weekend free-for-all – February 4-5, 2017

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

Recommendation of the week: The Mothers, by Brit Bennett. Mothers of all types, a love triangle, and choices that may or may not be the right ones.

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

{ 1,035 comments… read them below }

  1. The Cosmic Avenger*

    A cat using a cat bed, rather than laundry, a suitcase, an open drawer, a box, or basically anything OTHER than the bed that the stoopid hoomin paid good money for! This must be a first! :D

    (Our cats will go through phases of sleeping in their beds, then longer phases of sleeping just about anywhere else.)

      1. Cruciatus*

        I also have it and worried mine wouldn’t use it. One doesn’t like it, but the other two did so much I ended up buying another one. It was one of the few times they actually used something I bought for them.

      2. Ktlezbeth.*

        It took catnip and cat treats and time for ours. I only bought one at first and no one would use it. Then one day they were fighting over it, so I bought a second. Anna immediately began ignoring both beds. It took another month or so for her to look at them again. Cats. . .

    1. Cookie D'oh*

      When I first got a cat bed, tabby boy completely ignored it. Tabby girl used it for a while when I put a paper grocery bag in it. She stopped using the bed and I threw out the bag. Then our little black cat joined the family and she started using the bed without any modifications. Third time’s a charm!

    2. esra (also a Canadian)*

      My cat finally started using his cat bed because I put it right where the Christmas tree was as soon as I took it down. Now it’s 50/50 in the bed or in the shoebox I got some boots in.

    3. Rebecca*

      I bought my cats a nice, soft, plush cat bed. I even put it on my easy chair, thinking since they like to lay on the chair, they’d use the bed.


      As I type this, the cat bed is empty, and one of my cats is sound asleep on the arm of the chair, right next to it.

      1. Connie-Lynne*

        Oh no! For a while our cats had that notion about scratching pads — we think there was a turf war going on as to who owned which pad.

    4. Liz in a Library*

      One of our cats will happily use any of our cat beds. The other one only wants the one that Cat A is currently using, and if Cat A isn’t using one, he will find a non-bed surface for his lounging.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      Since I have 11 cats I have quite a few cat beds. For the most part they will all use them; however, they won’t use them all. It’s really weird. They seem to go through phases where they totally ignore certain beds, but then they suddenly decide they MUST sleep in those beds. I recently bought a huge dog bed and they love it. I’ve seen up to three on it at once. And what’s strange is that it’s the black/white cats and gray/white cat that all get together on it. It seems like all the similar color cats hang together. I’ve got the tortie group, the orange/white group, and the black/white and gray/white group. The orange Persian and white Siamese mix are kind of loners when it comes to sleeping.

    6. Noah*

      My cat ignores her cat bed, will sometimes sleep in the dog bed right after he gets out of it, and loves a Christmas blanket. So the Christmas blanket stayed on my couch after the holiday and will until she stops using it. I will admit it is nice a soft and snuggly warm.

    7. crazycatgurl*

      We got my first kitten as a stray when he was very young, so for the first week or so he was shut in a room most of the time. We had a bed for him. The first night we left the door open, we settled him in the bed and made sure he was calming down. Went to our bedroom and less than five minutes later we heard an meow and he jumped up on our bed, curled up, and went right to sleep. He sleeps with us every night and so does the kitten we adopted later. No cat beds for them! I love it because when my alarm goes off in the morning they say good morning to my husband and come over to say good morning to me and then off to play. If I hit snooze too many times my little guy will come back up and give me cat kisses to make sure I am awake :)

    8. Tabby*

      My 2 cats love their cat beds I wish they would sleep with me, then they do and I’m reminded why I love their cat beds ❤️

  2. Rat in the Sugar*

    Hey all! Thanks for the advice last week on getting my little kitters to stop attacking me at night! I wasn’t able to come back and read everyone’s responses for a few days, but I definitely gave some of it a try.

     http://imgur.com/fJLBLux (How can I stay mad at them when they’re so cute….)

    I’ve been exercising them in the evenings with a cat wand again,  instead of just letting them play each other out. I used to do that more frequently, but it’s a little difficult when Sunhillow doesn’t share his toys well. The effort seems to be paying off,  however! That, among with moving their dinner to right before bedtime, and they curl up and calm down so much faster now.

    Of course, they still attack my toes in the morning, but I think I’m going to try solving that by putting a thicker blanket on the end of the bed so their claws can’t get through. Then it will be easier to just ignore them and go back to sleep.

    1. Cookie D'oh*

      That’s great news! Glad the changes helped. Toes under blankets are quite irresistible. Hope the new blanket helps.

    2. Jessesgirl72*

      Mine usually just comes in to snuggle and then leaves again when she’s bored, but for some reason last night, I got woke up as she jumped square onto my chest from somewhere (either the floor, or vaulted over the 80 lb dog sleeping between my husband and I) I was not amused!

    3. ArtsNerd*

      Glad you’ve found changes that help! They are **adorable**.

      I don’t usually venture into the free-for-alls so it may have been mentioned last week, but I trained my cat to let me trim her claws. It’s done wonders for the integrity of my flesh. I held her in my lap with clippers and gave her a treat, then i touched her paw while holding the clippers, gave her a treat, held her paw, etc. over a period of a week or so.

      If your kitties are fairly tolerant of being handled, having their paws touched, etc. it might be worth a try.

  3. Bonky*

    28 week scan this week, and we saw our baby girl’s face for the first time.

    Slightly concerned that I appear to be gestating a celeriac.

    1. Jessesgirl72*


      We got 14 week scans this week- hematoma in the way (left from bleeding scare a couple weeks ag0) so only fuzzy low-tech internal one, but it was still good to see it be baby shaped, and not alien! ;)

    2. Legalchef*

      Congrats!!! I just had my 20 week anatomy scan and I am pretty sure I am gestating a cute little alien. A BOY alien!!!

  4. Dainty Lady*

    Wow, am I really first? Posting under a different name than usual this time because, well, you’ll see. I am at BEC stage with my dear husband because of his table manners. We’ve been married for yonks and I love him dearly but his.table.manners. Slurping, smacking, dripping, burping, utensil-clashing, *chewing with his mouth open*. I have asked him nicely and directly: “Honey, could you please chew with your mouth closed?” He will laugh at me and use comically exaggerated poncy gestures for a few minutes, chew properly for that meal, and then we’re back to it the next meal. It’s making me nuts; one day I was stressed over something, asked him to chew with his mouth closed and he was paying attention to something else, so I left the table to eat elsewhere. That did not go over well.

    I know how difficult it is to change manners that one learned in childhood, and he grew up in a culture where all this was more than fine; it’s all expected and perfectly polite. I would love to be able to change my own responses here, and certainly I bite back sobs of protest quite often…how do I change the deep inner cringing at every nom-squish-smack-BURP?!

      1. MommyMD*

        He’s had plenty of time to. He does not care. Personally I’d tell him he can eat by himself for the rest of his life until he starts acting like an adult who was not raised in a pig pen.

    1. Turtlewings*

      If it’s really unresolvable, you might just agree to eat separately. I mean, there’s no law requiring couples to eat together. My grandparents slept in different rooms; I’ve even known of couples who wanted to stay together, but had a better relationship when they lived in different houses. Eating in different rooms or at different times seems tame in comparison.

    2. Lord of the Ringbinders*

      I could forgive the noise but not the disregard for your feelings.

      Maybe you do actually need to keep leaving / eating separately?

      Do you have misophonia or is this at a level that would make any reasonable person go BEC?

    3. Sled dog mama*

      No advice but I’m totally with you my husband likes to laugh about anything I think is serious, and has horrible timing. It’s gotten to the point where it sets my teeth on edge every time he talks to me. Like yesterday I’m driving home from work and he calls and says “When are you going to be home? I just got in the truck and did you leave something in here?” Of course I’m thinking what really important thing did I leave in his truck? I know I’ve got my wallet and keys and work id, so no clue. What did I leave? Apparently when he borrowed my car earlier this week and I took his a menstral pad fell out of my purse! We’ve been married 9 years and this is why you call urgently wanting to know when I’ll be home, no it turns out he needed to run to the grocery store and wanted to know if he should wait until I got home or take our daughter with him but it took five minutes to get to that.
      Much like the time he called me and said “I need you to come pick me up at the hospital” um what! Why are you at the hospital 45 minutes away and why don’t you have a vehicle? Yeah that was a fun conversation.
      But seriously I do get where you are coming from with why should you have to ask the same thing over and over and why he can’t respect that you are asking because it matters to you

      1. Dainty Lady*

        Oh, dear, Sled dog mama, that sounds rough! Getting to the point where you flinch when your spouse speaks to you is really troubling. …The *hospital*?! Yikes!

        1. Sled dog mama*

          Now that I read it it does sound pretty awful. We’ve got some underlying issues that we’re getting counseling for and it is helping

        2. Sled dog mama*

          I realized I should also say the thing about the hospital was that my husband worked in college administration and they had a student get injured so someone else had driven my husband to the hospital and he was stuck there with no way to get home after the student’s parents arrived.

    4. SheLooksFamiliar*

      You have my sympathy and empathy – I can’t ignore bad but quiet table manners, so noisy ones are especially irritating. Maybe you can keep a neutral exterior, but I don’t think you can ever NOT react to the sounds. I’m not diagnosing you, but there’s a condition called ‘misophonia’ that could explain your reaction. Regardless, your reaction is a reflex, not a behavior. And now, good table manners are non-negotiable for you, and that should be all your husband needs to do better. His actions, unlike yours, are a choice.

      I think NJ Anon has a good point. Tell him you are tired of asking nicely, only to get more of the same boorish behavior. You’ll take your meals elsewhere until he learns to respect his wife enough to use good manners. Then do it!

    5. Me2*

      I had this problem with my son and I set up a mirror in front of his plate so he could see just how awful it looked to others. It took a few days of goofing around with it before he really saw what we were seeing.

      1. Alice H.*

        Oof, I am tempted to do this with the girls I nanny (they are 1st and 5th grade). Even when they are snacking on something small in the car, I can hear the *SMACKSMACKSMACK* GAH!

    6. NaoNao*

      I think one of the reasons he’s laughing it off is because he’s embarrassed. Your use of the word “poncy” makes me think you might be in England or a “crown territory” where class is a much bigger deal (openly) than in the USA, and this might be part of his embarrassment.
      Maybe instead of coming at it from a “this is table manners” angle, you can point out *why* one uses table manners. “Hon, you’re kind of grossing me out. It makes it hard to enjoy my meal when you chew with your mouth open.”
      Also…this might be hard to change because presumably he’s had these manners all along and it wasn’t enough to stop you from marrying the guy, so I’m sure in his mind he’s like “Why is this an issue now? Are we suddenly living at Downton Abbey?”
      I would also see if you can prioritize the manners. “Utensil clashing”, while annoying, is not a hanging offense. So start with what bothers you the most (probably the mouth open. Why do people even do this, it’s ineffective! anyhoo…)
      One last thing: many people respond to positive reinforcement *much* better than corrections. So
      “Thanks for putting on your best manners, hon. It really makes me feel that you care about me. I love that.” or
      “I noticed you were really careful tonight with table manners. It means so much to me.”

      Also, some people can’t hear it, they have to feel it. My father would leave the table when we children acted up or had poor manners and it was extremely painful. I still feel a wince of anger and hurt when I think about it, 30 years later. But I have impeccable manners! So sometimes you have to put your foot down.
      When he doesn’t respond to the above (telling him why you want him to stop, positive reinforcement) than you can simply say “Your table manners are making it impossible for me to eat. I’m going in the other room. I’ll join you for coffee in a bit.”
      It’s not a punishment, it’s you asserting your right to enjoy your meal without your gag reflex being activated!
      So he doesn’t like it? You don’t like “seefood diet” every night either!!!

    7. neverjaunty*

      The problem isn’t his table manners. The problem is that you’re very nicely telling him something bothers you, and his reaction is to mock you for it and then do it again next time. In other words, he’s being a jerk.

      Probably the time to talk to him about this is NOT during the meal – at some other time calmly explain that it really does bother you a lot, even if it’s not important to him, and you’d really appreciate it if he could make this change for you.

      If he’s still a jerk about it, well, you’re married to a jerk. The table manners are just the symptom.

      1. Parenthetically*

        This x1000. It’s definitely NOT hard to chew with your mouth closed, but more importantly, it shouldn’t be hard to stop being a total [anatomical slur redacted] to a person you’ve vowed to love, honor, and cherish when s/he asks you to chew with your mouth closed.

    8. Dainty Lady*

      Thank you for the sympathy, everyone! I do want to say that my husband is NOT a jerk, he is a warm, enthusiastic, cheerful, humorous person who doesn’t have great behavior filters DUE to that warmth and enthusiasm. He just forgets. Which is why I wish I could change MY reaction rather than his behavior…

      And, the manners have gotten worse as he’s gotten older. I noticed the same thing with his elderly mother the last few years; she reverted more and more to the manners that were acceptable in their original culture. I think that’s part of my aversion actually — I see and hear him nom-nom-nomming, and it reminds me of his *mother* and it is soooo noooot appealing.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Call him on it. You say, “Can you please chew with your mouth closed,” he responds with exaggerated manners, laughter, and then going right back to the Partially-Masticated Food Exhibition, you call him out. “Honey, when you laugh at my requests and do that exaggerated I’m Chewing With My Mouth Closed, Oooh, Look At Meeeee thing, it makes me feel like you’re mocking me and belittling my request. I find it really unappetizing to have to hear smacking lips and see chewed-up food while I’m trying to eat, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask you to at least honestly try to keep your lips together. It’s hurtful to me for you to respond the way you do and I need you to stop responding in that way. If you won’t make an effort to accommodate me, we’re going to need to make other dining arrangements.”

      2. neverjaunty*

        He may not BE a jerk, but his BEHAVIOR is jerky. He isn’t just ‘forgetting’ – when you tell him that it bothers you, he laughs at you and mocks you with gestures before going along… this time. And when you quietly excuse yourself because his behavior bothers him, he can’t be gracious about it.

        I know you love the guy, and he may be wonderful in all other ways, but he’s being an ass and he needs to cut that shit out.

      3. MommyMD*

        He kind of is a jerk. He just keeps repeating the same behavior knowing it’s bothering you and makes a big issue of it when you bring it up. Also you must not be able to go out to dinner with other couples. I would get a little tougher about it and take your meals alone until he takes you seriously.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Ask him again, when the two of you are not eating. This would be a time away from the table and kitchen/dining area.
      Perhaps suggest the visual image of a pet or child who throws up right while the two of you are eating. Then ask him to imagine a pet or child who threw up during every. single. meal. Ask him to think about the amount of effort that goes into a meal. There is meal planning, grocery shopping, proper care and storage of each item, then there is prep and cooking time. Clean up is another whole task.
      Tell him to think of all the effort that is wasted if people can’t eat the meal. Some people have a gag reflex when they see chewed food. It’s not just you and there is no way to know who has a gag reflex, people do not come with warning stickers. Let him know that it’s a handy skill to have. It helps to fit in with other people.

      The other idea I have is that you do what he is doing. And be sure to make the sounds and gestures when he is trying to speak, too. This may or may not go well, some people don’t get it when we do as they are doing. But you know what would fit your setting.

    10. Anonenony*

      No advice, but my brother does this. It has been my theory for why he never married…I always doubted he could find a woman who would tolerate it. But in recent years I notice he only does it at home, not when we are in a restaurant or with other people, so maybe it’s an indication of his familial comfort with you? Sort of like…letting loose a fart with your family but in public you would hold it in. Also, does he have a breathing problem? Maybe his nose is blocked so it’s hard to breathe while eating. If he’s got sleep apnea and related problems are causing it, you could be more forgiving; otherwise, lysistratan strategies come to mind.

    11. Amy*

      Oh my goodness. We have the exact same issue, though, thankfully, my husband has gotten a lot better about it. In the culture in which he was raised eating everything with one’s hands is the default and finger-licking, chewing with one’s mouth open, lip-smacking, etc. is all normal. I have misophonia. It’s not a good combo. However, with (10 years of) repeated reminders he has learned to chew quietly, with his mouth closed, and not lick his fingers – at least when I’m around. If I can hear him doing it in the other room I just put in headphones, though that doesn’t really work for mealtimes. I would say if he can’t behave in a way that makes you feel comfortable at mealtime then go ahead and eat separately, which will hopefully show him how much it annoys you since telling him doesn’t seem to be sinking in. Good luck!

      1. Dainty Lady*

        Wow, I’m really glad to know I’m not alone here! I don’t think I have misophonia, just that I was raised as a Dainty Southern Lady, and he was raised as a Gentleman from His Country, and the table manners are different indeed.

        I notice that it doesn’t bother me if we are with other people (distraction, plus I think he’s more careful), or if we’re watching television at dinner (distraction).

    12. Dan*

      I’m glad OP asked how she can change her reactions, because when she said that her husband has been like this since childhood and comes from a culture where this is appropriate, I had a hard time mustering up a lot of sympathy.

      I realize she says it’s gotten worse, but when someone has a behavior that you’re not the biggest fan of, and you marry them anyway, you can ask nicely, but really need to be able to accept “no” as an answer.

      1. Marcela*

        Absolutely, but if he is giving no as an answer, then he needs to accept that sometimes the reply back would be “well, I just can’t stand that”, which is something he is just not doing.

    13. Sophie*

      My BIL is the loudest friggin eater in the world and I absolutely HATE sitting next to him during a meal. I don’t how my sister puts up with it, honestly. Although I’m trapped because he’s a chef and usually cooks the meals, so I can’t say anything! (He also has a temper, so I really don’t want to.)

      No advice here- seconding maybe he has allergies/breathing issues that make him eat like this.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Hey. This works into an idea. OP, maybe you could tell him that since he cannot stop doing this maybe he needs to go to a doctor as it could be indicative of a medical problem. But you know best if that would get his attention or not.

    14. MommyMD*

      You are married to a slobby mannerless child. I’m so sorry. Men care about how they present themselves and how their wives perceive them. I could not stand this.

    15. Paula, with Two Kids*

      I had a similar problem but don’t have good news… my ex was like this, he would get ANGRY at me for being disgusted or revolted. He would get angry at me when he startled me…as if it was a reaction I could control. The deeper issue wasn’t the disgusting behavior (occasional belch/farts at the dinner table, stuffing of food in mouth before finishing bites, fork scrapes, open mouthed eating,etc), but that he genuinely did not give a flip for anyone’s feelings but his own.

      We would rarely eat out, but I would be on edge the entire time. Waiting for the crumbs to appear in his beard, to hear the scrape of his fork in his mouth, or the pile of crumb/sauce beside his plate. Genuinely did not enjoying eating in public with him unless it was a large gathering where there was a distraction from his manners.

      My ex was a narcissist who gaslighted me. I am hoping you are not dealing with that too. But it is a terrible sign that not only does he not care about your feelings on this issue, but he considers your physical discomfort to be a personal insult to him. It smacks of an ego problem, that he would rather you suffer any amount of discomfort rather than make a small change.

      1. Dainty Lady*

        No no! Goodness, I am sorry you had to go through that, Paula. I’m glad your ex is ex! My husband is kind, cheerful, sweet, listens to me, and takes great care of me. Maybe I should remind myself of this at dinner times…which after all do not last very long, all things considered.

  5. Meg*

    Anyone have any experience with tummy troubles?

    About 3-4 times per week, on average, for the past several months, I have these bouts of stomach cramping and bloating. The pain ranges on the scale from “annoying” to “must curl up in the fetal position on the couch.” I’m never nauseated, and I rarely notice a change in my, uh, “bathroom movements.”

    I have a nutrition degree, so I know about food. I eat a healthy vegetarian diet with plenty of fiber (but not too much!) and water, etc. I’ve kept a food diary to check for food intolerances, but I cannot connect this damn pain to *anything*. All I know is that it’s more likely to occur in the early evening (6-7pm). I exercise regularly, too — nothing crazy, just weight training, long walks, and yoga.

    I haven’t talked to my doctor about this yet, but I will at my annual physical. I’m in my late 20s and otherwise healthy. I make a habit of NOT googling medical things because it’s too easy to get convinced that I have cancer or something, but I figured I’d ask this group because you’re all so smart! Any ideas?

    1. J. F.*

      I mean, could be just about anything! There is something called pollen food allergy syndrome, if you’re allergic to any pollens. But really, I think you need a doctor to help you sort it out. How soon is your physical?

    2. Kit*

      Sounds like an ulcer. Get some ranitidine (zantac is the common brand name here) and take it the next time the pain hits. If it works, you know you have some type of acid problem and can go from there. Ulcers are treated these days with antibiotics to kill the helicobacter that often causes them and proton pump inhibitors to reduce the amount of acid you produce while it heals.

    3. Soupspoon McGee*

      The food diary is a great start! I had similar symptoms in college and tried eliminating dairy. Yup, lactose intolerant. Years later, it started again. I tried the low-FODMAP diet (elimination diet first) and identified more triggers. One of my co-workers is trying the paleo anti-inflammatory diet at the suggestion of her doctor, as she’s been on antibiotics quite a bit and has completely messed up her gut flora.

    4. I prefer to remain anonymous for this.*

      Yes! I don’t about 3-4 times a week though. It varies from once every few weeks to once every few months. I get the painful cramping though (sorry, TMI ahead!) with constipation until diarrhea finely relieves the pain. I tried a food diary, but I’m terrible about keeping up with it and it seemed like there was no consistency between what I ate and how I felt. I never went to the doctor either, because I didn’t want to go and end up with no resolution which seemed likely for a while at least. I doubt our causes are similar, since your diet seems healthy and mine is not lately. I think I nailed down the cause though to overeating. I rarely overate when I was younger, but in the last few years, I have been. (That’s for another thread someday.) And it’s only been in the last few years that I have been having these pains. It does seem like when I feel sick is after I have eaten too much.
      I hope you’re able to resolve your issues.

    5. Emily*

      Have you tried probiotics? They are helpful if you have been sick and taking antibiotics or if you start having tummy troubles. Just a thought though. Good luck!

      1. There's a Bathroom on the Right*

        Seconded! I’ve had IBS since I was little and regular use of probiotics seem to help me a lot with things like what you’re dealing with.

      2. Misc*

        But they definitely don’t help me – my stomachs way too sensitive to go adding new random stuff to it. So ymmv.

    6. nep*

      I feel your pain.
      For what it’s worth — I have found that some artificial sweeteners used in gum and mints will cause bloating for me. Also — and this is pretty much a no-brainer especially for a nutrition expert — I’m always better off without all the potential offenders like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower… As much as I love riced cauliflower, I would always get severe bloating and pain when I ate it.
      I’ll be interested to hear what you find out — keep us posted.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        I have had to cut out pretty much all fruits and vegetables, with the exception of potatoes and seedless cucumbers. I also have to avoid nuts, seeds, popcorn, and any kind of oil. When my cardiologist yells at me for not losing weight, I feel like telling him, “If you can find me a diet that is low in cholesterol, low in sodium, low in potassium (I have kidney disease, so I have to follow a special diet for that, too), and doesn’t make me bloat up like a pregnant woman who is due any day now, I’ll pay you a million dollars.”

      2. AcademiaNut*

        Yes – xylitol and sorbitol in particular. It’s a known side effect, but some people are more sensitive than others.

        1. Misc*

          *hisses at the nasty fructose*

          Ugh, sorbitol. The worst part is that it’s in most toothpaste brands!

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Do you fry a lot of foods? A lot of butter? This almost sounds like a misbehaving gall bladder but maybe not.

      Try adding a spoonful or two of pickled vegetables to your daily routine. Just my preference, I would eat them when my stomach was not acting up.
      Not meaning you directly, but some folks say “stomach” and then point to their upper intestine. So there could be something caught in your intestine.

      There is a nice little thing you can try when you are having discomfort. Put your fingertips on the edge of your rib cage. Follow your rib cage up until you find the point where the ribs just start to separate. In that little triangle is the opening to your stomach. you can massage that, gently but persistently. That may help trigger stomach function and get you back on track. This is nice because you are in control of how hard/soft you massage and how long you massage it. It’s the kind of thing we try to con our SO’s into doing for us. It’s nice.

    8. No, please*

      Is the cramping around your upper ribs? I’ll occasionally get rib muscle cramps that are similar to stomach cramps. It’s annoying and the only thing that helps are loose pants and Aleve.

    9. Elizabeth West*

      Definitely talk to your doctor. Write everything down before you go and take your food diary with you. If you lie down after you eat and it shows up then, it could also be a hiatal hernia and/or esophageal spasms. I have those (they’re related to reflux) and they SUCK. But we don’t have medical training and your doctor does.

      Hope they find out what it is and you feel better soon.

    10. Anonacat*

      Another thing that could be happening is IBS in response to the foods you eat or even if you are having a stressful day.

    11. Adam*

      +1 To the “don’t Google medical stuff”

      This past week I’d been having really weird stuff happen with my fingers. Waking up in the morning with them asleep even though I wasn’t sleeping on my arm. Lots of stiffness through the day and occasional bouts of strange redness and heat.

      Well if you google these symptoms naturally all you get is ARTHRITIS ARTHRITIS ARTHRITIS!!! So (at age 32) I was a bit freaked out. I made an appointment with my doctor but first I went to a massage therapist. Did you know that if you let your chest and shoulder muscles get too tight it can screw with your nerves and circulation until you get them worked out? I do now!

    12. Jen*

      My kid and husband both have similar issues. Husband has lived 35 years and not seen a doc; otherwise perfectly content 3 y/o stared complaining about a tummy ache in the mornings and after eating right after Christmas. This week it was acute pain “owie owie ow ow ow ow!!” About 2 min after eating, but no issues with appetite. Always pointing to the area above the navel. Normal as ever poop.

      Took her in two days ago, got an X Ray and lo and behold she’s constipated. As in major backup in the intestines! Yet, the output is regular in volume consistency and frequency- she just got backed up at some point and never caught up. Lots of gas lodged in there too, which in turn puts pressure upstream on the stomach.

      She’s on daily Miralax for now and it seems to be working. Husband is going to try some next time he’s got the discomfort. Doc things there could be physicial disposition to “backups”.

      1. Jen*

        Fwiw had she not been backed up in X Ray, the thinking was to try rantidine (Zantac) as suggested above.

    13. Jules the First*

      In my case it turned out to be cheese. (Well, actually, a protein common to mammalian milks – we tried everything because I *really* did not want to give up cheese). I gave up all things dairy and haven’t had a single wobble since (except when I cave to temptation any eat cheese anyway).

      It took a long time to figure it out because I ate it so often and wasn’t reliably ill. My best guess if it’s happening around 6-7pm is that the culprit is something you often have for lunch or afternoon snack…

    14. Miscre.*

      Have you looked at FODMAPs? They’re so apparently random it’s hard to spot the pattern until you really track them, and they’re in so many things that your stomach might not be reacting in any obvious pattern, especially if you don’t realise that there’s onion flavouring or lactose in your salt and vinegar crisps (my unfortunate discovery from this week. WHY) .

      In my case, lactose generates a very different reaction to other FODMAPs (because one is genetic, the other is just ‘my stomach is sad and has given up’) and both are cumulative, and often contradictory, so they made it very hard to track specific reactions. Back before I knew what was going on, I would have said I had very consistent bowel stuff (because it basically had shut down in despair) and an ‘iron stomach’ (because I never noticed food poisoning because I always felt that way anyway!).

      Also, fibre is the worst. People with IBS just cannot cope with large amounts of fibre. As are probiotics and pre biotics and fermented stuff. If your stomach is a mess and has unsettled bacterial colonies, or high pain sensitivity, or any IBS stuff, you do not want to be messing with that until you know what’s triggering it.

      Peppermint tea can be very helpful. that has amazing calming effects on cramps, bloating sessions for me.

      Medical googling is helpful if you already know how to be specific and apply context to your searches and results, you don’t just google ‘stomach hurts’.

      1. Elizabeth H.*

        I have IBS and I think this could be IBS because it can be really, really random. Eliminating all the problem foods very strictly works reasonably well but if you’re not eliminating all of them strictly, due to the mercurial nature of IBS, sometimes it is a problem and sometimes it’s not hence seeming like it is not actually food linked. Worth a shot.

  6. oh my...*

    I just had the WORST DATE EVER… It was through a dating site so I had never met the person before, but wow… I can’t believe how bad it was. I like to think I do a decent job of screening people, but I totally missed this. I think the people at the next table were laughing at us because of how awkward it was. The guy’s voice and word choice were a mix of your stereotypical dork mixed with your stereotypical surfer, and he rambled on and on…

    I’m 28 years old, which I know is still pretty young, but as I watch so many people getting married or settling down, I can’t help but think that it may never happen for me.

    Okay, I just needed to vent to a bunch of internet strangers. Thanks for listening!

    1. regina phalange*

      I completely sympathize! I was going through the same thing at 28 (and 30, 32, etc). When I had to move for a job to a new city, I got back online and went through the same thing. Ended up meeting my ex at a bar. After he shredded my heart, I tried to get over him by joining Tinder, which was the worst idea ever! After every bad date I would come home and bitch to one of my guy friends, who is now my boyfriend. The problem with online is that anyone can fake being interesting when they are hiding behind a computer and five year old pictures and/or Photoshop.

      For me, I am just much better meeting people in an organic way and gettung to know them. Online dating sites can be so forced. One message in and people are demanding to know your reproductive plans. Whether you decide to stay on dating sites ot not, hang in there!! If nothing else, bad dates give us entertaining stories!

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Bad dates make really good stories. And they’re good practice for figuring out what you want. It is still my dream to go on a really horrible date, stand up, throw 20 bucks on the table and walk out. I am happily partnered up.

      I do want to say that I know exactly how you feel, and I was there myself for a long time. When I was about 31 or 32, I decided that I might never get married or find “the one” or a long-term relationship, and I was going to commit myself to being ok with that. I built myself a pretty great life, and you know what? Sometimes I miss it. Those bad dates are disappointing, but the worst thing about them should be that they wasted two hours of time you could be spending with your friends or binge-watching West Wing or something.

      1. phil*

        I really like your name. Every time I see it I have a wonderful vision of him selling Avon instead of dope with the same tactics.

        1. Kit*

          The real Avon Barksdale *was* named after Avon the company. His mother has said so in documentaries. He hated it so much he went by Bodie (and the Wire character Bodie is based off of Barksdale’s younger self).

          1. Drago cucina*

            This circles to the thread on names. I have a colleague that was named Saran–after the plastic wrap.

    3. HannahS*

      Oh my gosh I just jumped back in to online dating and it just suuuucks. So plenty of sympathy from this quarter.

    4. Temperance*

      I once listened to a cringe-worthy internet date where the woman kept talking, in VERY vivid detail, about some things she had seen as an OB-GYN nurse who handled childbirth. So gross. I felt bad laughing at the dude who was with her, but he was trying to be polite, but he was positively revolted. We all were.

      1. Adam*

        From what I’ve heard, if you choose to get involved with a nurse that’s something that comes with the territory. Even worse if you get a couple of nurses in the same room. Within 10 minutes they’ll be talking about the grossest things you never imagined.

        1. Temperance*

          I totally get sharing war stories with someone you’re in a relationship with, but I don’t think that nasty vagina stories are exactly the way to get a guy. ;)

        2. Noah*

          Very true. My mom is a nurse and I was a paramedic in college. We used to have family members running from the room during the holidays.

    5. MommyMD*

      Go only with the paid dating sites. Free ones or very cheap sites attract weirdo losers of both sex. Good luck.

      1. oh my...*

        I don’t think it’s that black and white… Anecdotally, I know of a lot more people that have had luck on a free site than a paid one, which is probably related to the volume of people that are on the free ones. I have a friend that just went through a horrible breakup with a jerk she met on match. Another friend just got married to a good guy from OKCupid.

        I’d be willing to pay for something, but my issue is that I do not want kids. I’ve browsed some of them and ALL of the guys on the paid sites want children. If you are looking to go the traditional route, I think your odds are slightly better on the paid sites, but if you want something a little less traditional, you have to cast a wider net.

        I’m done looking though. That was such a traumatic experience… I’m good with taking a break from all of this indefinitely!

    6. Kate R. Pillar*

      My sympathies!
      I hear you on the “I think it’s never going to happen for me”…

      (In the end, when I was 32, my mail contact #80 became “guy I met in person” #8, and later on my husband.)

  7. Lissa*

    So, I thought the conversation yesterday about name bias was fascinating, but since it was in direct response to a question it was more specifically about race in that instance. I hoped it would be OK to bring it up in the open thread as a more general topic — anyone change their name and find they got a different response from people, or feel that their name has been a problem/bonus for them, other interesting insights? I had read before about racial name bias but had never even thought of names seen as “white trash/low class” as holding people back but of course it makes sense.

    One place I spot a lot of name-stereotyping is fiction. For instance I read a lot of YA and often the protagonist will have either a name like Chloe or Fiona (something known but not very popular), or something very unique and creative, and the mean popular girl will be something like Madison — a popular trendy name. Also when manipulative advertising wants to tug your heartstrings using a child, the kid will have a name like Timmy — a diminutive that was much more common to see on children 50 years ago.

    1. Lord of the Ringbinders*

      I used to have a surname that could have been either German, Scandinavian or Jewish. It was the latter as it happened.

      I got married and took my husband’s English surname as I liked it and wanted a new name.

      I have no idea if it’s made a difference to my career. I do know it’s stopped people asking intrusive questions about where I’m from. Security guard
      who kept asking if I had relatives in Germany and, when I said I didn’t know (as my dad was in foster care) asked how I could be sure I wasn’t related to Nazis? Yeah I’m talking to you. (And yes I did tell him how unacceptable his line of questioning was. I’m now thinking I should have complained.)

      1. Lissa*

        Wow! That’s incredibly rude for so many reasons. But my first thought was, what would he expect you to do about if you weren’t sure you weren’t related to Nazis? I’m sure lots of people are…. it’s unfortunate but that manner of phrasing just seems to suggest it’s something you could prevent if you knew more!

        1. Tau*

          Some of us know we’re related to Nazis. I wonder what that guard thinks we’re supposed to do about it? :/

      2. Not So NewReader*

        My jaw dropped when I read this.
        My maiden name is German. I was just reading where people with a German surname had a harder time recouping after the Great Depression than other people. That was because of the general animosity towards Germans. This explains my father’s life.
        In the 80s I married and took a Scottish surname. I cannot put my finger on it but I felt less like an outsider. At that time, I was unaware of the bias, but I was totally glad to have a different name.

      3. German surname*

        Wow. I can’t believe that! I took my husband’s German surname, and no one has ever hassled me about it. And his grandfather actually fought in the SS! He wasn’t a nazi or a sympathizer or anything. His village was on the wrong side of a border and the choice was “you fight for us or we shoot you in the head”.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          My mum’s maiden name is very German. I never thought about this either and nobody has ever asked. I do get asked about my English surname, mostly by older people who remember a famous person I share it with.

          1. Chocolate Teapot*

            After the First World War, the Battenberg family (just like the cake) changed their name ” to “Mountbatten” in order to play down the German connection.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Yeah, I can’t blame them for that when the connection is not very nice, unfortunately! We got our name because a noble ancestor adopted the place name of his earldom to avoid ticking off Elizabeth I.

              Isn’t Battenberg also that kind of lace? I have it on my kitchen curtains.

      4. Yetanotherjennifer*

        Wow, we may have the same maiden name. I’ve got the same three choices and mine is Scandinavian in origin. But I grew up in a community with a high Jewish population and would often get asked why I was in school on Jewish holidays and Hebrew school days. And there was this guy in college who called me “Schlep,” which I now know is not a nice thing, but back then I didn’t so I was a little baffled. And he used such a neutral tone when he said it that I almost wonder if he was testing me to see if I got offended.

        Now my last name is a common girl’s first name and nobody sends me Hanukkah cards anymore (one friend used to as a joke) but I’m constantly assuring people that I did give them my last name and not my first.

    2. Lily Evans*

      I think it’s really interesting how name trends happen. Like, there’s no way that everyone within the same few years is purposely using the same handful of names, so what makes them popular? In recent years so many of the popular girls’ names end in vowels, like Emma or Olivia or Sophia, what makes the trend move like that? And I’m like, wow I really like all of those names and gravitate towards similar ones, but why? I’m sure the answers out there if I put some research time into it, but it’s just something I like to wonder about.

      1. Junior Dev*

        You should check out the Baby Name Wizard blog! They analyze trends of who gets named what, what sounds (e.g. Ending in S) or themes (e.g. Animal related names) are trendy.

      2. fposte*

        I can’t find the really good article I read recently with this, but things like vowel vs. consonant endings and starting letters are big signifiers, as you suspect, of era and of class/race/culture. (Note that girls’ names are very vowelly in general right now, with many of the beginning with a vowel as well as ending with them, and the consonants tend to be semi-vowels or smooth voiced labials like m and n rather than clicky stops like k or d. Even if you go for the more current -a ending, an Ella is more au courant than a Betta. (And I mentioned, D initial names were hugely popular about fifty years ago and aren’t so much now.)

        But you also might find it interesting to read about Raymond Loewy’s Most Advanced Yet Acceptable design concept, which I think applies to naming trends. Absent a random pop star, the popular shift isn’t likely to be from Olivia to Zaxifron but from Olivia to Ola, or Oliviana, or Olivette, or Elivia, or Oliver for girls. It’s that sweet spot of “this isn’t the same old thing but it’s got enough reference points that it’s not scary.”

      3. Lissa*

        I know a *huge* number of people who say this, almost exactly. “When I named my child X it was extremely rare! Now it’s in the top 10 and I’m frustrated because I wanted to give them a unique name!” How does that happen so often? does a certain name just enter the consciousness all at once so everyone thinks they’re the only one with this idea? My parents always said this about my brother, who’s name was never exactly rare but really spiked in popularity in the 1980s when we were born.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          Sometimes it’s because of celebrities. One becomes popular, or they name their kid something unusual, and then it takes off. Like when Drew Barrymore named her first baby Olive, which I hadn’t heard in ages, and now I know/know of a couple baby Olives.

          My favorite Boy’s name is currently near the top of the “most popular” list, and is right out, as far as I’m concerned. We want something normal, but not that every other kid in class is named!

        2. neverjaunty*

          Or coincidence. Pity those parents who named their daughter “Hermione” before Harry Potter became a thing.

          1. katamia*

            Yeah, I know an Ariel who was born about a year before The Little Mermaid came out. Bad luck for her.

            1. Anony-mouse*

              I’m an Ariel and The Little Mermaid is actually a god-send for that very reason. Pre-TLM very, very few had ever heard of that name unless you were within a Jewish community or were Jewish (it’s in the Old Testament), but we’re not Jewish.
              I would always get “Whats your name?!? Oreo? Arial?!? Air?! Thats weird.” Every.Single.Time. It gets tiresome for a little girl after awhile, and you (I) began to hate the part where you meet a new friend and you have to exchange names, it was ALWAYS “a thing,” and I am painfully shy to begin with.
              Post- TLM? Everyone was asking me to get on a rock and start singing! It was really great to bring main-stream acceptance to the fact that its beautiful as a woman/girl’s name also, even spelled the “masculine way.” I immediately stopped wishing I was named any other name once that movie came out.
              Just a flip-side perspective.

          2. blackcat*

            When I was born, my name was not at all common. Became super common about 10-15 years after I was born, so my cousin with the same name (it was our great grandmother’s name) is always complaining about it. And my mom is super baffled that what had been relatively common–and was in my birth year–suddenly became so popular.

            Maybe 20 years from now, everyone will assume I’m 10-15 years younger than I am because of the spike in people with my first name. Sort of how I tend to assume a Jennifer is born somewhere in the 80s, and a Sarah somewhere mid 80s-mid 90s without thinking about it.

        3. Sparkly Librarian*

          I have a rare name, and it’s caused me a fair amount of annoyance and frustration. I have been planning my future children’s names for literally years, more recently with input from my partner, in part because I want things to go more smoothly for my kids. They’ll already have two moms of different races; wouldn’t it be nice if they didn’t have to deal with rude playground rhymes or plays on their names? But when you get settled on a lovely name, it’s only Murphy’s law that Disney will release a new princess movie starring it.

        4. chickabiddy*

          My child was born in March of 2002. I gave her a (relatively) unique name that lends itself to a certain nickname. In June of 2002, a very popular TV character had a baby and used the nickname as the baby’s name, so there are lots of girls in my daughter’s age cohort with that nickname as their first names. My daughter has started to use her whole longer name to stand out a bit — but that’s my story of how I wanted a unique name but then everybody else did too.

        5. Observer*

          Well, these parents should know that the thing they are annoyed with is probably a favor to their kids. It’s incredible how stupid people can be about uncommon names. And that stupidity can result in behavior that ranges from mildly annoying and rude to really problematic.

          So, to all parents who are thinking about what to name a child PLEASE do NOT choose a name BECAUSE it’s unique.

        6. Overeducated*

          I suspect people think about whether they know people with the name already, which often means older people, if they don’t have kids in day care or school already they just don’t know what’s popular among newborns.

          …that is, unless they look up Social Security statistics, which are easy to find online. You can even find information on rate of change – for instance, not only avoiding top 10 names if you want, but flagging names that have shot up in popularity recently and are likely to continue in that direction even if they are not common among 5 year olds yet. (Yes, my name choosing methods were weirdly methodical, why do you ask?)

        7. Noah*

          I go by Noah, but it is my middle name. No other child had that name all through school. Now that I’m 32 every other boy is named Noah and even a few girls. My parents like to joke that they were ahead of the curve on that one. In reality they named me Noah because I was born 10 weeks early and in the NICU. They thought Noah was a survivor, so they named me that.

    3. Yes, and...*

      I’m really interested in names, too. When I was born, my parents named me “Louisa” but from day 1, always called me “LuLu.” (Not exactly, but close enough.) I never thought much of it. When I was young, I hated Louisa because I was only called that when I was in Big Trouble. Everyone in my family, friends, and school called me LuLu. And then when I was around 14, 15, and started meeting people I *hadn’t* grown up with, I noticed people reacting negatively to LuLu. “Are you a stripper?” they’d sometimes joke. I was in honors classes, but people seemed surprised that LuLu could be smart; it was a dumb name. Finally, when I went away to college, I introduced myself as Louisa. Everyone who knows me from college knows me as Louisa. I work in a profession that can be difficult for women; I don’t think LuLu would go over very well. I’m thankful I had the full name to fall back on; I wouldn’t want LuLu to be my given name. I like the choice.

      It is odd when worlds collide, though, like when my husband (whom I met in college and calls me Louisa) gets together with my family (who all still know me as LuLu).

      1. Temperance*

        My first name is fairly lower-class, and my family has always called me a terrible nickname that I absolutely hate (Chrissy, in case you were wondering). I have never, ever gone by my nickname, even from kindergarten on, because frankly, it reminds me of an annoying, unintelligent person. I grew up on Three’s Company, and always thought that Chrissy Snow was stupid and annoying.

        My mother wasn’t exactly mother of the year, nor was she incredibly involved in my life … to the point where we had an actual argument when I was a senior in high school about how “everyone” knew me as Chrissy, and “no one” used my full name.

        1. phil*

          My cursive was/is pretty illegible and my father once thought it funny to read my name as something other than it was as a way of demonstrating how bad my handwriting was. And he continued to use it in spite of, or-more likely as my father was not a nice man-because of my dislike of it. To this day, 60 years later, I cannot even think the name without bad feelings washing over me.

      2. NY State of Mind*

        It’s funny you mention worlds colliding. My dads name is “Matthew James” (changed up a bit). He goes by Matt to everyone, and so when my mom met him, she knew him as Matt. His family calls him Jamie, and so for at least a year after she met the family, she thought Jamie was another brother. Finally, she asked why everyone always spoke of this Jamie, but she’d never met him. I’m sure she was a little embarrassed to meet reality that day.

    4. FDCA In Canada*

      Oh, I’m so fascinated by names. I’ve read in a few places that the “old” name trend that’s booming right now (i.e., the popularity in old-fashioned names like Charlotte, Henry, Evelyn, Victoria, Edith, Josiah, Charlie, Eleanor, etc.) will eventually in 15-20 years give way to a rebirth of Boomer 50s-60s names, as those names will be recycling to “honoured grandparent/everything old is new again” stage. I’m curious to see if in 20 years we see a boom of Lisas, Carols, Richards, Donnas, Barbaras, Ronalds, Garys, Denises, and so on.

      One of my old coworkers made a huge deal about picking a “unique” name for her daughter, wouldn’t tell anyone what it was, told everyone she couldn’t wait to reveal it–when the baby was born it was the 30th most popular that year. She honest-to-goodness cried. It was a very nice name, her kid will be just fine with it–but it wasn’t the individual name she wanted, and there was another girl in her daughter’s daycare with her same name. On her part this was a reaction to being the fifteenth person in her class with the same name, and not wanting her daughter to go through the same thing, but still!

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        30 isn’t even that high! I’m settling for just not the top 10 or 20! LOL

        But, I did have 3 Kelly’s in my class all through school, and they all had the same last initial, too!

        1. Dan*

          One of my friends in junior high had my first name. Our strengths were in different areas, so we formed an agreement. When the teacher called on “X” in math class, I’d answer. When the social studies teacher would call on “X”, he’d answer. Worked like a charm.

        2. George*

          I work in a group of about fifteen people. Three of the men have the same first name, and three other of the men also have the same first name.

    5. Cobblestone*

      I think it may depend on the field. My name is transliterated into English from a different language (and I live/work in an English-speaking country). I never changed my name to something more English-sounding, and while I have been steadily employed for the past few years, I don’t know that I would have the same success in a different field (research, where I’ve met people from all sorts of countries). For example, my sister chose an English “work name” and says she found better success in her job search once she changed it, where her field is more customer-oriented. Nonetheless, I am pretty sure that in my career I was (and will be) discriminated against my name.

      I think my name is a…I kind of hesitate to say ‘problem’, but I always have to say my name more than once when introducing myself. It’s easy to pronounce when it’s written down, but I tend to say it too quickly for people to catch the first time around (it’s only two syllables). I have had the awful experience of people only saying the first part of my name because pronouncing all of it (again, only two syllables!) is “too hard”. Needless to say, those people never ask me if shortening my name is OK with me (it’s not), and just call me that regardless.

      I do also get the sometimes fun awkwardness of people who only know me through email ask me (or even my coworkers/boss) if I am a man or a woman, since my name isn’t gendered.

      1. Alice*

        The part about people shortening your name sounds very frustrating! Regarding the second part, about gender and pronouns, is there a different way you wish people would handle it?

    6. HannahS*

      My real name is (I think) pretty obviously Israeli/Jewish, which garners….interesting reactions based on where I am and who I’m talking to. I’d say obvious discomfort is the most common reaction, both on the right and the left, followed by a discussion on Jews That They Have Known. Because they aren’t antisemitic! Promise! Or worse, How ‘Bout That Israel-Palestine Thing? What’s Up With That? Why Can’t You Just Get Along? Don’t You All Believe In The Same God?

      The funny reaction, though, happens because people think my name might be Irish or Welsh [like, Niva sounds like Niamh (Neeve)]. It’s always hilarious to me when elderly WASP-y couples ask me where in Ireland my family is from.

    7. Drago cucina*

      Italian last names in fiction often drives me bonkers. In one book every Italian had a food name, Fettucini, Pomodoro, Scampi, etc. There are so many cool names that could be used. I knew one person whose last name was Bellopiedi (beautiful feet).

      1. Lissa*

        Yeah, I’ve noticed that! How hard is it to Google “common Italian (Polish, Irish, Japanese etc.) last names”..that’s what I do whenever I need to make a character from a specific place.

        1. Drago cucina*

          Exactly. I’ve seen websites listing the most common last names in different countries. Not a hard research ask

      2. Amadeo*

        LOL, I have a very Sicilian last name and it’s pronounced pretty much just like it’s spelled except as is usual with Italian, the a’s are the ‘ah’ sound in both instances in which they appear. For a lot of people though it’s apparently brutally difficult to pronounce, to the point where I started congratulating people for saying it properly without my telling them first quite a while (and forget not having to spell it, ever, I’ve just started spelling it out automatically after I say it if someone is writing it down).

        1. Drago cucina*

          My married name is the same. “Oh, it’s pronounced just the way it’s spelled.” Yes, yes it is. Those ah As do seem to throw folks.

      3. Tau*

        Oh man, fictional names! I get so frustrated by the names of fictional Germans because they’ll invariably be completely wrong. I think it’s because German names are very strongly tied to specific generations and the “stereotypical” German names are all from WWII or thereabouts, so 20-something fictional Germans end up with names like Hans or Fritz or the like and it completely destroys my suspense of disbelief. Looking up what the popular names were in the appropriate time period is not that difficult, authors!

    8. anon for this one*

      My name is very Polish. My name isn’t even one of the harder ones to pronounce, but I’ve gotten a lot of people who remark over it or make careless comments about how “non English” last names are sooooo difficult. I get a lot of clueless but well meaning people will say something like, “Oh, you’re Polish? I love pierogi/pączki/kielbasa”.

      I was really embarrassed of my name growing up because there were a lot of “dumb Polish” jokes (because apparently this is the type of nazi propaganda people feel okay joking about in a way they wouldn’t about anything else WWII related). There was a lot of bullying or comments about how I only received good grades because teachers pitied the “poor, dumb Polish girl” because everyone knew Polish people were stupid. Some of the taunts were especially cruel and violent. A lot of jokes about gassing and murder and sexual violence. Learning about WWII was a nightmare. Some of the teachers I had tried to do more than an overview because we had such a large Eastern European population, but that just gave the bullies more ammunition.

      There was a point when I was in elementary school where the school district tried to put anyone from an Eastern European family into remedial classes purely because we heard or spoke another language at home. I was told to anglicize my name when applying to certain colleges and to not list that I spoke Polish fluently. The typical fear that I was talking about someone when I spoke in Polish.

      Other classmates who also had Eastern European names also got a lot of bullying, but not nearly as much as those classmates who were Jewish. It was a mostly white Christian town, so I have no doubt that if we had people of other races or religions, they would have gotten it worse than I or my other classmates did. But since we didn’t, I think people chose the biggest immigrant population at the time as their target.

      And this all happened in a liberal coastal state, too. I’m a millennial on the older end of the scale so this was happening only a few decades ago.

      I don’t hear as many of those comments anymore (the height of them was when my grandparents immigrated after the war and during my father’s childhood). I don’t think it’s a big thing in America anymore since people have moved on to other immigrant groups to hate, but the VP of my company’s North America division is a British man who’ll make comments about my name whenever I see him. Which doesn’t really surprise me since I know it’s a bigger issue in Western Europe right now. I have some family over there who say the comments have ramped up again to an uncomfortable degree.

    9. I'm not brave enough to use my real AAM name for this*

      Sorry to hear all of your negative experiences. Nobody needs to be teased for just being themselves or a member of their family/ethnic group/religion and/or a speaker of any particular language.

      Confession and question. In elementary school I teased a classmate about his name on one occasion, not to be mean to him but because I was stupidly trying to be funny. (Yes, I knew better.) He never said anything. So what to do now? I don’t mind owning up to my own bad choice, but I don’t want to barge into his present-day life only to cause new grief (or evoke long-ago distress). It’s not fair to make someone a non-consenting participant in one’s penitence. Is there any benefit if I tell him I now try to protest such injustices and try to encourage other people who have similarly worked to change themselves? Thoughts, anyone?

      1. eh*

        It’s hard to say what his reaction will be without knowing him.

        But speaking personally, I find it somewhat off-putting when people I haven’t talked to in years reach out on FB or social media to apologize for bullying me for my sexuality or ethnicity. It seems less about a genuine apology and more about, as you say, being part of someone’s penitence. Sometimes it brings up memories I’d suppressed or forgotten about. But I know other people do like hearing these messages.

        I’d say let it go, but if you happen upon him in real life and you feel the need to bring it up, do so. But just a “hey, I’m sorry I was a jerk when I was a kid” is fine. Imo, adding that you try to protest injustice now can come off as wanting gratitude and recognition for changing your ways, and that tends to not go over well with a lot of people.

      2. Lissa*

        I’d just leave it. You teased him about his name once, which yeah, wasn’t cool, but I would be really surprised if anyone didn’t do something regrettable/hurtful as a child at least once. I really don’t think you need to go into a guilt-spiral about this, and the likelihood of him getting something positive out of you reaching out now is, to my mind, not more likely than him either not remembering it at all or reacting negatively for the reasons you and another posted stated.

        I’m not trying to say that it is OK to tease somebody about their name, but I think it doesn’t rise to the level of being something you need to seriously atone for as an adult, and the best thing you can probably do is work to help others going forward; talking about your experience, why you did it, why it’s not OK etc. in appropriate situations (like with children).

        I say this as somebody who was teased *a lot* for my real first name as a child, to the point that I hate it as an adult and use a nickname exclusively. I really don’t remember the names of everyone who ever teased me over my name because it was *extremely* common, so I’d be kind of weirded out if someone reached out to me over one incident.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      Okay, now you’ve worried me with the fiction thing. I try to pick names for my characters that fit their personalities or just sound like regular people. Sometimes they name themselves when I think them up and other times, I make a list until I hit on one that sounds right. I did end use a few ethnic surnames in Rose’s Hostage for some of the characters because I was making up a large city sized halfway between St. Louis and Chicago.

      Help me–am I biased?!

      Rose’s Hostage:
      –Stephen Pierce and Art Rossberger (detectives)
      –Quentin Caruthers (FBI dude; the shop guys at OldExjob named him!)
      –Louis Prince (FBI dude; he’s black)
      –Dan Alvarez (FBI SAC ^^ their boss)
      –Joshua Simon Rose (the bank robber. NOBODY calls him Josh.)
      –Gustavo Alphonse Caravetta (Joshua’s right-hand man)
      –Dale Conroy (BAD BAD VERY BAD DUDE; in Joshua’s group)
      –Elijah Ramone Hickman (black dude with cornrows, called Ramone; in Joshua’s group)
      –Terrence Dobson (called Terry; in Joshua’s group)
      –Libby Ann Marshall (called Libby–the hostage. I had to make a huge list to get this one right; she was almost Rowan but it sounded too preppy. She complains to Joshua that her name sounds “corn-fed” and she always wanted a sophisticated name like Audrey or Katherine.)
      –John Robert Cook (the serial killer)
      –Alicia Haines (Cook’s gf, a teacher)
      –Stefano Barbieri (a money launderer with Mob ties; okay, this one is a little stereotyped)
      –Timothy Brandis (outlaw biker, aka Zero)
      –A snitch named Randy Walczak
      –Dying biker Virgil “Knifemaster” Jackson (and his gf Belinda Strunk)
      –The medical examiner is a no-nonsense woman of Japanese descent named Hiromi Maruyama and Det. Pierce has a bit of a crush on her. I like her and want to expand her role next time.
      –Crime lab supervisor Tess Godwin (aka the Dragon Lady because she’s tough as nails)
      –The fire inspector is a black man named Bernard Teller.
      –The city mayor is a very popular Hispanic woman called Angelica Ibarra.
      –Natalie Pierce, nee Mooney (Pierce’s wife–no he does not have an affair with the M.E., though I was tempted), and her parents Ronald and Barbara. She does accounting for a local company.
      –Rossberger’s wife is named Sandy. She’s a counselor at a kids’ psych hospital; that’s where they met.

      Tunerville is set in a city like Springfield (retch!), which I made up. It has a research university–I was thinking of Tucson and Rolla, MO, which aren’t very big but have prestigious science and tech unis, respectively.

      –Protag Chris Taylor
      –Ghost Crew leader is Gabriel Carter and he’s married to Ann-Marie (they’re black).
      –Vincent Ferguson, but everybody calls him Fergie (hahaha guess where that came from)
      –Josh Talbot (gay dude)
      –Kim Westerberg (Fergie’s fiancee)
      –Chris’s love interest Hannah Lively (a grad student)
      –Callahan (that’s Irish, but I said his accent is “vaguely British” because the POV in that scene is Chris and he wouldn’t know the difference). He never tells them his given name. I’m not telling who he is.
      –Juliette Geiger (evil scientist and chemistry professor at the uni–her late husband was a Swiss shipping magnate)
      –Hector Marrese (evil henchman–I borrowed a Canadian friend’s last name, with her permission)
      –Ted Teater (a traumatized ghost)
      –Djajiijo (a very chill male ghost from a nomadic tribe in Niger called the Wodaabe. I stole the name from a Nat Geo article about them. See the Wodaabe here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i23O_ClVTHo)

      Do any of these sound problematic to you guys? If so, I can change them.

      1. HannahS*

        On a quick glance, I notice that all the white characters have fairly English sounding names, except for the Italian mobster, and the snitch, who’s Eastern European.

        (sorry for the length of what’s next; I’m a little mentally disorganized at the mo’)

        I haven’t read your book, so I don’t know the role the ghost plays, but I hope you’ve got someone who can fairly assess the accuracy and respect of his portrayal. I’m having some trouble explaining what it is I’m concerned with, so I’ll give an example. I’ve read historical fiction by a few different American authors that prominently feature Roma characters. Which, yes, good intentions, and the authors clearly read up on the lives and customs of Romani people in 19th C. England. But the way the characters spoke about any aspect of their identity rang really false. For example I felt the authors missed the existential fears that a lot of minority communities have–especially minority groups where there are literally very few people, like Roma and Jews. So when the characters have interpersonal crises within their communities, there’s this whole major undercurrent of tension that’s missing, and the characters seem really inauthentic, despite the *facts* of their lives being accurate.

        It was also, I dunno, oddly didactic at times, as if the author discovered something cool and wanted to share it with the audience. Lots of telling, I guess, and less having the characters just *be.* Like, reticent Roma character washes often. As a reader, I don’t need that to be contextualized in terms of his identity, so I don’t need to be told that his people value bodily cleanliness, and it seems odd that he would volunteer such a personal explanation to Lady English. It wound up seeming, again, inauthentic. And not that I’m for justifying that characters are in minorities–there’s no “reason” why my doctor is Persian, after all, she just is–but I do wonder what made you choose to make the ghost of an ethnicity that most of your readers (assuming an American audience) won’t have heard of.

        1. all aboard the anon train*

          It’s a different situation entirely, but your last two paragraphs remind me why I’m hesitant to read/watch anything with queer character written by straight writers. Queer characters are often defined by their sexuality in a way heterosexual people aren’t. Their defining character trait is being queer, so they don’t have problems, motivations, dreams, interests, quirks, etc. that exist beyond their sexuality. Everything is tied to their sexual identity. It’s inauthentic and often feels like they’re there just to be diverse or inclusive. Don’t even get me started on how it feels didactic (which is a problem some queer writers can have as well, but I see it more from straight authors), and how it pulls me right out of something to suddenly have a queer character defining sexual identities in the middle of a conversation for no reason at all.

          1. Lissa*

            very true! This used to be even worse, even when the authors were also queer. I read quite a lot of lesbian fiction in the 90s/early 2000s and one thing I remember is A) all the characters, even though who hadn’t changed their names, had names that were a little too on the nose, like every butch lesbian character had a masculine-sounding name, and not always because she picked it and B) their whole lives revolved around their LGBT identity. I think this has gotten somewhat better though.

            1. all aboard the anon train*

              Oh, definitely. The 90s/early 2000s were pretty bad about it from queer and straight writers alike. The ’90s/early 2000s might have been about the LGBTQ+ community becoming more mainstream, but a lot of artistic pieces during that time were still cringeworthy and full of stereotypes (popular sitcoms had a particular problem with it during this time period).

          2. HannahS*

            Yes, exactly! “This thing that this person did or said was because they were GAY” which is a conversation you so rarely have in real life. I knew an openly lesbian musician who always wore tuxes instead of gowns to perform in concerts. Was her decision in some way related to her sexuality/identity? I don’t know. I thought so, but I never asked and she never told me and anyway, why would I ? It’s not like it affected me. In a book about my life, there might be funny anecdotes about Victoria, but the fact that she was in a tux would be a minor detail, because she never talked publicly about being more comfortable or feeling most like herself in a tux. It was implicitly said by the fact that she was wearing one.

            1. all aboard the anon train*

              I think a lot of time the descriptions are well-meant and written by people who want to be inclusive, but don’t know how, and their awkward reach for diversity just makes things worse because they’re SO FOCUSED on the label that makes their character diverse.

              I want to queer characters who are real people, not labels. The same thing goes for any fictional character who falls into a minority or oppressed category, whether it’s religion, race, sexuality, or gender. Make them more developed than their labels or stereotypes.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                This is a good point and I tried really hard to write Josh as just Josh Talbot–ghost hunter, gamer, and code monkey.

                He has a very weird artist bf and they are WILDLY mismatched (I’m setting something up for the next book). In fact, Trevor pulls Josh out of the group because of the attention everybody gets when the tuner Chris invented goes viral. But Josh could be a woman and Trevor straight, or Trevor a woman and Josh straight, and the exact same thing would happen.

                I will keep this in mind as I revise.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          He was originally just a tribesman (Chris meets him in a place where there are thousands of people from all over the planet). That felt too vague. Especially since he has a role to play and I needed him to have something. I could have chosen a cowboy or a French teenage girl, but Djajiijo’s personality was really strong even when he wasn’t all that defined yet. The Wodaabe are the tribe I know the most about, so that’s what I picked.

      2. all aboard the anon train*

        Like HannahS said, all the white characters have English sounding names while almost all the “bad” white characters have “ethnic” names (Italian, Slavic, Scandinavian, Irish). Which did give me a knee-jerk reaction because it’s a tired stereotype.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          The only bad people in Tunerville are Juliette and Hector, really. There are a couple of assholes, but that’s it. Callahan is good and a major character–I didn’t want to reveal his purpose.

          Gus Caravetta, Ramone, and Terry are also good–they do bad things (rob banks) but Libby finds they are not horrible people, which changes her interaction with the group (especially Joshua, the most ambiguous of them all). Dale is a horrible person. He has motive, history, you name it. He’s probably better than Juliette Geiger as a villain. I need to work on her (I don’t get into her head so she’s harder to parse).

          I can fix the other names, but I don’t really want to change Joshua, Callahan, or Dale Conroy.

      3. a*

        Not specifically about the names, but I noticed you don’t describe anyone as straight or white, but some characters are described just as “gay dude” and “black man. So that positions straight and white as default. Most characters get descriptions based on their personalities or jobs, but a lot of the POC characters don’t have anything other than a description of their race/physical appearance.

          1. a*

            Right but the fact that you only describe them that way makes me think that that’s their main role in the story, to be gay or black.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              You know, they’re not–they are who they are when they first popped into my head. But I regret posting this now because it’s not really the right forum to discuss it without context. I don’t want to lay out the whole story here–I’ve said too much already–and I’m getting some conflicting stuff that I feel is pulling me away from my original vision.

              I appreciate everybody’s input, and it will definitely help me create characters in the future, and I’m bookmarking it. But I think I’ve got all I need to revise this one.

      4. phil*

        When I wrote fiction I used a cork board covered with names and a dart and only if the resulting name was grossly wrong did I change it.

      5. On literature in general*

        My problem with books is never the names themselves. It’s usually how stereotypical the personalities are to the nationalities portrayed.

        If you dress Angelica Ibarra in colorful clothes and big earrings and make her wear her long hair down and be sexy and powerful, even if she is the mayor, then it’s a problem. It makes no sense for a woman who got to her position to be overtly sexual like that. I am speculating. On the other hand, if she is contained and her sexuality comes through here and there, you get depth.

        Same thing for the ghost from Africa, if the is the stereotypical “good savage” then it becomes shallow, as I guessed from the one line explanation. If he has a touch of mischief or evil in him, then you might get something more interesting. If he dislikes someone, just because, for instance.

        Introducing depth into the characters is the most difficult thing in the world to do and is what separates good literature from bad.

    11. Franzia Spritzer*

      anyone change their name and find they got a different response from people, or feel that their name has been a problem/bonus for them…
      Yes! The name I was given at birth is a totally normal, common name but not so common that there are multiples of us in classrooms growing up, however mine ends in an i rather than a y or ie which is more common, my name starts with K, but could be a C depending on nationality of origin or family tradition.

      Back when the internet was still sorta newish, every time you moved you had to get a new ISP and a new email address, I found that firstname-at-isp was sometimes taken and decided to go with the next phonetic letter, even though it breaks english rules and looks extra super “ethnic”. This name stuck as a avatar and my friends started calling me by the first letter, I was eventually getting work because of the reputation I’d built up with this name, it was indelible enough that I legally changed it. Back in the olden days of the internet this wasn’t a problem, as the depth of the internet and religious-phobia has changed so has the name. I’ve found through googling that there are some radical religious wing-nuts with my name in other parts of the world. Personally I have ZERO issues with having a name that reads ethnic or of a non-western religion, zero. Who’s to say I’m not that particular religion (which requires you take a name when you convert)?

      My direct negative experiences have been in my job searches since the turn of the century, I’ve gone from really good resume response to no response at all. In my most resent and frustratingly long search I’ve been playing with different presentations of my name, first middle last (middle and last are stand-out waspy names), including a pronunciation guide, (I think including a pronunciation guide is condescending and I don’t like it). Most recently I’ve been using just my first initial of my first name, I do go by my first initial in some aspects of my life and my mom even addresses me by it (winning!), so it’s not exactly misrepresenting myself or using a fake name. Using my first initial has at least earned me rejection emails rather than getting absolutely nothing. So I went from getting lots of contract gigs and some full time permanent positions to zero work at all.

      With all that’s going on in the world, the religious-phobia and the black hole of my job search, I’ve seriously considered going back to my birth name. Other things have contributed to this, such as when I get a new ID I have to produce a ridiculous stack of papers to verify my identity, as I’ve moved states a few times in the last few years for school, and my strong desire to vote in those states I’ve had to get new ID more regularly than is probably normal. I’d been waiting for the election to pass before thinking more about it, and here we are. If I were given this name I’d stand up in defense of it being what it is, but I chose it, which I think gives me a little liberty to change it back… even though I’ve had it for over 20 years.

    12. krysb*

      My name is Krystal. With a K. The stripper version. I wish to god I had started going by my middle name (Ann) when I was younger. Thanks mom.

        1. Elizabeth H.*

          Really? I know several Tiffanys including one who went to Harvard. I realize it skews away from the UMC demographic but not nearly as much as some other stereotyped names I can think of.

        2. Gov Worker*

          Hey, my DD is a Tiffany and is a college educated business manager. I don’t know where you got the idea it is a stripper name, it was popular among middle class people like myself in the early and mid eighties. BTW, Tiffany means appearance of God, which is why I chose it. Sheesh

    13. IrishGirl*

      I’ve recently moved to the US, I’ve an Irish name that is super common at home but apparently impossible to pronounce here. It is slightly annoying having to explain the pronunciation so often, especially as having no middle name I don’t have an alternative one I can use!

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I once heard of an Irish girl called Eilidh who went to Germany and ended up being called “Eyelid” by everyone…

        Sorry, that’s probably not helping.

      2. Noah*

        My first name is Irish, Tadhg. I generally go by my middle name, because apparently Tadhg just doesn’t and cannot make sense to any American.

          1. Noah*

            Tige is probably the closest I can write out. The first syllable is pronounced like the first part of tiger.

      1. Lord of the Ringbinders*

        I know someone with an El prefix. They have a Jewish dad from an African country and a Scandinavian mother.

        I think said mother particularly surprises people who aren’t expecting her to be blonde with the surname she has.

    14. katamia*

      I’ve semi-considered changing mine for several reasons–it was very common in my age group for girls growing up (always had to go by either the common nickname for my name, which I loathe, or tack my last initial on), I’d prefer something that reflects my heritage better (especially combined with my last name, which is from one ethnic group but which is almost always mistaken for being from another one), and I just don’t like it.

      But the reaction is something I’m worried about. The name I’d prefer is common to several ethnic groups (two of which I’m actually descended from, so I do have the “right” to use the name), but at least one of the ethnic groups it’s common in is rather unpopular these days in lots of places, and I think that, compared to my relatively “neutral” name, it probably would have a negative impact.

      (I’m also lazy and don’t like dealing with paperwork, so worry about possible prejudice isn’t the only reason I haven’t done it.)

      1. Harold*

        I considered changing my surname for a while — it’s a French name that mutated in America into something that (a) isn’t pronounced like it’s spelled, and (b) is easily mispronounced as an obscenity. Reverting to the original French would seem to solve both, but instead I adjusted to it. It does however amuse me that I receive Spanish-language phone books, because of incorrect assumptions about the name.

    15. Al Lo*

      My name is unusual but pretty easy to figure out — there are basically 2 pronunciations, so it doesn’t get mangled too badly. Spelling, on the other hand, is another story. I get all kinds of spellings (and my name seems to be one of those ones where everyone has a Dutch or Scandinavian great-aunt with the name). I see it around every so often, but have never had someone at school with me (let alone in my grade or class) with my name. Most people who know it know an older family member, but I’ve met a few younger ones.

      My maiden name is a super-common “-son” suffix name, so there were a couple of me on the internet. My married name is a slightly less-common, but still one-syllable name (my husband’s English side of the family), and I’m the only one of me on the internet. I can almost always get firstlast as a handle, and you don’t see anything but me until at least page 5 of the search results, and even then it’s things like genealogy sites that have, for “Sarah Jones,” something like, “Smith, Sarah; Jones, Mary.”

  8. raisedeyebrow*

    Is that cat bed heated? We have two heated cat beds that look just like that one, and our 15-year-old cat spends ALL of her time in one of them. (Seriously, she lives in that bed.)

  9. Fire*

    I actually managed to forget the Super Bowl is tomorrow despite gearing up and being ridiculously stoked for the annual local bike street race Stupor Bowl, which is held Super Bowl weekend. But really, the bike race is the thing to be stoked for. One of the biggest and longest running street races in the country, it’s the 20th anniversary, run by two local women who are pulling out all the stops for WTFs (women/trans/femme people) – the podium is FIVE spots where dudes get the regular three! That’s TEN spots total for WTFs in both the Speed and Stupor categories. And what’s all the more better, no dudes are throwing a fit about it, they’re all stoked for us. All the warm fuzzies about my bike scene, y’all. I’m on a new bike racing team this year and my teammate and I are going for that Speed podium. Gonna be RAD.

  10. Gene*

    In Tucson now. Today is cleaning and getting the house ready for the get-together tomorrow.

    Luckily, got to see my friend from grade school at the Gem Show; he stepped in a hole in the lawn at the hotel and severely broke his arm. The hospital here talked with his heart transplant team and decided it was better that they do the surgery. So he had to leave for scheduled surgery at the Mayo Clinic this week. He had to leave the morning after I got here.

    But, the weather is warm, and I wandered a few of the Gem Show venues. Got some shiny things.

    1. No, please*

      I’m sorry about your friend. But I’m super jealous of the Gem Show! I’d love to go to one soon. Im from a family of rock hunters.

  11. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

    We have light in our flat again! Rejoice! Something was tripping the main breaker when we turned on the lounge lights, so we just kept the circuit off… unfortunately it meant we also had no overhead light in the lounge or both bedrooms. Its been over a year. We complained to landlady when it first happened, thinking it was something to do with our jerk neighbors upstairs. Anyway, she didn’t realize how dark it was until she was over before Christmas with the plumber to sort out something with the sink. THEN we showed her what was up.

    11 hours of electrician time later and they traced it to a mouse chewing through a wire in the wall between the bedroom and the living room and found some horrifically bad wiring job that was left over when the guy who owns the flat above split his into two to make this one (which she bought off him). We are planning on moving in a few months anyway, but in February when its dark its nice to be able to see when you are cooking dinner.

    The dopey idiot guys upstairs are apparently adhering to the “if you top it off, drop it off” principle of waste management because we can smell their trash through their front door (which doesn’t open into their living area, which is UP one or two flights of stairs). Its gross and Im so ready to move.

  12. AliceBD*

    I bought a new car yesterday! Well, new-to-me. It’s a 2013 Toyota Prius Four and I LOVE it. I’m still not happy that I had to buy one — someone hit me a few weeks ago, and totaled my perfectly-fine car — but buying a car that is newer than my previous car means I get all kinds of fun things to play with, like a backup camera and bluetooth and heated seats! I have a very short commute to work so heat never gets going all the way, but the heated seats work so quickly I’ll be much more comfortable going to the gym in the mornings and then to work!

    It does stink that I now have to have a car payment, but I am making myself feel somewhat better by reminding myself that I haven’t had an official installment loan before (previous car was bought from a relative, so just got the car then paid them back over time) so it will help my credit score, since my credit card score report tells me that I’m dinged due to lack of an installment loan.

    Prius owners, anything fun I should check out/anything I should know? I’m also looking forward to basically never buying gas.

    1. Cookie D'oh*

      Heated seats are the best! I think that’s going to be a must have on any car I get from now on.

    2. Bonky*

      How funny – so did I! Husband and I work together, and I don’t drive, so we’ve only ever had one car. The old one was an 04 plate VW Passat estate, and we decided we needed to replace it before our baby arrives in April.

      We’ve got a black 2013 Audi A4 Estate – also with heated seats! (We actually looked at several and said no to all the others because they didn’t have the heated seats – we had them in the old car and I’m addicted to them). For a non-driver I am stupidly excited about this purchase.

      Enjoy your new car!

    3. Jessesgirl72*

      When we bought our (used) loaded 2012 Toyota Sienna in December, the finance guy said that arriving in our 2007 Chevy Avalanche and leaving in the Sienna was like arriving on the Mayflower and leaving on the Starship Enterprise! LOL He was not wrong!

      Heat in hybrids and electric vehicles take even longer to come up- you need those heated seats. But they are nice anyway!

      It’s just going to take time to work everything out. Even things like how to turn the lights on and off.

    4. TeaLady*

      Two cars ago we had a Prius and when reversing eg in a car park, it would beep inside the car but not externally. Given it would be under battery power and silent, pedestrians wouldn’t always realise it was moving … but of course we thought they were just being careless at first until we twigged about the lack of alarm!

    5. No, please*

      I’d love to have a Prius! My ex has one and my step kid just got one too. The only thing I worried about was pedestrians. It’s practically silent when you’re rolling through parking lots. They may not hear you so watch out for folks just walking in front of you.

    6. German surname*

      I’ve had my Prius for 12 years. I adore it. I plan to replace her with another Prius when the time comes.

    7. Chaordic One*

      I’ve driven one and thought it was fine, but it kind of bugged me not having the speedometer right in front of me. I would look over at it near the middle of the dashboard and then I would unconsciously start steering in that direction. I imagine that you’d get used to it after a while, but it still bugged me.

    8. Alice*

      Hello name buddy! Congrats on the car. I’m thinking of getting a used Prius too, but I’m not sure how the models differ. I think the Prius C is the cheap one, and then there are Prime and V models. I haven’t test driven any yet, though.

    9. Noah*

      When it snows I have serious debates about taking the Jeep that is much better for driving in the snow or the Mazda that has heated seats. Those heated seats are also great on long drives.

  13. lifeguard272*

    Happy Saturday!

    Background: I am a young professional woman, who moved for my job into my apartment. I’ve lived here about a year and a half. My landlord and her family (both young parents with children) live at the same residence, and there are 3 other apartments as well.

    My landlord is nice, but I feel doesn’t respect boundaries…I’m wondering if there are any suggestions for politely telling her to leave me alone ;)

    Some examples:
    -She came into my workplace to ask a question (work related), and was told I was home for my lunch break. She then drove home, knocked on my door to ask me the question, saying, “They said you were on your break so I figured I could ask you quickly!”
    -One night, I was in pjs, watching a movie, when the door rang. As I wasn’t expecting anyone, I didn’t answer. I then got a text from her saying, “I see your car is here, are you home?”. She wanted to share some baking (again, really nice!).
    -She is now selling a MLM product, and continuously will try and catch me as I’m heading out the door to ask if I want to attend a party/host a party/try a product/become a consultant.

    I don’t know if I’m just too much of a private person, but I don’t know how to enforce the boundaries.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Turtlewings*

      Your first two examples honestly don’t seem TOO bad. I hate talking to people–ever, really–so I sympathize with not wanting her around, but I don’t think she actually did anything that rude. The MLM thing is annoying, but maybe you can come up with a reason that her entire stock is useless to you and thus get her off your back forever? (I.e. she’s selling scented candles and anything scented gives you migraines, something like that.)

      1. lifeguard272*

        Thanks – rereading it I do feel like I’m perhaps nit-picking…I shall try that approach! :)

      2. AshK434*

        I disagree. If my landlord came to my office I would be pissed! That’s so intrusive and it’s bringing your personal life into the office in such a way that I would worry that my coworkers would think I were unprofessional. The other stuff is annoying as hell too. It’s like you have no privacy.

        1. Turtlewings*

          She said the question at her office was actually work-related (unless that was a typo?) so I can see why she thought it would be no big deal. After all, she (the landlord) is coming home with her question unanswered and knows the person she went there to speak to is right down the hall. It only makes sense to pop over and ask her.

          1. tigerStripes*

            I like to enjoy my lunch break, not be answering work questions during it. I would be annoyed by being interrupted.

    2. Blueismyfavorite*

      Ooh, that would annoy me so much! If she comes to your house again while you’re on your break I would tell her you’re on break but would be happy to answer her question when you’re back at work. But you’re within your rights to just not answer the door to her if it isn’t a good time. You also don’t have to answer her texts if you’re not in the mood for her to drop off baked goods or whatever excuse she’s using the next time. As far as the MLM, next time she brings it up politely and calmly say, “I’m not interested in hosting or attending a product party so I’d prefer you not ask again. Thanks for understanding.”

      She seems a bit clueless so you’re going to have to give her some clues.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      This would drive me crazy. The standard advice with this kind of thing is to be direct with her and tell her that you’d prefer she not stop by unannounced, but honestly, if I were in your shoes I’d probably go with a white lie instead — like saying that you nap at odd hours and so if she needs you for something, you’d rather she email you than ring your doorbell. Of course that doesn’t stop her from dropping by your workplace (!), but if that happens again, I think you can say, “I really shouldn’t have you stop by my workplace — please email me if you need me.”

      Although after writing all this out, I’m wondering if it wouldn’t in fact be better to just be direct and say something like: “You’ve been so lovely and welcoming to me — thank you. I’m actually really big on having privacy when I’m at home, and I’d rather you email than stop by if you need to reach me.”

      1. lifeguard272*

        Lots of great advice by everyone, thank you.

        I should clarify that I am a manager at our Community Centre…so it’s not like I work in an office and she stopped by. The question was one that could very well have been answered by the person who she spoke to when I was home, and definitely was not specific enough to need my specific expertise.

        I like the directness of telling her I prefer the privacy – thanks for letting me know it wouldn’t be so out of line to just say it that way.

        1. MommyMD*

          Be polite and direct. Beating around the bush and making excuses does not work with pushy people.

    4. Temperance*

      I’m an introvert who values privacy, so I’ve never been okay living in a building with the landlord nearby. It doesn’t work for me, and in my experience, they tend to be around too much and be to interested in how you’re keeping your home.

    5. nonegiven*

      I may be anti social but I don’t answer the phone if I don’t know the number, or if I just don’t want to.

      I also don’t answer the door unless I’m expecting someone and I know it’s them.

      People don’t text me, I don’t have a texting plan or a phone that makes it easy to text.

    6. Jen*

      The first two seem fine. The last one is awful.

      Sounds like she considers you a friend (and is likely harassing all friends with MLM).

    7. alex*

      I disagree slightly with what’s been posted. I’ve rented in NYC for over 10 years and am a loner/introvert/grumpy dog-lady, but making nice with landlords has never served me wrong. I’ve seen people get screwed due to their chilliness or belligerent assertiveness, whereas I’ve gotten noticeable perks (cheaper rent without the standard increases, leniency on payment dates, leniency on pet policies, etc) for just being pleasant.

      Your mileage may vary, but I would NOT issue a “I’m private; please don’t…” kind of message if you want to keep your place and keep the peace; someone who’s reaching out like this will likely feel burned by that statement and retaliate, and she has the control in this relationship because she owns the building.

      These things are easy to do:
      — accepting all food that’s offered (even if you don’t eat it), returning dishes, and giving quick thank-you notes/compliments
      — offering back something, anything, in return: If you initiate and make a drop-off of extra sweets or whatever, you get a check-mark for an interaction (obviating or delaying, at least, the landlord’s next move of “hospitality”)
      — leaving simple notes during holidays and exchanging pleasantries when you cross paths
      — proactively helping with building stuff (recycling, snow shoveling, etc) when convenient for you

      That said: your landlord is nuts to ring your bell and text you about your whereabouts; that is not cool. And I’d never buy a MLM product, either, so I agree with the other poster about creating a blanket “nope; doesn’t work for me, ever” statement about whatever the product is and shutting that down. I think I’d just ignore the unwanted contact and initiate contact that you can tolerate on your own terms.

      Maybe she’s just unstable, in which case, godspeed! But, if you can make nice, it may discourage her out-of-line reaching-out. I don’t disagree with others that it *should* be the case that you can say “here are my boundaries; respect them,” but I think that when you rent property, particularly when the landlord lives in the building or nearby, you gotta play their game by their rules. Just my $0.02

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I agree here. There are some relationships in life that it is in our own best interest to use diplomacy. You don’t have to like the person but you do have to have a working relationship.

        It’s fine to set boundaries and be consistent.
        Using your examples:
        “Jane, I don’t mind helping you or anyone with a work question. But I need to be at work. Just come in when I am there and I will be happy to help you. I cannot help you if I am at home.”
        “Aw, Jane, I’m sorry. You caught me in my jamies. I don’t usually open the door once I get into my pajamas. If you could call first and just check to see if now is okay, I sure would appreciate that.”
        “Sorry, Jane, I’m not into MLM products. Gotta stay on budget you know?! I have this landlady, (wink, wink) who likes the rent on time every month and I will stand on my head to make sure she gets it on time, every month! (smile)”

        Yep. It’s work to think of ways to convey the message. But any relationship is work so this is just more of that.

    8. MommyMD*

      Tell her you need your private time and don’t answer the door after work. Say I’m not interested when she tries to sell you her MLM nonsense. Be firm, polite, do not smile or apologize. She is the rude one. She’s definitely crossing boundaries. Ignore her texts that are intrusive or personal. Your job is to pay your rent and be a good tenant. That’s it. Good luck.

    9. nonegiven*

      No, if she had a work question she should have asked whoever was there at work, not bothered you with it when you were off the clock. Don’t answer the door or if she tries to waylay you on your way out, “sorry I have a limited break for lunch and bathroom, I have to get back to work now, you can call anyone at job for info.”

      PJs, movie, wait until movie ends and text back, “no, sleeping.”

      MLM: I have to go right now, but I really am not interested in that kind of marketing.

  14. EA*

    A few months back I asked for ideas for where to get work clothes, a few commenters recommended Boden. I just got back from their sample sale in Boston, and it was great! I wanted to try their clothes at the sample sale when it would be cheaper. Anyways, thanks comments. They have these sales twice a year in Boston (and I am sure other locations); if anyone is looking for clothes at a steep discount.

    1. Andrea*

      Love the Boden sample sales! Right price and with Boden you NEED to try it on! I have clothes in SIX different sizes from them.

      1. EA*

        So I found the sizing strange. It runs small generally but not consistently compared to US clothes right? It was also confusing that the sizes started at a 2 instead of a zero. I ended up just going up a size and that worked pretty well most of the time.

        1. Elizabeth H.*

          It varies a lot for me, I have a ton of Boden clothes. Fwiw their pants fit me really well but I would be a size 8 in them while wearing 4 or 2 in dresses and skirts from other brands (I’m not especially curvy but I have a bigger butt in proportion to my waist for a skinny girl – jeans size 28/29) and all my tops and dresses from them with number sizes are 6 or medium. I also am an 8 in their t-shirts. I think their sizing is pretty accurate actually and a little less ‘vanity’ than others, but size is so meaningless.

    2. Applesauced*

      I’ve got a Boden catalog on my nightstand right now! I’ve got one dress from them that gets tons of compliments, but I’m hesitant to order more because of the weird sizing. I’m a petite 2 at other stores, but because vanity sizing is really annoying, I’d have to order a few sizes from them and return the extras.

  15. Biglaw Stormtrooper*

    Another organization question, this time non-work! How do you digitally store and organize photos? I have years’ worth of stuff in iPhoto (backed up to an external hard drive) but I would like to begin the ordeal of tagging by year / location / people and so forth. Do people like Apple? google? Flickr? And do people have suggestions for how to do this on a practical level when there are thousands and thousands of photos?

    Thank you!

    1. printrovert*

      I am not fancy–I pretty much compress my collections on my mac and upload each to my Google Drive account.

      I think Adobe Lightroom has tagging/metadata features that will help with organizing photos. Those can then be backed up to the Creative Cloud. There are plans and quotas, so a little research on Adobe’s sight might be good before pursuing.

      Evernote is a viable alternative as a digital scrapbook. You can create notebooks that become albums and tag each note (read photo) and edit information. But the size of the photo files should be considered. There is limited monthly storage for free accounts, but the app offers different plans.

      I use Evernote to clip articles, the modern equivalent to my mother cutting historic articles from the newspaper.

      I would stay away from iCloud. There have been too many stories about accounts being compromised. Then again, I believe most of these incidents were directly caused by hackable passwords.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I actually did a huge project (1000+ photos) for my client on Flickr, because there are many levels of organization. You have albums, and you have tags, and you can also set locations, descriptions, and allow differing levels of sharing or commenting for all of them. I organize all my travel photos there now, because I can arrange them in logical groups, set locations, and tag them by content (“baby animal”, “landscape”) so they’re easier to search and explore.

    3. AliceBD*

      For doing: Find a regular time to do it. If you can, while watching a weekly TV show/listening to a weekly podcast would probably be good. (Or more frequently if you’d like.) For me at least it’s the sort of thing that I’d want a little background entertainment with. Also, as you do it, I would delete duplicate pictures of the same thing, or blurry pictures or whatever, so you just have the good ones left.

      For how to organize it: I have tried various systems, but what works best for me is just labeled, nested folders. It works on any computer system and I know I won’t have to pay for it in the future. This makes it easy for me to copy folders of pictures to send to people, or to make albums on Facebook for individual events. And by individual event is how I would want to find things. If you know you will be looking for photos for people, I have suggestions below for how I label pictures, and you’d just want to make sure to be consistent with the name you use for each person (I like to use initials when I can, since they are short and usually unique).

      My pictures from college are organized in a manner that makes sense to people who are not me/my family, so I’ll use them as an example.

      The main folder is [Name of my university]. Within it is a folder for each year (Freshman, Sophomore, etc.) and each summer (Summer 2008, etc.). Within the year ones there is a folder for each semester. Within the semesters and the summers are folders for individual events with the event and the date, such as “Hanging out in the gardens, April 2, 2009”. The individual pictures are within the event folders, and they are labeled with the names of the people in order, or the name of the group if it is a big group. So within the gardens folder above, there would be individual photos like “Lucy, Emily, Jennifer” or “me and Jennifer” (in that order to show the order L-R of who was in the picture).

      For family pictures (especially old ones we’ve scanned) we have a convention of identifying photos with the person’s initials, so a picture might be labeled “BCD with EFD & GHD” or “GHD with boys”, and again a date given if you know it. For pictures of things, I label the thing and then just stick a number on the end in the order that I took it. For example, “Chinese garden 1” “Chinese garden 2” etc, for my trip to Montreal’s Botanical Gardens last year. Or “[my initials] at harbor”.

    4. Manderley*

      For the lazy or one who has fallen off the Organized Photo Bandwagon (so, me), Google Photos does auto backup which don’t apply to your space limits unless you need high quality. They have facial recognition so you can easily find photos of one specific person, or a cat or cats, a car, a couch, etc. (The one person is obviously a count or a confectioner.) They also group events, make slideshows and have more fun features that I can’t recall off the top of my head. I back up through them and through iCloud. I also have a lot of photos of Flickr.

    1. Jean who seeks to be Ingenious*

      This is why I want to get a full-time job. Never mind salary, benefits, or a more obvious way of Contributing to Society–I want to get away. from. the. kitchen. Because when calories call, I answer.

    2. Ali in England*

      A very real LOL! I was thinking ‘I must send this to my team’ – right until I got to the pornography part.

  16. MsChanandlerBong*

    You know how people always say, “She must have known something” or “How did she not know?” when someone’s husband/boyfriend is arrested for some heinous crime? Well, now I can tell you. It’s totally possible to be good friends with/date a monster and have no inkling that he’s a monster. I am not going to go into the details, but suffice it to say that I just found out that someone I was friends with for about 12 years, and dated briefly, has been arrested for one of the most heinous things you could possibly do, and I had absolutely no idea he was doing any of it. And yes, I know arrested is not the same as convicted, but the details that have come out about the case make it clear that he was definitely involved.

    1. Tomato Frog*

      I think at least 50% of the reason people say those things is because they don’t want to think it could happen to them. Nonetheless, I do always wonder if there were hints that were ignored — denial is so powerful, and I know of plenty of cases where large neon signs were ignored (I’ve certainly done this myself). So I appreciate hearing from someone who’s telling me, no, there aren’t always clues.

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        I think the fact that we never lived together made a big difference. If he told me he couldn’t go out because he had to work, how would I know he was lying unless I went to his workplace looking for him (which I would not do)?

    2. Can't Sit Still*

      I’m so sorry. It’s such a shocking thing.

      I remember chatting with a co-worker at a company picnic one summer and he seemed to be doing well. He had been going through some personal difficulties, but he really seemed to have pulled through and moved on. A few months later, he was all over the news, having committed a horrific crime related to his difficulties. He never seemed the type, you know? Everyone was shocked. You just never know what people are thinking in the privacy of their own minds.

    3. Kristen*

      I think people in general like to believe they are a superior human being. It’s like the people who judge people for not acting heroically in the moment (e.g., there was a local story a few years ago about a mom who left her children in a burning house and did not save them. Of course everyone judged her in the comments on the news article). Nobody really knows how they would react in that situation, because thankfully it’s a rare situation to be in. Or the stories about people who make human mistakes especially while driving (I’m not talking about drinking and driving or texting or otherwise being extremely reckless.. that’s just dumb!) that are fatal to someone else. In reality something like that could happen to anyone of us, because we all get momentarily distracted by looking at something else for a second and that’s all it takes.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        And this is a prime example of how the news media portrays the story. Twenty years from now we will find out something that changes our opinion of the story.

        Don’t forget, OP, just because it’s in print does not mean it is true or accurate through out. I have seen so much backpedaling on previous stories. “And because he was wildly abused as a child, which WE reported to you originally…” Uh, no you did not report that part about the abuse.

    4. neverjaunty*

      Sometimes people deliberately overlook or excuse big red flags, and sometimes terrible people are just very, very good at hiding who they are. I’m sorry.

      1. Hellanon*

        “You see red flags, I see a parade!” a friend of mine said to me once, and I thought, yes, that explains a lot…

    5. FD*

      I think people say those things because they want to believe that anyone who does really bad things must be different from the good people they know, and especially from themselves. It’s much easier than realizing that all of us are capable of doing both good and evil, and that people who do many terrible things can go home and be kind and pleasant to their family and friends.

      It’s really dangerous thinking, I think. I think it lulls us into a false sense of security because we imagine people who do bad things as different from us; we could never do something really bad like that. I think that history (and experimentation such as the Milgram and Stanford prison experiments*) have demonstrated that most of us would in fact do awful things in the right circumstances. It also is a big reason that victims of many ‘private’ crimes aren’t believed. After all, the person is loyal/kind/gives to charity/etc in other situations, so they couldn’t possibly do such a thing.

      1. FD*

        * I know there were methodological (and ethical) issues in regards to these experiments, but since they have replicated behaviors that occur all over the place, I think there’s still something to them.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      This is very hard. It can blindside us in the worst way.

      I do have one comforting note. My wise friend used to say that people who are doing bad things TEND to push others away from them. This is in effort to protect those people from being caught up in the wrongdoing.
      Not all the time, and not everyone, of course.
      However there is a tendency among people plotting bad things to push away good people in order to protect them, in SOME circumstances.
      This makes it easier for me to believe that “she did not know”.

      Crime is a betrayal on so many levels. It’s a betrayal to people who love or trust us.
      And for us on the outside of the story, we are left with not trusting our own judgement or seriously questioning our own judgment. Some of this is okay, it’s okay to try to learn to be sharper, be more observant. However, giving up on the human race as a whole, probably is not the route to go.

      And this is yet another thing in life that we grieve. Once the dust settles and everything is taken care of, we are left with “why?” Why make that crappy choice and ruin your whole life? Why would anyone do that? In many cases, the answer is “hope died”. They stopped hoping to get off of drugs, they stopped hoping to get their rage under control, whatever.

      Hope is a very powerful thing, take that away from people and what happens next is usually not good.

    7. Temperance*

      I’m so, so sorry to hear this.

      I think many of these people are able to compartmentalize and manipulate, so they can hide their “bad” side from others. My FIL’s former best friend went to federal prison for what he told the family was “something he couldn’t talk about” and then hinted that it involved selling BBQ grills on eBay, so there was a crime across state lines, which is why he went to federal prison. For one reason or another, they never checked in to the veracity of the story, and my MIL was going to bring the kids to visit him in prison. Thankfully, there was a snowstorm, so they didn’t go.

      I have access to criminal records, so when my husband brought it up, I did a simple Google search, foudn the dude’s profile on our state Megan’s Law website, and then confirmed his actual crime. My MIL didn’t believe us, even though he plead guilty (which means he did something even worse), and his grandparents kept saying that there are two sides to the story, we don’t KNOW, etc.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        My cousin’s husband is also on the sex-offender registry. The story he told her is that he met a girl at a bar, they were both drunk, and they slept together. When I heard that, I went on the state judiciary website and looked at the criminal court records. It turns out he’d been charged with like eight counts of involuntary deviate intercourse, so I am fairly certain that it did not happen as he claims it did. He also spent nine years in prison, which (unfortunately) is a VERY long sentence for a rapist, so even before I saw the court records, I assumed he was blowing smoke up her behind.

        1. Temperance*

          That’s so, so hard. The family friend was in prison for 10 years, and he somehow convinced the family that it was a heavy sentence to make an “example” out of him. It’s crazy to me that she would just believe him.

        1. MsChanandlerBong*

          He didn’t enter a plea yet. Again, not providing too many details (the case has made international newspapers and TV channels due to some of the salacious details), but he was busted by the child predator unit after talking with a “13-year-old boy” for a few weeks and then arranging to meet said boy for a sexual encounter. And that’s not even the worst part of it.

        2. Temperance*

          I know the issues well enough, thanks, as an attorney. This is assuredly not that, and this generally doesn’t apply to sex crimes, which are frankly rarely prosecuted in this country.

          This person is an educated white male with no priors who went to prison for child porn and two charges for harming children under age 16. He plead guilty so that the record would be sealed, so if you look up the case, there is nothing except for acknowledgment of his plea and acceptance by the judge.

    8. Jenbug*

      Have you read “The Stranger Beside Me” by Ann Rule?

      I’m really sorry that you’re going through this. It’s always so difficult when something like this happens.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        I am a true-crime fanatic, so I’ve read all of her books. In my head, I know I couldn’t have known, but my subconscious is tormenting me. I keep dreaming that I could have done something to help the victims.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          To be fair, you have no idea what you did do that prevented something more from happening. That glass is half full as well as being half empty.

          It’s a pretty worn out phrase but “don’t beat yourself up”. FWIW, I think that people who feel something with every cell in their body, like you do here, send a vibe out and somehow the world becomes a better place in some way. I can’t prove or disprove that one. I just have to believe that when people feel something with their heart and soul it changes things. My father used to say that what we want/desire for others DOES matter in the greater scheme of things.

      2. Red Reader*

        I worked at the Crisis Clinic (long after she and Bundy did) — she violated her NDA so many ways in writing that book, holy cats. The few people who were still left working there from when she volunteered just about spit and forked the evil eye when her name was mentioned.

    9. Lissa*

      I had something similar-ish happen. No details, but if I hadn’t been called into work early I would have been in the house when police came through with a search-and-seizure warrant. I never told a soul what happened and am honestly still a bit unsettled by everything.

      As somebody said above, people really want to think that they would be the perceptive heroic one. Part of this is that in the media, every time a tragedy happens, every even slightly sympathetic character rises to the occasion and behaves bravely, and only unsympathetic characters end up running away etc. Part of it is not wanting to believe that somebody they fully trust could be capable of something awful, and this one I get. It is enough to make me sympathize with people who go through their partner’s phones (not that I would.). People say “you need to trust them” in one breath, but then also some people DO fully trust and aren’t ignoring red flags and still you find out the other person had some huge secret. I can understand wanting a little insurance against that.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        Obviously, my first concern is for the victims, but I also can’t help but think, “THANK GOD we never moved in together or got married.” At the time, I was heartbroken that he just suddenly stopped talking to me for seemingly no reason. Now that I am hearing more and more about the case, it seems that he may have been doing these things while we were together, or at least shortly after he stopped talking to me. Garth Brooks’s “Unanswered Prayers” has never been more relevant to me.

    10. INTP*

      I think that often what appear to be clear red flags only are so in retrospect, which gives the impression that there often ARE clear red flags for these things.

      Like, if your SO starts “working” weird hours and snapping in anger, Occam’s razor would suggest that he’s working longer hours and stressed out about it, or perhaps is having an affair or has developed a substance abuse problem. Not that he has, say, become a serial killer or started robbing gas stations at night. But if we knew the full context, in retrospect, “He started staying out all night and his personality got so weird and angry,” makes it sound like the SO should have known what was going on. Unless someone is coming home with blood on their clothing or having accusations made against them, there aren’t many red flags that are specific enough to indicate a certain crime, kwim? The closest people in a person’s life probably know that SOMETHING is up, but they have no clear indication that it’s something criminal or horrific rather than something else that is much more common.

      And if it’s a very long-term thing, not a sudden turn to crime in desperation, they probably have a plausible cover story all planned out and if they maintain control of their demeanor and cover their bases, there aren’t many ways to be found out. Plus, it’s my experience that deceitful types like habitual cheaters seek out partners that want to see the good in everyone — someone that they can convince they are judged unfairly by other people for superficial reasons, so their partner feels like it’s a betrayal to listen to anyone else saying “Hey, this is kind of a red flag.”

    11. MHS*

      I went to high school and a friend dated a guy who later shot and killed his pregnant wife. He had been having an affair with a local judge (he was a lawyer). Only just recently was I able to watch the Forensic Files episode about it. And it was terribly upsetting. (Season 6 episode 28 if you’re curious)

      It’s so hard to know you were once close to someone who had it within him to do such evil.

      1. Dan*

        I grew up in a small town. I went to high school and church with this kid whose dad was arrested for smoking weed and having sex with two underage girls… While dad was an elementary school principal. (I knew his dad, too.)

    12. the gold digger*

      But you don’t. You don’t always see them coming.

      I have a friend who married a man she later discovered is a psychopath who had lied about 1. being an orphan, 2. graduating from college, and 3. having cancer. They got married – his parents didn’t come because you know, he is an orphan. He did fundraisers for this cancer organization because he was a survivor. He is a VP at [Major Computer Company] and apparently, nobody there ever called Big State University to confirm that he had graduated, which he had not.

      My friend just happened to see some of his email and discovered that he had been having trysts IN THEIR HOUSE UNDER HIS REAL NAME from ads he posted on Craigslist. She found his French maid costume (who knew they made them for men? they do) in his closet.

      He had taken out credit cards in her name and charged up $100K in debt in her name. He was a liar and a cheater and he was so, so smooth. If you are an honest person who has not encountered a psychopath before, you have no idea. Even if you do know, you do not see them coming. Good people do not get conned by the obvious bad people. They get conned by people they think are also good.

      In one of my Shakespeare classes in college (I know I have told this story before, but it fits), we would cast the plays with current Hollywood stars. We were casting Othello and the class was naming unattractive actors to be Iago. My professor stopped us and said, “Robert Redford. That’s whom I would cast as Iago – Redford.” (This was back in the day when Redford was very attractive.)

      My professor continued – “If evil were ugly, we would not embrace it. Evil seduces us because it is beautiful.”

      The last time I posted this story, another commenter wrote something I thought was brilliant – that “the devil comes to us as everything we have always wanted.”

      So no. You do not always see evil. You don’t always have red flags. You do not always know.

    13. MommyMD*

      Anne Rule the author was friends with Ted Bundy volunteering for the suicide hotline. He used to walk her to her car so she got there safely. He said she had to be careful because there’s nuts out there.

    14. JengaViking*

      You are obviously a very intelligent thoughtful person…I think we just can’t go through life thinking this stuff is possible. Maybe we have some elaborate construct to get through the day, I dunno. I have an acquaintance who is about to go to prison for some bad stuff, like real dark stuff. And of course no one could believe it etc. Including me. I’m sorry you have to feel this type of pain and I hope you feel better soon.

  17. Wedding receptions*

    I’m trying to figure out dinner options for a ~90 person backyard wedding reception. I’m seeking the right balance between minimizing the amount of effort I have to put into food (I say “I” because my fiance is more open to DIY options than I am) and having flexibility when it comes to food and drink options. So obviously paying a caterer who’s used to events like these is the easiest thing, but it also reduces the amount of choice we have with food and booze and potentially raises cost beyond our ideal food budget.

    One thing I’ve been wondering is whether it’s possible to, say, have food delivered from different sources and then hire serving staff from a separate company. Is that something that is Done? I did some cursory internet searching and I didn’t really find companies that offer reception-style service separate from the catering itself, but I might just not be looking in the right places.

    Also, anyone have a wedding reception where the caterers just drop off food to be served buffet style and there isn’t catering staff at all? I feel like this is not really feasible for a reception this large, but that’s what my fiance is pitching. I think you at least need someone to stick around and attend to the buffet itself — restock certain dishes when they run out, keep things tidy, make sure there are serving implements, etc. I also think it’s important to have someone clear the dinner plates, but fiance is adamant that people can clear their own plates into bins. Anyway, I would appreciate hearing from voices of experience!

    1. Turtlewings*

      Personally, I think the best possible option for any gathering anywhere is to just order a ton of pizzas!

    2. Blueismyfavorite*

      I think you’re right to not want to go with your fiancé’s idea of having different caterers drop off food and let your guests fend for themselves. That’s going to be a disaster. How is the food going to stay hot? Who’s going to set up and maintain the serving station, replenish the dishes, bus the tables, and clean up your event space? How would you guarantee that all the food would arrive at the same time? You do not want to be worrying about that type of thing while you’re trying to enjoy your reception. Every party needs a “host” and you’re basically trying to have a host-less wedding. It’s not going to work.

      At my sister-in-law’s wedding she had a caterer that brought, served, cleared, and cleaned up and even that was problematic because she didn’t have a wedding planner or designate anyone to be the point person for the caterer. So the caterer brought the food, plated it at the appropriate time and indicated to her mother that they were ready to serve and asked permission to begin. The mother didn’t feel she had the authority so she frantically asked me what to do. I asked my sister-in-law if the caterers could serve. She had her head in clouds of happiness and said, “Not right now. Everyone seems to be enjoying talking for the moment. Tell them to wait about 20 minutes.” Consequently the food, which my mother-in-law paid a fortune for was cold.

      You need one caterer in charge and you need a point person the day of who decides when the cocktail hour is over, when dinner is served, when the toasts are made and things like that because your head is not going to able to process those timing details that can make or break a party.

    3. Me2*

      I was recently at a wedding that was way understaffed. The caterers were new and made a mistake about the number of people needed. Plates were never cleared, buffet line ran out of food several times with no one to restock. The mother of the bride was trying frantically to help and ended up in tears. It ruined the day for her. I was a guest of the mother of the groom and I offered to help but honestly, at a wedding guests should not have to bus tables and replenish food. I’ve always heard that you provide what you can afford. If that’s just punch and cake, then that’s what you offer. I’m sure you could find servers easily, I always use high school girls for events at my house where I just want someone on hand to clear plates, keep trays replenished, etc. I just have them wear a white shirt and black pants/skirt. They’re so eager to help and to earn a little cash.

    4. Andrea*

      We had a local restaurant that does family style Italian cater our wedding. We had set tables and the wait staff brought out family platters and people served themselves, each other. Same with the wine on the table. They also cleaned up, per our specs. Much less than a wedding caterer.

    5. JC Books*

      I have worked part- time for a caterer for years. My wisdom would be to remind you that this is a special event that you want to remember forever. It is worth the extra money to pay for service. You and your family should not have to be worrying about food details when you can be enjoying your guests. Getting the food delivered from a caterer is the safest option. If you have several friends or family making things, it is too easy for food to be left out too long, etc.
      Many caterers will not do the bar set up, tear down and supplying the beverages. They will have someone bartend if necessary. This is due to insurance reasons, etc.
      For a wedding that size, I would suggest having two or three catering staff. Ballpark, it would cost about 200.00 per staff person including tip. It is worth every dime to have the food service and set up/clean up done by professionals. Be sure that the caterer comes to see the backyard so any questions or ideas can be discussed ahead of time. That way, the actual event will not have unexpected glitches. Hope you have a really special Wedding!!

    6. oh my...*

      Do you have friends in the restaurant industry with a network of people you could hire on an individual basis? If you are just doing buffet-style for 90, I would just think 5 or so people manning separate stations would suffice.

    7. Wedding receptions*

      Thanks for all the replies so far! They definitely back up all the arguments I was making for the need for staffing.

    8. Gene*

      We catered ours completely from Costco. A build your own sandwich table and sides, a cooler of drinks, one of beer, and some box wine. The cakes were also from there. Setup and clean up took about 20 minutes each.

      Of course, we got married on a bus at a drive-up wedding window in Vegas. :-) And rented the hall at the Universalist church.

    9. Jen Erik*

      We had about 100 for my daughter’s wedding this summer – I’d say don’t forget all the things a caterer does that you don’t think about – hiring glasses, silverware, fridges – all we self-catered were the drinks, and we managed not to think about how we were going to chill them until about two days before. It seems obvious now, but if you don’t throw big parties regularly its hard to think of everything.
      And the clearing up afterward – all we had to do was box up the glasses from the evening so they could be taken away to be washed (the caterer would have done that the next morning, but we had it done as part of the general tidying before he arrived) – but it’s all more time consuming than you think it will be. I’m really glad we didn’t have to clear everything else as well.
      It depends how tight your budget is, and what matters to you, but someone has to do everything, and if your family or friends are laying tables, they’re not having a leisurely breakfast with you, or clustering round as you come down in your dress.

      Also, if you get the food from somewhere else, remember to brief the servers, because they won’t know what’s in the food (aka that time we nearly killed the photographer).

      Personally, I’d go for simpler food, catered, rather than something more elaborate self-catered.

      Possible money saving options – my daughter at one point looked into picnic baskets – I think you could get round much of the catering that way, if someone local would make up baskets for you. Or years ago, when my brother got married, there was a local catering college and we approached them – they used it as an opportunity to train their students, which brought down the overall cost. (And the food, which was all vegetarian, was delicious.)

      But really – you can do it for nothing if you need to – we had two receptions when I got married, one in my family garden, and one in my husband’s family garden for the people that couldn’t travel over to the wedding. For the second all the aunts brought plates of sandwiches, and everyone pitched in and laid & cleared, and it was great fun. It depends how formal you want it to be.

      1. Jen Erik*

        P.S. – I was thinking it over after I posted, wondering why (wild generalisation) men tend to think you can save money on certain things – which led me to think that I should recommend that you watch ‘Father of the Bride’ – the original, Spencer Tracy version.

        It must have been written by someone who’d just hosted a wedding – entirely true to life, even 60 years on. (Tracy starts with a sensible budget, is aghast at how much everything costs, tries valiantly to economise, and ends up in the place where, as a friend of mine who co-ordinated weddings described, parents just sign whatever cheque is put in front of them with a glazed expression on their face.)

        It’s very, very funny if you’re going through the process yourself.

        1. Wedding receptions*

          Apparently I won’t need to have him watch any cautionary movies. Yesterday I said “I asked on the Ask a Manager open thread about not hiring staff, and lots of people had horror stories, so I think we’d better hire people,” and he said, “Oh, hm.”

          That movie does sound exactly like the process my father went through with my sister last year. My father just did not have the concept of how much these things cost. I had to talk him through a near-nervous breakdown at one point. And she had a fairly subdued wedding. (My dad’s not paying for our wedding — I wanted to try to pay for it on our own, but then my future mother-in-law wrote us a check for twice our budget. So.)

          My fiance and I are both thrifty, but I am much more minimal than he is, e.g. I didn’t want a wedding party, decorations, or music — but we will have all of these things because of his preferences. But skimping on service goes against all my hostess values. I turned into the Dowager Duchess during that conversation. “You would have our guests…. carry their own plates… and put them in… bins? I don’t understand.”

    10. Not So NewReader*

      It sounds like your focus is on food options.
      A few things:
      Certain foods lend themselves well for group buffets, others do not. This means when you say group and/or buffet you have already narrowed your food choices.
      My suggestion to you is find one person/business who is interested in doing several different types of foods But just have that one person/business.

      Food is a symbol. It means generosity, friendship, bonding and many other things. Are there non-food ways that you can express these feelings to your guests so that food is less of a deal?

      I think what you should do is a dry run. You and your fiance cook up a few things and have some people over. Eat outside. Then he will start to see where the problems are.

      I would not recommend this. People who are hosting a large group do not usually serve the large group because it is not possible to do both at the same time.

    11. Sydney Bristow*

      We had about 75 people at our backyard wedding 1.5 years ago. We ordered the food from a local BBQ restaurant. We rented chafing dishes along with our chairs, linens, plates, etc. Then we hired several friends of my sister to be cater waiters. She had worked at a restaurant with a couple of them and the sometimes worked with a catering company. I offered to pay them $20/hour, which was apparently awesome for my hometown and they jumped at the offer. One had her liquor serving license so she served our beer and wine, one picked up the food from the restaurant, and they helped keep the buffet stocked and cleared plates, etc.

      It worked out perfectly for us. We got super yummy food from an awesome restaurant. My sister’s friends were great. If you have a favorite restaurant where you recognize the wait staff, you might ask directly if they’d be interested in being hired for your wedding.

    12. Parenthetically*

      I had a buffet-style backyard wedding of about the same size with no servers — my budget definitely would not have run to waiters! It worked great. It was VERY casual so we actually asked people to bring a side to pass and just catered the main. Drinks were beer and wine and soda and bottled water in metal buckets scattered around the deck. Because it had a very casual vibe, people just kind of jumped in and helped. I think it was great. The food was so good (what little of it I got to eat!), and the atmosphere was very friendly and convivial.

      1. Wedding receptions*

        That sounds so nice, and I think this is what he’s picturing. And maybe he could pull it off if he was marrying himself. But he is marrying me, an anxious person who has been reading Miss Manners religiously since she was 8 and who stopped having friends over for dinner because it made me disproportionately anxious. I am a formal person, and I am a worrier. I am antithetical to casual.

    13. Drago cucina*

      Hiring a few people to watch over everything is a good idea.

      As for food–Someone mentioned Costco. I just had a party for 80 and everything was from Costco. Caprese skewers from marinated mozzarella and grape tomatoes, mini quiches, humus and veggies, meat and cheese platters with crackers. Easy for the severs to set-up and keep an eye on. I didn’t have a cake, but brownies, chocolates, etc.

    14. Amy*

      We had a backyard reception for a similar sized group. You absolutely need people – good, capable people who aren’t also guests – there to put on your reception. I would echo what the other commenters are saying, and also add that I would highly recommend having a day-of coordinator if you can swing it.

      We met with ours in advance and she brought up things we had never thought of, like: Have you rented enough cutlery/cups/napkins? Will you have enough trash cans? Where are people going to go to the bathroom? (The little downstairs bathroom in the house was not going to be sufficient for 90 people with an open bar; we ended up renting fancy porta-potties.) How are you going to keep the area bright enough – will an extension cord from the house be able to handle all the lights?

      She was also able to handle last-minute crises we didn’t need to be worried about on our wedding day; ie when the weather got unseasonably cold all of a sudden she was able to rent some propane heaters for the reception.

      If your fiance is balking at the cost, I say this as kindly as possible – he probably doesn’t understand how much behind-the-scenes work goes into making an event (especially one involving a meal and a large group) run smoothly. Please be kind to yourselves and don’t scrimp on the help or press inexperienced guests who should be enjoying the party into putting it on.

      Lastly, A Practical Wedding has TONS of great advice about putting on backyard weddings and weddings on a budget. Their site, book, and planning spreadsheets were a lifesaver for me. Definitely check it out if you haven’t yet.

      Congratulations and good luck!

      1. AnonAcademic*

        I second this. I was part of a backyard DIY wedding where no professionals were consulted in advance. We arrived to help set up and found that, among other things, the uneven hilly path to the port a potties had zero visibility after sunset. The HC had spent a lot of time and money on beautiful, elaborate decor and table settings but neglected to get things like heaters despite the weather being chilly and drizzly. We did what we could on short notice (path lighting + flashlights, got one heater, etc.) but they still had issues with sound equipment, temperature, etc. that led to the reception ending pretty early (8 pm). They would have saved about a dozen people SO MUCH STRESS if they’d paid for a coordinator further in advance.

          1. blackcat*

            I was at an outdoor wedding outside of Tahoe once… where they did provide heaters/lights around the tables/dance floor, but nothing for the walk from the tables to the bathrooms and parking lot. I, being a CA native, brought a full-on coat to this July wedding–it was 70 or so degrees in the afternoon. Friends joked on the way to the venue, and I was all like, “Guys, this lovely park is at over 10,000 ft. It’s gonna get cold real fast when the sun goes down.”

            Indeed, when we got in the car to go back to the hotel at 10pm, it was 36 degrees. No cloud cover made the temperature plummet, like I thought it would. I was happy as a clam in my coat, surrounded by people who were SO COLD. Also sunburnt, because even at 3pm, the sun is intense at those elevations (and I was wearing plenty of sunscreen, because I have made that mistake before!).

            Just a polite warning from the hosts would have helped so much. Everyone from out of town thought California + July = warm. The bride and her family all had lovely, formal coats–clearly they knew the deal. It just didn’t occur to them to give everyone else a heads up!

            If you are going for a full outdoors experience, prep your guests! Warn them about what they need for clothing.

      2. Wedding receptions*

        Oh, propane heaters. That’s brilliant. I know that’s not the main gist of your comment but I’m putting that in my back pocket for the wedding week if the weather lets me down. We can actually move people inside the house if needed — it’s a big house (with several bathrooms!) — but I would love to have more options.

        I think the main source of our differences is that he knows that he, and his friends and immediate family, would not at all mind being press-ganged into helping with things. Whereas I do mind being put to work when I’m a guest, and therefore would feel pretty hypocritical if I leaned on my guests that way.

        1. Amy*

          Re: your second paragraph, I think it’s so important to know your guests. If the norm is for everyone to pitch in, and you truly know they would be fine with that, then great! The wedding that Parenthetically describes, for example, sounds so lovely. But if your guests aren’t up for that level of involvement then trying to press them into it is just going to create bad feelings. I’m like you – I don’t feel comfortable asking guests to do party-related tasks, and I don’t really like being asked to do them as a guest.

          Case in point: at our wedding we had our wedding party (who arrived the day before) help with a few small things, like setting up centerpieces, then we took them all out to dinner. The day of the wedding we all just had fun and let the professionals handle the logistics. It felt like a good balance and I don’t think anyone felt put-upon. We didn’t have a huge budget so we sacrificed some items in order to make sure we could pay for some help because it was important to us.

          Conversely, two weddings we attended recently involved fairly heavy set-up by the guests because they didn’t want to hire people. In one wedding for a friend of mine (not a close friend, but one I’ve known a long time), we flew in from out of town early that morning and spent the first half of the day up on ladders decorating their venue alongside a ragtag band of friends of the couple, none of whom we had ever met. TBH it was not super fun and kind of left a bad taste in our mouths for the afternoon ceremony.

          In the other wedding my husband, who is a close friend of the groom, was asked to coordinate all of the transportation for the day. This included managing the shuttles for all the guests, making sure the couple’s families got to and from the venue, making sure the officiant was picked up and dropped off, etc. My husband was happy to do it because he’s close with the groom but it meant he spent at least half the wedding and reception on his cell phone or standing outside trying to track down shuttles and taxis. We ended the evening by herding drunk guests (including one active puker) onto shuttles and doing rounds to ensure the venue was empty. We love this couple but when I think about their wedding I still get ticked off.

          1. Gene*

            I just found out from the person who is hosting the memorial service (just getting rolling now) that she was stressed because she wasn’t helping at our reception – 20 years ago…

            So, yes, you need to know your audience.

          2. Parenthetically*

            Absolutely agreed with all of this. Knowing my community, I floated the potluck, everyone-helping-out thing with a few friends WAY in advance and the universal response was, “What a great idea, what can I do to help, I’ll make X and can I help set up too?” You gotta know your audience.

    15. INTP*

      I agree with above that you don’t want to just have food dropped off. People CAN clear their own plates, but they won’t know to do so unless they’re specifically instructed, and you’ll either have tables full of old lingering food or you’ll have to have someone take the floor and address the crowd with instructions for food disposal – probably not the atmosphere you want to set! And with so many people, monitoring the buffet to replenish dishes or replace utensils or clean up spills would be a full time job for at least one person, and not a fun one that you could reasonably ask a family member to do.

      I don’t know much about these things personally but the one thing I would suggest is to have a vendor – whether caterer, serving company, whatever the options are – that is specifically experienced in weddings of your size. I’ve seen good food become terrible wedding meal experiences because they weren’t equipped to handle wedding-specific logistics. For example, a wedding where the meal was served by a food truck – good food, but they were set up to serve one order at a time food truck style, so there was a massive line and some guests were served 45 minutes before others, and people who knew each other couldn’t eat together unless they got in line at the same time.

    16. Natalie*

      As others have said, I would definitely have the caterers include one or two staff – if you’re already getting catering, the cost of the staff is pretty minimal compared to the food and it’s so very worth it. Unless you have friends that a) would be happy to do this, b) have catering or serving experience and c) could come up with enough people that they wouldn’t have to spend the whole time being caterers, not having staff will suck. My husband and I foolishly did our own tables & dishes and such for our wedding, rather than having the caterers handle it, and it was incredibly obnoxious at the end of the night when we were breaking down tables and arranging who was going to come get them in the morning.

      As far as flexibility, buffet is your friend. But don’t get too creative – no one is going to be upset that there are two vegetable dishes rather than five. For 90 people, two-three proteins (one vegetarian perhaps) + a selection of 3-4 sides will be lovely and people will be happy with it. Seriously! If your concerned about cost, chicken, fish, and vegetarian is your friend, or look at non-traditional things like a taco or burger bar. Salads and bread are usually pretty cheap from caterers so you can use those to fill out the buffet.

      For bar, unless you really want hard liquor it’s incredibly easy and cheap to do your own bar. Just buy a bunch of beer and wine and N/A drinks in cans or bottles, put them on ice, and your good to go. Twist off or pop top are obviously preferable to pry-off bottles or corked wine. Many liquor stores will let you return unopened cases of wine or beer, or you can just keep it if you drink. We drank beer out of our garage for months after our wedding. :)

      One thing I learned is that the caterers will take care of a surprising amount of things for you if you just ask. Ours provided ice and tubs for drinks, cleared empties, set out the cupcakes we had bought, etc just because I asked. Bring some cash so you can tip them if they do a good job.

    17. Windchime*

      I don’t know if you’re still reading, but my son and his wife got married in a casual, outdoor venue and the reception was at the same place. They wanted a low-key, comfortable wedding. My DIL ordered pies (instead of cake) from a local bakery who delivered them the morning of the wedding. I ordered salads and sandwiches from the Costco deli and several family members brought additional salads and fruit/veggie trays. A friend donated a keg and the wine came from Trader Joe’s.

      If I were to do it again (and I have another son, so it’s very likely!), I would hire help at the venue so that I, as the mother of the bride, wouldn’t have to rush around and work on the food. But it really was low-key. The music was provided by a couple of friends with an iPod and a sound system. We had white lights strung in the trees and danced and drank beer and wine till 10 PM. It was awesome and very affordable.

      1. Wedding receptions*

        Yeah, my father and I were rushing around at my sister’s wedding for non-food related reasons (it was well-staffed, but my sister and her husband hadn’t worked out a lot of the details that the catering staff wasn’t handling) and I want to avoid any friend and family having to do that on my behalf.

        I tried to make the case for pies instead of cake but fiance is staunchly pro-cake. And yes I do wonder every day why I would marry someone who prefers cake to pie.

  18. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    So last night, I heard my wife’s story in counseling, about some abuse she went through as a kid.

    I posted last week in the weekend thread that I was worried about doing or saying the right things, and not reacting badly. I’m pleased to say that I didn’t need to stop her at any point, let her tell it her way all at once, and only cried a little. And I remembered what a commentor said about not saying “but…I love you anyway,” statements and such. This doesn’t change anything. I’m angry that it happened and I love her and don’t see her as a victim.

    That said, she’s in a really foul mood today, and as a result put me down and called me some names. She usually doesn’t so I think she’s probably still just upset from telling her story. She has a tendency to go to anger rather than be vulnerable. But, I don’t deserve to be mistreated, either. Where do I draw the line now and say “that is not ok?” in these circumstances? I said I wouldn’t go with her to an event this morning if she was going to speak badly to me, and so she went alone, but I also feel bad at making her do things alone and not being there.

    1. fposte*

      I think that’s a reasonable place to draw it. You’re not swearing you’ll never love her again, but it’s not your job to be chained to her, and it’s not fun for you to hang out with her if she’s being unpleasant to you; you’re going to do something on your own until she pulls it together.

      And I think it’s worth, when she does simmer down, for you two to talk about the difference between anger and meanness/punishment. I know there are reasons why a partner dealing with stuff may want to lash out, but I don’t think her wanting to punish means you have to take punishment.

    2. Junior Dev*

      You didn’t make her go alone. She made her go alone by being mean to you.

      One thing I’ve been trying to practice lately is setting boundaries without making it a confrontation (the other person can choose to make it one, that’s not my fault). My best example of this is using the broken-record phrase with my parents, “I’m not going to discuss my weight with you.” I don’t give reasons, I just say it until they get bored of hearing it and move on.

      You actually did great by setting a boundary with your wife: “I’m not going to (event) if you talk to me like that.” Can you think of other situations where it might be tough to leave the interaction and pre-plan how you might do so for a few minutes? Like if you’re at the grocery store you could split off to another section and shop separately for example.

      Then keep holding the boundary. “I’m not going to —- with you if you’re going to talk to me that way.” Fill in whatever it is you’re doing.

      I know she’s your spouse and you want to make her happy but in the case of her being mean to you it’s important to try and resist any urge to placate her, hard as that may be, because that’s how she thinks she can keep doing it.

      Note that if you are fearful for your safety (or that she’ll do something to sabotage you) if you stand up to her, that is a very different situation, but I’m not seeing that in your comment (though of course I could be wrong).

      1. neverjaunty*

        This is excellent advice.

        Being in a hard place emotionally does not make it OK for your wife to crap on you. She has a choice of how to react to her emotions.

        1. Junior Dev*

          One of my favorite Captain Awkward concepts is “you’re not making it awkward/weird/hostile by standing up to someone who treats you badly. You’re returning the awkwardness to sender.” If someone else mistreats you, you are not doing them wrong by setting a boundary about it.

    3. TL -*

      You could just say, “hey, that was rude/mean.” in the moment.
      You can ask, “is everything all right? You seem on edge and you’re a bit snappy.”
      And if she is rude in response, “okay. Well, you seem to be in a bad mood, so I’m going to go take a walk/bath/read for a bit. Let me know if you want to talk.”

      The key is to keep your tone neutral; you’re simply trying to communicate her actions are not okay and give her space to talk. You’re not trying to start a fight or explain her feelings to her. And if she continues to be rude, just go be somewhere else for 15-30 minutes, not as punishment, but more in a “I want my day to be pleasant” kind of way.

      1. Allypopx*

        Addressing it in the moment works really well for me and my partner. I have pretty bad anxiety/PTSD issues and sometimes I’ll get wound up and it gets directed as anger. His response is invariably “Whoa, hang on.” It brings me back into the moment and makes me think about why I’m acting the way I am. That’s after some practice, of course, but I’ve found that creating sort of a consistent “there’s the line” reaction has worked as a good trigger to snap me out of a rage episode.

          1. Allypopx*

            It’s super hard, but it’s also great that you are looking out for your own well-being and standing up for yourself. That’s so important, for both of you.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I like the simplicity of these responses a lot.
        Am reading this looking for ideas because I have a family member who… well conversation with her is a thousand paper cuts. I am debating which route I want to go with it. This seems to be a simple response that encourages the person to stay in current time. I am a firm believer that if someone is ill or had a bad time in life that does not give them the right to trample over others.

    4. Lily Evans*

      I think it’s totally reasonable for you to spend some time apart if she isn’t treating you well right now. I think you can draw the “that’s not okay” line as soon as she says or does anything that hurts you. You can still be understanding, but let her know that you’re going to take a step back and give her space until she’s not going to lash out at you. She’s an adult and it is nowhere near unreasonable to ask her not to call you names.

      Are you going to continue going to therapy together or was it a one time thing? Because that sort of behavior could probably benefit from being discussed with a neutral third party. It’s also something you could encourage her to work on with her therapist if she isn’t already.

    5. Temperance*

      I think it’s a completely fair boundary to tell her that she can’t insult you, namecall you, or otherwise attack you, even if she’s hurting. I think it’s completely fine to hold the line when it comes to attacks on you.

    6. MP*

      I have a tough time being around people after going to the dark places in therapy. I get a little rebound effect where I get really self-protective, trying to stop what feels like emotional bleeding. I get migraines. A little dissociated. I’ll pick fights. I don’t do this kind of therapy often anymore, but I’m also better at the self awareness and self care. Unfortunately, communication while having that emotional hangover and trying not to be having it still comes out sharp. It’s difficult to revisit that kind of stuff and not bring a little back with you. I hope things improve for you both as you navigate this. There isn’t exactly a map. (If you do happen to find one, please let me know. I’d love one!)

      1. Anon right now*

        I am currently talking through the emotional effects of some long-ago abuse with my therapist and have had similar after-effects. Therapist is using a approach similar to the internal family systems model (it’s on Wikipedia) and recommended that I read Living Like You Mean It (the one by R. Frederick). Both things have helped me not bring back the bad into my daily life and interactions. This might not be the map for you, but it is helping me get past some crap that I thought I had already worked out.

    7. ..Kat..*

      Creating and reinforcing reasonable boundaries (which is what you did) is good.

      Many of us recommended therapy just for you. That could help you set reasonable boundaries (sometimes it is hard to know what those are). Therapists can be great sounding boards.

      Sometimes people seek reassurance that they are still loved by being as obnoxious as possible. If you reject them, it is “see, you don’t really love me, I am unlovable, etc.”. She expects to be treated badly (she has been in the past), and she is pushing you to be the same (a person who treats her badly). She has been taught that she is horrible, unlovable, deserves abuse. While you are thinking, “but I don’t believe that; I have always treated you well; I love you,” deep down she is the little, defenseless, unlovable, despicable little girl who is deserving of horrible treatment and punishment. She is trying to push you away because she does not know how to deal with love, with being treated well, etc.

      I wish I could explain this better. It is so hard for people who grew up relatively normal to understand this. As I type this, I am thinking that someone with the blogger name “overcaffeinatedandqueer” is probably not someone who identifies with normal. Sorry, I hope this helps. A good therapist can explain this better.

      1. ..Kat..*

        Just wanted to add that I am not defending how she is behaving, just trying to explain it. She just told you how awful she was treated by others in the past. Now, she is wondering if this has made you see her for what she truly is – an ugly inside and out person who deserves this awful treatment.

  19. My dog...*

    Hey AAM Fam,
    My family and I are in desperate need of prayers/positive thoughts/good karma/whatever you do… our almost 4-year-old German Shepherd ate one of our sons very gently used diapers on Tuesday, and it swelled in his stomach and caused an obstruction. Fortunately we realized that something was not right Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning with him vomiting and we went ahead and took him to the vet.
    Surgery was done Thursday and the vet successfully removed the entire diaper, but pieces had begun to migrate through his small bowel and caused some severe damage that may yet lead to intestinal perforation and possibly sepsis. He spiked a post op fever yesterday that responded to antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs.
    My husband visited him yesterday and we both visited him today, and the vet thinks that seeing my husband yesterday improved his attitude and mental health so much that today he actually ate a cam of wet food and drank some water from a bowl.
    We still have a long road to recovery, so I’d appreciate anything the AAM family has to offer.

    1. NaoNao*

      Aww I’m so sorry! Side note, what seems to be so attractive about human’s (or other!) potty areas to dogs? My roommates’ dog’s favorite water bowl is the toilet—right after it’s been flushed! And she loved to eat cat poops before we put a “lid” on the litter pan. Dogs and potty moments, man!

      1. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

        Who knows! And supposedly they have this highly developed sense of smell and it’s like, how in the world does that smell like something tasty?!?!
        He’s eaten a fair number of diapers but this is the first one that’s ever caused any problems. Crazy dog!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          It could be cumulative. There could have been remnants from previous diapers in his system so this one fully clogged his system.

          I have a locking lid on my kitchen garbage because the dogs just will not leave it alone. It’s amazing what they will eat.

          1. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

            Could be… we used a regular little flip lid trash can for a long time and finally invested in a diaper genie when the little trash can started to retain the stench of diaper even when empty. The dog used to attack the trash can from time to time but won’t mess with the diaper genie. We have been putting some tee tee only diapers in the bathroom trashcan at bath times though, and I’m 99% sure that’s where he got this one.

            1. Natalie*

              Man, definitely keeping this in mind when we have a kid! Our dog eats all kinds of weird junk, but I never would have guessed diapers might be on the menu. Already had to take his dumb butt to the emergency vet once and I don’t relish repeating the experience.

              Good luck to your puppy!

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Someone told me that they actually smell food in the stools and that is what attracts them. I don’t know, it’s as good as guess as any.

    2. Jessesgirl72*

      So sorry!!! Eating is such a good sign, though! It sounds like the worst it over! Prayers for your sweet puppy!

      And ugh, stupid German Shepherds! (the one my parents had when I was a newborn ate a corner of the garage and some china plates…)

      1. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

        And to be so smart in other ways, he sure isn’t very discerning when it comes to diet. He’ll eat just about any human food except pickles, q tips, baby diapers, food wrappers, wood, charcoal, and electronics such as TV remotes and game system controllers. He once atell and then puked up the better half of a playstation 4 controller. That was super fun to clean up!

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          Our Rottie mix has some shepherd in her- she doesn’t look it, but we met her mother. What kills me is that she will ignore my cell phone sitting on the coffee table for over a year, and then one day she decided to eat the corner of it… Another day she decided to destroy a shelf’s worth of books, that had always been available to her. And she HAS things of her own to destroy, is only left alone for a few hours a WEEK, and is kept exercised! She will be 4 in April, and has mostly outgrown it, until she gets an idea in her head…

          1. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

            I got a brand new pair of Rainbow sandals for my birthday one year after he destroyed all of them.. I’d had them a week and he sheared the straps clean off. All I had left where soles. I was so mad!

        2. Jen*

          Our dog walker adopted a dog from a shelter and due to behavioral issues had him on a leash 24/7- as in, knew where he was and what he was doing every single second.

          SIX WEEKS after he arrived, he threw up a full spatula. A spatula! Not even broken! It had been in his system for over six weeks.

          Put my sock and random crap eating dog to shame (our dogs big vice was yard creatures- he ate rabbits, mice, etc in one gulp of caught with them in his teeth :/. He once ate garter snake.) (he was on regular dewormer because of this….)

    3. Cookie D'oh*

      What a scary situation. So sorry. Hoping there are no further complications and that he continues to get better.

    4. Mazzy*

      I lost a dog in a similar situation. It was bad timing, he ate the garbage on a holiday weekend at night and it was pre widespread internet so we couldn’t google where to bring him and no one we knew where to go, and less places were open than usual because of the holiday. We waited to the next morning and then drove around to vets and by the time we found one who confirmed he needed surgery AND could do the surgery, he was too far gone and died that day. He also had had stomach issues before so it wasn’t as if he had a clean slate.

      I am no vet but from the people I’ve discussed this with, health issues with dogs like this progress really fast, so if he is already somewhat improving and thank God lived through surgery, I definitely think he is already on the right track. Good luck!

      1. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

        Thanks! We’re fortunate we realized something was wrong as fast as we did. I’m so glad we didn’t wait until Thursday to take him in.

    5. Meag L*

      Sending positive vibes your way! Good job taking him to the vet so soon! My dog loves to eat his own poop.. so i’m sure he’d love a diaper buffet. Wishing a speedy recovery.

      1. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

        Thanks! He’s had digestive issues before, but he was acting so strangely this time that we knew something different was going on. I’m just thankful we know him well enough to know what’s normal and what’s not, so we knew to take him to the vet.

    6. tigerStripes*

      Sounds like he’s doing better, which is great. I hope he has a full and quick recovery!

      Most of the German Shepherds I’ve known have been such sweet, loving, protective dogs. They’re sometimes almost too smart, which can get them into trouble, but you’ve already run into that.

      1. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

        He really is a part of the family. We’ve had him longer than we’ve been married.
        I was always a cat person, but I agreed to get him since my husband was so passionate about it. Before then, I never realized how distinct a dog’s personality could be. He’s special, for sure!

    7. Elizabeth West*

      Poor doggie. :(

      Here are some good vibes for him: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    8. SeekingBetter*

      I’m so sorry to hear this – you have my prayers and I hope your doggie will get through this.

    9. Jen*

      We’ve been there, though it’s always been “well we could operate or see if it passes…” And it always passed. But those were hard nights and long walks waiting for the offending item to, ah, emerge.

    10. Dainty Lady*

      Oh no! Oh my goodness. No ideas or anything but very best wishes to you and your dog for a speedy recovery!

  20. Junior Dev*

    Anyone else roller skate?

    I’ve been learning how for the past 6 months and I like it a lot but could never get stopping or sharply turning down. Well, I started taking a class on it last week and apparently my skates have needed adjustment this whole time! I loosened the trucks and it made skating last night SO much better.

    Who else skates?

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I have some rollerblades, but I haven’t used them in ages, and only for a little bit. There’s nowhere to do it around here without going to a skate park (mostly those are for kids and skateboarders). I would love to, though! I need to get some elbow pads. I have a helmet, wrist guards, and knee pads.

  21. RKB*

    I have knots all down the length of my spine. I’ve been using ice and a Theracane and tennis balls every night, but it’s really killing me. I’m pretty sure it’s my backpack.

    Has anyone experienced this before? Was it a sign of a greater problem? No matter what I do I can’t get the trigger points to release. I can’t take muscle relaxants because of other meds I’m on. I’m just ouch all the time.

    1. TL -*

      Switch to a backpack with an internal frame where you can rest the weight on your hips. I don’t know short term, but long term that should do a lot.

    2. Allypopx*

      No advice just commiseration. I have four main tight spots on my back and they’ve been killing me lately. Not sure what’s causing it, and I just got a new office chair which has been helping a bit, but I can’t get them to loosen for the life of me. Boyfriend tries too but hasn’t been able to either.

    3. Junior Dev*

      I actually got one of those rolling backpacks for kids when I was having back problems. It looked kind of silly but it took all pressure off my back.

      Can you take a hot bath or visit a hot tub?

    4. LawCat*

      Deep tissue massage. I have a spot between my shoulder blade and my neck that occasionally gets really tight and knotted (thankfully, with my most recent pillow purchase, it has stopped). I went to a masseuse a few times who worked on it and worked on it. It was painful while she got in there applying heavy pressure (she did this thing where she would use her free hand to tap somewhere else on my body, which helped provide a distraction though). As much as it hurt when she worked on the knot, afterwards, it was soooooooooo much better.

    5. Sled dog mama*

      Not really a solution I’d recommend but I had to have trigger point injections down both sides of my neck and shoulders a few years ago (hurt like hell and I’ve two kids without drugs one of them 10+lbs)
      But basically they inject lidocaine and a steroid into the knot hurts like hell but gives huge relief in about 20 minutes and lasted about 2 weeks for me which was long enough to deal with the underlying problem.
      Another option, if needles aren’t a big deal, is to have trigger point acupuncture and actually having acupuncture weekly for a year is what killed my issues with needles, my acupuncturist was really good and what I’d feel was some pressure then release.

    6. Dear Liza dear liza*

      Another vote for massage, but get one with a therapist who can do trigger point or myofascial release, specifically. A regular Swedish one does nothing when I’m all cattywampus.

    7. Aurion*

      Do you have an actual injury or just knots? Because if it’s the latter, I usually get better results with my spiky foam roller/tennis ball/Theracane after a lot of heat. Warmer muscles are more pliant and the knots seem much less stubborn afterward.

      But if you’ve an actual injury then ignore all that.

    8. Jules the First*

      My physio always starts with what she calls the magic stretch – take a bath towel (not a bath sheet!) or beach towel, fold it in half so you have a long narrow rectangle, and roll it into a sausage shape. Put this on the floor with a couple of pillows at one end and then lie down on it. The top end of the towel roll should be between your shoulder blades, your head and shoulders should be on the pillows (higher than the towel), and the towel roll should end somewhere in your lower back. Pull your knees up like you were doing sit ups and let your arms lie open, palms facing up, at about 45 degrees to your body. Stay put for 10 minutes, looking straight up at the ceiling. Repeat daily. It never feels like it does anything, but it must because after a few days it always seems to resolve whatever’s not working…

  22. bassclefchick*

    One of my best friends is visiting me this weekend! I NEVER get to see her. We are going to see Phantom of the Opera. SO excited. It’s good to have a bit of fun during this stressful time of job hunting.

  23. Allypopx*

    I just went and got my hair cut on my lunch break. I got six inches taken off! I was trying out a new salon near where I work and I’m quite pleased with it, I think it’ll be my new regular place. :)

    1. Cookie D'oh*

      Enjoy your new cut! It’s great when you find a salon you like. It took me a while to find my current place, but I’ve seeing the same person for 10 years.

      1. Allypopx*

        Thank you! I love love loved my old salon but it’s too far out of the way now that I’ve moved, and salon shopping has been a pain. I’m psyched to have found a good place!

    2. MommyMD*

      I just got eight inches cut blunt style long bob and have been getting nothing but compliments! I’m sure you look great. The first time I washed it I felt bald. Short hair don’t care!! :)

  24. Can't Sit Still*

    Has anyone dealt with hyperthyroidism in cats? My 13 year old was diagnosed this week and I am feeling pretty upset about it. I adopted him last year about a month after I put my previous cat to sleep. She had a severe, intractable illness that I dealt with for 4 1/2 years, and ended up putting her to sleep just before her 6th birthday. Prior to her adoption, I lost a pair of cats six months apart, after tending their chronic illnesses for 2 years.

    Honestly, I had hoped for at least a yearlong break before dealing with a chronic illness again. I adopted him knowing he was had periodontal disease and was possibly developing CKD, both diseases I was comfortable with dealing with. I never thought about hyperthyroid. The vet tells me that the hyperthyroid is potentially masking CKD, and we won’t know until the hyperthyroidism is under control. I adopted him knowing that I would realistically only have him for 1-5 years, but the reality is still unpleasant.

    1. Today's anon*

      My previous cat had hyperthyroidism and she lived some 6 years after her diagnosis to be 18 years old. The main thing is to make sure her symptoms are controlled. I had to give her a pill twice a day, that took some time for us to do it in the easiest way possible. It was pretty obvious when her levels became unbalanced because she was starving all the time. So maintaining her weight was pretty important. Kidney issues are a consequence of non-controlled hyperthyroidism so it’s good to get it under control. Good luck!

    2. Hellanon*

      My cat Sam had hyperthyroidism and the meds kept it well controlled. She wasn’t really affected by it much. She had other issues, though.

    3. periwinkle*

      Hyperthyroidism can be controlled successfully. Your vet will work on figuring out the right medication/dosage, and this will probably keep your kitty otherwise in good shape. I’ve had two cats who developed hyperthyroidism around that age and both were successfully treated with standard methimazole tablets (crushed and mixed into tuna because the med is a bit stinky). You’ll have to monitor your cat’s health, but in terms of chronic conditions this one isn’t too bad to manage.

    4. Hrovitnir*

      Yeah, hyperthyroid is much easier to deal with than CKD. With treatment, the issue is resolved – you can only alleviate CKD and slow the degeneration. And while it’s not ideal, with ongoing treatment (vs radioactive iodine) if the lowered blood pressure does lead to kidney issues you can actually titrate the hyperthyroid meds to manage both.

      It sucks having to medicate every day, but hyperthyroid is much nicer to live with than kidney disease (though it’s very individual how that goes – I have seen cats who were getting fluids twice a week go into remission, to our shock (I was a vet nurse for 8 years). That’s not typical but it was pretty amazing.)

      I’m so sorry about your previous cats, that is so hard. We currently have 9 cats and had 11 until the end of last year. I knew adopting elderly cats/an entire litter at once would both lead to heartbreak down the line, but it was still horrific having my two older cats (16 and 18-20) die within a month of each other and one of the younger ones (I have 6 that are 9-10) develop hyperthyroid (we’re talking T4 of 197 nmol/L with >60 being hyperthyroid).

      So I feel you. Our cat is responding well to treatment with no emergence of kidney disease, so that’s nice. I really hope his issues turn out to be manageable and you get a good amount of quality time with him.

      1. mreasy*

        Oh and I will say – my little lady cat was diagnosed with CKD and lived happily & healthfully another four years (to age 18) with Aminavast and fluids. So it can be done!!

    5. Bad Candidate*

      I can’t speak to the hyperthyroidism part, but I can relate to wanting a break from chronic disease in cats. I lost my 17 year old cat in July, I’d had him since he was 6 months old. He had diabetes and CKD. We adopted Ivy in August and she has (we think) food allergies. I love her to pieces, but seriously, two cats with difficult to feed issues. I guess the universe sent her to me knowing that I would take care of her and not give up. Anyway, I understand wanting a break from that!

      1. Lady Julian*

        O lord, cats with food allergies. I’ve wanted a cat for years, and this fall, I finally tried to adopt one. I had it for about a month and it regularly threw up on the carpet once a day, unless I fed it the sensitive stomach diet. I’m not rich enough to keep a cat with food issues, so I have to give her back to the shelter. :( I felt so badly about it – but I figured she’d do better with someone that had a little more experiences and resources to care properly for her.

    6. hermit crab*

      This is super-duper random (I’m not even a cat owner), but my friend is a vet and just posted a new paper about this on facebook. It’s called “Efficacy of Low-dose (2 millicurie) versus Standard-dose (4millicurie) Radioiodine Treatment for Cats with Mild-to-Moderate Hyperthyroidism” by Lucy et al. and it’s open-access if you want to read it. Good luck with your cat!

    7. Clumsy Ninja*

      If medicating your cat is an issue, there’s a transdermal version available from compounding pharmacies. Basically, you apply the medication to the inside of the ear. Can work really well for many cats and can be easier on everyone than giving them pills.

    8. Jenna P*

      My cat has hyperthyroidism. We have him on special prescription thyroid kibble from the vet and it works fine. He is a happy cat and doesn’t have any issues.

    9. Red Reader*

      We took in my parents’ old cat who was 15 and hadn’t been to the vet in ages. She needed thyroid meds — after about a month of that, she actually went downhill overnight and passed in her sleep. The vet’s best guess was that her thyroid issues had actually been keeping chronic kidney problems in check, so when we got the thyroid under control the kidneys were too much for her body to handle. Sorry to be a downer :(

    10. mreasy*

      My cat has hyperthyroidism, and if I could go back in time to get the radioactive iodine treatment rather than treat him with medication upon his initial diagnosis (must be 7 or 8 years now), I would. If you have the financial resources to do this procedure and can find a facility within travel distance that does it, I cannot recommend it enough. Hyperthyroidism can be treated, but IBD is indicated even with successful treatment, and my little prince (now 15) has become quite skinny after years of trying to find him the right diet and probiotic treatment. The medication will work, but if you can do the radioactive iodine treatment (basically, zapping the thyroid with it), please do so for your kitty’s sake! You will safe money & lots of cat discomfort in the long run.

      1. Lucky*

        Yes, my 10 year old cat was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism last year and we went directly to the radioactive iodine treatment. I’m so glad we did it. Her thyroid levels are now back to normal and it’s like nothing was ever wrong!

    11. Meredith*

      Yup! Our late and much missed fuzzy guy had it (he did not die of it). We kept his symptoms in check with 2x/day pill. He ate it in a little wet food or tuna, which worked great. We did have to arrange for pet sitters to do this when we were out of town. I discovered that his pills were a little cheaper at Costco. He lived 4 years after initial diagnosis, but he was older anyway. Good luck!

    12. Misc*

      My previous cat had it, and slowly got worse over time until I figured out the problem, and after a month on medication to be sure that’s what it was, I took her to get the radioactive iodine treatment (a year of medication cost about the same as the treatment anyway) and it worked like magic.

      Her kidneys did start failing noticeably a year after that when she was 16 (hyperthyroidism can mask that), but not much, and it’s something they can usually get an idea of before you do anything. I put her on epakitin (a phosphorus binder) and she was mostly pretty healthy and happy after that, until she went downhill very suddenly and stopped eating enough to get enough medication, at which point there wasn’t anything I could do for her.

  25. TL -*

    I was out at brunch today and there was a family with a toddler (maybe 3) who kept on screaming and pointing at things that she wanted. She wasn’t upset or having a meltdown, she would just shriek at the top of her lungs, point, and her parents would respond, “Shh! Do you want Thing? Let me get you Thing,” and then hand her the thing she was pointing at.
    Normally I try really hard not to judge parents but this little girl shrieked regularly my entire meal because her screaming was instantly rewarded with what she wanted! I wanted to shriek at the parents myself – dear god, if you want a behavior to stop, don’t reward it.

    End of rant, sigh.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Ha, I do too! Though I was in Walmart once right before Christmas, around rush hour, and there was a little boy who was CLEARLY over the entire day, and he just lost it. Poor little thing, you could tell he was tired and probably hungry. His mum tried to shush him but nope, he wasn’t having it. So she took him out.

        Today, there was a toddler at my salon whose mum rushed in, plopped him in a chair, and then ran back out to get the other kids (she forgot the toddler’s coat, she said). He sat there and looked at the door like “OMG where are you going Momma!?” and then started crying (not loudly). I wanted to scoop him up and hug him (he was so cute!) but of course I did not. I talked to him a little and said “Momma will be right back!” He wandered around whining for a bit, but eventually he calmed down. She had her hands full–toddler, a girl about four or five, and another boy about seven or so.

        Sometimes you see people who have to get their errands done and their kids are just not cooperating. I have some sympathy for them–but the ones who ignore the kids while they destroy everything or practically run over you make me want to slap them.

    1. Athena*

      She may have a diagnosis of autism, be nonverbal, and recently learned how to point. If that was the case, the parents were doing a great job reinforcing vocalizing and pointing, and celebrating this major improvement in her ability to communicate her wants and needs. Perhaps they don’t want the behavior to stop. Just offering a different perspective.

      However, other people’s shrieking children are unpleasant. I agree with you on that.

    2. Not A Parent*

      If the toddler screamed and the parent had withheld Thing from the toddler, then the toddler would have screamed longer. This would’ve led to anonymous rants on comment board, as well.
      Would you honestly have been OK with the parent allowing the toddler to continue to shriek until the child finally gave up (it takes toddler a long time to give up) because the mom didn’t want to reward to the child for shrieking?
      Toddlers are going to scream. This parent was probably doing what they thought was best for all involved (the child and the other patrons of the restaurant), even though it’s not what you would’ve done in the same situation.

      1. TL -*

        Of course toddlers scream. Most don’t scream as a substitute for asking for something – I’m completely sympathetic to a toddler meltdown or a baby crying. This was clearly a learned behavior; she gave one shriek, wasn’t upset or crying, and stopped immediately after. Then she repeated it every three-five minutes when she wanted something else. I don’t know if there was a better way to handle it in the moment but she had clearly been (inadvertently, I’m guessing) that shrieking and pointing got her what she wanted.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          When I see a toddler melting down in a restaurant, I usually think “Oh, you got her here about 15 minutes too late- give the poor thing a bread stick or something, for everyone’s sake!” But then if I’ve left it too late for my own blood sugar, my dining out choices are decided by how quickly I am likely to get food to the table.

          1. TL -*

            Haha, yeah! I am usually not super judgey or anything – 95% of the time, they’re honestly trying their best and little kids are hard! Even most tantrums, the parents usually take the kid to the bathroom or outside pretty quickly.
            This just irked me in a way I almost never get annoyed.

      2. Jessesgirl72*

        This idea that toddlers just scream or run around or X and there is nothing that can be done is just untrue.

        Or it’s only partially true. But there are things that can be done. One of them is to not take your toddler that shrieks to restaurants where other people have to listen to her shriek. Or remove her if it starts.

        Giving in when she shrieks because it’s easier just creates a toddler who shrieks even more. The habit breaking needs to start at home, but be reinforced in public by removal, even if it’s not convenient. Don’t make other people suffer for your parenting choices.

        1. Not A Parent*

          I agree that toddler when a toddler screams, you can usually do something. I also understand learned behavior. However, I am 100% positive that someone who witnesses another human (whether toddler or parent) in a restaurant for 1 hour rarely has enough information to judge this person. We don’t know if this was the toddler’s best moment or worst moment. We don’t know if this was the parent’s best moment or worse moment.

          For all we know, the parent just learned some devastating news a few hours ago and didn’t have the emotional energy to do anything other than to submit to toddler’s shrieks. This does not make the person a bad parent. It makes them human. It’s also possible that this particular person is a terrible parent who is going to raise a terrible children. My point is that, generally speaking, someone who witnesses another person in a restaurant for an hour does not have enough information to judge that person as a parent.

          Even TL does not want to be judged by us based on this one post as evidenced by the initial, “I don’t normally do this…” Maybe the parent deserves that same courtesy of not being judged based on one hour of their life either.

          1. Lissa*

            Sure, but when you’re inconvenienced and rant anonymously on a message board, that’s hardly doing anything negative to the parent. I’d agree with you if TL had stormed over to the parent and got on their case, but I don’t really see the problem in being frustrated and grumpy about that without going through every possible potential reason why.

            I often hear it said “nobody has the right to never be annoyed in public” and I agree with that, but I think the opposite is also true — nobody has the right to never be judged silently in public.

          2. TL -*

            Well, I actually said I don’t normally do this to give some context: I’m usually pretty sympathetic to parents with crying children.

            That being said, I think I have the right to be frustrated by parents (there were two here) who are clearly rewarding socially inappropriate and disruptive behavior in their children, especially when it’s disrupting me for an hour.

    3. Kittens*

      I waited tables at fancy brunch spots for a decade, so I’ve witnessed a whole lots of brunch parenting. I love kids and babies, planning on having kids when I’m ready, many of my co-workers were parents, and I have a ton of sympathy for parents who bring their kids into restaurants. There is a huge difference between parents who are trying their level best/their kids still occasionally get vocal and parents who are straight up letting their kids get away with really unacceptable stuff. I would have been peeved if I were you!

      1. TL -*

        Yeah, I don’t think the parents were realizing what they were doing – they clearly did not like the behavior and were saying, shh! or no screaming, please, but weren’t realizing that they were actively rewarding the screaming.

        1. Overeducated*

          Or they realized it but thought it was the best they could do in the moment to minimize annoyance to others. I don’t take my toddler out much because he is *incredibly* high energy and disruptive, has been since 6 months old. You can teach kids some things and reinforce good behavior, but seeing how my friends’ kids compare with similar parenting methods, innate personality makes a bigger differencr than i could have believed. On the very, very few occasions when we think “ok, this seems like a good time to try again,” people probably think our coping method’s are spoiling him aND teaching bad habits too!

          That’s not to say it’s not annoying. We’be decided best method is just…staying home and hosting brunch.

          1. TL -*

            Ha, maybe! This was clearly a learned behavior but I’m guessing stopping the behavior is going to be a lot worse than teaching it was.
            I know kids vary a lot (I was a demon child myself) – my cousin’s kids are pure angel baby, cheerful and average, and grudge-holding, defiant Toddler (he’s amazing fun, but definitely the most challenging of the lovebugs.) They’re only 2-3 years apart, so it’s actually pretty funny – her first was the angel baby so the next two were a bit of a shock, I think.

    1. New Bee*

      Happy birthday! It’s my dad’s birthday too–he passed away 5 years ago, so it’s bittersweet.

  26. Junior Dev*

    I’m spending way too much money on takeout food lately. I try doing weekend meal prep but half the time the food doesn’t come out great and I don’t want to eat it. Or I’ll be doing something after work (like going to the gym or roller skating) and I won’t have brought dinner and I’ll drop another $8-$12 on Chinese takeout or a burrito or whatever.

    It’s not to the point where I can’t pay rent or anything but I need to pay down some debt from when I was unemployed and I’d like to buy a new laptop, but it’s never gonna happen if I keep spending hundreds of dollars a month on eating out.

    I had “you need a budget” for a while and it is helpful but my phone is too old to run the app so I only looked at it once a week.

    How do I do this? I know a big part of the answer is “make better choices” but how do I set myself up to do that in advance so I’m not giving in when I’m exhausted by work and can’t think straight?

    1. Allypopx*

      For when you’re home, I’ve found getting perishable food to be helpful. Like there are nights where I’d rather just order chinese food and be done with it but I know I have veggies that are about to go bad so I suck it up and make some a salad or a stir fry or something easy and use them up. I also find that forces me to meal plan a little bit because I need to budget for varying shelf lifes and expiration dates and it sort of turns into a schedule.

      I also keep food in my desk at work (a couple cans of soup, packets of tuna, crackers, chex mix) mostly for if I forget lunch but if I know I’m going out I can also eat something quickly before I leave and that might either replace dinner or hold me off long enough to get home and eat my groceries.

      You could also limit yourself to one take out night a week, so it can be any night of the week but once you pick it you can’t let yourself buy dinner out until the following week.

      Good luck! I went through this hardcore, but since I’ve changed my habits my budget is SO much happier. It’s crazy how easy it is to spend so much money on food.

      1. AliceBD*

        And see, I was going to say make sure NOT to get perishable food! I am super lazy and never want to make things, but I rarely eat out when it is not a social event with friends. (Excepts are if I’m sick or injured.) Instead, I get lots of frozen food or food that is good for a while, like bread and cheese to make a toasted cheese sandwich. Or premade salads from Trader Joe’s (the one perishable thing I get regularly, because it requires no effort from me). Or frozen veggies from Target — I got through a bag of those a day usually. Also I am satisfied with sandwiches a lot, which is great for things like eating something before you go do something at after work, because they keep well and are quick to make and you don’t need a microwave.

        1. Allypopx*

          Ha, fair enough. I definitely try to keep quick things on hand too (I am never without a frozen pizza) and we freeze a bunch of meat and leftovers, but I find having some things I *need* to use very motivating. Different things work for everyone!

    2. FD*

      Your willpower’s going to be depleted by the end of the day so you can’t plan on your ability to make good choices then. Can you pack snacks and keep them in your car for those situations? Or can you avoid taking your credit card with you and use gift cards to cover things like gas, etc?

      1. Junior Dev*

        That’s a good idea. I can also stick some cash in my car and earmark it for a certain purpose, by putting it in an envelope with “gas” written on it.

    3. TL -*

      Can you buy some easily prepped food? Some frozen meals and prepped foods might be worthwhile while you learn to cook better. Cheaper than takeout but not too much effort.

      1. Cookie D'oh*

        I was going to suggest the same thing. Not sure if it’s in your budget, but Trader Joe’s is supposed to have good pre-made food.

        I really like the blog Budget Bytes for recipe ideas.

        1. Junior Dev*

          I like getting TJ’s frozen veggies and putting them in otherwise homemade things. I don’t know how much I’d actually save by buying prepared grocery store food instead of restaurant food, but I’ll look into it.

        2. Hellanon*

          I am generally pretty good about a) cooking at home and b) making healthy choices when I do, but I find that having a few treats around makes it easier to not stop for takeout. So I buy a couple of frozen pizzas, keep the makings for pasta carbonara around, buy frozen mac & cheese… like FD says above, it’s trying to make that decision when you’re tired that’s the killer. If you’re prepared, both with the stuff you should eat and with the stuff you actually want to eat, stopping for takeout makes less sense in the moment & is easier to avoid.

          1. WellRed*

            Totally agree to this. I eat very healthy but sometimes you just gotta throw a frozen pizza in the oven.

            1. Jessesgirl72*

              And if you live in an area with Aldi, their $2-$3 frozen pizzas are surprisingly good. For real- and I’m a pizza snob and hate most frozen pizza.

              We also keep bags of frozen ravioli around for “emergencies”- just boil a pot of water and heat up some canned sauce in the microwave.

                1. Jessesgirl72*

                  We keep canned mushrooms (in case we’re out of fresh in an emergency!) and sliced olives for the same reason.

                  But it’s still amazing to me that something that cheap is better than most of the frozen pizzas I’ve eaten, that cost a lot more.

        3. Junior Dev*

          Also, the funny thing is I am pretty good at cooking in other contexts but I think I try too hard to make food that is cheap and healthy and it all comes out wrong. Like, I love throwing dinner parties and I always cook for family holidays. But maybe I’ll pretend i am doing one of those things and see how it goes. Thanksgiving in February!

          1. Jessesgirl72*

            We have a turkey sitting in brine as I type this, that’s going in the smoker tomorrow. ;)

      2. INTP*

        I came here with the same suggestion. It’s a cliche, but I like to think “Don’t let Perfect be the enemy of Good.” (I tend to have a hard time allowing myself to plan for “good enough” when perfect is still a possibility – I feel lazy, say, buying cans of beans when I know dried are cheaper – but it saves money and junk food consumption in the long run.)

        Here are some specific ideas:
        -Keep a couple of freezer meals at work to avoid eating out after work.
        -Buy things that remove steps from the process – like pre-chopped veggies and fruits (you can even buy ones that are already mixed for specific uses like stir-fries), premade sauces (not just pasta sauce, you can buy stir-fry sauces, tikka masala sauces, curry sauce, and many others that taste decent), precooked proteins like boiled eggs or the cooked lentils at Trader Joe’s, etc.
        -Keep frozen veggies on hand all the time, they’re cheap and they are already washed and usually chopped

        None of these are as cheap or healthy as cooking everything you eat from scratch but they’re all cheaper and healthier than eating out. I agree that Trader Joe’s is the best place to look for stuff like that but most grocery stores will have things that help you out.

        1. Natalie*

          I have to defend the healthiness of frozen vegetables – they are super healthy! These days they are flash frozen practically immediately after they are picked, which means in many cases they’re fresher than the raw vegetables in the supermarket.

          1. Chocolate Teapot*

            And frozen vegetables often work out cheaper than fresh ones. (Except frozen carrots – Yuk!)

            My freezer is loaded up with fish (salmon, tuna and fishfingers), oven chips, sliced potatoes, peas, green beans, courgettes and pizzas, so I always have something in.

    4. Mazzy*

      Honestly, I wouldn’t kill myself trying to cook every night if you’re only spending $8-$12 on take out. Depending on what you cook, your cost per meal can easily go way over that amount, unless you’re cooking really simple meals like pasta + sauce or plain chicken and rice, but then you’re giving up variety in your diet. Or you need to cook in bulk, but then you need to eat the same thing for four days in a row or be willing to freeze stuff and eat defrosted food, which is never as good as the stuff when it is fresh. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cooked to “save money,” to end up throwing out a third of it at the end of the week because I literally couldn’t eat it all, or I was sick of eating the same thing, or woke up late and didn’t have time to pack stuff in the morning. Now I cook about 2 days per week, so eat out maybe 3, and that is a good balance. But I do warn you that some recipes are expensive. I can easily spend $40 on what looks like a simple meal – a meat with a few sides.

      1. oh my...*

        Agree completely! I’ve lived alone forever and have just given up on trying to save money with food. I use coupons at restaurants and cook when I want to try a recipe, but stores are designed for large families. There isn’t really any price difference between me cooking from scratch and me ordering takeout.

        1. Dan*

          Same. I like to cook (er, eat) and cooking for one is so inefficient. You might be able to cut the protein in half easily, but you’re still buying the extra canned stuff, produce, herbs, and what not.

          At only $8-$13 a meal, my advice to OP is to budget for it. You can eat cheaper, but it’s going to get monotonous and not all that healthy.

          1. Mazzy*

            I know…and one herb needed for a recipe that you don’t have will quickly add $4 to the cost. Then if you need to use a vegetable that is out of season and thus expensive, or you want to use cheese that is not Kraft, it can be up to $8 a bar…..

            But since I’ve been so negative, I’ll say one combo that is really cheap is potatoes / a veggie (usually brocoli or spinach) and chicken. I like to roast the potatoes and roast the chicken (with skin still on is the best) separately with a can of chicken broth and simple spices, usually just pepper and a tab of salt, and fry the brocoli in a little butter on low heat. A meal for 4 or for one for 4 days will come to less than $20. The gravy really flavors everything else. And obviously potatoes are about the cheapest veggie there is. Only caveat is that roasted potatoes don’t taste as great on the second day. To circumvent do mashed. And you don’t need to add all the cream or milk to do mashed, like your grandmother did. I just add a little butter and salt to a pot and lightly mash the potatoes, not to much though. I think they taste really good that way instead of beating them to a pulpy cream. And they last longer and taste good on day 2 and 3.

            When I was single and living alone I used to have issues cooking certain items like chili or eggplant parmesan. Even with a healthy digestive track, I just couldn’t eat so much tomatoes for so many days in a row to make it worth the effort and cost.

      2. Lady Julian*

        Actually, I’m single & probably spend no more than $1-3 on good meals. I do eat nearly entirely vegetarian, which cuts back on my costs, and yes, stores are set up for families, which makes things difficult. But it’s not a lost cause!

        The thing is, you can’t eat what families eat. I never have the kinds of things my mom made when I was growing up – casseroles, meatloaf, shepherd’s pie, etc. I make & eat things that can be consumed in single servings (salads, sandwiches, eggs & potatoes) or easily frozen (lentil dal, soups, etc). Also, some things will last a good long while in the refrigerator. Apples and squash can be cut in half & stay in the freezer for a long time indeed!

        1. Mazzy*

          What’s an example of a meal you can do for so cheap? I always have issues with salads. By the time I buy the veggies I want and dressing and croutons it’s $30 for a salad! And I never finish the lettuce. So much easier to just buy one for $8 somewhere.

          1. Lady Julian*

            Actually, tonight I had salad. I included 1/2 cup rice, 1/2 cup chopped spinach, 1/2 apple, handful craisins & nuts, chickpeas, and shredded cheese. All told, the ingredients probably cost $3-4 at the most? With salads, a few tricks:
            * Don’t buy bagged lettuce or really any lettuce. Heartier greens last longer. I especially like to wash the greens, then layer them in a Tupperware with a paper towel to keep them dry. The spinach has been in my fridge more than a week and is still okay.
            * Emphasize grains & pulses as the salad base, which are very cheap & can be made in very small quantities. They also do not go bad the way that greens do.
            * I make my own dressing – half olive oil, half vinegar, a little Dijon mustard and a little honey, all shaken together. This is probably cheaper than buying dressing. Alternatively, you can just squeeze a lemon over the salad and that also works as a dressing – it moistens the salad and adds a little flavor but is also cheap. (I traveled in Argentina several years ago & this is how the people I met there dressed their salads; that’s what I picked up from them.)
            * I also use nuts instead of croutons, which probably keep longer and fewer go a long way.

            That said, especially in the winter, I don’t have salads that often, because yeah, sometimes it does feel like the ingredients go bad faster than I want them to.

            As far as other things I eat: I eat a lot of soups & stews, which can be made and then frozen in individual portions, so I don’t have to eat the same thing four days in a row. I had a sausage chickpea soup in my fridge earlier this week, along with a squash & hominy stew, butternut squash chili, and some lentil dal.

            I eat a lot of lentils in general, since they’re super cheap and full of protein and fiber and can be cooked in single-serving portions. If lentils alone are too boring, it’s easy to toss some vegetables in to cook with them (most recently, I did green pepper), or top the lentils with an egg, or stir in some hearty greens like spinach once the lentils are cooked. I made a great pumpkin lentil stew in December by browning the pumpkin with onion and spices on the bottom of a pan, then adding the lentils & broth and letting the liquid reduce. I probably have lentils in some form once or twice a week.

            Potatoes are great too. I like to roast (or boil, then hash) a sweet potato, then top it with a fried egg & Sriracha; if that’s not enough, adding in a little chicken or serving the potato & egg alongside some toast makes it a good meal. I do this a lot during the winter.

            Eggs are great. I like scrambled eggs for supper (with & without veggies), and in the summertime, I eat a lot of egg salad sandwiches. Shakshuka can be made in single-serving portions and is very filling indeed.

            Two more notes: Diced tomatoes are included in a lot of stovetop recipes, and if you don’t already know, you can freeze tomatoes! I buy a TON in the summer, divvy them up into 1-cup portions, then freeze them and only use what I need for a recipe. You could of course do the same with canned tomatoes.

            Also, you probably know this, but it’s not necessary to follow most recipes precisely. For example, I recently made a lentil dal with hearty greens (spinach greens). The recipe called for the greens to be wilted with diced tomatoes and tomato paste, which I didn’t really want to use at that time; so I simply wound up making the dal, wilting the spinach in a pan on its own with a little butter, then stirring the spinach into the dal. Worked like a charm. The more you cook, the easier it will be to spot the ingredients that don’t really need to be there.

            1. Mazzy*

              Thanks for the advice, I needed help with salads! I know I’m doing something wrong when they cost me $30! About the washing the greens though, do you leave them out to dry before you put them away? It’s always been a conondrum for me. I stopped washing lettuce, even though I know that is wrong, because I couldn’t wait hours for it to dry and didn’t want a watery salad and also didn’t want it to get moldy or whatever in the fridge.

              1. Lady Julian*

                Oh, great question! I use a salad spinner to get the excess moisture off, then (as I mentioned) layer them between paper towels (this will wick away a little more moisture). If you don’t own a salad spinner, you can pat them dry with a dish cloth; don’t worry too much about having them perfectly dry, as the paper towels will prevent them from being soggy, slimy, and moldy.

        2. INTP*

          My meals are a bit pricier, but I’m also single and I find cooking much, much cheaper than eating out – certainly much less than $8-10/meal!

          My main key is that I eat all of my leftovers, which some people seem to be unwilling to do. It doesn’t really bother me to eat the same thing a few times in a week as long as I mix up what I’m cooking every week – I’d rather have leftovers from dinner for lunch than sandwiches and salads. I might cook a couple of “family” style entrees during the week, like enchiladas or a pasta dish or a quinoa-based casserole, and then have leftovers of those for lunches, and dinner is roasted veggies that I’ve pre-cooked plus something quick like a baked potato or omelette or stir fry or veggie burger (homemade in large batches and frozen) or soup. I freeze things when I make more than I’ll eat in a week, but since I’m cooking vegetarian and mostly vegan food, most things stay good for at least a week which gives me plenty of time to eat it.

          The second key is that I’m pretty cooking-literate so I know what I can omit and substitute and where to find a decent seasonal recipe, so I’m not going to go broke following a recipe to the letter. When a recipe calls for a tiny amount of some fresh herb, chances are you can use a different herb or use dried, or plan your recipes so that you use the rest later. If twelve spices are listed, you can probably omit a few of them or just buy a spice mix like a curry powder or jerk powder. When a pricey cheese is called for, there is a cheaper cheese that will suffice. If your soup calls for kale but collards are on sale, you can use the collards if you boil them a little longer. Before you go broke following a recipe or deem it too expensive, google whatever ingredients are tripping you up, or look for a different one that calls for other things. It won’t taste like it just came from a restaurant, but it will still be decent.

          1. Rosemary*

            I think frozen fruits/veggies generally get mushy after they’re thawed – so it’s fine if you’re going to be cooking them in a way were they’d get mushy anyways, but a thawed apple won’t be like a raw apple at all. I believe the water in them expands when frozen, and basically destroys the plants’ cellular structure. Plants with lower water content (potatoes, bananas) will freeze better then plants with higher water content (leafy greens, most fruit).

    5. LawCat*

      How about prep in the morning and use a slow cooker? Dinner is done already by the time you get home.

      I’ve become a big fan of pressure cooking as well. You can get a electric pressure cookers that double as slow cookers. Pressure cooking occurs quickly and there are recipes online for one pot meals. For nights that you’ll be home late, prep in the morning and slow cook. For nights you won’t be home late, prep at night and pressure cook.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        I have a friend who is using her slow cooker, but doesn’t have time to prep in the mornings, so she uses “dump” slow cooker meals- does the prep on the weekends, freezes it into bags, and then you dump the bag in the cooker in the morning. If you google “dump slow cooker” you get a lot of results.

    6. Delta Delta*

      I love setting achievable goals. It makes me feel successful. So, for something like this, I might set a goal of no takeout for 1 week and set a reward at the end. If I don’t make it, no reward. Then it sort of becomes a game where I’m competing against myself to do another goal. Might be a way for you too!

    7. Anonyby*

      I’m sorry, I don’t have much great advice. I do have lots of sympathy, though! I’m going through something similar. Work exploded on me last year and I just didn’t have the energy to make even simple things at home, so I started running through drive-thrus every night. My health and my wallet did not thank me.

      I’m trying to switch to eating more at home, but I don’t have much more energy leftover from work. I’ve been eating a lot more frozen meals, or canned things. It still can add up, but a $5-6 frozen meal is still cheaper than a $10 drive thru order! And it’s paying off–yesterday I managed to actually COOK a meal for the first time in a year+! And I’ve got two more meals from that to eat next week.

    8. tigerStripes*

      Can you try stuff that’s easy to cook? Soup where you just have to heat it up on the stove is fairly quick to make and a lot cheaper than eating ou.

    9. Bananistan*

      I’d recommend starting by trying to find a slightly cheaper option instead of a super cheap option. Frozen dinners like other people suggested are good. Even just committing to choosing the $8 take out instead of the $12 take out.

      Also, try cooking in advance and freezing half of what you make (in individual serving containers). Save it for a week or two later. That way you won’t get sick of eating the same thing every day!

      1. Bananistan*

        Oh also, idk if this is workable for you or not, but you might want to shift your food schedule a bit. On days when I’m busy after work, I usually eat a lot during the day (big lunch + snacks) and then just have a snack or a bowl of cereal for dinner. That way I only have to worry about cooking one real meal per day, and I don’t need takeout because I can easily bring snacks from home.

    10. Tris Prior*

      I have to literally force myself to grocery shop (which completely SUCKS in the winter when you don’t have a car; I just came back from the food store and am super cranky) and to cook at home. I don’t like to cook and if I had my wayI would eat out every meal, but my budget doesn’t allow for it.

      If I don’t have food already made and ready to eat on work nights, then I’m too tired and hangry to make good choices. So I force myself to do a massive crockpot meal every weekend, and usually do at least one other dish as well, so I’ve got enough to carry myself through the week. This cuts significantly into my weekend free time and I really hate that, but otherwise I find myself ordering in crap midweek and I’m really working hard at avoiding that for money reasons. I try to make a large batch of whatever it is. I usually don’t mind eating the same things all week as long as they came out ok. If I get tired of it, then I portion it out and freeze it, to eat when I’m not tired of it any more.

      Having quick stuff to grab for when I really don’t feel like eating leftovers again is helpful too. Like a frozen pizza or some boca burgers or those Indian food in a pouch things that cost around $3. Still cheaper than eating out, but don’t involve work.

      I think the other part of it is being really honest about what you’re going to eat. I’ve recently had a few cooking fails that I tried to make myself force down, but ultimately gave up and threw it out and ordered in. Inevitably this was a dish that’s super healthy and doesn’t contain stuff that’s bad for you (like delicious, delicious cheese). Or had something in it that I know I don’t like, but feel like I am supposed to eat (kale, I am looking at you.)

    11. British Sorry*

      If there’s one night a week that’s really bad, let it go. Plan to have a takeaway that night every week. Let go of those idealised perfect choices you “should” make and work with your instincts and needs.

      I hate batch cooking. I much prefer sequential cooking where I plan to use yesterdays’ leftovers, plus a change to make a new meal. So pasta arrabiata one day, gets tuna added for tuna pasta, then I add sweetcorn & cheese on top and bake it. Or I’ll change the texture: meat and two veg, add stock to make a casserole, and then blend the leftovers to make a soup for lunch. All simple foods, easy recipes, because I’m not a very good cook. And some nights that means cheese on toast, or a bowl of cereal

    12. Kj*

      I use a Crockpot. Seriously, get a small crockpot and find 2-4 recipes you like and that are low prep. Husband and I are most fond of our crockpot teriyaki: .5 c soy sauce, 3 tbsp brown sugar, cayenne and garlic to taste, over 8 de-skinned drumsticks. Cook for 8 hours on low. Make some 20 minute rice and steam veggies. That is all. The leftovers are tasty and very fast. We use our crockpot about 1x/week, sometime more.

      Scrambled eggs are another go-to. Cheap, fast, easy.

      Having a number of options you can make in your sleep and make quickly increases the likelyhood that you won’t want to order out.

      I also wonder if the recipes you try are things you like or things you think you should like. I often think “I will love this!” when looking at a recipe, then remember I don’t like duck, even if it looks pretty and sounds yummy on the page. I won’t eat it- but I like to think I’m the kind of person who likes duck.

    13. Raia*

      Is it worth saving the money on dining out to put towards debt, or a newer phone that YNAB works on? I find eating out to be a bad cycle to put me and my money in. If you start the month with $150 for food and use $8-$10 daily for dinner, you’ll run out of the money in less than two weeks, whereas $100 of groceries should last 1 person the whole month for all meals. And since you’re just starting to build the habit I would stick with recipes and foods you know, unless new recipes makes you want to run home and cook. Good luck and hope this helps!

      1. Melody Pond*

        I’m super interested to know how you’d make $100 last a whole month on groceries for one person. What kinds of things would you buy/eat on that budget?

        Maybe it’s a cost of living thing, but in trying to eat fairly healthy (aiming for decent quality meats and veggies, limiting gluten-y things), Mr. Pond and I spend quite a bit more than that on groceries. Like… $500+ per month.

        1. Aurora Leigh*

          I know Aldi was mentioned above, but if you have one near you, try shopping there!

          Living alone, I spend about $50/month on groceries, but the only meat I buy is chicken or fish.

        2. Raia*

          Oops, meant to say $150 total for groceries at home, not the $100. I don’t really care that much/actively have a lot of emotion about food. For breakfast, I always have the same coffee with creamer and Greek gods strawberry yogurt topped with TJ granola which totals $40 for the month. Lunch at work is $1 frozen sandwiches and a fruit cup as snack, weekends is scrambled eggs and cheese or something equally easy and cheap, so about the same $40. That leaves $70 to make dinners for the month ($2.50 or less each dinner) which mean eggs, rice, little to no meat, sale veggies, etc. I’m still young so I’ve prioritized paying my student loan debt over eating food that is exciting or exactly to my taste for now. Sounds like I’ve got to get to Aurora Leigh’s level though – $50 is amazing, how do you do that?

    14. Gala apple*

      I’ve been here often; it’s an on-going struggle.

      A few things that work for me:
      – when I’m driving home from work and have the desire to eat out; I ask myself: what are my options? Just reviewing my options helps me see what I can choose to do and keep my goals in mind.
      – on days when I have a lot going on after work and I know that I’d use that as a reason to eat out, I pack my dinner (in addition to lunch)
      – I tell everyone I’m doing a frugal day /week/ month so I have social accountability
      – I meal prep at the start of the week. Bit every meal, because I found sometimes my plans changed and I wouldn’t need to pack Thursday lunch etc. but this way there was food in the fridge ready to eat
      – I read about frugality and avoid commercialism. Mindset shift! Highly suggest the frugalwoods blog.
      – I have a couple meals I can make for dinner that I know are tastier than anything I’ll eat out, and I really look forward to going home and eating them. Looking at you, cashew cream tomato broccoli pasta.

    15. Vancouver Reader*

      Like others have recommended, a slow cooker is great if you can get yourself to prep the night before, turn it on in the morning and it’s ready when you get home. Also on the advice of readers here, I bought an Instant Pot and being able to pressure cook saves a lot of time on cooking. Maybe if you have other single friends, you can get together and do a meal exchange, kinda like a cookie exchange but with meals instead?

  27. Charlie Q*

    My parents had to put one of our kitties down today.

    We had four — two older (about 16) and two younger (about 8-9) — until last year. Two pairs of litter mates. Then last January, Stella, one of our younger ones, died from a blood clot problem. She’d gotten the clot in October, then healed surprisingly quickly, but it came back last January. Yesterday, her brother Percy had what looked like the same issue. Turns out his was a lot worse, so they put him down this morning.

    I’m having a really hard time with the fact that they died so young. Our 16 year old cats are just fine, but my babies are gone.

    Anyway, I’m just sad today.

    1. Hrovitnir*

      Oh no, that can be awful (not that there’s a good way for your pets to die). I’m so sorry for your loss.

      In case no one has told you, you’re allowed to be sad, possibly for a long time. It is hard. (Hopefully no one has said anything awful to you, but lack of empathy for loss of pets is way too prevalent.)

    2. Lady Julian*

      Oh, I’m sorry! My parents got two kittens over the summer, and then by November, they’d both been hit by cars. I know exactly how hard this is.

  28. Caledonia*

    What TV episodes do you never re-watch even though you love the series?

    For me, it would be the Lucy-Carter incident in ER, mid way through Season 6. I just can’t, it’s too awful. (I can just about watch Dr Greene’s last episodes though)

    1. Junior Dev*

      I’ve watched all of Avatar: the Last Airbender and Legend of Korra at least 4 times. But I couldn’t get through the “recap” episode of the last season of Korra even once. Apparently it’s a pretty common anime thing, but they just replayed clips from earlier episodes as “flashbacks” with character’s commentary on them. I couldn’t finish it, I found it so grating.

    2. LawCat*

      For how sad, I don’t think I could do either of those episodes of ER.

      Also for how sad, MASH… the episode when Henry Blake dies, the final episode until after Hawkeye leaves the mental hospital, and the episode where Margaret breaks down when a little dog gets run over. Crap, I’m getting teary now just thinking these episodes. Crap, and then there was the one where they were trying to keep the solider alive until Dec. 26 nit because there was any hope for him, but so his family wouldn’t have to remember Christmas as the day he died. In reality, I’ll probably watch these again some time. The messages of the show are too important not to watch.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I remember the one where Blake died. I did not find Blake as a super likable character, he was okay but then when he died like that, it was … ugh…..
        The producers were making a point. And they did it successfully.

      2. printrovert*

        I *love* MASH. And as heart-wrenching as some episodes can be, I think they are worth revisiting.

        1. But I Am Anon*

          The ER episode and the MASH episode mentioned previously are burned on my brain (did not see Carter-Lucy incident coming at all and it was so shocking, and tearing up now thinking of Buffy, OMG).
          Loved, loved loved Gossip Girl but no desire to re-watch any of it. Been there, done that.
          I really miss Television Without Pity, they enhanced the whole TV viewing experience.

          1. Cruciatus*

            Previously.tv has some people from TWoP. I’m mostly in it for the forums but they do recaps and while it’s not quite the same, it’s the best replacement I’ve found.

    3. Hattie McDoogal*

      I’m pretty much always re-watching some season of 30 Rock but I hate and refuse to re-watch the 3rd season episode “Flu Season” – it has so many inaccuracies about vaccines and influenza in it that I just end up angrily nitpicking if I try to watch it, and Liz is even more of a jerk than usual to boot.

      I will also generally skip any episode from the first season of either Star Trek: The Next Generation or The Simpsons.

    4. printrovert*

      There is a Jessica Jones episode–I can’t remember which one–that is just too bloody for me. I barely made it through the first watch and will probably never watch it again.

    5. Tris Prior*

      “The Body,” Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Great episode. So well done. But, can never watch it again.

      A few X-files episodes also come to mind, though I don’t know episode titles:
      – the one with the inbred family living in the floorboards
      – the one where the guy dates overweight women and then eats their fat
      – the one where Dr. Romano eats people’s cancer

      1. Tris Prior*

        Oh, and the X-files where that dude gives people lobotomies through their eye sockets. Ewwww.

      2. Drago cucina*

        Home on the X Files was my immediate thought. Ironically it was the first episode I ever watched, alone, in a hotel room. It’s amazing I ever watched another episode.

      3. SadieMae*

        The one with the inbred family…(internal screaming forever) Never, ever watching that one again. That was messed up.

      4. MommyMD*

        Omg. The family living in the floor boards and the hillbilly mom under the bed haunts me to this day. Wish I had never seen it. Way too gross and disturbing.

        1. Drago cucina*

          This episode and the canibals on Supernatural where it’s just the people. Scariest episodes ever.

    6. EvilQueenRegina*

      The Lost episode where Sayid, Jin and Sun die, the Liz Forbes brain tumour storyline on The Vampire Diaries, the LSD nonsense on Fringe where William Bell was in Olivia’s head, and that episode of Supernatural where Dean talks to a dog and someone eats a cat. Possibly the scene in Gotham where Fish scoops her eye out.

    7. Allie*

      I’ve never rewatched the episode of Doctor Who where Rory and Amy die. Especially since it literally came the episode after you met Rory’s adorable Dad. And the logic of the episode was so inconsistent. If you’re going to kill off two major characters, at least do it decently.

      1. Lord of the Ringbinders*

        It’s not right after you meet Rory’s dad! He was on the ship with the dinosaurs, remember?

        1. Jules the First*

          Dinosaurs! On a spaceship!

          (I love that episode…it’s like all my eight year old self’s favourite things rolled into one episode)

    8. Not Karen*

      Psych, the Ying/Yang episodes and Tuesday the 17th. They’re too scary for me. (Yes, I have a low threshold for horror.) Also the last two seasons. Like WTF.

      1. Jenbug*

        omg ~soulmates~

        my sister makes fun of me for not being able to watch Tuesday the 17th but it seriously freaks me out.

    9. all aboard the anon train*

      “Jurassic Bark” from Futurama. I never thought an animated show would make me cry so much, but that episode broke my heart and I don’t think I could handle watching it again.

      1. Hattie McDoogal*

        Futurama has a surprisingly high number of episodes that make me cry – “Jurassic Bark”, “Luck of the Fryrish”, “Leela’s Homeworld”, and from the Comedy Central run, “Game of Tones”.

        1. all aboard the anon train*

          Oh, yes, “Luck of the Fryish” always gets me too. I miss that show. I’m going to have to marathon it again soon.

      2. Temperance*

        I absolutely wept the first time I saw that episode. Just the juxtaposition of Fry agreeing not to clone the dog because Seymour had so many good years after he was frozen and the reality that the poor dog died waiting for him to come back …. ack.

        My youngest sister couldn’t figure out why it was “so sad” to the rest of us. I think she’s a monster.

    10. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

      I LOATHE the musical episodes of Grey’s Anatomy. They make me want to peel the skin off my face. Like the one where Callie and Arizona are in the car accident.. just horrendous.

        1. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

          I just don’t understand the thought process behind all that.. it’s like, WHYYYY?!?!

    11. Elkay*

      I’d forgotten all about that episode of ER with Lucy and Carter. I don’t think I have any “can’t watch” episodes of anything. I can’t watch Twin Peaks after dark but that’s because I’m a giant wimp.

    12. Emilia Bedelia*

      The Scott’s Tots episode of the Office…. it’s just TOO much cringing. And so heartbreaking for the kids.

      1. bridget*

        That’s the episode I came here to mention. I don’t think I made it through the whole episode even when it first ran; to this day I choose to believe there was some convenient thing that happened so all those kids got their college paid for.

        Also, I skip the live shows of 30 Rock. I just cannot get into the SNL style. It’s not nearly as funny to me as a multi-cam sitcom, even with the same writing.

    13. Elizabeth West*

      I missed the actual attack on ER and then I couldn’t find it again and they didn’t rerun it! But I saw the ep where she died and it made me bawl.

      I’m pretty much not bothered; I’ll watch something again even if it’s traumatic, if it’s good. The only things I don’t like to re-watch are episodes I found boring or annoying. Roseanne is a good example; I love the series until about the time Darlene and David starts happening, and then I get bored. Plus Roseanne’s character got really snappish and awful, and it wasn’t funny until they opened the loose meat restaurant, and then it picked up a bit. The last season was garbage and I never watch it.

    14. Dear Liza dear liza*

      I only watch the Sorkin years of The West Wing, and pretend the others didn’t happen. I also stop Gilmore Girls when Rory goes to Yale.

    15. So Very Anonymous*

      I wouldn’t say I’m a huge Doctor Who fan, but I would not be able to watch the WW2-gas-mask episodes again… for some reason those were incredibly nightmare-inducing for me.

      1. Melody Pond*

        Yeah, I wasn’t a fan of that episode either and will never watch it again.

        Although I do LOVE how many times Doctor Who has referenced itself in relation to that episode. The two instances I’m able to recall are, 1) one of the first ever episodes with the Sontarans, where everyone has gas masks on, and David Tennant goes “Are you my mummy?” to some military guy, and 2) in Capaldi’s first season, where the mummy on the train is trying to kill him, and Capaldi asks the mummy the same question. :D

    16. SadieMae*

      I watched the “Love’s Labour Lost” episode of ER, the one where the woman’s at-first-normal labor goes horribly, excruciatingly wrong and then she dies in childbirth…when I was newly pregnant with my first child.

      Yeah, that was a bad idea.

      1. So Very Anonymous*

        Oh, yes, that one. I was in a women’s studies class then and there was a lot of talk about that episode. I remember wanting to call a friend who was pregnant to tell her to TURN IT OFF if she was watching it.

      2. MsChanandlerBong*

        Sounds like what happened to me when I read Robin Cook’s “Coma” the night before I had surgery. For those who don’t know, “Coma” is about a plot to take perfectly healthy patients and make them brain-dead so that their organs can be harvested and sold on the black market. Not the type of book you want to read before you have anesthesia.

    17. Sami*

      Completely agree on the Lucy and Carter episode of ER. That was terribly traumatic. I remember afterwards I was so upset that I called a friend (when it was really too late) and had a hard time going to sleep.

    18. katamia*

      Jurassic Bark from Futurama and Scott’s Tots from The Office are the big ones. I also refuse to accept that a decent chunk of Xena: Warrior Princess (a whole season plus a few episodes) happened.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Oh, yeah — Scott’s Tots! I knew there was one other episode of The Office, besides The Chair Model, that we hate, but I couldn’t remember which one.

      1. Jerry Vandesic*

        Best piece of television ever, in my mind. Makes me cry every time, but it is the best of what SF can be, taking you to a place that is out of this world and showing us things we wouldn’t otherwise be able to see.

    19. Mallory Janis Ian*

      My husband and I both hate ‘The Chair Model’ episode of ‘The Office’, in which Michael becomes fixated on a model in the office furniture catalog and thinks he’s in love with her. We’ve watched The Office from beginning to end more times than I care to admit, but we always skip over that episode.

    1. Red*

      BEST: Finally applied to college! I had wanted to do it for a while, but I was busy and it was stressful so I didn’t… but I finally did it! Hopefully I get in :)

      WORST: I work in a team of 4 people, and Monday was the only day this week that I actually had all 3 coworkers there with me. We work in a job where coverage is everything, so it really was a pain.

    2. Hrovitnir*

      I like these! I don’t have anything super dramatic either way, but:

      BEST: Got to spend a proper half-day in the lab where I’m doing a project but haven’t been able to be fully involved as the coursework paper I’m taking is far more of a time suck than expected (I’m overseas and the structure of the class is far different than I’m used to – I will have 12 weeks I can dedicate full time to the project). Actually had lunch and *talked to people* in my department – I’m not very good at that as a rule.

      WORST: I dunno, it sucks even more than anticipated to be away from my partner (of 13 years, and normally we spend all of our free time together), and there are always weekly lows that really exacerbate my depression.

    3. Junior Dev*

      Best: had a great time roller skating. Went to my friend’s birthday party and caught up with everyone, but got home and in bed by a reasonable hour.

      Worst: my apartment is an awful mess. I had to pack up all my stuff from my closets and cupboards into boxes for the exterminators that came on Monday, and most of it is still packed. I hope to make a dent in it this weekend.

    4. Mimmy*

      Best: Had an interview Tuesday and am scheduled for a phone interview (for the same job) on Monday.

      Worst: Totally fried one of my hearing aids, which is now out for repair. It is out of warranty so we’ll be out a few hundred bucks :(

    5. Bad Candidate*

      Best: I bought Valentines Day gifts for my husband ahead of time! Go me! He’s going to love them.

      Worst: Our cat has food allergies and was overgrooming her tummy. Vet put her on meds and in a cone to keep her from licking. The cone is like stiff paper and must have prevented her from getting in the litter box which is in a cabinet to keep the dog out. So she pooped in the living room. And we have a robotic vacuum.

        1. Bad Candidate*

          It was a couple of hours. It runs at 11 for about 90 minutes and I get home at 4. We think it got gunked up and drained the battery faster than normal. Luckily it wasn’t all over the place mostly just one corner.

        1. Bad Candidate*

          Fortunately it wasn’t, but it was still a lot of cleaning. Mostly the vacuum itself. Of course though we’re having people over tonight for the Super Bowl.

    6. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Best – spending Saturday afternoon snuggling my 20 1/2 year old cat. She likes nothing more than being wrapped in a blanket and held on her back like a baby. She’s purring very loudly.

      Worst – got tax forms. It appears I may owe quite a bit after cashing out a bunch of stocks to pay down my student loans.

    7. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      BEST: New Depeche Mode song released (and yes, I am totally showing my age here) – gearing up for the tour opener in Stockholm!

      WORST: Nothing really horrible other than long hours jockeying powerpoint this week for someone else, which definitely gets boring and tedious beyond belief.

    8. Elkay*

      Best: I have nothing to do this weekend, it’s been glorious.
      Worst: Frustrating week at work with my manager.

    9. Elizabeth West*

      BEST: Got my taxes done, and unless I screwed up somehow, I should be getting money back from both fed and state (I usually owe the state). Now watch: I probably screwed up. :P I’m going to put some back into the money market fund because that’s my escape money. I don’t want to use it for bills!

      WORST: Still no job, no word on anything, and it keeps yo-yo-ing between sunny and warmish and cold and cloudy. I bought ice cream the other day because I wanted it, but I’m too cold to eat it!

    10. Delta Delta*

      BEST: had lunch with a friend who’d been abroad in the Peace Corps for the last several years. She is someone I admire a lot and I was so glad to see her and hear about her adventures.

      WORST: that dumb groundhog guaranteed more winter. Enough with winter!

    11. Cath in Canada*

      Best: my book came out! I received my advance copies on Tuesday, and it was published on Thursday (in the UK – it’ll be available everywhere in March). It’s so great to actually hold it in my hands after two years of work (on and off – lots of rounds of edits and passing it back and forth to the editor and illustrator). I took a copy to work and then to the pub yesterday, and enjoyed showing it off :)

      Second best: yesterday was the 15th anniversary of my immigration to Canada! I’ve now lived in Vancouver longer than I’ve lived in any other city (previous record was 14 years, age 4-18).

      Worst: my parents are still upset that I left. Although the one upside of Brexit is that they now acknowledge that I made the right choice, and that they should have followed me when I first suggested it.

    12. SeekingBetter*

      BEST: I was nominated for an “Excellent Volunteer Award Year 2016” for the nonprofit I’ve been volunteering at for the past seven years! So stoked!!

      WORST: I think I unintentionally gained back two pounds.

    13. AliceBD*

      BEST: I love my new-to-me car! I’m having fun getting everything settled in it. And using fun features like keeping the keys in my purse (now I just need my apartment door to unlock by proximity).
      WORST: I carried too much in from the store at once and my back is protesting since I’m still recovering from whiplash.

    14. Gene*

      Best – Seeing friends and family. The weather in Tucson. Mexican food.

      Worst – The reason I’m here. Friend’s horrible injury.

    15. Aurion*

      Best: had a great lunch out with a friend who just moved back into town, and I’m picking up fractional plates tomorrow :D

      Worst: overdid it at the gym last week and my back is still a little stiff/sore. I’m pretty sure it’s just lingering DOMS (I upped the sets without decreasing the weight) and the worst of it faded quickly, so I don’t think it’s an injury…but I’m still a little paranoid.

    16. Ruffingit*

      BEST: Wonderful day with family for my birthday.

      WORST: Need to get more sleep. Been tired and can’t seem to catch up.

    17. Jules the First*

      Best: I’m about to buy a pony (well, ok, part of a pony, on long-term loan, but this is a huge commitment for me, since I’ve never done this before)

      Worst: My sister got the job she was hoping for (wait for it), which is awesome, but means that her family (including the only grandchild) will be moving 600 miles away from the rest of the family. Which sucks.

    18. Finny*

      Best: Got my preorder in for the new Nintendo 3ds xl Pikachu edition that releases on February 24th, which also happens to be mine and the husband’s tenth anniversary. Also, we are already planning and saving towards our big ten day trip to Disney World and Universal that we are wanting to do in October or November 2018, if we can manage to save up the $7,000 or so Canadian we will need. If not, we will move the trip to February 2019. Either way it is a trip to celebrate our honeymoon (we never had one when we got married, as we had to start working on the immigration stuff for me right off and that wasn’t cheap), as well as for me having been at my job for ten years come July 2018.

      Worst: The weather-related migraine that’s making me not want to do the shopping needed before tomorrow.

      1. Bibliovore*

        Worst: Got the flu after a week of conference travel and and conference in my home town. AND had the flu shot.
        Best: Feeling better today. Have home made soup. House is warm. Dog is healthy. No classes to teach next week so can catch up. Got a new GP. Better living through chemistry. I can finally breath while lying down.

  29. femaleProgrammer*

    I’ve been wondering why there aren’t more women in programming/computer science. I’m female, Gen X, and I like programming. It seems like the percentage of women who are lawyers or doctors is much higher than the percentage of programmers.

    Maybe my view of things is different because my parents brought me up with the idea that girls can do just about anything that boys can, and they encouraged me to be good at math. Maybe part of it was that I went to a small school, so I didn’t have to prove myself much when it came to math, etc. because teachers talk to each other about their students. The ironic thing is that I rarely use math when I program.

    What do you think about why there’s a gender gap in programming?

    Oh, and I guess I’ve been fortunate in this, but the guys I work with and the guys I went to college with were generally nice guys who treat/ed me OK.

      1. femaleProgrammer*

        OK. I guess I was thinking about it as a more of a school and college question, but it is more about work.

  30. AdAgencyChick*

    What is a reasonable statute of limitations beyond which a friend whom you don’t see often, and who has left an item at your home, forfeits the right to get it back?

    This happened when a friend brought a dessert to a party at our home three months ago. I have tried to arrange for us to meet up (at a midpoint between us, since we live in different boroughs) several times in that time, but he hasn’t been free.

    At this point I am tired of the dish he left taking up space on my kitchen counter. I don’t have extra cabinet space to just tuck it out of sight. Is it rude if I tell him I’m going to put it in the mail and ask him to PayPal me the postage? Or just tell him I need to get rid of the dish if he can’t get it in the next two weeks?

    1. Jessesgirl72*

      I’d go with the get rid of warning if he can’t come get it sometime in the next two weeks, or paypals you postage.

    2. Hrovitnir*

      I lean toward the latter. I’d rather donate it than eat the postage – maybe it’s cheaper in the US, but it’s not nothing to send something like a platter or even a plate that will need to be packed. It’s just annoying.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        I don’t know about cheapER in the US, but the cost of shipping right now is insane. $45 for a 2.5 lb box less than 12″ in any direction worth of insane. I ranted about it on Facebook at Christmas time, and everyone who had shipped something already joined in.

    3. Elkay*

      Three months doesn’t seem that long to me. If you don’t have kitchen space box it up and put it under the bed or in the back of the wardrobe.

      1. Josie Prescott*

        Eh, OP said boroughs, which means NYC, land of teeny tiny apartments. Story a platter is not a no never mind sort of thing there like it is in the suburbs.

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          Correct. Under the bed is where our suitcases go. All closets are filled with clothes.

          I suppose I could balance it on top of some books in my bookcase, but a) that’s gonna end in broken pottery, and b) I just don’t want to have to do that.

    4. Melody Pond*

      If you’ve made several attempts to return it to him, and he hasn’t figured out a way to make it happen, then I see that as having been very reasonable about the situation. I have a very low tolerance for unwanted or needless things being in my space, so I’d probably be in a similar space as you about this.

      If I were in your shoes, I’d probably give him the one final heads-up to say, “hey, if we can’t coordinate a time to get this item back to you within the next two weeks, I’m donating it to charity. If you want to paypal me some money to ship it to you in that timeframe, that’d also be fine.” And then I’d donate it.

      1. Jerry Vandesic*

        Put it in the bottom of a cabinet, and give it back to him the next time he comes over. No need for you to go out of your way to take it to him, or to ship it. Keep it simple.

  31. Sparkly Librarian*

    I went to the library with a baby. :) My wife and I have been babysitting one evening a week for a friend, and this weekend we get to take him all day and overnight. Went to storytime and explored the toys (he’s 7 months and teething, so he wants to put everything in his mouth), and now we are home and he is napping away in the crib. Great practice for when we have a baby at home, right?

    1. LibbyG*

      Awww! That sounds awesome! I can’t wait to read comments from you about Sparklybaby. I really hope you guys meet your child soon. It took us several years to bring our first child home (in our case, via infertility treatments). The ache to parent — the hope and grief and excitement and tedium of waiting waiting waiting for things to move forward. I hope your path is short and smooth from here.

    2. Jen*

      Such a fun age! My youngest is 7 months now. They go from unpredictable helpless blob to Real Cute Babies around 5-7 months. Can sit but usually not crawl. Can recognize people and light up rooms with a smile, but not yet afraid of strangers.

      Enjoy!! My 3 and 5 year old are cute in their own ways but don’t love me in the “only have eyes for you” baby way!

  32. LawCat*

    Wish me luck. I’m doing a deep clean and purge in the living room and at my desk this afternoon. I kind of want to get rid of our coffee table so the living room will be more open. It’s a “stuff” magnet, but we don’t otherwise have a spot to set our beverages when we’re lounging on the couch and it’s super handy when we have company over to play a game since we gather around it. But I hate otherwise.

    1. Turtlewings*

      If you have anywhere to store it, you can try putting it away for a couple of weeks and see how you do without it.

    2. Jules the First*

      I combat the table-as-a-repository-for-junk by having no coffee table and one fewer little end tables (lightweight ones which are easy to move around) than would be convenient. (Something like I have three armchairs but only two side tables). Since I have to move the table regularly to where I want to use it, I’m motivated to keep it clean.

      I also went with pretty small ones which will hold, for example, just a mug and a book – that way I have to clear them off or they aren’t usable. (I got this idea from the only flat surface in my parents’ house which is reliably bare: the small round end table that will only hold a mug and a plate)

    3. Aphrodite*

      Is it possible to not permit anything to be on there other than (maybe, if you want) a vase of flowers or a book or object you love? Do you have children or a significant other? Who usually makes the messes? Can a rule be instituted that every night that it be completely cleaned off and whatever doesn’t have another home gets tossed?

      I have a gorgeous coffee table I love and I think because of that I do not permit anything not deliberately chosen for it to be on there. Of course, it helps that I live alone, or at least that the cats don’t disobey that rule. And I like minimalism.

      Maybe you really don’t like the coffee table, just what it offers. In that case, can you look around and try to find one that you love for itself (lines, color, vintage feel, etc.). Perhaps if you love it for itself you won’t find yourself leaving things on it that ruin the look you love?

    4. CC*

      I just did something similar. I have a very large coffee table in my living room and it was piled with so much stuff it was unusable. After a big cleanup and furniture rearranging weekend, my very large coffee table is now fully occupied – with a jigsaw puzzle. Much better use of that space, I think. Now I’m purging another room (oh the household archaeology) and one rule I’m enforcing on myself is that the recently cleared living room is not allowed to be used for staging or sorting of stuff from other rooms: the only things from other rooms that are allowed in the living room are things that belong there as their permanent home. So far that has been my guitar, and a souvenir art thing I excavated that I decided belonged on a particular wall.

      (The jigsaw puzzle is on a puzzle mat so if I need to use the table for something else I can get it out of the way easily. But I haven’t needed to use it for anything else since I set it up that way – a few weeks. Guests over? My guest joined me in puzzling for a while!)

  33. Aussie Teacher*

    I just moved house! Twice as much space, and a pool, and a backyard – so pretty! And I did a gigantic purge of all our things a few months ago so we only needed to pack things we actually use/like. We moved yesterday morning and we’ve already unpacked/set up 80% of our stuff – the playroom, kitchen, bedrooms etc – just the laundry and bookshelves to go! It’s been a crazy busy week being the first week back of school, but so lovely to be in our new place!

  34. HannahS*

    Based on the Mrs./Ms. discussion on a question earlier this week, how did you address your teachers as a child in [location you grew up]?

    In Ontario, in French Immersion, we called all the men “Monsieur” and all the women “Madame,” without last names. Once I switched to English, we called all the men “Sir” and all the women “Miss,” again, without last names. If we had to use a female teacher’s last name (to distinguish her from someone else), then we switched to “Ms.”

    (and in supplementary Hebrew school, the teachers were called by first name)

    1. Allypopx*

      As they asked to be addressed, which varied greatly (Mr., Ms., Miss, Mrs., FirstName, Dr., Nickname, Coach, etc.). American Northeast.

    2. EmmaLou*

      As they introduced themselves, mostly Mr. Mrs. and a few Miss. The church I went to as a teen, all adults went by first names, the church I go to as an adult, all adults are Mr., Mrs., Miss but not necessarily last names: Mr. Bob; Mrs. Debbie; Miss Angie. If they are older, Mrs. Smith (a woman who has taught people, their children AND their grandchildren in Sunday School.) (Go, Mrs. Smith, go!)

    3. hermit crab*

      Our standard was Mr./Mrs./Miss Lastname (though the vast majority of the teachers in my U.S. suburban public school district were married women). There was one high school science teacher who had a PhD and asked everyone to call her Dr. Lastname, and then there was the Spanish teacher who just went by “Señor,” but those are the only two exceptions I can think of.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Southern Plains state here, 1970s-1980s.
      –Mrs. Whatever if they were married.
      –Miss or Ms. Whatever if they weren’t; they usually specified what they preferred.
      –Mr. Whatever if they weren’t a coach.
      –Coach Whatever if they were coaches. You could tell because all coaches wore those fugly polyester coach pants and a polo shirt. There were no female coaches because we didn’t have any varsity girls’ teams (it was a very tiny school).

      1. HannahS*

        Coach Whatever always makes me smile! I only ever heard it in, like, 80s/90s inspirational sports movies from the States.

      2. Sled dog mama*

        Totally the same for me in 90’s. it was always fun when the coach didn’t teach PE so some people called her coach and some mr/mrs/ms and then when you had two with the same last name so we had Big Quick and Little Quick and in college we had Mr Dr Smith and Dr Mrs Smith, that was fun talked to someone who didn’t know there were two Dr Smiths in the department.

    5. LizB*

      US West Coast: Ms. Lastname or Mrs. Lastname for women depending on marital status, Mr. Lastname for all men. Every once in a while there would be a teacher who just went by one name (my kindergarten teacher went by her first name, my theatre director in high school went by just his last name with no title). Teachers for Spanish classes were Señora or Señorita (I never had a male Spanish teacher).

    6. Kj*

      Mrs or Miss, depending on marital status. Unless they had a Ph.D, of course, cause then they were “Dr.”

      I’m from the southern US, so friend’s parents/people at church, were usually Miss or Mr. FirstName.

    7. Josie Prescott*

      New England in the 1980s: Mr / Ms, unless the teacher requested Mrs. I don’t remember any that were Miss, maybe in the very early grades. Definitely not in High School.

    8. SadieMae*

      In my part of the South, kids can pretty much call every grown woman “Miz.” It cuts right through the Miss/Ms./Mrs. issue. Generally, it’s Miz Firstname for a neighbor/family friend, Miz Lastname for a teacher or someone else you want to particularly defer to. When not using the full name, I always have referred to an elder as “Sir” or “Ma’am,” except in a work situation – even in our conservative neck of the woods, we’ve gone to first names at work for everybody.

      I still remember when white people here referred to African-Americans by first name (no honorific) but African-Americans were expected to refer to whites as “Mr./Miz Firstname” and even to white children as “Mr./Miss Firstname.” When I was a child of ten, my parents hired an African-American housekeeper who came in once a week, and I was told to refer to her just as “Mattie,” which startled me – the other grown women I knew in our segregated town were all white, and I would’ve been in huge trouble for not using an honorific with them. We certainly still deal with racism – here as everywhere – but thank goodness, I can’t imagine a child being told to make that sort of distinction here today.

      1. the gold digger*

        I saw some episode of The Mentalist where the child is calling the maid by her first name and I was appalled. It was a great device to illustrate the class distinctions and the jerkiness of the kid (and his parents, who must have taught him that), but it was really off-putting. My parents were very much of the “Adults need to be called ‘Mister’ or ‘Missus'” school.

    9. katamia*

      In school: Mr./Mrs./Miss/Ms. Lastname, although I was a bit of a lazy speaker, and Mrs. and Miss often got slurred into Ms. Dr. Lastname if they had a doctorate, although I think I only had two teachers in my K-12 years who did.

      In dance class, our teachers (all female) and the assistants/aides were “Miss Firstname,” even the ones who I know were married.

    10. Al Lo*

      Western Canada, ’90s: Ms., Mrs., Miss, Mr. lastname. That was also how I addressed most of my parents’ friends and my friends’ parents — my mom was really big on not calling adults by their first names. I had one aunt who let us call her by her first name (no “Aunt So-and-so”) when we turned 13, and that was a big rite of passage. A few close family friends were Aunt or Uncle, but not too many. Pastors were “Pastor Firstname,” but the youth pastor was just Firstname.

      For the non-teacher adults in my life, I started calling most of them by just their first names in or around college. I still have a few high school teachers that I keep in touch with occasionally, although I don’t see them socially all that often, and I have a hard time not calling them Mrs. So-and-so. If I saw them more often in a social or professional setting, I’d get over that pretty quickly, but as it is, I only see them occasionally and on Facebook, so while I know I can call them by their first names, it doesn’t come naturally.

    11. Temis*

      In Brazil, when I was a child we used ‘Teacher + first name” So my History teacher was Professora Inês for example. That’s considered polite in my country. Nowadays children either shorten the teacher as ‘Profa’ or substitute it by aunt/uncle which I think it’s weird.

  35. Anonforthis*

    I had that norovirus in December near the holidays and my gut is still messed up from it. I want to take a probiotic to regulate things- any recommendations? Pill vs chewable vs refrigerated… I’m not sure which to take.

    1. Jean who seeks to be Ingenious*

      Try Whole Foods or a similar store, such as a food co-op, organic foods, My Organic Market, etc.
      I’ve had good results taking Flora brand “Udo’s choice Advanced Adult’s Probiotic (7 Senior-Specific Strains).” It’s in the refrigerator case in the vitamins/supplements aisle of Whole Foods. I take it whenever I need an antibiotic.
      FYI if you’re trying to avoid animal products: the capsules don’t include gelatin, but they do list stearic acid which is not always plant-sourced.
      YMMV because people’s guts can vary. I hope yours feels better soon.

    2. Red*

      This absolutely varies for everyone – if you ask 10 people for their preferred probiotic, you will get 11 answers and a few blank stares. FWIW, my husband actually had great results with Activia. Yes, the yogurt from the commercials. I tried Align and thought it was pretty good, but it’s expensive. Honestly, I’d just start with the cheapest, most easily available thing and see how it works, upgrading if necessary. No need to make yourself crazy and broke if the cheap thing does the job well enough.

      1. Anonforthis*

        I’m just wondering if some are better than others. I’ve read to get the ones that are refrigerated, while my doctor said that Align is fine.

        1. Someone*

          I think probiotic “technology” has been improving, so they are more stable at room temperature than they used to be.

        2. Red*

          A lot of the doctors at the hospital I work in seem to have a thing for Align. I’ve no idea why that would be (I am not a doctor), but it’s definitely worth a try. I’m just annoyed that it’s reliably one of the more expensive ones. Like, why am I being charged $20-30 for bacteria, of all things? I realize it’s special bacteria with a job, but it just rubs me the wrong way.

          I don’t think refrigeration is necessary, there’s all kinds of technology in these things to keep them alive and working.

    3. Natalie*

      It might not be super easy to find – I get it at our natural foods co-op – but I really like the Good Belly pro-biotic juice. It’s dairy free if that’s a concern, and the juice is pretty delicious. I normally drink juice in the morning so I just swapped regular orange juice for that stuff

    4. mreasy*

      Just commiserating. I had it and I’m still feeling the aftereffects. Slept through Christmas dinner! I am trying to do an easily digestible diet, less coffee, and the probiotics. So far, doing okay. Good luck to you, fellow stomach bug sufferer!

    5. smokey*

      Refrigerated. The ones on the shelf are more likely to be dead and useless. Not that they will be, of course, but more likely.

  36. Legalchef*

    Man oh man am I tired! We are having our usual Super Bowl party tomorrow and I’ve been up since 7 – I’ve made brownies with a caramel swirl, m&m blondies, chocolate toffee crackers, pimento dip (to be heated), spinach artichoke dip (to be heated), and prepped mini twice baked potatoes. And I’ve been cleaning in between.

    I still have mini Mac n cheese cups, brown butter Rice Krispie treats, deviled eggs, and guac to make. And lemon ricotta cookies if I have time.

    Note to self: doing all this at 21 weeks pregnant is a bad idea!

    1. EmmaLou*

      Just think though… for NEXT year’s party, you’ll have a BABY! And golly all of that sounds good.

          1. Jen*

            I have kids. 3 y/o sets the table (we have melnamine plates and plastic clear cups, and keep them in a low cabinet. We set the *real* plates but only when we have guests…), 5 y/o clears it. They both can load the dishwasher though we usuall don’t ask them to since they don’t scrape etc.

            They both can and do when asked pick up their toys. They love things like washing windows (streaky but who am I to complain…), sweeping floors etc. I could not WAIT til the kids were old enough to pick up sticks in the yard during spring cleaning. I loathe that chore.

            1. the gold digger*

              You are my hero. I know people whose teenage children do no chores at all – they do not load or unload the dishwasher, they do not clean the bathroom, much less their own rooms, and they do not cut the grass or rake the leaves. I scratch my head – my mom and dad had no intention of being servants to their children. Their attitude was, “We all live here, so we all contribute.”

              1. EmmaLou*

                Yes and eventually they are going to live as adults and need to know how to do stuff. We all had chores. All of us could do at least basic cooking and laundry when we left home. I wish my parents had taught banking better. I had to study out how to do a checking account myself. Not that they didn’t know how, it just never occurred to them to show us how. They started us on savings accounts when we were very young. “This much of your allowance went to savings and this much to spending.”

    2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Is your other half pitching in with something other than a booze run? :)

      There was an article in the WSJ online version on Friday about Snackadiums – people who make miniature replicas of the game stadium out of food. So the field is guacamole or 7 layer dip, with some pretzel field goals, chips are in little stadium tiers, mini Hersheys are cars in the parking lot, hell, one of them had two ipad minis as Jumbotrons that were hooked up to be able to play the actual game while it was on tv! I sent it to my South African friend who is all excited to be watching tomorrow night because it doesn’t get more American than that.

      Be thankful you don’t feel some compulsion to arrange the food in some sort of architectural format and can just leave it in the crock!

      1. Legalchef*

        It’s like you know us. He’s out getting beer now.

        I saw that article – they are crazy. And I’ve always been sooooo tempted to make one!!!

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          I saw it too, and thought, “You guys have fun with that!” :P

          My friends will have to content themselves with non-artistically-arranged, but tasty and homemade, chili and Bacon Explosion.

    3. Mimmy*

      All that food sounds so sinful but so good!! *makes mental note to sneak over to Legalchef’s house*

      1. Legalchef*

        I mitgate the sinfulness by eating the cheesy dips with celery. I figure that eating celery actually has negative calories so it must balance out. Right?

    4. the gold digger*

      Wow! That menu sounds fabulous! I am off to google “mini mac and cheese cups.”

      And you have my complete and unreserved admiration for doing all this at five months. Now go rest. :)

    5. Cookie D'oh*

      Wow, amazing! All that food sounds delicious. The brown butter Rice Krispie treats sound delicious.

      1. Legalchef*

        Just make the regular Rice Krispie treats recipe (maybe with an extra tablespoon of butter) but brown the butter and also add a big pinch of sea salt. They are so good!!!!

    6. Legalchef*

      One plus side of pregnancy insomnia is that I become super productive! Made the lemon ricotta cookies, Rice Krispie treats, and Mac n cheese cups! Now all I have left is to make guac, which I’ll do closer in to when the party is starting, fill the deviled eggs, chop up veggies for a platter, and bake everything off (which I won’t do until people start to arrive). We still have a bit of cleaning left to do, but I might even have time for a nap!

      1. EmmaLou*

        What do you put in your deviled eggs? I’m allergic so never thought to ask my mum before she died, but other people like them so I’d like to learn. (I can touch them and even possibly eat one but after that… no. So not deathly allergic.)

        1. Legalchef*

          Mayo, Dijon mustard, a few dashes of tobasco, salt, pepper, finely minced shallot. I keep it pretty basic. I sprinkle it with smoke paprika and minced chives before serving.

  37. Amy*

    Seeking some advice re: buying a house!

    My husband and I just went under contract to buy our first house. Woohoo! We’re now in the contingency period and getting our inspections done this coming week. The one I’m really nervous about is the lead testing. The house was built in 1972, six years before lead-based paints were banned. The interior is pretty much all newly renovated but the (very large) decks are covered in worn/peeling paint, and I have no idea when they were last painted. My nightmare scenario is that we find out it’s all lead paint and that the soil around the house is filled with lead, too. We have a young baby so this would be a dealbreaker for us since it seems plausible (though expensive) to have lead paint removed, but if it’s in the soil it seems like you’re basically just not going to be able to let your toddler play in the yard…. ever. Ugh. This a “knowable” thing – we’ll have professional testing done this week to find out if there is actually lead – but it’s majorly stressing me out right now since it would suck to have to back out of this purchase. Has anyone dealt with a similar situation? Was it ok?

    Second issue, assuming we pass the lead inspection: why is surveying a property so crazy expensive? The quotes we’ve gotten from professional surveyors just to come out and mark the corners are $1200+ for this dinky little 1/4 acre lot. We’re planning to fence in the yard for our dogs and child but since the property lines really aren’t clear, and we don’t want trouble with the neighbors, we figured the responsible thing to do is get it surveyed. But we’re not in a position to shell out that kind of money. So, do we just wing it with our fence-building and hope for the best?

    Thanks for any and all advice! Our buyers’ agent is a kind and capable person but I’m pretty sure she thinks we’re Type A yuppies for worrying about this stuff. Apparently we’re only the second clients she’s ever had who have wanted lead testing or a property survey, so while she was happy to set it up for us she’s not very experienced with either.

    1. Mt*

      1200 seems high, i just got estimates for mine around 600, so it could be the area. Its expensive due to the insurance they have to have, the equipment they use and the training costs.

      1. Amy*

        Yeah, I think it is the area. I’ve gotten four quotes and nothing under $1,200, unfortunately. Thanks!

      2. Girasol*

        We paid $1400 for ours and had another estimate for a bit more. We thought the same thing: THAT much?? But they did go a mile and a half away to tie it into a known point.

    2. this*

      Cost is also dependent upon where they have to start. There are specific monuments that your property survey is based upon. We put in a fence and because we were the first owners the developer had to pay for the survey to satisfy the deed (putting in place monuments and pins). Then as my husband and I were Civil Engineers and had access to surveying equipment were marked out the yard ourselves for the fence installer.
      You can wing it for the fence. It’s usually not a problem. Most established properties have pretty obvious “property edges”.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I have forgotten, but houses built before X date are presumed to have lead paint.

      Fence building. Talk to your neighbors. Fences send a covert message, if you talk to them and tell them why that will make life so much simpler. You can look for surveyor’s markers together. You’ll need to check with code enforcement to see if you need a permit and to find out what the set back (from the line) should be. You may get lucky and find surveyor’s marks already in place.

      1. Amy*

        Yeah, I think talking with our neighbors is going to be the best approach. The house is on a hill and the area we want to fence is is kind of brushy and downhill, where it doesn’t seem like anyone goes (including the neighbors), so hopefully it won’t be a big issue. The property line really could be anywhere down there, but we think we have a fairly good idea of it from the parcel map. My husband is just worried (and rightfully so, I guess) that we’ll get it wrong and have to move the fence later, but hopefully if we can get the neighbors’ buy-in that won’t happen.

        1. Kj*

          Yeah, and most neighbors will pitch in for a fence too, if it benefits them. My family had a fence built that way.

          RE: survey. I can’t recommend enough having someone out to mark things and look at your deed to make sure it is correct. Husband and I nearly got had on our home as the deed said one thing and the listing another. Thankfully, we sent the deed to a surveyor we know who told us about the problem before we signed. It was worked out and we got the land the listing promised. A law suit later is priced than a survey now.

    4. Jessesgirl72*

      We only have to pay a nominal fee here (under $500) to get our property lines staked by the city. Do you absolutely have to hire your own?

      It’s also a requirement before we can get the permit to build a fence- which is required before we can build the fence.

      And if the paint is peeling that badly? I’m going to guess it’s NOT lead. A friend had to sandblast the lead paint off 150 year old doors because he was turning his old farmhouse into a Bed and Breakfast, and the code required it. It’s not 100% thing, but it’s pretty unlikely.

      1. Amy*

        Oh, interesting – did you just contact the assessor’s office? I should look into that. These are all private companies I’ve contacted since I didn’t know the city could do it. Re: permits, our fence is going to be under 5 feet and in our city that doesn’t require a permit. :)

        Good to know about the paint! That gives me some hope!

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          The guy who owned our house before us had the property surveyed (dispute with the neighbor about a storm drain- that property line is 6″ from the edge of our driveway!) and the stakes were still there. I know the city does it by just poking around the city website. They have the requirements and fees listed.

    5. Sibley*

      Re: lead paint – as long as it’s not chipping off, you’re fine. It’s ingestion/inhalation that is the problem. I’ve never heard that it’s a big problem in the yard though. Basically, don’t borrow trouble. Get the testing done, and then you’ll know what you’re dealing with.

      And may I remind you that you very possibly grew up in a house with lead paint? If not you, then your parents did! Yeah, lead is a problem. But only if it gets inside the body.

      1. Natalie*

        In urban areas in particular, lead can build up in soil. The biggest source was leaded gasoline, but paint was a source as well, especially around the base of houses.

    6. Jen*

      We have 1 complicated acre and our survey was 1200, in the Boston area (HCOL). We later found other places that were less. Get more quotes, they probably know you are desparate! Do make sure you understand any limitations on fencing- we lived in a historic district that only allows 2.5′ fencing- not gonna stop the dog!

      W/r/t lead…all homes built pre 1950s were painted with lead. These homes have been peeling, been sanded and repainted dozens of times. I have never heard the issue with kids in the soil TBH. I grew up in houses that undoubtably had lead paint- New England built homes in 1889, 1910, 1920 and our first purchased home was 1930. We had gardens and ate food from them. I don’t know your kid but honestly, don’t let the kid shovel dirt in his/her face when playing near the deck if you are worried about eating lead chips. I have 3 under 7 and this is a a VERY short phase. Behind that, wash hands.

      Definitely absolutely make the sellers compensate for lead abatement if it’s in the deck. It’s expensive.

      1. Jen*

        I should add- kids have lived in these old homes and eaten in our gardens and pass the annual lead test required by the state at the pediatricians with flying colors.

      2. Amy*

        Oh, I definitely grew up with some lead paint too! New England house built in the 1700’s and added on to in various stages for many years. We just don’t want to expose our baby to it if we can avoid it. She’s less than a year old and EVERYTHING goes in her mouth right now. We also have dogs that will track whatever they walk on into the house. It would just suck to feel like we had to be constantly vigilant if it turns out there’s a ton of lead in the decks and soil.

        Re: quotes, I’ve contacted four places and they all range from $1,200 to $2,500+ unfortunately. I think it’s because we live in a pricey area of the country. But I’m going to look into the other commenter’s recommendation of seeing if the city will do it.

        Thanks for your advice! :)

      3. blackcat*

        Lead in the soil can cause problems, so it is good to be careful. Tons of people in my neighborhood have forked over the $$ to have the top 6-12 inches of soil trucked away and replaced–someone did this for our house way back in the 1970s. We by a stream, downstream from a late 18th century textile factory. Mercury and cobalt were used in lots of dyes, and so our soil has tons of those if you dig down more than a foot.

    7. Anono-me*

      In my town for a fence, it is enough to find property line stakes from an earlier survey or from a neighbor’s survey. The local big home supply stores rent metal detectors specifically designed to find the metal survey stakes. The cost is about $100.00.

      It is hard to say how big a deal having the fence line up with the actual property lines will be. Some municipalities are very very strict about it. And some neighbors would be very offended if your fence crossed over to their property by a centimeter. Also incorrect placement of the fence might shrink the usable size of your yard unnecessary.

      Other things to consider about the fence.

      Please check to see how property line fences are treated by your municipality. In mine, they become shared property and both homeowners have to agree and pay for any and all changes or maintenance.

      No matter what size dogs your family has, I would recommend a fence low enough to the ground that even a small fox could not get under it.

      As for as the lead test goes; I don’t know if you are in an area where the lead is a strong cause for concern or not. (I am guessing not, especially as your Realtor is not familiar with the lead test.) But I firmly believe that for your family that the lead test is money well spent. Right now you have strong worries about lead that will probably weigh on you all the time you are in the house unless you get a lead test with good results. Good luck.

      Congratulations on the baby and the new home.

  38. Raddest*

    It’s the warmest today that it’s been in MONTHS and the snow is melting and I found out the houseplant I thought I’d killed is still alive and will probably recover. And my fiancee is feeling better–they’ve been recovering from a long illness, and they’re doing GREAT. I’m so happy.


  39. Emilia Bedelia*

    Ran a half marathon at the gym earlier this week to celebrate the year anniversary of my ACL surgery! Felt great, but my feet are a mess. Now that I’m back to running regularly, and since outdoor running season is almost here, I’m finally going to buy some new running shoes.

    Any runners have suggestions for good, reasonably priced running sneakers? Right now I have Asics Gel Contend 3- they were on sale for something like $40 when I got them, which was a big plus, but they’re a little heavy and thick, and I don’t think they breathe very well- my feet seem to get really sweaty. Ideally I’d like to spend less than $100- I’m definitely willing to pay for good shoes, but I don’t need anything really fancy or technical. My feet are pretty normal, but they are somewhat wide and large for a woman (I’m usually size 10.5 or 11 in sneakers).

    I run about 30-40 miles a week, and I’d be wearing them to run (either treadmill or road, when it warms up) or go to the gym 5-6 days a week, so I’m looking for something sturdy that will last me a few months. Any suggestions for brands or styles that I should look at?

    1. Delta Delta*

      Go to a good running store and have someone help fit you for shoes. Especially at your mileage you should have shoes that really work with your body and your running style. I am pretty consistently a 15-20 mile/week runner. After some trial and error I landed with Brooks Glycerin shoes. When I started I liked a very supportive shoe but then I started to like a slightly more minimal shoe. Anyway, when you find a shoe you like you could see if you can find them cheaper online. I’m definitely one for bargains but I won’t wear cheap shoes of any sort. I’d rather pay a little more for good stuff than end up hurting myself.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m not a regular runner (I jog occasionally), but I walk a ton and went to a running store to get better shoes. It turned out that Brooks Ghosts are the ones for me, but they’re pricey and I have to replace them every 4 months or so, so I get last year’s model on 6pm.com or Nordstrom Rack. I bought two pairs last time, both for under $70. I love my Ghosts. I have wide feet (I wear a size 10) and I supinate, and these shoes are just great for me.

    3. Red*

      I absolutely love Brooks Ghost – they’re a little pricey, but worth it, especially if you buy the old model. The Transcend is also lovely.

      I’d try out a pair of Hoka shoes as well – they’re definitely not for everybody, but I honestly love them and talk them up every chance I get. They’re so cushiony, but also assertive and make my stiff, arthritic knees act right and actually bend as they should. Buy them a half size smaller than you normally would, they run large.

      New Balance are also a solid choice. They don’t seem to be anything special (at least the models I’ve worn), but they’re solid shoes for the price and I’ve never had an issue with any of them. If that’s all you need, you won’t be disappointed.

    4. Lady Julian*

      I run 5-6 days a week, which in winters works out to be 25ish miles (I do more like 30-35 in the summer). In my experience, any running shoes worth their salt will be $100 or a little more.

      I’ve really liked Mizunos in the past, though the last pair I got didn’t work for me. I currently have a pair of Asics that worked so well that they’re wearing thin; I need new shoes! Hoka (mentioned above) is a consistently good brand, as is Altras.

      I second the recommendation to go to a local running store & be fitted for shoes. I did this when I first started running and it is the BEST way to find good shoes!

      1. Emilia Bedelia*

        Thanks for the recommendations- I wasn’t sure whether more expensive shoes would be worth it or not, so it’s good to have a price point that I should be aiming above.
        I’m trying to run more and at the same time be kinder to my feet and knees (see aforementioned ACL surgery….) so sounds like I’ll be checking out the running store. Thanks everyone!

    5. Josie Prescott*

      I’d recommend trying men’s shoes. I’m an 11 or 12 in women’s and have often had to make do with men’s even though they too wide for me. If your feet are a little on the wide side, the men’s may well fit you perfectly.

      My shoes of choice ATM are Mizuno Waveriders that I was actually able to get in a women’s 12, but again, my feet are narrow.

    6. Kate*

      I love my Brooks GTS. But I really recommend going to a running store and getting some recommendations. Also, be prepared that they may be ugly. I hate the way my shoes look, but love the way they feel (or rather, love that I never even think about them bc my feet and shins don’t hurt).

    7. AdAgencyChick*

      I don’t do distance running any more, but I used to have a mileage load similar to yours, and in the last year or two I was doing pretty well with inov-8s, which I now use as more of a CrossFit shoe. They provide much less cushioning than a lot of running shoes (I can’t believe how much rubber I used to put between myself and the ground!) but they’re not as minimalist as, say, a Vibram.

      The inov-8s were pretty comfortable, even at long distances (I ran a marathon in them!) and took away the feeling that I was running on marshmallows.

  40. Ask a Manager* Post author

    1. About half an hour ago, I finished a massive project that I’ve been working on since September. Now I spend the next month refining it before it’s truly done, but holy crap I am thrilled and relieved.

    2. Le Creuset dutch ovens: I want one. Le Creuset fans, are the 7-1/4 quart ones massive? I have a non-Le Creuset enamel dutch oven that’s 5-1/2 quarts, so I want to get something that isn’t right around the same size, but I’m wondering if the 7-1/4 is a monster. Also, is there any way to buy these things on sale, or do I just need to resign myself to paying full price?

    1. Lily Evans*

      The shopping site Rue La La occasionally has Le Creuset as one of the brands they offer at a discount. It’s a site you have to sign up for just to browse, but I just checked it out and it looks like it’s actually one of the “boutiques” they have open right now. I can’t really tell how much cheaper they are (if at all), but it might be worth checking out?

    2. the gold digger*

      Are you open to used cooking equipment? I have gotten used All-Clad on eBay and it’s been fine for the past ten years.

      There are some used Le Creuset dutch ovens on eBay. There is a used 5.5 qt one for $99.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        Just added a new saved search to Ebay…

        I can’t afford a 16 qt stock pot in All Clad, but EVERY TIME I use my cheap one, I’m unhappy. Not as unhappy as when I was trying to halve my chili recipe or make split pea soup in the 6 qt… but I am spoiled forever for All Clad. Darn relatives who bought it for us for our wedding, when we can’t afford add to it! ;)

        1. the gold digger*

          All Clad also has a factory sale in their Western PA factory every year. (Maybe twice a year?) I don’t know if it’s online – our friends in Pittsburgh took our order and bought the pot for us when they went to the sale. We got our 5.5 qt All Clad dutch oven (made in the US!) for $135 instead of $350 at Williams Sonoma.

          1. Jessesgirl72*

            Hmmm… 1 hour and 37 minutes from my parents’ house on the Ohio side of that border… ;)

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Can you get the dimensions online? It’s a difference of 1.75 quarts. I would think that would make it around a few inches taller and a couple inches wider. It won’t be a restaurant-sized pot, I don’t think.

      Yea big project! I bet that feels good.

    4. Odyssea*

      Do you live near an outlet mall? Ours has a Le Creuset outlet. I’m not sure how cheap they end up being, but there’s definitely a discount.

      1. bridget*

        I got mine at a Le Creuset outlet, and probably saved like $100 if I recall correctly. Mine sold inventory that had very minor imperfections (like a spot on the lid where the lacquer was a little too thick, or a discoloration; nothing that would affect performance).

      2. AdAgencyChick*

        Yeah, I just got one for my niece for Christmas, and the outlet price was $100 less than retail.

    5. Me2*

      There’s an outlet mall near me with a Le Crueset shop. They sell regular stuff at regular prices and discontinued colors at slightly better prices. Any chance there’s an outlet near you? Also Macy’s sometimes has sales. Congrats on big project!

    6. Laura*

      The only time I’ve ever seen Le Creuset on sale is the colors that they’re discontinuing. Those usually end up on sale at the outlet store though, not at any of the regular stores.

    7. Aphrodite*

      I have a Le Creuset 7 1/4-quart Dutch oven and I love it. I bought that size because Cook’s Illustrated recommended it as the most versatile. And so it has proven to me, and I cook for one.

      I ended up buying it at a Le Creuset outlook about a half-hour south of me. See if there is one not too far away from you. It still won’t be cheap but if the very slight damage is cosmetic only, as mine is, it is less expensive than a new one. And if you can’t find an outlet I am afraid you must pay full price.

      1. SadieMae*

        I own an enamel Cuisinart brand dutch oven that I *love* – I use it constantly – but the enamel chipped here and there within only a few weeks of starting to use it. If you don’t mind it looking a bit broken in, though, I find it doesn’t affect usage in any way. If I ever had to replace mine, I’d buy a slightly dinged one in a heartbeat to save $, knowing it was probably gonna get dinged soon anyway and would be fine.

    8. Jessesgirl72*

      CamelCamelCamel shows me that Amazon sometimes cuts the price – lowest in the last year was $302 (June)- lowest ever was $287 in November of 2015. Knowing Amazon as I do, they likely lowered the price to be just at or below the price the last time Williams Sonoma or the like had a sale.

    9. Grumpy*


      Timely question, I just bought this with the idea of making no-knead artisan breads:
      (link to Canadian website: http://www.kitchenstuffplus.com/zwilling-j-a-henckels-cast-iron-oval-dutch-oven-red?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=PLA&gclid=CK2PiLD399ECFUUaaQod9T0H5w)

      Is Le Creueset really that much better than this one, which the Internet tells me is made by the same company as the Staub ones that are supposed to be as-good-or-better-than Le Creuset?

      Is there a big difference?
      I get a bonus and can afford a splurge and will spend the money if it’s worth it.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        We use the 5 minute a day no-knead artisan bread recipes, and they work awesome. (The pizza one too!)

        We just got some terra cotta tiles from the hardware store, burned off all the oils outside on the grill, and shape the bread (normally into a boule, since I can form those fast and accurately) and bake directly on the tiles- or on parchment paper on the tiles.

        Or, since their whole recipes make 4 lbs! of dough, sometimes I just want to make the whole thing at once, so I dump them into 2 lbs loaf pans.

    10. CAA*

      Williams Sonoma has Le Creuset on sale right now. I was just looking at them because my niece and her fiance have some pieces on their wedding registry.

    11. Jules the First*

      Le Creuset’s website has a “seconds” area which is often cheaper than the perfect stuff but just as serviceable. Also, check the rewards website of your credit cards and mileage programs – we got my mom a ton of Le Creuset one year using credit card points.

    12. Mela*

      They usually don’t display them in the store, but Bed Bath and Beyond carries the entire line on their site and the 20% coupons work.

        1. Mononymous*

          If you aren’t set on Le Creuset specifically, the brand Staub is comparable and allows Williams Sonoma coupon codes to apply. They have 20% off fairly frequently. It’s a bit heavier and has a black interior instead of the cream color, but is still good quality and made in France.

    13. mreasy*

      7.25 is the most versatile size I have. I bought mine at the annual sale of my local cookware shop (though I’m in NYC and their sale is legendary). However – LC does have outlets & you can get factory imperfect (like, the teensiest cosmetic blemish) for a significant discount if you can make it to an outlet store.

    14. Alice*

      No idea about the pricing, but I’ve heard the Le Creuset warranty is very good. The warranty for Dansk, on the other hand, is just “you can get a half-price+shipping replacement when the enamel starts to flake” – only 13 months after I bought it. I should have bought Le Creuset the first time.

    15. Amtelope*

      Le Creuset will sometimes turn up at TJ Maxx (discontinued colors, I’m assuming) — it’s totally random whether they’ll have any and what they’ll have if they do, but it’s worth taking a look.

    16. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I’ve gotten my Le Creuset on discount at TJ Maxx, William Sonoma (occasional sales), and a Le Creuset outlet. The Lodge brand also makes a nice Dutch oven very similar to Le Creuset but only $60 on Amazon.

    17. Mononymous*

      I have a few pieces of Le Creuset, including the 7.25qt round which is my biggest one. The base is around 11″ wide, so it fits perfectly on the largest burner on my stove. We’re a household of 2, but I love the size of this pot for soups and stews (we often cook big batches to eat on all week or freeze extra portions). It will also fit a whole chicken or a pretty big roast, plus veggies, for braising. When full it can be a bit heavy, but still manageable, IMO.

      I’ve found some good sales on LC on the Sur La Table website, but I also found a local, independent kitchen store that sells LC at quite good prices–I got my 7.25 round and a medium braiser there for less than at Williams Sonoma’s “sale” prices.

    18. Vancouver Reader*

      I bought 7 Le Creuset pots in varying sizes when they changed out the lids and handles, so yes it can be done to buy them on sale. Sometimes a store will try and get rid of their inventory of old colours if there’s a new colour coming in, at least there is when my favourite cooking store gets their new stuff in.

      Like Grumpy said, the big size is great for making no knead bread, so if you like making artisan bread, you would probably appreciate the big size.

  41. Tim*

    Has anyone renewed a US passport recently with the expedited service? How long did it actually take?

    I’ve only had to do it once and I was living overseas at the time. I had to fly up to the US consulate but I got it less than a week after that. Apparently even the expedited service in the US still takes a lot longer than that. Mine doesn’t actually expire until 2022, but I travel internationally at least once per month and it’s going to be full soon – and they don’t add pages anymore. I could probably survive 3 weeks in March without a passport but I wouldn’t like it.

    You’re supposed to be able to get it faster if you have international travel booked within 2 weeks, but will they allow it if your passport isn’t actually expiring but you just have minimal space left? (Right now I have 2.5 pages and by the end of February it will be either 1.5 or 1, and a fair amount of countries require more than that).

    If anyone has recent experience with this, any info would be much appreciated…

    1. Kathleen*

      I had my expired passport renewed with expedited service last October. I think from the day I dropped it at the post office to when I had it in my hands was maybe… 8 days. It was so fast I actually kicked myself for shelling out the cash!

      1. blackcat*

        I renewed via mail, regular service about a year ago. 10 days from dropping it in the mail to getting the new passport. It was another 5 or so to get the old one back. Super duper fast.

        My mom had to reapply for one (her old one had expired >10 years ago, so she couldn’t “renew”), and she was nervous about a 6 week timeline and paid to have it expedited. She got hers in about 10 days, too.

        Both of us live in/right near major cities, which makes it a bit faster, I think (if only b/c mail travels faster).

    2. Laura*

      Any way you could renew it while overseas on one of your trips? Even without expedited service, when I last renewed mine overseas it took about 9 days.

    3. Josie Prescott*

      I got an original (not renewal) passport in February 2016 without expedited service and had it within two weeks. Granted, I was a simple case – US born, applying to the passport office within 75 miles of where I was born.

      So, that’s probably completely useless data. Good luck!

    4. katamia*

      I did the expedited service in December (not expired, got chewed up by a pet). It really did only take a few days, although it took longer to get my birth certificate back.

    5. mreasy*

      I recently had to expedite my passport (I needed it in 4 days so I used a third party agency and it worked!), and I noticed there was specifically a portion of the website that handled cases of needing more pages. Standard US expediting via the state dept shouldn’t take more than 2 weeks, according to the anecdotal evidence I gathered when realizing I needed mine back so much sooner.

  42. So sad I don't have a name*

    DH came home last week from a visit to our home country. Now I’m starting to be annoyed with his homesickness. Mind you, we have been away for 11 years now, so this is not the first trip. He is constantly sighing, like somebody under a great sadness. It’s been 6 days like this. Yesterday he spent the afternoon looking at pictures of a trip he made to our country last year, uploading them to Facebook with messages about how much he loves the cousins in the pictures.

    In the beginning I thought somehow it was my fault, for every time he travels he gets distant: most days we chat all the time, but when he is away he barely talks to me. After a big fight probably 11, 12 years ago, I stopped asking him for attention while he is away. My friends at the time told me I was being needy, so I just stopped. But I am hurt and can’t go back to be affectionate as soon as I see him going out the doors in the airport. The 5 hours difference doesn’t make things easier, and sometimes it’s been 9 or 10 hours. So I thought, he is reacting to my not seem extra happy to have him back. Recognizing I do retire into myself when hurting, I apologized to him two days ago. But the sighs keep coming, so it’s not me.

    I’m telling you this, AAM friends, because there is nobody else to tell it. I am afraid this is going to end into “I want to go back to our country”, even more today after he told me he is not happy in his work. I do not want to go back. I do not want to live close to our families and get involved into their pettiness. How could I tell this to our families? My dearest friends also live in the country. I can’t tell them I do not want to live close.

    I am very afraid today. As if today will be the day, 5, 10, 15 years into the future, that I will tell to myself “yeah, that was the day everything started to break”. I’m always afraid he is going to change his mind about children (I can’t conceive and he has always said he’s ok with that), for example, and there will be nothing I could do. Now I am afraid that this life, that seemed so good for us until last Monday, it’s just crap for him. I feel like there is a cold hand clenching my heart. Please send me hugs.

    1. Kj*

      Hugs and a recommendation for couples counseling. You seem really worried about your relationship and you and husband are in a negative pattern. An outsider’s perspective, someone who is neutral and trained, would likely help. If husband won’t go, you go yourself. If you can’t access couple’s counseling for some reason, consider reading Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson. She talks about the pattern you are describing here. I wish you the best.

      1. No Name Yet*

        +1 to the hugs and the idea of couples counseling. Even just a few sessions of talking things out with that third party can help. (And more likely to help now vs. years from now if things do get worse.)

      2. So sad I don't have a name*

        I’m not closed to the idea of counseling, but I always wonder what they can do for people with opposite wishes. I had a friend who married somebody older than him, that had underwent a hysterectomy before they met. They married in his 30s, and at the time he said he did not care if they could not have children. 15 years later, he wanted to be a parent so badly, everything else didn’t matter. She didn’t. They went to couples counseling, and there was nothing to be done, but to let that marriage legally die civilly. None wanted to deny the other something so important, but they could not bring themselves to give in to something so important. Both of them were destroyed. I am deeply afraid of this, and probably I am extra scared precisely because I was a witness of this situation.

        1. LilyPearl*

          Not saying this applies to your relationship AT ALL, but I had a friend who went to couples counselling and they discovered the marriage was indeed over. But the counselling was incredibly helpful in helping them to have a very civilised separation, and they’ve stayed good friends. So it can be good even if the outcome isn’t what people might have hoped for. Again, this probably won’t apply to you personally, just wanted to give another view.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Yes, that is true, that could be a possible outcome.
          Or another possible outcome is a compromise. Maybe if you moved to a different area here. People who settled where I live now settled here specifically because it reminded them of home and it comforted them. This allowed them to stay put and live their lives. Personally, I moved here because where I was living did not offer me the opportunity to live the life I wanted. The two of you may find a solution in just moving from your current location to a better one near by.

          1. So sad I don't have a name*

            Truth is I’m willing to move everywhere but home. I have moved to several countries because of him, and I’ve been happy with this. I did not want to come to the US, hehe, but after several conversations I decided to come anyway, because it was good for him. It was good for me too, so the decision was the right one, but I didn’t know it when I accepted to come.

        3. Kj*

          Opposite wishes where compromise isn’t possible might doom a marriage. But for many things, compromise is possible- maybe you move to a 3rd country where both of you are more comfortable or a different part of one of the two countries y’all have lived it. Or maybe you don’t have bio kids, but adopt older kids so you skip certain stages and get to do others(although this is not as easy as I made it sound here). Or are good aunt and uncle to a friend’s kids. Either way, if that thing is so that no compromise is possible, the marriage would have died w/o couples counseling. At least with it, you know you tried all you can try. And if you do break up, counseling can help you do it well and settle it so neither is as badly hurt as you might otherwise be. Sorry you are going through this.

    2. Mazzy*

      Your relationship aside, because I can’t diagnose that and I’m not sure that the relationship would be issue-free had you not come here (or wherever), I want to say that I don’t think his reaction upon returning is off at all. I was so depressed coming back to big metro area after visiting relatives in middle America once. I was so depressed that I stayed in bed the first day and didn’t even eat. It was such a heavy depressing weight to come back. I saw how nice people were and how nice and cheap the houses were and how you could get all of these things for cheap that would be considered luxuries in the big city areas, and all the green just made me happy, so to come back and be confronted with people cursing in the streets and disgusting public bathrooms and horrible airports and the traffic and everything else I was hit with upon arrival, my mood just sank hard. I’ve also worked abroad and felt the same way your husband does at times, especially when you travel east from the US and lose sleep during the time change. Not to mention the damage done to relationships during those years, friends in the USA I lost touch with and some relatives I still haven’t reconnected with after all these years. It can be a heavy emotional toll, not feeling like you are where you belong.

      1. So sad I don't have a name*

        I do not think his reaction is off. If anything, it’s my resistance to go back what strikes me as unnatural, selfish, unloving, to him and to my family. I tend to panic every time I’m about to travel, and I have a horrible time dealing with the countless questions about my travel plans and if I’ve done my suitcase. I just can’t get excited. Going there is horrible, even if I’m not unhappy at all while in my country. Later I am so relieved to be in my place, without other eyes looking at every step I give. I do not feel guilty about being like this, just “abnormal”. It’s not his reaction what scares me, but what I am going to do if he says he wants something I don’t feel I can give, like going back.

        1. Today's anon*

          I wonder why you think your reaction is abnormal, unnatural, selfish and unloving? (that’s a lot of beating yourself up!) It seems like you are going with a learning that one should always be loyal to family and family is everything. But sometimes family is toxic and if you always feel like they are watching your every move when you are there, I would say there is some toxicity. It might be worth exploring that.

    3. Be the Change*

      Oh, Sad, so sorry this is a hard time. All the hugs. …glad you told us what is happening with you. Hang in there.

    4. Overeducated*

      That is really hard. I hope you are able to keep choosing each other in a life you are content with.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I don’t think you are too needy to want to talk to him while he is away. I am not sure why your friends are telling you that. Heck, I know people who cannot go one hour without calling or texting each other.
      When my husband went away for training, he would call once a day. Phone calls were a bigger deal thirty years ago, we found out that a 15 minute call was $25. ouch! However we worked out a system of me calling him that was much cheaper and we would set a time each day.
      It’s pretty normal for spouses to want to touch base with each other often.

      So he is out of contact with you while he is away. Then when he comes back he withholds his participation in your relationship from you. I understand that you love him, but please see that this is child-like behavior. The constant sighs have a distancing effect and it could be a passive-aggressive thing but it’s hard to tell from here. The constant sighs can be read as resentment. It would be hard not to think he resents being with you. He probably actually does not resent you, this is important to try to hang on to.

      Before you get too angry or too fearful talk to him. Ask him what he wants to do about this huge sadness he has. Don’t let this build and build because it will only get harder. Think of it as finally addressing this issue that has been going on for over a decade.

      In a way it is good that you are getting annoyed, because looking at this from several sides will help you to see what is going on. I am glad to see that you know what you want. That is a good thing.

      Sometimes the way we show our love is by our willingness to let go. In an odd turn around, maybe if you can say that you love him enough to let him go, he will decide to stay. Lead with your love and see what happens.

      Hugs and many positive wishes. Let us know how you are doing.

      1. Marcela*

        I think I explained myself badly, as always when I’m trying to explain difficult stuff :) It is me who withdraws when he is back. And this is the first time this overwhelming sadness has ever happened. He is very affectionate and expressive, I’m more about showing love through actions such as bringing him his favorite sweet, or taking out the garbage so he doesn’t have to. When he is back, he tries to touch me a lot. But if the last two days he could not be bothered to tell me good night (we did talk everyday, just somedays it was just good morning, a whole world of difference between our normal lives), I can’t really hug or kiss him back. So I let myself be hugged, but I do not return the hug. I do not want to act like this, so I apologized to him and our cat, to whom I did the exact same thing, anticipating that once his favorite human is back, I was going to get invisible again.

        As this week went on, I did think at some point that all that sadness was about me. That was when I got annoyed :) I mean, if coming back to me was so insufferable that he was sighing all day thinking about home, well, at least I expected him to be brave enough to tell me that. How he could not see that I could interpret his sadness as “I am so sad to be in this place with my wife again”. I can deal with the stuff in front of me: it’s the shadows full of possibilities that terrify me. Then I remembered the advice in this site and also the Captain Awkward, and that all this time I have been doing the best I can with the signals and knowledge I have. I can’t and refuse to be a mind reader. However, this is where I become so afraid I can’t sleep. For I know I can’t be a mind reader, so no matter what I do, well, I can only do half of the work required to make this a happy marriage. But I’ve seen my parents fail. I know my in-laws failed. My grandparents, although together to the end, could not be described as happy couples. My aunts and uncles… better not to talk about them. My friends? Nope. Everywhere I look, I don’t see a couple like I want us to be, and like I thought we were until I came from work last Monday. Suddenly this week was like a schism appeared between us, and while I know that has always been a possibility, I am afraid. And for me, being this afraid is always cold and sad. I can’t explain these daemons to most of my people. They will tell me there is no reason to worry, and if I could just not worry, I would be rich now!

        As an update of sorts, it seems something happened earlier today. He left in the early morning, I did not ask where he was going or why. When he came back, he was almost back to normal. We’ll see what happens. I am, as always, very grateful for all your comments, advice and company.

  43. Sheep*

    My tailbone is killing me! It was hurting a bit when I went to bed yesterday, but I woke up and could barely move. I’ve spent the day walking around like an old woman. I mean, I went to a friend’s baby shower, and I couldn’t sit. I’m in bed now, but have to position myself in weird angles (and move very, very slowly). I haven’t fallen over or hit the tailbone in any way that I know of. I do sometimes have some hip pain that I’m thinking may be connected in some way? That, coupled with spending some hours in a mall (awful, hard floors) might have caused it? I have no idea, really. I sometimes feel a bit of pain in the tailbone when I do yoga, and I figure I’ve overdone something and so I keep the deep stretches to a minimum. But this is insane!!

    Anyone experience something similar?

    1. fposte*

      Yes. There are a bunch of different things it can be aside from a direct blow; my most common one is when something in the pelvic girdle has tightened up so the muscular force couple is off, though it can also be related to spinal and sciatic nerves. Any chance you could go to a massage therapist?

      1. Sheep*

        I think I will have to. It has eased up a bit now, and so I’ve been out on a nice little walk, which felt good. But it definitely feels like something is not in the right place.

    2. Rogue*

      I had horrible lower back, hip, and groin pain that got worse when sitting. I went to a chiropractor recently and found out my SI joint was out of alignment. I was also told I had to stop sleeping on my stomach, it was part of the problem. I had adjustments done a few times and am finally starting to feel better. I have noticed that cold and shoes with poor support irritate the problem when there’s pain. Based on where you said the pain is, it’s possible it could be your SI joint.

      1. Amadeo*

        Yup, this is what I was about to suggest too. I am recovered from SI joint dysfunction and man let me tell you that pinches like no other. Like somebody got their fingers up under the sheet of muscle that covers that joint and dug in. Shifting weight while standing, trying to turn over in bed (which, yes, had to be done very carefully) and even for a short time, stairs and sneezing!

        Physical therapy didn’t really help, but the chiropractor did. He’d pull that joint back into place and the relief was almost instant when he did. I put up with the electric dex patches that feel like bees, the hammer thing up and down my back to get to the part where he pulled on my hips.

        Might be worth a visit to a good chiropractor just in case.

        1. Sheep*

          Hmm, sounds like it could be something like this. I will definitely try to get to a chiropractor or physio. Thanks for your replies, guys!

    3. MommyMD*

      Make sure there is no redness or tender spot developing. This could be an abscess. Check your skin well.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Yes, this could be a hip problem or you may have pulled a muscle in your butt. I am sitting here with the latter problem now. Do you pick things up often? I mean like lifting things off the floor? Have you done any heavy lifting lately?

      I’d definitely recommend a chiropractor.

      While you are waiting to get to your appointment you can:

      Buy a belt to put around your hips. This is like a lifting belt but it has no suspenders. The top of the belt should be three inches below your hip bone. Since you are having difficulty right when you wake up, wear the belt to bed. Maybe a friend will go get one for you?

      You can take some calcium if you would like. Sometimes calcium can calm muscles.

      I like peppermint oil. Put a few drops on your finger and rub it on the sore muscle.
      But you can also go with a creme for achy back muscles.

      You might have luck alternating hot and cold packs, start with 5 minutes with a hot pack then move to 3 minutes with a cold pack. Repeat. Then end with 5 minutes with a hot pack.

      I’d also recommend stopping the yoga until you find out what is going on, but from the sounds of it you have probably stopped already.
      I hope you feel better soon.

  44. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    1) Enjoying the new place, and the SO likes it too. I just wish things were easier–that his job were closer to my place. Currently takes 30 min for him to get to work. If he moves to my place, it turns into a 1 hour+ commute (yikes!) How do people fix this?

    2) Also, I barely use internet except to post here, check email. Plus I got email at work. Instead of signing up for Xfinity or Verizon, can I just use the apartment lobby and lounge’s free wifi (i.e. to do my taxes?) I plan on using TurboTax. I can’t do it on my work computer because no external software allowed. Thoughts? What might be pro’s or (unexpected) cons of just using lobby/lounge wifi? Can I get away with it?

    3) And much as I love my SO, I’m a dreamer and a doer, and he thinks things through….a really (to me, agonizingly) long time and I’m a “jump, sink or swim, full throttle” person. We do compliment each other well. But–how do I rein in my “omfg just hurry up and make a decision/move in already/ stop overthinking what could go wrong/think positive?” He has seen a lot of bad in his childhood (divorce, family stuff) which is different in some and similar in some ways. Thoughts?

    1. Sibley*

      1. SO find a new job closer to your place? You move to his place? SO telecommute a few days a week?

      2. Try it out. Unplug your wifi for a month and just use the lobby. If it doesn’t work, you’ll know.

      3. Meet in the middle? SO figure out how to speed up the thinking it through process a bit, and you figure out how to think things through before jumping in.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      About #2, as someone who does IT stuff for a living, I wouldn’t use an open wifi access point for anything sensitive. Does your apt. complex wifi require a password? If it’s open, don’t use it for anything sensitive, as it could be spoofed or hacked fairly easily. (Although I know TurboTax uses HTTPS and two-factor authentication, so it’s not a huge risk…still not worth it, IMO.)

      1. Natalie*

        Would tethering to their cell service be sufficiently secure? Could be a good option if you only need a secure connection a few times a year.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Yes, using your phone as a hot spot is pretty secure, as every phone I’ve had has allowed me to use WPA2 encryption, which is the gold standard for home wifi. I’ve actually started doing that a lot when I’m traveling, as I would hardly use my data otherwise, since I’m usually at home or at work, where I have access to free wifi anyway.

        1. Observer*

          A lot of VPN’s are not as secure as you would think. Don’t use one unless you know exactly what you are doing.

    3. Observer*

      Don’t do anything like taxes on the Lounge WiFi- you might as well broadcast your taxes on a bill board. Also, it’s likely to be slow.

      What are you using for phone service?

    4. CAA*

      For #2 – have you considered using TurboTax online? You don’t have to install anything, so maybe you could do your taxes on your work computer that way.

      Cons of using the lobby wifi are that you can’t stream or download video unless you’re within range. Do you have to go to the lobby, or does the signal reach your apartment?

    5. ..Kat..*

      Oh my God, NO! Do not do anything involving your money, finances, or purchasing (from a website) on unsecured wifi. And any wifi that isn’t your own, password protected wifi is unsecured.

      As for him moving in with you. If I remember correctly, you just recently moved out on your own. Previously, you had been living with your mom, and she was very controlling. If I am correct, I recommend that you live on your own for at least a year. You have a lot of growing to do. A lot of finding out just who you are.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      #3 When a fast person and a deliberative person couple up it is constant compromises. Eyes wide open here, if this does not change are you willing to still be dealing with this indecision in 20 years?, 30 years? Think carefully.
      Relationships go best when each person is using a similar life pace. It could be in this setting that when the fast person tells the deliberative person to hurry up, then the deliberative person goes even SLOWER. Almost like a passive-aggressive behavior but the deliberative person just cannot take the pressure.
      Couples can almost come to blows over this if they do not find a path through it.

      If a fast paced person commits to a deliberative person, then the fast paced person will not end up with the life they expect. A couple cannot move forward if one of them is lagging behind.

      So your question is how do you rein this in.
      1) Ask yourself if you are running towards something or running away from something.
      2)Build your own stuff that you have control over the timing and the pacing.
      3) Ask yourself if the rest of my life went like this, would I stay with this guy?
      4) Decide what is important to you and what is not. This means tuning out your parents and your friends and just thinking about what you want yourself.

    7. Stellaaaaa*

      I wouldn’t move in with my partner if it would double the length of my commute. Doesn’t matter how much I love him, it’s not going to happen. My last relationship actually ended because of this: he kept pressuring me to move in with him in the house that was way closer to his job, as if his job and commute were more important than mine. That’s a really lousy thing to imply to a partner. Did you jump and rent the apartment without him in the hopes that he would feel propelled to move in with you once you made the option available to him? NEVER make your own individual life choices with a man in mind, and don’t get into the habit of making people’s excuses for them. Lots of people survive divorce and crappy childhoods. At the risk of sounding too blunt, I don’t think your SO is going to move in with you unless something with his job situation changes. He’s already giving you his answer.

  45. Elizabeth West*

    Anybody here who practices Buddhism?

    I was raised Catholic, and I don’t really go to church or consider myself a part of it anymore, though I’m not an atheist. But I do want to have some spirituality in my life. I want to explore parts of Buddhism, particularly the mindfulness and meditative aspects. I think these are things that would be good for me.

    There is a temple here and a meditation group who is allowed to meet there–they have a meditation every Saturday morning at 9-10:30. I did some checking and the group mostly practice the Theravada tradition, which seems like a good place to start for basic stuff, from what I read. The family who run my favorite Chinese place are Buddhist (they have an altar with a big gold Buddha in the restaurant with incense and fruit and I’m pretty sure it’s not just a decoration). I could ask them about it too–they know me and I think they would understand why I’m asking.

    The group’s website said if you come to the meditation, come a little early so they can orient you. They don’t ask for donations but mention that they are appreciated, for use of the temple, I guess. I’m very tempted to try it and since I’m not skating on Saturday mornings anymore, I have time to attend the meditation and see what it’s like. They also have classes and stuff, though none are on the schedule right now.

    I’m looking more for a new philosophy and peace, rather than a worshipful experience. What do you think? Any advice? Am I being weird?

    1. Trixie*

      I love this idea, especially on Saturday mornings. I was just thinking on the way home today if I don’t have something structured on the weekends, the days just slip away from me. Getting up and going is crucial for me, especially since I don’t find my time at home relaxing. (Living with family and all.) The university I work at offers weekly meditations on early Monday afternoons which is lovely but most of us are working then.

      Go for it!

    2. Jean who seeks to be Ingenious*

      This doesn’t sound weird at all to me. Wanting to have some spirituality in your life, wanting to explore mindfulness and meditation, and wanting to have a new philosophy and some peace are all positive reasons to move in this direction. I hope you find some or all of what you seek.

      The world is a complicated place. It can be very comforting and self-sustaining to have a place in which to reflect on public and personal events. Some of us find our spiritual home within our dominant family tradition, or some variation on it. Some of us find our spiritual home somewhere else. Thankfully, in most parts of the modern world we have the right to decide this for ourselves.

    3. hermit crab*

      Ugh, I wrote a long comment in response to this and then my laptop ran out of charge and died, and took the comment with it!

      Anyway, I think you should totally go for it, and you’re not being weird at all. You might also want to look up “Jewish Buddhists” — there’s an established tradition of people who are culturally/theisticly Jewish who also practice Buddhist meditation. Obviously, you are coming from a different faith tradition, but you might still find some of the readings interesting.

      1. George*

        My daughter fits that description — we call her “culturally Jewish” but she’s been involved in Shambhala Buddhism for more than five years. I’m ex-Catholic but go with her sometimes; I’m not comfortable with organised religion but find the meditation service relaxing.

    4. SeekingBetter*

      I’m kind of a practicing Buddhist. What I really like about the Buddhism I practice is that it emphasizes accepting other people’s beliefs as they are. There are many different types of Buddhism (ex. Zen Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, etc.) to practice/study, so as you’re exploring, you’ll find out what one Buddhist religious group does over what another one does or believes. I think if you allow yourself to learn and explore, there really isn’t a right or wrong thing about it.

    5. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I studied Buddhism as a philosophy rather than a religious practice, although I practiced zazen meditation and found it wonderfully calming. It definitely can be as much of a philosophy/practice as a religion like we’re used to in the West. I think most religions are fine with introducing and guiding people who are just curious, but I also suggest reading Chop Wood, Carry Water; The Tao of Pooh; and Zen and the Art of Archery. I found those to be very instructive.

    6. SadieMae*

      My family and I are atheist/agnostic, and we attend a Unitarian Universalist church. The idea behind UUism is that everyone is encouraged to follow his/her own spiritual path as long as it dovetails with the seven principles of UUism, which are based in justice, kindness, helping others, that sort of thing. Many UU congregations have Buddhist and meditation groups – ours are very popular.

      UUism is a really nice way to enjoy being part of a church community, do service projects, teach kids about moral issues, and explore various spiritual traditions if you like, even if you aren’t traditionally religious. One caveat: some UU congregations are more humanist and science-minded, others are liberal Christian, others are more New Age-y. Reading their websites can give you a good sense of that particular congregation and whether you would feel at home.

      1. LilyPearl*

        Quakers, also. I don’t know much about Quakerism but like the idea of “holding people in the light”, and their commitment to social justice.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I’m not really looking for fellowship or community right now, and especially not here–but I will keep this in mind. If I had even the smallest hope of having kids, it would probably fit really well.

  46. hermit crab*

    I am in a tea rut.

    I like to drink herbal tea at work — I put it in a big insulated travel mug and sip it all afternoon at my desk to keep warm, stay hydrated, avoid snacking, etc. But I am so tired of all the usual options. Does anyone have any recommendations? I like citrus and hibiscus (but I really need to take a break from Lemon Zinger); I’d prefer to avoid anything too perfumey (e.g. with bergamot, rosehips, licorice, cloves). I’m all for mint, chamomile, and ginger but I feel like I’ve been drinking them forever. Please tell me what blends/brands you like!

    p.s. I don’t need any black tea recommendations. Red Rose for life!!! I just try to avoid caffeine in the afternoons (and am trying to not stain my teeth so much). :)

    1. Jenbug*

      I buy the vast majority of my tea from Adagio. They have a ton of different types and blends.

      My favorite non-caffeinated tea is Super Ginger from David’s though.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Oh I had a peach tea that I absolutely LOVED. I have not been able to find it and I can’t really remember the brand. It was yummy.

    2. FDCA In Canada*

      I’m a big fan of Stash Tea. Their lemon ginger is my favourite, followed by licorice spice, but I know people who are super keen on cinnamon vanilla and their red chai. I also like Tetley’s line of herbal teas: honey lemon, chamomile lemon, ginger mint, wildberries, and cinnamon spice. (Although they changed the cinnamon spice in the last few years and I’m less fond of it than I used to be.)

    3. Cas*

      Pukka and Celestial Seasonings are me go-to brands with millions of interesting flavours and lots of non-caffeine options :)

    4. mreasy*

      Yogi Tea is pretty widely available, I think. Mayan Cocoa Spice is fantastic…and just in general, they have a lot of really great non-caffeinated teas. They do a spicy rooibos blend whose name is escaping me that I also love.

    5. Lady Julian*

      Tea Forte makes some excellent kinds; I’m enjoying their honey fig right now. I also love lemon ginger, though I usually get Celestial Seasonings brand (or Twinings if I can find it, but that’s difficult in the USA).

    6. Amtelope*

      If you like Lemon Zinger, Tazo’s Passion is a good hibiscus/orange tea; it does have rose hips, but at least to me that’s not a strong flavor in the mix. Teavana is a little pricey, but their Citrus Lavender Sage, Raspberry Balsamico (berries, hibiscus, balsamic vinegar — this one does have rose hips too), and Limeade Twist (citrus and pineapple) are all awesome.

    7. Anonyme*

      I like making/adding fresh things to my tea. So sometimes I’ll have shaved green apple, ginger slices, citrus slices etc…

    8. Blue_eyes*

      Kusmi tea has lots of interesting flavors. It’s not inexpensive, but can be worth it for tea lovers. They have some stores and also sell online.

    9. Annie Mouse*

      I love rooibos (redbush) tea. Completely caffeine free but I find it a bit nicer than both black tea and also most herbal teas.

    10. NDR*

      I recently discovered Rishi Turmeric Ginger tea and love it. It has what they describe as a “lemon drop” finish, so a little sweet and lemony in addition to the spices.

  47. Wrench Turner*

    Super Bowl Slow Cooker Sunday (since I feel like I did nothing else at all today)
    Smokey Coconut Pork Shoulder
    1 big bone-in pork shoulder
    1 can coconut milk
    1 stalk lemon grass minced – about 4 tbs
    2tbs sesame oil
    2 chipotles w/ adobo sauce (about 2 tbs)
    2 tbs sweet chili sauce
    1 tsp curry powder
    3 tbs sweet soy sauce
    2 tsp ground cumin
    1/2 tsp smoked paprika
    1 tbs mirin sweet sake
    4 fat tbs minced garlic
    3 fat tbs minced ginger
    2tbs fresh cilantro minced
    4 oz soju

    Cut in to the shoulder all the way to the bone about 2 inches apart and place skin side up in lined slow cooker. this will make shredding easier.
    Combine all the rest of the ingredients except soju and pour over shoulder. Pour 3 oz soju over the shoulder saying “May the ancestors not punish me for any stupid sports bets I may lose.” Drink remaining soju.
    Set on low for at least 9 hours -I’m doing mine overnight to serve tomorrow.
    When done, shred up in to a pot with juices. Cook on a stovetop on high stirring frequently until liquids reduce by about 1/2. This will concentrate the flavors.

    Serve with kimchi, steamed rice and tortillas, like a taco.

    1. Wrench Turner*

      In cooking down phase, I ended up adding another 2tbs sweet soy sauce and maybe 3 tbs honey, and a maybe 1/2 tsp salt. It’s crazy delicious.
      I hope the birds win. I like birds.

  48. Cath in Canada*

    So, I’ve wanted a nose piercing for years – I think a simple silver stud would look really good on me, and a couple of friends who I trust to give honest opinions have said the same. I’m turning 40 in a couple of weeks, which seems like a good excuse to go for it. BUT I’m worried that it’ll be gross when I get a cold. Thoughts?

    1. Kittens*

      I have a double hoop (two small piercings right next to each other) and a cold right now — it’s no more or less miserable with a pierced nose than without. I’ve had studs in the past and I will say the hoop was a little easier to deal with overall, but in my experience in general, once it’s healed and in for awhile, you get so used to it that it’s as if there’s nothing there

    2. Red*

      I have a septum piercing and it’s just fine with a cold, if a little inconvenient when blowing my nose. It will be fine.

    3. Temperance*

      I have had it for over 10 years, and have bad allergies, and it’s honestly fine. If I’m really sick, I pop it out.

    4. Persephone Mulberry*

      I’ve had my stud for almost 7 years and I literally never take it out, and I’ve blown my nose plenty. The inside part of the stud is actually kind of a J-shape that sits flush against the inside of your nostril, out of the way. (Tip: if it feels “loose” after the initial swelling goes down, go back and have them adjust the fit.)

  49. New car*

    We bt the bullet and bought a luxury car this weekend- a brand new bmw 430i.

    DH and I have been earning a lot of money but contributing to live well under our means. We needed a new car and since we tend to drive our cars 7-10+ years, the next time we’d be replacing a car we’d be in our 40s.

    We’ve never owned a car this nice. We’ve never owned a non-leased* new car. We literally woke up and realized we don’t want to die with all this cash we’ve been working so hard to save and never own anything nice. Our retirement funds are in good shape, we are on track to pay what we want/need to pay for kids, just cleared out student loan debt, have a manageable mortgage in our “forever” house.

    DH is over the moon. I’m psyched because we agreed I get a kitchen Reno in the next 18 months if DH gets the BMW.

    *only time we leased was when it was laughably cheap (payments ~$90/mo), and I was using it as a biz expense so a lease was far easier to track.

      1. New car*

        I’ve poked around on the site before. Is there a specific reason you suggest it? We have a solid financial plan and I know full well buying a brand new sports car is like setting money on fire. All our other financial goals are set/met/on track. We are realizing as we get older that it’s OK to indulge- we can afford it and we work HARD and have saved a lot in our careers to date. We don’t do a lot of indulging which is why this is so terrifying/fun.

        1. CAA*

          Congrats on the new car! Enjoy the splurge.

          I agree that mrmoneymustache is not for everyone. There’s a kind of hyper-frugality competition that seems to happen there. DH and I decided some time ago that we prefer a more balanced lifestyle and want some luxuries while still saving enough to retire early (just not as early as the MMM folks are aiming for.)

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Yay! We were in a similar situation with our recent new car cash purchase that I mentioned in last week’s open thread. We’re in our mid-forties, but we’re pretty set for retirement, and we were driving two old, paid-off cars, so we finally decided since we had enough saved, we’d buy a nice, new car (Subaru Outback Limited). I’m loving how it’s completely keyless (you need to have a key within a very specified range, but then you can just touch the door handle to unlock it or push the start button). At this point we could retire if we just wanted to stay home and live frugally, but we’d like to keep saving so we can travel a lot when we retire.

      1. New car*

        OMG of it were up to me we’d be in a Subaru Outback. My other (non kitchen) deal with DH was when our SUV goes (sadly it’s got lots of time left, *only* 7 years old and healthy as a horse) I get to pick. And it’s going to be a suby.