weekend free-for-all – June 24-25, 2017

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. (This one is truly no work and no school.)

Book recommendation of the week: The Heirs, by Susan Rieger. A family drama with money and scandals that everyone is surprisingly chill about. One review I saw called it a modern day Edith Wharton, and that seems right.

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

{ 1,035 comments… read them below }

  1. Parenthetically*

    Shoutout to Cristina in England for recommending the Lectrofan micro a couple open threads ago! We took one on our big camping trip to the Grand Canyon and it was a total star. Charged up fast in the car, lasted for two full nights on every charge, the size of a jar of eye cream. Worth every penny so this pregnant lady could get some decent sleep!

    1. Cristina in England*

      Wonderful news, and what a cool place to take it! Happy it is working for you. :-)

  2. bassclefchick*

    My husband and I took my birthday trip to Chicago last weekend. LOVED it!! Thank you to everyone who helped me figure out tipping. It was absolutely fine. The hotel staff was great. We even got our room service meal comped because I mentioned when we checked out that there was a small problem with our room. Wasn’t expecting anything, just wanted them to know that I asked the concierge twice to fix something that never got fixed.

    I got to go to the Art Institute for the first time!! Of course, I was standing 3 feet from American Gothic when I asked where it was. He gave me a funny look and told me – right there. LOL. Silly me. And I finally got to see The Bean. So cool! Best birthday in a long time!!! LOVE Chicago!

    1. Dr. KMnO4*

      The Art Institute is amazing. I love Chicago (it helps that I was born there). I’m glad you had a good time!

    2. Artemesia*

      Glad you enjoyed yourself. We moved from the south to Chicago when we retired and have been deliriously happy ever sense. It is a great town to visit but an even better town to live in. It is beautiful and the cultural opportunities are amazing. We didn’t know a soul except one of our kids when we moved here and now have a lovely social circle and more things to do than we can fit in the weeks.

    3. SophieChotek*

      Awesome. I might be going there for work this fall and hope I have enough PTO that I can add a day or two to see things — like the Art Institute. Glad you had a great time. Makes me eager to go.

      1. Bibliovore*

        In Chicago right now. Hello librarians. We lucked out with the weather. Hope to get to the American Writers Museum.

    4. A. Schuyler*

      We were just in Chicago earlier this week! We went to see Hamilton (obviously) and loved it, plus we did a walking tour and visited the Art Institute and got some great deals at Macy’s. We’re in Hawaii now on the next leg of our trip but I honestly preferred Chicago. I can’t wait to go back!

      1. bassclefchick*

        I wanted to go see Hamilton, but we couldn’t afford the tickets. Darn it. We DID tour the Palace (Aladdin was playing there) and the Oriental (King and I) theaters. That was fun. There’s just so MUCH to do there that we never seem to do everything we want.

  3. Miso*

    Well, my tonsils are out, stayed at home for almost two weeks and went to the doctor yesterday fully expecting to go to work again on Monday – after all it doesn’t even hurt anymore and I feel fine.
    Unexpectedly, the doctor gave me a note for next week as well. I feel bad for my colleagues because my boss is on vacation, so it’s just two of them (and one is part time), but in all honesty I can’t complain about another week of Zelda too much. And I probably will work on Saturday again anyway.

      1. Miso*

        Yeah, I was sooo scared because the doctors kept telling me how much it hurts and everything. For me (with pain meds of course) it wasn’t worse than a tonsillitis, just a couple of days longer. I still notice something now and then but it stopped hurting some days ago. The doctor also said it healed better than for others after two or three weeks – guess I finally found my superpower!

    1. LNZ*

      Take the time, i had mine out as a kid and like you i felt ok pretty fast so i was up and around. And then i was allowed to play w the sparklers for 4th of july because again i felt fine. The smoke caused me to cough off the scabs and i started bleeding. But because i was swallowing the blood no one, self included, noticed. I woke my mom up at 3am vomiting blood and had to he rushed to the hospital. And i legit felt fine right up until i started throwing up. Just cause you feel fine doesnt mean your healed up.

    2. SaraV*

      Read this first as your toenails were out.


      So glad it’s your tonsils, and that it appears you’re healing nicely.

      *slinks away*

      1. Artemesia*

        Weird , I just read toenails too and was all excited because I have a toenail issue and I think I will have to have a couple removed and was anxious to see how it went. Ah well.

        1. Miso*

          Now I’m imagining my toenails getting ripped out with pliers. Thanks?

          I’m definitely glad it’s just my tonsils and I wish you all the good luck in the world with your toenail issue! I’m sure they don’t actually use pliers. I hope.

  4. WG*

    I just found out accidentally that there is a school reunion for my class being held soon. I’d been invited to and attended the last reunion. The same person that organized the last reunion seems to be organizing this year’s, though she isn’t someone I’ve actively stayed in touch with in the intervening years. My contact information hasn’t changed. But I wasn’t invited.

    Should I reach out to her to inquire about the event? If so, how to phrase that without sounding either pushy or hurt? Or should I just let it go? Maybe she’s just having a get-together with only classmates she’s stayed in touch with?

    1. NPG*

      I think I would but keep it very low key – ask if they are having a reunion and if there are details available. It sounds like these things are important to you and it might just be a case of the email getting picked up by spam filters or soemething like that.

      Good luck!

    2. AnotherAlison*

      I would reach out and ask! Don’t feel shy about it. My 10 year was very formal (I think the school helps the classes with their 10 year), but my 20 year was very informal. None of the class leadership could organize it, so someone took it on, and it was just communicated via facebook. They asked people to add other people, and ultimately there were probably ~20 people they couldn’t get a hold of.

      1. Quickbeam*

        I’ve planned/ helped with a few reunions and we always want everyone to know and feel welcome. Some people are harder to locate than others, even if their parents still live in he same house, etc. we tell everyone to reach out to people in their sphere. Depending on your class size it is a daunting task even if it seems easy from the outside. We’ve had a huge success rate and are planning our 50th now. Yes I am old.

        Unless your school had the original mean girls, most reunions want everyone to attend, regardless of how life turned out.

    3. Connie-Lynne*

      The people organizing my 10 year reunion were very relieved when I reached out because they had marked me down as “couldn’t locate.” My parents still lived in the same place as when I was in HS, and in fact the alumnae newsletter went to that address.

      It’s entirely possible this person screwed up similarly. Just reach out and say, “hi! I heard there’s another reunion coning up soon and you’re organizing. I’d love to attend. Could you share the details?”

      1. LCL*

        That happened with my 10 year. I went, it was a waste of time. Still glad I went, because I would always wonder about some people.

      2. Connie-Lynne*

        I had a good time at my 10-year, but it was a little weird and awkward. Same for my 20-year.

    4. Cruciatus*

      If you have an easy way to reach out I would say something like “Hey, I heard about the reunion on X date. Are you still accepting RSVPs?” It should in theory prompt her to give you the info without laying blame anywhere. Do you know anyone who was already invited? You could ask if they know whether it’s a full class event or just a smaller gathering.

    5. Really*

      My sister didn’t get a reunion notice many years ago and she owned the house she lived in high school (a mile from school).

      1. Arjay*

        This happened to me too. I was living in what had been my family home in high school. Same address, three miles from the school, and they couldn’t locate me. My friend who actually graduated a year after me and had moved 1,000 miles away, received an invitation and was the one to tell me about it.

    6. Jessesgirl72*

      The people who did our 10 year purposely only invited half the class. They didn’t bother with a 20 year.

    7. Gingerblue*

      Definitely reach out! Even if the organizer is the same person it’s so very easy for paperwork to go wrong, especially since these events are often being organized by people who are amateur to organizing this type of big event. Last time she might have accidentally made a note that she couldn’t contact you intead of that you didn’t attend; maybe her handwriting isn’t great and your address went astray; maybe she was moving her contact info from one system to another and she dropped an entry by mistake. She’ll most likely be chagrinned and glad you got in touch.

  5. NPG*

    I could use some help here – whenever I hit AAM on my iPhone (using Safari), sometimes I get automatically redirected to one of those online ‘you won a free $1000 gift card’ screens. I think the website is phoneclub.info or something like that. Is there any way to stop that from happening?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      There’s been a flood of those recently and my ad network is working on it but it’s proved really hard to track down and stop. For some people, clearing their cache and cookies has solved the problem. Would you try that? And then if it doesn’t, please email me screenshots of the redirects so I can pass them along.

      1. Liane*

        I had it happen on one or two other sites as well, after I reported it here. Maybe the stupid spammers found a new trick.

      2. This Daydreamer*

        I’ve been seeing that kind of crap everywhere! It’s extremely annoying. At least I got over the notion that I had a virus of some sort.

    2. Brogrammer*

      Try clearing your browser cache and cookies, that seems to do the trick for a lot of phone-users who get hit with this.

    3. paul*

      It’s not just AAM; I spent sunday and monday on my phone (hospital stay, boo) and was running into that on a metric ton of sites. Cleared cookies, cache, etc…helped.

    4. SophieChotek*

      Yes it happened to me too. I will try clearing my cache. (I don’t like doing it because it signs me out of everything.) But those redirects are quite annoying too.

    5. mondegreen*

      It’s been happening to me as well, and when I tried to send an ad report from my phone, AAM’s report-an-ad page kept reloading and reformatting itself so I couldn’t see all the fields. If you got a bunch of copies of the same screenshot in a short burst, my apologies!

      1. Bibliovore*

        This. Never happened to me before. Cleared the cache, blocked pop ups and it was still happening.

    6. Bigglesworth*

      I’m having the same problem. Hopefully clearing my cookies and cache will fix it.

    7. Grrrrrrrr*

      This site is awesome, but I’ve really had it with the ads. I wouldn’t mind if I could close them, or navigate away, but these are really aggressive, and I have to shut the browser down each time. It happens on my new model iPhone whether I’m using Safari or Chrome, and they usually appear within the first 30 seconds. I don’t have these issues on any other website, so I’m not inclined to install an ad blocker. Besides, it’s how folks with websites earn $$$, so it’s not something I really want to do. The only reason I can post a comment now is because I’m using my iMac instead of my iPhone.

      1. Grrrrrrrr*

        I meant to add that it doesn’t matter if I clear my history or cache on either browser. The pop-ups keep happening, just as often and aggressively.

        1. Tara*

          To add to this, if you are concerned about still giving ad traffic to other sites, there is usually a way to disable the ad blocker for all except blacklisted sites, and then you could block just pages that give you issues.

          I actually have an ad blocker because a bunch of annoying ads were appearing on AAM articles, but not on her homepage. So I have it to block her domain, except the page askamanager.org so I get no ads on the article pages but still have it non-blocked where it isn’t annoying.

    8. KAZ2Y5*

      I wonder if this is something peculiar to iThings? I have just started getting a popup for an Amazon gift card when I read this site on my iPad. I can’t return to AAM and can only get rid of it by closing the web page. I will have to try clearing my cache/cookies when I get a chance.

      1. NPG*

        I would put money on it being targeted to iThings. The market size is too large and the devices too consistent.

        One more reason why I miss my old Windows Phone… =/

    9. AfterBurner313*

      I use Adblocker on my Droid phone. Google Chrome has been an absolute sieve letting that junk through. It’s happening on all sites that have ads on them.

      I know people need to make money off of ads, but I’m not spending my time clearing out the cache after every site I visit to purge pop up spam.

  6. Allypopx*

    Any camera recommendations for a newbie photographer? I’m thinking about taking up photography as a hobby to help relax and focus on a creative outlet. I’m looking for something under or around $200 that will help me develop skills but not overwhelm me with technical finicky things I need to master right away.

    Tips also welcome!

    1. Artemesia*

      If you are thinking about photography as a hobby then you need to be looking at a DSLR and not one of the little automatic things you can get for $200. The good cameras are easy to use and have automatic features but also allow you to make the adjustments you need to do serious photography e.g. depth of field, exposure etc. If you are not planning to master photography with a good camera then just getting an Iphone is plenty good enough. You can then manipulate the pictures with a photo ap like Mac Photo or photoshop. No point having a separate camera and a phone too.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          We got a refurbished Sony Nex-6 a couple months ago for around the $350 range. It came with the stock lens. It has all the usual DSLR settings, or you can go manual. And it comes with built in flash, which most of them are going away from, but every now and then, in real life, I need flash because I’m not good enough to take those pictures without it and don’t carry around my own light sources. ;)

          I think that is really my advice- start with something used or refurbished, a couple models old, and see if you like it, before you lay out $500+++

          If you just want a basic point and shoot that also has some manual settings, we’ve had good luck with the Panasonic Lumix point and shoot line.

    2. Cristina in England*

      What is it you want to learn? What are the skills you want to develop first? If you want to work on composition, lighting, etc, you can do that with an iPhone. If you want to learn camera skills like controlling aperture, exposure, depth of field, then you’ll need a camera with manual settings, but you don’t need to start with a DSLR.

      I love my Canon G9X Mark II that I recently got as an upgrade from my older Canon Powershot 220. It has many many manual settings I will never use because I hate all that. My dad has been a pro photographer for 50 years and he tried to teach me all those manual camera settings a long time ago and I have no time for it. BUT, he regularly compliments me on my photos (he isn’t naturally complimentary, to the point where it is a family joke).

      I got the G9X because it is small enough for a pocket but it has a great sensor, a bigger sensor than the next range down (I asked my dad for help with this, and I can’t tell you a lot about it but the size of the sensor matters a lot, more than the megapixels).

      Anyway, I basically got this camera because it takes awesome photos on the automatic setting, and that’s all I am ever going to use. I am too busy framing my shots and tracking moving subjects to worry about having the right setting.

      If you are like me, and aperture and exposure and manual focus send you to sleep, start with lighting and composition. If you are taking pictures of people, overcast days or complete shade is much much better than sun. Experiment by taking similar photos under different conditions to see the different results, and practice framing a shot so the thing you’re interested in is not lost in the background.

      One final tip: taking a good picture is about training your eye. I usually am not looking at my camera when I take a picture, at least I don’t when I am taking pics of people. I aim my camera and then I look at the person or people I am taking a picture of, so I can sense the right moment to push the button.

      Hope this helps!

      1. Allypopx*

        Thank you! I’m interested in the manual settings but also a little bit overwhelmed by them. I take pretty good pictures with my phone (Samsung s7) and I think I have a decent eye for composition, but it’s something I’d like to get more comfortable with – and I’d like to take higher quality pics! So I think I’d like a camera with good automatic settings I could wean myself off of over time.

        I’ll check out your recommendation!

        1. paul*

          one thing to note–as one beginning photo nut to another–is that your composition opens change a lot depending on your lense. If I’ve got my 28 on I have a different set of options than if I’ve got my 250 on.

          I go ta good deal on a refurb 28-135 for my Canon just as a walking around lens because it’s versatile, but the lense alone was another 100+ over your budget, and I got the body from a friend :/

        2. Artemesia*

          The quality of the image depends on the quality of the lens and even the kit lenses from expensive DSLRs are not that great. And a lot depends on what you do with the photos. I have a travel blog which is heavily photo dependent and many of my photos are taken with a small point and shoot. I have it with me always when traveling and take the larger Nikon with big lenses only on serious photo days. The little Sony was about $800 though — it does get great pictures in low light situations.

          If you plan to blow them up for wall display then the lens quality becomes critical. If you plan to use them on line or in smaller books, the perfection of the image is less important. I have a friend who does professional level amateur work; he has had photo gallery displays etc. He puts thousands into high quality lenses and it shows.

        3. This Daydreamer*

          Cell phone cameras have definitely come a long way! I’ve gotten some pretty decent photos with mine and it’s a few years old now. One thing you might want to consider is getting a lense kit for your phone. I’ve got one that is magnetic and another that clips on to the phone. Both sets include a macro lens (which I love!) and a fisheye lens (yeah, whatever). I’ve also seen a telephoto type lens but I haven’t sprung for that one yet – my hands aren’t steady enough for it.

          It’s not quite the same as a dedicated, high quality camera, but it could either satisfy what you’re looking for or tell you you’re ready to make the jump to something more expensive.

    3. AVP*

      You might want to start with one of the new mirrorless cameras…Canon has one that’s not crazy expensive; Fujifilm’s are really nice but probably out of your range. But they’re cool for learning on because you can see the result of any changes you make to the manual controls right on your digital screen, rather than looking through the viewfinder/lens, taking the picture, and seeing how it came out on a DSLR.So you get a more intuitive sense of what all the manual controls really mean and how each one changes the image.

    4. Iris Carpenter*

      I disagree with the other commentators. The very best kind of camera is the one that you actually have with you when you notice a promising subject. Any DSLR and many bridge cameras are just too bulky to always have with you to be available at that critical moment.

      Many of the current cameras in your budget are vastly superior to what could be purchased for 10 times the price 10 years ago. Any current bridge or DSLR will have a HUGE number of settings and modes that will distract you from the photography. Photography is mainly about understanding and getting a feel for light and framing. You do not need to spend masses of money for that.

      I would get a camera that is within your budget, and a decent computer with a good monitor to view, edit & store your photographs, & some photo editing software. Possibly a decent printer. Then take lots of photographs and figure out what you like taking pictures of, what interests you and what you are good at. Then when you know what you like, and know where the limitations of your first camera are really limiting you, then you will have an informed base for upgrading.

      The secret to good photography is lots and lots of very bad photography, and brutal deletion of unsuccessful shots. Joyfully, the digital revolution has taken away the costs of this. So get shooting and good luck!

      If you want to disregard all this, I have been very happy with my Panasonic DMC-FZ series bridge cameras.

      1. Allypopx*

        Thank you! This is super helpful. I’m torn between getting a cheaper camera I’d be more comfortable with off the bat or a better one I could grow into.

        Definitely going to get some editing software though.

        1. Artemesia*

          Price matters even for point and shoots. The more expensive cameras like the Sony RX100 and the Lumix etc are easy to use and small but take MUCH better pictures than the cheap cameras. I learned this the hard way after buying a small cheap camera.

        2. Leticia*

          This from a former professional photographer: if your budget is limited, don’t waste it on a bad SLR, go for the best point and shoot you can afford. I used to use SLRs, but now I am the proud owner of a Sony Cybershot. It has better color off the bat.

          Photography for me is about the story you are telling – through images – about the composition and the light. Not so much about getting dragged down by technical details. A point and shoot helps me focus on what matters most to me. Making sure I get aperture and shutter speed right for every picture isn’t high on my priorities.

      2. This Daydreamer*

        “The very best camerais the one you actually have with you when you notice a promising subject.”

        Very good point! I stopped carrying my old Canon around everywhere because it was so blasted heavy. My cell phone, on the other hand, is always there in case of a camera emergency. Or a desparate need to play Candy Crush, but camera emergencies are far mmore common inm y life.

    5. Hrovitnir*

      Ah ha! I wrote a big comment, realised it was irrelevant to your budget and deleted it. I’m glad to see this thread. I also have a good (waterproof) point-and-shoot, and while it has its use, I really miss the manual settings. Phones are so good these days that there’s not enough benefit to the point and shoot for me – there are even phone companies which cameras that shoot in raw and have multiple apertures to get around the light issue.

      I have a Canon 500D (it’s the Rebel T1i or something in the USA), and it’s great. My father has a 5D, which puts it to shame, but it has been a wonderful introduction to photography. It still has full auto! Plus you can set individual settings to auto. I generally leave the ISO on auto but otherwise just put mine on manual from the get go and learned as I went (+ Google).

      I was recommended a 50 mm lens as a first, fairly cheap lens to buy (apart from the ones that come with) and it’s been great. It has a large aperture which lends itself to a short depth of field, or that nice effect where one thing is sharply in focus and the rest is softer.

      I was also recommended the Tamron 17-50 mm as being a better lens than the one that comes in a kit (Canon 17-55 mm I think? I believe Canon also sells a 17-50 mm that is better again than the Tamron, but $$$.) It’s definitely worth looking up lenses, because they easily cost as much as the camera, and make a huge difference – the Canon and Nikon lenses are generally better, but not always and not always by enough to justify the price difference. My last lens is a Sigma 70-300 and that again, is a budget but decent zoom lens. I lust expensive ones but… yeah, not right now.

      I definitely think if you’re interested in photography that an SLR is worth the investment. Mine was a surprise present, and it’s brought me a hobby I didn’t expect. I also use my phone, and it can take amazing photos, but an SLR is a whole different world.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I have one in the Canon 500D series (aka Rebel/Kiss, depending on country), and quite like it. It’s got a lot of flexible options, and can be run in anything from full automatic to full manual. The lens I use is a Tamron 28-250 mm, which I really like as a walking around camera – it covers everything from wide landscape shots to fairly high zoom without needing to swap lenses in the field.

        A note on DSLRs – if you go this route, you’re making a long term decision about the brand of camera you’re using, as the lenses are not interchangeable between brands. ie, you can upgrade a Canon body with a lens made by or for a Canon body, but can’t put a Nikon lens on a Canon camera.

        If you’re going the point and click route, make sure you get a camera where you can look through the eyepiece, rather than using the screen on the back, when you’re taking pictures, and keep an eye out for one that has manual options. I started with the point and click route, and moved to the DSLR when I found I was getting frustrated with the things I couldn’t do – the manual settings were clunky to use, it was very hard to use manual focus settings in particular, and taking more than one picture in a row, or being ready to take a photo after turning it on was slow.

        Other things for budgeting – if you get a DSLR, remember budget for a basic UV filter for the lens, a spare battery, and a decent cleaning kit.

        1. Hrovitnir*

          Oh man, I really need to get a UV filter, my poor abused lenses. :/ Do you know anything about giving your lenses a really good clean yourself?

    6. Bigglesworth*

      Not really a camera recommendation, but just wanted to mention that I love using Adobe Lightroom for editing my photos.

      I’m a Nikon person, because that’s what my Dad used. However, I love my Nikon D3000 way more then my Nikon D5000. I’ve had my D3000 for 5+ years now and know it inside and out. Not quite that comfortable with the 5000 and therefore don’t use it as much.

      1. Searching*

        When I started using Lightroom, a whole new (photography) world opened up for me! I also use the Lightroom Mobile app on my iPhone for on-the-fly edits (especially when I wirelessly transfer photos from my Panasonic to my phone).

      2. Manda in Holland*

        Chiming in to also recommend Lightroom! When you’re shifting from a PhotoStream of snapshots to a mountain of photos from multiple cameras (e.g. your “nice one” and your phone), Lightroom’s organizational system is fantastic. You can keep track of the photos you want to bother adjusting, and do quite a lot of powerful post-processing all within the software. It’s easier to start using than Photoshop, and Photoshop isn’t designed to be the place where you organize your photos. Have fun with your new hobby!

    7. Searching*

      Outside your budget, but an extremely versatile camera is the Panasonic DMC-LX100. What I like about it is the larger sensor, the ability to use all manual controls if you want (and fully automatic if you don’t), and large aperture (1.7 to 2.8, depending on how much you zoom) to get a nice shallow depth of field. The main drawback is that it doesn’t have a huge zoom.

      I also have a Nikon DSLR, but the Panasonic is so much more convenient to carry around.

      And while it’s cliche of course, in the end it’s the photographer that makes the photo, not the camera. I still take most of my photos with my iPhone because I always carry it with me.

    8. Deirdre*

      I have been in love with photography for years and have several Nikon DSLR bodies and lenses. I use Lightroom for my processing. And the best way I learned was through reading a series by Scott Kelby called the Digital Photography book. I think there are five in the series. Figuring out manual settings can be a little mind-numbing and he takes you step-by-step on how to take virtually any picture. I highly recommend them. Cameras are a personal choice (mirrorless, DSLR, P&S). The fun is in taking and developing. Happy learning!

    9. Gingerblue*

      I’m shopping for my first DSLR at the moment, and while it’s way more than you originally mentioned, I’ve seen a bunch of praise for the Canon Rebel T7 as a camera for new enthusiasts. Apparently there’s a tutorial mode built in which helps to ease you into the manual settings, what they do, and how to get the most out of them. (And you can turn that off once you’ve got the hang of it.)

      Also, a tip on lenses: other people have mentioned that lenses aren’t compatible with camera bodies from a different company. I’d known that, but only found out while reading reviews that some lenses won’t be compatible across different lines within the same company. Some of the lenses for crop-sensor (less expensive, smaller image sensor) cameras won’t fit full-frame (bigger sensor, really freaking expensive) cameras.

      Also also, I’ve found “Bryan Peterson’s Understanding Photography” to be an accessible intro guide which made me feel like this is something I could actually get better at.

    10. GermanGirl*

      One more option for software is Gimp, it’s free and a decent software to start with and in runs on Windows and Linux (don’t know about MacOS, but it wouldn’t surprise me).

      1. amanda_cake*

        Final thought–I saw an awesome package in Costco yesterday for a Canon DSLR. Way, wat over $200 (think like $1200 range) but it was super nice, two lenses, bag, and memory card.

        I desperately need to upgrade and likely will hit Costco when the time comes.

  7. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    Apologies for length…
    My final straw with the mom was earlier this month. SO’s application for teapot license was delayed by 3 weeks because the dept messed up spelling of last name.

    My mom flipped out and sent 3 30-line vicious emails to me about how SO was lazy, end up a crook like his father, (note: SO is *nothing* like his father, who abandoned his family), and how I was covering up for his lies.

    My mom burned me up so bad because she was never going to understand how hardworking he is.

    I tried to work it out with my dad, but he “wanted to be a family again” and voluntold me to accept my mom’s haphazard “I’m sorry you feel that way” apology. I said NO. I was done with mom hurling insults my and SO’s way, and just because I had to deal with her emotional abuse as a child, didn’t mean she had the right to tear me apart, or SO, now. What if it’s our wedding next? And what if she berates us in front of our own kids?

    I’ve gone from low contact, to no contact now–till end of July. I can’t stand to hear her voice, see her face–she literally makes me ill from her insults and constant pressure to “marry up.” SO and I have been together 3+ years and she still bothers me asking why I chose a non-elite college SO.

    Tl;dr: No contact with nmom and edad till July’s end. Wondering whether the 60% eggshell interactions are outweighed by 40% pure emotional hell, whether I’m too sensitive.

    1. Temperance*

      The phrase “too sensitive” is often levied at the abused by their abusers. Your mother will never change, Carmen. She likes the way that she is. I don’t remember the history exactly, but, you’re an only child with a demanding mother who holds money over your head, right?

      You don’t owe her, or your father, anything. He knows that she treats you terribly, and he doesn’t really care, because it means that she’s not treating HIM badly right now.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Or, alternately, this is his own passive-aggressive way of being terrible.

        You know that saying ‘the class clown is the guy who pulls a goofy prank, but the class comedian is the one who talked him into doing it’? Some people perpetrate their abuse by enabling and encouraging ‘active’ abusers.

    2. Hrovitnir*

      My sympathies. I hope you find the break as absolutely fantastic as I did. I’m basically a “cut your parents off” evangelist. It’ll either allow you to have a relationship after some space to reset your reality, or realise you don’t have to. It did more for my mental health than anything else I’ve ever done (I am now in contact with both my parents, carefully.)

      My experience is that it takes a remarkably long time to recover enough to be able to deal with them again – your mother is very different to mine, and it seems likely that you’ll have to have a very superficial relationship if and when you are in contact again, because she clearly sees zero problem with her behaviour.

    3. Miso*

      I don’t have anything insightful to say, but I’m sorry you have to deal with something like that. She sounds awful.

    4. Cheshire Cat*

      You have my sympathies, Carmen, & I’m sorry you have such an awful mother & an enabling father.

      I have a couple of friends who had abusive parents and went no-contact. Both cut off the abusive one first and tried to maintain a relationship with the other, but eventually had to cut or severely restrict contact with the enabling parent as well. Like, they send birthday cards, but nothing else.

      Both friends told me that they second-guessed themselves at first and had some doubt as to whether they were doing the right thing. After awhile they each realized that they were much happier without all that abuse.

      YMMV, of course, but it sounds as if you’re on the right track. If you’re feeling an uncomfortable amount of guilt or self-doubt over this, some short-term counselling could be useful. And there could be free or low cost resources in your community, if money is an issue.

      Best wishes navigating all this.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        I am also in this club. I had to cut off both in the end. It gives you space to start healing but that doesn’t mean it’s easy – it’s really important to look after yourself as you work through this.

        1. Carmen Sandiego JD*

          Thanks, and thanks all. I’m spending this weekend with the SO and SO’s mom at the family home in the woods, emotionally recuperating.

          I feel so much more at peace, but a bit conflicted at having cut them both off and messing up fathers day :/

          1. Ramona Flowers*

            You didn’t mess up anything. You are not too sensitive. This sounds a lot like FOG: fear, obligation and guilt. It will recede, even if it doesn’t feel like it now.

            Blaming yourself for this – as familiar or as comfortable as it may be – is like blaming a window for breaking when a brick is banged against it one too many times.

            You feel more at peace for a reason. It is okay to protect yourself. I remember asking a therapist if it was really bad enough to justify my going no contact. He said: don’t ask yourself how bad it is, ask yourself if it’s reasonable.

          2. Stellar*

            It sounds like your parents messed up Father’s Day. Sorry you’re going through this.

          3. Observer*

            You didn’t mess up father’s day. Your father did, by failing to act the way a father should.

    5. Artemesia*

      good for you. If you reengage commit to very low information. She didn’t need to know about your SO’s plans for his work and licensure. Keep it to cordial stranger and nothing personal. And if you think she will also be a force for evil at your wedding consider eloping or gathering up your close friends for a backyard wedding that you can pass off to family as eloping or spur of the moment.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Echoing others here, you are not too sensitive. Your mother is too insensitive and not many human beings would interact with her for very long if she treated them the way she treats you. She treats you like dirt, Carmen, honest.

      Many, many parents out there would LOVE to have a daughter like you. You are kind, you care about others, you are sincere, you are hardworking. These are all good things, Carmen. Most parents would adore having an adult child with these qualities, they would just melt all over the place. I am not exaggerating here.

      Your father is totally controlled by your mother. He should have been protecting you and advocating for you all these years. Even on into your adulthood, he still fails to do so.

      You will probably to the rest of your life and not see a relationship that is this HARD and this AWFUL.

      If you have not started reading books about motherless daughters you need to start now. Teach yourself that you are not alone, there are abusive mothers out there and yours is one of them.

    7. This Daydreamer*

      I’m so sorry. That really sucks. Good for you for setting up some boundaries and I hope they work. And you are NOT too sensitive. She’s being emotionally abusive ad she’s never going to get better if you tolerate her words and actions. Unfortunately, you may have to permanently cut off contact to avoid her abuse, but she’s a real risk to your mental health if she continues to get away with it.

    8. Observer*

      I don’t care what you are saving money for. Get yourself to a good counselor. If your insurance covers,or you have an EAP, well and good. Otherwise, pay it yourself. It’s an investment in yourself that will pay many dividends.

      A question you need to answer (not to me, but to yourself) is why do you think you are being to sensitive?

      Your mother stole from you for years. With your father’s direct assistance, she tried to bully you into forking over all of your savings. She’s raked you over the coals for imaginary slights with ridiculous invective multiple times. She’s now capped it will calling both you and your SO lairs, low lifes and other assorted insults. Would you ever talk to any other person who did that to you?

  8. EA*

    So I am in the process of adopting a rescue dog. I am trying to find resources on the internet about training/raising the dog; and everything seems very contentious. For example, I am planning on either coming home at lunch or getting a dog-walker (probably a combination of both); we were going to crate until the dog is trained, and then just leave it in one room (the kitchen), and then hopefully the whole apartment. I have read some people think using the crate for 4-5 hours is cruel. One rescue also denied me because I have a job and they only rescue to people who can be home all day or afford doggy daycare everyday.

    I’ve looked up resources on getting a breed who can be home alone, and tried to find compromises (the dog walker, coming home at lunch). The current rescue is fine with the situation. I also sort of know its fine, because I had 3 dogs growing up who were confined to one room while my parents worked and were very happy. I guess, I am asking for resources on dog-training, and maybe some understanding of what I am reading? Are these opinions just very out there internet nonsense? Or would I be mistreating the dog? I don’t want to be irresponsible or a negligent dog owner – but do resent the idea of only people who don’t work or are very high income to be able to own a dog.

    1. AnotherAlison*

      Just to comment on the kenneling aspect. . .I have two dogs that are kenneled all day, without a midday walk. My son gets home from middle school fairly early, so it’s not as bad as it seems. One is a Lhasa Apso and one is an English Setter. They are both fine with it. On weekends, the setter will actually go in her kennel on her own for several hours. She seems annoyed that we’re cutting into her nap time, honestly. We have acreage, so they can both go out and get as much exercise as they need on their own before and after work, but for a non sporting or hunting breed, a quick walk is probably all they need.

    2. all aboard the anon train*

      I’ve been denied by so many rescues because I work and/or live in a city (or for other ridiculous reasons), which makes me believe rescues only want to give dogs to suburban families with a SAHP. It’s infuriating. I’m also pretty wary of a lot of their advice because they tend to go to the extreme. I know rescues are a good cause, but the way so many of them are run seems to defeat the purpose.

      As far as crating, this depends on the dog. I had Newfoundlands growing up and all of them loved the crate. Sometimes they’d stand at the top of the stairs in my parents house until we let them downstairs to hang out in the crate. There’s definitely been times where I’ve unlocked the crate and they don’t want to get out – I get that annoyed look as if I’m interrupting their time. They’re also big, lazy dogs who don’t tend to roam as much, so they’ve always been fine with a quick walk morning, mid-day, and in the evening.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I just want to chime in here that I cannot STAND those rescues. We adopted our bud in NYC, and if they only adopted to people with yards who were home all day, they’d have a lot of dogs without homes. Our rescue does require a midday walk or some kind of break in the day, but dogwalkers in NYC are plentiful and can be inexpensive.

        Anyway. Besides that… indeed, all dogs are different when it comes to the crate. Ours loves his– it’s his “room”. He goes there when he needs quiet time or when he’s mad at us (usually after he gets his ear medicine) or when he’s anxious. The other night he got caught in a rainstorm and ran straight into his crate. We don’t close the door on it anymore when we’re in the house. It’s wonderful to have the option of the crate when we travel or have a party; he gets a yummy treat and some down time. That said, he has had periods of crate aversion (long story), but during those times he just roamed around the house, which he does anyway. He’s a big lazybutt and he mostly just sleeps the day away.

        1. all aboard the anon train*

          It baffles me that rescues in cities are adamant about not letting people without yards or with jos adopt. Who do they expect to adopt, then? I don’t have a yard, but I live near a bunch of public parks and in an area where dog walkers are frequent.

          Yeah, I agree about the crates. I’m pretty skeptical of people who think crating a dog at any time is abusive. Sure, if they’re crated 24 hours a day, that’s abusive, but if the dog likes the crate or it’s in there for a few hours, it’s not a big deal. My Newfies always loved small spaces even though they can’t fit in there. They used to lie under the dishwasher door when it was down when they were puppies and kept trying to do it when they were adults….which meant the door would be tilted because they were too big to lie under there anymore and it was a hilarious disaster.

          1. fposte*

            And, as with anything, it’s about training. You don’t just shut the dog into a crate when you bring him home; you train him to find it pleasant and work on his time staying in it. People opposed to crating aren’t generally people who think much about training dogs.

          2. Optimistic Prime*

            Quite frankly, I think a spacious enough apartment in the city is maybe even a better environment for my lifestyle with some dogs. A house in the suburbs with a yard SOUNDS like the dog gets lots of exercise running around in the yard, but when you live 20 minutes driving away from things that’s most of what the dog is going to see. When I lived in Manhattan I was walking distance to several parks and a couple dog runs, so I felt far more active there and there were lots of opportunities for me to walk Zelda and take her to the park after work. Sometimes you don’t feel like hopping back in the car after a long day in a more suburban area (which is where I currently live – I very often wish I had chosen a more walkable urbanized neighborhood).

        2. mugsy83*

          This is why there are still puppy mills – good people who want to give a good home to a rescue are denied for these frivolous reasons, so they go out and buy a pet store dog. I understand that the rescue volunteers just want to make sure these animals go to a good, safe home, but really, not adopting to people with jobs?! How can one afford to buy fancy, organic, gluten-free, soy-free, grain-free dog treats made in the USA with angel tears if they are home all day to walk the dog?!

      2. Elkay*

        We were denied adopting cats because we couldn’t have a catflap so we went and bought some. I would have loved to adopt rather than shopped but when rescues make you feel judged you don’t hang around. I grew up with cats and we never had a cat flap, the cat was either in or they were out in the garden (or fields nearby). We have a garden at the end of a quiet road with lots of bushes which the cat loves, half the time he’s just sitting in the bush and won’t come in. It’s only made a rod for my own back because I’m the fool running up and down the stairs to let the cat in and out!

        1. all aboard the anon train*

          Seriously. I know so many people like to paint people as evil for shopping instead of adopting, but adopting is hard. Rescues have so many insane rules to even allow people to adopt these days that I think some of them do more harm than good.

          1. StevieIsWondering*

            yes! I seriously don’t get it. All the rescues say, “when you adopt, you save two lives; the pet you adopt, and the pet that will be saved from the pound/shelter who can take the other one’s spot.” Every year in America 670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats from the pound/shelter are euthanized. But why then are there soooooo many barriers to adopt? I definitely don’t want to buy from a pet store because puppy mills are truly evil. Over the last 2 months I have filled out 9 applications to adopt from various places. There is always someone ahead of me in the queue, or someone is a better fit because a) they own a house b) have a fenced yard c) are at home all day d) have another dog so the new adopted dog can “bond with.” This process is taking longer than my last job search.

            1. all aboard the anon train*

              Honestly, I prefer that someone buy from a GOOD breeder than a pet store or puppy mill. It’s a long process, but a good breeder registered with the AKC (for dogs, I have no idea about other pets) will give you a genetic history, have a contract, keep in touch with you, take back the dog if something makes you unable to keep it, and educate you on the temperament and needs of the breed to make sure you’re a good fit. I wish rescues were more like this and less about all the absurd rules they make up.

              Case in point: I tried to get a Newfie from a rescue and was denied because I’m single and the “dog needed the love of a family” and said I had no kids but didn’t know what would happen in the future and that was a strike against me because “kids are bad for these dogs”. When anyone who’s had a Newfie, as I have, knows they’re one of the best dogs for kids (they’re called nanny dogs for a reason) and they’re perfect for a single person because they get attached to one person over the rest. It was pretty much the last time I put in an application at an independent rescue and now I’m sticking to rescues associated with the AKC for breeds I like. At least then it’s rescuers who know the breed.

              1. Optimistic Prime*

                Wait what? The dog needed the love of a family but also kids are bad for the dogs? #1, holy nonsensical contradiction Batman; #2, Newfoundlands are *great* with kids. They’re just chill and gentle and sweet.

        2. neverjaunty*

          Wait, what? I thought shelters were very adamant about cats NOT going outside (other than feral rescues).

            1. Myrin*

              I was thinking that. Where I’m from, it’s basically unheard of to have a cat as purely a house cat and while I’v never had anything to do with animal shelters – I’m always amused by (generally American) people on sites I frequent saying “go to the local shelter to XY” because there is no such thing as a local shelter here; we have one small-ish shelter in our whole… county-equivalent, I guess? – I’d be very surprised if they had any reservations towards cats going outside (unless it’s an elderly or sick cat).

          1. Hrovitnir*

            Yeah, in NZ we didn’t use to rehome cats as inside-only cats unless they already had experience with it. That may have changed, as acceptance of inside cats has grown a little. It’s much, much safer for cats here but our native wildlife is even vulnerable so…

          2. Thlayli*

            I’m confused – there are people who think cats should never go outdoors? What a strange concept.

            1. AcademiaNut*

              One problem is that they’re quite destructive to the local bird population – when they started actually tracking what cats did outside, researchers were surprised at just how many small animals the cats were killing, on average. This is particularly bad in places like New Zealand, where there aren’t any native predators, so the birds have no natural defences against them.

              1. Natalie*

                Although it’s worth noting that, in the US at least, the majority of wildlife destruction is by feral cats, not domestic pets that are allowed outside periodically.

            2. Thlayli*

              That is so strange. I get that it makes sense in New Zealand for conservation though it still seems really cruel.

              I dunno where you are fposte is there a similar conservation concern there?

              1. Artemesia*

                Cats live about half has long if they are allowed to range outdoors. They are killed by animals (coyotes and raccoons where we lived and that was a city. And of course cars take their toll. Outdoor cats also acquire toxoplasmosis which is dangerous to pregnant women as well as worms and fleas.

              2. fposte*

                I’m in the U.S. I think the nuisance factor was a likelier impetus for the law in my town. But I’m surprised you haven’t run into this before–outdoor vs. indoor cats is one of the Great Internet Holy Wars.

                1. Myrin*

                  I’m not surprised. I’m a Child of the Internet and yet I’ve only run into this for the first time two years ago (I’m 26). Had I not read this long-gone heated conversation, this very thread here would have been the first time I’d encountered this specific cultural difference.

                  (I also think you really do have to get smack into the middle of a debate that is explicitly about this topic to realise that it’s, well, A Topic. Indoor cats do exist here – in big cities or when a cat is sick/has an otherwise hard time getting around – so if someone just talked about their indoo-only cat, it wouldn’t even ping my radar because it’s not in general an unheard-of phenomenon that I couldn’t wrap my head around.)

                2. Thlayli*

                  I had heard of the concept of an indoor cat, but I always thought it meant a cat who spent the majority of their time indoors, because they were old or lazy or just had an unusual personality. I never realised there were cats who weren’t allowed outdoors at all.

                  I don’t own a cat (or any animal). This is the only board I’ve ever frequented where people talked about cats much.

              3. Hrovitnir*

                It is very very strongly believed in a lot of places. There are a lot of diseases and ways for your cats to die, they fight and get abscesses and can get FIV (there is a vaccine but it’s not 100% and it means they come up positive for FIV on a snap test), and they are very efficient at killing things so it’s actually a problem pretty much everywhere.

                It’s so deeply cultural though. If you hang out in USA animal rescue spaces you will learn not to talk about outside cats, because it is seen as 100% unacceptable. You can make your space pretty good for inside cats, and build little cat runs or ledges outside.

                One of my cats is inside-only as he is deaf, and I keep all my cats in for months before letting them out. As the narrative in NZ includes a not-insignificant number of people who think we should “fix” the problem by killing all cats, I would like to see initiatives to make keeping cats in or building predator-proof fences more normal, and also affordable. If you just make it illegal to have outside cats with no cultural change you’ll just kill a lot of pets without making any real dent on feral populations IMO. They do have laws about not having cats off your property in some states of Australia that seem to work OK.

                1. Hrovitnir*

                  I should note, while I appreciate where Americans are coming from, I get frustrated that they won’t even acknowledge the reality that literally the only predators of cats are domestic dogs, we don’t have rabies, or heartworm, or a lot of diseases they have in the US, and not much of it is built up so roads aren’t nearly as much of a danger. It’s still a danger, but we don’t have freaking mammals apart from the ones we brought here, man.

                  (Native mammals are a few bats and seals. Maori bought a type of rat called kiore. Europeans brought brown rats (R. norwegicus) and black rats (R. rattus), rabbits, hares, ferrets, stoats, weasels, deer (red, wapiti, sika, roe), goats, pigs, cattle, Tahr, cats and dogs. Also a bunch of European birds so they’d feel more at home.)

            3. This Daydreamer*

              Outdoor cats tend to live a far shorter life and can do horrible things to the local ecosystem.

            4. AfterBurner313*

              I live in States.

              Where I live cat outside=dead cat. They get poisoned, shot at and trapped.

              My rental complex has it in the lease, your cat being outside that will trigger eviction proceedings. You get three warning and you are out. The place also charges a $40/month surcharge for each cat. (You can have two). Dogs are $25/month.

              I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen a cat outside.

              This is in the Midwest, not NYC or a huge urban place.

            5. Perse's Mom*

              In the US, it’s illegal in probably every major urban area, quite a few smaller urban areas, and probably many smaller rural town to allow your cat (or dog) to roam off your property. Outside of risks to the animal’s well-being (below), you risk fines over breaking the nuisance law if the animal is picked up by animal control.

              In many places, there’s the risk of not only (multiple and varied) diseases, but poisoning, trapping, various predator species, cars… and in some rural areas, the nuisance laws are written such that an animal reasonably believed to be feral may be shot.

              If the animal IS picked up by someone, it may be a stranger – who may keep the animal or turn it in (or harm it), or animal control – who will take it to wherever they’re contracted to hold it. That doesn’t always shake out well, either – the owner may find their pet right away, or not start looking for a few days and by then Fluffy may be past the legal waiting period and be adopted out, or euthanised.

        3. Artemesia*

          Cats are generally far better off as house cats so what is that about? After our first cat died we tried to adopt from a rescue and you would have thought we were vivisectionists. They were unpleasant and had this adversarial judgmental tone and wanted reams of paperwork and were questioning our fitness to take a stray cat — one of a litter that had been dumped in a ditch. We said ‘this is ridiculous. We have been cat owners, just had a cat that lived with us for 18 years, and I am guessing we are more fit than the life in a vacant lot these cats were destined for. Forget it. We will go to the pound.’ And we did and got a lovely grey kitty who lived with us for another 18 years. Many rescues are staffed by people who are very odd and very suspicious of anyone who wants to adopt an animal. The people who know active in rescues are also very odd and always full of stories about the drama and politics of animal rescue; apparently turf wars are common. Well except for one niece who is great at socializing dogs for rescue and whose only flaw is that she keeps adopting them herself because she had trouble letting them go. they are now a 3 kid, 4 dog, 6 chicken family and have the occasional rescue coming through to be socialized to kids, other dogs and chickens.

          1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            Yeah, that’s ridic. Two of the cats I’ve had in my life were adopted from the biggest rescue in the world — the great outdoors. One was a stray at our apartment complex who just decided she was Going To Live With Us and pestered until my roommate and I gave in; the other is my creaky old longhair that I found under a hedge as a baby. It’s not necessarily the cheapest way to go — the vet bills were murder! — but it sure as hell beat judgy stares from people who only want their rescues taken in by SAHPs in wealthy ‘burbs.

          2. paul*

            Try being a snake owner; I don’t plan on mentioning my slithery’s next time I look to adopt. The looks you get…

          3. Hrovitnir*

            It gets incredibly depressing seeing the amount of animals surrendered, and returned, and dumped, plus people who work for literally or virtually nothing with animals tend not to be great with people. It’s not good, but it’s also not shocking.

            Depressingly, when I was an animal caregiver the people who were worst with people were the receptionists? Who were paid more than the animal caregivers, nurses, and welfare inspectors? Yeah, politics in the animal shelter/rescue world are pretty bad generally. *sigh*

          4. Sibley*

            So, context for people who don’t have it on the cats in or out debate.

            In the US, it’s generally desired for cats to be indoors (obviously, doesn’t always happen). Reason: predators. The US has a lot more predators that will go after cats, and they’re pretty widespread sometimes. This has lead to a culture where it’s “abuse” to let your cat outside.

            In the UK, cats are much more commonly indoor/outdoor cats. The culture is much more it’s “abuse” not to let your cat outside. Big difference. The UK also doesn’t have all the predators that the US does.

            Cats that go outside have a higher risk of illness/injury in general as well, from cars, other cats, etc.

            Bottom line: it is entirely possible to have a healthy, happy cat who is indoor only or goes outside. As long as appropriate care is provided, I have no problem either way.

            1. AfterBurner313*

              We have coyotes which took care of the feral cat tribe behind my complex. People used to feed the feral cats, but that turned it into fast food buffet for the coyotes. The people would not understand they were baiting for coyotes by feeding the cats.

              My city has a population of 85K. Not rural at all.

        4. Meag L*

          These ridiculous terms are the reason why people go on Craig’s List or buy from back yard breeders. People get frustrated by the process (rightly so)!

          You are being SUPER reasonable with your plans. I think when dogs are puppies you have to consider how long is healthy to hold their bladders for. I have two adult dogs and don’t come home on my lunch break anymore. I have set up a “dog cam” before to see if they barked a lot when I was out and I realized they honestly sleep 90% of the day. This means I have zero guilt about keeping them confined to an area of the house.

          I didn’t like crate training, so I used a puppy proof bathroom and then slowly expanded the dogs area over the course of a year or two.

          By the sounds of it, you will be a great dog parent! I’d also suggest checking out your local humane society or SPCA. They are can be much more reasonable. :)

        5. FelineFine*

          Denied for a lack of a cat flap? Here the rescue groups do not want you to let your cat outdoors at all. That is beyond ridiculous!

      3. Shayland*

        Oh yes, my city’s main dog rescue wouldn’t so much as speak to me because I was disabled. (I was 19 at the time.) They insisted on speaking to my parents, my vet, or my dog trainer.

        1. This Daydreamer*

          That is completely ridiculous. I’m so sorry you had to deal with that insulting bullcrap.

        2. Shayland*

          Thanks for all the validation guys.
          The incident was a long time ago, and I have two lovely dogs now. But the reminder that people treating my poorly because I’m disabled isn’t okay, turns out to have really been needed this weekend.

      4. Episkey*

        You are definitely not being irresponsible. Crating is totally fine. In fact, when we adopted our dog, we crated her the entire day while we were at work and I couldn’t come home for lunch. Once we determined she wouldn’t eat our cat, go potty in our house, or chew up our couch, she was given run of the home. Even though she’s now 12, I still keep her gated in one room when we leave because if I don’t, she will get up on our couches…which I wouldn’t even mind, but she has a terrible habit of licking her paws for like 45 mins straight, so you come home to a gigantic wet puddle on a couch from her licking.

        ANYWAY… I volunteer for 2 Labrador rescues in my area and I have volunteered for one in Phoenix when I lived there, along with a couple of animal shelters.

        The rescues are definitely more strict than the shelters, but it even depends on the rescue. The Lab rescue in Phoenix is VERY picky and is one that doesn’t like to adopt to a household that doesn’t have one person home most of the time (either SAHP or work-from-home). They also had a “thing” with doggie doors — ie, if you don’t have one, that was a mark against you. Here in IL, our rescues are very different. It’s actually a requirement that you do not allow your dog outside unsupervised for periods of time (therefore a dog door wouldn’t be a good thing here). One of the Lab rescues I volunteer for doesn’t allow Invisible Fences, the other is OK with it. It just depends.

        The rescue in Phoenix wouldn’t even adopt to families without a pool in their backyard if they determined the dog “really loved” to swim…uh, since they were all Labs, they pretty much all loved to swim lol. I had some issues with them.

        But basically, the more popular the rescue is & the more people they have on their waiting list to adopt means they can be more picky. If you don’t have your heart set on a specific breed, I would recommend going to a reputable shelter instead as they tend to be much happier to just get the dogs into a good home.

        And frankly, I think my husband & I were & are amazing dog parents even though we both worked full-time and didn’t have a fenced in backyard.

        1. Gingerblue*

          Had to have a pool? Good gravy.

          The last time my parents got a cat the rescue wanted an assurance that the cat would have her own bedroom. Mom finally just lied and said yes.

            1. Gingerblue*

              This! I cannot even imagine how you get to the point of thinking is is a normal thing to ask. When a rescue org is this round the bend, I begin to think the animals need rescuing from them.

      5. Rubyrose*

        The rescues around here want a suburban house with a fenced in yard and SAHP. And I just came across one that requires you give them your employers phone number AND YOUR ANNUAL SALARY!!

        I would be ready to go buy one at a store, but I truly want an older dog, not a puppy.

        1. This Daydreamer*

          Have you tried the local shelter? Older dogs are harder to find homes for so most shelters would love for you to walk in the door. If your local shelter is lousy, try one in a nearby community. From everything I’ve heard about rescues, shelters are far easier to deal with.

          1. Rubyrose*

            That is where I’m concentrating my efforts now. But I do have my requirements (small, no chihuahuas). Our local shelters tend to have mostly chihuahuas. There was one miniature poodle, 8 years old, that I saw at one shelter and was told it was being transferred back to its original shelter. My request for the dog could not override this move, nor could it follow the dog to the other shelter. So I checked the online listings every day (3 days) until the dog was transferred. The dog was gone before I could get off work.

      6. AfterBurner313*

        Rescues are not all *we want shiney happy families holding hands*. There are rescues that will not place dogs with children under 12. I have such a breed.

        Rescue people aren’t the pound. The pound euthanizes the old, sick, dogs on medications, and behavioral issues. Most rescues will take the old, sick, dogs with heavy duty medical bills and behavioral issues. That all comes out of their pockets unless the vets give them a break on the cost.

        Also a good rescue will take a dog back if it doesn’t work out.

        I filled out a paper work like I was doing a foreign adoption when I wanted to adopt my breed specific dog. The biggest deal was the interview, since my breed is hard to house break. They wanted to make sure I understood what little pains in the ass this breed can be. Last thing they want is me getting fed up and dumping it at the county shelter.

        I have met rescue fold who were bat sh*t crazy, and no one would be “good enough” to adopt one of their dogs.

        The bigger deal around here is the income requirement, than if Fido gets three walks per day.

    3. Shayland*

      Crating for that time frame is not cruel and some shelters are just absurd.

      I have newfound land experience and the shelter I was looking at wouldn’t adopt to anyone who didn’t have a fenced yard and who didn’t own their own property. When I called in about the dog I could tell they were desperate to find some one with experience with the breed, but because I didn’t have a fence (on an acre of land) and was planning to move soon they wouldn’t adopt to me.

      I was also only going to adopt the dog if it pasted my organizations service dog temperament test, letting them know that the dog would be trained for service work, and how this negated the need for a fence yard.

      They said no.

      And a breed specific group (breed which is one of the most popular service dog breed) refuses to adopt out a dog that would be used in any sort of work or dog sport.

      It’s just crazy how some shelters over step, and I think in the last case, end up hurting the dogs by doing so.

      1. AfterBurner313*

        What was happening here, the service dog specific dog of choice rescues had a big run on people wanted to adopt. What the adopters would do is run them through a boot leg service dog school and sell the dog for $10k-$20K. So the buyer never knew this dog was not properly screened for temperament, and the training was substandard.

        Now, to get a rescue of the two popular breeds (that are mostly used as service dogs), is ridiculous. You have a kid on the spectrum, the body cavity search is with no lube and done twice. The rescues don’t want a dog getting crap training and passed off as a service dog. Especially since my state has no standard at all what training a service dog is required to have.

        You don’t sound like the morons that run the service dog scams, but I can see why rescues get gun shy after awhile.

        1. Thlayli*

          I am utterly confused by your post. It sounds like you are saying a dog rescue place did (or wanted to do) a body cavity search on an autistic child before they would let them adopt a dog to become a service dog?

          1. Ella*

            I think they meant that if you have a special needs child, this rescue would scrutinize you more closely.

            1. Thlayli*

              But a cavity search? On a child? Just to get a dog? That can’t be legal?

              I’m really hoping I just misunderstood afterburner and/or she was making a joke of some sort.

          2. Shayland*

            I am also utterly confused by the post. I have defiantly heard of shitty organizations selling dogs that are not service dogs and do not pass the federally required level of behavior to be a service dog as service dogs. However, my organization is ADI accredited and all dogs that go through our program have to pass the CGC. This is pretty well documented for our group.

        2. Optimistic Prime*

          Here’s the thing though – most rescues don’t have contact with you and your dog after you adopt the dog out. if I was an unscrupulous person who wanted to adopt the dog, give it substandard training and then “sell” it as a service dog for $15K later…I probably just wouldn’t mention it to the rescue!

    4. Temperance*

      I am friends with a gay couple who had a terrible time adopting. One rescue turned them down because they didn’t have a Christian home. Another one kept trying to do a bait-and-switch, so whenever they would find a puppy or younger dog, the rscue would give it to a family and then offer them an older, high-needs dog.

      They did eventually adopt a young rat terrier. BTW, they had one partner largely at home and the dog was always cared for.

      1. Artemesia*

        Dogs have religious needs? Who knew. The other issue with rescues is that they lie about temperament. People with families especially need to be very careful about dogs that might attack their kids. It is not uncommon to keep replacing dogs that are returned for vicious behavior.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          This is why I roll my eyes are people who insist you should never get a dog for a breeder and everyone should always rescue.

          Well, that is a good theory, and I do have two rescues, but the breeders lie a lot less, and not everyone can take the chance that the rescue isn’t lying to them! There is a reason our younger rescue, we rescued as a puppy- we had 2 cats and a small dog, and didn’t want to risk injury to them, when we knew a puppy would be trained by us, and wouldn’t come with issues from being abused or neglected.

          1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            Yep. You just have to go to a good breeder. My ex-father and his wife got a puppy from a competition breeder after a 6-month search, and wound up driving all the way to Connecticut from Virginia to get him. The breeder was fantastic, laying out not just pedigrees but health records of those pedigrees, genetic tests, the whole nine yards. As much as anything could be guaranteed, it was good to get a family history of good health. Dog lived a long life, particularly for a large dog that got fed absolute garbage, and didn’t have the kind of hip problems that most large dogs develop.

          2. paul*

            It’s worse with non-traditional pets (snakes, mice, hamsters, rabbits).

            Like yeah don’t buy from PetCo or PetsMart, find a decent local breeder…but how many times have you even seen a hamster for adoptions?

            1. Jessesgirl72*

              Our Humane Society actually does often have rodents, rabbits, and the occasional bird.

              But don’t get me started on the lies they told me- about health, age, etc!

              I have had one bad local breeder (I know what to avoid in the future) and got a cocker spaniel with a really bad and dangerous temperament- which, we had gotten that recommendation for her from my mom’s groomer, who afterward said “Oh yeah, the mother was the same way!” She wasn’t our groomer much longer after that! But by and large, the odds are better, and you can normally avoid the puppy mills. The AKC tries to make it easy to find your local breed club and reputable breeders.

              And once this baby comes, I really can’t take a chance of being lied to by the rescue. I know how to handle and protect myself from aggressive dogs (even cocker spaniels with rage syndrome!) but kids do unexpected things!

          3. Jane Dough*

            They really do lie like rugs. My mom’s best friend adopted a puppy after her last daughter left for college, and they swore it was a terrier mix that would stay small. The dog grew and grew until it was hip-high on this woman, and she struggled to control it on walks. Her family was scared the dog would overpower her and cause a fall, and they encouraged her to return it.

            1. Jessesgirl72*

              By terrier mix, did they mean Staffordshire Bull Terrier?

              Honestly, the breeds most rescues decide is in a mix borders on the ridiculous. They said our small dog is Cavalier and Pekingese . Well, he might have a tiny bit of Cav in him, but my more educated guess is long haired Chihuahua and some kind of medium terrier. There is nothing about him at all to suggest Peke!

              But that rescue was at least too lazy to come do a home inspection, since we were adopting from 2 hours away. We sent a picture of the yard- and yes, they required a fenced yard and “preferred” a SAHP. The yard was fenced, but it wouldn’t have kept out anything at all, and we tied him out anyway, when he was out. And they didn’t lie to us outright about anything else- we asked if he was housebroken, and the response was that she didn’t know- she let all the dogs come and go and she didn’t know which were going inside and which were going outside. Turns out he was one of the ones going outside, primarily, but ?

          4. AfterBurner313*

            My rescue was from a breeder. She breeds/shows and does rescue work for her breed.

            I want a specific temperament and size. I don’t want to roll the dice that this dog will still stay small, and have it reaching 60 lbs in a year.

            Also, so many rescue dogs now have bully breeds in them, which is fine until you try to rent in my area. The exclusion list for breeds were I rent is ridiculous. If the leasing people think your Beagle cross is more bully breed than Beagle, you have to have a veterinarian write a letter stating there is next to no bully breed in the dog. What a PITA. (Bully breeds also include Boxers, Mastifs, Bulldogs, French Bull dogs, etc…not just Pit Bull type dogs)

            1. Jessesgirl72*

              It’s not coming from the landlords. We had this discussion last week when Mischa was asking advice about finding a rental with her Rottie. Except for Michigan (and one other State) that legislates against breed discrimination, it comes from the insurance companies. And the list is now really really long- and includes some big dogs like Great Danes who are not the least bit aggressive by nature! So State Farm and Farmer’s are the only two National insurers that don’t breed discriminate if you are insuring a house you will live in, but even they won’t extend that to a rental unit and a dog that belongs to your tenant. One of our last landlords, who was a jerk about a lot of things, actually complained about how much more restrictive their insurance company was making them be between when we’d moved in, and when they were looking for new tenants 3 years later.

              1. AfterBurner313*

                I live in Michigan, and my current lease still has a breed exclusion list. All giant breeds, German Shepards, Doberman, Rottweilers, any type of Mastif, Shar-peis, Chows, anything remotely looking like a “pit bull”, Boxers, Cocker Spaniels, Dalmatians, Bull Terriers, Bull Dogs, French Bull dogs, Boston Terriers….

                The last three are because morons are crossing pit breeds with them.

                I believe the complex can do this since the actual company is not based in Michigan.

                If the places can’t do an exclusion list, they do it by weight. That gets you the same exclusion list with less hassle.

            2. Optimistic Prime*

              Even if Boxers are considered bully breeds, I have yet to find an apartment complex that bans them. I have a Lab/Boxer mix and part of the reason I adopted her is that she’s far easier to get into apartments. I wanted to adopt a Staffordshire terrier mix (just because they’re so much harder to adopt out) but I’ll have to wait until I get a house for that.

          5. Perse's Mom*

            If only all breeders were made equal, though. Given the choice, if I was insistent on adopting a specific breed or cat or dog, I would go with a rescue – because purebred animals do end up in rescues through no fault of their own… and because so many breeders are terrible.

            (I’m sure you meant reputable breeders, but I am always careful to include that caveat, because some breeders do good things for the breed and others are why there are litters that have deformities or have to be delivered by c-section, and that’s leaving aside puppy mills entirely.)

        2. AfterBurner313*

          People who have problems getting rescues (my area)

          1. Have children under 10.

          2. Can’t meet the income requirement (amount figured out for the bottom basement routine vet care)

          3. Have other pets at home. My breed has a very strong prey drive, and Mr. Fluffy Bunny is going down if everyone isn’t supervised.

          4. Never owned a dog before. (Includes having a dog growing up, unless you can prove you actually helped out with care.)

          5. Know next to nothing about the breed.

          My breed is in the Toy Group, so no fenced in yard is not a deal breaker.

          I have seen some janky breed specific rescues. They post this dog is X crossed with Y. I want to write in on what planet? Your breed is small with a black rough coat, and this dog is 7 inches taller, smooth coat and brown. (neither supposed breed is brown or smooth coat or that big). The only thing that meets both breed is the pricked ears. Yikes…

          1. Jessesgirl72*

            I had to have a note from my mom saying that I’d had responsibility for caring and training for a Husky before we qualified to adopt our Rottie Mix. But they didn’t have any other hoops, AND their adoption fee was really low- it covered the puppy vaccinations and neutering at the local Vet School.

    5. Ella*

      I’ve had challenges with rescues since they seem uber choosy. We eventually just adopted from the SPCA, and we love our dogs. They stay in the house w/ no outdoor breaks from about 7am to 5:30 or 6. We let them free roam in the house, and they’re fine.

      Hang in there- the rescue process was stressful, so I’m so glad we found an awesome spca!

    6. Owly*

      I used to foster for a golden retriever rescue and some of the pick ups were such emergencies that I would leave school, pick up the dog, shove him in a crate at home, and immediately go back to school. The dogs were fine and I didn’t have to worry about them because I knew they weren’t peeing and pooping everywhere or chewing up my house. And one of my permanent dogs is currently crated at least eight hours a day with NO ill effects. Any breed can potentially be crated but your less neurotic and more biddable breeds (e.g. not terriers) will probably be easier to train.

      My best advice for getting a rescue is allow you and the dog time to bond. They are going to be confused and maybe act out, but don’t lay on the discipline to the maximum. Be firm but loving. It might take a while for the bond to form, but when it does, there will be no separating you!

    7. paul*

      That rescue is asinine.

      Some dogs are OK in one room, some aren’t, some don’t care. My dog would freak out; his buddy (my favorite dog ever, passed last year) wouldn’t have cared either way. I just let them potty before I leave for work and he’s fine till I get home; most days I can run home on lunch (I prefer to eat here anyhow) but if I don’t no big. We get too hot and since some jackass shot my older dog with a pellet gun while he was in our yard I haven’t been OK leaving them out unattended either.

    8. TL -*

      A lot of it depends on the breed of the dog, so you should look for more breed specific advice – Australian Shephards and Golden Retrievers have very different needs but you wouldn’t know it by looking at them. I wouldn’t crate my Aussies all day but most Goldens are way more laid back and wouldn’t mind at all.

    9. FlyingFergus*

      Crating is not cruel, assuming that the dog has been properly introduced to it and doesn’t have any traumatic past experiences with crating. A lot will depend on the dog you get – not so much the bed, exactly, but on the dog’s activity level, age, past.

      In general, the idea behind crating is that a crate functions as the dog’s den. It should be big enough for the dog to stand up comfortably, turn around, and lie down. (You don’t want to go in the other direction and get one too big, either, as a small dog would just see the far corner of the crate as a perfectly fine spot to pee if necessary.) If the crate is sized correctly, dogs will not want to make messes in their crate. So when introducing a crate to the dog, you want to give them yummy treats in there and not crate them longer than they can hold their bodily functions, because you gave to do everything you can to help them succeed, which means letting them out of the crate often enough so that they can pee.

      Do not let anyone (visitors, other pets) disturb the dog when he is in the crate – the crate is the dog’s safe space! I actually feed my dog in the crate and now he will go in it on his own during other times.

      For puppies, general rule of thumb is that they can hold their urine about one hour for every month of age. This is not exact though – puppies basically pee and poop pretty darned frequently, and more so after a meal. Senior dogs will also need to go more frequently, so just keep that in mind as you look for the right dog.

      And if you have an active, large dog rather than, say, a yorkie, it can be more “cruel” to keep the active dog crated for the same amount of time as the yorkie even if they are the same age. A tired dog is a happy dog, and a big, active dog that you’ve just taken running with you for miles is going to be a lot happier about being crated than one that only gets a 5 minute break in the middle of the day to do his business before going right back in the crate.

      So just spend some time thinking about the age, size, and activity level of the dog you want, and what fits best in your lifestyle. The hard part is that shelters and rescues may not necessarily have the chance to get to know a dog very well and might not know what kind of needs the dog has, so be prepared to make changes to your dog care plan as necessary, as you settle into life with your dog.

      It’s great that you’re trying to do prep and research, and that you’re willing to get a rescue dog. Enjoy it!

    10. AliceBD*

      Wow that is crazy! When I was a tween we adopted a dog from the SPCA and they just wanted to make sure you had a vet and had a plan for it (walk schedule, yard they could run in, etc.) Walked in without a dog and walked out with one. My mom didn’t have an office job, but worked freelance from home some, worked part-time in our town, and had lots of carpooling and driving and sitting at rehearsals and lessons and sports practices so she was gone all afternoon. We crate-trained him and he had no issue hanging out happily in his crate and would go into it by himself when it was bedtime and we weren’t going to bed on time. When he was middle-aged he got less fond of it but by that time he was happy to just nap in the front hall on the carpet waiting for you to get home. (When he got elderly he lost a lot of bladder control and would have accidents even if you were gone for just an hour, so my parents would put him in the laundry room with the tile floor with some old towels so he could have an accident and then move away from it to lay down.)

    11. Perse's Mom*

      The requirement for a stay at home human and the dismissal of a crate qualifies as out there internet nonsense. That just smacks of a rescue that either has enough of a wait list or enough funding that they can be excessively choosy about who gets their dogs.

      For training info – it’s a bit tricky. People argue about different methods of training and dog psychology and whatnot, so you can get polar opposite opinions on The Best (read: Only!) Way to Train Your Dog. I think mainly here, it’s structure and consistency. Dogs seem to do better with a set schedule – much like kids (I know some people don’t like the comparison, but it’s apt enough for my sister who raised two kids and multiple dogs together). And consistency is key for training in most things, especially in the beginning. Whether you do that with a clicker or words or hand gestures (+/- treats) or a combination of those is just dependent on what works for you and the dog.

      If you’re not particularly set on getting a specific breed, honestly – look at your local shelters as well as rescues. Some shelters can have a lot of adoption restrictions (more likely with no-kill shelters, or for specific breeds in any shelter), lots of shelters will have general guidelines – whether Rover gets along with other dogs or can’t live with cats, etc.

      Adoption councilors at shelters are usually very invested in getting their animals out of the building – it’s better for the dog and it means another kennel for another dog in need (this can be icky sometimes if a councilor is really pushy about a dog that you just don’t feel right about, but the vast majority of them want that forever home, not just A (possibly temporary) home).

    12. Optimistic Prime*

      This was something I struggled with when i was looking to adopt a dog, and made me upset. I really wanted to adopt a rescue; it was important to me not to buy a dog from a breeder or a pet shop (those weren’t even options for me). But so many rescues had quite frankly ridiculous requirements for dog owners. I lived in Manhattan and even a lot of the NYC rescues said they would only adopt out to people who had fenced in yards (which is just ludicrous), and there were several that required owners to have someone home for most of the day. I mean, I get it in the case of some special needs dogs, but your average dog is going to be just fine staying at home alone most of the day.

      I did eventually find a rescue that allowed me to adopt a 10-month-old puppy. Zelda is spoiled rotten by me and my husband. Most importantly, she gets walked 1.5 hours a day and taken to the dog park at least once and sometimes twice a week. She doesn’t get a midday walk – my husband works 7-3, so I walk her in the morning around 8 before I leave for work and he walks her when he gets home. She’s quite fine! I used to kennel her all day as well but now she’s confined to the two front rooms (kitchen and den, which are connected) with all her toys and her bed.

  9. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Move update: For a variety of reasons, we’ve decided to wait to put our current place on the market until we’ve moved into the new one in August. Which means I don’t need to deal with packing away our things in a pod, won’t have to deal with the cats during showings, and will generally make life much easier.

    A question: I want to have much of the new house painted before we move in and am trying to figure out how long it will take so that I know what day to book movers for. How long would you allow to have the following rooms painted (assume we’re hiring people to do it, not doing it ourselves): two living rooms, dining room, kitchen, den, four bedrooms, two bathrooms, two hallways, and a stairwell. Is this like a three-day job or more like a full week? (I’m now realizing I need to just call some painting companies and ask, as it’s going to depend on number of painters, but I’d still appreciate insights from anyone who’s done this.)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      After posting this, I’m realizing there’s no good answer and it’s highly variable; I’ll just have to call painters and find out.

        1. paul*

          and so very worth paying someone to do. Particularly if you’ve got to do any mudding or framing or crap like that. *shudder* I tried to do our kitchen when we remodeled and I need to pay someone to fix what I screwed up now…

          1. Artemesia*

            I did all our painting in our early days — whole houses, ceilings, woodwork etc It feels positively sybaritic to pay someone now to do it. And I remember how difficult it was to get straight lines and keep the paint more or less where it should do and then watch these pros do the borders free hand.

            When we moved into our condo we had it painted — but I am the world’s worst color picker and really really really hated the bedroom choice. Got our building engineer to paint it for me; he used to be a painter. He did it in about 3 hours free hand with this wonderful dark red color and it looks wonderful. It would have taken me all day and lots of tape and the lines would not be perfect.

        2. AfterBurner313*

          Three days TOPS around here. That is a professional company that does boat loads of residential work.

          It might (a huge maybe) take longer if you have those high vaulted ceilings and the painters have to put scaffolding up. Or ornate wood working around the windows or chair guards.

          I’d be shocked if it took a week.

      1. I Need A Nap*

        And add a few extra days to whatever they tell you. My experience with painters has been that it always takes 3-5 days longer than they estimate.

    2. CAA*

      I was going to say that you need to call and ask because it depends on how many people they assign to the job, but I see you got to that conclusion as well. For our place, which is smaller by one bedroom and one living room (and I’m thinking you might actually have a living room and family room rather than two living rooms?) but does have a 3 story stairwell with a spiral staircase, it took 4 days for 2 painters. Everything was a single color, including ceilings, so they could just use a sprayer once they’d put plastic over the floors, windows, fireplace, etc. If you have crown molding, white ceilings with colored walls, or anything particularly difficult, it could take longer.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I think one of those living rooms is called a great room but I can’t bring myself to call it that. Oh, and good point about crown moldings and so forth; there is a lot of decorative molding in there (which I love and am excited to have). I have reached out to a couple of painters for estimates now. I found one on Yelp with reviews saying they sent an 11-person crew and did a whole house in one day. I want that.

        1. Windchime*

          My sister had the entire inside of her house painted by a crew (family room, living room, four bedrooms, hall, stairs, etc). I think it took a couple of days. Most of the walls were school-bus yellow. She had the whole thing painted a very light, neutral color called “light khaki” or something. No crown molding.

          I always do my own interior painting but I think that if I was doing a whole house at once, hiring a crew is the way to go. They have those sprayer things.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          The great room. The names slay me. I am pretty sure the original owners called a room in my house “the library”. I can’t, like you are saying here. It’s a den. I just can’t pretend it’s a library.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Not sure if you mean the great room or the library. But if you mean the library you are right. In the 40s it was pretty cool. Now it’s average.

          1. CAA*

            We have a “library”. Really it’s a spare bedroom with a futon sofa, and guests sleep in there, but we call it the library because one wall is covered with bookshelves. This is the closest I’m ever going to get to the ultimate luxury of having a room that has nothing but my favorite books and comfortable places to sit and read, so I’m taking advantage of the situation and calling it a library. Everyone else can call it a bedroom if they want to, but I know what it really is. :-)

          2. This Daydreamer*

            Now I’m flashing back to the house I lived in as a teenager. Floor to ceiling bookshelves on every wall in our den. It was freaking heaven. I unappologetically refer to it as the library to this day.

            Now, the wallpaper in the bathroom I shared with my sister wasn’t so awesome. It was a huge bathroom (we could have put a large jacuzi in there and have room to spare) with wall paper that featured large red, orange, and yellow colored flowers that I think were meant to look kind of impressionist but really just looked like sloppy blotches of neon paint. The papering was done poorly, with mismatched seams and one peeling patch the size of a laptop. The ceiling had mirrored wallpaper. I begged for a lavender colored shower curtain to complete the horror but never got my way.

            But man I loved that library. Now my whole house has shelves and stacks of books.

          3. NPG*

            My favorite is when the family that has a “library” room and there’s like six books in it, alongside the 85″ TV, XBox, PS4, Bluray, etc.

            Last I checked, libraries had books in them. ;)

        3. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

          It depends on if they will have to primer everything first (even as an 11 person crew!), bring in scaffolding, all that god forsaken edging, etc. :) Good luck and enjoy the new casa!

      1. fposte*

        That is deeply hilarious. And I am generally not a fan of narrative gifs, but hers were exquisitely chosen and paced.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Mine was a cute little place with floor to ceiling windows. The clothes closet was a bank vault. It still had the big door and massive lock. You had to go down some stairs to get into the closet area. It had lots of drawers. I thought it was really cool.

        My husband was totally creeped out by it. I thought we could add lights and shim the door so it stayed open. The whole time I was explaining this my husband was saying, “NO WAY IN H3LL!”

        Yeah. Looking back on it, it would have been creepy on a dark and stormy night…..

  10. katamia*

    I mentioned yesterday that I got into grad school in the UK. Other than my university (which has already sent me info about dorms, but wow do I not want to live in a dorm, and who I’ll be contacting later this week anyway), anyone have any good resources for finding an apartment beyond Craigslist etc.?

    1. fposte*

      Might help to be more specific about the location, since rental practices may vary, and what country you’re coming from, since it might matter to landlords who check finances. FWIW, there can be some fairly decent dorms at some universities that would even give you your own private bathrooms, so I wouldn’t rule it out automatically.

      1. katamia*

        Oops, thought I’d said London in my post, but I guess I forgot. :) Coming from the US and I have good credit, although I’m not sure how much UK landlords would care about good US credit.

        It’s not necessarily about dorm quality (I don’t need that much in the way of amenities). It’s more about needing my own space at this point. I actually don’t mind sharing a bathroom much, but I can’t stand the thought of sharing a kitchen with someone.

    2. Annie Mouse*

      I think dorms in the UK are generally different to the ones in the US (if the tv depictions of them are true!) When I was in uni housing in the UK I had a room in a flat with a bathroom between 3 and my own washbasin. My friend had something similar but no washbasin. I don’t know of any unis over here that you share a room with someone else.
      As for private lets, if you’re happy to share with others then the uni may be able to help if they have a list of people looking for flatmates. Or search for either student or professional lettings and your city and look at what’s available from lettings agents in the city you’re moving to. Grad students are often counted as professionals as well as students as they’re seen as less of a risk to landlords.
      P.s. well done for getting in!

      1. katamia*


        Some of it’s an age thing–I’ll be 31 when I start, and while obviously most grad students aren’t going to be 18, I suspect that there’ll still be a pretty substantial age/maturity difference. I felt it when I was 27 sharing an apartment with a few 21-/22-year-olds, and it’ll probably be more pronounced now. I’m also just at the point now where I desperately feel like I need my own space (probably doesn’t help that I live with boundary-ignoring family now, lol).

        1. Annie Mouse*

          When I did my Masters, I ended up the second half of the year in a flat by myself, and loved it! You may find it harder in London, because rents are higher so I suspect you’ll be more likely to find rooms than flats themselves (but I’m the opposite end of the country in a LCOL area so don’t know too much about London rents). As an older grad, you’ll almost definitely be able to find more than just student lets.

        2. misspiggy*

          I’d reach out to the university accommodation office – and the accommodation people at the student union. They can often place you with people of a similar age group.

          Also, either the university or the student union should be able to give you all the advice you need on the specific rental situation around the college, how international students can get accommodation, which landlords are used to dealing with internationals (the credit stuff can be a pain), and which landlords are blacklisted.

          1. OxfordCommonSense*

            This, 1000 times. Also, your good US credit could mean nothing in the U.K. (Sorry!) My experience was the reverse (UK to US) and 18 years ago, but our good credit meant nothing at all. University accommodation was the only thing we could get. But it’s possible that they will have small flats/ apartments. I’ve never known any university accommodation where you had to share a bedroom, and you could well get your own bathroom too. Sadly kitchens are likely to be shared.

    3. Apollo Warbucks*

      You could try wwww.spareroom.co.uk Which is an add board for people with rooms to let.

      1. Key to the West*

        Came here to recommend Spareroom! It’s great.

        Gumtree is also good (though not as great as the above).

        Rightmove and Zoopla also have rooms/flats to rent. If you’re looking for a flat to yourself be careful with these two as a lot of people put up rooms in shared houses but label them as flats or studios which is really irritating when you’re searching for a place to yourself!

      1. katamia*

        Basically: probable age difference between me and the other residents, I desperately need my own space where I can make my own rules, kitchen-sharing hasn’t worked out well for my eating habits in the past (I have Issues around people watching me cook/clean). It’s not that I’m totally opposed to the idea–I’ll do it if it’s dorm or nothing. But I just really don’t want to live in one and need to at least look for alternatives before I settle for living in one. Thankfully the one that sounds the most tolerable is also the one that has the most space available right now.

        1. Elkay*

          The kitchen issue will be sticky, in my experience post-grads don’t tend to live with undergrads so I wouldn’t worry about age too much. Depending on the area finding an affordable one bed flat might be difficult.

    4. Ramona Flowers*

      Have you asked your uni if they have resources for finding private accommodation eg lists of reputable local agencies?

      If you need any information on the process or are unsure about something, try Shelter (they advise on all housing issues and have a web chat facility) or Citizens Advice.

      You can find accommodation on Gumtree but there’s a lot of spam and scams on there. Maybe try /r/London on Reddit for recommendations. The Rightmove website also has some houseshares on it.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        PS don’t live with people who aren’t students. That will mean the household loses its exemption from paying ‘council tax’ which is a local tax that pays for stuff like schools, police, etc.

        1. Thlayli*

          God yeah that’s such a ridiculous rule. If even one person works you have to pay council tax but if no one works it’s free. What is the purpose of this rule? It’s just to stop students living with workers as far as I can see. It’s moronic. Not to mention the crazy “jointly and severally liable” bs which means even if you pay your council tax and have proof you’ve paid your share in full you are still obligated to pay your housemates council tax if they don’t pay. Even if you’ve never even met them.

          Crazy system.

          1. Artemesia*

            This is the way rent works too. You aren’t liable for just your share but for all of it if you end up with a mooching roommate. When we co-signed the lease for our daughter in DC for her first place which was a 5 person house share, we had a separate document drafted that obligated us only to her share of the rent. Otherwise if the other 4 had split we would have been the deep pocket. She was still obligated for all of it (as were her roommates) but was not a tempting deep pocket.

            1. Thlayli*

              I lived in one place like that in U.K. With jointly and severally liable rent – absolute fricking nightmare. Never again. Luckily I haven’t lived anywhere else with that rule (other than when I was sharing with a partner). It’s not the standard everywhere.

          2. Ramona Flowers*

            It’s not about whether you work! You can be a student and work and be exempt from c tax. It’s just if you are a student or not.

      2. katamia*

        Yeah, I emailed them, but I’m not expecting a response before Monday, and because I applied/was accepted so late, I’m feeling the need to get started this weekend even though I’m probably not going to find anything in the next two days.

        Thanks, I’ll check those out.

    5. Tempest*

      The two major property sites in the UK that I’ve found are rightmove dot co dot uk and zoopla dot co dot uk. If you’re in London, a private flat, even if it’s a bedsit, is going to be north of a thousand pounds a month.

      When I moved from Canada to the UK my credit history got a reboot. They don’t talk to each other at all. So effectively in the UK, based on my experience, you’ll have no credit history. In terms of renting I guess that’ll be better than bad history but they may want you to have a guarantor which you’ll struggle to do if all your family is back in the states. I had no issues setting up a bank account here with no credit but I houseshared with a friend of my then boyfriend in the house he owned for the first couple years, so I had time to get a job and a credit card etc to build up credit before we formally rented on our own.

      I’ve only been to London once – we live in the north – but it was a fabulous city which was INCREDIBLY expensive. Coming from a small place in Canada I wasn’t prepared for it but I appreciate some places in the states will be just as pricey so YMMV. The North is much more affordable. I really like it here. I miss Canada, but I’ve been in the UK for over 9 years now and I’m in no rush to move home just yet. :) Good luck! :)

      1. katamia*


        I live/grew up in one of the most expensive areas of the US, so I’m used to things being absurdly expensive (although I think London is worse than where I am). Good to know about the credit history, though–was hoping mine would count for something, but alas, I guess not.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          I’m not familiar with renting in London, but I am familiar with grad-student/post-doc living.

          Unless you’ve got an extremely generous scholarship package, most graduate students in expensive cities can’t afford to live on their own in a standard apartment, even a very small one. So your options are dorms, sharing a place with one or more other people, or renting a room or suite from a home-owner. I don’t know what the basement suite market is like in London (either legality or availability) , but that might be the best option.

          One thing you might consider is going in dorms for the first bit – one semester if possible, or the first year. Then, when you know the area, and have gotten to know some people, you have a better chance of finding a good situation, or compatible roommates.

      2. Cath in Canada*

        The credit history thing was a major hassle for me when I moved from the UK to Canada, too. Why can’t they talk to each other?! I was only planning to stay a couple of years so I wasn’t too worried about not being able to get a credit card, but when I decided I was staying for good it became a major hassle. What I eventually did was set up a secured credit card, i.e. put $2,000 in a bank account I couldn’t access for a year, and got a Visa card (issued by the same bank) with a $2,000 limit, secured against that account. A year’s worth of using the card and paying the bills on time built up a good enough credit record to get a real credit card.

        Back to the UK question: I lived in a shared university flat for my first year of grad school (5 bedrooms, shared bathroom and kitchen) and there were dedicated flats in the same complex for mature students only – might be worth asking about, at least for your first few months?

    6. Iris Carpenter*

      Most UK Universities will have an accommodation office. Look for them on the university website. They probably have lists of flats and private landlords they have approved. Also there may be an American ex-pats club or something.

      If it is one of the central London institutions, check out the travel time from your accommodation to the University; the affordable accommodation may be in very undesirable areas, or indefeasibly far out.

      1. Jen Erik*

        Also might be worth looking at thestudentroom.co.uk and see if you can connect with someone who is currently attending your uni. I know that’s what my daughter did when she was starting as an undergrad, and she got very specific advice about which halls to apply for at her uni – I imagine other students could tell you what the postgrad accommodation is like, and also advise you about renting privately.
        I have to say though, that daughter is 26 now & working in London, and most of her friends in London seem to still be sharing houses – I think you would have to pay a fair bit to have a kitchen to yourself.

        And I’d second the recommendation for spareroom.co.uk – I’ve found accommodation for younger daughter that way, both in London & Edinburgh – although a lot of places set up viewings – both so you can see the place & so they can meet you, so it can be a little more tricky when you’re not able to get there in person.

    7. CanadianUniversityStudent*

      I just got back from studying in the UK, but I was in Birmingham. Check to see if there is an Exchange society Facebook page. There are usually a lot of students who post info about the places that they’ve stayed in the past year.

    8. Cristina in England*

      While the London housing market (rental and ownership) is normally ridiculous, there is a crisis right now that may mean you should just do dorms. Failing that, you may want to consider broader options (like taking on a long commute) if you are set on not sharing.

      The Grenfell tower fire has meant that all similar buildings have been inspected and several others have failed safety tests (34 said the news this morning). Camden have already evacuated another tower to carry out urgent fire safety works, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. The hundreds of families will have to do somewhere in the interim and there will no doubt be an effect on the already tight rental market.

    9. Tau*

      Someone’s already suggested rightmove, which is what I used to find all my recent flats. THAT SAID. Rightmove has properties from letting agencies, and my experience has been that letting agencies refuse to rent to students (including grad students) on a month-by-month basis unless they have a UK-based guarantor. I spent the entirety of my PhD paying six months’ rent up-front every time I renewed my lease because I was international and they wouldn’t accept my scholarship letter as proof that I had a steady income. If you don’t have the savings to do that, you may not be able to rent from a letting agency.

      Gumtree, I believe, has more flats from private landlords who are more likely to see sense on that front, although you’ll have to sift through crud to get there.

      As far as not living in dorms goes… honestly, if you’re near enough to London to be dealing with London prices, I’d seriously consider it anyway? I was in Cambridge for a year and the cost of renting privately was completely unmanageable. We had postdocs and lecturers living in university accommodation. I get where you’re coming from, but financially it may be very difficult. (I couldn’t afford to rent a flat on my own in London, and I’m getting paid way better than I was during the PhD!) Outside the general London-commute area, I’ve actually seen it go the other way, with dorms significantly more expensive than renting privately. In that case I’d definitely agree that you should try to find a place on your own.

      OH YEAH final tip: AFAIK the landlord is legally obligated to give you a copy of the energy performance certificate of a flat you’re considering if you ask, or at least tell you the rating. After an extremely unpleasant winter in Glasgow, I personally wouldn’t even look at anything below C. This will restrict your choices, but will make it less likely you end up in a flat where you have to close the curtains in the winter to try to deal with the draft from the window.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        This advice may be completely out of date but when I was renting in London the prices were far better south of the river eg North Greenwich.

    10. Bigglesworth*

      I have no advice about moving to London, but just wanted to say congratulations!!!! I’m moving to D.C. for law school (as in I pick up the moving truck today), but really looked at going to school over in the U.K. (specifically Edinburgh). Best of luck!

  11. WellRed*

    Started planning trip to New Orleans. There is sooo much I want to see and do. Any and all rips welcome. I’m so excited that I am going out to get ingredients to make gumbo!

    1. Emmie*

      Mother’s was wonderful. A creole / New Orleans restaurant. Portions were large enough to cover 3 meals.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I was there a few months ago! Make a reservation at Brennan’s, which is seriously delicious. We found Commander’s Palace a let-down.

      Wear comfortable shoes for walking. I had to stop and buy more comfortable shoes mid-way through our trip.

      1. ArtK*

        Sorry that you were let down by Commander’s. We’ve always had a great experience there. I’ll agree with Brennan’s. I ate there before Ralph took over and we had dinner there a year or so ago. The Steak Diane (prepared at the table) was amazing, as was the bread pudding.

        We love New Orleans cooking. Just had lunch yesterday at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen at Downtown Disney in Anaheim.

    3. ArtK*

      Food. Lots and lots of good food. Depending on your budget, try to have a meal at one of the old-school restaurants like Commander’s Palace, Antoines, Galatoires, or Brennan’s. Lots and lots of other great places, too! Cheap-ish meal: Gumbo Shop in the Quarter. Must do: Muffaletta at the Central Grocery. Beignets and cafe au lait at Cafe du Monde. For a huge breakfast, try Stanley on one corner of Jackson Square.

      Antique shopping on Royal Street. Some great art galleries as well. We’re big fans of Craig Tracey.

      Cocktails at the Carousel Bar at the Hotel Montoleone. Try the Vieux Carre. Nice bar menu too if you don’t want a huge meal.

      Lots and lots of museums. Some very nice, small ones, in the Quarter. The WWII museum is great as well.

      One trip we rented a place on Esplanade just off of the Quarter. Very convenient, especially since there were 4 of us and we didn’t want to eat out *every* meal. Also stayed in a B&B in the Garden District (walking distance to Commander’s, and a trolley ride to Canal Street and the Quarter.)

      We’ve done plantation tours and a trip on the Natchez. Both were fun, although we couldn’t eat the buffet on the Natchez because my wife is allergic to shellfish.

    4. Cheshire Cat*

      Seconding Antoine’s, Brennan’s, Galatoires, Cafe du Monde … and don’t forget K-Paul’s and The Court of Two Sisters.

      1. Paquita*

        I went to Court of Two Sisters and Cafe du Monde on my high school French Club trip.

    5. paul*

      Bourbon Street is tacky, sticky and full of half naked drunk people onc eit hits 6 or 7 pm. There’s a lot of awesome in the city but that area soured quickly for me.

      Bring comfortable shoes and expect to sweat bucketfulls. I went through 2-3 shirts a day.

      Bayou tours are awesome and if you like critters try to make it out to the Salvador Wildlife Management area. Bring DEET.

    6. Emmie*

      I also went to a medium. It wasn’t something I’d normally do, but when in NO…. I liked it :)

    7. Elizabeth H.*

      New Orleans museum of art
      Ogden museum of Southern art
      Bureaugard-Keyes house
      US Mint and Jazz Museum
      Bar – Mimi’s in the Marigny
      Feelings Café
      Audubon Park
      Cabildo/Presbytere – new Orleans and Louisiana history – if you don’t know much about the city I definitely recommend going here first as it will really give you a great background context of the culture if the place.
      Sucre (ice cream, dessert)
      If you like beer: Courtyard Brewery (my favorite), avenue pub, any of the other local breweries
      Walking around Magazine Street. Shopping, furniture, some antiques, really fun browsing. Lillys cafe, a great Vietnamese place is there (LGD). New Orleans has great Vietnamese food
      Coffee: French Truck, Mojo, HiVolt
      Surrey’s for brunch
      Seed – fancy vegan place
      Ace Hotel rooftop bar and pool (one of my favorite places in the city)

      1. Cajun Lady*

        If you’re into creepy and history, try Jean Laffite’s on Burbon. It’s suposably haunted which I have never experienced but it does have a cool creepy atmosphere. I like to go in the day time before the rowdy crowd shows up. Also the cemetery tours are really cool. We have a lot of history down here so have fun and Bienvenue!

    8. Christina*

      I just went there for the second time, and there is no city I’ve been to like it, especially for the music and food. Take in as much of both as you possibly can. Here are some more specific suggestions:

      – I’ve been to Central Grocery and wasn’t wowed by the muffeletta. Where I was blown away was Cochon in the warehouse district between the Lower Garden District and the French Quarter (the grocery/casual side for their muffeletta). They make *all* of the meats in house, and I wish I had brought a checked bag to take home all the jars of pickles and things. As it was, I brought their house-made Andouille on the plane home. Their higher end restaurant is also spectacular (get their charcuterie plate).
      – Check out the French Market. It’s fun to just wander and see all the vendors, and there’s one stand that sells oysters and does a giant crawfish boil that’s very tasty. And it’s crawfish season, so bonus!
      -Napoleon House is fun to go for a Pimm’s Cup and a bite to eat.
      -If you don’t want to deal with the line for Cafe du Monde, go to Cafe Beignet. I actually like it better.
      – There is actually good food and drinks in the French Quarter, if you know where to look. This does not include the god-awful red dye #40 travesty that is a hurricane from Pat O’Briens.
      -Killer Po’boys is delicious and unique.
      -Three Muses on Frenchman in the Faubourg-Marigny district is awesome, and has great live music. Which leads me to…
      -Music. It is *everywhere.* See as much of it as you possibly can. My best suggestion is to wander up and down Frenchman street in the afternoon and evening and just go from one show to the next (more often than not, there’s a show going on in the street, too). Most places don’t charge a cover, just ask that you buy a drink.
      -The Spotted Cat is a funky little place with history (have you watched the show Treme?).
      -Two groups I recommend seeking out are the Russell Welch Hot Quartet and the Shotgun Jazz Band.
      -The Marigny in general is a cool district just outside of the French quarter, so easy to walk to but not so full of gross drunks. Lots of cool shotgun houses if you go during the day and lots of good food day or night.

      Other general stuff:
      -Omfg it’s hot. And humid. I was there last month and ugh (and I love hot weather). Take advantage of shade and AC whenever and wherever. Drink lots of water (especially if you’re also drinking a lot).
      -The Garden District is beautiful, and Magazine street is fun (and more good food, and it’s more of a lived-in neighborhood, like Faubourg-Marigny).

      The link in my name goes to a blog post with photos from my first visit a few years ago if you want more details, since I think I’ve written enough of a novel here ;-)

    9. SnarkyLibrarian*

      I highly recommend New Orleans Secrets Tours! We absolutely loved their French Quarter History & Cocktail tour and learned a ton (and got pretty buzzed). I’m still sad that we didn’t have enough time to do their Magazine Street foodie tour. I was a little disappointed in all of the big old school restaurants, but had an amazing steak at Galatoire 33. Get the potatoes Brabant….So. Much. Butter. And try Meauxbar, their Gulf fish amandine with popcorn rice is to die for.

  12. Bored and Confused*

    I got a job! Even better, I found someone who’s willing to let me stay with them for a discounted price for a month or two while I get back on my feet. Now my only stress is learning a new job and having to eventually find a second job. Though there were hints from one of the managers training me that I might be able to get a decent amount of hours due to my open availability. Maybe there’s hope yet!!

  13. Julia Gulia*

    A question regarding the open threads: how did they end up with the work thread on Friday, and the general chat thread on Saturday? If I have a specific question regarding problems at work, I can’t complain about it while I’m actually there and traceable, and I certainly can’t take a PTO to write a comment. Innocuous chatting on a slow business day isn’t as big a deal, IMO.

    Just a bit of feedback, because it seems backwards to me, given the intent of the site.

    1. Temperance*

      Why not send an email to Alison, in that case? I did, and she gave me great advice. My question was posted.

    2. Junior Dev*

      I’ll often comment from my phone. I suppose I could be traced while using the office wifi but on a practical level I doubt anyone is going through the trouble.

      It is annoying when the open thread fills up quickly and my comment gets lost in the 500 before it, but I don’t know that there’s any way around it. I like my job enough that being bored enough to comment actively while at work doesn’t actually appeal to me.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Part of the answer is that more people are in non-work mode on weekends so it made logical sense. Also, there’s significantly more interest in the work open threads, so it makes sense to do them on a weekday, since there’s significantly less traffic here on weekends.

      You could always post from your phone if you want to keep it off your work network. But the open threads are really just a side thing, not intended to be the answer to everything for everyone. I started them because people kept asking for them, but they’re a supplement to the site, not its main focus.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Some people still read the work thread on Saturdays.
      Maybe post to the Saturday thread that you have a question on the work thread and people will go look?

  14. Lady Jay*

    Having a friend over today so I can meet her boyfriend (they’ve been dating long-distance for a few months & this will be my first chance to meet him.) Celebrating with a rhubarb tart. Pie crust has been chilling in the fridge overnight, I’m headed out in a few minutes to get ice cream, and I actually bought extra rhubarb today at the farmers’ market so I didn’t have to dilute the rhubarb with strawberries. :)

    1. Parenthetically*

      Good grief, I love rhubarb. One of the most gorgeously fragrant things on the planet.

    2. Artemesia*

      Love rhubarb. Just bought some at the farmer’s market near us today. I just make sauce and use it primarily as jam on toast although I also eat it on cottage cheese for lunch and on ice cream. Love rhubarb pie, have to make one soon; hate the dilution with strawberries also. In Europe, it is easy to get rhubarb yogurt and jams etc just in any supermarket; I have to really look for that here.

    3. Windchime*

      At first glance, I thought you said “rhubarb art” and I was very intrigued. “Tart” makes more sense, and sounds much more delicious.

    4. Hrovitnir*

      Yum! I haven’t actually had rhubarb tart, but I do love rhubarb. My parents used to grow it – I haven’t had any for years, now I think about it.

    5. Gaia*

      I used to love strawberry rhubarb pie….and then I had just rhubarb pie and OOOO MMMM GGGGG. I’ll never go back.

    6. Lady Jay*

      It turned out great! The recipe was a little off on the thickener, I think, so there was juice *everywhere* and it was messy – but also delicious! And the pie crust, despite getting solid as a rock in the fridge, warmed up nicely and also tasted delicious. It’s hard to go too wrong with rhubarb tart. :)

      And the boyfriend seemed pretty cool too. :)

      1. SharedDriveUser*

        You made your own rhubarb curd? O wow! I adore rhubarb, have never seen a recipe for curd? Will you share your recipe please? I think I hear scones calling my name… ;~)

    7. SusanPNW*

      I made some rhubarb curd yesterday. It was seriously delicious. I’ve been watching the Great British Bake-Off and was inspired to make a Swiss Roll. So I made one with the rhubarb curd and whipped cream. Yummy.

  15. all aboard the anon train*

    Question for ladies with larger chest sizes: do you have recommendation for good strapless bras? Or bras with adjustable straps? I have some cute dresses with sleeves that aren’t traditional – think, the styles where the straps are closer to your neck than your shoulder or ones that criss-cross in the back – and a normal bra looks awful with them.

    I’ve always avoided these types of dresses because I HAVE to wear a bra with them (I’m a D cup) and the strapless bras I’ve found in stores don’t really provide much support. But I’m tired of limiting my fashion choices and wondered if maybe any of you had better bra recommendations.

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        I suppose I could, though I’m assuming that’s pricey. But I definitely have a few dresses where I know a tailor wouldn’t touch it because it’d be too much of a hassle to do that.

        1. Anna*

          On the dress I had with the most strap problems, I sewed the bra myself. Put the bra on, then the dress. Pin the dress to the bra where they come closest together and where you can hide the stitches in the seams. That was on the side seams and the zipper lines for that dress for me. Take both off together then sew the bra in. Trim off the straps that show. It won’t be as sturdy as a custom tailored dress, but it will do if it isn’t a dress you wear every day.

    1. Cat*

      I don’t have specific recommendations but I would try Bravissimo. It’s a British store that sells really great bras for larger cups sizes, including very supportive strapless bras.

    2. Cruciatus*

      I just checked the brand on the one I’ve been using when I need to–Lilyette. I’m sure you can get them anywhere as I normally only shop at Penney’s, Kohl’s, Macy’s. It’s a bit heavy duty, but it feels fine enough to me when on. It’s probably a little tighter than a normal bra (has elastic sides) but, well, it’s got a job to do and I find it tolerable (you know it’s there, but it’s not painful). It’s similar to my normal bras, just strapless, though it actually came with straps you can place in a variety of ways depending on the dress. I’ve never done that as when I’ve needed it the dresses have been totally strapless. I danced the night away in my sister’s wedding and had zero issues.

    3. zaracat*

      I can’t recommend a specific brand, but as larger-busted woman I find that a long-line bra (more like a corset) offers more support if you need to go strapless. The scaffolding approach :)

    4. littlemoose*

      Freya bras are a little pricey but comfortable and supportive. I like the deco style myself. The strapless is comfortable, but most of the regular deco styles have straps on the hooks so they easily convert to racerback style. Freya bras come up to cup size G, but they are U.K.-sized, so check a conversion chart if need be. You can get them online at Bare Necessities, Fig Leaves, and Her Room; Amazon carries a few Freya styles but not nearly as much selection.

    5. anon24*

      32DD here. I get all my bras from Title Nine. They have wonderful sports bras and a few regular bras. They do have a few convertible bras for bigger women. They used to sell an awesome strapless bra but I don’t see it on their website anymore. They are a little pricy – expect to pay anywhere from $40 to $80 but I’ve been ordering from them for well over 5 years and I still haven’t worn out any of the bras yet.

    6. AVP*

      I have big boobs and just avoided strapless bras for years….until I bought one at Rigby & Peller. It was crazy expensive (~$150) but holy crap, I finally found a keeper that works and doesn’t hurt. I guess my advice is to spend as much as you can on a really well-made one at the fanciest bra-specialist store near you, or check them out online. In person is better if you can be personally fitted at a store that carries a really wide size range.

    7. Thlayli*

      It sounds like a halter neck bra might work? You can get bras that have a halter strap. I used to have a couple that you could convert from halter to 2-strap. Or you can get these nifty plastic clip things that pull your steps closer together in the back – but I don’t think that’s quite what you’re looking for either.

    8. Legalchef*

      I got a Fantasie strapless for my wedding years ago and since then I’ve worn basically one style of their bras that I love (until I got pregnant, since that style doesn’t come in the size I needed). I can’t wait until I don’t need to wear nursing bras and can go back to them.

      Wacoal makes a T-back bra that could work for what you need. I also got a convertible back bra by Natori that allows you to move the straps, so you can make them cross in the back.

    9. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I’m a Trip-D and have a strapless/convertible bra from Cacique/Lane Bryant, and it’s very good. I think it’s this one (or something close to it): http://www.lanebryant.com/lightweight-multi-way-strapless-bra/prd-342431#color/0000031353. For ones like this, that are convertible, you can also buy clear straps for them, which is a great option for a lot of tank tops where you want to have straps for that extra stability, but clear ones are at least not as obvious.

    10. AfterBurner313*

      Lane Bryant and Torrid have a good selection. Both brands actually support the girls than just eventually sliding down to your waist.

    11. all aboard the anon train*

      Thanks for all the recommendations. I’m going to peruse your suggestions and see what works best!

    12. Optimistic Prime*

      I’m a 30DDD, occasionally 30F depending on the brand. Basically nobody sells this size on the ground and thus I get all of my bras online, through barenecessities.com mostly although there are lots of sites that sell to D+ cup women. The one strapless bra I have is a Wacoal bra (it’s actually convertible). Great support – it’s a strapless bra that is actually built for a bigger-chested woman! You may also look at Freya, Fantasie, Panache, Simone Perele or Le Mystere – all other brands that have worked for me (and all brands that I have only been able to find online unless you go to a specialty bra retailer).

      Best place to get sized and find D+ bras in person that’s widely available is Nordstrom. They have lots of different sizes in stock, and if they don’t have your size in the store they will order the bra to your house for you for free.

  16. AdAgencyChick*

    Any words of advice or commiseration on navigating family drama would be much appreciated…

    My parents moved into a retirement home a couple of years ago. They’re in their 70s and in poor health, so it was definitely the right thing to do as far as the practical side of living — they were previously in a two-story house with the bedrooms and only full bath on the second floor, which led to some falls.

    But, my parents have a crappy marriage. They have for decades. (Dad thinks everything’s fine; Mom has too much Christian guilt to ask for a divorce.) They pretty much don’t talk to each other. This was an awkward and emotionally difficult situation when they were living in a good-sized house; it’s way worse now that they live in a two-bedroom apartment.

    My parents have made some friends at the retirement home, and here’s where things get worse. Ever since my dad joined some social committee, he’s been spending a lot of time with another lady who, according to my mom, has been putting the moves on my dad. I have no idea whether this lady is joking or serious (honestly, the idea that anyone would find my narcissistic dad attractive is impossible for me to wrap my head around). But my dad clearly enjoys that someone else actually enjoys spending time with him, and is insensitive enough to make “jokes” to my mom about running off with this woman after my mom is gone.

    This is really upsetting to my mom. She’s worked herself into a frenzy thinking that this woman will get her (mom’s) money after she dies. She says she doesn’t care if my dad wants to be with her (although she clearly doesn’t like when my dad stops behaving like a husband in public and leaves her alone to go hang out with his social committee friends), but she wants her money to go to my brother and me, not to this lady. My brother and I are both financially in a good place and we don’t need an inheritance (not that it would likely be large anyway), but knowing this does not make my mother any less angry at my dad.

    It’s been getting worse — she’s been calling my sister-in-law (brother’s wife) to come get her and let her spend the night at their house. (My brother doesn’t really feed drama, but SIL sure does.) I live farther away, which is why I guess I don’t get those phone calls myself, but then SIL texts me and tells me to call my mother.

    I seriously don’t know what to do here. When I call my mom if I ask her about what’s going on she ends up crying for a long time, but she won’t do very much to make the situation better. (SIL did mention they’re going to see their pastor for marriage counseling, but my hopes for that doing anything are not high.) I mostly want to stay out of it, but then I feel guilty for not supporting my mom.

    Like I said…advice or commiseration much appreciated.

    1. Hrovitnir*

      Commiseration only I’m afraid! It doesn’t sound like there’s much you can do, other than be neutrally supportive when you do see your mother. But that is an uncomfortable situation all round.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      No advice, but much commiseration. We have the same parents, only mine are in their 60s and still in their home. My dad is a narcissist, he’s had affairs, mom won’t leave him. . .she also won’t wear her wedding ring.

      I think staying out of it is the best thing you can do. They aren’t going to change, and they are unlikely to change their situation. It’s painful to watch, but as long as you are able to stay sane, that might be all you can do.

    3. neverjaunty*

      You knew I was going to say this: your mom should talk to an estates and trusts lawyer. The real problem is of course that your dad is being an ass, but your mom can’t control that – what she can control (to some degree) is your and your brother’s inheritance. If she’s displacing her hurt onto “what if that woman gets my money?!”, then this will at least allow her to feel like she has some measure of control over the situation.

      1. What's in a name*

        I agree on the lawyer but it probably won’t happen if they have to work together. But certainly anything that is your mother’s alone she should be able to leave to you and your brother. Just make sure that Dad is not the trustee.

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          That’s part of the problem. Their will currently says that whoever dies first, leaves everything to the other parent. My mom wants to change that to say that some or all of her money goes to my brother and me, but she doesn’t think she can do that without my dad’s consent since both of their names are on the current will. (Can she?)

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Not a lawyer. But I wonder if she can set up a trust that would be outside of the will. So in other words the whole $2.53 in their checking account would become your father’s (the current will would stand as written), but the $30K in trust would become yours and your bro’s.

            Years ago a friend set up a trust fund. She paid the taxes on the trust upfront. The way the fund was structured, her sibs would inherit and her nephews and nieces would inherit tax free. (Two generations, tax free.)

            This is some thing out beyond me, but I know there are various ways to handle such a problem.

          2. Thlayli*

            I am in no way a lawyer but I would be very surprised if there is a law in any democratic country that means someone can’t opt out of a joint will at a later date.

            My advice is for you to look into the law on inheritance in your jurisdiction and see what your mom can do about protecting your inheritance. It sounds like if you leave this to her it will never get done. I bet there is a way she can change her will to her satisfaction, which should at least relieve one source of her stress.

            As others have said it’s not the main source of stress but it’s one tangible thing you can do to support her and it will probably only take you a couple of hours if googling at most.

            Her changing the will might shake some sense into ur dad too – or it might not!

          3. Artemesia*

            Does she have separate money? It varies by state, but in many states all assets acquired during a marriage belong to both. The only things I have that are separate for me to will to my kids are my inheritance from my parents which I have kept separate. We are going to create a trust in order to protect our kids; I have seen addled old people marry and all their assets end up going to the children of the second wife on three separate occasions. I know my husband isn’t an idiot now — but who knows what he may be vulnerable to if he is a 90 year old widower. We are trying to figure out how to protect each others rights to our money, while protecting it for our kids eventually. Of course I want him to have the use of it during his lifetime — I just don’t want his next wife taking my kids’ money most of which is my retirement funds.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Per stirpes vs per capita.

              Per stirpes means by blood.
              Per capita means by head.

              With per stirpes only blood kin can inherit. Per capita is more open to all family members.

              Kind of controversial and maybe old-fashioned but people still use the terms in their wills. Not trying to start a longer discussion here, but it might be something you can google and give you some food for thought.

              1. Flea*

                No, that’s not what it means.

                It has nothing to do with that. It’s how shares are divided among people. It’s NOT about being blood relation.

                Can we please not give legal advice or even clarify if we are not a lawyer?

                As an actual lawyer who cleans up messes like this, you really aren’t helping.

          4. meg*

            Talk to a lawyer. She absolutely can opt out of a joint will at any time. The new will will just revoke any previous ones.

          5. Observer*

            Talk to a lawyer. I’m not a lawyer, so I couldn’t say anything definitely, but I’d be willing to be that there is something she can do about HER money – at least some of it. It certainly worth checking out. Worst case, she’s spent a few dollars.

            Also, encourage her to take really good care of her health. Women tend to outlive their husbands…

    4. Junior Dev*

      Ugh, your dad. I have a grandad who’s narcissistic in different ways (I don’t know of him waving any pseudo-affairs in his wife’s face but he is quite self-centered and unaware of how it affects others).

      Is it the case that you think your mom should divorce him but you don’t feel like she ever would? If that’s the case, it might be worth saying something to her, once, like “it sounds like you aren’t happy in this relationship. I’m not going to pressure you about this, but I’m afraid I don’t have any advice for you if you’re determined to stay with Dad.” Then next time she vents about him you can say something like, “that sounds rough. I think you know my opinion on your relationship with Dad, but if you’re going to choose to stay with him I think this sort of thing will probably keep happening. So how about that (subject change)?”

      Idk, maybe this is too direct for your relationship with your mom, but it’s based on other advice I’ve seen for people whose friends or relatives are in a relationship with a jerk.

    5. JamieS*

      I won’t touch the marriage drama but is your mom’s money her money or is it community property? If it’s hers either a will or a trust would probably solve the money issue. I’m not sure how that’d need to be set up if it’s community property though.

    6. Cheshire Cat*

      On the practical side, joining the chorus to suggest a visit to an attorney so your mom’s money goes to you and your brother.

      It’s hard to tell from your letter, but has your mom made her own friends in the new place? If not, encourage her to join activities that she’s interested in. If she’s sitting in her apartment all day brooding about your dad’s new friend, that will only make her feel worse.

      Also, has your mom been to her primary physician lately? Your mom might be feeling some grief over having to move, and her doctor could have resources to help with that.

    7. Jane Dough*

      I had a friend involved in a family business whose mom was very careful with her estate planning in case her husband remarried (she fought cancer while very young, twice). She specified what assets were considered part of the business (which the children inherited), and what assets were for the children specifically.

      It turned out to be a wise move, since the dad married a “trophy wife” that the kids hated. Mom’s assets were safe, despite 2nd wife’s games and manipulations.

      TLDR; get your mother to an estate attorney for her own peace of mind, not because you want her cash.

    8. Paula, with Two Kids*

      As someone who just divorced a narcissist, I highly recommend it. The process is painful, narcissists tend to drag things out for years.

      But it might be the peace of mind she needs for her last years.

      Anyways, the decision is, of course, your mom’s. But I would at least let her know how much you love and support her, and would love and support her whether she was married or single.

      And I totally get why she would want her assets to go at her disposal. Where I live, the spouse would get half your assets, and the other half would be divided among all of your children.

    9. Bespectacled elephant*

      Attorneys who specialize in elder law/probate handle this sort of thing all time. I strongly suggest you speak to one – it will at least help you know what her options are.

    10. Observer*

      Tel your mother to write a will. Seriously. Suggest some places she can leave the money to.

      The point here is that she feels stuck in the marriage, but by writing a will she at least has some agency in ONE thing – an thing that she seems to care about.

  17. AnotherAlison*

    My neighbor’s 19-year-old daughter is getting married at their house in August, and we were invited. If there was an RSVP card, it was thrown out. We don’t want to go. (My husband is a PITA about going to weddings for marriages that he objects to, and for various reasons, he thinks this one is objectionable.) Our neighbors aren’t close friends, but we’re definitely friendly, and I wouldn’t want to offend them.

    Since it’s a neighbor, I don’t want to make up a lie about having other plans or anything, and since there’s no RSVP card, I’m not sure how we let them know we’re not going. was thinking we could send a card/check in advance, and just write in the card something like, “Wish we could be there, hope you have a lovely wedding & marriage.” Completely skip a conversation with the parents about not attending.

    Would that work?

    1. Parenthetically*

      Your instincts are right IMO. And you DO have other plans, they are just “not going to this wedding.” I would send the card/check and say, “So sorry we can’t be there! Hope it’s a lovely day.”

    2. Artemesia*

      You don’t need a card to RSVP. Either call or send a note congratulating the bride and extending your regrets. An invitation needs an RSVP regardless of a card being provided or a request for RSVP.

      1. a Potterhead for life*

        Yes, this – but also send a reasonable gift (on the toaster oven level). Registries are super easy to find online.

    3. paul*

      Do you want to go? You mention your husband not wanting to but not if you do. If you both don’t want to go I’d handle it just like you said.

      If you do want to go and he doesn’t, say he can’t make it and go yourself maybe? I’m much less social than my wife and she does socially stuff without me semi-regularly (I go to some of them but she’d be out doing…social stuff…every weekend and EW).

    4. This Daydreamer*

      Or you could take this as the perfect opportunity for a road trip. Check out the local national or state park. Go to a museum. Go shopping. Just something to get you out of the neighborhood for the day.

    5. Optimistic Prime*

      You don’t need the RSVP card to RSVP – you can write it in the card yourself. “We send our regrets, and will not be able to attend Nikki’s wedding on 7/10/2018. Warm wishes for the future blah blah blah.” I agree that a phone call also works well, but make sure that you’re explicit about not coming – because if you’re not it just gives the parents an excuse to come talk to you about it in person (“So are we right in assuming that you can’t come to Nikki’s wedding?”). If you don’t know what the RSVP date is send it as early as possible.

      Even still…they’re your neighbors. I’m not sure you can avoid a conversation about it if they invite you, since they live right there and have presumably chatted to you about it before. And they’re getting married at their house, which is presumably close to yours.

  18. Hrovitnir*

    I am leaving Sweden in less than 2 weeks! I’m getting pretty sad about it. We had a summer dinner at my supervisor’s house, and she did a speech about enjoying having me here, which was really nice, and I’m going to lunch with my officemates on Tuesday. I’m going to a wildlife camp before going home via the US (which is slightly alarming, given I’m uncomfortable with customs at the best of times but I should be fine), and don’t get to NZ until 23rd July, but it’s so surreal I’m leaving where I live for good next week. O_O

      1. Hrovitnir*

        Thanks! I knew I’d be all full of mixed feelings when it came to leave, but it’s still weird.

        1. Emmie*

          I’ve only moved states – not countries. Mine was sad and nostalgic, but they were all good moves!

  19. Annie Mouse*

    I’m having an issue at the moment with motivation and wondered if anyone’s got any tips that might help. I’m perfectly able to be motivated at work and I can do pretty much anything they throw at me when I’m there. And I’m motivated if I’ve got plans to be sociable. But when I’m off, or when I’m in from work, my motivation disappears and I waste time. I know I do it, I hate that I do it and I hate that it means that I don’t get jobs done which will make life easier. Any tips on how to be more motivated at home please?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      It kind of depends on what you need to be motivated to do. Cleaning? That one’s easy: set a timer for 15 minutes, work on one room for those 15 minutes, take a break (or… have a glass of wine). Rinse and repeat (until you’re tipsy?). Yard work? Maybe put on an audiobook or a podcast and work for the duration? Also with breaks. Basically, it helps to break things into digestible chunks.

      1. fposte*

        Breaking it up is always good advice, though Annie M.’s problem may be more like mine–getting up from the couch for that first 15 minutes or to get out into the yard. I find what helps somewhat is reminding myself of what I *do* enjoy; I like it when I’m out feeling the breeze and smelling the flowers, and I like it when I look at my bookshelves and they make me happy. Then when I do do something like this, I praise myself like I was a puppy in training and note how pleased I am to have done this.

        Let’s reframe the problem a little, too; it’s not that you waste time, it’s that you get tired and drained from obligatory life stuff and appreciate some lowering of demands. That’s not a moral weakness, just an understandable response.

        1. Annie Mouse*

          Yes, fposte has me exactly right, I tend to be able to get things done if I start them but starting in the first place is the issue! I like the puppy in training thing, it’s very true. Thank you both.

      2. Parenthetically*

        I agree with this. The hard part is just starting! When I used to run, I’d trick myself into it — walk in the door and change immediately into my running gear. It was the biggest hurdle, and 99 times out of 100 I would just go for the darn run.

        I got my house to a state of always-pretty-clean with a similar method to the Pomodoro-esque Unf@ck Your Habitat method (20 minutes of work and 10 minutes of rest) — I’d set a timer for how long I thought a job would take, then do the job and see how far off my estimate was. I’d put things off because in my head they took AGES, and then it would turn out I would be off by a factor of five or even ten! It really lowered the entry bar for just getting going on, say, taking the trash out (70-140 seconds) or cleaning the kitchen after dinner (18 minutes tops).

        I’ve also found it helpful to say, “I’m not going to finish it, I’m just going to get off the couch and start (washing dishes, cleaning out the closet, scrubbing the bathroom).” But then once I do step one, the mental energy required to do step two is usually very small by comparison.

        To me, all this stuff is really about removing barriers to doing stuff. My lazybrain is tricksy and needs to be outsmarted sometimes.

        1. fposte*

          Yes to so much of this, especially the removing barriers. I found it helped when I put my going-for-a-walk clothes right next to the door, for instance, so that I could come home and turn around before I got near that voracious couch.

        2. Annie Mouse*

          I’ve tried UfYH and I like it, once I get going. But I like your idea of timing how long I think it’ll take and seeing how right I am. And the ‘ I’ll just do a bit’ mentality, I’ll give that a go tomorrow. Thank you.

          1. Parenthetically*

            I tell people I shamed myself into not putting tasks off! :’D It’s kind of true! Like… oh, I could have the smelly trash out and my hands washed and be back watching my show in under three minutes? Yeah ok, I can do that, that seems non-insurmountable.

            1. fposte*

              Honestly, I miss commercial breaks; they were perfect for this. Just annoying enough to make me get up, short enough so that it didn’t create an expectation burden.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      You might want to have a look at Gretchen Rubin’s website and her posts on the ‘four tendencies’ – it sounds like you might be what she calls an obliger and have trouble doing things for internal motovation?

      1. Annie Mouse*

        I’ve done the quiz and you’re right, I’m an obliger. I’ll do a bit more digging into that website, thank you.

      2. Bespectacled elephant*

        Her book really helped me. A friend and I developed weekly goals for 6 weeks and we do weekly check-ins. I’m an obliger too. I may not hit all my 6 week goals but am definitely on the path now. I’m now trying to figure out a good morning routine and stick to it.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Different things have helped me at different times.

      For quite a while I used a cut off time. Let’s say it was 9:30 pm. After 9:30, I did not allow myself to do any more work. I could sit and read, play a computer game or whatever, but no work. Then I went to bed around 10-10:30.
      Maybe the exact times don’t fit for you, but the overall idea was my day HAD to end at some point. Whatever was not done, would wait. I found myself moving right along, I went from one task to another because I knew I would quit at a certain time no matter what.

      I also gave certain chores an assigned day of the week. Honestly, there were some weeks where the bathroom cleaning got five minutes of my time, then other weeks I did a better job.

      I went through spells where I streamlined tasks. I would look at various tasks and see what I could do to make it involve less steps and less energy.

      At another point, I divided my stuff into sitting work and standing work. I alternated between the two. Currently, I have my work divided into brainless work and decision making work. I do some of the brainless stuff on days when I know my job is going to be demanding of me. I do decision-making work when I am not having brain drain from my job.

      Do consider getting more rest. You know we can analyze and analyze and sometimes the answer is just get more sleep. I am amazed at how differently I feel when I get regular sleep for a few weeks.

    4. mondegreen*

      For general housework, I turn on a playlist of guilty-pleasure music (usually 80s pop) and start by tidying the apartment for the length of at least three songs. At that point, I’m out of couch potato mode. If instead I need to sit down and do paperwork but feel antsy, I work out first.

      If it’s in your budget, outsourcing one or two of your least-favorite tasks could leave you with more motivation for others. (For example, sending clothes to a laundry wash-and-fold place in the summer, when the laundromat is unpleasantly hot. Or using frozen bags of mixed veggies instead of peeling and chopping everything yourself.) Your time is worth something, too!

      Bullet journaling wasn’t very effective for me because designing pretty pages turned into a time sink and I couldn’t make mine as nice as those on Instagram. However, it’s helped several people I know accomplish recurring chores.

    5. Thlayli*

      I had a system a few years ago where I set myself a target of 1 hour “life improvement” every day. There were various things that could fit in that category – exercise, practising guitar, going on dates, working on developing my career (as opposed to just doing my job), lots of stuff. If I did less than an hour I would carry it over. So usually by the weekend I would “owe” maybe 3-4 hours life improvement. So it got me off my butt to do stuff at the weekend instead of just watching tv.

      It sounds ridiculous but within 3 years of starting this i had moved up 4 grades in tae Kwon do, transferred to a better position in same company, met my future husband, got my chartership and was able to play about 6 songs really well on guitar.

      It was one of the most powerful things I ever did for my quality of life and as soon as my kids start reliably sleeping through the night I intend to start doing it again.

      I also find a bullet journal habit tracker is useful for motivating me to do little stuff now I don’t have a full hour a day to spare.

    6. Trixie*

      Rather than spending a straight block of time, I’ll often start out by take time during commercial breaks to get things started. returning things to their general areas, light straightening up, etc. It adds up fast.

    7. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I hate cleaning (and have a much higher threshold for the level of grossness I’m willing to live in than my partner), but we found a new trick that I think might work out… I also hate cooking, so I’m often wanting to order in, which gets expensive. The new rule is, if we order delivery, we have to clean from the time we order to the time the food arrives, which is usually in the 45 minute vicinity. We order food a bit less because some days I simply do _not_ want to clean, but it does mean once or so a week I’m dedicating time to cleaning that I wasn’t before.

  20. La*

    Anybody have experience on getting central ac installed in an old home that doesn’t have ducts?

    It sounds like there are options like traditional ducts, ductless, and mini ducts/high velocity.

    Also- anybody get a dormer on a cape code style house?

    Any personal stories are appreciated!

    1. fposte*

      Friends had this done a few years back; they just had ducts installed. They’re glad they did it but they weren’t thrilled with the HVAC people; I would definitely shop around.

      I have a Cape Cod with a shed dormer along one side; it’s the best part because of the nice nooks and crannies.

      (As you’re probably aware, even with central AC the upper level in a Cape Cod is likely to be hotter than the first floor.)

        1. fposte*

          I don’t remember all the details, but there were definitely some crude cuts made where they weren’t necessary; convenience of the installer seemed to eclipse the homeowners’ desires overall.

    2. Damn it, Hardison!*

      No advice ’cause I have the same question! I have a 1 3/4 story cape with no attic or crawl space. I’d love to put in air conditioning. I’m not crazy about the ductless mini-splits because the wall units are an eyesore. I’ve heard that the high velocity have a white noise sound that might be irritating to some. Plus, both are a lot more expensive than if you were tying in to existing ductwork. The This Old House magazine for this month had an article on central air that covers both mini-splits and high velocity.

      1. La*

        Yeah I ductless mini split ones are out for us due to the wall eyesore. I am curious what other people think.

        1. Gala apple*

          I have a minispilt in my apartment, and I really don’t notice it. It’s right in the living room but higher up on the wall.

    3. periwinkle*

      Mini-splits aren’t attractive as is, but if you don’t want the expense of installing ducts, you can disguise the units.

      Our house isn’t that old – built in 1982 – but is on a slab foundation and lacks central heating/cooling. After some research we’ve decided on the mini splits, especially after talking with colleagues who’ve gone that route. Since I don’t want to look at the units, a little Googling turns up some creative solutions! Take a look at (www)protradecraft(dot)com/9-ways-hide-minisplit for some ideas. LG even makes a unit with a built-in frame so you can hang artwork on the front to disguise it!

      Search Pinterest and Houzz for more ideas. No need to reject a cost-effective solution automatically if there are ways around the ugly factor.

    4. a Potterhead for life*

      We looked into this and decided to purchase two ductless heat pumps (heats and cools) instead. Best purchase ever.

  21. Junior Dev*

    I’m going to visit my parents for the first time in over a year. They’ve come to visit me several times in my city but it’s been hard for me to spend time in my childhood home due to traumatic things that happened when I was growing up. I am driving my own car even though it would probably be more convenient to take the train because I want the ability to go home early if it becomes too much for me.

    Anyone else have a complicated relationship with their family but is trying to stay close to them in some way? I don’t really need advice, I’m mostly just venting and looking for people who would understand.

    1. Anon for this*

      I can relate to complicated relationships. I have one with my mother. We’re not close, never have been, and never will be. I do my daughterly obligations (help them out financially here and there, with their paperwork, and other things) but I don’t particularly like her. We live in adjoining cities but I only see them once or twice a month and during major holidays. It is what it is.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      Can you take some reminders of your current life and make a plan of what you will do for self-care if you find it hard? Just little things like take a breather, but it could help to be prepared.

    3. Artemesia*

      do you have old friends there? Are there things you can schedule yourself to do there so you get some short breaks. I’d make up an old acquaintance and go to a movie rather than spend 24/7 with the folks in this situation. My trips back home got a lot better when I stopped letting my mother guilt me into being there 24/7 when I visited. So I would spend time with other people, take my kids places etc — sometimes the events were with the parents and sometimes not.

      Have 3 things you can do to get away for breaks even if it is knowing where the best coffee shop with wifi is and going there.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      With some family members I have had to promise myself a treat once the visit is over. Other family members are a treat to visit with so no problem there. If I knew I was heading toward something later that would be of value to me, it seemed to help. In some cases there were interesting stores along the way and I would pick up a unique item that I could not easily get elsewhere.

    5. Anon for this one*

      My sister won’t spend the night in the parental home. She drives home (about 90 minutes) or stays in a local hotel. This is not the childhood home, but one purchased after the one in which her abuse took place was sold. She just can’t sleep in the same house as our mother, although their relationship is basically ok now. Can you do a hotel?

  22. Annoy anon*

    Not sure if this is too work related for weekend thread, but it’s more about relationships I think?

    Looking for advice/support around how to support a partner who was let go rather unexpectantly. Partner is strong silent type. Not sure how to help.

    Also I need to process it and how it impacts our relationship but … don’t know how without making partner feel worse.

    1. Annoy anon*

      Ugh my user name auto-corrected from “anonny anon” to “annoy anon” – I’m not annoyed!! I’m sad and trying to be helpful!!!

    2. NicoleK*

      My DH sometimes keep things to himself. The best approach that has worked for me is to just let him know that I’m here if he needs to talk. As for your processing, I’d suggest journaling or processing with friends who are able to remain objective and not take sides.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      My friend lost his job suddenly. His wife found him at home and knew right away something was wrong. He told me later, “She said, ‘Whatever is wrong is okay. We will get through this.'”
      Her gentle determination had him falling in love with her all over again, I could see it on his face as he told me.
      I think acknowledge that it is difficult but also say that the two of you will find a path through it and you guys will be okay.

      1. a Potterhead for life*

        omg, this ^^ Not So New Reader

        I’ve gone through this and my wife was amazing. I do not like to talk about things, especially feelings. The termination was totally out of the blue because I had a brand new boss start and he wanted to make room for someone he wanted to bring on board. I drove home in a daze and just sat in the car in the driveway. When my wife came home she got into my car and asked what was wrong and I could barely speak, but told her I was let go. Without any pause whatsoever she said basically what Not So New Reader wrote here. I cried and cried from the shock of it and from her being so understanding. We never talked about it again, but having her faith and support in me helped me to go into automatic pilot and start applying for jobs immediately and was lucky enough to get an even better job 3 weeks later. Looking back I think having her support also helped me to be clear-headed during interviews because without her and her silent, but resolute support, I would almost certainly succumbed to depression or come across as extremely bitter and angry in the interviews.

        Basically my advice is (after offering a supportive comment) to be available if partner decides to talk, but otherwise leave it alone. do not try to “help”

        1. Annoy anon*

          Thank you for posting. I really appreciate your insight. It’s so hard for me to imagine partner not wanting to talk about it at all so this helps me understand.

    1. Charlotte*

      I watched Phantom of the Opera for the first time last week, and that title theme has been stuck in my head ever since. (SING FOR ME!!!)

      1. SaraV*

        Ha! I had “Masquerade” pop up while I played my Spotify list yesterday, and the track goes all the way through to the Phantom showing up and delivering “Don Juan Triumphant”. So for about an hour and a half, I would have “Your chains are still mine/You will sing for ME!!!” blast into my brain.

    2. Dr. Vanessa Poseidon*

      Yay! I went at the beginning of June and it was so great. Glad you enjoyed it!

  23. Loopy*

    So the in the past two weeks this thread has given great advice! My hair is looking better and I’m loving some of the healthy snack ideas!!

    So next on the self improvement agenda: exercise! I start strong and then just fall off my routine :( any tips for staying on track? Rewards systems? Apps? I’m just trying to get on a home stationary bike 3-4 x a week.

    1. neverjaunty*

      I just picked up Fitplan, on the hopes that being nagged by my phone will lead to improvement. :/

      1. Loopy*

        I went that route recently! I tried getting an app that yelled at me to drink water but it only took me three days to get great at ignoring it :(

    2. AnotherAlison*

      Congrats on your progress! The best exercise motivation I have is real people. My bootcamp instructor emails me if I haven’t been there in a while!

      The second best I have found is a goal activity. For me, pain is better than a reward. If you sign up to walk a 5k or something and make yourself do it no matter what, you won’t want to skip exercise if you know you’ll have to suck wind and do it out of shape.

      1. Loopy*

        I think accountability with a person would work great! Alas a trainer isn’t in my budget right now :(

    3. Shayland*

      I like to exercise before eating breakfast and having my morning cup of tea. That way I have what feels like a reward, and it just makes savoring the meal so much more satisfying.

      Also, do you like biking? I hate it. My personal exercise is a two mile walk every morning and about thirty minutes of physical therapy and core strengthening exercises. Liking how you exercise is important.

      1. Loopy*

        I like that it’s in my house. I don’t live close to a gym I like and I know I’ll never go if I join. I don’t know if that’s enough? I mean it’s also easier tossup because at least once you’re in the gym, well, what else can you do but exercise?

        I’m usually at my desk at 6:45 AM every morning so sadly I am not willing to get up any earlier to exercise!

        1. Shayland*

          Holy crap! 6:45 is crazy.

          I forgot where I read it, but eating a small meal after exercise is good for you, so you could still use that as a motivation.

          I think turning exercise into a habit is what’s important, and generally do things to queue your brain into the fact that it’s work out time (like listen to the same music every time you work out) so you’ll be more likely to do it.

          1. Loopy*

            I think the habit thing is what I need. I’m a creature of routine and hate deviating. While that works great once I get something ingrained into my routine, it makes it hard to integrate something into my routine!

        2. ValaMalDoran*

          Look into weighted fitness hula hoops. Easy to do at home, and great for strengthening core muscles.

          1. Loopy*

            I like the idea. But I’m honestly not sure if my dog could be in the same room with me hula hooping! I’ll definitely look into it though.

          2. Saturnalia*

            Seconding this. Days when I just cannot even and know that I must somehow anyway, those are hula hoop days.

    4. Zathras*

      This worked for me at one point with running – if you like listening to podcasts or audiobooks, save your favorite ones for exercise. Make a rule that you only get to listen to those while you are exercising, no other time.

      1. Lore*

        Yes! I learned about Netflix downloading shortly after joining the gym and I have certain shows I’m only allowed to watch while exercising. (Though I need to add some more to the list as I’m running out of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and about halfway through Crazy Ex Girlfriend.

        1. Parenthetically*

          Brooklyn 99! Parks and Rec! Master of None! 30 Rock! All similarly chipper, fun comedies.

          1. Lore*

            Yes! I think I’ve seen all of Parks and Rec and I can only take Master of None in small doses but 30 Rock is definitely on the list. I should check out Brooklyn 99 too. Weeds is also available for download. Ideally I want something 35-45 minutes which tends to exclude cable/Netflix dramas. (And the wifi at my gym isn’t good enough to stream so it’s got to be downloadable.)

      2. Loopy*

        Ooooh so I tried this with Orange is the New Black. It didn’t work because I realized I really need upbeat fast music to get me to go anything other than suuuuuper slow, haha. I tend to be paying more attention to the show and at the end realize I’ve been basically moseying along while watching haha.

        1. Saturnalia*

          I wonder if you can build that into your routine/reward system? Finding and listening to new upbeat music?

    5. paul*

      have you tried other forms of exercise? People like different things. For me, hiking and weights are awesome. Maybe you’ll like HIIT on a treadmill. Or Crossfit. Or w/e. Experiment a bit.

      1. Hrovitnir*

        Oh yes. May not apply in this specific situation, but I’m sure the reason a lot of people who don’t like exercise is because they think they have to do a particular type of exercise.

      2. Loopy*

        So this IS great advice. My love is Zumba but the place near me charges such INSANE prices. I mean there’s no cheap way of doing it and the other Zumba offerings are too far to get to the class times. My boyfriend bought me the home Zumba DVDs and they just didn’t do it for me. I loved the classes though!

        Now I generally use the same type of upbeat dance music and that helps me enjoy whatever cardio I’m doing much, much more!

    6. Junior Dev*

      Can you watch TV while biking? I don’t have internet currently but when I did I would have Netflix shows I would watch while cleaning. 1 episode=1 workout.

      1. Loopy*

        I go way too slow unless I’ve got the exact right set of tunes! I’m debating trying again though because I did like using that system, I just wouldn’t pay enough attention to my pace while watching.

    7. Amadeo*

      So next on the self improvement agenda: exercise! I start strong and then just fall off my routine :( any tips for staying on track? Rewards systems? Apps? I’m just trying to get on a home stationary bike 3-4 x a week.

      LOL, a personal trainer that texts you and asks you how your exercise is going through the week, then quizzes you on it when you meet up with them that week. If you can afford it of course, but its definitely a source of accountability that’s just as motivating a the martial arts school Grand Master giving you the beady eye and asking you why you can’t do that kick, haven’t you practiced?

      1. Loopy*

        I would love this so much if it were in my budget! I always did well in school because I wanted to impress my teachers, haha.

    8. AliceBD*

      I have certain books on my Kindle I am only allowed to read while exercising (in my case, on the elliptical). The Kindle is key because I just have to tap it to turn the page and I can make the font size larger; I wouldn’t be able to coordinate reading a regular book or magazine. If I want to keep reading it I have to be exercising, which is enough motivation for me.

      1. Loopy*

        Hmm I don’t have a kindle and have tried to book thing (like you said it doesn’t work so well). But I’m a HUGE reader (1-2 books per week) and this might be something that works. I just hate paying for ebooks (no offense) as opposed to owning paper copies.

        Can you get library books on a kindle/ereader?

        1. Jay*

          I imagine it depends on the library system, but my city’s library has a fantastic e-book collection. They use OverDrive.

    9. This Daydreamer*

      I just found out that my key is access to a pool. I thought I spent about half an hour swimming but it was over two hours and I can’t wait to get back. I think if you find a form of exercise you love you’re golden.

      1. Loopy*

        I’ve always though I’d like swimming! Alas, no pool near me (or reasonable Zumba) maybe I should keep experimenting though.

        1. This Daydreamer*

          I’m lucky. My subdivision has a small outdoor pool that’s open Memorial Day to Labor Day and we have a new YMCA opening next week with two (!) indoor pools.

    10. Miss Anne Thrope*

      This isn’t useful, but low self esteem. I hate going to the gym and never want to, but drag my ass to the gym 4-5 times a week because I tell myself I’m lazy and fat if I don’t

    11. Perse's Mom*

      I guess it depends on your goal. If your first and foremost concern is just getting into a routine, then does it matter if you mosey along watching OitNB vs going at a faster pace? Maybe it’ll be easier for you to change the pace once you’ve established the routine?

      Or… prep a fast-paced music playlist. Start an episode of whatever you’re watching for a warm-up. After the intro, pause the show, play the first song. Pause the playlist, mosey through the next scene or two of the show. Go Playlist – scene – playlist – scene. It’ll take longer, but it will get your heart going a little more with the bursts of activity, you may feel more satisfied/accomplished about it, and it’s still more time on the bike either way.

    12. NDR*

      Don’t know if you are still checking. What has helped me was getting a cheap mini trampoline to jog/bounce on while I watch TV. I try to kick up the intensity as high as I can during commercial breaks for some interval benefits. I rotate that with the stationary bike for variety in my convenient, at home exercise.

  24. Mallows*

    How do you motivate yourself to do something you don’t want to do if you just more or less do what you want the rest of the time anyway? Like, I can’t say “If I work out 5x this week, I’ll buy myself XYZ” because I rarely *don’t* buy what I want, because the combo of having inexpensive tastes, no dependents, and a decent income means I don’t w0rry much about money. I am single and childfree so my time is my own outside of work (which has been insane lately), and thus I get plenty of “me-time”. I can’t take time off work right now because I’m covering a mat leave – I am reaching burnout there. What I need is an injection of willpower. Anyone else in a similar boat?

    1. fposte*

      That never worked for me even when I didn’t have the money–I’d just buy the thing upfront and swear I’d do what I “owed” later.

      There’s a thread above that might be relevant, but what kind of things aren’t you doing? Do you know why you’re not doing them, and do you know why you want to do them? I sometimes find it helpful to talk through both of these with myself.

      1. Mallows*

        There are some good tips above, thanks. And maybe you’re right – maybe thinking about it a little harder will help motivate me OR push me in more productive directions! I do tend to get in ruts.

    2. Loopy*

      Ah this is me. See above. I think I used to have more discipline/willpower and now I definitely have gotten very lax with being my own taskmaster! No advice but I’m definitely camping out in this thread.

      1. Hrovitnir*

        Right? There was a time in which “just doing” things was easier. After sinking waaaaay down into doing absolutely nothing and sort of surviving, realearning motivation is really hard. I can still do it at work, but it pretty much needs to be an outside obligation.

        I guess that’s the answer for me, and we’ll see how that goes for expanding the things I do – book something where your sense of obligation will outweigh your drive to avoid that thing/everything. :P

        That sense of momentum, where you don’t let yourself think and just kind of fall out the door because everything was prepared and you had no time to psych yourself out, as mentioned in the other thread, really is key. But then you have to motivate yourself to keep on top of the pre-preparing. Haha.

      2. Mallows*

        Yep, your thread above rings bells! And while there are a few things I need to push myself to do, exercise is the top one. It’s easy-ish on the weekends because I just moved to Colorado and I love to hike, and I just bought a bike…but during the week I need a big fat push. A women’s bicycling group has been recommended to me – I may join that. Maybe that’s an idea for you – something outdoors with others who will expect your presence?

        1. Loopy*

          I would love it normally but I’m in South Carolina and I can barely endure walking the dog in this heat! Maybe I’ll think about that in the winter!

      3. Optimistic Prime*

        Me too. I used to be a much more disciplined person and recently I’m just…not. LOL.

    3. Jane Dough*

      What about buying the motivating thing, then giving it to someone else for safekeeping? Don’t let the person give it back until you’ve completed the task. Maybe re-buying the same thing will feel silly and wasteful enough to you that you will keep yourself in line.

    4. Junior Dev*

      Self- rewarding has never worked for me; I have to have a routine and hold myself accountable to it. I use Habitica right now. I have certain days that are my workout days and I set things up to do them to the extent possible–get my gym bag together the night before, tell anyone I’m making social plans with that I’ll be free after I go to the gym. It helps that I enjoy exercise, I just forget to do the planning necessary to make it happen if I don’t have a system in place.

      Do you like the workouts you do? If you dread them it may be time to find a different thing. Walks outside if you like the outdoors, yoga class if you like the social element. You can also do a more involved activity like rock climbing on weekends and focus your workouts during the week on building the muscles for that–that’s how I approach roller derby right now.

      1. Parenthetically*

        I’m definitely the same about self-rewards, but I’ve never thought about it quite that way until you said it. To me, a big part of the motivation is the pride and satisfaction of having the thing DONE, rather than a separate and in my mind unrelated reward.

      2. Mallows*

        I have tried Habitica before but fell off that wagon almost immediately. Maybe having an overall goal is a good idea and working on the steps intermediately…? I do enjoy exercise once I get there, I just need to learn my immediate area a little better rather than insisting on hiking in places that take me 30-45 minutes to reach. I want to climb a fourteener someday although that is far, far in the future. No doubt there are a million books on how to reach that goal. Thank you for the thought of the overall goal!

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Pick different rewards?
      What is of value to you that money cannot buy?

      I enjoy reading in bed, visiting with friends, spending a rainy Saturday in a bookstore.

      If your job is burning you out maybe the thing that is of high value to you is rest. At one demanding job, my solution was a protein drink and early to bed.

      1. Mallows*

        I think that’s at least part of the problem right now – work is wearing me out so much that my reward IS vegging. Two more weeks of this maternity leave! Hoping for at least a partial routine/brain reset once she is back.

    6. Bespectacled elephant*

      We discussed it upthread but I found Gretchen Rubin’s Habits book to be really helpful. Her main point is that different people are motivated in different ways. I’m not motivated by rewards and am an ‘obliger’. So now I have a buddy who I check in with on a weekly basis. Her website has a quiz which is helpful.

  25. Shayland*

    Help cooking frozen fish sticks please. My issue is that they stick.

    I have a toaster oven, I’ve rubbed oil on the metal plate. The sticking was improved but it affected the flavoring of the fried breading and I just wasn’t cool with that. I tried tin foil, still got sticking. I tried setting it to broil instead of bake and following the adjusted times on the packaging – no good. I can’t use my microwave because it doesn’t have a high enough wattage and the fish is uncooked with frozen.

      1. Shayland*

        I have not. I also do not own any, but I can go out and buy some. As well as more fish, I’m on my last bag.

        I forgot how much I love fish and chips and I can not over state how happy this food makes me. I think I’ll also try flipping the fish three times while they cook instead of twice. However, the time the spend cooking might have to be lengthened to ensure safe cooking temperatures are maintained. hmm….

        1. fposte*

          Honestly, try parchment paper. It’s the least sticky thing ever. Make sure you get that and not wax paper.

          1. Zathras*

            You can sometimes reuse the same piece a few times – I usually save the ones I use for cookies. This might be more difficult with fish/meat but if you are using it daily or every other day you could probably use one a few times before tossing it.

        1. Artemesia*

          Parchment paper is amazing — you never have a cake that sticks to the bottom of the pan and breaks up when you try to unmold it. And it works for cookies, and baked foods like fish sticks or mozarella sticks.

        2. Jessesgirl72*

          We use it for pizza too- use parchment paper right on bricks inside a super hot oven. It doesn’t stick and gives a really good and crispy crust!

        1. Sylvia*

          No problem! I’ve used this with chicken strips that weren’t getting crispy on the bottom.

    1. Anon for this doozy*

      Silicone baking mat, maybe? Nothing ever sticks to silicone, not even melted sugar. I saw one once that was a bunch of tiny pyramids so your food was held above the pan so fat could drain. I know that’s not the intent here, but it can’t stick to surfaces it never really touches, you know?

      1. Artemesia*

        Being kind is 99% of a long life with another person. ‘Mean’ or contempt are both non-starters. You can live with lots of things — life is full of disappointments. But no one should have to live with unkindness.

        My husband of 45 years and I are not likely to be the dream spouse for many people but yesterday when he was about to take a trip and had lost the screw in his computer glasses, I found an old pair of reading glasses and took out a screw and fixed his. Back in the day, when I would run out of gas every few months, he would unfailingly come to my rescue, once on a bicycle, with a gallon of gas and no scolds. Life is good with someone who is nice to you.

        You deserve that. Give ‘mean’ a huge negative in your cost benefit analysis.

        1. TheLazyB*

          See, in my head “mean” is one of those things you just have to live with.

          I hate being in my head sometimes.

          I’m trying not to make any actual decisions yet as the clusterfuck that’s been the last few months for my family, plus coming off the contraceptive pill and starting to wean off my ads, mean it’s probably not the best time to make life altering decisions… But still. I don’t think dh has actually liked me for the last 8 years or so. We’ve been married nearly 15 :(

          1. Windchime*

            I made it for 16 years before I called it quits. I realized that he really didn’t seem to like me anymore, and I didn’t like him much either. It was a really hard time, and he was very hurt when we first broke up. But I knew that this (marriage) could either be my whole life, or simply a section of my life. And I didn’t want to spend my whole life with someone who didn’t like me.

            “Mean” isn’t something you have to live with.

            1. TheLazyB*

              I love him. And when he’s nice he’s amazing. But I don’t want my kid to think that it’s healthy for one parent to be that mean to the other.

              I also suspect he’ll fight dirty if it really does come to divorce. Never a good thing.

            2. Christy*

              This is so upsetting! Remember to fight back–I am 100% divorce exists to protect women and women’s interests. Fight for the child support, fight for the alimony if your situation warrants it, fight for division of his retirement accounts if that is relevant. Seriously. My mom didn’t and now she’s going to have a right retirement and my dad is going to take a four week cruise next year.

            3. Not So NewReader*

              If he went back to being nice all the time, would you stay?

              I have asked the question, seen people think about it, then they surprisingly say NO.

              This means they have passed the point of no return. There is too much water over the dam and they are done dealing with it all.Being nice is HUGE in a relationship, failure to be nice is a breach of trust. A big breach of trust.

              I am profoundly sorry to hear you are having this struggle. I have to say, I could “hear” something in your writing. I could not put my finger on it but I have been hearing it for a while. So I am glad that you are looking at this and thinking about it. It takes strength to look at this stuff you know, it’s easier to turn a blind eye.

              I wish you the best outcome, whatever that may be. Please let us know how you are doing, when you can and as you can.

            4. TheLazyB*

              NSNR when I grow up I hope I’m half as perceptive as you. Yes, this is really hard and scary and I think ignoring it would be 12 billion times easier. But I can’t.

              I think I would stay if he was nice again, but at the same time, I do think I’m done. All now is details.

              On the bright side (hahahaha) I’ve got far better pension stuff than him.

            5. TheLazyB*

              I still feel like I’m making a huge f-ing fuss over nothing but I don’t trust that feeling any more.

          2. Christy*

            Mean is basically the definition of unacceptable. I’m sorry you have felt like you’ve had to live with “mean”.

            And there may never be a good time to divorce, but I think it’s such a hard thing for so many people to do that I’ve never met someone who regrets it. Ever. Once you make the decision, it becomes the right time to make the decision. (Unless it’s about six years or 36 years too late.)

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Sometimes “feeling like you have to live with ‘mean’ ” is simply because no decision has been made NOT to live with mean.

              In other words, perhaps the default for human being is to tolerate what ever flies at them. In order for that to change we have to decide where our lines are. I am inclined to think this way because of the popularity of talking about boundaries and books about setting boundaries. That popularity happened for a reason.

            2. Gaia*

              Right. You can be angry with someone and still choose to be kind to them. Actively choosing to be mean on a regular basis is just…it is just cruel, really. And unacceptable. From anyone.

          3. Yetanotherjennifer*

            if you’re not already pregnant, I’d hold off on trying for now. Once you have a child with someone you are stuck with them for life. This does not sound like a guy you want to be stuck with. And I think a time full of changes like what you seem to have been through may be shining a light on the condition of your marriage. There’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of the clarity. Sure your life may be upside down for a while but you’ll come through it. Good luck!!!

            1. TheLazyB*

              That ship has sailed; we already have a kid.
              I only came off the pill for medical reasons. Absolutely will not get pregnant. Thank you though.
              He’s generally an amazing dad. Generally.

            2. Ramona Flowers*

              I’m sorry to be a little blunt here, but if he is mean to his child’s mother then no, he is not an amazing dad.

            3. TheLazyB*

              Ramona I like the blunt. It helps. A large section of me wants to scream BUT WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?! but honestly I don’t think staying would be good for the child either.

            4. Optimistic Prime*

              @TheLazyB – No, it’s not. I grew up with a dad who was mean to my mom regularly, and she stayed with him for a variety of reasons (she didn’t work and also had Christian guilt). My siblings and I used to wish our parents would split up. We used to *fantasize* about them getting a divorce so we could have peace in our home.

              The longer-lasting problem, though, is that I had NO idea what long-term healthy interactions in a marriage looked like. I just assumed all men were stoic and unemotional like my dad, so I was genuinely surprised when I met some men who were not and actually did sweet but mundane things like cared about their weddings and bought flowers and such. My husband is generally very nice and sweet but he can occasionally be mean and brooding, and I thought that was normal for a long time. (We’re working on it now, after I realized it’s not.)

          4. Artemesia*

            You only get one life. A minimum requirement of the life partner is that they are nice to you. No one has to live with mean. If there are kids or if there are financial issues that make moving on very difficult, you may have to live with it for awhile, but it is your wake up call to create a plan for getting out from under it. Nice is a low bar.

          5. Gaia*

            I once had a friend tell me she loves her husband, she just doesn’t like him and that was okay because you don’t have to like eachother when married, right?

            I remember just staring at her like….WHAT!?

            To me, full stop, if you don’t like someone (or they don’t like you) you should not be in a relationship. I don’t mean there’s one thing about them you don’t like or there’s a few things that drive you batty, I mean that you DO. NOT. LIKE. EACHOTHER. As in, if you weren’t married, you wouldn’t choose to spend time together. That is reason enough to end things.

            I can’t tell you if that makes sense for you in your situation but I can send you some good thoughts. That cannot be easy to live with. Take care of you.

            1. Myrin*

              I’ll readily admit that I’m not the most romance-savvy person in the world but I’ll honestly never be able to wrap my head around this. To me, loving someone means liking them really, really a lot. I have literally no other definition for what “love” actually means. So I always go a little cross-eyed when I read “I love them but I don’t like them” because… how? What does that even mean?!

            2. TheLazyB*

              I think you don’t always like who you love, but generally speaking you should like them most of the time at least!

            3. Em*

              Good lord, I think it’s the complete opposite. I think you could spend your life with someone you liked but didn’t “love” and find happiness. But to live with someone you “love” but don’t like? Horrible. And in the latter case, I suspect, the love part is probably more like infatuation or some kind of addiction.

        2. Parenthetically*

          This is something we need to talk about more as a society, honestly. I am a reasonably intelligent, emotionally attuned human being, and yet I never once included “kind” on my mental list of requirements for a partner, until I met my now-husband, whose kindness is fundamental to his nature.

          Everybody has pissy, irritable days, sure, but unkindness as a habit/pattern/attribute? Never, never, never ever.

        3. TheLazyB*

          I just read this again and these small kindnesses have made me cry. It’s been a while since he was this nice.

      2. Ramona Flowers*

        Unfortunately I am at the wrong end of the country but I’ll stick a virtual kettle on.

        Telling someone sounds like a good idea, whatever it is that’s going on right now.

        Samaritans are on 116123 and are free and open 24/7, just in case it’s helpful to know that – you can talk to them about anything.

          1. Caledonia*

            @ lazy b – I am Edinburgh ish -happy to meet you. Was thinking of coming to N’castle for a day / weekend soon.

            1. TheLazyB*

              If we can manage logistics of finding out who each other are without broadcasting it to the entire interweb, that would be fab! :)

              1. Ramona Flowers*

                I’ve been seriously tempted to suggest a UK AAM meet-up, I have to say. I’m down sarf though (work in London, live somewhere commutery).

              2. Caledonia*

                @ramona flowers – in london end of nov/december time, alt email as above (or beloew depending on where this nests!)

    1. Parenthetically*

      I have no idea how controversial people are going to find this, but the Gottman Institute’s stuff on what constitutes a good marriage vs. the “four horsemen” of divorce might be actually a way to nail down some of your thoughts on this.

      All the best wishes from an internet stranger. Not an easy choice.

      1. fposte*

        I love Gottmann, and a therapist who posts here recommends him (and one other but I forget who that is).

    2. ValaMalDoran*

      I love him. And when he’s nice he’s amazing. But I don’t want my kid to think that it’s healthy for one parent to be that mean to the other.

      I’m so sorry, that is such a tough place to be. *hugs*

      My husband and I were a heartbeat away from getting divorced last year. Individual therapy for both of us, and marriage counseling were absolutely vital to us staying together. (Our practice uses the Gottmann method.) It was a lot of hard work, but worth it in the end. We’re in a much better place now, relationship-wise, than we had been for a long time.

      Some questions to consider: Has your husband always been mean, or has that changed over the course of your relationship? Is he mean intentionally? Do you want to stay married? If so, are you willing to do the tough work to repair your relationship? Would he be willing to?

      Again, I’m so sorry you’re going through this. Good luck.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Can I just caution that marriage counselling is categorically not recommended if one partner is abusive. And that includes meanness.

      2. Red Reader*

        I don’t know that I’d start calling things like that “normal human reactions.” I am a super non-emotional person and I don’t generally ask people what’s wrong when I find them crying because I don’t know how they want me to respond – whether they want it acknowledged or not – and I have in the past damaged relationships by responding in ways that people received poorly to their emotional upset. So I tend to stay quiet and let upset people approach me if they really feel like that’s a good plan.

        That said, my friends all know I’m useless in emotional situations, and I know that my fiancé at least wants me to ask him if he’s okay, and he knows that I’m probably not going to be very helpful unless there’s a logical/logistical component to his upset, but my asking anyway makes him feel better. That’s a discussion we had after a couple years.

        I definitely don’t want to excuse his behavior or say that “mean” is okay – it’s definitely not – but not knowing how to respond to crying people isn’t necessarily an indicator of a bad or “inhuman” response.

      3. Ramona Flowers*

        No, it’s not a normal human reaction. I’m so sorry – having a hard time with a bereavement isn’t something you need to be forgiven for. And while not everyone is good at being supportive, or knows how, if you don’t know how you need to find out, not just switch off or be mean.

        I read your post underneath as well. I’d suggest going to counselling by yourself, to get some space to work out what you want to do and some space and support just for you.

        You mentioned what you’d say to a friend if this was their partner. What if this was your child? What would you say to them? You wouldn’t want this for them, right?

        I don’t know if you use Mumsnet but I hear good things about their relationships board. They can advise you on things like what documentation to get together and how to actually suggest it.

        There is an organisation called The Rights of Women that can give free legal advice on family law – do have a look for their helpline if that feels useful for you.

        Feeling lonely in your marriage cannot be helping your mental health. Right now it sounds like getting some support and space just to let yourself think clearly might be a place to start. Hugs.

      4. Not So NewReader*

        Grief/loss does this. It tears some relationship apart and/or causes new bonds to develop. Yes, it takes a while for the shifts to occur but the shifts can be traced back to that loss.
        Grief is a powerful force.

        I can give people a pass if they do not know what to say to a person in grief. I don’t always know either. What I can’t work through here is the meanness. If he does not know how to support a grieving person that is one thing, but to be mean that is a whole separate issue.

        I will say this. Marriage is an UNBELIEVABLE amount of work. Oddly, the longer a couple is together the MORE they have to work at things. In part this is because the more we know about a person the more responsibility we have weighing on us.

        My husband and I were married for 23 years. We were together 27 all total. I am not sure when the shift started, maybe around year 18 of our marriage? We started laughing at ourselves and laughing at our own foibles. Honestly, this laughter SAVED our marriage. If we did not learn to laugh at ourselves we probably would have spent most of our time arguing. The laughter started when we noticed something. One of us would lose our cool about something and the other would remain collected. It stood out like a sore thumb that the Collected One was being kind when it would have been much easier to feed into the upset. We each took turns being the Collected One. This allow the Upset One some space to say, “oh, yeah. I goofed here, didn’t I?”
        After a bit the whole process dissolved into poking fun at our own selves.
        I am sure if we did not start laughing, one of us might have started packing suitcases.
        Life is intense. And as the years go on, all the intense stories add up and snowball. It becomes layer upon layer of intense stories. We want our spouses to be a port in the storm, but we have to be that port also. It’s very hard. And sometimes it takes an incredible amount of work. But both people have to be willing to do that work.

    3. AnonySue*

      I was recently in a somewhat similar spot in my marriage. Although he is kind there are other issues. The pros and cons kept going over and over in my head. It was awful. Just a couple sessions with a therapist really clarified things for me. And if you decide to leave – consult an attorney beforehand, get all your finances documented, etc.

      And I agree with others that him being mean is reason enough to leave.

      Very best wishes

    4. Artemesia*

      I am in the last act and it is so critical that a marriage is rewarding when you get to this stage of life. This is the part of life where kindness and companionship become central. One or the other will have to step up and face disability or cognitive decline in the partner and cope with those challenges. One or the other may have to decide on long term care or to pull the plug. And both will need to support each other in the petty failings of old age. A non relationship at this point is worse than being alone. Alone you can move to an assisted living community and make new friends etc. Stuck with someone who is not nice to you would be pretty awful.

      Your marriage may or may not be savable but don’t settle for less than a friendship that is mutually supportive. Imagine ‘mean’ when you are 70 and can’t see well enough to repair your own glasses or drive or find something you dropped. Imagine mean when you have trouble getting out of your chair or need help getting in and out of the shower. Imagine mean when you forget something and then get to be ridiculed for it. I just went through an injury where for several weeks I could not comb my own hair or put it in a ponytail or floss my own teeth or button my own blouse. Imagine living with a mean person when you needed this minor help?

      1. Artemesia*

        ps when my husband and I first got together ‘no fault’ insurance was a sort of new thing. We jokingly decided we would have a no fault marriage. i.e. we would not cast blame when things went wrong. He has been better at this than I am but we have largely adhered to this and not criticized the other when things went wrong. I highly recommend it. And making it explicit meant it was something we could reference if one or the other of us violated the spirit of the thing. It kept us on track.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Great post, Artemesia.
        Am looking at this from the other side now, I know what work went into taking care of my husband. And I totally agree, the relationship we have with our helpmates in life is absolutely critical in times of crisis. From my husband’s perspective he worked hard at helping himself, also. He participated in his own self care and his medical decisions. (He had extremely limited mobility, but his mind was fine.) The day he passed he had tried to do two new small things to help himself. He just did not stop trying. This was important for me to see because it inspired me to keep going against all odds.
        This is why I say, marriage is hard work. And in some ways I think it gets harder as the decades go by. Both people have to put in 100% each.

    5. ValaMalDoran*

      Having read through more of your comments, I think individual therapy could be very helpful for you right now. At least in my case, I found it incredibly helpful and reassuring to have that outside viewpoint and reinforcement, “no, you are correct: this is not normal or okay, and you are not overreacting.” Therapy has been so, so useful to help me work through and analyse things. And its really nice to have that reoccurring time dedicated just to you.

      Side note: finding the right therapist for you is important, and its okay if it takes a few tries. I didn’t really click with the first person I saw, but my second therapist was the one for me.

      Also, please take excellent care of yourself. Self care is important in general, but especially during trying times. *hugs* I’m sending positive energy your way.

      1. Mallows*

        Contributing to the chorus of Your Partner Being Mean is a Big Deal. Been there, left his ass 2.5 years ago, and am still reveling in my peaceful home. I am not sure much is worse than having no place where you can relax, no place of refuge – and when your partner is hateful and tries to hurt you, home is worse than not-home. Easier for me than for you because we weren’t married and had no kids, I will admit. But if you’re like me, you’ll come out the other side, and be amazed at what you dealt with, and be more thrilled than you thought was possible by *calm*.

        Something I did because I knew there would be begging from him when I told him I was done, and as cruel as he could be I *still* hated hurting him – I wrote down each action that drove me to leave. When it got hard with the logistics and the crying and begging, I had a nice reminder to keep my anger and determination at a high level.

      2. Bethlam*

        Can’t get on on the weekend, so don’t know if you’re still checking for replies, but thought I’d recommend a book. It sounds like you may be past the point of needing it, but “Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay” by Mira Kirshenbaum is a book that walks the reader through a series of questions that help evaluate his/her individual situation and drill down to the important issues. That then helps to evaluate whether leaving or staying is the right choice for that individual.

        1. TLB*

          Just seen it now, although you probably won’t see this, but just in case you do – thank you.

  26. Red Reader*

    I spent the morning on my company’s sponsored team for a big scavenger hunt fundraiser for the mentoring program I’m joining this fall, and our team won second prize — a $400 scholarship for the student mentee who was assigned to our team! (Each corporate team had a current student/mentor pair assigned to them.) And on top of that, an anonymous donor last-minute donated a $250 scholarship for each student mentee who was participating in the scavenger hunt as a thank-you, because he didn’t think it was fair that there were almost 30 kids and only 3 prizes. :) I had a blast, and I’m really super looking forward to getting paired up with my own mentee later this summer.

  27. Shayland*

    My dog rests his head on my lap or leg while I eat. I want to capture the head resting behavior but do not want to reward begging…

    1. fposte*

      Any dog driven by food rewards is indirectly getting rewarded for begging anyway :-). Presuming you’ve got an alternative like a solid down and stay while you eat, I don’t see why this has to be an exacerbation; you just start disentangling the “do it when requested” from “do it when Shayland has fish fingers.” ID your command (say you’re patting your lap and saying “Head”), get it in there when he’s leaning toward you but before he does it, then praise him and reward him with something other than what you’re eating. Break it up with times when you eat and he has to down and stay elsewhere and start reward training on the movement outside of when you’re eating meals so it’s its own thing.

      1. Shayland*

        This is a great idea! The fish finger comment had my laughing out loud. I have never fed him food I’ve been eating. In fact, I save things like apple cores that he can have for crate time which is usually at least an hour after I eat. But every time I’m in the kitchen, epsecally when I’m cooking meat, he’s under foot, his wagging his tail, and when I sit down with food he shoves his head in my lap.

        I guess just the smells and the stimulation of watching me work is rewarding, silly baby.

        He also offers the behavior to try and interrupt me when I’m on the computer. I just have no idea what he hopes to accomplish but the deep pressure it provides could be very useful for me when I’m having an anxiety attack.

  28. Kay*

    Can anyone recommend tips for mowing a VERY steep embankment? Higher than 45*. We have a decent push mower. I’m going to be taking over yard work and don’t have the brute force strength my husband does to push it up.

    The top part has to be weed whacked instead of mowed, but there’s quite a bit before that that needs the mower.

    1. Hellanon*

      Is there a goat farm in your area? The city of Los Angeles rents goats to deal with really steep embankments…

      1. LNZ*

        I second this, its how UC Berkeley mowed their supper steep hills. Though i think they use sheep. My moms call them the wooly weeders when they pass by them.

      2. Anna*

        I used to have goats. Some people can keep the corralled behind 2 strands of wire. I couldn’t keep them corralled on Alcatraz. They would definitely handle the grass and are really cute doing it, but they are very smart creatures and have minds of their own. Also, they don’t care what is the grass they are supposed to eat and what are the flowers they are not supposed to eat. They will eat what they want.

        Having said that, could you try starting at the bottom and mowing across and turning up at the end of the row rather than pushing the mower up and down the hill every pass. When you get to the top, you are done and you just have to guide the mower to the bottom.

        1. Kay*

          I’ve never kept goats personally, but I’m in Vermont, so I know a lot of people who do. One of the told me once that the same kind of fence that keeps goat in will also keep water in.

          I like your idea of turning at the top and letting gravity help. I may try that, thank you.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          The nursery I worked at sold tractors and walk-behinds. This was the general advice they gave people.
          With tractors you went up and down the hill. You did not go across it, because going across it meant you were more likely to tip the tractor.

          Walk-behinds were just the opposite. You went across the slope. If you lost your balance your chances of getting away from the machine are pretty good because you are behind it. The problem with going up and down the hill with a walk-behind, is when you are going up the hill you are BEHIND the machine which is a vulnerable spot to be.

      3. Kay*

        I so so SO wish that goats would work! We don’t have enough of a yard, and we’re a bit too suburban. Please, someone else do this, though, and take pictures?!

      4. paul*

        Any chance of planting a lot of flowers or ground cover plants on the embankment? When I lived in the mountains that’s what we did right by the house, rather than letting tall grass grow where we couldnt’ mow it (never have great cover right next to the house).

        Of course deer and elk played a bit of hell with it but eh, it worked OK.

    2. Parenthetically*

      I have no tips except an extremely unhelpful one: take out the grass and put in ground cover that doesn’t have to be mowed! But very best of luck!

      1. Kay*

        That is actually the long-term solution; we’re going to terrace the entire embankment. I’ve already done over the top into raised beds. It’s an old house with lots of $$$ projects, so that kind of work will have to wait at least another year or two. :(

      2. paul*

        exactly what we did.

        I grew up in the rockies and we had this high height grass on all around our house when we moved into it…horribly dangerous for a variety of reasons, from fire to being great cover for things like skunks, or cougars. It was way to steep to mow, so we pulled it out over a summer and planted some hardy flowers and some sort of ground cover.

    3. Temperance*

      This might or might not be in your budget, but I only pay $60/month for lawn service. I was spending basically half of my Saturday every week outside (or Booth was) just trying to handle the yard. It was worth it to have someone else handle, especially if you’re taking on the entire burden.

      1. Kay*

        Oh, I wish that were in the budget. :( It’s how the previous owners (an elderly couple) solved the problem. Realistically, it’s a size lawn that would take ~30 minutes a week to maintain if it were flat, so it’s not the size or the time necessarily – it’s the sheer brute labor of it.

    4. Jane Dough*

      We switched to evergreen ground cover after my husband badly sprained an ankle cutting our steep side yard. The neighbor was a bit rude about it, but our safety is more important than her Better Homes and Gardens nonsense.

      Link to follow.

      1. J. F.*

        We decided to ‘naturalize’ our 45 degree hill and planted a tree and some shrubs. Once a year we weed whack it. This probably doesn’t solve your mowing problem- commiserations, mainly.

    5. Anono-me*

      You mention having a good push mower. I suggest upgrading to a good self propelled mower.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      When I worked in a nursery we told people to get ground covers on the bank and let that cover it.

      You could consider hiring someone to brush hog it once a month or every six weeks. That might be cheaper than paying someone to mow it.

      Perhaps you could go with an every other week plan or so and rent a machine that would be easier to use. This way you are only out the cost of the rental, as you do the work yourself.

      You are in Vermont. So this means you have access to a forum called “Front Porch Forum”. The company is out of Burlington and they have recently saturated Vermont so every town has a forum. You could check your town’s forum and see if anyone has any ground covers they are wanting to give away. It should not cost a ton of money to cover that bank. I would also check library plant sales and I would check nurseries at the end of season clearance sales.

    7. Artemesia*

      This is a recipe for lost toes, I’d be planting it with ground cover or getting a goat. It is just a matter of time before disaster strikes if you do it using an unwieldy giant cutting machine.

    8. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

      Since terracing isn’t in the budget right now but will be in a year or two, I think you could jump the gun a bit and pull out the grass. Dig simple flat spots and put planters or barrels, seed with beautiful flowers or herbs, then just remove anything else that grows outside those barrels. Doing it in stages will reduce the cost of terracing later.

    9. Em*

      I don’t mow a lot, and I’ve given up pretty much on doing the hill that slopes down from the house, but when I did do it, I kind of stood at the top of the hill and pushed the lawnmower back and forth in front of me almost like I was vacuuming. If I had let go, it would have rolled down the hill and I’d be okay, although I never thought about that part. It was just the only way I could figure out how to do the side of the hill.

  29. Charlotte*

    The post last week about warped perceptions regarding working norms was really interesting to read, although it was also really depressing in some respects of just how much that stuff can mess people up.

    It got me thinking: are there any aspects life in general (outside work) that you’ve thought was normal for a long time before being exposed to other views that caused you to re-think things?

    For me personally: I come from a culture that strongly favours sons over daughters (attitudes are changing, but in a lot of families that’s still the case). Having a son was considered an achievement somehow (although thankfully science has shifted ‘blame’ from the mother), and having a daughter is usually met with commiseration.

    While I have no doubt my parents love me, they’ve never tried to hide the fact they would’ve preferred a boy, and my grandparents always favoured my male cousin over me. I have a (female) friend who has a twin brother, she was the first to be born and when the relatives present at the birth saw she was a girl (and thus expected two girls) they all felt sorry for her mother – and then was overjoyed when the second baby turned out to be a boy.

    All this to say: throughout my childhood I just accepted that boys were preferred to girls. It’s not that we were held back in society (both my parents are doctors, and the aforementioned friend’s mother has a PhD) but we were just inherently inferior somehow. I never thought to question why that was the case, because it was presented as fact from the get-go.

    So when we emigrated, and I started watching English-language shows/movies, and meeting people from outside my cultural background, I’d always be shocked when someone expecting a child would say they wanted a girl – especially so if it was their firstborn (if they already had a son it’d be like fulfilling their duty already). It took me a long time to get used to the fact there are people who genuinely wanted daughters over sons.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      Sorry to go super serious but I grew up thinking you couldn’t leave someone if you loved them because you don’t give up on someone you love, that you should be grateful if a man liked you, and that it was completely fine and normal for adult men to throw tantrums. I didn’t know that it was actually normal, or at least healthy, for men to be kind to their daughters.

      I am still learning stuff on that front. Like, a character in a book asked his daughter if she felt okay because she looked pale and I was like: oh, that’s a thing a dad would do?

      And yes, I’ve been to therapy!

      1. Parenthetically*

        “you should be grateful if a man liked you”

        This mindset is freaking EVERYWHERE. I totally believed it too. It’s so hard to shake without veering wildly into a totally selfish, consumerist mindset toward other humans and land on a balanced understanding of mutuality.

      2. Temperance*

        Yep. I really relate to this. I remember feeling like I only had value if I was dating someone. I’m horrified to think of how much more I would have achieved – and how much better my life would be – if I wasn’t raised to value being dependent on a man.

        I am, TBH, always amazed when friends of mine are close with their dads. I think of fathers as, at best, stern taskmasters. My own dad used to “joke” that he had so many children so we would take care of the house and yard. I told him that it hurt my feelings, he didn’t stop. I asked my mom to intervene, he did it more. So I think dad = mean man that you avoid.

      3. Lindsay J*

        I was talking about this on another forum recently. (Or maybe it was here, I forget).

        But my parents didn’t have a great relationship, and that combined with TV (especially sitcom tropes) has let me to have this internalized idea that men don’t really want or desire marriage at all, and that at best it’s something they begrudgingly tolerate in order to be able to have kids and be viewed as an adult in society. And that at worst it’s something women have to trick or coerce them into doing.

        When I see men talk kindly about their spouses or significant other ex online, or express that they’re looking forward to meeting someone, settling down, and get married, I still kind of half-believe that it’s some sort of performance they’re putting on for someone else’s benefit and that they still don’t actually want that.

        1. Brogrammer*

          When I was a teenager and first coming out, I’d wondered how gay men could marry women, have kids, and only realize in their 40’s that they were gay, so I asked… and they told me pretty much the exact same thing that you wrote here. :/

    2. Artemesia*

      I grew up in a perfectly average family in the US and this was my experience too. I bet I heard 50 times in my life from my mother ‘Of course your father wanted a girl, but. . .’ And the story of the birth of my mother and my father crowing ‘you got it right this time’ was repeating ad nauseam. It never occurred to my mother in her entire 93 years that repeating this over and over and over might be wounding to her daughter. I once complained about it to my SIL and she said ‘oh exactly — that is exactly the way they are. Once when she was telling me that story, I said ‘how do you think that makes me feel as the second of four daughters’ and that shut her up.’ But she never transferred it to me. My folks weren’t aggressive about it, it was just the way it was. It was made clear to me that if there was only one college education that could be afforded, my brother would get it. And my grandfather dropped me like a hot potato when the only begotten son was born.

      The experience made me very careful with my children and now my grandchildren. When I was pregnant with my second child (first was a son) I focused on not being disappointed if the second baby was also a boy — I never wanted him to hear the story of how disappointed his mother was to not have a daughter. I had a daughter and was delighted but another boy would have been fine too.

      1. Charlotte*

        “It never occurred to my mother in her entire 93 years that repeating this over and over and over might be wounding to her daughter.”

        See that’s where the warped thinking comes in – I never felt hurt or demeaned by comments like that, I thought they were right and that’s just the way things were. I never questioned why my grandparents preferred my cousin, he was the boy and that was enough of a reason.

    3. Lady Jay*

      On a WAY more lighthearted note, I grew up thinking that chocolate was very masculine. My father much preferred chocolate to fruity desserts, would have a chocolate cake every year for his birthday, and generally avoided things like apple pie, cherry pie, etc.

      It is still weird to me that stereotypically, women eat a lot of chocolate; and that men actually enjoy fruity desserts.

      1. Myrin*

        That chocolate thing is entirely too fascinating!

        Not something I had to “re-think” per se but something I just “knew” incorrectly: I experience ASMR (an enjoyable tingly feeling most often found in the scalp, but can also extend to the back, which is triggered by certain visual and/or auditory scenarios) and thought for sure that everyone had this, that it was just a thing that happened. Or really, I basically just didn’t think or talk about it ever because why would I, it was just a part of me, and then three or four years ago I found out that it is most definitely not a universal thing.

        I was completely blindsided by this new information since I’d experienced this sensation all my life and then it turned out that no one in my family actually has it! It’s so weird when something that is so normal to you that you don’t even stop to think about it it’s that immaterial turns out to just be flat-out wrong – I have this sometimes with other stuff (which I naturally can’t think of at the moment) and it feels a little like your world is turned upside down every time.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Ooh, I have a similar one! I have synaesthesia and I thought everyone did until I saw an article about it. Before that, asking “do you associate letters with colours” would just have been like asking if you associate tastes with food.

          1. Cheshire Cat*

            Me, too, only I associate color with sound. I thought everyone else did, too, until I saw an article about it.

          2. Elkay*

            I remember being totally baffled when I found out not everyone has a picture of time and the alphabet (although my alphabet picture is very heavily influenced by a placemat I had as a kid).

        2. Gaia*


          I seriously thought this was just a normal thing that everyone experienced.

          1. Myrin*

            That’s usually the reaction everyone who has it and hears about it for the first time has. :D

        3. Basia, also a Fed*

          It has been happening to me over and over again since I read your post and then googled it. Who knew that just reading about it could trigger it! Like you, I never thought about it before and assumed it happened to everyone, like shivering or goosebumps.

          1. Basia, also a Fed*

            And, when I came back today to see the new posts, it started happening again as I was scrolling down. And it’s happening again right now!

        4. Tau*

          I have, like, novels worth of this sort of experience (“what, you mean not everyone experiences things this way?”) The most striking one was probably perfect pitch. I learned that being able to identify notes by ear is in fact unusual at the age of twelve, when I figured out my brother couldn’t do this and promptly asked my violin teacher what was wrong with him that he was missing such an obvious and natural ability. I still puzzle over how “normal” people must experience hearing a musical note, because for me the pitch information is a major and fundamental part of it.

          And yeah, ASMR sounds completely unfamiliar to me! The closest I get is a weird pressure-y feeling I get in the tips of my ears, but it happens when I feel ashamed or guilty so it’s not particularly enjoyable.

        5. Red Reader*

          I just realized about a year ago that the majority of the rest of the world – when you people talk about your “mental images” you’re being LITERAL. I have zero ability to picture anything in my imagination. Like, close your eyes, visualize something, and I get the inside of my eyelids, no matter how hard I try. Mind blown.

          And my housemates, who are all extremely visually oriented people, felt the same way in reverse. The idea that I can’t visualize is just bizarre to them. A friend of ours who is colorblind asked me to explain aphantasia to him, and at the end, he was like “man, you can keep purple. At least I can picture the beach when the weather is lousy.”

          And we’ve found that the inability to visualize explains a lot of my weird behavior quirks.

          1. Ange*

            Me too. I am fairly certain that my aphantasia explains why I am so bad at recognizing faces AND why I am not traumatised by images but I can be by descriptions in books.
            But for years I thought “visualise” meant “describe to yourself in words inside your head”.

            1. Gaia*

              Yes! Images rarely upset me deeply but I’m still incredibly disturbed by a novel’s description of a horse being abused (literally, writing those words made me want to cry). I loved the book but I’ll never re-read it because reading that was like what I imagine others experience when they watch horrific videos of abuse.

              1. Red Reader*

                I get upset by images while I’m viewing them, but they don’t stick with me as long as they seem to with other people.

                But art museums – I get no benefit or increased interest from looking at the art in person as opposed to just looking at it online. And in other kinds of museums, I spend much more time reading the signage than looking at the artifacts.

              2. Gaia*

                That’s true about museums. I love art but for me, being in person, is not the awe inspiring experience it seems to be for others. I am equally as intrigued viewing an image in a book, reading about it or seeing it online or in a photograph as I ever would be in person with the original piece.

                And I should have been clearer: in the moment, videos of violence can be very upsetting but as soon as I’m not watching it, the feeling is gone. If I think about it later, it isn’t “re-seeing” it so much as remembering “Person 1 did thing X and then Thing Y happened”

                The same is true with memories for me. I don’t remember them in images, I remember them like a story being told. Song lyrics: same. I don’t hear a song stuck in my head, I read the lyrics to myself repeatedly. I think dreams are my only exceptions. I do have visualizations in dreams. I remember seeing things when I dream but when I wake, if I want to “play back” the dream it is like everything else: all text, no images.

          2. Gaia*

            I also cannot picture things. I could see a face (or object), close my eyes and I will remember the charecteristics but I cannot “see” it. I also didn’t realize this was unusual until I talked to a friend that had lost a parent and mentioned being grateful she still “saw” their face when she closed her eyes. I realized she had a literal image in her mind and I would only remember “blonde hair, green eyes, nose the tipped up slightly, little ears, liked to wear dangly hoops” etc

      2. mreasy*

        Same! My dad loves chocolate & my mom can take or leave it. So I just kind of internalized that for the longest time.

      3. Parenthetically*

        Ahaha, same, funnily enough! My dad’s a chocolate obsessive (so’s my husband, come to think of it), but my mother and I are more into lemon/almond/fruit-type sweets. The stereotype of a woman losing her mind over chocolate was probably my first “aha” moment about sexism on a societal level, because it didn’t make a lick of sense to me.

      4. Artemesia*

        This is so funny as I think of apple pie in particular which I don’t like and fruit pies in general as being ‘masculine’ as my father liked those and I liked lemon merinque and cream pies and such.

    4. Zathras*

      Here’s another more lighthearted one: I am from Boston, where people drink iced coffee all winter. I was hanging out with a friend who is not from the northeast and we happened to see an advertisement from Dunkin Donuts about preparing for a snowstorm that was in the forecast. The ad featured a guy filling his fridge full of iced coffees. My friend said “Why would you need iced coffee in the snow? I don’t get it.”

      I was in my mid-20s and it had literally not occurred to me before that moment that there was anything strange about drinking iced coffee when it was 20 degrees F and snowing. In fact, I was used to being the weirdo with hot coffee, because I actually don’t really like iced coffee, even in the summer.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        I’ve had people question me on that too — like buzz off, I’m thirsty, I want a drink I can chug, not sip! Iced coffee in cold weather is no different than a cold soda in cold weather, imo.

      2. Jane Dough*

        I have the opposite question: I’m a hot cocoa aficionado, and people at my old job always pulled a face when they saw me making it in the cafeteria during the summer. Yet, drinking hot coffee all year long was seen as normal. When I brought this up, they just doubled down and said “Yeah, you’re still weird” without really giving a sensical explanation.

      3. Parenthetically*

        My husband is like that with ice cream! He grew up in a pretty cool-temperate climate, and even in the dead of winter there are ice cream shops doing a roaring trade. I just don’t want ice cream ever, at all, when it’s cold outside, and he finds that unspeakably bizarre.

    5. WriterLady*

      This is actually similar in the culture I partly grew up in; my brother, as the only male in the entire load of grandkids, could become an axe murderer and my grandparents would applaud his savvy career move. My father isn’t as overt, but it’s definitely a thing. My uncle outright told me that yes, if he’d had a son, he’d have favoured him over his set of amazing daughters. What helped was that my mother isn’t in that culture, and my brother has absolutely no interest in those cultural norms now, and between the pair of them they showed me not everyone judges worth on gender.

      Similarly, I thought everyone’s grandma was obsessed with weight to the point of cruelty, and that everyone’s grandma tried to set them up with older men because the marriage age was fast approaching. It wasn’t until I told my friends in a “oh gosh guess what my Nana’s doing now, grandparents, am I right” way, and they were suitably horrified, that I realised she perhaps wasn’t normal.

    6. Temperance*

      This is NOT intended to be disrespectful to people of faith. I was raised evangelical, and grew up around people who wouldn’t even let their kids attend regular schools because they were worried about their kids learning about evolution or the Big Bang Theory. There were a few that were really old school, and believed women shouldn’t ever cut their hair or wear pants/shorts.

      I grew up assuming that everyone else, like me, was just really scared of Hell, so even though they didn’t believe some of the bizarre and wacky things that flew in the face of science. I genuinely didn’t realize until high school that people truly believed this stuff. Like, it was a sin to cut your hair.

    7. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      I grew up in a religiously cultural environment where you don’t talk casually about health issues. It’s considered very rude to draw attention to them unnecessarily — discussing needs and accommodations is fine, but you’re not going to tell dramatic stories about how you wound up with a wrist brace, because the mindset is that giving a lot of recreational attention to and being very impressed by the foibles of the body are going to lead to more health problems in the future.

      (For purposes of comparison: the first time I went to church leaning on a cane, no one asked anything like “are you okay?” or “what happened?” — but many people told me that if I needed help with anything, I could call them, and I also got offers of cooked food, help mowing the lawn, etc. It’s not unloving, but you focus on making things better, not on making a big deal about the illness/injury itself.)

      Well, my coworkers went bananas the first time I went to work with a cane — the number of people who wanted to know every down-and-dirty detail about why exactly I was using a stick, what was wrong with me, had I seen a doctor, what did the doctor say, what medicine was I using, pretty much blew my mind. I wrote a letter in to AaM about it, and the response from quite a few commenters boiled down to “if no one said anything you’d be offended too.” That completely baffled me, until I spent a bit more time with those same coworkers and realized that most people outside of my religious group really love talking about their health problems. It still baffles me. If I feel like crud, I don’t want to spend my time rehearsing in intricate detail the ways I feel like crud, I just want it to stop!

      1. Hrovitnir*

        Heh heh. Now, I was a vet nurse and now I’m studying biomed, I most certainly do love discussing disease. However I do think it’s absolutely rude to pry, and don’t ask anything beyond “are you OK” and “how did you do it” if you seem open to it – and drop it if you’re not keen on that question. Because I think not liking to discuss those things is pretty common actually.

      2. Zathras*

        I have family members who are nurses, and apparently it’s a common experience for them to meet a complete stranger socially, happen to mention that they are a nurse, and then be treated to an in-depth, graphic explanation of this person’s health issues. I don’t understand it either, and I’m not religious.

        I’m also annoyed by the number of strangers who, when informed of a small immediately-relevant detail about my health status, start asking very personal questions about my medical history.

        1. SaraV*

          There was a sign in a gift shop I visited that I was tempted to get for my SIL, who’s a nurse. Maybe not the exact wording, but it said “Yes, I am a nurse. No, I don’t want to see itn”

      3. Observer*

        I’d be very comfortable with your religious community in this respect. Not that I think talking about this would cause medical problems, but by and large, the focus on helping and making things better just works better for me.

    8. Channel Z*

      My mom is a really good cook and bakes most things, except breads from scratch. I was surprised to learn that you can buy pie in a box.

    9. Hrovitnir*

      This isn’t super black and white, but I’m always bemused by the “I’m a carnivore” (no, you’re not) culture. My parents were into whole food and super foods in the 80s when it wasn’t so much of a thing; they were vegetarians on and off, I was a vegetarian for 7 years. So it’s just not a big deal to me to not eat meat, or to change around your diet. There’s just this continuous faint background feeling of “why are you making this such a big deal?” with the way some people act offended by the idea of not putting meat in eeeeeverything and the need to declare to the world that you Love Meat.

      (The toxic food morality that’s come up a few times on AAM is a separate issue, though related and I have managed to sidestep that to a large extent, thankfully.)

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Oh yes, me too. I was raised largely pescatarian as my parents are Jewish and keep kosher and it was just easier. I cannot get my head around the idea of having to eat meat with every meal. Or the way some people ask if you’re vegetarian just because you are eating something without meat in for your lunch or you picked a veggie option in a restaurant.

        I am also baffled by people who make a big deal of their kids being veggie. One of the few things my parents got right was letting me make proper choices about that.

      2. Sylvia*

        Same here. It’s very weird, particularly the thing about bacon, how can you not eat baaaacon?

        I mean, I used to like it, sure, but calm down.

    10. Jane Dough*

      I grew up with parents who were incredibly, incredibly hard on me. I spent most of my high school years grounded for infractions like getting an A- instead of an A, or for vacuuming the rug against the grain and “damaging it”. I was a really good kid, and years later I realize that I didn’t deserve their bullshit.

      It took me a long time to realize that every tiny error at a job was NOT a fireable offense, and every minor argument in a relationship would NOT lead to a divorce. Basically I had to unlearn the idea that imperfection in any aspect of life was a catastrophe.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      I carried a lot of misconceptions. The first one I had I can only blame me.
      I believed that women should have blond hair and men should have brown hair. My parents were the reverse and boy! was I EMBARRASSED by that. I was three years old.

      My aunt told a story about growing up with her sibs. There were a lot of kids and their ages spanned three decades. So it was possible for a sib to have a new child of their own AND have a new sibling in the same year. My aunt ended up with nieces and nephews who were her age or older. Someone explained to my very young aunt that she had become an aunt again. She was immediately and wildly embarrassed. “I am not married, how can I become an aunt. Something is wrong here. I must fix it. But HOW?!” It took a while for her to sort that out.

      1. MommaCat*

        Similarly to your first one, I was sure dogs were boys and cats were girls. And that grilled cheese sandwiches were just for girls, because they were obviously “girls’ cheese sandwiches.” And, for the finale, I thought Santa Monica wasn’t a real place, because my mom would throw that out as her “I’m tired of these questions” answer to our “where are you going?” I was a preteen when I saw a sign for it and blurted out, “Santa Monica’s a real place?” My folks just about fell out of the car with laughter. The saddest part is you have to pass that sign to get to my grandparents’ house.

        1. Artemesia*

          LOL When my son was a kid he mentioned that his school had had lunch at the ‘Campus Girl’ — Took me a long time to realize he meant the ‘Campus Grill’ so kudos on the Girl Cheese Sandwiches.

      2. Myrin*

        Oooooh, that reminds me of another one!

        Where I’m from, basically everyone is catholic. When I was in primary school, there were only two kids in my class who were protestant. These two kids were also the only left-handed ones in my class. You see where this is going, right? Well, I didn’t really believe that only protestants are left-handed but my brain put a link there and until this very day I always need a second to get my mind straight when I encounter a left-handed catholic because it’s “not right”. So weird.

    12. TL -*

      My orthodontist always used to give us gloves to play with at the end of our appointments and for 10 years, I thought gloves just made hands red and swollen and itchy.
      Turns out I have a latex allergy! Last year, a friend pointed out that’s why band aids leave red rings on my skin – I thought that was normal, too!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        OMG! This reminds me. I thought everyone wanted to double over when they drank milk. I thought I was the Weak One for showing a reaction to milk, everyone else could cover theirs just fine.

        Yeah. At 28 I learned milk allergy is A Thing.

        In the same vein, I had a friend who believed that we all only used one of our eyes and the other eye was there for decoration. Friend got to about 5th grade before friend learned that BOTH eyes were supposed to work.

        1. fposte*

          And I was going to say that I never understood the concept of “bloodshot eyes,” because aren’t all eyes bloodshot? Turns out I have ocular rosacea.

        2. Observer*

          Good grief! How did no one realize that you had a problem?

          Just out of curiosity, are you using “milk allergy” as a generic title or are you actually allergic. I’m wondering because what you are describing actually sounds like lactose intolerance.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Well for quite a while I thought it was lactose. I later learned it was casein. Casein provokes a very quick reaction such as doubling over with abdominal pain very shortly after consumption. Lactose takes a bit longer to tick off the body.
            I do not drink milk at home. If I accidentally have some while I am out (mixed in with other foods), I am probably okay now with that little bit. It took years to reach this point.

            No, my parents believe that allergies were a show of weakness which was not acceptable. And at the base they believed that there was no such thing as allergies.

            I will say this. Years later, after I cleaned up my diet and started controlling what I ate, an aunt came to visit. She was struck by how different I looked. She said, “You were dying the whole time you were growing up and none of us knew.”
            Yep. That about sums it up.

            1. Observer*

              So don’t call it an allergy (It sounds more like an “intolerance” than a classic allergy, so that’s probably technically true, too.)

              The idea that a child doubles over immediately after eating a food doesn’t show a medical problem but just being “weak” blows my mind. Which is where my snark about not calling it an allergy comes from. To be honest, I doubt they would have reacted differently if someone had mentioned “lactose intolerance”, which a very well documented and common issue, because they were denying the basic problem while watching the symptoms happening.

    13. Tau*

      I have a few more light-hearted anecdotes on the cultural differences front:

      I’m German, and it’s a cultural superstition for us that you don’t acknowledge someone’s birthday before the actual day because it’s bad luck. It’s one of those things that everyone rationally knows is nonsense but follows anyway, sort of on the same level as saying “I’m glad it’s not raining” or “things can’t possibly get worse right now”. In fact, because of the widespread nature of this, wishing someone a happy birthday ahead of time is basically seen as wishing them bad luck.

      I live in the UK and thought this was a general Western superstition and not specifically German. So when the head of our department had a milestone birthday on a Saturday a few months ago, I expected that any celebrations etc. would occur on Monday. I was shocked and appalled to find balloons in the workspace on the Friday beforehand, and spent most of the day vaguely horrified and trying to figure out how to manage an inconspicuous absence if we were expected to congratulate him, or participate in a gift presentation, or (god forbid) sing. …I didn’t get very much work done.

      It also took me ages to work out that UK and US people wear their wedding rings on the left hand, not the right. I figured out that you have separate engagement and wedding rings pretty early (hard not to, “diamond engagement ring” is all over the internet) but I didn’t know the hands involved were different as well.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Did not know that about the hands. Over here wearing your ring on your right hand means you’ve separated, last I heard.

        1. Artemesia*

          I lived in Germany as a kid and was surprised that wedding rings were worn on the right hand. We have similar cultures and many Americans have German roots so it was just surprising to me. In fact, being in a similar culture can be trickier than in a hugely different one. It is easy to understand that you have to be careful in China because their norms are very different; it is easier to blunder in a culture that looks mostly like your own but not quite.

          1. Myrin*

            I have to say that as a German, I’m surprised to hear this. I’ve found that basically everything about American culture(s) is completely foreign to me – not “foreign” as in “it’s considered impolite here to look someone directly in the eye” or something similar, that stuff does overlap a lot as far as I can tell, but from everything I’ve gathered from this and other predominantly American websites, our respective attitudes differ in everything from the environment to health(care) to food, the military, education, formality, and endlessly more. I’d definitely say that we share a lot of our cultural values with France or the UK, for example, but I’d absolutely never say that about the US.

    14. Dinosaur*

      I grew up thinking that parents don’t take care of their children. My family is super dysfunctional and has some parentification dynamics going on, so I thought that kids just… took care of themselves. I was weirded out when friends’ parents would help them with their feelings or with a social issue at school. I was the one taking care of my parents instead of the other way around.

      1. Temperance*

        Oh I can really relate to this. I remember thinking that other kids were overly coddled or lazy.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I can so relate. And this one was a sleeper for me. It caught me every so often. One day about ten years ago, friends were talking about having lunch with their mothers. I was tired and not in full gear. I almost said, “Why on earth would you do THAT?” I did catch myself, “oh right, they get along to some degree at least.”

        For people who are in their 40s and 50s: At what age were you finally allowed to go outside and play by yourself?

        I am asking for that age range because the standards were looser back then. I was outside and on my own around age three. I remember not liking it much. Then as I got older, I started thinking maybe my mother should not have allowed that?

        1. Observer*

          If I recall correctly 6 or 7, but I did have an older sibling who was a whole year and half older than me. But I do remember playing with a bunch of kids on the block at that age with no parental supervision.

      3. Optimistic Prime*

        Oh this just helped me figure out what mine is. My dad is one of those men who has really rigid gender role expectations, and part of that is that men are supposed to be stoic and not show any emotion. So I grew up thinking that’s the way most dads/men were, and never really thought anything of it.

        One day my dad drove me and a friend to band practice – a friend who’d never met him before. Me and the friend were chattering away and my dad was just being my dad. When we got out of the car she asked me if something was wrong with him. I was confused and asked her why she’d think that, and she said “Because he didn’t talk at all the entire car ride!” I was baffled. I just thought that was normal. It wasn’t until later when I started meeting other people’s fathers more often (long story) that I realized that men and dads can be emotional and show love outwardly.

    15. Ange*

      Also for a long time I didn’t know you could buy cutlery; I thought you had to steal it from airplanes (back in the days when you got metal cutlery in economy class) because that’s where all ours was from.
      My dad did work at the airline so it’s possible it was a perk…

    16. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      Two for me:

      First, I spent my entire childhood veeeery preoccupied with questions around the inheritance of houses. Like, if you had a house and 3 kids, how do you determine which kid will inherit the house? It is usually the firstborn? What if more than 1 kid really wants it? What if 2 of the kids have families of their own, how do you reconcile 1 kid getting this nice, free thing and the other one having to pay for their own house? This preoccupied me until college, when I asked my (still) partner questions about whether he or his brother were going to inherit his parents’ house, which was an interesting case to me because I assumed his older, with-children brother would inherit it, and I wondered if that bothered him. He looked at me like I was a crazy person and indicated he’d never once thought about it, and that he assumed his parents would just sell the house and use the money to retire eventually.

      The second is that when I was a kid, we virtually _never_ went out to eat. We would very occasionally get Happy Meals in the drive-thru, we got to play in a playplace like ONE TIME (I think my mom thought it cost money!) and otherwise, I can remember exactly one time in my entire childhood we went to an actual restaurant and sat down and ate. Which, of course, I thought was completely normal, and to this day it weirds me out when kids have favorite restaurants or takeout places or whatever.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Going to a restaurant was an event when I was growing up. Maybe we go once a year if that. I put way too much value on eating in restaurants because of this.

        That is actually a good question about the family homestead. I can see if I did not get an answer I would wonder about that until I found an answer too.

    17. Anonyby*

      This is a pretty minor one…

      Growing up, I thought the response to someone sneezing was a nonsensical word “bleshue”. It wasn’t until I was in college that I realized people were saying “bless you”. (I didn’t grow up super-religious, so I didn’t hear “bless” being used in that way anytime else.)

      The funny part is, I still say “bleshue” on habit, and no one else seems to notice!

    18. AfterBurner313*

      My family has been in North American since 1615, and the sun always rose and shined on the XY sibling.

      One thing I hear moms of golden sons b*tch about, is once the boys get married, they are cut out of the loop. It starts with the wedding, and you get the scraps timewise for the holidays. Scraps for seeing the grandkids.
      Scraps for planning showers and birthday parties.

      How many MILs go out with DILs for a girl’s day out for buying baby stuff, things for a home, hell..just to have lunch and chew the sh*t?

      I know many women who do that with their moms. I can count on one hand who actually do that with their MIL.

      FWIW…my mom told me two weeks before she died, all she wanted was a son. Had I been a boy (oldest girl), she would have stopped. A son was to make her MIL happy. Idiot mom had girl, girl and a boy. My brother couldn’t stand her and was never around. So much for golden son.

      I had a friend who went into a serious depression after her daughter was born. Like I want nothing to do with the baby depressed. It wasn’t cultural and it wasn’t her husband. Her whole vision of children revolved around having sons.

      Sons get bragging rights. Daughters do the nursing home scut work and parent wrangling when the parents can’t take care of themselves. Your sons leave a mark in the world (which means you were a good parent) and the daughters are to take care of you…(doesn’t matter if your daughter is a high powered attorney, she still has that job obligation to you.)

      It’s a little less now, but not by much.

  30. LNZ*

    I juzt got a lovely letter from the state telling me i havent paid my taxes. But i did, i even have a recipt. I actually had my tax form sent back to me cause i missed a signature line, so im hopping they just havent processed it all yet. But god is it annoying.

    1. Artemesia*

      Gotta love bureaucracies. My health insurance company returned all my claims for an injury overseas because ‘no original signature on the forms’. The copies clearly show my signature and when I called the person on the help desk said ‘I don’t know what the problem is, looks to me like you signed it.’ Haven’t heard back again. We’ll see.

    2. Elkay*

      I got one today from HMRC (UK taxes) telling me to register via a particular web address and never to use Google to find the address. Which is sound advice if the web address in the letter actually worked. After engaging their online chat I found the correct address which was not the site I’d ended up at (in desperation I’d removed everything after the “/” in the address) . The site also didn’t like the end of my NI number telling me it didn’t match their records, despite the fact I was typing it in from a letter they’d sent me. This is my first time doing a tax return, I suspect I’m in for some fun,

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        The reason for the Google thing is that some dodgy scamsters made spoof websites that looked like legit ones but charged people money for HMRC and DVLA related things that should have been free.

        I use Verify to login as I got locked out of my Gateway account one too many times. Just make sure you actually complete your return – apparently lots of people quit before they’ve got right to the final screen (I don’t know why as I always thought it was pretty clear when I did it).

        I paid an accountant to do mine for years when I was freelance. Did it myself this time round as I’ve gone back to full time employment and this was a final wrap-up one. I loved the fact that half the questions were super simple and half were totally random questions about barristers and gardening that sounded like they were straight out of Black Books episode 1.

        I was shocked to find that HMRC’s webchat is actually really good!

    3. Jane Dough*

      I get audited locally EVERY YEAR because my husband works in a district with a distressed pension fund, and they take twice the local taxes out of his check. There is no room on the forms to account for this phenomenon, so every year I do the math the way they want me to, knowing it’s wrong, then wait three months for them to audit me and send the correct refund with a scolding letter. It makes me want to scream!

    4. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I think that my landline payments have been randomly being applied to my cell phone bill (same company, different bills) as I have a notice that I owe $200+ to the phone company. This despite paying my phone bill each month the exact same way I have been doing it for the last 7 years. Of course because it’s Saturday there’s no one to talk to to resolve it.

    1. Lizabeth*

      Yes, but I don’t think Oracle will pull it out like they did in San Francisco – the Kiwis have a faster boat this time.

    1. Caro*

      Way to go! I quit smoking 12 years ago and am still proud of myself. If you need some extra motivation, Allen Carr’s Easyway to quit Smoking book did the trick for me.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Well done on 12 years! It was actually a passing line in a book I’m reading about ocd that did it for me. The book is called Brainlock. It mentioned that smokers smoke to avoid the pain of not smoking. I know how insanely simple that sounds – and I’m pretty sure it’s the same sort of principle as Carr though I’ve not read him – but it just clicked for me then!

        1. Caro*

          It is similar. He talks about how not smoking is technically easier than smoking because it isn’t literally doing nothing. He also said that nicotine is an antidepressant and that there is a dip in happiness for a few weeks while quitting but after people feel even better than before and I wanted that.

    2. Wrench Turner*

      Great job – it’s hard work. It’s been 10+ years and I still get cravings on really stressful days.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        I think so, yes! I don’t feel like a smoker not having a cigarette like I did on past attempts and I’ve got through several outdoor events. The other day I read a line about quitting smoking in a magazine and thought: oh yeah, I did that.

        So I think I do! Thanks all!

    3. AfterBurner313*


      HIGH FIVE!
      LOW FIVE!

      BACK FLIP!


      Keep on keeping on! Remember a slip up doesn’t =doom.

  31. Artemesia*

    I’m looking out my window at Lake Michigan and two police boats are dragging. I do hope this is a training exercise.

    1. Wrench Turner*

      I thought the Great Lakes manufacturing belt being declared dead was overly dramatic. Guess not.

  32. Stuck In Retail Land*

    So, someone I’ve known for most of my life called me an ugly hag on Facebook yesterday – out of the blue, as I’m pretty sure I haven’t spoken to him in 5+ years. Anyway, said guy is also using some very heavy drugs, and by other things happening on his profile/others’ profiles (I wasn’t the only one to get delightful comments), he was using yesterday. While part of me knows he’s probably just… well, off his rocker and doing whatever, the other part of me (the social anxiety part) went “well he is 100% right, this is why you can’t have nice things.”

    Sigh. Any advice on how to let this one go? I don’t want to keep stewing.

    1. Jessesgirl72*

      Well, first, you hit the unfriend/block button.

      If you haven’t spoken to him in 5+ years, why wouldn’t you start there?

      1. Stuck In Retail Land*

        That was the very first thing I did – reminded me “oh wait this guy exists, why is he even on here?” And that was satisfying. The brain went “HA LET US STEW OVER THIS”. So he’s defs in blocked land, which is where he should have been a while ago, but I’d honestly forgotten I even had him on Facebook until yesterday, so rare is his posting.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Well, you wisely broke this into a two part problem when you said it was him being off his rocker and a part of you suffers social anxiety.

      So you handled the remark with unfriending. That deals with the first part of the problem.
      Now what would you like to do to perhaps ease some of that social anxiety?
      You don’t have to answer here. But do think about it. Anxiety can stem in part from lack of knowledge. How about reading some books that are in the areas of your concerns?

      See when we take action to help ourselves, other people’s snide remarks fade to the background. For one thing we are too busy working on our action plan to really dwell on the remark. And for another reason, if you privately know that you are helping yourself, this takes the wind right out of Rude Guys sails. You are empowering yourself to work on your own hurdles… and he is NOT working on his hurdles. After a bit that stewing can just turn to sadness, because you realize how if he stays on this path he will flush his life down the tubes but you will be okay.

    3. AfterBurner313*

      Don’t let idiots live rent free in your head.

      Why would you believe anything out of a drug addled person?

      I’m such a tacky broad, I’d probably post the finger emoji and move on.

    4. Perse's Mom*

      I still periodically stew about things that were said to me a decade ago, so I’m not sure I have anything helpful to offer, but when I do fixate, I mentally acknowledge what I’m doing, acknowledge that it’s useless to focus on that topic, and then force my thoughts to something far more useful and worthwhile… like my grocery list or errands I need to run on the weekend.

  33. Cheshire Cat*

    Has anyone else read “The Fifth Season” and “The Obelisk Gate” by N.K? Jemisin? Cannot wait until August, when “The Stone Sky” (next book in the series) is published.

    The main plot involves a woman’s search for her daughter, who was kidnapped by the girl’s father (the woman’s husband). She has to walk across the continent to find them. At the same time, natural disasters are occuring that may herald the end of the world.

    The books have a science fictiony feel to them, but they are mainly about a very human journey in spite of the futuristic parts. (Similar to the way “The Martian” by Andy Weir was, at heart, a survival story that happened to be set on Mars.) And there is social commentary underlying the relationships of the characters, making it a richer story. Jemisin’s writing is lyrical and thought-provoking and I found it so, so satisfying — at least, until the books ended! She has written half a dozen other books, but “The Fifth Season” is my favorite so far.

    1. paul*

      no but I’ve read the Inheritance Trilogy by her. Incredibly enjoyable and different. thanks fr lettming me know she ahs other books out!

      1. Cheshire Cat*

        I loved the Inheritance trilogy, but The Fifth Season is even better, imo. She also wrote the Dreamblood Duology and has authored some short stories.

    2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      I just finished The Obelisk Gate and I am chopping at the bit for August! I loooooove fantasy settings that aren’t either “YA urban fantasy dystopia’ or “Tolkien ripoff” and Jemisin’s setting is fantastic.

    3. JaneB*

      Loved fifth season, number 2 is on my kindle for when I have a decent block of time to get into it

    4. Thursday Next*

      Yes, I love all of N.K. Jemisin’s books and I can’t wait for The Stone Sky. Her writing is great and the world building is very rich. I really like her books for being some of the first sci-fy/fantasy that I read that was much more inclusive in terms of race, gender and the presence of LGBT characters.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        Becky Chambers is another great inclusive SF writer. Only two books so far, but I have high hopes.

  34. Stella's Mom*

    Hi all. So I am in hospital. Since Wednesday. Pancreas and gallbladder issues with stones, enzyme levels all over the place. Got the stone out of my common bile duct Thursday, gallbladder is going tomorrow morning.

    Good news is it happened in my home city, before moving to Wales for school. Puts my move off for a couple of weeks, but am so thankful to be here with friends to support me and my cat.

    Better news is that this is the kick in the pants to change my diet and go vegetarian, no dairy or cheese, more veggies, very very low fat…and no alcohol.

    Anyone else out there have their gallbladder out and if so, what are some of your favourite recipes now that support care to avoid having a fatty liver and other issues?

    1. Dr. KMnO4*

      I’m 4 years post gall bladder removal. I only use 90% lean (or higher) ground beef. I try to stick with white meat chicken. I roast vegetables in the oven – cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, green beans, potatoes, etc. I eat less sausage and bacon and ham. Pasta and rice are good, but no cream sauces.

    2. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      I head to the surgeon’s office Tuesday to find out what the plans are for some new friends that showed up recently…the gallstones. Turns out, I know a lot of people without their gallbladders and their post surgery lift runs the gamut of “I didn’t change anything” to “I eat a little better now” to “I can handle anything except red meat”. I’m eating healthy and cautiously until the surgery so as not to flare up that evil gallstone pain! I plan on continuing with the healthy eating post-surgery, but will allow myself a bit of indulgence now and again. Just a bit. It will be experimentation, really.

      Best wishes for a speedy recovery!

      1. Stella's Mom*

        I hope you see this and I hope your appointment went well. So far I have been home now for one day and all is going well on my side.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I had my gallbladder out in 2010. I can pretty much eat anything I want except if it’s swimming in grease–if I eat deep-fried stuff, I WILL regret it. It makes me feel sick. Plus, I have a hiatal hernia, so if I overeat I will also regret it. And reflux. Urp.

      Basically, your gallbladder stores bile, which helps you digest fats. If you don’t have a gallbladder to store the extra, then when you eat fatty food, there is no reserve; you’re stuck with the trickle that’s left and it’s not enough to handle it. Dr. KMnO4 has good tips, which I need to follow more closely because it would not kill me to give up bologna, LOL.

    4. OldMom*

      With the caveat that your diagnosis sounds more involved than mine was, I had my gallbladder out two weeks ago and my dietary changes were all beforehand. I had several stones (surgeon was surprised by how many) and I had to be very careful to stick to low-fat items before the surgery. The pain was much worse if I ate anything fatty. Now, though, I’m already back to pizza and cheeseburgers… Well, not all the time, but without painful consequences.
      These are not recipes (not much of a cook) but, for the couple of months I was trying to tough it out, I relied on non-fat yoghurt cups, low-fat frozen dinners (Lean cuisine has several), low- or non-fat versions of anything dairy, more bread, bagels, cereal than I used to eat, and lots of fruits and vegetables. Grilled Fish or lean chicken not beef or lamb. I was eating more carbs and sugars but less meat and cheese. Watch for tricky salad dressings…I spent a miserable night after an encounter with an overdressed Caesar salad.
      For eating in restaurants, a salad was usually a good choice but get the dressing on the side. Lower fat baked goods work but avoid anything buttery…cake, muffins, cookies.
      My favorite low-fat “recipe” was toasted eggo waffles, made into a sandwich with non-fat frozen cool whip and sliced strawberries.
      And, ah, beer and wine are also non-fat. Pretzels as the snack, avoid cheese and crackers, peanuts, chips, whatever fatty things you normally snack on with drinks.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Mine had polyps; I didn’t want to eat ANYTHING. That’s how I knew something was wrong, because I never lose my appetite unless I’m deathly ill. I did not even know you could get polyps in your gallbladder!

  35. Stella's Mom*

    Hi all. Trying again, first time my post did not work. Am in hospital for pancreas and gallbladder issues. Had large stone removed from my common bile duct Thursday, getting gallbladder removed tomorrow.

    Good news it happened here in my city. It means putting off my move to Wales for a couple of weeks tho.

    Also good news is I have a mandated new diet. Very low fat, no cheeses, vegetarian mostly, no alcohol. Anyone have recipes to share if you are without a gallbladder ?

  36. Iris Carpenter*

    Going to the Edinburgh Fringe for one week this year. We’ll be traveling by rail, and have booked accommodation (self catering) & a handful of shows.

    Anyone got any hints & tips for getting the most out of it?

    1. Allypopx*

      If someone hands you a flyer and says “free show upstairs at this random bar”, and you have time? go. Those are some of the best shows I saw.

      Give yourself time to just walk around, see street performers, get ideas on shows, grab drinks, etc.

      If there’s stuff you want to make sure you see, spread it out and plan it out.

      Don’t try to do so much that you burn yourself out and don’t enjoy things.

    2. Caledonia*

      Nope because I work right near most of the Fringe and am gonna hate all the extra people at my workplace and on my commute.

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        You have my sympathy, I love the festival, but I’d hate trying to go about my normal day to day life with it going on around me.

        How long have you been in Edinburgh, is it the first year the fridge has been on since you moved?

        1. Caledonia*

          Yes, it’s my first fringe – I’ve never been before although I lived in NE Scotland for almost my entire life. My work really is literally on the fringe door and I Have Heard Tales.

          My advice is not to wander into buildings where you shouldn’t. Lots of lovely cafes around the area though! And the Meadows (large green space) that leads to a lovely part of the city (Morningside).

      2. Tau*

        Hahaha, I sympathise! I did my undergrad in Edinburgh and first year I was in town during the summer because I had to resit some exams. I didn’t go to a single show (because, y’know, studying) but my death glare got some serious exercise.

      3. Cb*

        I’ll be on maternity leave for Fringe, so I’ll avoid the crowds this year but my commute already feels more crowded. Why do they walk in such big groups? Can they not make space for the big old belly?

    3. Kate in Scotland*

      Don’t overbook, leave yourselves a lot of flexibility. The Fringe app has a feature where you can look for shows nearby that are just about to start. Bring comfortable shoes and a raincoat!

    4. Apollo Warbucks*

      Don’t plan to much.

      Don’t try and see to many shows each day.

      The free fringe (free to get but donations are given on the way out) is amazing and there are lots of really good shows.

      Hang out in the pleasance court yard, its great for a drink and getting show recommendations.

      Take a chance on seeing some random show, some of the best shoes I’ve seen have been by people I’ve never heard of and things I wouldn’t normally have tried.

      Most shows have unreserved seating so depending on the show / act I sometimes queue 30 min before the show.

      Some venues won’t allow you in after the show starts (some are more relaxed)

      The Mosque kitchen does good cheap food (It’s near bistro square)

      The shows are on in rooms with no air con, they’re small dark, dingy and quite often sticky make sure to take off any coats or jumpers before the show starts what starts off as a little warm can be unbearable after and hour in a room with 40 other people.

      If you are seeing shows at The pleasance, underbelly or assembly rooms check the venue they have multiple sites and venues across the city.

      Enjoy yourself, the city is amazing with it without the fringe but the fringe is something else.

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        Oh and if your interested in books there’s is a brilliant book festival that’s worth checking out.

    5. Wrench Turner*

      Say yes and let yourself explore. Trying to fit everything in to every second will ruin the experience.
      This is sound advice really for just about every occasion.

  37. paul*

    Took a real walk for the first time since hurting myself last weekend; think I pushed a bit too far because my legs are shaking weirdly and my back’s cramping up. Saw cool critters though. Now time for toradol and alcohol and Chronicles of Riddick and a heat pad.

    I know it’s a long shot, but does anyone know a good macro lense that won’t break the bank that works with Canon DSLR’s?

    1. Jane Dough*

      I don’t have a specific model number to recommend, but I rent lenses before I buy (if possible). I really need to get a feel for them over a long-ish period of time before I pull the trigger. If you have the option, try out a few highly-rated options before making a decision.

      1. paul*

        I’m in a smallish city (180k or so) and I don’t think we have any actual camera stores anymore :/ and we’re the biggest city for several hours in any direction. We have a best buy but I don’t know if they’d let me test out lenses in the store or not.

        I mostly like not living in a major metro but there’s some downsides.

        1. Jane Dough*

          If you don’t mind shopping online, you can rent from Adorama and Lumoid. There are other sites, but those are the ones I’ve gotten good feedback about.

  38. Lore*

    Gym logistics help needed. So I finally made myself join the gym and I picked a chain that has branches near (ish anyway) to my house, SO’s house, and work. I’ve been going first thing in the am then showering at home/SO’s but there are days when I’d love to sleep an extra hour and go by work–but then what do I do with sweaty gym clothes and wet towel all day? I work in a tiny cubicle and the only concealed storage is a narrow coat hanging place; the bigger office closet is for both supplies and coats so I think it would be gross there as well. Can I leave stuff in the gym’s locker room all afternoon and come back for it after work? (But then I have gross damp towels and no chance to air out sweaty clothes, which means extra laundry, which is complex because there’s currently no laundry in or close to my building.) there’s also a small shower/locker room in my office building but it has so few lockers I think it would be not okay to use one all day.

    1. paul*

      I used to just hang my gym clothes up in the gym locker between uses so they’d kinda sorta dry, then take them home during the weekend to wash…yeah they were grody but after a few good sets of lifts you don’t care

      1. Lore*

        Did you shower though? I worry that a towel wouldn’t dry at all in a locker and then you’ve got moldy towels and nothing to dry yourself with.

        1. Zathras*

          Could you get a small microfiber towel that dries quickly, and hang that in your cube at work? A towel might be visually OK even if sweaty gym clothes aren’t, as long as you wash it often so it doesn’t smell.

    2. LizB*

      I work out in the morning before heading straight to work. I always bring a towel from home, then sort of spread it out in the trunk of my car so it’s at least not all crumpled up. It generally dries by the end of the day, and I hang it up again when I get home and wash it on the weekends. No mold so far. My gym clothes I keep in my gym bag in my car and then just chuck them straight in the laundry basket when I get home.

    3. gym rat*

      I hang my sweaty clothes in my office, on the back of a chair often – it’s not concealed but I also don’t get a lot of visitors and may have more privacy. I decided I didn’t care in the end if people saw my clothes, I mean other people have for example a ton of shoes under their desks etc. so if that’s my weird behavior so be it. I do leave the towel in my locker (it’s my own dedicated locker) but hang it so it’s somewhat stretched out. It’s not ideal but it does dry – the environment is not humid. Oh I use a smallish towel, not a bath towel, that would not dry. It will last a week or so. I am probably not the most fussy too :)

      1. Lore*

        I don’t so much care if people see them but I worry about the smell. I have a small open cube right next to the conference room.

        And I don’t commute by car so I can’t leave anything there.

        The other issue is that right now I can’t do frequent laundry–the closest laundromats are 10 blocks away and their last wash time is when I leave work. So I can only do it on the weekends (or send everything out but that gets pricy quick if you’re doing gym laundry every few days). I think I should experiment with microfiber towels and see if my gym is okay with leaving stuff in a locker all afternoon. I don’t know if that’s bad form in a busy city-center location.

        1. gym rat*

          I also don’t commute by car but I have found that if I air my sweaty clothes right as soon as I come into the office, they don’t smell so much. If i wait, even if it’s until lunchtime, there’s more of the moldy smell (and the longer the worst). I was them once a week or so since I like to do a special gym clothes wash and it takes me a while to accumulate enough.

    4. Bespectacled elephant*

      Get a turkish towel (online, either called turkish towels or hammam towels). they dry really quickly and if they are damp for a day, it doesn’t hold the smell as badly as other towels.

  39. hermit crab*

    Very specific book recommendations, please! I’m looking for a witty, clever, light-hearted procedural-type series. I have STUFF going on and can’t deal with anything complicated, deep, or politically relevant — but I want something a notch up from, like, cozy mysteries.

    Other series I have enjoyed that I think fall into this category include Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire Mysteries (the Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood books), Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series, and Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series. I recently read a few of Jodi Taylor’s Chronicles of St Mary’s and those are OK but kinda pushing it in terms of sillyness. My tastes normally run more toward authors like Colson Whitehead and Neal Stephenson, but I don’t have the attention span for that right now. I’m fine with YA as long as it’s well done. Any suggestions?

    1. paul*

      have you tried Butcher’s other series? Pokemon mets roman legions was an interesting concept

      1. hermit crab*

        Not yet. I read SO MUCH traditional fantasy when I was a teenager that I’m still feeling a little sick of the whole genre 10+ years later. But maybe I should give it a chance — I have to admit the whole “betcha can’t write a book about this” thing is kinda charming.

    2. FDCA In Canada*

      Do you think you’d like the Flavia de Luce books by Alan Bradley? It starts with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and there’s several now, they’re all pretty clever and not too serious. I mean, they’re mysteries, but they’re not hardboiled detective fiction or anything.

      1. hermit crab*

        You know, I have shelved those many times at the library, but have never read them. I think I had mentally grouped them in with those series where plucky old ladies solve the mystery of the missing marmalade or whatever (not that there is anything wrong with those! they’re just not my thing). The synopsis of The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie sounds really fun though. I will give it a try!

      1. CAA*

        I’ll second Thursday Next. I think you need to get them as paper books though because the footnotes are crucial to the plots and (at least for me) they’re hard to follow in e-books.

        I’ll also suggest Gail Carriger’s books. She’s got multiple series set in the same steampunk/supernatural world. I’m not sure if they’d be too silly for you or not though.

    3. Claire from London*

      Charlotte MacLeod for the cozy procedural. Very, very light, complete popcorn for the brain.

    4. Thursday Next*

      Rhys Bowen has a couple of different murder mystery series that aren’t overly cozy but are definitely more on the popcorn side. I really like the Royal Spyness books.

    5. Parenthetically*

      Peter Wimsey? Unless you’ve done them to death. That’s quite light, but also smart.

      Eco? Father Brown? I assume M.C. Beaton is too cozy, but would P.D. James be witty enough? Possibly not. Hmmmm… I’ll stick with my Sayers rec and then come back if I think of another one.

    6. dear liza dear liza*

      That’s my favorite genre! I love witty banter, but hate cozies- it can be a thin line. I look forward to keeping up with this thread because I’m always looking for new ones.
      I’d recommend:
      Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series
      Robert Crais’s Elvis Cole series (the first 8 published in the 1990s; I don’t like the dark turn they took around 2000)
      Dennis Lehane’s Patrick and Angie series
      Robert B Parker’s Spencer series- definitely dated, but Spencer can be funny as hell
      Harlan Coben’s Myron Bolitar series- the earlier ones are funnier than the more recent ones
      Lisa Lutz’s Spellman Files (avoid her other books)
      Jennifer Crusie’s Agnes and the Hit Man, Bet on Me
      Meg Cabot (aka the author of The Princess Diaries)- her Heather Wells series is fun. She also wrote a few YA series- the Mediator, and one about a girl hit by lightning- that I enjoyed. I think they were published originally under a pseudonym.
      Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series and Vicky Bliss books are delightful.
      Alexander McCall Smith’s Botswana series

      1. Gingerblue*

        Seconding Alexander McCall Smith! They’re funny and mostly light wihout being fluff, and the writing and dialogue are delightful.

    7. Artemesia*

      Martin Walker’s mysteries set in the Dordogne with a small town police chief as the central character. Lots of discussion of food — this is a great foodie area. We vacationed there last fall for a week and enjoyed seeing the places and eating the foods he talks about.

      Also like both of the Kellerman’s series — Jonathan’s and Faye’s.

    8. CA Admin*

      The October Daye books by Seanan McGuire. They’re like the Dresden Files books, but better written and without the low level misogyny that runs through most of his books. Supernatural PI solving mysteries and saving the world, but only she’s a woman set in San Francisco and she’s a changeling, rather than a wizard.

      So good!

      1. Cruciatus*

        Dammit. So, my sister has lent me these books. They’ve been sitting on the table behind me for approximately a year now. I just couldn’t get to them and other books kept coming up. I also just assumed they weren’t great. My sister and I read many same things, but when we diverge it’s often very different genres and hers tends to be…a little less sophisticated (which is OK, but I can’t read that all the time). But now you’ve made me want to read these and now with these, and another post about books a few posts up, my to read pile is now probably 2 years strong! And the weird thing is…she is a doctor and has time to read during her work day while I work in a library and don’t have time to read during the day!

        1. hermit crab*

          It’s so funny how we make assumptions about books and totally write them off. A number of the suggestions in this thread are things I’ve seen and just assumed I wouldn’t like, based on… nothing.

          Also, I volunteer in the circ/shelving department of my public library, on weekend evenings when things are pretty relaxed. It is common to see someone in the stacks or at the intake desk where we process returns who is standing around, reading something that looks interesting. When this happens, it is the job of whoever “caught” them to whisper, very sternly, “NO READING IN THE LIBRARY.” :)

      2. Gingerblue*

        Yes! I’ve been scanning the thread to see if anyone already recommended these! So, so good. I’d add that the first couple are a little rough around the edges, being her first published books, but her writing gets better by leaps and bounds as the series goes on.

        I also really love her Incryptid series, which follows a family of cryptozoologists who work with the urban populations of mythhical species, with bonus ballroom dancing and parkour and roller derby and science geekage. They’re lighter than the Toby books.

        1. Red Reader*

          She also writes a little bit heavier, more sciency thriller type under the name Mira Grant. :)

    9. SusanPNW*

      Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death is the beginning of a fun series. Just the title is worth giving it a try.

    10. Gingerblue*

      Some recs:

      Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin series; first one is Master and Commander. The books follow the adventures of Jack Aubrey, a ship captain the British navy of the Napoleonic wars, and his friend and naturalist/ship’s doctor, Stephen Maturin. They can be bitingly funny and melancholic by turns; the prose is gorgeous; despite the naval!adventures! framework they’re mostly about friendship, human nature, and occasional geekery about rigging methods. There’s a ton of overlap between people who like SFF and people who like these.

      C.J. Cherryh’s Foreigner series, which people seem to either hate or love. A spaceship of humans loses their coordinates and has to settle down where they can, and the nearest habitable planet has a sentient race at soughly steam-age tech levels. The two species wind up uneasily coexisting, and our main character is the sole human liason to the atevi government. Politics, lots and lots of tea, linguistic concerns, paperwork, and occasional erruptions of shooting, as assassins are a licensed and regular feature of atevi politics. When you said procedural, I thought of these–they’re the sort of book where there’s a lot of concern about filing the right paperwork and liasing with the right people to work out agreements. Give them at least two books; the first book is choppy, characters aren’t quite themselves yet, and it’s a bit of a mess. Book 2 is where things get good. Unlike some Cherryh, not grindingly depressing!

      Kathryn Addison’s The Goblin Emperor, one of my favorites from the last few years. The neglected and untrained fourth son of the emperor unexpectedly winds up the throne. (Don’t put your emperor and all he heirs he likes on the same airship! These things happen!) This is another book where most of the focus is procedural as Maia tries to figure out governing. It’s a remarkably pleasant book–Maia and most of the people he surrounds himself with are honest people trying to cope with socially and politically difficult situations, occasionally putting their feet in it, and trying to fix things that need fixing. It’s become a comfort read for me.

      Andrea Host’s Touchstone series, a self-published trilogy (later expanded with two epilogue books) following the adventure of Cas, an Australian girl who walks out of her neighborhood and onto an alien planet through a rip in the fabric of reality. Rips are something happening more and more frequently there, which is a problem, as things which are not Australian HS seniors tend to come through and eat people. The locals are humans who have a higher tech level than Earth but also seem to have bred for increased psychic powers. Cas turns out to have some powers of her own, and winds up working with the quasi-military group tasked with fixing with the destabilizing fabric of their world. Lots of action, increasing romance as the series goes on, but also a very strong procedural bent as in between fights with monsters there are training sequences and archaeological bits and schoolwork and origami lessons and language difficulties and scientific tests being run and discussion about how to fix things and interpersonal dynamics on the squads. Again mostly honest and hard-working people trying their best to save the world via elemental superpowers and filing the correct paperwork. This has become another comfort read for me at bad times.

      1. Artemesia*

        The Hornblower books best read in order are also terrific. The character development is fun and the details about the British navy and sea life are fascinating. The TV series from BBC with Iaon Gryfud as Hornblower is also wonderful. I keep waiting for it to show up on netflix or Amazon prime again.

    11. TL -*

      Jonathon Stroud! He has two YA series, one fantasy (finished), one mystery/ghost story (ongoing). He’s super engaging, witty, lighter than Butcher but not silly, and a very good author.

      1. Teach*

        Yes!!!! The Lockwood and Co series immediately came to mind. Very procedural (what if modern-day London was overrun with ghosts and only kids and young teens could train to contain them? Great theoretical technology, too) but witty and well-written.
        Also, a plug for the Harry Potter series if you haven’t read them.
        I find the Outlander series very comforting, too, somehow. Overwhelming detail, and sexy kilt-wearing dudes. Plump, middle-aged sexy times in later books.

    12. ..Kat..*

      Check out the Stop You’re Killing Me web site. They also send out an email newsletter twice a month. I have found lots of good mystery books this way.

    13. Pat Benetardis*

      Janet evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books, starting with One for the Money. Light and funny.

    14. Miss Anne Thrope*

      So this genre is sometimes referred to as paranormal romance, but I love it. I recommend:

      Kelley Armstrong, Women of the Other World Series, Cainsville series
      Richelle Mead (almost all of them)
      Patricia Briggs, Mercedes Thompson series
      Ilona Andrews, Kate Daniels series

      Non paranormal
      JD Robb, In Death series (pseudonym for Nora Roberts)
      George RR Martin, Song of Ice and Fire (aka Game of Thrones)

      Those were just the ones off the top of my head

    15. Perse's Mom*

      Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels.

      They are eminently silly, but they are also witty, clever, and light-hearted (if you appreciate the silly cleverness of Monty Python, you will probably enjoy these books).
      There’s a wide cast of characters with sort of their own sets of books, but excepting the very first two books, there’s no specific reading order as the stories are quite stand-alone.

      My personal favorites generally involved DEATH, who adores kittens as much as I do (maybe).

    16. Isobel*

      The Dandy Gilver series by Catriona McPherson – set in 1920s Scotland with a well-bred lady private detective – but not as cosy as that sounds. I like the period details which are convincing without being overdone.

  40. LizB*

    So in last week’s work thread I promised I would come talk about my vacation in the weekend thread… and then totally forgot to do that! Oops. Here’s the promised post.

    Last week, I spent five days at a thing called Queer Talmud Camp, and it was straight up the best self care thing I’ve ever done for myself. Just a bunch of amazing queer Jews learning from each other, studying our fundamental texts (in the original language! I know so much more Aramaic now than I did a week ago.), doing relaxing summer camp things like swimming in the lake, yoga, and singing by the campfire… it was so, so good. I’ve been considering upping the dose of my meds since around November, because they haven’t been doing enough for my anxiety and depression, but all through last week and into this week I feel like they’re working just fine. I’m so much more relaxed, happy, confident, all the good things I haven’t felt in a long time. If anyone here is queer and Jewish I cannot recommend this experience highly enough.

  41. Cath in Canada*

    We’ve more or less decided on a date for our upcoming move – in late August, right at the very end of the seven week overlap during which we’ll own two places. It makes sense to do it this way for a whole bunch of sensible reasons (husband has some time off then anyway, it’s after a cluster of grant deadlines at my job, we need time to replace the carpets upstairs with laminate flooring, and to pick out new sofas). So, my brain knows this is the right call, but the rest of me wants to move into my shiny new townhouse nooooooooow, damnit! We’ve been living in a crappy old teardown of a house, in an OK but boring neighbourhood, for 11 years (was supposed to be 3 or 4); we’ve been talking seriously about moving for a couple of years; we started the actual process in early May; and both transactions were finalized several weeks ago. So I just feel a bit stalled and impatient.

    1. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I’m impatient by nature so I would feel the same way! Are there things you can start doing now for the move, like going through your stuff to find things to donate? I find it helps me if I feel like I’m making progress on something even if the end result is far off.

      1. Cath in Canada*

        We did a lot of sorting and donating before we put the house on the market. It was pretty fun, actually – I hadn’t had a good purge for years! We have some boring insurance and utilities-related stuff to do (yaaaay), but we can’t do any of the remaining fun tasks (e.g. looking for furniture) until we take possession of the new place and can really start figuring out what sizes and colours will work.

        (Isn’t it crazy how you make one of the biggest decisions on your life on the basis of spending 10 minutes in a place?! And the listing’s been taken down, so I don’t even have any photos to look at – just a floor plan from the inspection. I vaguely remember that the flooring downstairs is an unusual smoky brown-grey colour that will clash with a lot of other types of wood…)

        1. fposte*

          I spend more time with most clothing that I buy than I did in my house before I put in an offer. House buying is just a weird thing.

        2. Gingerblue*

          I was like that with my first new car. I’ll agonize over reviews for a $20 toaster, but bought the first car a friend suggested as a good match for me. (Well, a friend and the Consumer Reports article she showed me suggesting a Fit as a great basic car, but still!)

        3. KR*

          Can you contact the seller and ask to get pictures or another chance to walk around? You’re paying a couple hundred thousand for this thing I’m assuming and you’re going to live in it. I think it’s reasonable to ask for another peek.

          1. Gingerblue*

            Seconded! A lot of sellers would be happy to do this, and I know a lot of people who have been invited over by the sellers after closing to get another look and a walkthrough of stuff like where the circuit breakers are, any peculiarities of the property, what’s what in the garden, and so on.

  42. Sophie*

    For as long as I can remember, my mom likes to embarrass me in front of people. It would start with little comments to neighbors like one time I didn’t know my neighbor was outside and it startled me and my mom said that he “almost gave the little one diarrhea.” If we go to events together, she’ll tell people that we’re going home and that her “chauffeur” (aka:me) is hereto take her home.

    Today I was helping her out with a garage sale and she was talking to a random family and they asked if I was single and she goes, “Yes! Do you know anyone available for her?” And I laughed it off, but it still stinks. I know it isn’t terribly bad, but it’s little comments like this that hurt. I’ve talked to her about the “chauffeur” thing before, and she did stop for a little bit, but started it up again.

    She means well and I think she feels nervous and has to feel better by turning the attention on me, but I don’t know how to process it. It seems like emotional abuse; other times it feels like I’m overreacting and need to “get a sense of humor.”

    I don’t know. Am I making a big deal out of nothing?

    1. Parenthetically*

      You are not making a big deal out of nothing — fortunately, having been the observer in situations like this, I can say with confidence that she is embarrassing herself, not you. Best advice I can give is Captain Awkward’s: return it to sender. Just let the inappropriate comments hang in the air, keep your face as blank as possible, never bring it up again. She is certainly doing this at least in part because of your reactions. So don’t react (as much as you possibly can; it’s ridiculously hard, I know). And she’s making herself look immature and foolish. Let her.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      My mother was a master at public embarrassment. I died a thousand deaths until one day I decided NO MORE.

      I grew into a person who just will not be embarrassed in public. Give me your best shot, I will handle it. And that is when she stopped pulling her stunts.

      You may have to dish it right back in the very moment it is happening. You do this by practice.
      So go over some of the past remarks and visualize what would be a good answer now.

      “almost gave the little one diarrhea.”
      You: That’s TMI, Mom. OR: I don’t think they want to hear about that.

      You: I think I am more than a chauffeur to you, Mom.

      “Yes! Do you know anyone available for her?”
      You: Mom is joking. I can handle my personal life on my own. Thanks.

      Keep going. Take other comments and craft responses. What this will do is train your brain so that you can be sharper in the moment. Granted you may never see the same remark twice, but you will learn how to think quickly and neutralize her little pot shots.
      The responses I wrote here, I am trying for that area where not too much else can be said. These comments here, kind of help bring that conversation train to a conclusion.

      And I don’t know if you have spoken to her about throwing attention on to you but I think that is a very sharp observation and you should tell her privately that you realize that is what is happening. And tell her she has to stop. “No, mom, I really mean it. This issue is not going to go away, you have to stop. Period.”

    3. mugsy83*

      You’re absolutely not making a big deal out of this. Your mom is abusing you and then she turns it around on you when you get upset by telling you to get a sense of humor.

      I’d be direct with her the next time it happens. Try to stay matter-of-fact and not emotional (I know, it’s so much easier said than done!) and shut her down. Something along the lines of “Mom, that’s a weird thing to say. Please stop making comments to strangers that belittle me.” Also, I’d recommend maybe taking a little “time-out” from her when she acts like this. Bring your own transportation when you do get together with her, so if she does this stuff, you just leave. You don’t have to allow anyone to talk to you in a way that makes you uncomfortable. You teach people how to treat you; you have to teach her that when she says hurtful things, you will deprive her of future chances to do this to you.

      I’m sorry. Your mom doesn’t sound awesome. Be kind to yourself, first and foremost!

    4. Artemesia*

      She doesn’t ‘mean well.’ She is broken and it gives her pleasure to deflect her anxiety onto you. My mother was similar. Her specialty was throwing a wet blanket on something wonderful. Just when I was on the way to the prom or had been given an important award, she would find a way to say something that would knock the pleasure out of me.

      Recognize that she is broken and do what you must to insulate your soul.

      1. Natalie*

        Nor would it matter one way or another. People can mean well and still be hurtful, and you don’t have to tolerate behavior you don’t like just because someone has good intentions.

      1. Jo*

        My mother always did/does this to me as well. Sometimes it came in the form of humiliations, other times it was just plain old insults or insinuations of my incompetence. Unfortunately, I haven’t found a way of dealing with it other than to simply ignore it.

        In her case, I eventually realized that she’s like one of those childhood bullies who put others down in order to feel better about themselves. My mother is very insecure and it makes her feel better to tear me down so she does it constantly, although just how bad it is varies depending on how she’s feeling about herself at the moment.

        Fortunately for me, it hasn’t been quite so bad the last few years, although it got pretty darn horrific there for a while about a decade ago. She had a breakdown and was not in a good place at all, and as a result I couldn’t even open my mouth without her coming down on me like a ton of bricks, just ripping me to shreds.

        I’m sorry, I don’t have any answers for you, but what has helped me was realizing it wasn’t about me; it was about her. That hasn’t repaired the damage or even stopped the pain, but it has made it somewhat easier to shrug off as it happens, hopefully with less lasting damage to my self-esteem (not that I have much left by this point).

    5. Observer*

      No, this is not “nothing”. You mother is not “turning attention to you”, she is putting you down. I don’t have any good answers for you, but please start by understand that your mother’s behavior really is problematic.

  43. mugsy83*

    I had a weird interaction with my neighbor this week and I’m not sure what to think of it. I live in an up-and-coming neighborhood with my husband and small dogs. We’ve lived her about two years. My husband has a job which requires him to travel at least two weeks a month, but occasionally he’s gone for 5-6 weeks at a clip. About a year ago, we added a security system with cameras aimed at all of our entrances, for my peace of mind, particularly when he’s gone.

    Last week we had a package stolen from our front porch while we were at work. Thankfully, with the security camera, we were able to catch the person who took it (a teenage). I had put the screen shots on our town FB, hoping to get our package back without involving the police. Unfortunately, we did end up involving the police, but we didn’t press charges or anything.

    We live in a small town – this was big action for a Friday night! Anyways, since I had posted this on FB, now my neighbors know we have cameras. Not one person had noticed (or, at the very least) had said anything to me or my husband about the cameras. They aren’t hidden, and they’re designed to be noticed, quite frankly. My neighbor came over to me and said “Don’t take this the wrong way, but your cameras are making me and my husband uncomfortable. We think you’re watching our girls.” I was a little taken aback by this and told her we are only interested in our home security and we’re not too concerned by their children. My husband is outraged. I’m pretty insulted. Are we over-reacting, or is this neighbor out of line? I don’t feel like I should have to sacrifice my security because my cameras are making someone else uncomfortable. I’m not sure how to move forward…I don’t want problems with our neighbors, but I also don’t want people to think that we are doing anything inappropriate or unsavory.

    1. Parenthetically*

      Good lord! “Don’t take this the wrong way, but we think you’re pedophiles?” I’m pretty sure there’s only one way to take that.

      I think you explain, ONCE, as coolly as you can, that the cameras are for your personal security and that, since they have already been used to foil a crime, you are disinclined to remove them based on an insulting and baseless accusation. I would also add (again, in my iciest tone) that they are more than welcome to view the recordings at their convenience rather than lobbing accusations of pedophilia.

      1. mugsy83*

        Ok, that’s how I took it too! I guess there isn’t any other way to take that comment. I’m disinclined to show them the positioning of our cameras — for all I know, they’re fishing to figure out where our “blind spots” are with the system.

        I think I’m just not going to bring it up again and probably stay far away from people who accuse me and my husband of being pedophiles for no reason. I mean, if I *were* watching her kids, would I tell her?!

    2. LCL*

      Your neighbors are out of line, they are ignorant and paranoid. Where I live, in a small town with delusions of grandeur that thinks it’s a big city, we have an infestation of porch pirates. Because of this, in some neighborhoods, including mine, security cams are the rule not the exception. Be polite and don’t bring it up again. If they do, offer to walk them thru the system and demonstrate what you are doing.

      Your only mistake was not pressing charges against the thief. Here we have heated discussions on the advisability of shooting them. Consensus is don’t shoot, not allowed to stop property crimes with lethal force in our state.

      1. mugsy83*

        Ah, the joys of a small town! The cops knew who took our stuff and brought everything back in about 30 minutes. The kid was pretty remorseful and came to apologize to me. Apparently it’s a foster kid situation, looking for some attention. I actually felt bad for her and feel like she’s got more problems than needing to go to court over this petty thing. Plus, I don’t have time to go to court over a petty thing!

        I asked my husband for a handgun for personal protection and he came home with a security system, so I think he’s afraid of my temper :) But it is nice to see who is at my front door before I open it. Sometimes I don’t feel like chasing off a random solicitor. I am definitely not bringing this topic up again with the neighbor. I think that not much good can come out of a relationship with someone who has some fairly off-kilter thinking. I wish I would have thought of something snappy to say at the time, but I was almost speechless.

        1. LCL*

          OK, I take it back about prosecuting, given the circumstances. You are a good person. I hope I would do the same, but it would take me a lot of mental effort to get there. Our neighborhood is in a tizzy right know because a known criminal was seen stealing, filmed by a neighbor with a cell phone, and the criminal punched him. Known criminal is a middle aged drug dealer and isn’t homeless, he lives here in a house.

          If neighbor brings it up again, keep asking her questions, calmly. Why would I do that? Do you believe I am breaking the law? Etc.

          1. mugsy83*

            I was trying to pay it forward for the kid. I had a pretty rough childhood, but never made it into the foster system, and I can’t imagine what that would be like. And honestly, she picked the worst day to take a package from our house. It was just some toys that my husband wanted for his “collection” that we of very little value. We are boring people, we just order random stuff with our Prime account – dog treats, watering cans, vitamins, air filters……it’s not like its the holiday season and we’re getting expensive/desirable stuff!

            I like your suggestions and method. I’ll just keep answering her questions with more questions. This neighbor’s fence recently blew over in a wind storm and they have yet to replace it. Several times since the weather has warmed up, I’ve found their discarded hot dog buns in our yard (I’m sure a casualty of falling off of the plate when trying to grill) and toys, plus the kids run through our yard to terrorize my dogs that are confined to my deck (and then complain to us that our dogs’ barking is giving them a headache!). I have seen her kids throw giant rocks at my shed and just stuff that kids do, which leads me to think that she has a guilty conscious about these things and that’s why she made an absurd accusation about “watching” her girls.

    3. Thlayli*

      Assuming she is being honest, is there any way you could put her mind at ease? Show her the camera feed and let her see that you can’t even see her kids on them?

      1. mugsy83*

        That was my first reaction, Thlayli, but I don’t really want anyone to know where we have camera coverage and where we don’t. I also feel like she’ll just accuse me of deleting anything that would be suspicious. I guess I feel like it’s a no-win situation – “thou doth protest too much” if I follow up with them and try to justify. On the other hand, I don’t want to be labeled as the neighborhood pedo! I mean, who insinuates that about someone? I’m trying to chalk it up to it just came out very poorly, but I am so offended.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      You can go back in on this conversation by saying you hoped she felt better about the cameras after you both spoke. Thank her for her honesty. Ask her if she has any more questions or concerns. Ask her if she would like to see the video that comes off the camera.

      While I understand your upset, being upset at her is not going to help. Your upset will probably cause her to accelerate her own upset. You guys are doing nothing wrong and that fact will prevail in time. Keep a level head and that will help you through this.
      If you have noticed other neighbors with security cameras you can point that out to her and let her know that a lot of people are doing this now. I think that is a chunk of this problem she is not aware how common it is to have cameras.

      1. Artemesia*

        I would not bring it up again. If they do I would be slightly incredulous and perfectly matter of fact ‘of course we are maintaining our security system, it already caught a thief. Your girls are not going to appear unless they are on our porch which I am sure they won’t be unless you all are visiting us.’

        Don’t show impatience or anger; matter of fact is the way to go. And kudos for being empathetic to the kid. Kids do dumbo things and they don’t need to go into the juvi system for every one of them. It sounds like people are trying to assist this kid; hope it works. We have been foster parents and those kids often come from pretty grim situations; they can use a little kindness even when they mess up.

        1. mugsy83*

          I think next time I’m out and see the family with the foster kid, I’m going to ask how she’s doing. I have two soft spots in life – mistreated kids and animals. They don’t deserve the cruelness that this world dishes out. And I was once a stupid kid – we all did dumb stuff. The difference now is that there are cameras everywhere.

    5. Jessesgirl72*

      That’s too bad. She is just going to have to be uncomfortable then. Even if you were watching her girls, that’s not illegal.

      I might even tell her that as long as she keeps her kids out of your yard, they won’t show up on your footage.

      Honestly, I had friends whose neighbor had a camera that WAS aimed right at their kitchen window, and they are pretty sure he was recording their girls. He also did other creepy things. The police said to put up curtains, because he was within his rights to have security cameras.

      (P.S. Protip: Pedophiles don’t only target girls, and there is research that suggests boys are targeted more than girls. So people of the internet, stop getting all paranoid about your little girls, while letting your little boys run free with no concerns!)

      1. mugsy83*

        You sum up how I feel – her being uncomfortable is her problem. Keep you kids out of my yard and they’ll never be on our cameras. My husband and I work 60+ hours a week, and as mentioned before, he’s only home a few days a month most months. The last thing that I’m interested in doing is watching the neighborhood kids.

        Your friend’s neighbor does sound a bit creepy. My cameras definitely don’t look into anyone’s house. That does seem to be very intrusive and I would have invested in very thick curtains. It’s a shame that we live in a world where we need cameras for anything.

        And Jessesgirl72, you bring up an excellent point in your PS. Pedophiles don’t just go after girls. Plus, from the stories I’ve heard about how these deviants work, they “groom” their victims for quite a while before they do anything physical. I haven’t even ever spoken to her kids except once, when I was walking my dogs and they asked if they could pet them and I said no because the dogs were super hyper and already barking at them. That’s not “grooming” anyone!

    6. AlaskaKT*

      Whoa, your neighbors are so out of line. Honestly, I’d be curious if they are doing something illegal and are afraid you will catch them.

      As for what to do about them, I’d ignore them for now. If they come to you again, the only response I suggest is that your cameras are trained on your property and as long as they stay off it they won’t be recorded.

      As an aside, if your cameras end up being vandalised, I’d look at your neighbors immediately. I had a neighbor who didn’t believe in electric collar dog fences so she cut mine repeatedly. A few harassment complaints to the police later and she moved rather than continue living next to me. Hopefully your bad neighbor doesn’t go so far, but I’d be wary. People are strange sometimes.

      1. mugsy83*

        This is an interesting thought, AlaskaKT. Maybe they are doing something and have a guilty conscious. Maybe I should start watching the camera :) Fortunately, the cameras are motion/sound activated and there are very few clips to review at the end of the day in this back area of concern. I get some cool shots of thunderstorms when they blow the trees around. Sometimes at night a bug crawls up my kitchen window and triggers it.

        I am very fortunate that we had the money this year to put in a 6-foot tall completely enclosed privacy fence. I just paid the deposit last week and we’re just waiting for installation. I hope the fence helps make this all a moot point. We will be definitely keeping an eye on all of our property to ensure we don’t have any vandalism. My husband is in the security field and he feels like this is exactly the sort of thing they will do.

        1. Observer*

          If they are stupid enough to vandalize your cameras, you will have the footage to prove, because they are going to have to get close to your house, and the cameras will record that.

          1. mugsy83*

            I hope they’re not that silly to try something like that, but that’s what the cameras are for, and I’m certainly not hesitant to call the cops, if necessary. I have pity for silly kids, not so much for malicious adults.

      2. Optimistic Prime*

        Honestly, this was my first reaction. It’s so weird to me that neighbors would not only be uncomfortable with someone having security cameras (especially when they’ve been stolen from) and that their explanation would be “we think you’re filming our girls” that my suspicion would be that they’re doing something else they don’t want to be caught for.

    7. Gilmore67*

      If it is brought up again, you can also point out that if something happens to their girls or anyone/thing in camera shot that you have the evidence….. drum roll please… ON CAMERA ! N

      Obviously it can be used for good as it did for you to catch the thief.

      1. mugsy83*

        Oh, my goodness, I honestly hope something (not too bad) happens to their yard just beyond the view of my cameras. It would feel so good to be able to tell them to pound salt. At this point, I don’t think that I’d help them, even if I could after what she accused us of!

    8. Gingerblue*

      Wow. Your neighbors are really out of line. I wouldn’t worry that other people think this, though; these days having a home camera system is just so normal that I think most people’s reactions to this nonsense would be incredulity.

      I mean. Are they going to start getting mad if you look out the windows on their side? Is there a reason you’d be watching them via camera but not in person? Weirdos.

      1. mugsy83*

        Gingerblue, that’s what I thought — can I not even turn my head in their yard’s direction without raising their concerns? I know her question is more about her weirdness than it has anything to do with me, but I’m an emotional and sensitive person and I guess this just really hurt. I try to be a good person and keep to myself in the neighborhood. We’re quiet people who work a bunch and except for my noisy dogs, we really try to just live and let live. FTR, we never leave our dogs out unattended and we honor our town’s noise laws. No barking before 8AM or after 8PM!

        I’ve even noticed that I’m nervous to sit on my deck in a direction that even faces their yard, which I know is ridiculous but I guess that’s why I felt the need to ask anonymous internet peeps what their read on the situation was and if I should do something different. I guess this was just so offensive to me that I wasn’t really sure what to do. I feel better that 100% of the people I’ve mentioned this to have said this is their problem, not ours, and I’m just going to move forward on that premise. Not take down the camera, not show it to them, and certainly not speak to them unless necessary moving forward.

    9. Reba*

      Not knowing the tone of the comments or your history with this neighbor, I think you are overreacting a bit. “Outraged” sounds way too strong unless there was a lot else going on. I actually think it’s great that you had the conversation — so often people struggle with being direct, and we complain about not knowing why other people act the way they do! :) I understand feeling insulted, because they’ve just said they think you might be super creeps, but I can also understand why the neighbor might feel a bit weird if they don’t know you well or they are just unfamiliar with that kind of tech.

      Neighbor expressed their discomfort to you, and you were able to reassure them (right?) You don’t have to change what you’re doing to move forward. Even if they demanded you take them down, you can explain your reasons and then do nothing.

      1. Observer*

        Seriously? Even if you are not familiar with that kind of tech, does jumping to super creep sound remotely reasonable? Especially when the issue came up in the context of a crime committed on the OP’s porch?

        No, the neighbors are not reasonable people. All the conversation has done is to inform her of this.

        1. mugsy83*

          I have zero history with these people. My husband and I say hello and wave to our neighbors, but we work a lot and mostly keep to ourselves. We have only spoken to these neighbors on like three or four occasions, just general chit chat. I am upset, but my husband is highly offended and outraged that he was lumped into a class of people the likes of Jerry Sandusky. I think this type of accusation is even more offensive to a man than a woman, even though there are pedophiles and molesters of both genders. I don’t think that saying we find the baseless accusation highly offensive and outrageous is an unrealistic reaction.

          I don’t plan on doing/saying anything further to these people. Clearly, to me, they aren’t reasonable folks and aren’t the kind of people that I need to be neighborly with in the future. I find it interesting that others have had similar situations, I have just never experienced anything so out of left field before, personally or professionally.

          1. Gingerblue*

            That’s why this sort of hing would really throw me–it’s just SO out of left field. When people are being just a little weird, you still have a frame of reference for dealing with it and judging whether you’re being reasonable or not. When people jump from 0 to full on weirdness like this, it’s normal for reasonable people to be left wondering “Am I the crazy one here? I’m not crazy. But wait. Would I know? Is this normal? Because when the heck would react like that?”

            1. mugsy523*

              Recently Alison had an open post about how toxic and dysfunctional workplaces really mess up and change your thinking. I related to some many of the posts. My last employer was SO dysfunctional and abusive and it really messed with my opinions of myself and how I behave. I that I think this situation really triggered a lot of that baggage. I absolutely felt like I’m the crazy one in this situation or that I did something wrong, even though it appears (and the consensus seems to be) that my neighbors are acting crazy.

              1. Reba*

                Sorry to hear that and glad you are out of there. You sound like a conscientious person and *great* neighbor.

                I didn’t mean to imply that the neighbors like, had a good point in there somehow, so I’m also sorry if I seemed to be dismissive of what they said. What I was trying to point out is that regardless of whether your neighbor is reasonable or absurdly paranoid, you don’t have to listen to them or react to them, and *you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to* to assuage them. Your neighbor is really weird, now you have more information about them, and it still doesn’t change what you do!

                Of course, I can’t know how I would react in the event, but for me the fact that they are so out there would also seem to diminish the sense of insult or make it easier to wave the semi-accusation away–it’s so obviously not based on anything but their own preoccupations.

                Enjoy your new fence and hopefully seeing even less of the unpleasant people. :)

                1. mugsy83*

                  I was asking for and soliciting opinions, Reba, and you gave me one! I didn’t take offense at all and it’s always great to have varying opinions and viewpoints from others. Like I alluded to, I’ve had some toxic years where I was told up was down and the sky is green, so I occasionally find myself wondering if it’s me and I’m the one acting crazy or if I’m dealing with someone who is crazy. (Note: Not trying to actually diagnose anyone as actually “crazy,” just using it in the generic way of “what the what did you just say?!”)

                  Mostly, I was so worried that I was doing something that others would say was actually a valid reason to make near-strangers uncomfortable. I don’t want to be that person, but sometimes it’s hard to be objective about yourself.

                  I am *so* looking forward to getting that fence up — and so are my little pups!

  44. KatieKate*

    So my city’s pride is tomorrow…. and I don’t think I want to go. The commercialization has really gotten to me this year, and I don’t think I would enjoy it. But other part of me feels like I’m just being cranky. Any other folks feeling similarly?

    1. Mazzy*

      No to be honest, I went to college in a gay-friendly city and still have a lot of connections there and most of them have dropped out of those activities by now, most citing the booze and rampant drugs they are no longer into, other mentioning that they can’t stand the EMD music they will be playing at the clubs. And this actually came up in a support group I go to, where someone who is a lesbian said she stopped going to pride and doesn’t care, and she said it was never about pride for her, but was only an excuse to party with circles that would get her free drugs. So yeah, other people have other reasons for dropping out! She said when it comes to pride, its about how you live day to day.

    2. Felicia*

      I totally feel the same (I’m a lesbian) . It’s too commercial, too crowded and I feel like it’s been taken over by straight ppl. A lot of young queer people in my queer friendly large Canadian city feel similarly. I feel like it has just strayed so far from what Pride started as and I don’t like partying. I personally feel relatively free as a lesbian to be myself, and interacting with the large lgbtq community in my area all year long, but on Pride strangely I feel like I don’t got in or like I’m being gay wrong or something. I don’t like feeling like that, so I haven’t gone the past 3 years

    3. Optimistic Prime*

      Nah, I know how you feel. I’m queer. I used to go to Pride every year in New York when I lived there, and participated occasionally, and I remember feeling that way for the last couple of years. It felt to me like a majority of the floats (especially the big, elaborate ones) were companies basically screaming “Hey, we’re gay-friendly! Buy our stuff!!” Lots of politicians marched too. I had so many mixed feelings, particularly since that’s where Pride started, but it seemed like a lot of the original point of Pride was more or less washed away (and that had become a point of contention with the parade and Heritage of Pride, the org that puts it on. I’m far from the only one who has complained about this.)

      I’ve participated in Seattle Pride and that felt more…organic, somehow. Lots of companies marched, but it was mostly LGBTQ employees marching with their companies’ swag on (I helped organize Pride for my company last year and that was our schtick).

      I didn’t go this year because I’m traveling for work, but I wasn’t too broken up about it.

  45. Wendy Darling*

    My dog is having tummy trouble so he is on a bland diet of chicken and rice for a few days.

    Or, he is on a diet of chicken because he takes all the rice out of his bowl, throws it on the floor, and then eats the chicken. What a jerk.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      The rice could be causing him to feel bloated. Once in a great while my dogs have thrown something on the floor that they just could not get down. Did the vet suggest something else?

      1. Wendy Darling*

        He’s usually fine with rice but he can be pretty opinionated — when I tried to start switching him back to kibble he picked all the kibble out and threw THAT on the floor! He’ll also turn up his nose at kibble if he decides it’s gone a bit stale, and he won’t TOUCH water if it has anything in it or another dog has drank from the bowl. It was also unusually hot today so he was not thrilled in general. (He’s a grumpy little old man of a dog.)

        I was able to get him to eat some boiled potato (I made potato salad for dinner but I had extra potato that I had not salad-ed) so at least he doesn’t get a stomachache from not eating, which is of course also an issue for him.

    2. Dog owner*

      I make the rice with chicken broth, and my dog slurps it down. She ignores it otherwise- and she’s a lab, so it’s not like she’s generally picky.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        I grew up with a lab and he would eat anything that could be reasonably mistaken for food. He once ate a ziplock bag full of crayons because he knew ziplock bags usually contained food. He also ate an ant trap — one of those plastic things you set on the floor for ants to crawl into and eat the poison. Luckily it was not enough poison to perturb a 60 pound labrador, but that was a fun poison control call.

        Fortunately he was also apparently part goat, because he basically never had any digestive issues. Even the ant trap passed through without issue.

    3. Jessesgirl72*

      Yeah, mine was trying to eat around all the rice too, the last time he was on that.

    4. AfterBurner313*

      Cook the rice in chicken broth. Give him that FIRST. After he’s eaten the amount you want, then give the finely diced chicken.

      My dog made a crime scene tossing the rice everywhere looking for the chicken. Brat dog!

  46. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    I got to go to Pride most of today for about 8 hours! For eight hours I didn’t do chores or care for my wife, who broke her leg, and spent time with a friend doing what I want!

    I just feel so recharged. If only I could do that more often in smaller doses.

    1. Zathras*

      Is a little recharging time something you can schedule into your week? Block off a regularly scheduled 2-3 hours, once a week or so, and use that to go and socialize with your friends, or attend an event, or whatever, where you can just enjoy yourself for a little bit.

      It doesn’t even have to be the same time every week – just sit down every Sunday or whatever and put something on the calendar, so you will have a time to look forward to and your wife will be able to anticipate needing to fend for herself for that block.

    2. Temperance*

      I think you totally can/should be able to make more time for yourself.

      I’m going to approach this from the perspective of the person needing care. I was really, really sick last year, and then had to recover physically from the medically induced coma/not moving for 5 days. I sent my husband to the bar to watch soccer with friends. I asked other friends to invite him to happy hour/for dinner. As long as I had my basic needs met, IDGAF what he did. I didn’t care if the house was clean, so long as we had dishes and our pets were okay. It might be time to have a come-to-Jesus talk with her if she has unrealistic expectations.

      I also think that, with a broken leg, there is still a lot she can/should be doing around the house. You shouldn’t be doing it all, especially since, IIRC, wasn’t she only working part-time recently due to mental health issues?

    3. Saturnalia*

      Really glad that you got to have that time for yourself! I’ve read some of your ups and downs and daaaaaaaaamn you needed this. May those 8 hours be a sign of many more such hours to come.

  47. Canadian Natasha*

    Just wanted to recommend the 2017 French film Il A Déjà Tes Yeux (He Even Has Your Eyes) for anybody looking for something humourous and also with good points on racism. Basic synopsis: A black french couple adopt a caucasian baby. Confusion and hijinx ensue. It’s available on Netflix Canada (since that’s how I saw it) but I’m not sure about availability in other countries. It is in French with English subtitles.

      1. Artemesia*

        Oh I love good recommendations for streaming netflix and amazon prime; netflix at least has such junk on their streaming that the nuggets get lost. I swear they find the worst film by every great actor and have that, but none of their good stuff.

    1. Kate*

      Thank you for the rec! I have been really frustrated with the lack of content on Netflix Canada compared to… any other netflix.

      1. Transitioning*

        Netflix Canada has Downton Abbey! Netflix USA doesn’t. I spent the weekend in Montreal and binged as much as I could at my airbnb pad. I didn’t discover it until my last night there, otherwise that’s all I would have done.

  48. Merci Dee*

    So, I woke up this morning to some sort of bright, yellow glow filtering in through my bedroom windows. Took me a minute to figure out it was actually sunshine. Haven’t seen a bunch of that this week. Was nice to have a beautiful, sunny day. Here’s hoping tomorrow is just as lovely!

  49. Elizabeth West*

    Okay I’m gonna rave about a new thing we have! Disclaimer: not a shill. I just liked this a lot.

    Saw Wonder Woman again today (yeah! \0/), but this time in our newly opened Alamo Drafthouse! When Wehrenberg closed their cinema here, I hoped they wouldn’t pull the building down, because it has a spectacular mural of galloping horses on the back side and it’s really nice. Instead, the Alamo people moved in. It looks NOTHING like it did before inside; I walked in and didn’t even recognize it. The lobby is done up like 2001: A Space Odyssey. See it here twitter.com/DameWritesalot/status/878650724875481088. So cool!! We have the biggest one in the country. I don’t think they’re quite finished inside yet, but when they are, it will have 14 screens. :D

    I had signed up for their Victory Club and got a freebie for my birthday (you buy the ticket online and then show your freebie email and they credit it back; less efficient than a code you can use at booking IMO, but oh well). Ours is having a soft opening right now, so the food (kinda pricey) was discounted while employees are training. They tell you to come in about 30 minutes early to find your seat (reserved) and order your food.

    I got a burger and fries and finished it by the time the pre-show ended. It was flippin’ delicious, and OMG the chair. A squooshy recliner that really reclines and is long enough for your legs, with your little table to one side, and a tiny low-level light under it. Instead of endless adverts, the pre-show was geared toward the film–a little compilation of Wonder Woman portrayals, including a really stupid pilot for a sitcom I never knew existed (hilarious). Also, Superfriends, which had me cracking up because I watched that as a kid. It was far more entertaining than the stupid crap you usually get stuck watching. An employee said all the pre-shows are related to the film, and plenty of people come in early just for that.

    Light levels are about the same as a regular cinema. I felt a little strange eating food I could barely see (I finished it before the trailers started). But it was like watching a movie at home on your comfy chair. The only drawback–I forgot my jacket, which I always take because cinemas are COLD. Oh, and the speakers are SPECTACULAR. I could feel the explosions as well as hear them! Lots of lovely bass. :D

    The servers crouch down while the movie is playing. One of my friends got a job washing dishes there and he said, “You should apply!” Hell no; this is a job for a kid, LOL. My knees couldn’t take it. Besides, I want to GO there, not WORK there. :)

    This would be a fun place for dates, though not cheap. The ticket isn’t expensive but the food is a little up there, though it was delicious. Their menus are geared toward where each theater is, and the employee said they would have seasonal stuff and specials too.

    And of course, Wonder Woman was just as good the second time as the first. I came home raring to go for a major workout but then ::migraine:: :P

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Oh forgot to add–Alamo has a reputation for this. Before the show, they put up a thing that says, “This is now a quiet zone. No talking or texting. You get one warning and if you don’t stop, you WILL be ejected without a refund.” So put your phone away and keep quiet!

      They’re serious about this; the first time I ever heard of them, they had kicked some very rude talkity texting woman out and she called them up and ranted about it and it went viral.

    2. SL #2*

      We’re getting an Alamo soon; I’m SO EXCITED. I live in LA, so we have Arclight (which has really gone downhill recently) and iPics (similar concept to Alamo) but having Alamo in town is going to be a real game-changer.

    3. Mischa*

      Alamo is incredible. I despise going to the movies because I cannot deal with people talking or texting. On two occasions I have complained to Alamo about people talking — during Star Wars, no less, shame on you — and management swiftly took care of the boorish people both times. They got a warning and were then told if they talked again that they would be asked to leave (they obeyed, woo!) I felt somewhat bad because one group was a family with young children but I didn’t need to hear mom’s on-going commentary about the plot of Rogue One to her kids. Do that at home. The other time was a couple arguing so they definitely deserved that.

      Our Alamo is downtown, so I rarely get my friends/family to make the “trek” down there (it takes ten minutes to get there versus twenty to the large, way more expensive suburban theater) but it’s *~downtown~*. I love it so much. Plus, the popcorn is absolutely divine — made with real butter!

    4. TL -*

      I don’t know if they do them in every location but keep an eye out for Master Pancake shows. They’re hilarious.

    5. This Daydreamer*

      Alamo seems to be sprouting up everywhere! We’re getting one in a couple of months (or so, it’s in one of a couple of new and rapidly growing shopping centers and it’s hard to keep track of what’s opening when).

    6. Windchime*

      I’ve not heard of Alamo, but we have something here called Cinebarre and it’s very similar. The chairs aren’t true recliners, but they are deep and comfy and tilt back. Tons of leg room, good food (and alcohol!) and best of all, NO KIDS crying or fussing or texting or talking through the movie. It’s more money but 100% worth it.

    7. Lindsay J*

      I love Alamo Drafthouse. They also do a lot of specialty programming. Last year the one near me showed a series of Kubrick films. They also have movie parties where they give you a bunch of props to use (like coconuts to make the horse sounds during Monty Python, Flags to wave, bubbles to blow, soft toys to throw, etc), sing-a-longs, quote-a-longs, seasonally appropriate movies, midnight horror movie showings, etc. Last year they showed all the presidential debates as well.

      I was lost when the one where I used to live was sold off rather quickly without warning, but now I live in close driving distance to two again and I’m so happy.

      In addition to all the programming it’s just so nice to be able to go to the movies without worrying about having someone on their phone the whole time, or kicking your seat, or whatever. I also like knowing I’m not allowed to look at or play with my phone because it helps me to actually stay focused on and get immersed in the movie.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        The second-run theater here did the coconut thing when they showed Monty Python and the Holy Grail! But sadly, they closed. :(

        I just love that flipping seat. I usually go see films on Sunday mornings when everyone is in church, so I can get the first row tiered seat and put my feet up on the railing. But the recliner. Oh mah gawd.

  50. Broken Effie*

    I am having the shittiest time.
    My partner broke up with me a week ago, and I’m moving across the country in a week and a half. I’ll be flying so I’m trying to do all my masses of laundry (I think I have 5 loads to go) and figure out what to keep and I’m so overwhelmed.
    He cheated on me for the last month and a half of our relationship. We still live together. He’s out right now with a friend, condoms in his bag (he put them in in front of me – he’s not going to sleep with his friend but he’s DTF if he picks up a woman), and here I am sitting at home with a broken heart, trying to do laundry, and the last time he did laundry he used up all the hangers so…what am I supposed to do with his clean clothes? I’m not folding them or putting them away for him. I need to hang dry all my clothes which he knows and the last time I did laundry, even though we were broken up, I still put all my clothes away the next day so he’d be able to do laundry.
    I also have a really hard time eating normally and now it’s worse so I’m too weak to function properly.
    Also I may be pregnant.
    My therapist isn’t picking up her phone. My friends aren’t available. Listening to music and reading Captain Awkward I’ve been doing all week and I need something else. I haven’t told any of this to my family yet because I’m moving back in with them and I can’t deal with their reactions right now.

    1. Artemesia*

      Why are you doing his laundry? Take care of yourself — sorry you are facing this misery.

      1. Broken Effie*

        I’m trying to do my laundry and only mine, I’m just so behind I have seriously like 5 loads to go. His clean laundry is in the way since he monopolized the hangers and we both hang dry everything. The last time I did my laundry I knew he was going to do his the next day so I put my clothes away so the hangers would be available for him. He knew I was going to do laundry today and he didn’t have the same courtesy for me.

        1. fposte*

          So take his crap off the hangers and dry your clothes. You don’t owe the dude tidy shirts.

          1. fposte*

            P.S. In case it wasn’t clear, no, for god’s sake don’t fold them or put them away. If you’re feeling charitable, you can layer them in a polite pile; my hang-dry clothes get moved around the house like this all the time and don’t come out for days, and they’re fine.

            1. Broken Effie*

              Thank you, fposte. That made me laugh and cry and was just what I needed.
              I put them in a c