weekend free-for-all – January 20-21, 2018

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 Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin. I’m on an epic family saga kick, ever since Pachinko. This one starts when four siblings in 1969 New York visit a fortune teller who tells them each what day they’ll die, information that hangs over all of them as their lives unfold.

{ 1,635 comments… read them below }

  1. Anita-ita

    I have an awkward friend that I’m ready to cut ties with (let’s call her Rachel) and I need advice on how to back away/end it. The reason for me wanting to cut ties is because her social skills are so lacking that I cannot bring her anywhere without her saying something embarrassing. Mostly she’s awkward and quiet in a group so whenever she doesnt know what to say, so she either bitches about something or says something that is rude. When she drinks she gets chattier but then before you know it she crosses this line of neediness, talking in a baby voice, and constantly saying stuff like “oh you’re my best friend! It’s because you’re my best friend!” I’ve known her for a long time (we are now 31 and I’ve known her since we were 19). To give reference, she’s one of those very pretty people that always got what she wanted so she never had to develop the personality/social skills that are necessary to make new friends/keep the ones you have.

    An incident happened with her ex-boyfriend which is what made me creeped out by her and I can’t shake it (they remained good friends after the break up). She had recently moved back to town after being away for about 8 months. The ex had met someone while she was away. Rachel had tried to hang out with the ex and the new girl a couple of times when she moved back, but the new girl never liked Rachel (you really can’t be friends with a pretty ex-girlfriend). The first time, she said something inappropriate and rude to the new girlfriend which made her and him mad. The next time, she got drunk, said some WAY rude and inappropriate stuff and got touchy feely with him in front of the new girlfriend. She left the bar they were at and called him 14 times. And the kicker is she doesn’t remember any of this stuff, I had to ask him what happened. Her response was… “well if he can’t forgive me then he has issues with forgiving people,” I was stunned when I heard this! I had a wtf Rachel moment, you cannot expect someone to forgive you after you acted like a complete fool and crossed serious boundaries.

    This reminded me of several instances I had with Rachel in the past where after a few drinks she would become all needy, like she thought it was charming but really it’s just annoying. Which is the reason why I cannot bring her around people. She has a hard time making new friends because she doesn’t know how to act. She considers me her extra bff but friendships fizzle.

    So my question is, do I mention the situation to her and how it bugged me? Which would basically be saying she creeped me out and I can’t get passed it? Do I ignore texts and eventually things will fizzle out?

    1. neverjaunty

      If you’ve known her since you were 19 and she’s needy, ignoring texts and hoping she takes the hint probably isn’t going to make her go away quietly. You’re friends; is it possible for you to just straight up tell her you’re very uncomfortable with her behavior, especially her rudeness?

      (I don’t think this is about her being pretty, btw. Plenty of gorgeous people are kind, thoughtful, and have social skills.)

      1. Anita-ita

        I have thought about it for sure. I had mentioned this in a below comment, you know when you get to a certain age and you don’t want to invest the time and energy on things that don’t give you joy? That’s where I’m at. And I really don’t think an upfront honest convo will change her immediately. It would take a good amount of time of self reflection and awareness.

        I do believe that when you’re a young girl and pretty, it can affect your ability to develop the really good strong personality. You started getting attention at a young age because of your looks. Verses someone who blossoms later, say 17 or 18, you have a few extra years of development. It doesn’t happen to everyone of course but I have seen it a lot.

        1. headache on a plane

          But does it really happen more than to ugly girls? It seems like a reason people find to explain the fact that some people (pretty or not) suck. I’ve met many pretty women in my life, and not ever seen this. It really seems as a reason to explain something that happens to all sorts of people – being shitty.

          1. Carley

            Yeah, I read comments like this and there’s an undertone of sour grapes there – ‘I’m /glad/ I’m not that pretty since then I’d probably be socially inept’. It could be that when pretty people have bad personalities it sticks in the mind more, like that whole Napoleon complex thing even though there’s no statistical evidence that shorter people are more prone to anger. I know plenty of people who are traditionally attractive and manage to be a good person at the same time.

            1. Plague of frogs

              I’m socially awkward and now I’m wondering if I’m extremely pretty and just wasn’t aware of it. :P

              1. Julia

                I’m socially awkward because people in school (and my parents) mocked me for being ugly, so I’m not sure that logic stands.

                But I love your comment.

        2. Triplestep

          I had a sociology class in college during which I read about “conversational narcissists” – the term basically described how good looking people don’t have to learn the same conversational skills as their less traditionally-good looking counterparts. I looked around at my friends and thought the argument had some merit. I even did a kind of case study on people I knew for the class. It made enough of an impression that I remember it all these years (decades!) later.

          That said, your comment about not liking the “pretty ex” was kind of off. It sounds like there are plenty of other reasons not to like Rachel!

          I had a friend from my college years who I backed away from later due to her lack of empathy and social skills. It just kind of happened organically; there was no confrontation or “pronouncement”. I think when you’re in your thirties, you do have less time for things outside of work and/or family and personal interests; things that take an effort to maintain fall by the wayside if you’re not getting as much out of them. I don’t think there needs to be a discussion with Rachel about it; it sounds like she would not be able to internalize one anyway.

          1. Anita-ita

            That is amazing!! I find social dynamics so fascinating. Being outgoing, charming, genuine, and having a magnetic personality is really a science. It comes naturally for some but definitely something you can work on by being self aware and recognizing what qualities you lack/need to work on.

            I agree with your point on not having a conversation. Having one would probably do more harm than good. Friendships fizzle and it’s completely normal.

            1. Jane of all trades

              I think the need to have a conversation depends on how close you guys are currently. Do you hang out every week (or similarly regularly)? If so, I think it would be cruel to just disappear and leave her wondering. If you don’t hang out that often yes, I think you can just increase the time between interactions, and keep those interactions shorter.
              To offer some personal perspective: I had a very close friend ghost me, and it does not feel good. I would have had much rather that one of the many times I asked what was wrong she’d just given me an honest answer. Given that yours is such a long friendship, depending on how completely you want to cut her out of your life, and how this will affect hers, I think you may owe her a conversation, however awkward that may be.
              Best of luck!

    2. Temperance

      Does she have other friends? She sounds deranged, frankly, and I wouldn’t want to say anything or do anything that might make her have me as a target. I recommend a combination of slow fade and grey rock here. Be unavailable, and when you are available, be boring. Be so dull that she doesn’t get to feed off of your energy.

      Not armchair dxing her, but you might want to do some reading on how to deal with cluster Bs. I’ve had people in my life who have done things like that, right down to the conveniently forgetting every awful thing they’ve ever done. You can’t reason with a person who is operating from a different reality than the rest of us.

      1. Anita-ita

        She does not have other close friends. She has some acquaintances but they are all fake people.

        Recently I’ve been busy but every weekend she asks what I’m up to, can’t be busy every weekend (or can I!?!)

        1. neverjaunty

          Well, you’re not actually a close friend at this point? Seems like she might not know or care about the difference – so being always busy seems like a way to ease out.

        2. Triple Anon

          If you say you’re busy a number of times, you can eventually stop responding. That’s a pretty common way to take a break from someone.

    3. Anon Pixie

      I mean, you can say something, but do you really think it’ll change her? This is a great case for Captain Awkward, and I recommend reading those archives, but with anything like this, I always ask myself (or a friend, if it’s someone asking for advice):
      1. What’s the goal of the conversation?
      2. What do you want out of this, and what do you need? Are they the same thing? What’s the absolute least that you’ll be satisfied with? Will the conversation as you envision it right now get you there? If the conversation blows up the relationship entirely, are you okay with that outcome?
      Sometimes (not always, and maybe not in this case) it’s better to do a slow fade and if the person realizes what’s happening, have that conversation. Sometimes it’s worth it to have the conversation outright and endure the blow up. The only person who can know which it is is you, though.

      1. Anita-ita

        Totally not sure if it would change her (probably not actually). I have had convos with her in the last about working on some social skills and given examples (this was before the awkward interaction with her ex).

        You know when you get to a certain age and you don’t want to invest your time and energy on something that stresses you out or annoys you more han it gives you joy? That is how I feel about her.

        I’ll check out the captain awkward archives!

        1. Hellanon

          Yes, the Awkward folk have good insights. My take is that the kindest thing might be the slow fade – you’re unlikely to effect the change in her personality that you are looking to accomplish by confronting her, and it’s not really realistic to expect people to change because we want them to; given that, and your obvious discomfort with her boundary-crossing, it’s up to you to take yourself out of her life. You are allowed to have better friends! Obligated even – it’s not kind to hang out with people you really don’t like.

          And should she be visited by the Self-Awareness Fairy at some point in the future, decide to address her drinking and her self-centered behavior, and at that point want to have an honest conversation with you – then you can say all the things you’d like to tell her. But not now.

        2. A. D. Kay

          I think you will find Captain Awkward very helpful. They have a phrase over there that describes ending a friendship with “Rachels”: giving them the African Violet of Friendship. It’s a pretty accurate way of describing cutting off someone whose neediness is disrupting your life.

        3. Anon Pixie

          Oh yes, I know that feeling. I have done something about it, too, because it seems like time and energy are in shorter supply than emotional vampires masquerading as people.

      2. Grace Carrow

        I think it’s more than fine to focus on what you want or need from any break up conversation. Do you need to tell her why it’s over? Do you need to close the loop by telling her firmly that it’s over? How will you feel in the face of her neediness if you are trying a slow fade out but she doesn’t get the hint? Will you start to feel pity enough to take her back? How would you react if she really crossed some boundaries if you told her unambiguously that the friendship was over? But also what will it take to make her go away?

        None of the options will be easy for you, you just need to work out what will be less distressing for you, in the short term and in the long term. The nicer you are, the harder a slow fade out will be. She has had 12 years to refine her ability to press all your niceness buttons. It will be hard to break your habit of accommodating her behaviour. That might mean that you have to have a firm breakup conversation with her for your own sanity. And I’m not convinced a slow fade out would be the kindest thing for her. It could mean six months of bewildered neediness rather than a week or so of rage.

    4. Kit

      I think I would break up with her. She doesn’t strike me as the type to take a ghosting quietly (or quickly!) so I would text or email her something like, “Hi Rachel, while I will always value our long history together, a few recent incidents have made me realize our friendship has run its course. I won’t be spending time with you going forward, but I wish you all the best.”

      Whatever her reply, reiterate that this is the best choice for you, don’t offer things she could change to remain friends with you, and don’t argue with her if she says this is all your problem.

      Examples:

      Her: “Well just tell me what I did wrong!”
      You: “I think it’s past time for that but I wish you luck.”

      Her: “You’re just a judgmental jerk.”
      You: “Probably, but nonetheless our friendship is over. Good luck.”

      Her: “Is this about last month? I just had too much wine that night, why are you making a big deal out of it? It’s not going to happen again.”
      You: “Glad to hear it, but that doesn’t change my decision.”

      1. Ruffingit

        I wouldn’t even answer if she replies. Ending the friendship is the goal and there’s no need to have any sort of dialogue about it once the bye bye email is sent.

      2. FD

        Yeah, I think this is the best. With people who are clingy, doing the slow fade often makes them glom on harder. The key is going to be to not engage in negotiating behavior. She’s likely to try various things to make your respond or engage with her again, and ignoring or blocking those is likely the best bet.

    5. Ramona Flowers

      Experience tells me you cannot make her heat you, and even the kindest attempts to break up with her will end badly. You are hereby absolved from finding the perfect solution, as there isn’t one.

    6. Buu

      It sounds like you only talk to her because she calls you her BFF and you feel bad…but could be saying that because she knows that’ll keep you around? I think you want to be kind, but actually by sticking around you’re enabling her because no matter how gross she is..you’ve keen kind and given her a chance and she’s blown it. Do what is best for you, this may end up being a wakeup call for her if she can finally face some consequences.

    7. LilySparrow

      Seconding the recommendation to search on Captain Awkward for The African Violet.
      She is not going to pick up on the progressive slow fade, it will just drag out how much emotional labor you’re doing.
      And although she is annoying, she hasn’t done anything to you to deserve ghosting.
      Give her the African Violet talk, but don’t go into details about specific things she did, particularly things she did to other people. That will just invite arguments.

      You’ve grown apart, the friendship isn’t working anymore, and you’re uncomfortable with her pressing for a closer connection when that isn’t what you want.

      She may go into an “extinction burst” of increased contact/demands for your attention. But then you can confidently become a grey rock, knowing you gave a direct, unambiguous message.

    8. Not So NewReader

      You are wise to start this separation process now rather than waiting 20 more years. Unfortunately, I happen to know this. sigh.

      Unless a person wants to change they won’t. And sometimes a person can say that they want to change and they still don’t. Actions speak louder than words. Any time actions do not match the talk, watch carefully.

      As you are aware, what you see now is what there is to see. You have good insight to understand that you do not want to put any more energy into this. Because of this I would vote for doing a “drifting away”. Gradually be less and less available. Don’t return calls quickly. Decide to refuse to go to bars with her. (Am targeting the bar scene because you mentioned all the problems with that.) See her less and less.
      If she is the type to drive by your house, make sure that your actions align with your reasons for being busy. If you know you are not going anywhere, tell her you have a violent headache and you are going to bed. This will explain why your car is in the yard or lights are on. If you do have plans to go out, more often that not, try to say you are doing something you KNOW she is not interested in. This puts you in a place where you can later say, “It seems like our interests are changing.”
      If she says something about having less contact say, “You know I noticed the same thing. Well, we are approaching middle age and I find that my life is filling up with things. If it’s not a dentist appointment then it’s waiting for the plumber to come. Just yesterday, after work I had to run and do x, y and z before I came home. And you know what? I was tired. I went to bed early.” The over all idea here is that Life is filling up your time.
      If you wish you can add in, “You know we are getting older and we are in the part of life known as ‘an established adult’. So I guess being busy is part of that.” Notice the use of the word “we” here.
      Don’t get too involved in the nuts and bolts of too many of her problems/concerns. You can use the approach of, “Gee, sorry to hear that. I hope things work out for you.”

      What I like about this technique is that there is very little arguing, I can remain pleasant and not lose part of myself by dragging things through the mud. The idea is to just get out, not to cure her on your way out. Her problems will take a group of people helping her, IF she wants help at all. So you are totally correct in saying this is too much of an energy drain. And yes, this will take a little time to do. But eventually it will settle.

    9. Triple Anon

      Well, you have options. I wouldn’t judge you for which course of action you choose.

      How do you feel about this person? Do you care about her? Are you afraid of her? It sounds a mix of both, mixed with standard issue irritation, but between caring and being creeped out, which is stronger?

      If her neediness and tendency to violate boundaries are having a negative impact on you, it’s reasonable to back away in a way that seems safe and comfortable. Silence is a response. If she sends you an inappropriate text, you can ignore it. You can even block her number, block her on social media and just move on. Saying something first would be kinder, but you have a right to just walk away. Friendships are earned; if someone’s not acting like a friend, you don’t have to talk to them.

      However, as others have probably pointed out (I haven’t read the comments), it’s kinder to say something. And it would probably help this to go better (though I can’t say without knowing the friend). You can: A) Make an excuse (“I’m really busy and I just need some space right now”) which isn’t the most honest or helpful to the other person but can be necessary with people who are emotionally volatile and/or have trouble with “no”. B) Say something short and simple and then back away (in response to a weird text: “Wow. That’s a strange thing to say. And no, I wouldn’t do that,” and then back away by not responding). Gentle yet a lot of people will get the hint that you’re probably backing away due to differences. The downside is that it’s indirect. C) Have a conversation about it. This is ideal. It doesn’t have to be long. You can just say, “Look, we’re really different. I need some space right now.”

      It’s never easy. I hope you find something that works well enough.

      Also, as with romantic breakups, there is no perfectly nice ending where no one gets hurt. Well, I’m sure there is sometimes. But what I mean is that when people part ways, it tends to hurt, so don’t beat yourself up about it too much. Just do the best you can and move on.

    10. AnonAcademic

      In my experience, you have three options:

      1. Do the slow fade but realize she may never “get it” because she is already good at living in her own alternate reality, so you may keep being contacted by her for weeks or months past when you want to.
      2. Tell her you need some time and distance with no contact to evaluate your friendship with her because you are uncomfortable that she is defending sexually harassing her ex-boyfriend. This gives her a chance to adjust to reduced contact which you can then extend indefinitely. May or may not result in the same conundrum as #1.
      3. Tell her you have become very different people over time and you don’t think you can maintain a healthy relationship with her any more, then cut contact (block her if needed). The risk here is that she blows up like she did at her ex and tries to harass you into talking to her. You will need to NOT RESPOND AT ALL to any of this or she’ll just learn what it takes to break your resolve. However if you succeed, this tends to be the most efficient way to actually end a toxic relationship instead of making it die a slow painful death.

      Source: been there, done that with too many toxic friends in the past.

      I will add, the way you write about her suggests you see her as a damaged person without social skills. However a 30 year old who justifies sexually harassing people is just a bad person in my book. It’s the lack of remorse that seals it for me. If your friend was male it would ping most people’s radars for potential sexual abuser/stalker, I don’t see why her being socially enfeebled by her prettiness makes this much different.

      1. Triple Anon

        I thought that too. She crossed the line when she violated the ex’s boundaries.

        I would also take prettiness out of the picture. I think it’s a red herring. Just be objective about her behavior. It might or might not have to do with how she looks, but I think that’s beside the point and not your problem. Everyone should be held to the same standards.

        1. RestlessRenegade

          Agree. I find it kind of weird how much her prettiness factors into your post, OP. Is it possible that there is no causation between pretty and poor social skills?

    11. Blue Bird

      I would suggest a direct, upfront approach, i.e. “breaking up” with her. I think even bad friends deserve that much; ghosting someone you have such a long relationship with is a terrible thing to do.

      Good luck.

    12. Stellaaaaa

      I don’t think it’s fully your place to factor in how she behaved with her ex and the new girlfriend. That’s not your drama to monitor; if the ex-boyfriend is knowingly bringing Pretty Rachel around his new girlfriend, there’s a whole other level of manipulation going on there (he’s ramping up Rachel’s known issues in front of his new partner, who is bound to feel a bit insecure in her presence) and it’s not solely about Rachel. Her ex is a jerk and he knows what he’s doing. Why do we never blame these faux-hapless guys for orchestrating these scenarios? Unless this drama is bleeding over into your own life, don’t think about it.

      That said, it’s okay to look at the way someone moves through the world and decide that you don’t like it.

    13. Anonyanon

      I don’t know. I’ve had a lot of friends who were Rachel’s and while they were sometimes embarrassing and not the best of friends that they claimed to be, we still had fun together. Some of them drifted apart naturally over time and others I phased out slowly because they were too needy and the friendship was draining and very one-sided. Some of them also used the “you’re my best friend” line to manipulate me, so be careful of that.

      I think that it might be healthy for you to take a break from her and re-evaluate things.

  2. Wannabe Disney Princess

    This weekend sucks. Not only am I fighting off the cold from hell… Monday is my dad’s birthday. He’d have been 65. Not bad enough to be sick, I have to have THAT on top of it.

    So I’m hunkered down on the couch with my favorite might and blanket. And a line up of beloved movies.

    1. nep

      Sending you healing vibes. Everything seems tougher when your body’s acting as if it’s turned on you.
      You will pull through this.
      Peace

    2. Courtney

      I’m sorry. I hope that you’re able to fight off the cold soon and that the movies are a nice distraction.

    3. Alpha Bravo

      Sad and missing someone you love makes sick so much worse. Tomorrow will be 3 months since my husband died. He didn’t make it to 65 either. I’m so sorry for your loss. Take good care of yourself and feel better soon.

      1. Former Employee

        My condolences on the loss of your beloved husband.

        I think the first year is the hardest.

        Take care of yourself.

    4. Ramona Flowers

      I am so sorry – illness and grief is a lot to deal with at once. Sending hugs and good thoughts.

    5. Cheshire Cat

      I’m so sorry — grieving and being sick as well is a hellacious combination.

      It’s been several years for me, and I still spend my father’s birthday in bed with the covers pulled up around my ears. (YMMV, of course; just trying to say that I understand.)

    6. Not So NewReader

      Grief does pull our system down and we might be possible to be more vulnerable to a passing bug. Use good self care, you know the story there. Also take some time to mediate, contemplate, remember, or any mix of these things.
      My dad has been gone 22 years. whoops, still feeling a little pang in the chest as I type. Grief does not go away, it changes form and the rawness goes down, but grief itself does not go away entirely. Just my opinion, it is because we never stop loving them. If we could stop loving them then there would be no need to miss them. You may like to think about a way you can celebrate that love. Perhaps you’d like to do a balloon release. Perhaps you would like to write him a letter, then set the paper on fire and watch the smoke go up to the sky. Or maybe you want something a little more grounded, like calling a friend of his or a family member you know held him dear to the heart. These are just examples, you might find something that resonates with you.

      My Nana has been gone 47 years. I still miss her. I have kind of concluded that missing her is actually a way of honoring her because after 47 years I can still say she was significant in my life. (omg. 47 years. wow.)

    7. A curator

      Grieving the death of an old friend. On the third day of the “crying headache” I am grateful for Facebook as many of my friends and colleagues are posting remembrances and I don’t feel all alone. Had to work today, a good distraction going to the library and host VIPs but right now wiped out and sad. I wrote a remembrance on my blog.

  3. OLD

    Dating thread!

    So my Saturday morning ruminations have given me some interesting perspective on the date I went to on Thursday night. Long story short, while the date itself seemed to go fine, there was no flirting or body language from them which would indicate physical attraction or interest. And yet when I got home, they had already sent a text saying how they had a great time and would be interested in hanging out again soon.

    And while I’m not exactly confused by this, I just realised this is the 2nd time I’ve been on a date with someone where the body language indicates no interest, but the words and actions later on do. And it really throws me off!

    As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realised I’m actually pretty good at reading people and so when something like this happens, I then really struggle because in my head, I’ve already started putting my feelings/reactions into one category (just friends), and then suddenly its like – nope, a different box is required! And moving people from box 1 to box 2 can be tricky for me (depending on the person).

    So its been interesting for me to realise that I pay a lot more attention than I thought to physical indicators of interest (leaning in, excuses to touch someone etc) /general flirty vibes . But I also recall someone on here a few weeks ago asking for advice on how to flirt, so clearly this is not a universal skill (and whoever you were, I hope you got some useful advice that works for you! )

    Part of me finds it really interesting that they have no problem being very open in writing but that doesnt come across in their personal interactions as much….

    Anyway, I’m mostly braindumping on you all for thoughts on if you’ve ever had anything similar, and also if you all do post-event reviews in your head like I do :D

    How is everyone else doing on the dating front?

    1. Cor

      Hahaha, this was my husband! I thought he wasn’t interested at all (he wouldn’t even hold my hand-it was hot and his palms were sweaty). He asked at the end of the date if he could call me, then texted twice to ask if he could call before he did. When he proposed he finally admitted he’d known from our first date he wanted to marry me. He always says it takes him time to warm up to new people and let his sense of humor, in particular, show. So maybe your date was the same way. Best dating advice I ever got was to give my husband three dates. Good thing I did–it took him that long to show me who he was and that he did really care! (FWIW I was nearly 30 and he was mid 30’s)

      Good luck on your adventures Old!

    2. Erin

      Hi OLD! I’m a terrible first-dater. Meeting new people in that context is really hard for me. The last first date I went on, I really liked my date – which actually made it *way harder* to act like a person who was interested in the date (not helpful!). Long story short, that was my last first date because we have now been married for 5 years. I did something very similar – I could tell my date was confused, sent a text post-date being clear about my interest, she gave me the benefit of the doubt and we went from there.
      So – just wanted to throw out there that something similar could be going on with your dates.

    3. Turtlewings

      Flirting is something that comes 0% naturally to me, I get awkward around people in general but *especially* someone I like — I’m more likely to completely freeze up and be a rigid little clam than anything else. I think you may be attaching too much importance to physical overtures, considering how many people are shy or just nervous around people they’re interested in.

      I have a date tonight, actually, and my stomach has been in knots since last night. We’ve mostly communicated by text, which is a lot more comfortable for me than talking in person. The first time he asked me out I not only turned him down but had an hours-long anxiety meltdown. I don’t like being touched generally, so if he tries to put an arm around me or hold my hand tonight I may throw up. Doesn’t mean I don’t like him! If I didn’t, you better BELIEVE I would not be subjecting myself to this date!

    4. Alpha Bravo

      I don’t date, but this interests me strangely. I’ve spent a good chunk of my considerable lifespan training and living around animals (horses, dogs and cats mostly) and their communication is non-verbal (though not non-vocal). So when communicating with humans face-to-face I rely on physical cues like stance, tension and vocal stress (as opposed to word choices) to provide context for the information being verbally relayed. In the dating world, I do wonder if the current climate around sexual harassment makes people more careful about broadcasting overt signs of interest lest they be misinterpreted. For example, one person’s “leaning in” could be another person’s “looming,” and actually touching? Dicey. You’d better be sure that’s welcome.

      I wasn’t the person who posted, but I honestly have no idea how to flirt. That works for me, it’s not a skill I’m interested in developing. I find it much easier to be open in writing, particularly in an anonymous forum like this, than I do in person. The stakes are much lower. And yes, I do post-event reviews in my head too. ;)

      1. Not So NewReader

        I’m with you on flirting. I say just be real. If you are having fun say so. If you can’t wait to do something together again, just say that. I put a high value on sincerity.

    5. Courtney

      I’m not really a flirty person or someone who shows interest in a physical way on a first date. Fortunately my husband is the same way, so it didn’t strike either of us as weird on our first date. I guess some people are looking for a big physical attraction spark on the first date l, but personally, I wouldn’t go out on even a first date with someone if I wasn’t physically attracted to then, so I guess I just assume that part is a given and basically just focus on getting to know them to figure out if I like their personality, if we’re compatible, how our conversation goes, etc. That sounds overly analytical, although I’m pretty sure most people are like that on first dates.

    6. Boredatwork

      This depends on how you’re dating –

      If you’re using an app to find these people they’re probably hedging. It costs nothing to follow up with a “had a good time, lets do it again”. If you don’t end up meeting up again no one’s really lost anything. Also, some people really are bad at flirting or are just not comfortable showing aggressive outward interest to someone they have just met. If you’re a man and dating women, it can be dangerous to be overly flirty with strangers and give someone the wrong impression.

    7. Lily Evans

      Some people are just bad at physically showing attraction. I’m totally one of them. I’m not the most openly affectionate person so I never know the “right” level of touching as flirting until I’m really comfortable around someone.

    8. Undine

      You know who’s really good at flirting? Players. There are different levels of being a player, but basically: if your primary concern is to come off interested and charming in the first few dates, you study that and get better at it. If what you want is a short-term high-intensity physical relationship, they may be the best choice once you’ve filtered out the obviously sleazy. Other types of relationships may be optimized by looking for different characteristics.

      At the same time I agree that lots of people, especially men, go out on second dates on the “that wasn’t terrible” plan.

      1. Ani are you okay

        I found my spouse on the ‘that wasn’t terrible’ plan, so I say don’t knock it! Sometimes chemistry takes more than two hours to develop.

      2. Scarlettnz

        Oi, I find that a little insulting lol. Not everyone who flirts is a player. I’m a great flirt, even if I do say so myself, but I’m not a player and never have been. I’m just gregarious, fairly extrovert and can chat to anyone. A little bit of harmless flirting makes the world a better place, it doesn’t need to mean anything.

    9. Cheshire Cat

      I have two views on this. First, like several other commenters, I can feel hesitant & awkward on a first date. I’ll respond if my date touches me, but won’t initiate anything myself. This is the more likely scenario with your date.

      However: I once dated someone like this, and assumed he was hesitant like me so kept going out with him. I later found out that he hated being touched. But he liked the idea of a romanic relationship, as long as it was physically platonic.

      Like I said, you dating this guy is much less likely than him just being shy!

    10. INTP

      Dating is weird because there are so many types of interest, the body language can be hard to work out. There’s interest in hooking up for the night, interest in hooking up on an ongoing basis, interest in going on more dates to see what happens, “I might marry this person” interest. I wonder if you’re misjudging because people with an interest in seeing you again are deliberately holding back the sexual interest body language to avoid it turning into a hookup situation or turning you off with a creepy vibe? I’ve found that body language can tell me whethera guy is interested in sex with me but not much beyond that – behavior is a better indicator of how much he likes me in a romantic or emotional sense (does he text immediately, does he plan ahead versus wanting to hang out at the last minute, is he asking me on dates to go out and do things rather than suggesting we “cook a nice dinner” [the adult version of Netflix and chill], etc.?).

    11. Gloucesterina

      Not everyone feels comfortable with physical closeness/touching a person that they are just getting to know, even there is mutual interest based on the conversation, I guess? I would put myself in that box.

    12. Marthooh

      I think the only important question is whether you feel any physical attraction or interest in getting together again.

    13. HannahS

      Well, I currently have a couple matches in an app, but I’m feeling to shy and tired to muster up the energy to ask them out. Regarding body language, I’ve found that, as a woman, sometimes men are very, very, very physically reserved on the first date, and rely totally on me to initiate even something as small as a hug at the end of the date. I’m sure it’s at least partly out of a desire not to make me uncomfortable, which I really appreciate.

      Also, I suck at flirting. I’m not even sure I could identify it. I suppose I identify with really basic things, like leaning in and smiling, and showing interest and excitement about a conversation. Or like, asking to kiss me. That’s a pretty big indicator of attraction lol! But I certainly can’t do (and don’t enjoy) the kind flirting that’s more ambiguous and coy. Just not my thing.

    14. Rukh Khan

      For me, it’s not really being able to read body language, but having obvious chemistry (which to me means being able to talk back and forth with few to no awkward pauses) is more important than having the other person tell you later that they had a great time. If I have sat with someone for, say, at least half an hour and then still have to ponder “Does he like me…?” afterwards… I’ll assume the answer is no and move on.

      Honestly, there are plenty of people in this world. You won’t miss out on anything by moving on.

    15. Elizabeth West

      I’m in Siberia. There is no dating front here, only vast empty stretches of cold space.

      Yes, I’ve tried online dating.
      Yes, I went to church (eww).
      Yes, I asked people if they knew anyone (apparently not).
      Yes, I go out and do things.

      All the cool men and the ones in my preferred (younger) age range are married, taken, or non-existent. The men my age look like Santa–I have seen no silver foxes. The rest are college students who could be my children.

      An endless icy wind of nothing. I must escape.

    16. matcha123

      I’ve been single for a year now and I guess I’ve tried dating. I don’t really like meeting new people for a relationship, I just feel uncomfortable and it drains me.
      I am great at “flirting” with people I have no interest in…basically being a more open and friendly me. I guess with guys who aren’t interested in me, I feel comfortable being myself because I don’t feel the need to impress them.

      Out of the people I’ve met over this past year, I really only clicked with one guy, and he said he prefers to stay friends. In his case, while I was kind of nervous, I felt like I was talking to someone who could be a brother. I mean that in a good way, as in I felt incredibly comfortable with him, despite him being a stranger. I still hang out with him and it is very nice.

      I mistakenly killed a budding relationship I was hoping for by not being good at flirting, not being good at reading certain types of questions and just being awkward. What made it was was it was someone I’d known for years, but hadn’t really talked with before. So, they probably thought they knew me better than they did and ugh, it was unfortunate.

    17. Clever Name

      Are you dating women? I ask because women are conditioned to be nice and always available to men. Hell, I just had a very mediocre date and I found myself saying I had a nice time as we walked out of the restaurant, when it really was just an okay time. I’m also single after many years of marriage to an emotionally unavailable and emotionally abusive man, and in that relationship I had dissociated my feelings from my actions as a means of survival. So I guess what I’m saying is you’re smart to look at body language.

      This is definitely something I’m trying to recalibrate in myself as I start to date again. I’m finding myself not knowing how to react to a guy who is showing interest in me but I’m not interested in him. I was at a singles mixer and I found myself listening with feigned great interest to a guy drone on about various topics when I would have preferred to talk to someone else (or no one), and I think it’s because that’s what my ex-husband expected. So yeah, a lot of recalibrating to what’s normal.

    18. Kuododi

      I actually asked DH out on our first date. We went to dinner and a musical…he was so shy it took him until the second act to work up the nerve to hold my hand!!! We had a lovely time, talked about everything under the sun. The evening ended with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. He didn’t get in touch for a week later and I was beginning to think that I had been ghosted until we ran into each other at a grad school event. He then invited me over to his place for dinner….He later confessed he’d been trying to work up the nerve to get in touch for the second date. Well long story short, we celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary back on the eighth of this month!!! God bless the shy ones!!! They really are diamonds in the rough. ;)

  4. Paris Geller

    Hello!
    For anyone who remembers, I was active on these weekend threads a few months back asking for advice about seeing a doctor for treatment for anxiety. The good (great?) news is that I managed to face my fears and sought treatment, and my mental health, though not perfect, is better than it has been in years. The advice from people I got on those threads a few months back was pretty instrumental, so thank you for everyone who commented about their own mental health treatment!

    Now that I have more energy, I’ve been focused on trying to make my apartment a nicer place to live because I know that’s one thing that helps my mood a lot. I’ve done a good job of keeping it clean and I’m slowly starting to make it look like something I like, so today I come seeking advice for something much lighter than mental health: succulents. I know they’re popular, I like how they look, and they don’t seem too expensive. However, I definitely do not have a green thumb and I also have a cat that is very curious, as well as limited space. So for those of you who have house plants/cacti/succulents, any cat-safe kinds or general plant tips? I have a place that gets a good amount of sunlight where my cat can’t reach in mind, but I still want to be cautious.

    Also I’m open to general suggestions about cheap ways to make a small 1 bedroom apartment look nice. I definitely do not have an eye for decorating on my own.

    1. Temperance

      Amazon has a lot of really cute, and really cheap, stuff to brighten up your home. Cute pillows for the couch is a great start.

      I have no advice re: succulents. They look way too tempting to a cat to me. Especially in the tiny containers.

    2. WellRed

      I can’t comment on cat safety, but 3 cats have cycled through my place and have never shown any interest in either cactus or aloe vera. They all loved, however, the fake grass arrangement from Pier 1.

      1. anon24

        My mother was so proud of her aloe plant and then my cat knocked it over and ate it in the middle of the night when they were cat sitting for me. He also tried to eat her cactus when we were visiting over the holidays. He was not at all deterred by the spikes, and I ended up moving it to a high shelf so he didn’t hurt himself or the cactus.

      2. Elizabeth H.

        Our cat does not eat my aloe vera. I have a really big one and we also have several tiny ones in mini pots at cat level. She once knocked one out of its pot but hasn’t repeated after we put it back and didn’t eat it.

        I also have 2 giant pothos and a giant ficus she doesn’t eat (which are supposed to be toxic but cause mouth irritation or digestive system distress rather than organ failure, as I understand it). Sometimes she gets kind of interested in the trailing leaves occasionally if they look string-but doesn’t really bite them. It really varies by cat (and plant) I think.

    3. Ramona Flowers

      I can’t advise on plants as I’m the kind of black-thumbed anti-gardener who seems to kill plants just by looking at them. But I’m so pleased you found the advice helpful and that things are better for you.

    4. paul

      Hmm if it’s a cacti with spines the cat probably won’t mess with it more than once. I’d stick with non-toxic hardy plants so that if the cat messes with them they won’t hurt it/get hurt. African violets are cool and do well in those small (like 2×1′) indoor greenhouses, spider plants are great and hardy, haworthia is good.

      The ASPCA puts out a giant list of toxic and safe plants.

      FWIW, none of our cats growing up and neither of my wife’s cats ever really worried at plants much; the biggest problem is that the one we still have likes to try to sleep in the asparagus fern pot. We solved that by getting some of those bamboo skewers and putting them in that pot…

      Sealed terreria can look awesome but they’ve never been my bag. I do have a 30 gallon fish tank that’s basically set up as a water garden with hornwort and anubis and java moss (and snails and shrimp). Tried duckweed but it kept getting sucked up into the filter.

      1. Jess R.

        I had a cactus with spines that somehow did not deter my cat at all. He would just walk up and start gnawing on it like it didn’t hurt at all. He also chewed on and tore out my other succulents so I’ve given up on those for now.

      2. Jaydee

        African violets are cat-safe and pretty easy to care for (moderate sunlight, they prefer to be watered from the bottom rather than getting their leaves wet). Spider plants are also cat-safe and cool looking. My cats haven’t been interested in succulents, but I also haven’t been very successful in keeping them alive either. Pothos is ridiculously hardy but also slightly toxic to cats. So best to keep it up out of reach of your feline friend.

    5. AJ

      The key to succulents is don’t overwater and lots of sun. Less is more with water – wait until the soil is dry to water again. Water deeply (until the water comes out the bottom – you MUST have a drainage hole if you don’t have a green thumb yet – watering without a drainage hole can be tricky) and infrequently – every 10-21 days depending on the size of the plant, temp in the room, volume of soil vs volume of roots. As far as cats go – be sure to google every single plant you bring into the apartment by scientific name – only buy plants with labels so you know what you have. I know “mother of thousands” / Bryophyllum daigremontianum is HIGHLY toxic to cats and the very common jade plant/rubber tree plant is toxic to cats and dogs.

      1. AJ

        Addendum – A sealed terrarium would be a good option to keep kitties out. You kinda have to see how much interest they will have in bothering the plants – i.e don’t think a terrarium is your only option, but it’s a good one. About terrarium drainage – you’ll do layers of rock/charcoal – lots of online tutorials. I like to put a thick layer of coffee filters between the soil and top level of rocks to keep the soil from seeping into the rocks – assuming crevices between rocks would allow this and you have a glass terrarium so you are viewing the layers. Trim the filters so that you don’t see them sticking out the edges. You can also try Etsy for plants, supplies, and even terrarium kits. You might also like airplants. Check out “Petite Beast” on Etsy. She sticks airplants in sea urchin shells sp they look like jelly fish – and can be hung up and away from cats.

    6. Natalie

      Weirdly, I am a plant person and I usually kill succulents, basically because I am trying to care for them too much. They do well with benign neglect.

      Regarding cats and plants, my experience is that it can vary extremely depending on the cat, the location, the plant, and so on. Our cat likes to bite cut flowers for some reason, but mostly leaves the houseplants alone. My best friends cat doesn’t eat the houseplants, but licks the leaves so much that they fall off and die. If you’re really concerned about your plants and/or cat, you can get inexpensive terrariums at Ikea that fit 2-3 small plant pots.

      Another note regarding toxicity – I’d take toxic plant lists with a grain of salt. Most lists I’ve seen don’t do a good job of distinguishing between plants that are *fatal* to cats and dogs or cause a serious reaction, and plants that might cause an upset stomach or skin irritation upon contact. The latter category can encompass literally anything depending on the animal. My dog vomits when he eats turf grass, but I’m not going to pave my lawn.

    7. Trixie

      My favorite youtube channel for succulents is “Garden Answer” and she does an amazing job of explaining 101 basics. Plants in general are also a wonderful way to create a comfortable, welcoming environment and many are super low maintenance. Soft lighting, books, and candles. Maybe some easy simply framed prints or quotes that catch your eye from Etsy.
      Slightly off topic but I was reading recently that essential oils can be toxic to cats (over time) which was news to me. While I’m probably good with lavender oil in the bath with door shut, I’ll keep my aromatherapy diffuser for work.

    8. Perpetua

      Woohoo for improved mental health, that sounds lovely!

      For me, the key to making my apartment nice to me are the little things that make me happy-ish when I look at them (I say happy-ish because I don’t expect a world of euphoria from let’s say a jewelry stand, but it still makes me feel nice that I bought myself a ballerina-shaped stand and I like seeing it in my room).

      The usual recommendations that have worked for me as well: decorative pillows and some throws for the couch, e.g. one nice cozy blanket and one for adding some texture in my living room. Cozy lightning, at least a side lamp or something that can be muted a bit, or twinkle lights (they’re not everyone’s taste, but I enjoy them). Art I enjoy – and by art I mean it can be anything – a magazine cutout in an interesting color, an ad from the newspaper that caught my eye, inspirational illustration from a calendar (I have all of those in my frames).

      I like order, so I like when everything has its place, that’s also a big part of enjoying my space.

    9. Cheshire Cat

      For general suggestions: thrift stores and yard sales can be great places to find lamps, tables, etc. I avoid them for sofas and plush chairs, though. Look through Better Homes & Gardens or similar magazines for ideas that you really like, and then look for similar items when you go shopping. Sometimes they will have articles on making a small place look larger.

      1. Not So NewReader

        I have made out very well with yard sales. I hit one sale last year and filled the back of my car for $9. I estimated and totaled it up later, it was probably $500 worth of stuff.
        I am a big fan. Get there early. My boss uses the rule of thumb “if it’s not 90% off retail then it’s not a deal”. This is not as hard as it sounds, some people will take a few bucks just to get rid of the thing.

        Pick a color for each room. For example, I have blues in my living room and any color that compliments blue. This also helps me to limit my spending. No, I cannot buy that orange rocker no matter how comfy it is.

        I’d like to encourage you that decorating is not as daunting as one would think. It’s all you, you are the common thread. Your decor reflects your likes, your interests and what you think is of value in life. You will probably find yourself automatically picking out things with a similar theme or color group. When you get it all in the room it will actually make sense and fit together.

        For larger items, do measure. And bring the tape measure with you while shopping. And by all means, anything that feels negative or sparks a negative memory should GO from your home. If the item is of value, sell it and pour the money into something with positive connotations.

      2. Elizabeth West

        Flea markets, too, if you can find a good one. I have a TON of stuff in my house that came from flea markets. Some of it had to be refurbished or painted, so if you don’t have space for that it might not be practical, but you can get a zillion smaller items, especially quirky decorative stuff. Plus it’s fun to browse and laugh at the ugliest things.

    10. MissDissplaced

      When i lived in LA in my small one bedroom place, I basically chose a look from the IKEA catalog. Lol!

    11. I Love Thrawn

      I have two cats, and I simply don’t take the chance with any real plants of any kind, though I do like flowers. There are lists on the net you can look up, or ask your vet, but honestly I wouldn’t take the chance. Go for silk ones.

    12. Clever Name

      Yay for you! I’m so glad things are going better.

      Cats and plants. I am an avid indoor gardener, and I recently got 2 kittens, and it’s been a challenge, honestly. I’ve always had cats, so my plants are all cat safe, but I’m re-learning what kittens are like versus what elderly cats are like. I’ve had to be flexible in terms of where I put my plants, and I’ve had to be diligent with using a spray bottle of water to squirt my cats when they mess with my larger plants that I cant put somewhere they can’t reach.

    13. Triceratops

      Also a curious-cat owner without a green thumb.

      – At my local plant store, they said that most succulents (or perhaps just all the kinds they sold) were safe to eat, for both humans and pets. I have a cat very prone to eating ~anything~, so I bought 3 small succulents (without spikes, bc I worried about her hurting her face, ha). I’ve never seen her chewing on them, but they are kind of dying lol.

      – I also got another non-toxic plant (a ponytail palm) that I have seen her chewing on and seems much healthier than the succulents.

    14. Student Affairs Professional

      Search for the Lotus Q-tip holder on amazon – there are several sellers but they’re all kind of the same idea. It looks like a lotus flower but holds q-tips under a little plastic cloche. They have a few different colors, I got the green one for $4.99! I love that it’s functional but really cute. It adds a fun pop to a bathroom (or bedroom dresser/vanity).

    15. TardyTardis

      There are brilliant wall tapestries at DressLily–don’t know what your space is like, but given how I kill plants with a single glance, if I had space to decorate, I would think about some of these.

  5. Ella

    Does anyone listen to 99% Invisible? It’s a podcast. The most recent episode is called “Thermal Delight” and is about the effect of air conditioning on our society–including its effect on architecture, and office buildings, and the advent of the Thermostat Wars. It made me think of conversations I’ve seen here in the comments.

    1. Pearl

      I love 99% Invisible! I haven’t had a chance to listen to Thermal Delight yet but this is one of my go-to podcasts for when I need to give my brain something to do. I try to keep current but have also been going through the archives. I loved #76, “Modern Moloch,” the one about pedestrians and use of roads and the invention of jaywalking.

    2. Snark

      I really like it best when it’s actually about design, and it sometimes wanders away from that, but generally it’s an excellent podcast.

    3. Triplestep

      Thanks, I’m going to look this up! (I a work in the building trades and design, and I’m also kind of a construction geek, so this sounds right up my alley.)

      1. Ella

        Oh man, go all the way back to the beginning. It’s totally worth it. The purple hotel! The geodesic dome episode! The bubble houses in California!

    4. PX

      Oh man, I have not heard of it but as someone with a passing interest in architecture and who hates air conditioning, I definitely know that the invention of the AC is one of the things that has influenced society so much more than people think, has been terrible for the environment generally and I personally would love for it to die.

      I wish traditional methods of building cooling (right materials, smart design etc) would make much more of a comeback.

      Signed,
      Someone who comes from a tropical country and knows it is possible to stay cool in buildings without an AC to freeze you to death

  6. WellRed

    I am so pleased to hear that Delta is setting some tighter guidelines around emotional support animals. Hopefully, it spreads.

        1. Temperance

          Good. I’m a total dog lover, but I honestly don’t think they belong everywhere. I also think this current trend of “emotional support animals” is BS. It’s just a way to try to get around no-pet policies in apartments and in public. It puts both the animal and society at large in danger.

          1. neverjaunty

            Eh, emotional support animals are a thing. The problem, as always, is the glass bowls who treat it as a loophole to bring their pets everywhere. And of course being glass bowls, do not have pets with training or temperament to go everywhere.

            1. Lady Anonymous

              Well, then you also have the people (like a certain family member of mine) who don’t need emotional support per se, but they get a doctor to sign the forms, and then they can bring their pet on board with them.

              I am nervous around dogs and would be very unhappy if I had to share my (limited) space in the plane with one! I’d be understanding if the dog were really needed as an emotional support animal, but I have no patience with people who feel that their right to have their dear pet near them outweighs my right to feel safe and comfortable.

              1. Not So NewReader

                I love dogs. But I always say people first, animals second. Someone comes over who does not like dogs then my little buddy goes out to the kitchen for the duration of their visit. It’s just a bad mix to put beings together who do not want to be together. That is just asking for problems. My guy will get over being in the kitchen for a bit until the person leaves.

            2. Temperance

              I don’t doubt that pets provide emotional benefits to people. I just see ESAs as a way to get around no-pet policies.

              Service dogs are a whole different category, though. ESAs don’t go through any sort of training and aren’t certified. Generally speaking, service dogs aren’t required to go through that, either, but they have to perform a specific task for their handler.

              1. Natalie

                Some of it is ignorance from business owners – ESAs have no rights except in housing and transport, so it’s perfectly acceptable to not allow them at brunch or whatever. But it seems like most business owners do not realize this, or that they can even ask a service dog to leave if it is seriously misbehaving.

              2. neverjaunty

                ESAs can be trained service animals; it doesn’t have to be a synonym for a pet. And unfortunately people also just buy harnesses and things that say “service animal” for their pets, knowing that rarely is anyone going to demand proof.

                1. copy run start

                  I don’t believe you can ask for proof* that an animal is a service animal, only if it is required due to a disability and what specific task the animal has been trained to perform.

                  *without running afoul of the law

                2. Stellaaaaa

                  copy run start: You are not allowed to ask to see documentation for service animals, but you are allowed to ask what job the animal was trained to perform for you.

                3. Natalie

                  @ copy run start, you’re correct, and there isn’t really any proof anyway – there’s no legally meaningful certification or anything. You also can’t ask why the animal is needed if it’s obvious, such as a dog guiding a person that’s clearly blind.

                  Fun fact, along with dogs, miniature horses are also specifically protected by the ADA. I believe they are used for balance assistance but might be wrong.

            3. Tea, please

              My sister’s girlfriend has an emotional support animal. While I had concerns about her (particularly regarding self-centeredness-my sister bends over backward to be mindful of her needs. The girlfriend—not so much) tried to keep an open mind. But when I heard she’s has an emotional support pet, I was done.

          2. Dan

            Specifically with regards to air travel, most airlines actually do permit pets in the cabin.

            However, the pet fee isn’t cheap… United charges $125 each way. They also limit four pets per flight.

            So folks that are lying about ESAs are trying to save a few bucks. I can’t say I blame them. I’m sure they figure they aren’t harming anybody.

            One reason the airlines turn a blind eye is that they can get in serious trouble if they mess with someone who has a legit service animal, as well as get some nasty PR. From a risk standpoint, it’s easier to tell your $9/hr employee to look the other way on these things.

            1. INTP

              I think besides saving money, service animals (and apparently, previously support animals) are allowed to not be in their carriers during the flight whereas most pets have to stay in carriers. So some of these people want to play with their animals during the flight. Which I wouldn’t begrudge for someone who couldn’t fly without the animal in their lap, but I don’t think it’s worth the potential dangers and annoyances to other passengers if it’s not mandatory for someone to fly, just makes it a little more pleasant. Not just attacks but increasing the amount of pet allergens that get circulated through the cabin, for example. Booze makes me a much less anxious flyer but I accept that I’m not supposed to fly drunk for reasons involving the safety and comfort of other passengers, lol.

          3. Artemesia

            I think service animals should be licensed. They have to be trained for a person and it would be fairly easy to make a license card part of that, that the person using the service animal could show. They wouldn’t have to discuss their disability but they could prove that their animal is a service animal. The way it is now, on Delta, if the person claims the animal is a service animal rather than an emotional support animal there is no way to verify that. The law should change on this to require this kind of proof.

            You can buy vests for the dog on line that are fake. And the whole emotional support thing has been seriously abused for people to bring pets everywhere. Delta is spot on on this. No passenger should be stuck next to a poorly trained animal or a turkey or snake or whatever on a flight.

        2. Menacia

          I just read the article about the attack, the man bitten was sitting in the window seat next to a 50 pound dog sitting on its owner’s lap! Talk about a scenario set up for disaster… Just like any other situation where there is the potential for someone to be hurt, there absolutely needs to be more stringent rules around these emotional support animals. I read an article about an emotional support pig on a flight as well…wtf?

          1. Temperance

            It’s horrible! I feel terrible for the attack victim. I hope that they are able to get adequate compensation for their injuries.

            There is literally no reason that a 50 lb. dog should ever be considered an ESA for these purposes. If a person wants to bring a dog the size of a 4th grader on a plane, he should have to buy a seat for the dog and put it in the window where it can’t access other people.

            1. Menacia

              Exactly, the poor guy had no choice but to sit next to someone with a completely inappropriate dog. What about people who are allergic or have PTSD related to an incident with a dog? I never expect to fly on an airplane seated next to a dog, and would put up a huge stink should that occur. I am not a dog person and think they don’t belong in *many* places, for my safety and well-being as well as the animal’s.

              1. INTP

                And if you’re allergic, being reseated doesn’t necessarily help you because the air recirculates. I had an allergy attack sitting across the row from a cat that was inside a carrier under the seat, and I’m sure a pet in a lap would put even more dander into the air.

                Plus, frankly, if you NEED a dog in your lap while out in public for emotional reasons, it seems reasonable to expect that person to get a dog appropriate for the purpose and as unobtrusive as possible – like a small and fairly quiet one. If the dog is just your pet and not one you’ve purchased because it’s mandatory for your ability to function, let it fly like any other pet.

          2. Beatrice

            I shared a flight once with a young college student who was clearly using the ESA loophole to get her Golden Retriever home with her for free. I was sharing a row with her, her dog, and a bodybuilder with massive arms that physically could not be contained to the limits of his own seat area (and were encroaching on about 3” of my seat.) The dog was squashed into the area on the floor by her feet, and some of the bodybuilder’s foot space. It was not a comfortable flight for any of us, and I felt like I had the most right to be annoyed, lol.

            1. Elizabeth West

              Poor doggo. :(

              I’ve only shared a flight with a dog once (knowingly). It was a military dog, a large German shepherd. The Army guy he was with had a bulkhead seat–this was a small commuter plane–and the dog laid on the floor near his feet and behaved himself beautifully. He was probably used to flying, however.

              I wanted to pet him SO BADLY but I didn’t want to bother them.

    1. Hellanon

      I’m so tired of dogs everywhere – I really don’t want to go grocery shopping with somebody’s over-privileged pet (actually, it makes me want to go borrow a Norwegian Forest Cat and walk it through the downtown LA Whole Foods until someone complains, and then point to all the damn dogs. But that may be more effort than the whole thing is worth!) and I suspect that most “support animals” on planes are barely house-trained. But I am cynical, and not kind when it comes to this nonsense.

      1. nep

        I share this (probably quite unpopular) view — I don’t want dogs everywhere.
        When out and about with the toddler we take care of, I go only to no-dogs-allowed parks. How ridiculous are people who hang out there with their dogs. Ugh.

        1. Book Lover

          I get thoroughly stressed out. Too many people don’t leash their dogs or for whatever reason think that leash laws mean that the leash has to be on but they don’t have to be holding the end of it. I’ve left our tiny neighborhood park when multiple dogs were brought in to play without leashes – this is not a dog park, by the way. I usually don’t get passive aggressive about it, but last time I called the kids to me and said loudly enough for people to hear that I didn’t want them at a park with dogs off leash.
          The farmer’s market also has lots of dogs, most of them delightful (and leashed) and with owners who say yes when the kids want to pet their dogs, but last weekend there was an aggressive barking one and it was upsetting.

          1. Lady Jay

            Good dog owners really care about this kind of thing too. There’s a dog owner in my run club who’s very insistent that when dogs are in public, they belong on a leash. I told her how I met and was followed by an unleashed dog when I was running the other day, and though I meant it as a funny story (the dog seemed chill) she was very upset that the owner’s negligence was showing poorly on all dog owners.

            1. Natalie

              It’s not safe for a leashed dog either – dogs can’t extrapolate very well so a leashed dog considers themselves forever trapped within 6 feet of their owner. Thus many leashed dogs to not react well to an unleashed dog that they feel they can’t get away from. Running away (even a short distance) is a common way for dogs to diffuse tension.

              1. Wendy Darling

                My dog is small and has dwarf legs, so like 99% of all dogs tower over him. He feels REALLY threatened when a taller dog gets in his face (or worse, leans over his entire body to sniff his butt). He’s fine in the off-leash park because he just walks away from dogs that are invading his personal space, but he gets really defensive when he’s approached on-leash because he can’t get away.

                And half of the reason he can’t get away is that some assholes don’t leash their dog, or have their dog on a retractable lead and allow it to follow him when he tries to get away, or — and this is the worst — THEY follow my dog when he tries to get away.

                Then they call my dog “mean” or “aggressive” when he barks/air snaps at their dog that is chasing him and getting in his face. My dog has never been in a fight and he’s a small dwarf dog with an underbite — he would lose a fight to anything tougher than a sofa cushion. He’s never bitten another dog. But he is very assertive about telling dogs who are up in his face to GO AWAY. It makes me SO angry on his behalf when people let their dogs harass him as we are trying to exit the situation and then blame me/him when he reacts.

                I’m also trying to teach him not to be so reactive to larger dogs, and it wrecks our progress when some clueless jerk lets their larger dog harass him.

            2. INTP

              Yep, there is a big debate about off-leash dogs in parks here and the most vocal opponents are other dog owners. Many have reactive dogs to whom “friendly” off-leash dogs pose a real threat, because the reactive dog will get aggressive, which isn’t an issue when all the dogs are under control and can’t reach each other, but can provoke the “friendly” off-leash dog to attack it. It’s also a danger to the dogs. A dog got sick after being in the woods running out of sight of the owner along a trail, and rather than acknowledge that she let her dog get into something rancid or poisonous, she claimed that it was poisoned by anti-dog people. (The debate is very heated.) The dogs can hurt or be hurt by wildlife, eat things they shouldn’t, be pepper sprayed or worse by humans hat are afraid of them, but these anti-leash people still insist that a friendly dog poses no problem and doesn’t need to be on a leash.

              1. Elizabeth H.

                Maybe anti-leash people are insistent about it, because a friendly dog doesn’t pose a problem and doesn’t need to be on a leash? Time to run and play without being on a leash is essential for all dogs.

                1. Brydon

                  your dog may be friendly but what if my leashed dog isn’t. Can you instantly call yours back? What if the off leash dog runs up to my working mobility dog and causes him to leave position to ward off the unwelcome advance and I fall. There are places it is legal for dogs to be off leash and run. (dog parks, owners property) and there are places they aren’t. If an off leash dog causes me or my dog harm when in one of the places that off leash dogs are not legal there will be a issue. If I choose to take my dog to a dog park (which I don’t unless they are empty while we are traveling) then I take the responsibility of keeping them and myself safe. If I am where dogs should be on leash then the liability goes to the person who broke the law/rules.

      2. Alcott

        I’ve been seeing signs in West LA and Santa Monica that say variations on “Your emotional support animal is not protected by ADA and not allowed in here. Licensed service animals only.” It makes me happy.

        The last time I flew Jet Blue, there were at least 8 dogs on the flight, and one of them barked the whole (redeye) flight.

        1. nep

          WHAT? Eight dogs on a flight? That is completely insane. No. Freaking. Way. This makes me not want to venture onto a plane ever again.

        2. Sprechen Sie Talk?

          I couldn’t believe how much of a thing this ESA thing had become in the US until we went to California last fall and it seemed like people had dogs EVERYWHERE. Someone tried to stroll into REI with one and was approached by a staff member who actually had a really good spiel rehearsed about “is this your dog, its a beautiful animal, we love animals but….”.

          I cant imagine what the flight attendants thought of EIGHT dogs on a plane. And don’t these owners know how distressing travel like that can be for their animals? Also, lap children in the incidence of an emergency is not a good thing and essentially turns them into projectiles, having a bunch of animals loose is not exactly safe either, and I am surprised the FAA hasn’t cracked down more.

          As an aside I did read an article years ago about miniature horses being properly trained as proper service animals and someone took one on a Delta flight as it was a seeing eye horse. It was adorable! It folded itself up neatly in the bulkhead by its owner, it had been bathroom trained, etc.

          1. Wendy Darling

            Some stores actually are dog-friendly — I was surprised to find that REI wasn’t, actually! I’ve gone into places I thought were dog-friendly a couple times with my dog and been mistaken (or places have changed policy), but I’m happy to take him outside — I can leave him outside for a bit if it’s safe or come back another time without him. It is the risk I take by bringing my dog with me. (Usually if I’m going to shops with my dog I’m 90% walking the dog and 10% shopping, tbh — he likes to visit dog-friendly stores because the employees fuss over him and give him treats, and he enjoys being fawned over, and it’s good way for him to practice his good manners.)

            1. TL -

              The REI in Austin is! Or at least, they didn’t fuss over my brother’s well-behaved three legged dog (but he said nobody ever does.)

      3. Former Employee

        I had to look up Norwegian Forest Cat. Reminds me somewhat of the Maine Coon, which makes sense – cats who have evolved in cold climates. Both are beautiful examples of cat-dom.

        And yes, there can be too much of a good thing. Dogs can be wonderful. I am in awe of those dogs who help blind people live a more normal life or assist kids with serious medical issues who might not even survive if the dog didn’t wake them in time. Then there are those exceptional ones who are helping our veterans who suffer from PTSD, some of whom have said that if it weren’t for their dog, they might have been one more awful statistic. And let’s not forget those dogs that find lost children or alert us to dangerous situations.

        Having said all of that, I agree that an enclosed space, such as an airplane, is a totally wrong place for an untrained animal unless it is in a carrier or cage.

    2. fposte

      I saw that too. I love dogs, and I think this is probably *good* for them. Most dogs don’t want to fly on planes or go to the grocery store. It’s not a comfortable environment for them. There’s a reason service dog programs have a washout rate–this is a tough gig for an animal. It’s kind of ironic that we’re talking situations that are hard enough on people that they need assistance, but that the fact that it’s hard on the animal too doesn’t seem to get similar attention.

      1. neverjaunty

        Yes! It’s so depressing how many people who treat their animals as Inseparable and Special are actually terrible pet owners.

      2. Natalie

        I always think about this when I see obviously non-trained dogs on the bus. They are clearly nervous (ears back, whites of the eyes showing, etc) and they don’t know to lay down on the bus, because they haven’t been trained and are freaking out! So they slide around or stumble every time the bus driver brakes.

        Obviously sometimes some people need to transport your dog on the bus, but, like, pay attention to the fact that it’s unhappy and at least comfort them.

      3. Temperance

        I never thought about that angle, but you’re absolutely right. Fposte, you have an excellent way about making me think. Thank you for your comments!

    3. Max from St. Mary's

      I know a couple of people with small dogs who have gone the internet diagnosis of anxiety route to get paperwork declaring their pets as ESAs. Both travel frequently and see it as a chance to take their dogs with them and save money–apparently they don’t have to pay for bringing the dogs onboard the plane, and they don’t have to pay for boarding while they’re gone.

      I’m happy to see Delta cracking down, and hope other airlines follow suit.

    4. kas

      Wow, after reading your post and the comments I looked up this story and if there were no other seats on the plane, I would’ve exited the plane. I’m not a dog person and I would’ve had a panic attack if I had to sit next to a dog on a plane. I’m glad Delta is setting tighter guidelines.

    5. Observer

      Wow! What a crazy story. But, I don’t think they are doing enough- the owners don’t have to provide ANY documentation that their can behave, and three is no policy on muzzles and the like.

    6. Dog Lover

      I think it’s wrong that people get their dogs certified as an ESSA when it is really just their pet. However, airlines need to do more to ensure animals are safe and protected in the hold. There are horror stories of dogs being left out in really hot/cold whether for hours waiting to board and dogs passing away when traveling in the cargo hold. I understand why people might want to bring their pet into the cabin, if they had to travel with the pet. I would never put my dog in cargo because of the risk. If were moving long-distance, I would just drive with her. I think the jump in ESSA animals on planes has more to do with the safety of travel outside the main cabin then getting around the extra cost.

      1. the gold digger

        Yes, this is the thing, unfortunately. My cousin used to be the manager of the pet transport customer service unit for an airline. She hated it, because she could do nothing to improve the conditions for the pets and there were too many sad stories.

        However – I don’t want your untrained pet on the plane, either. My aunt’s sister trains service dogs. She posts about it on facebook – it takes months and months to train a dog properly. If you really need one, get a dog who is prepared for it.

        PS Whoever recommended “The Plague Dogs” – thanks, but man. I just started it and just read the section about doing testing about what animals can endure in the hold.

        “It was not, of course, difficult to design humane and efficient travelling crates for animals provided cost was no object and that one could count on a reasonable measure of responsible human care during the journey. To do the thing cheaply, however, and counting upon the prevalence of ignorance, indifference, and neglect, called not only for ingenuity but also for expert knowledge of what various animals could be relied upon to endure….[i]n a short time…made the remarkable discovery that over-crowding, rough handling, and prolonged thirst were beyond a doubt the major contributors to higher than average death rates occurring among small mammals transported by air.”

      2. Observer

        No excuses for the mishandling of animals, at all. But the solution is NOT bringing them on the plane itself. Driving with an animal can’t be fun, especially on a longer trip, but it’s really what has to happen.

  7. KatieKate

    I have a problem with inappropriately laughing. To date, I have laughed during multiple high holiday services, two bar mitzvahs, and two funerals. The triggers are random—there was a funny looking rock, we were on page 69, or I got a meme stuck in my head AS I WAS DOING A READING and had to leave the service. The laughs are nearly uncontrollable where I am shaking and crying

    I’ve had to miss two funerals for friends and coworkers just this month because I was too afraid of what I would do. I’m at a loss because there will not be fewer funerals in my future, and I feel like a jerk for not going. Does anyone have any ideas?

    1. Courtney

      What have you already tried to stop the laughing? I generally can’t stop crying at funerals even if I didn’t know the person well because I get hyper focused on how their immediate family must be feeling. I generally think of that as a problem, but maybe it’s something you need more of?

    2. fposte

      First, you should watch the Chuckles Bites the Dust episode of the Mary Tyler Moore Show. It may make your actual problem slightly worse, but it will make you realize this is a thing.

      Yours is on the extreme end, but it’s basically a version of the church giggles–the tension of a situation where it’s important to stay solemn means that your brain finds relief in things that aren’t ordinarily funny, and the stress makes it hard to stop.

      Do you get any warning at all? I would have a task planned for when you feel the impulse–you’re going to check on all your keys, find your Kleenex, and make sure your phone is turned off (note these are also things that conveniently point your head down into your lap and make you less visible); unfortunately these aren’t usually situations where you have water at hand, but if you do, sip it and pat yourself with some as well. Basically, redirect.

      If you don’t get warning, the best I can offer is to have a handkerchief at the ready, pass it off as a sneeze attack, and get the heck out.

    3. Ella

      Is it possible it’s an anxiety/feelings thing, and your body doesn’t know what to do with the feelings, so it’s channeling them into laughter?

      In the short term, unless it’s a super close family or loved one, I would decline to do readings or anything like that in the service, and sit near the back so you can discreetly excuse yourself if you feel laughter happening.

      I would also look into learning some meditation or relaxation techniques so you can learn to let the feelings go, instead of letting them build until they bubble out of you as laughter. I’ve had to learn to do this to assauge feelings of panic, and it’s helpful. Even just being able to take deep, steady breaths can help.

      Also all the examples you listed seem to be place-of-worship related. If you’re only going to your house of worship on high holidays or during funerals, maybe make it a project to go at other times (regular Sabbath services, or even mid-week if the building staff is cool with that) and just sit and hang out and make it feel less formidable, or fancy, or sacred, or whatever it is that makes the building feel different from other buildings.

    4. Temperance

      I’m one of those people, too, although not to your degree.

      What works for me is to not pay attention, or to focus on the lyrics to “Let it Go” from Frozen.

    5. HappySnoopy

      Show your support in other ways. Bring food/flowers, offer to do mundane errands, if you’re close, even take them out for a meal or a museum or something to get them out of the house for a bit (and just let them be themselves however they feel–no pressure to be socially “on”) .

      Depending on culture and schedule (mmv), you could also attend less “formal” parts of the services. Sometimes there’s a viewing or wake around it where you can slip in, express your condolences and slip out. They sometimes are more social in a way where family and friends reminisce and pictures are displayed celebrating/memorializing the deceased’s life. Laughter may not be noticed as inappropriate in those circumstances.

      Finally, don’t beat yourself up. People respond to anxious situations in weird ways.

      Just someone who’s been to a lot of religious and nonreligious funerals since I was 8.

      1. Agnodike

        Mention of the High Holidays and bar mitzvahs suggests Judaism, and there are in fact lots of well-established cultural traditions for supporting mourners in a Jewish context, like sending food to the shiva house. So that might be a good stopgap solution.

        KatieKate, are there common threads between the events where your inappropriate laughter takes place? Like, are you just as likely to burst out laughing if you see a weird rock out a bus window, or if you glance at your odometer and the mileage ends in 69? Do you have other kinds of intrusive thoughts, or are you just prone to these specific bursts of hilarity? If it’s more widespread, I would check in with a doctor to make sure there’s nothing neurological going on. If it’s very specific, I would investigate what it is about the specific situation that’s prompting this response. Laughter is a really common reaction to anxiety or other intense emotion; if you can defuse the emotion around this particular situation, the laughter might resolve.

        1. KatieKate

          You, I never thought about it as connected to a neurological issues, but I do have a seizure disorder. I’ll have to check with my doctor and see if it could be related! Thanks!

    6. RainRainGoAway

      This can be a symptom of a underlying neurological issue. You should see a health care professional.

    7. Ron McDon

      My sister has this problem – she always starts laughing at inappropriate moments; when I broke my arm, funerals, hospital bedsides… she either lets it out if low stakes (when I broke my arm) or suppresses it if high stakes (funeral/hospital).

      But supressing it makes it worse, because it has to come to the surface eventually.

      I don’t have any suggestions I’m afraid, but lots of sympathy.

    8. INTP

      Have you been checked out by a neurologist for pseudobulbar affect? This is NOT an armchair diagnosis, and I have no idea if it’s severe/frequent enough to warrant looking into medical causes. Just a friendly heads up that sometimes this can be caused neurologically and if so can be controlled with medications, if that’s not something that you have already looked into.

      1. PX

        Second looking into PBA. I read an article about someone who had the same issue after a brain injury, and it took a long time before he was correctly diagnosed.

    9. kas

      I’m not as bad as you but I too laugh at inappropriate times. The worst for me is if someone slips, falls, walks into something, etc. I was once walking behind a girl into a store that had just redecorated and there was a very clean glass wall. She thought it was the entrance into the store and walked right into it. I laughed so hard I cried. My sister ended up walking away from me because she was so embarrassed by my laughing. Once I start laughing, I cannot stop. The girl wasn’t seriously injured (if she had been I definitely wouldn’t have laughed) but I still felt really bad for laughing.

    10. Nerdgal

      I have this problem to a minor degree. And I have had to direct music at the funerals of friends, so nowhere to hide. What helps me is to.pretend the person is a stranger, I’m just at the funeral in an official capacity, I don’t really know them. This gets me through the service. Dont know if it will work for you but might be worth a try.

  8. Loopy

    Anyone have experience with the process and general cost of prenuptial agreements? We have decided we 100% want one but I’m more overwhelmed going about finding a lawyer and trying to figure out a reasonable cost for this than I am by wedding planning.

    Fun fact in exchange for your advice and wisdom: bison friggin love Christmas trees. I volunteer somewhere with bison and we get discarded trees (no ornaments or tinsel on them if course!!!) and give them to the bison who are obsessed with them.

    1. Ramona Flowers

      I have this image in my mind now of a bison
      hanging baubles and tinsel on a tree.

      Which is probably not what you meant (oh but if only it was).

    2. paul

      Bison are so cool but so intimidating. One of the scariest but more awesome experiences in my life was being near two bulls having an argument in Yellowstone…the immense power of them butting heads was something you could *feel*. I’d seen bighorn go at it during mating season and that was impressive but wow oh man, two animals as big as your car running into each other is next level. Less of the loud crack and more of this amazingly loud THUD.

      1. Loopy

        Yes! They are! I had no idea how fast an animal that big could run (they can be fast). It’s definitely good to realize how intimidating they are and give them their distance.

        1. Wendy Darling

          They look so placid and chubby-looking that part of my brain just assumes they’re harmless. Fortunately I have a prefrontal cortex to be like, nope you are wrong. (Also… hippos. How can something so dangerous look so much like a bath toy???)

      2. Merci Dee

        My parents went wandering out west last August, and had an up-close experience with bison. They were driving through Yellowstone, and mom was reading a magazine while dad drove. They’d slowed and then stopped, but mom didn’t pay attention until dad told her to look out her window. She looks up …. right into the eye of a bison that was standing door-to-shoulder with their SUV, with another one peeking into dad’s window. They were in the middle of a line of about 8 or 10 cars that had to stop because a herd of bison was just wandering across the road. They said it was really cool being that close to the animals, but also unsettling because they realized that the car was no real protection if things went sideways and the herd got spooked and decided to stampede.

        1. Loopy

          That is true. They are massive. I’m glad they got to encounter how amazing they are without incident! I’m also glad no one in the group of cars was unwise enough to get out of the cars!

          They are SO big.

          1. Merci Dee

            Dad said the bison on his side was a male, and he was just massive. They got to see a few calves in the group scooting along, jumping and kicking up their heels every once in a while. The females were munching as they walked, and making sure the calves didn’t get mixed in too much with the bulls. Pretty cool all around.

            1. Loopy

              We have a calf and its with momma and ahhhhhh the cuteness. Bison are not typical thought of when people think cute baby animal but really they are precious!!!

      3. Not So NewReader

        My friend was just talking about a show he saw that talked about wolves being afraid of bison. He said the show went on to show this bison stamping a den of baby wolves to death and the other wolves just stayed back from the scene. I guess there are hormonal reasons (mating season) for that happening. But I never thought of a wolf as being afraid of anything.

    3. PlantLady

      Sorry, I can’t help regarding your prenuptial agreements question, but I must demand more details on the bison/Christmas tree subject. Do they eat them, roll on them, play with them, what? (So now I have this mental image of a group of bison playing a volleyball-like game with a retired Christmas tree…and that makes me happy.)

      1. Loopy

        I believe more or less all of the above except maybe rolling. I’m not sure how much a bison can actually roll! But I’ve definitely seen them play with them, tossing them about with their heads! It’s great to watch them interact with them!

    4. fposte

      Two lawyers, one for each of you. Sure, it’s possible to find a single lawyer who will draw one up, but the odds of its actually standing up, which is presumably part of the goal, go down considerably. I can’t remember when your planned wedding date is, but also make sure you leave plenty of time before it–a rush job the week before is also going to be precarious in court.

      There’s a bison farm a few miles from me (found out by taking a curvy turn on a country road and coming face to face with one); I might mention this possibility to people in my neighborhood who apparently were skipped by the city tree pickup program. The joy of giving one to a bison might be worth the dropoff effort.

      1. Loopy

        I would definitely give the bison farm a call and ask. I searched online to see if this was a common thing people knew about but I only found one reference. But ours (loose wording here haha, do not have a bison at home, bad idea) love them so much I’d definitely hope other bison people knew!

        Thanks for the advice. We are absolutely going to two even though the cost makes us cringe. We really want to make sure we do it right.

        The timeline advice was helpful too. We have just about 12- 13 months and I think it’ll take us a few to get our lawyers sorted and scheduled but as long as we leave about six months between the agreement and wedding hopefully that’s enough???

    5. Red Reader

      We just wanted a super basic “each party’s assets and debts should remain in their own name and not be considered communal property for dividing unless specifically entered into with both parties’ names” prenup, so we did a boilerplate DIY version from a legal forms website for $20 and had it notarized with no lawyers involved.

      1. neverjaunty

        Which may or may not be ironclad, depending on your state’s requirements. Even if you use DIY forms, it’s safest to run them by an experience family law attorney in your state – and run them by separate lawyers. If the forms are solid, you’ll save money. If they’re generic, out of date, or missing legal requirements, it’s not worth it.

        Most states have a referral program where you can talk to a specialist for half an hour or so for very little money; call your county bar association.

        1. Natalie

          Would something like this even be necessary if you don’t live in a community property state? I though the “whatever we bring is ours” thing was the default in most states.

          1. fposte

            No lawyer here, but I’d do one in case 1) I moved to another state and 2) we had any chance of sufficiently disparate incomes or assets that it was important to me to outline what “equitable” looked like to us.

            1. Natalie

              For a prenup in general, sure, I was asking specifically about the agreement Red Reader outlined that specified that everything they brought separately to the marriage remained separate. In a non-community property state I would think that is redundant.

            2. Loopy

              I’m worried about how to write a document that will supposedly make a separation easier when there are 129387103497209 different scenarios we might be in 20 years form now or whatever.

              I definitely am going to show up at the lawyers office already at a loss. I guess at least I’ll get a lot for what I pay for since I feel totally clueless.

          2. neverjaunty

            It can be more complicated than that, especially if you commingle property, or if there are later issues like starting a business or spousal support. And the default laws can change. And you can move to a different state.

      2. Loopy

        We looked into this option but quickly got scared away from it since some sites warned it could end up being iffy in court. This is super important to us so we are going to safest route. I’m not legally savvy so I can’t say how risky it is but we decided we weren’t going to take the chance.

        It was tempting though.

    6. Loopy

      I kind of love that a managed to create parallel conversations about bison and legal procedures. Hooray for odd combos.

      Love the bison love. I absolutely adore the animals but have a healthy respect for that fact they are wild animals and very large. They are wonderful to watch from a safe distance though!

    7. Bye Academia

      I think the cost is going to depend on your state and your lawyers. For reference, I am in NYC, so your costs may be lower elsewhere. You definitely each need your own lawyer. In our case, my wife’s lawyer drafted the prenup and mine looked it over and suggested edits to advocate for me. It sounded like that’s a common setup. She found her lawyer first (through google? I’m not sure), and her lawyer suggested 3 different ones for me. I picked the one who sounded most appealing based on their websites and called it a day.

      My wife and her mother paid for her lawyer because her mother felt strongly about having the prenup (we both did too, we weren’t strong armed into it or anything), and I paid for my own lawyer. I’m not sure how much she had to pay, but it was definitely more than me since her lawyer actually wrote the document. I spent maybe $2-3k for my lawyer to edit everything over several rounds back and forth? My wife probably spent $5k+. You can certainly work it out so you both cover the fees evenly if you want. Maybe I could have paid less by shopping around more, but I was happy with my lawyer and really couldn’t be bothered to expend the energy.

      Good luck with the prenup, and the wedding!

      1. Loopy

        This makes me a tact nervous but is really useful information. I think we’ll generally fall a bit lower than NYC (we’re not in a major city like NYC, L.A, Chicago, Boston, D.C. but we are in a city area) but that still more than we expected. I was thinking 2K for each of us.

        I’ll definitely talk to my fiancé about splitting the fees more evenly since are going into this pretty equally on wanting one.

      2. Anon post-nup poster

        This sounds about like my experience. My husband and I are in the process of drafting a post-nup (pretty much just like a pre-nup, but after you’re already married). Husband’s father is a lawyer and he recommended someone for husband to use, then she suggested 2 or 3 respected colleagues (from different firms) and I chose one of them.

        We are also in NYC and we paid a $10k retainer for husband’s lawyer (she drafted the majority of the agreement) and a $5k retainer for my lawyer (who is just doing edits). I expect we’ll get back a significant portion of those retainers once it’s finished. I would guess the total cost for both lawyers will end up around $6-8k.

        Loopy, my best advice to you is to figure out ahead of time what kind of terms you want in the pre-nup. Try looking up what kinds of things can be specified in a pre-nup and then talk with your fiance about them and come to an agreement. Or have an initial meeting with a lawyer, lay out whatever concerns have made you want the pre-nup and have her tell you what some options are, then discuss those with your fiance. The more the two of you agree, the less time it will take the lawyers to draft the agreement, and the fewer rounds of edits you will need to make and that will save you money because the lawyers’ hourly fees are $$$$. You’ll both need to agree to the terms in the end anyway, so better to agree amongst yourselves first, then pay the lawyers to hash it out while charging for their time. The way I’m approaching it is that my lawyer is there to write what I want in legalese, and tell me if I’m forgetting something important, or if the terms aren’t favorable to me.

        1. Loopy

          Thanks so much for posting! The absolute first thing that made me know my now finance was a good long term match was that our financial styles (is that a thing) sync up. So we will absolutely not hesitate to talk it out beforehand and it’s a great reminder to do that at length! I’ll need to research exactly what we need to address because I’m still thinking “Why can’t we just keep everything separate forever…?”, which I know is more complicated than it sounds!

          I appreciate the pricing info. If we get quoted that we will fall out of our chairs and finance will have a heart attack (we are lawyer newbies). I was hoping it would be maxing out at about 6k for us. I’m more nervous about the cost than the actual agreement! But it’s good to have to time to adjust to the reality! I do wonder how much lawyers fees vary by region… am I naive to hope it’s a a lot? I’m in a small to midsize south eastern city….

          1. Clever Name

            The “keep it separate forever” is easier said than done. In most states, for something to be separate property, you have to show that you had the asset before the marriage and it wasn’t commingled. Anything earned during the marriage is generally considered marital property. I just got divorced, and most of our assets were considered marital property. Including my ex husband’s pension. The two things considered separate property were a small brokerage account my granny started for me when I was 17 and an even smaller life insurance policy a relative gave to me when I was like 4. Everything else was divided evenly.

    8. Melody Pond

      Oh man – I’m so glad you started this thread, because I was going to post about this exact same thing today!

      Also, side note, I’m always interested in what’s going on with your wedding/marriage developments, ever since you posted about your engagement a while back (about how you were really glad you gave your partner time to think and process, because he eventually was ready to propose – if you remember, I responded and said that the way you described your partner SUPER reminded me of Mr. Pond). I feel kind of a kinship with you, now. :)

      We also are starting to look into drafting a prenup, and I have no idea how to find or choose a lawyer. We think we’re going to use DIY forms to hopefully do 95% of the work ourselves, and then each get our own lawyer to review the draft we’ve written, and make edits/suggestions from there. There’s a book I picked up from the library a while back, called “Prenuptial Agreements: How to Write a Fair and Lasting Contract” by Katherine Stoner. I perused it a bit, and it was helpful enough to give me confidence that we could write up our own draft. We’ll be ready to start writing it in another month or so, and I’ll borrow the book again at that time to guide us through it.

      As for cost – I’m really not sure what to expect either. We’re planning to save up a grand total of ~$2400, to cover separate attorneys for both of us. Hopefully that will be enough for the cost of attorneys simply reviewing/editing our draft, if we’ve done a thorough job. Our financials aren’t that complicated, so I’m hopeful.

      1. Harriet M. Welsch

        Estate planning attorney here. Just a head’s up that draft preparation on your part is not likely to significantly reduce your costs, if at all. Attorneys generally have their own forms they like to use, that they are comfortable navigating and are confident comply with applicable law. Bringing in your own draft causes the attorney to not only make sure a document reflects your intent and preferences, but also complies with the law. In short, it creates more work than if you just have a very clear idea of and are able to communicate your intent/preferences. All that being said, your research into the process before hiring an attorney is so smart! And congrats on your upcoming marriage!

      2. Loopy

        Oh man, we *are* super similar! I’m totally down for AAM kinship! :)

        My fiancé wanted to try that route but as I steered him away and I really appreciate the advice now below (above?) on how that may end up backfiring since lawyer prefer their own forms (it seems any easy route is too good to be true!). At this point my only hope is really going in prepared with what we both want and cutting down on the back and forth.

        We thought it would be about 1,000 each too but now I’m trying to ease into the realization it may be closer to 5-6K for the entire process. It makes me sad but then again I would never want to tell a lawyer they charge too much since obviously I could never dream of doing it myself/doing what they do. Just feeling a bit naive!

        It’s also at odds with me realizing (to my horror) I seem to care about that stupid puffy white dress and they are expensive. Fortunately my feet are on the ground and if I have to give up the dress (er and several other things…!) for the prenup- well one is going to be a lot more practical than the other!!!!

        1. misspiggy

          Almost completely OT but you may well find the dress comes for a lot less, especially as you still have so much time. I got mine at a wedding dress shop’s sample sale for less than a quarter of the original price. It was three sizes too big but a local tailor (not the dress shop) took it right down and restyled it to my preference. The tailoring cost quite a bit, but the whole lot was still well under £1000 and was completely right for me.

  9. CatCat

    Does anyone here buy Series I savings bonds from Treasury Direct?

    We have a moving fund parked in savings that I don’t expect to need within a year that I was thinking of parking in I bonds. There are no plans on the horizon to move either. I just like having the money set aside to do it just in case.

    Also thinking of starting a ladder to move some emergency funds from savings into I bonds. It would take several years to fully construct the ladder, but the rates are better than my savings account.

    Other than locking up the the money for a year and losing the last three months worth of interest if cashed out in under 5 years, are there any downsides here? I got the idea from a reddit post and am trying to do my due diligence before actually doing it.

    1. fposte

      I have some I Bonds. Why do you like them better than CDs for a short-term ladder? I think that’s the key question.

        1. fposte

          The composite rate is currently 2.58% for bonds bought right now; the comparison to CD rates depends on how much you’re putting in, but at $5k there are several that pay more. As you probably know, with I Bonds, your rate may drop considerably or it may go up, depending on what happens to the consumer price index, but the *fixed* rate for those currently bought is all of .10%, so it could get pretty darn now.

          I’m not opposed to I Bonds, but most people who choose them over CDs are interested in the following advantages:

          Deferred federal income tax (don’t have to pay federal tax on growth annually–this is good if you think you’ll be in a lower bracket later, but not so good if you’ll be in a higher)
          Redemption (and therefore growth) is partially or entirely tax-free if proceeds are used for qualified educational expenses
          No state tax on growth (no advantage if you’re in Texas, great advantage if you’re in California)
          Inflation protection (not likely to be a significant advantage for a year, but a lot of people buy them for the multi-decade haul for this reason)
          Getting more tax-advantaged bond space outside of retirement accounts

          There’s nothing really wrong with buying I Bonds just for the yield the way you’re talking about; over the short term even if you’d gotten better interest on a CD it’s not likely to be a huge difference. But most people buy them because they want one or some of the above-listed advantages as well, since they’re usually beat out head-to-head on yield alone for the short term.

          1. fposte

            BTW, that makes it sound like I think I Bonds are always a worse deal short-term. Of course they’re not; if inflation zooms up, the I Bonds’ rate will go up, while the CD rate will stay the same thing, and if you need to break a CD, the penalty rate may be greater than that on the I Bonds.

            1. CatCat

              Great info, thank you so much! So helpful! I would benefit from both the exemption from state taxes and deferral of federal taxes.

    2. hammock lover

      Look over their website. We had some a few years ago, and it was a very unfriendly thing to use. Lost my password, had to jump through several hoops to regain access, including medallion signatures and paper forms. Had to change bank info when I went to cash them out, again with the medallion signatures. While I appreciate they were safe guarding my money, they were years behind other big financial organizations.

  10. DoctorateStrange

    I finally finished the Invention of Angela Carter by Edmund Gordon. Carter died in the early nineties and I knew the book was going to talk about her last few years, but I still bawled when I had to read the line that said she died. It also felt weird to know that she started falling ill around the time I was born.

    1. fposte

      I have that bookmarked as a read for when I have reading time. But yes, it’s always disorienting to feel fresh grief about someone who was dead before you knew them. Speaking of which, Deborah Heiligman’s excellent Vincent and Theo, if you want to feel sad about Vincent and Theo Van Gogh.

      1. Elizabeth West

        I saw Loving Vincent (the painted movie) at the art house cinema, and I thought I’d cry during the film because I’ve definitely cried over Vincent before. Especially after seeing his work close up. But I did not–it waited until I got home, fortunately.

  11. Katie the Fed

    I’m just going to leave a list of complaints. I’ll be more positive later:

    I’m sick with a cold. I’m so, so tired. Nursing a baby every 3 hours is EXHAUSTING. He’s the greatest thing in the world but OMG am I ever going to sleep more than 4 hours in a stretch again?

    And now a government shutdown. Awesome. We’ll really enjoy not getting paid for however long this takes.

    1. paul

      Good luck.

      We’ve got a multimonth lead time before any stoppages trickle down to us (money goes from the federal HHS to the state HHSC to us in a maze I can’t really follow without a flowchart) so I’m hoping it’s done by then.

    2. fposte

      I thought of you, KtF; I remember your input during the last shutdown. Not something you really want to be a veteran of. I hope everybody gets to go back to work–or at least get paid again–soon.

      1. Katie the Fed

        Thank you! I’ve started just budgeting for shutdowns, but the shenanigans of it are so frustrating. It’s so unnecessary.

    3. neverjaunty

      I promise you that someday, the baby will sleep in until noon and be self-feeding by means of cleaning out all the food you just bought.

    4. Emmie

      Congratulations on the baby, Katie The Fed. You will get more sleep soon. I hope the cold and the shutdown end very soon for you.

    5. Courtney

      Oh gosh, I remember those days with babies and…ugh. I’m sorry. Baby will eventually sleep through the night! But I know those days/nights can seem forever long – hang in there, and do what you can to take care of yourself. Naps, baths with cool bath bombs, and new books were some of my favorite things during that time.

      1. Katie the Fed

        I’ve discovered Call the Midwife – it’s getting me through the 5+ hours a day I spent nursing him.

        1. Tea, please

          Yes, it does get better. My first would feed for hours. Stop. Then feed for hours again. I used an app to keep track of his feeds. The minutes spent feeding literally off the charts. I never knew if he would stay asleep or wake up as soon as I put him down.
          When he was 4-6 weeks, he started to get more efficient and spacing feedings out. Call the Midwife is great! Im definitely a homebody, but I needed to get out of the house and do normal things like shop or go to museums so I felt like more than a milk dispenser.

          1. Katie the Fed

            Yes! That’s part of what’s really hard about a winter baby – its hard to get out of the house. We’re having a bit of a warm spell so I’m at least taking him for walks every day.

      1. Katie the Fed

        Yes! I mentioned it in passing during a regular weekday post – it’s been a little busy :)

        He came about a week early after I went to my regular OB appointment and discovered I had pre-eclampsia. We induced that night and due to some complications he came by c-section. We’re both doing great, but one of us has decided the other one doesn’t need sleep, ever :)

    6. Merci Dee

      So good to hear from you again! I missed your weekday post, apparently, but it’s great to see your handle floating around again!

      Congrats on the little one! I remember the early months with my daughter, and I don’t envy you the constant exhaustion and interrupted sleep. I do, however, miss those sweet baby-scented kisses from the side of her little neck. And tiny baby toes …..

      It does get better, I promise. And in about 13 years, you have the rolling eyes, the exasperated sighs, and the general snark to deal with during the teen years. So much fun! ~sob~

      1. another Liz

        The 13 year old snark is my life now. It feels like forever when you’re in it, but these sleep deprived days will pass before you know it. And the first time she slept through the night, I woke up in full blown panic that the sun was up and I hadn’t heard a peep!

    7. Agnodike

      My youngest started sleeping a six hour stretch at night around four months old. She did it from 7 pm to 1 am, which wasn’t ideal, but she did it. We started doing a bottle for the midnight feed around then, so the nights when my spouse did the midnight feed I could go to sleep at 8 and wake up with her at 4, which was a blissful eight hours. You can do it!!

    8. Detective Amy Santiago

      I think you’re absolved of being positive right now <3

      Hope you feel better soon and glad that Baby Fed seems to be doing well.

    9. Jean (just Jean)

      Mazel tov! May you have more joy and peace than annoyance and evaporated sleep.
      Somebody shared this wisdom with me about children: “the days are long but the years are short.”
      Can you doze while the baby is nursing?
      Good luck with everything and may the shutdown be brief.

    10. Thlayli

      I missed you saying you had the baby! Congratulations!
      Yes nursing every three hours is exhausting. I’m sure you already know this but just in case Try to eat and drink at least an hour before the next session. I used to have a lot of brand on toast and poached eggs on toast and drank so much milk. I was basically a milk filter haha.

      1. Katie the Fed

        Thank you! He’s amazing – we’re crazy in love with him :)

        OMG I am a bottomless pit! What’s amazing is I haven’t gained weight (and I’m below my pre-pregnancy weight, woot!) but man I feel like I eat constantly! I have a snack station set up in the nursery and I just chow down while I feed him. I think all the money we’re saving on formula is going to feed me. :)

    11. Tassie Tiger

      I remember when you first posted that you’d found out you were pregnant….it’s amazing to me that now he’s born! I’m so sorry you’re not feeling well though :(

    12. Deedee

      I’ve been thinking of you – glad to hear baby is here and all is well. Congratulations! New babies are a lot of work for sure. Stay strong – it’s hard now but you will get to the point where you will get enough sleep again soon enough. So happy for you!

    13. BatteryB

      Congrats on Baby Fed! It just seems like yesterday that I was rocking Baby Battery and now he’ll turn 30 this year.

    14. J.B.

      Congratulations! You will sleep again I promise. And I’m sorry you’re dealing with the shutdown!

  12. Anon in NYC

    Going anon for this because the info in this post plus my regular username would probably be enough to identify me.

    I’m in a large choir that is well known enough that we sometimes get to do US or world premieres of new choral music. This season, we will be premiering two works. The intent of the program is clearly to be “woke,” and one of the pieces is themed on the experiences of slaves in the pre-Civil War era. All the soloists for the piece will be African-American, but our choir is about 90% white, and many members are really wealthy. (The composer of the piece is also a white man.) Which makes me feel really weird singing lyrics that are supposed to be from the perspective of the slaves — things like “our struggles will always be remembered.”

    I feel really, really conflicted about singing this piece. (I dislike it musically, but that’s a separate issue.) It feels very much like tokenism to hire AA soloists and sing from the perspective of slaves when so many of us have never come close to being the object of racism, let alone experiencing slavery!

    I love singing with this group, but I’m really uncomfortable singing this piece of music. I don’t know how to express my qualms in a way that matters — the board of directors is usually pretty hidebound and “this is not a democracy.”

    Any ideas?

    1. Helpful

      You could see it as an opportunity to use music to communicate and evoke a significant piece of history. You singing the lyrics doesn’t mean you have experienced slavery-equivalent struggle. You are an instrument that communicates what the composer intends.

      It seems like you think privilege prevents individuals in your choir from participating in making art in an authentic way. I’m not sure if I’m communicating this right, I’m on the fly. I do get where you’re coming from, but I think it’s not as automatically offensive as you might think.

    2. Laura H

      I know the social squick/ weirdness is the main issue, but as you also have issues with its musicality or lack thereof- that’s a viable angle of address- it’s more relevant to what y’all do… it’s the angle I’d use first.

      Also, as Alison mentions a lot- getting a group of y’all that feel equally or more squicky on the social issue together is also prolly a good angle as well. You’re prolly not alone.

      Good luck!!

    3. fposte

      Can you frame it not so much as “we shouldn’t sing this” but “if we go ahead, we should put preparations in place for the likely negative publicity”? Sometimes organizations are more receptive to the notion that this could bite them in the ass publicly than their members don’t like it.

      BTW, I think this is pretty common in ostensibly politically progressive choirs, too. There are what I call the “Boo hoo, Africa” songs (see also: “Do They Know It’s Christmas”) that couldn’t tell Chad from Madagascar, and while I love “Bread and Roses,” it’s super-weird to hear “No more . . . ten that toil while one reposes” from a chorus that are clearly the ones reposing.

    4. LilySparrow

      Yes, authenticity is important. But I think empathy is better than non-empathy, and thinking about slavery from the slaves’ point of view is better than not thinking about it at all, or only thinking about it as somebody else’s problem.

      African-American artists have had to put up with telling white-centered stories for like, ever. I think its not a bad thing if we normalized putting POC at the center of the story and let the privileged be the “backup singers.”

      I hope the composer used real texts and/or got plenty of feedback from people to make sure the work is giving healthy representation.

    5. Former Employee

      Keep in mind that the African Americans who are singing the solos have never experienced slavery, either.
      In fact, some may have a heritage that is more like that of President Obama, whose father was from Africa and thus does not have slave ancestors.

      I see it as no different from someone who is in a choral group singing Handel and they happen to be an agnostic or even an atheist, so “The Messiah” is just the name of the piece.

    6. AvonLady Barksdale

      I am also a choral singer (we may even have crossed paths– I lived and sang in NYC for a long time) and I know how this feels. I’ve been in similar situations. My boyfriend (also a singer) refuses to sing in our chorus’s holiday concert because of the way a particular arrangement was handled; he thought it was flat-out disrespectful.

      I have very little concrete advice to ease your mind, but I agree with others that if the goal is to shine a light on the slaves’ experience, then in that context it feels less weird. I think the fact that it’s a new piece and in English might contribute to making you uneasy; 95% of the symphonic pieces we all perform are all about praising Jesus, and I’m Jewish. It’s a bit easier to reconcile when the text is in Latin and it’s hundreds of years old. If you think the composer was trying to put the issue of slavery in a “traditional” setting in order to bring its lessons to the forefront, then I think it’s worth it to perform the piece.

      Have you ever done the concert version of Porgy and Bess? Similar deal: Black soloists, White playwright, Jewish composer. It’s not a perfect example, of course, but it’s a piece we do all the time (also because it’s such great music, which helps its cause). I would think of it from that angle too.

    7. Blue Eagle

      If your choir doesn’t sing it, would a choir whose members have an African ethnic background make the same tour that your choir is doing and sing it? If not, would you rather that patrons hear the lyrics and have a response to them or would you rather that patrons just hear about your white experience (or whatever your ethnic background is)?

      As for me, I would rather that the patrons be exposed to lyrics they might not otherwise be exposed to. But that’s me.

    8. Natalie

      I guess I’ll be the contrary person – I understand why you find this uncomfortable/inappropriate and I probably would to. I would take opinions you get from other white people with a bit of a grain of salt (including mine, I’m white) because it’s oversimplifying to say the message is positive, or this is the same as a hundreds of years old song that I have no personal relationship too. There are very real issues of representation being hammered out right now and this is a perfect example.

      All of that said, it sounds like your ability to skip it is limited. Does your choir do anything active to broaden and diversify their membership, and if so, could you get involved in that effort? I know with orchestras they’ve started doing auditions behind a screen to cut down on implicit bias; that would be something easy to implement for your choir (assuming they do auditions).

      1. Natalie

        I should add – I think folks are trying to make you feel better about it, since it’s not a huge giant deal and your choir is kind of rigid, and that’s a good and friendly impulse. But I suppose I would encourage you to continue to exist with the discomfort. Sometimes all we can do with systemic prejudice is *not* try and argue ourselves into believing it’s okay.

        1. LilySparrow

          Oh, I agree. I dont think the setup is all for the best, or without problems, or anything. I mean, if an arts organization wants to amplify stories about oppression, youd think the place to start would be with works by writers/composers who are living the fallout, and who are underrepresented, etc. Or giving a grant or space to another group. Or bringing more own voices into leadership or the production team.

          But the LW isnt the one choosing the works or the staff, and her options are limited. And if she drops out or tries to rally others to stop the production, the practical result will be a white choir agitating to stop black artists from having lead roles in a work about slavery.

          Thats not an improvement.

          I get why its hinky and yes, theres good reason. But if a story should be told, I think it’s better to have the wrong people tell it than not tell it.

    9. Artemesia

      The perfect is the enemy of the good enough. When you belong to a choir you sing what they choose. And they are clearly making an effort by bringing in AA soloists etc. I understand where you are coming from; we once belonged to a lilly white conservative southern church which began their annual report with ‘The word that best characterizes our (Presbyterian congregation) is ‘diversity’, so yeah it can be grating. But still better to address slavery and racism in the music program than not. They could be doing Dixie and a medley of plantation songs in keeping with their lack of diversity.

    10. Delphine

      I’d feel uncomfortable too. Have you talked to any other (particularly black and/or non-white) choir members to see what they think?

    11. Anon in NYC

      Thanks for the varying perspectives, all.

      I think I would be more comfortable with the idea of singing this piece if either or both of the following were true:
      1) It were composed by a person of color
      2) the lyrics from the perspective of the slaves were not given to the choir (sometimes we are also communicating, say, the language of wanted posters and voices telling the slaves to run, rather than taking the perspective of the oppressed)

      I have not talked to the few AA members of our choir to ask how they feel about it, but I have overheard at least one other white member say something like “our singing this piece isn’t promoting tolerance.” I wasn’t in a position to ask her more about how she felt at the time, but now I’d like to.

      For those who have commented that it’s similar to singing Christian religious lyrics when you don’t believe in that religion, I don’t think it’s a parallel situation. The choir is a known secular group; I don’t think anybody coming to hear us sing, say, Mozart’s Requiem believes that we are advocating the Christian view of death. But at this time, when this music has clearly been programmed as a response to the current zeitgeist of identifying and addressing institutionalized racism — to do so by having a lot of very privileged people singing from the perspective of people who were not only underprivileged, but actively oppressed, doesn’t seem right to me. I wish the composer had given us the voices of, say, overseers and wanted posters and background vocals to the soloists, and let the soloists (who, of course, have not experienced slavery themselves, but have surely experienced institutionalized racism more than any of the white choristers) tell the story from the slaves’ perspective.

      That being said, y’all have convinced me that it’s better that a piece like this be done by somebody, even if the wrong choir, than by nobody at all.

  13. Ramona Flowers

    Hey everyone, I just want to thank you all for your very kind words of comfort and support last week. I’m feeling a little better than I was, and have continued to find sunshine in small things, like hot chocolate with a friend, but then I stop and remember that something disastrous has happened. Not a death, but a disaster. I’m sorry for being cryptic. I’m okay. Upset but okay.

    I’m still struggling with the feeling that life will never be the same again, and trying to take comfort in familiar things, except they keep letting me down. An old favourite necklace snapped. I went for the dinner with a friend that I’d been so upset about rescheduling only to find ‘our’ restaurant where always go had closed down. All trivial in the grand scheme of things, but also contributing to this heightened awareness that things just aren’t as reliable as they might seem.

    Anyway. I wanted to thank you all. Your kind words meant more to me than I can possibly express.

    1. paul

      Musta missed last week, sorry you’re going through stuff :( Sucks about the restaurant too. Can be an unexpect twinge when something like that happens.

    2. Turtlewings

      I’m so sorry that even your little comforts keep falling through. I wish I could say something to help. I hope things get better. Even if life really is never the same again, I hope it can still be good someday.

    3. anon24

      I’m sorry you’re going through this Ramona. I’ve been thinking about you all week and wondering how you’re holding up. I hope this coming week is better for you.

      1. Ramona Flowers

        That’s really kind of you. I’m getting there. Somehow, somehow.

        I’m about to go out and may not get back to pick up further comments, but man I love this community so hard.

    4. Alpha Bravo

      It’s hard. There are events where it’s really true that life is not the same before and after. But I want you to know that that doesn’t mean the after has to be terrible. In 2014 I was in a bad accident. Seven skull fractures. Traumatic brain injury. I was lucky. A couple of surgeries and a couple months of recovery and I was back in business – but not the same. I function just fine, but my sense of smell and taste are permanently impaired. Some stuff is just missing. And I look different. Not a lot different, but not the same. Three months ago I lost the love of my life. Things will never be the same. But it will be okay. I will be okay. There is more life for me to live, and I’m going to live it the best I know how. One thing I have found to be fairly reliable in a chaotic world is this forum. I’m glad you’re here Ramona. Strength and peace to you.

        1. Alpha Bravo

          That means a lot fposte. Your compassionate rationality is one of the reasons this community is so valuable to me. I’m glad you’re here too.

    5. buttercup

      I missed the thread last week, but I’m sending good thoughts and wishes your way. I hope you feel better soon.

    6. Foreign Octopus

      Sorry that you’re still feeling down but I’m glad you’re able to find happiness in small things. That’s a really good place to start as there’s still joy there.

    7. Parenthetically

      I’ve been thinking about you this week too, Ramona, and I hope things get better for you. Internet stranger hugs or high fives or other comforting gesture of your choice. :)

    8. Cheshire Cat

      I’m so sorry about the necklace, and the restaurant (as well as the larger issue, of course!) Relatively small things that in better times would be briefly upsetting can take on more importance when life is not going well.

      I’ve noticed this week that, in spite of dealing with your disaster, you have continued to be sympathetic, supportive, and wise in your comments. The event of last week is causing changes in your life, but not to who you are. Is that another thing you can take comfort in?

      Wishing you peace and healing.

    9. Almost Violet Miller

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this, Ramona. When a life-changing trauma happens, remember it’s okay to feel sad and helpless, cry, be confused and unfocused. It takes time to figure out how things will be going forward. I wish you all the best in finding peace. *Hugs from an Internet stranger.*

    10. Detective Amy Santiago

      I think those moments of remembering are a little worse than the constant nagging thoughts because you end up feeling guilty that you had a period of time (however brief) when you weren’t thinking about what happened. At least that’s how it’s always been for me. And it makes perfect sense that little annoyances seem worse in the wake of something terrible.

      Things will get better. It will take time, but it won’t always be like it is right now.

    11. Merci Dee

      I missed your post last weekend, and I’m so sorry I didn’t see it. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this whole new trajectory for your life; you’re absolutely right that some things divide your life into “before” and “after”, and you can’t get back to the before part no matter how much you wish it. What I do know from reading your comments here is that you’re a very strong, very resilient woman. You’ve described dealing with some health issues that I can’t even begin to identify with, but you’ve approached your challenges with grace and determination. I know that you will face this episode in the same way. Take your time to feel things out as you move along this new road, and remember that you have a ton of strangers on the internet rooting for you! It’s an honor to be able to offer a few words of encouragement to an exceptional lady who takes the time to comfort and advise others with such heart and thoughtfulness. You’re a treasure, Ramona.

      P.S. I noted that a commenter last week had upset you by saying that parents were rolling their eyes at you when you called your cat your baby. I have 2 kids. My daughter is 13, has my ex’s brown eyes and my sense of wit and humor. My son is 7, has gray fur, 4 silent paws, and loves to perch on top of the fridge when there’s lots of thunder. I regularly name my cat as my son, and my daughter talks about her little fuzzy brother (or bubby, as she nicknamed him).

      The fact that you call a pet your baby says only that you’re open to love where you find it. The fact that some would denigrate you for calling a pet your baby says that their hearts and their minds are closed to everything and everyone around them. Believe me when I tell you this says much, much more about them than about you. :)

    12. Not So NewReader

      You are probably right. Life never will be the same again. As Alpha Bravo points out that does not mean it will automatically be bad. Good things, even beautiful things will come your way. Expect them, look for them.
      While these life events cause permanent change in our lives, these events can also change us. The change comes in what we value, what we place a priority on. These shifts are good shifts, it means that we are learning/thinking/growing. It’s okay to allow the event to shape your thinking and even allow it to put a new direction on your life. We are supposed to be moved into action by the disturbing things we see around us. (Good action, of course, not negative action.)

      In 2004 I attended a picnic with 11 of my closest family members. By 2009 all of them, including my dog had died. Five years. Life comes at us fast, eh? I can tell you that there are wide areas of my life that are better than they have ever been. If anyone told me I would find things to be happy about, I would have thought they were clueless people. Life is not always cruel. And sometimes life can be kind beyond measure.

        1. Alpha Bravo

          Not So NewReader is another commenter I treasure. The experiences she has shared here and her practical empathy have helped me immensely.

            1. Not So NewReader

              Thanks, guys. You will see this if you don’t already, so it’s not a secret. Part of our own healing is helping others with their healing/reweaving. We each pay forward what others have given us. The funny/odd thing is…. it’s not a heavy obligation but rather it’s a privilege. I am in awe of this process.

    13. MilkMoon (UK)

      Aw Ramona. My grandmother always said bad things come in threes, so with the necklace and the restaurant out of the way, that bit’s done.

    14. Grace Carrow

      Ramona, you are taking such good care of yourself. I am in awe of your ability to keep on keeping on. And you do it so courageously and gracefully. And despite what is going on in your life you still participate so wisely and compassionately in other people’s issues. I always look out for your take on those situations. I respect your insights.

      I know that the after effects of a disaster may not disappear quickly and I hope that you will feel able to get support here for as long as you need it. We truly don’t need the details of your disaster; the after effects of a life changing incident are depressingly universal.

      I hope that you can continue to find joy in those small moments of your life that bring you pleasure. I admire your resilience and your self care. I wish you well.

      1. Ramona Flowers

        Thank you for your kind words. They mean a lot to me.

        Thank you everyone and sorry I haven’t replied individually to all.

    15. Elizabeth West

      *HUG*
      I was thinking about this yesterday after dharma group–I think it’s the adjustment to change that’s so hard for human beings. And even when we know intellectually that life is change, when we encounter it, especially unexpectedly, we struggle. I wish I were there and we could go out and do something peaceful and refreshing. Please keep us up to date with how you’re doing.

  14. paul

    If anyone rememebers my talking about my grandpa…he’s still in hospice, and waking up for about an hour or so a day to drink a little water, then he goes back to sleep/passes out (I’m not sure which it is). Least we’re keeping him doped to the gills so it isn’t painful. We’re kind of planning a memorial for March-ish (surely this’ll be done by then?) in Cloudcroft. May wind up trying to hike the Crest Trail in Lincoln Nat’l forest while I’m there.

    I’m going over to my friend’s house today to help them pack up their heavy stuff for the move to Albuquerque. Gonna be bittersweet.

    Got all sorts of meds; apparently pneumonia. I’d been feeling off since our trip to visit grandpa and it finally came to a head after coughing hard enough to pull a rib and throw up. Lots of shots, some breathing treatment…finally starting to feel better!

    Been an eventful few weeks.

    1. LilySparrow

      I’m sorry you’re sick and that your family is going through this.
      I’ve done the hospice process twice now, with my mom and my aunt. It sucks, there’s no other word. I hope y’all all have good support and as easy a time as possible.

  15. CharlyLarly

    Need some advice on a sharp-tongued SIL. She makes nasty, hateful comments at the strangest, most inappropriate times. It always catches me off guard, and I have no idea how to respond in the moment.
    Example:
    SIL #2: I love Product X for my baby registry!
    Me: I’ve heard such good things about that! Have you also heard of Product Y?
    It does the same thing, has extra features, and is less expensive, if you want to check that out too!
    SIL(in an angry voice): Do you understand that being a parent means you make decisions for your child, and opinions of others are meaningless? Consider that before putting down her ideas.
    Me: …?!?!
    Other SIL. and I were in complete shock, as our conversation had been upbeat and sisterly to that point! I gave her a disgusted look, and pregnant SIL and I left the room.

    I could literally list dozens of examples here, and I’ve only known her a few years. No one in the family (except my husband and me)will cross her for fear of her blowing up. She is also a chronic liar when it comes to her achievements, job, etc.
    How would you handle this? Any firmly worded or zingy comebacks would be appreciated.

    1. paul

      I don’t do zingy comebacks on the regular (I think of things 2-3 days later most of the time) but I’m all for just telling her she’s being rude and excluding her from the conversation (tell her to leave your house if you’re at your place, move rooms if you’re at a third parties place, leave her house if that’s where you are, etc).

    2. Ramona Flowers

      Comebacks probably aren’t the way to go. I think the advice above about considering what you want from the conversation might apply here too. You’re not going to change her, so what can you realistically achieve that would feel okay to you?

      How about something like:
      I can’t continue this conversation.
      This isn’t okay with me so I’m going to end the conversation.
      I’m not able to listen to you while you’re speaking to me in this way.

      The focus on what you will do is deliberate, rather than asking her to do or not do x.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Agreed.
        You can also try:

        That wasn’t where I was going with that.
        OR
        Not sure how you got that out of what I said.
        OR
        I was just trying to chat with you.
        OR
        I was not trying to offend you or cause upset.

        I remember with one person I said, “Oh, sounds like you are having a bad day. I will come back on a different day.” I left. It was an hour ride each way to see this person, so the fact that I left so fast was noteworthy.

    3. CatCat

      Saying nothing and walking away seems like a solid response to me.

      I wouldn’t focus on being “zingy” if you do want some scripts for the future. I think trying to get zingers in is just going to egg her on. You can call it out by just flatly saying what it is and moving on.

      “Wow, that was rude. Don’t talk to me in that tone again. Anyway, as I was saying about Product Y…”

      And if she’s going to then push it, I’d go back to walking away, but you can call it out with a sort of icy dispassion. “Wow, since you’re still being rude, I’m going to exit this conversation. Excuse me.”

      You can practice on your own so you’re more ready when she does something like this.

      1. Turtlewings

        Yeah, I think just saying “Wow, that was rude/a weird reaction/unnecessary,” and then dropping her from your attention and returning to the conversation is the best approach. You make the point, for her and for you and everyone listening, that she’s the one making this weird, and then you refuse to engage or reward it.

    4. Temperance

      I’m not big on walking on eggshells, so I would probably just honestly pretend not to hear her or call her out on her shit, whichever seemed better in the moment. People like her thrive on drama and one-upmanship. Not giving in is awesome and will both let you rise above and will grate on her.

      I hope that this beast doesn’t have any children, because she sounds awful.

      1. neverjaunty

        This. Don’t engage. Don’t ask her opinion. When she says something just make listening noises and then go talk to someone else.

      2. CharlyLarly

        She has two! The worst part is that she typically uses terrible language in her verbal assaults, and does it right in front of her children. As in, telling her husband to “F*** off, and quit being such an inconsiderate a**hole” if he doesn’t jump up to get her a drink when she says she’s thirsty. The list goes on and on. She abuses my in-laws willingness to babysit, and is always asking them to pay for big ticket items- private school tuition and uniforms (!!!), new lawn mower, etc.

        1. Former Employee

          Was she always like this? It really sounds like she is suffering from some undiagnosed condition, whether physical or mental.

          1. CharlyLarly

            For as long as I’ve known her. She has a ridiculously severe case of Middle Child Syndrome, but I strongly suspect other (un?)diagnosed issues as well.

    5. Helpful

      Wow.

      If it’s regular and your other SIL is similarly shocked, I might be inclined to give a beat, say “wow” totally deadpan, and then continue the convo with your nice SIL.

      If she’s looking for a reaction, she won’t get one. Keep us posted on this.

    6. AJ

      Turn it around on her and question her behavior. “Wow. You sound really angry about this. Is there a reason you are so upset? We were just having a discussion about baby clothes. Why are you so angry?” Or “how can we help you to feel better and stop being so angry?”

    7. fposte

      Agreeing with others–“zingy” is about getting you self-satisfaction but it makes things worse. I like the “Wow” and go back to conversation, or the gentle inquiry about why she’s so upset.

    8. Kuododi

      I have the same situation on steroids… I have mentioned in the past that she has an Alzheimer’s-type dementia secondary to traumatic brain injury. Needless to say her tendency towards snarky, argumentative and passive aggressive has just magnified since her social filters are off. What I quickly learned is there is no zingy comeback to take the wind out of the sails of a person like that. The only thing that saves mental health and overall wellness is just to quickly extricate yourself from the conversation…..either verbally or just walk away. Good luck… y’all are in my thoughts.

      1. Kuododi

        Oh brother…. forgot to specify who I was talking about!!!! I was referring to my mother…that might have been helpful information!!! Brain cramp….

        1. Not So NewReader

          Yeah, there really is not fixing that type of anger. But in the end it’s their anger that eats them and takes their lives. Having watched this process a few times now, I feel more free to say, “You can have your anger or you can have your life. But you can only have one. Which one do you want.”

    9. DMLT

      I have a family member like that, and I generally use one of three things:

      1. Flat out say “wow, sounds like you need a break from this conversation” and then ignore her.
      2. Be overly kind “Goodness! What happened to you today that has you in such a foul mood? Can I get you some chocolate or something?”
      3. Exactly as you did. Walk away without saying anything.

      I wish I could say that any of these has improved things, but really, that’s on her and not something you can control. Best you can do is draw a boundary that you are not ok with being treated like that.

    10. Lissa

      I think I would look at her in shock and say something like “Dude, where did that come from?” Not zingy or snarky, just calling her out on how rude it is. “Whoa, that’s pretty out of line” or something like that maybe. Does she do this to everybody?

    11. Drama Llama

      This is her personality and she probably won’t ever change.

      I don’t bother engaging with people like this. Just say “Wow.” Then walk off. You don’t need to get in a debate with her about whether or not her words were appropriate. You don’t create further fights with her. It simply sends a message she is a jerk and you don’t want to continue talking.

      1. Snark

        Came here to say this. Blink, look taken aback, then: “Wow.” “Whoa, that escalated quickly.” “Yikes. That was sharp.” “Oof. Way harsh, sis.” “Whoa, where’d that come from?” And then promptly and pointedly walk away, find someone else to engage with. The zingy comeback just gets her back up and starts a debate.

    12. LilySparrow

      It sounds like she’s reacting to scripts in her head that are louder than the real conversations in the room. Zingers aren’t going to take you anywhere productive, because that sort of thing isn’t even about you. It’s about the person who criticized *her* parenting (or some other thing that made her angry/defensive) in the past, and she’s misdirecting it onto you.

      I think the two of you walking out was fine. The flat “wow” is also good.

      I might even do some reality-checking with the person she’s supposedly “defending.”

      “Wow, SIL2, did you feel like I was criticizing you or interfering in your parenting? Because that’s not what I meant to do. I thought we were bonding and sharing.”

      And then presumably your pregnant SIL would say something like, “No, we’re cool,” or “I appreciated the tip,” or whatever.

      It’s a way of staying centered in the present conversation instead of whatever tape your other SIL is playing in her head.

      1. Lissa

        Your first sentence is so great! I think this is it exactly. I know a few people who respond to things that weren’t even said, and it’s always a…blink, what…moment. I’ve seen people do it because they are very sensitive about a particular topic, and I’ve seen others do it because they are trying to look for something to argue about, or soapbox about, so they’ll “hear” what you’re saying in a different way.

        1. LilySparrow

          Heck, I’ve done that when I was in the middle of grief or processing some very stressful situation. But to walk around like that all the time? How awful for the person and everyone around them!

    13. CharlyLarly

      Thanks so much, guys. I like all of your suggestions, and it helps to have outside input. I **do** think she has a mental condition, because her mood swings are so pronounced. I don’t know if she has been diagnosed, but I do know that she and her sisters argue regularly.

      There is definitely no changing her, but your suggestions are golden, much more mature than “zingers”!

    14. Artemesia

      I would probably say “I don’t understand why you felt necessary to make a nasty hostile comment when we were just having a conversation about baby products.”

      And I would do it every damn time. But ignoring and walking away may be wiser. People like this get shut out and wonder why.

      1. CharlyLarly

        I agree. I WANT to call her out, but I swear she makes me so angry I know I’ll say something inappropriate in front of her kids. I like your suggestion, its much better than the awful things I’ve wanted to say to her!

  16. WellRed

    In December, I realized I had lost my grandmother’s wedding ring (fell right off). This week, it turned up in the laundry room. A small victory but it made my month!

    1. Loopy

      I’m ridiculously happy for you. My engagement ring is a family heirloom and it makes me crazy worrying it’ll fall off. May we all always eventually find those lost things!

      1. Ramona Flowers

        I lost the diamond out of my engagement ring once. It had been resized and apparently that can sometimes be the result.

        My husband found it on the bathroom floor. He has 20/20 vision, but it was on a white tile and I will never know how he saw it!

        1. JHunz

          Do you know for sure he found it with his eyes? I have definitely found lost things by stepping on them

    2. ECHM

      Great for you, WellRed!

      I recently wrote a newspaper story about a lady whose husband (then in high school) gave his class ring to his mom for safekeeping while he went out on the lake near his home in 1973; she lost it. He died in January 2017 and just this past fall the ring was returned. Apparently someone who was digging a seawall in the 1980s found it, put it in the cupholder of his truck, and only this past spring did a friend who happened to be driving with him notice it and ask if she could try to find the owner.

      1. Not So NewReader

        These stories are amazing.

        My friend went to the mall. Returning to his vehicle, he set his wallet down on the bumper to have a free hand to throw his purchases in the back of the vehicle. At the same time an elderly woman passed by and said, “Dang, I parked at the OTHER mall entrance…” He laughed and they chatted briefly. Finally they both went on their way.

        About 9 pm my friend noticed he did not have his wallet. OMG, it’s at the MALL. He waited for daybreak and started driving (the mall is 45 minutes from here). It had snowed lightly and with it being a public area my friend figured the wallet was gone. He got there and looked around. Not only did he find his wallet but he found another wallet. He looked inside the wallet to figure out who owned it. It belonged to the elderly lady he spoke to the previous day. He could not believe his luck. He drove the wallet to her house, a couple towns over. She could not believe he went out of his way to bring it to her. She said she had been up half the night trying to figure out what to do. He drove all the way home in half disbelief/total surprise on how this story went.

    3. Kuododi

      Oh that’s great!!! DH and I used my late grandmother’s wedding ring for our ceremony…(over 100 year’s old)…. I would be absolutely sick if that were lost or stolen!!!! Best wishes!!!

  17. AnnaleighUK

    Got totally drenched on our usual Saturday morning bike ride because rain and I fell off as well because some parent couldn’t control her child and the child stepped onto the road right in front of my bike. I swear I have never hit my brakes so hard – R couldn’t stop in time and rode into the back of me so we both went flying.

    Honestly I’m amazed we didn’t hit the kid. And more amazed that the car that was behind us didn’t hit both of us and the kid. The driver got out to help us and hoo boy, you should have heard her chew out the kid’s mother. Who, incidentally, didn’t care and said we should have been paying more attention to where we were riding.

    Lady, you’re the one who let your child RUN into the road. A fairly busy road at that (ok not at 8am on a Saturday but still) so y’know, keep your child under control. I was aware of the kid running along the pavement but literally didn’t think it would run out about two feet in front of me. We were going pretty fast too so it could have been a nasty accident. Ugh.

    We’re fine, not too scraped up but I’m going to have to respray my bike frame. R and his bike landed on me so literally no damage to him. We’re ordering in a big dirty pizza and chain-watching Agents of Shield this evening – I think we deserve it!

    1. Pollygrammer

      That sucks! I hope at least the kid got freaked out enough to have some sense knocked into it. Strangers yelling at/around me scared the poop out of me when I was a kid.

      1. AnnaleighUK

        I doubt it even had any idea what had happened or what it had done wrong – the mother certainly wasn’t bothered. She was very dismissive and insisted that it was our fault we crashed. Right, because I chose to fall off my bike in front of your child. I bet she would have taken a totally different tone if her precious darling had been hit by either us or the car.

        I have no right to judge how people parent but I am fairly certain that if you’re walking along a main road with your toddler you hold its hand or have it on reins or something, you don’t let it run free. That’s basic common sense to me. I know my mam kept us all under control by various means and there were four of us – if she managed that why couldn’t this mother control one? And what’s more worrying is that she didn’t seem bothered by it breaking away from her! I stress out if my cat is back late from his wandering, I can only imagine what I’d be like if I had a child.

    2. CharlyLarly

      Yeah…let’s let a toddler run out in the street, and then get upset with the people she causes problems for. Entitled much?!

      Glad you’re ok, and enjoy that pizza!

      1. AnnaleighUK

        Oh the pizza was great! We definitely needed it.

        I have the mother of all bruises on my right hip this morning and my left shoulder is really stiff – I’m still amazed that we weren’t hurt worse. I’m glad my car is an automatic so I don’t have to worry about changing gears with a sore shoulder until that heals up! Ow…

  18. Sawcebox

    I saw a few people mentioning Passion Planners in the work open thread. It was my first time hearing about them and I’m intrigued. I’ve done a little googling but I’d be very interested to hear AAM readers’ experiences and expectations with these! (In a non-work way, of course)!

    1. Okay then

      I was given one as a gift and kind of hated it to be honest- they work amazingly for the people who want to put in the work and time to do it, but if you’re only a little interested/don’t care, it’s too much.

    2. Peggy

      I had such a negative experience with receiving my passion planner after funding the Kickstarter.

      It was ordered in the fall and shipped in June. I wrote a polite and friendly email to the inventor and said I hoped she’d be offering discounts to those of us whose shipments were affected (there were major delays but I was in one of the first ordering groups but got one of the last shipments). I said that I hadn’t been able to use my planner for 50% of the year and those pages were now useless and she UNLEASHED on me. She wrote me the nastiest response back that I literally threw the planner in the trash when it arrived and pretended I dropped $40 cash somewhere instead of wasting it on the passion planner Kickstarter.

      1. Parenthetically

        WOWWWWWW. That’s intense. I might have burned the thing and sent her the ashes inside a printed-out copy of her email. Or at least really cherished that image in my mind.

        I funded a Kickstarter that went viral — the guy was hoping to fund 500 units and ended up funding 15,000 or something outrageous — and was thus delayed many, many months beyond the initial expected date of delivery, but the artist, though obviously frazzled and overwhelmed, was kind, straightforward, and communicative throughout what must have been a totally frustrating process. There’s just no excuse for being nasty to the people who enabled your project to move forward!

      2. Former Employee

        I’ve been using the Franklin planners for many years and had never heard of this one before. Checked it out online and see nothing about it that would make me want to switch, especially after your hideous experience with the inventor.

        She sounds like one of those people who thinks it’s her world and you’re just lucky to be in it! Ugh!

      3. Gene Parmesan

        I’ve used a different planner called the Productivity Planner and I really liked it. It’s very minimal–the main feature is that you have spaces for up to 5 tasks for the day, with trackers for how many time blocks you work on each. There are weekly planning pages, but no daily hour-by-hour schedule. I like that because I don’t want to re-write my meeting schedule from my Outlook calendar onto the planner, I just want to stay on top of the tasks without high built-in accountability.

    3. Alanna

      How exactly are they different from normal planners? (I had a quick Google but it just appeared the same as bullet journals or whatever they’re being called these days). Kikki K has had similar items for years, and I’ve never found them terribly appealing. I think they’re only really for people who are really organised to begin with.

      1. LizB

        They’re not any different from a normal planner — they have built-in spaces and activities for goal-setting and reflection, plus monthly and weekly calendars.

    4. LizB

      I got my first one this year and I’m liking it a lot! I don’t think it’s really all that different from a lot of other fancy planner systems or from bullet journaling, but for me it’s the right size and layout, and it’s a little less visually kitschy than many other planners, which I like. I’ve been having a lot of fun treating it as a creative project — making different tracker pages in the back, using color-coded pens, learning how to draw little banners and other doodles — in addition to using it as an actual to-do list and planner for both work and personal stuff.

      (After reading Peggy’s comment, though, I may just switch to a regular bullet journal for next year, because that kind of behavior is unacceptable.)

    5. Bad Candidate

      I haven’t used a Passion Planner, but I do use Erin Condren. Not sure how similar they are though.

      1. TL -

        I love my Erin Condren! I have a horizontal that I use for getting my sh!t together – it just has appointments, deadlines, trips, ect…and I don’t care if the parts I add are ugly. It is durable and cute to look at, so I like using it a lot.
        And I have a vertical that I use as a scrapbook that is really fun and I do try to make pretty. (I just put down one or two things that happen every day using stickers and fun colors.)

    6. anonagain

      I tried one for a bit and it didn’t work for me. I think I might’ve liked it more when I was in school or during one of the other periods of my life when I was scheduling my whole day all in once place. (I do my personal planning separately, so hourly formats don’t work well for me.)

      They used to have some pages you could print out to see if you liked the format. If they still have them, I think it’s worth trying for a few weeks. I didn’t feel that the other content in the book was worth the price if the weekly planner didn’t work for you.

    7. RestlessRenegade

      I haven’t used a Passion Planner, and after Peggy’s comment, I never will. But I do LOVE Plum Paper Planners–they have ultimate customization without you having to purchase pages separately. Monthly spread? Check. Weekly spread? Check. Hours, blank lines, personalized categories? Check. They have extra add-ons too, like budgeting, meal planning, gratitude pages, etc. My favorite thing is that you can start it in any month–perfect for the first year I bought one and I couldn’t decide what to get until March.

    8. Research assistant

      I love my passion planner sooo much. Just about on my second – you have to care about filling it out. I wrote down literally everything and it helps me track patterns of where I lost time every day (after work if I lay down I stay there for hours..) and is good for reflection. Don’t use it for work, but I use it for my life to plan my studying, cultural events, outings, etc. Can’t recommend it enough.

  19. CatCat

    How do you know if a comment went into moderation or just disappeared? Is there a way to tell if you have a comment pending?

    1. Ramona Flowers

      If you put in an email address, in the box underneath the username field, you’ll be able to see that a comment is awaiting moderation.

    2. Lcsa99

      In the past when I’ve had links waiting for moderation I could see it, with a not above saying it was awaiting moderation.

    3. CatCat

      Okay, thanks! Didn’t realize you could keep track of moderation with an email address. I guess I should put in my email address in the future. I had a comment earlier without any links and I don’t know where it could be. I’ll just hope it got punted into moderation instead of disappearing into the ether.

      1. CAA

        I think you can just assume its in moderation. Lately I’ve had a few ordinary comments without links that didn’t show up right away, but they all appeared later on.

        False positives happen sometimes with Bayesian filters. If there are a bunch of bad comments that use a couple of words and then you happen to use those same words in an innocent way, your comment is going to moderation. It takes a while for the filter to reset the probability on those words and “figure out” that they’re no longer useful indicators of bad comments.

      2. Detective Amy Santiago

        If you Ctrl F and search for your username, you can find any comments that are still in moderation.

  20. Language Student

    I’m going to Copenhagen in November with my girlfriend! Any ideas for places to go? We’re going for a week and can pay about DKK100 per person entry.

    We’ve done: typical tourist stuff. The Little Mermaid, National Museum, Nyhavn, Strøget, The Round Tower, Amalienborg Palace, the Botanical Gardens.
    We plan to do/see: Tivoli (missed it last time), Christmas markets (it seems quite a few were open from early/mid November last year, so hoping the same goes for this year), an outdoor ice rink, Kronborg.
    Considering: Frederiksborg, Roskilde, Fredensborg, Hillerød, Dragor.
    We like: museums, history, traditional food, cafes, theatre, music, walking, cycling, markets, exploring cities.
    Not so keen on: art galleries, tours.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Kathenus

      If you’re up for a day trip, check out the white cliffs at Mon Klint – it was one of my favorite parts of my trip to Denmark.

    2. Oregonian

      If you are interested, you can take the train over to Malmö, Sweden from Copenhagen (it’s like 30 minutes, I think? Malmö isn’t the greatest Swedish city, but it’s not a bad place to wander around for a few hours and enjoy a taste of Sweden (assuming you aren’t coming from Sweden already).

      I’d suggest Aarhus as a Danish city to consider visiting.

    3. CAA

      We liked Roskilde very much. After looking at the Cathedral, walk down the hill and you’ll find the Viking Ship museum. When we were there in the summer they had a Viking festival outside which was really cool. In addition to the typical weaving, cooking, fighting demos, there was a guy making iron. I don’t know what they’ll have in November, and it’s likely to be cold and dreary, but you can check their website and the museum is interesting all by itself.

      If you will have a car, look for the Six Forgotten Giants by Thomas Dambo. You can find the map to them on his website.

      Also, check to see if the Copenhagen card would benefit you. It includes trains to the places you mentioned, various museums and activities, plus entrance to Tivoli, but not the rides.

    4. Middle School Teacher

      I really liked Helsingør Castle (spelling? It’s Elsinore in English). Hamlet’s Castle. It’s about 40km from Copenhagen, if I remember correctly.

    5. Sprechen Sie Talk?

      Malmo IS technically an option, but a better option may be to go through Malmo to the old university town of Lund (one of the top two in Sweden and dates from 1666) which is more walkable and has some gorgeous buildings in the old town. I think there are a few trains that go straight through to Kobenhavn C, otherwise you change in Malmo from the Oresunds to the Swedish/Skane regional trains (the pagtag – and cant be bothered to make the special letter right now).

      Oh – apparently you can take a boat across from Helsingor to Helsingborg on the Swedish side that is only 20 minutes. Helsingborg is north of Lund/Malmo. You could technically make a loop down through there and into southern Skane and across back to Copenhagen, spending the night somewhere in Sweden. The only pain will be having to switch currencies.

    6. EmilyG

      I was there this past February, and if November is anything like that, I would triple check the opening status and hours of everything before you go. Tivoli was completely closed and it looks like it is closed for part of November. What we found over and over was that there were separate winter hours posted for museums, etc., and that they were wrong or they didn’t stick to them. We took the train all the way up to Helsingor, and the castle was closed that day. Planned the day around one museum being open 10 to noon, and another 9 to 3, and the second one was actually closed after lunch. It’s not that there was nothing to do, but we should have phoned every place to check.

    7. Nana

      Copenhagen: Harbor tour (if boats are running), The Jewish Museum…small but interesting, with video. Designed by Liebstold (?? – guy who did 9/11 memorial). Roskilde for Summer Palace, Cathedral, Viking Museum.

      1. Laura

        You MUST go to Louisiana, one of the most beautiful art museums in the world, with an excellent restaurant.

  21. paul

    I’m trying to go through my wildlife photos and select a few for prints. Trying to decide if I want a collage thing or a few big prints…and what printing service to use.

    I’ve got some good shots of ducks of various species, a nice one of a coot out of water (OMG THOSE FEET), a frost covered bison, a single good shot of pronghorn, several of snakes and lizards and one or two good ones of amphibians…having to narrow all this down!

    1. DMLT

      I am a hobby photographer and for my work, I generally prefer BIG prints for impact over a collage. I only have one sort of collage and that’s three big canvases in a row: a 24X24, 24X48, 24X24
      Where will you be displaying the photos?
      I do my paper prints through Millers (if you’re not familiar with ROES, you can use MPix.com – their consumer arm)
      My canvases are through CGPro, but they are for professionals only and I was NOT happy with my last order. Blacks were totally clipped and the canvas came unwrapped.

      1. paul

        just my office and house; pretty things to make me feel nice :) And remember the thrill of tracking them and finding them in a few cases (It took me 4-5 years to get a half decent bobcat photo)

    2. Loopy

      My sister in law does wildlife photography in S. Africa (she takes an annual trip) and she uses Shutterfly for all her prints she has around her house. I’m not the best judge but I think they are very great quality and she has used them for years.

      I also want to see the bison!

  22. Courtney

    I need to come up with an actual username that isn’t my name now that I have a job and want to be more anonymous on here. Where did you all get your username idea from?

    1. Turtlewings

      I love turtles and have a bit of a collection of turtle figurines. One of my favorites is a little plush turtle with fairy wings.

    2. Courtney

      To add to this…the first couple I thought of were Parks and Rec or Oxford Conma related, both of which I believe are taken. How about Fake Eleanor? Do we have one of those? (The Good Place reference, for those who don’t watch the show.)

    3. nep

      Mine’s a fraction of a fictional name. (And only in time I saw that it makes me think of Nepal, to which I’ve got zero connection, but which fascinates me.)
      As you can see a lot of people use names from books or television.
      I like the clever names we see on here.

      1. AnnaleighUK

        Every time I see Nep I think of a character from an old D&D session, who was a brave little halfling bard who once knocked out an orc with his lute. Your name makes me smile!

        (And aye, I’m a tabletop nerd!)

    4. Foreign Octopus

      Octopus came from me misunderstanding what someone said to me in Spanish once when I first started learning the language. I heard “El pulpo es mío” instead of “La culpa es mío” and I mentioned to my friend how the Spanish seemed to be obssessed with octopus as I’d just learnt their equivalent of fish out of water (octopus in a garage) that morning. It became a long running joke with my friends.

      Foreign comes from the fact that I live in Spain and not the UK (my birth country).

    5. Peggy

      I toggle between a few regular usernames. I use one for when I talk openly about work and never ever use that username for talking about personal details that could tie me to my other user name. I use another (this one) for talking openly about my life. And in the past I’ve gone totally anon for comments that are very revealing!

    6. Notthemomma

      A stupid show in the early 90’s. ‘Dinasours’ there was a baby Dino who would say that and my kid took to calling me that. Obscure enough that no one would recognize me, and makes me giggle.

    7. Trixie

      More than ten years ago, a former coworker gave me the moniker and it just took. Now, it’s pretty much my alter ego.

    8. Kuododi

      Mine is my DH pet name for me…it will take a bit of explaining as he’s an odd duck and no one would guess the origin of this for love or money. The first part “kuo” is my name in the tribal dialect where.he lived when he was in Peace Corps in West Africa. The second part “Dodi” is Hebrew for “my beloved.

      1. Julianne

        Where did your husband serve? I was in Namibia in the late aughts, and I know tons of people who did their Peace Corps service in Benin and Togo.

    9. Emily

      I should probably do the same – not for anonymity, but because I’ve noticed that I’m not the only Emily around here. Sometimes there will even be more than one Emily commenting on the same post! I haven’t felt inspired, though, so I’m following this thread in case it gives me ideas.

    10. Grace Carrow

      Mine is the heroine of the last book I really enjoyed. She’s a socially awkward scientist in an alternative Oxford, and she reminded me of my time there.

    11. Mimmy

      My username was given to me by a commenter who used to be very active – Jamie. She had offered to suggest new usernames for people one day. She loves Hello Kitty, and Mimmy is an HK character, and Jamie said I reminded her of this character.

      I used to use variations on my real name, but there were others with the same name; plus, I wanted some anonymity.

    12. Don't Blame Me

      I’ve used several – book characters and song titles are my usual go-tos. This one is a Taylor Swift song.

    13. Sprechen Sie Talk?

      I needed something that didn’t relate to other usernames I use on other forums, so I borrowed something my other half has used on occasion as a signature line. Come on, who doesn’t love Ellis from Die Hard? :)

    14. Life is Good

      Mine just describes how I feel since I moved on from a very toxic work environment. My new workplace has made a world of difference in my life. Husband comments on my new outlook on life a lot.

    15. Agnodike

      Agnodike may have been (depending on which accounts you read) the first female physician in Greece. She disguised herself as a man in order to practice medicine, which at the time was a forbidden activity for women. Her practice was mostly women’s health, which was also unusual. I picked her name as a username since I’m both a feminist clinician and a medical history nerd, although I’m not even a fraction as cool as she was.

    16. MissDissplaced

      When i stared reading/posting on this blog, i was unemployed (displaced worker) for 2 years and struggling. The name was for my own blog about work issues and unemployment, which i’ve since abandoned writing.

    17. Triplestep

      Mine is a swing dance reference. And thanks for asking – I really like reading the answers others have posted!

    18. Detective Amy Santiago

      When I first started commenting here, I was using a handle that I use elsewhere on the internet. I decided I should probably be more anonymous and had just binge watched Brooklyn Nine Nine. And I might share a few personality traits with Amy :)

    19. K.

      Super original – my first initial! Which has gotten confusing around here when other people use it. I THINK I am the original K. but I’m not sure (Alison answered one of my questions in 2012, so I’ve been around a while).

      I post in two other places; in one I use a TV character’s name and in another I use a play on a favorite animal.

      1. Not So NewReader

        You could be Special K. Friends called my father Special K, as K was his initial. My father was actually flattered because of the loving tone that came with the nickname.

        1. K.

          I have a friend who calls me Special K. I also used to get Positive K, after the rapper/songwriter (which I think is funny because I’m not really an optimist).

    20. The Cosmic Avenger

      I came up with this username as a way to debate certain strongly held opinions on a news website without having to worry about holding back because, as far as I can tell, I am the only person in the world with my real name. And since I was going to use it for a bit of crusading for causes in which I believed, I wanted something a little over-the-top hyperbolic, and this is what came to mind.

    21. All Hail Queen Sally

      Mine comes from some graffiti scratched into the sidewalk at a park where I go walking every once in a while. It always makes me smile when I see it even now, after almost 20 years.

    22. Jean (just Jean)

      My username met my criteria: simple and easy to remember. The parenthetical gives me the option of adding more zest [e.g., Jean (who is allergic to dust); Jean (who is hopping mad about X, Y, or Z); Jean (who likes ice cream); etc. etc.] without changing my basic ID.

    23. I'm A Little TeaPot

      Here :) Alison uses teapots as fillers for stuff, and somehow I connected it with Beauty and the Beast (Mrs. Potts) and the rest is history.

    24. Nacho

      High school Spanish class nickname. I’ve used it for pretty much every casual website and game that would allow it for the past 20 years (obviously if I need to be more professional I use something a little different).

    25. BatteryB

      Battery comes from my given name is the patron saint of artillery which relates to my work with one of the armed services. B is the first letter of my given name.

      1. BatteryB

        * my given name which is also the name of the patron saint

        Typing is not my forte at this time of night.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger

          The first thing that came to mind for me is Arthur’s little sister, from the Arthur cartoon based on Arthur’s Teacher Troubles.

    26. Femme d'Afrique

      Mine is descriptive (although I’m not Francophone), and also reminds me of a famous fashion magazine I used to read in the 80s. ;)

    27. Stormy

      I always pick something relevant to what’s going on in the moment. This one, I chose during severe weather.

      1. BeautifulVoid

        I think we’ve had a couple of Commander Shepards around here. And Kalros, of course. :D

        Mine is also video game-related – “beautiful void” is how Douglas Adams described Myst, another one of my favorite games/series.

    28. Fenchurch

      Mine is from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. It was this or Trillian, but I like my choice. Also she can fly.

  23. Dinosaur

    Anyone have any tips for making cute, professional braids? Or any products or anything that helps? I had a pixie cut for five years but I’m growing it out now only to discover that I suck at braiding! Part of the problem is that my hair is difficult: it’s thick and curly so every time I go to add more hair to the strands I get big uneven chunks of hair that makes the braid look messier. My hair is also pretty slippery but doesn’t merge new hair into the strands well. Neither of these problems have improved by brushing it beforehand. Any advice?

    1. Courtney

      No advice, but I can sympathize! My hair isn’t curly, but it’s thick and layered and braids just turn into a ridiculous mess. I’ve given up.

    2. I like French braids

      My hair is thick and wavy/curly. I like to braid my hair while it’s still damp and use a curl defining cream for control. A little hairspray to finish helps keep frizz controlled around my face. Hair does shrink as it dries so I wouldn’t make my braid too tight.

        1. I like French braids

          Nothing specific. I would go to YouTube for braiding tutorials. Also, as weird as this may sound, try practicing on a doll or another person. I sort of taught myself how to braid as a kid (before internet, I’m old) with a few pointers from friends and family over the years.

      1. Dinosaur

        I’ve tried braiding it while it’s still wet but then the internet said I shouldn’t because of breakage so I stopped. I’ll try it again and just make sure I don’t do it too tight. Thanks!

        1. I like French braids

          That can happen. I use a leave in conditioner every day and haven’t noticed any breakage so far. My hair is also coarse so that could make a difference.

    3. Cheshire Cat

      My hair is thick and curly as well. I have to braid it when it’s damp or it doesn’t cooperate.

      When I was first learning how to French braid my own hair, I would braid & rebraid it (because it was always messy) several times — until I got tired of it, or until it dried too much, whichever came first. Then I would put it in a ponytail and try again the next day. I think it took me a couple of weeks before I could do it more or less neatly every time.

      1. Dinosaur

        Good to know that it’s okay to do it when the hair is damp! The internet freaked me out with all the talk of breakage from braiding hair wet so I’ll definitely try that again. I love the idea of braiding and rebraiding until you just get sick of it, then trying again the next day. Thanks for your tips!

        1. Cheshire Cat

          I’m not sure if there’s a difference between wet and damp from a breakage standpoint, but for the record I towel-dry my hair and then let it air-dry while I do makeup before braiding it. So it’s not soaking wet.

          Braiding is a skill, and “practice makes perfect” definitely applies here! Best of luck to you. :)

    4. DanaScully

      Here to sympathise! My hair is *thick* and braids just do not work for me. My friend who is an amazing hair braider even tried and eventually gave up after four attempts. I think you’d need 16 fingers and four thumbs to braid my hair!

    5. HannahS

      Yes! Honestly, youtube tutorials and a lot of practice. Keep practicing, and it’ll get easier. One thing to keep in mind that short hair is very difficult to braid. I would say the shortest my hair was that I could make a polished looking french braid was probably armpit-length (from the back). If your hair is more shoulder-ish, practice things like braiding the front strands of your hair and clipping them back, or things like that.

  24. Book Lover

    How often do you start to respond to a comment and then just… not? Sometimes I have a whole answer written out, and then I think there’s no point because someone else has said it, or sometimes I decide it is too identifying, or that it sounds like bragging, or just that someone might take it the wrong way. I am just curious because I would say I post maybe 1/4 comments that I actually write.

    1. anon24

      A lot of times I see a comment that makes me think of something that happened to me, and so I write a whole response out, reread it, and then realize it’s probably not as relevant as I feel it is, and does anyone really care? So most comments I write I end up deleting, but sometimes it’s nice to type them out anyway and “get it off my chest” even though I just delete them without posting. I have a hard time writing exactly what I’m feeling, and several times I’ve written something along the lines of yes, I agree with A, here’s a story of something similar to happened to me that shows why I agree with A, and then someone responds and goes “you’re so wrong how can you not agree with A? A is clearly the right solution” and I realize I probably wasn’t as clear as I thought I was. So I don’t bother a lot.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Sometimes I don’t say too much when I see a response like that. I figure it is what it is. Some people will find some shred of value and some people will think it’s a garbage answer. Such is life. It’s up to the reader to decide what their own thoughts are.

        Most people who post here are conversational, so that kind of negates the negatives for me.

    2. heckofabecca

      I so, SO often have a response in my head and I don’t bother responding because I either feel unqualified to give advice or someone’s already said it!

      I had half a response actually typed out for a comment above and just… no, everyone’s already given the same advice!!! No need to hammer it in!

    3. fposte

      Frequently. I think it’s a good sign–it means that I’m doing some triaging rather than just posting something because I wanted to think it through.

    4. NoMoreMrFixit

      This happens frequently to me. I’ll start thinking of a comment only to discover somebody else already posted pretty much the same thing. That’s the only downside to this site – so many eager people willing to contribute! Of course that isn’t really a problem, it simply means I need to make sure I read all the responses before chiming in to see if I have anything new to contribute to the conversation.

      1. DietCokeHead

        I feel the same way. I want to be able to contribute something new to the conversation, not just repeat the same comment that someone else has made.

      2. Not So NewReader

        Sometimes one person gives a thought that no one else has mentioned. And I happen to think that point is a very strong, good point. If it’s something that struck me also as I read the initial post then I will post that I agree and add something. I like to do that because if there is a sea of comments that stand alone comment might get missed or skated by, especially if it’s brief.

    5. Peggy

      Raises hand. I read comments on every post (not every comment but always the top ones or the ones that are on very interesting topics) and generally think about commenting at least once a day. I actually post comments a few times a week.

    6. LizB

      All the time. I also post probably 1/4 of the comments I write. In addition to the reasons you listed, sometimes I’m really tempted to add to an off-topic conversation or make a joke, but I know that’s against the rules, so I type it out and then delete. :)

    7. DanaScully

      All the time. It’s usually my feelings of inadequacy. Very often I think to myself that nobody cares what I have to say, or what I’m saying is wrong, or I don’t bother because nobody will read it anyway.

      I do try my best to push through these thoughts. Especially on AAM, because there are so many friendly people here.

    8. kas

      All the time! Most of the time I start to respond to a comment that I agree with or to provide feedback but then I realize, I really don’t have that much to say about the topic so I end up erasing/cancelling my comment.

    9. Blue Eagle

      Probably submit about 1/3 of the comments I write, so I can totally identify with you. And – – I’m glad you wrote your comment to ask because I used to feel weird about not submitting everything but now I know that other people do the same thing.

    10. Nacho

      Often enough. Usually it’s because I figure out half way through that my opinion isn’t really necessary. Like there’s a thread a few posts up from yours about a choir singing slavery-related songs written by a white guy, and what exactly could I say as a white man besides “Boo slavery” or some variation of it? At best, my opinion dilutes the opinions of people who actually have important things to say, and at worst, I might say something stupid or offensive in my rush to let everybody know how much I hate something we all agree is evil and should never have happened (how brave of me). So I just stop and delete my post.

    11. Not So NewReader

      Easily 1/4 to 1/3. Additionally there have been times where I spent a chunk of time thinking and typing out an answer and the internet eats it. I don’t bother retyping because I am too pooped from the first edition.

      I do know that I spend less time deleting than I did when I first started. That is because I have a better feel for when I will not make any new insights into a subject. So I don’t even start. Not sure how to explain this. I tend to follow my writing, I don’t lead it. There is a flow, I start, but then the words come on their own. Sometimes I am not sure where the words will land. So I would re-read and then delete. But now I have a little bit better feel for what this is. IRL, I tend to think in pictures not words. This here is good to push me along.

    12. Kuododi

      I’m a fairly new poster but I do throw my two cents in pretty regularly. I do find sometimes that I will start a post but hold off because I’ll realize there are so many posts on the topic I was getting ready to submit that my contribution would simply be adding to the dog pile! Otherwise I will throw in my opinion and if it helps…great…if not…well I have only given up 30-60sec to formulate the post. No harm done.

    13. Almost Violet Miller

      This happened to me even with this very question.
      During the week, for work threads, I am usually late and therefore feel like I’d be mostly repeating the advice. I don’t want to do that for professional topics.
      In the open thread I post more because it seems to be a less formal conversation and for these questions I wouldn’t mind getting similar responses myself.
      Also, I usually comment from my phone and editing is really hard so I just abandon many of my comments.

    14. Artemesia

      The site used to bring you back to your comment when you commented. Now it takes you back to the head of the post and it is hard to find where you left off. I find that has cut both my reading of the site and my commenting. It is just not a very user friendly system anymore, at least for commenters. Maybe this is an attempt to discourage comments or over commenting?

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Any chance you have comments collapsed? If so, that will happen — because the reply you left is collapsed so it can’t find it on the page. If you expand all comments site-wide, it will stop happening.

        1. Artemesia

          Thanks. Didn’t actually realize that was my choice. Suddenly they were just collapsed and when I comment it puts me back at the head. I’ll give that a try.

  25. Carmen Sandiego JD

    So after much wedding planning and then some (eg. Contacting 16 vendors to book the only vendor free), things are slowly coming together. *knock on wood*.

    Also, I found stuff that relaxes me: kinder egg toys (not candy, just the toy), books, reading online travel and culinary magazines, walking, knitting. And lush bath bubbles.

    Anyone have interesting ways they relax? (Aka is the kinder egg toy thing weird? It’s like a fidget spinner for me…)

    1. Courtney

      I loveeeee Lush bath bombs. Kinder eggs do not relax me however, because one of my kids’ favorite things is watching YouTube videos of people opening those, and it drives me nuts. But hey, they’re popular videos of opening them relaxes you and you want a way to make some extra income! Haha.

    2. NoMoreMrFixit

      My go to activity to relax is making tea with loose leaf tea rather than bags. The whole process of measuring out the proper amount and getting the water temperature to the proper point for the type of tea is something I throw myself into and it never fails to clear my mind and make me forget whatever had me stressed out.

      For bigger problems I either dive into a good book, paper or digital, or I fire up my keyboard and pound out some tunes for a while. Bach demands enough of my attention that people can walk up and talk to me and I am oblivious to their existence.

    3. Cheshire Cat

      Reading and drinking hot chocolate (separately or at the same time) & petting a cat do it for me. Also, coloring books. I just bought one of ancient Egyptian scenes that I am looking forward to starting!

    4. misspiggy

      There’s a great mobile game called I Love Hue (Android/iOS). You have to organise coloured blocks into areas of graduating tone, if that makes sense. Guaranteed calm for me!

  26. Ramona Flowers

    I have an iOS/coding/techie question I’m hoping someone can help with.

    For about six years now I’ve had a bookmark in Safari on my iPhone called “⚲ Wish”. Instead of a web address, the URL contains the javascript code for the Amazon universal wishlist bookmarklet. When I select this bookmark, it gives me a pop-up window that lets me add things to my Amazon wishlist.

    Yesterday it stopped working. I’ve tested it repeatedly and it’s no longer competing the operation – things don’t get added to my wishlist. I haven’t done a software update and I can’t find details of a new bookmarklet code on the Amazon site. I’ve googled and found nothing. I don’t belong to a site like stack exchange or have the knowledge to discuss this on there. Can anyone tell me why it’s stopped working and how to fix it?

    1. Ramona Flowers

      PS I am now annoyingly going to vanish and have probably left out really key info to help someone answer. I really just want to know what would stop this kind of thing from working?

        1. Ramona Flowers

          Thanks so much for looking. That’s the exact code I’m using and unfortunately I’ve tried recreating with no joy! Really kind of you though!

            1. Ramona Flowers

              Cookies aren’t blocked and JavaScript is on. Cache is a good point thanks, I’ll try that!

      1. Someone else

        I’ve not seen anything for sure to suggest this, but if it did happen recently to you, it’s entirely possible amazon changed their API and no longer support the method you’re using. There would still be plenty of sites as resources saying “do it this way!” who may not yet have caught up that actually, it just doesn’t work that way anymore.

        Sorry, I feel like that’s not a super helpful answer, especially since I can’t source it as what’s actually happening here. But it is a real possibility.

    2. Cheshire Cat

      Have you recently switched to Private Browse? I prefer to use it, but I’ve found that some sites don’t work well in it.

  27. PlantLady

    Has anyone been watching the news about the storms/high waves that have been hitting the Oregon Coast the past few days? That’s where we live (not on the beach, thankfully) and I drive past several beach access points on my way to and from work. I am stating for the record that there is a HUGE crop of potential Darwin Award winners out here.

    “Oooh, big waves! Let’s go take a look! I’m sure those massive logs being tossed around won’t come anywhere near us. C’mon, Little Ichabod, grab your baby sister and the dog and let’s see how close we can get!”

    1. Dinosaur

      Beaches make people stupid. I just hope nothing horrible happens to anyone. I adore the coast, though. I live an hour-ish away from Lincoln City and I really think we have some of the most beautiful, wild beaches in the country.

      1. PlantLady

        “Beaches Make People Stupid” is awesome!! I’m pretty sure that bumper sticker would sell out around here…at least among the locals. Surely the Coast Guard and emergency services folks would buy them.

    2. Courtney

      Yes, people too often seem to have no concept of safety. Your description cracked me up! My students were discussing Darwin awards yesterday in reference to this stupid thing going on with Tide pods.

    3. Weirdo who likes looking at maps

      This may be my fault. I literally was just looking at a map of Oregon earlier this week and wondered, “I wonder if there is good surfing in Oregon.” I even tried to look at a beach on Google’s Street View to get an idea of how big the waves are.

      1. Dinosaur

        Just make sure you use a good wetsuit! My family has been surfing in Washington for decades now. The PNW doesn’t get great (big) waves but you can still have a lot of fun! Definitely give it a go!

    4. Hellanon

      The beaches south of San Francisco are seeing 50-60 foot swells – do a youtube search for “Mavericks” and you’ll see the footage. Crazy surf…

    5. Sprechen Sie Talk?

      Every year big storms come crashing into the west side of the British Isles between now and April and every year there are photos in the paper of morons out on piers or beaches to see the huge waves. Ok yeah, they are neat to see but why are you risking your lives and those of emergency personnel?! Inevitably someone gets washed away and never found and warnings go out but sure enough, same thing the next year.

      I think its a certain level of being awed by the power of mother nature but also not understanding just how powerful it really is.

      1. Elizabeth West

        I learned the hard way not to turn my back on winter surf in Santa Cruz. I was with a friend on the beach, paddling around in the wet sand below the berm, when he suddenly took off running. I heard something behind me and turned, only to find myself face-to-face with a wall of water. I just closed my eyes, made myself limp, and hoped for the best!

        A rogue wave picked me up and carried me in and dumped me on the sand. When I say carried, that’s exactly what I mean–my feet did not touch the ground. I was REALLY lucky I didn’t break anything. I found out afterward that my friend had a phobia like someone we all know *coughbirdscough* and he freaked out when he saw the wave coming but forgot to warn me. (He did apologize.)

    6. Artemesia

      Every year some family gets wiped out on an Oregon beach with sneaker waves they aren’t expecting. And there are signs everywhere.

        1. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend

          Super late to this post, but that video gave me a damn heart attack! And, of course, all I could think was, “But is the little dog okay?!?!” He was. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to forgive you. ;)

  28. Miss Elaine e

    Anyone here have any tips about using an instant Pot? Especially a good, easy cookbook with easy to find affordable ingredients?

    1. neverjaunty

      There are a TON of recipes online – you can cook almost anything just by looking up a food type or ingredient + “Instant Pot”.

      1. Miss Elaine e

        Thank you. I know there is a lot out there. So much, in fact, that it’s hard for a newbie to know where to start. That’s why I’m seeking recommendations here.

        1. neverjaunty

          Ah! In that case, I second Snark’s recommendation of Serious Eats (but take into consideration that they seem to like all their meat nearly raw and adjust cooking time a little upward) and of Dad Cooks Dinner. I also like Pressure Cook Recipes.

      2. Snark

        I’ve gotten burned a few times by amateur recipes – I trust Dad Cooks Dinner, Serious Eats/Food Lab, and Hip Pressure Cooking, because they’re all really good about testing and reliability.

    2. Snark

      I really like Melissa Clark’s “Dinner in an Instant,” but I generally approach it adapting my own existing recipes using Hip Pressure Cooking’s time tables. And, frankly, I’ve had to experiment a bit, trial and error.

      One lifesaver for me has been buying an elevating steaming rack, so the protein can be cooking down below, and the vegetables can steam above, which generally gets you close in terms of cooking time so you don’t have to depressurize, open, add ingredients, and re-pressurize. I also have just cooked other ingredients separately, then incorporated them cooked at the end.

      1. Snark

        Also, ALL of Kenji Lopez-Alt’s pressure cooker recipes at Serious Eats are reliable and awesome. I make his chicken green chile stew often.

        1. Quiznakit

          Oh man, I received an Instant Pot for Christmas and that was my choice for the inaugural recipe. It turned out so well!

        2. CAA

          His pork chile verde is also amazing. All the liquid comes from the veggies so it’s an unusual recipe for a pressure cooker, but the sauce comes out so flavorful since there’s no added water.

        3. Overeducated

          I second Melissa Clark’s book but I haven’t found the Serious Eats pressure cooker recipes as reliable. The chicken & chickpea tikka masala was so bad I threw out leftovers, which I almost never do, especially for a meat dish.

          1. Snark

            Really? I’ve made that a couple of times and thought it was good – what was amiss? I will qualify that by saying that I used my own spice blend.

            1. Overeducated

              The sauce was too thin, the chicken skin and spinach both wound up slimy, and it only got worse as leftovers. I like all the components of the dish, chicken, and chickpea curries and spinach, but together the textures really didn’t work for me.

              The green chili was much better flavor wise but I still had to simmer for quite a while to thicken. So I feel like the Serious Eats recipes still require adjustment.

    3. Elkay

      Frugal by Choice Cheap by Necessity loves her Instant Pot, I really like her style and she’s planning to put more Instant Pot recipes on this year.

    4. neverjaunty

      Also, this is a bit tangential, but I have become one of those people who makes yogurt now. Getting premium milk and using the Instant Pot makes yogurt that’s FAR tastier than even fancy store-bought. Team Yogurt’s directions are great.

      1. Middle School Teacher

        I make my own yogurt too! Premium milk is hard to find here unless I make the trek to one of the fancy organic stores, so I just use regular milk, but I grab the freshest jug I can find. It’s tasty and super cost effective!

    5. CAA

      For cookbooks, check out your library for e-books. One of my happiest discoveries last year was that my library has many cookbooks available on Overdrive.

      I was not a huge fan of Emeril’s pressure cooker book or the America’s Test Kitchen one; but I really like “Dinner in an Instant” by Melissa Clark and the authorized Instant Pot book by Sara Quessenberry and Kate Merker.

      1. A curator

        I love my Instant Pot and have three cookbooks that I like best. The Melissa Clark and the one by Laurel Randoph are the two I like the best. My reviews are in the link with my name.

    6. Nye

      I usually use regular recipes, but with cooking times / settings based on roughly equivalent recipes in the Instant Pot recipe book or online. But I mostly use mine for stews, curries, and other very forgiving, pressure cooker-friendly dishes. For sides like rice, polenta, etc, I use basic proportions / settings suggested by the best-looking recipe I can find online or in the Instant Pot book.

      I haven’t tried her stuff yet, but Heidi Swanson has gotten super-into the Instant Pot at her site 101 Cookbooks. Her recipes are mostly very healthy vegetarian, extremely Bay Area CA-type dishes. However, unlike a lot in that genre, hers are really great and very well-tested. I’ve loved most of what I’ve made from her site, and I’m a devoted omnivore with zero patience for bad recipes (especially if they’re bad because someone was trying to make them healthier). So she might be a good resource, too!

      The NY Times, especially Melissa Clark, have started including some Instant Pot recipes, as well, and their stuff is great. (Though mostly I cook their standard recipes w/ a tweak for the Instant Pot).

      1. Artemesia

        Interesting. I have made lots of NYT recipes in the paper itself and they have mostly been really awful. I had kind of given up on them after their dreadful post Thanksgiving leftover turkey recipe. I will have to look up Clark. So many recipes on line are not properly tested — we need a Julia Child of the Instapot.

        1. Middle School Teacher

          That’s so interesting! I’d say 90% of nyt recipes I’ve tried have been awesome. Melissa Clark and Sam Sifton are my go-to’s.

    7. Artemesia

      I just got one and am just going on line and trying things. so far haven’t found anything great. The boeuf bourguignon was meh. Next big try will be short ribs. Have made rice and hard boiled eggs but it just seems like a lot of equipment for something so easy to do on the stove. The jury is still out. We used a pressure cooker 35/40 years ago with our young family just to manage cooking things like stews after a day at work for both of us and have used crock pots so I am hoping the instapot will eventually be worth having, but haven’t found fabulous stuff yet.

  29. Anne

    Is it okay to mark/highlight/annotate religious texts?

    I think this is something that’s carried over from English class in high school, but I tend to make notes on books (that I own obviously, won’t do that to borrowed items) and mark passages I found interesting or would want to go back to. I’m not a religious person at all but I recently got interested the topic and wanted to read some of the texts for myself, but I’m not sure if it’d be disrespectful if I was to write or put post-its in (say) the Bible, regardless of my own beliefs. Any thoughts?

    1. anon24

      Yes! If it’s yours, you can do as you like. I’ve seen many Bibles and other study/religious books that have so much highlighted, underlined, and written on pages that I can’t see how anyone can actually read it anymore, but that’s how the owner likes it. There’s no disrespect there. I feel like it shows that you are actually thinking about what’s in the book, whether you are writing notes agreeing or disagreeing with what’s written.

    2. Lcsa99

      When I was much more religious (20+ years ago. Consider myself agnostic now) I was always encouraged to highlight my bible to make it easier to find passages. I don’t think I would make notes on the pages, but plenty of bibles I’ve seen had blank pages at the back for just that purpose. The only thing I would be concerned about is if it had the almost tissue thin pages of some bibles. Highlighting or even underlining in those can make it hard to read or rip the pages.

      1. D.W.

        Agreed on the weight of the paper. I highlight and write in my Bible. The first one I owned had the wafer thin paper (love the sound it makes when turning pages), but it is horrible when note taking. Ink bled right through and ripped my pages.

        Go crazy with the writing and highlights, just make sure the paper weight can withstand it.

    3. Miss Elaine e

      If it’s your own, it’s probably fine (at least for a Bible). Maybe have a study copy you can mark up and a clean copy….?
      On a similar note, I’ve
      Ell heard talks from clergy pleading with listeners to treat Bibles with respect: Don’t leave them on the floor, set drinks etc. on them, dog-ear the pages etc. It sounds like your studying, which is good, but be aware that treating Sacred books casually like this can be considered offensive.

    4. fposte

      I believe that’s a version of faith-based arts and crafts in some circles, in fact. Looks like there are a lot of Pinterest suggestions.

      1. Natalie

        Thomas Jefferson rather famously cut apart a Bible and repasted it to together with all of the supernatural stuff removed.

    5. Quiznakit

      Heck, one of the marketing lines for Zebra Mildliners points out that they’re great for highlighting Bible verses.

    6. Temperance

      I grew up pretty religious, and it was considered totally fine to mark up your bible. It was actually considered a really good thing, since it showed that you are really reading it and making an effort.

    7. Kuododi

      Speaking as someone with a theology Master’s degree I can safely tell you to relax. All of my Bibles are marked up…all of DH Bibles are marked up….(we met at seminary). All of our seminary friends have marked up Bibles….you see the pattern!!! ;)

    8. OperaArt

      My pastor’s Bible is filled with notes, highlights, Post-Its…
      I figure if a pastor with a doctorate in theology thinks marking up a Bible is a good thing, it’s OK for you to mark up one. (I can’t answer for other religion’s texts.)

      1. Babs

        The strict rules apply to the Arabic Quran. If you’re reading an English translation, that’s considered an interpretation and not the actual Quran. So I think OP would be fine annotating their English translation, if that floats their boat. Unless they have a version that includes both English and Arabic.

    9. SAHM

      My mom has had a bible forever that is literally falling apart now (missing spine covering, pages falling out, etc) that thing is full of her notes, highlights, and all sorts of writing. I think if God calls the bible the “living breathing word of God” than when you write in it, aren’t you interacting with God’s word? Carrying on a conversation with Him? At least that’s how I view it, I’m just adding my piece of the conversation, my questions, what struck me and stuff.

    10. Not So NewReader

      Religious stores sell colored pencils for exactly that reason. Some people pick a color theme and circle or shade that theme where ever it occurs in the bible. For example, someone might pick the color blue and decide to circle all the different names used to refer to God.

      No, this is considered respectful because it is considered studying the book. Even if a person is reading with doubt or disbelief that person is still studying the book. Sincere study is not offensive or disrespectful.

      On a more practical plane, some folks mark up their bibles with the idea that in decades to come their children might be interested in seeing what their parents found to be important or significant to them. So the bible becomes an heirloom because of who marked it up.

    11. LilySparrow

      I don’t know about other traditions, but “Bible journalling” is a big trend right now. People do artwork on the pages as a meditation on a particular text. You can even get journalling editions that have extra space in the margins for that purpose.
      I don’t do that, but I’ve underlined & made notes in my Bible my whole life.

  30. Miss Elaine e

    Anyone have any tips for coping with dental appointments? I have an appointment on Monday and I’m the most fearful patient ever. I need a crown replaced and I’m told the decay may go down to the nerve and also the tooth may crack during the procedure!!!!! How bad is a root canal generally?

    1. nep

      I’ve had several root canals. They were always less unpleasant than I’d expected.
      Have you been going to this dentist for a while? How is she/he? I think much depends on the dentist and assistant.
      I hope your dentist office staff will be kind and accommodating. For me one of the most important parts of their role is to ease the process for people who are particularly fearful.
      I really think in these cases the fear is generally a lot bigger than the reality. You’ll get through it. All the best.

      1. Miss Elaine e

        Sadly, my previous dentist just retired. This will be my second visit w
        With his replacement who I just met last week. He alluded to several “tricks” he can use to help me but wasn’t specific. The previous one used Novocaine and nitrous oxide but nothing else and sent people elsewhere for things like root canals.

      2. Loopy

        This may not help you with this appointment, but I had dental phobia (made that term up…don’t know if there’s a real one) that kept me from a dentist for five years. Eventually I found one that catered to anxious patients and they were amazing at putting me at ease. They helped me have good / non-traumatic experiences that went a long way towards a long term solution! It’s worth Googling to see if anyone in your area caters to anxious dental patients!

    2. Dinosaur

      Will you be provided nitrous/laughing gas? It helps me so, so much. I’ve never had a root canal so I can’t speak to that, but I highly recommend asking for nitrous if dental appointments are hard for you and you’re comfortable with being a bit out of it for 15 minutes or so after the appointment.

      1. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)

        Nitrous has different effects on different people, though. The one time they used it on me, I was loopy for hours afterward. It did numb things somewhat, but not enough to make up for how discombobulated I was. (I guess the same is true for any kind of treatment, though.)

    3. PlantLady

      Personally, I find that root canals are nowhere near as horrible as “they” say they are. And having had crowns done both with and without root canals, I’d much rather have the r.c. done. Once you get past the initial deadening of the area, it’s mostly just normal dental annoyances – fingers in the mouth, weird noises and tugging, etc.

      Also, a lot of times if you let the dental office know up front that you’re anxious about everything, they will go out of their way to help soothe your worries. Dentists know they aren’t anyone’s favorite people to see, and most will do what they can if they know they have a concerned patient. Good luck!

      1. Cheshire Cat

        Agreed! When I had a root canal a few years back, my dentist told me that the process was much less painful than it used to be. The worst part was keeping my mouth open for two hours or so (there were a few breaks, but still). I had no pain afterwards.

        1. Elizabeth West

          I’ve only had one and that was the worst for me. My jaw and neck hurt afterward from holding the position. But it wasn’t excruciating–a little ibuprofen took care of it and the actual procedure didn’t hurt. I’m afraid I wasn’t the best patient, however, since I was so uncomfortable.

    4. Natalie

      Nitrous oxide is an anxiolytic (anti-anxiety drug) so if they have that available it may help. Alternatively, could you ask them or your gp for a prescription for Valium or something else mild that will help you relax before the procedure? You would need someone to drive you, I think, but it’s worth it if you can get to the appointment without having a panic attack.

      1. Kuododi

        I had a dentist who would give a one time dose of Valium for his patients who had anxiety and had to have any proceedures more complicated than a routine cleaning and checkup. (Myself included). He wouldn’t give an extended perscription… just the one dose for the procedure itself. I did get a new appreciation for why people become dependent on benzodiazepine. About 1/2 he after I took the pill and was on my way to the dentist office for the proceedures, I felt so relaxed I didn’t care if someone gave me a root canal or took out all my teeth!!!

    5. Hellanon

      I have a high tolerance for pain but limited patience for fussed at, and I found the (two simultaneous) root canals I have to have more annoying than anything else. You might consider earbuds and an engaging audiobook/podcast/live broadcast of the Ring Cycle, whatever will keep you from listening to the drill… but really, more irksome than painful.

    6. CatCat

      I’m also a fearful patient. My heart races, my palms sweat, it blows. This, unfortunately, can impact the numbing agent. I now always get the nitrous oxide gas for anything that involves drilling. I had a root canal and had the gas the whole time. Worked perfectly. No problems. If you haven’t had it before, you’re totally aware of going on, but the anxiety goes away. You know, but don’t care, and maybe feel a little floaty. It also wears off really fast once they stop administering it so you can drive yourself home.

      I have to pay out of pocket for the gas (something like $70), but it is so worth it.

      1. Turtlewings

        “you’re totally aware of going on, but the anxiety goes away. You know, but don’t care, and maybe feel a little floaty.” Excellent description, and much better than what I was told when going in for my wisdom tooth extraction — that it would feel dreamy and floaty *and that I wouldn’t remember it later.* The idea of experiencing something (especially something possibly traumatic) and not remembering it later freaked me out so badly, I fled the exam room and locked myself in the dentist’s bathroom. (Eventually my sister was able to talk me out. It took a while.)

        It took massive amounts of the gas to overcome my level of adrenaline! But guess what? I remember every darn second of the surgery, possibly because I made up my mind that I WAS GONNA. And the actual experience was not bad at all. At one point I decided I was bobbing in the ocean that I could see in a painting on the wall; at another, that glimpsing my own blood was nothing alarming because this was actually a CSI episode and none of it was real. I was perfectly aware that none of that was true, but I chose to believe it anyway because that was more comforting. It was a very relaxed and dream-like state.

        Idk hopefully that’s helpful information.

        1. CatCat

          Yes! I actually think it makes me a better patient, if that makes sense. I can be a better participant in my care because I am not blocked by anxiety.

    7. Inky

      I am/was extremely dental phobic – had not been to a dentist in over ten years, panic attacks before and after each appointment, crying at every appointment for about six months, couldn’t actually manage to look my dentist in the face for three appointments.

      Now I still get anxiety about going, but it’s very mild and I sometimes look forward to seeing the dentist and the hygienists. Over the span of about two years I had four teeth removed, five root canals with crowns, five crowns without root canals, and four implants.

      My first suggestion would be to figure out what exactly is making you scared. Is it fear of the cost, or of being judged, or pain, or fear of not knowing what’s going on? Because those would all need to be addressed slightly differently. It sounds like maybe it’s fear of pain and not knowing what’s going on, and for that I suggest:
      looking up information about how a root canal works so that you know what will happen, and while it’s happening you can mentally go ‘oh so now they’re doing this’
      making sure your dentist understand that you are scared and that they are helpful about it, and possibly asking if they can describe what they are doing as they do it
      practice techniques to calm yourself, because the more freaked out you are, the more it will feel like it hurts. just taking deep breaths or asking for a moment can help a lot.
      Check out the dental phobia forums as well; they have a lot of advice on how to deal with different types of fear.

      Personally, out of all the procedures I’ve had done, I much prefer a root canal over everything else! As long as they’ve made sure to get you completely numb (for me they did a block of the whole quadrant of my mouth rather than one tooth), I felt absolutely nothing other than pressure. it’s a long time to hold your mouth open, but my dentist gave me breaks. Compared to getting a tooth pulled or an implant, there was almost zero pain the next day, and I had the relief of knowing that tooth is pretty much done with. Worst comes to worst, they didn’t get quite everything, or the tooth cracks further down the road, and then I get it taken out (no more pain if ti’s gone!) and/or replaced with an implant/bridge. My biggest problem is that I find the injections to numb me incredibly painful – if that’s the case for you, try to make sure you don’t hold your breath as they inject you, instead taking a deep breath right before and slowly letting it out as they are injecting.

      My last tip would be making sure you have a dentist you like and trust, and that has shown willingness to work with you, not just tolerate your fear or even be impatient with it. I went to five other dentists before I settled on the one I am with, and the dentist themselves can make SUCH a difference.

    8. Pollygrammer

      I’ve had a lot of dental work, and still the most unpleasant memory I have from a dentist is that time the technician overfilled the impression tray and the compound-goo overflowed and tried to go down my throat.

      1. Inky

        OMG I had a very similar experience with an overfull tray that set off my gag reflex – only I also had a cold and couldn’t breathe through my nose because I was so stuffed up. So every time I took a breath I’d gag and try to stop it which made my eyes water and my sinuses run and so I could breathe even less. And the technician just kept telling me they’d have to do it again if this one didn’t cone out, so just sat there and watch 15 year old me sobbing and gagging for however long it took (FOREVER).

        I still can’t handle getting impressions at all, and people tend to laugh when I tell them I’d rather have a root canal or a tooth pulled than get an impression.

        1. Elizabeth West

          I broke a tooth once and have to have it extracted–I had to go to an oral surgeon for that because the root was so deep. They gave me a little nitrous and I just sort of sat there and thought about the beach. It didn’t hurt at all, but the tooth was so difficult to remove that at one point, he was scraping and pulling really hard. The reverberations sort of ricocheted around in my head and for one brief moment, I was completely aware of my skull. That was SO WEIRD.

    9. OperaArt

      Can’t answer as to the anxiety, but I’ve had a couple of root canals. They weren’t that bad, nothing like the horror people seem to have about them. I’ve had fillings that were more annoying to get.

    10. Merci Dee

      I’ve had two crowns.

      The first involved a root canal, and the procedure took a bit of time to complete. My dentist was very thorough – he could only find three roots on my tooth and knew that was unusual, so he took a couple of quick x-rays to check that he wasn’t missing anything. Thankfully, he found the fourth root for my tooth, did his thing, and got me set up with the temporary crown. I had zero pain from my tooth, but my jaw ached a little for three days from holding my mouth wide-open for three hours.

      The second crown was put on a tooth that had already been filled years ago, and had a corner that sheared off while I was eating popcorn and came down on a hull. That one went so much faster since they didn’t have to remove the pulp, and didn’t hurt afterwards.

      The procedures aren’t bad at all these days. You should definitely let your dentist know about your anxiety, because dentists are aware that so many people have anxiety and phobias about these procedures. Aaaaaand… maybe ask about a jaw block to help keep your mouth open without strain on your part. :)

    11. Yetanotherjennifer

      Some device to listen to music or podcasts and good headphones can really help you tune things out. Informative is better than funny, unless you can listen without laughing. Oh, and sunglasses, or maybe even a sleep mask. You could also set up some hand signals with your dentist so you can communicate things. And don’t forget you’re the customer. Sure she’s on a schedule but if you need an extra second to collect yourself before you open your mouth once more then take it. I also like to tap my finger on the arm rest when I’m feeling anxious. It will keep you more relaxed than if you grip them.

    12. Lizabeth

      An iPod loaded with your favorite music or an audio book is your friend…except during the drilling part which comes through no matter what I’ve got playing.

      1. Al Lo

        My dentist’s office has TVs with Netflix — one on an arm in front of you and one on the ceiling, so whatever direction you’re facing, you can see it — and noise-cancelling headphones. Last time I went, I actually found I had to keep one headphone kind of half off an ear for part of the appointment so I could hear the instructions from the dentist.

    13. KR

      I need a root canal/crown badly on one of my back teeth so I really appreciate these responses and this question.

    14. Cat

      When I had my root canal they were able to give me a small Valium prescription, which I’m guessing is pretty typical and something that your dentist might also be able to do for you. Honestly it was not nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be and I probably would have been just fine without the Valium, although I would still recommend bringing some music to listen to. I experienced no pain at all and I’d compare it to getting a cavity filled but it took a lot longer. My strongest recollection is actually the fact that it kind of smelled like those little wafer cookie bars when they were drilling for some reason.

    15. Not So NewReader

      A topic near and dear to my heart lately. I am not usually upset by the dentist. But because I need extensive work I am feeling overwhelmed. It’s a number of reasons, the costs, the amount of times I have to go, the feeling like this will never be over, the pain and the worry.

      So here is what I have so far:
      I take a turmeric and pepper supplement to help with pain. I also take large amount of vitamin D and K. I do this routinely, even if I do not have an appointment this week. This is a preemptive measure.
      For this last tooth, the doc had me pop 4 ibuprofen before he even started. I haven’t used OTCs in 25 years but I did this time! The three previous teeth I did not need an OTC.
      I dress warmly because I get cold sitting in the chair for hours. When they offer a blanket I say yes to that also. You can shed these things if you get too warm, but you cannot make them materialize if you do not have them.
      I drink plenty of water in the days before the actually appointment. I get very thirsty, to the point of distraction if I do not do this.
      The dentist I have now is the best one I have ever seen at making sure things are numbed up. He uses a mix of four topicals to numb the injection site. The next thing he does is actually wait for the stuff to kick in. He is the only dentist I have been to who does this. Then he takes a small tool and pokes my tooth, “Can you feel this?” If I feel the slightest thing, I make sure to tell him. My point here is that setting up to do the work is the longest part of the visit.
      I do enjoy headphones. I told the dentist and his assistant, I don’t like hearing them say “whoops”. They laughed and understood all in the same stroke.
      I bring a driver. I don’t want to have to worry about driving home.
      I also bring ice packs and my driver friend insisted on a puke pail plus clean up supplies. I have never needed any of these things. I did want a car blanket.
      The night of the surgery is my worst night. I like to put the appointments on Friday for this reason. If I do not sleep well Friday night I am not faced with a workday the next day so it is not a huge issue. Each time my second night has been ten times easier.
      With this last tooth, I waited a few weeks for it to be less angry with me and then I went to the chiropractor. I had a lot of jaw pain which turned out to be tmj and the chiro knocked the pain out without causing me too much discomfort.
      Last, I like having a treat at home that I can enjoy once it is over. My go to is coconut milk ice cream. But I also have a lot of soups and things that are easy to get into my mouth.

    16. LCL

      Like my mom says, the most painful part of a root canal is paying for it.

      I always end up with a headache from holding my mouth open, but that happens to me whenever I see the dentist.

      You will be kind of achy after the Novocain wears off. I always get a prescription for codeine, and take it for a day or two. I’ve never had gas for a dental procedure, I keep talking about it but you have to arrange that ahead of time and I never do.

  31. Junior Dev

    Mental health thread! How are you doing? What are you struggling with? What are you proud of?

    I just finished my second week of a new Thing we Don’t Discuss on Weekends and I’m proud of myself for consistently getting myself there, but struggling with getting up on time. I’ve actually been pretty good about getting to bed when I need to. I’m just tired all the time. Exercise helps my stress levels but has been making the oversleeping worse.

    I’m proud of exercising this week, and making social plans for today (my friend is going to pick me up to go hiking), and getting back into an open source project I had been away from.

    I mostly am too busy to feel depressed but sometimes when it’s time for me to go somewhere I’ll just mentally shut down for a minute instead, wishing I didn’t have to go.

    How are you?

    1. nep

      Grateful for my health and ability to exercise — that is a lifesaver.
      I just keep telling myself: ‘Could be worse, could be better, will make it better.’
      Helps this weekend that it’s sunny with milder temps.
      Peace, all.

    2. OfficePrincess

      I’m making 2018 about focusing on healthy habits (mostly exercise, hydration, regular sleep schedule) and have seen some improvement. But in the last 24-36 hours my anxiety levels have crept back up to the point where I woke up early this morning jittery and with a sense of doom. Focused breathing got me back to sleep, but I canceled my plans for today and am spending it drinking tea, getting through shows on the dvr, and probably going for a walk later. It sucks, but at least now I’m in a good enough place to realize what I need and then do it.

      1. Arjay

        Those are the things I’ve been working on too, and I was doing ok until I caught this bug that’s been going around. For the past week I’ve just been dragging myself around to do the bare minimum necessary.
        Take care of you. I’m going to try to get back into better habits this week.

    3. Mimmy

      I’m doing better this week – at least back to baseline. Although, like OfficePrincess, I too should focus on better health habits. It’s something I, and I’m sure many others, struggle with year after year. But looking at my ghastly self in the mirror the other day made me realize that I need to think about making changes. I know it’ll improve my mental and physical health, but it’s hard to do, especially in the winter when you don’t want to set foot in the cold outdoors, even when it is sunny out.

    4. Happy McGee

      I feel like I’m in a really good spot right now. I broke up with someone no good for me last weekend, and while it really, really sucked, I didn’t realize how much it had been stressing me out having that over my head. Work is going really well- it’s incredibly busy and stressful, but in a good way. I’m able to get to the gym regularly, so I’m feeling fit and healthy and strong. I have two dates coming up this week (first dates with different people). Overall, I’m just feeling great about life!

      1. JaneB

        Bad – I got a nasty feverish cold two weeks ago, I’m still coughing and waking myself up at night and generally feeling unwell and fed up, I’m not interested in food so I’ve not been eating that well, my sleep is all screwed up and I’m totally stressed about the thing we don’t talk about in this yhread. I feel really really negative about myself – I always get hit badly by this sort of thing. I haven’t been to the drs partly because I think it is just a cold so no point, partly because I expect they’ll just tell me it’s because I’m fat and stressed so what can I expect, and generally I feel horrible & like it’s my own fault for not being “good enough”. UGH

        1. Not So NewReader

          Reason number 249 why I got into alternative stuff. “Gee, doc, I already know I am a jackass. Thanks for your ‘help’ though.”
          The deep dark secret is that we are all doing something “wrong”. All of us. The actual response to a doc who says these things is, “Perfect patients don’t need your help. They are fine on their own. You are only going to see the broken and imperfect ones.”

        2. Junior Dev

          I’ve had doctors blame my health problems on “stress” and it always made me so mad, like, how am I supposed to relieve stress when I’m sick??

          I now have a primary care doctor who I like and trust but it took a long time to find her.

        3. Kuododi

          Oh sweetie… I know how easy it is to get into negative self care patterns when feeling wretched to begin with…. I mentioned in another thread that there are “turkey’s in every henhouse”, so I am painfully aware not all health care professionals are paragons of virtue. Speaking as someone with long term chronic health care problems, if you don’t give them a chance….you will never find out the benefits you can receive. For me, finding a good MD is like finding a good therapist…it’s a process of information gathering, asking questions, knowing what is important to you in meeting your needs and insisting on quality care for yourself because you are worthwhile. I say this as a woman of extravagant body frame who is very pleased with the quality of her health care. My Drs and I acknowledge the reality of my size and we have a proactive managable plan in place but noone jumps down my throat or patronizes me about the issue. (I would not put up with that silliness.). Please take care of yourself and see a Dr about your “crud”. Crossing my fingers that it’s nothing worse!!! You deserve quality health care and all the good stuff life has to bring…best wishes for a speedy recovery.

    5. Tea, please

      I see this thread and it is a great reminder to check in with myself.
      I’ve had a really rough 6 months and was handling everything really well..until December. My anxiety exploded. Likely partially due to receiving bad news about several close family members, but also I’m realizing more and more that this is just how my brain is wired. I dropped the ball personally and professionally. Since it came on so fast, I didn’t have a chance to activate my support network before there were some significant consequences.
      I’ve had a couple of issues getting support and would love to hear how other would people deal.
      I’m trying to get an appointment with my former psychiatrist, but since it has been several years since I’ve seen him, I have to do an intake call with another dr. I only have about half an hour during business hours that I can speak with this person and keep missing him… so haven’t been a able to get an appointment.
      My therapist retired last year. Since I hadn’t seen her in several years and was doing well, I didn’t find a replacement. So I’m looking again. That’s said, I’m reticent to schedule an appointment because I’d have to take off. My 7mo daughter had an undiagnosed medical issue and we have numerous medical appointments and early intervention sessions. So I’m having a problem letting myself take time for myself.

      A person (who supervises me in the place not mentioned on the weekends) said I seem frozen… and that’s how I feel when trying to figure out how to handle this.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Remember the advice, put your own oxygen mask on first. This happens for a reason, we have to be able to function in order to take care of those dependent on us. Obviously, you are not on an airplane right now so the logic here is less apparent, but still applicable.

        Can you email your old therapist and find out who she is sending people to?
        Do you have a trusted friend or family member who might be able to recommend someone?
        Can you take a the-hell-with-it-day off from work and deal with this and a few other things on that day?
        (I have used this one when things just piled up on me, like you are saying here.)
        Do you want talk time or do you just want medicine? If you just want an old script you used to use, maybe your GP will give you that.

        Sending good wishes your way. I hope things settle soon for you.

    6. dumped (semi regular going anon)

      My fiance ended things 6 days ago, exactly 6 months before our July wedding. We were together for 2.5 years and engaged for 6 months. Our wedding would have been on our 3rd anniversary. We had lived together for 6 months. We moved into his cousin’s apartment the same day we got engaged. His cousin had gotten a job offer overseas and needed someone to take over his lease. We were looking to move in together so it was perfect for us. My fiance told me he was leaving because he couldn’t handle my OCD and anxiety. I’m on medication and in therapy and he knew but he said he didn’t realize “how bad it was” until we lived together. He said he can’t live like this for the rest of his life. He’s gone. I don’t know where he is living. He has blocked my phone number and email and gone no contact. We had one joint bank account. He left 3/4 of the money in it and the process is done to take his name off of it. The lease expires on Jan. 30 and he paid the penalty before he left, because we were originally going to renew and he decided not to. I have until the end of the month to move out and will probably have to move back in with my parents. He said he wanted everything separated as quickly and cleanly as possible. I’m not doing well. I miss him. I cry often. I know I’m not perfect but I am trying my best. He made it out like I am a monster to live with or something. I’ve never felt suicidal and I don’t know but I hate everything. My family and friends have been nice. I just can’t believe he would spend every cent of his savings and borrow money from family/friends in order to get away from me (the lease, all the wedding vendors and things we had booked so far that he paid to cancel). I hate and love him at the same time. My therapist is on vacation until next week so I’m riding it out until then. My anxiety and OCD have been in overdrive since he left. I haven’t been able to take the ring off. Thank you for listening.

      1. dumped (semi regular going anon)

        To clarify, I’m *not* suicidal now It should say I’m *not* now, not I know now)

      2. Ramona Flowers

        I’m so sorry you’re going through this. Sending hugs if wanted and wishing you comfort and strength.

      3. RestlessRenegade

        That sounds really scary and hard. Please take care of yourself. I’m sending you jedi-hugs, if you want them.

      4. Almost Violet Miller

        I’m so sorry you have to go through this. I am sending you some virtual hugs.
        When I was in a similar situation, I let myself cry and feel all the sadness that was in me. It helped. Once the logistics are figured out and you are removed from the place you have the most memories on, things will probably get a little easier. If not, don’t worry either, we all heal in different ways.

    7. Ramona Flowers

      “but sometimes when it’s time for me to go somewhere I’ll just mentally shut down for a minute instead, wishing I didn’t have to go”

      OH MY GOODNESS I THOUGHT IT WAS JUST ME.

      Struggling with: anxiety, in bursts. Also finding it hard to find motivation to do stuff like wash my hair.

      Proud of: going to work and letting it be a lovely distraction. Doing laundry. Functioning.

        1. Ramona Flowers

          Thanks. Last week someone pointed out that the fact I’d done laundry was an achievement and that kind of legitimised the idea that I can acknowledge that and not just feel inadequate about all the stuff I haven’t done.

    8. Alpha Bravo

      This week I got a new roof. I have a very old house with (what was) the original roof. It had to be replaced and the crew was awesome. But for three days I have had a bunch of strangers swarming over my home, tearing my roof apart and making a constant gawdawful noise. The new roof is beautiful! And … I am sooooo glad they are gone.

      Tomorrow I am going to a kind of impromptu memorial for my husband. Some friends are putting it on. He was very beloved, and people wanted time to share their stories of him. A very dear old friend will be driving me, and I hope to spend some time listening to good friends talk about the man I love. I think it will be good.

      So … okay, I think?

      1. Not So NewReader

        Very okay. You are taking care of your physical needs (roof=safer home) and the needs at your core/soul (memorial with friends). It is good. You will look back on the decisions and be very proud of you.

    9. Almost Violet Miller

      Well done for making it on time for work and your other achievements of the week!

      I am proud of having been an OK host to a friend of mine from overseas. During the week I hate going out but we did a spa night which was fun. I handled the logistics of my break-up with dignity and didn’t react to an insult that really hurt. I practiced meditation as much as I could. (I will post about my mindfulness course in a few weeks.) I also went on a date that I enjoyed.

      I am struggling with: not going to bed early enough, putting together my application for school, having sad thoughts/crying (aftermath of the BU), SAD, finding motivation at the place we do not discuss on weekends, figuring out how to keep certain people from my formative years in my life without internalizing their drama.

      Good luck to all of you!

    10. Red

      I’m proud of myself for finally joining a gym and putting an effort into taking care of my body! I’ve historically been really lazy about it, but that’s not ideal at all lol. So, I’ll do what I can. Squeezing time from my week might be like squeezing blood from a stone, but rarely is more than never so that’s fine. It’s amazing what physical activity does for my mental state.

    11. Ramona Flowers

      I am home alone this eve and I am proud that I cooked myself something (just an omelette, but still). And I am proud that I put my heat pad on in advance and put my PJs in the airing cupboard (we have one of those as we rent a pretty old house) which meant I could put on lovely warm PJs and get into a lovely warm bed. Which feels like good self-care.

  32. heartbroken person

    I’ve been trying to get over a guy since November, and I’m making very limited progress. (I’m a girl..) I’ve been keeping busy and generally doing fine in life, but I periodically relapse into heartbreak-fueled sadness. Any tips on how to get over a heartbreak??? I’m out of tools for this. Thanks!

    1. Dinosaur

      I find that treating a breakup/romantic heartbreak the same as you would treat grief can help. When I’ve been heartbroken it usually is because the idea of this romance is now gone and the future won’t look like what I had hoped it would. Keeping busy and connecting with friends really helped me, but the best thing I ever did was set out time to be sad. I would literally schedule a 30 minute chunk every few days to journal about my feelings about the heartbreak. Confining it to those times while still acknowledging my hurt was very beneficial for me. I’m sorry that you’re going through a hard time.

    2. Pearl

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I don’t have a lot of advice as I am in a similar situation and don’t have a lot of experience, but I wanted to commiserate. It took like a year to start feeling better from my last breakup, and to stop being down on myself about it.

      Overall I tried to give myself permission to be sad and to focus on doing something that had an end goal other than “make new friends/relationships.” I chose a hobby I wanted to get better at and signed up for classes (knitting). It forced me to leave the house and be social, but also gave me an end product and a skill that had nothing to do with whether I was in a relationship or whether I was a “good person,” which my depressed brain had been focusing on in the wake of the breakup.

      Is there something you’re interested in making? Are there places around that teach it? If you don’t have an interest like that, could you pick up some other kind of new skill? I think these things mostly take time, unfortunately, but personally I found that forcing myself to focus on something outside of relationships helped me get through that time.

    3. heartbroken person

      Thank you for the supportive replies!

      As for developing a new skill, I signed up for dance lessons. I love dance, and could not think of a better way to both develop a skillset and express myself in some way.

      I think I just have to get better at sitting out my emotions. I keep wishing I were better and completely over it, but the truth is I still feel sad from time to time. Journaling does help some.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Allow yourself to feel the feeling. We are supposed to have feelings. Feelings are not the same as actions.
        This exercise is going to sound stupid, please bear with me. When you feel the tears/anger/whatever come up, instead of saying “noooooo, go away!” tell yourself, “yes, I feel sad/angry/whatever”. Just affirm the feeling instead of trying to push it away. And feel what is going on. “Yes, I have a pang in my heart/chest area.” Or, “yes, I have a huge knot in my stomach.”

        Think of it this way, if a friend had a strikingly similar problem you would not tell the friend, “Oh ignore that upset.” Don’t do tell yourself this, either. Tell yourself affirmations such as “Yes, this is sad therefore I feel sad.”

        The subtly here is that you are facing the issue head on by acknowledging its existence. Over time you will break the power/ the hold that the issue has on you. It will not take a long time for this to kick in, you will notice small differences soon.

        1. K.

          After my first heartbreak, my mother told me “You just have to feel it.” She was completely right. I’ve never forgotten that. Sometimes things just hurt and suck and it’s healthy to acknowledge that.

    4. Thlayli

      Personally I’ve always found the best way to get over one man is to get under another, but I realise many people don’t feel that way.

      1. Jean (just Jean)

        You remind of Dorothy Parker saying that with one more drink? martini? (sources differ) “I’d be under the host.”

    5. CharlyLarly

      Been there! The best thing for me was to
      1) cut all contact with dude- calls, texts, facebook, etc.
      2) keep yourself busy. excellent time for a new hobby!
      3) allow yourself some grace, and keep pushing through it. it gets easier, I promise!

    6. Almost Violet Miller

      I am a huge fan of going no contact after a BU. I was dumped in November and we have barely spoken since (only about logistics) and this is great for multiple reasons
      1) breaks the habit of being constantly in touch with them
      2) helps eliminate the need to always talk to someone, that someone being my (former) SO
      3) no anxiety of ‘will he respond?’
      … and many others.

      I can recommend meditation to clear your head from all thoughts, trying to learn something new (try a language maybe), planning something (it can be a trip or reorganizing your living room).
      What can also help (but costs more money): try to replace a few items that remind you of him too much (I wore this shirt the first time we kissed etc.). A new perfume or a different haircut can trick your senses.

      I only have fragments of advice but I am sending you a virtual hug.

    7. Caro

      I can’t remember the book but it suggested doing a funeral for the relationship. I wrote down the things that I would miss and it really helped, even though this particular relationship was not good.

  33. Kristen

    Good weekend all,

    I’d like to take a survey and I hope this isn’t to financially personal. The reason for this question is that as my household income has grown, we’re getting closer to thinking about buying our first home. I’m trying to get a sense of what percentage of their take home pay people actually spend on their mortgage (plus property taxes and insurance if included).

    Therefore my questions are:
    Approximately, what percentage of your household’s take home pay is spent on paying your mortgage?
    How many people are in your household?
    What area of the country do you live in? – trying to get a sense of the cost of living, please be as specific or as general as you wish.

    Thank you!

    1. fposte

      LCOL area. My actual mortgage (as opposed to tax and insurance) is under 10% of my income. Also relevant here, I think, is age and duration–when I bought it 20 years ago, with pretty much the same mortgage, that was more like 25% of my income.

    2. Uncivil Engineer

      1) 20% of take home pay; 11% of gross pay (not including taxes or insurance)
      2) 1
      3) southern California

      I delayed buying a house until I had a sizeable down payment so I could have lower monthly payments. I ended up putting 30% down.

    3. Courtney

      Ours is about 30%, which at the much is way too much because daycare for our two kids costs about as much as our mortgage. Fortunately I’ll be graduating in a few months and our income will basically double. Then one kid starts school in September. But right now things are very tight. We’re in the Midwest, Great Lakes area and there’s four of us.

    4. Natalie

      Midwest, medium COL I think? From a quick bit of google research, we apparently have one of the highest housing costs outside of the coasts, but in my experience there’s still plenty of achievable houses available especially if you’re happy to live in a normal size house in the city rather than a mini mansion 3 suburbs away. YMMV.

      I bought my house just a few years ago as a singleton, and the mortgage was a little over 25% of my takehome. For frame of reference, though, that was only a couple of percentage points more than renting had cost me – I’m in a city where renting is getting more and more expensive but lots of affordable homes for sale are available. It’s also a small house, about 1,000 square feet and 2 bedroom. A three or four bedroom house in the same neighborhood probably would have been 50-100% more expensive. I had a roommate initially and her contribution brought the mortgage down to 20%.

      A couple of years later I’m married and my income has crept up, so when we’re both working it’s more like 10-15% of takehome.

      1. fposte

        My actual mortgage payment now is lower (not by a lot, but it’s lower) than the rent I paid for a studio apartment in San Francisco in 1986.

      2. Ree

        In the Kansas City area.
        16% of gross pay, includes:
        -mortgage
        -homeowners insurance
        -HOA
        -property taxes

        This is about $100-$150 less per month than what we were paying for a 2 bed/2 bath apartment(which was $1150 per month).
        We bought well below what we could afford, because we really wanted everything to be less than our rent was but we also know we won’t live in KC for decades and that the home we bought will appreciate well over 2-5 years with the renovations we’ve done and the neighborhood it’s in.

    5. Quiznakit

      Take a look at table B25106: TENURE BY HOUSING COSTS AS A PERCENTAGE OF HOUSEHOLD INCOME IN THE PAST 12 MONTHS for your area. Link to the US table is in my username for this comment.

      1. Beatrice

        Hey, FYI, Alison has asked that people not bypass moderation by posting links in their usernames. She’d prefer to have them in the post and have them go into the moderation queue.

    6. Anono-me

      The general rule of thumb that I have heard is 3x anual salary for your 30 year fixed mortgage.

      What I did that was most helpful was to guesstimate what my future house payment (with taxes, insurance, etc) would be, then subtract my current rent from that and save the difference (plus a few hundred for misc repairs). It helped me save for the down payment and identify what amount of monthly payment I was comfortable with in real life not in theory. (I do this with all big purchases if I can.)

      1. Temperance

        Whoa … using that formula, I could have bought a way better house than we own right now, lol. Our take-home pay is like $15k less than the purchase price of our home.

        1. LadyKelvin

          With that rule, and the ridiculous cost of living out here, we would not even be able to buy a piece of property let alone one with any kind of living structure on it. But for reference, we rent and pay ~50% of our combined take home pay on rent, but if we were paying a mortgage on this house it would be even more. I guess this isn’t very helpful since we will never be able to buy a house here but there’s that.

    7. mandalee

      1) When we first bought our place, percentage of take home pay just for mortgage and taxes alone was 32%, now it’s about 19% after I finished school and took on a higher paying job. Our percentage is lower than most of our friends, because my student loan debt is extremely high (15% of our take home pay each month), so realistically we could afford anywhere from 30-35% of our income if we had to and that’s with saving 10-15% each month.
      2) 2 people in our household, both working
      3) Greater Boston area- western suburbs- we lucked out and bought in 2014 when the market was cooler and now it’s crazy. A similar home (3 bed 2.5 bath townhome with a decent private yard approx 15 miles outside of Boston), would probably be in the 35-40% range if we bought now.

    8. Temperance

      Booth and I pay $200 more/month for our mortgage, taxes, and insurance than we did for rent. Our mortgage and taxes end up being somewhere around 1/15 of our take-home pay, give or take. We’re fortunate, though, and I think our income is probably a little high.

    9. Elf

      We just bought a house in the nyc metro area, so we are spending way too much of our income on it, because entering the market at all is so ridiculously priced. For comparison, my cousin bought a somewhat larger and nicer house in Syracuse in the same summer for almost exactly half of what we spent. I think our payment (including property tax, which is sky-high) is between 25% and 30% of gross (rather more of net), but it was more when we bought in August, because my husband got a much better job since. It is definitely a stretch, but we decided to go for it because we have no other debt.

      I know my husband’s aunt and uncle bought a McMansion in the Pittsburgh area a few years ago for about what we spent, with lower property taxes.

    10. Anon because of personal details!

      My spouse and I live 25 miles outside of Boston.

      We bought our home for 1/3rd of what we were pre-approved for (with our incomes we could’ve afforded $600,000 and we got ours for $214,000, putting down a $45,000 down payment that we’d been saving for years plus every penny of our wedding gifts).

      It is a major fixer upper, in a very nice neighborhood of a city that has had some significant ups and downs. We firmly believe it’s in an upswing and love living here, but it’s definitely a city that some people go “oh you live THERE?” (I’m always like – “yes, and a) I love it, this city is full of history and artists and amazing architecture and good restaurants and b) my house is gigantic and beautiful and cheap so… you can keep your opinions to yourself!”)

      Our mortgage, taxes, and insurance end up being about 20% of our combined take home pay annually or 12% of our gross income.

      Sounds like that would make us rich, but we put additional money into fixing up the home a little at a time, and a lot into retirement. Neither of us made much money in our twenties and early thirties and didn’t save a lot. I didn’t start saving for retirement until I was 30. We’re trying to make up for lost time now by pretending we make a lot less than we do and just funneling money into our retirement, investments, and savings.

      We lucked out finding a great house for dirt cheap. It was disgusting when we bought it – truly gross – and 3 rooms had to be gutted, but the rest of the house just needed a lot of sweat and spackle and paint and industrial cleaning supplies. We will pay off the house in about 20 years instead of 30.

      1. EA

        Ahh what city do you live in?

        I’m in Cambridge and looking to buy somewhere, and would love to know where is 25 miles outside the city and has great restaurants? Is it Lowell? I’ve seen good houses in Lowell.

        1. Anon because of personal details!

          yup! We have an amazing house in a great neighborhood of Lowell. :) Cambridge has *better* restaurants, I cannot tell a lie, but we’ve got some really good Vietnamese, Cambodian, vegetarian places, plus a great new Ramen place and an amazing upscale burger restaurant. If you’re considering Lowell, come up on a nice weather weekend and do a National Park Service walk or one of Dick Howe’s walking tours. Check out Uncharted – art gallery that serves pizza, beer, and salad. Go to one of the Mill 5 art markets on Saturday (called A Little Bazaar) or the amazing year round farmer’s markets there on a Sunday, and check out some of the permanent stores in there too like Mill City Cheesemonger. Our current favorite restaurant is Lowell Burger Company right downtown – the burgers are the best I’ve ever had. There’s one called the Jamonit that has a stout syrup, blue cheese, arugula, and a bacon apple onion jam – everything is locally sourced and the owner/chef comes out and talks to every single table, every single day. (We usually veer towards more ethic food choices but those burgers are really awesome.) See a movie at Luna Theater in Mill 5, it’s full of old arm chairs and plays some new indie releases but a lot of old fun movies. Right now they’re doing a Steven King series and showing things like Misery. And check out Western Ave Open Studios – you can walk through all of the artist studios and see them working, some have things for sale but some just hang out and talk to you and show you around. The folk fest also has amazing music and incredible food, that’s in July. And the summer concerts at Boarding House Park are great – we can hear them from our house. (One night I was mowing my lawn and stopped to take a break and I could hear Melissa Etheridge like she was in my backyard – and I live over the river from the park. Not that I’m a huge Melissa Etheridge fan but it is kind of cool to sit in a lawn chair in my yard and listen to shows on a summer night!)

          Lowell is not perfect – there are definitely issues here. But for me and my partner, it’s the place we’re choosing to raise our future kids because we TRULY love it (not JUST because we could afford a better house there than anywhere else). It’s also 20 minutes to each of our parents houses, which helps as they’re getting older and needing more assistance from us.

        2. Triplestep

          Consider Providence if you are not tied to Boston/Cambridge for work. (Even Providence to Boston is an OK commute if you work in walking distance to South Station. Once you have to figure in a T on top of the commuter rail, forget it.)

    11. Kj

      HCOL area, about 25% of take home goes to mortgage and saving for long term repairs (husband and I both contribute monthly to the account, from which we pay the mortgage and have some left over to save for major or urgent projects.) It is just the two of us. We are in Seattle-area, which is an INSANE market, but we bought in a less desirable area and bought an older house that needs sweat equity.

      1. periwinkle

        It’s all relative, isn’t it? We’re also in the Seattle area, but moved here from D.C. so Seattle seems comparatively affordable. We could not have bought a single-family house in a convenient location back there, at least not without paying out a much higher income percentage. A colleague who moved here from SF also marveled at the relative affordability of this area.

        (there needs to be a level beyond HCOL to describe SF… OMGCOL?)

        1. Nearly a Fed

          Us too! We moved from D.C. to Seattle a year ago and found that there was much better available housing in Seattle in the same price range we were looking at in D.C. Our D.C. budget had us looking at converted condos in those big old homes in the Petworth/Columbia Heights neighborhoods – usually the ground or basement units. We ended up spending $100K less than our max budget in D.C. for a new townhouse in a great location.

          I telework from the Bay Area, so all of my colleagues rent/own in the area. The COL is insane – most of my peers can barely afford to rent a decent one-bedroom, let alone think about buying. It’s one of the reasons I left the area.

          For the person asking, our mortgage payment (including taxes, insurance, etc.) is 25% of our net and 12% of our gross in Seattle. Two-person household.

    12. Merci Dee

      I live in the southeast (central Alabama), which is a pretty low cost of living area. My mortgage is about 15% of my monthly take-home pay, and that’s pretty much what I was looking for. My household consists of my daughter, my cat, and me. Daughter is 13, so she’ll be heading off to college in 5 years. I wanted a place that was big enough for us right now, but not too big for Mr. Furry Paws and me when she leaves for school. I was able to find a 1050 s.f. place with 3 bedrooms and 1 bath for just under $65k in the same neighborhood we’d been renting in for 9 years.

      I took advantage of some programs for first-time homeowners, so I didn’t have to pay the typical 20% down payment. Granted, I have to pay some mortgage insurance, but it only adds about $10 or so to my monthly payment. I’m fine with that – my total payment is about $430 per month.

        1. Merci Dee

          Nice! I have some family around Muscle Shoals, and a sister used to live in Owens Crossroads, near Huntsville.

    13. periwinkle

      HCOL area. We deliberately purchased a house priced well below what we could afford. Our mortgage payment (including taxes and insurance) on a 20-year loan is about 20% of our joint monthly income. Not as nice a house as we could have afforded, but also no stress on making payments or affording other things!

    14. Nacho

      A little under 50% of my net pay, but I’m saving a good amount of money because I don’t need to own a car thanks to its great location.

      Also in the greater Seattle area, so our home prices are probably a lot higher than yours (I could rent a place with a roommate in a worse neighborhood and it would still cost more than 50% of my net pay)

    15. Someone else

      The bill is 28% (which includes taxes and insurance which are rolled into the bill), but I usually pay more like 35% because I’m trying to pay it down faster, and it’s not a hardship for me to do so.
      2 people
      Southern California

    16. MCOL singleton

      I’m single and live in a medium-cost of living East Coast city. The house I bought this year with 20% down has a mortgage+tax+insurance that is 17% of my gross pay and about 30% of my take-home (high-tax area + big 401k contribution results in a big gross/net disparity for me). No car or other debt. I moved here from a very HCOL place so this price felt safe/conservative to me.

      This is the second place I’ve owned and in both cases I spent much less than I was pre-approved for–I think that number is useless because it is calculated by people whose interests aren’t aligned with yours.

    17. Red Reader

      My answers are gonna be a little dodgy because of my household structure, but I will throw them out there anyway.

      My household consists of four adults: me and my husband and two housemates. Everybody has entirely separate finances, including me and my husband, but everyone pays me (as the sole homeowner) rent and a flat fee monthly that covers food and household goods. If I lived in the house by myself, the mortgage payment (including insurance and all the associated jazz) would be about 20% of my monthly gross pay. However, everyone else’s rent combined covers the mortgage plus about $120/month (and I put the extra toward the mortgage premium), so all I pay out of pocket is the utilities. We’re in the Indianapolis area.

    18. Beatrice

      Low cost of living, Midwest. Our total mortgage payment, including taxes/insurance, is about 15% of our combined household take-home income. We have three people in our home. We’ve been here 10 years, and when we bought the place, it was probably closer to 25% of income. We deliberately live in a cheaper area than we can afford, because we like the financial flexibility.

    19. Thlayli

      It’s generally recommended you don’t spend more than a third of your take home pay on accommodation. I spend in and around that. Not in the US.

    20. The Cosmic Avenger

      Very HCOL area (affluent DC suburb), 3 person household. Our mortgage payment is currently zero, but when we had one, it was just under 22% of our net monthly income. I don’t have the gross income handy, but we have considerably more deductions (including a lot of them pretax) than average.

    21. paul

      There’s 4 of us, my wife and I both work. Our take home winds up being about 3000-3200/month after taxes and insurance and 401s. The mortgage+escrow and takes is 650; the house is a 1930s era house on a small lot. I’m in small town Texas up in the panhandle. Bought about 2008.

      1. paul

        4 includes 2 working adults and 2 toddler aged kids FWIW.

        Uh, water’s about 50-60 a month, net+phone winds up being about 90, electric is anything from 100-200 (heats electric and we get some real winter in this part of the state). Gas is pretty consistently 20-30 a month.

    22. Triplestep

      8% of gross, and that’s a refinance of our 15 year fixed that was almost paid off. We went this route to do a major remodel rather than get a home equity loan or line of credit. Taxes and insurance are not included. There’s just two of us – both earning. The kids are both in higher ed and contribute nothing, but still draw on our incomes, lol! We live in urban New England.

    23. Rookie Manager

      This has been a facinating thread for me as in the UK many people pay upto 50% of take home pay on housing costs. Some of these numbers are incredibly low to me.

      Being outside the US I’m not sure if this is useful but… like others have said we chose a mortgage much less than our pre-approved rate. Before going to the bank we examined our joint finances carefully and decided the maximum we felt comfortable spending. We were moving from my partners starter home in a ok area in a big city (I gave up my city centre rental flat to move in with him) to a family home in a coastal town within commuting distance to the city.

      At the time of purchase we put down a 40% deposit and borrowed approx 3x our joint income (we could have had more which is horrifing) despite not having a buyer for old house. I think at that point loan + council tax (uk property tax) was approx 30% of take home pay. With 2 mortgages for a short time things were a little hairy.

      A few years down the line, our outstanding loan is double our combined gross income and (because we overpay each month) loan + CT are approx 25% net income. We plan to stop overpaying if/when we have kids to cover maternity pay and childcare fees.

      When we bought we easily had the biggest house of all our friends as we jumped to the end point on the housing ladder. Now a few people are catching up with us (although obvs it is nkt a race etc). Ours is a new build property and the builders had one exactly the same for sale in the big city for £100,000 more. I’m glad we moved to the coast instead.

    24. Melissa

      My brain can’t really do math at this point, but our HHI is ~$300k gross +/- $15k. Our mortgage payment, which includes real estate taxes and homeowners insurance, is $3600/mo. We pay about $12k/year in property taxes and our house was purchased for $680k (loan was for $545k).

      “Take home” pay is all relative; we max out our 401(k)s, pay for health insurance through our paychecks (ie money comes out for health and various other insurances and FSAs etc before it hits us), so what ends up deposited in our bank isn’t just gross pay minus taxes. We do pay a lot in taxes, though.

      Family of 5, Boston suburbs with top rated public schools (part of the high taxes, also why we are here). 3000sq ft house on an acre.

      1. Melissa

        I should say that we were preapproved for a $1M house. At that time our HHI was closer to 400k (maybe $380? Bonuses make the numbers a little fluid). But we wanted a house we could afford with kids in daycare, and with a good buffer for un/under employment. When we first bought, DH and I each made about $180k. But I went part time and he got a promotion; now we make ~$230 and ~$80 respectively, but with fewer childcare costs (but more child in general costs since now we have 3).

        In a pinch, we could make our mortgage payments with just one income of $180 (or two incomes adding up to that).

    25. Clever Name

      I think I’m paying like 40-50% of my take home pay (after taxes and insurance premiums are taken out and after contributing to my 401k) towards my mortgage. I’m recently divorced, and I got the house. I’m paying all my bills just fine, am able to eat out on occasion, and can occasionally get my nails done etc. I also breezed through the refinance process. I feel like I pay more for my mortgage than I’m “supposed to”, but I’m doing fine according to my budget and according to day to day living. If I had bought a house on my own, I would have gotten something much smaller/cheaper.

    26. Harriet M. Welsch

      L(ish)COL, Midwest. Mortgage, taxes, and insurance account for 18% of last year’s take-home pay (will change this year as I am now a part-owner, no longer on salary). We put 20% down for a 30-year mortgage (I still have student loans). Our household includes two adults and two young children.

    27. Seacoast NH

      Our house is currently appraised at about $350K, which is median for our town. Relatively HCOL area – about an hour north of Boston, highest COL county in NH. 2000 sqft, nothing updated since the 70s but what little we’ve done DIY, 1 acre semi wooded lot.

      Mortgage, taxes and insurance is about $2,500 per month, so $30K per year. Right now that’s about 30% of gross, which is comfortable. With employment changes over the past 10 years, positive and negative, it’s ranged from 23% to 38% of gross. 23% was awesome, but sadly didn’t last long. 38% was tough, especially in winter with huge oil bills, but fortunately also didn’t last long.

      Good luck!

    28. Student Affairs Professional

      We pay 16% of our pre-tax income on our mortgage. Household of 2 adults. We live in a small town/rural-ish area about 30 minutes outside a small-to-medium city in Central VA. We specifically bought in this small town because we could afford a house, whereas at the same price point in City, we could only afford a townhome or condo. COL calculator says to move from my town to NYC it would be a 20% higher COL, if that helps (though it breaks down that housing costs in NYC are 55% higher than where I live now, which is a better metric).

  34. Elkay

    I’ve heard that reading fiction can help improve empathy. Can anyone think of any books that might meet this criteria for someone who doesn’t normally read fiction?

    1. Lily Evans

      I think that any book where you’re seeing something from the perspective of a character who is unlike you would fit the bill. It’s all about seeing other people’s experiences, things you’d never really thought about before, that help you see people in real life in a more compassionate way. Like for me reading The Kite Runner in high school was really eye opening. As a white girl from a very white US suburb where people from the Middle East were vilified it really helped change my point of view and realize that Middle Eastern people are really just people, not the monsters that the adults around me liked to cast them as.

      1. Foreign Octopus

        Oh my god, the Kite Runner. I haven’t been able to re-read because it was just so powerful the first time.

    2. Lady Jay

      It depends. Do you read nonfiction? What kind do you prefer? That will affect what kind of fiction we recommend. :)

      That said, for “empathy,” I’d suggest Marilynne Robinson and Kazuo Ishiguro, both of whom are excellent at drawing heartwarming, broken characters who are moving towards redemption. Everything Robinson has written is excellent, though I started with Gilead. Lila is her most recent one; Housekeeping is perhaps the darkest. For Ishiguro, I’d recommend starting with Remains of the Day. (Buried Giant is a bit obscure).

        1. Lady Jay

          A couple additional suggestions, then:

          Cracking India, by Bapsi Sidhwa; a fictionalized account, through a young girl’s eyes, of the rupture between Pakistan and India*

          Middlemarch, George Eliot; a retelling of the trials and romantic entanglements of people in small-town 1800s Britain (Eliot is actually a woman writer who lived a bit of a scandalous life herself; she wrote under the name “George” to disguise her identity and sell books.)

          Eagle of the Ninth, Rosemary Sutcliff; set in Roman Britain and tells the story of the “lost legion,” the 9th legion that marched north and was never seen again. Though her stories are targeted towards young adults, they’re well-plotted and richly characterized.

          *Violence (including sexual violence), obviously; though since the narrator is a young girl who doesn’t understand what’s happening, much of this is either not described graphically or takes place “off screen”

    3. fposte

      I suspect it’s less a book-by-book thing as an overall practice, and I believe the research differentiated literary fiction–where the emphasis is on the interiority of the character–from popular genre fiction (though obviously this is an arguable distinction).

      That being said, what I would do is focus first on fiction by people not like me–people from other countries, other experiences in my own country, other physical/mental conditions and class conditions. I’d probably prioritize contemporary authors writing about the present day just to get the maximum social bang for the reading buck, but I wouldn’t rule out older or historical fiction, especially if it helped this particular reader stay interested. Just start with a Google for “best contemporary Latinx novels” or “African writers,” etc., and choose a title that crops up on a few lists that appeals. If there’s some significant resistance, I’d pick shorter stuff, at least at first, but I’d also include permission to back out of a book after 100 pages if it’s torture.

      1. Lady Jay

        This is a good comment too! One worthwhile thing to do (especially if you live in the polarized climate of the US) is read books by non-western authors. Recently a lot of local bookstores have been prominently displaying such books.

      2. Foreign Octopus

        fposte says it brilliantly here. It’s really more of an overall practice because you’re slowly accumulating all of these experiences, whether its fiction or non-fiction.

      3. Elkay

        Honestly, I feel like that’s a bit much too quickly. The first step feels like being able to empathise with the same race/gender, or am I coming about this wrong?

        1. fposte

          Well, it’s about what you want to do more than anything else. But for a lot of people, the issue isn’t so much that they can’t imagine that anybody else has feelings but that they imagine everybody shares their own feelings, and that doesn’t really get challenged by reading about people just like you. But if it’s not simple for you to remember that other people are having feelings in the first place, then reading about people who map maybe not so much onto you but onto the kind of people you regularly know might also be a good start. So I would still prioritize difference a little, but rather than reading about somebody on the other side of the world, I would find books where somebody like you has a place, but it’s not the central place, because part of the point of empathy is removing yourself from the center of the world. So if you’ve got an important relationship with a little sister, read a book from the perspective of a little sister; if you’re from a Polish family in Chicago, read about somebody from an Irish family in Chicago. You will almost certainly find plenty of stuff within a good novel that speaks to you directly nonetheless, but it will nudge you to view your life from somebody else’s perspective.

          But I also think that you’ve got to get some reward out of it beyond just the homework element, so it’s reasonable for you to factor that in too.

          1. fposte

            BTW, I think that there isn’t really a “first step” per se, and that empathy accrues in different ways for different people. Generally, books that get a lot of attention in the mainstream US audience are books that speak to people; the ability to make a narrative do that tends to transcend many demographic differences, which often matter more to who chooses to try to read the book than who actually finds meaning in it.

        2. nep

          Interesting because when I read your post I didn’t think of ‘other’ at all — another race or class or what have you. What came to mind for me is simply empathy among fellow humans, whether of similar life situations or not.
          This is a lot of good food for thought.

    4. Temperance

      I wonder if reading nonfiction by people who are different than you / about people who are different than you might help? I’ve been weirdly averse to fiction (except YA) for a while, and have learned so much from nonfiction books.

    5. Foreign Octopus

      I feel that the books below are more prone to illiciting obvious empathy although, as fposte says, it’s really an overall practice that improves empathy and tolerance so just pick up any fiction book that takes your fancy and give it a read. However, here’s my list:

      1. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
      2. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
      3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
      4. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
      5. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
      6. Room by Emma Donoghue
      7. Any Human Heart by William Boyd
      8. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
      9. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
      10. Stoner by John Williams
      11. Moloka’i by Alan Brennert
      12. Woman on the Edge of Time by Madge Piercy
      13. Beloved by Toni Morrison
      14. The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
      15. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
      16. Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee
      17. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
      18. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
      19. Atonement by Ian McEwan
      20. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

      This list is longer than I expected by but no means comprehensive and lacking vital voices of colour. However, I have read all of them and feel that they’re what you’re looking for and if anyone has any extra suggestions, particularly regarding POC writers, please add to it.

      1. Blue_eyes

        Great list Foreign Octopus! Adding some of my own:

        Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri (short stories)
        The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (or just about anything else by her)
        War Dances by Sherman Alexie (also, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian)
        Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech (YA, quick read)
        Children of the River by Linda Crew (YA, quick read)
        Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
        Nothing Ever Happens (Nunca pasa nada) by José Ovejero

      2. Former Employee

        Speaking of Octopus, read “Lily and the Octopus” by Steven Rowley.

        If you haven’t seen the movie (and even if you have), read “Sophie’s Choice” by William Styron.

        Finally, for anyone who hasn’t gotten around to it, “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott is still wonderful.

    6. Kj

      “Far From the Tree” is AMAZING. It is about parents and children who are different from each other. Like the deaf kids of hearing parents. Or the tall parents of kids with dwarfism. Or the parents of prodigies. It is lovely and worth reading. I read it again and again.

    7. Incantanto

      Flowers for Algernon.

      About a mentally disabled man who gets an experimental treatment to raise his IQ, and how he deals with his perception of the world changing because of it. Written in first person, and if the end doesn;t make you cry then you may need serious empathy exercises.
      Its also quite short, so would be ideal for someone who doesn’t read much fiction.

      1. Rookie Manager

        We were given that short story to read by a substitute teacher one English lesson. I read it 3 times that period and it has always stuck with me. Heartbreaking.

        1. Incantanto

          You must be a fast reader! the book is about 90 pages.
          Or is there a short story version? If so, the long form book is also amazing.

    8. Cheshire Cat

      Possibly start with a fiction book about a topic you enjoy reading in nonfiction? If you like reading about historical crime, try a historical mystery; if you like reading about explorers, try a fiction adventure story, etc.

      1. Thlayli

        Yeah I think the baby steps approach might be better rather than going straight for the tearjerkers.

    9. Nacho

      That’s a bit of a broad category. Do you want happy stories or sad ones? High adventure or slice of life? Do you want something realistic, or would you prefer something fantastical?

    10. Rookie Manager

      There are some excellent suggestions of great novels here (the couple I haven’t read I’ll be noting down) and you should keep these lists for future. However I’d go a different route. If you like reading historical fiction why not try a fictional book set during that time perhaps using real people?

      For example, Phillipa Gregory writes facinating novels about key players circa C15th England, ‘The White Princess’ is about Elizabeth of York who was a daughter, niece, wife, mother, grandmother of successive kings of England. She’s written several books each heavily reasearched but from the PoV of one real person. Alternatively, if you like more modern history, Kate Atkinson’s ‘Life after life’ gives several perspectives on the 2nd World War. The Flashman series (George MacDonald Fraser) cover key events in C19th from the PoV of a character who is hard to empathise with, but easy to empathise with those he comes across.

  35. Renee

    The musical theatre fandom…I’ve only been in it for a few years, and most of it is wonderful, but at times it can be exhausting. Specifically, I mean the arguments over which actor was the ‘best’ in certain roles. I’m happy to read about what people liked about certain performances, but overwhelmingly people use those discussions as a platform to disparage actors who are not their favourite, I just find that so unnecessary.

    It’s especially terrible if such arguments happen on platforms such as Twitter, where the actors themselves are likely to come across them. Sure they’d probably have to get used to it after a while, but so many of them are still young or relatively new to being in the ‘public’ and would likely find such things hurtful. It’s just baffling how something that inspires so much joy could give rise to so much negativity..

    1. Fake old Converse shoes

      Sounds like it’s not much different from the Opera (and Classical Music) fandom. Everyone is a critic, and some have little to no consideration for last minute changes and cancellations. And the most wealthy often boast about their frequent trips to Europe. It’s one of those cases of “love the show, hate the fandom”.

      1. FrontRangeOy

        I feign ignorance of who performers are on purpose to avoid the fandom, lol. If I were trying to break into the industry, it would be different but I’m a 30 something theater geek who is connected into community theater and the arts non profit world for the sheer love of performance and how theater can enrich lives. I love hearing the teens I perform with getting enthused about the professional shows they’re going to this seaaon but when the obsession over which touring cast they’re going to see starts, I tune out. Its. Just. Not. That. Important (to me).

    2. Stellaaaaa

      Broadway fandoms can be really strange, especially when the fans are from the NYC area. It’s easy to gain a little bit of access to Broadway stars and that can spiral in weird directions.

    3. Former Employee

      I am not part of this, though I do love musicals.

      If you haven’t seen it, watch “Showboat” (1936) with Irene Dunne as Magnolia, Allan Jones as Gaylord Ravenal, Helen Morgan as Julie, Paul Robeson as Joe and Hattie McDaniel as Queenie. Possibly one of the best casts ever.

  36. Foreign Octopus

    Alison, if you enjoy family sagas have you ever read The Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith? It’s just incredible and I really recommend it.

      1. Valancy Snaith

        A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is one of my favourite books of all time, and I’ve read it probably once a year since I was very young. It’s one of those books that has changed drastically since I was young–I used to focus on Francie’s story, but the older I get, the more Katie’s story resonates with me. The story itself doesn’t change, but what I’ve gotten out of it is very, very different. But it’s an amazing book.

        1. Foreign Octopus

          I’ve only read it once so far. I bought it last year and just devoured it. It’s definitely one I see myself coming back to.

          If you loved that then you might enjoy Moloka’i by Alan Brennert. It’s a beautiful story spanning an entire life of Rachel who is sent to a leper colony (when those things existed) and it’s just amazing to stay with Rachel as she grows into an old woman, experiencing life on the island and everything that comes with it.

        2. Elizabeth West

          Mine too. I LOVE it and I’ve read it so many times I can quote from it verbatim. I liked Joy in the Morning too, by the same author, but I really didn’t enjoy Maggie-Now. Although it was well written, I found it intensely frustrating from a feminist perspective.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      Betty Smith also wrote a book called Joy Comes in the Morning about a young, newly married couple. I’ve read it a couple of times and really enjoyed it.

      I have a first edition of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I used to read it once a year until it really started to fall apart. Now it’s in storage where it belongs, but I think I’ve memorized that book.

  37. Sue

    At what point does preference become prejudice?

    I know people who say they wouldn’t date people of certain races (in situations where dating apps allow you to filter by race or ethnicity), the reasoning for which usually rests of cultural practices (e.g. how you’re expected to treat the in-laws, gender roles etc.). On one hand it makes sense to be more drawn to the familiar (and the comfortable), but a lot of people would regard that as a prejudiced thing to say. I wonder though whether it’s any better or worse than saying something like you wouldn’t date a vegan because of lifestyle clashes?

    1. Courtney

      Worse. A lot worse. For a huge variety of reasons. You control your diet, not your race. Assuming that all people of one race have the same culture is very prejudiced. And people who are minorities have faced the kind of racism that would make it mind blowingly ignorant to tell them that people who are vegan understand, because people stereotype them too and judge them for who they are. Because they’re just not the same thing.

      Anyways. As far as what’s prejudice and what’s preference, I think any time you’re assuming all people that belong to a certain group are the same, you’re in dangerous territories. With some exceptions of course. Assuming all vegans don’t consume animal products is fair – I can see how that would be a tough match for someone who is a foodie. But if you rule out vegans because you think they’re all judgmental and shove their beliefs about diet down peoples’ throats, then that’s a problem. Not a racism level problem, but a problem.

    2. buttercup

      I belong to a minority race/ethnicity, and a lot of people like me would only date within our ethnic group. The reasons are cultural and religious, as well as the importance of shared experiences to some people. I’m not of this opinion, personally, but I think people are well within their rights to choose who they date. It’s a very personal choice. Dating certain races is not equivalent to disenfranchising them.

      I have to admit that I’m more physically attracted to certain races over others, but I still try to keep an open mind.

    3. Natalie

      the reasoning for which usually rests of cultural practices (e.g. how you’re expected to treat the in-laws, gender roles etc.)

      It’s stereotyping, no matter what way you slice it. Someone being a vegan tells you something definitive about how they live – they don’t eat meat. Knowing that someone is Race X doesn’t actually tell you what they believe about gender roles. For that matter, picking someone from Race Y also doesn’t tell you anything about what they think about gender roles.

      I think many people have preferences for different physical characteristics, which can include skin color or facial features that might be common in this or that ethnicity, and it’s fine to recognize those things. Where it crosses a line in my opinion is when it becomes a rule – “I don’t date Z” versus “I find I tend to be attracted to Y, but that doesn’t mean I won’t date X or Z or Q.”

    4. Temperance

      I mean, there’s a huge difference between lifestyle and race. I wouldn’t date a teetotaler or religious person, because I like drinking and am very non-religious. I similarly wouldn’t date a strict vegan, because I am seriously not one.

      Someone’s race is not like a lifestyle choice. Sure, depending on circumstances, it might mean there are cultural differences, and those can be objectionable (obvs!), as in your example. That’s something you would find out as you get to know each other, though.

    5. Lissa

      I think that it’s really different to say “I won’t date someone who has to have dogs, because I am not a dog lover” than “I won’t date a certain race” for the reasons people have illustrated. I think a lot of people do tend to be attracted to some things more than others, and often that is people we have seen be portrayed as attractive, people we’re familiar with etc.

      I think it’s good to have self awareness that if one is only ever attracted to conventionally attractive people of the dominant race, it’s very likely societally influenced and not just a huge coincidence. I also sort of feel like….hmm, not sure how to explain this well. Like, if you/me/random person happen to only ever be attracted to X type, that’s not really a problem to just…have that preference. It’s very probably influenced by culture, but that doesn’t mean you can instantly change it either.

      It becomes a problem, IMO, to publicly state “I could never date someone who is X.” It’s just rude for one thing,and also assumes that just because you haven’t, you couldn’t be ever, and there’s an implication there that’s like. . . . you’re not dating X people for a reason, not just that you haven’t found someone who’s X where there’s compatibility and mutual attraction. (and yes it’s true that there may be underlying social/cultural reasons for why you haven’t found someone who’s X who’s compatible with mutual attraction, but that’s a pretty complex issue too.)

      Having a preference also stands out more when it’s for people who are different from you/not the dominant culture, for instance I have a friend who’s a white woman whose last three boyfriends have been of South Asian descent, and she gets a LOT of comments about it, but nobody is going to notice or care that her sister has only dated white dudes.

    6. New Bee

      I always find that a weird statement to make, given how different people of the same ethnic group (or even same family) can look.

    7. MCOL singleton

      I definitely regard it as a prejudice… it seems so by definition, you are deciding before you know them. I once got into a bit of a debate about this with a friend when we were doing online dating profiles together. She wanted to put White as her preference (this was in an awfully white city) and I told her that, FYI, I would never date someone who put that, even though I am white myself. I think she was intepreting it as a preference and I as an exclusion. I asked her if she met [insert the name of a currently popular sexy non-white celeb] and they were (say) a pediatric neurosurgeon and their heir to a large fortune who was really interested in [her hobby]–would she seriously categorically not date them? It’s one thing to have a preference in your head where a lot of people who appeal to you are of the same race, but another thing to just put that right out there in a dating profile, cut and dried. Also, I used to be married to someone of my same race, and boy did we have some issues with regard to family/gender expectations. I don’t know what she put in the end, because I said my piece and left it alone. But I stick to not going out with anyone who states an exclusionary preference.

    8. Not Alison

      Is it prejudice or is it personal preference? How is it any different than preferring to not date a person of a certain height or weight or physical impairment or facial beauty?

      I don’t have a problem with people choosing to not date whoever they want, just as I should be able to choose to not date whoever I want. The issue should be not whether or not you can preclude whoever you want, but if you are trying to preclude someone else from dating whoever they want (i.e. telling someone YOU shouldn’t date that person because they are of a different race, etc).

      The former is not necessarily prejudice but personal preference, the latter is definitely prejudice.

    9. Stellaaaaa

      I don’t think it’s necessarily something that we need to be able to define out loud to other people. It’s also not something that people have the right to interrogate others about. When you consider that 99.99999% of romantic relationships will become sexual, it’s really gross when, say, someone tries to convince a woman to sleep with someone that she doesn’t want to sleep with. My vagina, my rules. My reasons for rejecting a man are allowed to be stupid. They’re even allowed to be terrible. I’m going to be having sex with my partner, and no one has the right to tell me I should be sleeping with anyone else instead. I just don’t see how it’s a productive conversation to have, since there’s no way to change my mind about who I want to have sex with, and it’s illegal and unethical to try to.

      1. Lissa

        Yes, it’s opt-in, not opt-out. I think a lot of people don’t take these things to their natural conclusion. So “Everyone deserves love/a partner” and “it’s not fair that some people have a harder time finding someone than others due to uncontrollable reasons” can be true in a wider sense, but when it starts narrowing it’s like “Ok, everyone deserves a partner, so someone needs to date them and (usually) have sex with them” but that person too is a human being who presumably also “deserves” a partner (that they want and are attracted to.)

        Also like 99% of people I “reject” are probably also “rejecting” me and we will never even know about each other’s rejection, because at that point it’s not even rejection, it’s just….not being interested. Some (guys especially) seem to think of a woman’s lack of interest as an active thing she is doing To Him, but for most people there’s going to be only a very small number of people they’re interested in anyway.

        (Sorry that has very little to do with the original topic of the post but just made me think.)

      2. Nacho

        I think we should at least be able to define it to ourselves though. Like if I didn’t want to date black girls because I considered them not sexually attractive, I should be able to come up with a reason why I don’t find them attractive other than being conditioned by a society that devalues black characteristics.

        And if that’s the only reason why I don’t find them attractive, maybe I should recognize that and give them a try, instead of falling back on what I now know is institutionalized racism to justify my preferences.

    10. Thursday Next

      This is a really good question. With some groups, there’s an overlap between religion and ethnicity, so if it’s important to be with someone who shares a level of religious practice, it might mean ethnic endogamy. Or for people who want a shared language. For example, I’ve never met anyone non-Indian who speaks my parents’ native language. (FWIW I didn’t marry an Indian.)

      I also think there are people who look for partners with a shared experience. The question of “better” or “worse” seems to me to come from a position of privilege (forgive me if this isn’t the case). I know many POC in the U.S. who only want to partner with POCs because they share certain experiences of being outside the majority. I don’t see that as racist.

      1. Thursday Next

        But that’s an affirmative “I want to date a partner who shares my faith/language/experience,” not “I would never date X race.” Maybe the negative framing seems intentionally exclusionary?

    11. AcademiaNut

      It’s a complicated issue.

      We choose romantic partners based on a lot factors that would, in an employment sense, be illegal discrimination, and in a more general social interaction sense by incredibly biased. We filter by age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, culture, social and economic class, education, height, weight, colouring, attractiveness and a whole lot of other stuff. And attraction is a slippery thing – logically telling yourself “I should be attracted to this person” when you are not is a recipe for a disasterous relationship.

      I do think it’s worth some personal reflection about what you’re doing when looking for a partner (or friends) and how prejudices can affect that, particularly if you find yourself regularly complaining about the lack of potential partners. But if someone doesn’t want to date someone of a particular race (or whatever other criteria). I don’t think they should do so out of a sense of fairness. It’s not fair to the other person, for one thing.

      It’s also worth noting that race and culture are related, but not the same thing. And a relationship with someone of a different culture does have pitfalls and difficulties that dating within your own culture does not. Pretending it’s not important is likely to cause serious problems.

      FWIW, my personal level of ickiness for this would be

      – Not wanting to date outside of your own race
      – Filtering by specific races (“I’ll date X but not Y”)
      – specifically looking for a partner of a particular different race.

      In my experience, this is in increasing levels of stereotyping and prejudice, with the last including things like white guys looking for an Asian girlfriend because she’s prettier, skinnier, better groomed and more submissive that white women. And yes, I have seen people say this. More than once.

      Oh, and I’m in a inter-racial, inter-cultural marriage myself.

      1. buttercup

        I’m a minority, nonwhite person (see comment above), but I honestly don’t think people’s genitals have to be democratic. If white people are only attracted to and want to date other white people, let them. It doesn’t actually take anything from us. It also doesn’t mean that nonwhite people will be left in the dust. Lots of white AND nonwhite people find Black people, Brown people, and Asian people attractive. People find other people attractive/unattractive based on a variety of arbitrary reasons not just based on race – there is body type, hair color, bone structure, etc. It is generally good practice to be open-minded when it comes to dating, but I do think it is important for people to genuinely be sexually attracted to the people they date.

        Plus, like you mentioned, I would rather not interracially date someone who fetishizes my race. It doesn’t help matters.

        1. Anonymous Educator

          It doesn’t actually take anything from us.
          Lots of white AND nonwhite people find Black people, Brown people, and Asian people attractive.

          I don’t think racist people should be forced to date people of other races, but the idea that there isn’t racism, and everything is all cool is also a bit naive.

          Lots of studies have shown that in hetero dating apps, Black women and Asian men get the fewest responses, and that’s not just random chance.

          1. buttercup

            I truly don’t think dating preferences (or lack of preference, thereof) are always fueled by racism, even if they disfavor traditionally minority races. Of course, some are racist. In this case, the fact that they’re racist, rather than who they’re not dating, is the real issue. I will also indulge the possibility that people are brainwashed by mainstream beauty standards which primarily favor Caucasian features. But just because someone wouldn’t date a Black person doesn’t mean they wouldn’t favor them in other ways; they might still hire them for a job opening if they were qualified, befriend them, or vote against discriminatory policies. It’s just natural to be very choosy when it comes to dating.

        2. Anonymous Educator

          I would rather not interracially date someone who fetishizes my race. It doesn’t help matters.

          The two options aren’t “This person wants to be with me only because of my race” and “This person wants to not be with me only because of my race.” There are lots of other in-between possibilities.

    12. Not So NewReader

      I’d look at the purpose. If the rationale is hatred, then the answer is straightforward, it’s pure prejudice.

      I do think it is fairly reasonable to look for a life mate who has similar interests, values and goals. Family heritage can teach or ingrain a lot of these things. So while ancestry can set things up, I think for purposes of clarity one should stick with, “I want someone who enjoys fishing like I do” as opposed to “I want someone of X heritage because I know they will enjoy fishing like me.” The truth is we don’t know if a person would enjoy fishing just because of their heritage.

    13. LilySparrow

      Yep, it’s prejudiced. It’s also pretty dehumanizing to assume that potential dates have no agency of their own.
      I mean, if you are a person who values independence and egalitarian relationships, and doesn’t live by strict conventional gender roles (for example), why on Earth would someone who wants a very traditional relationship date *you*?
      If you are strongly non-religious, why would someone extremely devout who wants a life and marriage that revolve around their faith date you?

      Just say who you are and how you live, and people who want the opposite will self-select out. Or if someone contacts you and you don’t like them, don’t go out.

      Even if you wound up going out once, it’s hardly likely to get very far. You’re not going to accidentally fall into a long-term relationship with someone you don’t like or have anything in common with.

      So what that person is really saying is, “I refuse to socialize with X people, even for a single dinner and conversation.”

      Which is a pretty awful thing to say.

    14. Nacho

      I think it’s fair to say something like I wouldn’t date an orthodox Muslim for various valid reasons, but not fair to stereotype all Arabs, or even all Muslims, as orthodox. Same with thinking all Asians are traditional, all blacks are ghetto, etc… You can dislike a culture and recognize that that culture is synonymous with a certain race, but it’s bad to just assume all members of that race belong to that culture.

    15. Ramona Flowers

      I think it’s an awfully big assumption to make that someone will fit a stereotype – that the person has, say, living, non-estranged parents and that they’ll be as assumed and expect you to fit that.

    16. Nye

      You might be interested in reading Dataclysm, Christian Rudder’s book on the statistics of online dating. It pulls extensively from OkCupid data as well as other sources. Some really fascinating (and dismaying) patterns emerge, particularly in terms of race. Been a while since I’ve read it, but as I recall online dating really sucks for black women, who get far fewer messages / replies than other groups.

      Anyway, it’s pretty interesting to see a more data-driven take, and it definitely highlights that discrimination in online dating is a huge problem.

  38. Ask a Manager Post author

    I have a question about health insurance and being on a spouse’s plan. I’ve been buying my own insurance through the marketplace since I’m self-employed, but this year they were going to double my costs, so I put myself on my husband’s plan that he gets through work. I assumed it would work just like having my own plan, but I realized yesterday that since he’s the primary policy-holder, they send all my stuff through him — like my insurance card was mailed to him, and I think my explanations of benefits will go to him, rather than me. This feels kind of annoying (especially since he is not reliable about opening his mail), and I’m wondering what else I don’t know about being a dependent on someone else’s plan. People who do this, are there other differences I should be aware of? (It’s still worth the cost savings, but I want to better understand what to expect.)

    1. NJ Anon

      Do you have your own insurance card? There should be a website and/or “800” number on it where you can ger whatever info you need. Your coverage would be the same as your husbands’.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Yes, they mailed me my own card — but they mailed it to him, which I how I realized this might be a Thing. I’d been waiting for it to arrive for weeks and finally asked him if it might have been sent to him, and he looked through his large pile of unopened mail, and indeed there it was. (As someone who opens all mail the day it arrives, I do not understand his mail habits.) Last night I set up a joint Gmail account that will forward to us both, and put that address in for the EOBs, so now at least we’ll both get them. But the whole set-up seems odd.

        1. CAA

          You might want to make some kind of agreement that you can open mail related to health insurance, even if it’s addressed to him. DH and I have such an agreement for financial things, because he does not believe in reading statements and balancing his checkbook, while I believe in knowing whether or not some bad actor has cloned your debit card and drained your account when you weren’t looking.

          You don’t need to worry about getting a 1095-A any more since you’re on a pre-tax plan, but there are other things like your Certificate of Creditable Coverage that you might need at some point in the future.

          1. Nerdgal

            My DH and I have this agreement for years. I don’t open personal mail unless he asks me to, but insurance and tax stuff is fair game.

          2. Ramona Flowers

            Yes, as the wife of a slow mail opener, I urge you to open things that look like you might need to see them. Or insist he does.

        2. Dan

          Oh, I can explain the mail thing. It’s 2018. I get absolutely nothing in the mail that I’m not expecting and *need* to open.

          Things I get:

          1) County tax stuff
          2) New/replacement credit cards (physical cards, not bills)
          3) Car registration

          You know how often that comes?

          Most bills are electronic now, so that doesn’t even matter.

          I can (and do) go a month between checking my mail, and when I check, it’s full of junk and there’s maybe four things I actually open and maybe one that I *need* to do something with.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Yes, this is how he thinks of it too! But I am pretty sure he does miss important things from time to time so I do not understand it. (Like I just found out his car hadn’t been registered with our new county after we moved, because apparently they sent him a letter asking for info about it and he never opened it and thus never responded, and there is a penalty for that if he doesn’t deal with it in time.) Really, I would like to be in charge of opening all mail that comes to our house, but I’ve learned that my impulses to Take Over are not great for marital harmony.

            1. Earthwalker

              In employee based insurance, you should get a card in January, and if not, ask for one. If it has his name on it, call the insurance company just in case. (We once had his insurance card with my name on it, and the insurance company insisted that was how it should be.) I don’t recall anything ever changing between open enrollment and the end of the insurance year, but if you’re concerned, the helplines are usually good and many insurance companies have a “myhealthcare” website tailored to your situation. You might check with your husband at insurance card time to see if he has the link and login.

            2. Dan

              How responsible is he, generally? There’s a difference between not paying bills and paying them late.

              Since Virginia likes to tax cars at the county level… The county sends out an inquiry each year asking if the car is used for business purposes. If it’s just personal, there is no need to respond to that. They’ll send you a bill several months later, which you have a month or so to pay. Even then, the late fee is $10.

              Also, are your finances separate? If so, you have fewer legs to stand on. If they are joint, then you have more standing to push him.

            3. Not So NewReader

              Ugh on the registration. I am in NY. A friend’s husband did not register the car because of illness and inability to get to DMV or even mail a check. DMV fined the BOTH of them by not allowing them to register a vehicle for six months.

              So now they have no wheels.

              I am an only child, so speaking up is something I have had to watch myself on. But something like this that impacts me or could impact me and my ability to live life, would trigger a “let’s sit down and talk about this” conversation. “Just because you love me does not give you the right to take away my ability to drive in this state.”
              I did have to put my foot down on a few things. We survived and moved on.

            4. Triplestep

              Are “Take Over Impulses” bad across the board? They’re not great in this household either, but I process all incoming mail, and it works out well. If it’s a hand-written envelope addressed to him, he get it unopened. Otherwise I take, open, toss, recycle, shred or deal with whatever gets mailed here. I’m not even sure how this started! But we’ve both acknowledged by now that it works for us.

            5. Ramona Flowers

              Whereas I ignore said impulses because dealing with his mail is a level of emotional labour I refuse to take on for him.

              Once, he said oh, that’s just the such-and-such, that can go in the bin. I said, well you know where it is. Yeah. I’m not doing that. (He’s great otherwise!)

        3. Ruffingit

          I’m the primary on our health insurance, but they mail my husband’s card, EOB, etc directly to him so I think this may be dependent on the insurer. I’d think you could call and request it come to you.

    2. Natalie

      I think this varies quite a bit. My spouse has always been able to set up his own online access where his EOBs and such are delivered. The pre-lim COBRA notice I just got from my job was addressed to both of us, but in the past I’ve gotten things only addressed to me.

    3. neverjaunty

      Not to borrow trouble, but have a backup plan in case his company decides to cut costs. OldJob decided at one point to save money by only offering spousal coverage to those who didn’t have it otherwise available.

      1. Natalie

        In my experience by “not otherwise available” they usually mean not covered by your own employers plan, so I think Alison would be in the clear there.

        1. Beatrice

          Yes, this is my experience, too. My employer allows spousal coverage in all cases, but if the spouse has available coverage at his/her employer, there’s a surcharge for using my company’s coverage. It doesn’t apply if they’re self-employed but able to get coverage on the open market…just if they have available employer coverage and choose not to use it. I pay the surcharge to have us both covered under my employer’s plan, because it’s still cheaper and better than his company’s coverage (my company’s benefits are awesome in general).

          1. Ramona Flowers

            Out of interest, how do they know who should have the surcharge because they can access it through their own employer – is there a way they actually check?!

            1. Beatrice

              If you claim a spouse as a dependent and say you’re eligible to cover them under your insurance without a surcharge, they ask for documentation, yes. I have provided documentation in the past that my spouse is unemployed, and that he’s employed by a temp agency and not eligible for benefits until a later date, for example.

              They don’t ask for documentation at open enrollment, though, just when you enroll and make midyear changes. When I did my open enrollment stuff last year, I discovered that I still wasn’t getting charged the surcharge, even though he’s eligible for insurance at his current job. I was able to fix it with my open enrollment selections without opening up a conversation about paying the surcharge retroactively, so that’s what I did.

    4. Menacia

      I am and have been on hubby’s plan since we got married due to it being better than any other I could get. He is the primary so the cards are sent to him directly, but he’s good about making sure I get my replacement card when he gets them. All details of our plan are available on the plan website to which I have full access. All my appointment and medical results are handled by and go to me. We also have a type of plan where we pay less if we stay compliant with our preventive maintenance check ups (physical, dental, etc.). I receive a letter addressed to me with the list of exams needed for the calendar year, my husband gets his own. My husband does receive the statements for the appointments and treatments for the both of us, they are never addressed to me.

    5. anon24

      I’m 25 so I’m still legally allowed to be on my parents insurance for a few months yet, and it doesn’t cost them any extra, so even though I’m married and live across the state I go through my dad’s. I get my own insurance card mailed to me at my address, and it just shows my dad’s name and my name, not the rest of my family (doesn’t apply to you, I know). I’ve gotten notices of privacy policies at my place, but most info goes to him. But I have online access where I can access all my stuff online (he can’t, because I’m over 18), I manage my own prescriptions online, and I can call the insurance company myself anytime there’s a problem or I have a question. To me, it’s not that big of a deal. The only time it was a huge issue was when I needed to get reimbursed so I could make a payment that couldn’t go straight through the insurance, and they sent the check to my parents and not me. I ended up sending the payment information to my mom, and she paid it with her credit card and then deposited the check into her bank account.

      I’m getting kicked off his insurance in April when I turn 26, but that’s ok because I’ll be working for a company with great insurance by then. I also have a few questions about having my own insurance – is it ok to post on the weekend thread or should I wait until Friday’s work thread?

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Go ahead and post them here!

        I do wonder about the privacy implications of this — like if you were a dependent who didn’t want your parent to know you were getting reproductive health care or birth control, etc., it seems like you would not have privacy in that regard, which I naively hadn’t realized.

        1. amanda_cake

          I’m 24 and on my father’s insurance as it doesn’t cost him extra and it is good coverage (if the local health places will ever end their disputes with Anthem). I’m lucky he doesn’t pay too much attention to the health insurance stuff, because I’d rather him not be all in my business about birth control or mental health things. I think my mother ends up opening most of the important mail in their house.

        2. anon24

          Actually my parents had no idea I had an IUD until a casual conversation with my mom, or that I was seeing certain specialists. They are not allowed to see my medical files at all because I’m over 18. Occasionally they can see that a claim was made from the lab if I have blood drawn, but they don’t know any details, and my mom just confirms with me that yes I did have tests done. She doesn’t know what it’s for, and I’m lucky that she isn’t the type to press. I’m a private person and thankfully my parents respect that.

        3. Anon Was Once A Minor

          Actually, at least on the plan I was on when I was covered through my dad as a minor, my parents still weren’t given any info. I went in for a MRI and my mom called in advance to see how much we would owe out of pocket, and they wouldn’t give her any info, even just on the financial aspect. I think I was 15-16 at the time. HIPPA laws still applied even though it showed that he was the name on the insurance. (I feel like I worded all of that really oddly – apologies!)

        4. Lady Bug

          I’m the primary insurance holder, so I get everyone’s EOBs. For everyone but me, there is no information about the services received, just the date of service and provider. It says something like “withheld for privacy”.
          The individual has to set up an online account to see the details.

          Side note, I had no idea spouse’s had separate mail. Whoever gets the mail just goes through it.

          1. Ramona Flowers

            Well, no, because we are two separate people. Some of the mail is for both of us, like household bills. But some is addressed to one person and I don’t like the idea that being married somehow removes that particular privacy.

            (I also don’t like it when I can’t contact a friend in a couple without it potentially being read by the spouse, eg joint email addresses. Maybe I want to choose who I talk to.)

            It’s not that either of us has anything to hide, it’s just that to me this is partly about personal autonomy. We aren’t one person with one completely joint name.

            1. Beatrice

              In my household, we have joint finances, I handle the bills, and I open everything that is or looks like it might be a bill, regardless of who it’s addressed to. I do not open anything that looks like it might be personal (i.e. handwritten envelopes or things with an individual’s name in the return address rather than a company.)

          2. Ramona Flowers

            PS I’m assuming you mean one person opens it all? If not, my comment doesn’t apply.

            To me this would be like listening into all my conversations.

            Also. I deal with post when I open it. If you open it for me, you’ll screw up my system.

        5. GirlwithaPearl

          Some states have passed laws for EOB privacy both for things like reproductive health care and also counseling or for intimate partner violence situations.

        6. Kuododi

          I do know in some jurisdictions minors who need addiction treatment and do not want to tell their parent or guardian simply have to refuse to sign the release of information. This doesn’t apply to general mental health care (I.e. tx for depression, anxiety, OCD and the like). I am unable to comment on minors privacy concerns regarding routine or emergency medical healthcare. (Outside of my wheelhouse.)

        7. Triplestep

          My college-age daughter is on our plan (I am the primary) and the bills come to the house in her name. I know what they are and I open and pay them. If she didn’t want me to know what she’s doing by way of reproductive health, she’d have to figure something else out. It apparently hasn’t mattered that much to her, and there have been no surprises for me.

          That said, for some reason the pharmacy had my husband’s cell phone number on file as the number for the automated call when the prescriptions associated with our prescription plan were ready for pick up. (Again, I’m the insured so this makes no sense.) My daughter was quite peeved that her step-father got the call that her Rx was ready to pick up. I don’t think he would have put it together that it was for birth control had she not gotten so upset!

          1. Pharmgirl88

            For pharmacies, phone numbers have to be added individually for each patient who has a profile at the pharmacy – and they’re usually added based on what phone number the patients give us (we don’t get any information from the insurance company). Most likely at some point when he was in they asked for a contact number and put in what he gave them (without realizing it was his cell vs. a family home number).

    6. Temperance

      You should be able to set up your own account through the health plan’s website. That way, you can access EOBs and the like.

      I was on Booth’s insurance for a while, and it said something like “Temperance Brennan, c/o Seeley Booth” on the envelope.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Yeah, I can access them online — but when they’re sent out, apparently they’ll go to him rather than to me, which I wasn’t expecting. But now I’ve solved that with the Gmail account forwarding (see ingenious plan described above). I guess I just didn’t realize that anything would be at all different as a dependent.

    7. Kuododi

      DH and I are in SE USA and except for a few brief times I have always been on his plan. (He’s worked in hospital based healthcare all his working career and his options for insurance was historically much better.). I’ve always had insurance cards, EOB, etc sent to DH in my experience. I had to take over collecting mail as my schedule is more flexible than DH and he and your DH apparently are of the same school of thought on how to deal with mail. ;). Otherwise our little patio home would be stuffed to the gills with ignored sales circulars, junk mail and other random nutty stuff.

    8. Mimmy

      That’s probably not unusual – I’m under my husband’s insurance and all of our EOBs go to him; the only EOBs I get directly are for my mental health appointments (our MH plan falls under under our insurance plan but is administered through a separate company).

    9. Enough

      My husband and I have areas of our finances that we each take primary responsibility for the day to day. One of mine is insurance so my husband just gives me all the insurance stuff that comes in.

    10. Blue_eyes

      Hmm. It must vary by plan. I’m a dependent on my husband’s plan and all my EOBs and stuff are sent to me in my name. But I don’t think we did anything to set it up that way, it’s just the way our plan does it.

      I also deal with insurance stuff for the family I work for, and theirs usually get sent to the name of the person the mail is about, but also sometimes get sent to the primary person’s (dad’s) name regardless of who they’re about. I can’t figure out why sometimes it’s in the individual’s name and sometimes in the dad’s name.

      I don’t know how you two sort your mail, but maybe you just need to open anything related to insurance (the insurance company is usually marked in the return address) and then leave it in his pile if it’s actually for him.

    11. Ree

      I’m on my husband’s insurance too – all of our cards(medical, dental and vision) are in his name, none have my name on them.
      We opted out of getting mailed stuff and get all EOBs online.
      The most annoying part was that I had to memorize my husbands social security number because I need it almost every time I make an appointment, which is so annoying.
      As far as I know there isn’t a way around this.

    12. SpousalInsurance

      I’m on my company’s plan and my husband is my dependent. I agree with all the responses about the mail, EOB’s and cards.

      One other issue that came up a couple of years ago was the online portal. With the actual health insurance, he had no problem setting up his own separate logon. The secondary prescription insurance, however, only let us set up one logon under my ID. For the year we had that insurance carrier, I had to manage all his medication renewals (multiple chronic illness, so over 15 meds that changed frequently). That was quite a pain in the butt. Thankfully the coverage changed the next year to another, more reasonable provider.

      It was sucky managing the meds, and if our relationship had been different, we would have been quite pissed about privacy concerns. Even on the better insurance websites, there are sometimes settings where the primary can see all EOB’s but the dependents can only see there own

    13. Melody Pond

      Ooh! I can actually answer some questions about this from the insurance company side! I’m currently working in the billing & eligibility department of a health insurance company.

      As a member, you should be able to create some kind of an online account that is all your own. If you’re not sure about this, call the number on your insurance card to talk to the member services/customer service department, they can point you in the right direction. From the online account, you should be able to set up some rules regarding the EOB’s that are specifically yours – you should be able to opt out of paper EOB’s entirely, and by setting up your online account in the first place, you’ve given them an email address to alert when there are new EOB’s for you, specifically.

      Things that are not covered by HIPAA (like your ID cards) may still continue to go through him. But any of YOUR protected health information (PHI, as it’s known in the industry) should go to you, and/or you should be able to set it up so that it goes straight to you electronically (as in the EOB’s described above).

      It does make sense that the ID cards were addressed to him, because your ID cards would likely have his name on them, anyway. I believe that normally, when providers (doctors) bill insurance companies for claims, they have to know who the subscriber (primary policy-holder) is – so ID cards would normally list both the (a) subscriber’s name and (b) the member’s name, which can be either you or your husband.

      That’s everything I can think of, but if you have any more specific questions that I could answer from the industry standpoint, I’m happy to give them a shot.

      1. Bibliovore

        My husband is on my health insurance. The only time I see anything for him is the yearly cards that I hand over to him. I get no health information. He is the more responsible one when it comes to mail. “you going to open that? might be important” is the refrain. He waves stuff in front of me and I say go ahead open it. Makes him crazy that I can have packages unopened for a a week or so. In my defense, I am a book reviewer and get a lot of mail.

      2. rubyrose

        I work on the IT side of health care, and everything Melody Pond says is correct.

        I will also add that, at least where I have worked, there were capabilities in the system for even the ID cards to go to the dependent. Think a situation where there was a restraining order against the primary holder, where it was critical for the dependent (say a child in foster care, or spouse where there is domestic abuse) to have their whereabouts kept secret from the primary holder. If the primary called the insurance company for information, red alerts came up on the screen to warn the employee not to give out any information. My memory is that there is probably some form that has to be submitted, but that process was relatively painless and it could be done in less dire situations, such as what Alison is describing.

        I do remember, though, having to code and test the ability for procedures, test, and diagnosis related visits that were NOT of a sensitive nature to be available to the primary if no special waivers had been put in place. So, reproductive services were sensitive, a broken arm was not. This was real dicey, because they had myself and someone else in IT making the first cut of what was sensitive! Like I know all that medical terminology.
        We balked and got it passed the medical staff to make the determination.

        So I would really encourage everyone for whom this is an issue to call your insurance company and really question them about what safeguards they automatically have in place and which ones you can invoke by request. I suspect it is going to vary by company.

    14. I'm A Little TeaPot

      Honestly, my mom opens all the important mail regardless of who it’s addressed to. Dad opens his mail, looks at it, put it back in the envelope, puts it in the basket on his desk, and it sits forever. In your case, either your husband needs to commit to opening ALL of his mail immediately, even if he doesn’t deal with it right away, or you start opening medical stuff addressed to him. His choice, but if he fails to open his mail right away, he’ll lose the privilege.

    15. another Liz

      Late to the party, but depending on your plan, you might need husband’s date of birth and/or all or part of his social security number when checking in with a care provider, because you have to verify both your id for treatment and his for billing.

  39. Nervous Accountant

    One of my friends in our group chat suffered a bad haircut and hasn’t stopped complaining for 2-3 days. Normally, I’d be sympathetic as hell but right now I can’t deal w that shit. I know it’s not their loss, and I don’t expect anything more from my friends than what they’ve already done. But…like…right in front of me? I’m really struggling to bite my tongue and not tell her to shut the fuck up. I’m furious.

    1. fposte

      I think you’re furious, but it’s not really at her; it’s at your loss and the universe. She’s just the edge of it that’s sticking out right now.

      You don’t need to be sympathetic *or* to tell her to shut up. Just let it go, remember she’s not in the wrong and that you’ve almost certainly done the same with other people who’ve had losses, and realize this is just part of grief.

    2. CAA

      Can you step away from this group for a few days until this blows over? Sometimes when you’re feeling really raw and everything other people are obsessing about just seems so trivial, it can help to take a step back. It’s o.k. to isolate yourself for a short while if that helps you cope better in the long run.

      1. Nervous Accountant

        Yeah I just turned off all notifications to the entire app; anyone who wants/needs to contact me can find me. Super weird though, I’m not feeling this kind of rage in my other group chat w my coworkers, where we’ve talked about work and. Stuff. Oddly, that’s a welcome distraction. Idk why this bugged me so much.

    3. Cheshire Cat

      Seconding the advice to back off for a few days. Hopefully she will stop complaining by then!

    4. Lizabeth

      She hasn’t gone back to get it fixed to her satisfaction? Then she doesn’t have grounds for complaining.

      1. TL -

        Sometimes you can’t fix it, though, especially if they took off too much length.
        I don’t think it’s helpful to criticize her complaining – I agree with fposte’s read above.

      2. Nervous Accountant

        Idk it was an expensive haircut. I do feel bad, i would be whining too. Just. Can’t in this state.

    1. fposte

      Eddie Izzard’s “weasel, weasel.”

      “They say of the Acropolis where the Parthenon is.”

      Seeing Michael Frayn’s Noises Off for the first time.

      1. fposte

        BTW, not sure now if you were asking about the specific incitement or the reasons why it was so funny. For the latter, I’ll roughly say that unexpected ridiculousness, the kind where the absurdity pedal suddenly hits the floorboard even amid an already funny situation, and an element of camaraderie, whether between me and somebody else watching or with the people providing the ridiculousness, seem to be key.

      2. Katie

        Oh god, so many Eddie Izzard moments kill me. I think I almost died at “If you’ve never seen an elephant ski, then you’ve never been on acid”.

        Also love QI….

    2. Alpha Bravo

      Not sure it was to the point of tears, but … odd things make me laugh the hardest. Like one time I was talking to a friend. He wore glasses, with small roundish lenses. I had just sliced a lemon in half and I was holding half a lemon in each hand. I looked up, and there were those glasses, and I could not help myself. I rubbbed the halves of the lemon onto his glasses with a circular motion, (hearing in my mind a “squeegee “ sound effect as I did so), jumped up and ran away laughing maniacally. I paid for it but that laugh was worth it. The latest thing I saw that made me laugh was a vid of a goat skidding on ice (on purpose, for fun). This is a great question nep!

    3. DMLT

      The antics of my nieces and nephews.
      My kids doing improv on stage and throwing in references to family things no one else would get.

    4. Librarygeek

      From a “What’s the weirdest thing you’ve done while your brain was on autopilot?” thread on Reddit (which was pretty hilarious all around): “Meatlong football.” I don’t even know why, but that just the ridiculous thing that set me off for about five minutes.
      Gallusrostromegalus’s stories on tumblr are also pretty reliably hilarious.

    5. Sue

      Have you ever watched ‘Would I lie to You?’ (A British panel show), some of those episodes made me laugh so much I had to pause it to catch my breath (Kevin Bridges buying a horse, Henning Wehn being on the Interpol missing persons’ list, the cuddle jumper…anything with Bob Mortimer).

      1. fposte

        OMG, I go back to watch the horse story now and then just to cheer myself. I am so glad that they gave it the unusually long amount of time of the program that they did–that’s what makes it art. Greg Davies has some great ones too–I love snorkel parka music room and, of course, Cushin.

    6. New Bee

      The other day we gave our 1-year-old a snack, and she said what sounded like “So good” in the ultimate Valley/vocal fry voice (think Paris Hilton).

    7. Merci Dee

      9 times out if 10, it’s something my daughter has said.

      One episode sticks out. We were in the car on the way to the store near Halloween when she was about 7. She told me a Halloween themed joke — “why is it so easy to lie to vampires?” I thought for a moment but couldn’t come up with the answer. She gleefully responds, “because they’re suckers!”

      It’s not that the joke was so hysterically funny, it’s the way she delivered the punchline. A gleeful little grin on her face, shoulders all hunched, and her sweet little hands rubbing together like a comic book villain. And her voice just had this goofy little lilt. I had to wipe away the tears once I pulled into a parking spot.

    8. LizB

      A number of years ago, my brother and I found a website where you could enter text in English and the website would automatically put it into babelfish (a translation website that tried its best but was not super accurate) and run it back and forth through a bunch of different languages and English. It would then show you how your text evolved through all of these cycles. We could barely read them out loud, we were laughing so hard.

      1. Merci Dee

        Some of my favorite YouTube videos are from the channel “Google Translate Sings”. So hilarious. A lady does the same thing – runs lyrics through 6 or 7 layers of Google Translate, and then performs with the resultant final English translation. I laughed so hard at “Poor Unfortunate Souls”, and at “Make a Man Out of You” that one of her guy friends sang. These folks have amazing voices, and they really go all out with the costumes, scenery, etc. It’s just that you can barely understand what they’re saying because of the humorous mis-translations. Thankfully, they include subtitles so that you can read the song’s real lyrics while they sing the crazy stuff.

        Also …. look up “spoken bohemian rhapsody” on YouTube. I was laughing so hard I had to pause for a bathroom break. Sorry if that’s TMI.

    9. P R fan

      If you google Project Runway and dead cat, you will get 2 minute video of a contestant named Kentaro explaining his inspiration for his fashion collection to Tim Gunn. Kentaro also composed a piece of beautiful music from the inspiration. There were many great moments from Kentaro this season because he is absolutely delightful but this moment took the cake.

    10. Cheshire Cat

      Some of the animal antics videos on YouTube. There’s one of a turtle playing with a ball, and another of a dog sledding–he pulls the sled up the hill & then rides it down!

    11. kas

      I “sleep-texted” my mom. I woke up one morning to a text from her asking what last night was about and when I scrolled up to see the texts, I laughed to the point of tears. She asked me a simple question and my response had nothing to do with the question she asked. I have no idea what I was talking about but I had enough sense in my sleep to correct all of the spelling errors I made. I took a screenshot of it and sent it to my sister and she randomly showed me the other day and we both were crying from laughing so hard.

    12. Earthwalker

      I found the Cake Wrecks website and binge-viewed their whole history back to the beginning. There are so many giggles there.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Omg, yes. There have been dreary days where I just sat down and look at that site until I was crying in laughter.

          1. Triplestep

            Yes, it’s the combination of the cakes and writing that really make it. I remember now why I stopped visiting that site; visually, I find it hard to read. Really could use a re-design, but it’s looked that way forever.

    13. LPUK

      My mother, sister and I were in the cafe of a very middle class department store (John Lewis in the UK) when we started giggling about my Mum’s unique take on talking to foreigners, which is basically to speak in English, but in what she fondly imagines to be the accent they would use if they spoke English – yes, it’s as hysterically bad as that sounds! Anyway, Mum was trying to shut us up, which simply made us giggle more, to the extent that other customers caught the contagion even though they didn’t know why they were laughing. Mum went to pay the bill and my sister and I staggered after her, but we had reached the stage where we were laughing so hard that we could no longer stand up and reeled into Soft Furnishings where I fell to my knees and pushed my head into Ready-made Curtains and my sister collapsed into the Cushion display, howling with laughter. We gathered quite a crowd, but the more they looked, and the crosser my Mum got, the more we laughed. After 10 minutes on the floor we had to CRAWL into the ladies toilets to calm ourselves down. Even then, we were in adjacent cubicles and I would do deep breathing to try and stop, hear my sister tittering through the wall and start laughing again like a loon. My mother has refused to go back to that particular store since. We were in our late twenties at the time.

      1. Merci Dee

        Okay. That’s absolutely hilarious. Both your mom’s habit, and your response to it. I was snickering while I read it.

      2. Jean (just Jean)

        This cracked me up, especially when you Named the Departments into which you and your sister each collapsed before you retreated into the women’s room. Oh, yes, and making the other customers laugh also. Hee hee.

    14. Peggy

      Self-potato from Wheel of Fortune. One time I was visiting my parents and I tried to tell my mom about it and I couldn’t get my words out, i was laugh-crying and hiccuping so hard. So I found it on YouTube and played it for her and she started laugh-crying and we tried to tell my dad why we were laughing so hard and neither of us could talk.

    15. Thlayli

      The scene in Spinal Tap with the dwarf and the model of Stonehenge made me laugh so much I literally fell off a chair.

    16. Sparkly Librarian

      About 2 minutes ago — on my Facebook feed a political figure had posted “Todos somos iguales” and, scrolling by, I read “Todos somos iguanas”.

    17. Ramona Flowers

      My husband sent me a text saying “I’ve been to the dump and got sausages”, and I initially read it like he had got sausages from the rubbish dump, and then I couldn’t stop laughing.

    18. Beatrice

      I bought boots for my dog to wear outside in the snow.

      Watching him try to walk in them was hilarious enough, but when it came time to do a post-poop pawing at the grass, he just looked puzzled at his feet for a moment, and then kind of bucked like a horse. I darn near wet my pants.

    19. Elizabeth West

      One of those random posts on Buzzfeed where they collect a bunch of hilarious photos. They had one the other day that tweaked my funnybone just right. Best of all, it contained some I hadn’t seen before.

      Another thing that always does it is damnyouautocorrect.com.