weekend free-for-all – May 20-21, 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.)

Book recommendation of the week: The Twenty-One Balloons, by William Pene du Bois. A retired teacher is shipwrecked on Krakatoa, where he discovers a tiny, hidden, and very rich society of 20 families who spend their time on cooking and inventions, which sounds weird but it’s awesome. This is my favorite kids’ book, and I still love it to this day.

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

{ 1,231 comments… read them below }

  1. Mischa*

    Any recommendations for running shorts that don’t bunch up in the middle? I have fairly thick thighs and running in the humidity in leggings is the worst. Not entirely worried about price if the quality is good.

    1. regina phalange*

      I would recommend a running skirt. I used one for the last half marathon I ran and I loved it!

      1. Ribbon*

        I also love a running skirt! I have two from Athleta that have grippy things on the legs so they don’t ride up, and I wear them all summer long even when not running.

    2. Joie De Vivre*

      What works for me is short shorts ( inseam 3 inches or less) with a split leg and using body Glide.

    3. Whats In A Name*

      I wear fitted shorts to run in the summer. LuLu Lemon has a pair with pockets big enough to slide your cell phone into and if you can catch them on final clearance or at an outlet you can get a good deal on them. They have silicone around the leg so they don’t ride up; I am pretty thick-thighed to and can’t do traditional running shorts without loads of chafing or riding up.

      1. Grumpy*

        Seconding Lulu. Run Times or Hotty Hots (long). On clearance, if possible because they are getting expensive. I think the liner stops them from bunching or riding up. And the multiple pockets on the correct side of the drawstring are useful.

      2. Mischa*

        I tried on Lululemon’s Run Times and they are definitely not made with a size 10 lady in mind. I loved the fabric, the fit was not stellar.

    4. Stephanie*

      I like Bermuda-length running shorts. They’re usually more fitted than your average loose running shorts, but you don’t have the issue of them riding up.

    5. gsa*

      I played collegiate futbol many moons ago. Any one who could not touch their knees together reasonably used vaseline on their thighs. Both men and women did this. Not an answer about shorts, but maybe a good work around.

    6. AlaskaKT*

      I also have thick thighs. I prefer fitted shorts in hot weather, so I use baby powder on my thighs so they don’t stick. My shorts are generally to short to ride up though!

    7. Jen*

      I often just buy my size in men’s shorts. Women’s shorts are often just too short.

    8. Corrvin*

      This may be too steamy in the hottest weather, but long boxer briefs under the shorts let them slide back down. My chafe zone is the top 4″ though, if yours is longer maybe try a longer spandex underlayer?

    9. Liane*

      I hope this is close enough to OP to piggy-back.
      College Daughter asked me about how to keep her thighs from rubbing together/chaffing when she wears shorts (not for running). I suggested longer ones, but she says her thighs are too big for longer ones to fit right. She has a tall, slim build.
      Any suggestions?

    10. ThatAspie*

      Shorts are actually very easy to make. You can get the fabric and a pattern at your local craft store, or you can find them online (online shopping sites will have both, picture sites and the like will have patterns). I’ve made pairs of shorts for myself before, so I can attest to how easy it was (I was still a kid when I made them!) And the great thing about making your own is that you can choose the fabric and custom-fit it just for you, meaning that you don’t have the limitations of store-bought shorts (trying to find ones you like that fit you, fitting in one area but not in another, etc.)

    1. Snorlax*

      I watch it! I was verrrrrry surprised by last night’s elimination. I thought she had a shot to win it. But you can’t come to the lip sync unprepared like that!

    2. Cristina in England*

      I am happy to be able to watch over here legally without having to wait a year this time! I am replying without reading the other responses because I am not caught up, also wanted to say thanks for not posting spoilers in the top comment.

    3. BRR*

      I’m not in shock she went home.
      She was good but usually because she did her homework. I definitely didn’t expect her in the top three. I was surprised she didn’t know her words.

    4. Hrovitnir*

      Oh wow. I read this comment before I watched it, and the reactions here made me suspect who it was. I didn’t expect it to be quite that… dramatic though. O_O

      I must say, I enjoyed Carson’s look for the runway though.

    5. Madame X*

      I WAS SHOOKETH! I really was not expecting her to go out like that. I am convinced that had she known the lyrics, she would have been the one to stay this week. Her runway look was certainly better than the one who got to stay. I thought that she would have been in the top 4 at least (and maybe top 3). It was a sad way to go.

    6. Cristina in England*

      Just watched it. Yeah I thought she would have gone further than that but just like the week before, a bit of hubris ended up costing big! I mean, she said she blanked but I suspect that was because she didn’t think it would be her.

  2. Ramona Flowers*

    It’s been a stressful week, so I’d like to amuse myself by asking the following:

    What’s your favourite so-bad-it’s-good film?

    Mine is Blow Dry, which stars Alan Rickman and Bill Nighy as rival hairdressers in a cutthroat hairdressing competition. In Yorkshire. With bad fake accents and people sabotaging each other’s hairdryers. It’s. Amazing.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Showgirls. The acting is terrible, for the most part. The dialogue is badly written. Even the “sex” is hilariously unsexy. The whole thing is a trainwreck that’s delightful to watch with a group and make fun of.

      1. CS Rep by Day, Writer by Night*

        I just introduced my 19 year old daughter to Showgirls last night. We had a ball yelling at the screen for two hours. :D

      2. evilintraining*

        “Up in Smoke” is one; “The Hollywood Knights” is another. Hey, I’m a ’70s girl!

      3. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

        Funny story about Showgirls.. I saw the edited version on tv one night with my mom while a freshman or sophomore in high school, and we thought it was hilarious! So I’m at the mall about a month later at an old-school version of Gamestop (FYE) and asked about it, and the sales associated directed me to the NC-17 section and promptly sells it to me, a 14-year-old. I’ll never forget watching the unedited version with Mom and she’s like, I don’t remember the tv version being so graphic, perhaps I should have screened this, but you can’t unsee it now so just don’t let your friends borrow it.

      4. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        I was living in Vegas at the time this was filmed and its like going back in time to when it was just starting to get commercial and corporate. That mall at Caesar’s with the changing sky was MINDBLOWING in the early 90s.

        I use “its a Versayce” ALL THE TIME. Because how could you not? And the cast is amazing, especially with Elizabeth Berkley’s way over acting. Like Gershon, Maclachlan, Davi all KNEW they were making a future camp classic but no one clued in Berkley.

    2. NoMoreMrFixit*

      Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. As a friend at the time put it, you cannot appreciate this movie while sober.

        1. MicroManagered*


          My husband and I have made at least one decision by flipping a frozen pizza as well.

      1. Your Weird Uncle*

        Haha! The other day I shouted at my coworker, ‘I’m right on top of that Rose!’ and we both burst out laughing. :D

      2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        The creepy coworker of Rose who hit on Sue Ellen was on Better Call Saul the other week as the head of the Bar Association review board. I totally couldn’t place the guy until I read AV Club and someone pointed it out! Then.. I squeeeed!

        Love this movie though – especially the “fashion show”. And where the hell did that house get a pool from at the END of the movie? And how far out into the valley WAS it?

        I better rewatch this again tonight.

        1. Pinyata*

          OMG THANK YOU – I could not for the life of me figure out where I knew that guy from.

    3. Sofia*

      It might not be thaaaat hadn’t but Life Happens. It’s a rom com about two best friends and roommates who fight over the last condom and one gets pregnant.

    4. Fenchurch*

      Favorite would be Drive Me Crazy. Gotta love the 90s teen movie genre for gems like this :)

        1. LCL*

          Think imma look for the chords to Benson Arizona and add it to my acoustic guitar music. I remember it as being a really simple country song.

    5. GiantPanda*

      The Core.

      The Earth’s magnetic core has stopped rotating; unless it can be restarted everybody and everything will die within a year or two. A team of terranauts (Aaron Eckhart, Hilary Swank) travels down there with a few nukes to give it a kick.

      1. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

        +1 to The Core! So much of the dialogue is cheesy but I love it!

      2. hermit crab*

        There are so many terrible/wonderful disaster movies! San Andreas (the one with The Rock from a couple years ago) was magnificent, and I really have a soft spot for The Day After Tomorrow for some reason (even the horrible CGI wolves). Then of course there are classics like The Devil At 4 O’Clock and The Towering Inferno. And if you really want to prove your disaster movie cred, there’s the amazing made-for-TV Lightning Bolts of Destruction.

        My favorite genre of movies is “Will Smith saves the world” but I’d argue that those are actually good and not so-bad-they’re-good.

        1. Gov Worker*

          Yes to San Andreas and The Day After Tomorrow. I love disaster flicks!
          Dare I say it…Titanic.

      3. Jen*

        I am not kidding, I watched The Core with my spouse on our first date. He had bought it in a tub if 99c movies and I insisted I did warn him it was bad.

        My favorite so bad it’s good has to be a tie between Judge Dredd or Demolition Man (both Stallone).

        1. Tedious Cat*

          I still can’t decide if I think Demolition Man is so bad it’s good or so good it’s good. Either way, I love that movie!

      4. just some girl*

        Here’s another vote for The Core! There was the funniest “things I learned from The Core” thread on the IMDB message board. I wish I had copied it before the boards went away.

    6. super anon*

      I’ve always loved The Room. I especially like it with the Rifftrax audio dub over top of it – it makes the unbearably long and uncomfortably unsexy sex scenes more manageable to sit through.

        1. Snorlax*

          The Room (cheese fest from 2003) is not to be confused with Room (the Brie Larson 2015 film). :)

          1. Audiophile*

            Oh I know. Side note: the Brie Larson movie is good and I certainly hope no one is confusing the two. Pretty sure Screen Junkies made a reference to this in one of their “Honest Trailers.”

            I think I just blocked those scenes out, I’m pretty sure this is a good thing.

        2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

          You don’t recall a scene with a red dress? :P

          If you love The Room you NEED to read The Disaster Artist that Greg Sisteros wrote about the making of. A wonderful book very well written that gives insight not only into the filming but Tommy Wiseau as well. I’ve read it more times than I’ve seen The Room. It also explains things like: the spoons, “Hi Doggy!”, the football tossing in oversized tuxes, the weird cityscape and lighting, and, of course, “Oh hai, Mark!” after a completely inappropriate joke.

          1. Audiophile*

            I just found a clip on Youtube, yeah now I unfortunately remember it. “Three’s a crowd.”

            Both football scenes. I think the first one is funnier than the second, if for no other reason than the dialogue about underwear.

    7. katamia*

      Killer Klowns from Outer Space. The Room. Batman and Robin. And apparently Center Stage could be considered so bad it’s good, but it was basically my favorite movie for all of high school, and I still use it a lot as background noise when I work.

      1. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

        I love Center Stage! The dance sequences at the end are my favorite! In high school, I’d listen to it every morning while doing my hair and getting dressed.

        1. katamia*

          Yeah, I had the VHS and watched the big end ballet just on its own all the time. I also bought (and still have on my phone, lol) the official soundtrack.

    8. LCL*

      Tommy. I loved and still love The Who. I don’t think the movie is bad, just surreal.

    9. Sherm*

      There was a soap-ish show called Pasadena. I was hooked, the lead Dana Delaney was fantastic in it, but alas, IIRC it aired on a Friday night and was hardly promoted.

    10. Mimmy*

      Mommie Dearest!! I actually watched it as a kid. Faye Dunaway is so over the top, and the editing is horrendous. But you cannot deny that “Nooo… Wire… HANGERS!!!!!!!” is a cheesy, classic line! ;)

    11. Torrance*

      Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The movie with Kristy Swanson & Luke Perry. My love for the movie is what inspired me to watch the show in the first place. (It’s also got a really great soundtrack and that can make up for a multitude of sins.)

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Oh yes, this is probably second on my list. The script is amazing. “That’s not a name. It’s a fish.”

    12. namelesscommentator*

      Clueless and mean girls.

      But I fully consider them both so good they’re good ;)

      1. Fifty Foot Commute*

        I was wondering if things like that counted or not. If so, add Drop Dead Gorgeous, which is good times one million and also super cheesy.

          1. Chocolate Teapot*

            I thought Drop Dead Gorgeous was very dark, and certainly not the light frothy comedy it first appeared.

            1. Fifty-Foot Commute*

              I heard somewhere that they had originally screened an alternate ending where Gladys commits suicide but decided against it because it was too dark. I kind of think that would have made more sense (and, like you said, it’s not like it isn’t dark already), but the ending is really the least important part of that movie.

      2. Fog*

        I *hated* Mean Girls in high school, because it encapsulated everything I hated about high school.

        I absolutely love it now… for the exact same reason.

      3. Emily*

        Yeah, I’m not even sure those are bad, though I can see why someone might! :)

        I really like Clueless – it’s silly, but it has such heart. (As I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to appreciate girly “teen” movies that I didn’t watch in my actual teens – things like She’s the Man, 10 Things I Hate About You, etc.)

    13. Lily Evans*

      Valentine’s Day. It tried and failed to be Love, Actually and got terrible reviews, but for whatever reason I can’t help loving it!

      Also my sister and I were obsessed with Killer Klowns from Outer Space when we were younger for whatever reason, that one’s good for a laugh!

    14. The Cosmic Avenger*

      The Toxic Avenger. (And that was before I ever thought of using this pseudonym!)

    15. Tau*

      Sherlock Holmes, the 2010 film. Because “so bad it’s good” is basically the definition of a Sherlock Holmes film that involves dinosaurs, a steampunk giant squid and Mycroft the Cyberman.

    16. Elizabeth West*

      Probably Total Recall, with Ahnold. That movie is so dumb it absolutely kills me.

      Favorite quotes:
      “I got five kids to feed!”

    17. Kj*

      Eulogy. It is about a girl whose crazy Grandpa died and asked her to write the eulogy. Her family is nuts and everything is awful, but it is some how crazy fun and fun.

      Adventures in Babysitting. Teen takes easy job watching kid, ends up on the side of a skyscraper with kid, kids brother, and kids brothers friend. Oh, and Thor is invoked

      1. Cruciatus*

        And “Thor” is played by Vincent D’Onofrio! As a kid I didn’t know who that was, but years later I was rewatching the movie and at that point had seen 5000 episodes of Law & Order and realized that it was Vincent D’Onofrio.

    18. Someone*

      Iron Sky: Some Nazis survived on the moon and are planning to take over the earth.
      Big Game: A boy who’s out hunting in Finland and the president of the USA try to flee the terrorists who shot down the president’s plane.

      Both films are entirely crazy and don’t take themselves serious.

    19. CatCat*

      Oooommmgggg, I just remembered the movie “Robot Jox.” Giant battle robots! Kind of like “Pacific Rim,” but before there were such fancy pants special effects. Not much by way of plot or acting, but I’d totes watch it again.

    20. Emily*

      Jupiter Ascending!

      I know that the plot is kind of a mess, but it is so pretty. And I feel like there was a lot of really interesting behind-the-scenes worldbuilding and backstory going on, even if the movie didn’t get to explore most of it.

      (The anti-gravity boots that work because of “differential equations”, though, that’s just silly.)

    21. Sarah*

      Repo! the Genetic Opera. It’s a near-future dystopia operatic musical about a future where you can finance your organ replacements (and accordingly have them reposessed if you can’t pay). Anthony Stewart Head is a bright light in an otherwise hilariously terrible set of actors, and Paris Hilton is in it, for some reason.

  3. Penny*

    Has anyone ever attended life-coaching before? My mom swears by one she did long ago, said it helped her when going through her divorce, being a single mom to me, and figuring out what would make her happy with life, career and otherwise. She’s recommended I do one because I’ve felt a bit directionless in my post-college years. I’ve done counseling for my depression and anxiety but they couldn’t help me in terms of more broad life guidelines. The life coaching can be expensive but my family is offering to pay a few sessions as a birthday gift. Has anyone tried one and say it helped?

    1. Whats In A Name*

      I have never tried it but have friends who have and swear by it. Some only a few sessions, some on a more ongoing basis like therapy. I think if your family is willing to pay for it you should give it a try – never know!

    2. Lluviata*


      If you have time to explain a little. . . what is life coaching?

      I’m considering a career change after 6 years, and I’ve wanted some help but keep running into dead ends. How did your mom find a life coach?

      Please ignore this if you’d rather not derail!

      1. Penny*

        Well, my mom’s life coach was a friend of her’s who kind of bullied my mom into doing it, which she is forever grateful for. My mom said she’d reach out to that friend to see if she was still doing the life coaching but could probably make recommendations even if she wasn’t actively doing it. I would assuming you just start Net searching for something local, similar to what I did when looking for a counselor.

        I do know there are different kinds of life coaching. Like a friend of a friend does a coaching that she calls ‘Say Yes’, which is mainly about empowering people to embrace new things in their lives (anyone seen the Jim Carrey movie ‘Yes Man’? kinda like that). I’m not going that route because I want a little more guidance than I think she usually does. Also while my mom did some one-on-one with her coach, she said what was most helpful to her was a weekend long retreat she did with several coaches and their attendees, so there’s even different styles/techniques.

        I understand how you feel about the career change because I think that’s the main point of my directionless-ness, as a six year post-college person who still doesn’t even know if my problem is the terrible workplaces I’ve ended up in or the work path in general. I wish there was a career coach (Ask a Manager blog and community is the closest I’ve come to that!), but I feel like the life coaching will be a step in the right direction. Hope that helps, I’m happy to chat more since I’m still trying to figure out this stuff myself.

    3. LizB*

      I did ~nine months of life coaching for free through a job I had, and it actually worked really well for me! My life coach was so positive while still holding me accountable, and we got along really well. Before every session (which were generally phone calls), she had me fill out a little list of what I had accomplished, what I wished I had accomplished that I didn’t, and what I was grateful for, and then we’d talk through things on that list or anything else I wanted to chat about. She was great with challenging me on my assumptions and helping me see all the things I was actually doing well, which gave me motivation to keep working towards where I wanted to be. It really changed my perspective on how much power I have to make changes in my life, and also helped teach me that if I don’t want to make changes, that’s fine, because I’m not broken.

      1. AliceBD*

        So, this description from LizB is exactly what I’ve done with a therapist. I’m not sure of the difference between life coaching and therapy, other than certifications/school.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I did life coaching when my husband died. I felt that I needed to take charge in the direction of my life.. but how.

      At $75 per hour, she was a lot less expensive than that psychiatrist I went to when my father died. And the doc was a waste of my time, I wanted to talk about things in the future and he only could talk about things in the past.

      For me, I wanted someone similar to me. I wanted someone who totally understood when I said I could not get the tractor started to blow snow. I did not want to have to explain why seemingly basic things might be a huge problem. I deliberately chose a woman who appeared to be about ten years older than me.

      As people have said here, she was happy, upbeat and she held me accountable for staying on track.
      I am not so sure she thinks she did a good job with me. But I managed to build a new circle of friends, rework all my finances, find new work and join some volunteer activities. We talked about other stuff which I never quite got to, that is why her perspective might be different. But I am happy with how my life landed.
      Unlike going to the shrink, I would jump out of bed the day I had an appointment with the life coach. She gave me homework. I had to do stuff before the next appointment. To help with finances we could met over the phone and/or I could do half hour appointments instead of full hours.
      They mostly work with what you tell them. So if you are wondering about a career they will talk mostly about that, finding a career that fits the life you want. Make sure you tell your life coach everything you want to talk about.

      I would highly recommend life coaching. Not being sure of your direction in life cannot possibly be helping your depression. It’s probably adding to it if anything. I vote for going. And remember you do not have to map out your whole life, you only have to figure out where you want to start anew. I found it uplifting because it was an investment in me and my future.

      1. Whats In A Name*

        I like this response and it has me wondering if I might need to seek a life coach instead of a new therapist – my therapist is closing her practice. But I really am trying to focus on the future; not the past. thank you for sharing your insight and story here.

    5. Kj*

      Life coaching is an unregulated title, so anyone can say they are a ‘life coach’ without training. There are no standards and the education of life coaches varies quite a bit. If you are looking for career and goal planning, licensed therapists are sometimes trained in career coaching and your insurance or an EAP might cover it. I’m wary of life coaches- again, they aren’t regulated and they charge a lot without bring responsible for professional standards and ethics

    6. Cedrus Libani*

      I did a life-coaching event during college. I thought it was helpful, in the global sense of taking a few days to take stock of my life. And it was life-changing in the personal sense, because I realized that I wasn’t the only person who was struggling. I have anxiety and OCD, and perceived myself as a uniquely broken piece of crap. Not true; jerk-brain is unfortunately part of the human condition.

    7. a Gen X manager*

      Yes! I’ve had a life coach in the past and it was beneficial in expanding my perspective. I’ve had a professional executive coach for several years now and it has literally changed my professional and personal life in more ways than I could ever possibly count. It’s fairly expensive, my organization pays for it and it has paid for itself at least 20 times over in effectiveness and strategic growth. I think everyone should have coaching!

      The coaching is fantastic because it focuses on real life instead of focusing on the past (like therapy). Sometimes things from the past come up and are tied into a cause and effect, but on the whole it is about moving forward in a healthy, effective way.

  4. Sugar of lead*

    Let’s play a game: what’s a TV show you like from back when that barely anyone’s heard of and that probably got cancelled after one or two seasons?

    I’ll start: Wonderfalls. One of Bryan Fuller’s early works about a disillusioned twentysomething retail clerk (Caroline Dhavernas) who starts hearing inanimate objects like a wax lion and a ceramic cow telling her what to do. When she disobeys them, terrible things happen. Her friends think she’s a bit nuts. Also has Lee Pace as her brother.

    What underappreciated audiovisual marvels have you guys got?

    1. Penny*

      Oh I loved Wonderfalls!!! I really wish it had continued, it was so good!

      My go-to is Firefly but less well known is a sitcom called The Class. I thought it was really funny, even though I don’t remember much about it.

      One that was cancelled this past year was Conviction with Hayley Atwell. I’ve gotten really bored with crime dramas over the years but Conviction was interesting because they were reviewing settled cases to see if the facts still held up. I thought it was really engaging.

      1. Professional Cat Lady*

        I was so sad when Conviction was cancelled halfway through the run! Hayes was an interesting character (even if she got a few tropey storylines attached to her), and the show was fun.

      2. Triceratops*

        Yesss I also loved Conviction! + I have the hugest crush on Hayley Atwell and watching her play a bi lady was 10/10

    2. Gumshoe*

      Another Bryan Fuller-Lee Pace visual masterpiece – Pushing Daisies. One of the most beautifully shot television shows I’ve seen.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I loved Pushing Daisies! It was the first show that made me appreciate Kristen Chenowith. I was so sad when it got cancelled.

      2. Myrin*

        I was just about to say that! It was so bizarre and weird yet at the same time visually stunning and super charming and fun.

      3. CatCat*

        I loved that show so much. Have you seen the Netflix version of “A Series of Unfortunate Events”? It reminded me a lot of Pushing Daisies in terms of the feel of the show. Beautifully surreal and charming while also quite morbid.

    3. Fenchurch*

      I’ve got a couple:

      Better Off Ted – very clever and fun show that only ran for a couple of seasons.

      Best Friends Forever / Playing House – two different shows with the same actress duo (Lennon Parham & Jessica St. Clair) getting into shenanigans. Neither ran for very long sadly.

      Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23 – also just a couple of seasons but a great show!

        1. Sononymous*

          I could never fully appreciate that one. I went to college with one of the stars of the show (we were in the same theater program) and she was such a diva that I experience such wonderful schadenfreude whenever any of her shows get cancelled. Needless to say, there have been a few.

            1. Sononymous*

              Ha! Does that violate some unspoken forum rule? I will say, she was also in Joey. :)

          1. Sarah*

            This must happen a lot. One of the theater majors from my alma mater is getting big now (she’s had a big part in at least one major movie and one huge Broadway show) and she was the biggest diva in the program. I can’t watch anything she’s in.

    4. Lin2*

      Agent Carter. Granted the second season wasn’t as strong as the first (and probably had too many cliches) but the cast was wonderful and there was still so much potential for stories (especially considering the huge time gap there remained between the show and the movie-verse). Also it ended on a cliffhanger, so that was annoying.

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      Cupid, Selfie, and Agent Carter are the ones that come to mind immediately.

      1. Professional Cat Lady*

        Selfie was so good! It was charming and fun, and just finding it’s feet when it got cancelled.

      2. Audiophile*

        Which Cupid – 98 version with Jeremy Piven or the 09 version with Bobby Cannavale?

        1. Violet Strange*

          Jeremy Piven! I loved the 98 show and still drink Rusty Nails in its honor.

        2. Jules the First*

          Jeremy Piven – wit! In Latin! I can’t believe this one hasn’t made it onto Netflix or Amazon yet…

          There was also the tv show Mr & Mrs Smith which (I think) inspired the movie but was waaaaay less successful and only lasted what, eight episodes?

    6. Ramona Flowers*

      I remember hearing about Wonderfalls and wanting to see it.

      And I’m going to have to say My So-Called Life.

      1. MicroManagered*

        It was after Y2K before I finally accepted My So-Called Life wasn’t returning…

    7. PB*

      Wonderfalls was great! So under appreciated.

      I really liked “The Good Guys.” It was a buddy cop show by Matt Nix of Burn Notice fame, but much lighter and more fun. It only lasted a season.

    8. evilintraining*

      “Arnie.” I feel like I’m just about the only person who remembers that one!

      1. Thlayli*

        Omg I LOVED sea quest. The guy with the gills was my teenage crush. Must look him up on imdb.

        1. Ytka*

          Omg, I loved Piccolo (played by Michael Deluise). Dave Franco is my current crush if you’re into that same type.

          1. Thlayli*

            Must look him up. I IMDb’ michael deluise and was disappointed to discover sea quest was the high point for him so far. I thought he was a great actor as well as being hot.

    9. katamia*

      Odyssey 5: 5 people happen to be on a spaceship (some astronauts, some not) when the Earth is destroyed. Some kind of Powerful Being sends them back in time several years to prevent it from happening, where they promptly mess up their lives horribly by trying to fix personal life issues while also trying to figure out the bad guys’ plan and stop the Earth’s destruction. What was made ends with a major plot twist, and it’s killing me even now that I don’t know how it ends.

      I’d love to see more Better Off Ted and Don’t Trust the B, too.

    10. JJJJShabado*

      Knights of Prosperity (a.k.a Let’s Rob Mick Jagger) with Donal Logue and pre-Modern Family Sofia Vergara. It didn’t last the entire first season (last handful were put on-line), but it was goofy and I enjoyed it.

        1. Damn it, Hardison!*

          I just finished re-watching Terriers. I wish there were more seasons.

      1. Tedious Cat*

        Oh, I loved Knights of Prosperity! “Your name… is Reginald Butts… and you got shot… in the panic room!”

    11. LCL*

      Wizards and Warriors. Post Taxi Jeff Conway, before he lost his looks to hard living. Blink and you missed it, I think it was one season.
      Soap. A prime time parody of soap operas. Billy Crystal’s breakout role. I’m sure a lot of the humor is dated and unenlightened, I have the DVD set somewhere but never watched it. It was actually a hit back in the day.

      1. Rainy, PI*

        Oh man, we watched Wizards and Warriors when I was a kid and I loved it so much!

    12. Your Weird Uncle*

      Nearly Departed, starring Eric Idle. He plays a ghost who, along with his ghost-wife, live in a house where no one can see them except for the grandfather who lives with his oblivious family. I remember it being awesome, but I was maybe 9 and I’m sure I’d be cringing if I watched it in rerun now. Still, barely anyone has heard of this one!

    13. CatCat*

      Nowhere Man.

      A 90s conspiracy type show. A photographer takes pictures of American soldiers hanging some men. After, a shadowy organization basically wipes out his identity and pursues him to get the negatives.

      1. Mimmy*

        I was going to say this one as well – my husband and I watched it a few years ago–I don’t remember if it had re-aired or if it was on Netflix. I think he watched it when it first aired, but I’d never seen it. Loved seeing a young James Franco :)

    14. Merci Dee*

      My two big ones were Moonlight and Gravity Falls.

      Moonlight ran for a single season in 2007, but it introduced me to Alex O’Loughlin, and I loved him. Granted, Moonlight was a blatant rip-off of Forever Knight from 1992 (vampire detective falls in love with mortal woman), but I loved Mick’s inner dialogue between scenes.

      Gravity Falls was a kid’s show on Disney XD for 2 seasons, starting in 2012. I don’t care that this was a cartoon – the show was freaking phenomenal. Alex Hirsch, the creator, was a flipping genius. Basic plot line – twin Dipper and Mabel Pines visit their con artist great-uncle Stan for the summer in Gravity Falls, Oregon. Tons of monsters, ghouls, and supernatural highjinx ensue. It’s like a mix of Twin Peaks and X-Files. It doesn’t matter that my kid and I have seen every episode, like, a million times. Every time an episode comes on, we’re glued to the TV to watch it again. So many quotable lines, it’s insane (“today I learned that morality is relative!”).

      1. Myrin*

        Gravity Falls is a masterpiece! Which reminds me that my sister and I still haven’t seen the final episodes (they came out here only last year, but still) – we are simultaneously excited and forgetful about them! But yeah, honestly one of the best series that ever existed, especially with the insane secondary layer of secrets.

        1. Merci Dee*

          OMG! Watch the Weirdmageddons, watch the Weirdmageddons!

          Gideon Gleeful has the best line in the whole three-part ending. Wendy breaks the arm of one of his prison buddies, and he cried out, “Ghost Eyes! My hench-angel!”

          Watch them soon, and let me know what you think!

    15. Candy*

      These are probably only known to Canadians but:

      Twitch City. It aired for two seasons on CBC in the late 90s/early 2000s and I loved it. A shut-in (Don McKellar) watches a lot of TV and has rotating roommates, including the totally delightful Molly Parker. It was really great.

      Also: Our Hero, another two-season CBC show from the early 2000s about a teenager with a zine that really spoke to me at the time (as a teenager with a zine)

      1. esra (also a Canadian)*

        My university favourite gone-too-soon CBC show was What It’s Like Being Alone. Unfortunately I think I might be the only person who watched it.

    16. Annie Mouse*

      Dollhouse, never come across anyone else who’s seen it. It’s a Joss Whedon show that was cancelled after two seasons.

      1. Rainy, PI*

        I’ve seen a couple of episodes. I didn’t like it much, though I wanted to.

        1. Kj*

          You have to watch past the first 6 episodes to get into it. I watched the first episode and stopped, then my boyfriend at the time forced me to watch the whole season and it was really compelling- the story is awesome and powerful, but the first season drags something awful in places. I liked the world Whedon created- but then, that is what he excellent at.

      2. hermit crab*

        I watched it on Netflix a few years ago! I liked the procedural episodes a lot but I thought the apocalypse-plot ones were kind of a drag.

      3. Thlayli*

        I have both seasons on DVD. I agree the apocalypse ones were bad. What really killed the show for me was when they made a plot twist and utterly changed one of the main characters motives. Which made you feel cheated by the entire show.

        And the whole backstory was pretty bad too.

        it was a shame coz the characters were awesome and the premise was really good.

      4. Felicia*

        I loved Dollhouse! At least it had a final-ish ending. Another show starring Eliza Dushku that was cancelled before it’s time which I loved, Tru Calling, ended in a total cliffhanger.

      5. esra (also a Canadian)*

        I watched it while it was on. I think I might be the only person who really didn’t like the Epitaphs.

      6. Pat Benetardis*

        Totally love this. And the guy who played Victor was an amazing actor, I can’t believe he’s not a giant star.

    17. Clever Name*

      Dolphin Cove. Set in Australia about a family (after the mom died) who run a dolphin sanctuary. We were devastated when it was cancelled, and my mom actually wrote the network a letter asking them to not cancel it.

    18. Tedious Cat*

      Eyes. It ran on ABC in 2005. Tim Daly as the brilliant, somewhat amoral head of a private investigation firm. Clever, sexy, and lots of fun spy gadgets.

    19. Finny*

      Team Knight Rider, Earth 2, Young Hercules, and Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nog are my top picks in that category. Fortunately, both Earth 2 and Young Hercules have made it to DVD. I still keep hoping TKR and Mystic Knights get released at some point, possibly by Shout Factory, who released Young Hercules.

      1. Amadeo*

        I wouldn’t hold your breath for TKR. It was so stupid, but I loved it for what it was anyway. Beast and Duke and Dante and Kyle seemed to be the only pairs that really had much in the way of development. The rest of them kind of annoyed me.

        I *do* have it on DVD, but they are not, ahem, official copies.

      2. Christina*

        Young Hercules! Ah, Ryan Gosling before he was a meme…

        And ha, yes, I remember Mystic Knights, too! Do you remember Roar with Heath Ledger?

    20. Ramona Flowers*

      I forgot Pond Life and Stressed Eric. Both animated series with neurotic protagonists.

    21. Rainy, PI*

      Marblehead Manor
      Wizards and Warriors (“You can talk to animals?” “It’s a gift; my uncle Torquil gave it to me.”)
      Freaks & Geeks

    22. Fifty Foot Commute*

      Wonderfalls! (I finally got my first wax animal a few years ago, having been looking ever since.)

      John Doe and The Pretender (which had four seasons and a movie, but I still find people don’t know it).

          1. NotoriousMCG*

            Literally Early Edition is burned into my memory – not because I super loved it (I was so young I can’t really remember anything about it) but just because it was one of many things that my mom could NEVER get the name correctly even though she was the one who loves that show. Early Edition = First Edition, Hello Kitty = My Little Kitty, etc

      1. Jules the First*

        There was a pretender movie? My sister and I watched that show religiously….

    23. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I second Wonderfalls*, My So-Called Life*, Firefly*, Playing House (which wasn’t cancelled, it was renewed!), Selfie, Agent Carter, Freaks & Geeks*, and Dollhouse. (The * means I own the box set, which means I have ripped them to my Plex streaming media server, which gives you a Netflix-like experience.)

      And I’ll add (all ones I own and have ripped): Greg the Bunny, Dark Angel, and The Oblongs.

    24. Elkay*

      The prison didn’t shut, all the prisoners disappeared in an incident and the closing was a cover up story. Prisoners started reappearing in the present day. I loved it.

      1. Tedious Cat*

        Oh man, I loved Alcatraz! Such a great cast. I wish we could have gotten another season to answer some questions.

    25. Liane*

      Sunshine, a ’70s comedy-drama about a young widower, who played in a band and was raising his little girl. It lasted a season and used the John Denver song “Sunshine on My Shoulders” as the theme music. Bill Mummy (Lost in Space, Babylon 5) played one of the bad members.
      Many years later when I had kids I talked to him at a con and mentioned Sunshine to him. He was surprised anyone remembered it. I told him, ” One, my dad and I were *living* that plot. Two, the child actor who played the daughter had the same surname as us. “

      1. katamia*

        I’ve never seen Cop Rock, but it always sounded like the sort of thing I would absolutely love. I need to get around to watching it one of these days.

    26. OperaArt*

      My second choice is Dead Like Me. Someone already mentioned my first choice, Pushing Up Daisies.

      1. Professional Cat Lady*

        I forgot about Dead Like Me, but that’s one of my all time favorites. Might need to rewatch it soon.

      1. Stephanie*

        Oh man. I forgot about that show. I wanted to go to high school on a boat so badly.

    27. Rookie Manager*

      Apart from some awesome shows already mentioned I’d say The Closer/ Major Crimes. They may be popular elsewhere but I know of precisely 1 person in my wider social circle that watches (d) them.

      1. caledonia*

        I love both the closer and major crimes! They have episode reviews on the spoilertv website if you want to hang out in the web world with other fans!

    28. Ann Furthermore*

      Homefront, which was about WW2 vets coming home after the war, and started a very young Kyle Chandler. Loved that show.

      I also loved Journeyman, a time travel show which was on a few years ago, starring Kevin McKidd.

      And I absolutely loved a show called Eyes, with Tim Daly as a snarky private eye who owned his own agency. It was so funny, but only lasted 5 or 6 episodes.

      1. Tedious Cat*

        I finally got to see the whole run of Eyes — the entire season aired in New Zealand, so it’s floating around on the internet. My favorite episode was the one with Joe Spano as the corrupt judge.

    29. caledonia*

      Mine would be:

      Aussie teen series Heartbreak High from the mid-90’s.
      Being Erica which was a slightly oddball – but brilliant – series from Canada.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        I loved Being Erica. I totally want to see Doctor Tom for time travel therapy.

    30. Pharmgirl88*

      I loved The Riches with Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver – about a family of travelers who end up taking on the identity of a wealthier family.

    31. Elizabeth West*

      These are excruciatingly old and probably nobody but me will remember them, but

      –Police Squad! (1982). It only ran for six episodes, but was the basis for the Naked Gun movies, which oddly I have not seen. It was SO FUNNY. There was a character named Al who was too tall for his head to show onscreen (you never saw his face, only his body from the shoulders down). One time he came in with really long hair hanging down beside his tie and Leslie Nielsen said “Hey Al–get a haircut.” XD

      –E/R (1984-85). This was a sitcom about an emergency room with Elliot Gould, Conchata Ferrell, Mary McDonnell, Lynne Moody, and I kid you not, George Clooney–and it was set in Chicago! Jason Alexander played a character on it too. I loved it and was really pissed off when it got cancelled.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Oh wait, I forgot one–Bosom Buddies!!!

        Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari played these two NYC guys who couldn’t find a place to live so they dressed in drag and got rooms in a women’s-only residential hotel. It also starred Wendie Jo Sperber (who is sadly no longer with us) and Holland Taylor. It was the first place I ever saw Tom Hanks and Holland Taylor. And Donna Dixon, who played a woman Tom Hank’s character had a huge crush on.

        Scolari went on to Newhart (the one with the inn) and Taylor’s been in tons of stuff (she is dating Sarah Paulson now; they’re cute as hell). Dixon met Dan Aykroyd in Doctor Detroit and married him; she’s retired now. And we all know what happened to Tom Hanks. :D

      2. OperaArt*

        I, too, was a fan of the first E/R series. It was a good ensemble show, and funny.

      3. Mimmy*

        I loved E/R! I think it re-aired a few years later in syndication. I had no idea that George Clooney was in it until a few years ago when I saw a story about him. Lynne Moody was on General Hospital in the late ’90s in a recurring role.

        1. Djuna*

          Yes! I work with younger people and none of them get it when I quote that. I keep meaning to see if I can find it on youtube somewhere so I can share the glory of her line delivery.

    32. FlyingFergus*

      Oh, Wonderfalls! I’d forgotten about it until now! Also loved Pushing Daisies.

      But the show I really mourn is Lovemonkey. Tom Cavanagh, Judy Greer, and a surprisingly wonderful Jason Priestly. Cavanagh played a record executive and I liked the show so much that I even went to see one of the musicians on the show I’m concert – Teddy Geiger. Was blown away recently when I found out he’s still in the business and cowrote Shawn Mendes’s hit, Stitches.

    33. Pat Benetardis*

      JOan of Arcadia. Joan is in high school and God talks to her, or is she just crazy?

    34. Laura*

      A Gifted Man. 2011. Only one season. Put on the Friday night death slot.

      Watched it mostly for the Patrick Wilson eye candy. Good story too.

    35. Sally O'Malley*

      “Boston Common”
      It starred Anthony Clark before he went on to be in “Yes, Dear.”

    36. Tedious Cat*

      Justice was a really well-done procedural focusing on the cases of a law firm headed by Victor Garber. It would always end by showing you, after the trial, how the crime actually went down.

    37. Other Duties as Assigned*

      My rarity is Crime Story (NBC 1986-88). Michael Mann of Miami Vice created this cops vs. organized crime program set in the early 1960s, so lots of neon, chrome, fedoras and cars with tail fins. The first part of the series was set in Chicago with the balance of the series in Las Vegas. Former Chicago policeman (!) Dennis Farina was the police lieutenant in charge (many will remember him as Detective Fontana on Law and Order 2004-2006). I saw a TV interview with Farina where he said that in the scenes where he had to shoot a gun, he had to hold it with only one hand, since that’s how cops in the early 60s did it.

      Check out the opening credits from season one online (the Chicago episodes); lots of color footage of the city…including a neat vintage shot of a Capital Airlines plane landing at Midway. Having the song Runaway by Del Shannon as the theme didn’t hurt, either.

      A very stylish series that likely influenced a lot of crime programs that followed.

    38. GirlwithaPearl*

      Caroline Dhavernas is on a new show right now on lifetime (I know, I know) called something like Mary Kills People and it is really good!

    39. Katriona*

      I actually just rewatched Popular a few months ago; it’s a Ryan Murphy show (pre-Glee) about two high school girls on opposite ends of the social ladder who suddenly find themselves stepsisters. It ended on a cliffhanger after two seasons–I think it was a casualty of the WB/UPN merger but I’m not totally sure.

      Dark Angel is another one I liked from that era. It was futuristic sci-fi show with a really cool concept that kind of went off the rails in season two a bit before getting canceled. I’ve got both seasons on DVD but haven’t gotten around to watching it so I don’t know how well it holds up, but at the time I was really bummed that it didn’t get a third season.

      This may not count since it went on for four seasons, but: Boston Public. I can’t find it on DVD or streaming anywhere and nobody knows what I’m talking about when I bring it up, although I thought it did reasonably well when it aired.

      More recently, I’m really sad that Pitch just got cancelled. As a female baseball fan AND a fan of good TV it really excelled at both.

    40. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      It was recent, but I was _so_ disappointed when The Grinder was cancelled. It was genuinely funny and inventive, and Rob Lowe & Fred Savage were so good together. It wasn’t perfect, it got into some stupid stuff later on in the season, but it was really good at the self-aware, tropey-humor that I love.

  5. New-ish Chicagoan*

    Anyone have favorite cafes or spaces that are study-able in Chicago they’d like to recommend? I’m a UChicago grad student trying to (1) not go crazy while (2) studying for finals and (3) occasionally getting out of Hyde Park.

    1. Tris Prior*

      I like Metropolis a lot, though it would be a haul for you – Edgewater, off the Granville red line. But that’s definitely WAY out of Hyde Park… :)

    2. PM-NYC*

      Not sure if these are too far north, but I love Wormhole and Filter, both on Milwaukee Ave. in Wicker Park. Wormhole is smaller with great coffee drinks & geeky decor, Filter is huge, serves a full menu of typical cafe style stuff & is full of vintage couches. Have had many a work session at both.

    3. salad fingers*

      Wormhole and Filter are both great recommendations.

      I used to study a lot at New Wave Cafe in Logan Square when I lived there. Fairly large space, definitely park and work for awhile friendly. It’s been awhile, but the atmosphere looks pretty much the same.

      My go-to geographically for the last …very many years has been Star Lounge in Humboldt Park. Special place in my heart for them as I remember when they first opened, the owners are good people and I love that their business has done so well. There is decent space on the first floor, decent space on the second floor where there seems to be a tacit quiet car sort of thing going on, and there’s a little deck in the back. This was the birthplace of Dark Matter coffee, which has become a pretty prominent local coffee brand. This place wouldn’t be super CTA commute friendly for you. Not impossible by any means, but it isn’t close to a train or any bus that would connect directly to Hyde Park.

      Cafe Jumping Bean was one of my best friends’ favorite study spots. It’s in Pilsen, which would certainly be closer to Hyde Park. Also not as far – only been a couple of times but always enjoyed Bridgeport Coffee. Maria’s Packaged Goods is across the street and offers respite from books/screens/whatever in the form of beer, kimchi polish sausages and nice people.

      I’m not really sure how the space would be for studying but this whole conversation is making me want a cup of coffee and a slice of Bang Bang pie. Only familiar with their Logan Square spot, but is cute (small inside, but a large outside space picnic table space if you don’t need to plug in?) and their pie is soooooooo delicious. Dreaming of last month’s rhubarb one.

      Okay, and with less commentary, some other ones I used to frequent: Ipsento in Bucktown, Dollop in ….Edgewater? Andersonville? Bourgious Pig in Lakeview (maybe now gone I think), Swim Cafe in Noble Square. And places I’m not super familiar with but seem promising: Big Shoulders in ….. maybe that’s also Noble Square, Gaslight in Logan Square, Reno in Logan Square, Letizia’s in Wicker Park sometimes works, Caffe Streets also in Wicker Park has done the job occasionally too. Atomix used to be a go to as well and until an ex/barista ruined it for me. I wonder if they still have really uncomfortable chairs.

      OKAY I’m done now. I actually could go on forever but I will stop. The last thing I’ll suggest is the Harold Washington Public Library! That place is literal heaven and I always got really good work done there. Obvious beautiful views, beautiful architecture, beautiful books upon books upon books.

      1. Random Reader*

        I went to Bourgeois Pig in Lakeview this past winter! It’s such a cute little cafe.

    4. Nancy B*

      When I was a a student at DePaul in Lincoln Park, I used to study at the Panera on Diversey. I could get a snack and a refillable drink and use their WiFi all afternoon. Around that time, they switched their music from classical to jazz, which I found to be a distraction, but I carried foam earplugs in my bag in those days. Do you have a Panera near campus? I don’t know that neighborhood as well. Is Panera still generous with the WiFi?

  6. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I’m in a snit right now and I need to be talked down. I have a sinus infection (diagnosed yesterday after some strange symptoms– I’m on antibiotics but feeling miserable) and I’m volunteering this afternoon for about an hour at a theater near my house. Last night, because of my sinus infection, I stayed home while my boyfriend and a bunch of his friends went to a baseball game (with my company’s season tickets, fwiw). This morning, he wakes up and announces he’s going running later with one of the friends he went out with last night.

    Later arrives and the car– my car, our only vehicle– doesn’t start. So I just called roadside assistance, and my boyfriend called his friend to pick him up. He didn’t offer to stay here with me. I realized this bothered me, and I told him. His response was to get huffy and say that I had said it was fine and he was going, but maybe his friend can hang out while the car repair person is here… No. I finally told him to just go. I fully admit that I am irrational right now because I feel like crap.

    So why am I in a snit? It’s twofold. First, it’s my fault for not being more direct and asking him to please just stay home. Second, I feel like I can’t ever change my mind when circumstances change, because the response I get is this huffy crap. I’m afraid to ask for any kind of help from him when things change, or when my feelings change. I am also pissed with myself and him because he spends so much time with this chick and while I trust him and I know nothing untoward is going on, it bugs the crap out of me. She likes to do things I don’t like to do, she has more free time than I do, and he would rather go running with her than spend time with his girlfriend who doesn’t feel well and is trying to get things done for our benefit. I need a smack on the head or something.

    1. Myrin*

      I feel like this is something that would be very good (and even necessary) to talk through with him once you’re feeling better and when a specific annoying situation is over and you’re in a calm, neutral state so that emotions don’t run high on both sides. (Like when you’re having a relaxed afternoon together or something similar.)

      Hope you’re feeling better soon!

    2. Whats In A Name*

      I actually think he needs a smack on the head. I think it all comes down to you feeling like he chose his friend over making sure you were ok (regardless male or female) no one can tell you that you are overreacting – they are your feelings. I do think you should be more direct when he gets home and say “look, this is why I got snitty…I need you to understand my feelings.” If he can’t have an adult conversation about your side of things, well, I don’t know enough to give you any other solace beside I’m sorry it sucks and you feel this way.

      FWIW: I volunteer a lot & work 3 jobs (one is just writing that takes few extra hours a month) and my partner has a high stress job but we arrange schedules around each other – like I run while he hikes or he goes to the store while I am teaching, etc.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Thanks… I’m also kind of miffed that our first communication this morning was not, “How are you feeling?” but “Can you check the weather?” I need to talk to him about this.

        The funny thing is that I LOVE my alone time and I will often beg off invitations so I can stay home. So I realize that sometimes I move the goalposts on him, and that’s not fair.

        Side note: roadside assistance came and jumped the car. The whole thing took about 15 minutes. I have the best insurance.

      2. The Bread burglar*

        This. I would be annoyed too.

        Yes you said it was cool but now circumstances have changed. A stressful situation has popped up and you are already ill. Its reasonable to want his help/support with it. Or at least a genuine offer of it.

        But it sound like the real issue is the bigger problem of feeling like you dont have enough time together. And feelif unsupported and that you cant change your mind wih anything. That is the bit to discuss another day when calm and not sick.

      3. overeducated*

        Agreed. This is the exact kind of thing that my husband and I had productive and helpful conversations about pre-kids, so I think it is worth talking about and can work out well. Hope you feel better!

      4. ..Kat..*

        Agree with the above. Circumstances changed and now you want him to stay with you.

        And now some nursing TLC/advice. Getting the goo draining out of your sinuses can help. And, by the way, your sinuses aren’t just behind your nose – they cover most of your face from the upper gum line on up to above your eye brows – and they spread side to side out behind your cheek bones.
        1. Keep well hydrated. This will make your sinus secretions thinner. Warm water with lemon and honey is soothing. You can make this as tea. Or add brandy (or whiskey or some such).
        2. Steam from a shower can help.
        3. Warm packs to the face can help. You can even buy premade gel packs with eye holes at your local pharmacy. Don’t microwave the gel packs – this is an excellent way to burn yourself. Instead, warm water in the microwave and place the gel packs in the warm water. Wrap in washcloth and apply to face.
        4. Some people swear by Neti pots. I prefer the Arm & Hammer aerisolised spray myself. If you go the neti pot route, follow the instructions carefully, otherwise you can give yourself a secondary infection.
        5. If you feel socked-in in your sinuses, you can use pseudophed or afrin to decrease swelling and get your sinuses to drain. Don’t use afrin for more than 48 hours or you will get rebound swelling.
        6. When your boyfriend recovers from the head smack, he should be rubbing your feet, fetching whatever you want, quietly cleaning the house, and cooking you whatever you feel like eating.

        These infections can hang around for a couple of weeks. Hope you get well soon.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Thanks! I have antibiotics and Flonase. I went to my volunteer gig for about 3 hours and it KICKED MY ASS. I am back home and miserable. So I might do many of these things you suggest.

          Boyfriend and I had a brief talk about what happened earlier, and the evening plan is for him to buy me sushi and stay in. I am really weird about this, but I love sushi when I’m feeling miserable. It’s too hot for pho.

          1. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

            We have similar comfort foods! :) Good sushi feels unaffordable around here, though, unless we can get a weekday lunch special. Bah humbug.

            Sorry you’re feeling so ill, I hope some of the recommended remedies makes you feel better.

      5. neverjaunty*

        Yep, he does. Getting huffy and ditching sick girlfriend (after getting huffy) to spend time with Running Chick is… kind of uncool.

        Also, while nothing untoward may actually be going on, it’s worth taking a look at whether your discomfort with his buddy is coming from something about him (e.g., he has a crush on her, even if he isn’t going to cheat), from you (e.g., you feel insecure because she has more free time and you compare yourself negatively), or both.

    3. AJ*

      Hello, I empathize. I often get into “snits” about seemingly benign things (relationship and non-relationship wise). It frustrates me because I am otherwise rational and very level headed. A few thoughts – I definitely agree with the first commenter – have a talk with him after you’ve cooled down, and maybe even when you are feeling better sinus-infection wise. I personally deal with bad pms/ premenstral dysphoric disorder, so I know there are times that are NOT good to have this type of conversation. (Crying at sad/cute commercials = wait a few days to do anything emotionally challenging!) Even though you can see things logically, and you know you “shouldn’t” feel bad, or you know “it’s not a big deal” etc, your feelings are still 100% valid. I like to remind myself that I can’t control my feelings, but I can control how I react to them – react meaning not only things I might say, but thoughts in my own head. Take a second and tell yourself it’s ok to feel bad/hurt/annoyed/disappointed. Slow down and dissect what’s going on – why are you feeling what you’re feeling? It’s also ok to have expectations from your bf – definitely sit down and explain that his actions bothered you and why. It might not end up in a “yes, you’re right” situation, but at least he can hopefully start to see things from your perspective and vice-versa. (For the record I would be annoyed by his actions too.) I feel like a lot of guys (and some women) are pretty clueless when it comes to stuff like this. Regarding the female friend he goes running with – I think you need to decide if him spending time with her is ok with you – what are your expectations? Is there a certain amount of time spent you can be comfortable with, certain activities that are ok, what is your line and what will you do if he crosses it? Again, WHY are you feeling bothered by this. I’m not saying you should sit down with a list of okayed-activities and have him initial it, but it’s important to think about these things and be honest with yourself. What do you want? I think spending time with friends from the opposite sex can work for some couples, while others it doesn’t. It’s so nuanced! I feel like women are kind of trained to say/think “of course he can have female friends!, I’m fine with it!” When actually, in some situations it’s not ok. Or it is ok, until it’s not. (Full disclosure – I have been cheated on, so maybe that is coloring my opinion.) I’d say definitely have your thoughts/feelings/decision 100% together on this if/before you talk to him – you don’t want him to feel like you are accusing him of something. Wow! Hopefully my rambling makes sense! Don’t be hard on yourself! – Alyssa

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Take out the word chick/friend and put in motorcycle, car, computer.

      Anything or anyone who becomes more important to our SOs than us can really start the tempers flaring.
      In a committed relationship each person has to be the other one’s first priority. The motorcycle can’t come first. I think when I say motorcycle, it becomes very clear, “yeah, that is right.”

      I suspect that you are blaming your own waffling as part of the problem. I don’t know, I am not there. However, there is some merit to this point. I endeavored to be more consistent. So if my husband want to go some where at 2 pm, I would make the effort to say “Can we decide this at noon based on how I feel then?” Decide that your nos mean NO and your yeses mean yes. If you truly don’t know then “I don’t know” is your answer.

      It could be that your guy is not good with surprises or plan changes. Or it could be that you have many surprises and plan changes and he sees everything as being uncertain when he talks to you. I suspect it’s a mix of both with no one totally at fault. He could flex more and you could be more concrete, PERHAPS. Again. I am not there so it reasonable to see I could be off base.

      So get a handle on saying what you mean and see where that puts you.

      If you still see him ducking out the door to other priorities then that might be a yellow flag for you. All we can do is tweak what we are doing and see if others respond in a different manner.
      I am a bit concerned that he did not stay with you while you were sick. For myself, I concluded that if I could sleep, my husband could go about his day. However, if I had other things going on, such as non-stop vomiting, I wanted him in the house in case it worked into a 911 call. (Just recently I called a friend in hour number 4 of non-stop puking. It lasted 9 hours so I was glad he came. He said all he did was let the dog out a couple times. ha! No, he was on stand-by in case things got worse.)

      I can see reading that huffiness as lack of patience. And we equate patience with love. If people love us then they are more apt to be patient with us. Once you feel better, ask him if he can bring a little more patience into the relationship. Relationships require a LOT of patience and the longer a couple is together there is more and more patience required.

      Overview: Break this story into pieces and deal with one piece at a time. First: get better!

      1. Definitely Anon*

        I agree that they need to talk and get on the same page about time and expectations. However, I don’t think that replacing “friend” with “computer” is really a fair comparison. Rescheduling or canceling plans to play on a computer or work on a bike has little to no repercussions. It will be there later and has no feeling that can be hurt. Rescheduling or canceling plans with a friend does have consequences. It signals that their time is not important to you and that you are not reliable. If you do it too often you can lose them. Not wanting to cancel plans with friends is not a sign that your SO is not a priority. In fact, an SO insisting that you cancel plans with friends repeatedly would be a red flag. That does not seem to be what is going on here and avoiding the appearance of being controlling might be part of why AvonLady is having trouble vocalizing what she wants from her boyfriend. I just think it is important to avoid the mind frame that if we are in a relationship, that person becomes the only important person in our lives and all other relationships must be sacrificed.

    5. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      Ditto the smack going to him, and Not So New Reader on the patience.
      We had to work our way through a patch of this in the past and one of the things that was key is that my partner doesn’t take sudden shifts in plans well if he’s not primed for him. Then there’s huffiness because he feels caught flatfooted and I take offense at the huff because what’s more important, me/us or the thing that can’t possibly be more important than me/us in this altered situation??

      If that’s his issue, then it may help to prime him with “your activity is fine of course but if anything changes I may need your support and if that happens, I’ll let you know. Otherwise, have fun!”

      And of course knowing if you are truly ok with him being gone or not is also helpful.

      I hope the talk goes well when you feel up to having it.

    6. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Thanks everyone, for your kind words and the support. We did end up talking yesterday, and we both have things to work on– I have to learn to open my mouth sooner, he has to do things without me asking. (He’ll do anything I ask, and I don’t usually mind asking, but sometimes I would like him to offer– like, take the dog out when I’m sick, that kind of thing). We also discussed this woman and how he prioritizes her needs sometimes, and he gets where I’m coming from.

      He also said that there’s no one he would rather spend time with than me. That’s a strange thing for me to handle. I think I’m excellent company, but it’s hard for me to think that someone wants to be with me as much as he does. So all in all, it was a very productive talk. Today was really lovely; the car wouldn’t start again (taking it in tomorrow), and he got out of bed to run errands with me and help me get the battery checked.

  7. Iris Carpenter*

    Anybody got any hints for dealing with aging mothers who beginning to loose it mentally? Memory going, losing the ability to process new information, reverting to routines from 20 years ago? However she values her independence, so nothing will stop her continuing to live alone.

    Based in the UK, if that makes any difference.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      I’m sorry, this sounds really tough. I’d recommend contacting Age UK. They can advise on just this sort of situation.

    2. Jen Erik*

      Could you persuade her to see a doctor? My mum went to see a doctor, and her memory problems were caused by dementia, and – while I know not everyone finds the tablets helpful – they did seem to slow the progress of the forgetfulness for her.

      I went on a carer’s course run by the Alzheimer’s Society – if there’s one near you you might find it helpful, even if you don’t have a diagnosis – there’s a lot of advice that would apply in any case: things like making sure you’ve the power of attorney sorted – but also practical day-to-day adaptions you can make. They’ve also got a helpline.

      Practically speaking, I’ve heard people say that if you get a carer, even if the person objects at first, that soon becomes their new normal: I do find it next to impossible to get my mum to agree to any change, but once we get past that point, she adapts really quickly and forgets it wasn’t always that way. My sister’s suggestion – she has carers for her daughter – was to lie about why they were there until my mum became accustomed. (We haven’t faced this yet, so I don’t know if the strategy would work.)
      On the other hand, my husband’s aunt just refused to admit she had any problem, or to see a doctor, and became unsafe in her home, and they had to make the difficult decision to move her into a care home. Happily, she did settle in well.

      1. JKP*

        I volunteered for one organization where I would visit older people who lived alone, so that someone checked on them and spent time with them every week. One older lady resisted having someone visit because she could take care of herself, so they told her I was coming for knitting lessons and she happily taught me to knit each week when I visited.

    3. Bluebell*

      My family is dealing with this too. Mom’s memory is starting to go and she is on mess that don’t help. We’d love to have her move closer to one of three daughters but she loves her independence. No great advice, just sympathy!

    4. Regular reader, anon for this*

      She really does need to be seen, maybe by her regular doctor first, but better yet by a specialist, like a neurologist, neuropsychiatrist, or geriatric psychiatrist. Saying someone has dementia is like saying they have a headache — a headache is a symptom, one that can be caused by anything from dehydration, stress, or eyestrain to a brain tumor. Dementia has many causes, too, and some are easily treatable or even reversible. Some general practitioners know this, but believe it or not some still default to what they heard growing up, that “it’s just part of getting old”, even though medical science says that memory loss and cognitive impairment is NOT a part of healthy aging! Of course, medical issues may be more common as you get older, and some might not be reversible, but there’s only one way to know.

      I’m going anon for this because I’m going to put links in a response to this that might make it obvious where I work. Please check them out.

      1. Another anon*

        I cannot recommend this comment strongly enough as someone else in medicine (presumably), but am also anon to keep my identities separate.

    5. Alice*

      Try and find out exactly what’s going on – is it a form of dementia, or is it possible that there’s something else going on, like dehydration or medication interactions? Ask her doctor or her pharmacist to go through all her meds and look for any bad combinations or side effects. It may be the case that there is nothing fixable, but it’s worth checking.

    6. Observer*

      See if you can get a companion. Also, a medic alert type bracelet or pendant, if she’ll accept it. *very* frequent visits are good, too.

      Can you get her to move to an apartment really close to you? It can make a HUGE difference.

  8. Luna Lovegood*

    Does anyone else listen to My Favorite Murder?

    I’m wondering if there are any other Murderinos who also read AAM


    1. super anon*

      I’ve never listened to this, but I’m always looking for new crime podcasts and this sounds right up my alley. I’m going to add it to my commute playlist!

    2. Lily Evans*

      Yes!!! I love the podcast and I was lucky enough to even see them live when they were in Boston!

    3. Penny*

      A crime podcast? Can you share some details? I’m almost done with Serial and looking for new podcasts to listen to.

      1. FDCA In Canada*

        It’s a true-crime podcast done by two women, and the best way I can describe it is that it’s like listening to your two friends tell each other stories about that crazy murder they heard about. I wouldn’t say i’s the most meticulously researched one out there, since they do make mistakes, but it’s wonderfully engaging and oddly hilarious. There’s lots of sidebars, discussions about this-reminds-me-of-that-other-murder, and a generally lighthearted feel. It’s great, I love it.

      2. Nancy B*

        If you like true-crime podcasts, then I’m guessing you’ve already listened to Criminal. If you haven’t, I suggest giving it a try. So good. I’m a subscriber, and I’m currently working my way through the archive. Here’s how they describe it on their website: “Criminal is a podcast about crime. Stories of people who’ve done wrong, been wronged, or gotten caught somewhere in the middle.”

  9. Myrin*

    Because I’ll be making twice as much during the next four months than I do normally because of some seasonal work, I finally felt financially good enough to order a new chair for my desk at home – my old one is literally falling apart and, well, that’s not good in general but it’s especially not good because I have back problems and this chair just makes them ten times worse. This new one is an ergonomic one for home offices (which is convenient because this basically is my home office) and gaming (which is also convenient because I’m a gamer) and the reviews unanimously talk about how comfortable and good for your back it is (it even got a little pillow!). Now here’s to hoping that I’ll have the same experience with it!

      1. Myrin*

        Are you alright with me sharing the details next week? I don’t want to advertise something when I don’t yet know if it’ll be good or not but it’ll arrive on Tuesday, so I’m sure I’ll have an idea about its quality when the next open thread comes around.

      1. Myrin*

        Sure! I said “basically” because it’s not a full time job or anything, but still – I’m working on my dissertation right now and I also work for my doctoral advisor (we’re in a literary field, so it’s literally just reading and comparing stuff while sitting at my desk).

    1. Anxa*

      So cool! I am saving up for one because I can never work for more than 20 mins at home without pain, but even the generic task chairs for students at work feel so much better.

      Hope you have a good experience with it

  10. Laura*

    I’m so excited. My out of country internet friend is coming to visit in less than two weeks for two weeks, and mostly I’m between “THIS IS HAPPENING!”, “Oh no what if we don’t mesh well?”, and “My room is still a mess- aaaah!”

    Fortunately I have this whole week off to tackle that last problem.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Yay! You guys will have so much fun. I’ve met so many of my internet friends and it’s always been a good time.

      1. Rainy, PI*

        Heck, I met my boyfriend on twitter while we were living in two different countries! And you can see how well that went (eventually!).

    2. Hellanon*

      I’ve been pretty successful meeting my internet friends – some have become great acquaintances, one is one of my closest friends, and several have largely stayed internet friends. Have fun!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Me too, except for my ex; that really didn’t work out so well (it did at first but later not so much). And really, I don’t have any close friends here at all. I miss having a BFF. I love all my internet friends! It was so nice to have people to do stuff with the last time I went to London.

        1. Workaholic*

          Closets work great for last minute hiding of stuff. and don’t forget the walk through *before* you pick up friend. And hope you have a great time!

  11. anony mouse*

    I accidentally left my car window cracked last night and someone used the opportunity to steal some of my things :(
    The curious thing is… they took all the paperwork I had in my glove box (ALL my maintenance records, proof of insurance, I think the title too…) and some coupons, but not any of my credit cards, the small amount of cash on hand, or the *spare key to the car itself*. None of that was hidden, *at all*, so I am grateful but also quite freaked out.

    From googling this it seems my biggest risk is identify theft or someone trying to claim ownership of my car… they don’t know I’m moving 2000 miles away in two weeks, though, so I just have to survive until then! I’ve filed a police report and put an alert on my credit report. Next week I’ll have to replace insurance and title. Has this happened to any of y’all? Any other tips or things I should be watching out for now?

      1. LCL*

        …(posted too soon) contact your state’s DMV for further instructions. This could get really sticky when you sell the car or register it in another state.

        1. anony mouse*

          Thanks! Fortunately I don’t plan to do either of those things very soon, but that is still not good news when I won’t be in the state to receive any communications :S

    1. Undine*

      They may try to use your registration/insurance on another car. I know someone who got a ticket from a town 500 miles away with their stolen registration. But you’ve already notified police so that should help. I had my registration stolen (a couple weeks ago) & was able to report in online. You might report the title right away if you haven’t found it, so that you have a record. I have not received the new registration yet, so you might want to go to the DMV in person to get a temp registration before you move.

      1. anony mouse*

        Thank you!

        Thankfully they didn’t take my registration sticker, either (which isn’t even affixed to the windshield like it’s supposed to be). The whole picture just doesn’t make sense to me, and that alone makes me more freaked out than I think I’d be if they’d taken everything.

    2. Anono-me*

      My sympathy on the theft. Congratulations on move.

      (I only know this information is USA applicable.)

      Please talk to your your DMV about a replacement title.

      Please only keep a photo copy of your title in the car. The third could have stolen the whole car and said you sold it.

      1. Anono-me*

        I am sorry . Edit fail. I intend to suggest talking to the DMV about a preventing a second replacement title.

        1. anony mouse*

          Thanks! We’re going to get on that first thing Monday morning. Huge lesson learned on the paper storage — safety over convenience!!!

    3. Ktelzbeth*

      I left my car unlocked once and lost a baggie of almonds and some hand sanitizer. Nothing else. Very peculiar. I hope everything turns out okay for you.

      1. You Thief You!*

        I have never done this, but I can totally see a drunk younger me seeing almonds on a car seat and upon seeing an unlocked door things “ooh….I’d love some almonds”. Of course when I was in college locks were still mostly manual.

    4. ..Kat..*

      Just because they didn’t take the credit cards doesn’t mean they didn’t write down the numbers including the three digit codes on the back. If it were me, I would cancel the cards and get new ones.

      1. Workaholic*

        A couple years ago somebody stole my dirty gym clothes out of my car. They discovered their mistake half a block away and tossed them.
        Sorry about your troubles :(

        1. Girasol*

          People are strange that way. My first car was an ancient Volkswagen whose windows were smashed by thieves twice, once to steal the fire extinguisher that any old Volksie is supposed to carry, and once to steal all the spare fuses for its tiny fuse box. Whyever? And the job would have been easier and less conspicuous had they just poked open the loose wing window and reached in to unlock the door. I’ve always suspected young teens showing off their bravado with minor mayhem. (Not that the OP shouldn’t take all the preventive steps suggested. You never know for sure.)

        2. Rainy, PI*

          I had a friend whose VW was broken into and they took half a dozen CDs and *left the iPod*. This was 2003 or 2004 so they probably had no idea what it was, but it was still bizarre.

          1. Jules the First*

            I got burgled in 2009 and they took the iPod *charger cable* but not the iPod, thereby proving that burglars are not the sharpest…

      2. Yetanotherjennifer*

        +1. They may be hoping you’ll not report them stolen and they’ll get a longer spending spree.

  12. JKP*

    My grandfather died suddenly and unexpectedly of a massive stroke this week. He would have been 88 this summer. He liked to tell the same stories over and over again every time family would visit, and I wanted to share one of my favorites that I thought AAM readers would appreciate in hopes that a few strangers will be thinking of him today and smiling.

    He retired as a foreman at a manufacturing plant, producing a variety of custom parts, including parts for NASA from the original Apollo missions all the way through the various space shuttles. When he was young and just starting in his career, one day he was alone in the breakroom when a monkey dressed in a suit tapped on the outside window and gave him a pleading look as if to say: “It’s cold out here, please let me in.” He always had a soft spot for animals, and since this monkey was wearing clothes, he imagined that it was someone’s lost pet and if he let it in, the monkey would climb into his arms and maybe there would be a tag or collar so he could call the owner. But no, once he opened the door, the monkey ran in the breakroom and right past him into the plant itself. They had to shut down the factory line and spent the whole day chasing this monkey around the plant trying to catch it. My grandfather feigned ignorance, so no one knew who let the monkey in, but this story became legend in his industry. Such legend that 20 years later at a conference when he finally confessed that he was the one who let the monkey in, there was an almost stampede to the payphones as everyone tried to call friends/coworkers to tell them, “You won’t believe who it was who let the monkey in!”

    I don’t tell the story as well as he did, but it’s what I always think of when I see someone here post: “Not my circus, not my monkeys.”

      1. JaneB*

        Oh, I could almost hear the delivery in my grandads voice, what a lovely story… so sorry for your loss

    1. fposte*

      That is an excellent story, and sharing it is a great way to pay tribute to your grandfather.

    2. Rebecca*

      I’m so sorry for your loss! What a wonderful story and a great memory to share with us.

    3. Confused Publisher*

      What a story to remember him by! Thank you for sharing.
      I’m sorry for your loss. It resonates especially hard with me because I lost mine to a sudden, massive stroke too.

      1. JKP*

        Sorry for your loss as well. I’ve been trying to find consolation in the idea that he didn’t wither away from sickness, but was still fully living his life right up to the end. Just suddenly passed out and never woke up.

    4. Liane*

      I so sorry for your loss, and yes that is a fantastic story. Tell more here, over time if it helps you. I would love to read them.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      What a great story. Your grandfather had an extraordinary life. I hope you write his stories down for your family as a keepsake. I am sorry for your loss.

    6. kewlm0m*

      What a unique way you chose to remember your grandfather – by sharing one of his stories with all of us! Now I will think of you and him every time I hear a story about NASA or about a monkey! So your tribute to him will live in my memory and honor you both as well! So very sorry for your loss.

      1. JKP*

        My favorite part about him telling this story is that it always featured the mayhem of the monkey running around the factory and everyone afterwards wondering who had let the monkey inside, but no one seemed to question why?!? there was a monkey dressed in a suit standing at the window in the first place.

        1. Sally O'Malley*

          Well, I’m wondering. LOL! Did they ever find who it belonged to or why it was dressed that way?

          1. JKP*

            I don’t remember him ever explaining where the monkey came from. After they caught it, I think animal control took it and tracked down where to return it.

  13. katamia*

    Chapstick recommendations? I just started a medication that’s drying out my face/lips a lot, and my current chapstick (The Body Shop) is just not cutting it. My doc recommended Dr. Dan’s Cortibalm, but I’m leery of the steroids it apparently contains and would rather use something without them if I can find something that works.

    1. KR*

      I’ve done several things. Every night I put a lot of Vaseline on my lips so they don’t dry out at night. I also do it every morning as part of my makeup routine. If I’m wearing lipstick I just put the Vaseline on top. I live in a super windy and dry area and before this lived in a state with awful winters.
      B) Burt’s bees is life, honestly. It’s so good, it supports bees, and it works.

      1. Chaordic One*

        If your lips are actually chapped, a hydrocortisone ointment with a petroleum jelly base will help with healing. The ointment seems to work much better than the creme A couple of the most popular brand names are “Cortizone 10” and “Cortaid.” Many stores carry a lower-priced store brands of the same product.

    2. Sylvia*

      Dr. Bronner’s. Or Vaseline.

      I have only seen Dr. Bronner’s lip balm in Target, but I would bet that Whole Foods also sells it.

      1. Manderley*

        Dr. Bronner’s is also on Amazon. It’s all I use – keeps my lips moist but not sticky and is organic.

    3. super anon*

      The only lip balm that works for me the Fresh Sugar Lip Balm from Sephora. It’s expensive, but I use an entire tube without losing it and it’s the only thing that keeps my lips un-chapped while taking acne medication for my face. I also will scrape out the lip balm that’s inside of the tube after it looks like it’s empty and put it into a tin container and keep it beside my bed to use at night.

      In the winter when I started taking my new face medication that was super drying and wreaking havoc on my lips, I would use a sugar lip scrub at night to gently exfoliate off the dead skin, then I would use the Fresh Sugar balm, and then top the balm with Vaseline to lock in the moisture, and this seemed to help. Also, make sure you’re drinking enough water – I find when I’m not drinking enough it causes my lips to dry out and be uncomfortable.

      1. Merci Dee*

        I second the Burt’s Bees recommendation. It’s the only chapstick I use because I have such terrible reactions to any other brand (lips peeling and flaking, red and irritated, etc.). And there are so many flavors to choose from! My favorite is pomegranate.

      2. copy run start*

        Burt’s Bees is awesome! I switched to cheap Chapstick brand though because I got tired of throwing out expensive chapstick with every cold. (And of course then I didn’t have a cold for 2 years….)

      3. Beatrice*

        I swear by Burt’s Bees, but for some reason only the plain, unflavored kind works for me!

      4. Lemon Zinger*

        The original Burt’s Bees is hands-down the BEST lip balm I have ever used. Ever.

    4. CatCat*

      Palmer’s cocoa butter works best for me. They offer it packed in lip balm tubes.

    5. Red*

      Shea Moisture, ChapStick total hydration, and good old Carmex are all favorites of mine

    6. HannahS*

      I actually really like Burt’s Bees, the plain honey/beeswax one (the peppermint is too tingly). It’s pretty waxy, so I find it acts more like a barrier cream. It’s great in the winter, when everything dries out so fast. If you’re thinking you want something like vaseline, but less goopy, then Burt’s Bees is the way to go! But if you want something more creamy/hydrating, then this probably won’t feel nice.

    7. Sunflower*

      My lips get destroyed during the winter and straight up Vaseline works wonders.

    8. Lightly-chewed Jimmy*

      Burt’s Bees (the plain honey & beeswax) or Nova Scotia Fisherman (the Fisherman Lip Balm or the Fisherman Sea Salt & Caramel)

    9. Cristina in England*

      The only one that works for me (to the point where I get it imported from the US) is BLISTEX DCT Daily Conditioning Treatment. Not too thick/waxy like other similar ones, DCT is nice and smooth.

    10. Rainy, PI*

      It’s hella expensive, but Fresh Sugar lip products are the best I’ve ever used.

      Next best–make your own! Beeswax and/or cocoa butter, a little almond or jojoba oil, melt and stir in the microwave, pour into an empty lip balm tube. (If you are sensitive to beeswax, which sometimes happens, just use cocoa butter. It will still solidify.)

      Do NOT use Carmex–it’s pretty much just a product intended to dry your lips up and make them fall off in pieces. Okay, I exaggerate, but it’s full of irritants and things that people are commonly allergic or sensitive to, like lanolin, camphor, menthol, salicylic acid, and benzocaine. The more you use, the more you have to use, creating a vicious cycle of chapped, peeling lips and sadness.

      1. Pharmgirl88*

        I’m seconding the Fresh Sugar products – I keep it at home because it’s pricey and I don’t want to lose it, but I only apply it in the morning and at night, and it lasts a really long time.

    11. Fifty Foot Commute*

      I switched from The Body Shop to Burt’s Bees Ultra-Conditioning (the one with the white tube and silver cap; it isn’t minty) when I moved to the midwest a few years ago, and I think it was a good switch.

    12. Lady Jay*


      Back in college, I discovered the chapstick I used was drying my lips out, not actually moisturizing them, and I switched to Burt’s Bees because I’d heard good things. I’ve been using it since then, exclusively, for 10+ years.

    13. Claire (Scotland)*

      I swear by the Naked Lips lipbalm! I use the superfoods one because it smells amazing.

      I find Vaseline is really bad for my lips – it moisturises them initially but over time it seems to make them more inclined to dry out and flake. I won’t use it anymore.

      1. Nina*

        Same here! I had a bad breakout of eczema on my lips recently, and it was cleared up by using Aquaphor after a week.

      2. k8page*

        Me too! I have extremely dry and chapped lips as a side effect to a medication I take, and regular use of Aquaphor is the only thing that works for me.

    14. Elizabeth West*

      I love Burt’s Bees, especially the honey flavor. I use the beeswax but I like the honey better. The fruity ones seem to dry me out and don’t taste good.

      When I had a really bad case of contact dermatitis around my lips recently, I got some of that Blistex LipMed (it comes in a little blue pot) and it healed me up really nicely. I like to put that on at night now.

    15. Not So NewReader*

      Desert Essence Lip Rescue, non-gmo, Ultra Hydrating with shea butter. DE has several types I go with the Ultra Hydrating.

      I get it at health food stores, it’s about $2.19 here. I liked Burt’s but this stuff works twice as good for me.

      Don’t forget to hydrate from the inside, too. Chapped lips, dry hands, all that, are little warnings to increase water intake.

    16. Ktelzbeth*

      My favorite is Whole Food’s brand vanilla honey flavor, if that’s in your neck of the woods. Otherwise, I like Badger Balm’s classic lip balm line, usually in vanilla Madagascar, just as well, but its a little pricier.

    17. Brendioux*

      The only thing that works for me is 100% cocoa butter that I get from Cococare The Yellow Stick. I tried everything under the sun but sometimes I can go a couple of days without applying this and my lips actually feel normal! Of course, staying hydrated helps heaps too.

    18. Stellaaaaa*

      I love the Glossier balm in the coconut scent. It’s like Aquaphor but with extra oils added in and it makes a huge difference.

      I don’t care for the Fresh balms. They contain mild versions of retinol and other anti-agers that are theoretically good but can be irritating if your lips are already dry.

    19. Sami*

      For ANYTHING skincare or makeup related, I always check www (dot) beautypedia (dot) com
      Excellent scientific analysis and reviews.

      1. Stellaaaaa*

        The reviewers there don’t actually try the skincare. They just research the ingredients and see if they line up with Paula’s particular standards. Paula is off-base a lot. She wants everything to be all-in-one multi-taskers with high concentrations of drying/irritating anti-agers. She also spreads a lot of misinformation about ingredients that she happens to not like on her own skin.

    20. On Fire*

      We stumbled across maple lip balm while in Vermont on vacation. It’s from an individual and includes things like cocoa butter and avocado oil. I’ve ordered some from her website – the options are maple or wild blueberry.
      My husband works outdoors year-round, and this really has made a difference in preventing chapped lips through the winter. Website is wrenhouse (dot) com.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I use a Blistex medicated balm I bought in Germany, as sometimes Eight Hour Cream isn’t enough.

    21. lucina*

      I love Nuxe Reve de Miel lip balm, the one in the little pot, but I’m not sure it is available in the USA anymore.

    22. Tedious Cat*

      I really like EOS but that might just be because the little eggs are so cute.

    23. Stephanie*

      I like a lip balm Shea Moisture makes, but it’s definitely more on the goopy side.

    1. Bella*

      Pure argan oil – I use it for face, body and hair care. I also mix couple of drops in my face day cream (but I use only a tiny bit of makeup – almost invisible layer of face powder and mascara). Amazing stuff, I would however recommend to look for pure Moroccan oils only.

    2. Rainy, PI*

      Yes. I like it, mainly for my hair, although in the winter it’s a good night moisturizer. I find that it really hangs on.

      I also take a biotin supplement that is “argan infused” and hasn’t killed me yet. It also does seem to help my skin, hair, and nails more than my old biotin supplements did!

      1. Rainy, PI*

        As an oil treatment. You can put a little on your ends before you wash, to protect them from the shampoo, or use it as a light styling balm after washing by rubbing a few drops between your hands and stroking them through wet hair. You can also use it as a more traditional oil treatment by applying it to dry hair, brushing it through, and leaving it on for an hour or overnight before washing it out.

    3. Lemon Zinger*

      Acure make a really good line of body products, many of which have argan oil in them. I swear by their shampoo and cleanser!

    4. Hypnotist Collector*

      Yes, I use Acure argan oil each night. It’s part of my awesome skin trifecta – Burt’s Bee’s facial cleanser for sensitive skin (no more soap – it’s made a huge difference), Kiss My Face 30 SPF Face Factor sunscreen/moisturizer, and a drop or two of argan oil at night. I’m 59 and wish I’d discovered this routine at 25.

    5. Stellaaaaa*

      I really love argan oil. I have acne-prone skin that can’t handle any of the base ingredients in cream moisturizers and argan doesn’t break me out. Here’s another vote for Acure – they make scented argan oils. As awesome as argan is it can smell very earthy, and that smell will hover in front of your nose all day long if your skin gets hot or sweaty. Don’t bother with the $50 Josie Maran argan unless you’re the sort who likes to maintain Sephora Rouge status.

    6. nonprofit manager*

      Yes. I use it has a light styling aid for my hair. I recently started using it on my skin as a cleanser and moisturizer. I am 52 and still have oily skin. Or I used to. Using argan oil, sometimes straight and sometimes mixed with sunscreen, has actually helped. My skin looks much better now than when I was younger.

  14. Valeriane*

    Seconding the enthusiasm for The Twenty-One Balloons! It’s one of my favorite children’s books, too; I loved passing it on to my friends when I was in college and then to my kids. How can you beat the combination of inventions, cooking, and Krakatoa (which island I first heard of when my fourth-grade teacher read us The Twenty-One Balloons aloud in installments after lunch).

    1. Undine*

      “Professor William Waterman Sherman found in wrong ocean with too many balloons. Refuses to say how or why.” Love it.

      Does have a couple racist moments, though. You have to get past a cringy part near the beginning.

    2. Gingerblue*

      I have a vivid memory of that book even though I don’t think I read it more than once as a kid. I’m pretty sure it was my introduction to basic ideas of supply and demand–there’s a bit about not flooding the market with diamonds, right?

      1. Effie*

        Yes there is! I didn’t read it until I was in my twenties because Claudia (of the Baby-Sitters Club) didn’t want to read it and I thought it was uncool and I’m sad I waited so long. Better late than never though ;)

    3. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      This is one of my favorites too – I wore that book out as a kid!

      Now its on my Kindle but I loved the illustrations in the book and its not the same on a device. I thought it was a brilliant bit of writing and a great story.

    4. Zathras*

      It was one of my mom’s favorite books when she was a kid, apparently, and I remember she got it for me for Christmas more or less as soon as I attained the appropriate reading level. I loved it.

      I think she got me this and Around the World in 80 Days the same year, actually. I later told her it was her fault I became the sort of person that gets itchy feet easily.

    5. Me2*

      Love The 21 Balloons. I just purged a million books before we downsize our house by half, but it is definitely in the keep pile. I love to reread my favorite children’s and young adult books, reminds me of being cuddled up in the chair in my bedroom spending entire days reading. I also love The Phantom Tollbooth, I think I might do some reading along with my laundry this afternoon.

  15. MsChanandlerBong*

    Have any of you ever dealt with trigger points? Every so often, I will wake up in excruciating pain, and the pain is caused by a big “rock” in the affected muscle. This week, it’s my shoulder/upper arm/neck. I can barely use my right arm, and it even hurts when I turn my head to the right. It started last Monday, so today is the sixth day. I tried everything I could try at home before I went to the doctor: heat, ice, Tylenol, Flexeril, Tizanidine (I have Tizanidine from the last time this happened and I had to go to urgent care, and I take Flexeril as needed for neck muscle spasms), and even ibuprofen, even though I am not supposed to take ibuprofen due to my kidney disease. Nothing helped. I slept for 13 hours after taking the Tizanidine, but I woke up with the same pain. I went to the doctor yesterday, and he said it’s a trigger point. I got a Rx for Prednisone, as that is the only thing that has helped in the past. I just took my first dose, so I am hoping it works (I couldn’t take it yesterday because the pharmacy didn’t have it ready until 5:00, and I never would have fallen asleep after a 50 mg dose). He also prescribed Baclofen. It made me tired, and I slept a long time, but the same pain is still there. Does anyone have tips for preventing this from happening? I do arm circles and stretch during the workday, but that doesn’t seem to prevent the big “rocks” from forming in my muscles. I kind of need to be able to use my arm!

    1. fposte*

      Get The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook by Clair Davies. He was the original trigger point guy, and it’s filled with good tips for self-massage.

      Also consider massage therapy, not just self-massage. You’ve got a complicated health profile so it might be a good thing to have somebody to go to regularly on the soft tissue stuff.

      1. Dear Liza dear liza*

        Seconding this. Sometimes my trapezoid muscles get so tight I can’t turn my head. My best bet is a massage therapist who has training in trigger points. Regular massage won’t do it.

      2. Cristina in England*

        Yes seconding this book! I got this and a Theracane to go with it. That book changed my life.

    2. Undine*

      Tennis balls, foam rollers, theracanes — they can help. So can massage. But I honestly didn’t get consistently better until I found a wonderful physical therapist who does bodywork and PT. It’s often a weakness/imbalance that makes you use one muscle more than you should that sets this off.

      1. Anonak*

        I want to second the Theracane (or similar instrument. Also, Biofreeze is great, not necessarily for the trigger points themselves, but for painful muscles in general.

    3. No, please*

      When I had those symptoms it was bursitis. Maybe you could find some exercises online or talk to a physical therapist? Massage may help but you don’t want your shoulder to freeze, so movement is key- from my experience.

    4. Rainy, PI*

      Yup. I have the “Frankenstein” trigger point issue, and have since I was a teenager. I deal with it by taking a mild muscle relaxer at the absolute first sign of a spasm, and then apply heat and use this nifty little trigger point self-massager I got a while back. I also have an acupressure mat thing that is basically an undersized yoga mat with savagely toothed disks affixed all over it, which you lie on until you simply cannot bear it anymore. It actually helps quite a lot. Wear a shirt the first few times until you acclimate!

    5. mreasy*

      I got trigger point therapy (shallow lidocaine injections in the affected area) to help heal from a hip injury, and it worked where nothing else had. The reasoning behind the treatment there was that in walking, I was correcting for the pain and the muscles were developing such that the injured area stayed weak – may be different for your situation. But it made a huge difference in only a few weeks after MONTHS of pain.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Ugh. Muscle pain. This is how a perfectly fine day gets totally ruined.

      I have found magnesium helpful and I also work with potassium. I am shocked by how much pain can come from dehydration. Try as best you can to get a good supply of water into you everyday. I promise this will not be a waste of time for you. I noticed awhile ago, if my bowels don’t work on a given day, I can plan on having more muscle pain.

      I had a rock in my shoulder that would not die. It took years. But the rocks in my feet left once I started taking magnesium. I think it matters how long I had the rocks before I started treating them. The feet rocks were newer.

      I have also had great luck with peppermint oil. You can get it at a health food store. You only need a few drops, so that tiny bottle will last a while. You rub it on the bad muscle. I do it at night so I can sleep and people at work do not have to put up with peppermint in the air.

      Maybe a chiropractor who uses vitamins and minerals would find some way to ease this stuff for you.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        I can’t take any potassium supplements due to my kidney disease (the kidneys are responsible for maintaining a normal balance of electrolytes; when they don’t work properly, you can get really sick from too much potassium building up in your blood), but I will try some magnesium!

        1. Anon for this*

          You may want to check with your doctor before trying magnesium too. I am currently in the middle of a bowel cleanse for a medical test (ugh), and the instructions say not to use the magnesium citrate prep if you have kidney disease. Not sure if that’s because of the magnesium itself, or because there is also sodium in there.

          You were probably already going to ask your doctor before supplementing anyway, but thought I’d mention it in case!

    7. Whats In A Name*

      I recommend a therapist or masseuse licensed in trigger point. Also, if you haven’t already you might want to talk with a neuro guy – it could be something like dystonia, which can be treated with botox injections, massage therapy or physical therapy – or some combination of those.

      I also recommend foam rolling/tennis balls/stretching and flexility exercises in areas most effected even when you aren’t having an episode. It may help alleviate some of the tension as it is building up instead and prolong time between episodes.

      You can also buy a face cradle (similar to one that a massage therapist uses) that can attach to your bed. If your symptoms are most often in your neck try laying with your face in the cradle. it allows your neck to relax and may help alleviate some tension. We got ours on amazon at the suggestion of the neurosurgeon.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        I need to make an appt. with a neurologist anyway. I’ve been having terrible neuropathy for no discernable reason. My blood sugar and A1C are always normal, so I don’t have diabetes. I do have lupus, which could be attacking my nervous system, but my rheumatologist doesn’t think that’s the case. It could also be the result of monoclonal gammopathy (I am hoping it’s just gammopathy and not multiple myeloma; I will find out in a couple of weeks when I get my blood tested again). In any case, it’s awful. I get stabbing/burning pains and painful itches (where it starts out as if someone is pricking me with a needle, and then an itch spreads outward from that spot). One time, it felt like someone had taken a hot fireplace poker to my chest–just an awful searing sensation. But if I can get in with someone, I will ask about dystonia as well.

  16. Alistair*

    Long time lurker, very infrequent poster here. I’m not sure why I started thinking about this recently, (probably my mind wandering while I was folding maps this week) but I figured ya’ll are the perfect folk to ask!

    So I don’t undetstand it when people say “I can’t cook” or “I can’t bake”. Now, I’m no genius in the kitchen, but there are plenty of days and nights where I have to make dinner for my daughter and I. And while I don’t make anything fancy, I can cook pasta, or follow the directions on a box I pull from the freezer or pantry, and so on. I can certainly bake a cake or brownies, but know that everything I make comes out of a box.

    I know I’m not making anything fancy, and I’m not making anything from scratch. But to me, I’m cooking and baking!

    So then, when people say they can’t cook, does it mean fancy meals from scratch? Can’t bake means can’t make a cake from just flour and eggs? Or something else?

    So curious! Thanks everyone!

    1. Uncivil Engineer*

      I think they mean they can’t cook or bake anything that doesn’t come out of a box/bag.

      When I was in college, I walked through the front door to find my roommate struggling to make boxed mac & cheese. I quickly fixed her problem (too much milk) but she really couldn’t cook much of anything on her own.

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, I think that’s what they mean, too.

        I find that as someone who is quite the good cook/baker, I have a weird blind spot in that regard in that I wonder how it’s possible to not be able to cook/bake (and I’m not talking about knowing a million recipes by heart or being able to create complicated stuff all on your own, I just mean following a recipe) – I learned cooking by simply doing what any given recipe told me to do and I don’t understand why people who can’t cook/bake don’t or can’t do that. I hope I’m not coming across as snarky or condescending, I’m just super interested in that because I don’t get it on a very funamental level – would any self-professed not-cook be willing to talk more about it?

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Some recipes are confusing. Especially if you’ve grown up without learning basics about this stuff and you feel intimidated and stupid.

          Life is not entirely logical, and “I can’t” is often not about facts.

          1. katamia*

            Yeah. I don’t enjoy most cooking/baking and don’t do it much, but I still cooked with my parents as a kid enough to know what a teaspoon, tablespoon, etc. are and to recognize when something might be a typo and do basic recipe tweaks to make something more to my taste and stuff like that, but if my parents hadn’t cooked with me as a kid, I would never know this stuff. I could see someone growing up in a family where people didn’t cook much or where kids were mostly kept out of the kitchen not knowing some or all of those things.

        2. Ramona Flowers*

          PS I give up on at least half the recipes I want to make as I don’t understand what they’re telling me.

          1. Myrin*

            That’s so interesting! I’ve only ever come across a handful of recipes I found confusing and then that was mostly because the steps were weirdly jumbled. What is it that you don’t understand, if you don’t mind my asking? Like, is it using fancy culinary words that you don’t know or is it just the general actions you have to take or something else entirely?

            (I hope it’s alright I’m asking you this. I’ve been wondering about this forever and yet was never able to actually have a real conversation about it, so I’m beyong intrigued!)

            1. Ramona Flowers*

              It’s completely fine to ask!

              So sometimes it’s because they’re jumbled as you say. Sometimes I don’t get what they are telling me to do or there’s some fundamentally basic explanation missing about how to prepare or use a particular ingredient that I can’t figure out from Google as everyone expects you to already know it.

              1. MT*

                The very first time I tried cooking fried rice, I started at Step 1.

                It turns out that cooking the rice before you fried it was an implied Step 0. This was so common sense and assumed that not one out of the five or six recipes I checked out mentioned it.

            2. Kate in Scotland*

              I taught a friend to cook when we were graduate students. Things he quite reasonably didn’t know included: Which one of these pans is a large pan? How big does finely chopped mean? Do I need to peel this? What is a simmer? Nowadays he’d be able to get some of that on the internet, but I think he’d still struggle with things like knowing which things you have to stir/watch all the time and which ones you can leave for a while, and with adapting recipes to different ingredients or equipment.

              1. Onnellinen*

                My mom loves to remind me of the first time I lived on my own, and called her to ask what “simmer” means! These things are not obvious!!

              2. Elizabeth West*

                I learned all this in Girl Scouts and then home economics in school, and my mum let us bake as long as we cleaned up after ourselves, when we were old enough to use the stove without getting hurt. But yeah, I’ve had friends whose parents never taught them this or never learned it in school. They had NO idea what to do and ate out a lot.

            3. Elsajeni*

              The big problem I run into with recipes tends to be timing — because I’m not a very skilled or confident cook, it tends to take me longer to do basic things like “chop an onion” or “grate 1/2 cup of cheese” than the recipe expects, which means that either the order of the steps as written doesn’t work for me (something gets burnt or overcooked while I’m preparing the next thing to go into the pan, or something that’s supposed to stay warm sits for too long and cools down, or whatever) or the whole recipe ends up taking so long and being such a pain that by the time I’m done I just want to set everything on fire and get drive-through instead. (I also run into timing issues with recipes that leave out “obvious” steps — sure, maybe I should have read through the whole thing first and realized I would need to grate that cheese, but it would have helped if the ingredients list had said “1/2 cup of cheese, GRATED” in the first place.)

          2. Rainy, PI*

            If you want some suggestions I have some, as someone who taught herself to cook as an adult. (My mother is a dreadful cook. She owns 3 herbs/spices. It’s horrifying.) If you do not, I will refrain. :D

        3. Sparkly Librarian*

          I usually say “I don’t cook” rather than “I can’t cook”. I *can* follow a recipe, and I find it hard to understand people who don’t or won’t follow instructions but then complain about the result. (Uncivil Engineer’s roommate puzzles me. There is a prescribed amount of milk in the recipe on the box.) My experience is close to JenM’s below: I don’t LIKE cooking, I don’t do it particularly well, but I have to feed myself (and occasionally others). I would never volunteer that “I cook” as a hobby or that “I’m interested in cooking” because I’m really just interested in eating. If it weren’t cost-prohibitive, I would prefer to (almost) always have meals prepared for me. “People who cook” would like to do it themselves.

          1. nep*

            Second. I would say ‘I don’t cook’.
            I’ll throw some vegetables in the oven, or heat up some garbanzo beans in a pot. Beyond that I don’t cook — choose not to. Not into it at all.

          2. MsChanandlerBong*

            That confuses me, too! My MIL is a good one for not following instructions and then wondering why everything she makes “just doesn’t come out right.” Sure, you have some leeway in cooking (I don’t like spicy food, so I often omit red pepper flakes or reduce the amount of spice in a recipe), but you kind of have to follow the basic instructions if you’re not an experienced cook and don’t know how to make substitutions. My husband’s grandmother had an amazing recipe for beef stew, so he was really excited when his mom said she made it for dinner one night. Turns out she didn’t think the tomatoes were necessary, so she omitted them without making a substitution. It tasted exactly like you would imagine: water with a little bit of beef flavor to it. It was awful. She also refuses to follow instructions for cooking times. On Thanksgiving, she put the potatoes on to boil at 11:00. She was STILL cooking them at 1:00. I was like, “Mom, it takes like 35 to 40 minutes to cook potatoes enough for mashed potatoes, not two hours.” To add insult to injury, she does not drain things well (my husband’s main memory of her cooking is eating tortellini that was still dripping with water), so the mashed potatoes were disgustingly wet and tasteless. On Christmas Eve, she makes pierogi, which would be fine if the dough was not still raw when she served them. It’s not that she can’t cook; it’s that she refuses to follow instructions.

          3. Anon and alone*

            Uncivil Engineer’s roommate doesn’t puzzle me. Some people don’t realize that there’s such a thing as a measuring cup. My brother did this with boxed mac & cheese, only he put too little milk because he used another type of cup (teacup my mom used for scooping out spaghetti sauce). I’m told it made good glue. lol.

          4. katamia*

            Yeah. I can’t chop vegetables very well because I don’t cook often enough to really have the strength/muscle memory for it. It’s a chicken-and-egg thing–I hate/avoid chopping vegetables because I’m bad at it and it takes forever, but I’m bad at it and it takes forever because I never do it if I can avoid it. But I wouldn’t say I can’t cook because I can follow directions and improvise and make things that taste fine and won’t kill you.

            1. Margaret*

              Yes, this has been the biggest hurdle for me.

              Also, as a side note on the chopping vegetables specifically – I never realized it until my now-husband was trying to get me to cook with him, but chopping veggies has always been difficult for me (even when I’ve tried) because I’m super short (5’0″). People tried to show me how before, but it felt so awkward, and it’s because I’m at a different angle to the countertop than the average person. I have to stand on my tip toes, or on a stool, or hold up my elbows oddly, and then I’m at the right angle with the knife to the cutting board to use the proper technique. I’ve gotten better at cooking now, in large part because of this realization.

        4. Perpetua*

          I second Ramona.

          Many (most?) recipes actually have many built-in assumptions. Things like: do you put it in a warm or cold pan, how exactly does “golden yellow” look like when it comes to flour, how hot should high heat actually be, etc.

          Most of it seems easy to learn if you’ve done it (or at least seen it done) at least ONCE, but if you really have no experience, it can be pretty frustrating to want to follow instructions yet be unable to actually do so.

          1. Ramona Flowers*

            Tell you what though, I feel great when I do manage it (unfortunately the flipside is feeling bad when I don’t).

            I make a mean satay, for example.

          2. Tedious Cat*

            Yup, I have no natural sense for things like “cook until golden brown” and such. I think this is why I love my Instant Pot so much: seal and walk away, no guesswork required.

          3. Temperance*

            I grew up with a mother who only made really basic / processed foods. I find that Hello Fresh is a great way to teach yourself to cook well, but I also think it’s kind of a trial and error process.

        5. copy run start*

          So I can follow a recipe… but I tend to eff-up somewhere along the line. Misread a measurement or a temprature or a time, skip a step, grab the wrong thing, etc. Usually something crucial that ruins the whole thing. And then I get super frustrated at having spent an hour and mucked up the entire kitchen for something inedible and have toast. I don’t have the skills to really do anything beyond griddle/boil/bake/nuke/toast at a fundamental level. Attempts to do more have been flaming disasters (literally). The thought of even trying to cook a “nice” meal makes me feel frustrated and depressed.

          I also don’t have a lot of interest in gourmet-style foods, so the amount of time and effort invested feels disappointing to me. I would rather have Annie’s mac and cheese (a tasty box brand) than eat a four-cheese crumbled bacon concoction at a fancy restaurant. I have food sensitivities (gluten, chicken) and have a hard time not gagging on anything that has more than 3 strong flavors or textures, so I really don’t desire more interesting/tasty food. I don’t think I experience food like other people do, and I don’t care to try anymore. I just want to insert something in the oven, wait 20 minutes, pull it out and eat.

          The extent of my skills was baking chocolate-chip cookies from scratch and making buttercream frosting (before gluten sensitivity was discovered). Neither of which I was very precise at, I just always went by “this feels right.” I was known for making a mean cookie though! My mom could cook, almost had a full ride to a great cooking school, but because of my pickiness (see above paragraph), she kept it pretty basic when I lived at home. Dad is an utter disaster and I think I inherited his hopelessness in the kitchen. Though he likes all sorts of foods, and I don’t.

        6. Fog*

          So this might be highly individualized, but growing up my mother and I had a very… tense relationship in the kitchen. It got to the point that I became paralytically anxious when I was asked to do something I was unsure how to do (from not knowing the correct way to chop a bell pepper to not knowing that Pan X is in Cupboard Y instead of Drawer Z).

          It took me *years* to be okay with learning in the kitchen after I moved out. Things that seemed obvious to other people simply did not occur to me, and I think a large part of that was the mental block that kept me from thinking things through (or knowing where to look to learn).

          So that’s what comes to mind for me whenever somebody says they can’t do something. That there is probably a mental block that is interfering with the information flow.

          1. Ramona Flowers*

            I’m so sorry to hear this. My dad was a bit like this, was obsessed with not wasting food (war baby and ex foster kid) so I was terrified of cooking something wrong and not being able to eat it, neither of my parents could cook very well at all and if I didn’t want to eat something I was treated like a criminal so having something I cook Go Wrong sends me into a spiral of panic and self-hatred. My husband once bought me this cute gingerbread kit for Christmas – it was in a tin shaped like a gingerbread man and had all the ingredients. I messed up, the dough was way too sticky, and he came home to me hysterically sobbing and apologising over this stupid gingerbread. I’m sure anyone else would have known how to correct it but I didn’t.

      2. JKP*

        I vividly remember the one time my dad tried & failed to cook something for me when I was a little kid (6 or 7) while my mom was out of town. Boxed mac & cheese. He put everything in the pot of water at once (water, noodles, milk, butter, sauce powder) and boiled it, but then when he strained it, all that was left was the plain noodles. And I was still expected to eat it. He literally can’t cook anything. Only warm stuff up in the microwave.

    2. JenM*

      I’m not sure if this will make sense but for me (can’t cook) it means I have no natural instincts for cooking. I see friends and family who can throw disparate ingredients together and make something tasty. I can follow a recipe but it never really turns out great. Just about edible. I also really don’t enjoy it. So … can’t cook.

      1. SignalLost*

        That’s what I mean when I say I can’t cook. I’m okay in the kitchen – can follow a recipe, comfortable deciding “this is what X means”, etc – but my mother loves cooking and constantly innovates, with either her own ideas or with recipes. She understands what makes a dish work and how to iterate it or change it. I do not.

      2. Jules the First*

        I think this kind of cooking (throw something together from raw ingredients) is mostly a practice thing – Mark Bittman has a lovely essay on how there are four different stages of “being able to cook” which is well worth looking up. His argument is that being able to throw together a delicious dinner out of the contents of a fridge is the top step in cooking skill (like, say, playing an instrument well…) and that getting there takes a ton of practice. Could I have thrown together something edible from my fridge a decade ago? Hell no. Can I do it today? Absolutely. The difference? Ten years of cooking, seven nights a week, 52 weeks a year.

        1. Emily*

          Yes, this is how it happened for me, as well. (Though I’m not sure I’m at stage four yet…) When I started cooking, I was at the boxed mac and cheese level. Through baby steps and copying other people’s cooking, I learned how to cut vegetables (which seems very intuitive now, but wasn’t when I was starting out), stir-fry/saute things, and etc. Now, I’m usually able to try a new recipe – even one with unfamiliar ingredients and techniques – and have it come out tasty on the first try.

          Like a lot of things, I think that reaching a certain level of knowledge or skill makes it easier to continue gaining skills in that domain, but the startup is hard.

      3. Gloucesterina*

        This might sound weird, but I have long been able to cook (in the sense of being able to follow directions properly to make thing X) but it took me about 3-5 years into adult life cooking for myself on a regular basis where I actually began to like the meals I cooked.

        Another way of putting this is that cooking taught me what I like to eat.

        Also, I didn’t know about using salt when I started cooking for myself. Big problem!!

        1. Gloucesterina*

          Part of the learning process, I think, was also figuring out a repertoire of basic, quick meals that I knew I would enjoy eating. If you don’t yet have that set of go-to meals in place, I think the mental side of things (planning, timing) is far more challenging.

    3. Undine*

      Some people consistently burn things, can’t season them, or stuff like that. My sister can cook, but she says she can’t for the life of her follow a recipe, which means she can’t bake a cake. When her kids were growing up every birthday cake was a disaster. She’s plenty smart and plenty competent, but she just can’t help herself.

      It’s like some people always kill plants.

      1. copy run start*

        I am also a plant killer…. If the air plant in my bathroom dies then I’m done with the plant kingdom for good!

        1. Someone*

          OK, offtopic for this thread, but I can’t help myself…

          Are you making sure to regularly spray your air plant (tilandsia) with distilled water? They grow in tropical regions and live on rain water (which basically is distilled water…) so they are very sensitive to hard water.

          Best way to deal with plants is to google them and get their basic need regarding water, light and substrate. And I’d say the most common and fatal mistake is in regard to water. Most common house plants thrive on moist soil but absolutely cannot deal with wet soil – it causes root rot, due to anaerobic conditions in the soil. And it can take ages till it shows in the leaves.

          1. copy run start*

            I have done nothing… it still looks green and spikey? The bathroom gets really humid when I shower. It doesn’t have any soil either, it’s just in this plastic container.

            I can’t really have any other house plants at this point since my cat eats them. I do have a bamboo at work but it’s in some sort of zombie state. It looks like it’s dying, but then it makes a new leaf and I feel like I can’t put it in the trash yet until it completely goes.

      2. Sarah*

        Speaking of people who can’t season things… I have multiple friends who don’t use salt in any of their cooking and it drives me bonkers. They say it’s because they don’t like things tasting salty, but it doesn’t need to taste salty if you just put a little in! Salt is a necessary ingredient in **every recipe.**

        I have another friend who legitimately just can’t cook (and tbh is very bad at driving as well). She’s in med school and before that was one of the best students in our very competitive high school. I think she just spends so much time being a genius she doesn’t have time or energy to teach herself how to “adult.” I once tried to teach her to make chicken stir fry, and between the food safety issues with the raw chicken and the 5 minute explanation of appropriate sizes to chop veggies to, I developed a new appreciation of people who “can’t cook.”

    4. Ramona Flowers*

      Sorry to comment so many times. I’m just having trouble collecting my thoughts as some of this is lack of confidence for me and some of it is anxiety that happens to have attached itself to cooking.

      I kind of think it’s like anything: some people can teach themselves and some can’t, just cooking is a more fundamental thing we are all meant to be able to do. I can teach myself a song on the guitar by reading the tabs, I taught myself HTML by reading tutorials and looking at source code, and taught myself a bunch of sign language but that doesn’t stick for everyone.

      1. Myrin*

        Oh no, I hope my questions above weren’t making you feel bad! Please feel free to not answer if that’s the case!

        (Also, if it makes you feel better, I can’t do any of these three things in your second paragraph. Putting stuff in italics on this site is about as much code as I know.)

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Oh no, not at all! I feel bad about this because of life stuff, not because of your perfectly reasonable and kind comments!

          Cooking is just such a ubiquitously necessary skill and is seen as a basic one but I just struggle with it for both emotional and practical reasons.

          1. Kate in Scotland*

            Ramona, I can cook but you just described exactly how I feel about DIY and home maintenance.

          2. Jules the First*

            The Food Network taught me to cook. Not kidding….

            I watched hours of it before I even had access to a kitchen, and it was fabulous for learning what things were supposed to look like when they were ready, whether that was prepping or cooking. The best one, if you want to up your cooking skills, are Jamie Oliver’s 30-minute meals and 15-minute meal series – he actually cooks the dishes, live on-screen including prep and now they’re in reruns, you can buy the cookbook so you can assemble your ingredients and then cook alongside him (which I’ve used successfully to teach a couple of friends to cook). The brilliant thing about his stuff is that each recipe teaches you a basic cooking skill that you can then practice and hone (and he does bits about which pieces of kitchen kit will really save you time and effort and which ones are gimmicky and not useful).

            If you’re more a reader than a watcher, I highly recommend ‘Cook with Jamie’ which is that reference book you were looking for which assumes you know nothing (including that the potato needs to be stabbed before you put it in the microwave), all in a handy indexed volume accompanied by recipes which will let you practice specific skills and get used to filling in the shorthand of the kinds of recipes that appear on blogs and in other cookbooks.

          3. Garland not Andews*

            For learning to cook I would recommend the book “How to Boil an Egg” by Jan Arkless. It explains everything.

          4. Gloucesterina*

            I learned a lot from watching Lida Bastianich’s cooking show on PBS–partly because 90% of her recipes begin with toasting garlic and red pepper flakes in olive oil. There’s something so pleasing and ritualistic about starting to cook that way, I learned to enjoy the process rather than seeing it as a chore.

            That said, I still hate prep work because I am slow.

      2. leGenevieve Shockley*

        I have no understanding of HTML, but I taught myself ASCII years ago and then data-base using Microsoft Access.

        My point, most computer coding uses a specific organization and plan.

        Cooking/baking is much the same way. I got to where I really enjoyed cooking once I re-organized my kitchen. I USED to stack my pots and pans inverted pyramid style. I hated to cook because I would have to take the whole stack of pans out of the cabinet (usually lower because it offered greater height) to get to the pan that I wanted and then replace the stack back in the cabinet to get it out of the way. Then after the pan(s) were washed, I would have to remove the stack again to put the clean pans away.

        But once I got a heavy tension extension rod and placed it between the upper walls of my (admittedly narrow) kitchen, I was able to hang the pots and pans from that rod and take down JUST the pan I wanted to use. You could also get 2-inch closet dowel rods and holders for extra support. Google closet rod holder because I don’t know how to put a link in.

        I also got pocket style shoe sorters, hung them over the closest door in the kitchen (pantry and/or laundry room door) and placed my cooking utensils (spoons, knives, spatulas, etc.) in the pockets . This meant that I didn’t have to go digging through drawers to get the utensil that I needed.

        Other than this, learn the ways of cutting vegetables, onions, etc because being able to cut uniform pieces of food goes a long way in cooking.

        If there isn’t a cooking school near you, check out/buy a copy of
        (How a few simple lessons transformed nine culinary novices into fearless home cooks)

        Also, I personally prefer to get canning jars to use to store left overs. The clean in the dishwasher easier than plastics, and with common sense can be used in the microwave or heated up in a pan of hot water. And you can often find them at garage sales to save some money.

        Ok. I’ll get off my soap box now.

    5. AlaskaKT*

      I have a friend who literally can’t cook. She’s just super ditzy about ingredients and what certain pans are for in the kitchen. She’s the kind of person who consistanly uses metal spatulas on non stick pans, and soaks cast iron to clean it *shudders*. She lives with her sister who does most of the cooking for them.

      Oh, she’s also banned from using the microwave at work. She’s managed to light something on fire with it THREE times.

      Other than that, my husband can’t cook. Part of that is living on ramen and Mac & cheese growing up, so he never had any practice. Now he’s married to me he doesn’t bother to try. If it isn’t some kind of heat and serve from a can he doesn’t do it, and would rather go hungry waiting for me than make something himself.

      1. Temperance*

        FWIW, I grew up with a lazy mother, too, and I still know how to cook. I think all adults should be able to feed themselves.

        1. AlaskaKT*

          Without getting into it to much, his step mom wasn’t a lazy cook, she cooked big meals for the family all the time. He just wasn’t allowed to eat them.

          Luckily I love cooking, so I don’t mind doing it for him.

        2. Ramona Flowers*

          I’m sure you didn’t mean it like this, but it’s exactly this kind of opinion that makes me feel so inadequate that I end up feeling too anxious to try and improve.

          1. Djuna*

            I grew up with a mom who suffered from depression, and a dad who once tried to serve us uncooked, defrosted chicken nuggets for dinner.
            I mostly took over cooking at home at age 13, out of necessity.

            My mom’s sister was a lazy cook (she never cooked, it was fish and chips every night), and sent 4 children out into the world who literally could not boil an egg.

            I think cooking is often an emotionally loaded thing for so many reasons, but we all come from different places when it comes to food, and you should never feel bad about where you fall on the cooking spectrum.

        3. Cara*


          I’m 41, can’t cook, and haven’t starved to death yet. But your concern is much appreciated. /sarcasm

    6. Fifty Foot Commute*

      I think a lot of people who say that mean, “I have no interest in cooking, and therefore no experience so I am not confident in my ability to make things.”

      Then there are people with executive dysfunction; cooking and baking requires using a lot of skills simultaneously, and for me at least, depending on how well I’m doing on a particular day I may or may not be able to cook. (But when I’m good, I’m really good, if I do say so myself. ^_^)

      1. Kate in Scotland*

        I hear you on the executive dysfunction. I am a decent cook, but had to ban myself entirely from cooking when hungry or tired (now I batch cook at weekends).

    7. Anonak*

      When I say that I can’t cook, I mean that I

      1. Lack basic cooking skills. I cannot cut and dice things evenly. I am usually confused about whether something is done or not (I once left a singlechicken breast in the oven for over an hour because the broken thermometer I was using told me that it wasn’t done yet.)

      2. I’m not great at juggling multiple things cooking at one time (e.g. an entre and appetizers) I find it very stressful.

      3. It’s a hell of a lot of work. Cooking a full meal takes forever, at least for me.

      4. Requires you to have a stocked pantry/fridge. I’m single and I’m generally cooking for one, so it seems like ingredients go to waste all the time. Also I hate grocery shopping.

      5. Cooking requires lots of doing dishes. I hate doing dishes.

      6. Inevitably, whatever I’ve put my hard work into turns out poorly and I’m either forced to eat something gross, or figure out something else to eat.

      Strangely, though I find baking much much easier than actual cooking.

      1. SignalLost*

        Baking is not cooking. Baking is chemistry; cooking is performing music. I’m an okay cook, though a lot of what you said here applies to me – also generally cooking for one and haaaaate spending time on food when I could spend it on something much more interesting – but I’m an amazing baker. The logic is totally, totally different.

    8. Thlayli*

      It depends. Some people literally cannot cook an egg without making it too runny or too hard. And some people are just humblebragging. And then lots of people are in between.

      I used to say I was a terrible cook but what I meant was I know how to cook only very specific things. Now I know how to cook a few more things and sometimes I even go off piste and ignore the instructions (shock horror). So now I think I’m a great cook. But in reality I was probably slightly below average before and now I’m slightly above average.

    9. FD*

      I work with a number of people who don’t know how to cook at all, like not even from mixes, and literally don’t own things like pans.

      I will admin I find it a little bizarre since I’ve been using a stove on my own since I was 8. Which I grant you IS probably a little young, but it still makes me side eye at people who are intimidated by things like boxed cake mixes.

      1. Rookie Manager*

        Made my mum a surprise birthday cake from scatch at age 8. In some countries we’d be running the household at that age!

    10. Rookie Manager*

      My partner “can’t cook”. Its a mixture of not being allowed in the kitchen as a kid (which is where I picked up all the basics and then some), a dislike of instructions, not being fussy about what he eats and lack of confidence.

      He doesn’t want to learn but can now do basic ‘oven food’; you know, take something out the freezer, put ot in the oven, turn after 10 minutes, remove when ready. He once tried to cook pasta when I was sick, he boiled it for over an hour (!) and the pasta congealed into one giant lump. I had to secretly take a photo for my family as I’d never seen anything like it! We have since discussed the advantages of using a timer and how it is possible to over cook things.

    11. Lady Jay*

      I was actually wondering the exact same thing earlier this week! :) So I’ve enjoyed hearing everybody’s perspective.

      But after reading through the comments, I think the key is a willingness to learn. I actually love cooking! And I grew up with a mother who made sure I learned the basics, like how to hold a knife. Even so, and even after nearly ten years of living independently, there are still things I’m learning. I texted my mom at 6:30 AM a month back, to ask about keeping raw hamburger safe, and only two years ago, I was frying eggs on HIGH heat and then wondering why the oil in the pan was smoking.

      Anybody can cook as Remy would say (Ratatouille), as long as they’re willing to make mistakes at first and find stuff out (Google is your friend). And not everyone will be interested, which is okay too.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        It also helps if you have a mom to ask when you’re stuck, and if you’ve learned to feel okay about making mistakes.

        1. Lady Jay*

          Well, there’s also Google. :)

          But no, I get your point. That’s why I found it so interesting to read everybody else’s points, because your experiences shed light on why following a recipe is more difficult than it seems at first glance. I appreciate y’all sharing.

    12. Chaordic One*

      I never really learned to cook until I was an adult. The thing about cooking that no one ever really admits is that it is kind of boring, just standing there waiting around for something to boil, or brown, or bake. Timing matters and you really do have to pay attention to do it well.

      At first, I got bored and would go off and start doing something else, while waiting for the boiling or browning or baking and then, while I was off doing something else, whatever I was cooking would inevitably burn. So I don’t do that anymore. Well, not nearly as much.

      As someone who has food allergies to things in most prepared and prepackaged foods, and who has to cook because I’d probably starve to death if I didn’t, I’ve actually become a pretty good cook. It requires attention to detail and it’s not my favorite thing to do in the world. but after a while it sort of becomes intuitive and second nature. It would bug me if my obituary said something about my being a good cook.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I so get this.

        Growing up, learning to cook meant a lot of yelling so I decided to skip it. When I married I had to cook for a diabetic who was afraid of a stove. I got him to help with the cooking and years later he made some cakes from a diabetic recipe, just because it was interesting to him.

        With my allergies by the time I prepare a meal I do not want it. Eating is a chore, on top of preparing the food.
        I am told I am a good cook. I tell people they cannot say that in public. I do not want more opportunities to cook than I already have. If someone else wants to cook they are welcome to do it.

        I have been on my own for a while now and I eat simple meals. Plain veggies, plain meat. I get worried that I have lost my sense of what appeals to others since my diet is not mainstream.
        With all these things combined, I will tell people, “I don’t cook” or “I am a lousy cook”, whatever it takes to get out of meal prep. (This method does NOT work. People think I am joking.)

    13. Sylvia*

      I think some people have certain topics that just make them have a mental blue screen of death. Maybe they’re afraid of embarrassing themselves by being a beginner. Maybe they are convinced that it’s a “talent” and not a “skill,” and they don’t believe they can learn to do it.

      For someone I know, it’s art. She’s very good at crafts and other creative work, but if something is “an art,” she is so convinced that she is incapable that she won’t even try. Say “art” and she shuts down. For me, it’s singing. For some people, it’s anything they call “technology,” or “I’m not good with computers,” and we’ve seen the letters to Alison about how that goes.

      Anyway. “Can’t cook” is a common variation on the nonsensical “can’t _____” problem. I’ve never been able to get someone out of thinking this way (and nobody’s ever convinced me I can learn to sing). It is frustrating, though.

    14. Stellaaaaa*

      It’s sort of like fashion. You know how some people are able to throw together perfect outfits with a good balance of accessories and also match their makeup accordingly? Something similar applies to cooking. I can make soup out of a can and add seasonings, I can make anything that comes in a box, and I can basically cobble together something that I’m having a specific craving for. I say I can’t cook because I lack the instinct for putting together a complete and well-coordinated meal. I’ll make a pot of pasta and graze on it for a few days, grabbing other stuff out of the fridge as I want other flavors and food groups. But an actual meal? Different foods that all work together on the same plate? That I cooked with divided attention at the same time? No way.

      1. TL -*

        I don’t think most people just can throw things together to look good – being fashionable requires work and interest and the willingness to live through their mistakes. A lot of people who can’t cook, I think, are afraid of making mistakes in the kitchen, which is why starting young helps – I made some gawdawful meals between 8 and 15 but by the time I was on my own, I was convinced that a) I could eventually make something to feed myself and b) turning out a culinary disaster was annoying and amusing, but never a huge deal. You can always make your version of a PB&J instead.

        1. Stellaaaaa*

          I wasn’t talking about the practice. I was referring to the talent and instinct. Even with practice, there are lots of people who will never develop the “artistry” that it takes to predict whether certain ingredients or foods will work together, and I think it’s important to acknowledge that. No amount of practice starting from the age of 5 would have made me a star basketball player. I just don’t have the talent for it.

          1. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

            I’m with you. The only reason I managed to learn how to make basic meals with more than two food groups is because of other people. Either I’m feeding them or they’re telling me what meals to make with recipes and then after years of practice I have a tiny set of go to possible vegetables, starches, and proteins. I’ll still ask twitter what in the name of all that’s holy should be made of (list of random ingredients), though. And by George, the real cooks always have an idea. I love them.

          2. TL -*

            But if I asked someone if they could play basketball and they said no because they weren’t as good as Kobe Bryant, that would be a silly metric to answer by. Same with cooking – the ability to cook doesn’t mean you’re a master chef food artist ninja. It just means you can make reasonably good food the majority of the time you try to.

          3. Jules the First*

            I’m the first to admit that I don’t have the “artistry” to assemble a dish from scratch – but I can fake it, thanks to a lovely reference volume called The Flavor Bible which is basically an index of ingredients that lists the other ingredients that top chefs would combine with it.

            So, for example, I can look up “Cod” and learn that good combinations include anchovies, basil, beans, carrots, celery, chives, fennel, ginger, cured ham, leeks, mushrooms, potatoes, and tomatoes. Or I can use one of the ‘chef shortcuts’ and go for cod with mushrooms and sweet peas in tarragon sauce, or cod with capers, chives, lentils, and potatoes.

    15. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      I can cook edible meals and on occasion even knock it out of the park, and I cook most of our family dinners but conversely I have also: set off the fire alarm a dozen times, burnt things to a crisp, sliced open my hand and at least three other fingers on different occasions, set my hair on fire (no fire alarm that time), and have never managed an even fine mincing of any onion or other minceable food, ever, but that last is more due to hand pain troubles than any general incompetence.

      There are times I probably shouldn’t be trusted in the kitchen but as long as there are no witnesses and no one gets sick, then I am … kinda … capable of cooking. I mean, food gets made and eaten anyway.

      On the other hand, I’ve got friends who have degrees and can’t be left alone to boil water or something goes terribly wrong. I haven’t figured out if they just need more time to hide the evidence and learn from their mistakes like I do or if it’s never gonna happen.

    16. Ramona Flowers*

      I’ve been trying to think how best to express this without offending people, and I apologise if I don’t manage it as well as I’d like.

      When people talk about learning to cook, and how they were able to do it, there are often things that have helped them, and those things tend not to be universal, but can feel normative or even privileged. Cooking is a basic and necessary skill, but not everyone can do it.

      Firstly it takes knowledge. For example of which foods are good for you, what they look like when they’re NOT cooked properly, whether they can be stored and reheated, and how to do that.

      It can help if you have, or have had, at least some of the following things, listed in the order they occur to me rather than an order of priority. You can learn without these, but it’s harder/means there are more barriers:
      1. A family home growing up
      2. People in that family who knew how to cook and showed or taught you how to do it
      3. People in that family who made food, cooking and eating enjoyable and safe for you
      4. An okay relationship with food as a result
      5. The ability to cope with making mistakes and therefore to engage in positive risk-taking
      6. Enough money to feel okay about trying to cook and having to throw it out as it went wrong
      7. Access to a functional kitchen
      8. Safe experiences in the kitchen e.g. never having gone to hospital after burning your hand
      9. Good memories of kitchens rather than bad ones
      10. Experience of using kitchen equipment*
      11. Lessons at school about food and cooking
      12. Ability to anticipate and understand the unspoken and unexplained assumptions in recipes
      13. Someone you feel able to call and ask questions if you don’t know
      14. Someone you feel able to ask for basic help who is capable of teaching you without taking over or losing patience
      15. Not being discouraged from asking for help after too many people laughed at you or told you to “just follow a recipe”
      16. Ability to read or have recipes read to you
      Etc, etc.

      (*For example I grew up without a microwave. Nowhere on either a microwave or a potato does it say to prick holes in them. Everyone just knows. If someone hadn’t told me a funny story about an exploding potato I wouldn’t have known when I got my first microwave.)

      And how do you fix this stuff? Money. Money for ingredients you might end up wasting and for other things to eat if that happens. Money for therapy to help you learn to make mistakes without having panic attacks or crying or hating yourself. Money for kitchen equipment. Money for a home with a decent kitchen.

      If you don’t have money, you need other things. Confidence. Knowledge. Resourcefulness. Ability to predict what you have a decent chance of cooking well. Maybe you need access to a food bank.

      You cannot get all of this just by following a recipe. When people say all adults should be able to cook, and that they did it by following recipes, they’re often not thinking of all the other things that enabled them to be able to follow a recipe in the first place.

      I don’t mean to offend or chastise anyone here. I just thought this was a point worth making.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I reallllly like this. You have laid this out so well. I have thought of cooking as one of those things that like an octopus, cooking has tentacles that go into many other non-food areas.

        Start talking about cooking and a person can instantly jump to how their parent would not give them food as a child; the money wasted on the roast they burned last week and wondering how to pay the mortgage this month. And all we did was mention what we had for dinner yesterday.
        Cooking can carry a heavy weight/charge because it is a necessity that we eat. It’s not optional. Food has us cornered and we have no say in the matter.

        Thanks for this post. There is a lot of thinking behind it, nice job on that.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Thanks for reading and replying so kindly. I have to say the octopus is a great metaphor.

      2. mamabear*

        Thank you for posting this. I am pretty judgy about adults who can’t cook, but this made me think about it differently.

      3. Gloucesterina*

        So much wisdom here! I also think that cooking has so often been a gendered activity that cooking skills are also not often recognized as skill or knowledge–you do it or you don’t do it. When as you demonstrate here, it’s a whole complex of social and procedural knowledge.

    17. Jen*

      My mom cooks but she never really taught us ourselves. My brother and I both had food service jobs and know how to cook, but I will cop to having burned my hands and arms when I was learning. I am one of those frustrating people to cook with because unless I am baking I eyeball things and don’t always measure.

      If you want to learn to cook, I would really recommend some YouTube videos. FoodWishes, lots of small DIY cooks, and watching a bunch of people doing the same thing so you get the whole process. Old school cooking shows actually often skip a lot of the hard work.

      I would recommend starting small. Baking and roasting (especially lower heat) is generally easier then frying or sauteeing and there is a wider wiggle room so you are less likely to burn. With pan cooking start with something cheap and fast (like eggs) so you can get to learn heat distribution and timing without costing money (when learning to be a line cook you do eggs and onions first).

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Serious questions: what does lower heat mean and what can you cook on it?

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I think of 350 degrees as a lower heat, since I avoid anything that needs 400 degrees or more. I cook everything around that temp because I hate cooking at higher temps.
          For one thing cooking at higher temps means the food will cook faster. All it takes is a phone interruption or someone at the door and I momentarily forget the food, which burns as a result.

          The higher temps also make my kitchen unbearably hot.

          Some people like to cook on high heat because they find that it helps to lock in the meat juices. I have never had much luck with that. I end up with a burned outside and raw inside.

          Most everything I cook is 350. Sometimes a recipe will say 325 or 375, so I will set the oven according to the recipe. If I am making cookies or cakes I make sure to use the exact temperature recommended.

        2. Jen*

          Heat really depends on what you are making, what is high heat for beef is different for high heat from chicken. But generally – if you’re going to try roasting something for the first time, find a lower-heat recipe and you’ll have more wiggle room between done and burned, so if you mess up the timing, you’re less likely to make something inedibly overdone.

          People who cook absolutely everything (including meat) on super high heats don’t know how to cook. A thick piece of meat on high heat 100% will burn the outside but leave the center completely raw. You see this a lot with people who really crank up the heat on a grill, and you get hamburgers that are charred with raw centers. Not appetizing.

        3. TL -*

          Lower heat means a lower cooking temperature.

          The lower heat you cook something, the longer it takes to cook. The same cut of brisket can be barbequed (very low heat, 12+ hours), roasted on low heat in the oven (4-6 hours), or cooked at a higher heat in the oven (1-2 hours). All three would taste different.

          Almost any meat can be done a at a variety of temperatures, as can veggies.

            1. Carmen*

              This is a really insightful look at a seemingly simple concept. I did have the privilege of growing up around people who could cook and made tasty food. But when I started cooking for myself I burnt everything and set things on fire. My roommate have me 2 simple rules that helped. 1. Never cook higher than medium on the stove and don’t leave the kitchen. With those rules, and lots of practice I was able to become a good cook myself.I also recommend starting with eggs. Versatile and can use many different cooking methods.

    18. NotoriousMCG*

      So – I didn’t learn to cook pasta until I was in college. One day I called my then-boyfriend now-husband from my apartment (that I’d lived in for six months) to say, “Why do you think my burners aren’t lighting?” To which he promptly responded “You have an electric stove.”

      I just never ever learned even the most basic of tasks. When I follow recipes it uses words that I’m unfamiliar with and I really quickly get discouraged. I was MEGA PROUD of myself a year ago when I learned how to make scrambled eggs and grilled cheese from YouTube. Luckily that dude married me and he knows how to cook

    19. Nancy B*

      I’ve been teaching my children to cook, and I’m surprised by how many details are not included in recipes. These are things that I just know from years of experience. My kids can follow the recipe, but I often have to make suggestions about which tools to use (non-stick pan or cast iron? flexible spatula or rigid?), exactly how high the flame should be for cooking an egg, where the rack should be in the oven, or similar. These things feel intuitive to me, but a novice needs instruction. Or they need the tenacity to keep trying after experiencing lots of failure in the kitchen.

      I used to think, “If you can read, then you can cook,” but seeing recipes through the eyes of my children has shown me how much of good cooking comes from experience.

    20. Emily*

      Posting pretty late here, but personally I just want to say that I’m really glad my Mom taught me and my siblings how to cook and bake when we were very small. We could whip up pancakes, waffles or French toast on Saturday mornings, and bake cookies all the time. Later we graduated to more substantial things and really enjoyed it. Now we all like to cook and bake for friends and family, and it’s just such a useful skill.

  17. CatCat*

    Spouse and I are going out to dinner tonight and then to see “Phantom of the Opera.” We’re both pretty excited! He’s never seen a big theatrical production. We’re going to get dressed up. I’m going to use a snazzy vintage clutch (it’s red with black lace webbing) he gave me with my dress.

      1. CatCat*

        I’m excited for the showiness! I’ve seen the stage show a couple of times. I saw the movie version and was just kind of meh about it. Gotta say, the stage special effects and live cast make it.

    1. Knitchic*

      So jealous! My hubby gave me tickets one year for my birthday, he’d never seen a show either. He loved it! I’ve seen quite a few, but Phantom is my absolute favorite. Have fun!

  18. Confused Publisher*

    We were at a birthday party for a one-year old today. As the only childless couple of child-bearing and child-rearing age present there (we were there as moral support for the birthday child’s mother), we faced a lot of questions about why we don’t have children, phrased using wording and in tones that suggested that something was seriously wrong with us, and our marriage. As the woman in the couple, I especially came in for the bulk of the ‘but why’ and ‘surely you’ll change your mind’ comments, even though my husband manfully kept trying to answer/deflect these.
    To the best of my knowledge I’ve NEVER asked people why they failed to use birth control when told they had or were having or were planning for children. (I love – and am popular with – my friends’ kids, I’m thrilled for babies who will be arriving in the next few weeks/months, but I don’t want children, and am medically unable to have them. I don’t see why random people need access to this information, and anyway, at that point, the especially persistent would just have suggested adoption as if they were handing me the moon. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything.)
    If I had hurt people like that, I would feel like I actively deserved this kind of condescending grilling, but right now, I’m just feeling really attacked about my life choices. Why do people think this is acceptable ‘social’ conversation?

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      I wish I knew. I’m sorry – it’s not okay for people to push on this.

    2. Penny*

      I truly don’t understand why people do this. The only times I’ve had baby countdown questions with people are when I know they’ve been planning. For example, I have two friends who got married last year. Their basic plan which they’ve told to friends was to live in their rental apartment for another year, get a house, and then start a family. They’re now in the process of house searching, and think they’ll be buying before the end of the summer. Naturally we’re asking what their baby timeline is now that they’re moving forward with their plans, but that’s only because they’ve been transparent with their plans.

      Even if I asked a married couple I didn’t know as well what their kid plans are, if they said they weren’t going to have kids, I’d breeze right past it without blinking. Maybe it’s because I’m female and, though not currently seeing anyone, I’m leaning towards a child-less life, but I’m with you that I don’t get why people are okay pushing to topic with people they don’t know that well.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Just so you know – asking people who are planning can be really stress-inducing too. It took my husband and I over a year to get pregnant and even though we’d been open about wanting kids, it did start to stress me out when people asked me how that was coming along. It can take a while and sometimes require medical assistance. And sometimes it doesn’t work out at all.

        1. Gingerblue*

          Uggggh. What do people want, a public announcement every time you have unprotected sex?

          I mean, I suspect a lot of people worry about seeming uninterested once people have told them they’re trying. But it’s such an awful thing to ask. Either you’re pregnant and not ready announce it or not pregnant when you want to be. It’s not like telling people about a much-wanted pregnancy is going to have slipped your mind.

        2. Melody Pond*

          I’m never going to have kids, but I can totally understand how this would be the case.

          Hopefully this doesn’t veer too close to the Thing We Don’t Talk About On Weekends, but after Mr. Pond got a “soft” j*b offer and was waiting for an offer letter, I finally told my mother about it – but in that conversation, I specifically asked her not to ask us if it had happened yet. I had to do the same thing with my dad – “As soon as there’s something to report, I will let you know.”

          The point is – if there’s good news? You’ll hear about it, you won’t need to ask. But if it’s bad news? I really don’t want to be asked and then have to give a disappointed “No, it hasn’t happened yet” answer. That makes it more stressful for me/us. I can see how the same principle would/might apply for many people who are trying to get pregnant, too.

      2. FDCA In Canada*

        I have to say. Please do not ask things like this of people. I have been open with family and friends about exactly the same thing and the same plan–we got married, bought a house, and told everyone then we would start a family. But we have been diagnosed with infertility and every single day is a struggle for us. It is immensely, horribly painful when people ask things like this of us. It’s not their fault, but really, there is no need for you to know information like this, which is intensely private and personal, and if they’re good friends you can trust when they will tell you. But as someone who’s been on the other side? It hurts. Very badly.

      3. Penny*

        Okay, since everyone seems to be jumping on me, I’m not being a constant nag about babies to my friend. When they were talking about houses they were looking into, they said they were factoring in how much space they’d need for a kid. That invited the timeline question where they pretty much said oh we don’t know yet, and the subject was dropped from there.

        The only other time it’s come up, we were having our girls only crafting group, with the wife there, where our conversations range all of the place with TMI stuff, including her telling us they’d just had a late period scare and only just confirmed the day before that it was a false alarm.

        I get that some people go way overboard with asking but trust me, I’m not questioning them any chance I get. They bring up babies and then I ask. But I also don’t understand why people can’t tell their friends that topic is not on the table. My friends and I have made a conversational safe word. If the conversation is moving into uncomfortable territory, say the word and the conversation stops. It started as a joke but it works great for us. I used it a lot when my friends asked me how job search was going and I was sick of talking about it.

        Obviously that wouldn’t work with random people you meet at a party but with close friends, you can be honest with ‘That’s not something I want to talk about’. If my friends said ‘we don’t want to talk about babies’, I’d say ‘Okie dokie! What movies are you excited about?’ Just move on to the next topic.

        1. Stellaaaaa*

          Nah, people are being hard on you. If you have close friendships with people wherein they’re okay with you asking the specific question of how the baby thing is moving along, you don’t need to justify that to the internet. I have lots of conversations with close friends that probably aren’t okay by internet standards. Good thing the internet isn’t part of those conversations.

      4. Haggadar*

        As a childless, never married female I used to get the “when are you getting married” or “when are you having children” question – that abruptly stopped when my answer was “when are you going to lose weight?”

        People were very taken aback by that question and my response was always, “that was a really rude question to ask, wasn’t it?”

        I have no reason for not having children or being married other than personal choice. I’ve dated the same man for 14 years, so I’ve had an opportunity, just don’t want to get married…yet.

    3. Katie the Fed*

      Honestly, I think it reflects these people’s insecurities more than anything to do with you. The fact that you’re not enthusiastically opting in to their lifestyle makes them question it and wonder why you don’t find it as valuable as they do.

      That or they’re just social boors who are so wrapped up in kid-world they can’t think of anything else to talk about.

      You can probably shut it down with a “wow, that’s REALLY personal. Have you tried the punch?”

    4. JenM*

      Single and in my early (very early!) 40s so I get this and it’s companion “have you met someone” a lot. When I’m asked if I have children I always say no with a very definite note of relief in my voice. Seems to work.

      1. Workaholic*

        I’m single and in my early 40’s too. From roughly 25-35 i was bombarded with “hurry up and get married” and “you’d better hurry if you want children!” And similar. First just from women, but later guys started in on it too. Thankfully people seem to have given up on me!

        1. mreasy*

          37, recently married, with definitely plans for no kids. Looking forward to people giving up on asking in a few years!!!

    5. Overeducated*

      It’s not socially acceptable! It’s so rude and insensitive! I don’t even ask my friends who have TOLD me they’re trying because it can be a really painful subject for a number of reasons, and it should be their choice when and how to bring up. I’m sorry you were treated that way.

    6. Rainy, PI*

      I think that some of it is that some of these people see others who are thriving and happy and have made different choices than they have–and then feel attacked by the simple existence of people who have made different choices and are happy about it. I know that is dumb, but it seems to happen regardless. There’s also a very “moral” element to a lot of people’s procreation, for some reason, and people who have had children either because someone has told them it’s required or because it’s “just what people do” and didn’t really make a *decision* per se are often quite prone to the rude judgy comments.

      When someone asks me in that very negative, judgy way, I smile and say that I like to sleep and travel and I made life choices that make that possible.

    7. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I think you can probably use some of Alison’s scripts like “what a strange thing to as someone” if something like that happens again.

      Or I’d be tempted to start talking in great detail about my sex life. “Well, you know, we’ve been doing it missionary, but I hear that doggie style has a better success rate for impregnation. What’s your experience been?”

      1. Kristen*

        I really like the idea of turning the awkwardness back on them.

        Seriously though, I like the idea of using a similar script to express shock that they’d ask such personal questions.

      2. Nervous Accountant*

        Oh my god I can picture some people who would get a kick out of that response and just keep goign. Hell, I feel like I may do that! :/

    8. Melody Pond*

      I’m also part of a childless couple, also never going to have kids, and Mr. Pond and I also occasionally get asked about it (we don’t have too many friends with kids that we hang around, so maybe that’s why we don’t get it as often).

      The reasoning I’m about to discuss comes from a mishmash of reading from tons of different sources over years and years that I couldn’t possibly recall perfectly in order to cite my sources appropriately, and also from a bunch of my own observations and just some general life experience. So – as far as I can tell, this phenomenon you’re experiencing occurs because of the following:

      1. There is a very strong social convention to a) get married and b) have kids. It’s a social norm that probably dates back to a time when kids were actually kind of an economic necessity – when having more kids meant having more free labor to help around the house/the farm/whatever. Also, if you go back far enough, having kids was kind of a necessity for the overall economic growth of society (I think many people would argue that it still is necessary for long-term economic growth of a nation). So if you chose not to participate in that, maybe others really did view you as “selfish,” putting your own needs ahead of the needs of the many/society. Which is also why I believe having tons of kids has, in certain historical cultures, been viewed as a sign of wealth.

      2. The reason I suspect that you get more of it, is due to a long history of a patriarchal society where women were basically reproductive equipment (i.e., property) to be owned by their husbands, and not much more. So, while maybe the social pressure to have kids is starting to decrease, in general, the pressure on women is still stronger than on men, especially for a heterosexual couple in a long term relationship, and especially if they’re married. So while I’m sure your friends are not intentionally reducing you to your sexual/reproductive function in their minds, I do believe that this is the unconscious bias that drives most people when they tend to zero in on the female half of a married couple, and ask, “Aren’t you going to have kids? When are you going to have them? Don’t you want that fulfillment?” etc.

      This is a big trend that I’ve noticed. In many cases, social conventions or social values can be traced back to economics. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck, though. And I’m sorry you’re dealing with it. :-/

      1. Beatrice*

        I think both of these are true–economic and patriarchal forces are powerful and often move unnoticed. I also think that we’re social animals, and we look a lot to other people for reassurance about what’s safe, what’s normal, etc. So any time someone does something outside the status quo of the social group, it makes people question that sense of security they had in their own choices.

        The optimist in me is also tempted to think that we have some kind of primal need to encourage the continuation of the species. That would also maybe explain (in addition to patriarchy) why people feel totally free to judge the choices of pregnant people. Whether it’s true or not, it helps me keep a sense of humor about it!

      1. Chaordic One*

        Not to be rude but, I’ve never found “why do you ask?” to be a good response to anything.

        The original questioner will inevitably have some ridiculous lame rationalization for asking the question and will then inform you of it. At least that has always been my experience.

    9. Call me St. Vincent*

      Ugh. This is awful. No one should be asking you those type of questions. It’s so none of anyone’s business and also it’s perfectly okay not to want children too. I also hate the “so when are you giving so and so a sibling?” The weirdest thing is that even people with fertility problems ask stuff like this. I had a good colleague and friend who had a child but spent 3 years and countless thousands of dollars on IVF trying to have another baby and couldn’t. Another colleague always said the “so when is so and so getting a sibling?” and it turns out after I got to knew him, it turns out that he had previously had fertility problems with his partner and they only got pregnant using IVF. I don’t know what possesses people to ask these type of questions. I am sorry!

    10. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t get this either. I hate it because I want kids and have no one to have them with and it’s just rubbing it in. I’m sick of being told to adopt or go to a sperm bank (really). If I wanted to do that, I would have–the whole point is I want to do it WITH someone, not on my effing own!

      I suppose they’re trying to bond, and people with families tend to group together and bond over their kids, school stuff, etc. But it’s annoying AF and none of their business.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      I used to think that only old people asked this question. In a different era it was FINE to almost demand that your next generation get busy on that being fruitful and multiplying stuff.

      But I see from reading here that it has not gone away YET.

      I think it’s fine to say, “You do realize that you just asked me about my sex life, right? And I barely know you…”

      I also think it’s fine to say, “You know times have changed and that is not a cool question to ask people anymore.” I have used this on other topics. “Times have changed and you might want to be aware that it is very UNcool to use that word/phrase.”

      I was lucky in that not to many people asked me when I would have kids. But I really believed that their narrow focus prevented them from being fully involved in my life/my reality. So in the end, these people lost out with their wrong focus.

    12. neverjaunty*

      These people are jerks, is what.

      It’s not socially inappropriate to ask ‘do you have children’, but if the answer is no, they should STFU.

    13. Stellaaaaa*

      I’m in my 30s and I used to tell people that I didn’t have kids because I was single and also not the vessel for the next immaculate conception, but that just caused people to make stupid dating suggestions. OMG you’re totally the first person to tell me to try online dating!!!!!11!!! I’ve never heard of eharmony before thank you, you’ve changed my life and I’m naming all my future children after you.

      I’ve started giving people graphic biological details relating to why it would likely be hard for me to conceive even if I did find a partner and end up wanting kids. Hey, they asked.

    14. ..Kat..*

      I think a lot of people are just trying to make conversation (or even bond) about something that interests them.

      I just reply that I have no children and then ask a question about their child(ren). If they ask why, I just shrug and say “it just never happened.” (No need to tell them why – birth control, didn’t want them, unable to have them, whatever.). And then ask them a question about their little darlings before they can ask more questions. Be vague, and then deflect.

    15. Whats In A Name*

      Stay in your lane people. In your lane. I am so sorry you have to be subject to this, it’s really unnecessary and rude.

    16. Confused Publisher*

      Thank you for the support and viewpoints, everyone. I’m so sorry this has happened to so many of us.
      In this instance, most of these people were strangers to me, which made the persistent needling almost more upsetting. Our friends haven’t asked since I told them about my health, my parents are supportive, whilst the in-laws are currently distracted by other (and imminent) grandchildren: so I guess I let my guard down a bit.

    17. Anon for This*

      For me, the questions began fading after I turned 30 – I think most people had simply given up by then. I usually responded to “when” questions with, “not yet; maybe someday,” because if an unplanned pregnancy occurred, I didn’t want anyone to tell Hypothetical Future Kid they’d been unplanned or “your mom didn’t WANT kids.”

      I did tell a few people that we weren’t planning on children. For the few “why nots,” I said, “I know what *I* was like as a child, and I’ve heard what *DH* was like as a child, and I’m afraid we’d pay for our raising.” ;-D

      Truth? My maternal family line suffers from huuuge gyno issues and post-partum depression (literally suicidal PPD levels). I like *not wanting to die,* and I don’t want the pregnancy-induced gyno problems. But that’s pretty heavy stuff to dump on someone who just wants to talk about babies.

    18. Sarah*

      This kind of questioning sucks. Why do these people need to know about the status of your uterus? Why do they feel they have a *right* to know?

      I’m trying to avoid these conversations later by making it very clear now to my extended family that I actually don’t like kids, don’t want them, don’t want to be pregnant, don’t want to adopt, yes, even if I “meet another man” (after breaking up with my ex-boyfriend I’m pretty sure I’d prefer to date women from now on), yes I’m sure, no I won’t change my mind, etc, etc.

      I wish you the best of luck with the intrusive interrogations. Let me know if you figure out a way to get these people to pipe down.

    19. nonegiven*

      1st time, “Please, drop it.” small forced smile
      2nd time, “Drop. It.” no smile
      3rd time, Say nothing and leave, calmly but immediately.

      They will stop asking

    20. Nervous Accountant*

      Late to the convo, but as someone who’s desperately trying and had 3 losses prior, most recently about a week+ ago, it makes me avoid meeting/talking to new people period. As biased as it sounds, there are a certain group of people I’d avoid (of the same ethnicity/background as mine) bc I know it’s the first thing they’d ask. It’s getting harder to go to baby showers and birthday parties, but I avoid talking about this so openly because last thing I’d want is to be not-invited to “spare my feelings.”

      I’ve always had a response ready for when someone says something ridiculous to shut them up, but I haven’t had to use it yet thank goodness.

  19. Not Karen*

    Somewhat rhetorical question: Why are renters required to give their landlord 30 days (or more) notice yet landlords can post new rentals for immediate occupancy only?

    1. Sparkly Librarian*

      It would be nice if housing worked like employment, right? You look around for a place, apply and get accepted somewhere you like, then give notice to your current landlord and move into the new place (that’s held for you) when the notice is up.

      I hated apartment-searching because I like to plan ahead and it seemed like new listings only went up in the last week of the month. If my lease is up on February 1st, say, and I gave my 30 days’ notice and am looking for a new place to live, I need to know before January 27th that I won’t be out on the street!

      1. Not Karen*

        Exactly. Maybe some people are willing to take the risk of giving notice without having a place lined up, but not me!

    2. Jessesgirl72*

      Renters are only required to give 30 days notice by the contract you sign, not by law. The law protects the renter in that way- you do have to be given 30-60 days notice, depending on factors- you can’t just be thrown out on zero notice. Whereas, if you hadn’t signed a lease saying otherwise, you could totally move out with no notice.

      As to why it sometimes happens, if you’d ever seen a rental property after someone has moved out- or tried to show a rental someone else is living in!- you’d know why. If the landlord would have to be able to accurately know exactly how much cleaning and damage they are going to be left with, in order to show it before the tenant moves out- with limited legal rights to start things beforehand. And they often honestly can’t afford for the rental to sit unoccupied for 30 days while you wait out your notice.

      1. Not Karen*

        I have seen rentals both empty and occupied of comparable quality and condition.

        If you “can’t afford” for a rental to sit unoccupied for a short time, then you can’t afford to own rental properties.

            1. Jessesgirl72*

              It means that you don’t get to decide for someone else what they can or can’t afford or should or shouldn’t do, and that things should be run the way that would most benefit you. If you don’t like the way rentals are run, then stop renting. After all, you’ve already determined what someone else should be able and willing to afford, so you shouldn’t object if someone else determines that for you, right?

              1. Jean (just Jean)*

                >If you don’t like the way rentals are run, then stop renting.
                Please be nice. I’ve been renting for 35 years. As Huntington points out below, sometimes “life happens.” From my own extensive experience I find that most tenants are plain old folks who do their best to meet life’s responsibilities. We may be occasionally inconsiderate re playing our music too loudly or leaving our clothes in the dryer too long, but we are not aspiring deadbeats, bums, and/or vandals.

                As for why some of us turn into decades-long renters? I can think of at least four reasons:
                1. Sometimes people find themselves on the “less prepared” end of the “how-do-you-handle-money?” spectrum. This happens for all kinds of reasons ranging from “too unfocused to get my head together” and “too idealistic to take a job that actually pays me enough to save for a down payment” to “still haven’t figured out how to personify or at least project the type of presence (stable, confident, mature, and possessing relevant skills) that gets me a decent-paying job so I can stabilize my life and start saving.”

                2. It’s possible to inherit money stress from older family members who for whatever reason could not get past their own earlier money troubles. Some people find it hard to defy their early lessons in learned helplessness.

                3.Some people have money-earning troubles completely beyond their control (e.g., entering the job market right as the economy tanks, or arriving in an unfamiliar country & culture, with skills that don’t translate well into the new environment, after escaping life-threatening chaos in one’s country of origin).

                4. People can end up renting instead of paying a mortgage due to medical emergencies and/or chronic conditions that
                1. enter the family via random chance or previously undetected genetic certainty
                2. compel the family to choose between providing a household income and caring for the vulnerable family member
                or 3. compel the family to sell their previously owned residence in order to raise cash to face the immediate crisis.

                Sorry for the run-on sentences.

                1. Jean (just Jean)*

                  I seem to have written the real-estate version of Ramona Flowers’ response to “why can’t everyone just learn to cook?”
                  tl;dr: Sometimes people are “stuck” for reasons that go way beyond the scope of “just follow the recipe,” whether making stew or taking out a mortgage. Life can be very, very hard if people have to build their own emotional/intellectual/financial/common-sense infrastructure.

                2. Not So NewReader*

                  The one I am seeing now, is people are saying that they want a life they do not want to be shackled to a building that needs constant repairs.

                  But I think it is fair to say that any business owner should be prepared to do what is necessary to run a business. This applies to landlords, fresh paint, maintenance work and regular repairs are not optional. Yet so many landlords can go for years without ever inspecting the property for repairs or doing any upkeep work. There’s horror stories all over the internet showing extreme examples of these type of landlords.

                3. Jessesgirl72*

                  We rented for 13 years because we couldn’t afford anything different in the Bay Area. Yes, we had to give 30 days notice and dealt with landlords who were completely unwilling to give us 30 days to move in. We didn’t complain about it, because that is just the nature of the business. As never jaunty points out, the requiring 30 days notice is not the same as wanting immediate occupancy- it is the same as the landlord also having to give you 30 days notice when he wants you to move.

                  During those years, we moved 7 times. We saved up to cover 2 rents for a month or in most cases, part of a month because unless it’s a super hot rental market (and it was once or twice when we moved) they are usually willing to push the move in date a couple weeks. I never had to give notice before I had a new rental secured.

                  And I was being as nice as Not Karen. She was very belligerent about landlords shouldn’t be landlords unless they can do things the way she wants them, when I simply explained the basic fact of why they don’t do it that way.

                4. MindoverMoneyChick*

                  “As for why some of us turn into decades-long renters? I can think of at least four reasons:
                  1. Sometimes people find themselves on the “less prepared” end of the “how-do-you-handle-money?” spectrum. This happens for all kinds of reasons ranging from “too unfocused to get my head together” …

                  2. It’s possible to inherit money stress from older family members who for whatever reason could not get past their own earlier money troubles. Some people find it hard to defy their early lessons in learned helplessness”

                  So much yes to both of these! The analogy between not really knowing how to money and not really knowing how to cook is perfect too. So many of my clients just never learned the basic skills (and if their parents didn’t have the skills that is even more likely to be true.) Some people don’t even know what skills they are lacking, some do but don’t know how to even start the learning process. In some ways this stuff isn’t rocket since, but if you haven’t even been given the basics at some point in your youth, it takes help from someone else, or a serious self-direct effort to learn.

                  As some one who was given the basics and then some by may parents, the knowledge gaps many people have regarding finance really surprised me. But now I see how common place it is and frankly almost inevitable, given that we don’t teach this stuff in school as a matter of course.

                  I’d bet more people know who invented peanut butter than know what compound interest is.

              2. LadyKelvin*

                That is a really priveleged thing to say. I live in an area where median house prices are are 950k. We both Have well paying jobs but we laugh at the idea that we could afford a home anytime soon. For one thing our mortgage would be more than our current rent and that doesn’t even factor in costs like taxes, maintenance, etc that we don’t have to deal with as renters. if people can’t afford to be renters as you say, where do you suggest they live? On the street?

    3. Huntington*

      It’s getting to be the norm where I live to be required to give 60 days notice! Which as you can imagine causes all sorts of difficulties if life happens… (layoffs, death or sickness in family, etc)

    4. neverjaunty*

      These things are not the same. A landlord (at least in the US) must also give renters notice that they have to leave.

  20. AnonAvenger*

    Does anyone else has as much trouble with the Ask A Manager site as I do? I do a lot of Internet surfing but AAM is the only website I visit that has trouble loading. The ads frequently stop the page from loading, or freeze it so I can’t scroll or type. And it’s not just my computer; I’ve tried it on other computers and no dice. Even my phone can’t load it and will often refresh the page over and over again trying to make it work.

    I’m a long time reader of AAM and tt seemed to be working fine up until a few months ago. Allison, I don’t know if you changed servers or ad-bots or whatever but I wanted to give a heads up that AAM is becoming nearly unreadable for these glitches. No matter what computer, Net connection, browser, whatever I try; I seem to have trouble. Even this comment gave me so my trouble to write, I wrote it in a Word document and copied/pasted it over here.

    I’m curious to know if others have encountered similar things.

    1. CatCat*

      Yes, it noticeably slows down performance across devices (Android phone, desktop PC, laptop Mac). On my Mac, it sometimes crashes my browser.

    2. Candy*

      Yeah, it always crashes on my iphone (using Safari). Even when I’m quick to close the ads it still has problems.

    3. Me too!*

      Yes! It’s off the charts and so annoying that I now visit much less. BTW, I only read AAM on my iPhone 7, and it’s the same reloading issues on both Safari and Chrome.

    4. ampg*

      Yep! I have the reloading issues on mobile and when I have it open in chrome on my desktop the whole thing runs painfully slowly.

    5. MicroManagered*

      Yes! The ads are out of control, to be honest. I get animated ones with sound–really annoying if I’m taking an AAM break at work and forget my speakers are on!! The site just crashes while I’m posting a comment a lot too. So frustrating!! I’m not sure if it’s the ads or if it’s getting more traffic than the server for the site can handle.

    6. Jen RO*

      I haven’t noticed anything like that… Samsung S7 and Chrome on two different computers. (But I do use AdBlock on both computers – nothing on my phone.)

    7. copy run start*

      I have to quickly hit the close button on the ads that pop on the bottom when on mobile. Sometimes they’re fine (just take up space) but every 1 in 10 redirects me to another site and I have to wipe the browser to get it back. Trying to write a comment is sometimes horrible — there’s a 5 second delay between my typing and it appearing on the screen. However that might be my phone, it’s getting up to the 1.5 year mark and in general appears to be getting slow. I should do a wipe and restore on it soon. (Android 6.0, Chrome)

      I confess to using an ad-blocker on my desktop, so I don’t see anything. I have no problems on desktop. (Win 10, Opera) My desktop is also pretty beefy (16 gigs of RAM) so… I’m probably not the best desktop example.

    8. Rainy, PI*

      Recently I had to install adblock because on a couple of websites, AAM being one of them, the video ad at the end of the post before the comments would “seize” my reading, such that while I was actively trying to read comments, the ad would keep scrolling the pane back up to the ad to play the video.

      Adblock seems to have fixed that.

    9. nep*

      Yes — a lot of problems with it freezing, page not loading…Worse on one computer than on another but never 100 percent smooth. Not sure why.
      Have you reported it in her section for tech issues?

    10. Annabelle Lee*

      Yes, same issues. On iPhone, iPad, PC (IE, Chrome). Highly annoying. It’s really cut down on my frequency of reading.

    11. Fifty Foot Commute*

      I read exclusively on iOS (mostly Safari, some Feedly) and I’ve never had an issue. I use both 1Blocker (paid for the upgrade) and Adblock (the one with the black and red anti-phone logo).

      1. Mimmy*

        I read mostly on Safari too, and occasionally, the scrolling gets sluggish, almost as if there is some background process that slows things down.

    12. MommyMD*

      It pops off repeatedly when I’m reading and it took my three tries to get through one question. It doesn’t matter if I stop visiting the site, but overall it could affect new readership. It’s very unstable.

      1. JaneB*

        not too bad on my iphone 5s, almost unusable on windows 10 with Firefox, adequate on Chrome on a faster machine. \not quite bad enough to keep me away, but aggravating!

    13. Vicky Austin*

      Every morning 5 questions crashes chrome on my iPhone. The rest of it works fine.

    14. LCL*

      Not a bit of trouble. I view on windows machine at work, iPad at home. I’ve never tried reading it on my droid or windows phone.

    15. OhBehave*

      Sometimes it takes a long time to write a comment. It will freeze then start back up but not where I left off typing. It is often very slow and ads are annoying.

    16. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m going to send this thread to my ad network. But meanwhile, I encourage anyone who’s experiencing this to use an ad blocker, as it will fix it 100%.

      1. neverjaunty*

        There are also ads that don’t in fact let you turn the sound off, and there’s no easy way to report them.

    17. Stellaaaaa*

      The only site worse than AAM re: ads is avclub. My ad blocker shows how many scripts it’s blocking and here it’s often around 30. Avclub gets up to 60 or 70.

    18. ..Kat..*

      I almost never have these problems on my iPad mini using Safari. If I do, I turn my iPad all the way off and then restart it. This usually solves the problem. If not, it is usually high traffic on AAM or my husband is hogging the wifi with a massive download.

      The one ad I HATE is Credit Karma. They will have this half an inch to an inch tall ad across the bottom of my screen. If I touch on this ad, I get rerouted to their website. BUT, many times touching an inch (or two inches or even the half of the screen above their ad – it varies) takes me to their website as well. Knock it off Credit Karma! This never happens with the other ads at the bottom of the screen, so this tells me Credit Karma is being a jerk.
      And their ad is animated. I wonder how much this slows my iPad down.

    19. Jen*

      The good news is I was one of the people having trouble with redirecting ads on my phone from this site (I had to reinstall crhome a couple times) and that problem seems to have gone away for me.

    20. MindoverMoneyChick*

      No worse for me than other sites, but everything seems to have gotten a lot worse these days. That’s the price of free content, I guess.

    21. KAZ2Y5*

      I have Adblock Plus on my home computer and don’t have problems. It is a little slower on my phone – I have something on my phone but can’t remember what! But I can’t read AAM on my work computer. We have Windows 7 and are not allowed to download anything to our computers (like an adblock program). I think it is the video that does me in at work – if that part was dropped I would be a happy camper.

    22. nonegiven*

      I gave up and installed just about everything I could think of that blocks scripts from executing and Flash.

    23. a Gen X manager*

      I have this problem on my laptop at home, but not on my PC at work. Both computers have the same OS, ad blocker, anti-virus, software and I’m using the same browser (Chrome). I have no idea why this happens on (and only on) the laptop.

  21. Legalchef*

    My in laws are here this weekend to help get ready for the baby and my MIL started the visit by asking me multiple times how I am coping without being able to eat pizza, since NYC has such great pizza.

    I have gestational diabetes. So thanks for rubbing THAT in…

    1. No, please*

      I’m sorry. That’s totally rude. Congratulations on your baby! I hope this visit becomes surprisingly pleasant.

      1. Legalchef*

        Right??? I mean, I’m well aware of what I can’t eat, I don’t need a reminder.

    2. Call me St. Vincent*

      Hey, I had GD as well and I also live in a well known pizza city. My nurse said I could have one slice with crust cut off :) I don’t know how comfortable you are taking cues from someone else’s nurse, but I say go for it as long as it doesn’t send you into crazy post-eating sugarville.

      1. Legalchef*

        Yeah, my nutritionist said I could have pizza too, but more than half a slice makes my numbers go crazy, unfortunately! It’s easier for me to just not have it then to have a teeny taste.

        1. Call me St. Vincent*

          Ugh that sucks! I feel for you. The GD diet is tough and pregnancy is definitely no joke, even without the high risk issues that can come up with GD. You can do it though!

    3. BTW*

      If it’s any consolation, NYC does *not* have great pizza. You really have to be in Chicago for that…

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        You hush your mouth!

        Well, Legalchef, for what it’s worth, NYC has a lot of great cuisine, not just pizza, and how often do you eat pizza anyway? I didn’t crave the stuff (or bagels) until I moved out of the city. So remind her that NYC has soooo much to offer, Mom, so much more than where YOU live, so I’m doing just fine, thank you very much. (Too harshly snobbish?)

        1. Legalchef*

          Not THAT often, but I happen to have a few really excellent fancy pizza places near me that I love (and miss). And I miss bagels, too. I’m fine without it, I just don’t need to be reminded I can’t have it!

          And Chicago pizza… pfffft.

          1. Jen*

            Yeah I am from the Chicago area, but I hate Chicago pizza. It is so dense you have to take a nap afterwards and you need a fork to eat it. Nope.

      2. Stellaaaaa*

        I think NJ has the best pizza. It’s about the local water used for the dough. It’s why we have the best bagels too.

    4. Thebe*

      What IS it about pizza? I love pizza, but my husband doesn’t like cheese and therefore doesn’t like pizza. You wouldn’t believe the rude, pushy comments he gets, although he’s low-key about it. So many people, when informed, look amazed and cry: “You don’t like pizza??!!” Then they’ll tell everybody else immediately and the poor guy has to confirm it over and over again.

      1. Legalchef*

        I mean, I don’t really understand your husband, but to each his/her own! I’m sure he’s a lovely person despite his incomprehensible good proclivities :)

      2. Raia*

        I’m more stuck on the fact that he doesn’t like cheese! Is there a texture thing about it or something?

      3. Stellaaaaa*

        Pizza is such an easy “party” food for parents to give us when we’re kids and I think that carries over into adulthood. It’s the rare kid-friendly food that tastes good to an adult palate.

      4. No, please*

        I kind of get this. I don’t like melted cheese because the smell is all I can taste. But I LOVE pizza because mozzarella is very mild. My grandpa hated pizza but loves anything else with lots of cheese. We’re all a little weird I guess.

    5. ..Kat..*

      I can only have the sad, disgusting, gluten free pizzas. Which aren’t worth it. Luckily for me, I have allergies and can ‘accidentally’ sneeze (at will) on the pizza of anyone who rubs this in! Ha ha! Okay, I’ve never done this, but a gal can dream!

      1. Jules the First*

        I highly recommend the quinoa-enhanced pizza crust from the cookbook Quinoa 365 (which is worth getting for its flourless quinoa chocolate cake) and using your favourite cup for cup mix instead of the all purpose flour – it’s good enough that gluten-eaters will happily munch away.

        But I too miss pizza – I switched to the above pizza crust when I went gluten free but gave it up entirely when I had to give up cheese. Because the only thing sadder than a gluten-free pizza is a cheeseless gluten-free pizza.

        1. ..Kat..*

          Ooh. I am ordering this book now. As for your having to be both dairy and GlutenFree, I am so sorry!

  22. Katie the Fed*

    OK, I’m crowdsourcing this here.

    Even though we’re REALLY excited about this baby, a part of me is lamenting the change to our lifestyle. So we’re trying to live it up before the baby comes (at least we will when I stop puking).

    Which brings us to the pre-baby vacation. Where should we go? We’ve traveled everywhere (before we met and after) and normally we’d be perfectly happy to go to Cape Verde or something, but we’d prefer something with good infrastructure and medical care in case there’s an emergency. Zika zones are out. Timeframe is September.

    1. Undine*

      Iceland. Rugged, amazing, with remote places, but very first world and an excellent volunteer rescue system.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        We went last year! I honestly didn’t love it, actually. I found it really overrun with tourists. We may need to get off the beaten track more, but I wasn’t wowed enough to go back. :(

        1. hermit crab*

          Off-the-beaten-track Iceland can be mind-blowingly amazing — you’ll have to give it another chance sometime. I think the key is to get out of the city and to travel on the very fringes of the summer (like, as soon as the roads open). A few years ago, I hiked the Laugavegur with a couple of friends during the first week it opened for the season, and it was like being on another planet. There was nobody else around and the landscapes were just so amazing; plus it was the summer solstice so that just added to the other-worldlyness. I have a picture of my friends walking across this empty, barren, icy landscape near Landmannalaugar and honest-to-goodness it looks like they are hiking on the moon.

          I guess you’re probably not looking for a backpacking trip for your babymoon, though. :)

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I was thinking Hawaii, actually. Where did you go? I’d want to be pretty away from big tourist crowds (I’m surprisingly picky).

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          We went to Kona on our honeymoon and loved it. Definitely on the quiet, non crowded end of things.

      2. Book Lover*

        I went to Kauai for mine. It was wonderful and feltmquieter than Maui or Kona.

    2. fposte*

      What’s the goal of this vacation? Is it to go someplace you’ve never been? Because with an extensive travel history that might not mesh with “good infrastructure and medical care.” If it’s more like “take a trip that we couldn’t do with kids for many years,” you might think back over the places you have been and do a more adventurous version of your previous visit.

      I also don’t know if you’ve traveled to Southeast Asia at all, but Dan, unless he’s there right now, frequents the open threads and really enjoys traveling there and might have some good ideas; medical care and infrastructure shouldn’t be a problem in much of that region.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Hm, that’s a good question. We have’t been everywhere together (and he’s more traveled than me, so I can convince him to re-visit somewhere).

        I’m viewing this more as a relaxing, adult trip. We’ve done plenty of adventure but right now some light hiking/walks, good food, and non-extreme exploring sounds lovely.

        1. Sparkly Librarian*

          My dream vacation that falls into that category is a stay on Mackinack Island. No cars!

          1. Adele*

            Mackinac Island is fun and gorgeous in June during Lilac season. I was going to recommend a Lake Superior trip. Hiking and kayaking at Pictured Rocks, Isle Royale, Keewenaw Peninsula. Just go before or after fly season. I love all the Great Lakes. Bruce Peninsula in Ontario is lovely, too

          2. Christy*

            Oh my god, Katie, go to Mackinac Island! We drove up there as an extended detour to get to Wisconsin from the DC area. It’s gorgeous and temperate and there’s fudge and no cars and green space and two Great Lakes. I think it would be perfect for a babymoon! There’s doctors on the island and the ferry ride to the mainland is quick.

          3. Sami*

            Yes! Mackinac Island! Splurge and stay at the Grand Hotel. AMAZING place!

            And depending on where you live, Detroit’s food scene is VERY up and coming. Then head to Mackinac Island.

          4. Gray*

            Make a note to take a sweatshirt!
            I haven’t been to Mackinaw but I’ve rode the ferry twice to Manitowoc and once to Beaver Island. It can get super chilly out on the lake even when the sun is blazing- I learned that the hard way!

          5. Katie the Fed*

            I’ve always thought of Mackinac as more a family place- somewhere we could take kids. no?

            1. Christy*

              It is, for sure. When I went it was just me and my wife and it was definitely fun as adults. But if you want to save it you could.

        2. The Cosmic Avenger*

          In that case, what about a cruise or resort vacation to somewhere remote? You get the pampering with some exploring, too. Paul Gaugin Cruises is a small boat that goes to some of the really remote islands in French Polynesia, that actually came up in last week’s free-for-all thread, turns out another chatter has been on it, too! Or if you do Hawaii, the Kilauea caldera and the island of Kauai were our favorite parts.

          Whatever you do, I’m envious! We haven’t been able to fit in a big trip for a couple of years now, between first taking care of my dad before he passed, and now work stuff.

        3. Jessesgirl72*

          Last September, my inlaws went to Italy, along the Cinque Terre. They had planned to walk the entire thing, but thought better of it as it got closer. So instead they got an Airbnb near the train station, and they hiked the easier parts of the Cinque Terre, but took the train to the other villages along the way, and some days just spent their day on the beach. September is good in Italy, as most of the tourists have gone back home.

          But I’d also encourage you to not think you can’t travel with the baby! It’s going to be different, but if you want to create a traveler, you need to travel with it! So many of the Mediterranean countries are so kid-friendly- much better than the US.

        4. Kate*

          Exactly to that description: Camp Amalinda in southern Zimbabwe. You can go direct DC to Johannesburg, and then it is a quick hop to Bulawayo. Visas on arrival. Safe and no Zika.

            1. Kate*

              Is it any worse than it usually is? I haven’t been following as closely as I usually do.

              Anyways, that corner of Zim tends to be on the quieter side, the 1980s excepted.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            I’m probably going to wait on Africa for a while. Not a knock on Africa – I’ve been all over it. But it’s a lonnnng flight and I’m not too comfortable with the options if a medical emergency arose (with a few exceptions). I do want to go to Zambia/Botswana – I think we’ll wait until the spawn is old enough to enjoy it. :)

      2. Celeste*

        Mackinac was my first thought. There is hiking, there is history, and there is fudge. The main thing is not to go someplace like Vegas where everyone is drinking and you can’t.

    3. Lily Evans*

      A friend of a friend did a “babymoon” in Portugal and it looked like they had a lovely time! It gave them the chance to do a combo of beach time and city-roaming and all of the pictures they posted were gorgeous.