weekend free-for-all – March 25-26, 2017

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

Recommendation of the week: Other-Wordly: words both strange and lovely from around the world, by Yee-Lum Mak — in which you will learn words from more than a dozen languages that describe emotions and situations that are hard top capture, such as the Japanese tsundoku (buying books and not reading them; letting them pile up unread on shelves or floors or nightstands”) and the Swedish smultronställe (a “personal idyll free from stress or sadness,” which translates literally as “place of wild strawberries”). If you love language, you’ll love this book.

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

{ 995 comments… read them below }

  1. A*

    bridesmaid boutiques… are they necessary? (i.e. would it be weird to not have the BMs have them?) Any other options other than flowers for a church wedding?

    1. Cruciatus*

      Do you mean bouquets? I know someone who did button bouquets. The bridesmaids and bride-to-be got together with tons and tons of donated buttons from friends and family and made “bouquets” for the wedding. They will last forever and it did look really cool. Each bouquet matched the colors of the wedding which likely made it a little harder to get the right buttons, but they were a little extra special since they were all worked on together.

      1. Mephyle*

        It sounds like a cool experience making them together, but “lasts forever” is a minus in my book, not a plus. Same thing for silk flowers. It’s a nice keepsake for the first few decades, but after that…

      2. coffeeandpearls*

        I was recently in a wedding that didn’t have them and nobody missed them! We agreed before walking out that we would stand with our hands at our sides, and it was fine!

        1. coffeeandpearls*

          Oh, I just remembered this idea I saw online – Everyone in the wedding party brought their favorite love story as a gift, and then the books became decoration later.

    2. Al Lo*

      I think that bouquets aren’t necessary, but anytime I’ve been a bridesmaid, I’ve appreciated having something to do with my hands. However, I’ve seen alternatives as varied as a “bouquet” made of brooches, carrying a clutch that goes with the dress, and even the whole wedding party holding puppies. Pinterest will have all kinds of ideas if you don’t want to go traditional.

      1. Need to graduate*

        I agree that it is nice to have something to hold to not fiddle with anything absentmindedly, but it doesn’t have to be flowers.

    3. ValaMalDoran*

      I did silk flowers for my wedding. They were gorgeous, cheaper than real flowers, and I picked them up a month before the wedding.

      It’s been almost five years, and I have a bouquet out as decoration. It still looks great.

      1. Becca*

        Yes! A benefit to silk/fake flowers is that you can keep them out in a vase at home. I have a vase that’s pretty much always empty because neither DH or I are flowerly types, but if I had something that wasn’t eventually going to smell to put inside… well that’d be great XD

        1. Kj*

          We handmade flowers out of the pages of a dictionary. They were nice-looking, although I had no bridesmaids, so I have no thoughts on if bridesmaids need bouquets. My bouquet, on the other hand, is displayed nicely on my mantle and looks to last.

      2. Sylvie*

        My friend had silk flowers for her wedding and at first, I was nervous, but they turned out to be gorgeous! I still have my bouquet and it’s been 8 years.

    4. overeducated*

      I did small lanterns with LED lights inside and so did a friend. Cheaper than bouquets and that was a factor for both of us.

    5. FDCA In Canada*

      I gave my maid of honour a bouquet because otherwise she said she would have felt mega awkward standing around with nothing in her hands or walking in with nothing. Check out “non flower bouquets” on Pinterest for a million ideas, or Etsy–I’ve seen really pretty bouquets made out of paper origami flowers, or paper butterflies, or brooches, or candy (!!!), or buttons, or even seashells.

    6. Kali*

      I agree that it helps to have something in your hands. But simple can be really elegant, too. Like a single calla lily. Or a few sunflowers (which won’t break the bank and you can usually purchase at Costco or a grocery store….plus, they’re really hearty and won’t wilt in the heat if your wedding is in the summer). Bunches of baby’s breath can also look really nice, and all of these are easy DIY that won’t drive you nuts.

    7. Lore*

      I was in a wedding where the bride put her pre wedding anxieties to use by folding origami cranes that then became the centerpiece, bridesmaid bouquets, and part of the wedding favors.

    8. Mononymous*

      I gave my bridesmaids cute clutch purses to carry instead. They each had a silk flower on the outside matching the wedding colors, and bonus, they didn’t have to worry about where to keep their stuff on the day. :)

    9. Crafty*

      Not necessary! I did bouttenaires for the whole party regardless of gender — the bridesmaids told me it was nice to not have to keep track of their bouquets and I saved a ton of money that way too.

    10. AbbyToo*

      At my first wedding I made small grapevine wreath with ribbons and freeze dried flowers at the bottom. The bridesmaids then hung them on their walls afterwards.

    11. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Definitely not required, although I think it can be nice for the parents’ to have something that sets them apart (it can be corsages/boutonnieres, or it could be a specific accessory).

      There are some variations that can be easy/fun. One friend had cones of thick, handmade paper which had wildflower seeds in it (think of the shape of cones of fries you might get at the fair), and the cones held more wildflower seeds, which folks threw instead of throwing rice. I’ve also seen fans, parasols, lanterns (paper and real metal ones), wreaths, balloons, puppies (!), pinwheels, oversized lollipops, muffs (winter wedding), tambourines and triangles and pots with wood spoons to bang them, singing bowls, hand-held gongs, sparklers, and confetti poppers.

      If you do go with more elaborate flowers, you can check to see if you have a commercial flower market (i.e., the wholesalers who sell flowers to florists) and order through them or through wholesale websites. As long as you’re picking flowers that are in season, this usually brings down the cost of materials… although the expensive part about flowers is usually the labor and creativity that goes into flower design.

      You could also opt for less common bouquets—e.g., a pomander. Or you could change up the material you use to “make” flowers—e.g., dried flowers, broach bouquets (not my fave), origami paper-flower or felt bouquets, succulents, balloons (like balloon animal ones arranged into “flower” shapes), feathers & beads & masquerade masks (kind of like a Mardi Gras themed bouquet),

      1. Natalie*

        We did corsages/boutonnieres for parents and our attendants, and they were really affordable added on to my bouquet. (Which was expensive but I wanted a really nice one because I love flowers.

        Doing your own flowers can be a nice money saver, but I only recommend this if you have someone in your circle with some experience arranging flowers. There’s a bit of an art to how you put them together, for appearances and, more importantly, for them lasting for a day or two until the actual reception.

        Also, it’s time consuming and you will 100% guaranteed have other stuff you need to do. A friend of mine who had worked at a flower shop and my stepmom who practically grew up in one did my table flowers, and a dozen or so arrangements probably took 4 hours from start to finish.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Absolutely agreed, and I want to underscore that no one in the wedding party (including the bride/groom and their immediate family) should be given the task… or really anyone who isn’t already a floral professional or someone with an insane passion for amateur floral design (and some skill at it). It is nearly impossible to attend to all the wedding events and logistics and still have enough time to set it all up.

          I did my bff’s flowers (disclaimer: not a florist, so it likely took me longer than a pro), which included floral arrangements at the rehearsal dinner, as well as her bouquet, corsages and boutonnières, centerpieces, “trim” for all the food/cake tables, etc., at the actual wedding and reception. The only thing I didn’t do was flower arrangements for the seating area for guests during the ceremony (they were married at a park with built in benches that weren’t well-suited for flowers).

          It was substantially cheaper for her and exhausting for me. There’s a significant amount of planning and prep that goes into timing when you buy the flowers, actually buying them, and preserving and storing them. And that doesn’t even include the time spent on transport, set up or arrangement. I think it came out to over 60 hours of work in a 72-hour timespan (not including all the prior research, planning, advance supply ordering, or design). And opting for silk/paper/felt flowers doesn’t necessarily go faster for the assembler; it just changes the distribution of their prep time.

    12. Ella*

      They’re nice in pictures, but I don’t think they’re necessary. You could do nothing and have then just walk, or you could do a single flower, or a candle, or a lantern or pinwheel or something.

    13. Nic*

      I was in a wedding once where the bride and maids went to a really neat shop that had various candelabra, and picked one some that hung three tea lights hung from a stand in glass cups that were the bride’s color. We got some silk flowers and each decorated our own while hanging out, and it was our bridesmaid gift as well as a beautiful addition to the ceremony. I remember the wedding and hanging out making them every time I see it!

  2. Why Don't We Do It in the Code*

    About a year ago I started receiving e-mails to my personal gmail account calling for soccer referees for this weekend’s game in Anytown. They didn’t come in that often and many of them went into spam for some reason, so I ignored them. My gmail address is my first initial and last name so I thought it was just a typo on someone’s part. About two months ago, my inbox exploded with soccer e-mails from university recruitment and soccer camps and other things from around the world—five or six a day or more to my primary inbox.

    I started unsubscribing from each one but they still keep coming in, unrelenting. Some of the e-mails would say, “Claydon, thank you for signing up to receive our mailing and your interest in our camp, blah, blah.”

    My first initial is C but my name is Charlie. Apparently the intended recipient and I have the same last name and the same first initial. So his name would be CBucket and so would mine.

    Our last name is fairly rare and I think we are all related since my professional genealogist cousin says that only one family ever came over, (although we could be 20x removed). I googled his name and he’s a high school soccer player in another state in the same region. He’s 17 according to what I can find and I’m 53.

    With this many specifically-addressed soccer e-mails, normally I might try to track down the intended person and say, “Hey you might have signed up your e-mail wrong.” Like, maybe it’s CBucket @ yahoo or something. But, he’s 17 and it seems creepy for an adult male to be sending high school kids e-mails for any reason.

    What do you think? Continue to unsubscribe and ignore (which hasn’t stopped the flow)? E-mail his coach? Something else?

    1. JoJo*

      I’d email back. That happened to me with a job I applied to. I didn’t get the job and moved on from there. But months later, I was emailed about something from them that was clearly intended for the person they hired. I gave replied back that the message had been sent in error, they apologized, and I never heard from them again.

      So just let them know they have the wrong email, because otherwise they may not pay attention and just keep doing on accident.

      1. Why Don't We Do It in the Code*

        I thought I would do that to e-mails from an actual person. Occasionally there will be a soccer coach’s email link if it’s from a university recruiter or university soccer camp event. But then, I don’t know what the coach would do about it except drop the e-mail from the list.

        But most of them these days are from list-servs, Constant Contact marketing services and so on and many have an unsubscribe link but no other personal contact link. There would be no one to respond to.

        In the back of my head I think these might be kind of important to Claydon and he might be wondering why he’s getting no emails from all the lists he signed up for at that soccer camp last year. Which is why this keeps niggling at me.

        1. SophieChotek*

          If it is constant contact, in theory they shouldn’t have his email address which means he’s putting it in wrong himself (???). (Constant Contact forbids contacting people who haven’t signed up for your emails, etc. I mean I am sure a lot of email programs say that and people do it anyway.)

          I totally get your point and would worry too. (Could his coach have put his email address in wrong?)…hope you find a good solution.

          1. copy run start*

            I haven’t used CC specifically, but most of those services have a way to import/manually add emails. You usually just affirm that the person gave you permission.

            Usually though you sign up through a web form.

          2. Why Don't We Do It in the Code*

            Yes, I think he might be putting it in wrong himself. As fposte mentions he might have signed up with Bucket (which is my address) instead of CMBucket, for example. A co-worker who has two daughters in high school sports said she thinks he might have attended a soccer expo and signed up with various universities, organizations, etc. and the lists get sold/shared or he signed up zealously at every booth.

            (It used to be that mailing lists got sold all the time. In my early twenties we played a practical joke on a friend and signed him up as “Hambone Smith” on one of those pull-out Army recruiting cards in magazines. The Army must have sold the list to a marketing company because he was getting mail addressed to “Hambone Smith” for every imaginable product and service for years. Several years after, he got a baby clothes catalog addressed to Hambone Smith. What?!)

            1. Why Don't We Do It in the Code*

              Typo: he might have signed up with CBucket (which is my address) instead of CMBucket

              1. Gadfly*

                Or he just might assume the email is his, like they are automatically assigned or something. I had a coworker who was getting a lot of email for someone else (a lot of it sensitive info too–bank statements and account bills and such) who said that when she tracked him down.

                Or might just not be that saavy–when my sister-in-law (same 1st initial) was in a car accident, I got all the contact from her insurance company because she put my email down–she couldn’t remember hers so she thought it was probably hers…

            2. EvilQueenRegina*

              My grandad once filled in a market research questionnaire with all this fake joke info and put down this made up 24 year old girlfriend. This fake woman was sold on to lots of companies and junk mail for “Philomena McDougall” kept arriving for about 6 years. Once to see if anyone actually read the info before selling it on, he filled in a form for “Ms S Cooby” (that being Scooby, an inflatable dog belonging to my uncle). The inflatable dog then started getting offered credit cards.

    2. fposte*

      I have that–I hear all about somebody’s crunchy granola knitting and garden activism on the other side of the country. I emailed a couple of times and now just ignore it.

      In this case, I like the emailing his coach idea. Probably he’s CMBucket and left out his M, but since it’s a kid there’s something to be said for looping in a grownup. “Hey, I’ve told them this isn’t the right recipient, but it’s it’s still happening and clearly this young person should be getting this information. I can’t reliably forward it, so maybe you can help him correct his email so he doesn’t miss anything important.”

      1. Why Don't We Do It in the Code*

        I polled the eight people in my department and it was evenly split with half saying e-mail the coach or otherwise try to track this kid down through another adult as there might be some useful e-mails from a college or other program he’s interested in. The other half said unsubscribe and/or ignore, if he were really missing these e-mails, it’s on him to reach out to the programs he’s interested in. (Although, I’m not sure whether I would have had that kind of proactive-ness when I was 17.)

        I kind of feel bad it’s been going on so long but better late than never maybe. I’ll try to reach out to the coach.

        Maybe CMBucket will be a big soccer star someday.

    3. Temperance*

      I regularly receive emails for at least 2 other Temperance Brennans. Unsubscribing hasn’t stopped it, emailing back hasn’t stopped it, but calling and demanding to stop being contacted has. (Full disclosure: I was receiving a lot of contact with a lot of incredibly confidential information relating to children in foster care.)

      I probably wouldn’t bother reaching out to the other you, but that’s just me.

    4. CAA*

      I have been getting emails for “Adnan K******” for over 15 years now. Neither the first nor last names match, and the email address I use is not similar to either of his names. I used to try to unsubscribe, but after a while I just gave up and now I have a rule on my inbox that if either his first or last name is in the to address or the body of the message, move it automatically to the “Adnan Junk” folder. About once a month I glance at it to make sure my stuff isn’t accidentally getting trapped by the rule and then I delete everything.

    5. Kay*

      This started happening to me as well about 2 years ago. I’m guessing my counterpart is a mom of young kids in Louisiana who can’t write out her email address clearly – maybe she uses a middle initial or something? – but I get her medical appointment information, notes from friends, solicitations from charities, you name it. An email every 2-3 weeks. It’s obnoxious. In the beginning, I wrote back to every single one, but now I mark anything from an auto sender (appointment reminders, etc.) as spam and write back only to the personal ones.

      1. many bells down*

        When Gmail was still in beta, I got an account with my full name – and promptly started getting emails from a woman who was convinced I was her daughter-in-law. I got birthday cards for kids I didn’t have, spam forwards of “inspirational” Jesus-y stories, and group emails about “family” events. I emailed her twice to politely tell her she had the wrong address, and she said “oh sorry this used to be her email(?)” but they kept coming.

        So one day I hit reply-all on one of the family event mails and said “I do not know this person, can someone please give her the correct email address?” I got a reply from her about how “rude” I was, and a reply from someone else on the list who had no clue who this woman was either. But they stopped!

    6. nep*

      I recently started getting emails as if to an instagram account holder (I’m not on instagram). I’ve just ignored/deleted them. Anyone gotten similar?

    7. Audiophile*

      I’ve received similar things – most recently, I was receiving online portal information for a patient and their medical bills. I tried calling the number, but they were no help because they couldn’t track down the intended recipient.

      I also received a confirmation email about a furniture order from an Australian company. They were quick to correct the issue, since I said I don’t live in Australia and the purchaser would probably want to know delivery information in the future. The order wasn’t being delivered for a year, must be custom furniture or something.

      Sometimes unsubscribing is helpful and sometimes reaching a human does the trick.

      1. many bells down*

        I’ve gotten health insurance information for a woman with my name in Missouri, and emails from Best Buy for another one in Texas. The Best Buy one was the most confusing; the email it went to doesn’t contain any part of my name so I’m not sure how they messed that one up. Clicked the wrong cell in their Excel sheet I guess.

        1. Audiophile*

          It’s the same thing with the medical portal I keep getting links to, it’s not my email address, but it’s somewhat close. I haven’t received one recently, I think I marked it as spam. She’s in Fl and I’m in NY, so there’s no way we’re the same person.

    8. Cath in Canada*

      There’s someone out there who thinks that my primary Gmail address is the one that she uses to sign up for internet services. I never get any personal mail for her, but I get a lot of “thank you for creating an account” type emails that I just unsubscribe from. Just yesterday I got Pandora and Spotify account notification emails within a couple of minutes of each other. I always assume she’ll figure it out when she doesn’t get her confirmation link email and go back in and correct her info, so I’ve never tried to contact her. One of my other email addresses somehow ended up on the mailing list for a Christian daycare place in Ontario – I did reply to a couple of those messages to let them know that they had the wrong person, because “alt-me” (as my friend calls her equivalent person) was missing what looked like important information. It took them several months to take me off the list though, which was frustrating.

      1. Marcela*

        There is somebody registering to services with my brother’s email. He deletes every single one of them, including one from the Playstation network where the guy had even purchased games. At first I thought he was just mean, until he told me he does not want to be responsible in case something were to happen, and he had access to all the info of these people he does not know, including credit cards.

        1. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

          The same thing happens to me. I unsubscribe and delete the emails my alt person signs up for that end up with me.

      2. Bryce*

        I keep a little file of stuff I’ve gleaned from mis-sent emails. Not the full details, but for example if I get someone’s travel itinerary I note “mailing address and when they’ll be out of town.” It’s rather eye-opening after the years.

        Usually I just send a “wrong address” reply or delete them, but one time I got confirmation # for a couple of not-cheap Broadway tickets. Some google-sleuthing didn’t help me contact the buyers, so I wound up calling the theater so they could make a note of it when the folks turned up without the info they needed.

        1. Bryce*

          I’ve gotten some from people trying to link it to their own email, or “test to see if this works”. I think they just assume Google knows who they are.

        2. Mephyle*

          I don’t know, but there are at least half a dozen people around the world that regularly give my email instead of theirs, not to mention countless random occasionals. Plane tickets, invoices, tax information, bank information, kid’s camps, school information, family gossip, and lots of mailings from shopping sites. I get it all.

        3. many bells down*

          Gmail allows you to put a “.” in the address to distinguish it from one that’s already taken. So if you went to make “dizzysteinway@gmail” and it was already in use, you could use “dizzy.steinway@gmail” instead.

          Only, some email programs don’t recognize the dot and will treat those like identical addresses.

          1. Audiophile*

            Actually I can confirm that the “.” is not a distinguishing characteristic.

            I can type my email (I know my correct address) with or without the dot when signing into gmail. Gmail’s own blog also confirms it is not a recognized character. Link to follow.

            If someone has dizzysteinway, gmail just won’t let you sign up with that address, it will tell you it’s already taken and offer alternatives. These alternatives usually have numbers or the names are inverted, so steinwaydizzy000248954.

          2. Mephyle*

            Yes indeed. My gmail address is mephyle.s (for Mephyle Surname) and I get mail intended for at least half a dozen different Mephyles around the world whose gmail address is mephyles. Except it isn’t, actually, because that address also directs to my gmail account. I should say rather they all seem to think their gmail address is mephyles but it can’t be for all of them because Mephyle Sanchez of Arizona, Mephyle Sanderson of South Africa, Mephyle Scott of the UK, and Mephyle Srivistava of India can’t all have the same Gmail address.

        4. JanetM*

          The same way that someone doesn’t know their phone number. I have, for more than a year now, been getting regular calls and texts (about twice a week, sometimes more) from payday loan places and the like, all for the same name, which is not mine. And the calls hang up before I can get through the whole phase, “Put this number on your do-not-call list,” which means that since I haven’t formally notified them, they don’t have to stop calling me.

          1. Phyllis B*

            Years ago I used to get phone calls from irate parents wanting to know why I failed their kid. I don’t teach school. I tried telling them they had the wrong number, but most didn’t seem to believe me. I was tempted to say, “Because they didn’t study, and this is what they earned!!”

            And yes, I did try to find out more info so I could direct calls to the correct Mrs. B, but could not find anyone in the phone book with the same last name except family members I already knew. (Not many of us in this area.) This was also the days before cell phones. Trying to question parents who called as to full name or school did no good; they would just hang up on me. I was so glad when this teacher retired,

    9. Elizabeth H.*

      If something like this happened to me I would probably go to the ends of the earth trying to locate and get in touch with the intended recipient. I can’t imagine just letting it go! I love tracking people down on the internet. Did you try looking for this kid on Facebook?

    10. amanda_cakr*

      I would start replying back. The coach might have a way to reach the soccer player by phone. If you have a way to email the travel soccer coach, that might help as well. If you have an email for the kid, I would email him. It’s worth a shot. I wouldn’t hesitate to do whatever to get it fixed because I wouldn’t want the kid to miss out on a recruiting opportunity even if he can’t get his email right.

      1. Why Don't We Do It in the Code*

        Elizabeth H and amanda, I didn’t really want to contact this kid directly because I think it would be too shady-optics for an adult male to contact a 17-year old even if it’s something that could be beneficial to him and is coming from a completely benign place. A lot of people have just said e-mail the kid but I tend to overthink things and I try to think of all the possible outcomes and here I am, hemming and hawing!

        I have found his Facebook page and some small-suburb newspaper articles on his high school soccer team. I thought maybe since we have such a rare last name that there might be an “in” or a familial connection but it still could be seen as creepy.

        But contacting his coach only might be the safest option. Presumably the coach has some stake in seeing their student player get into a school with a good soccer program, go to a good soccer camp in Spain or whatever.

        1. amanda_cake*

          Another option would be to call the high school and inform a guidance counselor. Explain you aren’t comfortable contacting the kid yourself, by you wanted him to know so he could get the information. I don’t know if you would be comfortable doing that.

          I understand your hesitation though. My dad used to coach softball and was super careful to have messages go through the team mom and for another person to be around if a parent was late picking up their child so he wasn’t alone with someone’s kid. You just never know what someone might say.

          1. Why Don't We Do It in the Code*

            My coworker who is very involved in her high school-aged daughters sports thought the coach or a guidance counselor would be the best. Thanks amanda_cake.

        2. Aunt Vixen*

          Uncle Vixen understands your hesitation but suggests there doesn’t have to be anything shady-optic about contacting the kid directly if you do so in a way that makes clear you aren’t trying to establish any kind of connection at all. Here’s how that e-mail would look:

          From: CBucket
          To: CMBucket
          Subject: soccer e-mails


          I think these were meant to be sent to you.

          [50,000 attachments]

          That’s it. Nothing more.

          1. Why Don't We Do It in the Code*

            Thanks Aunt Vixen (and my regards to Uncle). I don’t actually have the kid’s e-mail address (the CMBucket was just a speculation example from another commenter). I probably can find it out, he’s all over social media with his own sports video channel on YouTube, Google plus, Instagram and so on. I saw his Facebook page which was not locked down last month but I can’t find it now.

            I thought it would be the simplest if I was able to just contact Croydon and forward the e-mails to him and make it clear that I’m not trying to have any kind of connection. It wouldn’t stop the e-mails to my account but it would help him. I’ll probably try the soccer coach first.

        3. Elizabeth H.*

          I really think you are overthinking this. There’s absolutely nothing creepy about it. Just try and contact him by whichever means – it’s not like the feds are going to knock down your door the second you email someone under the age of 18.

        4. AcademiaNut*

          I’d actually find it weirder for someone to track down a teenager’s physical real-life location and personal information, and then use those to pass a message.

          I’d send a brief, to the point message. “Over the past year, I have been repeatedly receiving soccer related emails directed to the account CBucket. I think they may be intended for you. Please update your email address when signing up for mailing lists. In the future, I will be deleting all soccer related emails.” And then set up a filter to trash any email that mentions soccer and is not from someone in your address book.

          Or just go to the second step. It’s not like this is information about medical appointments or bank accounts. If he isn’t getting the stuff he signs up for, he can figure it out himself.

    11. Falling Diphthong*

      I’d email so he knows that he put the wrong email down somewhere–my son for some reason signed up for the SAT using an email he uses for gaming and it took us a while to figure out why he couldn’t sign in using his family email.

      When my daughter was around 10 and playing soccer they managed to get a letter wrong in the email and all team notices also went to a guy like you on the other side of the country. He pointed it out very kindly, but There Was Already A List and apparently the coach wasn’t about to edit it. So I would find this not at all creepy, and if I were his mom would be glad some kind person volunteered why he wasn’t hearing from contacts when he thought he’d filled out the form.

      (Another anecdote–sent a “So we arrived safely” email from our remote vacation inn to an address one letter off my father’s address, and was very grateful to the person who wrote back explaining that he had no grandchildren and so I probably wanted someone with a similar name.)

    12. Catherine from Canada*

      I have no advice to offer, but I am very glad to read that I’m not the only one receiving emails for other people – as near as I can figure there are three other women in the world who don’t seem to be able to type their email address correctly.
      I get banking information, airline confirmations, once all the info I needed to take two kids to Disneyland, commiserations about marital problems, notices that the location of exams has changed, voting information, almost anything you never really wanted to be tempted with from someone else’s life.
      I usually write back, but never get any response or thanks. The best was the bank account manager in France who informed me that “No, the email address on file was correct.” I still can’t un-Alice in Wonderland myself from that one.

      1. fposte*

        Somebody within our university system kept mistakenly emailing me when an autocomplete went wrong and I had to walk her through deleting me from her address book.

      2. Bryce*

        One I recall vividly was library fees on the other side of the country. That was fun to try and sort out. “No ma’am, I am not the person you’re trying to reach. Yes ma’am I realize that I’d say the same thing if I were just trying to dodge the fees. No ma’am I’ve never even BEEN to Georgia. No ma’am, I don’t know the correct email address because I am not the person on the file.”

    13. Jules the First*

      I have an analogue doppelganger which gets confusing – we have the same (very common) first and last names and birth date, and we apparently (inadvertantly) share a bank, a doctor, and a hairdresser. Our records get crossed all the time, most amusingly/terrifyingly when I changed banks and suddenly became a member of WWF!

  3. Lady Julian*

    It’s raining here today. I have mixed feelings about this, as I need to stay inside & do desk work anyway but rain always depresses my spirits. What about you? Rain or sun?

    1. Sugar of lead*

      I like that in-between when it’s cloudy and there’s maybe a little drizzle or mist but it’s not raining buckets.

    2. Mimmy*

      I’m Team Sun, all the way. Although, I will admit that I get a little annoyed when it is really nice out and I have desk stuff to do because I’m torn between doing desk work and being outside.

    3. Lily Evans*

      My opinions on sun vs rain change with what my plans are for the day and how warm it is. Today I don’t mind the rain because at least it’s not snow! But when I’m stuck home with the rain I like to use it as a backdrop for making my surroundings extra cozy, lighting some candles, plugging in my fairy lights, making a cup of tea, just generally adding to the ambiance so staying in doesn’t seem as dreary!

    4. Sherm*

      I absolutely love the rain and just about everything about it. The sound it makes coming down, the scent in the air, the way it seems to make everyone chill out a little. I live where it doesn’t rain too much, so I realize if I lived in Seattle I might get very much over the rain.

    5. Turtle Candle*

      I like grey skies, mist, and light rain. I also like gentle blue skies. I do not like that high-hot-hard summer blue where the sky feels sharp as diamonds and the sun bears down like Sauron’s eye, and I also do not like heavy rain. Middle ground all the way!

    6. FN2187*

      Sun, definitely. Today is very grey and I feel like just sitting around and watching Netflix.

        1. FN2187*

          Another Rebels fan!? Yes! My friends and I have Food Night and watch Rebels so I have to wait until tomorrow. I hope the finale was good!

          1. Liane*

            We haven’t watched it yet but one of my friends says it is good. We’ll probably see it tonight after my daughter gets off work

    7. Elizabeth West*

      I’m sick of rain and cold but guess what we got today? :P

      It’s dark in here and I will make today be my rest day, so no walkies. I got up early to go to meditation so I might even take a nap. :D

    8. Chickaletta*

      Sun! Or if it rains I love a good thunderstorm. Can’t stand a white, drizzly rain though. I left Seattle over it, I lasted two years and it was sayonara jet city.

      1. Lady Julian*

        Sometimes I think I’d like living in Seattle, with its mountains and outdoorsy, healthy culture and interesting people and food. Then I remember it rains all the time. Nope.

    9. Gracie*

      It all depends on the time of year. In the fall/winter I love cold, rainy days where I can bundle up and eat soup or drink hot chocolate or something like that. In the spring/summer, I love bright sunny days, though I prefer to avoid the heat. I don’t get a lot of rain (usually except for this year) as I live in central CA right now and I get a lot of the sunny days so that probably has a lot to do with my preferences. Grass is greener kinda thing.

    10. Dr. KMnO4*

      Rain! I love the cozy feeling of being inside when it’s raining, I love being outside in the summer when it’s raining, and I love thunderstorms when I’m not home alone at night. I nearly had a chance to move to the Pacific NW and I was quite looking forward to it because of the prospect of all the rain.

    11. Snazzy Hat*

      I love rain, but the temperatures and wind chills the last few days have made the rain positively irritating. When it feels like below-freezing but it’s actually raining instead of snowing? That fries my pan.

  4. JoJo*

    Anyone have tips for exercises they can do while watching TV/reading a book?

    I really want to exercise more but of course, that would mean cutting down on my TV watching and reading time. A friend told me she got a stationary bike and she now uses that whenever she watches TV. I love that idea and may go for the stationary bike. But does anyone have any other ideas.

    1. Anonymousaurus Rex*

      I am huge into audiobooks, which I listen to while I walk/bike ride/work out. Actual reading is hard for me while working out–too much movement! And I can’t stay focused enough on actually working out while watching TV–too much distraction! So I’ve settled on audiobooks. I have an Audible account, but I also check them out electronically from my local library with Overdrive, which is amazing.

    2. fposte*

      Elliptical, treadmill; anything where you’re staying basically vertical and upright.

      I actually do PT and bodyweight stuff during TV sometimes too, so long as it’s not TV where I want to catch every visual moment.

      1. SophieChotek*

        +1. I watch Netflix on my iPad when I walk on the treadmill…and suddenly I’m on it for 45-60 minutes, instead of looking at my watch after 10 minutes.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I want a treadmill! Sometimes I just don’t want to go outside to walk. But I haven’t got any room for one, so asphalt it is. I’d love to watch tv while walking, though!

          1. SophieChotek*

            I actually don’t have one anymore. =( I used my mom’s when I still lived with them. But now that I live on my own I have to walk outside. I wish I had room for a treadmill (and money for a treadmill) too!

    3. Gracie*

      I love the audiobook idea. I listen at work and it would give me something to focus on besides my body being mad at me for making it move. I love getting on the treadmill and watching something. Audio books would mean you didn’t have to remain mostly stationary too

      1. NotoriousMCG*

        I’m a big audiobooks person, but I can’t do them if I’m doing freeweights/stations at the gym because the headphones get in the way and I can’t be blasting my audiobook on the speakers to annoy all the other gym-goers. I like to load up video files of tv series I love on my iPad (so I don’t have to rely on streaming) and prop it up on top of the treadmill or elliptical. If it’s something I get really engaged in, I lose track of time better by having the visual plus the audio

        1. Gracie*

          Have you tried using the wireless bluetooth? They have the ones that fit in your ears pretty well and no wires to annoy you. I love mine.

    4. Mimmy*

      Y’all are going to think I’m crazy, but for Christmas, we got a Simply Fit Board – you place your feet on either side and just twist your lower body. I don’t do it enough to know whether it really is the workout that it claims to be, but I like to do it occasionally when watching TV shows that aren’t super-distracting, such as a boring scene or, like fposte said, with little visual distraction.

      1. JoJo*

        Is that the thing from Shark Tank that also helps with improving balance? I saw an commercial for those and thought that might be worthy the investment. Certainly cheaper than most of these giant pieces of equipment I’ve seen.

        1. Mimmy*

          Yes, that’s the one! I have some minor balance issues, so you’d think I’d use it more…

          1. JoJo*

            Do you know anything about a weight limit on the board? I saw a few reviews saying it broke on people who were over 180 pounds which is right around where j am.

      2. Sylvie*

        I have balance issues, so while it looks interesting, I’m afraid I would fall off the thing!

        1. Phyllis B*

          Me too!!! I could just see me falling and breaking my tailbone again. Believe me, once in a lifetime is enough for that. I gave birth to three children without drugs, and that didn’t hurt as much as that did.

    5. bridget*

      Doesn’t work that well for reading, but I do basic bodyweight exercises while watching tv, like a 60 second plank or wall sit or a set of squats.

    6. FDCA In Canada*

      I love going to the gym expressly because I can get onto the stationary bike and sweat like crazy for a half hour while reading a book on my Kobo, listening to music, and people-watching. It is the perfect distraction. Alternately, I can get onto the elliptical or treadmill and sweat for a while watching TV or listening to an audiobook or podcast. It truly makes the time go by so much faster. I just can’t do the treadmill while reading, though usually I can manage the elliptical if I’m not going too fast.

    7. Kay*

      Stationary bike works pretty well, especially the sitting down ones.

      I’ve recently had great luck with setting the text on my Kindle to HUGE and reading while on the treadmill. I could never focus enough on the words before because I was moving up and down, and have had much better success incorporating exercise regularly since I started using the Kindle with huge text.

      I have had mixed success watching tv while on the treadmill, mostly because I don’t want to stay for as long as an episode is OR I want to stay for longer and my brain frets then about what do I do, leave one half-unwatched, or be on the treadmill for longer (which messes up my promise to myself that it won’t take too much time out of my day) or…? It seems silly but it was legitimately chewing on my brain, so now I just read and I use my tv time for things like folding laundry, which is neverending.

      I have also had luck using various fitness apps like 200 situps and so forth because they either have rest breaks built into them that I use to read OR I can do them while also reading.

      Context: I’m a person who gets anxious even for 30 seconds without something to read and have pretty much memorized the labels on all the bottles in my bathroom out of reading desperation…

    8. Cath in Canada*

      Careful when selecting a stationary bike as some are really loud! I borrowed one from a friend when I was training for a Vancouver to Seattle fundraising ride a few years ago and set it up in the living room so I could train while watching TV, but we couldn’t hear the TV over the bike and had to move it to another room. Mind you it was quite old, so hopefully a newer one would be quieter.

    9. AliceBD*

      I have a Kindle, and I get through cardio by using the elliptical and the Kindle. I make the font one size larger than when I am reading normally. It’s great because I don’t have to worry about turning pages — just use one hand to press the button. A tablet would work as well.

      Also, I tend to read books I really want to read, and don’t allow myself to read except while exercising. This works for all media — if you want to rewatch a TV show for example, you can only do it on the stationary bike.

    10. LadyKelvin*

      Another option is finding a workout designed for your favorite TV show(s). You can usually find them with a simple Google and they will be things like do x every time character does this, for example if you are watching NCIS you might do 5 pushup everything Gibbs hits someone in the back of the head. it’s not quite as passive as riding a bike but in my opinion more interesting.

      1. Mephyle*

        This is the first I’ve heard of multiple shows – what a cool idea.
        I’d only ever heard of the stationary bike Glee workout:
        •Cycle at a moderate speed.
        •Whenever a song comes on, cycle fast for the verses and sprint in the choruses.

    11. Spoonie*

      For tv watching, I’ve started doing kettle bell exercises, mostly kettle bell swings. This is super recent, so I can’t give you tons of advice. I also do some yoga and Pilates mixed in, just things I’m familiar with from my former life dancing.

    12. Jillociraptor*

      I have a mini stepper (it’s like the bottom of an elliptical, kind of?) in my home office and try to do 45 minutes in the morning a few days a week while watching Scandal on my iPad :)

      I also have a set of resistance bands. I don’t use them while watching TV but I suspect you very easily could!

    13. Genevieve Shockley*

      A piece of advice that I personally believe in came from

      The Kitchen Counter Cooking School
      How A Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices Into Fearless Home Cooks
      Flinn, Kathleen

      The advice was that you should buy each of your knives separately, rather than in a set. Test the knife you are looking at to make sure that it fits your hand well. Some styles may be crafted in such a way that your hand will feel a sharp edge on the handle that will be uncomfortable after a while.

      Most cooking sites will recommend that you have only 4-5 knives. Like: Chefs knife (the big chopping one), smaller chopping knife, paring knife, (maybe) bread knife. I want another knife that is thin bladed and sort of flexible to use in boning a chicken or a fish.

      If you buy them one at a time, you can buy better quality, and get used to what that knife will do, before you invest in additional knives.

      1. fposte*

        I think this ended up in the wrong thread, but I totally agree anyway. I think it’s easy to overbuy on knives both in number and expense, and for most of us it won’t improve our lives any.

    14. Gadfly*

      We recently got a wonderful little under the desk style elliptical for my husband for pt after a knee injury. It is wonderful–quiet, it has a a great amount of resistance (most of these sorts of ones have so little..) and very smooth. You can sit to use it (you can stand, but only if you are tiny, and the reviews don’t recommend it.)

      If you check Amazon it is the “Stamina In-Motion Elliptical Trainer”

      1. Rena*

        +1! I just got one a few weeks ago and I love it. I use it standing without any trouble and I really enjoy the balance aspect. I’m ~150, but my husband at ~220 had a hard time getting it going while standing.

        1. Gadfly*

          A lot of the reviews (even by some people in the 120 or less range) were saying it has a tendency to break when used standing and none of the sitters had issues–I can’t vouch for that personally of course. But since I’m rather larger than your husband, I’m sticking to using it sitting for myself.

    15. Paige Turner*

      If you already own a bike (not stationary, just a regular one!) you can make it stationary by attaching it to a trainer. Racers use these to warm up or ride indoors when the weather is bad (I think this is similar to what spin classes use but I don’t know much about that). Your local bike shop should sell them and probably also give you more info and possibly try one out with your existing bike.
      You can also get a similar product called rollers, but those require more of a learning curve to use.

  5. e l a*

    I’m going to need to buy some new knives in a few months when my roommate moves out and takes his. I mainly use the Santoku and the chef’s knife, which are both heavy and one solid piece. I’m looking for something similar, but the exact ones don’t seem to be available anymore. Does anyone have suggestions? Opinions on German vs. Japanese steel? Hoping to spend less than $100, I’m willing to start with just a good Santoku and accumulate other knives once I know what I need. And I’m in Canada, if that affects recommendations.

    1. fposte*

      Victorinox Forschner is a really great brand and their price point is very accessible. I’m not sure what you mean by one solid piece–do you mean the whole handle is the same metal as the blade? That seems impractical for a chef’s knife to me, but my hands are pretty touchy.

      1. fposte*

        P.S. Getting a good sharpener and sharpening regimen is huge, too. I like the AccuSharp for monthly buffs and then I use the electric one once a year.

        1. Gene*

          Seconding the Victorinox recommendation.

          And get a steel. I take a few swipes on the steel when the knife comes out of the block. If you don’t have access to a professional sharpener, ask the butchers at your local real supermarket or meat shop is they do sharpening, they usually do it for free. You drop off your knives and they do them at the end of the day when they do theirs, them you pick them up the next day.

          Storage is important, if you keep them in a block, they go in spine down. A wall magnet is good. Never in a drawer.

          1. fposte*

            I do a drawer but they’re in sheaths. I have no counter space and would scythe myself regularly with a wall mount.

          2. Gingerblue*

            Thirding the Victorinox rec. I have a bread knife and a chef’s knife from them and they’re great.

        2. Gracie*

          This is seconded big time. I didn’t even know about sharpening knives (I feel naive lol) until after I moved in with my ex-husband and he sharpened our set. I was like “OMG!! I can cut a tomato! I don’t have to saw and squish it!”

      2. Jessesgirl72*

        It’s not impractical. I sought out the same thing. Otherwise, no matter how high end the brand, eventually the handle comes loose from the knife.

        1. fposte*

          I mean literally impractical as in I couldn’t use a knife with a metal handle to cut anything–it would hurt my hands.

          I’ve had my knives for close to forty years and never had a handle come loose, nor have I heard it happening to anybody else outside of dollar-store type knives. I’d rather have something that fits my hand and buy it again in forty years if I have to :-).

          1. Natalie*

            Yeah, as long as the knife has a full tang rather than a handle that’s just glued on, it’s pretty unlikely the handle will fall off over the years. I’m pretty sure my dad is still using the same chef’s knife he bought in college.

    2. mreasy*

      I love my Global Santoku. I previously had their chef’s knife and loved it as well (was a professional so wore it out & replaced w Santoku). But I agree that Victorinox is a great chef’s knife at a reasonable price point & is used by a lot of pros for that reason. I would recommend trying both Japanese and Western blade styles before committing. If you do most vegetable chopping, you may like Japanese better, but if there are more meat/bone tasks thrown in there, like butchering chickens, a Western blade with its wider edge & heavier overall profile might be best. I’d recommend going to a kitchen store you trust and trying multiple knives. The price point of about $100 should keep them from trying to upsell you into something you don’t need, so at least you should be able to try both styles.

      1. Gene*

        And for chef’s knives, there’s also the choice between French and German profiles. German has a more curved profile, French is more triangular. Neither is better, it’s a matter of personal preference. Do some practice cutting at the kitchen store with each.

    3. SophieChotek*

      I think what is important in knives is that it is forged versus stamped. forged usually means long-lasting and more durable knives that can be sharpened, whereas stamped (often laser cut out of sheets of steel) will be slightly cheaper but tend not to hold up as well.

      Otherwise, after opting for forged knives personally, I would think ergonomically — what sort of handle fits right in your hand? Most like (Wüsthof, J.A. Henckels, Japanese brands, etc.) have different lines that are both forged and stamped and then have different handles. Some handles are shaped differently. Also some handles have more “weight” to them, so different chefs like the weight (or not as much weight) for that too.

      1. SophieChotek*

        Personally I buy all forged Wüsthof, J. A. Henckels. But I have one Japanese knife and one Global. Global ha been getting pretty good reviews lately too. I’d try to go to a knife store and just feel them, etc.

          1. Chocolate Teapot*

            I like WMF knives, and the shop provides a chopping board and selection of vegetables for testing. One cook’s knife was on offer but it was far too big for my hand, so I had to buy the next size down, which was the same price. Still, it is my regular, everyday knife now.

    4. A. D. Kay*

      I agree with the Victorinox and sharpening steel recommendations. I have a sharpening steel embedded with diamond dust, so it both straightens AND sharpens. I treated myself to a Shun santoku recently and love it, but it was about $100 even on sale from Williams Sonoma.

      1. Vancouver Reader*

        Ooh yes! I treated myself to 2 Shun knives and then took a course on how to properly sharpen them with a what’s done. It makes a huge difference using the whetstine, even on my crappy knives.
        I’d suggest going to a cooking store ( if you’re in Vancouver, Gourmet Warehouse it’s great, go see Chef Kris in the knife department) and see what fits in your hand and talk to the experts about the pros and cons European and Japanese knives. With my small hands, I found the Japanese knives easier to hold and better weighted for me.

    5. Jules the First*

      It feels silly to say this, but mine are actually from Ikea – the black handled mid-range set. I have two of the eight inch chef’s knives, plus the bread knife and I find them well-balanced, easy to handle, effective and easy to clean. Plus at about $25/knife, they’re affordable enough that I don’t feel precious about them if someone else is moonlighting in my kitchen.

  6. Sugar of lead*

    I’ve been trying to shake a depressive episode for about a week now. Having nothing to do and no one to do it with isn’t helping. Sleeping all day is a good time-killer but it’s not healthy. Does anyone have suggestions or tips for keeping busy and for depression in general?

    1. kfed*

      Call someone, especially if it’s someone you can tell that you’re feeling this way (I find acknowledging it as temporary helps). Clean something in your home. Read a book. Walk somewhere for a coffee or snack. Personal hygiene – clip your nails, pluck your brows, deep condition your hair, etc. Make lists of things in your life you need to take care of – appointments, grocery list, stuff that’s easy to cross off – and get cracking. Hang in there.

    2. Lily Evans*

      I’ve always found getting out of the house a good way to ground and distract myself. Whether it’s taking a walk to get some fresh air or going to the store or even just driving around aimlessly, I like the reminder that the world is still going on around me. And even when I’m not really up for socializing, just existing around other people is also something that has always felt comforting, like sitting in a cafe or wandering around Target.

    3. Kay*

      I am a pro at making tiny bargains with myself when I am in a depressive episode. What works for me to pull out of them is to just keep one foot in front of the other, and then build on small successes to gradually restore a sense of normalcy and engagement. So I will say: find one thing that needs to go back to its home, and then you can go back to reading. Or: set a timer for 5 minutes and put away dishes. I almost always get into a soothing rhythm and it’s like my brain needs the opt-out to get started.

    4. Augusta Sugarbean*

      A small thing I do when I’m feeling horrible, i.e., on my commute to my terrible, soul-crushing job, is listen to one of Pandora’s comedy stations. This is strictly anecdotal but it really does lighten my mood and help me reset a little. I know exercise the one of the best things you can do for depression but sometimes that feels like too huge of a step. So just little steps. Sit up and listen to some silly comedy first. Then you might feel like a walk outside is within reach. Sending you good thoughts. You can do eeet!

    5. Sunflower*

      Start small. Go for a walk. Just because. Something I’m trying to get in the habit of lately is doing things simply because I want to. Or binge a TV series on Netflix.

      Reading helps about what you’re going through is something that has always helped me. Head to the library and check out a few books that might explain what’s going on.

      And if you’re having trouble shaking it, schedule an appointment with someone if you haven’t already :)

    6. Whoever*

      Ugh, depressive episodes! I’ve dealt with those for more than 10 years by now… it’s frightening.
      I’ve found that there’s plenty of “little things” that can remind me that life is, after all, worthwhile. Tasty food, nice smelling cosmetic oils, a book I really like, beautiful music… neither of them is very much, but all of them help at least a little bit and it adds up. Walking around in sunlight is also rather uplifting. As is turning up the volume for positive, uplifting music and dancing like crazy all by yourself. It’s silly, but it worked for me.

      The worst enemy in my experience is being alone with one’s thoughts – theres a very definite danger to linger on anything negative and spiral further down from there – something that very definitely needs to be prevented. If I find myself entirely engrossed with negative thoughts often my first step us to distract myself – websites with funny pictures and such are pretty good for that, they don’t require a lot of determined focus but keep the mind away from dangerous and/or painful thoughts. I consider them a sort of mental painkillers.
      Once I’ve calmed down mentally the important thing is still distraction. You say that you have “nothing to do” – but is that really true? I’m sure there’s plenty of things, and if it’s only walking through unknown parts of the neighborhood! If you keep your eyes open for amusing/strange little details, that is actually quite a rewarding and uplifting activity. You can also go to museums, go to the local library and leaf through strange books that you find there. Explore! There might also be some social activities available in your area – check the internet for that.

      You will probably find that you lack the motivation and keep thinking that all of that is useless and boring and such. That is normal, for depression. The key is to press and on, even when everything in you screams that this is senseless and useless and really you should just stay home and give up. For me, there’s usually some time between doing these uplifting activities ad actually feeling better. It takes a few days – don’t give up just because the effect isn’t immediate.

      Btw, as others have commented, social interaction is also good, and if it’s just a conversation over the phone.

    7. Dizzy Steinway*

      I find it helps to comfort myself: curl up in a blanket, cuddle my cat, drink hot chocolate, watch favourite TV shows. Really sorry you’re struggling :-(

    8. Mechabear*

      You have my commiseration from another depressed person who is not planning to get dressed or leave the house today. You’re not alone in being alone :) I like to watch cheerful animated movies when things are really bad. Or read a romance novel. Last weekend I watched the Secret Life of Pets, and I can also recommend Home, Penguins of Madagascar, Despicable Me, and Bolt. I wish you the best of luck.

      1. Sugar of lead*

        Thanks for the commiseration. Fresh clothes are for sissies, anyway. And I have loved those penguins for a long time. Zootopia is pretty uplifting too, but not in a saccharine way.

    9. Spoonie*

      I just spent ten minutes sitting on my patio petting my dogs and enjoying the plants I planted two weeks ago. Find something small to enjoy. Take a walk. Fresh laundry. A hot bath.

    10. London Calling*

      I’ve suffered the same way for years- not bone deep depression any more, thank goodness, but days and weeks when I go throught the ‘what’s the point and what have I achieved and I’m a waste of space’ moods, and can highly recommend David Burns ‘Feeling Good,’ which I keep close by me for the bad times – like now, when I’m in between freelance jobs and getting those 3am niggles that no-one wants to employ a 62 year old and I’ll never pay the mortgage off. It does take some work rather than just reading it but I can slowly detect the change in my outlook since I’ve been using it.

      I know CBT isn’t the universal panacea a lot of people say it is and it’s not for everyone, of course, but anything’s got to be better than the soul-sapping moods I used to have and still fight to an extent.

    11. Snazzy Hat*

      If you’re okay with being around people as long as you don’t interact with them, I suggest taking a mosey through a library/bookstore (the bigger, the better), a mall, a superstore like Target, or a craft store. No one will notice or care if you leave without buying anything.

      If you’re not up for leaving the house — and this works better if you don’t want to change out of pajamas — clean a part of the house that doesn’t require much strength or effort. Depending on your living situation, this can range from dusting bookcases to slowly scrubbing the tub & toilet to vacuuming the floors to wiping down the bathroom sink. Check out Unf*ck Your Habitat on Tumblr, Facebook, and the recently-published book. For reference, the tagline is, “You’re better than your mess.” I’m not being dramatic here; this will change your life.

      If you have laundry facilities at home, do some laundry. If you have a dishwasher, fill it and run it. These are genuinely my favourite household tasks because the machine does most of the work while I do something else. It takes a few minutes to sort clothes from a full hamper, another few minutes to start up the washing machine & fill it, and then I can walk away and watch an episode of The Simpsons before even thinking about laundry again.

      Speaking of The Simpsons, to make things less boring when cleaning, maybe throw on a DVD of a comedic show or movie you’ve seen tons of times. If you get overwhelmed by whatever you’re doing, you can stop immediately and jump into the story without being confused by what’s going on. On that same vein, I have a ton of comic strip collections that I will randomly pick up and start reading just for fun. I find that to be a good time-waster.

      And then of course, there’s always reading the Weekend Free-For-All threads here on AAM. ^_^

  7. Gracie*

    Ok so I got a ton of stuff accomplished this week. Picked up all my packing supplied, got my stuff organized to pack (mostly). Bought my dogs new collars and some other stuff. (A ton of work stuff but thats forbidden in this thread) All little stuff but it adds up. And I actually feel like I’m moving forward instead of wallowing and being overwhelmed.

    Anyone else get anything accomplished this week?

    1. TheLazyB*

      Yeah! Months ago i pulled out allllllll the paper and paperwork around the flat for KonMari purposes. I then let it sit there. This week, I’ve actually sorted through it all, got rid of a lot, still have a bit more to go but I’m nearly there. I’m dead impressed with myself.
      Well done Gracie!

      1. Gracie*

        Hey, just getting out of bed can be an accomplishment! I had to work this morning and it took forever for me to talk myself into getting out of bed but when I did I was happy because I got stuff done. Until the system went down lol But then I got a nap and I’ve been doing other stuff… that isn’t the internet… maybe… >.>

    2. Snazzy Hat*

      Shrank my to-do pile of papers by dealing with them, got rid of old irrelevant textbooks & paperbacks, brought almost five pounds of sensitive paper to the store for shredding and had it all shredded for free thanks to a coupon, sent some very important e-mails, and spent nearly three hours at the zoo.

      High-fives all around!

  8. Mimmy*

    I think I’m starting to develop a skin issues where I get areas of scaly, itchy skin, like around my earlobes and on my scalp by the nape of my neck. Now, I have an area around my left nostril that starting giving me grief today, though I’ll concede that it’s probably from leaving my make-up on too long yesterday :/

    Until I get into a routine at my new job, I’m not ready to make any doctor appointments. So, can anyone recommend creams? I do have some prescription cream from my evil poison ivy outbreak last fall, but that obviously wouldn’t be appropriate for my face.

        1. fposte*

          I wouldn’t use it on my face if I had sensitive skin, and if I’d never used it before I’d start with the neck and the earlobes. But I use the stuff on my freaking eyelids. It’s fine.

        2. Sherm*

          I used to be prescribed high-strength cortisone for my face, and it never caused me problems.

      1. Gwen*

        Seconding the eczema. The earlobes/behind the ears and the nape of the neck are exactly where I used to get eczema outbreaks. :(

      2. Myrin*

        Ha, yes! I just wrote in last week’s thread about my doctor’s visit with what sounds like basically the same thing you have (which are indeed eczemas), only mine only itch like twice a year which is why it took me so long to go see a doctor in the first place (because I always forgot they were there). It’s, according to my dermatologist, indeed not recommendable to use cortisone on your face (or at least not near your eyes, where mine are), so you should use hydrocortisone which are specifically for eye/sensitive areas.

        1. Myrin*

          Ah, yes, and the cream I got is called “Ficortril”, but that’s probably not available in the US (or at least, whenever you guys talk about medicine’s names, I never recognise any of them so I’d guess it goes the other way as well). But yeah, it’s just hydrocortisone.

          1. Natalie*

            It looks like the active ingredient is hydrocortisone, which is readily available in the US under a bunch of different brand names.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I get flaky skin behind my earlobes. The solution my doctor recommends is dandruff shampoo. No, really. A quick wash (a dab on your nostril) with Head & Shoulders might be a good place to start.

      1. kfed*

        Yep, I was just about to say the same thing. Medicated dandruff shampoo. That stuff spreads farther than you think.

    2. Sugar of lead*

      Sounds like a kind of dermatitis, which is usually an allergic reaction to something–I’m curious if you’ve started using a new shampoo or conditioner recently. If that’s the case, go with hydrocortisone; it’s a steroid. Your poison ivy cream is probably also a steroid, but I’d go with the over-the-counter stuff. You might also want to try a shampoo containing coal tar. It’s good for things like dandruff and psoriasis. If you’re going to go with moisturizers, make sure they’re fragrance-free, like nivea or lubriderm. I’ve also heard good things about aloe vera for itching.

    3. No, please*

      When I did hair I usually recommended a shampoo with pyrithione (sp?) zinc to clients with eczema and dermatitis. If you wash your hair daily you need to use it at least every-other wash. Avoid hairspray and other products with a lot of alcohol and sulfate. Cetaphil face wash has helped my facial dermatitis immensely.

    4. Jessesgirl72*

      It’s probably seasonal eczema. Get a humidifier for your home- especially your bedroom, and I’ve gone to natural soap. The oatmeal soap if you google “natural mystic soap” is my favorite. Dyes and scents can make it worse. For lotions, try to hydrocortisone, but mostly I stick with good sensitive skin moisturizers mostly.

      1. GirlwithaPearl*

        Egyptian Magic cream. You can get it on amazon and sometimes sephora.

        It has healed every weird sudden skin patch for me and my mom alike!

    5. Nina*

      Sounds like eczema or seborrheic dermatitis. While a cortisone cream can help the itching, don’t use it for weeks on end. Hydrocortisone is a type of steroid and steroid creams can weaken the skin over time.

      Some good OTC shampoos are Head and Shoulders, Nizoral, or Neutrogena T-Gel. When you lather, let it sit for a few minutes to penetrate the scalp. Use mild cleansers and moisturizers for the face, like Cetaphil, or CeraVe. Don’t take long hot showers, keep them short so your skin doesn’t dry out further.

      1. fposte*

        FWIW, while it’s true you shouldn’t use topical steroids for a long time without a doctor’s say so, it usually takes quite a long time with a far more potent steroid than OTC hydrocortisone before damage occurs.

      2. Mimmy*

        I sometimes get keratin hair treatments, and I know you can’t use certain types of shampoos – I think they can’t have sulfur? Anyway, if I decide to get it done again, are these shampoos you suggested okay?

        1. No, please*

          Depending on what’s in those treatments (are they for smoothing?) you could be developing a reaction to that alone. I’d recommend Redken’s scalp therapy shampoo.

    6. Sparkly Librarian*

      I’ve had some recurrent patches of facial eczema for the past 6-8 weeks, and just this week have started using CeraVe cream — to excellent results! It came packaged with the cleanser, which I’ve only used once so far (I rarely use soap/cleaner on my face because my skin is so dry). For everyday my usual products are a cotton terry or microfiber washcloth, coconut oil, and (overnight or for troublesome flaky patches) Eucerin cream. This new stuff wasn’t really responding to those, so I switched to CeraVe.

    7. AcademiaNut*

      The first thing I would try is switching your shampoo and conditioner – you may be reacting to that.

      I’d personally be wary about using corticosteroids on my face without consulting a doctor, but for neck and ears you could ask a pharmacist for advice (where I live, the steroid creams have to be asked for anyways).

      My go-to for patches of very dry skin is Bag Balm (aka cow salve). Don’t use it if you have a wool allergy (it contains lanolin), and it smells weird, but it’s thick and sticky and great if applied after a shower.

    8. Epsilon Delta*

      I have used jojoba oil on my dry skin and psoriasis with great results. For me it works way better than the prescription shampoos for psoriasis and dandruff. I use it on my face and scalp. It can be a little tricky to find in stores (only a few health food stores carry it by me), but you can order it online easily.

    9. JKP*

      I had this same problem a couple years ago. I tried all sorts of creams, even the steroid creams. For months, I couldn’t get it to clear up. Some places would even crack and bleed.

      What worked for me was a good shower filter. I don’t know what was in my water that was affecting me so strongly (maybe the chlorine?), but my skin cleared up within weeks. Also, I had used that water for over 3 years before developing the problem, so I assumed I didn’t have a problem with my water, but I must have maxed out my body’s tolerance and then it couldn’t take any more. The filter was easy to install, it just screwed on the pipe and then the shower faucet screwed onto the filter. I have to change the filter every 6 months, and I can tell when it’s getting close to 6 months, because the skin problem starts to come back and when I check my records, sure enough it’s time to change the filter.

    10. Jessi*

      coconut oil…….

      Will diminish the flake and help protect any broken skin, while keeping as much moisture as possible in the skin

    11. Princess Buttercup*

      It could be psoriasis. I had a red flaky area at the edge of my nostril that wouldn’t go away for a year. I tried everything without luck. When I go the same thing near my eyebrow, I went to a dermatologist who diagnosed it. She prescribed two creams – hydrocortisone and ketoconazole – which I mix in my hand before applying.

      It is a chronic condition, so it never goes away for good. When I have an outbreak, I apply 2x daily for a week or two until it clears up. Then I don’t apply again until I have an outbreak again. Stress is a factor, so when I’m stressed, I have more frequent outbreaks.

    12. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

      Eczema can also be diet related. If you’ve had any changes to your diet lately, you may want to eliminate a few things to see if that helps.

  9. AlwhoisthatAl*

    Exercise: A treadmill is a good idea for watching TV from as you don’t need to hold onto any handlebars. Cheap secondhand as well but a bit noisy.
    Knives: Spend all your money on one knife – the best you can afford. Go to a cookshop and handle them – what fits your hand best. Sabatier are the originals from France and often said to be the best. I have 3 knife sets and loads of other knives but I only really use 2. One is a big wafer thin japanese one I use for meat and the other a Sabatier I use for all others.
    Wrong Email: Send him an annoyed email saying “Oi mate, I’m getting flooded with your emails, sort it out” – better to be thought of as an old curmudgeon than a groomer !
    Sunny – it’s very sunny here today in Derby UK, first day in months. So I’m up in the dark loft sorting books and the boys are firmly planted in darkened rooms playing xboxes and PCs beucase they helped me with the books !

    1. A. D. Kay*

      Just a note about Sabatier: That name is not copyrighted, so you can find awful knockoffs with “Sabatier” stamped on them. I ordered several carbon-steel knives directly from Sabatier K, which is still owned by some members of the original family. The website is sabatier-shop dot com.

  10. EA*

    Hey ya’ll

    I’m in bridesmaid dress hell. My friend had me order a dress from azazie. It was cheap ($109), which I appreciated. I measured, and fit a size 2. The dress came, and it fit everywhere but the chest. Which I would have to be a D cup to fit in. It was comically big. The size chart was seriously off. The dress also felt itchy and cheap. My boyfriend called it atrocious. I sort of expected cheap material due to the price.

    Should I try and alter or just return it? I am leaning toward alterations because the company clearly doesn’t size things as they say they do. I could also get a custom dress, which would be good, except their stated measurements for a size 2 would have fit me perfectly. I called around and the alterations are about the price of the dress.

    1. fposte*

      If you’ve got time and an exchange would be free to you, it wouldn’t hurt to try just in case, but I think there’s usually not that much variation in an individual dress so it may just run big on top. I also think pricey alterations, often on cheap fabric, are unfortunately par for the course with wedding garb.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, it looks like the dresses are made to order. I’d have a conversation with customer service about a return, then, to make sure you could do it in time and to see if you have a shot at a better fit next time.

    2. JoJo*

      My friends and I had to do Azazie as bridesmaids. We all bought the basic size and then did alterations. We liked that option since we didn’t want to spend money we wouldn’t be able to return on the custom dresses done just on measurements. We all felt a lot better doing the alterations in person where we had some say over things. Alterations were far easier than going back and forth with the website, which was a major pain since we had to pick our dresses right when the website was doing a big purge and didn’t have a lot of options.

    3. MsChanandlerBong*

      I have a similar problem. My bridesmaid dress won’t be in until May 20, but two of the other bridesmaids got theirs already, and they texted me today to say that the sizing is all wrong. One person ordered the same size she tried on in the store, which fit her perfectly when she tried it on, but the top of it is way too loose. The other person ordered a size bigger than the one she tried on, yet the dress that she picked up is too tight on her–AND she has lost five pounds since she tried the other dress. David’s does not give refunds, and there’s not enough time to send my dress back and wait for a new one to arrive by the time the wedding rolls around, so I am praying that it fits when I get it.

    4. Amanda2*

      Alterations. Unfortunately it’s the price you have to pay when you’re in someone’s wedding.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        Fortunately, my mother-in-law is an amazing seamstress, so my alterations are free. But if the dress arrives and it’s too small, she’s not going to be able to fix it. It would be better if it’s too big on me so she can take it in.

    5. Automotive Engineer*

      I did an azazie custom size dress for a wedding over the summer. I was super pleased with how it turned out. I usually am a nightmare to fit dresses for (size 2 but 32DD) and it fit well right out of the box.

  11. Allypopx*

    I’ve been on SSRI’s for two weeks now (thanks to everybody a couple of open threads back for being so supportive). The ramp up has been rough, but overall my anxiety seems better, and I’ve been told when I’m not swinging through side effects I seem more even. However my depression has gotten much worse. I’ve talked to my doctor and they’ve asked me hang in for awhile, which I’m willing to do if for no other reason I don’t want to go through another impact cycle by tapering down right now.

    So far good days are good, but bad days are a real struggle. I’m hoping it gets easier.

    1. Kay*

      <3 Much love and support to you. It's hard when what you see as the right path isn't as easy as it should be. I've seen many friend go through this cycle and it's really tough, but I have faith that you'll pull through it.

    2. only acting normal*

      An MBCT counsellor told me it is quite common for anxiety and depression to cycle with each other – one increases as the other decreases and back again – before you even out. It’s exactly what happened to me, but I found knowing that it’s a normal cycle helped me to ride it out.
      Also, depending on what side effects you get, changing the time of day you take the SSRIs might help with those in the longer term (assuming your dr says that’s ok).
      Hang in there, it will get better.

      1. Allypopx*

        That’s actually incredibly helpful, thank you. My doctor told me that it’s normal to feel an increase in both at the beginning (though he hoped I wouldn’t) but I haven’t heard it explained like that. That does help me wrap my head around things.

  12. Confused Publisher*

    I started my new job on Monday. My new office is … where Wednesday’s events in London unfolded. Day 3, and we first had a complete lockdown and then an emergency evacuation. I’ve never seen the streets so sombre and London so silent as on that afternoon.
    So many people got in touch to check on me that eventually my parents suggested I post a message on my Facebook profile that I was okay. I did, and received a flood of ‘glad you’re okay’ messages. But a couple of people decided to school me on how I’m should feel, and how the events weren’t particularly scary or destructive enough to warrant the sadness or fighting spirit that was being demonstrated (not just by me), and how they’d seen far worse. I chose not to engage, but in my place, what would you have done? (Please note: this is NOT a discussion of what happened and why it happened. It did. I was an eyewitness. I’m just trying to process these reactions.)

    1. Dizzy Steinway*

      I know that exact schooling thing you mean and it’s just not okay for people to do that. I’ve been a bit frustrated by the implication that there’s a right or wrong way to feel. Nobody gets to tell anyone else that. I think people are posting all that ‘we are not afraid’ stuff to try to process it but it’s not okay when that turns into lecturing.

      My friend’s sister died in the 7/7 bombings. Another friend was on one of the trains and survived. My grandma was almost killed by an IRA bomb. To me these things therefore feel very real and personal. I’m mentioning that because I sometimes wonder if the people who lecture are trying to make it feel not personal, somehow?

      I would ignore them completely.

      For the record, I work in London but was off that day (I commute so wasn’t even in the same city). I marked myself safe after several worried messages from my in-laws.

      I don’t think you did anything wrong. Nobody gets to police how someone else feels.

      How are you doing now?

    2. Dizzy Steinway*

      PS I missed that you were an eyewitness. I’m really sorry that anyone thinks lecturing you on how to feel comes anywhere close to the definition of support.

      There isn’t really such a thing as ‘far worse’ because it’s not a competition. Some things don’t belong on a scale or a spectrum and are not for others to judge.

      Social support is really important in coping in the aftermath of traumatic or stressful events. Please don’t let these idiots put you off seeking it.

    3. Mimmy*

      I second Dizzy – I too am starting to dislike suggestions as to how one “should” feel in any given situation (I particularly don’t like grief theories, but that’s another discussion for another day….).

      I think you are right to not engage in the lectures. Don’t even “like” any such comments on your profile. Just because this attack wasn’t as destructive as past attacks doesn’t mean you can’t be somber or say “we will be strong!”. Heck, I’d be feeling all out of sorts too!

      One thing I’ve been taught in therapy is to acknowledge how you feel and not to fight it. Give yourself permission to have the feelings that you do. I find it helps to write out my thoughts or talk to someone to help in processing emotions.

      1. Dizzy Steinway*

        I’d even go so far as to say that people who argue that vehemently must have feelings of their own that they haven’t processed.

      2. Natalie*

        Hell, I’d just delete those comments if it was me. If people are going to be rude you don’t have to host it on your own FB post, and you don’t have to host any arguments another friend might get into with those folks.

    4. Confused Publisher*

      Thanks, both. I just wasn’t sure after those comments whether I was ‘allowed’ to have feelings to process at all, given I was safe, and for me, it was just two days of convoluted and exhausting journeys to and fro from work in a city whose first reaction was eerie silence.

      1. Dizzy Steinway*

        You are absolutely allowed to have whatever feelings you may have.

        I had feelings to process after just seeing it on the news. You were there. Whether or not you were safe, whether or not someone else thinks you should feel x, you feel what you feel. Addressing and processing those feelings in whatever way you need to is really important. Bottling them up or denying them won’t magically make them go away. Acknowledging them is healthy.

        If you need someone to talk to, Samaritans are on freephone 116123, available 24/7. There are also some details here of where to seek support including details for a 24/7 Victim Support helpline: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/westminster-attack-march-2017-support-for-people-affected which was set up because you’re absolutely not unreasonable, or alone, in feeling shaken or distressed or like you have something to process.

      2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        I think the fact that you were practically on top of the event makes it a bit different to say being in a different part of the city and yes, while tragic, isn’t putting you into lock down or traveling near the site in question.

        I work down the river and had no idea what was going on until I looked up and saw a bunch of comms people around one tv screen ( we have many many screens) and someone said “oh, something has happened in Westminster”. I saw the helicopters circling above when I was walking to my train stop after work but it seemed very abstract and something that was happening “somewhere else”. Otherwise it felt like any other day. But I imagine seeing/hearing the events and aftermath would be traumatic and extremely frightening. Those feelings have to come out somehow, and its no one elses business how you choose to process them.

      3. Jo*

        Just ignore them. I’ve found that’s the healthiest way to handle it when someone tries to tell you how you should be feeling, particularly via social media.

        Your feelings are your feelings, and no one else can tell you what you can, should, or will feel. This particularly applies to people who have not experienced what you did — but even if they had experienced it as well, remember that everyone is different and therefore everyone reacts differently.

        I live in a conflict zone where, sadly, things like that do happen periodically and believe me, there is a VAST range of reactions to every incident. Your reactions are your reactions and there is no “right” way to react. Focus on yourself, try to process it as best you can, and allow yourself feel whatever you need to.

        I do suggest talking to someone, though, if you have a good, trustworthy, supportive, non-judgemental person available. Sometimes talking through it helps me process things.

        What’s more, you will most likely have residual effects. For me, I can’t handle loud noises. Fireworks are the worst, because they sound exactly like an attack — I go into full-on panic mode (which for me basically means that I just start shaking, because apparently that is how my body processes fear). Just expect some sort of mental and/or physical response to triggers, whatever that might be for you, and handle each incident as it happens. I’ve been told it does eventually fade over time.

      4. Nic*

        After something like that some people have feelings, some people have none. Those who have them have the whole spectrum….and sometimes it feels like it’s all at the same time!

        You’re not doing anything wrong at all. It’s fantastic that you posted that you were okay, that is something I would HUGELY appreciate if I knew someone who was near something like that. I’ve had family do it just for being in the same town as an incident.

        Take the time you need. Feel what you feel. Be wonderful to yourself.

    5. Triceratops*

      Wow. I’m so sorry you went through that.

      The people leaving those comments telling you and others how to feel (which, of course you’re allowed to be upset/scared/sad, it was horrific and happened right where you were) are completely out of line. I think I would delete or hide the comments, that should be doable on your own page (sorry if this is not what you were asking!)

      1. Huggies*

        Yes, I was going to say if they bother you, please delete the comments so you don’t have to see them anymore.

        No one can tell you how to feel. I was in a lock down once at a school. It turned out to be a drill with local law enforcement sweeping the building, although we didn’t know that at the time. Afterwards I was scared, angry and overwhelmed (you know, because for 90 minutes we were locked down, with police officers all over and I was in charge of a room full of other people’s children without knowing we were actually safe all along). Afterwards, some coworkers told me I had no right to be shaken up as it was “just a drill”. It made me feel terrible, like I was wrong by being upset. But I wasn’t wrong, I had every right to my feelings, and you have every right to yours.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Wow. I hope TPTB got a biggggg lecture on that one. What a huge misstep on their part.

    6. NoMoreMrFixit*

      Sorry you had to go through that. I had a propane factory explode a couple blocks away from me several years ago. Best to just ignore people who try to tell you how you should react. I’ve found anyone who has gone through a similarly life-threatening incident tends to be sympathetic without being judgemental. Anyone telling me how I should react has never experienced anything similar and are verbally fertilizing the roses.

    7. DaniCalifornia*

      I’m so sorry you had to go through that and witness it. :(
      People on Facebook can be mean, or they come off in a way that seems mean. I would delete those comments and just ignore them.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      I agree with everybody–no one has the right to tell you how you should feel. I’m sorry you endured that. It was super scary, and I only found out about it after the fact, and I’m 4200 miles away (but have been in that exact area numerous times). I can’t imagine being right there at the time.

      You can feel free to ignore these reactions. The only one you have to process is your own. *hugs and puts the kettle on*

    9. Crafty*

      Yup! How frustrating! I was at the Boston Marathon bombings and experienced folks telling me that my subsequent crowd anxiety wasn’t warranted. Even well-meaning people can be so clueless about telling you how to process your own feelings. Ugh.

      1. Bibliovore*

        Those people are wrong. Ignore, delete, de-friend. As a survivor of a public trauma, (as I am) there is no right way to process the experience. Please take care of yourself first. If you find yourself experiencing elevated or depressed mood issues, feel extra irritated, difficulty sleeping or changes in typical eating, seek professional help.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      Aw crap. I am so sorry.

      I suppose that some people can just go about their day/life. I am not one of those people. I am not so sure I want to be, either. Not a slam against these tough upper lift folks, it’s more about being in keeping with my personality.

      There are basically two ways to comfort people, just my opinion of course.

      One way is to tell them they are okay, get back to life. We use this technique with kids and puppies a lot. They are learning what is normal and what should be taken in stride.

      The other way is to go into the upset with them and sit beside the person, figuratively speaking. This starts with some expression of regret: “I am sorry happened to you.” Then moves on to “tell me about what happened”. (Most people absolutely MUST talk it out in some way.) And landing on “how can I help?”

      I tend to use the second method mostly. Rarely do I use the first method. It just does not work that well.
      I remember when my husband passed. Everyone was so sweet, it made me cry, the responses were beautiful. However, one of my older friends said to me “You have been moping around for a month. You need to get over it and go get a new man.”
      Since this person was almost twice my age, I simply said, “Yeah” and wandered off as if distracted by something else. From that day forward I avoided being alone with her.

      There are times where the tough love response is appropriate, usually in extreme crisis where the person is in immediate danger. I have heard stories of people ORDERING another person to make a scary jump from a burning building. “You CAN do this , you WILL make it” and so on. It’s appropriate to take charge when there is a crisis and a person must take action to protect their life.
      Tough love after the fact? Not the best idea.

      My older friend’s response reminded me of what I did actually need. I needed good self care, I needed the warmth of understanding and PATIENT friends and so on.

      My suggestion is to look at some books on grief. What you are talking about here sounds like grief to me. Learn the symptoms, the reasons we grieve and the process of grief. I learned enough to know that my elderly friend was not going to help me move through my grieving stages. All she was going to do is get me off track and involved with some greater discussion with her about HER perspective. Check it out, it’s not MY perspective. Seek people who think similarly to you and seek people who have something comforting to say. Let these tough upper lip people slide to the back for a while.

      1. London Calling*

        Oh I LOVE these people . I had that when I was low one day after my mother died. ‘It’s been three months, you should be over it by now!’ Er no, this is my MOTHER we are talking about. You know, the one I flew 10,000 miles to see after her terminal diagnosis? the one who bust a gut to feed, clothe, educate and house us after our father died when we were kids? the one who was damned difficult to love sometimes but who never left us in doubt that she loved us?

        I did think of asking for a copy of her rules on grieving because clearly my copy had been lost in the post but I went to get a cup of tea instead. So British of me.

        1. London Calling*

          No idea what happened there – forgive me, I’m newly out of lurkdom. That was in answer to Not So New Reader and her comment about being told to get a new man.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            No prob. You’re fine.

            Yeah, some people are just so way off base that there is no point trying to bring the conversation back around.

            My challenge is not to treat these people the same way when their turn comes. My knee jerk says “pay back” and my logic says, “That makes me no different from them.”

    11. Gadfly*

      I was in a near miss of a major accident once (changing a tire, had just moved, a car hit the car we were changing the tire on and slammed it into the guardrail about 9 inches from where I was standing and then a bunch of bs crap afterwards–including that I almost had to walk a mile to get off the freeway since I wasn’t injured/had no ride) and I got the same lectures. Nobody died so it wasn’t THAT bad sorts of things. All while I was processing near death, and watching mom get hurt (still in the car) and the callousness of everything afterwards where I was essentially abandoned right after going through it. It was a big deal to me. I finally realized those people are just jackasses.

      It is the most bullshit, dismissive, disrespectful crap people can pull on you when you are shaken up to give those lectures right after. A few months later, maybe it is time. But right after is cruel. I’d delete/hide those comments if you don’t want to engage and remember that they are full of crap. Alternatively, if you have a few friends who you trust for it, you might mention to them how much those bother you and you don’t feel up to responding. I’ve yelled at people on Facebook on friends’ behalf many times.

      1. Confused Publisher*

        Thank you for all the kind words, everyone, and I’m so sorry so many of you have had such difficult experiences and not felt supported. I’d just ignored the comments until the self-appointed policers started coming back and essentially holding a multi-comment monologue on my post, at which point I deleted the posts and blocked them both. They’re entitled to their opinions: as people have said above, I don’t have to host them, or even see them!

  13. FN2187*

    Have any of you been successful in setting boundaries while living with parents? I am in my mid-20s, and it looks like I will be unable to move out until 2018 at the earliest. My mom talks to me about things that are frankly inappropriate (marriage troubles, etc) and should be discussed with a peer or a professional. It’s very stressful. But I don’t know how to kindly push back on this. Any ideas?

    1. Dizzy Steinway*

      Google ‘medium chill’ and ‘grey rock’. They will give you strategies for shutting this down.

    2. Lily Evans*

      For all my boundary setting issues with my mother, I was able to mostly stop her from complaining to me about my dad by reminding her that they’re both my parents and I wouldn’t pick sides and then just shutting down any subsequent conversations. Just a point blank, “I’m not going to talk about that” or a more gentle “I’m going to be Switzerland, here” seems to do the trick.

    3. SophieChotek*

      I have lived with my parents for 5 years after finishing grad school and having lived separately from them while in grad school (in different states) for 8 years. It’s tough and you have my sympathy both on how stressful it can be and also understanding the necessity of doing so.

      If you can talk to your Mom/Dad about boundaries (when you’re both calm, and not during a tense moment) can you just talk about boundaries? What are you both expecting? What do you both want? Are there expectations that your parents (your Mom) has of you that she wouldn’t if you were not living at home, just because even though you are an adult, you are still living with them. (For instance, when I lived at home, my mom expected me to a) clean my own room and keep it reasonably neat, although she relaxed on it over the years, b) I didn’t have a curfew per se, but I did have to tell her if I was going out and generally when I expected to be home otherwise she’d claim she’d never sleep if I didn’t come home, c) if I was going to eat their food, I was expected to eat with them and help with cooking/dishes/cleaning. On some of the more interpersonal relationship stuff — we talked about that and we had to keep talking about it, becuase we’d both resolved to do better, but then backslide, etc. But just trying to work out issues and compromises on appropriate/inappropriate topics or her always asking about my job (job search), friend, etc. and me always clamming up in reaction…we just had to do the best we could and sometimes compromise on stuff.

    4. Canadian Natasha*

      I had to move back in with my parents for a couple years due to health problems (after I’d lived on my own for almost a decade) and I found the book The Dance of Anger by Harriet Lerner to be indispensable in identifying and getting practical tips on breaking out of those kind of relationship patterns. It doesn’t just deal with anger, but with boundaries and how to maintain close relationships in a healthy way. It really helped me see where I was inadvertently reinforcing the patterns I was wanting to get out of. You might find the chapters on triangulation helpful since it sounds like you are getting dragged in as the unwilling third wheel in your parents’ conflicts. The book is written in a conversational style with personal examples from Dr. Lerner’s practice so it’s not at all dry or hard to read.

      I actually ended up making my mom a fan of the book too and now she tries to get me to lend my copy to her friends. :)

      Fwiw, I think it can be hard to figure out the balance when you and your parent are now both adults. You aren’t a dependent anymore but it’s also not quite a friend relationship. Your mom is probably also trying to find that balance but has gone too far on the oversharing friend side of things. I hope you are able to work out a healthy balance!

    5. FN2187*

      Thank you, all! These are great suggestions. Thankfully, my parents and I cohabitate well — I’m the clean one anymore, and I do most of the cooking. Since moving back to my hometown I have had difficulties meeting new people so I spend most of my time with my mom, which has led to most of the boundary crossing. Thankfully I’ll be starting law school this fall, so I won’t be home near as often as I am now (two hours on the bus daily plus studying). And fingers crossed that I start meeting people soon, too! I need friends my age and so does she.

    6. North Lake*

      My mom does this to me and I don’t live anywhere near her (but we still talk 2-3 times a day…). I’ve had success by simply saying “Yes, but he is my father so this should awkward for me. I’m not talking about it anymore.” Repeat “I’m not discussing this.” as needed. It took a few weeks but it worked. Now she needs occassional reminders.

  14. cookoomara*

    In college, I was a part of a close group of friends. We scattered for jobs for the most part after graduation, but even five years later, we still try to keep in touch and get together whenever possible. Three of the group were living together as roommates– Emily, Alice, and Jane.

    Emily and Alice have been living together consistently since college, and now have a *very* codependant relationship. Emily is rather controlling, and generally decides most of the things that the two do. Alice will push back on anything that she really cares about, but for the most part, lets Emily get her way most of the time. Well, when Jane moved to their city and started to live with them, this became a problem. Jane wasn’t a great roommate (not very clean or organized), and Emily would get very annoyed and yell at her for everything. Jane was frustrated and vented to Alice, knowing that Alice was in a similar situation. Alice didn’t take it well: she felt that Jane didn’t respect her, and thought that she was a mindless follower. Of course, this escalated and Emily and Jane completely fell out over it, and now Jane is moving out and their friendship is over.

    Obviously this is a lot of drama that I hoped we’d be past by this point. I’ve been very clear that I don’t want to be a part of it (I’m moving to the same city in the fall). Jane will be fine, and recognizes that she needs to be a better roommate in the future (she’s working on it now). But I’m a little concerned about Emily and Alice. 1) I think that Emily has some serious anger and control issues and needs to work on them. It’s affecting her friendships and her career. 2) I think that Emily and Alice’s relationship can be somewhat emotionally abusive, and I’m worried for Alice– she’s shifted a lot of her behaviors to match Emily’s expectations. Is there anything that I can do as a supportive friend?

    1. fposte*

      I think it’s pretty common for roommates to become more similar, so I wouldn’t worry a ton about that on its own. If Emily is inappropriately angry in front of you, I think it’s good to say “Dude, that’s not proportionate, and it’s not an okay reaction. What’s up with that?” I also think it’s okay to say to Alice on her own, “I think Emily was out of line there, and my impression is that it isn’t uncommon for her to yell at you like that. I’m Emily’s friend too, but I think it can be hard to live with that kind of anger, and I hope you know it’s not something you have to live with and that you don’t deserve that.”

      But you also move toward letting it go. Those are things you can say once, maybe twice, and then if Emily can’t control herself even in front of you maybe you start seeing Alice on her own.

  15. Gwen*

    Major kitchen renovation. Yay or nay?

    My husband and I just bought a home with a kitchen that is dated, but functional. It’s a small-ish galley kitchen and by knocking down the wall separating it from the main living area we could have a bigger kitchen with the open floorplan that’s so desirable these days. It would really be lovely – it would add so much light to the main living area. I’m also pretty confident it would help a lot when we go to sell it, which could be as soon as 4-5 years from now depending on how our careers are going.

    But – there’s always a but – we met with a few contractors this week and it turns out the wall is load-bearing, which is going to make it way more expensive to remove when you factor in hiring an engineer, getting appropriate permits, and adding columns or engineered beams to support the ceiling. Also factoring in new countertops, repainting the cabinets, relocating two appliances, etc. it’s looking like it will cost a minimum of $45k, probably more. I’m feeling really nervous about taking on more debt to do this seeing as we just got a mortgage as well.

    Unfortunately it’s not a project that lends itself to being done later since we still have 2.5 months on our existing lease, which would give the contractor a good head start to get the bulk of the work done before we move (and we have young kids so I reaaaally don’t want to live there during a major renovation). So we have to decide pretty soon whether to a) just go for it and knock down the wall and redo the kitchen or b) leave the wall in place but update the existing layout, which would save a lot of money but strikes me as the lipstick-on-a-pig approach. The next buyers are just going to come in and think, “Ok, it’s an updated kitchen, but that wall needs to go.”


    1. WellRed*

      The renovation is a want vs a need so i would be hesitant about financing a want with debt. Especially if you may sell in 4 or 5 years.

      1. Gwen*

        Thanks! I actually see it more as an investment than a want – I could live there happily with it as-is. Of course, it would be nice for us too, but based on the comparable houses we looked at I think it would make a significant difference when we go to sell it.

        1. Natalie*

          As a general rule, I wouldn’t do a house project of this magnitude solely as an investment. It seems to me that people rarely get any kind of decent return on it when they sell, and you never know what’s going to happen in the housing market.

          1. Zis*

            The return you get on a kitchen renovation will depend on local market conditions, the type of renovation that’s done, and the quality that goes into it. However, the 2013 NAR Buyer Profile Report found that having an eat-in kitchen was one of the most desirable features in a new home. About 89% of buyers thought it was important.

            However, and this is important if you see it as an investment, the most recent research (2015) showed that most remodelers end up underwater on kitchen renos; one of the few projects that actually increased home value by more than the amount invested was putting in a new roof.

            Doing a kitchen reno or even a slight upgrade is about making the resident happy, more than as an investment. 90% of buyers are much happier after they do a full renovation, even if they don’t recoup the investment.

    2. blackcat*

      What is the overall price of the house? I wouldn’t put 45k into a kitchen in a 300k house, but I probably would on a house worth twice as much (basically, I can’t see spending more than 10% of the purchase price of the house).

      Would spending that money mean that you don’t have any available for other things that go wrong? Since buying my house 3 years ago, I’ve had to replace a hot water heater, a stove, a sill plate, and have three trees removed (one fell and landed on the house doing a bit of damage, so insurance took care of most of that one, including debris removal, but then told us we had to get rid of the other trees or they would drop us). All in all, over 15k of “Well, that was unexpected!” It’s important to have a financial cushion, just in case.

      And, for what it’s worth, I have an updated kitchen with an unfortunately located wall. I have chosen to cope (it would be a similar price for us to deal with, for similar reasons). But I my area is also a sellers market, and has only become more so since we bought (things go on the market and are under contract mostly in under a week in my neighborhood). So if we sell in a couple of years, we don’t expect to have a problem, flaws and all. My calculation would be different if I thought our house would be harder to sell.

      1. Gwen*

        Thank you for your advice! We bought the house for close to 700k. However, it sat on the market for nearly a year before it sold. It’s in a great school district and a nice neighborhood. However, it’s an older home and hasn’t really been updated over the years, and there were issues with upkeep outside the house (overgrown yard, rotting decks, junk piled up in the backyard, etc.) that were offputting to buyers. We’ve had it inspected and the house itself is actually in good shape but will need some less fun work like a new furnace in the next few years. So, we’re budgeting for that too, plus a cushion.

        Personally, I could live with the kitchen as is and be fine with it. However, my husband really wants it updated and I think it would help significantly with resale value. It makes me nervous that it sat on the market so long. Maybe I’ll chat with our realtor to get her perspective.

        1. fposte*

          Definitely talk to your realtor, because what’s affecting sales in your area can be very specific sometimes. I will say I’m seeing some backlash to the open kitchen popularity, so I would want to be clear-eyed about resale advantage here–would you still want to do it if that wasn’t why it hung on the market and it wouldn’t add that much in resale?

          1. Gwen*

            That’s a really good question to ask. I think my answer would be no.

            I’ll follow up with my realtor – thanks!

          2. Gala apple*

            Fposte, where have you been seeing the move away from open-concept kitchens? I haven’t watched HGTV in a while so don’t know what I’m missing.

        2. NotoriousMCG*

          I just bought my second house in three years (Michigan was NOT for us) and the first house taught us a lot about really smart renovations. We were in a small city, so we bought worst house/best block in one of the best neighborhoods for 72k. The whole house needed work, but we had a similar dilemma with the galley kitchen/awkward layout. We were renovating everywhere (finished the basement, lots of yard work, painting bedrooms, updating bathroom, installing baseboards) and at the end of the day blasting out the wall in the kitchen to open it into the already huge and open living/dining room wasn’t worth it to us. We got new appliances from the Sears Outlet store and left it at that. The house later sold for 100k. If we had updated the kitchen, I think we may have priced out our buyers which would have prolonged the selling process (we sold in a day). So take a hard look at what functionality it adds, what value it adds, and what the people who purchase homes in your neighborhood are looking for.

          1. NotoriousMCG*

            Also, any design/material choices you make should stick to the classics if you plan to sell within 4-5 years. White cabinets and dark countertops with an understated backsplash will never go out of style.

          2. Gwen*

            Oh, those home prices are making we drool. Sadly we live in Expenseifornia.

            Thanks for your insight!

            1. NotoriousMCG*

              Ha! I miss them myself. House #2 is also a bit of a project but now that we’re in Larger Midwestern City it was $100k more for a comparable house

        3. blackcat*

          If it sat on the market for a year, I’d lean towards updating without removing the wall. I’d also explore middle ground options–can you punch a hole in the wall for one of those “window” looks for an extra 5k? (I’m thinking an engineering consult, but cutting the hole so it avoids the beams)

    3. Felix Hewison-Carter*

      What about putting a kitchen in the room you’d knock through to, and using the galley space as a utility/scullery/laundry?

    4. JHS*

      So we were in a similar situation. We bought our house and it was very dated and, in our view, the bathrooms were fairly gross (they were all original). Our kitchen was just sort of builder-grade crappy–not unlivable though. We ended up completely renovating our entire house (kitchen plus three bathrooms). We had the same issue with the kitchen–should we wait? But same idea, we still had our lease so we just decided to go for it. I LOVE MY HOUSE now. I think there is a lot of worrying about resale value and how much you can get back, but some of that money will be purely in the joy of living in a house you love. We ended up spending a lot more than we anticipated given how much we did (and my taste in expensive things like marble), but in the end, my husband and I are really happy we did it.

      I do think it’s important to note that we didn’t take on debt to do it though, we had savings that we were able to put into the house. I also will caveat by saying that you should keep in mind that there are ALWAYS house expenses unrelated to cosmetics that you should have backup savings for and I wouldn’t use the backup money on redoing a kitchen that doesn’t necessarily need redoing. For example, the week after we closed, our furnace broke and we had to spend $1k fixing it. In the course of the first year of ownership, we had to replace a heating pipe ($500) and replace a part of our well (another $500). Our furnace is actually cracked and we will need to replace that for next winter at a cost of around $5k and we’re worried about having to replace the air conditioner condenser.

      If you have any questions about renovating, I am happy to answer any questions. I feel like a tile, paint, stone, appliance, you name it expert now that we’ve been through our reno :)

    5. SophieChotek*

      My parents are trying to sell their house right now and did a lot of renovations thinking it would help them sell it…and the fact is, it isn’t. Her realtor said that a lot of people (who have never done any renovations in their lives) are glad its an up-to-date kitchen (they completely re-did the kitchen – cupboards, custom-built drawers, new tile backsplashes, new ‘fridge, new lights, stuff like that) — but for potential buyers who see it — they are glad it’s up-to-date so they won’t have to, but they won’t understand that it adds an extra $45k (or whatever) value to the house. They just see the house as over-priced now. So while I do agree that generally something more up-to-date makes a house more attractive, at a point you can lose money too. If it’s not a need and you dont’ care, I’d consider not doing it and being okay with maybe getting a little less when you sell it. I mean – the clients might want to pay less becuase they think “oh we need that money to redo the kitchen” but it’s unlikely they’re going to knock $45 k off their offer – because so many people have no idea how much everything costs until they start getting bids, and then they realize they want the high-end stove, or the only tile they like is the most expensive, or they find out…the house was not build to code, so now they have to spend an extra X to fix that too now that it’s been discovered.

      1. blackcat*

        +1 to this

        When I bought my house, it had a pretty up to date kitchen (the previous owners did it like 5 years before), and an up to date bath (done like 2 years before) and a super old looking bathroom. The one old looking one is perfectly functional. If we had kids and it was going to get a lot of use, I might redo it. But we don’t, it’s fine, and we’ll probably sell in the next 2-5 years, and leave it as-is for the next family to redo as they see fit.

        But if it had been redone and made the house worth an extra 5-10k? That would have pushed it from at the top of our budget to outside our budget.

        The only renovations I see mattering are making sure it’s up to code before selling. For example, my parents just put in new, bigger windows in what used to be mine and my brother’s rooms. The windows were up to high to count as a means of egress in modern code, so they couldn’t legally list them as “bedrooms” where they live. (In their town, only “historic” homes count for grandfather clauses. Cookie cutter homes built in the 70s do not…). Being able to list it as a 3 bedroom instead of a 1 bedroom is really easily worth the 15k they spent doing that renovation (the price was so high b/c they discovered termite damage once the walls were open. That, and an actual rats’ nest, filled with baby rats).

      2. Gwen*

        Thanks, that’s really helpful to hear. To be honest, we saw it too when going through the buying process. A house we loved was way overpriced because they had put $30k into installing all-new windows throughout the entire house and they wanted to recoup that money. But looking at comparable houses in the area, which had windows that were fine (maybe not as fancy? I don’t know, they looked the same to the untrained eye) the pricing seemed out-of-touch and we (and many others) didn’t bother making an offer.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I’m not in the market for a house and have never bought one, but when I was considering buying the house I’m currently renting, one thing that struck me SO HARD is that even if you put in tons of renovations, they don’t necessarily raise the price of the house as high as you might think. It was a revelation to me. Our landlord did $90k of renovations in this house, but he thinks it means the house is now worth 150% of what he paid for it, and… it’s not. It still needs all new windows, fixes to the insulation, and all new exterior and interior doors. I would have made him an offer that would have been $120k over his purchase price, but he wanted way over that, so… no. The housing market is so finicky, and I learned it is definitely not a zero-sum game.

          1. Dan*

            Yup… as a parallel, my ex bought a used car. KBB on the thing was $4k. The next month, we brought it in for state inspection, and needed $1k worth of repairs to pass. Does that mean the car is now worth $5k? Nope. Does that mean it was only worth $3k when we bought it? Probably not that either.

            Realistically, prices aren’t set just by the seller, they’re set by “the market”, which is a combination of both buyers and sellers.

            On the whole, markets are really interested. I’ve been renting the same place for several years, and my rent on average goes up about 4.5% per year. The area I live in is undergoing massive redevelopment — the transit system is adding an entire heavy rail line, which they are building in two phases. Phase I is open, and i live near the terminus. Phase II is under construction.

            You’d think that the transit system would “cause” rents to go up significantly, but they haven’t. Furthermore, the transit line is attracting a *lot* of new construction, creating a big increase in supply.

            Point being, markets are unpredictable and trying to guess and time them is usually a losing proposition.

        2. AcademiaNut*

          Another issue is that renovations may cost more and take longer than you expect at first. So if it’s 60K instead of 45, would it be worth it? Or if you don’t increase the sale price, but it merely sells faster at much less what the renovations cost you?

          I’d lean towards not doing major renovations when the primary motivation is to increase the selling price, for reasons that other people have expressed well. If you were planning on living there for 30 years, and would get the full benefit of using the kitchen, it might be worth it. Plus, when you sell, there will be other potential buyers who will look at it and say “Oh, we can knock out this wall” without realizing how much it will actually cost, the way you did.

          It also sounds like there’s a bunch of stuff that you can do that will make the house more attractive at much lower cost, and direct benefit to you.

        3. NotoriousMCG*

          Actually, new windows is a thing I *specifically* look for when house hunting. Those plus updated mechanicals, roof, electrical, and insulation are all pricey things that aren’t splashy and so are a pain to have to do yourself but do add a good amount of value. For instance, our new house is in a lovely historic neighborhood, but unfortunately at some point in the century since it was built, they built the airport nearby. Now since we’re a hub for UPS, there’s plane traffic all the time. But since the previous owner replaced all the windows (most of them cutom! One is humongous! At least 6’x10′!) and shot new insulation in all the walls, we can’t hear a thing when the planes pass by.

    6. LCL*

      Forget about resale value and the next buyer. Is it worth 45K to you to make those changes? For me, the answer is no way in hell never, you can buy a lot of good lighting fixtures for a lot less.

      1. Clever Name*

        This. We recently spent a tidy sum to completely redo our master bath, and we love it. The original bath was 25 years old and beyond its useful life. Tiles were broken and we discovered carpenter ants during construction. Frankly, the house and neighborhood had outgrown the builder grade laminate and linoleum, and the bathroom needed to be upgraded. We didn’t redo the bathroom because we thought it would make us money. We did it because we wanted a new bathroom.

    7. Dan*

      Realistically, you should be doing these things because *you* (and your husband) feel they are worth the value to yourselves. Otherwise, you’re taking a guess at what the market will value 5 or 10 years in the future. That’s not an investment, that’s a gamble.

      Given the amount of money on the line, I think the answer is, “If you have to ask…” Realistically, you just bought something and are now trying to guess what other people are going to want and what they’re willing to pay 5 to 10 years down the road?

      Make the decisions that are right for you right now. If you can afford it and you want to do it, do it. If you can’t afford it, then don’t. Don’t try and guess at that the market will do down the road. What happens if you take out the debt and values only track inflation over the next decade? Now you put $50k+interest in your house, and got no financial return for it. For that matter, what happens if we get another dip in the market?

      1. really*

        +1 Especially because you don’t know what the market will be in 5 years. I personally don’t like the wide open floor plans.

      2. Sutemi*

        If you sell in 5 years, you won’t be selling a house with a new kitchen. You will be selling a house with a 5 year old kitchen – fairly updated but a bit of wear and tear. You don’t know if your colors and choices will appeal to the buyer.

        Do it because you want it and can afford it, not for some future potential someday buyer.

    8. NoMoreMrFixit*

      Many years ago we lived in a small house and decided to upgrade. As in raise the roof and add a second story. Ended up being cheaper to raise the entire house and put in a basement. Gutted the entire interior and discovered the plans had to be changed as the main load bearing beam ran side to side rather than front to back. Doing things the way we wanted would have required building an entirely new house. So we changed plans and forged on. Ended up living there for 32 years before moving away to another town.

    9. Jen*

      I’m in expensiveachusetts in a house we paid $740k for that has an ugly kitchen. We’re ripping off the band-aid and fixing it. $45k sounds *cheap* to me for a kitchen gut/Reno that includes beams. Ours is over that and we aren’t moving load bearing walls.
      If this is truely a 4 year house then do nothing. But 4 years can easily turn into 7 and now you’re in a house with a kitchen you hate for 7 years.

      Of course, if you can’t afford it the answer is a Hard No. Assume you’ll get back 1/3 to 1/2 the 45k in resale (asking a realtor is the right way to go) and make the decision based on that.

      1. Bibliovore*

        okay. this sounds like us. In our old apartment, I always hated the kitchen. Only one burner worked and the oven not at all. The dishwasher was broken. We spent a huge amount on- maybe 30,000 on the renovation and I loved loved loved it. We only lived there 4 years after that. The housing market was increasing so we did get our money back.

        Now. 30 year old kitchen. Appliances failing one after the other. Just replaced the fridge. The oven won’t broil. The dishwasher works half the time.
        The contractor came in. He suggested taking down a wall etc.
        What we are going to do since we probably have 5 more years here.
        New floor.
        New Counter tops.
        Frame the old cabinets in a complementary wood.
        Rework the builtin desk into a window seat.
        New appliances.
        New lighting.
        That is it.

    10. Jen Erik*

      I was listening to some mums discuss that this week, because two of the group are doing their kitchens at the moment (though only one involves a load-bearing wall.)
      One of the things that came up was that sometimes people put off the big renovations, because time, money and small children underfoot, but by the time they have ample time and money the children have left, and it feels a bit unnecessary.
      If you’re sure you’ll be moving in 5 years, that’s irrelevant, but if there’s a chance you might stay, it’s worth considering how the house would work with teenagers. (The mum who is removing the wall has kids aged 6 – 11, and that was a big factor in her decision: she wants the extra space so their friends can forgather at hers.)

      1. Kate*

        I am SO glad to hear you say that!

        We are doing our basement right now (i’d say redoing, but it was an empty shell) and we have a toddler. It is costing a fortune, money we don’t have a lot of on hand because of daycare, and it’s hard having construction AND screaming toddler at the same time.

        That said, it’s going to increase there usable size of our house by a third (we have a tiny house) and add a bathroom.

        I just keep hoping it’s worth it…

        1. NotoriousMCG*

          Bathrooms add SO MUCH value. Especially if it’s adding one instead of simply updating one!

    11. Kj*

      I’d live with it for a while. The problem with doing renovations right away is you don’t know how you’ll want to use that kitchen. Some stuff you might not think is a problem is a MAJOR problem and vis-versa. I’d wait and see what works and what does not. My rule for homes is “move in and then decide.” Our home’s kitchen is dated to a silly degree, but the only things I’ve done have been super-cheap fixes- peel and stick vinyl tile over the other hideous vinyl and new hardware on the cabinets. After cooking in the kitchen for about a year, I have ideas about what I’d like and I’m collecting ideas on a Pinterest board that allows me to think carefully about what I like, want and need. Husband and I thought about tons of renos before we moved in, but ended not doing them. I am happy about that as we have had more cash for the unexpected needs and desires. We needed new heat the month we moved in- the heating system was expensive to run. We also discovered all kinds of things we wanted- mostly furniture and outdoors stuff- and it was nice not to have to put off getting a patio set when we wanted to be siting outside.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      So much good advice here.

      I think it’s really important to renovate to suit YOU and not some mythical buyer years from now. Whatever you do they will rip it out and start over.

      Your realtor should know the ROI (return on investment) on almost anything. Two examples. When I worked in a nursery we told people not to spend more than 5% of their home’s value on landscape. They would not get their additional money back. Next example. I was trying to sell my father’s house. It was unfinished. The realtor said “Put the stairs in to go up to the second floor. It will cost about $500 to do it and you will get $5000 more for your purchase price.”

      Next. If you cannot get your husband to let go of the remodel, then try,try, try to get him to agree to wait a year so you can see what your costs are to live there and what else needs to be done that maybe more pressing. Then keep VERY good records of what you are spending for everything that first year. You can also tell him that once you guys live in the house then you will know what it is that your realllly want, right now any remodel will just be a guess by both of you.

    13. Observer*

      Don’t be so sure that everyone wants an open kitchen – dining room. A lot of people don’t.

      Personally, I see the advantages, but I still much prefer to have the kitchen actually separate from the dining room.

    14. Colette*

      One thing no one is mentioned is that kids grow, so if you end up staying and want to do the renovation in 5 years, it won’t be a pain in the same way it would be now. Waiting is an option – and once you’ve lived there for a while, you will have a better idea of what the pain points are so that you can make sure the new kitchen doesn’t make the same mistakes.

    15. Zis*

      Having recently built a house with my family where we put in a load-bearing wall into the kitchen/dining room to save costs, opening up would be well worth it for the aesthetic value alone. We did almost everything besides the framing, drywall hanging, and licensed trades: pouring the concrete foundation, doing the interior design, installing the cabinets, installing flooring (travertine), installing the counters (granite), and building the island. If you and your hubbie can do some of the easier stuff, like flooring (especially if you go for engineered hardwood that’s easy to install), your renovation costs can go down dramatically.

      However, if you’re doing this on debt, I’d say hold off. It’s not a “good” investment; you will only recover, on average, 2/3rds of the cost of the work. It’s an emotional investment for you, as the buyer. 90% of people who do a full kitchen remodel, and 82% of those who do just an upgrade, are much happier at home after doing it and feel more accomplished for having finished the project. You might also be underestimating the cost of the remodel, though of course that depends on your local market conditions, but the average complete remodel cost $60k in 2015, which recouped $40k based on market comparables. However, that is $40k more than you would get without the remodel, and you would be much happier after doing it.

      A partial upgrade might be better, especially if you do it in stages. Just upgrade the things on the wall that would remain, cabinets for example, and then a few months or years down the line replace the load-bearing wall and everything on that side. The typical upgrade costs $30k, and recoups $20k, which is why the majority of Realtors will recommend it as a small investment that can bring better returns, as opposed to the small minority (12%) who would recommend a full kitchen reno.

      TL;DR: It’s not a great monetary investment, but it is a great investment if you want to feel at home. Maybe tackle the project in stages rather than all at once if you’re worried about taking on such a large amount of debt, or see if you can do some of the upgrades with just you and your husband to save costs.

    16. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

      I’d look into other ways to open the wall without knocking it down. Can you put two posts in to anchor an island and open the interior? Posts can be decorated really easily – vertical herb gardens or just beautiful woodwork.

    1. Annie Mouse*

      Oh dear. First this site lead me to Dilbert comics online and now a new one that looks pretty good. I know what I’ll be reading next!!

  16. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I am finally growing something– a sourdough starter! And it’s WORKING. I think I’m at the point where I can start using it for a recipe, and I am inordinately excited. I even named the damn thing (after a local lab that studies microbiomes and yeasts). I feel so accomplished.

    1. Lady Julian*

      Oh, awesome! I’ve wanted to try this for a while & might this summer, when I have a little more time. What resources did you use to learn how to start your starter?

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I love King Arthur Flour– their site is my first stop for any kind of bread recipe. I followed the instructions on this blog post: http://blog.kingarthurflour.com/2012/04/05/creating-your-own-sourdough-starter-the-path-to-great-bread/

        I’m finding it relatively easy, but I had to remind myself to do twice daily feedings. I’m now at the last step before I put the stuff in its permanent home. Also, I didn’t realize quite how much flour it would take. I might have to get yet another bag of flour during this week’s shopping, which is a shame, because it was on sale last week. :)

    2. Stephanie*

      Yay! I had to gift my three-year-old sourdough starter to my friend when I moved. Glad yours is working out.

    3. SophieChotek*

      Yay! I need to do this sometime. (I can totally see myself naming mine, if I ever start.)

    4. LizB*

      Woohoo! A past roommate had a starter she grew and made the best sourdough pancakes with it. I kind of want to try and start my own just so I can have them again.

    5. dr_silverware*

      Yes!! I love mine. I got a bit of starter from family, so it’s pretty well-established. I don’t treat it very well, but it’s been flexible and good to me and makes realllly good bagels. I love thinking of all the little creatures working away.

    6. Mrs. Fenris*

      I haven’t done a sourdough starter in forever and I should do one! I find the whole process of making bread fascinating, even though I can’t say I’m very good at it.

      And if you haven’t read Kitchen Confidential, by all means seek it out soon, and read the chapter about Adam the psycho baker and what he called HIS starters.

  17. Lady Julian*

    Who’s done online dating? I tried a free site recently (because I’m too poor for a paid version), hoping to actually go on a couple dates (I am in my 30s and just because of my personality/background, haven’t dated very much at all.)

    So far I’ve warded off a few lechers, and had a few good chats. But now I’ve got a guy who wants to meet me IRL, like for dinner. Problem is, 1) I’m up against a bunch of work deadlines & would be too stressed by them to enjoy dinner, and 2) dinners are awkward in general. I might suggest meeting for coffee, though even then, I feel kind of bad, because I think this guy may be interested in a longterm relationship. I’m not interested in that at all. Sigh.

    1. Sherm*

      When I did online dating, I almost always opted for coffee. It was quick, low-key, a way to get to know someone who was practically a stranger. If it turned out that our expectations were different, well, no biggie — hopefully the coffee was nice. If he throws a fit about the idea of coffee, or about that you’ve hit a crazy time at work and need to postpone for a little bit, then he’s not worth meeting.

    2. JHS*

      When I did online dating, I always just met for a drink. If it felt organic to go to dinner after, I did. If you don’t like the person after a few minutes and then have to sit through dinner, that can be agonizing!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Oh God yes. Coffee or a drink is perfect for a first meeting, and you can make it quick if you’re swamped. Also, if you hit it off, then you can make plans for something more leisurely.

    3. Dan*

      1) In general, I’m not a fan of “dinner” on the first date. (I make an exception for pizza, as it tends to be one course and can be quick if necessary. It’s also not terribly expensive.)

      But I do think you need to find some time in the next couple of weeks to meet the guy in person. If you take a month to meet him, things may taper off and you both lose interest.

      2) As far as long term goes, go out on a couple of dates and feel him out and ask some probing questions. Although, I’m not sure you can necessarily get a straight answer to a direct question, I know that if I were asked that, I’d duck it or find some otherwise noncommittal answer.

    4. Sunflower*

      I always do just drinks or coffee on the first IRL meeting. There’s just a lot up in the air on this first meeting and it’s best to be able to leave after 30 minutes if you’re both not feeling it. I agree with Dan- definitely try to schedule him in or things will taper off. It’s happened to me a lot.

      I would also maybe step back and try to see how online dating and IRL dating is different. Online dating is a very large pool and there are no social cues tot pick up on- meaning that a lot of people following the same habits and steps with everyone they meet. It’s pretty common to have a standard ‘this is how introduce myself, this is how I ask to meet IRL’. What is throwing up the flags that this guy wants a LTR- from what I’m reading, is it simply because he asked you to go to dinner? And you think you’re going to hurt his feelings by suggesting coffee? This isn’t my experience at all- Most people are just eager to meet because they don’t want to waste time talking to someone that they can’t connect with in person. Or they don’t want to get stuck with the ‘I will talk to you forever but never actually try to make plans to meet you’ person.

      If he does freak out, he’s clearly not someone you want to date but I think you are may be overthinking his reaction a bit. Also- what is it that you are looking for online? People are looking for everything ranging from ‘Just DTF’ to ‘I am looking for my soulmate’. Being upfront about this will spare a lot of heartbreak and confusion down the line.

      1. Dan*

        Yeah, I don’t like online conversations that drag out. I’ve always wondered what people are looking for when they are hesitant to meet in person but are fine communicating online.

        Me? I’m looking to establish that there’s enough to get through a 30 minute conversation over coffee/drinks without too much awkward silence, and the person isn’t too nutty. I actually find it a bigger waste of time to drag things on too long just to find out there’s no “spark” in person.

        I realize women want some assurance that they won’t be meeting someone in a dark alley and everything that goes along with that… which is why you meet in very public venues in neighborhoods with lots of foot traffic.

        As for what people are looking for… IMHO, it can get complicated, because what that person wants might be dependent on a lot factors. I know that for me, when I first got divorced, I wasn’t looking to make anything exclusive for the first year or so, but if I found the right person, and things kept rolling, long term could be on the table. I also wasn’t just looking for people who were DTF only — I was out there to see what’s out there, and figure out how to play the game again.

        Sometimes you just gotta roll with it without overthinking it. In my line of work, we call that analysis paralysis, which is where thinking about things too hard gets in the way of actually getting anything done.

        1. Natalie*

          The safety argument never really made any sense to me, but maybe that’s because I was in college when acquaintance/date rape was starting to get a lot of attention. I know people don’t like to think about it, but people we meet through mutual friends or whatever aren’t magically going to be safe people. :/

          As long as one follows common sense precautions – have your own transportation, tell someone where you’re going – meeting someone from the internet for coffee isn’t especially perilous.

    5. Kj*

      I meet my husband online, so I liked online dating for what it was: a chance to meet a few potentials, check them out and hopefully find someone for the long-term. I found now-husband on my third try, so I was very lucky. That said, you aren’t looking for long-term, but you aren’t looking to hook-up either, given your “a few lechers” comment. Are you being clear on your profile you don’t want either? Honestly, most people on OLD in my experience are looking for hook-ups or forever partners, so you may be somewhat limited in who wants the same thing as you. You need to find a way to say “I won’t sleep with you right off, but I will never marry you” and that is hard to do. Maybe see if other profiles have a graceful way of doing this?

      Coffee, in my opinion, is a bad first date. Dinner is also a bad first date. Pick something you want to do- active things, like going to a museum, going on a walk of a new part of town, farmer’s market- and suggest that. It is something you already want to do, it is active, you can easily say “gosh, look at the time” when you finish the walk/museum/market OR you can go for that coffee after you know you like the person. It also gives you something to talk about with your date. Staring at each other over coffee or dinner is kind of boring in my opinion.

    6. HannahS*

      I did! Definitely a fan of coffee dates because they’re as short or long as you like.
      I didn’t have success with online dating, personally, and I’ve given up for a while. I think it was a mix of my location and the kind of person I was looking for.
      One thing I’d say (and I’m saying it because I didn’t succeed at it myself, and it’s part of what burned me out) is that feeling bad for disappointing a blind date is a massive waste of energy. Rejecting people feels terrible, but I’ve found that being rejected is actually not that bad. So I’ve tried to adjust my expectations; if I can take being rejected with a shrug and a smile, then so can other people. And if they can’t it’s really not my fault. I have a “standard” script for turning down both online invites to talk and second (or third or whatever) dates, which I found helped me not worry over finding the perfect combination of words.

    7. Natalie*

      I’ll concur with the crowd that dinner is too much for a first meeting. Coffee or happy hour is much better – you can always extend it if you really like them, but you have an easy out if you don’t. I went on enough dates with people that I had good chemistry with online but absolutely nothing offline. Versus the guy I thought was actually kind of dull online and only went out with because I was bored and didn’t want to go all the way across town for a party. We ended up closing down the bar that first date and now we’re married.

    8. soupmonger*

      I’ve done a fair bit of online dating and after a few first dates of dinner, I swore I’d never, ever throw away an entire evening on a first date. Coffee is good, but a weekend lunch is great as it’s the weekend – you have time to enjoy lunch but you don’t have to sit there all afternoon. If your date is a ‘no’, you have an appointment after lunch, so easy escape. If your date is a ‘yes’, then you have afternoon, evening, night and Sunday to follow :)

  18. roseberriesmaybe*

    There was a post on Tor about the best light, funny, and/or whimsical sff books for hard times. They don’t have to be speculative fiction, but tell me your comfort reading! What book(s) do you keep coming back to?

      1. Still no username*

        Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, P.G. Wodehouse – that’s my comfort reading. A little absurdity never fails to cheer me up.

        1. roseberriesmaybe*

          I’m the same! Absurdity works for me. Somehow in my two comments I forgot to recommend something myself, but Wodehouse’s A Damsel in Distress is the only book that has ever made me laugh in public

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      It sounds so odd, but I read Nora Ephron’s Heartburn whenever I’m depressed. A fictionalized account of her real-life divorce! Sign me up! Sounds odd. But I love Ephron’s style and I just “get” her, so it’s a go-to for me for sure.

    2. Kay*

      Love this!

      I read mostly sff, so: Mercedes Lackey is my go-to comfort reading. I think of her books like mac & cheese. Not all that good for me but happily indulgent. I also have a long list of nostalgic favorites (Anne McCaffrey, Patricia C. Wrede, among others) that leave me content no matter how many times I’ve read them.

      1. Newby*

        I remember reading Dragon Song for the first time. I think it was the first non-children’s book I read.

    3. bassclefchick*

      I like to read the “fluffy” mysteries – Cleo Coyle (Coffee House Mysteries), Donna Andrews (Meg Lanslow series), Joanne Fluke (Hannah Swensen series). Yeah, I know they aren’t always taken seriously, but they’re fun for me and if there’s recipes includes, it’s a bonus.

      I also like reading James Patterson. I really like his style. It’s a fast read for me and if my husband leaves me alone, I can usually knock one out in a Sunday afternoon.

      But the ones I go to first when I need light and funny are Janet Evanovich. She makes me laugh out loud! It’s always fun to see exactly how Stephanie Plum manages to destroy another car.

      1. Newby*

        I like fluffy mysteries sometimes too (especially the ones with recipes). I don’t know how mysteries with cooking became a sub-genre, but I’m not complaining.

        1. ladydisdain*

          Publishing fads. Publishers were avoiding cozies in favor of ones heavy on forensics and thereby leaving a lot of mystery readers out in the cold. Craft mysteries sprang up to fill the void.

          At least, thats how it was explained to me.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I have an entire bookshelf of all my kids’ books, plus ones I’ve bought later and I like to read favorites from childhood. The Little House books, the Ramona books, etc. Sometimes I read through all the picture books or my large collection of Peanuts books. :)

      I need to have a kid, LOL.

    5. Newby*

      Julia Quinn if I want something light and funny
      Patricia Briggs or Ilona Andrews if I’m in the mood for urban fantasy
      Brandon Sanderson for fantasy
      Lois McMaster Bujold for science fiction

    6. SCAnonibrarian*

      Dealing With Dragons series, and Asimov shorts. Especially the robot ones. Mercedes Lackey’s Beauty; over and over and over. Ancient kid’s fantasy or sf/dystopian stuff: Escape From Witch Mountain, Children of Morrow, Invitation to the Game, The Other Place, Ruth Chew’s witchy books.

      1. Gingerblue*

        Someone else who remembers Ruth Chew! She was a staple of my Scholastic orders as a kid. I just bought a bunch of used copies of the ones I remembered better to reread.

  19. MommaCat*

    Any potty training tips? We just got word that we’ve gotten into the preschool we were trying for (yay!), but kid has to be totally potty trained by the time he starts in August. And by totally potty trained, I mean able to pull pants down and up, and be able to sit on an adult toilet seat to do his business. I’ve been bribing him with candy and getting him to go every hour, but that’s a lot of candy. Any other tips?

    1. Saro*

      This book is what helped me the very, very most: Oh Crap! Potty Training. The summaries I read online of the book were not helpful.

      I tried the candy and so many other things before the book!

    2. Book Lover*

      We did the M&M thing and it worked for us. Or to be more accurate, my son couldn’t be bothered to potty train for #2 until he was 4, and my little girl did it in a day or two with the M&Ms at 2.5…. So it probably has more to do with the kid than the method, but it did work and didn’t take long.

      I do think that just throwing away the diapers and not doing pull ups is the way to go. Might have a few accidents, but then they get it.

    3. Science!*

      We used the Oh Crap potty training, but modified it to fit our life. My son was 3 when we started (which the book said was too late, but whatever). We did the one day naked, one day with just underwear. We let him pick out his new underwear so he was really excited about wearing them.

      Our big sticking points was using potties outside of the house. My son didn’t like the sound of the flushing, and automatic flushers were the worst. Carry around sticky notes to put over the sensors to prevent them from flushing.

    4. Sualah*

      My mother raised 2 boys and 3 girls and swears that for boys, getting something that turns the water blue and telling them they can make it green will work every time. She says they love it.

    5. SharedDriveUser*

      A little late to the conversation; however my boys were trained with floating targets. The type we had could be left floating and didn’t interfere with flushing. Worked like a champ with both my boys and their bestie from next door.

  20. Weeping Willow*

    It’s funny, I’ve heard a lot about depression and seen it in people in my life but I never associated it with crying. I knew people got quiet, moody, withdrawn, etc with all those various symptoms but I never really thought about crying.

    I don’t know if I have depression but it feels like I do. Lack of energy, disinterest in my normal hobbies, withdrawn from people, unhappy thoughts; Ive been thinking I might have depression. But I didn’t expect I’d be crying so much. I seem to cry at nothing in particular. I Mean, there are times there’s a definite trigger, but lately it’s nothing at all. This morning, I got up, ran an errand for some crafting supplies, drove to my mother’s house in the beautiful weather with good music in my car, greeted the family dog who I will be watching this weekend, then sat down on the couch for no good reason. I’ve been having a good morning, I have fun plans with friends this evening, nothing majorly pressing I have to attend to, yet I’m sitting here crying, the dog staring at me wondering what’s wrong.

    im a young female so I’m used to getting emotional around ‘that time of the month’ but even then there’s a reason for me to go off, even one as minor as being frustrated from a long day. This, though, this is crying over nothing and I don’t know why I’m doing it.

    1. Dizzy Steinway*

      This sounds completely like depression. Have an internet-stranger hug, if you want one.

    2. Lily Evans*

      I’ve definitely had periods of depression where I cry really easily that made me wish I could just go back to feeling nothing. It’s really frustrating because I’m normally not an easy crier at all and it feels embarrassing. I’d definitely recommend seeking out a therapist if you haven’t already, and maybe also make an appointment with your regular doctor since sudden mood changes can be indicative of other problems (my worst bout of depression coincided with being ridiculously iron-deficient anemic).

    3. Sunflower*

      Instead of trying to decide ‘am I depressed’, I think you should focus on the fact that something is clearly not right lately. If you google ‘symptoms of depression’, I think you’ll find a lot of what you’re experiencing on that list. It’s also very common to experience feelings of nothingness. My therapist has never said ‘you are depressed’ but I’ve experienced pretty much every single symptom of depression in the past 6 months. Just because no one has ever said it to me, doesn’t mean it’s not there.

      It can also be difficult for people to understand that depression doesn’t mean ‘I’m sad all the time’. You can still be happy and have great days but be depressed. Or you can feel just plain nothing at all. I experienced my first bout with depression 9 years ago and I didn’t know that’s what it was until I started therapy a few years later. If you’ve never experienced depression, it can be difficult to decide if you are depressed because emotions can be quite conflicting.

      So I think you should definitely talk to someone- whether it’s a doctor or a counselor. Even if you are totally healthy and just going through a funk that will kick itself soon, it will most likely make you feel a little better- at the very least for a little bit. I’ve been dealing with this and in therapy for a few years and it’s not easy but it’s reassuring to hear I am not the only one and eventually, I can come through on the other side of this.

      1. 30ish*

        Exactly. I’ve found that, for me, depression was mostly an absence of positive feelings (I had issues with crying, too, but it didn’t seem that extreme to me). When I should have felt really good, I was feeling meh. But that’s really hard to pinpoint while you’re experiencing it. It’s only really obvious in retrospect.

    4. 30ish*

      I had the same symptoms when I was depressed. I finally saw a psychiatrist and now I’m so much better! No crying for weeks, if not months. Please get the help you need and deserve.

    5. Charlie Q*

      SAME, friend. My depression manifests as a lot of crying, mostly at things that objectively aren’t awful and sometimes at nothing.

      But! One thing I’ve found helpful (as a human who talks myself into believing that my problems “aren’t a big deal”) is that I’m allowed to go to therapy even if it isn’t depression. It helps me to call it by its name, but on days when I’m doing the whole “other people have it worse, I need to get over it” BS, I remember that it doesn’t have to be the worst in order to deserve help.

      It took a few tries, but I now have the best therapist I could ever have dreamed of. Love and light to you <3

  21. Dizzy Steinway*

    I think I might have some symptoms of adult ADHD although probably not enough for a diagnosis and I’d appreciate practical coping tips. I’d dismissed the idea in the past as I can be so hyper-focused – but I’ve recently discovered that hyper-focus can be part of it. I have other symptoms but not enough for a diagnosis I don’t think.

    I don’t want to offend anyone and I’m not be that annoying person trying to Google-diagnose myself, but there are some things I’ve struggled with for years. So I thought I’d ask if anyone can suggest practical tips for something I’m struggling with in particular. I’ve got lots already for not interrupting/ waiting to talk (though I find it exhausting and avoid socialising sometimes as it drains me so much to have to always be policing myself) but something I really struggle with is waiting for information e.g. I can’t concentrate on watching a video to find something out as I just need to know the thing NOW. It can help if I doodle or play Sudoku but then I often tune out the original source of my impatience.

    I wondered: is it better to find ways of relieving the impatience or try to stay with it? Like how with anxiety you feel like you want reassurance but it doesn’t help in the long run?

    It’s just dawning on me that I’ve been making a very wrong assumption about what is typical. I thought everyone found it difficult or frustrating to wait for information or wait to speak and they just dealt with it much better than me. I am just now realising that they might not feel that way to start feel. I feel really weird – kind of cheated, and I don’t know what’s typical or how to find out.

    1. fposte*

      Hey, that all sounds very familiar to me :-). I think the specific problem you’re asking about isn’t so much a problem these days, since people are looking stuff up on their phones all the time and the internet often has an answer to your question. I don’t know if it gets worse if you indulge it or not–I think we’re talking something like a compulsion, which operates differently than anxiety. I do think it’s good to develop self-distractions for situations where you can’t look the stuff up, but I hang with people who share the impulse to some extent, so nobody’s bothered if you’re watching TV and you want to look up where you saw that actress or what other show you heard that song in.

      1. Dizzy Steinway*

        Unfortunately sometimes you kind of need to watch the video (but for reasons that would belong on the Friday thread). More generally I’m just realising that my levels of impatience and inability to concentrate are not, in fact, typical, and it’s left me feeling kind of discombobulated!

      2. Dizzy Steinway*

        Oh and with respect, it’s not true that nobody is bothered. Someone is: me! I’m sick of these extremes of concentration, never feeling relaxed, making careless mistakes, and desperately need practical tips. Like: what kind of self-distractions and how do I stop them distracting me too much instead of the right amount?

        1. fposte*

          That was my sentence about who I hang with, though, so it’s absolutely true.

          I’m still just dipping my toe in, but mindfulness training might be something to explore there. RO-Cat has posted a great list of resources for it in a previous open thread.

          1. Dizzy Steinway*

            I do do mindfulness and it’s helped a bit but not a lot. I’m really looking for practical ‘in the moment’ strategies. Like the ones for interrupters on the Friday open thread.

      3. Dizzy Steinway*

        Also I don’t mean I can’t find things out as I can’t watch videos. I just mean I can’t concentrate on videos to an extent I think is not typical but I really don’t know!

    2. Temperance*

      I deal with the same thing. I’m bad at reading conversational cues, and there are few things I hate more than watching a video for information when an article would satisfy so much more quickly.

      I also struggle with disorganization.

      1. Dizzy Steinway*

        Ah, I’m sorry to hear that.

        Personally I can read cues – I just have a really hard time keeping my impulse gratification monkey at bay.

    3. Sir Alanna Trebond*

      I hate watching videos for information too! I routinely watch informational videos at twice the speed while doing something “mindless” like folding clothing. Articles are so much easier to quickly skim. I’ve even been known to look up episode transcripts because sitting through an entire episode seemed like too much effort. It’s been a bit of an epiphany for me that apparently none of this is normal? I wouldn’t have ever suspected ADHD because I was a high performer in school. However, this weird brain thing–call it ADHD or whatever you will– definitely affects my life. For example, I just cannot make myself focus to fill out necessary forms, e.g. tax stuff, tuition stuff, whatever. This has actually cost me money in the past! I will be watching to see if people have some practical tips.

      1. Dizzy Steinway*

        YES to the transcripts – they are a godsend when they exist.

        I’m not sure what is and isn’t normal, I feel like I don’t know at all now so please don’t take my word for it!

          1. Dizzy Steinway*

            I’m five minutes in and have 25 points so far. I also like this guy – he talks fast!

            1. Sir Alanna Trebond*

              I got more than 100 when I did it too but of course I couldn’t be bothered to grab a piece of paper so I have no idea what the exact score was.

        1. ms42*

          Heh! I’ve been switching between the open thread and the transcript of a podcast on dealing with ADHD for the past half hour or so.

          I tend more toward lifestyle changes to prevent the sort of problems you’re discussing than coming up with in-the-moment strategies, but I find that knitting helps me with the interrupting and similar impulses during meetings. I write down a note about what I want to say and put the energy into the yarn until there’s an opening for me to speak.

            1. ms42*

              For me, honestly, exercising in the morning is the biggest thing. I have to be careful with it, because I also have fibromyalgia, but a workout in the morning where I really got into the zone, makes a huge difference with my ADHD.

              I also try to plan things both so I can get in a zone and so I have fewer decisions to make, both to work with how my brain wants to work and to eliminate points of stress for it. Cooking for the week (so I can get into a food prep zone), doing a big batch of laundry and planning my clothes for the week/having my gym clothes ready to go in advance, all of that makes it easier for me to deal with impulses since I have more reserves to deal with them.

              I hope something in there helps you!

      2. Jaydee*

        I never would have suspected ADHD either because I was a good student. But looking back, it was all there. Why did I take me so much longer to finish things than it took others? Why was it so hard to just sit down and focus on things (unless it was something I was really into – then time would stop and I would forget to eat and sleep)?

    4. Miranda*

      I hate videos for info, so does my spouse. That said, I survived videos and lectures (that you couldn’t go to the book to find the information from) throughout college and elsewhere. I found note taking helped, that way I wouldn’t lose what the professor/videos were saying, but I would have something to do with my hands, and if it got too boring for a short while I could doodle in the margins. I’ve heard good things about quiet fidgeting devices that might help if they let you do something without tuning out your original info source, and could be good for chatting situations if they aren’t annoying/distracting to the person you’re listening to. My husband watched video lectures for some master’s degree classes on his own time, and found a way to make the computer play it at what I think was at least half again faster than the recording speed without it sounding too distorted.

    5. Jaydee*

      Oof, I feel you on all of what you have described. I would say to be cautious about the things you jump to while waiting. If you find that they help you focus better (like I find taking notes and doodling help me focus in meetings, even if I don’t really *need* the notes) then they are probably okay. But if you find that they actually make things harder for you (like when I jump on AAM or another site during work while waiting for something else to finish and then end up wasting way more time than I intended to) then you should find a substitute activity that is productive or a way to deal with the waiting.

      FWIW, I was diagnosed with ADHD a couple of years ago (and anxiety more recently, which my therapist says is commonly co-occurring with ADHD) and between meds and therapy have found a lot of the things you are describing to be much easier to cope with.

      1. Dizzy Steinway*

        That’s a good tip, thank you.

        I’ve looked up the NHS criteria for an adult diagnosis and you only need five symptoms to get one. I definitely have more than five. I might actually seriously look into this.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      When I do not get enough sleep I do these things, I grow impatient with people talking, impatient with videos, anything that takes longer than… oh… two minutes.

      I do agree that some patience is learned, it’s not there by natural causes.

      Just a shot in the dark here: Do you have a goal that you are somehow blocked from getting to that goal? When I was at my most impatient it was because I was no where near where I wanted to be in life. It came out as, “Hurry up, will ya?!!!” that was my answer to almost everything.

      1. Dizzy Steinway*

        The goal question is an interesting one but actually, nope. I retrained, switched career and am really happy and fulfilled. I’m happily married too.

    7. Panda Bandit*

      I don’t want to sit through those videos either and I do not have ADHD. It is partly about time, like why sit through 10 minutes of filler when all I need is a simple answer?

    8. Mike C.*

      Wait, hold on here. In the work thread you were really short with me when I ranted about my efforts to deal with my ADD at work with regards to needless meetings and now you’re here talking about your own possible ADD?

      but something I really struggle with is waiting for information e.g. I can’t concentrate on watching a video to find something out as I just need to know the thing NOW

      I mean, this is really close to what I was complaining about! I know this exactly feeling and frustration you’re feeling – you’re talking about training videos where the narrator is really slow and they go on and on with useless metaphors and you’re sitting there waiting and waiting for something useful to happen and there’s another digression or example and it just keeps going when you just want to know X, Y and Z? Yeah, I’m with you, it really sucks!

      I apologize in advance if I completely misread the tone of your comment before but if not I really think that’s not cool. You should understand how much it sucks to stick someone with these sorts of conditions in a small room with literally nothing to do for hours on end.

      1. Mike C.*

        And looking over your post here again, if these issues are bothering you that much, I really think you should speak to a doctor if you have access to one. If these issues are big enough to constantly irritate you, they’re big enough to talk to a professional about.

        Lots and lots of folks trivialize these issues in the public realm, and you should be wary of falling into that trap.

    9. Nic*

      I struggle with the same thing. I thought it was normal until my roommate commented that when I’m watching TV (the thing most people do when they’re bored) I also have to be playing sudoku or some other little relatively mindless thing because I’m bored.

      I find that having relatively mindless puzzles (or ones I have shown to muscle memory like puzzle rings) helps me because I can do something while still focusing on whatever it is I’m trying to watch or listen to. To my understanding doodling or drawing works for some other people.

      1. Nic*

        Oh! I also find it having something going in the background, like a documentary or music helps. Even if I’m watching a video, having something soft and background focuses me.

  22. Cruciatus*

    On Thursday my one cat had to be put down (not the one in the avatar). I’m doing OK but you always hope for more time. But she wasn’t happy anymore. She was nearly 17 and was fighting cancer, though at her last vet appointment with the cancer vet (just on Tuesday) he said he didn’t notice any leukemia bumps (or whatever) and was set to see her in April for some sort of hydration procedure we’d have to give her daily. I could already tell that she wasn’t doing well and wasn’t likely to bounce back. So did mom. We talked just earlier this week about not wanting her to suffer and should my mom make the decision as needed (since she’s retired). I agreed yes. I’m a little frustrated the cancer vet didn’t seem to notice any problems with her (not eating much which just started a few days before (she was actually up in weight over the last month when she couldn’t STOP eating it seemed until it stopped a few days before her next visit), difficulty standing still, etc). And of course that visit was over $300, just for us to decide she needed to be put down 2 days later. I know we made the right decision. As I said, she wasn’t happy anymore and while she would still come to see what food was being put out, she didn’t want to eat any of it. She did have one final purr session with mom on her lap before they went over.
    I will really miss her though. She was truly the best and sometimes I feel guilty that our routine changed when our latest cat joined our house in 2010. She didn’t sleep in my room anymore because new cat took it over. In fact, she basically took over everything. But I hope she feels she still got good time with me and her other humans. She and her litter mate were abandoned on our road nearly 17 years ago (and her sister still lives, with arthritis, but still very happy I think). My sister found them while taking a walk down our rural-ish road. My mom said not to name them as we already had 2 cats. We named them right away. Whoever abandoned them really missed out. They have been wonderful. Not mean, maybe a little food obsessed, but goofy, social (unless you ring the doorbell), and loved following their humans around the yard or to the mailbox. Sometimes she would bring us snakes. Snakes: the strings of the animal world. But she wasn’t much of a killer (unlike her litter mate) and just liked watching most of the time. The end of their lives seems so far away at the beginning then it somehow sneaks up on you and you have no idea where the time went.
    I really didn’t plan to write all that! Guess I just needed to vent some feelings. We will be cremating her. Does anyone have ideas for what to do with her remains? I’d like some sort of tangible thing but I’m not interested in a memorial stone or things like that. Maybe a tree or bush planted with her ashes. Any other ideas (that are reasonably priced)?

    1. Dizzy Steinway*

      I’m so sorry for your loss.

      We planted a rosebush that shared a name with a beloved pet we wanted to commemorate.

    2. fposte*

      Aw, Cruciatus, I’m sorry, and that was really a lovely tribute. A friend has an urn on the bookshelf with her beloved cat’s ashes; since they’re in a bag, it’s pretty easy to put them in anything you like in the pottery line (though lidded is probably the best way to go) and that wouldn’t have to cost much. I scattered my father’s ashes under two of my trees and liked doing that; I was particularly moved to read that a tracking dog can actually detect the person’s scent in the tree years later. They were already planted, so it was just a matter of mixing the ashes into some compost (otherwise they just blow away from the surface) and pouring that around the foot of the tree.

    3. Jessesgirl72*

      I’m so sorry! I have a keepsake box where I display the collar and tags from the pets who have gone to the Rainbow bridge.

      I always bury the remains in a favorite spot (or in view of a favorite spot) but like the idea of a tree.

    4. Max Kitty*

      It sounds like she had a lovely life. I’m so sorry you had to let her go. No matter how long their lives, it’s never long enough.

    5. bassclefchick*

      There are companies that make jewelry out of cremation ashes. I think it’s really pretty and an interesting way to commemorate your pet. I just googled it and the one company I found was called Cremation Solutions. But I’m sure if you do better research than a 5 second google search, there are plenty of other companies that do similar things.

    6. Lestat*

      If you’d like to keep her always, you could have a glass orb or heart made with her ashes. Artful Ashes does beautiful work. Link to follow.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      I’m sorry you lost your kitty. :(

      I love the idea of planting a tree/bush with her ashes. We did a tree for the dog we had growing up. My mum took care of everything while we were at school, and we planted the tree near his grave later. My parents haven’t had that house for ages, but I like the idea of my doggie’s tree still there for others to enjoy.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I am sorry for the loss of your little friend.

      I think sometimes animals mark chapters in our lives. A family member got a cat right after her father died and she was a young teen. That cat stayed with her until a few weeks before her daughter was born. The cat was 17 or so. It’s like the cat knew it was okay to go. My family member had made it into adulthood and now had her own family.
      Your story here sort of reminded me of a pet knowing it is okay to go now as there is someone else to carry on.

      You know, garden shops have lovely statuary now. I saw some dog statues that were really great. There’s probably some cat statues, too. Maybe you would like something like that?

    9. New Window*

      The end of their lives seems so far away at the beginning then it somehow sneaks up on you and you have no idea where the time went.

      Yes, always yes. We put our cat to sleep a couple years ago, and he was 18. It’s funny how short 17 and 18 years becomes when you have to say goodbye.

      I’m sorry you’ve lost your cat, and I’m happy that she was a part of your life for as long as she was.

    10. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

      I’m so sorry. No matter how much time we have with them, it’s never enough.

  23. Myrin*

    Back update!

    I saw the doctor last week and he could confirm that I have very, very mild scoliosis (so mild that I didn’t even see anything wrong with the X-rays until he pointed it out) but that the problems I experience are probably mostly because of muscle cramps that I need to continuously battle via, well, moving a lot. My feet are also a problem (I love my feet, my feet are great and beautiful, okay? But they’re also not at all standing like they should) and he said I definitely need to get my jaw looked at (which is a procedure that, luckily, he knew my regular dentist can perform) because it makes a cracking sound whenever I move it in one direction (which I knew, I just didn’t think it signified anything). But yeah, he prescribed six massages and physiotherapy but said that the most important thing is that I do a lot by myself, and continuously.

    So I’ve been taking up yoga and gymnastics again and I’m already feeling so much better! Now I just need to be strict with myself and not start slacking again but yeah, it’s six in the evening here at the moment and only just now am I started to get back pain which is a huuuge improvement. So thank you guys all so much for the encouragement and kind words!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      My back has been out since Monday — I’ve been all twisted up and I’ve barely been able to stand upright for more than a few minutes at a time. Yesterday I had a massage that fixed a lot of it — I can now stand upright and walk normally. I’m still really sore and not back to normal, but it’s amazing how much massage can fix.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Oh heck yeah. I wish I could get one every week.

        I need to do either Pilates or yoda to help mine; if I don’t, an old injury starts up with the complaining and it makes it hard to do anything.

        1. Lissa*

          Oh gosh that typo gave me such a cute image of my mind of tiny Yoda walking on someone’s back for healing purposes! awww!

    2. misspiggy*

      OK, so all those things together are making me ask if you’ve ever looked into hypermobility/EDS, and the specialised physiotherapy that helps with it…?

    3. Jen Erik*

      I’m really glad your doctor was able to offer such concrete suggestions, and I hope they continue to help with the pain.

    4. Clever Name*

      I mentioned in your last post I also have scoliosis. Massage has been a godsend, along with yoga and Pilates on the reformer.

  24. Jessesgirl72*

    It is shaping up to be one of those weekends! Took my older dog to the vet yesterday because he’s starting having “accidents” overnight, and has lost weight. Of course, he needed to loose weight and he’s been walked a lot more, trying to get him there. They took blood and urine and xrays and said it was probably one of 3 old age diseases, but wouldn’t know for sure until his labs came back this morning. At least the x-rays had ruled out cancer or anything untreatable. He’s been drinking a lot, so I figured diabetes.

    Well, I was right. Only his lab results were so bad that the vet wanted him back in immediately, to treat him over the weekend. Problem is, my husband left with our only car for a 3D printing meet up 4 hours away at 5:30am. So the Vet (he really is awesome) sent his Tech over to pick the dog up. Dog was happy to go with the stranger if it meant a ride. Younger dog is a nervous wreck and runs to the window any time I move or she hears a sound.

    I had planned a project of putting appliques on onesies (so apparently easy, this far) but have no sewing machine experience to “seal” the edges, so I intended to hand sew them. The instructions suggested embroidery floss. I thought I knew where my container of floss was, but I was mistaken. Sooo, considering the long cold rainy day by myself and needing something to keep my mind off the poor sick dog (who had no change in energy or happiness, despite his lab results!), I made my first Amazon Prime Now order, that just because available in Milwaukee this week, for floss.

    Just mostly venting, since my husband doesn’t even have cellphone or wi fi signal in the building they are using. He steps outside occasionally to check on texts from me.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      This sucks. I hope you have talked to your hubby by now. And I hope the vet is able to help your dog in some way.

  25. Laura*

    Cleaned my bathroom sink this morning and now I get to prepare for my presentation to a social group on Monday. Pre-presentation jitters are setting in- what if I flub it? Am I missing something? Etc.

    I have all my materials ready to go and it’s a topic I’ve got down pat. (wrote a paper and my thesis for college on it and I write the stuff so I know fan fiction pretty well.)

    But still the nerves are present… prolly never goes away. Should prolly get to prepping. (A couple read throughs of the script and looking through the outline packet I have for my audience.)

    Good vibes appreciated. Will let y’all know how it went.

  26. nep*

    Can we talk candida overgrowth?
    Anyone have experience with battling this by getting gut bacteria in balance? I’d be interested in hearing about this.

    1. fposte*

      I’m rather a skeptic on candida overgrowth, but I know that the Specific Carbohydrate Diet is getting looked at for repopulating the gut microbiome in general; it’s pretty restrictive in the introductory phase and the information is often not helpful about progression, but some people find their way through it and find good benefits. I actually don’t tolerate fats that well so failed very quickly on a first try on the diet; I might try it again and see if I can do a low-fat take on the early days. (I loved the yogurt, though; still making that.)

      So I’d recommend having a look at that to see what you think. Most people talking about the diet are talking about it after the introductory phase, at which point it doesn’t seem all that tough to me; some of them also cheat like mad or rely on rolling everything in nut flour, which seems to me to be asking for a new kind of monocultural trouble. There are also people on the other extreme who make it sound like you might as well not try it if you can’t get locally sourced carrot puree and de-ionized chicken, so it’s kind of a diverse collective :-). Scientifically speaking, it’s not established, but there is some nascent research on it that’s got some good results, and my very experience GI mentioned the possibility of trying it to me.

      1. nep*

        As in, you don’t think candida overgrowth happens and affects people?
        Just interested in hearing more, as I’ve been looking into this more in the past couple of days. (A lot of conflicting things out there, both on line and from people I’ve asked.)

        1. fposte*

          I don’t think there’s evidence supporting its significance at the moment, and I generally think probiotic manufacturers overpromise the hell out of their stuff–by the time they get to us the bacteria are pretty old, and they’re tiny in number compared to what we’re already containing (looks like at least one got slapped down by the government for it, in fact).

          I do think we’re struggling right now to pin down GI diseases of civilization like IBD and IBS and exploring different ways to conceptualize them as well as deal with them, and candida overgrowth fits into that; we’re certainly only beginning to understand the gut biome and also how it affects the gut. And anything that points us to a diet that comes less out of packages and more out of the perimeter is probably going to improve our health regardless.

          1. TL -*

            All the evidence now argues against candida overgrowth being a significant factor. Yeast infections do happen and if you’re bored and want to be grossed out at some point, google candida tongue infections – but the symptoms for those are quite obvious and easily treatable.

            And beyond what fposte said about probiotics, we don’t know nearly enough about our gut microbiome to understand what probiotics to give and in what amounts would be helpful. Probiotics are a good idea, but we don’t understand nearly enough to put them into practice with any sort of efficacy.

            1. nep*

              Causes of yeast infection?
              Anyone care to share what pharmaceutical or natural remedies have worked?

              1. fposte*

                It depends where, but mostly it’s a mucous membrane/wound thing. Immune compromise is a big precursor for oral yeast infection; vaginal yeast infections are common when taking some antibiotics or steroids or when the area is remaining moist rather than drying out. (At least once somebody has given it to themselves by taking Saccharomyces probiotics, so there’s that too.) An antifungal like fluconazole is a good first line treatment that’ll knock out most of yer basic candida situations.

                (BTW, TL, there are actually a couple of GI journal articles of the actual science type that have found atypical populations of yeast in people with some GI disorders. I didn’t track them to see how seminal they were, and they weren’t claiming causality, but I thought it was interesting.)

                1. TL -*

                  That’s interesting! They’re just now starting to dissect the microbiome – it’ll be interesting to see where it goes.

                2. Natalie*

                  Semi TMI, but I once had a horrible cycle of candida/BV/candida/BV – I’d swear on my life that the antibiotic gel for the BV caused the candida, and the fluconazole would then trigger BV.

              2. Not So NewReader*

                Yogurt. In conjunction with other things, but I cannot remember what those things were.

                I have not had a yeast infection in quite a while. But I quit eating a lot of carbs, so many things have gone away. ha!

                This is not a good technical explanation but my problem was over reliance on one food group and ignoring others. This is probably a case where I made so many changes that my body starting working better. I was into comfort foods and I started choosing foods for their practical benefits.

                But even with that, I still have to do stuff to target specific problems. Currently, I am supposed to be eating some fermented foods. This is a test, I tell you. I do not like fermented foods…. which is probably why I need some.

                1. Gadfly*

                  I’ve been falling in love with homemade sauerkraut. And the homegrown milk kefir? I don’t like it to drink but it makes a wonderful cream cheese like spread.

          2. Mike C.*

            Yeah, I completely agree probiotics are overhyped right now. It just plays so nicely into the themes of “one weird trick” and “oh, it’s a perfectly natural way for the body to heal itself”.

  27. Marillenbaum*

    So…I just got dumped last night. I really cared about this guy, and he waited until the end of the date to break things off, which felt spectacularly crap–I thought we were having a nice night out, and he was just waiting to end things the whole time. I’m trying to be really nice to myself this weekend, but I’m also really down. Any advice on riding this out and getting my confidence back?

    1. nep*

      Sorry. It sucks, plain and simple.
      Just time, and keep being nice to yourself.
      Please keep us posted.

    2. Elizabeth H.*

      I had the waiting until the end of the date thing, with going away for a week over New Years. There is definitely something that feels especially bad about that kind of timing but the motivation is that they want to put off hurting you, and probably also feel conflicted and hard not to give in to the impulse to just keep dating and put it off. In my case I’m still glad we did it and had such a nice time one more time. But I’m sorry, it always sucks.

    3. NotoriousMCG*

      Ugh! That happened to me too once! My boyfriend and I were hanging out the night before I went on a three week trip to Europe, and at the end of the night he decides to end things! Totally ruined my trip!!

      As for powering through, engage with all your other friends more, read favorite books, and throw yourself into a new project that’s challenging. When you find yourself ruminating on things, find some way to move around and refocus. Let yourself be sad, but then make yourself get up and not languish.

    4. Sunflower*

      Check the weekend open thread from last week. Someone posted looking for advice to get through a breakup and I thought a lot of it was good. Someone also posted a really interesting document that was a compiled list (that people are still editing) of things that helped them get through a breakup.

      You should definitely do something that makes you feel good this weekend- for me, it’s taking a long bath and reading or binge watching TV shows. I love to dance too- nothing gets my confidence back like dancing around my apartment. I also enjoy working out/running to get the anger and aggression out. This might be a good time to do something you’ve been putting off- have you been wanting to try something new but are too scared? Do it. I bet you can.

      Read ‘It’s called a breakup because it’s broken’. It’s hilarious and has always served as a huge confidence booster for me when I’ve been dumped. Other than that, just let yourself feel all the feels. Cry if you want, sleep if you want, call a friend and talk about what you’re feeling. Ask for hugs from friends- I don’t know why but hugs just make me feel so much better. And people like giving them.

      Other than that, hang in there. I am someone who does not take breakups well so I KNOW the agony of knowing I’ll move on and find someone better but damn it just hurts so much right now. And just wanting to be the F over it and move on. I feel ya- lots of hugs from me to you.

    5. Lissa*

      Ugh, I am so sorry! I seriously wish there was some kind of accepted breakup etiquette because I hear so many stories like this. My male best friend from high school did this to his first girlfriend — took her out on a really nice day, then ended things at the end of it and she was NOT happy. I talked to him about it later and his intent was to try to make her happy to “soften the blow” or something…total good intention fail,ugh, don’t do that! I feel like while it sucks to get a “we need to talk’ style message where you know the breakup is coming, but I prefer that to being blindsided.

    1. fposte*

      I want to use “Opae ula shrimp update” as my email subject for everything.

      (Holy cow, do they really live for 20 years?)

  28. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    Inexpensive party/wedding reception ideas?

    A childhood friend of mine was disowned at barely 19 for being queer and had to drop out of college; now, at 21, she and her partner want to get married so as they can go back to college as independent students. They’re having a courthouse wedding, but are looking for affordable reception ideas to have a small party with some friends and maybe a supportive sibling or two.

    I offered to help them in any way I could, and this sort of planning is so much better than helping them through FAFSA or college or social services bureaucracy.

    1. JHS*

      What about a cocktail reception at a restaurant on a Saturday afternoon in their non-busiest time like maybe 3-6 with just passed hor d’oevres and they can do a signature drink plus wine and beer?

    2. fposte*

      Depends where you are, but around here the answer would be parks. You can rent a pavilion for about $100.

      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        That does sound good. Her partner loves to bake (she was in culinary school before everything went south with their families), so they might want to bring in outside food.

        1. fposte*

          I worked with somebody who had a wedding in the park with the favorite local pizza as the food. She was thrilled with it and her friends enjoyed themselves thoroughly. Do pizza, combo platter from Subway ($38, according to the website), something like that, have the partner bake something. Check first on the alcohol policy if that’s important (I think most allow it these days but sometimes you find ones that don’t).

          1. Gaia*

            I know that at our local parks you need a “permit” but it costs nothing and is just an added line on your reservation stating you’ll be having alcohol.

      2. blackcat*

        The booking fee for my picnic wedding was $50, with a $100 refundable deposit (which I got back).

        Sandwich platters + salads (including an awesome bean salad as a vegan main dish) ran like another $200 for about 35 people. The local grocer that I got it from threw in a free sheet cake when they heard the word “wedding” when my parents’ friends picked up the food. (Later, my mom found out that the story was that they had made another cake wrong, scrapped off the words on top, and re-frosted the center)

        People stood for the ceremony, and we used picnic tables and picnic blankets for eating. I spent another $50 or so on miscellaneous things, like kites, frisbees and a cheap bocce set.

        Marriage license costs vary. Depending where she is, getting a friend ordained on the internet is a good way to avoid officiant costs.

      3. Gadfly*

        We did the park thing for the wedding and reception. Crockpots with chili were the main food (we got a pavilion with power). A friend made the cake. We talked about trying to do a waffle bar instead (make it a brunch sort of thing) but it didn’t work.

      4. Mike C.*

        Parks are a great idea, but there’s a good chance you won’t be allowed to serve alcohol. On the other hand, this might save you even more money.

    3. Kay*

      Parks, library community rooms, the grange, or a local cafe that’s not open in the afternoon/evening. Catering is always the most expensive part, so maybe a themed potluck? Everyone brings a type of cookie, or a breakfast item, or a chili cook-off, or something grill-able. If you can find somewhere with access to a stove, make your own pizzas could be a ton of fun, especially if you split up the work and everyone brought a topping.

      Depending on size and relative geekery, I could also see a local comics store or board game store (which often have open spaces for DnD or board game playing) lending them a space where they could hang out and play games for a few hours, order some pizza, and just relax and celebrate with friends.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        My friends did a pot luck and, oh boy, did they have good stuff. I think they ended up with more food than if they had it catered.

    4. NotoriousMCG*

      I don’t know where you are, but we had our rehearsal dinner at a family friend’s field and it was really fun. They could make it a BYOB potluck, and just bring some speakers and an iPod!

    5. Ktelzbeth*

      We did a potluck in our church’s commons. I started cooking about a month ahead of time in those big trays that go in steam tables and then froze them at the church, thawing the food a few days ahead and baking up to temperature during the ceremony. Everyone else also brought food in true potluck style, but I was paranoid they wouldn’t, so wanted to make sure there was plenty. I’m not sure what my ingredient costs were, but much cheaper than catering. It kept me busy, but I had more time than money.

    6. Liane*

      We had our wedding in a park. Mom-in-law and a couple of friends provided food. I don’t recall what the pavilion rental was, but this was 25 years ago. If they want a wedding dress or 2, I swear by bridal-shop discount racks–got a $500 dress for $50 because of a have-to-search-for-it snag.

      Churches are also good, & yes, there are many that don’t have issues with same-sex couples. (Our church has 1 lesbian couple–that I know of–and the kids’ Venture Crew is chartered through a church with a mostly-gay congregation.)

    7. Gene*

      We rented the Unitarian Universalist Hall and did a sandwich and salad buffet with box wine and beer. We catered the whole thing, including two cakes (chocolate and vanilla) from Costco. It was 20 years ago this year, but I think the entire thing was in the $250-350 range.

    8. Kj*


      Brunch! Choose a venue that doesn’t do lunch or breakfast and they’ll usually charge a very small fee for room usage, plus food.

      A backyard reception: cake, a couple dips, chips, pita and drinks. Could even do BYOB if crowd is cool with it.

      Picnic in a park: rent a pavilion (usually less than $50) and have some music and trays from Sam’s or CostCo.

    9. AcademiaNut*

      If the weather is likely to be nice, I’d go for a park rental, but not potluck. Find a venue that has grills, and go for either sausages and hamburgers (with veggie burgers as needed), or meat and vegetable skewers, depending on how much prep work you want to do, and the number of gluten free guests).

      Have someone at the venue 1/2 hr before the specified start time to get the grills going, so that they’re hot and ready to cook when you need them. Provide toppings for burgers (ketchup, mustard, sliced pickles, cheese) or some sauces for skewers (tatziki, hot sauce). Then get some trays of Costco veggies and dip, tortilla chips with salsa and hummus, coleslaw. For drinks, a cooler or big (clean) garbage pail full of ice with soft drinks, juice, iced tea, and (if allowed) beer and cider. For dessert, buy a sheet cake or two and have custom decorations.

      Bring a bunch of wet-wipes for people to clean sticky hands easily, and some bins for garbage and recycling, to make clean up easier, and some big picnic blankets for people to sit on, if needed. And have some way to handle presents if people bring them.

      You could make up a sign or backdrop with the year and names on it, for people to take casual pictures with – the couple, and also with their friends. And afterwards, collect photos from the participants, tidy them up a bit, and give the couple a memory stick of photos, and maybe a printed book as a keepsake.

      1. Gadfly*

        Problem with that for the veggie guests is a lot of them have legitimate issues if the veggie burgers are sharing a grill with the non veggie ones–so keep that in mind. (Huge issue at my wedding because my husband is vegetarian in part for religious reasons, as are a number of his dearest friends–part of why we did crockpot chili instead, easy to have different crockpots)

    10. Natalie*

      Depending on how small the party is, a lot of restaurants have side rooms that can be reserved for no extra cost assuming everyone will order food.

      Also for a small group, maybe someone’s home? If it hadn’t been 100 effing degrees when I got married we would have had our reception in our yard.

      And our alternative venue was really cheap, too – a small art gallery that didn’t do a ton of events. We brought in catering and self-catered drinks & dessert, and everyone had the art to look at when they were feeling awkward.

    11. Chaordic One*

      Gee, in reading these ideas I am very impressed at how sensible they are. It sounds like everyone had a good time and they didn’t break the bank.

    12. Red*

      I did the same thing, courthouse wedding for FAFSA reasons! We’re having a picnic at the local park in the summer with all our family. It’s a potluck and we will bring a cake and outdoor games, and it’s going to be a good time.

  29. Gene*

    One more, then it’s errand time!

    The 2017 Formula 1 season is under way! I’m looking the new rules, the cars look good and the lap times are way down. Not sure about the pink Force India, but the Toro Rosso livery is great.

    1. Mike C.*

      Holy crap that was a great race! I stayed up to watch it live. Not sure if it’s cool to discuss the details yet, but I was surprised by the reliability issues. Only being allowed four engines before penalties will be quite interesting.

      I’m loving the new look of the cars, and you can really see that extra second or two per lap on the on board cameras.

      I don’t like the look of the Force Indias either, but if they were paid enough to turn every surface they control pink then here’s hoping we’ll see a more competitive team in the midfield. They were absolutely terrible last year. Toro Rosso looks nice, I’ve been a fan of the matte paint on the Red Bulls and it’s interesting to see an orange McLaren.

      But I’m going to be a blatant partisan and root for Haas F1. I was seriously impressed with their performance last year and I look forward to some more action this year. No shame here. :)

  30. ZZYZX*

    I went out to breakfast at a chain restaurant this morning, and everything was wonderful until at the end the cashier told my spouse and I to “Have a blessed day”. Why would she say that? She has no idea that I am an atheist and my spouse is Jewish. While she may have been saying this to be nice it came across as “I’m a Christian and you should be one also”. What would hav been a good response to politely tell her that we have no intention of having “a blessed day”?

    1. Elizabeth H.*

      The polite response is just to say thank you and smile. There is no polite way to tell someone you have no intention of having a blessed day, only rude ways. She DID mean it to be nice and did not mean “I’m Christian and you should be too.” The world is full of different kinds of people, just accept people’s words in the manner in which they intend them (in this case friendly).

      1. Jo*

        Yes. Seconding this.

        This is completely normal in the south and it really weirded me out when my parents first moved down there because I’d never heard it before. I’m not religious at all and still find it weird, but with things like this I’ve found it most helpful to simply take it in the spirit in which it’s meant.

        They’re not trying to convert you or anything like that – if anything they most likely assume you share the same faith – they really do just mean “have a nice day.” Nothing more, nothing less.

    2. NotoriousMCG*

      I live in the south, so I probably run into it more often, but I generally just shrug it off as someone trying to be nice and so I appreciate the gesture. I’m not religious in any way, so I just switch ‘blessed’ for ‘good’ in my brain and smile, nod, and walk away.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Same. I’m Jewish. I live in the South. This is just par for the politeness course. No one is trying to imply that I should be anything different from what I am, but even if they were, it takes far more effort to get irritated by it than to simply smile, nod, and leave.

        I once heard someone say this at work in my office in NYC. THAT was unusual.

    3. Dizzy Steinway*

      I was raised Jewish and wouldn’t be offended by this. I’m not saying you’re not allowed to feel what you feel, but I think it’s just a thing to say and not at all personal.

    4. fposte*

      As an atheist myself, I don’t care for that one either, but I don’t think it’s necessarily telling you you have to be Christian; for a lot of people it’s basically the way “goodbye” used to mean “God be with you” and no longer does.” So my action is to say “You have a good one” and move on.

    5. A. Non*

      You’re assuming, too, though. You’re assuming she’s Christian. She could be spiritual, she could be Wiccan, she could be a lot of flavors of religion that view blessings as good thoughts.

      Try reframing it in your head.

    6. LizB*

      This phrase used to really throw me/annoy me (I’m Jewish); I’ve now heard it enough that I’m numb to it, but I get where you’re coming from. It’s one of those itsy-bitsy reminders that Christianity is acceptable to the mainstream in a way that other traditions really aren’t. A non-Jew would probably find it weird if I wished them a Good Shabbos on Friday night, because that’s not something they believe in, but nobody bats an eye at religious greetings based in Christianity. I understand the nice sentiment behind them, but it can be grating.

      One thing that’s helped me is mentally “translating” it into a sentiment I’m more comfortable with. So, in this person’s language, “Have a blessed day” is how they say “I hope your day is awesome.” Maybe they also meant it with a side of “Have a nice day AS LONG AS YOU ACCEPT JESUS,” but I’m just going to pretend I didn’t hear that part.

      1. Gadfly*

        THIS. It is basically the quintessential small little thing that microaggressions was coined to describe. It is not a major thing in itself, and it usually isn’t ill intended, but it is still that one more piece of straw atop the camel’s back. And, seriously, a lot of times it is a dominance move to reinforce that their thing (whatever it is) is the expected norm.

      2. Alinea*

        I am rolling! “As long as you accept Jesus!” LOL. It reminded me of a certain aunt…

        Interesting point about no one bating an eye at Christianity based things. As diverse as some parts of America are, that is so true. When I am in [overwhelmingly Catholic Latin American country] I feel like hearing similar phrases “makes more sense” but in Southern California I don’t hear as many faith-based phrases in casual/business conversations unless I am specifically calling a faith-based organization.

        OP, I agree a simple “thank you” is the best route to go.

      3. Observer*

        “Blessed day” isn’t especially Christian, though. As others have mentioned, “blessings” are considered GOOD things (that we should wish for all people in most cases.)

        I have a friend whose family’s traditional sign off is “Zei Gebentshed” which is Yiddish for “Be blessed”.

          1. JaneB*

            Round here I’ve only ever heard it from the ostentatiously pagan/Wiccan/new age types

            Geography of culture is such a weird thing in the internet age…

          2. Charlie Q*

            That’s so funny because I think of it as an explicitly non-Christian thing, similar to “Blessed be” in lieu of “Amen.”

    7. Elizabeth West*

      It means nothing—a lot of Christians say it to literally everybody. It’s their version of “Have a nice day.” All you have to do is say “Thanks.” You don’t have to return the sentiment.

    8. Temperance*

      It makes me uncomfortable, and I would probably file it in my mind when thinking about places to go. It’s a mild form of evangelizing, but not as bad as some, IMO.

    9. Cynical Lackey*

      She had a cross around her neck, so I am more than assuming she is a Christian. We are in Los Angeles, so this is more rare here than in the south. i have been in this restaurant maybe 6 or 10 times before and I never encountered this. I I think I will tell her it makes me uncomfortable if she does it again.

      1. GirlwithaPearl*

        I’m a little annoyed by folks responding by saying this is not an intentional thing christians do. It is.

        I’d respond with “blessed be” or something else that is from a different faith (even if it wasn’t mine) but sometimes I’m a petty jerk like that ;)

        1. Lissa*

          Why are you annoyed that not everyone’s had that experience? Until I read that I didn’t realise “have a blessed day” was specifically Christian. I live in a *very* secular area, and my associations with “blessed” are Wiccan, a la blessed be. I have heard *other* such phrases I’d specifically associate with Christianity, but I don’t think it’s something to be annoyed by that others weren’t aware. Now I’ll be listening for this one. :)

        2. Elizabeth West*

          It is intentional, but it’s not something you need to get in their face about unless they’re being really snarky or follow you out to your car or something. It’s kind of one of those pick-your-battle things. Personally, I’d rather put my energy into thwarting efforts by evangelicals to dictate what I can do with my own body than into getting upset about their slightly annoying blessed-day stuff.

          1. Gadfly*

            It just is hard to always let it pass because in many ways that is how they normalize themselves to where it makes sense to people that they can dictate what I do to my body. I wonder if they were called out more on the little things if they would make it as far/be so hard to fight with the big ones.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I doubt it, because their thing right now is that they feel persecuted *retch* and picking at them is only going to reinforce that. If you can get along with them the rest of the time, then your words will carry more weight when you have something important to say.

          2. Gilmore67*

            I agree with the pick your battle statement. There are just so many other things going on this really has to pale in comparison. (Unless she was in your face and was literally preaching )

            We (people in general) really have to stop and think about this idea of getting offended and/or reading into too many things that may or may not be there.

            Even if she said it to throw a little religious saying at you, who cares? Your life did not change because of it. Your day did not change because of it.

            You decided it was going to tick you off. People are not always going to say or do stuff you like. You can’t control their actions but you can control how you choose to deal with it. You can’t go complaining to people every time they say something you just don’t like. ( Again unless it is literally harming you, in your face, etc…..)

            If you choose to let it bother you that is on you.

      2. SCAnonibrarian*

        It actually might be better to see if you can send feedback to the hostess or dining room/server manager that one of the staff said a religiously-based goodbye and that you were taken aback, and ask if they could re-train or ask their staff to be more careful about remaining neutral for the benefit of their customers. Items you won’t have to directly confront the sever, and the host/hostess/manager will probably care about the impression the servers are leaving people with.

        And for everyone saying it’s no big deal, it IS often a micro-aggression, and until and unless you find nothing wrong with being met with “insh-Allah” or sent off with “namaste” or “blessed be” or “radical atheism is the only truth, man” then it’s wrong to insist that this particular verbiage is fine and we should just deal. It’s not, and while there are mostly not graceful times or ways to fight back, that doesn’t make the comment ‘fine’ it just means that I care more about being polite in public than I care about having been wished something actively offensive to me.

        1. fposte*

          I don’t have any problem being sent off with salaam or shalom or namaste, and “radical atheism is the only truth” isn’t equivalent because it’s not an expression of goodwill.

          1. SCAnonibrarian*

            My point is more that the people ‘blessed day’ing at me ARE likely to have issues with those others. And that speaks to their privilege that theirs is considered ‘neutral’ and the others are either foreign or weird or unpleasant.

            When you’re out in the world surrounded by strangers, but especially in a service position, you really ought to be as neutral as possible to people to avoid unintentional offense or the appearance of ‘pushing’ a particular viewpoint, right? I think so.

            To me, the server using that particular phrase means she either wasn’t thinking about people actually BEING non-Christian (i.e. she just assumes everyone is Christian because they’re nice inoffensive people in the world) OR she is trying in a small way to ‘spread the Word.’

            Neither of those thought processes produce appropriate professional behavior, and I’d argue they aren’t appropriate social behavior either, regardless of what religious or political or ideological bias is showing.

            And expecting someone to ‘out’ themselves as not a part of the dominant paradigm in order to counter casual bias doesn’t work well as a counter-action either, especially in places like the Deep South where there can be real social and employment repercussions from not being the ‘right sort’ of person.

            1. fposte*

              I’m not disagreeing that Christians are majoritarian as all get out and that I would prefer not to be faithed at, and I think mentioning the sendoff to the manager is a reasonable thing (and much better than being snotty to the person saying). I just don’t think your example worked or that the statement necessarily comes from the place you describe.

          2. neverjaunty*

            You might if you lived in a place where those other religious expressions were those of a dinnar faith hostile to yours.

            1. fposte*

              I am, and I also don’t think it’s true that I would respond differently to namaste based on where I am.

        2. chickabiddy*

          I would be absolutely fine with “blessed day,” “insh-Allah,” “namaste,” “good Shabbos,” “blessed be,” or any number of other closing thoughts. “Radical atheism is the only truth, man” has rather a different flavor as I read the others as primarily good wishes even if they reflect the speaker’s firmness in her faith that I may or may not share, but “the only truth” is nothing but proselytizing.

          1. chickabiddy*

            So, this is what happens when I load the thread, go do something else, and come back. Sorry; I did not mean to pile on.

      3. HannahS*

        Yeah. I’m really not a fan of that kind of thing. My rejoinder to the ubiquitous Christmas wishes is to reply that I don’t celebrate it but I hope they enjoy theirs. I guess you could say, “We’re not Christian, but we hope you have a nice day.”

    10. Gene*

      When I get this, I respond with either, “May He touch you with His Noodly Appendage.” or, since I’m ordained in the United Church of Bacon, “May the Lard be with you.” I’d they mishear what I said, no problem.

    11. StudentA*

      I am not Christian and never have been. I wouldn’t even blink if someone said this to me. And no, this is not a “Christian” phrase, and it can be applied to many other religions or lack of one. Christians being a majority in this country is irrelevant.

      If I were witness in a public place where someone made a complaint to the manager or gave a passive aggressive or sarcastic comeback, I would be very turned off. We seem to be living in a time where people think just because they were offended, the other party must be at fault. I am not fond of this trend. I don’t want to lose focus of the subject of the thread, but it’s a thought you can consider.

      To answer your question, there is no polite response that you “don’t have the intention of having a blessed day”. I think it’s fine to not answer though, if you can’t muster a “thanks”.

  31. Kay*

    Cat people: your help, please?

    (I grant you, this is as least as much a marriage problem as it is a cat problem, as you will see.)

    My husband came with a cat. I did not grow up with cats and frankly they kind of baffle me? He’s fluffy and occasionally sweet but I think my brain just does not interface with cats. (I’m a dogs-and-horses person.)

    I don’t care for the cat, except when I do, because my husband fits a certain model of adult male incompetence that I fully admit I enable and that his mother definitely did. We’ve lived together, with the cat, for about seven years now. I feel comfortable taking charge of the dog’s care – training her, taking her to the vet, monitoring her diet and overall health, etc. – but not so much the cat’s.

    Biggest regular problem: husband cleans the cat’s litter box every three weeks or so by simply dumping the whole thing into a trash bag and refilling it. No scrubbing of the box itself, just dump. It’s open and in the mudroom that we use to enter and exit the house, so I see it multiple times every day. Every time, the smell and the sight triggers a gag reflex. I have asked him many, many, many times to clean it more often – we have discussed and he has agreed to many different variations on schedules – I have bought him new litter boxes and new litter scoops when he said the previous ones were the reason he didn’t clean it. Currently he’s supposed to clean it on Saturdays. He frequently lies and says it’s on his schedule, or lies and says that he’s ordered more litter from Amazon and he’s just waiting for that to arrive.

    At the heart of his argument for why he doesn’t want to do it is because he says the cat is obviously totally fine with it as it is, so why should he change anything? This is an argument against which I have no defense, because I know nothing about cats. It’s true, the cat continues to use it; the cat is generally pretty healthy (at least, he was last time he went to the vet, when I took him 2.5 years ago because I had a crushing sense of guilt about him not having gone because I had a general sense of how to treat a pet, not a cat-specific knowledge of how frequently they should go); there isn’t really a clear and hard consequence to letting it sit for weeks at a time other than my gag reflex and frustration.

    So, cat people: is this normal? is this ok? what would your solution be? I feel like I’ve tried everything and maybe my next step should be just to find a way to hide it (and the smell, too, somehow?) and move on.

    My last-ditch ultimatum has been to say that absolutely and under no circumstances will we be getting another cat in the future if he can’t stick to our agreed-upon cleaning schedule. I’m not opposed to another cat – I don’t really dislike them, I just don’t get them – but when I think about a lifetime of litter box arguments I want to curl up into a ball and cry. That ultimatum has made no dent, so I guess I win?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Wait, is he not scooping it out (i.e., using the scoop to remove whatever has been deposited in it) in between dumping out the litter? If not, noooooo, that’s not normal. Really, he should be scooping it daily. In practice, with one cat who apparently isn’t bothered by this, he could probably get away with every other day or even every three days (although that’s really pushing it).

      But even though the cat isn’t bothered (seemingly), you’re bothered. Sorry if this is obvious, but have you tried saying, “This is really important to me, and I’m asking you to do it for that reason, because it’s something that impacts how comfortable I feel in our home”?

      1. Kay*

        No, he never scoops it in between dumping. He says it’s the way he always took care of his childhood cats and like I said, I have no frame of reference so I really wasn’t sure how normal it was. It didn’t feel normal, so thanks for the confirmation.

        I’ve tried phrasing it exactly what way many times, and he smiles and nods encouragingly and we agree to a new schedule (as I mentioned current one is to clean it on Saturdays) and then three more weeks go by and I mention it casually and he gets angry. It’s a fun cycle.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Can you talk about that then? As in, “Hey, I know we’ve talked about this a bunch and you have the best of intentions as we do, but the reality is that it ends up not happening. Given that we know that’s how it plays out, can we come up with a more realistic plan for how to approach this?” And maybe, “I need to be able to hash this out with you without you getting angry when I raise it, because otherwise I’m stuck with no solution and not being able to say anything about it.”

          1. Kay*

            I’ll try that phrasing, thank you. I feel like I’ve approached it every way possible but I think I need to sit him down and have a focused conversation about it, longer than we’ve had in the past.

            I’ve tried expressing many times that I don’t have a good way to bring up problems because no matter how I say things it seems to be wrong. I’ve gotten better over the years at reading the moment and the way I shape and frame things, but I still lack a good language for making things really clear.

            (I realize that the way I’ve typed that out makes the marriage sound abusive, and I promise it’s not – he has family history + broken brain stumbling blocks that I try to work around with compassion and patience.)

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Have you thought about couples counseling? Not for the litter box per se, but the broader pattern around communication and conflict resolution? Feeling like you lack a good language to resolve things is such a good reason to go.

            2. Natalie*

              I’ll second the recommendation for couples counseling. Family history and broken brain problems aren’t a pass for never listening to you when you bring up a problem because you didn’t hit the magic combination of words to say it right. Even when we have defensive responses because of how something was phrased, we can still deal with the issue that was brought up.

              My husband grew up in a pretty messed up family and came to our relationship with similar issues that initially made problem solving difficult. (Oddly, he also didn’t scoop his cats litter box as often as recommended. We’re lucky she’s not picky, and I traded litter box for a different chore so now I do it.) We’ve been in couples counseling on and of for about a year, and it’s been invaluable. In cas you’re concerned, most couples counseling is about practical solutions rather than deep psychoanalysis of your childhood or whatever.

              1. TL -*

                Yes. My person almost always gets defensive when I bring up issues with him – but then he generally changes his behavior (because I asked him to) or, on the rare occasion he doesn’t, when I bring it up again, he’s ready to have a real conversation about it.

                Even when I bring things up in the worst way possible, after the argument we manage to talk and find a resolution. It takes me longer than him to adjust my behavior (I’m just a bit slower but I do try until I succeed) but I take it better if he brings something up, so I figure it evens out, more or less.

                1. Natalie*

                  Exactly, everyone gets defensive sometimes, even people from really healthy backgrounds.

                  In a couples session a couple of weeks ago I said something that really hurt my husband – like, we didn’t really speak for a day or so. His hurt was totally understandable and I did chose my words especially terribly. And also, the problem I had brought up was also real. So that just means we had both things to work on, rather than just setting aside the original problem because of my blunder.

            3. neverjaunty*

              Family history plus broken brain is not the issue here. He’s being awful to you and not much better to the cat.

        2. Dizzy Steinway*

          He agrees to it and then gets angry?

          I’m sorry but that’s not very mature or respectful of him. Does he act like this about other stuff too?

          1. Kay*

            In short – yes. It’s not terribly mature, no. The reasons why are complicated, but frustrating to navigate around on a regular basis.

            1. TL -*

              I also think couples counseling would be good – but then I would also be saying that the cat needed to be rehomed if he wasn’t going to take care of it properly (which he isn’t.)

              It sounds like he’s really great at avoiding consequences and as long as there are no consequences he cares about, things aren’t going to change. Also, if you end up getting the litter reboot from below, I would suggest that comes from his fun money/slush pile, not yours.

        3. Episkey*

          You are SO lucky that cat continues to use a filthy box and doesn’t start peeing & pooping outside the box in protest.

          All I have to say on the matter is that if that started happening, the husband & the cat would both be finding another place to live.

        4. Gadfly*

          Is this also an outdoors cat? Because most cats would also be peeing elsewhere long before the three weeks was up, especially without scooping.

          We put a clipboard sheet up next to ours for a while because we had a lot going on and it would get overlooked (lots of –ugh, I’ll get that in the morning and then we had a dozen things to do in the morning sorts of situations). Like they have in many public bathrooms. Helped us keep track of when it was last done rather than rely on scattered memories.

        5. chickabiddy*

          “it’s the way he always took care of his childhood cats”

          Not that it’s okay in any way, but if he’s as old as I am, clumping/scoopable litter may not have existed when he was a child. Still, if he wants to dump instead of scoop, he could buy the cheaper clay litter and do it at least twice a week.

        1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

          Ours actually comes up and complains if her box isnt sparkling to her standards. Which means a two a day clean (she shares with her brother). Then she walks WITH you to the box and supervises your cleaning, gets in, digs to China, and has at it and wanders off with out even a thank you meow!

          Thankfully other half is a very responsible cat owner and we both keep on top of the litter box but yeah. I had a friend who was lazy about cleaning her cats litter box and so one of them just decided to urinate on the floor all the time in front of the box. That was not cool.

          1. Dizzy Steinway*

            Yes, ours does this too! He’ll claw your knees if you don’t comply immediately and then oversees your cleaning.

            Which is how come, while working as a journalist, I once did a phone interview with an important politician while holding a plastic bag full of cat poo my cat had insisted I scoop right then.

          2. mreasy*

            My cat has 2 boxes and they both get scooped 2x/day or punishment of meowing and doleful looks. It’s fine, everything’s fine.

      2. blackcat*

        Is the cat indoor/outdoor? If so, it’s likely doing it’s business outside a lot, mitigating the need to clean the litter box somewhat.

        But three weeks?! My cat would be pissing all over the house in protest, and he’s a highly tolerant cat (sometimes, I forget and it takes me 3 or 4 days between scoopings).

        1. Kay*

          Indoor cat only. He’s declawed. (He came that way as a rescue.)

          I think the more I hear about other people’s cats the more I realize I’m pretty lucky? He doesn’t pee or poop elsewhere, he just keeps filling up this box, or moving the litter around to sort-of bury it.

          1. blackcat*

            It’s even worse that the cat is declawed! For most declawed cats, digging and burying in litter box is at least somewhat painful.

            Yeah, this is totally not normal, and really, really bad for the cat.. If you can even remotely afford it, go buy a good self-cleaning box.

            1. Kay*

              I did not know that about declawed cats! I know many people have told me it’s bad for them, but I’d mostly been glad he came that way because he regularly acts like he wants to claw at furniture but he mostly just kneads it.

              Someone below suggested a self-cleaning box that works well that I will have to look into.

    2. Dizzy Steinway*

      Well, the cat may be fine but you’re not and that matters too! Though no, what he’s doing (or rather not doing) isn’t okay or hygienic.

      Our cat doesn’t use his tray much as he usually goes outside but when he does we tend to just scoop with a plastic bag over our hands. Leaving the crap there for three weeks is not normal or okay.

      I think you need more immediate consequences. I think I’d actually be handing him the scoop and insisting he does it NOW.

    3. Jessesgirl72*

      Even if it was just one week, I could see it, if the cat wasn’t bothered by it- assuming it’s a really huge litter box like we have, but THREE?

      No, it’s not normal, and your vet could tell him it’s also not healthy for the cat. Bacteria and fungus will grow there!

      Incidentally, it’s also not healthy for you.

      If you have money to spare to it, and don’t want to continue the fight, I can highly recommend a Litter Robot. They are NOT like the typical automatic litter box with a rake that takes more time to clean than just scooping the litter box. It’s a cylinder that rotates and drops the waste into a tray below the cylinder- and it’s sealed pretty well to contain the smell, as well as the sight. Then he would only have to go empty the bag that sits in the tray as it gets full. But it’s $450… (Used to be $350, but they’ve made the models more fancy and raised the price… Ugh!) Amazon also has some knock-offs for much less that you could try.

      1. Kay*

        I am…not sure the bacteria/fungus argument will sway him. I’m the one who cleans things because he insists he doesn’t ever notice if there’s a mess. When we were dating and he had his own apartment…it’s difficult to sum up how dirty things were. The only thing I have so far refused to budge on is the litter box. Everything else, I clean because I’m the only one who cares.

        I’ll look into the Litter Robot – that might be a solution. It might be out of the budget but if it works as advertised it might be worth it!

        1. Turtlewings*

          Just as a warning, some cats object to Litter Robots/Genies so stridently that they will stop using the litterbox at all. But yours sounds like he’s not very picky so he may very well not care.

          1. blackcat*

            My cat is not picky about a clean litter box, but he is scared of any device that moves or makes noise (he is terrified of the printer, for example). So it does depend on the cat’s temperament.

            1. Dizzy Steinway*

              Mine is terrified of Coke bottles because of the hiss when you open them. If you pick one up he freaks out.

          2. Jessesgirl72*

            Mine is terrified of everything- including my husband who has never spoken a harsh word to him and who has been around all the cats life- but he is not afraid of the litter robot. It doesn’t start until he’s well away from it.

            And Litter Robot will refund the money if your cat won’t use it.

        2. fposte*

          If you do try a change in the litterbox, I would recommend a careful introduction. It may not be your cat, but you’re the one who wants a success here, so it’s worth doing this a way that will maximize your chances. The Way of Cats blog has some helpful discussion of how she introduced the Litter Robot, for instance, and that might be worth following.

        3. neverjaunty*

          It’s so very easy to “not see” and “not care about” anything you know somebody else will handle for you.

        4. SeptemberGrrl*

          I’ll leave the relationship advice to others but I do know cats and to reiterate, you’re very lucky that this cat has adapted to using a dirty litter box. It’s not good for the cat though – she’s adjusted but it goes against her instincts and it’s unkind to allow this to continue for any longer. It’s not healthy and your cat doesn’t like it. She uses it because she has no choice other than using the rest of the house as a toilet. So real talk to commence, as an animal welfare advocate:

          – Someone who lives in this house needs to provide the cat with a clean litter box. If he won’t do it, then you can do or you can surrender the cat to a no-kill shelter but it’s not OK for this cat to continue to be treated this way.
          – You mention taking the cat to the vet 2 years ago because of a sense of guilt. (An adult cat should get a yearly checkup). That leads me to believe your husband doesn’t take an interest in the cat’s welfare in other ways aside from the litter box, which leads me to ask:
          – Do you guys love and want the cat? Does someone play with the cat, pet it, snuggle with it – and do so every day? I’m trying to figure out if your husband really does love and care for the cat.

          I don’t think a Litter Genie is the answer. It’s a band-aid on the problem, they have lots of downsides and no ‘real’ cat lady I know (and I know lots because I do lots of volunteer work in cat rescue) uses them. It sounds like you are using scoopable litter, right? In general, it’s not a good idea to change the litter situation too quickly – any change can throw them off, even if it’s going from bad to good. Try a transition period to get from where you are now to where you need to be. One idea:

          – Add a second litter box next to the current one. Use the same brand of litter and about the same amount.
          – Add a bit of the stinky litter from the current box to the new one (not a lot, just enough to carry the scent over so your cat feels familiar with it)
          – Leave both litter boxes there for a week or so, scooping the new box every other day.
          – See where you are at that point. If the cat is using the new box, get rid of the old one and start scooping it every day.

          I know this doesn’t take into account who is going to do this but my POV is that you guys needs to stop making this cat collateral damage and give her a healthy environment. I understand why you don’t want to be the one to do this but…it needs to happen for the cat’s welfare.

          Someone mentioned rehoming the cat and that’s an option too. I don’t know enough to about whether he is emotionally attached to the act and just lazy or if he doesn’t really care about the cat anymore. People do have a mistaken impression that cats need less attention/care than dogs but cats are social animals and they do want attention and love every day.

          I just want to say, I do understand the relationship part of this situation is very frustrating and why you felt you had to draw a line with him. I think it is important to understand though that this is not a nice situation for kitty….she really doesn’t like it :(

          Good luck.

        5. tigerStripes*

          A once a year vet visit is usually a good idea. I know your cat is indoor only, but depending on your state’s laws, it might be very important to make sure your cat is up-to-date on rabies shots – in some places, if your cat bites and breaks the skin, it is automatically quarantined (even for indoor only kitties) if you can’t prove the cat is up to date on rabies shots, and that can be very tough on a kitty.

          Could the vet be helpful in talking to your husband about proper cat care? Some people will pay more attention to a medical expert.

      2. Gadfly*

        I want a Litter Robot SOOO badly. I’ve told my husband it is going to be my graduation/get a new job gift to myself.

        You can still get the older models from some places, but it will depend on the size of the cats. Mine are big boys, so the most expensive one is my only choice.

        From using other automatic litter boxes and having friends with them, also know you do have to empty them as needed or it can become a disaster. I have HORROR stories about this…

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          The litter robot isn’t so bad. When the tray gets full, at least on the old model, it tends to set off the sensor, so it doesn’t rotate.

          1. Gadfly*

            So, not a Litter Robot, but a friend went on a trip and her brother was going to cat sit. He didn’t quite get the idea that you had to remove the tray when full. It stopped scooping, but the litter clumped into a giant rock around the tines of the rake and basically destroyed the machine.

            That is the sort of thing I’m afraid of too.

            1. Jessesgirl72*

              I had such problems with the rake kind- even when removing the tray before it was full, the litter was always getting stuck to the tines of the rake. I hated that thing so much!

              The nature of the litter robot, since it turns, is that the scenario described wouldn’t happen because there’s no way for the cat to continue to pee in one spot and create that giant cement block of clumped litter.

              The worst that happens with the litter robot (and yes, I’ve experienced this once. It’s not my job to empty the tray either, but…. ;) He’s normally good about it, though) is that the tray fills, the sensor that tells the box that a cat is in there gets triggered repeatedly and errors out because the sensor touches (pushed up from the bottom, rather than down from the top) and then when you notice and slide out the tray, bits scrape out and make a mild mess.

    4. Turtlewings*

      Holy crap (no pun intended), no, that is not normal! He should be scooping at least every other day, and he’s lucky as heck that the cat is unusually mellow about it — my late cat would start pooping on the floor if I didn’t scoop TWICE a day. Many, many cats are very picky about having a clean box and will make their preferences Extremely Clear.

      But regardless of the cat being okay with it, YOU are not okay with having animal feces sitting inside your house for weeks at a time. WHAT A STRANGE AND INEXPLICABLE WAY TO FEEL. In your place, I would absolutely be petty enough to start filling his shoes, car, or pillowcase with cat crap, but I guess that would *probably* not give you the moral high ground.

      The fact that he tells you he’ll clean it, then doesn’t, and lies about it, and gets defensive about it, indicates to me that he is an extremely immature and untrustworthy person who doesn’t care about your feelings. I mean, he may have other virtues but that is the objective description of his behavior.

      I wish I could tell you a way to make him grow up, but with petty revenge probably off the table, you might be better off telling him that you will now scoop the litterbox daily (if you can stand to — it won’t be so bad if it’s daily) and he will take care of X Chore That Used To Be Yours, and if he doesn’t like it, he and his cat can make other arrangements.

    5. Myrin*

      I think you’re probably spot-on in saying that this is a relationship problem, and I’d go so far as to say that it’s first and foremost a relationship problem. I’m saying that because people who behave like your husband don’t usually do that in just one situation but it’s actually part of a pattern that you can only really express through that one situation (in your case, the cat’s litterbox) but that actually features everywhere.

      Not taking your thoughts and feelings into consideration? Going back on his word? Not caring about your comfort? Not caring about the comfort of a pet he’s had for at least seven years and that is dependant on him? Outright lying?

      It could be that this is just one weirdly out-of-place blind spot he has in which case, other commenters have already covered how this is definitely not normal and not good for the cat (nevermind your sense of smell and optics). But I feel like you might need to look at this more broadly, how he behaves otherwise when it comes to what you ask of him or how you live together. Because I’m distinctly not a fan of the kind of logick that goes “Well, I’ve always done Thing that way which means that it was Right and which also means that it will forever be done that way and which also means that I don’t have to care about anything else other than that it will continue to happen this way and which lastly means that this ‘nostalgia’ is more important than actual real life right now and that the past needs to stay alive and well in the present!”.

      1. Myrin*

        Ah, shoot, I see that you’ve already addressed much of this upthread! I should have refreshed, sorry!

    6. Bad Candidate*

      I’ll add to the voices that say no, every three weeks is NOT OK. If he’ not even scooping between then, gross. I thought I was bad because sometimes I only scoop once a week. Just because the cat has been OK with it up to this point doesn’t mean it won’t change, especially as the cat gets older, it might get more finicky about its litter box. Mine did.

    7. LizB*

      Another option to suggest: I have a Luuup litter box, which lets you sift the litter rather than scooping, and I vastly prefer it to the old one that I had to scoop. I grew up with dogs, and for some reason scooping the litter box is way more gross to me than cleaning up after a dog. With the Luuup you just lift up the top tray, the clean litter sifts through, you dump the dirty stuff, re-stack the trays, and you’re done. If that would be easier for your husband to deal with, it could be something to look into.

    8. CatBoxCleaning*

      I don’t mean to pile on, but, going three weeks without scooping is definitely not usual practice and I am most surprised that this is acceptable to your cat, much less the humans living there. The only time I’ve seen something like this was with an indoor/ outdoor cat who very rarely used the box inside, and with a friend’s cat – said friend had a bit of a hoarding/housekeeping problem, and when he moved, he discovered that the cat had been going everywhere else – all around the basement, in the back of his deep closet, behind boxes of stuff…
      If your cat was using the box all the time, within a few days, there would be no unused litter to bury something in. So I suspect your cat is going other places.
      I’ll suggest what people often suggest when household chores are too much for the residents – hire help. A once a day cat sitter who just comes to scoop and refresh, and then changes all the litter in the box weekly, would probably do the trick. Another cat-behavior based idea: add another little box somewhere else. (The usual recommendation is for one more box than your number of cats.) That won’t help with the cleaning but it make the problem less concentrated in one place.
      If you ever get other cats, prepare for them not to tolerate this level of inattention to their needs. They will either demand you clean the box or they will go elsewhere.
      Do other people entering your home come through the mudroom with the litter box? If so, you might approach it with your husband on the grounds of having a welcoming entrance for guests… For some people, an appeal to what others’ might think may have some effect.

    9. KR*

      What AAM said and a few more reasons why it should be cleaned more often to maybe prompt him into action . … …
      The cat steps in that to do his business and tracks it all over the house so the cleaner the box is the cleaner your house is
      YOURE uncomfortable and feeling sick which means he should be more proactive
      You take care of all the dog stuff so he can clean the litter box. It’s not that hard.
      To most people who aren’t used to it (you, your guests, ect) the smell of cat waste is very unsettling and strong so he’s alienating visitors and you
      And it’s clearly an issue for you so he should just clean the damn cat box.

      Anyway, not normal at all. I know I says the cat doesn’t mind but cats are very clean animals naturally and it probably does mind
      Good luck

    10. Hrovitnir*

      I agree with all the replies above involving relationship stuff but I want to emphasise that there’s no way the cat doesn’t mind. Just because he isn’t peeing inappropriately doesn’t mean it’s not awful – can you imagine the overwhelming ammonia and the feeling of soaked litter on wee paws? This makes me very sad.

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, I was also thinking that. I think everyone of us has stuff and their lives that they loathe but have to do anyway because there’s no way around it. Just because you see us do it from the outside doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel terrible on the inside.

    11. Littlebottom*

      I really feel for you OP!

      We all have our flaws, that’s for sure, but part of living with someone else is caring enough to not make the other person suffer. Like I’m messy, but I make sure it doesn’t affect other people.

      I feel for the cat as well. Even when my floor was covered in clothes and books, I always made sure my cat’s litter box and feeding area was immaculate. Now that she’s blind (she’s 18, but still happy and purry), the place is spotless, because I care about her being able to navigate the apartment easily. Just like when having a human roommate (or wife), I’d care enough to clean so that it doesn’t affect them.

      None of this is ok. The litterbox sounds awful – I mean, cat pee and poop smells and it sounds horrid to just have that sitting in your house for weeks on end. For a frame of reference, daily scooping is best, every other day is alright. I’ve found silicone litter to be best at containing smells, but that’s largely a personal preference. The box should also be washed with hot water and soap or dish detergent about once a month or when it smells. This really isn’t that much work – it takes me about four minutes for the daily scoop or replacing the litter entirely when necessary and about once a month, some fifteen minutes to scrub it properly. I’m just putting this in context of how great a chore your husband is making this sound, when it’s really not.

      You’re asking in terms of an ultimatum for a future cat. But that seems to be a misdirection of the problem. First of all, the current cat could very well live for another ten years and I’m pretty sure you’re not okay dealing with the sight and smell for that long. But more importantly, this isn’t about the litterbox per se. It’s a larger pattern of behavior. I’m not that great with relationship advice, but I would second all of what has been recommended above in terms of communication. In terms of immediate quickfix advice, the type of litter you’re using could have some effect on the smell, but with the frequency you’re citing it won’t matter, because you basically have the poop sitting on top of it for weeks.

    12. AlaskaKT*

      I highly recommend a CatGenie. After the upfront price it costs about as much as a regular box for supplies, and it flushes right down your laundry grey water OR into a toilet bowl and you just flush it down. My husband HATES the smell of cat litter so he’d never let my cats on him (even though they liked him). He got me one of these for Christmas and suddenly found out he was a cat person! I took mine apart and cleaned it every 6 months, and I never had any problems with it.


    13. mreasy*

      Hi. I am going to take a hard line here and say that you should find a new home for the cat. Your taking over litter box duty is not a good solution, but given your husband’s failure to take responsibility for the healthy and safety of his wife or his pet, it’s the only one, other than rehoming, that will not prolong this cat’s suffering. And the cat is suffering, even if you don’t see it. This prolonged exposure to dirty litter can have serious health consequences for the cat down the line (various urinary stress symptoms that can lead to blockages, UTIs, kidney issues, and worse), as well as you and your husband (toxo?! & other bacteria/fungus in the air). Please don’t let the cat become collateral damage as you and your husband determine whether you can be compatible long-term, given what seems like his selfishness and lack of maturity (no judgment: I’ve been there with partners too). Don’t abandon the cat to the shelter, but please try to find it a new home ASAP.

    14. Belle di Vedremo*

      This sounds awful, all around.

      First, since you’re also the one taking care of the cat’s overall health, I suggest contacting the vet and asking about formal recommendations/requirements for cat safety and health, and your own, re the litter box. Perhaps they will refer you to a general veterinary care website to which you can refer as well/instead. I’m sure the vet will be appalled that the cat is having to live with this situation, and be able to tell you ways in which this negatively effects the cat’s health and wellbeing, and that of the humans who have to live with a filthy litterbox.

      The litterbox should be scooped every other day at the most. It should be scrubbed as part of changing the litter (dump it out, scrub it, refill).

      Assuming you have guests at times, does the smell come up in conversation? Do you have friends who no longer want to come over because of the stench?

      You don’t say how old the cat is, but it doesn’t deserve to live like this, and neither do you.

      You’ve said it’s a marriage problem and gotten lots of suggestions for couples counseling, but have you thought about individual counseling around the enabling, and accepting the lying as a resolution technique? And, a hard-ass question but, does he have your back? If so, why is it ok to treat you – and the poor cat – like this?

      Meantime, thank you for your kindness to the cat and please be kind to yourself, too.

  32. SophieChotek*

    What is the one movie that you react with horror, pity, and shock when your best friend/the random stranger on the street/your family member/your co-worker/really anyone, tells you they have never seen this movie?

    When you find out friend/co-worker/random stranger has never seen this movie, you have to resist the urge to drop everything and drag them over to the TV and start watching it. (Being your favorite movie, you don’t have worry about not having it. You own it. On VHS. And Laser disc. And DVD. And the special edition DVD. And Blu-ray. And the special edition Blu-ray.) You probably will have to give them a copy for their next birthday/holiday/just because, to fix the deficiency in their life.

    For me, it’s been The Sound of Music.

    (Close seconds are The King’s Speech, Pride & Prejudice BBC version with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, Persuasion BBC Version with Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds.)

    I’d love to hear yours!

    1. NotoriousMCG*

      When Harry Met Sally! I can’t tell you how many people I’ve recently become friends with who have never seen it!

      1. Emilia Bedelia*

        That was my first thought. My New Year’s resolution was to stop re-watching this, because I’ve seen it literally dozens of times. I only broke it once, in honor of Carrie Fisher.
        I still do quote it all the time- “Because of God”, said completely deadpan, is my favorite comeback.