weekend free-for-all – June 3-4, 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: Standard Deviation, by Katherine Heiny. As a middle-aged married person, I find that I increasingly love novels about middle-aged married people.

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

{ 1,187 comments… read them below }

  1. Junior Dev*

    Tell me about your sports or exercise lately! Especially stuff you’re new at, not very good at, or still feel you have a lot to learn.

    I recently started lifting weights. I’d done weight machines for years but just last week hired a personal trainer to show me how to do deadlifts, bench press and squats.

    One thing I’ve noticed is that I won’t feel tired or sore while I’m lifting but I will sometimes just be unable to lift more, and I’ll feel sore later that day or the following day. Anyone else experience this?

    1. Red*

      Yes! I’ve been lifting weights now for nearly a year – and I tell you what, the first couple of months I was in near constant pain.
      Just stick with it, and you’ll get to the point where you’re not so sore after a session, and you’ll find that you’ll be able to lift more as well. I am a 5ft6ish female who can now deadlift 110kg (no idea what that is in pounds or whatnot lol) – and I struggled with 40kg when I started

      1. paul*

        that’s just shy of 250, which is pretty damn good for a woman your size. Hell of an increase from the 90 or so lbs you started with!

    2. Hrovitnir*

      I’m not doing anything at the moment, though I’m going to learn to dive (from platforms, not with tanks) when I get back to NZ in a couple of months.

      I can tell you that you’re always the most sore a day or two after (generally the day after is sore but the second day is the worst). I really liked doing weights, and you kind of grow to like being sore? So long as you don’t overdo it it’s like being aware of using your muscles. :) I want to do it again but one thing at a time.

    3. DanaScully*

      I’ve lost 35lbs over the past year with diet alone, so I’m thinking I should start thinking about exercise soon.

      OH encouraged me to join her on a jog in our local park which I actually really I enjoyed. I learnt that I should probably buy some more supportive shoes (flat feet, hyperextension of the knees and hypermobility) and that I could jog further than I thought! I would love to make it a regular thing so I’m planning to read up on best technique to make sure I’m doing it right.

      1. Junior Dev*

        Ooh yes, jogging! I don’t have advice on shoes except that I agree you should get ones that feel comfortable for running/jogging.

        I really liked CoolRunnings Couch to 5k app for learning to run–check it out if you’re struggling to maintain a faster pace. I love running still but it’s harder on my knees and back since I gained some weight so I don’t make it my primary form of exercise anymore.

      2. CS Rep by Day, Writer by Night*

        If you have a smartphone, Couch to 5K is a great app. I went from never having run in my like to doing a full 5K in about 3 months. And yes, get yourself to a running store and get fitted for some good running shoes – they can make all the difference.

        1. Overeducated*

          I used Couch to 5k before the age of smartphones, on my parents’ desktop computer!

        2. DanaScully*

          Thanks. I think having shoes fitted is a great idea – I’ll have to look into it.

    4. Annie Mouse*

      I’ve taken up a kind of martial arts, going to give that a go. It’s hard work and I end up achy and bruised but it’s so much fun! And I’m going to get cycling soon so I can cycle to that thing we don’t talk about when I move base closer to home :)

    5. Myrin*

      Now that’s what I call timely since I’ve wanted to talk about that very topic anyway!

      I’m not naturally athletic (I’m quite bad at “regular” sports, the kind you do in PE) but found out as a teenager that using the machines you find at a gym and weightlifting and somesuch really suits me. I was pretty fit and even muscular in some places for the ten years I regularly went to the gym (where I also worked for five of those years).

      I coupe of years ago, I stopped going because I just didn’t really feel like it anymore. I’m still an avid and very good cycler and go hiking and swimming semi-regularly but I’ve found lately that I do miss my training a bit (also, I deal with back pain which I’ve had all my life but which was definitely a lot less strong when I worked out all the time, which makes sense) so I thought I’d like to get back into some workout routine again.

      And last week, purely by accident, I saw a friend’s recommendation of Jessica Smith’s Youtube channel and I’m loving it! She seems to be a delightful person who makes videos geared towards a big audience, both people who are used to working out and those who aren’t or who have limitations. She’s honestly like a human ray of sunshine and is always like “Do this if you want to but if you can’t, stay in this easier position!” and I’ve been feeling really motivated to do her program. She has a series on doing exercises at home in a small space and with no equiment and I love those in particular, especially this video. I never thought I’d be the type to do this kind of fast aerobics/gymnastic-with-pumping-music stuff but I’m having a ton of fun!

      1. Shayland*

        Thanks for the recommendation! Personally, I’ve always really hated gyms. I’m genderqueer and I just never felt comfortable in those spaces, even when I went with my mother or friends. So I work out you can do in the comfort of your own home is really important to me. So having a non-male and happy leader. :)

    6. Sarianna*

      I decided that this year I’d try new-to-me things! Mostly this seems to be exercise related, which is strange because I have always been a nerd but not an athlete. I started horseback riding lessons on January 2nd and barre classes on January 3rd, and have stuck with both. Also tried a flexibility class which was fun–and an aerial silks class, but I’m so far from fit enough for that, as it turns out!

      Current challenges: I’m struggling with the following hand in riding, but at my last lesson I discovered that doing a lot of stretching ahead of my lesson helps tremendously. At this point my instructor thinks I just need more consistent practice. I’m feeling pretty happy about that! My silks teacher suggested that being able to do a pull-up would be seriously beneficial, so my current goal is one pull-up by the end of the year, so I can take silks again and not feel like a total failure. ;) Barre is going really well but I’ve been tired-careless in the late-evening class and I would like to solve that.

      Registration for classes at the circus school happens Monday. I’m planning to sign up for barre, and drop in on Flexibility a few times. Summer is coming and I want to leave some funds free for kayaking!

      1. Hrovitnir*

        Go you! That’s a bunch of things to start.

        I’m quite curious about aerial silks but (a) I get motion sick and (b) I’m really inflexible so while it’s kind of a reason it might be good for me, it makes me go >_>

        1. Sarianna*

          It’s not so much flexibility, at least not early on–it’s all about core strength and grip strength. Unfortunately the grip strength is a weird thing for silks, because there’s nowhere else in life where grabbing onto vertical fabric to support your whole body weight is done. As suggested by my flexibility teacher (who is also an aerialist) I got a door pull-up bar and a couple cheap IKEA kitchen towels to practice that grip, but it’s still really hard/weird!

          I don’t get motion sick so I can’t really advise on that, but… at least at the circus school I attend, they offer one-afternoon taster classes for various things, usually a combination–I went to a two-hour one for handstands and partner acrobatics a couple months ago. It was cool to try both but also good to only spend $40 to realize those were not for me. ;) Might be worth seeing if someplace near you also does taster classes?

          1. Hrovitnir*

            lol @ “because there’s nowhere else in life where grabbing onto vertical fabric to support your whole body weight is done”!

            Yeah, I think flexibility is somewhat involved though – I find it involved in a lot of places people think it’s not because some of my joints don’t believe it’s possible to do things people take for granted. :P I am definitely keen on increased grip and core strength! My grip isn’t bad but it’s probably the weakest part of me.

            I’m pretty sure there are taster classes near me so it’s on my list (I had a friend who raved about it). :D I haven’t had the motivation to stick to anything for a long time, but my mental health has improved a lot, so if I can just stick to one thing (diving, in this case) I am definitely going to look into some of the other stuff like this!

            1. Sarianna*

              To some extent, yeah. My left knee is a POS that doesn’t like to bend very far (thanks, juvenile RA! dx’d 16 years ago). Though having some hip flexibility makes up for an awful lot. I do a fair amount of hip flexor stretching before class, a little extra after the group warmup.

              Exercising regularly, even when I don’t want to, has been a tremendous help to my mental health. Like my therapist says, the motivation comes after you’ve done it. (also true of house-cleaning, IME!) Or as I tell myself, straight out of the rules of the dice game Cosmic Wimpout, “you may not want to, but you must” (usually about laundry. I hate laundry.).

              Keep rockin’ that diving and hopefully you will get to try some shiny new things too! :)

              1. Hrovitnir*

                Aw, thanks. I like the “motivation comes after you’ve done it”. So true.

                Also my sympathies for juvenile RA! I hope you have a good rheumatologist. We did a module on RA in my clinical immunology course, and the rheumatologist who took it was the kind of doctor I would like to have.

            2. Ann O.*

              I’m an aerial silks instructor. I’d be happy to answer any questions you have.

              With the ones you already asked… motion sickness should not be an issue on aerial silks at a beginner level, but could be an issue on a single-point aerial apparatus with fast spins (dance trapeze, potentially lyra or hammock).

              Flexibility is a non-issue for non-professionals. Almost all poses will work at whatever level of flexibility a person has–they’ll just look different. You also may be surprised at how quickly you build flexibility through doing aerial work.

          2. Orlando*

            /googles aerial skills, thinking “oh, it’s probably like a warmup for aerial yoga or something”

            /sees aerial skills material

            /stares at you in awe

            That might be me being neurotic, but what are the safety precautions against falling, if any?

            1. Sarianna*

              Lots of mats! Thick mats. They’re great. I’ve fallen plenty (damn you, poor grip strength!) but never actually gotten hurt. Also, having a spotter for certain things, especially when learning, is pretty common. I’ve taken a few different classes and one of the things you learn early on is how to safely spot for your classmates for different things.

              And no awe necessary, I’m definitely Silks 101 level. ;) but it is so much fun! I recommend taking a taster class for the “holy crap this is HARD but fun” experience. :D

              I actually took a class called Circus Fit (conditioning for fit and unfit people who maybe wanna try circus stuff) at the New England Center for Circus Arts a couple years back, completely on a whim (I think I saw a card advertising it at the grocery store?), and we used silks/trapeze for some of the exercises. I absolutely loved it, and when I moved away, I found somewhere slightly closer to my new home to take classes. But there are circus schools all over the world! (A friend of mine does aerial hoop classes in Dublin, IE, too!)

        2. Al Lo*

          I’ve also been taking an aerial silks class this year, and I love it! I’m not very good yet, but I love seeing my body do a tangible, demonstrable thing that it couldn’t do before. The core strength and upper body strength is definitely key. I haven’t done nearly as much outside of my once-a-week class as I should, but if I keep going with classes in the fall, I’ll definitely need to ramp that up.

          One thing I love about my classes is that there are a bunch of us at different levels, so I can move at my own pace, but also see what others can do after a few years, and look ahead to that. I’m not doing any drops or anything yet, but some of the others are, and I see that and think that if another woman in her 30s, who hasn’t trained her whole life, can do that, I can get there if I keep working at it. And even if I don’t, it’s something fun and different to try for a while.

          We did 4 weeks of hoop, and I wasn’t a huge fan of that. I got a little motion sick, and the bruises were way worse. Definitely prefer the silks.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I love horseback riding. I always wanted to take dressage lessons but that’s waaaaaay out of my reach financially. I like trail riding, though; did that a lot with Farm-Boy Ex.

        1. TL -*

          Dressage is so much fun! My horse hated it, though. She loved Western but would put up a huge fuss every time we switched.

            1. Jules the First*

              Mine isn’t crazy about apples but she absolutely adores bananas (if she sees you carrying one, she’ll stretch her neck out as far as she can, tilt her head up, pull her lips back to bare her teeth and start smacking her lips together…I wish I had video), which is tough because I absolutely cannot stand bananas. We’ve learned to compromise with Polo mints…

              And we do dressage (her other owner jumps with her), which she enjoys almost as much as I do. We’ve just begun the very long process of learning to free ride together because I have some disabilities that make this good training for both of us; we’re making decent progress, but it will be a long road (ie, she still wears all her tack, but we can manage some reasonably complicated flatwork manoeuvres without using the reins)

            2. TL -*

              My other horse only liked Pink Lady apples and we’ve had several horses that would eat them but didn’t really consider them a treat. Carrots, though, were universally liked.

      3. Ann O.*

        Being able to do a pull-up is beneficial, but there should be many things in a recreational aerial silks class that you can do before you can climb or invert (I am a recreational aerial silks class teacher). I know it can be hard not to feel like a failure when other people can do stuff that you can’t. But I would encourage you to reframe things as “so far from fit enough for that.” Circus makes people fit! We don’t expect all of our students to come in with the strength already. Not unless we’re teaching in a professional program at a professional circus school. You definitely don’t need to be able to do a pull up already before coming to a silks class! I certainly couldn’t! (also couldn’t touch my toes in a forward bend or sit up straight in a straddle stretch)

        Door-mounted pull up bars are wonderful tools, though. If you’re not already doing negatives as part of your training regimen, I recommend them.

    7. overeducated*

      I liked distance running until about 9 months ago, when I moved for a new job, and I just haven’t been able to make the time to continue around my work hours and commute and pretty busy evenings and weekends. SAD. I’d like to pick it up again eventually.

      For now my exercise is biking to work. It’s 13 miles round trip. I averaged 2-3 days a week in the fall and winter, and this last week was the first one I biked every day. Trying to just make it my default daily commute, but I’m not sure how the heat and humidity this summer are going to interfere with that. I already keep baby wipes at work and change my clothes, but there’s really only so much you can do with wipes. (Also the issue of “cooling down” – the longer you have to pour sweat before you are cool enough to change, the less professional it is. My boss starts work at 7 AM and I start at 8 so I can’t just come in earlier to avoid being seen.)

      1. Junior Dev*

        Ugh, I feel you on the cooling down. I had that issue when I used to bike commute (right now I walk or drive depending if I have stuff after work). I actually had an issue with that after weight lifting–and I’d taken a 20 minute shower!

    8. Wanderlust*

      My roommate is doing kickboxing and she loves it. Once I get my schedule settled with my new job, I want to attend a class with her.

    9. Mischa*

      I run! I’m pretty bad at it still, but trying to stay positive and keeping at it. My goal is to run three miles nonstop by the end of the summer.

      1. Wanderer*

        Keep with it! It took me a long time to get to where I could run 3 miles continuously but it’s a great milestone to make. I keep it up now purely to avoid having to go through that building up phase again. Plus being able to just run makes for great stress relief when you need it.

    10. Lemon Jelly*

      There’s a gym/dance studio near me that does dance/exercise classes for adults. I danced as a kid, so thought it might be a fun thing to try. I’m really bad at sticking with exercise if I’m not having fun doing it. I did a hybrid barre/aerobic class there for about a month but didn’t love it, it kicked my ass every time and was more exercise than dance. A couple months ago now they had a new tap class starting that I decided to check out, and I LOVE it! It’s so much fun, and the teacher is great. It’s enough of a workout that I sweat and am sometimes sore the next day, but not so much that I can’t keep tricking myself into thinking I’m just doing it for fun. I recently tried a broadway jazz class with the same teacher, which was also really fun but also more intense than tap, and that definitely had me sore for a few days. I think I’ll try that one for at least a couple more weeks, but I’m definitely sticking with tap!

    11. MadStuart*

      I can’t really afford a gym and have been really out of shape for a while. Right now I’m just trying to do some kind of bodyweight exercise 2-3x a day, because that’s better than sitting on my butt all day. I also keep starting and then failing to continue some of the easier DareBee programs.

      I am a bit pathetic at the moment, but someday! Someday I will graduate from doing push-ups against things increasingly closer to floor level and be able to do an actual push-up!

      1. Junior Dev*

        Something is better than nothing! I think it’s awesome you’re doing body weight exercises, you can get really fit that way. When I was doing physical therapy an had a bunch of exercises I needed to do daily I’d use the Habitica app and make each individual exercise a daily task to check off and get points for–maybe something like that would help you remember?

        Also, it takes a lot of core and leg strength to do a “regular” (on your toes) push-up—i think it’s kind of weird that they’re such a well known exercise given that it’s actually pretty hard to do them right.

        1. MadStuart*

          I’ve had little to no luck using habitica long term because I’ll be good at it for a while, then I’ll miss a day or two and my brain goes “Welp, guess I’ve FAILED FOREVER” and just refuses to go back to it. It’s the same reason I can’t stick with the DareBee programs, even though their website has checklists and will track the programs for you.

          But going “oh hey, might as well do ten push-ups against the wall while I’m up” or “oh hey, I’m laying around, might as well do some flutter kicks or leg lifts or something” seems to be working fairly well for the moment.

    12. paul*

      I’ve been trying to incorporate a large kettlebell into conditionining. Unfortunately I was out of town for 2 weeks and have had strep this week so I’m probably going to have to start over :/ It’s painful but I think it was helping my squats and my back (holding a 100lb bell for high rep goblet squats is…you feel it everywhere).

    13. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Im in the final recovery stages of a badly blown back disk and am about to get back into exercising. For someone who has always been an athlete, the last 9 months have been agony in more ways than one!

      Right now I walk 30 minutes each way to work , but for aerobic exercise its going to have to be slow – I want to start by getting back into the pool – just the small one at the local gym before I move up to the Olympic sized one near me (or the Olympic pool proper). Gotta re-establish core strength. I also need to start dropping fat and getting my muscles back again. I’ve done this twice before but this time I have some nerve pain to content with from time to time.

      Ultimately I want to try track cycling this winter. THAT is my goal, but only if my lower back is strong enough to take it. I also want to rejoin my rollerskiing group and train up for a long distance ice skating race for next winter (again, that will depend on strength in the core and back).

      Baby steps!

      1. Hrovitnir*

        Oo, you poor thing. Good work working your way up carefully.

        The psychology is so interesting. My partner and I have trained on and off in muay thai for years. Go weekly for a few months, stop for nine… but we both remember when we were fighting and if a fighter didn’t come in for three days you were like “where are they???” It just takes over your whole life.

    14. super anon*

      I’ve been in physical therapy for the last 8 months and my PT recently okayed my slow return to actual exercise. I’ve been doing yoga (nothing intense, even downward dog is a challenge for me), and my most recent accomplishment was getting my fingertips to touch the ground when bending over – I’ve never been able to do that in my life. I’ve also started a running program with my PT’s consent. Our goal was for me to run 10 minutes sustained by September, and I hit that goal last week, albeit there was some struggling toward the end of the 10 minutes. Considering I could barely run for 30 seconds 2 months ago, I’m pretty proud of my progress. I think I’m going to make a 5k my eventual, far away goal.

      1. Junior Dev*

        Congratulations, that’s awesome! I went running a couple weeks ago despite not having done it regularly for over a year and I had to remind myself I’m not able to sustain the pace I could when I was going 3 times a week. If you’re trying to build up to a 5k and you go a mile to a mile and a half in ten minutes, you’re already a third to a half way there :)

    15. Ruffingit*

      I did Couch to 5k beginning in late January and tomorrow will run my 5th 5k. It was rough at first, I couldn’t even run a block without being winded. Now, I can run the entire 5k, no problem. I’ve also noticed my endurance is much better in other areas. I can climb stairs more easily and I just generally feel better.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Stairs! When I had three floors worth of stairs at Exjob, I did that twice a day for a long time. I would go down to the bottom and go up six times. It really paid off when I went to the UK in 2014 and 2015 because I knew I would have to climb a lot of stairs (no lifts in castles, train stations, etc.). That’s why I started it, and I just kept doing it. I miss the stairs, actually.

        A bunch of people started doing it after I did, too. :)

    16. Catalyst*

      I went back to the gym on Wednesday after about 3 months off. I know exactly what you mean. I wasn’t sore at the gym, just knew I couldn’t do more, and the last two days I have realized I way over did it. I’m supposed to walk or jog and do yoga on my non-training days and I couldn’t even do that.
      Start slow and remember it is worth it!!!

    17. CatCat*

      Bicycling! I’m feeling a lot more confident on city streets now. But my legs are clearly super out of shape as I can’t even make it up small hills (there’s only a couple). I think that strength will come with time and continuing to bike regularly. My hands had been going to numb while biking so I got bicycle gloves and that definitely has helped though I’m not still getting numbness in my right hand. I’m trying not to lean on it so much.

      1. Dead Quote Olympics*

        You might try this: I just had a bike fitting done by the physical therapists at our university’s sports medicine program. I get arm/hand numbness too and one of the tweaks they made was to tell me to straighten my back instead of letting it go slightly rounded. The effect is to shift your weight back on your sit bones and less on your arms. They told me to just do a posture check about every mile until I got used to it. Knowing exactly what to do to stop leaning on my arms so much has helped. On the other hand, clearly I need to be doing more dips at the gym, because I found muscles in my arms that I wasn’t using and I now need them to hold my arms up instead of letting the handlebars do it.

    18. Rookie Manager*

      I love to swim. I’ve always loved to swim but two years ago I decided to learn properly and started taking lessons. I am so much better then I was but still so much to learn.

      An exciting thing happened yesterday, a regular fast lane swimmer beckoned me into the fast lane and told me I should swim there all the time. It kinda feels like I’ve made it! I then looked in the mirror this morning and saw a proper waist! It wouldn’t hurt to do some stomach exercises but swimming makes me feel mental, physically, emotionally, aesthetically good. But feel less pain… did I mention I love to swim?

    19. nep*

      Olympic lifting. Love watching it, learning about it, working on it. Also love working out with kettlebells. Many body weight exercises and just movement/mobility/some yoga poses always great. (Anyone follow movnat? Really nice stuff.)

    20. Shayland*

      My exercise is really simple. I have physical therapy and I take the dogs for walks. I normally walk for between one and two hours everyday.

      My physical therapy is a little weird. Some days I can do more and more reps, although I know that I shouldn’t push myself. But yeah, later in the day I do start to feel sore. Same thing, if I walk extra I can really start to feel it in my lower back.

      1. Junior Dev*

        I had physical therapy last year for a back injury and I know what you mean. There’s a lot of exercises I had to do that would probably be hard for an uninjured person!

        1. Shayland*

          Like, the pelvic tilt? So easy and so good. Those stupid arm and leg raises? Kill me.

    21. Amadeo*

      I’ve been doing TaeKwonDo with a new instructor for a year, which isn’t exactly new, I’m about midway up the belt rank ladder (four belts between the one I have and a deputy black belt) and things have suddenly gotten so much more *intense*. Squats, sit ups, pushups (and I was instructed to get up off my dadgum knees and do them on my toes from now on, thankyewverymuch) and straddles.

      So in a frantic attempt to just plain keep up with all of the adolescents in my class, I’ve bought some sessions with a personal trainer, which is entirely new to me. It’s not the same as Shaun T being goofy on the TV screen. Fortunately she was previously a dancer and so did not stare at me as though I’d sprouted a second head when I told her I had a goal of actually attaining the straddle splits (legs straight out to your sides). So I have a stretching routine now that I have to do for 20 minutes every day. I have a membership to the rec that’s part of the university where I work. The sincere accountability I have now is a very new challenge.

    22. KitCroupier*

      I started at an aerial studio last October (on the advice of someone here!) and I haven’t looked back. :)
      My first class was lyra (aerial hoop), then I picked up a flexibility class because my flexibility is terrible. I added hula hooping and pole fitness in January and I just started aerial hammocks (which is one piece of fabric, rather than two like silks).
      Even with all this (and trying to get back into running) I’m still sore, or bruised, after every class. But I love it so much I haven’t missed a session, unlike the gym where I fight to leave the house.
      Just remember ‘Progress, not Perfection’ and stick with what you love.

      1. Effie*

        Thank you for this. I’ve been dancing on and off for over 15 years and I’ll never be strong or flexible compared to others, so I do my best not to compare myself. “Progress, not perfection” is exactly what I needed to hear.

    23. Nervous Accountant*

      I took a bodypump class on Wednesday. I’ve lifted heavy weights offandon, these were very light weights but omgsh so intense. At the end I was about to cry. I had flashbacks of feeling ashamed and embarrassed in schol gym class. But that feeling lasted only for a minute or so; I chatted with the instructor who was very sweet.

      I’m doing piate, spin, yoga this week.*finger crossed*!

    24. Mrs. Fenris*

      I’ve been a casual runner since high school (normally I run 3 miles about 3 days a week, and I go through bursts of going longer), but I slacked off a lot over the last two years. And surprise, I quietly gained 10 pounds during that time without quite noticing. So in February I cut way back on carbs and made dinner a lot smaller, and I’ve been working on getting back into running. I had a harder time getting back up to 3 miles than I ever have in my life. I assume it’s because of my age (I’ll be 50 at the end of the summer). I finally punched through that, but for some reason I just could not make myself take the time to run any longer distances. So I’ve been trying to run for 30 minutes and increase the intensity as much as I can. I’ve been doing sprints and hills on the treadmill. I’m NOT a speed person, so this is ridiculously hard. But I’m having a ball…it’s one of the most fun things I do all day. (Watching ER one episode after the other on the treadmill is helping too…re-watching my favorite show from 20 years ago makes me feel like my 20 years younger self all over again!) And I’ve lost that 10#. I’d love to lose 5 more, but I really don’t know whether that will be possible or not. :-)

    25. Elizabeth West*

      I’d really like to go to a personal trainer but I can’t do that right now. What I have been doing is this:

      –Walking nearly every day, in my neighborhood, regardless of weather unless it’s raining. Same route all the time, but I’ve been putting on a burst of speed when I get to the hill at the end. I do not run. Ever. Bad cartilage in knees; has been like that since I was fifteen. It takes about 20 minutes.

      –Post walk, three days a week, I do some exercises with dumbbells from a celebrity diet/exercise book I found. 2 sets of 15 reps each per arm of a rowing exercise; 15 biceps curls, and as many triceps kickbacks as I can manage (usually 12-15). Also some overhead presses, right now about 5 per arm. I went up from 5 to 8-lb weights and I have to be careful because I have impingement syndrome in my shoulders.

      –The other three days, I’ve started doing the PT again that I was given for the impingement. It helps while I’m doing it (and it makes my arms stronger because resistance–yay!) but when I stop, it goes back to where it was. I really need a re-evaluation (and maybe surgery) but I can’t do that right now.

      –I NEEEED to squeeze my Pilates DVD in there somewhere, for core work. Haven’t figured out where to fit that one in, since it takes an hour.

      –Trying not to eat so much crap. On my birthday, I got a burger, shake, and fries at Culver’s and while it was DELICIOUS, I really regretted it later. I can’t eat like that anymore, since no gallbladder. Urp.

    26. Anatole*

      I just purchased a Groupon for 10 sessions of a boot camp type place. I haven’t scheduled any sessions yet, but I am looking forward to it.

    27. Schnapps*

      I’ve been doing crossfit for the last year or so – which involves functional fitness taken to a whole other level.

      Today we did running, 75lb thrusters, 145lb deadlifts, burpees, pullups, pushups and air squats (it was a super long workout – the 4 minutes of thrusters was the longest 4 minutes ever). It was a partner workout and I have to say I am totally cooked. I might be sore tomorrow, especially in the legs, but nowhere near as sore as I was when I started. It gets better, I promise.

      But there is no better feeling than completing something like that, which you know that a year ago you wouldn’t even have attempted.

    28. Elkay*

      At the beginning of the year I took up running again. I do two days a week on the treadmill in the gym and recently added one weekend run outside. I’m now at the stage where I can consistently do 5K in ~30 minutes. I’ve realised 5K is my limit, I’ve done 10Ks previously but found it too time consuming for training.

      I’d like to do some weights but finding the time is tough.

    29. Connie-Lynne*

      I play Pokémon. There are game incentives to leave the house every day and it makes walking around the same places interesting enough that I’ll do it for a half hour rather than “once around the block, bored, home.”

    30. Mina*

      Here’s some really great advice…. Don’t tear a calf muscle! Like I did yesterday.

    31. Emily*

      I just ran my first half marathon today! I do have a history of casually running smaller distances (2-5 miles), so my training wasn’t starting from complete scratch, but I increased my mileage over the last few months and even got a little bit faster in the process. I don’t think that running is an all-the-time thing for me, but I might try another half marathon at some point.

      I’ve been seriously bouldering 2+ times a week for over a year, and I’ve definitely seen improvements in strength and ability. I started out as a beginner and can now do a decent number of intermediate-level routes at my gym (when they aren’t too reachy – some of the climbs aren’t designed with 5’2″ women in mind!), and went from being able to do zero pull-ups to being able to do three in a row! It’s fun because there are a lot of different components – strength, agility, and problem-solving.

      I’ve been playing ultimate frisbee for several years now and am amazed at how much better I am at throwing, field position, etc. than I was when I started. I hadn’t really played team sports before, so I had to learn very basic things about where to run and when.

      And as for weight training, I’ve recently started that too and am not very good at it yet. Squats make me feel powerful, but I don’t actually put much weight on the bar. I am slowly getting better at chest press. I have definitely experienced the delayed onset soreness you describe, especially after doing leg things.

  2. TheLazyB*

    Wow, early! Thank you Alison :D

    So yesterday I had a trip back to where I was born and lived until I was 11. I visited all the places that were important to me, including knocking on the doors of both sets of my grandparents’ houses. I found out that the snowdrops that were in one garden still come through. I also found out my old priest died 5 years ago (not at all surprising but I was sad to find his grave). No one answered at the door of my old house, which was a shame but ok – I would have liked to see the garden but wasn’t desperate to.

    It was really healing, after all the loss in our family recently, to go and be there and wander round, and see the places where my grandparents lived. It also promoted a conversation with my extended family about our memories which was lovely.

    1. Hrovitnir*

      That’s really nice. I find the experience of evoking memories by going to places you lived as a child a really interesting sensation.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Glad you had a good visit. I did much the same last weekend, but it was just my first time back since my father’s funeral in October. I needed some recharging time, but I also really wanted to see my childhood/high school friends. While I was looking after my dad I did get to visit them more than I had in the years before that, but I kept saying I needed to come back for a social visit once everything was straightened out and I was less stressed. I had a great time with a few people a couple of nights, and then a big group one day. It felt cathartic, as I told a few stories about my dad, but also got to find out more about my friends and their kids.

  3. Anonymouse*

    Book thread!

    Finished re-reading The Princess Bride and it’s been a few years–it is still completely delightful & yes, more amusing than the movie.

    And now I’m onto Agatha Christie’s The Mysterious Affair at Styles. I do love Poirot!

    1. Sorgatani*

      This week I finished reading ‘A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms’, a collection of the first 3 prequel novellas to Ice and Fire. Compared to the Ice and Fire books, it’s a lighter read, but still violent.

      I enjoyed The Princess Bride when I read it.

      Halfway through listening to Thief of Time, and I think next on Mt To Be Read will be ‘The Devil Wears Prada’, though something else might take my fancy before I get to it.

      1. Orlando*

        I loved TDWP. It gets into the same “losing your work/life balance and priorities” but much more deeply. It’s also hilarious. The characters are much more developed too.

    2. Caledonia*

      I just finished a gorgeous book of London in the 1960s and an American actress who goes missing, delightfully titled ‘Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars’.

      1. NeverNicky (formerly TeaLady)*

        I was lucky enough to get a review copy of that and really enjoyed it – it was much deeper than I expected

      2. Artemesia*

        thanks. I just downloaded it from my library for my reader. Look forward to reading it.

    3. Orlando*

      Oh, okay.

      The Mysterious Affair was my first Poirot and I thought it was really good. I was pretty frustrated with myself for not finding the solution (don’t worry, I’m not telling it to you.)

      Right now I’m reading The Name of the Rose, which is also basically a detective story except with a bunch of religious and historical background thrown into it, and I’ve reached the part where it starts to get good, which is about one third into the book.

      1. The RO-Cat*

        Oh, The Name of the Rose was a weird experience for me. I was a teenager at he time; I re-read it several months down the line and it was as if I was reading a different book altogether! The only other novel that gave me the same pleasure by offering a whole new book with each re-reading was the Dune cycle.

        1. Orlando*

          Dune looks very cool!

          Yeah, that happens often with me too when I re-read stuff. It’s quite normal, I think. And Rose looks like the kind of book where things look entirely different when you know what happens. I get this feeling there’s religious symbolism everywhere, and I’m not able to pick up on it. I mean, obviously there is, but I mean related to the solution.

          1. NoMoreMrFixit*

            Name of the Rose is a fantastic book. The movie was not quite as good but made up for it with awesome casting.

            The first Dune book is a classic of scifi and an amazing tale. Sadly the later books are not as good but to be fair it’s nearly impossible to top anything as good as the first one.

      2. Artemesia*

        The Name of the Rose was just so powerful. When the fire occurs I just wanted to rush into that place and save those things being lost. totally compelling. The movie was pretty good too but not as possible as reading the book.

        1. Orlando*

          Yeah, the descriptions are really vivid, aren’t they?

          I’m still in the process of reading the book, so I didn’t know about the fire. In general, with spoilers, I’m in the camp of “old things are fair game and people visit forums and sites at their own risk.” Nevertheless, could you please please give a warning if you’re going to talk about specific events in the book? I definitely don’t feel entitled to that, but I’d really appreciate it. (Also, I’m fairly new here, so someone tell me if I’m off on site-spoilers-etiquette in general.)

    4. GiantPanda*

      Just finished “His Majesty’s Dragon”, first volume of Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series. It’s an alternate history version of the Napoleonic Wars, with an air force consisting of Dragons.
      It’s as fun as it sounds.
      Lovely and funny and heartbreaking and entertaining… the scene with all the Dragons going swimming…
      Forget cats, I want one of these!

      1. TL -*

        She’s so excellent! I loved that series and her standalone was great too!
        The series ends up taking the reader all over the world and I loved the deep dives into other alternative history cultures.
        Also excellent on the themes of dragons and traveling the world is Marie Brennan’s Memoirs of Lady Trent series (still ongoing.)

      2. Liane*

        His Majesty’s Dragon sounds cool. Must read this.

        @GiantPanda, if you want more dragons, who are nicer and way cooler than the GoT type, check out Anne MacCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern if you haven’t.

        1. Connie-Lynne*

          I would recommend sticking to the first three books in the YA Pern series, if you’re looking for nice dragon books.

          The adult series, and later YA novels, have a lot of questionable issues around consent and inappropriate power dynamics. I was disappointed revisiting them as an adult.

      3. Amadeo*

        I have all of those. You’ll struggle a little bit through the later books, but it’s worth it to get to the last one, which recaptures what entertained you so in the first one.

        I really hope that there are more dragon stories coming from her in the future!

        1. Gingerblue*

          Oh, that’s good to know. I found the last one I read so depressing that I never got around to the final volume, and I loved the early ones.

      4. AcademiaNut*

        I quite enjoyed this series. Later books go really deep into alternate history, and issues of slavery and the treatment of dragons.

        I recently read Jasper Fforde’s Last Dragonslayer books (the series isn’t complete yet) and quite enjoyed them. They’re also in an alternate-universe England, but are completely different in tone to the Novik books (more on the completely bonkers end of the spectrum).

    5. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Working my way through the Inheritance Trilogy by NK Jemisin. I bought the whole trilogy + novella as one big omnibus volume, and I love it — nice hugenormous book that I can sink my teeth into properly!

      1. I'm Really an Artist*

        I’m reading Inheritance, too. Gulped down the first two books so I’m trying to savor the rest while I wait for the next Broken Earth book to be released. Not till August!

    6. ZSD*

      I just read and loved Anna Kendrick’s _Scrappy Little Nobody_. The only problem is that I laughed so hard I started choking and thought I was going to die on an airplane.

    7. Jessesgirl72*

      I’ve been reading a compilation of My Father’s Religion, Life with Father, and My Mother’s Religion- the three books by Clarence Day Jr that the movie My Life With Father was very loosely based on. The first two books were primarily themselves a compilation of articles he’d written for magazines, so they make perfect before-bed reading.

    8. Graphic Designer*

      Rereading Like Water for Chocolate and finding myself wishing to make all the recipes in it – quail with roses petals anyone? Am thinking to find more of Laura Esquirl’s books at the library to see what else she’s written.

    9. The Other Dawn*

      Hard Kill by J.B. Turner. It’s the second book in the Jon Reznick series. Jon is a black-ops specialist. The first book, Hard Road, was good. I just started Hard Kill, so I can’t comment yet. The only annoyance is little editing issues sometimes, like missing or wrong words. Not horrible, though. I’ve never read this author before, and the only reason I started was because I completely forgot that I’m paying for Kindle Unlimited and wanted to start using it. Pretty good so far.

      I’ve been wanting to read Stephen King’s Dark Tower series–I started and then abandoned it many years ago–but every digital copy in the library is taken and the wait list is enormous.

    10. Book Lover*

      Ilona Andrews new book, White Hot. Suffers from an unfortunate cover, but wonderfully readable, looking forward to reread this weekend :)

    11. paul*

      been reading the Stormlight Archives the last week. Interesting books. But hugely over long.

    12. Liane*

      I love The Princess Bride movie, but I have tried several times to read the novel, but never get far, something about the writing style, I think, or the way the framing story is handled. It just comes off as awkward.

      Most recent books I have read:
      The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher. Her memoir of filming the original Star Wars movie is wonderful, also poignant when I realized that she had no idea how little time she had when she was writing it.
      I think it is cleaner than Wishful Drinking but still R rated. Lots of things to laugh about.
      I didn’t find the journal excerpts (there’s a large section of them), written while filming Star Wars, very compelling or interesting. Maybe I am too far removed from the teen I was when the movie came out?

      Ahsoka by E. K. Johnston. A novel about the life of former Jedi Ahsoka Tano between the Clone Wars and Rebel TV series. It’s officially a Teen book per Amazon, but quite suitable for grown-up fans too.

      Next up: probably a role playing game rule book. There’s some new ones I have borrowed.

      1. Amadeo*

        Ahsoka has become one of my favorite Star Wars characters, along with Obi-Wan, our delightful and beloved troll. I liked that book’s little tale of Ahsoka’s transition from hiding to covert operative. And the lightsaber thing. I love me some lightsaber lore almost as much as Harry Potter wandlore.

    13. CatCat*

      I’m reading a book called “India Black” and it’s a super fun read. It’s about a madam in Victorian London who basically gets involved in some international intrigue/espionage. It is just a lot of fun.

      1. brightstar*

        Ooh, I’ll need to add that to my reading list!

        I’m currently re-reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I’m watching the show and enjoying it but can’t remember who is who, how it compares to the novel, etc.

    14. The IT Manager*

      I recently finished All Our Wrong Todays. It was great. It’s got some time travel but that is not what the book is about. It’s more about family and relationships.

      Highly recommended.

    15. Shayland*

      I just finished “The Power of Habit”, which is a really great book. I still haven’t sat down and wrote out how I’m going to implement the ideas in the book for a healthier, more productive life, but I can already tell it’s making a huge difference.

      I’m currently working on Ptolemy’s Gate which is part of the Bartimaeus Trilogy. There are a lot of books that I listened to as a kid that were part of larger series that I never finished. It’s been on my mind for a few years that I should go back and listen to the ones I really liked.

      I’m really enjoying this Trilogy. I love that character Bartimaeus, its personality is incredible. And I love that all the demons don’t really have genders. The world building is amazing, and this particular book finally introduces the character of Ptolemy properly, and I’m finding that he is just how I would imagine myself if I was in that world. I love it! As all ways the plot and narration are gripping.

      1. The RO-Cat*

        If you liked “The Power Of Habit” maybe you’ll enjoy also “Small Move, Big Change” by Caroline Arnold. You can also try Switch: Hoe To Change Things When Change Is Hard, by Chip and Dan Heath. And maybe The Telomere Effect, by Elizabeth Blackburn and Elissa Epel.

        1. Shayland*

          “Small Move, Big Change” seems right up my ally. I actually just moved a month ago, and have been using that as a way to tackle a lot of my bad habits. And my new space is so much better than my old one. I went from a studio apartment to a two bedroom. My sleep hygiene is so much better because of it, I can do art in one room, do computer work in another, and sleep in the third! It’s just incredible!

          I’m sure the other books will be great too. A big part of my therapy right now is figuring out Life Skills. As I just had a really bad health crises where so many things cleaning and hygiene wise slipped that it was mandated no one live in my old apartment until it could be cleaned.

          … Uh… That feels weird to share, but I’m sticking by it. Thanks for the recs and for listening!

          1. The RO-Cat*

            Nah, no need for thanks. We all have our own struggles. The least we can do is listen, connect, have compassion. We’re all human, after all.

            Maybe later you’d like to try mindfulness meditation. For example, in quitting smoking – and staying quit, that is – there’s a golden standard method called Freedom From Smoking. According to Judson Brewer, director of the Therapeutic Neuroscience Laboratory at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and author of “The Craving Mind: From Cigarettes to Smartphones to Love – Why We Get Hooked and How We Can Break Bad Habits”, mindfulness meditation smashed the golden standard as far as results go. I’ve seen that info on bakadesuyo – dot – com (How To Kill Bad Habits With Mindfulness).

            Now, mindfulness is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I guess it never hurts to try.

            1. Shayland*

              Thanks for saying what you did, I found it really touching.

              I actually do do mindfulness meditation already! Sometimes I find it really weird and difficult in terms of body sensation. It sometimes feels like I’m dissociating, but not as bad. Other times it’s incredible. Most of the time it really helps me to go to sleep, and getting into a semi regular habit reminds me to reconnect with myself throughout the day. Take a deep breath, see how I’m feeling, think about if there’s anything I need or should do. That sort of thing.

              I haven’t heard of those resources, I think they’ll be an interesting read. :)

      2. AdAgencyChick*

        “The Power of Habit” is excellent. I read it right when it came out and it still sticks with me that it’s much easier to replace a bad habit with a good or neutral one than it is to just stop the bad habit.

        His newer book, “Smarter Faster Better,” I found much less useful.

    16. Lightly-chewed Jimmy*

      just finished Seanan McGuire’s ‘Indexing’ and starting a re-read of Anne Bishop’s ‘Marked in Flesh’.
      I really enjoyed ‘Indexing’ – ‘the story’constantly tries to force it’s way into the world via fairy tale incursions (ie, we have a developing Rapunzel situation downtown) and our POV is part of the agency that deals with them.
      I less-than-3 Bishop’s ‘The Others’ series (I think this one’s book 3?). It’s an AU with an interestingly different take on vampires/werebeasts/humans and all our places in the world.

      1. Red Reader*

        Seanan McGuire (and her nom de plume Mira Grant) is one of my favorite authors. Indexing was so good. :)

        1. Connie-Lynne*

          It’s so weird! I find Seanan unreadable when she publishes under that name but really love her Mira Grant writing! I was shocked a while back to find out they are the same person!

          1. Bluebell*

            I tried to read a Seanan title last week but could finish it. Loved the Feed trilogy though!

    17. katamia*

      My interlibrary loan requests all clumped weirdly, so I’ve been reading a lot of Chetan Bhagat (popular Indian author) this week to try to finish them before the due dates. Not sure what I’ll read after that. I work at a used bookstore and have picked up a lot of classical authors like Livy, Herodotus, etc., and I’ll probably go to one of those next.

    18. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I just finished reading Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine. It’s one of the Kindle First choices for July so Prime members can get it free right now and it will be released on July 1st for purchase.

      It’s a really gripping psychological thriller that does a good job of not being too predictable. The narrator’s fear is palpable and the general concept of the story is horrifying.

    19. MsChanandlerBong*

      I write study guides and other content for an educational company, so most of my leisure reading is of the fluffy/not-too-deep variety (b/c I read and write about technical topics all day long). I just finished #14 in the Savannah Martin mystery series, and now I am reading a thriller by Mary Burton. I’ve been so busy with work that I am not sure I will meet my goal of 50 books this year (I’m on #27 now, so maybe I will–it depends on how busy I am the rest of the year!).

    20. Lady Jay*

      Working on The Evangelicals, a nonfiction book chronicling the entire history of American evangelicalism (yes, it actually goes way back to the two Great Awakenings). Compelling, well-written . . . but so long that I picked up Pride and Prejudice for the umpteenth time, just so I’d have something lighthearted at hand too.

    21. Elizabeth West*

      Almost done with the Earth’s Children series; I’m on the last book now, The Land of Painted Caves. I’d love to write a huge historical epic like this someday, though I doubt I could beat Ayla and Jondalar’s adventures. :)

      Soon on to Lincoln Child’s new one. Plus I have a ton of stuff on my Kindle.

      1. Liane*

        I didn’t realize there was another Earth’s Children. I read the 3 or 4 that were out when I was in college years ago. They were good. I actually used one of them for a Composition & Argumentation course in community college. The professor, a pretty liberal, relatively young man had a standard assignment–pick something off the Banned Book List*, read it, and write an essay on why you think it was banned. I admit I picked the book not just because I liked the series but I also wouldn’t have to strain my brain much because it was SO obvious why it had been banned someplace, or likely a lot of places:
        Characters didn’t worship the God of the Christians, or at least of the Hebrews
        All. That. “Promiscuity” all over the place
        And worst of all, no doubt, it sure didn’t push creationism

        *in the USA, a list of books banned by libraries, schools, etc. at some point. Public libraries often have displays and other events during the annual Banned Books Week to publicize the List

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I’m quite familiar with the ALA’s banned books list! I do a blog post about it every year. It’s my fondest ambition for one of my books to make that list. :D

    22. Red Reader*

      I just saw a trailer for a movie version (with a huge stellar big name cast list!) of Murder on the Orient Express coming out in a few months.

    23. Mephyle*

      I’m reading The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz, which I learned about here. Thanks, commenters who mentioned it!
      Before that I read The Giles Wareing Haters’ Club by Tim Dowling. I had been looking forward to it because I admire Tim Dowling’s weekly column in the Guardian, and the preview of the book suggested it would be similar to his column. It was, but it was even better! It made me laugh out loud (twice!) and cry, too. The set of novels that make the reader both laugh and cry is small and select.
      Before that I read We Die Alone by David A. Howarth, a WWII amazing-survival-in-the-snow story. Awesome!

  4. DanaScully*

    Hello from Greece! We are spending a week in beautiful Kos and the sun is shining. I hope you’re all having a lovely weekend.

    Does anyone have any advice on writing? I would like to get into it more as it’s something I really enjoy. I would love any tips from those who may also write, and also any information on self publishing via Amazon or similar. I think my downfalls at the moment are that I don’t dedicate any time to writing and also that I sometimes hit dead ends where I don’t know where to take a story next. Thanks!

    1. Fictional Butt*

      For dead ends, one very useful piece of advice I’ve heard is to stop each writing session when you still know what you’re going to write next, instead of writing until you hit a block. That way your brain will be working on it in the meantime, and you’ll be able to pick up and continue where you left off more easily.

    2. Definitely Anon*

      I’ve been wanting to write more and get into self publishing on Amazon (I’m the anon who posted a few weeks ago on the weekend thread about wanting to write erotica stuff and publish on Amazon). I haven’t actually started the writing of said erotica but I did get a notebook and wrote down some ideas that were tumbling around my head. I think I’ll have some time this weekend to do some legit writing.

      I feel you about not having enough time to write. I’m thinking of adding an iPad to my birthday wish list so that I can type on my lunch break at work. I can’t write for long periods of time by hand and I’m faster at typing so I’m hoping having a digital way to do it will help.

    3. Nottingham*

      I love writing! I support you wholeheartedly in writing more -so where to start? ;)

      Camp NaNoWriMo is coming up in July, and that’s a good place to start. Free, online, writing solo or in groups, with busy resource and advice forums. Low pressure, as far as project-choice and word-count goes. Do what you want, and if you don’t have a pre-planned project, don’t worry: it doesn’t have to be good, and you don’t have to share what your write with anyone unless you want to.

      NaNoWriMo’s sites have been going for years, and they have resources that they just email to you and really active forums. The sites are up year-round and they’re already ramping up now, so you can sign in now and look around. You can also arrange face-to-face meet-ups with other writers through the forums, if there’s a group in your area. (If there isn’t a meet-up, you can set one up. I did that year before last! Just need a local coffee shop or similar with free wi-fi, available plug sockets, and bring a multi-socket extension lead.)

      I use 750Words.com, which encourages you to build a habit of writing 750 words each day (you get medals!). I also created a writing twitter that I use to follow hashtags like #writingtips #iamwriting #1k1hr or #nano and #campnano, and add my favourite authors.

      As for the practicalities of writing, google Writing 10k In A Day by Rachel Aaron, and also How Not To Write A Novel (great holiday read, because it’s all short sections and quite light-hearted) written by an editor who’s had to read lots of peoples idea of the ‘Next Great Novel!’. There are other books to read, but honestly – NaNo has booklists, and advice threads on writing software and/or journals and so on.

      You may not want self help for creative blocks, but if you do, maybe try Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way (based on a 12-step recovery program, with some Christian spirituality, so it won’t suit everyone). Julia Cameron is one of those people who recommends Morning Pages (daily journalling), but it also has a lot of exercises. It’s more ‘give yourself permission to create’ than technical writing advice.

      There’s also fanfic? It’s fun, it’s free, it’s the ultimate in low-pressure, and you can develop a circle of fellow writers, readers and friends if you put some effort in to finding an environment that suits you. Fanfiction communities can be very supportive for writers. Anyone can write fanfiction, and it doesn’t have to be good as long as everyone’s having fun. It’s way too complicated for me to explain 40+ years of history and all the different sites and communities, so here’s a link: http://fanlore.org/wiki/Fanfiction

      Good luck :)

    4. JKP*

      I keep a separate file with 1) a list of all the characters I’ve introduced so far and their main goal/agenda. Then when I’m stuck in the storyline, I look at the character list and think about what each one might be doing while the action from the previous chapter happened or how they might react to it or what they plan to do next to further their own goal. 2) a list of all hanging plot threads. Then whenever I’m stuck, I look at the threads I’ve opened in previous chapters but not closed yet, and sometimes I might write flashbacks or future scenes that fill in those gaps even if that means I start writing the climax of the book before I’m even 1/3 of the way through. 3) A timeline of events written so far, as well as any future plot points already decided. Again, when stuck, I’ll write a future plot point.

      Also, personally I found it useful to have a small audience reading each chapter as I went, so I felt some pressure to finish something I could show them everyday.

    5. Junior Dev*

      You should check out the Story Hospital blog–it’s written by a writer/editor and has advice about the fiction writing process.

    6. BeautifulVoid*

      I write, definitely more as a hobby than any sort of a job. I mostly write romance/erotic romance, and I have experience with both small to mid-sized e-publishers and self-publishing. There are pros and cons to both, but for me, I prefer working with a publisher. To be honest, though, my forays into self-pubbing were smaller projects, more of a “Can I do this? What’s it like?”, and I didn’t spend as much time publicizing them as my other books. It’s true that self-pubbing lets you be more in control with certain aspects, but for me, I’m perfectly happy to turn things like cover design, formatting, and distribution over to the professionals.

    7. DanaScully*

      Thank you all so much for the replies. You’ve all given me lots of info and resources to go forward with. I’m so excited to begin!

  5. Audiophile*

    After a long search, I think I’ve finally found a decent apartment! Yay! It’s a 1br in Ossining, that’s not going to cost me an arm and a leg. I’d like to try and see if rent is at all negotiable, but I’ll take it regardless. Now, in the process, because the apartment hunt was so long and largely unsuccessful until recently, I decided to check out Rocket Mortgage and see if I could qualify. I did and was pre-approved. I’m thinking about letting it go, because I really do need to pay down my debt and develop better money management skills before I take on a mortgage. I know if I paid down more debt, I’d qualify for a better loan, but it’s exciting to know that owning property isn’t a total pipe dream.

    I had been hoping to be able to move to a place where the train was in walking distance and get rid of my car, but this apartment I’m likely going to rent isn’t close enough to any particular train station. So I’m considering, selling my car and leasing something since I won’t be putting much mileage on a new car. I have about 2 years left on my car loan and my car payment plus insurance eats up a lot of my salary.

    I know YNAB has been recommended here but I really don’t want to spend money to help me manage a budget. I think someone also recommended the snowball method (not sure if that’s what it’s called) where you pay off smaller balances and then start paying off larger balances. Can anyone recommend any other free options? I used to love a site called Ready For Zero, but they shut down a while back. Ideally I’d like something with a mobile app.

    1. Raffaela*

      Hi! I understand completely the thing about not wanting to pay money to manage debt, but YNAB is awesome(had it 6 months and it helps me feel in control of my money). I know really know how much exactly I can spend on things and stopped fighting with my partner on that, now it’s just out working out budgets. You can try one month free as a start. Good luck!

    2. Ella*

      Goodbudget! I use the free version- it has a website & app. You get I think 10 “envelopes” for free. You input whatever you spend, and you can see the amount you have left in a category.
      You can also transfer between categories if needed.

      I have it set up where it auto populates with my pay twice a month & autoreplenishes my various envelopes with a set amount. I’ve also set some recurring auto debits so I don’t have to record those (things like my automated savings).

      I love it! I enter expenses as I spend them, so I always have a clear idea of how much is left in the grocery budget.

    3. LadyKelvin*

      Mint .com is totally free and great for budgeting. It pulls all your bank account information plus loans, investment accounts, etc into one place (it has read only access so if it gets hacked the hackers can see your money but can’t do anything with it. And it doesn’t save your account numbers, etc.) Then you can make a budget and categorize all your purchases based upon your budget. We use it first to find out how much we spend each month on things like groceries which can be hard to estimate, then fill in all our other expenses and see what we have left and if we need to cut costs anywhere. It also allows you to set up goals and put money in savings toward those goals each month which is included in your budget. We like it because we use credit cards for everything and pay them off every month. But since they are recorded in mint on the date they are made it goes against the budget for the month in which we spent the money. So we never have to worry if there is enough money to pay the credit card the next month because we already “spent” that money according to our budget, even though it is still in our account. And Mint’s mobile app is pretty good.

      1. Audiophile*

        I used to use Mint, but stopped for various reasons. And now it just regularly sends me emails that it can’t connect to my accounts. I’ll try clearing everything out and using it again.

        My main goal in this is to start paying off credit card debt, paying off some small balance cards for quick relief and then start attacking the larger balances. Since my car, car insurance, rent, and travel expenses will be set amounts, those are easier to account for.

        1. something*

          The most efficient way to pay off debt (pay minimum interest) is to pay the highest-APR debt first while paying minimum amounts on the rest. The snowball method says to pay off the smallest debt first but this is less efficient than paying the highest-APR one first. For some people, paying debt is a psychological struggle. The rationale for paying smallest debt first is to give the debtor a sense of accomplishment in a relatively short time to encourage continued debt payment. It may help psychologically but it is less efficient. Your choice.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            Totally agree…BUT, if there is any question about motivation/momentum, the snowball method is better at keeping people on the plan, as it’s more motivational. Me, once I start a habit I stick to it come hell or high water, so I also used to pay off the debt with the highest interest rate. That worked fine for me, because I am motivated by calculating, finding, and sticking to the plan that gives the best results. I think it really depends on how concerned you are with sticking to a plan.

            1. fposte*

              Yes, in finance there’s often the best choice given a rational actor vs. the choice that has the best outcomes since most of us aren’t rational actors :-). Totally agree that the best plan is the one you’ll stick to–it’s like a health habit in that respect.

            2. Artemesia*

              yeah, if you are the sort who makes a to do list and includes a couple of things you have already done so you can cross them off, then the snowball is the best bet. Plus by dispatching small piddly debts, you reduce the number of things you have to deal with and things are less likely to fall through the cracks. But whatever works for you is best.

          2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            It isn’t necessarily that paying off the smallest debt is always less efficient. When you have a wide disparity in the amounts of debt, it can make sense to eliminate the small debts quickly in order to roll the minimums you were paying them into the larger/higher APR debts more quickly.

            1. fposte*

              I get the psychological sense of that, but I think it’s unusual for that to be mathematically true–if you have an extra $50, you’ll get a better return from putting that $50 toward the debt at 30% than the debt at 6%.

              1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

                But on the other hand, if you’ve got one card at $500 and one at $6,000, it doesn’t make sense to continue paying $25/mo and accruing interest on the $500 card when you could knock that down in a couple months and put that minimum payment toward the larger debt.

                What actually pays down debt is what you pay over the minimum – minimum payments are calculated to take almost nothing off the principal. Reducing the number of minimum payments you’re making will get a faster payoff in the end.

                1. fposte*

                  From a psychological standpoint, I agree that can be the case. But unless you’re talking some kind of graduated APR brackets arrangement (and assuming we’re still paying off everything to avoid extra penalties), it’s not true financially. The interest accrued on that $6k @30% while you’re paying off the $500 @6% debt will exceed the benefits of doing larger payments on the $6k later. That’s compounding for you–it’s the same reason why it’s better to contribute small amounts early to retirement than to hold off until you can put in larger amounts later.

                  I’ll post in followup an article on this very thing; the psychology definitely convinces a lot of people that it’s financially better to pay off a small debt in full first, but (again, assuming a rational actor) it’s not actually financially better.

                2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

                  I’m not convinced (and your article didn’t touch on) that minimum payment calculations tend to be scaled toward keeping people perpetually in debt, and therefore are highly inefficient for actually paying anything off. The snowball method is based on the notion that you’re not paying off anything that you’re making minimum payments on; you’re just keeping them from going into default. Spending years making smaller payments on a large debt because you’re married to not eliminating a small one seems counterintuitive compared to quickly wiping out a small one and letting 100% of the payment you would have put on it be above-the-minimum payments for the large debt.

                3. fposte*

                  If your debt charges APR differently on principal and interest, what you say is true. But that’s unusual; absent fees or penalties, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve got two debts or six, or whether your debt is mostly principal or interest, or what the minimum payment is (again, setting aside fees); it’s the effect of this payment against your total debt amount that matters. It’s better to lower a high APR debt by $150 even if it means your low-APR debt goes up by $5, because you’re still better off overall. That’s why the article doesn’t address the fact that interest can outstrip payments–because it doesn’t matter to the overall point.

                4. The Cosmic Avenger*

                  I think what you’re missing is that we’re not saying don’t pay the minimum, let’s assume you’re paying that no matter what. It’s what you do with the money above the minimum that matters. So I’m going to expand on fposte’s example: $6K @30%, $500 @ 6%. Let’s say the minimum payments are $60 and $5, respectively. You have $100/month to put towards debt. $65 is going towards the minimums no matter what, but you have another $35 to put towards paying down either. Knocking $35 off the principle of a 30% debt is going to save you more in interest payments than paying down $35 of a %6 debt. You see that, right? The same amount can go towards either debt, and one debt costs more than the other. It doesn’t matter how quickly you eliminate a debt, it’s a total of $6500 in debt, but some of that gathers interest at a much higher rate than the rest. If you pay that $35 towards the $500 debt, you are not putting it towards the $6K debt, and so you will carry more debt at 30% than you would under what fposte and I are suggesting.

                5. fposte*

                  @Cosmic–right, exactly. Now it doesn’t always make *much* of a difference–I suspect the plan-you’ll-stick-with factor is more important than which path is theoretically more effective–and the surgical neatness of no fees or penalties and one large high-interest debt and one small low-interest debt is probably not the most common scenario. But I thought it was interesting that the study (which includes Daniel Ariely among the authors, for the interested) looked a little deeper into behavior and found, at least in simulations, that the snowball effect didn’t seem to have that much benefit.

                6. nonegiven*

                  If you run both methods through unbury.me often it will only make a few dollars difference over the entire period.

          3. Audiophile*

            I know this is true overall, but my highest APRs are store cards and an old Chase card. My lowest APR is also my lowest balance card. I could pay off 3 low balance cards in about 2 months. The higher balances will take longer, like.y a year and a half or more. Despite my debt, I still have a decent credit score, mostly do to excellent payment history, but I know if I paid down/off most of my credit card debt I’d see a decent score boost and qualify for better mortgage.

            1. nonegiven*

              For score raising, you may want to pay them off so that they are each reduced evenly by utilization, since per card and overall utilization both count toward credit score.

    4. Zathras*

      I haven’t tried it myself so I can’t endorse it personally, but a couple of personal finance blogs I have read are fans of a site called Personal Capital. I’m pretty sure it’s free.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      No recommendations for websites, but I can definitely recommend the snowball method. I’ve been using it for about a year and I’ve paid off a lot of small credit cards. I’m working my way up to the bigger balances now. Now that the monthly payments are getting bigger, I can see my balance actually going down; it’s very exciting. Had I started with the highest interest rate card/highest balance first, I think I would have given up by now.

      As far as websites, I find that I and Excel spreadsheet work best together. I don’t want to have to log a bunch of things and categorize them. I found most of the sites I tried to be too…not sure what the word is. Just too much information, maybe? I don’t need pie charts and all that.

      Good luck!

    6. Jen*

      On the car- you are probably better off keeping the car you have now. Either you get a lousy trade in when you go to lease, or you have to deal with selling a car you don’t outright own private party.

      If you lease, the payments may be lower but you’ll owe tax, title, reg fees, plus annual property tax and ins on a brand new car- which may be more or at least equivalent to your current car. Then there’s the disposition fee, any damage, etc.

      So, run the numbers and go into a lease eyes wide open.

    7. KR*

      I’ve been reading LBee and the Money Tree. She doesn’t have an app or anything, but tons of good advice and articles. She also does product endorsements but only of products she’s personally tried and likes (and she’s not afraid to publicly take back the endorsement if it doesn’t work for her any or or she/her readers has a bad experience).

    8. Dan*

      First things first, yeah, you probably have to let the house thing go for now, I don’t think you can take on a mortgage. Second, I can’t imagine how leasing a car is going to put you in a financially better position — your insurance problem certainly won’t go away on a lease. If you put relatively low miles on your car, it’s conceivable that you could keep the car for 10 to 15 years. I put about 8,000 miles a year on my 2010 car, and it’s got under 50k at the moment. I’ve got *at least* 6 years of life left on it, if not a lot more. Also keep in mind that when your car is paid off (and it depreciates a bit more) you’ll be able to drop from full coverage to liability only, which will save you on insurance. With leasing, you’re going to be stuck with “new car” payments plus full coverage in perpetuity, which is really going to get expensive.

      To your question about financial planning… mint is good for tracking expenses, particularly if you use your debit or credit card a lot. The first step in getting your financial house in order is understanding where you spend your money, and where you can cut your money. Cutting expenses will likely involve some sort of lifestyle change, so get ready for that. Along those lines, keep all your spending in one spot to the extent possible. What I mean is that if you use a credit card for most of your monthly expenses, minimize the use of cash as much as you can. If you use cash all of the time, minimize the miscellaneous spending on your credit card. I’m a huge fan of credit card rewards, so for me, I put my spend on my credit card and hardly ever touch cash.

      But what I find really useful for me is doing cash flow projections in Excel. It’s nothing fancy — I just put down my expenses for each month, and run them out for the next year or so. The most important thing with this step is being honest with yourself with your monthly expenses. If you budget $X, but always spend $X+$200, then you’re really not going to have $2400 saved up in 12 months, are you?

      Above all, there’s no silver bullet that makes your bills go away with no effort on your part. Be honest with yourself about “needs” and “wants”. This really takes a lot of discipline and honesty with yourself.

      1. Archie Goodwin*

        I agree with Dan. Definitely rethink the car leasing. You’re looking at it too short term. If you keep your car, you will have no payments two years from now versus the lease where you’re always on the hook. And like Dan, I highly recommend estimating your income/expenses for a year using a simple excel spreadsheet. I usually do my projections at the end of the year for the following year and make periodic adjustments. Once upon a time I had terrible credit, totally living above my means, so I definitely understand how hard it is. However, it is well worth the effort. Having financial stability reduces a lot of stress in your life and also, your costs go down because people with good credit get way better terms on many things.

      2. Observer*

        Totally agree with Dan on the car. If your long term plan is to get rid of your debt and KEEP IT DOWN, you want to look at holding a car for longer than 2-3 years.

        I know that a lot of people are not fans of David Ramsey, especially his political views. But he has some good advice when it comes to saving money. As with everything else “your mileage may vary” so don’t approach it like he’s some infallible guru.

    9. Shayland*

      I recommend Mint for budgeting. It’s free (although it does mean that some of your data is the product for someone else), it automatically sinks with your bank accounts and credit cards, and will do its best to automatically categorize spending. It’s been a huge help for me. :)

  6. Bob*

    Argh. Person I’ve being seeing for a few months and just did the ‘lets take a break/I need to figure stuff out thing’ last night. They have anxiety and have a lot on their plate at the moment, so I know this probably doesnt actually have anything to do with the relationship itself but is just them feeling overwhelmed. I am however annoyed because apparently they’ve never actually tried to deal with their anxiety in any way other than just…letting themselves get stressed and anxious. And so rather than deal with the real problem (anxiety), they are instead going back to the tried and tested method of isolating themselves.

    Mostly a vent, but if someone has advice on how to deal that would be great. I tend towards being a Fixer so this is particularly annoying to me :/

    1. Hrovitnir*

      I’m sorry to hear that.

      I subscribe to the approach of taking breaks as probable-breakups personally, and taking that time to reinvest in yourself.

      As someone with anxiety I don’t know the exact circumstance of the person you’ve been seeing, but realising you don’t have the ability to contribute fully to a relationship at the moment isn’t the same as isolating yourself. Though they may indeed be isolating themselves! Taking time to look after yourself when you’re overwhelmed *is* doing something about it.

      I get a bit twitchy about therapy being treated as a fix – I am a big fan of therapy, but it’s a process, and if you have a chronic condition it’s going to help, not fix, the issue. Medication available for anxiety is generally not great (benzos for short-term use for major issues, beta blockers for physical symptoms, some SSRIs show some efficacy for some people…), so improving your mental health often looks like a lot two steps forward, one step back.

      To circle back I think the best thing for you is to try to disconnect yourself from being invested in them right now and focus on doing things that you enjoy and make you feel good. If in some amount of time you are both still interested in getting back together, bonus! But don’t hold yourself in limbo for them. You can’t fix someone else: I know it’s hard. I’m a Fixer by nature who bloody hates anyone trying to fix me. Haha.

      1. Bob*

        Sigh. I mostly agree with you, I think the worst part for me is I dont think they are actually going to do anything in terms of self-care? When the topic of ‘ have you ever had any kind of therapy or medication’ came up, it was met with a very vehement ‘No, I should be able to fix this myself’ type answer, which is I guess part of my issue. I’m totally on board with needing time to take care of yourself, but that requires you…knowing what it is that you need to do to help yourself? And I dont think they actually do – which is why this response frustrates me. Or maybe thats just my Fixer self projecting. Who knows.

        But as you say, time to disengage and move on. I’m giving myself today to mope I think, and then time to move on from tomorrow!

        1. Hrovitnir*

          Ahhh, that is hard! I have a friend who I am supporting through her actually being willing to do anything for her mental health and her relapsing into “I should be able to fix this with sheer willpower” is so. frustrating.

          Nothing wrong with a bit of moping. You could recruit friends to watch movies mopily maybe? :P You sound like you’ve got a pretty good handle on it though, it’s just a matter of riding it out. I hope you feel better soon.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Part of dealing with anxiety is saving your energy for dealing with anxiety– which means this person wants to focus on healing and can’t give you the attention you deserve in a relationship. This is a very healthy thing. In fact, I admire them for not leaning on you to fix things. Sometimes these things are best dealt with on one’s own. I suffer from anxiety and occasional depression, and the person who really suffers is my partner, because in order to get myself back in line, I need to be alone. I would advise you to wish this person well and move on, but if you want to be with them, check in every once in a while to see how they’re doing.

      1. Bob*

        Appreciate the feedback. Its not even so much that I want to fix things for them as I wish that they had better knowledge and coping mechanisms to get through this rough patch (with or without me!).

    3. Ella*

      Captain awkward.com has some great posts on breakups. I’m with Hrovotnir- this is probably a good time to reinvest in yourself. I’d give them space and move on the best you can. I’m sorry – it sucks :/

    4. neverjaunty*

      As a fellow Fixer, one of the hardest things to accept is that sometimes other people can’t or won’t do the obvious thing to work on their issues, and you have to let it go. I’m sorry.

      1. Bob*

        Sigh. Thanks. I’ve gone through this before with friends, so I’ve learned the hard way about letting go, but it really sucks.

        1. fposte*

          I also think that a take-no-action person can be a tough partner for a fixer long-term (a friend went through this one and it almost tanked their marriage), so your person may have been more clear-eyed than you about how things would play out with this dynamic.

          1. neverjaunty*

            Goodness yes. It is way better than the dynamic where a passive person chooses a fixer to, essentially, outsource their anxiety.

    5. PatPat*

      Honestly, it sounds like the person is trying to let you down easily. And it’s not a good sign for a successful long term relationship that when this person has problems they withdraw from their partner. I think you should move on. Plus all of this is really, really unfair to you! What are you supposed to do, hang around and wait alone until your friend feels like resuming things? That’s a rotten thing to do to someone.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      If you are annoyed you may be past the point where you can help this person.

      OTH, this person may not want anyone’s help, which also makes you a bad match for her.

      Another perspective could be that you don’t want this level of responsibility for another human being. I can’t blame you on that one. I went through a lot helping my parents but I would not give that level of care to everyone. It’s not possible, physically, mentally, time wise, money wise.

      My wise friend used to say, something to the effect of when people opt out of our lives. it’s important to listen to them. He favored believing that they were asking this for a reason, even if they do not indicate what the reason is or even if there is a weak reason. This advice has grown on me over the years. I like it because it encourages me back to paying attention to people who are paying attention to me.

  7. Jenny*

    This sort of came up in a post earlier this week, but would’ve been too off-topic to discuss it there.
    So basically: if someone said they wouldn’t date someone of a certain race, would you consider that racist, or just a matter of preference?
    Would you think differently if they said they wouldn’t date outside their /own/ race?

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      This is a pretty volatile topic that probably shouldn’t be discussed here at all.

    2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Won’t date anyone of a certain race: racist.

      Won’t date outside their own race: probably racist. If it’s won’t date outside their own culture/religious group/etc, maybe not — especially if we’re talking about preserving a minority cultural/spiritual/ethnic group. But if it’s solely based on the American breakdown of race, then nah.

      Core issue: it’s totally okay to have preferences, but immediately jumping to the assumption that every member of a given race will fall outside someone’s preferences is messed up. The same is really true for pretty much any group you can think of, but race is extra-loaded in terms of the way it plays into centuries’ worth of stereotypes and power imbalances.

      1. New Bee*

        Yep, “I don’t date Black people” spans folks who look like Jesse Williams, Idris Elba, and everything in between, so when you actually interrogate the reasoning the stereotypes crop up fast. I also automatically side-eye people who feel the need to announce this information.

        That’s different from marrying someone of the same cultural/ethnic/religious background, which given power differentials, makes sense for minority groups but not White people (a generic qualifier, as opposed to, say, “Greek”).

        1. K.*

          Not just looks but personalities and interests too. If you come across someone who likes the same stuff you like and with whose personality you click and you still won’t date them because they’re a different race, that’s racist – or if you assume that every member of a particular group can’t possibly like the things you like or have a personality you click with, that’s racist.

        2. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

          Yes, culture is a different thing. I’ve seen statistics that cross cultural marriages are more likely to end in divorce. Coming from very different cultural backgrounds is a big thing in a relationship, and if you feel you don’t want to go into that, it’s ok and not racist. But what about someone who is ethnically different but culturally similar? Someone whose family has immigrated generations ago, or someone who has been internationally adopted as a very small child? If you categorically refuse to date someone like this, simply because they have a different skin color, I think that’s always at least somewhat racist.

          1. Junior Dev*

            I also think I’m more likely to believe the “culture” argument if it’s regarding one’s own group. I’ve met a lot of Black people who prefer to date other Black people and a lot of it comes down to specific cultural things they’re looking for, for example. But if you’re a white guy who thinks that Asian women are exotic and submissive, that’s gross.

    3. neverjaunty*

      I’m not on board with the idea that our romantic preferences are the one thing that isn’t affected in any way by our own prejudices and hang-ups.

      That said, this isn’t always about racism; there are people who are in minority groups who don’t want to deal with prevalent racism in a partner and so don’t date people in majority groups.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        That said, this isn’t always about racism; there are people who are in minority groups who don’t want to deal with prevalent racism in a partner and so don’t date people in majority groups.

        Yup. Black woman here, and this is me. Anti-blackness is real and prevalent around the globe, so no, I will not subject myself to that nonsense and will only date within my own ethnic and cultural group. #sorrynotsorry

    4. SaturdayAnon*

      Maybe I’m the odd one out but I see it as more personal preference than racist. I have a friend who wont date guys who are more than a year or two younger. She’s not ageist, we have friends who fall into that category, but she does not want to entertain the notion romantically. Me, I don’t care about age; heck, I have a thing for older guys, like +5 older than me. Is it any different from preferring red heads to blondes?

    5. Cristina in England*

      There is a world of difference between “I am attracted to blond guys with beards” and “I don’t date Asian guys”. The former is a preference, the latter racist. The two key differences being that one is exclusionary and a pretty sweeping generalisation, whereas the other is having a pretty specific set of features that I am attracted TO instead of being against.

      The guys who say they only date Asian women are racist because they are generalising based on cultural stereotypes and are also being exclusionary in saying they won’t date anyone from another race.

      1. katamia*

        Agreed. There are some physical features I’m attracted to that people of certain races/ethnicities are more likely to have, and given two otherwise equal options (to the extent that two people can ever be totally “equal,” yeah, I’m going to pick the person who has more of the physical features that I’m attracted to.

        But those features aren’t a requirement for me to date someone, either, and many of the people I’ve dated haven’t been my physical “type” at all.

    6. fposte*

      I think what gets our individual sexy motors revving is personal and chemical and weird, and we don’t have an obligation to make ourselves be turned on by any particular group of people.

      I think that’s a different thing than announcing you have dating (really, no-dating) policies based on race. (I think it’s probably wise not to announce dating policies in general, tbh. They always sound reductive and box-ticky to me.)

      1. neverjaunty*

        Sure, we don’t have a moral obligation to change our preferences – but our preferences are informed by our thinking and biases, and they aren’t necessarily set in stone.

        1. fposte*

          Of course not. But this is an area where I think preferences that wouldn’t be okay in the rest of your life aren’t recrimination-worthy. You can be attracted to skinny people or fat people, hairy people or hairless people, eumelanin people or pheomelanin people, subs or doms, and can find a similar catalogue of characteristics irrelevant. Tinder and its swipe-right ilk are about reductive commodification, not about nuance; they foreground the kind of annoying dating policies I’m talking about, because that’s exactly what the tool is designed to do. In other venues, whether real life or online, you might look beyond those inclinations, but more recent dating tools really focus on weeding out at speed via snap judgment in a way that makes speed dating seem Victorian; it’s unsurprising that it brings out our most knee-jerk and unreflective responses and that those responses grow more accepted as such tools have become popular.

          1. neverjaunty*

            Eh. Crap like “I just can’t help being attracted to Asian girls, they’re so sweet and submissive and THE HEART WANTS WHAT IT WANTS” was not invented with Tinder. Of course people can’t magically change all their prefences or attractions – just that there seems to be a cultural willingness to give dumb thinking a pass when someone can say their dumb thinking has a connection to their sex life.

            1. fposte*

              Yeah, I don’t disagree with that, and that’s a big reason why I think people should STFU about stuff like that–I don’t think our sexual tastes always do us a lot of honor or that other people need to know about them. But I also think people don’t have an obligation to broaden their sexual horizons just to see if they like something else; I’m mostly opposed to the way Tinder et al. normalizes the categorization and eliminates the messiness of real life, where you often fall for people who aren’t your ostensible type at all.

      2. Myrin*

        Perfectly said as always, fposte, I agree completely!
        (And seriously, how do you manage to do this? I’m constantly thinking stuff and have trouble getting my thoughts in order and then I don’t write a comment because it feels so complicated and like I could never say what I mean and then BAM, you sweep in and say exactly what was on my mind with much eloquence and finesse!)

    7. Bad Candidate*

      What about when people won’t date out of their race because it’s not worth the hassle of what their family would do?

      1. Junior Dev*

        That’s still a problem but it’s a different problem–it’s not “I’m racist,” it’s “I’m letting my family’s racism influence my dating life.” Which, I’m white, but I’d be pretty turned off if I found out a white person I was dating was letting their family influence them in that way.

        In a way it reminds me of a post-college boyfriend whose parents were religious fundamentalists and told him he wasn’t allowed to have a female roommate (among other issues, they were also really homophobic). I wasn’t interested in moving in with him, but if I’d been more interested in a committed relationship I definitely would have been put off by the way he let his parents’ prejudices influence his, an adult man’s, life. I get that sometimes these things happen and you need to work around them for whatever reason, but if “working around them” means “doing what my parents want all the time” it’s going to cause issues in a relationship that go beyond the particular issue that’s superficially at stake.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          What about, My family is racist, so I’ll bring home someone from outside my race if only if I think there’s really something there? That was my stance as a very young adult who hadn’t fully separated from my parents yet. I knew that dating outside my race would bring a lot of hostility from my family, and I didn’t want to enter into that lightly. I didn’t want to date someone just to “show them” (“them” being my family), but I didn’t want to take a pass on love if I felt that there was “something there” with someone outside my race. Now that I’m older and more separated from my family, I’d just do whatever I wanted to do, but as a younger adult, the family reaction was a consideration (though not a definite bar) for me.

          1. Anxa*

            Yeah. I can’t really relate to this situation, but I sometimes I can’t fully embrace the push to cut every problematic person from your life if you can’t fix them. I don’t begrudge people wanting to maintain a relationship with people who aren’t perfectly progressive. And, ironically perhaps, I think it’s a bit privileged to suggest cutting family out of your life.

            Also, I frequently hear calls to confront family whenever they hold a regressive opinion, and I think it oversimplifies the dynamic individuals have with their families. I can’t imagine having the power to influence any members of my family, but I have friends whose parents will listen to their viewpoints during a disagreement.

            I don’t think it’s horrible to accept that your family may grow, but continue to hold views you don’t agree with, that you wouldn’t want to subject a partner to that sort of thing yet, but that you want to keep your family in your life.

            1. Temperance*

              Yep. I grew up in a family full of authoritarian evangelical Christians. I can assure you, no amount of calling my parents out on their homophobia, bigotry, or racism has ever changed their opinion. I don’t have much of a relationship with them, because I don’t think that they’re nice people, but I get that for people whose families are otherwise decent humans, this might be different.

        2. neverjaunty*

          Assuming that it’s actually racism, of course. If your family is from a minority group, dating someone from the majority can seem like a slap in the face and a rejection of your culture as “not good enough”.

      2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        Still racism, just the family’s racism and the dating person’s willingness to go along with it.

    8. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t think this is the right question to ask, because the underlying question seems to be “Does this particular person have racial animosity toward other races?” Really, what we should be doing is examining how the racism that exists in various cultures influences people’s dating habits and preferences.

      Studies of heteros in the U.S. have consistently shown that Black women and Asian men are the least swiped positively on and the least messaged groups. This can’t be an accident. And I don’t believe all the people skipping over these two groups are being malicious or thinking ill thoughts consciously. But the aggregate result is the same. This is what people mean when they talk about institutional or structural racism. It isn’t just an individual doing one horrible act. It’s about the whole way society is set up and the way we as individuals are instilled with certain cultural values.

      1. K.*

        One of the reasons I (Black woman) stopped using Match* is that I got very tired of looking at my list of matches, scrolling down to see the preferred race section of their profile, and seeing that they’d be open to dating every race EXCEPT Black – like, they went through and checked all the boxes except Black, and in some cases said flat-out that they weren’t attracted to Black women. This happened a lot. And if someone said they weren’t attracted to White women, you’d think “None? Out of all of them?” We don’t assume white people are all the same in the same way we do Black people.

        I have gay male friends who have showed me some of the profiles on the apps they use and the anti-Asian racism was akin to what Jane from the letter earlier this week said – blatant and crude.

        *I do have Black friends who met their spouses on Match (one gay man, one gay woman, one straight woman. Two out of those three married someone outside their race).

        1. fposte*

          I didn’t do Match–would it show you people who’d selected themselves out of liking you? That seems rather counterproductive.

          But this is also kind of what I mean about the data/dating problem. I agree with you as a human on the false broadness of “I don’t like fifty-year-olds ” because there’s likely a fifty-year-old man or woman out there you’d click with. But if you’re trying to sort through a mound of data for the likeliest clickage and you’re not going to carefully read all 200/3000/whatever profiles in your area, the knee-jerk and easy ways to cut a big pile of people out are going to be the go-to methods. And as long as those go-to methods don’t hurt the people making that choice, they’re not likely to change.

          (As somebody in a small non-urban location my challenge was always the distance radius. I was like “Some people I’d drive 100 miles for; some people I won’t drive across town for. How do I know which you are?”

          1. Gaia*

            I can’t speak regarding race selection, but Match had a messed up algorithm. I am not a small person and I was very upfront about that and yet 95% of my matches were flat out open about not wanting anyone that wasn’t described as “thin” or “athletic”

            Thanks, Match….

    9. NicoleK*

      I know alot of people who have never dated or wanted to date outside their race. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re racist. Now if they said, I would never date any X because they’re all Y, then yes, they’re a racist.

      1. Gaia*

        You don’t even need to add “because they are all Y” simply saying “I will never date race X” is racist. Now, that isn’t to say that if someone just happens to never date anyone of race X they are racist. Sometimes that really does just happen due to a number of reasons. It is the absolute unwillingness to date someone of a particular race regardless of other characteristics that is problematic.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        My friend and I have a running conversation about what families in different cultures teach each other. The contrast between our two backgrounds is stark. The friendship works well because our separate experiences and acquired knowledge dovetails well. We pick up each other’s slack.
        However our hobbies and interests are so different that there are very few activities we do together. How he fills his spare time is verrrry different from how I fill mine. It could be that when he says he would prefer an SO from his own culture, that he means this person has the same level of interest in the same things he does. Or it could be that he means it as stated. I have never asked because I can see he wants a partner whose family taught/shared similar things with the partner as what my friend learned and grew up doing.
        He has been married and divorced. He married a person not from his culture so this experience could be part of his current thinking. It’s not about bias, it’s about day-to-day compatibility.

    10. TL -*

      If someone said they wouldn’t date out of their own race, I think I would read it as them not dating out of their specific racial/cultural group (where cultural would include class/specific geographic region/ethnic background/religion/race.) That doesn’t bother me, really – wanting that much comfort in your relationship makes a kind of sense to me.
      Saying I won’t date X is much different. It implies that all X are unworthy of your romantic attentions just by virtue of being X. Super racist.

    11. Rogue*

      I think it’s a matter of preference. Just because I won’t date someone of a different race or of a certain, doesn’t mean I dislike them or think they’re less than. It simply means I don’t find certain traits of that race attractive. I see it as no different than me saying I won’t date anyone with blue eyes, anyone who doesn’t have a job, someone overweight, or someone with children. The person on the receiving end of the rejection may have their feelings hurt, but we are all allowed our preference and can’t control who we are attracted to.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        But you’re assuming that those traits you don’t like are universal to the race in question. Race is not that cut-and-dried.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I generally do not prefer black men, but I have met some whose looks I found quite appealing and would have liked to date (unfortunately they were taken, dammit), so I would not ever rule them out. Same with Asian men.

          It also depends on a guy’s personality. I don’t care for very blonde Scandinavian type looks either, but again, that depends on the guy. I’ve had crushes on really different men who don’t fit my preferred type at ALL. So I can’t really say I don’t ever want X, because I might like it just fine.

          But for me, if I don’t want somebody physically right off, I probably won’t later, and it has nothing to do with race or even personality. Attraction is weird.

      2. Yup*

        No, your analogy doesn’t hold at all, and it reveals exactly the type of prejudicial thinking the OP referred to. What exactly is included in “certain traits of that race”??? As Countess Boochie says much more nicely below, you’re implying that “another” race possesses a stable, defining, shared “trait” that defines them. That’s not possible.

        And your examples don’t follow either. People are born with blue eyes – it’s an unchanging physical characteristic that reveals NOTHING about personality, morals, values, anything that makes a person who they are. Not having a job is entirely changeable and not at all a fixed characteristic, that may or may not say something about that person (and most likely not).

        If you had hard and fast rules against dating people with blue eyes or black skin, that’s not just a preference and it’s certainly not on the person “having their feelings hurt.” That rule is as clear an example of prejudice as there is, which people write off as mere “preference.”

    12. Curious*

      What about WOC who do not want to date or partner with someone from their own race? I have friends who have purposely married outside of their race based on negative experiences they had with men in their FOO, and extended families, growing up. Experiences they attributed to their respective cultures.

      1. Temperance*

        Eh, I can relate to your friends. I grew up lower-class, and seeing how blue collar men tended to be pretty misogynist and domineering, I decided as a teen that I would only date guys who were focused on education. I later added the requirement that any dude I date self-identify as a feminist.

        1. neverjaunty*

          Having grown up around well-off white-collar dudes, I assure you the misogyny is just as bad. It’s just covert.

          1. Temperance*

            I’d rather covert misogyny than dealing with a Cro Magnon brute who expects to be Head of the Household / King of His Castle, TBH. The kinds of men I grew up around liked to boss their families around, and you can bet they never lifted a finger for any kind of “female” chore.

            1. neverjaunty*

              I don’t mean that it’s covert in its effects. I mean that there’s a veneer of civility and pretense to respect women on top of it.

      2. K.*

        One of my brother’s best friends is a Black gay man, and he got a lot of grief from his family when he came out. For a while he wouldn’t date Black men because of it. He’s since evolved (as has his family, although not as much as he’d like). Some of those men on Match that I mentioned, the ones who said they’d date everyone except Black women, were Black. It was really depressing.

      3. Stellaaaaa*

        I have some WOC who have voiced similar thoughts to me. If you want to get to the nitty-gritty of it, it’s more about wanting to reject the misogyny that they see in their own cultures than about rejecting people of their own race. There’s a conversation to be had about how men of color something “upgrade” to white women and regard women of their own races as being inferior, leading women of color with few options to begin with…but I can’t speak from experience and I’m not going to speak for others. It’s just something I’ve read about enough to know that it happens sometimes.

    13. Gaia*

      I just do not get how someone can say that they are not attracted to *anyone* of a specific race. I have my preferences, as we all do, and I cannot control those preferences. But there is not a single race out there where I haven’t seen many, many, many incredibly attractive people.

      I think it is flat out racist to shut out an entire race from consideration. You may not be attracted, generally, to people with X feature or Y hair color but there is not a thing that can be said to convince me that someone can say that no one in an entire race is attractive to them. Maybe I am wrong, but it just reads racist to me.

    14. JamieS*

      Depends entirely on why they wouldn’t date outside their race. If it’s because they have a negative opinion of that race in general that’s obviously racism. If it’s because they just aren’t attracted to people of that race then it’s preference. The way I look at it is I have a preference for dating college-educated left-handed men so I don’t really have room to judge someone who prefers a certain skin tone and/or doesn’t find a skin tone attractive.

    15. Archie Goodwin*

      I would consider it racist to be dismissive of someone as a partner strictly because of their race. I’ve dated and married across several ethnic groups (not at the same time) but ultimately found the most important aspect for me was a partner who shared the same cultural background, regardless of race. Relationships are already not easy to navigate and it makes it harder in the long run when you’re not coming from the same place, for instance both my partner and I come from a working class background and we’re the only people in our respective families who went to college.

    16. Not Alison*

      I will not date outside my own race, but I reject the notion that arbitrary exclusion on who you choose to marry is racist.

      Now, if you said you will not hire an employee who is outside your own race or if you will not work for someone who is outside your own race, then I will call “racist”. As for me, I have worked for a number of managers outside my own race and have hired staff outside my own race and have friends outside my own race – so no, because I choose to not marry someone outside my own race does not automatically make me racist.

      1. Yup*

        But what difference are you making between the two situations or statements? They both reflect exactly the same reasoning.

    17. Florida*

      The premise of this question is very prejudicial. Basically you are asking, “If someone exhibits a particular bias, can I then label them and judge all of their future actions based on that one bias?”

      Someone who does not want to date out of their race is not necessarily racist. However, someone who does not want to date outside of their race, and exhibits a number of other racial biases might be. But no, exhibiting ONE racial bias does not make you racist, it makes you a normal, imperfect human.

      If we start to label someone as a racist based on one specific bias, then everyone on this board (including me) is a racist. EVERYONE has biases (conscious or not) about race based on their own race, class, upbringing, etc. Many people try to fight against those biases, but everyone is guilty at least sometimes. To say that someone who has a particular bias is going to be lumped into a particularly vile group that we call racists is using the same shortcut in thinking and judgment as people who say, “Everyone of such-and-such minority is stupid (or any other adjective).”

      1. New Bee*

        I think this is true though–everyone is racist.* Or, in the words of Dr. Beverly Tatum, racism is like city smog: we all breathe it in whether we want to or not. I’m all for challenging the idea that “racists” are boogeymen under the bed when in reality they are friends, neighbors, lovers, and other regular people who are complicit in system of White supremacy.

        *I like J. Smooth’s explanation of racist being a description of actions and words, rather than an identity marker. Plus, I’m intentionally sidestepping the prejudice + power definition for simplicity’s sake.

      2. Anonymous Educator*

        That’s why I wrote my earlier response.

        It’s the wrong question to ask, because labeling individuals “racist” doesn’t actually recognize racism for how it truly exists or help to dismantle it. All it does is make people unnecessarily defensive and help others feel they are off the hook.

    18. Stellaaaaa*

      It’s a really tough thing to parse because for most people, romantic relationships eventually become sexual relationships, and I’m not about to pressure people to consent to people that they don’t want to have sex with. As a woman, anyone who tries to argue with or question my right to say no (even if my reasons suck) gets written off as a special kind of jerk.

    19. Free Meerkats (formerly Gene)*

      I think there’s a significant difference between “I prefer Japanese and Korean women because that “look” gets my motor running” and “I prefer Japanese and Korean women because they know how to treat a man.” One is a preference based on appearance and the other is a preference based on assumed cultural behavior.

      If a man won’t date men because he prefers women, is he homophobic?

  8. evilintraining*

    I got tired of the bunnies using our front flower bed as their breakfast table, so I bought a spray that’s supposed to keep them and the deer away. Mr. (or Mrs.) Bunny is giving me the stink eye from across the street…

    1. Red Reader*

      Oh, god, if it’s working, what is it? Between eating all our garden plants and taunting my poor dogs, am about to go on a bunny rampage, and I’d much rather just deter them than actually scoop ‘me up and bop ‘me on the head. :-P

      1. fposte*

        Liquid Fence works well for me but you do have to reapply it every few days in the spring; once stuff is grown and established it’s less of a problem. And extra points for a Bunny Foofoo reference!

        1. Red Reader*

          I think if I can get them to stop nesting under my shed, the rest of the issues will mostly solve themselves.

    2. LadyKelvin*

      Marigolds will keep them away. So will tin foil. We hang foil pans from the tomato cages which ring our garden. We also have a large family which lives under the shed, but we never have problems with bunnies eating our garden. The groundhog on the other hand, he’s an a$$hole and steals entire plants.

      1. Valeriane*

        Anyone know how to keep squirrels from eating your tomatoes? They take a bite out of each tomato. I’ve given up trying to grow any for several years.

      2. Snazzy Hat*

        Groundhogs prefer leafy greens and moisture-rich foods, so if he’s taking entire plants those must be some juicy tomatoes! I planted collards years ago when I learned a groundhog was living under my shed — I think groundhogs are adorable and I wanted him to be comfy and well fed — but he has since passed away. The groundhog who would visit last year (lives nearby), I don’t know if he eats the collards, but I’ve caught him eating the leaves off my wildflowers and roaming around the grass.

    3. On Fire*

      Ha! Congrats on finding a magic potion!
      I was convinced that the rabbits would invade our garden (the new house is the first time we’ve had space for one), but they just munch on the lawn five feet away from our beautiful veggies.
      Now if I could find a way to keep the squirrels off the bird feeders… (they leap up onto the skinny (1/4-1/2 in) pole, run up and sit on top of the feeder, scattering seed everywhere in their quest for their favorite munchies).

      1. Zathras*

        They make plastic umbrella things you can put around the pole that prevent the squirrels from running up, do a google search for “squirrel baffle” to see what I mean.

        My mom has one, she says it doesn’t work if there is a tree, fence, etc. close enough for them to jump onto the pole above the baffle, but it works reasonably well if they are running up the pole from the ground. They still shake a lot of seeds onto the ground while trying though.

      2. CAA*

        Google for Squirrel Baffle. A picture is worth a thousand words on this one, but it’s a round metal cone that fits around the pole below the bird feeder, and when the squirrel tries to climb up, he ends up stuck under the cone with no way to get above it.

      3. Lizabeth*

        Squirrels will do just about anything to get at a bird feeder. My family’s go to was greasing the pole with Crisco and it worked because there was no other way to approach the feeder. Made for good entertainment from the kitchen table. They’d try for awhile, then give up and go off and clean their bellies off. However, for the bird feeder stuck on the window, we had one actually climb up the side of the house about 12-15 feet and plopped his behind in it and munch away.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          My auntie in London has one in her garden that hangs on a hook like a shepherd’s crook and they hang upside down on that sucker and eat all the stuff.

    4. something*

      They’re eating up the native grasses and Penstemon in my yard but I figure they were here first and have dibs.

    5. Anono-me*

      I am seconding the request for the name of the rabbit repellent.

      I have had good luck with homemade squirrel repellent. 1/2 of a bottle of nasty (cheap) hot sauce mixed into a bottle of heavy (super cheap) pump bottle hair spray. Spray it on everything you want the squirrel to leave alone. Reapply weekly and after rain.

      1. Nana*

        I’ve read that two things will deter rabbits (I don’t have a garden, so have no experience): human hair (ask your hairdresser for sweepings) and used kitty litter (don’t use on food crops…but the essence-of-cat scares bunnies).

  9. Savannah*

    As I mentioned in the work thread yesterday, my partner and I will be moving to the west coast and we get to decide between Portland or Seattle. I’ve only be to Portland once and thought it was fine- but for a couple just starting out and thinking about kids in the next few years anyone want to talk to me about the pros and cons of both cities? We might be interested in buying a house in the next few years, don’t make tons of money and if I never had to drive again in my life- that would be great- the hour long 95 corridor commute is our number one issue where we currently live.

    1. pnw*

      I live in Portland. Housing is very expensive here. A studio apartment in a decent neighborhood is over $1000 per month. A 3 bedroom, 2 bath home can go for well over $500,000 and houses usually sell for more than the asking price. Other than that, it’s a great place to live. Public transportation depends on whether or not you live close to a MAX or busline. Lots of people ride bikes around town and there are bike lanes everywhere. Except for the out-of-control housing prices, it’s a great place to live.

      1. Junior Dev*

        Seattle is also expensive, though.

        Portland is an easy city to be car-free in, but try to live near a MAX line if this is the route you want to go.

        1. Windchime*

          Yeah, a studio or one bedroom in Seattle can be close to $2,000 a month. I don’t know anyone who can afford to live in downtown Seattle.

      2. Anonymous Educator*

        I know this is really about the Pacific Northwest and not California or anywhere else, but whether $1000 for a studio is expensive or not is really a matter of perspective. If it were in San Francisco, that’d be downright dirt cheap!

    2. Red Reader*

      I lived in Seattle for ten years and loved it, barring the weather. I went pretty much everywhere on the bus, and I hear they’ve only improved transit options since I left five years ago.

    3. Applesauced*

      Where can you get jobs?
      My fiancé and I (currently in NYC) are considering these cities as well, and visited in the fall to check them out – everyone we spoke to in Portland said that the job market is really tough, and that more people are moving than the city can support (leading to higher rents/prices and making the job market worse). Seattle isn’t quite as saturated at Portland with new comers, and seems to have a more diverse and active job market.
      Good luck!

      1. Savannah*

        Thanks! We are moving for my partners job and he’s covering the pnw territory for his firm so we can pick anywhere- as long as it’s close to an airport. There are opportunities for me in both cities so it’s really just figuring out which one is better for us and that’s hard because I know almost no one on the west coast and I’ve never been to Seattle but I have heard that Portland gets a ton of newcomers. We pay westchester rent right now so then housing market isn’t as scary to us as it seems to be for many. It’s more about the people and the cities themselves I’m curious about.

        1. pnw*

          If the housing prices don’t bother you, you will probably like Portland. The weather is very similar to Seattle – it rains a lot. It rains from October through June which tends to drive some people away. But it’s why it is so green and beautiful around here. I’ve never lived anywhere else and forget to mention that because I don’t mind the rain, but I know people move away because of the weather. It really is a beautiful place and you would be close to the mountains or the beach. With a few exceptions, our winters are mild. If we get snow it’s usually only an inch or two and it goes away within 48 hours. Last winter was one of those exceptions. You’d probably do better to get information from a recent transplant to the area because I’ve never lived anywhere else and I can’t see Portland as a newcomer would.

        2. Free Meerkats (formerly Gene)*

          That expands your choices quite a bit. You might also look at the Bellingham area. A lot depends on where he needs to fly to. And Paine Field in Everett is getting commercial service from Alaska Air next year. Depending on exactly where the terminal goes on the field, I might be able to walk there.

          Another possibility is Eugene/Springfield. Decent air connections and lower COL.

            1. Windchime*

              Me too. It would mean a 15 minute drive instead of the hour-plus drive through the heart of the city to get to Sea-Tac.

    4. neverjaunty*

      Portland is warmer and less congested. On the con side, smaller means a smaller job market.

    5. FremontTroll*

      If you aren’t aware – Oregon doesn’t haves sales tax and Washington doesn’t have income tax. Depending upon your projected income/lifestyle, that may make the difference for you. It did for us!

      1. PepperVL*

        Isn’t the answer there to live in Vancouver, WA and do all your shopping in Portland? ;-)

        1. Snazzy Hat*

          Except when you need pseudoephedrine; you buy that in Vancouver because it’s not scheduled like it is in Oregon. My sister’s a pharmacist in Portland, and when she worked in retail she and the other pharmacists would actively tell patients with sinus issues to just buy the stuff in WA.

          But otherwise, yes. ^_^

          Also seconding the holy-crap-housing-is-expensive-in-Portland sentiment. The rent I make from two of my apartments (with three bedrooms) in Western New York is right around what my sister pays to rent a two-bedroom house in SW Portland by the highway.

    6. Dear Liza dear Liza*

      The “Seattle Freeze” thread from last week would push me towards Portland. I was really surprised to hear Seattle was known for being difficult to get to know people- I thought that was more of a northeast thing- but it’s hard enough to make friends as an adult, I’d probably avoid Seattle. (I do have friends who love living in Seattle, but they have kids and seem to socialize mostly with other parents.)

      1. Dinosaur*

        It really should be named the “PNW Freeze”. It’s the same all over here. I was born in Washington and now live in Oregon and I haven’t noticed a difference in levels of friendliness.

    7. Soupspoon McGee*

      I’ve lived near Portland for several years and think it’s a great city. I’m also searching for apartments in Seattle while I go to school there, and the rents and housing prices are much higher than Portland. I’m looking for a tiny studio apartment, and I’m not finding much that’s decent for less than $1300.

    8. Froggy*

      I grew up in Portland and now live in Seattle as an adult (but visit Portland family very frequently).

      For what you’re looking for I would say Portland is your better option. Seattle is more expensive that Portland (although COL in both cities is rising at a ridiculous rate) and has MUCH WORSE public transit. I may be biased because Portland is my home town but if I were raising kids in the near future I would move back to Portland to do it.

      That being said, Seattle has many more job options and a variety of fields that Portland doesn’t offer.

      1. Kj*

        Seattle and Portland are both pretty bikable and I have found public transit in the cores more similar than different.

        Seattle varies A LOT by neighborhood. I’ve lived in very different areas of Seattle and they have all been unique, from a more urban setting to practically rural. COL is high, but pay is too. There are areas that are less crazy expensive in the city but they aren’t as famous so people either don’t know about them or refuse to live there because they want to live in a ‘cool’ area.

        The Seattle freeze is real, but I have found some great friends here as well. If your hobbies are at all crafty or geeky, Seattle is a good place to be.

        I like the proximity to hiking and camping- between the Cascades and the Olympics, you have year round fun stuff to do. Portland has stuff too, but I think Seattle has better variety as the Olympics are a really unique ecosystem.

        I would advise visiting and talking to locals of either about neighborhoods, as both have areas that are unique.

      2. Mike C.*

        The Seattle area is also in the middle of massively building out their public transportation.

        1. Windchime*

          I will be so happy when the light rail makes it up to Everett. I’ll probably also be 90 years old.

    9. Gaia*

      If you’re open to being outside of a city, you can go a little further south of Portland, still be within an hour or so of an airport and get much cheaper housing. The Willamette Valley is all gorgeous. Within 2 hours of Portland are Salem, Albany and Eugene.

    10. PDX Native*

      Since he needs the airport, you should know that for many flights out of Portland, the first part of the trip is a hop to Seattle on a commuter plane. Living in Seattle might save him 4 hours total on each flight. Absolutely depends on airline & route.

      Also, in both cities, the airport isn’t central. I live in Portland but it takes me the same amount of time to drive to the airport as it does someone from Wilsonville which is a much cheaper place to live. Depending on how the traffic is clogging, it can be close to the same drive time for someone coming up from Salem as it is for me and that’s much further south. The suburbs close to the airport (Gresham) are less expensive but they’re also in the path of ice storms​. These happen once in every 2-3 years & when they do you will be house bound for up to a week. They are less frequent as you get further west & south – further by only a few miles. Seattle gets frozen far less often. Neither city can afford the capacity to be able to clean up effectively for these rare events. Particularly when new arrivals won’t follow the instruction to stay off the roads.

      In terms of public transit, both cities are better at the center & also more expensive there. Most public transportation routes run part way on the street so buses & light rail get caught in traffic out here. You get to read while you’re stuck but don’t get whisked past waiting. Car free takes me more time than driving but I’m on the outside edge of Portland. There’s a neighborhood 5 miles from me where the bus only runs 6am to 7pm so if you get stuck late at work, you have to call a cab.

  10. ann perkins*

    4:08am and I’m having issues sleeping. Have had so much anxiety lately and I just want to sleep! Ugh.

    1. Hrovitnir*

      My sympathies. I’ve been having more trouble than usual but 4am has been uncommon! :(

    2. Snazzy Hat*

      I thought about going to bed at 12:30 this morning, went to bed a little after 2:00, and fell asleep around 6:00. What the crap. And yesterday I slept way too much during the day. Yo, self, I start my new job in a week; I need to have a healthy regular sleep pattern before then!

  11. [insert username here]*

    What utterly ridiculous and/or counterintuitive habits have your pets developed? And what equally undignified lengths have you gone to to satisfy their whims? My dog refuses to drink plain water – it has to have a bit of her canned food or chicken-flavored baby food mixed in with it.

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      My cat wants me to touch her kibble before she’ll eat it. This made sense when there were other cats as well, but now it’s just her and me, and she picked up the habit again after very nearly a year of letting it lapse! I can fill her bowl with fresh food and she’ll still just stand in front of it and make plaintive noises until I stir it around with my hands and pat it a few times.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Ha. My cat used to do the same thing! She’d eat the food when it was first put down, but for return trips to the bowl, she’d insist that I had to stir the food before she’d eat it.

      2. MicroManagered*

        That’s so cute lol. My cat (one of my cats) eats half of her canned food, then moved to a different spot to finish it. You have to stand there and wait for her to move to the other spot, then move the dish. Sometimes you also need to “fluff the food” i.e. scrape it back into a pile.

        She’s 14 and on prescription food. I swear she knows we’re super invested in her eating and does this just to be a pain!

      3. Epsilon Delta*

        My cat picks up a mouthful of food and carries it to the rug to eat it. Then walks back to the dish and gets another mouthful, carries it to the rug.

        The weirdest thing about it is that my childhood dogs also had this habit. None of these animals ever knew each other so it’s not like they learned it from each other.

        1. Pat Benetardis*

          My older, now deceased dog did this. Now I have a 3 year old dog who does it, but only started when he was about one and a half.

    2. Liane*

      We have Bear, a 2 year old, 50 lb Lab mix, black with white chest and back toes (“snow toes” College Son calls them). Son & I are agreed that his wierdest habit is licking our hands. Bear loves to do this, he can spend minutes at a time, lovingly licking a hand (or sometimes arm or foot). If a hand is not where he wants it, he will whine or grumble. If a hand isn’t then offered, he’ll use one or both front paws to grab the hand and move it so he can slather it with dog kisses, holding it down with a paw as well.
      He also rolls on his back, with 1 of his big Chuck It balls in his mouth and paws, looking like a giant otter.
      Bear uses his front paws more than any dog I have ever known, as much like hands as possible.

      @Alison–College Son wants to know if we can link a picture of him, or would this open the floodgates to pet pics and take too much attention from your cats?

    3. Sled dog mama*

      My girl recently had to have two teeth out, (cracked them to the pulp because she decided to chew on a rock).
      After that she had wetted down kibble for two weeks then transitioned back to dry kibble. About a month after she got fully back on dry she stopped eating, wouldn’t touch her kibble. She’d eat treats, chicken, eggs, pretty much anything except her kibble. We were totally baffled but vet wasn’t worried because she was maintaining weight and body condition. My daughter helps feed the dogs and we giving the dog a small amount of kibble each day to see if she would eat it, one day my daughter dumped the dogs food in her water dish, dog was thrilled she immediately gobbled it up. Turns out she likes her kibble with a little water

      1. Shayland*

        That actually can help pets with hydration and digestion, although it’s more pronounced in cats, who are used to a desert climate without much standing water, than dogs.

      2. Liane*

        What is it with dogs and rocks?
        Bear will also dig for rocks (and roots), and my husband’s one uncle and aunt raised Weimaraners when he was growing up. One of them, Conan, was known for carrying around rocks.

    4. Ramona Flowers*

      My cat wants us to watch him go out through the cat flap. At 4am. He also likes to sleep with his head in my husband’s armpit. Little furry weirdo.

    5. Nic*

      My roommate’s spoiled cat (not a bad thing) taught mine to drink out of the tap. Now neither will drink from a bowl.

      My cat Topher requires physical acknowledgement via headbump when he first comes in the house. It’s like he’s checking in. Once he’s gotten that he’ll go about his business. He also insists on following me to the bathroom and sitting between my feet every. single. time. Dork. :)

    6. CatCat*

      We have to keep a bowl of water in our shower for the cat. It’s the only way to keep him out of our bathroom sink.

    7. PseudoMona*

      My cat will only drink out of her water bowl when it’s in the bathtub. She refuses to drink out of the bowl if I put it anywhere else in my apartment. So now her water bowl is in the bathtub, and before I shower each morning I have to remove the water bowl and usually a cat from the tub.

    8. Orlando*

      You have it backwards. You are developing counterintuitive habits. Your pet patiently and politely corrects them so you can become a better human caretaker.

    9. Shayland*

      My dog will whine at me if he’s not in the same room with me, or if I’m up on the bed and he doesn’t know if he can join me. It’s actually really annoying, he’ll sit outside my studio door when I’m in there and just kind of cry. It makes it really hard to work. And in the morning when he wants to give me cuddles he’ll whine if the other dog is blocking his path up onto the bed, waking me up in the process.

      Similarly, if I’m lying across the sofa, working. He’ll force his way up next to me and work very hard to curl up in a spot where he fits. He does not fit.

      I love him, and clearly he loves me, but sometimes I just need a break! Jesus!

    10. Bluebell*

      My dog prefers to drink out of the water container on the second floor, instead of the water bowl next to her dish on the first floor. It is part of a set of stacking toys that my high school aged daughter used as a toddler. Weird but cute.

    11. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      My dog is afraid of… transitions in flooring? She has to go backwards through doorways and other thresholds, or onto or off of throw rugs.

      She’s a little bit afraid of floors in general, so she kind of crabwalks indoors in general, but the doorway thing is especially entertaining.

    12. Cruciatus*

      Let’s see…This may not be quite the right thing, but my one cat has trained ME. She knows I don’t want her drinking from the toilet, so if I haven’t given her fresh water in a few hours in her one water dish (which is near the bathtub) she will go to the toilet, look at me with a face like “I’m gonna do it!” Then will slowly lean towards the water…leaning…leaning…until I change the water in her dish. She’s actually the smartest cat I’ve ever had–I don’t know if that’s a compliment or not. I don’t like being outwitted by a cat! My one cat is no longer with us, but she always needed us to watch her eat. Not the whole time, but we had to walk with her to the back room where her kibble was until she had her first bite. She was not a thin cat exactly so she did know how to eat if we weren’t home, but if we were–watch me! watch me! And the cat that died and her sister (who is still with us) both needed to sit at the table with us for dinner. I don’t even know how it became a thing. They just did it for almost every dinner meal, and now the one cat does it on her own. We have a stool and she sits on it politely (though sometimes she grabs my mom’s hand to give her some food. I know people find this bizarre and gross but they aren’t on the table, just at the table. She doesn’t get a lot of food or anything, but it’s been habit for her for a loooong time now. The minute she hears the plates hit the table she comes into the dining room.

        1. Cruciatus*

          Eh, my people are not a keep the lid down kind of people. It doesn’t truly bother me so much to need to do that. I will just continue to be outwitted by my cat.

    13. Combinatorialist*

      My parents (Mark and Valerie) has a dog Marley that loves being outside and can be a pain to get in. So my mom got in the habit of calling for Marley and then when nothing happened turning around and calling for Mark (so he could go outside and get the dog and bring him in). The dog learned this meant it was inevitable and so comes to “Marley Mark” with Mark said in the other direction. What’s funny is that this also works for my father. If he calls “Marley” no dog and so he also turns around and then calls for “Mark” to “get the dog”

      1. bluesboy*

        Our jealous dog would ignore it if you called her name – but if you called the cat’s name instead she would come running!

        Obviously the cat would ignore you anyway, so we ended up just calling the cat every time we wanted the dog…

    14. Annie Mouse*

      I’ve had my cat three weeks and she’s definitely settled in! She’s taken to sleeping on the opposite pillow (which is absolutely fine with me). And then my Mum came to visit and the pillow was taken. So she has been sleeping on my pillow, around my head! Which is super cute but not so comfortable when she decides to take up the whole space!!

    15. katamia*

      If I stop petting my dog and she wants me to keep going, she’ll raise her head and just sort of…aggressively yawn at me. I think it’s because I praise her a lot when she yawns because she’s so cute about it, so I think she thinks yawning is a way to get me to keep petting her.

    16. MsChanandlerBong*

      One of my cats, Chewbacca, will NOT drink out of a bowl. It’s got to be running water from the sink. I am worried that he’s going to develop kidney problems from not drinking enough, but we can’t leave the tap on all day. We did try a pet fountain, but the poor cat is terrified of anything that makes noise. He wouldn’t go near it, so we returned it.* To accommodate him, we do leave the sink running for a few minutes at a time several times per day. However, he won’t drink anything if you look at him. So you have to turn the sink on and leave the bathroom. He also will not drink if any of the other cats are using the sink, so half the time, you go back in the bathroom to turn off the water and he still hasn’t had anything to drink because our derpy cat is busy sticking his head under the spout and washing himself like a raccoon.

      *That’s also why we haven’t shaved him to try to minimize his hairball problem; it’s not that he would mind being shaved, it’s that the clippers make noise. He’d lose his little kitty mind. Chewie is also afraid of aluminum foil, plastic wrap, the vacuum cleaner, and anything else that makes any kind of sound. I sometimes wonder if his previous owners (he was a stray, but he was neutered, so I think he did live indoors at one point) used to threaten him with rolls of aluminum foil or something. Poor cat.

    17. JamieS*

      I don’t currently have pets but my cat growing up would refuse to eat his kibble if it was dry or in his bowl so we had to put his food on the ground and then spray it with water. The real kicker is the bowl had to be right next the food or he would complain and refuse to eat.

    18. Chaordic One*

      My dog, Malcolm, when thirsty will sometimes drink his water so fast that he gives himself a tummy ache. I have to pick him up, pat on his back and burp him like a baby.

    19. PepperVL*

      When I got my car Kirra, she was about 8 weeks old. I had another cat at the who was old and fat and lazy. Obviously, she had significantly now energy than he did, so many times when she wanted to play, he would growl and hiss at her.

      Most animals instinctively know that means “no, stop, bad” right? Not Kirra. In her mind, growls and hisses are noises we make when we play. So not only did she never leave my other cat alone, but she also started growling and hissing at her toys. To this day – she’s almost 6 – she still growls and hisses at them.

    20. Tina*

      One of my cats will only drink water out of a wine glass – not his bowl, and not an ordinary glass either! He picked up the habit at around 8 years old too, so I’m not sure where it came from.

    21. Elkay*

      Our old cat wouldn’t go through a door unless you stroked him first. Mainly the backdoor but sometimes internal doors too.

    22. Jules the First*

      The wolfdog pines when his pack leader is away and stops eating. Which is not ok because he’s a skinny boy with delicate digestion to start with and if he stops eating for a few days it causes Problems. However, while he won’t eat kibble from the bowl, he will eat kibble from your hand that you’ve just scooped out of the bowl. So yeah…when we dogsit, we hand-feed the wolf…

      1. Sled dog mama*

        My malamute girl (often used to play a wolf on tv and in movies) is like this. When I was traveling for work she wouldn’t eat if I was out of town. At that time hubs did all the dog feeding and I guess she could smell when I was out of town and wouldn’t eat.

    23. Connie-Lynne*

      Izzy has developed some GI problems and has to eat special belly friendly wet food.

      Jane Earl Jones refuses to believe that anything but dry kibble is food and runs away from the wet food in terror, then whines at me because she’s hungry.

      So I feed Izzy wet food downstairs, then run upstairs to give Jane kibble, and hope she polishes most of it off before Iz comes up searching for round 2 of feeding time.

    24. Snazzy Hat*

      When my mother, my sister, and the birds lived in my city, the birds shared their room (open cage on a table with lots of other accoutrements including a torn-to-hell wicker chair from Pier 1) with the computer. Whenever my mother was at the computer, the cockatiel would walk over and nibble on my mother’s socks, slipper bows, or pant cuffs especially if the pants were denim. After what could be as many as ten minutes, the tiel would walk back to the wicker chair.

      The birds’ water and food dishes were terra cotta planter plates out on the table. I thought it was hilariously adorable when one or more of the birds would sit in the food dish whilst eating, rather than stand on the table and lean over into the dish.

  12. DisinvitedGuest*

    There was a wedding last weekend that I was uninvited to. I received a save the date, but no invitation and no explanation as to why I was no longer on the guest list. I called to make sure I wasn’t blowing off the bride as the wedding date approached, and the whole situation got awkward. She pretty much danced around the issue.
    Was I wrong to think that a save the date was a pre-invitation? That’s how they’ve always been handled before. Is it safe to assume the bride is probably going to cut me out of her life after this? I don’t know how we can’t not address what happened. There weren’t any major blow ups or issues I can point to between the save the date and the wedding.

    1. NEW YEAR, NEW ME*

      That is weird. Are you family or close friends? Usually a save the date note does lead to an invite, but maybe something happened (a miscount in guests, change in plans, etc.) where they changed the invitation list. It’s not your fault. I’m sorry that this happened to you. If the bride treats you differently post-wedding, it’s on her, not you.

    2. blackcat*

      No, you weren’t wrong, and yes, I do think it’s safe to assume that you are down a friend here.

      You may never know the entire story, but if it had been something like a sudden need to cut the guest list, your friend should have gotten in contact earlier and apologized profusely. Those things *do* happen, and it happened with a friend. She (and her fiance) called those she was closest to and explained the situation. Other folks got a “our plans have changed” email/letter (depending on age). We’re still friends, and that worked out.

      But your friend didn’t apologize for the issue or even take responsibility. That’s a really shitty thing to do, and either of those would be necessary for you two to move forward. I’d bet money you never hear from her again.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      A save-the-date should not be sent unless an invitation will follow. I’m kind of against formal save-the-dates partly for this very reason– things happen in the interim, and if they do, you end up with situations like this. The bride should have been straightforward with you. If it was a numbers thing, she should have said it. If she decided she didn’t like you anymore, she should have said it. BOTH of these things are hurtful, and frankly, I don’t have much sympathy for the bride here. She should have been straight with you, and she definitely should have apologized.

      As sad as it is, I think you need to let her go. I would be pretty bummed by something like this, and it’s indicative of a lack of respect.

      I want to add this, though– I wouldn’t have had an issue with the bride if she hadn’t sent a save-the-date in the first place, you know? Sometimes people just don’t make the cut. It’s the dangling carrot nature of the thing that bugs me.

      1. fposte*

        Right. Either a save-the-date is a commitment on both sides, or it’s one of those asymmetric demands where you’re expected to commit but they’re just considering you an option.

    4. Ella*

      This is totally on the couple, not you. If there was no real reason for them to uninvited you, it sounds like they were overexcited and invited too many people initially via save the date, and then had to make cuts. They should have never sent out save the dates without figuring out their guest list constraints. And they should have reached out to you, however awkwardly, and uninvited you /apologized.

      Moving forward if you want to continue the friendship you can either wait to see if she contacts you later to hang out, or you can invite her to do something post-wedding. But i wouldn’t bank on explanations or apologies- especially since she danced around it when you were asking her (wtf)!

      1. tigerStripes*

        I think this might have been the problem – they had to make cuts, and they were too embarrassed to just tell you. If that’s it, she probably still wants to be friendly.

    5. Liane*

      I think, since the bride’s response when you called was evasive not embarrassed, that you might want to be the one cutting out her, or at least becoming more distant. I am not Miss Manners but I feel if the couple had to alter their plans so drastically that people who got save the date cards are cut, then it’s on them to swallow their pride and inform those people what happened while groveling in apology. Preferably before they are asked. They should also accept that the folks left off are not going to think well of them unless there was a dire crisis and the wedding funds had to be used on lifesaving emergency surgery, causing the festivities and list to be downsized.

    6. Iris Carpenter*

      How about the simplest explanation: The save-the-date messages went out before the final per-guest costing was fully known. Things were more expensive than expected so the budget ran out, and they had to revoke some invitations. If I was in that situation I would struggle to know how to handle it graciously.

      A card expressing this kind of assumption and giving best wishes to the couple could be a way to try to mend the friendship, if you want to.

      1. fposte*

        That might be a simple explanation, but it’s also kind of appalling. Once you’ve indicated to people that you’re intending them to come, even just by a save the date, that’s your main commitment, even if you have to cut the flowers to get there.

        1. Amadeo*

          Or at the very least have the guts to admit that the money ran out and the guest list had to be trimmed. Don’t be cagey, just tell the truth!

          1. fposte*

            And face the fact that that’s a shitty thing to do and you’ll lose friends over it. That’s a perfectly legitimate response to that sort of action.

            1. JamieS*

              IMO receiving a Save The Date is an indication the couple intends to invite me but it doesn’t make them obligated to invite me. However, it does make them obligated to inform me in a timely manner if plans change and I’m not longer on the invite list.

              In general, I think whether ending the friendship is a rational response to not being invited depends heavily on the specifics of the situation. If the couple tells you in a timely manner then I think cutting them out of your life over the “insult” of not being invited is an overreaction.

              If it’s a situation like Disinvited Guest’s where the couple (or a member of the couple) showed a complete lack of regard for our friendship then cutting them out would be an understandable reaction. I don’t know if I’d refuse if they made overtures but I certainly wouldn’t be the one calling them.

              1. JulieBulie*

                This; all of this. They might feel terrible about it, and if so I hope they will get around to telling you so, soon. If not, maybe you send them a card, if you want to, but after that the ball has to be in their court.

    7. Jubilance*

      The bride completely screwed up – anyone who receives a Save the Date is supposed to receive a wedding invitation, and not doing so is extremely rude. This is why people should figure out their guest list AND their venue BEFORE they send out Save the Dates, to avoid having to disinvite people due to space.

    8. Mike C.*

      The whole point of a “save the date” notice is to literally “save the date” from being planned for other activities. If you don’t receive an invitation, then what are you saving the date for? To quietly contemplate the wedding you aren’t going to?

    9. Thlayli*

      I actually did this (sort of). I sent out very early save the date messages on FB to people who lived out of country. So early I hadn’t even booked yet. It was like “FYI we have narrowed it down to this month and it will either be x or y date”. And then I didn’t do any other save the dates just sent out invites (we had a short engagement). We had a limit on how many people we could fit in the location so in the end I had to be ruthless in cutting people out due to not having enough space. One of the people who got cut was a friend of mine from a country i used to live in who I hadn’t seen in 5 years. and I utterly forgot I had sent her one of the “save the dates”. She messaged me about a month before to say isn’t your wedding coming up soon. I was sooo embarrassed. I had had some people say they weren’t coming so I actually had space so I immediately invited her and looked up flights and offered to pay for her flight and all because I was so embarrassed but in the end she decided she couldn’t afford it even just paying for accommodation and drinks. I think she probably knew all along she couldn’t afford it (she had recently been made redundant) so i guess no harm done but I was so embarrassed.

      Anyway, is it possible your friend did something similar? When you are making lists of who to invite you can so easily overlook someone who is in a category all on their own. You kind of go “my family, his family, my friends from school, my friends from college, my close friends etc” and if you have one friend that you know in one specific way with no others in that category it’s so easy to overlook them.

      Maybe she had to cut you due to limits of location or funds and she totally forgot she sent you a std card and then being “evasive” was just her being too embarrassed to be able to explain it.

    10. DisinvitedGuest*

      Thanks everyone! I’m guessing it was a money issue, maybe. She had a few friends go to LA as her bachelorette and the honeymoon is in Europe. We were high school friends and since moved away. I would have been sad to have not been invited at all, but also would have done some self reflection on whether I’ve been upholding my end of the friendship bargain with the distance. Maybe she was hoping things would blow over by the Thanksgiving/Christmas reunions.
      I fluctuated between being hurt and annoyed and sad and the whole range of emotions. I would have needed to travel for the wedding, so maybe she was hoping I wasn’t going to come and it would work itself out. Luckily I hadn’t booked plane tickets before I figured it out, and the hotel was able to be cancelled without a fee. I’m still jumping between being sad and being annoyed that no one was ever going to tell me I didn’t need to take off work that Friday and I could get my money back on travel arrangements.
      I am still single, but I’ve definitely gotten some ideas of what not to do from all of this.

      1. motherofdragons*

        You’d already booked a hotel?? That makes me mad on your behalf. This is exactly why you don’t send out Save the Dates unless you’re absolutely sure you can invite people! And if circumstances change, have the courage to let people know. You should not have had to call to find out what’s going on!

  13. ZSD*

    I just got back from a trip to Budapest, multiple parts of Slovenia, Venice, and Vienna. It was amazing! You should all add Slovenia to your must-see lists.

    1. Lily Evans*

      Slovenia is totally on my must visit list, but most people I tell that to haven’t really heard of it. One of my dream trips is to do a Slovenia- Austria- Czechia trip! What were your favorite things you did there?

      1. ZSD*

        I really enjoyed taking a guided tour through the Vrsic Pass. The tour company is mentioned in Rick Steves’s Eastern Europe book.
        My husband was a big fan of the Postojna Caves and Predjama Castle. They really are the coolest caves I’ve been to, and you get to take a train down into the deep part. The castle is actually built inside a cave.
        I also very much liked the town of Piran.
        Oh, and of course you have to see Lake Bled, which is one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been.
        You can just stay in Ljubljana and rent a car to get around from one town to another. It’s a small country, so out-and-back day trips work fine.

        1. Lily Evans*

          I had heard a bit about the caves but I had no idea there was a train and a castle inside them! I googled them both and they look so cool!

    2. Liblady*

      How safe is Budapest? My daughter is going there next January by herself for a swing dance convention as a college graduation gift. She has travelled internationally before but with family. This will be her first international trip alone. I am excited for her and worried at the same time. I truly have visions of “Taken” dancing around my head (my husband is no Liam Neeson…)

      1. ZSD*

        I just saw this now. Budapest seemed very safe to me. At least in the parts visitors would go to, even walking after dark seemed fine as far as I could tell. And everyone was very helpful and impressively multilingual.

      2. ZSD*

        Oh, I didn’t go to the bars, but I was warned to only pay cash at bars because unscrupulous ones will run your credit card twice. But even that’s just a rip off, not danger.

  14. FiveWheels*

    Fountain pens! Due to joint problems I write with fountain pens almost exclusively. Does anyone have any favourites? I’m currently in love with my Noodles’s Creeper.

    I think I might get into collecting vintage pens – I can be a bit of a hoarder and I like the idea of a collection I can really use.

    1. raisedeyebrow*

      I used to collect fountain pens, starting when I was about 17. I still have my collection of pens and ink, although sadly I don’t use them much anymore. My collection consists of: ice green Pilot Vanishing Point, musk green Visconti Van Gogh (midi) with a custom cursive italic nib, a couple of Levenger True Writers, a Lamy 2000, a couple of Lamy Al-Stars and Safaris, a Pelikan M400 White Tortoise, and a Pelikan M205 Blue Demonstrator. I’ve had dozens of others but sold/traded a lot away before arriving at my current collection.

      My favorite thrift store find was a Parker 51 in fantastic condition for $8. Cleaned it up and sold it online for $80.

      Sigh… You’re making me want to jump back in!

    2. Gingerblue*

      I love my Lamys! Inexpensive, modern looking, you can swap the nibs, and their nib selection includes calligraphy tips. My favorite pen for daily use is a strawberry pink Lamy Al-Star with a 1.1 mm nib (the smallest calligraphy tip, which adds some fun but is still very usable for normal writing). The broader tip lets the gradient effect on some inks really show.

      1. FiveWheels*

        I think I should get something with an italic nib. Stub doesn’t appeal so much because my handwriting tends to be small and messy.

        I know technically I could just get an italic nib for my Lamy Safari but why do that when I could have a whole new pen too?

    3. JulieBulie*

      I’ve got a recent Parker Jotter that I really like, but most people find Jotters too small/slippery for their hands. Unfortunately, these take proprietary cartridges – not even regular Parker carts/converters, but SHORT Parker carts/converters.

      Pilots are always great. These also take proprietary carts/converters, but Pilot/Namiki cartridges are easy to get, and you can refill them with any ink you like.

      I like a lot of the older Hero pens with the vacuum pump/whatever it’s called filler. The filler is kind of annoying to clean, but it holds a lot of ink. And the nibs are nice.

      I got a Pentel fountain pen (all plastic) at Staples a few months ago. It’s not very attractive, but it writes like a dream.

      I’ve not had great luck with vintage fountain pens that have built-in fillers. There are a lot of things that can go wrong with them.

    4. Mike C.*

      Hahahhaa yesssssss

      Ok, inexpensive fav is a Pilot Metropolitan. This think is like fountain pen crack – lightweight brass without feeling cheap, comes in tons of fun or professional colors, one of the smoothest writers I have and they are only around $15 each.

      Middle of the road, Lamys are great, but I have a fondness for TWSBI. These pens are around the $50, but you get a full sized piston-fill or vacumatic fill pen. Some issues with cracking here and there, but replacement parts are sent for the cost of shipping. But everything is designed to be fully serviced and taken apart by the user, which is really impressive.

      Higher end: I have a M600 in blue and a Vanishing Point in Blue, and they’re both impressive writers. The gold nibs are lots of fun to play with and they have an excellent feel. Hint: I paid nothing close to full price on these – check out import companies or Amazon Outlet for deals. My VP was only $60 for instance.

      1. Ninja*

        I got a Kaweco Lilliput for Christmas. It writes beautifully and takes Herbin inks, so lots of colors to choose from. Best if you have smaller hands, as it is a very slim pen.

        1. Mike C.*

          I need to add a Kaweco to my collection.

          I really want a Karos Customs pen in solid copper, but I’m not sure how heavy that would actually be.

  15. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

    So my grandmother just gifted me a fancy blender for making summer smoothies — anyone have good recipes? Tips and tricks? I’ve got leafy greens, peanut powder, and protein powder to make them meal-replacement worthy, but I’m having trouble with them winding up with a stiff and unpleasant froth for about half the smoothie. Doesn’t seem to get any of the fruit-sweetness, either.

    1. Ella*

      I used to love frozen fruit + Greek or regular yogurt (usually vanilla) + milk (you could substitute a non dairy milk). Sometimes I’d add flax seed or a banana or spinach something but that was my basic formula. The fruit & vanilla yogurt made it sweet enough to cover up the spinach. I’m sure there are tons of smoothie recipes online.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        I wonder if a non-dairy milk would get rid of the froth. It seems to be associated with using milk in smoothies. The ones where I haven’t used it as a base liquid haven’t had it, but I’m reluctant to add that much juice on top of the sugar in the fruit.

        1. K.*

          Smoothies are a regular part of my diet. I use coconut milk (the kind that comes in a carton in the dairy section, not the canned kind) or soy milk when I make mine. Never juice, always fresh or frozen fruit.

          A summer favorite is spinach or kale (if you use kale, blend it with the liquid first before adding the rest of the stuff, then re-blend), banana, kiwi, mango, cucumber, coconut milk and a little fresh mint. I always freeze the bananas (I just slice them up and keep them in a container in the freezer) because frozen banana makes for a really creamy smoothie.

    2. Applesauced*

      You can also use the blender to make fresh fruit smoothies!
      I’ve been doing spinach, banana, frozen pineapple, and coconut water – not quite dense enough for a meal replacement, but super refreshing!

        1. Jules the First*

          And let’s be honest – if you’re making popsicles, you need to check out Smitten Kitchen’s range of gourmet grownup popsicle recipes….which may or may not be the reason I invested in a set of popsicle moulds this summer.

    3. On Fire*

      Since all my favorite fresh fruits are available where I live now, I’ve been making smoothies that get all the recommended fruit credits in one fell swoop.
      I use one mango, one banana, one kiwi, a handful of raspberries, handful of blueberries, and 4-5 strawberries. You can also add an apricot, a couple sections of orange, or a handful of grapes, or even cut a slab of papaya into chunks before adding it to the processor.
      After it’s all blended, I add maybe 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt. Sometimes, since some of those fruits can be tart, I add about a tablespoon of honey.
      It does need to be made ahead so it can chill thoroughly – I made a bunch last weekend and put it in individual freezer bags and froze it. Now I get move one to the refrigerator the night before so it can thaw. In the morning, voila: breakfast contains a lot of nutrients, fiber and general yumminess.

    4. nep*

      If you use bananas in a smoothie, freeze them first then thaw ever so slightly. Makes for a really nice consistency. I like using hemp powder — nutritional boost and the taste is pleasant, mild.

    5. MsChanandlerBong*

      I do two cups of spinach, 1 T. flaxseed, one whole banana, and half a cup of blueberries.

    6. Yetanotherjennifer*

      The older the banana, the sweeter it is. My go to breakfast is a nutty banana chocolate smoothie. (1 small banana, a good handful or two of greens, and then a heaping tea spoon (from the silverware drawer) of cocoa powder, protein powder ground flax seed, and of either peanut butter or almond butter. Then I fill the cup with almond milk. The nut butter is unsweetened but the protein powder and the almond milk are sweetened and with the banana provide just enough sweetness. And like On Fire, I appreciate getting a fruit and veg out of the way in something that’s portable and drinkable. I use all sorts of greens: spinach, salad blends, baby kale, frozen spinach or kale. It’s a great way to use up CSA greens. Go easy at first with the protein powder and be sure to balance it out with some sort of fiber. I’ve also occasionally added raw oats.

    7. JulieBulie*

      Kefir is a little easier to blend than yogurt, and doesn’t get frothy. Some brands are sweeter than others. Lifeway kefir is fruit-flavored, so that might help.

    8. Mike C.*

      I’m a fan of the following:

      Rum – 1-4 parts
      Cream of Coconut – 1 part
      Pineapple Juice – 4 parts
      Orange Juice – 1 part

      Blend with ice.

    9. Sami*

      Pinterest is your friend here. There are tons of recipes. And specifics wrt what to add and when, depending on what you’re going for.

    10. PepperVL*

      I just started making smoothies while I was sick and was struggling to make myself eat, but could manage to drink. I blended 4 clementines, 2 (4oz) containers of black cherry yogurt, 3/4c ice, & a pinch of salt. I strained it after to remove the orange pulp, but you don’t have to if pulp doesn’t bother you.

    11. I am here now*

      Coconut water, protein powder and any frozen fruit. I love blueberries or strawberries with frozen banana added if you like it a bit thicker.

      1. Bibliovore*

        1/3 cup milk
        1/3 cup orange juice
        1/3 cup plain whole yogurt
        1/2 frozen banana sliced
        2 scoops Terra’s whey protein powder

        is my go-to… sometimes I use frozen peaches in place of the banana

  16. Wanderlust*

    My college-age sister is starting off her summer on a road trip with her friends right now and it’s got me thinking how much I want to do more trips with my friends. We did similar things our college summers and a few years following but lately, it is very difficult to make those kinds of things happen in my group of friends.

    I’m the unofficial planner of my friend group and it can be very hard to get them to settle or agree on anything. This weekend, I was organizing a group to see Wonder Woman and asked if people wanted Saturday evening or Sunday evening; half just responded with a positive for wanting to go but no indication on a date preference or even if they could do both. Last fall I tried to stir interest for a big trip that would happen around the summer time this year. Found an affordable option for a four day trip with Amtrak to a location most of us hadn’t been before. Pitched it to my friends and no one got invested. I asked if they had ideas for something else they’d rather do but other than talking hypothetically, no one would set anything in stone.

    We’re in our late 20’s, none of us have kids to consider, or are so broke that they couldn’t afford a trip, especially one planned out far in advance. So these trips are possible; it just seems hard to get them to commit to anything larger than a local outting. Many of us are figuring out our jobs and careers (myself just got a new job after searching for over a year to get out of a terrible job) which seems like the biggest factor but again manageable given enough of advance notice. I just think my friends have a hard time laying down a significant amount of money for a vacation, no matter how doable. There is a house an hour’s drive away designed to be a crafting house (lots of space, big tables) that is meant for crafting groups to rent for the weekend. We’re a big crafting group but when I asked my friends, they said why not do it at someone’s house and not spend the money on the rental? Makes sense financially but my point was to get away for a weekend.

    My questions (because I am actually seeking advice, not just rambling) are two:
    1) Any ideas on how I could get my friends to get out of the hypothetical stage and actually commit to a trip?
    2) If my friends aren’t that interested in doing these trips, anyone know where I could find people who do like to do this kind of thing? (I’ve seen the question of how to make friends in your post-college years on the open thread but specifically, how do you make friends with people who want do more active things like trips and the like? I don’t want to completely ditch my friends, still love them to death, but it would be nice to have more people to do more active things with.)

    And yes, I have done trips solo, they’re doable and fun, but I want to do trips with my friends. They just seem to always drag their heels on it.

    1. Allypopx*

      Could you keep an eye out for Groupons and group discount packages so that they feel like they’re taking advantage of a deal?

      It’s hard to judge other people’s finances from the outside – there could be very legitimate reasons they’re trying to save money or be frugal, and a getaway can be the kind of luxury that people are hesitant to drop money on. It doesn’t sound like it’s as big a priority for them as it is for you.

      Is there a way to split the difference? Do a day trip somewhere so you aren’t spending money on overnight lodging? Plan getaways to the beach or something similar that’s outdoorsy so you’re away but not spending a lot of money?

      As far as smaller things like the movie, maybe it would be easier to do things in smaller groups of two or three where it’s easier to coordinate, instead of trying to get a bunch of people on the same page?

      I’m sorry you’re so frustrated!

      1. Definitely Anon*

        Hmm you might be right about Groupon. If nothing else it would add sense of urgency to reply because we gotta get the discount before it goes away.

        I certainly don’t expect all my friends to agree to the same thing, I’m happy to do a trip with just a few. I throw it out to everyone in the hopes of some bites but the only one who seems to respond is one friend who would not make s good travel companion.

        Thinking about the trips we have been able to do, it seems easiest to get people to invest when we’re going to visit someone. A friend and I went to Florida twice to visit friends who were living down there for a few years and got to do some theme parks with them. Myself and two others went to visit a friend who lived up in New York for a time and we spent the weekend doing museums. But the majority of our friends are now back in the immediate area so I don’t have that option to inspire people to travel.

        1. Wanderlust*

          Oops messed up my screen names :P Oh well, still pretty anon since I don’t use a regular screen name here.

        2. Parcae*

          If non-responsiveness is a big part of the issue, set deadlines! “If you want to go on this outing, I need a firm commitment by Thursday at 8pm so I can book the cabin/train tickets/whatever.” The Organizer of my friend group does this– she can even get a little mean about it– and we all secretly love it because it forces us into decisions.

          I also agree with Fictional Butt below that it’s easier to just present one date and time for a yes/no vote. Giving people options feels more accommodating, but it’s really just giving them more to dither over. If your friends don’t like your suggestions, they are free to suggest and organize their own outings instead!

    2. Workaholic*

      Meetup? I know my area has hiking groups, camping groups (including a women only), and a travel group. The travel group seemed more like an attempt at forming but doesn’t do anything but maybe there’s something similar and active in your area.

    3. Fictional Butt*

      For small things like a movie, I think it’s better to be very concrete: “Want to see Wonder Woman at 8:20 pm on Saturday?” Then they can just say yes or no or request a different time, but you don’t need to do the whole thing of making every single person specify which day would be better.

      For big things like a trip, I’d actually do the opposite. It sounds like you’ve found things you wanted to do and then tried to get your friends on board. It’s nice that you’re willing to do the planning, but it can come of as a little pushy for something as expensive as a trip—I want to use my vacation budget (and PTO) for trips that will be really fun and special for me, not whatever trip my friend wants to go on. If you really want to travel with your friends, I think it would be better to frame it as “Hey, it would be super fun to go on vacation together. Are you all interested in that? Where would you like to go?” Then you can get a clearer picture of everyone’s preferences, budget, time available, etc. and (maybe) find a trip that actually is worth it for everyone.

      1. Fictional Butt*

        (So basically, frame it as “I like you and I want to travel with you because we’re friends,” not “I want to go on this specific trip and I need 3 other people to sign up.”)

      2. Becca*

        I absolutely agree about setting times/dates for small events! The easier it is to write something in pen on my calendar, the more likely I am to go. Waiting to know the final date on something means it can’t go on my calendar, which means my time might have become filled up with other things…. (Assuming I actually did more than one thing a day, anyway XD)

      3. Ella*

        I know I’ve turned down trips like this in the past, and for me it was partly this. It was also that it was a friends-only trip, and I’d want to bring my partner, given limited time & money.

    4. Lily Evans*

      You might never get your friends to commit to a bigger trip. I finally accepted that after years of trying to cajole my college friends into traveling together. It sucks, but some people just aren’t interested in that type of travel.

      But I’ve totally seen meet up groups that exist just to find people travel partners. YMMV with that, I’m in an urban area with lots of people so those groups are pretty large, but small towns probably won’t have them. There’s also the option of group tours, you wouldn’t know anyone before hand but could meet people pretty quickly. There might also be facebook groups for this kind of thing.

    5. The IT Manager*

      Since it’s hard to get agreement on a time, I get a couple of friends to agree to a date/time and then invite everyone else. That way I have a guaranteed fee to go with me and the others can come if they’re free. I did that for Wonder Woman this weekend.

      I know that doesn’t explain the trip you planned months and months in advance though.

      1. The IT Manager*

        Also for Wonder Woman I did the “the show will sell out” to get agreement before the weekend and I purchased tickets so we’re now all committed.

    6. Junior Dev*

      Honestly my response for these group organizing things is that the first couple people who get back to me with a day/time preference end up setting the date.

      If I ask if people would prefer Saturday or Sunday and most people express interest but don’t pick a time I’m going to set the time based on the first person who does say “Saturday is better for me” or “I can do Sunday but I have to be done by 5pm,” and then everyone else can decide they want to come or they don’t.

    7. pandq*

      The only suggestion I have is a possible way to find folks that are interested in traveling. There is a website
      called Thelma and Louise. I haven’t found someone to travel with yet because the timing hasn’t worked out, but I do have one new internet friend from it and I suspect we will travel together one day, perhaps once I am fully retired. Anyhow, there are women of all ages on it.

  17. Anon For This :(*

    I’ve been dealing with some pretty intense health anxiety and depression for the past few months. I got sick with a random, non-flu viral infection in late February (sore throat, fever, chills, you know the drill), and ended up having heart palpitations and shortness of breath and falling on the stairs in my apartment complex. I went to the ER afterward and they cleared me, but the near-syncope happened again while driving a few days later, resulting in another ER trip (in an ambulance that time). Since then I haven’t been able to drive, and I’m terrified constantly that I’m dying or will die soon.

    I’m scared of having a heart attack (I’m 25!). I even saw a cardiologist who did a 24-hour Holter, an echo, and a nuclear stress test with adenosine. All clear. I’m scared that my depression-fueled inactivity will cause me to have deep vein thrombosis, which will of course lead to my early death by pulmonary embolism. It doesn’t help that I recently tripped on my staircase and hit my calf, resulting in swelling and pain. My leg was sonogrammed two weeks ago, but since it’s still swollen and painful I worry that a blood clot is developing in it or will develop. Worst of all, I’m afraid that if something real DOES happen, I won’t believe it, or my husband won’t believe it, or the doctors at the ER nearest to my home won’t believe it, and THEN I’ll die. This is horrible! I cry all the time. It is exhausting to feel so terrified.

    I feel so embarrassed writing all of this, but I would love love love some advice or commiseration. I’m trying to stay away from “Dr. Google” and rely on (and believe!) my physicians’ opinions and diagnoses. I’m seeing a therapist, and I have a prescription for lorazepam for my panic attacks. I just don’t know what else I can be doing.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Is the lorazepam for acute relief during an actual panic attack or is it supposed to provide sustained relief?

      I can relate very strongly to a lot of what you said here. For a long time I was on an anti-depressant and had klonopin for my acute relief. But I always had that underlying current of anxiety. A couple of years ago, my doctor switched me to prozac for daily use and it has greatly improved my quality of life. I still have the klonopin as needed, but I find that I use it less and feel more stable. So it might be worth asking your doctor if switching up your meds will help.

      And you are not alone. I don’t know if that helps, but it’s true.

      1. Anon For This :(*

        The lorazepam is for acute relief during a panic attack. It was prescribed to me by my family doctor, but my therapist has suggested that I contact a psychiatrist to manage my medications. She thinks it would probably be helpful for me to take SSRIs, at least for a while. I feel the “underlying current of anxiety” pretty much constantly, and it would be amazing to have that toned down or disappear completely.

        Thank you for your comment. It’s really nice to know that I’m not the only person out there who feels like this.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          My family doctor manages my psych meds. They did a survey with me about my anxiety and I apparently scored really high (yay?) so she decided to try the Prozac. Before that, I tried both Lexapro and Zoloft. They had varying degrees of success though the Lexapro gave me some serious rage issues as a side effect.

          Good luck. It’s hard and scary, but don’t give up on trying to find something that helps. The other suggestion I have is to make sure you have a solid support system who can talk you down from your attacks in a way that works for you.

        2. JulieBulie*

          Heavens no, you’re not the only one. You need to find a specialist who will work with you and who you are comfortable with, so that you can feel free to discuss your concerns, side-effects, etc. Even with a less-than-ideal treatment plan and doctor, I saw a lot of improvement. But my life changed when I found the right doctor who really listened and who knew the right questions to ask.

        3. Windchime*

          You are definitely not alone. I used to take lorazepam for anxiety but my problem was that I couldn’t really recognize when I needed to take it until it was too late and I was a wreck. I’ve recently changed to buspirone and zoloft and it’s been life changing. I’m much more level and don’t experience the constant anxiety and irritability that I was having before.

          Hang in there. It can be hard to find the right combination of meds and lifestyle to get anxiety/depression under control but it sounds like you are on the right track.

    2. blackcat*

      My guess is the lorazepam is for acute attacks, right? You might want to talk to your doctor about an SSRI to see if that will take the edge off, too, at least until therapy starts helping.

      I have found that meditation helps me–learning to let certain thoughts go is really, really helpful. I *have* the sorts of thoughts you’re describing (“OMG, my heart is beating too hard! OMG I swear my left arm hurts! Am I having a heart attack?! Am I going to die!?!!!”) but my response to them is different–rather than spiraling, I’m able to just let it go and keep moving on with my day. Often, it stops with the first thought (“Oh, my heart is beating hard. I should have some water.”). The first step is not labeling those thoughts as “bad.” Treating them as something more like “I hear a bird” takes their power away. This takes work and time, but it can be very helpful (I mostly learned my skills at an intensive, 4 day zen retreat at a farm. When we weren’t meditating, eating or sleeping, we were doing manual labor). Maybe you can find a meditation class to try out. Be aware that it may make things worse at first–after all, you’ll be giving yourself an hour or so to just sit and think! But in the long run, it could be very helpful. Maybe it is something to try after figuring out medication.

      If it is at ALL possible, do try to find a way to exercise. It is particularly helpful for anxiety–biologically, our anxiety response is preparing us to do something, physically. Letting the body do that–by running, doing jumping jacks, jumping a rope, etc–helps process the physiological anxiety response. Try to use up that adrenaline. I know it may be hard to do something with your injured leg, but maybe you can do an intense thing with your arms? (Do you have a Wii? Wii sports boxing could be great).

      I know how scary heart palpitations can be, but I promise you can get through this!

      (And, if it makes you feel any better, I *also* do have a life-threatening condition, in the form of allergies. It has always, always been taken seriously by doctors. And, interestingly, I do not panic at all when suffering a very bad reaction. The few times I have gone into anaphylactic shock, the thought of “I’m going to die now” isn’t one of panic–it just feels like a fact. A fact that I know deep in the core of my being, somehow. In talking to doctors, they say this is a very, very common feeling when experiencing a heart attack or anaphylaxis: calmness, coupled with a “sense of impending doom.” So, at least for me, the biological “I might die now” response is 100% different from the anxiety-driven “I’m gonna die!” response. Knowing that there is a difference helps me.)

    3. name required*

      Did something happen a few months ago when you started having these symptoms? I had very similar ones that started after a close friend died rather suddenly. Even though from where I stand now his death and my symptoms have a clear connection, at the time, in the midst of excruciating grief, it was not clear at all. I think my therapist is the one who first suggested the connection. My anxiety did not go away right away but it helped to understand what was going on, even as I sometimes also ended up seeking urgent care.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. Grief will give a person irregular heart beats and even cause the heart to stop. Grief is a profound emotion.

    4. fposte*

      Health anxiety is a pretty common form of anxiety, but it seems under-discussed to me. I’m not seeing any mention of therapy there, and that seems to be one of the most recommended treatments, especially DBT or CBT. I’ve heard lots of recommendations for Claire Weekes’ books from Commonwealth folks; I imagine they’d be just as useful for Americans as well.

      1. Anon For This :(*

        Thank you so much for replying to my comment. I just bought Hope and Health for Your Nerves by Claire Weekes, and in just the first few chapters I’ve bookmarked several pages. I can actually see myself in the situations she’s describing. The way she writes is really accessible, straightforward, and surprisingly comforting. Thank you again!

      2. Ramona Flowers*

        This sounds like part anxiety and part pure-o ocd, possibly. Therapy is potentially worth trying.

        1. Anon For This :(*

          It’s funny that you mention OCD–my therapist and I just did an OCD inventory during my last session and I had a “significant” total score, and the checking and obsessions categories were the categories with the highest individual scores. I’ve suspected for a long time that I might have OCD (checking and double checking and triple checking even simple things like work emails or the door being locked).

        2. Fortitude Jones*

          I was about to say – I have very similar symptoms, and my new therapist believes it’s OCD. In addition to doing cognitive behavioral therapy, she wants me to take Luvox – my GP, however, thinks I should wait a bit to see how therapy goes before prescribing it to me, so I see these two duking it out in the near future.

    5. Anxa*

      Are you at all familiar with BII/I phobia?

      DVT is like, the worst to me. I’ve gotten by this far on knowing I’m too young for a heart attack, but now that I’m 30+ I can’t count on this line of thinking.

      1. Anon For This :(*

        My dad and I have both experienced fainting while having blood drawn, receiving shots, etc. I’ve only fainted twice under these circumstances (and I’m not allowed to give blood at workplace blood drives anymore because of this haha), but my dad faints pretty much every time. I use applied tension now to avoid getting woozy and fainting when this happens. Every once in a while I’ll have a heck of a time getting blood drawn (one phlebotomist had to draw blood from a shoulder vein, and that threw me for a LOOP), but usually I’m okay now. Not sure if that counts for BII/I phobia… I can bring it up with my therapist though.

        And ughhhh DVT. :( I could handle the heart attack stuff pretty well and knew that it was mostly irrational for a 25 year old without a family history of heart attack and heart disease, but especially when my calf is hurting I have a hard time with DVT. Both of my legs have been sonogrammed within the last couple of weeks for separate instances of calf pain and both were clear, but the fear is still there.

  18. LadyKelvin*

    I’m in Taiwan! We get tomorrow off from our meeting and so I’m going to get up early and go to the fish market and then hopefully wander around the city for a bit before we do a group thing at the local maritime museum. Notice a theme? We’re all fish people so we like to do fish related things. Unfortunately we are currently have record breaking rain with tons of flooding so hopefully it dries out before I leave on Thursday. I’m having a great time, and thank goodness I’m only here for 8 days, because I think I am going to gain 10 pounds in this short time span already. The food is second only to that which we ate in Greece. I’m also celebrating my 30th birthday Monday which is exciting and terrifying. Bah why do ages and age milestones carry so much baggage.

    No real questions, just happy to be traveling somewhere cool. :)

    1. katamia*

      Ooh, nice! Where in Taiwan are you, if you’re comfortable with sharing? I lived in Taipei for a bit.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      Have fun, and good luck avoiding the flooding! My weekend plans have been “stay in and avoid the rain”.

      Do you need food recommendations for Taipei?

      1. LadyKelvin*

        Haha thanks but I’m basically eating everything I can. I’m here with some locals so they order, I eat. The first night we were here we had a traditional dinner so I got to try sea snails, flying fish, sea cucumber, jellyfish, and probably 100 other things.

    3. Jules the First*

      For the record, turning 30 was awesome and liberating – I woke up finally feeling like I had my sh*t together and could consider myself reasonably adult. It was a great birthday and not at all terrifying.

      (On the other hand, single and childless and staring down the barrel of being too old to legitimately say I’m in my early 30s is distinctly less fun, so YMMV….)

  19. Sorgatani*

    Feeling slightly accomplished this week – the flight tickets for Nullus Anxietas (Aus DW Con) are booked!
    I’ve been working on fresh headgear for my costume.
    Can’t believe it’s in 2 months time!
    I am new to making plans, and this one feels like it’s coming together nicely.

    The other half has suggested we take a trip to Tasmania sometime soon as well to visit his grandparents.
    I’d like that. We mostly do day-trips rather than holidays, so I’m looking forward to branching out!

    This week, unlike last, I’ve seen no sign of odd neighbours.
    All round, I’m quite content.

  20. OfficePrincess*

    Does anyone here have experience with intense unexplained fatigue? I have been completely exhausted since Wednesday and my muscles even have that tired useless ache. I’m talking barely keeping my head up at work, taking 2-3 hour naps, and still being in bed by 8 resulting in 12-15 hours of sleep per day. I went to the doctor yesterday. She ordered a bunch of blood work but I’m in limbo until it comes back next week. Any tips?

    1. nep*

      Great that you’ve done the blood work. Hope that will help identify a cause.
      Is this a new phenomenon for you?
      I would just say be sure you’re getting plenty of water while you await the results of the blood work. Perhaps you’re deficient in vitamin D or iron.
      All the best.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        ^ I like those responses for quick fixes. “Hydrate more” is pretty much always a good answer for sudden-onset unwellness, and if you’re in the northern hemisphere, heading into summer can = you’re dehydrating faster than usual.

      2. OfficePrincess*

        I’ve always been someone who needed a solid 8 hours of sleep, but this level of exhaustion is new this week. Thanks to a history of kidney stones, I drink roughly 90-100 ounces of water a day, though that has dropped off a bit this last week. I’ve been so tired I just haven’t thought about it/felt like getting up to refill my bottle. I will definitely make an effort to ramp it back up.

        I’m coming to the conclusion that I can’t sleep this off, so I need to figure out how to cope. My usual multivitamin has 100% b6 & b12, but I’m also seeking out smoothies and juices to bump this up. I also take additional D on top of my multivitamin and my iron was good when I gave blood 3 weeks ago.

        Stress-wise my inlaws stayed with us last weekend, but left Sunday. We spent Sunday afternoon relaxing and Monday hanging out with friends. I actually felt really balanced and content heading into the week but was unusually tired after work Tuesday and barely staying awake at work the rest of the week.

        1. Emmbee*

          Are you possibly pregnant? Extreme fatigue was one of the first symptoms during both of my pregnancies.

          1. OfficePrincess*

            As far as I know I shouldn’t be. I have an IUD that’s been in place for about a year and a half, but I haven’t had a period once the initial spotting ended after insertion. Crap. It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world (married, stable jobs, new house), but definitely not in the plans.

        2. JulieBulie*

          You might be someone like me who bears up well under immediate stress, and then crashes a few days or weeks after the crisis is over. (Not that in-laws are necessarily a crisis, but if you spent a lot of time/angst preparing for their arrival, your body might have thought you were in battle mode.) But it’s good that you had the bloodwork, just in case. I hope you feel better!

          Could also be that you got a mild case of some bug that’s going around.

    2. Ange*

      I’ve had that a couple of times in the past – the only thing that was abnormal on my blood was high bilirubin since it turned out I have Gilbert syndrome. Eventually the fatugue went away on its own. The only link I found between the times that it happened was that both times I was under a lot of stress (final year at uni for one and bad relationship for another).
      Last time was years ago, and I don’t remember if I found anything that helped (apart from ending the stressful situation which is not always possible) .
      Sorry this has not been all that helpful, but maybe some relaxation exercises might help?

    3. misspiggy*

      Plenty of salt and liquids. Protein on getting up. Magnesium supplements at night. And going to bed really early, even if you don’t sleep. Good luck!

      1. OfficePrincess*

        I just added a magnesium supplement to the grocery list. I’m definitely hydrating, and have been going to bed between 7-8 lately.

    4. Dinosaur*

      You probably don’t have what I have (fibromyalgia) but when I start feeling like that, I take a long hot bath with Epsom salts followed by a set of stretches to help with the muscle aches, and I sleep as much as possible. I know you said that you don’t think you’ll be able to sleep it off but it can’t hurt to try if your body is telling you to rest. As for making it through the day at work, I drink lots of green tea. Caffeine isn’t great for a body that’s fatigued but we have to make it work somehow and I justify it by reminding myself that I’m also getting a ton of hydration out of it. I hope the blood tests come back with something easy and simple to treat. Feel better!

    5. Paula, with Two Kids*

      Just be patient and wait for the bloodwork. b-12, iron, or thyroid could come up (and there can be lots of reasons, even without cycling). No big deal once they get you adjusted. Good luck. I also find that pantethine gives me a little boost as well.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      This is exactly how I felt when my thyroid started to quit working. But since you had blood work, I’m sure the doctor probably included that. I don’t have any tips, but good luck–I hope you figure it out!

    7. Lo Flow*

      I was experiencing this last month, and it lasted for three weeks. I was tested for Lyme disease, mono, and lupus. All negative. My B12 was a bit low. My MD this it was just a viris. Sucks, been cycling through various bugs and infections since November.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Lyme disease? Found any ticks lately? Are you in the northeast or have you traveled to the northeast?

      OR. How is life going? The times I have been the most tired is when life sucked. Most of the awfulness came from my job. Do you like your job, are things going okay there? Any major personal losses/griefs happen with in, say, the past year?

      OR. Do you have gas appliances in your house? Do you have a working CO detector? Are your chimneys drafting correctly? (oil heat, wood heat, etc)

      How about allergies? Congestion? Bowels working in a healthy manner? Have you sprayed a new pesticide around your home?

      How’s your car? Any funny smells inside the car?

      For me, I have to keep an eye on what they do at work, if there is a lot of painting going on or if they use a bug killer and even things that are part of the job will zone me right out. I remember one job dealing with formaldehyde. oh man. I would go home, sit in a chair for a few hours then go to bed.

      These are all things that have either caught me or someone I know. Keep your eyes open, look for something that has changed or is not usual in your life.

    9. Thlayli*

      Fatigue can be caused by so many different things. Blood work should show almost all of them.

      As others have said drink plenty of water. Sleep. a decent multivitamin including iron and vitamin c might help. You can ask your pharmacist for a “tonic” which is basically a short term multivitamin drink that often includes probiotics. They are used for people recovering from something usually but can also help if you’re just run down.

      Other than that just wait for the blood work and don’t google it because fatigue is a symptom of basically everything!

      1. Connie-Lynne*

        This — fatigue can be so many things. I personally have had it from as minor as a cold, jet lag, or allergies to serious events like pregnancy or cancer!

        Speculation until you get the bloodwork results back is just gonna drive you wild; instead, be kind to yourself and allow that for at least a couple weeks you’re gonna need some extra sleep and maybe not be as able to get things done as you generally are. I often had a hard time forgiving myself for not being “up to snuff” all the time. I’m not saying you’re doing that, but if you are, remember that if this is something minor, then it was just a few weeks until you sorted it, and if it was something big, being gentle with yourself is getting ahead of the game.

    10. Dead Quote Olympics*

      Good that you already have blood work in process. Did you recently have a cold that seemed to clear up? Our office went through a cycle in late winter where people would catch a pretty nasty cold, get over it (or so we thought) and then go through about three weeks of intermittent extreme fatigue/ need to sleep. We’d come back to work, be fine for a couple of days, and then 2 hours into the next workday, announce we needed to go home and crash. It was one of the weirdest viruses I’ve ever had. We got SO BORED of reading, binge watching, knitting, and all those other things people do when they can’t get off the sofa.

    11. TL -*

      This happened to me in high school and I had mono.
      So I basically slept it off over 6 months – it was really acute for a month or two (my parents basically just let me sleep) and then I just slowly started getting less tired.

    12. Shayland*

      I have this issue post seizure. And to a lesser extent if I have low blood sugar, and dehydrated, or suffering from a depressive episode I experience it as well.

    13. Coffee and Mountains*

      Late to the party, but this is how I felt about for a month before I got a shingles rash. I just got by with taking it easy and lots of naps. Good luck, it’s rough.

  21. Fictional Butt*

    I’m moving on from a bad roommate situation right now, and trying to figure out how to make the next one less bad. I need some advice on how to set expectations at the beginning of a roommate relationship (I already know who my new roommates will be, so don’t need roommate screening advice). I think the main problem with my current situation was that my roommate and I have wildly different ideas about what a minimum level of cleanliness is, how common space should be shared, etc. Once I realized that, I was kind of too shocked to bring it up with her—I didn’t know how to say “Hey, can you please not leave an entire plate of food on the living room floor for days on end?” without sounding rude because WHO DOES THAT? And it just seemed like such an awkward imbalance—it just really felt like parenting, like she was still used to having a mom to clean up after her, and I didn’t know how to correct that in a roommate-appropriate way.

    1. Red Reader*

      Before you move in (if possible), have a chat about it. My housemate (going on five years now) and I went out for dinner and basically just discussed our expectations as far as chores, who was going to pay what bills and how we were going to handle finances for household stuff, individual quirks (I get reeeeeeally twitchy at having people I’ve never met before in my home, so we agreed that before she invited anyone over, I’d at least have one occasion to meet them in a non-home social setting first, that kind of thing), and whatnot.

      It has generally ended up being a case where she’s lousy at picking up after herself, but when I go “Hey, take care of your nonsense” or otherwise tell her to do chore x, she’s perfectly happy to go “Oh, right,” and do it. But since we knew going into it that was a possibility, it works fine, as evidenced by the fact that we’ve lived together for five years (and have since added both our SOs) and intend to continue to live together for god knows how long.

      1. Fictional Butt*

        Thanks, this sounds like a good idea. Especially just the concept of having an actual meeting to formally start the roommate relationship. My roommate and I have never interacted much outside of being roommates, which I think also makes it weird. It’s that “5 positive interactions for every negative interaction” thing– it’s hard to keep that ratio when we barely interact at all!

        1. Red Reader*

          We’ve transitioned a bit – technically now, instead of equal housemates, I’m the landlord. But since I tended to do most of the household management to begin with, that’s worked out pretty well still. We (and both our fellows) were all collectively friends for several years before we started cohabiting and we wanted to make sure we stayed friends!!

    2. blackcat*

      My best roommate and I did a weekly, weekend meeting. Most often on Sunday mornings, but at other times if that worked best.

      We discussed
      1) Meals for the week, who would go to the store when (we split food and cooked for each other to save $$)
      2) Our planned comings and goings that week (related to the above. If one of us had an evening class, the other would cook)
      3) Any random things that had come up/problems one of us was having (that heating bill was high. Can we turn the temperature down? or Is that drain slow enough now that we should call the landlords?)
      4) When we’d do laundry. We had to go to a laundromat, but they had huge machines, so it saved $$ to do our laundry together in bigger machines.

      This worked great, since there was a set way to bring up, “Hey, X has been bothering me. What can we do to fix it?” But part of why it worked great is that we were both reasonable adults who were used to taking care of ourselves. I don’t know what to do about someone who leaves out food for days (!!!).

    3. Lily Evans*

      I had the same problem with the roommate I’m leaving! She did so many gross things like that that were so far from what I considered normal behavior that I had no idea how to even address it and just resigned myself to it. Which was totally the wrong approach, so I’m definitely going to be keeping an eye on this thread!

    4. Pearl*

      I also couldn’t figure out how to say things like “Why is there a spaghetti sauce jar full of water and mold next to the sink?” to my old roommate. The longer I live with the new one, the more horrified I am that I couldn’t confront the old one directly. I think if I had said something the first time it bothered me, there wouldn’t have been so much inertia stopping me. So when I got a new roommate, I was determined that part of “getting to know you” involved the kind of conversations my RA encouraged us to have with roommates in the dorm: cleaning, noise, common space, visitors, feelings about food/clothing/stuff-sharing.

      I was nervous to bring up cleaning with new roommate but started with two things: Sharing ridiculous old-roommate stories and asking about preferred cleaning products. “Oh my god, we have a dishwasher?! That’s so great, old roommate once cooked fish and then left the pan next to the sink for 3 months. I like (X) brand dish soap.” New roommate was equally horrified, and I had a natural opening to say, “I’m not obsessive about cleaning but I don’t leave things in the sink for more than a day.” Then we talked about our preferred cleaning products, which naturally led to how often we used them. We also discussed what cleaning implements we already owned. This meant that one of the first things we ever did was get on a common footing about cleaning so now it’s not weird or awkward to mention it to each other.

      Since then we have just settled into a routine based on what we care more about. I like to scrub the stove, she likes to swiffer the floors, I care about the bathroom soap and she cares about the kitchen soap. The problems we’ve had to talk about have been building-related rather than us-related but the expectation that we will talk about it makes it not awkward. For us it’s natural to discuss anything on the weekends, but that’s because she works nights and we don’t actually see each other during the week unless one of us is off work.

    5. Red*

      I’d suggest having a frank talk before you start living together, and write up a set of rules between you. This way, you can ensure your new housemate isn’t an animal, and they can make sure you don’t do things that would bother them, as well.

    6. Zathras*

      A straightforward conversation ahead of time is a good idea, I did that with my current roommates and it was great. It helped lay some “ground rules” and gave everyone an idea of where our habits were in conflict. It’s also a good opening to talk about what kind of cleaning schedule you are comfortable with, and which chores you enjoy vs. hate. Discussing the difference between tidy and clean is useful as well – general living room clutter is very different from unwashed dishes.

      Assuming you are both reasonably self-aware, you can also tell each other up front about your known flaws. One of mine is that I leave water glasses and tea mugs around – not for days, but I will get up and wander away from where my mug is and only notice when I want to use it again. But sharing up front that I know I do this and appreciate help changing the behavior makes it easier for people to say “Zathras, you left your tea mug in the living room again.”

      Also, I have discovered that given the choice, I vastly prefer a roommate who is a little on the untidy side but cheerfully cleans up when the mess is pointed out, vs. one who is naturally more tidy but reacts poorly or defensively to constructive criticism.

  22. Mischa*

    So last week I sold my brother my two old guitars. He never paid me. That’s fine, I’ll get the money later. Well, this morning he calls and says, “Hey, I’ve got your money, it’s really embarrassing, but let me tell you why.” To which I hastily reply, “no, that’s okay, you really don’t need to tell me why.” Basically, he is accusing his wife of squirreling away money and they were short on the rent, he thinks she’s going to leave, etc. It makes me mad that he burdened me with this stuff. I love his wife so hearing him talk about her like that makes me so mad (my brother is kind of a jerk). Plus he has issues he won’t work on. Moreover, I do NOT want to be involved in this at all. If they split, my opinion of my SIL will not change and I doubt he will like that. Am I being too sensitive? My family are huge oversharers, to a damaging degree.

    1. Allypopx*

      Hm. That seems like a normal thing to share with family, but every dynamic is different. Sharing information isn’t necessarily making you involved – whether or not you do anything to act on that information is up to you.

    2. Becca*

      I feel you! My brother has historically been much less pleasant than his wife. I think that in a possibly life-changing situation (i.e. perhaps about to divorce), a lot of people will want to unburden themselves to someone they trust. It’s more about easing their own mental state than disturbing someone else’s, if that makes sense.

      To answer your question, you’re not being oversensitive to not want to hear about this. Your confidence in knowing what you want will make keeping out of this a whole lot easier! Just enforce the boundary whenever your brother tries to unload his troubles on you— one “I don’t want to talk about this. Subject change!”, then say “Bye!” and hang up/walk out/etc if he keeps going. It sounds like you know the drill. :) Good luck and I’m sorry you’re dealing with this.

      1. Mischa*

        He also woke me up by calling at 7am, on my one day I can sleep in, so I may be a bit salty about that. I love my brother but he is drama to the nth degree. I should’ve been more clear earlier, but after I told him “no, don’t need to know,” he then unloaded everything on me, including his wife squirreling away money. It’s also really irritating that he only calls to complain, never to just say hey :(

        1. Becca*

          Oh man, that’s so obnoxious! I don’t blame you at all for being aggravated, yikes. 7am is early to call for ANY non-emergency, much less just to complain.

          If you have a smartphone, is there a way you can set his calls to not ring? As in, he’ll call, your phone won’t ring/vibrate, you’ll see you have a missed call from him when you do check your phone, and you can call back or ignore it as you like? (I know a lot of smartphones have “do not disturb” modes, so for days you want to sleep in or times when you don’t want to be bothered, that might be helpful in general.)

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Maybe I am too hard-hearted in instances like this but I tend toward what will be will be, bro. And it might come out like this, “Well if you think she is leaving then this gives you a chance to make changes to save your marriage.” Taking pro-active steps is annoying to some people. And it might be annoying enough to slow down the oversharing. So your over all template would be, “I am sorry you have X problem. What steps are you willing to take to lessen or solve X problem?”

      1. Mischa*

        Oh I love this. It’s exactly what my internal dialogue has been, but I haven’t been able to phrase it well.

  23. Jessesgirl72*

    For 3 weeks, we’ve been trying to have a fence put in our back yard. The fencers we hired had good reviews (except for one, which they had addressed on Angie’s List with a plausible explanation) and OMG, we were wrong. After a series of lies and excuses (like they didn’t show up to start as promised”because of weather” -0r call- when it didn’t start raining until after 1pm!) we have 2/3 of a fence “up” with such shoddy workmanship (run right across landscaping edging, bending the fence, and they told us it’s “standard practice” to not attach the chain link to the top rail or support poles, except for on the corners…) that my husband finally told them last night- after they cut out at 2pm (showed up at 8:30am and took an hour lunch) and didn’t respond to any messages asking when they’d come back to FINISH the job they said would take 2 days!- and told them they are in breach of contract and that anyone from the company who is on our property will be charged with trespassing. THEN the guy called back, with all the excuses, etc and finally said he’d call his lawyer. He said there was “nothing in the contract” saying he had to work more than a 4 1/2 hour day. He says he’s going to take us to court. My husband pointed out that a judge is going to go by standard practice and reasonable assumptions that a “work day” is more than 4 1/2 hours. This is extra stupid because after he’d blown us off on start dates, etc, we asked a retired contractor friend from church to stop by to keep an eye on the work from time to time, since my husband couldn’t keep taking WFH days for them to not show up, so we have an expert witness to both the shoddy workmanship and their short hours on sunny days .(and no show on just potentially rainy ones!) And he was the reason they didn’t show up on Thursday- after setting the posts on Wednesday (they worked almost 5 hours that day), when he introduced himself they suddenly remembered they couldn’t finish the next day, but had to let the cement cure for 24 hours- despite telling me they’d for sure finish Thursday, just an hour before he arrived!

    So my husband was out hanging a gate and installing a lock at 10pm in the dark, to discourage trespassers, and will have to finish the last run himself, and then properly attach the entire fence- they would need to cut through the neighbor’s yard and trees to enter our property.

    And the really sad part? It will cost us less to just pay them the remainder of what we owe, than to defend ourselves in court!

      1. Jerry Vandesic*

        They can just file a mechanics lien without having to go to court. The lien will cloud the title on your property, and would need to be dealt with if you ever wanted to sell.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          I think they might be too lazy even for that. ;) And you can always dispute it.

          But we’ll probably just pay them to go away.

            1. Jessesgirl72*

              Oh, we already had done that last week, when I first wanted to just tell them to forget about it before they even started (They convinced DH to let them “make it right”) Then saw my reviews and called to harass us about it, saying leaving bad reviews was “unnecessary” and why should he work only to get negative reviews (I mean, I thought they were doing it because we were paying them to!) So I promised to edit the reviews at the end, to reflect the work.

              I am a woman of my word. I even added pictures! ;)

              Did I mention that they aren’t too smart?

  24. Jessesgirl72*

    We booked our airbnb apartment for our 5 weeks in Kiev this week, while we wait for our baby and his passport, and then yesterday was the surrogate’s 32 week scan. They always do the 4D scans at the clinic, and send up video. He looks like a real baby, and has my husband’s family nose! He’s about 4 lbs already, and will probably be in the 8lb range if he goes the whole 40 weeks. So exciting!

    1. Jules the First*

      Oh congrats! I’m totally broody at the moment and super envious of all my pregnant friends and acquaintances….

  25. The Other Dawn*

    Thank you to the person who recommended the Food52 cookbook club on Facebook. I joined and borrowed this month’s cookbook, Ottolengi, from the library. Unfortunately it seems to be a lot of recipes with ingredients I would never have in my kitchen and there are lots of ingredients I’ve never even heard of. I’ll likely be sticking to the dessert section.

    I have to say, the people in the club seem to be very experienced cooks, judging by the pictures of the finished recipe. Very good photographers, too.

    1. PM-NYC*

      So glad you’re liking it! For me it was a bit intimidating that some people are really experienced cooks, but I found when I posted something that maybe didn’t turn out as expected people were really nice & helpful. Ingredients can be tricky but it obviously varies month to month with each book (in the upcoming months there’s a French style cookbook, an American one, etc.) so some months might be easier ingredient-wise.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, very intimidating to me, too!

        I had posted a comment that the cookbook would be challenging because of the “exotic” ingredients I’ll have to hunt down and buy, as well as having a husband that has zero adventurous taste buds. Someone commented back that it was “very interesting, because [she] hadn’t had to buy anything for [her] pantry.” I just thought, “Good for you…”

        1. PM-NYC*

          Ha, what an unhelpful reply she gave you. I think a lot of people that live in big urban centers (myself included) or are willing to go to 5 (!) stores to track an ingredient down can lose a bit of perspective. My library hold on my Ottolenghi book hasn’t come in yet, but maybe he lists substitutions for difficult to find ingredients? Not sure.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            Yes he does mention substitutions which is great. I don’t mind buying a few things I normally don’t buy and I’m willing to search, but some recipes have quite a few ingredients that would have to be searched out or would be expensive. I found some recipes, though.

        2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

          I looked at an Ottolenghi cookbook once and didn’t buy it because while everything looked amazing, the amount of specialist ingredients was absurd. I look at his recipes in the Guardian once in a while and they look tasty but I still am not going to run out and get X even if I can find it more easily here. I like a challenging recipe but one I KNOW will turn out: a) tasty and b) not take 7 hours in the kitchen to produce two small portions that are fine but had 30 steps too many for the ultimate result. Also, I like latitude for my own flair and with his recipes I didn’t think there was space for that.

          Don’t feel bad – its not just you in your opinion of it! :) Maybe skip this month and try next month :)

    2. Lizabeth*

      Check out Vivian Howard’s Deep Run Roots cookbook. I watch her show A Chef’s Life religiously. Besides being ingredient friendly it’s a really good read – to the point I wrote a fan letter to her!

    3. Overeducated*

      I’m thinking of joining, but I’m not sure what I’d make, even though you get to pick a recipe from ANY of his books. I have, and have cooked a lot out of, Jerusalem, which is more of a “home cooking” than “restaurant cooking” book. I also enjoyed Plenty when I got it out of the library. But I also have Nopi and Plenty More, which were gifts, and I haven’t cooked from them at all. The recipes I haven’t cooked yet, I haven’t cooked because the complex process or ingredients don’t fit my current lifestyle.

      His recipes have a LOT of ingredients, and I think the newer cookbooks call for more of them, as well as rely on a key ingredient my family can’t eat (sesame, in seed, oil, or tahini form), or a main ingredient my spouse hates (eggplant or mushroom). These are all vegetarian savory staples in a vegetarian cookbook, and very common in Mediterranean food, so I teased my spouse for giving it to me when we can’t/won’t eat most of the recipes.

      I will say that if you only have to buy one or two extra things, it’s worth making one of his savory dishes, most of the ones I’ve made have had delicious and interesting flavor combinations. I think you have the one of his cookbooks i haven’t tried or I’d recommend something.

    4. Pieforbreakfast*

      I returned to school at 36 to get a career that was not necessarily more meaningful but was a better use of my time, and much better pay. I chose nursing. It was worth it because of the pay increase and I enjoy the weird little niche job I fell into but I am sooooo not a Nurse as much as someone who has a RN license. There are some intense nurses out there! I work for less pay than I could elsewhere (still 2.5x what I had before), and there’s no position to advance to within the organization but I am okay with that. My husband is pretty much in the same position.

      We don’t have kids, we enjoy those that are in our life from family and friends. We just survived- intact- a major house remodeling project, which sounded really trite when I complained to friends dealing with child issues, but whatever. Both my parents and my MIL are at the age where more support is needed and our lifestyle enables us to step-in more often, and less stressfully, than I think would be if there were kids and intense jobs involved as well.

      I think the biggest challenge for me with choosing this life- and some of it was chosen passively and not intentionally- was that it is completely different then the narrative I had grown up with and developed as a younger person, especially the kid thing. It sounds like this might be where you are at the moment, but continue to be honest with yourself about what you want and you’re comfort with your decisions will come.

    5. Nye*

      Oh, I love the Ottolenghi cookbooks! The recipes are really solid, and often introduce me to flavors I didn’t grow up cooking with. My absolute favorite so far, make it for company on the regular recipe is Roasted Chicken with Clementines & Arak. It did require me to buy a few new things, but now that it’s entered our dinner rotation they’ve just been added to our pantry. Highly recommended, and this is coming from someone who doesn’t like anise.

    6. Jules the First*

      Ottolenghi is notorious for featuring wacky ingredients but in a lot of cases you can leave them out or substitute them (sumac, for example, you can swap for lemon juice with a bit of zest; use your favourite chile sauce in a little bit of tomato paste instead of harissa). The other thing I’ve been known to do is to Google the dish that I’m trying to make from Ottolenghi’s version, and see what other recipes call for – that usually uncovers some useful substitutes (ingredients) and shortcuts (method).

      Or you could pop over to Smitten Kitchen and see whether she’s hacked an Ottolenghi recipe that strikes your fancy (she’s awesome at taking fiddly recipes with specialist ingredients and distilling them down to just the very essential, so you know if she insists that you faff about and actually do step 36, it will be worth the effort)

  26. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

    I am 35 and a while back, quit my full-time career/job to go back to school. I have zero interest in having children, and now that I’m only working part-time remotely, I don’t even have a ton of interest in a career. My husband is the same way. He makes good money and does very well at his job, but doesn’t have career goals or ambition. He wants a job that doesn’t interfere with his life.

    We’re married, we own a home, we live well below our means, we’re both reasonably intelligent but don’t want kids or a “career.” It seems like everyone I know is focused on one or both. I’m starting to feel like there’s something wrong with me. Is there??

    1. Hrovitnir*

      Noooo! I am someone who cares about having a career I enjoy, though I have less than 0 interest in “moving up” and cannot relate to being ambitious in that way (I’m ambitious in wanting to be good at what I do and pursuing opportunities but I do not want more power than I can avoid), and don’t want children.

      My partner is like your husband in terms of wanting a job that doesn’t interfere with his life. He loves kids and is great with them, but I have always been very up front about never, ever wanting to birth kids and he’s down with it. We did have my teenage brother live with us for a few years and I am maybe interested in fostering in the future. We do both love animals a lot and have a lot of them.

      I just wish it was more common to understand and accept your own drives and preferences without attaching a moral judgement. It’s OK to not want kids – it’s OK to not want them passionately, or just decide it’s not important enough to you with the way your life is shaping up. It’s OK to want kids – passionately, or just by letting life happen and being really happy if it does happen.

      There’s a certain amount of lip service paid to the value of diversity but the reality is that there can be mild to severe social consequences to deviating from the expected norm. See also: being happy working a service job, being non-monogaamous, not giving kids the father’s name: all sorts of things that intersect heavily with various axes of oppression, particularly classism when it comes to things like jobs and having kids.

    2. Sorgatani*

      Seems as if you have things in hand to me.
      What was the concept? Hygge? Warm contentment?
      Enjoy the moment.

      I have a theory that career and family plans are pathways to the ‘enjoy the fruits of your labor’ phase of adult contentment that you already have.

      Your quiet, below-the-means lifestyle sounds nice to me.

    3. neverjaunty*

      No, why would there be?

      Different people like different things and are happy in different ways. You’ve found yours.

    4. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Nope – we are in the same boat as you. Never wanted kids, have achieved quite a few goals together etc. Sometimes I catch myself with being “bored” but that just means I need to find new experiences and goals. I have something akin to a career but I don’t want to develop along the lines of a traditional path anymore and am interested more in going a more independent route. That’s ok too, just have to recognize that most people and systems are set up for the “straight and narrow” path. Deviate from that for whatever reason and you have to have belief in yourself and your choices. There is no right or wrong way to live life, in fact I would say it takes a lot of courage to go your own way.

    5. EA*

      I don’t think so at all.

      If you dont have anything in your life you. Are about (hobbies, etc) then I would recommend a depression screening. But if you have interests and a life outside of work, I think you are fine. Society tells us we must have a family and a high powered career to be happy, but I disagree. Happiness is personal.

      I’ve written on here before about my struggle of accepting I am a ‘work to live not live to work’ type of person. If you research other cultures, you find a work to live attitudes.

      1. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

        I do have depression, but I also have hobbies. We love the outdoors and traveling, I love to read, I’m back in school, I love pets and my cat and hiking and camping… so I definitely have interests. I’ve just never met people like us in both regards.

    6. AnonJen*

      My spouse and I are the same. We don’t have children and while we are both what would be considered “successful” in our careers – we just work to live. We have a nice salaries and keep our skills current so we’re relevant in the job market but the focus is our life outside of work; volunteering, travel, and hobbies. People are wired differently and some people realize too late that they focused too much on career and missed out on the rest of life. You do you – it’s your life and in the end you are only accountable to yourself.

    7. Pieforbreakfast*

      I just left a long reply for you on the post above yours, because as well as being content with my non-traditional lifestyle I seem to not care about typical commenting styles either.

    8. Cristina in England*

      As an American abroad, trust me, you are more normal than you think. In my experience outside the US, what you’re saying is very common!

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I don’t see anything wrong here.

      The only thing I would caution you about is to make a plan of what each of you would do without the other. Can you keep the house? How will you meet living expenses? We bought the house when I was 32, he passed when I was 45. I know first hand that a half -baked plan, poorly executed is better than no plan and it might actually save someones’butt. I was able to refi and cut the mortgage by 55%. In a turn of sheer luck, I was able to insulate and get a new furnace which reduced my heat bill by at least 45%. (My heat had become more expensive than my mortgage.) I did all this because we had a half-baked plan to start with.

      You don’t need to make a huge detailed plan, but you do need to have some thing that you can begin to work with. It’s not nice to think about being alone and boy, do I understand that. But it’s probably one of the most loving things you can do for each other. If you guys think of it as putting the other one in a safe place, that might help a little.

      1. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

        I’m so sorry for your loss.

        We both lived alone before we were together and are pretty independent. When we bought the house, we made sure only one of our incomes was considered in the amount we were approved for and still stayed below that.

    10. Loz*

      No. Your life, you do what you like with it. In fact being childless is less demanding on society and the environment. Not taking work too seriously reduces the chance of being a domineering asshole in the name of career. You also experience more making you more interesting and rounded as a person (IMO)
      More power to you.

    11. Elkay*

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with you but I empathise because I’m in a similar situation. I’m kind of at the “what now?” stage because we don’t want to focus on kids or career and spending every weekend on the sofa watching Netflix doesn’t seem like a great use of a life.

      1. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

        I don’t really have the feelings of “what now” although sometimes I do want to be a foster parent! But other than that, my life feels full – I have school and work but my favorite things are tht volunteering I do, hiking, camping, traveling. Things I feel I couldn’t do with kids or a real career… At least not as easily.

        1. LS*

          I see that most of the replies are from people without kids. I have kids, and a career. My career goals are simply to develop my skills, do interesting work with people I respect and make enough money to pay the bills. If I could work part time I definitely would (I used to). I guess not everyone would call that a career. I would love to have more time for travel, hobbies, volunteering, as you do – enjoy the life you’ve created – it sounds as though it works for you, and that’s what matters.

    12. Menacia*

      No! Hubby and I have been married for almost 15 years (been together almost 20), never wanted kids, each of us is more than gainfully employed, mortgage and debt-free and are now planning for our retirements (I’m 52 and he’s 56) which includes a brand new home in Florida in about 6 years. We are very comfortable with the choices we have made in our life, and while we enjoy our nieces and nephews, would not change a thing.

  27. Sugar of lead*

    So I think I might be somewhere on the spectrum? I asked a NP about it a month or two ago, unofficially, and she said that I have a lot of autistic traits (sensitivity to noise and touch, focused interests, social difficulties, executive dysfunction, likes routine and consistency, stimming, perseveration). I want to get formally evaluated; does anyone know how I might go about this? Would insurance cover it? If not, how much out of pocket? Do I need a referral or can I just call people? I live in the US, if that’s important.

    Also, is a formal diagnosis something I’m going to regret? I know it’s the weekend, but I don’t want to lose my job, and I work someplace that could probably justify firing me for being autistic because you have to be mentally tough to work in this field. There might be other unforeseen consequences too.

    1. katamia*

      Just because you have a formal diagnosis (if indeed you do) doesn’t mean you have to share that formal diagnosis with anyone you don’t want to share it with.

    2. Shayland*

      I know that you can’t immigrate to a few places (like Canada) with the autism diagnoses, and it can cause some doctors to treat you differently and unfairly if they see that on your chart.

    3. Rylla*

      I was diagnosed on the spectrum at 27 by essentially lucking into university counseling with an expert in adult autism; I’m extremely high functioning (his words) so I have massive amounts of coping skills that precluded anyone from noticing earlier (also, I’m female, so when I was young no one was really looking for girls on the spectrum). I found the actual diagnosis comforting for self-knowledge, and it’s made me more aware of preparing for certain situations (I meltdown if travel plans go awry pretty consistently). But I haven’t disclosed it to my employer – I may or may not also have ADHD (the executive function issues might be solely from ASD; I never did the traditional barrage of testing due to the expense involved) and I feel like there is a lot less stigma now around ADHD, so if it becomes relevant to workplace accommodations, I’m much more comfortable saying I have ADHD as opposed to autism. Also, my career is in a profession that deals with a lot of people/socializing, and while I’m aware of the limits to my ability to read people at times and make personal adjustments where needed, I’m afraid that if I were to disclose being autistic it would impact my career path.

      If you believe it will cost you your employment, I would probably shy away from pursuing formal diagnosis. The question to ask is probably what would you do with a formal diagnosis, vs a self diagnosis? ASD typically isn’t medicated so it’s not a matter of accessing restricted medications (unless you do need access to ADHD meds for treating executive dysfunction and other symptoms, because you do need some kind of diagnosis to get a hold of many of them). If you feel like you might need workplace accommodations, then formal diagnosis would be useful, but if you are worried about being fired, then you wouldn’t want to disclose anyway. I completely understand the appeal of just having the matter of “Am I or am I not?” settled, so to speak, so I do sympathize if that’s really what you’re after. Only you can decide if it’s worth the risk, and possibly the expense depending on whether or not your insurance will pay for it.

    4. Anxa*

      You may regret a formal diagnosis if you find that you don’t require a lot of healthcare intervention to manage it, but that it reduces your ability to remain insured in the future. I personally am not and have never been confident that the ACA would remain completely intact (or improved) through different administrations and I think it’s reasonable to be concerned.

      If you’re already uninsurable, it probably doesn’t matter. Also, your health records may already have enough information for an insurer to not insure you or that condition. And hopefully I’m just being paranoid and that the US healthcare system will only get more patient protective and less punitive.

      I want to say that you shouldn’t think about this and that knowledge is power and that I’m probably being paranoid, but I remember the pre-ACA minefield of “is this bad enough to forfeit future care to address/treat” dance a little too clearly and I’m not confident yet that Americans are in the clear over whether or not they can just try to stay informed as possible without it backfiring. I wonder what it’s like to just live your life without that hanging over you all of the time.

    5. Mimmy*

      I think I have some autistic traits (which I think I’ve read are somewhat common in those with my disability) and have thought about getting a formal diagnosis. However, I was talking to my sister about this last summer, and she cautioned against this because of the label. I think there is still a lot of misunderstanding about the capabilities of people on the spectrum. No, you don’t have to disclose to anyone if you don’t want to, but you may have to if you request any accommodations at work (or school, if you were to go back for a degree).

      Having a diagnosis could certainly explain why you feel or act a certain way, but sometimes I think it’s perfectly fine to just view your traits as what makes you “you”. When I describe my sensitivities or awkwardness, I don’t say “I’m probably on the autism spectrum.”, I may just say “I don’t like a lot of people talking at once…one at a time please” or “Sorry, I’m a little awkward with making eye contact”.

  28. Aurora Leigh*

    I tell you guys, it has been a week!

    I came home to my admittedly somewhat dumpy apt Tues night through my back door, heard a noise in the hall that I didn’t think much of, but when I go the light on, I saw that my front door was standing open!!!

    It was still locked (with a flimsy lock) and the chain was just about broken, and the hook and eye was pulled clean out of the door! Tried to call the landlord, but it was 9:30 pm so if course too late for him to answer the phone. So I called the police and filed a report and then spent the night with friends.

    Finally got in touch with the landlord at 10:00 am the next day and got him to come over to look at the door. Well, he said the lock wasn’t broken so he wasn’t going to fix it. I told him I wanted a deadbolt on that door (In a young woman and I love alone) and he flipped out! He was mad that I called the cops about it, said it was probably my fault since no one tried to break into the other apts and told me if I didn’t like it I could move.

    So yeah, I have one month to get out and I’ll probably never see the deposit again, because someone tried to break in.

    Luckily, my finances are better now than when I moved in a year and half ago, so I can afford to find a better place.

    And then yesterday, the landlord leaves me a message that he sold the building yesterday and the new owner is coming by today.

    My boyfriend is convinced my landlord is somehow behind the break in.

    I will be so glad to get out of this place!

    1. paul*

      You might want to talk to a tenants rights organizations about the deposit. Laws vary hugely by jurisdiction. here he’d be OK to do that to you, other places he wouldn’t be–worth checking on, if for no other reason than an F-U to the guy.

      1. neverjaunty*

        THIS. The idea that he can withhold your security deposit because a burglar broke in is almost certainly nonsense.

      2. Aurora Leigh*

        I’m planning to turn him in to the city building inspector and the landlord association when I’m out. He’s done a lot of crappy things while I’ve lived here (the furnace struggled to keep the indoor temp at 55 this winter).

        Whether or not I get my deposit back will be up to the new landlord I guess. There were a lot of things wrong when I moved in, but I didn’t think to document that so, there’s no proof I’m not the one that wrecked the place.

        1. neverjaunty*

          There’s no proof that you wrecked the place, either, and normal wear and tear probably isn’t something he can ding you for.

          PLEASE talk to a tenant rights group now (they often have helpful info on websites) to lay the ground work for protecting yourself.

    2. Jessesgirl72*

      Depending on your jurisdiction, the dead bolt might be required code for rentals (it is in California) Look into what the laws are, and feel free to report the violations.

    3. Hrovitnir*

      What?? I know nothing about the laws or regulations in NZ, never mind the US so I’ll just say – that sounds shady as hell.

      I’m really glad you have the ability to move quickly, that is really disturbing. Being mad about you wanting a deadbolt/calling the cops? Step on all the lego, dude.

    4. Pearl*

      My coworker had a similar break-in and a landlord who refused to fix the window or put bars in. That sucks! I hope you can find a better place quickly and do manage to get your deposit back.

    5. Shayland*

      Ugh, I have a not so great landlord as well. It took a month after I moved in for the construction on the kitchen to actually be done, when she said it would be finished before I moved in. I still don’t have internet. She’s terrible at responding to my emails and texts about the issue. And also, I can’t receive mail at this address because there is only one mail box for the whole building of seven apartments and I’m just not okay with that number of people having access to my mail. This also might be illegal. My grandfather was a mailman and would know, if he was still alive.

      Not as bad as your landlord though, as I’m not being forced out or anything.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        I am SOOO grateful to have my current landlord. The last one was a cheapskate who refused to hire a professional to do anything. Our sewer pipe cracked, so it was draining sewage into our (dirt) basement. The sewer gas smell was so strong that I was throwing up and getting headaches. You’d think he’d send a plumber right over. No. It took SIX DAYS to get a plumber to the house and have him diagnose the problem. Did they pay him to fix it? No. He and his father half-assed it, as they always do, and there was another crack in the pipe by the time we moved out. Worst landlord ever.

        1. Shayland*

          Oh… Oh god.

          I’m feeling a little ill just reading about that. I can’t believe you LIVED it. As soon as I can I’m buying my own place. I just want total control, so that I can make things happen when they need to happen and be the one paying the workers so I can talk to them about their performance and what not. And for so many other reasons. But yeah.

        2. Amadeo*

          I swear, renting needs to be among the Olympic sports! A division for tenants and a division for landlords with medals for the worst tenant/landlord stories. I’m fortunate that I’ve never had anything too dire happen to me while renting. Just the one dude who’d show up unannounced until my GSD wouldn’t let him in one day and he finally had to give me notice he was coming into my apartment to do some work. It was disconcerting coming home to stuff moved around so he could do upgrades and stuff (he’d just bought the building).

          A place full of sewer gas sounds *awful*!

    6. Lo Flow*

      Please do not call your landlord when you should be calling the police first. My tenants do this to me, if you call the police the bad guy might be in the area for them to catch. Yes call me after the police.

  29. Loopy*

    It’s my birthday weekend and I have no plans. Any ideas for some cheap, easy ways to treat myself this weekend?? :) I have new books, my first meal delivery kit arriving but am looking for some new ideas to make me not get mopey about being alone!

    If nothing else, what would you do for yourself in this situation? :)

    1. WG*

      Week, it depends on what you enjoy and what’s available in your area. Are there any local events occurring with low cost or free admission? My area has a free art exhibit in the downtown area this weekend where local artists display their work in store windows. It’s no cost and gets people out and about walking around to see the artwork. Maybe your area has shows, fundraisers, fairs, concerts, or events going on that you might enjoy? Sometimes local TV or radio station web sites will list some of these community events.

      Do you have any hobbies you want to spend time doing? Any hiking or outdoor activities, if the weather in you area is nice this weekend and you like that type of thing?

      1. misspiggy*

        Happy birthday! Buy yourself some flowers. You could visit somewhere you haven’t been before and can wander in, like a market, a museum or a high end store. Dress up for the outing and be extra gracious to staff, like you’re a lady or gentleman of leisure. Take a book and read it over a treat in the nicest cafe you know. That’s what I’d do, anyway!

        1. Loopy*

          I think I’ll dress up tomorrow. Today is way too hot. I always feel nice when I put a little extra effort in.

      2. Loopy*

        Thanks for this! There’s a free concert that sounds really good. It’s farther than I’d usually travel (45 minutes) but I’m trying not to talk myself out of it!

    2. Wanderlust*

      If it’s nice weather, look for events going on nearby. Random festivals, craft shows, some have small ticket prices or some are free. I’ve stumbled into seafood festivals and the out of boredom and really enjoyed them.

      1. Loopy*

        I found a free concert! Its an annual thing I had forgotten about! I actually went last year. This is my first time going alone and sometimes I really struggle with doing things alone, especially when it’s a place with lots of couple and families. So I’m a little nervous I’ll get sad when I’m there but I’m going to try really hard not to.

    3. Sled dog mama*

      When I was first out of college, living alone and far from family my favorite solo activity was people watching. Pick a big mall (on a rainy day) or big park, get your favorite coffee or tea shop beverage and take a seat somewhere. Really fun and entertaining.

      1. Loopy*

        I picked an outdoor concert and I’m going to try and focus on people watching so I don’t get too hung up on the fact I’ll be somewhere with lots of couples and families but will be alone. I hope this helps! Thanks for the suggestion!

    4. PX*

      Cake! Even though I’ve totally failed at buying cake for my last few birthdays, I always maintain you should have cake on your birthday :D

        1. misspiggy*

          Definitely. Hope you enjoyed the concert and/or any other birthday activities!

    5. Junior Dev*

      If you like the outdoors and reading, you can make yourself a picnic lunch and take it on a hike or bike ride. With perhaps a book or craft project to work on after.

      1. Loopy*

        I LOVE the outdoors. But I am also in the deep south and it’s unbearably hot to even sit outdoors during most of the day! But thanks for the suggestion!!!

    6. Elizabeth West*

      Happy birthday!
      I spent mine alone last week. I ate junk food and did whatever I wanted. I’ve spent many birthdays alone and dislike it intensely, so I make it All-About-Me Day. :)

    7. Loopy*

      UPDATE: I’m so glad you guys encouraged me to go out. It really was a great time. I have now seen a man play on a stringed ax. I have a video. It happened. It was amazing.

      And the female in the band was rocking the washboard like an epic rockstar. She is my hero.

      For those who are curious it was: Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band. Not my usual genre but they were SO fun to watch.


  30. Roommate Woes*

    I have an annoying roommate situation that I’ll likely have to endure for another year. I’ve lived here for two and a half years. My friend Kaylee asked if I wanted to rent a house with her and another friend I’d only met a few times Zoe. Kaylee and I were roommates in college so I knew we’d be fine living together and she vouched for Zoe as they’d been friends for years. However Zoe has been the biggest pain in the butt.

    She is very self-centered. Every discussion of household related things comes down to her refusing to compromise. We ask her to move her car forward in the driveway so we can fit another car in there and she won’t because she doesn’t want to put her car that far back. She turns the thermostat down really low to the point that Kaylee and I are freezing but won’t meet us in the middle of everyone’s comfort levels. In general Zoe is very negative. I take ten minutes to talk about how my work day was and she takes 45-60 minutes (I’ve times her) complaining about every minor aspect of the day.

    Worse yet, she’s adopted all our friends as her own. When I first met her, she mentioned how she’d lost touch with her college friends because they all moved off campus into one apartment and cut ties with her (yeah, that should have been a big tip off). But now she has become part of the college friend groups Kaylee and I have. Some of my other friends have outright told me they can’t stand her but feel obligated to invite her because she’s our roommate. Likewise, if I were to try to plan something without her, Zoe gets mad about being left out.

    I was excited for this summer because she’d been talking about moving out. However she just got a new job that is only a ten minute commute from our house and said recently she’d stay one more year. I told Kaylee when Zoe wasn’t around and she sighed in disappointment. She’s told me that Zoe is one of her oldest and best friends but she didn’t realize how miserable she’d be to live with. (And yes to the old advice to never live with friends!). I don’t want to move out because I love this house and love living with Kaylee but Zoe is making each day a real strain.

    So how do I survive another year with Zoe, someone who I don’t even want as a friend, much less a roommate? I want to cut down on inviting her to friend gatherings but she gets snotty when she’s left out. Sometimes I find myself bending over backwards to schedule things when I know she’ll be busy so she can’t come. I can’t get out of household discussions with her since they are necessary but I’d love to get her to stop her long winded negative daily rants. Any ideas?

    1. neverjaunty*

      Stop bending over backwards. Stop allowing her to dictate that everything be done according to her preferences with no compromise. Stop being a doormat.

      What’s she going to do? Sulk and stop talking to you? Awesome, then you don’t have to listen to her blabber at you for 45 minutes and you can stop inviting her places.

    2. Roommate Woes*

      And I know this might seem an odd thing to complain about. I’ve heard much worse roommate stories (co-worker was once out of town on vacation and got a call from her drug dealing roommates to not come home because the police were watching the house) but the things Zoe does definitely weigh on me and Kaylee enough that we vent to each other when she’s not there. Kaylee recently mentioned wanting to have a sit down with Zoe to discuss things but we’ve tried that in the past and it just gets Zoe mad, she gets defensive real quick and has to be right in evey situation. I think to push the envelope any further would just make things unbearable to live with her, not encourage her to move unfortunately.

    3. Allypopx*

      I mean, I’d just let her be snotty, personally. I don’t like reinforcing negative behavior in adults. If she gets snotty I’d ignore her, don’t give her the satisfaction of a reaction. When she rants I’d try “Did anything GOOD happen today?” or “I only have five minutes – what’s the cliffnotes version?” and try to find something to occupy yourself after those five minutes. I’d call her out on her constant negativity too. However, I know people like to avoid conflict in their living situations.

      It’s extreme, but can you guys tell her you don’t want her to stay? Regardless you’re under no obligation to include her in all your social activities.

      1. Roommate Woes*

        I’d love to tell her to pack and leave but her family and Kaylee’s family have been friends for years, it’s how they became friends. Their families invite each other over for major holidays and the like. So Kaylee doesn’t want to force her to leave since they’d still see each other a lot and it wod sour their friendship. I can easily cut her from my life; Kaylee, not so much because of their family ties.

          1. Roommate Woes*

            It’s something I’ve been thinking of. I love living with Kaylee and I love the place we live (cheapest rent you’ll find in our state) but Zoe is starting to make it intolerable. When I even voiced the hypothetical to leave, Kaylee freaked because that would be her alone with Zoe. But maybe I need to seriously consider it and tell Kaylee that Zoe is the main reason, maybe that would get her to help me edge Zoe out.

            1. neverjaunty*

              Kaylee wants you to stay and be miserable so that *she* won’t be stuck with Zoe?

              Sounds like Zoe isn’t the only jerk here.

              1. The Cosmic Avenger*

                Yeah, I feel bad for Kaylee, but she is being a bad friend in first inflicting Zoe on you, then putting the burden of dealing with Zoe’s crap all on you. If inflicting Zoe on you somehow made it easier on Kaylee, then I’d be a little more sympathetic (only a little), but it’s not even like she’s getting less crap from Zoe! Kaylee may freak out, but she needs to figure out how to grow the f*** up and deal with her friend.

                Have you thought about recommending Captain Awkward to her? I am not a regular reader, but I know a lot of commenters are, and this sounds like just the kind of thing they deal with there. In fact, I know they have a lot of good material on calmly and firmly drawing boundaries and not letting people walk all over you, and it sounds like that’s exactly what Kaylee needs to hear.

    4. Jessesgirl72*

      Why does she get to dictate that she stays? Give her 30 days notice or whatever is required to get out.

      1. Roommate Woes*

        We have no official grounds to kick her out other than being really annoying to live with. And, as I mentioned above, because of her and Kaylee’s family ties, Kaylee wouldn’t want to strain the relationship since they’d still see each other regularly.

        1. neverjaunty*

          Then Kaylee can make that choice on her own, instead of offloading the stress of living with Zoe onto you.

          You’re not her personal sin-eater.

        2. paul*

          Are there contracts in place?

          At any rate, stand up for yourself here. Be assertive and at times aggressive. Tell her you aren’t interested in talking to her when she wants to drone on about her work day. Make her pay more utilities for lowering the thermostat. Next time she leaves while y’all are there, block her out of the driveway. Tell her she isn’t invited to stuff.

          If you don’t stand up for yourself it won’t change.

        3. WellRed*

          No need for official grounds unless she has a lease. Be firmer but sympathetic with Kaylee on how untenable this is. Or, take a page from the askamanager.com playbook and manage Zoe out of the house.

          1. Dan*

            I think that’s probably state specific. Landlord/tenant law often favors the tenant, with or without a lease. Does Kaylee or OP even have standing to kick out Zoe? Landlords get a little more slack if the house is a single-family owner-occupied dwelling, but if the whole thing is considered a rental property and neither Kaylee or OP own it, I don’t think it’s quite so simple to kick Zoe out.

      2. Dan*

        Landlord/tennant law is state and sometimes municipality specific, so if someone wants to kick someone else out, consulting with a lawyer would be a good idea. My state considers people “tennants” even if they’re not on a lease; I could give someone “30 days notice” and it would be legally meaningless.

        1. paul*

          what do you have to do in your state? In ours if there isn’t a contract you’re required to give either 30 or 60 (I forget) days notice that their lease will be up.

      3. JamieS*

        She gets to dictate because, if I’m reading the situation correctly, they are all renting a house someone else owns and are all on the lease. As far as I know that means none of them have the authority to kick anyone else out.

        The only advice I really have is to grow a backbone and sit down with Zoe & Kaylee. Tell them for you to stay there has to be a written roommate agreement in place, make sure at least the financial aspects are legally enforceable, and Zoe has to compromise in the agreement. If they can’t agree to that stick to your guns and move out.

        It’d also probably be a good idea to talk to Kaylee before talking to both of them to get a feel of where she stands. If she’s willing to back you up and say she’ll also leave if Zoe doesn’t compromise that may cause Zoe to decide to leave if she can’t compromise and/or afford the place on her own. Strength in numbers and all. However it sounds like Kaylee is trying to be Switzerland so I wouldn’t expect much from her.

        To summarize: stand up for yourself, get a written agreement, move out if needed.

    5. JenM*

      Stop accommodating her. Turn up the thermostat to a more comfortable level. Stop listening to her rants. If she gets mad you left her out … let her get mad. And dont ask her to move her car. Tell her. All of this may lead to a blow out but maybe that’s for the best?

    6. Ruffingit*

      Move out. Kaylee can handle her relationship with Zoe any way she wishes, but you don’t have to deal with her. If Kaylee doesn’t want to be stuck with Zoe alone, then Kaylee needs to handle that. Find another place close to work, maybe with roommates you can stand and then move out. This situation is ridiculous and you don’t have to keep living with it, pun intended.

    7. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think you should either move out or ask Zoe to, but the other option would be to say to her, “If we’re re-upping for another year, we need to change some ground rules. You need to share the driveway, we need to compromise on the thermostat, etc. etc. If you’d not up for that, we should go our separate ways.”

      But really, you should probably move out if Kaylee refuses to ask Zoe to leave.

      1. neverjaunty*

        “I brought in this horrible roommate and you have to stay because I don’t want to be alone with her” is a bed Kaylee ought to lie in by herself.

    8. Dan*

      There’s enough stuff going on where this isn’t going to matter much, but one thing to check with when you get a new roommate is what temperature they like. It’s much easier for a person who likes things warm to layer up than it is for someone who likes things cool to layer down. My ideal temperature is 68, and it’s hard for me to sleep if it’s any warmer than that.

      1. neverjaunty*

        But presumably that’s the kind of thing you can at least make an effort compromise on. Can we turn the temperature down at night? Open windows in one room? Not, this is what I need and I’ll sulk if you don’t get it.

      2. blackcat*

        Ha, both me and my former roommate preferred it warm, but we were also both cheapskates. Thus, our apartment was always cold.

      3. TL -*

        Ugh, I hate being told to layer up, especially in a warmer season. I have no problem being bundled up in winter but in summer/late spring/early fall, I want to be warm wearing as little clothing as possible.

      4. Connie-Lynne*

        IME that claim that layering up is easier is untrue. I sleep with an electric blanket, pajamas, and socks when it’s 68F in the house and my clothes catch in the blankets and otherwise make it hard to sleep.

        Compromise up a couple degrees and you’ll at least be doing me the kindness of not forcing me to sleep in a hat and gloves. It’s really hard to sleep when you’re freezing , and when you’re bundled like the Michelin Man.

        Home thermostat wars: just as bad as those in the office!

    9. Nic*

      I’m going to recommend an approach that I totally pilfered from Captain Awkward.

      Have that talk, even if it probably won’t work. Lay down some ground rules. Then, stick to your side. If one of the things you talk about is “your negativity is bringing us all down”, for example, if she starts to get negative remind her, and if it doesn’t change just leave the room.

      It will suck. But it will suck less each time you do it. And eventually you may be able to train her that she won’t get ANY attention if she doesn’t behave appropriately.

      I suggest checking out Captain Awkward, too. She has some truly fantastic stuff about laying down boundaries with difficult people.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      So you guys are going to put up with another year of this to save the family relationships?

      And you don’t think the family will be mad at you if you kill her before the year is up?

      Seriously, there is way too much drama here. Your roommate needs to grow up. Tell her she cannot stay with you unless she decides to behave like an adult. She needs to do the basic things that the two of you are doing. You can also tell her that she will have problems keeping roommates if she does not clean up her act.

      You CAN kick her out and the family will NOT be mad at you. They already know how she is and they are wondering how much longer you two will put up with it. I cannot explain how I know this first hand, but I do.

      The damage that could happen over the next year could be far worse than you kicking her out now. Things could happen that could end relationships forever. Talk to her, if she pouts tell her adults don’t pout. If she carries on, tell her adults don’t carry on. Additionally, when she talks negative stop her ASAP and tell her you don’t want to listen to it. If she feels that bad over something then perhaps she should seek help. Remind her that with the privilege of living on her own comes the responsibilities of being an adult.

    11. AcademiaNut*

      I agree with others that moving out is probably a good option. I think the chances of Zoe changing are slim. If you were stuck for a year, then it would be worth the drama and conflict of trying to retrain her, but if you can get out it probably isn’t.

      And Kaylee is on Zoe’s side on this, unfortunately. I’m not sure you can even count on her to help push back against Zoe’s behaviour, because of the family issues. And it’s definitely not your job to keep Kaylee company in misery because she doesn’t want to move out.

    12. KR*

      I think the most important thing to keep in mind is someone is going to be unhappy here. Zoe will be because she got kicked out, or your roommate will be because she’s stuck with Zoe, or you will be because you either have to find a new place to live or put up with Zoe for another year. I don’t think there’s a solution that involves not making Zoe angry or making things a little complex for Kaylee or making you move or be frustrated with Zoe for a year. So your choices are to be upset for next year, lay down some ground rules with Zoe, kick her out, or move out.

  31. Liane*

    PSA for those needing a pick-me-up or to restore their faith in humanity.
    The Not Always Right website, that repository of tales about ultra-stupid or supremely jerky customers (& employees) has a bright side!

    Look in the middle of the top menu for Hopeless, as in Not Always Hopeless. These are heartwarming stories of workers, customers, neighbors, etc. being kind.

    1. Nina*

      Co-sign on Not Always Hopeless. I had to stop reading Not Always Right because it wasn’t funny anymore, just depressing.

  32. EA*

    Can anyone shed some light on what is considered ~normal~ or American parenting these days?

    I ask because my bosses (both upper middle class to upper class people) spend a lot of time talking about their children, and their parenting seems alien to me. Basically, the have one very narrow path for their children, they need to go to prestigious colleges, and enter high paid professional careers (doctor, lawyer, high end finance) – this is the only acceptable option, and if this is not achieved, the parents have failed. One of their children does art for a hobby – and this is an unacceptable hobby which must be stopped. She is 13 year old.

    Is this how the other half is raising their children, and I just never saw because I am not upper class? I seems absurd with a high chance of unhappy children and failure (child refusing, wanting to do something different).

    1. neverjaunty*

      This is not new, but your bosses are also jerks. The idea that art is an unacceptable hobby is weird.

    2. Ruffingit*

      I don’t think everyone in the other half is raising their children that way. But there are some people, regardless of socioeconomic status actually, who believe their children must do and be certain things otherwise the parents have failed. And, depending on culture, this goes both ways. Some people I’ve come across believe that if you’re not married with at least two kids by age 21, something is wrong with you.

      My feeling is let the kid be who they’re going to be. Maybe they will be a National Spelling Bee winner, Rhodes scholar, etc. Maybe they will be an artist. Maybe they will be a janitor. Whatever, as long as they’re happy, I’m thinking that’s successful parenting.

    3. Blue_eyes*

      I think there are certain people who think the same way as your bosses, but that it’s not the way everyone in those economic classes thinks. I went to private high school and college so I’ve certainly seen my share of parents like this.

      It’s sad to me that some parents can’t see beyond these very rigid markers of success and look at their children as whole people. What about the child’s happiness? Are they a good person? Are they pursuing things that satisfy them or improve the condition of the world? There’s so much more to life and success than making a lot of money in a prestigious profession.

    4. Sylvia*

      It’s not normal, but I’ve known people who raised kids like that or who were raised like that themselves.

      The ones who were raised like that had a really hard time in college. They were free to do whatever they wanted for the first time and they didn’t know how to handle that.

    5. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      This isn’t common, but neither is it unknown. I sure got plenty of this while I was living with my ex-father and his wife.

    6. Junior Dev*

      I have upper middle class parents who thankfully did not raise me this way but I’ve run into a lot of their friends and my own classmates who do have this mindset. I think my parents couldn’t have that mindset–my brother and I both have mental health issues and so basic things like having a job and staying out of legal trouble have not always been taken for granted. I feel bad for the kids who are raised that way, I graduated from college with a lot of them and saw them having an identity crisis when they realized they’d have to build their own identify that wasn’t based on looking impressive on paper.

    7. Kate*

      I would say that it is the flip side of the (very welcome and long-overdue) opening-up of higher education and prestigious professions to segments of the population that have previously been shit out (Indigenous peoples, people of colour, other minorities, etc)

      For white upper middle class and upper class families, there is a very real sense that it isn’t enough to be “good enough” and/or well-rounded anymore. If your kids are going to be have the same standard of living as you, they are going to have to be THE BEST. The best grades, the best in X sport, the prettiest, the healthiest, you name it.

      Does it mean wel-rounded kids? No. Does it have perverse outcomes? Oh heck yes.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Oh, I thought it was on purpose: as in the populations that have traditionally been SOL (sh*t out of luck).

    8. blackcat*

      So I grew up as a relatively rich kid, living an upper middle class lifestyle (eg, nice house in the burbs, once a year vacations somewhere that involved flying). My parents socked away most of the money, in part to keep me and my brother sane. Both went to fancy schools and met at a top-5 law school (so they are the driven, high powered sort).

      My parents encouraged my brother, and I to do what we wanted. When I was about 25, I realized that that is the point of my parents’ massive pile of money in the bank: they wanted my brother and I to be able to do whatever we wanted without worrying about things like getting medical care.

      I’ve been financially self-sufficient since I was 21, but my parents have always offered to pay when I have had a big, unexpected medical bill. I did go to a fancy college, and my parents were perfectly happy when I was thinking I was going to be a high school teacher for forever (I might still go back, but I’m working on a PhD right now). My brother first went to community college. He is an artist (did eventually get an MFA). My parents still pay 50% of his rent, but they seem content with this arrangement (and, likely, with the money they have put away, my brother can continue to get 50% of his living expenses from his inheritance for the rest of his life).

      So that is 100% not how I was brought up. However, we were definitely surrounded by families that parented how you are describing. My mom regularly got crap from other moms in our neighborhood for the fact that I’d disappear off to friends houses, for days at a time, starting at age 12. I’d call! She knew I was safe! And I found the solidly middle-class neighborhood of my best friends to be way more fun: kids played in the streets! There were groups of kids, everywhere! Neighbors would say, “But doesn’t she need tutoring?” (no) “Shouldn’t she be on a sports team?” (Ha! I am the least coordinated person ever!). Both of my parents conveyed the message that they thought my brother and I would turn out alright. And we did, for the most part.

      When I taught, I taught at a private school (so, mostly upper middle class to rich kids). Between a half and 2/3rds of the parents were as you describe. Now, most of those parents were lovely people, who genuinely thought what they were doing would, in the end, give their child a happy life. They fought with their kids, but mostly had loving relationships. The kids were stressed, but mostly okay. But some of those parents were genuinely awful and viewed their children as status symbols, rather than as people. Those were worst. Their kids hated their guts, did more drugs, and were generally miserable.

      So, all in all, what you are describing is kinda normal for upper class families, but there are many, many exceptions. And just because someone has a narrow view of what their child’s future should look like doesn’t mean they aren’t a good parent in other ways. I saw A TON of parents soften on this as their children went through high school. It’s much easier to map out John Jr.’s path when he’s 10, and much harder when he is 17 and has more things to say about his future.

      1. blackcat*

        Woah, that ended up way longer than I thought.

        tl;dr, yes some upper class families are definitely like that. But lots aren’t.

    9. Nic*

      I don’t have kids myself, but one of my coworkers has been sharing stories lately and I LOVE the way he and his wife are doing it.

      They allow their kids to experience their experiences, and talk them through things in a very mature way. Example:
      Recently coworker’s daughter (not yet a teen) had a thing at school where the kids were supposed to bring cookies and juice. He asked her what she wanted to do as far as getting supplies, and how many to get. She initially wanted to get enough for everyone, and he discussed potlucks, and how everyone brings some, but if everyone brought enough for everyone there would be way too much left. They also discussed the logistics of getting the supplies to school. Most of this was done via leading questions. She thought about it, and decided to bring one pack of each.
      Turns out, none of the other kids brought juice, and some kids didn’t get any. She was upset and was sad that everyone didn’t get some, and they talked about being responsible for your own actions, and how to handle disappointment in other people, as well as strategies (like discussing with other classmates first) to prevent this in the future.

      I’m biased. My parents raised me like this too. I feel like it worked WONDERS for me as far as maturity. It takes longer, and a lot of investment on the parent’s part, but it really teaches kids that they have agency and the ability to make sound decisions and deal with the consequences in a mature manner.

    10. Temperance*

      TBH, if I ever have a kid, I’ll probably be one of those parents. I grew up in a trailer with a mom who didn’t even finish high school. My parents identify as blue collar, and part of that is a resistance to education. I can see myself pivoting in the total opposite direction.

    11. Clever Name*

      This isn’t some newfangled parenting style, and not all parents like this. For comparison, my 10 year old is currently sleeping in the back yard in some wardrobe boxes he’s taped together.

    12. Observer*

      There is no one normal. This kind of thing does sound like it’s not over the edge of what happens – although I agree that it is absurd. Plenty of people do NOT parent this way, though, even in the “upper” half, third or quarter.

    13. ArtK*

      What is this “normal” that you speak of? There’s a very wide range. The ones you describe are at one end of the spectrum. There are others whose parenting philosophy can be summed up as “whatever.”

      That said, your bosses are people who I would consider as very bad parents. They don’t view their children as individuals, just as extensions of their own ambitions. I’m furious about the one who does art as a hobby but that’s being treated horribly. These people don’t value art and that makes them horrible people all around in my opinion.

      1. ArtK*

        Follow up: Deciding how much to push and when is one of the great dilemmas of parenting. Take music lessons, for instance. If there’s resistance, do you move on to something else or do you insist, at least for a while? The right answer may not show up for years when your kid says “why didn’t you make me continue the piano lessons?”

        Reading a child is hard, but you have to start by recognizing that they individuals and not miniMe. One of my sons is an artist, which we support. The only restriction we’ve put down is that he can’t take out student loans for school because there’s no way that a working artist or art teacher could pay them off. The other one is an engineering student. Very different people and applying a one-size-fits-all philosophy would be disastrous.

        Anecdote: While I was a single dad, I went out on a date with a woman who had a couple of kids about the same ages of mine. Pleasant date up until she said something about her 4yo son. Apparently, he liked to dress up as Spiderman (or some other super hero) and she said “I wish he would be normal.” That right there was the deal breaker for me.

    14. Kaya*

      Late to respond but I thought I’d chime in since I do fall in this category. My parents are divorced and while my mom is lower middle class, my father and step-mother are definitely upper middle class. Bouncing between the two houses, I got to see how both sides lived, especially with how my two half-siblings grew up entirely with my dad and their mom/my step-mom. All three of my parents (step-mom included, we have a great relationship) don’t care about what I’m doing with my life, as long as I’m doing something.

      Neither myself nor my siblings had to worry about college loans (I get awkwardly quiet when my friends complain about their loans because I know how lucky I am) but to be fair, we all got really great scholarships and worked hard for our grades. My dad flat out told me he only paid entirely for the school I wanted to go to because I’d earned a scholarship that did help, and he knew how much effort I’d done to get it. And I am still getting some assistance from my family even being moved out now, mainly my car and car insurance which is all in my father’s name.

      My parents just want us to be doing something with our lives. Doesn’t matter what, as long as it’s something. My dad was recently venting at me about my younger sister who is still in college. She’s planned lots of vacations with her friends for her summer. My dad doesn’t mind that she’s doing that, doesn’t even mind paying for them, but he’s frustrated that she’s not doing something ‘productive’ with her summer, whether that’s get a summer job, a short internship, or extra classes. I had summer jobs during my college years (retail and summer camps) and so did my younger brother (kids sports coach and random labor jobs), among the fun things we planned, whereas my sister isn’t doing that, which is what’s frustrating my father. Similarly I did one abroad program in college that I planned to fund entirely myself with my summer jobs, I just needed to borrow the money ahead of time. When I brought that to my family, they were impressed with my financial planning and initiative to do it myself, that they paid for the whole thing. But when my sister is just flat out asking for them to pay for an entire year abroad, they’re much less generous.

      So I had the kind of upbringing that was definitely ‘we want you do to something with your life’ but they didn’t care what it was. And they don’t mind helping out financially as long as you’re putting forward some effort of your own, not expecting it all to be freely given.

  33. Lady Jay*

    Wish me luck! I’ve got a date today with someone I met online. He seemed nice until I agreed to meet, and then he seemed a bit . . . clingy. So we’ll see how this goes. But it’s a nice public spot during the middle of the day, so I’m not worried about safety at all.

    1. ann perkins*

      Wishing you ALL OF THE LUCK. I have had all of the dates with people I met online resulting in many different outcomes, one of which WAS a Stage 5 Clinger, so I hope this is not the case here. How has he seemed clingy to you? In my experience, that has usually not ended well for me, so I hope it turns out okay!

    2. Dan*

      How clingy? Feel free to cut it loose if it’s more than you want to deal with. Also, the clingyness may not actually turn out to be anything much on its own, but you should keep your spidysense out for other things.

      A couple of years ago, I met a girl online one weekend, and then ended up setting up a day for like four days later. She then starts texting me *every day*. (It was only once a day, but still… first date… four days later?) That kind of thing didn’t get any worse, but she had other issues that lead it to be a short courtship.

    3. Hrovitnir*

      What Dan said. But either way, good luck! I hope he’s nice and not clingy in person, regardless of where it goes.

    4. Lady Jay*

      It went okay. He was pretty nice in person, not too clingy. Was he the most exciting date? Nope, but we had a pleasant conversation over lunch. First date I’ve been on in a long time, and it wasn’t too awkward. I’m find with that outcome.

  34. Victoria, Please*

    Does anyone use a yogurt starter for making your own yogurt? What kind do you like?

    1. fposte*

      I get the YoGourmet off of Amazon; I’m not completely committed to the specific carbohydrate diet but I incorporate some of its guidelines, and that starter is recommended for yogurt because it doesn’t include bifidus strains of bacteria.

    2. I'm Really an Artist*

      I just use a bit of my favorite plain yogurt as a starter (Fage Greek, in my case). I also learned recently that you can freeze cubes of your yogurt and just thaw to start your next batch. Tried it and it worked!

      1. CAA*

        Oooh, thank you! I am definitely going to try this. I tend to make yogurt occasionally, so it hasn’t been practical to save my own as a starter for the next batch, but this tip should solve that problem.

    3. Junior Dev*

      I’ve just used a small container of plain yogurt. I think it’s best if you don’t open it until you are going to put it in the cooked milk.

  35. Food processor?*

    Any recommendations for a sturdy and reliable food processor? I’m willing to consider any price range.

      1. Rookie Manager*

        Second the vote for KitchenAid. I love mine, it has improved my life exponentially. I obvioulsy use it for things like cakes, meringues etc but you can also use it for mashed potatoes or pulled pork. I’m tempted by the attachments to make ice cream or pasta but haven’t taken the plunge yet.

        Only negative is that it s pretty heavy so it has to stay countertop rather than go un a cupboard. But its so beautiful that you could see that as a plus.

        1. Red*

          Third vote for the KitchenAid.

          I tend to be a bit tough with my kitchen appliances and have killed three different food processors – but this one has survived for longer than any of it’s predecessors and is amazing!

    1. Dan*

      I live in an apartment without a ton of space, and I’ve found that my high end blender and KitchenAid stand mixer + attachment make excellent substitutes for the food processor. Neither of these things are cheap on their own, and get more expensive with attachments, but I’ve not needed a food processor and I cook a lot.

    2. Isobel*

      I’ve had my Magimix food processor for about twelve years and it’s still going strong. My grandma had one for over twenty years.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      Best: I’m at my friend’s lovely wedding, it’s been beautiful, and amusingly I’m sitting between a cockney smoker who hates cooking and a vegan who’s a crystal healer (and finding things to talk about with both).

      Worst: had a bit of an emotional wobble. I’m okay though I think.

    2. katamia*

      Best: Had a date last night with someone who could actually maintain a conversation. I’m iffy on whether or not I want to see him again (if he asks I’ll probably say yes, but I’m not going to reach out myself), but the conversation was so. much. better. than most of my first dates.

      Worst: I misanticipated what some deadlines were going to be this past week and, while I didn’t miss any, I also didn’t get a chance to finish a couple personal projects I desperately wanted to this week.

    3. Junior Dev*

      Both are probably the date I had last night.

      Best is that it was really fun and I liked seeing the person. Worst is that I’m pretty confused about what I want and I felt really anxious about it during and after. Ugh, feelings.

    4. copy run start*

      BEST: Short work week. :)

      MIXED: My therapist told me I have gender dysphoria. Which… I knew on some level, obviously I’ve been seeing someone about it. But knowing there’s an official diagnosis feels strange. I feel both relieved that I’m not just crazy, but also wish I did not have this. And the path to finding peace with myself is going to be very difficult and expensive (since literally nothing is covered by my health insurance, not even my therapy sessions).

      WORST: I have a sneaky suspicion the appliance repair shop that is supposed to be doing the warranty repair on my A/C is going to continue to pretend they don’t have the paperwork (despite having it sent twice now) and that I’m not ever going to get this thing fixed. So I just ordered another A/C and picked up some plywood at Home Depot. I’m going to try and put this in my bedroom window so I don’t have to run the fire-hazard one that often (it’s a portable, so you just put a hose in) this summer. Unfortunately it’s a horizontal sliding window so much jerry-rigging is about to commence. I just can’t afford another portable A/C this year though due to all my medical expenses.

      1. LCL*

        I just got a portable AC at Home Depot. It came with 3 plastic adapter plates that slide together, one has a hole in the middle that the hose connects to. This design works with horizontal or vertical windows. If your horizontal window only opens a couple inches you will have to do some adapting. The portable stand alone units weigh close to 70 pounds and are awkward when packaged so you might need help getting it into the house. Think a big smooth cardboard rectangular box with no handles, too big to get your arms around, and all the weight at the bottom.

        1. copy run start*

          That’s the kind I have that is a fire hazard. I can’t afford another one right now — they’re double the price of the equivalent window kind.

      2. Connie-Lynne*

        Best wishes to you on your path to happiness, run copy start. I hope your journey has as few bumps as possible.

    5. Caledonia*

      Best: I survived flying and saw my favourite tennis players live in Paris
      Worst: I can no longer ignore the fact I need to be healthier and exercise. I also got a bit sunburnt :(

    6. AvonLady Barksdale*

      BEST: My birthday was on Wednesday, so I used it as an excuse to buy a whole bunch of little gifts for myself. Mostly kitchen stuff. I am looking very forward to making a batch of kimchi in my new fermentation crock!

      WORST: My birthday was on Wednesday. I had a really, really down day, to the point where a somewhat critical email from my boss completely ruined my evening. My boyfriend and I took the dog to a ball game, and usually I love that, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I was pretty miserable, and it feels like a missed opportunity to have a good day for myself. Every year I ask myself why I don’t just take the whole day off like I used to, and I think I have to remember to do that next year.

    7. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      Best: friend’s wine bday party tomorrow
      Worst: at dental appointment,I came ***thisclose*** to needing a root canal. Got filling re-filled. Watch and waiting next 2 weeks :/

      Also: mom pressuring me by calling and demand/asking that SO is taking the licensure exam end of this month. I told her sure, just to avoid her screaming at me while I was under dental numbing. He could take it late June, but he might wait till July depending on the test center slot availability near where he lives X//

    8. Fortitude Jones*

      Best: I just got my hair done today in a new twisted bob style, and it looks sooo good – I can’t stay out of the mirror, lol. Also, one of my shirts from thredUP came today and it looks brand new, and the pink Kate Spade purse I bought also came and is in really good condition just like the site said (there is a scratch on the back bottom area of the bag, but no one will see it). Finally, I just bought a pair of vintage brown Ferragamo kitten heels off Etsy for $49.30! I’m praying they fit, but if they don’t, the vintage shop accepts returns, so at least there’s that.

      Worst: Having to go to work everyday. I’m already dreading Monday and the weekend’s not even over yet. I wish one of these dang jobs I’ve applied for would pan out so I can get out of here, but I have a feeling I’m going to be stuck for a while. Blugh.

    9. Elizabeth West*

      BEST: Dunno.
      I had a good sit at meditation group today. I was physically uncomfortable and had to squirm a bit; I think I’m too used to the huge fluffy mat I made and use at home. It’s like sitting on a cloud, LOL. But the half hour FLEW by. When I started doing this, I could feel every second and it seemed interminable. Now I look up and go, “Oh, I sat for twenty minutes; sweet.”

      Also, I was reading about some stuff last night, and it came up in discussion today, and also somebody else brought up something I had been thinking about, and tinybuddha.com tweeted an article about nearly the exact same thing that was brought up! So many little threads all tying together–and I feel very strangely as though that means something. :)


    10. PepperVL*

      Worst: I got hit with an awful butt and spent four days miserably sick.

      Best: I have great friends/family who stopped by with things I needed while sick.

    11. Dr. KMnO4*

      Best: ¡HALA MADRID! REAL MADRID ARE THE CHAMPIONS!!!!! That’s number 12 – more than any other team by far!
      Also best: I am going to France and Spain in 15 days!
      Also best: My friend’s wedding went well (if not exactly on schedule). I had fun as a bridesmaid.
      Worst: False eyelashes are AWFUL. Makeup is bleh. I never wear makeup, I don’t even own makeup, so I opted to get my makeup professionally done for the wedding. Sitting still while someone pokes at your eyes is difficult. Taking off makeup and false eyelashes is difficult when you don’t have makeup remover.

    12. Bibliovore*

      Best: home from a business trip. its over 80 degrees out. the dog is super snuggly. The washer and dryer are in good working order.
      Worst: either I am getting a cold or big time allergies. Sore throat, drippy nose, red itchy eyes. Took Clariton D. and my usual anti inflammatory meds.

    13. Ruffingit*

      BEST: Caught up on some sleep today. And ran my 5th 5k this morning!

      WORST: My job. Need to make some changes.

  36. CatCat*

    The 14 y/o kiddo is now with us for the summer. We’re going to our credit union today to open him a checking and savings account. He’s also interested in learning about investing in so we’ll set him up an investment goal in our Betterment account. We talked about budgeting last night. We use YNAB and budget to zero. Unfortunately, there is not a way to create a separate, password protected budgets in YNAB (my main gripe about it!) so we’re basically replicating it on paper for him. His budget is not complex so that should work for a while. He’s budgeted money for a new phone case, saving for college, saving for a car, eating out, cosplay stuff, and video games. He said, “I need to use money wisely.” Proud of him. Definitely far ahead on those thoughts than I was at his age :-D

    1. LizB*

      This is so cool! I know that YNAB used to be a spreadsheet system rather than an online application – can you track down a version of the old spreadsheet for him to use, so he can get a bit more complex than the paper system if he wants to?

    2. Penny*

      He’s a cosplayer? Major thumbs up in his direction! Hope he’s working on something cool with his summer. I’m making monster hands for the first time!

  37. Lily Evans*

    Has anyone here ever driven any of the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland? I’d like to do a trip in the fall and have become enamored with the idea of doing a WAW road trip (probably from Galway to the north, all the way through Northern Ireland to the Giant’s Causeway. If anyone has tips, stories, or suggestions I’d love to hear them!

    1. Roseberriesmaybe*

      The entire West of Ireland is gorgeous, especially Kerry, Clare and Galway. Though as Kerry is in the very South, travelling to Antrim from there would be quite prohibitive. If you’re dead set on travelling into Northern Ireland, it would be a good trip to start in Clare and explore the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher. Then Galway City (Spanish Arch, Shop St, Strandhill) and into Connemara.

      1. Ismis*

        I haven’t driven (most of) it but I’m Irish so if you have any specific questions, fire away!

        You’re in the US, I assume? There are a number of direct flights into Shannon airport (Co Clare). You could hire a car there and fit in the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren before heading to Galway.

        Ireland is quite small but has lots of twisty roads so don’t underestimate how long it will take you to get from point to point. The weather can be a bit changeable in autumn but Murphy’s Law means you might be lucky with the first couple of weeks in September (when school starts up again). This link might help you too:


        1. Lily Evans*

          I am from the US! At the moment, I’m looking more at flights to/from Dublin because they seem to be more frequently available and cheaper than flights to Shannon, but I’ll keep looking and comparing. I’m also willing to play weather roulette since things seem to be much cheaper (and probably quieter) in the fall than in the summer.

          How accurate would you say most gps based apps are for estimating drive time? I’ve been using google maps and rounding up a bit, but it would be good to know beforehand if it’s likely to be off.

          1. Ismis*

            I’m sorry – I don’t know the answer to that. I do know though that the apps sometimes use the speed limit on the road to calculate time required., but the speed limit might not match the road quality. You could take a turn thinking you will get to your destination faster, but unless you’re a crazy driver who loves barrelling around corners on a small country lane, you will end up taking much longer. Locals of course, would make it in half the time! Stick to the routes suggested on the website and you should be fine.

            Flying into Dublin is fine too; you can always have a day wandering around the city/getting over jetlag, and then drive over to Clare. Nobody has ever called Ireland a big country :)

            1. Lily Evans*

              At least I’m from a part of the US that has twisty roads like too, instead of one of the really flat areas, so it won’t be a totally new experience, aside from the whole driving on the opposite side thing haha. Or I might end up having to find away to apologize to all of the people with Florida license plates I’ve gotten frustrated with on mountain roads.

      2. Lily Evans*

        That’s pretty much what I’m planning at them moment, starting at the Cliffs of Moher and working North from there!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          She suggested you look at John Creedon’s Wild Atlantic Way series (www.wildatlanticway.com/stories/touring/john-creedon) if you want to see some of it. There’s a link in the article to an app where you can watch Irish shows. There’s also a link for planning your own trip.

          She also suggested visiting Westport in County Mayo, and also that Sligo has a really nice beach. :) I would check TripAdvisor too–I always go there to plan stuff because people give LOADS of recommendations.

    2. Ajaya*

      My one tip would be to get good car rental insurance.

      I haven’t done a WAW road trip like what you’re describing, but I did do a small trip with some friends from Dublin to Belfast and our car was stolen! From what the police told us it is pretty common. Luckily the insurance saved us.

      1. Thlayli*

        There’s apparently an insurance company that offers cheap coverage for car rental excess. They have ridiculous levels of excess with their normal rates like you have to pay the first 600€ of any cost or similar. And when you go to actually pick up the car they tell you it will cost [large amount] to reduce the excess to a reasonable level. It’s basically a scam. But you can get insurance ahead of time for low cost excess coverage from a separate company.

      2. Lily Evans*

        That sounds like a nightmare! I’d never rent a car without insurance either way, but that’s a good thing to know to look out for!

    3. Thlayli*

      The best tip I can give is for the cliffs of moher. If you go to the visitor centre it is jammed and you have to pay a fortune. If you look online you can find a little walk way along the cliffs south toward an old ruined castle. Go inland a little from there and there is a farmhouse with a car park in their garden you can put a couple of Euro in the collection box and then walk along the cliffs till you get to the main viewing point. The cliffs themselves are free you see, but you will pay a lot for the parking and visitor centre.

      B&bs are the best thing to do as regards where to stay. Much cheaper than hotels and unless you are going in peak season you can probably book a day or two ahead (not the case at all for peak season).

      1. Lily Evans*

        That’s definitely a good tip! And I’ve mostly been looking at hostels so far, but I’ll definitely compare B&B prices, if they’re not too much more it would be nice to have a private room!

    4. Meg*

      You will have so much fun! I was there recently, and the west coast of Ireland is just gorgeous. Galway is lovely (I recommend Oslo Bar for food and a fun atmosphere, there’s also a free museum), and so are Westport and Cong. (You can see the famous Cross of Cong at the National Museum in Dublin and then go to Cong and see the remains of the Abbey where it hung, which is very cool.)

      The Cliffs of Mohr are amazing. We went at an off-peak time (weekday in May; I believe summer weekends are the most crowded) and the crowds were very manageable, even at the official visitor’s center. It cost six euro per person, including parking, and I found that to be totally worth it. The visitor’s center has some nice exhibits about the cliffs and a neat IMAX video. There are longer walks you can do, on either side of the official property, but those sections don’t have walls or barriers by the cliffs and I’m a bit scared of heights!

      Lastly, I definitely second someone else’s recommendation to read up on the car insurance. It will take you a little bit to get used to driving on the other side, but you get the hang of it. I’d recommend writing down and knowing your directions ahead of time because at least for me, driving took so much concentration that it was impossible to drive and look at a GPS at the same time.

  38. Mimmy*

    Site question:

    I know Alison has said to report site issues via the appropriate link – and I have – but is it the ads that cause the site to sometimes not function properly, or is it our browsers that maybe aren’t compatible with the media (e.g. flash, java) used by these ads? By the way, it’s not just this site – there is another site I frequent that gives me the same problems.

    I haven’t want to use an ad blocker only because there are so many out there, and I don’t know what’s reputable and which one(s) will work.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I saw in the ad report you just submitted that you’re using Safari. Safari has a free extension called Ad Block Plus, which is really easy to install and use, and it’s quite effective. That should 100% solve the problem you reported.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          Really, I can’t function on the internet without Ad Block Plus. And I use primarily Firefox.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        You have mentioned this many times. Today I installed it as the ads became unbearable. When I opened the main page of AAM, AdBlocker Plus blocked over 120 ads. I clicked on this page here, when it opened ABP found 7 more ads.

        I added that annoying ad at the bottom of the screen so now it is gone, too.

        They don’t block all ads, only the ones that meet their criteria for being intrusive.
        I am very pleased, thank you for the referal.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Just to clarify, there aren’t 120 ads on the page! (I would never, ever do that.) There are a max of six, including the three in the sidebar. Not sure why it’s giving you that number — maybe it’s ads attempting to load after being blocked, or elements within ads or something.

    2. paul*

      I’m also still trying to get screenshots to work for jumpy ads ona windows phone; I can’t get it to take the screen shot :/

      Word of advice: Avoid Windows phones. I got it because I liked the hardware (and spec wise its good) but the ecosystem isn’t there to support it and man the OS is frigging weird.

      1. Observer*

        Seriously, on the Windows phones. If you don’t ever plan to add any apps, then you could get something nice. And Continuum can be useful. But, the minute you start looking for apps – oh brother.

  39. Anon for dis*

    I have a weird family situations, and I’m hoping for some advice. For context, my parents have been divorced for about ten years.

    I’m very estranged from one side of my family. Like haven’t seen in a decade plus. In a series of bizarre events, I uncovered some information that doesn’t really help anyone, but I feel that it explains some of that parent’s actions.

    I’m not sure that telling the parent I’m on good terms with is beneficial since said parent has grieved the marriage and moved on. The information I found is via accidental linkage of my financial info to theirs and that estranged parent snooping through my social media and having terrible privacy restrictions. However, I’m considering telling my sibling, who I have a great relationship with. I did briefly mention some odd inconsistencies initially, but sibling and estranged parent haven’t spoken in 15ish years.

    I have a feeling I’m probably sitting on info that I should just keep to myself, but I was wondering if anyone had any advice given the extremely brief details here.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      It’s hard to say without more specifics, but in general I’m all for sharing information and how I feel about it with those affected by that information. I’ve told my daughter about my father’s childhood, so she can better understand him, and the relationship he and I had. I explained it as dispassionately and objectively as I could, much of it was a more general retelling of what he told me. To me, it makes it easier to handle someone’s problem behavior if you understand it, even if it doesn’t make the behavior itself any more tolerable.

      But a lot of it will depends on your sibling, and how they deal with the issues that the estranged parent caused/raised.

    2. Allypopx*

      Is this information going to be hurtful to the parties you share it with? If so, and if it doesn’t serve any purpose besides informing, I don’t see value in sharing it. The past is the past.

      But it depends a lot on the specifics I suppose.

    3. Anon for dis*

      I think this is maybe generic enough.

      Estranged parent started an affair (with a coworker no less) during the marriage, went through attempts at marriage counseling with other parent, then threw an absolute shit fit during the divorce that estranged parent initiated.

      Now for the bulk of the unknown: The other person and estranged parent moved in together post-divorce, then moved across the country, where estranged parent changed names and now goes by something completely unrelated to the family name/anything in the past (except middle name is a grandparent’s name).

      1. JulieBulie*

        I don’t know what I would do. Maybe feel out your sibling first, and if s/he seems open to hearing about it, tell the story. And then the two of you decide how to proceed with the other parent.

      2. Temperance*

        I think it depends how close you are to your sibling. I talk to one of my sisters about issues with our mom, but not my other sister or my brother. I think that sharing this info with your sib would generally be fine, and if s/he found out in another way, s/he might be hurt or offended.

      3. FosterFoster*

        I would let the sibling know about the name change at least so they would be aware should that parent ever try to contact them.

    4. Anono-me*

      I would strongly suggest you consider sharing this information with your family as a warning.

      If your estranged parent is snooping in your social media and otherwise behaving in an odd intrusive manner with you; it seems to me that that they may be doing the same thing to your sibling, your parent, and your parent’s partner. My other concern is possible escalation by the estranged parent.

      You may want to approach your sibling first so that the two of you can brainstorm on the best approach to take with your parent. You may want to consider a bare-bones approach with the person you tell asking for more information as desired. Maybe something like “Remember how I told you somebody was snooping me on Facebook etc? Turns out it’s Chris ‘Family Name’ Smith/estranged parent who changed mames. Weird huh.”

      Good luck with everything.

  40. Pearl*

    Does anyone here sew their own clothes? Work gave me some Visa gift cards and I was thinking about getting a sewing machine. I’m plus size so I know there aren’t a lot of patterns out there, but in the past couple of years I’ve found it nearly impossible to find shirts or dresses with sleeves in stores/online and I’m getting tired of constantly having to wear cardigans at work, even in the summer. I’ve narrowed it down to one of two machines, but if anybody has recs for places to find good sewing patterns it would be much appreciated.

    (The machines I’m thinking about are the Brother Project Runway CS5055PRW or the Brother cs6000i 60-Stitch. I read a few articles on beginners’ machines which mentioned them and they both have good reviews on Amazon.)

    1. Candy*

      All the big sewing companies (McCalls, Simplicity, Burda) have plus size pattern options. You might want to check out the curvysewingcollective and Cashmerette blogs for more recs.

      Sewing your own clothes is time consuming (I always tell friends you actually need more patience than skill to sew) but so rewarding! It feels great to wear things that are tailored to fit you exactly.

      1. JulieBulie*

        And to be fair, if you’re plus-size or in any way difficult to fit, shopping for clothes is time consuming too. Once you get the hang of sewing, you might find it less nerve-wracking than shopping.

        1. Pearl*

          It’s sooo time consuming. I do a lot of online shopping because the larger sizes in stores sell out so fast they often just don’t have them left when I go. There’s a reason I have 4 colors of one dress and 3 colors of one shirt. :/

      2. Liane*

        Be sure to check the size guides in the pattern books. IME pattern sizes tend to run really small.

      3. Pearl*

        Thanks for the tips! I’ve only been to my local fabric stores for knitting purposes so I’m not familiar with where else to find patterns and knowing the big names helps.

    2. Junior Dev*

      Not a sewing comment but what is it with all the plus size dresses being sleeveless? My workplace is pretty casual (boss often shows up in sweatpants or cargo shorts) so I often ignore the “no armpits in the office” rule, but if I worked elsewhere it might be an issue.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        It makes the same piece of clothing fit a wider range of people because there’s no worry about the arms/shoulders pulling.

        1. JulieBulie*

          Yeah – when I went from “medium” to “large” I noticed that on a lot of shirts/sweaters, the torso was bigger but the sleeves were not! I don’t think I have freakishly fat arms, but I have to try on every blouse or sweater before buying because there’s a good chance the sleeves will be like little macaroni tubes.

      2. Pearl*

        Yeah, it’s because sizing sleeves is more difficult. :/ My office also doesn’t really care if I’m sleeveless, but the thing is that a lot of designers seem incapable of sizing armholes to the point that my bra shows on the sides.

    3. HannahS*

      Yes! I don’t know those machines, but here’s what I’ve found:
      (As a side note my clothes sewing includes both knits (t shirts aND dresses) and wovens (skirts, collared shirts, blouses, etc.)
      1. An automatic buttonhole setting and foot is pretty much indispensable
      2. Being able to adjust the tension and length of stitch is necessary for dealing with fabrics of different weights
      3. I use straight stitch and zigzag stitch (though I now have a serger) and that’s it.

      Check out the Curvy Sewing Collective for blogs and pattern recommendations for plus sized sewing.

      1. HannahS*

        Also as a PSA: the sizing in major pattern companies is seriously weird. It’s often necessary to sew 1-2 sizes smaller than they say to in order to get normal fit. But not always! So always google the pattern first and check a bunch of reviews.

        1. Pearl*

          Thanks for the advice! I haven’t had time to do a thorough read of the machines but I will check about the buttonhole setting and such. I would like to be able to sew fabrics of various weights. If I’m putting in the effort and money, might as well be able to make different things.

          I will definitely check out Curvy Sewing Collective and try to find reviews of patterns. Thanks again!

    4. OperaArt*

      That’s why I was so happy to find an online clothing store (are we allowed to mention brand names?) that lets you customize the neckline, sleeve length, and hem length of all of their dresses, and they’ll even customize it to your measurements. $50-70 plus shipping, arrives in about 2 1/2 weeks.

          1. OperaArt*

            Exactly. eShakti. I’ve purchased 4 dresses from them, all with sleeves, all custom fitted. And all with pockets!

      1. Pearl*

        Yeah, I’ve heard good things about eshakti but have never gotten around to trying it!

    5. Sarah*

      I say there is nothing wrong with the $50 onesie for your baby’s going home outfit. If you love it and I will make you happy do it!

      (full disclosure – I am 30 weeks pregnant and also totally overthinking the coming home outfit ;)

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Try to buy your machine from a sewing store. They may bundle in a few free lessons or a year’s membership in a sewing group, etc. See if you can get a nice package deal like that.

      Fabric stores around here have mailing lists. They will email you coupons for 40-50% off sometimes. Fabric is expensive and patterns can be expensive. If you are on a mailing list with coupons this can be a big help. Years ago I bought fabric at $20 per yard with a 50% off coupon so I got it for ten bucks a yard. I used it to recover an antique platform rocker. It came out great and I still smile thinking of the savings.

      I am not totally familiar with all the brands of patterns out there anymore. When I learned to sew, Simplicity was the go-to, because their instructions were so clear. Last time I looked they even labeled the patterns as “easy”. People at the machine or fabric store should be able to help you pick something you will have success with.

      1. Pearl*

        I will see if any of the stores in the area do that. I’m familiar with the local yarn shops and most of them also sell fabric, but not machines (that I’ve noticed). Coupons are always a bonus :) Clear instructions are also always a bonus. I have been known to assemble bookshelves backwards before so I intend to take as long as possible reading things before trying anything, haha. Thank you!

    7. Yetanother Jennifer*

      Burdastyle has a good online community as well as good patterns. They’re sort of European in fashion. And I subscribe to Seamworks online magazine by Collette. The $6 subscription includes 2 free patterns and Collette also has patterns for sale. The clothing is cute and stylish and is shown in a variety of sizes with lots of ideas for customization. Threads by Tauton Press is excellent and is THE sewing magazine with good basic instructions and aspirational projects. Tauton also has a good magazine for the beginning sewist. As for books, you can’t go wrong with the Built by Wendy series, especially her book on sewing knits. There are a ton of good YouTubers giving online tutorials as well.

      Yes, sewing is time consuming but you can do it while listening to podcasts or even watching TV (home and garden reality tv is the best for this) and you get something custom. Also the refashioning trend is a lot of fun.

      1. Pearl*

        Thank you for the recommendations! I’m used to Ravelry being my one-stop pattern and advice place so I didn’t even know where to start looking for sewing things. I just browsed through Burdastyle for a few minutes and it seems really nice! I will also check out that book about sewing knits, I really like knit fabrics and would like to work with those.

        Knitting has turned me into a podcast addict already, so honestly, any excuse to listen to more is a good one. I wish I could go to PodCon but it’s so far away from where I live!

    8. Evie*

      I have a brother machine and will look at the model when I get home. Had great reviews on Amazon but with further googling after I was having an issue discovered this was common. The plastic bobbins don’t weight enough to stay down and lift up and jam the machine but the metal ones will eventually wear out the magnets in them I guess.

      1. Pearl*

        Thanks, that would be good to know! Before I order I need to sit down and read a bunch of reviews, and I know when it comes I need to read the manual too, so any additional info is helpful.

        1. Jules the First*

          I’ve got the Husqvarna Viking 116 and I love it, but if I were doing it again, I’d get the one model up (the 118? I think?) because mine won’t take a double needle and if you sew a lot of knits, a double needle is a nice compromise between a zig zag and a serger.

          Also, don’t be afraid to pick a pattern and really commit – I got a skirt pattern that looked promising, made four of them in a row, tweaking the fit a little bit each time (and marking the successful tweaks right onto the pattern pieces) and now I can knock one of those out in an afternoon when I want something new for my wardrobe. If you have the patience to do muslins (a test run of the pattern in a cheap fabric which allows you to check for fit), it’s well worth doing – the finished articles will fit you so much better.

        2. Evie*

          I have an 885-s33 it looks like. I would read multiple reviews and maybe even google the model + troubleshooting and see what issues people are looking for help on. Good luck!

    9. PrincessLOoJ*

      Super late on this, but I have the Brother Project Runway machine and I love it!

  41. Legalchef*

    38 weeks Monday!! My doctor told me at my appt on Wednesday that I could basically have the baby at any time (that basically my body is doing what it needs to do to be ready so now it’s just up to the kiddo). So now of course every little twinge freaks me out.

    I need to pack my hospital bag this weekend, so any must-haves anyone wants to recommend would be great.

    Also, we still haven’t figured out an outfit to take him home in! I feel like I am putting too much pressure on myself to find the perfect thing. I found a onesie that we like a lot but it’s $50 which seems crazy to me. But on the other hand if I am going to spend so much time searching isn’t my time worth something too? It’s a regular onesie style and I’d need to get him little pants. Or is it better to have a sleeper-type thing that snaps up the front?? Arggg. I feel like I’m so overloaded with decisions that now I’m incapable of making any.

    1. neverjaunty*

      You are definitely overthinking it :)

      Onesies are fine. Sleepers are fine. You should be able to get them for less than $50! The baby genuinely will not care what color or designer brand it is and they all end up being covered in spitup anyway.

      1. Legalchef*

        I know! I just wanted to find something more special than a “whatever” onesie because it’s going to be his first little outfit!

        1. neverjaunty*

          If you’re going to a hospital, his first outfit will be the generic maternity ward one :)

    2. Soupspoon McGee*

      Auntie here. I’ve been the newborn chauffeur a few times. Bring along a few cotton onsies or, depending on weather, sleepers. There’s no point in spending a lot of money on them because they will be poopie in an hour anyway. Just pick something soft and breathable. You can find a 3-pack of cute onsies for $20.

      1. Observer*

        You can get something for way less than that. I just went to Target and did a quick search. I’ll post the link – but I found some cute Carters onsies for $9-10 for a 4 pack. And I just looked for unisex, so there are probably one specifically for boy / girl if you want.

        Even on the Carters site, non-sale, you can do much better than that.

        It doesn’t have to be Carters, of course. I just used that because it allowed me to check prices on good quality stuff in about 3 minutes. If you are willing to spend a bit more time, you’ll have MANY more options.

    3. Kage*

      Seconding that you’re over-thinking ;)

      I’d also recommend steering away from the separate pants for the going home outfit. His umbilical cord will be crusty/scabbed initially and the waistband of pants will irritate it. Plus it can rub off the scab and make it more prone to taking longer/having healing issues (like an infection).

      Stick to the onesie/one piece options for the first few weeks. It’ll make your life so much easier while you’re also making so many other adjustments. Good luck these last few days!

    4. Jessesgirl72*

      Overthinking, and $50 is way expensive for a onesie and just a onesie!

      32 weeks here, and his “coming home” outift I got at either Carter’s of Gymboree, on sale.

      I mean, I’ve gotten so much at garage sales lately that I even have started to bulk at the regularly priced $15 ones.

      Not just on the way home, but in life, bottoms with snaps are always better. Or the gown types with drawstrings. Diaper changes where you need to pull down the pants (and pull them up a million times, because babies are bottom heavy and the pants slide down!) are annoying.

      For his “introductory” pictures from the hospital, I ordered from Cafe Press a personalized D&D stats “Human” onesie, with his name on it. :D

    5. Amry*

      Snaps in the front make it easier to change diapers. Not easy to get heads through the neck hole of shirts! And why they make baby clothes with buttons and snaps on the back that the kid has to lie on is beyond me – ouch!
      Your hospital bag should have things for you – good chocolate, tea/coffee, fuzzy socks, your own fancy face cream, phone charger. Treat yo’ self!

      1. Legalchef*

        I know! My mom sent me links for things with buttons on the back and I didn’t even understand them.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          My mom has saved some baby clothes from my brother and I that she has given me- with TEENY little buttons and snaps.

          A normal sized snap okay, but I’m not trying to button up anything on a squirming baby. This is why man created velcro! LOL

      2. Observer*

        Most of the onsies we had have neck holes that are plenty big enough. But I do like the ones with the front “wrap” snaps.

    6. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

      For our son, I was gifted several onesies with his name embroidered on them, so we dressed him in that and socks to ride home and covered him with a hospital blanket. We’re in SC so it was pretty warm even for early October and it was a long sleeve onesie, so we didn’t worry about him getting chilled.

      In terms of packing for you, don’t go overboard. I had a surprise c-section so I ended up just wearing the hospital gowns the whole time and wished I had brought a couple home. I am also a huge fan of the ugly mesh panties they will give you and the crazy peritoneal pads, but you might prefer your own undies and pass. I brought travel size toiletries and a comfy outfit to travel home in. I’d also take a couple of magazines or something easy like that to relax with. I was under the impression I’d have time to catch up on one of my tv shows while we were there, and boy was that a foolish idea. We had a steady stream of doctors, nurses, ancillary personnel, and guests and it seemed like every time I started up Netflix the door would open, so I gave up.

    7. Jubilance*

      We brought baby home in a sleeper & then in a little snow suit cause it was January. But sleeper is fine :-)

      For packing, it helps to have a separate bag for you and for baby, and for your partner if they will be staying in the hospital with you. In my bag I had a couple of robes, some comfy pants, slipper socks, toiletries and my charger. The hospital will give you a ton of stuff like mesh undies, pads, etc – TAKE THEM ALL, as much as you can get. For baby I packed a few onesies & sleepers, a blanket, hat & mittens. They will also give you a ton of diapers/wipes for the baby – TAKE THEM ALL. Also if you can get it, grab some of the little scrubbers that doctors use when scrubbing into surgery, they are great for scrubbing baby’s scalp to prevent cradle cap.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        The list I was given for the baby was 2 outfits per day, socks, hats, and in the Ukraine, apparently crib sheets (any AAM readers who happen to be in Kiev who could loan/lease me European sized crib sheets for 3 days?)

        I was glad for the list because I hadn’t given any thought to those newborn caps- I have hats to protect him from the sun, but didn’t have inside caps for newborns learning to regulate their body temperature. Now I do- NWT from a woman who has 15 month old twins and was glad anyone stopped in the rain at her garage sale. LOL She also gave me tons of free socks.

      2. neverjaunty*

        Yes to this. All those free samples and supplies they give you? Clean them out and take it home.

    8. Amy*

      Congratulations! So exciting! I gave birth at 38 weeks + 5 days and it happened very fast. My doctor didn’t think baby was budging anytime soon based on how things were looking down there, then a few days later I went into early labor, dilated fully within a few hours, and had a baby in my arms before I knew it. It was awesome! So yeah, pack that bag. ;)

      I waaaaay overpacked for the hospital. I ended up just wearing what they gave me (hospital gown and mesh panties) the whole time except for when we left. I had serious postpartum sweats (who knew that was even a thing? not me.) and didn’t want to get my nice jammies all nasty. Plus there’s every kind of bodily fluid flying around and I was mostly eating in bed with a baby stuck to me so I was glad I didn’t have any of my own stuff to drip on.

      Honestly, if you showed up to the hospital with nothing but a car seat and going-home outfits for you and the baby, you would be totally fine. Those are the essentials. I would recommend loose-fitting footie pajamas with the little hand covers sewn in for baby because they’re easy, cozy, and won’t irritate the umbilical stump, and newborns can really scratch up their faces if their hands are loose.

      Nice to have:
      – Some nice scented soap, shampoo, and conditioner. My first shower after giving birth was heavenly. The hospital toiletries are predictably meh.
      – Snacks, since you might give birth in the middle of the night when the cafeteria is closed, and/or the room service may be really slow.
      – Phone charger, camera, hairbrush, basic overnight stuff, etc. (though I don’t think I brushed my hair or looked in a mirror the entire time I was there)

      Try to pack light because you may be in a tiny and/or shared room and you don’t want to be tripping over luggage the whole time. They’ll give you diapers and blankies, and you should take everything that isn’t nailed down when you leave.

      Good luck!

    9. Science!*

      Chargers for your phones!
      Comfy socks (some people really like the socks the hospital gives you, but it’s nice to have your own.
      Whatever pants you bring should be a bit loose around the waist, even if you have a vaginal birth your belly might be a bit sore.

    10. Legalchef*

      Thanks all. I know logically that whatever he wears for his coming home outfit will be special by virtue of the fact that it’s his coming home outfit. But that doesn’t stop me from being indecisive, sigh.

      Is something that zips/snaps all the way up the front better than something that has snaps by the neck and by the leg area? I saw this at Target and it’s pretty cute. https://www.target.com/p/baby-boys-organic-sweater-romper-and-hat-set-baby-cat-jack-153-turquoise/-/A-50905494

      1. Observer*

        If you are getting something with sleeves (a good idea) get something that actually covers his hands. Babies really do scratch themselves up.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          I have the (small and white) scar on my face to prove this.

          I personally prefer the separate snaps areas, so you don’t have to undress the baby entirely to change the diaper, but can only unsnap the bottom. Most of the whole zip ones I’ve seen end at the neck. This is the first baby of my own, but I’ve changed thousands of diapers. ;)

    11. Cristina in England*

      H&M has cute and inexpensive baby clothes. They also have 0-1 month size for newborns. My first child had a hospital outfit from Carter’s which I got at TK Maxx (TJ Maxx)

      Hospital food will be different over in the US but half of my hospital bag was snacks and juice boxes, which my husband fed me behind the midwife’s back while I was in labor with my first, and which sustained me after the birth.

      Bring an eye mask if you are sensitive to light. Bring ear plugs if you go in to be induced. Obviously you wouldn’t wear them after the baby is born but if you’re in the hospital getting induced you will want them.

      Bring your own OTC painkillers and one of those disposable ice packs so you don’t have to wait on anyone getting you any (when I was in labor with my second child I kept asking this useless student midwife for some paracetamol (Tylenol) and she took so long, the baby was born before I got any!

      Bring a long charging cable for your phone

      1. Cristina in England*

        Oh! I forgot this. Try to find some postnatal support leggings. It is like a control top turned up to a million, but more comfortable for a girdle (which would be my second choice suggestion. It holds in your stretched and sore abdominal muscles and aids healing and recovery. When I wasn’t wearing some sort of support, I couldn’t bend over without lots of abdominal pain, it felt like everything was falling out, which it kind of was.

    12. Sualah*

      Our going home outfit for our daughter was a cute little dress but really, I put it on, we took the picture, and when we got home, we changed her into a practical regular onesie that we’d gotten. But I still love that little dress, even though she never wore it again. So…even if it’s something impractical, if you want it just for that “going home,” I’d say do it.

      For me, I had a nursing nightgown with a robe and socks and shampoo, conditioner, soap, comb, deodorant. With the robe, I was comfortable seeing people and loved just unsnapping the nightgown to feed the baby.

      Phone charger. Definitely phone charger.

      My going home outfit was a t-shirt and maxi skirt. Even if you don’t love skirts, I’d recommend a skirt for postpartum. I did not want to put any pants on, yoga, loose, stretchy–no.

      It’s such an exciting time! :)

    13. Observer*

      Waaaaay, waaaay over thinking it.

      You do NOT need the “perfect” thing to take the kid home in. Just soft and comfortable. Get some onsies (I like the Carters – they are soft, comfortable, and wash well) and some pants. You can get plain white, colored and patterned. At this time of year, a onsie is often all the baby needs to wear, unless you are out in the sun, when you want to cover up. Also, get a sleep sack, and consider a swaddling blanket, as many infants sleep better with them.

  42. Scarlet Pimpernell*

    Im interested to hear about where you volunteer and why you love it and/or what charities you donate money to and why.

    Basically, I want to be a more engaged citizen but don’t really know where to start. I’m in Canada so I’m extra interested to hear about Canadian charities.

    1. katamia*

      I’m in the US and don’t know if you have something similar, but I used to volunteer at my local Friends of the Library. If you’re really passionate about books/literacy like I am, then that might be a good option to look into.

      In general, I think you should take some time to focus on the issues you’re most passionate about because you’re more likely to be committed to something you’re genuinely passionate about rather than just something you feel like you “should” be doing. My county website has information about volunteering and some possible orgs to volunteer with, so your town/city/whatever small governmental unit you live in might have something similar.

      Idealist.org also has volunteer options sometimes, although since their redesign I’ve found their website pretty much impossible to use, so maybe it won’t be much help, lol.

        1. Bibliovore*

          I really really really love my Friends of my Library. Any kind of passion can be fulfilled at the library. Love books? Love new books? I have a volunteer who opens, logs in and sorts my review copies. Love little kids and crafts? My friend volunteer helped keep my program supplies in order and wrangled registration and story time participants was a lifesaver. I’ve got volunteers working on exhibits, on weeding, on newsletters, and events. Some come in once or twice a week, others for special projects, and still others work on fund raising at home and come to meetings three times a year. Thank you to all of our Friends. My work life works because of you.

          1. Bibliovore*

            oh and I donate my time to a local tutoring center that helps kids with their homework after school and with college applications.

    2. Hrovitnir*

      I volunteered at our local SPCA many years ago and got a job and eventually a career out of it, so it was pretty rewarding! Emotionally hard though. I am thinking of volunteering to help with settling refugee families when I get back to NZ. (This does involve doing a bunch of stuff I struggle to do for myself but I can usually do things for other people.)

      I have very very little income, but I donate to Medecins Sans Frontieres since I know they are legit and provide assistance in a variety of situations, and I adopted a Hero Rat because I excited by the whole concept (I love rats, it’s an example of a cheap and effective way of addressing a problem uniquely). They have rats trained to detect mines, who are too light to set them off like sniffer dogs, and to detect TB in sputum in high throughput screens. Mine is a TB rat.

      I would like to donate to a NZ organisation at some point but that would require a reliable income. *sigh*

      1. Scarlet Pimpernell*

        Thank you for this- I hadn’t heard of hero rats before but I love this idea! I’m at a place with my budget where donating seems doable, but I want to be thoughtful and really consider where to donate. Really appreciate your comment :)

    3. anon24*

      I am in the US and I volunteer for a local cat rescue. They keep cats at a local pet store to get public exposure and someone has to go in every day to feed them, clean the habitats, and give them some love. I go every Friday night and it takes me about an hour. I love it! Some of the kitties we’ve had are super sweet and so much fun to be with and it’s so rewarding knowing you are helping them get a second chance.

    4. Scarlet Pimpernell*

      Thanks everyone – love these suggestions. I think my problem is that I have such a wide range of interests it’s hard to narrow down. Also, what I’d be best at contributing via volunteering is what I do for work, and I don’t want to do MORE work, you know?

      But, is it weird/annoying for volunteer coordinator to volunteer outside your skill set?

      1. KatieKate*

        Volunteer coordinator here. Nope! Anyone can sort food. Honestly, we love anyone who is willing to get down and dirty.

        And as for narrowing down your interests, id recommend joining groups that already do volunteering (meetups, religious groups, etc) as a way to try stuff out.

        1. Scarlet Pimpernell*

          Awesome, thank you for curbing my fears about this! The last thing I want is to be a burden to the organization. Much appreciated.

      2. Candy*

        I’ve just started volunteering with Immigrant Services Society of BC as a settlement mentor, where you help new residents adjust to the city by showing them around, explaining the transit system, etc which is an excellent fit for me since I’m a librarian (so I know a lot about community resources) but I’m using my professional knowledge without it actually feeling like I’m at work. Maybe you can find something that’s adjacent to your work but not the exact same tasks? Like a friend of mine works at an art gallery and volunteers at a children’s art place on the weekends making art with kids. So it’s different than her everyday work (she’s not selling artwork to rich people) but close enough that she can still use her art degree and work experience in some way.

        1. Scarlet Pimpernell*

          Ohhhh thank you for commenting! Can you tell me more about your role with immigrant services? How long do you work with an individual/family for? Do you have any trouble with language barriers? Do you meet at the organization or at a coffee shop? How many hours a week/month does this entail?

          Love your idea for work adjacent! Will think on this more.

    5. Weekend Warrior*

      You might be interested in A Year of Living Generously, both for the range of volunteer activities explored by the author and his thoughts about it all.

      I’m shifting my donation balance from money to time so this is a timely question for me too! I’m going to focus on literacy as my main volunteer theme for next year.

      1. Scarlet Pimpernell*

        Thank you! This is perfect- really appreciate the recommendation.

        May I ask why you are shifting to time instead of money donations?

        1. Weekend Warrior*

          I’ll be working less so will have more time than money. :) Still planning to donate $$ to one local and one international organization but will really ramp back. As I’ll have more time, I’m looking forward to in person volunteering. I’m considering being an in school reading buddy. Maybe also a conversation partner at a local university.

          I plan my $$ donations but am considering being a bit random with time just to try a few things out. :)

          1. Scarlet Pimpernell*

            This makes so much sense, thanks for responding. I don’t have a ton of time to donate so I’m also wondering if it would be more beneficial to donate $$ instead, but it wouldn’t be quite the same in my desire to more engaged as a citizen.

    6. Book Lover*

      I donate to a local food bank, our JCC, and then to the world wildlife fund and MSF (doctors without borders). I know you said Canadian, but more locally, this year I added ACLU and Planned Parenthood. I try to stick to monthly donations so that they know the money is coming every month automatically, and I try not to spread so thin that it doesn’t make sense.

      1. Scarlet Pimpernell*

        Good point on the monthly – that probably really makes a difference.

        If I was American I would totoally donate to planned parenthood, so maybe that means I should look at n org doing similar work in Canada for women’s health care!

    7. Red Reader*

      American, but I donate regularly to MSF, semi-regularly to the world wildlife fund and my local humane society, my Amazon smile is set up to donate to my state’s Planned Parenthood every time I order from Amazon, and I am shortly to be matched with a local student in a mentoring program designed to mentor high-achieving kids without a lot of community or family support through staying in high school and becoming first-gen college students.

      1. Scarlet Pimpernell*

        Thank you for commenting! I keep coming back to big brothers and big sisters as an idea, but I’m terrified of the commitement to a child and worried I might let them down.

        Can you tell me more about he matching program you are doing and what it looks like on a monthly basis? How do you mentor? What activities will you do with the youth? How long if a commitment is it?

        1. Red Reader*

          I haven’t actually started yet, just done an orientation/training session, and you’re echoing my biggest fears about the whole thing too :) I’m supposed to get my match in July, the program is set up to take in a new batch of incoming freshmen at the start of their first year in high school. It’s two years, and the expectation is two in-person visits a month and weekly contact (texts, emails, calls) in between. They suggest a wide range of things – cultural events are a big one, just go to Starbucks and chat, plan a meal and go through the shopping/prep stages. I have a zoo membership. The org gets discounts to things like theater experiences, art classes, sporting event tickets.

          The kids in the program are already doing well academically, they have a minimum GPA sand they’re all qualified as well for a program that will give them like $40k in grants for any state school and several private ones – the idea is partly to keep them working toward that goal, and partly to give them a wider range of experiences so that when they get to college they don’t hear classmates talking about all these things they’ve done and feel like they don’t belong at college because they’ve never done things like that. The educator told us at my training class that when she got her first mentee, she discovered that the girl had never been to a restaurant with an actual waiter before, she’d only ever been to fast food or counter service restaurants. So one of the things they did a few times was go through that – what to look for in a menu, what is and isn’t okay to ask for in alterations to a dish, how to read the bill and calculate a tip, etc.

          I’m nervous, but pretty excited about it.

          1. Scarlet Pimpernell*

            Thanks for the details- this sounds like an amazing program. I can see how intimidating it would be to be at uni without having what others consider “basic” life experiences.

            I’d love to hear how this goes for you! If you ever feel like posting an update I’d be curious to hear about this!

            1. Red Reader*

              I’m pretty stoked. The president of my organization is also on the board of directors for the program, which is how I found out about it. I’d been looking at BBBS occasionally in the past, but I was interested in something with a little more of a guided focus, I guess would be the way to put it? A little more direction, and also honestly something that had a little bit more buy-in from the kids to be participatory. Obviously, as the adult and the mentor I expect to be the one kind of driving the plans, but at the same time, this is a competitive program, so I know the mentees are here because they’re excited about being part of the program and they’ve put in effort to get here, and they’ve made a commitment to put in some of their own effort going forth. I dunno if that makes sense, hah.

              1. Scarlet Pimpernell*

                Yeah his totallaes sense and gives more direction in the mentor/mentee relationship. I’m gonna do some internet searches to see if we have something similar in my city!

    8. HannahS*

      I used to volunteer at a living-history museum. I did it because it was my favorite museum as a kid and, to me, a really interesting era. I dressed as a Victorian lady and discussed medicine with visitors. It was a good, interesting resume-builder in terms of both working with the public and learning abut medicine and honestly was so much fun.

    9. Zandra*

      I volunteer as a Girl Guide Leader and run a troop of girls ages 9-11. I started because I read in one of Gretchen Rubin’s books that the activities we enjoyed as a 10 year old are likely activities we’ll enjoy as an adult. I’ve been volunteering for five years now and find it immensely rewarding! It’s also different enough from my job that it feels like a break but I still learn and benefit from it professionally (e.g improved communication, public speaking and leadership skills).

      P.S I saw above in one of your comments that you’re wary of the commitment with BBBS. I felt the same way, and love that through guides I’m able to positively influence many lives both in a group and 1:1.

      1. Scarlet Pimpernell*

        Thanks for this- I was actually thinking that guides/scouts would maybe be a bit easier commitment wise than bb/bs. Do you have to do a lot of training before you start?

        1. Zandra*

          I’m not sure about Scouts, but for Guides there’s a safety course that you need to take within your first couple months of volunteering but it can be done online and only takes a couple of hours.

    10. Pat Benetardis*

      I’m a scout leader so that in itself is volunteering but then as a troop we have a lot of community service opportunities. I find it very rewarding. For donations I mostly give to the ACLU, planned parenthood and UNICEF.

  43. Mina*

    Any fans of Star Wars Grand Admiral Thrawn here ? He’s gorgeous and brilliant. I don’t think of him as a villain, just a soldier trying to maintain peace. Very glad they brought him out of the discontinued Expanded Universe. He was hugely popular. Still is.

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Preordered the shiny new Thrawn book at got it as soon as it came available. I adore Thrawn and the intrigues and politics Zahn built around him!

    2. Amadeo*

      Um, yes. He and Tarkin (especially since the Tarkin book) are a couple of my favorites besides Vader.

      He was always interesting to me, and the new book helped illustrate that some of the folks in the Empire were just trying to live life/do what they thought was right at the time/navigate rough waters. I hear that Rukh has been introduced to Rebels this past third season (I haven’t made it through the second season yet) and I’m wondering if he’s going to make it through that series, since we all know what Rukh is famous for.

      1. Mina*

        I think given Thrawn’s popularity they won’t give him the original ending. I recently read the theory that he was instrumental in helping form the First Order in the Outer Rim. So he probably went there instead. I hope so. Maybe he even got to go home.

      2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        One of Zahn’s big themes in general is driving hard on the idea that large groups are not monolithic; even if the leadership of the Empire is full of Certified Bad Guys, that doesn’t mean Random Trooper 123ABC is a bad guy. That’s true in his non-Star Wars books as well, and the main trait that makes him one of my hands-down favorite authors.

    3. Liane*

      Oh, yes love the Grand Admiral. And Tim Zahn is a a great guy. I’ve met him several times some years ago.

  44. Ask a Manager* Post author

    So we’re actively house-hunting, and this week we found an absolutely amazing house — like seriously one of the most beautiful houses I’ve ever been in. I am dying to live in it … except that it sits on the corner of a fairly busy street. Not an actual highway, but a busy thoroughfare. When we were there, there was pretty constant traffic driving by — you could see it out the windows whenever you glanced out them, and you could hear it from the backyard. And the master bedroom faces the street.

    We were there right around rush hour so we’re going to go back soon at a different time of day to see if maybe it’s not like that most of the time, but I’m 99% sure that’s a deal-breaker for me. My husband is arguing pretty hard for it not being prohibitive, but I really think we’d regret it. I’m also worried that it would be hard to resell in the future because buyers will have the same worries I have now.

    What do y’all think? Have you lived on a busy road and it was fine? Did you come to regret it? Would you do it again? Would you never do it?

    1. katamia*

      I lived in an apartment off a semi-busy thoroughfare for a year, and I found backing into traffic really stressful. I honestly don’t know how people who live on busier roads do that on a regular basis because it seems like they’d have to wait forever to actually be able to leave their driveway, and then people are driving at higher speeds than they are down my current quiet neighborhood road, so there’s a greater chance of starting to back out, thinking everything is fine, and then suddenly there’s a car there. I can’t say for sure it would be a dealbreaker for me, but it would definitely be a pretty big worry for me.

      I can’t speak as much to the noise issue because there was a taller building between the apartment and the road (really weird layout there), so noise wasn’t really an issue.

    2. Mina*

      I wouldn’t. And what if this street gets widened to accommodate more traffic or zoning changes?

      1. Life is Good*

        I agree, the road may be widened in the future. Oftentimes, municipalities have a master plan for futures road construction already in place. Your new yard may already have a right of way built in for future expansion. I would at least have your realtor check that out.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Whoa, I didn’t even think about that. I should say that currently it’s just two-lane (meaning one on each side) plus parking lanes on both sides, so it’s not like a big four-lane highway or anything. But that is definitely something we’d want to look into.

        1. Me2*

          My store was on a two lane (one on each side) street with parking on both sides and they took up all the parking on both sides to create a left turn lane at the neighboring intersection. Once the city had decided to do so, no amount of pleading from me or the neighborhood association would change their minds. In all fairness, a left turn lane did help traffic at the intersection but it was the nail in the coffin that drove my up until then successful store out of business. Hard to carry a piece of furniture two blocks to load it into someone’s car, plus deliveries became a nightmare. I realize that isn’t your issue, I’m just trying to point out that you can’t control your municipality in the future.

          On another note, if the buyers are eager to sell in your housing market, would they let you have an overnight in the house? We did that once for a condo we were considering and it really helped us see that it was not for us.

        2. Ann Furthermore*

          When my husband and I met, he was living in a townhome that backed to a 4-lane road. It wasn’t bad when we were inside, but sitting outside on the back patio you could hear the constant hum of road noise. It wasn’t like sitting beside a highway, but it was definitely noticeable. He said that when he moved in there, that street was a quiet little 2-lane neighborhood street, but then it was widened to be 4-lines and the traffic had increased considerably. He really hated it.

    3. fposte*

      I probably wouldn’t, and I’d be especially worried about working at home there. Things I’d check to explore further: what’s it like to back a car out of the driveway throughout the day, and can you go in either direction you want to? Is it a truck route (because those will rumble through the night)? Is the congestion level rising or likely to rise in a way that might lead to the road’s widening in future? Are there any relevant sports or entertainment venues to factor in, or nearby schools whose traffic isn’t a factor right now but will be most of the year?

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        My absolute requirement for living on a busy street is some kind of turn around driveway.

        Honestly the corner lot is a bigger deal breaker to me. I hate people cutting through my yard- and if there is a school bus stop there, blocking my driveway, hanging out on my lawn in good weather, and (happened twice!) deciding to erect their own “slow children playing” sign IN MY YARD.

    4. Kate*

      We did it. I hated it. It was less the traffic itself than all the 2 am ambulance sirens that drove me crazy.

      1. CAA*

        Yes, this. Check to see if you’re on a street that’s used by firetrucks and ambulances and about how many calls they get per month and whether they use sirens at night. We’re on a street that’s the main route for emergency vehicle access to the southwest corner of town, even though we don’t get much other traffic. Luckily they go with lights only at night, and the town is not so big that they get many calls out that way, but on nice days when the windows are open it can be disruptive.

    5. copy run start*

      As a kid I lived in an old house that backed up to a major freeway. I never thought much about it, and as an adult I sleep better with a fan running. Too quiet of a room makes me nervous. If you’ve always had a quiet bedroom, it might be a problem for you.

      My first apartment was right next to a major street. It wasn’t an issue for me then either.* I would plan for a fence if there isn’t one. Planting bushes inside the fence will also help deaden noise. Good windows can make a huge difference for your inside quality of life. My current apartment is near a railyard, and I barely hear anything with the windows shut because they’re high quality.

      My other thought is off-street parking. Is there a garage and a driveway large enough for your family and maybe a friend or two? Alleyway access? Parking on a major street may detour guests. It might also be hard to get in or out during peak times depending on the configuration.

      Traffic will definitely affect your resale value; future buyers are going to have the same concerns you do now! However you might be able to get a good price because of it.

      *For about a year there was a jerk in a diesel truck who’d floor it late at night driving by. Turns out he was trying to harass one of my neighbors (there was a big fight, cops came and the truck never showed again). I learned to sleep through it pretty quickly though. I had trouble sleeping for a bit once the guy stopped coming by.

    6. Hrovitnir*

      Oh no, that’s so frustrating. I think if your initial gut feel was “I can’t live with this”, it’s unlikely to be better when you’re stuck there. :/

      I assume buying land separately and relocating is really not an option?

    7. Anono-me*

      I very strongly urge you to keep looking.

      Of course everyone is different, but here is my experience

      I rented a cheap apartment for two years . It was cheap because it was on a busy street/truck route and near a major airport. I will never do it again. It was a constant low grade irritation with occasional flares of major suction.

      I had less patience and was more easily irritated. And over the two years it only
      got worse.

      Noise pollution is real and is a significant impact on the quality of your life.

      Also, more and more people are becoming aware of its impact, so you might get a small discount on the house now but due to increased awareness be expected to do a large discount when/If you sell.

      Happy house hunting!

    8. NeverNicky (formerly TeaLady)*

      We looked at a house on the main street of the next village over. We discounted it for a number of reasons but the traffic noise was a major one – the constant rumble was noticeable especially as some of the house wasn’t double glazed. I work from home and in my current place the loudest noise I hear is birdsong.
      The road also meant restricted parking most of the day.

    9. NoMoreMrFixit*

      Grew up on a busy road. It was the only street leading from the main drag in town through into the subdivision. Plus fire department and a church. half way down the street. And then a bus route complete with the stop placed on the border between our property and the next door neighbour. Led to a huge mess on the front lawn on an ongoing basis as people would drop their trash. We eventually got it moved to around the corner but it took some serious effort and a city councilor to accomplish.

      Now we’re on a side street with lots of peace and quiet and almost no traffic. No comparison.

    10. Overeducated*

      My last apartment was on a busy road, which was also a main ambulance route near the fire station, and my bedroom windows faced the street on the first floor. I barely noticed traffic noise, it’s just regular city background noise, and the fire trucks were very rarely so late at night that they’d wake me up. Consistent, normal traffic was WAY less annoying than the un-muffled motorcycles that drove up and down my supposedly quiet block in the previous place.

      So it wouldn’t be a deal breaker for me, but of course it depends on what bothers you. Good luck with your decision!

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        My parents live 3 blocks from a fire station. I don’t even notice sirens. :D

    11. Anon attorney*

      I live just off a busy road. The noise doesn’t bother me but I worry about the air quality and level of diesel particulates. Parking can be a problem because it’s on-street only. I’m about to start house hunting for unrelated reasons and I will probably try to find someplace further away from the road. If this is going to bother you it’s going to bother you. There will be other great houses. Think of it like dating – the guy who would be perfect if only he didn’t have $MAJORFLAW isn’t the guy…

    12. Yetanother Jennifer*

      I’d pass. Like the old adage says, the key to real estate is location, location, location. You can always remodel or even tear down a house, but you can’t change traffic patterns. It will likely color everything you do in the house and you will have a tough time selling.

      1. Yetanother Jennifer*

        Just thought of this…if you are driven inside by the noise, likely your neighbors are as well so you may not have opportunities to socialize with your neighbors. Or it may be better because they have to work at it and you have a common cause.

    13. Jessesgirl72*

      I lived on a busy street from age 12+ and then in my adult life, we almost always end up living like 3 blocks from the highway or on a really busy street. (one block off it currently)

      It might be novel to NOT be able to hear traffic while outside, but it never bothers me inside. We have a white noise machine in our bedroom, though, which helps.

    14. Vin Packer*

      I bought a house I was dying to live in an a location that was meh. Now, after getting to know its every drafty spot and plumbing problem, I’m less starry-eyed about the house itself but I looove things I didn’t expect to about its location and our great neighbors.

      The moral of this story could be that the location might surprise you and turn out to be awesome in ways you can’t anticipate. Or it might be that the one quirky architectural feature doesn’t matter as much as how relaxed you feel when you take your evening tea/cocktail/magic potion out to the backyard, so chose your backyard wisely.


    15. Lady Kelvin*

      We used to live overlooking 495. I would watch traffic build up from my office window. It was a constant white noise that we didn’t notice. We also used to live on Glebe in Arlington and while the actual traffic was quieter, the constant and random sirens from fire trucks and ambulances would wake us up in the middle of the night. So I think you should see if the random noise is frequent, because you will get used to the constant traffic noise.

    16. blackcat*

      I have lived on two busy roads, and it was fine both times, but I was a renter.

      I did just see a house on a busy corner in my neighborhood (actually the corner where I pick up the bus) go for tons of $$, and sell very quickly. And that house has a straight line of sight to a train station (so more train noise, particularly with the freight trains at night). So clearly, it doesn’t bother everyone! I wouldn’t worry too much about resale.

      Another thing to consider: do you want to know your neighbors? I’m just 2 very short blocks from that house, but my street has zero traffic. All of the neighbors chit chat. Kids play in the streets (including the kids from that house on the corner two blocks away! They have to walk over here, apparently!). When my water heater died, I could shower in my neighbors house (I had a key and just let myself in). When living on busy streets, even in neighborhoods that were mostly owner-occupied, I found that there was way less neighborly interaction. Maybe that doesn’t matter to you, but it’s something to consider.

      All in all, I’m happy the house I own is on a less busy street, even though I didn’t mind living on busy streets as a renter.

      (And, less of an issue for you, but the worst thing about my busy street apartment with a street facing bedroom in the Boston area was PLOWS! When it snowed heavily, they plowed that “emergency artery” like every damn hour. It was great that the road is always passable, but it was SO LOUD. I learned to sleep through lots there, but never the plows. Such a terrible, loud scraping sound.)

    17. JulieBulie*

      I live on a busy road. I wouldn’t mind at all if I had a garage or at least a driveway. But I feel a little insecure parking on the street when there is so much drive-by and foot traffic.

      But my bedroom faces the back. It’s fairly quiet back there. When I’m at the front of the house, I do get tired of hearing cars and loud passersby. However, I am EXTREMELY sensitive to “people noise.” I usually mask it by keeping the TV on. A white noise generator would help with that, too.

      However… if you have kids, or are thinking about it, I strongly recommend that you look for another house. Kids and busy streets are a bad combination.

    18. Temperance*

      We passed on a really lovely townhouse because the back of our property faced a really busy road, and the traffic noise/headlights were really annoying. I don’t regret it.

    19. Yup*

      I would pass, because busy roads *never* become less busy, only really more so. Two examples in DC: one house at 13th and Harvard was not just a very busy street in its own right; it was also one of the main drags for ambulances going to the hospital on Irving, further east. Trust me that, even in the dead of night, ambulances and other emergency vehicles operate their sirens as they approach intersections. For a light sleeper like me, it was hell.
      Also, busy streets are often ad-hoc thoroughfares for avoiding busier streets: to wit, my last apartment on 13th in Petworth was beset with trucks – and I do mean, massive, cargo-carrying delivery trucks – avoiding 14th street.

      Another point is pollution and dirt – not just noise pollution, but actual pollution. In the aformentioned house, it was shocking how filthy the inside of the house became from dust and emissions. The windows blackened within a week or so of cleaning; black dust was pretty much everywhere. It was just gross. Sitting on your porch – that quintessential DC activity – was really not very rewarding because of all the emissions you’d inhale. And what about enjoying the backyard? As a home owner, you’d have the clean the façade every so often too, no? So do consider that there’s more at stake than just noise.

      For me, a hard pass.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        I will say you should listen to your gut. We bought our current house 5 years ago. For various reasons we had very specific requirements which were not negotiable, and we ended up looking at over 50 houses. We were very, very close to making an offer on one that probably would have been just fine, but something was telling me it was not the right place for us. I told my husband I wanted to keep looking, and I thought he was going to lose his mind. But I told him it just didn’t feel right. We ended up buying another house that was absolutely perfect for us (except for the kitchen, which he remodeled) and we have been very, very happy here. It was absolutely the perfect move for us. If your gut is telling you it’s not the right place for you, don’t try to talk yourself into believing that it is.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I deliberately chose a side street because I wanted pets. It’s not IF they get loose, it’s WHEN they get loose, I want to have a fighting chance of catching them. Indeed, all three dogs have gotten away from me, three of the cats and even the bunny got loose. Although the main road is close by they never went out to the side street nor the main road.

        The traffic noise is not bad because we are fairly rural. Hearing vehicles go by at night during the winter actually comforts me. I know the roads are still open.

        Corner lots. Decades ago, I read that sociologists said there is something unique about owners of corner lots. There is a strong tendency for owners of corner lots to ONLY socialize with other corner lot owners. People living on the inside of the block tend to socialize with each other and skip the corner owners. I don’t know why.
        The other part that cured me on a corner lot is noticing how many corner lot owners have to put up fencing or other barriers because pedestrians, kids on bikes, etc cut across the grass rather than using the sidewalk to go around the corner. I am not willing to fight that fight.

        You can encourage hubby to look at the drive way. Do you have to back out on to the street or is there a turnaround area? Once you reach the mouth of the driveway will parked cars block your view of on-coming traffic? Is there a traffic light nearby that could mean you have wait for a red or green signal before you can exit your driveway? This stuff can get very tedious as the years roll by.

        I don’t know about snow for your area. Are there places to put the snow?

        I do know what you mean about The House. My house that got a way from me had two living rooms, a summer kitchen and a winter kitchen, a turret, a full basement in pristine condition and many features that you would expect in an old, old house. I still think of that house fondly. It was in a tough neighborhood with lots of drugs going on. I estimated ( and estimated badly) that it needed about 95k in repairs. It was probably closer to 200k. (I was looking for a low end number and aware that the number would probably be higher than that.) That particular town is known for its very high real estate taxes.
        I ended up with the house that was right for me as opposed to what I wanted. I call this “my good fortune”. You can let this help you in an odd way. I said to myself if I cannot have THAT house then I will be a little more particular about the house I do buy.

      3. Jules the First*

        Noise is such a personal thing…my last place was on a quiet street but under a holding pattern for the airport and had single glazed windows. It was hell for the two weeks out of every month that they used that holding pattern (but I put up with it because I loved that apartment).

        My current place is on the sixth floor on the corner of two really busy roads – and there’s a regional hospital about ten minutes down the road so I get sirens very regularly. This place, however, the noise levels are fine – I have triple glazed windows so there’s very little noise when the windows are shut, which means that the only time the noise levels are a problem is at night when it’s very warm and I’d want to have the windows open overnight.

        Are your kitties indoor kitties? If not, that’s another factor for a busy road….

      4. a Gen X manager*

        Definitely agree with the others – keep looking. I grew up on a busy road and I will never do that again – the noise, the odors, the lack of privacy, the lack of a “neighborhood”, the litter. My current house is pretty okay, but my favorite thing about my house is that it is on a dead end road in a neighborhood!

        Could you build a house that includes the qualities that you love so much in that house?

    20. Loz*

      If you’ve got any doubt don’t do it. I lived on a busy corner for four years and was unaware how the noise affected my mental health until we moved out. I was pretty young but interrupted sleep, fumes etc. took a slow toll. When we moved out into a quiet street, the first week we couldn’t sleep, the second week we didn’t even hear the fire fighters putting out the house across the road! Relaxed and healthy and being able to sleep when you want/need to beats pretty much anything.

      Also, as you get older, tolerance to noise definitely goes down, not up!

    21. Dead Quote Olympics*

      As someone who just this morning had to chase our inside kitty around the outside perimeter of the house when she unexpectedly made a break for it — a busy street gives you less time for recovery and more risk of death if pets get out.

    22. Clever Name*

      Our house backs up to a quiet street. It basically connects the surrounding neighborhood to some ball fields and rec centers, so the traffic isn’t too bad. I don’t find it bothersome at all, but I don’t think I could live on a major street.

    23. Jane*

      I’ve just bought my first house and it’s the first time in nearly 20 years I’m not living on a main road.

      My parents house had a big drive and was all double glazed. The noise wasn’t much of a problem, except sirens. It is opposite a junction and there is a car crash out there every couple of months.

      When I was at uni, I lived in a flat on a main road with massive single glazed windows. It was right above a crossing which would beep all night. It was also right near a hospital and so there were ambulances driving past very regularly. It was also opposite a bar which had a perfect view into my bedroom. It didn’t mind it at 19, but would hate to live there now.

      I then lived in a flat which was right on a main road with a very narrow pavement. There were lorries driving past a few meters from my bed which I hated. It was also near impossible to park and my car was hit or damaged several times in two years.

      I bought a house in a residential area away from any main roads and can’t believe how much I like all the little things, hearing the birds, talking to the neighbors (nobody even seems to say hello on main roads!), a view. I think this would be a deal breaker for me in future moves now.

    24. ..Kat..*

      Please keep in mind that busy roads tend to get busier over the years, I.e., expect traffic to get worse. Not just at peak times, but around the clock. Also, what separates your potential home from the roadway? The busier the roadway, the more likely for a car to accidentally leave the road and try and park inside your house!

      1. ..Kat..*

        Also, the areas near busy roads have more “microparticles” in the air. These contribute to a higher level of cardiovascular diseases in adults who live there. Think strokes and heart attacks. Children end up with higher rates of asthma.

        And now, your husband hates me…

    25. Kerr*

      Trust your gut! I rent a place next to a (relatively) high-traffic street, but I wouldn’t want to buy here.
      I’m also thinking of a 2-lane, very busy commuter street in my area, lined with residential homes, which were clearly built when traffic was VERY mild. It’s not mild anymore, and I’d hate to live there, especially on a corner! The noise is bad enough, but then you’ve got people honking, and a higher risk of accidents. (It’s not completely unheard of for cars to jump a curb and hit a corner fence or house.) People post garage sale signs/lemonade stands/random stuff on busy corners, too.
      – Windows facing the street means I never fully uncover the windows. This is REALLY annoying.
      – Pulling in/out of the driveway – can you see well in all directions? This is one of those tiny things that turns into a pain.
      – Adequate street or driveway parking for visitors.
      – Street widening! If the street is busy enough, at some point, someone will probably bring it up as a traffic solution. Even if it never goes anywhere, you might not want to deal with that (or fighting it).
      – Privacy. You’d want tall bushes or trees, if the house doesn’t have them already.
      – I’m used to a perpetual hum, and I’ve adapted, but this street is still loud enough to intrude. Like when I want to listen to music/TV.

    26. Pat Benetardis*

      We lived on the corner of a busy street for a while. Not only was it the expected noisy, but there would be middle of the night police stops (sometime loud drunk people), car noise, and blaring car stereo noise passing. Plus, the porch and our outdoor furniture always had to be wiped down before we sat outside because it was covered in soot.

    27. Cath in Canada*

      Is it stop-start traffic, or do most cars drive straight past? I’ve lived on both types of main street and the former is way worse – our old apartment was right by a traffic light, and the sound of braking and acceleration is much louder than the sound of cars smoothly driving past, which is what we have in our current house.

      We just bought a place last week that’s in the centre of a townhouse complex, with underground parking, and it will be the first time I haven’t lived right by a main street in, ooh, 13 years? In fact there won’t be any traffic at all in our immediate vicinity. You really do get used to traffic noise, but it’ll still be nice to get away from it and be able to have the bedroom window open at night. (I’m way more excited about other features of our new place, such as newness and niceness of the house itself and a much more interesting and walkable neighbourhood than we’re in now, but I’m moderately excited about the lack of traffic noise too).

      Air quality is another issue – there’s a correlation between proximity to traffic and all kinds of bad health outcomes, including lung cancer.

      If there’s a strong shift towards electric vehicles in the next few years then you’ll be OK, though :)

    28. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      Oh man, that is a conundrum. After living on a “double yellow line” road for my first house purchase, I decided that future purchases would include the non-negotiable no double yellow lines. I got new windows in that first house, that were low E, and that helped with noise reduction. But it was hard for people to park at my house, I worried if my dogs ever got out of the back yard, etc.

      Being from NoVa, I sympathize. One grandma lived in Arlington, and the other grandparents in Falls Church. I know the traffic. But…I also know that that’s just how the cookie crumbles some times and there are LOT of houses in NoVa that reside on/near busy roads due the popularity of the area. Or conversely, houses in quiet, squirreled away subdivisions, that get a LOT of airport noise (my parents live in said subdivision in Reston now and holy moly, the planes from Dulles!). So, I think it depends on your lifestyle (i.e. do you have people over a lot, are you in the back yard a lot, do you like to open the windows during nice weather?), and the quality of the windows, insulation for noise reduction purposes. Does the traffic turn into a hum of white noise or is it more bus engines, honking, etc.?

      Best of luck, house hunting sometimes feels like a full time job!

  45. beem*

    Fellow cat lovers: Can you shed any light on my cat’s habit?
    Our cat’s name is Aeris. We also have a small stuffed dog (a bit bigger than a beanie baby) whose name is Poptart.
    Here’s the thing:
    It is night. We head to bed. Aeris begins to mrow urgently. I mrow back or call for her but stay in bed. We turn the lights off. Aeris comes into the room, “Mroooow mroooow mroooow!” She drops Poptart at the foot of the bed.
    My question:
    Is Poptart her friend or foe? Is she bringing him to the bedroom because its time to sleep? Or is sh