weekend free-for-all – April 8-9, 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:  All Our Wrong Todays, by Elan Mastai. Tom Barren is the first person to travel back in time — where he promptly messes up history, which means that when he travels back to the present time, everything is different. In fact, it’s the world as we know it today, but for Tom, who comes from a techno-utopia, it’s primitive and barbaric. This book will blow your mind a little bit.

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

{ 1,365 comments… read them below }

    1. AMD*

      Oh my gosh, me too! I am addicted now. I hope Alison can guest on more episodes in the future – it also made me think how good an AAM podcast would be.

      1. Florida*

        Another vote for an AAM podcast. One thing I love about this blog is the comments. Once I listen to a podcast, I am never going to go online to leave a comment or read other comments. So I’d like the podcast in addition to the blog, not to replace it.

  1. Dizzy Steinway*

    My best friend is here and we’ve had a really fun afternoon at the local board game cafe but are now trapped indoors as there’s a GIANT SWARM OF BEES in my street!

      1. Dizzy Steinway*

        I think they’re just heading to a new colony or something. Seems to have passed now. We are in the countryside.

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          A friend of mine told me that she and her husband were in the kitchen one day, talking about something. She was facing the window, and his back to it. All of a sudden this horrified look came over her face and she pointed at the window. He turned around and saw what had freaked her out. There was a HUGE swarm of bees, all in a cluster, slowly moving along the back side of their house. They ended up setting up camp on the corner of their house, and they had to call a beekeeper to have it moved. When they told him what they’d seen, he said that bees do that when they’re moving the queen, and keep her in the middle of the swarm to protect her. It must have been a creepy thing to see.

          1. Bagpuss*

            It’s how they grow / reproduce .

            One queen will swarm, to start a new hive, and either there will be one left behind in the original hive or the bees left behind will raise one.

            Beekeepers will try to avoid it by doing an ‘artificial swarm’ – splitting the hive in two when it is strong and showing signs of preparing to swarm, and will also have ‘bait hives’ – providing a welcoming, empty hive in the hope that any swarm will take up residence there.

            Most beekeeping clubs etc will have people happy to collect swarms because free bees! (Bees are quite expensive to buy)

            Sadly I don’t get to play with bees anymore because I developed a serious allergy, and it’s not a relaxing hobby any more when it is trying to kill you, but they are fascinating.

      2. fposte*

        I love the idea that there’s some Dial-a-Beekeeper; “If the bees are in your house, please press one; if there are any allergies in the household, please press zero to speak to a beekeeper technician.”

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          My FIL had a big swarm of bees in a tree in his backyard, and he called the entomology department at the university. A professor and a grad student showed up within the hour in bee suits to collect the hive (and that was our excitement for the day).

          1. JaneB*

            I work in a uni – when we have bee swarms we ring the chemistry department, one of the profs is an amateur bee-keeper and always able to collect and find a home for swarms….

          2. studentsmuse*

            Only vaguely related: when my mom went through her mother’s possessions and found her great great grandfather’s notes from working on capitol hill right before the civil war (he was someone’s page or something, so it was said who was meeting with whom at what times and notes from those meetings), she called up a US history professor at the local university. More specifically, she called the university, got transferred to the history department, and then to the US history prof, because this was before Google.

            As with your bees, this professor showed up at our house with a grad student within the hour. They had all sorts questions about who this relative was (my mom barely knew of him) and what my mom knew about his time on capitol hill was like (my mom didn’t even knew he did that). Grad student and professor absconded with the notebook and returned with it 2 months later having taken high quality pictures of each page and small samples of the paper, ink, and binding.

            Apparently, the notebook formed the basis of that grad students’ dissertation. She sent us a copy of her dissertation and a thank you note six years later.

            It all seemed very odd at the time.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Some one needed a subject and the prof put two and two together. That is a pretty cool story. It’s great that your mom chose to share that piece of history with others. So many people horde what they have and it never sees the light of day.

            2. Bryce*

              Our grandpa had a couple of old fragile books about Jewish history that we were looking for a home for (one about Jews in Russia, the other about ones who fled the Inquisition and so became colonizers of the New World), and fortunately right at the same time as we were looking into this, an old family friend moved to town as a history professor. Serendipity.

              Books are tough for hoarding tendencies. Can’t just throw em out because they’re books, they often have enough of an emotional connection to hang onto, but they take up a lot of space. It feels like as much of an emotional effort as finding a new home for a pet. I’ve got one that I got as a birthday present almost 30 years ago, amazing book for an introduction to mechanics and engineering, that’s specifically on the wishlist of an orphanage some friends are going to be donating stuff to soon. Gonna take it back home with me on my next visitso the family has a chance to say goodbye or call dibs.

        2. Sidestep*

          The usually is, though, most every local bee club has a list of people who will come get the swarms and give them a good home. We do it!

    1. Mimmy*

      I’d be freaking out – I am TERRIFIED of bees, and I’m not even allergic! I see in your subsequent reply that they have moved on. Whew!

      1. SophieChotek*

        I would be freaked out too. (I have no idea if I am allergic…). [I’ve been told the test is almost as bad as being stung.] Second Mimmy – glad you are okay.

        1. Dizzy Steinway*

          Thanks! My friends down the road were particularly freaked as they were right by their front door. But it helped to remember that we really need bees!

      2. Melody Pond*

        When they are swarming is actually when they’re most easy-going and relaxed (and least likely to sting you). Honeybees aren’t super likely to sting anyway, unless you’re a threat to the hive and what the hive values (its babies and its food). And when they’re swarming, they have neither of those things – no babies to take care of/protect, and no food stores to guard.

    2. Cristina in England*

      There is always something new and terrifying to find out about in the world, isn’t there??

    3. Elizabeth West*

      There was a bee in the coffee shop today after meditation. Me and my friend just sat still and it eventually buzzed up toward the ceiling and didn’t come back.

    4. Coraggio*

      I sometimes drive on a country road that has a hand painted sign that says “bee swarms collected”

      I’ve also been outside during a bee swarm (& I’m allergic). I leapt into the work truck but was a total waste of time as every window was wide open (vineyard in the height of summer). Bees paid me no attention

    5. ginger ale for all*

      We had bees make their home in the outside wall of our home in the seventies. It took about two weeks to get someone to come out and get rid if them. Afterwards, we had cockroaches come out from that area of the wall into our house for decades. My parents sold the house ten years ago and I don’t know if they are still there or not. It was in Texas where the cockroaches are huge and you could count on several a day to come out. We tried so many things to get rid of them except tearing down that wall and rebuilding it.

  2. bassclefchick*

    I think it’s very appropriate that today’s Google Doodle celebrates Mary Pickford’s birthday. Today I get to go to the last silent film for the season! We’re going to see Steamboat Bill, Jr. with Buster Keaton. We’ve seen it before, but it’s very funny. And we just got the list of films for next season. Can’t wait for that! After the movie we’ll grab some dinner. Hopefully, our favorite diner won’t be too busy. We like to get their blind special – if we don’t ask what it is, we get it for half price.

    Hope everyone has a FANTASTIC weekend and gets to enjoy some warm, Spring weather!

    1. fposte*

      I love Buster Keaton. There’s something about the way Keegan-Michael Peele moves that reminds me of him, especially in the valet sketches.

    2. SeekingBetter*

      Sounds like a plan for great fun! Yes, indeed it’s nice to welcome the Spring weather!

  3. The Rat-Catcher*

    This may have been discussed last week, but I just finished Thirteen Reasons Why on Netflix, and wow.

    Trigger warning: rape/sexual assault

    I thought these scenes were extremely well-done – so well-done that the first one nearly made me ill. I love how they went after every victim-blaming and rape apologist trope that they possibly coublamIt hit the nail on the head in a terrifyingly accurate way, how prevalent and damaging sexual assault is in the lives of our teenage girls.

    1. Dizzy Steinway*

      I want to watch that but I’m worried about whether I’ll cope. (I tried to take my own life as a teenager, partly due to things you mentioned here.)

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I wonder if it would be easier for you to read the book first? I mean, it’s still dealing with the heavy themes, but I know for me, there are certain things I can read about easier than have visually presented.

        Either way, don’t push yourself <3

      2. The Rat-Catcher*

        Glad you are here today to be with us :)

        There are trigger warnings on the worst episodes. The last one, when the act occurs, is really graphic. I’m still processing that scene several days later. So, take care of yourself.

    2. Sugar of lead*

      I read the book when I was in high school and I remember getting chilled to the bone by those scenes. Maybe it was because I was the same age as Hannah at the time, and I realized it could just as easily happen to me.

    3. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I am in the middle of watching it now. I read the book a few years ago and thought it was incredible.

    4. Nic*

      I had not heard of it, but from the comments here I want to look into it. Thank you for mentioning!

  4. bassclefchick*

    The other thing I wanted to discuss – I know Alison does a “popular posts” thread at the end of the year. I also believe this year is the 10th anniversary of the blog (do correct me if I’m wrong about that).

    Based on the bird phobia post this week that had over 1,600 comments the last time I checked, I thought it would be interesting to find out which post got the most responses EVER (over the entire “life” of the blog, not just the current year). Not including the open threads, of course.

    So, I want to open it up (or maybe Alison has already done so?). What kind of roundup or interesting thing would you like to see for an “anniversary special”? Alison, if I’m overstepping, please feel free to delete this post. No disrespect intended, I just really enjoy this blog!

    1. AnotherAnon*

      I feel like it might be the bird post! It seems like readership and commenting has substantially increased over the last year or so, and I recall before that few posts (excluding open threads) surpassed the 1,000 comment mark.

      1. Sherm*

        The most commented (non-open thread) post of 2014 got 761 comments. Seems kind of quaint now!

        1. bassclefchick*

          That does seem quaint! It’s been really interesting seeing how the blog has grown since I’ve started reading it. I check it every day, but don’t always comment.

          OTOH, I really can’t remember how I found this blog (probably Googled some job hunting question, most likely cover letters) or how long I’ve been reading!!

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yeah, that still holds the title of most-commented (2,595) but I put more in category of an open thread because the whole point was for people to weigh in. But yes, the bird one is right behind it (2,233, and I just closed comments on it today). I didn’t see that coming at all (I originally put it in a five-answers post!).

        1. The IT Manager*

          Not to offend, but, Alison I think you need to work on your ability to guess which letters will generate tons of reader comments to avoid the open putting them on five-answers post.

          I think the next day’s gender-neutral pronoun also overwhelmed the short answers. I saw that one coming. When the LW’s are wrong but writing in for validation they tend to get a lot of responses and yeah, it becomes a pile on but the reader’s read and want to respond to the tone deafness or something.

          OTOH the bird one is in a category all it’s own … maybe it fits in with there’s clear moral answer or nobody wins.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I’m not offended! Part of publishing as much content every week as I do is that I make trade-offs in other areas; one of them is that I’m sometimes rushed and don’t spot the potential for that to happen. I’m more or less okay with that trade-off; while I’d like to avoid having one letter overwhelm the others, I don’t think it’s a disaster if it happens. (And sometimes that’s the only way I’m going to print a particular letter because it doesn’t feel standalone-post-worthy.)

            But I wouldn’t have printed the bird one at all if I could do it all over.

            1. Anon for This*

              That’s interesting, can you expand on that? I feel like it was a really unique letter.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                A bunch of reasons: the extreme amount of speculation being stated confidently as absolute fact, which drives me crazy even in small doses and this was massive doses of it … how often the discussion turned totally black and white without allowing for nuance or shades of grey … the really crappy treatment of people with mental health issues … and the idea that empathy is a zero-sum game, and we couldn’t give any to Jack without somehow taking from Liz.

                1. DArcy*

                  Or vice versa. Some people conversely seemed to believe that you couldn’t be sympathetic to Jack’s mental health issues without insisting that Liz had no right to be upset over her injury.

                2. Someone*

                  There were some people who saw it as a black and white issue, but a good amount of commenters DID fall into the middle. For future readers the post definitely has some food for thought.
                  Even if the assumptions made it a somewhat theoretical situation it was a very interesting question that certainly deserved discussion.

                  Besides, I know that in the past I defended one position but later – quite some time after the discussion – I realized that the other person had a point, and changed my mind. And I’m pretty sure this delayed change of mind happens to a lot of people.

                  So I like to think that despite the harsher comments the “this is a gray morale issue”-comments will have an effect on at least some of the differently-opinioned readers sooner or later.

                3. Lynly*

                  100% agree. Nuance does not seem like a strong point among a good deal of the commentariat here. Black and white, digital thinking rules. Have you ever thought about doing an “educational post” (for lack,of a better term), walking through a “case scenario” pointing out nuances, demonstrating a balanced and empathetic response to both “sides?” I mean really, a large amount of HR/management issues are not black and white and resolution doesn’t necessarily require finding a villain. Anyway, just food for thought. Maybe such a post could help raise the bar on comment content and quality. It’s a long shot, I know. Thanks!

                4. emma2*

                  I think what soured a lot of people’s perception of Jack is the OP’s statement “Jack didn’t do anything to help Liz.” If we took them at their word, Jack sounded really selfish and lacking in empathy. To be honest, I went off of that first impression a bit until I thought about it more and realized that this was a third-hand account, and the guy has a phobia which resulted in a shocking situation – he wasn’t going to react to the situation normally.

            2. emma2*

              If I published posts daily, I wouldn’t have the mental capacity to always foresee which letter will attract the most interest. Especially with the number of strange stories you must receive – if I frequently read crazy anecdotes, my sense of excitement would be significantly diluted. The bird phobia post largely became a discussion about mental illness, which is a hot topic.

          2. Glenn*

            Here’s my theory about the bird one: It’s getting a lot of answers because it’s a Rorschach test. That is, it’s a complex situation that doesn’t (and probably couldn’t) include enough details in the letter to clearly assign blame to one party or the other. So everybody reads their own experience into the letter, and you end up with people making different and contradictory assumptions about the facts, in order to fit the conclusions they want to reach, and so you end up with an argument nobody can win because people are reading different facts.

            1. Jillociraptor*

              That really resonates. The ambiguity (or the need to figure out how to meaningfully balance different competing needs) makes it a very interesting advice column question, and also probably a fairly open field for interpretations through our own various triggers and concerns.

              Very interesting theory!

              1. Casuan*

                I’m a fan of brainstorming; often the wildest idea I almost didn’t bother to note is the idea that morphs into a workable concept or solution.

                Alison’s replies to her OPs & the comments really help me to perceive situations from various angles. Even if I don’t agree, still I appreciate the paradigm. I tend to think a lot of AAM commenters think the same. It helps that Alison monitors what she can & commenters even monitor each other because she’s given us a relaxing place to hang out & share our thoughts.

              1. Glenn*

                Thank you! I love your blog, though I comment rarely. I’m relatively early in my career, and I feel like I’ve learned a lot from you!

            2. New Bee*

              What a great point. I also think lots of commenters have strong feelings about fair/rightness that were triggered by the post, hence the numerous subthreads on Jack being “punished” when that wasn’t on the table in the OP.

              I found myself an outlier on both that and the norovirus post, and while I don’t envy Alison having to mod more, I appreciate the opportunity to think about why I feel differently and what I can take away from other viewpoints.

            3. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

              You’re much kinder than me. I think people like to comment on posts where they can feel superior to the LW (or a character in the story a LW is sharing).

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      And yes, the 10-year anniversary is next month (which blows my mind — it does not seem like 10 years) and I have no idea how to mark it!

      1. Realistic*

        I’d love to see us celebrate in a helpful way, if possible. Perhaps a job-training-support program for clothes or books or computers that AAM folks could consider donating to “on your behalf”? A scholarship program for people returning to the workforce? I don’t know what it would look like in terms of supporting your mission and your values, Alison, I just know that I’d gladly kick in a few bucks to an established program that goes along with AAM’s general purpose. I know some of us (myself included) helped a commenter a year or two ago who needed clothes to start her new job. Many more people offered than she needed. I would be glad to help you find someplace, if you like this idea.

          1. Realistic*

            Two places that come to my mind, without doing research are Kiva (“Make a loan to an entrepreneur across the globe for as little as $25; Receive updates on your loans and see the dollars return to your Kiva account. Re-loan or withdraw.”) and Heifer International (“Heifer International is a charity organization working to end hunger and poverty around the world by providing livestock and training to struggling communities.”)

        1. fposte*

          Oh, I like that. If you find someplace with some decent presence that goes beyond the local, I would be really interested.

        2. Becca*

          Dress for Success comes to mind! It’s focused towards women, but I imagine there’s something similar for men too. This is such a wonderful idea, Realistic!!

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I’d like to see an open thread with people writing in just to say how your advice here has helped them in big or small ways.

        Lately we have been caught in some tough posts that had hard discussions following the posts. It would be nice to take a breather from that and have a day where we talk about what is right and what is good that is going on here.

        And no, it’s not an ego trip thing if you do this. Consider this way, you have all these friends and they only get together at your place. There is no other place these people can gather. So why not invite them over to talk about what they have gained in work/life by reading here. Those who wish can share personal stories to the degree they wish to share.

        1. Casuan*

          I emphatically concur with fposte!!

          My contribution to this is Alison selected one-to-a-few of her friends/colleagues/loyal subjects as guest contributors.
          Friends & colleagues don’t need criteria. Loyal subject criteria could be based on long-time followers or… it’s Alison’s blog so she gets to choose who she wants!
          And it’s Alison’s anniversary so she can post something herself. :-)

          :::there’s a fuzzy thought of Alison posting a cover letter to herself as to why she’d be a good candidate to start her own blog:::

        2. Sunflower*

          I agree- and if it does feel too ego trippy (which i don’t think it is) you could re-frame it into a ‘most helpful post/piece of advice found on the blog’

      3. Sabine the Very Mean*

        I would love it if you would offer a round of critiquing resumes! I know that doesn’t help you celebrate but I would love if you would look at my resume and would jump on a chance to put my name in for such an experience.

    3. Nic*

      I believe Alison mentioned in the comments somewhere recently that the bird one actually has the most comments ever. I certainly have noticed the comment count going up significantly over the last few years I’ve read here. I’m part of the reason, moving from lurker, and I’m sure there are many others.

      Going viral a few times will do that!

  5. Cruciatus*

    I just finished All Our Wrong Todays a couple of weeks ago. It was…OK. It was not the book I was expecting when I picked it up, though I did like parts of it (mainly the second half of the book). I was disappointed how much focus there was on romance (which I don’t always hate–it just was not what I expected and I guess I was hoping for something else). I also disliked how often the main character kept saying how he’s not a good writer and blah blah blah because it made me think a little too often about the actual author… Can’t say more without potentially spoiling it for others!

  6. LawCat*

    Does anyone have tips or recommended books for beginner car campers? We want to try camping this summer (like 3 days, 2 nights at a time). We recently acquired sleeping bags and a tent so we have those. We have camp chairs and a small cooler.

    We don’t have a clear idea of what we actually need. Like, do we really need to get a propane camp stove?

    1. Minerva McGonagall*

      RE: camp stove – for most things you can cook on a grill, or roast weiners over a fire if permitted. (do check the restrictions on open flames in advance).

      But for me the deciding question has always been this: do you want to be able to have coffee in the morning without leaving the camp site?

      1. LawCat*

        Ohhhh… coffee! We often drink cold coffee in the summer so we could just do overnight cold brew. The kiddo likes hot tea though so maybe we should get a camp stove.

    2. TL -*

      It depends – do you want hot food?
      All you really need is 3 days’ worth of food and water and adequate cover in clothing. Everything else is comfort. :)

    3. Kj*

      You may want a gas stove- camp sites don’t really have electricity and campfires, though fun, are very inefficient. You can do foil packet meals and hot dogs on the fire, but boiling water on a campfire is time consuming and if you want coffee in the AM, you’ll want a camp stove. You can get a propane one or a tiny backpacking stove.

      You’ll want to be sure to secure your cooler from critters- you can put it back in the car at night or have some sort of lock that raccoons can’t get. If you are camping where there are bears, just use the car.

      If you are camping where there are summer rains, consider a shelter for cooking. Cooking in the rain is pretty annoying. Eating in the rain too.

      Practice putting up your tent! Practice using the rainfly- rain in the tent is not fun!

      Think about where you are going to get campfire wood- and always check to see if there is a burn ban in effect where you are going.

      Don’t forget bug repellent and be careful of ticks. It pays to do tick checks daily if going in a tick-heavy area!

      Make sure you know what to do if you encounter hostile wildlife!

      Camping is fun, your first time you will learn all kinds of things that you didn’t know. Go visit an REI or outdoors store and talk to folks there who are familiar with your destination.

      1. Kj*

        Also, if you say the area where you are planning to camp (even just the state) we might be able to give you more specific info. I’ve camped in NM, AZ, TX, CO, WA, OR, MA, and CA.

          1. LawCat*

            Northern and Central California (can do mountains or coast) :-) Thanks for the tips!!

            1. LawCat*

              What are the tiny stoves? I have seen the Coleman ones that have two burners and they are bigger than what I would want. We live in an apartment so I don’t want to have to store more “stuff” than we have to.

              1. Tau*

                Not sure if Kj means these same ones, but you can get gas burners that will screw on top of gas canisters. They’re very small so really handy if you’re backpacking or cycling or the like, but they’re a lot more unstable than the ones that have been linked so you have to be careful with them. Generally when I’m using them I am always holding the pot steady with one of those metal pot holders. You also have to be careful about what type of canisters you get, as different types have different vents and your stove may only go with one type.

                Another variety of small camping stove is the Trangia brand (not sure if any other brands do anything similar), which are a lot more stable than the sits-on-the-gas-canister ones but which I’ve always found super awkward to light, adjust and extinguish.

                I’ll try to drop a link in another comment so you can see what I mean.

                1. Elkay*

                  I love my Trangia but I can see why people don’t like them, you can get gas Trangias (rather than meths or green heat) which I think is a good compromise, although they are expensive.

                2. AcademiaNut*

                  There are even lighter versions – the MSR WhisperLite International Backpacking Stove runs off of multiple types of fuel and is compatible with refill canisters, with the fuel off to the side of the burner rather than below. They’re a bit finicky to use, though, and handle smaller pots better than a larger stove, but are great if all you want to do is boil water.

                  I’ve seen one burner coleman types that take screw on fuel canisters – they’re popular where I live for hot pot, and are often used at restaurants. That would be more compact than those two burner deals. Google “Hot pot stove” and some images pop up.

                3. Nye*

                  Another consideration is that if you’re going to buy a camp stove, if you’re in CA you should buy one with a shut-off valve. (Rather than an alcohol or wood stove, etc.) While this year had been mercifully wet, in drought years many wild places in the West ban any fire source without a shut-off, so it would be a better choice for the future.

                1. ginger ale for all*

                  You can also check out camping equipment from various places. The university I work at does this. I think you can even check out canoes and kayaks.

            2. Kj*

              It may be pretty buggy- my summer CA trips were always filled with flying pests, so bug spray is really need. NorCal gets pretty cold at night- you’ll need lots of layers. Bears are a thing- you’ll need to take precautions- keep food locked up, don’t cook by the tent.

              As to small stoves, they make ones with tiny gas canisters. They are light and easy to use- I don’t like hauling around propane tanks.

            3. CAA*

              Just FYI – if you camp in the mountains in Northern CA and some parts of Central CA, you will have to keep your food and toiletries in a bear box which is provided at the campground. You can’t keep food in a car in bear country because they will smell it and peel open your vehicle as if it were a sardine can. The black bears we have in CA do not usually bother with people unless you get between a mama and her cubs, but they do like our food and garbage so parks are strict about keeping stuff where they can’t get at it.

              Some good places to camp in the areas you mentioned would be:
              – Calaveras Big Trees State Park
              – Lassen National Park
              – campgrounds around lakes Shasta, Trinity, Whiskeytown, Berryessa (added benefit, they actually all have water this year!)
              – Lava Beds National Monument
              – Yosemite National Park (may be too late to get reservations in the valley this summer)
              – Sequoia National Park
              – Pinnacles National Monument
              – Kirby Cove — here you wake up to a view of the sun rising under the Golden Gate bridge, amazing!
              – lots of campgrounds along the Mendocino County coast and points north, but I haven’t visited any of them

              1. blackcat*

                If it’s too late to get a Yosemite campground, there are a lot of nearby campgrounds in the surrounding wilderness areas (eg Hoover Wilderness). You can see most on reserveamerica dot com.

              2. Connie-Lynne*

                Hendy Woods up near Philo is beautiful for car camping. Added bonus, you can do a day trip into town for the Anderson Valley Brewing tour, or one of the three local champagne wineries!

            4. blackcat*

              For mountains, I do not recommend going above 5 or 6 thousand feet for a first trip. High elevations can make you sick, make it harder to do basic things like cook (water boils at a lower temp, so you need to cook things like pasta and rice for longer, have more unpredictable weather, and can be COLD even in summer.

              My husband didn’t believe me about that last one the first time I took him on a high Sierra camping trip (he’s an east coast eagle scout, and so I think it took it hard that I was telling him what to do). Our first night on the trail, he his water outside, after I had told him to bring it into the tent. It was mostly frozen in the morning. So when I say cold, I mean it can get below 25 F overnight, even if it’s pleasant and 75 during the day.

      2. Zathras*

        Expanding on the campfire wood part – get campfire wood as close as possible to where you will be camping, because moving campfire wood around can be a vector for invasive species bugs.

        +1 on practicing putting up your tent. Trying to figure out which parts go where for the first time in the dark when you are really hungry and tired is not fun.

        Cooking on a fire is harder than you might think, because you have less control over the temperature than you are used to, so I do recommend a stove. You can bring a bucket or plastic dish basin to wash dishes in.

        People have had some good suggestions for additional gear, so here’s one about the price point – when you’re just starting out it can be hard to know what gear you really need. With outdoor gear, after a certain point the more expensive stuff isn’t any more functional, it’s just lighter weight. For car camping weight’s not a big concern.

        I suggest headlamps if you don’t have them already, because it’s nice to be able to have both hands free at night. Get a simple one in the $30-$40 range that has the red night vision setting – it’s nice to use that if you have to get up to pee or something. (Headlamps are also useful at home when the power goes out, when you are trying to fix something in a dark corner, etc.)

        I would definitely get sleeping mats – their primary purpose is insulation, the cushioning is a secondary benefit. Even when it’s warm out the ground is a MASSIVE heat sink (literally), and you would be surprised how quickly you can get really cold. I have slept comfortably on the $25 foam type, but many people find the inflatable kind much more comfortable. REI usually has sample ones you can lay on to try them out.

        Most of all, have fun! Plan for riding out a little bit of bad weather, but also don’t be afraid to leave early and try again on a different weekend if you end up miserable in torrential downpours or something. It’s not about forcing yourself to endure suffering!

        1. StrikingFalcon*

          Also bring a well stocked first aid kit! You will hopefully never need it, but you want to have it if you do.

    4. Nancy B*

      I do not love camping, but we do it once in a while as a way to vacation on the cheap. I didn’t like the camp stove we borrowed from a friend, so I bought a GAS ONE GS-3000 Portable Gas Stove and liked it a lot better. It’s easy to use and comes in a nice carrying case. It’s just one burner, though, so if you think you’ll want to cook two things at once, it’s not the right thing for you.

      Link for GAS ONE stove on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BS4RP7S/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

      Consider sleeping mats. If you’re young and spry, you might be able to sleep right on the floor of your tent. I think a lot of people, however, prefer self-inflating mats or even air mattresses.

      Here’s an example of a self-inflating sleeping pad. There are lots of different ones out there, but Therm-a-rest is a good brand:

      When I first started camping with my husband and kids, I found lots of websites and blogs for people who either don’t really like camping or who are just inexperienced. I suggest searching Pinterest for ideas. I also went to a free lecture at a nearby REI for rookie campers. I highly recommend this if you have REI in your area.

      1. LawCat*

        Oh, that stove looks doable for us!! I have just seen the two burner ones, which I don’t want because of the size (we live in an apartment so storage is in issue). The single burner looks like it could be ideal! I had not seen that before!

        We live near an REI and I looked up their class schedule, but nothing coming up for rookie campers :-/

        1. ...& Vinegar...*

          Oh, lucky you to be near an REI store. Staff there will be very helpful.

          I’d go look around the store, and then start asking questions – what do they recommend and why? They’ll likely be delighted to help get your family started on camping.

          First time sleeping on the ground often isn’t much fun. You want padding between you and the ground as much for insulation as much as for protection from lumps and bumps that look negligible but feel ginormous. Inflatable pads might take up less storage space but won’t be as warm as a solid pad – but can double as a guest bed indoors.

          Dish tub: get something you can wash dishes in on site. Paper works for a lot, but pots and pans and serving utensils will need to be cleaned.

          Keep dry: footwear, raingear, rainflap on the tent. Dew in the morning can make for wet feet.

          Gas burner: a single burner option should be enough to get you started. Hot drinks in the morning and a warm meal if you’re cold make a big difference in overall comfort.

          Cooler: Yes to keeping it in the car when you’re not using it.

          Light: you want flashlights for walking around, and something to use in the tent for reading, etc.

          TP: bring your own roll just in case, and keep it in a resealable plastic bag.

          Have a great time!

    5. Ms Ida*

      If you have REI stores in your area they might have campouts. Here in Oregon they do campouts at state parks aimed at new campers they will have some organized activities like a hike and “Outdoor School” classes to learn more about camping. REI has pretty extensive lists online of supplies for different kinds of camping.
      Your local library probably has books too and you can get different ideas of what to bring. Try books for back
      Packing too. Just starting off it is better to work up to what you want instead of buying a ton stuff and finding out you never used it.

    6. Uncivil Engineer*

      I suggest a pad (or inflatable cushion) for under the sleeping bags. I am unable to sleep on the ground without one.

      1. Elkay*

        If you’re going in the car you can take a full inflatable mattress with a pump which plugs into your cigarette lighter.

    7. CAA*

      As others have said, if you don’t have a camp stove, you won’t be eating much hot food at your campsite. I mostly camp in California, where you are only supposed to burn firewood purchased at the campground (can’t collect wood in parks and bringing it from home introduces bad bugs to the forest); so if you only want to cook over fires, you end up spending a lot of money on wood and also spending a lot of time building fires.

      One thing I would recommend is not buying a lot of additional equipment until after you’ve camped some more and know what you really need. Around here, there are several places that will rent whatever gear you need for short trips. You can easily find them via Google or Yelp. I do agree that good sleeping pads are a must, so if you don’t have them, rent some.

      Another option for food is to bring cold breakfasts and lunches and go out to dinner. There’s no rule that says you have to stay in the campground. You have a car and unless you’re way out in the middle of nowhere, you can always drive to the nearest town and eat in a restaurant if you want to. Many of the National Parks have historic lodges with very nice restaurants.

    8. Yetanotherjennifer*

      Like everyone says, you don’t need a stove but you’ll appreciate having one. The weather doesn’t always cooperate with building a fire, and while hot breakfasts over the fire are nice, they take a long time. You’ll also appreciate having a cover for the picnic table. You can buy a pop-up cover or you can use a tarp and rope if you know you’ll have enough trees. Tarping a campsite is a fine art. If you’re really good and the trees cooperate you can tarp the tent as well as the picnic table and create this oasis of shade and dry on a rainy day.

      Camping is like moving into an empty house: you’ll need to bring everything. You can google for packing lists to make sure you don’t forget something essential. You can use stuff you already own for most of this, (that’s why you have the car) and if you like camping then you can buy more specialized stuff. It’s also great to have some type of containers to organize everything in your car because you’ll be keeping it all there and accessing it for each meal. Boxes, paper bags or plastic totes are fine, just make sure you have more containers than it takes to pack it all. You’ll also want to be aware of whatever critters frequent your campground and what you need to keep them away from your food. Extra trash bags or grocery bags are nice to have too.

      You can cook pretty much anything on a camp stove or over a fire, but half the fun of camping is camp food. Pinterest is a great resource for ideas. Plan to eat something cold for both the first meal after you arrive and the meal before you pack to go home.

      1. StrikingFalcon*

        If you do want to try cooking over the fire (and it’s fun to do, although I wouldn’t want to do it for every meal), keep in mind that you generally don’t cook over the fire itself, but the embers – they are hotter and more even in temperature. So you have to build a decent sized fire and wait for it to die down, which takes an hour or two. You can then cook by either placing wrapped foods under the coals (like baked potatoes wrapped in tin foil), or by placing a grate (like those in ovens) on two rocks/bricks over the coals. You could also use a Dutch oven (among the coals) – this is what they were designed for.

    9. Tau*

      So I grew up camping, although more backpacking-camping than car-camping (other kids got to go to Disneyland, my brother and I got dragged up and down mountains). As a result, some of my advice may not be completely relevant! All the same, thoughts:

      – As others have said, if you want anything hot you probably want some sort of gas stove. Making a campfire is not really something I’d see as a viable way of cooking, particularly not when it comes to e.g. boiling water. On that note, I’d recommend hot drinks, as…
      – Camping can be surprisingly cold even in the summer. (This bit may vary by climate – I’ve mainly gone camping in various parts of Europe and Washington/Oregon). Something hot to drink can really help if the temperature falls come night-time – think tea, hot chocolate, but also broth or instant soup. My family usually takes a variety of will-make-hot-water-tasty things with us when we’re camping. Also, bring a jacket and long trousers.
      – Air mattresses! I would honestly not even consider sleeping on the tent floor just in your sleeping bag as an option. If you have camping friends, you can maybe ask if you can borrow theirs if you don’t want to make the initial investment. I would absolutely not camp without these.
      – Your tent may come with a tarp (not sure if this is the right word) that goes on the ground under the tent in order to protect it. These are very handy, but if you use one and you are in a climate area where it can rain in the summer, make sure that every single part of it is completely covered by tent. If any of it is exposed and it rains in the night, the water will run onto the tarp and you’ll find your tent swimming come morning.
      – If your tent has a separate inner and outer tent and it gets cool at night, make absolutely certain that nothing in your tent is pushing the inner tent so it makes contact with the outer one. This is because of condensation; it’ll form on the outer tent during the night, but if the inner tent is touching it in any place the water will form inside the tent instead. It’s unpleasant.
      – My personal rule of thumb for camping is this: the instant you reach the camp site, you put up the tent. You may be tempted to delay, organise dinner first, explore, whatever – nope. Put up the tent first. The very last thing you want to happen is for it to get dark and for you to start getting cold and tired and the tent still needs to be put up. (A friend of mine says that in camping the #1 thing you have to watch out for is that you are never more than one of cold, hungry or tired at once. This is part of that.)

      1. Zathras*

        I like that “cold, hungry, tired” saying – I may steal that!

        Seriously if anyone tells you it’s OK to just sleep directly on the tent floor, they probably either A) have never done it or B) they did, and were miserable, and think that somehow makes the camping experience more authentic (it doesn’t).

        I have done it, exactly once, so please learn from my mistake! It was 15 years ago and I still remember how cold I was.

        1. Tau*

          I’ve totally stolen it myself! It really gets to the essentials.

          And just, seriously. I mean – as said, I’m used to more backpacking style camping, which tends to be rougher than car camping for obvious reasons. Showers are a luxury, you had to pare down your clothes to the point where you can only change your socks every three days, that kind of thing. And I would never, ever go camping without some sort of mattress. My parents, who still tell the story of the time they went on a week-long trek in Canada and a bear ate all their supplies and they were forced to continue hungry and beg food off the few people they encountered per day, would tell you the same.

          It can be a full-on air mattress that needs to be pumped, it can be one of the thinner self-inflating ones (which I use), it can even be the old foam plastic ones… but you need SOMETHING between you and the ground.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          I remember doing it in Girl Scouts and even though we were kids, OUCH. At camp, when they took us hiking and the tents got flooded and we slept in a 100-year-old barn, we took foam water slide pads along with us. They weren’t much, but SO much better than sleeping on the dirt. I’d have to have an air mattress now because I’m old, LOL.

        3. Sylvia*

          Yeah, even if you can sleep on a tent floor, you want something to lift your sleeping bag up in case rain leaks into the floor of your tent.

          I learned this one the hard way.

    10. Snorlax*

      As others have said, keep the cooler in the car overnight to keep it from the critters. From personal experience, I also caution you not to take any food into your tent – not even empty food wrapper trash. Nothing like waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of angry raccoons who appear to be fighting about which one of them gets to break into your tent to get the peanut-butter-granola-bar wrappers!

      We are lazy campers, so we don’t bring a stove. We pack our cooler with prepared foods from the deli (like seven-grain salads and lentil dishes that taste good cold). And we usually go into town for dinner one night while camping.

      1. Wheeze-Shaft*

        Please do not under any circumstances leave a cooler in a car overnight. Especially if you are camping in CA as the OP indicates they are. This is simply inviting wildlife to attempt to break in to your car and they’re good at it too! I’ve camped in Norther and Central CA my whole life and earned my Eagle Scout and don’t do this! Leave it in the bear box please!

        1. Snorlax*

          Good advice since you’re familiar with California camping! I totally can see why my cooler advice is only applicable to my area. Here in my midwestern state the raccoons are the biggest problem and they haven’t figured out how to break into my car yet. :). We don’t have bears here, so no bear boxes.

        2. CAA*

          We cross posted as I gave the same advice above. The coastal campgrounds I’m familiar with don’t have bears or bear boxes though. This is really only a problem in forested mountain areas, so you could avoid the issue by camping along the coast.

          1. DArcy*

            If you’re in an area with no bear boxes, you need to hang your food and all ‘smelly’ items well away from tents and/or cars. The typical way to do it is run a line between two trees (like a clothesline, but as high up as you can possibly reach), and then split your items between two equally weighted bags, tie the bags together, and hang them across the line in the middle.

            1. CAA*

              I would not recommend that for someone who’s just starting out with car camping though! Really, if you’re in an established park or campground, the rangers will tell you if you have to worry about bears.

            2. Connie-Lynne*

              This is not necessary if you’re not in an area with bears. If you’re in a bear area, there will be not only bear lockers but also GIGANTIC WARNING SIGNS everywhere. And the rangers will caution you on your way in.

              California takes bears seriously. You’ll know if it’s a problem where you are.

        3. blackcat*

          I have encountered a bear napping in a car (post breaking in and eating food) in CA.

          Bears are crafty. The experienced ones among them know how to bust the window and then unlock a door from the inside, and then open the door (much easier than ripping a door off). I have also heard of them doing the same with trunks (popping it from the inside).

          Do not underestimate california bears. No need to be afraid of them, but do not underestimate them.

    11. Falling Diphthong*

      Light. If there is the slightest chance that you will be setting up a tent after dark, one or two headlamps that leave your hands free and aim the light where you’re looking will be worth their weight in curse words. And some sort of ‘room light’ like a heavy square flashlight or battery powered lantern–it’s remarkable how fast “well it’s dark, must be really late, it’s… 7:45” sets in.

      1. Jules the First*

        If you have a headlamp and need a temporary lantern, just fill a clear waterbottle and strap your light over the bottom of the bottle so it shines through the water…voila, instant lantern!

        You’ll want something to store drinking water in at your campsite too, if you don’t already have it. As for gear, I know MEC in Canada will rent you most of what you need…I’d have thought REI would do the same (or be able to point you in the direction of someone who can?)?

    12. MT*

      I’m a big fan of the Knack: Make it Easy how-to series. Their book “Car Camping for Everyone” has been a good reference for my SO and I for spontaneous weekend trips!

      1. gingerblue*

        Thanks for this rec! I’ve been thinking of doing a lot more travel and camping too, and this thread has been really useful.

    13. Franzia Spritzer*

      I think you can skip the book and go to youtube or pinterest for lists of stuff you’ll need from the basics to glamping.

    14. Not So NewReader*

      Do a dry run first. Maybe even camp in your own backyard. Bring everything you think you will need and see how it goes. A friend of mine did this and found it very helpful.

      1. StrikingFalcon*

        Ooh this is great advice. You will always find something you forgot to consider your first time around.

    15. Jessica*

      Specific campground recommendation: Princess in the Sequioa National Forest. It’s our favorite, and we go back year after year, because it’s spacious, well-shaded, and close to lots of fun stuff (easy drive to Hume Lake for swimming, down to all the gorgeousness that is King’s Canyon, and to the amazing trees in Grant’s Grove).

      There’s lots of good advice here already, but some smaller things that help make camping pleasant:
      -clothesline and clothes pins. It’s nice to be able to hang up towels, swimsuits, dish rags, etc.
      -welding gloves, if you’ll be doing a lot of fire cooking. They’re just nice to have. (Totally optional, though.)
      -a dishtub, so dishes are easy to do at your site. (Or paper plates – really!)
      -enough trashbags. You’ll be glad you have them. (Nice for sticking the dirty clothes in, too!)
      -a water jug/container that holds at least a gallon or two. It’ll save you from walking back and forth between your site and the faucet every time you’re thirsty or need to wash your hands.
      -a hammock!
      -nice folding chairs, if you can afford them. Good for sitting and reading in, while enjoying all the pretty around you.
      -books! I love reading while I camp. Books + gorgeous scenery + a good cup of coffee? It’s about the happiest I am all year round. :)

      1. Jessica*

        I really should have added: most of what I listed aren’t even close to necessities. But if you’re going to be there awhile and you’re going to relax, they are things we’ve found make the experience more fun. I hope you have a great time!

    16. Elizabeth West*

      What a fun question. I haven’t been camping in ages, since I don’t go alone. I’m bookmarking this for future reference–when I find someone to camp with. :)

    17. Jessesgirl72*

      I love my camp stove, and personally wouldn’t camp without it. It’s a consistent and fast way to cook your food- in a way that a grill or campfire is not. When you get to your campsite late after work, and it takes awhile to set up a tent, and you’re starving and just want to heat something and be done with it, you will think every penny spent on that camp stove was worth it.

      One trick we learned by accident when my husband was trying to keep warm, is that moving blankets (of the cheap kind you can get at home improvement stores, but the thick kind actual movers use and sometimes leave one behind is best) put down inside the tent makes a huge difference in keeping condensation from building up inside the tent- a bone dry floor is such a luxury. And if things turn cold, they are really insulating.

      My other main tip is to not take your first trip on a holiday weekend. In fact, depending on the state/area, I’d suggest avoiding holiday weekends like the plague.

      I also suggest a good lamp/flashlight combo. And obviously you need marshmallow sticks. ;)

  7. AnotherAnon*

    What are everyone’s thoughts on using a real estate agent to sell your home vs. going to the for-sale-by-owner route? I’m meeting with a real estate agent later today for a no-charge certified market analysis to get an idea of what I should be listing my home for. I’m comfortable doing the legwork and hiring experts for the legal work, but my biggest hangup with the idea of for-sale-by-owner as a person who lives alone is opening up my home to strangers (mostly those who come without a buyer’s realtor to supervise) and hoping they don’t have bad intentions (which I realize is something real estate agents face all the time!).

    1. the gold digger*

      I have sold one house. I used a realtor because I did not want to deal with showing the house. My realtor told me what I needed to do to make the house more appealing (not much, because I had already done a lot of painting and minor repairs), suggested a price to me ($40K more than I paid for the house eight years before and $5K below the price of the similar house next door, which had been on the market for months), and had two full-price offers in hand in three days. She handled all the paperwork except what the lawyer needed to do. She was definitely worth the money.

    2. Victoria, Please*

      We tried to sell by owner and got exactly nowhere. Engaged a realtor and sold the house for more than we thought we could and she did all the work! I would recommend finding a good realtor; this is a really tough job to DIY.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      I don’t blame you for not wanting strangers in your house while living alone. I’m guessing you would be scheduling appointments, so do you have anyone close by that can come over and be in the house with you? Maybe schedule appointments back-to-back on a Saturday morning (or whatever works for you), so that the person who stays with you doesn’t have to make multiple trips in a day.

      Selling without a realtor seems so daunting to me. I’d be interested to read the answers on this one, as we thought about this, too. Not the current house, but the rental. We’d love to unload it–even though we have a PAYING renter–; however, we’re already underwater on it and I would hate to have to pay a realtor’s commission on top of that. As it is, we’d have to take some sort of loan to bridge the gap between whatever we can get for it and what we owe with the first and second mortgages. Although with my dad recently passing and us having to sell his house, which has only 10,000.00 left on the mortgage, it’s possible my cut of the profit could take care of that. I really hoping so!

    4. MaybeTomorrow*

      Research realtors. We just “fired” ours because he did zero to sell our house. He told us to list it at one price, then immediately started pushing to drop the price by a significant amount. He basically lied about what to list it at so we would sign a contract with him.
      He didnt do a broker open house. He did one open house that he didnt advertise, so two people came.
      He was always gone out of town, so never around to really do much. He doesnt have a good relationship with other brokers, which WILL bite you in the ass because they wont suggest your home to their buyers. We found that out the hard way.

      Just make sure you ask around, from people you know have sold a house. Talk to other realtors at different companies and ask about their working relationships with each other. Good luck.

      1. the gold digger*

        Oh yeah. A good realtor is key! Primo hired a realtor to sell his mom and dad’s house. (We live on the other side of the country from them.) He decided to go with the new guy to give him a chance.

        Do not do this. Do not give someone a chance. Find someone with a ton of experience and a lot of recommendations.

        The guy Primo hired didn’t tell Primo about work the buyers wanted done. He just did it himself, but when the buyers wanted proof, he did not have invoices to show. (And the estate would have paid for the repairs! It was not an issue of money.)

        He was almost never available – when there were crises (is that the plural?), Primo had to deal with them long distance. For instance, the house closed on Christmas Eve. The buyers had said they would take some of the furniture that was in the house when the looked at it, but then they decided at the last minute they didn’t want it. The realtor said he would get rid of the furniture, which was fine – the estate will pay!

        But all he did was put it on the curb. Sofa, chairs, other big things.

        On the curb.

        In front of the neighbors’ house.

        The neighbors who called Primo on Christmas day to complain.

        Do not give the new guy a chance. Hire someone with rock-solid credentials.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Following on this, read that contract carefully–make sure it’s not spelling out that if you wind up in the above situation you *can’t* fire them and hire someone else.

      3. Nic*

        My current roommate ran into this trying to sell his last house. They fired the original realtor after he had suggested they drop the price SEVERAL times equaling a good 20% price drop total. He later found out that this particular realtor had a connection to someone who flips houses, and may have been trying to get it to an appropriate level to sell to that person.

        The new realtor was able to get the house sold for more than they had already dropped the price to, and within just a couple of weeks. They’d had the other realtor for months.

    5. what can it hurt?*

      The buyer of our last house did not have a realtor, and she was a real piece of work. Our realtor was worth every penny because she ended up running interference. The buyer would email any time a question popped into her head, and I think our realtor was getting 2-3 emails from her a day, for weeks. The realtor would talk the buyer down from really weird requests (wanting us to repaint the inside of the dining room to her preferred color), explain why some things weren’t really possible, and only came to us when needed (the exact date of our roof, for example.) I think we were all shocked when the closing actually happened, and our realtor retired shortly thereafter. We wonder if our buyer was the nail in the coffin for her.

    6. super anon*

      My partner is a realtor so I am probably biased, but I say always use a realtor. The biggest reason why is that if anything goes wrong with the property after/the deal, your realtor will deal with it for you. It’s also a lot easier to have your realtor coordinate showings and field calls from interested realtors and clients, as they will call at all hours of the day and if you’re working a regular 9-5 that can be very frustrating to deal with. I especially will never understand why buyers don’t use realtors, because where we live buyers pay no commission, so it really isn’t in your best interest as a buyer not to use one.

      Example: One of my partner’s clients bought a home in a pretty standard purchase. A few months later there was an issue in one of the closets, and when the client brought in someone to fix it it was discovered that a false wall had been built in the closet to conceal another wall slightly behind it that was covered in black mold. The false wall had been so well constructed to conceal the mold wall that the property inspector missed it in the inspection.

      In every real estate transaction you have to fill out a property disclosure statement, where you list anything wrong with the property and any renovations that have been made, and this had not been disclosed. Because the buyer had used a realtor she contacted my partner and he took over getting the issue dealt with. He contacted the other agent and did everything in terms of leg work for getting the issue resolved for his buyer. He also had the power of the brokerage behind him as well, meaning he could consult with his broker manager on what to do, what legal options there were, etc to get the matter settled. In the end, it turned out that the false wall had been constructed by a different owner, and it took several months to get the case resolved. Without a realtor to help it probably would have taken much longer to get resolved, if it ever did.

      It’s rare that things happen, but I would always use a realtor. However, I’ve never been much of a do it yourself person to begin with.

      Note: I’m in Canada, things may be different in the States.

      1. MoodyMoody*

        Seconding super anon (cool superhero name, by the way). When my parents bought their house, they assumed the first mortgage, and the seller paid off the second. However, my folks had no idea about mortgages #3 and #4. When collection agents started showing up in person, they contacted their realtor and the lawyer who had handled the sale. The sellers’ bank accounts had liens slapped on them, and they were unable to make payroll. Those third and fourth mortgages got paid in a hurry! Pay the realtor; he or she is worth the money.

        Why yes, those sellers were pieces of work; why do you ask? They paid their workers under the table with cash, they were too cheap to pay for garbage collection and left all their trash in sheds in the back, and worst of all, they kept foster children solely for the checks. The neighbors were happy to see them go and us come!

      2. Anon A Mousse*

        “The biggest reason why is that if anything goes wrong with the property after/the deal, your realtor will deal with it for you. ”

        I recently sold a house and this has been important. Somehow the new owners missed that the ‘dropped ceiling” in the basement was partially fallen (previous owner had put it up with bread ties–we used it for storage and hadn’t fixed it–was empty when they saw it however.) I put it on the disclosure. They called and yelled at our agent for a while about that and he was able to tell them they missed their chance, we did everything right. Selling by ourselves? I would have been less certain.

    7. Florida*

      Do you go to the doctor when you are sick or do you trust yourself to diagnose it? If you were on trial for a crime, would you represent yourself or would you hire an attorney?

      Selling a home is something that you will only do a few times in your lifetime. There is a good chance that your home is your largest asset. Is it really worth doing it yourself to save a few thousand dollars? Or would you rather have the advice of someone who does it several times a month?

      The only reason people don’t use a real estate agent is because they don’t want to pay a commission. You will make more money by hiring a professional and paying the commission than you will by trying to do it yourself. (This is true in many things, not just real estate.)

      I am not a real estate agent, but I teach Florida real estate law, and I know how many things can go wrong in a real estate transaction. Please hire a professional.

      1. AnotherAnon*

        Florida, I respectfully disagree. I’ve read several books on home selling and buying written by realtors and laypeople alike. Even with a FSBO, you most likely will be paying a 3% commission to your buyer’s agent and several thousand dollars to hire a lawyer, photographer, stager, put the listing on MLS, etc. that a seller’s realtor would bring on their end. In many areas (not mine, unfortunately) there’s a service called Redfin, which from I understand is a concierge that allows you to purchase some of the realtor services for a fixed commission lower than 3% (the standard seller’s realtor’s commission). The services that are more widely accessible (owners.com) don’t seem as reputable. It DOES seem like there is a public perception that a FSBO seller is trying to sell their home for more than it’s worth or otherwise doesn’t know what they’re doing, and many buyers/realtors seem to steer clear of those listing for that reason.

        And for what it’s worth, I am a physician. Having years of training in human health and disease gives me the expertise to figure out with pretty good accuracy if whatever illness I have requires professional help/treatment or not. If it does require treatment, I seek help from another health care provider, not myself, because I understand I can’t be fully objective with myself. Overall, I’ve a very independent, DIY-type person, but I make sure to put the proper safeguards in place (investing time to educate myself on the topic thoroughly, seeking advice from professionals) to make sure I’m not putting myself or others at liability.

        1. Florida*

          If you are selling FSBO but are paying the other real estate agent’s commission, you are doing something wrong. Realtors split commissions with other Realtors because that’s the agreement they have. That is very different than you paying a real estate agent that someone else hired.
          Good luck with your sale.

          1. Anon A Mousse*

            Often even FSBO sellers pay the other agent–otherwise the other agent isn’t going to work with their house (because they won’t be paid and will still have to do a lot of paperwork.)

            1. RussianTea14*

              This is true. We did a FSBO last year and we had to offer the buying agent a commission (1.5-2%); otherwise, the buying agents werent willing to show our house.

              We are getting ready to sell/buy again and we are using a realtor for both. We did the math and it was going to be about the same cost (realtor vs. costs of lawyer, etc to sell ourselves). The trick is to find a great realtor who will work for you. I made it clear to our realtor that I expected her to WORK. She also didnt ask us to sign a contract so we wouldnt be stuck if for some reason we wanted to go in a different direction.

              1. Florida*

                If your Realtor refused to show your house to their client because it was FSBO, that is a violation of the NAR Code of Ethics. In my state, it’s against the law. In all states, it is a violation of the NAR Code of Ethics. If you aren’t willing to pay part of the commission, the buyer (who has an agreement with the Realtor) has to pay all of it. The Realtor has to show the house regardless of your decision. (Note that not all real estate agents are Realtors and not bound by the code of ethics, but the VAST majority of residential one are members of the Association of Realtors.)

                1. Anon A Mousse*

                  Often explaining to the buyers they’ll be paying if the seller refuses is enough to put them off of working with FSBO’s not willing to pay.

                2. Florida*

                  That’s true. A Realtor can explain that to the buyer because it’s a fact. But then the choice is on the buyer, just like a buyer refuses to see house above a certain price threshold or without certain criteria.
                  But a Realtor cannot refuse to show the house because it is a FSBO (which it how it was described originally).

                3. Florida*

                  I pressed submit too soon, so an addendum…
                  This goes back to my first post that you will make more money by hiring a pro. If you sell FSBO, you have to price it at a point that buyers are willing to pay a commission and willing to deal with someone who is probably less knowledgeable about selling homes than a Realtor. That’s a low price.

            2. Florida*

              When the buyer hires a Realtor, they agree to pay the Realtor a commission or CAUSE the Realtor to be paid a commission. The Realtor will get paid without the FSBO paying them because the buyer agreed to that. But Mr. FSBO is depending on the expert advice of the buying agent who has the buyer’s best interest in mind, so Mr. FSBO pays a fee that the buyer should be paying. That is why you need an expert representing you. If the buyer hires the Realtor, there are times (it’s rare) where the buyer has to pay the commission.
              I understand that you think you have the expertise because you have read several books on home selling. I live this stuff everyday. I am not an active Realtor (meaning I don’t sell residential houses right now), but I have a real estate broker’s license in one state and a real estate instructor’s license in two states. I teach real estate agents how to do their jobs, how to make the most money (which might mean convincing Mr. FSBO that he needs to pay me a commission). What you are saying is incorrect. It might be the way you have seen it happen in some cases, but that is because one party has significantly more knowledge than the other.
              This is my final comment on this topic, so I hope you the best in your FSBO sale.

              1. the gold digger*

                Man, was my husband’s father – who had a PhD from Michigan and thought he was the smartest guy in the room – ticked when the broker he hired to sell Primo’s brother’s restaurant (the one Sly and Doris invested $250K in) had to be paid the commission even though Sly found the buyer.

                I asked Primo, “Did your dad even read the contract before he signed it?”

        2. neverjaunty*

          …you know those people who insist they know more than you, the doctor, about a medical issue, because they read a bunch of books or looked things up on the internet?

      2. Book Lover*

        I don’t necessarily disagree with using a realtor, but it isn’t just a few thousand dollars. 6% on 400k is 24K….

    8. The IT Manager*

      I have bought and sold 3 houses and I always use realtors. Frankly even with a realtor I might avoid for sale by owner because I don’t want to deal with a non-professional.

    9. Yetanotherjennifer*

      We bought both our houses FSBO and both times we used a realtor to represent us. We used that same realtor to sell a house. It’s just so helpful having a real estate professional helping you through the process. If you do it yourself you will be sacrificing a lot of your time to maybe save a little money.

      Is it possible to stage your house to imply other people live there? I could see it being a tough sell if the only bed in the house is a twin, but otherwise some toiletries and other props could be used to create the impression of other people living in the house. Borrow clothes from someone to hang in your closet, coat and shoes by the door, a stack of books on the other night table…it could be a fun illusion to create.

    10. Stardust*

      We sold using a flat fee MLS. It worked great! They took the pictures of our home, put it online and creates an ad, put a lock box on our door and a For Sale sign in our yard. I think we got a few tips on staging our home too. There was no commission to pay. When buyers wanted to look they got a code to unlock the box which had a key to get in and the buyers and buyer’s realtors could tour. (If a buyer didn’t have their own real estate agent we would have had to show it though, but it didn’t happen in our case). We had an offer within 2 days of putting our home in the market. My husband handled the paperwork since he had taken classes for becoming a Real Estate but when the market went down, stayed in his job instead of going into real estate. However the MLS flat fee service did also offer additional added on services of the paperwork side if we had wanted to have them do that too. Until the part that needed to be handled by title insurance agency (in some states it’s done through lawyers instead). I’d recommend looking if your region has a flat fee service/broker.

      So not exactly hiring a real estate agent but definitely didn’t do for sale by owner either.

      1. AnotherAnon*

        Can you share which flat fee service you’ve used? I’ve heard Redfin has excellent reviews, but that’s one that’s not available in my area.

      2. Anon A Mousse*

        I don’t know if there are any others out there, but OldJob thought becoming a brokerage* was a natural extension of being a newspaper/other publications printer and advertising co and did full service flat rates (I think there were a couple of tiers). So you might want to even see if something like that is available–I’m doubtful they came up with it on their own.

        *The next natural move was ticket sales followed by a new Comic Con (there was some event planning already) and they were working on adding in content marketing and SEO when I left. Have I mentioned they were both wonderfully crazy and dysfunctional?

    11. Cookie D'oh*

      We’ve sold one house and used a realtor. We were in the process of doing a new build at the same time so it would have been difficult and stressful to do both at the same time. Regardless, I would always use a realtor to sell. I know nothing about real estate and it was helpful to have an advocate throughout the process.

      For showings, we would get a call from an automated system with the date and time. There was a small lock box on the door with our key and the showing agent had the code to get out the key. I definitely felt more comfortable knowing there was another person there with the prospective buyers.

    12. Casuan*

      It’s like changing the oil in my car: I could do so myself although I’d rather pay someone else to do it for me because I think the job would get much messier than I’d expect.

      With one exception, the few people I’ve known who have tried to sell on their own [&or with a service to help] all ended up with realtors. The exception has said she would never go alone again because it was too much hassle.
      As other have said, you should research & interview a few realtors before signing with one.

    13. Jessesgirl72*

      It really depends on your area, but generally speaking, real estate is one of those areas where real estate agents really only want to deal with other real estate agents, and some won’t even take their clients to places that are FSBO.

      And honestly, for good reason. We bought our house essentially FSBO, so our agent really ended up being the agent for both sides- he had to explain the law to the sellers, and things like if they gave us money for closing costs, they didn’t have to bring cash- it was deducted from the sale, etc. He did almost twice the amount of work, and only got the commission from our side.

    14. Kit*

      I would say that a realtor is more useful than you might expect, but a pricey realtor is not more useful than a cheap one. In my area there is a firm that charges a very low flat fee to list your house and coordinate with buyers agents for viewings, and another flat fee at sale. If you can find a similarly barebones firm I recommend it.

    15. Clever Name*

      Frankly, I can’t imagine selling a house without one. We’ve sold 2 houses, and our agents made everything so easy for us so we could focus on keeping the house show ready. How do you plan on making arrangements to show your place? Will someone be available to open the house for showings or will you have a lockbox? Will you be listing on the MLS or just putting up signs around town and crossing your fingers? How much would a real estate attorney cost? There’s a reason why real estate agents are licensed and have to take a long and difficult test.

  8. NC Bound*

    Anyone have experience with the Raleigh/Durham area in North Carolina? I’m moving there soon! Looking to go into copywriting and/or higher ed, and the boyfriend is a nurse looking to work and go to grad school. But any random tips would be great! We’re from Pennsylvania.

    1. ms42*

      I love that area so much and regret ever moving away from it; I’m planning to move back once I get a couple of other parts of my life in order. Great arts and sports scenes, fantastic universities. Raleigh and Durham are culturally a bit different, but it’s also really easy to get between them/their suburbs (I technically lived in Cary, though right on the border with Raleigh).

      It’s been a few years since I moved away, but if you have specific questions, I’m happy to try my hand at answering.

    2. Jillociraptor*

      I’ve visited there a whole bunch of times and it is in my top five places I would like to move one day. It sounds like a good place for both of your interests, with all of the universities nearby. Not sure what part of PA you’re coming from, but if you’re in any kind of city, you might be surprised by how much driving it takes to get around the area. It reminded me of where I grew up in a rural area in the midwest than the other more mid-size cities I’ve lived in.

      There is so much interesting history in the area. Spend some time learning about Black Wall Street (there’s a documentary called “Lessons of Hayti” that’s pretty good) and the Wilmington massacre/coup (great documentary called “Wilmington on Fire”) .

      Enjoy your new city!

      1. Trixie*

        Can you expand on the driving? Ideally I’d like a rental in a walk-friendly neighborhood but within driving distance of Duke. I’m also 45 and hoping to find a population in my age group.

        1. Jillociraptor*

          I think what you’re describing exists–there seems to be a lot of development around downtown Durham, for example, that I suspect includes residential rentals. What surprised me is that most people would drive in situations where I would typically walk, and that it was rare for the people I visited to be able to walk to a restaurant or a grocery store from their house. Just a more car-centric transit culture than what I had experienced in other similarly sized cities.

          1. I NC You There*

            Completely agree. We moved here from a large Northeastern city with excellent public transportation. The adjustment has been a little tough. We walk way more than our friends and colleagues (and we only have one car), but this area is nearly impossible without a car. We live in Raleigh and live within walking distance of a bunch of shops and restaurants, and we got very, very lucky with the house we found. There are huge apartment complexes popping up every day that are also in walkable places, but they’re getting to be very expensive for the area. I’m talking over $2k for a 2-bedroom apartment close to downtown. A ton of amenities, for sure, but I paid over $2k in New York and I’m not willing– or paid well enough!– to do that here. So often, when renting in this area, you have to sacrifice walkability for more reasonable rent. Public transportation here exists, but it’s a joke. The bus system in Raleigh is great but it’s sporadic, and there’s so much sprawl, it can take a long time to get anywhere by bus. Buses in Chapel Hill are all free, though. And we have Uber and Lyft, of course. Drivers can do a nice business during the academic year.

            In terms of age, I find Raleigh to be older and more settled. Durham is a very young, hip, artsy scene (in my experience, anyway). In all honesty, I’ve had trouble finding close friends here because my partner is younger than I am and he’s a doctoral student, we’re not married and we don’t have kids, and the people I’ve connected with tend to be in their 20s. I’m in my late 30s (and I look very young, but that’s a different story). It’s not impossible to find peers, it just requires effort. Luckily, there are tons of activities and groups and ways to meet people. If you practice a religion, the church scene is really active here and quite welcoming (there are a lot of transient people here!). If you have children, there are a lot of wonderful family activities, museums, and events.

            Jobs… there are a lot of jobs around, depending on what you want to do. From what I gather, nursing is a great bet around here. We have excellent hospitals, a ton of private practices, and new facilities are popping up all the time. The local colleges and universities are always hiring.

          2. blackcat*

            I lived near downtown Raleigh for years, but before the recent explosion of development. Like NC Bound, I was a transplant from the north.

            I found an apartment where could walk places! I could walk to the store! To the pharmacy! To restaurants! I loved it, and all my neighbors thought I was super weird because I walked when I had a perfectly good car. A neighbor asked if I needed a lawyer, because she assumed I had a DUI since I was always walking places…. My partner and I had a one car household, and he found that sometimes folks made fun of him when he said he needed to wait for me to get home from work to have the car. It generally seemed like people assumed that if you walked as a means of transportation, you either didn’t have the money for a car or had legal trouble. So, yeah, different culture. I hear this is changing, though.

            I now live in Boston and no one finds it odd that I walk 1.5 miles each way to my office. And the one-car household is the norm in my neighborhood. We fit in much better here.

    3. JBinNC*

      I’m not sure where you would be going but I would recommend Durham if your boyfriend will be going to Duke or UNC rather than NC State. Chapel Hill to me is overrun by students, is very expensive, and traffic is quite bad. I live near the Durham/Chapel Hill line (in Durham) and I love my location. You can reach Durham & Chapel Hill in 10-15 minutes, and Raleigh & Cary in about half an hour. Just be prepared for about a month of disgusting yellow pollen every spring!

    4. Anon for this*

      Heya, I live in southwestern Raleigh.

      If you use Reddit at all, hit up /r/raleigh (check the sidebar first, there’s good resources), /r/bullcity, and /r/triangle.

      Have you been looking for work around Research Triangle Park? Looking around Indeed, I see a few copywriting positions. And between the Duke, UNC, and WakeMed hospital systems, your boyfriend could have a lot of options.

      Are you already planning to attend one of the universities here? If not, what are you looking for in a school?

      What kind of weather do you like? This area is hot and humid for four months, but nice for the rest of the year. Are you allergic to pollen? “Pollen season” is a thing.

    5. Nynaeve*

      Haha, I just visited friends last week who were trying to convince me to move to Durham. I really liked it there, but not enough to quit my awesome job, uproot my life, and leave all my other friends. The food was amazing and it seemed like a cool city.

    6. Franzia Spritzer*

      I live in Durham presently, and I have lived in Carrboro/Chapel Hill for the first year we were here. I’m from the PNW (Seattle and Portland respectively, with fam in Spokane area all the way over to Helena). I admit that my perspective on the place is skewed, as I am partially (temporarily) disabled, queer, liberal and my spouse is a trans person, my politics and corresponding opinions may not apply to you. Here’s a few things I think people who live in Durham overlook when selling it to their friends… . I really hope my list item html works

      Durham is technically a city, but it’s a very spread out city, you have to have a vehicle, period. Only downtown is walkable, the cool stuff is just out of that range.
      The speed of gentrification in Durham is alarming. It is a place of three cities, the local privileged, the university students, and everybody else, these three cities run in parallel to each other and rarely intersect (I think that’s problematic).
      You can buy a house for stupid cheep in Durham, but rent is disproportionally high. It’s a buyers market for sure, and said market seems to be in favor of the person getting into the landlord business. It’s so cheap to buy grad students buy houses rather than rent, and then rent their house out when they leave. If you’re on the marginalized side of the equation, that set up sucks.
      Durham is not on the short list for national film releases. Sometimes big movies never screen here.
      There is one. ONE. LGBT bar, one. (I’m used to a little more variety.) The owner is RAD AF, they’re great!
      Racism is alive and kicking.

      There are great things about Durham/Carrboro/Chapel Hill if you have a car and don’t mind driving.
      Carrboro is darling, it’s as small as a big city neighborhood, and what’s there is terrifically quirky.
      Chapel Hill is smallish, dense and quintessentially “Rural College Town” The streets are lively with activity, and there’s lots of variety in the food and drink from $ to $$$
      The rivalry between Duke and UNC Chapel Hill is fun for the most part.
      The upside to Durham being “cool”, is that what it lacks in gay bars it makes up in general queer acceptance in the local bars and eateries. It’s ok to be hand-holdy and kissy-face in these places, Durham is fairly oriented towards safe spaces.
      The out-of-doors has a lot to offer, lots of hiking and camping.
      There are multiple cinemateque and micro cinemas presenting experimental films regularly
      In that vein, there are experimental live theaters too
      Lots of crafty things between open studios and the Scrap Exchange
      Pretty good music comes through regularly
      There are really great author readings regularly
      A rich craft brew and food truck scene. It’s not to the artisan pickle boutique stage of foodie gentrification, but it is at the $25 ramen bowl stage.
      Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
      The Nasher Museum at Duke pulls in really interesting artists
      The art scene is tight, and dynamic
      The college radio stations here is the best I’ve heard anywhere!

      I’ve only been to Raleigh once, I have absolutely nothing to say about it.
      I think I liked Chapel Hill more than Durham honestly.

      1. I NC You There*

        I live in Raleigh, and I think it is so funny– and telling!– that someone who lives in the Triangle has only been to one of the other cities once. Because it’s SO TRUE. I have been to Chapel Hill maaaaaaybe twice. We go to Durham a lot because we love Bulls games and Durham has great restaurants, but we’re very centered in Raleigh. Before I moved here, I didn’t understand that at all, because I had always been more than willing to spend 45 minutes on a train to go to another part of my metro area. Now, 25 minutes in the car? Forget it.

        Raleigh suits me really well, Durham not so much. I find Durham too “cool” for my taste (so many hipsters!), but the food and arts scenes are excellent. Raleigh has a great food scene as well, but it’s slightly more corporate and upscale. There is a ton of emphasis on local and farm-to-table, plus we have a ton of locally brewed beer, so you can have a wonderful culinary experience in this part of the country.

    7. RebeccaNoraBunch*

      Hi!! I live in Raleigh; I moved here about 9 years ago from Pennsylvania! Small world. :)

      I love this area. I live in northwest Raleigh and I love this area, though if I were going to move anywhere it would probably be Durham. Downtown Durham is really up and coming and I spend a lot of time there.

      Both Raleigh & Durham are very driveable and the parking/traffic isn’t horrible, either. It gets a little gnarly at rush hour on the main highways (40, 540, 440) but if you do your research you can find a place close to where you work. If you’re looking to rent, there are literally hundreds of apartments being built in the Morrisville/Cary area (between Durham & Raleigh, adjacent to Research Triangle Park) that may be convenient for both you and your boyfriend between your job and his school.

      I’m not as familiar with Chapel Hill, though I’ve been there a few times. I’d say probably Durham or somewhere surrounding are your best bet if your boyfriend is going to UNC.

      I also work in RTP and I know a lot of folks in marketing, so I may be able to help you out with networking if you like. I wonder – is there a way for us to exchange information? I hesitate to put my email out here for all to see.

      1. NC Bound*

        Thank you, that would be great! I just created an extra Gmail account if you would be willing to connect there: ncbound12345@gmail.com. If you send a quick email there I’ll reach out to you via my real one. I’d love to buy you coffee or lunch once I get there! Thanks again.

    8. NC Bound*

      Thank you so much, everyone! I’m looking forward to the move and I really appreciate all of your help. Cheers to the AAM community!

  9. Turtle Candle*

    I have been reading a lot of Ask a Manager and watching a lot of Mystery Science Theater 3000 this week (in excitement for the new series, woooo!), and the result is this, which I couldn’t get out of my head:

    Dear Alison,

    I work for a large technology company in a maintenance/janitorial capacity. I get along well with my coworkers and I think I do a good job cleaning up the place–but my bosses didn’t like me, so they shot me into space.

    Is that legal?


    Just Another Face In A Red Jumpsuit

    (I’m so sorry.)

      1. Turtle Candle*

        :D I’m glad my silliness made you smile.

        I feel like the follow-up question is whether using the special parts to make some robot friends is an appropriate show of gumption.

    1. fposte*

      Loved it. And please tell me, because I’m having a hard time finding the info–is the new season on Netflix too? I know old episodes are and that confuses the search.

      1. Elsajeni*

        The new season isn’t out yet, but it’ll be up on Netflix on, I think, April 14.

      2. Turtle Candle*

        Looks like this has already been answered, but yup, Netflix is where I’m planning on watching it once it’s released!

  10. Victoria, Please*

    Two questions for everyone:

    For the bullet journalers out there, has anyone had bad experiences with Micron pens leaking all over the place? Do they need to be treated carefully, or do they just do this eventually no matter how gentle you are?

    For the SoCal residents, what’s a nice place to get grown-up furniture (not Ikea, Overstocks, Wayfair, etc….looking for the 30-year lifespan here)? My stepdaughter is, thankfully, soon going to take a bunch of stuff that her dad and mom had while she was growing up and this means that my husband and I can get our own married furniture!

    1. Hellanon*

      The old Helms Bakery on Venice in Culver City has lots of big gorgeous furniture stores – HD Buttercup is there along with a couple specializing modern design. Rejuvenation has a branch there as well. If they are fans of antiques, there are a number of good antique stores on the Orange Circle in Orange, down near Anaheim.

    2. Rena*

      I’ve been using 4 microns daily for my bullet journal for four months, and I haven’t had any issues with leaking yet. I guess now that’s something I’ll keep an eye out for though!

    3. CAA*

      Where in So Cal? If you’re in San Diego, you probably don’t want to drive all the way to Ventura for furniture, so you might get better recommendations if you narrow it down a bit.

    4. Ms Ida*

      This is an online company and also very new…..But I read an interesting article about the woman that started Maiden Home on the clothing company MM La Fleur blog this week and it seems like an interesting option for chairs and sofas. Maiden Home works directly with small furniture’s makers in North Carolina cutting out the middlemen and mark ups.

    5. Dizzy Steinway*

      Sorry for the ignorant question but why does this only apply to bullet journals and not other types of journals – I’m so curious!

      1. Victoria, Please*

        Chuckle, no reason except that bullet journalers, if I am any thing to go by, obsess over perfect pens and pages far more than people wise enough just to pick up a Bic and start writing! See Pinterest :-p .

    6. Sylvia*

      Not a bullet journaler here, but I draw. Never had problems with Micron pens. You mean the ink’s leaking out of the pens and not that it’s bleeding or feathering on paper, right? That really shouldn’t be happening. Maybe contact them at pigmamicron dot com, there’s a link at the bottom of the page, and see about a replacement?

    7. Victoria, Please*

      Thank you everyone! I foresee field trips in my future!

      Also good idea to contact Micron directly.

    8. Leenie*

      Another up-vote for Helms Bakery, particularly Buttercup. I just bought a sublime coffee table there about 2 weeks ago. It’s a great mixture of quality new with a few really well curated vintage pieces. Also, if by So Cal you mean LA, I’d also recommend Wertz Brothers on Santa Monica Boulevard for used pieces. I bought a mid-century vanity there that is one of my favorite things. It gets mixed reviews, but if you know what you’re after and have some patience, they have some very nice things, as well as cute parrots. Also, Terra Nova on Sepulveda. It’s small and has essentially one style, but good quality, sometimes one of a kind designs. Happy hunting!

  11. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    So I just recently figured out I’m nonbinary, in addition to being queer. I have only told my wife and good friend so far.

    But yeah. I am using they/them pronouns now.

    1. Another Lauren*

      I love that the AAM community is a safe space for you to share this. Sending you all sorts of support and good wishes!

    2. Hrovitnir*

      High five. I am totally unwilling to be out day to day about being nb (though I do attempt to be gender confusing when I can), and really appreciate all of you brave enough to be out and help normalise this. <3

    3. Charlie Q*

      Yay! Me too! I don’t know about you, but for me, the realization unleashed an absolute FLOOD of feelings about gender-related things that had never explicitly bothered me before. Like my gym clothes. Or my role as a lead vs. follow at swing dancing.

      1. Tau*

        NB high five!

        I totally hear you. When I figured it out, it felt a little like I’d been standing on something that I thought was solid ground but was actually a trapdoor and someone had just swung it open. I think I spent several months basically going “AAAAAH” as I got hit by all the confusing gender feelings all over the place and suddenly started having conflicted feelings about pseudonyms and makeup and skirts and pronouns (gd pronouns!!!). It was very eye-opening but also kind of sucked.

        overcaffeinatedqueer, if you’re going through that right now – there IS ground at the end of that fall, and we’re cheering you on all the way!

        1. Charlie Q*

          I’ve chosen a new name, and I’m introducing myself by my new name to new folks but have only told a handful of people I already know. At swing last night, I saw a guy I’ve danced with before but not for a few months. I asked his name & shared mine, and he kinda tilted his head and asked tentatively, “Were you… always NewName?” It was sweet :)

        2. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

          Thanks, lovely people! My wife and friend are totally willing to make the pronoun switch, although they may occasionally slip up. The hardest thing so far is coming up with another word for “mom,” since we often tell our cats “go see other mom!” or “other mom will feed you!” So I’m using “parent” for now.

          It hasn’t changed anything else with my wife. We still feel the same way to each other, and she’s still willing to be intimate (I know, TMI, but that means a lot).

          1. SeekingBetter*

            I like the word “parent.” But if you come up with another one that suits you better, all the more power to you :)

    4. the other Emily*

      Sending good thoughts your way! :)

      (I was really happy that in the responses to the recent letter from the non binary person, there was no pile on or disrespect towards them for being non binary. I’m glad the comments here are thoughtful and this blog is a welcoming place)

    5. 1.0*

      ! Congratulations!

      I’ve been questioning recently and am sliding very slowly towards (probably? for now?) being an nb lesbian and WOW it’s a whole emotional JOURNEY!

    1. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      Best: getting “discovered” for talents (see Fri post), baking pb chocolate chip birthday blondies for fam.

      Worst: deer hit parents car. Parent ok, car not ok. Feeling burned out.

    2. Pixel*

      Best: weather is starting to get springy, finally. It rained yesterday and I have missed the smell of rain so, so much.
      Worst: it’s April and it’s tax season and I don’t have the time or mental capacity to do any of the things that charge my battery.

    3. printrovert*

      Worst: having a bond on a tooth break off at the start of the week and not having dental insurance.
      Best: finding a new and AMAZING dentist and having the bond replaced for a lot less than I first imagined. :)

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Best: arrived at Universal Studios last night for our vacation! The hotel is really nice, but…

      Worst: the stupid, locked-down hotel TV with no buttons and no way to change the input. I loaded a bunch of movies onto my laptop to watch during down time, and plugging the HDMI cable into the TV does nothing. A tech came and was able to switch the TV to the input with a special, magical master remote, but then the TV would not even turn off without the magic remote! And of course the tech could not trust us with the magic remote! Argh! So annoying…but ultimately not a big deal.

    5. PseudoMona*

      Best: visting my month old nephew!

      Worst: coming down with a cold and being temporarily exiled in my hotel room until I feel better.

    6. Dr. KMnO4*

      Best: I love playing Stardew Valley!
      Worst: My test might have been too long for my students.

        1. Dr. KMnO4*

          It’s so calming for me! Even dying in the mines (twice now, around level 85 out of sheer stupidity) is only mildly annoying. I’ve avoided downloading it onto my laptop so I’m not tempted to play it at work.

    7. Elkay*

      Best: Got some admin out the way, house is looking a bit clearer.
      Worst: Feeling very out of place at home and at work. I used to write on a diary site but only one person still reads me so writing feels needy, sometimes I do it just to get it out my head, I never re-read.

    8. Annie Moose*

      Best: I figured out a solution for feeding birds that prevents them from dumping seeds and poop on my downstairs neighbor’s balcony!

      Worst: I, who never get sick, have gotten terribly sick TWICE this week… threw up at work on Tuesday (a first for me!), felt meh on Wednesday, felt 100% fine Thursday and Friday… and today am back to feeling like I’m dying.

    9. New Bee*

      Best: I had a light workweek and got to spend some time on my job search, including applying for an amazing position. *fingers crossed*

      Worst: Baby Bee’s going through a combo teething/growth spurt stage which means not enough sleep and my milk production’s taken a hit.

    10. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Best: We went to an amazing concert last Sunday at Royal Albert Hall and for once I just.let.go. and let myself enjoy it fully. We had a small box and the other two seats didn’t show and I suggested to Other Half yes, we SHOULD get that chilled bucket of sparkling wine – and go get a second during the intermission. As he put it “when are we EVER going to have this chance again?”

      Also — Masters Weekend!

      Worst: I don’t know if its anemia or what but my GOD I was exhausted this week. Deep, bone tired exhaustion. We were up late Sunday but even going to bed early I was still feeling like I was dragging by Thursday morning. Just got no pep in my step at all. I haven’t left the city in 9 months though and its been a stressful nine months so hoping the long Easter weekend and 10 days in early May will help. That and cleaning up the diet.

        1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

          Pro Tip: Second Tier Stalls is Where Its At for the more special shows. Its all we book now – super comfy, bathroom easily accessible, own locked door with a steward to open it, coat hook and a tiny foyer and always only 4 seats. First Tier stalls have 8. Usually almost always cheaper than first tier and floor, why I don’t know but Ill take it!

    11. Tau*

      Best: I’m on holiday next week until after Easter! My brother and niece are coming for a visit and I’m super excited. :) There’s a lot of cool touristy stuff where I live and she’s never been to the UK before.

      Worst: Probably-cluster-headaches y u do this to me. I’m trying to hold onto the fact that they’re better than they were the last time I had them, and I even had two pain-free days this week, but I’ve woken up at 5am feeling like someone is stabbing my face with needles WAY too often this week (including, y’know, this morning). I’m really worried they’ll still be going when my brother and niece are here and I’ll end up having to bow out of stuff in favour of curling up on the couch whimpering.

    12. Elizabeth West*

      BEST: It’s finally warming up, I think (hope). It keeps raining/storming, but here’s hoping the most recent outbreak was the last one with really frigid air behind it.

      WORST: Still no job and almost nothing to apply to this week. I really had to scrape. Also, I sussed out that it was definitely Meditation Dude’s girlfriend he brought. The whole thing (I don’t want to go into it) has some super weird middle school vibes now and my other friend and I were rolling our eyes over it.

      Back to my literary crush, I guess. :P

    13. Mallory Janis Ian*


      Worst: My daughter cut her wrists this week and we had to go to the ER. She has dropped out of college as of this semester and has lost her national merit scholarship. She has moved back home because she isn’t stable enough to keep going to school and living in the dorm. I keep forgetting to breathe and eat and do my job when I’m at work.

      1. SeekingBetter*

        I’m so sorry to hear. I’m sending my thoughts and prayers to you and your family.

      2. Belle di Vedremo*

        I’m so sorry.
        Please remember to take care of yourself, too, as you move through this one.
        Internet hugs to you.

      3. OhBehave*

        So very sorry to hear about your daughter’s struggles. Hoping you can find a great counselor for all of you and that you can find some down time.

      4. No way I'm not anon for this*

        I’m really sorry to hear that. I know everyone is different, but I wanted to comment because this reminds me of my college. I didn’t drop out but I went to the ER for a couple of times for self harm, got a DUI, and moved back in with my folks. I’m now almost 32 and doing pretty darn well. Stacking wood, hiking outside and cool but antisocial jobs like printing photos were helpful at the time. Knitting has also been really nice for me lately, wish I learned earlier.
        It might be a good idea to lock up any razors, painkillers, just in case.
        All the best to you and your family during this difficult time.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Thanks for sharing your experience. My daughter is working at McDonald’s right now, and I think even that may be too much for her. I’ve tried to think of things she might like to do instead (for pay or as a volunteer) and so far I’ve come up with library volunteer or barista at the cat cafe. :-)

          Her dad got her to hand over a fat stack of double-edged straight razors that she had bought at Walgreens for the express purpose of cutting. She bought herself an art pad that hooks up to her computer so she can calm herself with learning to draw with it. Her therapist has been working with her on strategies for not cutting.

          One thing I’m worried about is that she had an episode where she couldn’t tell , for a full hour, whether she was in reality or not. Her therapist gave her some strategies for coming back to reality if it happens again, but I can’t wait for the psychiatrist to weigh in on that. I’m worried because some serious mental illnesses have onset in the early twenties.

          1. No way I'm not anon for this*

            Hi! Yeah, I guess it would depend on how your daughter feels about the job, like if it’s helpful for keeping a daily routine or for the relationships. If not, yes, totally: cat cafes, animal shelters, libraries. Any state or national parks needing volunteers in the area?
            I’m sure it was really upsetting for my family to know I was self-harming. It’s important to keep in mind cutting is a method to cope with disturbing feelings or states or mind, like some folks use alcohol. When there are alternate ways to cope, like your daughter is discussing with her therapist, you might cut less or stop altogether. I stopped in my mid-20s.
            I never had any problems with reality. That must be super scary for your daughter. Looks like from another comment you have an appointment in May. Just a few weeks to May. Take care.

    14. Red*

      Best: I’m not dead, and also not sober lol. This is a good combo and I’m delighted.

      Worst: My husband is depressed. It’s having a toll on our relationship and we both know it. Except, that doesn’t fix it. At all.

        1. Red*

          He sort of is. I called up a psychiatrist and handed him the phone to make an appointment, so there’s that, but it’s in may and that feels so far away

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            God, waiting for the psychiatrist appointment! My daughter’s appointment is in May, too, and I feel lucky that we found one who had an opening so soon. The other ones we called were booking for October and November, if they were accepting new patients at all.

            Until she can see the psychiatrist, my daughter is being cared for by our primary care physician and is seeing a therapist. I wonder if your husband might see his PCP or a therapist if he needs someone before May?

            1. Red*

              Wow, I never thought of that, but it’s a great idea! I’m bipolar, so my first thought was “get thine rear end to a psychiatrist”, but a PCP or therapist will probably do in the meantime. Thank you, and I wish you all the best with your daughter. This is a tough thing to deal with, whether you’re the ill one or not.

              1. Mallory Janis Ian*

                Or PCP was able to get my daughter started on antidepressants, which the psychiatrist will evaluate when my daughter sees him. Maybe your husband’s PCP would do the same for him: just get him started so that the meds start to get under him and lift up his mood.

      1. Channel Z*

        My problem too. Response is denial, or yeah you are probably right and does nothing. Worst of all is when he blames me for being negative, it’s my fault for talking about it.

    15. Jo*

      BEST: Went to a great party on Friday with good music and lots of dancing, then had a lovely brunch with friends on Saturday on the patio at the embassy (although it was interrupted twice by ‘Duck and cover’ alarms meaning we had to drop everything to dash inside, which was annoying).

      WORST: Still undecided on my future and torn on whether I should try to stay in my current location or move on to a new place.

    16. Ange*

      Best: finally got the results of my staging scan and there is no sign of mets!
      Worst: mastectomy. Even though I raed up a bit, I did not realise how brutal an op it is. I feel a bit like I’ve been pounded with hammers.

    17. Annie Mouse*

      Best: I’ve just got back from a fantastic couple of days in Venice (Italy).

      Worst: I have to go home today and then straight back into two weeks of night shifts!!

    18. SeekingBetter*

      Best: It was a warm, sunny and beautiful day on Saturday for a nice jog :)

      Worst: I had to break up / end the relationship with one of my friends that I thought was a real friend. I wrote about it below. :(

    19. Anonyby*

      Best: Lots of fun time with friends this week. Friday we got together for lunch and hung out discussing our characters for a game that’s about to start. (A rare weekday lunchtime treat for us!) And then last night BFF and her hubby got Jackbox Party Pack 3 to finally work! So we tried all the games, and OMG one of the t-shirts designed in the tee shirt game was just PERFECT. Two of us HAD to buy it before we even moved on to the next game (even though we saved the link to be able to buy them later).

      Worst: Got new glasses this week, and this is the longest it’s taken me to adjust to new glasses. And though I don’t need bifocals yet, I can tell I’ll need them by one or two pairs in the future. It’s disheartening. (On the other hand, since I bought them from a friend, I have ZERO guilt about asking him to adjust the fit. :D Especially when I arrive a half hour before closing when I’m picking him up anyways.)

    20. GiantPanda*

      Best: Got to referee the premier league (in my sport in my country) for my hometown team against the national champions. Guests brought some of the very best players in the world, and I was there for two whole days of fantastic matches.
      Best of the best: Hometown team won!

      Worst: My feet hurt.

    21. Ruffingit*

      WORST: I’ve realized I can no longer trust my mother.

      BEST: I have great chosen family around me to help me through it.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I am sorry for what life has taken from you but I am glad for the gifts in your life.

  12. Myrin*

    I don’t have a car which 95% of the time isn’t a problem but in the few cases it was, my good friend came to the rescue and drove me where I needed to be (going so far as to sit in the dermatalogists’s waiting room for almost an hour while I got a suspicious piece of skin emergency-removed).

    Does anyone have good tips on how I can repay her/show my gratitude?

    I’ve offered multiple times to pay for her petrol but she’s staunchly refused. I took her to lunch and got her some small things I know she likes but I would like to do something that feels a bit “bigger” and not just like I’m giving her a key chain while she drives me through half the country (hyperbolically speaking).

    Whenever I bring it up, she just handwaves it, in part probably because her financial situation is about a million times better than mine but also because it really isn’t that big a deal to her. But I’d really love to do something nice for her that adequately shows my gratitude and how much I appreciate not only her friendship in general but her generosity and helpfulness in particular.

    1. Sibley*

      As the friend with the car, offer to help her out when she needs it. Need help moving furniture? Big gardening task? Pet sitting? Take soup over when she’s sick.

      Basically, be a good friend.

      1. Myrin*

        Thanks for the answer, Sibley! I’m happy to report that I’m already doing that (most recently, she’s been renovating her house where I was glad to lend a hand) but it still feels so inadequate to me, somehow, I can’t really explain why. I’m glad to hear that it wouldn’t feel that way for you, though, since I’m guessing she’s actually the same way.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Uh, if she is renovating her house, you won’t feel the effort is inadequate for long. lol. I worked on my house for quite a while and I can tell you it was, indeed, epic.

          Go with the flow, it’s okay to pay it back in the future, you don’t have to pay in full today. That’s why it’s a friendship, she knows she will get the favor back at a different point.

    2. Ms Ida*

      To me a lunch and small token seems perfectly reasonable for a ride.

      Here’s my too cents. :) Let her be a friend to you and take her at her word that she doesn’t want any kind of payment.

    3. dr_silverware*

      It sounds like you’ve already taken her out to lunch, and thanked her! That would be enough for me :) Sometimes when you do something for a friend, you want to be thanked, but you also want the understanding and trust that doing these kinds of favors is part of the fabric of your relationship. Thank her and make sure to help her when she needs it, is what I’d say.

      1. the gold digger*

        Exactly. My mom will not let anyone do a favor for her and it’s kind of insulting, really – that she is so unwilling for there to be an apparent inbalance in the relationship. Think of your friendship as a lifetime endeavor – it all works out in the end.

    4. Tau*

      So from everything you’re said, it sounds like you’re reciprocating in a pretty standard friendship manner and your friend is happy with the state of affairs. Is it possible that your feeling that the relationship is imbalanced is actually due to brainweasels/anxiety on your part instead of something that reflects reality?

      I may be projecting, but I definitely did the thing where I felt like I was taking advantage of my friends and not reciprocating. All until a situation happened that drove home that I was being absurd (it involved me feeling super-guilty and like I was taking advantage by having my friend make me tea instead of doing it myself… right after I’d blacked out due to a health issue). I’m now inclined to be skeptical of the little voice that tells me how I’m being a bad friend.

      Also of note: if you *are* misjudging the situation, a big heartfelt gesture of gratitude may do more harm than good, since it may leave her feeling like your relationship is imbalanced afterwards.

      1. Myrin*

        It’s funny you say that because I’m actually the complete opposite of what you describe – if people tell me they’re fine with something, I believe them because I think if they weren’t, they should just outright tell me and not try to play coy or to get me to ask a million times or something. That’s certainly why I asked that question, though – I know that I can be overly pragmatic and even coldhearted at times, so I wasn’t sure if my feelings on this were out of whack or not.

        1. Tau*

          OK, good to know! In that case, I think you can have a clear conscience. :) And I think the way you approach it is honestly a pretty good one, and one I’m trying to move more towards.

    5. HannahS*

      That’s so lovely of you! As someone that was (and still is, sometimes) the chauffeur of my friend group, I think what you’ve done is enough. Personally, all I wanted was an expression of gratitude (“Thanks for the ride”) and just to know that the other people understood that what I was doing was a significant contribution to the friendship (all I mean is someone saying VERY occasionally, “Thanks for always driving me everywhere! It would be hard to hang out otherwise.”) I fully understood that the fact that I had regular access to the family car + upper-middle-class parents who paid for gas was totally a privilege, and I didn’t expect people–especially people with less money–to pay me back. With my friends, as long as the emotional work of the relationship remained an even back-and-forth, then doing more logistical work (planning, feeding people, driving them around) didn’t bother me.

      1. the gold digger*

        Yes. I gave a work friend a ride to the dealer once to pick up her car and she wanted to give me gas money. I told her to stop insulting me – that this is something friends do for each other.

    6. Colette*

      Here’s what I’d like when I give people rides:
      – treat it as a request, not an obligation – I.e. Ask and be prepared to make other arrangements if I can’t do it, cheerfully and without guilt
      If one of us has to be inconvenienced, make it the recipient of the favour. In other words, be waiting at the door when I get there.
      Make a point of helping when I need help, and reaching out to me when you don’t need a favour.

      So as long as you treat the friendship as reciprocal, and show you appreciate it, you’re fine. And it sounds like you’re doing both.

    7. Anon attorney*

      Give her the gift of allowing her to give.

      I am financially fortunate (sadly, through inheritance – I wish I wasn’t) and I wish some family and friends would just let me make things easier for them without it being a big deal. Accepting generosity graciously is an important skill in its own right. She did it because she cares about you. Let her.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        That is sad because being able to share an estate or parts of it with others can really help our own grieving process.

        I will tell a little secret. On one estate I told people they had been named in the will. (They weren’t and were not familiar enough with estates to ask to see the will.) So I was able to say, “Loved One wanted you to have this.” It worked.

        On another estate that I helped a person execute, we found a note tucked inside the will. The note contained additional instructions. The lawyer said we did not have to follow what the note said, but we did anyway. And we explained that to people also. This idea worked, too.

        1. Cafe au Lait*

          Not So NewReader,

          Tell me more about the note. My husband and I just had a trust made-up, and the lawyer said that a handwritten provision was just as good as putting it in the will.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Different states, different laws. I’m in NY.

            Basically, it was a letter.

            Dear Executor’s Name,
            Please give friend Jane Doe the good red chair in the living room. You know how to find Jane.
            Please see to it that Niece Sally gets $3000 or as close as possible. Here’s her address as of this writing: [xxx]
            [Fill in with more similar last minute requests.]
            Close with something nice to the executor like “thanks for trying to take care of this.”
            Your Uncle [Full name]

            The executor presented it to the attorney as “My uncle told me over the phone that he had written this and put it with his will. Here is what I found.”

            The attorney said we did not have to do the handwritten part if we did not want to do it. But we decided to press forward and do it. I think we would have done it anyway, but the niece really needed the money even though it was not a lot. So that really weighed in heavy with us and we did all the handwritten requests in the letter.
            Smaller estates up here go through probate court like an assembly line. No one questions a lot of things unless someone raises a big fuss. The paperwork for probate is so bad that some attorneys can’t even get through it. Contesting something is even more unpleasant. And this is why some stuff flies that you wouldn’t think would be able to stand up.

            More currently, NY has been working on ways of keeping estates out of probate because courts are so clogged. It’s helpful to know this surrounding landscape stuff to get the idea of what is okay.

            I hope I am answering some of your questions. I will check back tomorrow night for you.

    8. Clever Name*

      Maybe her driving you when you really need it is her way of saying thanks for all the stuff you do for her? :)

    9. OhBehave*

      In the course of your friendship, you will get the opportunity to help her in a large way most likely. We all have moments of great need.

      I would take care not to push the gratitude too far. After awhile it becomes uncomfortable for the helper to be thanked so effusively. That being said, does she have a cause she’s passionate about? Make a donation in her name. Now, in my opinion, what you’re doing is quite enough thanks for me.

  13. Channel Z*

    Best: Finished and submitted a chapter of my thesis

    Worst: Son wasn’t selected for rugby match today. Hasn’t been selected for a single sport associated with his primary school for the past two years. Primary school! Why do we have to start so early with exclusion perpetuated by authorities. Tears fall

    1. Ruth (UK)*

      :( about your son. If it makes you feel any better, I was never selected for anything at school – I tried out for various sports teams (netball, rounders, cross country running) and never got selected for anything. I also always auditioned for school plays and never got a part (even the a one-line parts) – I was always in the chorus. However, I turned out to be fairly athletic (I’m running a half marathon tomorrow) and have a mix of hobbies that I actively do as an adult.

      What I’m trying to say is that even though it still sucks for him to end up feeling excluded, it doesn’t mean that he won’t be successful at the things he wants to do, just because he’s not standing out at them now.

      But yes it’s a shame they’re already adopting an attitude of competitively selecting teams in school at such a young age. To me it would make more sense to get as many people to play as possible. And rugby is an especially easy game to get lots of people involved with many opportunities to sub, plus a high number of people on the field to begin with (15 or 13 depending if you’re talking about union or league. Well, considering the age-range I’m going to assume this is a game of touch tbh…)

    2. Hrovitnir*

      Aw. :( I didn’t know that was a thing! Poor dude. In high school at least we had a first and second 11/15, but I’m pretty sure they basically let anyone in the second 11/15 unless there were so many it was worth having a “social” team. But primary school?? My primary school was too small to have sports teams.

    3. NoMoreMrFixit*

      Story of my life. More than made up for it by being a library volunteer, choir, band, drama club, model building club and treated gym class as a necessary evil I had to endure. When it comes to sports my motto is “no pain = no pain” :-) Plenty of alternatives available for kids who are not good at, or not interested in sports.

    4. Dr. KMnO4*

      Congrats on submitting a thesis chapter! That stuff is hard work!

      I’m sorry things aren’t going well sports-wise for your son.

    5. copy run start*

      I don’t think we had sports teams in grade school. But I remember the pain of middle and high school. I am hopelessly non-athletic.

      In America there are usually sports camps that focus on a particular sport available during the summer. As a kid I watched my cousins do soccer camp and softball camp and basketball camp, etc. If those are offered in your town they might be a good option for him to get better and have fun. My cousins were also involved in some city/local community center leagues when they were younger and there were kids of all talents there.

      Any chance your son has an interest in music? I was in orchestra and they let anyone play through middle school. In high school we had to try out, but it was only to decide who would make the upper orchestra; no one was ever told they couldn’t play.

      Congrats on getting part of your thesis done!

    6. Channel Z*

      He does well in all his subjects, especially math. But that isn’t cool when you’re eleven. He is not terrible at sports, but he will never be a top player. He is in a soccer club, and he is on the C team, but I think he is glad to be playing, even if not on the A team. The heart of the issue, really, has nothing to do with sports, but with being excluded. It hurts, and I feel the pain. I want more than anything to take that away or help him with resilience, but I can’t even do that for myself so my words seem hollow.

    7. Al Lo*

      It’s hard.

      I work at an organization that has choirs for kids (and adults). Most of the choirs themselves are non-auditioned, and we’re open to anyone who can match pitch, whether or not they have musical experience, massive amounts of talent, training, or whatever. However, our solos are auditioned quite stringently, and can be pretty competitive. We try to instill in our singers that the teamwork is more important that the individual recognition, but it’s still tough to audition over and over and continually be passed over.

      Our policy is that we don’t “give turns” for solos or acting roles or whatever. We don’t track who’s had solos before and give them to someone new each time. You don’t have a guarantee that if you’re in the choir for X number of years, you get a solo. Each time, the audition panel looks at the group of solos and the group of people auditioning without taking history into account. We take the best person for each role, and the one thing that we do is to be cognizant of the number of solos in any given round that are given. So if one season has 10 solos, the same person can’t get more than 1 (or maybe 2, depending on specific circumstances). However, the same 10 people could (theoretically) get solos every season.

      But that doesn’t happen, because different voices come into their own at different times, and different pieces require different styles. We have one young woman who gets a lot of solos these days — who never had one until she was in her mid-20s. We have one young man who had never gotten a solo… until we had a song that suited his very specific, gravelly sound.

      Lots of rambling here. These are things we deal with and explain to parents on a regular basis. It’s something that we wrestle with a lot, because it sucks when kids get disappointed, but we also choose carefully where we value product over process. Our process is, overall, more important than our product, in that we’re an educational organization and want to provide opportunities for our singers to learn and grow and develop, but we are also a well-known and highly regarded program with performances that we take seriously, so there are times when the product has to edge the other out.

      1. Channel Z*

        Thanks for the perspective. I was in music, so I can relate. And I’m not the parent type to be demanding my child be chosen. He feels better today, and is thinking forward, like maybe switching to a smaller club where he has more chances of getting matches. That’s a good sign.

    8. Not Alison*

      My 10-year old cousin felt that way when he was near the end of the picking for the sports team. But then again, he had no interest in practicing to try and get better. You might want to consider paying for some extra coaching for him – – but that will only work if he is willing to put in the time to practice to get better, which also includes practice time on his own away from the coaches.

  14. The Other Dawn*

    I’m looking for grill recommendations. I’m thinking I want a new grill. We have a large Charbroil. We’ve had it for almost five years. Last year I replaced all the burner shields and grates, and this year we just replaced the burners, the burner bar, and something else (don’t remember). The originals were basically rusted out and crumbling. I’m thinking it will last me until next year, but if I find a better quality grill in the meantime, I might go for it and give this one to a family member.

    I’d want a large grill, since I have a big extended family and I would use it for picnics and stuff like that. I don’t care about side burners, but I might use it if it has one. I want something that isn’t going to rust out in a couple years, like this one did. Even though I keep a grill cover on it, it still rusted.

    Does anyone own a Weber? I’ve been looking at them for a few years and can’t bring myself to spend the money, but they seem to be well made.

    Any others you can recommend? What should I stay away from?

    1. Redrum*

      We had a Charbroil and it rusted out and wasn’t useable after a few years. We switched to a Weber and LOVE it!! You can’t go wrong with a Weber. It evenly cooks no matter where you place the meat. (No hot or cold spots, just even cooking)

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, that’s something that really annoys me with my grill: meat burns in the back and takes too long to cook in the front. I’ve been eyeing the Weber for a long time, even before we got the Charbroil. But it wasn’t in our budget at that time and I needed a really big grill for a party I was having, so we got the huge Charbroil. I think it was 249.00 and it’s a six-burner. But I spent 100.00 on parts last year, and another 30.00 this year. Plus went through two grill covers. Oh, and the sear burner stopped lighting after just a couple months. So, yeah. Should have saved up and gone with quality. *sigh*

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      We really like the Weber Genesis grills. We’re on our second (EP-310); the first one (a Silver B), one of the burners rusted through a bit after many years, and we could have replaced it, but we wanted a bigger grill anyway. With Webers it’s pretty easy to repair and replace parts that get rusted/encrusted or whatever. They’ve done especially well since we only tried a cover for less than a year, but wound up not using it.

      We did have to replace the rubber hose on the Silver B with a metal braided one because the peabrained squirrels kept chewing through the rubber! But the EP-310 has the hose and tank in the cabinet under the grill, so that’s not even an issue now.

    3. Notthemomma*

      Hubby still has the Weber he bought 20+ years ago. Clean it thoroughly once a year, cover or keep inside when not in use, and the only replacement needed is one of the caster wheels. LOVE IT! It will be a great investment for you.

    4. Rogue*

      We own a Weber, but it’s a teeny, tiny, low to the ground, charcoal grill. It’s big enough for 2 monster ribeye steaks or 4 hamburgers or a package of brats. Plenty big enough for the two of us. We’ve had it about 3-4 years now. No problems with it at all. Nothing rusting away.

    5. Jules the First*

      We have a Weber and we love it. It’s also plumbed into our gas mains, which we highly recommend if you do a lot of grilling – no more hunting down extra-large tanks!

      1. Jules the First*

        Ps. Our Weber is at least 15 years old and I think we’ve replaced a burner, the ignition switch, and a hose that tangled with a particularly hungry squirrel?

    6. FDCA In Canada*

      I can’t say enough good things about Weber. My parents have had Weber grills for 30+ years, and replaced them….maybe twice? Wonderful, sturdy, impossible-to-mess-up grills. I do have to say that our family has only ever grilled with charcoal, never gas, but we have never, ever had an issue with Weber grills. We leave ours out in all kinds of gross weather, never so much as an issue. Great products. Weber’s gas grills are consistently given great ratings on Consumers Reports, and their Genesis and Summit lines are made in the USA if that’s important to you.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        I love the quickness of a gas grill, but I cook so much better on charcoal- plus the taste is better!

        We have both a Weber grill and a Weber smoker. I love Weber to pieces, and they last!

        1. FDCA In Canada*

          I have never actually cooked on gas, so I don’t even know how, but I love cooking on charcoal. It takes longer to set up, of course, but the taste is soooo gooood and worth it! My family always does their Thanksgiving turkeys on the grill–maybe 3 hours or so? Gorgeous birds.

    7. msroboto*

      I have a Weber Genesis (not sure exactly which one). I love it.
      I looked forever and finally bought it and haven’t regretted it.

      Did you know they have a customer support number? When I first got mine there was an issue with the regulator. They sent me a new one under the warranty.

    8. neverjaunty*

      Agree – get a Weber, unless you are going to be one of Those People who makes grilling and smoking your main hobby, in which case get a Big Green Egg.

    9. The Other Dawn*

      Thanks, everyone! So, if I read this correctly, I should get a Weber? LOL ;)

      I figured Weber would be the recommendation, but was curious as to what people had to say about it since it’s quite a bit more than a Charbroil.

    10. Beancounter Eric*

      Get a Weber Kettle – gas is slightly easier, but charcoal will yield better flavor. Build quality is great, cooking is relatively easy (basically, set the vents and leave it alone), and not much to break.

  15. Anon for This*

    How do you compromise with competing needs in a relationship?

    My boyfriend and I are both stretched very thin right now and our needs aren’t always compatible. In general, we do our best to take care of ourselves, and do our best to support each other as we are equipped to. Last night, I really wanted some physical comfort – sex, preferably, but even just closeness. I was really emotionally drained. He needed to talk. He needed emotional support, and a sounding board, and I did that for him, even though it took more out of me than I had to give at that moment. I think physical support for me would have done the same for him. Neither of us were going to come out okay if we didn’t get what we needed, but what we needed was contradictory, and being the one to sacrifice my needs and put myself in the red in terms of spoons I am….very much not okay today.

    I told him we need to find better ways to compromise when our needs conflict, and he agreed, and asked me for suggestions. I have none. I was hoping the hivemind might. The next couple years for us are going to be fairly unstable and we need to figure this out.

      1. Anon for This*

        I’m familiar with it but it’s not really a question of appreciation or communication. It’s an issue of being two different people with two different sets of needs and what to do when those needs are asynchronous, and we know and understand that those needs are asynchronous.

    1. EN*

      No tips myself, but I would recommend the book Come as You Are by Emily Nagoski. It was recommended to me as a communication book, even though at face value it’s about the science behind women’s sexual response. It’s very much taulored to figuring out what the individuals in a relationship need, how they feel about it and how to balance differences that are bound to arise between two people.

    2. emkay*

      Seems you could have cuddled and talked. We spend hours in bed, him rambling at me because he needs to, me ultra snuggling on him because I need to. Both satisfied. Give it a shot and see if it works.

      1. Anon for This*

        We did, actually. He just wasn’t in a rambling-at-me place, he needed me to participate, and that was more draining than I have been able to recover from.

        1. Dizzy Steinway*

          You know, it’s as okay to be not-up-for-that as it is to be not up for sex.

    3. Hrovitnir*

      I am the worst at this stuff, but I really think it largely needs to be a case-by-case basis with the overarching discussion being more about acknowledging the issue and agreeing to engage in good faith where there is a conflict – conflicting needs, that is. So explicitly spell out the need to discuss and genuinely consider what you can handle at the time. With agreed regular check ins (weekly maybe?) to discuss how it’s going and if it feels unbalanced.

      If it continues being unbalanced that’s when you’re going to need to discuss that it is consistently following this pattern and you’re going to need to either pull back on your support or get more – preferably the latter.

      If that’s not working you could consider seeing a relationship therapist basically as the +1 version of the weekly meetings. No harm going straight to that either, depends on your comfort level and finances. Good luck!

      1. Anon for This*

        Thank you, I like this suggestion a lot. I think the level of structure might feel cold at the beginning but ultimately could be helpful.

        1. Hrovitnir*

          I’m glad! I think any major change will feel awkward, but I’ve heard of people doing this before for various reasons and it sounds like a good idea.

    4. Not That Jane*

      Something that’s been pretty liberating for my husband and me has been realizing that we can turn to friends or family for some needs, rather than each other. We lost a child about a year ago, and in the aftermath of that, we’ve both leaned heavily on friends, family and professional counseling to process our feelings – which has been very helpful given that we have definitely been at very different places at different times. Don’t know how relevant that is to your situation, and obviously most couples (including us) wouldn’t handle physical/sexual needs that way, but leaning on others has really helped us.

      1. Anon for This*

        I really want to work on making him comfortable with this. I do it, but he’s not comfortable taking “our” stuff outside the relationship. I’m trying to convince him it can be helpful to get other perspectives on things!

        1. Becca*

          I’m going to second Hrovitnir’s couples therapist suggestion, assuming it’s possible budget-wise! Therapy isn’t only for when things look totally helpless— with things like this, it’s so helpful to have an outside and experienced perspective who can give you a bunch of concrete suggestions you might not be able to think of yourself. (So it’s been for me!) A private office could be a good place for your boyfriend to get comfortable talking about things going on with other people who aren’t you.

          Good luck :)

        2. TL -*

          Even just having someone that you don’t specifically vent to but still can have emotions at is helpful. I’m friends with a married couple and if they have a fight, I’ll get a text from him, “I really want to hike Mountain! Let’s visit you and then go!”
          And then I’ll get a text from her, “Husband is trying to plan a vacation we don’t have money for and we just got into a big fight about it.”
          It’s hilarious (and not a big deal, because they both kinda assume I only know what they individually tell me.)

        3. Not So NewReader*

          I hate saying this because implications/assumptions/etc. But here goes, I grew up in kind of a strange context and my husband had similar strangeness in his own home. (Neither one of us brought our friends to meet our parents.) With all this strangeness, of course came a WHOLE bunch of misconceptions on our own parts.

          Eh, we learned to keep our heads down and not say too much while we each figure out how the world actually worked. (I’m still working on this.)
          So that’s the background for my specific thought here: Define the term”our stuff”.

          See, in our world every. single. damn. thing. was “your problem, you deal”. This is what we got from our parents, so we assumed that other people did not want to talk about our broken car, sick dog, back ache, bad day at work, etc, either. We ended up mostly dumping on each other.

          Can I just say this is NOT a long term plan.

          The problem at square one was to define what could be discussed with others and what should be discussed just between us. Our parents believed themselves to be rugged, self-sufficient individuals. To us they looked isolated, elitist and never pleased with anything. (This is what happens after a couple lives this way for decades.) A car problem was a bfd and a deep dark secret. (Everything grew into being exponentially harder than need be.)

          Here is something very, very important to hang onto. Marriage is not a destination, it’s a journey. We don’t stop needed other people because we don’t stop journeying through life. Next important thing: Spouses will not ever offer us the comprehensive package of everything we need to get through life. Ever. It’s unfair to ask a spouse to be a parent/bff/spiritual adviser/financial wiz/home fix-it guru/lover/nurse/shrink/dog sitter and on and on.

          Looking at how to change things, one thing you might want to consider is in a calm moment talk about what subjects are okay to talk with other people about and what subjects aren’t. Actually lay out what stuff is truly “our stuff” and what is just “life stuff”.

          You might land on something like this: (Okay means okay to discuss with others or selected others and not okay means it’s not okay to talk with anyone about.)

          New credit card with a great rate: okay
          The amount of debt the two of you carry: not okay

          What to get each other for Valentines day: okay
          How your sex life is doing: not okay

          Loss in family: Okay
          Toxic nature of that relationship: not okay

          When you hit a “not okay” that area is fair game to consider bringing a professional IF that area seems to be causes stress in your relationship.

          Remind your other half that you promised to love them but you did not and cannot promise to be everything they need to get through life. All you can do is help as best you can, that is all you can do. The good news here is that the same thing goes for them, they can only do the best they can for us, that’s it.

    5. KS girl at heart*

      Could you have made a compromise that would have gotten you both what you needed? He would get a set length of time of your emotional support and then you could get the physical comfort you needed from him? Or is it too draining to try to do both?

      1. Anon for This*

        Approaching it from a more rational frame of mind and setting those parameters in the beginning, yes, maybe that would work, and I’ll definitely keep this suggestion in mind. Last night was a mess I don’t think we would’ve gotten to this place. But it’s a good goal.

    6. AnonyMouse*

      First, *hugs* if you want them!

      A few little suggestions –
      1) Could you have said something like, “I want to be here for you but I don’t have a lot of spoons today — can you pick one thing that’s bugging you most, that I can listen to, then at X o’clock, can we just cuddle for a bit before we sleep?” What I’m trying to get at here is a formula along the lines of “I love you + I have these limitations + Here’s a concrete plan”

      2) When you’re in a better headspace, figure out what sort of personal activities help you each de-stress. My husband likes to watch TV shows and work on hobby projects. It helps me to take hot showers and read books. Sometimes when he doesn’t have the energy to support me, he steers me to the things he knows will help me become alright by myself — like, “Honey, I have to finish up some work right now. Why don’t you take a hot shower and get into bed with a book, I’ll come join you in an hour.” That way he gets his stuff done, I get into a better mindset, and by the time he joins me, I actually demand less of him than I would have pre-self-caring.

      3) Relatedly, if you guys can accept that your needs can be met by things outside of each other sometimes (other friends, family, self-care), you can still be supporting each other by helping each other figure out how to get the needs met. I.e. “I don’t have the bandwidth right now to be your sounding board as much as you want and deserve. Can we supplement me somehow? Is there a friend who might be helpful to you? How about Cassie?” Obviously that doesn’t work in all cases, e.g. wanting physical closeness, but it may help alleviate the pressure in some instances.

      Also, as a reminder, the give & take in a relationship doesn’t have to be equal all the time. I don’t know if this is a helpful reminder for you, but it’s something I struggle with. I’ve recently been sick a lot and have a more demanding job, so Mr. AnonyMouse has been doing a lot of the support (mainly chores but also emotional support). Sometimes I feel guilty about this, but I’m slowly getting to a place of realizing that truly, he has more bandwidth than I do now and that’s okay! Someday he may be the one who needs more help and I can step up then. And in the meantime I shower him with gratitude, and on the days that I do have extra spoons I do one of his chores or leave him little post-it notes of love. I bring this up because you said the next couple years will be unstable — so there may be weeks and months where you have to take turns supporting each other, and that’s okay. There is nothing wrong if, say, for this week he is taking care of your needs while a friend meets his needs. (Arguably that’s not a good long-term solution, but I think it’s fine temporarily/my point is that these things may wax & wane) It’s more important that the needs get met, so you’re both in the best possible mental state to enjoy each other!

      1. Not That Jane*

        Nothing to add here, just want to let you know that you guys sound amazing together. :)

  16. Sled dog mama*

    I’ve been thinking about/planning on getting a tattoo in honor of my daughter and in memory of my daughter who died last year. I had the design I wanted in mind, some sketches of it, and I was on the point of making an appointment with an artist whose work I really liked to finalize the design when something hit me. If I am getting this for myself why am I planning to put it on my back where I will be literally the only person who can’t see it?
    Anybody got thoughts or suggestions on where I could get it that would be able to be covered for professional purposes, somewhere I could see, and not suffer from too much sagging as I age?

    1. Dizzy Steinway*

      I have a tattoo on my shoulder/back and I can see it if I twist round. I also have one on my foot.

      I’d suggest you take your design to the tattooist and ask them to work with you to figure out where it should go as they should be able to advise.

      I’m so sorry for the loss of your daughter.

    2. Pixel*

      I was thinking ankle/inside of foot (the fleshy part right under the inner ankle “bone bump”. This way I can see it whenever I take my shoes of. It’s a solid, non/saggy area compared to the calf and upper ankle.

      So sorry about your daughter. A tattoo is such a great way to honour her.

    3. Rena*

      It’s a common location these days, but I really like my upper arm tattoo (near my shoulder). I can cover it with longer short sleeves if I really need to, I can look down and see it, and I easily see it in the mirror. It was also really easy to take care of – feet tattoos take a little extra work and can wear down/blur easily from your shoes rubbing.

    4. Hrovitnir*

      Second talking with the artist. How big is it? I am currently getting a tattoo designed for something I want to be visible to me but not highly in the line of sight of others, and I’m thinking inside ankle (above the joint, basically lower calf but the inside.)

      There’s just below the elbow on your forearm but it depends if you wear short sleeves at work. Also if it goes into the elbow itself I can tell you that is a painful spot! But yes, upper shoulder is common and a nice shape for many tattoos, you’ve also got ribs if you’re feeling brave (ow), maybe top of your thigh (I’m thinking basically below the pelvis, quarter of the way around from the absolute outside of your hip if that makes sense.) Just throwing out ideas because I’ve struggled a little to think of areas for my one (especially since I also have plans for other parts of my body.)

      1. Franzia Spritzer*

        I was going to suggest the same.

        I’m a heavily tattooed person, I have full sleeves and my chest done, with small stuff on my neck… and it’s a PIA to cover up to look professional. I also have stuff on my thighs that have never seen the light of day, and are just for me because I almost always wear pants, when do I wear skirts they’re knee length so those tattoos don’t show. I do have stuff on my calves and ankles that I kind of wish were higher so I could be a little more stealth when appropriate.

        If you want to have memento mori tattoos that are really just for you, around the thighs are great places to get those, or on your torso, but man that stuff hurts, if you’re new to getting tattooed you might want to start somewhere more meaty.

      2. Saturnalia*

        Agreed. I actually enjoyed the feeling of my thigh tattoo (especially comparing with the sensation of the back of my knee…), and it also had the surprising effect of helping me to tolerate the appearance of my least favorite body part. I eventually expanded the thigh tattoo into a whole leg piece which I adore, but not all parts of the leg are as pleasant as the front/outside of the upper-mid thigh.

      3. esra (also a Canadian)*

        This was going to be my recommendation as well. I have tattoos on the back of my neck and outer ankle, which are both easily hidden, but I’ve seen some really beautiful work done on the hips/outer thigh.

    5. Tiger tattoo*

      I have a large tattoo on my back, and I am very happy with it there. I can look at pictures if I want to see it, but I can’t look at it every day and pick it all apart. I’m kind of a perfectionist and am pretty sure that if I could see it clearly all the time, I would by now have found lots of flaws in it that would bother me. As it is, I think it is awesome.

    6. Loopy*

      I have a very meaningful tattoo on my back and I absolutely wish I had gotten it somewhere I can see it more- so realizing this potential issue before you yours it is a wonderful thing.

      I have two large tattoos on my calves- I can’t show them at work but never have a problem as I either wear long pants or solid black tights / leggings. If you aren’t fond of skirts/dresses with bare legs or ultra thin hose I think it’s a good option.

      But I definitely do not have an issue with wearing leggings or tights if I want to wear a skirt dress to work as I work in a comfy climate controlled office. I enjoy seeing my other tattoos. I hope your tattoo brings you comfort, it’s a wonderful way to memorialize someone.

    7. Lore*

      Mine is on the front of my shoulder for that very reason. You see a hint of it with wide necked shirts or obviously anything with spaghetti straps but it’s small enough that I can cover even in summer without major wardrobe restriction. Unexpected bonus–not a lot of nerve endings there and also not directly over bone so much less painful than other spots.

  17. Mike C.*

    Hey folks, if you have a good relationship with your parents, please give them a call.

    My mother passed away suddenly this morning.

    1. Sherm*

      I’m so sorry! How devastating and horrible. I hope you are able to find solace many times and in many places.

    2. Channel Z*

      So sorry Mike, for your loss. I am heeding your advice and phoning my parents now.

    3. MoodyMoody*

      Adding to the sympathy. I am so sorry to hear about your mother. I hope you’ll be okay and get through everything. Be gentle on yourself. Come back later if you need more Internet support.

    4. Nynaeve*

      I’m so sorry for your sudden loss. Your mother raised a real mensch, so she must have been an amazing person and the world is dimmer for her absence.

      I hope you have all the support you need during this difficult time.

    5. Zathras*

      I’m really sorry for your loss. You’re a good person to take the time to reach out and remind people to appreciate what we have. I lost my dad many years ago but I’ll give my mom an extra big hug when I see her tomorrow.

    6. Rebecca*

      So sorry, Mike, that has to be so difficult. Condolences, hugs, and wishing you peace.

    7. Mrs. Fenris*

      Oh, I am so sorry. My dad got up one morning in 2007 and had a fatal heart attack, just like that. It had been about 2 weeks since we last talked.

    8. Arduino*

      I am so sorry. My mom died suddenly Jan 28. I just turned 29 in December. Please give your self grace and forgiveness during the tough times ahead. Don’t fight the grief wells.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Am very sorry for your loss, and good advice “don’t fight the grief wells”.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      So very sorry, Mike.
      If there is anything we can do from out here in internet-land, please let us know.

    10. mousemom*

      So sorry to hear that, Mike.
      Hope you have lots of loving memories to help comfort you.

    11. Anon A Mousse*

      My sincere condolences.

      Please do what you need to do for you. Responding to this sort of thing can be very idiosyncratic. I lost my Dad suddenly from a cancer diagnosed way too late just shy of 10 years ago, and I didn’t respond like either of my siblings, and Grandma kind of scared us. If you have someone not in the midst of grieving you can trust to help just keep an eye on you for if you start to have issues you don’t realize you are having, I recommend it.

    12. salad fingers*

      So sorry to hear that, Mike C. I hope you and your family have all the support you need, and thank you for that reminder.

    13. 42*

      I’m so sorry to hear this Mike. I know how it feels to lose a parent without warning…please take care of yourself and accept offers for help if it meets a need. Sincere condolences to you and family from NJ.

    14. Jean who wants less physical & mental clutter*

      So sorry to learn of your sudden loss. I hope that everyone in your family will take care of each other collectively and individually.
      As others have said, be kind and patient with yourself. Grief runs on its own timetable.
      I will follow your advice and call my folks this afternoon.

    15. Mike C.*

      Hey, I just wanted to thank everyone for their messages of support. Seriously, it was a bright spot in a terrible weekend.

    16. Wearing a Mask for This*

      Mike, my thoughts are with you & your loved ones.
      What an honour to your mum’s memory by sharing your grief & encouraging others to call their own parents!

  18. Anonmatopeia*

    Long rant into the internet void in three, two …

    I feel that I’m irrationally furious with my in-laws — brother and sister in law and their families. MIL and FIL are deceased. They are all good people and I love them, but I feel abandoned by them. My husband, their brother, suffered a terrible life-changing sports accident a few years ago,and although he came most of they way back (I’m talking having to relearn everything again), he didn’t come back 100%. He had to take a medical retirement from a career and company he loved. We are fortunate in so, so many ways and have found our new normal. His family was spectacular in the most immediate moments of crisis and through the very harrowing early days of his long recovery. Since then, though, I kind of feel forgotten by them in that they don’t seem to realize that this major change in our life has meant that, in general, several things are harder for us. For instance, we’d love to travel, and have some, but it’s really, really hard for me to do without help with my husband. Part of his ongoing issues are memory lapses and organizational skills. We traveled to Europe last year and it nearly killed me shouldering all the burden of getting ready to go, navigating, customs, etc. traveling with others who understand our situation would make all the difference. His sibs travel extensively but never ask us along. We have the means and we are not hard to get along with. As I said, I love these people and they love us. My SIL posted recently that she, her young adult daughter and our young adult niece caught a touring broadway show in our city — “Just the girls.” Didn’t think to invite me. My sibs and their young adult kids, on the other hand, always remember to include us in different outings and trips. They aren’t world travel outings, but still…we are so happy to be included. My sibs provide support to us in that way and understand the help my husband sometimes needs. I’m to the point of a slow simmering rage with my inlaws. The SIL lives in my city, BIL travels here frequently. There’s supposed to be a big family get together in June centering around my SIL and a charitable cause of hers (that I assist her with, ironically) and I am not feeling it. I know how to constructively confront, but this one just has me silently boiling. Anyone else been there?

    1. Channel Z*

      Were you invited along before the accident to events? Maybe they just don’t know what you both want and need, or are not sure you up for it. And sure it’s hard for them to adjust to their brother’s changes. Have you talked to them directly about it, or asked for help yourself? It is hard to shoulder the burden by yourself, and natural to feel resentment. I hope you can get the support you need from them, and don’t forget to appreciate your own sibs.

      1. Anonomatopeia*

        Thank you. I so appreciate my own sibs. Totally lucked out in that deportment. I have mentioned to my hub’s sibs that long distance travel and complex activities are tough for us. My husband and I engage in those kinds of things, it’s just that it’s massively energy sucking for me. My sibs can take one look at me or me and my husband and know when to jump in for some subtle help. His, nope. I think that’s the part that annoys and angers me so. As I said, in the big wheel spin of life, we have been fortunate and my husband and I both feel that we choose brilliantly in the families we married in to.

        1. LaterKate*

          So, if someone told me that long distance travel was difficult for them, I would think that meant “don’t ask us to travel long distances, because it is so difficult” and then I would avoid asking because I wouldn’t want them to feel obligated. Maybe that’s just my frame of reference, because when I say “doing X is difficult with young kids” I mean “that is a huge hassle and if I do it, I’m doing it because it’s important to you, not because I want to.” Any chance they’ve misunderstood what you need/want?

          1. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

            I would tend to think that was a stronger hint to not invite them as well, but my default is that if I’m not sure, I’ll ask: does that mean you’d prefer not to be asked to join us on big trips like that? Or would it just depend on a case by case basis and you’d need accommodations?

            But then I’m familiar with having serious limitations and never feel inconvenienced if a friend has them as well and has to be accommodated. I think there are those who don’t want to cramp their style, and people who don’t notice when someone might need help may fit that category. :/

    2. Caro in the UK*

      It sounds like well meaning obliviousness, rather than malice. So I would definitely talk to them about it! If you don’t feel you can convey it verbally in the way that you want to, try writing a letter and give yourself time to digest, edit and reedit it before sending it.

      Good luck, you sound like you’re doing amazingly well in very challenging circumstances.

      1. Anonomatopeia*

        I think you are right. It’s obliviousness. I think that’s part of what bothers me. I mean, I know I’m spitting in the wind, but how can people be so oblivious? Thanks for the reply!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          People can be oblivious because they have never faced long term difficulty OR because they HAVE faced it and are burned out.

          My aunt used to say that with widowhood if the husband’s family sticks around that is called a miracle. I saw that in taking care of my husband, the family got pretty sparse. The people that showed up were my family, our friends and people from church. I am not sure why this goes this way and my aunt wasn’t sure either.

    3. Temperance*

      Do your husband’s siblings typically travel with their immediate family, or do they travel with each other? The answer to that question changes my advice. If they are not traveling with each other regularly, they honestly might not realize that you and your husband want to be included. I also wonder if it might be nice for you and your husband to reach out to them about taking a low-stakes trip together (like the shore). If they are traveling with each other regularly, they might have the mistaken assumption that your husband isn’t up to travel, because it does sound like it’s incredibly difficult for him to navigate without you handling it. You all have a very good relationship, so I think it’s worth discussing. I can see how it would be frustrating that his own siblings aren’t stepping up to include you, knowing the burden that this accident has had, but it sounds like they might be more ignorant than malicious.

      Could you get a break from caregiving, and maybe take these more intense trips with your own siblings or friends, and leave your husband with his sister for a period of time? I apologize if I am underestimating his abilities here.

      1. Anonomatopeia*

        Thanks Temperance. No need to apologize. Thankfully my husband abilities are generally pretty good. If you saw him out and about or talked with him, you probably wouldn’t notice any disability. The thing with traveling to places unfamiliar is that his navigation skills and organization skills fail him. In our home city, he’s fine navigating around. And you are right about his siblings; there is no maliciousness. They are around him enough to know his limitations, though, so the cluelessness on their part mystifies me. Ah well. Thanks for your thoughts!

    4. Turtlewings*

      They may assume that your husband is not able to travel and don’t want to cause pain by making you turn down invitations. Since they’ve otherwise been good to you, I would assume there’s nothing deliberate or mean-spirited about the exclusion, they just don’t realize that you could come with some assistance and would like to be invited. Maybe try suggesting a group trip somewhere.

    5. Dan*

      I learned a long time ago that if you want something to happen, you have to make it happen. You also can’t really make people want what you want or do what you want them to do.

      What I see in your post is you patiently waiting to get an invitation to the prom, and meanwhile, the object of your affection has no idea that you even want to go.

      Why can’t you ask around, see if people are interested, and if they are, put something together? As others have said, they may not know what you’re up for.

      Although, I do have to throw in a caveat… depending on what you’ve told your DH’s family about his needs and challenges, they may feel like it’s more than they want to deal with on vacation or that they will have to overly accommodate him. Part of your post reads as if you want some people to travel with so you have help with DH… you may be better off trying to bring paid help on your trip.

      On a bit of a side note…

      I do a lot of foreign travel. Last year, my mom, dad, and I took a two week transatlantic cruise. My dad has all of his faculties, but my mom is starting to have some diminished mental capacity. To say the least, I felt that accommodating her was a bit of a challenge. While I won’t say “never again”, I will say that you won’t find me “encouraging” mom to do something of that magnitude again. If she brings something up, fine, but unless she “offers”, I’m not encouraging it.

      1. Anonomatopeia*

        Thank you, Dan. I’d never hire help for this kind of thing and it’s not as you describe with your mom. And I’m so sorry your family is facing some challenges there. I can certainly approach my sibs in law about travel and we have invited them to many non-travel activities. Good luck to and with your mom.

      2. Temperance*

        My MIL has been on us for a while to plan a “family vacation”, because she dreams of taking her parents to the shore and she can’t do it alone. I feel bad for her predicament, but our vacation is supposed to be a break … and spending a day with those people isn’t even a little bit of a break, much less a week. They aren’t really disabled, but they are very grumpy, very fussy, and want things just so. (For example, if they want a meal, they only want to go to a buffet, and they don’t want to wait in any sort of line. Not. Possible.)

        She can’t afford to take them and they’re so demanding that she’ll need help, but we don’t want to chip in and spend time on a trip that would be less relaxing than just working and staying home to do chores. We would end up sleeping on the floor in the living room of a cramped vacation condo, which is fine if you’re in college and vacationing with friends, not so much if you’re an adult with a demanding job.

    6. LCL*

      The heart of it is this. ‘They don’t seem to realize…things are harder for us.’
      Have you told them this specifically and what you would like them to do? The fact they helped out so much in the early days shows they are willing to help. Ask them for help, with specifics.

    7. Ms Ida*

      I think the most constructive approach is to assume the in laws just are not aware of the support you need now. It sounds like they were great during the crisis and there to support you and they think your husband has recovered more than he has. They may just need to hear from you the specific support you need.

      Another suggestion, since your adult nieces/nephews on your side include you and presumably are more aware of the struggles your husband has they might a great resource for longer trips. I am guessing young adults would love an opportunity to travel more with some financial support in exchange for helping you with the logistics. For example you could pay for plane tickets in exchange for a niece handling the logistics at airports, train stations, making reservations , etc… You could go your separate ways for different activities but still know there is another adult you can depend on and can do some of the heavy lifting on organization side.

      1. Dan*

        I really like your suggestion in the second paragraph, that’s certainly more gentle than what I was getting at earlier.

    8. Susie*

      I’m so sorry you are going through this. Hugs to you and your husband.

      As someone who has been a caregiver, I would say that if you have an otherwise good relationship with them, they aren’t trying to hurt you on purpose. If they haven’t been caregivers in your situation they won’t know what you are feeling / going through. If you haven’t asked them for help or told them how you are feeling they probably think everything is okay. They may have said something like “if you need anything let us know” and since you haven’t they are just assuming everything is okay.

      It also might be awkward for them. These things are not easy for anyone and they might not know what to say or do. It doesn’t mean they don’t care. When it comes to inviting you to things, either alone or with your husband, they may not know your needs. They might not know you are able to travel or want to travel. They might not know you would like to go with the girls and not just spend your time with your husband or de-stressing on your own and having alone time. They may think you want space and don’t want to intrude. They might not want to upset the routine you and your husband have established.

      I would advise you to gently speak to them about how you are feeling, if your relationship is otherwise good. People who have never been caregivers don’t know what it’s like. They are family too. They may miss who he was and mourn for him. Tell them how you feel and what you need. If the relationships are otherwise good they may just be in their own bubble. It doesn’t mean they are bad people.

      Whatever happens, I wish you well. Your husband and you will be in my thoughts. Sending good vibes and love to you both.

      (I hope it does come across like I am piling on you for not “understanding” how they are feeling. I’m only trying to show the other side. I have been a caregiver and understand where you are coming from. I know it isn’t easy and I certainly don’t think you are wrong for feeling how you do)

      1. Susie*

        I hope is does *NOT come across. That was a typo. I didn’t mean to pile on when you were asking for support.

    9. Sibley*

      So, my dad’s side of the family sounds like your in-laws. It sucks to see pictures on facebook that are damning evidence that my dad was excluded, again. I just chalk it up to them being selfish and move on.

    10. Stellaaaaa*

      How does your husband feel about this? Part of me thinks that it’s his obligation to ask them for help. I personally would not feel comfortable acting as a go-between for my partner and his siblings, nor would I appreciate it if my partner asked my siblings for help on my behalf.

      I would also think about whether you want to be included or whether you want caretaking help. They are overlapping concepts in your case, but they are very different things to ask of other people. Feel free to ask for whatever help you need but if it comes down to you needing help with things like international travel, I would be prepared to offer to pay the other person’s way for them. Keep in mind that not everyone is cut out to be a caretaker, and it’s best not to try to convince other people to take on onerous tasks that they know they wouldn’t be good at. There are a lot of people out there who aren’t terrible people but nonetheless do not feel that being related to someone obligates them to pitch in. People will do it for a parent when the time comes but it’s not an automatic part of someone’s mental landscape to think to offer long-term help for a sibling who doesn’t appear to need it, who has a spouse to help out, and who doesn’t have children to care for on top of all of that.

      At the end of the day, is it 100% okay for you to ask for anything you want or need. After all, the worst that could happen is they say no. Your siblings are responding to your need for help. Your husband’s siblings are perceiving that he doesn’t need help, because he’s the one they have the long-term dynamic with.

      I hope none of this seems harsh. It sounds like a tough situation but the way I see it, there are a few different ways to approach the conversation. I really do think you should start with your husband. Find out if he wants his siblings’ help in the first place.

      1. Anonmatopeia*

        Thank you for your reply. Honestly, it does seem harsh. I think AAM can be a harsh place.

        To clarify. I’m not looking for a care taker. That’s not my intent at all. It’s much more along the lines of wanting to be included, as in hearing something from my husband’s sibs like, Hey, we’re thinking of a trip to the UK next summer. We know it’s easier for you guys if you can travel with others. Wanna go with? There’s no sense of obligation toward them for being caretakers from either me or my husband.

        1. Toots MaGoots*

          But it sounds like you DO want help “shouldering the burden” and that’s completely understandable. As others have pointed out, it’s on you to communicate that to your in-laws. And also to be clear about what you need. It sounds like it’s more than just being included. You say that it’s easier for you when you travel together. How? Again, it’s completely understandable. I think getting clear on what you really want/need is key — and communicating that to them. And, of course, allowing them to be honest in return about what they need and want.

          1. Anonomatopeia*

            It’s the planning and in-situ decision-making stuff with travel that is much easier and enjoyable if you don’t have to shoulder it all and can bounce to someone else at times. My husband isn’t great at that since his accident. I’m clear on what I need, I think. Funnily enough, I did mention this to my other SIL (BIL’s wife) in the context of me suggesting a trip we might all do together. Her response was, “Great! Plan it and let us know.” I can laughingly shake my head, but sheesh, that’s the stuff I need a break from. I do all the planning and major decision-making in our lives now with the exception of financial stuff, like investments. For some weird but wonderful reason all my husband’s knowledge and abilities in that area remained intact.

            1. Toots MaGoots*

              Yeah, that sounds pretty tone deaf. I’m sorry. Travel planning is a lot of work, especially when you’re doing it for two. I hope things work out however you want them to. Sometimes people can surprise you — in good ways.

    11. Gadfly*

      So, I’ve been through some of this with both parents (Dad had a pulmonary attack, Mom was injured in a car accident within a year of each other when I was 18/19). Sometimes the hardest part of helping with this is just being the one who has to make all the choices and do the thinking ahead. It really does take a LOT of mental and emotional energy. So am I understanding right that you just wish that maybe sometimes other people could be in charge of a lot of the decision making about what to do and where to go and stay so you can mostly have a break a just do what has been planned? And if there is a problem, say at customs, you aren’t the only one to try to explain the issue?

      I think most people who haven’t dealt with it just don’t understand what you are asking for, and assume you need help minding a person or more personal care, when you really just need a break from the what is basically the administrative side of caretaking more than anything. And I’ll be honest, I’d be better at helping my sister with a husband needing help than my SIL with my brother. There just is a different relationship with my sister and as much as I would want to help my brother, there would be a degree of uncertainty and fear of toe stepping/boundary crossing in dealing with my SIL. And I’d pick up on my sister’s hints far more easily–we share a native tongue of Gadflyese from babbling at each other since I was a toddler. My SIL I sometimes simply do not understand, even though we are both speaking English. They may need to be told what you need very clearly so they know that they understand and aren’t worried about misunderstandings.

      A suggestion for your husband to try if you haven’t that helped Dad a lot–he got a little pocket sized planner/calendar that fit with his wallet. He had some basic/generic information in the front and back that he needed help remembering at times, and he’d make little notes for what was needed that day or for upcoming events. His big issue was short term memory–the writing both gave him something to refer to and engaged other better/still functioning parts of his brain so a memory was more likely to form. And having something to refer to rather than having to ask people all the time really helped him be a lot more independent and to feel better about himself and more confident.

      1. Anonomatopeia*

        You’ve pegged the situation exactly right, Gadfly. It’s all tbe decision-making and administrative logistical stuff about travel (and even some closer to home activities) that can suck me dry if I can’t hand it off to someone else every once in a while. You know, divide and conquer. My husband doesn’t need personal care-taking as you mentioned. You get it. Thanks for your insight.

        1. ginger ale for all*

          Have you thought about using a travel agent to help with the planning? I know that it seems as if everyone should be able to plan trips by themselves with the internet but I think your circumstances prove that there is still a place for good travel agents.

    12. Coraggio*

      I agree with lots of the advice to talk to them about what you & your husband would like.

      Finding a younger family member to come with you is a great idea too.

      My grandmother used to travel with an adult grandchild in tow as she found the actual travel part of international travel hard. I was the lucky one who got to go and see polar bears with her! Of course there were some stressful moments – like not being able to find her passport to get on the flight that we couldn’t miss and losing her boarding pass between check in and boarding on another one! OMG. After that I held all travel docs. But otherwise she was a pleasure to travel with and it’s wonderful being able to talk with her now about it – she has pretty bad dementia.

    13. SeekingBetter*

      I’m sorry to hear your struggles with the in-laws. My advice would maybe try to tell them about planning a trip together sometime. I’m sorry to hear that traveling with your husband and only you is difficult. If you can get an extra pair of hands to help you both travel safely for near future trips, this would most likely make you feel better about your travels.

      I actually have a relative that needs help from two of our relatives in order to safely travel abroad. This relative goes on trips only once a year.

    14. Katie Beth*

      I agree that inviting a young adult family member along would be very useful. Or perhaps initiate a trip planning discussion with the family members you would like to travel with.

      But I think a huge factor is whether or not you all traveled together regularly before. Sometimes people prefer to travel in smaller groups and aren’t up for big group international trips. And, right or wrong, some people don’t want to be slowed down on their vacations. They would rather travel a certain pace and only travel with those who travel at a similar pace. That’s not good or bad, it’s just an individual preference.

      I think your best bet is to tell them you would like to all go on a trip together, outline what help you will need and see if they’re up for it.

      And, if they aren’t up for it, that doesn’t make them bad people (assuming they are otherwise kind). It just means that particular kind of travel doesn’t work for them. People have limited time and money for travel and want to use theirs differently.

      But the way to get the ball rolling is definitely to talk with them openly and see what they are thinking. They could be thrilled to travel with you and your husband but just thought you weren’t up for it.

      1. LaterKate*

        Great points, especially that if they only want to travel with each other or at a certain pace or to certain places, that doesn’t make them bad people in and of itself. I understand the desire to have help, but also agree that I am particular about how I spend my time/money in relation to vacations. If it’s going to end up not feeling like a vacation for them, it’s valid that they may not choose to spend their time/money traveling with you guys. (Of course, ideally they are happy to travel with you guys and are just oblivious.)

  19. Jude*

    Can any of you recommend a good and value-for-money compact mechanical keyboard for typing?

    I am toying with the idea of buying the keyboard for use at my work, which requires me to churn writeups and report.

    1. dr_silverware*

      I can’t recommend the website The Wirecutter enough! It and its sister site the sweet home are really really good for price-conscious consumer reviews.

    2. copy run start*

      I have this keyboard with the Cherry MX Brown keys, it’s been great for the past 4 years. Only thing is the paint is finally starting to wear off on a few keys, but I can touch type and there’s still a bit of an indent. No 10-key pad on the “small” version. Putting the Blue style since that’s most popular with typists I think.


    3. ABL*

      Check which key type you get… I forget which ones are which, but the difference between the quiet and loud keys is pretty huge. Any office/cube mates will hopefully not have an issue with the quiet ones but the loud ones might be another story.

  20. Michelle*

    Sort of a meta-question for this post: at what point do people stop reading/responding?

    Every week (for both open threads, but more so for the work one) posts towards the bottom will start with something like ‘I’m late but I hope someone reads this…’, but those are usually only a few hours after the thread opens. Do people just stop reading after a certain point? Do people not respond to later posts because they figure no one else will read it?

    1. Anon for This*

      Nah I think people skim or read from the bottom or whatever as they have time. Those posts are being overly self-conscious, and often get responses.

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        Maybe they’re daunted by the number of comments. I agree that they often get responses. I read from the top, but once you collapse the threads there may not be all that many anchor comments before you get to the “Coming in late…” ones. I tend to only open threads I’m interested in.

      2. Jessesgirl72*

        Yes, when the thread gets too long, I read from the bottom.

        I read and comment here and there until Sunday night.

    2. Sparkly Librarian*

      If I leave a comment and want to see others who commented on the same point or replied to me, I usually keep a tab open and refresh several times over 24 hours or so. Maybe 36 hours for an open thread or weekend free-for-all. But if I’m just reading, I don’t come back to a post after, oh, 2 hours. Exception being “first post of the day”, which comes up for me at 9PM: I read those just before bed (20-30 comments) and then refresh when I get up or on my way to work (200-300 comments).

      1. Dizzy Steinway*

        Whereas for me the first post ones come online just before I get up (UK) and I read them over my coffee!

    3. Thlayli*

      i just scrolled down on the Friday open thread to find a particular comment to see if there were any responses. Not kidding it took me nearly an hour to find it. There were no new responses.

      Someone said on Fridays open thread (paraphrasing) that the comment section is getting so big that the old system isn’t really working anymore. I agree.

      1. Hrovitnir*

        Yeah, I find threading makes it harder to find comments again – and particularly, to read new comments. But not threading results in a lot of “@Thayli” that you don’t know the context of, or big quotes so isn’t ideal either.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        One thing you can do is to bookmark the specific comment so it’s easy to come back to it later. (If you click on the blue date/time right above the comment, that’ll give you the link that goes straight to it.) Or you can just search for your own name, if you’re looking for your own comments.

        I don’t think the old system isn’t working. I think it’s certainly bigger, which means more unwieldy than it used to be … but I think people will still take what they want from it, as they always have.

        I’ve considered lots of other options, but the current one still seems like the simplest/most straightforward, and I put a high value on that. That said, if there’s a better system out there, I’d love to be pointed to it.

        (However, I am highly likely to begin requiring registration at some point, which will likely cut down on comment numbers.)

        1. Hrovitnir*

          I did not know you could do that! Cool. (I generally do the name searching.) I also have no idea what the ideal comment section approach is, and wish I did.

      3. Someone*

        If you remember the username and/or some keywords from that post ctrl+f (word search) is your friend. It’s what I have done in the past.

    4. Hrovitnir*

      I don’t stop reading necessarily unless I’m really tired and start skimming, but if it’s a huge comment section I run out of the will to *reply* unless it’s something that’s someone who needs support without advice or something I have personal experience with. That only really hits about 800 comments, maybe?

      I think for regular question threads, because Alison is so prolific people don’t necessarily go and check the comments again after they first look so later replies are seen by less people.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I always think it’s interesting when people comment on very old posts. I think I know that pull of “I have to say something about this, even if only one other person ever sees it.”

        1. Hrovitnir*

          I usually don’t comment if we’re talking months to years, but if feel really strongly it’s hard. :D

        2. fposte*

          Sometimes it’s just that I forget which tab I wanted to answer on :-). But when I browse the archives, I do look for those late posts–they seem to range from the unhinged to the desperate.

          1. JBinNC*

            I’ve been working on the archives here for a couple of months now (I’m up to April 2015) and it does seem like there are a lot of late posts that are so weird and/or random.

          2. dawbs*

            I think I did that this week.
            Reading a current post AND an old post that a commenter referenced.
            I’m fairly sure I intended to comment on the current post and commented on the old one. Whoops.
            So, sorry to zombie thread something 2 years old or whatnot.

        3. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Sometimes I forget that it’s an old post, and I respond if I’m moved to do so. And then I’m like, “D’oh! Old post!”

        4. Manager On a Break*

          Sometimes I just have to say something. Even if *no* other person ever sees it.
          Especially when I’m not in the office and forced to filter all my thoughts through all of the PC, HR, and Legal thought-filters necessary to keep a manager’s job these days. :)

          I’ve been an intermittent reader, for years, but was never much for commenting, anywhere, until recently.
          It’s a bit frustrating when you can’t comment on some older ones. I just bug my wife with them. “Hey, listen to this crap!”
          You’ve had some real doozies here. The one where the person stole someone’s food and was in cahoots with the HR person to get the victim fired because the food was too spicy was one that I just read, for instance. Crazy stuff. :)
          Anyhow… I hope people keep being as “interesting” as they have been. Keep up the good work.

          1. Halpful*

            me too… or I don’t notice the date until just after I hit submit, and then feel bad. :/

            I was really sad to be late to the “bloody hell” post – I had a funny story, and a few other things, but it just feels weird to post now, especially with so many *many* comments already there.

            and I actually came here to comment on the comment features, but I’m starting to forget what.. oh I had an actual idea… I can’t decide whether to post it as a reply to what inspired it (a post a couple of days old at least) or just dump it in here somewhere. this would be so much simpler if my anxiety didn’t insist on complicating it all.

    5. Sherm*

      I admit that I won’t write if I think no one will read, but for the open threads I figure that there’s a good chance that the person who posted late in the game will come back to look for replies. So, if I think I have something helpful to say, I’ll write in. For non-open thread posts that get many hundreds of comments, they pretty much all get repetitive after a point. I have read every single comment for posts I was intensely interested in, but often I tune out and return to work (Yeah I read AAM at work) or whatever. As for posting, I realize that the OPs, even the ones who haven’t chimed in, may be reading through all the posts, but usually at a late time point I don’t feel I really have anything to add.

    6. CAA*

      Someone posted one of those “I know it’s late…” comments a couple of weeks ago at 9:00 AM US Pacific time! I admit I rolled my eyes at that because at the time there weren’t even half as many comments as the open thread usually gets.

      On Saturday mornings, if I’m around, I usually do two things with the Friday thread:
      – skim from the bottom up to see if there’s anything interesting that I hadn’t already read/responded to
      – ctrl+f and search for my name and jump to my previous posts to see if anyone has replied to me and is waiting for me to respond to them

      This morning I posted twice in the Friday thread.

    7. SophieChotek*

      I read when I have time and energy. (And need something to do.) If I am busy on the weekends, the sometimes I don’t make it over except for a little bit.

      I don’t have a lot of response so I know I cannot bring much to the discussion, but I try to read most of it when I can. Once the thread gets really long, I tend to scroll down to the end to read backwards; that helps me sometimes with what I have/have not read already.

    8. AcademiaNut*

      Time-zone wise, I come in on the most of the comments when they’re pretty full, so while I read the comments, I usually don’t add to them. From what I’ve noticed, the last few comments on the thread very rarely are commented on, and the number of comments ticker usually doesn’t increase by more than a few once I get to them. So I would say that most people have finished reading and commenting within about six hours of the post going up, for the daytime posts, but are maybe monitoring their own, or the OP’s replies.

      The work open thread is usually over 1000 posts by the time I see it with my morning coffee.

    9. Elizabeth West*

      I usually go back to the open thread/weekend posts at least a couple of times. Or if there is one I commented a lot on, I’ll go back to see if anyone responded. The rest I just read through if I’m interested in most of the letters, if it’s a short-answer post, or if there aren’t too many comments. If they get super repetitive, I quit and move on to the next post.

    10. Chaordic One*

      I don’t usually get to AAM until late in the day. Often times when there’s a “I’m late but I hope someone reads this…” kind of comment and no one else has commented I will do so if I think I can offer a worthwhile response. I try to answer the question sensibly and I ask myself WWAD, because I think but everyone should get some consideration, but of course sometimes it really is too late and sometimes I just can’t think of even a good (not great) response.

  21. Sibley*

    Wish me luck! Leaving in just a few minutes to look at houses to buy, and I’m really tired of this process. Hoping I find one I like (and passes inspection)!

    1. Sibley*

      Update: found a house. Offer in, seller has until tomorrow 4pm to respond. Crossing fingers.

      Then crossing fingers that the house passes inspection, because I had another one (about 2 blocks away actually!) that didn’t.

      1. SophieChotek*

        Congrats on finding something. Hope it all works out. (My parents just got an offer on their house…and are hoping that their house passes inspection). So, by proxy, I understand the anticipation from either side.

    2. Jessesgirl72*

      Good Luck!

      My Sister-in-Law and her husband finally gave up and signed a new lease after a few months of losing money on inspections (and a couple REALLY shady sellers- one of which tried to keep the earnest money after something they’d deliberately tried to hide was discovered!)

  22. Lemon Zinger*

    I don’t usually make it to the free-for-all, but I’m working this morning (a special event on behalf of my boss) and had some time to kill. Happy weekend, everyone!

  23. Charlene*

    So after the gender-neutral question a few days ago (between that the bird post this has been a busy week…), I tried to look up a bit more on how such pronouns worked and what the rules (if any had been formalised) apply. That…lead to some interesting (in both good and bad ways) posts on tumblr, one of which stated:

    “You know, it pisses me off whenever I hear people saying “all words in the English language were made up, so why can’t we make new pronouns?” and “new words are made every day, why can’t people accept my bunself pronouns?”

    Let me nerd out for a hot second and teach you guys a little linguistics. There are two lexical categories. Words in the “open” classes are nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. It’s called open because new words are constantly added. I can make up a word right now, and as long as it has a meaning and is in an open class, people will be able to use it.

    Then there’s the “closed” class. This includes prepositions, determiners, conjunctions, and yes, pronouns. Additions to the closed classes are very rare and difficult to grasp because they are part of the core of a language. You can’t just add things to a closed class because it just won’t work. It takes time to add or change things in closed classes, just look at how long it took for the singular “they” to become acceptable (and even then, it’s not entirely integrated into the English language yet).

    That’s why trying to add new pronouns simply does not work.”


    (Just to emphasis, those are NOT my words, and they’re from a blog with the username ‘badsjw’, so take that as you will).


      1. Hrovitnir*

        Haha, strangely you sometimes get some great information from people with unbelievably weird user names. But then, I see Tumblr as being like Facebook – it only sucks if everyone you follow sucks.

      2. Detective Amy Santiago*

        My input: don’t go looking for intelligent discussion of this on Tumblr

        That’s my personal experience with Tumblr.

    1. Myrin*

      I think fposte had some really great thoughts in the comment section of that post which could almost be seen as a commentary on this comment you quoted here!

      That being said, I agree with Alison, although not 100%. I have a tumblr and read interesting, thoughtful, and intelligent discussions on various topics on there all the time; which is reasonable because thoughtful and intelligent people have tumblrs, too, and are often happy to discuss a topic they know a lot about. At the same time, I’ve come to find a lot of the discussion on there exhausting because it’s so aggressive and oftentimes doesn’t seem to allow for the grey areas that can be found pretty much everyhwere (for example when it comes to the development and use of pronouns).

      1. KR*

        I agree that there tends to be not enough space for the grey areas in life on Tumblr. Either someone is awesome or terrible. Some blogs tend to take things really personally too. If you say something that’s a different point of view you are a bad and awful person, blablabla. There also tends to be a lot of, “This thing happened and it’s terrible and you’re all bad people for not blogging about it!” for something that’s local to a specific area, or not well covered in the news, or just not something you might want to reblog on your own blog.

    2. Channel Z*

      Pronouns are certainly harder to change, but not impossible. Nobody says thee or thou anymore. And “you guys” is essentially a new pronoun for plural you, and is gender specific (and annoying IMO). I’m not southern, but I prefer y’all.

      1. fposte*

        Losing a use is always going to be easier than adding a new one. I think you’re right, though, that lots of English patterns are trying to recreate the plural second person.

        I was curious about non-English languages, especially languages with gendered nouns, and their approaches to non-binary pronouns; I didn’t get very far, because the discussions in English I kept finding seemed to be people who were trying to advocate terms rather than describing efforts already underway. Anybody know what other languages are doing?

        1. The RO-Cat*

          French and spanish seem to be looking for neutral pronouns, but have a long way still to go (look for Élle (pronombre) on Wikipedia and for “iel” on Wiktionary ). My own language didn’t even touch the issue. Slavic languages seem to be so complicated they didn’t even try.

          I found a good comment on this on duolingo (https://www[dot]duolingo[dot]com/comment/10255879 – to avoid moderation)

        2. AcademiaNut*

          In Mandarin Chinese, “he” and “she” (and their derivatives) use slightly different characters, but are pronounced identically (他 and 她, pronounced tā). The word for person (人, rén) can be used by itself, or modified for man or woman (男人 and 女人 respectively). And there are no genders within the language itself.

          Something like French, though, would have a really hard time, as you’d not only need neutral pronouns, but would also need to create a new set of neutral-gender adjectives (or default to masculine, which has it’s own issues).

      2. Freddled Gruntbugly*

        I’ve used “guys” as a plural pronoun for years now, as have many of my friends and acquaintance, and it’s been understood as gender neutral, even when used to a group of women only. Very useful.

    3. Temperance*

      Quite honestly, whenever I see the word “sjw”, I know that there is nothing of value to me in whatever the person is saying or will say. That being said, it takes no effort to call a person what they want to be called, even if you personally find their pronoun choice to be weird, silly, or made up.

      1. Turtlewings*

        Eh, I don’t think you can say it takes no effort to use unusual pronouns. I’ve never known anyone who requested them, but even trying to imagine training myself to use random syllables as pronouns — and only for that specific person! — makes my brain hurt. Not that I wouldn’t try, but I’ve never even totally adjusted to using “it” for a genderfluid book character that I’ve read about in over a dozen books (that’s the pronoun it chose for itself). I’m really glad to have the explanation of “open” vs. “closed” categories above to articulate why pronouns are so much harder than verbs and nouns.

        1. Temperance*

          That’s totally valid! What I was thinking was more along the lines of “being decent isn’t hard”, but you’re absolutely right. I know a person through work who uses gender neutral pronouns, and I always trip over it a big because I feel like I’m using bad grammar.

        2. Zathras*

          I remember reading somewhere about a person – possibly a commenter here? – who decided to use gender neutral pronouns for her cats. It gave her enough consistent verbal practice to get used to them and make them easier to use with people as needed, but it didn’t matter how many times she screwed up in the beginning because cats don’t actually care about pronouns. I thought that was brilliant.

        3. AcademiaNut*

          The other issue is the one of establishing a *single* new standard.

          I’ve seen this in tech. We have an oddball data file format we use in my field. It’s a bit clunky, but it’s well established, has been used for decades, and is well supported. If you get 20 programmer types in a room, they’ll all agree that it’s antiquated and clunky and needs to go, but will have 20 different ideas for what should replace it. So you end up with multiple attempts to replace it, used in little corners of the field, but 90% of people are just going to keep on using the old version.

          So even with the best of intentions, you’re going to get multiple competing replacements for the old system, plus a bunch of people who vehemently don’t want it applied to them, and it’s going to take decades, if not generations, to settle on a single convention and get people used to it.

    4. BBBizAnalyst*

      Tumblr, in my opinion, is at the extreme part of the sjw spectrum. On there, a ton of users identify everything as misogynistic, problematic, promoting patriarchy or some form of erasure… I would take tumblr with a grain of salt. Unless you love rolling your eyes, I don’t consider that site a good source to get educated on issues.

      1. Squeeble*

        I’m glad others feel this way! I’m very interested in social justice issues and activism (and don’t consider “SJW” an insult), but Tumblr always felt a bit too heavy for me.

    5. Hrovitnir*

      Much like Temperance, if you use the word “sjw” seriously I’m going to stop reading because you are clearly not here in good faith (though that person may mean that they ID with social justice but not like *those other people*. Not that much better.) Plus, of course, there’s the oft-cited fact that singular they has been around for a long time, and was used by Shakespeare; and in fact is used by most people commonly.

      There are specific sentence structures in which it’s awkward but I’m strangely rather more invested in not misgendering people than being a language prescriptivist. Pronouns like xe and ze are a great idea to me in theory but somehow I am far more comfortable with singular they because it’s a word I use anyway.

      Of course, I’m in Sweden at the moment. Han = he, hon = she, and there is now “hen”, which is ungendered. Niiice. I kind of love our teacher for teaching us about that (it’s not in the book), though she mentioned that if we use it we might be seen as feminists (oh no!). Haha.

    6. Dan*

      I am not a linguist, although I do computational linguistics at work. (Writing computer algorithms to analyze text in a domain-specific reporting system.)

      First things first, I think the quoted person is on to something, because methinks if it were so easy to add gender neutral pronouns to the English language, we would have done so a long time ago. I do find it interesting that we have gender-neutral pronouns for first person and second person, but third person singular is gendered.

      Some of the stuff I have to deal with at work is identifying words or terms that are domain-specific but not considered part of the typical English lexicon. It’s bad enough that I’ve identified over 1,000 acronyms that are specific to our industry, but even worse, some of those acronyms get bastardized into verbs and adjectives and what not.

      I guess my point to all of that is that while words can be added to the language, it’s actually quite difficult to determine what’s an actual word vs something that’s getting misused. If it’s misused often enough, does it then become a proper word? If so, who decides that?

      1. fposte*

        Whoever’s the authority in front of you :-). More specifically, dictionaries have staff and advisory boards who make calls on these things, while style guides will usually depend on a field authority like MLA, Chicago, APA, etc. with its own staff. And dictionaries mostly run toward the descriptive–they’re saying that people *do* use the word this way, though they might nod to a term’s being slang or dubious or whatever–while style guides are going to be more prescriptive–telling you how people *should* use the word.

        But there’s never going to be complete agreement on changes–it’s like anything else in culture. It’s mostly a question of figuring out your audience and deciding how you’re representing yourself, same as in dress.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          When I was growing up I could not use the word “kid” in my house. It was not a proper word. Of course, I used it more often because of this rule. I was that kind of kid. ;)

    7. Jillociraptor*

      I’m not following. To me, it sounds like it’s begging the question: pronouns are hard to change because they’re a closed class, and they’re a closed class because they’re hard to change?

      In full transparency, for me, these kinds of arguments about structures that exist independently of human choices and actions (even if unconscious) are typically pretty suspect. To my mind, the reason pronouns are so tricky to change (or new pronouns are so tricky to accept) is that the male/female binary is very central to our society. Classing someone as male or female is essential to determining our expectations for how they are supposed to act, and how we are supposed to act toward them. It’s very uncomfortable (like, existentially uncomfortable) to not be able to have that heuristic. Think of how uncomfortable some people get when they can’t tell the sex of a baby (and all those little velcro bows parents buy so people know their baby is a girl)!.

      It’s pretty suspicious to me when someone claims that “Oops, sorry, not my call, it’s SCIENCE!” to not be able to accommodate the needs of others or coexist with folks who are different from you. Lots of pretty icky historical examples of that…

      1. fposte*

        I see where you’re going, but I do think that there are pretty inarguably aspects of language that are harder to change than others; I think if the movement was uniformly for a generalized “their” it would have more traction than if it involved new words with unusual orthography. I’m not saying it can’t happen; the internet is, I think, unprecedented for linguistic dissemination, so who knows where it could take us? But I think it would be hard.

        1. Jillociraptor*

          I might not be fully understanding you (or the linguistics behind this — I took one sociolinguistics class in college, which is probably more dangerous than knowing nothing). Thanks for your patience if that’s the case.

          I buy the descriptive claim that structures in language create varying degrees of difficulty in innovations or change, but not the normative one, that therefore we shouldn’t or can’t advocate for those changes. I also disagree that the linguistic structure argument is the most useful for understanding why different gender pronouns haven’t caught on in English. In light of the persistent discrimination against people whose gender isn’t well-captured by a male/female binary, I’m inclined to think that it’s more useful to think of this as a social phenomenon rather than a linguistic one. And I think that the so-what of this debate sits firmly in the sociopolitical sphere rather than the linguistic one.

          So, maybe put another way, I don’t disagree that some aspects of language are harder to change than others, but I’m also not sure of what usefully follows from that argument to this discussion. Some aspects of language, including pronouns, are harder to change than others, so…everyone should just use pronouns that already exist? I’m just not sure about what the upshot is from the descriptive claim.

          1. fposte*

            I think you’re raising a fair point that the pronoun strand is not an obviously actionable line of discussion on it. But I’m accustomed to spheres where the linguistic and the social are inseparable and where also discussions like this influence official categories in things like subject headings (check out the Library of Congress history on “Afro-American,” for instance) and official style practice and guidance, so it’s not just an intellectual exercise for me, either.

            But it may be a discussion that’s best kept to spheres where that’s the matter on the table, too.

          2. Ann O.*

            I don’t think that’s the argument made in the quoted content. I do have some linguistics background, although I am not a linguist, so I’m going to take a stab at this.

            What I took out of the open/closed distinction is pointing to ease of change. Think of Lewis Carroll’s nonsense poems: ‘Twas brillig and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe. He completely made up brillig, slithy toves, gyre, gimble, and wave. He didn’t make up “‘Twas, and the, in the” The former are nouns, verbs, and adjectives– the open category. The latter are prepositions, conjunctions, articles — the closed category.

            Now imagine he wrote: “Brillig morning slithy toves fluffy cat did run slithy hop gyre gimble valley.” Oooh, that made my head hurt just to try and keep track of the grammar to compose accurately! I may have made mistakes.

            The closed category words give the grammatical structure to the sentence. We need them to be regular in order to understand the structure. Nouns, adjectives, and verbs are functionally variables. We get some understanding of them even when they’re gibberish.

            But you’re correct to feel that nothing is 100% closed. Harder doesn’t mean impossible. But it is harder. The early science-fiction books that played with gender pronouns were able to get their meaning across, but they just picked one substitution. It’s harder for our brains to swap to something like “xe ran and got xir warm coffee, then xe drank it quickly” (and even harder for something like “pz ran and got ie coffee, then pz drank it quickly”) but with consistency we can do it.

            When there’s no consistency, it’s really really hard to the point where I am skeptical that the extreme form of personal pronouns is unlikely to be widely adopted. I think it’s more likely we’ll standardize on the gender-neutral they/their and possibly one or two additional categories to reflect genderfluidity and non-binary.

        2. Myrin*

          I completely agree.

          I also think that, hm, how do I best say that? The issue is based very much in real life and actual people – there are people who don’t feel like they’re one gender or another or always the same gender, stuff like that. But I feel like the discussion around pronouns is very much usually theoretical (at least in my language; I feel like that might be a bit different in English although I have no way of knowing) and doesn’t really apply to reality. I don’t know if I’m expressing this weirdly.

          Point being, I have never once in my life actually needed to refer to someone by using an un-gendered pronoun.

          I think people on the internet or those who are very involved with gender politics often underestimate how in reality, people will take their cues from what someone looks like, full stop. If they can’t tell from someone’s face, they will move on to clothes or hairstyle. If they can’t tell from that, either, they’ll look more closely at their body’s shape or their voice or their name. And the thing is, they will be right most of the time. That’s certainly not perfect and has a chance of embarrassment or even erasure, but it is reality and I feel like people sometimes get so caught up in how it should be that they completely disregard how it actually is.

          Coming back to my point of never having needed to used an un-gendered pronoun: The above paragraph is the reason for that. That obviously doesn’t mean that I haven’t met non-binary or intersex people before but if I did, I don’t know it. As someone who is interested in gender dynamics, I am aware of that, but I’d guess that generally, most people are not. And I’d say that’s the reason why gender-neutral pronouns haven’t caught on (in my language itself, there’s also the added factor of being able to just refer to someone as “person” or “human” which are grammatically gendered words so you’ll again end up with female and male pronouns respectively) – they aren’t needed by huge parts of the population. If I can go all my life without using a gender-neutral pronoun, why should I learn to do so, after all?

          Which of course doesn’t mean that there aren’t many folks who’d much rather not be refered to by a male or female pronoun. But your average Joe is not going to be aware of that, and despite there probably being more nb or intersex or genderfluid people than we’d think, they are still much fewer in numbers than people who are either male or female, so average Joe can probably go about his life without ever learning about them. Which is a bit of a vicious circle: people don’t know about non-binary – actual non-binary people don’t come out for fear of being ridiculed or even hurt – people don’t know about non-binary because they don’t know anyone who belongs to that category. But I don’t think theoretical musings and progressive internet comments can really change all of that if it’s not incorporated in “real life” in a way.

          (I don’t have a solution, btw. We like concrete rules in my country and since it was ruled law a couple of years ago that people of unclear gender can now officially “have” a third gender, I’d like to think that people are generally becoming more aware of it. I feel like intensively learning about it in school might be a good way as well as certain language authorities making one official rule of how to refer to people, but I don’t know.)

      2. Overeducated*

        I do have linguistics background. The statement is correct but it’s just descriptive. Pronouns are called a closed class because they are harder to change. That isn’t a “should” statement saying therefore no one can try to change them. Linguistics describes how language works. Once you get into how it should work you’re talking politics (with a small p).

        It leads me to think efforts to make the singular “they” standard are likely to have more mainstream success than new pronouns. It doesn’t lead me to argue with people who want to be called something else or refuse to use their preferred pronoun, because it’s not my fight and I try not to be a jerk.

        1. Overeducated*

          Just saw your post above, I think we were typing at the same time. I was responding more to the question about whether the category was valid, not the argument the Tumblr post was making (I skimmed the last line and would prefer not to be associated with “badsjw”…..). On the argument I agree with you, which is why I think it’s a question of politics with a small p, not linguistics.

          1. Jillociraptor*

            Got it! I appreciate understanding more about how the linguistic argument is meant to function. Thanks for sharing your expertise!

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Language changes to suit the needs of the people that it serves.

        The idea that a group of words is a “closed class” is amusing to me. This lays the foundation for a challenge. And we all know what happens when there is a challenge, someone tears down that wall. I don’t think we need to wait for those elite decision makers to decide on something. However, I also tend to believe that everything moves in the direction with the people currently living life and going about life. Some stuff is slow and lags behind, but it does change.

    8. Tau*

      OK, I’m a NB person who used to use invented pronouns. I have very complicated and intense feelings about invented pronouns and this sort of thing, let me see if I can unpack them…

      So I have a teeny bit of linguistics background that I’m willing to stretch as far as it will go, and I’m familiar with the issue stated here. In fact, the first time I encountered invented pronouns, I went “…I don’t think those are going to become mainstream,” for much the reason stated here. I am skeptical that in twenty years’ time, everyone will be comfortably throwing around “xe” or “ey” as easily as they say “she” or “he”. I’d be delighted if it happened, but it’s true that the way linguistics works means it’s unlikely.

      And yet…

      Does that mean it’s not worth trying anyway?


      If you use this kind of theoretical argument about language change as a reason to justify why you won’t use invented pronouns* or people shouldn’t invent pronouns, you are being an ass.

      Yes, using invented pronouns may feel linguistically weird in a way that using an invented noun doesn’t. Y’know what? It feels weird to the nonbinary person in question, too! But they/we use them anyway because it’s the best of a bunch of bad options. Nobody gets out of bed in the morning and goes “hey, I think it’d be fun to ask to be addressed with a pronoun no one’s heard about before and which will get me a lot of sanctimonious lectures about how language change works.” But if being called ‘he’ feels like you’re being punched in the gut, and being called ‘she’ feels the same, and ‘they’ isn’t much better, and we’re not even going to consider ‘it’, well… there aren’t really any options left, are they? A lot of the times, what’s behind invented pronouns is a lot of desperation and pain, and having people who’ve never been in that situation ignore that in favour of these sorts of intellectual exercises makes me really angry.

      * unless you don’t use any pronouns for the person at all. For me, as for I suspect a bunch of NB people, this is actually the ideal state. However, it’s so hideously awkward to do that I’ve never found it fair to demand from people.

    9. YetAnotherAnon*

      Ask them about the word “thou”. In English, “you” used to be a second person formal pronoun (the “V” part of the T/V distinction), and “thou” was second person informal. Sometime around the 1600s, we lost “thou”. A similar change occurred in Danish, and changes in usage have been observed more recently in languages such as French and German. Pronouns are certainly not impossible to change – and even new nouns and verbs take time to become commonly used in a language. (See this article: http://www.slate.com/blogs/lexicon_valley/2014/05/01/mean_girls_slang_fetch_10_years_later_why_it_didn_t_catch_on_according_to.html by a linguist.)

      1. Myrin*

        I’m German and I haven’t seen any change in usage of “du” and “Sie” – do you have a source for that? Because unless I’m misunderstanding, that binary is very firmly in place.

        1. Tau*

          I think what they may be referring to is a slow expansion of the use of “Du”, with adults using “Du” for each other more than they used to. I live in the UK and I’ve definitely noticed that when I come back I get called “Du” a lot more than I’d expect based on the rules I learned as a kid.

          But you’re right that “Sie” isn’t going away anytime soon, and a lot of the time I see this reported by non-German speakers they seem to think we’re on the brink of the single second person pronoun.

        2. Someone*

          It’s complicated.

          I’m also German, 25 years old, currently meeting a lot of strangers because I’m moving out of my tiny flat and am trying to find someone who’ll rent it after me.
          So… being 25 (still at university) I use “du” with fellow students/most people who look about my age but have been an adult for long enough to have come to expect “Sie” from kids and older adults (and it feels VERY strange when they don’t do that). But determining the right pronoun with strangers is a tap dance. When I’m not sure how old someone is, or when that one looks more… informal, or whatever, I prefer “du”. “Sie” just seems unnecessarily formal in that case. On the other hand, as soon as there’s a significant age gap (especially if that person is much older) I’d probably fight to death for my right to be referred to as “Sie”. It’s a respect thing.
          But I’m honestly not sure if I’ll ever get used to calling peers “Sie”.

          Regarding the (more) adult world – my father is in (upper?) management and some time ago confessed that he’s come to offering pretty much anyone at work the “du”. Reason being, he meets so many people nowadays he’s supposed to know that remembering whether they’re “du” or “Sie” gets far too complicated, and since a good number are already expecting the “du”, the simplest way of smoothing out that difference is to use it for everyone he knows.

          So it MIGHT actually be changing. But I wouldn’t bet on it. Most adults would probably still be somewhat offended if strangers/acquaintances called them “du”. I know I would.

          1. the gold digger*

            I work for a global company with headquarters in Germany. It’s funny to me, as an American, to see emails from some of the Germans signed as “Dr” whomever, even if the person does not have a PhD. The American PhDs I work with sometimes don’t even note so in their email template signatures and always write just their first names in their signatures.

            I call everyone at work by their first name, including my grandboss, who has a PhD. The only people I call “Doctor” are my doctor and my dentist and even with my dentist, who is my age, I have started calling him “Mark” (not randomly – that is his name). The only people I address as “Mr” or “Mrs” are the parents of my friends. I wonder if this bothers the Germans who sign themselves as “Dr” so and so. (And they aren’t even doctors!)

            1. Myrin*

              That must be something with those people in particular, though, because you definitely can’t just go around and call yourself “Dr.” willy-nilly here – it’s absolutely considered pretentious at best and fraudulent at worst. I wonder if there is some kind of disconnect? Because it’s not called “PhD” here, it’s “Dr. phil.”, so maybe that causes confusion? But other than that, even in my academic environment, where it’s normal to have your title in your automated signatures and on official documents and so on, it’s a bit out there to actually sign things you wrote using your titel unless it’s something very official (like a university’s president sending an announcement to all students, for example).

            2. Tau*

              Agreed with Myrin, it strikes me as very weird that you have people without doctorates calling themselves “Dr.” and that that wouldn’t generally fly here. Unless by “don’t have a PhD” you mean they have a Dr. rer. nat. or a Dr.-Ing. or the like.

              As for the rest of it… yeah, I’m used to the UK/US style of first names all the time as well, and it was deeply disconcerting when I was in hospital in Germany and all the staff called me “Frau Tausurname”. However, I think it’s important to remember that these are cultural differences where neither way is wrong. To Americans, the German way of staying more formal can come across as cold and unfriendly. To Germans, the American way can come across as superficial and fake, because you’re doing the things that (to them) signal deep friendship with what are effectively random strangers. It’s all about what’s typical in your culture and what things like a first-name basis connotates.

          2. Myrin*

            Ach so, okay, yeah, I totally get that – your experience in the first paragraph matches mine pretty much exactly.

            1. Tau*

              I sometimes wonder if it’s my/our generation that are driving the change, because we just don’t want to stop using Du with each other. :) I definitely know that the rule of thumb I was taught growing up was that apart from the obvious categories of kids, relatives and close friends, adults would call each other “Du” if they were both students, or if they were members of the same political party/similar organisation. Otherwise “Sie”. This has been distinctly inaccurate. By now it feels more like “if two people under the age of 35 or so meet in an informal situation, they’ll probably call each other du.”

              Although it could also be influence from the English-speaking world. I’ve definitely ended up on a Du basis with people where I normally wouldn’t have, but we’re in an English-speaking environment where first names are the norm, and you can’t really switch between first-name/surname basis when you switch languages, and it would be really weird to be calling each other by your first names and “Sie”… this is how I ended up on a Du basis with basically every single German I met in the UK.

        3. YetAnotherAnon*

          Sorry – what Tau mentioned was the intent behind that post; I only have anecdotal evidence at hand: I’ve been told that I’m being too formal and should use “du” when speaking/typing German (even with total strangers), I’ve noticed other German learners say that they’ve experienced the same, and I’ve read multiple articles on language blogs by native German speakers who say their preferences on pronouns have changed – usually to prefer “du”, even from significantly younger people. It’s possible that as a native English speaker, I’m missing some context for this, however.

    10. Mazzy*

      Don’t get me started:-). Many of the Tumblr types seem super condescending about these topics. They think everyone should know everything about new gender pronouns, while ignoring any shortcomings in the knowledge they have – and completely fail to acknowledge how new these things are. And why do I assume they aren’t as smart as they’d like to come across? Because in many of the videos and articles I’ve seen about these topics, there is no historical or social context, they either cherry pick minute points from history to fit their story and then base their whole thesis on it, or the social context is 2010-forward, all the while claiming that the issue they are talking about has been a normal part of society forever.

      So they can act like “gender queer” and other such words have been part of English vernacular for decades, meanwhile, the average joe on the street still has no clue what “cis” means. But that is not a measure of his or her intelligence. They probably know about a lot of things that you don’t!

      That letter got me thinking about what issues should be important in society. I remember the war on drugs and crime and a lot of exposes on cults and child abuse and battered women and such and I’m just not seeing many news stories on those types of issues coming out. Not to belittle transgender issues, but there are other things going on in the world that need media space as well. I think some of the folks on sites like Tumblr live in a privileged middle class bubble and aren’t talking about the other issues out there because they don’t deal with them.

  24. Audiophile*

    The apartment hunt continues. There are some co-ops on the market for less than 100k, including one in the town I grew up in. While I’m not in a position right now to buy, it’s nice to see I might not be completely priced out of the state.

    It’s very difficult to find something under $2000 as someone else said, even more so since I’m looking for something under $1500. Westchester’s affordable housing listing has been pretty useful, but since I need parking and really don’t want to switch lines by moving to the Hudson line (if I moved to the Rye, Harrison, Port Chester area) or New Haven (by moving to CT), it’s made it harder.

    A couple of coworkers who commute from Jersey have suggested moving out there. Apparently there are affordable apartments in Jersey City and Hoboken, but with all the Penn Station/Amtrak issues lately that concerns me.

    Gypsy Housing has been pretty interesting to watch, some nice apartments. If I didn’t have a car, I’d consider it. Had no real luck in the local FB group I’m in.

    1. Katriona*

      FWIW I work in Jersey City and while I don’t go into Manhattan often, my boss and her family commute via the PATH every day and have found it to be pretty reliable. Good luck with the apartment hunt!

      1. Audiophile*

        I know there’s a PATH station a few blocks from my office.

        I should really look into a few places in Long Island, since my office is in Chelsea, that would be the most sensible commute. But the Harlem line to Grand Central, especially if I was White Plains, would be 30 to 45 minutes. Because I’m so far north on the Harlem line, it takes over an hour.

      2. mreasy*

        One of my coworkers lives in Jersey City and reliably makes it into our Soho office every day. I think those of use who deal with the L/J linea from Brooklyn have more issues, on balance, than he does.

    2. Call me St. Vincent*

      I wouldn’t recommend living in New Haven if you are commuting to NYC. New Haven is a fantastic city on its own though with awesome food, concerts, theater, culture, museums, etc. It’s also definitely in your price range. However, the commute to NYC is just too long for an every day thing.

      1. Audiophile*

        I’d likely be better off on the Hudson line than the New Haven line. But I don’t want to move that far down in Westchester. I’d prefer to concentrate my efforts on the Scarsdale and the Hartsdale areas.

  25. Jojo K.*

    I think our landlady is trying to screw us over but I’m not sure what to do.

    We’re moving out after living here for a few years. She came by the other day to take photos for the rental ad and told me that our place reeks of dog smell, and she’s not sure she can rent it in this condition. Truly, I don’t smell it, and I’ve since asked family members who say they also don’t smell it either. If there is some smell it’s likely in our old sofa which of course will leave with us. The place has tile floors so a carpet isn’t the culprit.

    She’s saying it’s going to be necessary to repaint the whole apartment because of the dog smell, which I don’t get. I’ve heard of smoke smell settling into paint but never ambient pet smell (it’s not urine or feces). Has anyone else heard of this?

    My suspicion is that she wants to repaint – honestly, the place has needed a paint job since before we moved in – and she’s trying to pin it on our dogs so that she can use our deposit to do it. When we first started renting we gave her a large deposit because we have pets and it’s a competitive rental market, so we wouldn’t have gotten the place otherwise. I really don’t want to lose all that money for a problem I don’t think exists. Any advice?

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      Sounds dodgy to me, and like she wants you to pay to repaint.

      Maybe try telling her the dogs haven’t caused any damage and the place has nothing more than a little ware and tear so you wouldn’t be paying for the painting.

    2. Temperance*

      Look into local LL/T laws. Some states/jurisdictions require LLs to repaint after a certain period of time.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Yes. “Normal wear and tear” is almost always not something you can take out of a security deposit.

        Check with your local tenants’ rights group.

        1. Florida*

          This is true. If the house needs new carpet because you’ve lived their 20 years, that’s not your fault. But if it needs new carpet because you dropped the hot iron on the floor, it is your fault.
          Unfortunately, in most states, your only relief is to hire an attorney.
          When I was a renter, I used to take photos of every inch of the empty apartment before I moved in so I would have before and after photos.

    3. Bonky*

      How open and frank are your family members? And are they also dog owners?

      When we moved into our house, which had been home to two very nice men and their two elderly dachshunds for about a decade, it was obvious that they didn’t perceive the doggy odour at all. To us, it smelled very, very strong; I do wonder if part of the reason we could smell it while they couldn’t (and maybe while your family members can’t) is that we are not dog owners. It really, really does sink into paint, and especially painted wallpaper; we had to strip a lot of it off and start again, and also bought a lot of Febreze and solid deodorising bricks.

      Getting the painted paper off walls made an enormous difference. Of course, it could well be that you’re right and your landlady is on the make, but it’s worth a second opinion from some non-dog-owning friends or family who you can trust to be honest!

      1. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

        Seconding this. I know someone whose dogs smell RANK and the smell has permeated every fiber they traverse, including common areas that they don’t spend more than an hour in per day. They clearly don’t notice it at all.

    4. CAA*

      You have nose blindness to your own home, we all do. So you shouldn’t just disbelieve your landlord when she says your place smells funny to her. Here is an article about this phenomenon: http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2014/08/why-cant-you-smell-your-own-home.html

      Also, if you’ve lived there for several years, then it’s possible that a need for repainting would be classified as normal wear and tear and not be something she could take out of your deposit. It could be worth spending some time researching what is considered wear and tear vs damage in your state. You might also be able to get some free legal advice from a landlord/tenant law clinic if your city has one.

    5. Chriama*

      Quite frankly, I don’t think painting is an acceptable remedy for “dog smell”. Either something like steaming the carpets (which would probably be considered normal wear and tear) or replacing the carpets (which could potentially be considered damage). Do you have a government agency or department for housing? I’d try them first.

    6. ThatGirl*

      Every apartment I’ve ever moved out of has repainted and cleaned the carpet after. And I never had a dog. That just seems normal to me.

    7. Jessesgirl72*

      Check the rental laws in your state.

      In California, for instance, she would have to paint because you’ve lived there for years, but she wouldn’t be able to charge you for it, because it’s been years and is “normal wear and tear”

    8. Mazzy*

      Well it is true that people with animals can not notice some pretty nasty smells. I once was friends with a girl and went to her apartment and it smelt like a bathroom because the litter box, and there was hair on everything, but she didn’t notice and thing and would invite guys over and friends and just act like any 20-something would. She just was oblivious to it.

      But if you have tile floors, there shouldn’t be any permanent damage going on. Maybe you should crack the windows before next time she comes just in case?

      But yeah I don’t see why you’d have to pay for a painting. That is so par for the course when one rents, and wouldn’t fix any supposed pet damage (and really, if you thought a dog peed on the wall, why would you just want to paint over it!)

  26. Ruth (UK)*

    This is my half marathon update: It’s tomorrow and the weather situation is rather annoying.

    All week we’ve been having sun and clouds, around 11 or 12 deg. C (about 53 deg. F for you Americans). And we’re predicted that all next week too. It’s perfect for doing a long run – not too cold, but little risk of overheating.

    But tomorrow and tomorrow alone, we’re predicted sun and 22 degrees! (71.6 F).

    I am sure there is a weatherman up in the clouds trolling me.

    Aside from that, I’m feeling fairly prepared (I think).

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      Good luck, I hope you finish well and enjoy youreself.

      Please come back and let us know how you got on.

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        Too hot for cords! I’ve been running in shorts recently. I wear cords for everything else though! I’ve got a white vest and written on the back “My 1st Race. What was I thinking?!” and some reflective hair scrunchies :D

    2. Hrovitnir*

      Nooooo, suuuuuun. (I hate heat – my partner enjoys running in the hot sun. Weirdo.) Good luck! ^_^

    3. Lady Julian*

      Oh, gosh. I actually would love to run in that. Much prefer sunshine to clouds & while 71 is a bit warm, it’s not terrible; wear a light top & you’ll be fine.

      Good luck!

      1. Hrovitnir*

        Man, definitely not trying to hassle you here, but I can tell you that 22 degrees is *extremely warm* to some people. I am uncomfortable just walking around at 22 degrees, never mind doing exercise. OTOH, I will happily work out in a singlet and shorts at 5 degrees (41 F), and recently got the joy of running at about -5 (23 F) and still overheated (though I did have clothing covering my whole body, albeit thinly). :P

        (Irrelevant, I just have feels about how very uncomfortable I find heat that other people find mildly warm.)

        1. Ruth (UK)*

          I actually cope very well with heat as a general rule. I’m very thin so I tend to cope better in heat than cold. If it had been warm a lot recently and I was a bit more adjusted to it, I’d be better, it’s just that it’s a bit of a sudden increase in temperature from what we’ve been having so is going to seem especially hot feeling.

          I took up running in January this year and have got used to training in cold temperatures and this is going to be the warmest I have run in yet! And as this is England, I consider 22 degrees to be beach weather…

          However, it’ll be good weather for my brother and his partner, who are going to come watch

          1. Hrovitnir*

            Yeah, a change from training is a biggy. Heat is definitely helpful for joints and muscles though, and at least you’re not an inveterate heat-hater like me. :D

        2. Cristina in England*

          Yes this, and also, it has been about 13 degrees in my city so one day of 22 is quite a shock to the system, and it will feel much hotter than it would if it were 22 every day.

          1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

            I find that 22/71 in the UK is a lot warmer than what it is in the US. Maybe I’ve acclimated or something but you hit 60F here and its time to take off the coat. Tomorrow I plan to be on my balcony in shorts enjoying the direct sun (as we were tonight) but with a hat, sunglasses, and sun protection. Its like it starts to get uncomfortable around that and once you hit 80F welp – god help you if you have to get on the Tube (even THAT was feeling hot already on Friday).

            Same in Sweden- 70 in August in Stockholm is HOT cause of the angle of the sun and how far north it is. Ruth – hope you have a bit of cooling breeze!

        3. Lady Julian*

          I don’t feel hassled. :)

          I actually like colder runs too (between 20-40F) but after a long winter, it’s such a treat to be able to run in the sunshine, in shorts, without a coat!

    4. Rookie Manager*

      Good luck! After all your updates I’ll be mentally cheering you on tomorrow.

  27. Sugar of lead*

    I’ve spent yesterday and today packing everything I own into the trunk of my car. I’m leaving, thought I don’t know where I’m going to end up. First I think I’ll visit my parents but after that who knows?
    Any tips for long road trips?

    1. Uncivil Engineer*

      If you have a lot of time, go slow and stop to see everything that looks remotely interesting. There is a lot I haven’t seen but I am the most annoyed at myself for the things that were RIGHT THERE and I didn’t stop because I was in such a hurry to get to the next thing.

      Also, pick up lots of snacks at the grocery store. In a lot of places, restaurants and stores close earlier than you’d think and you don’t want to be left hungry.

    2. Pixel*

      Pack a travel foam roller and a mini foot roller – your back and feet will thank you after a long day of driving!

    3. Franzia Spritzer*

      See ALL THE THINGS!! The backroads have a lot to offer, try to stay off the freeways and travel by smaller highways for a richer travel experience. Stop at as many scenic spots, and take the scenic byways and loops whenever possible.

      Are you camping or moteling?

    4. Casuan*

      When I have the choice between an interstate or a highway, unless I’m pressed for time I’ll almost always opt for the highway.

      I’ve always wanted to do all of Route 66 from Chicago to LA.
      Of course, every so often I’d need to blast various arrangements of “Route 66”; my favourite versions are from Nat King Cole & The Manhattan Transfer.

      Enjoy your adventures & be safe!!

    5. Chaordic One*

      Anytime you get to a larger city or town, stop and get gas, even if you still have half of a tank full because it is almost always cheaper in bigger cities and towns (probably because of competition). You can probably find gas in smaller, more isolated towns, but when you do it will be more expensive.

      I also recommend stopping to buy snacks and soft drinks at grocery stores or stores like a WalMart where they’re a little cheaper than at gas stations/truck stops/convenience stores. If you have some kind of plastic or foam cooler that you can carry ice and the food in, that would be good, too.

      Also, always lock your car and roll up the windows when you stop at a store or go to a restroom at a gas station or at a rest stop.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      My husband took a motorcycle ride from here in the East across to California and back.

      He said it got lonely and he was the type who was used to being on his own. He planned stops to see people along the way. He could camp in his tent so as not to impact their household very much.

      He separated his money, some in his wallet, sock/boot and vehicle. That way if he got robbed he would not lose everything.

      I have noticed with my own traveling that people notice the out of state plates and notice I am alone so they comme