weekend free-for-all – August 5-6, 2017

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

Book recommendation of the week: The Windfall, by Diksha Basu. If Jane Austen were writing in modern-day India, it would maybe be this.

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

{ 1,084 comments… read them below }

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      This week ended up not being too bad until yesterday, when I had entirely too many things scheduled at once (locksmith! shower glass people! window glass person! handyman! carpet installer! furniture deliverer!) and got stuck at the new house with nothing to sit on for nine hours, in part thanks to a very slow locksmith who was there until well into the night. And we had a tree split apart in a major storm on Thursday night, and now I am wondering about the wisdom of owning so many trees. But the painting is finished and looks great, and that’s what I cared about most.

      The move itself is on this coming Tuesday, so this coming week I’ll probably do a repeat of this week, in terms of having fewer regular posts. (I typically write most of the posts for the week on Monday, so even if I have time later in the week, I doubt I’ll have time to write a full slate of posts on Monday.)

      This weekend there are so many bookcases to put together, and I cannot summon the energy. And apparently all the ivy covering our trees in the back, which I adore, is supposed to be removed before it kills our trees?

      1. Phlox*

        Yep, English ivy is a tree killer here, might be officially classified as an invasive. The vines strangle the trees. If you have any porcelinberry that should go too – invasive vine that cuts off light to the canopy and womps on trees causing weight issues too. Goats are great for ground level removal. The other option is to cut bands in the ivy around each tree, I think about two feet in height at every connection between ground and canopy. It’ll cut off nutrients to the ivy and the canopy ivy will fall off naturally at some point.

      2. Artemesia*

        After the move where our furniture all went to Florida when we were going to Ohio (post grad students with small load added onto another load and they screwed it up — didn’t find it till our shabby stuff was being unloaded at some fancy place in Jacksonville and I imagine the horrified homeowners yelled ‘OMG get that crap off our lawn’.) we have always carried in our car, a couple of beach chairs, pots and pans and of course the computers. We sat on the beach chairs for a couple of months before our ordered living room furniture arrived for our last place. They were actually very comfortable. You never want to be in big empty place with nothing to sit on.

      3. fposte*

        Even in your milder climate, the ivy isn’t likely to be killing your trees, like, tomorrow. You could probably even hold off the attack on that until next year without terrible outcomes. Plus if there’s going to be a lot of hacking around you might want to wait until it’s cooler for outside work anyway.

      4. Sibley*

        People love ivy. Ivy kills plants and can destroy brick/stone walls. My conclusion: People are stupid.

        Get rid of the ivy.

          1. Bryce*

            Oh man, now I remember the house we grew up in back in the desert. We’d just toss clipped branches over the back fence because Mom was the gardener and came from a place with water, so that stuff would just decompose. In the desert it dries out and practically petrifies, and while some deadwood is important for microbes, the pile kept getting bigger and too much of a bother to take care of and became a rat den.

        1. Bryce*

          Ivy is all right in some places, annoyingly persistent in others, and an invasive blight on the landscape in others. Know your zone. Back in NM I’ve seen large trees bent double by Virginia creeper.

          One of the best starting points for cultivating a yard/garden is to learn the local invasives. Some garden shows will have folks at a booth whose entire job is to help folks manage that, and while it can be frustrating when you like the look of a plant, it really does make a difference in the long run. Particularly raspberry bushes.

      5. Beatrice*

        If the trees worry you, think about having a tree service come out and take a look at them. They can identify and remove weak and damaged limbs before they fall in a storm, trim trees so they handle strong winds better, and tell you if a tree might need to go because it’s susceptible to blowing over or splitting in bad weather.

        We had a 60 ft maple blow over in a storm a few years ago…it missed our house by 4 feet, and only missed our neighbor’s deck because the top came to rest in one of their big trees. The storm blew over so many trees that it took 4 days for the tree removal company make time come out and cut it up (trees that were actually in/on houses took priority), and we didn’t dare tackle it ourselves because it wasn’t completely on the ground and it was far too dangerous. Worse – the tree removal was less than our insurance deductible, so having it removed was all out of pocket for us anyway. Having someone look at it proactively and tell us it needed to come down would have been around the same cost, and we would have been spared the headache and scare of it falling.

      6. Katie the Fed*

        Sounds like you live in my neighborhood – we have TONS of mature trees and they do like falling in storms. I would recommend having someone out to assess all your trees – if you need a recommendation I have a great tree company. They’ve taken down a few big trees and we’re going to do one more in the next year.

  1. Anu*

    Grew up in India before moving to the US, and second the recommendation for The Windfall. Really manages to capture something about the social fabric of India and how it is changing. And really funny in many places.

    1. nep*

      I will certainly check out this book. Sounds great.
      Just curious — did you read Behind the Beautiful Forevers (Katherine Boo)? If yes, what do you think of it?

      1. Anu*

        I didn’t, though my husband (who’s not Indian) did. He says he liked it but was not wowed by it. I would have liked to read it, but was afraid of being too depressed by it. My impression is that it is accurate in its depiction.

  2. Anonymous Educator*

    Kind of depressed about house hunting in San Francisco. For a number of reasons, we can’t go to the East Bay, but the options in SF and Daly City are kind of ridiculous. One one-bedroom condo we were looking at recently was originally listed for $1 million, got re-listed for $799,000, and then eventually sold for $980,000. Spouse and I have toyed with the idea of leaving for another city, but we really want to stay, so we’ll probably end up renting forever (yes, even the rents are ridiculous, just not as ridiculous as the mortgage payments).

    1. FormerLW*

      You have my total sympathy. I’m in a similar situation, although DH and I are only tied to our city by our careers and would move if we found jobs elsewhere. No one our age and in our social circle has purchased a home in our city without significant family money (they’re candid about this). And we’re not exactly spring chickens, either.

    2. Life is Good*

      I feel for you, AE. My husband and I lived in the Bay Area in the late 80’s and the rents and home prices were just as ridiculous, then. Among other places there, we lived in Walnut Creek (East Bay) and even there, our rent was so high, my take home pay was what paid that…period. And, a pretty middle class area of WC at that. We were there for my husband’s first job out of college (also an educator). It is a lovely area, but we really wanted to start a family and realized we would never be able to afford to buy a home there. A “tear down” at that time was something like $300k. We had to move on to a cheaper COL area years ago. No real regrets, but we do miss the easy access to stuff to do in SF. It is a beautiful area.

    3. Old Biddy*

      I’m so sorry! I lived in the South Bay for most of my life but left in 2010. Could you wait it out? The market is overdue for a downturn.

    4. Kat G., Ph.D.*

      I’m in South Bay…totally feel you. Everyone is saying to buy ASAP because prices are going to go up once Google builds its new campus in SJ, but we can’t! Everything is too expensive! We moved here for jobs that we absolutely adore, but they’re not tech jobs, so we don’t really make enough to buy. Probably ever. We’re also in fields (academia and research, respectively) where moving around is less common and much more cumbersome. Argh.

    5. neverjaunty*

      Renting is perfectly normal and practically inevitable here, unfortunately. I assume you all work in SV?

    6. Paul*

      My wife looked at silicon valley for work but after checking out rent and houses, that was a hard nope. Worked for me, as that area isn’t my type of place.

      Our house in flyover country was literally 1/10th the cost it would have been there. I don’t know how the hell anyone can afford to live there anymore.

      1. AfterBurner313*

        SF is turning into the Vancouver of the south. If you want to openly weep at home prices, look at Vancouver. It makes SF a bargin.

    7. Artemesia*

      My daughter and son in law left SF and moved to Chicago because they felt they would never be able to afford a home and family in SF even with good jobs. They now have a home and family in the great city of Chicago.

    8. Ann O.*

      What about further South like Pacifica?

      Yes, homes are ridiculous here. It seems to be topping out, but I keep expecting there to be a crash or course correction. It’s an unsustainable situation.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Yeah, we’ve looked at Pacifica, but we haven’t found too many affordable places down there either. Definitely have to see if the market makes any kind of shift.

    9. Alinea*

      I feel you! My headquarters is in the Bay Area and most live near Sacramento and commute in, even the supervisors who make in the low 100,000s.

      I’m in Southern CA and I too feel like we’ll rent forever. Reaching that 20% seems like it’ll never happen no matter how much we save.

    10. Merci Dee*

      I saw a chart online a couple of days ago that talked about the difference in cost between renting and owning. In the eastern US (just over 50% of the map), it was cheaper to own. The western portion of the country, though, showed a tendency to be cheaper to rent. There were a handful of states where they were about the same, but not many.

    11. SL #2*

      My cousin bought a modest 2-br house in Mountain View 15 years ago. Despite working in tech, it’s more than likely he’s going to hold onto that house until he dies because he can’t afford anything larger nowadays. Best of luck with your house hunt! I remember the stress of it in 2014, and I was only looking to rent back then.

      1. Corporate Cynic*

        My husband and I live in South San Francisco (just south of Daly City) – I always get depressed when I consider that my childhood home in central Pennsylvania is twice as large and 25% of the price….

  3. DrPeteLoomis*

    TL;DR: How do I, an adult beginner, learn how to sing?
    I’m hoping someone on here might have some advice for me. I’m interested in getting some singing lessons, but I’ve never been a “singer” and I have often thought that I just really don’t have a voice for singing. So, I’m a true beginner with no experience and no desire to learn to be virtuoso or anything like that. I’m really just looking to learn how to use my voice correctly and carry a tune with confidence. Maybe do karaoke without making people’s ears bleed. I’ve searched on Craigslist, but I can’t tell if any of those people would really want to take the time to teach someone like me – they all seem to be about training/teaching real singers. So, does anyone have any advice on how to identify a good voice/singing coach for someone like me? Or other good resources I should be looking into?

    1. Chocolate Teapot*

      Would starting with an amateur choir or choral society help? I am thinking of the sort of social singing groups. (Any of Gareth Malone’s choirs as an example)

    2. Fiennes*

      Plenty of vocal coaches will work with amateurs and in fact love to do so. If you’re interested in lessons, maybe approach a local music store; they’ll probably know teachers happy to take on a beginner.

      1. FDCA In Canada*

        Oh yes–lots of vocal coaches love to take on pure amateurs because they can start from scratch instead of starting with training bad habits out of someone! Definitely ask, most people are very happy to take on beginners.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Thirding this, based on a friend who sings. Sort of like tennis or golf pros who are delighted to work with a beginner and not undo years of ingrained habits.

          Anecdote: Neither my husband nor I can sing. But when we had our first child we sang to her, as one does, and both of us became better singers. Not that anyone would want to listen to us, but practice alone makes a surprising difference.

    3. Singing in the shower*

      hey, I did that over the summer. I got some names from friends, and looked at music schools. I ended up getting a name from a friend of a friend (neither of which sing or do anything musical). I emailed them and told them I had zero training and was super nervous about singing in front of someone. She was fine with taking me on. She started from zero, and we basically always start with a review of posture, although now it takes a few minutes and not as long as it did the first time. It’s been a ton of fun, I hope you find your teacher!

    4. Heartlover1717*

      Join a choir or a community choral group. There are many that take volunteers regardless of vocal ability, and you will pick up quite a few skills just being part of the group!

      The main thing is to develop your ear; LISTEN and try to grasp how and why words and phrases are sung in the manner the director desires. Ask questions – especially of the better singers in the group. Listen, listen, listen.

      Another idea: Visit meetup (d0t) com, search under music for “group singing” and then “singing for beginners”. Find a group in your area that fits your interest. Join them and have FUN learning to sing!

      1. Florida*

        agree with the choir and community choral group suggestion. If you live near a college, they probably have a community choir. There are enough good singers so that the group sounds good. But there are plenty of people of all abilities.

        Also, a lot of churches have very good choirs. As a broad stereotype, I always think the more traditional the church is, the better their music program is. There are exceptions, but that’s good rule of thumb.

        1. Florida*

          Oh, one more suggestions… if you can’t find a community choir, the local community college probably has a chorus. You might have to register as a student to participate, but they probably let anyone in.

    5. the gold digger*

      Primo and I took a singing class through our community rec department. It was inexpensive and a lot of fun. Primo is already a fabulous singer, but he has never had any training. (On one of our first dates, he took me to karaoke to hear him sing and I was really worried I would have to lie and tell him how great he was.)

    6. Ferris*

      One of my teenagers loves music but is totally off key. I did a little research and they now have apps that will listen to your tone and show you visually if you’re too high or too low so you can visually learn to get to the right place. They say that anyone can learn to sing on key with this kind of feedback. We downloaded a free app for him called Sing Sharp. I don’t know if he’s used it yet, so I can’t say if it really works, but it’s an interesting idea.

    7. OtterB*

      Seconding the recommendations to look into a chorus of some kind. I joined a women’s Sweet Adelines chapter about 5 years ago (when I hadn’t sung with a group since junior high more than 40 years ago) and the organization as a whole really emphasize musical education for its members. I believe the men’s organization, the Barbershop Harmony Society, does a lot of educational events also.

      Looking for a vocal teacher, you might try the choral music department at your local high school or middle school. Some of the teachers also teach private vocal lessons.

    8. OperaArt*

      If you’re in the US, look for a teacher who’s a member of NATS, the National Association of Teachers of Singing. You can go to their website to get a list of teachers in your area.
      Every voice teacher I know has some adult students who are complete beginners. Don’t let your beginner status stop you.

    9. Artemesia*

      My husband started his amateur singing career as an adult and has had no trouble hiring vocal coaches over the years. He sang in 35 operas in the chorus with an occasional solo line, sang in the symphony chorus of our local symphony and began with a very musically serious church choir that sang classics i.e. Bach, Mozart etc. After we retired and moved he sang in a local group for a couple of years. It was really the very great pleasure of most of his life — he had his profession by day but could be a singer by night.

      1. Artemesia*

        PS people in the singing business are often just scraping by financially and private students are highly valued as a source of income.

    10. Merci Dee*

      Here’s another option — check around with churches in your area. Some of the music directors may provide lessons for singing or piano. The music leader at a former church did lessons like this for really great prices.

      1. Liane*

        My choir director offer lesson in piano, keyboard, & organ. She will also teach you to sing. In fact, she has been known to offer piano/keyboard lessons in trade if you agree to sing in the choir.

        PS: Don’t worry about the ” I’ve never been a ‘singer’ and I have often thought that I just really don’t have a voice for singing” stuff. I spent my childhood playing in band but being barely able to keep in tune while singing. But I started in church choir as a college student, and now 30 years later, I am a decent alto with what I have been told is a large range. My voice is not solo quality, but oh well. When I want to do solos, I pull out my beloved tenor recorder.

        TL;DR: Just do it and have fun

    11. Kerr*

      Community colleges with music departments may have singing classes! Took several, loved them. Private teachers would probably be happy to teach beginners, too. (Some of the class teachers also taught privately.)

    12. JanetM*

      If you are near a college or university with a music program, you could call the department and ask if the music pedagogy students take outsiders as projects. That’s what I did (a friend was finishing up her BA in music and needed to demonstrate teaching two different pupils with different backgrounds). It was amazing, and it cost me nothing but time.

      The most terrifying part for me was taking a lesson in front of her class and professor, but they weren’t rating me; they were critiquing her teaching skills. (This was further made embarrassing by the fact that I’d had ingrown toenails on both feet cut back a few days before and was walking around in bedroom slippers with bandaged toes peeking out.) After the lesson, I asked the professor if I could make a statement, and said, “I’ve been afraid to sing in front of people for more than 30 years. I’ll never be a great singer, but I’m better than I was, and I have so much more confidence. She gave me back my voice.”

    13. Anonak*

      If you can afford a vocal coach, I would suggest starting there. I started in choir in junior high, and while it was certainly beneficial, by the time I started private lessons my junior year of high school, I had already developed a number of bad habits.

      In my opinion, this is due to the fact that in choirs, voices need to blend, but untrained voices don’t always know the best way to do this and directors cannot take the time to instruct individuals. That said, this is just my own (non-professional) opinion.

      (That said, if vocal coaching is not in the budget or once you do start lessons, definitely go out and join a choir!)

    14. HannahS*

      A “real” teacher should actually be able to help you! Anyone who teaches beginners should be able to teach you fundamentals, because they’re the same whether or not you intend to use them professionally. Kind of like if you wanted to learn how to swim as an adult; it doesn’t matter whether you’re looking for recreation or nursing a desire to win the Olympics at 40, you’re going to learn how to float, then kick, then a crappy front crawl, which your teacher helps you refine. Then you either go, yes, this is good enough for me and stop taking lessons, or your teacher can continue to refine your stroke indefinitely. But either way, you learn the front crawl relatively early. (I gave that whole extended thing in case you’re picturing a stern teacher telling you you’re not allowed to sing actual songs until you get these arpeggios right and it’s really not like that!)
      All of the singing teachers I had through the Royal Conservatory of Music (so, serious, classical) also taught adults who just loved singing and music, and often wanted to be able to sing pop, jazz, or church-choir songs. No matter how serious the ads sound, with almost no exceptions, the singing teachers you’re seeing on Craigslist are mostly teaching beginner and intermediate students. This is for a few reasons. One, adults who want to be professional singers study with either retired opera singers or faculty in universities/conservatories. Two, for singers, you pretty much can’t become a truly advanced singer until your voice stops changing, at which point you’re an adult. You either give it up, or study at an aforementioned university/conservatory. Third, the more accredited they are, the more serious their students are, so if they’re not listing affiliation with professional organizations or educational institutions, they’re probably a lovely person with a music degree. That qualifies them to teach you a lot, and they’re knowledgeable, for sure! But they’re probably teaching a lot of people who love music and want to improve their ability, not become virtuosos. Fourth, a relative of mine–a classically trained opera singer with a private studio (so, not at a university) taught a kindergarten teacher who just wanted to be able to carry a tune to sing with his students. I know my relative didn’t think that this guy was some dilletante. Which brings me to my last point. Music nerds are SO NICE. Like, SO nice. They are DELIGHTED to teach you! They are SO happy to share what they love with other people. (Also? The pay isn’t great. They want students. And adults can be a lot easier to teach than kids.) Are there snots who think they’re too good for amateurs? Sure, but their egos are too big to advertise on Craigslist. I say, meet with a teacher, tell them your goals, try three lessons, and see if you like them or not.

      TL;DR Go with the people you’re seeing on Craigslist! They’re not too good for you.

    15. Sam Foster*

      Do you have a community or junior college near you? It’s been a few years but when I attended they had a large selection of classes for various areas of music including beginner vocal instruction.

  4. EA*

    As I posted yesterday, I think I will be laid off in the future.

    How does one prepare financially for this? I think I have some lead time (a month or 2). I have substantial savings (I have low living expenses and with a bare-bones budget I can last a year). I also have a partner with a good income. Yesterday I looked into insurance, and it seems like I can get on his insurance as a domestic partner, even though we are not married. I’m thinking of applying for weekend jobs now, so I will have something to hold me over, and obviously actual job hunting. I know I am in decent shape, but I am very very financially conservative, and my savings took me years to build up.

    Am I missing anything?

    1. Language Student*

      Any bills that you could change to an annual payment and pay in advance? Or maybe you could credit accounts or buy pre-paid cards for groceries and such, so you don’t need to dip into savings more than you’d like.

      1. Book Lover*

        I am sure you mean well, but I think this would just lock up money that EA has in a way that means less flexibility, and I don’t see how that would help?

        EA, it sounds as though you are in a good position. I think that starting to job hunt while you have a job is probably the way to go (not necessarily looking for a second job, but looking for a new first job, unless there is a strong reason not to do this). I think discussion with your partner is also important, figure out how your partner would feel if you didn’t have a job for a while, how costs will continue to be divided.

        1. Language Student*

          True, it’s something that you need more context to know if it would actually be helpful or not. It helped me *a lot*, when I lost my job in the process of moving, because my monthly outgoings were a little lower from paying annually instead of monthly (plus it saved a little extra). As for pre-paid cards, paying when I had more money to spare made it easier to afford essentials on rough weeks, and little luxuries on easier weeks, without it taking away from a more limited income that *had* to be spent on bills and travel, and since I’d paid in advance it wasn’t coming from my income that month. So it definitely can be helpful – but it may or may not be helpful for EA specifically.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      Start your budget reductions NOW. Save as much as possible, be ruthless and eliminate expenses.
      Start your job search NOW. (It can take a while to find a job) OR as you said, look for a part-time job now. However, be aware, the part-time job will likely make you ineligible for unemployment benefits (if that is a concern) on your layoff. Because of that, I’m not sure if the part-time job is the best idea, I would rather look for the job I want, not just a holdmeover thing, but I don’t know your situation.

      Anything you can pay in advance (car insurance, taxes, credit cards) pay or payoff now for the year. Reduce household expenses such as cable tv and phones and other subscription services to lower-level plans or eliminate. If you have/need any medical or dental attention, I would make appointments and get this all taken care of now. If you have medications, get them filled and stockpile while you’re still working. Try and save for COBRA now so you have overlap.

      Other than that, I would begin working your network and letting them know you will be looking for a new employment opportunity. At least you have some warning. I would start a job search ASAP, because it is taking on average 2-3 months or more to find a comparable job and the process of hiring itself is very slow. However, of late I am seeing a lot of jobs mid-year so this appears to be a good time to BE looking. I wouldn’t wait.
      It’s not the worst thing in the world… but it is a mental preparation.

      1. Natalie*

        I’m not sure you’re correct about part time jobs and unemployment. Typically making some earnings will reduce the weekly benefit payment but not eliminate it.

          1. Natalie*

            Right, and how your state structures its benefits levels. In my state, it’s not a one-to-one reduction, so part-time earnings + a reduced unemployment payment would total more than just the unemployment payment alone.

    3. Artemesia*

      Both my husband and I have been out of work at some point and because we had done what you have done, it was not a big deal except for the psychological misery. The key is with two incomes and conservative spending you can get by as long as you need to especially with an emergency fund already saved. Health care is the key but being laid off is one of the events that allow you to move to a partner’s insurance outside the normal enrollment period. My husband retired well before I did and we had no trouble moving him to my insurance. If your partner’s insurance allows domestic partners then you should be good there. Review your regular bills and drop anything that involves recurring automatic payment that you don’t want to keep. Lots of people have these automatic renewing small bills for things that are not necessary Good luck on the job search.

    4. atexit8*

      Going on a different medical insurance plan means that the deductible – if there is one – re-sets to $0.
      Maybe go on COBRA for the remaining months of the calendar year then go on his insurance when open enrollment starts for him.

      Use online savings account to earn at least 1%.

      Good luck.

    5. Meh*

      You might look into private disability insurance, too. You can’t buy it while unemployed and if your new job doesn’t offer it, you may be glad to have it. That was my biggest loss when I got laid off.

      And anything that relies on a credit score and employment. It would depend on your situation, but I was refinancing my house when the rumors started. The new loan closed less than a month before I lost my job.

      You have 2 incomes so both are less critical for you. Being unemployed isn’t cheap either, because of all the networking, interviews, etc.

      Sounds like you’re doing the right things.

    6. Aphrodite*

      Register with several employment agencies. Temp jobs can pay okay or poorly but any income that can offset expenses will help. In my city, there is one agency that has contracts with the city and with University of California. So many people have used the temp jobs they have there to jump into full-time employment.

  5. Aurora Leigh*

    Relationship question . . . I’m curious what your guys opinions are about this.

    Basically it boils down to this — How do you tell a guy that you love him and want to live with him but you just don’t think you’d feel comfortable doing that without being married?

    My boyfriend and I are in our mid to late twenties and have been together for 5 months now. We’re wonderfully domestic together and love spending time together.

    A couple months ago, I moved to a different apartment because my old one was frankly terrible. We were talking about my move while on a camping trip and he said that he would have asked me to move in with him (he owns his house) but he figured 3 months was too soon to ask. I agreed and he asked if I would consider moving in with him in the future. I said yes, but pointed out I just signed a one year lease.

    We’ve talked about it a couple times since then, like how our cats would get along and where my furniture would fit.

    Thing is, I’m not sure I could actually do it, even 11 months in the future. Its not that I don’t want to live with him — I do! But with my cultural and religious upbringing, there wou

    1. Aurora Leigh*

      Posted before I finished!

      There would be a lot of backlash from my parents and I’m worried I would feel a lot of guilt about “living in sin” with him.

      He knows a little about my upbringing and has been incredibly kind and patient about the physical boundries in our relationship, that I’m just not ready to cross yet.

      It feels weirdly combative to tell him I wouldn’t move in without a ring . . . any scripts or advice?

        1. Aurora Leigh*

          We’re talking about a year in the future (because my lease) but I feel like I should say something now since we’re at point to be having these type of converstions.

          1. Kj*

            I was in the same boat- I had known my then-boyfriend for a few months and we were getting serious FAST and I knew I would not feel comfortable moving in without a discussion about marriage. I didn’t need a ring on my finger, but I needed assurances that a ring would be forthcoming sooner rather than later (in our friend group there were a number of couples who had been together for 10+ year but were not married and I did not want that- fine if it works for you, but it does NOT work for me). So, I decided to bite the bullet and talk to then boyfriend. I chose a neutral location, stayed calm and explained my concerns. He understood right away. 5 years later, we have been married for 2 years.

            My advice is that there is no substitute for a straight-up conversation. You CANNOT talk your way around this. You cannot hint. You gotta say your needs. If he is the one for you, he will respect them and state what he is ready to offer and when. Don’t hang around hoping.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              Seconding this. You don’t have to have this conversation now, unless it naturally comes up, but at the one year mark (when you will still have several months to go on your lease) is a natural point for a where-do-you-see-this-going-in-terms-of-my-longterm-life-planning? conversation. Don’t guess, don’t hang around hoping. Lots of relationship models are totally fine, but don’t just silently hope that you are secretly on the same page.

              Advice from Carolyn Hax: Based on how many people send her letters that boil down to “20 reasons to break up with my significant other, versus chore of disentangling our CDs… clearly the answer is stay” for relationships that the letter writer wouldn’t hesitate to drop if they didn’t have to move, she suggests viewing it like a marriage–that you not get into that level of soooooo-inconvenient-to-undo unless being entangled long term feels like a plus. For a lot of people, that last condition means marriage as the logical step.

            2. Jen S. 2.0*

              Agree with above. It’s not combative to just say that you’d not be comfortable living together without being engaged. That’s not a foreign concept. It’s also not an ultimatum; you don’t HAVE to get engaged OR ELSE. You can get engaged, or you can live separately.

        2. Paul*

          I don’t feel like it’s too soon to have that discussion though. You may not want to commit to marriage just yet, but I don’t feel like just mentioning that you’re not OK living together without being married is inappropriate to discuss at this point.

      1. Courageous Cat*

        I don’t think it’s combative! It can definitely be a cultural/religious thing – even if the person does not really care themselves, it’s still hard to move past what your family will think. And this is coming from someone who’s been living in sin for a long, long time.

        I think you should just be really honest with him about it.

        1. Aurora Leigh*

          Yes, I’m still religious but I come down on the side of sins can be forgiven and living together isn’t really worse than say, lying or being prideful or other sins of that nature.

          But I don’t want to destroy my relationship with my mother and further complicate relationships with my siblings over him (even though he’s worth it!).

          1. Florida*

            Do you not want to live with him because our YOUR religious beliefs? Or do you not want to live with him because of your families’ religious beliefs? If it is your belief, then ignore what I’m about to say. You can never live the life you want to live and not disappoint other people. Spending your life trying to please other people is exhausting, and ultimately unfulfilling. I can’t say whether you should move in with your boyfriend or not – only you know that. But if the primary reason for not moving in with him is to make your mother and siblings happy, please reconsider your priorities. You WILL disappoint some people if you make your own choices, but ultimately you will have a happy and more meaningful life.

          2. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

            So you believe it’s wrong but can be forgiven? I don’t think it’s a good idea to do it then. The concept of forgiveness isn’t supposed to make you feel you can do anything and then be forgiven later. If you intentionally do something you believe is wrong and count on being forgiven, you can end up with double guilt – for doing the wrong thing and having been so calculating about forgiveness. And moving in with someone isn’t something that happens accidentally. It takes planning and a lot of work so if you do it, you do it on purpose. If you do on purpose something that in your mind is “only a little bit wrong” but still wrong to some degree, it’s a recipe for big problems in the future.

            1. NPG*

              As an evangelical Christian, I just wanted to note that the NT specifically warns Christians about treating forgiveness this lightly.

              I’m not sure where the original poster on this subject is spiritually (or that they even care about what the NT says) but I figured that I would note that. I was really surprised that ‘NoMoreFirstTime…’ brought that up, as many of my brethren view forgiveness as a quasi ‘get out of jail free card’ and wind up in that exact spot.

                1. Aurora Leigh*

                  Thanks you! I pulled away from my religious upbringing in some ways but I still consider myself a Christian and I’m definitely working on it.

                  What I meant by my comment was that I don’t judge people that make different choices . . . which I probably should have just said. I was a little worried when I posted this that I would get some pushback for not being okay with what seems to be becoming the secular US norm.

                  It’s really reassuring to see I’m not the only one that feels this way! It will make having this conversation easier.

                2. Observer*

                  Not judging other people is good. But, that still doesn’t get to what you actually believe about living together. If you don’t believe that it’s right, don’t do it. If your BF doesn’t respect that or can’t live with it, you are not a good match. Not because he’s a bad person, but because your needs and who you are have some significant gaps, despite the other compatibilities.

                3. Beatrice*

                  I think you need to understand if this is something you are personally morally opposed to doing yourself, or if it’s something you’re opposed to doing because it would complicate things with your family. And then when you talk to him, I think you need to be clear with him about which one it is. Those are two very different reasons, and you need to be clear in your own mind, if you’re not now, and then you need to be clear with him.

                  If you’re worried about complicating your relationship with your family, I agree with Florida. You’re an adult now – you’re your own person and make your own decisions. Healthy decisions are decisions made based on your own morals and beliefs. Healthy relationships are relationships where you’re free to make choices other people don’t agree with, without destroying the relationship – change, maybe, but not destroy, and sometimes change is good.

                  I had a strict religious upbringing. I rejected my parents’ religion when I was able to support myself. I expected them to disown me – they did not. Things were very strained for a while, but they always made it clear that they loved me and wanted me in their lives. I moved in with my now-husband when we were engaged but not married. I needed to move anyway, and it made sense to do, and I didn’t have a personal moral objection to it. My parents were very unhappy. My sisters were not allowed to visit until after my wedding (I was 1200 miles away and they were young adults but still completely financially dependent on my parents).

                  It was hard, but I did what I felt was right, and I prioritized my relationship with the person I planned to share the rest of my life with, over my relationships with people whose role was supposed to be to raise me, teach me right from wrong, and then release me into the world to apply it my own way. (Ironically, they taught me to stand up for what I believed in, even if it was difficult or came at great personal cost…I don’t think they expected me to apply the lesson the way I did!)

                  I’ve been married for 13 years now. My marriage is not perfect, but it’s good. My decision changed my relationship with my family forever, but not in the ways I expected, and most of the changes were ultimately good. I get along fine with my parents – I have made decisions that disappointed them more than once, but we got the pecking order sorted where my life is concerned and they don’t expect their disapproval alone to sway me. Having a grandbaby was a huuuuge game changer. Also, they are less rigidly religious, and more accepting of people they don’t agree with, than they used to be, and I think that has helped better their lives in a lot of ways. My sisters are some of my best friends, and the path I broke by standing up to my parents helped them make life choices they wanted that my parents didn’t approve of either (joining the military, dating someone with tons of tattoos, getting engaged to someone of a different race, marrying someone of a different religion, declaring bankruptcy instead of spending a lifetime honorably being crushed by an impossible mountain of debt caused by a housing disaster, moving out of state with newborn grandbabies, etc etc etc.)

      2. Life is Good*

        I would say you and he need to have an honest conversation about how you both feel in this area. Tell him that you aren’t giving him any sort of ultimatum, and that you worry he will think you are, but you are uncomfortable with a living together arrangement. If this relationship is a good one, that will have to do. You may have to live apart for awhile until living together works for BOTH of you – marriage or not. It didn’t bother me that my kids both decided to live with their spouses before marriage, but I could have never done it in 1980…. my parents would have killed me. You need to be true to yourself.

        1. Hey Anonny Nonny*

          Agreed! Just be honest with him. Definitely reassure him it’s not an ultimatum, but you want him to know your feelings on the subject since it’s been raised. If you’ve already talked to him about your parents and he’s been understanding, then he should understand this.

        2. TL -*

          It’s super early for that kind of conversation. If it comes up again, you could just say you’re a bit old fashioned and don’t want to live with someone until you’re married. Save the big conversation for when your lease needs to be renewed – maybe three months out or whatever the notice period is, have the conversation.

          1. Perpetua*

            I don’t think that it’s super early for that kind of conversation, especially since they’re already having it, just in bits and pieces – which is perfectly fine as well, but I see no reason not to continue that conversation now or soonish or the next time it comes up naturally. A conversation is not a contract or an ultimatum or a duel, it’s one of the most important tools for happy healthy partnerships (and life in general!).

            Aurora Leigh, I’d go exactly with what you laid out up there when describing this to us. You seem pretty level-headed, and I believe it’s very important to be able to communicate honestly with your partner, especially about such larger decisions. And it’s not like it will be one big convo and that’s it, those things usually take some time, but it’s much better if you’re coming at it from a place of openness and “hey, so this is what I feel, what’s your take on [topic]”, rather than having these thoughts in your head only and being evasive.

            1. TL -*

              I don’t think she should be evasive! If the topic comes up, she should definitely state her feelings on it and certainly she can follow a natural segueway into the topic; it doesn’t just have to be because he asked.

              But I think having a serious sit down conversation about living together before marriage is probably a little premature at 5 months, especially it’s not going to be an issue for another year. I’ve seen a few couples where this kind of heavy discussion pushed the relationship forward faster than it would’ve gone otherwise and it wasn’t a great step.
              It’s one thing to say, “Oh, you know, I’m a Christian and I actually don’t believe in living together before marriage,” when it comes up (and it will) and another to sit down and say, “honey, we have to talk about how I feel about us living together.” especially when the latter talk brings marriage into the picture.

      3. Jessica*

        If these are genuinely your values, then that’s an important part of you that he deserves to know. And it shouldn’t be combative. You’re not some scheming siren trying to wrangle an unwilling man who’d rather get the milk for free into putting a ring on it–yeah, I know part of our crappy culture says you are, but just put your fingers in your ears and go LA LA LA to that. You’re a grownup talking about your core values and beliefs with someone who cares for you and is trying to continue getting to know you, and you have to be able to do that honestly for both of you to assess whether this relationship is a match. If it’s your choice that you would only [have sex/live together/whatever] in the context of [marriage/some other degree of committed relationship], tell him that and tell him why, and you can talk together about what that means and what his views are.
        On the other hand! If these are not really your values, and you just would feel lingering irrational guilt from your religious upbringing, or have trouble establishing boundaries with family? I am not saying those are not both tough problems, because they totally can be. But those aren’t problems with this relationship or this guy or this situation, they’re problems with you. And they’re problems that you should try to work on or they’ll continue to mess with the rest of your life, no matter what happens here.

        1. FormerLW*

          Jessica hit on the key question – are these genuinely your true values and principles, or do you have poor boundaries with your family? If, at the heart of you, you must follow the traditional path of engagement, marriage and then forming a household – that’s nothing to be ashamed of or shy about expressing. In fact, if you don’t, you risk forming a life partnership with someone who does not accept or respect YOU.

          On the other hand, if this is purely about not upsetting your family of origin, you may not be ready for marriage. I don’t mean to be harsh – but you face a lifetime of setting, re-setting, and holding the line with your family regarding your choices. Will you cave to their demands and guilt trips, to the detriment of your husband and your marriage? If you have children, will you raise them in your family’s religion, even if you yourself do not adhere to its tenets?

          1. Aurora Leigh*

            Thank you both — not harsh at all! I have been wrestling with this a lot lately.

            From childhood, I always assumed my life would take a certain path, and I was raised to believe questions like this wouldn’t even be questions. Of course I would meet someone with same background and we would do what was expected and that would be that.

            But (obviously!) that’s not real life. And I’m struggling trying to figure out what’s really me and my beliefs on these topics and what isn’t.

            I absolutely still strongly identify with the religion I was raised in and would want my children raised in it (not exactly the same as I was though).

            I am working very hard on setting boundries with family, my mother in particular. This is not easy, but I do have a cerain track record of success in this area ( a college degree, working, living alone, all these were things she thought were bad ideas but I did anyway). I still have a minor sibling in the home and I place maintaining a relationship with them very high on my priority list, a fact that she will take advantage of.

            Thank you both for getting to the foot of this!

            1. Annie Moose*

              If you’re looking for advice/scripts on setting boundaries with family, Captain Awkward’s blog has some great stuff!

            2. Natalie*

              You know, as far as talking to your boyfriend, all of these questions and uncertainties can be part of that conversation. You don’t need to approach it as though you can only present your finished boundaries to him – just talk about both of your feelings and experiences in this area.

              1. TL -*

                Yes, have discussions about your faith and beliefs and the way that they’re changing (or not changing!)

                You already know you want to raise your kids in your faith, so it’s a good time to start seeing if y’all have compatible world views. You don’t have to mention kids yet, but things like, “My faith is important to me,” “this tradition is an important expression of my faith,” “I want you to celebrate this with me” are all really important discussions to start having.

            3. Not So NewReader*

              Along the same line, you might want to start to figure out how you want to raise your children. Think about what values you want to teach them. It’s a natural tie-in the living together discussion. So if it comes up in the course of talking about your own relationships, you will have some thoughts pulled together about kids also.

            4. Falling Diphthong*

              If I can offer an anecdote counter to prevailing thought on this–and I am in general a proponent of living your adult life without curtailing it for your parents’ approval–I knew a couple who in the 80s lived together while hypothetically living apart as far as her parents were concerned. (No religious objection, just Not Done.) They sublet her student apartment with the understanding that the sublettee would vanish if her parents came to visit, landline phones were forwarded… eventually they got married, the deception was widely admitted in the family, and everyone went on being close-knit and stayed married and today the widowed mom, in her 80s, lives in a duplex with daughter and husband on the other side to help out.

              Sometimes with family, I think it really is okay to just shrug and not rub anyone’s nose in what you’re doing, and as time passes parents care less and less about what you were discreetly off doing out of their sight in your 20s.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                This last bit is very true (for a lot of people, not all). I find as I have gotten older that my parents are FAR less likely to worry about what I’m doing in my personal life, at least in terms of judging it. I was talking to Mum on the phone before my last trip to London and I said something to the effect that if I met someone, I wasn’t going to be all demure about things. She said, “Just make sure you use a condom.” I ALMOST FELL OFF THE SOFA :’D

                If this were my situation, I would absolutely have to go by past experience rather than family or religious beliefs, since I’ve long ago abandoned any attempt to cater to either of those. I did live with someone for a good amount of time, someone I thought I would marry, but when it did not work out, I had to leave what I considered my home. It was emotionally as bad as a divorce but without the legal stuff, and I lost contact with his child whom I had helped raise for nearly five years.

                So no, I’m not moving in with anyone again unless we 1) have a date set or 2) I have a bun in the oven AND we are pretty sure a date will be set in the future. Lots and lots of talking would precede that. If I were with someone who didn’t want to discuss it, then I would know I couldn’t count on a future with him.

                And I sort of do believe that people can meet and fall in love and have a happy-ever-after fairly quickly. It’s happened in my family twice. My brother and his wife dated for three months before they got married and they’ve been married for 20+ years. My parents–same, and 50+ years. But values and goals would have to align, absolutely.

      4. AMD*

        My husband and I (5 years married and still ridiculously happy) and our best college friends (9 years married + 3 kids and still ridiculously happy) both refrained from living together until we were married, so we are success stories if you need ’em. :)

        Does your boyfriend share the religious and cultural values that are guiding you to not move in with him? Because if so, great! If you don’t know, that sounds like a great intimacy-building conversation for some night, digging into what each other believes and values. If not, then it’s a good time to discuss how you’ll deal with similar conflicts if you build a future together, and to seriously consider what you’re comfortable with compromising and what you’re not.

        1. ThatGirl*

          My husband and I moved in together about two months before our wedding, because he had just graduated from grad school and it made the most sense. Even though our wedding was around the corner, I was still anxious about telling my pastor sad. But it worked out fine. No lectures. That said I definitely would not have lived with him without being engaged, it was just a thing for me.

          1. overeducated*

            Yeah, that happened in my case too due to the timing of weddings and leases and no one judged me out loud. Even the friend who slept on another friend’s couch for months to avoid “living in sin” before his wedding. Renting and living far from family makes this all complicated!

          2. Paul*

            That’s similar to my wife and I. She moved while doing her undergrad, but we were engaged at that point…

            We kind of broached the topic of marriage after something less than a year of dating, but I can’t recall exactly how long. We did have a long engagement-like 2 years–but got married in 05.

      5. neverjaunty*

        It’s not at all combative! After all, you’re not trying to passive-aggressive him into proposing; you’re just telling him that no, you’re not comfortable living with a romantic partner absent marriage.

        (Which, in my highly subjective opinion, is wise regardless of one’s feelings about sex outside of marriage or “living in sin”.)

        1. JanetM*

          I think it varies from person to person. My husband and I lived together for about 18 months before we agreed that we were, in fact, suited to each other and should get married. We were long-distance for the first 18 months — opposite sides of the US — and conducted the majority of our courtship via telephone and snail mail. We’re at 25+ years married now, and still content together.

          1. neverjaunty*

            Oh, of course, hence it being highly subjective. I’m just noting that there seems to be (in the US at least) this cultural thing where living together is sort of a default stage in dating, and the only reason not to want to do it is religious/moral objections to sharing living quarters with an SO who isn’t a spouse.

      6. Artemesia*

        Figure out what really matters to you. I personally didn’t care that my parents didn’t approve when I moved in with my husband 45 years ago before we wed. FWIW it was my second marriage; I had had a brief marriage and had followed all the rules and it was a disaster and there was no way I would have married again without having a sexual relationship and living together.

        If YOU are uncomfortable moving in before marriage then just own it. You don’t make a big deal about it and especially you don’t waffle on it. You just say ‘I am just old fashioned in this way; I would not be comfortable moving in together with someone before marriage.’

        It isn’t about logic or convincing anyone; if it is what you feel comfortable with it just is. I wouldn’t even use your parents as an excuse; you are a grownup and are entitled to go with your own sensibilities on this.

      7. Aurora Leigh*

        Thank you all for being so kind and thoughtful with your responses! It’s really helpful to hear others experiences in thinking through these issues.

        I love this community! :)

    2. Old Biddy*

      Be honest with him, and with yourself. Everyone has different setpoints for pulling the living together trigger. Would you move in if you were engaged? If you’d been together a certain amount of time? If one of you was always over at the other’s place? Find out what each of you considers ideal, and discuss it. In addition to the cultural/religious aspects, talk about stuff like chores, how much alone time each of you needs, etc.
      One purely pragmatic issue that often gets overlooked is that if one person moves into the other’s place, the person who moves will have a bigger adjustment than the person who is staying in the same place. Sometimes it’s not an issue at all, and sometimes it’s big. It’s not discussed very often, perhaps because the default expectation is that people meet and marry when they’re young and don’t have a lot of stuff. It’s useful for both of you to be aware of that and figure out ways to make it home for both of you.

    3. Akcipitrokulo*

      You don’t need to feel guilty about something that’s important to you!

      It doesn’t matter if you think other people might not get it. It matters to you. Talk to your guy… tell him you’d love to move in and have a life together. Talk about what you feel you need for that. And make sure he knows you love him :)

      1. CM*

        This! I’m reading this thread a bit late, but it seems like you’re worried that this is an unreasonable thing to say or that you should feel bad about saying it. It’s not, and you shouldn’t! You don’t have to apologize and say you’re being old-fashioned or that you’re just doing what your family wants. (Of course, if you are just doing it for your family, that’s a different story.)

        I am not religious but I just didn’t feel right about living with someone without being engaged. I told my then-boyfriend (now-husband) this and it was no big deal. Before we had that conversation, I was worried it would sound like an ultimatum because we were already talking about marriage. For you, that should be a little easier because you’re not demanding a ring. You can just say you’ve been thinking about it and this is what you’re comfortable with. It’s a perfectly reasonable boundary to set.

    4. overeducated*

      Just tell him! Now, not in 11 months. I did, my spouse does not share my religion or feelings on that, it was fine. I felt very strongly about not wanting a long term live in relationship without marriage and he also was ready to commit so we did.

      I do have a friend who had more of a conflict with this becsuse she DID feel strongly that living together before marriage was important, and that is unusual in his culture and faith. They did eventually move in and he just dealt with the family disapproval. In that case, she felt more strongly than he did and it was a deal breaker for her, and his issue was specifically with living together, not premarital sex (which would have been a deal breaker much earlier). Anyway, it may not work out if you have strong disagreements but talking honestly is super important.

    5. Temperance*

      I think you just need to tell him, honestly, if that’s how you feel. FWIW, though, I think it’s worth talking about. I always thought I had those feelings, but I just internalized the shame from my religious upbringing. I moved in with Booth after like 8 months of dating, and we got married 9 years later. lol

      I stayed in a relationship for far too long with someone I didn’t have common values with, and it sucked.

    6. Pixie S.*

      Not sure if this helps, but I’m in the process of dipping my toe cautiously into dating for a lot of reasons, and if I feel I’m hitting it off with someone, the marriage/babies question is one that I usually broach within a week. My feelings on these are core values that I’ve examined and re-examined, and while they might change, the key word is MIGHT and if it did, it wouldn’t be for years, maybe even a decade.

      That being said, you have time! Time is a gift, so take it! If you can do so, talk to a counselor about religion/family/boundaries– I highly recommend it, because it sounds like your family might be a bit like mine, and this is a good time for you to start thinking about these things. (I wish I had when I was in my mid to late twenties.)

    7. Meredith*

      Do what feels best to you, not your family. You can’t please everyone. My now-husband and I lived in separate dwellings for 2.5 years before co-habitation, which we did for 2 more years before getting engaged. He rented, I own. Personally, I feel strongly about living with someone first before getting married, but I have several friends who didn’t live with their partners until actual marriage occurred and they’re doing well. Would a compromise be living together while engaged? I’m not religious so I am not sure what is acceptable.

    8. Glue*

      This sounds to me like a perfectly normal thing for a couple to discuss. Approach it the way you would approach any other important conversation about values and preferences. These are things you need to know about each other to figure out your long-term compatibility. What are your thoughts on traveling together? What are your thoughts on getting a pet? What are your thoughts on having kids? What are your thoughts on cohabitation?
      Also, I just wanted to mention that all preferences regarding living together are valid, including yours. So, please don’t feel bad that you feel this way. Your partner may or may not agree with you on this, and the two of you may or may not be able to work out a solution. That’s how life is. But it is important that you try to communicate clearly and respectfully about this.

    9. Elizabeth H.*

      I personally think 5 months is way, way, way too early to talk about moving in but I’m a little extreme in that direction (I feel exponential about it though – like after about a year I think it’s not too early for anything) and it sounds like your boyfriend has brought it up a few times and is interested in the idea of living together in the near future, so it’s totally understandable you’re thinking about it even at this stage. I’m 29 and I’ve lived with someone I was dating before, my first boyfriend when I was 23. (The logistical implications of moving out wasn’t a big factor for me in the literal CD collection way a couple people are alluding to – and my move even involved moving across the country back to my hometown – it’s not harder than any other move, it just sucks to move, sucks to break up and sucks a little more than the sum of its parts to do both at once) Not exactly because of this experience, but partly because of it and much more because of the stage of my life I’m in, my age and how I feel about dating and my future now, I do not think that I would live with somebody as a preliminary step before getting married. I don’t feel any way about the ethics or values of living together before marriage, but at this point in my life I’m really looking for somebody to marry, so anybody I would date seriously enough to live with I would want the conversation to be about getting married rather than about living together as a next step. I think there’s wisdom in getting to know somebody by living together before you commit to marriage, and people often say that they learned things they never would have learned otherwise from living together, but some of that kind of thing gets less necessary the older you get as you know yourself better. It seems like if you’re still in your mid-to-late twenties you have a little bit of time to figure things out. That’s just my experience in case it’s helpful to hear.

    10. Triplestep*

      I agree with the commenters who have said to let the subject come up organically, which it no-doubt will over the next 11 months. I would add, though, that if he doesn’t know your values enough to have some inkling about your feelings on living together, it was a good idea to have signed that lease. But by the same token, as your relationship percolates a little more, your values will become more clear to him, so when you do have the conversation, he won’t be surprised when you spell it all out.

      For what it’s worth, my husband and I did not live together before marriage, and we’re going strong after 13 years. I already had two kids when we got engaged, and we didn’t even have overnights together when the kids were home. When my sister challenged me over when we’d live together (yes, “challenge”; she was indignant we didn’t plan to) I told her “We know we share common values and goals. Learning that he leaves his socks on the floor would not be a deal-breaker.” We ended up having him move in a couple of weeks before the wedding so the kids could acclimate a bit before the big day.

  6. Courageous Cat*

    I’m getting my first tattoo a week from Monday! At 30!

    It’s going to be handpoked (by a reputable artist who does great work). Anyone have experience with quality handpoked tattoos? I hear they are less painful than a tattoo gun but I can’t imagine how! I am both scared and excited. I am also kind of leaving the design in the artist’s hands because I just really like her artwork.

    1. Paul*

      as someone too cheap for good tattoos and too picky for cheap tattoos, I’m jealous! Hope it looks awesome and that you enjoy it.

      1. Courageous Cat*

        Thanks! I used to be the same way but I guess finding the right artist made all the difference.

    2. Wanda Trossler*

      I have several tattoos and two that are hand poked by an artist in Denver, and my hand poked ones are by far my favorite and were the least painful (they’re not super large pieces but they’re comparable to my others). The experience really sold me on the process and I’m not sure I could go back to a tattoo gun artist! Good luck, I hope you love your tattoo!

        1. Wanda Trossler*

          They’ve held up great, and honestly look better than my gun tattoos. Contrary to the comment below, they do not look like “prison tattoos” haha. It is a case of really finding a good artist though, and it sounds like you’ve done that!

    3. Former Retail Manager*

      HA! You are getting a prison tat! Seriously….yes, they can be less painful depending upon the artist’s hand, but they also have a unique appearance that is obvious to anyone with tattoos. I can spot prison tats or “handpoked” from a mile away. There are definitely some that look cool. Maybe you can even pull off people assuming you did a little time if you ever find yourself among a group of folks that are likely not AAM readers. :) Enjoy your tattoo experience!

      1. Saturnalia*

        Right- the unique appearance is exactly the appeal. Have you done an image search for handpoked tattoos recently? Any decent artist offering them will not be doing anything remotely resembling a prison tat.

        1. Kbo*

          I was going to say the same. I’ve seen some amazing hand -poked work that you cannot tell wasn’t done with a gun, I just assumed that it would be MORE painful, not less.

    4. Asterix*

      I love the look of tattoos ( well, some not all), and was really bummed when I heard this segment about them. It’s about the health problems that the ink creates in the body. I had no idea, and think that many people don’t either.
      Just some extra info. At the end, the choice is still yours, but something to consider

    5. Saturnalia*

      I’m seriously excited for you. I have a few tats including a full leg piece. I love the handpoked look, and in general black ink will look good longer than lighter/brighter colors, especially if you’re good about sunscreen.

      Make sure to bring a sweet or a soda if you worry you’ll get faint. I pass out easy so I eat beforehand, sip on juice and water throughout. I’m afraid of needles so I had to take extra precautions, but it is always worth it and I still want more!

  7. Hellanon*

    Hellacious week, but it is 7.19am and I have already run two loads of laundry. And had 3 cups of coffee… these two things may be related. So: what are you planning to do despite the weather/looking forward to doing/studiously avoiding doing today?

    1. Courageous Cat*

      Also, I had patio furniture set to be delivered today between 9A-12P from Amazon. They called yesterday to confirm. Then this morning, the delivery guys called TWO TIMES at 7:45 on a Saturday morning to confirm delivery, AND then they texted me. I have “do not disturb” on in the mornings, but because they called twice, they tripped it and it rang.

      In the past I have also had my doctor’s office call me around 7:45 on a weekday to see if I wanted to schedule appointments.

      Am I crazy for thinking this is really early and businesses should stop calling before 8am? Or am I just an annoyingly late sleeper.

      1. Courageous Cat*

        Huh. That wasn’t meant to be a reply to you, but not sure how to delete/move it. Sorry, ha.

      2. the gold digger*

        Nope. You are not crazy. I think it is very rude to call before 8 a.m. unless you absolutely know it’s OK, as in, you are friends with the person and know she is always up by 7 a.m. and doesn’t mind early calls.

        My co-worker in Chile (I was a Peace Corps volunteer) was so excited when she finally got a phone (it cost $500 to get a land line installed in the early ’90s and that was the average monthly income in Chile at the time) that she would call me at all hours because I was the only other person she knew with a phone. I tried to explain that it was considered impolite to call after 9 p.m. and she didn’t think that made any sense at all.

      3. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Hell, if we had a delivery window of 9am-12pm, we might try to squeeze our grocery shopping in beforehand, so while we’d be awake, we also wouldn’t be at home. (Not that I ever give out my home number any longer!) I don’t see why they would need to call before 8:30, and only then if they were delivering right at 9 on the dot, and wanted to make sure you were up and ready to answer the door!

        Anyway, it’s beautiful here in the DC area! We’ve opened all the windows, and we’ll be bringing crap from the basement out to the garage, in preparation for this week’s basement moisture remediation work. I am kind of looking forward to that, because we’ve gotten rid of a ton of crap while clearing out the garage, and it feels good to have a lot of usable space again!

    2. Language Student*

      It’s 15.36 here and I’m avoiding putting the washing out and doing the dishes that I should’ve done last night. -.- I’ll do it in the next couple hours, though, because it has to be done before my partner gets home! I’m definitely impressed by your productive morning!

    3. Paul*

      birthday party for a friend’s kid. Pretty good time but I’m exhausted. Half a dozen 2-6 year olds are exhausting.

      Lots of pizza, and we had fun watching ducks and geese and turtles in the pond in the park though. So we’re done for the day, we’re all a little sunburned and stuffed full of junk food.

    4. Overeducated*

      I want to go running, but I’ve had a headache since I woke up. I hate running with a headache, it pounds with every step. Maybe I can sell people on an evening family walk instead, it’s nice out. Fortunately I don’t have to cook – had a delicious and gigantic lunch with friends so dinner will probably be toast, cheese, and fruit for the kid and exercise and/or sangria for the adults. Summer!

      Speaking of, I did go to the farmers market. Can’t miss my peak season peaches and tomatoes, they’re really not the same at the grocery store.

    5. Pixie S.*

      Prepping myself/laundry/apartment for surgery aftermath. :| I am not looking forward to restricted movement and/or lifting and am trying to figure out ways to minimize this.

    6. Schnapps*

      We have an air quality warning from forest fires (Provincial and Federal states of emergency have been declared) here and I have been wheezing for a few days whenever I go outside. A friend of mine asked me to tend to and harvest her garden while she is away. My 8 yo and I went out today to get some veggies and water it, and I was a ball of sweat and had to sit there with the a/c running for a bit when we got back in the car. I got three monstrous zucchinis (seriously, zucchini tots for months), a gallon bag of beans, some thyme, and some cherry tomatoes – almost not worth it the way I was feeling.

      So I took the 8yo and two of her friends to Despicable me 3 instead of taking the 8yo to the waterslides because I just can’t with this air.

  8. Imaginary Number*

    How should I respond to photographers monopolizing space at my local park?

    There is a gorgeous park about a mile from my house with several foot bridges over creeks and a deep ravine. It has about 7 miles of trails for running/walking. I go there 3-4 times a week to walk and workout. I usually stop at one of the pretty spots (off to the side) to do squats, push-ups, etc.

    The problem is that this place is REALLY popular with photographers during good weather, especially in the fall. There are sometimes 5-10 families, homecoming couples, graduates, etc. lined up at the end of the bridges and outlooks waiting for their “turn.” None of this is reserved. The only reservable areas are a few pavilions.

    They will often plop their entire family across the width of the bridge so no one can pass without multiple “excuse me”s and glares as they scoop up the babies who they finally got seated. I really wouldn’t mind if it was something that only happened once in a while, but on some days like I said it’s an endless stream.

    The photographers seemed to have worked out the courtesy to each other where everyone waits their turn. Not so much with other park-goers who just want to work out. If I decline to leave they deliberately make it as awkward for me as possible: setting up a tripod right behind me. Making comments and dramatic sighs, etc. It’s really not worth the hassle of standing my ground.

    If I want to use a spot to do squats, I’m not preventing other people from using it. But if someone wants to use it for photographs that means no one else can be there or they’ll be in the shot.

    Am I just being a jerk for not wanting to move when families are arriving hoping to take photos at a picturesque spot? Or am I right in thinking that photos shouldn’t taken presence over public use?

    1. Life is Good*

      Well, if it’s a public park, they are infringing in your right as a member of the public to use all of it. Call your city council person and find out what the ordinance is. Perhaps, a few well posted signs would do the trick. These photographers and their clients are being rude.

    2. FormerLW*

      I’ve been the mom having professional photos taken in a public space. THEY are being jerks. I would never block passage the way you describe. You’re not talking about a situation where a family is sitting in an open green space, and you plop down right next to or behind them and start doing jumping jacks. Do what you need to do to get where you’re going and ignore the sighs and eyerolls. If they get confrontational with you, just keep walking and don’t engage.

    3. Undine*

      Or weddings! Even worse when they rent out an entire public park (not just a picnic area) for weddings. At least then the city gets some revenue. But these people aren’t paying anything to be there, and it is a multi-use park. When it gets to the point that they dominate the park, no, you can’t put your life on hold for them.

      Is there any chance you could find a workout buddy? It seems like it might be easier to ignore them if you were with someone. Obviously you would lose some flexibility. Or you could just tell yourself, it’s the same people every week, that’s what they do for fun. Go to the park, create pictures for Facebook, and complain about all the people there who are not taking photographs.

    4. Paul*

      There’s a city park near me where this can be an issue. There’s one particular stretch of sidewalk where if you stand, there’s this nice fountain thing and really pretty rosebushes in the frame for a photo.

      I used to be nice about it, but I’ve quit being nice after it got more popular. I photobomb the hell out of them.

    5. all aboard the anon train*

      I walk through a public park on my way to and from work each day and one of the entrances is a popular spot for people to take pictures, so during spring and summer, it’s always crowded to the point that I’ve just stopped being nice about it when I need to get by.

      Generally, I’ll be patient and wait for someone to finish taking their photo, but I CANNOT stand the people who need to take a dozen photos and hold up the flow of foot traffic. It’s rude.

      My reasoning is that if I’m a tourist in any place and taking a picture, it’s my responsibility to let the people who need to get by go first and I can wait to take my picture.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Mine too. I try to stay out of the way and I will wait for people to pass before I try to photograph anything.

        At Loch Ness I was trying to take a photo from the citadel keep, and there was an Australian tourist sitting on the thing I was trying to photograph with his ass hanging out from the back of his trousers. I got tired of waiting for him so I went and did something else until he moved on. I didn’t want his buttcrack in my shot!

      2. Katie the Fed*

        OK, scrolling up now – clearly I’m not the only person who is just over it in accommodating people blocking access to tourist sites for dozens of pictures.

        1. all aboard the anon train*

          What bothers me the most is when the person taking the picture is a few feet away so there’s a huge area you can’t walk in. I don’t might stopping so I don’t walk in the line of someone’s picture, but if you’re taking more than a few minutes, I’m going to lose my patience and continue on my way.

          I’ve seen people chalk this up to cultural differences, but I’ve encountered it all over and from different cultures, so I think it’s just a human rudeness thing. I just want people to be aware of their surroundings and realize they’re not the only ones in the area.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            Yes! They’ll have their photographer standing 10+ feet away. Nope. There ARE some cultures I think that do this more than others (east Asia comes to mind) but it’s pretty endemic everywhere.

            1. JapanAnna*

              Was kind of on the fence on replying to this, but maybe keep in mind “east Asia” isn’t a super meaningful unit to describe how people behave. There’s a wide range in there.

    6. Katie Beth*

      Call up the park manager and complain. Some parks also have law enforcement that may be able to patrol the area and keep people moving along.

      1. Sylvan (Sylvia)*


        People do the same thing in two parks where I live. I assumed there was nothing to be done about it, but actually, police officers will sometimes ask people to move along a bit. It’s not a big deal.

    7. only acting normal*

      Aaaargh! Once upon a time I used to commute on foot across Hungerford bridge in London with a great view of the Thames, with Big Ben on one bank and the London Eye in the other – i.e. tourist catnip. It’s a wide footbridge: the photographer can easily have the subject stand at the railing, and stand far enough back for a great shot *without being at the opposite railing*. If someone takes those couple of steps forward to not block the way I will happily detour around behind them (I even stopped to take photos for some people). If not, well they’re getting a grumpy commuter blurring across their frame.
      It’s all about mutual consideration.

        1. Imaginary Number*

          It’s crazy because when I think of the tourist-spot version of my question that’s exactly what I thought of too …

          I never feel as bad walking through photos in a place like this because it’s super crowded and also it’s not like you packed up your entire family/wedding party/homecoming group to go and take pictures in that particular location. Then again, I’m starting to feel I shouldn’t feel bad about the latter anyway.

    8. Gala apple*

      I’ve never run into a problem with this until this very afternoon, at a botanical garden in Northern Virginia. Must have seen about 10 professional photographers with clients.

      I did notice a lot of signage in another botanical garden, stating that photographers needed a ($$) permit before doing any kind of shoot. I thought that was brilliant and would moderate usage for that purpose.

        1. Gala Apple*

          Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, out by Wolf Trap. It was really beautiful and well-maintained!

    9. Free Meerkats (formerly Gene)*

      They are using the park for commercial purposes. Call your city and ask something like, “I’m a commercial portrait photographer, do I need a permit or anything to use the public park for this?” Then you’ll know if you have a legal complaint avenue.

      Other than that, their income isn’t yours problem. If they are blocking the bridge, go right through with minimal apologies. If you want to do squats, do squats.

      I once followed a wedding party around Fremont Street in Vegas for a couple of hours, making sure I got in the background of every photo I could. Looking straight into the camera and smiling. The photographer was unknowingly very accommodating, with a cheerful “Ready? 1, 2, 3!” for every picture. Someday, someone is going to say, “who is that guy?”

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Well, do call the city and ask but you don’t need to lie and pretend to be a photographer.

        Uh Free Meerkats, why did you feel the need to photobomb that many times? I’m having a hard time understanding. Please don’t do that to anyone else.

        1. Paparrazzi*

          Because either one of the wedding party may become famous, or Meerkats may become famous. Either way, the photos become very valuable.

    10. Katie the Fed*

      So, plenty of people are going to think I’m rude for this, but here goes:

      I’m kind of over yielding space for people to assemble for pictures. I travel a lot and the picture-taking has become REALLY disruptive in just about every beautiful place or tourist site. Usually it’s one or two people with someone taking their picture from 10 feet away, blocking the space from other people. The problem is that literally hundreds and thousands of people want to do the same thing – getting into the Taj Mahal for example is really difficult because everyone stops at the entrance to pose for pictures.

      At this point, I’m perfectly fine just cruising through people’s picture set ups and not waiting. Sorry, but that’s not your space to block. You’re all usually digital cameras so you can re-take the pictures. But you do NOT get to monopolize that space, and I’m not longer interested in respecting you doing so.

      Learn to enjoy a beautiful place without needing 20+ pictures of yourself standing in front it. My guides are usually surprised that I don’t want pictures of myself. Why would I? I know what I look like – what I want is a great picture of the Taj Mahal.

      I’m probably a bitch. Meh.

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        Not rude at all.

        Maybe I’m just overly aware of people around me and not wanting to seem rude, but when I’m at a touristy site, I ask someone to take a quick picture of me, or I take a few quick pictures, and then I move on my way so someone else can get in. I find it rude and selfish for someone to spend 15 minutes hogging a spot or blocking traffic because they want the best picture possible. That’s not a problem if no one else is there, but if there’s a crowd, let others have their turn.

      2. Paparrazzi*

        Yeppers. Why do you feel the need to tell us how we should or shouldn’t take pictures? I’ll learn what I want to learn, thanks.

  9. Trixie*

    Looking at yesterday’s comment/thread regarding commuting. Wishing I had close enough commute I could walk 30 minutes again. Yes, there were some times when it was hot or cold but mostly it was great start/end of the day plus a guaranteed 4+ miles per day. The discussion already encouraged me to try biking a few times to work each week.

  10. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I have a question about door locks. Our new house has those tall skinny windows next to the front door (sidelights?). I’m paranoid about security, so I don’t want to have a normal thumb turn lock on the inside, since someone could break the glass, reach in, and unlock the door. So we got a lock that’s keyed on both sides, as a way to thwart that. But it’s a pain to have to get the key each time you want to open the door, so my thinking is that we’ll leave the key in the lock (from the inside) during the day but will remove it at night or when we’re away (keeping it nearby for fire safety). Is this what people with windows next to their doors do? Having the key sitting in the lock looks unattractive to me, but I can’t figure out a better way to do this.

    1. Hellanon*

      We had this set up at a house many years ago, and what my dad did was suspend the key from fishing line fastened to the door jamb. The key was always there, so we could get out of the house easily in an emergency (or open it for guests) but he set it up in such a way that it was invisible from the windows.

        1. The Grammarian*

          When I lived in a rental house that had a key lock inside and out, we used a similar solution.

    2. Veronica*

      My sister’s house was broken into in exactly this way, and I think they had the narrow windows replaced with some kind of unbreakable or very hard to break glass.

    3. FDCA In Canada*

      Before my parents replaced their front door and windows they had one like that with a keyed double-sided lock. What they did was pretty much what you have planned, but in reality they barely used the front door and consequently found they didn’t need to leave the key in the lock all the time. They put a small nail into the top of the doorjamb near the hinges and hung the key up there–they knew where it was and it was close by, but couldn’t be reached by someone breaking the window and reaching through. But because they used the garage door to come in and out 99% of the time, they gave up leaving the key in the door all the time unless it was something like a holiday with lots of people coming and going all day long.

    4. the gold digger*

      In my old house, I kept a key on a nail next to my door, but I had only one door that was keyed that way. I think the code where I used to live was there had to be at least one door that wasn’t keyed from the inside so you could get out in a fire.

      I understand your concern because in my house now, I have thumb turn locks on both doors and both doors have windows, but I would rather have someone break in and steal my stuff (take Primo’s boxes of receipts from 1995 and his employee manual from Apple when he worked there in 1992!) than not be able to get out in a fire.

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, that’s always my concern; I had a double-keyed lock as a tenant once and left the key in because of that.

        Alison, there is also window film you can get (Amazon has it) that is apparently virtually invisible when installed but it makes glass supposedly breakproof–you could consider looking into that as well. It looks like “window security film” are the magic words.

          1. Typhon Worker Bee*

            We got that installed at work after there were a couple of break-ins (we have some very nice computers in the ground floor offices that are visible from outside). The next time someone tried, the glass cracked but the film held and they couldn’t get in before the cops arrived

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Growing up we had a front door and lock like this, and we had a hook that served the same purpose as Goldie’s nail. Now we have two front doors, no sidelights, so we have a thumb latch. (Or, rather, had, because I just installed an August smart lock, which is rather a pain, as it can’t latch the door if it’s not firmly pushed/pulled shut, as there’s too much friction.)

        I was going to recommend some kind of security reinforcement for the glass, but I hadn’t heard of the security film!

    5. Kay*

      That…never occurred to me to worry about before. We just have a regular thumb turn lock. We live in a not-great city (my car has been broken into in our driveway). So now I’m going to be pondering that.

      (Not to add concern, but…couldn’t they just knock out the rest of the glass from the side window and come through? Ours are definitely wide enough.)

    6. Murphy*

      We just moved and are facing the same issue at our back door and the door to the garage. (No skinny windows, but a double keyed lock.) We’re keeping a key in the door at least for now. We use the back door a lot to let the dogs in and out so we don’t want to mess with finding a key all the time.

      1. Formerly NEPA Nellie*

        We had a burglary at our former home a couple years ago. Yes, we had a sidelight and a lock on the inside that just needed a turn. Didn’t matter what kind of lock we would have had, though, they just used some kind of a battering ram to break right through the front door. In broad daylight, when we were only gone a couple of hours at most. We replaced it with a more “reinforced” door but our contractor said he wasn’t sure it would have made a lot of difference anyway. We don’t live in that rural area anymore, and that was part of the reason we moved.

          1. fposte*

            It’s also unusual, I think; most burglars are opportunistic lunkheads who don’t want to hang around, especially if they’re trying to access via a street-visible area. Slowing them down can be a pretty good defense in its own right (I have reinforced strike plates for this reason–comparatively inexpensive and no visible change to the inhabitants). There’s usually a softer target nearby for them to move on to.

            You can’t prevent every eventuality, and you have to weigh the downside of prevention for you against its merits in your particular situation. I hate hard-wired passcoded security, for instance, and putting that in would reduce the enjoyment of my home for me; even with our recent property crime spike I don’t feel in significant *personal* danger, so I’m okay with taking other steps that make my house safer without making it a fortress.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              In that same vein, years ago, a state trooper told my FIL, professional thieves will not bother with a locked house. Even if the locks are not the best on the market. There is usually another house close by that is much easier to get in to.

              It’s the UNprofessional thieves that are the problem. These are people who lack experience (better term?) to know that a particular setting is too hard and should be passed over. These are the foolish ones who keep trying anyway.

              A dog can fix a lot of potential problems. There was a rash of break-ins down the road from me. The police quickly noticed that the only homes being broken into were the ones without dogs.
              I think I would post a beware of dog sign near the road.

              I won’t get a home security system until I have to. I am just not a fan. However, I do watch out for the types of movies and books I read. I have enough to keep me awake nights, I don’t really need more.

              1. Bryce*

                It’s the same sort of reason you leave a light on a timer when going away for vacation. It won’t deter someone who takes a serious look at the house, but it stops anyone who’s cruising by looking for an unusually dark place.

        1. JamieS*

          Surprisingly it’s fairly easy to kick down a door even without a battering ram. A few years ago my friend kicked down my door (at my request) while wearing a pair of flip flops. It took 1 kick.

          1. Saturnalia*

            Yeah, depending on the doorframe. I have also kicked my way into a house I rented, and it was the frame that gave out. Amazingly this was pretty par for the course for 19 year old Saturnalia.

            1. fposte*

              That’s why a reinforced strikeplate is a good thing–it goes beyond the frame into the wall pocket.

          2. OnFire*

            That’s true. My sis-in-law is about 5’1″ and weighs about 90 pounds, and she kicked in a door at the top of a couple of steps, so it doesn’t even need a running start or anything like that.

            My dad was in construction, and he refused to install double-sided locks unless the homeowners promised to keep a key right by the door, due to fire concerns.

          3. Not So NewReader*

            Younger me kicked in a locked door. One kick but well placed. I’d be impressed with this except for the fact that I had a four pound bunny that could open a shut door. She would bump it repeatedly with her nose. the door would vibrate and eventually pop open. Granted, it was a shut door not a locked door. But she was four pounds and using her nose. It’s not hard to defeat a door.

            1. JamieS*

              The bunny has piqued my interest. Could she open any door or was it just one specific door?

              1. Not So NewReader*

                Mostly the guest room door. She would push other doors open wider if they were just a little bit ajar.
                But it was like an infection, it spread through all my critters. The cats learned from watching her that they, too, could open doors. They actually reached up and turned the knob.
                For the dog’s part in all this, he knew the other three would open a door for him if he waited long enough. So the 60 pound dog would stand there patiently waiting for the 4 pound bunny or 10 pound cat to open the door for him.
                My generations of critters taught each other this. Long after the bunny had passed I had cats who taught the next cat how to open closed doors. I let the behavior go on because I was fascinated by how they transmitted knowledge to each other.

                1. JamieS*

                  That’s adorable. The only pets I’ve had who could open doors was a dog I had growing up who could open RV doors. We discovered her skill when we went camping and she was caught red-pawed in the neighbors’ RV.

        2. Lindsay J*

          Yup, my house was broken into the same way. Not exactly a battering ram, but they hacked at the door and frame with like a crowbar or something like that until they broke it. Broad daylight. Populated street. It looked like it might have taken them awhile but who knows. It was while we were at work.

          We had a fancy lock that required a code, and keyed deadbolt as well. Didn’t make a difference at all.

    7. Paul*

      our back door is like that; we keep the key on the top of the doorframe so it’s always there but it’d be *very* hard to reach from the window if you busted it out.

      Leaving the key in the lock during the day isn’t much different than just leaving it unlocked though (which we do sometimes during the day if we’re home).

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Wait, why? It seems like leaving the key in is no different than if the lock had a thumb turn lock, right? Either way someone could reach in and turn it. What makes you say the key is less safe?

        1. Paul*

          yeah, that’s why our back door is keyed on both sides, rather than having a thumb turn lock on the inside. But if we left they key in it wouldn’t be any more secure than having a thumb turn lock. So we have it keyed on both sides and keep the key handy but in a place where someone can’t get it if they bust out the window.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Oh, right, yes. I was thrown off by you saying it was the same as leaving it unlocked. Yeah, my thinking is just that it’s more security at night or when we’re away (and have removed the key).

    8. PieInTheBlueSky*

      Our house came with a door with a sidelight, but no double-keyed lock. We decided to have a storm door installed. This required us to create a buildout in front of the sidelight so that the storm door would have something to attach to on that side. When we created the buildout, we added a piece of plexiglass to cover the sidelight. I don’t know if this adds much security to the sidelight, but the storm door helps us feel safer when opening the front door, at least.

    9. Ginandtonic*

      I have no idea if this is something that is available in the US but there are door locks that allow you to lock the thumb turn when you are not home. I’m not sure what the english term for these kinds of locks is but they are called a “two function lock” here in Sweden. (As an example see the Assa Entré lock.)

    10. nonprofit manager*

      We have the same setup with windows on either side of our front door and we do exactly what you describe. Works well for us.

    11. pat benetardis*

      Well now I am feeing paranoid. I have the same kind of doors and no key think like you’re describing. So yeah, anyone could break in. On the other hand, it’s kind of the same as breaking a window so if someone really wants to break in, they will.

      1. Myrin*

        That’s why ground-floor windows in houses without shutters in my area traditionally have (often highly intricate and ornamental) bars in front of them – there was a spike in burglaries around here last year and police actually talked about how the bars are extremely efficient (although not foolproof, of course; like you say, if someone is really set on breaking into your house, they will). I’ve always wondered why this tradition doesn’t seem to have caught on in other parts of the country.

      2. Jeanne*

        You can’t stop every possible break in. Try to make it hard enough that at least they might leave some evidence.

    12. Kathenus*

      Hi Alison – Apologies if this is a double-posting, I tried to submit this morning and assumed it was in moderation because it had a link, but since it’s still not come through I’m re-sending. Check out something called a flip guard from ultimatelock-dot-com.

      And this was referenced by another, but for security see about getting heavier duty lock hardware and having it installed with longer screws – with many break ins it’s the door frame that fails not the lock, that’s what happened to me when someone kicked in the door when I was at work one day. When it was fixed, they used much heavier duty materials to help prevent a re-occurrence.

      1. Emma*

        Yes- this happened with our house. Our front door was kicked down while we were at work. My husband replaced the door & reinforced the frame, but at some point you do the best you can and realize not everything can be prevented.

        From what I’ve learned post-break in is that it’s good to have serial numbers of tvs and such- that’s how our burglar was caught, after he pawned an x box that we had a serial number for. In Virginia, pawn shops (and GameStop) have to enter these into a database, searchable by police.

        Security systems, even fake ones, can be helpful. At the hearing we learned that the thief had stolen much more from others but because we had a (disconnected, non working) ADT keypad by the from door, he didn’t take much time with our house.

        Just some post breakin tips! If you have neighbors (we do, but at the time the house directly by us wasn’t occupied) it’s also helpful exchanging phone numbers & keeping an eye out for each other.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Leave a hallway light on. You’d be amazed how many people will insist someone must be in. “Are you sure nobody’s home? The light is on.” Even when I insist it’s on purely because I left it on to make people think someone is in.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          We would take business cards and hide them in various places. On the cars we’d shove them down between the glass of the window and the door. Bicycles we would take the bike apart and put them inside the frame.

          My father carved his SSN into a cast iron stove. Good thing. That is how he got it back after it was stolen. Using the SSN is probably not a great idea now, but some other identifying mark could be etched into things.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      Not being able to see your exact setting makes it a bit harder, so I’ll just say I like to go for low tech solutions. My first thought was to put a string of bells on the door. Granted, that does nothing if you are not home.

      The Norman Rockwell house in Stockbridge MA has an interesting feature. There is a stair case going to the second floor. Part way up, one step is unusually high. Someone who did not live there would not know that and probably fall or trip in the dark. This got me to think about low tech ways of getting my house to protect itself.
      I don’t oil squeaky hinges, I live with the squeak. I have found a couple other low tech ideas that work well in my house.

      In your case, perhaps, a home security system and you just make sure the side lights are on the system?

      The only other thing I can think of is to not use that door as your primary entrance. Use another door to the side or back of the house. That way you could lock the door and just keep it locked.
      You could also investigate changing the windows in that area. Maybe go with no side light or put a smaller window off to one side and higher up. One caution there, if you take that side window away can you still see who is at the door before you open it?

    14. Allie Oops*

      Our front door and our back patio door both have a lock that thrusts a bolt down into the floor below the door. To unlock it, you have to use the thumb turn while also holding the door lever in the raised position. To lock it, you use the thumb turn while holding the door lever in the lowered position. It requires two hands.

      They are made by ProVia, if you’re interested.

    15. Scarlettnz*

      Thanks. I’ve just realised that we have exactly the same setup as you describe. Mind you today I met a couple of friends for brunch and when I got home a couple of hours later I discovered that I’d left the front door unlocked anyway *rolls eyes*.

    16. Observer*

      Some thoughts:

      Is the glass next to the door really wide enough for someone to be able to get their hand in and maneuver to the lock?

      Reinforced glass in the windows.

      Don’t do something that is going to be such a pain that you’ll stop keeping the door locked at all. I’ve seen that happen at work – Our server room had such “security” on it that people who had a legitimate reason to use it started propping the door open when they needed to be in and out. Our current set up is MUCH better – one good lock and an easy way for people who need access to get in without jumping through hoops. AND a visible security camera.

      Also, make sure that that lock is smooth and non-finicky. You don’t ever want to be in a situation where you can’t get the lock open because you were pushing the key to hard or not hard enough due to whatever else is going on.

    17. Paparrazzi*

      Get a lock where you punch in a code or a fingerprint, like a Schlaege century. You can turn the deadbolt from inside

  11. Fiennes*

    A few months ago I asked about dealing with a depressed partner. Now I have the follow-up problem — much better, but still a problem — how do you realign your relationship *after* depression?

    C is resuming a normal life more day by day. It’s incredibly good to see him taking pleasure in life again, and finding his strength. However, we’d fallen into this pattern where I’m either caretaking on a pretty intense level, or backing off completely for him to process. We’re still in that mode, just with less intensity, but it needs to end. Honestly, after the last few months, I kind of need some care taking too. But I’m so hesitant to ask for it, bc I don’t know what he’s ready for, and I’m positive he doesn’t recognize that I need this. (He appreciates me, but keeps referring to me as his rock, a pillar of strength, etc, which is hardly the whole truth.)

    How do you get back to a more equal footing again?

    1. ThatGirl*

      Do something nice for yourself. And be honest with him… Say that you’re so glad he’s getting back to himself, but it’s been hard for you too and you’re feeling a little fragile. See what he says. Ask for something if you think he can give it. Honestly my husband has depression and sometimes taking care of someone else can be therapeutic for him, gives him something else to focus on.

    2. Kay*

      I wish I had some advice for you but I’m following this closely. My partner is still mired in deep depression but I have hopes that I’ll be facing your stage of the challenge soon.

    3. neverjaunty*

      Just tell him! It’s not good for him to lean on you all the time without reciprocating. That would be a professional caretaker, not a romantic partner.

    4. Kj*

      Can you both take turns planning things to do with the other? Maybe on a specific day? That way you both practice being caring and letting the other care for you. Or plan a trip away together and take the time to sit together and talk about what you both want? You need to practice being partners. There is always the standard go-to-Ikea-and-build furniture-together.

      I’d also see if the two of you could talk this out with his therapist (assuming he has one). This is a pretty common issue post-depression. I think a session or two with the therapist would help both of you express needs and plan how to get them met.

    5. rj*

      some friends in similar situations have gone for counselling for themselves – because being a caretaker is a lot of work, and means that you put your own needs on the backburner, which is ok for a time but often not ok for the long-term. You have needs too, and you should ask for them to be met, even if your partner can’t do it all right away. That way you can get on the trajectory of getting them met. Something easier for right now might be (since it seems like you have been doing a ton for him lately) to plan something for yourself, or with friends, for the next week.

    6. Becca*

      My husband and I have gone to couples therapy to redefine ‘we’ after dealing with my depression. Changing a dynamic can be really hard, and if it’s a possibility for you, I’d recommend looking into it! It provides a safe space for you both to talk about the current dynamic—and have non-judgmental help in transitioning into a healthier one.

      Bottom line? Even if he’s not at a point where he can be exactly what you need, there’s no way for him to aim for that without a discussion where you talk it through, in therapy or not.

      Glad to hear that C is doing better; good luck in working through the current tangle.

    7. Temperance*

      I think this might require a difficult conversation.

      Not mental illness related, but last year, I had a pretty serious health crisis that took months to recover from. It sucked, for both of us. I got sick in February, and finished PT at the end of July.

      We planned small dates and I strongly encouraged him to get out and do fun things without me. It might have been different because, while I felt guilty about my limits, it was non-negotiable.

  12. Kathenus*

    Hi Alison – there are products that can secure a thumb lock when desired that you may want to check out to avoid the double keyed drawbacks – one option called a flip guard at http://www.theultimatelock.com/

    Also suggest considering the depth that the locks go into the doorframe, and the length of the screws attaching all the parts as well. I had someone kick in the door one place I lived, the lock held, but the short (normal length) screws into the door frame and the fact the deadbolt only went a relatively short (normal length) depth in were the points of failure. When it was repaired they used heavier duty products to help reduce the chances it could happen again easily.

  13. CatCat*

    My poor spouse has been getting flare ups of severe nerve pain in his leg. This has never happened and he’s been to the doctor three times about it already. He is supposed to see a physical therapist at the end of the month. It almost goes away entirely during the day, but at night, it’s the worst and he has been sleeping very poorly. His doctor gave him a prescription for a medication that is supposed to help with the pain and sleep, but it hasn’t been that effective. He was also directed to do stretches before bed. That helps a little, but not much.

    Has anyone ever dealt with anything like this before? Any strategies for dealing with it that you can share?

    1. fposte*

      What kind of doctor has he been to? Has he been diagnosed with any back problems, before if not this time? Anybody talked about piriformis issues? Have you looked into a massage therapist?

      Nerve pain can often just take a while to settle down, but if it’s still being really annoyed by whatever initially bugged it, it’s not likely to be speedy. If it’s back, changing the sleeping surface can help a lot. Bring out all the pillows in the world and have him prop himself the hell up in whatever position he sleeps in (pillow between the legs can be really helpful for side sleepers); another possibility is to put a bit of padding on the floor and have him try sleeping on it one night as an experiment–if that helps, he needs a really firm mattress for stability.

      If it’s piriformis, messing around with a tennis ball can be hugely helpful, and that’s not going to hurt anything if it’s not the piriformis so it’s worth a try anyway; have him sit on the floor and roll his butt slowly around on a tennis ball, looking for the torture spots on the affected side.

    2. rj*

      yes. I have chronic pain in my legs – I have orthotics and have gone to see PT in the past (this was one of the best things I ever did, because it was the kind where they teach you what to do so you don’t have to keep going back). I learned that piriformis pain can radiate down the leg, and into the back. If it’s calf pain/plantar fasciitis, rolling around on the tennis ball on the calves or bottom of feet has helped me a lot. So has yoga – I do yoga with Adriene on youtube. I find the breathing component of yoga might be as helpful, or more helpful, than some of the stretching.

    3. Courageous Cat*

      A lot of people have really, really good results with kratom. I can’t speak to the pain aspect of it as I don’t particularly have any but I get a lot of other benefits from it as well. It may be worth looking into – it took me a week of research to feel comfortable trying it.

    4. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I blew out a lumbar disc last year and the nerve pain was excruciating, all the time, even once the back spasms subsided. I didn’t get a full nights sleep for months until I was put on amitriptylene and muscle relaxers (and boy let me tell you what a pain it was to detox off the ami). There is a chart, however, that relates where the nerve pain is located with the corresponding path to the back area. Mine (large toe, inside foot, outer calf) was spot on for the lumbar and sure enough the MRI showed a giant piece of disc wedged in the nerve canal. Note: I never had full sciatica, and what I thought was piriformis and some muscle that was inflamed hitting the nerve, that wasn’t the case. The stretches sort of helped, but not really. For me it just took a lot of time for the material to be reabsorbed and Im still not 100% but I am back in the pool and getting stronger weekly with a swim routine and pool aerobic/interval training with “weights”.

      Does he sleep in a certain way that would aggravate the back? I am really stiff in the mornings now and when I lay down my toe nerve pain flares a little (annoying but not serious) and I think its due to the angle at which I am sitting/laying. Does he sit a lot at work and at home?

      For dealing with it – one weekend when I had the second go round of massive back spasms but before I was on the muscle relaxers I had to wait until Monday to get to the doctor. I cannot tell you how long that night felt but I was so desperate I tried guided mediation to remove focus from the pain (along with deep breathing and holding my partners hand). It was great and I fell asleep for an hour until it felt like hot lava was being poured on my foot. I also used ice in a baggy wedged between my toes to deaden the nerve pain (before the ami was prescribed) which allowed some sleep… until the ice melted! Any chance of using an ice pack?

      Nerve pain is the WORST though and its not like you can put a bandaid on it, or take a Advil, or put it in a splint. It can also be generated by all sorts of things too and just NAG at you to the point where you want to tear your hair out.

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, I’m going to be on Lyrica forever for mine post-surgery; it’s not perfect, but it makes a huge difference.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      A few thoughts but no miracle cures.
      First hydration. Lack of water does such awful things. Help him set a goal of how much his daily water intake should be. Fill a pitcher with that amount each morning. When the pitcher is empty at night he has hit his goal for he day. (This one took out most of my pain, but mine is not severe.)
      Second. How old is your mattress?
      Third: Does he carry his wallet in his back pocket? People can end up with sciatica from that.

    6. ptrish*

      I had a nerve injury last year–a nurse nicked the nerve in my arm while drawing blood. I’m better now, but it took 2-3 weeks to see any improvement at all, and close to six months before I was pain-free. It still feels a little tight sometimes and it’s been about ten months. My doctor had me take the max dose of ibuprofen and also use a warm compress. (disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional, this is just what worked for me!)

    7. Paul*

      After I hurt my back last month, I’ve been having near constant pain in my left thigh (like a seam of fire on the outside of my thigh; it hurts like hell). I’m kind of the same–it’s worse after I’ve been lying down. My doctor suggested sleepign in my recliner but I can’t sleep worth a damn like that myself. In my case it was a pinched nerve, and there’s not a lot they can actually do to fix that particular issue, just manage symptoms.

      A good stretch before bed, and walkign in the evenings, is helping a little. Walk a mile, come home, stretch 10-15 minutes. It isn’t making it all the way better, but it has helped some. That and a heat pad. I’ve taped heat packs–like peoplle use to warm up in the winter–to my leg a few times when it’s bad.

    8. Chaordic One*

      I agree with most of the suggestions offered here. Staying hydrated, trying to exercise, and probably seeing a physical therapist. Physical therapy takes times, but it really made a difference for me. I never really had much luck with OTC painkillers or different rubs like Icy Hot or Capzacin.

      I found walking and running to be difficult and biking was a good substitute. I also had trouble sleeping and it seemed like all the pillows in the world didn’t help. Sometimes I slept in a recliner and I think having some kind of an adjustable bed would have been helpful.

      1. Saucy Minx*

        I found a rocking chair to be most helpful for sciatica. Really helps take the muscles out of spasm.

        There are several yoga poses that also bring relief, as does PT. Google “exercises to relieve sciatica” for results.

    9. Observer*

      New mattress.

      If he hasn’t seen an orthopedist, he should. And, perhaps a neurologist.

      Also, consider a better chair, if he spends a lot of time sitting.

    10. EmmBee*

      I did some nerve damage to some vertebrae many years back (thanks, running!) that caused pain and discomfort to shoot down my left thigh. I tried lots of things, both medical and not. Yoga/stretching helped, though probably mentally more than physically. Acupuncture really helped.

    11. Natalie*

      Obviously a doctor would have to determine if this would help your husband, but my husband got an epidural injection of steroids for his sciatica. It helped a ton – it’s been a couple of months and he is still pain free. We went on a vacation involving a lot of hiking a couple of weeks after the treatment and he was amazed. The effect can last anywhere from a week to a year and the treatment can be repeated every few months. It’s a very weird procedure, though – my husband had a brief (a day or two) emotional reaction to having something injected into his spine.

  14. Language Student*

    I realised the other day that when I’m thinking seriously about living abroad in the future, I’ll be limited to where my (future and same-sex) marriage will be recognised. Which means that maybe I won’t be able to live in some of the places I’d really like to – or at least, my partner couldn’t come with me or we’d need to do visas and such separately. It wouldn’t be so frustrating if I just wanted to travel a little, but these are places I’d like to actually live. :/
    Advice? Should I just give up on living there or are there ways to work things out that I don’t know of?

    1. Fiennes*

      Is this about permanently resettling or living for a few years? If the latter–why not go ahead now, before marrying? I can’t tell from your question whether the partner/future marriage are theoretical, rather than a real person with a wedding date on the horizon. If so, and your finances career permit — do it as soon as you can. It gets tougher as you get older & accrue relationships/real estate/junk.

      1. Language Student*

        It’s the latter, but we can’t, really, right now. I’m partway through my undergrad and a month into a 6-month lease on a place we’d like to keep for a few years. We haven’t set a wedding date yet, but it looks like we’ll get engaged this year (celebrated our 5 year anniversary last month!) and married very possibly before/when I graduate. Hopefully we can go right after I graduate, though! (Also, wow, where does all that junk *come* from? When we moved, there were boxes full of stuff that I don’t even remember buying!)

    2. Christy*

      I just decided to give up on that. My (single, gay) friend just finished a stint in Northern Africa as a diplomat and he was essentially told to closet himself at work. While working for the US government under the Obama administration. With nondiscrimination laws. And there were homophobic comments at his work from the locals. (They never learned he was gay.)

      I just don’t want to live like that. I had the good fortune to be born so that I could openly, legally marry a woman and I’m not going to give that up to live somewhere that doesn’t want me.

      You could make other choices for yourself, certainly, but it’s not worth it to me.

      1. Language Student*

        Yeah, I can understand your stance. I’ve been lucky enough to have been able to be out pretty much always, so moving to being closeted won’t be easy. But going to these countries is basically the start of my career – I want to teach languages, including English, and I want to build experience in countries where I can actually get a job with minimal experience (plus at least one country I *have* to go to if I want to teach that language here when I come back). So it’s not something that I’m willing to give up on, but I can get behind your point of view.

        1. Gaia*

          This is a terrible position to be put in and one that no one should have to face. I don’t have advice, only support.

    3. Springtime in Paris*

      Yeah – I’ve been in a same-sex marriage for years but it was really only last year when a concrete opportunity turned up in a place that definitely would not have recognised my wife as such that I thought about our limitations because of that. For us it’s the kids that make it a no-go though. Had it just been the 2 of us we would have been ok with being somewhere for a limited period where we could not officially be a couple if the opportunity was exciting enough and we could find a way to get a residence permit for her in a different way. But we don’t want to tell our kids that ‘in this country, we refer to mommy as auntie when we’re outside our own four walls’. I’m otherwise completely out in my work and personal life and am lucky to live in a country with full marital and adoption rights for same-sex couples

      1. Language Student*

        Yeah, going back in the closet as a couple is one thing, but with kids? Just the thought of telling little kids that is so sad. My country’s the same – we got full marital rights a year after I came out, and I came out pretty much immediately after realising. I can only imagine what it must be like for those of us in much worse situations. :/

    4. misspiggy*

      It depends how much you want the work – there are workarounds to get you and your partner placed, but none are perfect.

      I know a few people who have lived in all kinds of places with their same sex partner, out to their employer but not to the local population. If the employer is able to operate under international rules (like UN, humanitarian organisations etc.), they should be able to get a spouse visa for an accompanied post. In very homophobic settings, local colleagues don’t know there is a partner, and are not invited home until they have shown themselves trustworthy and supportive. Housekeeping staff usually don’t care, as long as they don’t see any PDA, and are vetted by the employing organisation anyway.

      So the spouse ends up living a very quiet life and socialising as a couple is only donr with other expats. Sometimes one spouse will live and work in an easier nearby country with good transport links. One usually does have to put up with negative comments from one or two colleagues, who have no idea that they’re insulting a valued colleague.

  15. Annie Moose*

    I find myself in kind of a weird situation. Not sure if I need advice or just want to vent.

    I have a friend–well, more of an acquaintance. We’re internet friends. Wakeen is a smart person, but he’s had a lot of issues in her life. He got kicked out of his parents’ house a year or two ago (I don’t know the details), and since then has worked a string of restaurant and retail jobs in various cities. He’s been homeless off and on, had some monumentally terrible roommates, and currently is living with family. (not his parents)

    The issue is, and I really hate to say this, but it seems like Wakeen brings a lot of his troubles on his own head. He’s constantly job-hopping. And every time, it’s the greatest! Thing! Ever! Right up until he’s worked there a week, at which point he starts looking somewhere else. So he never has any money, because a) he’s working minimum-wage jobs anyway and b) he never works somewhere long enough to build up any savings. And he’s also kind of an argumentative and sometimes angry person, and thinks he’s better than these terrible jobs he works. (which he probably is, but you can’t tell your boss that)

    His latest crisis is that after moving back in with family, they want him to start paying rent. Except he doesn’t have any money, because he quit the first job he got and doesn’t have very many hours at the second job yet, and he’s upset because his family is ragging on him for not being very sociable (they’re probably right) and not helping around the house (they may or may not be right). So now he wants to move out, which he definitely doesn’t have the money to do, or even move to a different state like he has before (which he DEFINITELY doesn’t have the money to do). Or go to college, or work in IT, or one of a million other crazy plans he comes up with.

    I just… feel like he’s making the exact same decisions that led him to be homeless in the middle of winter for awhile. And while I don’t want to blame him for that, it wasn’t entirely his fault, I can’t help but think that it’s at least a little bit his fault. Maybe I’m just being elitist over here with my college degree and salaried position. I mean, if I had to work terrible restaurant jobs and live with family I didn’t like, I’d be pretty dissatisfied too. But I kinda want to reach out and shake him and go, just suck it up for a year! Or even six months!!

    But… what can you say? I just sort of make commiserative noises and say “that sucks” and sometimes try to make a savings account sound really exciting. And try to get him to read AAM to understand that lots of people hate their jobs but just have to deal with it. I feel terrible for him, but I don’t think there’s anything else I can do.

    1. Annie Moose*

      If I am just being elitist, by the way, please tell me so. I’ve never been in his situation so I worry I’m being too judgy. “Ooooh, if you just were a better person, you wouldn’t be poor!” Yeah, no.

      1. Artemesia*

        Chronically homeless people are usually either substance abusers or mentally ill or both. The next big category are people like Wakeen who make consistently bad decisions and don’t take responsibility for themselves. People who have temporary bad luck and end up homeless usually manage to get off the street and not end up there for long periods. If Wakeen were pulling his oar at the place where he is mooching and were pleasant to have around, I’ll bet his relatives would not be nagging him about rent. If when he took a job, he worked hard and held his temper, he would have some money. There isn’t much you can do here except when he whines ask him ‘what are you going to do differently so this doesn’t keep happening?’ There isn’t much a bystander can do especially when he isn’t asking for advice.

        I know several people whose job history is similar to Wakeen. They get a new job, they are thrilled with it, it will be different than last time and then of course it isn’t perfect and they get disgruntled and move on. Happens once, it is the job; happens repeatedly and it is the worker. Alas there is nothing you can do for people who are not seeking advice or help.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          “If Wakeen were pulling his oar at the place where he is mooching and were pleasant to have around, I’ll bet his relatives would not be nagging him about rent.”

          Sorry but you can’t assume this. You don’t know about the family finances or dynamics, so I don’t think this is a helpful assumption to make

    2. Myrin*

      I think there are people who are like that (always super!! excited!! about everything, but only for about a week before boredom hits; impatient; give up on stuff very easily), people who’ve had a crappy life from early on, people who have the worst luck and get in the most unfortunate situations, and people who have no idea (either because they’re oblivious by nature or because they never learnt it) how the working world/being responsible/living as an adult work; Wakeen seems to combine all of the above inside his person.

      I agree with you that there’s probably not anything you can say or do, especially if you’re just online acquaintances (as opposed to real-life close friends) and unless he directly asks you about it.

    3. fposte*

      I think as humans we naturally tend to think other people feel and perceive pretty much the same things we do. And I think we’re very often wrong. This reminds me a little bit of Marie’s great posts on domestic violence, where people who haven’t experienced it and swear they’d leave are thinking of themselves as being their strongest selves, when in reality it’s more like when you’re bedridden with the flu. A goofier way of thinking of it is when you’re out with your dog and your dog thinks the person approaching you is your friend because he has a beard, and you’re like “Dog, this is obviously a different person we don’t know.”

      Decision-making isn’t simply free will. Whether because of innate wiring (all kinds of neurodivergence could be relevant here) or how circumstances have affected his processing, Wakeen can’t see the difference between the random person with a beard and a friend with a beard. So what seems crystal clear to you isn’t something he sees, while to him the thing that’s absolutely obvious is to you a trick of the light.

      So I think your problem now is more to negotiate the “What do I do?” And honestly, sometimes you have to decide that you can’t hear much more venting on a subject, regardless of why somebody is in it. If you’re in that position, you can go for the Carolyn Hax “What are you going to do about that?”; you can also redirect, sometimes explicitly, to a different subject. I have one friend that I’ve been negotiating this with for years, because I can’t cope with having our friendship being about how much she dislikes her husband, even as I understand there are reasons why she’s still with him.

      1. neverjaunty*

        This is the best of all comments.

        You can’t help people who don’t want to take a hard look at why they need to change, and really, they’re not asking for your help. Make sympathetic noises and move on.

    4. Hey Anonny Nonny*

      I don’t think you’re being elitist. There’s two options, really. One is to continue on as you have been, making sympathetic noises, but also ask things like, “What do you think you should do about that?” or similar to get him to think about/verbalize his actual plans to change his circumstances.

      The other option is to say to him, once, point-blank, something like, “I really care about you and I hate to see you struggling. I’ve noticed that you seem to do XXXX a lot, and I don’t think it’s helping you. I’d hate to see you end up homeless because you won’t keep a job longer than a week. Have you thought about trying XXXX?” and then let it go after that. Wakeen will either realize what he’s doing isn’t working and make changes, or he won’t.

      Remember it isn’t your responsibility to manage his life. If he ends up homeless that’s his issue to manage and it won’t be your fault for not “saving” him. It’s really tough when you can see an obvious solution to a friend’s problems and they just won’t do it, but you can’t live other people’s lives for them. And if it becomes too much to listen to him talk about this stuff, it’s okay to change the subject or end the conversation early.

      1. Sherm*

        I really like that: Whatever happens to him is not your fault. It’s not because you failed, not because you didn’t come up with the “right” words that would kick him in the behind. I don’t think we can change anyone (although I haven’t entirely given up trying lol). We can just be there for our friends, and even vent our frustrations — I think it’s okay to say “You’ve been complaining a lot but what are you going to do about it?” Say it for you, for your need to get it out of your system, instead of for him. But it’s not entirely selfish. You’re opening up to him, showing how you really feel, letting him know that you’re thinking of him and care.

    5. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I have friends like this. They are talented and brilliant, and have these great plans, but they don’t have money, so they scrape up the money, and then something breaks or they hit a bump, and because they have no reserves it wreaks havoc with their plan. I want to grab them and shake them and say “Just take a crap job and save up for six months or a year, or five or ten even! You already know you can live on practically nothing, so you can save like crazy and really do [plan] right!” But they have both held regular jobs, and I think it made them miserable, so at least now their plans give them hope, maybe? I don’t know, I don’t understand it, but I don’t think they would be able to carry that out any more than I could NOT plan and prepare.

      A really nice, social, smart guy was fired at my w***place, and it was kind of puzzling, but I didn’t w*** directly with him, so I had no idea what went on. I asked his supervisor, with whom I’m also friendly, just to ask if it was anything that I should worry about if I kept in touch socially, and that supervisor said that it wasn’t embezzling or anything, but the employee was his own worst enemy. I think that also might apply to this type of situation.

      Whether it’s emotional intelligence, executive function, or just a different set of priorities, some people will just live their lives this way.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      He might need some anger management help. Professional help, not you. Even if that is your profession. He needs someone who is detached.

      Some how he needs to get away from these retail type jobs. I actually agree with him that it’s great until it’s not. Then it is terrible. You can gently point out his circle and ask him where the opportunities are to break out of this circular response to employment.

      I had a friend who took reeeally crappy jobs. The job tired her right out and the pay was low. We talked about what she gravitated toward in her spare time. She liked cooking and woodworking. So we talked about jobs that would involve these activities. She’s been working in kitchens ever since and absolutely fine with the work.

      On a sadder note, a different friend recently said to me, “No one in my life has ever talked to me about jobs or about careers. Ever.” My friend is pushing 60. He said, “I wish someone had helped me when I was younger.”
      I get this. No one ever helped me either.

      So how does this conversation look? Well, it could go, “Friend, wouldn’t it be nice to get off this merry-go-round of employed at crappy job then unemployed from crappy job and actually have a job you like?” He will hem and haw. “Well, let’s talk about things that interest you, what do you do with your spare time? What do you like to read about or tinker with?”
      This is a happy, non-judgemental conversation, you guys are just talking about good stuff in life.

      Hope for the best, expect nothing and praise any forward steps you see.

    7. Ramona Flowers*

      I have a friend like this – whenever he gets a job it’s only a matter of time before he quits. You cannot save him from himself!

    8. Aphrodite*

      The truth is you cannot do anything that will help. He sees himself as being owned a living (not just a living but the kind of living he wants (and he feels he deserves). I have a sister very similar to this; she’s been on family assistance and later government assistance for decades but can’t save anything. She can’t even save a dime for tomorrow let alone next week or month. To be honest, he is going to drain you emotionally if not financially. I know you might not be ready for this, but let him go. It won’t affect him much because he will soon find someone else to play to sympathetic role in his life.

      Save yourself. You can’t save him.

    9. Observer*

      you’re not being elitist. He doesn’t sound like a bad person but he sounds like he’s either an idiot or someone with problems that he needs to acknowledge an get help for. Lots of people stay in lousy jobs (even people with degrees!) because that’s what they need to do to get by. Of course, if a job is abusive or dangerous, that’s a different story, but that doesn’t seem to be what’s going on.

      There is not much you can say, really. Getting him to read AAM might actually be useful as it can help to provide a reality check without being too judgy (mostly). Also, you might be able to suggest getting a work coach and / or counseling. That’t the kind of thing you can do ONCE and ONCE ONLY, but if he’s open to listening, that could be he best thing that you could do for him.

  16. Perpetua*

    How to thank someone for letting you use their vacation home?

    My partner and I are currently staying (for the 2nd time) at a wonderful house in a very picturesque part of our country, owned by his distant relatives. They’re a couple in mid 50s, living abroad, no kids, and they only use this house for 4 weeks a year, so they generously invited us to come and stay here whenever it’s vacant. It’s a lovely place in a lovely region and we’re really grateful for this, so we’d like to show our appreciation! When we mentioned that to them, they said that we should just send a happy selfie from the house. :P Which we will, of course!

    There’s a local family who takes care of the house year-round and does the cleaning, for which we’ll pay, but I keep thinking if there is something else we could do/buy/send by mail to say thanks?

    What’s your take on this?

      1. Perpetua*

        Unfortunately, it’s not really a thing in either of our countries. There’s almost a 1000 km distance between us, so it’d have to be a specialised local service over there, which I don’t think it exists, but I’ll look into it a bit more!

    1. rj*

      I never know what to do in these situations. If it’s people who would not take a gift, or who would give me a gift for staying with them (these people were Mormons so maybe it’s religious/cultural? Anyway, the nicest people I have ever met). I left a donation for something important to them, along with a handwritten card.

    2. Fiennes*

      Could you get something nice for the house itself? A colorful tablecloth, a set of nice glasses, some piece of electronics they don’t have, etc. — sometimes those come across less like personal gifts (which some people are awkward to accept) but contributions to the home. You’re acknowledging their generosity in making your vacation better by making *their* future vacations better. And a lot of times, even a well-appointed vacation home lacks a few little luxuries, the kinds of things that are easy to spot.

    3. Saguaro*

      My SIL has a vacay home and when friends stayed there, as a thank you they sent her a frame with pics from around the area. Things like pretty landscapes or local attractions. Nothing too large. My SIL loved it because it was something she would not have thought to do herself, and she hung it on the wall in the vacay home. I like this idea.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Pics are a great idea. An aerial shot might be something unique that they would appreciate. People around here keep their aerial shots forever and it’s usually hung up somewhere in the house.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Buy a really nice bottle of wine and leave it in a prominent place in the home. Maybe with some unusual or interesting glasses, if you find them.

    5. Artemesia*

      We did this recently in Paris. It began to get kind of hot and we noticed the apartment didn’t have a fan, so we went out and bought a nice fan and they were thrilled to have it as they are heading to the apartment in August. So if you notice something the house needs — that is an idea. e.g. Would new towels be appropriate, a new set of nice coffee mugs, placemats, wine glasses. If there isn’t something obviously useful for the house than perhaps a nice food gift for them. We have been the recipient of gourmet bacon every quarter for some time now and in the past a relative gave us periodic deliveries of fancy cheeses that we always looked forward to. There are some lovely things like that available.

    6. Bagpuss*

      consider sending a handwritten letter to them thanking them forth use of the house, as well as the photo. tell them a few of the things you particularly enjoyed doing/visiting during your visit(s) to the house.
      Leave a few little treats or gifts in the house (wrapped or labelled to them, if others will be using it before they next visit) – if you do notice anything that the house ‘needs’ that could be a good choice, otherwise things such as a nie bottle of wine / good quality coffee or tea, or fancy cookies or even tings which might be hard for them to get in the country they are currently living in, and might enjoy when they come home.

    7. Perpetua*

      Thanks, everyone, for the great ideas! We’ll try to find something nice/unique in the area before we leave – the house is extremely well equipped, but maybe something decorative AND useful might work. If all else fails, our backup will be the nice wine + nice tea + a handwritten note (or even a postcard sent to their home).

      Now off to enjoy the rest of the week here! :)

  17. Me2*

    I’m getting a new PUPPY today!! My one and a half year old Bernese mountain dog has been feeling the loss of his older brother who died in March. We’re heading out today to pick up our new little boy!

      1. Me2*

        Another Bernese mountain dog, they are the dogs of my heart! Big, happy, lazy, loving speed bumps.

    1. all aboard the anon train*

      Awww, yay! I love Berners. I’ve been thinking of getting one to be the younger cousin to my parents’ Newfie.

      I love the Gentle Giant breeds. They’re the laziest, happiest dogs. And make amazing pillows when you want to take a nap.

      1. AfterBurner313*


        BMD are a bit too big for me, but the breed is just lovely.

        My dream dog is a Gordon Setter, but I don’t have an acre of land to keep it happy.

        Enjoy your new friend.

        (I love happy news)

        1. all aboard the anon train*

          They’re one of the sweetest dogs breeds. When my siblings and I were young, we used to go swimming in one of the lakes nearby, and any Newfie we had would try to rescue us from the water. Which was hilarious, so we got in the habit of getting an inflatable raft they could just pull us in around the lake.

    2. Kms1025*

      Are you my S I L? She loves these dogs and they’re her babies. And she rather recently had one pass away. Are you in W Va?

    3. Asterix*

      Congrats! There used to be two in my neighborhood ( both died unfortunately), and my small dog, who tends to feel threatened and growls at most large dogs, would go beside himself with joy when he saw them. I don’t know what it was about them, but he would run circles around them and roll over, while wagging his tail wildly.

    4. Gingerblue*

      Oh, congrats! BMDs are awesome. I’ll never have a dog, but I love other people’s, and big dogs are my favorites.

      We got two new kittens last weekend. New pets are the best.

        1. Gingerblue*

          We’re still trying names out and nothing has really stuck, but I’m pretty sure they’re both going to think they’re called “Kitty! No!” before too long.

          (They’re actually pretty well-behaved, but oh my god, so much energy and curiosity. I’d forgotten how many more things kittens can fit into and behind than adult cats.)

          1. Ramona Flowers*

            My favourite pair-of-kitten names I’ve heard are Joey and DeeDee, and Trilby and Fedora. Are there any bands, books, TV shows, films etc you like that might provide inspiration? Or is it just that nothing suits them? My cat is named after a character in a Grease…

            My grandad once spent several hours searching after his cat had kittens and they went awol. They turned out to have squashed in behind the boiler as it was all warm and cosy!

          2. Me2*

            We got a brother and sister kittens, we called them The Eight Paw Wrecking Crew. They’re now almost 14 years old, and still sleep snuggled up together every day.

  18. The Dating Life*

    I am not sure how to think of this. I’ve been on a couple of dates and on Tues had suggested on do something this sat lunch time. Then I didn’t hear anything so I checked in with her on Fri morning. I really thought she was ghosting me. She replied at 1 am sat, when I was sleeping, so I got her message this morning. She said she had been super busy and she couldn’t do what I had suggested anyway b/c of an ongoing commitment I did not know about, she suggested other things. Part of me feels she was rude, part of me feels I am taking this way too seriously, but I do feel hurt, and I can tell I have internally taken a step back. I keep thinking that when I’m excited about someone, I will find the time to write them a short note, apart from the whole politeness thing. A few days are not in general a big deal except that I had suggested this activity on Sat. But I also know I’m not the best with last minute plans and I am not the best at social interactions so…any insights?

    1. fposte*

      I don’t think it’s whether her behavior is okay according to some external standard or not, it’s whether it will work for you. I’m not a big ongoing texter, and I do get really busy, so that part would be me and wouldn’t bother me. However, I am a planner, so I would want to know whether to keep that time open or not. I therefore would tend to ask somebody to let me know by Wednesday (or whenever) if they’re in.

      It’s okay to want a relationship where there’s more texting between dates; lots of people have those. It’s okay to want a relationship where you never text; people have those too. What you want to avoid is assuming you’ll get either of them or anything in between and then considering somebody to be misbehaving if they don’t automagically fall in with that unstated ideal. So maybe you decide that a nontexter isn’t for you, or maybe if you like her see if you can find another face to face time and then just have a low-key conversation about planning to see if you can find a way that works better for both of you.

      1. The Dating Life*

        This is really helpful, separating the texting from the planning. I think it’s the lack of planning that was more annoying to me but then it kicked off anxieties/insecurities about dating and it threw me off or more off than it would if I was dealing with someone else’s more casual approach to planning.

    2. Courageous Cat*

      I’d proceed cautiously and not invest much into it. I just don’t buy that people get soooo busy they just can’t return a text; not if you really like someone. If I am interested in someone, I make time to contact them in a timely manner, because these kinds of things are important when you are trying to date.

      1. Observer*

        But different people handle this stuff differently. Of course, it is possible that she’s less invested in TDL than he is, but not necessarily.

        On the other hand, fposte is correct – that’s only part of the question anyway. Even if they are both super excited, they also need to be able to meet each other’s needs – if he’s a planner and she’s not, for instance, that’s something they either need to work out or move on.

    3. Simone R*

      Honestly, it seems like you are more invested in this relationship than she is. I don’t think what she did is particularly rude, just a sign that she has things going on that are higher priority right now. That doesn’t mean that if you kept going out this could change! If that’s not what you want right now it’s fair to take a step back on your end.

      In general, I have friends who take forever to respond to making plans, some because they are bad at saying no, and some that I trust will respond in time either with another suggestion or saying yes. This varies from person to person and it’s up to me to decide whether their habit annoys me enough to take a few steps back from the friendship or whether I can trust them enough and it’s worth it to me.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Some people are fast paced and some people are slow paced. This is about their sense of time frame and sense of urgency.
      I have couple of friends who will say, “I will call you at 11 am” and this actually means 3 or 4 pm. They realize they are not running on time, but they do little to change it, as this is their norm. These are the folks who provoke a hard eye roll when they tell their families, “See you at 10:30.”
      I’d be more apt to accept it in a friend than in an SO.
      And I can also overlook it more if the person calls to say, “I am running late, go on without me.”

      It’s only a deal breaker if you can’t move forward. I don’t think there is any “correct answer”. Sometimes these annoyances happen because we have been overlooking previous annoyances or yellow flags.

    5. Maya Elena*

      Outcomes are sometimes the best indicators of intentions. Don’t sulk, forgive her if she shows further interest, but also downgrade your expectations because she’s probably less into the relationship than you.

      (It’s kind of like, if you’ve been friends with benefits for a decade, a guy probably isn’t looking to be your boyfriend.)

  19. Typhon Worker Bee*

    Combo electric bike and crowdfunding question!

    I’m moving in a couple of weeks, and my new commute home will have a VERY big hill at the end. I’m resigned to the fact that it’ll take me a few weeks to be able to cycle up it all in one go while schlepping my panniers full of work clothes, shoes, purse etc, and luckily I have zero pride about being seen pushing the bike. But I’m also thinking of getting one of those add-on electric assist kits to help out.

    My husband found a really cool electric assist “smart wheel” on a Kickstarter-like site. But I’ve only crowd funded non-tangible things like podcast series before, so I don’t have much useful experience with how the sites work. How likely am I to actually get a smart wheel rather than a refund of my money? How likely are they to blow the predicted timeline? Is it wise to buy something I can’t even try out or see demoed, or should I buy a different kind of kit instead? Can anyone recommend an alternative electric assist kit that works really well? (I love my current bike and want to keep it, rather than buying a new electric one)

    Thanks in advance!

    1. rj*

      I would go to a bike store rather than something on kickstarter – I think a bike store should be able to fit you with an electrical assist, or tell you where you could find one. I have done kickstarters to support people, small businesses, etc, and so I didn’t really care about the prize at the end.

    2. fposte*

      Agreed on the bike shop–but when’d you change your username? And thanks for sending me to Wikipedia :-).

      1. Typhon Worker Bee*

        Heh, actually, when a new season of one of the sci fi audio drama podcasts I crowdfunded came out! (It’s called Sayer and it is exquisite. But remember: There Are No Bees on Typhon). I’d been thinking of changing my user name anyway as there are a couple of other people using similar names, so it seemed like a good time, and obscure enough that no-one else is likely to have anything similar!

    3. LCL*

      I haven’t ridden any type of electric bike. I am a bit leery of this design, because it will be adding torque and stress to the front end which wasn’t designed for those forces. I would worry about effects to the dropouts and the headset. Mechanical engineers, help me out here.

      If you are willing to gamble with the money, buy it and see what happens. It may be the coolest most functional thing ever. The Copenhagen wheel looks interesting, but it is way more expensive and replacing the back wheel isn’t as simple as they make it sound.

    4. Lindsay J*

      Actually it’s entirely possible that you wind up with neither a product or a refund, and you would have no recourse through Kickstarter or Indiegogo. In many (most?) of the spectacular failures that is what has happened. You might be able to chargeback through your credit card, but sometimes the time between when the charge was made and when the thing finally obviously implodes is so long that a chargeback doesn’t even really work.

      Everything I’ve ever supported (other than a fiction anthology a friend had a story in) has blown it’s timeline. By several months.

      Anything that relies on new technology I would be really skeptical about. Doubly so with anything that involves a custom manufacturing process for the technology. It seems like a lot of the people that try to start these things wind up in way over their heads when it comes to actually sourcing materials and getting them assembled in bulk. Assembling a prototype is one thing, mass production is another entirely.

      1. Lindsay J*

        Actually, now that I say all that, I actually looked at the product page.

        And looked it up on Kickstarter. It looks like their first batch shipped today, so they already have everything in place.

        This one should be entirely safe and should ship when they say it will.

  20. Akcipitrokulo*

    I was at the Big Latch On today, where we try to get as many babies breastfeeding at the same time as possible! We did it in the local ikea and I think had 24.

    It will probably be my last time joining in, but will be there as a supporter next year. Baby two is now 5y 6m 16 days so I think he was the oldest of the 24 nursling!

    I think is also probably last time I will nurse him in public. I’ve taken part in 5 BLOs now – the first 3 were tandeming with his big brother up to when they were 3 &5.

  21. fish feud*

    Does anyone have any advice about how to write a wedding ceremony, or where to find good examples of officiants addresses (rather than just vows)? I am officiating my friends wedding in about a month and have never done it before. They’re being helpful in telling me what they want, but I’m still stressing about what I’m going to say. My part of the ceremony, as far as I understand it, is going to be mostly secular (mixed religion couple, they’re having some religious readings and rituals but I think I just have to introduce those). Any advice appreciated!

    1. only acting normal*

      Try Googling “Humanist Wedding Ceremony Script” (or some variation of that) for non-religious/secular wedding ideas. The mixed-religion readings and rituals could be inserted at the appropriate points.
      The British Humanist Association has trained celebrants, but they also have some advice and links here: https://humanism.org.uk/ceremonies/non-religious-weddings/

    2. overeducated*

      The officiant addresses I’ve heard from friends and family (as opposed to religious officiants) have been like serious wedding toasts on the longer side – like 5 minutes rather than 1-2, no jokes, but mainly reflection on the couple, their values, and why they are good for each other in the long run.

    3. Maya Elena*

      I’ve always liked the Anglican Church service (“Dearly Beloved…”), but it’s not my religion so I didn’t use it. But if you van secularize it gracefully (not the way states do it….) it’s simple, well-regarded, eloquent, and instantly recognizable.

  22. Foreign Octopus*

    I’m having cat trouble and I need advice.

    My new cat (from a shelter) had a flea treatment before she came to me. The vet shaved a small patch of fur away on the back of her neck. For the first three weeks, it’s been fine but she has been scratching a little but the scratches were healing into scabs. Now though she’s pulled away the scabs and made it bleed again. Every time the scabs start healing, she scratches and we’re back to square one. Nothing is infected. It’s just surface damage but I’d like her to stop so that it can heal properly. Does anyone have any advice on how to do that?

    1. Lily Evans*

      Maybe the vet could give you something to put on the cuts to numb them or make them itch less, so she stops scratching at them. Like a cat-safe version of neosporin?

      1. Merci Dee*

        According to my vet, Neosporin is safe for pets. My previous cat developed a terrible scabby wound on her chin because her plastic food and water bowls irritated her skin. Vet told me that Neosporin was fine to use, and that just about any topical medication that’s safe for humans is okay on dogs and cats in small doses. I switched to porcelain bowls, lubed up her chin, and she was good in about a week.

    2. Akcipitrokulo*

      We cut the toes off a sock and used it as a neck bandage for a while to stop scratching.

      1. Turtlewings*

        I’ve seen people puts cats in baby onesies to keep them from overgrooming or biting stitches.

        1. Sylvan (Sylvia)*

          You can use dog clothes, too, but baby onesies are 10/10, five out of five stars, two thumbs up, cuter.

        2. Amadeo*

          Hmm. My 19 year old has developed a habit of plucking like a neurotic parrot, especially at her front legs. I might look into a little long sleeved onesie for her.

      2. KV*

        This is what I did when my cat had a scab on his throat he wouldn’t stop kicking off! The cone would have only aggravated the injury so it wasn’t an option. Unfortunately, he kicked the socks (and bandanas, and anything else we tried) off too so we ended up having to trim his toe claws and give him a steroid shot to make him too languid to scratch for a few days. That finally allowed it to heal enough he didn’t kick every day. He has a permanent bald spot from how bad it got, the dummy, but he’s otherwise fine now!

    3. soupmonger*

      Take her to the vet. She’s scratching because the skin is itchy so you need to get that to stop. If you try to prevent her scratching without vet treatment, she’ll get frustrated and it’ll not be great for either of you. So – vet!

    4. Allie Oops*

      An Elizabethan collar prevents biting, but not scratching. It won’t keep her from getting her back claws into the wound. Have you ever tried Soft Paws? They might blunt her claws enough to prevent her from tearing at the skin more.

      Cats heal very quickly, sometimes even too quickly (they’ve been known to heal over stitches). Healing skin is itchy as all hell. See if the vet has any topical treatments to soothe the itching.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        This is what I’m worried about. I’ll check with my vet tomorrow.

        She’s my first cat, so I’m probably over thinking everything.

        Thanks to everyone for your advice!

  23. Lily Evans*

    I just need to vent a little about a situation with a couple of my friends from college, Amy and Gina. The three of us were really close during college, but have drifted somewhat, and it’s been a while since I’ve seen them both together. Gina doesn’t live too far, but I don’t have a car and she won’t drive in the city I’m in, so every time I see her I have to take the subway to a commuter train to her town, which ends up being ~3 hours round trip so I don’t do it too often. Amy lives farther, ~1 driving, and she doesn’t mind driving in the city, we just have incompatible schedules so things don’t line up very often. The two of them see each other more frequently, since they’ll meet in the middle or drive to each other, and when they were hanging out together about a month ago they texted me asking if I would be free for dinner on a specific day this coming week.

    I never really ask them to come to me any more, since I know it’s inconvenient, but I thought that since they were the ones texting me with a month’s notice, it meant they were coming here. Every time I’ve seen Gina in the past few months she’s promised she’d come to me next time, and Amy and I had talked about this the last time we saw each other, so I figured since Gina hates driving here, they had planned it so they’d come together. We hadn’t made any super specific plans, so I texted them yesterday, having come up with some ideas of what we could do for dinner since they’ve never spent time in my part of the city, and I was excited to get the chance to show them around. But then Amy texted back (nine hours later) asking if we could meet halfway, and Gina replied to that offering to pick me up at the train and drive me to whatever halfway point they choose. So suddenly, this dinner has turned into a 5 hour minimum commitment if I agree to that.

    I haven’t replied yet because I was already in a bad mood last night and wanted to sleep on it, but I’m still just as annoyed today. Had they told me this was the plan from the beginning I could have planned for that time (and not wasted planning things to do here), or opted out completely. I was really looking forward to seeing them, but now I might just take a rain check for a week when I’m less busy and feel less resentful about it.

    1. friends*

      That is so annoying! Can you suggest that your friend Gina drive to the train station then take the train into the city? that way it’s not always you taking all day to go there.

      1. Lily Evans*

        She keeps saying she’ll do that, every time we hang out it’s “I’ll come to you next time.” And it’s been over a year and that hasn’t happened yet. I don’t blame her for not enjoying driving, but she lives five minutes from where the commuter train stops in her town and I’ve offered to meet her where it stops in the city since she doesn’t like taking the subway alone. I just feel like I’m putting way more into the friendship than I’m getting back at this point. And Amy’s drive to my apartment is the same amount of time it would take me just to meet Gina at her town’s train stop, before driving to wherever Amy wants to meet now.

    2. fposte*

      Man, it’s hard to negotiate that kind of physical distance in a friendship; it’s almost easier when you’re eight hours apart and nobody would be assumed to drive it.

      What I see in this particular case is everybody assuming–you assumed it would be near you, they assumed, it looked like, that it would be near them. And those are assumptions that it’s easy to deal with when you’re 10 minutes away, but they become a big deal when you’re looking at the kind of physical distance you’ve got. So I wouldn’t be mad at them for assuming when I’d done the same thing, but I would be frustrated that I was now faced with not seeing friends, or schlepping and maybe sulking when I saw friends.

      So I support your decision to bow out if you’re not going to enjoy the situation, and I encourage you to go for a “make plans more explicit” approach in the future.

      1. Lily Evans*

        I definitely plan on making plans explicitly in the future! There were way too many assumptions here. I think it’s also a problem of physical distance vs time distance, since physically I’m not all that far from Gina, but time wise I’m a mile bus ride or walk, two subway lines, and a commuter train away. It’s just so much for one dinner. Once I move at the end of the month, it will only be one subway line and a train so I think I’ll rain check until then.

        1. fposte*

          Sounds good. Sometimes it’s just not possible to shake off the logistical irritations enough to enjoy somebody (that was a key factor in my online dating, in fact). I’m glad your new move will help with that.

          1. Lily Evans*

            Before living in a city, I’d see posts online about people not wanting to date anyone who lived outside of their neighborhood, or on a different subway line, and I’d think that was silly. But I get it now.

    3. Simone R*

      Is it possible to occasionally sleep over at someone’s place? I have friends who I’m in a similar situation with (not physically that far but about 1.5 hours to get to them on public transportation) and anytime we have evening plans I crash on their couch. It gives us more time together so I can see them less often and it makes it easier for me to think about visiting! Might not work for you in this situation(or ever!) but thought I’d drop the suggestion!

      1. Lily Evans*

        Gina still lives with her family, so her place isn’t an option. She sleeps over at Amy’s sometimes, but I’ve never been invited to (I’d have no way to get there even if I was). And having them sleep at my apartment would mean they’d have to actually be willing to come to my apartment. So unfortunately I don’t see that happening.

    4. KR*

      I think if you keep being the one to do all the travelling here they’re going to keep expecting you to come to them. I think you have 100% permission here to say, “I thought it was your turn to come to me, friends. I’m going to have to pass on this one.”

      1. KR*

        Also, I had a friend who lived roughly an hour away. I usually came to her house. We both had our own place with a drive that wasn’t a pain to get to our house and she always expected me to drive. The one time I specifically invited her for a party and she backed out last minute, I realized that she would never be willing to put the same amount of time into the friendship as I was and stopped talking to her and initiating conversation which, since I was the one putting in all the effort, led to the end of our friendship. Not saying you have to do this but you do not have to be the one putting in all the effort here. Gina can take an Uber, she can get Amy to do the driving, they can both get on the damn train and come see you.

        1. Claire*

          I had a friendship like this. I moved away, yet I was always the one who had to drive in and chauffeur my friend around. The friendship ended. What’s ironic is that she still keeps in touch with another mutual friend who lives in a different state, so I guess flying is no problem for her, only driving.

    5. Observer*

      I think it’s worth spelling this out to them.

      “Thanks for the offer to pick me up, but it’s still 5 hours of travel time. I don’t know if I could have managed it even with more notice, but it’s certainly not possible so close in.”

    6. Lily Evans*

      So what ended up happening was me asking for a rain check & laying out just how much travel time it would mean for me, since I don’t know if they realized how long it really takes for me to get there. It seemed like they were both more relieved than disappointed since Gina said it actually wasn’t a great day for her either. I suggested Labor day as a possible alternative, since we’re all in jobs that get Monday holidays off, and never heard back from either of them… Well, the ball is definitively not in my court anymore *shrugs*

  24. Keira*

    Has anyone had their tonsils out as an adult?

    My tonsils have always given me issues (my GP mentioned years ago that they’re oversized) but really minor stuff that pass pretty quickly so I haven’t contemplated getting them removed. More recently though I’ve noticed the right one is noticeably larger than the other, and whenever I get very stressed or tired it starts to hurt – again, not a lot, and only for maybe a day at a time.

    Since it’s been a few months since I noticed this (with no change) I went to see an ear/nose/throat specialist, and although she didn’t think it was anything to worry about, she said the only way to be 100% sure was to have them removed and tested. She also said that since I’ve had issues with it anyway it’s probably better to just get it out and over with.

    Now I’m a bit wary about having them removed – I know it’s pretty routine, but nevertheless it’s still surgery. I did a bit of Googling on uneven tonsils and of course got all the typical results you get when you search for medical symptoms. The doctor told me to think it over and I have a follow-up appointment in 6 weeks.

    Has anyone been through this? Have you noticed significant downsides to having your tonsils out (beyond the recovery period etc.)? Exactly how worried should I be?

    1. Chris*

      I had mine out at 27, after having strep throat every winter at least twice since childhood.

      I won’t lie- for me, recovery was a beast. I had a hard time eating anything besides pudding and scrambled eggs, which caused weight loss and reduced stamina for a bit. I did have one post-op bleed that needed to be cauterized, but it isn’t any worse than being pinched by a needle for a shot. Just make sure to drink lots of water, keep on top of eating and taking it slow. I cuddled up and read lots of books during recovery.

      But I am so happy with the results- not surprisingly the doctor discovered they were chronically infected/inflamed when he biopsied them. I haven’t had strep throat in the six years since, and rarely get sore throats anymore. It’s also helped with swallowing food as I don’t feel a lump in my throat anymore. If you decide to get it done, best of luck!

      1. Lady Russell's Turban*

        I had the almost identical reasons and experience. Recovery was slow and painful but one of the best things I ever did for myself. I haven’t had streph throat in 35 years since (it was a several times a year occurrence) and my colds now last days instead of weeks.

      2. Laura*

        I had my wisdom teeth removed at age 34, only 2 years ago, the week before Thanksgiving. Didn’t ruin my holiday, thank goodness.

    2. DC Actuary*

      I just had mine out at the beginning of June. They had been enlarged for years, and I would get tonsillitis several times per year. The surgery itself was easy- in and out of the hospital in a couple of hours, and the pain at first wasn’t nearly as bad as I had been expecting. Mostly just like a bad case of tonsillitis. I had heard so many horror stories about the recovery, so I was pleasantly surprised. The pain did get worse about a week into recovery as the scabs started falling off, but I was pain-free at about 12 days post-op. I’d say the worst part of recovery is just the unrelenting-ness of the pain. It only really hurt when I swallowed, but after a week of feeling that pain every time I swallowed with no relief from it, it gets mentally hard to deal with.

      I am really happy I had it done, though. I used to choke on things all the time, since my tonsils were big enough that they touched, so there wasn’t much room in my throat. I also used to have a constant low-level sore throat that is now gone. And it’s too soon to tell, but I’m hoping to never get strep throat again. One thing that I wasn’t expecting was that I had to re-learn how to eat/drink without having it go up the back of my nose. I guess I had been relying on my huge tonsils to keep stuff from going into my nose, and without them there I didn’t know what to do.

  25. Trying a little bit harder*

    Small victories – I’ve finally started going to the gym! I used to think advice like ‘you just have to make yourself do it’ was really unhelpful, but in the end that was exactly what I did. Basically one morning I woke up and instead of /thinking/ about going, I got up, starting putting my gear on and next thing I knew I was out the door. Yay!

    (The area I live is /really/ busy during the day, but at 6am it’s like a different world and it’s beautiful!)

    The gym itself is quite basic, but all the machines are functional and clean, and that’s all I ask for really. It’s only been a week so I’m still trying to get through the initial tiredness that comes with increased activity. From past experience I know it’s worth pushing through that barrier, so it’s just a question of staying motivated!

    1. Elkay*

      Well done. That’s the only way I can exercise, if I wait until later in the day I’ll talk myself out of it.

    2. nep*

      Well done. Good for you. It’s so true — do it before even thinking about it (which often leads to talking oneself out of it).

    3. Call me St. Vincent*

      That’s wonderful! Congrats! I have been trying to figure out a way to get there myself and this is very inspiring.

  26. Red*

    My husband is on a road trip with friends this weekend. I couldn’t go because I have work. Unfortunately, none of my friends have free time this weekend, so I’m bored and lonely. Any ideas of things to do?

    1. Elkay*

      Buy your favourite food and catch up on TV or rewatch old stuff.
      Do those small chores you’ve been putting off (mine is always filing).

      1. Red*

        You know what, I do have some wine and DVDs I’ve never watched… Maybe you’re on to something!

    2. Liz*

      Any farmer’s markets in your area? Those can be fun to wander.
      Buy some weird food you’ve never used before and make a new recipe with it.
      Look up if there’s any drop-in art classes at a coffee shop or pub.

      1. LCL*

        Drop in art classes at a coffee shop or pub? Where do you live and do they allow Americans to emigrate? That sounds like paradise!

    3. Overeducated*

      Things your husband wouldn’t do! On the rare occasion I am in that situation, I make foods he doesn’t like for dinner, watch shows he isn’t interested in, or try to catch up with someone long distance (e.g. a famly member or friend from before i knew him) whom I wouldn’t normally make time for.

      1. Natalie*

        Yes! Whenever my husband is gone I eat stuff he hates, listen to music loudly (not his thing), let the dishes pile up, and let the dog sleep in our bed. It’s awesome.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I had some old stuff to sell, so I went to consignment shops with the stuff. While doing this, I checked out a bunch of tag sales and got some real steals on a couple things I can use. It was a good day except for that part with the flash flooding.

    5. Maya Elena*

      Pick up any crafts or cleaning you never get to with him around. Throw out his rattiest underpants and socks. :p

  27. Hermione*

    I moved to London for school last September, and since then it’s just about keeping my head above water with school and work. As a result I haven’t really explored this city (or country, or continent!) as much as I imagined I’d be doing when I first made plans to move here. (A friend of mine back home was jealous about how I could ‘go to Paris every weekend’ – errrr, sure! Lol).

    Anyway, I’ll soon have a lot of free time when I (hopefully!) finish my degree next month, so…any recommendations on where to start exploring? I plan on starting with the super-touristy stuff (e.g. Buckingham Palace) and then move to more niche areas. Also debating whether to explore the rest of the UK (plus Ireland) or hop over to the continent (I’ve been to the larger cities like Paris, Madrid and Rome, but there are so many other places I don’t even know where to start!).

    1. Jay*

      The Tate Modern is fantastic! The building itself is amazing, even before you get to all the art. Before I went, I found modern art perplexing, but their informational placards are great and really open that strange world up.

      St Paul’s is just across the Millenium Bridge from there. The audio guide there is quite good.

      The Globe theatre is also right near the Taye Modern. If you think you can do it, they have five pound yard tickets, which means you stand for the whole show. I’ve done it twice and had a blast both times. It’s an amazing (and affordable) way to experience Shakespeare! I recommend staying at the back to lean against a post, or staking out a spot right at the front to lean against the stage itself.

    2. Elkay*

      I like the National Portrait Gallery (even if they did take down my favourite pieces). If you like museums look into the Art Pass for half price entry into lots of exhibitions.

      If you want to go further afield now I’d head to Edinburgh for the festivals (fringe and book are my picks).

    3. Lily Evans*

      When I visited London, I did a couple walking tours through Undiscovered London and I can’t recommend them highly enough! Their free tour covers a bunch of the major touristy areas and their other tours are a bit more off the beaten path. The other tour I did was the East End tour and it covered a lot, from Harry Potter to Jack the Ripper to the local street art scene, it was really interesting. I did the tours back to back after enjoying the free morning tour, as did a few others in the group, and between tours the guides took us to a local street market for lunch, which was above and beyond my expectations. I would’ve done their other paid tours, but they didn’t align with my schedule, unfortunately.

    4. caledonia*

      If you’re at all interested in history/war you should visit the Imperial War Museum. I also enjoy the V & A and the Natural History Museum.
      Liberty is lovely to look at expensive items and interesting fabric, the near by Carnaby Street houses some good burger places and shops.

      I would also recommend visiting the Botanic Gardens, and a walk along the Thames in the evening.

      If books are your thing, there are many lovely bookshops and such like. The London Review bookshop even has a fab cafe next door. Buzzfeed UK has quite a few articles on where to go/see/do in London/the UK.

      Further afield – York, Manchester/Liverpool, Oxford or Cambridge, a trip to the seaside, Edinburgh/Glasgow or even further up north and go see some Islands.

    5. Kathenus*

      I really enjoyed the Tower of London, and wish I had been able to stay longer but had to meet someone elsewhere at a fixed time. Also took a great bus tour day trip with friends to Stonehenge, which stopped in Bath and Lacock and then had a sunset visit to Stonehenge including access to the stones themselves (regular visitation is from behind ropes well outside the stone circle, but private access tours are easily available where you get full access inside the circle). At least on some days you can go into the House of Commons and observe it in session, it was quite interesting. And London has a great zoo as well.

    6. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I would suggest making a list and rank things based on what you are interested in so you see the important stuff (to you) first and then the other things (and manage the entrance fees accordingly!). Pro-tip for the Tower: go super super early in the morning, as when it first opens because the crowds are immense by the afternoons when the tour buses roll in. Trust me, I see it every day. Also, sometimes it is nice to just get on a bus and ride it to the end of the line and back and see all the different neighborhoods.

      For the rest of the country – is there anything specific you want to see based on your personal interests? Cornwall is nice but impossible to get to if you dont have a car, but the seaside (if you want to go to the sea that is!) may be nice to see around Brighton or the Norfolk Broads. I love the West Country though, and a lot of things in the UK are a pretty easy train journey for a day trip, I mean Bath is only an hour and a half, Edinburgh is 4. As a certain band once chanted, “Its Grim Up North” but September is a good time to take the train about the country – still warm(ish), kids are back in school, and fewer tourists away from London. I thought Liverpool was pretty neat (especially the buildings on the seafront, the bombed out cathedral, the Beatles drinking tour), but Bolton and Blackpool are best avoided :)

    7. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Just remembered, but if you are into architecture then Open City is coming up the weekend of the 17th/18th. We go for the Brutalist housing estates but they open up other more modern buildings, new builds, super old stuff, etc. There is a lottery to get into No 10 I think but guy at work said the Foreign and Commonwealth Office was worth it. Two years ago we went up Balfron Tower (the more famous Trellick in West London is its twin, and that one opens up every once in a while) in Poplar which was amazing, amongst other estates we saw that day (Alexandra Road has always been one of my favorites – and they have tours of original flats. Sometimes they host flats in the Barbican too).

      Any library ought to have a booklet available soon – we plan out our days and make stops for lunch, etc. Its great fun to see the city and iconic buildings you may not have a chance to see otherwise!

    8. Aealias*

      For touristy stops, a warder-led tour of the Tower of London was really fun and informative.

      I LOVED Camden Market and Portobello Road. (I had to go because of the song, you know. From … Bednobs and Broomsticks, maybe?)

      You can absolutely take a couple of long weekends to visit Edinburgh. It’s a fairly cheap train trip, and the city has a small physical footprint that makes it feel not overwhelming. The art museum there (Royal Scotland, maybe) is lovely while also being an accessible size. Also, Dan Brown aside, Rosslyn chapel outside Edinburgh was amazingly gorgeous and fascinating.

      Did you get a National Historic Site pass? If so, seriously go explore the rest of England. There’s so MUCH to see. A thousand plus years of history stacks up in ways my North American brain struggles to comprehend.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I had to go to Portobello Road because of Paddington. :) I went on Saturday when it is CRAZY, but all the shops are open that day, so. And Camden Market rocks.

        In fact, one of my favorite things in London is the markets. And Word on the Water, near King’s Cross. That’s the bookshop on a barge. :D

    9. Stella's Mom*

      See some of Wales! They have amazing historical sites, Edward I Iron Ring of castles, Snowdonia is stunning, Anglesey is beautiful and lots of cool beaches and nature areas. :)

    10. London and near(ish) places*

      Grayson Perry has an art exhibition on at the Serpentine Gallery at the moment (free!) which is also a short walk from the science museum, natural history museum, V&A and Harrods.

      Windsor, Oxford and Bath are beautiful cities to explore and easy to get to by train from Paddington or Clapham Jumction. Kew Gardens and Hampton Court Palace are also amazing places to visit and easy/quick to get to.

    11. Jules the First*

      Niche to-dos in London:
      – the Chelsea Physic Garden is beautiful and almost always practically deserted, in contrast with Kew which is crawling with people on a beautiful day
      – the Horniman Museum is a pain to get to, but also my favourite museum in London (natural history)
      – Damian Hirst’s private gallery (also in South London) which I can never remember the name of is also fabulous and worth a trip (it show his collection, not his own work)
      – the Science Museum and Natural History Museum are both well worth a trip, but crawling with small people. Go on Lates night (NHM is last Friday of the month, Science Museum is a Wednesday, I think) instead and you can also grab a drink while you browse. They also often have special activities that you can’t do during normal opening hours.

    12. MissDisplaced*

      I LOVE London!! Been there twice now and plan to go back next year.
      If you DO have the time/cash, I would recommend taking the Eurostar train to Paris for a few days. It’s fairly reasonable round trip. I stayed at a hotel near the Garde de Leon station for a few days, which is convenient to get around. Even if you just spend a 3 day weekend, it’s really worth it at least once.

      For London, (other than shopping) my husband and I really liked the Museum of London and the Tower. And I just adore walking along Southwark on the river walk and soaking it all in. I wanted to go out to Greenwich or Stratford, but maybe next trip!

      I sure there are lots of other short trips from London: Brighton, Edinburgh, York, Bath, etc. depending on your interests.

    13. London Calling*

      Londoner here so this might be long. If you like museums tick off the big ones like the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert but also the smaller ones – Museum of Childhood, Leighton House, Museum of Brands, Geffrye Museum… for art, well, where do I start? the National Gallery, Courtauld, Tate, Tate Modern. Get on a bus, sit on the top deck at the front and go where it takes you, the 14 and the 22 from Piccadilly will take you through Chelsea and the Kings Road past Harvey Nicks and Harrods.

      Parks – London is one of the greenest cities in the world, hire a Boris bike from a stand and bke through Hyde Park. Feed the birds in St James Park and walk along the Mall on Sunday when it’s traffic free. Definitely do the walling tours and buy a book of London walks – there are several volumes by Time Out with walks that will take you to parts of London you might not have thought of. Theatres, of course, and we have more exhibitions than you can shake a stick at.

      If you want to go further afield the Jurassic Coast in Dorset can be reached by train, as can Kent and Sussex, but if you don’t drive you’ll have to investigate the local busses very carefully as they can be few and far between. The Norfolk coast is lovely, and of course there plenty of cities to explore if you get fed up of the capital.

      1. London Calling*

        Oh and remember, Britain in US terms is tiny. Less that 1,000 miles from Lands End to John O’Groats. 837 miles, to be precise :)

    14. misspiggy*

      The light is beautiful in September in the UK. Go somewhere with hills and you’ll see what I mean. Oban in Scotland is pretty wonderful, whether you get the train there or drive through the Highlands.

    15. Mela*

      As far as exploring the continent, I just cross reference my giant list of places I want to see with the deals I run across for airfare/train etc.

  28. BookAir*

    I live in Boston. How does one go about planning a trip to Wyoming, Utah, and “that” part of the country? I don’t know where to begin. Which city do we fly into? Can we just rent a regular car, not an RV, and not do camping (we are okay with very simple lodging)? Thanks in advance!

    1. fposte*

      Are you talking about going just to sightsee, what particularly is appealing to you, and how long a time do you have? You can absolutely just rent a car and stay in motels, but where it makes sense to do so will depend on what you’re going for and how much time you have.

    2. OtterB*

      Salt Lake City is a good airport to fly in and out of. I have a friend who just did a family trip to Yellowstone and the Tetons flying into SLC and driving round trip from there.

      If you want to stay close to or in Yellowstone, especially in summer, my understanding is you’ll need to do that part of your planning in advance to lock in reservations. You can probably be more relaxed about other parts of the trip.

      If you’re a AAA member, they still have good trip planning resources.

      1. Kj*

        Wyoming and Utah are not that close to each other. If you want to see the west, pick a state or two. New England states are small and close together, but in the west each state could be a vacation or two by itself. That said, Utah is a good starting point- you can easily fly into SLC and drive to multiple national parks. There is plenty of lodgings that do not require camping.

        Arizona is another state that is easy to visit. An AZ itinerary that would meet your goals below could look like this:
        Day 1: Fly into Phoenix, Drive 2 hours S to Tu
        Day 2&3: Tucson, hiking, Southwest Desert Museum, Mt. Lemmon
        Day 4: Drive N to Sedona (4 hours), hike
        Day 5&6: Sedona, Prescott, Jerome: hiking, ghost town, shopping
        Day 7&8: Drive to Grand Canyon(~3 hours), hike
        Day 9: Drive to Flagstaff: relax, hike
        Day 1o: Drive to Phoenix (about 3 hours), fly home.

        1. fposte*

          Some parts of Wyoming and Utah are far apart, but they share a border, so it’s pretty easy to go to both if that’s the goal.

          1. Saturnalia*

            Evanston Wyoming is close enough to Utah that utahns drive up to buy liquor and fireworks :-)

            I have actually just moved to Boston from Utah, so part of me is going “whyyyyyy would anyone go to Utah from here whyyyyy” haha.

    3. nom*

      One very important thing to know is that there is a great deal of distance between destinations in the west. Like, days of driving. But what it sounds like you want to see and do would be a great match for one of the older national parks; both Glacier and Yellowstone have wonderful, large lodges within the Parks, with excellent roads. They were built to accommodate people with less outdoor experience but who genuinely want to experience nature. And they’re also modernized so you won’t be “roughing it”, with elements of their original (Victorian era ish) sense of luxury. All you need is a regular rental car with good gas mileage.

      In terms of getting there, fly into the nearest “large” airport: for Yellowstone, try Billings MT, Bozeman MT, or Jackson Hole WY; for Glacier, Missoula MT or Kalispell MT. Note that flying into MT/WY is more expensive but it’s worth it to save days of driving.

      In either place, you WILL see wildlife. Just remember that they are truly wild: do not try to sit on the bison, do not chase a bear for a photograph, and always stay a good distance from a moose, they are aggressive. (Tragically, I am not joking — every year, a couple people make poor decisions trying to get cute photos.)

      Other state parks are also beautiful, but in my experience they are more about scenery than wildlife, unless you’re up for some serious back county hiking. Glacier is my personal favorite — you’ll never beat Going To The Sun for beauty.

      1. Paul*

        I remember an idiot tourist trying to mount a bison–like to ride it–during one of our yellowstone trips. I’m pretty sure the park ranger that saw it about had a stroke. I was amazed the bison didn’t pummel him; it just kind of shook a bit and the guy fell on his butt. I wonder if he realized how lucky he was?

        And moose were surprisingly HUGE. I grew up around elk and deer but moose were really rare in my part of the state, so the first time we saw one in Yellowstone was just amazing.

    4. Max Kitty*

      We just did a road trip through Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. We drove our regular car and stayed in hotels/ motels and had a great time.

      What are you most interested in seeing? Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons? The red-rock parks of Utah like Canyonlands, Arches, Bryce, and Zion? For any of those, Salt Lake City might be a good place to start. If you’re most interested in southern Utah (especially Bryce and Zion area) and the Grand Canyon, you could fly to Las Vegas. Or if you want to see some of Colorado as well as Wyoming, then maybe fly to Denver (Denver is 8 hours or so driving to Grand Tetons). If you’re willing to take puddle-jumpers, there also are smaller airports like Grand Junction, CO and Jackson Hole, WY. Depending on airfare and one-way car fees, maybe think about flying into one airport and out of another to see the most you can (for example, for Utah parks, into Salt Lake and out of Vegas).

      If you want to stay inside the National Parks, you’ll need to reserve pretty far ahead or get creative and be willing to spend a night in one lodge, and another night in another lodge or cabin, etc. (We just went to Glacier National Park at the end of July and, reserving in March/April, were able to do one night at one historic lodge, the second night at a different lodge, and then the third night in lodging outside the western entrance to the park. We could not find two nights together at any in-park lodging.)

      If you don’t care about staying in the Old Faithful Inn or other historic property, the parks usually have nearby towns with places like Best Westerns, Quality Inns, Super 8, local motels, etc. This isn’t bad–I stayed in the town of West Yellowstone once and then had a beautiful early morning drive back into the park seeing a lot of wildlife.

      We have done driving trips with no reservations in the past, but this time, we made reservations ahead and were glad we did. Many of the hotels were completely full, and those that weren’t were more expensive than our reservations. Depending on where you’re going, some towns are pretty small and don’t have a lot of options. But we did change plans at the end of the trip and didn’t have any trouble finding a room that night (it was a good-sized town known as a stop-over, and had at least a dozen hotels).

      Hope this helps!

    5. CAA*

      DH and I did a 5-day what I call “fly & drive” road trip where we flew to Salt Lake City and rented a car and stayed in hotels/motels. If you haven’t been to the west before, keep in mind that things are much farther apart than they are in Boston, and there’s a lot of open space, so you might want to plan your stopping points and make reservations rather than relying on finding a motel when you want to sleep.

      For our trip, we spent a couple of nights in SLC, staying at the Monaco hotel. We went to Antelope Island one day and drove around there, saw lots of animals. Then we headed up towards Park City and enjoyed the Olympic park. It was pretty cool to stand at the top of the ski jump and look down. Then we drove east and spent a couple of nights in Vernal UT and explored Dinosaur National Monument from both the Utah and Colorado entrances and Flaming Gorge National Rec Area. Then back to SLC to fly home.

      On this trip, we were avoiding the heavy tourist areas of southern Utah (Bryce, Zion, Moab), and we were not attempting to get up to Yellowstone or Grand Teton either. If those places are your goals, then definitely plan for longer than 5 days and get a good idea of just how far it is to drive there.

    6. Hannah*

      I agree with flying into SLC airport. You can rent a car there and then drive to Wyoming/Yellowstone/the Tetons. The distances might be long but the drives are usually not going to be too bad (several hours) because of long stretches of highways with fast speed limits. I would also recommend (if you are flying into SLC) you head to Southern Utah and see some of the beautiful national parks–Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, etc.–there. There are usually motels near the entrances to these parks, as well as some lodging inside the parks. You’d want to book in advance.

    7. Paul*

      That’s my favorite part of the country and I really miss it.

      How much time do you have? And what sort of stuff do you like?

      For less crowds, you might try to do Montana and see Glacier National Park. Yellowstone is awesome but it’s getting loved to death. Last time I went there were traffic jams and I think it had more people than the county I lived in at the time. It was nuts. Did see grizzly bears though, including one with cubs, so that was cool. Didn’t see wolves though :(

      If you’ve got a couple of weeks you could fly into Billings, spend time at Glacier, and drive down to SLC to fly back…it’s like an 8 or 9 hour drive IIRC but there’s a *lot* of cool stuff. You could at least pass through the Tetons and walk around the lake, or you could take another route and see the Crater of the Moon (or if you have time, do both). There’s an amazing bird refuge a little north of SLC too…plus the city has some cool stuff.

      1. Paul*

        I would say, too, if you want to do any justice for the bigger parks, you need at least 4-5 days at each. That definitely includes Glacier. I’m the sort that likes to spend enough time to really explore an area though; I can enjoy a scenic drive (I’ve driven 4 hours in the sticks to get my kids a nap when they’re sick) but I just don’t feel like I really got to experience a park if I’m not out hiking in it.

        I’d also think of NM, but I’m kind of a giant shill for NM; I love that state and it isn’t as touristed . Places like Jemez, Raton, the Tularosa Basin, Cloudcroft, the Gila…they’re fun. And the White Sands at sunset is absolutely amazing.

      2. Max Kitty*

        Agree about the parks being loved to death. Glacier’s season is even shorter than Yellowstone, and it was crowded–no parking along most of the Going to the Sun road for most of the day. Had to strategize to be able to get some hikes in. But I won’t even consider Yellowstone/Grand Tetons in June, July, or August.

        The rest of Montana and Idaho (inc. Crater of the Moon) wasn’t too crowded at all. We visited a total of 8 NPS sites and some hardly had any people at all.

    8. Clever Name*

      I would refine where you want to go and what you want to do and come up with a route and secure lodging beforehand. The West is absolutely enormous, and the distance between towns can be vast. So it would be dicey to wing it in terms of lodging. And many small towns don’t have hotels and in some places it can be hard to find an available room at the last minute because the oil industry takes a lot of rooms in some towns. You don’t have to camp, but if you do, you’ll want to reserve spots ahead of time as well.

  29. BookAir*

    We want to see nature, beautiful views of mountains, rivers, and animals. A week and a half would be great.

    1. Hey Now!*

      – I flew into Las Vegas and then drove to Zion National Park for my first stop. It’s about a 4 hour drive. Just rented a regular car. You can stay pretty cheaply in Springdale, there are several budget motels.
      – From Zion, I went onto to Bryce Canyon for a day.
      – Then stayed in Kanab, UT, home of Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. I have done volunteer trips there several times but you could also just visit for the day.
      – From Kanab, you can drive down to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, which is less crowded than the South Rim. I know the views aren’t quite as spectacular as the South Rim, but they are still pretty damn great!

      That was a manageable amount of driving for me – there are lots of other places to explore in that region if you want to spend more time driving.

    2. Annie Moose*

      I just got back from a fabulous trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton. Assuming the animals you want to see are elk and bison, I assure you you’ll see plenty!

    3. Paul*

      a week and a half isn’t really enough time to do multiple states really well. You might look at doing like, Crater of the Moon and the Sawtooth National Forest in southern Idaho. Plenty of hiking and scenery and mountains.

      Or St. George’s in southwest Utah is nice too, and not as tourist-laden as places like Bryce or Zion (though they’re within driving distance of it IIRC). you could get some pretty good variety there. Fishlake National Forest is pretty close to it too. You’d be close to a couple of major national parks and a few less known but pretty awesome NPS sites.

      Or, and I’ve never done this part of the state, but Helena MT is near the Missouri’s headwaters and there’s a national forest there that probably doesn’t get a lot of visitors. Or fly into Missoula, it’s right by Bitterroot National Forest, and take hwy

  30. anon for this*

    So. I figured out I was bisexual around 25. I’m 31 now. I think I knew I was bi before that, but a lot of different reasons made me push that down and ignore it.

    I never really dated in high school or college. I slept with one guy in college a few times. I was in a bad place after college and didn’t start going out on dates until I was 29. In that period, I had sex with a guy twice and went on dates with women where we kissed, but it never progressed to a relationship or sex. I’ve never been in a relationship with anyone. I was just never interested until my late 20s.

    My problem is that dating as bisexual is really, really hard and really, really upsetting. I’ve had a lot of women I meet on apps or online ask me if I’ve had a relationship or sex with a woman before and when I say no, they say they don’t want to teach me how to have sex, that they don’t have time for “bicurious” girls, or that they can’t trust bisexuals. And then on the flip side, there’s a lot of men who want to know all about my dates with women or who think me being bi automatically means I’ll want a threesome. I don’t.

    I can deal with the men fetishizing my sexuality, but it really upsets me to be treated so poorly by other women. It feels like I’m being asked to give queer cred before they’ll even consider me an option, but how am I supposed to have a relationship with another woman if they won’t even give me the chance? It’s making me feel awful about my lack of experience, especially at my age, and I know I’ll be a mess of insecurity if I ever do get to that point in a relationship.

    I’ve thought about going to bi support groups in my city, but I chicken out at the last minute because I’m too cowardly and feel like a fake. I can’t really talk to any of my friends about it because they’re all straight and when I’ve tried to talk to them before they don’t really understand and just say this is all a part of dating.

    I’m just sinking into an unhappy funk over this and I don’t know what to do because it feels like no one wants to give me a chance, they just want to scrutinize my sexuality. I was always a pretty confident person, but now I feel anything but.

    1. Myrin*

      Oh no! I’m so sorry you’re going through this!

      If it’s at all helpful, your experience matches 100% with what I hear from every bisexual I know – in fact, it’s the almost stereotypical narrative! I know that that doesn’t improve your situation at all but it might be helpful to know that you’re not alone in this?

      One good thing about this, though, is that this immediately weeds out all the shitty people because I doubt you want to actually date someone who thinks the way these people in your past did. You may want to look specifically for people who are bisexual as well, although I don’t know how that would work in practice unless you meet through online dating or a group specifically for bisexuals or similar (and even there you aren’t inherently safe from such heartaches and disappointment since internalised biphobia is certainly a thing).

      I want to close with saying that there are so many lovely people out there – queer ladies and straight man alike – who won’t react negatively to your bisexuality at all (I have several of them in my life, in fact!). The way to finding them is frustrating, way more frustrating than it should be, but please, don’t let your self-confidence take a huge hit because of those losers in your past (I accidentally wrote “in your path” there and, well, don’t let yourself be stopped by the losers in your path, either!). Shitty people exist but so do awesome people, it just takes time to find them.

      1. anon for this*

        My problem with looking for bi people only is that a lot of the online dating apps don’t have a field to input sexuality and you have to rely on people putting it in their profiles, and a lot of people don’t fill out their profiles (or even read profiles of their matches).

        And the only bisexual online sites or dating apps I’ve found are marketed as sites for threesomes, which is disappointing and upsetting. There are no OKC or Bumble/CMB type apps for strictly bisexuals. A lot of the apps gear towards straight only or same-sex only, which is probably part of my problem in dating. They don’t give a lot of options.

        And while I live in a liberal city, most LGBTQ places/events are geared towards gay men, so there are barely any places for queer women. There was only one bar for queer women and it closed years ago. There’s usually a “lesbian night” once a month at one or two of the gay bars, but most of those are at clubs and I don’t enjoy clubs. So I feel like there’s not a lot of options for bisexual dating, which is probably contributing to my issues.

    2. neverjaunty*

      The kind of jerks you describe have always been part of the LGBT community, unfortunately. There are the ‘gold stars’ who think More Lesbian Than Thou is some kind of badge of honor (and, just between you and me, more of them than you think also go out with men on the DL). There are women who are some degree of bisexual and are lashing out at you because your comfort with being bi makes them nervous.

      Also, your straight friends are being dumb butts and and are wrong.

      Go to the bi support groups! You are not a fake! I promise you that most, if not all, of the people in those groups have been through exactly what you are experiencing.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I’ll second (third?) the support groups — this is EXACTLY what they are there for! If anyone should have an understanding, sympathetic ear for someone who feels like they’re new to this or a poser, it’s a support group! And you’re not, any more than someone who has never had sex with anyone before is about being whatever orientation they are! You can know who you are attracted to without actually having sex.

      Although I think that after some real-life relationships, you may find your own self-Kinsey rating may fluctuate. That’s normal! It doesn’t mean that your previous preferences were wrong or incorrect, it means you’ve changed, and that’s not a bad thing!

      I do think that while you don’t necessarily want to limit yourself to dating only bisexuals, that is obviously where you’ll find the most tolerance, just like gay men and lesbians may hang out at bars that cater to their demographic. If you just pick people without knowing their feelings about different orientations, it’s no surprise that you may often find yourself mismatched. There is still a lot of intolerance of bisexuals even in the LGBTQ community, although it’s getting better in the younger generations. As a Gen Xer, I found in the 80s and 90s we bisexuals were stereotyped as hypersexual predators that humped anything that moved, completely indiscriminate and uninterested in relationships. Or confused or trying to pass, or not accepting being gay/lesbian…unfortunately, that all may still be part of the narrative for many people. But IMO they are no more excusable than any other type of prejudice.

    4. deesse877*

      This is real. I sympathize, especially with the confused, intimate-damage feeling of being more hurt by other queer women than by fetishizing men.

      One recommendation, which I have made here before: do something to consolidate a bi/queer/pan/whatever-term-you-prefer identity that is NOT dating. A support group like you said might work, or volunteer work with an LGBTQ organization, or in bigger cities there will be like queer-specific hiking groups or whatever. You go, and you build up a bank of acquaintances and friends and friends-of-friends who know you as you want to be known. A few will question you, but lots won’t, and over time questions abate as new people cycle in and see you as established. It takes a long time and a lot of energy, but it’s solid, and it’s under your control, and it’s lasting.

      The overall idea is to (a) feel confident in how you present yourself, and (b) avoid giving other people the impression that they have a vote on who you are. In my own experience…some people are perfectly sincere when they say dehumanizing things like “can I watch?” or “you’ll always go back to men.” A very few are working out damage of their own and deserve pity. But most just can’t wrap their heads around it, and find themselves at a loss for other conversation, and don’t understand that it’s truly hurtful. Which is not to excuse them at all, just to point out that it really isn’t very deep, performative lust and/or outrage notwithstanding. When I realized that, it made it much easier for me to let some bad interactions go.

    5. Sylvan (Sylvia)*

      No advice, but I feel you. I’m thinking about going to a bi/pan/etc meetup, but: Social Anxiety.

    6. Nynaeve*

      Ugh, solidarity. It’s almost like the whole “I want 3-5 years of experience for an entry-level position” employer shenanigans of the work world. But just like in the work world, many people do eventually get past that Catch-22, whether through connections, transferable skills, soft skills, persistence, or being a good match in other ways. And just like in the work world, you’re looking for a good fit, and either party can reject the other for any reason (or no reason). And if a woman doesn’t want to date a bi woman for fear of penis cooties or doesn’t want to invest in “training” or commit to a perceived flight risk, fine, she’s entitled, but that means she’s a bad match for you. It has more to do with her issues; it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you.

      I think on OkCupid there’s way to show results filtered by “interested in bi women,” or at least there used to be. It does mean you have to sort through a lot of fetishizing men and couples looking for threesomes (sigh), but at least it eliminates “lesbian only” women.

      Good luck out there! Stay awesome! <3

    7. Red*

      Oh, dear lord, I know that feeling. Here’s the thing: if people are being dicks to you because they don’t want to sleep with you because you’re “not lesbian enough”, they are not the sort of person you want to sleep with anyhow. When people show you who they are, take them at their word. I really do recommend you find an LGBT group in your area, there will be other bi women there, and they will understand you. I promise. There’s hope, and it’s worth going.

    8. Softballer*

      There’s hope. 6 of my 9 lady “lesbian mafia” (also bi ladies) came out in 30s or later.

      I’m bi but I used OKcupid to search for women only. It worked sort of. I met my girlfriend through a combo of a lesbian dance party, an acquaintance, and OKCupid.

      That attitude you encountered is not unheard of but it’s surprising to me that you’re encountering it so regularly. I think you have to keep trying.

    9. anonanonanonymous*

      Oh man, I know exactly how you feel. I’m so sorry that you’re dealing with this. I am also bisexual, but I’ve dated mostly men. Now I’m in my early thirties and am more interested in dating women, but it’s hard.

      When I was on dating apps a few years ago, one thing that helped was setting up two separate, identical profiles. Even though I mentioned that I also date [whatever gender wasn’t the target of this profile], it was easier to connect when my bisexuality wasn’t the first thing other people knew about me. But it was better at cutting out threesome suggestions than getting lesbians to date me.

      Frankly, I don’t think you owe strangers information about your sexuality until you’ve been on a couple dates. If they know you’re interested in _them_, that’s enough. (I really don’t get women who “don’t want to teach [you] to have sex”; everyone’s different, so it’s not like you’re going to do the same things with everyone you date anyway.)

      Bi support groups exist for people exactly like us! I had to give myself pump-up talks to get myself to go, but it was really affirming. I also felt much less alone after reading one particular article on The Toast–try googling “She Said, She Said: Advice About Dating Ladies and Having a Bad Sister.” The second letter is the one that I mean. Good luck!

    10. Alwaysanon*

      I figured out I was bi in the 4th grade, before I knew the word. It was there as early as kindergarten, but it was a fully formed certainty in my soul by age 8. I slept with a boy for the first time in 9th grade and a girl in 10th. I have loved (really seriously loved and was loved by) in this order: man, man, woman, man, woman (now my wife). For the last 8 years I’ve been monogamous and only sexually and romantically interested in my wife, but I’m consistently attracted to men and woman equally.

      All of this has been easy for me. Easy for me to understand, to accept, to live. What was the hardest? Finding my place in the LGBTQ dating and friend community back when I was single. I NEVER felt more unsure of myself, like a faker, a poser, a less-than than when I was in college trying to meet other LGBT people and after college when I was making a home for myself in a new city and getting to know people there. I felt like I had to justify my bi-ness, make sure I measured up to some weird invisible standard someone somewhere had set as the “ok she’s one of us” threshold. I was ostracized by lesbians when they found out I’d not only slept with men but loved a few of them and had long term relationships with them. Even the friends who didn’t take it too seriously still teased me and introduced me as a straight friend so other lesbians would know I was off limits to date, undesirable because I’d “probably” end up with a guy. Like I was just using them for sex or fun or wild experiences or something, but I’d straighten up as soon as it was time to get serious.

      The whole thing is just bananas and I’m glad to be out of it. Those years of trying to just live authentically as myself but not able to find a place in my community for friends and dates were miserable and made me doubt myself so much. To be honest, I stopped being true to myself for a long time. If I was around lesbians, I called myself one and I fudged pronouns and erased men from my history. If I was interested in a guy, I erased women from my history. I hated every minute of that but I did it for a while because I found it so impossible to be accepted as a bi woman. Probably why I ultimately ended up falling in love with a straight woman (who discovered her bisexuality though her relationship with me). No judgment there, because she’d never been part of the club. :)

      I don’t have advice but I’ve been there. Just wanted to share. I hope you find your tribe of friends and have fun dates and ultimately find the partner that’s right for you (if that’s what you want).:)

  31. Portia*

    What do you do on the weekends to make yourself feel prepared and ready for the week? This is my last weekend of summer vacation and I’m trying to make sure this first week back to [that thing we don’t talk about on weekends] is as smooth and easy as possible. So I’m grocery shopping, meal planning, cleaning, etc. I feel like I often don’t use my time very wisely on weekends during the year, so I’m wondering: what routines do you follow on weekends that maybe aren’t the most fun thing to do at the moment, but that make your life easier during the week?

        1. Portia*

          Me too! I usually try to do it the night before but sometimes I can’t face it. Doing it all at once is so smart!

    1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Food prep for sure. If we dont cook twice on the weekend or prep SOMETHING we are in bad shape for the week and it comes down to eating out a ton (and wasting food in the fridge). Today we divvied up tasks – so other half prepped food (washed salad, cut veg) and I put some of it together to make dinner. Tomorrow we will cook again and then he will cook something easy Monday night and we ought to be set.

      We have groceries delivered so I “shop” online during the week and make the order to arrive for Friday night or Saturday morning depending on what we have going on. That way I have everything ready, have only bought what I need, and no one has to run out.

      Cleaning I find easy to quick clean a bathroom or a toilet during the week so I dont mind that so much but vacuuming is a bigger pain and I do need to do that on a weekend.

    2. Natalie*

      Laundry for sure. Buy groceries and roughly plan our lunches and dinners for the week. Pay any bills that are due in the next week. My spouse and I make sure we do one couple thing together (hike, watch a movie, work on a project) – it’s not that we can’t do those things on weekdays, but making sure we do something on a weekend means even during busy times we’re always connecting at least once a week. And I make sure to do or schedule one social thing as well, for a similar reason.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      The main focus is food prep and clothes prep. I get everything washed and ironed. I get the food cooked and freeze some of it. While I do this I also run my anti-everything ware on my computer so at least that gets cleaned up once a week. I don’t always finish the computer, though.
      I also try to plan out my week, so I am not grasping at straws trying to figure out what important things I need to remember. I line up things to be mailed or donated and I can take care of them as I go through my week. Sometimes I have recycling that needs to go to a certain place so I prep that (bags go back to the grocery store for recycle, bottles go to the scout bottle drive bin and so on.)

    4. Chaordic One*

      Since I commute by car, I do car things to have my car ready to go. I probably only take it to the dealer for more involved service or repairs once or twice a year. But I keep it washed and clean. I usually wash it about once a month. More often, I wash the windows, and vacuum and dust the interior. I also check the air pressure in the tires and the oil level at least once a month. I usually end up taking it for an oil changes on the weekend.

      Weekends are also the time I give my dog a bath.

    5. Bluebell*

      Laundry, groceries and a list of what to wear over the week to come. The actual outfits I may wear sometimes change because the weather report changes during the week. But it’s a good helpful exercise and I sometimes iron in advance but not often enough. I wish I did more cooking prep on weekends but it’s pretty rare.

  32. Junior Dev*

    Fellow people with mental health issues: how are you doing? What are you struggling with? What are you proud of?

    I had a rough couple of weeks but things are looking much better. (My official labels are anxiety, PTSD, and depression, but it’s been manifesting as either anxiety or extreme tiredness or both lately.) I was crying at work and generally panicking at having to do any kind of life responsibility. I am looking forward to a camping trip next week and I’m proud of myself for getting back on the exercise train after missing a couple workouts–I lifted weights, swam, and roller skated this week. And I’m planning to inventory my camping gear and fix my bicycles this weekend. It’ll be good to go camping, I think it’ll help relieve a lot of built up stress.

    (I’ve had people be impressed at how much I exercise and frankly it feels a little odd because I’m so bad at other things in my life, and exercise is the main habit that keeps the dysfunction under control. Antidepressants and therapy help too. But I’m not trying to be virtuous, I’m trying to keep myself out of the place where I do nothing but like in bed all day and am scared to leave the house.)

    1. bunniferous*

      You need to be very proud of yourself! You are right about exercise. People underestimate how incredibly useful it is to deal with stress and depressive issues. I used to take spin classes and I jokingly said that habit probably saved a lot of lives….I left a lot of anger and angst behind on those bikes.

    2. Mimmy*

      Oh I can relate to crying at work!

      I think my label is “depression with anxious mood”; I was told that years ago but it probably still holds today. I am doing okay, though work definitely stirs up the anxiety. And since this is the weekend thread, I can’t get into that :)

      I’m proud of two things:
      -That I’m starting to go to the gym, which everyone says can be very helpful with stress (as you also rightly note).
      -That I am beginning to recognize that work is definitely my biggest source of anxiety and that I need to be the one who takes the steps to change that. Those are anxiety-provoking too, but I congratulate myself each time I do something.

      Yet, I also struggle with the above. Having the self-discipline to continue going to the gym and developing better eating habits is hard, even though I know it will all likely make me feel so much better, both mentally and physically.

      As for the second item, there are things that I really do want to do, but having the courage to actually DO them–different story. One of them is starting a blog. I’ve been saying for several years that I’m going to do it, but I just. can’t. make myself do it. Again, I recognize that these are things that will help me to feel better, but it’s taking that first step I struggle with.

    3. Dr. KMnO4*

      I have bipolar II and I’m struggling with staying consistent on meds. I went out of the country and had to reschedule a psych appointment that would have gotten me a refill. I called multiple times to get a refill before I ran out but the office has ignored my messages. So I’m struggling with depression, which has always hit me more often than mania. I have family stuff going on, which is compounding the depression. I’m doing well enough, because I learned to cope without meds before the diagnosis. I’m proud of myself for not flipping out on any of my family members- my temper is unpredictable when I’m off my meds but I’m keeping it under control.

      1. Junior Dev*

        Dealing with unresponsive health providers is the worst. I’ve had similar experiences with my own prescribing doctor. I hope you get a response soon.

        1. Dr. KMnO4*

          Thanks :). I have an appointment soon, hopefully I’ll get a response then, but if not, I’ll still have meds by the end of August. Being in a rural area makes getting mental health care difficult.

      2. only acting normal*

        That’s awful. It’s horribly irresponsible of them to ignore requests like that.

        I ran out of meds last week, but it was my own stupid fault for forgetting to request the pre-approved refill in time, I can even do it online – no excuses! Luckily my GP turned the prescription around really quickly (thank you NHS). I still had to space out my last couple of doses before the prescription went through to the pharmacy, so started having withdrawal symptoms (fun!).
        And oh that notorious “family stuff” – I had some of that too last week: seriously well done for controlling your temper.

        1. Dr. KMnO4*

          Thanks :). I wish healthcare in the US was as good as it is in the UK (I assume that’s where you are based on the NHS). Being rural means I have very few options, otherwise I wouldn’t put up with them ignoring me like they have. I’m glad you got your prescription quickly. Family stuff is a special kind of stress, I’m sorry you have to deal with that.

    4. Kj*

      I’m back in therapy. Again. 15th therapist in my life. But I like her so far. I’m anxious and a mess in many ways, but at least I’m trying. Anxiety has always been my struggle. I saw my first therapist at 9.

      1. Junior Dev*

        I’ve been getting mental health care since I was a kid too. I’m glad you’re seeing a therapist, it can be a lot of work to set that up. I hope you can feel proud of the stuff you do manage to get done!

    5. Red*

      I’m doing fairly well. I’m stressed out, of course, but I’m on a new med and it’s working like a dream. I’m mostly just struggling with stress related to my husband, who is not entirely at fault but is the only one who can fix it. I’m really proud that I set up an appointment with a new psychiatrist whom I feel more comfortable with. I went off my meds like an idiot for a while and then didn’t want to go and tell my old psychiatrist what I’d done because I never liked him all that much to begin with, so that’s a pretty big deal. I’m bipolar, and I’m a disaster without my meds!

    6. SurpriseScarf*

      I’m undiagnosed and never been on meds, but I am guessing I have low grade anxiety issues. At any rate, this year I have stopped pulling my eyebrows and a specific location of hair out of my head, and the new hair has filled in wonderfully!!! My eyebrows are full and my hair in the spot has grown to shoulder length! Anyways, wanted to celebrate this achievement somewhere.

    7. WriterLady*

      After a few weeks gorging myself on sugar and bread – two things which pull me heavily into bad headspace land – I’ve made a clean start and have decided that’s not happening. My head was lurking in a bad spot (like, just on the edge of tipping over. Does anyone else feel that? Like, that the depression/anxiety is lingering, just waiting to pull you into the abyss?), and I decided I didn’t want that. I also remember how good I felt while exercising, so I’m going to be doing that again. I also know I have a bit of weight to lose, so I downloaded a book of healthier eating plans (easy ones, not “remove everything from your diet”) and fired up my pedometer. It’s a good feeling, at least, knowing I’m trying to get my life back under control.

      Also, I have minimal uni stress and somehow have gotten 100% on every assessment this semester, in addition to balancing work without having a meltdown. So that is a bonus.

    8. Kidsmoke*

      I’m not doing well. I have depression and also deal with panic attacks. I’ve been unemployed for 10 months and the stress has taken a tremendous toll. In the past 2 months, I’ve made it to the interview stage for several positions, but none of them panned out. Interviewing takes a lot out of me, mentally and physically. I need to take well-timed out anxiety medication before the interview to combat the panic attacks and I am just drained by the entire process.

      I had a very unpleasant experience on Friday, where I was rejected by a job after 2 rounds of interviews, and the reason they cited was something that was known at the outset. Think something like they asked if I spoke French, I said no, they passed me thru multiple rounds and then said ‘this job is only appropriate for someone who speaks French’. And I was ghosted by another job after 3 rounds of interviews. It’s a terrible situation for anyone to be in, this long term unemployment and dealing with the deeply shitty way companies treat candidates. I’d be struggling even without my particular challenges.

      I’m finding when I have these situations of finally getting the interview, managing the stress of the interview process and then getting rejected or ghosted, I go through several days of nearly non-stop crying, which is…you know, not great. So that’s where I am tonight. Since I got up this morning, I haven’t gone more than 20 minutes without crying. Pretty similar to how yesterday was and same probably tomorrow, and then I’ll start to come out of it. And then I’ll wait for the cycle to repeat itself.

      Of note, I am getting good care and am not suicidal. I’m fortunate that suicidal ideation isn’t something I have to deal with. I’m profoundly sad, depressed and terrified, I am seemingly unemployable at 52 and uncontrollable crying is not an illogical response to my situation.

      I will pick myself up and keep applying for,jobs, keep going on interviews and keep weathering the outcomes of those interviews but it’s hard as hell and not often a pretty sight.

    9. This Daydreamer*

      Oh, gods, I’m kind of a mess upstairs – Depression, anxiety, PTSD, and ADHD. Thanks to long-term therapy and a cocktail of meds, I’m doing okay. And I actually have a job that makes good use of my past. It’s helping me find confidence and perspective, and being able to empathize with the people I work with is an essential part of my job.

    10. Saturnalia*

      Thank you for asking <3

      I need to switch meds, as my current antidepressant is making my anxiety soooooo much worse, panic attacks so bad I black out, I've stopped self harm once I started talking to my therapist again (she gave me a discounted rate, and is letting me delay payment, otherwise I can't afford it – unemployed), I have awful suicidal ideation. I was depressed and anxious as a teenager too, and feeling like this again is also making me feel immature (and all the crap my parents said to teenage me races through my head: just try harder!). It has not been easy, this is the second med that hasn't worked for me – the first had me sleeping 18 hours per day, now I barely sleep for 5 hours.

      But. I worked through my paranoia and phobia enough to leave the house yesterday. I got food with my partner and walked on the beach. No one yelled at me, I didn't die. I've lived here since April and yesterday was the first time I saw the beach. I've touched the earth with my bare feet and now maybe I can feel a connection to this land, 3000 miles from the dirt where I spent the first 30 years.

      I want to be able to work out again. The anxiety allows it; the depression does not. The anger at the outside world fuels workout; anger at myself does not.

      I'm working on accepting I may never be reimbursed the $xx,xxx I spent on moving here. It hard. Lots of anger at partners company. I have to let go in order to get to a head space where I can look for a job. I need money, regardless of my current mental health, and that means going back to work.

      Hugs all around – may we all continue to baby step our ways to more happiness.

    11. Justin*

      Going to a therapist for the first time (solo, went with my wife before) soon. Nothing too severe – more power to all of you with more serious issues – just that it’s time to finally get a handle on my self-esteem issues and anxiety that have left me somewhat uncomfortable in my skin for much of my life. My life is objectively solid, so I feel like I “should” be just fine, but worry I’m not “good enough.” So, off to therapy then.

  33. bunniferous*

    Well, I had an ….interesting…..week this week.

    I came home from work around 7 or so and I was sitting in my parking spot looking at my phone (I live in an older apartment complex, this spot was right in front of my building which is right next to the pool. Pool and small cul de sac was right behind me.) Without going into a lot of gory detail, a resident was standing beside a car I did not recognize and having a rather heated argument with the driver. I could see them in my rear view mirror. The argument was heated enough I was debating whether or not to call 911. I had just about decided-nah, people fight, I will just keep an eye on it-all of a sudden the car took off, whipped around in a 360 circle in the cul de sac area at a way too rapid speed then aimed at and HIT THE PEDESTRIAN with the car knocking her up into the air to land right beside the dumpster which the car then hit. I leaped out of my car screaming CALL 911 at the top of my lungs then realized the car was headed MY direction so I took off running-thankfully the car just sped out of our complex.

    Miraculously the woman who was hit only had a few broken ribs and bruises and scratching.

    So I look up the police report (yes there were other witnesses not just me) and NO charges, and it was considered a misdemeanor????What the everloving hades?????? I surmise the victim declined to press charges. Smh……

    A month or so ago I witnessed a 4 car auto accident directly in front of me while I was driving in which at least 2 people were injured severely with one of those passing at the hospital….

    Driving is a large part of my job so I get that I will probably see things like that once in awhile but….I am glad this week is over.

    1. Myrin*

      Oh Christ, that sounds really horrible and upsetting, no wonder you’re glad the week’s over!

    2. NPG*

      If the victim refuses to press charges, there’s not a whole lot the police can do. That would be my guess as well. This sounds like another DV situation.

      I feel your pain – had to stand at a train stop this week while a couple screamed profanities at each other from about two feet away. I also thought about calling the cops and they left before I could. It sucks.

      1. Natalie*

        Although some states have started to prosecute DV as The State vs Person, so they can proceed even if the victim backs down (which is sadly common in DV particularly). I think it’s probably hard if your main witness isn’t cooperating, of course.

  34. KV*

    Started US immigration paperwork for my lovely partner this week. We’re married, they’re an English speaker from the UK, I’m a native US citizen, my parents are helping sponsor, and we’re both white, so we have about all the advantages you can have… but I still feel like I’m going to stressplode. Starts with one 12 page application that could define our whole lives, plus all the evidence we’re a real couple we have to gather. Ugh.

    Anybody else gone through this? I don’t think I need much advice, but commiseration is always appreciated.

    1. Hey Anonny Nonny*

      I have never actually gone through applying for visas or any type of immigration but from what I have heard, it sounds very stressful so you have my sympathies. I hope everything goes smoothly and your partner can join you soon.

      1. KV*

        Oh, I should have mentioned, we very happily live together…. in Japan! It adds another wrinkle to the whole process, but I hear it does make things faster in the long run. Thanks for the well wishes!

        1. Today's anon*

          I hope you know about Immigration Equality, they deal exclusively with LGBT immigration issues. They do some great work.

    2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      We did – my partner was a Diversity Visa (aka the Green Card Lottery) winner. He was fast tracked and my parents sponsored but yeah, putting yourself at the mercy of the state is not fun. The US actually has its sh*t together though and things tend to run smoothly – be glad you aren’t going the other way to the UK because THAT is a nightmare of bureaucratic uncertainty that defies logic. And expensive!

      1. KV*

        Oh, really?! I hadn’t heard the UK’s is worse. I only know a little about the process in that direction.

    3. Candy*

      I’m sponsoring my husband to come to my country too and, yes, it’s incredibly stressful. We’ve been apart for 9 months now. It’s affecting our health, our moods, our income, everything. It is so hard.

      I know you’re not looking for advice, but if I’d suggest anything it’s 1) go through a lawyer if you can afford it and 2) stay off immigration forums. They’re all full of horror stories of applications being refused for all sorts of reasons and will only freak you out!

      1. KV*

        Unfortunately, we’re both in Japan while making this application so working with a US lawyer is a challenge. Thanks for the advice about the forums! I’m mostly avoiding them, yeah. A lot of the horror stories don’t apply at least, since we have all those advantages I mentioned.

      2. Gaia*

        I’m sorry you and your spouse are apart. I hope it goes smoothly and you can be together again soon.

    4. Temperance*

      You can do this!

      I’m an attorney and have done these applications a whole bunch of times. What seems to make my clients the most secure is including a LOT of evidence. If you have joint bank accounts, joint cell phones, leases, photos of you together, ceremony photos, affidavits etc. You should be okay.

      1. KV*

        Thanks for confirming something I’ve been worried about! Unfortunately, we don’t have any combined accounts because we both live in Japan and can’t combine much. We’re queer and our relationship has no status here (you can’t even join accounts as a boyfriend/girlfriend in a lot of cases). But at least we’re registered as living together by the city! And we have lots of photos, receipts from our wedding and ceremony, and people writing affidavits. Hope it’s enough.

        1. Gaia*

          That should be good. Photos going back overtime, affidavits and evidence from the wedding are all good.

    5. FDCA In Canada*

      I immigrated to Canada after marrying my Canadian husband. It was a huge stressful nightmare. I mean, it all worked out in the end, and it was fine, and I’m glad it’s over, but holy moly it was not a fun experience. Absolute truckloads of paperwork, tons of sending stuff back and forth in the mail, all the evidence, everything.

      It did work out at the end! Honestly, I don’t know anything about US immigration, but the thing that kept me even vaguely sane during doing all that paperwork was that it’s designed for every possible immigrant from everywhere, and just by being a native English speaker familiar with US customs you’re already having a much easier time with the paperwork than a lot of people! Weirdly, one of the things we had to do was come up with a list of “relationship references,” i.e., non-family who could vouch that we had been a couple for X years. I think we had to put down six people and none of them were ever called. Just one more piece of paperwork!

      1. KV*

        This was a comforting comment, thank you! After all the paperwork madness, it’s great that things have settled down for you. I remember looking into moving to Canada back in the late aughts (because they’re trans friendly and I have family up there) and seeing they have pretty tough immigration laws. I guess it makes sense considering they provide more social services to any given citizen than the US does.

        Relationship references sound like a trip, especially since they never got called; why bother? I’m getting written affidavits from volunteers as evidence of our relationship, so that’s something similar, but it’s optional.

        1. FDCA In Canada*

          Oh yeah. I won’t lie, it was a nightmare at the time (our paperwork got sent back twice and nearly gave me a heart attack both times), but after I got my permanent residency it was like a switch flipped and all that stress went away. It was fairly straightforward for me to immigrate here because I’d been living here five years before I ever met my husband and all my postsecondary was done here, so it was pretty straightforward for my husband to sponsor me (made easier because he’s a federal government employee, so no issues with proving his earnings, etc).

          If they’re giving you optional stuff to do and there’s any chance it’ll smooth things down, DO IT. Just do everything you possibly can to eliminate scrambling further down the line. And make copies of everything. I have both electronic copies of the entire immigration package and paper copies of everything as backup in the event that my card ever gets lost, so it won’t be a mess trying to get it reissued. And if you’re an organizer, start an Excel sheet or even a Word document to keep records (5 August, mailed X documents, tracking number Y, 10 August, received notification that X was requested, and so on and so forth). It will help.

    6. miki*

      My sister immigrated to the USA on a spousal visa, and she found the visajourney . com forums / guides extremely helpful. No need for a lawyer, you can do this by yourself. Good luck!

    7. Asterix*

      Yes, I have been there. I got a lawyer to do it. She asked for paper work, I supplied and waited. Then did the interview and it was done. It was a couple hundred $$. Worth every penny. She was however recommended to me through someone who used her, as there are some lawyers who will drag out the process.

    8. Archie Goodwin*

      I sponsored my husband coming in from Germany. (To avoid confusion, I’m female despite my user name, just a big Nero Wolfe fan). We’d been living in Germany but got married in Vegas to make things a bit easier in regards to needing paperwork translated. Also, as an aside, Germany requires an ungodly amount of paperwork from a non-citizen to get married. In any event, the process took almost a year. We started the application process in October and in September of the following year my husband finally received his green card. There is more than one step involved in the process and several fees that you will have to pay. If I remember correctly, it was around $2000 in total at the time (2009-2010). We were so elated when he finally received his green card. We had been living apart for a total 16 months by the time he got his card because I went back to the US without a job and had to find employment before I could sponsor him. But it all worked out. So, just be patient, you guys will be fine.

    9. DC Actuary*

      I just got through a 2-year ordeal of getting my step-mother a green card. She was married to my dad (a US citizen) for over 15 years until he died, but they never lived in the US so she never got a green card before his death. As the widow of a US citizen, she could self-sponsor. It was a really slow and frustrating process. The main issue is just that our bureaucracy moves incredibly slow. It takes months for them to review anything you send in, and there is stuff that they want that they don’t mention upfront, so it gets really annoying and time-consuming. We made a bunch of mistakes along the way, and I’m sure a lawyer would have been helpful and saved us time, but in the end it worked out.

      As for the joint bank accounts, don’t worry. My dad and step-mother didn’t have any joint accounts, and the house they owned was only in my step-mother’s name (since they lived in her country). For proof that their relationship was bona fide, we submitted numerous pictures of them together from throughout their relationship. We provided printouts of Facebook posts where they referred to each other as husband/wife. I provided an affidavit stating that their marriage was real and that my step-mother was a part of the family. And it probably helped that they had two kids together too :)

      Your spouse is going to need a police certificate from every country where your spouse has lived, so it’s better to start trying to get those now as it can take a while. Trying to get one from China for my step-mother was a nightmare.

      Good luck!

    10. Gaia*

      I haven’t gone through it but a dear friend just did. You have my sympathies. I hope it goes as smoothly as these things can and that one day soon this will all be a pleasant memory.

    11. Observer*

      Yup. My husband is an English speaker, but with an accent you could cut with a knife. By the time of our 2 year review, we had a child together, so that made things a bit easier. For getting the Green card (a couple of months after we got married) wedding pictures helped. If you didn’t get married or no pictures, that’s annoying. But if you have a shared bank account, they tend to like that.

    12. Parenthetically*

      Sympathies. My husband and I just finished the green card process. 17 months of total frustration, and we are similarly in “easy” circumstances — both white, both English speakers, I’m a US citizen, we were able to hire an immigration attorney… it’s awful.

  35. anon for this*

    Has anyone ever recognized someone they know on the comments here, and how did it affect how you comment? A couple weeks ago I was reading the open thread and recognized a story that sounded really familiar. I looked at the username and was able to figure out that it was a member of my immediate family! I had some work questions I wanted to ask but I never did because I knew this person would figure out it was me (in all fairness I was the one who raved about this blog to said person, but I never actually thought they would look it up)

    1. Mimmy*

      Hasn’t happened yet, but I do sometimes dread the day someone finds me on here. I haven’t told anyone about this site (though one former colleague “liked” the AAM page). I don’t use my real name here anymore and I try to keep details vague, though that’s sometimes hard to do when I need to tell my story.

    2. fposte*

      I’ve seen some people commenting that I probably knew (definitely worked in the same building) but I decided not to connect all the dots to be sure.

    3. MissDisplaced*

      Never happened for me. Sometimes stories sound “familiar,” but I think the case is just some of these things happen in all workplaces. The thing I would worry about most, is if one of my managers read something and/or posted… but I kinda doubt it!

    4. all aboard the anon train*

      I posted a situation that happened at work as a comment to one of this week’s posts, and I know it’s distinctive enough that someone who worked in the same department would recognize it. I think if someone was stalkerish enough they could track down all my other comments and figure out who I was, but I’m not that worried about it tbh.

    5. katamia*

      Yes. I didn’t even know this person (who I don’t think comments here anymore, although I don’t always have time to read during the week so I can’t be sure–maybe our blog-reading schedules just don’t overlap right now) read the blog, but they posted about a very specific situation that they’d also talked about on Facebook, and then I saw a couple other comments they’d made about other parts of their life that confirmed it. I never said anything, though, because I felt like it would make this person feel uncomfortable and I didn’t want to do that.

    6. overeducated*

      Whoa! Not that close, but yeah. I know at least one person from my grad program reads AAM (don’t think that person is a frequent poster but wouldn’t be surprised if I have dribbled out enough information in comments to be recognized). I also think I know an occasional commenter as a professional acquaintance but not someone close enough to be like “oh HEY you!”

      So it’s not that unrealistic that someone might know me; if I were careful I’d treat it more like Facebook or Twitter, not talk about my family ever, change my handle (which is tongue in cheek at this point anyhow), and perhaps be careful to not complain about work so much. But where’s the fun in all that? I relish having one place to go where I don’t have to worry so much about privacy and professionalism.

    7. Ramona Flowers*

      I saw a post from someone who sounded a lot like they worked for the same employer. My reaction was to change my posting name. I change a lot of details but still.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This. We have had a few people change their names.
        Alison discourages people from “outing” each other. I think that is wise, we can just focus on the conversation at hand. Sometimes it can be more important to help another person with a topic than it is to ID them in real life.

        OTH, I will say, if I met some of the posters here in person, I would be totally THRILLED.

        1. fposte*

          There was a Chicago meetup a few years ago that I’m really bummed I missed! It was Jamie and Rana and Josh S., I think.

        2. anon for this*

          Oh I definitely am not trying to “out” anyone. The post was on a Saturday open thread and it was about something very specific that happened a few years ago and I was skimming comments and did a double take. The person used a username that was instantly identifiable to me – I certainly didn’t sit and think about whether I knew the person! It’s definitely made me tone down my comments and change a lot of details. I don’t think this person reads the blog regularly and if they are still commenting it’s under a different name but I’d rather not have them know who I am!

        3. Vancouver Reader*

          I met a lovely lady at O’Hare last Christmas, and I was so tempted to ask her, “are you NSNR or fposte on AAM?” but I didn’t want her thinking she was talking to some weirdo, and spending overnight at the airport probably wouldn’t have cut it as an excuse for bizarre questioning.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Oh that is funny! It wasn’t me, I have not been to O’Hare for decades. Maybe it was fposte? lol.

    8. Saturnalia*

      Huge paranoia of mine. I try to ignore the paranoia though. I go more anon when I’m more worried (details about my last toxic workplace will be more anon than personal details, for example).

    9. Elizabeth West*

      I know a few people who comment here from other forums. So far, nobody from work, etc. It does make me wonder if I should have gone the anonymous route. What if I become famous all of a sudden? Or what if someone at a new job recognizes me here?

  36. Candy*

    Anyone else read The Billfold? I used to read it religiously but after they moved to Medium I gave up. The loss of the comments and Mike Dang at the same time was just too much.

    But I clicked over again this morning and saw that they’re back on WordPress. I wonder if their commenters (and quality!) will come back or if they’ve all scattered elsewhere.

    I really don’t like the direction Nicole Dieker took it after Logan and then Mike left — it felt like all the posts were by work-from-home writers who never leave the house about buying towels or whatever. But I think I’ll give it another shot

    1. fposte*

      Same on your first paragraph–I’d just done some kerfuffle with my commenting anyway, and the move to Medium made the comments pretty tough to read, so it just fell below my “worth the time” bar. It was also about the same time Ester Bloom wrote that cringeworthy Jessica Williams thing and The Awl stuff would turn up in the feed so I was kind of done with the whole constellation.

    2. Turtlewings*

      Big Billfold fan here! Medium was not the best but I’d adapted to it, so now I’m having to learn how to do comments stuff all over again. While I wish the site had more varied POVs, and hope they’ll be able to get more long-term staff, I gotta stand up for Nicole — she’s worked hard to keep the place going as Mike, Logan, Ester, and now Megan have all drifted off. I love the Billfold’s conversational tone and its acknowledgement of the problems Millennials face in the current economy. (insert avocado joke here)

      1. Valentina*

        That’s true about Nicole. I wrote below that I’m not a fan of a lot of her content but it’s admirable that she’s kept the ship afloat all this time.

    3. overeducated*

      Yeah, I used to love it but the Medium comments and the slow transition to mostly “how freelance writers do money by writing articles about how freelance writers do money” kinda tired me out. If the comments are manageable now I will check it out again, I enjoyed the discussions.

      1. Candy*

        “how freelance writers do money by writing articles about how freelance writers do money” Yes exactly!

        I really liked the contrast between Logan Who is Bad at Money and Mike Who is Good at Money but also the two of them (plus Meaghan) generally covered all diverse sorts of people and money problems. I still haven’t found a money blog replacement that was as interesting as the billfold was when it first started

    4. rj*

      I love the billfold. I’m theotherginger there. I really like Nicole! Her style jives with me way more than Megan’s did. I liked medium for some things way more than wordpress, but a week and a half ago the app stopped showing me the medium sites I follow so that’s when I gave up on it…

    5. Valentina*

      Medium was the wooorst. No, I’m not clicking 17 times to read one comment subthread!

      I agree about Nicole’s direction, I guess I just can’t relate and/or don’t care enough to read a lot of posts about her shampoo budget or w/e. Granted her freelancing advice seems useful but if you’re gonna incorporate that much of your own life in your post you need to… do more stuff or have more variety? Idk I may sound harsher here than I mean to come off, I’m trying to say I skip over her posts now because they started to seem like more of the same to me.

      I liked the old more reader-driven features like the one where someone would list all the places they’d lived. I feel like the Billfold missed its shot to dp something hugely popular like Refinery 29’s money diaries.

  37. Canadian Natasha*

    I’m so excited! I’m leaving for my France trip in 3 weeks!! :D I am sooooo looking forward to the food and views and wine!

    I’m sure I am totally overplanning/overpacking but it’s my first out-of-country solo travel trip so I’m a bit nervous about forgetting something crucial. It’s not like I’m going somewhere where supplies are scarce and I’ll have to rough it; if I do forget something it should not be a big deal (I keep telling myself this but my nerves go “but what if…?”).
    Wish me luck!

    1. Lady Kelvin*

      I usually have the same trouble, so I divide my stuff into 3 piles, have to take, want to take, and if there’s room. Then the have to takes go in the suitcase first, followed by the want to takes, and finally if there’s room I pack all the stuff in my last pile. I find it really helps me keep my bags light and bring the things I really want. I usually over pack anyways, but at least I know I have at least the stuff I’ll need.

      1. Canadian Natasha*

        That’s a good idea Lady Kelvin. Of course, defining “essential” is the key thing. ;)

    2. rj*

      best travel advice: take half as many clothes and twice as much money. Now, that depends on your budget of course! I have never been sad with the amount of shoes I take though – I think through all my activities and make sure I have nice black vans/keds, which can go almost anywhere, and then a few others.

      1. Canadian Natasha*

        Lol, the clothes are my weakness! I have a hatred of repeating outfits. And apparently I have to dress for dinner so I mostly can’t wear my walking-friendly daytime clothes to the restaurant- which means double the outfits required.

        I think I’m thinking reasonably in terms of shoes, though. I have four pairs: 1 pair comfy fashion runners, 1 pair casual walking sandals, 1 pair wedge heel dressy sandals, and 1 pair ballet flats. So I have good and bad weather options for both the casual and dressy outfits. All but the ballet flats are tested for all day comfort so they shouldn’t give me blisters. (And I have blister patches & spray if they do).

        1. Vancouver Reader*

          Are there any dresses you have that can do double duty? I have a dress that is wrinkle free and is casual enough for wearing for sightseeing, but then I can throw a shawl or necklace on it to dress it up for nighttime.

          1. Canadian Natasha*

            I am bringing two casual dresses but since it gets pretty windy this time of year- and we’ll be doing a fair bit of walking- I thought it best to mostly wear shorts/capris/pants while we’re out during the day to avoid having other people inadvertently learn too much about my choice of underthings (Très embarrassant!).

      2. Natalie*

        I actually bought shoes when I was in Paris a couple of years ago because of this exact philosophy. And I love them and would buy 10 more pairs if I could.

  38. NextStop*

    I had a dream featuring AAM. In the dream, I overheard my dad telling my brother to check on me and see what I was doing. So I scrambled to find something impressive to do – the easiest thing seemed to be to go to a website that my dad would approve of. I decided to go to AAM’s job search tag and be reading that when my brother got to me. I was actually already on AAM in the dream, but just to read coworker drama.

  39. Shayland*

    I’ve been waiting since about ten this morning for my new drawing tablet to be delivered. The package can’t be left by the front door because of the neighborhood I live in, and my apartment doesn’t have a door bell and knock’s can be heard. So I’m waiting by my front window occupying my brain with silly, mindless things so I can act as soon as the delivery truck pulls up.

    At first I was excited, now I’m just tired.

    1. atexit8*

      Can you install one of those wireless doorbells for future purchases?
      I can’t imagine not having a doorbell.

      Also, if you bought from Amazon, they have lockers in some places.

      1. Shayland*

        My landlord won’t give me permission to have a door bell like that. And this time the package was too big to be in the locker.

        It didn’t end up coming, I called the postal service and got the time the delivery attempt was supposedly made and there was no truck on the street at that time, let alone a person going to the door with a package. So I’m pretty grumpy about that. I need to call back Monday and tell them I’ll just pick it up at their office.

        1. Effie, going nowhere fast*

          Aw, I hate it when that happens! It happened to my younger sis when I sent her a bottle of champagne for her 21st birthday :( UPS never showed up and claimed that a delivery attempt had been made when my sister had been sitting by the front door looking out the window the entire afternoon. Lots of sympathy!

        2. Bryce*

          It needs the landlord’s permission? I would have assumed that if you stick it on with command strips or something else nondestructive it wouldn’t matter.

          1. Shayland*

            My landlord hates me and has made it very clear that I am not to place anything on the outside of the apartment.

  40. salad fingers*

    Question for everyone.

    I’m going as my sister’s plus one to a her friend’s fairly casual wedding this upcoming Friday. I’m in my mid to late 20s and she’s older than me by 7 years. This is a college friend who I’ve spent some time with throughout the years. Usually I feel like a sibling plus one would be weird but it’s going to be a non traditional wedding (non-straight, not in a church, I don’t think a real sit down dinner (?)) and friend really encouraged my sister to bring someone, maybe because their friend groups no longer overlap and she’ll be there on her own?

    Anyway, I haven’t attended a ton of weddings and need help on gift etiquette. The couple doesn’t have a registry because they’re internationally relocating right away, so they’ve asked that anything given be a cash gift. Basically, will someone just tell me what the actual heck I’m supposed to give? And are guests plus one supposed to gift together? Any guidance here would be super helpful.

    Also, in case it matters, I don’t make a ton of money – I assume a decent amount less than the folks getting married. All the same, I really don’t like being cheap when it comes to gifts :-)

    1. Wendy Darling*

      I’m not even sure you’re expected to give a gift as a +1, but in general I think one invite = one gift, so you and your sister would give a joint gift? I know even before we lived together my SO and I went in together on wedding gifts when we were invited together…

      1. Dr. KMnO4*

        I agree with the joint gift. And really, money is always appreciated. Doesn’t have to be much, give what you can afford.

        1. salad fingers*

          Totally, and for the weddings my boyfriend and I have attended together, whoever’s family or friend is getting married takes care of the gift for both. I guess it just feels like because my sister and I are two very distinct entities, we should gift separately, but I’m glad to hear that a joint one sounds normal.

          Also I think part of my apprehension is coming from feeling generally like a weird or inappropriate plus one.

          1. Zathras*

            Don’t feel inappropriate or weird! I’ve been to several weddings where the couple’s single friends or family members have brought a fun friend, or a distant cousin who wasn’t originally invited but coincidentally happened to be in town, or whatever, as a +1. Especially if the couple is encouraging it you should go, have a great time, and not worry about it at all. (And I agree with what others have been saying, a joint gift is completely appropriate.)

    2. rj*

      I’ve gone as my friend’s plus one before. I think it’s super fun! I really like weddings when I know nothing of the stress involved. And you do not need to get a gift as the plus one.

    3. Stellaaaaa*

      When in doubt, I give a $50 Target gift card. They can spend it on kitty litter or groceries. Since they’re requesting cash I’d just give cash but I understand feeling weird about that.

  41. *sigh**

    It is very stormy and dark and cool (I have made cocoa). Perfect snuggling weather, and I don’t have anyone to snuggle with. I’m lonely. If I have to be stuck here for a while longer, can’t I have that at least? :(

    But I FINALLY rented Deadpool, so later I guess I’ll make popcorn and laugh some.

    1. Annie Mouse*

      It’s not stormy here but I’ll commiserate with you on the snuggling. The main thing I miss about my ex is having someone to snuggle up infront of the tv with. Not him, definitely not him, but having someone to curl up with. Have a virtual, international, internet hug if it helps. My little furbaby sends one as well, she’s been doing lots of cuddling tonight, and lots of purring.

      1. Stella's Mom*

        I have had a cat now for 4 years. :) Way better than my ex in about a million ways. She is purring next to me right now. :) Big internet hugs to you, Elizabeth West, too.

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      Yeah, cold and dark here in Spain of all places. I, however, have my cat sprawled across my shoulder and chest whilst we read AAM. She’s a big fan.

      Enjoy Deadpool. I haven’t seen it yet but it does look funny.

    3. Merci Dee*

      Can I borrow your dark, stormy, and cool weather until my air conditioning is fixed? You can have all the sunshine and mid-80s temps you want!

    4. Stellaaaaa*

      Order the first Outlander book on your kindle and pour another cup of cocoa. I’ve never ached for a character as much as I’ve ached for Jamie in that first book.

  42. Wendy Darling*

    The pacific northwest is currently having a heat wave and also a spate of unhealthily bad air quality due to smoke from wildfires in British Columbia. Almost no homes here are air conditioned (including mine and everyone I know). Also I have asthma. It… kind of sucks. I think I’m going to see a lot of movies this weekend so I can sit in the air conditioning.

    1. ..Kat..*

      Fellow PNWer here. The smoke is causing awful things to happen with my sinuses. The library is also a great place to get air conditioning. Starbucks, too.

    2. Workaholic*

      I hung out at the bookstore till they kicked me out at closing. And I’ve seen a few movies. Smoke seemed a little less today. I’m inland NW – i think we have our own fires adding to the mix. I’m grateful not to have asthma but even so it still bothers me

    3. Gaia*

      Our air finally cleared up with some lovely winds….just in time for a much closer wildfire to explode and bring all that smoke in right behind.


    4. Bryce*

      I got a new air purifier this weekend (my old one was 15 years old, hadn’t worked right for the last 8, and way too expensive). It’s hard to judge because we’re also in an air quality lull (it’s supposed to get bad again next week) but I feel more alert than I have in quite a while.

      Holmes HEPA-type tower. About ninety bucks, nothing fancy just a fan an ionizer and some filters. A far cry from my old oreck with its proprietary electromagnetic cell that was a pain to clean and you can’t just replace because they only sell it with the full machine.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        The air quality + heat are finally making me consider a portable AC. I really only need it a few weeks a year, but woof, those weeks.

  43. Marzipan*

    My wonderful egg donor is having her retrieval on Monday (she gets half the eggs for her own treatment and I get the other half). I’ve sort of stopped believing that human pregnancies are even possible at all (I mean, OK, there’s a certain amount of evidence that they do, but they seem so *unlikely*) so I don’t know whether to feel excited or just expect it all to go wrong so I’m not hit as hard if it does.

    In other news, I have painted the stairs AND I’m halfway through sticking the funky vinyl on the risers, so if nothing else I have at least managed that.

    1. Call me St. Vincent*

      Good luck! I struggled with infertility and so do so many people, so I’m glad we can talk about it. My friend, who also struggled with it, used to say “it’s amazing that someone could get pregnant in the backseat of a Chevy, isn’t it?” Things tend to happen when you least expect it, especially with pregnancies. I wish you strength and peace and love!

    2. Gaia*

      I’m really glad it is becoming more of a thing to discuss struggles with infertility. I know so many women who would give everything to be a mother but just cannot get pregnant through …uh…traditional…means. I am glad that there are treatments and options for those that want to give birth.

  44. Snargulfuss*

    I wrote about a month ago asking questions about adopting a cat. A few of you said that the cat would choose me, and you all were so right! At the shelter she planted herself on my lap and wouldn’t move, even batting another cat away. Now she’s queen of the house and I have a few more questions:

    I know there are various spray and tapes you can use to discourage cats from scratching the furniture. What actually works? She has a scratch pad that she uses, but when she’s in one of her wild moods she often stops at one end of the couch and starts to scratch. I’m planning to get a new couch within the next few months (it was in horrible condition long before the cat), and I absolutely do not want her scratching it.

    How can I get her to stop chewing on the plants? I’ve tried spraying the plants with a vinegar water solution and put lemon essential oil on the planter, but neither of those tactics are working.

    I’m considering getting her a harness and leash so that I can take her outside, but I’m concerned that if I start taking her outside, she’ll be miserable inside while I’m at work all day. Is giving her a taste of outside opening a Pandora’s box? Putting in some sort of catio isn’t an option, so it’s either me taking her out briefly after work and on weekends or just keeping her as a solely indoor cat.

    1. Shayland*

      Walks are really great enrichment for cats and it shouldn’t leave to her feeling upset about not being able to be outside when you are not home. The enrichment is a fun and exciting deviation from routine that she should be happy to engage in whenever the enrichment isn’t happening.

      Make sure you properly introduce her to the harness.

    2. Courageous Cat*

      I had luck putting orange peels in the planter for my cat. Just be careful to look up all your plants – some (maybe even “most”, it feels like sometimes) are very toxic to cats and can be fatal.

    3. Cookie D'Oh*

      Congrats on adopting a kitty!

      There is a product called Stick Paws that you can put on furniture and other items. I saw something on Instagram that is a scratcher that fits along the corner of a couch. I can’t find the name, but I’ll update if I do. You may also want to try positioning a vertical scratcher near the area of the couch where she scratches. The SmartCat Ultimate Cat Scratching Post works really well.

      My big tabby boy loves being outside. We took him in as a stray and I think he spent most of his formative years outside. He is harness trained and gets to walk around the yard without a harness when I’m around to supervise. Honestly he sleeps the majority of the time during the day and has gotten used to going outside at certain times.

      The Indoor Pet Initiative on the OSU website has info on how to enrich the lives of indoor cats.


    4. fposte*

      Most of the time with animals, teaching them not to do stuff is really hard, and I think it’s often an unreasonable expectation, tbh. Putting stuff cats like in a cat area and then telling them not to touch it is a big ask. Instead focus on either not having stuff in the area (if she’s chewing on the plants, I would really, really not leave them around for her–even cat-safe plants can cause big problems if she goes above small amounts) and giving her lots of stuff, not just a single item, that *is* okay for her to scratch. Multiple scratch pads, big tall scratching posts with nice baskets on top that have high value for ownership, stuff with the texture she likes best, near you if that’s part of the sofa allure, etc., and have these in every room–if she starts on the sofa move her to what it is okay for her to scratch that offers some of the same satisfaction.

      I don’t think taking a cat for walks it makes her miserable pining for the outdoors any more than playing with her makes her miserable for not getting that 24/7. And as Shayland says, the key is training her to the harness; take it very slowly and step by step, rewarding her just for contact with the harness, letting you put a strap against her body, etc. There are probably some good YouTube videos.

    5. Ramona Flowers*

      I love that she chose you!

      Re scratching furniture. Does she have a scratching post that allows her to stretch up to full height? It’s a good idea to have at least one. We have one with platforms and one that’s like a big cone he can climb up. But we also have a cat who only scratches furniture in the presence of a human who isn’t doing his bidding – he’ll do it once then look at you to check you saw! Or just put a throw on your couch…

    6. anon24*

      We trained our cats pretty easily to not scratch the furniture but they were also young kittens at the time. We basically made sure every single room had a scratching post or cat tower. Anytime they would scratch something that wasn’t theirs we would pick them up, say no very firmly and touch their nose, and move them to a toy they could scratch. It took about a month of diligent “no” and they got it. We also were big on love/praise when they went to their toys first. We have no problems now, they can be with us wherever we are and still have something to play/scratch on. I personally don’t care about my furniture (it’s all target or Ikea) but my lease specifically says my cats must be declawed and I happen to think that’s animal cruelty so I just need them to be really good about not tearing up my carpets or walls So my landlord never finds out!

      Also, getting our second cat really helped with the behavior issues from our first kitten. He was home alone all day and would get totally wild when we got home. Getting him a friend calmed him down a lot because they can play together all day.

    7. Sibley*

      Scratching the couch – consistent “no” and positive reinforcement for using the scratch pad. If you only have a horizontal pad, try also getting a vertical post, also try carpet vs. sisal rope vs cardboard. Cats have preferences, and don’t try to argue with that for you will lose. Basically, you’d dealing with an extremely mobile permanent toddler, so factor that into discipline. Scratching is a 100% natural and necessary behavior, so you can’t get them to stop, you can only redirect to legal targets. Even cats that are declawed will still scratch.

      Plants – get rid of the plants. Seriously, if the cat wants to eat the plants, I’ve never been able to stop them. You can try putting the plant somewhere else. However, eating some greens is normal behavior for cats, so you’re fighting instinct and WILL NOT win. Plus, vinegar I think will kill the plants?

      I would vote for indoor only cat, but that will depend greatly on the cat.

    8. Lizcat*

      Double sided tape works wonders! Congratulations on your new family member! Both my cats chose me, too. :)

    9. Aphrodite*

      I would suggest getting a second cat, a kitten perhaps, so she has a playmate and companion. (And it’s really no extra trouble for you.) But it sounds like she is an alpha cat so you want to be sure the second cat/kitten is more submissive. And if you do this, get it soon. The shelter where you got your current cat can probably help you best.

      I ended up losing a sofa and loveseat (that were probably due to go anyway) to scratches under one arm of each before I bought the “Pioneer Pet SmartCat The Ultimate Scratching Post” at Amazon. It took a few days but it works. They don’t bother my sofas now.

      Please keep her solely as an indoor pet. I think it’s going to not just encourage her to whine at you to go out on a leash but it may also encourage her to try and sneak out. There’s just too many dangers out there.

      Fresh catnip and wheat grass is usually a hit. But you should make sure your plants you have are okay for cats to ingest. There are so many toxic ones; you can search them by looking at the ASPCA’s plants toxic to cats list. Boston ferms are friendly to cats tasting but, alas, my cats like them too. I really don’t know what to do because I love the idea of having those ferns but I dislike the cats chewing them and even worse the piles of vomit when they do.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Well, getting a second cat involves extra expense and not all cats want a playmate – they did this study over here where they found cats who lived in pairs often split their territory up in shifts.

        I say this because I have a very happy only cat (he likes humans, he does not like other cats) and it’s not that helpful if “get another cat” is treated as the answer to everything.

        1. Natalie*

          Indeed, our cat haaaaates other cats and will bully them. She tolerates the dog, but I imagine she understands he is not another cat. And she has lots of places to hang that he can’t get to.

    10. Currently Nameless*

      Congrats! I recently bought my first new sofa in 30 years shortly after adopting a 4th cat (this one a kitten). Most of my cats didn’t scratch furniture much but 30 years of not much adds up! The new sofa is fabric and I bought a product called Furniture Defender from Amazon. Basically heavy clear vinyl sheets held on with screw pins. Practically invisible. I have a large one on the exposed end they were testing out. I have rearranged exposing the other end so I need to put on the other one I bought pretty much now!

    11. Allie Oops*

      My older cat loves leash walks, and it hasn’t made her more inclined to pine for the outdoors. She knows which side her bread is buttered, you know? You just have to take the right precautions, like keeping up on her flea/tick meds and making sure you keep her off hot pavement or any spills (car oil, sidewalk de-icer, etc.) to protect her paws.

      If you’re concerned about your cat being too eager to go out, train her by keeping a container of treats near the door and tossing one as you enter the house. Make sure it goes pretty far, not just a few feet. This will teach her to run away from an opening door.

    12. Minta*

      Congratulations on the new cat. She sounds like a great match. As for the new couch in your future, look for one that is upholstered in a microfiber fabric. Cats can’t get their claws into it as easily (if at all). We had to make getting that type of fabric a priority for all our recent furniture purchases because we’re a cat-having-household (even though it wasn’t our first choice of couch covers).

      Obviously, still teaching her to scratch only approved devices is extremely important, but doing do and following through is difficult. Also, we were sick of having couches with tape on them and stuff. Best wishes!

    13. Saturnalia*

      Plantwise, having a large indoor catnip planter made it so they stopped caring about all the other houseplants.

      In general, I’ve found that cats don’t do “no” as easily as they’ll do “this instead”. If they’re doing a behavior you don’t like, use whatever you want the “no” cue to be (I snap), and then immediately redirect and distract.

    14. Bryce*

      Scratch pads are relatively cheap, put another one by where she likes to scratch. It’s a lot easier to train cats not to do something if they have an alternative right there.

  45. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    1) My jaw feels stiff and I don’t know if it’s stress-related. (tiny popping noises, jaw feels pressure). I wear my nightguard every night, and it feels like stiff sore muscles. How do I get rid of this? Any nutrition/vitamins stuff I can do?

    2) I was outside walking to a farmers’ market when I nearly cried tears of happiness…even though my jaw was unbearably achy and somehow I had to pay even more 2015 taxes (UGH), I didn’t have my narcissist mom actively emotionally abusing me, and it was and is so very, very peaceful.

    3) My dad texted me out of the blue wanting to meet up for lunch tomorrow like nothing ever happened. He’s my mom’s enabler and he’s going to convince me her abuse never happened (her public meltdown, her screaming, her email 30 line long rants that she feared for my future with SO and that my taste in men was awful). She broke me and I couldn’t take any more and I went no contact (while SO studies for a professional exam and got a new job and a masters). I deleted that text.

    4) If I get engaged sometime soon, how do I handle family members that are likely enablers that will see the charismatic side of nmom and get suckered in? (Like “you can’t not invite mom to the wedding, be a good girl, she doesn’t mean the bad stuff she says.”) Oh, yes she does, and no I am likely not inviting her if her current behavior is any indication. Invite them 1 month before the wedding? Keep quiet my engagement till then? Or announce publicly on facebook? What have others done?

    1. neverjaunty*

      Those family members are not “suckered”. If they were really fooled, they would not pressure you – they would just be confused why you didn’t want to be around her. Make no mistake, they are CHOOSING to enable her abuse.

    2. Canadian Natasha*

      Good for you that you set those boundaries with your abusive family! It’s really difficult to get up the courage to take that step. :)
      I’d recommend the Captain Awkward site for good scripts for your extended family: captainawkward(dot)com
      Also, if/when you do get engaged, could your SO to be the go-between for your side of the family? That way they could shield you from the manipulative nagging and those family members wouldn’t be quite as likely/able to use the guilt tactics that they would with you. I mean actually having your SO take the phone calls or change the conversation topic when they bring it up so you don’t have to. (I totally stole this idea from previous captain awkward posts)

      I’m afraid the only thing I know for teeth grinding/clenching is to practice being aware. I do it when I’m stressed and if I notice I’m clenching I’ll stop and say to myself, ” Ok Canadian Natasha, you’re feeling stressed. What’s up?” And I try to see what else in my life I can adjust to reduce my stress. Somehow just recognizing the message my body is sending me helps me to stop.

    3. only acting normal*

      Well I sort-of-eloped (i.e. married locally, with only 6 sworn-to-secrecy friends invited), so that’s the nuclear option for avoiding family drama. I highly recommend it if a micro wedding is your thing, it was bloody lovely. Our mothers never properly forgave us, but… hey better that than drama on our day.

      If you go for a bigger wedding, and choose not to invite her, be resolute – do not listen to the ill-informed guilt trips. Repeat DO NOT LISTEN. DNL. DO NOT LISTEN. DNL. DNL. DNFL.

    4. Zathras*

      I can’t offer much besides hugs and sympathy for the family issues, but as far as the jaw soreness goes, have you tried asking your dentist? I wear a nightguard too and my dentist is always asking me if I have sore jaw muscles when I wake up. I don’t, but I’ve always assumed if I told them “yes” there would be something they might do to help. So that might be one place to start.

      You could be clenching your jaw more at night or even in the day due to stress – I noticed I stopped chewing through nightguards as fast after I finished grad school and my stress level dropped.

      1. What's in a name*

        The night guard might need adjusting. I get mine done/checked if I get soreness or have dental work done. If the guard is fairly new it will need adjusting.

    5. Kate in Scotland*

      If you ever get a massage, they can help with the tight jaw, or you can look up how to self-massage it online.

    6. Stellaaaaa*

      I’ve trained myself to stop clenching my jaw because, oddly, it was positioning my face in a way that was causing deep nose-to-mouth lines. You really just have to get used to remembering to keep your teeth apart. It’s like correcting your posture. Eventually muscle memory takes over.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      You just had some dental work done? My chiro always asks if I have been to the dentist. Our jaws can get misaligned while the dentist works on the teeth. If you decide to check into this, when you call for an appointment ask if the chiro has any experience with jaw alignment. Putting the jaw back is fairly simple and relatively painless.

      I’d vote for handling your wedding any way you chose and let others sort themselves out on their own. It’s really none of their concern who goes to your wedding or not. I did not invite my mother to my wedding, her condition at that point was TERRIBLE. And there were still people who gave me the hairy eyeball. I said that they would have to figure it out on their own. My father waited until minutes before the wedding to let me know he was coming. That was not cool, but a wedding is just a day, that is all it is.
      We can get so focused on wedding planning and the day of the wedding that we can attach too much significance to it. What is actually important is the relationship the couple have. And it’s important for each member of the couple to set boundaries with their family. This looks like, “This person will be my spouse. I expect you to treat them in a civil manner.” This is part of the nuts and bolts of a relationship. The color of the flowers in the bouquets? not so much. (Yes, I watched a family member melt down because I was not preoccupied with the colors of the flowers. Am shaking my head.)

    8. Trixie*

      I found lots of hip opening yoga stretches helped when my jaw was tight and popping. If hips are tight, you can find some reclining options so you’re laying on your back. (Not weight bearing.)

      1. GirlwithaPearl*

        Cosigning this as a lifelong tight-jaw person! Google or YouTube “gentle hip openers” and see what looks appealing.

        Also a gentle chiropractor if you don’t use one has done wonders for my jaw. I stated with ENTs since earaches are a result of mine but they only wanted to prescribe me muscle relaxers which I was not interested in.

    9. Red*

      As far as 4 goes, what worked for me what to simply say “I’ll think about it”. It shuts down that part of the conversation because that’s what they wanted, but it’s non-committal in that you can sit there and think about how there’s no way in hell you’d do what they suggested. Perfect solution, in my book. 0% conflict, 100% results.

      1. Bibliovore*

        Not inviting the mother. Best decision I ever made. My answer to any inquiry. That’s not going to work for me. No excuses no explainations. Thirty years later….I can look back and enjoy the memory. I have no pleasant recollections of any holiday, any occaision, or childhood. My life really began when my mother was not part of it.

    10. ginger ale for all*

      There is a subreddit called JNMIL (just no mother in law – it includes moms too) that you might find helpful. There are people in your boat there and you can read about their experiences and choices and get feedback from people who have your experiences.

    11. Observer*

      No advice on the rest of this, but two thoughts:

      If you are reacting THIS strongly to not having your mother around, it’s a sign that she’s pretty toxic.

      Don’t make any decisions about your mother and wedding plans at this point. But, one thing you should resolve on, not just for possible wedding plans, is to ignore anyone who says “She doesn’t means the bad stuff she says.” Ignore them, and don’t get into a discussion. The ONLY thing you should say is “It does not matter. She says it and won’t stop, and THAT is what matters.” Lather, rinse, repeat.

    12. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      Update: while SO and i were out, parents dropped by unannounced leaving gifts at the door. Luckily, SO and I were away. I hate surprises. Also, does this constitute hoovering? (Gifts so scapegoat falls into line?)

      I drafted a terse thank you letter, we signed both our names, reinforced boundaries (Aka emotional abuse isn’t tolerated and any more means no invites to wedding/grandkids). We’re mailing it late next week so if parents raise a stink, we’ll be far away on vacation. Also, the apt access list only lists me and SO and not parents at all. Anything I can do to feel safer? Hmmmm :/

        1. Carmen Sandiego JD*

          The apt lobby was unstaffed (weekend) which means they followed other dwellers in. But they can’t get into my actual apt bc I have the key, SO has the spare, and I only granted SO permission to enter if I’m absent. No one else.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Maybe they will increase staffing in the future. But management could remind people not to let others in the building when they walk in. Giving residents a script might help. “I am sorry, I can’t let you in. You have to be buzzed in by someone who lives here.”

            1. Red*

              This is what my landlord did when I had a similar problem. We now have signs posted at both entrances reminding people to not prop doors open or let strangers in. If people without keys want to get in, they can go around to the buzzer and ask for it like they’re supposed to!

              1. Carmen Sandiego JD*

                Thanks–I sent building maintenance a security request/for your information stuff. Hopefully that’ll get taken care of soon!

  46. neverjaunty*

    I finally couldn’t stand the peer pressure anymore and got an Instant Pot. Right now I’m waiting for it to cook a beef stew. Anyone else have an Instant Pot and is *past* the honeymoon/fanatic stage who can recommend a good site for recipes?

    1. fposte*

      I’ve suddenly had a ton of people talk about these (the peer pressure you refer to); can you tell me what difference it’s made in your cooking? The thing for me is I already make a metric ton of soups and stews and don’t find the cooking time to be an issue. Are there other advantages I might find?

      1. neverjaunty*

        I can tell you in about half an hour ;)

        I’m expecting it to substitute for a lot of things I would otherwise make in a slow cooker, which I barely use because of the cooking time. I am also intrigued by the keep-warm feature, and also it seems you can cook beans in it without soaking.

          1. neverjaunty*

            Cautiously optimistic! I made a very basic “dump everything in” version (didn’t brown the beef) and it came out quiet well. It doesn’t have that sweet caramel-ish flavor you tend to get with a slow cooker.

            1. overeducated*

              Tip: the instant pot saute feature is fairly high heat, you can quickly brown the meat in it and then throw the other stuff in with it still on, and that “preheating” reduces time to pressure a tiny bit.

                1. Overeducated*

                  Fair enough! :) I just didn’t realize that it would be effective at first so I I avoided browning, thinking I’d have to dirty a pan on the stovetop.

      2. Katie the Fed*

        I cook a lot of beans, and the instant pot is a godsend for them. From dried to cooked in 35 or so minutes.

    2. Cruciatus*

      My mom doesn’t understand why I bought an Instant Pot–“but why does the food need to be cooked quickly?” And she has a point. Most of the time it doesn’t need to be so quick. She has, however, liked everything I made in it so far! Some soups, baby back ribs, and the hard boiled eggs were the best hard boiled (hard pressure cooked?) eggs I’ve ever had. The shells came off perfectly (our flat burner stove is just not quick or consistent with boiling).

      I bought a recipe book for my Instant Pot since I still like things with pages, but even the ones I’ve found on the internet–as long as I can read reviews–have come out well. One site I did use you can find by googling 33 Instant Pot Recipes at pressurecookrecipes dot come. I did the ribs there. The mac and cheese looks to die for so that will happen one day. Some are ones I’d never do, but it’s literally the first site I found and seemed OK. Just look for ratings and reviews to recipes and you should be fine no matter where you go on the internet!

      1. Melody Pond*

        Yes! The Instant Pot is magical for hard cooked eggs!

        I also find that the Instant Pot is ideal for quinoa and brown rice. Not only does it not burn these grains, but they don’t even stick to the bottom!

        I also love it for cooking whole chickens, then pulling that chicken off the bones for shredded chicken, and then taking all the skin, bones, cartilage, etc., and pressure cooking it on high with a bunch of water for 120 minutes. It makes for great stock/broth.

        Aaaand, it also makes short work of just about any veggie out there. It’s especially good for making mashed yams or potatoes, because I don’t have to cut up the potatoes into crazy small pieces – I can leave them in fairly large chunks, and they’ll still cook way faster than they ever would on a stovetop.

    3. Stellaaaaa*

      Haha someone just gave my mom one of those. So far she’s mostly using it to steam potatoes and carrots to make them soft. Apparently it’s saving her more time than expected.

    4. Vancouver Reader*

      If you’re on FB, there’s an Instant Pot community that you can join and they always post tons of recipes and links to sites that have recipes. Lots of people seem to like this old gal website, I like pressurecookrecipes because they have a lot of asian recipes.

  47. Sylvan (Sylvia)*

    I am having these headaches that start as tension headaches, but radiate into my jaw and teeth. WTF?

    1. fposte*

      Jaw and teeth are in your head :-). More seriously, it might well be that you’re grinding or clenching your teeth, or that you’ve got tooth problems that are getting exacerbated; wouldn’t hurt to check with a dentist.

      1. Never Nicky*

        Clenching my teeth was the cause of my tension headaches. My dentist fitted a mouth guard to reduce the pressure and the headaches went.

      2. WriterLady*

        This. I have a jaw that clicks in and out of place (it drives me up the wall) and when it gets locked into a position where I inadvertently end up grinding my teeth, the headaches are enormous. Last week, actually, it was doing that, and I couldn’t eat anything without my left molars scraping together. Headache ensued.

    2. Betty Cooper*

      It could also be sinus related. Does the headache feel like pressure at all, or just pain?

        1. Betty Cooper*

          Try taking a decongestant with some Advil the next time you start to get a headache and see if it helps at all.

        2. It's me*

          I second that it’s sinus headaches. I don’t know where you live but Maximum Strength Sinutab has always worked the best for me. You wouldn’t believe that a headache could affect your teeth but it does because of the way everything is connected. ( although I am a huge proponent of Advil it just doesn’t work for sinus issues. ) Best of luck. Sorry for typos my cat is on my chest and driving me insane.

    3. Stellaaaaa*

      Around the time I was 29 I started getting huge headaches whenever the weather shifted dramatically. Coincidentally, that was the year of Polar Vortex so who knows if that was some kind of onset thing. It came on pretty suddenly though and now it’s predictable that I’ll always get a headache before a rainstorm or a cold spell. Maybe try keeping track of your headaches and see if they line up with weather changes? I always take Aleve if I know it’s going to rain later.

    4. Anono-me*

      Please ask about TMI at your next medical appointment. If you have a TMJ problem, please ask about a bite plate for treatment.

      Good luck.

  48. Merci Dee*

    So, 2 months in the new house, and my A/C craps out today.

    Positive: my agent always includes a provision for a home warranty in her contract, so I have a good policy through Old Republic. I’ll only have to pay $100, whether they repair or totally replace the air unit.

    Negative: it’s August in Alabama, so I’m not thrilled about going without air conditioning for several days. I checked the weather, though, and we’re only forecast for mid-80s all week long. If we hang close to that, it’ll be okay.

    Here’s hoping i get a call from the contractors before Monday!

    1. atexit8*

      You may want to look into warranty through your electric company.
      We have PSEG, and my neighbor bought their warranty for the furnace and A/C and I am not sure what else.

    2. Mrs. Fenris*

      Ugh, I’m in Georgia and I feel your pain. Fenris and I own a small window AC unit for emergencies like this; if it’s in the budget it may be really handy every now and then. Good luck, I hope you get it fixed soon.

      1. Merci Dee*

        Suddenly, I’m thinking a trip to Lowe’s to check out portable ACs might be a good idea. At least something to keep the room we’re in cooler than 85 degrees. Though last night wasn’t as hellish as it could’ve been. The house has an attic fan (thank goodness), and it draws like crazy. Had to get up during the night to turn it off.

  49. WG*

    After debating for months, I finally replaced my six year old iPad with a Surface. Any Surface users have tips or tricks or things you wish you’d known when you first had your Surface? My work computer is a PC, so I’m already well versed in Windows.

    1. Temperance*

      I use a Surface for work, and I really like it. My favorite feature is using as a tablet with a pen.

      1. WG*

        What types of things do you use the pen for? Meeting notes, sticky note reminders, or other things? i bought the pen, but not sure the best things to use that for opposed to the keyboard. Especially since the keyboard cover I bought doesn’t have a pen holder.

    2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      We just got them for work too and while I had a touchscreen laptop already, the Surface is GREAT.

      I think the biggest adjustments have been:

      a) they keyboard will be smaller and responsive in a different way. Also be aware when you pick it up that the keyboard doesnt detach and go flying off across the room
      b) the power connector cord is unlike ANYTHING else you may have laying around the house – do not lose that thing!
      c) I wish I could figure out OneNote better

      Its a well designed piece of machinery and very intuitive, Ive been considering buying one for home as well. Its so light to throw in my backpack and I love that I can tablet or laptop with it. The one thing is that the power isnt quite enough and I like a larger screen of a laptop but overall I cant say its been a huge shift.

    3. NPG*

      Oooooh. Which Surface? I have wanted one for years but budget is just too skimpy for a treat like that.

      1. WG*

        Surface Pro with the i7 processor. I’d been using an iPad2 for almost six years and it needed to be replaced. While there were some things I liked about the iPad, the Surface should make it easier to use for that thing we don’t talk about on weekends. Not being able to multitask or easily use MS Office, Java or Flash were drawbacks to the iPad. The Surface was a bit more in cost than the iPad for similar memory, but I’m hoping the extra functionality is worth it.

        Most importantly, Safari kept crashing and reloading more and more often. And that just wasn’t acceptable when reading AAM!

        1. DBG*

          Yeah, my iPad 2 is doing a lot of that as well. Like I said, I’d like to replace it but budget is too tight. Thinking about a 8″ tablet with Windows on it – they make a couple of those and the price is so much more reasonable than iPads are, even after shopping refurbished. The ability to use Word/Excel/Email is so much better, esp. since I’m already paying $10/m for Office 365 and five devices.
          Hope you enjoy it!

    4. Maya Elena*

      It is a tablet and NOT a tablet.
      You can view Facebook in-browser and not through the app.
      Charges really fast.
      Instantly recognized out HP printer/scanner, makingit easy to scan things in.

      The start button isn’t there, and I still haven’t gotten the hang of their apps.
      And it comes pre-installed with weird Skype that requires an MSN ID, so you need to download proper Skype separately.

  50. Laura*

    Okay, need some help making a decision. On 8/14, Rifftrax Live (don’t have time to explain what that is) will be riffing a “classic” “Doctor Who” episode called “The Five Doctors”. My problem is that I’m not a “Doctor Who” watcher. I’ve never watched one episode of that show. So, it doesn’t make sense to me to spend money on a show where I’m not going to understand either the jokes or even that episode. I’ve been thinking about skipping it.

    If I do skip this one, it will be the first one ever. I’ve seen just about every single show they’ve had (their first few weren’t shown at my local theater at that time). What do I do?

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      What will be more aggravating: not understanding the show, or the feelings of FOMO if you miss it? Pick the least irksome?

    2. overeducated*

      I’d read up on the show and episode on Wikipedia to have the basic level of context to enjoy it and go.

    3. Librarian from Space*

      I say go anyway. I’m a huge Rifftrax fan also, and I have been to lots of Rifftrax Live shows too. I don’t think you have to have seen Dr. Who to enjoy it – just being part of that audience will be a blast. Plus, nothing you watch will ever make LESS sense than the plot of Birdemic.

    4. periwinkle*


      That is all. I mean, it’s Rifftrax. There may be some in-jokes that will only make sense if you’re a Doctor Who fan but most riffs will be situational, topical, or just plain weird.

      After all, I loved “Perc, Pop, & Sprinkle” even though I’m generally ignorant about children’s fitness, toaster movements, and llama milk.

    5. Foreign Octopus*

      As a lifelong Whovian, here are the things you need to know.

      1. The Doctor is a very old alien who has the ability to change his body when he dies.
      2. He travels through time and space in a blue police box from the 1960s called the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space).
      3. He travels through time and space with a pretty, young girl who is typically from London.
      4. He’s eccentric and will possibly offer you a jelly baby in times of stress.
      5. Logic needs to be left at the door.

      You don’t need much more to understand the basics of Doctor Who. With regards to “The Five Doctors” as well – that episode is off the wall anyway. It was an anniversary special and made to celebrate the series so it’s very silly but a good laugh.

      I say go, eat some popcorn, and be bewildered by what the British found/find entertaining.

    6. Sam Foster*

      Echoing what others have said. Wikipedia or equivalent the basics of the show and then read a synopsis of the The Five Doctors and you’ll be fine. The in show continuity and canon is pretty *ahem* “loose” so even if they make a joke many attendees won’t know what is going. A real world example: I’ve watched most of the 3rd doctor through the now 12th doctor and I have a very different experience than my girlfriend who started watching with the 9th, but, it in no way diminishes her experience, it simply enriches mine (callbacks to previous episodes, references to previous companions (think co-stars), etc.)

      TL;DR: Do a little research and then go.

      1. Laura*

        Wow. Had no clue there so many fans here! I did check out Wikipedia and I do have some understanding of the show already (the show itself just never appealed to me). So I’ll take everything you guys have said into account and go from. But I’ll probably end up going. I haven’t missed a show yet and don’t want to start now!

    7. Bryce*

      Man, I may need to catch that. I’ve only seen one Rifftrax Live, for Starship Troopers. It was my first time seeing the movie and it was an absolutely incredible experience.

  51. katamia*

    (mentions grad school but is non-work-related)

    Ugh. I’m usually really good at dealing with uncertain situations, but my impending move for grad school next month is killing me, and I’m starting to wonder if I’m going at all. I can’t get documentation I need to even apply for my visa (no idea what the holdup is, as they’ve confirmed the problem is not on my end), and I’m planning to leave (bought a refundable plane ticket yesterday) in 6 weeks, which is later than I wanted to leave–I wanted more time to settle in beforehand.

    In addition to being way past the time when I wanted to have applied for my visa with no knowledge of when I’ll get what I need, I also found out yesterday I’m probably not going to get a room in the dorm (which I didn’t want anyway, but I wanted it as a backup), and wow is finding housing overseas in a city with a deep housing crunch rough. I’m not even sure if anyone will rent to me before I have a visa.

    Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand by the end of the month I need to pay several thousand more dollars in tuition, but my credit card limit isn’t high enough, so I’ll have to pay part of it, pay that off, and then pay the rest. Which would be a huge pain and not something I can wait until the last day of the month to do, since they’d have to process my first payment.

    So when do I call it? When do I sit back and say, “Nope, this just isn’t happening this year”? How long would you wait in my situation, bearing in mind that I could wake up to having the necessary documentation in my email on Monday or it could take another 2 or 3 weeks or never show up at all?

    1. katamia*

      (So people won’t focus on this, I have enough money for the credit card bit and it won’t cause financial difficulties, but I can’t want to spend all that money on tuition for a program I’m not going to go to.)

        1. katamia*

          Maybe. I’ve been so consumed with trying to figure out whether or not I’m going that I haven’t really thought about it much. The “pay as much as possible, pay that off, and then pay the rest” approach has always been what I’ve done in the past. (As in, I pay it all off in full each month–no interest.)

    2. Stellaaaaa*

      Does your grad program have any online components that you can get out of the way if you decide to wait until next semester to move?

      1. katamia*

        Nope. It’s fully in person. The possibilities are 1) I get the visa in time and go or 2) I stay where I am until fall 2018 (and maybe see if I can work out some sort of deferment with the university I already said I was attending).

        1. JaneB*

          In the U.K., working in University sector – deferments on masters enrolments due to travel/visa issues/getting everything together (money, housing, spousal relocations etc) are really common! So it’s very likely there’s a process in place for that at least…

          1. katamia*

            Thanks! That’s really good to know. I like the program and wasn’t looking forward to reapplying/applying to other schools if this didn’t work out. I didn’t realize it was so common for visa issues to push things back.

    3. Caledonia*

      We are still issuing visa’s right up to the start of Sept. We have a team esp for immigration and visa’s – does yours? Call them. I dont know how postgrad works though – I work with undergrads.

      In Scotland you can’t rent a place without seeing it in person and it has to be the person renting it but I think in England you can. Not sure about Wales. You should also contact the accommodation people and see if they can recommend somewhere for you to rent. Worse case scenario is air b n b maybe whilst you get sorted.

      1. katamia*

        Yeah, my university has a team/department/at least a specific email address for visa and immigration stuff, and I’ve contacted them several times. And yikes–I’m hoping you’re right that England lets you rent a place without going there in person because otherwise I’m in even more trouble than I already was, lol. I’m emailing the accommodation people tonight, and the school’s also got a list of letting agents, so I’m going to try to email a few of them, too, to see if they work with international students.

  52. AlaskaKT*

    Has anyone else had medical issues sneak up on you? How did you handle it?

    My aunt and I both have EDS (and are being tested for MS, yippie) and we were having a b*tch fest on the phone about it. During the call she asked me when the last time I could feel my feet was and lo and behold, I have ZERO feeling from my toes to the arch on my left foot, and some of the toes on my right foot. I’m just reeling. Usually I’m so in tune with my body and now that I know there’s no feeling it’s almost like I can feel the invisibility(?) of my toes. Obviously my next step is to mention it to a doctor, but I’m waiting for insurance to kick in so it might be a while.

    I mostly just want to tell “what the heck guys?!” at my feet now for ghosting me. End rant.

    1. Red*

      I just was informed I have as-yet-undefined thyroid issue after finding out I had RA, and I handled it by complaining bitterly and loudly until I got all my frustration out. Therapists are great for that. It doesn’t have to be a long term thing or a diagnosable mental health issue to have a few sessions, and my local university has grad students working as therapists for very reduced rates. I highly recommend looking into that!

      That, or actually go and yell at your feet. I yelled at my body some. It was nice.

    2. Jules the First*

      Badly. I went blind in one eye (thankfully temporarily) in the spring without noticing (I have funky eyes anyway, so my doc reassured me that not noticing is totally normal for people like me, but…) and it freaked me out completely.

      I now have a little routine first thing in the morning where I actively touch base with each part of my body to make sure it’s in working order, kind of like preflight checks. It’s probably overkill, but it makes me feel better, and that’s what counts, right?

  53. Recommendation Needed*

    I’ve heard a lot about Dave Ramsey financial planning/debt freedom (not sure how to refer to it) and would like to get one of his books. There seems to be so much choice so I’m hoping someone has experience of the books and which would be best for me.

    I’m mid 20s (live in the UK). Have a good paying job and no mortgage. My debts are all credit card debt of about £3500 and an interest free overdraft of £2000. I want to get smarter about my money, budget better, and pay down my debts much quicker than I currently am!

    1. rj*

      I haven’t read him. I do follow some personal finance blogs. If you like the looks of Dave Ramsey, you might try Mr Money Moustache. I like the Frugalwoods better, because their tone is more in line with me. Both are free!

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      I think Dave Ramsey has some helpful advice, but that it’s best to have some general financial literacy first because some of it needs to be taken with a pinch of salt – for example he will advise focusing on factors other than interest rates when deciding what debts to pay first but that’s not necessarily wise as rates vary a lot.

      If you want help doing a budget you could call Stepchange (Google them!) for free advice – they helped me work out a budget and emailed it to me. Money Saving Expert is good too. Dave Ramsey has some useful tips but I would start with the basics first – though YMMV.

    3. Ramona Flowers*

      Also, if you have a decent credit rating your best bet may be to swap the credit card debt for a fixed rate personal loan. However you should get proper advice before making decisions.

    4. self employed*

      He’s really good if you’re ready to rip off the bandaid quickly, and the people who buy in and commit are usually successful. I’ve seen people working extra jobs and paying off loans way early as a result of his plan. You can listen to his radio show as a podcast to get a feel for his “baby steps” (or search online for that term and his name). Whatever you choose, decide on a plan, commit to it, see it through. Best of luck!

    5. Melody Pond*

      I got started on Dave Ramsey, but I don’t care for some of his more conservative values that seem to be infused into some of his lessons – at least, with the older lessons I’ve seen.

      I think Dave Ramsey is great for motivating people – he’s good at the whole “kick in the pants” to get moving type of thing. And I really like his “baby steps” which are a basic summary of his entire program.

      My advice – Dave Ramsey is a great place to start, but then I’d follow it up by reading Elizabeth Warren’s book, “All Your Worth”. There’s a lot of overlap, except Elizabeth Warren is a little kinder/more forgiving in some areas. But she doesn’t have anything akin to the “baby steps” summarizing her book, so what I wound up doing is coming up with my own version of the baby steps, basically tweaking them to follow some of Elizabeth Warren’s advice – such as the whole 50/30/20 rule.

    6. Seren*

      Check into using YNAB for building a budget! I’ve used it for 1.5 years and the results have been amazing-paid 15K on my debts so far with a 38K salary. I highly recommend YNAB, it works no matter if your income is biweekly/totally random/whatever, and I found out about it here on AAM.

    7. Temperance*

      I’m not a Ramsey fan. He’s fine if you’re in a really bad financial spot, but I don’t think his advice is good for a person with minimal debt who wants to budget and do better. Suze Orman might be better for what you’re looking for.

    8. Katie the Fed*

      Dave Ramsey is really like AA for debt. His getting-out-of-debt advice is really good. His investment and financial planning advice is not.

      I would look into the Boggleheads for investment advice.

    9. ginger ale for all*

      I listen to Dave Ramsey and I enjoy him but he does have conservative values that he pushes along with the financial advice. One thing that is in his favor over others is that he has classes in communities across America so if you want to go through this with a group of people, his classes would be a good choice.

  54. Purple snowdrop*

    Ooooh the comment above has reminded me that I need to find an independent financial advisor. I’m in north east of England. Any recommendations, or suggestions of how to find one? None of my friends can recommend anyone :(

    1. fposte*

      Regulation might make things very different in the UK than the US on this, but in the U.S. you generally want to avoid people who make commissions on you, and you want to know what you’re doing before you let people manage your money for a percentage. (The irony is that once you know enough to choose somebody to manage your money, you can do it yourself.) So ideally what you’re looking for is somebody who’s a fee-only adviser.

      What specific questions do you have? We might be able to help some or direct you more specifically.

    2. Caledonia*

      Can your bank help you out with this? Alternatively, try CAB/women’s aid or your solicitor if you have one.

    3. Purple snowdrop*

      I need help untangling my pensions and figuring out whether I can take on a bigger pension.

      Thanks for the link fposte I’ll check it out.

      I’d wondered about CAB too. A few things to check out I guess. Thanks guys.

      1. JaneB*

        Or look for IFA accreditation – there is a professional org for independent financial advisors with appropriate lists, that’s how I found one in the NE of England & im happy with them so far…

  55. Fionaaa*

    For those of you who have cheated/been cheated on, what made you keep fighting for your marriage? Or what made you decide to call it quits? Did you give yourself a “timeline”.

    Details in the comments if you’d like.

    1. Fionaaa*

      “Sue” cheated on her husband. In a nutshell, her husband basically became her roommate, was never home, was obsessed with his iPhone/the Internet, etc. and she communicated her needs to him over the course of several years but things didn’t change. The biggist blow to her was when Sue was severely ill multiple times and her husband wasn’t there for her physically or emotionally.

      Sue told me she was hanging out with “Joe” more and more. They’ve been friends for many years but over the course of a year, they got closer and closer. Joe’s marriage had been falling apart for almost a decade. Ultimately, her and Joe had an affair. Joe’s wife found out and told Sue’s husband. Joe and his wife decide to divorce. Joe tells Sue he wants to be with her. Sue actually feels the same, but wants to work on her marriage. They decide to try and never see each other again.

      Sue’s husband…didn’t care. They’ve been going to therapy and even their therapist said that his reaction (or lack there of) was not normal. “Bob” said that he was hurt, but had been thinking of cheating on Sue too. He travels a lot and was hoping that it would just happen randomly during his travels.

      Sue wants to give her marriage a chance, but Bob shows up late or doesn’t go to their couple’s therapy at all. Sue feels she is doing everything their therapist tells her to do (communicate your needs, give positive feedback, do sensual things together, etc.) and Bob doesn’t.

      Sue vents to me and I listen. The only thing I’ve said is I want her to be happy.

      Between us, anonymous internet friends, I don’t think this will end well. I see Sue give 100% and she is fighting so hard for her marriage but Bob doesn’t seem to care. Sometimes I think, is Bob so hurt that he has emotionally and physically shut down? Is Sue wasting her time if Bob has “checked out”?

      I have just been a shoulder to cry on. I’ll leave the advice giving to their therapist, but seeing Sue go through this has made me wonder what others have done in this situation. Insert huge sad face.

      1. rj*

        i’ve only seen this from the outside – and the only situation where it is working is one where both had extensive therapy as individuals and as a couple. And where their pastor was the first person to give them help (that mostly told them to get therapy, but since he was a person they both really liked and trusted, it was advice that they could follow). Basically both people have to be putting in 100% every day. And even then I know for them sometimes it’s still hard, but they are fighting on the same team.

      2. Stellaaaaa*

        Sue cheated on her husband. It’s my opinion that she’s not really in a position to pressure her husband to work on their marriage. She’s the one who ruined it. Sometimes you do things that you can’t take back. It’s not Bob’s responsibility to forgive Sue or to make her feel like she isn’t on the wrong side of morality on this count. She might just have to live with her actions. To be frank, if I were Bob I wouldn’t care either.

        I’m not a fan of logic along the lines of “Bob was an absent husband, and it’s therefore his fault that Sue cheated.” Sorry, but my reaction is to say be a better person and end your marriage before you start sleeping with other people. Don’t blame other people for your own bad actions, or try to use that as leverage for why you’re owed forgiveness. Bob should not be guilted into staying in a relationship that he doesn’t want to be in. I feel like if the genders were reversed and a woman said she was being pressured to stay married to her cheating husband, the right course wouldn’t even be in question.

        1. It's me*


          She’s also on Twitter and Facebook and she’s written at least one book. There is just so much I could say on this topic and I’m just a little too tired right now. Read through some of her posts in on some of the replies. She really really really helped me. Good luck.

          1. It's me*

            Lessonsfromtheendofamarriage.com, not
            Although sometimes they certainly do feel like lesions

        2. Fionaaa*

          I 100% agree. Bob is not at fault and Bob did not deserve this. Further, if things are not working out, end it. Just end it! And then you can both do whatever the f you want.

          I warned Sue not to get too close to Joe (two adults of the opposite sex can work together add just be friends, AAMers have made that clear :]) once it was clear that there was some mutual attraction there. I told her, “Do not do this to Bob. Do not do this to your marriage.”

          Sorry, I definitely wanted to add somewhere in my first post that Sue’s “reasons” weren’t an excuse! If Sue was that unhappy, I wish she had just gotten a divorce. Thankfully no kids are involved in either party.

        3. TL -*

          I don’t think Sue ruined her marriage – it sounds a whole hell of a lot like it was already in flames and ashes when she cheated.
          Doesn’t make her cheating okay, but it also sounds like Bob has no interest in being in the marriage and honestly, he sounds like he’s avoiding getting a divorce only because it’s easier on him to be married. I would bet money that Sue does a lot of the household and emotional labor for him, so by easier to be married, I don’t mean getting a divorce is hard, I mean Bob benefits a crapton from all the work that Sue does while having to invest relatively little in return.

          It’s unfair to say that Sue ruined something that sounds like it was well past ruined anyways. But it also sounds like Bob is too lazy to divorce someone he has no interest in being married to, and that Sue maybe needs to work on finding the backbone to leave – I bet some part of the cheating was that she assumed that Bob would either fix the problems or divorce her when he found out and she wanted to implode the marriage anyways. Not defending her cheating, but maybe the conversation you should be having is, “I don’t understand why you’re fighting to save a marriage that neither of you act like you want.”

          1. Fionaaa*

            Good points and good question to ask TL (and NDNR), thanks for the suggestion!

            Yeah, when I said Bob doesn’t care I meant that Bob didn’t even flinch when he found out Sue cheated. He basically said “meh” and shoulder shrugged. He stated at therapy that he was a little mad, but Sue told me she almost thought he was lying – just saying what he was supposed to say. It’s almost as if Bob is a robot. Unemotional and detached, but not willing to end the marriage or work on it. It’s strange, but I don’t know Bob that well; let alone what he’s feeling. I sympathize for all involved.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        For a marriage to work, both people have to care. If one cares and one does not care, then this is probably not going to work out. It really does not matter the reasons why one person does not care because the end result is the same: lack of participation.

        Relationships are a back and a forth. I always say that it is each party’s turn to give because that is what it works into for couples. One is always doing something which benefits the other. He shoveled, I did laundry. He cooked, I did dishes. We talked about his work issue, then we talked about my family issue. It’s a constant back and forth. All relationships require participation and marriages require constant participation.

        Sue wants to be with Joe but she wants to give her marriage another shot. This is a problem. While she maybe physically in her home with her husband, her mind and heart have moved on to Joe. And really, from her husband’s perspective there is no point to her husband trying. Sue’s mind and heart have made other plans.

        I would ask her questions like, “If you knew this would be the same ten years from now, what would you decide to do now?”

      4. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

        My parents had some marriage issues, and it was to the point where us (adult) kids were begging them to divorce. Their behavior was pretty bad. No cheating (as far as I know, and I don’t suspect it), but they were nasty humans.

        The only reason that they successfully completed therapy and are still married is because they were BOTH committed to putting in the work. Marriage is two people, and you can’t fix it if only one person is working at it.

      5. Observer*

        I don’t see this ending well. On the one hand, Bob doesn’t care. And it’s really not surprising. You say that Sue is “giving 100% and fighting so hard for her marriage”, but I don’t buy it. It sounds to me like Bob wasn’t the only partner who didn’t keep up his end of the relationship. He admitted that he was thinking of cheating – that generally means that he found the relationship wanting.

        Think about this. He admitted that he was thinking of cheating, but didn’t. Why hasn’t anyone asked WHY? Why was he thinking of cheating, and why did he not cheat? Doesn’t that matter? Also, although she’s the one who cheated, all of her steps to save the relationship are about HER – She’s asking for what SHE needs. She’s thanking him when he is nice to her – isn’t that baseline courtesy? Being sexy. Has she asked him what HE needs? Has she offered a single unsolicited compliment? Has she tried doing intimacy building things that are NOT about sex? Things that make him feel like she’s “there for him”, that make him feel known as a PERSON, not just a paycheck?

        Lastly, she really needs to think about what she really wants? She’s presenting a story that makes him the bad guy, she says she wants to be with Joe, all of her efforts seem to be about what SHE wants and needs in a relationship. So why is she doing this?

        1. Fionaaa*

          Honestly, I think Bob was just too lazy to cheat. Had the stars aligned and some woman approached him on his travels, grabbed him by the tie, and led him upstairs, I think it would have happened. But, at the end of the day he didn’t cheat.

          You do bring up a good point that Sue hasn’t mentioned Bob’s needs. Or why she’s doing this. I think I’m “afraid” of asking her why she is doing this. I really want to ask/tell her, why bother? You don’t want to be with Bob anymore, let Bob go. Maybe she feels like she can’t say she didn’t try?

          1. Observer*

            If that’s the reason she’s doing this, then it’s again all about her. Why SHOULD Bob put any effort in if all it is is an exercise in checking off boxes on some list in her head?

    2. Struggling Wife*

      This year, I found out my husband has been secretly using porn for our whole marriage (12 years). We are both Christian and in my opinion there is no difference between physically sleeping with another woman and masturbating to pictures/videos of other women – it’s still adultery.
      He is intensely remorseful, has found himself an accountability group of men and an accountability partner, has gotten me to install blocking software on his computer that only I have the password to and is committed to making our marriage work. While I am devastated and hurt, he is showing me through his words & actions how sorry he is and I am prepared to give our marriage another chance.

      1. Emma*

        Can you go to counseling?

        I’m a Christian and I’m fine with porn- I just don’t want my husband to hide it. To me there’s a big difference to using something to masturbate vs actually having a relationship/sex with a person, which may also be your husband’s view. But counseling might help you be able to see where each other is coming from.

        1. Observer*

          Why should she go to counseling for this – she has a legitimate point of view, and one that her husband knew about. That’s a breach of trust. Had he said to her at some point BEFORE he did this, “Hey I don’t agree about porn. How can we resolve this?” then MAYBE this would have been a case for counseling.

          1. TL -*

            Woah. So there’s a whole range of thoughts on how legitimate “porn=cheating” is. And most likely neither she nor her husband were taught good frameworks for having good communication around sex, especially if they were brought up in a very conservative Christian religion. The husband should have been honest but he probably had no idea how to even start. (And my guess is at the beginning of the marriage, he did honestly think he would never use porn again.)

            1. Observer*

              Sure, there is a whole range of thought on the morality of porn. That does not invalidate her position – much less make it something she needs to go to therapy about. Furthermore, whatever he may have thought at the beginning of their marriage, he knew her position when he started using it (again.) Her sense of betrayal is perfectly legitimate in this scenario. She’s not the one who needs therapy.

              1. TL -*

                I think couples therapy is a good idea. If he’s normally honest and they have a good relationship, why did he feel that he wasn’t able to share this with her? Maybe he thinks her reaction would be way, way bigger than he feels his porn use to be (she sees it as cheating; he sees it as relaxing self-care).
                Any which way, they clearly have *very* different views on porn and it sounds like their marriage is operating under the assumption that her view is the “right” view. Why is that? Neither of their positions are inherently wrong. Why is she entitled to dictate what he does with his private, alone time? Would it be more okay if he read erotica instead or only watched animated porn, so it wasn’t a real woman? Why did he lie to her about it, instead of talking it out at the beginning and saying, hey porn use is a normal thing but I promise you’ll never find evidence if it bugs you?

                All of that is worth talking about in counseling. Her expectations are not in line with society norms; he lied to her to hide something society considers very normal. Neither are right or wrong, but that’s a huge mismatch in values. A counselor would help get them on the same page.

              2. Emma*

                Yeah, I was more saying that they clearly need to talk. Couples counseling can help with that, since there’s a neutral third party to help. It sounds like you’re thinking more of individual therapy. Therapy may be able to help them communicate, since clearly this is an issue that they’re dealing with.

      2. Ugh*

        Or you could reconsider your extreme views on porn and ask whether it really is the same as adultery?

  56. Betty Cooper*

    So, lately everything in my Netflix recommendations is dark and depressing, and I really need a break from it. I’ve tried googling for lighthearted show ideas, but my problem is that I suffer from secondhand embarrassment. Watching shows like The Office or Parks and Recreation is super painful to me, since so much of the humor is rooted in embarrassing situations.

    Does anybody have a good show to recommend?

    1. WriterLady*

      Depends what you class as bleak. I’m always going to recommend an excellent period drama or two, but a fab Aussie export (I’m assuming you’re from the US? That’s probably a wrong assumption) is Offspring. It’s a dramedy and it is amazing. We’re up to Season 7 over here now, but I think Season 6 is on US Netflix as well. It’s definitely on there in some capacity.

        1. WriterLady*

          Word of warning if you do get into it: s1 is a bit clunky, but give it a chance. It shines in s2 and on from there, and s5 will break everyone’s heart (except not in a dire and depressing way, it’s just… emotional). There was uproar around the country when one episode aired.

    2. Stellaaaaa*

      Is Don’t Trust the B in Apt 23 still on Netflix? It’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.

      1. Stellaaaaa*

        I also think New Girl is worth watching if you aren’t already a fan. I really like the show’s depiction of 30s friendships.

        1. all aboard the anon train*

          I was going to recommend that, but if Betty Cooper has an issue with secondhand embarrassment, it might not be the best show. I have to mute or skip a lot of Jess’s scenes because I find them really embarrassing to watch, especially in the first two seasons.

          1. Stellaaaaa*

            I go back and forth on the Jess character. I like that her talent for her job never comes into question; it’s understood that she has a lot of quirks but she’s still basically a competent adult. I’d classify her behavior as more socially inappropriate than embarrassing. I have a really low tolerance for characters embarrassing themselves on TV (I have to change the channel when that happens) but Jess doesn’t ring that bell for me.

            Freaks and Geeks is another fave but it definitely embarrasses its characters too much.

            1. all aboard the anon train*

              I think for me it’s the socially inappropriate and trying too hard that make me unable to watch her. Which I know is more the writers trying to make her super quirky, but it’s the type of quirkiness that makes me cringe to watch, both on TV and in real life.

              It’s weird because I don’t have this problem with any of the other characters, so the only thing I can really pinpoint it on is the overly quirky. I know she’s the main character, but she’s probably my least favorite. I actually thought the show was fine without her for those episodes where she was gone.

    3. all aboard the anon train*

      That 70s Show is always in my rotation when I need a light-hearted sitcom.

      If you like musicals TV shows, Galavant is amazingly witty and charming. I can’t really think of any other comedies I watch that don’t have situation embarrassment since that seems to be the root of most comedies. (I’d usually recommend Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Brooklyn 99, and Arrested Development, but I don’t know if you’d be up for those).

      If you want more lighthearted dramas, I love Leverage and White Collar. They both can be a bit procedural at times and have Serious Storylines, but the character interactions make me genuinely happy and I adore the shows. Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries is another I’d add to that list. None of these shows are what I’d consider dark, but YMMV.

        1. all aboard the anon train*

          I keep hoping someone will pick up the rights and continue it. I think it’d fit perfectly with Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on the CW. Then it can be a block of witty trope subverting musical comedy.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Also, I ADORE Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. My sister turned me on to it; she liked Sex and the City a lot and I tried that too, but I can’t relate to those people at all. I can totally relate to Rebecca Bunch and her massive insecurity, though. :D

              1. all aboard the anon train*

                What I like most about CEG and Galavant is that they both subvert the traditional tropes of their genres. Also, Galavant has Tad Cooper who has to be one of the best parts of the show. I couldn’t stop laughing the first time I watched “My Dragon Pal and Me”. It was such an unexpected side story and I adore it.

                I’m just in love with everything both shows choose to be. Even all the secondary, minor characters are wonderful.

    4. Allie Oops*

      Are we the same person? I live in a perpetual state of fremdschämen. My spouse adores shows like The Office and Curb Your Enthusiasm, and I have to either leave the room, or plug my ears.

      The only sitcom I can regularly tolerate is reruns of Friends.

    5. JayeRaye*

      Ooo, I feel ya. My husband and I are also completely over the dark and depressing Netflix recommendations, and I too suffer from second hand embarrassment. That said, here are my recs:
      Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries
      Murdoch Mysteries
      I personally also fine How to Get Away With Murder hilariously funny in its ridiculousness, but I’ve been told that’s not normal :)

      If you’re looking for a light hearted movie, Stardust is excellent, and in the same vein as the Princess Bride.

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

      There are episodes of the Irish sitcom Father Ted posted on YouTube. It’s got a lot of side-splitting dark comedy, but it’s also got a lot of religious satire too, so be warned. (Protagonists include 3 priests exiled to a remote island for various comedic abuses of power.) IMO Seasons 2 and 3 are better than Season 1.

    7. Really*

      I can usually watch something embarrassing the first time but frequently will skip those scenes the next time around.

    8. dr_silverware*

      For fiction, there are a lot of cheesy but good shows out there. If you’re into mysteries, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries: an Australian period series about a lady detective and her cadre of helpers.

      Leverage is basically a live-action cartoon–a Robin Hooding group of thieves helps people who have been wronged by the rich and powerful. It’s definitely corny, but it’s self-aware and exactly what it means to be. Burn Notice is similar, it’s a lot of fun :)

      On the reality tv side, I can’t recommend the Great British Bake Off (Great British Baking Show in America) enough. To American eyes, it’s a really gentle and pleasant competition show about baking delicious things and trying to be the best. It’s nicely filmed, has great characters, and is just an absolute delight.

      1. Margaret*

        Second the Great British Baking Show! I’m not really one for reality TV in general, but it’s my and my husband’s current evening show, and we’re both really enjoying it.

        1. JaneB*

          Third great British baking show – it’s just SO NICE, even the “mean judge” is a nice person he just has really high standards (plus the others call him on it) and I always feel better about the world after watching it

    9. HannahS*

      Brooklyn 99 is delightful!
      Galavant is, um, a comedy-musical-that’s-a-TV show about a knight on a quest. It tries to be clever, is low on melodrama, and is generally some genuinely enjoyable fluff. My mom and I watched it together, and now I have it on in the background while I work.

    10. Elkay*

      Netflix specific – Unbreakable Jimmy’s Schmidt and Master of None. I haven’t watched the latest one but I enjoyed the Wet Hot American Summer series (watch the movie first).

      Have you watched It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia? If you enjoy animation then Archer is brilliant.

      Non US stuff:
      Flight of the Conchords, Uncle and The Mighty Boosh if you like music in your comedy. Short Poppies if you like heartwarming documentary style comedy. Bluestone 42 for M*A*S*H style humour. The Detectorists is another gentle comedy.

      Loaded has just started in the US about four childhood friends who make money selling an app.

      1. Elkay*

        Urgh Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Stupid autocorrect.

        More info on each
        Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – written by Tina Fey (have you tried 30 Rock?) – woman moves to New York after being kept in a bunker in Indiana – it’s a comedy of innocence rather than awkwardness.
        Master of None – day to day life of single aspiring actor in New York (Aziz Ansari from Parks and Rec).
        Wet Hot American Summer – set in a summer camp with all the teenager counsellors played by people in their 30s – deliberately ridiculous.
        It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia – based around a bar in Philadelphia, the main characters (3 guys, 1 woman and Danny DeVito as their dad) generally do stupid, selfish stuff and rarely come out on top.
        Archer – animated series following a spy agency run by the main character’s mother.
        Flight of the Conchords – two musicians from New Zealand trying to make it in New York with the help of their useless manager.
        Uncle – sweet comedy about a guy in his 30s building a relationship with his pre-teen nephew.
        The Mighty Boosh – surreal comedy, in the first series the two main characters work in a zoo, in the second and third it’s more of a flatshare, also features a talking gorilla and a shaman.
        Short Poppies – mockumentary following a different character in the small down each episode, all played by the same guy (the manager from Flight of the Conchords), very sweet because each character is happy to share what they are with the the film makers.
        Bluestone 42 – British bomb disposal unit in Afghanistan.
        The Detectorists – two metal detector enthusiasts are searching for hidden (I think Saxon) treasure.

      2. Claire*

        I started watching ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ as well! Enjoy it, though sometimes I need to take a break as it’s a little too “upbeat” for me, but it’s so funny! I love the theme song! I wish Tina Fey was on it more.

    11. Laura*

      Mystery Science Theater 3000!!! Definitely not bleak or depressing! The humor is NOT rooted in embarrassing situations.

    12. Mrs. Fenris*

      Y’all, don’t miss the Netflix series “GLOW.” In case you wondered, GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling-a super campy female pro wrestling show) was a real show that my husband saw a few times when it was on in the mid 80s. We just finished the first season, just 10 episodes. Hopefully it will continue. It is hilarious and sweet.

    13. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

      Bob’s Burgers! Such a nice show. No longer on Netflix though unfortunately. Maybe Hulu? Or you can buy it from Amazon video.
      King of the Hill is also great if you didn’t watch it when it was on air.

    14. Maya Elena*

      Movie: The Great Gilly Hopkins. Because it’s based on a children’s book from the 70s, it’s not all misery of the dispossessed all the time.

      I also Really like Firefly. Don’t know if it’s on Netflix these days, but it’s worth buying the DVDs!

  57. WriterLady*

    So I dropped a unit at uni this semester, and I’m marvelling at all my free time. I’ve asked my boss for an extra shift to make up for my boredom. I know that when I’m bored, I spend money, and I need that to stop. Any tips for setting a budget and sticking to it?

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      Make it hard to spend. Take your payment details off of sites like Amazon. Find things to do instead of browsing online or in real shops.

      1. WriterLady*

        Definitely gotta do the Amazon thing. Kindle app was a terrible invention for bookaholics like me.

    2. Loopy*

      I haven’t done this but I knew someone who would take out her “fun” money (or spending money) in cash at the beginning of each month and not allow herself to buy anything nonessential using her debit card. When the cash was gone, she had no choice but to stop.

      I guess this only works if you can resist pulling out a card once the cash is gone, but maybe worth a try?

      1. WriterLady*

        I’ve been considering that, but I know even if I completely cut up those cards, I can transfer money around on my phone and get money out with the phone. And… well, knowing me, I will do exactly that.
        Actually, when I was living alone, I was quite frugal, but I spent 8-10 hours a day at work, and never went out because I was exhausted. Trying to get that frugality back and my brain’s like “naaaaah! Live a little! What do we have to cushion for?”

    3. Emma*

      I use a free app called goodbudget, and track all of my purchases there- not sure if they have currency options other than dollars, though I’m sure there are other apps that do. I preset my budget for fun money, savings, bills, etc.

    4. Katie the Fed*

      I’ve kind of stopped most frivolous spending by considering the environmental impact of my consumption. I know that’s not easy to do, but I basically did a giant round of purging clothes last year and was overwhelmed by guilt over how many labor hours, and how many resource went in to producing a giant pile of clothes – some of which I barely wore.

      It made me really reevaluate my needs and I’ve become much more of a minimalist since then. Every item I buy had to be produced, and it has to be disposed of someday – either by me or someone else. And there isn’t that much of a market for used clothes – at least not as much as we think. Those items you picked out will eventually wind up in a landfill.

      Sorry if that’s a little too moralizing, but that’s my frame of mind these days. Don’t know if that will help you.

      I also really enjoy watching my savings account grow.

      1. WriterLady*

        Would you believe, I’m studying design at the moment, and one of my units (at present) is the environmental impact of design, including consumerism? So that’s actually a pretty decent thing to consider. Most of the stuff I buy is food or books; I can’t actually remember when I last bought new clothes, but my waistband certainly knows how much food I’ve been needlessly eating. Thank you!

  58. The IT Manager*

    If you MUST drive your car through flooded streets to make wakes to splash the water higher there is a 99% likelihood that you are an asshole. I don’t car that if you drive any slower that you’ll stall your car. I don’t care that you live here; you can stay where you were when the flooding started until it goes down. I hope your car is stalled and totaled for your assholery.

    1. The IT Manger*

      I’m fine and so far my home and car remain above the water. My city flooded bad today. I was home and the people who feel the need to drive on flooded streets (especially faster than 5 mph) make waves and push the water higher into people’s homes and cars. It can also make cars float and bang into other cars and things.

      They really shouldn’t drive and not just because it could damage their own car. It makes it worse for others.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        These are probably the same assholes who drive into water over the road and make the rescue have to come out and get their sorry asshole asses out of the water because they think “Turn around; don’t drown” is for suckas.

        1. Liane*

          As you & I both know, that slogan is for people who want to stay alive. A few months ago there was a flash flood in our area. A friend drove into the waters and had to scramble onto the roof. Yes, car had to be replaced but he was fine. In fairness, this happened very late at night, so he couldn’t see the intersection was flooded.
          We were lucky–just an inch of water in the house that recessed quickly. But it still could have been bad if we hadn’t been awakened by Teen Daughter yelling for her brother to help rescue my potted rosebushes! He, of course told her it was too dangerous. If they were floating off the porch, the water was at least 18 inches deep. I still have no idea how our vehicles didn’t flood.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Yipes! I’m glad my house is on the higher side of the street. My ditch will occasionally fill up, but I don’t get flooded. I’m glad your friend was okay. If you can’t see it, or if it suddenly washes down from somewhere else unexpectedly, that’s completely not your fault.

            But we had a particularly bad flash flood here last year, and people deliberately drove into the worst flooded intersection (as well as other problem areas) KNOWING it was flooded because “Oh, I can make it!” Our drainage in this city sucks donkey balls, and everybody who’s lived here for even one season knows it despite the local news harping on that constantly every single spring and summer. There were 60 water rescues that night, mostly of people who tried to drive through water flowing over the road.

            Running water is different than a puddle. It only takes about six inches to knock you down and a foot to float your car off the road. Two feet will sweep your car away. One of the most frightening drives I ever took was back from St. Louis during an absolute toad-strangler of a storm that started after I was already on the road. There were low-lying places on the highway where I could see if I had waited much longer to leave, I would have had to turn around and go back.

            Flash floods kill, y’all.

      2. Tmarie*

        January, 2015 we had a flood like that where I live. Surface water flowed off the hills and flooded all the flat parts of our town. Luckily for me, my house only lost the contents of the garage…man I was pissed seeing people posting videos of their excursions around town to see the flooded streets. Assholes! (Sorry for the cursing!)

    2. Loopy*

      I live in a city that floods super easy and I drive a compact car so I feel your pain. I know *so* many people in big trucks with zero consideration for those around them when it floods. It’s maddening at best and terrifying at worst.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        The same problem happens with boats on a lake also. It’s a big problem for people in small boats or sail boats.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I just double checked this because it’s good to know:

      Two feet of water will float a large vehicle. I assume smaller vehicles would float with less water.
      IF the water is touching the underside the car, the possibility of the car floating (being carried away) is very high.

      Six inches of rushing water will carry away a pedestrian. Six inches. Stay safe folks.

  59. Allie Oops*

    I went for my yearly specialist visit this week and I’m super bummed about it. The doctor was really hard on me because I only lost half the amount of weight he wanted me to. I’m down 20 pounds, and he wanted me to lose 40.

    Before speaking to him, I was really proud of myself. I’m almost two years into extensive orthodontic work, and eating healthy while wearing braces is nearly impossible. I don’t have the metabolism of a teenager, and I can’t live on ice cream and pudding. Having braces at 40 is really, really hard. I’ve had severe headaches and jaw pain the whole time, and it’s made any type of exercise other than casual walking nearly impossible.

    I really thought I was doing well. Having him rag on me just blew all the wind out of my sails.

    1. nep*

      Losing 20 pounds is a huge achievement, period. Who knows why your doctor took that approach — perhaps out of concern, and he thinks being harsh would somehow motivate. Seems to me some positive reinforcement would have been in order.