weekend free-for-all – May 6-7, 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.)

Recommendation of the week: Scrappy Little Nobody, by Anna Kendrick. She is smart and funny and a pleasure to hang out with as you read.

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

{ 1,236 comments… read them below }

  1. Detective Amy Santiago*

    Since apparently there are a number of B99 fans around here – can we talk about how awesome this week’s episode was?

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      YES! Without giving TOO much away, in case people who haven’t watched it yet are trying to skip over this thread, I loved how invested it got me in the issue without becoming all afterschool-special preachy. It was touching and moving but still as funny as ever. I thought it struck a great balance.

      But seriously, if you still have it on your DVR/Hulu list, collapse this thread!

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I loved the different perspectives they offered and the fact that they weren’t afraid to go for the uncomfortable moments. There were a couple of times where I felt awkward and I think that’s exactly what they intended.

    2. Myrin*

      I’m not in the US and am an avid B99 fan who is sadly not good at keeping up with things that aren’t shoved in my face so I wasn’t even aware the new season had started!!!

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        This is the second half of S4. They took a break for like 3-4 months and just came back a few weeks ago.

    3. Paddington Bear*

      This isn’t about this episode in particular, but can I say that one of the things I love about this show is that they managed to couple two main characters /without/ the whole show being turned into a soap opera focusing only on them? I constantly feel like I /want/ to see more of Jake and Amy’s life as a couple but knowing full well how easily that could become tiring if they devote too much time to it. This show should be the how-to for sitcom writers who want to resolve a will-they-won’t-they scenario without killing the whole premise of the show.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        They also balance an ensemble cast really well with a good amount of diversity. And all of the main characters have solid relationships/interactions with each other.

      2. all aboard the anon train*

        Honestly, I was never really worried about this because B99 is from the same people who did Parks and Rec, and based on the way Ben and Leslie’s relationship played out, I knew Jake and Amy’s relationship would become important but not the main focus of the show.

        One of my biggest problems with sitcoms is that so many focus on the romances instead of anything else. I don’t mind romance in sitcoms or dramas, but I get bored when that’s the only plot point. I like it as the B plot to the overarching season’s A plot.

    4. all aboard the anon train*

      This season has felt really inconsistent to me (it’s still a good season of TV compared to other shows, but something still feels off). But I loved the episode a lot, but what I found the most relatable is the bit at the end with Holt realizing that he’s coming from a different place than Terry because of his experiences. It reminds me a lot of feminism and LGBTQA+ struggles because I often see a butting of heads from older generations and younger generations because each group has different concerns, experiences, and approaches.

      I liked that they also played down Jake and Amy’s storyline because if they had gone the more serious route it would have made the episode way too heavy and After School Special (though ngl sometimes the way they write Charles’ reaction to Jake/Amy makes me super uncomfortable). It was nice to see them bond over such a big life experience, but also keeping it lighthearted was a perfect counterbalance to the more serious A plot.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I loved Jake & Amy’s storyline so much in this episode. And I agree that it was really interesting to see the juxtaposition between Holt and Terry’s reactions/experiences.

        Yeah, there have been a few things this season that I’m like “Uh, what?” about (like Gina making people drink cement, WTF??), but overall, it’s still a smart and funny show which is what I like.

      2. Parenthetically*

        the bit at the end with Holt realizing that he’s coming from a different place than Terry because of his experiences YES! Man, so many serious dramas don’t even get to that level of analysis and intersectionality, much less lighthearted sitcoms.

    5. Parenthetically*

      I really loved it. Jake and Terry saying “I love you” before they hung up was probably one of my favorite moments in the whole show.

    6. Bryce*

      Just watched it and I’m impressed. Often when comedies do a Very Special Episode they forget they’re a comedy.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Yeah, it definitely didn’t feel like a Very Special Episode. They did it really well.

        1. Bryce*

          They definitely dialed it down for the serious conversations, but nobody broke character and for example in the Jake&Amy segment they had the humor in the situation without undermining it.

    7. Nervous Accountant*

      ILOVE this show but I havn’ watched since October, I’m planning on a bingeweek/weekend
      Closing my eyes during this thread!

  2. NL*

    Fillers. In my face. Juvederm Voluma in my marionette lines yesterday. The injection lines are still pretty swollen today. Anyone with any experience with having this done and how much swelling is normal?

    1. MicroManagered*

      Haven’t had fillers but I’ve had a facial piercing (nose) and Botox. From my understanding (personal experience + internet knowledge) swelling can last long past what seems normal. Facial injections are relatively low risk, so unless you’re having an obviously bad/allergic reaction, you’re fine. If it’s a week or two later? Schedule a follow up with your provider. (And obviously if you’re having a medical emergency, call 911 or the emergency number for your area.) I probably wouldn’t worry if it was just yesterday though!

    2. Muriel Heslop*

      No, but I want fillers in my nasio-labial folds so badly. Would love to hear what you think in a few weeks. My friends have done it and I know some swelling is normal – did they tell you to ice it? My neighbor has had it done several times and I know she ices her face.

  3. namelesscommentater*

    What are some ways people meet friends in a new city and build up a social network? I just moved to 3000 miles and have few social connections in my new area. I’ve always made friends at spaces like school, but don’t have those built in networking opportunities anymore. Any suggestions for meeting non-work people?

    1. Sabine the Very Mean*

      Yes, I volunteer wherever I move. You feel good, get out of the house, and meet friendly people.

      1. Anon for current purposes*

        This. I found two really good meetup groups, both related to computer programming, that I went to a few times. Ain’t got the time now, but I will definitely do again once things get better. It also helps that I’m nerdy AF.

    2. Hilorious*

      This is something I’m struggling with too! I’ve had some success meeting up with loose connections, like friends of friends.

    3. Celeste*

      I took up a hobby (quilting) and joined a guild everywhere I’ve moved; it’s how I know most of the people in my life. Another friend joined a local ski club that did all kinds of social events year round. It just depends what’s available in your area.

    4. Amanda*

      Classes and new activities are always good. Most parks and rec departments or school districts have a bunch of community ed classes. A lot of places that cater to kids as far as sports and activities will have an adult option as well. I’m a military spouse and have tried out a new sport or hobby in every place we’ve lived. A regular class will put you in the same place with the same people every week, and is a low pressure way to get to know them. Everyone flailing around together trying something new is great for bonding.

    5. Junior Dev*

      Go to meetups like people said. Take a class or join a hobby group or community sports team. Attend events like concerts and sports matches, if you like those things. Talk to people there, don’t see every conversation as an audition for friendship, but try to enjoy it for what it is. Take the opportunity when people go out for drinks or other social things after an event (for example, my roller derby class often has brunch after, and I try to go when I can).

    6. TootsNYC*

      The great thing about a volunteer or active-craft type organization is that the best way to get to know a person is to “work” with them. We all reveal things about ourselves in that situation, and so you’ll get to know who appeals to you, or even perhaps who shares (or complements) your values or sense of humor.

      1. TootsNYC*

        The other thing I’d suggest is to look for something ongoing, so you see the same people over a period of time.

    7. Sarianna*

      Definitely seconding taking other kinds of classes. I moved about three hours from where ‘home’ still is for me and started taking circus classes, of all things, last summer. There are places that are welcoming regardless of what level you’re at; in my case, that was ‘fat, out of shape, and could count on one hand the number of times I’d ever set foot in a gym,’ and I was still made to feel welcomed and appreciated. I’ve met some lovely friends there and in the related FB community.
      I’ve also gone to shows/events/museums, especially the ones where I can get free/discounted passes. Especially with events, bringing something nice for yourself with extra to share (of all things, packets of fruit snacks has worked for me) and offering to do so has made me plenty of same-day friends that I’m just too shy to follow through with longer-term, but I can certainly see how someone less socially anxious could. ;)

    8. Marillenbaum*

      I would try taking a class in something that interests you–there’s a structure and an automatic topic of conversation that makes things easier.

    9. Anonymous Educator*

      I’d say most of my local friends are either church friends or former co-workers… or friends from high school or college who happen to live in the area. But, yeah, volunteering and going to meetups or clubs can work, too.

    10. Nottingham*

      If you feel comfortable online, mine your social networks for friends-of-friends who live in the New Area, especially anyone who might have similar interests to you. Explain that you don’t expect them to be bosom-buddies, and you’re just hoping for someone who can introduce you around at Fencing / Knitting / Origami stuff

      If you have a dog (or can borrow one) dog walking works really well for casual conversations if you just want some human connections. Dog owners are very social and always like to talk about their dogs. It can be combined with volunteering; many animal rescue places like to have people come in and walk the dogs, and you can also do animal fostering. You could also pick it up as a part-time job, though I think some places regulate and license dog walkers now.

      If you can afford it, look for short common-interest-based conventions or residential retreats or classes in/near your area. There’s something about the combo of (local, short) holiday + hotel or similar + small group + common interest that has worked really well for me at making connections quickly that turn out to last.

      Thinking about what worked for me, I think the best way (for me) is to try and reach out to a group before you turn up at an event. Many groups these days have forums and facebook pages, so maybe watch and learn from that for a day or two, check the rules, then post to introduce yourself or leave a comment on a friendly-looking conversation. If you just know a couple of screennames, that can be enough to make you feel less of an awkward outsider at the event, and a relaxed person already chatting with some group-members is more likely to attract other people over than a shy person stuck to a wall (like socially-awkward me).

      1. TootsNYC*

        This fits with studies done observing children and how successful they are at making friends on the playground. And I see it play out on forums as well. The successful joiners don’t march in an introduce themselves (which is what is often suggested to kids–I gave my own kid that advice); they hang back a little to observe, and then start joining in the activities/conversation in small ways, with “testing” contributions. And then gradually grow their interaction.

        So if you can find a way to “join” before the gathering, especially in a small, participatory way, it’ll go more smoothly. Plus, it gives YOU time to see who the other people are before you are suddenly plunked in.

    11. paul*

      volunteering and hobby clubs–if you like trains, find a train club. if you like guns, find a shooting range, if you like photographs find a photography group, etc.

      Of course I can count my friends on both hands so…

    12. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

      I second pretty much everything previously said. I’d like to add that the size of the event matters. It’s much easier to find social contacts in smaller events where everyone talks to each other. If there are too many people, you can end up never talking to anyone of them. I moved to a new city about 2 years ago and my social network still isn’t the same as it was in my previous place. These things take time, unfortunately.

    13. Kara Zor-El*

      Social sports leagues! You don’t really need any athletic skills to play kickball. :)

    14. Al Lo*

      Join a choir! This is the same sort of suggestion as others have made, in terms of an activity that you work with people at connect with the same people on an ongoing basis. Most cities this is the same sort of suggestion as others have made, in terms of an activity that you work with people at connect with the same people on an ongoing basis. Most cities community players ranger, styles, commitment levels, and it’s not just school choirs, church choirs, children’s choirs. have a variety of community choirs ranging in musical background, repertoire styles, commitment level, and age, and it’s not just school choirs, church choirs, children’s choirs.

  4. Sunflower*

    Has anyone bought an appliance- specifically a portable air conditioner off the Facebook Marketplace? For some reason, I’m seeing way more portable AC units on there than craigslist(I guess they are kind of the same website?) and I’m suspicious for some reason…

    Any other sites I’m missing for that sort of thing? I knew I should have thought about this over the winter…

    1. namelesscommentater*

      I bought mine from Amazon because having it shipped was worth the air conditioner’s weight in gold to not have to lug it around NYC. Between the warranty, moving the damn thing, wanting the instruction packet for install it was the right decision for me. But only because the prices weren’t that different and the reviews also made it seem like moving takes some life out of them, and they’re not the super reliable ‘use for twenty year’ appliances in the first place, so private second hand wouldn’t be my first choice even if moving them wasn’t the most challenging thing I did during that move. [[It’s been two years, so maybe they’re better now? Mine is living its second life mostly functional, but not great in a relative’s basement.]]

      But if you’re willing to handle moving it yourself, I wouldn’t be too worried about facebook rather than craigslist as long as you ask the right questions about the air filter having been cleaned and such (also some have drainage issues? Mine did not, so I don’t know what upkeep that was, but look into it if buying second hand). They’re basically the same site, but if the existing craigslist market isn’t good for portable ACs, I can see why some might just post where the action is.

    2. Casuan*

      No experience or knowledge with the FB Marketplace…
      For things like appliances, I tend to make the purchase from a place where I can exchange [like for missing parts] or return it if needed. Just to cover the bases, be sure there’s no restocking fee.
      Craigslist can be hit-or-miss.
      Friends have had several successes with LetGo. Not only did they get awesome deals, sellers were willing to deliver.

      Of course, always be practical & careful with [especially] private sellers. Enlist a friend to be with you &or give the closest intersection for your location until you’re confident a seller is legit. There’s more tho these two points seem relevant for you.

    3. LCL*

      I would never buy a used AC. They have to work right to work at all, otherwise you just have an ugly fan. I bought mine new at Home Depot during a heatwave, I was one of the suckers you see standing in line. It is an el cheapo, all the better ones were sold. It works great but is like having a jet engine in the room.

      As to why you are seeing them now? Portable AC units are heavy and take up a lot of space. If you’re spring cleaning and want to free up some space, why not start by selling the thing you aren’t using now and haven’t used for months? Do yourself a favor and google the model you are thinking of getting, machinery tends to fail in the same way for the same model.

      1. copy run start*

        Also wouldn’t buy a used A/C unless I absolutely had to. I borrowed one from a friend that was so filthy it was blowing dust into my apartment, not cool air. Bugs and debris can get inside if they aren’t stored safely during the winter.

        Plus you want the warranty on it. Mine is a few years old and works fine, but it has a recall I’ve been procrastinating on. Not sure if I’d have known except that I got a card in the mail because I registered it years ago.

        1. nonegiven*

          DH is licensed to work on window A/Cs as well as central heat and air. The window type that come apart, (the case mounts outside and the rest slides in from indoors) he will take them to the car wash to get the build up of crap out of the coils.

      2. Honeybee*

        I’m coming to second this…I would definitely check into an inexpensive A/C at Home Depot or Sears before I bought a used one. In addition to all the things people already said, I feel like people don’t sell perfectly working A/Cs if you live in a city where almost everyone needs one.

  5. Pearl*

    Cat sitting experiences? It turns out my roommate is going out of town the same weekend I am, and I’ve got 5 days where I need the cat to be looked after. I live far away from everyone I know in the city so it’s not practical for any of them to come out here to check in on the cat. There are some well-rated pet sitters near me, I’ve just never used one before and don’t know anyone who has. It makes me nervous because my cat is afraid of everything, so it’d be highly possible for someone to come in 5 days in a row and never see her.

    1. Trixie*

      Do you have a neighbor you’d feel comfortable asking? Otherwise, pet-sitting services are an excellent option as they stop by daily. If the cat is too freaked out, they’ll probably just stick to food, water, litter. If the cat starts to warm up and come out a bit, they may be able to pet or play with them. I pet sit for side gig and those that are super scared always tend to come out towards then end. It’s surprising out how fast cats come around then they’re hungry :)

      1. Pearl*

        Unfortunately no, I live in an apartment building but never really see my neighbors and there’s no common space for ads or anything. But it’s great to hear from someone who’s done this before! I’m hoping she comes out enough to at least let whoever it is take a photo once or twice. It seems like most people will text you updates while you’re gone, which would help a lot with worrying.

    2. Collie*

      My cat is also afraid of everything, so I’m sympathetic. You might considering joining NextDoor (essentially a social media/message board website for neighborhoods) and see if anyone has experience with local pet sitters and can recommend a particular person.

      1. Pearl*

        Haha, thanks. There are people who have been to my house many times over the course of years and have still never seen the cat. I will look into NextDoor. I live in a fairly urban area and mostly use Yelp to find things, but it would be good to get some extra opinions.

        1. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

          I love those stealth cats.

          My cousins had cats well over ten years who had never been seen by any of their friends that entire tire. We joked that it was a phantom cat. After they moved, they both came out and made friends with me and my husband – it was a glorious introduction. :)

      2. the gold digger*

        That’s a great idea! Our catsitter of six years will be going away to college in the fall. We love Mark (and he loves the cats) and are going to miss him just because he is such a great kid. But we are sad and stressed trying to figure out who is going to be our catsitter now. The oldest kids on our block are only about eight. I need someone in junior high.

        1. TootsNYC*

          Could an 8yo work, w/ a parent as backup? And grow into it?
          8yo’s are capable of more than we sometimes think.

          1. Gingerblue*

            Yeah, I’m pretty sure I was catsitting with parental backup by that age. Or maybe a bit older? But definitely in elementary school.

          2. the gold digger*

            Oh definitely – if I knew the parents, I wouldn’t hesitate at all to ask. But the eight year old I have seen is a girl down on the next block and I don’t know her parents. I would feel kind of weird introducing myself for that. Our very first catsitter was the eight year old next door and his mom and I were already friends, so that one was easy.

            Primo and I just got back from talking to the newish next-door neighbors. We asked about his boys, who live with them half time. They have a 12 year old who they say is very responsible. So the problem may be solved for now!

    3. caledonia*

      So I have never used one either. I found a cat nanny online – cat sitting only (no dogs). A few weeks ago she came round for an introductory meeting; it was a chat about who she was, who I am and about the cat. She left me with forms to fill in about myself and my cat (what time she likes to be fed, what food, does she go out, what does she not like etc). I felt v comfortable with her and her service and plan to use her when I go on hols at the end of the month. She also has an FB page and will give me updates on my cat.

      1. Pearl*

        Oh somehow I pictured having a meeting at an office, but it makes more sense that at least some of them would come to the house first. I’ll have to ask that when I start calling people. That would go a long way to making me feel less anxious about it I think.

        1. Anon for this*

          Your house is a petsitter’s workplace. :) Meeting at your home will also give you a chance to show them where the pet’s supplies are, where to find cleaning supplies, how to use a home security system, etc. It helps them just as much as it might help you.

      2. Sarianna*

        This was the same initial experience I had with my cat sitter. Full set of forms, FB page, sends me updates via text when I’m in the country and via FB when I’m not. She has two cats and a dog; the dog often comes along to sitting visits, though not in my house as my cat’s a little possessive. I often leave a small treat (Lindor truffles) for my cat-sitter when I leave, and at the holidays, something a little bigger, and also a treat for her dog! Even though my cat still sometimes hisses at her, my cat-sitter adores her and periodically asks after her. Found her via Yelp and I couldn’t be more pleased.

      3. Rhonda in Oregon*

        A very good place to find a pet sitter (for any pets) is your local veterinarians office. I was a vet tech for 15yrs and for the majority of that time did pet sitting as a side gig. Most vets techs don’t make a ton of money so it’s nice to have some extra cash. They have the skills and knowledge to properly take care of your pets, medicate if needed and can usually spot if there is a problem long before a less experienced person would. And bonus! They love animals. Usually you can just call up the clinic and ask the person who answers the phone if any of the staff do pet sitting. They last clinic I worked at, we had a list of available staff that did it. And they don’t think it’s weird for anyone to call and ask. Just my 2 cents.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      We have used pet sitters since our most awesome neighbors moved away years ago (we both had the same number of cats, and we actually went to parties at each others houses). We found a couple we liked, and both are animal people, both like our pets and know them and their personalities. That’s comforting. The current one texts us photos and updates, which is cute. I used one funny photo as the wallpaper on my tablet.

      A good sitter will come and meet with you for a bit, and try to meet your pet(s) and get to know them a bit. They might try to talk to them and pet/play with them, although they might charge more for that. (Ours doesn’t.)

      For a cat that’s scared of strangers, you could ask them to sit and talk to them for a bit after putting the food down. IME that’s when they’re most likely to come out anyway. And after a few visits the cat will probably be fine with it. Some take an hour or two to warm up, some take years. We adopted a feral kitten who gradually became less skittish around us over the years, but he was still skittish and ran and hid frequently, even when it was just us. He barely let me touch him even after years of living with us, but he did turn his back on me and maybe watch me instead of running away, which was progress. (Don’t worry, he bonded with my wife.) He would watch the sitter from the next room, then from ~5 feet away, I think eventually he would scoot past her a couple of feet away if he had to.

      1. Pearl*

        Thanks for the tips! I will definitely be looking for someone who will come to the house in person first. And most of the ones I saw offered playtime so I think asking for them to sit and talk after putting the food down would be a good option. She likes me, but takes a long time to warm up to anybody else enough for her to even show herself.

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I use a cat-sitting service (found through Yelp) and love it. They’re super reliable, and I like knowing that if something comes up for the sitter (sick, car trouble, whatever), the service will send someone else.

      It’s okay if your cat doesn’t come out and interact with them; the food and water is the big thing you need. In fact, your cat will probably just sleep the whole time you’re away. I’ve started setting up Nest cams when we’re gone (because I’m neurotic) and what I’ve learned is that they all just sleep the whole time when we’re not here to entertain them.

      1. Pearl*

        Oh, I should ask what the contingency plan is for if the main person can’t make it one day – I didn’t think about that! As a kid we never really traveled all together. There was always someone at home for the dogs, I’m finding there’s questions I wasn’t even thinking to ask.

        I am VERY tempted to get a Nest cam or something similar, haha. She sleeps most of the time when I’m home anyway so I can’t imagine it would be very different but it would be good to be able to check in.

        1. Anon for this*

          FWIW, if this matters to you, finding cameras in a house is very normal for petsitters. It doesn’t come off as neurotic or odd. I have seen so many that I just assume that I am on camera whenever I visit a house.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I always leave a note for them explaining, so that they know that we’re watching the cats and not them. Even then I wonder if they feel a little weird about it, so this is good to know.

          2. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

            As long as you tell them where they are! My good friend is a petsitter in Houston and has found some seriously skeevy hidden cameras that the owners “forgot” to tell her about even when asked directly. They were pointed at the toilet and shower, IIRC.

      2. Episkey*

        We use a service as well. I really like them because they utilize this technology where they give you a magnet for your fridge with a QR code on it. They scan the QR code when they arrive & when they leave and you get auto emailed so you know exactly when they got there, how long they stayed, and when they leave. In the email that sends when they leave, the pet sitter also sends both comments & pictures of how your cats were that day.

        Our cats are ridiculous, one is part Labrador, the other is a little more skittish but both of them are extremely food motivated so the sitter is often like, “Both cats greeted me at the door meowing for food!” and she always gets pictures of them.

      3. lemonjelly*

        Seconding the cameras! We have three now setup in our house specifically for being able to keep an eye on our cats when we’re traveling. Even if the sitter (or familly member or whoever) doesn’t see them we always know what they’re up to, it has GREATLY increased our peace of mind while traveling.

    6. Jessesgirl72*

      Cat sitters are really used to that- and you’d also be surprised. It was around the 5 day mark on our honeymoon and then again on a 2 week trip to Italy that our fraidy cat stopped making the sitter peek under the couch to check on him, and was instead desperate for attention. Otherwise they know the cat is okay enough if the food is being eaten and the litter box used.

      1. Pearl*

        Yeah, she’s never been alone before longer than overnight so I’m not sure how she’ll handle the attention thing. It will probably be good to find out over a relatively short trip.

    7. Die Forelle*

      I used Rover for a long weekend trip with the neighbors/friends who usually look after my darling cat when we’re away. Rover seems to be geared more towards dogs, but many of the sitters on there will do cat-sitting too. We had a pre-trip meet and greet (at no charge, though different sitters can set different rates/policies around things like this) where our sitter came over to meet us and the cat, and we showed her where everything is and what the routine is. As a bonus, it was a woman and her two older elementary or middle school aged kids, which I thought was a neat thing for them to do together and teach the kids some responsibility and earn some pocket money.

      1. Pearl*

        I bird-sat for a friend when they went away on a trip one summer, it’s definitely an experience at instilling responsibility! I think there are enough local choices that gear towards cats, but I do know some people who have dogs, so it’s good to have the name for Rover in case they ever ask for recs.

    8. Trixie*

      One woman I cat sit for has two lovely cats but the male, Frankie, is just a punk. He tends to react physically when he’s made his human is away. (And maybe even when’s home.) Marking furniture, peeing on the floor, you name it. Is not fun to deal with it. Second time out, he came into the room with me and hung out, much more present to play and be petted. STILL marked, peed, etc. And I was like, you punk! I though we were okay with each other. Grr.

      I have two more stays with this house over summer, we’ll see how it goes. Makes me so appreciate for my cat and other pets who don’t do this :)

      1. Pearl*

        Oh dear XD My cat has never reacted that way thankfully. The first time I went away she apparently spent a lot of time watching the door but I think she’s kind of gotten used to me disappearing a couple times a year by now. Good luck with the rest of the summer!

    9. TootsNYC*

      we fed our neighbor’s cat, and she hid from us pretty much all the time. Sometimes she would come out to check who was coming in the door, and then bolt when it was us. But we could tell she was healthy, because there was missing food, missing water and evident elimination.

      My cat was pretty shy, but she wouldn’t eat if no one was there, so we asked our pet sitter to bring a book or something, and hang around in the living room (2 rooms away from the food) for about half hour drinking the soda and eating the snacks we’d provided for him, so that she would actually eat.

      1. Pearl*

        When we first got her my cat definitely didn’t want to eat alone – I still keep her food and water in my bedroom. She seems to have mellowed a little because she eats when I and my roommate are both out of the house now. It would probably be a good idea to leave the wifi password and some snacks for the sitter though, thanks!

    10. Anonymouse for this*

      You could also try your local vet – they would probably have a recommendation. I just went on vacation and used someone recommended by friends and who I felt comfortable with when he came round to the house. I think he saw my fraidy cat a handful of times, but the food and water went down every day and the litter tray was used so he knew she was fine.

      1. Marillenbaum*

        That’s an excellent recommendation! Vets have so much more experience with this and can be a great resource.

      2. Anon for this*

        Yes! You actually might be better of with a veterinarian’s recommendation than with someone you find online. Anyone can advertise online, but not just anyone will be trusted by your vet.

        People involved in pet care tend to all know each other, each other’s pets, and the best people to recommend.

      3. fposte*

        My friend’s amazing cat-sitter works at her vet’s office (I think she’s an office manager), so she can handle animals that need medications, injections, etc. If you’re anywhere near a vet school, vet students often do pet-sitting for a little income, too, and they’re similarly equipped.

      4. Caledonia*

        My vet wouldn’t recommend anyone, this was in case something went wrong with whoever they recommended.

      5. Gene*

        Seconding the vet. I found the sitter I’ve been using for almost 30 years through mine. There are times I think the cats prefer her to us.

      6. Pearl*

        I will probably try that if I can’t find someone available on my dates. My vet is across the city – I decided a cab trip was better than switching vets when I moved – so I’m not sure they would know anyone over here, but it couldn’t hurt to ask.

    11. Nottingham*

      I’m dog-sitting for a cousin at the moment, and the thing I found most helpful was them putting all their dog-relevant paperwork, medical history, and vet contact details in a big folder, and also taping post-it notes to their kitchen drawers and cabinets, and leaving the dog bowls out on the counter (so I could tell them apart from the human bowls). Oh, and a post-it taped to the cupboard where the vacuum cleaner & steam cleaner live.

      Oh! and a big note on the calendar about which day was bin day, so I could put the rubbish bags in the bins and put their bins out. Which doesn’t matter so much for the dog I’m sitting, but if you want the cat-sitter to empty the cat litter tray, it might be necessary.

      Because cousin wanted me to spend a lot of time with clingy-dog, they also gave me their wi-fi password and said I could bring my laptop and hang out, but I don’t know if you’d need or want to do that with a professional service. A fellow student (years ago) who house sat for below minimum wage considered peaceful study time as a perk of the job.

      1. Pearl*

        Yeah, I don’t have all that info available in one easy place. I’ll have to write up a few things and make sure there’s a spot on the counter to leave them with some cleaning supplies. Thanks for the tip! The benefit of my current building is you can throw trash out at any time – we get pickup twice a week so it’s usually not too full.

    12. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I found my cat sitter through my vet. She is a former vet tech which is great because my cats take multiple daily medicines. She texts me pictures of my cat every day I’m gone.

      1. Pearl*

        I have my vet on the list to call if the places I’ve found nearby aren’t available on my dates. Thanks for the tip!

    13. copy run start*

      My cat is a big chicken and has a special diet, so I just board him at my local vet’s office. It’s super affordable and if he stops eating/has a medical emergency, he’s right where I want him to be. (It’s a 24/7 emergency vet.) Plus I don’t have to have strangers coming into my apartment. I have some nice gaming and computer equipment that I don’t want wandering off.

      1. Pearl*

        I did think about boarding but as I recall my cat didn’t eat much when she was at the shelter before I got her, so since she’s not on any medication I think keeping her in the house is my best bet.

        The companies I found on Yelp all have good reviews. I’ll probably stash my laptop in a closet, but the places I’m looking at calling tomorrow all have a pretty long track history and reviews over the course of years, which helps.

    14. nonegiven*

      They will try to locate the cat to make sure it’s OK and hasn’t managed to shut itself in someplace, even if they end up peering at it under the bed from out in the hallway. My son’s youngest has just started coming out to play with the sitter.

      1. Pearl*

        “Luckily” my apartment is pretty tiny so there will only be a few places she could be hiding XD But she’s a black cat and has literally been sitting a foot from me and I haven’t been able to find her, haha. This is what I get for having black bookshelves.

    15. Honeybee*

      Rover.com! That’s how I found my dog sitter, who both I and my dog love. They have all kinds of pet sitters on there! You can find someone to do any level of sitting; I take my dog to someone else for a few days but you can also hire someone to come in a couple times a day (or just once) and check on her. They’re bonded and insured, have a 24-hour vet service on call and are populated by animal lovers :D

  6. Miss Mia*

    I need to find a new doctor. Without having insurance. And with a complex medical history. I don’t mind paying out of pocket if I feel I’m actually seeing someone that is willing to help. The last doctor I went to that wasn’t community care would take my appointments then refuse to do any tests or anything because I didn’t have insurance and she didn’t want to make me spend more money.

    I’m having issues with my intestines moving food, and food intolerances that are just building up. On top of that, the mild dystonia I have has been really bad lately with over 6 major instances a day plus continuous twitching, minor cramping, and all in all excruciating pain. My current PCP is a community care center where I’ve had 4 new patient visits since going in. Went for a follow up after an ER visit, was assured I could now see any provider and it would be fine, only to get a rushed new patient visit. Last time I tried to make an appointment for a head injury follow up, they told me it was a 6 week minimum wait to get in. The urgent care I just saw has recommended I stick to light soups and broth until I can find a new doctor. The main problem is, if I eat a meal, my digestive system is wrecked but the dystonia doesn’t act up. If I follow this recommendation (I have been trying to for days), I’m in constant pain from the dystonia but my digestive tract is fine.

    Can I call a doctors office, and if they are taking new patients ask to send over my records first for review before committing to their practice? My medical history is complex. Doctors that actually read the records (my first GP at the community care center I’m at now, the medical doctor who oversees my local PP) question some of my diagnosis, as do I at this point. So I’m hoping to see someone that actually looks at the records and not someone who will fight me when I question some of the things going on.

    1. fposte*

      Wow, that sounds rotten; I’m sorry.

      Other people may know better, but my guess is that that’s a tough ask at most practices, and places that do offer it might charge, since the doctor still has to bill her time.

    2. misspiggy*

      I don’t know how US healthcare works, unfortunately – but everything you’ve said suggests connective tissue disorder to me, such as Ehlers Danlos. Just wanted to mention in case you haven’t already looked into it. Also, the most common type can’t be diagnosed by genetic testing, so probably no need to spend money on that particular thing.

      1. Food*

        I was going to suggest looking into EDS (Ehlers Danlos Syndrome) & Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS). Dysautonomia can go with it too.

    3. Book Lover*

      Are there concierge physicians in your area? That might be the best choice, as you aren’t insured anyway. It is usually very clear what costs will be and they have smaller panels, typically.

    4. Belle di Vedremo*

      My sympathies, this sounds awful all around.

      For conventional medical care, I wonder if the Patient Advocate Foundation (patientadvocate dot org) would have suggestions on how to find physicians who are more likely to work with you (and perhaps information on getting insurance or assistance with medical bills) – or have ideas on whom to contact for information in your state. Your state/county medical association may have suggestions on approaching the medical community for assistance. They may know who has a reputation for finding the root causes of complex issues, and the interest in patients as people – who actually understand their own experience – to go with it.

      Are you up for alternative care? I agree with Miss Piggy that it sounds as if your soft tissue is at issue, especially if you also have had a head injury.

      If you’re interested, you might look for someone in your area trained by the Chikly Institute (chiklyinstitute dot com) in their brain curriculum – especially someone trained in “Brain 4” or “B4” on their website; my practitioner has been able to relieve some cerebral issues post car accident, which have cascaded into releasing knots elsewhere in the body. You might also look for someone trained in cranio-sacral therapy (upledger dot com or myofascial release (myofascialrelease dot com). These are manual therapies (ie hands-on) usually done on a massage table which have brought me a great deal of relief, significantly increased my range of motion, and allowed me to rebuild strength. My primary care givers for this work have been physical therapists and massage therapists. In some cases, physicians will refer to these folks for care – used to be attached to a PT whose practice was primarily built on those referrals. My massage therapist here is the one with the brain and lymph training; she relieves concussions, is certified in orthopedic massage, etc. As with any care, you want the practitioner you click with so if you go this route and aren’t happy with your first practitioner, try another.

      Either way, I hope that you soon find help in getting relief.

    5. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

      I’m also not familiar with US systems, and I just wanted to say how sorry I am for all the people in the world who don’t have access to a public health care system. I’m so sorry that you need to think about this kind of stuff.

    6. Anontomatic*

      I second looking into Ehlers Danlos hypermobility type – it can make your skull sink on your neck and cause alot of neurological symptoms – you also might want to find out if you have Arnold Chiari malformation 1 – can be seen on an MRI – I have been diagnosed with CM1. Best of luck to you – hope you find the right doctor who can help you

    7. Dr. Anon*

      Hey! Family physician here. :) Some advice I’d offer:

      1) If you’re willing to pay, take your time and select a doc that has a good reputation online or from word of mouth. As an osteopathic physician (shameless plug!), I’d also consider a doc who practices OMM. Bear in mind that if you select a clinic that is largely a free or sliding scale, your time with a doctor will be limited. The costs of maintaining those clinics means that a doctor has to see a ton of patients each day just to keep up with overhead costs, student loans, etc.

      2) Make a specific list of the problems you have and try to keep it brief and concise. I only have time to address maybe two or three concerns thoroughly per visit – the more problems you have, the more brief and less in-depth I have to be to balance everything. Take a look at this for some tips: http://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/lynda-shrager-the-organized-caregiver/ways-get-most-out-of-doctors-visits/

      3) Some general advice I give my patients – try switching up your diet by looking at the Meditteranean diet, FODMAPS, or trying a food diary to see what triggers your symptoms. Take a daily probiotic and a daily Vit D3 or a daily multivitamin that has both D3 and some B vitamins. Stretch and exercise daily and maintain consistent, healthy sleeping habits. This all sounds super cliched and I recognize that, but you’d be surprised at how much little changes like this can really change a person’s levels of pain / fatigue.

      4) Some general advice for everyone else – please don’t armchair diagnose. 9/10 times a patient who comes in convinced they have a diagnosis of something they were told or read off the Internet is wrong. It then requires me to take extra time to convince them they are wrong and even forces me to order extra unnecessary testing for a patient before they’ll believe me. That sets a horrible precedent for a healthy doctor-patient relationship and complicates things. For everyone here saying “EDS,” yes, EDS is difficult to diagnose and can cause a person lots of pain. A true diagnosis also requires testing by a geneticist – I can’t order these labs because insurance will often not cover a family physician ordering genetic testing. (That’s not my choice, take that up with your insurance company.) Just please be aware that your suggestions, though helpful as you may mean them, may literally cost someone thousands of dollars in unnecessary testing.

      Thanks for listening! Best of luck.

      1. Miss Mia*

        Thanks for the advice. I’m like at the end of my rope with doctors. I’ll go in with my specific list, and all they want to talk about is how my (Type II) diabetes isn’t under control. I know that. It has never been, my entire life (I was told I had “metabolic syndrom x” or something as a child but when I became an adult the docs were all like “NO you have DIABETES”), I saw some of the best doctors as a child and teen and they couldn’t figure it out. But apparently someone I’ve only just met knows better. Each visit just results in a lecture about diabetes and then times up. My issues never get addressed.

        Is there a better approach where my issues, in this case my digestive tract (which I mean could very well be diabetes related) and the connection to the dystonia can be looked at? Or am I doomed to just be given lecture after lecture while getting sicker and sicker?

        1. BTW*

          The only possibly helpful suggestion I can think of is to go to Mayo or Cleveland Clinic, somewhere there are teams of doctors collaborating and coordinating tests so that you can get a diagnosis and treatment plan. Haven’t done it myself but it has worked for friends with a variety of conditions.

        2. Awkward Interviewee*

          I don’t know feasible this will be without insurance, but sounds like you may have more luck with specialists. In my experience as a patient with weird medical issues, specialists tend to stay in their area of expertise. For example, a family doc might try to keep focusing on diabetes, but a gastroenterologist will usually focus on GI stuff.

        3. Dr. Anon*

          I’m sorry that your previous experiences have been less than optimal. Diabetes Type II complicates *everything* and I’m not surprised your doctors are focusing on it. To be honest, I would too. Diabetes is a nasty disease that can cause a lot of problems, including quite potentially your GI issues. The reason why your doctors want to focus on it is that in order to help you with the other things that are bothering you, they have to first figure out what’s being affected by your own diabetes. It’s only after we get at least some control over your diabetes that we can then figure out what symptoms are potentially coming from a separate source, and then appropriately work you up for those symptoms.

          With that said, I fully recognize that your concerns regarding your GI issues and dystonia are more important to you than your diabetes and I don’t think those should necessarily be pushed aside. I can’t do a proper exam on you, so anything I could say specifically regarding your diagnoses is just conjecture and not meant to be actual medical advice. I can’t really speculate on the dystonia, but I do have at least one suspicion regarding your GI issues. Take a look at this article and see if anything rings true for you. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gastroparesis/basics/definition/con-20023971

          (Side note – specialists may very well be helpful. Many specialists will not see a patient without a referral from a PCP, so she likely has to see a PCP first either way.)

          Good luck.

    8. confused*

      Not meaning to be rude or snoopy, just trying to understand…the healthcare laws enacted by Prez O requires all Americans have medical insurance. It sounds like you would be one of the folks that would greatly benefit from having insurance (since you have multiple issues). I don’t get how people still don’t have health insurance….

      (I’m not looking to start a battle on benefits/negatives or a Presidential bashing/praise and understand if this needs to be nuked for not being on top enough)

  7. Loopy*

    It’s my first time being a bridesmaid this Sunday and I actually don’t know the bride well at all (long disasterous story but I’m on the grooms side and filling in).

    There’s been heaps of drama and stress already, plus I don’t know the bride as well as a bridesmaid should (nor am I even able to make much conversation with her!) but I do want to be helpful.

    Brides- what are some things that your bridesmaids did the day of the wedding or you wished they did the day of to help the day go smoother?

    I don’t have any time to do anything extra completely located but I would like to do a good job at… whatever it is I should be doing?

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      Sorry to hear about the stress and drama!

      My bridesmaids got me plates of food from the evening buffet (we had cheese and biscuits) as it’s really hard to go up when you’re the bride – everyone wants to talk to you and people feel awkward not letting you go ahead of them.

      They also reserved the bigger toilet cubicle for me – they made a cute sign for the door – which was helpful as I hadn’t realised I wouldn’t easily be able to use the regular stalls!

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Oh and they helpfully looked after my mobile on the day of. I never did find out why there were three missed calls from the florist and I’m glad I didn’t have to worry about it.

      2. the gold digger*

        My bridesmaids got me plates of food from the evening buffet

        This. I made sure the caterers packed two to-go boxes of the food for my friend and her new husband. They did not have time to eat during the reception.

      3. Parenthetically*

        This is great. My friends (didn’t have bridesmaids) brought me food and water (and then stood there and watched me eat/drink, like thanks mom) and made sure I didn’t drink ONLY champagne! I wish someone had saved me some cake, though! We didn’t do a cake cutting and I didn’t get a bite!

      4. Katie the Fed*

        I only had one bridesmaid, my sister, but one thing she did that was awesome, was took my pile of cash and handed out tips to the vendors. I didn’t have to worry about it at all.

        1. Loopy*

          Oh man i wouldn’t have thought of this. Is tip etiquette for catering staff the same as waitstaff in general? They are doing a buffet and I don’t even know if they have a dj! So I’m clueless as to how to tip with that, especially the buffet.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            Just ask the bride if she’d like you to handle handing out tips. She can decide how much and to whom.

            1. Loopy*

              I think she tried to tell me yesterday that they didn’t have to tip the caterers. I don’t know if it’s included in the bill as gratuity or a service charge but that sounded wrong, even for a buffet set up. I don’t know if it’s overstepping to try and figure out. I’d hate to accidentally fail to tip at all. She didn’t seem worried about it though :O

              1. Ella*

                This is overstepping. But the other suggestions about offering/bringing food are nice!

    2. Sled dog mama*

      I had some difficult family that parents insisted on inviting I wish I had had a BM to run interference with them, they kept cornering me at the reception. Also I got married on a super chilly day and to get from where we got ready to the ceremony then from the ceremony to the reception we had to go outside and I forgot my coat at the hotel, someone reminding me it was cold and I would want it would have been awesome.

    3. Candy*

      I married in a very hot desert and my sisters in law kept me in a constant supply of hankies and tissues and water. Every time I so much as dropped a bead of sweat or felt the least bit parched one of them was miraculously by my side to pat me down or hand me a bottle of water

    4. Former and Current Bridesmaid*

      Holding her drink/plate/bouquet when needed. I remember one bride trying to eat/drink between the before ceremony photos (it was lunchtime) and having no where to put her bouquet. I held it for her while another bridesmaid held the plate so she could focus on not spilling on her dress.

      1. Former and Current Bridesmaid*

        Oh! And reminding her to eat. I forgot to eat on my wedding morning and my girls sat me down and made me eat a wrap before I went down the aisle. Good call, as I tend to faint when too hungry…

        1. Loopy*

          Oh I should bring snacks! Thanks! I know a full meal is preferable but just in case things get hectic.

            1. NotoriousMCG*

              Dry shampoo. It was an unexpectedly sweltering day when I got married and so my bangs got all greasy after my hair was done

          1. Former and Current Bridesmaid*

            Yes! Granola bars, nuts, cheese sticks. Easy to eat, not messy, packable.

        2. Ramona Flowers*

          The night before my wedding, my MOH smuggled take away pizza into the hotel in a wheel-along suitcase.

        3. Katie the Fed*

          My stomach was a MESS the week before my wedding, and I could hardly eat. I think it was nerves. I ended up at urgent care two days before and they found nothing.

    5. Zathras*

      One job of the MOH/bridesmaids is getting the bride to where she needs to be, when she needs to be there. This may require running interference on 500 well-meaning relatives who each think it will take “just a second” to get a photo with the bride before the ceremony, or whatever. (Since you don’t know everyone well, take your cue from the MOH and the bride on this one.)

      Have some stuff like safety pins, bobby pins, band-aids, lipstick, etc. on hand for emergencies. In your dress if it has pockets, in a purse/wristlet if not. Be ready to assist the bride in using the bathroom if needed.

      During the reception afterward, make sure the couple gets food while the food is still hot. Especially if it’s a buffet or something, get a plate and bring it to them. Check in with them every so often and ask if they need anything – water, a drink from the bar, more food, etc. They can easily be so surrounded by people (and in the bride’s case, encumbered by her dress) that they don’t have a chance get it themselves.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        In addition to all the stuff Zathras recommended, also carry Shout wipes or a Tide stick. I saved the day at my cousin’s wedding with that after the groom got part of his dinner on his white shirt.

        1. Loopy*

          Omg post there posts are so valuable! Running to cvs now to put together an oh shit emergency kit!

          1. Honeybee*

            They sell already-made kits at a lot of drugstores and definitely at Sephora!

    6. PB*

      In a well-planned wedding, the wedding party shouldn’t have a lot of work foisted on them. I really wanted our wedding part to enjoy our wedding as much as our other friends. Some things, I definitely needed help with, however. My gown had a corset back, so I needed someone to tie it for me, and that was probably the single biggest effort I forced on the girls in the wedding party! Other things: one bridesmaid’s husband helped out by getting food to eat while we were getting ready, taking pictures before the professional photographer arrived, running interference with family members, and so forth.

      And a weird one: sometimes, the bride will need help using the bathroom. Those skirts are HUGE, and it’s super awkward. I only had to make my party help with that once, and I really felt very bad about it…

      That said, not every wedding is well planned. When my father and stepmother get married, we got to the end of the day. I’m getting ready to head out, and my stepmother starts yelling about how I “had to” help pack up. No one told me this, so here I am, in a pretty dress and heels, breaking down tables and loading them into the back of a pick-up truck. I remain annoyed about this, years later.

      My advice is to keep the lines of communication open. Ask what she needs, and be available the day of and day before in case something comes up that she just can’t attend to.

      I hope everything goes well.

      1. Loopy*

        Thanks! I think the MOH will do the bathroom help since they are closer! I haven’t been involved in planning since I’m no local so I have no idea what I’m walking into!

    7. TootsNYC*

      My vote: Just keep your eye on the bride all night long, w/ the mindset of, “If she had an extra set of hands (or other body parts–mouth for carrying messages, eyes for watching whether something’s going wrong on the other side of the room) right now, what would they do?”

      So you can do stuff like take the empty wine glass away so she doesn’t have to hold it.
      Or observe her looking around as though she’s trying to find someone, and you step over to say, “Are you looking for someone? Can I find them for you? Carry a message to someone?”

      And here’s the thing I asked of the bridal-party members on my groom’s side: Be his ambassador to my family. Make him look good. Be friendly and enjoyable company to my relatives, etc., so that later they say, “Well, Her Husband must be a good choice–he has the nicest friends.”

    8. Nottingham*

      Gift & money handling. Because the social connection matters, some people will insist on giving cards, flowers, presents and money directly to the bride (and groom). So be prepared to put the money in an envelope/safe place, and ferry gifts over to the designated gift spot. Also, depending how formal your people are, you may want to make a list of gifts given, with names and details (e.g. “Daddy Warbucks: $500; Scrooge: £500 invoice for wasting his time”) in case they want to do personalised thank you notes later.

      If you have a big/formal/old-fashioned wedding party, this sort of thing may be assigned to ushers and/or Best Man or Matron of Honour, but if you’re standing right there, it may also fall to you to help out.

      Also, unofficial security happened once. A drunk threatened to show up and be awkward, so we went out to discreetly recruit burly volunteers from the guests, found an old pic, shared it with volunteer guest guards (three athletic types and an off-duty cop) and set them in pairs at the two doors to the venue. Drunk was a no-show, but the bride and groom could relax, which was the important part.

      Lots of checking the back of the dress, holding up mirrors to show the back view, and holding things in general: skirts, veils, flowers, phone, plates and glasses, purse, umbrella or jacket. Brides aren’t expected to carry a purse and the dresses don’t have pockets, so be prepared to be in charge of a bag (or two) of essentials that needs to be put away somewhere safe and fetched and carried from here to there.

      If they want to leave direct from the venue to the honeymoon, it may also be up to you to keep track of departure time (+ time to change outfits?), taxi/limo arrival, and luggage and loading.

      1. Loopy*

        This is super helpful. Thanks! I hadn’t thought about the gifts and cards on the day of.

    9. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      My mom trained me early on (I have tons of cousins and bridesmaidery was likely in my future) that you make sure to take care of the bride like you were her nurse: food & water at appropriate intervals, run interference with anyone who seems to be bothering her (drunk attendees and belligerent family were a Thing), be her “pocket” to carry phone, touch up supplies / tissues / meds, and anything else she might need but have no pockets for. I gave my cousin the schedule for the day so if someone didn’t know basic info, they could ask her. She was also in charge of our ringbearer dog and making sure we had a cake to take home. Another friend was in charge of texting photos to my oldest dearest friend who would have been MOH but was maaaany months pregnant at that point. YMMV of course ;)

    10. Megan*

      TBH the best thing our wedding party did for us was propel the party – once dancing starts people were slow to get going but when the wedding party was having a good time – or at least appearing to – family and other shyer guests go into the action. I’ll never forget my MIL and one of the groomsmen closing the night out to techno and keeping everything going really well until the very end – incredibly grateful to them.

    1. Parenthetically*

      Ooh, well talk to the MOH then, and coordinate. A bridesmaid’s kit is smart: stuff like aspirin, tampons (god forbid), deodorant, dress tape, a needle and thread, blister pads or bandaids, hair spray and hairpins, tissues, granola bars, water, maybe a flask, a cheap bedsheet to cover her dress so she can have a sandwich or some cheese and crackers while she gets ready. Where is she getting ready and will there be food in the room? Is she going to change shoes after the ceremony and who’s responsible for them? Who is going to keep her phone and answer it if she wants? Who’s going to carry around her water bottle? Hold her plate/glass? Get her food? Run interference while she’s eating?

      You can probably tell I didn’t get nearly enough to eat or drink on my wedding day! But it’d be helpful to sit down with MOH and walk through the day and ask what she’s going to need/want at various points and figure out or decide who’ll be doing those things. It doesn’t have to be all down to the two of you, obviously — especially if there’s a wedding coordinator or if MOTB wants to be more hands-on. But being a calm, helpful presence on a stressful day is going to be priceless.

      1. Loopy*

        Thanks! I don’t think there is going to be much support other than the MOH and I (MOTB might actually be a huge problem rather than a help!).

        I wish I was local, just getting into town a day or two before gives me little time to plan.

          1. Loopy*

            I’ll see her today at the rehearsal. Good thing I posted before then, I would have been clueless as to what I should be thinking about.

          2. Casuan*

            Loopy, especially because you’re not close to the bride & her MOH, definitely talk with the MOH & if there’s time you both can talk with the bride. The idea is to make sure you’re on the same page & so the MOH doesn’t feel that you’re stepping on her toes; for the bride it’s to make sure her wants & needs are met. She could probably enjoy her day better if she doesn’t have to think of the little things, like where to put the empty glass & how she can get rid of the person usurping her time.
            Your attitude for this is amazing!!

        1. paul*

          get MOB so drunk she passes out before the ceremony? That’s what my brother did and it helped…

      2. Nottingham*

        Seconding all of this, plus clove oil for toothache and OTC anti-nausea and anti-diarrhea remedies. Oh, and migraine meds (prescription-strength if the bride can get them). And if the bride needs prescription meds or a monitoring kit (like for diabetes) then maybe set a reminder on your phone for when that stuff is due.

        Basically, the bride’s brain is going to be throwing up a thousand things at once in a stew of stress and emotions, so your job is to be her calm, stable back-up brain. Practice saying “Okay, I can do that for you” “We”ll check on that” “The [expert] is handling that”, consciously letting stress go, and trying your best to radiate calm.

        1. Jules the First*

          My bridesmaid kit comes in two parts – the makeup-size bag I leave in the hotel room (kleenex, baby wipes, tampons, tide pen, safety pins, pocket comb, battery-powered mini-fan, pocket flashlight, sewing kit, clear nail polish, blister bandages, regular bandaids, mini hairspray, blotting paper, hairpins, painkillers, antihistamines, and nail clippers) and my dressy clutch (more kleenex, a mini-case of tampons, safety pins, lip gloss, floss, a compact mirror and blister/bandaids) which also has room for my phone and the bride’s phone, if necessary. Make sure your clutch has a wrist or shoulder strap so you can wrangle it and a bouquet or other object easily.

          Also cheapo flipflops – the bride and all the bridesmaids will have sore feet well before the end of the evening and they will love you for having something they can slip on (under the dress, if it’s long enough, or back in the hotel) instead of having to walk around barefoot.

          At the reception, the most important thing you can do is keep the bride hydrated – she’s going to forget to drink water and people will (probably) be handing her alcohol with worrying regularity…I usually stop by the bar on my way in and ask the bartender to keep a couple of elegant glasses (highballs or wine glasses) chilled and full of water ready on the side all night so I can swing by and snag one when I spot the bride (or the sloppy-drunk uncle) getting low.

          And make sure you have a watch or other way of discreetly keeping time – I recommend a watch over a phone because someone will always ask you the time when it is impossible or indiscreet to whip your phone out (and also the watch strap is handy for that moment when the MOH realises she has nowhere to keep the groom’s ring…)

  8. Sugar of lead*

    I have to work tomorrow so I’m using today as an ultra-condensed weekend. I need to run errands and catch up on housework (my room is covered in laundry salad) and relax and unwind all in the next ten hours or so. Oh, and I’m still watching JAG, and Catherine Bell is still awesome.

    High five to everyone else who survived the first week of May.

  9. Christy*

    Pro tip: if you’re a first-time homebuyer, don’t let your realtor tell you that 30-45 days is how long it takes to close. We heard that, said “oh, then let’s do 30 days” (from offer to closing) and it has been a real pain ever since. It meant our mortgage options were really limited (still got a good rate but went with her affiliate) and everything is more rushed than usual. Lots of banks need 45 days minimum for loans! So don’t let them rush you.

    The biggest downside to this is that I have somewhat lost trust in our realtor. I just don’t feel like she’s 100% acting in my best interest. Maybe I’m the best interest of me actually purchasing this condo, but not in *my* best interest. And it’s sort of put a damper on my interactions with her because I have my guard up more now.

    1. Christy*

      We only looked at the condo the first time a week ago today. We put in an offer on Monday, ratified Tuesday, and we close on June 1. We just got back from the home inspection. It’s crazy fast.

      I’m glad we like the condo, though. We were only looking at one development (we really care about neighborhood) so there aren’t a billion options.

    2. Loose Seal*

      My sister is a loan officer and she tells me that there are new-ish (years old, though) Federal laws that deal with timeframes for these loans. It’s to protect the buyer since the financial collapse of 2008 (Is that the right year? I could ask Google but don’t want to). For example, if the quoted mortgage rate changes, even if it’s to the buyer’s benefit, there is a minimum three-day waiting period so the buyer can have time to fully consider their purchase. She does say that some of the waiting periods can be shortened if you and the seller are both willing to use computerized signing.

      She says, however, that the real estate agents are not willing to accept that there are just longer minimum timeframes now and will tell their buyers to insist on 30 days. Thankfully, I’ve never had a seller back out when the bank went past 30 days but if I did lose a house after the realtor insisted on a 30-day contract instead of the timeframe the bank recommended, I’d be seriously pissed.

      She says her bank does presentations for the local realtors to keep them up-to-date on the laws. She also says most of her time at work is spent calling the realtors to explain delays. (Generally, the buyer is the bank’s customer and the realtor leans on them to have them lean on the bank. It’s very nerve-wracking as a buyer, especially if you don’t have experience buying houses — or a sister in banking! She thinks it’s her job to protect her customer and will frequently put on her “professional” voice — not her “sister” voice — to bring the realtors back into reality.)

      1. Gaia*

        2007 is the year. I will never forget. My last day at a stable job was the day Lehman Brothers collapsed. I had left it with no new job so I could move to a new state.

        Not my best decision, in hindsight.

        1. Honeybee*

          Actually, while the company started having problems and closed their subprime mortgage arm BNC Mortgages in 2007, Lehman Brothers as a whole didn’t declare bankruptcy and stop operating until September 2008. I remember it specifically because in 2007, when I was a senior in college, Lehman Brothers had pledged a $10 million gift to my undergraduate alma mater. They were supposed to pay it out over 10 years, with the first payment coming in 2008; it was to pay for a new international business program and Chinese language minor, with the goal of helping more underrepresented minorities go to careers on Wall Street (I went to a historically black women’s college).

          Yeah…that didn’t happen. I remember feeling pissed about it because they had to have known in late 2007 that things were spiraling downhill.

    3. periwinkle*

      That’s a question to ask when you’re shopping for mortgages since they’ll know their own processes better than a non-affiliated realtor would. We went through our very large credit union and despite some blips (like our mortgage rep going on vacation for two weeks – the person handling her accounts wasn’t nearly as good at it), we closed in about a month (offer was accepted 1/10 and we closed on 2/12).

    4. Jessesgirl72*

      Banks only really need 14 days for loans- that is what our bank told us. I don’t know why you think you lost out on mortgage options by needing more time. In fact, the longer you take, the more likely the interest rate will be higher right now.

      We actually closed in 3 weeks, not even 30 days, and this is since the new mortgage rules.

    5. TootsNYC*

      The vast majority of real estate agents AREN’T acting in the buyer’s best interests–at least not legally. They get paid by the seller, and their own interest is that the deal close, period.

      Some agents are buyer’s agents, in which case they have a contractual responsibility to you.

      But yeah, not every agent will do a good job.

      And I think it’s smart for you to have your guard up, since your instincts are telling you this.

      1. fposte*

        Though that’s state-dependent–in my state, the buyer’s agent is legally responsible to the buyer.

        1. TootsNYC*

          That would be true of a buyer’s agent in all states. My impression is that it’s somewhat situation-specific whether you have a buyer’s agent at all. In lots of places, you don’t. That may be changing, of course. And “customary practice” might be different in different localities.

          In NYC it’s still unusual to have a buyer’s agent, but on Long Island it might not be.

          1. fposte*

            Looks like you’re right and the difference is in the default. In my state you can’t accidentally end up being represented by a seller’s agent if you’re a buyer.

    6. Book Lover*

      We’ve always done 30 days close and expected that from buyer. But mortgage is usually set and pre-approved in advance. We wouldn’t have made or accepted an offer where the buyer wasn’t already approved.

      Usually there is a set date where the interest rate and approval vanish and you have to start over, I think, so I guess that could be an issue if you are looking for too long. I am sorry it felt rushed to you but I wouldn’t lose faith in the realtor for that reason, as it is very standard.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        My Realtor won’t even talk to us seriously without the preapproval letter. We contacted him this week, he sent us to the bank, then we met with him. (To decide what to fix up and put the house on the market/look in earnest come next February!)

    7. enough*

      I find the whole speed thing a little crazy. 60 days to closing was the norm for years. I think more and more is the expectation is that you will have been pre-approved for a mortgage and that you will forgo an inspection or won’t negotiate any repairs.

      1. Christy*

        Yeah, like hell was I going to forgo the inspection. Luckily it went well and it’s just some missing grounding on some of the three-prong electric outlets. I’m hoping we can get the owner to pay to fix them.

      2. Honeybee*

        In my current city (Seattle), the housing market is so nuts that it’s customary for people to waive inspection and agree to take the house as-is. If you want an inspection you have to pay for it yourself and conduct it after you’ve already had an offer accepted, and then it’s just for your own knowledge of what you want to fix. I grew up in Atlanta where people are practically begging you to buy houses, so I was very…astonished.

    8. Soupspoon McGee*

      I refinanced earlier this year with the same guy who helped me with the original loan, and told me regulations had changed so much for both lenders and home inspectors that a 45-day closing was more realistic.

  10. Allypopx*

    I’ve noticed in particular with some recent posts that there are strong representation skews in the AAM community, which I knew, but it got me wondering if Alison has ever collected demographic data, or if there’s a real sense at all about what the main demographics here are. I don’t want to start a divisive conversation so stop me if this is dicey, I’m just very curious! Professional and well educated seem like givens, though I might be generalizing there.

    1. Sugar of lead*

      Well, I’m female, twenties, white, with a GED and certificate from trade school working in a blue-collar skilled job. Pretty sure that’s not typical since a lot of people here seem to be office workers with 4-year degrees. Or maybe they’re just the ones who post the most? Yeah, it’s an interesting question, and I don’t think it’s divisive at all.

      1. Allypopx*

        Yeah I feel like it tends office too. I work in a museum and I have an office but it doesn’t really feel like a typical office culture.

        FWIW I’m white, female, twenties, lgbt, northeastern US, in college while working a management job, no actual degree yet, I think I’d call myself lower-middle-class for my urban area.

        Alison would you consider setting up some kind of survey at some point? I’d be really interested!

      2. Bigglesworth*

        I would agree that most people here have office jobs. My spouse has their undergrad degree and is now in an apprenticeship. They’ve tried writing in for help on how to deal with a difficult journeyman, but didn’t get a response from Alison and not much of a response on the one of the Friday Open Threads. Not sure what to do with the bad boss but we’re moving across the country in June, so not too much longer.

      1. Christy*

        Definitely agree! I feel sometimes like the commentariat is 10% librarian and I’m sure there’s a wider diversity of readership than that. (I’m a librarian by education but not by profession.)

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          Hello from another “lapsed librarian.” I like your way of saying it.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I feel it would be difficult to collect this data, but even with the usual statistical pitfalls (not everyone comments often so regulars may not see the survey, some people might lie or not participate out of privacy concerns, some people read but don’t comment), it would still be interesting to see.

      1. Allypopx*

        If we set up a surveymonkey questionnaire or something we could account for a lot of that

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        It’s going to skew toward the most involved readers (weekend open thread commenters, for example!) and isn’t likely to represent the rest of them, which is why I’ve never bothered with one. (Not that I am not interested in the demographics of that group, but it would be a small slice of the overall.)

    3. Jean (just Jean)*

      Hmm. I think there was something like this in the semi-recent past. It might have been a “name your salary and job title” request. It being a gray, rainy Saturday afternoon, I’m too lazy to rummage in the AAM archives.

      1. Honeybee*

        Yes, there was an anonymous salary ‘survey’ so that people could get an idea of what folks in different job titles/positions made, in case they were interested in those careers.

    4. Shabu Shabu*

      Female, early 30s, Latina, masters degree.

      The only time I feel this has “made a difference” is during the open weekends when personal questions/advice comes into play. I recall a question maybe 6-12 months ago when someone was asking for advice about their family not accepting their career choice (I think) and she was having a tough time because she didn’t want to disappoint them and everyone was telling her to live her dreams!!! But…she wasn’t from the US and many of the POVs were “US WASP-y” and I could see that it was hard for commenters to understand that it just wasn’t done like that in her culture. (I recall her being very defensive as well, so it was a hard question to find a middle ground on).

      Overall, during the week I find that AAMers all seem to be educated* professionals that do/want to do well at work and that is invaluable to how helpful and thoughtful the comments sections are.

      *and I don’t mean that everyone has a degree, we’ve seen time and time again that there are plenty of commenters with 20 years of experience so I guess I’m saying educated can also = experienced

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think fposte is right that commenters skew differently than readers.

      For visitors, Google Analytics gives me some demographic data (age, geography, sex, stuff like that). Out of the 2.7 million visits in the last month:

      Female: 72%
      Male: 28%

      18-24: 16%
      25-34: 48%
      35-44: 22%
      45-54: 10%
      55-64: 3%
      65+: 3%

      U.S.: 70%
      UK: 8%
      Canada: 7%
      Australia: 3%
      India: 2%
      … followed by Singapore, Philippines, New Zealand, Germany, and Ireland, in that order

      60% of them got here from a search engine and 31% typed in askamanager directly (other sources are social media, email, or a referral link).

        1. Sami*

          Me too. I seem to be sort of noticing that more questions and comments are coming from very young people. Or I’m getting older (44) so almost to that 10% of readership.
          I’ve also noticed (at least by commenting name) there are quite a few people I only see on the weekend open thread versus comments on the questions during the week.

    6. Keladry of Mindelan*

      I’m in my mid 20’s, white, female, with a 4-year college degree who works in an office job in the DC area. Long time (several years long) reader, very recent commenter.

  11. Not Karen*

    Name something besides housing that you only have a 1-2 month window in which to buy and often have to compete with other people for the opportunity to pay for it.

    1. Celeste*

      Summer camps for children, especially if it’s for a specialty experience. They open up their offerings right around spring break, and they fill up fast. You’re quick or you’re dead, as they say. It really hurts to lose out and have to try for something else.

      1. Kristen*

        True. I just saw that our local university has summer camps for kids – sounds awesome! I recommended it to my sister-in-law for my nephew, but, yes, of course the best ones are full. Drat. Sounds great for next year though.

      2. Jessesgirl72*

        I think it’s March 1st that registration opens, and you have to get it right away.

      3. Clever Name*

        Yep. I sign up for emails for the camps my son wants to do and I put on my calendar the first day you can sign up for something. It feels a little mercenary, but I’m playing by the rules.

      4. Honeybee*

        That can extend to day care, too, especially in certain geographic areas. Although I suppose in many cases summer camp is a type of day care.

    2. Jessica*

      All sorts of specialized events. For the annual meeting of the Jane Austen Society of North America, you need to be ready to send yours in as soon as they open registration for the year, or you may not get to go. I hear DragonCon is similar. I bet the same is true for all kinds of events and gatherings in realms of life I haven’t even thought about.

      1. Honeybee*

        Ooh, this is a good one. The Penny Arcade Expo sells out in a matter of minutes, and a lot of the weekend badges for other cons like Emerald City Comic-Con, New York Comic-Con and San Diego Comic-Con sell out within a few hours or days.

    3. Jessesgirl72*

      Campsites at state and national parks. Only you don’t even have that long, normally. You have to book the minute they are available for weekends in summer (6-11 months out)

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I just booked my first camping trip! I had to do it 6 months out exactly.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          I don’t mind the 6 month ones as much as the 11 month ones- which Wisconsin is 11.

      1. Not Karen*

        That’s a good one.

        As for the others, perhaps I should have specified that by “something” I meant objects, not events/experiences/opportunities…

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I found out I was pregnant last Saturday, and had myself on waiting lists for daycare within 2 hours.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            Thank you! I’ve been freaking the heck out for the last week. I don’t think I’ll relax until I see the little heartbeat :)

        1. Rhonda in Oregon*

          Congratulations!! I’ve been reading this website for a long tie now, and have just started commenting. But I love your posts.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        Oh for the days when you only had to book at 7am at the 90/180 day mark if you were trying to eat breakfast with Cinderella…

      2. Red Reader*

        I just booked my FPs for the new Avatar rides for our July trip and was amazed at how many options I had.

    4. Natalie*

      In my city, shelter dogs. And it’s more like a 1 weekend window.

      Good stuff on Craigslist.

    5. Girasol*

      We just had that experience! Offers, counter-offers, houses bought from under us, inspections, conditions, remedies, mortgage loan fails, negotiations, land survey … So many momentous decisions that must be made faster than “Coke or Pepsi?” while you’re shoving your lifetime into boxes! The buyer had a buyer who couldn’t wait so we had a buyer who couldn’t wait and we had to shove our sellers. I imagine the process as musical chairs: “Everyone in the country who’s moving this year: one, two, three! All jump at the same exact moment.” At least we didn’t, as we had feared, end up camping in a furniture-filled UHaul with an alarmed cat. But it was so nerve-wracking that a year later we’re still second-guessing ourselves. I don’t know of any other decision people make like that.

      1. Clever Name*

        We bought our house when inventory was very low. Our agent told us if we saw a house we liked to put an offer on it right away. We shouldn’t even wait overnight. It was a little hectic, but I think we made the right choice.

    6. paul*

      I used to breed exotic animals; some of the rarer ones are actually tighter than that….

    7. Marzipan*

      Certain theatre/concert/festival tickets.
      Some collectible items (limited edition posters, toys/figurines, etc).
      Hyped fashion and make-up items (like, Kylie Jenner lip kits, say; or a High Street fashion store doing a celebrity collaboration).
      Stuff from the weekly Lidl offer, if everyone suddenly decides they want it (Himalayan salt lamps, I’m looking at you…)

  12. Detective Amy Santiago*

    I am very impatient. My brother has been overseas since August in the military. He’s finally on his way home, but because it’s the military, we don’t know exactly when we get to see him again. Instead of just coming home, he’s got to stop in Europe for a week or two and then go to another US city for a week or two.

    It’s frustrating because it’s so close and yet so far!

    1. TootsNYC*

      ooh, that’s always when waiting hardest–right when it’s about to happen.

      I only ever get homesick about 1 hour before the plane lands.

  13. Loose Seal*

    I moved here from a different state a few months ago and I went to the DMV with all my paperwork to get a new driver’s license issued from the new state (Georgia). However, due to a learning disability, dyscalculia, I failed the eye test. I asked if they had a letter-based eye chart and they said no. They offered me another chance to take the test when I explained about my difficulty reading numbers. I failed the second time, even when the clerk tried to subtly help me re-try the first two numbers. They, of course, could not issue me a license since they had no proof I could see well enough to drive. They gave me the phone number of their state office and said I should call them to find out what to do.

    I spoke to the state people and their solution was to have me go to an eye doctor and have them sign off on a medical waiver. I asked the person who was helping me if they thought that was particularly fair that I would have to pay $100 to see an eye doctor when everyone else could presumably get a license without that extra fee. They admitted it seemed unfair but they had no other suggestions.

    Now, I was planning to find an eye doctor here in Georgia this summer and my old license doesn’t expire for a while so I’m reasonably ok for the moment. But I thought about other people who have dyscalculia (roughly thought to be about the same number as those with dyslexia, approximately 15% of the population) and many of them may not have the funds or time off from work to get a medical waiver. Not only does one need to be able to drive a car in this area because of incomplete public transportation, a driver’s license is also one of the most common and generally easiest and cheapest forms of ID you can get. So I think this is an issue that needs to be solved.

    So, does anyone have any ideas who I can try to contact to get the DMV to try to change this policy? I would imagine that it wouldn’t be too expensive or difficult to provide other types of eye charts in addition to the numerical ones. Luckily, I’m in a position where I can devote some time and effort to trying to get this done. I’m just drawing a blank as to who to talk to next. Any suggestions would be very appreciated.

    1. Hilorious*

      Contact your state elected officials! They should be able to help you navigate this state-level issue.

    2. caledonia*

      Well first of all I would approach my local councillor (or the US version of them) – go political. Or perhaps there are educational ways and means – teachers who see students with dyscalculia, facebook groups, try and get the local media involved.

      1. dawbs*

        THis is my thought.
        I used to work in state gvt, and I helped w/ the ‘constituent database’ that many of the legislators used.

        Contacting the person who represents you at the state level can do a lot–they have a vested interest in helping you, they have *some* power, *some* connections, and they can at least shake the tree for you to see what falls out.
        And dtabases like that mean they also sometimes, if nothing else, can fasttrack tellingyou who to talk to.

    3. miki*

      In my DMV (IL) they make you read the line on the 5th row I believe but it is a line of letters, not numbers? I’ve never seen the machine that had numbers in the rows. Ask if they have that kind of machine for checking vision?

      1. Loose Seal*

        They don’t. They didn’t use the standard type of chart at all, the one with graduated letters and/or numbers. There’s was a machine you looked in that had three rows of numbers, all the same size, labeled A, B, and C. I was told to read line B. (I assume they alternate so you can’t try to memorize what the person ahead of you said.)

        That’s why I thought it wouldn’t be too hard to have the state program new lines for letters. The eye machine seems connected to the clerk’s computer so they know what you’re reading so it seems like they should just be able to toggle it to letters. Of course, I don’t program so I really don’t have any idea if it’s feasible. I just know what I looked at was unworkable for me.

        1. LCL*

          My state had these. I failed the first time because I was only looking with one eye. It’s been years since I took the eye test; between our state going to long intervals for license renewals and quasi legal dope, driving here is like being in a Mad Max movie.

    4. Parenthetically*

      You can look up “yourstate” + “parent agency” + “dmv” to find out who oversees your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. I’d start there. In my state it’s the Transportation Cabinet. You can also find out who your county clerk(s) is/are, if they are the ones who issue driver’ licenses, and contact their offices. I’d recommend having a pre-written script explaining your situation, and then follow up with an email, fax, or letter with basically the same script. You can continue to move up the chain — start with your district reps for the state house of reps, finish with your senior US senator.

      You might also contact your local disability advocacy board — look up “yourstate” or “yourcity” + “disability rights/advocacy” — and see if they have an advocacy process or even advocates already in place for situations like yours. You can familiarize yourself with the pertinent laws and reference them as you write up a script.

      Good luck.

    5. Natalie*

      They should absolutely provide an alternative. Good luck!

      One note about ID, though – all states have a non-drivers license state ID card, which is generally the same price or cheaper than a DL.

      1. TootsNYC*

        In Georgia, there’s an ID just for voting that’s free–it’s how they got around the “no poll tax!” requirement for their voter ID law.

      2. Loose Seal*

        Yeah, I mostly mentioned that for the outside-of-U.S. readers who might be used to a national ID card (which we don’t have) and/or passport (which is expensive). Here in Georgia, though, you pretty much need to drive if you ever plan to get anywhere so the DL is what’s needed for most people. I suppose there are some that could forgo the eye test and just take the ID card, though.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I’ve never seen a chart with numbers, not ever. I have dyscalculia too but I can read numbers–I just can’t make then do anything.
      Parenthetically had some good suggestions. This is absolute crap, IMO.

      1. Loose Seal*

        I can read numbers better if they are more square, like those on a debit card. But this was one line of numbers (that I assume was at 20/30 or whatever eyesight you have to have to drive) that I was supposed to focus on and they were really round. So I tend to mix up the round ones: 3, 6, and 8, for example. Sometimes 3 and 5 or 8 and 9, depending on how loopy the 9’s leg is.

        1. Loose Seal*

          I should add that everyone with dyscalculia that I’ve spoken to has had different things they can see so I don’t think the answer is to futz with the fonts of the numbers.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      On something like this I would do a broadcast approach. I would write one letter and send it everywhere. I’d show the CC at the bottom so that the recipient would be aware that others are seeing it, also. For the first round of complaints, I would do DMV at the state level, the governor and the attorney general of your state. It might be a good idea to include the congresspeople representing your area.
      I think you have a valid point and you should make many, many people aware of your point.

      1. Liane*

        Contact the staff of your state legislators. Just like the Federal level, their local staffers *get things done* for constituents. I once had difficulty getting my unemployment paid–former job was even trying to help me, it was so obvious I should get it. I called State Representative’s office & a day or so later *on Saturday!* a UI advisor called me. She really sounded panicked as she told me check was being cut right then.

        1. Tabby Baltimore*

          Not 100% sure about this, but it might help–for when calling your elected officials’ offices–to ask “Could you connect me with the staff member who’s in charge of Constituent Services?” You’d be using a term at least *some* of them are likely to be familiar with, so more likely to get the correct person the first time you ask.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I had a state rep stop here while out campaigning. I said I had Issue X going on. She said the next time it happens call her office and let them know. With that I would assume I would call up the office and say, “I have a concern about Issue X, is there someone I can speak with?”

    8. Anon for this*

      Please file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Disability Rights Section and consider contacting a local disabilities rights group. This may violate Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. I don’t know if your new state has a state civil rights agency that protects civil rights, but if so, contact them also.

  14. Blue Anne*

    About a year ago I posted here a lot about having to leave the UK because my husband and I had split up, and realizing what a toxic and controlling person he was.

    Just heard through the grapevine that he has recently been convicted of assault.

    I’m so glad I got out.

    1. Collie*

      Oh my goodness! That must bring up some overwhelming feelings, but I’m so happy you are out and presumably safe.

    2. Cristina in England*

      Yikes. I am sorry you had to leave the UK but very happy you’re far far away from him.

    3. TheLazyB*

      What everyone else said! That gave *me*a jolt, just from remembering reading your posts (also, wow, a year?!) So glad you got out safely.

      1. Blue Anne*

        Yeah, it’s strange for me to think that it’s been a year, too! But I got back to the USA on April 21st, 2015.

        1. Blue Anne*

          Er, 2016, rather!

          I’m also having trouble adjusting to the fact that we’re in 2017 already…

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I remember your posts and I just had a really bad feeling. Am so glad you have moved on. Excellent call on that one.

    5. SeekingBetter*

      Very happy to hear you got out of the relationship. Good for you for being strong enough to do so!

  15. CluelessAboutTheArea*

    A tangent on last week’s McLean/Arlington thread: Spouse, toddler and I will likely be moving to the area in the Fall. It’s been years since we’ve lived in the area. We want a townhouse in a very walkable area with a good school system. Any tips or areas to look at? Would like to keep the cost below $500k but that might not be reasonable. We would be willing to look at the MD area but am even more clueless there!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Arlington checks all those boxes. You’ll be spending close to your $500k limit, but I think you could find a two-bedroom townhouse for just under that.

    2. AnonBecauseArlington*

      Hi! Regular poster here going anon because reasons. I live in the Ballston area of Arlington in an unsubsidized apartment that is grouped with a mix of subsidized and unsubsidized apartments. The townhouses across the street from us are ~$700-900k. In those, you’re about a mile from both the Virginia Square and Ballston Metro (orange and silver lines) stations. The Ballston area seems to be moving toward further gentrification especially as they’re in the process of totally redoing the mall. Parking usually isn’t too hard to find if you can’t get it with your home.

      I don’t have children, but from what I hear, schools throughout Arlington are great. The north side of town is wealthier, so you can imagine the implications there (I’m right on the north/south line above Route 50 and there have been reports of various crimes — primarily domestic disputes, robbery, and sexual assault — but I wouldn’t say it’s a crime-filled area). When I’ve driven past schools in north Arlington, I’ve been acutely aware that that’s where the wealthy families are — the facilities are better, sports uniforms more attractive, etc.

      The Aurora Hills area is also nice (though I don’t know about housing prices there). It’s a little old, but it’s right near both Crystal City and Pentagon City and you can hop on the blue and yellow lines easily. I’m a fan of the Westover neighborhood (and Falls Church), but it’s also pricey and probably not as walkable. If you do end up in Westover anytime, though, definitely check out Stray Cat Café and Lost Dog Café. They’re both fantastic. (Also, Pupatella on Wilson Blvd — best pizza in the country, I swear!)

      Good luck!

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I literally just placed a delivery order from Lost Dog and am waiting for it to arrive. I’ve been ordering delivery from them since I was a 13-year-old who would have them deliver 6-packs of Jolt Cola that my friends and I would then proceed to get basically drunk from.

        Anyway, yeah, for that price point I think Ballston and Virginia Square will be too pricey, but I’d look around the Columbia Pike area (rapidly gentrifying, and where I am).

        1. AnonBecauseArlington*

          My SO co-owned a restaurant on Columbia Pike (it’s still running and Bill Clinton was there last year, but he’s out of the business). Lost Dog is seriously so great. I really love their pizza, but the curly fries (“mouse tails”) at Stray Cat in Westover get me every time.

          1. hermit crab*

            Ha, for me it’s the dog collars! I lived in Westover for a year and before that, I didn’t even think I liked onion rings. OMG dog collars.

            (For those who are not lucky enough to know the Lost Dog menu by heart, dog collars are wonderful amazing beer-batter baked onion rings, and they come with ranch and horseradish sauce, and my husband just looked over my shoulder and said, “Dog collars? Oh yeah. I want that. I want that always.”)

          2. hermit crab*

            And for CluelessAboutTheArea – you might also want to check out the Shirlington neighborhood. There’s townhouses that are in your price range, lots of families, a fabulous dog park, a great branch library, etc.

          3. AnonBecauseArlington*

            Yes! Shirlington is really nice.

            Also, I realize this isn’t a “what’s good to eat in Arlington” thread, but — Bob & Edith’s on Columbia Pike is great (they also have a larger location in Crystal City with easy parking) and there’s a Duck Donuts (of Outer Banks fame) on the north side of town near another great place, District Taco. (There’s another District Taco in Falls Church, too.) I’ve also been thrilled that there’s a new Five Guys near Target in Falls Church. And the Eden Center in FC is also great for Vietnamese food. All about Burger on Wilson in Arlington is excellent, too.

            Given that I need to eat every day, you know, like a human, I’m always checking out the best spots.

            But in all seriousness, these places are all regular haunts for me. Ravi Kebab on Glebe is fantastic as well, though I haven’t found a place that beats Moby Dick’s hummus!

            The only thing Arlington really lacks IMO is a good coffee shop to work in. I hate working at Starbucks and the local coffee shops nearby are on the small side. Mocha on Washington Blvd is nice, if a little cramped, but I wasn’t a fan of Rappahannock Coffee on Columbia Pike.

            Seriously I could talk about food in Arlington all day.

      2. Honeybee*

        Ballston! I was just in Ballston recently on a grant panel for the NSF. It does seem to be rapidly gentrifying – they have a lot of nice new eateries, and it looked like they were building a giant apartment complex.

        1. AnonBecauseArlington*

          I interned at the NSF in 2013! It was a super fun experience.

          The gentrification is so strange. I’m white and was here briefly in 2013 for the internship then moved here in 2014 and, at that point, I saw may be two other white people who lived in the area. There are lots more now and everyone in my apartment unit is white, except my SO who is Asian. It’s been really interesting to watch it all, but I worry about the displacement of the POC immigrants in the area, who seem to be primarily laborers, who may not be able to afford to live there anymore as prices go up.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Montgomery County has a really good school system, and as long as you’re OK with not being able to walk to the Metro, you can find townhouses well within your range. I was surprised to find some at about half that, but I’m not sure about those neighborhoods. I know people who live in Olney, Germantown, Gaithersburg, Rockville, Bethesda, and Wheaton, and while those are the more expensive areas, they’re all pretty nice. (I ordered them from suburban/longer commute to urban/more developed.) There are some more rural areas, too, where your commute would be a lot longer, but prices would be lower, like Laytonsville, Poolesville, and Damascus.

      1. Realistic*

        Seconding Montgomery County in MD, which has a lot of benefits WRT school system, affordability, diversity, shopping, dining, etc. I actually live in PG County, very close to MoCo, for an area which is much more affordable for me, since I’m not concerned with school system (College kids).

      2. Christy*

        Another +1 for Montgomery County. We’re buying a 2 BR/1 BA condo about 1 mile west of downtown Silver Spring for about $260k. We can walk to the train and it’s an excellent school district. Plus tons of green space, a walkable market and deli and gym, and you’re in a diverse and wealthy area. Plus did I mention how cheap it is for the area? Let me know if you want to know more.

    4. Regular/Anon*

      Check out Parkfairfax in Alexandria. I rented there about a decade ago and loved it – really cute, historic condos walking distance to a great elementary school. The condos are almost exactly like townhouses. It’s very close to Arlington, and a 2- or 3-bedroom will run you 300-450k.

    5. Tabby Baltimore*

      Back in the early 2000s, my family and I lived overseas. As our sojourn was coming to a close, I got tasked with finding a house back in America. All my kids were going to be school-age by the time we got back, so I used the site greatschools dot net, which is now greatschools dot org, to find reasonably good public schools for them, since parochial/private schools were prohibitively expensive for us. After entering a zip code, the system retrieves the names of schools in the zip code area and provides an overview rating. If you click on a specific school, you’ll see a little more information, like the %age of students who passed various elements of the Virginia Standards of Learning test. After getting this information, I also checked out local-area public transportation options. I don’t remember the real-estate site I used, but I used it to look for homes we could afford–w/the specific characteristics we needed–in the so-called “good school” districts I’d identified earlier. After that, I was able to triangulate which homes that (a) we could afford that (b) were in “good school” districts and (c) that were near transportation lines, which basically gave me the list of zip codes I told the realtor to look in for homes that met our house-specific criteria. When I finally arrived at her office, she had created a list of ~20 homes, 14 of which I physically went out to see in 2 days (I was only in town for a week, and I *had* to buy a house.)

      I did buy a house that was great for our family, and we’re still in it over 10 years later. I think my key to success, though, was focusing on what was important to me, and then finding other tools that would help me answer my questions. I don’t know which of the elements you mentioned (a particular kind of dwelling, housing costs, good school system, walkability) are most important to you, but whatever that is, I’d recommend making that your anchor, and then use the tools others make you aware of to aid with your decision-making. Best of luck.

  16. bassclefchick*

    I need some help from those of you who travel frequently, please!

    My husband surprised me with a weekend trip to Chicago for my birthday next month. SO excited! We’re using loyalty program rewards points and got to book a hotel right on Michigan Avenue! Here’s the thing. I have NEVER stayed in a hotel of that price point. I’m not QUITE going to be walking into the lobby right after mucking out the barn, but this really isn’t a place we would be able to afford without the loyalty program.

    So, here’s my question. Tipping. Oh, my. Tipping. Who do I tip, when, and how much? I usually leave something for housekeeping. And I know this place will have valet parking so I should probably tip them. And the person who takes our bags up to the room?

    Oh, goodness. Please help?

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I really haven’t been to any places like that, although I stayed in a suite when in Vegas a few years ago.

      For me it’s always been housekeeping and valet, but I agree that if someone helps you with your bags a tip is called for there, too. My cousin usually does $1.00 a bag. I do $5.00 a night to housekeeping, and a few dollars for valet. Beyond that…I have no idea who else to tip.

    2. fposte*

      What a lovely surprise! You will have a wonderful time.

      Tipping is all over the map, honestly, so as long as you don’t actively spit on people you probably won’t stand out. I find it easier to have fives on hand than a pile of singles, so I generally tip $5 for valet (each time somebody gets in the car) and $5 per night for housekeeping. I generally haul my own bag up but I think that’s lower–a buck or two per bag.

    3. Loose Seal*

      I was ungraded to the Concierge Floor(s) during a trip to Chicago once. I highly recommend it because there are private lounges for people on those floors that had a very nice breakfast, sodas all day, and a wine-and-cheese hour in the evening. So if you can get that, it might save a considerable amount on food and drinks that you might otherwise have to buy.

      More as to your question, I tipped the bag carrier when I checked in $5.00 for carrying one bag; I would probably have gone with $2.00 per bag but didn’t have any ones with me. I don’t usually ask for cleaning or towel service on a short trip so I left a $10 tip for the cleaning person the day I checked out. The Concierge Lounge did not have a tip jar so if I was supposed to tip in there, I couldn’t see how to do it. I did not park there but in other hotels, I pay the valet $2.00 every time they retrieve my car. I suspect I under-tip compared to others but that’s the trouble with tipping for anything beyond restaurants; you never know if you’re the talked-about cheapskate or Mr. Big!)

    4. all aboard the anon train*

      I don’t have a car so I’ve never done valet, but I usually do $1-2/bag if they bring it up to the room (though I’ve rarely done that), and $1-2/bag if they hold if before/after check-in or check-out. Usually $5.00/night if I have housekeeping change linens or I’ll just put a set amount at the end of the visit if I don’t have then change any linens during my stay. I’ll give a few dollars if the doorstaff hails me a cab. About 15-20% for room service if it’s not already included on the bill (check for this, because sometimes they include gratuity).

      If I use the concierge services for dinner reservations or theatre tickets or anything else, I usually give them $5.00 per day that they help me. More if they’re extremely helpful.

    5. Lady Jay*

      I have zero tips because I also have never stayed in a really fancy hotel – but I wanted to say congrats!! This sounds like so much fun!

        1. Loose Seal*

          I know lots of people say LOL when they just have a chuckle but I want you to know I truly laughed at loud at your glee in discovering your pun. I love puns and the people who make them!

    6. Laura (Needs To Change Her Name)*

      It is nice to leave a small ($3ish is fine) tip for housekeeping daily, because the person who cleans when you leave isn’t necessarily the same as when you check out. Label it “housekeeping” and leave it on a table because if you just leave money out they can’t take it. The little notepads the hotel provides are great for this! And don’t stress it too much, if you’re trying to be kind and polite you’ll do the right thing :)

      1. Laura (Needs To Change Her Name)*

        Rather, the person who cleans *before* you leave isn’t necessarily the same as the one who cleans when you check out.

    7. the gold digger*

      May I suggest that if there is any way you can avoid taking your car to the hotel that you do so? It is very expensive to park in downtown Chicago ($50-$70 a night) and really, if you are on Michigan Ave, you can probably walk to almost everything you want to do – the art museum, Eataly (seriously – they have a Nutella bar! and the little in-house restaurants are really good!), Millenium Park, etc, etc. If you are flying in, there is public transit into town. Otherwise, you can take the train. The station is only about half a mile west of Michigan.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Oh, yes! I walk or take the bus or a taxi when I visit, but we always stay right by Michigan and the river, either Magnificent Mile or right on Wacker. And I can walk all day, so that might not be for everyone, but public transportation is really good, IIRC we took one bus a block from our hotel right to the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum, which IMO are must-sees. The Shedd is the best aquarium I’ve ever seen.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          The only problematic museum is the museum of science and industry. During peak tourist season, there is an express bus. If you aren’t there in the summer, it’s take the El to a bus stop in a pretty unsafe part of the city. So.. if you ever visit in the off season, take an Uber!

          1. Elizabeth H.*

            I wouldn’t go there at night alone, I guess, but it’s NOT unsafe to get there on public transportation? You can just take the 6 straight from the middle of downtown, really easy. (unless the 6 doesn’t go there anymore I suppose – I have been out of school for a while) I went to U of C and it’s just a totally normal area. If you are talking about taking the red line to the 55 that’s totally normal in the day time too (I’d probably do it at night as well).

            1. Jessesgirl72*

              The 6 only goes there straight in the summer and on weekends between Thanksgiving and New Year. You can’t take a bus straight there from downtown at any other time- the only option is to take the El to a not safe area to wait for a bus that goes there. And people who LIVE in Chicago were gobsmacked that we did it. I am not from an upper class neighborhood- I know that’s not normal.

      2. bassclefchick*

        We’re in Wisconsin, so we’ll be driving down. We plan on walking everywhere we want to go or take public transit. We wish we could take the train but our governor nixed that idea. But I won’t start on that.

        Thanks for the suggestion!

        1. the gold digger*

          Parking at the MKE train station downtown is $8 a day, I think, or there is parking at the airport, where the train also stops. Just saying. :)

          1. Jessesgirl72*

            The MKA stop (the airport) is less busy too.

            That Hiawatha run is one of the only public transit routes I’ve ever seen that takes either equal (in good traffic) or better time than driving. And is cheaper than driving for one person, with gas and tolls!

        2. bassclefchick*

          We don’t own a car and we don’t live in Milwaukee, so we’d have to rent a car either way. Trust me, we’d LOVE to be able to take the train!

    8. Casuan*

      Regardless of how the hotel is being paid for, you are as much as a guest as those in the suites. Be yourself, be confident & enjoy!!

      as for tipping…
      Please don’t stress this!

      Unless you tip 25¢ or nothing at all, it’s doubtful that anyone will identify you as that person who doesn’t tip enough. If you give $3 that are discreetly folded, the recipient isn’t going to unravel them in front of you & comment.

      Keep $1 & $5 bills in reserve. Usually I keep a few batches of folded dollars [$3] & at least two $5. There’s nothing wrong with opening your wallet & handing a tip from that, although I don’t like to open my wallet in public like that & my method is simply what works for me.

      Arriving by car, don’t tip the car valet, even if he removes your bags from the trunk. Only tip when you fetch your vehicle, $2 minimum, $3 is better & $5 maximum.
      exception: If the valet also serves as a porter & takes your bags into the reception, $1 per bag suffices.

      If a porter helps you to your room, $5 probably suffices if it’s just for two & don’t have excess luggage, tip more if you think it’s warranted. Don’t be compelled to take your own bags even if the porter assumes you wouldn’t want to do so. A simple “Actually, we’ll take them, thank you!”

      Reception [aka Front Desk] isn’t tipped although the concierge should be tipped if he makes reservations, details an itinerary for you or otherwise helps. If you are just asking for general infos or how to get from here to there, no tip is required.
      to rephrase: You don’t need to tip the concierge for every little question.

      If an item is delivered to your room $1 something like a forgotten toothbrush, more for anything else.

      Room Service: charges for room service are quite high & some hotels automatically add a gratuity [aka tip] as well. If so, the gratuity will be marked as such & usually I don’t add to this, tho if I do it’s only a dollar or two.
      If the gratuity is not included, $2 or $3 if the food is delivered without an offer to be put where you want it or presented [eg: offering to pour the coffee or whatever]. That said, in a good hotel they’ll be attentive so plan for $5.

      Housekeeping for two people in a standard room: $3 to $5 each day, to accommodate for changes in staff. Probably $5 the day you check out.

      Restaurant hosts/hostesses/Maître D’s: only tip if they’ve gotten you a table even tough they’re booked or have otherwise been attentive, $5 preferred, $3 minimum.
      If they just show you to a table, there’s no tip required.
      At the bar, minimum $1,50 per drink.
      Servers 15% minimum; servers often tip out to the bus staff so you needn’t tip the bussers directly.

      It helps to know tipping standards & from there tipping is just from common sense. If someone does an exceptional job, tip more.
      If you’re still in doubt, ask what the standard tips are! This isn’t much different than asking a waiter what this unpronounceable food really is or how one should eat it.

      Hope this helps!!
      Enjoy your trip!!

      Can I just say…
      Tipping. Ugh.

    9. Nottingham*

      I don’t have any advice about how much to tip in the USA, but some places have started trying to keep tips and count them as company income. Some places even insist staff turn over tips they’ve been given directly! Sometimes this started out as an egalitarian move, to spread tips out to backroom staff who never saw customers face to face (like the dishwashers or laundry staff), but now some companies are just blatantly taking the tip money away and classing it as company income.

      So it’s worth asking if a hotel or restaurant will automatically add a charge for tips to your bill. If they do, how much will that cost? And does all the money go to the staff, or does the company keep it all, or take a cut? If it’s too much, or you don’t like the ethics if the company keeps it or takes a cut, you can usually ask for the percentage not to be added, and choose to tip directly and in cash.

      Mentioning this because I know people need tips, and thinking of one particular tip-stealing local business still annoys me, years later.

    10. Jules the First*

      Generally you tip the valet who retrieves your car (hand over a bill when you get your keys, usually $5; $10 if the weather is really miserable and the valet has to go out in, say, sleet), the bellboy (assuming he carries your bags – I usually just skip that and carry my own bags, and I don’t tip just for showing me to my room), and the housekeeper (at least $5 a day, more if you’ve made a mess or ask them to change the sheets every day – I mark one of the hotel stationery envelopes “Housekeeping”, tuck a bill inside and leave it on the pillow or the bathroom counter each morning when I leave the room), and anyone who brings you something upon request during your stay (so tip room service $5-10, a $5 to housekeeping when they bring you extra towels, etc…). If I’m only staying a couple of nights, I’ll tip housekeeping $10-15 a day, because I know it’s a hassle to turn over a room in such a short period.

      Make sure you tip the concierge if they do you an extra service (arranging theatre tickets, making dinner reservations at a restaurant not connected with the hotel), but otherwise no need.

      And really, you’ll be absolutely fine if you just smile and are really polite to everyone – no one at that price point will treat you any differently whether you tip or not.

      1. Casuan*

        And really, you’ll be absolutely fine if you just smile and are really polite to everyone – no one at that price point will treat you any differently whether you tip or not.

        This is so very true & it’s the best worded advice in this thread.
        A good hotel & its staff genuinely wants the guests to have the best experience that meets their needs. No one expects a guest to go broke from tipping. Give what you can & enjoy your awesome weekend!!

    11. bassclefchick*

      Thanks for the suggestions! I will be bookmarking this thread so I remember it for closer to our trip. My husband and I love Chicago – we honeymooned there! So we’re very aware it’s hella expensive to park downtown, but as I said in response to The Gold Digger, the train isn’t an option and we COULD fly, but seems wasteful when we can drive there in about 3 hours.

      Thanks for calming me down, everyone! I know service people work really hard and I don’t want to be that clueless tourist who does the wrong thing. The last thing I want to do is insult them by not tipping if I’m supposed to!

      1. OhBehave*

        All the above for tipping!
        Check out the Best Parking app for finding cheap parking. Our daughter uses it when she goes to the city for concerts. Otherwise, we either Uber or walk.
        We love taking the architectural boat tours. My husband grew up in Chicago and had never taken on until we got married and started driving up for date weekends.
        As for staying in a swanky hotel….don’t stress out. Believe me, you see all manner of humanity even in swanky hotels. Stay clean and neat; you’ll be fine.

  17. The Other Dawn*

    I’ve always had a very tough time making friends. In school, I was picked on mercilessly because of my height and weight (I was always the tallest and heaviest in my class), so I was pretty withdrawn and distrustful of people because of it. Even into adulthood, I still feel like that much of the time. I don’t feel like I ever developed the small talk skills and things like that, and I’m an introvert, too. I have a best friend (although I’m not feeling it with her lately), two out-of-state friends I text or Facebook with once in a while. I have another on-again off-again friend I’ve known since high school; we start talking again every couple years. And then there are acquaintances I talk to within the cat rescue I volunteer with, but that’s really just at volunteer events. And that’s it. My whole social circle. I also have three sisters and a brother, so I get some socializing there, although most live out of state.

    The question has come up here many times as to how to go about making friends, and I always follow those threads with interest. But it’s always in the back of my mind that it just feels like too much effort to make friends, so I stop reading, knowing that I’m never going to make the effort to do any of those things. I’m being quite lazy about it and want friends to come to me, and I know that’s not how it works. Also, although I lament the lack of friends and someone to take an interest in me, I also know that if friends were to materialize, I’d likely lament any loss of “me” time (even though I’m married without kids so it’s “me, me, me” all the time). I often compare it to my cat who likes to go outside: he desperately wants to go out, but once he’s out he wants back in two minutes later. He comes in and then another two minutes later wants to be outside. He wants both at the same time, which is how I feel about friends and social interaction.

    My husband and I were in Staples the other day and as we were going down the aisle that has the mousepads, he pointed out one with Grumpy Cat and the caption was, “I had fun once. It was awful.” He laughed and said, “That’s you!” I agreed and we both laughed about it. Then it got me thinking about myself: the old me who used to have a lot more fun, the subject of friends–and lack thereof–, and how I feel about it all.

    I started thinking about what I really want in a friend and what friendship looks like to me. Someone who wants to be on the phone for anything more than a couple minutes feels very suffocating to me, as I used to have a friend in high school that would spend HOURS on the phone; that’s why I hate the phone today. I also feel suffocated by someone who wants to go places all the time, and don’t enjoy bars and nightlife, really. I’ve concluded that I’m looking for a friend I can text with a couple times a week (if that), someone who listens, someone who takes an interest in me if only to text once a week to say “hey,” and only wants to get together in person very occasionally. Maybe someone I can call when I want to check out a new store that just opened up, like a new kitchen store. I definitely don’t feel like I need a bunch of social interaction to feel like someone likes me. The two out-of-state friends seem just right to me: we text or Facebook once in awhile, we’re there for each other when something big happens, and if I’m out their way I stop by for a quick visit.

    I have no idea how I’ll go about getting something like this locally, though, so I’ll have to figure it out. I feel as though everyone wants in-person interaction, and that’s not something I’m looking for more often than very occasionally.

    I’m curious—what do you look for in a friend? I don’t mean, “I want someone who’s honest.” I think we all want that. But what do you feel is the right level of interaction and interest? Things like that. What does a friend look like to you?

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      I love Anna Kendrick. But I finally watched Pitch Perfect 2 last weekend and just didn’t love it. The first film is one of my favourites. Lots of people keep telling me the second one is even better. I wasn’t feeling great when I watched it so I’m going to give it another try but… meh.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Argh, sorry, that was meant to be in a new thread!

        On friendship: I’m sorry to hear of your experiences in school. I can relate. I find I need a mix – some friends I see regularly (but not more than once a week and no showing up unexpectedly) and some that are more like your out of state friendships.

        As to what I want, I’m not sure I know how to describe it beyond being on the same wavelength, sharing the same sense of humour and not annoying the shit out of me.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          I felt the same way about Pitch Perfect 2. Not great.

          “Not annoying the shit out of me” is definitely essential for me, too, as is not showing up unexpectedly. Even for family. I have multiple cats and one just never knows what kind of nastiness will be uncovered when one least expects it.

          1. NaoNao*

            This may or may not work for you but….internet forums? Or active comment sections or blogs with “members” that are in your interests?
            They allow asynchronous communications, they allow you to biff off when you’re feeling overwhelmed, and the more active communities have members that will get to “know” you and comment. Friends of Captain Awkward is a very warm community (with a few caveats—they’re very, very strict on use of language there, and some find that off putting enough that they bounce out after 1-2 interactions. I was a bit put off but I found that after that initial breaking in period, I’m able to navigate easily and it’s a great resource for me), and I follow some fashion blogs that have members who chat amongst themselves.
            I also think you might consider a “personals” ad for like…text-pals, or pen-pals but over text. This is a thing in the Philippines (it’s called “texting buddies” or “text friends”) and because talking on the phone is so rare there, people will get a casual friend just for the purpose of occasionally texting back and forth for fun.
            Finally, depending on your age, consider trying to meet friends that are significantly older—your mention of not wanting to go out or do bars, clubs, etc, made me think of my mom (who’s 62). She would love nothing more than an occasional tea or trip to a store, with very little contact in between. She treasures her “me” time after all her kids and pets are gone (pets to the Rainbow Bridge, kids are fine!) and she only occasionally wants/misses friends. You might join a local book club or other hobby group and put out feelers, or check out Girlfriend circles dot com (it’s a paid group, but the benefit is that everyone there is firm on wanting new friends, so it’s like online dating but for friends). There’s many women of 45+ whose kids are grown and gone and they’re feeling a bit lonely.
            Good luck!!

    2. Allypopx*

      I’m pretty extroverted, but generally busy, and when I’m not I like to have downtime at home. So I think I look for similar things to you, for different reasons. I like to be able to text someone out of the blue if I think of them, and not have it be weird, even if it’s been awhile. I like occasional hangouts, but to be understanding if we’re both busy or just not up to it, that’s okay. Also common interests are a must. We have to have things to talk about!

      But I have a variety of friends who fill different social needs. I have friends that I can netflix and pizza with, friends that are great for intellectual discussion, friends who like concerts, friends who really like bars and restaurants, friends who like classy things, friends who like cheap festival-y things, friends who like D&D and weird podcasts…and there’s a lot of overlap here, I’m not like….swimming in friends, though I’d like to think I have a fair amount.

      But I think as an adult my ideal friendship is a friendship where we genuinely think about each other and miss each other and want to spend time together from time to time, but we don’t make demands on each other. That balance is very comfortable for me.

      1. SeekingBetter*

        Gosh, I really wish I had that kind of friendship variety in my life! Currently, it seems like the only people I can actually be friends with are the people I see at my exercise places every week. I usually only talk to these people when I see them there and rarely hang out with them elsewhere.

    3. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Most of my friends are people I’ve met through various online groups. They live all over the world, so the majority of my socializing happens on the internet. I don’t like going to bars or nightclubs either. After work, I just want to come home and decompress and not deal with people. If I feel like chatting online, there’s usually someone around. If I just feel like vegging with Netflix, I can do that too.

      There are a few local people that I hang out with sometimes. One of my friends from high school is my movie going buddy. We usually go and see the hot new releases together (gotg2 tonight!).

    4. Sabine the Very Mean*

      I think you and I are pretty similar. I was bullied so badly that I totally understand why kids take their own lives. Today, I struggle w making friends who don’t really need much interaction. I don’t get emotionally invested in my friends or friendships so that right away will turn off many woman. My best friends know they won’t see me as often as they might want. They also understand when I decline invitations and do not push–that is rare in female relationships, I’ve found. They also know I’m very private and don’t try to come around unannounced. These took years to find. I notice most woman wouldn’t tolerate such a friend like me.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        “I don’t get emotionally invested in my friends or friendships…” Hmm. That’s interesting. I’ve never thought about it really, but I think I’m like that, too, to an extent. Even with my best friend whom I’ve known for 30+ years, I don’t feel bonded with her. I mean, I do have some emotional investment with her due to time and our history, but when it comes to my other friends it’s just not there. I often feel like I might miss the interaction (what little there is) if they went away, but I don’t think I’d actually miss *them*.

      2. Mimmy*

        YES!! A friend I posted about in a separate comment to Dawn was like that – she was EXTREMELY emotionally invested in her friendships: She took any small slight to heart and often broke the friendship, doing it to me several times.

        It’s nice to be loved, but it does get into Creepy Town when it gets that intense.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          I had a friend who texted me all. the. time and when I eventually set boundaries she said my idea of friendship was her idea of not even trying and then blocked me on all social media. I… don’t miss her.

      3. marmalade*

        I don’t get emotionally invested in my friends or friendships

        That’s really interesting to me … and very foreign. I’m not knocking you, we all have our own styles, but emotional engagement is a condition of friendship for me. From my perspective, I’m not sure what you actually have in a friendship if there’s no emotional investment.

        1. Sabine the Very Mean*

          Well, when I say that it means I don’t call on birthdays, I don’t share secrets about myself, I might not even remember your kid’s name. I won’t be there when you give birth and would find it bizarre that you might want me to visit you after. But I wouldn’t expect it if you either–or even welcome it. 99% of my time must be MY time. I enjoy a nice meal with a friend or a quick activity. When a friendship ends, I’m grateful for meeting them but won’t likely miss them or try to stay in contact.

    5. puzzld*

      Making friends as an adult… such a challenge. And then, once you have them, you’ve got to do things with/for them. My best advice is to do things YOU want to do and befriend others who are doing those activities. Nothing worse than finding people you really like only to find you have no hobbies/interests in common and you always have to go along with their stupid plans (or watch them be all bored doing what you want to do) So if you love animals, volunteer for a rescue group or shelter. Or just walk your cute, friendly dog… you’ll get to know the other dog walkers. Like to read? Volunteer at the library or attend book talks there or author visits at the local book store. Find a photography group. Go watch your favorite sportsball team at a neighborhood sport bar. Take a class in something you’ve always wanted to learn. Just don’t be a hermit, sitting at home wishing you were out having fun, but none of the things that people you know want to do sound like fun. It’s fine to be a hermit, just don’t be a lonely sad one.

      1. TootsNYC*

        ” once you have them, you’ve got to do things with/for them. ”

        This is why my most successful friendships as an adult have been through church. Because it’s an organization/activity/place I go regularly, even separate from the friend. And the organization itself creates things we end up doing together. And we have things to start talking about first, and we can extend to more personal stuff. We don’t usually do that much “social” stuff, bcs we know we’ll see each other at the next meeting, or we’ll spend “extracurricular” time together on whatever project (we’ll plan the Christmas party together, or VBS, or something) we’ll both volunteer for, or I’ll help her move, or she’ll come help me clean out my clsoet. And our personal conversations will build off of that.
        I can also start really slow in building the friendship, because the thing I’m -really- there for is me, and what the organization stands for/accomplishes/gives me.

        In a way it’s the same pattern of stuff like school or high school clubs, where I made friends int he past.

        I think any organization w/ regular meetings would work, especially if it was an organization that YOU actually cared about participating in.

    6. all aboard the anon train*

      I’m somewhere between introverted and extroverted because I enjoy being around people, but I also find it exhausting and prefer more alone time than time spent socializing.

      I have different friends for different things. Friends to geek out with at midnight premieres and about the tiniest details of TV shows. Friends for theatre and ballet. Friends to go to protests with. Friends to spend three hours with enjoying good and good wine. Friends to travel with. Online friends to talk to over twitter or skype with when we marathon a show together.

      Mostly, I look for people who aren’t emotionally needy. Friends who I feel comfortable sharing personal things if I want to, but who aren’t going to push for details if it’s clear I don’t want to talk about it. I like people who have similar interests and political/social ideas, but who also challenge me to see a different point of view or consider something outside my experience.

      I remember being miserable in middle school because I thought a friend meant talking on the phone every day and hanging out whenever you had free time. Movies and TV really misled me as a kid because it made me think my idea of friendship was abnormal.

      I’m lucky that even though I don’t have a lot of friends, the ones I have contact me from a couple times a week to a couple times a month. It’s not daily communication, and we don’t even see each other every week, but they’re there if something big happens or if I see a fun event and ask if they want to go. I think technology has helped because I can stay in contact with people without having to see them all the time. I know I’d feel way more lonely if I never saw anyone but also never talked to them via text or chat or email.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        It’s too much of an energy suck for me to be friends with someone who is either emotionally needy or wants to be together all the time. Been there, done that with both types and it’s just too much for me. I think that’s why I’m so picky these days. I’m very leery of getting trapped in another friendship like that. Although, I’m an adult now and there’s no reason to be trapped into anything anymore. Actually, when I look at the friends I have from childhood (the very few I have), they’re all emotionally needy. The ones I befriended as an adult, again very few, are pretty self-sufficient and happy in their lives. So, yeah, I think that’s what I’m looking for: someone who is self-sufficient, happy in their life, independent, and is mostly casual.

        1. all aboard the anon train*

          I found that I gravitated towards people who were ambitious and independent or who were more introverted and enjoyed solitary habits (reading, watching movies, etc.). It gives a nice balance because, in my experience, I found that they were like me in enjoying being around people, were there if you needed to vent or needed comfort, but they had stuff to do and other relationships and didn’t need to be connected 24/7.

          I have a very small group of close friends who I would call if something serious happened, and a slightly larger group of “casual friends” who are there to have fun with at dinner or movies or festivals, but who are mostly casual (they’ll know about my life, but I’m not going to tell them my deepest secrets). Because sometimes you just want someone to hang out with for a couple hours, not someone where every get together is going to be about pouring out your heart. That can be exhausting. I’m a big proponent of having “casual friends”.

    7. Melody Pond*

      I think what I find most difficult about friendships is that I get too easily distracted by things that are going on at work, or with Mr. Pond, and I’ll look up, and it’s been a year since I last talked to the person that I wanted to stay close to. In most cases it feels like, if I’m not willing to put in the work of maintaining contact, that it doesn’t happen at all. And I find that pretty discouraging, and so I tend to stop trying. :-/

      But, I’m also a bit lonely. I can’t rely on just work and Mr. Pond for my socialization needs. So I’m with you in feeling that I ought to do something to change this, but I have no idea what to do differently to get better results. I don’t really want it to be 100% on me to stay in contact.

      I think I need like an online dating website, but for platonic friendships. That’s got to be a thing that exists somewhere, right?

      1. Lady Jay*

        Meetup is supposed to be good for this, but I think it only works if you live in an urban area. I live in a small town in the upper midwest and the only meetups are 1) for local businesswoman, and 2) for people who see ghosts.

        1. all aboard the anon train*

          Meetup is hit or miss. I’ve found that a lot of the groups I’ve tried are full of people who are already friends and it’s hard to just budge your way into a new group. It’s also hard because sometimes the group or event sounds great, but no one there is what you’re looking for in a friend. So it’s a lot like dating.

          Also, depending on the group, it’s a lot of people looking for dates.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            Yeah, I’ve looked into Meetup and there’s nothing that interests me in the area. Anything I’m interested in, such as a cookbook club or maybe a writing group, is pretty far away. I’m not really sure I want to start one up. I’d rather check out a few first and see what I like.

            1. PM-NYC*

              Not sure how you feel about socializing online but I’m in Food52’s online cookbook club (I believe chowhound has an online club as well) & some people have organized monthly dinner parties for fellow members in their area, so that might be a way to do some low key socializing.

    8. Elkay*

      I look for casual interaction. I want to see people for a couple of hours then go on my merry way.

    9. Lady Jay*

      In HS, I let myself be taken advantage of. We had a new girl, who was really pretty and popular, move into town when I was 15 or 16, and in an effort to get to know her, and to hang onto my childhood friendships, I’d invite this girl and others to lots of stuff, like supper out, and then I’d try to be generous and pay. They accepted my generosity but rarely/never reciprocated, and this hurt me badly.

      So as an adult, I look for someone to reciprocate, at least a little. I’m okay with the fact that for whatever reason, if I want to do something with someone, I usually have to initiate; I have to make the first move. But if I’m *always* initiating get-togethers with a friend, I will give up on that person. I actually think that one of my friendships is slowly dwindling, for just this reason; friend got an SO and suddenly I’m the one who pushes to get together.

      Also, interestingly, I live in a place where people don’t invite each other over for supper or out for coffee or for one-on-one time; people’s work/religious/social life all kind of blur together, and people generally get together for big activities (e.g. movie night, spring concert, banquet, sports). I HATE big activities and avoid them like the plague, as I’m introverted enough that this feels like I’m not really getting to know anyone. Plus, a lot of these activities are oriented towards families or at least couples, and as a single woman, I find them pretty awkward to attend. So I wind up spending more time by myself. I’m not sure whether I’m okay with this or not, but it’s preferable to going to a bunch of activities.

    10. Realistic*

      the only way I know I didn’t write this is that I’m a widow, so I could not have been shopping with my husband. Oh, and I don’t have sisters. Every.other.word.is.me.

        1. Realistic*

          Thanks. Tomorrow will be 2 years to the day. It’s a new life… but not a bad one. Just different.

    11. Mimmy*

      Dawn, I had a similarly suffocating friend for years, beginning when I was 19: She used to insist on talking by phone every day, sometimes calling me past 10 or 11 pm, which I think is late. Also, she always wanted to get together, which was tricky because neither of us drove. It definitely had an affect on me.

      I think I just like friends who don’t insist on calling or getting together all the time. Also, I like having a back and forth conversation – I have another friend who calls me once a week and just … talks. Sometimes she’ll tell me the same story she’s told me 2 or 3 times already. Often, it sounds more like a stream of consciousness (?) about everyday irritations in her life.

      Other than that, I’d say most of my current friends are either former coworkers or classmates, or are fellow advocates in the disability community – shared interest is something else I look for in friends.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yeah, the friend that’s on-again off-again is like that, which is why I hate talking to her on the phone. She goes on and on about people I don’t know and never asks about me. Plus, any time I text her, she calls me back instead of texting, which I HATE. I’m totally phone-adverse, but I definitely feel like the phone is much more demanding and in-my-face than texting.

    12. Lissa*

      I am horrible at making friends, but pretty good at keeping them. I was extremely isolated and had a very bad time with other kids up until I was 13, literally had no friends, and it wasn’t until I was in my 20s that I felt I really had people I connected with, who didn’t just tolerate me. I’m the opposite of a lot of people who had super tight friendships in HS/university and then struggled later

      I guess I want people I can be relaxed around – who I know won’t jump on me because I have a 5% different view than them, or used a word they read the other day was inappropriate, etc. But I also can’t stand flakiness on a regular basis. Everyone has things come up, but I’m having a hard time right now with people who flake in a way that makes me feel like the absolute last priority, and it kinda sucks. This sounds cheesy but I want people that I can be myself around, and not feel judged – realistically that means people I have at least some common views with, though I have had great intellectually challenging relationships with people I mostly disagree with, I have never got Really Super Close with any of them, either.

      I feel like there can be a lot of judgment in friendships around people who have different priorities/standards. IE thinking, oh, this person is clingy or this person doesn’t care, but really they just have a different amount of interaction-preference. I’m not a very demonstrative person, and I don’t care about gifts, so somebody who has different priorities might really not click with me as a friend. And someone who often cancels on short notice is probably not a great friend for me. Doesn’t mean anyone involved is *bad*, but those friendships should probably stay casual.

      I want to have hours long conversations with my closest friends, but also sometimes be able to let dumb crap come out of my mouth and not feel like I am going to get treated to a lecture – maybe I like people where our dumb crap kind of matches.

    13. Colette*

      I have a similar social circle – I have several people I’d consider friends, but it would be u usual to see (or call) any one of them more than once a month. I got together with 2 friends last week that I haven’t seen in at least 6 months.

      As far as making friends who also want infrequent contact, I think you’re looking for someone who you click with who has substantial hobbies or other commitments. I.e. You want someone who is self-sufficient and happy in their life.

    14. Elizabeth West*

      Oh geez, I don’t know. Someone I click with, I guess. I tend to bond with people over shared interests, but whether I get close to someone or not depends on their personality. I have friends and quite a few acquaintances, but I really haven’t had a BFF since college (way back), so all I have to draw on is that. I’m defaulting to a female pronoun here, although a BFF could also be a dude.

      Someone who gets me, who understands how I think and doesn’t judge me. Someone I like who likes me back and wants to spend time with me doing fun things we both enjoy. Someone I feel I can trust–that is, if I tell her something, she isn’t going to blab it to all our friends or her spouse, if I don’t want that person to know. We will probably have the same views on major stuff–I wouldn’t feel like I could get close to say, someone who thought the earth was flat, for example. A person who will laugh at my jokes, a person with whom we can make our own jokes, and she can tell me when I’m being a jerk but in a nice way.

      Someone like Paula in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. I want a Paula!!!!!

      All of this is mutual–it’s someone I would want to do the same for them myself. *sigh* I miss having friends like that.

    15. Not So NewReader*

      Friendships are work, there is no getting around it.
      However, you might actually be looking for casual friendships. This is where you randomly call each other maybe once or twice a month to go somewhere or do something that involves a mutual interest. (You know those things you want to go to but you don’t want to go by yourself.)

      I have to say, after going the BFF route and losing track of that somewhere along the lines, I have enjoyed my casual relationships more than I ever enjoyed BFFs. I have had some surprisingly candid conversations that have been very helpful in my life.

      I look for people who are sincere, thinking people. I don’t have to agree with them, I do have to see where they have put some thought into how they go at life. The way they treat others is the way they will treat me, so I watch how they treat others and how they talk about others.
      I end up picking people who share an interest. That interest is a conversation starter, a motivator to do something other than the same old thing and it’s an inroad to learning about each other.

      My one regret in life regarding friendships: I spent too many years over thinking things. Well that was because of [reasons]. I shook off some of those reasons and it’s been a good thing.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        “You know those things you want to go to but you don’t want to go by yourself.”

        Yes! In my case, I’m perfectly willing to go by myself, but sometimes I actually do want someone to go with–it’s just more fun. However, I can safely say that no one I know ever seems to have an interest in the same things. No one I know likes sushi or is in ANY way adventurous with food (and by “adventurous” I mean wanting to eat something other than American or Italian, and the occasional pork fried rice…), I’m the only one who reads regularly for pleasure, I’m not into bars and the night life, etc. I’d love to go out more with my eldest sister; however, she’s a busy foster mom and doesn’t have much time to herself. And when she does, I feel bad dragging her out somewhere.

    16. Kj*

      I want to see friends on a regular basis, but not talk everyday or text. In person interactions about every other week is great. I also want friends to do stuff with- sitting around a just talking gets old. Board games and RPGs are how I socialize. Of course my job is people heavy, so I think am more avoident because at work I have highly intense interactions for 5 hours straight.

      I was never a child with tons of friends and I preferred books to other kids. I appreciate friends now, but lack the desire for a ‘best friend’ like I see in the media. I don’t want to text with someone daily.

    17. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      Most of my friends are people whose company I enjoy whether or not we’re in the same room. And vice versa. What’s worked best is we text at our leisure if we have something to say or an article to share. Some friends I text with twice a year, some once every couple of years, a rare few I text with most days.

      I like to have some human interaction but over the long term I prefer it in short controllable bursts that don’t require pants or the energy to go out of doors. And then my months are peppered with short visits to or from friends once every several weeks. It doesn’t seem like much but it adds up. The local friends who I can actually see tend to be friends I only talk to when I see them. The long distance ones stay in touch more so it all balances out.

      I forget how amazing a long belly laugh with goofy friends can be, though, if it’s been too long.

    18. Episkey*

      Hmmm, quite honestly, if someone lives very locally to me, but shows no interest in hanging out in person, I’m going to assume that person doesn’t really want to be close friends. I wouldn’t push it, I’m actually pretty good at social cues & social skills, but I would just think “acquaintance level” more than “friend level.”

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I wouldn’t say I have zero interest of hanging out in person, but I definitely don’t want the several times a week thing either. Maybe once every few weeks or so. But it also depends on how much we have in common, where the person lives (distance), and if she bugs the crap out of me and/or is emotionally needy.

    19. The Other Dawn*

      Thanks for your thoughts, everyone! Some very different ideas of friendship here, all of them valid. As someone else said, I definitely feel like people are misled by TV and the movies sometimes in regards to how friends should behave. I’m definitely not into the whole BFF thing, sharing clothes, talking and/or hanging out daily. etc. I mentioned in a couple of the other comments that I’d love to find someone who is self-sufficient/independent, happy in their life, and not emotionally needy. All of my childhood friendships lacked that. The very few friends I made as an adult measure up to my standards, and I think that’s why I’m much happier with those friends. And I like the kind of friend were it’s casual: we can do long stretches of time without talking, then just pick up where we left off as if nothing ever happened.

    20. Katriona*

      Honestly the thing I look for most is someone who respects the fact that I have other things going on in my life and can’t prioritize them 100% of the time. I have one friend who I love spending time with and we have a lot of common interests, but if we go more than a couple weeks without hanging out she gets insecure about whether I still want to be her friend. It’s *exhausting*, especially since I already feel like I make an extra effort to stay in touch with her at the expense of my own energy levels (introvert here). OTOH my closest friends are people I can go a year or more without seeing and pick up right where we left off. I feel like I can open up more to them when we do talk because there’s less pressure.

    21. Catherine from Canada*

      I want a friend that calls me. I don’t want to be the one who calls them, every time. Everyone is always very happy to hear from me, is happy to arrange getting together, but it’s always me that initiates. And it hurts. Enough that I give up for a year or so, until I get lonely enough to reach out again.

  18. Emma*

    Since it was announced that Serena Williams is expecting, as was already pregnant when she won the Australian Open, there’ve been a bunch of articles about how amazing women – specifically pregnant women – are.

    While I get it’s appealing to up the ‘woman can do anything’ message and use it to demonstrate that getting pregnant is no hinderance to one’s career, I feel like a lot of is missing an important issue – the fact that she’s an elite athlete and is most likely in better health/fitness than most women. I don’t have kids yet but I have friends who’ve gone through the process, and for weeks had no energy to do much more than curl up in bed. I hope that women don’t feel pressured that they need to be some sort of super-human when going through all that, or that they’re somehow letting down their gender just because they /can’t/ be out there winning things.

    1. caledonia*

      Yeah when Vika (Victoria Azarenka) announced she was pregnant it didn’t get nearly as much pick up as Serena.

    2. Temperance*

      FWIW, I think women are generally socialized that we have to be everything to everyone. I do think we need to celebrate Williams, and her amazing strength and victory, but we can totally do that without disparaging other women.

      1. Hrovitnir*

        Yes. I don’t think pregnancy is taken seriously enough as the potentially fatal event it is. Some people find the discomfort minor and actively enjoy it; some people are in pain and unable to think straight for 8 of the 9 months. Most people are in between. Childbirth is still risky even with access to the best medical care, and the rate of death by childbirth in countries where there is virtually no healthcare is outright terrifying.

        It’s always uncomfortable with these articles where you agree with the general premise but worry about the overall context it feeds into – in this case, that women should be able to function exactly as well as if they weren’t pregnant.

    3. Mallory Janis Ian*

      It seems that generally, pregnant women can continue their pre-pregnancy activity level well into pregnancy, but starting a new fitness thing is harder. I remember being fairly inactive preceding my pregnancy with my second child, and then trying to start up a brisk walking program in my second trimester. I got 3/4 of the way around my block, and then my big pregnant belly started tightening and tightening until I had to complete the final 1/4 block all doubled over. I was fine — it wasn’t labor or anything! My stomach relaxed once I quit walking. I just learned that I couldn’t take up a vigorous exercise program mid-pregnancy. Props to Serena, though!

    4. New Bee*

      I like the attention as a response to the concern-trolling of pregnant women (and I say this as someone forbidden from exercising while pregnant), but I also haven’t read any of the coverage you mention that disparages other women.

  19. LR*

    I have trouble getting out of bed in the morning, so this past week I moved all my coffee-making stuff to my bedside table. I set the coffee machine up to start brewing right before my alarm, and put a little cream in a fancy japanese thermos. So now I can just wake up, roll over, and pour coffee and cream into a mug before I’m even really awake. It utterly rules.

    1. Kristen*

      Just make sure you leave the George Foreman grill in the kitchen where it belongs!

        1. paul*

          ……I managed to burn a rather more intimate part of my anatomy on a Forman Grill once.

          I *still* dont’ know how. I was sober. I was…19 I think? I was living in a dorm and was trying to grill something after a shower and well, yeah, ow oh god ow ow ow crying. I still have a scar on my foreskin.

          That was the last time I used one

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          Do you have one?? I’d love to hear how it works from an actual user.

          1. Nottingham*

            My parents had one, but it didn’t quite work for them. They had very different tea preferences: Mum liked weak tea and so wanted to only put in one or two teabags, but Dad liked builder’s tea, and would have happily put in three or four teabags and then left it to steep and get even stronger. They didn’t like leaving milk out by the bed for the morning tea (mainly because the cat kept drinking it, and the dog knocked it over once trying to drink it). They usually drank their tea out of mugs the size of soup bowls, and so felt the pot & cups on this were too small for two people.

            But they used it as an alarm clock and it lasted for years, and the very loud alarm that goes off when you leave it empty was loud enough to wake the entire house up, so it was very effective.

            I’d buy a little teacosy for the pot if you want to have two hot cups of tea; it was quite small and went cold quite fast, IIRC. But yes, you should definitely buy it and have all the tea in bed you want! (and not just because I’ll lose my British passport if I keep criticising the idea of having tea available on-demand everywhere).

          2. TheLazyB*

            If it helps my parents used to have a teasmade but now just have a tiny kettle in their​bedroom.

          3. Cambridge Comma*

            I had one for years. It works as you’d expect: you hear the water boiling before the alarm goes off. The little teapot is insulated somehow so it stays warm for a while.
            I never got another when it broke because I can’t not get up to go to the bathroom before drinking tea, so if I’m up anyway, the advantage is lost.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          When I showed it to my mom, her reaction was “Seriously, Amy? You live in a tiny apartment and your kitchen is 20 steps away from your bed.”

    2. Your Weird Uncle*

      Hee hee….my husband and I have discussed doing this before! Now I’m in serious contemplation mode….

    3. LaterKate*

      Omg I need this setup so bad. My husband hates the smell of coffee, so I’m guessing he would object!

  20. Sled dog mama*

    Found out this week that I have chronic asthma the kind that makes things constrict when it’s really cold outside or you get a minor respiratory infection. So this week has been gloriously fun because I have a cold and that feeling that I can’t move air is because I can’t move as much air. O the up side I now have meds that are making things better and while I sound like I’m dying of pneumonia I’m not dying and the wheezing is almost gone

    1. Sensfan*

      The plus side is that people like us really appreciate breathing! As someone with similar asthma and allergies…make sure you use your puffers as prescribed and stay on top of any colds or other things that make you cough. It’s way easier to deal with asthma complications earlier rather than later. Anytime I get sick I make sure that I am using my puffers and get to the dr if I can’t stop coughing. Early management makes a big difference. Good luck…I hate the “there’s a ten pound weight on my chest and I can’t breathe” feeling and if you can avoid it things are much better!

      1. jamlady*

        Same. I have such a long-winded preventative regimen that my husband is always like “ugh I wish you didn’t have to deal with that”, but I’ve had asthma/psycho allergies my entire life so it’s normal to me. Plus, even when it gets annoying, I remember the times I ended up in the hospital because I didn’t want to deal with it – it’s enough motivation. If I stay on top of things, it’s pretty liveable. Mostly.

    2. anonasaurus*

      I got pea shoots, white russian kale, eggs and maple syrup. I was hoping to get rhubarb as well but missed it.

  21. Myrin*

    Alison, I am delighted, as usual, by your captions. I saw the picture and thought “Oh! An Eve-loaf! Leave-loaf! Heheh I’m so funny.” and then I saw that you did indeed put loaf in the title and I’m loving it!

  22. Lady Jay*

    My town had our first farmers’ market of the year today. I LOVE the farmers’ market & usually purchase most/all my produce there. I especially love the radishes, tomatoes, and asparagus, but today I got eggs, spinach, honey, and rhubarb. And a donut for later. :)

    Do you go to your farmers’ market? What do you like to get there?

    1. Elizabeth*

      Today was our first, too. My haul:
      2 bunches of radishes
      1 bag of lettuce
      1 bunch of fresh garlic
      1 bunch of winter onions
      4 pack of cinnamon rolls

      This summer, I’ll buy a couple flats of blemished tomatoes along with various peppers & herbs and make tomato sauce in the slow cooker.

      1. Lady Jay*

        Several years ago, I discovered that you can freeze tomatoes. I’ve been doing that, then blending them into soups and stews all winter long.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I like to go mostly for the fresh produce and a fresh cup of coffee, but ours also has food and booze vendors! There have been two wineries, one brewery, and one distillery that I can remember lately. Plus crafts, but I don’t use them very often, although someone else in my household has bought a couple of jewelry items. And the homemade pickles were really good, and the gourmet chocolates!

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Oh, I forgot to say which produce — cucumbers & cauliflower are everyday snack foods for me. Maybe red cabbage, red peppers, tomatoes (especially cherry), acorn squash, radishes, honeycrisp apples, and pawpaws, depending on what looks good. The minion and I can go through 10-15 lbs. of apples a week.

    3. Jessesgirl72*

      We missed ours this morning because we wanted to hit a couple garage sales and be back at the house for a Craigslist buyer who bailed literally as we were pulling in the driveway at home. :P No, I’m not bitter.

      This early, I’m only buying maple syrup, honey, flowers, and meat from our favorite small rancher. We used to get eggs- and you have to be there right when they open to get eggs!- but now I have a coworker who sells eggs, and for $1 less.

      I also buy baked goods from the Mennonite baker- this time of year she has rhubarb bread that is so good!

      I have my own tomatoes always, but in the fall we buy blemished apples by the bushel for apple sauce.

    4. Bryce*

      Thanks for posting! I’d forgotten to check when the one by me starts (not till next month, bah). I usually hunt for romano or purple beans, they show up sometimes and non-greenbeans are tough to find in the store. They’ve got this nice meaty flavor, particularly if you get some that have only recently been picked, and it takes me back to my childhood when we had enough space for a garden.

    5. Sylvia*

      Yep! It’s the cheapest and best place to shop in town and it’s open daily year-round. I get whatever’s in season, keeping an eye out for herbs. One time I saw “basil $2 a bag” and thought it would be the same amount of basil that goes for $2 in a grocery store… Nope. They were selling as much basil as they could fit into plastic shopping bags for $2 a bag.

      And I’ll be looking for garlic scapes soon. \o/

      1. Lady Jay*

        I was asking about garlic scapes this morning! We’re supposed to get them in 3-4 weeks, apparently.

    6. Uncivil Engineer*

      I go for the $4 cinnamon roll that is the size of a small cantaloupe.

    7. Parenthetically*

      We get meat pretty often, and awesome breakfast sandwiches and coffee. Apart from that it’s whatever is in season and looks good. Peach, corn, and tomato season is my favorite time of year.

    8. Sled dog mama*

      Yep we love our farmers market, we by most of our meat from a producer we met there (he had built such a following that he now only sells by word of mouth and farm pickup). We buy all our produce except carrots there (nobody around here seems to grow carrots).
      Ours is awesome because we have a winter market too which is mostly meat and greens but we can buy year round!
      My favorite item at my market, bar-none is a cinnamon roll croissant. It’s basically a gooey cinnamon roll but you use a real butter croissant instead of the dough.

    9. Natalie*

      I garden like mad so I don’t buy my daily produce there, but I love it for getting large quantities of something for baking or canning. I can get pecks of mixed baking apples for much cheaper than they would be at the grocery store.

    10. CatCat*

      We like to get fresh veggies there, especially carrots, which just taste better. As a bonus, the carrots come with the greens, which I use to make stock, pesto, or just sautee and eat. Sometimes one of the stands has carrot greens and beet greens that they will just give us (customers had asked them to cut them off and they were just going to be tossed.)

      We get some specialty items there too. The best salsa and sauerkraut can be found at the farmer’s market 2 blocks from where we live :-)

  23. Annie Mouse*

    A few weeks ago, I posted asking for tips on getting a new cat. After going to a couple of shelters, I pick up my little tabby on Friday, I’m so excited :)

    1. Loose Seal*

      Oh congrats! My husband and I have been haunting our local animal shelter for weeks trying to pick out a kitten. Ours is coming home Tuesday after his neuter on Monday.

      Now we need a name….

      1. Merci Dee*

        Don’t be in a rush to name him. I’ve discovered over a couple of decades of cat ownership (being owned by the cat, naturally), that they usually find a way to let you know what their names should be.

        If they don’t present a name to you in a couple of weeks, you can always check out Old Possums Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Elliott for some good suggestions. Rum Tum Tugger, anyone?

        1. dragonzflame*

          T.S Eliot was how our cat came to be named. We were musing over what the hell to call this new cat, I recited ‘The Naming of Cats’ (it’s a difficult matter)…and my husband goes, ‘do you think he’d suit Eliot for a name?’

          He so does. Such serendipity.

        2. nonegiven*

          My kid makes fun of us for saying “they usually find a way to let you know what their name is.”

    2. Your Weird Uncle*

      Congratulations! You’re going to have so much fun with your new kitty. Keep us posted!

  24. periwinkle*

    Let’s talk North American hotel chains! I’ll sometimes stay at an independent property when on personal travel, but all business travel and most personal travel puts me in the chain places. Which ones do you prefer?

    My choices:
    cheap: Red Roof Inn – Either I’ve been very lucky or they work closely with their franchisees on quality and consistency. They’re definitely budget properties but I’ve always experienced spotless rooms and really nice customer service. Second choice is Holiday Inn Express, because the IHG chain has the best in-house coffee.

    nicer: Hilton Garden Inn – If the point of the hotel room is sleeping, I want the most comfy bed and that means Hilton. The drawback is that their beds are very tall, as in waist-height on me (4’10”). I used to literally take a running leap to get into bed; now I pull up the easy chair or ottoman.

    surprise: I hadn’t stayed at a Sheraton in… decades? But a Sheraton was the official hotel for the conference I attended last week and OMG the bed was amazing. I found myself wondering if they would sell it to me. And it turns out that yes, you can buy mattresses and bedding from the Sheraton store website.

    1. nep*

      I’ve not stayed in enough of them to make any comparisons — but a couple years ago I was hugely pleased with a room at a Hyatt House hotel. Service was great and the room was fantastic.
      Also impressed with a room at Staybridge Suites (not sure of affiliation or whether a chain) — really terrific room and affordable.

      1. Dear Liza dear liza*

        I really like Hyatt House, too. I’m also a fan of Hampton Inn, but they’ve gotten a bit pricey in recent years.

      2. fposte*

        And it took me until this thread to realize Hyatt House and Hyatt Place are two different things. Well, good to know!

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I’ve only stayed at a Hilton once–at LAX, for a convention many years ago. I walked into the room and thought, “Wow, this doesn’t look any different from any other hotel I’ve been in. Why is it so much more expensive?” Then I got into bed. OMG THE BED WAS AMAZING. I slept like a baby! Now I know.

      I also booked a suite at the Radisson in Branson a few years ago for the local nerdcon, just to spoil myself. Very nice–I was on the top floor and if you didn’t have a keycard, you couldn’t get up there. Seven million towels and really nice toiletries; I felt like a celebrity :) Though it would have been more fun if I’d had someone with me. I got bored after only ten minutes of soaking in the giant tub with nobody to talk to. I do not understand all the mirrors, either. Why would I want to see every inch of myself at all times? I’m not Kim Kardashian! :P

      But usually, I’m in cheap motels. I can’t afford anything nice most of the time. The last places I stayed were a Howard Johnson’s in Columbia, MO (meh), and the Comfort Inn near my mum’s place, which isn’t too bad except it has the shittiest tiny old-ass elevator ever. The B&B I stayed at in Cardiff was really awesome; I think if I’m going to start looking for those. My sister and her hubs B&B a lot and they love it. I might try some cool hostels too, next time I go abroad. There are some where old folks like me can go and you can also have a private room (still cheaper than a hotel). Could be fun, as well!

      1. tigerStripes*

        For reasonably inexpensive hotels, I tend to like the Comfort Inn family of hotels. They usually provide a continental breakfast, which can be nice.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          They are pretty consistent. I’ve only stayed at one that was sort of meh. But you can almost always count on them being fairly clean, as chain hotels go.

    3. CAA*

      Not cheap unless you get a last-minute deal, but I stay at Kimptons when I can. The rewards program is good, the decor at each one is different and cool, and all the people are just so nice. Also, they have free wine at 5:00 every day and the beachy ones have S’mores you can make at their fire pits.

    4. Turtlewings*

      I’ve always had very good experiences at Best Westerns. Several years ago my whole family stayed in one for weeks during a move, and it came to feel quite homey! More recently, my friends and I go to a sci-fi convention in Atlanta every year, and started staying in a Best Western just a few blocks from the convention. (Or… it used to be a Best Western? Last year it seemed to have left the franchise, it’s now the Peachtree Hotel or something like that, but with absolutely no drop in quality!)

      We had stayed in the actual convention hotels for two or three years — I think we were in the Hyatt and the Hilton at least once each — but they’re incredibly expensive, you can hear convention “party roar” outside your door all night, and there’s a startlingly long and inconvenient wait for an elevator at peak times. (The stairs are not an option on the 43rd floor.) AND they didn’t offer any of the free amenities we get at the ex-Best Western, such as wi-fi, extra cots, microwaves, and continental breakfast! The con hotels had very soft and comfortable beds, but unfortunately that’s really ALL they had going for them.

      1. NeverNicky (formerly TeaLady)*

        Maybe it varies by country but I have found Best Westerns here in the UK to be rather meh … tired decor, food hit and miss, service the same and usually twice the price of the budget chain Premier Inn which are generally up to date (regular refurbs), spotless and with cheerful staff

        1. nonegiven*

          The worst I ever stayed in was a Best Western. Even worse than the Motel 6 where I spotted a Froot Loop under one of the beds.

      2. Casuan*

        One of the worst hotels I’ve ever stayed in was a Best Western…
        One of the best hotels I’ve ever stayed in was a Best Western.

        My requirements are safe, clean & in a good location, which is a relative decision…
        I’m partial to Marriott, although not so much the Marriott Resorts because they don’t suit my me. Fairfield Inn & Springhill Suites are faves. Both have great mattresses.
        Often it does seem like the higher the hotel, the more one pays. Fairfield & Springhill have free wifi & complimentary breakfast yet the resorts don’t do this.

    5. Dan*

      As a rule, it’s actually hard to say, because brand standards seem to be so inconsistent or unidentifiable for many brands. An airport hotel is going to feel so much more blah compared to the city version of the same brand. Country matters too. I’ve stayed at some spectacular Asian hotels that put their US counterparts to shame – all of my memorable chain hotel experiences have been in Asia.

      1. CluelessAboutTheArea*

        Dan, I’ve had the same experience with Asia vs the West. Even Dubai vs the West.

    6. CC*

      On work trips longer than a week, I usually prefer to stay at a Residence Inn. (Marriott.) Mostly because they have a half decent kitchen in the rooms (excellent by hotel standards, minimal but functional by apartment standards) and usually a BBQ outside that people staying there can use. The cooking facilities are important to me because restaurant food and I don’t get along for more than a few days at a time. Trips that are M-F or shorter, it’s not worth buying the grocery “accessories” that make cooking reasonable, like oil/butter and spices, so in those cases I care more about the hotel’s location in relation to work and restaurants.

      I have been known to borrow the BBQ tools from the front desk and make myself dinner outside every day of my stay at a Residence Inn, except the 1-2 days per week they’re cooking stuff on it themselves. Nearly every trip at least one random person staying there would say they had no idea non-staff could use the BBQ. One of the more amusing times was January in southern California, answering the “aren’t you cold” question with “I’m from Canada.”

    7. paul*

      I frigging hate all business hotels. Extra fees for wifi?! Are you joking?! but that’s what work sends me too when I travel a few times a year. Ugh.

      Give me a Hotel 8 or something any day

    8. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      Cheap: La Quinta. They’re not dirt cheap but they have good prices for what they offer – free wifi, pets stay free, cribs for kids on request, some have pools, they do a decent breakfast. And they’re seem to staffed by awfully nice people mostly.

      Not cheap normally unless you grab a weekend deal: Kimpton. Love their boutique-ness.

      Middling: Doubletree mostly for the free cookies. I have no shame, I go by their front desk for cookies constantly.

    9. Ella*

      I love places with a white bedspread, since I feel like maybe they’re cleaner?

      I like the Hampton inn, but one time I got to stay at an Omni for a work event, and it was amazing!

    10. Clever Name*

      My litmus test for what separates a nice hotel from a meh hotel is a real drinking glass for brushing your teeth. The cheap places have plastic cups with plastic wrap. Nice places have real glass.

      As for brands, it’s so hard to keep track of what’s what since the big companies have different brands for different price points. I do like Hampton garden inn. Fairly inexpensive, but you get the real drinking glass and free breakfast. La Quinta is a nope. Best western is a franchise (I’m pretty sure) and the quality varies wildly. I think they’re best for when you’re on vacation and want more local flavor than a branded hotel that looks identical across the country.

      1. Skyline*

        But do they ever really wash the real glasses? As a germaphobe I’d rather have the plastic wrapped plastic cups.

      2. Jessica*

        Ugh, exactly! I have worked in hotel housekeeping, and I would not DREAM of drinking out of a hotel room glass.

  25. Legalchef*

    I opened a new bottle of pre natal vitamins w a 45 day supply this morning, and realized that I won’t finish it before the little guy arrives. Woah.

    Gestational diabetes is still a big pain, my endo was going to put me on nighttime insulin because my fasting number was high 4/7 days one week (but 2 of the days it was only high by 1 point), but in the week it took for the appt to be scheduled my numbers went down again so I avoided insulin (for now!). And I had a growth scan 1 week ago and he was 4 lbs 10 oz, right where he should have been, and is meauring on track to be around 8 lbs. And I learned that not only is he head down, but that the body part he post frequently pokes me with these days is his teeny little tush.

    And one of our friends came over to help my husband get the donatables out of what will be the baby’s room, and there were 2 full car loads! But now that it’s gone we can start really cleaning/prepping/painting the room!!!

    But, I’ve had a particularly awful and painful cough for the past few days that I just can’t seem to shake. If that would just go away I’d feel pretty okay, pregnancy-wise (just large mostly!), but this has kind of knocked me for a loop.

    1. Jessesgirl72*

      We have 12 weeks to go. My husband told me this morning he’s planning to panic when we get to 6. LOL

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          28 today!

          I told him he can panic at 6 weeks, but then has to be done so I can panic the last 4! LOL

          1. MommaCat*

            I just had my second in January, and I didn’t have the energy to freak out towards the end of either pregnancy; I just wanted to be done! Then again, most of my freaking out was during early pregnancy… Congrats, btw!

            1. Jessesgirl72*

              Since we’re having ours via surrogate, I’m left with nothing to do but freak. :D But we both acknowledge that once they hand us the baby, we won’t have the energy to freak out, even though that’s really when there is the most reason to!

              And our general agreement about a lot of things- like sickness or grumpiness- is that we’re best off not doing it at the same time.

    2. dragonzflame*

      I’m 31 weeks today and battling a raging cold, and it sucks. On the plus side, my SIL has just given us the mother load of baby stuff, my MIL gave me a voucher for a massage, we’re on track to have our bathroom reno done before she arrives so her room won’t be full of hardware, and all that will be left is to put things in drawers and assemble a bassinet. And then, I guess, we wait. Eeek!

    3. Thlayli*

      Good luck ladies. I hope you all have wonderful labours and enjoy your babies.

  26. Dear Liza dear liza*

    We’re going to Madrid, Spain later this month, for a week. I’ve done lots of online research but if anyone has personal recommendations for restaurants or activities, please share!

    1. the gold digger*

      You can’t go wrong anywhere! The food is fabulous. If you decide you like serrano ham, eat it while you are there. (And yes, you can tell the difference between the cheaper ham and the way more expensive ham – once you try the good stuff, you will never want to go back.) It is illegal to take it back into the US. If you declare it, it will be confiscated. If you don’t declare it and they find it, you will be fined.


      The person who lost $100 of jamon serrano to Customs in 2006 and is still bitter about it and yes, Customs woman in 2011, I do know what meat is and you don’t need to ask me, after I tell you that no, I do not have any meat with me, if I have sausage because I KNOW WHAT MEAT IS

        1. the gold digger*

          I am laughing! That is a possibility. Plus I have that look – Meat Smuggler.

          I did declare it the time the confiscated it – we didn’t know it was illegal. We begged the Customs guys to at least eat it themselves rather than throwing it in the trash.

          My Spanish co-worker was caught by the beagles. He didn’t know it was illegal and had just forgotten to declare it. He paid a $300 fine. And, of course, lost the jamon.

          1. Anonymouse for this*

            I live in the Middle East – it’s illegal to bring pork into the country and anyone found out runs the risk of being ticketed and marked in the system as a pork smuggler if they do it repeatedly!

            Too much drama to risk it for my liking so I just let Dad cook me bacon sarnies every morning when I’m home for a visit.

            1. Apollo Warbucks*

              I think I’d run the risk of being branded a smuggler, pork is just too good.

              1. Anonymouse for this*

                Must admit I’ve thought about it but Customs are really thorough – every shopping bag is searched, and handbags as well.

                Though I did have an interesting experience with one guy who rummaged through my shopping, pulled out lamb meatballs and started waving them in my face and yelling at me:

                Customs guy – “THIS IS PORK”
                Me – politely “no, it’s lamb”
                Customs guy – “YES IT IS PORK”
                Me – “no, it’s actually lamb”

                As he was making a scene his supervisor wanders over.

                Customs guy – “IT IS PORK”
                Me – channeling my inner Sean the Sheep “no, it’s lamb, BAAAAAAAA, lamb”

                His supervisor couldn’t stop laughing and waved me on my way.

    2. PX*

      I spontaneously went on a weekend trip there and really liked it! Seconding the food, my Spanish friend told me that a traditional breakfast meal is toast with tomatoes and olive oil. Sounded a bit odd to me but I tried it (with ham for added goodness) and I was converted, so if you see it on a menu give it a shot!

      Madrid also introduced me to the joy of ‘free’ walking tours (not really free because donations are expected, but you can pay what you think its worth), and the woman I had was amazing, really knowledgeable about the history of the city and spent lots of time with us. She was local to my hostel, but you can probably google and find some more.

    3. Apollo Warbucks*

      The royal palace
      The bull ring
      reina sofia museum
      Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

    4. Mephyle*

      “Free” walking tours, as PX mentioned: Yes! Highly recommended to do this/these on your first day or near the beginning of the trip, as the guide will introduce you to many interesting places that you can later come back and take more time to visit/eat at/photograph on your own.
      The Parque del Buen Retiro. My favourite parts: the Crystal Palace, which is spectacular in itself, and houses a temporary installation of contemporary art. And the Cecilio Rodríguez Gardens in the southeast corner of the Parque. It’s lovely to visit this corner in the earlyish morning when it’s still cool, and not very many people are there.
      Free evenings at the Prado: 6–8 pm Monday to Saturday, and 5–7 pm on Sunday. I recommend arriving to the line-up about 35 minutes before the free hours open (at least that was the best strategy in July – it may be different in May). After several visits, I’ve nearly seen the whole museum, without getting tired out as I would have if I had done it all in a single day-long visit.
      Restaurants are great everywhere, but two specific places I know of near downtown that are particularly dense in restaurants are: Calle Cava Baja and nearby streets, and Plaza Santa Ana. Both of these are a shortish walking distance south of the Plaza del Sol, in different directions.
      The ubiquitous Corte Inglés has a supermarket in the basement. The bigger ones even have two floors of supermarket.

    5. Thursday Next*

      I’ve been to Madrid a few times, I think its my favorite Spanish city.
      I remember liking a restaurant called La Finca de Susana, good and at least 5 years ago it was a nice restaurant but suitable for a student budget. Many restaurants have a generic lunch menu special “Menú del día” which is a fixed course meal (2 courses, bread, dessert and drinks) that’s not just a tourist scam (I lived in a small town in Spain and restaurants there had it) and usually 15-20 euro (5 years ago). If you’re hungry for lunch it’s usually worth it.
      The Prado (old art, El Greco, Bosch, Velázquez etc) and Reina Sofia (modern art – Dali, Picasso, Miro etc) are wonderful and free the last 2 hours of each day. The palace is really interesting, and definitely worth seeing.
      El rastro (Sunday morning flea market is fun, I bought a red leather jacket there for like 15 euro 7 years ago and its still my favorite jacket).
      If you’re going to be in Madrid for a week that’s definitely enough time to do some day trips to surrounding cities. Toledo is less than an hour away by train and has an El Greco museum (that’s where he worked) and a beautfiul cathedral, among other sites. Segovia is another day trip, the main attraction is the castle but there are also some cool Roman aqueducts on the edge of the town.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        There is a chain of shops/restaurants called Museo del Jamon for all your Spanish pork needs. My daily lunch was eating one of their ham cobs with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. There is also a place for fresh churros and chocolate, San Gines which is worth a visit.

        For museums, the Prado is interesting and the Reina Sofia is worth it for the building alone. I think there are some combination tickets available.

    6. Ella*

      There’s a park where you can rent rowboats- that was a lot of fun!

      Seconding the serano/iberico ham recommendation. You can get it sliced really thinly. They also had great manchego cheese. Churros con chocolate were amazing at valor. It’s a chain, and you can dip the churros in a really thick rich mug of chocolate.

      I also had so much tasty red wine there.

    7. The Unkind Raven*

      Absolutely the Prado and the Reina Sofia museums. Guernica is at the Reina Sofia. You’ll never stop thinking about it.

  27. licoricepencil*

    Hi all! I’m hoping for some advice.

    I’m a young professional looking to get my first cat! I’ve had cats all throughout childhood, and I’m finally moving into a place that allows pets. I’d love to have a little floof to come home to and love.
    The only issue is that I can and do work fairly long hours during the week. Does anyone have any suggestions for timed feeders or other things that can help kitty when I can’t get back until after 9 pm (this happens at least 2x/week)? I do have a roommate who also wants to get a cat, so kitty would have another kitty friend to play with.


    1. TootsNYC*

      some cats do OK w/ you just leaving dry food for them, so they can self-feed.
      If you get a cat (like mine) who will get fat on that scheme, you could leave extra dry food out only on those days.
      We tend to feed our cat when we get up in the morning and either at dinner or shortly before bed (sometimes there’s still food in the bowl from earlier), so feeding at 7:30 and 10pm isn’t a big problem.
      I suppose if your cat was hungry and got fed when you came in the door late, it might make the kitty love you more. ;)

      A roommate can feed a cat too.

      And if you search on “automatic feeder,” you might find something like the $20 PetSafe Eatwell 2-Meal Timed Pet Feeder.

      1. licoricepencil*

        Thanks! My family has always had our cats do self-feeding, but I also like the suggestion of checking at 7:30/10. And yes, my roommate can definitely feed a cat. Just can’t wait!

      2. Jessesgirl72*

        I’ve either had self-feeders, or I feed the cat before bedtime anyway.

        When you feed the cat in the mornings is how you get a cat in your face at 6AM on a Sunday. ;) Ours have dry food out all the time, and get wet food before bed (as a vector for their L-Lysine, since the younger cat has feline herpes) The rubbing and purring and complaining starts about 9:30-10pm. Which is better than 5:30am (although the younger one does come running when she hears the alarm, to complain at me. )

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      I sometimes don’t get back until this time and it’s fine – my cat doesn’t seem to mind.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Or rather he always tells me off when I come home, but it doesn’t vary by time…

          We leave dry food out as well.

    3. Your Weird Uncle*

      I swear by puzzle feeders. We have a few, but the one I use most is the tower puzzle feeder by Catit Senses. You have to start off with treats and make it super easy, but once they get the hang of it they’ll be just fine with normal food. I use it so my little piglet Vern won’t chomp all his food down and barf it right back up.

  28. AlaskaKT*

    It’s officially summer here in Alaska! I’m so excited to be able to drive the beach again (even though it ate a car) and search for Spirit Stones (fairy stones/mineral concretions that are about 2 lbs). This type of stone “grows” this way over thousands of years and are only found here, on our little stretch of beach, and no where else in the world! It makes me curious, is there anything by where you AAMers live that is only found there?

    1. fposte*

      Not that I can think of, but I loved reading your blog. Sometimes I see people who decide to be homesteaders and they are just reality-show inexperienced and naïve about the hardship and efforts, but you guys know your stuff and work your buns off.

      1. AlaskaKT*

        Thanks! I really try to give an un-romanticized view of homesteading, especially compared to reality TV. Most people don’t realize 90% of it is fake/scripted. You have people like the Brown’s (Alaskan Bush People) who livery in town and are only on the homestead to film, and people think they live there year round! (It only took them 5 seasons to get a cow, and they don’t even have chickens!). If you like the homesteading genre, Alaska: The Last Frontier is about a family that homesteads on the other side of the Peninsula from us. It’s pretty accurate to what we deal with daily, minus the years of collected stuff and cows.

    2. Sled dog mama*

      not where I live now but the area where I grew up is where the Venus Fly trap is native .

      1. AlaskaKT*

        Whoa! Okay, kinda dumb but I’ve never actually thought about those as being ‘from’ somewhere. They are so alien and cool! I’ve never been able to keep one alive unfortunately.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Hmm… I can’t really think of anything. Dogwoods are Missouri’s state tree and I don’t really notice them anywhere else, but I don’t know if they are limited to only here.

      1. AlaskaKT*

        I’ve seen dogwoods in WA, but I’m not sure if they a native to that area. I know there is a really cool dogwood called a Magic Dogwood from Mexico. It’s got amazing flowers on it!

      2. Jessesgirl72*

        They are not limited to MO.

        Although, I am not having any luck getting one to last a winter in WI, despite them being good to below my zone and their being lots of dogwoods in the area. :P

        Dogwoods are all over.

      3. Mallory Janis Ian*

        We have white and pink dogwoods that are native here in the Arkansas Ozarks.

    4. Red*

      I live just outside Niagara Falls, so there’s that :) Otherwise, I think that’s about it lol.

      1. Sami*

        I love Niagara Falls! My parents went on their honeymoon there. I live in Michigan, just over the border from Sarnia.

    5. bassclefchick*

      I’m from Wisconsin. Fresh, Wisconsin cheese curds. I’ve never had any anywhere else that does them right. They, absolutely, positively, MUST (if I knew how to underline and bold that, I would) SQUEAK!!!! If you’ve never had our cheese curds, it’s really hard to explain how or why cheese squeaks, but if you HAVE, then you know! LOL

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        I had some just tonight. :D

        You can get curds elsewhere now- they are becoming mainstream at places like Dairy Queen!- but they are definitely best fresh, and it’s the fresh ones that squeak.

          1. Jessesgirl72*

            Since Culver’s is WI based, I figure they are getting them fresh, even in Arizona. But I will say, even here, Culver’s is not my favorite place to get them.

      2. Miranda*

        And now I miss cheese curds again. I lived right on the border between WI and MI growing up, extra fresh squeaky cheese curds are the best. Haven’t found anywhere close to that yet now I’m in NY.

      3. FDCA In Canada*

        I love cheese curds. I used to live in an area with a ton of local dairies and cheese producers, and they usually had a little basket of packets of cheese curds on the counter at nearby gas stations. We used to always get a bag for snacking on the road! And they’d always be heavily discounted the day after….when they lost their squeak.

      4. FullTimeLurker*

        Tillamook cheese in Oregon sells cheese curds, they call it squeeky cheese.

    6. rubyrose*

      Not from where I live now (Colorado), but where I’m originally from, Kansas…..German rope sausage. Not just any rope sausage, though. This is from a butcher named Stroot Lockers, in the Wichita/Sedgwick county area (Mulvane, Goddard). The sausage is a beef/pork mix and I’m guessing that they are using a seasoning recipe that the family brought over from Germany. It is like nothing I’ve tasted anywhere else and I’ve actively looked for it here. They don’t ship, so when I go back to visit I take a cooler with me and drive it back to Colorado. You can also get it at the butcher store on the west side of Kingman, for anyone who is interested.

      1. You Can't Read My Mind*

        I live in the Florida Keys and there’s one island here that’s home to a species of deer called Key Deer. They’re basically little mini white tail deer that are so adorable that I just want to pick them up and take them home (but don’t worry, I don’t). Apparently they like to swim between islands and annoy the locals by eating everything in their yards.

    7. No, please*

      Virginia also has fairy stones. They are small stones that come out of the ground on one mountain. They are shaped like crosses.

    8. Merci Dee*

      In Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina, we have a type of spiderlily called the Cahaba Lily. Beautiful flowers – they only grow in fast-moving, rocky water. Link attached below.

    9. Headachey*

      Trenary Toast – from a bakery in the tiny village of Trenary (rhymes with canary) in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It’s twice-baked cinnamon toast, extra hard and meant for dunking in your coffee. It comes in a brown paper bag and survives shipping across the country surprisingly well :)

  29. Jessesgirl72*

    We are trying to sell our travel trailer and listed it on Craigslist last night.

    3 people were supposed to be here around 11:30am to see it. One backed out and emailed just as we were rushing home to clean it out (had 2 contractors and a Realtor come last night, so no time then) from morning errands. The other decided he can’t make it this morning, “maybe this evening or tomorrow morning” To which we said, no to tomorrow morning, and we’ll let him know about this evening. The third emailed at 12:15 to say he was running late and would be here “in an hour or two!” I told that one he had an hour, or we wouldn’t be here. Then he’ll probably try to talk me down to half what we’re asking, which is already half of what the guides say it’s worth! :P

    Craigslist buyers are the worst!

    1. Aphrodite*

      I think you are lucky they contacted you; most don’t even do that.

      As far as price, what I have always done is to decide on the least amount of money I am willing to take for the item. (I’ve never sold a car–my last one was old enough to qualify for the city’s buyback program–but I have sold larger items such as furniture and multiple smaller items.) Then I list that amount and note “Price is firm” in the ad.

      Since my goal is get rid of the item as soon as I can rather than get the most I can I am quite strict with myself about pricing it to go. But when I do I am firm. I will try at most two ads no more than two weeks apart and if it doesn’t sell then it goes to the thrift store. My time and energy (and my desire to be rid of it) are more valuable than any money.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        Oh, I know. The one had gone back and forth with me asking questions about 10 times, though, so I was particularly annoyed that he backed out last minute. He said he’d talked it over with his wife and “he” decided not to go further. ;) My husband would have talked to me well before setting a time!

        And I listed what the guides say its worth, and said that I would ignore all lowball offers. So far, we haven’t had any, so that’s an improvement. The guy did come look, and is coming back with his wife. So we’ll see.

        1. OhBehave*

          I have had the best results with our local Facebook sale group. Craigslist is horrible for scammers.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Remember, just like with buying, patience is your best bargaining tool. If you can walk away from a sale or an offer, you are in the best negotiating position. Of course, you can’t always do that, but the two cars I’ve sold, I’ve posted them for something near or a little below the blue book value, and they were both low mileage cars in like-new condition, so I was in a good bargaining position. If you can afford to do that, don’t be afraid to stop responding if they start “negging”, like asking “why so much???” or “do you really think it’s worth $X?”

      As for buyers, I got lucky the first time, and the first actual person to respond to my ad (as in, who didn’t drop off the face of the earth when I questioned their scammy inquiry) used a .gov email from the same OPDIV that I work for, so I actually took a personal check that time. But I think I used a classified ad that time. More recently, it took me a while, and it was really starting to drag on me. I put an ad on Craigslist, but it was a local bulletin board (or maybe NextDoor, I forget) that got the inquiry that resulted in a sale. I recognized the name/email from a local listserv, but I’m not sure where exactly they found my ad, I had a few posted. And that time, I got talked down $600 but it was still almost $2,500 above my lowest acceptable price.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        The guy who just left drove 2 hours from Chicago to offer us $500- “because it needs some repairs” Yes, and that’s why it’s listed for $3000, not the $5000 it would get if it didn’t need repairs, and which I spelled out in the Ad! Then he tried to guilt us because he drove all that way. That is the chance you took, buddy- you apparently missed the part in the Ad about not accepting lowball offers.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          From the line of BS they fed you about the value of the vehicle, I’d seriously be surprised if they drove that far. Then again, maybe that’s their business model — spend a lot on gas to try and lowball some sucker. I’m glad you saw right through it!

        2. Clever Name*

          Them: but I drove all this way to lowball you.
          You: That is a shame, isn’t it?

    3. Clever Name*

      My general rule for selling on Craigslist is if the first response is trying to bargain me down already, I wait to respond to them until I’ve heard from other people. I’m normally able to sell to folks at my asking price. It’s always nice to email back to the “will you take $10 for your dining set” guy that sorry, it’s no longer available.

    4. Jessesgirl72*

      3 more people interested this evening (one this morning, but then he realized AFTER we sent the picture he wanted and the address, that the listing said it didn’t have AC) One insisted that he didn’t want to wait to come tomorrow afternoon, but wanted to see it RIGHT NOW. Until I said okay, as long as you have cash in hand.

      Radio silence.

      Are there people who are really that stupid who would take something other than cash?

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Hey now, like I said, I’ve taken cashier’s checks and even personal checks, but I live in a huge suburb of a major metropolitan area, so it’s not hard for me to find a seller that lives close by and with whom I have some sort of extended community connection. I think I took a phone pic of their ID once.

        In fact, I’d be reluctant to pay cash, although I suppose knowing where the seller lived and having a bill of sale might convince me to do so. I’m not sure how I’d get that much cash, as my credit union doesn’t have local branches, so I’m limited to $600 per day in cash withdrawals. (I think that’s the highest ATM limit I’ve seen.) But then, it’s never really come up; I suppose if I was looking at used cars on Craigslist, I’d figure something out — maybe cash a check to myself?

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          I’d take a cashier’s check, but he wasn’t going to get one of those at 7:30pm or on a Sunday, either.

          And Milwaukee is too close to Chicago, so we’re getting hits from there- which is fair enough, since we originally bought it off Craigslist from one of the Chicago suburbs. And we were expected to pay cash.

          Since it comes with a Title, and there is no warranty- anything you’re buying off Craigslist is As-Is, paying by personal check isn’t going to help you anyway if something is wrong. The way we’ve handled similar large purchases, since no one wants to carry that much cash- is to go to the bank with the seller or buyer after looking at it. That is a problem with someplace without a local branch, I admit- and I know since we use Ally for Savings, that even transferring to another account takes a couple days. The problem is personal checks and money orders and the like are too easy to scam.

  30. Katie the Fed*

    OK, a bit of friendship advice please?

    I have a friend of about 7 years, who has quite frankly been kind of a crap friend for the last year or so. I understood – she was going through a divorce and a series of rebound relationships that didn’t end well, but I’ve found I don’t enjoy spending time with her as much. But we still do. I figured she was just going through a really bad patch and I should be patience. Plus I don’t have a ton of friends and it’s nice to have someone to do stuff with, but I do think she makes subtle little digs about my personality that leave me feeling self conscious and I don’t care for it.

    The other thing – for the last two years whenever I was out sick from work, or had a headache, or any number of things, she would always ask if I was pregnant. It genuinely annoyed me, especially as my husband and I started trying and weren’t successful. I finally, VERY firmly, got her to stop it.

    So a couple weeks ago she said something to me to the effect of “if I found out you were pregnant, I probably wouldn’t be able to talk to you for a while because I just want a baby so bad.” Now, keep in mind we have been trying unsuccessfully for a year.

    Then two weeks later, I found out I was expecting and I’m so excited, and I remembered what a horrible, crappy thing she said to me. So I can’t even share this news quietly with someone who has generally been a pretty close friend. And it’s just irking me to no end. Who says that?

    Am I justified in letting this friendship wither?

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      I’m so sorry you’re having to worry about sharing your news. You don’t have any obligation whatsoever to keep being friends with this person, or rather being drained by her – and she does sound like a drain and not a radiator. And it’s all about her, which isn’t a friendship. Sure, sometimes there’s more give than get on one side or the other in any friendship, but when it’s all one way, and the person makes you feel crappy, it’s not worth it.

      I found giving up on toxic friendships gave me much more emotional space to find better ones, so while it might feel scary cutting down your network now, it can’t feel worse than being around her?

      Oh, and congratulations on your lovely news. It’s okay not to waste your time on people who won’t share in your excitement.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Thank you! I was thinking it might be time to Marie Kondo my personal life. Does this person bring me joy? No? Then out with you. It’s a good time of my life to start cleaning house.

        I’ve been really patient with her while she was struggling with divorce and the aftermath, but at some point she needs to stop being crappy.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          I forgot I congratulated you last week but hell, it was worth saying twice.

          I think becoming a parent is an excellent time to Kondo your personal life.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            Thank you! I was so overwhelmed last week I didn’t get a chance to thank everyone who had such nice things to say.

        2. TootsNYC*

          I think that’s perfectly appropriate.

          All of life is one big behavioral-psychology experiment, I sometimes think.
          So, she’s not particularly pleasant, so she should get the appropriate end result, so she has some data to use in her own experiment.

          And Ramona is right, below: becoming a parent is an excellent time to Kondo your personal life.

          I had a particularly needy friend, and once my daughter was born, I realized I never wanted my child to meet her–it felt besmirching somehow. And I realized that was a sign.

          I just faded out. I didn’t have a big “shape up!” convo (she didn’t do anything wrong, and she wasn’t really a horrible person, but she wasn’t healthy, emotionally; I just didn’t want her around my baby).

          So I just took longer to call her back, told her I couldn’t stay on the phone long, etc.

          I was glad I didn’t make a big statement, because later she was the one who alerted me to the impending death (illness) of a mutual friend.

        3. Casuan*

          Katie, Ramona is spot on. I loved her drain/radiator comment!

          You deserve friends with whom you want to share the good & the bad & have the expectation that even if they don’t share your perspective they won’t deride, dismiss or otherwise put you down.
          The litmus is that if you’re dreading sharing anything then the relationship might not be one to keep…

          And it’s one thing to not tell a friend something because it might hurt them to hear it, although pregnancy is one of those things that’s difficult to hide.

          Congratulations on your joyful news!!

    2. Anonyby*

      She’s making you feel crappy, and there’s no end in sight. Time for this friendship to fade! You deserve friends that lift you up, especially when you have exciting news!

    3. Hrovitnir*

      Honestly, I don’t think anyone needs any justification. If you don’t enjoy spending time with them, you are more than entitled to stop spending time with them! You’ve given it plenty of time to be sure.

      Also for validation: that was a horrible thing to say. Dependent on context I can imagine that being something someone shared in a sharing-their-pain kind of a way, but with the context you’ve given here it just reads utterly selfish and lacking any support for what you are going through.

      Also: congratulations! Hopefully all goes well from here on out. :)

    4. Jessesgirl72*

      Of course, but the only justification you need is that you don’t want to be friends with her anymore. :) There is no grading system where you’re stuck with her or get judged if you don’t have a reason that is “good enough” to end the friendship quietly.

    5. Sybil Fawlty*

      Oh my goodness, yes! Keep your wonderful news for people who will be happy for you, not people who will use it to hurt you!

      And congratulations!

    6. Anonymouse for this*

      Congratulations on your wonderful news.

      At the risk of sounding like a cliche – I think some friends come into your life at certain times and for certain reasons. I think she’s told you in her own words where the friendship will stand now that you’re pregnant. I hope she’ll surprise you, in a good way, when you tell her your news. And if she asks why you haven’t said anything sooner you can quote her words back to her – it might shock her into seeing how she’s behaving.

    7. Myrin*

      Fully agreed with Jessesgirl above me.

      And really, who says that?! The pregnancy thing is so weirdly over the top that I can only say good riddance, but I do have to say that the “subtle little digs about [your] personality” is the absolute WORST, oh my god! I had two “friends” like that (long in the past now, thankfully) and looking back, I’m simply in a continuous state of being astounded. Like, who thinks it’s actually okay to hurl these critical jabs at people they call their friends? And why do they think they can get away with it? Because they can, probably. Yikes. I think if something like that happened to me today my eyes would bug out of my head and I wouldn’t be able to say exactly that. My goodness, it’s the worst!

      1. Katie the Fed*

        It’s funny, because she’ll point out how easily I get stressed or anxious. But I’ve started realizing that I’m more stressed/anxious around her, so…. yeah.

        I know she really wants to be married and have a family, but come on. I didn’t get married until I was 34 and two years later I’m pregnant. That’s hardly getting ahead of anyone.

        1. MommaCat*

          I’ll nth everyone else saying you seem to need less of her in your life, but add that it doesn’t have to be drastic. Now seems like a great time to be busy at work. After a while, you can give her another chance to see if she’s changed. This just makes me think of one former friend of mine, who I was already starting to back off from when I got pregnant the first time. We were talking on the phone, and when I told them what I was going to name the baby, they said, “Oh, you can do better than [city name], [state]!” Because apparently a they didn’t like a city that has the same name as my kid. I pretty icily replied that we were naming kid after family, and the conversation went on from there, but we haven’t talked since. We’re still Facebook friends, though. I just stopped initiating any contact, and it worked out. They are kind of an energy vampire, and I don’t have the energy to spare anymore.

          1. Jessesgirl72*

            And that type of conversation is why no one knows what we plan to name our baby! Even though our mothers are annoyed by it.

        2. ..Kat..*

          It isn’t just that her life is not going as well as she would like. It’s that she does not want you to be happy, have good things in your life. I treat complete strangers better than this.

          Congratulations! And best wishes for you, Hubby the Fed, and Baby the Fed! May strangers keep their hands off your belly and may you have terrific health care coverage and fabulous maternity benefits!

    8. HannahS*

      First off, congrats on the baby! It doesn’t sound like she’s really been bringing anything positive to you. Just because there are mitigating circumstances for someone being jerkish doesn’t mean you have to be fine with it. Like, I can forgive someone for being awful to me if they’re miserable, but it doesn’t change the fact that I’m not willing to spend time with them. I’ve drawn away from people in multi-year rough patches (and were exhausting to be around), but then gotten closer once they had more bandwidth to be a better friend. So whether withdrawing winds up being temporary or permanent is fine, and it sounds like what you want right now.

      I think the only thing to remember is that she is definitely going to find out that you’re pregnant, one way or another. If you tell her, she might make it all about herself, but you could probably still do a quiet friendship-fade. If you don’t tell her, it’s a very clear “We’re not friends anymore,” especially since by the time you would, it might be weeks after a comment that she might not remember/think was important. So I guess it depends on how you want to manage the dissolution.

        1. Cristina in England*

          We didn’t tell any friends or family at all until 12/13 weeks and no one’s nose was out of joint (my mother would have wanted me to wait even longer, because the earlier I tell her, the longer she has to wait to meet the baby after knowing!)

          If she will get upset that you didn’t tell her “early” then she is just confirming your feelings about distancing from her.

    9. Overeducated*

      I think it’s fine to pull back. I am not a fan of deciding to cut off friendships in most circumstances, it seems needlessly harsh and final to me; just because someone isn’t right for you now now doesn’t mean you have to close the door to possibilities later. But I think spending less time together and not making an effort to get in touch with someone who’s not being good to/for you is normal, and it doesn’t have to be a dramatic thing, just a quiet retreat to the relationships that are giving you that support. Friendships can ebb and flow, this sounds like an ebb.

      And of course, congratulations! Such happy news for you!

    10. Elizabeth West*

      You are justified. Totally. That bit about making digs at you–not much of a friend, IMO, regardless of what she’s going through.

      I’ve been having a difficult time with this myself. I usually say, “Congratulations! Me next, tee hee!” It hasn’t been easy, especially since my ex just had a baby with the person after me (GROAN). But I would never say what she said to one of my friends. That’s just mean. Anyway, if she stops talking to you, that will take care of it–she self-selected out. You can relegate her to acquaintance status and just let things go.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      I think a huge chunk of the problem here is that you two are going down different paths in life. I remember noticing years ago that singles TEND to hang with singles, couples without kids tend to hang with other couples without kids and so on.
      I think part of that is because of viewing life from a similar standpoint. Another part is that each group has a set of needs/concerns that other members of the same group can quickly grasp and/or relate to.

      You both have been through a lot of changes in a very short time. My suggestion is to tell her to her face. “I need to tell you something. We are going to have a child. I remember what you said earlier and I understand if you need to take a step back. That is okay, if that is what you need. I will always think of you as my friend.”

      This is a preemptive strike. You know what her intents are, drag it out into the light of day.
      This leaves the door open for a regrouping in years (decades) to come.
      It does NOT feed her drama. It’s a very anti-drama move.
      You have some control over the conversation because you have initiated this discussion.

    12. SeekingBetter*

      This just totally reminds me of my ex-friend who I thought was a real friend, but turned out it was more about my ex-friend’s needs rather than her trying to meet me equally. About three weeks ago, I decided to call the friendship quits. It might be hard to do, but when you are feeling that she is doing things to make you feel bad about yourself, it generally isn’t a good thing for your emotional well-being. I understand it’s kind of hard for you to let your friendship wither with this person, but sometimes it is for the best.

    13. LCL*

      I think you want to let this friendship fade away because of the subtle digs at your personality. And have been wanting to. The remark you quote doesn’t strike me as awful, just sad. If you want let this fade, do so for your peace of mind. And, congratulations!

    14. Nic*

      Oh Katie, that’s rough.

      Even without the pregnancy comments, I think I’d be tempted to let this one wither. Or as Captain Awkward calls it, give her an African violet. Spending time with a friend shouldn’t leave you feeling self conscious, even when they’re going through a bad time.

      I’m so sorry to hear that you’re going through that. If you wanted to put in the effort to try to save it (it doesn’t sound like you do, and I’m not sure I’d want to in that situation either) you could probably sit down with her and give examples of what she’s been doing and how it is hurting you, and ask that she stop doing so. Then any time she does it again end the conversation or the visit. That takes a lot of energy, though.

      I wish you the best, and CONGRATULATIONS on the little one!!!

    15. Melody Pond*

      Oh my goodness. I’m kind of blown away by that one comment – “if I found out you were pregnant I probably wouldn’t be able to talk to you for a while because I just want a baby so bad.”

      Yeah, if I were in your shoes, I think I’d be letting this friendship go/wither, in whatever way feels most natural to you – or at least, pushing it way back so that it becomes barely a friendly acquaintance. This really doesn’t seem like a relationship that is meeting enough of your needs to justify staying in your life.

      Congratulations on being pregnant!

    16. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      My flippant answer to “who says that?” Is: someone telling you it’s time to fade them out.

      My real answer is that it sounds like it’s a good time to fade her out. She literally told you that she wouldn’t be a good friend if you were happy because it would somehow infringe on her happiness. Seems like a good enough reason to take her at her word. I feel your discomfort with this, if I’m reading right. I’ll relay a similar ish story: a long time friend had been more and more self centered in our friendship. I was called if and only if she had a crisis or was in town. She ignored the fact that I have chronic pain and fatigue and would repeatedly suggest activities for getting together that would nearly kill me. Finally, when I said I had news or plans, she immediately jumped to “are you pregnant???!”

      And that was my breaking point. Not that she erroneously and baselessly guessed pregnancy for who knows what reason, but that she hadn’t been listening to anything I’d been saying for years, that with my health, I hadn’t yet decided if I could even make the attempt for kids. This was a tender spot for me and she just showed for the last time that she had some soundtrack in her head that played over me every time I opened my mouth about Not Her.

      I still feel pangs of regret about three years after stepping back from that friendship and letting it wither. But it was the right thing to do because she sapped a considerable amount of my energy and rarely ever sent any back my way. She wasn’t a bad person, she just wasn’t a good fit for me any longer. She needed someone to be crisis counselor and road tripping adventures buddy but not a real friend and she didn’t recognize I couldn’t play that role for her, even long before choosing to pursue motherhood.

      So it makes sense to me that you may not be eager to cut that cord, but that you may also feel like it’s time. I was conflicted. But it was the right thing to do. The only people I keep close are the ones who understand and practice give and take in the long term.

    17. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      I forgot the most important part: I think the mark of a real friendship is if you can feel genuinely happy for or sad for your friends in their times of joy or grief without it being contingent on you also having that same joy or grief first. I think I see that quality in all of my friends.

      And congratulations again!!

    18. Jubilance*

      Totally justified – she doesn’t sound like a good friend.

      And congratulations! That’s wonderful news. I hope you have a good pregnancy.

    19. No Name Yet*

      First, congratulations!

      Second, I think that we’re always allowed to let friendships whither, and particularly so when they have been emotionally draining and the other person doesn’t seem to have insight or interest in changing that. Obviously we all have times when we need more than we can give, but that’s not typically what we permanently want in healthy relationships.

      And for what it’s worth as a point of reference, when I started trying to get pregnant, my best friend had been trying for a year, and had had two miscarriages during that time. And she went out of her way to tell me she was so excited we were trying, and that if I got pregnant first I should completely feel comfortable telling her and she would be 100% delighted for me. Of course it wouldn’t have been easy, but it was important to her that I wouldn’t feel I couldn’t share that with her.

  31. super anon*

    tips for sleeping in hotels? i’ve been traveling a lot for that which we don’t name on the weekend, and i always end up completely exhausted due to my inability to sleep. i’m home for this weekend and then heading out again on monday, and the thought of another significant stretch of days without good sleep is bumming me out.

    i don’t sleep well without my home’s ambient noise (hotel rooms are either too silent, or they have an obnoxiously loud air conditioner or people in the halls), a bit of light, and the comfort of having another warm body beside me, and i can’t really think of a good way to incorporate any of those things in a solo hotel situation.

    1. Becca*

      Ugh, that stinks. I’m sorry that it’s difficult to sleep away from home.

      If you have a smartphone, you could record the ambient noise of your home at night to play off your phone at a hotel, or use other ambient noise from a website or app. You could try getting a gentle nightlight that you could plug in that will provide a little light. I’ve sometimes left the bathroom light on with the door open a crack. For the warm body… a hot water bottle? It’s far from ideal, but without water, they’re easy to pack and hot water from a bathroom tap is plenty for getting them beyond body temperature.

      Good luck :) Hope you can get some sleep this week!

    2. Parenthetically*

      White noise app on your phone! It’s a life saver. Mine’s got tons of options from rainstorms to airplane noise (!!! don’t know why, least restful ever).

      I also unabashedly ask for a zillion pillows and generally treat it like a special occasion and do all the stuff I don’t ordinarily do. Eat dinner (or dessert) in bed, order a half-bottle of wine from room service, watch trashy tv, take a long bath. Oh that’s a thought — bring epsom salts with you and put that in your bath! Magnesium is like a light switch for me.

    3. Katie the Fed*

      Hmm. I actually sleep far better in hotels than at home :)

      Have you tried melatonin to help? I also know there are travel white noise machines you can bring that might help with the noise. For the light, maybe travel with a night light?

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      The worst part for me is usually the pillows. What about taking your pillow? I’ve seen some air passengers carrying them to sleep on the plane, so it doesn’t necessarily have to fit in your suitcase, although pillows tend to compress a lot. And we picked up a noise machine for a few bucks at a yard sale when the minion was a baby, so something like that might help, although an MP3 you can loop on your phone might be easier, kind of like Becca suggested.

    5. Bry*

      Get a white noise app or machine and use it at home till you are used to it then use it at hotels to create the same sounds you associate with sleep at home.

    6. Anonymouse for this*

      I tend to sleep better away from home thanks to no kitkat romping through the place.

      When I’m in a hotel room I turn the bedroom lights off but leave the bathroom light on, with the door just open a tiny bit. And I use earplugs or if I forget them then tissue in my ears to block the ambient noise. And a Radox bubblebath helps me relax and get ready to sleep.

    7. TootsNYC*

      Maybe get a white-noise machine to use at home, so *it* becomes “your noise,” and then take it with you?
      My mom always took her own pillow. And you could try taking a body pillow with you, for the “warm body beside me” problem.

      Bring a nightlight, or maybe an electric candle (the pillar kind, maybe? for a glow that’s not too bright).

      You can also ask always about getting a room on the a high floor far from the elevator, so there are less likely to be people walking past in the halls.

      1. TootsNYC*

        And in the same vein as training yourself at home to create a portable white noise, maybe work at home to create a bedtime routine, the way we do with babies.
        So you have an “I’m at home” bedtime routine that will be something you can tap into in a hotel.

    8. Anono-me*

      Could you record the night sounds of your house and then play it in your hotel? And extra pillows help the bed feel less empty.

    9. Jules the First*

      I travel with a citrusy scent that I spritz liberally on the pillows and blanket (near my face) so that the bed smells familiar, which helps. In the winter, I sometimes pack a hot water bottle which will either keep my feet warm or give me something warm to snuggle. A couple of big binder clips will sort out any gaps in the curtains, and a small roll of washi tape (or painter’s tape) is perfect for dimming that annoying red light that is somehow always in your eyeline from the bed.

      I will also either pop my iPod into the hotel room stereo or sleep with my earbuds in so I can listen to some favourite tunes while I fall asleep. And if all else fails, I pop a benadryl.

    10. Sybil Fawlty*

      I use earplugs in hotel rooms. I also had a small sound machine that I used to take. Nyquil works for me too. Hope you get some good sleep soon!

    11. periwinkle*

      Echoing the recommendation for a white noise app. We have an old iPad stuck to the wall (3M Command hooks have so many uses!) dedicated to running a noise app called SleepStream; I prefer rain or waterfall sounds while my husband favors ocean waves, so we rotate through the different options. I have the same app on my iPhone so I have a familiar set of noise options while on the road. That consistency of noise really helps!

    12. Merci Dee*

      White noise apps/machines really do a great job at helping to get to sleep. I’ve used one for years, set on summer rain. Only draw-back is this – when it starts to rain at work, I start getting reaaaalllllly sleepy! Thanks, Pavlovian response!

    13. OhBehave*

      If I am driving to my destination, I will bring my pillow.
      I also bring a plug-in night light sometimes. As someone suggested, using a white noise app. You may have to experiment with a few to get the right one.
      I hate the dryness of hotels so I drape a wet hand towel or wash cloth over the AC. It helps humidify the air.
      The minute you get in the room, call for more pillows. If they are out or never show, use a chair cushion or the comforter rolled up.
      Try a hot shower before bed. It helps relax you.
      I really hope some of the tips shared in the comments will help you sleep this week. I know it’s hard to sleep away from home.

  32. Anono-me*

    Cell phone etiquette question.

    Is it rude to talk on other people’s cellphones​ if they offer it to you? How much of a role do social gender stereotypes​ play?

    Recently, I forget my cellphone and so when I ran into a friend, I asked the friend to pass along a message to someone I knew that friend would see later. Our friend responded with ‘That’s who(m) I am talking to now. Here, you do it.’ and handed me the cell phone. Later the person, said I shouldn’t be using other people’s cellphones.

    I have always felt fine etiquette wise using a spontaneously offered phone. I do think asking to use someone else’s phone, is based on a combination of how close you are and the urgency of the call. (Mom may I use your phone to see when the movie starts? Vs. Stranger may I use your phone to call a tow?)

    Thank you.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      It would never have occurred to me that there would be rules about this.

    2. Hrovitnir*

      OK, that is super weird. I’m not great at etiquette that gets beyond basic respect for people’s personal space, belongings and preferences (if that makes any sense), but in my experience that’s not something anyone would blink an eye at.

      (a) Asking to send a message is commonplace and fine. If they don’t want to, that’s fine too. (b) They offered you the phone but expected you not to take it? What? That’s some weird bait and switch there – if the logic is they felt forced to do it, well that’s really not your issue.

    3. Becca*

      I can’t understand the message-receiver’s logic here… You were freely offered the use of the phone, and if the message-receiver didn’t feel adequately warned that they’d be talking to someone else, that’s on the middleman! If someone offers you something— especially when you didn’t even ask for it!— there’s no harm in using it.

      I’m totally with you on the last paragraph— emergencies are emergencies, and we have to take what help we can get in them!

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Maybe what they actually objected to was not you using someone else’s phone, but suddenly being flung into a conversation with someone else with no warning?

        1. Effie*

          I think that’s what they’re objecting to. Once I called a then-dear friend of mine and was sharing some sensitive personal information when suddenly her fiance jumped in with very unwanted “advice” (ie telling me that my feelings about the situation were invalid)…and that’s when I found it she’d put me on speaker at the beginning of the conversation! I’m sure you were not anywhere near as abrasive or horrible as friend’s fiance was to me, and if the middleman did not let them know that they were passing the phone to you it would have been jarring.

      2. Myrin*

        I’m totally with you! Frankly, I’m astounded that this is even a situation that arose as I’ve never heard about such a thing before. Like you say, Becca, it’s on the middleman – in this case, the phone-offerer – to say to their friend “Anono is here with me and we were just talking about something she wanted to tell you. Can I hand you over to her real quick?”. The friend on the other end might have a brief moment of “Huh wait what is going on” but it shouldn’t be earth-shatterinng or anything.

    4. Cruciatus*

      It’s weird that anyone cared. I mean, you are friends with everyone involved so who cares? If you were going to invite the other person on the cell phone to do something without the person whose phone you were using that would be rude, but that wouldn’t be about the phone, just plain old etiquette. I think it’s rude to tell other people what they can and can’t do regarding cell phones when they are freely offered for use! I don’t know what gender stereotypes have to do with anything in this situation. It sounds more like one person is a bit more controlling than the others and needs to chill out no matter their gender.

    5. Bryce*

      I grew up with corded phones and a grandma who would call every weekend so my opinion may be skewed, but I’d say the main etiquette things would be
      –ask (of course, and in this case it was offered to you)
      –let person on the other end know before handing it over, so they can switch gears or shout “nonono” as appropriate
      –try to maintain context/tone. “Oh you’re chatting with Leslie? Could I let her know I’ll be late for our brunch this afternoon?” is different from “oh you’re chatting with Leslie? Could I go over some TPS report inaccuracies with her?”

    6. Not So NewReader*

      That is just too weird. I’d ignore it. Or you could respond, “Well I guess now I know not to use your phone, but I am not sure you can speak for other people.”

    7. Observer*

      Sorry, I think your friend was being an idiot. You were *offered* the phone by someone you knew. Why on earth are you “supposed” to refuse it?

      It would be different if you asked someone you don’t know well, but might have to interact with again, because you don’t know if there is a reason why a person might not want to give you their phone (eg limited minutes) but it could get awkward. But no rule of etiquette says you have assume that your friend is clueless about her phone!

    8. Casuan*

      From the scenario you described, it would have been awkward for you to not take the phone. It’s odd that the person who scolded you for it [presumably] didn’t scold the one who gave you the phone.

      I hate the phone-thrust thing!
      Whether one thrusts the phone to me or if I’m talking with someone & they thrust the phone to another… except in an emergency, that’s just rude.

    9. Anono-me*

      Thank you to everyone who gave feed back.

      Since everyone else seemed to find it unexceptionable, I decided to ask the friend who express concern about my talking on our mutual friend’s phone.

      It turned out to be a misunderstanding. Concerned Friend had not heard Phone Owner Friend say ‘Here you do it.’ and thought that I had just taken the initiative and the phone.

      I really really don’t like to be rude.

      1. Bryce*

        Off, I can see that. Glad it was sorted out with only a small period of social anxiety.

  33. Cruciatus*

    I follow Grammar Girl on Facebook and most of the time I understand the rule regarding a word or phrase she’s posting about, but yesterday she posted about the phrase (and similar phrases) like “needs washed”. I didn’t know this was an abnormal thing! I probably could have told you it wasn’t perfect grammar and I do use the words “to be” most of the time, but if someone says “the car needs washed” or “the lawn needs mowed” I don’t think anything of it. It’s a regionalism that originated in Pittsburgh (near-ish where I live) due to Scots-Irish influence. I posted on Facebook and most people who commented aren’t bothered by it, probably because we grew up in the same area. Is there anyone out there this really bothers or doesn’t bother outside of the Pittsburgh region? I can see now how it probably sounds uneducated and grating to others (and of course other areas have their own regionalisms). But phrasing things this way is just very common here, even if you are in fact educated (as my whole family is). (And in the end, Grammar Girl does say she doesn’t recommend using it, but I figure I’m not writing up professional papers or speaking as an authority on anything so it doesn’t matter).

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      In my area people use the phrase “needs gone” but nobody actually thinks it’s grammatically correct. It’s like saying: because cats.

    2. Allypopx*

      Here it would be “needs washing” or “needs to be washed”, I’ve never actually heard “needs washed” before. It kind of grates on me, yeah, I think it would bug me if I heard it.

      But if it’s fine in your area I don’t think you need to worry about it.

    3. Uncivil Engineer*

      I’m on the west coast and I have never even heard a sentence like this before. If someone told me “the car needs washed,” I’d be looking at them to complete the rest of the sentence. The car needs washed…. floor mats to replace the dirty ones?

      1. Overeducated*

        Yeah, I have never heard that (and I am from Western NY originally, not even that far from Pittsburgh). I would be confused and not quite get it at first. I don’t think it would annoy me once I got used to it though, I am not a prescriptivist.

    4. Katie the Fed*

      It’s a very Pennsylvania-Ohio thing.

      I don’t care for it myself, but I also understand that it’s a useful way of getting meaning across without extraneous words. But it still annoys the grammar nazi lurking inside me.

      1. Amadeo*

        I…really? I live in Southern IL and I hear ‘needs washed/mowed/cleaned/etc” all the doggone time. It’s in my own vocabulary. I’d say most of the folks around here grew up here, we don’t get transplants anymore because there’s nothing here. We’re more about Kentucky in our dialect here than Chicago.

    5. Parenthetically*

      I find the difference between “needs mowed” and “needs mowing” fascinating from a linguistic perspective; never considered it an error one way or another, just a colloquial difference. I grew up (in Colorado) saying “needs mowed” and never heard “needs mowing” until I watched British TV, and most members of my immediate family have post-graduate degrees.

    6. Ramona Flowers*

      I think the actual issue is that the message is: the noun needs verbing – but this is: the noun needs adjective, with a verb being used as an adjective. Maybe?

        1. Katie the Fed*


          You basically cut the “to be”

          So “this shirt needs to be washed” becomes “this shirt needs washed”
          “the cat needs to be fed” becomes “the cat needs fed.”

          1. Jessesgirl72*

            And it isn’t only “needs” that gets it .

            The dog wants petted would also be common.

            1. Cruciatus*

              See, the article mentioned that exact phrase as well, yet that grates on me. Same with “anymore” used weirdly. Like, “Anymore, I can’t find socks at the store.” Ugh. Hate that.

              1. fposte*

                I think we’ve lost that battle, as I see that universally. Basically it’s using “anymore” where “nowadays” would be more correct; since there are some usages where they’re interchangeable, people clearly just took the parallel and ran.

                1. Parenthetically*

                  I don’t mind “anymore” instead of nowadays usually, but around here it’s “now days,” even written out, and that just grinds my gears.

                2. Not So NewReader*

                  Nowadays got bad press a while ago it was described as trite, tired, worn out, cumbersome and in short “an old person’s word”.

                  I love watching this stuff.

                  When I returned to college, I gradually realized that everyone there was on a secret word for the day program. I noticed that suddenly everyone was using a word that NO ONE used last week. I was amused by watching them see how many times they could use that word in one conversation. I saw this pattern with numerous words.

                3. fposte*

                  @Not So New Reader–since I edit and have a regular community of writers, I see this happen a lot! Somebody uses a word or phrase that’s been a rare one, and it just lodges in people’s consciousness and turns up in everybody else’s work in the next couple of weeks.

              2. Nic*

                That use of “anymore” puts my teeth on edge. It’s like nails on a chalkboard to me. Amusingly, I hate it so much I cannot come up with an example of that use when I get into a conversation and try to bring it up.

                1. fposte*

                  It’s turned up in comments here (not necessarily today, but I’ve noticed it in other posts). It’s subtle enough that you don’t necessarily notice it if you’re not looking for it.

    7. Jessesgirl72*

      Someone once asked me if I grew up near Pittsburgh because I say things like “the dog needs walked” without the “to be”

      About an hour away, on the Ohio side of the border, so yeah.

      I don’t seem to have been held back by it, even in California.

      Yinz grates on me, so please don’t use that. ;) I never could stand that word!

    8. Rebecca*

      Central PA phoning in :) I grew up saying and hearing this. The lawn needs mowed, laundry needs done, throw me down the steps the [insert thing here], (meaning, I’m in the cellar, bring or toss me something so I don’t have to go back up the steps to get it), red up (meaning to clean and tidy up a space), etc. If I’m in my neighborhood, or around my family, I speak one way, but in public or at work, I use correct English. I don’t think it’s bad, or incorrect, or anything…it’s just the way we talk here.

      1. the gold digger*

        throw me down the steps the [insert thing here]

        I just read “How to Speak Midwestern” and he talks about that kind of sentence construction. He uses the example of something like, “You play the game with five cards just” and addresses the use of “go with” and “boughten,” both of which I have always used because my parents are both from northern Wisconsin.

        The “throw me down the steps” (I am guessing) is for a reason similar to the “You play the game with five cards just,” which is they are direct literal translations from German or a Scandinavian language into English. “Boughten” (which horrifies my husband) and “go with” are also direct literal translations from German. My grandmother did not speak English until she went to school, so I come by this stuff honest.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          I have heard go with a lot, but never used it. It’s not quite as nails-on-chalkboard as yinz, though.

          And although I don’t use “boughten” as a word that is too archiaic, I never thought to object to it or even question it. But then I realized, it’s used in the Little House Books- written by someone raised by from and who spent most of her formative years in Wisconsin and Minnesota…

          1. Jessesgirl72*

            *idly wonders if there is anything people ask Alison for more than an Edit feature. ;)

        2. Rebecca*

          Yes! I say “store bought” and sometimes “boughten” and people who don’t live here are “from away”. “Do you want to go with?” is a full sentence. To me :)

          Another “Grandma-ism” was “there’s pie back” or “there’s cake back”. She’d say that when we were eating a meal at her house to let us know not to eat too much as she had made pie or cake for dessert. If something was running low on the table, she’d say, “oh, there’s more back”. If there was no more cole slaw, for instance, she’d say “it’s all”.

          It’s so interesting to see how others communicate!

          1. Jessica*

            I love this. Never heard it before, but next time I make a cake I’m going to force some sort of meal on people beforehand so I can tell them there’s cake back.
            The cake back also sounds like the MVP of all the most important plays run in the kitchen.

        3. FDCA In Canada*

          “Go with?” As in, “I’m going to the store, do you want to go with?” I did not realize until this instant that people don’t say that everywhere. I grew up in the Midwest but live in Canada now, so my speech is full of odd usages, but I definitely say that a lot and now I wonder if people think I’m weird.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            I got “come with” from my cousin in Chicago. I thought it was weird asst first that it ended at “with” because I’d only ever heard “come with me”. But it rubbed off on me and now I ask my kids all the time if they want to “come with”.

        4. Nic*

          Growing up in North Louisiana, my parents were very strict about sentence structures like this because so many people used them in the area and they didn’t want me to.

          “Get me a drink” would be answered with them coming over, grabbing my arm lightly and saying “Okay, got you. What about a drink?”

          That’s a fascinating take about the German. I don’t know French rules, but there was a LOT of French spoken in my area. I wonder if it’s similar.

    9. super anon*

      I’m Canadian and lived on both sides of the country, and I have never heard “needs mowed” before. If someone said that to me I would find it very odd, and I think it’s a bit irritating sounding. Depending on the situation, I may think the person is ESL (we have a lot of new immigrants here) and doesn’t know the correct grammar. I’ve heard people say “the lawn needs mowing” but I also think that’s a bit wrong sounding, and I would never use it myself.

      1. fposte*

        “Needs mowing” is grammatically correct, though. It’s “needs mowed” that’s not a conventionally orthodox usage.

    10. Basia, also a Fed*

      I grew up in the Midwest and moved to Pennsylvania in high school. I had never heard it before and it makes me CRAZY. I actually thought it was Pennsylvania Dutch. I try not to correct people when they say this, but it really makes me cring.

    11. Jen Erik*

      Yes, I’m in N. Ireland, and that’s what we say too. My husband – who is English – did, in the past, lob in a correction from time to time: “needs ‘to be’ washed, my dear” – but I ignored this as pedantic, and he has acclimatised over the years.
      As it’s a construction that has been widely used and understood for hundreds of years, I think we’re entitled to think of it as an acceptable variant.

    12. TootsNYC*

      “needs” is a transitive verb, and therefore it takes a direct object, i.e. a NOUN.

      “washed” is either a past-tense verb or an adjective–neither of which is correct after a transitive verb.

      “to be washed” is an infinitive, which is a form of noun structure, and “washing” is a gerund, which is a form of noun.

      So yes, it’s not grammatical (i.e., doesn’t follow the accepted rules of grammar). Lots of things are not grammatical but acceptable in certain groups. Like “because cats” (one of my favorite non-grammatical constructions) or the word “ain’t.”

      In my hometown and surrounding parts, we say, “I’ll either pick up dinner or cook at home, one.” We leave out “or the other.” It’s not grammatical, but it’s a casual regionalism. I’ve always assumed we all knew it was not quite correct, but we did it anyway bcs it was faster and we thought it was mildly amusing.

      If I heard “the lawn needs mowed,” I would make a negative assumption about the well-read-ness, well-educated-ness, and socio-economic class of the person saying it. Other things might mitigate that impression, of course.

    13. Red Reader*

      I grew up in Michigan and live in Indiana now, and they do that here CONSTANTLY and it drives me bananas.

        1. Always anon*

          As another Scot, I’m guessing B means that “needs washed” and equivalents are acceptable usages in Scottish English, but not Standard (UK) English.

          Also, it never even occurred to me that “needs washed” isn’t grammatical. Saying “needs to be washed” sounds overly formal and I wouldn’t use it within the family.

    14. rubyrose*

      Raised in south central Kansas – not abnormal. I would use it in everyday language, but would write it more correctly (“needs to be washed”).

    15. AdAgencyChick*

      I’m a big grammar nerd but my dad’s from Greensburg so I grew up hearing that one and it doesn’t grate.

    16. Central Pennsylvanian*

      I’m from Central PA (the other hotbed of “needs washed” and similar) and have always hated that phrasing.

    17. The Grammarian*

      I have only encountered that phrasing online and I don’t care for it, personally, but that’s due to years of teaching/editing with a focus on Standard Edited American English.

    18. Katriona*

      I’d never heard it until I went to college in South Jersey so I assumed it was a Phillyism. To be honest it drives me up a wall. I get completely taken out of the conversation because my brain is trying to find the missing words.

      (And just when I was about to post this comment I realized I’d accidentally a word myself. It’s true what they say about nitpicking other people’s grammar!)

    19. Al Lo*

      I’ve never heard that usage, but when I was quite small (maybe about 3 or 4), I told my dad that he needed to “lawn the grass.” In my mind, a lawn was grass that had been cut and made to look nice. So, it made sense that to get the grass to look nice, you would “lawn” it. The yard was the space, the grass was the ground cover, and the lawn was the act of making the grass in the yard look good.

      (The word “lawn” has stopped making any sense to me in writing right now…)

  34. Parenthetically*

    Just wanted to pull a book recommendation (from PCBH and Thlayli) out of another thread: Come As You Are by Dr. Emily Nagoski. I read it last year and it’s absolutely amazing.

    1. Thlayli*

      lol I bought it a couple weeks ago after seeing it recommended here! I haven’t even finished it yet.

      1. Parenthetically*

        I just think anytime something related to women’s sexuality comes up it needs mentioning again! Soooo good.

  35. Gene*

    I had nothing that needed posting here until 5 minutes ago.

    The friend who’s boyfriend kicked her out when her chemo was finished just texted me. The cancer is back…

    Fuck Cancer.

    So pissed at the world right now. I’m going to go take a walk.

    1. Rebecca*

      Me too, Gene. Pissed at world, going to take a walk (after I eat some homemade flatbread pizza on this cold dreary day). And cancer can DIAF.

    2. Jean (just Jean)*

      Yucko. Cancer is no fun. I’ve seen it bother several friends. At present it’s gripping one friend and my spouse.

      At least your friend doesn’t have to deal with both cancer and a lousy, no-good significant other…? Or am I just grasping at straws of encouragement here? Not that anyone wants enlightenment via betrayal, but if people are going to be horrible, good riddance. To extend the words of Dr. Doolittle, Life is too short to spend time with schmucks. (Dr. Doolittle stopped after “short.”)

      You can’t fix everything, but you can listen to your friend when she needs to talk, or buy her groceries, or visit to do some household chores when she’s too exhausted, or … You’re a good person for caring.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Echoing that you are a good friend to your friend, Gene.
        I marvel. For every AH that I see, there is a bunch of good people who fill in the gaps.
        Thanks for making her world a less cold place.

        1. Casuan*

          Gene, I’m so sorry.

          :::adding my thanks for making her world a less cold place:::

    3. SeekingBetter*

      So sorry to hear about your friend’s situation. I hope she will get well soon and that everything will work out for her soon.

  36. Anonymous Educator*

    Kind of an obscure movie, but I recently came across an indie film called Little Boxes, and it was a great film. I’d highly recommend it!

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Yeah, I had certain expectations going in, and it didn’t get exactly where I thought it would (a good thing!).

  37. Aurion*

    Whining: I misjudged a volleyball fastball Thursday night and now one of my fingers is swollen, very sore, and a disconcerting shade of purple.

    I see the x-ray results in about four hours. *sigh* I’m really hoping it’s not a fracture, but volleyball is over for me for at least a month or two either way…

    1. CAA*

      Oh no! Nothing but sympathy here. I’ve been there, done that, spent 4 weeks in a cast. I hope it’s not your dominant hand.

      1. Aurion*

        Fracture confirmed. Volleyball and lifting is over for two months or so. Sigh… :(

  38. Myrin*

    I’m entirely unsure if I’ve ever mentioned this before but I’m an avid gardener (in fact, I would have become a gardener had I not decided on an academic path; I meant it when I said yesterday that I’m actually much more cut out for manual labour). And I got word a few days ago that the many young plants I ordered will arrive here sometime between next Tuesday and Thursday! I’m excited and hope this will be a fruitful year!

    1. fposte*

      Mine arrived this last week, so I have a few dozen plants waiting to go in this weekend and next week. Today is a great day for planting except we got torrents of rain this weekend and our soil is very clayey, so it’s still way too wet. I’m hoping it’ll dry out enough to get stuff in tomorrow.

      So what are you planting, Myrin? I’m trying to revamp my garden to be more low maintenance, so I’m putting in a lot of grasses, Siberian iris, and perennial geraniums.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        Our last rental in the SF Bay area had geraniums. They don’t need maintenance to live, but in a mild climate, they need cut back regularly to prevent them from taking over! They grew like mad!

          1. Jessesgirl72*

            We had two in large pots that we moved from rental to rental for 12 years, and they were fine- they stayed the size of their pot and never died even on South facing balconies and indifferent watering. We only lived in that house for a year, and I don’t know how much time the owners had put into them (I’m going to guess VERY LITTLE based on the massive amount of work I put into the rose trees in front) but there were several of them that were over 6 ft high and at least as wide.

            1. Bryce*

              Oh man, taking care of negligent landscaping is always fun. My parents moved into a place where things had been very nicely laid out without accounting for growth, then neglected for years. So many nice plants that had to be taken out because they’d strangled each other. And about twenty potentilla — a beautiful naturally droopy shrub — that had been hedge-trimmed blindly into spheres killing all of the inside of the plant. We managed to salvage some of them with aggressive pruning, but a lot of them just got pulled up. When I can pull out a bush half as big as I am (and I’m not a small guy), and once the dirt settles you can’t tell anything was missing, that’s when you know the place was overplanted.

        1. Bryce*

          My mom’s had a geranium plant since I was a kid (at least I think it’s the same one). Keeps it in a pot by the window, and it grows so aggressively that if you don’t rotate it it presses up against the glass like a happy puppy.

      2. Myrin*

        Ha, we had snow here until last week and the weather continues to be very April-y (meaning literally hot and cold. On the same day. Twice.) so the radishes I planted four weeks ago aren’t looking too hot right now but other than that, I’m actually glad the plants will only be arriving just now since they all would’ve died anyway. Also, little tidbit I think is very cool (pun totally intended) which I’m not sure is even known in other countries: Especially with sun-loving plants, we plant pretty strictly only after the Ice Saints here. It’s a holdover from times of old but it’s served me well so far – it’s said that only after Cold Sophie on the 15th we can finally be sure of only warmth to come and that beforehand, there’s always a chance of it becoming cold and even snowy yet again. Apart from that, though, we share the way too wet, clayey soil with you at the moment so I’d have to wait a bit in any case.

        And I have a kitchen garden! I do some flowers like marigolds or monks cress but other than that, I mostly plant vegetables and herbs. Warning, detailed list ahead!

        This year I’ll be getting seven different kinds of tomatoes (which were a massive success last year), a cucumber, an aubergine, a red pepper, a physalis, a chilli, two kinds of basil (I’ve become something of a basil master in the last two years), parsley, chives, sorrel, and a pimpinella. I also sowed five kinds of salad a couple of days ago as well as red beets (which grew some seriously massive greenery when I first tried them out and then had ridiculously small actual beets when I harvested them; the disappointment!) but I’ve been kind of unlucky with some of the stuff I’ve sowed myself over the years so let’s see what this year will be like.

        1. Parenthetically*


          I have a list of vegetables and fruit I want to grow someday. My husband grew up with an apple tree, a cool-climate lemon tree, and a massive biennially-fruiting apricot tree, so all of those are on the list. I grew up with a salsa garden — TONS of tomatoes (30 plants or so, usually) and chiles and onions with the odd foray into other veggies. My dad swore off cantaloupe the year we grew them and our entire garden got flattened by half-dollar-sized hail.

          1. Myrin*

            Onions were actually my gateway plant, my first foray into planting vegetables, and I’ve been doing it every year since then and only stopped doing it this year. Why? Because they grew beautifully – fresh, long, and sturdy green, looked fantastic, and then they were either extremely small or just not developed at all. WTH? Until this day, I have failed to find out what that was about and in all my extensive internet searches I’ve only ever found one other person who had the same problem but no one could help her, either. :(

            1. Ellen*

              Myrin- Make sure the type of seed or sets that you plant are the right type for your region. IIRC, you’re not in the US. If you’re nearer the equator, you’ll need “short day” or “day neutral” seed or sets. Farther away from the equator, ie., north or south of the (?) 40th parallel, you’ll need “long day” seed or sets. Your onions are failing to bulb because they’re being stimulated to bulb before they’ve put on sufficient vegetative growth.

              1. Myrin*

                I’m actually very certain that I have the right kind of sets for my area. I buy locally and my boss here at my part-time job buys the same ones and yet his grow normally whereas mine are just a travesty. I can imagine it must have something to do with my soil. Thanks a lot for the tips, though1

            2. Natalie*

              Onions have a loooooooong growing season, which might be why you’re not getting large onions.

    2. Parenthetically*

      Ooh, I’d love to hear more about your gardening! We live in a condo now without so much as a window box, but I’m forever dreaming of the day when we have a big yard!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        You can google for apartment gardening. People are doing all kinds of stuff IN their homes.

        I just learned of a group (out of England?) who are working on doing an open source style plan for hydroponic gardens inside apartments. They will give you a plan so you can get started, as you work with the plan you can add your ideas to the open source.
        I have not looked at it very much but it appears to have a plan for organic hydroponics, too, which would appeal to me. (You’d add lights to your plan if your windows are not very bright. I would have to do that here.)

      2. Myrin*

        I love talking about my gardening adventures, so please feel free to ask stuff or just randomly start talking about any topic you’re interested in!

    3. Jessesgirl72*

      We have apple trees and blueberry bushes in the back of the property that we planted, and a large fenced in raised bed garden that will probably just have tomatoes in it this summer.

      We have all kinds of old fashioned flowers in various beds in the back that were planted by the previous owner- lily of the valley, hen and chicks, sedum, lavender, lemon sage, and all kinds of things I can’t name.

      The front… is so shaded by the giant maple tree that the only thing that grows is periwinkle. Even the hosta I’ve planted has been slow to grow. Oh and moss- I could make a fortune selling off the moss! LOL

      1. the gold digger*

        I hate the tree in our front yard so much – all that shade, making it hard to grow flowers. And it’s not like we live in someplace hot where we need shade.

        RE: Selling your weeds. I have purslane, which I think must be the most evil weed in the world. Someone was selling it at a farmers market. I said, “You can come take as much purslane as you want from my garden and I will charge you nothing.”

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          Well our front room is a good 5 degrees cooler in the summer, and even in winter, 2 degrees warmer, so I will never even think about removing the tree. Besides, I love trees! I just wish there was something that would grow better and add a little height in front of the house- it looks so unfinished- and the periwinkle is a little messy. The hostas should take care of that- and I bought the “giant” varieties- but only 2 of the 4 are really thriving.

          Because it’s a deciduous tree, I do get spring bulb flowers, since there is enough sun before the leaves grow. And I planted a flowering crab at the front corner of the yard, where it gets enough morning sun- and it’s so happy there (The dogwood, that is supposed to only want morning or filtered sun was not)

          But for height and color in front of the house, I’ve been reduced to yard art- the one lady at our local craft fair upcycles mason jars and old Christmas bulbs and this year, she added mini screwdrivers- into “bugs” and the mason jars have colored lights in them (and the solar panels get enough light for a few hours after dark!). And another maker has old cut glass pieces he makes into flowers- I bought one that looks like a daffodil, if daffodils came in purple.

          Moss is so hard to start artificially, that I really could make money by selling it!

  39. HannahS*

    Does anyone listen to radio plays? I’ll be doing a lot of stuff this summer that needs my eyes but not my brain (both work and hobby-related) so TV in the background is too visually distracting. I listened to Neverwhere a few years ago and enjoyed it. Where do you find them + what are some good ones?

    Related: What’s your favourite educational podcast?

    1. TootsNYC*

      ooh, go find the serial radio play “Cabin Pressure.” We just finished listening to it as a family, and it was so much fun.

      1. HannahS*

        Oh, I think I’ve heard of it. WAIT NO I definitely listened to an episode, once, I think, and it was really good!

    2. Annie Mouse*

      I love The Life Scientific if you can still get it, they look at the life of a different scientist from all sorts of disciplines and talk to them and find out about their history. Some of them are fascinating.

    3. Zathras*

      Check out a company called Big Finish (bigfinish dot com), especially if you are a Doctor Who fan. They got their start making Doctor Who radio plays with the original actors, and while Doctor Who is still the majority of what they do, they have expanded to other shows and various classic literature stuff as well. I’m mostly familiar with their older Doctor Who stuff – it’s been a few years since I’ve bought anything because I used to listen to them on my commute, but now I bike to work. But in general I found the quality of the stories to be very good, although like with anything you get the occasional clunker. I also liked their Sherlock Holmes series.

      You can buy them as digital downloads, and the older releases in the back catalog are super reasonably priced. (I will warn you and anyone else reading this though, DON’T start with the very first Doctor Who play “Sirens of Time” – it’s pretty terrible. Even they admit it’s terrible. It took them a little while to hit their stride.)

      1. HannahS*

        Oh, that sounds great! I was a Dr. Who fan for a while, and I bet I’d enjoy some more stories. Sherlock Holmes sounds good too.

        1. Zathras*

          Here are a couple of releases I really liked from the bargain-price early years. They’re all very good, don’t do any weird/experimental storytelling, and don’t rely on you having heard other stories.

          – The Spectre of Lanyon Moor (6th Doctor, original companion Evelyn Smythe, & the Brigadier)
          – Storm Warning (8th Doctor, introduction of original companion Charley Pollard)
          – Colditz (7th Doctor & Ace)
          – Spare Parts (5th Doctor & Nyssa)

          For a long time they were only allowed to use classic Doctors, but they have very recently been allowed to do some New Series stories as well. I haven’t heard any yet so I can’t suggest any specific titles.

      1. HannahS*

        Yes, yes, yes! That sounds great. As a side note, the very best episode of pretty much anything is, in my opinion, the episode of Frasier where he puts on radio mystery. Side-splittingly funny.

    4. Jean (just Jean)*

      In the Metro DC area, radio station WAMU plays old-time radio shows for four hours every Sunday night beginning at 7 pm. My favorites are “Johnny Dollar” (“The insurance investigator with the action-packed expense account”) and “Gunsmoke.” Somehow they manage to have the right (IMO, anyway) blend of noire, cartoonish action, and humanity.

      As is the case with most radio stations these days, you can either listen live or via the web. Gosh darn, the newfangled inventions we have these days!

      1. CatCat*

        Is it The Big Broadcast? I used to *love* listening to it and my favorites were also Johnny Dollar and Gunsmoke :-)

        I was bummed when I left DC because I couldn’t find the Big Broadcast anywhere. I have since discovered that the old time radio shows can be found on podcasts and I enjoy those.

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          Yes, it’s The Big Broadcast. I get it live on radio but it might be available via web (either live streaming or archived). It’s locally produced.

    5. Chaordic One*

      Way back when I was in college there was a science-fiction series on the campus radio station called, “Ruby: The Adventures of a Galactic Gumshoe,” that was similar in tone to Douglas Adams’ “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxie.” I only remember the first series, but apparently they’ve been coming up with a new one every 2 or 3 years since then. You can listen to podcasts of the series at the following links on Wondery or on itunes:



    6. Parenthetically*

      We did a LOT of the old Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes on car trips when I was a kid. Got ’em from the library. There are some Jeeves and Wooster radio plays as well, although I wouldn’t necessarily want to be driving while listening — I can hardly read the stories without having to pause to wipe tears. Those would certainly be library scores as well.

      1. HannahS*

        You’re right, I should check my library! I’m lucky to live in a smallish city with a truly fantastic library. By tears, do you mean laughing tears or crying tears? I don’t think I can handle anything really upsetting.

      2. Zathras*

        Oh, I love the Rathbone Holmes stories! I had forgotten about those. I need to dig them out and listen again.

    7. NeverNicky (formerly TeaLady)*

      If you can stream BBC Radio 4 Extra you will get tons of good stuff, some vintage and some more modern.

  40. Lady Jay*

    I’m taking a trip next weekend to see some family graduate & need podcast recommendations. I like thoughtful podcasts where I learn something new; I also like the hosts to talk more about the subject, less about their personal lives. Examples of things I like: Stuff You Missed in History Class, This American Life, Radiolab, Planet Money, Hardcore History, Spilled Milk. Got any ideas?

    1. Anonyby*

      Gastropod and Inquiring Minds come to mind! The first is about food science & history, the latter is science.

    2. Mephyle*

      BBC’s In Our Time. It totally fits your bill of learning something new. The guests talk 100% about the subject and 0% about their personal lives. Try one at random – sometimes the subjects that seem least likely to be interesting when you see the episode title turn out to be the most rewarding.

      1. Kate in Scotland*

        Also on the BBC, I’d recommend The Life Scientific, Making History and History of the World in 100 Objects.

      2. Mephyle*

        Oh, how I love History of the World in 100 Objects. I’ve listened to it all the way through at least four times, and my favourite episodes many times more.

    3. CAA*

      I like Fresh Air, Freakonomics, Hidden Brain, Lexicon Valley. For humor: Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me and Ask Me Another.

    4. Betty (the other Betty)*

      The Bowery Boys New York City History podcast. Interesting even if you don’t live in New York City. :)

      Also their spinoff: The First.

    5. Lady Kelvin*

      Revolutions or history of Rome by Mike Duncan. Revolutions starts with the English revolution and goes through the major ones after that and talks about their parallels and how the people overlap. He’s really good to listen to; it’s like listening to a long story with an excellent story teller

      1. Parenthetically*

        Oooooooh that Revolutions one sounds amazing! I’ve got so much sewing to do this summer — maybe that will get me through it!

    6. Anonymous Educator*

      My recs (podcast: subject)…
      Startup: Startups
      Popaganda: Pop culture through feminist lens
      Why Oh Why: Dating
      Too Embarrassed to Ask: Technology
      Hidden Messages: Books
      Science Vs.: Science
      Slate: Represent: Film/TV

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Also, even though it’s over now, Stuff Mom Never Told You (by same company as Stuff You Missed in History Class).

    7. Pharmgirl88*

      I really How Stuff Works (same parent company as Stuff you missed in History class I think)

    8. Bad Candidate*

      Check out the Podcasts We Listen To group on Facebook, tons of suggestions there.

    9. Lady Alys*

      Another vote for BBC’s “In Our Time” – fascinating stuff! Also suggest the History of English podcast, but the time commitment to that one is non-trivial.

  41. Lady Jay*

    Has anyone tried making freezer jam with white wine added? I have fruit to use up & also white wine to use up (it’s been uncorked a little to long to be good drinking, but I’m sure it would be fine *in* something), and so I’m hoping to making one of those recipes with the wine in the jam, but I’m concerned about how this will affect the jam setting up. I don’t plan on using pectin or canning the jam.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      I’ve made canned jam with wine and it was fine. You should probably use pectin though – that’s what makes the jam jammy. I made bellini jam with peaches and prosecco – so good!

      1. Lady Jay*

        Have you not done freezer jam? You can get a similar consistency to jam with pectin by slowly reducing the fruit & sugar on he stove (I’ll put a link in a reply). I don’t trust myself to can (plus, it takes way longer than I want to invest in the project!), so I skip the pectin and do freezer jam only.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          No, never done it. Canning is so easy (at least once you’re used to it). I’m going strawberry picking tomorrow to make a bunch of jam for the next year.

          1. Lady Jay*

            I’m sure! But I have bad memories because I took on salsa one weekend and it turned into a four hour project over a hot stove. I’m also worried about giving myself food poisoning. :P

            Good luck with your strawberry picking! It’s the perfect time of year to be outdoors.

            1. Natalie*

              High-acid canning is quite safe, which includes nearly all fruit canning and pickled items (assuming you use the correct proportion of vinegar). It’s the non-pickled vegetables and canned meat you have to watch out for. The latter mostly because canned meat is disgusting period.

              But it can be a hell of a project, and hot too.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I think that you will really want to watch the temp inside your freezer. It was awhile ago, but I seem to recall that fruit needs to be at minus 3 degrees F, or lower. I would think that the alcohol would require the temp to go even lower? Not sure.

  42. The Cosmic Avenger*

    I’ve seen (and contributed) lots of advice on what to see when visiting X here in the free-for-all threads. There are still so many places I want to go! And it feels like with every free-for-all, my list gets longer! Which is a good problem to have, so…

    What is your all-time favorite trip/destination?

    Mine was a safari in Tanzania. We spent most of our time in the Serengeti, although we made it out to the Masai Mara. The wildlife was amazing, but even just looking at the trees, the brush, the mountains, there was nothing familiar enough to take for granted, even the night sky was so much more visible.

    Although a cruise around French Polynesia was really, really close. The most remote islands, the Marquesas (yes, where they filmed a season of Survivor), were so beautiful, and the stars there, out on the South Pacific, were the most stunning I will probably ever see. I have a picture of myself sipping a drink out of a coconut on a beach–a coconut that was just picked and opened–that is a perfect symbol of the sense of peace and pampering that we had that whole trip.

    1. Jessesgirl72*

      Connemara, Ireland. It’s just so beautiful and green. I never get tired of just looking at the scenery there. I always say if I hit the lottery, that is where I’m headed. I love Ireland in general, but Connemara is just something else.

      1. Uncivil Engineer*

        I loved the west coast of Ireland, too, though I didn’t make it much farther north than Galway.

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Oh, yes, Ireland is on my list, as I’ve been to England, Scotland, and Wales, but I might have to hop the Irish Sea at least once, since I can’t imagine being that close and not doing a distillery tour. Plus, my minion would really like to see more of London, which I love, too.

    2. Parenthetically*

      Oh, a safari, how wonderful!

      It’s such a tossup for me. I spent three weeks in London and couldn’t possibly describe how amazing I find it as a city. We stayed in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria for about a week and it was honestly the most relaxing week of my life. But overall my favorite destination is Tasmania. I think it’s one of the most quietly beautiful places on Earth — so much charm and loveliness. The light, the air, the forests, the diversity of ecosystems. Plus the produce and fish and restaurants and markets… I love it.

    3. Uncivil Engineer*

      I really want to visit the Tanzania/Kenya area you describe but I haven’t yet made it there.

      I can’t pick a favorite. Maybe Glacier/Waterton National Parks.

    4. Katie the Fed*

      Oh man, I’ve been so many places it’s hard to pick.

      I think my favorite is actually Myanmar. It was rugged and beautiful and still undiscovered by a lot of tourists. People were SO friendly and genuine, it’s gorgeous, interesting, and there’s tons to see (although after the 500th golden Buddha, you’re kind of done with them).

      That being said, I wouldn’t go back now because of what’s happening with the Rohingya.

      1. Parenthetically*

        after the 500th golden Buddha

        Heh, yes, have been to Thailand and had similar thoughts. How did you end up in Myanmar? Just a holiday?

        1. Katie the Fed*

          Yes. I like to travel to more…off the beaten path types of places.

          However, I’ll also throw in a plug for Poland because it’s just awesome. Krakow is just gorgeous. So is Gdansk. Wroclaw too.

    5. CAA*

      I’ll agree that French Polynesia was absolutely spectacular. We also went to the Cook Islands on that trip, where a different season of Survivor was filmed. Were you on a Paul Gauguin cruise?

      I’d say my second favorite was Israel, which was a bit of a surprise to me. I’m not religious, and didn’t really expect to feel the history so deeply.

      1. Nallomy*

        I loved my one short trip to Israel and I’d really like to go back. I did three days in Jerusalem when I studied abroad in Egypt in college. If I were to go back, I’d like to see the Mediterranean coast area, and maybe some of the desert.

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Yes, the ship was actually the M/S Paul Gaugin! We stopped at Nuka Hiva and Hiva Oa out there, and the Marquesan music was my favorite part.

        1. CAA*

          That is an amazing ship! We went for our 25th anniversary and I loved every minute aboard. We want to go back and keep looking at their Australia to Fiji trips, but there are so many other places we want to go too, so I don’t know when we’ll make it out there again.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            Oh, it was so amazing! I think it may have spoiled me for other cruises! The all-inclusive part and the smaller boat, and the amazing service….I’m dying to go again!

            (We went when it was still part of RSSC, so maybe there, or maybe on the PG again.)

    6. Elizabeth West*

      There are a million places I’d like to go, but I can’t get enough of London. I just can’t. I don’t think I could go to Europe without stopping through there. Every time I visit the city, I find something else to do I never thought of, or another cool place to discover. I’m confident enough in getting around it now that I can deliberately get lost and not worry about finding my way back. As long as I have a tube map, I can orient myself pretty well. And I have regular places to visit. :)

      Plus, I’m a huge museum nerd, and it has zillions of them. We’ve been having a long-distance off-and-on-again love affair since I first visited in 1983. *sigh* I love you, London. I wish I could see you more often. <3

      1. Parenthetically*

        I’m the same. I don’t think there’s another city in the world that can come close to it. I would go back twice a year if I could. My husband has never been and when we move back to Australia my goal is to take as long to get there as our stuff will — 6 months or so — to travel around, going the wrong way, and a loooong stay in London is very much on the list.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          There are still other cities in Europe I want to visit (Prague, Krakow, Dusseldorf, Amsterdam, Stockholm), mostly places where I have online friends. But London will always be my bae. :3

    7. nep*

      Tough to pick a favourite. But my first time in Africa — 15 days in Nigeria (mostly in the north) — will forever enchant me. Just stunning in countless ways.

  43. Keladry of Mindelan*

    Is anyone else caught up with all 4 episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale? It’s so fantastically done, and it really sticks with me for several hours afterwards. But I have no one in real life to talk to about it!

    1. Tris Prior*

      Yes! I binged the first 3 episodes in one sitting, which may not have been the best idea, and watched the 4th ep Wednesday. I think it’s really well done. Usually it annoys me when a show or movie deviates from the book it’s based on but I like the changes they’ve made and how they’ve expanded upon some of the characters.

    2. all aboard the anon train*

      That look between June and Moira in episode 4 on the subway platform broke my heart. Everyone in this show’s ability to convey so many emotions with one look is phenomenal. I wouldn’t be surprised if based on these four episodes alone the show swept all the categories come awards season.

      I heard this week that it just got a second season, so it makes me really wonder what will happen in the finale. Or if they’ll give us an ending to the book. Part of me wants to know, but the other part of me thinks the ambiguous ending is part of the beauty of the book.

      1. Keladry of Mindelan*

        I’m really curious to see how they handle the ending of the book. Maybe they’ll branch out and cover the show from the perspectives of the side characters? Or maybe show how the rest of the world perceives Gilead? The Commander mentioned in the 4th episode that he was in Mexico for meetings- maybe they’ll explore that aspect of things next season?

        1. all aboard the anon train*

          I kind of hope they don’t spend much time on the POV of the male characters tbh. I like that they’ve been in the background and that the camera rarely focuses on them or their reactions.

          The third episode did switch to a side character POV for some of it and I’ve heard rumors that a future episode might do a Serena Joy POV, so I’d love to see more of that. Aside form the ending, I’m really interested to see if they’re going to change Moira’s story of if we’re going to get a POV from her after her escape.

          I’m also wondering if this season or next season might have the flashbacks of June’s mother. I remember June thinking a lot about her in the book.

    3. Bad Candidate*

      Yes! Loving it! It sticks to the book but adds so much more. I’ve been listening to two podcasts on it, Allflesh and The Red Center. I need to do a rewatch, there’s things I’ve missed.

      1. Keladry of Mindelan*

        Ooh podcasts! I didn’t even think of looking for ones on the show. Great idea!

    4. Pat Benetardis*

      Yes, it’s the best thing I’ve watched in a long time, in that it’s not just really well done, but also meaningful. This week when Moira got on the train it was so sad and also triumphant. Wow.

  44. Hey, Marcela*

    Hope you’ve had a good visit with your brother, and that you’re getting more light in your days.

    Belle di Vedremo

    1. Marcela*

      Hi, Belle. It warms my heart to know you are thinking of me. Seriously. The very first days I thought I was so alone, and that made things worse. With time I’ve seen I am not alone at all, and people everywhere is willing to help me.

      I had fun with my brother, and I also cried a lot. My car broke, and since yesterday I don’t have a job. But there are options, I’ve reached to friends and there is something to dream about. I am not in danger to end homeless or without food, and my Dad is coming in 10 days. So even if things are bad, I’m seeing the good. DH is not going to break me. Btw, he is now saying he wants to fight for us. But so many things have happened that I am in a “whatever” stage. I just don’t know. I guess if he leaves, I am going to be devastated: I just cannot possibly stopped loving him in 4 weeks. But I can’t feel that love anymore.

      Fposte, if you are reading this, after 3 weeks I could go to the Chump Lady site. Things happened that put me in the right mindset. However, I still don’t like the black and white way of thinking they have, meaning that I still think my H and marriage are worth a fight, even if now I cannot _feel_ love. But I was able to read many, many articles, and they have helped. Thank you.

      1. fposte*

        Marcela, I’m so glad to hear from you; you’re still in the middle of some hard stuff, and I’m glad you’ve got good support.

        Please know I have no personal investment in whether you find Chump Lady useful or not–it’s just a voice I hadn’t heard in most discussions of adultery. So however you choose to make your way, I fully support you.

        1. Marcela*

          Hehehe, I did not think you were invested, Fposte. I guess I wanted to let you know that things have changed a lot in just 4 weeks.

      2. Overeducated*

        Thanks for checking in. I’ve been thinking of you too. I’m sorry to hear about the job and car stress on top of marriage stuff, that’s a crazy amount to deal with at once. Glad your family is keeping you company. Sending good wishes.

      3. Belle di Vedremo*

        Hi Marcela,

        I’ve been away from the computer, but if you check back here wanted you to know how glad I am to have your reply.

        Sounds like your visit with your brother did it’s job: fun and tears, and family. Sorry to hear about your car and your job, but it’s good to hear that your Dad is coming (soon, now) and that your husband is making a choice instead of vacillating.

        Hugs to you.

  45. Salut a la France*

    Meilleurs voeux pour la France, Sandrine et tous les francais.

    Je vous souhaite l’esperance demain et toujours.

    Belle di Vedremo

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          No kidding! (Metaphorically) sending up flares here in gratitude to any and every deity invokable. Vive la France and hallelujah!

  46. Sunflower*

    What was the first really difficult decision you ever had to make and how did you come to your decision?

    Somehow I’ve made it to age 28 without having to really make a hard decision that involved compromise, back and forth and just general ‘I have no idea what to do’. Probably I have never really thought about what I wanted or realized there are consequences associated with not making any decision as well.

    I finally came a to a decision this week that I’ve struggled with for a while. My boss quit and I had to start thinking ‘wtf am I gonna do from here’. I came to a decision and for the first time, i felt totally calm and confident. It turned out that this little bit of pressure allowed me to take all these 1000 things I was thinking and say ‘this is what I will do this one thing I can control first and then I will go from there’. I’ve never been good at baby steps but I feel pretty good right now. No telling how this decision will play out and I may have to go back to the drawing board soon but deciding to make one step before figuring out all the other 1000 was the biggest help for me.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      I dropped out of grad school. I was in a PhD program and I was MISERABLE. I was suffering from depression and anxiety, I had no real support network, and I knew deep down it wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life. It was a nasty, unhealthy atomsphere and I was spiraling down.

      Then one day I just realized that I didn’t have to do it anymore. I could just leave. And I took a huge leap of faith and told them I was leaving. I had no plan, but I knew I felt 100% better immediately. And everything ended up working out – I just had to make that decision.

      Sometimes you just either have to get to a breaking point, or something external happens that forces you to make a decision. Best of luck to you – if you feel calm and confident, it’s a very good sign!

    2. Lady Kelvin*

      Ours was this move to Hawaii. Lord Kelvin had a really good job in DC and even though I couldn’t find a job he made more than enough for us both to live comfort. But I had an opportunity to work in Hawaii a great job that will really jump start my career. But it paid half of what Lord Kelvin made and there was a chance that he can’t find work out here. But we talked about it and realized that we are at an age where we can take risks and we could survive on just my salary and we would regret not seeing what happens. We love it here, I love my a job and there is still a chance he will lose his job at the end of the year but for now, we are ok.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I was really motivated by a short story I read one time, perhaps in Reader’s Digest? An elderly man was in a nursing home. Someone asked him what his biggest regret in life was, he said, “That I did not take more chances. I thought of things as huge risks and they were not as big a deal as I thought they were. I should have tried more things and if I had it to do over again, I would take bigger chances.”

      I decided to live in such a way that this would not be a regret for me. I am not a big risk taker so no problems there. I did get the clarity of mind to realize that at some point I would look back on my decisions/ my life and have to be at peace with those decisions. My focus became “I will do the best I know how in each moment. I will use a mix of forgiving myself for being naive when that is appropriate and I will learn from my mistakes.”

      As the years rolled on, this kind of morphed into an ongoing thing where I would say to myself, “Learning experience number 396….” That number is much higher now, of course.

      Not a straight answer to your question here. But that short article shaped how I thought about big and not-so-big decisions in life. For me, I realized that my commitment to making a decision work was almost as important as the decision itself. If I could not commit to putting my all into something then that meant that probably doing that something was not for me.

    4. jamlady*

      When I was 20, I got in touch with an old friend (who I was already half in love with after first meeting at 14). I was just a few months from graduating and I had early admission to a very prestigious overseas grad program located in the region for which I had planned to do all of my research. He was in the army and stuck for another 5 years. So… When he proposed, I had a huge decision to make. It was fast, we were young, and I had all of these plans that would change if I said yes. It was difficult, and I think I debated it for a long time, but I chose to get married. I shifted all of my research to something closer to home (but was able to include the other region in a really fun way), I joined a different grad program and finished quickly, and now I’m an expert in a very niche aspect of my field in a region I adore. My husband is out of the army and getting started with his post-service career. We talk about kids and buying a house and all of that other adult stuff (married 6 years now). It was scary, but I had a great support system at the time and I had a huge gut feeling that I’d lose him and regret it if I had made a different choice. I was so used to being totally selfish and focusing on my own future – I have no regrets letting myself be a bit vulnerable and putting things aside to be with him. It ended up being selfish anyway, since he makes me super happy – he’s amazing and I’m keepin’ him! Lol

    5. OhBehave*

      My dad was dying of Alzheimer’s. He was in the final stages; sleeping 24 hours, etc. We all agreed to withdraw his feeding tube. He was being kept comfortable and would not feel pain. All of his stats remained even (indicating that he was not feeling pain). He passed away peacefully. Impossible decisions like that are life-changing.

    6. Epsilon Delta*

      When I dumped my first boyfriend. I was terrfied of change and making a mistake, but by that point it was clear that I would be miserable if I stayed with him. And then I started dating Second Boyfriend, who sucked as a boyfriend but was a lot of fun and helped me figure out who I was… and also introduced me to my husband.

      So, yes, dumping the initial boyfriend was one of my more fruitful decisions and also helped me learn to follow that little voice in the back of my head. It knows more than I give it credit for.

  47. Zathras*

    For any fans of opera and/or Baroque music on the thread, I saw a seriously amazing concert performance (really it was almost semi-staged) of Handel’s Ariodante at Carnegie Hall last weekend. The whole thing is available to stream online for free:

    There are subtitles (in English) so you can understand what is going on.

    Even if you’ve never heard an opera, give it a try, you might like it! (And if you do and find it’s not your cup of tea, don’t write off opera completely – ‘opera’ includes many different styles of music spanning hundreds of years, so there may be another kind out there that you do like.)

    1. HannahS*

      Oh thanks! I’ve been taking advantage of “Live at the Met” and seen some incredible operas at my local movie theatre in the past few years. The closest opera companies (and orchestras and baroque ensembles) to me are about an hour and a half away so I don’t go so often.

  48. EA*

    Hello all!

    My boyfriend and I are off to Europe for a week and a half. We are going to Paris, Munich, Innsbruck, and Vienna. All of the hotels are planned, but none of the activities. I studied abroad in france, so I am fine just wandering around and eating a lot. My boyfriend has never been to Europe and needs more activity in a vacation (he doesn’t really like to relax and wants to do a lot of things to maximize the vacation); obviously we will compromise, but does anyone have any suggestions?

    1. TheLazyB*

      English gardens in Munich for sure. Also do report back whether the surfers are still in the river, surfing away next to the “no surfing, danger of death!” signs :) the Chinese tower is a great place to sit with a bretzen (pretzel) and beer!

    2. Spring Flowers*

      In Paris, you can go to Versailles as a day trip. It’s an easy ride out on the RER C (I just did this back in March).

      In Munich, see about heading out into the Bavarian Alps to see Oberammergau or Neuschwanstein Castle.

      1. TheLazyB*

        Oh if you go to the Louvre in Paris check what days is shut. Don’t be like us and walk for ages to get there when it’s not bloody open. I think it was a Tuesday.

    3. Zathras*

      I went to a number of palace type buildings and art museums when I was in Vienna and I liked Schönbrunn and the Kunsthistorisches (Art History) museum best. I think we spent a longish morning going around Schönbrunn, including taking a walk around the grounds, which are nice. You could probably spend a whole week in the art museum if you wanted to. Also, there is an auction house called the Dorotheum which is kind of a neat place to wander around for a bit – it’s a working auction house, but anyone can go in and look at the stuff they have on display.

      If either of you is into military history at all, or even just history really, the Musée de l’Armée (Museum of the Army) in Paris is fantastic. It’s huge, really well organized, and filled with cool artifacts – everything from suits of armor and swords up to modern stuff. I spent almost a whole day there and didn’t see the whole thing. As a bonus it also includes the ridiculously oversized tomb of Napoleon.

      You may know this from when you were there, but the best view in Paris is from the steps in front of Sacre Coeur. In my opinion the view from the Eiffel tower is overrated (and overpriced!) because it is missing the most identifiable landmark of the Paris skyline, which you are standing on. You can walk up to Sacre Coeur and sit on the steps for free.

      1. Grumpy*

        Can you still walk up the Eiffel Tower for very little money? If so, that was fun.

  49. Wrench Turner*

    RECIPE FAILURES! Post your culinary defeats here!
    So I’m doing another slow cooker thing (leek, potato & steak stew with coconut milk) and… it’s off. It smells ok, I bet it will taste ok too but the smoked paprika and blood/iron from the beef turned it an unfortunate shade of pink. I’m not sure I’ll be able to eat this.

    My favorite failure was when I made an octopus stir fry using whole octopus. The ink made it this really unappealing brown/black, and the texture was way off, and the flavor was just wrong. I spent over an hour chopping everything and trying to adjust the taste. The smell alone should have warned me to stop…

    1. Lily Evans*

      The first time I made cupcakes from scratch I bought dark cocoa without realizing it was very different from regular cocoa and they came out bitter! It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out where I went wrong.

      1. Wrench Turner*

        I made that mistake on a candy binge. I saw a huge bar of “baker’s chocolate” and thought I was getting a super deal with the cheap price. One large bite and lesson learned.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I used to have a boyfriend who, due to childhood poverty, would eat practically anything even if he didn’t like it that much. Well, one night I decided to try and replicate my mother’s tuna casserole, which I liked even though I hate mushroom soup.

      I’m not sure what I did wrong, but the result was so bad he took one bite and refused to eat any more. I couldn’t eat it either. It tasted like library paste. I don’t remember what we had instead–probably sandwiches.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Oh yeah, haha one time I made a smoothie with frozen strawberries and some other stuff (I forget what, but it was a weird combo). It tasted okay but it came out this horrible pink-orange shade like puke. I had to close my eyes to drink it!

        1. Tris Prior*

          Ha, this happens to me all the time. I like to throw a big handful or two of spinach into my smoothies. Tastes fine, but I usually have some berries in there too and the drink turns this horrifying shade of brown.

    3. TheLazyB*

      The thermostat on my oven broke and my cake was thoroughly burned on top and thoroughly raw underneath. Wouldn’t have mattered but I had friends over for tea…

    4. The Other Dawn*

      Mine was when I made meatloaf the first time. I just assumed it was a giant meatball so didn’t use a recipe. I made my meatball recipe and for some reason I kept adding ground beef. Eventually I used the whole 5 pound package. I still don’t remember why. So I tried to make it like my mom’s. She would put a block of cheddar in the middle. Well I did that too and finished shaping it. It looked like a massive football. I baked it and the whole thing split down the middle as it cooked and eventually fell apart. It was also swimming in grease because there was so much meat. It actually didn’t taste bad. It was just a big pile of greasy meat and cheese rather than a sliced loaf.

    5. Mrs. Fenris*

      I’m normally a pretty good cook, but awhile back I made a cream sauce. I tried to thicken it with baking powder instead of cornstarch…oh my, am I glad I caught that before anybody ate it. It was a horrible gray color and had a ghastly chemical smell.

    6. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      I tried to make a coconut jello recipe b/c I had coconut milk and plain gelatin. Recipe called for vanilla extract.

      Everything taste-wise was perfect. Just, it never solidified into jello and remained in the consistency of coconut runny liquidy pudding. Plus, the gelatin kept clumping up….

    7. Zathras*

      I was once on a backpacking trip and we had repackaged all our food, as you do. We added what we thought was an additional packet of cheese powder into our Annie’s mac & cheese one evening.

      It was garlic powder. As in, 2+ tablespoons of garlic powder. I love garlic, I put large quantities of garlic in my food, but I could not eat the result without gagging.

      We didn’t have any way to carry that much of it out without getting slimy garlic mac & cheese all over our stuff and possibly attracting bears etc. on subsequent nights. We ended up taking it into the woods far away from our campsite, digging a big hole, and burying it. Not a great thing to do, but the best option we had at the time.

      The weird part was that we never figured out why there was a foil packet of garlic powder in our food supply in the first place. Nobody could remember bringing it.

    8. Jules the First*

      Not my personal fail, but the best one I know of was when my Dad was backpacking with some friends. They made porridge the first morning with instant oats and what they thought was powdered milk….turns out it was instant mashed potato. Filling….

      The one and only time my mom tried making tuna casserole it was so inedible my dad ordered pizza – to a campground. And then, of course, there’s the first time my dad used a propane bbq and incinerated the chicken instead of cooking it….and the night my mom left the oven on grill instead of bake on the time bake setting and, you guessed it, incinerated the chicken instead of cooking it…

      I’ve never actually had an inedible fail, although maybe that says more about my eating habits than my cooking skills!

    9. AdAgencyChick*

      When my husband was still my boyfriend, I decided to throw him a surprise party and cook a bunch of dishes I had never made before. Imagine how well that went!

      I braised some short ribs; I had never braised meat before and I did not realize that you can’t just scale up by throwing more meat in a deep pot; it has to sit in one layer. So I put all the meat in a big pot and added way too much extra liquid, so I ended up with a soupy mess.

      I also tried to make tiramisu. The recipe said to soak the lady fingers in espresso for like a couple of seconds. They didn’t seem to get terribly moist this way, so I figured they needed to soak longer. I ran out of espresso very quickly and bought some more. The resulting dessert was…not a tiramisu. Sog-fest.

      Despite this inauspicious demonstration of my cooking skills, he still married me. I’m a much better cook now :P

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Ha, this reminds me of the time I tried to cook that engagement chicken recipe from a women’s magazine for a long-distance boyfriend. I have this very old stove, a huge Philco from the 1950s. The recipe turned out really good, but the chicken was pretty big and it took HOURS to cook. I started it a couple of hours before I picked him up from the airport (around six or seven) and it was almost ten-thirty before we were able to eat! Needless to say, I didn’t get engaged, which in hindsight is probably for the best!

    10. Overeducated*

      I have had so many! Just today, I tried to use up a disappointing kale Caesar salad* by attempting to bake it into kale chips, but there was too much moisture and I couldn’t find the right temperature to dry them out without burning them. Threw most of them out. Fortunately the soft pretzels and beer cheese dip I also made were far more successful.

      Other recently memorable fails included an eggplant dish from Fuchsia Dunlop, which my dad loved so much he gave me the less common ingredients along with the recipe, which i followed to the letter, but still came out so salty as to be inedible; a chicken and chickpea tikka masala pressure cooker recipe from Serious Eats, which was in a sad thin sauce full of slimy spinach, and which I ate for two meals but couldn’t stomach for a third; and my spouse’s chili, which I ruined for a cookoff by insisting on adding more kidney beans, which turned out not to be all the way cooked because I was just start to learn how to use my pressure cooker. (At least our cornbread got devoured and complimented by many, though.)

      *spouse tried out a bag of pre – chopped kale to save time, but the pieces were too big and with stems compared to when I used to do it by hand in the pre – kid days – so it was kind of two fails in one. That seems like a tag line for marriage almost!

    11. CAA*

      Well, there was the time when I was a teenager and used cayenne instead of paprika. My siblings are never going to let me live that one down.

      There have been other occasions where I was halving or thirdsing a recipe and forgot to cut an ingredient. For main dishes this usually doesn’t matter that much, but it’s really bad if you’re baking. I’ve learned to actually write out the correct amounts.

      Lately I’ve been trying to learn to make macarons, but I have not yet succeeded in getting a nice foot on them and sometimes they crack on top. They still taste good even though they don’t look quite right, so I don’t consider them a complete failure.

    12. Chaordic One*

      When living in the Rocky Mountains I had a terrible time adjusting my recipes for cakes and souffles so that they would not collapse. (You reduce the amount of baking powder and sugar and increase the amount of liquid and the temperature. Things still tasted O.K., but it bugs me when they aren’t perfect.

      There was the time that my sister attempted jambalaya. I don’t know what she did but it tasted terrible, like it was too sweet. Like many culinary failures that went uneaten, we fed it to our dog. And he threw it up.

      1. Zathras*

        This is neither my story nor exactly a fail, but this reminded me of a particularly hilarious episode of Car Talk where a guy called in because his bread machine was no longer produced good bread using the same recipe he’d always used. Why he thought Car Talk was his best bet I have no idea, but the guys eventually did come up with the right answer. The caller had moved from New Orleans to Flagstaff (? somewhere higher and dryer, anyway) and needed to adjust for different elevation and different moisture content in the flour.

        1. Zathras*

          Ugh, “was no longer producing” or “no longer produced”, pick your favorite. Proofreading fail.

      2. Wrench Turner*

        I am FASCINATED by the effect elevation changes have on recipes. I wish I had an expensive pressure controlled lab just to experiment with this.

        Also dog barf is always hilarious.

    13. Accidental Analyst*

      As a kid I used to make chocolate cake. One time I called mum over as the batter looked pale. She asked about which cocoa I used. I said the one from the glass jar that said cocoa and had brown powder. Turns out that was Gravox…

    14. Thlayli*

      Not really a “recipe” failure but a good failure nonetheless:

      I once spent almost two hours making a batch of homemade baby food including breastmilk as an ingredient and then dropped it just as I was putting it in the freezer and it splashed all over the floor and my favourite shoes.

      Luckily about 2/3 of it was ok and my shoes were washable.

      1. Thlayli*

        *food failure

        Also I just remembered the time I put the toasted cheese too close to the grill and it burst into flames. And the time I accidentally set the oven to self clean instead of fan and my fish burst into flames.

    15. No, please*

      Not mine, but our family story is the time mom made gravy for fried chicken and biscuits. I took a bite and asked if she had added sugar to the gravy. She said she used canned milk – and then her face just sank. She ran to the kitchen and realized it was sweetened condensed milk, not regular canned milk. So funny, to us at least!