{ 1,019 comments… read them below }

  1. persimmon*

    Dating app advice, anyone? Four or five years ago, I was on OkCupid and felt like I had the process down: choose a person, swap 5-6 email-style messages over a few days or a week or two, set up coffee or drinks if interested. Now, I’m trying out the newer apps that are more like texting than emailing (Tinder, Hinge, etc.) and I can’t seem to translate them into any dates. I find messaging to be pretty boring and like the idea of going on a bunch of dates even if they turn out to be a mixed bag–so maybe I am pushing to meet up too quickly? Or not answering messages fast enough? (Does it need to be a real-time text “conversation”?) For anyone who has used these apps with some modest success I would love to hear how it usually goes for you.

    1. KatieKate*

      Try and make plans immediately. Anytime, on any dating site, where we message back and forth forever an actual date never happens.

      1. FDCA In Canada*

        Oh yes, definitely. Making plans immediately always turned out better for me. I once got sucked into a long back-and-forth message chain with a guy and it seemed awesome, and then I met him in person and he was not as attractive as his picture, had atrocious table manners, was somehow incredibly boring, and told me he wasn’t all that into the sushi we were eating as the sushi he made at home, which was chopped-up pickles wrapped up with Minute Rice in tortillas.

        I am now happily married to a guy I met online, and we met after exchanging a few brief messages, and it has worked out very well for us.

      2. Kat*

        Sometimes, but I would say also keep a good degree of caution and if you’re not OK with meeting so soon, don’t do it. I never feel comfortable doing that because I just like to know someone at least a bit better first. I appreciate it doesn’t always work out, but the last guy I met on Tinder and I didn’t meet for two months after our first exchange and we’re still seeing each other.

    2. scared of tinder*

      I’m so bad at these. My friend convinced me to download Tinder this week, and I have 40 matches and idk what to do next. I was really just curious and not interested in hooking up/dating anyone (recently out of a long term relationship) but I’ve enjoyed chatting with some guys. I wouldn’t mind meeting up for a beer just to have some social interaction but I think that using the app already sets the wrong tone! I should just delete it :/

      1. Lisa Redetzke*

        I’ve been on POF for 7 years, never any luck. They want f- buddies or a date & ghost s41tuation.
        My sister was meeting men at a bar, basic meat market. Wanted something more serious, met a POF guy who lived with her for 2 years (broke up when his unemployment ran out), a coworker has a boyfriend living w/her, & another friend had a brady bunch-style marriage except she worked & he didn’t.
        Two weeks ago, I got back on POF & the last guy, whom I’d only texted for one week, told me, via text, “I doubt if I’m working….but it would be nice to see you maybe I can get a place half way between us and we can chill together”.
        Wtf?! And I thought my ex who I knew as a job acquaintance for one year, friends for 3 months, on & off bcbs for the past three years was bad!
        I will stick w/chance meetings, mutual friend introductions & friending guys at work. F online dating!

        1. Anon Accountant*

          Yes I’m so fed up with the crap of online with the wanting only a hookup, finding out he’s in another relationship, or the sudden ghosting are a few dates.

          Right now I’m working on meeting friends, asking for mutual friend introductions, taking up exercise classes and tennis, and a few new hobbies like tennis.

          I liked Eharmony but so few guys my age were on there in a reasonable distance.

      2. Internet social*

        Yeah, I think that Tinder isn’t exclusively a hookup app, but if you’re 100% sure you don’t want to hook up or date anyone, it probably isn’t the way to go. Could you try Meetup, or other sorts of social groups?

    3. nutella fitzgerald*

      I have the same exact problem! It’s like some rapid evolution happened over the years I wasn’t looking for someone to go out with, and now I’m being Darwined out of the dating pool :(

    4. NaoNao*

      I think it’s possible to translate “swiping” apps into dating, but very rare.
      I would pursue a multi-pronged approach. OKC for the long-form dating options, and then Tinder, Hinge, Bumble, etc for more…entertainment or fun. If you’re up for it, perhaps make your first message (after “hi”) an invite to meet up.
      Something like: “Texting on a phone is so hard—you want to take a chance and grab a coffee?”
      You can also fill your calendar with fun events (cultural, sports, etc) so that you can ask guys out right away and have something specific planned. (Or girls, or whomever!!) “Hey, hitting up the Sportsball game at 7 tonight, would you like to meet me there?”
      I do feel online dating has really, really changed. I had moderate success on it 4 years ago with OKC and Tinder. Then after a breakup in 2016 I went back on—hoo boy. It was the wild west, even on “female friendly” apps like Bumble.
      People are getting really frustrated with the flakes and no shows and bots, and it shows in their profiles and responses.
      I’d also branch out to speed dating, events, singles groups, meetups, things like that. Online dating *can* work, but for many of us, it’s so much more trouble than its worth.

      1. Buffy*

        I don’t have any firsthand experience, but my best friend met his boyfriend-now-fiancé on Tindr! I also have a female friend who seems to only get really graphic messages.

    5. Gala apple*

      I recently started using Coffee Meets Bagel and I think it’s pretty good. I like that both parties have to show interest to start a chat, there’s a limited pool of profiles you see each day, and the actual chat window is only open for a week, so it pushes more to in person meetings. I have a date in 2 weeks, and had some good chats otherwise.

    6. Natalie*

      Honestly, I’d switch back to OKC or Match if you actually want to date people. The swiping apps are like a game for some folks and in experience, rarely led to dates, much less second dates.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      I got nothing. I’m done with this. The sites start off matching with age range, and I prefer younger men, but I always get matched with elderly men looking for a caretaker. As a younger-looking 52, I’m to them like a 25-year-old is to a 45-year-old. :P

      FWIW my age range is about 35-45. I’ll consider up to 50 if the guy takes good care of himself, but the older men around here tend not to. They all look like Santa. :( And most of the younger guys around here are either too young (20s) for anything lasting or to be interested in me or they aren’t my type at all. I’ve dated outside type, but it’s not just looks; it’s also attitudes, politics, etc. Or, they’re married because everybody here gets married at frickin’ 12.

      My range is not for vanity reasons; I tend to have more of the same interests as guys in that range. But the sites don’t work the way it works IRL. You can meet someone in person whom you might blow right by online and still find them attractive.

  2. FDCA In Canada*

    Alison, I just want to thank you for the book recommendations! I’ve gotten so many wonderful books that way, and several more on my list. I just finished Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, which was charming and sweet and wholly engrossing. I’ve gotten such great recs from everyone else here that it’s been a real boon to my reading! I’m sure my library is sick of my ILL requests already.

    I’m going on vacation (well, sort of) to visit my in-laws in a couple of weeks, and I plan on doing nothing at all besides reading and doing blog book reviews and relaxing. Everyone, what are your best summer book recommendations? I love historical fiction, nice long doorstop books that are totally engrossing, and anything best suited to being read in the park with a cold glass of sparkling water. I also plan on searching back through old open threads for more book recommendations–honestly, getting an ereader felt like a huge betrayal, but my library here is very small and poorly-equipped, so my choices are ILL (and a long wait sometimes), or taking advantage of their ebook collection and borrowing that way.

    1. Authoria*

      Just did some historical fiction recs downthread in response to Bored and Confused. Your vacation sounds fabulous!

    2. JayeRaye*

      Historical fiction is one of my favorites! A few of my favorite doorstops in that genre are:
      The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
      The Alienist by Caleb Carr (the sequel Angel of Darkness is pretty fabulous too)
      Anything Donna Tartt has ever written. Ever.
      And if you like real history that reads like a novel, Erik Larson is your guy.
      I hope some of those help, and have a wonderful vacation!

      1. Bri*

        Michelle Moran is amazing she basically moves to different countries then writes about her new homes historical heroines. I think her last one about Mata Hari was the weakest and would start with literally any of her other books.

    3. katamia*

      It’s been a long time since I’ve read this, but you could try Margaret George’s The Memoirs of Cleopatra, which I loved in middle/high school. She’s also written a couple other books I never read because I was less interested in the time period.

      Colleen McCullough is good, too.

    4. Teach*

      Summer Before the War by the same author as Pettigrew is amazing and a perfect summer read.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      anything best suited to being read in the park with a cold glass of sparkling water

      I laughed at this because I don’t know what it means. I’d read a seriously gross horror novel in the park with a cold glass of water, LOL.

    6. Margali*

      ” I love historical fiction, nice long doorstop books that are totally engrossing…” Sharon Kay Penman’s The Sunne In Splendour, or her Welsh Trilogy: Here Be Dragons, Falls the Shadow and The Reckoning.

    7. Liane*

      A non-s/f & fantasy* favorite of mine is the autobiographies of Aline, Countess of Romanones, a US model turned WW2 spy turned noblewoman. I’ve read her first 3–The Spy Wore Red, The Spy Went Dancing, & The Spy Wore Silk. Just went to Amazon to make sure I had the titles correct and found out she wrote more books! Yay!

      *because I always mention those on these threads

    8. Searching*

      I just finished “The Last Painting of Sara de Vos” and loved it! It takes place in 17th century Holland, 1950s New York, and 2000 Sydney. I read it in 3 days, it was so good. It is fiction, but based on some solid research about 17th century Dutch Women Master Painters, so will satisfy your historical fiction craving.

  3. Ask a Manager* Post author

    We bought a house! (And that’s why there’s no book recommendation or photo this week; it has been an exhausting week.) There are woods in the back, and we love it. Also, I won’t have to work from the living room couch anymore. I can have an actual office.

    Now we have to put our current place on the market, which I’m dreading. Apparently norms have changed since the last time I sold a place, and now (at least in our area) the expectation is that you’ll move half of your belongings out before you start showing the house so that it looks half-empty and can be more easily staged. My real estate agent says that to do this, people use those pods that show up at your house, you load them, and then they go away and are stored until you need them back. This sounds like a huge pain, but I’ve resigned myself to it. (And she’s right that all the houses we looked at appeared to have done this.) Anyway, I would welcome advice from people on this stage of the process — and especially on ways to keep your house in showable condition when it’s on the market, especially when you work from home and have cats.

    1. Jessesgirl72*

      How hot is your real estate market, and how much will the Pod cost (plus staging) versus how much more you can expect to get for the house with it staged instead of unstaged?

      I know Realtors, and they want things perfect. Like ours came in to do a walk through so we can do things to get ready to put the house on the market when the baby is no longer a newborn, and he wants all new paint colors and light fixtures. But then I see houses sell in 2 days that are full of junk and have avocado green carpet and weird paint colors, and I think- and why are we doing all this work again? ;) (And also, when we bought the house 4 years ago, he praised things he now wants us to change…)

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        It’s a pretty good real estate market. Comparable houses in my area have sold in an average of 11 days. (That said, they all appear to have done the pod thing.) It’ll definitely sell regardless, but I want to go as quickly as possible because I hate the period where it’s on the market so very much. So given that, I’m willing to throw money at the problem to make it go faster.

        1. the gold digger*

          So if you are willing to throw money at it, do you want to throw

          1. Time, hassle, and cash of moving stuff into a pod (although really, you have to move stuff out anyhow) or
          2. Cash in the form of a price that you know will sell?

          I probably could have gotten $5,000 more for my house, but after just three days of having to leave at a moment’s notice (seriously, people – can’t you plan further in advance?), I was happy to be done. My realtor suggested a price that would sell and I had two full-price offers in three days. It was so worth $5,000 not to have to deal with the process for any longer than three days.

      2. joanne*

        We used PODS when we moved. Our house wasn’t cluttered when we put it up for sale, although there were six of us living in 1150 sq ft (plus an attic and basement). It took two large pods and some cars to move all our stuff. One pod we filled and then had delivered to my mil’s house for free storage. The other stayed at the house until settlement and we had that moved first to our new house. The company we worked with was very flexible and very easy to work with. They were up front about all our costs and even recommended to store at family member’s home if possible to save storage fees. We could unload at our convenience. It was a very positive experience for my family because we didn’t have to worry about all our stuff on trucks or in moving vans over night or even packing and unpacking in one day. It was a lot less stressful than I had ever imagined it to be and I highly recommends PODS.

    2. PDX Native*

      Our realtor had us box up the personal stuff & put it in the garage along with our oversized dining room table & some of the ugly furniture. His take was that people”get” moving in stages and that a full garage doesn’t discourage buyers. It was a reasonable balance for us. We sold almost immediately but the market was so hot then, you didn’t have to do much to sell.

    3. FDCA In Canada*

      When we were showing our home we had two cats who had a tendency to strew toys everywhere, so we ended up cutting way back on the toys that were available and invested in a few nice-looking baskets. That way we could do a mad dash, pick up a bunch of stray things and plonk them in baskets, and it looked way more put together.

      Taking away a bunch of the stuff definitely helps keep things neater! What we did was actually commit to the things you should do all the time–clean up immediately after dinner instead of leaving dishes in the sink, take 15-20 minutes every night to pick up all the stray daily living stuff that got left everywhere and put it where it belongs, etc. For me keeping the bathrooms and kitchens clean was the trickiest part, so I put away absolutely everything I didn’t need on a daily basis into cupboards, and made myself a checklist before leaving for work–did I put away my makeup and hair straightener and junk? Did I put the clean dishes away and the Lysol bottle? Did I clean off the kitchen table? We already made the bed every day, but I’d make sure it looked “nice,” and I didn’t leave clothes hanging around on the hooks on the wall.

      When we were having a showing, I would run around picking up the cat toys and shoes and other assorted stuff and my husband would run the dry Swiffer around to collect the cat hair from the floors and maybe run a quick dust rag over the tables. Picked up the bathrooms and ran a Lysol wipe over the counters and sinks for any stray hairs or muck. Straighten up the first thing people will see, whether it’s the kitchen or living room or whatever, because first impressions are a big deal, and maybe have something nice? Bowl of fruit or flowers? We liked to leave the windows open so there was a breeze and fresh air, but if you have A/C that probably won’t help. A few times we packed up the cats into their carriers and took them with us, but that was a small nightmare, so we just cautioned our realtor to be really really really really careful with the doors, and it was fine.

      It’s nice to come home to a show-quality clean home, but my God it’s a lot of work to keep up with daily. Luckily ours was only on the market a couple of weeks, and after that we and the cats were thrilled to be able to leave our stuff around like normal people again.

    4. blackcat*

      When I bought a few years ago in a market where that was also the norm, the current owner of my house simply bought tons of plastic bins and packed her belongings in tight in a corner of the basement. Any way you could do something similar?

      It will be easier to keep the house in showable condition if there’s less clutter, too, so even though moving a bunch of stuff out is a pain, it’ll save some later pain.

      Too, I bet you can put your stuff in the POD and have it stored until you are moving into your new place and have it delivered there. Then you may be able to get away with a smaller truck for your remaining stuff.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yeah, that last part was exactly my plan — to just have it stored in the pods until we move. I love the bin idea, except our agent recommends getting two large cat stands out of the house, so I figure we’re going to have to use a pod regardless so might as well put it all in there.

        1. blackcat*

          Ah, got it. And I assume the cat stands don’t disassemble easily–if they did, then you could take them apart to store them without something like a pod. But it sounds like the pod is in your future…

          No matter what, I do recommend the bins for moving, if you’ll be packing & unpacking stuff yourself. It’s much easier to unpack if you can see inside! And you can stack them inside of each other when not in use after you move.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I am totally hiring packers. Last time I moved, I promised myself I would hire packers the next time, and I am so looking forward to that part.

            1. Wendy*

              I grew up in the military – packers are the way to go. BUT – any items of great sentimental value, whether fragile or not – I still recommend packing yourself.

            2. msroboto*

              Unpacking is a nice thing too. I did that and though on the unpack they only place the items on the counter or table you will be amazed at how quickly your kitchen comes together when you can just place the dishes in the cabinet.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Oooooh! I had wondered about unpacking — it seemed like they’d put your stuff in places you might not want it. If they just take it out of the boxes and leave it stacked neatly for you, I’m going to do that too. That really takes away one more sucky thing about the process.

                1. Fiennes*

                  Usually they just unpack the stuff in the room where you want it but otherwise leave it out for you to arrange. This is rather chaotic for the first couple days–but less so than unpacking yourself, and IMO arranging stuff in its new places is the only part of moving that approaches “fun.”

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Yeah, that actually sounds pretty great.

                  We are moving from a two-bedroom townhouse to a five-bedroom detached house with way more rooms than we have now (the new one has two living rooms — why? I don’t know) so we’re going to have about 1/4 of the furniture we need to fill it. I’m looking forward to doing that slowly though.

                3. FDCA In Canada*

                  We’ve had packers and unpackers–you want to be really, really careful about the unpacking process, because with some places if you unpack yourself they won’t accept liability for anything broken during the move. Every time we’ve had them unpack it’s been mostly just having them literally put stuff out of boxes and piled on every available surface. I think the worst was the kitchen–yes, everything was unpacked, but the counters, stove, table, everything was covered in everything a kitchen can vomit up, which feels like A LOT. The closet stuff was pretty bad, too. And be ultra careful: when they say everything they mean everything, I know families who have had garbage cans full of trash carefully taped, packed, and moved many thousands of kilometers, only to greet them with a disgusting surprise.

                4. NotoriousMCG*

                  I’ve only moved with packers/unpackers once (corporate move) and while it was nice not to have to do the physical part of it I honestly liked it a lot less due to the lack of control on my part. They wouldn’t let me pack anything ahead of time so for weeks while I would usually be putting things in boxes to prep for the move I was relegated to just moving things to the general area of the things they belonged with so that when the guys got there they could rapid fire throw everything randomly in a box for me? And even though I repeatedly told them not to move my husband’s music equipment (each time they passed it they would try to take it and I’d have to remind them – no this whole corner of things stay) I looked away for a little bit and they took an acoustic guitar and a drum. Both got warped because the truck was not climate controlled.

            3. Jessesgirl72*

              And when we had packers (because corporate relocation insisted) is the one and only time I had things broken! And I couldn’t find anything (they put sheets and towels in a box, tossed a belt and a clothes hanger on top, and labeled the box clothes hangers/belts! For real) So be prepared for that to not be as great as you imagine. And this was our 8th move, so I thought I’d love it!

              I can never decide whether it is best to start or end with books though- they pack so fast, so it’s good to get that feeling of accomplishment, but we have 30+ boxes of them, so it gets really old and then there is everything else to pack.

              We have always hired movers, though, and they are worth every dime!

              1. Earl Grey is my BFF*

                My next move (please not for a long time) I think I’m going to hire packers on one end, rent a truck, drive it myself, and hire unpackers. I like driving; I loathe packing and unpacking. I think it will be less expensive.

                I’d probably do the sentimental stuff on my own though.

            4. Gentle One*

              Advice based on experience–before the movers come to pack, empty all trash cans you plan to take, throw out half empty cereal boxes, one tissue left boxes, etc. The movers will pack those things very carefully, trash in the bins and all!

              And if you are coffee or tea drinkers, pack the coffee pot/tea kettle and tea pot, relevant supplies and cups, spoons, etc. in your car. I spent the better part of a day searching through packed boxes for my coffee maker, cups, and coffee after the unloading!

              1. AcademiaNut*

                If you”re moving locally, I’d reserve a box or two and a suitcase of the small things you’ll need in the first day or two – coffee maker, some cups, a set of sheets and towels, pillows, some toilet paper and tissues, some cleaning supplies, toiletries, pyjamas and a few days of clothing, and take it yourself in the car.

        2. Jessesgirl72*

          When we had one rental, and they were showing it while we lived there, the landlord complained that people commented on our huge cat stand and were distracted by it instead of looking at the house. So that one I have experience with.

    5. Merci Dee*

      Congrats on the new house! I’m so excited for you!

      I have no idea how the staging will go with cats in the home. Everything I’ve seen says that litter boxes need to disappear for showing, but I find that totally unrealistic. Because having cat poop on the floor is a more attractive alternative….? Maybe you could find something to put up in front of the cat area. Like a nice folding screen,or something along those lines.

      I hope the sale and your eventual move goes smoothly. I don’t envy all the packing, cleaning, and trashing you’re going to do!

      1. FDCA In Canada*

        Geez, that seems like a horrible pain–and on top of that we frequently had showings during the workday when we were both away, and couldn’t have gotten home to put the pans somewhere anyway. We settled for scooping the boxes morning and evening and taking out the trash daily as well.

      2. Paula, with Two Kids*

        Ours are near a garage, so they will go in the garage for a showing. Also have 3 dog crates that have to be dragged outside for showings. I’ve got another month before this process really takes off and I have to do all this. Not looking forward to it.

        On the plus side, I’ve really gotten rid of a LOT of clutter.

      3. Teach*

        We purchased new litter boxes and were diligent about constant scooping and sweeping. We also had blankets over the couches and washed, newish, neutral bedspreads and pillows in the closets.
        When we got the call that people were coming to view the house, the clean spreads and pillows went on beds, boxes were scooped, all trash (litter, kitchen, bathroom) went way outside to the lidded cans, one kid grabbed the couch blankets and folded them up in the car trunk, and another kid swiped a clean rag with multi-purpose cleaner on tables, counters, sinks, etc.
        This was after a deep clean, deep de-cluttering, and pre-packing things that we didn’t use very often (kitchen appliances, extra pots and pans, off-season clothes, decorations, etc. The small book boxes at Hobby Lobby are great – you can’t pack them so full that you can’t carry them easily!). Daily cleaning and making sure the house was pretty near perfect every morning and before bed were exhausting. The cats mostly hid from people, but we thought about borrowing a very large dog pen to close them in. (Not like a carrier but a wire box enclosure that could have a small box, food, bed, etc.)
        I figured that everyone coming to see our house was watching House Hunters on HGTV every night like we were, so I tried to emulate the houses shown there – very neutral, few furnishings, empty surfaces, etc.

    6. Teapot Project Manager*

      We last bought/sold a house in 2010 but i cam attest that it did help. We were fortunate in that my husband owns a business and rents a shop and he had enough storage space in the abovr the vehiclr bay so we didn’t have to rent a pod

    7. Episkey*

      I work for a real estate agent and she will do a walk-through and make suggestions, but I have never heard her tell anyone they have to empty out half their house with a POD! If the people have a lot of knick knacks and/or clutter, she will usually suggest they try to box some of that stuff up and store in the garage or basement…but not 1/2 their house! FWIW. We are in a medium-affluent suburb of Chicago.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Well, not really half. Mainly just get rid of clutter, clear off all surfaces, and move out any ungainly objects (for us, that’s two cat stands). I do think she’d like it if we’d move out more stuff than that because emptier is better, but I suppose “half” is hyperbole. It is definitely true, though, that all the houses we looked at as buyers were really emptied out in a way that you wouldn’t normally see. They still had furniture, but it was fairly minimal. Nothing extra beyond the core stuff for living, if that makes sense.

        1. KAZ2Y5*

          I did this and it definitely makes your house look better. But in all honesty I was laid off and had 2 months before I needed to move back home so I had 2 months to clear out my house (at least 17 loads to Goodwill and one large pickup by Habitat for Humanity!). When I put my house on the market I just had the main furniture and a few knick-knacks. And then my dog and I headed home.
          I’m not sure how your housing market is, but I ended up buying in one of the strongest seller’s market in the country (good for them, bad for me!). If it makes sense for your situation, I would honestly go to a hotel the first weekend your house is on the market and board your cats.
          I looked at one house with cats in it and was so scared that we would let them out by mistake! We made sure we could account for each cat before we left. And another house I bid on (but didn’t get) the owners put the house on the market on Friday, left for the weekend and told everyone they would take bids until Sunday pm. I was one of 13 people bidding….
          Good luck and I hope your house sells quickly!

    8. Wendy*

      If you don’t have one already, a Roomba or similar robot vacuum is great for cat hair and kitty litter with minimal effort. Also, a cat litter deodorizer might be helpful. Even if you don’t normally have cat litter odors, it can provide the extra odor killing boost if you sprinkle it on the litter right before a showing.

    9. Mimmy*

      No advice since we’ve never been in this position (though I am dreading the day it needs to be done!), but I just wanted to wish you congrats and best of luck with the process!

    10. Christy*

      Congratulations! I’m so curious to know what neighborhood you decided on, but I understand if you don’t want to tell us.

      A question: when you say “we bought a house”, do you mean that you are now under contract for a house? When we bought our condo, I was very careful not to say we’d bought it until after closing. But I’m super unsure of what the norms are there. We still haven’t told the general world because it feels like bragging? Being able to buy at 28 around here is a huge privilege.

      Is your purchase contingent on selling your current place? Because I would think that if you can wait until after closing, then you could just have movers move the unsightly bits to the new house in one go. And if there’s any chance you can move yourselves and the cats before selling, that’s probably the way to go.

      My mom had her house on the market for approximately forever. It’s definitely a spartan existence, though she nows prefers it that way. Remember to mostly empty your closets, too, since a packed closet will make buyers think they’re too small. In terms of keeping it showable, you just have to create a daily checklist for yourself so it never gets too bad. Always keep it close to showable and it’ll never be too much work to show it.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes, we’re under contract; the closing is later this summer. It’s not contingent on selling the current place, but I want to time them closely together enough that we’re not paying two mortgages for months and months. So my plan is to just have a month or so of overlap (which I’ll use for painting the new place while it’s empty, etc.) … which means it’ll need to go on the market before we’re out.

        Neighborhood — near Lake Barcroft but not actually in it. Still lots of trees, which is what I really liked about that area.

        1. Christy*

          Definitely understand that! We were forced into a month of overlap thanks to the way giving notice at our apartment works, and it’s nice to have the overlap time. The paying double mortgages/rent thing is a pain, but what helped us (emotionally) is that the first month’s PITI and condo fees are all in closing costs for us, so we’re only writing our rent check. (I also forget that usually people move more than one mile from their previous residence so it’s not a five minute drive back and forth.)

          And congrats on the neighborhood! Our new/old neighborhood has a ton of trees and it’s wonderful.

        2. bunniferous*

          You may already know this but I am throwing this out there for others-closing dates are never set in stone. Plan for delays. It is great if you do not have a delay, not so great if you think you will be having people in to paint and recarpet weekend after a closing but instead find out-nope, closing a week and a half late! (I sell foreclosures and I am privy to all the buyer agent headaches caused by slow loan officers, slow repair people, buyer problems, paperwork problems, and TRID issues. The latter triggers automatic three day delays to *protect the consumer*. Yep.)

        3. Kara Zor-El*

          Welcome, new neighbor! My husband and I just bought a house near Lake Barcroft as well (Sleepy Hollow). I’m in love with all the trees in the neighborhood and our backyard. :)

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Oh my goodness! We fell in love with a house in Sleepy Hollow and agonized about whether or not to buy it. It was right on Sleepy Hollow Road and we ultimately decided there was too much traffic in front of it, but I love that area.

            1. Kara Zor-El*

              Ah yeah, I know that area, I wouldn’t want to deal with that traffic either! It is definitely a beautiful area though. And so many delicious Korean & Vietnamese restaurants nearby!

    11. paul*

      any chance you can move some of your stuff to the other house early? Even just a few pieces of furniture, then box up bric-a-brack and store it out of sight in a closet?

    12. Anono-me*


      I’m a dog person, so I’m not sure how this would apply to cats. When I was showing my house, I had my dog stay with family for the duration. She found it very upsetting to have strangers in the house without me there. Also, it was easier to keep the house show ready.

      I ate a lot of salads in a bag off of a lot of paper plates. That way I didn’t have much to take care of in the kitchen.

      I also stored all of my small valuables, all of my important papers and all my good jewelry at a friends place.

      I kept my medications and my laptop in my dirty clothes hamper. That way any time there was a showing, I just had to grab the basket and go.

      Most people have three boxes at any given time while packing; trash, charity, and stuff for the new home . We actually have discovered it works best for us with five boxes. We also have an undecided box. Moving is stressful enough, if we’re not sure about something, it goes in the undecided box. If we have time before the move we go through the undecided box. If not, oh well, it goes to the new house. Where it will either be gone through in the next six months, or donated sight unseen at the end of that time . The fifth box is the key box or critical box. All of the remote controls go in there, all of the cables, powe cords, all of the nuts and bolts, and all of the clock pendulum and winding keys. Everything in this box is in a clearly labeled individual ziplock bag. And this box itself is clearly labeled and marked with bright colored tape.

      I like having lots of extension cords for the new house. I find it’s easier to plug in an extension cord (that may never be used) before the sideboard is delivered then it is to realize a month later that I want a lamp on the sideboard but I can’t reach the outlet and that sideboard weighs ten bazillion tons.

      Good luck. I hope everything goes quickly and smoothly.

      1. BooksNCooks*

        Seconding the critical box! When we moved across country, this box went in the car with us. We also put some “get us up and running” stuff in there–basic tool set, a set of clean sheets for each bed, some bath towels, hotel soaps and shampoo, paper towels, toilet paper, paper plates, plastic silverware, lightbulbs. We figured that way we’d at least have enough stuff right to hand with us to get everyone clean, fed, and into bed on the first night in our new home with a minimum of digging through various boxes.

    13. Gentle One*

      Advice from the best seller’s realtor ever–if your linen closet is messy, go to a good department store, see how they have the sheets and towels folded for display, and make your linen closet look as much like that as you can. Also–if one of the rooms (usually an interior bathroom) has no natural light, buy a small lamp, and turn it on (if you are there) or leave it on (if you aren’t). My wonderful realtor told me that people just instinctively don’t like looking or going into a dark room, even if the light switch is right there.

    14. Not So NewReader*

      Alison, you can ignore this if you wish. I was wondering what kind of house you ended up with. Is it old or more modern era? What grabbed you guys about the house?

      Congratulations on your new home and wishing you both many happy years there.

    15. msroboto*

      I just remembered another moving thing that was not apparent to me until I did an inter-state move. When they did move across state lines they did what I will call an inventoried move. They put a tag on each box or loose item and keep a list of what they are. At the other end they have you or they will check off the items. Then if you are missing an item you can go look for it.
      I don’t know if the bigger local movers do this but it does give you piece of mind that everything made it.

    16. Sandra Dee*

      I just did this a couple months ago, but with 3 dogs, instead of cats, and two of the dogs were large (Lab and German Shepherd). They would stay in the garage while I was gone, or if I was able, take them out of the house for showings, but the whole process stressed them out. I was downsizing, so I had a couple of empty rooms, which helped in the decluttering phase. I didn’t get a contract on the old house until I actually moved into the new place. Had a contract within 5 days of moving out. I am convinced the dogs were a distraction. Only had one month of two mortgage payments. The market here (middle Tennessee) is crazy, and things are selling quickly, at full price, and zero contingencies, except the home inspection, and limited repairs after the inspection. Good luck and hope everything goes smoothly.

    17. LostCause*

      Welcome to the hell that has been my life for the past 8 months. Super slow market.

      I cut it down to bare essentials furniture-wise. Well, everything actually. And it sucks.

      Keeping the house showing ready is mentally exhausting. I used to bring the cats and their litter boxes to my neighbor’s garage and lock them in there during showings. All cat stuff was hidden away.

      I’ve been letting cleaning slide since it had been so long. I do require 2hrs notice before last minute showings. My realtor is ok with it. I can clean everything in an hour and mop last, so it all works out.

      Good luck.

    18. Icecreamroll*

      We loved our pods! They deliver it right up to your door, you take as much time as you need to fill it, then they take it away until you want to unload it. It was easier to fill than our moving truck, and when it was delivered to our new house we took 2-3 weeks before we empitied it-we finished painting every room. The price was cheaper than using a storage facility, and when we did move, we were able to do it ourselves with a rented truck.

    19. Swingbattabatta*

      Speaking of moving, does anyone have any advice on a Canada –> US move? We are moving to a city 2 hours away, but the only wrinkle is that its cross-border. It seems as though it’d cost us a ton of money to use a company, because it is technically international, but that means we are going to have to rent a truck and figure out all of the labor on our own. Not ideal.

      1. msroboto*

        The moving companies will provide labor for a price of course on both ends. The only issue would be that you would need to deal with two moving companies but that shouldn’t be too difficult. They will pack your rental truck.
        When I moved from Massachusetts to Georgia the inter-state moving company contracted with local guys for the labor and I think you could do that as well.

    20. ..Kat..*

      My big recommendation: go through your house, including closets, and get rid of anything you no longer want/need. Give it to Goodwill or some other charity. Take pictures to document what you donated. Use the “It’s Deductible” software at tax time (don’t value stuff yourself; people always overestimate the value of their stuff). Then you have a nice tax deduction. Also, you won’t pay to move stuff you no longer want. Win, win. And your new home won’t fill with “instant ” clutter.

    21. Bazinga*

      Well, it’s a nightmare. We did this with 4 dogs. Also used a Pod. Added benefit of a lot of stuff already being packed and ready for the move.
      Paper plates. Eat out. Straighten up and dust daily. Have cleaning wipes to do a fast swipe around
      Decluttering also makes this easier.
      We packed all our photos, etc. It does make the house look bigger!!

  4. MissDisplaced*

    Removed because work-related, but you can post this in the Friday work open thread.

  5. Free Meerkats (formerly Gene)*

    The visit to South Dakota is going great. Met up with a Navy friend I haven’t seen in iron since 79 for dinner yesterday; meeting the elementary school classmate I saw in Tucson in February for lunch today. The soirie is this evening, they say they’ve gotten over 400 RSVPs.

    Having fun, but either my allergies are really acting up, or I caught the crud. It’s hard to sleep when one is coughing every few minutes.

  6. Meemzi*

    My boyfriend of 3 1/2 years passed away this week.

    Friends and family are taking care of me very well.

    Any tips, books, resources? I’ve never lost anyone.

    I would especially appreciate books and resources (& whatever else) that address schizophrenia and suicide. Thank you.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I am so sorry for your loss.

      A friend of mine lost her partner a few months back and found a wonderful support network by attending something called Camp Widow.

    2. Sunflower*

      I am so so sorry. I don’t have a ton but ‘How to Survive the Loss of a Love’ is a great book. It has a lot of small passages which make it easier to pick up and put down when you need it.

    3. Stacy*

      I’m so sorry. Companion Through the Darkness helped me through a sudden traumatic loss years ago. I still keep a copy, because just knowing it is there if I need it is reassuring.

    4. kms1025*

      Very sorry for your loss…words don’t really express it, but all we have…may your pain diminish and time go by more quickly as you learn a new normal coexisting with your memories.

    5. west MI represent*

      I just lost a friend to suicide this week. I don’t think I have anything helpful to add other than that I’m so sorry. There really are no words to describe the hole left behind. I’m filled with SO many why questions, and so many morbid thoughts about how. It’s a brain itch I can’t stop scratching, and I know I’ll never get the answers. I hope you can find some peace in happy memories of the two of you. Just please don’t blame yourself. He was sick. You wouldn’t blame yourself if he passed from cancer, and it’s the same thing. It’s easier to act like some action or words would have changed the outcome, because the alternative is accepting that this was our of our control (which is a horrifying thought). I sincerely hope you are able to find comfort in your life again.

      1. Meemzi*

        I’m sorry to hear that. There really aren’t words. I have some of those questions too.

        I’m holding hands with you across the internet.

    6. Gaia*

      I do not have any advice, but I am really sorry for your loss. Take care of yourself and let others take care of you.

    7. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

      No advice, but I’m so deeply sorry for your loss. I’m glad your family and friends have rallied around you and it’s so very wise to search for resources even when you are deep with grief.

    8. Jean (just Jean)*

      I am sorry for your loss. It is good that your friends and family are taking good care of you.

      You may find some of these ideas helpful…?

      consulting the web site of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) or its affiliates (many state/regional/local organizations)…note: it’s a U.S.-based organization
      consulting the web sites of organizations that seek to study or prevent suicide, or to comfort people who have lost loved ones to suicide
      approaching a librarian in a public or publicly-available medical library (perhaps you’re near an institution of medical higher education?)
      approaching a therapist whose specialties include helping people close to others who have faced schizophrenia and suicide
      browsing online catalogs of publishers that specialize in mental health, grief, suicide, or schizophrenia..?

      Check each resource (book, web site, support group) for referrals to other sources of information and support. Be persistent if you don’t find useful info and/or connections immediately.

      Be kind to yourself because grief runs on its own schedule and has its own agenda. You may feel exhausted, inattentive, or angry as well as sad or uncomprehending. (I’m not a therapist–just someone experienced with primary and secondary bereavement.)

      There is still comfort in the world–as proven by your family and friends and the kind words of other AAMreaders–but I am sorry that your life now includes this experience.

    9. Sylvia*

      I’m so sorry.

      I’ve lost relatives to suicide and the best people to talk to have been those who also knew them, and therapists. People have such varied experiences with and beliefs surrounding these things. You’ll find a variety of resources and, I hope, something you connect with within that.

      If you’re in the US, you may find NAMI helpful for schizophrenia resources.

      Many resources or support groups for those who have lost loved ones this way use the term “suicide survivors,” so that could be a good starting point if you’re looking for something local.

      I wish I could say more to help.

      1. Sylvia*

        Two things I want to add:

        – I don’t describe myself as a suicide survivor and I haven’t participated in those organizations. Someone who has could give you much better advice, so anyone who wants to, feel free to add onto my comment!

        – Your grief and your other reactions to this aren’t going to be easy to predict or sometimes easy to understand. It might be very different from what others in similar situations have gone through. It doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong. Be kind to yourself.

    10. Connie-Lynne*

      I’m sorry for your loss; I lost my husband of 15 years to suicide in February.

      What has helped me most is talking. I have a ton of books that people gave me but can’t bring myself to read them yet. But being honest about how I feel and what is going on really helps, as does talking to other survivors — and there are far too many of us.

      In addition to my shrink, I recently started going to a peer support group for survivors, run by suicide prevention. It seems to help.

      The other thing I’ve been doing is writing down every memory I have of him, when I have it, so that I don’t forget him. I kind of wish I’d done that while he was alive so he could have seen how wonderful he was.

      1. Connie-Lynne*

        Oh, also, if I need to cry, I just fuckin cry. I keep a handkerchief handy all the time.

        I don’t go and hide in a restroom or whatever, I just do it wherever I am. The exception is work, there’s a balcony I go to that’s a little more private, but sunny, and I go cry there instead of at my desk.

        Not scurrying away to hide my crying, as if it were something shameful, really helps me.

      2. Meemzi*

        Thank you. I’m sorry for your loss. 15 years is a long time. It’s a comfort to hear that I’m not alone, sick as that is. You know what I mean.

        I’ve been looking at pictures and sharing memories with the friend staying with me. I’ll start writing them down.

        1. Connie-Lynne*

          I totally understand. The biggest comfort to me in the first few weeks was hearing that others had been through this. It makes you feel less alone, in a time when you feel so very alone.

        2. Connie-Lynne*

          Oh, to be clear, I don’t think it’s sick. Because you’re not glad for others’ loss. You’re grateful someone else might understand you and the tempest you’re feeling.

          1. orchidsandtea*

            Oh, Connie-Lynne and Meemzi, I am so sorry for your losses.

            I had a different kind of loss last year, and part of what helped was respecting the gap the person left behind. Not making it okay (there’s no fixing this!), being present with the not-okayness. So I have little rituals I do in their memory, and I let myself frown when someone says “Great, we’re all here!” (because someone will always be missing). I talk to people who get it, and I remember that the ones who don’t get it still love me, even when they say terrible things.

    11. JanetM*

      I am so sorry for your loss.

      I haven’t lost a partner (knock on wood), but when my parents died, both times I found a short course of therapy very helpful to deal with unresolved feelings and concerns. Also, after my mother died, my father told me that the grief came in waves, but gentler over time. I found that to be true as well.

    12. Ella*

      That really sucks. I have a loved one with schizophrenia and it is a rough disease. I’m so sorry about your boyfriend.

    13. OldMom*

      So sorry for your loss. My sister died a couple of weeks ago…different circumstances but I sympathize. While she was in hospice I was reading “caring for the dying: the doula approach to a meaningful death” most of it is about pre-death but there are some good self care ideas with the grieving process.
      I also tend to ear worm on songs about death. Warren Zevon “vast indifference of heaven,” any blues, gospel if that suits you… Take care of yourself.

    14. Misquoted*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m glad you have a support system and that they are taking good care of you. I haven’t been through this (though my partner of 3 years has cancer so I’ve had some dark thoughts about “what if”), but remember that everyone grieves differently, so do what you need to do for yourself. Wishing you peace.

    15. Workaholic*

      A book resource for grief in general is second firsts by Christina Rasmussen. She’s a grief counselor and wrote the book after her first husband died.

    16. Dragonfly*

      I’m sorry. I’ve heard of, but not had the chance to read, the book titled ‘Resisting Elegy’ (by J. Peckham), and just happen to know a bit about the tragic event that has led to the creation of the book. The writer, as you will know if you read his work, speaks from first-hand experience about loss. Good books have a habit of reading us even as they’re being read, so you may find some comfort in this! I wish you strength, love, and peace.

    17. Guest*

      I found “I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye: Surviving, Coping and Healing After the Sudden Death of a Loved One” to be very helpful after a sudden loss two years ago. Without going into too much detail, I became very familiar with my grief process in 2015. Best wishes to you for the road ahead.

    18. SeekingBetter*

      I’m very sorry to hear about your loss. I agree with a lot of the books and resources shared by fellow commenters.

  7. Bored and Confused*

    Any good book recommendations? I read pretty much anything other than romance (too predictable and ridiculous in my opinion).
    I’m trying to read 100 books this year and I’m discovering that there were only about 50 on my to-be-read list. Thanks in advance!

    1. Lady Jay*

      Always! I’m reading Ursula K Le Guin’s Left Hand of Darkness right now & it’s excellent: essentially a spy novel on another world, peopled with human beings who are androgynous except once a month, when they enter sexual potency.

      Other recs:
      * The Evangelicals, by Frances Fitzgerald. A history of American evangelicalism.
      * Uprooted, by Naomi Novik. A fairy-tale/magical story with wizards and witches and an evil forest.
      * Canticle for Leibowitz. A darkly funny story about the aftermath of a nuclear apocalypse.
      * The Disappearing Spoon, Sam Kean. Anecdotes about the periodic table.
      * The Buried Giant, Kazuo Ishiguro. Mysticism & racial/ethnic tensions in the waning of Arthurian Britain. There’s also a dragon.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        I adore A Canticle for Leibowitz! One of the best parts of being a religion major was to spend half a semester rhapsodizing on paper about it.

        1. Lady Jay*

          Oh, how fun! I once took an Eastern Philosophy course and spent a few weeks on a paper comparing Buddhism to the Jedi practices. :)

          1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            Eastern philosophy is fun – my concentration for my major was Hindu philosophical systems. Way interesting, but I thought my spellcheck was going to give up and leave me by the time I graduated.

      2. Book Lover*

        Uprooted is so magical. I didn’t like the second half as much as the first, but then was enraptured by the ending. She is a wonderful author – I like her fanfic too :)

      3. Thlayli*

        Looking at your list I think you might enjoy Charles de lint – if you haven’t already heard of him. North American urban fantasy.

    2. NoMoreMrFixit*

      I’m reading the Ring of Fire series by Eric Flint. A modern day mining town gets shoved into the middle of the 30 years war in Germany and starts changing history.

      1. Authoria*

        If you like historical fiction, I’ve recently enjoyed The Fair Fight by Anna Freeman (about female boxers in 18th-C London), The Alice Network by Kate Quinn (an all-woman spy ring in WWI), and The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee (rip-roaring epic about an opera singer.) I also recommend The Magician’s Lie (female illusionist accused of murder in 1905) and Girl in Disguise (based on the real-life first female detective), but full disclosure, that’s because I wrote them. ;)

    3. Lady Kelvin*

      If you like sci-fi I can recommend The Passage by Justin Cronin. It is a post-apocalyptic book with “vampire” like creatures. I’m not quite done with it but I’m really enjoying it. Its like a Michael Criton book and not like most vampire books. There are also two more in the series if you like the first one

      1. KarenK*

        Loved this series. He also wrote two other books,The Summer Guest and Mary and O’Neil, that are completely different.

      2. Windchime*

        Oooh, I just recommended this one below as well. It’s scary but it’s so well-written. I haven’t seen this kind of really good writing for awhile. Love, love, love it.

    4. Cari*

      What do you like most about the books you read? Plot, characters, twists and turns, writing style?
      The last book I read that I couldn’t put down was If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio. Murder and Shakespeare in a small arts school.

    5. Dr. KMnO4*

      Anything by Ann Patchett.
      Jack McDevitt is a prolific scifi author. I especially like his Alex Benedict series.
      Anne George’s Southern Sisters mystery novels are funny.
      Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone novels (about a female PI, so mystery/thriller) are fantastic.
      The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett are funny and deep.
      “Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits” by David Wong was very good.
      “Severance” by Chris Bucholz.

    6. Elkay*

      Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris is my go-to recommendation.

      Maybe add some classics to your list? I know a few people who try and read (or re-read) at least one classic a year. I haven’t read many classics but I think Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier probably counts, if you enjoyed that there’s a book called Rebecca’s Tale by Sally Beauman which is good.

      1. Elkay*

        Also, The Secret History or The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I didn’t like her second book (The Little Friend) and The Goldfinch divides people but I enjoyed it.

    7. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Ooh, I’ve got a few. My tastes run toward sci-fi/fantasy.

      The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet and its sequel A Close and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers. I cannot recommend these books enough, and they are both ones that I reread over and over again. They’re especially good as understatedly LGBT fiction; neither of them directly deals with the issues, but the first one touches a lot on cultural and relationship expectations, while the second revolves mostly around the relationship of mind and body. The first one is also laugh-out-loud funny.

      The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison. This one is a little weak in a few areas, particularly in terms of how to use made-up fantasy terms and languages, but it’s still an engaging and fun story about the mixed-race fourth son of a murdered emperor trying to get his political feet under him in the middle of a murder investigation.

      • If scientific non-fiction is more your speed, T-Rex and the Crater of Doom by Walter Alvarez is the story of how scientists (primarily including Alvarez himself) figured out just what it was that killed the dinosaurs, when, and how, and what kind of obstacles they ran into in the course of that discovery.

      1. katamia*

        If you like Katherine Addison, you should give Sarah Monette a try–they’re the same person. I haven’t read her Katherine Addison books yet, but I found her Doctrine of Labyrinths series fascinating.

    8. katamia*

      My reading tastes tend a bit toward the weird, so this list does too:

      -Haruki Murakami. Not sure how well your tastes would line up with mine regarding which of his books you might like best, but A Wild Sheep Chase and Dance Dance Dance are my favorites of his so far (although I’m going in order, so I haven’t read everything yet).
      -The Lost City of Z (David Grann)
      -The Hakawati (Rabih Alameddine)
      -House of Leaves (Mark Z. Danielewski)
      -Just Like Us: The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America (Helen Thorpe)
      -Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead if plays count and you’ve read Hamlet
      -The End of Mr Y (Scarlett Thomas)
      -The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (Tahir Shah)

    9. Bored and Confused*

      Thanks for all the suggestions! Thankfully I have access to an amazing library so I’ve been able to find a lot of these titles. I love having some variety in my reading so I enjoy reading books that I never would have even thought to look for. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on these (some of them are coming from other library branches so I have to wait) and exploring some new authors.

    10. Girasol*

      The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold. There’s some romance but it explores a fantasy religion and has wonderful characters. The audiobook reader does the original excellent book justice, too, if you like audio.

    11. MechanicalPencil*

      Sandcastle Empire by Kayla Olson. Just came out and is from a new author (who I know personally and is a fabulous human being). It’s been opted for a film and is a great read.

    12. Stinky Socks*

      Eifelheim by Michael Flynn. Aliens crash land in medieval Germany. It is awesome.
      Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis. Written in first-person as a woman, and I totally bought it.
      A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller. The fall and rise and fall of civilization.

      1. Red Reader*

        One of my favorite book series is Harry Turtledove’s Worldwar series – aliens invade during WW2 with the intent of colonizing earth.

    13. Annie Mouse*

      The After Cilmeri series by Sarah Woodbury is fantastic, definitely my favourite. It’s set between modern day and a parallel version of medieval Wales and is a bit of a historical what if/bit of sci fi. I can never do it justice. There’s not much in the way of romance and what there is is either a specific plot point (the first book is based around Meg falling for the last Prince of Wales but focuses on far more than the gooey romance) or as an aside to make it more fleshed out. There are 11 in the series so far I think!

    14. GermanGirl*

      The Martian by Andy Weir. Imho the book is way better than the movie – I read it in one day because I couldn’t put it down and I kept cracking up. It’s about an astronaut who gets stranded on Mars.

      Ready player one by Ernest Cline – I suppose this is best if you were into computer games in the 80s but Im not and still enjoyed this story. It’s about a dystopian future where almost everybody uses this virtual reality computer game and people even go to school in the game because that’s cheaper than building actual schools. The main plot has a lot to do with solving riddles about really old computer games though.

      Ghost in the wires by Kevin Mitnick – an autobiographical book about a hacker of the early days of computers. It’s full of technical details, which you don’t have to understand to find it interesting, because the main point is that he mostly used social engineering and most of those tricks would work just as well today.

      And something completely different: Agent Storm: My Life Inside al Qaeda and the CIA, about a Norwegian guy who became a radical, joined al Qaeda, decided he had to alert the authorities when he got wind of planned terrorist attacks and became a double agent. Also autobiographical.

    15. Windchime*

      I just finished a trilogy of books that was chilling and really, really good. They are by Justin Cronin. “The Passage”, “The Twelve”, and “City of Mirrors”. It’s a post-apocolyptic story that involves vampires, but not the romantic kind, or the ones with the capes. These are terrifying creatures. It’s a story of adventure, love, and heroes. Not for the faint of heart, because there are also some really gruesome scenes. But it was a great trilogy and I’m sorry that I’m done with the story.

  8. Transitioning*

    I am finally buying window a/c units! I moved to NYC last spring, so this will be my second New York summer. I went through last summer in my top floor apartment without a/c, by sleeping with frozen towels, fans, and little to no clothes, and NOT turning on my stove/oven, thus relegated to raw foods (which was actually quite nice). I was resigned to do it again this year.

    Before this move, I’d only lived in 1) a house and 2) a house with central air and heating. The task of researching, buying, and installing an air conditioner seemed too daunting a task for me to want to deal with — it still is, but my family was sooo miserable last year when they visited, so I’m getting two.

    Has anyone had any particular success with one brand over the other? My living room is approx. 247 sq.ft. and my bedroom is approx. 168 sq.ft. Any tips or trick of the trade I should be aware of when it comes to ac noise, keeping bugs out, air leakage? I’m a neophyte!

    1. Ilsa*

      I looked at Amazon reviews when I bought my A/C window unit and found them very helpful in finding one that met my needs.

      You can also check how accurate the Amazon reviews are for a particular item by copying the item’s URL and pasting it in at http://www.fakespot.com. Fakespot analyzes online reviews at Amazon and Yelp to determine if they are accurate, vs paid endorsements.

      1. Transitioning*

        Ohh, thank you for both of those suggestions. I didn’t think to check Amazon. I’ve just been looking review on Home Depot, Lowes, PR Richards, Walmart, and Target. And I’m definitely going to use that link.

        1. FosterFoster*

          Just go to PC Richards, tell them the size of the rooms and let them install it. NYC requires those safety arms to be installed and after watching the guys do it, I was very happy I didn’t try to do it myself. Also, I just left mine in the window for the 5 years I was there, including Hurricane Sandy and snow. They sealed it in well enough and NYC apartments are so hot in the winter that leaving the window “open” didn’t have any effect.

    2. JulieBulie*

      The expandable things on the sides are usually not very good, so I’ve taken to securing them to the window with packing tape! I have an old house so I don’t care if it messes up the paint, but so far that hasn’t been a problem.

      I had a Haier that I didn’t like. It was VERY loud, so it was impossible to sleep. My Frigidaire is much quieter.

    3. Damn it, Hardison!*

      The website thesweethomedotcom did a review of air conditioners and has advice on finding the right size, etc.

    4. Anono-me*

      Please look at how the AC unit will be fastened into the window. A lot of times they are not fastened properly and can either fallout or be pushed in as a way to access the unit by intruders.

      I would also suggest considering how heavy each AC unit is, if you will be the one installing it.

      Stay cool.

    5. alex*

      HOW did you survive an NYC summer w/out one?! After 11 years, I still have my original Frigidaires and no problems; I’ve hung out in tons of apts around here, and I’ve never found anybody’s model more or less desirable regarding your concerns. I do really like that mine have remotes. They all make white-noise somewhat, they don’t bring in bugs, and I’m not sure what “air leakage” means but they should all come with wings to secure them into the window panel. I live in a house from the 1920s, so nothing’s airtight, but any basic window AC would be perfectly fine.

      Also to install, you literally just lift it and place/balance it in the frame and shut the window into the ridge on top; then you close the side wings. I (a very-not-burly person) usually do it by myself — with some cursing aloud and precarious moments– and it’s always been fine. Two people make the job curse-free and easy-peasy. If you get some behemoth one, you might have to add a brace, but I’ve never sprung for that and have never been uncomfortable (in large-ish rooms) using regular units.

      The big thing is placement: you absolutely want them in enclosed areas, ie bedrooms or a living area that has doors. Otherwise the cool won’t accumulate. The second you get home, turn on ACs, close the doors, and then do what you gotta do around the kitchen/bath/whatever. It’s bliss to retire to the already-chilled rooms. :) For the kitchen: a cheap window fan is very helpful.

      Finally, be prepared for your ConEd bill to at least double during the months you use these.

      1. Transitioning*

        Alex, thank you for all you insight!

        I didn’t consider enclosed spaces. My living room has no doors. When I measured the space, I didn’t add in the dining nook, kitchen, or foyer. It’s all open, but there are arches separating those spaces. I bought a 6,000 BTU Frigidaire for the living room space, should I take it back and get the 8,000, so that it has enough power to “touch” those other areas?

        And my air leakage, I meant the possibility of the cold air leaving room due to ineffective sealing.


        1. Observer*

          Get a bigger unit and hang curtains in the archways. It’s not as good as doors, but I can tell you form experience, it makes a significant difference.

        2. alex*

          Gotcha. Yeah, I mean… I might consider the more powerful unit in that case, though you’ll never fully chill an open space like that. It will always be cool right near the thing, but there will be a ton of chill-loss throughout the space.
          I’d do window fans where you can, and strategically place the ACs so that they serve small areas. Also be mindful of what direction the windows face, and how the sun affects the space (this is massive for our (nyc) house, where some rooms bake in the morning and others don’t). And it’s not a bad idea to do curtains in the arches between the zones of the space. But generally the AC air just isn’t going to distribute that much– at least that’s my experience.

    6. Observer*

      Get the right size – too big or too small are going to be problematic. There are some good calculators on the internet to figure out what you need. It’s not just square footage, but windows, which way your outside wall face, etc.

      One you get the units in you will kick yourself for not doing this sooner. You don’t need a “perfect” unit, just one that works. And window units for smaller rooms are inexpensive enough that if they don’t last for decades it’s not that hard to replace, unlike split units and central. Also, the overall quality has gone up in general, ime.

      If you have the budget for it, get the unit installed. It’s SO much easier.

      1. Transitioning*

        I may have to get it installed. I thought I could do it myself…I can’t even install the AC support. Don’t have the proper tools or the no-how. Way more to this than I thought.

        1. GH in SOCal*

          I grew up in NYC and the window unit in my mother’s bedroom has been there year-round for 50 years. I think she replaced it once in my lifetime. It cools her room to an icebox, or when we kids were there (or she has guests) she opens her door and closes the hall door and it makes both bedrooms bearable.
          She also used to have a Kitchen unit that she would put in every summer and store in the closet in the winter, but for the last 10-15 years she’s just eaten takeout in her bedroom in the hot months and abandoned the kitchen until fall. (And gotten out of the city as much as work permitted.)
          Like you, her living room/dining room/foyer are all connected, so all my life those rooms had to be abandoned in the summer. About 5 years ago when she had to host shiva at her house in July she got one of those rolling standalone units that just has a hose you stick in a window and we were stunned at how effectively it chilled those front rooms. Probably 600 square feet altogether! It’s a little more trouble to use because you have to empty its drip tray but it is nice to have the option to leave the bedroom in the summer.

    7. AcademiaNut*

      You might what to check out the split systems, if you can install them in your place. These are the ones that have the actual AC unit outside, and only the fan part inside, which makes them much quieter (and takes up less window space). We went to one in our apartment and really like it – we have one unit which cools both the bedroom and living room.

      I do strongly recommend paying someone to install it, particularly in an apartment where you can’t stand outside to work on it.

      One thing to watch is that you don’t buy something too overpowered. Not enough power, and it won’t cool the room. But too powerful, and it will cool the room too fast, and won’t have a chance to dehumidify, which in humid climates makes at least as much difference as the climate.

  9. Rescue ALL the dogs!!!*

    I broke up with my fiancé yesterday. I don’t know if it was the right decision but when I suggested it he shut down and stopped talking to me so I guess that’s that.

    I don’t know how I feel but I don’t think I’m sad at all. All I know is that I’m not looking forward to a family party tonight where I’m sure I’m going to get judged and harassed with questions.

    I’ve been hating the city I live in for some time now and I had been planning on moving to be with my fiancé. But since that’s not happening I’m starting to explore places that I may like to live in to keep myself sane while I process everything. I’m looking for a dog friendly city or town, with a low cost of living and good walkability. I’d prefer a more temperate climate, not too hot. Anyone have any suggestions?

    1. Junior Dev*

      Hey, I’m sure you’ll get a bunch of people having unsolicited Opinions on your breakup, I just want to say it’s great that you made the decision that’s right for you.

      Maybe give yourself a month off of trying to make a firm decision of where to move, but try doing some fun or interesting things you’ve been wanting to try for a while and think about what it’d be like to do them in a new place/what places are good for those things. Check out hiking trails/indie bookstores/art galleries/live music venues (or whatever you’re into) and think about what cities have a lot of those things and what the pros and cons of living in them would be.

    2. Jessesgirl72*

      Did you already tell everyone? If not, I’d wait to break the news until after the party, to avoid all the questions. “So as not to ruin everyone’s good time” ;)

      1. Rescue ALL the dogs!!!*

        No I havent told anyone but my family never thought I’d marry him anyway since we were engaged for years. I’m the only family memeber that doesn’t fit the established mold of marriage + babies by 30 so I tend to get ganged up on quite a lot once the drinks start flowing. There’s lots of pity and judgment and I’m just not sure I can deal with it right now because even though I technically broke up with him I wasn’t really expecting it. All I did was communicate that the relationship wasn’t working as is because he wasn’t putting enough effort on his end to get us to our end goal and I guess he didn’t like that – which I suppose proves me right but I was really hoping it would open up a dialogue, not shut everything down.

        1. JenM*

          This is probably too late but these are the circumstances that call for a mystery virus *cough* too sick for the party *cough*.

    3. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Breaking off an engagement is hard and ugly, but when it’s the right thing to do, it’s such a relief. I ended mine almost a decade ago, and truth to tell, after the initial “oh god what did I do?” adjustment period, I’ve never looked back with anything but profound relief. There’s a lot of momentum that a relationship gains when it hits the engagement stage, but it is so much easier to break off an engagement than it is to get a divorce!

    4. Ann*

      I am sorry as this is upsetting all around but I also get a happy I can do anything and go anywhere vibe that I think is very exciting. Wishing you great adventures.

    5. Wrench Turner*

      I grew up and live in the area between Baltimore, MD and Washington, DC and it’s full of dogs and their parks, more restaurants from cultures around the world than you can ever explore in one life time, and beautiful natural places to hike all over. There are many colleges/universities for continuing education and training, and lots of hospital/medical centers. Living between the nation’s capital and a major commercial port means there are skilled, paying jobs to be found, even for blue collar wrench turners like me. It’s got all four seasons and I love it here.

      The cons:
      Unless you live in downtown DC or Baltimore, you’ll need a car. It’s sprawly and our public transportation infrastructure is lacking. Traffic can be real bad here. REAL bad. So bad. Unbelievable. The closer you live to downtown DC, its subway lines, or downtown Baltimore, the more expensive it is. This isn’t surprising, but the cost in DC can be real intimidating if you don’t have a good paying job lined up.

  10. Merci Dee*

    I’m officially, completely moved in. Unpacked the last box last night. Hallelujah!

    Now, 2 of my 3 sisters are arriving in an hour to see the new place. Time to sweep up!

      1. Merci Dee*

        It did turn out to be pretty fun! My sisters loved my new place. Thought I did a great job finding it. I’m the youngest of the siblings, so they all feel the need to look out for me, even though I’m 40 years old now and have been on my own for a couple of decades at this point.

        I guess that’s family, though. Willing to be there and look out for us, whether we need it or not! :)

  11. Anon for this*

    I’m posting this anonymously because I don’t want my handle here linked to my name in real life, but I started a podcast!!. Definitely on the amateur side, but I’ve been having fun with it for about a month now. It’s called An English Prof Reads the Bible & is on iTunes, Google Play & Soundcloud (I’ll put the soundcloud link the comments).

    Getting it off the ground was a bit of a rigamarole but after that, it’s fairly easy to record and edit each week. And I’m learning a lot about sound editing to boot!

      1. Transitioning*

        Awesome! I am going to check this out on Monday. I listen to podcasts at work.

    1. KAZ2Y5*

      Thank you! I’m adding this to my podcast list. And very excited that you are starting with Psalms!

      1. Anon for this*

        I’ve loved doing the Psalms for this! I hope you like it; be patient with me, though – this has been a learning curve & the first episode is definitely *not* the best. I really like the one I just put up, on Psalm 46.

    2. Wrench Turner*

      What software do you use for recording and editing? What microphone do you use?
      I’m always curious as to behind-the-scenes stuff.

      1. Anon for this*

        I use the mic that came with my iPhone, actually. As long as I record the session in one go, so my mouth remains relatively the same distance away from the mic part, it works pretty well. If I keep doing this, I’ll probably splurge on a nicer one, but it was great to be able to start with stuff I already had.

        I use Audacity for editing. I’ve had mixed experiences with open source software (Moodle is *not* user-friendly), but I’ve been really pleased with Audacity. It works well & didn’t require a big learning curve.

        I may wind up needing to change my RSS feed host or splurge on a paid version, because there’s stuff that the free version of Soundcloud doesn’t allow for, like scheduling posts.

  12. Rescue ALL the dogs!!!*

    Can anyone suggest dog-friendly cities or towns with a low COL and good walkability that would be good for a late twenties singleton? I’m looking for a change to a cooler climate post-breakup and I want to find a place I actually like to live.

    Any suggestions?

    1. KatieKate*

      Chicagoan here. Not sure how LCOL you are looking for, but Chicago can be as expensive or as cheap as you want it to be. VERY dog friendly and very walkable. Also fantastic public transit.

    2. Fiennes*

      Seconding Chicago. I enjoyed that place a lot. Not mega cheap but very affordable as major cities go.

      1. Junior Dev*

        Portland is a great place to not own a car, or to walk/bike/take transit even if you do own a car. Lots of people love dogs and there are a bunch of city parks with off-leash areas.

      2. Authoria*

        Hard to beat the walkability in Philadelphia, and Center City real estate really covers the spectrum. Good luck with your choice!

        1. Rescue ALL the dogs!!!*

          I’m very intrigued by Maine. I really don’t want to live in a massive city. I have dreams of Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls but with more amenities :) Can you tell me what you specifically like about Portland, ME?

          1. Blue_eyes*

            If you think you’d like Maine, try looking at Burlington, VT. It’s a medium sized city and I hear it’s very livable and pleasant. As long as you can handle the winters. (I’ve only spend a few days there on vacations, but they were very nice).

      3. tigerStripes*

        Western Oregon gets a lot of rain, and there are a lot of overcast days. Other than that, it’s pretty good.

    3. west MI represent*

      Grand Rapids, MI is pretty cool! It’s changed SO much just in the 3 years that I’ve been here. Lots of money coming into this city. Close to Lake Michigan, surrounded by a national forest (Manistee) and tons of trails for dog hikes. Plus there are a lot of active dog owners around here, I take my corgi to dog events once a week or so. Today was a corgi meetup at a giant fenced in dog park. Thank goodness they have a dog wash station here, because he was disgusting at the end. There’s also a local dog walking company that organizes community walks, where everyone walks their dog together for 30-45 min then the dogs get free doggie ice cream donated by a local creamery afterwards. It’s adorable. Plus, it’s not priced like a high COL city, but you can still find a place in a super walkable neighborhood. Lots of beer too, if you’re into that. Comment if you have more questions!

      1. the gold digger*

        I go to Grand Rapids for work. I have yet to have a bad meal. (Be advised – Olga’s heat ratings at Chez Olga are real, not adjusted for the upper Midwest.) Beautiful old houses, gorgeous sculpture gardens, major employers with HQs there, and yes, Founders Brewery, where we took two Belgian co-workers. (They loved it.)

        And the commute from MKE to Grand Rapids in the summer is a blast. The ferry has wi-fi, so you can work if you aren’t too distracted by looking at the lake.

    4. Dr. KMnO4*

      Chi-town adjacent, and I agree with the recommendations. Many of the suburbs have low COL, and some of the neighborhoods in the city are reasonably priced as well. If you don’t mind airplane noise look at the areas around O’Hare or Midway as they tend to have great public transportation options and lower prices. The climate is certainly cooler than, say, St. Louis or Cincinnati or Louisville, but it does get hot and humid for a few months in the summer. But spring and fall are nice, if they arrive, and it certainly is cold in the winter.

        1. Dr. KMnO4*

          Franklin Park, Melrose Park, Northlake, Bensenville, Norridge, Harwood Heights are all close to O’Hare (so convenient for flights) and pretty reasonable for COL. I’m less familiar with the suburbs near Midway, but a lot of the southern suburbs are pretty reasonable AFAIK.

      1. Swingbattabatta*

        We lived in Chicago for about a decade – just to put it all out there, the weather is not exactly temperate, and the violence levels are concerning. Also, the lack of a state budget has some implications across the board. That being said, there are amazing things about Chicago and we do miss it (also, I will be a Blackhawks fan until I die and nothing brings me greater joy than going to a game).

    5. Jessesgirl72*

      Milwaukee. Cheaper than Chicago with less traffic, all the amenities of a major city with culture, food, diversity, and anything Milwaukee doesn’t have, Chicago is 90 minutes away by train or car. Art schools along with universities mean there is a good crowd for those in their 20’s, and move out slightly to the suburbs (and some are really more urban with good walkability) when you want more space and quiet.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        Also, since Milwaukee isn’t as popular as Chicago, they are willing to pay more to get people to move here. ;)

      2. EddieSherbert*

        I love Milwaukee, but I would say it’s tougher not to own a car (especially if you do the suburbs!). And while it’s starting to get more bike-friendly, but has a ways to go before I’d feel comfortable using that as a main transport (versus one in a while, or to a specific place where I know the route has bike lanes/paths).

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          I think it depends on where she would live and work, and few cities have good public transit to the suburbs. Oh, you can take the train into Chicago from far out, but to get around the suburbs you need a car. Milwaukee is no worse if you can live and work downtown or live on the express bud routes. I could bus it downtown though, from my untrendy Southside suburban neighborhood, if I didn’t mind the transfers and a couple people on my block get back and forth by transit and only use the car on weekends. With all the grocery delivery options, I can even avoid that

          1. the gold digger*

            (Outing myself :) )

            I am in a first-ring suburb where we can walk to every single thing we want to do – grocery store, library, restaurants (including amazing African, Hawaiian, French, Thai, Mexican, and Italian places, tennis courts, summer outdoor concerts, church. When I worked downtown, I took the bus to work and it was great. Once downtown, I could go running to the lake at lunch. Tons of excellent restaurants downtown. COL is not bad at all, esp compared to Chicago, and, as I think Jessesgirl72 noted, it’s a quick and easy 90 minutes in the quiet car with internet connection to downtown Chicago.

        2. the gold digger*

          PS Re bike – I rode my bike to work in the suburbs for a few months, but really, once it starts to snow, this is just not an option. At least, it would not be for me – I would not feel safe on a bike path or a road with snow and/or ice.


          The woman who fell off her bike in a light rain but thank goodness, the helmet was OK. The prescription sunglasses were not and the ER bill (I tried to go to urgent care and to my doc’s office, but they both refused to treat me) was $4,700, so there went all the savings from not driving.

      3. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        Also you can toss the dog in the car and drive off to any number of lovely state parks along the lake (heading north a half hour) on a weekend or head to plenty of state parks westbound. Easier to get out of Milwaukee than Chicago.

        Minneapolis was pretty dog friendly and lots of trails around lakes but thats moving from cooler into downright cold so maybe not. Ill toss out Reno, NV as well because everyone seemed to have a dog there, more trees than Vegas but less hot, and seemingly feels cooler with less humidity, not to mention you can get out in the winter easily. LOTS of easy to access dog trails in the low hills around the university area, and some lovely old neighborhoods too with lots of trees and mountain views, with low COL.

          1. salad fingers*

            Crazy dog parks! I live in Chicago and I can confidently say our dog parks don’t compare to Milwaukee’s. My best friend is from MKE, so we drive up on weekends pretty regularly with her dog. Insane whole city block dog parks. Chicago’s are more like a small carved out corner of a moderately sized regular park.

            As for the rest of the Chicago v. Milwaukee conversation, I vote Milwaukee on cost of living, Chicago on walkability, I guess. Definitely on public transportation. My friend has considered moving back to Milwaukee but one big factor is work – there is more opportunity here in her field. In terms of being single, I think that one is a wash. More fish in Chicago’s sea, but …. harder to meet people in some ways? I’m not single and haven’t been for a long time, so that’s mostly info gleaned from friends.

    6. periwinkle*

      Well, the COL isn’t great in Seattle but it’s hard to imagine a more dog-friendly city. The Pacific Northwest in general is enthusiastic about furballs.

      1. Rescue ALL the dogs!!!*

        What about smaller towns on the outskirts of Seattle and the surrounding areas? Any noteworthy towns? I’d rather live in a small and quieter town and then just have the option to go into the big city if necessary. Right now I live in Key West, FL, and I find it’s the perfect size. If it wasn’t for the heat, the mosquitos and the cost of living down here, Id probably be happy with staying.

        1. fond_of_jam*

          There are many great smaller towns/cities outside Seattle, but the cost of living is still pretty high (especially if you want easy access to the city via mass transit). Places like Redmond, Bellevue, Kirkland, and Issaquah have all gotten way more expensive–but also more fun!–since I grew up there in the ’90s.

        2. SusanPNW*

          Another option is Bellingham. It is close enough for a day trip into Seattle, and is a university town so has a lot of amenities associated with that. I haven’t lived there, but have enjoyed my visits. I can’t attest to the walkability and I expect their transit isn’t great. But it is gorgeous there, and also a short drive to Vancouver BC, which is fun to visit.

        3. SusanPNW*

          You could also go south to Tacoma, which has a lower COL than Seattle and is less than an hour away. The downtown area was dead for years, but is reviving with some really cool museums and a branch of the University of Washington.

          Another option is to go across the sound. Both Poulsbo and Gig Harbor are beautiful towns on the water with some good restaurants and shopping. Poulsbo is a ferry ride away from Seattle and ferry rides are the best! I live in Kitsap county (where Poulsbo is) and the natural beauty is amazing. Transit is pretty bad though.

          A little further away is Port Townsend on the Olympic peninsula. It would definitely be more cumbersome to get into Seattle (again with a ferry ride), but I know someone who lives there who goes in weekly to volunteer at the zoo. It is a very artsy town, very cool vibe.

          If you can’t tell, I LOVE this area!

        4. Swingbattabatta*

          I’d say Edmonds is a great bet for a smaller town that is very Seattle-adjacent. And, I think they are expanding the lightrail out that way, so it’ll be pretty easy to get downtown…

      2. nom*

        Or if you don’t need/want to be in a proper city, what about Olympia, WA? Good climate and super dog-friendly, but with lower cost of living than Seattle.

        1. GH in the PNW*

          I am in Vancouver and I think you would LOVE it but since moving to another country is tricky, I’m going to second all these votes for Seattle-adjacent places. Once you get settled, come to Vancouver to visit. So much theater and music and great food, and really good mass transit.

    7. Dead Quote Olympics*

      Columbus, OH. Lots of walkable neighborhoods, very dog-friendly, ramping up on bike commuting infrastructure in a serious way, decent bus system, CarToGo if you want to try going completely carless, probably mid- cost of living, lots of younger people, major industries are Eds, meds, insurance, food (both craft and industrial scale), and retail clothing (not doing well), as well as some serious investments in data centers, analytics, etc. Ohio has some of the best public libraries in the nation in every size category, including C-bus Metro PL and surrounding communities. It just got its own IKEA. Temperate climate, has the standard seasons including snow in winter, thunderstorms and some tornado warnings, heat and humidity during the summer, actual spring and fall.

      1. Gala apple*

        I had just added Columbus to my short list myself! Would you say it’s a liberal city or a mix?

        1. Dead Quote Olympics*

          Hmmmm. Probably a mix, if only because it’s the state capital and Ohio state politics are very consistently Republican, so things like laws regarding workers rights, etc. tend to skew small c conservative. However, Ohio State University is very dominant so liberal (but it’s huge with a lot of students from other regions including conservative farming regions); the city government has been consistently liberal both in social policy and in infrastructure investment but it’s surrounded by some rich white suburbs that can be very NIMBY and privileged; my neighborhood is full of multi-language signs in yards welcoming our neighbors no matter where they come from, it’s a pretty ethnically diverse city for the Midwest; and the Pride Fest is in full swing downtown with full city and business and community backing to everyone’s general enjoyment.
          I’d say it skews liberal “for the Midwest” but a mix compared to Portland or Boston or San Francisco.

        2. Dead Quote Olympics*

          Agggh, the Internet ate my reply. I think it skews liberalish for the Midwest, but it depends on your comparison cities. The Pride Fest is in full swing downtown this weekend with full city/business/community baking, Ohio State U is very dominant so skewing academic liberal, but it is the Midwest and surrounded by pretty traditional farming regions.

          1. Dead Quote Olympics*

            Backing, not baking. However, C-bus does have some fantastic artisan bakeries and I’m sure they are participating too!

        3. Jessesgirl72*

          It’s Midwest Liberal, which means mix to most people.

          I’m from NE Ohio and went to college in SW Ohio, and I can’t quite place a finger on why I don’t like Columbus. Probably just the native’s dislike of the native land.

          Plus, it’s so flat there.

          1. Dead Quote Olympics*

            I’ve heard, in a job recruiting context, that Clevelanders think of themselves as the East and Columbus as the Midwest, and that it’s sometimes hard to get people to contemplate moving.

    8. Gingerblue*

      Ann Arbor is highly walkable, liberal, and pleasant. It’s more expensive than most of Michigan, but not big-ciy expensive.

    9. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      Charlotte, NC. Nice, clean, city without being a CITY city. Gets all the seasons (minus tons of snow), I can safely say it’s cooler than Key West, temp-wise! I lived there for 10 years right out of college and truly enjoyed it.

  13. OhBehave*

    My mom suddenly died Tuesday. We are heartbroken. We know she’s restored and whole now.

    My boss was is so awesome. He texted me the other eve to ask how I was and how they could pray for us.

    1. QualityControlFreak*

      “We are heartbroken. We know she’s restored and whole now.”

      First, I am so sorry. We lost my BIL this year, my spouse is fighting throat cancer and I was just talking to my 92 yo FIL on the phone the other night. He is in a nursing home and approaching the end of life. Your comment here resonates with me so much. As I told my FIL, when we’re going through hard times like we all are right now, it helps me to remember that this time that we are here in this physical life is just a small segment of the whole that is us. I remember that after this hard part is over, I will get to see my loved ones again and we will go on new adventures. It helps me when the going is tough. You know that your mom is restored and whole now. And you will see her again.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I am very sorry.Your boss sounds like a fine person who gets the fact that some things only happen once in life and we need to pause when those things happen. I think bodies die, but love does not. Love just changes form and keeps flowing between the two dimensions. She still loves you guys, let your love flow, OP.
      My prayers go out for you and yours.

    3. Jean (just Jean)*

      I’m sorry–sudden bereavement is terribly difficult. It’s good of your boss to be so caring.

      1. OhBehave*

        Thank you all.

        Mom had COPD but hadn’t been hospitalized this last year. She was tired though. She called a friend to pick up a prescription for her and 30 minutes later the friend found her. So very thankful she died as she wished. No prolonged vigil for us kids and no struggle. She looked very peaceful.

        And, yes, my boss is awesome. So thankful for him. I just started the job in February.

  14. TheLazyB*

    London. Oh my god. Two terror attacks and that horrific, horrendous fire in less than three months?! I’m aching and I don’t even live there.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Oh sorry yes. Manchester and the most recent London one are both on everyone’s minds here.

          1. TheLazyB*

            Manchester+London+fire in the space of, what, less than a month? Also unthinkable :(

            1. Ramona Flowers*

              Yeah. Sorry, didn’t mean to sound snippy. It’s been a super weird time – a good friend lives in Granby House in Manchester which was stormed by police and is really struggling.

              1. TheLazyB*

                My sister used to live in that part of Manchester. It seems ridiculous that places that were so close to her could be raised! I hope your friend is ok it must be so scary.

                1. Ramona Flowers*

                  She’s getting there. She was just super shocked to be evacuated and have all the media asking for interviews etc.

      1. Anonyby*

        Maybe she’s including the attack at the Parliment? It’s just within three months ago. That and the Westminister attack make two.

        Not that Manchester isn’t a horrible, awful attack that never should have happened. :( The news lately makes my heart hurt. The hope I’m hanging on to is that the increase in attacks is an extinction burst, and that soon they’ll die off.

        1. Anonyby*

          I’m getting the names of things confused. Don’t listen to me. I obviously need to go back and restudy geography.

          There’s still way too much going on. :(

      2. TheLazyB*

        Yeah I meant Westminster. How seriously horrible that in less than three months there have been three terrorist attacks. But yeah I was talking specifically about London. I’m British :)

    1. Mimmy*

      My thoughts exactly. The footage from the fire was astounding – the flames were so BRIGHT. I hope the missing are accounted for and safe.

      1. Caledonia*

        As much as we would like that to be the case the still missing will have perished and it will be a painstaking process to identify them.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I feel very connected to London, not just because I have family and friends in the city. When I’m there, I feel how special it is.
              And something else just happened tonight–not sure what is going on yet. Car hit people coming out of mosque in Finsbury Park. :(

      2. Jules the First*

        I went past it on the train on my way to work on Wednesday morning and an audible gasp rippled down the length of the train as we went by. It was horrible. And much worse than the terrorist attacks because this could so easily have been prevented.

        Know your escape route, people – and actually test it out!

        1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

          Jesus thats horrible. I saw the smoke on the skyline crossing Southwark Bridge and thought it was clouds at first (as you get sometimes). Then I realized it was smoke and figured something big had to be on fire. Rolled into work lobby a few minutes later and the tvs were on and it was like 9/11 all over again.

          This feels like it could staert something much larger though….

        2. Elizabeth West*

          I see that TfL has closed Circle and the Hammersmith & City tube lines near the area because of fears that debris will fall on the tracks. My cousin lives in Hammersmith and she says it is horrific to see the building. She’s going down to light a candle and said she will light one from me too. :'(

    2. Book Lover*

      I find the fire to be harder to cope with than the terrorist attacks. I left some years ago, but it reminds of Thatcher’s UK and that makes me very sad.
      After this past week I started making plans to travel with the kids to see England and more specifically London. It isn’t perfect but I love it and want to share it with them.

  15. Fiennes*

    Anybody here dealt with a partner with depression?

    I’ve had depression episodes myself, and wow, understanding it doesn’t help that much. C is self-aware, never cruel, never blaming — but so very far away. I miss the person lying next to me. Really I know I’ve got to let C work through this while I’m proving support – but how do you deal with the loneliness and anger? The illusion of rejection is even harder to deal with than real rejection, it sometimes seems to me; at least then I’d move on. C is worth roughing it out for. But I need some help on getting tough.

    (I was single during my own depressions and have no good or bad personal experiences to draw from there.)

    1. Sunflower*

      I haven’t read any of them but have seen numerous books and resources about loving someone with depression. It might help to talk to a counselor too if you feel overwhelmed and need guidance.

    2. Junior Dev*

      When you say rejection, do you mean a specific behavior or type of statement? Or a general emotional state? Because while it’s true that you can’t​ demand your partner be/act happy and emotionally healthy, you do get to ask to be treated well.

      I’m a person who has had depressed partners and also lives with my own mental health problems and I’d say remember to have a life outside your partner–hobbies, friends, family. It’ll help recharge your social batteries when dealing with Partner is hard.

      1. Fiennes*

        A type of behavior – C is very withdrawn, not cold but not warmly demonstrative as was the case before, uninterested in sex (as was DEFINITELY not the case before.) But C isn’t being unkind in any sense, verbal or behavioral. It’s just like my partner is camped out on Misery Island, a land I can neither reach nor provide rescue from.

    3. Kay*

      My husband is more or less constantly profoundly depressed, so I have far more experience in this than I would like.

      It’s perhaps not ideal, but it works best for me to have other outlets – to give him the support he needs but refuse to get sucked into the hours of conversation about how awful everything is. We don’t really talk politics because he was actually on a suicide watch around the election and bringing it up plunges him to a dark place now. I work really hard to communicate what needs to be done and try to get him to be accountable for what he feels like he can handle.

      When he is really bad and I’ve done what I can (talked to him, made sure he’s eating enough & not drinking too much, attempted some basic problem-solving or suggested some steps forward, snuggling/self-care is not working) I detach. I ride my horse; I work on sewing projects; I go out on the porch and read for a few hours. If he’s in an angry place and wants to yell obscenities at a video game I take the dog for a long walk. It’s a lot of refusing to enable, participate, or indulge and taking care of myself. It’s not an easy balance. I do sometimes think of how much easier my life would be if I didn’t handle 95% of everything.

    4. Red*

      My husband has depression. I find a therapist of my own is really helpful. It can be a neutral place where you can talk with no judgement or chance of your partner hearing what was said.

      1. Fiennes*

        Idk whether I want therapy at this point – I’ve had great therapists before but finding them is HARD – but a real sounding board would help.

        1. Red*

          Well, the next best thing to a therapist in this scenario is a friend who cares about you but is not the least bit close with husband or mutual friends, or is suitably discreet. The important thing is to have someone to listen to you when things are tough but also who won’t make them any tougher

    5. ThatGirl*

      My husband has depression and is also a therapist! So he’s aware but professionals don’t always take their own advice. I get how you feel.

      I think it’s important to have your own support, maybe even your own therapist to check in with. Friends to hang with when he’s feeling distant. Your own life.

      Make sure he has good support who isn’t you, too. And that his meds are in order. Remember he’s not being depressed AT you.

      1. Fiennes*

        Helping him connect with other good sources of support is definitely something I could provide help with – thanks.

    6. Clever Name*

      I have. It sucks and I have no advice. Neither of us are especially happy together right now, and we don’t know what to do.

    7. youremindmeofthebabe*

      I know I’m late to this thread, but I had to say that I totally agree with what Kay said. My husband is depressed and has anxiety and panic attacks. I went through it briefly years before I met him, although no where near as serious as his. It took a while to begin to move past the feeling of rejection. I knew he wasn’t rejecting me, but it is hard not to feel that way. Now I do what I can to help and then focus on myself and our daughter. One thing I do is to sometimes leave random notes with funny sayings, drawings, or just I love yous. It lets him know I’m here, not going anywhere, and I support him. Definitely take care of yourself, there was a time I started to feel the pull of depression again. That’s when I realized I really needed to set aside that time for myself to decompress. Otherwise I wasn’t going to be any good to him or anyone else!

    8. Thinking Outside the Boss*

      My wife of four years has Major Depression and Anxiety, and the anxiety leads to agoraphobia. It was a minor issue when we met and I didn’t know about it, but after the birth of our son, my wife suffered from post partum, which in turn exacerbated the depression and anxiety. My wife is in treatment now, but she is struggling with it and tends to self medicate with alcohol. A terrible combination–having depression and drinking a depressant.

      I survive just by living every day. Fiennes, I have the same feelings as you do. The anger and frustration of not being able to do anything to fix the situation. All I can do is be supportive, which is huge for my wife, but when I see her spiral out of control, there is zero I can do about it. It’s not like making her favorite meal or uttering a code phrase will bring her back to reality. The hurt and loneliness of looking into her eyes and getting a blank stare … or not being able to look into her eyes because she’s curled up on the couch and won’t even talk to you … or really only seeing the woman you married once a week because the rest of the time I’m living with a stranger. Feeling helpless and powerless because we need couples counseling bad, but until my wife has working through her issues, she refuses to go.

      I’m not sure the anger a partner of someone who is suffering from depression ever goes away. The burden of the relationship falls on our shoulders. I haven’t found any good support groups in my area, so I just get through it by living. It sucks. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

  16. Lily Evans*

    I posted a couple of updates about apartment hunting over the past few weeks, but I officially have an apartment now!!! It’s significantly closer to work, the roommates seem like neat normal people, and my cat will be the only pet which she will love (and the other roommates all like cats, so my clingy little cat will have so much attention)! And not only is it closer to work, it’s in a great area for restaurants, groceries, and exercise classes, plus it’s super close to a train line, so I’m super excited!

  17. Legalchef*

    This is a bit of a long story, so sorry in advance!

    There’s someone using my email address for things. Basically, around a year ago I started getting emails to my old email address (w my maiden name, which I’ve had for more than 10 years, firstmaiden@gmail), all clearly intended for the same person, including emails for cable accounts etc. I actually got a background check report from Uber for this person, which obv had a lot of personal info, inc SSN. She has the same first and maiden name as me. There was a phone number for her in the background check so I decided to call it to try to see what was happening and to make sure she knew, since I assumed she wouldn’t want all this info floating around.

    When I called her, she first insisted her email was the same as mine (firstmaiden@gmail) and when I said it couldn’t be her email, bc I’ve had it for years, she said “it’s firstmaiden47@gmail” and apparently didn’t get that she had to put the numbers in the email address. After that convo, the emails slowed down, but now they are picking up again.

    I actually emailed her a couple weeks ago reminding her of our convo and asking her once again to use her email address and not mine, but got no response and the emails are continuing. Just in the past few days I’ve received emails from a dating website and a temp agency. I tried to unsubscribe from the dating website but I’d have to log in (and technically I could change her PW if I really wanted and mess w her profile).

    I’ve sent everything that I get for her to spam and/or unsubscribe where possible, but it’s pretty annoying. At this point, is there anything else I can do? I don’t think I have any obligation to let any of the email senders known things are going to the wrong person at this point, since I’ve had a conversation and a follow up email to her about this (and frankly who needs to be reminded that they need to use their whole email address to sign up for things?).

    1. Turtlewings*

      I’m reminded of my grandmother, who kept getting calls for some business or other, had tried to address it with them, but nothing changed until she started cheerfully taking orders and then, you know, going back to sleep or whatever. Didn’t take very long for the calls to stop after that. :)

      I’d contact her one more time, and tell her flat-out that you’re going to do your best to screw up her life in whatever way is most convenient if this keeps happening. Canceling accounts, changing passwords, whatever. At this point you could easily steal her identity completely. Whether you follow through on any of that is your choice (though I personally would do the non-illegal parts) and whether she keeps giving you the opportunity is hers.

      1. Epsilon Delta*

        I would not say/do anything that sounded like “threatening to mess up her life.” That is just not something you want on record. I would however mark everything as spam. It’s not your problem if she doesn’t give them the right email. Perhaps when she forgets her password for one of these accounts and can’t get the password reset link it will sink in (or perhaps not).

        1. Wrench Turner*

          Seconding the “don’t mess with them” thing, even if it would be fun. It’s a big potential risk to you. Just unsubscribe/spam everything, annoying as it is.

        2. Liane*

          Yes, this is one of those Great Fantasy/Bad Action things. Just the threat, not actually doing any of that, is more likely to mess up YOUR life than hers.

        3. Observer*

          Thirding, 4thing, 5thing…

          Threatening to mess up someone’s life, in email no less, is really, really stupid. Don’t do it.

    2. Aphrodite*

      You’ve already contacted her. If she cannot be bothered to use her correct email address, I wouldn’t bother to warn her that she’s going to lose a lot of mail. Just unsubscribe to everything you get and places you do not want to contact should be marked as spam. You did your part in contacting her. Now you can do what is easiest for you without worrying about how it will affect her.

      1. Legalchef*

        Thanks. That’s what I thought too, but figured I’d get extra opinions just in case.

    3. Florida*

      That is so annoying. I would not recommend changing her passwords, cancel accounts, etc. even though she is using your email address. That might open you up to some sort of liability.

      I would contact the dating site and tell them that someone used your email address to set up an account. Unsubscribe when you can. Otherwise block all the emails.

      1. Legalchef*

        Yeah, I definitely don’t have the motivation or time to mess with her, though it is certainly tempting if for no other reason than it might actually get her to register for things accurately.

    4. Jane Dough*

      This happens to me constantly, because I have a very common name and I was an early adopter of gmail. It tends to go in cycles.

      For a while I was getting stuff that violated HIPAA, because I think that person was an X-ray technician. I had to reply there as a CYA. Now I’m getting a ton of stuff for a notary, including financial documents for mortgage applicants, so I have to toe the line about proper procedure there as well. It’s a huge pain, and it took me less than a minute on Google to figure out the correct recipient, so it’s insanely frustrating that people can’t get this right.

      So, my overall policy is now this: I have a draft sitting in my e-mail that states that the recipient has gotten the wrong person. It links to the Gmail explanation that periods are not recognized within an e-mail address, and tells the person to re-confirm the correct address for future correspondence. If I could get in trouble for getting the info, like legal/confidential e-mails, I reply immediately with that draft and then delete the e-mail. If it’s personal/not urgent, I reply with the draft and delete. If it’s not urgent and a repeat (meaning they ignored my first response) I block the sender and move on with my life.

      If you’re thinking “Why don’t you abandon this problematic e-mail address already?” it’s because I’m a freelancer with 20+ years experience, and I’ve been using it too long to track down everyone to update it.

      1. JulieBulie*

        Are you sure you can get in trouble for receiving unsolicited email of any kind? That doesn’t make any sense to me.

        1. Jane Dough*

          There have been some that contained things like medical history, SSNs, and bank account numbers. I didn’t want the hassle of being caught up in a possible “breach” situation in the future. Doing due diligence to show that I was aware of the issue and was going through the proper motions was easier than worrying about it.

        2. Liane*

          I know from a previous job, that the wrong doctor (or other medical professional) getting a medical transcription–didn’t opened or read it–is a HIPAA violation, but I don’t recall for which party(ies).

          1. Observer*

            For all the big, scary language in most of the footers on these things, the recipient actually has no obligation. Otoh, the sender can be in major trouble. Nevertheless, something like a quick email saying “You have the wrong address, stop sending this, everything that comes here is going to spam and I’m not contacting you again” is a good idea. (Use punctuation, of course ;) )

      2. Connie-Lynne*

        I also have this happen a lot, as an early gmail adopter with a short username.

        For me, it depends on my mood — if it looks crucial, and it isn’t the umpteenth misdirected email I got that week, I’ll respond. If I’ve gotten tons that week, I mark it as spam.

        You’ve gone over and above, Legalchef. She knows she has the wrong address, and she also must know she isn’t getting her email. I don’t think you have any further responsibility.

      3. AlaskaKT*

        I don’t understand the whole “gmail doesn’t see periods in email addresses” thing. I have my gmail as first.last@gmail and I regularly get emails to firstlast@gmail.com, but I was able to email her and we just forward incorrectly sent mail to each other. But I only get an email for her every couple months or so.

        1. Jane Dough*

          Dots don’t matter with Gmail. It ignores them. From Gmail’s help section:

          If the sender added or removed dots from your email address, the message will still go to your inbox. Your email address is unique; people can’t set up an identical account even with a different number or placement of dots.

          For example, messages sent to these addresses will go to the same Gmail account:


          If you still think the message was meant for someone else, contact the sender to let them know they mistyped the email address.

          Note: If you use Gmail through work, school, or other organization (like yourdomain.com or yourschool.edu), adding dots to your username changes your email address. To change the dots in your username, contact your admin.

          1. AlaskaKT*

            But I have first.last@gmail, and she has firstlast@gmail and we don’t always get eachothers emails, only a few times a year. So some if the time gmail must differentiate.

            1. Attractive Nuisance*

              Nope. One of you is wrong, probably her. It’s occasional because she only occasionally screws it up.

              1. Lightly-chewed Jimmy*

                you can log into your gmail account with either first.last or firstlast

        2. CAA*

          AlaskaKT@gmail.com and Alaska.KT@gmail.com are the exact same email address. Try getting a friend to send an email to you with and without the dot in it (or do it yourself from a work or other address). Then login to gmail and you’ll find that you do indeed see both emails in your inbox.

      4. Legalchef*

        See that just seems like so much work, especially since I had contact info for her and alerted her to the problem! At least in your situation it sounds like maybe the sender is making the error. In my situation the email doppelgänger is the one doing it.

        1. Observer*

          If it’s something sensitive or potentially important, use a standard text that you have ready (so just copy / paste) to respond ONCE to the sender and mark it as spam. Gmail will almost certainly start sending anything else from that address to spam so you don’t have to deal with the garbage in your inbox. I also wouldn’t bother with a long explanation or links. Just the basics that you aren’t the correct recipient and you’re not going to look at any more of their emails, much less make any effort to contact the correct person.

      5. Dawn*

        I have an uncommon name, but someone seems to think it’s their Gmail so I gets lots of stuff for them… but it’s in spanish.

    5. periwinkle*

      You’ve gone above and beyond. You can, with a clear conscience, delete or filter at will.

      I had a dual problem in which one person was using my (early adopter) Gmail address and another was using my (mine since 1999) phone number. Neither was apparently doing it for any malicious reason but it was really confusing when someone else’s name came up under my phone number at PetSmart and Lowe’s. It was even more confusing to get a reservation confirmation for a casino in Reno – I had actually stayed there once for a convention!

      I changed phone numbers since I had moved across the country and had intended to switch to a local number anyway. I still get the occasional website registration for the other person, and just delete them.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        I once got a call offering me a job as a sheet metal worker as someone put my number on a job application.

        I was quite confused given I was a journalist at the time!

      2. Zen Cohen*

        I have given out a wrong phone number to businesses for rewards purposes. I always switch the last two digits. It is a small act of resistance to maintain some pretend semblance of digital privacy but now I feel bad. I guess I’ll stop now.

        1. Al Lo*

          Most of the time, you can give (your area code)-867-5309 for rewards without setting up an account, like at a grocery store. Someone, somewhere will have set up an account using Jenny’s phone number, so if you just want the discount and aren’t collecting rewards specifically, that will typically work.

    6. nonegiven*

      It’s entirely possible for it to be another person with the same name.

      Call and leave a vm if you have to.

      Is there a new phone number in some of the info?

      Forward some of it to her, adding a warning at the top of the email, but she may have started a new email account. Then lock her out of everything you can access.

      1. Legalchef*

        I know it’s another person with the same name, I’ve already spoken with her. She just doesn’t type her full email when she signs up for stuff.

      2. Lison*

        I have my firstname.lastname@gmail.com and there is someone in the USA who apparently uses my email on occasion. When it is something banal I just ignore but I have a couple of times responded to legitimate businesses that were confirming appointments that im not the person they are looking for and if they have any other contact details they should use those because email won’t work oh and by the way please remove my address from your database. It has worked so far.

    7. Thlayli*

      I occasionally get emails for a guy who has the same name as me and I reply and copy him saying “you want [his correct email address], please adjust your records” or similar. It seems to work.

      It’s totally not your responsibility to tell the senders, but it might work!

  18. Sunflower*

    I started on anxiety meds this week. I went to a nurse prac. who specializes in this and had a psych eval. I started on zoloft 50 mg and she wants me to try 100 in 2 weeks as long as I’m feeling ok. I’ve never had side effects with medications so since I’m having them with this, they feel way worse than they probably are. Today was the first day I woke up not nauseous, my appetite has been down as well. I know I need to push through them and hope they go away. She also gave me visatril to take as needed as well as trazodone to help with my sleep(I haven’t slept a full night in years). I’ve never taken something ‘as needed’ but my guess is I won’t take it unless I really really feel like I need it.

    This might sound weird but how am I supposed to know if it’s working? I know I will never live an anxiety free life and my anxiety fluctuates from crippling to none so I’m not sure how to gauge if it’s working or not. I’m also not sure how I feel about all this. I’m nervous about the serious side effects (weight gain, disinterest in sex) and that I won’t be able to tell if I’m getting better or worse or still waiting or need to change my meds or dosage. I have a follow up appt in 6 weeks to go over all of this. I know a lot of folks here have dealt with this. Just looking for some reassurance and encouragement :)

    1. Junior Dev*

      Hugs. I take Pristiq for my anxiety and depression and it makes me nauseous if I don’t take it with food–do you take the Zoloft with food?

      Also, you don’t need to live with side effects and hope they go away. In my experience it can take up to about two weeks for a new antidepressant to stabilize, if you have side effects longer than that you should talk to your doctor about getting a different medication.

      For me, I know my current meds are helping for several reasons:

      1) I have the energy to do a lot more of the self care that manages my mental health: exercise, a consistent sleep schedule, seeing friends.

      2) my default emotional state is a lot better

      Maybe try journaling about your day each night so you can look back on trends.

      I hope you can get to a place where you feel both physically and mentally well.

      1. Tookie Clothespin*

        I was on Zoloft for a long time and the GI side effects were debilitating when I first started. I remember an awful holidays visiting family because I was so sick. Once I was on my actual dose for a while, I was fine and on it for 7 years. I had to go off for a while two years ago (terrible idea. Basically the doctor that took me off should never have done so). When I went back to medication after my break my therapist prescribed Lexapro because the GI side effects aren’t as prevalent. It’s been great. No side effects at all.

        For me, I know it’s working if I’m not having daily panic attacks and feel a bit more stable, like I can live every day life. Of course, I still get anxious, but it isn’t as dramatic. I also know it’s working because I’m able to leave the house which I wasn’t doing when the doctor took me off the meds. I do find I need regular therapy in conjunction with the meds for stability.

    2. MechanicalPencil*

      I take daily medication for migraines, and the side effects can vary wildly. If what you experience significantly impacts your quality of life (disinterest in sex, weight gain/loss, extreme loss of appetite, dizziness, etc), you absolutely need to tell your doctor. I’ve played what I refer to as medicine roulette to find a workable solution. I can’t really help in this arena, but you should be able to have candid conversations about not liking a medication. Unfortunately/thankfully there is a whole market of prescription drugs available.

    3. ..Kat..*

      I recommend trying the trazadone before you need it – and do it when you don’t have any obligations the next day. I know people who swear by it. But I also know people who were so logy the next day that they were not safe to drive a car. If it does make you sluggish the next day, you can try halving the tablets and see what happens.

      Be patient, side effects can diminish with time. Also, it can take 8 weeks or longer for the benefits to kick in. Do not discontinue medications like Zoloft (SSRIs) suddenly. Many of them need to be tapered off slowly.

      And finally, don’t be discouraged if Zoloft does not work for you or the side effects become unbearable. Another medication in this class could still be effective for you or have fewer side effects.

      I give this advice as both a nurse and a successful taker of SSRIs.

      Good luck!

    4. Birdbrain*

      I take Zoloft mostly for depression, but also some anxiety. I had some side effects like increased anxiety, lack of appetite and minor nausea when I started it. They didn’t last more than a couple of weeks. If they persist for you, there’s nothing wrong with asking to try something else.

      My mood fluctuates too, so I find it really hard to judge if something is working in the moment. It was helpful to keep track of “bad days” on a calendar because it was something very simple that I could do quickly. You can just mark the days where you have significant anxiety, or you can rank them out of ten. You can then see trends at a glance: if you look back and notice fewer bad days, or the bad days are less crippling, that’s a sign that it’s working. Everyone reacts differently, but in my case starting medication was life-changing.

      Also, congratulations on taking this step!

  19. Namast'ay in Bed*

    Alison, have you ever considered doing an Ask A Manager podcast? I love this site and I love advice podcasts, and my favorite is when those come together! The episodes you appear on Dear Prudence and Hannah and Matt Know It All are some of my most repeated listens.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes! I’ve even lined up a sponsor. I was waiting until I was done with a major project, which has now happened … but now with the move this summer, I might not turn to it until fall.

      I’m also having trouble figuring out how to make it valuable beyond the print version. Like, if it’s just me answering letters but doing it out loud instead of in writing, is that really all that fun? There are ways to make it more interesting — have guests, have letter-writers on the phone so there’s interaction, etc. — but those are also a lot more work-intensive. And I am really eager to have less work rather than more since I’ve been over-scheduled for years now and am trying hard to change that. So I’m not sure!

      1. Junior Dev*

        I think the Dear Prudence podcast is a good example of this–Mallory will talk about stuff that’s not just in the letters but share general opinions and thoughts. You could comment on something in the news, you could have guests on who help you answer questions and also interview the guests a little about their experiences with work.

        1. Junior Dev*

          I know you don’t do these too often but I love the interviews you do with commenters who have weird jobs! I also love the Nieces columns. Maybe​ weird job commenters and the Nieces could be your guests.

          1. copy run start*

            I would love to hear more weird jobs and even just jobs in general! What is it really like being a OTR truck driver? How about aircraft mechanic? What DOES a CEO actually do all day?

          2. Elizabeth West*

            Oh, a podcast would be the PERFECT place for the interviewers! And Nieces, yay! I would definitely subscribe for those, and I’m not much for podcasts at all.

      2. Anonymous Educator*

        If you’re talking about value to your readers, I don’t think the two would be mutually exclusive. I could easily follow the blog and listen to the podcast. I do the same for Dan Savage (read his advice column and listen to his podcast).

        I also think, even though there will be a significant overlap, you’ll probably get a lot of extra people listening who wouldn’t necessarily read this blog (some people are just into podcasts).

        1. Kay*

          +1 to this – I was just thinking that the Savage Lovecast might be an interesting model, of answering questions but digging deeper and talking about a philosophy and framework behind it, with guests and interviews as appropriate.

          Also, you should have your nieces as guests to answer questions!

      3. Namast'ay in Bed*

        Ha I would personally love even a “Alison just reads Ask A Manager” podcast so I could listen to the blog on my commute, but that’s just me being selfish ;-)
        I love what the other people suggested here. I feel even without guests you’d be able expand past your normal advice with personal annecdotes/experience/etc that lend itself more to being spoken than written. (But that might just be me selfishly really wanting this to happen :-) )

      4. Anonymous Poster*

        Yes, guests! Invite people to come on and talk about their jobs, since it could expand beyond the advice column to overall career advice.

        Like, I’d love to listen to how people got to where they are in their careers, how they chose their majors and what that led to, unusual jobs and experiences, and the things you’d never expect were real jobs that you can get paid for!

        I’d love to tune in. And let me know if you want to talk to a former NASA flight controller for the space station!

  20. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    So, last Friday, after having broken her leg in four places (third health problem in a year that meant time off work, second problem that limited her mobility and made me wait on her), my wife’s father died.

    I feel really bad for her, but still, travel (and flying coach), with her when she uses a walker and wheelchair is so frustrating. And I’ve had to miss 3.5 days of work and find a new contract gig. So I am worried about money too.

    And to top it all off, we were quoted $260 or so for a rental car for these five days away- if the company picks the car. However, their pick could not physically take her wheelchair with us, so the agent offered an upgrade-not mentioning that that would bring the cost up to $430, until we had to pay.

    I feel that they took advantage of my wife’s temporary handicap and our exhaustion (it was 98 degrees out and I had just pushed her everywhere while carrying luggage for two by the time we got to the rental counter, so I was in no shape to negotiate).

    1. kms1025*

      That’s awful…I feel for your wife, and for you as her caregiver. Would it help to complain to the rental agency once you are at home?

    2. NaoNao*

      Wow you two just can NOT win! This is not your year so far!
      I’m so sorry about this.
      I don’t have any advice, just commiserations.

    3. Gaia*

      Hmmm if you are in the US they may not be able to charge you for that. I’m definitely not a lawyer but when I worked for a car rental company we were told very explicitely that if someone had a mobility or other disability which meant they needed at least type Y but they asked for type X we were legally not allowed to charge them the difference.

      I’d call in and ask to speak with a manager or someone in their special needs department.

      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        Oh, I did one better. Looked it up and you were right about that being an illegal practice. Am filing state AG and DOJ Civil Rights Division complaints for violating the ADA (or at least that’s what I’m going to tell the manager I’ll do if I don’t get the refund!)

        1. Stinky Socks*

          Good. Car rental places have *got* to stop screwing people over to get every last nickle out of them.

        2. Gaia*

          I’m really glad you aren’t just accepting that. Too often people just give in to crap like this when they are over extended and it is absolute bull feces. Sometimes the only way these companies learn is by asserting our rights. I’m sorry you had to deal with this (on top of everything else) and wish you an easy path in recovering what is due to you.

    4. ..Kat..*

      I am sorry for your wife’s loss and your difficulties.

      I believe you mentioned abuse in your wife’s past. This trip might bring up memories that make her relive the abuse or make a step back in her progress. Just wanted to warn you so you are prepared.

      Make time to take care of yourself, too. Caregiving is difficult work.


  21. Emily*

    I ran my first half marathon two weeks ago!

    It went great, minus some small digestive issues I was having – I finished in 2:07:02! (I was secretly hoping to finish around 2:10, but would’ve been okay with being slower than that, so I was very pleased.) The race day conditions were also great, both physically (it was cool and overcast) and emotionally (it was a very friendly, low-pressure women’s race with people of all ages and abilities participating).

    My success has made me want to sign up for another one (with the proper training, I think I could get faster!), but I’m going to wait a little while to see if it’s feasible to do all of my summer sports AND train for a second half marathon.

    1. Merci Dee*

      How wonderful that you were able to achieve such a goal! And I’m impressed that you were able to beat the time you wanted, even if you weren’t feeling 100%. I hope your next half marathon goes even better!

    2. EA*

      I’m considering doing a half.

      If you don’t mind me asking, how did you train? Did you follow one of the schedules online?

      1. Emily*

        I didn’t follow a specific training schedule, though I imagine that a lot of the online plans would work just fine. I ran several (usually 2 or 3) times a week and gradually increased the distances over the span of a few months. By the end of my training, a typical week might be something like 5 miles on Wednesday, 5 miles on Friday, and 10+ miles on Sunday. (Plus rock climbing and strength training on other days, but I don’t think that those really helped or hindered my running performance.)

        Since it was my first half marathon, I focused more on being able to run the full distance than I did on increasing my speed. (I don’t know how often/how far/how fast you typically run now, but I started my training as someone who could comfortably run a 5k around a 10 min/mile pace.) I probably went a little faster on my shorter runs than I did on the longer ones, but I didn’t do any interval training or tempo runs. I think that if I do another half marathon, I might add in some dedicated speedwork.

        1. Bazinga*

          Way to go! For the person asking about a training plan, try the 12 week one on halfmarathons.net.
          General advice: practice everything in training. Don’t wear anything new on race day, including the race shirt. You don’t know how this will rub, itch, etc. Try different energy gels, see what you like. Same for food the morning of. Don’t eat anything different than training days.
          And go for it. I started basically from scratch to a half marathon in 4 months, after an injury and unrelated surgery. And I’m not athletic. Plus I was 40 when I ran my first half.
          Since then I’ve done 11 more halfs, a full, and I’m training for my second full marathon-Chicago in October.

  22. Stacy*

    Okay EDSers, hot on the heels of last week’s threads (which I still need to catch up on!) I took a fall at work the other day. Or, actually, my chair took a fall with me in it. While I was working with a customer, so not embarrassing at all!

    Everything hurts and/or is tight and stiff. I don’t think anything is terribly injured, because of course we bend instead of breaking, but what tips might I not be thinking of? I’ve been using arnica oil liberally, some magnesium oil, and I am already on a good NSAID and muscle relaxers. I also already happen to have a massage therapy appt scheduled for this afternoon. I want to just curl up and sleep, but I know I should keep moving as much as I can. But my BP has also been a little wonky this week, so in that regard I feel better when I sit still with Netflix, salty snacks, and plenty of water.

    This week has not been my favorite.

    1. kms1025*

      I am so sorry…no advice other than be sure you talk to a doc, and pamper yourself. The victim of my own falls and no logical reason why I can’t walk correctly without stumbling. No grace at all in this body :(

      1. Stacy*

        Same! And I should have mentioned I told my primary care doc & neurologist because I had appts with them anyway. Primary care ran me through some range of motion tests for my shoulder, elbow & wrist just because I was already there for my sinuses and it was just a few hours after the fall. And today I called and scheduled an official appt for next week. I’m probably doing all the right things, I just want a magic wand.

    2. Junior Dev*

      Can you take a hot bath, or visit a hot tub? That often helps me with pain and muscle tension.

      1. Stacy*

        Heat feels good, but seems to make it worse later. Probably encouraging inflammation. I might try the hot tub after work one day next week though!

        1. EDS academic*

          I am on a run of freezer gel packs. I hate cold and always feel better after a hot bath but my PT talked me into hot then cold.

          When bad things happen sometimes taking to your bed like a victorian heiress is the way to go. Simple meals like protein smoothies. distracting tv. most recently I streamed The Americans.

    3. AlaskaKT*

      If this was me, I’d double up on my turmeric and go to a chiropractor.

      Also, I know how embarrassing that can be. I biffed it in Home Depot and legitimately gave my self whip lash. My husband said it was awful.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      It will just take time. When I fell while skating in January 2016 (lost my footing and landed flat on my back and sprained my neck), I was a MESS. I could not turn my head for a couple of days, and everything between my hips and my head hurt like hell for a week. I hit my head too and thought I might have had a mild concussion, as I had total brain fog for a couple of days, but it might have just been from being in so much pain.

      Warm showers were awesome. They helped loosen up the muscles and ease some of the soreness. If you have someone who can help you in and out of the bath, soaking might be good. I didn’t because my bathroom is gross and also I’m alone and didn’t want to sit down where I might not be able to get back up again.

    5. Ella*

      Physical therapy! I was rear ended last month and though it was low speed the soreness was intense for a few weeks. I also did muscle relaxers & heat but the PT (&prescribed exercises) seems to have helped a lot. Good luck!

  23. Laura*

    So my friend’s visit has come and gone. She and I had a wonderful time and we’re both unsure about where the two weeks went.

    I got to play home tourist a bit which was fun. Fortunately normal is setting back in with minimal negative effects. And she got home safe so I’m super happy about that!!!!

  24. Sugar of lead*

    I kinda lowkey want to try therapy; life has been stressful and while I’m not stabbing myself with a pen to get through the day anymore, I still do not deal with stress very well, and I run a little paranoid because I can’t read affect. Multiple people have recommended therapy, saying it did wonders for them, but the best experience I’ve ever had with it was a lot like talking to an echo chamber–she just repeated back everything I told her with slightly different wording. You do not want to know what the worst experience was like. In between, we mostly have people who seemed hell-bent on misunderstanding everything I told them to the point that I just gave up and let them roll with it, which is more exhausting than therapeutic and just reminded me how incompatible I am with the rest of the human race. Seriously, how warped do you have to be that someone whose job it is to understand people can’t understand you?

    My question is a) is there anyone else out there who’s struck out repeatedly like this and b) what am I doing wrong? I want the good, beneficial experience that everyone keeps talking about.

    1. fposte*

      None of those sound like CBT or DBT, which are more action-oriented. Have you looked into those?

    2. katamia*

      I really think it depends a lot on your personality. Different people are just going to mesh better with different therapists. I generally need someone to kind of kick my ass a little bit (I know what my problems are and usually just need help finding/sticking to solutions) and not let me get away with things, whereas someone else might need someone who treats them much more gently or might not really be sure what’s wrong and need someone to do more analysis to figure out where the problem really is.

      Much as it sucks, there’s not much you can do beyond just continuing to try different people. If you have friends or family members who you feel have a good understanding of what you need, you could try asking for recommendations, too. If there’s a specific issue (e.g, depression, anxiety, ADHD, autism–not saying you have any of these conditions, just naming them as examples), you could also look for organizations that address that condition and see if they have a list of therapists that specialize in whatever it is.

    3. Ramona Flowers*

      I promise it’s not you. There are some cruddy therapists out there sadly.

      The good ones do exist but I don’t know how I found mine, in the end it was luck.

    4. Junior Dev*

      I’m in therapy now and have been for years. When I found my current therapist, I looked on the Good Therapy website. I contacted several therapists for consultations and rejected the first one I saw since she seemed more of the “let me talk without feedback” type.

      You are paying for a service and you get to shop around and ask about your concerns. It’s not a sure bet you’ll get a helpful therapist, but talk to several (many will do an initial session for free), ask about your concerns and if they can help you in the way you want, and take notes after. Then decide once you’ve seen several which one is best for you or if you need to keep looking.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I went to counseling twice in my life and both times the people were… weird, twisted.

      I think what I would do differently if I had to go again, is I would ask friends who have mentioned to me that they went for counseling. If nothing else, I’d get a good list of who to stay away from. But if they did recommend someone, I would ask,”why did you like this person?”. Some answers are stronger than other answers and some answers may resonate more with you personally.

    6. Schmitt*

      Last week my therapist ended the session by telling me that I am unfriendly and arrogant, because I don’t smile right when I greet her, and she doesn’t like the face I make when I am listening.

      She is now my former therapist. I got nothin’.

      1. TheLazyB*

        What the what?!? I’m so glad you added that last paragraph.

        But sorry you had to hear it!

    7. Anon attorney*

      I am on therapist #4 and she’s a keeper. Sometimes it’s just a question of trying them out. Also of trusting your own impression of a therapist; if it’s not working, it’s not you, and it’s ok to either bring that up with the therapist or move on.

    1. Ajaya*

      Yes, but unfortunately also not surprised. I’m more worried about the message these verdicts will continue to signal.

    2. Dr. Doll*

      Saddened by the entire situation. No verdict would bring him back.

      I spend time with law enforcement, and it certainly provides a different perspective. Unless we were in the courtroom hearing everything the jurors heard and engaged in their debate, we cannot come to a decision with comparable rigor — and our system of justice is that we trust them.

      Whether our system of *retributive* rather than *restorative* justice is serving us, I think is a different question, and I’m thinking Not.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I think the news media should include why something was decided the way it was. I read a couple articles trying to understand how this conclusion was reached and I still don’t understand. I had to read several articles just to find out he cannot return to his job.
        I have no words, none.

        1. Dr. Doll*

          I agree. I would like to understand this, to the extent possible.

          In fact the media’s…selectivity…is a major gripe of law enforcement. “Tell the whole damn story” is a phrase I hear fairly often. …of course as a devoted NPR and BBC follower I hope I’m getting a more complete picture than if I listened to, ah, not those outlets.

          I grieve, greatly. For those who are harmed, “justified” or not, and for my dear, beautiful, wild, flailing nation.

          …and we should end here. It’s the weekend free for all on a politics free zone. Bless us every one. No exceptions.

    3. Transitioning*

      Sad doesn’t even begin to explain the pain. The hate and obscene mistreatment and disregard of African-Americans in this country is utterly astounding. Being black in this country is an unfortunate and unimaginably galling yolk.

    4. JenM*

      Not surprised but sad. Being in fear of your like now seems to mean “eek a black person”.

    5. TheLazyB*

      Oh my god. I just looked it up. I’m #surprisednotsurprised I guess. Not right, not right at all.

  25. Anon for today*

    My boyfriend is moving out. He hasnt told me yet. We have been together over 3 years and living together for over a year. him me and my teenaged children. I am pissed bevause he is not on the lease . We aren’t fighting. There wasn’t some big blow out. He has decided he isn’t good enough and has checked out. I am upset but I am not.

    1. NaoNao*

      Hmm. I’m sorry to hear that.
      I actually think it might be better, all things considered, that he’s not on the lease. You won’t have to remove him officially from the lease and he has no standing to, say, get drunk and angry and try to kick you out. The home where you and your children live is still in your name, which is good.
      If I’m misunderstanding and *neither* of you are on the lease (like he’s subletting under the table and you live with him?) then my sympathies.
      I know it’s very hard right now; but as you said, since he decided he’s not good enough (ugh. why do men say/do this? HOW ABOUT BECOMING GOOD ENOUGH! /endrant) he’s probably…not.
      I would do a couple things immediately:
      Get your financial house straight. Take him off any accounts, including Amazon, Netflix, bank accounts, authorized user, etc.
      Even if there was no “blow out” things can get ugly fast in a breakup.
      Decide how you personally want to handle it. Then stick to that. If you want no contact, block him on all fronts after one final message “Ex, I’m sad to hear that you’re no longer interested in being with me. I accept this as your choice, but I need to have a clean break. Please don’t call, email, or visit. Thanks.”
      If you want to stay friends, or let him be in your kids’ life, that’s fine too, just set boundaries and make sure he knows them and sticks to them.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      You are upset but you’re not. It must be that you saw signs of this right along?
      When people decide they are not good enough, there is probably little that one person (like an SO) can do. They need several people helping them. I hope he gets the help he needs at some point. I am sorry.

  26. kms1025*

    So last week I posted with an unabashed plea for sympathy with a dislocated, and as it turns out, broken elbow. Had surgery on Wednesday and severe reaction to the anesthesia (when it rains it pours time). Finally feeling mostly human again, on strong pain meds, and firmly in recuperating stage. Plus, now I have this handy, dandy metal implant in my elbow where the crushed radial head was removed. I hope to take no more steps towards being a bionic woman :). Thanks for the warm fuzzies last week :)

    1. Jules the First*

      Glad you’re feeling human again!

      On the bright side, bionic joints don’t get arthritis (says mid-30s girl with two dodgy hips, two wonky ankles, and a wrecked hand….)

  27. KatieKate*

    I have been deep cleaning the kitchen this morning and now my arm is covered in some kind of rash. The weird part–it’s my upper arm, nowhere close to my body that was touching chemicals? So bizarre!

    I feel so gross but my kitchen is so clean now :D

    1. JulieBulie*

      Your skin is one great big single organ, and sometimes the rash doesn’t show up where you expect it to!

      I wish I had a clean kitchen. But every time I try to clean it, I suddenly seem to remember a more urgent task.

  28. Rebecca*

    My Dad has been gone for 8 weeks now, and I’ve been doing my best to help my Mom but I’m really struggling. It feels like nothing is good enough and I don’t have enough time besides working full time, having my own home, and taking care of things for her to do anything but run run run until I fall exhausted into bed, toss and turn, then get up to do it all over again. I could really use the summer off to regroup and get things done, but that will never happen.

    Example: I tried to use the hedge trimmers to cut back some holly bushes, and Mom of course supervised, and when I was done, she wasn’t really happy with the way they look, and said “maybe you should just pull them out”. Which is OK, I can hook the truck up to them and pull them out of the ground, but I wish she would have come to that decision before I spent 1.5 hours trimming them. I know she’s sad and grieving, and I am too, so I let it all go.

    The hardest thing so far has been sorting through Dad’s clothes for donation and handing over his hunting camp treasurer’s stuff to the next treasurer. I am so impressed with him. All these years he kept the ledger and used cash to pay the bills, and when we reconciled the cash to the ledger, it was off by just a single dollar.

    I’m making some progress on letting people know by word of mouth about selling the tractors and antique vehicles. I’m not advertising them in media because I don’t want to deal with a bunch of nonsense from people calling and texting endlessly, and this will give me time to find the manuals, etc. in the meantime.

    Oh, and my Mom finally bought a car, but she doesn’t know how to “make it go” as she puts it, and I warned her to buy something simple. One of my friends took her on his day off (he drove it home for her), which was great, but now she’s second guessing the purchase, wondering if she made the right decision, maybe this isn’t the right car…OMG. I know someone who has the same make and similar model, so she’s going to stop by and help Mom later today. I really have no clue, and I’m pressed for time today so I’m “calling in an expert”.

    Just send some good wishes my way. Not looking forward to tomorrow at all, so I might just take a few hours and take a bike ride to decompress.

    1. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

      I’m so sorry you’ve lost your father and are struggling with this side of grief. Is it possible to slow down on the “outprocessing” of your father’s items? Maybe that will help your mother adapt if not everything is changing at once.

      1. Rebecca*

        Seeing Dad’s clothes makes Mom cry and upsets her, so the run of the mill/not special items are getting donated, and special things, like shirts that were made for him with his cars on them, or his fire company shirts have been folded up and put in a cabinet until we can make a memory quilt, but out of sight.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. I also want to say that I’m really impressed with your dad, too, for keeping such a balanced ledger! I lost my mom about 9 years ago and she was the one who took care of household bills. When she died, my dad took over. One of my sisters and I had to teach him, and we took turns balancing the checkbook. That was…fun, to say the least. I have to give him credit, he really tried hard, but it was tough for him. Especially the last year or two when he was declining. Finally my sister took over and got things back in order. We lost him about three months ago, so I know what you’re going through as far as having to deal with cleaning out the house and all that; it’s tough.

      1. Rebecca*

        And when I say ledger, it’s putting it loosely :) It’s a re-purposed calendar planner from the early 1970’s. Dad made handwritten entries, plus and minus, what they were for, dates, everything precise. No calculators, no spreadsheets, and the money was in three bundles, stored in a paper sack with a string around it. I am still marveling that it was only $1 off after all those years. And the change was right on too, 47 cents exactly.

    3. Hellanon*

      My condolences.

      And you know, your mom may be angry – really, seriously, bone-deep angry – with your dad, and feeling guilty because of it, and you’re the only place for her to put that anger. I saw that when my grandfather died. My grandmother was absolutely furious that he’d left her… logic to the contrary, that’s part of how she was experiencing his death, and it was so hard for her to come to terms with the anger on top of loss. (Not that it makes it easier, but more understandable, maybe?)

      1. Sled dog mama*

        Yes, this many people experience anger at the person who died. It’s totally normal, I was so pissed at my grandmother when she died 7 years ago but she was 81, bed-ridden and very ill. The bigger problem is the guilt some people feel because they are angry at someone who died.
        Support your mom by letting her know that everything she feels is right and normal, it’s her grief and it’s a very personal experience no one can say she’s doing it wrong because no one is her.
        My condolences on the loss of your father and you remember that there is no right or wrong to grief there is just grief.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Grief fills up so much of our brain space that it makes it really hard to make decisions. Decision fatigue is real. I can vouch for that.
      I know that cleaning up estates can take the better part of a year, for just a small estate. Larger estates may take longer.
      I’d like to suggest that mom could be encouraged to only make decisions that are necessary for right now. Other decisions can be made later. If she wants she could make a list of things she will decide on later.

      I think you are an only child (me, too) or perhaps you have sibs but they are not close by. I know first hand that taking care of the parents can run us ragged. I ended up in the hospital from exhaustion. Draw your lines. Explain that you have x amount of energy and you can only help her where she needs you the most.
      You can coach her to say yes when other people offer to help. For example, there must be someone around who could help with the holly shrubs. But anyway, the important thing is for her to say yes more often. People will only ask a couple of times, if they receive all nos then they will stop asking. She needs to say yes more.

      I am not sure how old your mom is, am thinking 50s-60s? And I don’t know how close you live to her. We were about a half hour away from my MIL when my FIL died. The first weeks were intense but after a bit we had to go back to life. It was that or go bankrupt. So we set one day a week where we went to her house and helped her. And we took her grocery shopping one night a week. It did not solve all her problems.
      Life is unfair like that, as long as we are living we need to participate in our own care and the care of what we own. As gently as possible maybe you can encourage her that she needs to make a plan for things. Such as make a plan to get the lawn mowed, make a plan to get the driveway shoveled, etc. Let her know that you cannot run/maintain two households, she has to participate.

      A family member was leaning on her only child too much after losing her husband. I said to that family member, “Be careful. You will burn her right out. Think. What you really need her to help you with are personal things like finances and health issues. You can hire or barter with someone to get your windows washed or dig your garden. Anyone can do that stuff. There will be times where you need someone who really knows you to help you with a question, that is when you call her.”
      I hope I can encourage you along the same lines. There are some things that any one can do and it will be fine. There are other things where you as a daughter are definitely needed. Encourage her to start building plans for the longer term. The year of firsts is very difficult as it involves revamping almost everything in life. Now is the time to build those plans. Because you are right, you cannot continue at this pace indefinitely. (BTDT) If nothing else works tell her that you will end up in the hospital and then she will have to build plans because you will not be available from your hospital bed.

      She has been very fortunate to have you, you have been like three kids rolled into one for her. Again, unfairly, part of processing grief is processing all the life changes that come with a loss. Participating more will help her process her own grief.
      FWIW, I think you are a mighty fine person.

      1. Rebecca*

        Yes, only child here, and Mom is 81 :) Dad and Mom would have been married for 59 years last month; he died a month and a day short of their anniversary. And yesterday was the 2 month mark; he died April 16 and it was June 16. Mom said she needs to get at least the clothing we’re going to donate sorted out because she cries every time she sees it. We’re keeping keepsakes, and just normal clothes are going to the thrift store. I suggested a memory quilt with particular items to make the patches, and she thought that was a great idea, so I’m going to find someone to help.

        She has a house cleaner that comes every other week for a few hours, and Mom is very able both physically and mentally to do laundry, cook, wash a few dishes, etc. I’m very grateful for that. Once she learns how to work her new car she’ll be back on the road making short trips to town and the library. Her old car (19 years old) has a head gasket problem (oil in antifreeze and vice versa) and is on its last legs.

        Mom’s next door neighbor will plow the driveway, got that covered, and I have partial coverage on lawn mowing, which thankfully only takes 1 hour and 20 minutes on the new mower Dad bought the other year. It goes fast and powers through the grass. I put my earbuds in, listen to my audio book, and chill and mow. I like doing it.

        Thankfully I have help from the neighbors and other friends, so like when Mom’s air conditioner needed to be put in the window, I had help and it was an easy job. The central vacuum is giving me a headache, so I called another person I know, and she recommended a shop owner who makes housecalls in the evening! How cool is that?

        For my part, I went to a picnic this afternoon and visited with my best friend from high school and other people in the town I grew up in. It was wonderful.

        Thank you for all the suggestions :)

    5. ..Kat..*

      Ask him what you can do. Seriously, he can tell you what is most meaningful for him.

      I am so sorry for your losses.

    6. Mimmy*

      I hope the bike ride brought you a little bit of relaxation. I can’t think of anything more peaceful and restorative than spending time for yourself in the fresh air (I assume the weather was nice!)’

      I see from your reply down thread to Not So New Reader that you have some support – definitely do not be afraid to use that support. I do not want to see you run down physically and mentally.

      Wishing you peace – sending warm, healing internet hugs to you and your mom.

    7. SusanPNW*

      Sending you best wishes. Such a tough time!!

      My father died over a year ago, and it was a long haul getting everything straightened out (account name changes, changes in Social Security, etc). So you do need to pace yourself. Everything seems to take forever. My Mom has been gradually clearing my Dad’s things out, but there are still a few things left. There’s no deadline on getting rid of his clothes and personal items.

      My mom had never done any of the finances, so that has been a huge learning curve for her. We found a good financial planner and consolidated all her resources in one place in investment vehicles that don’t require a lot of her attention, which has a been a big help. I have regularly helped her with her checkbook balancing, etc. My sister helps her with her long term financial decisions and taxes. Unfortunately my mom has become more forgetful recently and has been making mistakes, so I am pretty much taking over for her. So make sure you are on top of what is happening financially for your mom.

      One thing we kids sort of insisted on was getting my Mom to agree to put her name on a waiting list at an independent living place that also has assisted living. She doesn’t want to leave her place, but we want her to have a plan in case it becomes necessary. So you might want to bring that up in a few months.

      I take part in a online support forum for people taking care of their elderly parents. It has been very helpful, not only for moral support but also for very practical advice. You might try to find something like that. I would suggest mine, but it is an off-topic thread in a website devoted one of my particular hobbies, so unless you are a sewer it probably wouldn’t be for you.

      I hope you went on that bike ride!! How wonderful that you mom has you to help, so be good to yourself so you can keep it up.

  29. The Other Dawn*

    How can I best support my brother, who is terminally ill with Stage 4 cancer? He’s got probably less than five months left. I’m about 2.5 hours away, but I’ll be seeing him next weekend for my dad’s burial. He’s a very practical, logical person (and so am I), so I’m torn between just acting as though nothing is going on and letting him bring it up as he wants or needs to and talking about it practically, or just asking him how it’s going, etc. and probably getting all emotional (which I’ve done by myself almost everyday for the last month or so). On the one hand, he’s got to be tired of talking about it, as I know everyone is always asking him how he’s doing, but on the other I feel like I’m being disinterested or have a lack of concern if I don’t.

    1. EddieSherbert*

      I think you should talk to him about it – not at the burial though. Let that be about your dad, but if you are going to see him after, you should talk to him. Even if it’s just to say “hey, do you want to talk about this?”

      He might be tired of talking about it, but I think it’s better to show you’re concerned that “act normal and just hope he knows.”

      I’m sorry about your father, and your brother’s illness. Sending you good thoughts.

      1. EddieSherbert*

        I’m also super going to recommend you reach out to him now – visiting him while you can, or seeing if there’s anything he really wants to do while he can, or even just calling him to see what’s up.

        My brother passed away about 4 years ago from leukemia. I lived about 3 hours away at the time, but visited a lot… And I have a lot of gratefulness for our time together at the end, along with sadness that I couldn’t be there more.

    2. fposte*

      If you’re not sure, I’d err on the side of bringing it up. I’d rather be tired of people’s sympathy and interest than think they don’t have any.

      I’d also come with some suggestions about things you might do to help so it’s not all on him. “Bob, I was thinking I might be able to come up to buy the kids new clothes/wash the zebra in July. Would that be useful?” “Bob, we talk on the phone about once a month now–what would you think about changing that to once a week?”

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Speak up.
      My husband’s sibs did NOT. Then he was gone.
      Talk with him. Tell him whatever you have to say. “Bro, this fn sucks and I think you got a bad shake in life.” Just say it, whatever “it” may be.
      Be sure to tell him you love him.

      Say what you need to say. IF it is wrong somehow, then apologize with sincerity, and continue talking with him. Ask him where his concerns are, what does he think about. Then just listen.

    4. The Other Dawn*

      I think part of the issue I’m having is that I don’t even know what to talk to him about, other than superficial stuff. I’d said last week that he was in prison for almost my whole life, so basically I got to know him through letters, short weekly calls, and the occasional visit. He’s only been around for about the past 12 years. Plus there’s a pretty big age difference– he’s 20 years older. We usually talk about our favorite shows, the cats (we both have them), and maybe a couple other things. Beyond that, it’s tough to come up with much. I manage, but it can be a struggle sometimes (even before he got sick). I know I’ll get through it and it will happen naturally, but I do think about it a lot.

      1. fposte*

        What about family stories from before you were born and before he went to prison? You may wish you knew them one day, and he’s a source.

      2. Sled dog mama*

        You could take the approach I have taken with my 29 year old brother who was diagnosed with type 1 diabeties last year.
        When he was first diagnosed I told him that I was probably going to ask questions he didn’t want to answer about his health and I promised not to be offended if he didn’t want to answer (or was sick of answering that question) as long as he remembered that I was asking because I care and want to talk to him, I also make sure that if I ask a question and he changes the topic to remember that topic it’s something I can ask about later.
        I’ve also tried hard to figure out the root of what I want to know, for example my brother is going on a big wilderness canoe trip in a few months, he’s been before but that was before his pancreas quit. I used to be an outdoor guide so I’ve helped people with managing diabetes in the wilderness before and been told it’s a bit different. I really wanted to make sure my brother knew that it would be different and he would need to be more vigilant. I realized that I really just wanted to know that he had thought about it and talked to someone about how managing his blood sugar could be different. So I asked had he talked to his doctor about how it could be different. That gave him the chance to give a yes or no and leave it (and if he said no planted the seed that maybe he should).

      3. the gold digger*

        I don’t know if this would be appropriate in your situation (and I am very sorry that you and your brother are going through this), but when my dad was in hospice, about a week before he died, we had a going-away party for him. We had a roomful of family, including my mom, my brother and my sister, his mother, my mom’s mother, his siblings and in-laws, some of my mom’s siblings, and some cousins. My aunt Pat brought a pitcher of old-fashioneds and we also had champagne. We talked about everyone he would see in heaven (including our cat, O’Malley, who had died 12 years before), and what they would do up there. It was super sad but also fun in a way because we were all together and we were acknowledging what was happening.

        1. TheLazyB*

          Oh wow that sounds like an amazing thing to do if you know someone is dying. I wish we could have since something similar before my grandparents died. Thank you for sharing GD, I’ll keep that in my back pocket in case I ever need it for myself or anyone else.

    5. Anono-me*

      My sympathies on the loss of your father and on your brother’s illness.

      I would suggest focusing on your father next weekend.

      Soon after that, I would suggest a brief conversation, telling him that you care about him and are upset, but as it is his cancer you would like to how he wants this issue addressed. I would also suggest asking him to please let you know if his feelings change.

      Please try to spend as much time with your brother as you can. Many times people with diagnosis like this windup isolated. Remember you don’t always have to talk, you could just watch shows together or enjoy a nice meal together.

      Also please remember to take care of yourself, it sounds like you’ve had a rough patch.

      1. Anon attorney*

        This is really great advice. Especially about the self care. So important especially after a series of losses/painful events.

        I think that if he wants to acknowledge that his life is coming to an end then one of the kindest and bravest things anyone can do is share that acceptance and give him the space to express his fear, anger, regret, etc.

        Make audio recordings. Everyone has photos but you miss hearing their voices.

        1. the gold digger*

          Yes to the video. We have a video of my dad that we made in hospice. It took me ten years before I could watch it, but I am so glad to have it. It was after Primo and I were married – Primo never met my dad. My dad started talking and Primo said, “Wow! Your dad had a really strong Wisconsin accent!”

          Which he did – he was from northern Wisconsin – but I had never noticed because you know, he’s my dad and he talked like my dad. So now I get a kick anytime I hear someone refer to a “bubbler” or say, “ainahay” because I always thought that was normal and now I know it’s something unique to my dad and the place he was from.

  30. EddieSherbert*

    So I applied for a puppy through a local rescue this week, and it ended up not working out due a mistake on their part. The rescue is completely volunteer run, so I give them SO MUCH CREDIT for doing what they do, and I get mistakes will happen but I was so disappointed!

    Basically, the volunteer who does their online posts got the dogs’ age incorrect (saying they were 6 weeks and going home early July), when they were 6 weeks when they came into the rescue… and are currently 8 weeks and ready to go home.

    I have vacation next week, so I can’t bring a puppy home today.

    The foster mom doesn’t have social media, so she called me, we both got surprises (come pick up your puppy! What? It said July pick up!), and at the end of the day, I didn’t get a furbaby :(

    They really handled everything well. The foster gave me her number so I can contact her right away if I see another critter I’d want to meet. The adoption coordinator called me the next day to apologize for everything. So professional. So Good.

    … still a little heartbroken (which is a little silly since I didn’t even have a chance to meet the pup).

    Just telling myself it just wasn’t meant to be!

    1. Lady Jay*

      Awww, I’d be a little heartbroken too. Getting a new puppy is exciting, and it’s sad to miss out on one. But you’ll get one soon enough!

    2. Annie Mouse*

      Maybe it wasn’t meant to be because the furbaby you’re going to give a forever home to is one you’re yet to meet. When I got my little fur ball, I went to one shelter who just threw up problem after problem, and then the cat I was interested wasn’t suitable. So my friend and I went to another shelter and I fell in love with the perfect cat there (who is currently going mad as I’m just in from work!). Good luck :)

      1. EddieSherbert*

        You were totally right! The puppy’s brother ended up having TWO applications fall through (the people cancelled their meet-and-greets at the last minute)… and I was next on the list! I’m meeting him tomorrow, and hopefully he’s coming home next week :)

        I’m so very excited!

  31. katamia*

    Looking to buy a region-free external DVD drive. Anyone have any recommendations for specific ones, either to consider or to avoid? The smaller the better, although I don’t want something super flimsy, either.

    1. fposte*

      Less a comment on specific brands than on a general problem–if you’re converting non-Blu-Ray DVDs to an HD TV, some of the interlacing algorithms get kind of visually funky. If possible, get information about how a specific player works with the TV you have. (It works best just to try them together, but that’s obviously not always easy to do.)

      1. katamia*

        Oh, it’s not for a TV (I’m going to another DVD region for a while and am not going to have a TV). It’s for my laptop, which doesn’t have a CD-ROM drive. I want something that can play DVDs, PC games, CDs, etc.

        1. fposte*

          Have you also looked at external drives? And are you looking for something that plays multiple regions or is something that plays your home region while you’re away going to do the trick?

          1. katamia*

            Multiple regions. I want to be able to play things from my home region, the region I’ll be in, and another region I might be traveling to in the future. I also like the idea of something I can use for a long time rather than just for this one trip.

            Not sure what you mean by external drives exactly. I’m looking for something I can plug into my computer, similar to the way you plug an external hard drive in a computer to look at the files that are on it.

            1. fposte*

              Oh, duh, you said “external drive” right in your first post–sorry! No wonder it was confusing.

              I haven’t shopped in those extensively, but I know it’s really common for DVD drives to have a 5-use limit before they make you pick a region, so that’s what you’re trying to avoid.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Years ago, my husband bought something online that he used with the DVD player we had. I think it came from the UK. He had to get Euros at the bank, I remember that. At that time, there was nothing he could find in the US.
      Probably does not help you that much though.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      I have an LG portable super multi drive that’s help up very well. It’s compact, but not flimsy, and has held up for years (I have the same multi-region problem, and don’t have legal access to most things I’d be interested in streaming).

      For other advice – VLC is an amazing piece of free software for playing videos of all sorts. For ripping stuff, Handbrake is also amazing and free. Both work on Mac, Windows and Linux.

  32. MechanicalPencil*

    I’ve reached my limit in so many ways. My immediate family sat me down for an intervention/inquisition about my SO. Who they’ve never met. I’m realizing as I spend time with them this weekend that I’m extremely different from them and it hurts a bit that I got blindsided. Like my values are different and politics and religious beliefs. I’m not sure whether to just have the blunt conversation about “hey SO and I may not go the marriage route. No, I’m not a raging conservative. No I don’t attend church and have no intention to” or just let it be. Life is weird.

    1. EA*

      I’ve gone through this. My parents are religious conservatives who have a big issue with people who are different from them. And I am well, different from them.

      I think you need to consider how your family would take the truth conversation, as well as what your goals are for the relationship. If you want to have a superficial relationship with your parents (not saying you do, I just have learned that is all I will get from mine because they cannot accept anyone not like them) it might be worth it to just smile and nod and live your life the way you want (this was my solution). If it’s stressful to hide your true self and you think they will come around, then maybe tell them, but I would recommend in small doses.

      I also think you need to consider intentions. Did they sit you down about your boyfriend because they are curious because he hadn’t been introduced? Or was this more ‘why aren’t you married’. If you were just like we are not in a rush, how would they react?

      On another note, I first started getting into therapy to learn how to set boundaries with my parents (shut them down when they would go on about my life choices) and it was very helpful.

      1. MechanicalPencil*

        I have a list of therapists to contact and I need to get back to that. Conversational boundaries would be helpful but they’re seeing a lot of it as me being too private and not sharing enough. And their concerns about the SO is that I don’t talk about our relationship and we’ve been dating for a few years and “is it serious”. My issue with it all is that they’ve never asked how our relationship is. It all boils down that if you want to know ask the question for me. It’s what I do.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Somehow, I am thinking this is a snap shot of a larger problem.
          Sat you down for an intervention? Really? What looks like a word choice problem could actually be a methods problem.

          When people don’t bring home SOs or friends there are reasons for that.

    2. Temperance*

      I dealt with this with my own family, and still deal with it with my in-laws. My parents are evangelical Christians and super right-wing. My in-laws are Catholic and for some reason assumed I was going to convert to marry Booth (lol no). We’re liberal atheists.

      I pulled back from my family because I couldn’t deal with their hatred / judgment and their constant pushing of their values as the only way to live. I tried the blunt request, and making my positions clear, and they didn’t respect it. Even after years of affirming that we weren’t going to be evangelicals OR catholic, our families would randomly demand or ask about us finding a church home.

      I guess it depends on what kind of relationship you want.

  33. Ajaya*

    I’d like to start learning about stocks and investing, and to just improve my financial literacy in general. Any resources you’d recommend? Honestly, I have no idea where to start.

    1. KatieKate*


      they have some amazing guides and faqs, and are a really supportive community for beginners!

    2. fposte*

      William Bernstein’s free pamphlet “If You Can” and the Bogleheads wiki.

      Mostly you don’t need to know about stocks, because you want mutual funds, not individual stocks. If you go through your entire life without owning an individual stock, you will almost certainly be financially better off.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Yes, this. Either a timed retirement fund, which basically gets less and less risky/volatile as you approach the date (the fund is usually called something like “Retirement 2050 Fund”), or if you’re going to leave it invested for decades, an S&P index fund. Basically, an index fund approximates a stock index (Dow Jones, NASDAQ, S&P) [1]. If you read up on funds, they all try to say how they outperformed the S&P 500 index for a year, or the last two years. But in the long run, it’s really, really hard to do, so why not just invest in what they all seem to consider the standard for performance? The key benefit is that, because the fund is fairly simple, the expenses are usually about as low as you can get for a mutual fund. For the same rate of return, if your fees are 1% higher when you start investing in your 20s, you could be losing $590,000 in gains by the time you retire![2]

        Links to follow in a reply.

        1. fposte*

          I run to total market instead of the S&P, but that’s more about philosophy than any significant advantage, and I actually have a fair bit in an S&P 500 index because that’s the cheap large cap in my 457.

          The first big difference is between putting money away and not putting money away.
          The second big difference is between putting money in low-expense funds and companies and high-expense places.

          The differences after that matter a jillion times less than those two.

          (I know we’re kindred spirits on this, CA; I’m just continuing the thread.)

        1. fposte*

          Not really. What you want are low-cost vehicles, period. There are high expense ETFs and low-expense mutual funds. It’s true that you may shave a basis point off if you get the ETF version of the mutual fund, though you also have to have a brokerage account (which sometimes will cost you money) and there may be brokerage account transaction fees. But that’s not always true–Admiral shares at Vanguard often have the same expense ratio as the ETF, and my 457 account has access to institutional Vanguard funds with lower ERs than the ETF versions.

          Here’s an overview of the difference from Vanguard: https://investor.vanguard.com/etf/etf-vs-mutual-fund?lang=en

    3. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      index tracker funds through Vanguard. Low fees and you practically “set it and forget it” with good returns and low risk compared to stock picking.

      Try the Mr Money Mustache website as a lot of people use that strategy there to retire early and its a welcoming community.

      1. NDQ*

        Mr. Money Mustache is fabulous. Even if you don’t think retiring early is for you, the philosophy still works. Besides, sometimes life happens and you could be forced to stop working. Having investments removes a lot of anxiety.


    4. Adara*

      Investopedia has some great articles and advice for people starting out with investing. They also have a mock stock market you can “invest” in without using real money so you can get a feel for how things work.

    5. D*

      It is Canadian but greaterfool.ca is a great read. He advises ETFs rather than individual stocks to minimize the impact of market volatility.

    6. Zathras*

      I highly recommend the Stock Series at jlcollinsnh.com. Or, if you’d do better with a book format, the same info is in his book The Simple Path to Wealth.

  34. Not a Whisperer*

    Last fall my husband and I rescued a kitten that crawled into our garage, starving and near death. We’re pretty sure his mom was run over on the highway near our house, since they both have distinct coloration.

    I did not want this cat. I fed him formula and nursed him to health, but we already have two cats, one of them elderly with special needs. We also have a insanely hectic life right now, with ailing parents and professional upheaval as well.

    My husband decided he was attached to this kitten and wanted to keep it. It’s an aggressive, holy terror, tormenting our cats, tearing the house apart, and covering us in bloody scratches that have turned into scars. It took me until NOW to convince husband that this cat needs to go, and only because he destroyed an expensive guitar amp. Now, of course, he’s out of the cute kitten stage, and it’s going to be even harder to find him a home.

    I resent this animal so much. My belongings have been destroyed (he’s chewing apart one of my Ficus trees right now, actually, and nothing gets him to stop for more than a couple of minutes). I am covered in scars. My own pets are a nervous mess from his harrassment. The vet swore he would calm down after neutering (he didn’t) and then that he would calm down as he grew older (he hasn’t).

    I have been an animal lover my whole life, and I am d*mned good with most of them, but I hate that I can feel my warm-heartedness to animals shriveling up in my chest. I feel like I’m being punished for being a good Samaritan. And I resent the hell out of my husband for taking this long to get his head out of his posterior.

    1. fposte*

      Really this is about the last sentence, isn’t it? The cat’s just being a cat in an unhappy situation. Your feeling like you were stuck with this cat because of your husband isn’t necessarily going to go away just because the cat does, either.

      So what’s up with that? Did it strike at the core of his view of himself to surrender a kitten, did the stress make him want something endearing to break up his day, does he not get how much this is asking of you and that it’s unfair to do that without your buy-in, all of the above? Can you have a non-yelly conversation with him sometime where you talk about not just what to do about the cat but why this makes you so resentful?

    2. Jean (just Jean)*

      What an awful experience! It sounds as if the demon kitty has been the absolute last straw in an already horrible situation.

      How soon can you contact a local cat or animal rescue organization? (If not a domestic setting, maybe this cat can be placed on a farm or elsewhere as a mouser.) Seems to me this critter needs to leave your home as soon as possible so the rest of you can start recovering. Sometimes it’s necessary to be hard-hearted–to save yourself and your sanity (and ability to handle the rest of your life w/out collapsing) you may have to evict the cat even if to a shelter not its next & forever home. When life is hard one needs a restful home.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I am concerned about the scars and scratches. Animals can carry so much crap and then infect us.

      Well, I think this deserves a longer conversation at a later (calmer) date. The person carrying the workload needs to be the one who has final say. It has to go that way. Do you guys take walks together? A conversation like this is good on a long walk. Walk and talk it out.

      You’re right, though, that animal had to go. I get it about the destruction, too. I reached a point where I said, “We will have to work until our dying day, because we can never have anything nice/neat for very long. Items always need to be replaced.”

    4. Merci Dee*

      I rescued a kitten once that showed up in my back yard. Cute little thing, but he played pretty rough with scratching and biting. My established cat tolerated him, but wasn’t a fan.

      Ultimately, I had to surrender him to a shelter. I was enormously pregnant and due in 2 weeks, and there was no way I could have an excitable kitten around who defaulted to scratching and biting to play. I hope he found a good home, because he was just so adorable.

    5. ..Kat..*

      Is there a local rescue cat organization that can take him and re-home him? The cat, not your husband.

  35. EgyptianCotton*

    A kid’s bedroom in the basement with no windows (with really good lighting). Scary or doable?

    1. JulieBulie*

      Er… for what purpose? You mean to rent for yourself?
      Or to imprison the celebrity who has stolen your heart?

      1. JulieBulie*

        D’oh, you meant creating a bedroom in the basement for a kid. I thought there was already a kid’s bedroom in a basement that you were trying to figure out what to do with.

        My nephews sleep in a basement bedroom. There is a window, but it’s small and high, so not good for much; but it’s easy enough for the kids to get to a window if they just want to see.

        The room isn’t scary at all, and of all the bedrooms in the house, it’s the one that’s closest to an exit.

        I imagine that things like the water heater and furnace make sort of spooky noises at night, but the boys don’t seem to mind.

    2. katamia*

      Probably depends on the kid. Some might like the privacy/lack of sunlight waking them up (my childhood bedroom was set up, unfortunately, so the sunrise would hit me right in my sleeping face) and find it cozy, while others might find it rough. If the kid is interested/if this is possible, let them try it for a week or two and see how they feel, and make sure you have another alternative in mind if it doesn’t work for them.

      1. Chris*

        My mom ran into this when she wanted the kids moved into the basement. It isn’t legal (MI) without windows that are large enough to escape through. Dunno about other locations, but I would suspect the same.

      2. ThatGirl*

        Yeah, in the US at least there has to be means of egress/escape or it’s not legally a bedroom.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          This is why my mum won’t turn one of the rooms in her basement into a guest room, although there is a kitchen and a bathroom down there; it’s like a mother-in-law suite with a separate entrance. You could not escape through the window in that room; it’s more like one of those little well windows. So if family comes over and sleeps in the basement, out come the air mattresses and they go in the main room.

          I have actually slept in that room, however, on an air mattress and was fine with it. Frankly, if the house were burning, I’d be more than happy to run through the flames out the basement door with a blanket over me.

        2. Turtlewings*

          My family has successfully used both a renovated garage and a walk-in closet as bedrooms. Probably not legally, but I don’t know who would be checking.

          1. fposte*

            The rules are literally all over the map here, because a lot of this is local fire code, etc. However, there’s usually more intervention with a rental, since somebody’s profiting from the dangerous mislabeling; if you own it, the bedroom count thing is mostly going to come up when it changes hands.

            But the question I’d ask is even if there’s nobody policing this particular use is it a good idea; do I think the reasons why it would be illegal in a rental unit aren’t a problem here, do I think any grandfathering is enough to make me satisfied that this is a safe exception and not just a hard to legislate exception.

    3. Menacia*

      Depends, how old is the kid, how close to the utilities (gas, oil burner, etc.) would they be, did the kid ask to have their room in the basement? I’m asking because my sister’s teenage kids use her basement as a bedroom, or used to, until it just was not doable because of the washing machine/dryer, not enough privacy. It was a finished basement too, is yours?

    4. FDCA In Canada*

      I wouldn’t. Not because it’s scary, but because it’s a fire hazard. And depending on the kid, dangerous if they could lock themselves in and have no other method of entry.

      1. Observer*

        By that logic, you wouldn’t be allowed to put a kid in a room with bars on it either.

        What you need to do with young kids is either remove the locks, or use locks with keys or that can be easily forced. No slider bolts or the like.

    5. Book Lover*

      It wouldn’t be legally considered a bedroom without a window large enough to exit through, but that is a sale issue, not a real problem if it is your own family. My brother had the (very nice) basement when he was a teen.

      What is the fire exit plan? Where is the bathroom? Those would be my concerns.

    6. Hollis "Holly" Flax - not my real moniker*

      Nope, wouldn’t do it, because fires aren’t just stories that you see on the evening news – speaking from personal experience (apartment rental, thankfully, I wasn’t home at the time, because that would have been too frightening) and have known at least two other people/families that have experienced home fires.

    7. Anono-me*

      Super scary. My child not having an egress window in case of an emergency would absolutely terrify me as a parent.

    8. HannahS*

      Depends on the kid, I think. Two things that are scary for a lot of younger children are being far away from the parents (will you be able to hear if they call you in the middle of the night? what if they wake up sick/vomiting?) and shadows. If the basement looks more like the rest of the house , i.e. with a hallway and open stairwell, smooth walls, flat ceiling it’ll be less scary to a small child than, say, a big cinder-blocked rectangle with a door at the top of the stairs with piles of boxes and exercise equipment. Also, make sure that window-less bedrooms are allowed. Where I live, each bedroom legally has to have a window large enough to climb out of in a fire.

    9. Icecreamroll*

      Needs egress, and a really good carbon dioxide alarm, good fire alarm. Otherwise dodgy.

    10. Kate*

      I did it as a young teenager. I loved it for the privacy. It felt like my own little apartment. I definitely didn’t care about details like egress ;)

    11. Observer*

      I think most of the folks talking about egress must live in areas where there aren’t a lot of apartment building or crime.

      Once you get to the third or fourth floor, a window isn’t really “egress” and the only windows that can’t have locked gates are the ones on the fire escape – which is generally only one window in the entire apartment. And safety gates are legally required on the third floor. Yes, they can be removable, but they are legally required to be difficult for a child to remove.

      On the other hand, bars are standard practice on ground floor windows in NYC. I’m not going to say that they are universal, but very, very common.

  36. EgyptianCotton*

    The kid is too young to know whether they like it or not (at least too young to articulate their feelings). It’s a NYC condo that I’m considering buying.

    1. Menacia*

      Wait, you want to put a young child into a basement bedroom (on a different floor than yourself)? Hrm, not getting good vibes from this… Would they feel like you were punishing them by putting them in a windowless room (but with good lighting)? I don’t think you’ve painted the best picture here.

      1. EgyptianCotton*

        Our realtor said that there are many families in NYC that do this or also use a closet as a kid’s bedroom. Just trying to decide if it’s unacceptable or not out of the norm.

        1. JulieBulie*

          If the child is very young, I’m not sure this is a great idea. Will your own room be too far away to hear if the kid is crying or choking or something?

          I don’t think it’s unacceptable, but if I were a parent I’d be uncomfortable having such a young child’s room too far away from mine.

          I thought the closet sounded worse at first, but if that will keep the child closer to you, it might be better. A closet bedroom doesn’t sound good for an older child (I keep thinking of how Harry Potter slept in a nook under the Dursley’s stairs), but for a very young child it might be fine for a couple of years.

          1. Observer*

            Baby monitors work fine.

            It’s also worth noting that you can be on the same floor and STILL not hear the kid. So, if you worry about the child crying and not hearing, get the monitor regardless of floor.

        2. What's in a name*

          Building codes require all bedrooms to have a window of a minimum size and usually have the ability to use as an exit in an emergency.

          1. JulieBulie*

            Definitely not… and even if what the realtor says is true, that’s not a relevant data point. Other people do lots of things that they shouldn’t!

        3. brushandfloss*

          Its common for NYers to turn a Junior-4 ( a one bedroom with a den/dining room) into a two bedroom.
          I wouldn’t trust your realtor on this. I think a using a windowless basement for a young child’s bedroom is outside the norm.

        4. AcademiaNut*

          I suspect that this is both highly illegal and very common in NYC – when housing costs are insane, people are more willing to live with stuff that’s both dangerous and uncomfortable.

          However, I absolutely, 100%, would not put someone who was not old enough to sign a rental agreement in an illegal or unsafe bedroom situation. An adult can decide to take that risk. A child cannot. And I wouldn’t put a child who was too young to verbally indicate a preference in a sub-standard bedroom on a different floor.

      2. Observer*

        In NYC, putting the kids on a different floor than the parents is extremely common. It’s totally unremarkable, and the kid probably won’t be that only one in his social group with that set up.

    2. Dead Quote Olympics*

      Like everyone else said, the main issue is fire safety. Then I think the scariness factor for kids has more to do with distance from parents than windowlessness or basement location. And the last can depend very much on the character of the basement.

      Windows can be hella scary for kids at night — as I’m recalling reading Salem’s Lot as a kid and get freaked out by every brush of a branch against the window.

      1. Observer*

        Yes. I’d also say that if you move into any duplex, you want detectors on both floors, and if the space is large you may want more than one on a floor.

  37. Naruto*

    Alison, you were SO RIGHT about the Golem and the Jinni — thanks for the recommendation!

  38. EA*

    Does anyone have any suggestions for how to split expenses with a salary differential in a relationship?
    I make 50k a year and my boyfriend 80, we have been living together for a few years. We both make enough to pay for our expenses and save, and we don’t feel stretched in anyway. He has more educational debt than I do, but we both have no consumer debt. He pays a little more for rent than I do, but mostly because he drives and the apartment comes with a parking space. Other than that we split things down the middle.
    I can’t tell if I am being resonable to be bothered by this. I value my independence, and I am able to pay for everything we do. I guess I feel like because he makes more money, he should offer to pay a little more often, and be more generous. I do feel guilty for feeling this way. I guess when roles have been reversed in previous relationship, I tried to help the person out, and I don’t feel like he has been like that. This isn’t a deal breaker for me, I guess I want to know if I am being unreasonable.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      Have you actually told him any of this or are you upset that he hasn’t guessed?

    2. Belle*

      We always split it evenly unless there was an obvious usage difference (such as the parking spot you mentioned). Income doesn’t really impact how you use something — so that is why we always did it evenly. I know that probably sucks to hear — but that is how we looked at it (and I was the low income person at first until I got a few promotions at work).

    3. super anon*

      My partner and I spilt our expenses 75-25. He makes 75% of the income while I make 25% (he is in a very high paying job – he made my yearly income by March of this year). 75-25 is also an even split when we look at the expenses (ex: he drives a very expensive car and i have no car payment), and also an accurate split of our combined assets. It works for us, but it also works because I wouldn’t be able to pay 50% of our bills on my salary as our monthly living expenses are $5000 more than I make in a month and my partner respects that.

      1. Melody Pond*

        I’m in a similar boat. Mr. Pond and I (we’re not actually married, even though I call him “Mr. Pond”) have three accounts – we each have our own individual account, and then we also have a joint checking account for all of the shared joint expenses. This doesn’t only include needs, like basic food and rent, internet, etc.,, but it also includes some joint “wants” like a joint entertainment budget.

        I make about 33% of the income, where Mr. Pond brings home about 67% of the income. So that’s how we split everything that goes into the joint account. And I’m in a similar situation as “super anon” because our housing in particular is much higher than anything I’d ever be able to afford on my own – even at a 50% split.

        I really like our system. It enables us room to do our own thing without feeling like we need to explain ourselves to each other, when the money comes from our own individual accounts. But we also have an agreed-upon plan in the joint account, and we are pretty good about communicating with each other regarding use of the joint account.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      People who are not married may look at things differently than married people? Not sure. I brought home 40% of the income so I paid 40% of the bills. My husband brought home 60% and paid 60% of the bills. We both ended up with the same amount of discretionary money. But neither one of us had debt from before we met each other.

      I felt guilty about not bringing home 50%. I shopped sales, grew veggies and so on to cut the burden down a bit. I think feeling guilty about an imbalance is pretty normal.

      1. the gold digger*

        People who are not married may look at things differently than married people?

        As a married person, I just look at all the money as ours. When Primo was working and I was not, it was all ours, and I have the same view now when I am working and he is not. (And that IRA he got when his dad died because his dad didn’t have his act together enough to remove Primo as the secondary beneficiary and had never bothered to update his designations to send the money to the estate rather than to Primo? That’s ours, too. I suffered. I earned that money.)

        But if we were not married (and both working – I would not support someone if I were not married to him), I would be very wary of shared expenses, ie, if he held the mortgage and his name were on the deed but I were paying rent. I would not be happy to be helping to pay for an asset to which I had no legal title.

    5. Dear Liza dear Liza*

      Suze Orman used to recommend couples contribute the same percentage of their salary. (We no longer have cable so I don’t know of she still does!) But that advice worked well for Dear Henry and I, who had a similar salary differential as you and your partner.

    6. fposte*

      I think it’s not about being reasonable or unreasonable but finding something that works for you. As Ramona Flowers suggests, some of what you’re saying is about what you think he should do without asking, which isn’t entirely fair to him, so I think you need to talk to him. It also sounds like you guys might benefit from planning out a budget together. I’m a big fan of the contribution by percentage approach that other posters mention, but it’s about what works for you. Don’t forget to factor in the unpaid labor of running the household–if that mostly falls on one or the other of you, whether it’s arranging the cleaner or doing the laundry, that matters.

    7. Dan*

      You gotta talk to the guy, and only then can you decide what reasonable is. And reasonable is what works for you guys, not what the internet says.

      For me personally, I’m making decent money, but am not interested in a relationship where I am “expected to help out” beyond what we’ve agreed to.

      Keep in mind that he makes less “extra” than it first appears. At his income, taxes take a huge portion of the difference. He also doesn’t get much if any of the student loan interest deduction, as it phases out around that income level. His car stuff costs money, he pays more in rent, he has more student loans… If there are long term savings goals such as a house down payment, wedding ring, and wedding in the future, that “extra” money disappears in a hurry.

      You’re best off coming to an agreement you both can live with, and not expecting more than the agreement.

      1. fposte*

        Agreeing with most, but assuming similar deductions since we don’t know differently, taxes take out 10% of the difference; that’s not a huge portion.

        1. Dan*

          How do you figure the taxes are that low? I’m talking about the income he earns in the 50k-80k bracket, and assuming 25% fed, whatever for state, 7.5% so and Medicare. If he’s got a 401k, there’s a chunk for that. I know the 401k isn’t a tax, but I digress. Single people at that income level who rent pay a significant amount of taxes.

          The larger point I want to make is that the BF is putting nowhere near $30k in the bank every year. While he may earn 60% more than she does, his take home pay is nowhere near that. It’s going to be closer to half that before we get into his other expenses.

          1. fposte*

            Nobody’s suggesting he’s putting $30k more than her in the bank, but since state and FICA taxes are flat the same percentage applies to both his income and hers. (And decisions about 401ks should be made together in a household.)

            Basically, I’m just pointing out that taxes aren’t going to eat up the difference between $50k and $80k (and it’s not like she doesn’t have to pay taxes either); he’s going to take home substantially more than her even after taxes. That doesn’t obligate anybody to anything, because, as you and I clearly both agree, they need to figure out what their financial household plan is together.

            1. Melody Pond*

              Yeah, but FICA taxes (aka, payroll taxes) are relatively low. It’s federal income tax that can get pretty high, and federal income tax is a “progressive” tax system. The higher your income is, the greater percentage of your income you pay on taxes. So there actually IS a difference in the total amount of taxes that OP’s partner is paying, over what she’s paying. And not just in the amount, but in the total percentage of his income, versus the percentage of her income (I’m making assumptions about gender and pronouns, for simplicity).

              For 2017, I believe it’s as follows:
              $0-$9,325 – income taxes are 10%
              $9,325-$37,950 – income taxes are 15% of the excess over $9,325, plus 10% of 9,325
              $37,950-$91,900 – income taxes are 25% of the excess over $37,950, plus 15% of the chunk from $9,325 to $37,950, plus 10% of 9,325

              And so on and so forth (I don’t want to keep writing it all out, hehe). So Dan’s original statement that:

              Keep in mind that he makes less “extra” than it first appears. At his income, taxes take a huge portion of the difference.

              … is technically correct, if the two partners are in different tax brackets. I mean, for me personally, Mr. Pond and I still divide up our joint expenses based on our gross income amounts, but my point is that Dan was technically correct. And one way to correct for the income tax variable would be to use “after tax” incomes, although that can sometimes be harder to plan for, if you haven’t been at your same job and income level for a long enough time.

              1. Melody Pond*

                Oh, and obviously, I’m assuming we’re talking about the U.S. tax system here. :)

              2. Melody Pond*

                Ack – sorry for all the post-scripts – and I’m also assuming “similar deductions” as fposte mentioned above, I think.

              3. fposte*

                Now you’re making me interested–let’s calculate this thing out.

                $50k per year – standard deduction 0f $6300 = AGI of $43,700. That’s a federal tax of $6696 plus the FICA of $3825 (@7.65%) plus state taxes of $2500 (I’m going for a 5% state tax for a random semi-average between states with no or low tax and states with high tax), so the total take home minus taxes ($13021) for $50k here is $36979.

                $80k per year – standard deduction of $6300 = AGI of 73,700. That’s a federal tax of $14196 plus the FICA of $6120 (@7.65%) plus state taxes of $4000, so the total take home minus taxes ($4000) for $80k here is $55,684.

                So $80k is still making $18,705 more than $50k here; I guess to me that’s not losing “a huge portion” to taxes, because it still leaves enough for a significant differential of more than half the pay difference between them.

                1. Melody Pond*

                  Yes – although if you’re including the standard deduction, you might as well also include the “personal exemption” that every person gets, as long as they’re not a dependent of someone else. I think that’s about $4,050? Or it was around that figure last year.

                  Also, FYI – AGI refers to gross income minus “above the line” deductions – which are deductions listed on the first page of the 1040, and those include things like qualified moving expenses, HSA contributions, IRA contributions, and student loan interest. The standard deduction (or itemized deductions, if the taxpayer qualifies for them) and personal exemptions are deducted after AGI is calculated, and the term for that is “taxable income.”

                  And yes – in this particular example, both incomes are within the same marginal tax bracket of 25%. I’m too lazy to do the actual calculation, but if you calculated their “effective tax rates” (total taxes divided by total gross income), I bet the percentages would be pretty similar.

                  Really, the place where you would see the phenomenon that both Dan and I described, more clearly, would be if they had incomes in wildly different tax brackets. Because then, it’s not only the dollar amount of taxes that’s wildly different, it’s the percentage, or proportion of their income. And that might be a variable worth accounting for, when it comes to splitting household expenses proportionately, based on each person’s income.

              4. overeducated*

                So the take home here (har har) is that they’re in the same federal tax bracket, so the $50 to $80k income would not have a larger percentage taken out in taxes than the 0 to $50k, right? Both earners would have the same proportional tax burden and take home, though the actual amounts differ. So yes the $80k earner is not putting another $30k in the bank, but would still be taking home approximately 60% more after taxes because the lower earner has to pay them too.

    8. Thlayli*

      My husband and I pay equal amounts for everything to do with kids/house /family. There have been Pay differentials in both directions since we started doing this. As long as we can both afford it I am happy for us both to pay equally.

      If it was at the stage where one of us was having a lower standard of living than the other, or one of us was totally broke or something like that, I would want to revisit it. But as long as we both have enough money to pay equally and still have enough of our own money left to live as we like, I don’t see why either of us should give more than the other.

    9. Rookie Manager*

      We do the %age of take home pay thing. Currently we both put 2/3rds of our net pay into joint accounts (this proportion has gone up over the years as our relationship and money became more entwined). I’m currently earning about 3/4 of his salary but put a much larger cash deposit into the house. When I worked p/t the differential was greater but I contributed proportionally much more to running the house.

      To be honest, this situation was sorted very early in our relationship, I had been insisting on splitting things equally (or time about) on dates, one weekend he invited me to something and I declined as I couldn’t afford it. He got annoyed and said ‘well I want to go and I want you to come too, I’m not asking you to pay just to join me!’ I realised my attempts at being independent were stopping us doing things so we(I) agreed to stop worrying about everyrhing being equal.

      I would always ensure we had some personal money though as he just doesn’t need to know how much I spend on haircuts or presents for him.

    10. Naruto*

      When we were dating, my wife and I split rent in rough proportion to our income and to what we could afford. Then eating out and stuff like that was closer to down the middle or someone would offer to pay.

  39. paul*

    Former co-worker was murdered this week. Found out Thursday afternoon. Amazingly sad end to a pretty rough week. Couldn’t sleep and wound up doing a 2am lifting session until I couldn’t move; basically spent Friday on tylenol and ice packs.

    Apparently got beaten and hemorrhaged? Something like that.

    It’s been a long time since someone I knew well died like that :/ Kinda shaken up. Spend the morning hiking and playing outdoors with my kids to re-center myself. it helped but I’m still in a funk. Gonna go engage in retail therapy later and buy some useful outdoorsy stuff for the older toddler–d they make toddler sized hydration packs? Surely they do? And hats for both the kids.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Oh my. So very sorry. Yep, recenter, reconnect with your life. Maybe you can send a donation somewhere in his memory, even if it’s the rescue squad that came for him.

      It is scary when it hits closer to home like that.

    2. Jean (just Jean)*

      I’m sorry. Life can be horrible this way. Enjoy your kids–they can be a relief in the face of catastrophe.
      NSNR has two good suggestions.

    3. Turtlewings*

      D: That’s terrible, I’m so sorry. Of course you’re shaken. You might consider sending a card or flowers to their family; gestures like that even from strangers can mean a lot when something like this happens.

    4. Hrovitnir*

      Oh god, I’m sorry. I’m also sorry it’s been a “long time” rather than the first time someone you know has died like that.

  40. Courageous Cat*

    Is there really no way to get an email when someone responds to my comments on here? I’d probably be more active if I could, but I almost never see people’s replies to me as it stands. I was also recently surprised to find the “notify me of follow-up comments by email” button emails you literally every comment anyone makes, haha.

    1. Jillociraptor*

      You can Control + F and search for your name to see if anyone has replied to you (or of course search for anything else you want to follow).

    2. Turtlewings*

      Same here!!! I have to remember to check back and Ctrl + F my name; not my favorite way to go about things.

    3. Thlayli*

      Click on the date stamo under your post and save to favourites – this link will bring u right back to ur post each time and u can see the comments.

  41. Fellow Traveller*

    Can anyone share tips for planning a group trip? We are taking a week long family trip in August (six adults, and three children under the age of six). We have an air bnb reserved for half the dates and airplane tickets, but then feel overwhelmed as to what to do next in terms of planning. We are mostly having issues coordinating with the other branches of the family, and feeling overwhelmed by all the researching for activities. Anyone else plan a big group trip and have some advice?

    Also- We’re going to Nova Scotia (Cape Breton) and PEI, if anyone has any suggestions for things to do.

    1. FDCA In Canada*

      I can’t help with the group stuff, but I used to live in the Maritimes! For Cape Breton: gorgeous in August, but bring bug spray for the black flies. Driving the Cabot Trail is a gorgeous experience, and there’s some fantastic biking in the area as well. The Castle Rock Hotel in Ingonish has a lovely restaurant with truly breathtaking views and very friendly proprietors! Visit Cheticamp on the west side of the island for whale watching–even if you don’t see whales, you’ll probably see seals, birds, and gorgeous scenery. (I went with my parents, and my mom got terribly seasick whale-watching. We were staying at the Castle Rock, and the owners noticed that only my dad and I went for dinner, so they sent up my mom a tray of fruit and crackers and cheese for her to nibble on until she felt better. Without even asking! Truly wonderful people.) There’s some excellent hiking in the area as well.

      PEI is probably more child-friendly in general, but still very fun. If you have any interest at all in Anne of Green Gables, prepare to be swamped. The Green Gables site itself is fine and not overly touristy, but there is just nonstop Anne everywhere else, which can get a little old. The island has some outstanding beaches (red sand!), many of which will be almost bathwater-warm by August, especially on the south shore, and the north shore has gorgeous cliffs. If you like lighthouses and sea views, PEI has ’em. It’s really flat, so there’s some very nice cycling trails that aren’t too challenging. PEI could be a great place to split up for the day–beach people to the beach, adventure people to do some cycling, and meet for dinner. It’s so small that almost everywhere is driving distance within a couple of hours. It’s truly amazingly scenic, and if you’re there on a nice day it’s almost impossible not to want to stop every few minutes for a photo. There are three marked scenic drives on the island, and honestly they’re all actually worth doing. If you have an eye for the weird there’s a potato museum in PEI where you can get fudge made from potatoes which is surprisingly not that bad. Charlottetown and Summerside are the two main areas in PEI, and if you use either one as a home base, you’ll be close enough to do almost any activities you care to do.

    2. Jessesgirl72*

      Closed FB group for coordinating and each branch takes responsibility for planning one day, in turns.

      Or 36 people for my husband’s family reunion next week, and we do dinner all together each night, and a meeting plan for breakfast for anyone who wants it, but people can break into smaller groups or venture on their own during the day. Each of my FIL’s siblings are arranging for one dinner . They have done it that way, every other year in various locations (Rocky Mountain Park, Williamsburg, Rural Indiana, now The Dells) for decades and learned early on that trying to get multiple families to agree on one thing and stay together all day just caused hard feelings

      1. the gold digger*

        Oh yeah. Totally make it voluntary! I hate mandatory togetherness and fun! For me, a vacation where I have to be with a lot of people rather than just sitting on a porch BY MYSELF reading is not a vacation.

    3. Dan*

      Don’t over plan. Don’t expect everyone to want to do everything together every day.

      Cynical but accurate point: the lower your expectations, the more likely they are to be exceeded

      1. overeducated*

        Yes, this. Some people need a plan every day and want to make sure they hit all the attractions. Some people just want to relax on their vacation and not have to get somewhere at a certain time every day. Type 1 can really annoy type 2 by trying to drag them along or overplan. Type 2 can annoy Type 1 by making them feel responsible for everything…but only if Type 1 assumes there has to be a plan and that they are responsible for entertaining everyone. Ideal solution: plan what you want to prioritize, offer the option for others to join, and don’t try to make plans just to make others happy or put something on the schedule.

        FWIW I went on a really lovely and memorable trip to PEI and Cape Breton as a kid and my main memories were running around the woods, playing with other kids in the campground, local music, and of course the Anne of Green Gables house. It was a lightly structured trip and that worked well in such a beautiful place to be outdoors.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        Or you let the over-planners do that and have their way for themselves, with the play it by ear types allowed to play it by ear, and no one can make the other type too miserable. ;)

        On my MIL’s side of the family, her parents took 30+ people to Italy and wanted us all to be together all day every day. Before I met my husband, they did the same thing at Disneyworld.

        It really makes so much more sense for one group to say “We’re doing X for anyone who wants to join us” and another family says “We’re doing Y” and if an adult wants to kick back and lay on the beach all day instead of X or Y, or people need to leave X early because the kid needs a nap, then that happens, and we all see each other at dinner. One year, it happened to be planned over when one of the Harry Potter books came out, and half of us had the books delivered to the Lodge we were in. The other half went white water rafting while we book worms stayed in the nice lodge reading. 2 years ago, we were in Williamsburg (29 that year) and we were the only ones who wanted to go to Virginia Beach, so we did. I really admire the ease of it all, and how well it works out with so many different personalities.

    4. paul*

      Plan slack and down time. I just planned and executed our first full family vacation las tmonth and learned the hard way that the more people you have the more allowances you have to make for people having problems and different preferences. This’ll cut into your available tie for sightseeing and destinations.

      We had 3 adult couples (my folks, my wife and I, my brother and his wife) and 3 toddlers, so it wasn’t a patch on what you’re looking at and it was STILl an issue.

    5. the gold digger*

      My mom, brother, sister, brother in law, husband and I rented a house for a long weekend for my mom’s birthday.

      The biggest thing we did wrong was not plan meals. My mom wanted a menu three months in advance and I did not want to do that. (I wanted to eat out – this was in southern Colorado and I knew we’d be able to get Mexican food there that I cannot get at home.)

      The proper way to do that (for us) would have been to designate one person to be in charge of each main meal and leave it at that. But we waited until we got there and then went shopping. My sister got super cranky and started cooking and she made food I did not want and that my brother could not eat (he has worse migraines than I do and has to avoid a lot of foods).

      So. Either hire a cook (you know – because we are all rich here!) or put one person/family in charge of each major meal.

      This might also work for planning activities – say that each family is in charge of figuring out something.

    6. Meag L*

      I’m from Nova Scotia and I LOVE PEI.
      Some random PEI thoughts:
      – PEI has some really great local brewery’s (for the adults :) resto’s and tons of Anne stuff.
      – Check out the Confederation Centre to see if any productions are going on.
      – Shining Waters might be fun for the kids
      – If you like “escape rooms” check out Room Escape Cavendish ( I think they have a family room)

      If you are taking the ferry from NS over to PEI make sure you arrive nice and early to board. In the summer the waits can be LONG. Consider taking the confederation bridge back – The bridge is 8 miles long and is the longest in the world to span over ice covered water.

      Have fun :)

  42. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    A lot of first world problems…
    1) Two weeks of dental work (1 nearly avoided root canal; 1 replaced a leaked filling).
    2) My tooth (leaked filling one) was fixed 72 hour ago but I can’t chew anything on that tooth (unlike my other molar that was fixed). As in, no crunchy pb. Is that normal?
    3) I have a $19 toothpaste prescription bc my teeth are so painfully sensitive, and I feel like the money I make keeps disappearing like this. I do have an ample savings acct but growing it more is tough, and I already live off 69 cent tuna and a bag of $3 greens. Tips for saving more?
    4) Bc of dental stuff, no chocolate and during aunt flo, this feels like torture X (((
    5) After my mom yelled via 3 emails 30 lines to me about things not in my control (bf’s license application taking 1 month longer bc they misspelled his name and she blames me for covering up his “procrastination/lies” even though he’s studying hard and fully invested) I’ve gone no/low contact at least till end of July. Thoughts? Was I too harsh?
    6) No internet at the apt….

    …..my body hurts everywhere….reading, indoors X (

    1. Not So NewReader*

      FWIW, I think you were not harsh enough. Her lack of respect for your BF is jaw-dropping. Her lack of respect for you… well, I have no words for that.

      Just like Alison says about toxic jobs goes for toxic families also. The longer we spend around the toxic family (or family member) the more they damage our world view and the more they distort our understanding of how the world works.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Seconded. CSJD, I hope your no/low contact time allows you to get used to life without criticism and attacks, and lets you reset your expectations that people should be kind or at least civil, and those that are close to you should be actively trying to help you, not do you harm. And berating, scolding, and blaming is not helping!

        Once you get used to kindness being the default, I hope you’ll be able to maintain no contact as long as your mother is unkind to you. Sometimes people like that can learn to respect boundaries, but usually the only way they’re willing to try is if the boundaries are enforced consistently and fully.

    2. JulieBulie*

      Chocolate shake? Would that interfere with the dental stuff? Or chocolate pudding? That’s another dent in the budget, but dammit, you need chocolate.

      Tips for saving more… well you know non-bagged greens are cheaper than bagged ones, but I’m guessing you have your reasons (TIME!) for buying bagged. I’m not sure how else to cut your budget because I’m not sure how you spend… but if you buy coffee aleady made, you can save quite a bit making it at home and there are cheap ways to do a cup at a time if that’s all you want.

    3. Jules the First*

      Re the dental stuff, my dentist recommended that I add a Vitamin K2 supplement to my diet (I use Life Extension’s Super K) and it’s been a life changer. She also made me stop using foaming toothpaste and my teeth are now cleaner and my gums healthier, because I actually spend time brushing (my mouth literally feels dentist-clean after brushing now).

    4. Paula, with Two Kids*

      1) I had two crowns (one was a root canal) a year ago to fix old cavities that has cracked both teeth. The first week was the worst, but I had difficulty for at least a month. You’ll probably have a follow with the dentist if it was a crown? They file it and make it “fit” better. If not, and it’s still unchewable, call the dentist and see if that’s normal for what they did. We all recover at different rates. And the sensitivity with mine improved, after six months I could use regular toothpaste again, and not worry about hot/cold.

      5) If she’s a narcissist and that’s why the low contact….you are probably doing the right thing. Extra contact won’t make her happier, healthier, or nicer. And it might make you miserable. I’m low contact with my Ex. I can’t tell you how stressful it is when there is contact. Every communication is 20 times more difficult than it would be with a rational person. Telling him the maintenance cost to have some work done on the house this week involved 10 emails. Normal people would have responded with one email, saying “OK”. Not a narcissist, it’s a gaslighting blameshifting carousel of misinformation.

      I hope you feel better!

    5. brushandfloss*

      2) Changing out a filling can cause some trauma to the pulp and tooth so some sensitivity afterwards is normal.

      1. brushandfloss*

        I wanted to add if the pain persists or get worse on the filled tooth, you should to the dentist to make sure you don’t need more treatment on that tooth.

    6. Observer*

      I’ve been wondering why you don’t go at least low contact for a while. Your mother won’t stop trying to interfere and mess with your relationship. It doesn’t matter whether you had control over your BF’s situation or not – if you guys mutually decided something and it’s not something that affects any obligations to others, then that’s your decision to make and not for your mother to get involved in.

      And to be clear – You and your BF have absolutely ZERO obligation to your parents around his licenses / certifications / degrees etc. Keep reminding yourself of this, and shut your mother down when she starts. You don’t owe her to move at certain pace, and you don’t owe her any explanations.

    7. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      Update: my dad wants “for us to be a family again” and invite my mom along for our movie weekend next week. Apparently, he’s trying to smooth things over and pretend moms tirade never happened, that maybe I was the one hallucinating. UGH. Enablers. Sweet enablers….

      My response to my dad: if mom tried to be a civil human being. There’s only so much crazy I can take. Getting roasted for something out of my control: enough is enough. I have to do the hard work of enforcing boundaries because you’ve allowed her verbally abusive behavior to be acceptable.

      It is not ok, and I deserve better than that.

      Saturday: father/daughter.

      1. Observer*

        It is not ok, and I deserve better than that.

        Yes, you do!

        Please keep on enforcing boundaries. And don’t let your father gaslight you on your mother’s behalf.

      2. Carmen Sandiego JD*

        Thanks–trying. My dad now says if I don’t apologize things will get worse. He’s so brainwashed he can’t think straight :/

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Well, the truth is that things will get worse. When five year olds don’t get their way they sometime pitch a fit. Likewise, your mother has been getting her way for a very, very long time. The NO word is going to be a real shocker.

          He’s not brainwashed, he’s a hostage. He does not want to deal with your mother being upset. In order to accomplish that he has to get you to apologize to her.

          You can suggest therapy to one or both of them. Your father might hear you. I doubt your mother will.
          If she threatens with something that is illegal then you can tell her you will call the cops.

          Take a hard look at this and, please, please, try to understand you are never going to please this woman. She is not going to let you please her. She feels that if you know she is unhappy with you that you will do whatever she wants so she will be happy with you again. It’s all about you pleasing her, except she won’t ever be pleased with you.

          Most parents find reasons to be pleased with their kids. Some parents are over the top, “Look! Junior colored on the freshly painted walls, isn’t that great?!” This so does not describe your mom.
          You cannot ever be the daughter she wants. And she can never be the mother you want.

        2. Observer*

          Well, it WILL get worse – for him. For you? It depends on your willingness to enforce boundaries. If you let her, your mother will certainly keep on browbeating you and your SO. But, you CAN refuse to talk to her – even in the moment. So, you can refuse to pick up the phone when you see her number. And, if you picked up you can hang up. And you can, if necessary, go no-contact. It’s not something done lightly, I get that. But you’re not dealing with minor issues here.

        3. Carmen Sandiego JD*

          Thanks. After my dad sent a blank email with the title “your mom is waiting for your response” (to her apology expecting you to forgive her) when in fact the apology was her apologizing she felt I was hurt b/c of her being too good a mother, I canceled the father’s day stuff, told him nothing till end of July, and if mom’s not enjoying herself, I had 2 dental surgeries so suck it up (in mildly polite terms).

          I mean. All I wanted was peace and quiet. Am I really that irrational here?! Sheesh.

  43. Belle di Vedremo*

    Hi friend, how are you? Where are you? Still in transition, already moved and settling, something else? I hope that you continue to find some light in your days and in your heart as you move into this new phase of your life.

    Belle di Vedremo

    1. fposte*

      I’m thinking this is about Marcela, but then I realized there are several people who’ve posted about difficulties and that I hope are doing well, so it could apply to all of them. So good luck to all of you.

      1. Belle di Vedremo*

        Thanks fposte, you are correct. Thought I’d changed my name to hers before posting but clearly that didn’t happen.

    2. Marcela*

      Hey Belle, thank you again for checking on me. It looks like magic, when I need company and everyone is sleeping, I come here and see your message.

      Since 10 days ago I am in the East coast. I started my new job and I am working to make it indefinite instead of a temporary contract. I have decided I will never go back to my husband, who is an asshat. I won’t accept his conditions, which essentially are unconditional surrender of my dignity, values and principles. It hurts so much to know I was living an illusion. It breaks my heart to think all the effort I made for someone who calls love something horrible and warped, something that never protected me. I am afraid now of that. I am afraid of every word he says, for he would tell me he loves me while stabbing me. But he refuses to start the divorce procedure. I will have to force him to do it. And that’s another thing that breaks me: I used to think he was a decent guy. He was somebody I admired, honest, caring, loyal. Even these 3 months, I considered him somebody who made a mistake in one specific area of his life, his love life with me. However, by refusing to let me go, even threatening me to fight me for the small amount of money we have, I’m seeing that even there he wasn’t who I thought. He told me at the beginning that sure, he was going to sign everything I wanted for our divorce, to make it easier. He lied. He is destroying everything, even things he didn’t have to. Next month I’ll send him a process server so I can finally divorce him. I need some stability before I can be ready to pay more to my lawyer.

      Thank you for thinking about me. You help me a lot. Seriously.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Living an illusion. Sigh. This one hurts so very much. Grieve, cry, push those tears out.
        And realize something. You were sincere. Please think about this at some point. You were sincere.

        Keep that sincerity. One thing I have seen in life is that sincere people draw other sincere people to themselves. As you meet new good people, they will pick up on the fact that you are a sincere person and your sincerity will work FOR you in building these new relationships. While your new life may not be the same as your dreams/ideal life, you will find that some awesome things happen to you. Keep going and know for a fact that you are going toward something better.

      2. Belle di Vedremo*

        I am glad to hear that you have moved and are moving forward. I’m sorry it’s so hard.

        No love is ever wasted. It may come to an end, it may twist and turn, but every bit of love in the world is good and useful.

        It feels as if he’s realizing how much he relied on you, how much you framed his world, and just how much he is losing. Sometimes we lean on others to help us learn to be decent, honest, caring and loyal. We think we’ve learned to be those things but sometimes, as when a relationship comes to an end, we find out how much we’ve build our lives on someone else’s heart and strength. It’s a terrible thing to realize how much damage one has done, how much of one’s world is crashing down around us, and we can be our worst selves out of fear and hurt and outrage – and recognition that it is one’s own doing.

        Tears can be balm, let them flow. Use your clear vision to help steer you in your own direction now, with your heart as your rudder. It will be messy, as he has chosen, but in time you will come through this clear eyed and generous of spirit.

        Please keep us posted. I don’t get here every weekend, but I do try to be here at least twice a month.

        We know that you could never give up your dignity, values and principals

        1. Marcela*

          He is not doing any of that. He is very deep in the blaming game, saying that I am the reason for what ‘happened’. He can’t even say ‘what I did’. He even tried to shame my principles, telling me the reason I reacted as I did, was because I share, deep down, my conservative parents’ beliefs, instead of being the liberal and enlightened person I ‘”claimed” to be all these years. Yeah, the reason I don’t want a marriage of three is because I am conservative.

          And yet, he claims he loves me. The whore “saved him from himself “, and he could never stop speaking with her, because she is a nice person, and he loves me. He never felt as alive with me as with her, but he loves me and was always happy with me. It hurts. More than anything I’ve felt before.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            That is some pretty twisted logic right there. I think it’s safe to say the time for talking about problems has passed.

            I am so sorry. He violated your trust on some many levels that it is not fixable. You did nothing wrong by trusting the person who married you. But he violated that trust too many ways and too many times.

            Life does not have to be this hard. I think you know that and that is why you are moving on. Yep, no doubt in my mind that this hurts in every cell in your body. It’s okay to feel the feelings, that is how we process stuff. Be sure to do good self-care because this much upset/anguish can cause the body and mind to feel run down. It’s a good investment of your time and energy to eat good meals, hydrate, rest and even take short walks when you can. These habits can fortify you and they can carry you through some tough-tough stuff. I know. So simple, yet so hard. Do what you can each day.

            I hope some good things happen to you really soon.

  44. MovingToCaliSoon*

    I’m trying to pack all my stuff for a big move (east to west coast). I keep imagining driving to a quiet road, putting all my stuff in a big pile and lighting it on fire instead of dealing with it. :) Anyone have good packing and then road trip music suggestions?

    1. JulieBulie*

      Play something that you really like to sing along with. I find that singing staves off fatigue.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I second this. I made a HUUUUUGE playlist on my phone for driving to St. Louis. Since I’m alone and can’t change the music while driving at 75 miles an hour, and have nobody to do it for me, I just stuck all the songs I liked best to sing to in one long string. :)

    2. Jillociraptor*

      Uhh, that’s not the worst idea! :)

      My biggest packing tip is to pay someone to do it for you. Many movers provide a la carte packing and unpacking services, and it’s not super expensive. I think I paid about $300 to have someone pack up my 2 bed apartment when we moved from DC to CA, and probably another $100 to have them unpack the kitchen on the other end. (Unpacking the kitchen, BTW, is SO worth it. All the little glasses and individually wrapped forks, yikes.) They also hauled away the boxes. Really, it’s a great deal.

      When we moved across town, we discovered the unanticipated benefits of tossing crap willy nilly into boxes: when the contents aren’t well-ordered, you are kind of forced to actually unpack all of the boxes in pretty good time because otherwise you’re without your bath towels or pots and pans. :)

      For our cross-country road trip, we actually listened to lots of audio books. “Bossypants” by Tina Fey and “Dad is Fat” by Jim Gaffigan were fun road trip books! I bet Harry Potter would also be good, especially if you already know the story.

      Good luck!

      1. MovingToCaliSoon*

        Thanks! I’m not hiring movers/packers this time, but I will look into audio books for the drive, that is a great suggestion!

      2. tigerStripes*

        Audio books are great for long drives!

        If you want to just get rid of stuff, there may be some charities nearby that would come and be happy to take it.

      3. KR*

        That’s so cheap! I paid $2900 to move a mattress, a TV, a coffee table, boxes for a bedroom and some kitchen stuff, a kitchen table, and a hope chest from NH to Southern California.

        1. JulieBulie*

          I think Jillociraptor was talking only about the cost of packing and unpacking – not the moving which is yeah, wicked expensive.

    3. periwinkle*

      Podcasts are fabulous for long, long road trips. We moved from DC to Seattle a few years ago and I had to make the one-way drive twice, solo (we have 3 cars and two drivers). I loaded up on podcasts and spent many hours going through the creepy delights of “Welcome to Night Vale.” Tip: If your route takes you through long lonely stretches of interstate driving in the Southwest… pick a different podcast.

      1. Gingerblue*

        As a huge Night Vale fan, that sounds like the BEST way to listen, but by that point in a move I’m usually hoping to be disappeared by a vague yet menacing government agency anyway.

        1. JulieBulie*

          Seconding Night Vale. I also loved Within the Wires, but that’s not long enough for this move!

      2. Ruffingit*

        I love the podcast Stuff You Should Know. I learned a lot from those and the hosts are funny!

    4. Gingerblue*

      I’m also gearing up for a move, and I’ve been using my running playlist and podcasts for motivation. Among podcasts, Welcome to Night Vale was mentioned downthread, and I’d add Alice Isn’t Dead, The Hidden Almanac, and Kevin and Ursula Eat Cheap as things that keep my brain occupied while doing stuff like packing. (The first three are narrative, while Kevin and Ursula is two people sitting at their kitchen table reviewing packaged foods. Because they’re both hilarious, this is a lot more entertaining than it sounds.) For work music, I usually stream Digitally Imported stations these days.

      I was just fantasizing this morning about setting all my belongings on fire and walking away, so total sympathies.

  45. Red*

    Running tights. I bought a pair on the recommendation of a friend and they are so freaking comfortable, I don’t know if I’ll ever wear anything other than these again. Knowing that, anyone have a favorite store for them?

    1. Mischa*

      I adore Oiselle. They only have a mortar and brick location in Seattle, but I’ve had great experience buying from them online. For a more budget option I go for under armor — not too expensive and they get the job done. My favorite cold weather tights are from Patagonia. I honestly want to wear nothing else as well.