weekend free-for-all – March 11-12, 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: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, by Winifred Watson. A decidedly un-glamorous governess accidentally becomes the personal assistant to a nightclub singer. It’s a delight.

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

{ 1,168 comments… read them below }

    1. Undine*

      I was wondering if you were going to follow up Major Pettigrew with Miss Pettigrew! I see the Pettigrew theme was irresistible.

      1. Confused Publisher*

        Currently re-reading this for book club; liking it as much this time! The two books really haven’t much in common, but I’m always reminded of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes when I read this book.

  1. Me2*

    Husband surprised me with a weekend visit home from my son and his girlfriend. Best birthday present ever!

      1. Hoorah*

        I totally skim read this and saw it as “my husband surprised me with a visit from his girlfriend!” Lol. Was about to say, you are one understanding woman…

        1. Jean who seeks to be Ingenious*

          I had the same reaction and the accompanying double-take “say what…Ohhh” moment of enlightenment.
          Enjoy your family visit!

    1. Trix*

      That’s awesome, happy early birthday! I hope you have an amazing time!

      My brother and I colluded to surprise our parents this past Christmas, they were going to be with my sister and brother already, but didn’t think me and my husband would be able to make it (several states away and a job that allows basically no time off in December). This was the first Christmas in something like 5-7 years they had all three of their kids together. They were so happy and so surprised and it’s probably the best present I’ve ever been a part of giving someone.

  2. Lucy Westenra*

    I just wanted to thank everyone for their car advice last weekend. I got the car I was looking at (05 Pontiac), then temporarily freaked out over auto insurance prices (several of the quotes I got were more than my rent), but everything’s fine now, though I’ll have to replace the fan belt some time soon. I recently drove to one of the southern suburbs of the city I live in to apply for one of those non-weekend things, and it handles pretty well. Having a car is just … awesome. I can just go places. Anywhere I want. No trains, buses, or scamming rides off of friends. I can just go. The one problem I’ve had so far with cars is that you have to park them. That’s annoying.

    1. Alice*

      Wow, I was coming to this thread to ask advice about car buying, but now I can just look at last week’s post. Safe driving!

      1. Alice*

        Ok, back from last week. Some of those stories are terrifying – the dealer replacing the new tires with bald ones between the inspection and the closing?!

        Some questions inspired by last week’s discussion:
        1. When you buy a car “in cash,” does that literally mean cash? Or check? Or cashier’s check? If the last, how do you get it for the right amount – have a cashier’s check made up for a lowball amount and then supplement with a personality check?
        2. Do you think you still need a checkup from an independent mechanic/AAA if you buy certified pre-owned?
        3. Buying in person from a dealer in a state where you don’t live: bad idea, or it doesn’t matter?

        1. Cars*

          Buying a car in “cash” from a dealer means credit card (though some will limit the amount you charge – I like to charge as much as possible for the cash back & pay with the first statement, not paying credit card interest) or a personal check.

          If you are buying from a 3rd party (Craigslist or whatever), you usually need actual cash or a cashier check.

          Pro tip if you get a cashier’s check: make sure you get it made out to “Your Name OR Car Seller” because if you don’t end up buying the car from that seller, you want to be able to just deposit the check back into your bank account!!

          If buying from a dealer in a state you don’t live, make sure you know your state’s inspection requirements because it can differ from state to state & you might end up having to pay to get stuff fixed.

          1. designbot*

            Also worth noting: if you use a personal check, you’ll have to have full-coverage insurance to drive it off the lot. The reason behind this is that until the check clears in a few days, the dealer doesn’t really have the money, and they want to protect what they still see as their property until the money is actually in their hands. So if you’re counting on being able to skate by with the bare minimum of insurance, this may not be the easiest way.

        2. chickabiddy*

          “When you buy a car “in cash,” does that literally mean cash? Or check? Or cashier’s check? If the last, how do you get it for the right amount – have a cashier’s check made up for a lowball amount and then supplement with a personality check?”

          I get a cashier’s check for a lowball amount and bring cash for the rest, even though that makes me uneasy.

          CPO usually comes with a decent warranty so if that holds true, I would not feel the need for an independent check. However, if the dealer is out of state, be careful if the warranty is tied specifically to that dealership.

          1. Chickaletta*

            When you buy a car in cash, it just means that you didn’t finance it. You can pay any way you mentioned above. If you need a cashier’s check, dealers will allow you to go to the bank and come back with the check for the agreed amount. If they fight you on this, then they’re probably someone you shouldn’t be buying a car from.

        3. Artemesia*

          We wrote a check on our account to the dealer; we always pay cash for cars now and drive them for at least 10 years. When you buy from a private person the deal is usually cash or cashier’s check. Because cashier’s checks can be forged, cash may be safer. When we sold a car for cash we also got the individual’s driver’s license number in case the cashier’s check we accepted turned out to be bad.

            1. Chickaletta*

              No, you’d need a lawyer. Plus, if it’s a fake check, it’s very possibly a fake name and fake address, so how would you find the person who now has your car?

        4. dragonzflame*

          We just negotiated a price based on cash and told them we could go get a bank cheque straightaway. As it turned out, that wasn’t necessary and we were able to pay via internet banking (a standard payment method here in NZ). We’d have been screwed if they’d needed a personal cheque – neither of us has owned a chequebook in at least 10 years!

        5. Not So NewReader*

          2) It would be wrong of me to tell you not to have it checked by your own mechanic. It’s wise to have someone YOU are paying to check for you. This goes for houses also.

          3) In my state it’s a half day’s work running to the insurance company, DMV and an inspection station. But if you have the time, it’s probably okay. I bought my current car in another state. They gave me temporary “paper” plates good for ten days. I called my insurance company first because they are right near where I work. Insurance in hand, the next day I ran to DMV. Then I stopped to have it inspected. Between those three stops I shelled out about 450 bucks. Most of that was for NYS sales tax.

          Our problem here is that NY has stricter air pollution requirements than the state I purchased it in. However the place that I bought it from does a good job because they know that many of their customers come from NY. My new-to-me car had no problems being inspected.

          You could hit some snags for example if you wanted warranty work done, then you would have to go back to that state. It’s a lot of running. If they don’t take your car in trade then that is more work.

          I had a friend help me, who knew the ropes so the process was not too bad.

        6. JKP*

          3. Buying from a state where you don’t live – depends on the state. I’ve lived in states where the first time you register a car from a different state, they tack on a huge “impact fee” for bringing the car into the state. If the car was already registered or purchased in that state, you didn’t have to pay the fee, because presumably it had already been paid by the previous owner or dealership. So doublecheck if there are any extra fees in your state for out of state cars.

    2. the gold digger*

      If changing the fan belt requires clearing everything out so that the water pump is accessible, spend the extra $40 and replace the water pump as well. Or else you will be like me, when the mechanic had asked, “Should I just replace the water pump, too? It’s $40 extra” and I say no and then three months later, because of a bad seal (that probably cost two cents and Toyota saved one cent by getting the cheap seals), discover you have to replace the water pump anyhow.

      Which will not cost only $40 because all the money for that replacement is in the labor to get to the part, so you will spend $400 instead of $40.

      Just get the new pump while you’re at it.


      1. Marcela*

        Your experience, gold digger, is particularly important since that Pontiac 05 is a Toyota Matrix in disguise… I know because I have one :D

          1. the gold digger*

            I think that’s what it was, Hellanon! I kept thinking I used to change my fan belts myself but that there was an expensive belt. It’s the timing belt. Change your water pump when you change your timing belt.

            1. Hellanon*

              Yeah, the timing belt is expensive to get to, but it’s way more expensive to have it fail without warning. My mechanic suggested replacing mine when he noticed that the fan belt was deteriorating, and it seemed like a good suggestion for reasons I won’t gt into here. Not cheap, though.

    3. Dan*


      What are the specifics of the auto insurance? What’s the total premium for the six month period? Is it liability or full coverage? What kind of driving history do you have? Where do you live? For an ’05 pontiac, you really don’t need full coverage, and liability only should be pretty cheap.

      TBH, “insurance costs as much as my rent” doesn’t mean that much. In comparison, my full coverage auto policy costs me $55/mo and my rent costs me $1500. The most I ever paid was $200/mo for full coverage when I was young and bought my first car. That insurance premium costs as much as my car payment, and it was still nowhere near my rent.

      1. Lucy Westenra*

        Highest quote I got was $675/month for minimum legal coverage. Cheapest policy I could find was about $120/month for the minimum legal coverage. Hopefully that will go down once I establish that I am not a reckless driver. I live in a big city, which can increase your premiums.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          Check Travelers if you haven’t.

          I had Hartford and my premium went up when we sold my son’s 1998 4Runner and put him in our 2003 Silverado. I was pissed* that we were paying more to insure one vehicle fewer (4 to 3), and checked around, and saved ***60%*** combined on my auto and home policy. My agent said Hartford raised rates recently and Traveler’s dropped them.

          *I understand moving a 19 yo driver from a 1998 to a late model car would be pricey, but the vehicle he is primary driver on is still 14 years old.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Traveler’s. Amen.

            My house and my car totaled around $800/year.
            And they offer free roadside assistance. (Think free Triple A.)

        2. chickabiddy*

          That really, really seems high. I pay $66/month for full coverage (liability, collision, and comprehensive) with high-ish limits and low-ish deductibles. I have a good driving record and a loyalty discount, and I don’t live in a big city, so I do understand why you would pay more, but not *that* much more. It might be worth it to sit down with an actual insurance broker and see if he or she can point you in a better direction.

          Enjoy your new car!

          1. Dan*

            Yeah, I pay a little less than that, and live in suburban Washington DC. I’m not sure how zip codes impact premiums, but OP doesn’t seem to live in a high COLA metro area if her rent is that cheap. (Or she rents from a group home.)

            Premiums come down when you’ve been with the same insurer for awhile, and you get older, and keep your record clean.

            When I was in my early 20’s, I lived in Arlington, VA, and my full coverage policy was $200/mo.

            1. chickabiddy*

              I know I would pay less if my deductibles were higher, but I am in a short-term (hopefully) cash flow crunch and I am choosing to pay $10 or so more each month for this six-month term rather than risk having to come up with $1000 out of pocket.

          2. Lucy Westenra*

            I ended up taking the $120/month policy just because I needed to start driving right away. I did call a broker and they also gave me an estimate in the $300 range. But thanks for the advice.

            1. Punkwich*

              I think it really depends on where you are – I have/had insurance at $244/month in Canada as a young female driver and am expecting it to go up to at LEAST $300/month cause I just got into an at-fault accident.

              Just put a deposit on the replacement for my black-ice wrecked first car though! Same car, same year, different colour.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          Insurance only goes up. It won’t go down unless you change companies.

          I always have a hard time remembering what I paid the previous year, so I have to look it up. Keep an eye on how much you are paying and if it goes up too much for you, switch companies.

          I use an insurance agency. The reason I do is that they shop for me. Here’s the catch, when you pick an agency you want to ask how many insurance companies they represent/do sales for. My agency handles 120 companies.

          My friend’s agency handles THREE companies. His insurance bill for two OLD vehicles hit $1200 this year. I told my friend about my agency. He went there, sure enough the agent reduced his bill by 50%. They have more companies therefore more choices.

          1. Audiophile*

            Is an insurance agency like Lending Tree for auto insurance?

            I’ve been shopping around. Mine has fluctuated a bit recently because my new car discount went away. I tried switching to e-surance but they have zero tolerance policy for PIP claims. I’ll have to wait another year and ask again, if I still have the car.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I am not seeing where Lending Tree does insurance. It could be I missed something.
              You might check out driver’s safety courses to see if you can get a discount. In my state you can do the course online from home. It takes 8 hours to complete. I was surprised because the online course was not as boring as I thought it would be. You get 10% off a part of your insurance. This pays for the course the first year. Then you get that same discount for the next two years.

              You can also find discounts for paying in cash and for paying in full. (5% for each) with some companies. Be sure to ask what discounts are available.

              1. Audiophile*

                Lending Tree doesn’t do insurance, but the way you described your insurance agency made me think of that. That you have your pick of quotes to choose from, without having to visit individual websites.

                I’m planning to take the online course, as it will save me some money.

    4. The Other Dawn*

      I’m going to be so sad when it’s time to shop for a car, because they don’t make Pontiacs anymore. :( That’s all I’ve owned for many years now.

      1. JKP*

        That’s how I felt when Saturn went away. My old Saturn lasted 275,000 miles and the only work I ever needed was regular oil changes, replacing old batteries and worn out tires. Never did any of the other recommended maintenance like changing the transmission fluid. It started needing everything under the sun at the very end, so after that many miles I just replaced it. My car now has needed more maintenance and repairs in 60,000 miles than that Saturn did its entire life.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          My husband has a 60+ mile commute one way. He was looking for a Saturn for the longest time because of the awesome gas mileage. He found one finally, and it lasted him several years (he bought it with high mileage). Never needed much maintenance at all.

        2. Noah*

          A Saturn was my first car. It was small but reliable and great on gas. I bought it with 180k miles and it lasted to well over 300k. We replaced a few parts along the way like the alternator and water pump but nothing major besides maintenance. The clutch finally went out and it was going to be several hundred dollars to get it fixed. That’s when I bought a new car.

    5. ..Kat..*

      Please get your fan belt fixed ASAP. If you wait until it dies, you can end up with a large repair bill. That said, I’m glad you are enjoying your new freedom!

  3. regina phalange*

    any college basketball fans out there? my team is playing in its conference final and I’m hoping for a deep run in the NCAA tourney!

      1. regina phalange*

        Sorry to hear that. I’ve been there. Or even worse, when your team isn’t even good enough to get to the NIT either.

        1. Mt*

          I feel like they arent good enough for the NIT, but they are a big name in college sports and will get in on name alone. I would post the name but too many blue fans in this thread

          1. regina phalange*

            can you post the conference? I could probably guess based on that (and keep it to myself). No worries if not though!

    1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I never watch men’s basketball but I LIVE for March Madness! The drama, the last minute finishes, the excitement of a deep run by an unknown group of upstarts (my school was the Cinderella in ’04 and it was so exciting – New York Times on campus and everything, almost even went to the Elite Eight if we had beaten GA Tech) all the games and the excitement in the office with bracket chat and, one place I worked, they hooked up a projector in one room and played everything all day long and people would drift in and out.

      Now I live overseas and its harder to catch the games but we will watch some of them. Other Half’s team (Wisconsin) went almost all the way in 2015 and it was a bummer waking up to find they had lost. The last two weeks I have been glued to Bracketology on different sites getting a feel for who is up this year and its impossible to explain to foreign coworkers exactly WHAT I am looking at :)

      Its essentially great sports filler into the start of spring sports – the Masters golf is the weekend after and then baseball starts up (although as a Brewers fan….).

      1. regina phalange*

        Wisconsin beat Purdue last night! That was a good win for them. I don’t think my team, Villanova, can top what they did last year with the championship winning buzzer beating 3-pointer, however getting in to the second weekend would be nice.

      2. DogNerd*

        I also love March Madness. I love the excitement of the games. Also wanted to say I am a Brewers fan as well, so I feel your pain. As I tell my boyfriend every year, it’s a rebuilding year.

        1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

          It’s been a rebuilding year every year since 1982. But nothing beats going to a game at Miller Park at least once a summer and making sure to do a proper tailgate before.

          So long as they are better than the Twins, thats all I care about :)

    2. Delta Delta*

      My local team gets in if they win their conference tourney, so that’s exciting. My team team, though, is a big 10 team that had a bit of a plane crash this week, and it seems like they could get in. Between this and Kentucky Derby prep races, it’s one of my favorite sports times of the year!

    3. OhNoNotAgain*

      Yup, playing in about a half hour.

      Hope we don’t go out in the first round like last year. I love this time of year! And I can’t wait to start filling out some brackets. I bet everyone’s will be busted after the first 2 days–there is so much parity this year.

    4. AliceBD*

      My team won the NCAA tournament while I was a student, and while I’m not a huge sports fan in general and haven’t watched much basketball since college (and in college only attended 2 games in person and watched the rest from the comfort of common rooms in dorms), that will always stand out as one of the best nights of college, and probably a highlight of my life. The camaraderie on campus was amazing.

      This year we thought we were going to be beaten by our main rival in the conference tournament, but we’re still in! I doubt we’ll go very far overall, but it was great to beat them.

    5. Gaia*

      I’m a huge Zags fan which means I will be, of course, disappointed when they lose too early again this year. Like every year. Because Mark Few is a terrible freaking coach who can’t get more than 2 players worthy of tournament play.

      But who knows, I mean – the Cubs won the World Series, right?

  4. Searcher*

    Though I’m still searching for work, this is going to be an exciting month! We’re traveling to Bermuda to visit family (hooray for warmth!), my birthday is on Wednesday, and then my favorite anime con is at the end of the month! It’s been a low few months for me, but I knew as soon as I got to March that things would take a turn for the better :)

    1. fposte*

      Oh, I’ve always loved the idea of Bermuda. Is it as nice in reality as it is in my head? And is it good for the locals as well as for tourists?

      1. Searcher*

        I’ll try to remember to follow up on next week’s thread! We leave at butt o’clock tomorrow morning…

      2. Kay*

        Bermuda is lovely! We went a couple of years ago – we did a cruise that left from Boston, where we were living at the time, and it was just sublime. Restful, interesting, charming. The beaches are just as pretty as advertised, and as a historian I loved digging into the museums & various cultural heritage sites. We even found a cricket game for my husband.

        Food and lodging on the island itself is quite expensive, so there’s that to be aware of. The cruise was a nice compromise for us.

    2. Delta Delta*

      Nice! I went to Bermuda once and got a horrible flu while I was there. I think that means I have to go back sometime so I can enjoy it while I’m not ill. ;)

    3. SophieChotek*

      Congrats – sounds like a fun month — Early Happy Birthday – and here’s hoping it ends with work!

  5. Allypopx*

    Started SSRIs this week for the first time since I was 20. I’ve been having a lot of low-key physiological problems (weight gain, increased migraines, insomnia) that the consulting psychiatrist at my doctor’s office thinks are manifestation of stress and anxiety, and a poorly treated panic disorder, so despite really being hesitant about daily psychiatric medication he’s convinced me to try this out for a couple months (also he told me I could still drink a little once I adjust, as long as I took it in the morning and drank at night so I don’t feel like I have to drastically adjust my lifestyle).

    I’m currently remembering one of the reasons I went off SSRIs in the first place – I feel gross. I’m nauseated, exhausted, starving, dizzy…blech. I’m supposed to give them a week to wait for the side effects to go away but I have a really packed schedule all the time and this is going to make being productive really difficult…which will probably stress me out more.

    Really hoping that blizzard hits the northeast, I could use a snow day.

    1. salad fingers*

      Just a quick note to say that I commend you on trying again. I am probably a good candidate for an SSRI script, but I share your uneasiness about them for the same reasons – lifestyle disruption, side effects, and for me, just general uneasiness with the concept of anti-depressants. My boyfriend has been medicated for years and has never looked back, so a part of me is really curious to see if I would have a good result as well. Unfortunately the anxiety about it has outweighed the desire to try so far. So anyway, good for you for giving it a shot again! Is it weird to call that kind of brave?

      1. Allypopx*

        No I greatly appreciate it. I’ve been pushing back on this for years, until I finally sat down with this psychiatrist (a thing I’ve also been pushing back on for years) and he really laid it out for me as “I just want you to try this, it isn’t permanent, you can go off it if you want to, you’re doing things to treat your panic attacks but nothing to prevent them, this could really help you, and if it doesn’t that’s okay – we have more data and we can try something else.” He also really talked me through my anxiety about side effects and picked the specific medication that would give me the least (I know I’m complaining about some but I know it could be worse) and didn’t try to take any of my existing medications or coping mechanisms away from me, so I feel like I’m being supported and met half way. He also told me to take time think about it and just sent in the script and said the choice was mine, so I have had really good luck on the doctor front which is so helpful.

        But it’s still nerve wracking. I cried for two days because I was so anxious. I had a pointless fight with my boyfriend just from being wired up. But I’m trying to focus on logic, and realize my reservations are largely irrational, and approach it with an open mind. So that was long, but my point is thank you, this hasn’t been easy for me.

        1. Undine*

          I was terrified of medication (for depression) & fought it for years. It was a really hard choice. I did a personal little ceremony to mark the fact that I was starting medication, it was such a big transition to me. If the ramp up is absolutely horrible and it’s a bad time for it, you might back off and try again at a better time for you — this is not about powering through.

          For me, it was definitely the right choice, and I eventually tapered down super slowly and finally stopped taking it. (After maybe five years of full dose) I could not have done that when I started. I do have some anxiety and I think about medicating for that, but it’s not urgent the way the depression was.

        2. dawbs*

          I ABSOLUTELY do not want to be the person who gives one more piece of medical advice to someone who is overwhelmed with both helpful and ‘helpful-from Great Aunt Bertha, who really means to be kind but makes me want to smack her in the temple with a spoon’ medical advice.

          But for the migranes, are you familiar with rebound headaches and what causes them? Because I swear, I was literally on my 4th doctor (2nd neurologist) before anyone bothered to point out that the OTC and migraine meds they were giving me were also contributing.
          Apparently it’s fairly common knowledge, but, only if you know enough to start looking for it.

          Also, I”m glad you have a good doctor. It cah be hard. Mr. Dawbs has been on different meds (SSRIs and not SSRIs) at different times. I’d say your doc is steering you well, because finding what you need to get you through one window of time doesn’t mean that’s what you need to get you through another window of time.

          1. Allypopx*

            I have heard of those! Mine are pretty spaced out so I don’t think that’s happening, but I appreciate you mentioning it.

          2. Clinical Social Worker*

            I’m a new convert to the church of Magnesium since taking them for migraines. Holy cannoli, magnesium helps with my migraines (and body soreness/aches, and anxiety/irritability/depression…)

      2. Observer*

        I’m curious, why do you have a problem with the *concept* of anti-depressants? I totally get the issue of side effects – any time you take something that can be that effective, there has to be a potential down side, and the real question is not if but what. But the issue of being uncomfortable with the concept has me puzzled. I hear that a lot, and I’m trying get my head around it.

        I have some relatives who have the same attitude, and it’s REALLY hurting them. I wish I could undertand their thinking a bit better.

        1. Allypopx*

          To be clear I really have nothing against them conceptually, and they’re great for a lot of people. I have a hard time with the idea of taking them myself because it’s a lot of trial and error to get right, and the error part is troubling. Being left alone with my own brain is a devil I know.

          Your relatives might be scared of them, like myself and many other commenters. They may be reacting to stigma. They may find the commitment of daily medication overwhelming. I can’t say from here.

    2. Mimmy*

      Try to give it time. I’ve been on an SSRI since 2000, and I remember how weird I felt at first. But it does go away. I don’t remember how long it took for me, but I don’t think it was very long. I’ve had my dose raised and lowered over the years, but I don’t regret starting.

    3. Franzia Spritzer*

      It takes a few weeks for your body to adjust to the medication, the “jangles” as I call it, eases off in time. You might try taking them before bed instead of in the morning (ask your doc). The suggestion to take them every morning is to get you to take them at the same time every day, it doesn’t matter if you take them at bed time or in the morning. You may experience less of the jangles if you’re sleeping through the first hours of it in your system every day.

      Why are you hesitant to take medication to treat your anxiety/depression? Diabetics take insulin every day, people with anxiety, panic and depression etc take medicine to be functional too. Why not treat your anxiety with medicine that works? There’s nothing noble about powering through a chemical imbalance in your brain. It’s ok to do what you need to do to ease your migraines and anxiety, and everybody does well with more sleep.

      1. Allypopx*

        Erm…I don’t think it’s noble. I don’t think you meant that to be insulting but it rubbed me the wrong way a little bit. I’m not big on medication in general, largely for hesitation on side effects. I don’t like not being able to trust what my body is telling me because it might be an unknown variable. I have no way of knowing if this medicine will work and have to put my body through a lot to find out. I’ve watched some people have really terrible side effects from psychiatric medication. My mother went numb and tried to walk into the ocean. A good friend of mine started having minor seizures. These medications are very powerful, being hesitant about them isn’t uncommon or unreasonable.

        I also have some serious control issues that lend to not liking daily medication that I feel dependent on that I’m trying to put aside, but there are plenty of valid concerns.

        1. Allypopx*

          Also I’d rather take it in the morning because he also prescribed me some medicine to sleep and I’d like to stagger so the brunt of those aren’t in my system at the same time, I’ve discussed this with my doctor. But I appreciate the suggestion.

      2. Blue Anne*


        Noble? We’re talking about serious medications here. There are a ton of reasons someone might hesitate to go onto them, and the details can be incredibly intimate and complicated when you’re talking about mental health. The suggestion that someone is trying to be noble or is too proud to go into medication without knowing their full situation (which they really don’t have to give) bugs me.

        Also, my main side-effect of SSRIs is freakishly vivid dreams, which can be terrifying when you’re taking them for anxiety – hooray, now I’m trapped in horrifically vivid anxiety nightmares. There are many reasons a doctor might tell you to take them in the morning other than just not trusting you to take them as directed otherwise.

        1. Allypopx*

          Thanks for this. There were indeed a few reasons for the morning thing – nightmares weren’t mentioned specifically but in my case that makes sense to avoid as well.

    4. Undine*

      I tried SSRIs, backed out because of the ramp-up troubles, and then went on Wellbutrin (the generic actually), and that worked for me. (During the ramp up, I had a couple bouts of total emotional shutdown for a few hours, which was weird.) I don’t like the potential side effects with SSRIs -weight gain, loss of libido– and the only side effect I got with Wellbutrin was constipation. I think SSRIs just got better advertising, although it is also true that its different for different people.

      1. Allypopx*

        Last I knew Wellbutrin is more for depression than anxiety, though it’s sometimes prescribed for both I think anxiety is more of an off-label use. But I know a lot of people find it really helpful for depression!

        1. Book Lover*

          Wellbutrin can cause anxiety and insomnia and is used for atypical depression and smoking cessation.

          1. Amadeo*

            Can attest to Wellbutrin causing anxiety. I was prescribed a drug called ‘Contrave’ that is a combo of Wellbutrin and Naltrexone to help with weight loss (basically treats food addiction, it was really weird to eat half of a Jimmy John’s sandwich and forget the rest of it was even there). I was able to take it for about two weeks before I had a crushing panic attack in the car on the way home, completely out of the blue.

            I don’t have panic attacks. I’ve only ever had one ever before and it was ten-11 years before this one and it was not nearly to this level of actual physical pain.

            I wish you the best of luck getting a med protocol that works for you all sorted, Allypopx.

        2. Christy*

          I’m on Wellbutrin for anxiety and it’s the best thing I ever did for myself. I’ve had essentially zero side effects, something i can’t say for when I tried Lexapro. If it’s an option for you, I highly recommend it.

      2. Fiennes*

        I’m on Wellbutrin too. Did more for my depression than my anxiety — but once I wasn’t carrying the full psychological weight of depression, I had more spoons left over to handle the anxiety, if that makes sense.

      3. Mimmy*

        Oh…I didn’t realize (or forgot?) that SSRIs can cause weight gain. I wonder if that might explain why my pant size shot up after being UNDER-weight up till then!! :/ (yes, I know that is a question for the doctor :) )

    5. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

      I recently started SSRIs again as well. I’ve been hesitant because while they make me feel better, I also get insomnia. The type of insomnia (manic) where you simply do not feel tired or even capable of sitting still at night. Hoping this new SSRI that wasn’t available last time will be different, and so far it has.

      Be clear and honest with yourself about how the medication is working though! If the side effects are not comfortable, there are other options. Keep talking it out.

      1. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

        Oh, and I have frequent migraines as well. Not to throw on with a “this worked for me so EVERYONE must do it!” statement, but B vitamin deficiencies, specifically B5, are known to contribute. I found that taking a B complex twice a week moved my migraines from weekly to monthly/bimonthly.

        1. Allypopx*

          Thanks! I had my vitamin levels checked by a neurologist over the summer and I’m good (vitamin D is a little low but that’s common in the northeast in the winter – I’m taking a supplement now). My migraines are pretty consistent with my hormonal cycles, so docs say menopause will be the only real cure, but birth control and pain killers help for now.

    6. NoMoreMrFixit*

      I was on them for many years and finally stopped last summer due to the side effects. Left me in a mental fog and my closest friends sat me down to tell me it was getting seriously worse over the last year I was on the meds. The doc changed my prescription but it was just as bad so I ended up not taking anything. Rough ride sometimes with depression and anxiety but for me the meds caused more problems than they fixed in the end. Good luck with this – I found medication changes were a rough ride for a few weeks.

    7. nonegiven*

      I found my nausea was from taking birth control pills at the same time. I didnt have trouble with either pill alone, just with taking them both together. Taking it with food may help.

    8. mreasy*

      Congratulations on giving this a try! I had pretty bad side effects when I started up on meds again a few years back with an SSRI, but they went away within a month or two, and it ended up being worthwhile for me. Even if this medication isn’t the one – or even if meds overall aren’t the right step – feel great that you’re trying all the options to get the help you need. Your ongoing mental health is worth this. You’re worth it!

  6. Science!*

    Thanks for all the advice from last week about my dog Bob. I forget who, but someone mentioned not to get so caught up in “good days” and “bad days” and look at the over all picture. I found a really well written essay about quality of life in pets and a lot of the things they mentioned really hit me. Bob really has a hard time walking and although he still needs walks, it’s hard to know now whether he likes them. He doesn’t go as far, and turns around quickly as soon as his business is finished. He’s having a harder time getting up and when he lies down he collapses rather than a controlled lie down.

    So we have a vet appointment scheduled for Monday. I don’t know what the vet will think, but in my mind the end is near and I’m preparing myself for that event.

    In other pet news, a guy at my work does his own version of dog genotyping (it pays to work with geneticists!) and he’s coming today to genotype my dog. In a way I’m choosing to do this almost as a future memorial for Bob. He’s a mutt and I love his mutt butt, but to know in more detail where he came from will be nice.

    1. charlatan*

      I’m so sorry. It’s so hard but hopefully on Monday you’ll remember that you’re doing the best thing for Bob.

    2. KR*

      I think you’ll love the genotyping. I had a DNA test done on my dog and it’s amazing. Good luck with your old pup. He loves you and trusts you and he will know that whatever you do is for the best.

    3. chickabiddy*

      I am so sorry. I hope you have a wonderful weekend and that the vet is informative and supportive.

    4. Liane*

      Just enjoy your time with Bob. You clearly love him and are taking care of him. Hugs for both of you.

    5. Gaia*

      It is so clear that you love Bob very much, and I just know that he feels this love. I hope the appointment on Monday helps clarify the next steps, whatever they may be. You’re a good steward for Bob and you’ll make sure his voice is heard and his needs are met.

      I love the idea of genotyping him! I had a DNA test done on Pup and learned he is, in fact, not Husky mix but is a mix of Labrador Retriever, Australian Shepard and Boxer!

    6. Former Employee*

      I’m sorry you are going through this and wish you the best at this difficult time.

  7. JobSeeker017*

    Anyone on GoodReads?

    I have recently created an account on the website goodreads.com and am deciding how active I want to be. At the moment, I am on a kick reading psychological thrillers such as “The Girl Before,” “Everything you Want me to Be,” and most recently “Behind her Eyes.”

    No book clubs in my area are scheduled to read any of these books, so I considered posting a review on goodreads.com to share my perspective and just practice writing. I don’t know how well people take to differing opinions and how detailed you should be in your review.

    Would it be better to create a blog that reflects my personality as a location for my reviews?

    Thanks for any perspective you care to share!

    1. Allypopx*

      I use GoodReads as a way to keep track of the (massive) backlog of books I want to read should the universe ever grace me with free time, not so much for reviewing. A lot of my friends write long reviews though, and I do enjoy reading them. I say go for it, write what you’d like, just indicate if your review contains spoilers.

      1. SophieChotek*

        +1. I use Goodreads in the same way – mainly just to keep track of the books I read and the books I want to read and to organize them by themes, so if someone says to me “I’m looking for a book about X” I can head over to my bookshelves and see if I’ve anything. I only write reviews when I am really bored or had really strong feelings about a book. (Or every once in a while my local library has a “write a review for a book you’ve read and submit it” and then they feature the book, you get entered into a drawing, so if I do that, then I double-post on goodreads…)

    2. Professional Cat Lady*

      I don’t put much on Goodreads, but I know several people who have gotten into being reviewers by posting on Goodreads. It’s a good platform to do what you’re looking for, I think.

    3. Charlie Q*

      I think Goodreads reviews are just fine! If you love writing them, maybe start a blog once you’ve got some reviews underneath you. I read reviews if I’m considering a new book to read; it’s nice to skim them and see that some people liked Book X because it was a sweet romance and had good characters whereas some people didn’t like the same Book X because it was clumsily plotted or had no action. Then I can choose which aspects I care more about and make a more nuanced decision. So don’t worry about dissenting opinions, just keep them respectful!

      Also, if you like a book (especially a new-ish book, especially an indie book, especially a book with marginalized characters or by a marginalized author), consider cross posting your review to Amazon, as that has a much better chance of impacting sales than a Goodreads review.

      1. JobSeeker017*

        Charlie Q, thank you so very much for the helpful suggestions!

        I hadn’t even considered about cross-posting to Amazon, but I will now for underrepresented authors and issues.

    4. Becca*

      My brother-in-law is a new author, and reviews on any platform are especially worth it for them!

      Goodreads is a good platform for reviews because it’s easy to see how much interest specific books are getting. It might be worth it to have partial reviews on Goodreads and link to your blog for the fuller version, if you wind up making a blog and that’s possible.

      1. JobSeeker017*

        Becca, thanks for sharing your brother-in-law’s perspective!

        I might do as you suggest. Going through the reviews, I am seeing links to personal blogs.

        Thanks again!

    5. Dizzy Steinway*

      I joined GoodReads and it helpfully added all my Facebook friends including an ex as I was logged in at the time! That put me off and I freaked and deleted my account…

      1. JobSeeker017*

        Dizzy Steinway, my sympathies for the awkwardness that caused!

        I hope at some point you will consider giving goodreads.com another chance.

    6. printrovert*

      I have an account and, like Allypopx, use it as a means of keeping track of what I want to read and have read. I have only reviewed a few books, usually ones that have left a strong impression on me. I think it is great that you want to exercise your writing skills. The more detailed you are, the more you get a chance to play with composition but know that the amount of detail and effort you want to put in is completely up to you.

    7. Franzia Spritzer*

      I use it to keep track of how many books I’ve read, one of my new years resolutions was to read at least a specific number of books. I’m not otherwise invested in the community of the site. I’m pretty sure that I’m not the right person to be writing book reviews LOL, I’m a little too boorish for polite reviews.

    8. dawbs*

      It’s book-tracking app is AWESOME.
      I use it for relatively little else, but, I love the app. I can be standing at the library used book sale, scan the barcode on the back of the book, and the app will either add it to my library or tell me if I own it (which is especially useful for some of the silly things like, ‘which of the captain underpants books does my child own? And Junie B. Jones’ has how many Christmas books–we own 1, but what about these other 2?’.

      ANd it lets me add sorting labels, so I know that I own a copy of this Roald Dahl book, but my copy is in tatters, so a replacement would be nice.

      THe reviews canbe helpful–there are a few reviewers who I find have taste that align with mine, so I read them. I read them a bit warily because there are some very….outspoken? odd? Out to destroy/employ/create a market for an individual author? accounts there too.

      1. JobSeeker017*

        dawbs, thank you for mentioning the app and its great uses. I honestly hadn’t thought much about it at this point.

        Your final point about reviewers’ agendas to promote or destroy an author or book is something I’ve noticed a lot in the past few days. I am reading the reviews of “Behind her Eyes” and finding people actually threatening violence against the book itself and referring to it as a “garbage pile.” Yes, there are certainly many outspoken people on goodreads.com.

    9. Lady Julian*

      I’m on Goodreads (under my real name). I post reviews occasionally, keep track of the books I’ve read every year (I do the challenge thing), and like Allypopx, I mostly use it to keep track of my huge & always-growing to-read list; if I didn’t have Goodreads, I don’t know how I’d do that. Also, the review space is a nice place to jot down your thoughts on a book, and I find that reading reviews gives me an accurate sense of whether I’d like a book or not.

      One thing, though: if you want to talk about books, a blog might be a better spot to do it. Unless you happen to give a negative review to a book that gets mostly positive reviews (I’ve done that a few times), your reviews don’t get a lot of attention.

    10. Cruciatus*

      I use Goodreads just to mark which books I’ve read/am currently reading. I sometimes leave a rating (only the stars), I sometimes don’t. It’s mostly just for my own knowledge. I’m more interested in just keeping track of what I’ve read. You can leave as long or short a review as you want. I sometimes read the reviews after I read a book to see how some compare to my thoughts and I don’t think people are too jerky there if you hate a book the majority love. There’s usually more of a thread like “Oh, thank God! I thought I was the only person who hated this!”

      And sort of related, I’ve recommended this site before, but if anyone here reads a lot of series books, I can’t recommend fictfact dot com enough. If you’re reading a current series it will email you when the name and/or publishing date when the next book is coming out (which is great for me, as I love to order it as quickly as possible from the library when I can). Or if it’s a series already over it will just let you know which book is next. I know there are other ways to find this out, but I like having it all in one place.

    11. Cath in Canada*

      Yup! I use it mostly to keep track of the books I want to read, but I always rate books I’ve read too (although they really need to introduce half stars – there’s a huge difference between a 3 and a 4 star book, or a 4 and a 5. My beer rating app has quarter stars FFS). I sometimes write reviews, but I’m a bit streaky – I’ve written at least a few sentences about all the books I’ve read since last summer, but sometimes I’ll read a few in a row without reviewing any of them.

      I do peek at my feed sometimes to see what my friends are reading and reviewing. I also follow a few authors so I hear about their new books in a weekly update email, although the email mostly just highlights that George RR Martin is writing millions of words per week that aren’t the new GoT book :(

      I’m still figuring out how best to use the author side of the website. Do any other AAMers have an author profile? Any tips?

    12. zora*

      I love Goodreads. And check out the Groups!! I belong to the Reading Challenge group and the All About Books group, but lots of groups do group reads together, and then have discussion threads about them. And there are groups aimed at certain genres/constituencies/subjects, all kinds of things!

      I’ve kind of fallen off the wagon lately, but earlier last year I had lots of great conversations about books and made lots of new friends where we read books together and talked about them on the site! So basically virtual book clubs. There are TONS of groups so it can get kind of overwhelming, so it’s good to take it slowly, but it’s fun!

    13. acmx*

      I use it to keep track of books I’ve read and want to read. I appreciate the scanning part of the app (the app has some quirks).
      I definitely use it to see what other people think of books that I’m considering. I think cross posting to your own blog is a good idea.

      I wish book clubs would read more diverse genres.

    14. Ask a Manager* Post author

      You know, there’s actually an AAM GoodReads group that some readers started a while ago, but it’s utterly inactive. It would be cool if something happened with it.

    15. Temperance*

      I do Goodreads under my real name to track what I’m reading, and compare to what friends are reading. Not really involved in the community, though.

      I also read a lot of well, not great books (like Chuck Tingle, lol).

    16. Emily*

      I’m on Goodreads, but like a lot of other commenters, I use it mainly to track which books I’ve read. I will occasionally write brief reviews or give stars to books I thought were really good, but I don’t do either of those things consistently.

      When I read other people’s reviews on Goodreads, they usually represent a wide range of opinions and have differing levels of detail. As long as your opinion isn’t something like “This author should die!”, I think you’ll be fine expressing yourself however you want to.

    17. 'Tis I, LeClerc*

      I have an account, but so far it hasn’t been very useful to me. It’s supposed to recommend books based on stuff I have read (and liked) before, but the recommendations seem pretty random. Oh, you liked this particular thriller? So you will obviously love every other thriller. Nope.

    18. Formica Dinette*

      I have several author friends and they love it when people post reviews on Goodreads!

  8. LazyCat*

    My husband is a few months into his first lawyer job (yay!), so we’ll be staying in our area for at least a few years, and our lease is up this summer… So we’re talking about buying a place. It feels like the logical choice, but I find myself fretting that it will turn out horribly – that we’ll end up getting screwed by the bank / relator / inspector / something.

    I think most of the worry is from having no idea how the process works, so does anyone have a recommendation for a good summary of the home-buying process? (general comments appreciated too!)

    1. Me2*

      I have a family member going through this too. They are taking a class offered by Redfin, an online class, and a community college class on the process. They live in the Bay Area so super competitive and crazy prices, so they’re trying to be as knowledgeable as possible. Good luck.

    2. J. F.*

      I’d just recommend you remember to amortize your realtor fees when selling (seller typically pays both realtors’ commissions) as well as closing costs x 2, insurance, property tax, all utilities, and maintenance. Depending how long you plan to stay, it may add up to renting being more financially favorable. For our first house it evened out around three years. Also, the whole ‘buyers insurance’ for a year on appliances, etc. sounds like a good deal, but the fine print has so many limitations, sometimes including the owner paying for service calls and ludicrously low payout limits, that they often aren’t worth it.

    3. A. Non*

      Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I know someone who is trying to sell their house and they haven’t replaced the roof since they bought it. Ask questions. If you’re in the neighborhood and it’s a house and the neighbors are around, talk to the neighbors. The neighbors will have as good an idea of how the owners handled the house (and maybe better than) the owners do.

    4. Mt*

      Reddit realestate section has tons of first time home buyer information. I bugged my realestate agent for info when i bought last year

    5. Ann(on)*

      I think it’s fair to really look at your market and understand if buying makes sense. And, if you buy, what do you want? Close commute? Good schools? Property? Also make sure that your “wants” are in relative alignment with your lifestyle- eg. My husband who *insisted* we live further out in the ‘burbs so he can have a barn and a shop for his projects….and he works 60 hour weeks and a commute and we have 3 under 5.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      The problem with houses is that there are lots of unforeseens. So tell your fears that everyone is making their best GUESS, no one is dealing in complete facts because there is no way to anticipate every single thing that can go wrong with a house.

      My concern-turned-compulsion was that I had to figure out for myself how much house we could afford. I found a real estate calculator.

      I used my rent as the monthly payment.
      I put in 30 years times 12 months/year for the number of payments.
      Then I had to put in a number for interest. I estimated high, figuring I wanted to be conservative. I looked at the home mortgage ads and used one of the higher numbers advertised.
      Then I hit solve for loan amount.

      I got my own number.
      Imagine my surprise when we were approved for a loan that was 50% more than my number.
      We used my number and Thank God! The first six months we were here we could not even buy a cup of coffee at a store.

      Sit with your hubby and figure out how much loan you guys can afford. Don’t take other people’s word for it. You can use a real estate calculator online. Go over your numbers carefully and once agreed upon, stick to them.

      1. Epsilon Delta*

        This is a big one. We figured out that we can affore $x a month comfortably — basically a few hundred dollars higher than our rent. The lender was willing to approve us for even more, like $x +30%.

        Also, make sure your mortgage calculator is telling you more than just principal and interest payments. You will also have homeowners insurance and taxes, and possibly HOA fees and private mortgage insurance (PMI) if you have less than a 20% down payment. Plus you are responsible for all utilities (and for things like heat, you may be using more than you did in an apartment).

        I would recommend starting at your local library for information. They will have a section on buying your home, mortgages, etc.

    7. ..Kat..*

      My husband and I used the Consumer Reports How to Buy a House, Condo, or Co-op by Michael C. Thomsett. It was a lifesaver.

      1. Cruciatus*

        I love Consumer Reports and didn’t realize they had something like this, but when I started searching the most recent version I could find was from 1996. Did you have a more recent version?

    8. Viola Dace*

      This is basically a math question before it becomes a procedural question. Until you run the numbers on how many years you may stay, prices in the area, average appreciation, taxes, projected repairs, etc. you don’t know if buying over renting is a good idea. There are numerous calculators online you use for some of these questions. BTW, I work in finance and we do not ever recommend buying over renting without running numbers. Give up on the idea that buying is ALWAYS better than renting. It often isn’t. The other thing about buying is that people say they want to make changes to a place. There is a big difference between wanting to make changes and having to make changes because of dated interiors or general disrepair. It becomes financially burdensome when the desired “fun” changes turn into buying a new furnace, new roof, etc. and none of the cool decorating stuff is affordable any more.

  9. Sunflower*

    How much help planning should I contribute to my sister’s baby shower that I have no interest in? FWIW my sister is pretty nonchalant about the shower- she wants one but doesn’t’ care about food, theme, decorations ,etc. My mother is ‘throwing’ the shower and I’m trying to be better about setting boundaries with her since she can be very narrow minded and tries to guilt trip me into getting her way.

    My other sister and I really don’t care about babies or baby showers and my mother has already complained she doesn’t want to do all of the planning by herself. My mother knows we don’t care so when I went over for family dinner, she ambushed me with a ‘shower planning’ meeting. I sat in the other room and told her I had nothing to contribute. She got angry since I’m the ‘party planner’ (PSA: corporate event planning and social event planning are not even close to the same thing!) She also sent a group text between me and sister’s friend who she asked to help with decorations. She wants me to pick a day so we can have a planning lunch. This is so completely unnecessary and I’m working on how to push back and out of this.

    I’ll be honest here- do my feelings towards all of this have anything to do with the fact that I’m single and my family think the things I want to do(like travel) are stupid? Yeah of course. It’s pretty hard to want to support your family in things they have interest in, but you don’t, when they refuse to show you the same support. My family seems to think it’s HILARIOUS that I don’t like babies so being asked to help with this almost feels almost like a big excuse to continue mocking me any chance they can.

    I love my sister so I don’t want to be totally un-involved but I DON’T CARE and I already have enough issues with my mom as is. My mother has offered to pay for the whole thing so I can’t just throw $$ at it. I’m not sure how involved to be while also setting the boundaries with my mother that she can’t guilt me into doing things.

    1. Ruffingit*

      Tell your mother you will take care of the cake or something similar and that is all you’re willing to do. Setting boundaries is hard, but offer to do something you can do and don’t mind doing and tell her you won’t discuss anything else, you will not have a planning lunch, etc. and then hang up the phone or whatever. Sometimes setting boundaries is about making a statement and cutting off discussion.

      1. Allypopx*

        The cake thing is exactly what I was going to suggest. Small, but meaningful, and then stand firm that you won’t have any further part in the planning. And get your sister a nice gift and celebrate with her, since ultimately that’s going to mean more than who planned the party.

      2. Becca*

        This this this! Committing firmly to JUST ONE DOABLE THING is totally enough. Particularly for a cake, since you can place an order now even if the event is ages away and then just have it on your calendar to confirm a couple days ahead or something.

        And it’s totally okay to be a boring record if she keeps bringing it up. “I told you, I can’t. Gotta go, bye.” “I told you, I don’t want to be involved in the planning process. [subject change].” Etc.

        And hey, listen, your involvement is being supportive of and happy for your sister, and going to the shower even though you hate babies. REASONABLE.

      3. A. Non*

        Seconding this, this is an excellent idea. Do the cake, talk to your sister to get an idea of flavors, talk to the decoration friend about colors, and avoid your mom with ‘sorry, so busy right now but the cake’s in good hands, gl with the rest of it’. I was blessed with no siblings but a clutch of cousins around the same age, I’m just 1000% thankful we’re not that close that I was dragged into the vortex.

      4. Ann(on)*

        + a million. My “one thing” was invites. I picked them, uploaded the guest list (which was given to me), had them auto-sent via the website and managed the RSVPs. Can take as little as an hour, tops, but important! Also, when reporting on #s just round up a bit so nobody has a panic attack about chairs if there are 5 last minute RSVPs.

      5. Sunflower*

        Thanks for this suggestion. My mother has already decided where we are getting the cake so maybe I will offer to do the RSVP’s.

        1. Belle di Vedremo*

          Has she chosen the cake, and paid for it? You can “take that off her plate” knowing she won’t give you grief re the source…

    2. PollyQ*

      You have this internet stranger’s permission to provide ZERO help, if you like. If it was your mom’s idea, then it’s her responsibility, and if she thinks it’s too much trouble, then she’s welcome to simplify, especially given that your sister doesn’t seem to care that much.

    3. the gold digger*

      Tell her Miss Manners says relatives are not supposed to throw showers. :)

      And if she persists, she agreed to this, you didn’t. I don’t think you need to feel guilty about not being involved. Easy for me to say, I know. :) But I think you are on the side of angels here. I like Ruffingit’s idea of making the cake or whatever. One thing so you feel like you’re not abandoning your sister and then done.

      1. anoning forever*

        I think that advice is regional, though. Also out of date. There’s not one set etiquette for every situation.

        For instance, I’ve only ever been to wedding/baby showers that were thrown by relatives and where I’m from it’d actually be a little weird if the invite came from a non-relative. The only time I’ve been to one is when the guest of honor literally had no living relatives to throw her a shower.

        1. Amadeo*

          I think the same way. I threw baby showers for both my sister and my sister in law (and my sister helped/was deeply involved with my SIL’s and vice versa). I don’t care much for babies but they were excited, and they got to have their shower with food and what small talent we could come up with in our combined efforts for games and decorations. I think showers are mostly about cooing over the gifts anyway.

          Showers around here aren’t thrown by friends, they’re attended by friends.

          1. anoning forever*

            I don’t even particularly agree with that as a universal rule. I’ve known people who have thrown parties or showers for themselves because they didn’t have anyone close enough to do it. I don’t think there’s any shame in wanting to celebrate something in your life and organizing it yourself because you don’t have anyone you can ask to do it for you.

            I know people will balk because throwing your own party means you’re asking for gifts, but people bring gifts to a shower anyway so it seems silly to pretend that the bridal/baby shower recipient isn’t going to get a gift anyway regardless of who is asking.

            1. Observer*

              You can celebrate stuff without throwing a shower.

              It’s a gift grab, no matter how dressed up. Some people are OK with that. And that’s fine. But let’s be honest.

      2. Penny*

        There’s definitely not one set ettiqute to throwing bridal showers. I’ve been a bridesmaid in two weddings. One shower, it was a fancy two-hour lunch at a restaurant paid for and organized by Bride’s family and the restaurant staff. The other, an afternoon-long party with light buffet lunch, everything cooked, planned, and organized by myself and the other bridesmaids, with Bride’s family just giving us some money and bringing beverages.

        1. fposte*

          Though the fact that people do stuff against etiquette doesn’t mean etiquette has changed, any more than the fact that people write ungrammatically means the grammar rules have changed.

          1. Penny*

            But there was never a call of ‘that’s against etiquette’. I even posted here, asking about what’s expected of bridal showers and bachelorette parties since I was new it to all, and everyone’s advice was ‘there are no set rules; as long as the bride is happy, do whatever’.

            I consider it ‘against etiquette’ that both weddings I was part of did first look photos so the bride and groom saw each other before the wedding. That’s tradition, that’s etiquette that everyone knows about, and one that’s being tossed out more often than not anymore. There seems to be no set in stone etiquette for throwing showers.

            1. BPT*

              Etiquette and tradition aren’t the same thing. Etiquette is a code of conduct on how to treat people – taking pictures before the wedding has nothing to do with how you treat other people. First look photos are not bound by etiquette, but something like not feeding guests at a reception does go against etiquette. It’s about how you treat other people.

              For showers, it is impolite to ask for gifts. You’re treating people as opportunities for gift grabs. Family members throwing showers for their children/siblings used to be considered an etiquette faux pas in the same way because it seemed like you were asking for gifts for your family. This has changed somewhat, imo because people are tending to be older when they get married/have babies, so they are out of their parents house when they do this.

              But there definitely are set rules, as in a bride shouldn’t throw her own shower, you shouldn’t invite people to the shower who aren’t invited to the wedding, etc.

          2. Ruffingit*

            And really, the purpose of etiquette is to ensure that people are comfortable and to avoid awkwardness, etc. I don’t see how that purpose is served by relatives not throwing showers. IME, no one really cares who throws a shower. It’s a nice event to celebrate a milestone in someone’s life and all is good.

            1. fposte*

              “Making people comfortable” has been American etiquette’s cover story for years, but I don’t think it’s ever been true. Otherwise we’d let kids eat with their elbows on the tables.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                Eh, it’s rules so people know what to expect and what their behavior/reaction should be. It’s supposed to reduce awkwardness and facilitate social relationships.

                I think it has done the exact opposite, but that is just me.

            2. Gaia*

              It is about making people who know the rules comfortable and excluding and ostracizing those that don’t. It is a form of classism.

              1. fposte*

                I think that’s over-reductive as well, though. There’s no class that doesn’t have etiquette, and learning the ways people do stuff has always been a key life skill (and it’s a lot of what we talk about on AAM).

                1. Not So NewReader*

                  Agreed. Parents can’t teach what they don’t know.

                  And some rules are not necessary in some settings. I remember reading the sequel to Gone with the Wind decades ago. One of the things that jumped at me was how the rules of etiquette changed after the Civil War ended. I remember something about dress gloves for women. Before the war it was expected ladies would wear their gloves. After the war that changed because people just did not have gloves.
                  I had never thought about etiquette rules changing over time to meet the needs of a group.
                  I see it in my own home. Muddy, dusty shoes are the norm here in farm country. My floors reflect this. I have boot racks, benches and cheap, replaceable throw rugs at each of my doors.
                  On the opposite end of the spectrum is family members’ house in suburbia. You take off your shoes the second you cross the threshold. There’s no chairs/benches, no boot racks, no rugs. If you do not take your shoes off you get screamed at. (yeah, well the screaming is a separate issue.) It does show the differences in needs of a group of people.

                2. fposte*

                  @NSNR–I know in some countries where shoes off inside is the general etiquette, some people have little baskets of slippers for guests to put on in the house. I think that’s really nice. But you can’t beat a farm country house when it comes to accepting and mitigating outside mud!

                1. Not So NewReader*

                  If people were using to over arching principle of etiquette they would realize that the main goal is not to create situations where the other person feels awkward. I am afraid that people get too tangled up in which fork to use and miss the point.

                2. fposte*

                  I think certainly it *can* be used for that, hence my point that it’s not just about making people comfortable, but that’s never been its sole usage, either. People are like cars in traffic; without conventions as to how we share the space, things get crazy and dangerous. A lot of etiquette is about sharing the space without making other people crazy.

                3. Gaia*

                  But that is my point exactly – etiquette makes up rules about what is comfortable and what is uncomfortable and those that aren’t within that class do not know those rules and are, inherently, excluded and uncomfortable.

                  Instead, why not just treat people like humans instead of worrying about archaic rules?

                4. fposte*

                  @Gaia–because etiquette *is* how we treat people like humans. You’re acting as if etiquette was some add-on that was only about fork use rather than the kind of socialization that keeps us from treating each other like crap. A lot of etiquette stuff, like old conduct manuals, are like the Rules of the Road–they’re teaching novices what to do so they *can* join the stream smoothly.

                  And I’m curious–do you make the same arguments for communications, that writing is imbued with classism (which it is) and the conventions are arbitrary (which they are) and therefore rules of grammar and punctuation should be abandoned?

          3. Buffy*

            I disagree. I think since etiquette is just a social construction tied to a certain culture, it’s certainly able to adapt with it.

    4. fposte*

      Pick a particular thing you’ll contribute to get out of the general “helping” expectation, and also to control which thing you get stuck with. You don’t need to be at a planning lunch if your job is to buy balloons. And given that there’s an impending baby that’s likely to draw on family energy for a while, it’s reasonable to pace yourself on this.

      And it might be useful to separate a few things out here. You and your mother may have some issues, but it’s pretty reasonable for somebody to be excited about an upcoming grandchild, especially if it’s the first. That’s a separate issue from her not being supportive of the things you want, not a seesaw tip away from you.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I can see this.

        I think OP is reacting to being Told to do this, as opposed to asked. And when OP has cause to celebrate it is ignored.

        I am not sure how much of this adult children should have to put up with.
        OP, could go on the sly and give sis a lovely card, congratulate her warmly and let her know that she can wait to meet sis’s little one. Something like this could be meaningful for the two of them.

    5. Cinnamon Owl*

      I’m having fun picturing a baby shower put on in corporate event mode. Like if the company viewed a new division this way.

      Practical advice: If there will be any babies at this shower (typical, since a lot of friends of the pregnant are procreating) *do not have balloons*. A balloon will pop, and the baby will do its “LION ATTACKING!!!” alert to anyone in earshot. And then another balloon will pop…

      1. Amy*

        Not to mention that popped or uninflated latex balloons are a serious choking hazard, if there will be crawlers or toddlers around.

        1. Thlayli*

          Mylar (spelling?) balloons are more expensive but A lot safer and last weeks too.

          I got some Mylar balloons when my eldest was born and they were still floating when baby was old enough to play with them! (I would hook it around an arm or a leg and baba would happily kick away for up to half an hour).

      2. Lady Bug*

        We had balloons at my daughters shower as centerpieces and they were adorable. No popping incidents.

    6. Ann O.*

      I’m noticing that your post focuses on your relationship with your mother and your disinterest in babies, but not very much your sister beyond saying that you love her. So here are my questions: if you don’t help your mother plan, how likely is that to result in a bad shower experience for your sister? How important is not having that happen to you? How much time/mental energy would planning the shower take? If it’s a lot, is there a way to get a small, isolated but helpful portion of the shower as yours?

      Whatever you decide, it seems like you need to be very direct with your mother about what you will/won’t do. I may be misinterpreting, but it sounds like you’re going the passive-aggressive route with your mother and stonewalling rather than directly telling her that you aren’t willing to help her plan. So then she’s getting more aggressive trying to get help from you.

      1. Clever Name*

        This. It sounds like your mom is understandably very excited about her grandchild. What about going to a planning lunch and letting your mom do all the deciding and talking. Basically agree with what she’s come up with (I’m sure she’s got a Pinterest board or something). It would really only cost you the time you spend with your mom. Decide ahead of time what you’re willing to do and “let” your mom tell you what you wanted to do anyway. :)

        1. Hrovitnir*

          Considering the description of the issue is “my mother is pressuring me to get highly involved with the planning” and “my family makes fun of me for being childfree, which stings extra because they show no interest in my non-child interests and this whole situation is making me resent my sister’s baby shower when I just want to show up in support of her and that’s it”, choosing to put herself in that position sounds like seeking the worst possible outcome to me (she can’t get away from the pressure, gives in to spending a bunch of energy on it she didn’t want to and/or ends up having an argument, has to swallow being mocked when she’s already on edge.)

    7. HannahS*

      It sounds really frustrating. The only real mistake you could make would be to have this conflict with your mother damage your relationship with your sister. Does she know how you feel? She might be receptive to a “Mom is driving me insane, I’m just at a point where I can’t take it. I’m happy for you and you deserve a party but I just CAN’T work with Mom right now.”

      You can absolutely bow out completely, but TBH I don’t think that’s the path of least resistance. I think that might be to take on one specific task that doesn’t involve planning. Some have suggested the cake. Food could be an option too–it’s labour intensive to go pick everything up (so no one can deny that you’ve contributed), but it’s something you’d do alone. Could you say to your mom “I’m swamped at work–I can’t participate in planning but let me know what you want in terms of food and I’ll run around town picking it up.”? Then, every time she wants to plan, or asks for your opinion, you can rejoin with “I don’t know. You let me know what you want and I’ll make it happen.”

      1. Sunflower*

        My problem is that while I love my sister, I have some issues with her as well. During her wedding, my sister tried to stick me in the middle of her own problems with my mother and looking back on it, I can’t believe how incredibly unfair it was what she did. It feels like she’s doing this to me again and she kind of can since you can’t really plan your own shower.

    8. Come On Eileen*

      You said you don’t care about babies or baby showers — but do you care about your sister? Assuming you do, can you focus on making an awesome day for her, your own personal feelings aside? I gotta be honest, your attitude comes across as really bad. In theory, we do things to support our family members because we love that family member. Doesn’t mean you have to love babies or showers. Pick one or two things to help with and do those things and remind yourself that this day is about your sister, it’s not about you.

      1. Perse's Mom*

        If my family treated me the way Sunflower describes hers, I wouldn’t want any part of it either.
        “Family” is not a broad license to treat people like crap. Mom can plan the party with the help of family members who like babies and WANT to help, rather than trying to browbeat the daughter who has no interest in the whole thing into participating.

      2. Sunflower*

        Everything you are saying I should do because they are my family, my family doesn’t do for me.

      3. Hrovitnir*

        Her attitude comes across as bad if you put no weight behind years of being treated like your interests don’t matter and being expected to spend a whole bunch of energy on planning (that would not be expected if she a man – I generally avoid comparisons but in this case there is no way it would be a drama) when she wants to be allowed to just come and give presents and be supportive that way.

    9. Anonacat*

      Baby showers do not need a planning meeting. It takes 30 min to get everything together. I have thrown a few of them.

      Visit something like party city, put in an order. Call a grocery store you like and put in an order for food, cake, and drinks. Send some email party invites. Find some old chirstmas lights for extra decorations. Done.


      Your mom us being unreasonable. Babies happen all the time and they grow up just fine without giant parties or complex events.

    10. bunniferous*

      Technically your mom should not be throwing the shower in the first place….the rules at least used to be that immediate family did NOT, etiquette wise. So you are in the right here, if it helps!

    11. Andrea*

      You plan events. You know what a pain they can be and leaving this all to one person isn’t that cool, even if you don’t like the theme. It’s a party to recognize a phase of life for your sister. It won’t kill you to help and do your share.

      1. Ismis*

        I think this is more about boundaries than a party. I would be pretty annoyed that someone made a choice to host a party and then decided that I HAD to help, especially if they just wanted to boss me around and not take any input.

      2. Sunflower*

        But I didn’t choose to host this event nor was I asked if I could help, it was simply expected of me. And as Ismis said, if it was just a party, I wouldn’t be having the problems that I am.

    12. ..Kat..*

      My advice is really for your mom. Since pregnant sister wants low key, keep it low key. Finger foods, cake or cupcakes, invitations, and a play list on the iPod. Don’t rent a place, instead find a friend with room at their house (offer this special person a free house cleaning before and after the event). Skip the decorations, silly games etc. Oh, and dedicate someone to record the gifts for the thank you notes.

    13. Marillenbaum*

      I find it helpful to get ahead of things I don’t care about but need to help with. Choose a thing, have it be your thing, and let everything else go–for instance, you get the cake, or offer to handle cleanup (because that requires no actual planning in advance), or keeping track of who gave what so thank-you notes go out in a timely way.

    14. Bonky*

      This seems to be about you and your Mom. It’s meant to be about your sister. Can you try to set your feelings about babies and your mother aside and think about how your sister is going to feel if you go down the path you want to go down? The baby shower of someone you love doesn’t really have much to do with whether or not your family thinks travel is stupid.

      1. Sunflower*

        If the shower, which is celebrating someone’s life choices, is for someone who thinks my life choices are stupid, then it does have a lot to do with it

    1. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

      Best: Got a very, very generous job offer and accepted!
      Worst: Son got the stomach virus that’s been making the rounds in our area and couldn’t go to daycare until Friday and scrambling to find childcare because I don’t have enough PTO banked at my current job was pretty stressful.

    2. danr*

      WORST: We’re going to have a big snowstorm midweek!

      BEST: We’re going to have a big snowstorm midweek!… with all sorts of good food that we’re cooking this weekend. A pot roast, onion soup and probably some pasta and meat sauce.

      1. Mimmy*

        Not looking forward to this at all. It’s like Old Man Winter is trying to convince us that he’s still around despite a mild winter and that spring is a week from Monday. Blergh. I just hope it warms up again in time for me to start my new job on the 20th.

    3. KR*

      Worst… I was supposed to start a job Monday but it got delayed.
      Best… My husband got a long weekend, we had In-and-out yesterday, and we finally finished a band made bookshelf we’ve been working on during our free time. It’s a huge solid pine 5 ft x 2 1/2 ft dark stained behemoth that holds all of our books and CDs so they’re not just sitting on the ground in boxes. Probably cost us a little over a hundred in total for supplies when the same price in a furniture store will fetch you a simple particle board shelf.

    4. Charlie Q*

      Best: My aunt came to visit from 2 hrs away & we had lunch! Okay, so she came to my city because it has the closest IKEA to her, but lunch was a nice bonus and it was awesome to see her :) I haven’t been able to visit her in months because there’s a snowy pass between our cities, and I can’t drive in the snow.

      Worst: My depression is giving me very little space to breathe this week, and being still unemployed isn’t helping :/

    5. Gracie*

      Best: They FINALLY submitted the paperwork for a temp to replace me when I leave my job. I gave them 8 weeks notice for this reason and the clock is ticking down. Now just to hope it gets approved (sorry its a work thing. Not much in personal life to celebrate this week)

      Worst: My grandpa’s funeral was yesterday. I guess it could be considered a good thing too cause now the stress of planning is over and we can have a chance to deal with the death and begin to heal but…

    6. Dizzy Steinway*

      Best: I won a workplace award thing for being really helpful.

      Worst: I am estranged from my mother and Facebook just forced me to tell it that no, I don’t want to see adverts tailored to “people who have liked I Love My Mom”.

    7. Searcher*

      Worst: Mental health weirdness and the freaking COLD. It’s like Mother Nature forgot that it was 70 degrees a few weeks ago…

      Best: I finished everything for my and my better half’s cosplays, and I’m excited to travel!

    8. Trixie*

      Best: Some housesitting for a few days which I crave these days for alone time. And some fun cats to hang out with.
      Worst: Housesitting ended early which was crushing, especially by Friday afternoon when I really need a break between work/home with mom.

    9. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      Best: Visiting cousin for St. Paddy’s day weekend. Baking her cookies. Also, 50/50 odds SO proposes before end of this summer.

      Worst: Said cousin’s been in and out of the hospital for UTI’s, complications from ovarian (HPV-related) cancer.

    10. Cruciatus*

      Best: Spring Break at work so all faculty and students were gone. It stinks staff still has to work, but it’s nice to be able to finish things without interruptions and to have a thought for more than a minute. Can’t believe only 8 weeks until the school year is over!
      Worst: This low key (but updated) house I loved on Tuesday in the right location (just south of a highway that still makes it part of the city, but with way lower property taxes for more space) was already pending by Thursday. I loved just about everything about it (online) and knew it would be gone fast, but not that fast! (I know pending doesn’t mean a for sure sale, but with the houses I watch in that area, they almost always end up sold quickly. I’m gonna have to be quicker!)

      1. Cruciatus*

        And I obviously loved that house so much that it didn’t even occur to me that the $1200 I had to spend yesterday on some time jumping chain in my car didn’t even enter my mind until now!

    11. The Cosmic Avenger*

      BEST: FINALLY finished the documentation to transfer our bank accounts into our revocable living trusts. It took us years to finally get an estate plan drawn up, and even after that was done I was surprised that the lawyer told me we still had stuff we had to do after paying them such a decent sized chunk of money. And it turns out that each bank has its own requirements, and sometimes its own forms. But I submitted the forms this week, and it should all be done soon.

      WORST: New car issues; post about it (in moderation) below, but tl;dr version, we’ve still got the temporary plates and they expire on Wednesday. D:

    12. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Best: The new Depeche Mode album is amazing and after some initial apathy I am now STOKED for the tour opener show in Stockholm beginning of May. As a Devotee of 27 years it felt like something fresh after ten years of not as good music from a really terrible producer. Also – Other Half came home Sunday from work trip to the US and brought tons of Trader Joes goodies, a new pair of fabulous in-ear monitors, and a bunch of vinyl records I couldn’t find here.

      Worst: Not much non-work related…. at work however is a different story (forgetful, abstract, completely incapable project manager is making my life miserable but only from 8-5)

    13. LadyKelvin*

      Best: 9 more days until husband and pup are finally in Hawaii with me! It’s been 2 months and while we spent 3 years of our relationship long distance we were at least in the same time zone and saw each other ever 3-4 weeks. 8 weeks is the longest we’ve been apart and it has been hard.

      WORST: Stress with the move and bringing the dog out here. On Saturday I realized that one of the rabies certificates for our dog (the old one, not the current one) was stamped instead of signed in ink. This was one I had to make a special trip to the vet for and the animal quarentine people only accept forms signed in ink. My husband had to make the trip to the vet and get a new one, overnight it to me, which I then promptly put together with all her other paperwork and overnighted to the other side of this island so it arrived one day before the deadline. Talk about stressful. Then the movers are supposed to come next week but we still don’t know which day. Plus they keep calling me instead of my husband despite multiple attempts to explain to them that I am not in Virginia and they need to talk to him. But seriously, what kind of moving company doesn’t know where they are going to be picking up stuff the week before they are supposed to arrive. They said we might have a day’s notice. Hopefully its not like the last time we moved and they called an hour before they arrived to drop off our stuff.

      1. JengaViking*

        Wow! You sound pretty calm despite all that. I plan on moving to Hawaii with my dog and cat sometime in the next 5 years, the process of getting your pets there seems a bit complicated.

        1. LadyKelvin*

          Haha thanks. It is really complicated to get your animals here, but I’d start looking up requirements, etc at least a year before you want to get here as things can take a long time to process. We’ve spent a lot of money rushing things and it still took 5 months to get her here.

    14. Anonyby*

      Best: BFF hosted a S’n’B last night, and that was a lot of fun! I didn’t know most of the people there, but it was fine. :) Plus afterwards BFF, her hubby, and I got to talk about taking a joint vacation!

      Worst: Instability and drama at work. Hopefully should be over soon… And I’ll be glad for it. The co-worker who’s been at the center of a lot of it texted me last night as well, with some very toxic and manipulative messages. Ugh. I didn’t respond, because why bother? I try to be friendly with coworkers, but I’m not THAT invested in trying to preserve a work friendship (plus she presented me with a lose-lose scenario. Nope).

    15. A. Non*

      Best: Most amazing vacation! (NCL Solo Cruise, HIGHLY RECOMMEND, it was AWESOME)

      Worst: Planning for summer (June/July/Aug) and including a quiet period in case of necessary medical surgery that has not yet been scheduled.

    16. Trix*

      Best (non-work): my husband is amazing. No particular reason, he’s just awesome and I like hanging out with him.

      Worst: had an odd massage a few days ago. It was one of those foot massage places that actually does the whole body, but you stay clothed and it’s not in a private room. Went with my husband, we’ve been before and enjoyed it. I don’t think that anything inappropriate actually happened, but a combination of the general anxiety that’s been pretty bad lately, and a recent catcalling incident that let to someone actually touching me (although honestly super proud of how I handled that one), and, I don’t know, the fact that I actually haven’t had a male masseuse or even doctor in a while? Made me uncomfortable and I didn’t enjoy the massage at all.

    17. Lady Julian*

      BEST: Old college friend spent a few days with me. We went on a bike ride in a quaint small town and spent two hours in a good bookstore. :)

      WORST: I’m pretty overwhelmed with work stuff right now, feeling a bit snowed under. I know we’re supposed to not talk about work . . . but I’m overcommitted (the pleasures of working two jobs to get by!) and it’s stressing me out.

    18. Me heh heh*

      WORST: The weather. Ugh! Went from 75 to 55 to 35. (((brr)))

      BEST: Meditation group today was especially nice. I took my new buckwheat cushion with me and actually managed to shut everything out for the middle bit before my legs decided to pull me out of it, only a couple of minutes before the leader dinged the bowl. Then we had discussion group, also really cool (we’re doing an introductory course online and having a monthly meeting of it). I’m starting to see the interconnectedness of things and it just felt very good on my brain.

      Then we went to coffee afterward as usual, also nice. There’s a dude in the group who looks a bit like Ewan McGregor and seems very cool and smart. He sat next to me at coffee and I kind of enjoyed it. :3

    19. Fortitude Jones*

      Best: Paid off a student loan! Oh, and just got an unlimited plan through my cell provider (they’re one of the last adopters of same) thereby lowering my phone payment to $87/month. I’m very serious about cutting back on my expenses this year to put more money towards these loans – I have to get out from under this mess so I can move back east.

      Worst: This weather. It’s bad enough it’s freaking cold, but then throw in this ridiculous wind, and I’m ready to hibernate until summer.

      1. Observer*

        I don know where you are, and who has good service where you are. But, unless you have a commitment, you might be able to find something even better – look around.

    20. Red*

      Worst: MIL’s absolutely wonderful dog is probably dying, been in the vet hospital all week. We’re waiting on results from the blood cultures to come back so we can tell if it is an infection or if it’s immune mediated, because the antibiotics aren’t really doing anything, but if we try steroids and it’s an infection, she will die. Also my husband is having an allergic reaction to something. Lord only knows what he’s reacting to, but he’s covered in hives and spend the afternoon in the ER yesterday because he needed more effective meds than benadryl. The college I went to years ago is apparently incapable of sending over my transcripts to the one I’d like to start at in the fall. Oh, and Pi Day is next week and I forgot I have to make an effing pie to bring into work.

      Best: Wine exists. Death metal also exists. I have a PTO day booked for Friday.

    21. Turtlewings*

      Best: The belated discovery of Brooklyn 99. I’ve been watching 2-4 episodes a night all week and I’m not one to binge-watch, at all. I frequently have to pause until I can stop laughing long enough to continue.

      (Runner-up: One of my bosses, who I have a somewhat bumpy relationship with, made a point of telling me how much she appreciates my work and my good attitude, and it seriously made my day.)

      Worst: I have the most horrible itchy rash on my underboob, it’s been there over a week and it’s about to drive me insane. (I assumed it was heat rash but am starting to doubt it? Heat rash is supposed to go away within a few days!) Hydrocortisone is possibly helping. Wearing a bra is torture but, uh, kinda necessary at work, and even at home I find it very uncomfortable not to wear one so I’m just… relentlessly uncomfortable in one way or another all the livelong day.

    22. Elkay*

      Best: Continued improvement in my exercise plan.
      Worst: Really bad week at work coupled with lack of support at home over the issues.

    23. Fiennes*

      WORST: injured self in manner requiring outpatient surgery.

      BEST: surgery went *great* & my doc says so far I’m recuperating faster than anyone else she’s done this on.

    24. AlaskaKT*

      Best: My daughter has started speaking and calling me mama!

      Worst: Anxiety/depression hit hard this week. Luckily my husband is very understanding and picked up slack so I could recharge.

    25. anonasaurus*

      Best: got great feedback at grad school this weekend – including a professor asking to use my work as an example in TWO of her classes and saying it was some of the best writing she had ever seen. I’m in a low-residency program and have been full of self-doubt and imposter syndrome this was a huge self-esteem boost.

      Worst: got sick the second I left grad school – like between dinner and the two-hour drive home I went from fine but tired to feverish/sick/exhausted. Ended up taking three sick days this week.

    26. LizB*

      Best: Doing a really cool activism training all weekend. I feel very supported and hopeful!

      Worst: I was super off my adulting game this week, to the point that for the first time in my life I ended up buying new underwear instead of doing laundry. In my defense, I wasn’t going to be able to get to the bank for quarters before it closed, so it was either handwash a few pairs in the sink or pick up a cheap pack at Target… but I’m still feel a little silly for choosing the latter.

      1. Jean who seeks to be Ingenious*

        Re buying new undies rather than washing the old ones: been there, done that. More than once. It’s humbling.

      2. Nic*

        I’ve been there too. Sometimes the fates just align that it’s more appropriate to buy than wash at that moment.

        1. J. F.*

          When I was in grad school I had 30 pairs of undies. It was cheaper than any of the other options (lots of wine, divorce, etc.).

    27. SophieChotek*

      Best: I took myself to see the Metropolitan Opera Live in HD: La Traviata and was pleasantly surprised that I did not hate the pared down/stripped to practically no set/props production. (I love Franco Zeffirelli’s film version with Plàcido Domingo and Teresa Stratas). Does anyone else like opera?

      Worst: the weekend is no long enough. And were supposed to get a lot of snow tomorrow night. Sigh.

      1. Belle di Vedremo*

        Yes! (as you might guess from my nick…)
        I too love that film with Stratas & Domingo.
        Did you enjoy it?

        1. SophieChotek*

          I did. Not as much of course as the Stratas/Domingo film, but it brought out some different aspects in the production through its rather abstract/symbolist staging.
          (Assume you are a Puccini and Madama Butterfly connoisseur?

    28. Audiophile*

      Best: I start my new job on Monday! Yay!

      Worst: We’re supposed to get a really bad snowstorm late Monday night into Tuesday. I likely won’t be able to make it work on my second day, if it’s as bad as they say.

    29. Nic*

      Best: Got to connect with some friends I haven’t seen in ages and spend the day frolicking in the forest in dress up. AKA, ren faire this last weekend.

      Worst: Coming back to work and dealing with That One Coworker. You know the one.

    30. tink*

      Best: Partner and I were finally able to combine our cell phone plans in a way that saves us money instead of costing more.
      Worst: Sleep schedule is so messed up that I barely know days anymore.

      1. Bibliovore*

        Best: Completed work stuff. (mostly) Anxiety at a low roar. Saw really good friends last night. Taking it easy today. House is warm, fridge full of healthy food, laundry cycling through. Dog bathed.
        Worst: Bad week on the chronic pain front.

    31. Emilia Bedelia*

      Best: I was in St. Lucia all week! Hung out on the beach, hiked Gros Piton, got completely sunburned, drank way too much rum punch…it was perfect.
      Worst: I had to come back :(

    32. Vancouver Reader*

      Best: Spring break!!!

      Worst: my root canal didn’t go well, I can’t drink anything cold and I can’t chew on that side and I don’t get to see my dentist again until Tuesday.

    33. BAD DRIVE TO WORK (but a savior of a car)*

      Worst – got into a car accident on Tuesday, totalled the car, and have swollen limbs that are black and blue (no broken anything, so I’m very very lucky).

      Best – was on FMLA all week, and couldn’t handle vicodin, so I answered my home landline for the past five days and yelled at all the telemarketers and those guys in India trying to get me to “fix my computer”. I spoke very loud, angry German at them and would keep going until they hung up. It made me feel much much better.

      1. Vancouver Reader*

        My friend said her aunt made one of those telemarketers cry once, by asking him how his parents felt about him scamming innocent, mostly older people, out of their money.

    34. Liane*

      Best: It’s my birthday & has been a good one. Played a solo in church and didn’t get the usual butterflies. College Son got me some small presents–including a photo book about Star Wars Rogue One. Got some other cool gits from friends too. And we just ordered takeout from over favorite Mediterranean restaurant.

      Worst: Just as the meds for his gout kicked in and he was improving, Husband banged his knee badly, so yet another week of barely getting around. Hence takeout above.

      1. Liane*

        For the record, Son got me small stuff because he is taking me to that gaming con. And Husband will be buying me a gift or 2 when he can get around better.

  10. LawCat*

    Seeking hobby ideas to explore!

    I’m not very skilled with crafty or artsy things, but I’d like to explore hobbies in this area, but I kind of don’t know where to start. What are your artsy/crafty hobbies and how did you get into those hobbies?

    1. Gracie*

      I crochet blankets and scarves. It’s easy and you can do it while you are watching TV or waiting for an appt at the dr’s office. You can make it as simple or complicated as you want. YouTube has tons of videos on how to make things.

      And you can make money off it too. I worked off and on last summer making scarves and donated them to raise money for our company’s food drive (we did a silent auction) Just 6 scarves made $120 and I had so many people ask if I took orders.

      1. PB*

        I second crocheting. I just started, and I love it! I’ve been learning from the Crocheting for Dummies book. For me, it’s easy to just leave the book open as reference while I’m working, and it’s been very effective for me. Other people I know have taught themselves using YouTube videos, or learn from a friend or relative.

    2. Searcher*

      I love drawing and prop making! I’m a cosplayer and I like to make my own things when I can. I also crochet (not too good at that one yet), and I love designing shirts :)

    3. Delta Delta*

      I like making quilts. I like puzzles and I find that putting together a quilt is like making a big warm colorful puzzle. Also, when you see you have to iron everything, and I really like my iron.

      In fact, I might start one this weekend.

      1. Colette*

        I quilt as well, and I never iron. (If I were part of the quilting community, I’d be an outcast.)

        The thing with quilting is that you just need to be able to sew a straight line. Patterns can be simple or incredibly complex, so you can choose your level. If you are intimidated by the quilting part, you can bind it using wool at regular intervals.

        In the summer, put quilting aside and make wood furniture. I have basic tools (circular saw, drill, sander) and it’s amazing how much you can make with just those tools.

        And this summer I want to make an upholstered chair. I have it mostly figured out, I just need to wait for spring.

    4. LazyCat*

      My mom and step-mom introduced me to just about any fiber-related craft known to woman (I’m 28,if it matters). Now I knit and sew clothes on a regular basis, with occasional forays into embroidery, and quilting about once a decade. (and if I had the space, time, and money, I’d get a loom!)

      In the case of knitting, the lessons didn’t stick the first time around – I retaught myself from a 1970s craft book in my high school library.

      My biggest tips would be: start small, in terms of initial investment (both time and $). Get a kit instead of buying a whole bunch of supplies, or find a class where you can try something without the major purchases (that’s how I learned to weave, and how a friend learned she liked it, but not enough to buy a big loom – a portable one is enough for her). Starting with a small project will also let you achieve success much sooner!

      Also, find a group – anyone that you can talk to if you’ve hit a rough spot! Most independent yarn shops have knitting groups, my stepmom goes to a spinning group, the Internet can probably find you a local group – or even an online community to join!

    5. Dizzy Steinway*

      I love adult colouring books, especially the Johanna Basford. I don’t love looking on Pinterest for inspiration as it makes me feel inadequate – best to just do it your own way and have fun with it.

      1. Gracie*

        lol sometimes I see the stuff on Pinterest and have to tell myself that it can’t be real. That wasn’t really done with coloring pencils and pens cause then I look at mine and I’m like… eh… But it relaxes me so I try to let it go. I know I’m not (insert famous artist here)

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I color in kids coloring books when I’m ill, haha. Because the pictures are very simple, I can do it without taxing myself. The act of coloring is very soothing. I like the more intricate ones for when I can concentrate on them.

        1. tink*

          A lot of adult coloring books have very small, intricate lines and trying to color them ends up stressing me out more, so I stick to ones geared more towards children (or that don’t market to one specific age range and have larger pictures). It’s fantastic for calming my brain down.

    6. Max Kitty*

      Quilting – I was kind of interested for a long time, but didn’t do anything about it. Then I gained a new nephew, which gave me the impetus to take a quilting class and make a baby quilt. I’ve been doing it for 10 years now.

      One place to start with all kinds of crafty hobbies is to take a class at a store like Joann and see if you like it before you get into buying a bunch of stuff. If you are more focused on something in particular, like I was on quilting, then check to see if there are introductory classes at specialty stores for that hobby (quilt shops, yarn shops for knitting or crocheting, bead stores for beading, etc.).

      1. Colette*

        Definitely agree that a class is a good way to start.

        Also, look for opportunities in your community. My library has a laser cutter and 3-d printer that you can book, for example.

    7. Charlie Q*

      1. Knitting: I tried to learn to knit 3 separate times, but it didn’t stick until freshman year of college, when my best friend taught me. Now I’m in a “Saturday Stitchers” group at my church so I take my knitting and get help if I need it. I learn best in person, but YouTube videos or photo tutorials might help you! If you learn just knit and purl (the two basic “stitches”), you can do a lot with them. Right now, I’m knitting a baby blanket to donate to a charity for infants/families in need, which is fun!

      2. Papercrafts & handwriting: I occasionally make greeting cards for friends, and I decorate my bullet journal. I have poked around online and learned a bunch of different fonts to handwrite in, which is tough and fun and gives me something to doodle when I’m in a meeting.

      3. Bad Art: My roommate hosts a monthly Bad Art Night, where we make bean mosaics and paint and make collages, and nobody has to be any good and there’s no pressure. It’s tons of fun for getting creativity flowing!

      1. Anonyby*

        Ha! I had the same troubles learning to knit! And it was my BFF who taught me one college break for it to finally stick too. :)

        And I agree, just learning knit and purl gives a lot of options on their own!

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I’m still struggling with knitting. I think it’s because of my fine motor control issues. But I have a friend who is a whiz at it–I need to get him to help me on a regular basis until I get the hang of it. Like skating choreography, it just takes me a little longer.

    8. A. Non*

      LawCat, try making those glass bubble magnets. It’s literally glass drop + image + modpodge or similar + magnet, and you can make them in all kinds of sizes and shapes and they’re a pretty awesome gift.

    9. Trix*

      I took up cross stitching a few months ago, and I’m into it. I’m not terribly artistic, but I do like creating stuff, and I am excellent at following directions, so it’s a good fit for me.

      I’ve made some fun stuff for some friends, it keeps my hands busy which helps with my busy mind, and it was easiest enough to get started that I could do it on my own.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      I like counted cross stitch, though I haven’t done it in a while. A friend got me into it. You can start with a kit–very easy, and the materials are extremely cheap.

    11. Anonyby*

      I do a ton of crafty things, depending on my mood. Knit, crochet, sew, baking (including fancy cakes), soap making…
      I’ve also done pottery a few times (though not consistently–that’s much harder to do at home!).

      I’ve just always been in to making things. An always sure-fire gift for me growing up would have been one of those craft kits they sell for kids (making friendship bracelets, making & coloring fashion plates, those little kiddie pottery wheels, Easy Bake, etc). And things that my mom couldn’t teach me, I often ended up taking classes for.

      Does your area have a community center that offers classes? That’s usually an easy way to try things out. And if you’re in a class geared for beginners, you’ll be with others that are at about the same experience level, and thus less likely to see someone doing something advanced and get intimidated (though if you tend to get inspired instead of intimidated, maybe you’d want a more mixed class!).

      Also I second Elizabeth West’s suggestion. They’re almost as easy as paint-by numbers!

    12. Aardvark*

      Knitting scarves and hats can be pretty easy and relaxing. You can do it while watching TV or doing something else. My ex-MIL did a lot of knitting, and I just kind of picked it up.

      I also do linocut (printing). I like it because it’s image-making but you don’t have to be great at drawing to do it and you can layer things for interesting effects. I started because my mom bought me some tools for my birthday back when I was in high school. I got more into it a few years back and took a class at a local art museum and just kind of got more into it from there. I like it because you can do something really simple, like a single color image printed onto a block or you can do something more complicated as you get more comfortable with the medium, like layering multiple prints or repeating a pattern.

      MakeZine’s tutorial is pretty good (though they use a complicated image, and you could start with something a lot simpler).

    13. Kj*

      Felting is fun, easy and pretty useful. It is more flexible that knitting or crocheting. If you aren’t a ‘follow the instructions to the letter person’s felting is somewhat easier than other fiber arts.

    14. Loopy*

      I’m a fan of craft things that can be completed in an afternoon and cost next to nothing.

      I’m not a super talented artist when it comes to drawing but I like doodling so I found that buying paint pens and going to the dollar store for cheap mugs and mason jars to decorate when the mood struck works best. Low investment and if you end up loving it you can bake it and keep it and use it. I usually buy a few white mugs to keep around the house for when the mood strikes and then pens have lasted a good while.

      I’m considering getting into hand sewing little simple plush things- I used to use old clothing that was too ratty/worn/damaged to donate for fabric and the scraps for stuffing- again super low investment. I’m thinking of trying to alter simple things like a cat plush by adding bat wings to make whimsical creatures to have around the house.

      Anyone know of sites with free patterns for simple things?

    15. tink*

      I actually started drawing/doodling with intent by looking up tutorials geared towards children (things like “make a cow using the letters that spell cow, draw a fox using question marks, and other simple shapes tutorials). I like basic drawing because it calms my brain down–I have to focus intently on that, so my brain isn’t focusing on a half dozen other things instead. I also knit, and got started after reading a book (I don’t remember which one, it’s been almost a half decade ago now), and I really got into it watching youtube videos. Knitting’s been a surprisingly good way to keep my hands calm during things like the NHL playoffs. ;)

    16. Marillenbaum*

      I knit, albeit infrequently. I got into it a couple of years ago when I was home at Christmas, and my mother taught me.

    17. Bonky*

      I learned calligraphy (which is not so tough even for someone who absolutely can’t draw, like me), and I collect and restore old fountain pens. Looking back, I have absolutely zero idea how or why I got into it, but I love it!

    18. Jackie*

      I love the Zentangle method of drawing patterns. I saw it mentioned on a blog I follow, so I looked into it. It’s really a calming activity for me to do plus there are no mistakes when you tangle :)

    19. Bigglesworth*

      I love wood burning. I originally got into it because I like starting campfires and noticed that just because wood is hot, it doesn’t mean that it will automatically catch on fire. :)

      If I find a pattern or picture I like, I’ll copy it onto a piece of wood and just go to town. I’m currently working on a Celtic themed bookcase that I’m starting from scratch. It might not be the cheapest hobby out there, but I love that what I make lasts a really long time.

  11. Becca*

    I’m going to Paris for 10 days over the summer. The original plan was for DH and I go with my brother + his wife, and our mom, but it looks like it’ll just be the husband and me. Thing is, my husband is not really into art museums, so I need recommendations of other things to do! Anyone have anywhere (accessible by public transit) that they recommend?

    And does anyone have recommendations of where we should look to stay? I’m leaning towards around Rue Cler (we stayed there on the two family vacations to Paris I took as a child) or the Jewish quarter (we’re Jewish and kosher restaurants are a plus).


    1. Dan*

      Is there any reason you can’t take an afternoon (or two) on your own so you can see the art museums and he can do something you wouldn’t be so interested in, and then meet up for dinner?

      1. Becca*

        No!! Good point! We’ll probably do something like that, and I will almost certainly drag him to at least one or two art museums, but most of the things I’d like to see in Paris are either really obvious (like Versaille, as Caledonia recommended below) or the museums I enjoyed there as a child. Plus, he’s horrible at details and planning ahead so I’m bearing the brunt of the trip-planning and I don’t want him to hate EVERY minute XD

        1. Dan*

          I do *a lot* of travel on my own (or was the primary planner for my party), so I’m going to offer up some advice from over the years…

          Do *not* over plan. What I’ve found works for me is that if I have stuff I know I want to do, I plan for like one day thing max, one important meal, and one night activity. Or better yet, I have list of things I want to do organized by time of day, fitting the categories I just mentioned, and on a daily basis, figure out what I want to do.

          If that doesn’t make any sense, let me rephrase: Trying to plan out every hour of the day gets overwhelming, both during the planning and the execution. “But there are 15 museums to see in one week!” Well, half the time what happens when you go somewhere you don’t know, it’s hard to figure out where everything is, and organize it appropriately. So then you end up spending half the day traveling all over the city because things got planned wrong. And then you get mad at yourself, because you had this schedule of things you wanted to do, but got too tired and skipped some of it.

          If you try and plan things as I suggested, you won’t overwhelm yourself with the planning, and drag along a resentful SO who didn’t appreciate what you did.

          For me, I’ve found that I have to plan ahead hotels, flights, and other actual travel related things, but I don’t sweat the daily activities. I’ll often plan my hotels and flights a year in advance (I use points most of the time) but I may not even bother looking at activity related things until I crack open a travel guide on the flight over.

          1. Andrea*

            Are you me, Dan?! This is what I do, too! You only need to stay one step ahead. We make lists of things that sound cool on the plane over and then let days unroll with one big thing each day. Everything else tends to fall into place.

            1. Susanna H*

              That would make me incredibly stressed and anxious. I need a clearer plan in order to be able to relax and enjoy my time.

              1. Becca*

                I’m somewhere in between you, Susanna and Dan/Andrea! I won’t plan every day (except when something is day-specific), but having a pre-arranged list of things to choose from will make it a lot easier for me— I’m rather detail-oriented, but flexibility is important, too, particularly wrt weather and how much energy I’m going to have any given day!

                One of the things I do for work is plan an 8-day summer program, so I am NOT bringing all that detail to the program for our vacation, which will be WAAAAAY more relaxed!

                Thank you so much for the advice! It’s really great to hear what works for people. I haven’t planned a vacation before, so I’m a little nervous— a lot less so now that I’m getting such good suggestions!

              2. Bonky*

                With you, Susanna – for me, a big part of the pleasure from any trip we make comes from really obsessional planning and learning about our destination! That’s not to say we rigorously stick to any plans I make, but it does mean we’re really well-informed about what’s on offer wherever we go, and for me it really prolongs the pleasure of a vacation.

        2. Lily Evans*

          Maybe giving him an afternoon or two to fill on his own will give him a bit of appreciation for how much planning you’re doing too. Just deal with the picky traveler like you would a picky eater, if he doesn’t like your plans he can make his own.

          1. Becca*

            Ha, I am a HUGELY picky eater!!! The analogy works extra well because now I can feel a little of his frustration XD

            1. Lily Evans*

              Here’s a bonus piece of picky eater travel advice then: always carry a snack with you. If you can bring boxed food on the plane and have a favorite brand of protein bar, bring a box! I’m a picky eater about some things and have dietary restrictions, and the few times I’ve gone anywhere without a back up meal bar I’ve regretted it (like the time I went to a wedding with a vegetarian bride so I thought I’d be fine… then every single entree had meat in it). It seems like a total common sense thing to pack, but so many people have acted like it’s a game changer I always mention it now.

    2. Caledonia*

      You should go and have the best ice cream – Berthillion (near Notre Dame) and also close by is the bookshop Shakespeare and Co (which has a cafe since the last time I was there) – the bookshop was featured in Before Sunset. The Louvre has much more than ‘just’ art, as does the Musee D’Orsay and the Palace of Versailles. There are plenty of gorgeous parks like Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, Jardin de Luxembourg and Promenade plantée.

      1. Becca*

        Thank you! Versailles is definitely on the list, and my mom (biggest Paris enthusiast I know, and VERY sad she can’t come– health issues suck!) has also recommended Shakespeare and Co.

        Ehehehehe I am very excited to try the ice cream!!!

        1. Caledonia*

          I’m also going to Paris in late May/June. This year I’m going to go down to the Catacombs as that is one of the things I’ve not yet done (I’ve been a few times, the last time 3 years ago now).

          1. Nallomy*

            I haven’t been to Paris since I was a teen (high school tour), but the Catacombs were probably my favorite thing!

        2. anonymouse*

          I’m a huge fan of Paris too (am planning to go this April/May for the nth time) but I have to say, I’m not a fan of their ice cream? I’ve tried Berthillion years ago, and wasn’t super impressed.

          But their patisseries are amazing…. I literally booked my Airbnb so that it’s a short walk away from my favorite patisserie: Storher’s, on Rue Montorgueil. The chocolate eclairs are the best thing ever.

          Last time, my friend wanted to go on this really cool canal tour, the St. Martin Canal tour, that is really neat because the canal is has these old fashioned gates that open and close. The tour guide does speak in French, pretty much exclusively though.

          I’ve been to the Catacombs, and it is FREAKY, yet really cool.

          I’ve been up the Eiffel Tower twice, because you must, but probably even better is hanging out near the tower in the grassy area, with a picnic blanket. It’s lively and full of people: daytime is perfect for picnicking, and nighttime, it’s lively: bring a blanket, a bottle of wine and watch the tower light up.

          Sacre Couer is lovely and has a great view of the city and the area around it is grassy, full of people, and great for a picnic.

          Have fun!

    3. Max Kitty*

      We really enjoyed a bike tour at Versailles-it included time to get some food at the farmer’s market in town, then rode bikes way down to the end of the garden/wood area to picnic–great view of the palace from way down there, and hardly any people. We actually enjoyed the bike tour portion better than actually visiting the palace (terrible, terrible crowds). We met our guide at a rail station, took the train to Versailles, did the tour, and then were left to tour the palace and return on our own by rail.

      Pere Lachaise Cemetery was an interesting visit.

      1. Becca*

        Ooooh, that sounds really awesome, especially since I am really not a fan of crowds. How demanding is the bike tour? Is it pretty much flat? (I’m guessing so, since planned gardens…)

        1. Max Kitty*

          It’s almost totally flat. The first part of the ride was in the town, then in a wooded park area where lots of residents were out enjoying the day, then around the waterway that lies beyond the formal garden area. A few stops for photos, etc. along the way. Not strenuous.

          There are a couple of companies who run the tours. We used Blue Bike Tours, which I believe is now Blue Fox Travel.

        2. Red Reader*

          Word of warning – I found Versailles to be super super crowded. I ended up leaving way early because there were so many people jammed in there that I couldn’t move or even see any of the signs to read anything. And in line to get my audio guide, I literally got pushed down and trampled on by a Chinese tour group, like footprint shaped bruises on my legs for two weeks trampled, until a lovely Australian woman waded into the crowd yelling and bludgeoning people with her purse to get me enough room to stand back up. (The counter folk just stood there looking bored the whole time.)

          1. Becca*

            Augh!!! I’m so sorry, that’s awful! Holy moly. Thank goodness for heroic women!

            I think I’ll stick to the bike tour if I end up in the area….

          2. Max Kitty*

            Oh, the palace was terribly, terribly crowded! Like pressed up against people, literally can’t move a step in some areas. I’ll probably never ever go back in there again. That’s why the bike ride was the best part of the visit.

    4. blackcat*

      Honestly, for a 10 day trip, I’d suggest leaving Paris for a chunk of time. I’ve really enjoyed both Nice and Rouen much more than Paris. Either head north (nice and cool during the summer) or south (nice beaches, but pricey during July/August) and pick another city to explore. I am unsure about kosher restaurants in either, but I do remember encountering a couple of vegetarian-only places in Nice (some of my kosher-keeping friends will eat out at vegetarian restaurants–I don’t know if you do).

      Another caveat: if you go too far afield, you may see a drop off in people who speak English. Mid-sized or small hotels just about everywhere will have one person who speaks English, but a fair number of shop keepers will speak French only (or, oddly, French and Russian in some parts of southern France, or, less oddly, German and French or Italian and French in the east).

      I’ve gone all over France, and I’ve always taken trains and buses. I’ve found it easy to very navigate, though I do speak French, which helps a lot. And outside of Paris, I’ve always found that locals are SUPER helpful. I’d say Rouen vs Paris is a bit like Minneapolis vs New York in terms of culture. Lots of Americans wouldn’t appreciate everyone judging them based on New Yorkers ;)

      1. Becca*

        Good to know! I was considering this, actually, possibly even to London— we have some friends living there.

        I took French for 8 years at school, but it’s been about 7 years since then. My French will get us around, if not in great detail, so hopefully even if we end up somewhere lacking English (or Hebrew, ha) speakers, we’ll manage!

        1. blackcat*

          You’ll be fine. Just remember “Qu’est-ce que ça veut dire?” and “Plus lentement si’l vous plait.” :)

          London is about the same distance (time wise) as nice. Rouen and Calais would be closer. I think you can get a bus form Rouen to Honfleur, which is one of my favorite towns in France. It can be a bit touristy, but it’s lovely. Le Havre is right there, too (and accessible by train) and is nice. It’s been a decade since I was in Normandy, but it was my experience that folks, particularly older folks, were incredibly welcoming to Americans there. The fact that Americans fought and died on their soil for their freedom has not been forgotten. Also in that area: awesome crepes and ciders.

          If your husband is outdoorsy, I recommend taking the train south to Marseilles (and then maybe Cassis) and hiking or kayaking around the Calanques. Also around there: great wineries, if that’s your thing.

          This conversation is making me want to go back to France. It has been 5 years since I was there. I <3 France. If my husband spoke French, it would be my dream to get a job there.

    5. the gold digger*

      The Sewer Museum is really interesting! The information is in English and in French.

      If you can read French, you might also like the Police Museum. (The information was in French only.)

      The archaeological museum under the plaza in front of Notre Dame is neat.

      And just walking in Paris is fun. Just walk and people watch – you can spend a lot of time doing that and not get bored.

      1. Becca*

        Oooh, the sewer museum! That sounds incredible honestly. One of our favorite book characters (Miles Vorkosigan) has spent a nonzero amount of time exploring sewage :3

        I love the museum under Notre Dame!!! I went there when I was 8 or 12 and it was so cool! (I was selling my husband on it earlier, actually, and I read about the early Roman town there – Lutetia – and he’s like, “OOOH, Lutetia? I didn’t know that was near Paris!” So that’s definitely on the list :)

      2. Gene*

        I came here to recommend the sewer museum. It’s on my bucket list.

        As far as planning goes, I’m on the little planning end of the spectrum. When we went to Australia for a month, we had a huge event (WorldCon) that we had memberships and a hotel reservation for – that was 6 days. Beyond that, we had a hotel reservation near SYD the night before our return flight and the rental car reserved. Period. There were hiccups; like when we pulled into a rural town for the night, only to find out it was some Scout Jamboree weekend and everything was full. It worked out.

        Having a plan for every day of a trip would make me nuts.

    6. Andrea*

      Look at David Leibovitz’s recommendations on things to do. There are a lot of flea markets and stores, depending on your interest. bike Velib is a good resource and riding the paths on the Seine is fun. I try and do stuff in a place that is what the locals do (jazz, poetry, philosophy lecture in Paris), and what I like to do in any place (try bakeries and breakfast places, bike, walk everywhere). The Paris Mosque also has a well regarded hamaam for a day spa scrub/massage. Walking tours of street art may be cool, since there is a whole vein of that in Paris. I like staying in neighborhoods ar parks, so the 14th is nice. Maria’s would be terrific. cup of jo just did a Paris city guide. Walking and looking at beautiful buildings is my fave thing.

    7. Lady Julian*

      Ha, when I went to Paris I pulled a Sabrina & spent hours just walking up and down the banks of the river, past all the bridges. It was really quite lovely & relaxed.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I am off to Paris in a couple of weeks, and from experience, you can reach almost anywhere by public transport. The RATP does various tickets and a carnet of 10 single journeys is good value. I went to the sewage museum years ago and I recommend wearing very strong perfume!

        Versailles is really interesting, but the crowds can be horrendous. I especially loved the gardens and the Petit Trianon.

    8. Artemesia*

      There are literally dozens of wonderful day trips by train within an hour of Paris. Get a Navigo Decouverte passcard for 5 Euro and charge it up for a week (m-S costs about 25 Euro) YOu can go anywhere in the Ile de France with this thing. Some obvious visits: Chartres and its great Cathedral; Giverny and Monet’s garden; Auvers sur Oise where Van Gogh lived his last days and died and is buried; Versailles or if you want to avoid the killer crowds Vaux le Vicomte chateau. Crecy la Chapelle, a charming town with canals; Provins a medieval town; Senlis, same.. (dont go to small towns on a Monday as they shut down that day)

      On the Paris metro check out St. Denis Basilica – the first gothic church in Europe and where the tombs of the French kings are preserved — truly wonderful. Get a good walking guide book and do some of the walks less central. I remember a great architecture walk in the 16th and it was fun to walk around Butte aux Cailles. The Promenade Plantee garden walk from just behind the Bastille Opera house to Vincennes park on an old railroad elevated line is a nice walk. Rent a boat and paddle around the lake in the Bois de Bologne.

      Paris is full of great things to do and wonderful parks — centrally Luxembourg Gardens and Tuilleries, further out Butte Chaumont.

      A wonderful city full of interesting things to do as well as world class art museums.

      Book your Eiffel Tower tickets on line 3 mos out, they go within minutes in the summer. Consider lunch at la Tour d’Argent with its great view of Notre Dame. Expensive but lunch is more manageable than dinner.

    9. Thlayli*

      Honestly the louvre is just one day and there’s so much else in Paris. Send him off to do something else for a day and hit the louvre (I thinks its free one day a month but that might only be for French people).

      The arc de triomphe and Eiffel Tower are awesome and there’s loads of other cool architecture – can’t remember the name but the whole area around the obelisk is wow. Don’t do what we did though and spend 20 mins trying to figure out how to cross the road to the arc! The entrance is through a tunnel and no one could ever cross that roundabout on foot.

      I was worried the moulin rouge would be sleazy but it was actually romantic and an amazing show.

      I’d never been to Disneyland so we went to Disneyland for a day trip too which was awesome.

      Whatever you do you need to remember to be fatalistic about queues. The thing you spend most time doing in Paris is queueing. Often you will get to the top of a queue, turn a corner and boom – surprise bonus queue!

      The food is just fabulous everywhere you go. Even the fancy restaurants are a lot cheaper than where I live so we were able to splurge a bit but you can eat really cheaply too.

      Make sure you include some time just to wander and enjoy the ambience. Watch Amelie if you haven’t seen it – there are little cafes / tobacconists like he one she works in on every corner it seems like and you can just drop in for a coffee or a beer or a snack and enjoy the mellow atmosphere. Try not to look too touristy for that though.

      Oh you will have an amazing time Paris is awesome. The metro will take you everywhere.

      Look into low-end hotels/b&bs / sal catering places not just hotels. There are lots of cheap basic places walking distance from champs elysees if you are willing to forgo the 99 channels and room service. All 3 times I’ve been to Paris I’ve stayed in cheap places in that area and never regretted it – being in the centre is well worth it.

    10. Jackie*

      I highly recommend a walking tour hosted by Paris by Mouth. We have done two, the Taste of St-Germain and Taste of the Marais, both excellent. And, I think staying in the St-Germain area is perfect. If you like cream puffs, check out La Maison du Chou. I discovered this little shop on a tour with Paris By Mouth and will always go back there whenever in Paris.

  12. Chocolate Teapot*

    I feel the need for an online moan.

    The building work in my block of flats shows no sign of finishing. Most mornings I leave the house having to squeeze past skips and builders’ vans. I arrived home the other day to find my power was out, so I reset the fuses and then discovered I have no light in the bedroom, as the light fitting had almost detached itself from the ceiling. Scarily, the area around the fitting was damp, so I am now hoping everything can be fixed pretty soon.

    1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Ah excellent. Nothing like living through a building site or having work done… somewhere and all of a sudden your flat is Not The Same. We had been living with half our electricity working in the flat because a mouse chewed through wiring. Landlord finally got it fixed but now the drains are doing weird things, although Thames Water was out back today with a giant drain snake and a pump truck so lets hope my bathroom sink now drains without having to plunger the shower drain! (yes, we are moving in a few weeks)

      Do you have a ton of scaffolding up too?

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Ooh yes. The facade is being reskinned, so I haven’t been able to open the windows as they have been covered with plastic sheeting.

        The builders were supposed to have finished before Christmas.

          1. Chocolate Teapot*

            Well, there is a building permit stuck to the front door, and I can’t see a year…

    2. Clever Name*

      I hear you. We’re going through a major bathroom renovation, and it’s been 2 months. It’s almost finished, but progress is painfully slow, and I’m tired of the dust and plastic/paper on our floors.

  13. Mimmy*

    We’ve been slowly making renovations to the rooms in our (small) house. This weekend, we’ve started on the master bedroom. Am I weird for finding these projects to be almost therapeutic?

    1. SophieChotek*

      No, I think (if you like decorating) it would be exciting and finally a way to put “your” personality in your space and have it the way you want (hopefully). Are you doing all the renovations yourself?

      1. Mimmy*

        Generally we do everything ourselves – it’s just mainly painting and putting down new flooring. So I guess renovating isn’t the best word to use, haha. We did have a contractor come out for a couple days this week to skim-coat the walls.

  14. AK*

    We had a small wedding with no family, now our family wants to have an event we’re not happy with:

    My husband and I got married in a small secular ceremony with just friends, and no family. We got married in the country where we live and not where my family lives.

    Now, we’re going back to visit for a few weeks and my grandparents want to have a religious ceremony for us. They say this is so they can have a ‘small taste’ of what the actual wedding was like since they weren’t there. Namely, they want us to say our vows again and have a ring blessing and exchange. We feel that we’re being told that our original ceremony didn’t count and that we have to do it again.

    We want to make them happy, but we don’t want to do anything we’re uncomfortable or unhappy with. Does anyone have any ideas for a way that we can create a wedding feel without re-doing our whole wedding?

    My parents are on our side, but they have a tense relationship with our grandparents, and I would prefer this not to become an issue that creates conflict and ruins our whole trip.

    1. Thlayli*

      If you are opposed to the ceremony aspect entirely you could just have a big family meal out or a small party?

    2. Lily Evans*

      If you have video or pictures from your wedding maybe you could do a big family dinner and screen them? You could also let people do toasts if they wanted to? And if they want you guys to say something and you don’t want to repeat vows, maybe you could talk about what you love about being married so far if that doesn’t feel too personal.

    3. the gold digger*

      If you are not opposed to a religious ceremony, I do know that you can have your marriage blessed (if you are Catholic). That is how I was going to do it – Primo and I were seriously considering eloping (which we should have done), but only to keep his parents out of it. My mom was OK with an elopement as long as we would have a blessing ceremony in her presence.

      I am sorry that your grandparents are being stubborn. I like Thalyli’s idea of just a big party.

    4. Marillenbaum*

      I don’t think you owe them this. I get that they wish the could have been there, but occasionally in life you have to deal with disappointment, and a grandchild getting married in the country where they live is not an unreasonable thing. If you want to refuse, you might say something like, “Grandma and Grandpa, I know you wish you had been able to be a part of the wedding, but Spouse and I won’t be doing a religious ceremony while we’re in town.” It might be helpful to give them a way to celebrate your marriage, though, so possibly you could have an open house? A few hours where you’re at their home with some sips and nibbles, and people who know you or them could drop in and congratulate you and they get to be proud of you in front of their friends.

    5. Jersey's Mom*

      Have a party. Don’t let your grandparents plan it, tell your Mom and Dad that you are planning it, and plan exactly what you want. Rent a restaurant, have a bar-b-que or a picnic at a local park. If you have some photos of the ceremony, get a few blown up to something you can put on an easel and have those at the party.

      DH and I got married in the midwest US and only our parents and local friends attended (and we had a “dress-up required” Halloween bash). We then had a “reception party” a few weeks later in my parents hometown for family and hometown friends. My mom did most of the planning, since I didn’t care – so she got to plan her little heart out. I drew a few clear lines — no ceremony, no religious blessings or clergy allowed. Also, no gifts allowed. It worked well.

  15. Cinnamon Owl*

    Anyone planning international travel: triple check passport requirements. Just discovered that for many destinations (Italy, specifically for my offspring) your passport needs to expire more than six months after your projected return. So you can show up at the airport with roundtrip ticket returning in 6 days and a passport that expires in 4 months and they won’t let you on the plane–but none of this appeared when buying the ticket.

    1. CAA*

      Yeah, this is a big gotcha. Passports need to be valid for 6 months after your return date. I hope your child did not miss his/her trip altogether.

      Requirements for documentation can also change after you purchase your ticket. I’m watching the EU situation closely because last week when they voted to start requiring Americans to get visas to visit the Schengen area countries starting in May. I have tickets for July, so I’m hoping they either delay implementation or figure out all the infrastructure needed to accept and process visa applications before then.

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        CAA – do you have a site or link you are using to watch this? We are headed to Sweden in May and I travel under a US passport. Which expires in November. Man… I KNEW I should have started this process in February!

        1. CAA*

          At the moment, I’m just keeping an eye open for news articles. They voted on March 3, but I haven’t heard anything about actual implementation yet.

          I find that travel.state.gov web pages are very reliable, but the definitive source for immigration requirements would be the official web page of the Swedish embassy in the U.S. Our trip is to several countries in Scandinavia, so here are the pages I bookmarked for Sweden:

          Currently Sweden has “6 months recommended” for passport validity. If your passport expires less than 6 months after your return date, I’d get it renewed now so as to avoid stressing out while the ticket counter agent at the airport figures out the difference between “recommended” and “required”. You still have time.

          1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

            The six months thing I was aware of, but was hoping I could slide through on the May trip but it will be super tight. I think we get back May 14th and the passport expires November 14th, like right on the money tight. I still have time to get something sorted before then and I have heard the embassy moves pretty quick with applications. Only wrench is we are moving in a month and the agency needs to see my passport to complete the paperwork. I guess this week is do or die on the passport or take my chances until after May.

      2. Jessesgirl72*

        Rick Steves explained that in order for the EU to enforce the Visa thing, every member country would have to approve it, which will take YEARS, if it ever happens at all.

      3. Mazzy*

        Are you sure about this? This would be crazy. I’ve seen zero about this in the news, I’d think people would be flipping out

        1. CAA*

          Yes, I’m sure the EU Parliament voted to require Americans to have visas for travel to the 26 Schengen countries as retaliation for the US requiring visas for residents of several eastern European countries. It’s been covered by the news media in the U.S. and throughout the world. I know the two sides are still working on a diplomatic resolution and hopefully it won’t affect trips for a while, but I believe it’s prudent for those of us who have trips planned this year to pay attention just in case the bureaucrats suddenly get efficient and put something in place that would affect us.

          Here’s an NPR article: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/03/02/518129824/eu-parliament-seeks-to-reinstate-visas-for-american-travelers

          Here’s Reuters: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-eu-usa-visa-idUSKBN1691Q9

          1. Mazzy*

            Oh Wow this is crazy I travelled the world and went to Poland and Romania without a visa I didn’t even know they now require one.

    2. Marcela*

      The 6 months rule is something I’ve encountered in probably every single country I’ve been. I do not remember if it’s in the embassies websites, but I’ve seen it mentioned enough so if I’m close to my passport expiration, I carry the old and the new one. It is not about time, though, but so you cannot hide a previous trip if you stayed longer than you visa allows or if it was stamped forbidding you to reenter. It would so much easier to hide things if you could just try to travel with a soon to expire or brand new passport (because for my US visa, my passport had to be at least 6 months old or I needed to provide the old one, no gaps allowed).

    3. Dan*

      I’ve been to 30 countries and have yet to be somewhere that does NOT require an expiration date six months after the return date.

      For better or for worse, the airlines don’t tell you squat about visa and passport requirements when you book. You’re on your own for that. The only reason they even bother is because if they carry someone overseas who is refused immigration, the airline has to pay a fine.

      I’ve found that travel dot state dot gov has up-to-date visa and passport information for all of the countries.

      1. Cinnamon Owl*

        When my husband travels to Asia, a warning specific to country is included when he buys the ticket. And my son just went to Canada with that ban not kicking in (as his expires at the same time as his sister’s).

        1. CAA*

          Canada has super light-weight passport requirements for Americans. It just has to be valid on the day you arrive. Practically everywhere else in the world is more stringent, and as you discovered, travel agencies vary in how much info they provide.

          In any case, the travel agency won’t be responsible for the accuracy of anything they tell you or for the omission if they don’t tell you that you need a visa. It’s the traveler’s responsibility to find out what documentation is required by the country he’s visiting and to have the correct docs on the day he travels. The airline also cares because if the traveler can’t get through immigration at the destination then the airline will have to pay a fine and return the traveler to the point of origin, so they check travel docs and interpret regulations as strictly as possible in order to avoid that.

    4. Savannah*

      Consider this rule standard for all international travel- there are some bilateral agreements that allow for 3 months but to be safe just know that you should start the passport renewal process at 1 year from its expiration date.

  16. The Cosmic Avenger*

    Argh. I need to vent, but I could also use some perspective. Warning: long story ahead.

    We bought a new car on 1/14, which I mentioned in one Open Thread. We traded in an old reliable for it, just because we didn’t need it any longer, and it was old enough that we probably wouldn’t have gotten THAT much more for it privately.

    So on 2/2 we get a voicemail that the dealership needs the lien release. Oh yeah, we had a loan on that car years ago, but it’s been paid off for almost 8 years. OK, fine, I emailed them a copy of the letter and the lien release.

    On 2/20 we get a voicemail that they really need the lien release. Huh? I call to ask WTF is going on, and they say that they need the original. Oh, makes sense, but this is 5 weeks after the trade-in and no one thought to tell us this at any time prior? While I was on the phone I asked about our permanent plates, because we’d been driving around with temporary plates for weeks now, and they expire on 3/15. We’re not the kind to wait until the last minute for…well, anything. We’re planners.

    They tell us that they don’t apply for the permanent plates until the paperwork is done on the trade-in. AND the sales manager tries to guilt/bully me into driving over there during the week (it’s the opposite way from both our jobs) to drop off the lien release.

    So by this point I’m furious, but I’m trying to remain calm because I still need to deal with them.

    So I drop off the lien release paperwork on 2/25, when I’m heading over there anyway to have the vehicle checked out, and it’s also the next weekend day after I’ve been told they need the original paperwork. I remind them that the temporary plates expire on 3/15, and if they don’t get them in by then they will have to issue another set or something. He says they’ll do their best.

    So I call today to say that the temporary plates expire this week and we need another set or something, and they say the state doesn’t allow them to issue another set. Funny how they didn’t tell me that when I was there! And the sales manager says they title department (who are probably the ones who screwed this up by not communicating about the lien release) will have to handle this, and they’re not in on the weekends.

    So now I’m furious imagining that on Monday they’re going to try to put me off until Wednesday, and then Wednesday they’re going to tell us that we just shouldn’t drive the BRAND NEW CAR THAT WE PAID FOR until the plates come in.

    So I guess my questions are 1) am I overreacting, 2) how do I calm down, and 3) does anyone have any advice? I don’t think I want to contact a lawyer because the loss of use of the vehicle would probably be less than we’d have to pay a lawyer anyway, although I’m not unfamiliar with our small claims court, and I do plan on leaving bad reviews once this is all said and done.

    1. Marcela*

      I do not have any advice, but I am a planner too and I recognized the almost red rage it comes when I feel people is not respecting the pact, being that a social pact or in this case, a particular procedure. Usually I allow myself a certain time to rant and be furious, and then I force myself to think about something else when I feel the rage growing. I really need to force me, otherwise I keep feeding my rage, and here anything works: a movie, a project, friends, walking, sleeping, anything that removes the rage from my mind.

      In any case, I would call them as often as I feel it’s appropiate. I mean, when I am annoyed because somebody’s lack of decency (see? It’s the red rage) causes a lot of trouble, I go out of my way to respectfully annoy them. So I call and call until they do whatever they have to just to stop hearing my sweeeeeet voice. And then to feel better, I leave a truthful review.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Thank you, Marcela, this makes me feel validated. You actually described my frustration better than I had been able to before.

    2. Socketed*

      Why can’t you get perm plates? I have never gone through the dealer for OEM plates. Just show up at the DMV with vin, purchase paperwork, and proof of insurance

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I’d be done doing business with them, I think. It sounds like it’s just too hard to communicate with them.

      I am not understanding why they didn’t just take the plates off your old vehicle and put them on your new vehicle. They appear to be holding your plates hostage.

      Instead of lawyering up, send an email to your state attorney general. Tell him that they won’t give you your plates on a brand new $xx car that you bought from them.
      Then tell them that you emailed the AG on this one.

      These folks are acting like it’s the first time they have ever sold a car and they are unfamiliar with the process.

      1. Noah*

        Depends on the state. I’ve lived in a few where the plates always stay with the vehicle not the owner. You are not allowed to transfer them to another vehicle.

    4. ..Kat..*

      I never had a problem with getting a new set of temporary plates previously (stuff was lost in the mail). And now in Oregon, where I bought my last new car two years ago, the super customer friendly dealership where I made my purchase did all the paperwork for me! I just had to show up later so the dealership could put the plates on for me.

    5. Jersey's Mom*

      You are not overreacting. At all.

      Calming down — I find that time at the gym, listening to loud music and/or walking my dogs for a very long time can sometimes help. Also, I will vent at my DH, but I tell him “I just need someone to vent to, you don’t need to respond, I just need to be mad out loud”. So he doesn’t take it personally, and I do the same for him.

      What might help? Everything you said above, type it out in the format of a letter with dates, times and specific peoples names. Title it to “Channel 12 News In Your Favor”, or whatever local TV station does the “help the consumer with a bad situation”. Next time you are at the car facility, get the highest level manager you can and read it out loud to them and tell them you are sending this via overnight mail, that you are completely disgusted with their complete lack of customer service, and in fact, you believe they have been actively deceiving you, and that you’ve included this in the letter.

      Then tell them exactly what you want to happen and on what schedule (i.e I want my new plates on Wednesday). Ask him/her to verify that this will/will not happen. State that this answer is going in the letter.

      Your call as to whether you really want to send the letter or not.

      Sadly, sometimes public shaming is the only thing people will react to.

  17. Namast'ay in Bed*

    I posted here a few weeks ago asking for advice on house hunting, and I’m excited to say we got an offer accepted on a house yesterday! We still have the inspection and all other fun things to go through, but we’re otherwise super excited!
    I can’t believe how fast things went, thank you everyone for your advice! Fingers crossed about the inspection!

  18. Lucy Westenra*

    Does anyone have any tips for looking older? I look about twelve, even though I’m tall, and no one takes me seriously. In my industry we wear uniforms, so clothing choices are out. I just make sure the uniforms fit. I try not to smile because it takes years off my face, and I wear my hair up in a knot like a dancer, only closer to my neck. Makeup’s not appropriate in my industry either. Any tips?

    1. charlatan*

      Are you having trouble with people treating you poorly because of your apparent age, or similar problems? If not I’d try to put it out of my mind. Usually wardrobe and hair are the quickest ways to appear older but since you can’t so that it’ll be much harder. Modulating your tone/voice is another thing but – like avoiding smiling – takes a lot of effort and seems difficult to have to deal with all the time.

        1. Lily Evans*

          Have you tried the classic, “That’s a strange thing to say to a coworker.” in response?

        2. PollyQ*

          Ah, then your problem isn’t how you look, it’s that your co-worker is an ass.

          But if you want to try something visual, you could get your eyebrows professionally groomed. That might provide a subtle visual cue.

          1. Lucy Westenra*

            I don’t have the cash for a professional job, but I do have really thick eyebrows like swallowtail caterpillars stapled to my forehead. My coworkers at an old food service job I had used to tease me endlessly about how thick they were. Thinning them out a little couldn’t hurt.

            1. Cruciatus*

              I pay $11 for eyebrow threading at this dinky place in my local mall. It’s a little weird as you have to hold the skin taut while they do the threading, but it takes less than 10 minutes and results are good as far as I can tell. I’ve never done the salon thing, but I imagine the threading is relatively cheap comparatively speaking. Also, your coworker really IS an ass.

            2. Al Lo*

              I understand that sometimes even a few dollars isn’t feasible, but you can often find eyebrow threading kiosks at malls for about $10-$12. Nail salons will also often have waxing services for about the same price.

              I also have really thick eyebrows, and while I mostly groom them myself these days, I wouldn’t have been able to do that without following what a professional had already done on my face.

        3. Jenny*

          I used to have this problem sometimes and I found focussing on the behaviour helped and not on me or my appearance – ie: “don’t treat me like a child” said nicely once and then harshly thereafter and being specific – “no, I can carry that”; “no, I’m capable of doing this” etc etc. Plus what other have said about presence – you can read books about body language from the library to help, and theres probably videos too although I’ve never tried those

    2. TL -*

      Makeup at all is not appropriate? That’s…incredibly unusual (and would be difficult to enforce; many people wear makeup that isn’t terribly noticeable.)

      Being well-groomed and making sure you speak authoritatively (lower your voice a little if it’s high, avoid the upwards inflection at the ends of sentences, and avoid filler words, especially “like”) will probably help.

      1. Lucy Westenra*

        Blue-collar work. In theory, I could wear lipstick and eyeliner, but that would be like if an attorney walked into work with green hair and a lip piercing. Not against-the-rules inappropriate, but no one does it and it would look wrong.

        1. mreasy*

          What about neutral colors, no lipstick? Depending on your skin tones, you can use a little eyeliner & mascara that aren’t bold but could help with an overall sense of polish. I disagree about the voice modulation, by the way!

    3. A. Non*

      There are voice and speaking coaches who can do things like this, too. Modulating your voice is good advice, and so is mimicking the speech patterns of those older.

      1. Becca*

        Voice modulation is a HUGE thing— seconding this! Getting clothes fitted/tailored is the most visual thing I’d recommend looking into, but it sounds like you’re already doing that. Other than that, good posture, speech patterns, and a general authoritarian tone are things to think about. Good luck!

    4. HannahS*

      It sucks, but modulating your voice so that it “sits” lower, making sure your voice goes down instead of up at the end of sentences, and slowing down your speech might help. So…basically mimicking the speech patterns of older men. I’ve found it works, sadly.

      1. chickabiddy*

        Yes to this and the above comment. People often mistake my teenager for being a fair bit older than she is, and there’s no physical reason for that (she’s short and small- to medium-framed, doesn’t do much with hair and makeup). But her voice tones are naturally low, and as an only child and a homeschooled child, she has a lot of interaction with adults and does not often fall into typically “young” speech patterns.

    5. OperaArt*

      One thing I learned about in acting and improv classes was how to quickly project status. Status isn’t just about who’s the boss, or who has the title, or who has the most money, or being stuck-up. You want to project “adult” status. I once talked to my five-levels-up boss about this, and she said that even when she walked into a room where nobody knew her, they knew she was in charge. It wasn’t the way she dressed, she look nice, but they weren’t super fancy clothes. It was all in how she carried herself.

      1. Artemesia*

        This is the key. I never had trouble establishing authority and being treated well in very sexist environments because of an ability to project that no nonsense don’t step on me aura. If your inner being is not going to put up with any crap, it does communicate.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I love this aura topic.

          I do agree, OP. One good way to project a different image is to think thoughts that match that image. While not adultlike- your coworker reeeally needs you to think, “I am not gonna take your crap” as you walk toward her. She needs to feel that vibe coming off you.

    6. Thlayli*

      Would you be open to cutting your hair? When my hair is past my shoulders I look about 10 years younger than when it’s in a pixie cut or similar.

    7. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Just a reminder not to post work-related questions in the weekend non-work thread. This one has a zillion comments so I feel bad removing it, but this ended up seeming like a work question…

      1. Lucy Westenra*

        I’m so sorry; I really didn’t mean for it to sound like that. Looking like a kid is a problem everywhere; for example when I went to get a new driver’s license the woman behind the counter told me that I couldn’t be an organ donor because I was under 18. I guess I should have used that example instead of work; it wouldn’t have changed the nature of the responses much. But I see my mistake, and if you want to remove it go ahead.

    8. ..Kat..*

      Smoke, sunbathe without sunscreen, eat a crappy diet short yourself on sleeping. But seriously. A stylish haircut, a touch of makeup, and grown up clothes can make a difference. Oops, just read your post more thoroughly. So, make sure you stand up straight and speak without young-people jargon. Introduce yourself in a grownup manner. I.e., look them in the eye and shake hands when you introduce yourself. Other than that, you have my simpathy. I had this same problem, only I am short.

  19. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    Earlier this week, I saw a gorgeous costume jewelry ring online that looked a tad pricey. I told SO I’d probably finish saving up for it when I’m much older, ie. 60 yo…jk. he replied “OR you can wait for a really shiny ring 2 months from now..”

    How did you spend the months before you got engaged? Anxious? Excited? Were there times you thought he’d propose and he didn’t?

    Just hoping I’m not setting myself up for disappointment/getting too ahead of myself lol.

    1. charlatan*

      Oh, exciting! I’m not married so I have no useful information. I think I’d be too excited and would want it to happen immediately instead of being forced to wait two months. He’s being a tease!

    2. A. Non*

      If it’s going to fall on the side of anxious for you, sit down with him and talk to him flat out. Not that he has to propose right then and there, but that it is making you anxious and you want to know what’s up.

      I’m not married and may not ever marry, but teasing like this would make me drop someone.

      1. Artemesia*

        I really think there is something not quite there yet about a relationship where a woman is waiting for a man to propose. Couples who belong together usually have come to an understanding long before they engage in any formal ritual like this. Two people should be deciding to marry IMHO not she wishing and hoping and him dangling a promise and teasing.

        My husband and I eloped and we cannot remember the moment of decision; we remember our first date and deciding to move in together — but heading off to get married? We don’t remember; it was more about ‘when and how’ than ‘if’ by that point.

        I don’t want to marry someone who is not thrilled to marry me; I’d leave a guy who kept talking about ‘someday’ being ready. ‘No ready’ is french for ‘not you.’

        1. Clever Name*

          I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this way. The woman waiting for the man to proposefeels retrograde to me. But if it. Makes people happy, who am I to judge?

        2. A. Non*

          I guess I’m of the opinion that marriage itself, while meaningful to some people, isn’t what it used to be? I’m not really sure how I feel about it, except that such a major life decision that involves more than one person should require more than one person making the decision? It’s a lot of legal changes that need to be done, frankly, and I don’t think I would let anything that’d do that just be done on one person’s say so.

          Just like I think divorce or splitting should involve both parties speaking– unless it’s something egregious, like DV or abuse, in which case it’s a DTMF. Even if there are children involved. Maybe especially so. Having a child watch/see/deal with DV/abuse patterns in adults around them during formative years is not healthy.

    3. LadyKelvin*

      My husband and I actually looked at venues and reserved the church/set a date about 6 months before we got engaged. We had been talking about getting married and when, and since we were headed to my hometown (where we were getting married) to visit I said “Well, if you want to get married next year, we need to pick a place now, otherwise we will just wait and get married in 2 years.” I didn’t really care, but I knew that the next time we’d be in the area was the same time the next year so we had to decide. We ended up looking and picking a place, but he said to me, “now don’t go expecting a ring yet.” I assumed since we made the decision pretty quickly that just meant he hadn’t bought one yet. Turns out he had one already! Which I had no idea about, and he proposed on our trip to Switzerland that summer. My advice is since you know you guys are getting engaged, and since he wants it to be a surprise, let him make it a surprise. I feel like most of the stress we deal with is wondering if he will propose. Now you know he will, so if you can tell youself that waiting patiently is for him and not you, then wait patiently. I also went ahead and started planning the wedding, which I think helped. I don’t think you need a ring to start thinking about decor, locations, etc etc. You might not want to ask your bridesmaids yet, but you can think about who and what they will be wearing.

      The tl;dr for this I guess is to pretend like you are already engaged (the ring is just a formality) and start planning your wedding. That might help with some of your anxiety about when he’s going to pop the question.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      When I was with someone who talked about us getting married, I made the mistake of thinking about it a lot. About nine months in, I said, “You know that thing you keep talking about? It sounds pretty good.” And he said, “Uhhhhh….uummmmmm…uhhhhhh….” backpedal backpedal backpedal. That was the point where I should have left. But no, I stupidly wasted another four years.

      I have to say it would be different now, even if me and a partner were specifically discussing things like marriage and kids and and how we would raise them, whether the discussion were abstract (like when you’re getting to know each other) or specific (like after you’ve been together a while and you know you’re talking about THIS person and THIS situation). I would treat it like a job offer or a query–unless it actually happens, it doesn’t exist.

      But I’m cynical like that, because it’s always the wrong damn guy.

    5. neverjaunty*

      What an odd thing to say. If he wants to propose to you, why not just do it? If he’s waiting to be able to afford a ring, why not keep quiet until then?

      Me, I’d just flat out ask him. Beats being on tenterhooks for two months.

      1. chickabiddy*

        I kind of agree. I am old, divorced (almost), and not terribly romance-oriented, but I do not quite get “planning to propose.” If you are ready to get married, make that decision, and boom, you’re engaged. (Planning to save up for a special ring or planning an announcement, I get, but I would still consider myself engaged if I was planning to marry someone.) If you’re not ready yet, how do you know that you will be ready in a two-month timeframe.

        1. FDCA In Canada*

          Yeah, I tend to agree. If you’re planning on marriage, you’re engaged–maybe you’re waiting for a special splashy proposal, but I’d still consider myself to be engaged at that point. With my husband, we were talking about marriage in the abstract after six months and in the concrete after about nine months, and we were calling ourselves engaged well in advance of the (living room, non-fancy) proposal. Because the ring was just the cherry on top.

          1. Artemesia*

            We got our rings 33 years into the marriage, so I don’t view the ring as the big deal. You are engaged when you decide to marry not when you get jewelry.

      2. Lissa*

        I agree, but this seems to be really common! I was surprised because I don’t really get it, but I have now known or known of several couples where the guy says he’s going to propose “soon”. I think maybe the idea is like, talk about marriage and find out you’re on the same page, but still want to do a traditional big proposal thing?

        1. Lily Evans*

          If I ever get engaged, that’s how I’d like things to go if the other person wanted to propose formally. The idea of a huge life decision being a surprise is scary to me, so I’d definitely want to talk about plans first. Then if they wanted to propose it would be a wanted surprise not an anxiety-inducing one!

          1. Lissa*

            Yeah, that makes sense to me. Personally if I ever get married the idea of a traditional proposal is just not something I want (*not* judging those who do, it’s just not for me), so it’d just be a discussion and then bam, engaged!

            I read a lot of books set in the past as a kid and I remember how often somebody would propose to someone they weren’t even dating/involved with and definitely hadn’t discussed it ahead of time, it was always like “why? how!” even then for me! (LM Montgomery had quite a few of these for instance)

            1. Lily Evans*

              I remember reading Pride and Prejudice in high school and being really confused at Darcy’s decision to propose the first time! It was suck a bizarre decision to me and honestly being unexpectedly asked out to the movies freaked me out enough, I was horrified by the idea of being randomly proposed to!

              1. Fiennes*

                Poor clueless Darcy doesn’t even realize it’s random. In his head, “I have spent a great deal of time in your company despite your undesirable relations” equals “obviously madly in love with you,” with a side order of “I’m so rich that you’re going to say yes.”

                1. Clever Name*

                  Darcy is such a selfish asshole. What’s funny is how women swoon over him, but I don’t think Austen intended for her characters to be likable.

          2. Allypopx*

            My boyfriend and I have already discussed the fact we’re getting married, how (elope then party later), our stance on kids, how we want to share our finances, and where we want to live. But he really likes grand romantic gestures so we won’t consider ourselves “engaged” until he presents me with a ring. So the actual proposal gesture will be a surprise but the big-life-changing-oh-god-scary decision won’t be.

            My big thing with proposals being sprung on people is that the proposer gets to think things out at their own pace and the proposee is put on the spot. I think that’s unfair.

            1. the gold digger*

              My sister was dating this guy who was a fire chief. He shows up, riding on the fire truck ladder to her 5th floor apartment, holding a dozen roses in one hand and a ring in the other. An audience, because of course you don’t just take a fire truck out by yourself.

              She was indeed surprised. As in, no idea he was going to do this. They had not discussed it.

              She said no.

              A proposal should not be a surprise!

              (I think Primo formally proposed to me about two hours before we got married, but of course he got me the Engagement Trash Can – the really nice Simple Human one – months and months before.)

              1. Loopy*

                I have a similar story but maybe almost worse. I was a senior in college and my then-boyfriend proposed at the biggest event at our college, in front of all my friends. Flustered and excited, I said yes, but we never had talked about it and at 21 I hadn’t even thought about marriage.

                After about 4/5 months I realized I should have said no and had to break it off- through no fault of his. He was a great guy and it was the worst thing I’ve ever had to do to an S/O but… I needed the time to think about marriage and I hadn’t had it until, well, I was engaged.

                I wish I had been able to say no in the moment!

              2. Bibliovore*

                I got the engagement ironing board. It was a horribly hot summer. I was wearing a lot of linen. I lived in a city and was ironing my clothes on a towel on the floor. Contemplating buying an ironing board and dragging an ironing board home on public transportation was just paralyzing to me. I mentioned this in passing. The next day Mr. Bibliovore showed up at my apartment with a deluxe model ironing board. (I would never have sprung the money for it) I knew that this was the guy I would marry.

        2. Overeducated*

          I think it’s still culturally a thing. My husband and I decided to get married about 6 months before we got “officially engaged” (by which I mean telling our families and friends and actually planning the wedding) because he wanted to get me a ring and propose traditionally. I don’t think it should ever be a surprise but it can still be a ritual.

          I was a bit anxious though. I didn’t understand why it would take so long to get a ring, which was not that important to me, and my lease was ending and I am traditional enough that I wasn’t going to move in with an SO I wasn’t marrying in the very near future. So I was like, “just tell me, should I be staying with my current roommates after all?” and he was like, “No, no, just wait a little longer!” Turned out he was having a custom ring designed and made, which was cool.

          It all worked out. Big romantic gestures and traditional gender roles have not played large roles in our subsequent marriage, and I care a lot more about an equitable division of household labor than who proposed and how!

      3. Elkay*

        I thought I was just being old and grumpy. I’m married and yes, he proposed but I really wish I’d just been straightforward and spoken to him about it because he wanted it to be a surprise and I wanted to know what the hell was going on and was inadvertently messing with his plans.

      4. Not So NewReader*

        Agreeing with you neverjaunty.

        I told my guy that I was not big on surprises. I saw a modest ring I liked, he said he would buy it. Boom. done. (Turns out this little ring has a nice stone. Jewelers put on their loop and look, then almost drop it. It’s not a ring that jumps at you, so they are surprised that it has a quality stone.)
        Even the modest ring is part of the story. I am not into the splash. It’s fine for other people but I find it too nerve wracking.

    6. Trix*

      One thing I am a huge fan of is proposals not being unexpected. The actual act can be a surprise, sure, if one or both of you want that. But a proposal shouldn’t be the first time you talk about it, and you should both be on the same page and feel good about where you are. Here’s what worked me and my fella when we were at that point.

      We talked about it. There was one time that I thought he was going to propose and he didn’t. So I asked him about it. We talked about marriage as a concept and as it relates to us and what we each wanted and what kind of timeframe we each had in mind. We decided to get married several months before we got engaged. I don’t mind surprises, but I hate not knowing things. So just after Thanksgiving, he said he wasn’t going to propose before my birthday (which is in a few days actually, so he was saying it’d be at least 3 1/2 months out). Two days after my birthday, he proposed.

    7. Trix*

      Oh, and a tip. Make sure he knows your ring size so it already fits when you get it. Otherwise you have to either give back your pretty ring for a few days/a week, which is never fun, or risk something happening to it because it doesn’t fit properly.

      And congratulations and have fun and enjoy each other!

      1. dragonzflame*

        We just went and chose one together (as he pointed out, I’m the one who’s going to have to wear it for however many years, so I should get to choose too, especially as I’m picky about jewellery!), had it sized there, then he stayed it away to be brought out when it felt like a good day to do the actual proposing. I wouldn’t have enjoyed one of those grand gesture surprise proposals.

    8. Not Australian*

      Just wondering why, in 2017, you’re waiting for a guy to propose to you? Why don’t *you* propose to *him*?

      1. Carmen Sandiego JD*

        I actually offered to, a couple of months back, but he said he wanted to do it himself. It goes back to his own family upbringing, his father proposed to his mom, etc. and it would truly make him happy, he said.

        And I don’t want to deny him his happiness/his joy at planning.

        Tl;dr: I tried <:)

          1. Carmen Sandiego JD*

            Nah, I’m good. I prefer happy anticipation. But I appreciate your input.

            He and I have had hours long discussions for the past 2 years, so it’s not a surprise, he knows the exact cut/clarity, and he knows my ring size.

            We’really good. And I’m happy :)

          2. Marcela*

            The funny things is that I keep thinking that the simple offering to propose is a proposal! I mean, the question was already half asked, it’s there in the open already. :D Congrats, Carmen.

    9. Red Reader*

      My fellow told me before we were even dating (we were friends for almost a decade) that he didn’t think he would ever get married again. Not only was he fresh divorced, but his mom had been married six times, etc etc, and I said ok, no big, in twice divorced myself so whatever, and literally never thought about it again.

      In fact, when he proposed on our second dating anniversary, it took me a good several minutes to figure out what was going on.

        1. Red Reader*

          He was all “so speaking of rings…” and held up a pretty one, and I was like “oh, that’s nice.” After a minute he goes “uh, do you have any idea what’s going on here?” And I said “huh? No? Wait, what? Oh. OH. Seriously?” He literally head-tabled and said “okay, take two” and started over, haha.

    10. Thlayli*

      my husband got the ring a few months before he actually popped the question and I knew he had it coz I designed it and arranged to have it made lol (I know I’m weird but I’m the one who has to wear it and I knew what I wanted).

      I was 7 months pregnant when he finally popped the question and it didn’t fit my swollen pregnancy fingers till baba was 3 months old lol

      We already had another child so it was always really a matter of when than if – so I wasn’t too excited really. It was just same old same old while I waited I knew he wanted it to he romantic and was just waiting for the right time. He organised babysitting for us for a weekend away and that’s when he did it.

      The only real difference during the waiting was that every time we argued I would plot in my head How to get the ring off him if we broke up haha!

    11. Clever Name*

      This was almost 20 years ago, and flashy engagements weren’t really a thing then. I guess the closest to a proposal was when my then college boyfriend told me he had gotten a job offer 2 states away and he was planning on accepting it and he wanted me to move with him. I was a sophomore in college and I told him I wasn’t moving anywhere for just a boyfriend. So he moved and we dated long distance for 6 months. We decided we’d rather be together, so we decided I’d transfer schools and get married. I moved and 6 months after that we announced our engagement and set our wedding date. We picked out a ring together.

  20. My cat is a unicorn*

    I got lasik! I posted last week about the nerves and not being sure if I could go through with it but I did! It was painless but very uncomfortable and mentally taxing. I have had no pain, dryness or light sensitivity and 24 hrs after the surgery I was seeing 20/25 and legal to drive.
    However last night I was walking home and instead of seeing halos at night (very common side effect) I was seeing a prism out of my right eye. Apparently it is a very rare side effect. So rare I only found reference of it in medical journals. It is cause by the initial laser when creating the flap and should be “transient” but it is very unnerving and I knowing how rare it is has really got me worried. My next post op is Monday so I am trying to distract myself until then.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, I’m so glad you were able to go through with it, and I’m glad the result seem pretty good, if a little weird.

    2. A. Non*

      That sounds awesome! Do you mind if I ask what your vision was before you did it? I’m looking at lasik but my vision is bad enough that the last time I looked at it, they wouldn’t have been able to fix my vision entirely.

      1. My cat is a unicorn*

        Before the surgery my prescription was -3.5 which equaled 6 secs under the laser for each eye. The higher the prescription the longer under the laser. From what my eye doctor said they will perform lasik on up to -9.

        1. blackcat*

          I have an eye doctor willing to do it up to -11, with the caveat that you are unlikely to be 20/20 afterwards. I think it just depends.

        2. A. Non*

          Okay, then I suspect (though I have an appointment coming up anyway) that it’s still not possible for me.

          1. Ktlezbeth*

            I have a friend with vision bad enough that Lasik wouldn’t fix her vision all the way. She asked if they’d do the best they could, reasoning that then she could wear normal contacts, thin glasses, and sort of get around without either. The eye doctor hadn’t thought of that, but was willing and she’s happy with the results.

            1. A. Non*

              I’ve had glasses for so long, and contacts for decades at this point, that I don’t know if I would be happy with that. I might wait some more and see if technology catches up.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Hopefully the prism will go away. Yay for you!

      I want to do this so much. I don’t mind if I had to wear reading glasses to read–but I’d love to be able to not mess with contacts anymore. I can’t see as well out of glasses (probably because I’m so used to lenses right ON my eye).

    4. Al Lo*

      My night vision improved noticeably every single day for the first week after my LASIK. It was mostly halos for me, but I was astonished at how much change I noticed day to day. Hopefully you’ll notice the same thing over the next few days!

  21. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

    I posted a few months ago asking if anyone here had volunteered for CASA before. I started my training back in January, was assigned to my first case at the end of January and I absolutely love it so far.

    What organizations do y’all volunteer for? What do you like about it?

    1. charlatan*

      I know a woman who has been a CASA for a couple of years now and she can’t say enough great things about the work and the impact they have on the children they work with. It’s difficult, sometimes heartbreaking work but so rewarding. Good luck.

    2. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

      I like to volunteer with Together We Rise, an organization that provides duffel bags and contents to foster kids, who usually move between houses with all their belongings in a trash bag. They also host an annual family reunion at Disneyland for foster kids who have been separated from siblings through the system.

      1. Dizzy Steinway*

        I love that you do this. It sucks that they still use trash bags – over here (UK) they’re now banned from being used for this purpose. At least in theory.

    3. chickabiddy*

      I was a CPST (certified child passenger safety technician) for many years and helped parents choose carseats and learn to install and use them correctly. Misuse is staggering — many studies show it well over 90% and in the eight years that I did carseat checks, I saw *one* car where all kids were in properly installed and used seats. My official certification has lapsed now because the SafeKids events no longer work with my new schedule but I stay active and hope to recertify next year if I can start getting back to events.

      I liked doing it because I felt that I was making an actual difference in kids’ lives by making sure they were safe on the road. I also — and this surprises me because I normally don’t like puzzle-type exercises and I’m not super strong — found myself enjoying the challenge of getting three seats all safely installed in a small sedan and was secretly thrilled when big burly firefighters would ask middle-aged 5’3″ me for help because it turns out I’m pretty good at getting seats rock-solid.

      1. Nallomy*

        Oh, that sounds really interesting! I wonder if there are opportunities like that near me.

        1. chickabiddy*


          You can also volunteer with your local SafeKids to see if you think you would enjoy doing check events — there is a need for non-certified people to do things like scribe, help with paperwork, and entertain babies/kids while the tech and the parents are working in the car.

    4. Dizzy Steinway*

      I used to volunteer working with teens at risk of youth offending – mentor type stuff. Just hanging out, doing activities and really listening.

      Then I got a job working for a charity that means I don’t have the emotional bandwidth to volunteer as well. But I loved it when I did it.

    5. SophieChotek*

      I’ve volunteered for a homeless shelter (through the local county, but my church assists to handle the volunteers and really promotes service so that’s how I got involved). I’m hoping to do some stuff for the local county foodshelf (which my church also partners) in the summer — been in touch with head, but don’t have time at the moment since I’m working my third job (but the third job is seasonal).
      When I lived in Massachusetts I volunteered with the Mass Commission for the Blind and would go monthly (?) to help a legally blind lady who lived in an assistant living facility to go through her mail and stuff. But honestly she never had much mail; I think mostly she liked have someone to talk to and visit with. She had family but I don’t think they lived nearby.

  22. i want to rant anonymously*

    An acquaintance spent all morning getting defensive on social media and insisting that she’s an ally and not homophobic after she said that she supports gay people but doesn’t want to share a locker room with them because she’s scared they’ll be checking her out.

    Yeah. Not casually homophobic at all. The acquaintance is no longer someone I follow on social media, but I’m pretty much at my limit with straight people who say they’re LGBTQA+ allies and then go around saying or doing casually homophobic things. Like saying if LGBTQA+ rights are taken away, the protests would be “fun” because it’s the queer community or getting defensive when someone says a movie/TV show they love is stereotyping or laughing at queer people. Or acting like they know the community better than I do or that they’re an expert on LGBTQA+ issues and activism.

    It’s exhausting. I’m really tired of it.

    1. Marcela*

      I do not understand that argument at all. Once my dad tried to use it to explain why he is homophobic. Then I asked if he thought it was fully reasonable for me to be deeply afraid of ALL men, because only men have -sexually- attacked me, so I was beyond what could happen, to what did happen. He was so surprised I wanted to slap him. Of course he sputtered that not all men are the same, blah blah blah, to which I replied that the same argument could be said for gays, and I was not a scientist to even consider such stupid nonsense as a valid argument. And unless he would be willing to accept that his reasoning would allow me to consider him an abuser, he needed to shut up. He did.

      1. A. Non*

        I did this to my mom. She says she’s okay with things but she doesn’t know why “they” need the right to marriage equal with her own marriage. I used Eve Bunting’s Terrible Things and her own marriage (my father is an immigrant from Africa, you could say he’s African American and you wouldn’t be wrong) as a kind of ‘next step’ after denying one person’s ‘they’ basic human rights.

        She started thinking about it and has never brought it up since, so I suppose I either got through or I flummoxed her.

    2. LCL*

      I think it would help if all people clarified terms a little better. Homophobia has become synonymous with prejudice towards and stereotyping LGBTQ people, and those concepts are not the same. None of them are good, but the approach to take to educate people about them, if one chooses, should be different. Marcela’s response to her dad was perfect for countering homophobia, but wouldn’t work for someone who said LGBTQ people shouldn’t be allowed to get married.

      1. Charlie Q*

        Just because homophobia has the -phobia ending, that doesn’t mean it only means “fear of gay people.” Prejudice & stereotyping of LGBTQ+ folx definitely is part of homophobia. It’s accurate.

        1. Dan*

          Well, then I’d have to say that the word has such a broad meaning that it’s almost meaningless. Wiki says this: “Homophobia encompasses a range of negative attitudes and feelings toward homosexuality or people who are identified or perceived as being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).”

          Crud. That definition is so broad that almost anybody can be construed as homophobic, which is really a disservice to the LGBTQ community.

          1. neverjaunty*

            Oh, c’mon. Nobody nitpicks and well-actually’s the definition of ‘ailurophobia’ by loftily saying the word is improperly used for those who merely hate cats but aren’t actually afraid of them.

            If one is hesitant to use a possibly inaccurate term for people who fuss about ‘what if lesbians check me out?!’ or ‘can’t they just call it something other than marriage’, there are plenty of other terms that can be used. Many of them don’t fit the AAM comments policy.

            1. Dan*

              I’ve never heard of ‘ailurophobia’, and it’s not as if it carries the same negative connotation in our society that homophobia does.

              What I was getting at wasn’t whether or not homophobia means “fear” of homosexuals” or “hates” homosexuals, but the negative attitudes and feelings applied toward a wide spectrum of the LGBTQ community. LGBTQ encompasses a wide range of non-hetro people, and that’s what I was getting at when I said “homophobia” is overly broad.

              1. Lily Evans*

                I feel like that’s almost the same thing as saying “racism” would be too overly broad because it includes a wide variety of races. It’s not as though it’s more okay to be prejudiced against one type of LGBTQ person than another, so I’m not sure how an umbrella term is doing anyone a disservice?

                1. Dan*

                  No, but a lot of people have been confounding racism with nationalism, so that would be an equivalent parallel.

                2. fposte*

                  @Dan–but racism can be nationalism. The American definition of the term isn’t the universal one but a later offshoot; outside of the U.S. it’s a lot closer to nationalism.

              2. Gaia*

                Hatred is often rooted in fear. Evolutionarily, it makes sense, right? Something that is ‘different’ is a risk to the survival of you, your family, the community. Humans are highly in-tune with things that look like faces, but aren’t. Small differences in body language that suggests an impostor or danger etc. So xenophobia, homophobia, etc while they don’t often express as actual ‘fear’ these days are based on that fear of the unknown – of the different – and are expressed as hatred because that is what makes sense it today’s society.

                None of that is to say that any of that is okay. It is nonsense. We aren’t neanderthals. We are evolved and have no need to fear a diverse and inclusive society. But it is to say that the -phobia words are, in fact, correct. Sometimes fear expresses as hatred because we don’t understand the fear.

            2. Myrin*

              Agreed. I’d also say that that quote from Wiki isn’t actually true, really. I mean, I’d guess that most straight people who have something against gays and lesbians (so, homophobic) are also prejudiced against other queer orientations; but if someone thinks that I, an asexual, am weird and icky and not normal I wouldn’t think of them as homophobic as a result (even though they probably are, as well).

            3. Cath in Canada*

              I think xenophobia is a good parallel – the word encompasses dislike and prejudice as well as actual fear. At least, it does the way I understand it.

        2. Katie*

          I think it is so widely used because usually hate and prejudice have their root in fears, even if it’s not like “Eeek! A gay person! Run away!” kind of scared.

    3. PokE*

      Try not to be too upset at/angry with your acquaintance, maybe she had an experience like mine or worse. I had bad experiences in the middle school locker room with one particular lesbian. She would pull back other girl’s shower curtains and laugh with whoever she was standing there with, she’d pants you, and would definitely check you out in a very gross manner and she made a whole lot of people uncomfortable. She was a jerk in general though. Additionally, a lot of girls/women feel highly uncomfortable changing in front of people, especially people that may be judging their attractiveness, gay or straight, it doesn’t matter. They feel vulnerable.

      1. a*

        Being uncomfortable changing in front of others in general, or feeling anxious when you’re reminded of past bullies, is reasonable. Assuming that all LGB people are going to be predatory is not.

          1. a*

            Well, yes, but I’m saying that OP’s acquaintance is implying she’s scared that *gay people* will be predatory (eg, leering in the locker rooms or acting like PokE’s classmate). And I don’t think that’s a reasonable assumption, or one that an ally would make.

      2. chickabiddy*

        That girl was a bully and a jerk. She was also a lesbian. Those are not related. I know lots of girls who are bullies and jerks who are not lesbians.

        1. PokE*

          Agreed. Doesn’t mean that I’m not weary of certain people in certain circumstances because of past experiences and that’s okay.

          1. Gaia*

            So if she had been a heterosexual black bully would you never feel comfortable around black people again?

            I’m just really confused at the logic here. One lesbian treated you poorly and therefore all lesbians are a risk?

        2. Cath in Canada*

          Exactly. I once had a woman hit on me very aggressively at a party – like, wouldn’t take no for an answer aggressive. But it wasn’t because she was a lesbian, it was because she was a drunken asshole, and she didn’t make me afraid of or uncomfortable around all other non-straight women. It did make me feel uncomfortable around her friend, i.e. the guy who’d brought a whole bunch of shady drunken asshole characters to a geeky office Christmas party full of science nerds, though…

      3. Lissa*

        Ok, but what do people want to happen? Separate changing rooms for gay people? (Do bisexuals like me get our own room?) Predatory behaviour from middle schoolers is awful, but not a reason to discriminate as an adult.I get feeling uncomfortable with being in a vulnerable position around somebody who could conceivably find you attractive — we are socialized from a very young age that that’s a big part of the men/women separate changerooms spaces — but there’s no way to prevent that ever happening. I mean, I experienced a lot of unfortunateness in middle school locker rooms but it was from (as far as I know) straight girls doing the judging!

        1. PokE*

          You’re very right that you can’t prevent that from ever happening. Doesn’t mean you have to like it or be comfortable with it. Personally, I don’t like changing in front of anyone.

        2. Myrin*

          Yeah, “but there’s no way to prevent that ever happening” is really where I’m at.
          If a lesbian who doesn’t find you attractive shares a locker room with you, she’s not going to check you out.
          If you share any given random space with a lesbian who finds you attractive, she might check you out.
          The locker room really has very little to do with that whole thing and is basically a strawman.

        3. i want to rant anonymously*

          Exactly. My big issue is that, as a queer women, I’m more terrified that a straight individual is going to make a fuss about me being queer in the same space as them. I have more to lose than they do just by existing in the same space. I know I’m not the only one who often feels uncomfortable in majority straight spaces because of this. Or who has had to deal with someone saying, “well, one time a lesbian/gay/bisexual/trans/ace/etc did or said X to me and I’ve been wary of those people ever since”, as if that gives them justification for casual bigotry.

          Like I said in one of my other comments, if you tell me you want to change in private because you don’t like changing in front of anyone, I totally get it. If you tell me you want to change in private because I’m queer, then you’re telling me that you have a problem with who I am and you’re judging me and my intentions solely on the basis of my sexuality. That’s not okay.

          1. Lissa*

            I have to agree with this. I really think the danger/fear is greater for a queer person in a changeroom being bullied or harassed than it is for the queer person to be the harasser/bully. Which doesn’t mean that every LGBT person is a saint or that none of them have been predatory, of course, but we’re in the minority to a point where it just isn’t the same thing.

            I mean … when I was kind of on the verge of coming out, and hinting around at it, one of my friends told me she could never stay friends with a girl who asked her out, but she could with a guy, because she’d always think that the girl was creeping on her, and I felt it was directed at me. Whether or not it was, I remembered that forever..ugh, I don’t know.

          2. Sylvia*

            I agree. I’ve also had some really strange experiences with straight girls in this situation, ranging from weird sexual comments to being flashed pretty intentionally.

            It’s not like I’m thrilled to be in a locker room, either. I just want, like probably everyone, for us all to kind of pretend we can’t see each other until we’re out.

          3. Gaia*

            Also there is this weird idea that just because someone is a lesbian, they are clearly checking out all the naked women. As if lesbians are attracted to *all* women. It comes off very…predatory.

            1. Fiennes*

              A male friend of mine, when college aged, went to a party with a gay friend of his. He hadn’t realized most attendees would also be gay men, and he felt uncomfortable. When his gay friend asked why he was being so quiet, he said he was scared the other men were checking him out.

              Gay friend put a hand on his shoulder and said, “I hate to break this to you, but you’re not *that* hot.”

              To my friend’s credit, he cracked up and chilled out.

          4. Bentoro*

            As a lesbian (and I look like one) I am paranoid when in a locker room. I either avoid them or use them as quick as possible and try not to look up because I don’t need to be accused of staring. I’m not taking the risk of someone causing a scene, which is not a nice experience.

      4. i want to rant anonymously*

        That’s not an excuse to be casually homophobic to an entire group of people.

        What happened to you was bullying and I’m sorry you had to deal with it. Plenty of people don’t like changing in front of other people. That’s okay and understandable. But there’s a difference between saying you don’t want to change in front of anyone and specifying that you don’t want to change in front of certain sexualities. The former is understandable, the latter is bigoted.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Gah, that is ridiculous and infuriating at the same time. Somebody said that to me about a gay friend of mine–“But aren’t you worried she’s checking you out?” I was like um no, because 1) we’re friends, almost like sisters, and it would be like checking out your SISTER. And 2) I’m not her type at ALL.

      Just because she’s gay doesn’t mean she’s thinking about boinking me. Just because I’m straight doesn’t mean I think about boinking every dude I know, meet, or see.

      1. i want to rant anonymously*

        Yeah. I lost a number of female friends in middle school, high school, and college because they assumed that I would be checking them out or trying to hit on them because I liked women. I had another friend who I later learned refused to come out because she was worried about losing female friends.

        It’s depressing and it kind of perpetuates the idea some people have that you can only be friends with people like you.

        1. neverjaunty*

          “Lesbians have way better taste than that” is perhaps a bit aggressive, but I have gone beyond caring about the tender feelings of bigots.

        2. Myrin*

          Ugh, I’m so sorry that happened to you (although, in hindsight, probably good riddance?).

          I will honestly never understand that argument. It perceives of queer people as solely sexual people whose sexuality somehow works differently from straight people’s, even though it’s exactly the same, just with a different “target group”.

          There was this meme many many years ago I always think about when this comes up. It went something like “Guy: thinks no woman will ever be interested in him; Guy: OH MY GOD EVERY GAY GUY WANTS MY D*CK!”. My memory is a bit fuzzy so it was much more on-point in reality but you get the gist. If not every straight man is into you, not every lesbian woman is going to want to get into your pants.

          1. chickabiddy*

            Agreed. I don’t want to be around predatory people, regardless of their gender or orientation. I am not really concerned that my lumpy, middle-aged, no-shave-November-gone-wild, mom body is going to provoke an uncontrollable wave of lust, but even if it did, the problem is the uncontrollable, not the lust. Decent people may occasionally like what they see, and that’s a normal human reaction, but they know better than to do anything at all about it,

    5. fposte*

      What raises my eyebrows is that she felt the need to randomly state this–I’m presuming she wasn’t being asked her opinion about locker rooms. It’s not so much that she thought this as she felt it important that people know that she thought it.

      However, I also think the issue isn’t as simple as we’re discussing it. Sexual possibility is a big main reason bathrooms and locker rooms are divided in the first place, so saying never mind, that’s not a thing, it’s just about gender identification raises the question of why there’s a division at all, then. Is it just about keeping women from having to see penises? Because that’s kind of weird too.

      (Note to friend: clothing does not stop people from thinking about you sexually, and there will definitely be straight people who will notice and have thoughts about your naked body too.)

      1. i want to rant anonymously*

        It was part of a larger conversation someone else started about how casual homophobia is rampant in mainstream society and the issue of shared spaces came up, which led to her comment about locker rooms, which led to other people calling her out on it, which led to her saying she wasn’t homophobic because she didn’t want to share a locker room with queer people.

      2. Lissa*

        I have seriously thought a lot about this! I think there are a lot of factors in why gender segregation, and sometimes it can come up in interesting ways. There was a Dear Prudence letter a few weeks ago about a woman whose teen daughter was bi, and had a girlfriend. The mom was like, OK, I am in no way homophobic but I’d not be OK with her having a sleepover with a boyfriend, but would with a female friend, so what should the rule be? I think Prudence said something like “different rules for SOs makes perfect sense”. The thing is that things were just assumed heterosexual for so long that sexual possibility/gender difference were never separated. I think that some of the concern is definitely around safety but a lot is really just comfort. I have several female friends who have told me they’d be uncomfortable with a male doctor giving them a physical, and that they’d change their shirt in front of a lesbian, but not a gay man, even though one would be presumed to possibly attracted to them and one wouldn’t. It’s not that they think they’re in danger of assault, but we’re socialized that being naked in front of the same sex is OK and opposite sex isn’t.

        Anyway. I guess my point is that I think a lot of the reason for these separations are socially arbitrary, and some of them are already starting to break down. I think that increased acceptance and awareness of LGBT issues is hastening this. Like, it used to be that a married person wouldn’t really have friends “alone” with the opposite sex, or it would be considered sketchy, and it would be reasonable for somebody to not want their SO to spend time alone with someone based on gender. But that sort of breaks down when it’s like “Well, OK, my best friend came out as a trans guy, now I can’t spend time alone with him?” or “I’m bi, can I have *no* friends?”

        Sorry that was way too long. Anyway, yeah, it’s complicated. And fascinating to this bi person!

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, it’s interesting, isn’t it? I also think people are so awkward in locker rooms anyway that they don’t like anything that raises the alarm–we’re basically deer who will bolt at the slightest irregularity at that point.

      3. Gaia*

        Part of the reason is because of the risk to women. Men are (on average) bigger and stronger and more aggressive than women. Therefore, having men and women naked in the same space poses an inherent risk to women, so the thinking goes. Having women in the same space as women who find them attractive is less risky because they are on even footing, on average.

        1. fposte*

          Which may be true, but that’s still a moving of the goalposts. I’m curious to see where those posts go next :-).

      4. Elizabeth H.*

        Locker room and bathroom segregation by sex is so that you’re with people who have the same type of body as you do, which makes most people more comfortable. This has always seemed pretty intuitive to me. It’s true that “difference” is one of the components of sexual attraction between heterosexual people so having different type of body is not totally inextricable from sexual attraction, but I think it’s more just that you are really familiar with the body parts that you yourself have and so it makes sense that like types are grouped together. It’s hard to put into words 100% but I think that considering there is this one basic category that divides virtually every single human into one of two binary types it just makes sense.

        On a different note (and not directed specifically in reply to this comment) not everyone thinks in a perfect world we would all get our own private changing areas. I feel like people are so weird about nudity in America. I actually really enjoy being naked in locker rooms etc. even as a slightly shy/introverted type. I guess I like it in general, but I feel like there is kind of a wholesome locker room vibe when with other naked people of the same gender.

    6. Anon for this one*

      I don’t think that makes her a homophobe in either sense of the word. I am neither afraid of nor bigoted against straight men but I would not want to let them see my naked female body. And i am neither prejudiced against nor afraid of gay women but I wouldn’t want them to see my naked body.

      I don’t particularly want straight women or little children looking at me naked either but at least I know they wouldn’t be looking at me as a sexual being in any way.

      I don’t assume all lesbians would find me attractive nor do I assume that all straight men would find me attractive. I don’t assume all lesbians would he predatory nor do I assume all straight men would he predatory.

      I simply don’t want anyone who is attracted to my gender seeing me naked unless it’s part of a mutually desired sexual experience. I don’t think that makes me a bigot and I think it’s actually pretty offensive that you apparently think I am a bigot because of this.

      I don’t understand why it’s considered socially acceptable for a straight woman to say that she would he uncomfortable undressing in front of a straight man, but it’s considered horrifically bigoted for a straight woman to say that she would be uncomfortable undressing in front of a gay woman.

      Do you think your friend is being bigoted against straight men by not wanting them to see her naked? I doubt you do. Why do you think she should be forced to be naked in front of gay women but not straight men?

      1. chickabiddy*

        > Why do you think she should be forced to be naked in front of gay women but not straight men?

        Unless there is a whole lot that I am missing, nobody is “forcing” anybody to be naked in front of anyone else. People who don’t want to take the chance that someone might possibly feel a flicker of attraction are free to shower and change at home. Women should be able to use women’s changing rooms without being forced to out themselves.

      2. i want to rant anonymously*

        No one’s forcing anyone to change in front of anyone else. And yes, I do think it’s bigoted if a straight woman assumes that any man who sees her naked is lusting after her sexually. It’s being biased towards against an entire group of people that’s rooted in your own issues and insecurities.

        The problem is it’s implying that as a woman, I should be made to change somewhere else because a straight person is uncomfortable by my identity. It implies that you think queer people should be segregated into a different space on the basis of our sexuality. It’s saying I’m lesser than you, that my existence is not as importance as yours because you’re the majority and your needs are above my own.

        So, yes, it’s bigoted. If you want to claim to be offended, fine, but realize it’s coming from a place of straight privilege and bias against queer women. Saying you know straight women won’t look at you sexually, but insinuating queer women might merely because they’re queer is casually bigoted. You don’t get to claim to not be prejudiced when you don’t want to treat queer women the same as heterosexual women.

      3. Lissa*

        I get what you are saying on one level, but I really don’t think that the main reason for separate change rooms is so that nobody might ever see someone naked who might be attracted to them.

        And again, my question here is — what is the solution? Since it’s unreasonable to do an orientation check on everyone who goes into a change room at a swimming pool, it seems to me the best answer is just for everyone to keep any potential attractions to themselves, and if somebody really really hates the possibility, to never undress in front of again.

        Out of curiosity, would you be OK with undressing in front of a gay man? Is it really just all about potential attraction? I am *not* calling you bigoted, nor am I offended, but I am curious as to your mindset because it is so different from mine!

      4. Lily Evans*

        You want to deny women access to spaces dedicated to women because of their sexual orientation. It’s also such a weird sentiment because 1. no one should be ogling other people in a changing area and 2. no one wants strangers ogling them in a changing area. I’m attracted to women but that doesn’t mean that I’d be okay with other women making sexual advances toward me in the locker room. It also doesn’t mean that I look at other women in a sexual way in locker rooms. Like most normal people I just keep to myself and change and I expect everyone else to do the same. If the possibility of someone glancing at you and thinking something sexual makes you so uncomfortable you should change in a private stall.

      5. Sylvia*

        I don’t want to see y’all naked, either. In a perfect world, we would all get private areas.

        But we don’t have a perfect world, and in this one, this attitude leads to queer people being harassed during or excluded from parts of everyday life like going to the gym.

        Who said anything about force?

      6. Marcela*

        One thing that bothers me about this argument is the idea that naked bodies are instant turn on. What do you do on the beach, then, where clothing is mostly just for protocol? Do you think all people there are ogling you? I am seriously not trying to offend you, Anon for this one, but it seems very arrogant to me to think that any straight male who can see my naked body is going to lust for it.

        I’ve never seen anything like in Spain, where I loved to be able to do topless and when even very old ladys would do it. Nobody looked at anybody else’s body, and surprisingly you would get fully naked when changing in gyms, something I never did in my country, where we use to have individual stalls for changing. This very same thing also makes me wonder if that when people say naked, they are saying “in my underwear “.

        1. Anon for This*

          The thing is, for me at least, pure nakedness from a stranger isn’t sexy. Nothing sexy about a locker room in the slightest.

          But yeah the poster above is part of the reason I’m not out at work (we have a gym at work). I’m not entirely sure what the poster would expect me to do exactly, if I’m denied access to the women’s locker room.

    7. ..Kat..*

      “That sounds like something a homophobe would say.” Then let awkward pause happen…

    8. Marillenbaum*

      I’m sorry, that really is crap. I’ve been going through something similar with a friend and classmate who loves to go on and on about how progressive she is (and how horribly racist her grandma is, which is just so much fun for me), but also says really othering stuff about “mixed-race babies are so much cuter!” and stories about how she used to be an adult literacy volunteer ‘in the ghetto’. I’m biracial and identify as Black, and I’m not really interested in having my looks fetishized, or telling a white friend that they’re such a hero for going to poor non-white neighborhoods, or even propping them up for disliking a racist relative. None of that is my job.

    9. Mazzy*

      I witness an oddly racialized comment today at a recovery meeting. As FPoste says below, what is most interesting to me is how these things come up at all – what is going through their head that makes them think that race or sexual orientation has to do with a topic, and then why say anything at all?

      So I was at a meeting and this guy starts about how he is so happy he can help such a diverse group of people such as blacks, latinos, and Jews, because there aren’t people like that in Wisconsin where he’s from. Thank God his time limit ran out and they had to move on.

      So where do I even begin. OK, so we help addicts. If there is ever a time in one’s life when your demographics matter least its when you hit rock bottom with an addiction. Even if there are studies about certain groups being more prone to different addictions – even those don’t matter anymore because everyone we’re dealing with is already an addict. So any stats on whose more likely to do x or y are thrown out the window because we already know the outcome – the person’s an addict.

      Second, my area has a decent amount of folks of European-Jewish descent (think Amy Schumer types) and half the time you don’t even know they are Jewish until they tell you, which doesn’t really matter either way, but it just confused me why you would divide up the people by ethnicity like that when the groups aren’t even different.

      It was just like he lumped together anyone who isn’t Northern – European white and patted himself on the back for helping them. But what is the implication then? That non-pasty white addicts are more in need of help? Or are they less able to help themselves? Or are their addiction stories different so are more interesting?

      His comments were very telling as to how he thinks. Time and time again you hear people of all backgrounds saying that they are surprised at how similar the addiction stories and feelings are across generations or economic backgrounds or whatever. It’s probably one of the top times in life where all that stuff gets thrown out the window. But this guy had to bring it all up in a weird self-congratulatory way.

    10. Anon for This*

      I’m a bisexual woman. Let me tell you that the locker room is a thoroughly non-erotic place to be. I don’t want to check out other women, I want to get changed to go to my class and then shower and get changed again. There’s absolutely nothing sexy about it.

  23. Stressed To The Max*

    When you’re so overwhelmed by one particular aspect of your life that it consumes your enjoyment for doing anything fun in the rare moments of downtime, how do you move past that?

    Lately I’ve been so drained by stuff happening during the week (work stuff, house chores, job searching, running errands, and other basic necessities of being an adult) that I don’t want to do anything fun when the weekend comes. I had tentative plans to go visit family and to start on a big crafting project but now that I’m at the weekend, I’d be happy to just curl up on the couch with Netflix and order-in take-out. I don’t mind giving into that now and then; the problem is that I’ve been feeling this way for the past few months, basically since the winter holidays passed and I no longer had holiday commitments that had to be done. My friends and family have even noticed my lack of doing my usual hobbies and wanting to go out with them, and are worried about me.

    There is nothing that I can cut back on to ease my stress (my job is probably my biggest source of issues but I have to stick it out until a new opportunity comes so staying at terrible job every week and job searching are necessary evils, as are the basics of taking care of my house, pets, and personal wellbeing). But I’ve lost touch with the things I care about. An event that I really wanted to go to is happening this weekend; I meant to plan to go but completely lost track of it. When I realized it was too late for me to go, I was bummed but also thought ‘thank goodness I don’t have to put any effort into going’. An event that I love going to and I was glad not to go because it felt like so much of a hassle. I don’t want to keep feeling this way; I want to be part of the things that make me happy. But I’m so tired and stressed that I can’t do them and are glad to put them off, which just make me even more sad and depressed.

    TL;DR: Necessary things in my life that I can’t cut back on are leaving me too tired for the things that actually make me happy. How can I get back to enjoying what makes me happy?

    1. TL -*

      Can you let your house get a little messier (especially if you’re not entertaining much?)

      And can you start small – maybe just one small thing every other weekend (like 2 hours or less and with minimal planning requirements?) and then build up to skipping every third weekend and so on? My guess is you’ll start to build up energy just from doing them, but you’ll need time to build up energy. And, probably, to retrain your brain from being stressed to letting go of stress once you’ve left work.

      Also, it sounds like a counselor and/or talking to your doctor might be useful if it’s been persistent for a few months (if you’re not already!)

    2. Marcela*

      I guess I am in your same boat. I love sewing but for the life of me I can’t get the spirit to even open my sewing machine. I am very tired, my company is kind of in danger so we are working extra hours, and when I come home, there are mountains of dirty clothes, dishes, the cat needs to be fed, his litter box cleaned, I need to shower, shave, etc. Every little thing takes energy that I could use to saw, so on Saturdays I don’t have anything left, and I only want to watch Miss Fisher’s mysteries or Perry Mason.

      However, I’m not worried yet. Once I read some story about somebody moving to the country, and being surprised for being tired at the end of the day. One neighbor told him that this was normal, not his life from before. So, given that I am working more, and driving hours every day because of a extreme commute, it’s fine to be tired and kind of overwhelmed. Eventually it will end, either because the external things will end, or I will get used to it, or I will reach my limit. If by then I’m not able to go back to sewing, then I will worry, and it seems you are also in a stressing moment, so perhaps the stress is just using too much of your energy, and that’s fine for now, until you get a better job. Sometimes I think I’m not doing enough and yet how I am this tired, and then I realize I’ve been worrying, and that by itself is very tiresome.

    3. Anonyby*

      I’m in the boat with you. (hugs!) I have weekly commitments to friends that I haven’t backed out of, but everything else was slipping past me.

      I second speaking to a doctor, as well as starting small. I was just so sick of not doing anything that I forced myself to work on a knitting project. I could do part of a row. Maybe 50 stitches? But it was progress. I was those 50 stitches closer to finishing. Then I’d do a whole row, and more and more. Last night at the S’n’B? I got four rows done, finishing off the first of two charts. Most I’ve knit in a long time!

    4. PollyQ*

      Not going to diagnose, but these are all classic symptoms of depression. I would recommend a visit with your primary physician, to rule out any underlying physical issues, and then maybe an appointment with a therapist.

    5. Chaordic One*

      Been there, done that.

      The job search wasn’t going very well, and in retrospect I wish I had quit toxic job. As it was, I ended up being fired.

      1. Stressed To The Max*

        I’m on the verge of quitting. I have an end date a month or two away in my head that if nothing pans out with my apps, I’m going to quit. I have a few things to get in order before I can, but I do have enough in savings to get by for a year without a job (and kind offers from friends and family of assistance because they know I’m in a bad situation). I’d really rather not leave without something new to go to but the recent toll on my mental health has been bad enough that in considering doing it. And it’s been pointed out to me that better to leave gracefully on my own terms than continue a downward spiral that could get me fired.

        Thanks for the advice and kind words.

        1. Chaordic One*

          I was reading an article where the writer suggested starting a job search, but also setting a deadline for yourself. If you haven’t found a new job before you reach the deadline, then turn in your resignation when you reach the deadline. The writer gave himself six months, but that might be overly generous. Maybe give yourself two or three months, if that’s all you think you can handle.

    6. ..Kat..*

      Can you hire out anything? Such as hire a maid, a groundskeeper? Get a meal delivery service?

  24. Lily Evans*

    I’m traveling to Iceland and England in early April and I was a bit worried about how the weather would be, but if the weather continues to be like it has been this week it’s going to turn into a warm weather holiday for me! It was a good 30 degrees Fahrenheit warmer in Reykjavik than it was in Boston when I checked this morning and London was in the 60’s, which would probably feel tropical to me at this point. I just want winter to go away.

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        April can be weird – its either gorgeous out and everyone is in the park or it is blustery and cold (sun shining if you are lucky!) or driving cold rain. Be prepared for both situations!

        And, oddly, 55 here really does feel tropical. I don’t know if its the humidity or what but 55+ starts feeling really warm, especially if you are on transport and they haven’t turned off the heaters. Or turned them up (Thameslink I am looking at you).

    1. Becca*

      My in-laws went to Iceland in the winter and it was still really gorgeous and interesting— it’s definitely not ideal, but whatever the weather, it’ll be an awesome trip!! Have fun!

      1. Lily Evans*

        After I’d already booked my flights, I ran into several blogs talking about how Iceland during winter can be fantastic!

    2. Annie Mouse*

      From a England perspective, definitely reccommend a raincoat and a warm jumper or fleece or something. It’s unusually mild at the moment but I was driving in hail the other day!! The thick of winter seems to have past though (I hope!). Enjoy your trip :)

      1. Lily Evans*

        I tried to aim for the end of winter but still not super touristy season, so I’m hoping it works out well! I’m really looking forward to it!

    3. Elizabeth West*

      April in London! I’m so jealous! It’s lovely, with flowers everywhere. But it can be a bit on the cool side. I was very happy with a light spring trench coat (I wished it had been black, as a tan coat gets FILTHY on the tube). But also very glad I had remembered to put knit gloves in the pockets. And a scarf; I wore them all the time anyway.

      Layers are your friend! And yes, it will rain off and on. Definitely take your umbrella. About Iceland I have no clue but it’s on my list. :)

      1. Lily Evans*

        That’s a good tip about coat color! Fortunately most of my wardrobe is black, so I’m all set for that. And I’ll report back about how April in Iceland is!

    4. Fiennes*

      I went to Iceland in early April a few years ago, and it was delightful. Sweater and coat weather, but not to any uncomfortable degree. Went to the Blue Lagoon while it was snowing and relished the luxury of steaming in this mineral spring while snowflakes fell in my hair.

      1. Lily Evans*

        That sounds amazing! Like sitting in a hot tub while it’s snowing only a thousand times better!

        1. Fiennes*

          I remember thinking it was like I was in an Enya video! Definitely go to the Blue Lagoon & a couple other mineral baths; it’s a good evening activity.

        2. fposte*

          I went to an Icelandic community pool and hot tub while it was below freezing in April–it was wonderful to swim in the warm water as steam rose from it into the chill air.

  25. Worrywart*

    I gave in to impulse and now have tickets for a trip to China (yay!) but am a little concerned about the political situation. As well as experiencing some major mom guilt about leaving my 18mo kiddo behind. Any tips to make things easier?

    1. Dan*

      In China? Get a translator or do things with organized groups if you can. I’m all for doing things on one’s own (I’ve been to 30 countries) and as pretty much an English-only speaker, China was about the only place I even thought about wishing I had a translator.

      1. Artemesia*

        When China was preparing for the Olympics a number of their tourist sites got signed in English as well as Mandarin. We had a guide but didn’t need one in Xian for example as the stunning museum there was dual signed as was the site where the warriors were found.

        WE did fine in the old Canton (Guang Czoh?) using the metro as it was signed in Pinyan nad we could plot out our trips. We had no trouble getting around in Beijing either.

    2. SophieChotek*

      China will be very interesting I think; I would love to go back, I have not been there for almost 20 years. (Although I was in Taiwan in 2014 and 2015). How exciting!!!!

      (I don’t know if the Chinese in mainland China do this, but in Taiwan, a lot of people like to carry their own chopsticks to restaurants — especially the stall on the street kind–, you can get all kinds of cool sets and different kinds and designs and sizes, and some that fold up small and have their own cases, etc. Looking back, I’d purchased a few more sets “for fun” since I don’t know when I’ll go back.)

    3. ..Kat..*

      Check the US State Department (I think this is the right organization) website for any travel precautions.

    4. Bonky*

      What political situation do you mean? I have to go to China a few times a year for work; I think you’ll find it remarkably benign. Have fun – it’s a fascinating place!

      1. Gaia*

        If they are in the US, I would guess they mean the rising tensions between Washington and Beijing. If you don’t go often, it is hard to know how much impact that will have.

        For the OP, in reality, probably none.

  26. Anon For This One*

    Lovely Child (first & only) is heading off to a fairly prestigious university this fall. Unfortunately didn’t have many options for the chosen major, and this really is a great school overall & there is no doubt about attendance for all 4 years. We’ve all been stressing over cost, though. It’s about $25k/year after the school’s scholarship and financial aid. All other scholarship avenues result in rejections. There’s just not any financial help here, either. Bills are paid and there’s not much left over. Ideally work/study would be a no, as grades seem to be better when there aren’t schedule restrictions, and actively involved in service organizations & a small online business bringing decent “fun money” or for groceries/small monthly needs. $100k in student debt is…not desirable. Anyone have any advice on getting more aid from private universities, good scholarships, or advice about student loans in general? School counselors do not offer any assistance with these tasks, or anything other than announcing a FAFSA night out on by the local community college..

    1. TL -*

      Work/study if it’s university sponsored is generally pretty flexible about letting you study on the job and understanding about finals. And work in the summer/winter breaks – you can earn at least a couple thousand over a few months, generally. That’ll help. Most of my friends (and me) didn’t work our first semester in college and then got at least work/study jobs our second semester and worked through until we graduated. Part of college is figuring out (by failing, usually) how to manage your time wisely and you have a lot more free time to work with compared to high school.

      Beyond that, after they’ve declared a major Student can ask their department if they have any scholarship money floating around (sometimes they do and they haven’t offered it out yet). The college financial aid department will have good information on available loans, ect…
      FastWeb has a whole bunch of scholarships you can continuously sift through and apply for and it’ll be good to check with any organizations s/he’s involved with – some of them might have scholarships that aren’t heavily advertised.

      1. regina phalange*

        +1 – Ask. My sophomore year of college, my very expensive, private university yanked ALL my financial aid b/c my sister had graduated and my parents no longer had to pay for both of us. But I still needed a job. So even though I was told to suck it, initially, when I went in person to financial aid, they found $2000 for me and got me a work study job at the law school. Asking never hurts. I know it isn’t the same as a scholarship, per say, but I got money when asking for it after originally being denied. Good luck!

      2. Mike C.*

        Yeah, work study will be incredibly flexible. I was a bio/math major and I just worked in the various labs so it meshed well with my class work.

        1. TL -*

          Yup! I did paid lab work over the summers and TA’ed the intro labs during the school year. Very fun, flexible, and not demanding at all.

    2. Hoorah*

      This is not what you want to hear probably but here’s my 2c.

      Is his degree at this school really worth a crippling debt?

      If he is studying a major that’s likely lead to a six figure income as a graduate, $100k student loan is still a good investment. Alternatively, he may be incurring a crippling debt for little return which will affect his lifestyle and decision making for the next decade. Or longer.

      If he starts his adult life with a $100k debt, this is going to set him back significantly in terms of long term financial planning, buying a house etc. It’s going to factor in his relationship/family planning decisions. Salary is also going to be a much more significant factor in his career decisions (“I like Company A much more than Company B but Company B pays way more so I have to accept that offer”). Once he starts earning he’s going to be on a diminished income until his debt is repaid.

      Is it really worth all that for the perk of printing Prestigious University on your resume and business cards?

      1. blackcat*

        Yeah, 100k in debt isn’t just “not desirable” but is actually “crippling.”

        I do have one friend who paid back 100k of student loans before the age of 30. We were super close in college. He went into i-banking to pay back the debt. He ended up on coke, because all of the other 20-something guys in the office were on coke. He became a horrible person, and lots of us basically kicked him to the curb. Once the debt was paid and a nest egg built, he quit, went to rehab, got his life back on track, and slowly his friends are coming back. But it took away 7ish years of his life completely, and probably permanently damaged his health.

        For my other friends with high student debt (I have about 10 friends who graduated with 60k+ in debt), they are struggling to make ends meet, delaying having children, staying in jobs they don’t like, not going to grad school, etc. And most are looking at at least another 10 years until the loans are paid off, so a couple of my friends doubt they’ll be able to have kids at all. All of them wish that someone had told them what this about of debt can do to their lives when they were 18. I think a couple would have made the same choice, but most wouldn’t have.

        If he has any other college options that would be more affordable, I recommend that he look very closely at them. Maybe he can transfer to Prestigious U after 2 years. Maybe he’ll discover that he wants to major in something else that is great at Local Public U.

        1. AcidMeflux*

          Totally agree. Maybe the kid should take a gap year; work, save money, and take his time looking into other schools. There’s no rule that says you have to go directly from high school to college.

      2. Becca*

        One option to help save money in this situation is to defer for a year, work, save money, and take some gen. ed classes at a community college (as long as they transfer). It might not be necessary to spend so much for so long. (It could also be a foot in the door for a reliable summer job, which can sometimes be hard to find.)

        1. Anon For This One*

          She’s actually taken most of her basics through her high school’s dual credit offering.

          1. blackcat*

            Then will it be possible for her to only spend 3 years in undergrad? If so, then the 25k/year is more reasonable.

          2. TL -*

            Will her college accept the credits? Prestigious and private colleges often are extremely stringent about which courses they’ll accept – mine only took about half of my credits and none of them were really “basics”; they were all fulfilling liberal arts requirements that were not related to my major.

            Also, if some of these are related to her major, she might want to retake the classes anyways because often upper division classes are designed around their lower division curriculum.

      3. Anon For This One*

        It’s not the name – it’s that there are really only a handful of schools that offer this major, so yes, we’ve weighed the options and given all of the details (location, travel, program ranking & opportunities, alumni & culture), it’s reasonable for her go there. Name wasn’t really the selling point, just an added bonus.

        1. Dan*

          What about career prospects after graduation, money wise? How much are you willing to help out with if your daughter has trouble finding a job, or doesn’t make what she expects? I have to say that one thing that really sucks about picking a college major based on income potential is that a lot tends to change in four years.

          It may be reasonable for your daughter to go there, but is it really reasonable to borrow $100k to do it? That’s a lot of money to pay back from a job that requires just a BS/BA. (If she’s planning on grad school, or it’s all but required for her field, tack that on to the bill.)

          I borrowed what amounted to $92k for my BS and MS. If I put all my loans into full repayment on a 10 year plan, that would have cost me $800/mo. I’m 37; I just hit the six figure mark salary-wise. I live in an expensive metro area, where my rent costs me $1500. That student loan payment is the difference between me renting and owning a house, or at least having saved the down payment for a house.

          I have to echo what the others have said above — if I knew I would be starting off my adult life with $100k in debt, I may have made other choices.

        2. TL -*

          So there’s a good chance that s/he’ll change her major at least once (that being said, I didn’t and neither did my older brother so it’s definitely not a given.)

          But honestly, it sounds like going to this school is going to involve either working year-round – even if s/he has to take out loans the first year, you can start paying them back as soon as you take them out and many of the federal don’t accrue interest while you’re in school – or having crippling debt upon graduation.

          Depending on the loan agency, $100k of debt can be up to $1000/month in payments.

        3. Hoorah*

          The answer depends much on the major and job/pay prospects. If studying, say, Art History comes with a $100k student loan – I would gently steer my child away from that choice of study.

          At your daughter’s age, she’s ultimately studying to carve a path for a career and financial independence. It’s great to study something you are passionate about. But if that comes at a cost of a crippling debt that’s going to dictate most of her adult life choices until it’s paid off, I question whether it is worth that price to pay.

          Don’t forget the indirect costs of a heavy student loan – you may end up supporting her partially or helping her with a house deposit etc. Is that likely to affect your retirement plans?

          1. Anon For This One*

            She’s mentioned moving back home for a few years to pay down some of the cost. I think she’s at least open to the idea of roughing it for a few years to get it to a more manageable amount. With the degree she’s going for, I’m not sure it would work location wise as we currently live in “the middle of nowhere” and we’re thinking the closest location prospect would be about 3 hours away.

            1. Hoorah*

              So when she graduates, she’s either going to live with you for free and face unemployment…or live off and graduate salary and at the same time try to pay off this $100k debt? How is that going to work out?

              I would sit down and do a realistic budget of her approximate salary, living costs, and calculate how long it will take to pay off her student loan. If she wants to have kids at some point in her 30s, factor that in.

        4. Mrs. Fenris*

          How well does the job in question pay *relative to the cost of the degree?* This is an enormous issue in veterinary medicine right now. The cost of vet school is at least as great as human medical school, and the income, especially over time, is significantly less for veterinarians than for MDs. As a result, every time a friend tells me that their child wants to go to vet school, I very sincerely tell them not to do it. Not that a single one of them listens to me.

      4. Delta Delta*

        Not to pile on, but this is *just* undergraduate debt. Adding graduate or professional school on top of that is going to add another $150k. This is not a small amount of debt.

        1. Book Lover*

          I didn’t incur any debt from undergrad (scholarships), but ended up at about 60k from medical school. I paid it off quickly and it was worth it, but I didn’t anticipate having difficulty finding a job at a good salary. If she doesn’t have the same income potential, 100k is a pretty scary amount.

          Also, perhaps I am out of the loop on these things, but does anyone care what an undergrad major is? I did the major that got me the pre-reqs I needed for medical school. Is it possible to go to another school, do another major, and then focus on whatever this is as a masters or other graduate degree? Again, I am probably clueless on this but just wondering.

          1. TL -*

            For your first job, yes. If you’re in a STEM field, yes in that you need to have a related major if not a specific one. English majors have a much easier time getting editing/writing jobs than math or economics majors. Analyst positions are often looking for business/finance/econ/math majors; same with computer science. Some majors are more flexible than others; some are less.

            My brother is an aerospace engineering major; I was a biology major. We both work in our fields and our majors definitely matter for that!

          2. Delta Delta*

            That’s the boat I was in; no undergrad debt but about $65k in law school debt. There’s no guarantee law students will get jobs with good salaries (or at all), so these days that can be sort of daunting. As far as undergrad majors go, I’m not so sure it always matters. For med school there are obviously pre-reqs, but people can take those science classes and still major in something totally different. I majored in something that would seem completely inconsistent with being a lawyer; many of my colleagues majored in completely different things, too.

            On the other hand, there are undergrad majors that may make a masters or other graduate degree superfluous. I’m thinking of a friend who has a BS in landscape architecture. She didn’t need to go get a masters afterward because her bachelor’s training was complete enough for her future work.

      5. Fortitude Jones*

        I was just talking about this in the Friday open thread, Hoorah – I agree with everything you said. Taking out that much money for a bachelors is a huge mistake, one I know all too well. Anon For This One, try to apply for grants and make sure your daughter works if you all are dead set on having her go to this school. Borrowing is not a good idea, especially if she’s going to graduate with a soft degree.

    3. blackcat*

      Also be aware that some schools may decrease the amount of aid awarded if the student gets outside scholarships. That tends to only be the case if the college is meeting “full financial need,” and that may not the be case here.

      (I am well aware that “full financial need” can be well short of what people can afford.)

    4. FN2187*

      So I have about 90k in student debt. It was a combination of poor financial planning and my parents and I not knowing what the hell we were doing (first gen college student here). I went to a relatively affordable good flagship state university, but it racks up fast. I started undergrad at the height of the recession. There was just no money to be distributed. Had I started three years later I would’ve had a mostly full ride. THAT is difficult to live with. On top of this all, I studied abroad in France — which I absolutely do NOT regret — so that added about 10k in debt.

      I’m also headed back to law school this, but thank god I have a scholarship this time.

      If I could do it over again…I would DEFINITELY make sure that the degree in question has good career prospects. Is there positive job growth? Is it stagnant? My first career choice had NO growth whatsoever, and I didn’t find that out til after I graduated. Bad move, FN2187! Also, is paying for housing out of pocket a possibility? On campus housing can be ridiculously expensive, especially the meal plans. Get the smallest one possible (for example, I just had two meals a day — I would have cereal or something for breakfast). That can honestly save thousands of dollars over the course of an academic year. I think if my parents and I had been able to work something out with housing, I would only have about 50k in debt. Sigh.

      Also, summer university jobs can pay really well! Look into every opportunity!

      My biggest failing was not having a plan…at all. I just had zero idea what I was doing. No plan for a job or for how to pay off this debt. When thinking about law school, I started out with a plan — it’s made such a difference.

      I hope this helped — I don’t have much to offer in terms of advice, but I’ve been there.

      1. Anon For This One*

        We are also in the first gen. college student boat. Many had said that would come with some good scholarships, but we’ve yet to find them..

        1. blackcat*

          Honestly, part of me thinks that colleges count on first gen students and their families not knowing how things work. They pitch it as following dreams, say that a college education is the ticket to economic success, and get families to pay WAY more than they can afford. And I swear it’s just to make the university look good.

          I teach in a summer bridge program for first-gen college students, and I definitely get the vibe that the university is seen as a ticket to success. 90% of the students I teach are going to be engineers, so the debt is generally going to be worth it. It will be the ticket to success for them. But I’m super skeptical of how the university recruits first-gen liberal arts students. By what I’ve seen, the promises are generally hollow, and 90% of students would be better off spending 1/4th the $$ at a public university. I teach at a good university, but not truly top-tier. Truly top tier schools–the ivies, the top 20 small liberal arts colleges, Stanford, MIT etc–are both worth the debt and less likely to ask you to go into the debt. It’s the mid to upper tier schools that endowments of less than $250,000/student that seem to pull this stuff. (The schools with $1mill + of endowment money per student generally offer WAAAYYY more aid. I went to such a school, and it’s a world of difference between those schools and the type of place I teach at now).

          So I advise extreme caution both with taking on the debt and in dealing with college officials who promise it’ll all be fine. If your daughter is in a STEM field, then she should pursue summer opportunities. I wrote a recommendation for an engineering student for an summer program that has a 7k stipend (and room & board are free).

          1. TL -*

            Yeah, one of my friends was a first-gen student and he got hit with a 16% interest rate on Sallie Mae loans his junior year. He and his parents didn’t know any better. :(

            There are some majors where it makes sense to go to a more expensive school but it can be hard to tell until after you’ve graduated, unfortunately.

        2. Temperance*

          It’s a lie. There are not oodles of scholarships for people in that boat. They lie about it. Source: I was also the first person in my family to go to college, and got jack.

        3. Dan*

          The reality is that full ride scholarships are hard to come by. You’ll also find that there are a lot of one time scholarships given for the freshman year, but aren’t offered after that.

    5. CMT*

      Your child should have some other thing in their life besides just studying. Otherwise they will have absolutely nothing on their resume when they graduate. Plenty of people manage to do work study jobs in college without it affecting their grades.

      1. Anon For This One*

        She will have an internship, it’s required for the program, and she’d like to do more volunteer/student coordinator activities or positions. Her cousin did a few similar and it opened a few doors for him. I’d rather her do something more along those lines where applicable than do something entirely unrelated to her field of study.

        1. TL -*

          She can work and be involved in student organizations/volunteer – I did it. So did all of my friends save one, who didn’t work. She’ll have to get good at managing her time, but college is a great place to practice.
          The internship will likely only be her senior or junior year.
          And Alison has talked a lot about how valuable actual work experience is, even unrelated to your field. If there’s an internship component already included, the value of being $40+K less in debt is going to far exceed any connections she may miss out on.

      2. the gold digger*

        My college requires personal interviews of applicants. As an alumni volunteer, I interviewed six applicants this winter. One kid was super involved in school activities – like five or six of them. He asked what activities I did in college.

        I laughed and told him that between going to class, studying, and working, I didn’t have a lot of free time.

        He was bewildered – did I regret not having participated in clubs/student government/sports/etc? What do I wish I had done?

        I told him I wish someone else had paid all of my tuition and expenses and given me spending money so I didn’t have to work 15-20 hours a week during school and 60 hours a week during the summers.

        BTW, not one single one of the kids I interviewed has ever had a job.

    6. Kj*

      Honestly…. I’d be surprised if the major doesn’t change at least once. Would it be worth deferring for a year and knocking out basics at Local Community College first? Most majors have basics and all schools have distribution requirements. Alternatively, she could go to this school, but do summer classes at a community college to get done faster and cheaper.

      Work/study is non-stressful. I also have to say if she can’t handle some light work and school, the working world is going to be tough on her. Service orgs are nice and all, but work/study might be a better use of time. It is regular commitment and they know student workers are students first. It is good work practice AND respectful of education.

      Teens tend to change their mind. I’d be cautious about her locking onto a major and feeling she CAN’T switch schools because she is at this school for this major, then not liking the major. I know about 0 people who majored in what they went off to college to major in . I don’t mean to sound so down, but 100k of debt at 22 is not healthy. It could set a lot of things off track. I got through school (undergrad and grad) debt free and was a home-owner before 30. If I’d had debt, that would never have happened.

      1. Mike C.*

        This is why I really like the way my school structured their curriculum. A third was humanities, a third was the basics in all the stem majors offered and the remaining third was your major. So you had a year to try stuff out and even deep into the next year you could usually switch out and use the other courses taken as electives.

      2. TL -*

        I would caveat it’s really chancey to take classes with the intention of transferring to a liberal arts/Ivy League type school. They tend to be really, really picky about which credits they’ll accept and even pickier about which credits they’ll allow to count towards a major/minor.

        I graduated with ~$25K of debt and felt it was reasonable. I had to pay ~$100/mo (I chose to pay more to pay it off faster.) I don’t want to buy a house and have never felt like the debt kept me from anything important (sure, some odds and ends I wanted but it’s never held me back.)
        My friend with $100K of debt has a monthly payment of 10x mine and he feels quite the opposite – it’s a major hardship that’s kept him from reaching financial milestones. I totally think some debt is reasonable but it depends on how much and who the lender is (the federal government is best.)

    7. Ann(on)*

      When I was at private u, work study was VERY flexible, but also paid VERY poorly (minimum wage). What paid a whole lot better:

      – babysitting ($10-15/hr in 2004, could do homework at night after kids were asleep, also very flexible hours)- for professors but mostly for the community at large
      – tutoring local hs kids ($15/hr in 2004)
      – waiting tables (I didn’t do this but good friends did- either while in school or on breaks)
      – stipends and free housing over the summer to work for professors that got big grants (not huge $$$ but I typically got $3k in stipend plus free housing over the summer, then did a side gig nights/weekends).

      Retail was a pain- poor $ and inflexible hours.

      I also never bought books (do people even use books anymore or is it all e reader??) because our library had copies of all course books. You couldn’t check them out but I just did all my work at the library.

      I also didn’t do a lot of expensive socialization (fancy dinners/brunches/trips to The City) and instead hung around the frats and drank free beer. I also ran our student activities council which had tons of cash and socialized through the parties I threw there.

      I didn’t study abroad for partly financial and partly academic reasons (i double majored and graduating on time would have been tricky with a semester overseas anywhere I wanted to go). In hindsight, I’d ditch one of my 2 majors and go abroad.

  27. Gene*

    I didn’t post last week because I was at Emerald City Comic Con all weekend. I wore the Rambo Brite costume the first day and normal (for me) clothing the second. I posed for a lot of photos, meet new people, ran into some people I know, and found a young minion. https://www.instagram.com/p/BRR5lLxhuh3/

    I took a lot of photos, I would guess ~15% were in some kind of costume. I hunted down and photographed every Louise from Bob’s Burgers I could find. :) I went to lots of panels on costuming and got some good ideas on how to realize my costuming visions.

    Now I can say I’ve been to one, but with an estimated attendance of 90,000, I’m not sure if I want to do it again. The show floor was way too packed for me.

    1. Kj*

      I was at ECCC too! Just one day though. It was packed and I can only handle one day a year. At least they had quiet rooms this year.

      I surprised at all the Louises. Some of the kids dressed up as Lousie, I really, really, really hope don’t watch the show though….

  28. Jessesgirl72*

    Both DH and I are covered in paint from painting our bedroom this morning. We ordered in lunch, and freaky fast has now taken 43 minutes, and 13 minutes ago the guy at the store swore our order had gone out. So not amused! And the minute one of us leaves to get something else, it will show up!

  29. SandrineSmiles (France)*

    Last night, I might have prevented a murder.

    It was the third time since January that I’d heard noises from downstairs neighbors. First time, just noise, I don’t say a word. Second time, I can hear very clearly that the woman is trying to break up, but still, it seems too violent. So I call authorities. They come, stay for maybe 5 minutes, and leave.

    Last night, third time. A friend of the couple is present. The noises start. The man seems to be drunk. The friend ends up upstairs, knocking at my door and begging me to call the police. His hands are covered in blood. I go downstairs, I’m white, they’re black, and even though the local authorities are nice, they’re all white and, well, you know, one can be wary in the current political climate (yes, even in France) . So in my head I’m like “Wait a minute. I know they’re not bad, but… I can’t leave this woman alone.”

    I needed to show her that there was help here if she needed any. So when I went downstairs, I confirmed to her that I had called. Her man was throwing things around in the apartment. Her niece, living with her, was probably hidden somewhere, while the friend was trying to restrain the violent man.

    I went and testified… something… dunno how you call that but I went back to the station today, said my piece, and went home. The little girl seemed rather calm for someone who’d witnessed all this. She went to see a friend, and all was good.

    We went grocery shopping later in the day. When we came back, the woman was on the porch. I told her about the little girl (she didn’t know, she was being heard by authorities by the time we’d left with her friend and the little girl) , and I still had the little girl’s friend’s mom’s number, so I gave it to her, she called to collect her niece and all is good tonight.

    TL;DR: Last night, I might have helped prevent a murder and I’m so happy the woman is okay.