to mother anyone.”) I can never relate to the stories people have of it being a Big Thing that they’re not reproducing, and I wonder if it’s location-dependent.

          1. Allypopx*

            I think it’s a combination of location, generation, class, family background, etc. From what I can tell the same range of reactions applies to this as applies to coming out (not saying they’re comparable experiences, just that the reactions vary in similar ways).

            My family (northeast) has reacted to both my coming out as bi and my not wanting kids with the same level of “ergh…ok I guess.” My peers have rarely reacted to either. I think my boss finds my not wanting kids weird but he can mind his own.

          2. nep*

            Same. I’ve always known I was not meant to be a mother — never wanted children. Never picked up any kind of negative response to that at all.

          3. Gaia*

            I’ve lived in the west, the midwest and the northeast and in each area while some people closer to my age (older end of millennial) thought nothing of my desire to not reproduce, the majority of the populace acted as if I were personally attacking *their* choice in the making of *my* choice. Which is weird.

            I’m always amazed at how aggressive people are in their desire for me to have children.

            1. Mike C.*

              This fits my experience to a T. The aggressiveness and feelings of being attacked, it’s really strange.

              1. ECHM*

                I got married last July. Within a few months people were asking if we were going to have kids – one even patted my stomach expecting some kind of announcement – Ewww!

            2. CM*

              I never thought of it that way — I always thought of it as people trying to force their own choices on others, not as feeling personally attacked because others made different choices. Interesting. And I kind of get it — if you feel like this is something that has never been an option for you, and everyone has always told you that this is the way life has to be, then it would be unsettling and scary for somebody else to make a different choice like it’s no big deal. (Not that I’m defending people who insist that everyone make the same reproductive decisions as them.)

              Anyway, to the original question, I don’t feel like there’s a “right” choice here. There are little tests you can give yourself, like if I found out today that I was pregnant, how would I feel, and on my deathbed, if I don’t have any children, how would I feel. But I think that there are plenty of people who could go either way and have a satisfying life with no major regrets no matter what they chose. This decision feels fraught because it is a major crossroads in your life, but it’s one where either path is probably going to work out just fine.

          4. Former Retail Manager*

            HA! “Thank God she isn’t mothering anyone!” That’s great. I think it’s probably somewhat location dependent. I’m in the South and it is still pretty much expected, in most social circles here, that you will have children at some point if you’re married, unless you are reproductively challenged. And as Allypopx said, the other issues factor in as well, generation, class, etc.

          5. Not So NewReader*

            NE US here. I saw some of it in the 70s maybe early 80s. But I just stopped expressing my thoughts and that ended it. In other words, the push to have kids was not that strong. If I said nothing then nothing was said. That could be because some people felt the subject was taboo at that time, so they did not mention it unless I mentioned it first? Not sure.
            I do know that I felt pretty radical supporting people’s choices not to have kids. I used to say that parenting is one aspect of life but not ALL of life. There are many aspects of life to experience. People definitely did not respond like that back then.

            More currently, I know just as many people without kids as I do people with kids. I was hoping our society had quit considering this as odd, but I guess we are not there yet.

            1. Mike C.*

              I wish I could avoid the discussions but people won’t stop pointing to my car and talking about “how I’ll never be able to keep it once I have kids”.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                Oh, I would have to shut that one down. You are very patient.

                “You have said that before. Please stop saying that.”

                “Maybe you’re not aware, but commenting to people about their future kids is really not cool. Please stop.”

                “Wow. There are a lot of assumptions in that statement. Let’s talk about something else.”

                “Okay, this is the fourteenth time you have said this to me. It’s rude and you need to stop.”

                I think the thing that would bother me the most about the statement is the implication that I do not make enough money to support kids and the car. Or the shallow thinking that I could not possibly think of purchasing a different vehicle. May you could just shrug and say, “That is why there are so many different cars at the car store. We get what fits our life for the moment.” Or just tell them to eat their hearts out. grrr. I am sorry you are hearing this crap.

              2. TL -*

                I would say, completely deadpan, “Oh, it’s not going to be a problem. I’m planning on strapping the car seat to the roof the car.” And then refuse to engage further.

                But if you’re going to say something that dumb to me, I’m going to see how far I can take it.

                1. Mike C.*

                  Actually, you can fit a car seat in the back.

                  Technically. ;)

                  I would never even think about strapping a car seat to the roof – loads of engineers worked really hard to get the drag coefficient down to 0.27 and it would be an insult to spoil their hard work!

          6. Kj*

            I think it is regional, as well as about class and level of religiosity. My conservative, religious, southern US family is aghast that I am 31 and not yet a mom. They were shocked that my husband proposed to me at all, given my advanced age (late 20s) and given his age (mid-30s) they assumed he had to have been married at least 1x before. But in my current city (in the Pacific NW USA) no one blinks at my waiting to have kids, I got married younger than a lot of women I know and no one assumed husband had a previous marriage behind him. My cohort in this city is mostly well-educated (MA and higher)and tend to be not religious.

            When I work with kids in my area that are lower income/more religous, they tend to assume I have a child, as most women my age they encounter on a regular basis have a child or two. But they aren’t too shocked when I say I don’t have kids- just mildly surprised.

          7. FDCA In Canada*

            I think it’s regional, but also depends on urban v. rural v. suburban, social background, economics, ethnic background, and like a million other things. So like everything! My husband and I have been struggling with infertility for two years in May, and while we haven’t gotten a lot of outright comments or anything, it’s definitely assumed that everyone has kids in our area because most people DO, and young. Because we don’t, people automatically assume that we don’t want kids at all because of our “advanced age”–almost 30. But when we visit friends in a larger cities, nobody there bats an eye or thinks twice. Then again, when we visit my husband’s family, the assumption is that something is terribly wrong.

            I think this is the kind of thing where it’s heavily dependent on location and social class and ethnic/social background and money, too, so it’s probably hopeless to generalize any more!

          8. That would be a good band name*

            Rural Midwest here and it still gets side-eye. Maybe a holdover from when they needed the big families for farming and still can’t imagine that someone wouldn’t want any kids?

          9. PNW*

            Regular poster going anon for this.

            I knew I didn’t want kids from a young age. I got married young (before my 19th birthday) and by the time I was in my early 20’s, all my peers were having kids so it seemed like the next thing to do. By then I felt I wanted to, but honestly being a mother was really, really hard for me. I love my kids and now that they are adults I am really glad that I have them. There were good times but honestly, it was so hard being a mom to young kids and I would have had a much different life if I had stuck to my original plans of never having kids. I would have divorced my husband a decade sooner than I did and I probably would have gone back to school and gotten a degree.

            I’m super happy with my life now, but for about 20 years it was a huge struggle for me.

            1. fposte*

              I just read a really interesting article about parents (especially mothers) who wished they hadn’t had children, and what a huge taboo it is to admit that. The woman featured seemed to have walked an effective line in that she clearly loved her (teenage? young adult? can’t remember) daughter and was happy to know her, but felt motherhood itself had been a mistake. It was sort of like somebody who’d met her husband at a bad long-term job that had hurt her career; the two experiences were separated enough that the daughter didn’t read it as a personal slam. Not sure I’d have managed that myself as the daughter, but I kind of got the differentiation.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                The problem comes in when you let the cat out of the bag, you now have a child who knows you wish you never had them. I think that people put the brakes on because they think, “What if my parents told me that?” or “Wait. My parents did tell me that and that did not go well.”

                For the most part however, I tend to think that children already know that their parents wished they never had them. It shows in the words and actions or lack of words and actions coming from the parent. We all are much more transparent to each other than we would like to think about.

                1. DoDah*

                  I agree with this 100%. I know for a fact both my parents should have never had me or gotten married. I don’t think they would ever articulate it, but I know.

                2. Former Retail Manager*

                  You are absolutely correct that we are much more transparent than we’d like to think. My teenage daughter always suspected that I had been sure about motherhood and harped on me for so long that I went ahead and told her the truth, which wasn’t quite as harsh as the article that fposte mentioned. I saw no benefit to her continued uncertainty and laid it out for her. She said that nothing I said really surprised her….everything I said just supported what she’d been thinking.

            2. Hrovitnir*

              Thank you for sharing. Honestly, I think this is pretty common? But generally not OK to talk about. It doesn’t carry the same judgement but gives the wrong impression if I say that maybe it would have been better for me not to have got together with my partner. It’s been hard, as I was so young and I am only starting to get less emotionally dependent after 13 years, and I struggle a lot with monogamy – it actually makes me really insecure, heh. I love him so much. But it’s possible I would be better at adulting without him to help me (I’m working on it).

          10. Elizabeth H.*

            I find it easy to believe it’s location-dependent. I’m in the Boston area and have never, ever felt like I had pressure or expectations from anyone, family, society, strangers, friends, whatever about having kids (in the abstract). However personally speaking, I really want kids, I’m 29 and starting to get a little freaked out about it as I’m single and it doesn’t seem likely that will change in the immediate future. My parents had me very late in life and I have always fervently not wanted that for myself. I had this fantasy I would be able to get married young (like before 26), then was hoping I’d be able to start when I was 30 or so, and I’ve readjusted my hopes a lot of times already. I’m a really private person so it’s not like I would be talking about this openly all the time anyway, but I sometimes almost wish that the immediate culture around me would be more excited about kids/marriage so that people would find it understandable that I worry and feel sad about it. It would be pretty weird to talk about this as almost all my peers who aren’t already married with or without having started to have kids, are really just focused on their careers. Almost nobody talks about family life goals as opposed to professional/personal/individual life goals.

            1. Kj*

              I think is normal to mourn the life you thought you’d have when it just doesn’t seem to be happening on a timetable as expected. It is also normal to have family goals and career goals and one does not negate the other. I wonder if you’d benefit from a few sessions with a therapist to discuss this and how you can move forward with your dreams while still acknowledging the loss of it not happening as expected. Your being a private person makes it hard to talk to family and friends about this stuff- it might be easier with a stranger and you might benefit from being validated.

              I fell into a relationship and, in time, to a marriage, in my late 20’s and have been surprised by how much I feel ‘out of the mainstream’ with some of my peers who are in a different head space. It can be hard no matter the way in which you feel different and I hope you find someone to validate you.

              1. Elizabeth H.*

                Thanks :) It’s a good idea to talk about it in therapy. I have a lot of career woes too of a similar nature, which, as I indicated is the culture around where I live, I DO feel a ton of peer/society/environment pressure about. So probably useful to think about.

            2. Happymammy*

              This was me. I’m a high achiever career wise but I used to almost cry whenever I saw babies and worried I’d never meet the right guy. I didn’t meet My husband til I was 30. You have a few years left in you yet!

              I had a definite back up plan – if I wasn’t in a relationship by a specific age I was gonna buy sperm and do it alone. I think that knowledge that I could do it alone helped me avoid becoming baby crazy psycho girl. Just having that in the back of my head lowered the stakes and helped me stop freaking out. Also I got fsh test so that helped me know where I stood fertility wise.

            3. CM*

              I bet if you did talk about it, at least a couple of your friends would confess that they have the same feelings. I’m in a similar community and I think we’ve swung too far the other way, where it feels taboo to admit you DO want a marriage and children and a house in the suburbs.

          11. tink*

            My partner and I laugh when people ask us about children, and then will go off into a tangent of the sort of things we got into as children and not wanting to inflict that on the school systems. Usually stops some of it.

      2. Epsilon Delta*

        Yeah the fact that you don’t have a strong desire to have kids sticks out to me as a reason not to do it. Kids are a lifestyle that has very little in common with a kid-free life.
        You are not going to have much time to yourself, you cannot be as spontaneous, and you have to constantly repeat yourself/assert yourself. You have to be a micromanager for the first 8-10 years so the kid survives until they can figure out what’s dangerous. And the cost… Childcare, toys, doctor appointments, clothes, replacing things they break, the list goes on.
        This has been my experience as someone who originally didn’t want kids. There are times I look forward to spending time with my stepkid, and there are times when I am so glad she’s at her other parent’s for the weekend. I would say it averages out to 50/50 good and bad.
        So, it’s good that you’re asking yourself this question. I think the next step is to look at what your life will look like with kids and decide if it’s a way you want to live.

        1. Zombeyonce*


          There are so many things affected by having a child that didn’t even occur to me before I had one. It’s amazing to watch her grow and learn, but my life is very different now in ways I couldn’t have anticipated.

    7. Jen RO*

      At 12 I knew I didn’t like kids, but I figured my biological clock would start ticking or something. My friends started having kids at some point, but I still didn’t want them. It might sound silly, but finding /r/childfree around age 27 made me realize that there are so many women who never had kids and are happy! I’m now 33 and my opinion hasn’t changed.

      I do sometimes think about the future, but I hope that elder care will improve in this country by the time I need it.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Or all of older, childless people will take good care of each other.

        What I am seeing now is that children move half a continent away from their parents. Which basically puts the aging parent on their own in life anyway.

        Fortunately, I am a firm believer that we should take good care of ourselves and participate in all our decisions with our eye on the future. Reality is that when a person is old and laying in that hospital bed, there is not a lot their offspring are going to be able to do for them. In some ways, the concept of having children to take care of you in your old age is an illusion and not real.

        1. Jen RO*

          Well, right here and now, there is a difference. Most pensions are laughably low, so if you don’t have a family, you are basically screwed. My grandma probably wouldn’t be able to support herself without my parents helping. State hospitals – while free – are overcrowded, dirty, and full of doctors/nurses who won’t look at you without a bribe. When I am old I want the “deluxe” experience – enough money to buy private insurance and/or pay out of pocket for a private hospital, and either a home aide or a nice retirement home. I don’t know if it’s the truth or not, but that’s how I imagine old people in Western Europe and the US living!

          Luckily, I earn nice money and I am starting to put some into savings. I just hope I will be well enough to spend it! (My childfree and rich aunt had dementia and my uncle died a few years before her, so a distant cousin had to take care of her in her last years.)

          That said, I think having kids just to ensure you’re taken care of in your old age is extremely selfish and the furthest thing from my mind.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Nursing homes in my area are now about 80-100k. The average stay is 6 years. This is on the heals of probably decades of living independently and spending down reserves. Very few people are going to be able to pay for that.

            I think people without kids can tend to be “lucky” in that they know upfront to build a plan.
            And yeah, agreed on using kids for elder care, it’s a bad, bad idea.

          2. WriterLady*

            My grandma married young-ish, had 5 kids, was loaded by the end (she and my grandpa were frugal. As a kid, I assumed they were poor; it wasn’t until later that I realised they had actually bought our home outright and given my parents a loan so they didn’t have the banks on their back. Once grandpa died, we all knew grandma would need more care – she wanted to go back to her hometown, hire a nurse, and live as independently as possible. We were nearby, plus my mum’s sister isn’t a huge drive away, so we assumed that would happen. Nope, the boys in the family (who, if grandma had died before grandpa, would have gotten all the money; my grandma divided it between the family) were horrified at grandma spending “their money” on her retirement, so they popped her in a cheap, nasty nursing home away from everyone, and it was horrible. Still expensive, but they could comfort themselves knowing there was still a large inheritance coming.

            Basically, kids are no guarantee you’re going to get looked after anyway.

    8. Lily Evans*

      Dear Sugar had my absolute favorite answer ever to this question here. I’m pretty sure someone on one of these threads recommended it once and it’s stuck with me ever since.

    9. JHS*

      I think there’s a conflation of issues here. I always knew I wanted a baby and so did my husband, but when to get pregnant was a question for us. It sounds like you aren’t sure if you want a baby at all, and if that’s the case, I echo the other commenters here. Having a kid is such a life change that it’s almost impossible to describe to someone who doesn’t have one. I say this with so much love in my heart for my baby and with NO regret and the intention of probably having another kid, but your life is effectively over as soon as that little bundle of joy arrives! If you don’t want kids, having one would be like torture every minute of every day. So I would first decide if you want kids or not and then worry about the when question. There is NOTHING wrong with not wanting kids, so don’t feel like you need to have them. To answer the original question though, I started wanting them pretty early on in my marriage, if that is helpful information.

      1. QA Lady*

        Yep. I adore my babies but having them has really opened my eyes and I think I find it easier now to understand why someone else may not want kids.

      2. Ermintrude Mulholland*

        I don’t think I would describe it as over! I am just temporarily not the priority (temporarily = whilst they are still small / under maybe…17?)

        1. Happymammy*

          Agreed life is definitely not over – the fun part is just beginning! There are really tough things about having kids but there are really rewarding things too. I once read an article that said the upsides and downsides of kids balance themselves out in terms of happiness for the parents. Ie on average people without kids are just as happy as people with kids and vice versa. But the article didn’t address the issue of people who didn’t want kids but ended up having them and people who did want kids and ended up not having them.

        2. JHS*

          It may depend a lot of things and to each his own, but my husband and I work a lot so all of our free time = baby time. We love it and like I said, we’re ready to do it all over again for another baby, but it’s all joy and no fun. We don’t see our friends. We don’t get to sleep in. We don’t go out. I barely get to eat hot food ever or go to the bathroom without someone watching me or wanting something from me. We don’t get to do really anything we want pretty much ever. So yeah, I’d say that our life as we knew it is over. Our life is now about our child’s life, but that’s okay. We’re down with it, but it would be a lie for me to say my life is still my own because it isn’t!

          1. Happymammy*

            We take it in turns to get up at the weekend so we each get one lie in /morning off to do whatever we like each week. One of the best decisions we made!

        3. Squeeble*

          I might describe it as not “over,” but completely and irrevocably different? (I say this as someone who’s not a parent, though.)

    10. Gaia*

      I can’t advise when to know when to have a baby because I have always known I didn’t want a baby. But I do think it should be an active decision. Having or not having a child shouldn’t be something you regret, whichever you choose. I know in my heart I’ll never regret not having a child but I would deeply regret having one. Because of this, I have made an active decision to ensure I do not get pregnant and I make this an early conversation in any relationship that leans towards anything more than a few fun dinners.

      Interestingly many people assume this means I don’t like babies or I hate children. Neither is further from the truth. I *adore* babies. If you bring a baby near me I will coo and oooh and aahh and pick the cute thing up and make faces at it and love it and love it and love it. I’ll run around with a kid with wild abandon and play with trucks and dolls and imaginary friends for hours. None of this means I want to be a mother. I would do the same thing with a baby lion cub. That doesn’t mean I want to raise a lion cub – it means I find them irresistibly adorable. Just as I am ill equipped to raise a lion cub, I am ill equipped to raise a human in that I have zero interest in doing so.

      1. Hrovitnir*

        Haha, it’s so bizarre how people assume that. I am pretty vocally horrified by the idea of being pregnant (personally) when it comes up, but it doesn’t mean I dislike children?? I’m not actually big on babies (they’re fine, but breakable, and not that interesting for a couple of years), but kids are pretty cool. And I’d be nice to them regardless, because they’re people and I’m not a jerk. :P

    11. chickabiddy*

      I was 30 and had always planned to have kids at some point, but the actual decision to stop preventing and start trying (which took a couple of years, so if you have a personal age cutoff in mind, you might want to take that into account) was when I had a pregnancy scare and realized that I was genuinely disappointed instead of relieved when I turned out not to be pregnant after all.

    12. Hrovitnir*

      Another person who doesn’t want kids replying: and I just turned 32! :D Luckily, I feel pretty strongly about it, so it’s not such an issue. I want to throw one onto the pile in favour of not necessarily deciding. You might change your mind – it’s not impossible to get pregnant later, adoption is a thing (though a fraught thing of course), and I sort of think that socially we should support more that regret can be both painful and totally liveable?

      We act like potential for you to regret your choices (eg: early sterilisation or forgoing pregnancy then struggling with fertility later) is overwhelmingly worse and more important than, say, forcing you to be fertile when you don’t want children – or even have debilitating health issues that would be fixed by a hysterectomy. I think it’s ridiculous, and we can have empathy for how incredibly painful it is for some people to regret their infertility without that meaning we need to protect people from themselves. Regret is part of life.

      I also advocate imagining various possible permutations of your future in 5, 10, 20 years with and without children, and see how they make you feel. You can’t see the future, but it can be a useful exercise. :)

      1. Ruffingit*

        “Regret can be both painful and totally liveable.” I LOVE THIS!! So much I can’t put words to it. Seriously, this is so profound and so true!

      2. Workaholic*

        I’m in the opposite boat. Always wanted husband and children. Hoped and dreamed from age 14 (and younger but that was different). In my late 30s i finally gave up the dream of children after every guy i dated either “been there done that, don’t want more” or “i don’t ever want kids”. And last year i gave up the dream of marriage. I can’t say how many years people of all ages, cultures and gender encouraged me to hurry up, get married, have kids. They are finally silent.

        1. Hrovitnir*

          :( I’m sorry to hear that. It makes me really sad because there are so many awesome people in that position, but the social take on it would paint you as somehow unworthy because you were unlucky or unwilling to settle.

          I feel really strongly that the best approach to relationships is to try and be happy in yourself, and take life as it comes (+/- whatever kind of dating or meeting people makes you the most comfortable), but that’s pretty cold comfort if you just… don’t meet anyone who you love and would be a good co-parent. I don’t say it when people are asking for advice but are really just venting, because that is approximately 0% helpful and like asking a total stranger “have you tried exercise??” when they have depression. -_-

          My friend had a baby by herself in her mid-30s because she decided she wanted kids and didn’t care that much about having a partner. She’s really happy. But she’s really close to her mother and has a lot of support, so that’s pretty lucky.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Regret is a part of life.

        I love this. Maybe it runs in families but my family is fond of saying, “You’ll be sorry later on.” And this can be used in conjunction with almost any type of decision.

        I don’t like this because:
        1) It feels like a threat. Please do not threaten younger me with my own emotions.
        Reality is that if I do X or Y it has no impact on you, and if it does that is because you are not living your own life. You are living MY life.

        2) It teaches nothing. Let’s go into this for a moment. Let’s say you are right. I will be loaded up with crippling regret. You are the adult. Why aren’t you showing me how to process regret in a healthy manner? Oh, it’s because you don’t know how.

        3) It’s fear based. Fear based decisions are usually short term solutions. Unfortunately, sometimes these fear based decisions have life long impacts. Telling me that I will regret this later on encourages fear-based decision making and in turn could impact the quality of the rest of my life. You could have been teaching me how to make decisions based on logic/foresight/planning. However, you chose not to.

        And we wonder why so many people in our society have anxiety/panic/depression. But we never stop to think about how our words and examples could be a contributing factor to their problems.

        1. Hrovitnir*

          I’m glad my comment resonated with people! I sometimes spend an inordinate amount of time ranting and perfecting arguments in my head I don’t have in real life – and if I do I fail to explain myself properly anyway, haha.

          Re: your comment specifically Not So NewReader – I agree so strongly. All of those points. It’s so unhealthy and unsupportive. What possible utility is there in making people you’re supposed to care about feel bad? This overwhelming messaging is certainly a contributor to people staying in abusive or otherwise unhappy relationships too.

    13. ThatGirl*

      I am nearly 36. When I was 16 I found out I was a carrier for a genetic disorder that my brother has, Fragile X Syndrome. As the years went by, knowing I had a 50/50 chance of passing that on to my kids was always in the back of my mind. After I got married, we realized that between the FXS, my husband’s mental illness and our general indifference it was probably a sign we weren’t meant to have kids. While I like other people’s kids, I never felt strongly about having my own. And I always thought kids should be something you really want.

    14. Anita Brayke*

      Like some here who have said they always knew, or knew from a certain age that they didn’t want kids, I always knew I wanted to have kids. I have two, and they’re great.

    15. NanaK*

      Sorry not to see this suggested: get a pet first. [not a fish or cat…something that demands regular feeding, walks, interaction.] How do you like this arrangement? We had a dog…XDH didn’t think it should be a problem if we got home later than expected, wondered about leaving it alone all weekend, etc. Then we had a baby (he wanted kids; I wasn’t enthusiastic). Same attitude: he didn’t want to rearrange his schedule or life. [I always thought he should have been royal: have the nanny bring in the baby for a few minutes every afternoon.] I ended up single-parenting.

      1. JHS*

        I understand where you’re coming from, but I think someone could misinterpret your comment to mean that you should get a dog on a whim or as a test. I don’t think you meant it that way, but I just want to clarify for others. Dogs are a 10+ year commitment so, like with having a kid, I wouldn’t encourage anyone to get one without knowing for sure that they really, really want one. Getting a pet on a whim is what leads to people to return dogs or to drop them at shelters. To get a dog as a test before having a baby is just not something that I would recommend for the well being of the dog or for the owner’s sanity (especially if that person really wanted a baby then gets a dog then has a baby and feels unable to care for both). A dog deserves a loving and welcoming home with people who want to love and care for the dog for its lifetime.

    16. That would be a good band name*

      We were also indifferent. Then I had a medical issue and hysterectomy was mentioned. I quickly went from indifferent to not having the option taken away. I do realize there are other ways to have children than to carry one myself, but it still felt like it was about to be taken from me at the time. Luckily, my husband was on the same page and my health issue ended up not being as serious as first suspected. So we had kids. And it was the right call for us. Maybe try to imagine how you’d feel if the option was off the table?

    17. RebeccaNoraBunch*

      I’m 34 and single, so it’s not really an option for me right now, but honestly I’m not sure I want my own children in the sense that I haven’t met anyone I knew I would be confident having children with…yet. Not sure if that makes sense, but basically I see having children as a huge decision and life responsibility and it won’t break my heart if I don’t have them. It makes dating interesting: guys ask if I want children, and I say I’m not sure – I want a strong partnership first, and if/when it’s the right time we will decide together. It genuinely seems to throw them for a loop every time – probably because most women my age really want children.

      Add into that some of my own health issues, the fact that I can never imagine being able to afford them, my middle-aged dog who is my first priority (yep, she’s my first baby, no shame in my game), and my, ahem, ever advancing age, and it may just not be in the cards for me and that’s fine. The older I get, the increased likelihood there is that I’ll meet a single dad, so I could be a step-parent just fine too.

      Then again, a guy in my office is having his first kid at my age and his wife is 40. They didn’t even meet until she was 37. Anything can happen!

      All that to say – I see parenting as a huge responsibility and it pretty much changes EVERYTHING from what I can tell. I also like the idea of thinking “if I look back in 5, 10, 20 years, what do I want to see?”

    18. Turanga Leela*

      Like other people in the thread, I always knew I wanted to have children eventually. I don’t really like thinking of myself as a mother (and hate the adjective “maternal”), and I don’t love kids/babies in general, but I was pretty sure that I wanted to experience being a parent and watch my kids grow up.

      My partner and I figured out the timing through a combination of biology and my realization one day that my mother was as old as MY grandmother had been when I was born. I adored my grandmother, and she got to see me grow up, graduate from college, and get married. I wanted my kids to have that much time with my mom, too.

      I have one toddler, and I cannot overstate how much being a parent has changed my life. Honestly, it destroyed my life: The life I had a few years ago is gone. My new life is pretty great, but it’s also entirely different. I have less time, less independence, and more stress. On the other hand, being a parent added a dimension to my life. There’s a huge aspect to my life now that wasn’t there before. This is the best way I have to describe it—it doesn’t mean that being a parent is better, just that it adds something wholly different.

      We’re talking about having a second child, and I can’t imagine what that would be like. I adore my kid, though, and I’m glad I decided to have him.

    19. Moosey*

      I made the decision intellectually rather than emotionally to have kids and I don’t regret it, even as I sit at home with mastitis after two nights of no sleep. Having kids is hard. It is a whole lifestyle change. You need social support and a real partner. (So many women I know found out their husbands weren’t willing to actually parent but instead wanted to sit on the sidelines, none of my friends in same sex couples had this issue) You do have to change your lifestyle to have a stable center so your kids have routine. It’s not easy, and if you don’t want it you should not do it.

      But, it is just one stage of life. I know so many people who have had second or third acts in life. Kids don’t have to end your freedom forever (assuming your children are healthy and capable of being independent, which is most of them but definitely not all! I don’t want to minimize that). And you can still do a lot when you have kids. They are easily adaptable to a lot of things- like travel? I have friends who have taken infants on world trips. Outdoors? We go camping with our kids and it’s lovely. It’s fun to introduce a small child to something that gives you joy and it’s often possible to add kids to your hobbies.

      I also thought about what a full life would be for me. To really experience all aspects of the human condition, and motherhood was on the list. Not as an entirely joyful experience, but as something to anchor me to humankind. And also, I love my family- my siblings are my favorite people. I wanted to add to family.

      But if I looked at what it would do for me and my life right now, it sucks. The day to day is hard, and if you are in the US there isn’t a lot of support built into society. Being pregnant was really hard on my body. Childbirth is difficult and scary. Babies are just emotional drains- you give and give and give. It is hard. If I just look at how hard it is, I totally understand why people would choose not to. But there is a whole picture that gets lost when you focus on that aspect.

    20. Stellaaaaa*

      It’s a hard thing to talk about without sounding like a version of “Oh, you’ll change your mind some day,” but I’ve always known I didn’t want kids with the caveat that I might very well change my mind if I found myself in the right relationship and life situation. Of course, it’s easier to have an opinion about these things when you’re single. A baby isn’t an option for me anyway right now so it’s easy to say that I don’t want one.

      That being said, I was surprised by how nuanced my feelings became as I crossed over into my 30s. After a certain point, time makes the decision for you. Given the health history of my family and my inability to pay for fertility treatments, the odds of me meeting the right man and having the opportunity to change my mind don’t exist in a realistic way. And this is all coming from someone who mostly definitely doesn’t want kids. If I can still have a twinge of regret about a path I missed out on, I can’t imagine how hard it is for someone who’s genuinely unsure.

  2. Ayla K*

    I alluded to this in another thread, I think, but I’m currently reading “It Gets Better” as my therapist recommended I check it out before I try coming out to my parents. Unfortunately, it’s actually making me feel worse because it’s full of essays saying things like, “oh, you’re a teenager and just figuring it out, but things will get better in college and in your twenties!”….and I’m 6 years out of college, almost 30 and only figuring things out NOW. So that’s kind of a bummer.

    Anyone else have stories about figuring out their sexuality in their twenties, thirties, or later?

    1. I Am Become the Internet, Destroyer of Time*

      That sucks. I hate it when advice books tell you to pretend it’s all rosy when you know it shouldn’t be. Props for having the cojones to actually buy a book though. This is the first time I’ve admitted my LGBTQ status in print, to anyone.

      I think I might be a bi male, mid-20s. I feel somewhat awkward about this, having previously thought of myself as straight. I’d go to an LGBTQ venue, but a) there aren’t any, b) even if there were I’m in a part of the US that seems to be relatively socially conservative, and c) I’ve been told to be cautious of other men who might try to take advantage of me if I’m openly starting out for the first time. So yeah, awkwardness abounds.

      The last point might be silly, since I’m 6’2″, 308 lb as of this morning, and have close-cut hair and a mean beard. But I’m naturally paranoid about a lot of things, and maybe here paranoids in my position do, in fact, have enemies.

      1. I Am Become the Internet, Destroyer of Time*

        I didn’t mean the “taking advantage” part to imply that all gay/bi men are predators. It’s more that I’ve heard “women have reason to keep their creep alarms on, and you should too if you’re into men as well.”

      2. Ayla K*

        Well I actually borrowed it from the library, but yeah close enough.

        Part of the problem is that it’s painting an overly rosy picture, but a lot of the issue I have is that the book is primarily aimed at teenagers, so I’m feeling bad that it’s taken me this long to figure it out. Which is silly, of course – many people take much longer! – but that’s how I feel right now.

        1. Biff*

          Years ago, when I encountered the entire “It Gets Better” project, several of us in my group of friends all reacted with a sort of sourness. We never outright snorted in derision, but we all alluded to the fact that we thought it was very urban-centric, very much the party line, and not really true for a good percentage of folks. That is, sometimes it doesn’t get better. What gets better is your ability to handle it, or your ability to accept whatever it is that seems bad right that moment.

          I wish I could write a followup called “Sometimes it doesn’t get better, but that’s okay” (and I’m here to tell you why!)

      3. chickabiddy*

        “This is the first time I’ve admitted my LGBTQ status in print, to anyone.”


      4. Hrovitnir*

        Aw, good for you for coming out here – hopefully it feels good, not bad.

        There’s nothing silly about feeling vulnerable, regardless of how substantiated that is. It’s a pity there aren’t any LGBTQ venues around you… have you looked at meetups or anything? There might be more casual/not-open meet ups where you can at least be out with like-minded people.

        My gender identity is not something I’m likely to ever be out about, but spending time with a bunch of awesome supportive trans people really helped me. I still feel weird and fake, but it gave me psychological backing to be more OK with being me in my head, because I am not willing to deal with any kind of social transition. It helped more than I expected, so I hope you can find some good people.

    2. Elisabeth*

      I think it’s all relative! The point of the It Gets Better rhetoric is that, to some extent, when you feel more comfortable within your own skin and have faced your identity head on, things fall into place more easily. You have access to a support group, you can learn to actively voice your needs, and you can adopt all the cats in the world. I came out to my parents when I was 14 and they reacted badly, and my gf who is 22 is just struggling with WANTING to come out to her family, but doesn’t know how, A’s I don’t know how to support her :/

      1. Ayla K*

        Sure, I can definitely see that perspective. I think my main hangup is that I’m still a little financially dependent on my parents (they pay my car insurance bc I cannot afford it right now) and I just don’t know how they’ll react. My best case scenario at this point is apathy, because I cannot imagine them being warmly accepting.

        Best of luck to your gf!

    3. all aboard the anon train*

      Is your therapist straight, by any chance? I find a lot of straight people have genuinely good intentions, but sometimes point to queer resources that aren’t always helpful (the fact that IGB is founded by Dan Savage who is….not the best advocate for queer rights is also not great).

      I’m of two minds on “It Gets Better”. It’s a great idea in theory and it’s a wonderful resource for the people it has helped, but on the other hand a lot of the stories and advice aren’t helpful and can sound condescending. Sometimes it doesn’t get better. When it was super popular and mainstream, it felt like just another trend people participated in because it was “the thing to do”.

      If you’re not finding it helpful – like I didn’t (it kind of depressed me to have a bunch of straight people telling me it would get better because this was the popular trend at the time) – I suggest looking up LGBTQA+ groups where you live. I found those so much more helpful since they’re full of people who had bad and good experiences, who figured out their sexuality at various ages, and who have different life experiences. Depending where you live, they might have groups specifically for your sexuality (my city, for instance, has a large range of groups – some for bi or poly or ace, some for WOC or POC, non-Christian religions, etc.). If you don’t have any, I suggest looking online. Social media is a great way to find people who have similar experiences and who can guide and help you.

      Aside from that, have you told anyone else? I told a friend before I told anyone else and it was such a huge weight off my shoulders. Also a great moment because when I came out as bi, my friend came out as a lesbian for the first time, so it was a moment of relief for both of us. Sometimes just telling one person can help prepare you to tell others.

      I didn’t really figure out I was bi until my mid-twenties. Now at 30, I’m still trying to figure out if I’m really bi or more biromantic demi. For some people, sexuality will never be easy to figure out because it can be a fluid thing. My bisexual realization was probably something I’d suppressed for a long time because there’s still this erasure of bisexuality in het and queer spaces, so it was a long time before I realize it was actually a real sexuality. It was something I struggled with on my own for awhile, but going to bisexual groups was super helpful and talking to other bisexuals (specifically older ones or ones who also figured out their bisexuality later in life) was also really helpful because it made me realize I wasn’t alone in my experience.

      I hope this helps, and good luck.

      1. Ayla K*

        She is, yeah. And you’re right – I think she means well, but doesn’t have the same deep knowledge of queer lit that’s actually helpful, vs. what’s more well-known and “mainstream.” And while there are some good essays from queer youth and celebs alike, the essays from straight people are SUPER pandering and make me feel icky.

        I’ve come out to pretty much everyone but my parents (because I’m scared) and my work colleagues (because, frankly, it’s none of their business until I start dating someone.) Friends and other family are all very supportive, and I’m lucky enough to know a TON of bi/queer people I can reach out to.

        I also identify strongly with biromantic and it always helps to hear from someone else in the same boat. Thank you for sharing!

        1. all aboard the anon train*

          It took me a long time to come out to my parents. I only did in the last year and they were more open about it than I thought. Partially, I think, because I had made so many comments about LGBTQA+ rights over the years and I hinted around enough to gauge their feelings about it that they had enough time to figure it out and deal with it in their own time. My parents were never outright homophobic, but it was more homophobia along the lines of “I’m not homophobic, but I don’t want to share a locker room with a gay person in case they look at me” while I was growing up.

          Long story short, my coming out was a long drawn out process. If it makes you feel any better, I had a harder time actually going on my first date with another woman than I ever did with a man. That was a big hurdle for me because of the internalized issues I had from my childhood (and while I didn’t figure out my sexuality until my mid-twenties, it wasn’t until my late twenties that I realized I had some internalized issues ever since high school about the idea of bisexuality).

          If you’re looking more resources, the Bisexual Resource Center has some great stuff on their website. I’m lucky enough that they’re based in my city so I can go to their events, but all their online stuff and the magazine they have are really wonderful. They’re super great about replying to emails and answering questions.

    4. Bananistan*

      I sort of started figuring out I was bi(?) as a junior in college. I came out to my parents quickly, but they are very liberal. Now I’m in my mid-twenties and I feel like I’m still figuring out what I am and who to come out to and what to come out as.

      The main thing I’ve found is that there are lots of LGBTQ resources out there, and some will work for you and some won’t. It’s great to learn about other people’s experiences, but it really doesn’t serve you to focus on things that you can’t relate to. If you don’t like that book, stop reading it! There are tons of other books out there. I just read Hannah Hart’s Buffering and really liked it and found it helpful, even though her life has been very different from mine.

      Good luck!

    5. PepperVL*

      I only realized I was am aromantic asexual when I was in my easy 30s. Before that I thought I was straight or maybe bi, but neither felt quite right. Then I learned about asexual and aromantic and it was like a lightbulb went off.

      So you’re secondarily not alone in realizing your sexuality later in life. People realize it at all ages, as they get to know themselves and as they learn new vocabulary.

      1. Ace*

        Same here, I thought I was straight then maybe that I was a lesbian. Still not certain in my 30s if I’m homoromantic or aromantic.

          1. chickabiddy*

            I am in my 40s. I enjoy sex when I have it, and if a potential sex partner/FWB happened to present himself I would probably think that would be a pleasant addition to my life. But I have been single for a year and a half and have absolutely no interest in putting forward any effort to seek out romance or sex. I learned recently that actually meets the definition of asexual, and that sort of surprised me.

            1. all aboard the anon train*

              This is why I’m kind of waffling on the idea of demisexuality. I love sex when I have it and I do like the companionship and emotional/physical intimacy of being in a relationship, but I’m pretty apathetic about looking for one and can and have gone years without one.

              I know demisexual or something on the ace spectrum probably fits me better than bi, but the label doesn’t feel quite right for me. But I tend to think people should label themselves however they want, regardless of what the LGBTQA+ community says (I mean, the definition of bisexual has different meaning in the community). Defining and labeling sexual identities is a relatively modern concept, so learning about them or figuring out what something means is going to be a constantly changing discovery.

              1. chickabiddy*

                I feel as if “demi” doesn’t quite fit either — I think things just work better if there is at least a bit of affection and acknowledgement of each other as human beings, but I certainly don’t need to be in love to enjoy myself. I’m not terribly femme in the traditional sense but I am definitely cis, and bi/gay do not fit at all. In some ways I find it odd to be questioning in my middle age since for 25 years I was just a boring old married lady, but in other ways I’m glad there weren’t so many different labels (or more likely I was just privileged and ignorant) when I was growing up.

                1. PepperVL*

                  Demi doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be in love to experience sexual attraction, it means you have to have a connection with the person. It could be platonic.

                  It’s also about sexual attraction, not necessarily if you’re willing to have sex with the person. There are asexual people who enjoy sex, they just don’t experience sexual attraction. They have sex to make a partner happy or to have a child or for whatever reason. Heck, there are asexual people with a sex drive, which has got to be the weirdest thing ever. (“I’m not sexually attracted to you, but I want to have sex, and you’re convenient and not objectionable, so let’s go for it.”)

              2. PepperVL*

                It’s possible that a split-attraction model would work best for you. Romantic attraction and sexual attraction aren’t the same thing. It could be that you’re drawn to demisexual because it does fit for your relationship with sexual attraction, but your romantic attraction is closer to biromantic. That would mean you experience romantic attraction to people of your gender and of another gender but you only experience sexual attraction once you’ve formed a relationship with the person. Basically, you would never experience sexual attraction for someone you just saw across the room, but you might experience the desire to get to know them romantically. And then once you got to know them you might experience sexual attraction.

                1. all aboard the anon train*

                  I know they’re not the same thing.

                  I do experience sexual attraction for random people without knowing them. I enjoy one night stands or quick flings because it sates any sexual desire I have at the time. I have sexual attraction for really attractive person I don’t know.

                  It’s just not a constant thing, hence why I don’t feel the term 100% applies to me. But I don’t really like trying to define sexual identities like this, which is probably why I don’t feel entirely comfortable with using the term for myself.

            2. PepperVL*

              Asexual people can enjoy sex. Being Ace or not depends on if you experience sexual attraction. (Apparently, when allosexual people say that they want to have sex with someone they don’t just mean that it would likely be a pleasant experience that they wouldn’t object to, they actively desire to have sex with that person. Which boggles my mind.)

              So if you enjoy sex but don’t experience sexual attraction, you’re asexual. (And same with romance.) If you enjoy sex but don’t experience sexual attraction until you’ve formed a deep bond with someone, you’re demisexual. (Which is on the asexual spectrum.)

              So, yup, you probably are some variety of acexual (and possibly aromantic). Welcome to the club!

    6. TL -*

      Do you know any older LGBT people – like, 60s or older? I know a few and they all figured it out/acted on it mid-20s or later, often after having kids and a failed marriage to boot. They probably had different experiences than you will but the people I know ended up in stable relationships (or endlessly playing the field because they like it) and are, I think, happy stories at the end.

    7. Queer is specific enough*

      It Gets Better, like many things, is good but problematic re: Dan Savage. More to the point in your case, it was specifically created to reduce teen suicide, so quite reasonable you aren’t identifying with it. I don’t have any specific suggestions for alternatives, unfortunately.

      I didn’t figure out I was queer until I was 21, and wasn’t out in all aspects of my life until well into my 30s. My wife didn’t admit her sexuality until her 30s and is still only out in limited segments of her life in her 50s.

      I’ll also +1 to sexuality is fluid. Don’t worry much about picking a label. I mention my wife and let folks draws their own conclusions. I prefer to call myself a dyke, but that doesn’t fly in mixed company. I’m not comfortable with lesbian, though it is convenient.

      But if I’m being honest, I don’t know who I would be interested in if something happened to my wife. Hopefully I’ll never have to face that question.

    8. EdTech*

      *waves* I’m in my early 30s and yeah. It took me awhile to figure out what exactly I am and yeah “It Gets Better” is really for teenagers and still… I’m hesitant on it. It’s not all rosy as my parents keep thinking I’m straight and not-trans despite my telling them repeatedly (they’re liberal, but yeah). I understand the whole parents thing since once I’m fully independent I’m planning on being more open and expressive about to my family (as in volunteering for LGBTQ+ groups).

      There’s a lot of stories I think out there as I remember watching Netflix documentaries about the subject that I can’t remember, but I’m just offering support as someone who really figured it out after college and high school.

    9. Ace*

      I was in my 20s when I realized I was asexual. For the longest time I thought I was straight as it was the default option. When I realized I wasn’t attracted to men, I thought I must be a lesbian even though I wasn’t attracted to women. Only later did I realize that aseuxality was an option and found a label that fit me.

      You personally may find it helpful to change the way you’re thinking about your identity. Instead of thinking “I’ve finally figured it out!” you could try to think of it as part of a continual process of knowing yourself since people change over time.

      From an article I recently read:

      Dr Lisa Diamond, associate professor of psychology and gender studies at the University of Utah, has been following a group of 79 women for 15 years, tracking the shifts in their sexual identity. The women she chose at the start of the study had all experienced some same-sex attraction – although in some cases only fleetingly – and every two years or so she has recorded how they describe themselves: straight, lesbian, bisexual, or another category of their own choosing. In every two-year wave, 20-30% of the sample have changed their identity label, and over the course of the study, about 70% have changed how they described themselves at their initial interview. What’s interesting, says Diamond, is that transitions in sexual identity aren’t “confined to adolescence. People appear equally likely to undergo these sorts of transitions in middle adulthood and late adulthood.”

      Source: Why it’s never too late to be a lesbian

    10. Charlie Q*

      I got a handle on my sexuality at 17 (although it still changes and fluctuates), but I’m currently going through a similar thing with gender, an “oh lord I might be nonbinary” thing. A lot of rhetoric around gender/sexuality is all about “knowing since you were little” or “always being different” but I was perfectly comfortable and happy as a woman for the first 22 years of my life. I’m 23 and only starting to dig into this gender thing, and I do sometimes feel like I should *just know* already. I don’t have a lot of advice on that front, just love and solidarity.

      As for bi resources, I really love Robyn Ochs. She’s a bi activist who coined my fave definition of bisexuality: “I call myself bisexual because I acknowledge that I have in myself the potential to be attracted – romantically and/or sexually – to people of more than one sex and/or gender, not necessarily at the same time, not necessarily in the same way, and not necessarily to the same degree.” She has some books, and she runs a publication called Bi Women Quarterly that’s real nice.

    11. Ayla K*

      Thank you all for the comments, feedback, support, and resources!! This is all incredibly helpful and validating and I appreciate you all so much. I’m going to keep learning and exploring and seeking out diverse communities. Stay lovely, everyone!

    12. Dang*

      Hi! Congratulations on taking the big steps.

      When I started coming out, or at least thinking about it, my therapist recommended looking up coming out stories. I spend hours poring over them. And when I ultimately came out at 22, I felt like I was “behind.” 10 years later I realize that I was. With anything in life, some people figure out their paths earlier, some take detours. There’s no right or wrong way or time to come out. My local gay center has coming out groups, some specifically for people who have been in hetero relationships or by age group. Maybe yours has something similar?

      Also try meetup! I found a great gay book club that way and it really helps to have gay friendships. I’ve been out for 10 years but that’s been tough for me to find. I wish I’d started sooner.

    13. General Ginger*

      I’m pretty late to the party, but in case you’re still checking comments: I’m 35 now. I finally — maybe not realized, but admitted to myself — that I’m trans, at 34. When I look back, with my much more self-aware hindsight lens, I am able to point to aspects of my younger life and say, hey, this was dysphoria, this was me questioning, this was not just a rough patch, this was not just a bad breakup, etc — but at the times, I made myself come to every other conclusion rather than the one that is painfully obvious to me now.

      I’ve found that I usually have the same reaction to a lot of the common help texts, the ‘argh, would be nice to have been reading this at 16, can’t relate’. However, Reddit and Youtube have both been invaluable resources for me. I’m not sure about resources specifically having to do with sexuality, but I follow a plethora of trans* Youtubers, of various ages. After being bombarded with that narrative of “I always knew, my body was always wrong” and feeling like there was something wrong with me for not fitting it, it was incredibly refreshing to see folks transitioning in their 20s, 30s, 50s, even. The experiences of the people in their 50s are particularly encouraging and relatable — I am obviously younger, but their lives are probably more similar to mine than the 20s crowd. And there’s just something so great about seeing a guy in his 50s is gushing about finding immense joy in his second puberty. There’s a subReddit for transitioning at 30+, there’s links upon links of crowd-sourced helpful materials — I have to imagine that similar resources can be found for ‘figuring out sexuality at ~30’.

      Another resource that’s been absolutely life-changing — a local support group. Online support is great, but interacting with people of dramatically varying ages (teens to retirees), in person, who understand and relate to my experiences and vice versa, made everything so much more comfortably real for me. The group I attend is specifically for trans*/gender-questioning folks, but there are other LGBTQ groups in my area, which was actually a very pleasant surprise, I didn’t expect any when I first went looking. I found a fantastic local therapist through the group, as well.

      Good luck. I hope you find the support system and resources that work for you!

  3. Yes, my toddler goes down the slide by herself*

    My sister-in-law and I don’t exactly get along.

    She has very definite rules about life and how it should be lived. A certain type of school for the kids, a certain type of acceptable playground, a certain type of career trajectory, certain kinds of vacations, a certain kind of house, etc. As a result, she lives in the same house, has the same job, kids are in the same school they always have been… for ten plus years (five for the schools)

    It is not a bad life, and she enjoys it. What she enjoys less is that I don’t fit into that mould, and my husband and I aren’t raising our daughter in that mould. We’re hardly Captain Fantastic (heck, we have a Costco membership!) but even just typing out the above makes me feel more than slightly claustrophobic.

    We used to be able to just carry on as I suspect most families do. She does her thing, we do ours, she clucks disapprovingly when we see each other at family events, and things chug along.

    Except that her kids are now starting to get to what she calls “an impressionable age” and she is rethinking whether or how she wants the cousins (our kids) to spend time together.

    Again, it’s not like my kid is into drugs or anything (she’s three!). Heck, the closest we get to illicit substances is my husband’s shot of whiskey on the rocks every Saturday night.

    If this “split” were caused by something egregious in the family, I’d walk away saying “family is important, but it doesn’t override abuse, etc” and be done with it. This just seems like a dumb set of things to split the family apart over. On the other hand, I have no intention of changing our lives to suit my SIL’s self-imposed rules.

    1. Athena X*

      I have 3 kids, all currently teenagers, so I have seen this play out a few times.

      The mommy wars/parenting wars/ back and white rules don’t amount to a hill of beans, ultimately. There are no guarantees on how certain standards play out. As teenagers, no one can tell (and no one ever discusses) which 8 year olds ate Cheetos and which kids ate GMO-free organic fruit snacks; who had a regular bedtime at age 5 and who went to bed when their mom did; or whether those violin lessons at age 8 really helped little Wakeen develop his math skills. All of those decision points end up being not so important – which it sounds like you know, and your SIL does not yet.

      You sound like an awesome parent. Keep your boundaries. Be pleasant and kind to her but don’t change to suit her. If she chooses to walk away because you let your child use the playground in its intended manner, you can’t argue with crazy. She will never be happy with you anyway unless you become her apostle. Hopefully whatever relative of yours she is attached to (brother/husband) is more level-headed. Try to work through him.

    2. Aurora Leigh*

      No real advice, but I’m sorry you’re dealing with this.

      I have cousins that I have only seen at funerals (we’re all adults now). I don’t what exactly caused the family split, because I was pretty young, but I think it was probably equally as petty as the situation you describe.

      FWIW, visits to the grandparents were worked out so that we got Christmas Day, they got Christmas Eve. One set got Easter, the other Thanksgiving, etc.

    3. SophieChotek*

      Sorry you are dealing with this. I agree — you shouldn’t have to change your lives to suit your SIL’s rules. You should very level-headed and reasonable; it’s a pain to take the high-road sometimes, but if you continue to be kind and polite, and strive for civility…

      If you don’t see each other that much except for family gatherings? I mean…is she threatening to not come to family gatherings, in the name of “protecting” her children? Are you concerned that this would lead to a split and your in-laws would take her side?

    4. EA*

      This sounds like basic my way or the highway type stuff. It’s all harmless lifestyle stuff right? My mother is like this- there is no way to convince her that not eating protein with every meal won’t do harm. If she really thinks your children are doing hers harm, I don’t think you can do much to change her mind.

    5. Temperance*

      Is she your husband’s sister, or is she on your side?

      I’m childless, but made the decision a long time ago that extended family won’t get one-on-one time with our kids because they can’t be trusted to follow our wishes. I am kind of like your SIL in that I have definite ideas about what I want my life to look like, but it’s because I grew up poor. However, I don’t think that people who live differently are dangerous, unless they want to put weird ideas in my kid’s head.

    6. Former Retail Manager*

      Maybe a slightly different take….family (blood family that is) is overrated. Realistically, if these are her views, she’s going to raise her kids with those same views so, even if you succeed in finding some way for the cousins to spend time together, your kid will be spending time with little mini a-holes (I’m assuming anyway based on your description)

      If you don’t feel that blood relatives are overrated, then I’d talk to her one-on-one and tell her that it’s very important to you that the cousins maintain a relationship in the years to come and ask her if she’d be willing to put her beliefs to the side (at least in front of the children) and join you in fostering those relationships. At the end of the day, the kids may be best of friends despite the different upbringings or may end up not being able to stand each other, despite your best efforts.

      I personally lived (and still do) 5 minutes away from my only cousin my entire life. We are 9 months apart in age and hung out briefly when we were 11-12. We then became teenagers, grew apart, and I haven’t currently seen her in about 10 years. My life is no emptier for it.

        1. Allypopx*

          +1 to the “family being overrated/life not necessarily emptier without it” parts, to clarify. I definitely agree with TL and Temperance about kids not necessarily being like their parents. Though it happens, and may be more likely to happen if the mother has this kind of isolationist philosophy.

      1. TL -*

        My cousin’s mother is one of the most awful people and worst parents I’ve ever met and my cousin is a sweet, down-to-earth, lovely person who is also an excellent mother. It is *entirely* unfair to say the kids will be little a-holes because the SIL is being overly dramatic about parenting choices of her 3 yr old (and probably, SIL will relax over time because there will be bigger things to worry about.)

        It is not the end of the world if you decide to back off on the relationship, but I’m in the “be cordial, do your best, and don’t worry about her decisions” camp. Some of my cousins I’m not close to at all and don’t miss, but the cousins I am close to are really important people in my life and I’m glad I have them.

        1. Former Retail Manager*

          I see your point and I agree that kids can be different from their parents, but generally speaking, most people tend to adopt the beliefs and attitudes of their parents for at least some period of time, especially while they live with them or are too young to know any better. Hopefully the kids won’t be like SIL, but in my experience it’s more likely that they will than won’t.

          1. TL -*

            Eh, kids generally behave as they are expected to. If they’re in an environment outside of their parents and they know the expectations for them, they’re often quite different than they are around their parents.

      2. Temperance*

        FWIW, my mother is kind of a nightmare human. She’s a mean person and has a personality disorder. I like to think that I’m not like her. I know as a kid that I parroted her behavior because I thought it was normal, but I’m over it now.

        1. Former Retail Manager*

          I think that’s the case with a lot of kids. Until you get out and experience life more, you think that your small, insular world is how things are supposed to be/how you are supposed to act/treat other people/deal with conflict/etc. You do what you know until you know better.

        2. RebeccaNoraBunch*

          Temperance, thank you for sharing this…you may have shared this before but I don’t always get to read all the comments on AAM. I’m really interested in your story. I have a very good friend who is currently going through a divorce from a woman with a personality disorder (she was emotionally abusing him) and he’s very worried about his 19-month-old daughter. He worries that someday he will have to get full custody or that his ex will abuse his daughter and that it’ll be really damaging for her. Would you mind sharing a little more of how you came to realize your mother had a personality disorder? (If not that’s fine too; I just thought I’d ask since you mentioned it.)

          Also – I just realized I never said this – I’m so sorry you had to go through that with your mother. From the comments I’ve read here, you sound awesome and I really appreciate you sharing as much as you have. :)

          1. Temperance*

            Rebecca, you are so kind! I tend to be open about it because I hope it makes other people feel less sad or ashamed.

            I’ll be honest, as a child, I thought that there was something wrong with *me* because I must have been terrible to have a mother who would scream and yell and give me the silent treatment. In high school, a friend of mine told me that my mother was the “b word” and she felt sorry for me, and that’s when things started to click, but it didn’t hit me until college that she was really mentally ill. In high school, she would occasionally stay up all night, and wake me up at 4 to tell me that my dad was cheating because she followed him around all night. (He was at work, not cheating.) I just didn’t get that anything was wrong because the other adults in my life kind of covered for her.

            She had other issues, too. I’ll never forget her going on and on about the possibility of my neighborhood having a gas leak because they were doing some kind of upgrades to our public sewer system. She would tell us that if they nicked a gas line, we’d have to be evacuated and if we were asleep, we might all die. I was 8 or 9, and I did what any terrified child would do, I packed a go bag in case we had to leave in the middle of the night. I remember her reaming me out for that one, because it was Not Reasonable and I was Scaring My Sister.

            He should be way more worried about his ex abusing their daughter. My recommendation would be for him to seek primary or full custody now, before ex can do any damage, but I understand that a court may not agree absent a dossier detailing all her issues.

            You can definitely ask me more questions, if you like. I’m happy to respond.

      3. Colette*

        Family relationships can be incredibly powerful. They don’t replace outside friendships, but they can provide consistency through time that doesn’t often happen with friendships. Obviously, this isn’t always possible, and if this were an abusive or otherwise harmful relationship I would agree that cutting ties would make sense, but it would be sad if children were denied relationships with their cousins over “incorrect” vacations or the wrong schools.

        I have 47 first cousins. Some of them have children older than me. Some I wouldn’t recognize if I ran into them on the street. Some I see regularity; some I only see at funerals. But it’s incredibly powerful to know that if I’m stranded at the airport, I can call and someone will find a place for me to stay, or that when I make family funerals people are glad to see me, or that in general I have dozens of people who wish me well. I can talk to people whose dad told the same stories my dad told, or see traces of my dad in his brother, or see pictures of my grandmother’s old furniture on facebook. I wouldn’t throw that away over playing at the wrong playground,

      4. LCL*

        Your experience is yours, and I get that some relatives are toxic. But one of the greatest regrets of my life is that both of my parents were mostly estranged from their relatives, so I have only met the relatives a few times. Too late now to build a relationship with my cousins, I would’n’t know how to start. I’m sure some are jerks, but I wish I could have helped the one who died-drugs or suicide or maybe both, I’ll never know.

        Don’t change your family to fit her rules, but don’t write them off either. Most people I know with kids try to stay in the same home and school, and only change if life forces them to via loss of a job, etc.

    7. Mike C.*

      If you don’t feel like getting into it I totally understand, but what do you mean by “a certain type of X”? It sounds like there might be some class differences here that really make your sister-in-law sound really gross.

      But yeah, that whole “impressionable age” stuff is absolute crap. What is she afraid that her kids will be exposed to? Video games? Non-organic food? People outside of her socio-economic circle? Ugh.

    8. Margaret*

      What are the lifestyle choices she’s concerned about? I guess it might depend on what those are and how often you see each other, but when I was a kid my cousins had different rules (ours more strict than theirs), and it didn’t me make think that certain things were ok, if anything it just made me naively judgment of their family! (I can’t remember exactly how old I was, but I remember their parents putting on a movie that included nudity, I was thought something like “I can’t believe their parents let them watch this! we couldn’t if we were at home, and that’s obviously the right thing, to not watch this.”) We only saw them for holidays and occasional other visits (maybe 4 or 5 times a year for a long weekend), but it definitely didn’t corrupt me.

      1. Temperance*

        Ha! My mother was the strict parent, and I remember having the opposite opinion, that our family was obviously way too strict because everyone else got to do X, Y, or Z.

      2. PollyQ*

        Yeah, based on the post, I’m sort of baffled by SIL’s attitude. She thinks her kids shouldn’t be around their cousin because… they move too much? They’ve gone to different schools? I really feel like I’m missing something here.

      3. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I was raised by my grandparents, and our household habit was that meals were served at specific times and at the dinner table. We ate what was served and we weren’t allowed to snack without asking permission first. Usually if we asked, the answer was ‘yes’, unless it was too close to mealtime, but we had to ask. My grandma thought it was just terrible that my cousins were allowed to “grab and snatch” food anytime they wanted to without first asking permission.

        1. Former Retail Manager*

          OMG! As a child, I had a couple of friends like this where it was a very formal thing to ask for and obtain permission to get a snack. I HATED it and never went to those kids houses very many times. It always made me feel “less than”/patronized to have to obtain adult permission and sort of justify that I was hungry and wanted a quick snack.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            I can see that. If we had friends over, it was kind of a “holiday” atmosphere, and the snacks flowed freely. Having to ask was just for everyday, just-us purposes.

    9. blackcat*

      Ugh, I’m sorry. Don’t change your life.

      I have a huge family with tons of different strong opinions about parenting (including strong religious differences), and we were always able to learn what was allowed at which house. Now that many of us cousins are adults, we have close friendships across political, religious, and lifestyle differences.

      All her kids are going to learn from this is how to be intolerant of people with different life styles. That sucks, but that’s not your problem.

    10. Sled dog mama*

      Hubby ‘s brother and wife are very much like this, things must be a certain way and no other way, never mind that her children are the screaming causing havoc can’t sit still at the dinner table ones (at 10 and 9) because “they are just kids” and my 3 year old says please and thank you, eats what you put in front of her and clears her own plate from the table. When I have to see them (because his parents want us all together at their house) I remind myself it’s them, not me and they can be as judgmental as they want because I live my life in a way that makes me happy and their judgement doesn’t change that.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      I hope you know that you have it goin’ on, you’re getting it. SIL is going to have a bit harder time than you.

      My wise friend used to say people who cling to rules (I do mean “cling for dear life”), or people who are rigid in their thinking do so because they fear everything around them. They believe that they are surrounded by chaos and everything can fall apart in the next minute.

      Now, your SIL might not be this extreme, but I see enough here that would cause me to wonder what kind of fears your SIL is carrying. A person loaded up with fear has a lot and yet has nothing at the same time. Their fear of losing all that they have consumes their thinking and they never enjoy what they have. It’s as if they have nothing.

      These thoughts are important to keep in mind as you go through this. If you let it, her logic and rules will drive you batsh!t crazy. She gets over the top maybe at some point you can say, “why are you afraid all the time?”

      Until that moment comes, remember that every generation pushes back against its elders. I think that pushing back is almost necessary to launch our lives as independent adults. At some point the kids may push back against your SIL and they may circle back to finding your kids and you. (I know I went and found all my lost elders.)

      For the time being you can say things such as “I want my kids exposed to a wide variety of people, so they can learn how people use different approaches to life.” Try to hold the door open as long as you can. When it no longer makes sense to hold it open, let it close but don’t lock it. In 20 years this story could look way different.

    12. Sydney Bristow*

      I was one of the kids in this situation. My mother and her brother’s wife did not get along so even though we were all part of one big, close family for events we were kept apart on a day-to-day basis. My cousin and I are 3 months apart. We went to the same elementary and middle school together but our parents requested that we were never in the same classes. I don’t know what specifically our moms disagreed about, I just know that we weren’t close because we never got the chance to be.

      College comes around and my cousin decides to transfer to the university I’m at for our sophomore year. I offered to show her around and we come to discover exactly how similar we are. I’m talking pizza toppings, a specific tattoo we both wanted to get, etc. We became best friends and I’m now as close with her as I am with my sisters.

      All this to say, it sucks that your SIL is potentially going to stop allowing your kids to spend time together. It is entirely possible when your kids are old enough to make their own decisions though that they will become close.

    13. Buu*

      Strikes me as a power play she hasn’t quietly pulled back from interactions she’s telling you this, so presumably she’s getting something out of it. I’d just feign indifference and either walk away or change the subject e.g
      SIL: I’m not sure I want our children spending time together.
      You: Oh ok, well I need to go to the toilet now/ need to catch the train home/ need to feed the cat

      and then just repeat…if she forces a confrontation either walk away or politely say
      ” To be honest that’s not a very nice thing to say to someone.”

      Then disengage.

    14. Pat Benetardis*

      Your SIL is being ridiculous. If I were you, I’d turn her judgey attitude back on her. “How do you keep your kids from talking to kids at school who are allowed to eat Cheetos or watch tv.” “Do you really intend to teach your kids to not treat others with kindness, even you don’t approve of their choices?” “How will the kids learn to respect people who are/behave/feel differently?” “How will the kids learn to make choices if they are so restricted/isolated, etc?”

      I would not avoid her, because I am very confident in my own choices. But I would not know-tow to her preferences, etc. when kids are teens (like mine are now), you have very little control about what happens when you’re not looking.

      Also, because we had a few people in our lives like this, I taught my kids to say, to both adults and their kids things like “why do you say that?” And in response to the Yoo-hoo/Gatorade incident of 2011, I was so proud that one if my kids said to her peer something along the lines of “I don’t drink this every day. I’m happy my mom lets me choose and sometimes I get things as a treat. Other times I drink water. If you don’t like what I chose, you should keep it to yourself, or you’re being mean. I think you’re jealous.”

      Net/net – I would not avoid gatherings because the other person will be there. Let her learn to avoid you. Do not change how you parent because of her. And vocalize howoffended you are if she dares to critique.

    15. CM*

      This sucks, but if you’ve already tried talking to your SIL I don’t think you can do much else, other than trying to gently explain the situation to your kids without badmouthing anybody. When the kids are older, they may be able to develop their own relationships with their cousins.

  4. 3 year reader*

    Trying to move forward after my mom passed suddenly. She was my only parent, my father has not been in my life since I was 12. Trying to focus on the positives but it is hard with the political news. I don’t have kids yet and I am most sad that they will never get to experience her as a grandma. Thank you Alison for this blog. It’s been a comfort to me.

    1. Another Lauren*

      I’m so, so sorry for the loss of your mom. I know it doesn’t help a ton, but sending you virtual hugs and sympathy.

    2. I Am Become the Internet, Destroyer of Time*

      I’m so sorry. I’ve lost my parents recently. I think it took me 6 months until the really bad depression went away. I know of one person who still thinks about and misses his every day, years after.

      1. KS girl at heart*

        I am very sorry for your loss.
        I lost both parents within 2.5 years of each other and both were sudden unexpected deaths. I will say that I don’t remember much about the first year after each died. My dad died first, so my Mom was there which helped. My Mom dying was on a whole other level. It’s been 3 years and this was the first time the holidays didn’t send me into a deep depression. It doesn’t get better but you learn how to live with the loss. My 2 cents is to take all the time you need to grieve. And find a counselor if you need to. That helped me a lot. My son remembers my mom but my daughter does not. As hard as it is I tell my kids about them all the time and we look at pictures when they want to.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I am sorry for your loss.
      I hope you turn off the news to allow yourself time to grieve. The news will still be there when you come back. But your investment in taking care of you now will last you the rest of your life.

    4. Jules the First*

      We had a whole passel of grandparents growing up, both biological and not. My dad’s parents both remarried before I was born, and the grandmother I’m closest to remains the one who isn’t biologically related. My parents also worked hard to make sure we had a collection of grandparent-figures so that there would always be loving adults around if we needed them – Kai & Erna, Dick & Peg, Liz & Chips, Bob & Judith, Marmie…none of these people share any DNA with me but every single one of them has made me cookies, kissed a skinned knee, spoiled me on my birthday, pulled crackers at Christmas, beamed at my graduation ceremonies, etc.

      I have no doubt that you will find wonderful grandparents for any kids you may one day have – they’ll never replace your mother, but your kids will never feel the loss.

      1. MommyMD*

        My husband died in June. I have three kids. The weight of grief is suffocating. It’s so strange that the world goes on when you are in this black fog. But it does. I’m a lot better now and just take it day by day. It sounds trite but try and stay somewhat busy. Also right now you may not have the energy to help anyone else out for a while. Take care of you. Time does indeed help. I wish you well.

    5. Sunflower*

      I’m so sorry to hear that :( Take all the time you need to process and grieve and remember to be kind to yourself.

  5. Augusta Sugarbean*

    Is anyone else watching the live stream of April the giraffe on YouTube? She’s due to give birth and the zoo has been streaming for a day or two. Poor old girl just looks so restless. (Of course I don’t really know what not-in-labor giraffe behavior looks like so there is an outside chance I’m projecting my own oh-hell-no feelings….)

    I mean ugh, zoos but still it’s pretty great to just click over and watch a giraffe.

    1. Temperance*

      I kept checking in, but then I felt guilty, like maybe she doesn’t want us watching her give birth. Maybe she’s holding it in because she’s nervous about all the viewers.

      (I KNOW that she’s a giraffe, but maybe she’s also shy?)

    2. Marcela*

      Is that the one that appeared on the news because somebody reported it was sexually explicit and _contained nudity_?! so Youtube stopped the stream?

  6. The Other Dawn*

    I’m looking for a new 8 or 9 inch frying pan and a 3 quart saucepan. Any recommendations?

    I currently have the Kitchenaid hard-anondized aluminum and I’d like something similar, but I’m open to other brands/materials. Something easy to care for, but durable. (Both pans I’m looking to replace were dropped on the floor and got dented, so the lids no longer fit.) No cast iron, though. I don’t do any specialized cooking, just the standard meals. I wanted the same kind I have now, but of course it’s no longer available.

    1. the gold digger*

      Other Dawn, I have had good luck with finding cooking stuff on eBay. They might have the same kind you have now.

      If not, I really like my All-Clad. Full disclosure: I have gotten it only on sale. It is expensive! But again, something you might be able to find on eBay. (And it’s made in the US, not in China by slave labor.)

      1. danr*

        I agree. All clad. Get it on sale or from an outlet and you’ll have it for a lifetime. But first, go to a store that carries it and pick up the pans for yourself. See if they feel comfortable.

      2. Nye*

        All-Clad is the business! I have been slowly building up a set of copper-core AC via birthday / Christmas gifts for the past few years. It is such a joy to cook on, plus it’s extremely well-made (in America!).

        It’s quite pricey, so maybe not what Dawn is looking for, but I’d second looking for sales/eBay/etc, as it’s really outstanding.

        For hard-anodized aluminum, Calphalon can be quite good, and is less expensive than AC. Make sure to get American-made Calphalon — some cheaper lines are made in China and are noticably worse in quality and durability.

    2. LisaLee*

      I quite like the 9-inch Food Network brand ceramic-coated frying pan I got at Kohl’s. SUPER easy to clean, still sears stuff, and for most foods you really don’t need to use oil. I cook almost everything in it. It seems very durable–I haven’t had any of the scratching problems I had with other types of nonstick pans.

      My mother bought a ceramic frying pan from a different brand around the same time and hers has had all sorts of weird problems (staining, stickiness, color change in the ceramic) but mine still looks brand new. The only downside is mine didn’t come with a lid, but I think they were available separately.

    3. periwinkle*

      It depends on what you need them to do! For non-stick, I go cheap – run over to Target and pick a sturdy one. For serious sautéing I bought a splendid All-Clad and hardly ever use it! Instead I keep turning to my workhorses, inexpensive pans picked up at a restaurant supply store. I’ve been using the same $11 frying pan for…. a decade, at least?

      1. fposte*

        Yup, nonstick is essentially perishable, so it doesn’t make sense to sink a lot of money into it. Tramontina is a nice budget brand for nonstick that’s consistently reviewed well.

    4. JHS*

      I love my All Clad d5. I have found that they are so worth the money (although a lot of ours were wedding gifts). The thing to consider though is also what your stove situation is. We have induction and they are amazing for that. We used to have gas and they worked just as well, but the bottoms got fairly burnt up. If you have a store near you like a Williams-Sonoma they do cooking in store so you might be able to see a demonstration with different pans to see what you might like.

      1. Spoonie*

        I’ve found super nice stuff shopping there. No clue why I didn’t start looking for kitchen items there years ago.

      2. Kristen*

        Yup, I love Marshalls & Home Goods for kitchen stuff. I actually bought a Cuisinart non-stick 8 or 9 inch skillet from Marshalls a few years ago for probably around $12. I think everything I buy from Marshalls is $12.

    5. Elizabeth H.*

      I love the Cuisinart brand pots and pans. To me the price is right and they’re extremely high performing, stay looking nice, easy to clean.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I bought a Kitchenaid non-stick pan in a supermarket promotion and have been very impressed with it. It was one of those promotions where you collected the stickers on a card, then bought the pan at a huge discount.

  7. LawCat*

    A sunny weekend! Finally, after rain and rain and rain! I got a geocaching premium membership as a gift so we’ll be venturing out today in search of treasure :-)

    1. TeaLady*

      My partner and I had to go out and check on the geocaches we’ve set as Storm Doris passed through this week! A couple had been dislodged but all is well now.

  8. FiveWheels*

    Here’s a question – it applies to work and non work, but reared its head today in a social setting.

    In a very reserved person, unreadable, don’t like sharing emotions, only cry at sport, etc. I don’t think I’m emotionally repressed, because I don’t like or want to share emotions. Really just a stereotypical stiff upper lip Brit.

    The problem is, when I do let emotions out, it’s uncontrollable and embarrasses me. I could be seriously ill and nobody would know, but an unexpected criticism could make me tearful and then being tearful makes me upset and then I look like a Crazy Emotional Woman.

    Anyone got any tips for dealing with unwanted emotional floods, for people who don’t really deal with emotions at all?

    1. Temperance*

      If you’re starting to tear up, looking at the ceiling sometimes helps. Or you could do what I do, and go into the single-stall bathroom, run the water, and let loose.

      1. FiveWheels*

        Single stall bathroom is GREAT! But only when there’s an escape route. Like when I’m talking to a friend, and I don’t want to get emotional, and I *do* get emotional . . . making an escape would probably make it obvious that I was having a Moment anyway.

        I don’t know if maybe cognitive behavioural therapy or neuro linguistic programming would help long term . . . I have a big aversion to anything called “therapy” but my understanding of CBT is it’s more like stoicism (in the sense of: concern yourself with that which you can control, and let go of the rest) than conventional therapy.

        1. fposte*

          CBT is a real protocol; NLP is…not so much.

          But honestly, as a fairly reserved person myself, I’ve found it easier to let go my desire to control my emotional displays than to find ways to avoid doing it. Is reframing the emotional display an option for you?

        2. Jo*

          What I do when this happens to me (and it happens a lot, annoyingly – I hate crying but I tear up at the drop of a hat) is to recite lines from my favorite Shakespeare monologues in my head. It takes my mind away from whatever is causing the emotional reaction, while simultaneously comforting/reassuring me with something familiar, comforting, and pleasurable. If you’re religious, maybe parts of the Bible or something would help, but for me Shakespeare basically IS my bible, so that’s what works for me.

    2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Was it on here that I read it is impossible to cry and drink water at the same time?

      I dont share my emotions either, although I tend to bottle up anger and frustration to the point that when I blow I BLOW and its horrible and scares the crap out of people. I’ve learned I need to assert myself a but more in order for it to act as a safety valve OR when I feel it all building up that I need to go away and have time out for a little bit. Do you have any ways to safety valve things? Is it any criticism or is it a particular group or setting that triggers the flood? Can you manage that way?

      I will admit, however, being an American living in the UK that sometimes the UK “humour” can, to my ears, sound very cutting and can land in such a way to really make you hurt inside. I’ve got a wicked tongue on me and can shut it down right away, but sometimes I hear two British people having a passive aggressive “fight” and it just sounds horrible. Id rather be yelled at and have it over in 5 minutes than have a half hour of being poked fun at in a subtle way and then told “what you cant take a joke?” after.

      1. FiveWheels*

        Really cutting “humour” doesn’t generally bother me and I give it as good as I get it, but my Button is comments along the lines of: hey friend, I see you have a flaw/problem; I think you should fix it, here is how!

        My mind hears: that flaw I know all about but just pretend isn’t there? EVERYONE NOTICES IT. And now I have to discuss it. And the solution you offered is both obvious and ineffective, and I know this because I thought about it and tried it and it made things worse. So now, you Know About the Flaw, we can’t pretend it’s not here, AND you apparently think I’m stupid or you wouldn’t have given your obvious advice.

        I suppose if I was built in a certain way, my reaction would be “yeah, I hear you, thanks for the advice but I dunno if that will help.” And I guess I’d like to be able to get to that level. Someone presses my Button, and instead of turning on the self-destruct, I would like to react to what was MEANT rather than what I HEARD.

        I don’t know if it’s related, but when my anger blows it REALLY blows and I don’t let that happen. There are people dear to me who I could emotionally devastate with a sentence, and I don’t ever want to do that, so I walk away (emotionally or physically) from those situations.

        For example (made up scenario) if someone said “Your hair looks stupid and people think you’re stupid, have you considered getting a haircut?” I could respond with “Your problems with relationships stem from X Y and Z in your childhood and it is obvious to all who know you. Have you considered psychiatry?” But I obviously don’t/can’t respond, so I bite my tongue.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          if someone said that to me, I could probably say, “Your face looks stupid and I think you’re stupid; have you considered burying yourself?” Of course, I can’t always say it like that, so then it comes out as, “Are you okay?” in a very patronizing tone.

          The drinking water thing works very well, or taking a sip of tea or whatever beverage is handy. Another thing I do, if I don’t want to lose control in a situation, is to press my big toe down HARD in my shoe. I mean hard like I want to shove it through the floor. I used to do this when waiting for my music cue in skating and dying of stage fright. It calmed me down immediately because it hurt, and the pain took my mind off the fact that I was in a butt-length skirt, about to fling myself hilariously around on a sheet of ice in front of a ton of people.

    3. Spoonie*

      You and I sound fairly similar in the handle emotions department. My boyfran (of just over a year and a half) commented recently that I’ve seen him cry over a dozen times whereas he’s seen me cry maybe 3-4 times.

      If I’m in public and getting emotional, I try to mentally start doing something completely different. Conjugate verbs in Spanish. List all of the state capitals. Calculate square roots. Success isn’t guaranteed, but it helps. Obviously it’s harder to focus if you’re having a conversation as well, but it depends on which is more important at that point.

    4. Reba*

      I don’t exactly recognize myself in your description (reserved etc.) but I do sometimes find myself surprised at the intensity of my reaction, or at how close to the surface my tears seem to be…

      Things that have helped me (although I still don’t control it totally) are to A. really let it out when I feel myself getting teary at films or books and B. practice talking about sensitive topics with a trusted friend. For me that is my spouse and my sister. I wonder if even saying things aloud to yourself would help? For me, hearing myself say responses makes the topics less tender and emotional, and I know I can get through a sentence or conversation about them.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      If you hold your emotions in, when they do finally come out, yeah, it’s going to be an explosion.

      Try journalling? Walking, when done routinely can do a lot to help process emotionally charged things. Install a punching bag in your home?

      It is okay to have emotions, I hope you know that. One technique that can help reduce tears is to tell yourself that it is okay to cry. When we tell ourselves not to cry we make it a much longer process than it needs to be, as we tend to cry more when we tell ourselves not to cry.
      Punchline: My doc told me years ago, if you insist upon not processing your emotions you will continue to have highs and lows that are not controllable. The two go hand-in-hand.

      As an aside, I think the remarks you are getting are very harsh and very unkind. I don’t know how you cope with it. Do you HAVE to have these people in your life?

      It’s rude to tell a person they have a flaw. It’s even ruder to tell them how to fix it. If a person wants help they will ask, otherwise move on. My response would be “Okay, let’s fix my flaw and then let’s fix your RUDENESS.”

      Look in the mirror and practice saying, “That remark was over the line.” Or “That comment was uncalled for.” Develop several go-to sentences, practice them and use them. (This just like we practice CPR, when you have a dead person in front of you that is not the time to learn CPR. You have to learn it before anything happens. Same here. Learn it in a calm moment, use it in duress.)

      My husband used to say, “I wouldn’t slam a sh!t house door that hard.” Then he would turn and walk away.

      1. FiveWheels*

        To clarify, a friend didn’t tell me I had a flaw as such – from his perspective it was more like “Wheels has a problem, I don’t think she knows!”

        In today’s incident I’m pretty sure he thought he was saying something equivalent to “you have spinach stuck in your teeth”. From my perspective there were layers and layers of history attached to the presence of absence of spinach, and it was lettuce anyway.

        1. TL -*

          It’s still fine to reply, “Oh, I know you didn’t mean anything bad by that but it’s a bit of a sensitive subject; please don’t bring it up again.”

    6. Aurora Leigh*

      When I’m in an emotional situation and I don’t want to react, I narrate what’s ha0ening in my head in third person, like I was writing a book or describing what’s happening to someone else. It gives me distance so I can process my emotions later and privately.

  9. Camellia*

    Welcome to “Backwards Day”!! Anyone remember that from school? Where you were supposed to wear your clothes backward for a day? Well, that is my life now, figuratively speaking.

    For years my diet consisted of the following:
    Decaf tea, no more than two cups a day (coffee makes me gag)
    Dark, leafy greens of all kinds
    Summer squash (steamed)
    Okra, green beans, green peppers, celery
    Sweet potatoes, plain butter only
    Beans of all kinds
    Berries of all kinds
    Tomato sauces and soups
    Brown rice
    Peanut butter (Skippy, which is lower in sugar than Jiff)
    Pecans as snacks – so easy to carry a small container around
    Chocolate or strawberry ice cream for treats
    Very little bread, pasta, or other processed starches

    Sounds pretty good, right? Pretty healthy? Well, I just had surgery for a calcium oxalate kidney stone. Guess what I’m now NOT ALLOWED TO EAT to prevent further stones? See ENTIRE LIST above. I’m not kidding. The entire list.

    All the switches I’ve made over time, to healthier alternatives (for example, brown rice instead of white rice) are now bad for me. What are my eating choices now? Well, oxalate occurs in plants, especially green or other brightly colored plants, so…

    Apple, grapefruit, lemon, and pineapple juice for beverages (seriously – all that added sugar???)
    Low fat milk, skim milk, low fat or fat free yogurt
    White rice
    Brussel sprouts (although some low oxalate diets exclude even this)
    Chives (Seriously, aren’t these last four things just ADDITIONS to food? I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone say they were chowing down on a delightful bowl of onions.}
    Bananas, mangoes, melons, plums
    Any kind of processed starch: corn flakes, noodles, pasta, macaroni, white bread


    1. Anna Pigeon*

      That bites. Might be worth a couple appts with a registered dietitian. There may be a way to narrow down the list of banned foods based on your specific situation, or she may have some more creative ideas for allowable foods. Good luck.

    2. Anon for this*

      I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone say they were chowing down on a delightful bowl of onions.

      You haven’t seen me eat caramelized onions out of the pan. :)

      But seriously, that sounds like such a hard change to make.

      Are there cookbooks for this kind of diet? Would you be able to talk to a dietician for advice?

      1. Camellia*

        I’m going to dig through my cookbooks to find some recipes to get started on. I’ve read about cauliflower mashed ‘potatoes’. O_O Luckily this is plant-based so I can continue to eat animal protein as I choose.

        1. Whats In A Name*

          Cauliflower rice is good, too. Just chop up raw or thawed cauliflower in the food processor. That way you don’t have to go to white rice. Ugh.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Oh yeah, I think it was Garden & Gun magazine that published a recipe wherein Vidalia onions are sauteed in butter over very low heat for about three hours. I tried it, and let me tell you, that was an extremely delightful bowl of onions. :-)

        1. Bluebell*

          You can caramelize a large amount of onions in a Dutch oven by baking them for a few hours. Super simple and very delicious!

      1. Camellia*

        Thanks! I also found the link below, which seems to recommend a more sane approach. For example, it says, “Some people think that cutting out all foods that have oxalate — or all foods with calcium — will keep stones from forming. However, this approach is not healthy. It can lead to poor nutrition and can cause other health problems. A better plan? Eat and drink calcium and oxalate-rich foods together during a meal. Doing this helps oxalate and calcium “bind” to one another in the stomach and intestines before reaching the kidneys, making it less likely for kidney stones to form in the urine. Eat and drink calcium and oxalate-rich foods together during a meal. Doing this helps oxalate and calcium “bind” to one another in the stomach and intestines before reaching the kidneys, making it less likely for kidney stones to form in the urine.”


    3. Riverosprite*

      Can you talk to a dietitian? I have diverticular disease, and a ton of food sensitivities. After my first bought with diverticulitis the doctor said that, for all intents and purposes, I can only eat the foods that make me sick. One session with a dietitian and I got a much better understanding of how to eat for the condition. I also found out that a lot of the things the doctor was saying were permanently banned were actually just not okay until the infection was cleared up.

      I hope that you are recovering well from the kidney stone and surgery!

      1. Camellia*

        Yeah, my surgeon did the same thing, gave me a sheet that listed draconian measures. Since this was my first stone ever, with no sign of others developing, I’m hoping a more moderate approach will work for me.

        And just as I was feeling better after the surgery I got to go in and have the stent removed. What a joy that was!

    4. Hrovitnir*

      Aw, nooo. That is painful (the kidney stone and the wholesale diet change). Not quite as urgent, but I am contemplating trying cutting out FODMAPs (fructooligosaccharides) and seeing if it helps my chronically unpredictable and painful gut. You know what’s the biggest no-no? Onions and garlic. I put them in virtually everything – and I may not eat a bowl of onions, but I’d eat a bowl of salsa that’s basically raw onions, tomato, chillis and lime juice… :'(

      My partner has had to minimise his potassium intake, and similarly most foods we regard as “good” foods are high in potassium, and he’s had to cut out or down a bunch of his favourite stuff.

      Good luck! It might be worth looking for a forum for people with similar food issues if that would help? For recipes and venting? Also good idea by Riverosprite, if you can afford it seeing a dietician might make it easier to transition.

      1. Jules the First*

        Before you FODMAP, try cutting dairy (if you haven’t already) – at least four weeks. Giving up cheese sucks…going FODMAP was worse (YMMV!) and I totally wish I’d done it the other way around.

        1. Hrovitnir*

          Heh, forgot to mention, I am lactose intolerant so I already only have lactose-free food. As someone who had “mystery” pain from dairy from a young age I never really learned to love creamy things like most people seem to! (My grandparents were dairy farmers. I had mysterious tummy aches at theirs a lot. :P) Unless issues with casein are common? The symptoms are very much like that of an intolerance rather than an allergy.

          1. Jules the First*

            In that case, I would definitely give up dairy completely before you FODMAP – I’m neither casein nor lactose intolerant but anything more than a tablespoon of mammal milk leaves me in a whimpering heap on the floor (and yes, we tried two kinds of cow, goat, sheep, buffalo, and, shudder, camel, before giving up). Casein is not the only protein in milk – it’s just the only one they can test for (and even those tests are pretty unreliable)

            We did the allergy tests and came back with nothing, so my medical team’s best guess is that it’s tied into the rest of my auto-immune protein hang ups.

            1. Hrovitnir*

              Huh, that’s interesting. It’s definitely easier than cutting out all that stuff, haha. And they have some *awesome* oat milk designed for coffee here.

                1. Not So NewReader*

                  I was excited to see that at the store and had to try it. It’s actually pretty good. I am into trying these different milks, some are blah. Some are more like having a rich cream than having milk.

                  I drank rice milk for years so because of being so familiar with it, I tend to favor others. But rice milk is actually okay. Coconut milk is my current fav.

      2. Cheryl blossom*

        I would really encourage you to try the FODMAP plan! I’ve been on it for 2.5 years now due to my unhappy gut (IBS) and I wouldn’t go back, my gut is so much happier.

        No onion and garlic is difficult at first but I (and my garlic and onion loving DH) quickly adapted and neither of us miss it at all. (I am extremely fortunate to have a DH willing to adapt to my food needs). There are so many other spices out there to use. It does make eating out tricky, but I’ve become a WAY better cook and my crockpot has become my new bestie.

        It’s amazing to see how much some of the FODMAPS do affect you … after not having onion for 2.5 years every once in a while some sneaks in (usually out or at a friend’s house) and I’ll literally bloat to the extent that I look like I’m 9 months pregnant until the gas all passes.

        Anyway, this diet literally changed my life and if there’s even a small chance it will help you – don’t hesitate! If you have any questions I’m more than happy to answer!!

        1. Hrovitnir*

          Excellent, multiple perspectives. :D Honestly, I strongly suspect it’s multifaceted, which is part of why I’ve been avoiding dealing with it. I don’t *want* an annoyingly restricted diet. *sniff*

          I’m unlikely to have questions in the short term (gotta finish the food I have and contemplate… probably try dairy first so I can distinguish that from anything else) but I will try and remember your name in case I do. Thanks! ^_^

        2. fposte*

          Chiming in with a different perspective–FODMAP made me sick as a dog, and the weight peeled off me. I’m currently doing a slightly modified specific carbohydrate diet, which works much, much better for me but which I don’t think is sustainable long-term. (And while it’s got some good research results and my doctor recommended it, there’s a fair bit of woo around it that makes me roll my eyes.)

          1. Jules the First*

            Ah the woo woo….which is sometimes code for crackpot and sometimes science for we don’t quite understand it yet.

            I’m on a microbiotic one these days (two years and counting) which was practically prescribed by my docs, and while the science is definitely promising it’s still inconclusive and “Hey, let’s fix auto-immune gut issues by feeding your bacteria” sounded pretty out there to me. But I’m two years plus steroid free and, more importantly, symptom free, so I’m sticking with it. I’ll also admit that I thought it was completely unsustainable when I started, but after about eight months it sort of bedded into my brain and I can even navigate a restaurant menu without too much difficulty these days.

            1. fposte*

              I’m fine with the microbiome; it’s the claims that this diet will cure autism that make me cringe. (Plus the source book is not well written, so that’s cringey in other ways.)

          2. Hrovitnir*

            Oh, that’s interesting. And a pretty severe response. O_O

            And ahhhhh, woo associated with legit or potentially legit things makes me sad. Also the way the media/public has run with the microbiome thing makes me cringe.

            It is an area of research that really excited me. The papers discussing the microbiome as a contributor to development of allergies sound legit and fascinating. The thing people don’t seem to understand is that we have no idea what an “ideal” microbiome even is, and I am skeptical there will be one that applies across the board. There are species we know are commensal and shouldn’t cause issues even with supplementation, but overall it’s poorly understood.

            See also: the enteric nervous system. Yes, it’s incredibly complex. Yes, it produces serotonin. Yes, serotonin can pass the blood-brain barrier and augment CNS serotonin. BUT it is mostly used to initiate peristalsis and secretion within the gut – hormones do different things at different concentrations in different tissues, so please stop telling people that that means you should fix all mental health problems with their diet. (Also serotonin =/ magical happiness. Hormones and neurotransmitters are complicated, damnit. >_< )/rant

    5. Bluebell*

      I hope it gets easier for you! I’m a pescatarian and for a while I had to be on a low potassium diet. It was so sad – no orange or leafy greens and even tofu was limited. Thankfully it ended. And to echo the other poster, caramelized onions are fabulous , and combine well with roasted mushrooms.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      That’s insane. The first list is all things you’re SUPPOSED to eat! Gah! I second the dietitian advice. I’m sorry you had to deal with this. Stupid stone. *shakes fist at*

    7. Observer*

      Do see a good dietician with good understanding of your condition in particular.

      A real problem is that your prior diet was not nearly as healthy as you think it was. Not only was is high in oxalate, it’s fairly unbalanced in other ways, which makes you more likely to run into trouble.

      The best beverage someone with diet issues can lean on is plain water. Carbs are not your enemy. And there are choices beyond white rice and white wheat bread. It’s also worth exploring herb teas, although some are better for you than others. Also, if you shop in health food stores, you should be able to find stuff (including ice cream) that uses carob instead of chocolate. It’s not QUITE the same, but the best products are pretty good.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Products are better now than they ever have been. The days of Euell Gibbon’s tree bark eating are over. Products have to be tasty or the company will not survive in today’s market.

        I will agree with Observer that diet is not as healthy as one might think. I will be certain to add, neither is mine! The most important thing to do is keep trying new-to-you foods and keep adding in variety. I went on a jag where I was trying every fish I could find. Then I went through spells of trying all different flours- I learned I love spelt and amaranth. I do one thing at a time. I would love to try different salts but I just don’t use enough salt to justify it.

        I am disappointed to see no mention of vitamin D. When did you develop the stones? Many folks develop them over the winter months and have no problem in the warmer weather. This is because they are outside a lot or have outside jobs. Please check out vitamin D. Also watch your hydration levels. It’s amazing how many problems can be reduced just by taking in good amounts of water faithfully every day.

    8. Panda Bandit*

      Mushrooms can be the star ingredient! I still remember a portobello “burger” I had years ago. It was built like a burger but with a thick slice of grilled portobello mushroom instead of meat.

    9. AcademiaNut*

      For the last four items – mushrooms can be amazingly good as a dish on their own when cooked well. Pan fried until slightly browned in olive oil or butter, antipasto style marinated button mushrooms, grilled king oyster mushrooms, Taiwanese three-cup mushroom, sauteed mushrooms and onions, mushrooms in cream sauce over pasta or rice. Daikon (aka Chinese radish) is actually very good cooked – we often have it stewed with pork or beef. It gets much mellower and softer as it cooks, but still has a bit of bite which contrasts well with the richness of the meat. Asian chives also stir-fry quite well (my husband does a nice dish with chives and chicken liver, but I’ve also had them on their own). Onions and radishes lend themselves well to refrigerator pickles – pickled onion, Japanese style daikon pickles, etc. I sometimes do a sauce for chicken that consists of onions, very slowly cooked until carmelized, and finished with fresh thyme or rosemary and a bit of cooking sherry. Savory apple and onion chutney, or slow cooked onion jam (with or without bacon) are also delicious.

      Cabbage has a lot of delicious preparations – coleslaws, particularly vinegar or lemon juice based (look up 7-day coleslaw), Chinese pickled cabbage (vinegar, sugar, salt, and a bit of hot pepper), cabbage with caraway, slow braised cabbage with vinegar, sauerkraut with sausages (if salt isn’t an issue), stir-fried cabbage with garlic, sauteed cabbage and onion with Indian spices and lemon juice. I sometimes make coleslaw with cabbage, onion, lime juice and a few dashes of fish sauce. There’s a Japanese dish where you cook layers of cabbage with thinly sliced pork that’s really good too.

      You’ve got a reasonable setup for a Japanese style hot pot or sukiyaki – cabbage, mushrooms (shitake and straw mushrooms), green onions, daikon, plus some thinly sliced meat.

    10. Lady Bug*

      I have the same type of stones and my urologist recommended drinking lemon water, so I use that as a replacement for tea and it doesn’t add sugar or many calories. I just squeeze a 1/4 lemon into a cup of hot water. As far as tea itself, you need to avoid green and black tea, but fruit teas that aren’t made from tea leaves should be ok.

    11. danr*

      I had one of those years ago but avoided surgery. I cut out the large glasses of milk and made sure to drink plenty of water. Turned out that was the key. You need all that extra water to wash the stony stuff away. I was also told that coffee, tea and wine were good in moderation. Haven’t had a problem since.

  10. I Am Become the Internet, Destroyer of Time*

    For a man with a round-ish head, who has cut his hair really short for the first time, would you suggest growing out my closely-cropped beard a bit more? I’m wondering if that would help balance out the lack of hair up top.

    1. Ella*

      I don’t think so. Close cropped beards are hot! I personally find fuller beards less so- no matter how much hair you have up top.

    2. chickabiddy*

      My ex-husband was about the same size you are (which you posted above) or even slightly bigger and he wore his hair clipped very short. I thought he looked best when his beard was a bit beyond “closely cropped” but not really long or full.

    3. NaoNao*

      Yeah, a close cropped head either shaved or buzzed, and a long, full bear is a “look” (especially since I think you mentioned that you’re tall and carry some size in an earlier comment?) that can/may read as sort of…rough and tough, especially on the bigger guys.
      My brother has been bald since age 20 or so and he’s 6’3″ and about 230 ish, most of which is muscle, and he has a longish beard–he rocks this “Sons of Anarchy/Vikings” look–black clothes, works at a cigar shop, “Church of Iron” posts on FB, you know the type :) So if you like that quasi-bouncer look, go for it!
      But if you’re already feeling like you’re looming over people and making them jump, maybe keep the closely cropped beard :)

    4. Happymammy*

      My personal preference is for beards to be no longer than head hair. It seems more even. However longer beards don’t put me off too much so long as they are groomed and kept in trim.

      But it’s your hair! My opinion does not matter one iota do what you like

    5. Hrovitnir*

      I think don’t worry about it (and I also am more of a fan of close-cropped beards personally) – but also you can always give it a go and see if you like the feel/look? Maybe even the process of trying something new with your facial hair will make you feel better about the change in your look if it’s bothering you.

      Heh, and as someone with a pretty round head, I can tell you I very quickly stopped caring at all and actually ended up going shorter and shorter because it felt nice.

    6. Drago cucina*

      I’d say give it a try. The nice thing is the beard can always be trimmed. My 6’1″ son shaves his head and has a fluffy beard. Without a beard he still looks 16 (he’s mid 20s). My only other advice is to take care of it. Beard oil, comb/brush, washed daily, etc. Son spends more time grooming his beard than I do my hair.

  11. Temperance*

    Today is the first anniversary of the day that I was sent home from the hospital after I was really sick last year. Instead of doing something relaxing or fun and celebrating life, I’m mandated to spend the day at a dinner with my in-laws to honor my husband’s grandmother for her birthday. I don’t really like her much, so I’m feeling salty about having to a.) spend the day with her, b.) spend 5 hours in a car round-trip to do so, and c.) buy her a “nice” gift. (As background, she told my husband that God was going to let me die if he didn’t pray and go to mass. She also believes that women should only be Wives and Mothers, and she treats me accordingly. She likes to look at my SIL, who has never held down a real job, and tell her that she’s doing the “most important job for a woman, being a mommy” while giving me nasty looks.)

    This was my whine for the weekend. I’m hoping that getting it out here helps me not be in a grumpy mood, because I have no poker face and it’s going to show that I don’t want to be there.

    1. SophieChotek*

      I’m sorry Temperance, that sounds like a pretty awful way to spend the day. While there may be times to do things because “it’s family,” it sounds like this is beyond that. I don’t suppose there is any way you could just not go?

      1. Temperance*

        I considered it, but I was able to negotiate staying in a hotel with a pool so we don’t have to spend the entire time with them, and I’ll get annoyed being home alone, too. I’m not sure if that makes sense.

    2. Former Retail Manager*

      May I just ask….where is hubby’s support/backing you up in this scenario? As in, “I’m sorry Grandma, but Temperance and I won’t be able to make it to your birthday celebration this year. A lovely gift is on its way and we hope you enjoy your day.”

      1. Temperance*

        He’s usually pretty on point, but I think in this scenario, he’s feeling bad for his mother so he wants to be there. I’m more annoyed that he isn’t making a big deal out of this one-year-out thing, which I think is more important than his grandmother’s birthday, but that’s colored because I’m feeling grumpy and selfish because this woman gets under my skin so much.

    3. Mike C.*

      Make a donation in her name to your favorite organization that focuses on empowering women instead of some stupid gift. Tell her that the organization always reminded you of her and that’s the best way you could think of honoring her.

      Yeah, it’s likely too late for that, but man does that suck. I’m sorry. Maybe there will be booze?

      1. Temperance*

        I like the cut of your jib, Mike. Remembering that for next time!

        Grandma is a teetotaler, so we’re having drinks after we leave her. Many, many drinks, because, we will need them. ;)

      2. Hrovitnir*

        That is a good idea! Also much sympathies Temperance – I know comments like this can be unhelpful, but there is no way I would be around that, and you shouldn’t have to. >:(

        Do you reckon you could do something special tomorrow instead? Also to make up for the Worst Dinner.

        1. Mike C.*

          I’ve always loved the idea of vindictive charitable giving. Cross me and some village in Africa is getting a goat or several chickens from Oxfam for your birthday.

          “I even declined the extra coffee mug so that the donation would have an even larger effect!”

    4. bunniferous*

      Please do not do this but I could just picture myself in your place sailing in and saying hi Grandma, look, I didnt die! (Pardon the lack of proper punctuation and quote marks since my Chromebook has one faulty key and guess which one it is….)

      Hopefully you like your other inlaws to make up for it.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Oh. oh.
        It would be all I could do to hold myself back.

        “Grandma, I’M HEEERE!”

        I am so ashamed about being so happy over this.

        1. Panda Bandit*

          I’d be very tempted to troll her for the entire visit. Just cheerfully talk about of all the things that would annoy her!

    5. Not So NewReader*

      This woman is getting under my skin and I don’t even have to deal with it.
      I’m sorry, Temperance. This stinks.

      It appears that being a wife and mommy has left her bitter, nagging and unfulfilled. She is more unhappy than most people I know. She is a poster child for an unhappy life.

    6. Panda Bandit*

      That’s awful. Spend as little time with the miserable old bat as possible and then go do something spectacularly fun.

  12. PepperVL*

    Who else is following the Cincinnati Zoo’s baby hippo updates? I may be biased because its local, but Fiona is the best thing on the internet right now. She so adorable and I’m rooting for her.

    (Link to come in a reply.)

    1. Lizabeth*

      Cute! Ex-Southern Ohioan here. Loved going to the Cincy Zoo, old Coney Island before they moved to Kings Island, Graters ice cream, Rookwood pottery and Skyline chili.

      1. PepperVL*

        She was born six weeks early and 25 pounds smaller than the lowest recorded Nile hippo birth weight, so it’s definitely been touch and go. Fortunately the Cincinnati Zoo is world class and Cincinnati Children’s has been able to help, so she’s hanging in there – And starting to thrive!

        Rookwood pottery isn’t here anymore, but the good news is you can get Skyline and Graeters in grocery stores around the country now!

        1. Lizabeth*

          Wasn’t there a restaurant in the old Rookwood pottery building in Mount Adams? I remember going there to eat. And Lenhardt’s near UC.
          Graeters and Skyline haven’t made it to NJ :(

          1. PepperVL*

            There’s a Don Pablos there now. And there’s a website where too can order Cincinnati foods delivered. If you have someone in Cincinnati, you can send cans of chili priority mail in their flat rate boxes fairly inexpensively. My family does that for my brothers.

      1. PepperVL*

        She’s great! When she hit 40 pounds the zoo said it wasn’t going to keep giving daily Fiona updates, but there was a huge outcry and they’ve mostly been doing daily updates. We all want Fiona in our lives right now.

    1. Mimmy*

      Is that the one in August? My husband will be going to Missouri for an unrelated event, though the event location was intentionally picked because of the view.

    2. Me2*

      Thinking about going to Bend, Oregon. It’s beautiful no matter what, and supposed to be a good viewing location.
      And best of all, free place to stay with a friend that lives there.

      1. Mallows*

        Bend IS beautiful. Free place is the right price. Hotels in Casper, WY are $900 a night! Same in Newport, OR.

    3. Dainty Lady*

      We’re going, near Bend! Clear skies. Oh, goodness, seeing a total solar eclipse will change your life.

      1. Mallows*

        I can’t wait! I’m thrilled that I get to witness this! I originally wanted to go to Madras but there’s no place to stay now.

    4. Reba*

      I have been planning this since September! We’ll be in a small, rural town near where some relatives have a vacation cabin. This tiny town is right in the path of greatest eclipse and I am charmed by their official town website which has all this info about it, and associated events they are organizing including “EclipseCon.”

      I have heard from a friend who saw an eclipse in the past that even if it is cloudy, it will be an amazing sight.

      1. Mallows*

        Oh I’m so glad to hear this about the cloudy thing. The town to-do sounds so fun. We will be driving from Denver to Kearney, NE, and I bet they will have some fun small town stuff going on!

    5. Hattie McDoogal*

      Yes! Husband and I are planning to drive (or something…) down to somewhere in Oregon. Sleep in the car if we have to. We’ll bring our scope with its solar filter, and I *know* we have some eclipse glasses around somewhere, but what I’m really hoping is that any of our amateur astronomer friends with nicer scopes/cameras are going and we can meet up.

      1. Sydney Bristow*

        My husband has an interest in astrophotography so I bought him a book on it for Christmas in anticipation of our trip. I may have created a monster. It’s going to be so great though.

        1. Mallows*

          I have never been a big astronomy buff but that seems to be changing as I get older. I need to buy some eclipse glasses before I have to spend, like, $100 a pair!

      2. Mallows*

        Oh, good luck. Central OR is so gorgeous, eclipse or no. And now I need to look up solar filters….I need astronomer friends!

    6. Amadeo*

      Sigh. I work at a university in the path of totality. Fortunately it is no longer the particular one in southern IL (I was really, really, REALLY dreading going in to work that day and were I still employed there, I would have begged the day off). But somehow I got snookered into being on the eclipse planning committee for my new place of work so, I’ll be right in place, working outdoors mid-August, and watching.

      1. Mallows*

        the eclipse planning committee :-) Love! Sounds like you couldn’t miss it even if you wanted to, wonderful!

        1. Amadeo*

          Nope, I definitely couldn’t miss it if I tried at this point! I don’t want to miss it, I want to see it! But I did not want to deal with the zoo that my previous employer will be that day. I leave grocery stores when they’re too busy (without my groceries).

      1. Mallows*

        Me too. First I was going to fly to OR, then friend was going to fly to Denver and then drive to Casper…we started planning too late and hotels in both places are insane. Nebraska doesn’t seem to have caught on! I’ll be in Kearney and I know nothing about it. I hope you have a great time and a wonderful anniversary.

    7. Sydney Bristow*

      We booked a house near Bend, Oregon (as it appears many others are!). My large family takes a big vacation about every other year and my husband and I suggested coordinating this year’s to coincide with the eclipse. To anyone from Oregon, we are staying in Sunriver and will drive out super early in the day to get a good viewing spot. My husband’s parents decided to fly out too and got the second to last room available in the Sunriver Lodge and they booked months and months ago! I think it is going to be super crazy around there that week. I’m so looking forward to it!

      1. Mallows*

        I have been all wrapped up with moving logistics and just remembered last week that I had to make eclipse plans. My friend in OR said every place he spoke to had been booked for years! It’s going to be an amazing experience, I’m sure.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      Website I found says that in southeastern MO near St. Louis, the closer you can get to St. Clair and Festus, the better. Well, guess who has family in Festus? :)

      If for some crazy reason I’m out of state, I WILL have a sudden need to visit around then. ;) I have no idea what’s going to happen in the next year, especially since I told the universe it needs to do stuff. Here’s hoping I will have somebody besides family to share it with.

      1. Mallows*

        Absolutely, you will need to pay a visit at that time. I like this telling the universe to do stuff :-) I’ve been an AAM reader for quite a while and you are one of the kindest and most encouraging people on here and you certainly deserve some consideration from the universe. I hope 2017 is fabulous for you and that you meet talldarkhandsome AT the eclipse festivities and then write all about it (cause that would be awesome).

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I hope I meet him before that–I was rather specific with it, LOL. And thank you *hugs* I hope this year, as sucky as it’s starting out, is better for all of us! Because 2016 was a giant tire fire!

    9. Mallows*

      I will be in Denver by then (yes, adding to the population, sorry, but reducing the population in another very suddenly hip place) and after some serious panicking about lodging in Wyoming and in Oregon (where my friend lives), we will be road-tripping to Kearney, NE. We will eat Babybel cheeses on the way and sing George Jones songs at the tops of our lungs and will partake in any events the town has to offer.

    10. Chaordic One*

      Our town is having a block party and there are viewing parties in neighboring towns and at several sites in the neighboring country side.

      I’m a volunteer Friend of the Library at my Library’s used book store. The library director came and cleaned us out of used books dealing with eclipses and similar kinds of astronomical events that they are planning to give away at a booth at the block party for the eclipse celebration. The Friends of the Library are also considering purchasing a bulk order the special sunglasses that would allow you to look at the eclipse without huring your eyes.

    11. moss*

      We booked hotel rooms in Nashville. I tried to rent a cabin on vrbo, but the owners that responded said they weren’t booking for the eclipse and if they were it wouldn’t be for the listed prices! Too bad because I’m in Kentucky and apparently Millersville(?) , Kentucky is the best place in the WORLD to see it. Oh well, Nashville it is! I’m excited!!!!

  13. Academy Awards*

    Who’s watching on Sunday? Who do you want to win? What movies did you love/like/dislike? What/who would you like to have seen nominated?

    1. SophieChotek*

      I have to work at my coffee shop job that evening so nope, I won’t be watching. I usually just want to get up and read about it the next day anyway. I’ve usually seen most of the movies, I just don’t like the suspense…or all the advertisements.

      1. Allypopx*

        I read an interesting thing about how it doesn’t matter that La La Land wasn’t very good because it was tailor made to be appealing to Oscar judges…which is why yes, everyone is sick of hearing about it.

    2. Cath in Canada*

      When I lived in the UK, I always used to watch the highlights the next day instead of the full show, because of the time difference. The first year I moved to Vancouver, I was super excited to watch the whole thing live, but man is that a long show! I can’t deal with watching the whole thing, so I’m back to watching the highlights the next day instead :)

      Rooting for Arrival, which I thought was absolutely stunning – the kind of film you’re still thinking about weeks later.

    3. all aboard the anon train*

      I’m pretty annoyed Meryl Streep keeps getting nominated for mediocre movies. Her spot this year should have gone to Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monáe, or Amy Adams. It’s an unpopular opinion, but I think more than half of Streep’s nominations are undeserved.

      I’d love for Ruth Negga to win Best Actress, but I know that’s a long shot. I think Emma Stone will win and don’t think she – or Ryan Gosling – deserve their nominations. If it was a weaker year, La La Land would maybe deserve to win, but in terms of writing and acting, they don’t even come close to any of the other movies. ]

      Pretty sure Mahershala Ali will win for Best Supporting Actor, which I think would be great since he’s had a great year and has been wonderful in everything he’s been in. Though I’d also be okay with Dev Patel winning in an upset because I loved Lion and I adore Dev Patel.

      I wish Arrival had been nominated for more, but I’m not surprised it wasn’t since the academy doesn’t like honoring sci-fi. I’m still annoyed Ex Machina wasn’t nominated for more last year since it was one of the best movies I’ve seen in awhile, all three actors were amazing, and Alicia Vikander was far better in that than The Danish Girl. I wish the academy would recognize more fantasy/sci-fi movies.

    4. Audiophile*

      I’m planning to watch.

      The past few months, I saw most of the nominated films and few that weren’t nominated for an Oscar but were nominated for Golden Globes or other awards.

      I can’t say I have any favorites this year, I expect it to be pretty uneventful. Not expecting any surprises or underdogs to win.

      I will say, I was wanted to see Joel Edgerton get a nomination for Loving. It really was a wonderful film.

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      Moonlight should definitely win best picture, but I have a feeling La La Land will instead :(

    6. Maxwell Edison*

      I haven’t seen any of the nominated movies (hardly ever get out to see stuff). The only things I’m rooting for are Jeff Bridges because he’s one of my imaginary boyfriends and Mica Levi because i loved her score for Under The Skin a few years back.

    7. Mimmy*

      I never saw La La Land but was really surprised at how many nominations it got. I’ve heard it compared to Moulin Rouge but something tells me MR is a far better film. I have zero interest in La La Land.

      We used to go to the movies all the time and I used to love Oscar season. I even rooted for Titanic when it got all those nominations and awards – stayed up until the (very late!) end. Looking back, the acting isn’t that great and the story is super-cheesy, but I still love it for the music and sets.

      I’m sure we’ll be watching the Oscars tomorrow night, but I am not rooting for anyone or any movie in particular. I just hope La La Land doesn’t sweep the awards, though I’m sure it will.

      1. Happymammy*

        Oops I meant till I read the second part of ur post . I was like “why is she talking about movies in a rugby post?” Then I noticed the academy awards screen name lol. More attention to detail needed

    8. Jules the First*

      I’m clearly in the minority here, but I loved La La Land. I’m not a Ryan Gosling fan, and I’m not a fan of the director, but I thought it was a lovely little creampuff of a cinema-delight and it made my crappy week a better one.

      Does it deserve an Oscar? I really don’t know (I haven’t seen any of the other nominees). I think the whole idea that there can be a “best picture” is a little silly – movies are culture and culture is a personal, subjective experience. How silly would it be to award “best painting”?

    9. Sydney Bristow*

      I haven’t seen any movies over the past year, but I’m looking forward to seeing the fashion highlights and lowlights.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      I haven’t watched for a while–I don’t care about the fashion, and if I have a crush on someone, I don’t like to watch them walk the red carpet with someone who isn’t me, LOL. :P But I’ll probably be peeking at Buzzfeed all night. Or maybe I’ll just binge Season 2 of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend instead and ignore the whole thing. The only film I’ve seen is Arrival.

  14. Landladylurker*

    So I accidentally posted this to the wrong thread yesterday (sorry) so here’s attempt number two:

    I’m a young professional with two jobs, a big extended family, a young puppy and a struggling social life. I worked hard to buy my first house (a legal two unit-no shared entrance or anything) and had a previous tenant burn me bad (left unexpectedly with numerous expensive damages to the unit as well as not giving me enough warning to rent the place back out). My bank account is really in the red now.

    Being the winter in cold stormy Canada there is very few people looking to move and though it’s a great apartment I had no one show interest in the unit despite the fact it’s underpriced and in a great neighbourhood. I had no problems renting it before, usually having my pick of tenants with a higher rent but this time no one put an offer in except for “Irma”.

    From the start she’s been a little too friendly but I was hoping she was just being over eager to get the apartment. I was too financially strapped to really let myself see the red flags and I’m still not sure any of them are necessarily deal breakers especially since she has great references and stayed in her last apartment for 6 years.

    Now that she’s settled in though I can’t help but feel Irma wants a personal relationship with me as a friend/pseudo-aunt and I’m not interested. She has friends come over and visit her and she is very involved in a leisure sport, so I don’t think it’s a matter of loneliness, it’s like she has latched onto my young age and decided I need someone to enquire after me, as well as her having a habit of just telling everyone everything that is going on in her life. I have to answer her calls because she often has a valid question but then will try to sidetrack the conversation with personal details of her life and anything I say to try to excuse myself is met by more questions (where are you going? Why are you going there?) or by her bringing up a new legit question about her apartment. She’s also invited herself up into my own unit, which is often worse because my actual roommate works the nightshift and is trying to sleep, the house is usually messy, and it’s even harder to lie and get her to go when she can see I’m not going anywhere (she tried to start helping me cook once). She’s also fixated on walking my dog even though the poor lazy thing has a long walk and a trip to the dog park every day and if my roomie and I weren’t already running the pup ragged my cousins or my Dad would jump at the chance to have a buddy on their walks.

    My point is, no matter how hard I hint, deflect or try to duck out she seems intent on ignoring any evidence I don’t want her to be a close part of my life and I’d rather have a professional relationship with her. I’m too busy to cater to her emotional and social needs but I can’t shut her out completely since I need to be available if she has any concerns about the apartment but she won’t respect when I’m trying to get her to leave even if I have a really really good reason to go. She also seems emotionally attached to me already making things more awkward since she acts like she thinks she’s doing me favours and looking after me. Should I really just start making a quick excuse and shoving her out or hanging up as soon as she’s done asking her real questions? I don’t know how to communicate with her without being overly rude.

    1. Allypopx*

      You can be direct without being rude. “I’m your landlord, this isn’t appropriate” might be good when she physically shows up to your space. “Unless you have a question about the apartment, I have to go” on the phone, with a firm “I have to go now” if she tries to sidetrack the conversation. You could also try letting her calls go to voicemail so you know what she’s calling about and then calling back to address only that issue.

      In a professional setting you’d make it very clear that you feel your boundaries are being violated, so maybe try having a professional conversation, if that’s the relationship you want. “Irma, I am your landlord and you are my tenant. You should always feel free to contact me if you have questions about your apartment, but I need you to respect my space otherwise and not call on me for social visits.”

    2. Temperance*

      I think you need to step beyond hinting with her, or deflection. You can decline to invite her into your place, since your roommate works nights and is likely sleeping, your dog doesn’t need extra walks, and she doesn’t need to know what’s going on in your life.

      She sounds like an extrovert who would like someone up in her grill 24/7, so she’s doing it to you. Can you ask her to text you instead of call with questions? I mean, I’ve rented a lot of apartments, and really didn’t contact my landlord that much. I can’t imagine what this woman needs to ask you so often. You can use your sleeping roommate as an excuse not to answer calls.

      With these people, sometimes you have to be a little rude, or it will feel rude, because they don’t have boundaries and you do.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think you could stop the visits entirely by saying, “Because my roommate works the nightshift, she’s often sleeping at odd hours, so I need to ask you not to drop by as it often wakes her up. If you need to reach me with anything about the apartment, the best way is to text or email me.”

      And with the calls, is there any reason that you couldn’t say, “It’s about to get hard to reach me by phone because of some new work I’m taking on, so going forward, please email me with anything you need about the apartment. If it’s an emergency, send me a text. I won’t be able to answer calls.” I mean, you’re the landlord; as long as you’re reasonably responsive, you get to say “contact me this way and not that way.”

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Or you could say something to the effect of, “My life is pretty full now. I am super busy so I am not able to add friends to my life. I am sorry if I seem rushed or rude but my free time is very limited. If you need something for the apartment or if you are ready to pay your rent here is how I can be reached [fill in with options here].

    4. Anono-me*

      Remember that you don’t have to let her in or stop to talk to her when you see her outside. Walk and talk.

      I don’t know if Irma has your work phone number or only your personal cell. But I would explain to Irma that there is as new super strict policy at work about personal phone calls and she can only text or email you if she needs to reach you during work time. (I would NOT mention that it is your policy and I would NEVER give your work number to tenants.) And that that is a good idea anyway as your cell phone has been wonky about calls.

    5. Workaholic*

      My apartment complex has a clipboard in the laundry room. If something needs attention: write down the date, what the issue is, your name and apt# (there used to be forms for the same thing under the former owner). Your situation is different but could you put something like that in place? Phone calls and coming to your door are for emergency situations only, but anything needing addressed with her (unit?) Needs put in writing and placed in your mail slot or a box you put for the same reason?

  15. Ruth (UK)*

    Bit of an odd one today… couldn’t eat breakfast (managed about 2 spoonfuls of porridge) and then spent the majority of the pakrun (5km) feeling panicky over my breathing which I couldn’t seem to get steady. Apologies if you’re squeamish… I was sick during the last km (not much, and all was caught in my hand, which I then put in my tissue-filled pocket). I was not expecting a good result – but got a PB of 25:17… no idea how/why.

    Here’s a funny story… I tried to go for a run on Thursday during storm Doris (which had winds of up to 60mph). Now, I weigh about 47kg (if I put on a jumper and some heavy trousers) so wind tends to affect me a lot – if I put on a loose enough shirt you could probably fly me like a kite. Basically, I cut a diagonal line (not diagonal on purpose) across a field in pair of flimsy running shorts (I’ve upgraded from the cord trousers) before bolting into some woods which gave me relative shelter from the wind, but did rain sticks/debris on my head. It had also rained heavily the day and night before so there was a lot of sort of high knee squelching through waterlogged muddy/leafy sections. I then burst out into another field and… walked back. Sorry, no dramatic ending.

    1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Those winds were no joke! It was all a laugh until that poor woman was taken out by rotted rooofing in Wolverhampton and it was raining scaffolding in London. I didnt even go for my lunch walk on Thursday because the winds on Wednesday were already so bad on the bridges I cross.

      Did you eat something Friday to increase amount of stomach acid, hence the illness? I mean if you caught it in your hand it can’t have been too much. I was sitting on a REALLY long bus ride today stuck in traffic and felt like I needed to get off and harf somewhere, but realized it was a combination of a ton of acidic coffee this morning and not much food + the greasy hair of the women in front of me. Jiggling acid = not good. But congrats on the PR!

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        Hmm, not really (the Friday food question). I volunteer at a food waste / food poverty charity on a Friday. We get a lot of overstock / old / etc vegetables (more than even we can even use and give away within a reasonable timeframe, especially as they’re usually wilted / on their last legs by the time we get them) and I normally therefore end up with a vegetable-heavy dinner on a Friday night. Whether or not this was a good meal to run on, it’s what I have every week and has not given me trouble in the past so I’m inclined to think it’s not that…

    2. Hrovitnir*

      That is unpleasant – and I never get why your times seem to map so poorly to how you felt about it a lot of the time. :P The second half is a funny mental image.

    3. Chaordic One*

      Not to sound rude or snarky, but maybe the fact there was a hurricane was God’s way of saying that that particular day was not a good one to go running and to stay home and do something else. (Where I live, we had a blizzard on Thursday, although I did venture out for a while to check on a sick friend.)

  16. SophieChotek*

    I’ve just finished up two WW2 mystery series (the one featuring Maggie Hope, by Sara Elia MacNeal) and the one featuring Clara Vine (by Jane Thynne, who apparently is married to Philip Kerr.) Just finishing up Charles Todd’s newest post-WW1 mystery Racing the Devil. All good series, if one likes the historical mystery thing. Just read a review of a retelling of Beauty and the Beast set in Nazi Germany…but book has not been published in US which has peeved me.

    But I’m kind of in the mood to go back to fantasy with good characters, and maybe a touch of romance. Authors of this that I’ve liked are Lois McMaster Bujold (Vorkosigan, Curse of Chalion), Tamora Pierce (Mastiff), Sharon Shinn (Twelve Houses), Mercedes Lackey (Valdemar), Juliette Mariallier (Blackthorn & Grim), Patricia C. Weede, Naomi Novik, Charlie N. Holmberg (Paper Magician), Sherwood Smith, Galen Beckett, K.E. Mills/Karen Miller, Gail Carriger, Patricia Briggs (Raven Duology, not Mercy Thompson), Terry Pratchett, Terry Brooks, Robin Hobbs, Robin McKinley (Beauty, Chalice, Blue Sword), Dawn Cook, Fiona McKintoch, Elizabeth Moon (Paksenarrion series)…

    Any suggestions? Thanks!

    1. Jen RO*

      I haven’t read most of the authors you listed (except for Pratchett) and I don’t know if it’s your cup of tea, but I’ll throw in a recommendation for something really old-school: Roger Zelazny. The Amber Chronicles is his most famous series (especially the first five – small! – books). He’s my favorite author and I think he’s brilliant.

      1. SophieChotek*

        Thanks will look them up. (I think a friend just told me about his book the other day….but I didn’t write it down.)

    2. Aurora Leigh*

      Connie Willis! I just finished Crosstalk, which is a romantic comedy with telepathy.

      Also, the rest of Robin McKinley, if you haven’t read all hers. But not the Pegasus book because it ends on a cliffhanger and the rest has not come out 5+ years later, which is frustrating.

      And the Green Rider series by Kristin Britian. I haven’t finished the series yet, but the first 3 were good!

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        Also Anne Elisabeth Stengl!!

        She’s not well known and selfpublished part of the series but her Goldstone Wood books are some of the most well written and deep and beautiful books I have ever read.

      2. SophieChotek*

        Read Green Rider series…and read the other McKinleys (just listed some of my favs to guide people)…
        Don’t know that I’ve read Connie Willis though..so I’ll look those books up.

    3. jamlady*

      I do not like Mercy Thompson at all. Kate Daniels series (Ilona Andrews) is my current favorite and I love the Psy-Changeling series (Nalini Singh). The second can get a bit annoyingly steamy-focused, but it has a great sci-fi/fantasy big picture story and she’s still writing after something like 12 books. I recently ready the first two books of the Kingmaker Chronicles and I liked it (I’m still deciding how I feel about the male lead lol).

      1. SophieChotek*

        Thanks for recs; appreciate it. (I think I found Singh a little too steamy…but I do like good big-arcs…might have to try again..)

    4. katamia*

      Lackey’s Five Hundred Kingdoms books (or whatever the number is?) if you haven’t read those already. They’re fairy tale retellings/expandings/mutations.

      Also, Dawn Cook and Kim Harrison are the same person, so if you haven’t read Kim Harrison’s The Hollows series, you might like those.

      *goes back further into her Goodreads list*

      Daniel Abraham’s Long Spring Quartet was also pretty interesting, although I don’t remember how much romance there was in it. Same with David B. Coe’s Winds of the Forelands and Blood of the Southlands series.

      Alma Alexander’s The Secrets of Jin-shei is really good. I haven’t read the sequel, though.

      People also really seem to love Catherynne Valente, although I haven’t read her yet.

      1. SophieChotek*

        Yes, read Lackeys 500 Kingdom which I’ve enjoyed. Didn’t like Elemental Masters as much.
        Interesting to hear Dawn Cook is the same as Kim Harrison…

        Will look up these authors you’ve mentioned, thanks!

      1. SophieChotek*

        Those are good…I agree. (although I don’t think I’ve read the more recent ones…should check…)

    5. Lore*

      I’ve been enjoying the trilogy by VE Schwab that begins with A Darker Shade of Magic very much. They’re set in an alternate history London but in a multiverse where there’s three different Londons with different relationships to magic.

    6. Bruce H.*

      Lee & Miller’s Liaden books. Far future SF with sprinklings of magic/mysticism.
      I also endorse the Wen Spencer suggestion. The Tinker series is up to four books now.

    7. Ace*

      I’ve read and enjoyed most of the authors you listed, though I’ve only read the Mercy Thompson series and not the Raven one. Did you already read the new Fitz & Fool books put out by Robin Hobb? Only 2 out of the planned 3 are currently out though.

      Tanya Huff is great though I love her sci-fi Valor series the most. Pretty close to the Vorkosigan Saga in terms of how sci-fi-y it is.

      I love Janny Wurt’s Wars of Lights and Shadows though her writing is very florid.

      Love Elizabeth Bear’s novels, the Jenny Casey series is the one I started with.

      Catherynne M. Valente is pretty great. Started with Palimpsest and then read Deathless.

      I prefer Kelley Armstrong’s YA series Darkest Powers & Darkness Rising, but her Women of the Otherworld series is solid too. Those 3 series are all set in the same universe but you don’t have to read Women to get what’s going on in Darkest.

      I haven’t read Anne Bishop’s <a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0159NS6YY?ref=series_rw_dp_labf&quot;.Black Jewels trilogy (which is 8? books now) in a while, but I really enjoyed them when I did.

      Echoing a recommendation from higher up for Green Rider by Kristen Britain

      1. SophieChotek*

        Thank you for all the suggestions.
        (Yes, I have read the new Robin Hobb books too).
        I didn’t love Kelley Armstrong…

    8. Caledonia*

      Have you read Claire North’s novels? The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is especially good. She also has a series called The Gameshouse but I haven’t read them, only her standalone novels.

    9. Liane*

      I enjoy all of Patricia Briggs’ series. Mercy Thompson and the more traditional fantasy duology of Dragon Bones and Dragon Blood are my favorites.

      Susan Collins’ Golgotham books are good too.

      I also like Grace Draven’s Wraith Kings series (Radiance and Eidolon, so far) and her Entreat Me novel. (Warning: These are fantasy romances with X-rated scenes–but they have great characters and plots IMO)

      1. SophieChotek*

        Read Radiance which was interesting; library didn’t have Eidolon though…(yes, I do remember some X-rated scenes LOL…sort of skipped over them…)

        1. Liane*

          (assorted additional comments)

          IMO, Eidolon is even better, and there are more to come in the series. (Per the author, later books will focus on other characters.)

          If you do e-books, a couple suggestions:
          *My library offers Overdrive, which allows you to check out e-books in various formats, including Kindle–which is how I found Wraith Kings
          *They can also be bought on Kindle for under $5.

          DH & I have also discovered that fantasy anthologies with multiple authors’ short stories on a single theme (Christmas, supernatural detective/crime, weddings, etc.) are a good way for us to find new, to us, authors. Or even whole series, since a number of the writers do short stories set in one of their established universes.

    10. PepperVL*

      Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence books. Start with Three Parts Dead.

      It’s fantasy with gods and magic, but the magic is controlled by laws and contracts and the Craft workers overthrew the gods in much of the world. It’s a tense legal battle… done with magic. They’re fantastic. Wonderfully diverse too.

      Also Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows books. They’re heist novels set in a fantasy world. Lots of fun and bad guys doing the right thing for the wrong (or are they the right?) reasons. I will warn you thought that Six of Crows ends on a cliffhanger, so have Crooked Kingdom at hand. Also wonderfully diverse.

    11. AcademiaNut*

      Have you read Bujold’s Sharing Knife series? It’s fantasy with a North American flavour (Mississippi river and Appalachian trail) that was deliberately written as a romance, and is a lovely read. The other books in the Chalion series are also good – there’s Paladin’s Soul, which is fantastic, and Hallowed Hunt, which is not quite as good. Then there are three ebook only novellas in the same setting (the Penric books) which I also really liked (the third has a bit of romance).

      Oh yes – try out Tanya Huff and Guy Gavriel Kay. Huff has a high fantasy series (The Quarters series, four books plus short stories), and The Silvered is a fantastic book with werewolves and steampunkish technology (and a central romance). She also has a bunch of urban fantasy books. Kay writes novels that are based on a fantasy version of periods in earth history with complex plots and lots of characters, but without getting bogged down in it. The Lions of Al-rassan is based on Spain at the end of the Moorish rein, Sailing to Sarantium and Lord of Empires on Constantinople, Last Light of the Sun on medieval England, and Children of Earth sky in Europe in a later historical period. All have some romance and interesting, strong female characters.

      And if you haven’t read it yet, go out right now and get Elizabeth Moon’s follow up to the original Paksenarrion trilogy, which has come out in the last ten years. I think it’s even better than the Paks books (and is set immediately following them).

      Patricia Wrede writes more for a YA audience, but she has some good historical fantasy – the Cecelia and Kate trilogy and the Mairelon duology are Regency era stories with magic (and romance), and the Frontier Magic series is based on an alternate history frontier US.

    12. ValaMalDoran*

      The Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger. Set in a steampunk Victorian London, with vampires and werewolves.

    13. Sorgatani*

      Possibly David Eddings or Kate Forsyth?
      I have read Eddings’ Belgariad, and enjoyed it immensely. He has other books, and Belgariad has a sequel series, but I have not read it yet. Interesting characters and world-lore.

      Forsyth’s writing style compares to McKinley’s in some areas, but some readers dislike her ‘Witches of Eileanan’ series because almost all of the dialogue is written in a pseudo-Scots brogue.
      Her standalone novel ‘Bitter Greens’ retells the story of Rapunzel alongside the story of the lady who first told it.

    14. Becca*

      Silent Hall by NS Dolkart! It’s a character-driven* fantasy novel, and the sequel is coming out in April :3

      * And the characters have personalities that are deep enough that you probably know some people just like them. (Maybe not the girl who grew up in the woods with a wolf, but the other 4 main characters? Totally.)

    15. JanetM*

      Seanan McGuire — the October Daye books and the Incryptid books (both modern urban fantasy, and some romance, but not, as I recall, much in the way of steamy sex).

      Jim Hines — the Libriomancer books (also urban fantasy, sorta).

      James Hetley and his pseudonym James A. Burton (modern, somewhat urban fantasy)

  17. Wistful Obliger*

    This week I noticed a bunch of references to Gretchen Rubin’s work in the comments here. I wasn’t familiar with her before so did some reading of her work, and found it fascinating. Thanks to those mentioned it.

    Here’s my question: I’m pretty clearly an obliger and really, really wish I was motivated to do things for myself as an upholder would. In my case, I’m wondering if that stems from low self-esteem and/or insufficient self-control. Is that true for other obligers? Is it just me? Am I an obliger because I’m just an underdeveloped upholder? (Please don’t interpret this as an insult to other obligers! I’m just drawing on my own experience and wondering how it compares with others.)

    1. NaoNao*

      I think I fall between the Questioner and the Rebel, so I’m not sure how much help I can be! : )

      For me, I see obligations or promises as important, but as I heard “The truth changes: what was true may not be true now.” I tend to struggle keeping diets, habits, saving money, etc. I live very much in the now or in the expectant “next day”.

      If it helps, my mom is an upholder and she is *really* hard on herself and others. She’s a very loving and reliable person but being around her is a never ending stream of remarks about how others are doing it wrong, etc. So it’s not always easy no matter what type you are I think :)

      1. Wistful Obliger*

        That is actually really helpful, thank you. I’m hard on myself but tend to be much more forgiving toward others, and will have to think about this more. I admire the Questioner and Rebel types so much for your independent qualities – and your excellent analytical skills. :)

    2. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Oh, good question! I’m also an Obliger. For me it’s not a self esteem issue, but self control might be – I’m not one for delayed gratification. I’m goal-oriented and competitive which probably has something to do with it. On reflection, I’m probably Obliger with some Upholder tendencies.

      1. Gala apple*

        I am pretty much the same! Obliger; great self-esteem, etc. Also really love Gretchen Rubin– have you listened to her podcast?

        1. Wistful Obliger*

          I haven’t listened to the podcast yet but will add it to my list. Thanks for the recommendation! It’s very heartening to hear from both of you regarding your experiences and understanding of yourselves.

          If you’re willing to share more, do you think there is a reason you’re more willing to comply with external rules than with internal ones? And have you found any good methods for mitigating a tendency to dismiss internal rules/plans?

          1. Gala apple*

            I add external responsibility to my plans to mitigate ;). For example, I have a goal to walk a certain amount of miles a week. I’m telling everyone! Still my goal but now everyone knows and the thought of that keeps me in check.

            As to the reason – no idea; just the way I am!

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I think I’m mainly a rebel, but I make myself be an obliger in order to do the things that I have to do. Otherwise I’m very inclined to do only what I want to do. I try to find ways to make myself want to do the things I have to do, but mainly I just do those things even though doing so sucks.

  18. Turtlewings*

    I’ve recently discovered the glory and wonder that is the crockpot. I HATE cooking so I am overjoyed to find this option where I can just dump stuff in the pot, hit the button and off we go. However, I’m having trouble finding recipes that are (a) truly that simple, (b) stuff that I actually like. I am picky to the point that it probably counts as an eating disorder.

    So I’m looking for crockpot recipes that involve:
    1. NO prior cooking (not even “sautee the garlic first,” I mean NOTHING)
    2. NO vegetables except corn. (Unless it’s clear that I can leave the accursed plant matter out without ruining the dish.)

    1. Allypopx*

      Sunday I’m throwing a pork butt in the slow cooker with some dr pepper and canned chipotle peppers in adobe sauce and ignoring it for 8 hours. I’m very excited.

    2. periwinkle*

      1. Buy a whole chicken or cut-up equivalent, two onions, and two lemons
      2. Cut the onions and lemons into big chunks
      3. Put the chunks in the slow cooker. Put the chicken on top.
      4. Sprinkle some salt and a seasoning of your choice on the chicken.
      5. Cook on low for 5-6 hours.
      6. Eat.

      That’s it.

        1. Aardvark*

          It seems like it’d dry out–you’d probably want to add some liquid (chicken/veggie stock or wine?) and check on it after 4 hours?

    3. all aboard the anon train*

      My favorite crockpot recipes:

      1. Bone-in, skin on chicken thighs. Put them in a single layer, skin side up, and cook on low for 7 hours. No liquid needed. Season as preferred.

      2. Beeftips with gravy. Place 1 – 2 lbs beef tips in crockpot. Mix 2 packets of gravy packets with 2 cups cold water. Pour over beef tips. Cook on low for 8 hours. The beef is fall off your fork tender. Sometimes I throw sliced mushrooms in there for added flavor.

      3. Yankee Pot Roast. Place 2 lbs boneless chuck roast in crockpot. Pour pot roast mix over (McCormick has a good one, other grocery stores have premade liquid ones in bags). Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4. Add carrots and potatoes if you want.

      4. Chicken drumsticks or wings. Place in crockpot and cover with BBQ sauce or other sauce of your choosing. Cook on high for 3-4 hours.

      5. Shredded BBQ chicken. Place 3 to 4 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs in crock pot and pour BBQ sauce over the chicken. Cook on low for 5 – 7 hours until tender enough that it easily falls apart when you use two forks to shred it.

      I think those are all the ones I have that don’t require any cooking or vegetables. Most of my other crockpot recipes have more veggies (like breakfast quiches/frittatas) or at least one step aside from dumping things in the pot.

    4. JHS*

      I buy prepared sauce packs–lifesavers. Try Frontera Grill’s mexican sauces, add beans and veggies (usually garlic, onion, and a prepackaged thing of baby spinach and maybe a pepper) and put it on low for 6 hours. Also, you can buy jars of different Indian sauces, which are delicious. I love doing those with lentils and veggies and putting over quinoa or brown rice.

    5. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I like to make crockpot tacos. Boneless skinless chicken breasts, a jar of salsa, and a bag of frozen corn. Cook on low for 8 hours and shred with a fork.

      1. Juli G.*

        I do a variation of this called Aztec chicken. Add black beans and garlic powder to what you described. In the last 30 minutes, add cream cheese. Serve on tortillas, tortilla chips, or rice.

    6. MoodyMoody*

      If you can stomach onions, here’s a good bean soup recipe from Sweet and Simple… and a Little Bit Crazy:

      1 lb of dried White Northern Beans, rinsed and sorted through
      about 1 lb of ham, large pieces
      3 (14.5 oz each) cans of chicken stock
      1 medium white onion, diced

      Make it:
      1. Place all ingredients in crockpot. Cook on low for 8 hours.

      It’s also good with other kinds of beans. I’ve also made it with black-eyed peas (great for New Year’s!) and black beans. Don’t use kidney beans, though; kidney beans need to be boiled for at least 10 minutes to kill a harmful enzyme. I also include a ham bone when I have one.

    7. beem*

      Put a chuck roast in. Cover with BBQ sauce. Low for a bunch of hours. High for less hours. Shred. High for one more hour.

        1. Juli G.*

          My grocery store even has already marinated ones. I throw that in the crockpot, microwave two bags of steamable veggies, and put out some bread or rolls… I look like one of those good mothers. :)

    8. Colette*

      Boneless, skinless chicken thighs.

      Coat with 1/4 cup flour.
      1/2 cup orange juice
      3/4 cup BBQ sauce
      1 packet dry onion soup

      Cook on low 7-8 hours. Server with pasta.

    9. chickabiddy*

      I usually bring this this to potlucks (often by request) and am embarrassed when people ask for the recipe because it is so easy that it doesn’t deserve to be a “recipe”.

      Chuck roast, 3-4 pounds, in the pot.
      1/2 package “zesty” Italian salad dressing mix over the roast.
      Pour out the half the vinegar from a 12(ish)-ounce bottle of banana peppers and dump it in too.

      Cook 8 hours, shred, serve on rolls. Leftovers mixed with red sauce are absolutely fabulous over pasta.


      Another favorite. The woman who gave me the recipe called it “Thai” but it tastes more African to me; either way, it’s probably pretty inauthentic but still quite tasty.

      3 pounds boneless skinless chicken — I usually use a mixture of breasts and thighs — in the pot.

      Mix together (very, very forgiving so I don’t measure, just eyeball and dump):

      1/2 cup peanut butter
      1 cup salsa (mellows considerably in cooking so medium salsa makes mild dish and hot makes medium)
      3 tablespoons soy sauce
      juice of one lime
      teaspoon dried cilantro

      Pour over chicken, cook 8 hours, serve over rice.

    10. Chilleh*

      This is about as lazy as you can get, but I highly support it. Take some pork, put it in the pot, dump some marinade over it (I like Litehouse Sweet Onion Dressing the most, it’s usually in the refrigerated section). Cook to your heart’s content. It’s edible as is.

      I usually fuss with it a bit more with seasonings and veggies. I like cajun seasoning salt and some garlic powder. If you don’t mind potatoes, I also cut mini potatoes in half and set them on the bottom before putting the pork on top. In terms of pork cut, we’ve done this with tenderloin and shoulder and it’s turned out great. If I don’t use potatoes, an hour before it’s done I’ll usually put some brown rice in my rice cooker and call it a day.

    11. AliceBD*

      I cook chicken in the crockpot to have on hand, and I got my grandmother hooked on it too.

      I use boneless skinless chicken breasts because they take the least effort. So buy a package of chicken breasts. Spray Pam (nonstick spray) into the crockpot bottom and sides; you will regret this if you don’t do it. Open the package of chicken breasts and put them into the crockpot. If you care you can add mustard or BBQ sauce or other herbs or spices, but that is entirely optional and up to you. Put the lid on and turn on high for 4ish hours or until the meat reaches a safe temperature. They fall apart when you’re done, you need no extra liquid, and they take about a minute (literally) to prep and start cooking if you don’t use any spices or sauces.
      Similar recipes may work with other meat but I haven’t tried it so I can’t say for certain.

      I don’t know if beans count as vegetables to you. They don’t to me, so I’ll include this recipe, but forgive me if they do to you.
      Vegetarian chili is really easy. Open a bunch of cans of beans you like (like pinto beans, black beans, kidney beans), drain the liquid off and rinse them (rinse may be optional? IDK my mom always does it so I do too), and then dump them in the crockpot. Throw some spices in; amount and type up to you. I can’t tell if you like corn or just don’t hate it; if you like it you can also add a can or two of corn. (For people other than Turtlewings, an onion and a couple of green peppers, all chopped into small pieces, may be added for color, but I don’t notice a difference in flavor.) Put it on low for 8 hours (or less if you have a smaller crockpot/have it less full — maybe start with 6 and check on it?). This freezes really well in small containers so if you have the freezer space you can make a huge batch, freeze it in smaller containers, and then not have to think about dinner.

    12. LadyKelvin*

      I probably cook 2-3 days a week in my crockpot, so I want to give you what i recommend putting in (and what I don’t recommend cooking in a crockpot). Basically, you can cook anything that is tough, has bones, or has a lot of fat. So chicken thighs but not chicken breat, pork sholder/butt roasts are great, you can add your favorite bbq sauce for delicious sandwhiches, pork tenderlion will overcook really easily. Fatty cuts of beef like ground beef, or brisket or cheap roasts are great, lean roasts will overcook. Then you can add gravy (no dairy) or bbq sauce, or or favorite sauce addition and cook all day. If you are looking for a specific recipe, I would recommend the Crockpot Cookbook, made by the makers of crockpot. It has a good number of good recipes.

    13. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Thekitchndotcom has some good, easy slow cooker recipes. I just found one for poaching chicken breasts to make shredded chicken for tacos, etc. (Every time I try to poach chicken on the stove I overcook it, so I’m giving this a try.)

    14. M*

      Salsa chicken – dump 6 chicken breasts, a tub of cream cheese, and a jar of salsa into crockpot. Heat on high for 4-5 hours or low for 7-8 hours, it’s done when chicken shreds with a fork. Serve with tortillas or over rice.

      1. IowaGirl*

        Add a can of untrained black beans and a can of drained corn. My kids call this “purple chicken”!

    15. Temperance*

      I regularly do shredded chicken in mine. I coat chicken with taco seasoning and cover it in chicken stock. High for 4 hours or low for 8.

    16. NYC Redhead*

      Mississippi Roast. You can google it, but it’s a piece of beef, a stick of butter, a packet of ranch dressing and pepperocini,which you might leave in for flavor but throw out before you eat. It’s the most popular recipe on the Internet and the NYT did a piece on it.

    17. Clumsy Ninja*

      Turkey breast – can go in still frozen. 1/4-1/2 cup apple juice, sprinkle with salt & pepper, turn on low for 6-8 hours. Done.

    18. Clumsy Ninja*

      Shredded beef sandwiches
      1 beef roast
      1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
      1 onion, thinly sliced (I like the flavor of onion, but not the texture, so I usually use minced dried onion instead)
      1 teaspoon garlic salt
      1 teaspoon black pepper
      1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

      Put the roast in the slow cooker. Pour vinegar over the top. Sprinkle with spices and top with the onion slices. Cover and cook on low for 8+ hours or high for 4+ hours. Shred with two forks. Serve on rolls with whatever you like.

    19. Dreaming of summer*

      2 cans of cream of mushroom soup + Liptons onion soup mix + a chunk of meat makes a divine meat and gravy dish. I’ve used this with turkey breat roast and pork loin very successfully.

    20. PepperVL*

      I have several that involve no prep except measuring ingredients and possibly cutting the meat to fit in your crock pot. One thing I love to do is make them all on a Sunday (and by “make” I mean throw all the ingredients in a gallon size freezer bag) and throwing them in the freezer. Then, when I want to make them in the morning, I take the bag out of the freezer and stick it in the crock pot. I don’t even thaw the night before because I have my crock pot set up on a timer to start the appropriate amount of time before I get home. If you don’t have a fancy crock pot with a timer, buy a light timer for a couple of bucks and plug your regular crock pot into that.

      Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches:
      1.5 cups of buffalo sauce
      ~2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken
      1 packet ranch dressing mix

      Throw those all in the crockpot for 7 hours on low (3.5 on high). Shred chicken with about a half hour left. If you want, throw in bleu cheese crumbles then. Serve on hoagie rolls with bleu cheese or ranch dressing.

      Chicken Tacos:
      1 packet ranch dressing mix
      ~1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken
      1 brick (8 oz.) cream cheese
      1 cup pico de gallo (you could substitute 1 can of corn)

      Throw it all in the crock pot for 8 hours on low (4 hours on high). Serve on tortillas with whatever toppings you’d like (though it doesn’t need any).

      Apple Cherry Pork Loin:

      1 cup dice Apple
      ¾ cups Apple Juice
      ½ cups Water
      1 cup pit Cherry
      ½ cups dice Onion
      ½ cups dice Celery
      ⅛ teaspoons Salt
      ⅛ teaspoons Black Pepper
      2 pounds Boneless Pork Loin

      Put everything in the crock pot and cook for 8 hours on low (or 4 hours on high). I imagine you could easily leave out the onion & celery

      Honey Romano Pork Chops:
      2-3 pounds of Pork Chops
      3/4 cup of Romano (already grated) cheese
      1/2 cup of honey
      1/4 cup of soy sauce
      2 T of dried Basil
      2 T of minced garlic
      2 T of olive oil
      2 T of corn starch
      1/4 C of water

      Cook for 8 hours on low (4 hours on high). Garnish with additional shredded Romano.

      Chicken teryaki:
      1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
      1/2 cup chicken broth
      1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
      1/4 cup soy sauce
      4 cloves garlic, minced
      1 teaspoon sesame oil
      3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
      1 green onion, thinly sliced for garnish
      Sesame seeds, for garnish

      Cook for 3.5 hours on low. Shred chicken, cook for another 30 minutes on low.

      Honey Parmesan Chicken:
      4 Chicken Breasts
      3/4 cup of Parmesan Cheese
      1/2 cup of honey
      1/4 cup of soy sauce
      2 T of dried Basil
      2 T of minced garlic
      2 T of olive oil

      Cook for 4-6 hours on low. Garnish with additional shredded Parmesan.

      This one involves cooking rice separately just before you serve. Not sure if that’s a deal breaker or not.

      Orange Apricot Pork Chops:
      3 pounds Pork Chops, Boneless
      1 cup Apricot Jam
      3 tablespoons Brown Sugar
      1 teaspoon mince Garlic, Cloves
      ½ teaspoons Salt
      ½ teaspoons Black Pepper
      ¼ teaspoons Cumin
      ¼ teaspoons Chili Powder
      ¼ teaspoons Ginger, Ground
      11 ounces Mandarin Oranges, Canned

      Cook for 8 hours on low. Serve over rice.

    21. committee member*

      Ranch chicken: 2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 2 packages of cream cheese, 1 package Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix. Cook on low 6-8 hours. Then shred.

  19. Myrin*

    On the train to my grandparents’ last week I met one of those people who are probably the cause of so many OPs’ thinking they can’t just walk up to their coworkers and talk to them about [behaviour], fearing they’ll react in a completely inappropriate and unreasonable manner.

    This guy in his late thirties sat across the aisle from me and was listening to music (headphones on) while I was working on my laptop. Suddenly, he turned the volume up to a significant degree. I didn’t say anything at first, thinking he might have hit the wrong button or maybe the volume of this one particular song – which sounded weirdly like a sung prayer – but after some time it really got to me; I couldn’t concentrate, it was annoying, and the way I could hear the songs a bit but not really was swiftly giving me a headache. So I moved over and politely asked him if he could turn the volume down a bit.

    His reaction, after my needing to repeat myself three times because he didn’t hear me?

    Erm. How is it in any way not clear why someone in a public and otherwise quiet place would ask you to turn the volume of your music down a bit? Having expected an apology, not confusion, I was taken aback for a moment and then said “Because it’s somewhat loud?!” and he became really aggressive and insisted it wasn’t loud. Like what the hell man, be a bit considerate, will you? Especially since he then turned around and turned the volume down significantly anyway, so why get overtly angry about it in the first place?

    1. JHS*

      I had a weird similar experience recently. For the first time in years my husband was able to meet me downtown for lunch during the work week. He can never leave work during his shifts so it was sort of special for us. We went to this restaurant that is not fancy at all, but also not Chipotle–an in between so it’s a seat yourself and you order at the counter then they bring the food to you but the food is served in nice dishes etc. The only table open was in between two other tables with a banquette on one side so we slid the table out and I went in.

      This girl was sitting at the table next to us and she had her bag halfway in my seat, which I politely scooted over towards her when we sat down (she didn’t offer to move it herself). She was sitting there with her laptop out and clearly had just got a coffee and wanted to use the space to work rather than ordering lunch. This is a very busy place and people who had ordered lunch were waiting for tables. The table we were at was tiny and we had ordered lunches which came with side things (bread, salad etc) and our table had two vases with flowers in them, which was sort of odd and it was clogging up the table. I look over and guess who didn’t have one on her table?

      Just as a side note, her laptop was one of those 12″ smaller laptops and she didn’t have any papers out so she had lots of open table space. I said to her “oh I think this vase actually belongs on your table” VERY sweetly, not with any tone or anything and she was like “I have no room for that on my table, you can’t put it there. I need all my space for working” in a snotty tone! My husband and I are looking at the almost one square foot of room on her table, which clearly had originally had the vase on it and was moved by her in disbelief! We ended up putting on the chair opposite her next to my husband, but still in her “space.” She got up in a huff and just left! Good riddance to her but the level of entitlement was insane. It was so rude! This is in a college town mind you where the students have a reputation for being entitled, and she definitely fit the mold, which is sad since definitely NOT all of the students are like that.

      1. Lily Evans*

        This is a work example, but I had to explain to a student twice that sitting in the middle of the library’s staircase was not an appropriate place to have a phone interview. Her explanation was that she needed a private place for it and I was just like, so you chose the only staircase in a reasonably busy library?

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          “I needed a private space, so naturally I chose the middle of a very public space.” Yeah, make total sense. /s

    2. NaoNao*

      Yeah I think what happens is (and this is reading a lot into it) what he meant was “Why are your needs and desires more important than my desire to blast music in my ears whenever I want!?”
      There’s a certain type of person who, shall we say, “doesn’t get out much” and constructs a world where they *can* do whatever they want, and everything always goes their way. My ex was sort of like this: he was a single dad with a “minion” child who worshiped him and never argued about anything or made any requests/spoke up for himself. So he could eat whatever he wanted, blast video games, stay up with lights burning at all hours (side note: isn’t it funny we still talk like lights are candles or gas!), madly switch through the channels, blare the news in the AM, just all the world’s most annoying habits.
      Then when we got together I was like “um, how about you lower the volume? I can hear it all the way upstairs?” and he would get huffy, angry, and “confused” —like “why is this a problem for you? *I’m* enjoying it and that’s all that matters!”

      That’s where this guy is coming from: “I’m enjoying it and if you want me to stop enjoying it, you have to give me an ironclad reason (Spoiler: there is no reason good enough) to stop.”

    3. Sydney Bristow*

      The subway entrance by my office was a disaster for a few weeks, until recently. There are 2 escalators, one up and one down during the evening rush, but one of them was out of service so there was only the up escalator. There is a narrow set of stairs that everyone who was trying to get down to the platform had to use and it is just wide enough for 2 people. So imagine hundreds of people two by two trying to get down this super long staircase quickly. Almost ever day there would be one person who disregarded what was happening and try to walk up the stairs, which causes a huge backup as people try to squeeze out of the way for this person who easily could have taken the escalator up. Every day. All of us who use the station regularly are totally annoyed. I took to yelling at people at the bottom of the stairs who were about to start walking up them. Other people trying to get down the stairs either did the same or thanked me for trying to stop the oblivious people. So I’m feeling all assertive.

      …Then I get on the train, go a few stops, and wind up with a 20-something-year-old guy next to me playing a game on his phone with the sound all the way up. It was almost ear level with me and truly very loud. I could hear it loudly through my own music that was playing at a normal volume through my headphones. Did I ask the guy to turn it down? No. I was totally afraid that he’d have the same reaction your guy had. I guess I’m only assertive in certain circumstances. I guarantee almost everyone in our vicinity wanted to ask him to turn it down but none of us did. I think we were all too afraid of getting a rude response.

  20. Wedding Bells*

    I need some wedding etiquette advice: basically what is considered a good reason to skip a wedding.

    It’s only been recently as I’ve hit my mid-20’s that weddings have popped up in my life. I’ve been a guest to two and a bridesmaid in two others. So far I’ve not declined an invitation but now I might. There are two weddings I’ve been invited to this summer: one a friend’s, and one my aunt. Neither are local weddings; they’d require airfare and hotels. Both of these are people who I haven’t seen or spoken to in at least three years due to the distance between us. For the friend, I simply don’t think I can afford it, especially with the wedding taking place on a holiday weekend, which will jack up airfare prices immensely. For the aunt, my travel costs would all be covered since this is a family gathering but the wedding is taking place the same weekend as an event that I’ve been a long-time attendee/volunteer for and I’d really rather not miss it if I can; I’d like to keep the semi-commitment I’ve given to them. I’m a little more worried about this one because I know my family doesn’t understand why I enjoy spending time at this event and would choose it over a family gathering but saying that I already agreed and put money toward it (which is also true) would probably quiet them down.

    Last year, I was surprised a friend missed out on a family member’s wedding because it clashed with a once-a-year work training she didn’t want to miss. I felt honored to be invited and that I should do my best to attend barring extreme circumstances. But now I’m on the other side of this debate with wanting to skip out on two weddings for financial and personal reasons. I think my reasons are fairly legit but still feel guilty over it.

    So am I committing a huge breach in family/friend etiquette by skipping these weddings? Is there a ‘bad reason’, vs something a little more acceptable, to skip a wedding?

    1. Allypopx*

      Neither are local weddings; they’d require airfare and hotels.

      That’s all you need. Even for the aunt, it’s still a major inconvenience, and not being able to make the trip out is a perfectly legitimate excuse. People who want to discourage attendance at their weddings often plan destination weddings so they don’t need to feel guilty about trimming their guest list but can still anticipate a lower turnout.

      Your family situation and how they’ll react, I can’t comment on. But ideally “Sorry, I have a conflict I can’t get out of, and the trip would be a timing hardship for me” would cover it.

      I’ve turned down a few weddings this year. I just hate weddings and I’m not willing to go for people I’m not super close to. You have really legitimate excuses here.

      1. copy run start*

        Yup. I’ve skipped a couple family weddings for this reason. One in particular was in a major city in the most expensive hotel in the city and was black tie on a Saturday night, so even flying in/out would’ve required 3 nights in a $500/night hotel due to the way flights worked from here in Nowhere, Flyoverland. I was invited as an usher and told if I wanted to attend I had to purchase a $200 dress. I think it has been at least 7 years since I’d seen this cousin, but because it was on the same “coast” I am on, opposite of the rest of the family, and the bride’s family supposedly “had contacts” in my industry and was “old money,” I was supposed to attend.

        I firmly declined after pointing out that hotel fees alone were more than my monthly take-home pay at the time and added that I “couldn’t get the time off work” as a kicker for those who tried to help pay. Rumor has it most of the family was subsidized by a couple of well-off aunts and uncles. Even my dad, who is all for blowing money stupidly, decided not to go. No regrets!

        As for the friend, that seems like a no-brainer if you haven’t even talked in three years.

    2. Jen RO*

      If you haven’t spoken to the friend in three years and it’s very expensive, I would skip it without any doubts.

    3. JHS*

      Just return the reply card checking no but with a sweet note like “So sorry to miss this beautiful celebration! Wishing you love and happiness on this joyous occasion!” and everyone will think you’re sweet as sugar.

    4. the gold digger*

      Nope. I have skipped many weddings, including those of relatives. I have not had the cash to fly to another city, rent a car, and stay in a hotel. Even just flying can be super expensive.

    5. Detective Amy Santiago*

      an invitation is not a summons

      especially if you have to take time off work and fork out money for airfare and accommodations

    6. Sarah in DC*

      I think especially for friends you haven’t spoken to in 3 years I don’t want to and/or its not in my budget is a perfectly good reason to not go. Ideally that would be a good enough reason for anyone but of course it’s not always that easy. I think I have a prior commitment that weekend and don’t want to/not in the budget is a good enough reason for a family member you also haven’t spoken to in 3 years.

    7. really*

      A wedding invitation is not a royal summons. You don’t have to go even if the church was next door to you. RSVP no and send a nice card wishing the couple well. Sending a gift/check is optional.

    8. mreasy*

      Any reason is fine! Seriously. Just let them know with plenty of advance notice. If they’re not immediate family or close friends, it will be fine.

    9. LadyKelvin*

      Nope. It is totally ok to miss a family member’s wedding, no matter your reason. I had a cousin miss my wedding last minute because their son was invited to play in an elite soccer tournament that weekend and they had to travel from out of town to go to my wedding. It was completely ok. Maybe my family is a little more easy going but I would actually be more willing to miss a family event because I know my family would be understanding and still love me but a friend might not be so forgiving. And a reasonable person (no matter if they are family or friends) would understand that it is expensive to travel for a wedding. When our friends couldn’t make it to ours for the same reason, we understood. I would say, decline the invite, if they ask why say you can’t afford it, and if they don’t react reasonably, well then you have learned that your family values the appearance of being together more than your personal financial solvency.

    10. Observer*

      The friend wedding – totally skip. You don’t need any explanation except for “I’m sorry I can’t make it.” + Best wishes. As Miss Manners says, and invitation is not a royal summons.

      The family thing is a bit more complicated, not because of etiquette but because of family dynamics. There is nothing odd or rude about you wanting to go to this event rather than the wedding, but you need to figure out whether the family fall out is worth it. Keep in mind that if someone else is ready to foot the bill (airfare and hotel) that indicates that it’s a really big deal to someone.

    11. neverjaunty*

      You can skip because you’d rather be elsewhere; what you can’t do is be surprised and hurt if your family takes that as a statement about your relationship with them.

    12. Mephyle*

      The only etiquette breach would be if you tried to explain. The thing to do is not to give reasons why you have to decline. No matter how legitimate your reasons are, to a happy couple it can sound like “I don’t care about you enough to go into debt to go to your wedding.” “I don’t care enough about you to miss super-important job event for your wedding.”
      So you send your effusive regrets, your effusive best wishes, a really nice card, a present if you can, and do what you have to do, but make no excuses.

  21. AvonLady Barksdale*

    An update to my house drama: last Monday, my boyfriend texted me with a picture of a “Coming Soon” sign in the yard (they put it up while he was out, and our poor dog was super freaked out). At that point, we had heard nothing about showings, listings, whatever. Then this past Monday, I got an email from my landlord with his real estate agent cc’d, asking for my phone number so she could call me.

    I responded and said that the best way to get in touch was to text or email both me and my boyfriend (who hadn’t been on any of this correspondence for some reason, as if they forget he’s on the lease too), which would save time (and give us a written record). The real estate agent responded almost immediately with big thanks. She also told us she had an interested investor who wanted to come by, and could we please give her some dates and times that would work best for us to be out and for our dog to be out as well. The email was quick and professional, and I actually exhaled a bit– maybe it wouldn’t be so bad, maybe she would respect our space, etc. I responded the next morning saying that Wednesdays would be fine, as that’s the day our dog goes to daycare, and I gave her a couple of times on upcoming Saturdays that would work. I said, “Please let us know if this won’t work and we’ll figure something out.”

    Since then? No response. Nothing. Not a peep. It’s been nearly a week! Not even a, “Thanks, got it, I will keep you posted.” What is so wrong with people that they can’t respond to an email in a timely manner? This wasn’t a social call, it was setting up a time for you to come into my home and inconvenience me. Uncertainty stresses me out. All I want is a freaking response.

    Also, some more weirdness: I re-read our lease and realized that on the first lease we signed, our landlords were the husband and wife. The second lease was just the husband. Curiouser and curiouser.

    1. Allypopx*

      That would drive me nuts, but at least you have some intrigue you can make up elaborate stories about in your head.

    2. Mimmy*

      I’m the same way with uncertainty, especially with unanswered emails or phone calls! I hope they get back to you soon. I’ve been following this and they sound like a nightmare!

    3. bunniferous*

      Might be a flaky investor who is not giving the agent an answer on times. It happens. But let me reassure you the agent will work with you precisely because he or she WANTS you and the dog to be out and it is in her best interest to communicate.

    4. tigerStripes*

      Sometimes people don’t respond because they don’t realize that it would be helpful. Maybe they thought they didn’t have to answer since those times would work.

      I agree that it’s annoying.

    5. Anono-me*

      I myself would probably follow us with a second email and say “Just to be clear, these are the times most convenient for you to schedule showings. However unless a showing is specifically scheduled we will be home relaxing at these times and neither we nor the house will be ready for visitors. Please contact us at least X days in advance of a showing per the lease/law.”

      Good luck.

  22. Advice Please*

    Question about boundaries?

    I have a friend crashing on my couch for a bit. My boyfriend is fine with her staying with us, but he’s worried about my ability to maintain distance and not get overinvolved.

    She’s coming off months of unsuccessful job hunting and she’s pretty depressed. She made a very last minute decision to come here, waiting until the night before to find housing for her cat (my house was a standing invitation but she can’t bring her cat). I helped arrange a place, researched places she could leave her car, etc. I’ve offered to help her financially with some of these things on a loan-basis, and boyfriend is super not okay with that, but won’t tell me what to do with my money. Turns out I don’t actually need to shell out any money right now; it’s worked out without that.

    He and I are both frustrated that she handled the move the way she did. She put it off until the last minute because she was hoping something would come through. He is firmly in the camp of “she’s an adult, she’s responsible for herself, we can offer space so she’s not on the streets, but if she crashes and burns outside of that it’s her mess to clean up, not ours.” But I know she’s having a hard time emotionally and psychologically, and while I don’t want (or intend) to let her take advantage of me, I know she’s struggling and want to give her a little bit of a cushion. Also if there are opportunities for me to help her job hunt or motivate her otherwise, it gets her out of my house faster.
    Is he right? He’s worried because I have a lot on my plate in general and he doesn’t want me putting a lot of emotional energy into this. He wants me to take care of myself. But she needs a friend right now, and I want to be supportive.

    We both have separate histories with her. She and I worked together for years and they lived together for a long time.

    1. KR*

      At this point I would encourage her to find something retail/food service/childcare/entry level. Even if it’s not her ideal job, she may be able to support herself or pay you some rent while she searches for something else. Also, I would agree on timelines with your boyfriend and then with her so that everyone knows that it won’t be indefinite.

      1. Advice Please*

        We’re giving her two months. She has a field that’s hard to break into and she’s very worried about taking “throwaway” jobs and having it hold her back. There’s also a real chance that if she ends up on that route her (horrible, emotionally abusive, hate them so much) parents would force her to move home. They’re perpetuating this idea that she’s a failure.

        1. Feathers McGraw*

          She needs to get a job, then she can be more picky.

          I think you are in danger of becoming her rescuer. It’s lovely that you want to help but sometimes helping someone actually keeps reinforcing their problems and stops them helping themselves.

          1. Anonyby*

            Seconding this!

            I’m actually dealing with something similar right now. I have a cousin who has been on a downward slide since he hit high school. He’ll be 28 in a couple weeks, and his parents finally worked up the resolve to kick him out for good. Then a week ago he started crashing on our front porch, despite my dad telling him EVERY DAY that he couldn’t stay there. (And we couldn’t let him in, because it would just reinforce his issues.) It took a week for Dad to get frustrated enough that he wasn’t too upset when his gf (who also lives with us) called the cops.

            We all want to help cousin, but there is absolutely nothing we can do to help him, and he can’t impose himself on us.

          2. Advice Please*

            *nod* That’s what boyfriend is worried about, definitely.

            You guys are right – I knew that. Boyfriend is very laid back and doesn’t put his foot down on much unless he feels strongly. He clearly feels strongly about this.

            It’s going to be extremely emotionally trying for me to have her around if she’s making poor decisions about her life. Watching someone you love self destruct in your space and not interfering is hard. Any advice on that? Advice that isn’t “don’t let her be in your space,” ideally. I’m putting limits on that but I’m not rescinding the offer.

        2. Observer*

          Her parents can’t “force” her to do anything. She’s an adult, and that’s all there is to is.

          If she’s worried about their manipulation, you can be sure that not having ANY job will play into their game far more surely than a “throwaway” job.

        3. neverjaunty*

          No. Setting aside the fact that it’s a long time, two months could give her legal rights as a tenant.

    2. Colette*

      I’m with your boyfriend. You can’t run her life for her, and trying will just cause resentment. What you can (and should) do is be clear about what you’re offering – how long can she stay, what is she responsible for while she’s there (chores, living standards, and money), etc.

    3. Lily Evans*

      Would it be helpful to have a specific time frame for how long she can stay with you? I feel like when situations like these are left open ended they can very easily snowball into “my friend’s been sleeping on my couch for six months and won’t leave” scenarios. Giving a time frame that you’re 100% serious about sticking to might push her to regroup faster and make your boyfriend feel more comfortable knowing that there’s an end date to your generosity.

      1. Advice Please*

        We’ve said two months but I’m not terribly confident I’ll stick to that if push comes to shove (though I’m not saying that). But I’d have to convince him to extend it so I don’t think I’ll get bowled over there.

        1. misspiggy*

          Perhaps think of sticking to the deadline as helpful for your friend. She will feel a lot better about herself if she can get on her feet, even if that means a temporary job. (I don’t think I’ve seen anyone do better in life through not taking a temporary job, FWIW.) She will need real focus on a real deadline to make herself do the unpleasant tasks of getting work and finding somewhere to live. You can always tell her that your boyfriend will leave you if you don’t stick to the deadline…

    4. Happymammy*

      I think your boyfriend has valid concerns but only you know how close a friend she is to you. I have friends whom i would let sleep in my house and would do everything in my power to support them getting their life on track, and I have acquaintances who I would give couch space to but not get emotionally involved. Only you can decide which she is to you.

      If you live in a country with a social welfare system then look into what rights she has regarding government assistance. If you live in a country that doesn’t have a social welfare system then encourage her to take any job to pay the bills while she looks around.

      1. Advice Please*

        He and I are definitely coming it at it from different perspectives where they are good friends, but she is easily my best friend, which makes it harder for me. 99% of people I would not let stay in my house. I’m very territorial. I’m still not over the time his friends dog sat for us and left the house a mess.

        1. Happymammy*

          It’s obviously entirely your decision. But if you want an alternate perspective it may help to know that for my absolute best friend I would probably give a 6 month limit and help with looking for jobs and give as much emotional support as I could. But we’re pretty close. For less close friends like I said it would just be couch space and minimal emotional involvement.

          It’s entirely up to you how much you are willing to get involved. Your boyfriend obviously has a say in how long she stays at your joint place and 2 months is a reasonable time to give. But it’s not inappropriate for you to give her emotional support if you want to. She is your best friend after all. If you want to give emotional support then you can do that with or without your boyfriends agreement. If you don’t want to give emotional support then you don’t have to. It’s up to you.

    5. MommyMD*

      Don’t save your grown adult friend at the expense of your life. Any money you give to her will be a gift. There will be no “loan” or paying back. Watch your residency laws or you may find yourself with the guest that chooses not to leave.

    6. AcademiaNut*

      A few comments –

      Check the tenancy laws for your area. It’s possible that after two months living with you, even without paying rent, she could count as a tenant, and you would have to go through formal eviction proceedings and notice periods before she moves out.

      If you give her money, do it fully expecting that is will be a gift, and will not be repayed.

      Keep in mind that giving her a place to live may give her housing, but less of an incentive for getting a job. So keep an eye on how she’s approaching this – if she’s applying for whatever job will pay the bills, and submitting applications and taking interviews seriously and working hard, then a short extension might not be a problem. If she’s being selective about applying for her dream jobs, expecting that you’ll step up and make sure she’s got a place to live, you could have her living with you indefinitely.

      Two months of someone crashing on your couch is quite a long time, particularly if she’s literally crashing on your couch, meaning that you’ll have someone in your common space all the time. And if she’s unemployed, she really could be there almost all the time. So after two months, you might be a lot less likely to want to have her stay longer.

      If you do need to ask her to move out before she finds a job and saves enough money to get a place of her own, be careful not to blame your boyfriend (as in “I’d be happy to have you stay longer, but BF objects). Share the inconvenience and share the blame, because a best friend who hates your BF for kicking her out will be a problem.

    7. neverjaunty*

      Stop worrying about her and take a look inward: what is it that you find rewarding about helping your friend adult?

    1. Hrovitnir*

      Hey! I’m from Wellington (well, born in Hamilton, raised in Chch, been in Wellington 15 years). I’m currently overseas though. :) I’m in Sweden, which is really pretty, but I am kind of missing the green.

    2. ScarlettNZ*

      I’m in Dunedin. Spent 12 years wandering the world and found myself back home (much to my surprise but I love it!).

        1. Hrovitnir*

          Dunedin is awesome! It’s my second favourite place after Wellington. :) Depending where you’re from it might seem pretty small.

          1. TL -*

            I grew up in a town of less than 1000, and have lived in cities of varying sizes since then, so I’m not too worried.

            Plus, I hear there’s penguins nearby!

            1. Hrovitnir*

              There are indeed penguins! And in that case it might seem big? :D

              I always wonder how weird it is if you come from a country in any of the Americas/Europe to NZ where we have no native mammals except bats and seals, and overall pretty unique endemic fauna, that’s generally pretty sneaky.

              I know I’m pretty excited by squirrels and other things that are not so exciting to people from those countries – but of course, I’m excited by all animals (including inverts) in all countries, so there’s that. I hope you like it! I’d totally be up for a AAM meetup in Dunedin some time when I’m back in NZ if that’s a thing people do here (my sister lives there. Or Wellington obviously since I actually live there.)

        2. ScarlettNZ*

          Welcome! Are you moving here for work? Dunedin is actually a pretty cool wee city (I think of it as a smaller version of Wellington). I’m happy to answer any questions you may have.

          1. TL -*

            Ooh! I don’t know if you’ll see this but I’m moving there for school. I won’t have a car but am thinking I’ll buy a bike when I get there – how’s the public transit/walking/biking situation?

            1. ScarlettNZ*

              So you’re going to be studying at the same place I work! Public transport isn’t great in Dunedin to be honest, although it does depend on which bus route you live on (the Normandy/St Clair route is the most frequent – that basically runs from one end of Dunedin to the other, right past the Uni and through the main shopping street). Buses run every 10 minutes peak time on that one, but others can be only every 30 minutes or so. Dunedin is also quite hilly and not really that bike-friendly, but, having said that, the powers that be are about to spend several million dollars installing a cycleway through the centre of town and cycleways in other parts of the city have already been established.

              Plenty of people commute by walking – while I’m assuming you won’t want to live in party central which are the streets right around the University, there are lots of rental properties in close proximity in areas such as City Rise, Opoho and North East Valley.

  23. Canadian Natasha*

    Hello AAMers!
    I have a question for anyone who’s travelled internationally, esp. in France:

    How much local currency do you usually get ahead of time and how often did you use cash vs credit or debit? I have a two week trip booked this summer for southern France and I am debating whether to buy euros now or wait. And I’m unsure how much of my spending/food money should be cash. This is my first solo international trip so I don’t have previous experience to draw from.

    I’m also looking into getting a credit card without currency conversion charges but I know I’ll need cash for some things.

    Any advice appreciated!

    1. katamia*

      Haven’t been to France, but I lived in Taiwan for a few months in 2015 and went to Scotland last year. A lot of it is going to come down to your preferences, honestly.

      I love credit cards. I pay mine off in full every month, I get okay (not fabulous, but they exist) benefits from it, and it’s a lot easier/more convenient for me to just use a credit card than to mess around with cash, especially coins. I have one credit card with no foreign transaction fees and am looking into getting another. I almost never have cash on me in my daily life, and if I could go the rest of my life without ever using cash, I would be ecstatic. Buuuuuuuuuuuut a lot of people do just fine using primarily/only cash and don’t like or don’t have credit cards, and both people like me and people like that can have perfectly good international trips.

      There are also debit cards you can get that have no/low foreign ATM fees, so you should look and see what options your bank has.

      I don’t know about France specifically, but airports in general tend to have pretty bad exchange rates, so however much cash you do decide to get, try to to do it in advance so you can shop around a bit instead of having to do it in a hurry.

      1. Canadian Natasha*

        One reason I have thought about buying euros now is that I am nervous about finding places to get cash once I’m in France.
        (Also, the exchange rate between the euro and Canadian dollar has recently improved and I don’t know if that will last til summer)

        1. Candy*

          Depending on your bank, you can get cash right from the ATMs. I’m with Tangerine, who have partner banks all over Europe that I can use without being charged any ATM/usage/convenience fees (whatever they cal them) — so in Germany I could use my debit card at any Deutsche Bank, in the UK at any Barclay’s, and in France at BNP Paribas.

          If you’re Canadian, get the Chase Amazon Visa card. It’s the only card available to Canadians that doesn’t charge foreign currency transactions fees.

          1. Candy*

            That said, you will definitely need euros. Like in the States, you can’t pay with debit in France — just cash or credit card. At Carrefour or Monoprix or wherever you’re buying groceries, paying with a credit card is normal, but at cafes and museums, etc paying with euros is just so much easier

          2. Canadian Natasha*

            Thanks Candy, that is actually the credit card I’ve been looking at for my trip. Have you used it or do you know any particular downsides to that card I should be aware of if I decide to get it?

            1. Candy*

              I spent a year travelling (in Europe and Africa) and got this card right before I left and didn’t have any problems at all. They initially gave it to me for $2,500 and I called and bumped it up to $5,000 without any problems. I did notify them that I would be travelling but I didn’t have any specific countries I was visiting or set itinerary and it was never declined anywhere. And the interest rate is the same as my credit union’s visa so there was no difference there and there are some rewards (credit for Amazon.ca or after you spend a certain amount they credit your card’s balance $20).

    2. Allypopx*

      When I was in Scotland this summer we brought our cards and used ATMs while we were there for cash as we needed it. I think katamia is right about preference though.

    3. the gold digger*

      I take a couple hundred US dollars in cash (just in case the guys who deliver euros to the ATMs are on strike – oh yes it happened) and get euros from the ATM. We use a credit card when we can (hotels, train tickets) and pay cash for the rest (restaurants). Our bank (USAA) allows us ten ATM transactions a month without a fee, so we usually just pull out 50 or 100 euros at a time so we are not walking around with wads of cash.

      1. the gold digger*

        BTW, I would exchange dollars for euros only in the most dire of circumstances (ie, the ATMs have no cash). Exchange fees are expensive. There are ATMs in CDG, so you can get euros at the airport.

        Also, they are supposed to take the credit card! We have gotten the Gallic clerk glare of “Non, madame, we cannot accept your credit card” but they can. They are supposed to. (Something in their contract with Visa/MC/Amex.)

        1. Canadian Natasha*

          I’ve heard that some stores and restaurants will resist using the card and/or offer a better rate if you use cash. It sounds like they get charged a hefty debit machine fee for each use so cash is a better deal for them. One blog suggested that anything under €15 should be paid with cash, although I’m not sure how accurate that is.

          1. Jules the First*

            The shops and restaurants prefer cash for big purchases so that they can pocket the (20+%) sales tax.

            If you stick to Paris and other fairly big cities, you’ll want cash for the metro (you can use your card, but the machines which only take euro cash are waaaaaay less busy) and change for the public toilets. The rest can be done by card, but it’s generally considered polite to settle in cash if your bill comes to less than €20 or there’s a line behind you.

            If you are going to small towns, carry more cash because yes, there will be restaurants and sometimes even hotels that won’t take plastic.

            How much you need is a trickier question. I generally recomend carrying at least a day’s spending money on you in cash (somewhere separate to where you carry your cards, so you’re not screwed if your whole handbag gets stolen). Double that for Sundays, as it may be hard to find a working ATM.

          2. AcademiaNut*

            I find that in general smaller or more casual/simpler places will be less likely to take cards. So if you’re eating in higher end restaurants and shopping in large stores, you’ll probably be fine with credit, but if you’re eating street food and shopping in markets, carrying cash will be more important.

            When you calculate how much cash you need, be sure to not just consider meals and hotel. Make sure to add in snacks and drinks, or wanting to sit in a cafe for a while to rest your feet, plus bus/metro fare, coins for using the washrooms or storage lockers, and museum entrances. A lot of churches will have donation boxes, or pamphlets for sale, even if entrance is free – I budget two euros for each church, and up to three or four churches in a day.

            For general advice – have more than one way of getting money (credit card plus debit, more than one credit, etc) so if one method doesn’t work you’re not out of luck. Don’t have all your valuables in one place, and make sure you have the information you need to report a card lost or stolen available, and not in the same place as the card. I always photocopy my passport and residence visa, and have them in a separate location, so if I lose them it’s less of a hassle. And I’m prone to being absent minded, and live in an extremely safe environment, so I actually use a money belt under my clothing with some spare cash, a backup payment method, and sometimes my passport. Then I safety pin in to my underwear to be really secure.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          I think it’s easier if you have a chip card (debit or credit). I got the stinkeye for not having one in the UK–they acted like they didn’t know what to do with it. I told them to run my debit like a credit card and it would be fine. It worked in the cashpoints, but not in the Oyster card machines, so I had to get cash and then find an Oyster machine that took cash so I could top up. I have a chip card NOW, so hopefully that won’t happen again next time.

    4. Temperance*

      I have a Capital One card that I can use worldwide. I prefer that to carrying cash, personally, because I’m terrified of getting pickpocketed.

      1. Laura*

        I’ve lived overseas for the last 7 years and have relied almost exclusively on my Capital One credit card and Capital One 360 debit card. Both have no foreign transaction fees and the debit card has no charges for withdrawals (though if the ATM charges a fee I still have to pay it). I also recommend looking into Charles Schwab’s debit card. I’ve heard they refund the fees and don’t charge a foreign transaction fee. I typically keep a backup of about $200 US in cash as emergency money (typically in 50s or 100s since they get better exchange rates than 20s), but most often never exchange it.

    5. JHS*

      Make sure you have a chip and pin for your credit card before you go or you won’t be able to charge anything!

      1. Canadian Natasha*

        Thanks, we’ve been on chip and PIN technology by law for a few years already in Canada so that part shouldn’t be a problem.

      2. Ktelzbeth*

        Though it doesn’t apply to OP, I’m going add a bit here for others. I went to France last summer. My credit card company wouldn’t give me a PIN, insisting I wouldn’t need it and the merchants could print a receipt for signature. I was sure that I wouldn’t be able to use my card anywhere, but it turns out the credit card company was right. One of my traveling companions didn’t even have a chip card and the merchants made do with that. Perhaps better to have chip and PIN and maybe necessary now (8 months later), but if you CC company tells you the same as mine, try not to panic like I did.

        1. Sydney Bristow*

          I was able to travel through Germany and Amsterdam a few years ago with my chip and signature card. The only place it didn’t work was in the ticket machines at train stations. That actually ended up being a pain even though I was expecting it because we were normally in a bit of a rush at the station and it takes longer to speak to an agent (or there is no agent at the regional stations in the middle of nowhere in Germany).

        2. JHS*

          I couldn’t buy train tickets with my card in Denmark because I didn’t have a pin. It was really difficult there due to not having one. I agree that I don’t think I had that problem as much in France.

        3. MDJ*

          Most merchants will have two “card machine”, one that handles chip cards and one for the old fashioned US cards.

    6. Elkay*

      In France most places will use chip and PIN so if you don’t know your card’s PIN make sure you have it before you go. I assume a per diem of 50€ for two of us assuming dinner will go on a credit card then use up excess cash at the end of the trip.

    7. Effie*

      If you have a Bank of America ATM card, you can withdraw Euros from any BNP Paribas ATM without a foreign transaction fee! I’ve traveled to France twice and both times I used mostly cash because it was easier to keep track of and stick to my budget.

    8. JHS*

      Also I should have added that you should make sure your credit card doesn’t have a foreign transaction fee. They can really jack you on that. If it does, you can get a special travel credit card that specifically says “no foreign transaction fees.” Most banks offer one. I have the Bank of America Travel Rewards card and that doesn’t have one. I got that after I went to the Caribbean and used my Citibank card and they charged me over $300 in foreign transaction fees!

      1. Canadian Natasha*

        Yes, the credit card I’m currently looking at is an amazon travel visa that has no foreign transaction fees or yearly fee and also gives a small cash back for purchases bonus. I have to speak to my bank first to see if they offer a better deal, but I’ll be using something like this for at least some of my expenses.

    9. Colette*

      It’s been ages since I’ve been to France, but typically when I travel internationally I get about $100 in the local currency and use my credit card most of the time. I typically only use cash for small purchases or at places that don’t take credit cards.

    10. Wordnerd*

      I did a solo trip to Paris last year and did not get any Euros in advance. The first thing I did at the airport after getting my luggage was look for an ATM and withdraw a few hundred Euros. Just make sure you notify your bank about your travel plans before you go. There typically is a daily limit you are allowed to withdraw. My bank charged an international fee and a non-bank ATM fee of around $6 for each withdrawal (the fees are based on the amount withdrawn) so in order to limit the number of withdrawals I used cash for just food, transportation, and minor incidentals. I used my credit card for the hotel, shopping, and tourist attractions. I was there for 10 days and think I ended up making 2 cash withdrawals for a total of $350.

    11. mreasy*

      I use my credit card for everything posible & just withdraw from a local ATM for any cash needs. Usually you’ll find better exchange rates there vs. at Travelex/etc and you won’t have to worry about carrying a ton of currency. Check your bank re ATM charges, but I know my credit card doesn’t have any foreign transaction fees, and I think that’s quite common.

    12. Lore*

      I usually try to have the cost of transportation from airport to hotel plus around $100 in cash just in case my bank/credit card company hasn’t authorized the travel as I requested. (This has happened to me with a credit card.) That way you can get to your hotel and get something to eat or a nap before grappling with the logistics of contacting your bank from overseas.

    13. Happymammy*

      There are loads of currency cards you can get now – you put cash on them in your currency and then they work like a debit card in a range of other currencies. The exchange rates are on the websites but they are often the most economical way to get currency. I had one in South Africa and it was great – we could top in up online any time we liked and take out money in rands and then when we got home we could take the money back out in our currency or leave it on the card for our next trip – it does lots of currencies. It also worked at atms. Obviously do your research but this may well be the best option.

    14. AliceBD*

      Anytime I’ve gone abroad, including seven years ago when I did study abroad in France, I’ve just gotten cash at ATMs. They have always had better rates than anywhere else. And when I was in France I had to get out a lot of cash, because my cards were not chip-and-pin and you had to have chip-and-pin cards for all of the grocery stores and such in my neighborhood (not a tourist neighborhood, a regular one), so I mostly used cash. Just look beforehand to see if you can figure out what fees you’ll pay and if there is a particular ATM type you should use where the fees will be less (there were 3 ATMs all together on a corner by me, and one of them was cheaper for me to use than the others so I stuck with that one).

      I do end up using cash more often abroad than in the US. For example when I went to Canada in 2015 my bank went “Oh no! A foreign transaction! It must be stolen! We won’t let you use your card.” even though I had told them I would be there, my travel dates, etc. so I was glad I had extra cash.

    15. JLD*

      Yay – France! The south of France is beautiful.
      Both times I’ve been to France, I’ve never worried about taking money out in advance. Plenty of banks (especially in major cities) with ATMs are around. I opened a Checking account with Charles Schwab a few years ago, and their debit card is great: they reimburse you for all atm fees, even internationally. Might be worthwhile to look into.

      Most places where you’ll be eating/staying/traveling will all take Credit Cards, but only a handful of places will accept US cards w/o the chip (rare these days anyway). Cash is always preferred, especially if you’re at a small cafe or restaurant, or in a market, etc. And then it’s good to have coins for public transport, etc.

    16. Canadian Natasha*

      Thank you all for your helpful replies! Reading through these has helped me clarify what I will feel comfortable with in regard to using money (in its various forms) while I’m overseas. I’ll have to talk to the bank about some of the debit/credit considerations you’ve brought up to see what’s available. :)

  24. Book Person*

    About a year ago now, I posted asking for thoughts/strategies on adopting one of the semi-feral barncats at my parents’ place and making her an indoor cat. Thanks to everyone who replied; it helped solidify my decision to bring her home. The ridiculous pile of fluff (aka Breq Meowna’ai) has been with me since June, and is currently trying to sit on my sternum and headbutting my cheek so I’ll pay attention to her instead of reading AAM.

    I don’t post often (erm, I mean, SHE doesn’t), but she’s on twitter @JusticeofPurrin if you want kitty photos.

      1. Book Person*

        She seems to be happy! I feel like I have a little fluffy shadow trailing me from room to room when I’m home.

    1. Mirax*

      What an excellent name! I tried to convince my mother that the feral she took in last year ought to be called Anyaander Meownaai, but she wasn’t having it.

    2. LadyKelvin*

      You need to get her an instgram! Our pup has one (you can find her at ladykelvinthedog). She posts about 2-3 times a week and she has more puppy friends than Ihave people friends. We are currently on hiatus because she is in DC while I am in HI, but in 3 short weeks we will be chronicaling her adventures in HI, including her first trip to the beach.

  25. Eponymous Clent*

    March mammal madness is coming! Full brackets/contenders released on Monday! Follow it on #2017MMM for “*simulated* combat competition among mammals”, along with information about each species and trash talk.

    “March Mammal Madness is a love letter TO the science community and a love letter ABOUT science. ”

    Link to follow.

    Stoats as measurement!

    1. Hrovitnir*

      Haha, that’s awesome. Do you listen to the TetZoo podcast at all? I love how amused Darren is every time someone asks him what would win in a fight – I’m just working my way through them from the beginning now.

  26. pmac*

    Whoops, I posted to the wrong thread yesterday. Alas, first time posting…

    Travel advice!

    I’m going to the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, Korea and am so excited! I’ll be with three other women, and we already booked lodging. We entered into the CoSport lottery but didn’t have a ton of luck with the big tickets we wanted like Men’s and Women’s Hockey medal games or Women’s Figure Skating. I’d love advice on other sports or Olympics-y activities to check out. Any forums/sites you’d recommend? Are tickets available day of? Is it okay to go to an event alone?

    My boss told me to write to sponsoring companies to get free merch to trade with people – is this still a thing?

  27. SAHM*

    So I live in CA and hubby works for a company with headquarters in Nebraska. He mentioned in passing that some people at work (in Nebraska) told him that we should move out there. Which of course sent me off on a binge of looking at real estate in Nebraska, bc looking at houses is a hobby of mine (there’s a reason the house hunting shows are so popular).
    Dude, the houses are cheap! The commute would be like ~20 min! Right now it’s two hours each way, so a total of four hours commute, which means that’s four hours the kiddos miss out on daddy time.
    But I’ve never lived anywhere but Ca, so I don’t know really know what the culture or schools or weather (does it snow? I’ve only seen snow once or twice when we drive to Tahoe) or anything is like in Omaha, plus my mother would kill me for taking her grand babies away from her.
    But I’m down for an adventure, I’d like to live somewhere else for a year or two, and I’m open to it if his job says “Let’s send you to Nebraska”.
    Any Nebrasakans want to weigh in here? Give me an idea of what it’s like?

    1. katamia*

      I don’t live in Nebraska, but a friend does, and she always makes the winters sound absolutely miserable. I don’t know if that’s statewide or just where she is, though.

    2. Victoria, Please*

      I lived in NE for a couple of years in my 20s. It is astonishingly beautiful. Lincon is a very nice small city and Omaha has some excellent big city amenities. Everywhere else is smaaaall town. Winters can be cold AF, in fact that was part of why I moved away. Yes, it snows. Also, NE is not “diverse” at.all. It’s conservative with a capital T. However, people are “salt of the earth” and as I said, it was so beautiful. It was a thousand shades of gold.

    3. OhBehave*

      Yes. It snows. Search for the average snowfall for that area. Different parts of the state may have different results.
      Driving in snowy/icy weather requires a whole new set of skills! I’m in Illinois and grew up here. We all still have to reacquaint ourselves with how to drive in snow and ice. I personally love the snow and ice. It’s really beautiful, especially the huge snowfalls we’ve gotten the last several years.

    4. Chilleh*

      Current Californian here as well and my parents live in Nebraska. I lived with them for a few years (left for CA 3 years ago) while recovering from an illness. There are some amazing things to do in Omaha, with amazing museums (the Durham, Joslyn Art Museum) and one of the best zoos in the nation. You’ll be within a day’s driving distance to some great national parks, too.

      Whenever I go back to visit my parents, the difference in experience is shocking. Rush hour traffic on anything but I-80 (and sometimes Dodge Street) is like 1 am traffic here. The commute is wonderful if you’re not going on those streets. There are some maddening drivers, but it’s typically much more pleasant than here. Everything seems to be a much slower pace, probably due to the fact that there are much less people crammed into an area without room to expand.

      Snow is real, and it can be immense. Temperatures were typically around 10 degrees on average during the worst months when I was there, swinging from -2 to 22 or so. Apparently this year it has been unseasonably warm in Nebraska, and a lot of times it’s much colder here in the Bay Area than in Nebraska, which is not typical.

      The political climate is very different, too, though depending on where you move to (and of course depending on where you lived in California). My parents are actually moving because they don’t agree with the political views of their neighbors anymore since it is that important to them.

    5. Bad Candidate*

      Hi there. I live in Omaha, we moved here about 8.5 years ago from the Chicago area. On the plus side… traffic is non-existent. Even when traffic is bad it’s not really that bad. And yes, housing is relatively cheap. Property taxes are not though, Nebraska is in the top ten of states as far as property taxes go. But since housing is cheap, maybe you wouldn’t notice? I never owned a house anywhere but here though. It does snow. We currently have snow on the ground from a storm on Friday. This week prior was abnormally warm, in the 60s and even 70s. Normally it’s cold through the winter and doesn’t start warming up until March.
      Personally, I don’t like Omaha, for a lot of reasons. But everyone is different, you might like it here, plenty of people do. Feel free to ask me questions. :)

    6. Nancy*

      For an opposite perspective I’m Canadian and I live in the “south” which is considered “warm” and we are north of there ;) granted we are also close to the warm Chinook winds so it’s probably not a fair comparison weather-wise. That said, time with family is wonderful, fresh air and time to spend outdoors is a treat, things might be affordable for housing etc and allow you to save money to splurge on travel or similar even if it means saving up to take an unpaid winter week in Cuba each year. Maybe go for a visit and rent a cabin for a week with the kids and see how you like it? I recommend picking a “resort” type place with family cabins but shared play/eating/skiing/swimming space for the kids so it’s social too

      1. Nancy*

        Replying to myself to add that winter gear is expensive bought new and fancy but is also easily hobbled together second hand and through layers of wool/silk/polar fleece/down etc. Lots of people get used to it with practice and preparation (there’s no bad weather just bad clothing) and if you are saving money elsewhere you can splurge on sorels and and remote starter for your car and fur lined mitts etc

        1. SAHM*

          Oh that sounds nice! It would be lovely to go on more vacations (or quite frankly A vacation!). Fresh air, more time together as a family, more outdoors stuff! Ca has lovely weather, but outdoor activities are expensive and we have tiny yards. I would love some more space.

    7. blackcat*

      A good friend of mine from college grew up in Nebraska and has not moved back since she left at 18.

      Her biggest complaint (and maybe this was mostly due to not being in Omaha, but instead a smaller town) was the sexism she faced as a teen. Her school almost didn’t let her take the few AP science/math classes they had, and when she did, her teachers criticized her openly for “taking a boy’s spot.” Everyone thought it was super odd she left the state to go to college. By the time we graduated from college, most of her high school friends had at least 1 kid, mostly 2–they had all been married and some were actually getting divorced. She said it felt like everyone thought there was something wrong with her (a lot of people called her offensive names for lesbians).

      So her experience made me super skeptical of raising kids in a place like Nebraska. But there are probably big differences between the small towns and Omaha, and it has been a while since she was a kid–we’re 30 now.

      The weather, though, sounds awful. Brutal cold in winter, super humid, hot summers. Spring and fall are supposedly lovely.

      As a Californian who has now lived up and down the eastern seaboard, I promise you can learn to deal with the cold. That’s just a matter of having the right clothing. It was much harder for me to adjust to the humid heat when I lived in the south than it was to adjust to brutal cold in New England. I have a coat that keeps me warm even when it’s below 0F out, but I have no clothes that let me be comfortable in 100F with 90% humidity–I wouldn’t be comfortable naked in that weather! If you live somewhere in CA where the temp rises above 110 on a regular basis, I think that is equally miserable (though differently so) to brutal humid heat in the south. But where I lived, it rarely exceeded 100 when I was growing up*, so dealing with temps ~100F plus humidity was too much for me.

      *Worryingly, temps over 100 seem to be relatively normal at my parents house now, even though they weren’t 15 years ago. Also, it was 75 degrees two days ago at my home in New England. Two years ago, it was like 20 with 8 feet of snow piled on the ground. Past experiences with weather seem to be less and less predictive of what you will experience in the future these days.

    8. Teach*

      I live near Omaha. Schools are good, commutes are good, food and museums and art scene is fantastic! Housing is cheap – you can get older houses in hip neighborhoods, or suburban kid-filled developments, or heck, a small acreage reasonably. If you commute from Iowa, property taxes are much lower.
      Winter is not awful. A garage, shovel, good coat/gloves/boots/hat will usually suffice. It’s not like Canada or Alaska. A lot of places shut down for Big Snow. You will have to learn how to drive in it, and maybe don’t live in a super rural place until you’ve acclimated. Summer is HOT. Like, 100 degrees with high humidity hot. Everything you could possibly be allergic to thrives here.
      Can you come visit? That would give you a good feel.

    9. neverjaunty*

      1) There’s a reason housing is so cheap there, and it’s not “people in California are incapable of math”.

      2) After a year or two, how are you going to afford to move back out?

      1. SAHM*

        As for the year or two move back to Ca, we don’t plan on selling our house. The rent for it will more than cover the mortgage. So no worries on moving back.
        I’m not quite certain how to take your first comment, is it because you need to factor in property tax with the cheaper housing? That’s the one thing that bit us when we moved an hour away from SF, the houses were cheaper but our property tax is close to 10k a year.

        1. neverjaunty*

          I’m getting the sense that you’ve already excitedly planned out your move to Nebraska and are looking forward to a change of pace? Which is great, except if it gets in the way of actually weighing the pros and cons of moving out there.

          Please understand I’m not bagging on Nebraska (I’m from the Midwest originally) or trying to spoil your excitement, but you’re talking about uprooting your family from friends, resources, family and stability, moving halfway across the country, and then doing it all over again in a year or two. That’s a lot of disruption, particularly for children. (I know military families do this all the time. Military families are also part of a system that is geared to this kind of lifestyle, and everybody else they are around is in the same boat.)

          It’s smart that you’re planning to keep your house. However – as you know if you’ve done this before, being a landlord isn’t as simple as handing over the keys to a management company and then collecting the checks. Particularly as you’re operating under California’s landlord/tenant laws. (For example; if the tenants stop paying rent or decide they don’t want to leave when you’re ready to return, don’t expect that you can turn them out without months of fighting in court, which isn’t free.) You’ll be trying to manage that relationship from several states away, and this isn’t an investment property or a condo; it’s your family home.

          And finally, to get back to your original question – land and housing in Nebraska is cheaper because fewer people want to live there. The weather is much, much worse than you’re used to; snow sounds charming until you’re actually living in it for months on end, scraping ice off your car, cleaning grey, salty slush off your clothes, and slipping and sliding on icy roads during that shorter commute. Storms aren’t so fun for the kids to play in. I really have to disagree with the person who said it’s no big deal and you easily get used to it. (Let’s not even get started on summers; I hope that Nebraska doesn’t do humidity.) Also, because there are fewer people, you’re going to have less, well, stuff. Including job opportunities, not just for you, but for your husband if things don’t work out.

        2. Champagne_Dreams*

          never_jaunty is assuming that you’re getting a California cost of living adjustment to your husband’s salary that would disappear if you moved to Nebraska.

  28. Buttons*

    I know the AAM community is generous with their time and money to all sorts of charitable organizations. I’m wondering what y’all think of this situation. Occasionally I come across a fundraiser of some kind (could be anything: a dinner, concert, cook off, etc.) and the tickets cost, say, $35 for one or $60 for a couple.

    I think this pricing structure is unfair and I choose to not support those events. I am single (no boyfriend, SO or husband) and I know I could go with a friend or a family member, but we’re obviously not a couple. I also know from experience that two friends would not generally buy tickets at the same time.

    What do you think?

    1. Buttons*

      Let me add: obviously I want these organizations to be successful and raise lots of money. But if a single person isn’t getting something extra, then why charge extra?

    2. Allypopx*

      I mean my friends and I would coordinate buying tickets if it was cheaper.

      Ideally the wording would be “single ticket $35 or two for $60” but that’s just a bad word choice it’s not the price structure. It’s very common to buy tickets in sets of two and giving a price incentive to secure two tickets at the same time to increase attendance revenue. It’s a sound business practice I don’t see a problem with it.

      1. Allypopx*

        It’s like if you’re at the grocery store and pasta sauce is two jars for $5, or $3 each. It’s sales incentive, they want you to buy the two jars.

    3. all aboard the anon train*

      It’s the single tax.

      There’s been more than a few articles and studies over the years about this, and how it’s another way single people are subtly penalized for not being part of a couple. I know tickets are usually priced cheaper when in groups, but I’m with you in the annoyance over being told I have to pay more to go to an event by myself instead of with another person. I’ve definitely gone to those events with a friend or family member, and don’t feel guilty at all that I’m not part of a traditional couple. If an event really intends “couple” to mean a romantic couple and not a pair of friends or family members, then they’re not worth supporting imo.

      But the wording of single/couple definitely grates on me.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I posted about this in open thread yesterday. The local public TV network, to which I recently set a recurring donation so I can binge my Masterpiece shows online, sent out a rewards card I can use at restaurants and area attractions. Almost all the discounts are two-for-one, or buy one get one half off. :'{

        I’m not gonna go out to eat alone and get two entrees. I don’t need two tickets to X thing. I called them up to *nicely!* ask if maybe they could consider the fact that not all their patrons are married/coupled. Ended up comforting the phone lady, who was upset about something, but she actually agreed with me and said she would pass my observation onto the national organization. They’re the ones who negotiate those perks with the companies that provide them. I’m just really glad I didn’t tell her I couldn’t use the pet discounts either because my pet was dead. She was already crying!

        Still, it really made me feel bad, because I would give anything to have somebody to split them with, even though most of them weren’t places I go anyway. Most of my friends have families and I hardly ever see them. Way to rub it in, PBS!! >:P

    4. Sunflower*

      IDK it’s pretty in line with the how almost every other sales structure for literally anything you can buy works. The more you buy, the less you pay per unit.

      1. Buttons*

        Literally not everything is cheaper the more you buy. If I go to the movies, I pay the same as the person with me- regardless of our relationship. If I go to a baseball game, I could pay more than someone else, but the is be getting more – a better seat. And that is open to everyone. If I buy towels from JC Penneys I’m paying the same for each one, unless there’s a sale, in which case that discount is available to everyone.

        1. Happymammy*

          Ok “Literally everything” was an exaggeration. Fair point. But I would still say the vast majority of things get cheaper if you buy in bulk. If I buy a bale (pack) of towels it costs far less than buying them all individually.

          Movie tickets and sports tickets are actually cheaper in bulk if you buy online and pay only one credit card fee instead of two. Which is about the same percentage on a movie ticket as the 5$ difference in the ticket price for the charity event.

        2. Sunflower*

          Yes ok that was an exaggeration but I meant it more in the sense of if you’re buying a towels, a wash cloth may cost you $3 and a bath towel, which is the size of multiple wash clothes , may only cost you $6.

          1. Oscar Madisoy*

            Yeah, but even so, the price per season ticket is the same no matter how many season tickets you buy. It’s not, like, $5,000 for one ticket, $9,000 for two. It’s $5,000 for one, $10,000 for two.

    5. Maya Elena*

      I’d say, discount the couples scenario and just decide if $35 is a fair price for the event. If a friend wants to go, buy the couples price and act natural.

      As for the discount thing, it just seems like so much unnecessary frustration to see a discount you don’t qualify for (at the moment) in such an adversarial way, like it’s a penalty against you or money stolen from you or something….

    6. CMT*

      I don’t think it’s a “singles tax” because there’s no mandate that you go with a romantic partner. I mean, most people don’t go to events like that alone. But two tickets and go with a friend.

      1. Hrovitnir*

        I think the idea with the “singles tax” is not that any one ticket price is targetted at people who don’t have partners, but rather the assumption that everyone above a certain age will be partnered leads to cumulatively higher costs to be single. The obvious one (that’s not really anyone’s “fault” exactly) is how prohibitively expensive it is to buy a house alone, and it’s not culturally normal to go in like that with friends so having that kind of relationship is rare, and we all know what living with flatmates can be like.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      My friends and I buy our tickets at the same time so we both share the reduction in price. Actually one person actually gets the tickets and the other person gives the payer half the cost.

      With fundraisers I think about it less because it’s for a cause.

      I do whole-heartedly agree though, that it is cheaper per person to be part of a couple. I was amazed when I first lived with my husband it was not that much more expensive for the second person.

    8. chickabiddy*

      That pricing would annoy me, but not enough to boycott the event if it was one I wanted to support. If I was on the fence it might push me over the edge.

      On a similar note, I am also annoyed by “family” packages that are based on two kids. I have one kid. And now that I’m a single parent, I sometimes buy memberships at the “couples” rate for myself and my teenager, since she doesn’t qualify for the child rates any longer. It amuses me that I occasionally get solicitations addressed as if we were a same-sex married couple.

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        Yes! I have two brothers and it was always hard when deals were for families of four, especially vacation packages. There were definitely some things we didn’t end up getting to do because the “deal” was only good if you had four people.

        Even now, as adults, my parents wanted to do a family vacation but all the deals are for two or four people, and being an odd number limits what we can do if we don’t want to pay the fee for a single ticket or lose the money by buying a package for two that is going to only be used on the last fifth person.

        I know these types of packages are done because that’s what makes the most sense, but there’s some subtle “this is the ideal nuclear family” stuff going on there too imo.

    9. neverjaunty*

      I think you might wanna take that chip off your shoulder before you get splinters.

      They’re not penalizing singles. They’re trying to make money. Couples tend to socialize together, so by knocking a few bucks off the price this way, they’re choosing to increase the odds of getting $60 rather than $0.

  29. chickabiddy*

    Love the cat collage!

    And an update on my cat. I posted last week that my stripey guy, who has very thick and coarse fur, had two quarter-size mats on his back near his spine. I bought John Paul Pet Instant Detangling Spray (from chewy[dot]com, but it is available elsewhere as well). I sprayed it on a regular cat brush and began brushing and in about a minute the clump came out in the brush! Cat, who is pretty touchy, did not even seem to notice. Next day, same thing, other clump gone. This spray is more highly scented than either cat or I like, but it really works. I just wanted to share since other pet owners (this is labeled for both dogs and cats) had posted that their pets sometimes get mats too.

    1. Sydney Bristow*

      Thank you! My long haired cat has a mat right now that I can’t cut out. I got her a lion cut 1.5 years ago to deal with several mats and her coat has been really great ever since until I found this mat recently. After seeing last week’s discussion I bought one of the demating rakes. I start to make a little progress and then she freaks out. She seems to like it for lessening her undercoat though, so hopefully it will be helpful as a preventative measure. I’ll try the spray.

    2. EddieSherbert*

      This is an awesome tip, thank you!

      I volunteer at an animal shelter I feel terribly for most of the long-haired cats that come in, and this could really help them out (clumps AND bald spots from getting clumps cut out or shaved do NOT help them adopted quickly!).

  30. Feathers McGraw*

    Is it crazy to think my cat can tell if I’m poorly? I’m feeling rotten and he’s been sitting on or in bed with me all day (he’s a real people cat but would normally be outside or sleeping in the conservatory for much of this time). I don’t think it’s the fact the weather sucks as his usual MO is to go out anyway, come back in and complain loudly, on repeat. After I had dental surgery he sat next to my head for the next day or so. My husband thinks he knows I’m unwell. I like the idea but think it may be wishful thinking. What say you, cat people of AAM?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      He can tell! My childhood cat, who was normally very active, knew when anyone was sick and would plant herself on the bed with whoever it was until they recovered. We always felt she thought of herself as a nurse.

      1. Courageous cat*

        My childhood cat, who was typically quite aloof, always did this to me too when I was (frequently) sick as a kid. However I figured it was because he was waiting for me to die so he could have first dibs on eating me.

    2. Allypopx*

      Cats can totally tell if you are unwell, I can tell you from lots of experience. I also really like the idea that cats think that humans are just giant really stupid cats, so if they curl up with you and purr they are trying to make you feel better, since purring is how cats heal themselves and they’re concerned you aren’t doing your own purring.

    3. Lizabeth*

      They know. I got fired one day and came home earlier than usual. The ex’s cat didn’t interact with me that much, but that day he hopped into my lap and purred for about a half hour. Amazing…

    4. Elkay*

      They know when something is off with you. One of our cats comes and yowls and throws himself on the ground between us if we’re arguing. Both cats stick like glue on the bed if one of us is ill in bed.

    5. all aboard the anon train*

      I don’t have cats, but my dog can definitely tell. When I’m sick or upset he knows something is wrong and gets super anxious and more affectionate than usual (and he’s a super affectionate dog already). He’s a big dog – a Newfie – and definitely only nudges his head under my arm as if asking for a hug when I’m really upset.

      Pets can totally be in tune with their owners’ emotions, and I think that’s one of the wonderful things about having pets.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep, they definitely know when things are rotten in Denmark.

        My guy stuck his nose up a friend’s tee shirt sleeve. I started to scold the dog and my friend said, “Wait.” Then he showed me a tick bite that had been covered by his shirt sleeve. The dog had SMELLED it. If an animal can find a tiny wound like that, who knows how much else they can sense. I wonder if we smell differently to them when we are sad/upset.

    6. Turtlewings*

      Cats and dogs can absolutely tell. They’re very sensitive to body language and changes in your scent; they probably know you’re sick before you do. In fact, the medical community is looking into the possibility of “cancer dogs” because there’s anecdotal evidence that dogs can smell tumors long before medical exams can detect them.

    7. Katie the Fed*

      I’ve always assumed that it’s because I’m running a fever and the cat likes the warmth I throw off :)

    8. Sydney Bristow*

      In my experience, both cats and dogs can tell. We call my cat Nurse Meow Meow when I’m sick because she stays by my side the whole time. My childhood dog did the same.

      My friend’s dog started sleeping with her head on my friend’s belly at the same time she found out she was pregnant. I still think that is so amazing!

    9. Windchime*

      He knows. Cats are much more sensitive to our feelings that many people think. I had dental surgery last week and laid on the sofa for a couple of days. I had a bad reaction to medication and the cat stayed right by my side the whole time. When I would wake up, he was sleeping in the chair next to me where he never normally sleeps.

    10. Red*

      They can totally tell! I think it’s because cats are basically heat-seeking missiles of cuddles. If you have a fever, they’re going to be all over that!

    11. MommyMD*

      Yes your cat knows. They are very intuitive. They can comfort. They can plot. It’s up to them. But they know. Never take the intellect of cats lightly.

    1. Hrovitnir*

      I love shrimp! So cute. ^_^

      We don’t have any freshwater shrimp available apart from native NZ ones you have to find yourself and may need a chiller to maintain a good temperature for them, so I’ve never gone there, but I would love a nice planted nano just with shrimp and maybe some otocinclus.

    2. Anono-me*

      Thanks for the update.

      Please keep us posted on them? I think they might be the perfect gift for someone, but I would need to be responsible for every thing beyond feeding (maintenance and cleaning) and l do not live near by.

  31. Myrin*

    Alison, how is it that not matter what, Sam always looks extremely regal on any photo you post of him?

    1. Aurora Leigh*

      Which one is Sam?

      I know Eve and Olive (they remind me of mine!) but I always get the boys confused.

        1. Aurora Leigh*

          Lucy! She’s the one I forget somehow!

          I guess all the orange kitties I’ve met have been boys.

        1. Elkay*

          I think she’s back to full health now, unfortunately he lost both The Bear and Shipley to old age in the last couple of months :(

    2. Mimmy*

      I feel so dumb – I can never remember which is which, and always thought you had 3 cats, not 4. Yes, I’m sure I’ve asked for clarification more than once :/ *facepalm*

  32. Lizabeth*

    Has anyone taken embroidery classes at the Royal School of Needlework in England? They are on my radar for when I hit the lottery, meanwhile I’m learning from their series of books.

    1. Windchime*

      Oh my gosh, I had no idea something like this even existed. I haven’t done embroidery for years, but I love it so much. I recently bought some tea towels to embroider, just for old times sake.

    2. misspiggy*

      A dear friend rates them very highly, is all I can tell you – we got her vouchers for Christmas and she’s going to attend soon.

  33. Kali*

    Has anyone here ever ordered from eShakti? I have very specific preferences for clothing I wear while photographing weddings (one of the many is that pockets are a must!) and it’s almost impossible to find something that meets them all. The dresses on eShakti would, particularly with the customization option. And I love the idea of having something somewhat tailored to my body. I’m just wondering what the whole experience is like….

    1. all aboard the anon train*

      I wasn’t a huge fan. I found the measurements I gave and the finished garment didn’t fit right. Areas were too tight or too loose, and I triple checked that I sent the right measurements and that they were the same when I tried the clothes versus ordering them. Their customer service wasn’t great about returns and exchanges when I told them they gave me the wrong sizing.

      Also, for the price, I didn’t think the quality was that great. The dresses also made me look super frumpy compared to the pictures on the website. I think it’s a good idea, but it just didn’t work for me. Also, I don’t know if they still do this, but the clothes are made and shipped from India and I was slammed with a customs fee after my order that I did not expect.

    2. Former Retail Manager*

      I have ordered from them! And I LOVE them!

      It does take a while because your dress is being custom tailored in a sweatshop in India….seriously. It took about 2 weeks from the date I placed the order to get mine so if you’re ordering for a special event, I’d plan waaaayyyy in advance, just in case. Also, if you are lazy (like me) and don’t want to actually provide your measurements, and instead use the standard sizes available, I’d go up 1 size from your usual size. I ordered my standard US size in a fabric with no stretch and it didn’t work out. If I’d gone up one size, it would have fit like a glove. Also, most of the fabrics they use are ones that have little to no stretch in them so don’t plan on stretch. The best option is really to get a measuring tape and have someone measure you if you want a perfectly tailored fit.

      The quality of the dress was excellent, which was a welcome change from most garments purchased in the US and manufactured abroad. No issues with buttons, seams or hems and it was a nicely weighted fabric.

      They usually have promos going on of some sort and if you give them your e-mail, they’ll send you a coupon. I believe mine was like $30 off my first order….it was a good coupon…not the usual 10% off junk. Also, shipping is flat rate, which isn’t my fave, but worth it for the ability to customize IMO.

      If you need to return something, you can mail it back for either a refund or giftcard, so long as it’s within specified time frames. No exchanges. But once again, if you send them accurate measurements I really don’t anticipate a return being needed. Although it’s been a while since I ordered, I can say without a doubt, that I’d do it again and likely will here soon for some spring dresses.

    3. OhBehave*

      I would have a chat with a seamstress. Maybe they can add pockets to an item of clothing you already have. Some pieces are easier to add to than others. It’s worth a try.

    4. Hrovitnir*

      I ordered two things from them. I like them and think they were reasonably priced, however one thing was slightly tight and one slightly loose with the same measurements. I also asked for the skirt that’s designed to wear with heels to be a couple of inches shorter, which they confirmed, but either they’re made for *giant* heels (I’m 5’6″, I’m not tiny) or they didn’t actually shorten it.

      So not awful, but I’m not raving.

    5. The Unkind Raven*

      I ordered one item. It turned out all right. I like wearing very simple tunics over black leggings (think boat neck, three quarter sleeves, covers my front and back areas nicely). You have no idea how difficult it can be to find such things! Modcloth is helpful, but pricey, so I gave eShakti a try. The shipping took forever, and while they did custom make me what I want, it wasn’t exactly what I wanted, really. The tunic only *just* covered both my front and my butt, and the quality was just so-so.

    6. Drago cucina*

      Love it. Real pockets. I order almost all dresses with elbow length sleeves. My early mistake was not using my real measurements vs. the standard sizes offered.

    7. Kerr*

      I literally just received an order from Eshakti. I am hopeful!

      Prior to this, I’ve had mixed success. First two custom dresses (same order) were fail. I may have goofed on one of my measurements, but the fit was just weird, and the necklines were low. The second custom order, I corrected my measurement mistake and adjusted a couple of other measurements based on the fit of the prior order, and was pretty happy with the results. (Dress looked nice, but ended up being dressier than anticipated, so I don’t wear it often.) I was able to return the two fail dresses without a problem. The first two really didn’t look as crisp as their photos, as someone noted below. The third did…mostly. It was a poly crepe, pretty good, but kept some light wrinkles.

      I think their waistlines run high (and I don’t have a long waist), and their full skirts are sometimes cut TOO full, even though I generally like fuller skirts. The cut isn’t my favorite. However, I know others who love them. Probably worth a shot at least once!

  34. Lily Evans*

    I saw my parents last weekend, but still didn’t mention the whole I’m going to be leaving the country thing to them. I was kind of annoyed because it was the first time I’d seen them in over a month and all my mom wanted to talk about was her rocky relationship with my younger sister. I’m not sure how many times I can tell her that I’m not taking sides and I’m not her therapist before she gets it (I was going to say gets the hint, but it’s not even a hint anymore). When we were younger my sister and I didn’t get along well and had definite schadenfreude about each other getting in trouble, but we have a better relationship now and I don’t want to basically talk shit about her with my mom. My mom is apparently hurt that my sister “doesn’t like her” and “doesn’t talk to her anymore” and quite frankly I don’t blame my sister at all. I don’t really talk to my mom either, it’s just less noticeable since I live an hour away instead of in the same house. Then she started getting mad at my dad for not “being on her side” since my sister still gets along well with him. I’ve never been happier that I moved out of their house asap, hopefully my sister will be able to do the same soon (she’s almost 20 with a full time job) and maybe then things will get better between them, but who knows.

    It just leads me to my annual question of whether a voucher for a few therapy sessions would be an acceptable mother’s day gift. (The real question is, would the tantrum my mom throws in that scenario be worse than the one she threw the year we forgot mother’s day?)

    1. Lizabeth*

      Nope, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. Use the $ for a really nice flower arrangement (doesn’t Alison have a link for flowers somewhere on the website?) and whatever will make her sing with happiness. Seriously…she has to want to fix things for therapy to even work.

  35. Aurora Leigh*

    Online dating, or just dating in general . . . Am I the only person that finds it incredibly awkward??

    Part of it is my very limited experience. I was hyper focused on studying and doing well academically in high school and college and my parents were kind of strict, so I just didn’t bother.

    Now I’m 25 and I’ve been on sum total of 2 dates with a guy I met online last summer. There was nothing wrong with him, but I just felt like he was more into it than me so I broke it off.

    A couple days ago I thought I’d go back to the profile I left up to see if I could get the annoying emails to stop. I looked at a couple of profiles just out of curiousity and ended up meeting a guy.

    So next weekend we’re going to meet in person and I’m trying to not obsess about it . . .

    So . . . I guess first date tips for awkward people?

    1. Turtlewings*

      I’m afraid I have no advice, but it’s actually kinda great to know I’m not the only one like this. I’m basically you but 7 years older, and definitely feeling awkward about it. Best of luck!!!

    2. NaoNao*

      So, yes, online dating is hard for *Everyone in the entire world*!! Don’t worry, it’s not just you.
      Okay, so onto question two:
      First date tips:
      Plan an activity that gets you talking: Cards Against Humanity meetup group, bowling for couples, a brisk hike on a trail, attending an art show–something where you’re not just balefully staring at each other over a beer thinking “I wish the other person would talk”.
      If you’re a drinker, have 2-3 drinks but probably not more. You want to feel relaxed and social, but not TOO social.
      Decide ahead of time what your romance/physical boundaries are. If you’re open to something that develops into a one-nighter, cool. But a lot of people get burned by going on a date, feeling a great spark, extending the date, spending the night (or hooking up) and then never hearing from that person. If you feel like this would hurt, *decide ahead of time* before the cocktails, the music, the banter, and your spark kick in, what you’ll do and not do. Helps a lot.
      The best thing to do is just treat them the same as you would a cool new friend. Don’t try to interview them or find “dealbreakers”. Just talk naturally about topics you would with a new school friend or a new work friend: movies, current events (not politics–more like “wow, preggie giraffe, eh?” type stuff), interests and hobbies, funny stories.
      If you had fun, don’t hesitate to show it and say it. Say “Wow, I had so much fun. I’d love to see you again.” This leave the door open–you’re showing you’re interested without risking them being all like “um…yeah, I’m…okay, bye.”
      They can just say something like “That sounds nice” or “Okay let me see how this week goes” or if they’re into it, they can set up a second date.

      Your goal on the first date is to get to know them, and see if you want to see them again. Try to just have fun and remember: you’re interviewing them as much as they’re interviewing you :)

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I wouldn’t have even that many drinks. Maybe ONE. It’s best to avoid anything that could blur your perception when you’re first getting to know someone. The rest of this is spot on.

    3. Maya Elena*

      The great thing about online dating is nobody knows your baggage and history, so you’re on even footing in terms of information. And he’s also probably as nervous as you.

      My reams of advice include: be generous, and determined to be pleased; interpret compliments and gallantry in a more positive light than negative (heuristic: 30 roses on his part is probably much; light compliments on your dress, door opening, and insisting on paying for your sandwich are appropriate and desirable; him picking an expensive restaurant, with dessert, and then offering to split the check is a red flag); give benefit of the doubt for his awkwardness, and just enjoy an evening with a hopefully interesting person.

      If you liked it, communicate it (eg, smiling, enthusiasm, suggesting you continue the date with drinks – your treat), and if you’re looking for a relationship, don’t sleep together that first night!

      My two cents.

    4. Kj*

      OK, what are you doing on your first date? I always push folks to not do the drinks/coffeeshop/dinner stuff. Go to a museum, a local fair, farmer’s market, something where you can walk around and have something to talk about. Silences won’t be as awkward and it will be fun even if things are not a taking off. Then, if you are having fun, you can extend the date to dinner/coffee/drinks. But moving and talking on a date is much preferable to staring at each other over lattes. Husband and I met at a museum and toured it, then went to dinner, then on a walk, then to drinks and finally to a park on our first date (total time: 8 hours). We are both awkward people, but we were having fun and in part I attribute that to walking around the museum while getting to know each other. It was fun, low-pressure and lead to much conversation.

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        Thanks for the tips everyone!

        I definitely want to take it slow. That’s just my personality I think.

        The location/time for the date haven’t been set yet. I’m think lunch or coffee or something would be more low key than a full on dinner date.

        I like the idea of an activity, but there’s not a while lot to do in this area when the weather’s still cold. Although bowling might be an option I guess. (I’m really bad at anything remotely athletic though).

    5. HannahS*

      Oh my gosh yes. I started dating last year at age 23. Nothing good yet. I’ve been on a bunch of OkCupid dates and a few blind dates and one memorable Jewish speed-dating event. It’s awkward, but it does get easier with time. I’ve learned to accept that there will be awkward pauses. I ask questions like, “So, what do you do for fun?” and, “What are you watching/reading/etc.” and if it’s something I’m not familiar with, ask “What do you like about it?” Even though it doesn’t sound super organic and conversational, nothing about the situation evolved organically, so it is what it is, you know?

      Also. I’ve learned it’s not my job alone to make the date feel comfortable. A few dates have been with fellas that were extremely uncomfortable being on a date. I did my best to put us both at ease, but ultimately, if they’re so awkward that the whole of the weight of social interaction falls to me–well, then I’m not going to fault myself for being “so bad at this.”

    6. RebeccaNoraBunch*

      Oh gosh, online dating IS hard for everyone! I have 9 years on you (eek!) and I’ve been online dating almost exclusively since 2010. I’ve been on 20 first dates in the last two years, all from meeting guys online. I did the math recently and only 8 of those made it to second dates, and out of those, 6 of them I dated or spent any real time with (by that I mean, 6 weeks-2+ months) …in two years.

      Here are my tips:
      1) If you’re not super practiced at carrying a conversation [notice I didn’t say “carrying ON a conversation”, but carrying one itself], talk to the guy online for at least a week before you meet up. Make sure you have some solid things to talk about: similar interests, things you liked about his profile, etc. I’ve made the mistake of going out with a guy after only a couple sentences exchanged, and luckily we did have some similar interests and I am a pretty skilled conversationalist, but it would’ve been nice to know more about him first.
      2) Unless you’re pretty confident you want to spend all afternoon with him, meet up for a quick coffee or drink first. Something with minimal time commitment, like a coffee shop. My 2 most successful dates from online, I met at a coffee shop (the same one, actually, 4 years apart!) and we ended up together for 8+ hours. However, it’s also an easy way to cut and run after an hour if you’re not feeling it. Alternately, I’ve been stuck at dinner way too many times with a guy so boring I’d rather be counting the ceiling tiles.
      3) My favorite question to ask is “What would you be doing if you could be doing anything?” It’s a real head-scratchier. If the guy says “Huh, I don’t know,” I know it’s probably not going to be a good fit for me because c’mon, dude, have passion for SOMETHING. :)

      Also, it’s definitely important to remember this date is about seeing if you like him just as much as he likes you! It took me a woefully long time (read: into my 30s) to get that part.

  36. MsChanandlerBong*

    Does anyone here have monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS)? I am waiting for a consult (March 6), but I’d like to hear from people who have been diagnosed with it. Do you have to have regular blood tests to monitor it?

    1. Mimmy*

      I don’t have it but I just googled it (because I’m weirdly curious about these things), and it does recommend regular checks to watch for disease progression. I’ll post the link to the article I found in a reply.

      Good luck with your consult.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        Thanks. I’ve been a little nervous since I got the news. My mom works for a pathologist, so he looked at the results and said I should see a hematologist, but I don’t want to be like, “A doctor 1,986 miles from here says I need a referral to a hematologist,” so I’ve been waiting to go to the rheumatologist to see if he wants to do additional tests. My M spike is low, but I have had some abnormal CBC results over the past 18 months (one time, my red cells, white cells, and platelets were all abnormal, but then they were fine the next time). My oxygen saturation has also been lower than usual, which can be related to problems with the blood cells, so I just want to find out what is going on.

  37. all aboard the anon train*

    Does anyone have any recommendations for travel groups that cater to late 20something/early 30 something women?

    I’m 30 and most of my previous friends I’ve travelled with are married with houses and kids, so they’re not really interested in traveling. I have traveled alone, but I enjoy seeing new places with people and meeting new people as travel friends. A lot of the great deals through groupon or other tours cost more if you’re traveling solo (damn single tax) versus as a couple or pair. Most other tour groups either cater to college kids and early 20somethings looking to party or much older couples or women (50s/60s). Or the ones I have found for 30somethings seem more concerned with singles looking to hookup while on vacation. I just want to meet some other awesome women who like to travel.

    I’m surprised there aren’t more groups for female travelers in the 30 age range, but I don’t know if I’m missing something. Thoughts? Recommendations?

    1. R*

      This may not be helpful for you, but I took a 2 week trip to New Zealand with Overseas Adventure Travel. They do not charge extra for singles, and the trip was fantastic. BUT…The company caters to 55+. However I went at age 28 and had an amazing time. The other travelers were so friendly and welcoming, and as a non party person I appreciated the more mature, educational approach. There were a few times I would have liked to do things at a quicker pace but there was plenty of free time so I did more then. (The reason I took this tour? I unexpectedly changed jobs and wanted to take a big trip in between, but didn’t have time to plan anything on my own. OAT had a spot available to NZ and no single supplement sealed the deal.)

    2. Trill*

      I’ve done a few tours with GAdventures.

      They pair you with a roommate rather than charging a singles supplement (although you can pay to upgrade to your own room if you wish).
      They have a lot of different trip styles. Their YOLO style trips are limited to ages 18-39, and the ones I’ve done were mainly late 20s/early 30s but overall ranged from about age 20-38 in the group.
      I’ve also done a couple trips that were their active style where ages ranged from 20s to 50s but majority were late 20s/30s.
      The trips I’ve done have mainly been to more remote and adventurous locations (jungles, hiking, etc) so I don’t know what their city based tours are like in terms of group dynamics.

      But I’ve met some great people doing these trips, and had some wonderful and unique experiences, and I’m hoping to do another tour with them to Africa this summer.

      Note–their tours are not exclusively for women, although I’ve found that most end up with more girls than guys. And usually an equal mix of people travelling in pairs (couples/friends), and solo travellers.

      1. Uncivil Engineer*

        I’ve had decent luck with Gadventures and also hear good things about Intrepid Travel. They both focus on small group tours. There were more women than men on the trips and several were travelling alone. I didn’t make friends for life, but they were more than adequate travel companions for the length of the tour.

        When I made reservations, I actually called Gadventures to ask the ages of the other people on the tour. I didn’t want to be on a tour full of senior citizens or full of college-aged kids.

      2. Jo*

        Seconding G Adventures. The first (but definitely not to be the last) trip I took with them to Morocco last fall was awesome. There was a group of four older (sixties, maybe) Australian ladies traveling together who were an absolute riot, a few odds and ends who kinda kept to themselves, and then there were 6 of us who were younger (early 30s to early 40s) and mostly hung out together on the rare free days and had a lot of fun. That trip was also pretty evenly split male/female.

    3. NYC Redhead*

      I traveled with Intrepid as a single woman in her early 30s and loved it! There were only 12 people on the trip; 10 were women and 8 were traveling by themselves. There’s no single supplement and they will pair you up with a roommate. Our tour leader switched up the roommates in each city, so you didn’t get stuck wth anyone. They have different styles of trip, from very basic to more luxurious. They emphasize having real experiences so even on my mid-range trip we took some public transportation, which was cool. I think Intrepid and G Adventures are very similar and might have the same ownership.

  38. katamia*

    Anyone have any historical fiction recs? I’d prefer something long and maybe a bit slow and really don’t want something war/battle-heavy. I’d prefer 1700s or earlier (but am open to something later if it’s really good), and any location is okay, although bonus points for anything set in Asia (including the Middle East).

    1. NaoNao*

      I vaguely recall reading a series (which upon looking up I think is by Wilbur Smith) about Ancient Egypt, so that might work!
      My wider recommendation is to immediately fire up goodreads and comb through their selections–you name it, they can find it for you!

    2. Kj*

      Not Asia, but Sharon Kay Penman’s books are amazing, well detailed and very true to the historic record. She has a trilogy about Wales (Here Be Dragons is the first, I think) and The Sunne in Splendor is about Richard III. She also wrote a detailed and much lauded series about Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine and their lives and their children. First is While Christ and His Saints Slept. They aren’t the thinly veiled romance that many historical fiction novels seems to be and I love them to pieces. Her latest is about Richard the Lionhearted and it is set largely in the Middle East during the crusades. Lionheart is the title.

    3. FDCA In Canada*

      Are you OK with no war, but a little politics and stuff? Personally I hate that even though I love historical fiction, so I feel you. Forever Amber is a monster of a book set in 17th-century England, and while it’s a romance it’s just crammed with details about life in the Restoration period. Anya Seton has a couple of other enormous romance-y novels that are a bit slow and set before then, especially Katherine (14th century) and The Winthrop Woman (17th century New England). Now, I haven’t personally read The Twentieth Wife by Indu Sundaresan, but it’s on my list (17th-century India, Mughal Empire), or Wolf Hall/Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel (16th century England, Cromwell), but those all got fantastic reviews. Ken Follett isn’t a personal favourite of mine, but he writes some BIG BOOKS–the Pillars of the Earth books are about building a cathedral in 12th-century England, and they go on for ages. Sigrid Undset’s classic Kristin Lavransdatter books are fairly long, and set in the middle ages in Norway.

      1. katamia*


        Politics are fine. I just really hate slogging through pages and pages of swordfighting or guns shooting or whatever weapons are time- and location-appropriate.

    4. The Other Dawn*

      I like the Matthew Corbett series from Robert McCammon. The first book is Speaks the Nightbird and takes place in 1699. Matthew Corbett is a magistrate’s clerk and eventually goes on to become one of the first “problem solvers” AKA detective. There are a total of six books and I’ve enjoyed them all. The books span different locations, mostly early colonial America and England. Here’s a link to the list of McCammon’s novels. Just look for the Mattew Corbett books. http://www.robertmccammon.com/novels.html

      I also like Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth and A World Without End, both very long and mostly spanning generations.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Definitely these!
        I read the first book and I have the others but I haven’t got round to them yet. I started reading McCammon in the 1980s, when he wrote mostly horror (including Swan Song, which is one of the best post-apocalyptic speculative books ever; it’s right up there with The Stand).

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Swan Song was awesome! The Stand, too. And I’ve read all the Matthew Corbett books and am impatiently waiting for the next one, which is likely two years away. :(

    5. caledonia*

      The Crimson Petal and the White! (+ BBC adaptation). Victorian England. Also second Forever Amber.

    6. Caledonia*

      The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (post WW2, just)
      My Name Is Mary Sutter (US Civil War era)

    7. Lightly-chewed Jimmy*

      I only have mystery series to recc, but if that’s up your alley at all: the Chronicles of Brother Cadfael (Ellis Peters, set in medieval England (Welsh border) during the wars between King Stephen and Empress Matilda (the war is mostly background)), the Lord Meren series (Lynda Robinson, set in Egypt during the reign of Tutankhamen), and the Lieutenant Bak series (Lauren Haney, set in Egypt during the reign of Hatshepsut).

    8. Elizabeth West*

      I really want to try my hand at writing some historical fiction sometime. Secret Book of Shame (because it sucks) is set in the 1950s-1970s, but I’d like to try something really ancient.

      OH OH OH OMG How could I forget?! Read Jean Auel’s Earth’s Children series!!!

      Six books about ancient humans, seen through the eyes of Ayla, a modern-ish human who is rescued by a Neanderthal clan after her family dies in an earthquake when she is very small. The Clan of the Cave Bear is a bit of a slog since the Clan doesn’t really speak, but you’ll need that background for the rest of Ayla’s adventures.

      It’s like a prehistoric soap opera, packed with fascinating, incredibly well-researched details of Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon life, lively characters, epic journeys, and cool Ice Age animals. Lots of naughty stuff, though; you’ve been warned. ;) I know that’s a bit earlier than you prefer, but I really enjoyed them. That reminds me to re-read them. I haven’t in ages.

    9. Gene*

      The Cixin Liu trilogy that starts with The Three-Body Problem. I’m halfway through the second. The first book won the 2015 Best Novel Hugo, the first translated work to win.

      It starts during the Cultural Revolution in China, and most of the story (so far) is China centric. So not historical, but no battle so far.

    10. PollyQ*

      Neal Stephenson’s The Baroque Cycle calls itself Science Fiction, but is really (IMHO) historical fiction about Isaac Newton and many other characters, real & fictional. A good chunk of the story takes place on an ocean voyage, including travels to Asia.

    11. SophieChotek*

      Melanie Benjamin’s Alice I Have Been was an interesting look at Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland

      If you really want something long and slow….Dream of the Red Chamber is the classic Chinese novel. It’s like three times longer than War and Peace

    12. SophieChotek*

      Jean Plaidy wrote her Queens of England series a lot of other historical biographies. (Wrote Gothic romance as Victoria Holt/Philippa Carr).

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I like Jean Plaidy, but some of her books are better than others. I have read a few of the Victoria Holt/Philippa Carr ones too. For some reason, they keep popping up at second hand charity book sales!

        I used to like Philippa Gregory but went off her with the Cousins’ War series which includes my pet hate, using the present tense. I didn’t like Wolf Hall/Bring up the Bodies for the same reason.

    13. LizB*

      The Years of Rice and Salt is more alternate history than historical fiction, but it’s long and kinda slow and heavily features Asia! The premise of the story is that 99% of Europe’s population died in the Black Plague (as opposed to the historical 30-60% who did), leaving that part of the world almost completely depopulated, and resulting in Asia and the Muslim world becoming the dominant forces in the history of the world. It spans a timeline from the 1300s to the present day, and it’s a fascinating perspective on how things could have developed very differently.

    14. Bad Candidate*

      No bonus points, but have you read Outlander? The start of it is set in the 1940s and it does jog to the 60s/70s at a later point, but most of it is set in mid 1700s Scotland. There’s several books and it’s now been made into a TV series on Starz.

    15. Finny*

      I quite like the historical fiction books by Michael and Katherine O’Neal Gear, about all sorts of First Nations and Native American peoples.

  39. Anon for this*

    I commented a couple weeks ago about the friend who never contacts me first. Your input was really helpful. I’ve seen the friend recently and it’s clear to me that she cares about me and our relationship. I’ve reframed the situation to something like “her responding quickly and positively to me is her contribution to the relationship, me initiating contact is my contribution” and this feels ok. I also think I have accepted that our relationship means more to me than to her, but for now that’s ok. It doesn’t matter as long as we are exchanging good feelings for each other, and I think we are. Thanks for your input.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Good solution, well done.

      I have friendships where I do a lot of the initiating, then other friendships where they do a lot of the initiating. Not sure why this happens, but as long as it works, keep going.

  40. Rebecca*

    Looking for turkey ideas! I have a turkey in the freezer and I’m going to cook it before the weather gets too warm, and I was hoping to find some different ways to eat it, other than with filling and gravy or sandwiches. Do you have any go to recipes?

    1. Lizabeth*

      BBQ? Treat it like a chicken…

      Loretta specials…openface sandwich with rye bread, Swiss cheese, turkey, lettuce, tomato and bacon with a sauce of chili sauce and mayo over it, eat with knife and fork. Order of ingredients has been the subject of epic discussions in my family over the years.

      Turkey tetrazzini is good if you like pasta and mushrooms.

      Or just cook it and slice and freeze while you look for recipes

    2. Lightly-chewed Jimmy*

      Curry! it’s good for all those unsightly bits left at the end (or with sightly bits too :) ) and if you add in any leftover gravy it’s amazing

    3. FDCA In Canada*

      My family always grills our Thanksgiving turkeys and they also come out beautifully! I’ve only ever used a charcoal grill, but a gas grill is fine too. Usually the routine is: grilled turkey for one meal with cranberry sauce, stuffing, etc., typical holiday food; sliced turkey for sandwiches for a couple of days; the turkey gets de-meated and picked apart and the meat gets diced up and put in the freezer; the turkey bones with some meat on them become turkey soup. The diced-up meat usually goes into turkey pot pie, turkey stir fry, turkey chili, turkey curry, or something along those lines that requires diced-up meat.

    4. Jessesgirl72*

      Do you know anyone with a smoker? We always smoke our turkeys, and they turn out soooo delicious. And then the stock made from the smoked carcass is even more delicious, later.

      We’ve also grilled them.

    5. Sparkly Librarian*

      In my family leftovers are made into mole de pavo (with a canned sauce it’s super easy — eat with rice, beans, tortillas, avocado) and then the carcass (and neck) become turkey barley soup.

  41. Kristen*

    I’m not quite sure what I’m asking here, but here it goes anyhow:

    I’m in a serious relationship, but not yet married and considering beginning a family in the next year. My concern is my future mother-in-law (the FMIL). I genuinely love my FMIL and I think it’s great that she can’t wait to have grand children. I’m excited about the strong bond she’ll form with our child(ren). However, I can’t eliminate this fear that she will be overbearing and undermine my parenting. The kids aren’t even in this world yet and I already feel defensive. The reason I have the fears are because she has already spoken about spoiling our child(ren) even though she knows my SO and I have strong feelings against it. She also tends to baby my SO whenever he’s sick by bringing over medicine (even though we live together and I think I’m more than capable of babysitting a 36 year old haha) or calls frequently. To be fair, my own parents are very hands off, so that’s what I’m used to. She’s somewhat needy in that way though. I admit most of this feeling is coming from my gut which is why I can’t really explain well why I feel the way I do.

    Has any body else felt this way about their own mother or MIL prior to having children and turned out to be wrong?

    1. nep*

      Wow — the FMIL brings her 36-year-old son medicine when he’s sick?
      Anyway I’ll be interested to read about people’s experiences here and how they’ve dealt with similar situations.

    2. Happymammy*

      I don’t have a MIL (she died before I met my husband) but my own mother is fairly invasive sometimes about looking after our kids. It’s a 2-edged sword: free babysittting and tons of support (she came down almost every single day and let me have a nap before the kids were sleeping through the night) on the one hand, and constant arguments on the other (wearing coats in the car, not giving them treats, etc). On the whole I think it’s more positive than negative to have a loving involved grandparent (free sleep!) but some days I just want to scream at her!

      The main piece of advice I have for you is to make your husband deal with her. She is his mother it is his responsibility to stand up to her. Talk to him about your fears and ask him to have a discussion with her before you even start trying. Make him make her understand that the kids are yours not hers and while she is welcome to visit any parenting decisions will be made by the two of you.

      How well he manages to have that talk with her will be a good test for how well he manages to stand up to her when the kids come.

      My mother still argues with me a lot but she mostly does what I ask regarding the kids regardless of whether she agrees or not. She has even been known to praise my parenting on occasion.

    3. BRR*

      Not what you asked but there are a lot of letters to Carolyn hax about how to create boundaries with in laws.

    4. Marcela*

      I can’t guve you advice for your problem, sorry, just a different point of view. In my family it is jokingly said that grandparents are just to spoil grandchildren. That is their right. However, that does not mean at all that the grandchildren are spoiled, for the parents are there to educate the children and let them know about limits. We are taking about simple stuff, like giving us sweets my parents did not usually allowed us to eat, or getting to bed later when they were visiting us, or watching something just slightly out of limits with them. Nothing serious and the limit was very clear: you -brother and I- are only allowed to do this because we -my parents- love your grandparents very much, and they are never trying to really interfere with anything important, like medicines, school work. I still remember my grandad giving us bubblegum, which my mom did not allow because the dentist adviced against them, and my mom explaining that to my Tata and us, but also saying that she was going to let us keep it that time. It turned out my Tata did not know it was bubblegum, that he did not like :)

      However, there is something to be said, something I have been told several times in this blog. Get your husband to enforce limits now, no matter how small and silly they seem. If he cannot do that, then there is going to be trouble.

      1. Turtlewings*

        This is exactly what I was thinking — that spoiling the kids is what grandparents are for! Not that grandparents can’t take it too far and be overbearing, etc., but just because she says she’s “looking forward to spoiling them” doesn’t mean she actually intends to be a problem. Grandparents are able to be more fun than parents because their presence is the exception instead of the rule, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It’s okay for the kids to have a treat now and then.

      2. Jessesgirl72*

        Yeah, I second this. Parents have to set limits. Grandparents don’t. So unless the spoiling gets really out of hand and she’s letting the kids do something dangerous, or that really impacts you (like loading them up on sugar before sending them home) the best bet is just to Let It Go. And I say this as someone who has already had one meltdown over how my parents and inlaws will be with the 18 week old fetus. LOL So believe me, it’s not that I don’t understand or think you’re crazy to worry about it now. ;)

        The important thing is for you and your SO to come to agreements on the kids.

      3. Kristen*

        I totally understand some of this and agree with you. My concern is more about with the stuff (i.e., endless toys) she plans on buying them.

        1. TL -*

          If she lives close enough, just tell her she needs to keep the toys at her house. The kids still get to play with them but she can deal with the logistics of having so many toys.

    5. Sybil Fawlty*

      Yes, I had to set boundaries with my parents-in-law and a few times it got heated lol. But parenting always trumps grand-parenting. You control their access and if your rules are fairly consistent and not too off the wall, you’ll be fine. You don’t need to ask their permission, you tell them how things will be.

      You may find that you like having her available to babysit and help out, kids are so exhausting. So look for the silver lining, and assume that it will go fine, because it probably will.

      Also, you will bond closely with your children, in ways that your MIL won’t, it’s just the nature of parenting. So it’s not like you’ll have to compete with her for your children’s attention. Being the mom is a very powerful position.

      I wouldn’t say I turned out to be wrong about my in-laws, but after a few tough conversations, we got things worked out. And I was very grateful to them for being more involved than my own parents are. So I would say it all worked out for the best. I hope that’s what happens for you, too.

    6. E*

      Reddit has a forum called JustNoMIL which is a good place to learn about similar MIL issues and how to set boundaries. If she already isn’t listening to you about spoiling children you don’t have yet, it’s definitely concerning.

    7. Sabrina the Teenage Witch*

      I don’t have any advice because I don’t have kids, but I find I’m in a similar situation with my kind of mother in law. Her son and I have been dating for nine years in October and I don’t want to get married so I’m happy with the situation. She works part time and lives about three hours from us, but across the country from her other son. She comes to visit once a month or so and boyfriend pays her to clean our house because while we’re not dirty, we work a lot of hours and things just stack up. Every single time she comes over I feel like I’m being judged for one thing or another and can’t wait for her to leave.

  42. Robin*

    Looking for suggestions:

    I’m chairing a panel at a conference that will discuss professional careers (for ecologists). One item I’d like to discuss is the various websites out there that post jobs. Since I haven’t been job hunting in 15 years, I’m not up to speed on them. Please suggest any websites that are valuable for job seekers. And point out any that aren’t any good (for example, I know many people may use zillow for house hunting, but its with the caveat that there’s a lot of incorrect information on the site). thanks for any insights

  43. Katie the Fed*

    Alison –

    Would you be willing to write a little about the mechanics of running a blog like this? How long it took for it to pick up steam, how you marketed, etc? I’m considering starting a blog on something I’m very passionate about (personal finance for young adults) but I’m not sure how much content and time I can commit to, or if it’s worth it.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes! I didn’t do any marketing. It seems like magical thinking, in retrospect. I may have gotten really lucky with the timing? I actually talked about this, and the picking-up-steam process, a few weeks ago in the thread that starts here:

      So that’s an annoying answer, I know.

      My advice for anyone considering starting a blog is this: Because a large amount of whether any new blog will build an audience comes down to pure luck, you should only do it for the joy of it. If you will find satisfaction in it no matter how it plays out, do it! But if you will be frustrated if it doesn’t go anywhere, don’t do it … and instead see if there are other outlets for your interest in the topic, like contributing to someone else’s site.

      But if there’s anything specific you’re wondering about that’s not in the link above, ask away! I enjoy talking about it.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Thank you! I know at least a few friends would read it, since they’ve all come to me for financial advice over the years :)

        I had a food blog at one point which did pretty well readership-wise, but it was way too much work to keep up. It was the photo editing that killed me.

        1. NDQ*

          Good for you! I started a blog awhile back and I do not market it aggressively and even after a year, the numbers depend upon how much I post, which isn’t consistent. While I guess you could call it personal finance, my premise is: save all you can and buy income-producing assets. My life goal is to replace my day job income by 2022, then retire (early). I’m on track and it has become a game. I post some of the ups and downs when I have time, but with a demanding government day job AND a multi-family rental property to manage, time for the blog is minimal.

          I believe that when people take control of their spending/investing and follow a plan, they increase their happiness, they feel more secure, and have a beautiful feature to look forward to while enjoying today. Once you get your site up and running, post the link and I’ll add you to my blogroll!


    2. BRR*

      I would love a good finance blog. There was one I liked where the blogger often used her finances as an example but I think she stopped posting. A lot seem to be about frugalness which I think is important but I see money savings tips and personal finance as separate topics.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Money savings is in the immediate time frame.
        Personal finance is in the future time frame.

        It’s two different mindsets to me. We need to use both, of course. I do agree that if I am looking for money saving ideas I do not want to read a bunch of financial planning stuff.
        I need to use a big picture frame of mind for the financial planning, where as with money saving ideas I have rolled up my sleeves and I am looking at current time details.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          This is interesting. I kind of enjoy blogs that do both – the big picture stuff and the small money-saving things. I don’t mean couponing, but strategies to save money in the short term so you can apply it to the long term.

            1. Katie the Fed*

              Oh, I agree. I know that stuff adds up but I generally feel like my time is better spent not looking for ways to save a nickel or two.

              On the other hand – I’m amazed by how much you can save just by asking – that’s something I want to discuss. On big ticket items especially – I’ve done really well telling potential contractors things like “Unfortunately, my budget is X – do you have any thoughts of how we can work with this project to get it to that point?” and usually we can come up with something.

    3. EA*

      I would love a personal finance blog.

      Everything I see is either geared toward older people or very very frugal. I don’t want to feel guilty/judged for spending.

    4. Red*

      Ha, I’ve been thinking of doing the same thing! You should definitely do it, because I am looked upon as some sort of wizard for being a 23 year old with my finances (mostly) in order, and that’s sad. People deserve to feel happy with what their money is doing for them. If you ever need a guest post or two so you can have a break, hit me up!

    5. caledonia*

      I think it should be taught in schools so a blog aimed at this age range or from 10, 11 onwards would be a good idea.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Oh that’s interesting. I was thinking of the target audience as being people in their first or second job, recent college grads, etc.

  44. Charlie Q*

    Any tips for making stretch marks a little less visible?

    I don’t mind mine in general, so it’s not really a body image thing. (Okay, it is a little, but not wholly.) But there are a couple that aesthetically bother me more than the rest. Anybody have any success fading theirs? Or, I guess, learning to not be bothered by them?

    1. Jules the First*

      No stretchmarks but I’ve got a ton of scars. The only thing that worked was a heinously expensive cream (I think it was about $500/100mL) which wasn’t worth it. What helped most was an exercise my therapist recommended, which sounded super skeezy, but actually worked – she had me spend at least 15 minutes a day naked (in the shower didn’t count) exploring how different things looked and felt (so some days there would be a fabric or a texture to explore, other days it was about taking up a yoga pose, or sketching, etc). It took about six months of daily practice, but it worked and I’m no longer self-conscious at all – I’ll wear a bikini on the beach without a second thought and when we went to Iceland last Christmas and I was so relaxed strolling through the swimming pool change rooms starkers that people kept assuming I was a local.

      1. nep*

        Interesting approach. Could you elaborate a bit about what the issue was when your therapist recommended that exercise?
        Bugs the hell out of me to be naked — in any circumstances. I even hate getting naked for the shower. Of course it’s not a huge deal when I’m feeling good about my body, but that’s rare. (Don’t get me wrong — I’m grateful for my general well-being. Just super ill at ease when naked.) Anyone else?

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I have showered in the near dark for decades. My body looks it’s best in that lighting.

          Years ago I got really excited about a LBD. It’s ME. It starts around my tonsils and goes to my ankles. It’s perfect. The little black dress that covers everything.

          1. nep*

            If I wore dresses, that would be the LBD for me.
            (I usually have the lights low, too. Awful when it’s bright outside and there’s no getting away from it.)

        2. Jules the First*

          I had some fairly serious health issues from puberty until university (hence the scars) and I’ve had a string of therapists on and off since kindergarten (I had trouble as a child interpreting other people’s behaviour in an emotional context and while I’m a fully functioning human these days, I still do a few sessions when there are big events in my life to make sure I’m handling the emotions appropriately).

          The one I saw at university was supposed to be helping me adjust emotionally to a life-changing but not life-limiting diagnosis and thought that I would benefit from a healthier relationship with my body-as-a-phsyical-object. She tried a bunch of ’empowering’ exercises first (my amazing body can do physical-activity-of-the-week) and morning mantras (my body is beautiful, my body is strong, yada yada), all of which I thought was lame, so I think the nudity exercise was a last resort (I now know that this kind of exercise is more commonly used in reclaiming sexuality after assault but that wasn’t an issue for me at the time).

          The emotional adjustment was a failure (not her fault – I was sooooo not ready to do that kind of work!), but she knocked it out of the park with the body relationship.

    2. Elkay*

      I used Bio Oil on a scar and it did a really good job of reducing it but that was when the scar was very new, I’m not sure how well it would work on stretch marks, although it is advertised on the side of the box as working on stretch marks.

    3. Marcela*

      No stretch marks, but two BIG scars, one burn scar covering all the side of my right leg, from hip to knee, and a thin surgery scar from under my breast to halfway between my navel and pubis. Depending on the scars, massaging helps. No special cream is necessary, just any thick moisturizer cream. Massaging in circles, over and over, seems to break the collagen that makes them keloids, and forces them to regenerate. Actually, that just handwaving: I don’t know why my leg scar got a lot better after I started massaging it almost every week. Another thing I do is to always protect my scars with sunscreen. They just cannot take any sun.

      Beyond that… I honestly don’t care if people see my scars. I got the leg one when I was a child, so for a very long time I thought it was that I was used to see it there. But then I got peritonitis and they cut me open, with a scar that you just cannot ignore if I wear a bikini or do topless. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to live with that scar, but in my first holiday I decided to wear a bikini anyway and see what happened. Nothing happened. I could not care less about my scars. Most days I don’t even remember they are there, and I’m more bothered by my sunspots :)

      1. Anon for this*

        I’m making an “I’m not a doctor, but” comment, but my surgeon explained massaging scars exactly the way that you described.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Best to start doing it right after–I don’t know how much an older keloid will flatten, but I have a very old one on my neck that is totally flat now after years of just years.

    4. Anon for this*

      Mine just faded over time. They’re still visible to me, but I don’t think anyone else could notice.

      I can’t remember who said this (someone correct me?). An interviewer was talking to an actress at some red carpet event, being pretty aggressive and rude. He said, “Nice stretch marks!” She said, “Thanks – I hear every woman has them.”

      And just about every person does. We all get them when we grow.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I was just reading that witch hazel helps with stretch marks and scars.

      I had puncture wounds from different accidents on each knee. The scars went away totally after taking vitamin E for about a year and a half. These were decent punctures- probably 3/4 of an inch to an inch deep. (I have fat knees. This worked out well for me because I had NO bone injuries.)
      You can also rub vitamin E oil on them but I did not have much luck with that one.

  45. Sunflower*

    How can I be more realistic about my expectations with moving to a new place?

    I’ve mentioned that I’m hoping to move to Australia at the end of the year . I’m unhappy, I’ve lived in the same city all my life, haven’t done much traveling and regardless of whether I like it or hate it, I know this is something I need to do. Sure I’ll get to travel, see amazing things and have new experiences but I also know part of my wanting to leave is wanting to escape my anxiety and problems with relationships I have here. Even though I know all of these things will follow me, I can’t shake this idea that I’ll move there and POOF I’ll just be so much happier. Things will be easier, what I want will become clearer and I’ll get a better idea of ‘who I am’. IDK how to shake these thoughts even though I know they aren’t very likely to happen…

    1. Hrovitnir*

      Oo! I don’t know about advice, but I have recent/current relevant experience.

      *I am in the process of contemplating moving overseas because (a) it is almost mandatory to travel for work experience in science research, and (b) there are so few jobs in NZ that all the bloody career talks have basically been “yeah… sorry. Maybe come back when you’re experienced?”

      *I have a partner and animals I do *not* want to be without for 4+ years. So I’m currently doing a short project to network and potentially come back later.

      *I’m not super patriotic or sentimental about NZ, every time I’ve gone overseas previously (Europe twice, Asia once, North America once) I have felt good, not only no jet lag but actually sleeping much better, happy enough with cultural change and in one case felt sort of depressed coming back?

      So. I have now been in Sweden for 6 weeks. I was so unhappy about leaving my partner that I cried for two days before I left and if it wasn’t such a huge financial and career investment I would have bailed. I was even more down being away from him than expected (I expected very bad but more episodic than constant). I was nauseous for 2 weeks and got a bad chest cold coming off that. So… it was unpleasant.

      I am now pretty adjusted. It doesn’t feel significantly different from home, I like the people I’m working with, the change of pace *has* helped me be more active and productive. I’m not a new person though, I’m still depressed and anxious, and there have been times when the idea of moving here has made me want to cry.

      So… that’s not advice in any way shape or form. But it’s a data point? I think you could find it easier and have a better idea of “who you are”! Possibly not as much as you – and I – hoped, but it’s not impossible. The only real advice I guess is hold onto that feeling that it will be good but try and have low expectations?

      Er, I hope that’s helpful in any way. If you have any questions I could help with I’m happy to – there will be people with experience closer to yours too, I’m sure. :)

    2. misspiggy*

      I dunno, I’ve always found living and working in a new country has helped me clarify who I am, and given me a chance to be the version of me that I want to be.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Well, there’s an old saying–“Wherever you go, there you are.” So no, POOF probably won’t happen, but I do think a change of scenery and dealing with new things is a good way to shake up old habits and patterns.

    4. Sara smile*

      Australia is awesome. Hubs and I often discuss possibly relocating there (we live in Asian country now). It is different enough to be a change of scenery and same enough that you can battle homesickness easily.

      Like you, I originally moved abroad to somewhat leave issues behind. I moved abroad because I wanted to as well, don’t get me wrong, but leaving behind things was definitely one of the perks. For me, I had a combination of being able to become the real me and also the whole where you go there you are being the same person. I think I mostly just had space to really think about who I was and what I wanted, with the benefit of no one knowing me and having preconceived notions about me. Moving isn’t a cure all but it definitely allows you to reinvent yourself somewhat if that is what you are looking for. And there is a huge advantage of giving you space from some of your problems to see them with new eyes.

      One tip I will give you, homesickness is real. You may find yourself wanting things you didn’t really know you wanted. I would crave the strangest things like kraft mac and cheese, which I hadn’t eaten for 10 years, just because it was from home. Homesickness doesn’t mean you can’t cut it in your new country. I made rules for myself like I was not moving home no matter what, so I better make it work. I would go to any event I was invited to. I became a tourist and was always visiting things (this was also a great icebreaker with people I was meeting at work – people were lining up to visit attractions with me that they hadn’t seen since they were kids). I would explore hobby classes. I made it work and not having the move work wasn’t an option.

      Good luck!

  46. Persephone Mulberry*

    Last week I asked how big of a risk I would be taking by adopting a third cat when the max per unit is supposed to be two. Well, I decided to take my chances and took in the friend’s cat. She is an absolute snugglebun! I’m still keeping her well separated from my other cats – she makes the most amazing demonic noises when they come anywhere near the door to the room she’s in. My other cats are more curious than aggressive, though, so I’m hoping eventually she’ll settle down.

    1. Hrovitnir*

      Yay, good luck! I can only say you almost can’t go too long in keeping them separated. We have had a maximum of 13 cats (now down to 9 :( ), and when we have adopted adults/seniors we have kept them in their own room with beds/climbing frames/litter trays etc for months – I pretty much gauge the right time to let them out by how much they start wanting to/being confident going out. It’s worked incredibly effectively.

      Now, we have a big house, and such a big group of cats means the dynamics are rather different to 2 + 1, but it’s worked remarkably well with… 5 cats, only 2 of which came together.

    2. Jerry Vandesic*

      You still need to be careful about the limit and what it might do to your tenancy. My BIL allows pets at his rentals, but also has limits, and when he notices a tenant has ignored the limit he responds aggressively. First is a 25% rent increase, something he calls the “stupid tenant that can’t follow directions” tax. If they don’t pay, he immediately files for eviction, no leniency. I’ve seen it happen a couple times, and the tenants weren’t major problems, but he always goes to his “the landlord is in charge, not the tenant” mantra and gets them out quicly.

      1. NDQ*

        I’m a landlord of a no pet property. I’d give notice they are violating lease, give a time period to fix, then if not fixed, they move out in 30 days. It’s going to be tough to find a new place that accepts three cats. Oy!


    3. NanaK*

      Sorry, I don’t remember the name…but friends used a plug-in phernome (sp?) from the pet store when they added another cat to the mix. All cats mellowed out almost instantly. [Humans can’t smell it.] Left it plugged in for quite some time; then gradually reduced the time. Everyone is now living happily ever after.

  47. Amadeo*

    More soaping adventures! Cap soap! Scented with a blend that smells like apple pie. For you other soapers you will get some amusement out of the fact that neither fragrance oil on its own was an accelerant to soap batter, but combined…well. The batter laid down rubber as it took off. I was chanting ‘oh geez, oh geez, oh geez’ putting it into the mold, stuck a spoon down in it and whisked it around to make the swirls.

    Link to the picture to follow.

    1. Anonyby*

      It still turned out pretty!

      What FOs did you use? And they can be so funny sometimes! I’ve had soaps do that to me too. :) And one of them was a whipped soap, with an FO that wasn’t supposed to be a major accelerator… That was a total mess of broken, weeping soap that needed to be rebatched.

      1. Amadeo*

        WSP’s Apple Pie and BB’s Macintosh. Neither one have reviews complaining of being fast movers and I’ve used Macintosh before and it behaved like an angel. The recipe was 100% lard too, so I was totally not expecting the batter to move like that. I expect that if the hard oil had been palm it would have seized.

      1. Amadeo*

        Email me if you wanna be a tester. Address is in my name. They need to age about 5 more weeks yet though.

  48. Bananistan*

    I need advice for talking to my roommate. We’ve lived together for almost 2 years, and are friendly, but barely talk to each other. She is INSANELY messy. I leave dirty dishes in the sink sometimes, but she will leave an entire plate of food on the counter for a week. She spills stuff and doesn’t clean it up. She has also started using my utensils when she runs out of clean ones, until I have no clean ones. Last week I found two of my dirty utensils under the couch. Some of my utensils are still missing.
    What should I do? She’s been messy for two years, so I feel like it’s weird to bring it up now, but the utensil thing (which is new) is driving me nuts. I’ve considered focusing on that one thing, but everything she’s doing is terrible, and I’m afraid that once I talk to her about one thing I won’t be able to contain my volcano of rage about everything else. It’s also weird since we don’t really have a relationship outside of occasionally saying hi to each other, so I feel like there’s not a ton of goodwill to fall back on.
    Wow, it felt good just to write all that. And luckily we only have a few months left living together.

    1. Allypopx*

      Oh roommate drama, I know you well. It sounds like you really just needed to vent. I’d address the utensils thing and not hyperfocus on the rest. “Hey, would you mind not using my utensils? I found a couple of them under the couch last week and it’s really important to me that my stuff is clean and I know where it is. Thanks!”

      My advice would be different if you had a longer time left together but if you’re nearing the end I’d ride out the rest in the interest of a peaceful transition out.

    2. KR*

      I would address it like this… “I know that you don’t mind a little mess, but it’s seemed to have gotten to a point in the past few months that I don’t feel comfortable with. I don’t like having to wash my own silverware or fish it out from under the couch before eating. Can we agree that you won’t touch my dishes so I can use them when I need to and that you’ll make sure dirty dishes make it in the sink soon after you use them?” That’s a pretty reasonable expectation and you can adjust it to what you’re comfortable with. It’s how I phrased it with my ex roommate – I didn’t like having to do a load of dishes before cooking because she was too lazy to clean up after herself. Your roomie is a messy person and if it bothers you that much it might be better to find someone else to live with so you don’t have to deal with the constant stress of messiness. On the other hand, she might respond very well to basic requirements for cleanliness like if she sees there aren’t any dishes or silverware available she needs to load the dishwasher or she needs to make sure her dirty plates make it into the sink.

      1. Bananistan*

        Yeah, I’m moving soon anyway and I will definitely keep this experience in mind when vetting potential roommates!

        1. Buu*

          If you’re moving out focus on her taking your stuff, and I’d say live with the rest unless it’ll harm your deposit.

  49. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    Doing taxes is such a headache and it’s the 1st time I’ve ever owed. I got a slightly higher paying job, maybe that’s why.

    I’m working on them with my dad tonight. I got a migraine last week working on them. How do you get over doing taxes? Do you treat yourself?

    1. katamia*

      I don’t find doing mine all that bad–it’s usually just a weekend. My dad’s always done his own taxes, and if I have any questions I can ask him, although I’ve done my own for long enough now that I don’t have many questions for him anymore.

      Only thing I really hate is estimated taxes (freelancing thing). I avoid paying them every year I legally can, and I really wish there were a better way because I always wind up hideously overpaying and then getting a huge refund when instead I could have used that money during the year.

    2. Loopy*

      My taxes are still really easy so I use Turbotax. But a friend recently had a whole mess from doing that and now I’m a bit nervous!!! I’ve used an accountant in years where I’ve had taxes in multiple states but I do like doing it cheaply!

      I tend to be responsible with about 80% of a refund and let myself enjoy the rest.

    3. chickabiddy*

      I have several 1099 contracts so my taxes are not straightforward (and I almost always owe a bit despite paying in quarterly, which I do not love but have come to expect and budget for and prefer to overpaying during the year). I am not naturally a numbers person but have used TurboTax for many years and do not find it to be an overwhelmingly horrible experience. I do pay every year for their audit defense program, which means that if I were to be audited, they would provide me with assistance and guidance. I haven’t needed it yet but since I am in a higher-risk category because of the multiple 1099s, I guess the peace of mind is my “treat” to myself.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I think doing taxes is always going to have some stress to it.
      You are wise to start early.
      I think start trying to figure out how to better organize yourself for next year.
      Maybe consider taking at basic tax course so you have a better handle on how it works.

      I do have a checklist for all the incoming paperwork. I do not even start to look at doing my taxes until all the paperwork has arrived. This helps to lessen my time spent on the project.

    5. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I like doing them, but I like plugging in the numbers and having them added up for me. (I have been using TurboTax for a while now.) It’s a bit like making a spreadsheet, which I also love. I also usually work it out so that we get at least a small refund, so that’s also a bit of a reward, albeit delayed.

      If you dislike it that much, can you pay someone to do it for you?

    6. Elizabeth West*

      Mine are easy, so I do them myself online (FreeTaxUSA). Fed is free; state costs about $13. It automatically does them so it’s easier to just pay the small fee, and they’ll even send it in for you. However, I don’t like doing them. I can’t remember if I treated myself — probably, because there have been cookies around here, haha.

    7. Charlie Q*

      I just finished filing my taxes (I use H&R Block Free File because I qualify to file both state and federal free through them) and it was The Worst. Mostly because last year, I had significant self-employment income and therefore ended up owing instead of getting a return. Grump grump grump.

      On the bright side, it is completely unheard of for me to do my taxes before late March at the earliest, so this is a minor miracle of adulting.

      As for rewards, I don’t do much, but I am going to curl up with some TV and a blanket tonight. :)

    8. SophieChotek*

      I just filed.

      My dad has that Turbo Tax and as long as I get all my stuff together he does it for me. I usually hand-write what I think it will be, but then he puts it all into the computer and usually I missed something or put something in the wrong place. Ha…someday I really will have to either do my own or hire someone…

    9. Stellaaaaa*

      Taxes are going to be frustrating this year for a lot of people. The IRS announced around February 15 that it would be disregarding the ACA part/Line 61 (you can leave it blank if you want), but this was well after all of the companies launched their filing software for this year. I’m in the bracket of late-20s/early-30s people for whom it doesn’t make sense to buy a crappy insurance policy (everything my state offered was lousy, I live a low-risk lifestyle and have no existing conditions, and most crucially I needed the money for other things) and I guess I’m going to have to click the “yes I had insurance in 2016” box for the sake of submitting the form.

  50. Sunflower*

    I just finished ‘The Woman who Wasn’t There’. The book is about Tania Head, a Spanish woman who claimed to be a 9/11 survivor and was found out about 6 years later, that she lied about everything. The story is totally fascinating- the woman basically started the World Trade Center Survivor’s Network and had the most incredible escape story- and none of it was true. I don’t want to give too much away but I was completely shocked at how much of what she said was fake considering she made the Survivor’s Network her life.

    I was letdown by the end of the book though- I hoping there would be input from the people who’s lives shes ruined/impacted. Or some sort of explanation as to why she did this but it turns out she has pretty much disappeared and no one has heard from her. I was at least hoping to get more input from a psychologist as to what would posses someone to do this. Either way, I was totally fascinated by this. Does anyone know of any similar books?

    1. nep*

      Not just like that — but this reminds me of an article I read about Rachel Dolezal, the white woman who apparently identified as black. I don’t know the whole story — I’ve read just bits over the years…but geeeez.

    2. Feathers McGraw*

      Psychologists can’t really comment on stuff like that – they’re not meant to ‘driveby d