weekend free-for-all – July 8-9, 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: A House Among the Trees, by Julia Glass. I love everything she writes, and this is no exception. It’s about the death of a famous children’s book author (modeled to some degree on Maurice Sendak) and the emotional legacy he leaves to the people he was close to.

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

{ 1,046 comments… read them below }

  1. New girl*

    Okay, I believe this is where I have read about inflatable kayaks. I’m seriously considering getting one. I’ve currently got the Intex Explorer (it’s two-person) sitting in my amazon cart. Does anyone have any other recommendations or things I should know before I take the plunge and buy one?

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I don’t know anything about them, except I have a couple of friends who own an RV, and they bought two Intex Challenger K1s (K-ones, in case the font is as difficult to read for you as for me). Seems like it’s probably a good brand, they do at least as much research as I would do.

      They said that: the ones made of PVC rubber/plastic, like the Marine boats, are much more stable, but they cost at least $1,200. These are fine for still water, like small to medium lakes. You can deflate the seat some to ensure the weight is grounded. When the seats are high in inflatables it can throw off the balance.

      1. Not That Jane*

        Hubby and I have two Advanced Elements tandem inflatable kayaks. We love them! That said, we were given the advice before buying that you should try to get a quality one used, rather than a cheap one, because the cheap ones tend to be MUCH more difficult to steer. A river guide we talked to said he calls them “divorce boats” because it always seems to be couples arguing about who’s screwing up the steering.

        It’s also worth trying out different paddle styles to see which you prefer – some are easier for those of us without much upper body strength.

        Finally, you may already know this, but the stronger kayaker should be in the back usually, as it’s easier to steer and control the kayak from the back.

    2. NJ Anon*

      My sin and his gf bought them because they were sick of hauling around the other ones. Said they work great and easier to transport.

    3. Kristen*

      Not a recommendation, but I’m looking at getting an inflatable kayak too (I’m currently upset with myself that I didn’t buy one during REI’s anniversary sale). I might have to look into the Intex brand. I’m currently looking at the AdvancedFrame Sport by Advanced Elements, but it’s more expensive than the Intex one you mentioned (and it’s a solo so not good for you although they have even more expensive tandems available).

      Haha I’m sorry, I’m not much help; I really just wanted to share my excitement :-)

      1. New girl*

        My thought is to start with something cheaper to see if I use it and then eventually move up to something higher quality.

        1. Not That Jane*

          Try getting a really good brand, used. That’s how we got both of ours, I think for $400 or so each.

        2. Keener*

          I second all the comments about going for a better quality used kayak. I am not familiar with the inflatable options but the cheap hardshell kayaks don’t track well, aren’t very efficient, and aren’t really seaworthy. So they are okay if you want to float around on a quiet lake but not good for paddling any distance. So, if you go the route of a cheap kayak with the plan to upgrade if you use it the rush is that the kayak doesn’t meet your needs, you don’t use it and therefore never get a much more functional kayak. If you go the use route and decide kayaking isn’t your thing, you probably can sell the kayak for about the same that you purchased it for. Just my two cents.

        1. Keener*

          For PFDs spend the extra money and get kayak specific ones that are short enough so they are comfortable to wear while paddling. If at all possible go to a store with experienced staff that can help you find ones that fit best for your body shape. (It’s really hard to put it on once you’re in the water and a capsize can happen really quick.)

    4. Trillian*

      I am ridiculously fond of my tiny Alpacka packraft. It my trade-up boat and on the expensive side, but it’s crazy light — 5 lb for the single, with a minimalist inflation system — which means I can pack everything I need on my back, on the bus, on my bike, or in my airline baggage. I’m much more sedate than the videos, which seem mainly to show how tough they are.

    5. Girasol*

      I am very fond of an ORU kayak. It’s worth a look if a one person boat would work for you. It’s made of corrugated plastic and it does a sort of origami fold back and forth between its box shape and its kayak shape. It’s 26 pounds and fits easily in the trunk of my compact car.

    6. Mrs. Fenris*

      Funny this should come up. I just got an Intex Explorer K2 (the yellow one) a month or so ago. I’ve used it in a mountain lake, a small river, and in the ocean waves. It’s pretty easy to transport and works fine. I have not actually put 2 people in it yet. (My husband is the size of 2 standard adults all by himself, and my teenagers are a little skeptical.) It’s a little slow to inflate, but not too bad. I don’t think it’s going to scratch my itch for a real kayak forever, but for the price it was a good place to start.

  2. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was trying out an online interior decorating service for the new house that I move into in about a month. I used Laurel and Wolf and it went … badly, to the point that I ended up asking for a refund. (Designer was slow to respond despite the fact that the service only lasts for 10 days, didn’t seem to listen to feedback, and was suggesting deadly dull stuff.) I had really just wanted them for advice on paint colors, so I went ahead and picked out my own.

    Then I found a woman who does paint consultations online if you send her a bunch of photos of your rooms in different light, and she was amazing. She validated some of my paint choices, suggested to changes to others, and left me with a 10+ page PDF explaining all her recommendations. It was exactly what I wanted, and her suggestions are great. I am delighted, and I am also going to have a deep purple master bathroom.

    Highly recommended if anyone else is struggling with paint choices:

    1. Sibley*

      thank you. I’ve got a house full of paint choices to make, and a grand total of 2 rooms of ideas.

    2. Hrovitnir*

      The crappy service sounds super frustrating, but the website is cool! Thanks for the resource.

    3. Lady Kelvin*

      Deep purple bathroom sounds like my heaven. My bathroom decor is shades of purple but our rental has bright orange walls. To say it clashes would be an understatement. But since single family starter home median prices just topped 800k this summer, we have agreed that buying a home will probably never be practicle out here. But I’m still mourning the fact that we may never own a house.

      1. Quickbeam*

        800K!!!! Whew. Single family houses on my street go for 150K. I guess I should stop complaining about Wisconsin. I’m from Jersey…my childhood neighborhood of Levittown homes now going for high 6 figures……

        1. Anxa*

          I just got home from visiting my family, and I should be happy, but mostly I’m just sad because I know I will never, ever be able to afford to live where I grew up (NJ). I just don’t see anyway I could make enough money, even if I had perfect luck from here on out. It’s kind of sad because I took it for granted as a kid; my parents had perfectly average jobs with perfectly average incomes.

    4. SJPufendork*

      I bet that the master bath will be very striking! My dining room is actually a very deep purple (with an old church lantern as a chandelier) and I’ve gotten many compliments on how pretty the room is.

    5. Temperance*

      Thanks for sharing that site! We may use that for our upcoming 2nd floor renovation.

      We have a dark navy powder room, and I love it. It’s probably my favorite room. (It was originally varying shades of traffic cone orange that was so bright it reflected onto the dining room floor if the door was open.)

    6. Aphrodite*

      Congratulations! Thanks both for the warning and for the recommendation. I love the idea of a deep purple bathroom. If you are willing, when you are done, would you share pictures? I’d love to see it!

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes! I definitely will. (Years ago I redid my kitchen and bored everyone here with photos of the process, and I look forward to repeating that. Speaking of which, I am seriously considering putting the exact same countertops in the new house because I love them and am convinced there is nothing more beautiful anywhere in the world.)

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I bet you are going to love it.
      I accidentally bought some purple floor paint for my laundry/utility room. Well, it was labeled gray and on a clearance table. No regrets, I love my purple floor. It cheers up a blah room.

    8. Rogue*

      We plan on doing a deep purple, white, and silver master bath. I hope yours comes out lovely!

    9. Mike C.*

      Man, I’m glad to see folks who are willing to try something new or interesting with their decorating rather than settling for nothing but inoffensive light neutrals. It’s a home and should reflect the personalities of those who live in them.

      /Don’t get me started on beige cars. :p

        1. LivesInAShoe*

          My plan is to make tile mosaics (perhaps on plexiglass) and have a scene running up my stairs. Some day.

    10. SouthernLadybug*

      Thanks for the tip! My husband and I really need help in the paint colors department and were wondering if we could just get someone to do that.

    11. I Dodged a Ballet*

      Thanks Allison! Perfect timing as I just bought a new loft apartment (old industrial city with lots of converted mill buildings). It’s one big open space and the previous owner put in very big and substantial white built-in bookcases and a fireplace with white marble. I’m struggling with paint colors but I have pics!

    12. The Expendable Redshirt*

      Thanks! I’m planning on painting my house later this year. Choosing paint colours has been a challenge

  3. Laura*

    Have a great weekend. Enjoying some tea and hopefully writing a smidge as soon as I’m done with the tea. (I exceeded my electronic death by tea quota back in 2012. Don’t want a repeat.)

    1. On Fire*

      Good luck with the writing! I’ve been doing the same (after canning salsa this morning), need another 7,000+ words for my current WIP, and am casting about for what direction to go. (If anyone has ever wondered why so many fiction writers throw in random sex scenes? Well… it easily raises the word count. I’m working to avoid that.)

      1. long time lurker*

        Agreed that they help raise the word count, but good writers edit out unnecessary scenes later. :P

  4. Miso*

    My balcony is finally done! Whoo!
    That’s a good thing because it’s just so hot here… *melts away*

    I spontaneously went to Ikea today which of course resulted in me spending way more money than I had planned, but… I needed all that stuff! Honestly!
    (And most was what I had wanted to buy anyway.)

    After that I went to the big supermarket in our neighbouring town for the first time, so of course I had no idea where which stuff was (I must say, Aldi with their ever the same layouts is really on to something…) and it at least felt as if I spent more time at the supermarket than at Ikea… Ah well, might also be because I had no ice cream break at the supermarket, haha.

    1. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

      I was also at Ikea this week shopping balcony stuff! We have room on the balcony for a table and chairs for four people, but only if the size and shape of the table are exactly right, and the only suitable option at a reasonable price was at Ikea, so we went there. It was the first time for both me and my spouse, we’ve been actively avoiding that enormous and time-consuming shopping hell, but in the end the experience wasn’t so bad after all. I think the trick is to see the website or catalogue beforehand and know exactly what you want to see there. It’s not a good place for just watching, then it will take ages and things can be hard to find as well.

    2. LAM*

      I’ve made it a rule to only walk out of Ikea with what I can carry (especially since I tend to only go there for smaller items… like a night stand or a side table or some storage cubes), which has lead to some interesting situations where I absolutely cannot carry anything else by the time I get to what I’m actually there for. Once I ended up carrying everything out in a Tetris-esque filled bathroom trashcan.

      Last time my boyfriend and I were there, we were looking for a new night stand, but wanted to keep the cost to $50-75. We ended up getting one that we saw damn near everywhere for about $100. I kept telling him that’s what we’d end up with since it appeared to be following us through the store. Three stores later we were back at Ikea to purchase that exact night stand.

  5. Stella's Mom*

    Good afternoon from Geneva! Happy weekend to all, too. It’s my last weekend here. I move to the UK for school on Wednesday. My cat is going via animal courier on Tuesday.

    I am recovering well from gallbladder surgery, and managed to also repair my laptop with a new logitech wireless keyboard and mouse – spilled juice on my laptop and it sort of works on its own, but works better with keyboard and mouse until I can get it serviced in the UK.

    I am looking forward to the changes and to cooler weather for the cat and I (in the 30s here…. 90s F). I will miss my friends and I will miss the mountains, but am so excited to start a new path as a mature student (late 40’s).

    Wishing everyone a great weekend, full of fun, rest, love, and general goodness. Also I want to say that I love this community and the advice offered and comments given. It has helped me a lot in the past 6 months of getting myself centered and such. Thanks!

    1. Bigglesworth*

      Congratulations on your school and best wishes for your move. I just moved across the country to school myself and am really looking forward to getting to know my new city better. You have probably mentioned it in previous posts, but what are you going to be studying?

      1. Stella's Mom*

        Congrats to you too! I will study marine environmental protection. I am so excited! Where will you go to school, and what will you be studying?

        1. Bigglesworth*

          That sounds awesome! And thanks! I’ll be attending law school in Washington DC. My hope is to work in either civil rights or international human rights once I’m finished.

          1. Stella's Mom*

            Oh neat, this is great! I am sure you will do well and there is a definite need for folks with that skill set. :) Good luck!

            1. Bigglesworth*

              Good luck to you too! We also need good people working to understand and protect our world!

  6. Anonymous Educator*

    I know people often ask for podcast recommendations. Anyone have favorite particular episodes to recommend, though?

    For example, not This American Life but This American Life: “The Break-Up.”

    1. Hrovitnir*

      Welcome to Nightvale: One Year Later. Only really works after the rest of the season though – that’s what fully hooked me. Also the entire storyline with Strexcorp coming to Nightvale: not sure where that starts though. It was intense, more blatantly political than they’d been previously, and had great character development. Oh, and a recent episode, Matryoshka.

      It’s all very based on character backgrounds though, so I’d generally advise starting at the start, even though the first season is a bit weaker as they find their footing IMO.

      1. Gingerblue*

        “A Story About You” is one of my favorite S1 Night Vale episodes. By that point the show has really started to gel.

      2. Talvi*

        The Strexcorp storyline starts with episode 32 “Yellow Helicopters”, and runs through episodes 49A & B “Old Oak Doors” (and you probably want to listen to 19A & B “The Sandstorm” first, just for the added horror factor).

        I quite enjoy the first season, myself. It’s also much more “monster of the week” than later years, so it’s easier to come in anywhere without missing anything important.

    2. Junior Dev*

      Reply All #100: Friends and Blasphemers. It’s about Livejournal and its very strange role in Russian politics.

      1. Hedgehog*

        Hardcore History: Blueprint for Armageddon

        I think it’s actually 6 episodes, and each episode is 3-4 hours long, but it’s amazing.

      2. KV*

        Reply All is fantastic, I also recommend “Zardulu” and “Shipped to Timbuktu”!

      1. neverjaunty*

        Sorry, hit return too soon! I especially like the Twenty Thousand Hertz episode “Voice Acting”. 99% Invisible is hard to pin down, they have so many good episodes.

        1. Minuit*

          I love 99pi! So many food episodes, but one that has stuck with me is “255-Architect of Hollywood” about African American architect Paul Revere Williams.

        2. Kate in Scotland*

          My favourite 99% Invisible episodes are the Mooallem ones: Wild Ones, Billy Possum (re-run together as Mooallempalooza) and, recently, This is Chance.

      1. Jess*

        And the Invisibilia episode in season 1 about blindness – that was amazing! I almost cried.

    3. Kate in Scotland*

      Sawbones: “The Incredible Dr James Barry”, Nerdette:”Astronaut and NOAA head Kathy Sullivan…” (just for that interview).

      1. Julianne*

        I really liked the Sawbones episode about medical education. I knew bits and pieces from friends in the medical field and from medical TV shows, but it was very interesting to get a more thorough explanation of things like MCATs, residency, matching, etc.

    4. ampg*

      99 percent invisible – Plat of Zion; McMansion Hell

      Dirtcast – Why did celebrities turn their backs (and wrists) on Kabbalah?

      Freakonomics Radio – In praise of maintenance

    5. Paige Turner*

      Beautiful/Anonymous- Vinyl Market Researcher (recommended if you love record stores or are thinking about a career change to follow your dreams)

    6. Anonymous Educator*

      Whoa! Thanks for all the recommendations so far.

      I have a few of my own, too:

      Nancy: “Like Two Ken Dolls Being Smashed Together” (mainly the second story)
      The Bloomcast: Episode 3
      Reply All: #83 Voyage Into Pizzagate

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Oh, also: Talkhouse Film: Mary Elizabeth Winstead with Melanie Lynskey

    7. Lady Jay*

      “Walk This Way” from 99pi was really excellent, in terms of awakening me to the various ways that our world is designed to prompt certain actions (e.g. floor tiling that encourages people to literally walk a certain direction).

      Also excellent is “Destroyer of Worlds,” from Hardcore History, a six-hour episode on the development of nuclear weaponry & the Cuban Missile Crisis. In many ways, it’s Command & Control in podcast form.

    8. Junior Dev*

      Another one I just heard: the most recent Planet Money episode is called “budget time” and goes over sections of the federal budget in time blocks proportional to their percentage of federal spending. Its informative and entertaining!

    9. Nye*

      Radiolab: (So-Called) Life and Parasites

      Two of my favorite, classic Radiolab episodes. There’s a story about a mother and her sons in (So-Called) Life that’s just amazing. And Parasites is about parasitism, which is one of the most interesting lifestyles ever to evolve.

        1. Anxa*

          I like Cellmates.

          I was kind of letdown by their CRISPR episodes, but I probably had too high expectations as I worked on a CRISPR project.

    10. Julianne*

      TAL: 21 Chump Street and Petty Tyrant (the one about the tyrannical maintenance supervisor). Also, I like all the episodes about education and inequity: Harper High School, Three Miles, The Problem We All Live With.

      The Worst Bestsellers: Outlander and Modelland.

      Stuff You Missed in History: The 3-part series on China’s Cultural Revolution, and basically any of the Unearthed! episodes. I’m also partial to their episodes on African history, because that’s a particular interest of mine.

      1. Liz in a Library*

        21 Chump Street is fantastic (both the original story and the Lin-Manuel Miranda mini-musical)!

    11. Elizabeth H.*

      Reddit’s AskHistorians podcast: episode on Jim Jones and the back story of Jonestown with guest cordismelum, the Great Leap Forward episode with the same guest, two part series on bread baking throughout history (SO fascinating), episode on structuralism vs intentionalism in Holocaust historiography…
      TAL I second their episodes on education and inequality. Other favorites of mine are A Not-So-Simple Majority, Scene of the Crime, Rest Stop, Very Tough Love, Tell Me I’m Fat, Break-up, Know When to Fold’Em (sad but good), Say Anything, Abdi and the Golden Ticket, their “This Week” episodes … My favorite contributors (you can search by contributor) are Starlee Kine and Elna Baker.
      I have so many Planet Money favorites – their t-shirt series, The Fine Print, anything about the tax code, and their several stories in one episodes.

    12. Juli G.*

      Harmontown – Episode 82: Jim Belushi’s Basement (which features everyone’s Belushi impression and Mitch Hurwitz epic one-liner)

      Episode 92: It’s Not Personal, It’s Business (where Dan Harmon conducts a round of D&D as Ice Cube).

    13. Office Manager*

      The Mortified Project: #21 – Mortified’s Summer Camp Spectacular! — 2 “stories” but my pick is based on the boy’s letter’s home to his family

  7. photo album designer dreams*

    UGH – I am so mad at myself. I just went out for a nice run – AND TRIPPED ON MY SHOELACE. The loop was too big, and I forgot to tuck it in, and I stepped on it. I went down hard. Hands, knees, elbow. I tried to nonchalant as I walked home while blood was streaming down my legs and arms.

    The worst part is that besides the severely injured pride, I’m pretty sure I broke my thumb again. I broke it three years ago; pulled the ligament, shattered some bone, and anyway, now have a pin in there. Waiting for a call back from the orthopedist about what to do….

    So…PSA for the day – make sure your shoes are tied! :)

    1. Gingerblue*

      Ow! I’m so sorry. I banged my foot into a chair last night and have been feeling all sorry for myself over the minor bruise I got; I can’t even imagine being down a thumb. I hope you heal quickly and things turn out to be less severe than they initially look.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Ow! :(
      I hope you’re okay. Poor thumb. A couple of years ago, I was coming back from a walk and stepped on one of those evil balls from the sweet gum tree. I fell forward on my asphalt driveway and landed on my left knee with my full weight. GOD that hurt. I damaged the meniscus. No surgery; it healed but every once in a while, it acts up a little. Now I’m vigilant about picking up those things.

    3. Phlox*

      I did that in high school – double loop came undone on a long run with the team and floop, I went down on a downhill sidewalk. Walked into a police station right there and the desk guys were remarkably unhelpful about first aid, took a bit for them to rummage up gauze as I stood there and dripped (not much) blood on their carpet. Couldn’t walk normally for a bit because of massive knee scab but thank goodness my prom dress was full length. I’ve been paranoid about tied laces ever since!

    4. Mimmy*

      Oooh OUCH!! And I thought I had it bad when I skinned my knee last year from missing a step! Hope you heal quickly!!

    5. JulieBulie*

      I broke my hand a couple of years ago in a similar fall. I was wearing shoes that had hooks for the laces. I left the uppermost hooks unlaced, and the loop of one shoelace got caught in the hook of the other shoe.

      And on the way down, I suddenly remembered the similar accident many years ago that had caused me to stop buying shoes that lace through hooks. I won’t forget again!

      Good luck with your thumb. I hope the rest of you is healing well!

    6. This Daydreamer*

      Ouch. It sucks to be in the klutz club.

      I should know. I’m a charter member.

    7. photo album designer dreams*

      thanks for all the kind comments, and I am taking solace in the fact that there are others out there who have been in the same boat!

      I spoke to the orthopedist on call yesterday and he said I could skip the ER and just come in for an xray at their office on Monday. Now to figure out the insurance logistics since I need a referral for everything. I also dug out my old post surgery brace so my thumb is now immobilized, which has been helping.

  8. OrphanBrown*

    I walked naked to the other side of the house to grab a towel for my shower while my husband was face timing his parents with our kid and ended up in the background of it. It’s been 14 hours and I’m not over it. At least it’s distracting me from the job offer I’ve been waiting two weeks to get!

    1. JDusek*

      You seriously made my day! I’m cracking up (mainly because I could see that happening in my own house).

    2. Bigglesworth*

      Oh no!!! That sounds like something I would do! Also, I’d probably be laughing so hard once I realized what I did that I’d end up dropping the towel….

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Inspired by this, my husband and I just had a rollicking conversation about who we would be most mortified to do this in front of, so thank you.

      1. OrphanBrown*

        My in-laws are pretty much at the top of the list but mental images of ranking my 2nd and 3rd is helping ease my pain now. Picturing the reverse is also helping.

    4. LostCause*

      Years ago, I was living with an ex boyfriend. He had two sheltie dogs that thought they were the baddest dogs in the world and HATED the mail man. The mailbox was attached to the outside of the house, right next to the front door.

      I was waiting for money sent by my grandma and had just gotten out of the shower when I heard the dogs barking. I thought the mailman was gone, so I went out, wrapped in a towel, to check the mail. I didnt even have to step outside, it would be quick!

      ……as I opened the door, with the dogs barking and running around my feet, the mailman walked up the driveway.
      The dogs ran out the door chasing the mailman, I ran after them, clutching my towel and screaming at them to stop. They did. I caught up to them and they decided to start chasing. I grabbed them both by the collars, but in the meantime, my towel had come loose and dropped to the ground.
      People from the neighboring houses had come outside to see what was going on. I awkwardly grabbed the towel and walked the dogs back into the house, buck naked. Wishing the ground would open up and swallow us whole.

      The mailman also didnt deliver the mail for 2 days, I had to call and apologize before mail delivery resumed. I always made sure to put the dogs in the backyard before opening the door to check mail.

      I feel your pain. Someday, you will laugh about it.

      1. OrphanBrown*

        Omg your terrible story makes me feel better. Thank you. I’m assuming you’ve moved on and don’t have to see any of those people again?

        1. LostCause*

          No, I don’t live there now. But I did for about a year after that.
          The cranky old man next door started waving and smiling every time he saw me after that lol.
          The embarrassment fades, but it is hard to let go of at first. Eventually you will be able to laugh about it, but it took me a good year AFTER I had moved.
          I am sending you hugs.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        This is my nightmare. I live in fear of my dog getting away from me at the worst possible moment like this. It takes at least 45 minutes to get him back. Boy, can he run.

        I am so very sorry this happened to you.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      This would be me. Hubby and I don’t have kids, just cats. So it’s not unusual to walk around naked while getting ready for work or going out, or getting undressed at the end of the day. I can only imagine the horrors my cats have had to endure…

    6. This Daydreamer*

      Um, yay for the distraction?

      Look at it this way – you used up all of your bad mojo by flashing the in-laws, so now there’s no way you’re not getting the offer, right?

      I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for you.

    7. paul*

      Am I abad person for laughing about this? Cause I did, but I’d be totally mortified.

    8. the.kat*

      I was digging through the laundry basket on my kitchen table this week fresh out of the shower as the maintenance guys go driving by the back porch in their golf cart, which is in complete view of my naked self. It’s been an awkward week. I don’t know if they saw me, so I’m just assuming they did.

  9. dawbs*

    AUDIO book suggestions?
    My family is taking a long car trip in a weekish, and I know the adults do books on tape (ok, CD) well for these sorts of things, and I”m reasonably sure the 6 year old will too…
    But we need something that’s going to be palatable to the whole crew in the car–so not super adult:
    -the precocious 6 year old (who has listened to long chapter books, but prefers pictures and ‘involves adventure’),
    -me (I’m a bit of a little of everything, well versed in classical lit and YA, also generally reasonably read in geekdom–a medium amt of fantasy ans sci-fi)
    -THe Mr-a bit of a wildcard w/ books as well, but he’s always game for humor, Carl Hiaasen and Christopher moore are popular, and I’ve recently had him into the flying sorcerer anthologies (so humor in geekdom/SciFi and fantasy).

      1. Kat*

        I must second this. The audio books are so so so well done and so enjoyable. I relistened to the whole series last year rather than reading because the audio version is great.

        1. KarenK*

          Third it! I’m listening to the series for the umpteenth time right now. Jim Dale rules!

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            I once SWORE I saw Jim Dale in a restaurant (New York, Midtown East, not so far out of the realm of possibility) and freaked out for an hour. And no, I did not approach this man, because if he wasn’t Jim Dale, I wouldn’t have been able to explain why I was staring at him. I kind of wish I had, because it might have been him!!! I love him.

      1. Alex*

        Second this!! I think this is what I had when I was a kid, on cassettes of course, and I loved it. I think 6 yo is just about when I had it, too.

    1. Maya Elena*

      Lors of the Rings audio book is so well-read it is totally worth re-listening to, even if you know the book by heart.

      There is also a version of The Alchemist read by Jeremy Irons which is great and *might* be interesting to the 6 y.o…..

    2. Jean (just Jean)*

      I’ve heard good things about The Phantom Tollbooth. You might also like Harriet the Spy or other classic literature for older kids, such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or James and the Giant Peach by Raold Dahl, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler or A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engel.

      I also remember enjoying an imaginative series for which I’ve forgotten all titles except The Black Cauldron, which is maybe the third book in the sequence.

      Authors’ names (perhaps misspelled?) provided only if I remembered them. :-|

      If push comes to shove you might look into podcasts.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        P.S. Madeleine L’Engle (sp?) wrote A Wrinkle in Time but not From the Mixed-Up Files…!

      2. SuperPoodle*

        Seconded on A Wrinkle in Time, especially since I think there’s a version read by Madeleine L’Engle herself–I love hearing authors read their own work.

        The Black Cauldron is from The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander, and the first book in the series is (rather confusingly) called The Book of Three. Fantasy adventure series based loosely on Welsh mythology and definitely some of my favorites as a child!

        I would also recommend any books by Ursula Vernon, especially Castle Hangnail–funny, witty for both kids and grown-ups, and original in their user of fantasy elements!

        Also, if you don’t already know about it, try Overdrive, which is a free audio and e-book service that you can get through most public libraries with your lover account. You check out books online and download them to your phone and it’s wonderful!

          1. SuperPoodle*

            And OMG library account, not lover account. I obviously shouldn’t comment early in the morning!

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          Thanks for supplying the name Lloyd Alexander. I knew there was a Lloyd in there but didn’t want to spoil my childhood memories by going straight to Google. (Does anyone else share my occasional desire to protect my memories from the ever-present flood of facts from the Internet? It’s like the difference between real memories of attending an event and one’s memories of other people’s stories about the same event.)

    3. Lindsey*

      I love Ready Player One. It’s super accessible sci-fi and is read by Wil Wheaton. HIGHLY recommend for all age groups and super pleasant listening.

      1. Not So Bad Candidate*

        I was just going to suggest this. RPO is my favorite book! I got my husband to listen on a road trip, he’s not a big reader, and he liked it too. Can’t wait for the movie to come out! Ernest Cline’s follow up book (not a sequel), Armada, is also good, but not quite as good as RPO was.

      2. Connie-Lynne*

        I’d think a six-year old would be bored stiff with RPO. The plot is like 30% composed of 1980s pop culture references.

    4. JDusek*

      Harry Potter books 1-3. I waited for book 4 and on for my son until he was a little older because it gets scarier.
      I like the Percy Jackson book series. James Patterson does a kids series that’s called House of Robots. Chris Grabenstein’s Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library.

    5. MommyMD*

      Harry Potter (though it may be too scary for the six year old starting with book 3)

      Charlottes Web

      The Little House books

      Stuart Little

    6. Bigglesworth*

      One I haven’t seen mentioned yet are the book from the Redwall series. The books were written by Brian Jacques. The series’ characters are animals, but there is romance, humor (dry, slapstick, and goofy), grief/loss, and so much. Plus, Jacques wrote so many books for this series before he passed away that they could keep you going for awhile.

      He also wrote a ghost pirate series titled Castaways of the Flying Dutchman.

      1. Girasol*

        Love Brian Jacques Redwall stories for the car even by myself. The British cast is so energetic and enthusiastic that it keeps me awake better than anything else.

    7. Junior Dev*

      The famous “War of the Worlds” radio play, narrated by Orson Wells, is pretty great. You can find it for free online.

    8. Fellow Traveller*

      My 5 year old daughter loves Audiobooks. My husband no so much, but a couple that he has enjoyed are How to Train Your Dragon (the whole series narrated by David Tennant- hilarious and adventure packed.). Also Miss Rapscott’s Girls by Elise Primavera was a recent hit as well – funny and some of the humor is quite sophisticated.

    9. periwinkle*

      Terry Pratchett’s YA books! I loved the series on the young witch Tiffany Aching.

      But I still haven’t read the final book in that series, The Shepherd’s Crown, because that means acknowledging Terry’s gone…

    10. neverjaunty*

      There are so many great graphic novels for kids now. For the six-year-old, Amulet (starting with The Stonekeeper) is really amazing.

    11. FDCA In Canada*

      Harry Potter is great and will last the whole time. The Little House books are also great, and include music/vocals from some of the songs in the books, which is truly great and fun to listen to.

    12. Talvi*

      The audiobooks of Tamora Pierce’s “Circle of Magic” books! They’d be suitable for a 6 year old (the main characters are 10 years old, and so avoid the more adult material that shows up in the Tortall books), and they’re done with a full cast.

    13. Liane*

      John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice series is available on CD. Check to see if your library has them, as rather pricey on Amazon. Series is also available through Audible. My daughter introduced us to them when she was in middle school, and me & her dad enjoyed them too. There isn’t anything unsuitable for younger kids either.

      1. Girasol*

        My rideshare, a middle-aged family man, introduced me to this series and I love it. I started Audible’s book of the month program mainly to get it at discount. My husband (65+) always insists on Ranger’s Apprentice stories when he has to travel and doesn’t want to, even though they’re definitely young adult and full of upstanding people and moral lessons. A good story is a good story at any age.

        1. Cruciatus*

          Agreed. I loved this series and was sad when it ended! I never listened to it, but I imagine I would have liked it. You may also like Pendragon by DJ MacHale (again, didn’t read, but another good series). Though for the original poster, Pendragon may not be suitable for a 6 year old. Maybe 10.

    14. Mephyle*

      Mischievous Meg (alternate title Madiken) by Astrid Lindgren
      The Borrowers (and sequels) by Mary Norton
      The Hobbit (I don’t have to tell you who wrote that)
      Mistress Masham’s Repose by T. H. White
      Baby Island by Carol Ryrie Brink
      I recorded some of the above myself (homemade audiobooks) long ago when my kids were aged about 4 to 10, merely thinking short-term, that I could save myself some bedtime reading. We ended up listening to them over and over with no diminished enjoyment for several years – both at home and on car trips. The whole family enjoyed them.

      Some others I’m sure have a good chance of being enjoyed by all ages would be all the books by Edward Eager and by E. Nesbit. And all the Moomin books by Tove Jansson. I mean, my former kids, now adults in their twenties still share a love of Moomins.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I used to record my nightly bedtime stories with my kids, too. They loved it because it had their voices on there, too (like if they asked a question or laughed during the story or whatever). They called them the “Mommy-head Tapes”, because they said “mommy’s head” was talking to them from the tape.

      2. Connie-Lynne*

        Oh my goodness, I haven’t thought about Baby Island in probably 40 years! Thanks for the great memory!

      3. Liz in a Library*

        My dad recorded audiobooks on tape for me when I was a kid too, and that’s one of my fondest childhood memories still. :)

    15. Turtlewings*

      The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman is beautifully performed by the author. He has a fantastic voice. It’s a bit dark — I mean, the main character is a child who survived the murder of his family and was raised by ghosts in a graveyard — but I adored it.

      1. A Nonny Mouse*

        Other Gaiman books we enjoyed include Odd and the Frost Giants (Norse mythology) and his collection of a short stories for children. His voice!

    16. another person*

      My favorite books on tape from road trips as a kid were the Artemis Fowl books. The reader is really good and the stories are fun for a range of people (there’s a good age gap between me and my younger sisters, but even the youngest one liked them and so did my parents).

    17. Finny*

      The Seems books…I think there are two of them in audio format, though there are three in total. Starts with The Glitch in Sleep. Great books.

    18. annony*

      You might like The Mysterious Benedict Society. Not much humor for your husband but it’s one of my daughter’s favorite books, recommend by a friend who did the audio version with her two girls.

      1. Seconded*

        I came here to recommend the same – plus it is part of series so you would have plenty of material.

    19. CityMouse*

      I would also recommend radio dramas. When I was a kid my parents drove cross country a lot we had both Star Wars (I think Mark Hamill did them) and Lord of the Rings radio dramas. I just heard a pretty good version of Neverwhere for radio, the BBC still.produces them

      1. CityMouse*

        I will add that they pop up on audible.

        These are probably not 100% child friendly but I first heard Pompeii by Robert Harris as an audio book and the tension of the coming eruption worked especially well in that format.

      2. Aardvark*

        Seconding the Star Wars radio dramas — Mark Hamill is the only movie actor to participate (I think? It’s been a while), but they did pretty well casting the other parts. They elaborate a bit on the story too, so it’s not just a radio version of the movies.

    20. Anna*

      We found the Alvin Ho series by Lenore Look to be adorable for all ages, read by a kid
      All of the Judy Blume Fudge books, my kids are obsessed, at least some are read by Judy Blume herself
      Andrew Clements books
      Boxcar Children
      And we LOVE the overdrive app, the one caveat I would give is that for some popular books there can be a wait, so it pays to think a bit ahead.

    21. oranges & lemons*

      The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a beautiful story and the audiobook is read by Neil Gaiman himself, so it is great. The main character is 9 I believe so I expect it would be of interest to younger readers/listeners, although there are some scary parts that might be a bit much for a 6-year-old.

    22. Teach*

      We did a lot of audio books when my nuggets were smaller, and looked for ones that worked well for all three kids (4 year age span) and both grown ups (me: bookworm, husband:not as much).
      The hits:
      The Hobbit (over, and over, and over, and over…) but Gollum is pretty creepy. The plot is easy for a 6 year old to follow. LOTR is a whole different style/tone/mood/audience. Much harder.
      The Lightning Thief and following books (we are pretty sure my 6 year old motivated himself to read chapter books because he listened to the first one in the car and then we couldn’t get the following ones on CD!)
      HANK THE COWDOG! There are a million of these – easier chapter books, but read with hilarious voices on audio. Bumbling cowdog, unreliable narrator, rotating stream of villianous barn cats, bulls, and other silliness. Seriously, my kids are going to college and there are Hank phrases we still use all the time (“Oh, my leg!”)
      The Spiderwick Chronicles is a Holly Black collaboration maybe 8 or 9 years ago? There was a movie, too, but the books were good. They are surprisingly scary for middle grade books, so assess the sturdiness of your 6 year old. Goblins who live in the woods and eat beloved pets, and quite a bit of peril. Because it’s set in a contemporary setting, it seems way scarier than The Hobbit.
      We loved all the Beverly Cleary books – light, entertaining, timeless.
      Farmer Boy, as far as I’m concerned, is the best of the Little House series. Great descriptions of food, so bring snacks.
      Harry Potter. :)
      Neil Gaiman has a new Norse mythology series, but I don’t know if it’s kid-friendly.

      1. Mephyle*

        I’m not acquainted with Hank the Cowdog (but hope to be soon) but I can identify with the experience that catchphrases, bits of dialogue or characters from books we all read together long ago persist into the offsprings’ adulthood. It’s so much fun when someone recites an apt quotation or says “that’s just like [name]” and we all know which character in which book they’re referring to.

    23. AMPG*

      I have no idea about audiobook quality, but I highly recommend “A Series of Unfortunate Events” by Lemony Snicket (13 shortish books in total). They have a lovely Roald Dahl-like quality that makes them work for both adults and kids. And Google tells me you can get a multi-voice audio version or a version read by Tim Curry, which is probably amazing.

    24. CM*

      Nate the Great — the person who reads the stories is engaging and does funny voices for the characters, and they are bite-sized mystery stories that are perfect for little kids and entertaining for adults.

  10. NaoNao*

    First, and most importantly, book recommendation:
    The Expatriates by Janice K. Lee. It is SO GOOD. Tore through it in 2 days. Will have a lot more resonance to women who have been expatriates or trailing spouses of same, in Asia. (Which I was, in the Philippines, for three years).

    Other topic: anyone doing JulyNoWriMo? Or “Camp Nano” this year? I got a late start due to the holiday but I went from 0-60 real fast when I found my plot (a modern re-write with a few twists, of “A Place in the Sun”).

    Best of luck if you are!

    1. KatieKate*

      I’m trying to do it! I’m a full week behind though and my word count is going no where D:

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Intended to, but intentions are at present more forceful than actual execution. Though I’m in the thinking-about-it-constantly stage, so I’m getting there.

    3. the.kat*

      I’m doing it! My goal is just 15,000 words, which actually seems doable to me.

  11. KatieKate*

    Sedona and Vegas recommendations? My mom and I are going in October for a week(few days in each). Seeing Celine Dion but otherwise our schedule is up in the air. Looking for spa recs, places to stay in Sedona (air bnbs are so expensive there!!) and some fun hippy stuff for Sedona. Thanks!

    1. Delta Delta*

      Went to Vegas last fall and went on a horseback riding tour in the desert. It was really gorgeous and a nice break from the Vegas-ness that is the strip. Not a Sedona rec, I know, but thought I’d mention it because it was a lot of fun and a little different.

      1. KatieKate*

        That sounds awesome! Curious if I can get my other on a horse… do you know what your you used?

        1. Delta Delta*

          I think it was Viator or something along those lines. The horses we rode were all very well trained. I rode a mustang mare who was very cautious and sure-footed. There were several first time riders with us and they all loved it. It’s early in the morning and goes til about noon or so before it gets too hot.

    2. Athena X*

      If you are into hiking at all, go to this place in Sedona and they will recommend trails for you based on your activity level and experience. They do it for free and are awesome: http://thehikehouse.com/ They will also tell you how to have a great experience at the Grand Canyon if you are also going there.

    3. No, please*

      Check out Jerome when you’re in Sedona. Fun artist community in the hills and a former ghost town.

      1. kj*

        Jerome is lovely. I like it better than Sedona, which is a bit busy. Montezuma’s Well is close by as well and it a really cool national monument- it is a limestone sinkhole with ancient native dwellings next to it. You can walk right next to them. It is very unique and interesting (I’d skip Montezuma’s Castle, which is better known, but harder to see and way-crowded.)

        There is a nice hike to a natural bridge in Sedona. Fun, but some climbing is involved in getting there.

        Prescott AZ is close to Sedona as well- it has a lot of summer events at the town square, like dances, movies and shows. The Granite Dells near Prescott are great for hiking, climbing and bird-watching. The Prescott Brewery has amazing food and drink.

        In Sedona, the local brewery is nice, but way crowded, so go early. Try to stay someplace with a pool or creek access, swimming by the rocks is lovely.

        1. kj*

          If you are looking for cheaper places to stay, consider staying in Prescott- Sedona is day trip away and Prescott is less crowded and just as fun. It is a little more family- orientated and has less fancy spas, but the food is better (IMO) and there is a great arts scene.

    4. Episkey*

      If you really want a hippie, “spiritual” place, I would totally recommend Sedona Sacred Rocks as a place to stay. We originally found them on AirB&B, but they also have a separate website. They owners are a couple who are a little out there, but very nice. The woman is some kind of “expert” on reiki and healing with horses. They have 5-6 horses on their property, a very nice cat, and 2 friendly dogs. You can participate in extra activities — my husband & I did a horse divination session and while we don’t really believe in most of this stuff, it was just an interesting experience and you get to have a horse around you for awhile. The property is actually very beautiful and the couple will lead meditation sessions & yoga sessions (depending on days you are there) that are free to attend. We did a meditation session. My husband & I both suck at meditation but whatever, we were down for the experience.


  12. Delta Delta*

    File to the “of course this happpened” department:

    Went to Store A. The sky was looking dark and threatening but I figured I could run in and out before it rained. Just as I walked out the sky completely opened up and dumped huge, heavy, fat raindrops. By the time I got to my car I was drenched.

    Went to Store B, a little bit north of Store A. I checked the weather radar on my phone and didn’t see any more bad weather. As I walked to my car – yep. Pop up thunderstorm with the kind of rain that falls so hard it feels like it’s coming out of a cannon.

    More funny than anything else.

    1. Turtlewings*

      In 7th grade I once had to walk several blocks home from the bus stop in that kind of “I swear this is weaponized” rain. I could see it coming over the pavement toward me and there was just nothing to be done. Incredibly unpleasant experience. I’m glad you at least had a car to get into!

      1. Amadeo*

        I’ve had to walk across a college campus in sleet like that. You hear the evil hiss coming and pretty soon jagged little ice pellets are hitting your face, getting in your hair and ears and down your coat collar if you were dumb and forgot a scarf.

  13. The Cosmic Avenger*

    So I spent a good portion of the morning scrubbing the rust-encrusted toilet, and jury-rigging a funnel and the tubing from a siphon I bought together, so I could shove the tubing in the outlets under the rim, hold the funnel up, and pour the rust dissolver solution in, forcing it through the inside of the rim, which is probably filled with rust. That was after trying to pour the solution down the flapper and down the little fill tube in the hopes that that would come out the rim, but neither did. I’m not sure where the rim gets its water from, my guess is there’s a small diversion after the water goes down the flapper, but the flow would have to be heavy enough to fill that channel, which is about 4″ in diameter.

    Thanks to Not So New Reader for the advice on solvents, I just can’t get anything thick inside the rim, but I have some in addition to the liquid solvent in case the bowl is still encrusted after this treatment.

    We also had to have a gas pipe run up to the kitchen. There was just a flex hose running out of the floor before, and code requires that there be a shutoff within 6 feet of any appliance. Well, technically, if you measured through the floor, there was probably a shutoff within 6 linear feet….but it was sealed up in the ceiling anyway! I swear, the previous owners did some sketchy stuff. I’m frugal AF, but I would rather pay more for a better quality solution or product. So now our new stove is arriving tomorrow, and I’m going to hook it up…I hope! The plumber showed me, it should be just a matter of using two wrenches, one to hold the coupler and one to tighten the hose, and then using soapy water to make sure there are no leaks.

    1. the gold digger*

      As you know, Primo installed our new gas stove this week. We are not dead from gas yet. Testing again now with chocolate chocolate chip zucchini bread and David Lebovitz’s dark chocolate salty brownies.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      And I just spent way too much time trying to install a lighting fixture, but I can’t get it tight to the @(#)*&!@#)&! ceiling. I know how to wire and hang a fixture, I’m not sure what’s wrong. D:<

      Not feeling encouraged about the gas hookup now.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Close — I think the mounting strap is crooked, and there’s no junction box. The previous owners cheaped out on everything, we know that. I think I need to take it down and switch the bolts that are in the mounting strap, but my shoulder is still killing me from holding the fixture up while trying to get the bolts through the holes. It’s going to have to wait.

          But the light works, it’s just hanging an inch from the ceiling on one side, and you can see the hole and the wiring. This irks me much more than it should.

  14. Dang*

    Social rejection. How to deal? When to speak up?

    I’m in my early 30s and a complete and total introvert. However, I’ve been feeling lacking in the social department lately. Joined a club and started hanging out with one woman. Now she won’t even answer my messages if I invite her to something that sounds up her alley, or if she does it’s two days later. For reference, in the last 6 months I’ve probably invited her to something 3 times, so it’s not excessive. But she bas either not responded or declined each time. When I see her at the book club, she’s fine. But for almost a year we saw each other outside of the club and (I thought) had a good time.

    It feels aggressive to ask “what is going on?” after only knowing her for a short time, but it also feels awkward to go to this club we’re in together now to the point that I don’t even want to go anymore.

    I have really gone through the mental rolodex to try and figure out whether I said/did something , but I honestly can’t think of a single thing.

    It’s making me lose my confidence in meeting other people, honestly. Sigh.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      I mean this really kindly: why are you assuming the reason has anything at all to do with you? It’s an easy trap to fall into. But here are some of the reasons I’ve backed off socially, not responded to invitations or otherwise retreated a bit at times:

      – Someone in my life died and I didn’t feel like socialising.
      – I was experiencing vicarious trauma due to doing some work relating to the Manchester bombing and felt so stressed that I cried every time anyone sent me a text message.
      – I was tired.
      – I wasn’t looking at my phone because I was busy.
      – I had flu.
      – I hadn’t decided yet if I wanted to go, and was waiting to reply until I had.
      – I hadn’t got round to answering yet (two days isn’t very long).

      It’s great that you’ve tried hanging out with someone but important that you don’t make that one person the arbiter of whether you connect with other people – that can’t be someone else’s job. It may be that she isn’t feeling it – that happens and it doesn’t mean anything bad about anyone involved.

      Don’t ask what’s going on. If you want to ask anything just ask how she is.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Ramona said a lot of what I was going to say, basically don’t try to read too much into it. There’s no reason to assume that you’re the problem here, and even if she thought you were, many times that says more about her than you. Heck, I have lots of people I’d love to hang out with, but I often turn them down because I find that my tolerance for socializing is lower than it used to be, especially with new people. (With friends I’ve known for decades it’s almost effortless; no matter how well you click you’re not going to find that with someone you’ve only known for a year or two or three.)

        Think of this attempt at being more social and making friends like learning archery. It would be pretty amazing if you hit the bullseye your first try! Just think of your socializing as practice runs, and if one turns out great, then wonderful! If not, maybe your aim was off, maybe it was the wind, who knows? OK, the analogy is starting to break down, but I hope it helps. Mostly I wanted to say that you shouldn’t expect everyone to like you, because would you really want to try to be best friends with *everyone*? Sounds exhausting to me! But if you meet enough people you’ll find someone you really click with eventually, it just might take some time. And like archery, sometimes the harder you try or the more you think about it, the harder it gets.

      2. Ramona Flowers*

        Also, you’ve only asked three times. It’s really not worth deciding whether or not to socialise with the entire remainder of the human race based purely on that.

    2. NaoNao*

      Hmm! Well, one thing might be that, like many, she kind of…categorizes her friends. So “book club” friends don’t really bleed over into everyday activity friends.
      I had a very similar thing happen–with a book club friend, too! We clicked (I thought) and we hung out a few times but she was always “busy” and it finally drifted away. She hinted at some serious drama and trauma in her family and I chalked it up to her being legitimately busy with school, friends, and family, and just not having the emotional bandwidth to be there at that time.
      I was bummed out, but I moved on mentally and focused on the friends that needed me.

      Oh, and as a P.S. When I was in my 20’s I had shoals and shoals of friends–big, rowdy, fun groups that all knew each other through me. I missed that a LOT in my 30’s and recently tried to “mate” my friends—and immediately was reminded of the down side of having lots of friends: constant upkeep, drama, friend group dynamics going wonky, and was like “oh…yeah. Now I recall why I let that kind of fade in my early 30’s”. So….sometimes it works out for the best :)

      1. Sophie*

        +1 This is what I keep trying to remind myself when I miss my group of friends…. too much drama! I don’t miss that! My one friend would always say, “I don’t want to go if X is there!” and I was always stuck in the middle. It’s funny now though because the two that hated each other are now apparently friends, but that’s life. Sometimes it’s an age thing or group dynamic.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          After reading your comment below, I want to say that you talk about your “friend” as if they were trying to turn you into a servant who fixed their schedule and kept them from people that they didn’t like. This could have been an overreaction to please them when they made an offhanded statement, or they could have been manipulating and using you. Either way, you’re not responsible for your friend’s happiness, you’re only responsible for how you treat them. I might have said “Well, I have no idea if X is going to be there, but I will. If you decide to come and X is also there, please try just ignore them/don’t start any drama [or I’m going to leave].” I put the last part in brackets because if they’re a casual friend you could just ignore it, but I went through this boundary-drawing mostly with family, and so I preferred to remove myself when they acted up because it’s much harder to ignore a family member than a friend.

    3. Stella's Mom*

      I also mean this kindly, as noted above…. ask her how she is, and go to the club, but don’t over think it. If nothing else, other club members may be interesting to hang out with. Maybe she’s got a new job or school or family stuff to manage. Who knows? I’d also say finding another fun club to join might be worth a shot.

    4. Don't turn this name into a hyperlink*

      I will need to know how to human when I age out of my 20s. (If you feel comfortable telling us), what sort of club is this of which thou speaketh, and how didst thou ascertain its location?

      1. NaoNao*

        It’s a book club, where you read a book over the course of a month, and then meet up in person to discuss it.
        One generally finds these on meetup, nextdoor, or through friends. :)

        1. Don't turn this name into a hyperlink*

          OK. Thanks! I’m sorry; I overlooked the part in the OP where you mentioned that it was a book club. My bad.

    5. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      This is way easier said than done, but at the end of the day — don’t worry about it.

      You don’t even know if anything you did caused this, let alone what it might have been. Sometimes people are friends for a little while, then drift apart. It happens, and it’s not a referendum on you as a person. Don’t look at it as failing to continue, look at it as a good friendship that lasted a while, is now on the wane, but was a good experience in interaction. Not everything is meant to last forever.

    6. MommyMD*

      It’s disappointing but accept it and move on. People are allowed to not answer. That is your answer. Confronting her about it will make it 1000x weirder. It’s fun to find a potential new friend but it doesn’t always work out. I’ve had to ignore people who started texting me too much, at night, etc. Good luck.

    7. Sophie*

      I’m also introverted and it’s tough for me to meet new people. Try to branch off and meet other people- don’t put all of your eggs in one basket for this one woman. Talk to others in your book club and maybe take another class. I met a lot of people when I would take courses at a local community college or when I did volunteer work. Rejection is tough, but you have to keep putting yourself out there.
      Who knows? Maybe when you focus on other things, she’ll come back into your life. If not, then you’ll find someone else.

    8. neverjaunty*

      Please take into account that lots of other people are introverts, socially awkward, anxious, etc. and their reactions are not necessarily centered on things you have done.

    9. Temperance*

      I’m wondering if you might be coming on too strong? How many times did you hang out one-on-one?

      It also might not be you! She might be busy at work, be going through an illness, or any other weird personal problem. I might be in your friend’s shoes, TBH. I have been super busy at work, want to see my husband and other friends, and don’t have much time for socializing. I also had a few personal issues in the past year, from my own serious illness to a friend developing cancer (he’s fine!!!) and a close friend’s dad unfortunately passing away from pancreatic cancer.

      Keep going to the club! One person’s maybe rejection has nothing to do with you.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      Keep going someone will respond at some point.
      There seems to be an unspoken rule, a person asks 2-3 times to do something together with another person and they get no each time, the asker just moves on.

      It’s pretty normal and absolutely NO reflection on you at all. Please don’t spend much more time thinking about it. Go to your book club and visit with people there. Decide to let go of the awkwardness, you have done nothing wrong but merely tried to befriend a person. You are okay here.

      For the long run, I’d suggest changing your goal. Perhaps aim for social acquaintances first. Get to know people around you. It can be rewarding to know people’s names and receive a warm greeting in exchange for our own warm greeting. If you keep it simple like this, you will definitely have less disappointments and you may get a few surprises, such as a person or two might express interest in doing something with you.

    11. Courageous Cat*

      Ok so I am pretty sure I do this to people, although I suppose it’s a little different if you were hanging out frequently at first. I am really bad at even trying to make plans with new people, because at this point in my life I barely have time to see my -closest- friends, much less prioritize the ones I don’t know super well. I also need a good bit of alone time so given the choice between the stress of hanging out with new friends vs hanging out alone… it’s usually the latter.

    12. Liz*

      It sounds like you have known her for at least 18 months? So that is not a short time though you described it as a short time? Unless you live in the UK, when I lived there years ago, people there said 18 months was too soon to invite people to their homes for a meal, etc.

      As the others said, make another friend so you don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

      But if you really want to find out more, you can ask if she wants you to keep sending these invites or if she is too busy. Then you know if you should keep doing it and you give her an opening to say she is too busy (or she might say what is going on).

      When my son was going through some emotional issues I had no time for going out but I asked one friend to keep asking me even though I would almost always say no. It made me feel connected to the outside world at a difficult time.

    13. Stellaaaaa*

      Something happens in your 30s where you stop wanting to make new friends, even if a new person is totally nice and cool. It can also be hard for people who are extroverts or in the middle of that range (where I’d say I fall). I have an easy time initiating conversations with people and I also work hard to be a good listener, so introverted people sometimes latch onto me as their ticket to a social life. While I have no problem befriending anyone who isn’t a jerk, I opt out of certain scenarios when it’s clear that someone wants my help learning how to navigate adult friendships. The things you’ve invited her to…are they things you’d do on your own, or are you only comfortable going if she comes along? Were you subconsciously wanting her to function as a safety net for finally being able to do things that you’ve always wanted to do but never have? I can only speak for myself, but my social time is MY time. I’m not up for allowing other people to use it for their own learning experiences. I’m not a stepping stone for other people’s triumphs over lifelong shyness. People who have wanted that from me don’t often have a sense of what they would offer me in terms of a mutual friendship. They’d suggest events but really want me to do all of the emotional and social work with other people while we were there. Friendship isn’t about keeping score or being perfectly fair, but it needs to be rewarding for both side. Walking introverted people through the extroverted world is not rewarding for me. It’s better for everyone involved if that is conveyed early on.

      This is a long way of saying that I don’t judge or hate people who ping the “introvert trying to make friends with me” bell. I’d totally hang out and watch Game of Thrones with them. But would I go to things that they picked that placed me in the position of being their social funnel to the outside world? Especially if I sense that they might not go to something I picked if it wasn’t something that interested them? Probably not.

  15. Al Lo*

    Small acts of kindness that make your day. Go!

    Here’s mine:

    A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I were on our way out the door at 8AM for an out-of-town gig and ordered our Starbucks drinks on the app on our way down to the garage. However, I accidentally ordered to my regular store and forgot to change it to one that was more on the way. No problem! It’ll only take us a few minutes out of the way to pick up drinks and be on our merry way.

    Well, we pulled out of the garage and realized that every convenient road to that store was blocked off for the marathon. We could get on the road to the gig with just a minor detour, but we couldn’t get over to the Starbucks without some serious rerouting. So, while I drove, my husband called the store, where they know me pretty well and definitely recognize my name when it pops up on a mobile order. Explained the situation, and they were able to transfer the order over to the next store we’d pass.

    By the time we pulled into the parking lot, our orders had been called in and were next up, and we were on our way without forfeiting the drinks we’d ordered or being made late.

    The next day, I walked in to my regular store and was greeted with “So, how was your road trip?” *beat* “That was one of the strangest phone calls I’ve made. ‘Yeah, so we have a regular coming over to your store… Do we need anything else? Nope, just that. Thanks!'”

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      That’s really nice! And I am loving this question. A recent one of mine: last Monday I was off sick and my husband went out locally for a friend’s birthday (he was in a pub three streets aaay).

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Oops hit send too early. Was going to say he was a few streets away. He came home in the middle of his evening out just to put clean sheets on for me and bring me some apple pastries.

        1. Al Lo*

          That’s sweet! My husband is also excellent when I’m sick. Quite possibly better than I am when he’s sick.

    2. Djuna*

      Brought my cat to the vet this morning for a check up after surgery. The vet chatted for ages about helping him get used to his new diet, and gave me some tips to help him gain back some of the weight he’s lost.
      Then flat-out refused to charge me a penny for the visit.
      Pure kindness.

    3. Canadian Natasha*

      I don’t own a car so I called a cab to take me home from the grocery store one day when I had a lot of bags to carry. The older-middle-aged cab driver and I got into a conversation about “kids these days” (which seems to happen to me regularly, weirdly enough even though I am the same generation as the “kids” aka millenials.) The conversation morphed into a chat about integrity and how the cab driver had made sure his son grew up to be a good ethical person… who now works in an authority-type position at [workplace]. Coincidentally it was MY workplace and his son was a really nice guy I’m in a work group with (but not friends outside of work or anything). When we got to my place the cab driver refused to let me pay anything because I was “just like his own daughter” since I work with his son.

      1. Al Lo*

        That’s awesome — and he probably felt like you were doing him a kindness by corroborating his opinion/perception of his own son from a stranger’s perspective.

    4. Noah*

      Small thing, but shopping at Aldi today someone gave me a cart to use so I didn’t have to use my quarter. It was fun to pass it along.

  16. Ramona Flowers*

    I started reading The Humans after last week’s recommendation and I am loving it! The only reason I haven’t devoured the whole thing is I’ve been specifically saving it for my morning tube journey as it puts me in such a good mood.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Yep – it was the book recommendation on the open thread last week. I’ve been laughing out loud at it.

    1. As if*

      I’m enjoying it too! AAM likes dark family dramas more than me, but when she recommends lighter fare, I perk up.

  17. Sibley*

    Pink eye is soooo much fun! /s It was interesting trying to open my eye this morning. Putting the eye drops in every 2 hours as instructed, so hopefully I’ll be on the upswing soon.

    In other news, please, please, please wipe down the tops of your kitchen doorways periodically. I’m prepping to paint and am using a razor blade to scrape the hardened grease off. Think I’ll probably get as far as one coat of paint then just give up and watch movies with the cats.

    1. Turtlewings*

      Pinkeye was always my favorite disease to get as a child. I definitely got to stay home from school, but usually I didn’t actually feel bad, not enough to notice. Vacay!!!

      There was the one time I got it so badly I couldn’t open my eyes for hours, and when I did pry them open they dumped tears down my face in an alarming flood, but… usually it was okay. Sounds like you might have something more like that, though. Ick. Good luck.

      1. Sibley*

        My case is fairly minor, just the overnight accumulation of crusties made things tough this morning. It seems to be improving pretty quickly, so just hoping the other eye escapes infection.

    2. Amadeo*

      My father contracted this horrible strain of pink eye three or four years ago. We have no idea where he got it from and he’s also a horrible sick person, completely unconscientious of my mother and I being in the house too. He was bad about touching his eye and then touching things like drawer pulls and doorknobs. I was doing really well for a couple of days, then opened the bathroom door one evening and absently rubbed my eye. And then immediately went “Crap!”.

      Sure enough I woke up the next morning with the same glue-shut eye both my parents had. By the time I got to the walk in clinic I could *not* keep it clean! I signed in then had to go to the bathroom and clean it off, it was running the worst liquid purulent discharge. By the time I got back to the exam room it was like I’d never even cleaned it and the doctor goes “Sweetie!! Can you see !?” Honestly, I could. I could see just fine, and it didn’t hurt or itch or anything, it was just discharging at an Olympic level. It won me sympathy points at the Target pharmacy when the eye drops rang up $125. I sighed and pulled out my credit card and said “I can do it, use this.” and the tech behind the counter goes “Hang on!” Apparently they had this program at that point in time to help cover drug costs when insurance wouldn’t. I got those drops for $25 instead.

    3. Jules the First*

      Oh man, you have my sympathies! I got a gnarly case of pink eye in March that turned into an eye infection so serious I was blind in one eye for a week. Pretty sure the three weeks off work/remote working didn’t help with my at-the-time-new thing we don’t talk about on weekends.

      Keep it clean, and if the drops don’t help within 48 hours, get thyself to a doctor!
      (Upside? I am now awesome at eye drops…..)

    4. Merci Dee*

      My ex and I lived long-distance for a while before we married. He’d come out for a visit, and gave me pink eye … in both eyes. Naturally, it showed up the day after he went home, so he wasn’t around for a good butt-kicking. The drops worked like a charm.

    5. Dead Quote Olympics*

      You have my utmost sympathy. I hate pinkeye with such passion, I’m so glad my son is past the daycare/elementary school pinkeye epidemics.

      One of my best ever discoveries was telemedicine while I was on vacation in California and got pinkeye. I uploaded a picture of my eye, had a brief phone conversation with the doctor, and they called in a prescription to the nearest pharmacy. Saved me hours of scrambling around trying to find a provider, since we were pretty far away from anything that would work. It was a service called plushcare, and they are in a couple of states and cover those non-life threatening situations of which pinkeye is a perfect example.

    6. Sibley*

      The drops seem to be working quite well. Its not 100% yet, but most of the red is gone and the discharge has decreased SIGNIFICANTLY. I really hate wearing my glasses, but am stuck with them for at least a week before I can put contacts in again. And so far, the other eye seems unaffected.

    7. Allergist*

      Most pink eye is a virus and doesn’t need the drops. It will normally clear up in a day or two.

  18. Manic*

    I was thinking about trying to use some manic panic dye in my hair – maybe just do the tips or something. But my hair is a medium brownish (dyed) and I don’t want to use bleach. Thoughts?

    1. Hrovitnir*

      Without bleaching you’re only really going to get a tint (unless it’s black, haha). It can look really nice though, and those dyes are good for your hair rather than damaging so a nice shiny highlight that’s red/purple in the sun is worth considering. :)

    2. NaoNao*

      Yeah, I agree. I do unnatural colors, and I bleach out the crown of my hair and basically the top 2/3 while leaving the underlayer more natural, and since I’m mostly gray/white/no color mousey pencil lead some un-bleached hair will pick up the color but…not much.

      If you don’t want to damage the hair *too* much consider doing a highlighter cap with a wand–you can pull very thin strands of hair through the cap while leaving the rest natural, bleach, rinse, (in my case if it’s a cool color, I then tone with Wella T18 to get pure white hair, otherwise, if I’m a warm color, leave it yellow) and then when hair is dry, color whole head with manic panic. You’ll get very subtle bright color on your natural hair and pops of vibrant highlights on the bleached parts.

      Davina makes low-damage bleach and I recommend Oloplex for after-care.

    3. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      That’s about my hair color, and when I manic panicked it, what I wound up with was hair that, in dim light, looked very deep brown, but in brighter or natural light was a fantastic glowing fuschia.

      So — thoughts, it depends on what you’re envisioning. A bright clear color that shows under all lights? Probably not going to happen. An overlaying color that comes through brighter or darker depending on the light? Could totally happen.

    4. Temperance*

      I used to use the drugstore stuff that had color and bleach in one. It worked really, really well and wasn’t super damaging, at least no more than the regular dyeing that I do. Manic Panic on brown hair without bleach might tint, but it might come out gross and muddy-looking if it’s a blue or green tone. That was the experience that I had, at least.

    5. AcademiaNut*

      If you’re going to do it without bleaching, I’d recommend something with a purplish or reddish tone, and that you dye your whole head. Most of the time it will be fairly faint, but you’ll get some flashes of colour when in bright light. Just tips on brown hair without bleaching will likely simply not show up.

  19. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    I’m reading “Stop Walking on Eggshells” about narcissists/borderline personality and it resonates so much I feel like the author watched me grow up these past decades. As in, it’s not me, it’s her. This book speaks to me so much.

    Taking it easy, probiotics, prunes, soft food….#dentalstuff and getting sunshine

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Good for you. This is difficult stuff. It sounds like you are on a good path. Congrats.

    2. Temperance*

      If you do Reddit, /r/RaisedByNarcissists and /r/RaisedByBorderlines might be a good resource for you.

    3. Peanut*

      If your parent happens to be the one with a personality disorder, i strongly recommend “Surviving a Borderline Parent” by Kimberlee Roth. Very matter-of-fact and useful book. (And relatively short!)

  20. The RO-Cat*

    One one hand, my mindfulness NGO is coming along its founding process slowly, but steadily (so much red tape!). I even found a fellow trainer specializing in Emotional Intelligence and mindfulness is a valuable addition for her, so we’ll hav to talk very soon.

    On the other, lately I started to see some of the mechanisms and reactions my brain uses to drive me bonkers. Bad news, there’s a lot of those. Good news, it makes me laugh at myself. Wonder what will come next…

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      This sounds intriguing! I’ve recently been having MBSR (mindfulness based stress reduction) coaching through the EAP and it’s been wonderful.

      1. The RO-Cat*

        Yes, MBSR is quite a powerful tool for managing oneself (seeing why and how you react and ultimately turning reactions into responses). Mindfulness does that. It’s like opening the curtains and seeing the backstage live – with all its good and bad, beautiful and ugly bits. Fascinating, I tell ya!

  21. MechanicalPencil*

    Knitters/crocheters of AAM, please help me! I have this gorgeous crocheted throw (maaaybe big enough to cover a twin) that was a gift someone gave me…a decade ago. I literally never used it and had it folded away and in a zippered bag. But I recently decided to fondly remember the giver and begin using it. However, I’d like to wash this thing because, even though it’s never been used really, it smells a bit musty.

    I figured the delicate cycle would probably be safe. My washer does not have an agitator. But do I air dry this thing (like not in the dryer, but physically lay it out)? This is not my area of expertise, so please guide me so I don’t shrink this thing into something a Barbie could use. It’s made of the standard acrylic feeling yarn, and I’m not concerned about the colors bleeding if that helps at all (already all mottled shades of green).

    1. Kms1025*

      My daughter crocheted a beautiful blanket for me too…approx twin size bed. She says delicate wash and gentle dry cycles are fine. But I am afraid to do it…LOL!!!
      It’s what I’ll try when it does need washing. Did you consider spritzing it with something like Febreze or Odoban and then hanging it to air out really well???

      1. Hedgehog*

        I’m not an expert crochet-er but I have made a few blankets (acrylic yarn) and all have made it through the wash fine on the rare occasions I have tried. I would probably air dry to be on the safe side.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      It sounds like it’s not going to shrink. It’s made from recent materials so shrinkage would be less of a problem than it used to be.

      If you are still worried you can go with cold water.
      Put your machine on delicate or handwash cycle (whichever you have, pick the one that sounds the gentlest.)

      If it smells musty then you may have to wash it a couple times, yes, back to back. Maybe add some baking soda to the wash water to help with getting rid of the smell.

      If you decide that you really cannot bring yourself to do this, you can take it to a dry cleaner. Granted, a little spendy but peace of mind.

      FWIW, I have crocheted and knitted lap throws here that are older than yours. I toss them in my machine and they are fine. I can’t kill them.

    3. Gingerblue*

      Acrylic is likely to be fine in the washer on a delicate cycle, but your instinct to avoid the dryer is good. (Some acrylics would be fine, some wouldn’t be; with a piece like this I’d err on the side of caution.) To dry, I would lay it flat, or if you hang it up, hang it in such a way that it’s supported in multiple places and won’t stretch out of shape under its own weight. Is it mostly solid fabric, or is it more of a lacy openwork kind of crochet? If there’s a distinct pattern that you want to be visible, you want to lay it flat and pat it into the shape it should have when dry, and maybe even pin it out so it holds its shape. The process is called blocking, and if you google “block acrylic crochet” you’ll get way better photo instructions than what I can describe. Otherwise, just lay it out and pat it so the edges are straight.

      Color bleed is probably not an issue if it’s 100% acrylic, but might be if it’s acrylic blended with wool or cotton. (A 75% acrylic / 25% wool blend or similar would be easy to misidentify.) If you’re not certain it’s completely acrylic, you might want to put an old sheet or towels under it when you lay it out to avoid color bleed onto the underlying surface. (Unlikely, but if you’re putting it onto, say, a wall to wall carpet, better to be safe!)

      If you want to speed up the drying process, lay a bunch of towels down, lay the throw on them, layer more towels on top and walk around over them to squish water out of it. Then move it to a dry surface while it finishes air drying.

    4. HannahS*

      If it’s acrylic, you can wash it in a machine. Delicate cycle should be totally fine. Acrylic is basically plastic, so avoid intense heat and it should be fine! You could probably dry it on cool or medium, or whatever that setting is where the dryer throws the thing around in room-temp air. However, if it’s a lacy throw, or one where the pattern has a lot of “holes” it’s safer to lay it out flat to dry on some towels. Acrylic basically rejects water, so it won’t take forever to dry. Lay some towels out on a flat surface, place the blanket on top, tugging the pattern back into shape if it’s distorted. Once the top surface is dry, remove the towels (because they’ll be damp), flip the throw over, and let the underside dry.

    5. CrochetAnon*

      If it’s Red Heart (or similar acrylic), wash it and toss in the dryer. Maybe use a dryer sheet or fabric softener. Unless it was made of some super-bargain-basement acrylic, (in which case, too high of heat in the dryer can make the yarn scratchy and pill), it’ll be damn near indestructible.

    6. Rogue*

      When I make crocheted blankets, I always washed them prior to giving them away. Delicate/cold wash cycle and low/no heat tumble dry should be fine, just take it out promptly. Hanging may distort the shape.

  22. AnonyMouse*

    I seem to find myself in situations where friends invite other people along for events/meals, and I find it uncomfortable, but don’t know what to say. I’m a friendly but introverted person, so the social energy expenditure to hang out one-on-one with a very good friend is quite different than with a stranger.

    Yesterday, I thought I was going to have a meal with a close friend (just us), and she texted on saying, “I’m on my way, I’m bringing my friend Jane if you don’t mind!” I felt a little irked because I couldn’t really say “but I do mind, because I don’t know Jane” especially when she was already on her way over.

    This is not the first time I’ve felt subjected to a “bait and switch” by a friend. Is this a “depths of pettiness, get over it” situation or is it reasonable to say something? If so, what can I say (in the moment or afterwards)?

    1. MommyMD*

      It’s very ok to respond with: “I’m very up to seeing you but not really up to anything else. Let’s reschedule for another time.”

      This is not rude. Rude is springing another person, esp a stranger, on you at the last minute.

      If they give you advance notice you can respond with “I’d rather keep it the two of us as I am so looking forward to spending time with you”.

      You are entitled to control your own time. It should not be filled with dread.

      Your friend was rude.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Great points.
        OP, yes, your friend was rude. We aren’t supposed to just add on more people to an invite without checking in first.

        You could say something at the time of invite, “I am not up to having a bunch of people, so let’s just plan that this is you and me hanging out together.”
        I have gone with, “I get more out of smaller groups or even one-on-ones than I get out of hanging out with a group of people. It’s just the way I am, I like to be able to talk with people individually.”

      2. Candy*

        I disagree. I don’t think it’s rude at all. Unexpected, sure; unwelcome, I guess yes for this particular OP; but it’s not inherently ill-mannered to bring along others when casually meeting up with friends. It’s not like crashing a private dinner party at someone’s home or not rsvp’ing to a wedding dinner. Many people enjoy the company of others (the more the merrier and all that) so the OP’s friend probably thought it be fun to have her two friends finally meet each other over dinner.

        1. MommyMD*

          It is ill mannered to be en route to a meeting with one friend and bring an unannounced tag along. Very. And to spring it on her whilst pulling into the driveway so to speak.

        2. Lady Kelvin*

          I think it’s incredibly rude and I cancel if a friend says oh I’m bringing so and so with me. If I’ve made plans with you and haven’t directly said hey let’s get a group together and do this, then you bringing someone alone means 1. I don’t get the 1-on-1 time I planned and 2. I probably will have to put up with someone I either don’t like or I don’t really feel like seeing. I don’t know if I’ve ever had a friend bring someone who I was thrilled to add. I think that’s the biggest trouble when extoverts and introverts are friends, extroverts think the more the

          1. Lady Kelvin*

            Merrier and introverts think you’ve just ruined the outing. Plus to me it tells me that you don’t think my company is good enough so you had to bring someone else you like better.

            Not sure what happened to the rest of my comment there…

            1. Temperance*

              That’s how I feel about it, too. Especially if I want to catch up with YOU, not you and some stranger.

        3. The Other Dawn*

          I feel it’s rude and ill-mannered to do this to someone. It’s happened to me, too. Most times it’s been someone on their way to my house and they say, “Oh, Mary is with me. You don’t mind, do you?” Well, yes I do mind, because we haven’t seen each other in a long time and our schedules are such that it’s hard to even get together in the first place; I’m an introvert and socializing is a big deal to me; and (a few times) I had something important I wanted to talk about. Lots of times it’s been a friend wanting to bring the boyfriend or husband along, and that’s actually more annoying to me because then I definitely feel like I can’t be totally myself. And besides, the two of them are old enough to not be joined at the hip 24/7.

          (Sorry for the rant, but it bugs me to no end when someone does this to me. It hasn’t happened in a long time since I’m such a damn hermit-introvert nowadays, but I’d have no problem just saying, “Catch you next time then.”)

          1. Ramona Flowers*

            I had to ask my friend to stop bringing her husband every time we arranged to meet…

    2. neverjaunty*

      You’re reasonable and your friend is being a jerk. By asking you if you mind, she’s creating the fiction that you agreed Jane could come along. But, of course, you were pushed into that decision by the fact that she told you *at the last minute* that she was already en route with Jane.

      Literally nothing prevented her from asking ahead of time if it was OK to bring someone, other than the fact that you would have then found it easier to say “actually, yes, I do mind”.

      Recommend next time that you hand the awkward right back to her. “Oh, I’m afraid that isn’t going to work for me. Let’s reschedule for a time when it can be just us?”

    3. miki*

      Had this happen to me 2 years ago: friend proposed a hike for MY birthday, I said yes, only to find out it’s not going to be just me and her, but that she invited along two of her friends and a brother of one of those guys. OK, did the hike and on the way back the guys tried to invite themselves to the dinner I had planned with two of us. NOPE, not happening, I put my foot down on that suggestion. Turns out she just assumed I love having random acquintances coming along (totaly not true).
      Feel free to speak out, even if the friend brought another person(s).

    4. Temperance*

      My husband is a total extrovert, and he genuinely sees any social activity as an opportunity to hang out with more friends. He wouldn’t mind if someone brought over an extra friend, so he similarly would think of inviting an extra person as a good thing. I once had to shut him down because he invited someone to game night that another person was hosting. I made some excuse about us starting our game promptly at 5 so the person couldn’t come along to save face while shutting it down. He was genuinely flummoxed later, because X had met Y and of course X would be fine with Y coming along.

      I had to explain that it was totally rude to invite another person to someone’s home, but that the friend in particular was very choosy about who he socialized with and the circumstances (extreme introvert). I find it to be a weird blind spot with some extroverts where they just honestly think everyone wants to hang all the time with anyone.

        1. Temperance*

          GSFs #1, #4, and #5 are at play. Obvious, isn’t it? ;) He genuinely means well, so I tend to shut it down. (Plus, we’ve all been miserable because he did this open invite for our soccer tickets, and now there are like 4 people who come along and who don’t actually like soccer and kind of ruin it for the rest of us. I think he’s learned his lesson.)

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        That’s how my brother’s wife is. Several times, she’s invited us over for dinner, without mentioning that anyone else will be there. I’ll think it’s just a family gathering between my family and hers, and then when we show up, she has a friend (or several) already there. If I’d known in advance that it wasn’t just a family gathering, it may have changed my decision about attending. Family gatherings are low-key and relaxed, and being “on” for other people’s friends isn’t.

      2. LizB*

        I have one friend who I love dearly, but I have learned the hard way that she will always bring an extra person along to any gathering that is planned for more than two people — e.g., if we’re meeting up for lunch it’ll usually be just us, but if I’m having a potluck at my house she’ll invite along some other friends I’ve never met. It definitely irks me, but for a variety of reasons I’ve made the executive decision to accept it as an annoying quirk and just plan for her to bring a plus one (or plus two) to any group gathering instead of having an awkward talk to try and get her to stop.

        1. Temperance*

          That’s totally fair. I would probably end up snapping at her at some point for bringing Strangers! Into! My! Home!, but I’m very uptight and weird about my stuff. It’s much easier for me to do this to my husband, and I also felt horrible in the above situation because it was MY friend’s home that he invited X to.

          1. LizB*

            The people she brings along are always lovely, which… I don’t know if it makes it better (because at least it’s nice strangers in my home) or worse (because if they were assholes I’d at least have an excuse to be like “please don’t”).

    5. Canadian Natasha*

      Another fellow introvert chiming in: You are not being unreasonable and your friend is being rude (even if they don’t mean to).

      I see some folk have suggested saying “no, that won’t work” in the moment when your friend is making it awkward but if you are anything like me that would feel really confrontational. I’d be more likely to take my friend aside after the fact, explain that they put you in an awkward position, and ask them to not invite other people to one-on-one friend dates or else to ask you if it’s okay *ahead of time* and *before inviting the other person*. Any friend who cares about your feelings should be willing to do this and shouldn’t make you feel like you are too picky or whatever, even if they are an extrovert who doesn’t feel the same about add-on company.

      1. TL -*

        Yeah, I would suggest this as well, rather than the cancel at last minute. I’ve had talks like this with friends (about bringing SOs) and they go better than anything heat of the moment.

    6. Clumsy Ninja*

      Happened recently – meeting two people turned into a surprise when four came. Second surprise – I came for drinks, then they all ate dinner. I’m not saying I wouldn’t have gone – but I would have preferred a heads up first.

    7. Liz*

      I am definitely an extrovert and I can see from this thread just how different introverts and extroverts really are! I see all the people saying it is rude to bring a friend and I am totally surprised and shocked. I can hardly force myself to see any rudeness in bringing friends to a quick coffee or informal lunch or going to a dinner at someone’s house and finding I was not given the guest list ahead of time. I would actually think it was rude to ask for the guest list before going to a friend or family member’s house for a meal.

      Someone said that if you brought a friend it implies I am not enough for you. If you asked me who would be at a casual dinner, I would think you were rudely screening for who will be there.

      I do think it it was my birthday or I wanted to meet to talk or ask for help and you brought someone that would be rude. But for a casual meal or coffee, no. If you wanted it to be just us, you should have said when we made the plans.

      If I said I was bringing a friend to a clearly casual meeting at a public place and you said you wanted to reschedule I would feel badly for misunderstanding the get together and for making you uncomfortable BUT I would also feel you misled me by not being clear about your expectations.

      1. Allergist*

        If I say “hey Liz want to go to come to my place tonight and you bring some rando I would be pissed. How is it not rude to invite other people to someone’s house without their permission?

        And if you brought along a friend when I invited you out in public I would feel a bit hurt because now instead of me and you hanging out its more about some rando third wheel. What’s so hard about asking?

        Also introverts have to prepare to meet new people. It’s tiring to be around others when you are an introvert so surprising a rando when your introvert friend was probably looking forward to seeing you is the worst.

        1. TL -*

          I’m assuming Liz asks (I would ask) but I would be very surprised if I asked to bring a friend to a very casual get-together and the other person rescheduled on me. It would depend on the occasion, but:
          “Hey, a bunch of us play games every Thursday night at 8 – drop by!”
          “I’m planning to spend Sunday marathoning Harry Potter; do you want to join?”
          or “I’ll be at the food festival all day Saturday; we should meet up!” are all things I wouldn’t hesitate to ask, “Hey, can I bring so-and-so along?” (with added things like, oh, she’s only in town for the weekend or whatever.) And I would find it more rude than not if someone said no to that, depending.

          But: “Hey, I haven’t seen you in forever. Can we grab supper sometime this week?”
          “Let’s get together and do Our Bestie Thing!/meet at our Special Bestie Place.”
          “I’m having a small dinner party/more formal event. Would you like to come?” are all be things where I most likely wouldn’t ask to bring Rando, unless it was with the understanding that it was a huge imposition and no would be a perfectly fine answer.

      2. Toph*

        I think the difference here is you seem to be superimposing how casual it is, at least that’s how this reads to me. If I invite you to my house, I invited you to my house. I didn’t invite anyone else to my house. So if you show up with other people, I’m confused why you’d be surprised and shocked that it were not necessarily welcome. It’s not necessarily “screening”. Besides wanting to control who comes to one’s home, it can also be a desire to control head count.

        When you mention that if someone wanted it to just be the two of you, they should’ve said so: if when they invited you they said “do you want to come do X”, to me, they did say so. They mentioned no one else. So it sounds like your default may be “if I’m invited, so is any other friend I might choose to include”, whereas if I’m doing the inviting, unless I said something like “feel free to bring others”, if I invited you, I invited you and only you. It’s totally reasonable to say “hey is it OK if so and so comes along”, and sometimes it may well be OK, but you should be prepared the answer might be “no” if the original invite made no mention of other people. (This may or may not have anything to do with the specifics of the other people.)

        I don’t even know if it’s necessarily strictly an introvert/extrovert thing so much as if your default mindset is “I didn’t say you could invite anyone else, why would you invite someone else” vs “You didn’t tell me NOT to invite anyone else, why wouldn’t I invite anyone else?” Although possibly there’s a correlation between those two standpoints and introversion/extroversion.

      3. Elizabeth H.*

        It’s so funny how different people are – I cannot understand why it would even occur to anyone to say “I want it to just be the two of us” when what you’re doing is making plans with only ONE other person! That’s what constitutes making your expectations clear – the fact that you are making plans with one particular friend, rather than sending a group text or saying let’s go to X place and see if anyone else wants to come too.

        I’m an unusually social introvert (I love parties, I love small talk with people I don’t know, I love talking to strangers on the street) but it still irritates me when I am looking forward to talking to or spending time with someone one-on-one and they start including some random other person in it. Like I was looking forward to seeing that person specifically because I like them, not just looking forward to the act of talking to other human beings in general.

    8. CM*

      I think you can say, either in the moment or afterward, “I thought it would be just the two of us, and was looking forward to catching up with you one-on-one.” But I wonder why this happens to you regularly. Is it possible that your friends see these events as casual gatherings, while you see them as one-on-one bonding time? Are there certain people who do this often?

  23. Bibliovore*

    Thank you for all the suggestions for my camping downstairs while the kitchen is being remodeled.
    We got a revised timeline- looks like Sept for completion.
    What worked on the food front.
    Boiled potatoes on the hot plate
    Eggss- boiled, over easy on the hot plate.
    Trader Joes Frozen Burritos- toaster over
    Dumpling steamed in the microwave
    Egg Rolls in the toaster oven.
    Lots of fresh fruit, salads, sandwiches.
    So far my favorite meal has been a caprese salad with tomatoes ,basil and mozzarella.
    Today I bought a roast chicken that should be good for quesadillas for supper.

    What didn’t work- I tried to make shish kabobs in the toaster oven. Bad idea- set off the smoke detectors and had a small contained fire. Will stick to warming things up.

    Still obsessing about the Insta Pot.

  24. Junior Dev*

    Has anyone read 17776? It’s a very strange piece of multimedia science fiction and it’s on a football website! Link in comment below.

    1. JJJJShabado*

      I’m going to get to it eventually, but I would blindly recommend it because Jon Bois is awesome.

      Some other interesting works of his:
      Chronicling Legends of the Hidden Temple: https://www.sbnation.com/2013/2/27/4028998/legends-of-the-hidden-temple
      The Tim Tebow Chronicles (What if Tim Tebow played in the CFL, this is fantasy in nature, not a statistical projection): https://www.sbnation.com/2014/8/18/5998715/the-tim-tebow-cfl-chronicles
      Pretty much any Breaking Madden episode where he would modify the football video game Madden and it do a bunch of crazy stuff: https://www.sbnation.com/a/breaking-madden
      He also would rate people’s lunches. You’d post a lunch and he would rate it 1-10. I believe my cereal lunch got a 4.

    2. Junior Dev*

      Now I really want someone to organize football games similar to the ones played in that story. Kind of like how some people have created real-world Quidditch leagues.

    1. Stella's Mom*

      Thank you for sharing this. I have skimmed it, and wow. What a profound read. I will read it and share on my social media.

    2. Junior Dev*

      Ooh, I loved reading that. Yeah, it sucks that travel in this country is less accessible to some because of racism.

      I’m a white woman and I went on a long bicycle trip after college. I told a Black friend some of the stuff I did–like ask strangers to refill my water bottle–stuff she was shocked that nothing bad happened to me. I think about that a lot.

  25. Sophie*

    This is probably something to explore with a professional, but any insight would be greatly appreciated.

    With friends and more recently in a toxic work place, people make fun of me. My face is expressive and shows my feelings when I’m upset and people like to do things just to get me to react. I’m an easy target, apparently. I’ve had friends do or say mean things and pull the, “I’m just joking” or “I just wanted a reaction.”

    With my friends (frenemies?), I was just a sounding board. I was also the friend they would hang out with, until someone else was available. When they were single, they’d hang out, but ditch me for their boyfriend/flavor of the month. When I was dating someone, they almost seemed jealous and not happy for me.

    With work, I’m quiet and soft spoken. I think before I speak and they thought I was slow and stupid. The way I walked, talked, and dressed was made fun of. It was done covertly though, so it wasn’t something that I could call them out on without sounding paranoid.

    My low self-esteem doesn’t help and I’m bad at the whole “fake it ‘til you make it” thing. I’m just sick of feeling this way. I’m not perfect, but I’m a good person.

    I don’t know what the solution is; I just don’t want to be the laughing stock/doormat/scapegoat for the rest of my life. It’s tiring and getting old. On the flip side, I don’t want to turn into a bully or become mean just to protect myself. It’s quite the conundrum!

    1. Kms1025*

      I don’t know how to help…big believer in the fake it till you feel it…and when that doesn’t work, the F – off attitude generally comes into play. Honestly, how do you know these mean things are being said if you’re not in that same moment and could address them? Are you sure about what you’re thinking or are you guessing? If you’re sure, ask. Did you say you this? Why did you say this? Is there some way I have offended you that would make you say this? Doesn’t have to be confrontational, just questioning. Good luck and I’m sorry you’re feeling like this.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this. It sounds like your coworkers are horrible people, and your “friends” aren’t much better. Can you work on dispassionately stating that something bothers you and asking them to stop? They are doing this because they enjoy your reaction, and so depriving them of that is one step towards defusing the situation. Asking them directly not to make fun of you or comment on your mannerisms is another, and yes, they can ignore these things, but it’s making it clear to them and anyone else around that they’re the jerk here. They may not care, they may reinforce each others’ approval of these actions (I’m mostly thinking about your workplace here), but voicing disapproval and asking them to stop consistently makes them aware of the non-fun side to their taunting, and over time it is another way to diminish the “fun” that they have at your expense.

      Honestly, I’d rather be alone than spend time with people who demean me. You need to learn to value yourself first, that helps with the confidence in both approaches above. It’s tough at first, I know, and I still don’t have great self-confidence, but I’ve slowly learned to internalize the good things that people have said about me to the point where I can fake believing it, and even kinda do believe it sometimes. Once you find people who do value you, it’s an *upward* spiral, as your self-confidence makes you less of a target and less tolerant of bad treatment.

      I know you can do it. Just the fact that you’ve thought about it this much is huge. And it won’t change overnight, but keep working at it, and know that what these people say about you really tells nothing about you, but volumes about them.

      1. Stella's Mom*

        Your statement, “Honestly, I’d rather be alone than spend time with people who demean me. ” has been my motto now for a few years. For the OP of this question…. getting new friends and or standing up for yourself, while difficult, is the best you can do until you move on to a new workplace.

    3. neverjaunty*

      It’s not really a conundrum, though. The alternative to “doormat” is not “bully”. Telling people who make fun of you ‘That really wasn’t kind’ is not mean. Cutting toxic friends of of your life is not bullying.

      BTW, the people who “just wanted a reaction” are telling you flat out that they are bullies.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        That “just wanted a reaction” thing really got me.

        I hung out with a girl all through high school. On the last day of senior year, she said something that she KNEW she should not be saying. I started crying. I looked at her and said, “Why did you have to say that?” She said, “Oh. I just wanted to see you cry.”

        I had been over this person’s house and met her family. We hung out together for four years.
        DONE! In that moment I was done. I have not seen her since. I no longer trusted her. I never saw this coming, I did not know she had this side to her personality.

        Friends lift us up, OP. Friends do not pull us down.

        I will say that developing a poker face has helped me in the workplace.* You can still have the emotions if you choose, but try to have less of it on your face. That said, your coworkers are losers. I think on some level you realize that.
        *I have had bosses who would double or triple my workload if I let slip I had too much work right now. I learned not to let on that something was too much. Poker face helped.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Yeah, really. I was totally blindsided by that. Totally. I think the tears came up because I knew the friendship was over. If she had been behaving like an idiot right along, I think I would have been able to keep the poker face.

    4. NicoleK*

      I’ve had friends do or say mean things and pull the, “I’m just joking” or “I just wanted a reaction.”

      I think you need some new friends.

    5. tigerStripes*

      Your friends don’t sound like friends. One thing you may be able to say at work or with friends is “I’m sorry, would you repeat that?” Sometimes people are too embarrassed to repeat themselves. Or “Wow”. Or “I can’t believe you just said that.”

    6. Audiophile*

      Most of my childhood, I was made fun of. I have a noticeable medical scar on my neck, I wear glaases, and as I got older my voice is pretty husky for a female. These were all easy things for kids to make fun of. I had some friends but most were classmates. As I moved into the working world, I struggled with a lot of self confidence, especially around how I was performing my job and if my co-workers liked me.

      In one particular job, I worked with someone who I went to college with. I considered us friends, but I eventually saw the light that for her I was a pet project and a way for her to feel better about herself. I made the decision to stop speaking with her. It wasn’t easy, I struggled to find new friends to replace her and another friend I stopped associating with, but now I feel like I finally have a good group of friends.

      A big help in this area was seeking professional help, that wasn’t easy either. I definitely recommend it though. You’ll know when you’ve found the right one for you.

  26. Hedgehog*

    If you follow a particular diet (whether vegetarian, allergy-friendly, paleo/keto), how much info do you want from someone who is cooking for you (party or houseguest or whatever)? I feel like I either end up A) making so much of a fuss by asking questions ahead of time to make sure I am getting the food right that I feel like I am “othering” my guests for what they eat or just sounding like a martyr or something, or B) trying so hard NOT to make a fuss that people end up bringing their own food and I don’t know if it’s because they don’t trust my ability to accommodate their diet or they didn’t get the memo that I had done so.

    What level of information is helpful without being annoying? And does it make a difference whether it is for you or for your kid with allergies?

    1. MommyMD*

      Unless you have a true food allergy, it’s annoying to give a host a list of food demands. Miss Manners has addressed this. Just eat what you can eat of what they prepare. It’s nice to want to accommodate everyone but it’s opening Pandora’s box.

      1. Liane*

        And part 2 of Miss Manners’ advice: If that means you have to eat beforehand to keep from starving, then eat beforehand.

    2. Loopy*

      I’m a vegetarian and I’m happy to provide basics IF I’m asked but I never feel comfortable bringing it up myself. For most scenarios I’m happy as long as I have SOMETHING to nibble at and don’t end up sitting awkwardly without food. Usually one basic question is fine, something like “do you eat fish?” Or “I want to make sure I have something you can eat, is ____ good for you?” Type of thing.

      But I’d feel uncomfortable if a host asked me to request a specific dish or food.

    3. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

      I have food allergies and the important thing for me is that all the info is available if I need it. I don’t care whether the host brings it up or I do, but I need to know EXACTLY what I put in my mouth. So, keep all the packages even if they are empty so you can show the ingredient list if asked. Making people dig in their waste bin is embarrassing.

      Another thing is that if there are many guests it would be good to talk with the special needs eater in private. I don’t know about others but I personally hate it when the “can you eat this” stuff comes up in a room full of strangers, and curiousness will inevitably happen! I don’t want to be the center of attention with my diet restrictions, I just want to know what I can eat and then happily eat it without anyone commenting. Making a fuss is OK as long as it’s in private!

      I wouldn’t worry about asking too much questions beforehand. In my opinion one of the worst scenarios is when the host puts lots of time and energy into making the special foods, and then the special eater can’t eat it anyway. To avoid this it’s always best to just ask, ask and ask! Feeling “othered” is a much smaller problem than the possible consequences of eating the wrong stuff.

      Can’t say anything about the kid part as I don’t have kids.

      1. Zathras*

        Oh, the point about saving the ingredients label from prepared foods is a great one! So many times there have been things that I probably could have eaten, but wasn’t sure, because the label had been thrown away.

    4. Reba*

      You sound like a thoughtful host!

      Definitely don’t take it personally if someone brings their own food. I agree it feels weird as the host, especially if it’s a small gathering. But they’ve had enough bad experiences or just particular feelings about food and they’re doing what’s easiest for them. They may even be trying to avoid inconveniencing you (though I know you want to accommodate them).

      I don’t know what kinds of things you like to cook, but I guess I don’t understand why things rise to the level of “fuss” for you. Is there a lot of back and forth here? I suggest that you ask your guests to inform you. Don’t try to figure things out by asking “Can you eat X? Y? Z if it’s humanely grass fed?”

      You say, “Any special diet requirements I should know about?”
      They say, “I’m vegan!” Or, “I eat everything but butter and frozen fishsticks!”
      Then you look up some of the gazillion vegan or butter/fishstick free recipes on the internet. There’s so much info out there that none of these diet things need to be a mystery.

      Also remember that barring unusual allergies or needs, everyone can eat the “lowest common denominator” food, so to speak. That is, meat eaters can eat vegan food, wheat eaters can eat gluten-free food. You don’t necessarily have to make special dishes for everyone. As a vegetarian I’ve really appreciated the times when my family of origin has served all-vegetarian meals, so it’s not like “Oh and here’s *your* dish, Reba.”

      On the question of people who are misinformed about their own supposed diets, I cannot help… ;)

    5. Zathras*

      I have food allergies so I have navigated this a lot. If you are hosting, explicitly ask in the invitation for people to let you know any dietary restrictions they have ahead of time, and use the list to inform what you are making. In small groups, it’s often best if you just pick something everyone can eat, that way the ones with food restrictions aren’t singled out. For larger groups where you’d have to make multiple batches anyway, it’s easier to do a meat and non-meat dish, or a nut and non-nut dessert.

      If you will have some things that people can’t eat, be aware of how you are serving them – cross-contamination is a thing, and you don’t want other guests dripping peanut sauce all over the non-peanut food, or putting the spoon from the meat lasagna into the veggie lasagna. If you are serving buffet style,write all the ingredients of each dish on an index card placed near the dish. I do that for anything I bring to potlucks and have seen other people do it as well.

      In general people with dietary restrictions are used to not being able to eat 100% of the food at gatherings, especially large ones, so as long as they have something to eat for each course I wouldn’t stress. I would be a little more careful with young kids, who might have trouble understanding that they can eat these brownies, but not those cookies, and try to sneak a cookie anyway.

      In terms of gathering info ahead of time, I never mind answering follow up questions. I appreciate when the person is trying to make sure I will be able to eat. One good question to ask is if there is any ingredient that people often put in by mistake, not realizing the person can’t eat it.

      Finally, try not to take it personally if someone brings their own food anyway. It’s much more about their peace of mind, not a judgement of you. There are so many ways to accidentally contaminate something that you thought was allergy free, and people with severe allergies are literally trusting you with their life when they eat food you have prepared. For some people this is too stressful. They want to just relax and hang out without worrying about food. Take it as a compliment – they like you enough to come to your party anyway just to see you, without even eating your food!

      1. Hedgehog*

        Thanks for all the advice. I am certainly aware of cross-contamination, and I guess part of my question is how do I convey that to my guests without it being a production. Like, yes, I did buy the flour that was not processed on shared equipment, and I bought a new pack of baking soda and sugar, too, just to be on the safe side, and I cleaned all my counters very thoroughly before I baked and so on, but explaining all that without prompting seems like it might be a bit much. But then if I don’t explain, people don’t know that they/their kid can eat the food. And, yes, there is definitely an element of I want them to at least know that I cared enough to try, which is obnoxious of me.

        And I definitely don’t mind people bringing their own food in any case, I just don’t know if I should mention when they are bringing it out that the food I cooked is (theoretically, assuming I got it right!) safe for them because maybe they just didn’t get the memo or if that is awkward because maybe they want to provide their own stuff anyway to be on the safe side, which is 100% understandable.

        1. Zathras*

          You can say something low key like “So you know, there’s no nuts (or whatever) in X, and I opened new boxes of baking soda and so forth. I can describe how I made it in more detail if you want, but I also totally understand if you’d rather just stick to what you brought.” This gives them the easy out if they don’t want to deal with it, but lets them know that you don’t mind being asked questions about your preparation if that would help.

          With little kids (you mention below it’s mostly little kids) I think people are stricter, because they’re choosing the risk for someone else instead of themselves. And it’s probably easier for parents to have a rule “you can only eat what we brought” instead of having to decide and enforce which foods are OK/not OK every time.

    6. HannahS*

      I’m not really sure where the problem is–is it that they’re not giving you the right kind of information, and that you’re not familiar with their diets? Or is it that you’re really anxious about making sure that they can eat everything, so you feel you must completely alter the menu and learn to make completely new dishes? People with food restrictions (which includes me, so speaking from experience) shouldn’t expect that. As a host, I make sure there’s something that everyone can eat, and I let them know which dishes are dairy-free or vegetarian, or nut-free or whatever.

      I’m annoying to feed because I keep kosher, but will eat vegetarian food that other people prepare. So, when I tell people that and they call me to confirm that there’ll be something for me to eat, I appreciate it. But I don’t need to be able to eat everything on the table, and I offer to contribute a dish that I know I can eat, especially if the host is nervous about feeding me. If the diet is so complicated that you can’t figure it out, you can and should ask them to bring something they can eat. Like, if I invited someone over and they were on the FODMAP diet, I wouldn’t feel that I could safely and easily learn it and feed them without stressing out both myself and the guest. Gracious guests with food restrictions understand that it can be a burden on the host–I certainly get that, especially when dealing with people who can’t fathom a meal without meat. I eat the bread, ask the host to set aside some salad without bacon bits, and eat the roasted veggies that I brought.

      For allergies, it’s a matter of safety, so accept their offer to bring something they can eat. Let them know that XYZ dishes don’t have dairy or nuts or whatever. You can ask when you invite them, too, “My kitchen isn’t nut-free, but if I leave the almonds out of the salad, can you/your child eat it?” and then you’ll know in advance whether they’ll eat the dishes or will feel safer eating their own food.

      1. Hedgehog*

        No, I’m not familiar with their diets. The ones I am familiar with, like my brother’s pescatarian diet are easy. But others are allergy-driven, and not just one allergy, and since I’m only cooking for them once in a blue moon, I don’t trust myself to have the lists of allergies correctly memorized. I have a couple SILs who are often on restricted diets, but those sometimes change, so it’s checking in to see if it’s paleo right now or full-on keto or something else, and the internet has led me astray on the details of those before, or so I’ve been told when putting the food on the table, so then I don’t know if I should be asking for more details before I cook or just going with their insistence that they will make do with whatever (and then if I do take them at their word that I shouldn’t do anything special, my MIL is bringing in extra food for them, and that lends a whole extra dynamic to all that!)

        1. Hedgehog*

          Oh and with the allergies, it’s mostly very young kids, so I am aiming to have everything be safe because I don’t want a two year old to grab the wrong cookie or something or get smeared by another two year old’s dairy-covered fingers. But maybe that is going overboard?

          1. Bryce*

            Believe me, if parents have an allergic kid they will tell you. All you have to do is listen.

        2. HannahS*

          I dunno, if they’re insisting that you not make a special effort and your MIL brings extra food, then that sounds like a pretty good solution! Is there a reason to think that they don’t really mean it or secretly resent you for not just knowing and accommodating their food restrictions? Because if there is, that sucks and they should just tell you. If they mean it, though, and I’d guess that most people with food restrictions do, then they’re trying to make your life easier by taking the burden of their food restrictions off of their host. I could definitely see myself doing that, especially if my host seems stressed out/unsure of what to do.

          The situation you’re describing, where you go to the extra effort to prepare something and then it’s not right sounds awful for both of you. I would say that if your guest is someone that you know well or host often, discuss the menu or the dish you’re making for them on the phone before hand (and let it go if they insist on not eating your food). There are just too many ways that accommodating someone without telling them can go wrong. As you’ve seen, you can get stuff wrong, or, as I’ve experienced, the I’ll pre-eat but then feel obligated to eat a second dinner to show proper gratitude! Oof. That conversation could look like this:
          Her: I’m eating [diet] right now.
          You: Ok, I was thinking I could make something like a quinoa salad with raisins but is quinoa ok? Or is there another ingredient that would work instead?
          Her: Yeah, actually, if you could use millet instead, that would be great/No, it’s really complicated, I’ll just bring something.
          Just stabbing in the dark, but are you someone who believes (or from a culture that believes) that being a good host rests on how well you feed your guests? Because if that’s part of what’s going on, I’d urge you to expand what being a good host means and not feel bad about people bringing their own food to your house, or rejecting your food altogether. And understand that sometimes people on restrictive diets need to learn how to be good guests and don’t quite have it down yet, and that’s their problem, not yours.

          1. HannahS*

            Right, for the add-on about allergic kids, I think it’s much the same: discuss it with the parents in advance. The situation to avoid is where you go to a huge effort to make everything nut-and-dairy free and then tell little Johnny’s mother (who you don’t know very well), and her face gets that awful look of “How do I tell this person whose kid my kid likes that I can’t let my kid eat her food because I don’t know her well enough to know if ‘I scrubbed the counter tops’ includes soaping the corners of the counter tops and the crevices of the food processor and I just can’t trust her with my kid’s life.” Awful for the both of you. Honestly, your impulses to include everyone in the eating at your house are very kind! Just ask and listen, and hopefully things will feel easier.

            1. Hedgehog*

              Thanks. I think the problem I’m running into is that I feel like I’ve had a couple times lately where I thought I had asked and listened but it ended up seeming like there was a miscommunication in the end anyway. And I don’t know did I miss a step in not explicitly spelling out that I had based the menu around the list of acceptable foods I’d been given or were they just not comfortable saying what they really needed (e.g. to bring their own food no matter what), which is fine. There are some good scripts above that might help clarify and I should also just realize that miscommunications happen and it probably wasn’t horribly taxing on the other person to grab their own cupcakes or salad on the way over in any case. :)

    7. Bryce*

      I have peanut allergies and avoid all nuts/chocolate (and also keep kosher, but since that one isn’t life or death I flex on it enough not to bother other people, some long-time friends have been quite surprised to find out because who would notice I always go for the brisket over baby back ribs?). I’m the overly-shy “don’t make a fuss” type so usually I eat enough beforehand that I’m not gonna starve and the main thing I want is for the person who made the food to be able to answer the “does this have nuts in it” question without gushing about how *terrible* my allergy is and how she *cannot* imagine what it’s like and so on.

      With good friends who know my allergies a heads-up ahead of time usually works, but sometimes it feels like they’re bending over backwards to accommodate me and that’s all sorts of self-conscious and “feel obligated to like it”. In the end it’s all about the company, and as long as it doesn’t feel like other folks are taking note of what I eat, I find ways to manage myself.

    8. TL -*

      It depends – I trust a couple of people to make food for me but not many and people who are pushy about accommodating me really annoy me, actually. Because sometimes they’ll really want to make a gluten free something, and then they’ll make them at the same time they made the non-gf something (and in the same bowls or they’ll let their kids help…) or they’ll just bring it out when I get there and I usually can’t eat it because of other allergies. And then it’s a whole thing, which is not what I want because I already spend too much time thinking about food.

      So what I like is when someone mentions the menu beforehand, but takes no for an answer quite easily if they offer to make a special/specific dish. And if they know what the ingredients are or are completely honest about not knowing the ingredients.

    9. CityMouse*

      I have a close friend with celiac (diagnosed by a doctor), and I often double check things with her before inviting her over. There are some sneaky sources of gluten and thinking about cross contamination can involve some things you just wouldn’t consider. I want her to be comfortable eating at my place.

    10. Liz*

      I tell people that my diet is so odd that I offer to bring a dish to share and ask what will work for the hostess. And usually I eat before I go and bring a salad for the meal.

    11. Liz*

      I tell people that my diet is so odd that I offer to bring a dish to share and ask what will work for the hostess. And usually I eat before I go and bring a salad for the meal.

      I have had many people try to cook for me as you are trying to do, they buy expensive ingredients, spend hours on a dish that is new and a challenge, and then I discover they added something I cannot eat. And I wind up feeling terrible as I don’t eat what they spent so much time and money on and no one else wants it either.

      I would prefer you include me no matter what but as you offer to learn how to prepare something I can eat, leave the option open for me to being something.

  27. Loopy*

    Why is flying- even under the best of circumstances so exhausting? Flying today to attend a funeral and wondering if anyone has tips on keeping my energy up for the return trip. Going home I’ll have an early flight and layover and when I land I’ll have to do all sorts of errands and chores and have work the next day.

    I can sleep okay on planes for short bouts but I always feel so lethargic when I’m finally done no matter how much I’ve managed to sleep!

    1. nep*

      An obvious one of course, but I’ll put it out there anyway — drink plenty of water before and during travel. Not sweet or caffeinated drinks — just water. I find a few minutes of stretching and deep breathing after is helpful.

      1. Loopy*

        Thank you for the condolences.

        Ah. This is a good suggestion. I tend to do the opposite because if I don’t have an aisle seat I have such anxiety over asking to get out to use the bathroom on the plane. And lately I’ve had issues switching seats without paying- no matter which darned seat I try! (*coughdelta*).

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I’m sorry for your loss. I find flying exhausting because it’s a lot of waiting around anxiously. You can’t really relax that much when the gate can change; you could be called to board soon; you have to wait on a security line for 30, 60, 90 minutes and hope you’re through in time to make your flight when they’re very unpredictable. And it’s noisier and has more motion than most other forms of transportation, so it’s harder to relax onboard, too. And the stress of grief by itself is a lot for anyone, but now it’s all compounded.

      All I can say is be kind to yourself, don’t be averse to letting things slide when at all possible. Grief can take months to process, so especially with the last-minute travel, consider letting yourself put off anything that won’t result in disaster or more work for you in the short run.

      And drink plenty of water. A lot of the tiredness I feel on planes is from being dehydrated, because the air is so dry in the cabin. Just be sure to time the bathroom breaks around the takeoff and approach!

      1. Loopy*

        Thanks for the advice. I mentioned above that I’m awful about stubbornly not drinking when flying and now it makes a lot of sense that I’m so tired! My new goal will be to get aisle seats so I don’t have plane bathroom anxiety!

    3. Fellow Traveler*

      So sorry for your loss. Flying makes me groggy too! All that waiting and inactivity. I’ve found that brushing my teeth and washing my face as soon as I get off the plane gives me a little boost, and helps me feel ready to tackle the next thing. Kinda like scrubbing plane lethargy off, if only psychologically.

    4. Dan*

      Sorry for your lost.

      Technical answer to your question is that planes are pressurized to an altitude of 8000 feet, and humidity of 12% or so. 8000 feet is a higher elevation than Denver.

      1. Loopy*

        Wow I had no idea the actual conditions of being inside a plane were in play. I guess I just assumed they made a comfortable, adjusted cabin so my body would feel much like it would on the ground.

    5. Trillian*

      Condolences from me, too. I’ve done one of those trips in the last year. Not fun. At least I had travelled the route and airline before, and knew they would scrape me up from the concourse if I fell apart. Aside from going via a familiar route, I’d suggest,

      – Plenty of fluids. Non-alcoholic. I need non-fizzy, too. I usually try to time my exit for when one of my row-mates moves and people are up anyway. Moving also lets me stretch and breathe.
      – I’m a firm believer in sitting on the shady side of the plane if possible, during daylight flights, so I don’t cook.
      – Dress for comfort.
      – Set the chair for your comfort and carry a back pillow, cushion, etc. Ease the chair back if need be. Minimize muscle tension.
      – If the airline offers some kind of upgrade seat, consider it.
      – Check baggage. I usually go carry on (cheapskate, my checked luggage is always last, and when the flights get disrupted, I can plane hop more easily) but when I had to travel for what turned out to be a funeral, I checked luggage because it’s tiring humping luggage around.
      – Earplugs or noise cancelling headphones.
      – Procrastinate. Everything that can be put off, should be.

      1. Loopy*

        Thanks for the condolences and tips! I’m good at comfy flying at least. I’m always shocked when I see women in heels in the airport who aren’t obviously flying for business!

    6. AcademiaNut*

      When I fly it tends to be long-haul (ie, a 12 hour flight in there somewhere) and always economy.

      – Comfy but not scruffy clothes. I have a pair of linen/cotton pants with a drawstring waist that are comfortable and fit a variety of climates that I wear exclusively for travelling, paired with a long shirt that won’t ride up when I’m sleeping in odd positions, and long socks (so my ankles don’t get cold). I also have a pair of travel slippers I change into during the flight.

      – I drink a lot of water in the day before the trip, but taper off during the trip, and tend to carefully time drinking. So I’ll drink a bottle of water just after getting off the plane on a layover, so I can go to the washroom before getting on the plane. Even with an aisle seat, you can still get stuck for an hour or more by planes stuck on the runway, or a turbulence sign being on.

      – I have travel sized toothpaste, toothbrush, mouthwash and deodorant in my carryon, plus a small towel. So during a layover, I can wash my face, brush my teeth and re-apply deodorant, which makes me feel much better. Also a stash of emergency food (nuts, chocolate, soy bars) for unexpected delays. (avoid fruit, meat or dairy if you’re travelling internationally, because those are restricted by customs). For long flights, I have a travel kit, with slippers, earplugs, eye mask, face mask, neck pillow, plus gum, mints and tissues.

      – I stock the fridge before leaving. So food in the freezer (stew, spaghetti sauce, steamed vegetetables, etc), plus ice cream, cold drinks in the fridge, and some snacks. That way I can sleep and eat before needing to go shopping.

      1. Loopy*

        Thanks! The drinking the day before is a good tip as is the stocking the freezer before leaving (I really like that one). I’ll keep these handy!

    7. Elizabeth West*

      *hugs* Add my condolences to the list. This is all good advice, especially about the water. I feel you on that–I have a bladder the size of a lentil. :P But it’s worthwhile to get the aisle seat and drink up.

      1. TL -*

        I felt so bad flying to New Zealand because I was stressed and nervous so had to go about every 45 minutes when I was awake. Luckily, I slept for a good 7 hours.

      2. Loopy*

        Thanks for the condolences.

        I swear I have to pee *more* than usual when I fly. I’m like really body, really?!

    8. Ruffingit*

      I’ve flown a lot over my lifetime and quite a bit recently. See if you can upgrade to first class. A lot of people think it’s not affordable, but it can be. I’ve paid an extra $150 to upgrade and it was totally worth it. If you can’t do that, get Economy Plus seats and pick the seats (if you’re able) that are right behind the first class cabin. You will gets TONS of leg room there as there are no seats in front of you.

      Drink a lot of water. Walk around the cabin periodically if you can. During the layover, find a cafe or whatever and just chill out for a bit – drink some coffee, tea, whatever works for you and take some deep breaths.

      I’m so sorry for your loss!

  28. Savannah*

    2 months to my wedding and I can feel the crazy start to creep in! People not rsvpsing and my in-laws being challenging cross culturally. Luckily I’m at the aveda school in NYC for my monthly wedding prep facial- I started doing them at 6 months and not only are they good for my face but also a great excuse to have a solo date with NYC and actually relax..for a min.

    1. D.W.*

      I’m two months out to my wedding as well, and I have a standing pedicure date on Fridays after work in NYC too. Best thing ever! Also dealing with people not rsvp’ing. You have someone in your corner feeling your pain! Enjoy your “me time”.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      We got all the RSVPs in by manufacturing reasons to contact everyone and then saying oh and while I’ve got you are you coming to the wedding?

    3. Cashew*

      I just got married last month and the non-rsvp’ers drove me nuts. We finally got a hold of some extended family members, they said they were coming, and then were no shows the day of! Ugh.

      1. D.W.*

        I’m so afraid of that happening! I’m sorry to say, but I’m a very much a bottom-line person, and if I spend money of you and you don’t show up, all I’m going to see is money wasted.

        One of my married friends said that when they announced her and her husband at the reception, and she walked in, for every empty seat in that banquet hall all she could see was wasted money. She wasn’t even able to enjoy that moment…

        1. Observer*

          That’s really on you. Not that people who RSVP should fail to show up. But, it’s totally up to you how you handle it. And if you decide to focus on the wasted money than that is YOUR decision. (especially since it’s the rare wedding where no money was wasted, except for the no shows.)

  29. Ally*

    What do fellow cat-people feed their cats? I am thinking of raising the quality of my cat’s food to maybe address some coat issues? She is reasonably shiny, but has dandruff and greasy-looking patch by her tail.

    As recommended by the vet, I give her 1/4 a can wet food (Frisky’s shreds) in the morning and at night, and a little dry food (Purina One Heathy Weight) in a treat ball that she has to work for. Vet didn’t recommend brands, just said to get ‘something mid-range’. She is at a good weight, and is about 6 years old.

    It’s not life or death, I just don’t know if I could be doing better for her.

    1. Sophie*

      I give my furball Royal Canin dry food (It’s price-y, but Petco usually has coupons/reward programs where you can get $5 off a purchase.) He then gets Fancy Feast for wet food.

    2. MommyMD*

      Go to dog food advisor and look at the ingredients of quality dog food. These brands usually have a cat line. Purina and Frisky are true nutritional garbage. This site shows you how to decipher a food label. Meat must be the first ingredient in any decent food, and not byproduct or grain. Chicken or chicken meal is a quality ingredient for example.

      Purina, Beneful, most grocery store brands are mostly garbage.

      1. periwinkle*

        Annoyingly, my cats are like people – given the choice they’d rather have supermarket kibble than the truly healthy stuff. Arrgh.

        I feed Acana dry food (grain-free); the cats prefer the Wild Atlantic flavor which is of course the priciest, but they’ve enjoyed all four varieties.

        They also get Fancy Feast canned because the little jerks WILL NOT eat premium canned food. I’ve tried every brand I can find and whatever they don’t reject outright they’ll reject after a few feedings. Jerks.

        1. Kms1025*

          Lol…my daughter loves her cat, but also frequently calls her a little jerk…your comment made me laugh out loud :)

    3. Djuna*

      Since she’s healthy, you could try a good all round food like Hill’s Science Plan. It should help with the dandruff too. It’s pretty much on a par price-wise (at least in Europe) with Royal Canin, but my little old dude liked it better.
      He’s had to switch over to prescription food, and we’ve stuck with Hill’s and had a remarkably easy transition.

    4. the gold digger*

      We feed Laverne and Shirley Fromm’s Salmon Tunachovy. It’s grain- free – Laverne had developed feline alopecia and was vomiting up her entire meal regularly and we went through several foods to find something she could tolerate. After 16 months, her hair is finally growing back. She was bald on her belly from her bellybutton on down and her formerly beautifully lush tail was sparse.

      And although Laverne will eat any produce we (stupidly) leave on the counter (except onions, peppers, and garlic), in general, I don’t think grains are something natural to a cat’s diet.

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        ah yes, Fromme! Ours loved this too when we could get it in the US – great food made in WI. Can recommend – ours had a great coat on that too.

    5. Anon in IL*

      I give my cat Blue Buffalo Wilderness (grain-free) dry food.

      He also has one fish-oil capsule (Welactin feline brand) every other day on the vet’s recommendation.

      The vet recommended the fish oil to prevent hairballs. (He is a long-hair.) It worked and in addition really improved his coat. It is much softer and silkier since he started the fish oil.

    6. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      We just got our cats back from Other Half’s parents where they were for three years, and one of them had a coat that was in a very sorry state. She also picked up some bad habits (uh, begging from the table is NOT ok in this house) and gained a ton of weight because his dad fed her all sorts of high calorie people food and they weren’t played with. Anyway – she had dandruff and that same tail patch too and matted parts, mostly because they also weren’t being brushed regularly. His parents are lovely people and have always had cats but never understood the fussing we do with ours!

      We have now had to get very firm – they get a small bowl of high quality dry (little to no starches or fillers – Taste of the Wild, Orijen, Applaws, Merrick types of brands) for breakfast and throughout the day. Ive got this wild salmon oil I found online thats sort of like Omega 3/6s for cats – so I put a few squirts on top of the dry food, which they love. The only wet they eat is gravy style, so while it will be kind of “junky” wet (Friskies or a similar brand because they just wont eat the fancy wet, unless its bff brand and then they lick the plate clean) its only a packet and they share that. They get some chicken when we make chicken, or their treats are 100% dry chicken too. Ans absolutely no food from the table, weekly to biweekly brushing, and we play with them in the yard for an hour or so every day. Their coats look much better and that weird patch is gone too!

      Essentially – you dont want to feed too much food that has too much filler and starches, which a lot of commercial low end brands have in them. Read up on that online, lots of good resources. If you think about it, as predators kitties mostly are on a “paleo” diet, give them something full of carbs etc and they will put on weight :) And remember, we can all only do as much as possible given budgetary constraints, but its good to be thinking this way!

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        Just to clarify, that wild salmon oil is meant for cats! It was on the website where I order my cat chow. I haven’t seen it in US big box stores, however. Also – on that note – do you have a specialty local mom and pop store near you? We had Chuck and Dons in MN, but I think they are in CO too.

        1. Ally*

          Thanks everyone! So much has changed in cat – feeding since I was growing up and we just piled dry food in their bowls all day, every day (which is what they were doing with her last year when I got her from the shelter as well).

          I want to do the best I can, given money and time and what she might like, so I appreciate all the input! I’ve tried some cod liver oil before mixed with her food and she did not like it, but maybe the salmon? Or maybe just a grain-free other food will help. I haven’t seen any small pet stores here (PA). Lots to look into!

          1. Lo Squared*

            Our cat has always had the same issues: shiny coat, but a bit dandruffy. She’s also a little chubby, so can’t always bathe the best. Our kitty won’t eat fish oils of any kind annoyingly (even like, pure salmon oil on salmon wet food). She is on Merrick grain free because that was the first thing she wouldn’t puke up when we got her from the shelter 7 years ago.

            What did help her immensely (and was recommended by my aunt who is a vet) was this stuff call Dermoscent Essentials. It’s an oil you or between their shoulder blades weekly to bi-weekly. She gets like morally offended when we do it, but in the last 18 months or so her dandruff is 95% better than it was the first 5.5 years! You can get it on Amazon.

    7. Episkey*

      I personally don’t like Science Diet or Royal Canin, I feel like they dupe people into thinking it’s good quality food and it’s really not.

      My cats eat raw, which IMO is the healthiest for them, but it is also the most expensive and I realize other people can’t do that.

      In general, the quality formula is usually raw>canned>kibble. Cats are obligate carnivores and really do not need any carb or filler in their food (unlike dogs who generally love meat but are more omnivores in a sense, though they should always have good quality protein as well).

      Some good brands of kibble include: Orijen/Acana, Wellness CORE, Taste of the Wild (which has a nice price point), NOW! Fresh Grain-Free…there are others and MommyMD’s suggestion of Dog Advisor is a good one.

    8. Melody Pond*


      We feed our cats a frozen raw food by a brand called Primal – https://primalpetfoods.com

      With cats, my experience has been that it’s most effective to transition them from one type of food to another, VERY SLOWLY. We used to feed them a more expensive, even more high quality raw food called RadCat, which they loved. When we decided to switch them to Primal, to save a little money, I started both of them with only 0.1 oz of Primal mixed in with their RadCat (which we decreased by about the same weight). And then I stuck with that ratio for two days. And then I increased to 0.2 oz of Primal, while decreasing their RadCat just a little bit, and I did that for another two days. And so on and so forth, until they were completely switched over to the Primal.

      (It’s slightly more complex than that, because the Primal and the RadCat had different calorie densities – the Primal is a little more nutritionally and calorically dense, so by weight, we’re now actually feeding them a little less of the Primal, than we were with the RadCat. We used a spreadsheet to plan it out, so that each cat was still getting the right amount of calories per day.)

      You obviously don’t have to go full-board raw food to give your cats something that’s pretty good for them. There are lots of other high quality wet foods on that reviews website that you can check out. But whatever you want to switch them to, I’d definitely recommend going CRAZY slow in switching them over to something new. Like, start with undetectable amounts of the new stuff, and increase very slowly – for the cats I’ve had, there’s been no such thing as going “too slow” in a transition like this. A food scale definitely helps.

    9. nonegiven*

      Fancy Feast classic canned.
      Whatever hairball formula dry I can get them to eat, looking for meat as a first ingredient, I’ve been mixing two kinds of dry because they like the one that seems lower quality the most.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      I had to give Pig Taste of the Wild grain-free dry food. She would puke up anything you can buy at Walmart. I fed her kibble in the morning. In her later years, she got wet food at night with a little kibble on the side, mostly Fancy Feast when I didn’t have much money or Blue Buffalo when I was flush.

    11. Seal*

      Mine get Blue Buffalo limited ingredient duck and potato, both wet and dry. One of my cats, who I got as a kitten when my idiot neighbors abandoned him, has recurring skin issues that the vet thinks is due to a food allergy. He was on a fairly expensive diet food that got things under control, so the vet recommend switching him to something he would never have had before. Hence the duck and potato. Since I have 3 cats, it’s easier to have them all on the same food. Fortunately, everyone loves it and the one with the food allergy is doing great.

    12. CityMouse*

      My cat had some dandruff and putting on a small amount of completely natural oatmeal eczema cream helped him (we knew he was going to lick it). Vet also has us feed him more wet food as he is getting older.

    13. Belle di Vedremo*

      Mine eats Weruva wet food, the “cats in the kitchen” line. She L O V E S the purple one, which says something like Love Me Tender on it and says duck and chicken but is actually mostly tuna. I dilute the “gravy” and give her half a pouch plus more diluted gravy daily. Her fur is softer and she has fewer hairballs. She eats more common commercial kibble, she gets tired of them after a year or so and we try something new. Right now she’s eating “chicken soup for the cat” kibble. She refuses to eat fish oil, alone or on anything. I’d rather she didn’t focus so much on tuna, but at 19 she is generally indulged.

  30. anonymouse*

    So there was a ridiculously good deal for airfare next spring (May 2018) for nonstop passage to Paris, and I couldn’t resist buying a ticket. I’ve visited several times, always with friends, but this is the first time I’m going alone. And I’m excited? I’ve never traveled alone before, but I know from previous experience that Europe is pretty safe for travelers — barring pickpockets.

    What are the best ways to meet people to hang out while traveling? I’m not a big drinker/partier, so I’m thinking of going to some meet ups. I’m a pretty huge food person!

    1. Dan*

      You can meet people at bars without being a big drinker. Drinking in Europe seems to be a much more social experience than it is in the US.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Perhaps the next time I go to London, I’ll actually go IN a pub instead of walking wistfully by. I’m always alone and it’s no fun going to pubs alone.
        Maybe I’ll try one in Canary Wharf, and some cute, rich, suited fellow will chat me up. ;)

        1. Jules the First*

          No, silly. The next time you come to London, you’ll let me know and we’ll go to a pub together. :)

        2. Wandering not lost*

          London Walks hosts pub crawls several nights a week. Maybe you’d enjoy that? I felt weird going into a pub for the first time by myself, but I felt really proud of myself for doing it, and I’ve met so many lovely people–and have accumulated some great stories–since then! I’m glad I pushed myself in the beginning, because it’s brought a new dimension of joy to my travels.

    2. Caledonia*

      Perhaps go on a walking tour? Or maybe ask your hotel when you book one.

      Might be worth seeing if there is anything cultural on at shakespeare and co (English bookshop in Paris) or at any of the museums etc.

    3. Sophie*

      I haven’t tried it, but I was googling and there is something called “VoulezVousDîner” where you meet up with locals and have dinner with them. (It seems that you go to someone’s home and have dinner- which may not be everyone’s cup of tea.) Sometimes Captainawkward has meetups as well in Europe. You can also see if there are any classes going on that you can sign up for- maybe something to do with food.

    4. Candy*

      I spent a year travelling alone and my best tip is to just talk to people. I know that sounds sort of obvious, but you first have completely get out of the mindset you’re in at home where you never interact with anyone unless you have to or you know them and just… start talking to strangers.

      I spent the night with a guy I met in Rome because he stopped me on the street and asked where I bought my ice cream cone. Instead of ignoring him or just pointing to the gelateria like I would have done at home, I walked him there and we talked while we ate and spent the rest of the night walking around Rome together.

      I hiked up Arthur’s Seat in Scotland with girls ten years younger than me I met on a free walking tour and overheard wondering what to do afterwards. At home, I wouldn’t have interjected, but no, I hopped over and said where I was going and they were like, cool! We’ll come too! And we spent fun afternoon wandering around Edinburgh and getting muddy in the hills.

      I hung out with a girl in Berlin I met at a show who was sort of standing around like she didn’t know anyone there either. I went up to her, asked if she was from Berlin, she said no, she’s from Vienna and just decided to fly up for the weekend and we watched the rest of the bands together and then went elsewhere for drinks after.

      I met my husband my in Paris because he was sitting alone at a cafe and I liked the look of him. At home, I would have found my own table and sat with my coffee and book or scrolled on my phone but instead I went right up to him, asked him for a light, and sat down at his table and we spent hours talking until they closed.

      Etc etc etc you get the idea… If you’re staying in a hostel, you will literally never be alone (for better or for worse, depending on the hostel!) but even if you’re not, just being unafraid to talk to people (while still trusting your guy!) is the best way to hang out with other people. Especially if they’re solo travelers too!

      1. Candy*

        I meant to say be unafraid to talk to people while still trusting your “gut” not “guy” haha

        1. anonymouse*

          Actually, this is the advice I’ve gotten from friends (including women) who have traveled alone. I know I have to push past my introverted tendencies, but the idea of it makes me feel like the kid going to their first day at a new school: shy and uncertain.

          1. Candy*

            Push yourself but remember to be easy on yourself too. One of the best parts of travelling alone is that you can get up and leave where you are and go somewhere else without having to consult anyone. When I was in Hawaii I went to a luau on the beach with this girl I met in the hostel and some guys she’d met earlier in the day. Once I got there though, I wasn’t feeling it (she was kind of snobby and the guys were awful) and so without making any excuses I just got up and left them and wandered off and did my own thing for the rest of the night and it was great. If you’re uncomfortable, there’s no shame (and usually a lot of enjoyment) in embracing your inner introvert and wandering off on your own to do whatever you want.

    5. NicoleK*

      Before I was married, I’d stay in hostels while traveling. While I didn’t become BFFs with anyone, I did meet some nice people and we’d tour some sites/attractions together.

    6. Kimmy Gibbler*

      I travel alone frequently all over the world. I’m not a hostel type person, but if you are that’s obviously a very easy way to meet others. I’m a giant foodie too, and my first night in most any new city I will do a small group food tour and have met many interesting people (both guides and tourists) that way ! (How can you not make friends while eating, drinking, and wandering around a new city for several hours with people?) Sitting at the bar when eating alone makes it easier to strike up conversations with neighbors. Also, learning to spend time enjoying your own company is a skill that I think is very important in life!

  31. Denise*

    Any advice on how to deal with dust?

    I recently moved to a major city centre, and while I love it here there is a /lot/ more dust than my previous place. I used to only have to dust once a week or so, but here I have to do it every other day to stop it building up!

    1. ThatGirl*

      Are your air filters accessible? If you’ve got access to your hvac putting in the best filters you can will help.

    2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I feel your pain. I dust my BATHROOM here (London), its insane. My stove gets dusty. Today I had a coughing fit because the big fan we had to turn on due to the heat kicked up the dust and cat hair. Ugh i miss US-style air con and air filters.

      This is better than when we lived on the high street though and we had a bunch of busses and fire trucks going past daily.

      I vacuum twice a week and wipe down surfaces as I see them. Like Ill do the bathroom quick if I am making dinner. That helps but Ive also had to come to accept that I wont be dust free again for a long time :/

    3. Girasol*

      If your doors and windows are closed and dust is still getting in, see if you can spot where it’s coming in. An unexpectedly dusty windowsill might point to a spot that needs caulking or fresh weather stripping. If you just have to have windows open, like I do, I think you have to learn to live with dust.

    4. Gingerblue*

      This is sort of anti-advice, but I’ve tried standalone air filters (the kind that are separate appliances you plug in like a fan) when I was in a similarly dusty apartment, and haven’t found them to help much. They clearly pick up a lot of stuff from the air (when I look at the filter it’s full); it’s just that it didn’t make a noticeable dent in how dusty the house was.

  32. nep*

    Animal euthanasia took center stage in my life all of a sudden in the past couple weeks. (A brief work-related line here, but not getting into a work discussion.)
    I royally screwed up a response to a question about euthanasia on a job application for PETA — I mean bad. Talk about wanting to turn back time and fix something. Ugh. Ah, well — live and learn and move on.
    And, within days, we were faced with the euthanasia decision for our dear, sweet 16-year-old kitty. We had him put down this morning. Sadness, of course. But mostly relief and gratitude. Relief that he went peacefully and things never went into crisis mode with him suffering. Gratitude for such a great cat for so many years, and the wonderful caring people at the clinic.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I’m sorry about your kitty. Just keep in mind how great his life was because of you.

    2. Djuna*

      Oh, I’m so sorry! That is such a heart-breaking decision, and it sounds like you made it at the right time for your kitty. He was lucky to have you, and to have had a long and happy life.
      Sending warmest wishes your way.

    3. Zathras*

      I’m sorry about your kitty. It’s such a hard decision but it is one of the most loving things you can do for a pet when it’s time (and they usually let you know it’s time, one way or another).

    4. Kms1025*

      I am so very sorry…facing the same thing with my 17 year old girlie…she is so frail and moves so gingerly…she picks at her food and has lost weight but otherwise she doesn’t seem to be in pain…waiting for a cue from her as to when it’s time…prepared, but dreading it…tearing up just typing this :(

      1. nep*

        So sorry. There is no feeling like it. You will know when the time comes. One thing I read on line that really helped me: Better a week too early than a minute too late. There was that sense of ‘what if we’re moving to this step too early?’ In the end it was a huge relief that we were able to avoid some kind of emergency where we’d be going to a 24-hour clinic at 2am with him in distress.

        1. nep*

          P.S. And let yourself grieve, in any way you need to. Cry. Punch a wall.
          Talk to your cat about it. As hard as it is, in the end there is relief that you helped end her suffering.

      2. nep*

        This came to mind later — What does the vet say? There was one period a year or two back when our kitty stopped eating and really withdrew. Vet found nothing in initial tests…we were weighing having further tests done and one day kitty showed interest in treats and from there started eating normally again and was fine.

    5. This Daydreamer*

      I’m so sorry about your cat! I’ve had to make that call and it’s always wrenching, even though you know it’s the best decision for your cat.

  33. MammaMia!*

    The London Pride Parade is on today! It’s absolutely buzzing and the weather’s very summery, and it looks like people are having a great time!

    1. Sparkly Librarian*

      Hmmm, maybe that’s why my London-based Facebook friends still have use of the pride response. I was envying that last night.

  34. Lizabeth*

    Thank you to whomever recommended Glamorise Sports bras. Pulled the trigger for two this morning based on two different measurement styles. The Glamorise way has me as a 40C while the Lane Bryant way has me as a 36F (??????). The difference is whether you measure above the bust or underneath the bust for the band size. I’ll report back once they arrive. What sold me on Glamorise was their return policy compared to Lane Bryant. I plan to check out Lane Bryant bras the next time I am near a mall that has a store so I can try them on before buying.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I thought I was a 38D but I am instead a 35DDD, many women are smaller band and bigger cup size than they thought.

      1. Lizabeth*

        And both sizes are different from the bra store I went to, got measured and bought bras a couple of years ago! It’s “almost” as bad as clothes sizing…sigh

        1. Melody Pond*

          Because you mentioned “a couple years ago” – when I worked at Nordstrom in college, the advice I heard from their lingerie department was to get re-sized at least every six months – because your body can change quite a bit, in a relatively short amount of time. And I’ve found that to be true – I used to wear 34DD’s, and now I’m technically a 34G (ugh). But I’ve found that supportive bras tend to give me headaches, so even though I know it’s not “technically” correct, I’ve been wearing 38DD’s or 36DDD’s.

          1. Jules the First*

            Fun fact – supportive bras that give you a headache usually means you’re carrying too much weight on your straps. The straps are just there to stop the cups from flapping around – it’s the band that does the heavy lifting (so to speak….). So I would suggest trying a 32H, hard as those can be to find (commiserations from a 30FF…)

    2. Alex*

      I have a glamorise sports bra and I LOVE it. My regular bra size was what worked for me, but if you don’t know what that is that may be more tricky.

      Also, remember that the same letter cup size is larger if the band size is larger, so a cup size in a 40 c is not all that different from an f in a size 36, in some brands that do not have Double letter sizes ( so like D, E, F, instead of DD, DDD).

      I swear bra sizing is like rocket science, especially when you get into the larger sizes!!

    3. Becca*

      Yay for sports bras! I hope what you get fits perfectly :D (I need to get a new one, but I’m dragging on it since they’re so expensive and I’d have to buy online. Blah!)

      Question: Do you know why some companies want you to measure above the bust? I have had myself measured above the bust and it’s like 4-6 inches difference from below the bust, which is where the band actually sits… Maybe I’m missing something??

  35. NicoleK*

    Hi everyone. We’re going to France in November for two weeks and spending 5 nights in Paris. For those that have been to France, what surprised you? Was there anything that you wished you had known before your trip? Any tips that aren’t mentioned in the travel guides? Thanks

    1. Stella's Mom*

      Hi, live in Europe now, been to Paris a number of times. Here are my tips….
      1. Get money at your local bank before you go. Then you have change for the metro when you land etc.
      2. When walking around, take breaks in the rain. When in a café, order a “carafe d’eau” which is plain tap water in a bottle with your food. The water is fine to drink.
      3. Watch for dog poop on sidewalks and in parks.
      4. Watch for pick pockets on metro and near tourist places and avoid the Roma walking around with clipboards, it is a distraction to pick pocket you or your companion.
      5. Take breaks in between sight seeing, enjoy the lovely food, coffee, etc.
      6. Go to the Marais district. Also go to Versailles.
      7. Always greet shop owners and cafe folks with Bonjour or Bonsoir and say Merci when leaving places. Try to order in French. Avoid politics unless they bring it up. Many of us here love Macron and Merkel and despise the US regime.
      8. If you have time, go to the Catacombs and find some off the path small cafes to enjoy. Go to the Museum of the Arab World, cafe on its roof is stunning for views and coffee. The museum is also amazing.
      9. Always the people are great. :)

      1. Sophie*

        Good tips. To add: For the metro, you can save money by purchasing a carnet of 10 tickets from vending machines.

        To echo: Watch for pickpockets. When I traveled with my family to Europe, one of us would always wear a little wallet with money, credit cards around our neck tucked into our shirt. That way if our purses were stolen, we still had money. Keep your passports and other valuables in the safe in your hotel room. When you go out of your hotel room, don’t leave any valuables/electronics out in your room. Keep your suitcases closed.

        Bring adapters for Europe for your electronics.

        1. Sophie*

          Try to also bring some nicer clothes, especially when you’re in Paris. Wear comfortable walking shoes, since you’ll probably be doing a lot of walking.

          As Stella’s Mom pointed out, try to know a few French phrases ie: “Hello” “Good bye” “Do you speak English?” “Where is the bathroom?” etc. (Some tourist-y spots require you to pay to use the toilet)

          1. NicoleK*

            I took French in high school many, many years ago. This will be my first opportunity to use the little French I retain.

      2. NicoleK*

        #7 The last time I was overseas in May of this year, people assumed we were Canadians. Probably because we’re from Minnesota. I’m totally okay with people making that assumption.

        1. blackcat*

          I speak french reasonably well, but with an unmistakable north american accent. I also speak some spanish, with a more puzzling accent as I learned from time spent living in the Andes. Most of the time when I have traveled abroad, people assume I am Canadian (particularly if they hear my french). The idea of a multi-lingual American is puzzling to many people.

          In Italy, I was almost always able to find someone who spoke one of french, spanish, or english, but I got funny looks when I would politely ask, “Do you speak english?” followed by “francais? espanol?” Once or twice, it seemed I slightly offended folks in that I was clearly from north america/the english speaking world and had bothered to learn several romance languages *other than italian* without learning any Italian at all. I can vaguely read italian, so I didn’t make learning any phrases a priority before travel.

          More on topic, do use what french you have. I have found that smooths interactions greatly in Paris. A HUGE percentage of people in Paris speak english quite well, but they won’t volunteer that.

      3. Jen RO*

        If you try to visit the Catacombs, get there super early. My parents tried three times and could never get in. I tried once, took a look at the queue, figured it’s about two hours and decided I’d rather have a drink.

    2. Zathras*

      If you visit Sainte-Chapelle (which is worth doing, it’s gorgeous) be aware that there is a courthouse in that same collection of buildings, so the restrictions on what you can bring in are stricter than the other tourist sites. None of the other places with scanners/metal detectors cared that I had a small multitool in my purse, but I wasn’t allowed to bring it in there.

      I have said this here before I think – the best view in Paris is not from the top of the Eiffel Tower, because the skyline you are looking at is missing the Eiffel Tower. The view from the steps of Sacre Coeur is much better.

    3. HannahS*

      I was just there. Since the terrorist attacks, the museums have STRICT restrictions on what you can bring inside the building. No large backpacks and no luggage. You cannot bring them in and store them in a cloakroom. Just something to bear in mind when planning your activities for before going to the hotel and after checking out.

    4. Reba*

      Yay, sounds fantastic! We have been traveling to France a lot and have really enjoyed our trips to Normandy and Brittany (done with train/bus, make sure to check if there’s a Ouigo train for your destination) and the Loire valley (unfortunately done with a car—it’s not easy to find an automatic rental car, and driving in Paris is awful!). I could honestly skip Versailles and Fontainebleau but many other well known chateaux are truly worth it; highlights for us were Azay-le-rideau (we stayed in the town) and Chenonceaux.

      One thing that has surprised me is that I’ve actually enjoyed the audioguides at museums and castles we have visited lately; usually I scorn them but they’ve been almost uniformly enjoyable. Also, the long lines at museums and sites are usually for the security, not the ticket line—though at the Louvre it’s probably worth it to buy the tickets in advance.

      When you are in Paris, don’t hesitate to take the public transit, it’s one of the best in the world! OTOH Paris has got to be one of the top world cities for walking, too. There are so many cities *within* Paris. If you have the time I’d urge you to do some intentional wandering in for example the 19th or 11th arrondissements, or hang out in a park for the afternoon. Try all the pastries.

      If you take a cab (like from the airport) ask in advance if they accept cards. I strongly recommend that you get a credit or debit card with no foreign transaction fees (we have Capital One) so you can use the card and get cash at ATMS like normal humans.

      Bon voyage!

        1. Reba*

          And! Critical tip!

          When you buy bread from the bakery, what you want is not a baguette, but “une tradition” — a special kind of baguette that is regulated by law (because France) and very superior.

    5. Marguerite*

      I always love to go to the top of La Samaritaine (Department Store. It was closed down, but has since re-opened.) It has an outdoor cafe and the best view of Paris! Plus, it’s free! (Or it used to be!)

      Otherwise I hang out around La Defense and go to Auchan (grocery store). I like this area because it is modern and not as crazy as when you go by the Eiffel Tower, etc.

      I hope you also get to take the TGV and make it down south to Nice, Marseilles etc.

      1. NicoleK*

        Not sure if we’ll have time to go to Nice and that area. I’d like to make a quick trip to Amsterdam and DH really wants to take the train so we may end up on a train somewhere.

        1. The Unkind Raven*

          I highly recommend the Rodin Museum in Paris, and shopping on the Ile de la Cite. Montmartre is wonderful. I was just in Amsterdam; do not miss the Anne Frank House if you go,but buy tickets ahead of time.

  36. Tau*

    One half of moving complete! All my stuff is in boxes (so many boxes. why so many boxes.) on the road or at sea somewhere, my letting agency has my keys back, and we flew back to and then travelled across Germany with way too much luggage for two person (to the tune of: three rucksacks, two suitcases, a folding bike and a bike bag). I’m now back at my parents’ place and ready to sleep for a week, but the second half of moving is yet to come…

    Anyone have tips for flat hunting in Germany? I contacted a bunch of landlords last week trying to arrange viewings for early next week but got no responses. I’m not sure if the problem is that viewings are done more short-notice than that, that I didn’t call (although not all of them even had a phone number), or that I don’t have some of the documents someone who’d been living in Germany would (Schufa, primarily). I also saw a few fixed viewings for Sunday and am wondering if weekend viewings like that are common. Region is Berlin/Brandenburg, if that helps.

    Man, I was excited about looking for a new place but now that I’ve reached the point of actually searching I’m ready for it to be over!

    1. Myrin*

      NB: I’m in Bavaria so who knows about regional differences but I know that at least the other south-west Länder do it the same way.

      In my experience, “early next week” is completely appropriate notice (mit Ausnahmen, weil’s ja immer wen gibt, dem irgendwas nicht passt), although it might be different in Berlin especially where I assume flats are much more in demand.
      Weekend viewings are common, especially if people come in from auswärts, but weekdays aren’t strange or unusual or anything.
      And it’s definitely something that is done by calling (again, at least in my area; I’d guess that a metropolitan environment might be different), where stuff like Schufa could immediately be explained, so I’m guessing it’s the “call” factor that’s responsible for you not having heard back? Although I’m not sure what they expect when there’s no number even there.

      1. Tau*

        Thanks! :) I was thinking that not calling might be an issue, because it was my experience in the UK that you absolutely had to pick up the phone and call. This is good confirmation, and I’ll just shrug at the places that don’t list a phone number.

  37. Myrin*

    Some of you may have read in the open thread an Tuesday that may grandma might have been on her deathbed as she’d been brought to the hospital with what looked like a severe heart attack.

    Well. She died one day later.

    It’s still so unreal. I’ve been going through the days since Wednesday like I’m in some kind of twilight zone. She’s the first person who died in my family ever since I can remember (her dad died when I was two but I don’t remember anything at all about him or that time so she’s technically the first). It’s such a weird feeling and situation.

    My sister and I will be travelling to their town early tomorrow morning. My mum is already there – she’d originally planned to visit my grandparents next Tuesday but immediately drove up there when she heard of the hospital stay. From what I can tell, she’s completely beside herself (she called me three times about the announcement they put into the paper, asking in a near-panic how she should write this and that and isn’t this better or rather that? I’m not going to tell her that, now that the ad has been in the paper today, I could immediately see a big fat typo; she’d probably start crying), as is my grandpa (which is so unusual that I can’t even imagine it; I take after him in vast parts of my personality, we aren’t very outwardly emotional or sensitive, so it’s hugely jarring to imagine him crying all day).

    In an absolutely movie-worthy twist, my mum and uncle went to my grandma’s sister later on Tuesday to tell her the news. She was devastated but seemed to be able to compose herself relatively quickly. The next day, when my grandpa and mum talked with the undertaker about the aforementioned paper announcement, they wondered how to word everything and suddenly weren’t sure which one of grandma’s sister’s hyphenated surnames came first. So my mum went outside to call her brother because she knows that he knows that and in that exact moment, my uncle called her instead and told her that grandma’s sister had died this very morning, not even 24 hours after my grandma. My mum laugh-cried that this is the typical kind of dramatics that my great-grandpa (the one who died when I was two) was known for and that he probably looked down at us and silently approved, now that he’s got his daughters with him again.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I am sorry for your losses. But I love how you framed it with great grandfather being with his daughters again. Sometimes these images are very helpful.

    2. Zathras*

      Oh, I’m so sorry to hear this. It’s really hard to lose people suddenly. I think you mentioned last week that you had stayed with them for a while not long ago, I’m glad you were able to have that time with them.

      1. Myrin*

        Yes, that’s true, and I’m really glad about that as well (although it also makes it even more unreal – I just saw her and now she’s gone).

    3. Tau*

      I’m so sorry, Myrin. What an awful thing to happen to your family. :( Although I did have to smile at your great-grandpa approving!

    4. Bye Academia*

      I’m so sorry for your loss.

      My grandfather passed away last month after battling lung cancer for about four months. I was really grateful we had some warning and were able to visit, though he went downhill faster than expected and some of my cousins didn’t make it in time. Like you, he was my first close relative to die. It was (and still is) very surreal that he’s gone.

      It’s a really chaotic time for everyone. My relatives actually ended up spelling my name wrong in one version of the obituary that went to print because they were rushing to submit it. It was kind of horrifying when I first saw it, but funny in retrospect I guess.

      I hope the funeral and upcoming time with your family can give you a good start to healing.

    5. Kms1025*

      Very sorry for your loss…your family sounds wonderful…loved the word picture of grandpa being reunited with his two daughters…condolences to you and the rest of your family

    6. This Daydreamer*

      My condolences. It’s especially rough when you lose two people at practically the same time!

    7. Lady Jay*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. :(

      My family lost my uncle years ago to cancer; he was my mom’s sister’s husband. The morning after he passed away, we woke up to a phone call that my father’s sister had passed away from ALS. It was very hard on my father, especially, who was close to both of them.

    8. Jean (just Jean)*

      Oh, I’m sorry to hear this. May you find comfort and some calm amidst the whirl of activity that (counter-intuitively) can arise after a relative dies (sharing the news, writing an obituary, making memorial/funeral arrangements).

    9. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      I’m so sorry about your grandmother. I lost my grandmother in March and it was really tough. Like you, she was the first close family member who had passed. There’s not really anything I or anyone can say, but be kind to yourself. Grief comes at odd times and you never know what may trigger a memory of her. I wish the best for you and your family!

  38. AvonLady Barksdale*

    My boyfriend left this morning for a 5-day conference, and while I will certainly miss him… my house is going to be so freaking clean, y’all. I’m about 3 hours in to a major dust-and-clean, which included putting the extension on the vacuum and sucking up all of the cobwebs on our ceilings (we live in a 100-year-old bungalow in the south, and while I love the spiders because they eat the flies, I hate the old webs they leave behind). After I eat something, I will tackle our kitchen. We keep the house pretty tidy in general, but every once in a while it needs some deep, deep dusting, especially since our dog is a sheddy bud who likes to hang out under the shed and drag dirt into the house. This is hard work (7000 steps so far!) but damn, does it feel good.

    I am doing all of this while the BBC Pride & Prejudice plays in the background. BLISS.

    1. Jillociraptor*

      Sounds like heaven! I spent a few hours last weekend cleaning the bedroom (unlike you we are extraordinarily messy, huge proponents of the floordrobe, etc.) and now all I want to do is hang out in there. It looks so nice! Enjoy your clean space and your couple of days of quiet!

  39. ThatGirl*

    I got an offer yesterday but it wasn’t the one I was expecting. I know, not gonna discuss, just a note on my mental state. I’m impatient.

    And then this morning my dad lets me know he’s in the hospital with acute pancreatitis. Six months ago he had a major heart attack and was finally doing really well so it’s a real bummer and I hate that he’s in pain.

    So I was finally happy about some good news and then got more bad news.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Thank you both. Weird update, his symptoms matched acute pancreatitis and so did an enzyme level. But they’re not sure that’s what he actually has because apparently he also has a spider bite that’s a couple days old, and theoretically a black widow bite could cause similar symptoms. Mystery!

  40. Myrin*

    And of course, now is the time for my age-old mobile phone to finally die completely. Great.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for a new phone?

    I have to say, most smartphones aren’t aestheticcally pleasing or practical to me at all. The only phone in more recent years I liked is the iPhone 5, but I don’t buy Apple stuff. Do you guys know a phone that is similar in design and size (size is especially important to me. I really don’t like these ginormous phones that’ve come out recently)?

    1. miki*

      I’d recommend iPhone SE (the quality/technology of a iPhone 6, but in a size of an iPhone 5). Took me years to switch to iPhone, and I am glad I finally did. I am with you on the size, I hate ginormous phones!

      1. mreasy*

        Seconding the SE. It feels like a fun secret because it’s the tech of a 6S or better but without being gigantor. I love mine.

        1. Handy Nickname*

          The SE is my fave – guts of the 6s with the newest a9 processor and the size of a 5 – it fits everywhere and I can use it one-handed. It’s awesome.

    2. Cruciatus*

      I no longer know what is ginormous or not. I don’t pay attention to Apple products much so I don’t know how much it compares looks-wise, but I’ve only purchased Samsung Galaxy phones and have been pleased. I’m only on the 2nd now in 4 years. My former S4 would still be OK (though not great battery life at this point) but Verizon had a deal for the S7 (my current phone) for $100 and I couldn’t pass it up (3 months later the deal was $50! D’oh!) My S7 even got plowed into a snow bank in our driveway where it was stuck for 3.5 days. I dug and dug and dug and (with the help of a metal detector) finally located it. It still works perfectly! So I’m pretty sold on it. The S8 is out now so you may be able to get a deal on the S7.

      1. This Daydreamer*

        I’ve got the S4 and love it. My next phone will almost certainly be another Galaxy.

        And thanks for the reminder to plug it in. I was going to do that when I got here a couple of hours ago.

    3. Never Nicky*

      I needed a new phone at the start of the year and I have small hands (no, not related to POTUS!) so I went with a Samsung A3 after having an S3. It’s not masdively bigger but battery life is better and it’s G4 enabled.

    4. Jen RO*

      Maybe the Nexus 5x? I had the first model and I absolutely loved it – I used it for 3 years and I only changed it because I got a new phone as a gift.

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      If you can afford it, the Google Pixel is a quite nice phone (and much better-looking and smaller in person than the photos would lead you to believe).

      1. Saturnalia*

        I continue to surprise myself with how much I love my pixel. The camera is just insane, it does all the auto adjustments in a split second (I mostly take pictures of cats, so the quick focus/adjust is crucial). My partner got the LG V20 and its supposedly superior camera(s) end up inferior because everything is manual adjustment.

        1. Dead Quote Olympics*

          You just gave me an idea — a review site of products, like the Sweethome and the Wirecutter, but for cat owners. “Autofocus on camera not fast enough to capture berserker kitten battles.” “Don’t buy this sofa, impossible to get cat hair off the upholstery. However, The CB2 Furball in Tabby upholstery makes lint rolling cat hair a breeze.” “Electrical coating on the cord of this slow cooker of too much interest for cats who are chewers, do not purchase.” I bet it would be popular.

          1. Saturnalia*

            You are a genius and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

            I actually had to give up on water fountains for my cats because one of them loved the power cables too much. Literally the only cord she chewed, but I burned through a fountain per month for the first 3 months post adoption before I gave up.

    6. Observer*

      A good resource is gsmarena. (that’s the web site, too, just a .com)

      The iPhone 5 is a tad under 5″, so you want to look for something in that size range. The site lets you search for phones based on a whole host of criteria, including size.

    7. Seren*

      I have the Moto 4 plus and really enjoy it except for it’s size. The Moto E just came out for $100 and is a 5in screen.

  41. Trixie*

    Suggestions for container to collect food scraps for composting? I want to try something at home and if it works, try at work. I’ve found a couple small containers to fit under kitchen sink and would pair with biodegradable bags. If it works, I could at least scrap the coffee grounds and recycle keurig cups. (Which reminds me, why do we even need Keurig cups for tea? Why not just use tea bags?)

    1. Jillociraptor*

      IKEA sells a tiny little trash can that can fit on your countertop that might be perfect for this. It’s called Filur. It comes in a couple different sizes, and has a lid so you can avoid the lovely composting smells in your kitchen :)

      1. LCL*

        Second the part about the lid. Otherwise it will become an incubator for fruit flies.

    2. Talvi*

      If you’ve got the space for it, you may also want to consider keeping the container for compost in the freezer – that way, you’ll avoid the problem of the smell and fruit flies entirely.

    3. On Fire*

      We always used a 5-quart plastic ice cream bucket – it has a lid to control smell and flies, plus there’s the joy of eating the ice cream first.

    4. FremontTroll*

      I tried everything but I like out of sight and company. I love the {Post}modern set up. No need for bags, the seal is tight and have had no odor or fruit flies mounting it (just a hanging bracket) under my sink. You can put the whole thing in the compost, and each one easily lasts > 1 week and doesn’t every get soggy. Can see on Amazon etc.

    5. Be the Change*

      I went to the thrift store and got an old cookie jar. Sits on the kitchen counter next to the sink and every few days I go empty it into the garden. I’ve read that the biodegradable bags don’t actually compost that well, they need the high heat of an industrial compost operation, but maybe someone else has better experience?

    6. Becca*

      The little tiny cans that kitchen stores sell are SUPER CUTE! My mother-in-law is very un-fancy and just uses plastic bags from bread, veggies, etc that can be twisted shut so the smell and bugs aren’t a problem in the kitchen. They have a big vat in the backyard where the compost decomposes until they use it in their garden.

    7. Rebecca*

      I live in a rural area, and learned that our county landfill has outdoor compost bins for sale to county residents at a big discount, as in $10 for the outdoor bin (2 pieces to put together, twist off lid and little doorway in the front to collect the compost) and it came with a small bucket for in the kitchen. I put normal every day scraps in the bucket, and in the winter when it could be tricky getting out to the bin, I use a cat litter bucket and sit it on the porch. It keeps food waste out of the landfill and as a bonus, I get compost for in my garden. Maybe this is a thing in your area?

  42. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

    We are headed to the Central California coast for two week vacation last week of September/first week of October. Ten years ago we drove Reno to Vancouver and back (up on Hwy 1 through CA, OR, WA), so this time we thought we would drive SF to LA portion of the state. We have to be in Santa Barbara for 2 October concert, but otherwise are looking for recommendations. Anyone have any good tips of dont-miss vineyards, beaches, hikes, little towns, and, especially, places to stay around Big Sur/Monterey sort of area? City-wise we expect to spend more time in LA than SF (personal preference as I really do not like the Bay Area) and I intend to eat my fill of Mexican food!

    Only bummer is that it looks like a chunk of the road is closed for a while :(

    Also any tips on bringing wine back on a long haul flight would be helpful too!

    1. Aphrodite*

      I live in Santa Barbara. What area will you be staying in? Santa Barbara? Santa Ynez? North? South? What do you like to do? I am more than happy to make suggestions and recommendations. I had my best friend here for two weeks about a month ago and we did all kinds of fun things in and around my area.

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        Oh that would be amazing! We are still sorting out flights and exact timing,but we will be in the area for about 5 days. We like to visit vineyards, and walk along the beach (although I will bet it won’t be that warm thats ok. Walking on it is fine!). Unsure where we are staying – mom is joining us for a few days and is suggesting staying in Goleta as it may be cheaper. We would prefer to rent a place and saw some nice ones on VRBO near the beach and water (East Beach area – it looks handy but is it safe and decent? My dad was grousing that places near the ocean get kind of musty by the end of the summer) Quiet is pretty paramount, I live packed in with millions of others, some quiet would be nice, but that is pretty relative at this point! Just not near a billion students.

        We like to try nice food at reasonable prices (but open to splurging), seafood is good or anything else. Excellent sushi experience would be high on the list, I had amazing sushi in a strip mall in Irvine the last time I was in CA so there must be something quality up the coast!

        Cocktailing and “having a beverage” is important for us, so a lovely bar/restaurant where we could sit out and watch the sun set with a drink would be awesome. We would like to take mom to a vineyard for an afternoon when she joins. Id love to drop a bit of the bonus cash on a really nice spa day or half day of lounging in a robe. Mom will want to rent a bike or something and toodle around, which would be fine. Hiking is ok too. Other Half likes beer breweries and tours. Essentially I want to take in some sun and surf and kick back!

        1. Aphrodite*

          Why don’t you email me? I would need to talk to a couple of people and get their suggestions for sushi since I don’t like or eat it. But I do have lots of ideas and thoughts. You can use this public address:

          1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

            Excellent! My email address has two xs in it – shall email shortly.

    2. Undine*

      The road is pretty seriously closed. We actually stayed at Big Sur River inn two weeks ago, and it was nice, because it wasn’t crazy bumper-to-bumper traffic. I think any of the places along that bit that are open right now — Fernwood, there’s a place with cottages and campgrounds — would be nice to stay,just because this is the least traffic there will be in your lifetime. If you have a tent, the very first set of campsites in the park are open. But you are talking in and out, a detour off 101.

      A few years ago I stayed up north of Monterey in Seaside, in a hotel just north of Monterey State Beach. It was a big place, you had to take a golf cart to get to your room. We weren’t right on the ocean, but you could walk to it in five minutes.

      Point Lobos is good. We went to Big Sur lighthouse, and if the prism isn’t back yet, you can walk up inside where it usually is. High wind cancels.

      South of SF, Pescadero beach and the other beaches along that strip are good. Great driftwood. The town of pescadero has an inn with artichoke soup. There’s also some nice redwood hikes, nearby. Then there’s Big Basin on the way to Santa Cruz — I slept in one of their tent cabins one spring, and could hear the coyotes.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      If you go to Santa Cruz at all, you HAVE to go to the Boardwalk. And the wharf. There used to be some nice places to eat on the wharf. Riva Fish House and Stagnaro Bros. are still there. They’re both pretty good.

    4. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      All great ideas, thanks everyone!

      I hadn’t thought of the lack of traffic being a bonus for the road being closed, but now that you point that out :)

      We don’t “camp” with a tent, but are open to any yurting possibilities or rustic lodges in the state parks ((will also consider dumpy motels near state parks). We did a yurt in OR last trip and just loved it, so were hoping to do a few nights like that again.

    5. LDP*

      I went to college in Monterey, so I can help with things to do there! The Aquarium is always a good time, and my favorite restaurant on Cannery Row is Lalla Oceanside Grille. Get the lobster nachos. Trust me, they’re amazing and I miss them terribly! If you’re looking for other good restaurants and bars, you can’t go wrong with anything on Alvarado Street. I can’t remember what street it’s on, but there’s a quieter bar called 1883 that I loved towards the end of my college days. It’s an old house, so it’s decorated to look like that.

      If you’re into history at all, you can go to the old town hall, which is where they drafted the California state constitution. You can also see the old jail where the guy that the Legend of Zorro is based on was held in.

      If you’ll be in Carmel, there’s a hotel that does a 10 cent happy hour every Sunday for 10 minutes only. I can’t remember the name of the hotel, but it’s really fun, and you get to meet locals and tourists and it’s a good time. But, you have to pay in exact change, so bring dimes!

      If you’re wanting to go to the beach and not deal with crowds, there’s one over by the Cal State campus that hardly anyone ever goes to, and it’s gorgeous. Lots of trails to walk and see the ocean.

      And this one is a little off the beaten path, but if you’re looking for good, hole-in-the-wall Mexican food, go to Papa Chevo’s in Sand City. It’s a little north of Monterey, but it’s soooo good. Get the carne asada fries. Amazing!

  43. AnnaleighUK*

    I mentioned last week that my friend was being overly clingy – he’s no longer my friend because I told him that he was being unreasonable with the amount of contact he was expecting from me (fifty messages and then a text asking why I hadn’t replied) and he just blew up at me, called me a b*tch and then deleted me off Facebook.

    Problem solved. I’m off to France tomorrow for two weeks! And I feel so much better knowing I can have my holiday without that moron peppering me with messages.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Wow. Okay then, that resolves that. Judging from his reaction, you made a good call on that. In his mind, you were either going to put up with 50 messages a day or get out of his life. There’s not much you can do with that.

    2. Myrin*

      Completely agreed with NSNR. What a relief it is to have people like that out of one’s life, though, isn’t it?

    3. Effie, less broken*

      Yay! If it had to happen at least the timing works. Be free! Enjoy France!

    4. Ramona Flowers*

      Wow. I’ve been there and I just want to say I’m glad you’re out of that.

  44. Jillociraptor*

    I’m heading off on an almost-two-week international trip this week. I have a 5-hour flight across the US followed by a 10-hour flight across the Atlantic. I’m looking for recommendations for:

    – Ways to make the flight fly by
    – Suggestions for a better sleep on the plane. I have a middle seat, but in the exit row.
    – Books, podcasts, and movies/TV shows (bonus if downloadable on Netflix) that are light and fun for travel

    1. HannahS*

      I read “Modern Romance” by Aziz Ansari and it was a pleasant, light, interesting read. Also, get a good neck pillow! I bought a pair of cheap noise-canceling earbuds and they make it SO much easier to sleep.

      1. Liz in a Library*

        The audiobook of that is fantastic, too. He reads it, and so is of course hilariously funny.

    2. Lily Evans*

      I downloaded Crazy Ex-Girlfriend from Netflix for a recent flight. I’ve seen the entire show, so I knew I’d like it, but it’s a great show that I picked for flying because it’s a musical. Those distract me much better than regular shows/movies for some reason. The two movies that I downloaded were 13 Going on 30 and The Last Five Years (two other favorites of mine).

        1. Jillociraptor*

          Oh no, this is very bad for my wallet! :) GREAT suggestions. I’ve been meaning to see The Last Five Years since the show is one of my favorites. Thanks!

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I do not sleep on planes. Well, scratch that– I’ve slept on three flights in my life, two of which were returning from big trips and my exhaustion took over. On the way there, I never sleep. So:

      Podcasts: If you haven’t listened to S-Town, DO IT. It’s engrossing. I’ve also been enjoying West Wing Weekly, and I listen to a lot of Fresh Air and WTF on flights.
      Books: Fannie Flagg has a new one called “The Whole Town’s Talking”. I love her because it’s just a good story about regular people and doesn’t require much concentration or attention.
      Netflix: On a recent trip I downloaded the first few episodes of Nurse Jackie and all of The Get Down. My flights were super short, and I kind of wish I’d had longer to watch more of The Get Down! Usually when I travel, though, I like movies and shows I’ve seen before. You can download The Great British Baking Show (Bake-Off to the UK), and honestly, I can think of no better way to pass a good deal of time.

      Have a great trip!

      1. Kat*

        Oh, S-Town! Thanks for reminding me. I have a long flight in a couple of weeks and hate flying, so podcasts might be a good idea. (I don’t sleep on planes either.) I’ve listened to Serial but wasn’t sure if I would also enjoy S-Town, but will now check it out.

    4. As if*

      Sleeping: I take Dramamine. I luckily don’t get airsick, but the Dramamine makes me the exact right amount of sleepy. I usually get a good 2-3 hours of sleep on a plane, and I feel fine afterwards. Benedryl and other sleep meds leave me foggy for hours.

    5. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      If you can afford it and your layover time makes sense then maybe look into getting lounge access for the day, either through your airline (if they offer a day pass) or through a private lounge network (Lounge Buddy – dld the app). You may think a lounge isn’t important but boy howdy, once you go private you will never go back to departure gate insanity. I have found it helps to reduce the mental stress of flying considerably, especially if you are going through one of the big international airports (like JFK or LAX). Depending on access terms, you may also be able to access a lounge at the other end in order to freshen up.

      Middle seat exit row is pretty good! I rarely sleep on planes, but you could try the inflatable neck thingy. I take Advil PM on flights and dont drink and that can help drive a few hours of sleep at least. If you havent tried this or something similar before, I recommend trying it at home prior to flying so you can test how you respond.

      Finally, if you are on a newer aircraft, particularly the 787, there ought to be better ambient control of humidity levels in the cabin, which will reduce fatigue overall and should make it more comfortable.

      1. Jillociraptor*

        Thanks for the tips! My dad used to travel for work a lot and got lounge access through his job, so I have experienced the luxury that is the airline lounge. Unfortunately, for this trip, I’m the point person for about 30 participants to make sure they make the group connecting flight :)

    6. Lizabeth*

      The Stephanie Plum audio books by Janet Evanovich (sp?) are great to listen to – the gal that reads them is perfect. They’re my go-to when driving.

    7. As if*

      Also, check out Seat Guru to find out what entertainment you’ll have on your plane. On my recent flights, the planes have had individual entertainment units for each person, full of games and a pretty impressive film and tv library. I’ve been able to occupy myself just with their options for hours.

    8. nep*

      Eye mask always helps me sleep better on a flight. And of course something to support head/neck. I don’t use ear plugs but I guess that helps some people.
      Happy travels.

  45. Aphrodite*

    Woohoo! Over the last week I had removed all the books from the 9 foot by 4 foot by 30 inch “bookcase” in the living room. I had thought that came to about 200 books. Was I wrong; it is about 450 books. I had left them in piles out of the way for when I was willing to get to them. (Note: I originally started out with about 2,00-2,500 books several years ago and have winnowed them down over time, some due to financial need when I was unemployed and other times just because …) But this weekend, Apartment Therapy had as its weekend assignment to clean out your library bookshelves–and I have plunged ahead with enthusiasm.

    I ended up skipping breakfast and starting on my “keep” and “toss” piles. It took about three hours but I am now done. There are more than three-quarters of the books, including most of the fine art and photography books, near the kitchen door waiting to be put the car’s trunk. (It’s too hot today to do it so I plan to do it tomorrow morning before I turn the air conditioning on and don’t worry about the door being propped open.)

    More than three quarters of them, well over 300! I am beyond thrilled and excited and honestly if I didn’t see them when I went into the kitchen I wouldn’t have any idea what is in those piles. I do not miss them already. It actually wasn’t too hard for me and there was rarely any second guessing. What I have left, about 100-110 books, is perfect, though a few more may go out as I arrange them. I can see that I am going to have lots of empty space on the shelves, places where I can place some beloved objects, and still have white space to provide serenity.

    I will take some of them to our park’s library and I will let some people at work take ones they’d like from the trunk, but most will go to my favorite thrift store. It’s a small store that does enormous community good but I do worry a bit about overwhelming them. They may need me to drop off only some at any time so I am going to think about where else I might donate them

    But I am truly happy they are now out of my life and my home. I feel so free!

    1. Never Nicky*

      When I moved out of the city I had so many books to give away that there were too many for any one charity shop. Fortunately the suburb I lived in had half a dozen charity shops so we dropped a couple of boxes off at each!

    2. Christy*

      Congratulations! I just got rid of about 1/3 of my books and it was so freeing. They now all fit on two bookcases. It’s such a good feeling.

    3. E*

      I know I’m late posting, but you might also check for nearby “free little libraries” which are boxes publicly posted where folks can take a book, leave a book, all for free.

  46. EA*


    So my boyfriend’s old boss is recruiting him for a job in San Francisco. We live in Boston now. He is in tech and the job seems like an incredibly opportunity for him. It’s also with his old boss who he knows and trusts. We have been talking about moving to another city for a long time, and I can probably find a job anywhere.

    I’m very nervous about San Francisco though. I am into saving money, so the city just seems debilitatingly expensive. He would be making more money, so it might even out. Does anyone live in SF that wants to comment? Are there cheaper areas? Is SF so great it makes up for it? We are in the beginning information gathering part of this adventure.

    1. all aboard the anon train*

      I live in Boston and I just recently visited my brother in San Fransisco. I was absolutely shocked at how much more expensive SF was compared to Boston, and that’s saying something since Boston is also a HCOL city. My brother was making good money in Boston before he moved (enough to buy here) and his new salary in SF was $20K more than his one from Boston, but it gets him less because of the cost of living. He thought it would even out, but cost of living eats up most of the raise. It was that big of a difference. He’s in tech as well.

      He regrets moving to SF because of how expensive everything is (when I visited, I was also shocked at how much more expensive even something like food is – I paid almost double for food compared to the east coast).

      I can’t give you much advice on living in SF, but I can say that my brother – and other friends who moved from Boston or NY to SF – have struggled with the cost of living increase, even after getting salary increases. Which is insane to me since both Boston and NY are on the higher end of the scale. I’ll also say that while I enjoyed visiting the city, I really didn’t like the vibe, but I know that’s a subjective thing.

      1. Aphrodite*

        I agree with you about the costs and I am a California native. SF just beats everything else. I suggest you begin seriously browsing the San Francisco CL housing sections to begin to get a feel for what you are going to see. My best friend, who lives in Walnut Creek, an easy BART trip into the city, has a grown daughter living in SF. Her daughter pays $700 a month for a tiny, really tiny, bedroom in a two-bedroom place.

        I haven’t been there in years since I don’t like living among high rises in an earthquake-prone area. Plus, downtown is really, really dirty and the fact that SF wants to be a sanctuary city means that it is probably going to get even more crowded. Sure, it can be a great and fun and beautiful city but it’s not all that. Keep your eyes open and look with a residents’s, not a tourist’s, eye.

        1. alex*

          “My best friend, who lives in Walnut Creek, an easy BART trip into the city, has a grown daughter living in SF. Her daughter pays $700 a month for a tiny, really tiny, bedroom in a two-bedroom place.”

          Real talk: that’s a steal.

      2. Anonymous Educator*

        My brother was making good money in Boston before he moved (enough to buy here) and his new salary in SF was $20K more than his one from Boston, but it gets him less because of the cost of living. He thought it would even out, but cost of living eats up most of the raise.

        Cost of living is definitely higher, and it’s not just the rent. Even little things like sales tax (much higher in SF and in California), and there is tax on clothes here. Gas is more expensive (if you have a car). BART is more expensive than the T, and BART is actually more like the commuter rail than the T. It doesn’t go all around the city—it mainly goes from the suburbs to SF and then has only a few stops in SF in the downtown and southwestern parts of the city.

        Honestly, I didn’t really like Boston all that much. If you like Boston, stay there. No reason to live in SF unless you really love SF.

        1. all aboard the anon train*

          Regarding your last paragraph, I think this is an important thing to consider after cost of living. Not everyone likes every city and the atmosphere and style of a city can definitely impact your life. SF isn’t a city I loved for a variety of reasons, and I know moving there would make me miserable, and the same can be said about other cities I’ve visited or considered moving to.

          EA, if you can afford it, I’d recommend visiting before moving. You don’t want to move and then find out you hate the city’s food/neighborhoods/style/culture/etc.

          1. EA*

            Oh, we will be visiting. We are in the way beginning of this. He talked to his old boss and had a phone interview, and they are flying him out there. They said it would be a multi- trip recruiting process, so if he progresses I would eventually go.

            The job is in Palo Alto, and I am fine living in a suburb. I’ve done a lot of internet research today, and it seems like that area is cheaper then SF proper. According to internet cost of living calculators it is 20 percent more expensive then Boston. Does that seem about right?

            And I dislike Boston for a lot of reasons, we have been looking at other cities. When this job came around and it was a 50 percent salary increase it seemed good enough to consider moving there, but I have a lot of hesitations, and a lot of things to think about.

            1. Amy*

              My husband and I are from the East Coast and have lived in Palo Alto for the last several years for his job in tech. Palo Alto and Menlo Park/Atherton (the town just north of PA) are extremely expensive, on par with San Francisco. You can find housing marginally cheaper if you live a little further away (like Redwood City or some areas to the south) and your commute will still be pretty easy. If you live in the East Bay and commute on the Dumbarton bridge over to PA you can find housing a bit cheaper, but again, still very pricey compared to pretty much anywhere else except NYC. Plus the bridge commute. Ugh.

              Here are some pros and cons of Palo Alto and the surrounding area:

              – Very safe (excluding East Palo Alto), clean, and beautiful. You can tell there’s a lot of money around.
              – Beautiful weather. Pretty much in the 70’s and sunny most of the time, and it only really rains in the winter.
              – Great food and lots of options, both in terms of groceries and places to eat out. And awesome year-round farmers markets.
              – Lots of interesting, ambitious people, most of whom work in something tech-related. Many are transplants from all over the country (and internationally) so you won’t be the only newbie.
              – Easy access to a lot of cool outdoorsy day trips like hiking in the mountains, heading west to the beach, going south to Santa Cruz or Monterey, going north to wine country or Yosemite or Lake Tahoe, etc. Lots of people enjoy going up to San Francisco for the museums and culture, but I’m not a huge city person so we didn’t go up much.
              – Tons of parks. Seriously, so many beautiful parks in Palo Alto.
              – You can download an app to get anything delivered. Anything. Anytime. It’s incredible.

              – As everyone has said, extremely expensive housing. And it’s extremely competitive to get something decent. Hordes of people will show up to open houses for desirable apartments with resumes and cash in hand, and will bid up the rent. To give you an idea, we lived in a small, somewhat run-down 1-br apartment with a small yard, walking distance to downtown, and paid $2600/month. The landlord increased our rent to $2800/month after a few months but we stuck with it because it was honestly a great deal for what it was. We only got the place because we knew the previous tenants and they transferred their lease to us.
              – Getting around is difficult. The roadways just weren’t designed to handle the amount of traffic that exists now that the area has gotten so crowded. It’s not as bad as Los Angeles (IMHO) but you seriously have to plan around the traffic patterns if you want to get anywhere. Public transit is pretty limited; you really have to have a car to get around. A lot of people do commute by bike, though, if that’s your thing.
              – It’s super suburban. This could be a pro or a con; it was a pro for us, but I can see how a lot of young people might find it boring. There’s not much in terms of nightlife and a lot of the cultural events skew toward families with children or older folks. There are moms in head-to-toe lululemon pushing giant strollers everywhere. The people I know who wanted more of a 20-something scene tended to head up to SF on the weekends.
              – This might be purely a “me” thing, but the scenery and overall ambiance is so different than the east coast. For one thing, it is SO DRY here. Unless you water the heck out of your lawn it will look like a potato chip from May to November. The foliage outside of curated yards and parks is, for the most part, brown. I miss the lush green-ness of the east. The architecture is also different – lots of stucco ranch-style houses, and tan/brown paint – and I miss the old clapboard and brick houses back east. And, of course, there aren’t really seasons here. Yes, it gets a bit chillier and rains more in the winter, but overall it’s not that different. I miss seasons. This is all purely aesthetic, but it does still make me feel like this place isn’t really home. FWIW.

              Good luck to you. It sure is expensive here, but there are also some great things about the area. I dunno, if I were you I’d give it a shot as long as you feel like you can swing it financially.

              1. Jessi*

                I too live in Palo Alto! I’ve been here 6 months and this list from Amy is pretty much spot on.

                i too can’t believe how expensive some stuff is (and I’ve lived in Switzerland before). I think food here can be super pricey and our utility bill is through the roof. I would ask for example utility bills from anyone in the area to help you budget. Many people don’t live here and commute in for work as its so so expensive here

    2. Sam Foster*

      SF native here: I wouldn’t even try to live in SF. It might be a possibility if you can find a rent-controlled place that you can afford today. Instead, get the transit maps and schedules for BART, CalTrain and other regional transit districts and start looking at options. Some communities have express or otherwise dedicated buses to get folks in and out of The City. The ferry from Vallejo, buses from the Pinole area, AC Transit runs expresses from various parts of Oakland/Berkeley, etc.
      Additional two cents: Be careful renting from some of the nation-wide apartment chains. I don’t know any one who has had a good experience. The least bad thing I’ve heard is that the first year’s lease might be affordable but second and thereafter are ridiculously marked up. Most bad was the place that residents referred to as a murder hole after a number of people were knifed in the supposedly secure stairwells.

    3. Simone R*

      I live in the Bay Area as a graduate student (I make under 40K) and I moved from Boston. I’m also a big saver and I was worried about choosing this school because of that. However, it really hasn’t been that bad! I had good savings when I moved so even though I put a little away each month I’m not too worried about building savings and I feel like I can live without pinching pennies. I pay $240/month in rent more here than in Boston (my apt in Boston was definitely under market rate) and have 1 more roommate but a lot more space. I wouldn’t want to live like this forever but for 5 years it’s fine!

    4. Ann O.*

      Don’t live in the city. Figure out the commute you can tolerate and commute. Everywhere is expensive in the Bay Area, but the actual city is simply ridiculous at this point. Depending on where the office is, I recommend looking south as well as north. If I could do my move all over again, I would live in Pacifica. It’s relatively affordable (by Bay Area standards), close to the city, and full of beautiful, ocean views.

      Everything else depends on what you like to do. Because the weather is so nice and there’s so much local produce, some things can even out. For outdoorsy people, there are lots of free or low cost hike/bike trails and interesting street festivals. For people who like to cook, the farmer’s markets aren’t necessarily cheaper but the quality can be great. If you’re into crafting/STEM type crafting, there are tons of makerspaces and meetups.

      The weather is likely to be a huge quality of life step up unless you love winter (although Tahoe is accessible for weekend winter).

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      I think SF is so great it makes up for it, but I’ve been living here a long time. If you are new to SF, you may not feel the same way, but, yes, it is expensive as hell. I believe it just edged out NYC recently on that front.

      Keep in mind there are cheaper places in the Bay Area to live than SF, but there are no cheap places to leave. You’re not going to find a Waltham, Salem, or Quincy around here. The suburbs are expensive. The North Bay is expensive. The peninsula is expensive. Even the East Bay has gotten expensive. I’ve got friends moving out to Castro Valley to find something “affordable” (still very expensive) to raise a family.

      And public transit out here is horrid. People in Boston complain about the T, but MUNI is much, much worse. BART is marginally better than MUNI. Road traffic and BART crowding has gotten so much worse in the past few years, too. Used to be if 101 was jammed up you could take 280, but 280 is also jammed up. Commuters are now taking BART backwards to be able to get on the train, because it’s too crowded to get on at Embarcardero, Montgomery, or Powell.

      All that said, if you’re frugal and you want to save only a little money and not a lot of money, you could probably make it work. Both my spouse and I work in education and don’t make anywhere near what our tech-employed friends make, but we still pay the bills and occasionally eat out. Our rent is ridiculous, but that’s just how it is.

      1. Mushroom*

        I live in Castro Valley. I am amazed that 2 months ago, a house one street over from mine sold for $100,000 over asking price after getting into a bidding war with 12 buyers. Wow.

    6. Me2*

      If you look to commuting on the Cal Train be advised that the express trains stop running very early in the day, I think the last one south is about 5:50. If you miss it, that means you’re facing an hour and a half to get to Mountain View. Make sure that his salary bump includes enough for housing and parking and commuting. My relatives who live in the South Bay area have two incomes totaling close to $175,000 a year and they can only afford a 900 square foot u