weekend free-for-all – March 3-4, 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: Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng. Why did it take me so long? I don’t know but it’s wonderful. It’s about family and class and art and convention and loss. Read it!

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

{ 1,310 comments… read them below }

  1. Julianne*

    Little Fires Everywhere was amazing. I was lucky to be one of the first to request it at my library, so I think I got it a week or two after it was released. Can’t wait to read it again, and to see what they do with the TV adaptation!

    1. Peanut*

      When I got Celeste Ng’s first book from the library, I stayed up all night until I finished reading it. I did the same thing with Little Fires. Bonus: Celeste Ng is the nicest person!

      1. Monsters of Men*

        When she tweeted that her mother’s reaction to her reaching the NYT Bestseller List was “OK. Going to brunch now.” I DIED.

    2. Brunch with Sylvia*

      Definitely in the minority here but I just did not love this novel. I was disappointed in the lack of development in the male characters..especially Moody. And as a lifelong Clevelander I was oddly irritated by the references to the local area. It makes me wonder how New Yorkers or Londoners feel when they (often) read about their hometowns in a fictional setting.

      1. phyllisb*

        I liked it, but felt like the ending was left hanging. It makes me wonder if there will be a sequel.

  2. Leela*

    How often do you really have to water a lawn? When in the year do you need to start doing it? This is my first time having a lawn to take care of and I’m clueless! Do I need a sprinkler system? Just me and a hose? What else do I need to know to take care of grass?

    1. nep*

      I know some people who ‘sacrifice’ having a terrific-looking lawn in order to conserve water. (And I guess in some cities water is rationed so people can’t water the lawn just whenever they want.) Just putting this out there as water conservation might be something to consider, especially depending on where you are.

      1. the gold digger*

        I am very Darwinian about my lawn. It needs to survive on the rainfall we get. I refuse to go through the hassle of watering.

        When the poor ChemLawn guy knocked on our door, trying to sell us lawn treatment services, I said, “Look at our yard. Does it look like I care if I have weeds?”

          1. The Other Dawn*

            Same here. I can’t be bothered to water the lawn. I will, however, water my garden (which isn’t big) since I’m trying very hard to maintain one and not kill it all.

        1. Snark*

          I tilled my yard and planted a mix of aridity-adapted shortrgrass prairie species in most of it, and a patch of nice-looking artificial grass for playing on. We’re in Colorado; it’s insane that we use what little water we have on Kentucky bluegrass, this side of the hundredth.

          1. Also in CO*

            Oooh, tell me more about what kind of grass you planted. I have a small yard and I despise watering the lawn. It seems so very wasteful of both water and my time. I’m looking into finally doing something with it this year that will make things easier on me and our (eventual) renters.

            1. Snark*

              I got a mix of native seeds from the local garden place – Spencer’s in Colorado Springs, if you’re familiar with it. Mostly buffalograss, blue and sideoats grama, some tall fescue.

              1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

                How long did it take to get established? My parents live in this area and have a huge new lawn to make pretty. They had clover at their old house but it was still very scrubby looking.

            2. Clever Name*

              Buffalograss does fine here with no watering after establishment. Plus it’s a very short grass so you don’t really have to mow it.

              1. Snark*

                Yeah, I’ve been very happy with it. We mow it periodically to keep it kind of level, but it’s been very low-maintenance.

          2. Falling Diphthong*

            I read a book about yards, after getting it for my mil. A striking detail was that everyone in the stop-farming-grass group had some grass in their yard–you can’t beat it for a play surface with kids or dogs. They just didn’t use the whole outdoor expanse for flat grass.

          1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

            I actually really like dandelions! There’s a field behind my house that sometimes is covered in them and it’s quite lovely.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              I also like dandelions, gosh darn it.

              Nothing with prickles, but if it flowers I’m fine with it showing up.

          2. Elf*

            Dandelions aren’t ornamental, they are a food crop! They are better than any other type of greens I’ve tried in soups that call for greens.

    2. RestlessRenegade*

      Really depends on your climate, amount of rainfall, size of the yard, etc! There also might be local watering laws to consider–where I am, we can only water one day a week at this time of year. Sprinkler systems make everything much easier, but you either have to install them or get them installed, and they do require a bit of maintenance (if a sprinkler head breaks for instance.) If your yard is small, you can probably get away with a sprinkler attachment that you put on the end of your hose and let run for a while. I’d say that if you notice the grass getting brown, it’s time to water more often and/or longer.
      I live in a place where it gets over 100° basically every day from June to August, and we had to water four times a week to keep the lawn nice. But I’d you’re in a cooler climate, you might not have to water so often. :)

      1. Wendy Darling*

        And if your yard is big you can still get away with the sprinkler attachment on the end of your hose, you just have to spend seriously all day dragging it around to different parts of your lawn.

        Two reasons I hate housesitting for my parents: 1. cleaning the cat box; 2. watering their accursed lawn. They looked into an in-ground sprinkler system but it was outrageously expensive and you only actually have to water your lawn ~4 months out of the year here because it rains enough.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I live in New England, and only water when the weather is hot and it hasn’t rained in a long time. There is a narrow band in which I consider watering worthwhile, and the town hasn’t imposed outdoor watering restrictions.

      I’m with Renegade on “when the grass gets brown” and gold digger on your landscaping needing to work with your climate.

    4. Fiennes*

      I live in an incredibly humid area, so here the answer is “never.” If I lived someplace where watering would be necessary, I think I’d find a native-plants/non-lawn solution. A lot of flat green just isn’t worth the trouble, to me.

    5. only acting normal*

      In Britain and similarly temperate rainy climates, never. It might die back to yellow/brown in a rare heatwave but you can trust that it will recover.
      I have Australian relatives and their lawn is a very different type of grass to the typical British lawn, much more drought resistant coarser grass that needs less water.
      What else to know? Don’t mow it when wet. If it gets very long, don’t cut it down to super short all in one go (a mower is more likely to rip it out by the roots if you try), you have to trim it a bit at a time and let it recover in between.
      Some lawns get mossy (unlikely if you are somewhere very dry) – some people see this as a problem and de-moss, I quite like it – it stays green when the grass is struggling and is pleasantly spongy soft to walk on.

      1. Can’t remember my name*

        I can’t even think of my lawn with over two feet of snow sitting on top of it right now. We haven’t even seen our lawn since before Christmas. But it was really hot and dry last summer and we tried to be very minimal in our watering. Our lawn didn’t look very green but didn’t get totally brown and dry either. The thing is nobody’s lawn looked good so it didn’t matter. The rare house here and there with a bright green healthy lawn looked out of place. Kind of shouting out to the world “We Waste Water!” Some of my neighbors have replaced their lawns with xeriscape which I would love to do but my husband loves his lawn.

      2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        I’d love to have my whole front garden covered in the nice spongy moss stuff. I love it, but my attempts to get it established have not been very successful.

    6. fposte*

      I live in an area of the midwest where spring is wet and July/August gets hot and dry. Some lawns go dormant then and there’s a local mix of people who water to stave that off and people who don’t; I’m in “people who don’t.” I’ll water garden plants that are new that year and that’s it.

    7. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      I don’t generally water my lawn. Just means I have to mow it more often, so why would I punish myself?

      I will water other plants, but I purposefully select ones that will do just fine if I don’t. So I end up watering only NEW plants, or if it’s really dry for an extended period. I figure if a plant can’t survive without my watering it constantly, it’s the wrong plant for my area. I like low maintenance yards.

      1. Saucy Minx*

        First, do you really need a lawn? How big must it be, & why? Would you set up a net & play volleyball or badminton all spring & summer, or do you want a flat patch of green just for looks? If there’s enough room for doing somersaults, would that be sufficient?

        Can you go w/ ground covers, shrubs, & trees? My childhood memories are of stalking through the shrub borders & studying the grape hyacinths as they came up, then the daffodils. Good place to hide, too.

        Most important, choose native plants. They will thrive in your local conditions & not need extraordinary care, plus will offer shelter & food to wildlife & to honeybees.

    8. Mephyle*

      It depends a lot on your climate, your weather, and your expectations. If you want a green lawn all the time, water it if it hasn’t rained in a few weeks, or if it’s not looking lush and green. However, if your region is experiencing a drought or has chronic water shortages, your water use may be restricted.
      Know that if your lawn goes dry and brown, it will revive when it starts receiving consistent water again, even if it looks totally dead. So if you live where there is a yearly dry season, you can choose to just roll with it, let it go dry, and wait for the rainy season to revive it. The upside is that during the dry season, you hardly have to mow, if at all.
      Likewise if your region is experiencing a drought and you are restricted from watering your lawn, don’t worry about it; it will turn green again when the water or rain comes back.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Very baseline, keep it mowed. Keep it trimmed around trees, shrubs, etc.

      I hate saying this but do look to see what your neighbors are doing. If everyone has manicured lawns then you will probably end up doing the same or people will gripe.

      I live in rural America so I have no sprinkler system and no lawn fertilization program. Every August my lawn is brown, so is everyone else’s.

      If you are asking about a sprinkler system, I am guessing you do not have one and in an even larger leap in logic, I am going to guess that you do not need one to fit in with the neighbors.

      The other baseline thing to know is to rake up the leaves in the fall. Leaves will smoother a lawn if left all winter.

      How big is your yard, roughly? And do the houses around you look prim and proper and manicured?

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        A counter to mowing–if you have a yard that isn’t that visible and can get overgrown (e.g. fenced backyard) then it can be good to let the first round of growth in the spring go to seed. Grass is incredible at trapping moisture down at the roots–like, in a drought, midday, my feet would get wet–if it’s allowed to grow long. Letting the nearby successful grass donate its seed mix to any adjacent bare patches is the most effective patching we’ve ever done.

    10. Lujessmin*

      My lawn is on its own. If God doesn’t water it, then it doesn’t get watered. I have a lawn treatment service that comes by 4-5 times a year to keep the crabgrass and dandelions at bay, and soon my yard guys will start mowing.

    11. Lujessmin*

      My lawn is on its own. If God doesn’t water it, then it doesn’t get watered. I have a lawn treatment service that comes by 4-5 times a year to keep the crabgrass and dandelions at bay, and soon my yard guys will start mowing.

    12. Mrs. Fenris*

      I don’t water my lawn. I water flowers and vegetables, but the lawn is sink or swim. However…I do recommend having a lawn company come out and do the fertilizers and pre-emergents and stuff. I cancelled ours during the financial crisis, figuring how hard could it be to put down a $60 bag of pre-emergent in the spring or whatever, and the weeds really took hold. My lawn looked like a million bucks when we bought this house in 2004 and now it looks terrible, and my only real cure is to get new sod for a cool $4K.

      1. Anono-me*

        Maybe check out this month’s Handyman Magazine. They have an article about improving not so good lawns.
        In the past, I have found their advice to be pretty good.

    13. Expert Camelid Midwife*

      Speaking of all this grass, I really want to know what type of grass is in the park that looks up at the Goldengate Bridge and across from Alcatraz. That is some of the most lush and softest grass my bare feet have ever felt and I want to grow it in my yard. LOL

    14. LilySparrow*

      I don’t water anything that doesn’t feed me or my pollinators.

      If the grass dies, we throw clover seed on it.

    15. TiffIf*

      When I first moved from the east coast to the Rocky Mountains I was amazed to find that people watered their grass, on purpose.
      It really depends on where you live and what the climate is like. Nobody I knew growing up had sprinklers or ever bothered to water the lawn, but it is standard in desert/drier areas.

    16. Wrench Turner*

      Since owning my own home I have never watered the lawn, nor raked leaves. I only mow when I think the county is going to get grumpy. We water the garden where our food grows but that’s it. Anything else is a waste of resources to me. Our yard is healthy with its own leaves and trimmings, and if it gets a little dry so be it, it comes back with the rains. I live in a blue collar area so I don’t need to keep it looking like a golf course.

    17. Lady Russell's Turban*

      My mom once complained to my grandmother about having to mow the lawn yet again. My grandmother replied, “Margaret, if you didn’t water so much you wouldn’t have to mow so often.” I took that lesson to heart and never water. In the spring or a rainy summer, I sometimes have to mow twice a week, but some years in the height of summer I can go weeks without mowing. I have plenty of weeds that keep the yard looking green.

    18. N Twello*

      My town has strictly enforced by-laws about watering. We can only water our lawns one day each week, and on that day only for a couple of hours in the morning or evening.

      During the dry part of the summer, all the lawns in town get brown and brittle. They look dead but they’re just dormant. As soon as it rains they green up.

      I think that’s a good way to treat lawns.

    19. Anono-me*

      Check at a local nursery or hardware store or wait and ask a neighbor with a nice lawn for advice.
      Things to keep in mind:
      Watering early in the morning is best. (Midday heat will evaporate some of the water and evening watering risks fungus and other growth. )
      Watering thoroughly 1 time is better for deep root growth than watering lightly several times.
      Keep your lawnmower blade sharp to cut rather than rip the grass. You can tell when you are overdue for a sharpening if the tools of individual blades of grass look uneven and beige. (If you are handy you can take remove the blade and take it to the hardware store for sharpening your self.)
      Be sure any trees in your yard get enough water. Thirsty trees can cause all kinds of problems.
      If it freezes where you live; underground sprinkler systems need to be preped for winter each year to remove the water from the pipes.

      I have a very very long hose and a tractor sprinkler. Very old school, but it is about $150.00 and only takes about 5 minutes to set up for my huge back yard.

  3. matcha123*

    I have a hard time getting bad thoughts from taking over my waking moments. What do you guys do to distract yourselves? I’ve started writing a diary again. I’ve tried redirecting my thoughts. I’ve tried letting myself feel sad, etc. for a few moments and move on. I’ve tried exercise. I’ve tried talking with friends.
    Everything works for that time, but when I’m home, or in the shower, my mind runs through everything. I am tired of being this stressed. What do you guys do?

    1. nep*

      Wow crazy timing here. I’ve been thinking the past couple days — I wonder how common or uncommon it is to live, as I generally do, in a constant stream of fear, stress, sadness. Nights are especially bad. I wept in bed the other night because it’s just getting so OLD. (I hate crying.)
      And I’m one who has known the power of simply living in the moment and letting go the fear and stress; it really does work for me. And I am very aware of how fortunate I am. Also I’m much better off when I’m taking good care of my body — everything’s just better when I feel healthy. Just lately the negatives have been really heavy — a lot at once. And it’s Just. Constant.
      I don’t necessarily have advice…Just, I hear you. I hope you’ll find some relief.

      1. matcha123*

        Thanks, same to you, too. I feel better after exercising or having a cry. I’ll think that I’m foolish for brooding over silly things and that I need to just brush it off, then I think about how I’ve had to hold it together for years with limited support and all the depressing thoughts just creep back in. Stress is high and I push myself to look toward the good and remember the good, but it’s hard.

          1. LilySparrow*

            Yes, if you feel like it’s constant and taking over your life, definitely high time for a chat with a doc.

        1. Etg*

          Agree with Thayla. My partner has the overactive brain problem like you describe, and finally saw a doctor after many years. Talk therapy with a counselor helped, and a low dose of Lexapro just took the edge off the anxiety. They’re so much happier.

          I had different issues (ADD), and decided that I’d spent enough years trying coping strategies, feeling guilty for failing, etc etc, and for me, too, a little bit of medication has made me feel more like a functioning human. I sleep better, feel more confident and less anxious.

          I’m not a big fan of unnecessary medication, and everyone’s needs are different, but for me it meant doing myself a kindness, and acknowledging that I’d done my best and still needed a little help. But talk therapy alone can also be great for giving you coping strategies and finding root causes.

          1. matcha123*

            I’ve started opening up more to friends. They’ve shared with me for years and I think I’m at a place now where I can cash in on some of the accumulated stuff I’ve been carrying. It does feel a lot better to share something with multiple people, get their thoughts, and work towards a solution.
            I have been able to remind myself of what friends have said and that does a lot to talk me down from working myself up. And realizing that if a friend or other person doesn’t like me, that’s ok and I don’t need their approval.

        2. Betsy*

          You sound very self-critical (I am too so I understand). If you can change some of the ways you’re talking to yourself and cut out some of the labels like foolish or silly, and stop trying to push yourself to do things, that could really help.

        3. Tootsiemoll*

          Just a thought. The anxiety/stress you are experiencing is its own thing – not triggered by ‘silly foolish things’ – those are just what the anxiety/stress are grabbing onto to express itself. So if you are thinking, “my problems are small, I don’t need help” you could be right you don’t need help with the ‘silly things’ – but you may need help with the anxiety.

    2. RestlessRenegade*

      I don’t know if this is exactly applicable, but I struggle with intrusive thoughts a bit, and I also have social anxiety which partly manifests in me examining every little embarrassing social moment I have (and there are tons.) Something that has helped me with the intrusive thoughts is just accepting them. “Sure, I might cut my fingers up with my shaving razor. So what?” This robs them of the fear they once carried, because instead of putting all my effort into “don’t think that don’t think that don’t think that” I can just accept it and move on. I do a similar thing with recounting bad experiences– “Yep, that was embarrassing. Next!”
      Accepting the things I don’t like or wish weren’t happening has made it easier to deal with them because I’m not wasting energy debating or ignoring them. I hope that helps in some way!

      1. matcha123*

        It does and that’s similar to what I am reminding myself of. Life really is too short to waste feeling down. I get out and push myself to do the things I enjoy because I know it makes me feel better and helps uplift me.

        1. RestlessRenegade*

          That’s great! Something else I was thinking about too is that if I’m having a bad day, sometimes I just say, “I’m having a bad day today, and that’s okay.” I try not to beat myself up if I spent the day being negative or sad, because I just feel worse.
          I hope you find peace and feel better!

      2. MommaCat*

        With my intrusive thoughts, I’ve just decided that it’s my brain’s way of warning me of potential dangers…by giving me the worst-case scenario. “Throw that important paper out of the car window!” Oh, my brain is worried about losing the paper. I should roll up the windows so it doesn’t fly out. “I’m going to hit the baby’s head on the wall, oh no!” Well, let’s walk carefully around this corner, then; seems like a good idea to be careful with a baby, anyway. Hopefully this helps!

    3. Lily Evans*

      I find that forcing myself to think about something else works well. That something else can be a lot of things, like trying to run through the score of an entire musical (or just putting music on and singing along) or a movie I haven’t seen in a while, listening to a podcast and trying to actually pay attention, trying to remember something like a recipe or a poem or an old dance combination. Recently when I’m trying to fall asleep, I pick a day in my life where something memorable happened and try to walk through the day step-by-step, remembering a many of the details as I can. I also tend to get back into creative hobbies when I’m trying to distract myself from my own thoughts. I always keep some painting stuff around, and writing fiction always helps too because it’s worrying about fake problems for a while. If all else fails, binge watching a truly mind numbing reality tv show always helps for a bit.

    4. Emilie*

      I’ve felt like this during periods of my life. Honestly, getting therapy helped much more than I would have ever imagined. Cognitive therapy worked for me, but it might be different for other people. I always had the thought that “I’m not sad/stressed/anxious/whatever enough to go to therapy”, but that was just a part of all the bad thoughts for me. Talk to a therapist! It does wonders, and noone should live a life feeling stressed and sad, when there are things to be done about it! I’m rooting for you!

      1. matcha123*

        I’ve been doing something for a few years which I found out later is basically my own version of cognitive therapy. I’m working in a foreign country and therapy isn’t as big as back in the US. Logically I know that everyone doesn’t hate me and think I’m stupid. Logically I know that someone I had/have a crush on isn’t targeting me when they post pictures with their SO. Over the past two years I feel like my grip on my emotions has been all over the place. I know that my friends wouldn’t look down at me for asking for help, but I feel like a huge burden when I keep sharing the same things. I make an effort to ask about their lives so I don’t dominate the conversation and I agree to outings. I really hope I can crush this this year.

      2. nep*

        This is so interesting to me.
        I have absolutely zero inclination to reach out to a therapist. Just wouldn’t do it.
        I hear of so many people who see therapists (among my friends/family)…I just find it fascinating because it truly is the last thing I would do. I really can’t put a finger on why. (I truly detest sitting with someone and talking about my stuff.)

          1. LilySparrow*

            The thing is, you totally don’t have to talk about “your stuff” if you don’t want to. The most helpful therapists/counselors Ive had asked stuff like, “what’s your goal, what would you like to change about the way you deal with x”

            Or, “Let’s make a plan for things you might do when Y happens,”

            It’s not like the movies at all.

            1. nep*

              I can’t think of any therapy scenes I might have in my mind from a movie.
              Even the idea of sitting there with someone asking me questions like that…Nope. Not a draw for me in the least.
              I wonder — do some people go to therapy kicking and screaming, not wanting to go but ‘having’ to, and get something out of it? Probably.
              Anyway, interesting and thanks for the insight.

              1. Emilie*

                Every trip to my therapist’s office involved a pounding heart, sweaty hands and the desire to run away and hide. I did not enjoy it. But therapists are trained in talking to people who don’t like to talk to people, and I never actually felt uncomfortable or like she wanted me to talk about things, that I wasn’t comfortable sharing. It was pretty much like LilySparrow described; very focused on what I wanted to change, and how I was going to change it. It wasn’t me crying or talking about my emotions (but you can totally find a therapist who does that sort of thing, if this is what you feel like you need).

                Therapy is like going to the dentist, in my opinion. Noone really enjoys it. But it’s an important part of keeping yourself healthy and taking care of yourself.

                1. nep*

                  I’ve never heard it put that way.
                  I think we can accept that everyone needs to go to the dentist; the teeth, which every human has, will rot and can turn even fatal if not properly cleaned and maintained. I don’t think everyone needs to see a therapist in the same way as everyone needs to see a dentist. I don’t think I’m ‘protesting too much’ here just because of my non-interest in going to therapy — just curious about people’s thoughts on that.
                  I think people have many various ways — let’s say, in lieu of therapy — of keeping themselves healthy and taking care of themselves.

                2. Kj*

                  Nep, I’m a therapist and I completely agree that there are many ways to keep yourself healthy w/o therapy. That said, some people can’t figure those out without help and a good therapist should help work him or herself out of a job by giving people ways to do that. I tell the kids I work with the goal of therapy is not to need therapy anymore. I love when people graduate therapy and don’t need me anymore. I see myself like a medical specialist- when I have a throat issue, I go to my ENT for as long as I need to. Then I don’t go again until/if I have a problem. That is how I help the kids I work with(I only see kids). It isn’t for everyone, but as I tell folks, a therapist is a resource that not everyone needs, but when you need it you really need it. I see a therapist at times myself, although I’ve gone years without needing to as well.

              2. Another person*

                Therapy was super terrible but also helpful. My mom likes to describe it like physical therapy. Going to physical therapy can hurt a lot and sometimes they tell you to change something that seems tiny and stupid and won’t really make a difference, but if you follow through with it, even if it hurts or seems pointless, it does usually end up helping.

              3. Cedrus Libani*

                I’ve never been to therapy voluntarily, and I’ve still gotten something out of it.

                In grad school, I hit a rough patch, and it became clear to me that I needed to be on antidepressants for awhile. And I had to go to therapy to get them, and I very much did not want to. But I went anyway. Within about twenty minutes, the guy had figured out my problem, and had called me out on it. “But I actually AM worthless if I’m bad at my job… *blink* …you’re right, I should work on that.” And I did work on that, and the depression went away.

                Just as an athlete might have bad physical habits, causing reduced performance or even long-term damage, brains can have bad mental habits. It can be easier to correct these problems if you have a coach who can stand outside and watch you objectively. I don’t think it’s absolutely required, it just helps. I do think that if you’ve got one of those brains that will happily attack itself if you let it – and I do – learning to step outside your own thoughts and view them with coach-like objectivity is literally a matter of survival. I’d recommend a classic book about cognitive-based approaches, “Feeling Good” by David Burns. No wibble about your childhood, or your dreams, or your innermost fears – just practical techniques to deal with your brain when it’s in self-destruct mode.

                (And yes, I’ve also had years of therapy that were worse than useless. I have OCD – born with it, diagnosed age 5 – and got dragged in once a week to talk about it. I didn’t really understand what they wanted, but I learned real quick that if I said anything bad, they would repeat it to my parents. And then I’d get, at best, fussed at, and would probably also get punished. So I played with their toys, and told the happiest stories I could think of, and it was a complete waste of everyone’s time.)

    5. FrontRangeOy*

      Tetris or Some other game with repetitive patterns and problem solving. There are a few pilot studies floating around that use these types of games to interrupt thinking patterns in people experiencing PTSD and other mental health crisis. Twenty or 30 minutes is usually enough time for me to get over a negative or escalating pattern and over time it’s gotten easier to interrupt myself without need for a game.

      1. Alice*

        Ooh, tangrams! That’s the game with, I don’t know, six or seven geometric pieces in different shapes. You can get sets in wood or plastic, and you try and combine them to make silhouettes from a book of patterns. Nice analog option compared to Tetris.

    6. Thlayli*

      Things that work best for me are the obvious stuff like exercise getting enough sleep eating healthily avoiding alcohol etc.

      Sometimes it’s not possible to do all of that though and at those times I do struggle. Things that work sometimes are watching comedy, reading until tired, thinking about happy stuff.

      1. nep*

        Watching some of my favourite comedy sitcoms on YouTube sometimes helps me as well. I had to finally just ‘allow’ myself to ‘waste’ time doing that. It’s another case of just letting myself be in the moment and enjoy what is, rather than overthink and second-guess every little thing.
        I’m quite glad we’re coming up to milder weather. Sunshine and fresh air do absolute wonders.

      2. Trixie*

        This. I also focus on the good things, gratitude list if you will. The biggies include health, family, close friends. Then those things I’ve accomplished which can help me on to other goals. But some days I just accept I’m not feeling great and go with it, knowing it will pass.

      3. matcha123*

        I actually have started watching more comedy specials and noticed how laughing helped.

    7. StrikingFalcon*

      I think at the point where you feel like they are taking over your life, it is worth talking to a professional, if that’s an option.

      For me, I’ve had two patterns of negative thoughts I’ve been grappling with recently. The first was unrealistic expectations of myself – basically yelling at myself for not doing “enough” even when “enough” was physically impossible. That one was an easier habit to break than I thought it would be – I just worked on replacing the mean thoughts with calmer, more accurate thoughts, like “I made a mistake” not “what is wrong with you.” I would say that one took a few months to improve by 80 or 90%.

      The other, more intrusive thoughts are a symptom of anxiety. Specifically I get really disproportionate feelings of shame over minor social interactions. Going on medication made an unbelievable difference – I had no idea how much stress I was under until suddenly it was gone. I still get them sometimes – I’ve been talking to my therapist lately about them, and she says shame is a fear response. That we feel like that when our minds think that the thing we did / said could put us in danger (e.g. leave us socially isolated, etc.). It’s really hard to bring them up, but talking them over with her completely robs them of any power.

    8. M*

      I have struggled with this a LOT. I have found a good therapist who is helping me so I recommend that. I specifically looked for someone with experience with CBT, as it focuses on thoughts and behaviors rather than a more traditional talking about my childhood therapy. (Also, I always tell people I went through 3 therapists before I found the one I go to now– therapy is all about the relationship so if you get someone who is not the best fit at first, it can be worth it to try again).

      But, even more, (and I know this is going to sound crazy because I thought it was crazy before I tried it) I started eating grain and sugar-free. I experienced a significant -HUGE really- reduction in both social anxiety and negative thought patterns. It’s made me a little scared of how much influence whatever billions of tiny bugs living in the human intestinal tract have over our brains. But that aside, I can say as a skeptic that it really has worked for me and my quality of life is significantly improved. After about 4 months of eating differently, I attended an annual conference in my industry that in the previous years I had spent hiding in my hotel room during any non-mandatory event. The most recent one, I found myself much more easily spending time with colleagues, networking, and participating in some of the more social events. I had a colleague tell me she thought I didn’t like anyone before that. I realized how much my anxiety was holding me back in my career as well as my social life.

      Because everyone always asks: I followed the Primal Blueprint but there are a ton of versions of this and I won’t say that this one is right for everyone or that this will work for everyone but it has more than worked for me.

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        I had the same experience. I’m a scientist, and I know how this sounds…but I’ve had OCD since I was self-aware enough to notice, and it went away. I did not expect that to happen. I just went on a diet because I was getting fat.

        My diet is high-fat, low-carb. I’m that weirdo with the half-gallon of heavy cream in the work fridge. I’ve never felt better, either mentally or physically.

    9. Fiennes*

      This used to be a huge issue for me. It still crops up, but largely I’ve gotten much better. What I did:

      1) got diagnosed with depression & found meds that work for me

      2) did four years of CBT with the guy I refer to as my “one true therapist.” He understood me, and knew how to say things in a way I could hear. That ended a decade ago, but I still analyze a lot of my more extreme emotions through that lens and am often able to work through them.

      3) exercised more. People can talk about endorphins all they want, but honestly I think the biggest thing it does for me is make me so tired that I have to fall asleep instead of tossing and turning with bad thoughts.

      The CBT can really be invaluable if you find the right therapist. One of my huge issues was falling into mental ruts—these endless cycles of anxiety/sadness/frustration that repeated and reinforced themselves. It was the CBT that taught me how to recognize this kind of thing and push through it.

      Good luck to you. I know it’s awful.

    10. Florida*

      When you start thinking about bad things, try counting backwards from 100 by 8’s (or any other thing that requires you to actually concentrate). It can’t be saying the alphabet or counting by 2’s because you can do that mindlessly. By the time you are finished, you won’t be thinking of bad thing anymore.
      Depending on what the bad thing is, you may have to do this a lot, like several times a day.
      This sounds very hokey, almost like something you would tell a kid to do, but try it a few times before you would dismiss it.

      1. FrontRangeOy*

        This is very similar to playing a game that uses problem solving and patterns to disrupt the thought process . And doesn’t need an electronic device that may disturb sleep patterns more. I hope this helps OP, it will certainly help me

    11. only acting normal*

      I’d recommend trying it under the supervision of a councillor/therapist at first but Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) worked for me, especially the breathing exercises. It takes a bit of regular practise to get the hang/habit, then if you find bad thoughts intruding again at any time you can use the skill to stop the cycle.

    12. Overeducated*

      For me, two things. One is trying to fill up my time more with joyful things so I have less time and space for those thoughts. The other is leaning into them…like, way in, so instead of focusing on a particular worry I think and read about the inevitably of death*, how short a time we have on this planet and with each other, where my worry is in perspective to that…it doesn’t make me happy, but I don’t think being happy is necessarily the goal here, I would like to be better at accepting thr whole reality of life.

      *Caveat: I am not currently staring the immediate death of myself or loved ones in the face, grief is a very different kind of beast.

    13. Yetanotherjennifer*

      I think you’re doing the right things, and they’re working. The problem is you’re expecting the right thing that you did yesterday to prevent today’s negative thoughts and it can work that way but it takes a really long time. Think of your brain like it’s a 5 year old that knows it will get cookies if it nags often enough. You have to say no many more times than the last time when you gave in before they will accept the no. And you have to do that many more times to prove that yes, this time you also mean no. And that next time you will also mean no. And then they’ll still occasionally check to see if maybe today is special. Some people will be able to retrain their brains to have less negative thoughts. Some people can do that with a little extra help from medication. Some people will always have a higher level of negative thoughts that occur, even with medication and behaviors, and need to focus on accepting that while continuing the techniques that work for them. To use another analogy, it’s like diabetes or many other chronic conditions: some people get better or even are “cured” with treatment. Some people, no matter how well they follow their treatment protocol, will always have it and will always need to be in treatment. It doesn’t mean they’re doing it wrong or need to try something else.

      You can also try using a more neutral approach and label negative thoughts as “unhelpful.” I have hobbies that I can get completely absorbed in that quiet my negative thoughts. I’m often listening to podcasts while I do them which also helps. And my brother once mentioned that he doesn’t notice the daily benefit of exercise on his anxiety, but he notices the change when he stops exercising. I also think it helps to think of yourself on the same side as your thought patterns and work with yourself to make a change instead of fighting the thoughts.

      1. matcha123*

        I will keep this in mind. I spent twoish years working through issues I had with my relationship with money and I now know how to recognize the times and things that will set me on edge. I guess since my current thoughts are related to people around me, it might take a little more time and dedication.
        Exercise has definitely played a huge role in helping my mood. I have a mental checklist that I go through when I am feeling bad and lack of exercise is one item I look for.

    14. Not So NewReader*

      Get your hands busy. It does two things makes us think about the immediate activity AND because we are touching things in the process of keeping our hands busy it tends to ground us, bring us back from where ever we were at.

      I would also look at minerals/electrolytes. It sounds like you have done most of the things that are like a “tune-up” for your brain, so it could be that you are low on minerals. No amount of positive thinking is going to increase depleted minerals in the body.
      You could check out a drink with electrolytes in it. Here is something pretty cool to know, if you need the minerals the drink probably will taste good to you. If you don’t need the drink, it may not taste all that great. I have the same experience with bananas. When I am low on potassium, I catch myself thinking “Gosh, I don’t remember bananas tasting this fantastic.” Then I have a second banana. It does not taste as good as the first. Probably because my potassium levels are starting to come up again after the first banana.

      Not a doc, but from my own experience, if my heart is tired my thinking will tank. Again no amount of positive thinking or positive actions is going to fix this. In this case I need some vitamin B and a nap.

      How’s your water intake? Even minor constipation can mess up our thinking. Make sure those bowels are working more than once a day.

      And a big picture question, are you happy with how life is going? More importantly are you content with how things are? You know, if we are not content in our setting then our minds can really kick in to warp drive trying to pull us out of where we are at.

      1. matcha123*

        You might be on to something with minerals and water. I can go all day without drinking anything and it’s not until I feel moody, have a headache, feel down that I realize that I have only had a cup of coffee all day. It’s interesting you mentioned constipation because I felt great after a spectacular bowl movement the other day.
        I’m not terribly content with my life at the moment. It’s better in some areas, and I’m pushing myself to study new things so that I can eventually open new doors.

    15. TheLiz*

      You said you’ve been carrying things for years, and are beginning to get better. Give yourself time – you have strategies that are working great, and chewing over things you wouldn’t let yourself feel at the time may very well taper off after a while. (Doesn’t help with the day-to-day, but I hope it’s something to look forward to?)

    16. Junior Dev*

      Hey, you’re always welcome to post in the mental health thread I do every week.

      As someone who has dealt with anxiety and depression my whole life:

      * Journaling
      * Doing a hobby or sport that’s totally unrelated to whatever life responsibility is stressing you out
      * Regular exercise. I don’t know if your relationship with exercise is one where you’ve been guilted about it or felt it’s something you “should” do but don’t want to. All I can say is that biking, weight lifting, roller skating, yoga, running, and hiking have all helped me immensely; if you can find some way to move your body you genuinely enjoy I think it will help a lot. It doesn’t have to be a traditional form of exercise–dancing, rock climbing, volunteering to plant trees or pick up trash, walking a friend’s dog.
      * Talking to friends and family. If you worry about burdening anyone, try to spread out who you talk to, and be sure to ask them how they’re doing too.
      * Seeking professional help. I see a therapist every week who’s been so helpful in helping me sort out my various insecurities and distorted thoughts, and I just started a new medication that has helped so much. You don’t have to do this, but if you do you don’t have to take a medication or see the same therapist for the rest of your life, and you can see a doctor or counselor just to talk over your options without making a decision right away.

    17. Lissa*

      Me too. I’m in the process of trying to see a therapist or counselor for what I suspect may be OCD or similar, but it’s gotten *bad*. It’s weird, because for me…I lived in a bad situation as a kid and didn’t get away until I was 20. My mental health was really bad up till that point but a lot of it got better when I moved away. I had about 5 or 6 years of feeling pretty good brain-wise. Then a few years ago I started having creeping intrusive thoughts, major spirals, etc.

      I’m like you – things work for a time but when I’m alone it comes back. The only thing that has worked for me is finding something else to occupy my thoughts, but that has led to obsessive tendencies as well, for instance constantly thinking about a character I’m roleplaying. But for awhile those thoughts were fun, not like knives in my brain.

      Exercise/long walks with podcasts have helped, but when it gets really bad nothing does.

      1. matcha123*

        I’m similar. I grew up being told a lot of negative stuff and when I tried to share with close friends, they shut me down and switched the topic to their own problems. I’ve found it difficult to feel comfortable sharing with friends and that’s probably caused many people who would have been there to help to feel not as close to me. I made it a goal to start sharing more about myself with my friends and reduce relationships that aren’t positive in some way.

    18. Jax*

      I started taking yoga classes and after a couple weeks (it seemed like a short time) I was really able to stop the bad thoughts spiral. I had been interested in meditation for a long time but thought I didn’t have the focus for it, but yoga helped with the focus to do guided meditation. So, sometimes I replaced my spiraling thoughts with a mantra (Like “I’m am here.”, “I love me” or “I will go for it.” and sometimes I turn on the meditation app (I use 10% happier but there are a ton of free ones.)

    19. LilySparrow*

      I am religious, and find a lot of help & comfort in prayer and devotional reading. No matter what your beliefs, you can try memorizing helpful quotes, poems, or songs and recite them to yourself in those vulnerable moments. It’s an active habit to replace the negative one.

      I’ve also seen a lot of improvement by limiting my news exposure, being selective about my media consumption (I consider myself “allergic” to dark storytelling).

      Also physical brain care, including maximizing sleep, taking vitamin D, and getting 25-30 percent of my calories from clean fats (including some saturated fat).

      For me, getting my thyroid meds and ADHD meds right were also important in dealing with anxious thoughts and tension.

    20. Wendy Darling*

      This is weird, but there is a song from Steven Universe about mindfulness called “Here Comes A Thought”. When I get in the bad-thoughts loop I sing it (in my head or out loud, depending). It helps me acknowledge the thought, and then also reminds me that it’s just a thought and I can let it go.

      In fairness, I have a fairly severe but currently extremely well-treated anxiety disorder, so this is a strategy I arrived at after years of therapy (CBT did not work for me… DBT did), and I remain on medication. If this is something that’s really disrupting your life, maybe a few sessions with a therapist would be worthwhile?

      At first it was really hard for me to let go of my negative thoughts. I had to force myself to practice a lot, even when I thought it was stupid. Sometimes it still doesn’t work, but mostly it does.

      1. Saturnalia*

        Actually, Steven universe is one of my go-to tools for feeling better. I have rewatched that show so many times in the last 2 years, and it always helps me. I definitely struggle with intrusive thoughts, plus paranoid anxiety and severe depression. The whole show soothes and uplifts, even the more actiony/stressful episodes later on.

        Another tool is refocusing on facts in the present moment. Sometimes I start with myself and zoom out (I’m in a body that hurts, in a bathroom that needs cleaning, in a house I mostly like, in a neighborhood with great trees, etc), sometimes I go through my senses (name 5 things I see, 4 I hear, 3 I can touch, 2 I can smell, etc).

        I agree with the advice to go ahead and waste time on distraction. Distraction stops the thoughts, and in less time than sitting with them would. So it only feels like a waste because we’re trapped in an awful feeling where everything we do is awful and we suck (maybe just me? Lol)

    21. Betsy*

      My therapist said to just let the thoughts happen and don’t try to stop them (and feel the negative feelings even if they’re difficult). That seemed a little hippie-ish to me, and just like it wouldn’t work at all, but I tend to have far less negative thoughts overall when I’m not trying to prevent or suppress them. Maybe you can just set aside a bit of time during the day (even just 15 mins) to just sit with the thoughts and feelings and let them go through your head without judgment. The only thing I found was that it took a little while for my thoughts and feelings to settle down and be more manageable. I know you said you’ve tried letting yourself feel sad for a few moments, but it could be good just to check that you’re not trying to push the thoughts away. It’s like when people say ‘don’t think of a polar bear’ and then it’s impossible not to, so if you are telling yourself not to have bad thoughts then it might just be generating more of them.

      I think adding extra self-care in is important too. It’s much easier to become overwhelmed and stressed if you haven’t had a break or haven’t done something nice for yourself.

    22. Wrench Turner*

      I walk and breathe; sitting meditation only if the weather is really awful. I look at the life around me and try to be grateful for what is here and now right in front of me. Old homes, weird neighbors, the birds I know, new flowers; right here and now. Seeing a therapist finally was an important part of it.

    23. The Commoner*

      I try to do something kind for someone else. Now it doesn’t fix the issue for me, but it certainly distracts. After activities I can then evaluate if my previous issue was minor and now in the past, or something more that I need to work through.

      I’m one who likes to process all my emotions to get back to what I call my baseline. (My baseline is a quiet girl who’s very simple or basic.). This also causes me to continue asking myself “why” until I’ve answered the question.

      Example – I tell myself I don’t like to fly. Why? Because I’m scared of a crash, because I’d be scared of dying. And why scared of dying? Because I fear no one would notice I’m gone, which means no one notices now. Or that my faith is too weak for the afterlife. Long story short, I’m fearful of not being in control of something I can’t control anyways. Once I’ve thought it through enjoy, I recall that my coworkers enjoy me, my family misses me, and that I’m spinning this around in my head.

      Not sure that this helps, but I wish you the best.

    24. June*

      It sounds like you doing the right things but have you thought seeing a nutritionist? I have celiac disease and anxiety. The reason I mention that is those with celiac will often have low B and iron. So I take B complex and iron and if I miss a few dosages, I quickly get anxious for no reason (and run down which doesn’t help either). To help with my disease and anxiety, I take B complex, vitamin D, iron, multivitamin for women, and probiotics. I know that sounds like a lot but it helps my digestive system and brain run smoothly. Oh, I also gave up chocolate and caffeine. Both greatly helped with my stomach/brain issues as well. I wish you the best of luck!

  4. Handy nickname*

    Hi all, I am moving out in 3 weeks and I am so excited! Thank you all for your advice a couple of weeks ago about packing- I didn’t get a chance to come back and comment, but I read all of them and really appreciate all your suggestions.

    I have been packing a few boxes every day or doing something to prepare- washing all my new pots and dishes, sorting through my book collection, etc. and it feels so good to getting ready. I work at a grocery store, so I’ve just been bringing a stack of empty boxes home every couple days. Definitely will take your advice too about having “first days” boxes to unpack first.

    The move is really hard on my family too- we’re very close, in a subculture where people don’t really leave home until they “have to” e.g. take a job far away, get married, etc. so I’ve been finding people- a couple friends, a coworker or two, an extended family member- who are really happy for me, so when I do exciting things towards moving out like sign a lease! Get my apartment key! I have people to tell who are like “yeah, you go girl! So happy for you!” and that helps.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Purge–though if it’s your first move into more space you may not need to. It’s discouraging to UNpack a box and realize you didn’t use this stuff in the past 3 years.

      1. Handy nickname*

        Yeah, I’m moving out of half a bedroom that I’ve lived in for the past 20 years into a (small) 2-bedroom with no roommates, so I’ll probably have room for everything, but there’s definitely stuff I should get rid of

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I’ve lived in my house for 18 years, and plan to rent a dumpster this summer for some major purging. Like, there are saplings in the climber–we don’t need to preserve it as a monument to childhood memories any more.

    2. Fiennes*

      Designate one box as the “first box.” In there, pack (a) some bedding, (b) dining utensils, can opener, etc., (c) any everyday-use tech that won’t be in your purse or suitcase; (d) toiletries that wouldn’t be in the suitcase; (e) at least one towel and a shower curtain/mat if you need those; and, if applicable, (f) fear for the weather you’re moving into. It really helps when you can crack open just one box and have the essentials for your health and comfort immediately on hand.

      Signed, a person who once found her can opener in the very. last. box.

    3. Rookie Manager*

      Such an exciting time! Hope the move itself goes well. Your family will adjust to you moving out and be excited for you in time.

    4. Seal*

      I’m moving back to the Midwest in a few months after over a decade in the Deep South and am finding the sorting and tossing to be SO satisfying. It’s amazing how much unnecessary stuff one person can accumulate over time. This has been a particularly productive weekend – yesterday I took a whole carload of junk to the landfill and today I’m taking a carload of stuff to Goodwill. I still have a ways to go and fortunately a fair amount of time to prepare, but I’m making an effort to downsize. No need to pay to move anything I don’t intend to keep.

    5. Garland not Andrews*

      Don’t know if anyone mentioned it in the first thread, but be sure to put first aid supplies in your “Open First” box. Adhesive bandages, antiseptic, pain reliever. Nothing too complex, but enough to handle the scrapes and bumps that are bound to happen!
      Happy moving! I’m doing it too! March 23-24.

  5. WellRed*

    I have had a rough week, with some sort of upper respiratory infection. Can’t sleep due to coughing and nose blowing all night (I went to quick care). Now I have conjunctivitis in both eyes. I am a big chicken when it comes to eye things. Is there a trick to eye drops? And, how long till I start looking human? Ugh.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      There is a trick to eye drops! Tilt your head back (or lie down) and look toward your nose. Then put the drop in at the outer corner of your eye. That way it’s not landing right in the center of your eye, and it will be much more comfortable.

      1. Patsy Stone*

        Nurse here…another tip is, once you’ve applied the eye drops, close your eyes and briefly press/hold the inner corners of both eyes (where the tear ducts are). You can do this one eye at a time as well. This prevents the bitter or metallic after-taste that can sometimes be felt in the back of the throat after applying drops.

      2. Beatrice*

        I gently pull down my lower lid to create an open pocket in front of my eye, and I drop the eyedrop there, and then close my eyes and blink a couple of times. An eye doctor showed me that trick during a childhood eye exam, and I have done it ever since! You just have to be very careful not to touch your eye with the bottle tip.

        I was able to start giving myself eyedrops at 8 or 9 instead of my parents having to forcibly give them to me while I resisted (I had miserable seasonal allergies as a child, with frequent itchy eyes, but man, I hated eyedrops dropped straight into my eyes from a distance!)

    2. Merci Dee*

      I do my eye drops kind of the opposite way of Alison. I drop them right on the very inner corner of my eye, sort of right on the tear duct and not on my eyeball at all, and blink so that the liquid spreads over the surface of my eye. By putting the drop in my tear duct, I avoid that jump from having something directly on my eye.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        That’s what I do.

        Be careful not to get the tip of the dropper / bottle too close to your eye. I poked myself really hard doing that, so hard that I had to wear an eye patch for almost a week. Everyone at my job kept saying “Arrr!” at me. It got old.

        Also, don’t hold the cap in your teeth while you use the eye drops. That’s how playwright Tennessee Williams died (he swallowed the cap and choked).

        1. BeautifulVoid*

          Daaang. Not that I didn’t believe you, but I immediately had to go and look this up (the Tennessee Williams part) because it’s so crazy, I can’t believe I’d never heard it before.

    3. Elsie*

      I put eye drops in other people all the time. My trick is to close your eyes and put a drop right on the edge of your eyelid. When you open your eyes, the drops fall right into your eye.

        1. WellRed*

          Eewww! No tugging of lids (see eye chicken : ). I have to do 4 drops a day for 7 days, so I certainly have the chance to try all the suggestions.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        With kids, sometimes it is the only option because they squeeze their eyes shut or blink just as I go in with the dropper. Generally, anything that involves the drop gently easing onto your eye rather than falling from a distance is the way to go.

        For myself, I go with putting the drop in the inner corner while looking away.

    4. NaoNao*

      This may not be the most sterile of methods but…I wash my hands extremely well, and then I drop a tiny puddle of drops into my palm. Then I lower my eyes/raise my palm and blink the drops in!

    5. MeghanK*

      I cannot stand seeing eye drops at all – I always blink reflexively. Months of trwatment for something meant I had to find a way. Look up the lower lid technique.

      I tilt my chin up a couple inches. Look in a mirror, use my index finger to pull on the skin below my lower eyelid, and use my other hand to add the drop to the pouch formed by the lower lid. Then I’d roll my eye with the lids closed to distribute the medication over the eyeball if it was a thick medication. The eye corner pinch helped too, with the bitter taste and sometimes stinging of some drops.

    6. Seal*

      I’ve been dealing with a serious eye issue (uveitis) for the past couple of years that involves lots of eye drops. At the height of this thing, I had to put in steroid eye drops every hour while I was awake for several days at a time; I had to set the alarm on my phone to remind me because an hour goes by quickly. Needless to say, I’m very, VERY good at eye drops!

      My technique is to wash my hands, tip my head back, pull my lower lid down gently, put the drop in, then keep my eye closed for up to a minute. Works every time.

      As frustrating as my eye condition is, I’ve found conjunctivitis to be much worse, although with treatment it does go away pretty quickly. Hope you’re feeling better soon!

  6. Namast'ay in Bed*

    Has anyone listened to the Harvard Business Review work advice podcast? It’s relatively new and I was excited to have a supplementary podcast to the AAM one, but I’ve found it…disappointing.

    Examples- someone wrote in asking for advice on managing someone significantly older than them who was bristling, and their advice was essentially “try not to act young, you’re probably bothering them with your youth” and even said something along the lines of “don’t use Snapchat to send work documents instead of email, that will show you’re too young”. What?? So useless and condescending.

    They also were suuuuper in favor of workplace romances, because of looooovvvvve. Yuck.

    I guess I’ve grown too accustomed to Allison’s wonderful advice to stomach it. I haven’t gone back to listen to it since the first two episodes were duds, maybe it will get better?

    1. neverjaunty*

      I am a fan of not throwing good money after bad. If it’s terrible, why waste time listening to more terrible in the unsupported hope that it might get better?

      Also, ew.

      1. the gold digger*

        If it’s terrible, why waste time listening

        Oh, I don’t know. Some of my favorite book club meetings are the ones where we talk about how much we all hated the book.

        1. neverjaunty*

          Definitely! But it’s also possible to hate a book that was OK in parts but had some horrible flaws or the world’s stupidest ending. (I’m looking at you, Jodi Picault.)

          As a nerd, it is a Thing in need culture where people will urge you to slog through multiple volumes of crap because “it really picks up in Season Three!” or “the first few books in the series are mediocre but then it gets good” or “sure, the movie is meh but if you see it then you’ll have a lot more context for OtherMovie” and I am no longer having with it. Life is too damn short.

          1. Clever Name*

            Seriously. I stopped reading the first Outlander 2/3 of the way through, and I don’t regret it one bit. People have told me that it gets better after the first two books, but why waste my time reading books I don’t enjoy?

            1. Lissa*

              It most certainly does not! (imo of course!) . I think the first three books of Outlander are good and then it gets really bad really fast. If you don’t like the first one I can’t see why you’d like the rest…

          2. Typhon Worker Bee*

            “the world’s stupidest ending. (I’m looking at you, Jodi Picault.)”

            My Sister’s Keeper, by any chance? I loved 95% of that book but HATED the ending. I literally threw the book across the room, which I’ve only ever done with one other book (A Storm of Swords, red wedding #FUGeorgeMartin #Stillnotoverit)

            1. neverjaunty*

              HOW DID YOU GUESS

              Few things piss me off more than lazy authors. “Oh wow, I’ve set up a really tough narrative and the reader is going to wonder how on earth it will get resolved. Huh, I can’t figure it out either. Magic idiotic plot twist time! The end!”

              1. dragonzflame*

                The Lovely Bones, too. Fantastic premise, great reading – until the author clearly got stuck on how to end it and lost her head, probably after watching Ghost late at night.

                1. BeautifulVoid*

                  Oh good, I’m not the only one who had this reaction. Great book, wonderfully written…until the last 10-20 pages or so, where I could only blink at it and say “…wut?”

            2. Cruciatus*

              OMG, I was just telling someone about how I threw that book across the room after finishing it! My sister threw the final Divergent trilogy book (Allegiant?) across the room. We all have that one book. Maybe two.

            3. Typhon Worker Bee*

              I read that book 10 years ago and I’m still mad about it! How could she do such a great job setting up that complex and heart rending scenario, pulling the reader’s emotions in a million different directions along the way, and then end the story with the biggest cop-out deus ex machina ever written?! Infuriating!

            4. Nic*

              I threw Storm of Swords across the room after that, too. Specifically the Arya and the Hound scene. Only book I’ve ever thrown.

              Note to self: Don’t read My Sister’s Keeper in hardback.

              1. Typhon Worker Bee*

                Heh, I threw that book once after the red wedding, retrieved it, then threw it again when I read the Arya/Hound follow-up. I’m not usually a violent person but that was just too much for me.

          3. DoctorateStrange*

            UGH, I can’t stand Picault these days. Between that awful ending of My Sister’s Keeper and book that was so insulting towards autistic people, I want to stay away from her.

            1. Casca*

              Argh, yes, not to mention adding in that maybe it’s vaccines. One of the only books I’ve actually just tossed in the recycling instead of rehoming

        2. JamieS*

          I think listening to the podcast again would be more akin to reading the terrible book then reading more books by the same author that also wind up all being terrible and then still expecting books (particularly ones of the same genre) by that author to be good. At some point you’ve become a reading masochist.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Don’t use Snapchat to send work documents.
      Just spontaneously, they feel this is what the Youth might be doing?

      No more rom-coms for you, Harvard Business Review.

      If you have any interest in politics, I enjoy 538’s (posts late Mondays, casual arguing) and Washington Posts’s Can He Do That? (Such a good question!) which posts Fridays. If you like words, Says You from NPR.

      1. hermit crab*

        I am imagining Snapchat as the modern answer to “this message will self destruct in five… four…” Could be useful in some very select work environments!

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Sending passwords!

          One of my favorite little scenes on Limitless was when genius guy deduced the 10-digit ever-changing password to the radioactive waste storage…. by reading it off the wall where the employees had written it.

    3. Triplestep*

      Messaging and/or texting work-related documents must be prevalent enough that the snapchat advice made the final cut on this podcast. Or maybe it was a tongue-in-cheek way to say “stick to e-mail” and they just landed on snapchat to be funny and it landed badly?

      I don’t know. I DO know that my kids – both in their twenties, both in higher ed and looking for work – SWEAR that they check their e-mail daily. They do not. One of them abandoned an e-mail address that I had to point out was attached to his Linkedin. The other set up a Gmail address strictly for job-searching (on the advice that her .edu account calls attention to her student status). I am wringing my hands over her missing an important job-related e-mail because she does not check the e-mail account she professes to actually use.

      My kids are bright and accomplished, and yet we still need to text them if we e-mail something important. They will take these habits to a workplace soon, so in a world where people are often away from their desks and use phones for work-related communication, I am not surprised that someone thinks its necessary to tell younger managers to stick to e-mail.

      1. Clever Name*

        Yeah. I’ve had to tell younger coworkers that they need to keep outlook open at all times. They are used to email apps that notify them when they get an email regardless of whether the app is “open” or not.

      2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        I believe you can still set up gmail accounts (and others too, I’m sure) to combine all your emails in one account. Or set up an app like K-9 mail that checks all of your email accounts. A mild pain to set up the first time but then you have everything in one place.

        1. Triplestep*

          I suggested this feature of Gmail to both kids (I use it) even explaining that they can respond from the Gmail account and make it appear to the recipient that it is coming from their school account, if that is what they wish. This did not seem to have any impact. Remember, they are both insisting that they actually check their e-mail, so why would they need this advice from Mom?

          I would say this is limited to my kids being dopey, but I have had this conversation with friends whose kids are in the same demographic, and it’s a common story. We can’t figure out why they INSIST they are checking their e-mail when they clearly are not. And it’s not just our e-mails. My daughter was nearly charged an amount nearing $1K by her university health services for insurance she did not need after “not seeing” multiple e-mails from them. You do not miss multiple e-mails on the same subject concerning a large sum if you are checking your e-mail on any kind of regular basis.

          1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

            Actually, I wonder if somehow these emails are getting pushed out of the “primary” inbox. At least on my phone, gmail sorts things into various categories automatically, and many important emails have been wrongly sorted into the promotions or updates categories.

            1. Triplestep*

              Oh, right – I seem to remember that if you take the default settings, Gmail will sort your e-mail for you. I think when I first set it up I tweaked things because I wanted more of an “outlook experience”.

              Both kids are using university accounts, or rather *ignoring* university accounts, so I’m not sure any kind of sorting thing applies. I think I would have heard about it by now – it would have given some weight to their defense! But thanks for the tips; I don’t mean to sound argumentative or like I don’t appreciate your astute comments.

              1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

                Ah, I see. They they are “checking” it but not actually reading any of them. Can’t help you there because I do the same thing! ;-)

      3. JamieS*

        There’s a world of difference between not checking your personal email every single day and not knowing not to send work documents via Snapchat. Not to mention a manager isn’t the same as college students who sounds like they have little to no office experience. Even if the manager entered the workforce not knowing about email norms they would’ve quickly learned the lesson long before becoming a manager so it’s still a condescending comment.

        Also, just as an aside, checking email daily usually means scanning for important looking emails not looking at every email received. Not to mention not checking every day doesn’t mean a person doesn’t check their email. I’m also baffled why you and your friends seem to be so involved in your adult children’s email habits. Maybe you aren’t as involved as your posts make it sound but regardless you’ve already told them email is important, time to let them succeed on their own or fall flat on their face and learn from that.

    4. June*

      You could try listening to the Dave Ramsey Show podcast. It’s focus is money but it talks about work, relationships, etc. I listen to and from work every day. Plus its free!

  7. DuchessCarrie*

    Do long distance relationships ever work out? Is there a way to help them work out? My friend and her fiance have always had a great relationship, so I was surprised when she told me they fight all the time. Mainly about how little time they get to spend together.

    1. matcha123*

      I was in a long-distance relationship for about 3 years and ended it last year. I think they can work if both parties make an effort to meet frequently, talk frequently, and communicate their needs clearly. I think it’s especially important for the couple to have a solid relationship before doing long-distance.
      What killed it for me was the lack of effort on my boyfriend’s side when it came to meeting. I suggested meeting in different places so that it was like a mini vacation. He never wanted to do that and never did. He also never wanted to talk on the phone or chat online. He was in a larger city and wanted me to visit him so he could show me off to his coworkers. He also wanted us to get married, but I didn’t see anything changing with his communication and decided ending it was the best.

    2. ainomiaka*

      My now husband and I were in a long distance relationship for years while I finished grad school. Another good friend was long distance for something like 3 years during college, and another set are right now indefinitely long distance. It can work. It’s also really hard. It’s definitely a stress on your relationship. And involves what I would describe as a lot more having to invest in your relationship (you need to give up lots of time and $$ to get to see each other generally).
      As for what helps. . . I don’t know. I found it was easy to put off “boring normal life things” for when partner wasn’t around. On the other hand, that did make the transition to living together a lot bigger. The only thing I can think of is-invest the time. Also, get over hating the phone. That tone of voice info is really important. And have the serious talks about where the relationship is going. Are you going to do this forever? Is it just for a couple years until person x graduates? I know people who use long distance as a way to not have to face the fact that their relationship actually won’t work. It’s not their fault they don’t see each other/want to do nice things day to day-they just can’t. That doesn’t work well long term.

    3. CAA*

      Yes, long distance relationships can work out, but distance certainly adds pressure to a relationship.

      DH and I met in college and were together for 3 years. Then we had a long distance relationship for 2 years before we got married. We celebrated our 30th anniversary last year, and it seems to be working out so far. :-) We definitely argued more when we were apart and the constant travel was exhausting. I used to joke that the best wedding present I got was having weekends again.

      We have friends who met online, dated and got engaged all while she lived in NY and he was in CA. She relocated and they’ve now been married for 10 years. I also live in a navy town, so I’ve seen many couples, married or not, repeatedly separated by long deployments. I’ve been surprised multiple times by couples that I thought were really solid breaking up, and I’ve learned that you just can’t see enough of a relationship from outside to predict which ones will last and which won’t.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        There are circumstances where regular long-distance is built in, like military and various extraction crews. I think it helps that those separations are predictable and you know when they end.

        One of my favorite bits of fictional insight from Cap. Jack Aubry was that your wife has been managing the household without you for the past 18 months, so you need to not wade in and start making decisions.

      2. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

        Someone I know just married the person who she was in a long-distance relationship with, and all indications are that they couldn’t be happier. Another friend of mine was in a LDR that ended in heartbreak after a few months. A woman I dated seriously when I was in my 20s moved halfway across the country to go to grad school, and after two great years together, our relationship failed within weeks. It all depends on the person, I think. Two people who are happy having a lot of space, I think, can really make it work. That definitely applied with the first friend, but not with the second, and definitely not with me (I wanted to be able to give and get hugs every day!)

        1. Anon for this*

          I’ve been married for 29 years, and at least 1/3 of it has been punctuated by long distance. Grad school, fieldwork, work assignments. Distance has ranged from a 2.5 hour drive each way to halfway round the world.

          As The Librarian says, a lot of it depends on what sorts of people you are and how those match up. I think that’s key. Both my husband and I are very comfortable being alone (require it, in fact), are workaholics, and have very high levels of trust in each other; and that includes low levels of sexual jealousy (there was never any drama about opposite sex friendships, e.g.) Those traits are evident when we are together and become even more significant apart. We’re also very adept at communicating in written form and are comfortable chatting on the phone. It’s funny, neither of us are very drawn to FaceTime/Skype, we get along fine without it.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I think the critical thing is having a plan to close the distance. I had friends who dated, lived together, did long distance for a year, got married, did long distance for another year (post doc options), then were together.

      Agree with matcha that a solid pre-separation basis is important.

      Aino is right about putting off boring life stuff on the rare days you get together, which makes the transition to being in the same place and having to accomplish Boring Life Stuff a shock to the system. (People who have affairs discover this too. People with whom you never have to discuss whether a plumber should look at the toilet or an expert at the taxes are so much sexier! But you can’t live with someone if you can never discuss those things with them.)

      1. hermit crab*

        I agree that having a plan is critical. My husband is an ex-academic and our story is very similar to your friends’
        – except we never officially lived together until about a year after we got married. We were long-distance for about four years, during which time he actually moved further away! But we always had a plan/timeframe in mind and that helped a lot. We’re both long-term planner types, and liked setting visit schedules fairly far in advance so that we always had something to look forward to.

        Of course, a lot depends on your personalities, your specific relationship dynamics, etc. In our case, now that we live together, we spend a lot of time happily doing our own things in separate rooms, which honestly isn’t that different from when we were long-distance. :)

        1. Triplestep*

          As I understand it, LDRs are pretty common between academics. Many of my academic friends have successful LDR stories to tell, even long distance after marriage. Their academic friends totally get it, while others tend to find it odd.

          1. Overeducated*

            Yes, it’s common but usually it’s very hard. All of my friends with academic LDRs do want to wind up in the same place long term somehow, and many put off kids or just decide not to have them if they wind up in tenure track jobs in different places. That can be a very worthwhile choice for some and unacceptable to others – avoiding a long term LDR is why I took another path.

          2. AcademiaNut*

            Very common, but the failure rate is still high.

            The worst is what I think of as the “promising relationship” – you’ve met someone, you really like each other, there’s great potential for a long term relationship, but three or six months into it, your postdoc ends and you move – and in my field, international moves are common. You haven’t been together long enough to have a really solid foundation, experience in daily life with each other, solving problems and working through conflicts, and it’s going to be years before you might, possibly end up in the same city. Those tend to limp on for six months or a year or two before ending, either drearily or messily.

            Another common problem is the relationship that goes long distance for years, then when they finally get together it crumbles. They’ve been long distance so long that being together, not just on romantic vacations but every day, is a big adjustment. Plus, if a relationship is rocky, long distance can be used to hide or deny the flaws for a really long time.

            A third pitfall is when someone is so invested in a long-distance relationship that they forget to build a life where they live. They don’t go out with friends, because they Skype with their partner every evening. They don’t take up hobbies or join groups, because their schedule of visits would interfere (and all the money goes to visits). They don’t make their apartment look nice, because it’s only temporary. Then, if the relationship fails, there’s nothing else going on in their daily life.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          When we first looked at apartments in grad school we mentioned not liking the totally open one, and someone thought that sounded so crushing. 24-7 togetherness with no walled options is exhausting, even if you love the person in a “let’s do our taxes together for the next 60 years” way.

      2. Triplestep*

        This is what I came here to say; I think success is really dependent on a plan to live in the same place at some point, even if that plan is not developed until after you are already long distance, and even if that plan is to ultimately live separately, but in the same area. I tend to think that “indefinite long distance” doesn’t really have a *reason* to work out.

      3. Parenthetically*

        “having a plan to close the distance.” Yeah I think this is so key. My husband and I started out long distance (met in person once and then started “dating” when we lived 10k miles away from each other) but we both knew going into it that one of us moving to a different continent was the outcome. And because we’d never spent any real time together face to face before we started dating, and our trips to see each other were filled with visiting family and stuff, once we lived in the same city, boring stuff was the MOST FUN EVER. Like grocery shopping together?! We’ve never done that before! Awesome! Snuggling on the couch and watching Netflix every weekend? Yesssssssss.

        It was HARD — especially conflict. But conviction that we were going to be together permanently at the end of it… well, it didn’t make working through that stuff easier, per se, but it made it so we felt like we HAD to do it.

        I wouldn’t recommend long-distance, but I think there are ways to make it work IF you have an end in mind.

      4. RJGM*

        Agree re: a plan to close the distance. My husband and I were long-distance for more than half of our relationship (pretty much the entire time we were dating and most of our engagement), but we knew we’d be together once I finished school. We also had most of our holidays together, which I think helped.

        One thing we learned after the first semester was that we did better by giving each other a little bit of freedom. When we Skyped every single day and texted almost constantly, it was hard for either of us to do anything fun in our respective locations. Since I was in a new city in a new state for school, I wasn’t making any friends. Once we cut down on that a little — weekly Skype dates, with texting periodically throughout the days in between, for example — we were able to cope a lot better. If your whole life revolves around waiting by the phone, things are Not Good.

      5. INTP*

        Agree about a plan. I think the hard-to-acknowledge (in the moment) truth is that if you’re not serious enough about this person to make plans for the future around them (the plan to close the distance), you probably aren’t sure or serious enough to make the sacrifices needed to make a long distance relationship with them work. After a certain point, scheduling your life around phone calls, going months without in-person physical or emotional intimacy, spending all your vacation time and travel budget on them, the emotional toll of being vulnerable to someone who you rarely actually see and having to trust that they’re being faithful, or some other factor will start to feel too difficult. It sucks because it absolutely could be someone that, given enough time, you would start to feel serious about, but you haven’t had enough time together to know before the distance comes in. I’ve tried to start LDRs in this situation in the past but based on my experiences, I now have a policy that if it’s not serious enough yet to make a plan to close the distance, it’s not serious enough to deal with a LDR.

      6. KR*

        So agree with having a solid plan for when the relationship won’t be long distance. I was long distance with my husband for a few years while he was in the military, before we were married. The relationship almost didn’t work out because I felt like it was going nowhere and my husband would never be willing to get his finances together to live with me and not in the barracks, and he didn’t communicate the fact that he was getting ready to propose and getting serious about marriage. We almost broke up, and it was purely because i wanted to get married and move in with him and was tired of putting my life on hold. I couldn’t save properly because I was paying for plane tickets out to see him and I could never see him fully when he was home because his family had a lot of expectations about him staying at their house when he was there. Now I’m married to him and I couldn’t be happier. We have transitioned to living together very well and rarely fight anymore.

    5. D.W.*

      If you define “work out” as, the couple ultimately stays together (i.e. marriage, or move in/to the same area), I’d say yes. Because I’ve done it and so have a lot of my friends.

      We all broke up with our SO’s at some point in time because the distance is draining. In my case, it was 9yrs of long-distance. We split, I left the country, I came back to the States, and we got back together a year later (still long distance), and we remained long-distance until we got married last September.

      What helped, as unsexy as it is, was establishing a schedule for communication. I lived on the east coast and he was three hours behind me, on the west coast. What also helped was coming up with things we could experience together while we were separated. I think the thing that ultimately breaks couples apart is the fact that they are experiencing life apart and they are changing. When that happens over a long period of time it’s easy to “grow apart”. So we made sure to stay connected through mutual interests, and of course visiting as often as we could. Emotional connection is very strong, and if you can maintain that, you can withstand temporary physical distance.

      1. Libervermis*

        I echo that “experiencing life apart” problem – and distance can allow someone to hide the signs of something being wrong, and/or allow someone to blame a problem on distance when it’s really more fundamental. Communication and a mutual desire to actually prioritize the relationship are key. If only one side is demonstrating any interest/effort in moving from long-distance to in-person, bad sign.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        They are experiencing life apart and they are changing.

        Yes! People change. People in their 50s change. There is no age at which your permanent, unalterable adult psyche granitizes itself to an unbudgable form. And if there were, it would be weird to say “Okay, NOW I can join my life to someone else’s, and start making all major decisions with their needs and desires in mind, sometimes even trumping my own, because that won’t affect me. And add a few small irrational people who don’t sleep–having kids never changes a person.”

      3. Parenthetically*

        Schedule for communication — yes. Every Friday night (his Saturday morning) was our standing date. We dressed up, I fixed my hair and put makeup on, he got me flowers, and we skyped. Once we got engaged, we also had a standing phone call every day, just a half hour or so.

    6. misspiggy*

      In my experience, what makes the difference is how clear each person is on what they are willing to give up to be together in the end. I know two wonderful couples who spent years apart, maybe seeing each other once a year if that. They have lasting marriages. But in those cases, they were both clear that they were ultimately working towards being together. And one of each couple didn’t have a strong interest in what they did to earn money, so was able to adapt to the other’s career trajectory.

    7. Sesame Plexer*

      My fiancé and I were long distance and he moved so we could live together. It was hard and stressful to be apart all the time but we had regular Skype dates and saw each other once a month (Hello Delta status).

    8. Elizabeth West*

      Errgghh. My most major relationship started out long-distance, sorta; we lived an hour’s drive from each other. I moved in close to a year on. The other one lasted two years — about a year longer than it should have, and the last six months were rough (mostly because we shouldn’t have been a couple in the first place).

      In my opinion, yes it can work, but you really have to be in agreement on how often to communicate and whether you’re going to be exclusive while separated (some couples aren’t). At some point, one person will have to relocate if you want to take it to the next level.

      There does need to be periodic facetime. If you can’t work it into your schedule or afford the travel, or if you don’t agree on how often it needs to happen, that can become a major problem.

      I don’t know if there is anything you can do other than listen if she needs to vent. But if they’re engaged, it sounds like the time has come where somebody needs to suck it up and move.

    9. BugSwallowersAnonymous*

      I don’t think you can really help another couple work it out– that kind of has to be on them. But I totally think it can work. I think you just have to be really honest with yourselves and each other about what you are and aren’t okay with. So maybe you can just try to support your friend in being honest with herself and her SO about how she’s feeling. If they’re fighting all the time, then something might need to change.

    10. Betsy*

      I think in some ways they’re easier than they’re made out to be. My ex and I were together for six months, and then did one year apart- half of that year was in different countries, and the second half was in the same country but different cities.

      The same country but different cities wasn’t too bad, because you can fly to see each other every month or two.

      I really didn’t want to do much longer than a year and I strongly pushed for a move to the same city after that.

      We were together for six years all up, and the early long-distance part made our relationship stronger, if anything. The reason we eventually broke up was in no way related to starting out long-distance.

    11. Star Nursery*

      They can. It’s not something everyone can handle or wants to do. My spouse and I met while living in different states. I had moved away and went back to visit friends at times and then met through mutual friends. We were in a long distance relationship for about 10 months. Once we decided we wanted to be exclusive, we were committed to making it work for us and that it wasn’t going to be indefinite. We discussed how to make it work (how often we would talk on the phone, Skype, how often we would travel to see each other, that we both were looking for marriage someday rather than something casual, etc.) When we decided to be a couple, I didn’t know how often we would see each other but he decided to drive 9 hours (each way) to see me every-other-weekend. That was more often then I ever expected (but pretty great of him). I agree with others that long distance can be really good for getting to talk about a lot of things (it’s great to build friendship and can talk more than just getting distracted by the fun physical affection etc.) Bonus: I like looking back at what we wrote to each other.

      I had three other people that didn’t last long with a long distance relationship. One I moved and it fizzled, second one he moved just as were starting to date (probably around three or four dates-ish) and he had a rule against LDR’s so unless I wanted to move there too, then it was a no-go, third one I met when I was home over winter break from college so we started dating but it didn’t last more than a few months (but I don’t think it was necessarily the LDR itself).

      People in relationships are going to have fights and that’s the nature of trying to live with a another person who has their own opinions and viewpoints. It’s true whether they were in a long distance relationship or not.

  8. Ann*

    Does anybody have suggestions for a birthday present for my dad? He’s a neuroscience professor in his 50s and his hobbies are…basically going into work early and writing grants, reading Flyertalk, and telling me how awesome his Prius is, from what I can tell (he really likes hiking and skiing too, but doesn’t get much chance to do that because of where they live). He also really likes coffee – he has a AeroPress and a few years ago we got him a burr grinder, at his request. I know he’d talked about being interested in a burr grinder that weighed out your beans for you, but I’m not sure how much of an upgrade that is? (I’m a tea person).

    Some other things that we’ve gotten him in the past that he’s liked a lot were a Fitbit (he’s one of those people who will go out and walk in the dark/rain to get his steps in for the day) and Bose noise cancelling headphones (for planes). My budget is around $250, but flexible.

      1. Ann*

        He doesn’t – I was actually thinking about getting him a kindle before, because he does like to read (and I love mine for reading on the plane), but I think he might like an iPad or something, because he uses his iPhone a lot and the iPad is probably easier for him to use.

      1. Ann*

        That’s a good idea! He has one, but it’s pretty old and doesn’t display pictures very well anymore (they’re all weird and glitched). He really likes taking photos when he travels, so I think it’s something he’d get a lot of use out of

        1. The future will be better*

          There are pretty good ones for cheaper than they used to be (and probably nicer). I’ve bought a few Nix brand off Amazon and have no complaints. You could either get a bigger one for home, or maybe a smaller one for his desk? In my experience, people love them! We take so many pictures now, but never print them out… solution: digital picture frame.

    1. Isobel*

      Maybe one of the coffee subscription services where you get sent different beans every month?

      1. Bluebell*

        I was going to suggest this! My sister travels a lot for business and likes to send us coffees.

      2. Ann*

        Do you know of any that are good? (or webpages that review them?) My mom was thinking about getting him a subscription service like this, but we don’t know where to start looking

        1. Bluebell*

          The Eater website had a review, and Stumptown offers a roasters choice, but it’s only their brand. Good luck!

        2. Sled dog mama*

          I got my husband a subscription to misto box a few years ago, it was nice because you can pick your shipping interval and as you rate what they sent they are supposed to adjust what they send based on the new info.

    2. Patsy Stone*

      I found that as my parents and sister got older, I started getting them “experiences” rather than things. I sent my sister on an afternoon make-your-own-chocolates/truffles class, which she loved. Took my mom to a special museum exhibit that she wanted to see, and then treated her to lunch at a posh hotel on their rooftop patio… something she loves but would never spend the money on herself. Is there anything similar you can think of that your Dad might enjoy?

      1. Triplestep*

        I like this idea. I am in my fifties and I really don’t want my kids getting me *stuff*. I actually don’t care if they get me anything, but I would prefer something depletable (like an experience, or the coffee suggestions others have made).

      2. Chaordic One*

        To elaborate on the “experiences” thing, maybe tickets to a movie or to a concert that your dad is interested in.

    3. Elkay*

      Get him a coffee subscription, as a coffee drinker I really liked it because it helped me identify which notes/flavours I enjoy in coffees.

    4. Reba*

      New floor mats for the Prius for his wet hiking days. :)

      Fancy coffee subscription service?

      1. Chaordic One*

        “WeatherTech” floor mats made to precisely and specifically fit his car. They’re kind of pricey, but worth it.

    5. ContentWrangler*

      My dad is also difficult to shop for, but there is a lot of really neat ski gear especially if you have a budget around $250. My dad has a ski helmet with Bluetooth headphones built in so he can listen to music while on the mountain – he loves it.

    6. Mephyle*

      Does he like earbud headphones? Wireless ones are great. There are the kind that are connected to each other with a wire that you wear behind your head, and the kind that are totally wireless, just two separate pieces, one in each ear. No more accidentally ripping the buds out of my ear when the wire joining it to the device gets caught on something, since there is no such wire!

    7. fellow academic*

      Greg Dunn makes some amazing neuroscience artwork – some of the prints would be within your budget, and might be lovely for decorating his office or the like. Academics tend to be pretty obsessed with our work.

      In terms of coffee, upgraded grinders are totally helpful. One that weighs out beans essentially reduces the steps. I don’t have any good model recommendations, but I would advise asking him if you decide to go down that route. I’m not a huge fan of the coffee bean subscription services, just because I have really picky taste in beans.

      Maybe experiences? For your price range, you could get him an intro flight lesson, bnb room out in the country for an overnight hiking or skiing trip?

    8. Marillenbaum*

      A couple of really nice pairs of hiking socks, plus a guide to hiking spots where they live? Good hiking socks make SUCH a difference to the quality of the hike, but they can be pricey and I for one feel kind of dumb spending that much money on socks, so I love someone forever if they buy them for me.

    9. Sled dog mama*

      You said he reads Flyertalk? Does he frequent a specific airline forum? (Asking because some of the forums have inside jokes that you could get him something for)

    10. Elizabeth H.*

      Does he like reading/learning stuff? Like general science? You could do Great Courses gift certificate or Audible subscription.

    11. School Psych*

      A coffee roaster? My husband has pretty much the same hobbies as your dad and really enjoys his.

  9. Lady Jay*

    One of my New Years’ Resolutions was to read more books by minority authors. Any recommendations?

    So far I’ve read and enjoyed Malla Nunn (a mystery novelist from Swaziland), and I already have Ta-Nehisi Coates, Colson Whitehead, and Trevor Noah on my list. I tend to prefer nonfiction or genre fiction (mystery, sci-fi) to artsy fiction.

      1. Lady Jay*

        Ooo, yes – I forgot, she’s on my list. I purchased her book (Lilith’s Brood) and it’s waiting for me. :)

    1. fposte*

      Nnedi Okorafor, Justina Ireland; doesn’t Edwidge Danticat have a mystery in there?

      I would also recommend the delightful Americanized: Rebel without a Green Card by Sara Saedi. Released as YA but definitely crossover, a memoir of her experience as an undocumented teenaged Iranian American navigating between sleepovers and missing Social Security numbers.

    2. hermit crab*

      Glad to see Colson Whitehead on your list! He’s so talented and so incredibly, amazingly versatile. If you don’t like whatever book of his you start with, definitely try another. My favorite is actually his zombie novel.

      Do you like memoirs? I got really into chef memoirs for a while and my favorite was Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson. He actually self-narrates the audiobook version and it’s fabulous.

    3. Maryn*

      I was recently introduced to the scifi of N.K. Jemison. I find myself slowing down near the end of each book to make it last longer. She’s that good. Start with “The Fifth Season.”

    4. Nashira*

      In addition to the aforementioned Octavia E. Butler: Samuel R Delany, Alyssa Wong, NK Jemisin, Nnedi Okorafor, Nalo Hopkinson…

      If you want short fiction, look up Lightspeed Magazine. They publish spec fic work from authors with diverse backgrounds. Their horror branch, Nightmare, is also quite good.

    5. only acting normal*

      I can recommend Tananarive Due’s “Ghost Summer” short story collection. I haven’t read any more of her’s yet, but on the strength of this I probably will.

    6. Dinosaur*

      I highly recommend “Everfair” by Nisi Shawl! It’s a steampunk/Afrofuturism novel that that offers an alternate timeline where the Congo wasn’t successfully colonized. It’s a really fantastic read.

    7. Triplestep*

      I haven’t read this, but I heard José Older interviewed in NPR a while back and I bought his book _Shadowshaper_ for my daughter. It is considered “Urban Fantasy”, and even though it is YA, it is apparently popular with adults who like SciFi/Fantasy.

      I also bought her Trevor Noah’s book at her request, and I’m now trying to get it back so I can read it!

      1. Nashira*

        CW that Who Fears Death has graphic sexual violence. It’s an immensely good book but I’m not able to read it again because it’s so gut punchy.

    8. Reba*

      NK Jemisin, Ken Liu, Ted Chiang!

      You might also poke around on Tor.com — they often blog roundups of authors for example under the tag “World SF” or the series “100 African Writers of SFF”

    9. HannahS*

      Silent Hall, by N.S. Dolkart. It’s fantasy, with kind of a blend of mythologies from the Mediterranean and Middle East. Someone recommended it to me as being based on Jewish stuff, which–some aspects are, but that part is really subtle. It’s great, though.

      Brown Girl and the Ring is voodoo-involved urban fantasy set in Toronto. Sabaa Tahir has also written some awesome YA fantasy, set in a pseudo-Roman occupied Middle-Eastern place.

      1. RJGM*

        Ooh, seconding Attica Locke. And I haven’t read him yet, but I have two of Deji Bryce Olukotun’s books (Nigerians in Space and its sequel, After the Flare) on my on my shelves — he’s super interesting on Twitter.

        Same for Tochi Onyebuchi: I haven’t read Beasts Made of Night yet, but I’ve heard excellent things about it, and I met him and he’s super sweet.

    10. Marillenbaum*

      NK Jemison’s Broken Earth trilogy. Also, Nnedi Okorafor has an excellent collection of short stories (I’m less familiar with her novels). Oh, and Leslie Nneka Arimah’s What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky is incredible; the title story was featured on an episode of Levar Burton Reads and is so, so good.

      1. Jen RO*

        The short story collection sounds interesting, I’ve only read novels by Okorafor. Do you happen to remember the name of the collection?

    11. Cheshire Cat*

      NK Jemisin, Karen Lord, Cixin Liu (think that’s spelled right). They are all wonderful.

    12. CanadianUniversityReader*

      The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
      It’s really good!

      1. DrWombat*

        Personally I can’t read Alexie’s book anymore because his history of sexually harrassing women has soured his work for me and it’s too irrevocably linked with him for me to enjoy http://oedb.org/ilibrarian/20-native-american-authors-you-need-to-read/ Maybe instead of Sherman Alexie, these all look good?

        Also reccing Aliette de Bodard, whose Xuya series is amazing. “Immersion” is a great take on colonialism and cultural hegemony and assimilation, and “On A Red Station, Drifting” always makes me cry in the best way. She’s written a lot of amazing stuff in general!

        Cassandra Khaw is also brilliant – “Bearly a Lady” is current favorite, as it’s a hilarious urban fantasy novel about a werebear. But her short stories in the horror vein are also wonderful, and she’s very versatile.

        Sarah Kuhn is great, she writes SF about Asian-American superheroines and has a great sense of humor. Zen Cho has also written some beautiful short stories, and the anthology “The Future is Japanese” was a great read IMO as well. Hao Jingfang’s “Folding Beijing” was lovely, and Alyssa Wong writes great SF and horror.

          1. Tea, please*

            Yeah, this one hurt a lot. Diary of a Part Time Indian was my fool proof way to get reluctant readers to get excited about reading. Guess I need to find a new book.

            Since hindsight is 20/20–There is a short story in The Toughest Indian in the World that is I immediately thought of when I read about his serial harassment of women as a warning flag.

            Other authors–Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Mat Johnson, Heidi W. Durrow, Viet Thanh Nguyen

            Also, these are some international authors I love–Kiran Desai, Thrity Umrigar, Arundhati Roy, Aravind Adiga, Haruki Murakami

    13. Betsy*

      My brain glitched and I read this as ‘books by minor authorities’. I don’t know if that would be like parking inspectors, or maybe dictators from lesser-known countries.

    14. Elf*

      If you’re willing to go YA (which I highly recommend) I highly recommend The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm by Nancy Farmer.

        1. Book Person*

          !!! I loved The Ear, The Eye, and the Arm as a kid, but somehow never read anything else by the author. So excited to hear of this!

      1. Emily*

        Nancy Farmer’s books (especially The Ear, The Eye, and The Arm – I love how delightfully strange it is) are wonderful, but I’m pretty sure that she’s actually a white American who has lived in Zimbabwe and Mozambique in the past. Worth reading for sure, but the author herself is not part of a minority group!

    15. oranges & lemons*

      Junot Diaz–kind of on the borderline between genre and lit fic, but The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read. (And I mean amazing in the literal sense–awe-inspiring.)

      Seconding all of the Octavia Butler recommendations–Parable of the Sower and Wild Seed are my favourites.

      Madeleine Thien–this is a bit more on the literary side, but Do Not Say We Have Nothing is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. It’s a history of an artistic family during the Cultural Revolution.

    16. Pathfinder Ryder*

      The book Hidden Figures is based on is great.

      I liked Anita Anand’s Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary, with the caveat that it often digresses from the biography to give a lot of historical context.

      The Stars Change by Mary Anne Mohanraj is scifi but with erotica as a strong secondary theme.

      If you like comics/graphic novels, Marjorie Liu’s Monstress has some trades out.

    17. Book Person*

      Most of the people I had in mind to recommend I see already listed (but a HARD AGREE ESPECIALLY to NK Jemisin, whose Broken Earth trilogy I read in three days last week. Still reeling from it, and I went out and bought her other five novels immediately).

      If you like Colson Whitehead’s prose and the way race is talked about/treated in his novels (along the lines of Zone One or Apex Hides the Hurt more than The Underground Railroad), I would HIGHLY recommend Percival Everett. Some of his works (Glyph, Reference as a Function of Gesture) are a bit arty, but Wounded, or A History of the African American People [Proposed] by Storm Thurmond are great and my go-to recommendations. Wounded is pretty straight-forward fiction, and is just stunning/devastating; A History of… is comedic and epistolary, told in a series of emails and memos and notes as a couple of professors try to ghostwrite a book that’s pretty inappropriate, given the proposer. (Erasure is also a favourite, but definitely more artsy).

    18. Lurker*

      ‘The Sellout’ by Paul Beatty, the one that won the Man Booker prize. Very good (and often very funny) but not for the faint of heart. It reminded me a lot of Catch 22.

      Because it’s an observational satire on contemporary American society, you should be prepared to suppress the urge to laugh at wildly inappropriate moments for a while afterward.

  10. anonymous for this*

    Has anyone dealt with a family member in an abusive relationship successfully? A close relative’s boyfriend is not currently harming here, just emotionally abusive and breaking things. She won’t leave him (and he’s done so much terrible stuff), and I’m worried she’ll end up pregnant or if they progress the relationship he’ll really hurt her. I’ve told her how I feel and sent resources, I tell her she’s great (itsself esteem issues in part, not to blame her but I’d there)… I don’t know what else to do.

    1. ainomiaka*

      If she won’t leave him, the main thing you can do is keep connection to her so you are a resource whenever she does want to. That frequently means toeing lines that will feel like letting him win, but the important thing is not to let her get isolated. If she isn’t ready to hear criticism then don’t criticize him. If staying in touch with her means following rules that he set and she agrees to. . . it’s worth it to do that to keep that connection.

      1. Thlayli*

        This. Isolating the victim from friends/family is often the first step. Make sure she knows that she can always call on you to help her escape if needs be, and then stop putting pressure on her and just give her some normality. If she brings up something abuscive he said or did then definitely don’t condone it but also don’t use it as a reason to start a long criticism of him every time or it will just drive a wedge between you.

        1. Libervermis*

          Make sure to take care of your own mental and emotional health too. Being the “safe person” and keeping those communication channels open can be exhausting. It will require some compromises that feel like letting the abusive boyfriend win (as ainomiaka said), and it will take far longer than you want. Be good to yourself and be compassionate with yourself if/when you don’t handle something quite right,

          1. anonymous for this*

            Regrettably (and luckily) I know she talks to other people more than me, because it’s been very hard on them! I wish she talked to me more, the rest of her family/friends don’t want to call it abuse, and I think they allow her to normalize the behavior. I realize I couldn’t argue with her because that doesn’t help, but having at least one person say “Whoa, it’s really screwed up that he destroys your stuff when he’s angry!” to her more often would probably be good…

      2. Junior Dev*

        If you’re wondering how to square this with the advice to not normalize the situation:

        * That really sucks. I’m sorry you’re going through this.
        * You deserve better than that.
        * I’m really sorry that happened.
        * What do you think about that?

        As someone who’s been on both sides of this: it’s a hard balance to walk, but I try to keep ny comments on the side of reminding my friend they’re a good person and deserve to be treated well, and also that they deserve to be listened to and have their agency respected. It’s so easy to want to swoop in and fix everything, but when you do that in a way that disregards their ability to make their own choices it actually reinforces the abuser’s message, that they’re not competent to handle their own life.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I remember this coming up here re coworkers and Alison posting links to past comments from Marie, which were really insightful. The part that is sticking out to me is not normalizing it–don’t fall into acting like the yelling and breaking is normal, typical, all couples do this. What didn’t work was “Don’t do what he says, do what I say.” The best people seem to have found (and it’s frustrating) is door open, communication open, and don’t go along with the “of course all couples go through this stuff” narrative.

    3. Rookie Manager*

      My sister was in an (emotionally/financially) abuse relationship and I did it all wrong*. My advice is to do the opposite of what I did, stay in touch, keep talking, let them know you love them unconditionally. I got angry at the way he treated her and that was flipped around as evidence I didn’t love her. Be a place of trust and sanctuary. Don’t criticise the partner, critisise the behaviour (Don’t normalise it). Don’t push them to leave but help if asked, however be aware most abused women don’t leave the first time they try AND it is at this time they are most in danger. In the UK most female homicides are women killed by their partners or ex partners because they left or are trying to leave. If possible offer a safe space to keep key documents (passport etc) and emergency clothes, meds, money. Let them know they are loved, brave, clever, funny, respected and they have value. Many abusers grind down their partners till they feel worthless. You can help build them up instead. (Sorry this is so long)

      * I’ve since done some work in the field and studied abusive relationships – I wish I had the knowledge I do now when they first started dating, or got engaged, or got married…

    4. Anonymous Ampersand*

      Yeah. My sis. But I had to stay with them when I left my abusive husband and now I can’t really say anything because I’ll have that thrown back in my face. But staying there cemented my suspicions.

      Keep the lines of communication open. Respect her autonomy. Don’t tell her she has to leave. Just… make it seem possible.

      Apparently one of my friends now thinks of me as a superhero as leaving never seemed possible before I did it. Now she thinks it might be. One day.

      Hope my sister comes to think that one day.

      1. Junior Dev*

        The thing that finally allowed me to leave an abusive relationship was friends asking us to house-sit while they were on vacation. The “make it seem possible” part is so key.

    5. Managing to get by*

      I was in an abusive relationship many years ago, and one thing that bothered me when I finally left was all of the people coming out of the woodwork to tell me they had been worried about me, but not a single one of them had said anything when I was still with the guy. I felt alone and as if I had no support or resources. So make sure she knows that you are there to help her if needed, that you recognize what is going on and that it is not normal. You can’t live her life for her to direct her on what to do, but you can keep yourself available as a resource when she needs you.

      One of the reasons that I don’t talk to my mother much anymore is that our neighbors (who knew her through her work) outright told her they could hear us fighting and they were worried for my safety and she did nothing. Absolutely nothing. Except to let me know that she had known I was being hit, after I moved out.

      1. anonymous for this*

        Would reaching out more have helped? I sent her info about abusive relationships, hotline numbers, and wrote a note… but she’s so hard to talk to, she gets very very defensive and starts tearing down everyone’s (perhaps not perfect, but not abusive) relationships. She hasn’t acknowledged it, so I don’t know how she feels, but she is still talking to me so at least there’s that. We aren’t that close anyway, but I just try to say hello ocassionally more so she feels like she’s not alone.

        1. Anonymous Ampersand*

          I don’t think anyone saw what was happening with me. But if they had, resources would have just made me stop listening. What would have helped?

          “I don’t like the way he treats you”
          “I don’t like it when he makes jokes at your expense in front of me. Does it bother you?”
          “It seems like he puts you down a lot, does it feel like that to you?”
          “You haven’t made it to any {family celebrations} for a few years/X never comes with you. What’s that about?” (Trying to discover whether that’s a true choice or whether it’s because Spouse makes it Too Damned Hard)

          If someone I knew had left an abusive relationship and talked to me about power and control and boundaries that might have helped.

          For me, the key moments that led me to realise how bad things were was reading captain Awkward and this site and hearing people talk about boundaries. I read “why does he do that” (Lundy Bancroft) because I was worried about other people’s relationships, rightly, but it opened the door just a tiny bit, so over time I was able to think the unthinkable. Believe that my husband being consistently mean to me, and gaslighting me, and blaming me for everything, was actually unacceptable.

          I wish I’d realised so much earlier. But at least I’ve realised now and not in 20 years time.

          1. The future will be better*

            Ugh, it must be a case by case basis then, because she HATES when I say those things. That was actually my initial way of dealing with it. :( Even when I’m calm about it she flips out.

            >“I don’t like it when he makes jokes at your expense in front of me. Does it bother you?”
            “It seems like he puts you down a lot, does it feel like that to you?”

            ARGHHH THIS IS WHAT HE DOES AND IT DRIVES ME INSANE! It honestly makes me cry to see someone so mean to her, and then she gets mad at me if I say things like the above. :(

            Once you made the realization, how long did it take to actually leave? I imagine it still took a while?

            1. Anonymous Ampersand*

              Should have added YMMV then!! Hey ho. I’m sorry that wasn’t helpful.

              I’m sorry your relative is going through this. I just reread your post. Emotional abuse is hard: of someone punches you in the face there’s no ambiguity about that, but because we don’t educate people about emotional abuse and because abusive behaviours are celebrated as romantic in popular culture it’s hard to accept that that’s what’s happening to you. It took me 20 years to notice. It wasn’t bad right from the beginning but when I look back there were sooooooo many red flags.

              Have you read why does he do that? It was eye opening. There are abuser profiles that may help. Or there’s a programme by a UK probation officer for women that may help. I’ll post the link in a reply. Oh and also there’s a book on Kindle for emotional abuse scripts, I’ll look up the name and author if you like.

              I’m sorry. It’s horrible to see someone going through this and be unable to help. I think both my siblings are in abusive relationships and about half my friends. It’s awful.

              Please look after yourself too <3

              1. Anonymous for this*

                Oh, it’s totally fine that it wasn’t helpful! I think more than anything it’s nice to talk about it, I know that no one can give me a magic solution.

                But I would love that Kindle book! If you could look it up I’d really appreciate it :)

            2. Anonymous Ampersand*

              I just reread. Tbh if she flips out at that stuff? She’s aware. She just doesn’t want to admit it to herself/you. If someone had said that stuff to me I would have been bemused but it would have planted a seed.

              I was talking from the perspective of someone who was “blissfully” unaware. She’ll need a different tack. A lot of talking up her own agency.

              I also fear that if she’s reacting like this he may have gone past the “breaking things and emotional abuse” stage to actually hurting her.

              And also, be aware he’ll be telling her all manner of sh*t about you. Even if you think he doesn’t know you know. Even if he doesn’t know you know! Abusers isolate and criticise family members. It’s what they do.

              Anyway, I came back to answer your question. I posted here at the end of May last year saying I might be done with the low level emotional abuse, back before I even realised quite how bad it was. I realised from that comment thread that I had to leave. I actually left at the end of October. It took a while to get my ducks in a row. But I did it.

              Good luck. I reiterate what I said about taking care of yourself <3

              1. Anonymous for this*

                Yeah, supposedly they got into a fight and she “fell” last year, but I didn’t hear this first hand… as said, I’m not the one she talks to, probably because she knows it’s all terrible and doesn’t want family to know. The friend said she believed she hadn’t hit him because she was just so upset about the falling, but I was like…. Kinda sounds like he hurt her, and I mean, even if she actually just fell, that shows you were having an unhealthy fight. I think it doesn’t happen regularly, and he isn’t hitting her, but who knows. I imagine she has the “well he can do all this other stuff as long as he doesn’t hit me” line which allows people to stay in relationships that are super messed up. I think he toes the line of physical abuse so she doesn’t realize what’s happening.

                I’ll take a look at some of that stuff, I don’t feel like there’s much else I can do… except hope!

                And oh yeah, I know he talks mad sh*t about me and the rest of the family. She tends to parrot the stuff back at me when I tell her he’s not good for her.

                I’m hoping that all the stuff I sent planted a seed – at the least, the idea that breaking stuff IS physical abuse, and will lead to physical abuse… Why does no one in my life know this?! When I suggest abuse they’re all “Oh you think?” and it’s like, YES it’s definitely abuse! Argh. Our society is terrible at this. Like you, I know so many people in unhealthy relationships.

                1. Anonymous Ampersand*

                  I’m so sorry to hear all that. It sounds bad :( I’m glad you’re in her corner even if it feels like she’s pushing you out of it.

                  The book is “emotional abuse breakthrough scripts” by Barrie Davenport but it may not be be useful if he’s violent :-| have a look anyway.

    6. BugSwallowersAnonymous*

      That must be so painful. I think your instincts are right– affirm that she has agency and is a complete person, make sure she knows that you’re a safe place to land, but also that you won’t judge her for staying. Scheduling one-on-one time with her, and making sure you also talk about things not related to evil boyfriend so your relationship is not all about helping her get out of a bad situation. Captain Awkward also has some great advice on being in this position, and I would really recommend checking out her archives.

    7. Kuododi*

      DS (dear sister) ex husband was emotionally and financially abusive. I just kept in contact….kept reminding her how much I love her and how much I always want good things for her. Ex husband was a higher level creep and they finally split when he admitted he had misplaced his d*** in another woman’s skirt…..(multiple times!!!). She’s now remarried to a wonderful guy (I officiated the service) and has had two magnificent children. Life is beautiful!!!!

    8. Star Nursery*

      I’m sorry. That situation is hard. You cannot get someone to end an abusive relationship when they aren’t making the decision to leave it. It’s really tough to watch someone you care about stay in that situation. They do deserve better treatment and they are worth a better partner who is kind, patient, allows them to be themselves, doesn’t hurt or control or make them feel less than. Until someone is ready to end things though there isn’t any magic button to get them to get out. Just keep an open line of communication, and be a supportive ally.

    9. Catherine from Canada*

      My daughter was in an abusive relationship for seven years. She lived in another city, our only contact was phone and e-mail. It was terrifying to watch the progression long-distance (eventually, you flinch when the phone rings…). The enforced isolation got so bad that she cut contact with us; knowing that she wouldn’t/couldn’t READ an email from me, I wrote subject lines that told her we were still there for her, like “thinking of you,” “I’m sorry you’re angry with us,” “hope you are well,” things like that. I knew I needed to keep the door open, the bridge unburnt so that when she was ready, she’d have a place to go.
      She did eventually get away from him, is now married with a baby, and has told me that those non-content emails were a big help, that they helped her not-entirely-believe his “I’m the only one that really cares about you” BS.

    10. June*

      Everyone has already given you some great advice but I have one more – Start a side hustle with her. So many women can’t leave their abusive partners because of finances. If she sees that she could be gainfully employed, maybe that will help open the door to leaving him?

  11. Lady Jay*

    Also, recommendations for a good tote? I was at a conference this Friday and wishing for a nice leather bag that would easily fit a water bottle, my laptop, and the contents of my purse (wallet, hand cream, lip balm, etc). I’m looking for something that
    * is one large open pocket within
    * has straps long enough to hang on my shoulder and hold over my arm
    * does not have an extra across-the-body strap or any bling (I do not like the look of metal/straps everywhere)
    * preferably leather or faux leather

    1. Lillian Gilbreth*

      Not leather, but have you investigated Dagne Dover at all? I have a midi tote from them and I am OBSESSED. Super professional looking, well made, lots of little pockets to augment the big on.

      1. Cristina in England*

        I just checked them out, they have two leather totes (Charlie and Allyn) which are gorgeous and the Allyn opens really wide so you can easily see what’s in it. Both fit a laptop.

        1. Lillian Gilbreth*

          Oh I just saw this! Hope you see my response – a laptop won’t fit in the padded sleeve (it’s made for tablets) but a small one will fit in the body of the bag.

    2. The future will be better*

      I’ve recently converted to Pendleton purses.. I know they aren’t leather like you asked, but I LOVE how much lighter they are than leather. Saves my shoulders!

    3. the gold digger*

      Libby Lane’s bags are great. I use mine for work – it fits my lunchbag, my computer, a jar of peanut butter to replenish my Peanut Butter Drawer, any chocolate to replenish The Chocolate Drawer, and my gym clothes with space left over. It’s gorgeous and sturdy. It’s pricey, but I look at it as The Only Bag I Will Ever Have To Buy Again.

      Plus I love her story – she started making bags with the leather from the cattle on her grandfather’s ranch in west Texas.

      Libbylane dot com. I have the Sophie tote, I think, and I got the zipper.

    4. Fiennes*

      Everlane has a great simple tote, leather, no frills, several colors. It’s been spotted on the shoulders of both Meghan Markle and Angelina Jolie, so you can have all the “it bag” cache while paying a fairly normal tote price.

    5. Clever Name*

      I have nice leather tote from madewell, and I use it to carry my laptop and my lunch to work

    6. Candy*

      I don’t have one, but Everlane’s totes look really nice. They’re very simple, leather, and look like they hold a lot of things without being too large and bulky

    7. MMM*

      I have one from Target that I love, and people often think it’s much fancier than Target brand haha

    8. Dead Quote Olympics*

      I like my Knomo leather work bags, although I prefer (demand) some interior pockets and a slip pocket. But depending on the model, they are pretty roomy inside with one big pocket. The handle drop is good -not too long but long enough for me to get into the bag without sliding it down my arm.

      If you want to try some minimalist well made faux leather, take a look at Matt and Nat. I have a bag from them that I often use for conferences. It looks professional and it’s lighter than leather.

    9. LemonLyman*

      I have a beautiful leather tote bought on Etsy that I always get compliments about. It looks like the popular Madewell one but without the price tag. There are different style options and colors and their stuff is all hand made. Check out Portland Leather on Etsy. (I’m not affiliated with them. Just love their stuff!)

  12. KatieKate*

    Am I late to the party of Queer Eye? I’m watching it now and love it! Except episode 3 with the cop. That was a little…..yikes.

    1. DoctorateStrange*

      I love that show! I gave up on ep3 halfway, but otherwise I liked it. I cried over a bit over the episode with the dad with 6 kids because I’m a bisexual Catholic and, well, those stories always resonate with me. I have to say, I would love to see more makeover shows that focus on men or deal with both men and women.

      1. DoctorateStrange*

        When I mean, I otherwise liked it, I mean the show, not the episode. I realized my phrasing made it sound weird.

      2. Chaordic One*

        When “What Not to Wear” first came on it featured both men and women, but after the first season or so it only featured women. Supposedly because the “before” and “after” transformations were more dramatic for women than they were for men. Yeah, I’d like to see more makeover shows featuring men, too.

        1. DoctorateStrange*

          Yeah, I’m enjoying Stacy London’s recent makeover show, “Love, Lust, or Run.” The transformations are more satisfying for me because Stacy is more creative there. She likes to mix her finesse with the people’s aesthetics and most times it looks great to me. I would love to see what she’d do with men.

    2. Melody Pond*

      I love the new Queer Eye!

      I watched the old one when I was in high school, and I like this one a little better. It feels less like the fab five are just caricatures of people for straight people to be entertained by, and more like these guys expect to be treated like real humans. I liked how they handled it in the first episode when the guy they were making over asked kind of an offensive question about one of their relationships. I think he asked which one of them was the girl and which one of them was the guy, and the fab five (the one in this scene, anyway), were like “Wow, okay! So, let’s break that down a little bit…”

      Also, the one where they made over the guy who hadn’t come out about being gay to his stepmom – ahhhh, I cried super hard at that one. (Also, that guy and his boyfriend were kind of insanely hot.)

      I haven’t finished it yet, the last one I watched was episode 5. But yeah, I’m really enjoying it. :)

    3. Tris Prior*

      The opening scene of the cop episode (involving the friend who nominated the makeover recipient – that’s all I’ll say due to spoilers) bothered me A LOT. Otherwise…. props to the Queer Eye guys for committing to make over someone who clearly had VERY different views than them. I’m not sure I wouldn’t have fled the house, had it been me.

      I really enjoyed the reboot. I like that they also focused more on making over the guys’ self-image and thoughts, than I remember the old version doing. I like that it wasn’t *entirely* about physical appearance and how they dress and such.

    4. Margali*

      I find Jonathan irritating and over the top, but other than that I live it and can’t wait for Season 2. I adore Tan and Karamo the most, and I want Antoni to be my cool little brother.

      1. Dear liza dear liza*

        I really loved Jonathan’s Web series GAY OF THRONES, but he’s a bit much for an entire series.

    5. Triple Anon*

      I almost didn’t post because I don’t want to be a downer. But I liked those shows at first and then became critical of them. On What Not to Wear, money is often clearly the issue. And/or time. Or something like that. Yes, if you give someone a day off and $5,000 (or whatever it was) that they can only spend on clothes, they will probably look better than they did when they had no days off and no expendable income. It was sad to see people’s real life, all too common challenges portrayed as fashion mistakes.

      And, on all of those shows, the queer vs straight stereotypes! And the gender stereotypes! And other things like that. I know that’s just tv and it’s all like that, but I found it really irritating.

      I’m just posting this for the sake of offering a different perspective. It’s just entertainment. If you enjoy it for that, no judgment! :-)

  13. Ruth (UK)*

    I posted on here a couple weeks back saying I have played fiddle on and off over the years but recently stopped playing due to feeling self conscious (I won’t repeat the whole story again, but it was due to something someone said as well as my feelings in general and not really liking how I sound, though I do like playing).

    I was previously playing in folk sessions etc. I also talked about how I feel my playing ‘level’ is mixed due to making certain beginner errors (like brushing strings I don’t mean to) and generally not being a good fiddle player despite having an ok musical ability in general (because though I lack much/recent formal teaching, I do also play other instruments. eg. I play piano at a higher level to my violin playing, and button melodeon at a lower level).

    I have practised a couple times this week partly because a friend of mine asked me if I would play / bring my fiddle to an event. I’m not sure if I will, but I thought I’d better find out if I can still remember how it works…

    I have not recorded my playing yet, but I wondered, if I did, would people on here give me feedback. Non-musicians about whether they think it is ok (or painful/annoying?) to hear (and would it be still bad if I was playing with other people eg. in a folk session) and musicians (especially string players) if they could think of any specific improvements I could make.

    I thought I could play some tunes and put it as an unlisted video on YouTube maybe next week or this week if I get it out and play now/soon. If you don’t know what unlisted means, it’s sort of between public and private. Anyone who has the link (which I’d provide) would be able to see the video, but it would never appear in a search.

    Does that sound like an ok thing, or is that not ok for reasons I’ve not thought of (I also realise it would de-anonymise me in a way if I did it on my regular channel (though maybe I could get round this somehow…?), which has other videos made by (and of) me, but I’m not too highly concerned. I’d disable the link (eg. make it private or remove the video) once the weekend thread was ‘closed’ eg. a couple days afterwards).

    1. FrontRangeOy*

      I’m going to repeat the advice I just got on a thread below because it’s spectacular: do what you do because you enjoy it, without any attachment to the outcome.

      Instrumental wise, I do understand your frustration though. I play several instruments at different levels of proficiency and it’s hard for me to separate how I feel about my performance from other people’s enjoyment of my performance. If your friends asked you to bring your instrument, they want to hear you play whether you think you’re up to your internal standard or not

    2. Myrin*

      I remember your story from a few weeks back and I’d love to hear some of your work and tell you what I think about it. I’m a total non-musician and can literally only judge music by whether I think it sounds nice or not, I have no ear for anything beyond that. If you end up doing this, I can also ask my sister to weigh in, as well – she’s a passionate and really good amateur singer and has much more of a technical ear without being overly critical.

    3. misspiggy*

      I’d be very happy to have a listen! Musical instrument playing person here, but not a fiddle player.

    4. Nelle Jefe*

      I would be interested, if you think you could return the favor for me at some point. I also like playing music but feel self-conscious about it, and I avoid session playing, mostly. In my case, it’s not anything anyone has said — I just have a big load of social anxiety that manifests itself that way.

      I know I’m not as good as I’d like to be, and the best cure for that is to just play more and work on my inner demons. I’ve thought before of recording myself a few times and letting one or a few people watch it. In my case, I’m less concerned with the overall ‘am I any good’ question, and more with ‘am I making any progress’.

      But while no mighty shakes as a performer myself, I’m pretty good at giving feedback. If you think it would be helpful to you, I’d be a willing participant.

    5. Hakuna Moscato*

      Long time reader coming out of lurker status to say…
      …I’m a string player, and I’d love to hear you play. I’m in a bit of a similar situation as you — I returned to the violin last year after a 17 year hiatus, though I’m taking lessons again. I’m not a pro violinist by any means, but if I can help, I’d be happy to.

        1. Hakuna Moscato*

          I played as a kid, too. :) I played for about a decade. Then I took a looooong break, lol. I didn’t return until one of my kids decided that she wanted to play, but now I’m wondering why it took me so long! Haha.

    6. Casuan*

      Ruth, what is your ultimate goal?
      Do you want to play in an orchestra, play professionally in smaller venues, play at parties, play for friends, play for you because you enjoy it, &or other or a mix of the above?
      If your goal is more towards the informal, then you might be so focussed on form to the point that it’s affecting the music. In a way I get the impression that you think that you have to play publicly, like it’s a requirement for one who plays an instrument. Your friend wouldn’t ask you to play if she didn’t like your music, although if she hasn’t heard you play then you should let her to be the judge.
      My impression might be way off base & if so, I’m sorry. Whatever your goals, you seem passionate about your music & you want to do it well & that’s always a special thing!
      I’d love to hear you play!

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        I want to play (informally) with other people in folk settings (I’m a morris dancer). But I don’t want to sound so bad that it annoys people that I brought my instrument and joined in. (my post the other week was about how a guy tried to make a ‘deal’ with me that he wouldn’t sing, if I would stop playing my violin (the implication being that he sings [and I play] badly, and no one wants to hear that).

        My friend has heard me play (andalso plays music)

        1. StrikingFalcon*

          Wow that dude is a jerk. I thought that before hearing you play, because that’s an incredibly mean thing to say in any context, let alone one where everyone is just there to have fun. But having listened to you, I can tell you that it is also completely unfounded as well. Seriously, this is all on him. He’s a jerk. You have nothing to worry about.

          (I don’t play a string instrument, so I can’t give you any useful technique feedback, but I play clarinet, so I say this as a fellow musician)

    7. Ruth (UK)*

      I uploaded a video – I realise this will also go to moderation now (due to the link, and I hope posting this is ok). So it is a bit late now in the day, but oh well…

      I realise I am very tense when I’m playing. I know I probably don’t use enough of the bow. My posture is bad but I struggle to correct it. I do make a few off noises… etc. I play 3 tunes in this clip. The 3rd one is not the one I had planned to play when I started off, so I think I took myself by surprise… (I don’t find it too cringey to hear myself, but more cringey to see myself play. I look a lot of tense/awkward/wrong than I feel I do).


      1. Cristina in England*

        I think you sound great! I am not a musician, just a fussy music fan, if that matters.

      2. Viola Player*

        Hi! I think you sound great and I really enjoyed listening to you. You play well in tune, your sense of rhythm and pulse is good, and you have a clear, strong sound. I read your comment after watching the video and I think your sense of what could be improved is pretty accurate: you tend to spend a lot of time in the upper half of the bow and some of the string crossings look a little awkward, with very big movements… experiment with different bowings as you could probably organise your bow distribution better. You do look tense (which I’m sure isn’t helped by knowing that you’re recording yourself!)… I know my “danger area” for tension is my shoulders, which tend to rise when I’m concentrating hard.
        As for the “off noises”, they didn’t stand out at all! Those types of mistakes are always so much more obvious to the performer than the audience, and are part of playing an instrument live.
        (If it matters, I’m a professional musician (a violist) and I teach violin and viola.)

        1. Ruth (UK)*

          Thank you. When I try and use the lower part of my bow, I feel all bunched up, so I end up not doing it, so I guess I never get used to using it. My string crossings do often feel awkward (you can sometimes hear an open string echoing that is not the one I’m trying to play on). One thing I’m aware of is… I kind of hate using my little finger and often play an open string above rather than use it (unless I’m already on the E string)! I actually can shift and play in other positions, but I haven’t had need/cause to for years (not since I last took lessons over a decade ago) so… I’ve probably forgotten how.

          1. Viola Player*

            Using the little finger… almost everyone hates this, especially at first, and it takes time to build up the strength in the finger. An easy exercise is to write down the numbers 1-4 in any order, then use that as your sequence for the day (so 1324, first finger, third finger…) Start on the E string and play the sequence as four crotchets, slurred together in one bow. Repeat this 4/8/10 times. Then double the speed, so you now play the sequence as quavers with two repetitions of the 4-note cycle in each bow. Then try doubling the speed again. Repeat this on all 4 strings (and don’t forget to move your left elbow slightly further under the instrument to help your fingers reach the lower strings).
            Another good exercise for the little finger is doing left hand pizzicato on all strings.
            My impression from your comments is that you’re an analytical person, so you might like the book “Basics” by Simon Fischer which has over 300 exercises for violin technique (some of them are REALLY tricky!)

      3. Peanut*

        I was a little worried at first, wondering whether you would want feedback if it was negative, but then I watched the clip. I have no idea what that guy was complaining about – is he awkward and maybe just tried to make a bad joke??? You are in tune and your sense of rhythm is fine, especially for what you want to do, so I’m completely baffled as to why anyone would complain about your playing. I quite enjoyed listening to it.

        I would say though, that I agree with Viola Player on some of the visuals of it. Is the person who complained not a great musician and basing his opinion on how you appear rather than how you sound? You don’t look happy, if that makes sense, because of posture, bowing, what VP said.

        But for what it’s worth, I don’t think you have anything to worry about as far as your sound goes.

        (I had 1 yr of piano, 5ish years of violin, then another 5ish years of viola. Played in audition-only orchestras up until graduating from high school, never practiced and kind of hated it, haven’t played in the 25ish years since then but now wish i had kept up because i would love to play in a group for contra dances, so good for you!!)

        1. Ruth (UK)*

          I would still like feedback if it’s negative. It’s hard to judge oneself, and I don’t want to be someone who keeps playing when other people are politely not saying anything but wishing I’d just stop. I know at least one person who plays out of tune violin and it’s not pleasant to hear. I wondered whether I am, but maybe my brain is ‘correcting’ it to my ear so I can’t tell how much I’m off (like how it’s difficult to proofread for yourself, because your brain reads what it thinks you wrote, not what you really wrote).

          The person who made the comment is not a musician at all, but he stood by his comment (he took it back when another person told him to, but then re-said it later). I do also do some ‘gag’ musical things when the situation allows – eg. I play the kazoo through my nose as a bit of a party trick. I think the topic started about that and… it was like he somehow didn’t realise that when I do nose-kazoo or ‘perform’ the triangle (ie. I make a big deal that I can play the triangle, and then stand holding the triangle as the music plays, and then ding it at the end) I am messing about/joking, but when I am playing the fiddle, I am not taking the p. He seemed to think my fiddle playing was equally a ‘gag’ act, somehow… (which made me question how bad it perhaps sounded)

          1. Peanut*

            I really don’t think your playing would make any normal person ask you to stop!! I have no idea what that guy is basing his opinion on, but it is clearly not on your actual playing because you are not out of tune in any noticeable way. And I’m definitely not saying this just to spare your feelings – honestly, I would just not have commented at all if I had been horrified by your playing or just disliked it.

            Are you ready for a solo at Carnegie Hall? Well, no, but that’s not your question or what you want to do. I really think that the average bystander (with or without a musical background) listening to you play solo would either enjoy it or would be neutral (not because of your actual skill level but because the person doesn’t like that particular style of music or another reason that has nothing to do with you).

            Please do go on playing in the folk settings if you enjoy it. If your worry is that you are making unpleasant noise for people, please know that it is unfounded on the reality of your playing. (In other words, you might still worry about it, but it seems based more in how you feel or what this one guy is saying, not your playing with is totally fine.)

      4. Nelle Jefe*

        You sound and look fine to me. I get the sense you are a little nervous, but it doesn’t take over what is a perfectly acceptable performance. I don’t think you should worry one bit about playing for your friend’s event — whatever the problem that one guy had, it was his own.

      5. Nynaeve*

        I thought your playing was perfectly pleasant. Not professional orchestra level, but about what I would expect to hear at something like a Renaissance fair. In a setting like that, I would stop and listen a while, clap, and maybe throw a dollar in the hat.

        I did notice you brushing an adjacent string in a couple of places, but only because I was listening for it. If you hadn’t mentioned that as an issue, I doubt I would have noticed.

        I say go forth and play! Ignore the haters! (Or ignite the haters, if you listen to autocorrect.)

      6. PlantLady*

        There’s nothing at all wrong with your playing, you sound very good! I don’t have the expertise to give you any technical feedback, but if I were at a get together or a jam session and you were playing, I would enjoy it.

        I finally started playing the fiddle about 3 years ago – in my mid 40s and with no other musical experience behind me – and I wish I sounded as good as you do. Keep up the good work!

        1. Ruth (UK)*

          Well done – it’s tough to start as an adult I think, and fiddle isn’t really the easiest one to start with (they’re good for kids cause they come in small sizes!). I know a guy who took up recorder for the first time in his 70s – about 3 years ago. He’s pretty decent at it now!

      7. anonagain*

        I’m a non-musician and I think you sound good! Your playing isn’t painful or embarrassing at all.

      8. Mm Hmm*

        You sound fine, Ruth. Your friend is way off base. Go forth & play!

        You mentioned that you’re working on your posture. If you are interested in things to try, you might check out the Alexander Technique. Part of what I like about it is that the focus is on “use of the self” & the relationships of posture & movement, rather than on positions. I recommend group classes over private, as I could see changes in others while having no idea how to understand what was happening internally. It’s a great tool to have, if it’s of interest.

      9. misspiggy*

        Loved it! Perfect for a folk setting. Very nice tone, confident rhythm and just enjoyable all round. Hubby who is a fiddle player says a little bit of string brushing was detectable, but that that just makes a nice folkie sound.

      10. Rosie M. Banks*

        I’m a folk musician and teacher (though not a violinist) and I gave it a listen. You have an excellent sense of rhythm and the ability to keep a steady tempo. (Trust me, not everyone does.) I thought the tunes were played with considerable musicality and expression. I heard a couple little squeaks and thought your bow dragged another string once or twice, but I certainly didn’t hear anything that detracted from the overall musicality of the performance, which I found quite enjoyable. If you were my student, and played at that level on my instrument, I would say “Go forth and play in public whenever you like!” Ignore the jackass who criticized you. Good amateur musicians can bring a lot of joy into people’s lives, and you shouldn’t let some jerk take that away from you.

        (Apologies if something like this posts twice — I wrote out something very similar, but it seems to have disappeared.)

      11. Casuan*

        Thanks for sharing your music with us!
        I really enjoyed it!!
        Also, +1 that the guy you mentioned was a jerk.

        Three things that come to mind:
        -My ex-roomie played quite well & often I’d see her practise. Your face seemed to have the same look of concentration that she had, which is my bizarre way of saying that your face doesn’t look tense.
        -Your stance is a bit tense. Would it help if you changed how you stand just a little? It might not be technically correct, although would that matter for how & when you play?
        -Your bow wrist also seems tense; would it help to loosen it when you play?

        1. Ruth (UK)*

          The face, yes… It’s actually so common especially among box players that we call it ‘melodeon face’ in the morris world! I do enjoy playing, but don’t look it…

          My stance is the one thing most incorrectly represented in this clip… I normally end up swaying when I play but it looks really weird. I’m quite embarrassed about it tbh. Here, I am making quite a conscious effort not to..

          Bowing… I need to work on but I’m struggling with actually improving or correcting it

      12. Vancouver Reader*

        I thought it was lovely! I’m not a musician by any stretch, but I really admire anyone who plays the violin because I think it’d be a very difficult instrument to play well. Bravo to you for posting it on YouTube and letting us enjoy your music.

      13. Myrin*

        I think you sound perfectly lovely! As I mentioned, I’m like, negatively-talented when it comes to music, so I can basically only judge whether I like something or not, and I did like this! I can’t in any way differentiate between your playing and that of a professional musician, it all sounds the same to me, so I think you did perfectly fine.

        As others said, you appeared a bit stiff which obviously doesn’t have anything to do with how you sounded but I was always waiting for you to… move a bit more, if that makes sense? I’m used to fiddlers at least swaying a little, often even getting really into it and “bouncing” so I kinda missed that, but that might just be influenced by the people I know who play the violin.

      14. Jules the First*

        You’re a little overcritical! You play much better than I would have expected from the words you’ve posted…so go forth and play with joy!

        That said, since you want critcism, here are my “violin teacher hat” comments on your comments:
        – your posture is good, but please stop trying to stop swaying…there’s nothing wrong with moving when you play and by trying not to, you are creating tension which is inhibiting your playing :)
        – using your fourth finger will be easier if you can drop your left wrist. By flexing your wrist up, you are limiting the space your tendons have in the wrist, which makes moving your fingers harder. If you ease your wrist down more in line with your arm, your fingers will move more freely and comfortably.
        – you mention that you find it hard to play in the lower half of the bow; we talked last time about bowing through the wrist and fingers, rather than just through the elbow (which is what you are doing and which is very very normal!). Working on this will give you the biggest bang for your buck in the sense that it will give you more control over your bow and thus more confidence in your sound.

        Let me know if anything I’ve said doesn’t make sense – I’m happy to try a skype call if you want real-time feedback before you play at your friend’s thing.

        1. Ruth (UK)*

          Thank you.

          I will try to sort out my wrist – that has been bad since forever and sometimes I remember to try and correct it, and then I forget again for a while! It slips up when I’m not consciously thinking about it.

          I will try and look up some bowing exercises – I had sort of forgotten about them but vaguely recall having done some when I first learned, which I could probably go back to…

          My friend’s thing is a little soon, but it’s not hugely concerning… it’s really just a folk session (lots of people playing at once) but is a specially called one for a particular party rather than a regular weekly/monthly/whatever one. I’m also a bit socially embarrassed that people might click they haven’t seen me with the fiddle since probably November now and ask me about it (that friend and one other are the only 2 that seem to have noticed at the moment – I wasn’t bringing it every week even when I was ‘still’ playing).

      15. Ron McDon*

        Hi Ruth,

        A bit late here, but I thought you sounded great! I don’t personally like the violin (many years of listening to it played very badly by children!), but I thought you played very well.

        As others have mentioned, I did hear a few times where you brushed other strings but think it doesn’t matter – you’re not playing as a classical violinist in an orchestra or as a soloist at Last Night of the Proms. I feel it is more than acceptable for this sort of informal folky playing.

        So, that guy is a jerk, and you should not feel embarrassed or awkward about playing in public. Quite honestly I was almost dreading clicking on the link, and wondering how bad you were going to be; from your post I was expecting to hear that awful, screechy, scratchy violin playing from my youth! You were nothing at all like that – go and play!

      16. the gold digger*

        I haven’t played violin for years, but I thought you sounded just fine. I don’t know where that guy was coming from. I was expecting something like the sound of cats fighting. Instead, I heard perfectly pleasant music!

        As I watched, I channeled my 7th grade orchestra teacher, Ms. Bonnington, who would have said, “Straighten your left wrist and get that right elbow up!” :)

    8. Like Feathers*

      Oh, I remember that! Also thinking the person who said stuff to you was a word not to be used on AAM…

      Not sure my feedback would be useful, since my ears are very untrained, but happy to give it a go.

    9. MarySue*

      I gave you a listen and it sounded fine to me! As good as any folk music fiddler I’ve ever heard. In context, I like to go to open mikes, hootenannies and that kind of informal music event and…I kind of thought that “fiddle” music in this context is supposed to be a little less precise than perhaps classical violin playing in a quartet might be. So if there were any errors (not that I heard any) I would attribute it to style….sort of like in some jazz the notes are more bendy.
      I think maybe the person who criticized your playing is a bit of a jerk, and/or, if his singing is bad, perhaps his ear is also bad. Or he may just not like the violin. My mother always hated the instrument because she found the high notes painful, especially if out of tune as it might be for a beginning learner, so I was not allowed to learn it myself.
      I also tend to dislike the high notes (also high soprano singing) so I thank you for not going up there! Don’t know if this helps but my cat came over to cuddle while I was listening. He appears to love it. Try an audience of felines to build your confidence. And recommend a voice teacher to your “friend.”

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        Yeah, I think the difference between ‘fiddle’ and ‘violin’ is about the way you play it and the context. I think if you say ‘violin’ you can mean any style or level, but it’s especially more common if you are intending to play ‘correctly’ where ‘correct’ here means ‘classically trained’ and probably playing classical music.

        I think ‘fiddle’ is used if you’re playing folk or country music, and especially if you are self taught or do not play ‘traditionally’ or ‘properly’ etc. People who play in this way can still be very good! But it’s just different.

        I think overall ‘violin’ is the broader term. I think you can still call it a violin if you’re a folk player, and it won’t sound off, but it sounds a bit weird to say ‘fiddle’ when you’re talking about a classical string quartet.

        Originally, I began taking lessons (as a child) in quite a traditional/classical way, which I never really enjoyed and then gave up until I took it up again once I’d been kidnapped into the folk world. For me, calling it a ‘fiddle’ sounded odd for a couple years – it didn’t quite work in my mouth, and I felt sort of like I was using a ‘slang’ that didn’t belong to me. Sort of like when you’re a kid and then adults try to use current-kid-slang and then it sounds silly – I felt like I was basically doing that. But ‘violin’ felt wrong to say too (cause I was playing folky), so I started just saying “my instrument” for a while! Now, it feels normal to say fiddle… phew!

        I also am not a fan of high notes! The 2nd piece I played, I am actually playing the first part of it an octave lower than everyone else usually does! I sort of wish I played the viola instead, but not quite enough to commit to getting one or trying to make a switch…

        1. Rosie M. Banks*

          Folk musician here, though not a violinist. I heard lovely rhythm and controlled tempo, which not every amateur has. A few squeaks or notes dragged onto another string, but nothing that seriously detracted from the overall musical effect. Overall, I thought it was a clear and musical performance. I also think the guy who criticized you sounds like an ass. With your musicality, you have the ability to bring a little more joy into the world. Don’t let anyone take that away from you!

        2. Viola Player*

          I’m very biased here, but you should absolutely have a go at the viola! It’s a wonderful instrument and doesn’t get the love it deserves :-) At the music school where I work, I’ve just started a viola ensemble. There are currently 10 members, aged between 7 and 20, some of whom only play the viola while others are violinists interested in learning a new but not so different instrument… the youngest player in the group even asked Father Christmas to bring her a viola!
          Whatever you do, don’t give up playing!

        3. Incantanto*

          Can you find a folk based teacher to give you a listen/a couple of lessons. I play clarinet and recently played for two lessons just to reset after none for years: it really helped just to get a few pointers on how to improve. The folk world is full of helpful fiddlers, but I know they can tend to intimidating/exclusive in groups, so a couple of one on ones might bring up your confidence.

          Or maybe one of the workshop sessions at a festival?

    10. Hakuna Moscato*

      I watched your video and I think you sound great. You’re in tune and you have good rhythm. I agree with Viola Player in that you look a bit tense and your string crossings are big (for lack of a better word). I did hear some string brushing, but I was looking out for them since you mentioned it. I don’t know if I would’ve noticed if I hadn’t been looking for it.

      Overall, I think you’re totally fine. I’d definitely stop and listen if I saw you playing live at an event. (I love fiddle music! I mostly play classical, which is sometimes less fun.)

  14. Elsie*

    Anybody have any tips for getting through a deployment? My boyfriend is in the military and got deployed for the first time since our relationship started. I won’t be able to be in contact with him at all right now. The person I talk to every day suddenly is totally unreachable and I feel lonely. Has anyone been through this? Any advice?

    1. Thlayli*

      How often can you contact him? As I understand it most deployments have some time at a base built in so you might be able to talk once a week or once a fortnight or something. Having that date in your head makes it easier. Also write him letters / send care packages etc.

      Apart from the contact aspect, just go about your life as if you were single, minus the dating. Connect with friends and family, arrange something to do with other people at least once a week, get a hobby, etc. The time will pass soon enough if you keep busy.

      1. Elsie*

        He’s in the submarine service, so there’s no texts, phone calls, video chat, Facebook, etc. I can email him but he can only email back a small percentage of the time.

        1. ContentWrangler*

          That’s tough, hope you have good friends you can lean on while you deal with this change. I haven’t dealt with a deployment though I have experience with prolonged time abroad where the time difference made communication really difficult. It helped me to send a little email every day, usually before bed – kind of like coming home and talking about how your day way, what things happened that made you think of them. You make it clear that you don’t expect a response to most of the emails. It’s kind of like a diary for the person you’re missing. Just getting out the things you wish you could say to him might help.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Letters. It’s become a lost art–even though you can type up an email and then hit send–but it is a good way to keep him connected to home.

      My husband often has business trips to Asia where he’s 12 hours off from me, and I will send texts about what the children or animals are doing that only make sense if you know them, and are only particularly interesting or touching if you know them. (e.g. “Apparently it’s hard to dribble a soccer ball upstairs while carrying hot chocolate” and “Dog was not switched with a doppelganger”) If you can compile those little small observations (“Wed, lunch: Cat defeats Q-tips”) into a longer missive that you send (email, letter, etc) it can make for a nice connection.

      1. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

        I second this. A close friend was a submariner and he and his wife worked HARD at writing letters to each other. Even if they arrived in a big batch, they would draw them out over the days apart. They also kept those letters and at their 20th anniversary, sat down and read them again.

    3. TerryD*

      I don’t really have any advice but I do sympathize. My husband is in the military as well and we have spent a lot of time long distance because of that. I would look into the base resources, I know that where I am there was a ton for dependants going through deployment. I’ve known people who got a lot of comfort from countdowns. My mother and father were also in the military and spent a lot of time apart due to deployments and postings and what it came down to in their relationship was independence. Being able to be comfortable alone and knowing that you are complete even without your S.O.
      Totally second the letters or writing emails. I found that when my husband was incommunicado writing letters / emails were enough to get the impression of connection that I craved.
      I also have mantras. This too shall pass. It’s a hell of a climb but think of the view at the top. Remember your strength.
      And don’t be afraid to ask for help!
      Sorry for how scattered this all is!

    4. MissingArizona*

      When my husband deployed it was incredibly lonely. The best thing you can do is just keep yourself busy. They’re gone, and it sucks, but it’ll suck a lot more if you sit at home waiting for them.

    5. Cheshire Cat*

      Do you know any family members of his crew mates? Sometimes talking to others in your situation can be helpful. If you can do something inexpensive and fun once a month, it can help — plus they know exactly what you’re going through.

    6. KR*

      Try seeing if there is a Facebook group for the significant others of his units wives! It’s a little different because you’re a girlfriend and girlfriends usually get excluded from most benefits ans support wives get but I found the company of other wives is so so helpful dealing with deployments and long field ops. We’re all here for you. -USMC wife

    7. Moose Javian*

      My husband was on submarines too, and left for a 6 month deployment on the day of our first wedding anniversary. Seconding previous posters’ advice to write emails to him. We numbered ours in the subject line, and wrote every day, about all kinds of things – daily events, big news, random thoughts. The numbering really helped, because I think on submarines, they send the emails through (both to and from boats) in batches, which means you can go days without receiving any, and then have 3 or 4 hit your inbox at the same time. The numbers helped both of us keep the chronology straight. And you can also see if you miss any, which does happen. They don’t always go through, for various reasons.
      The deployment will be tough – not gonna lie. But keep yourself busy, reach out to friends, try to find some fellow navy wives/girlfriends if possible, and count down the days. It’s not forever!

    8. Kuododi*

      Check with your base… depending on the policy, you may qualify for free services with a Military Family Life Consultant through Family Program. (Unsure if they work with unmarried partners.). It has been about 10 years since I worked with the military so I am unsure about current policy. Military One Source is also a great resource. (Free telephone support.). Check your base and see if there is a Family Readiness Group in your area. (Family support made up of military families.). Best wishes and keep in touch…

    9. Tea, please*

      My brother is currently deployed (3rd time), but he does have wifi access. See if there is a Family Readiness Group connected with your BFs unit. Typically it is run by the wife of the commander to share information and this could be a support network for you. This could be tricky b/c you’re not married, but maybe it could help you get connected with other girlfriends.
      Mail is also a great way to stay in touch. Also, I gave my brother a digital recorder before his first deployment so he could send audio messages to his kids. Don’t know if he ended up using it, but he was really excited to try.

    10. June*

      Oh girl, been there, done that (married to a military man for 10 years before he retired). Here are some things that helped us –
      1. Email him as much as possible. I know he won’t be able to respond often but it helped me feel connected with my hubby when he was gone. And it keeps the other person connected to what is going on at home. Even little things like telling him I was so proud that I remembered to take out the trash on trash day that I had a smile that morning going to work. It will mean the world to him to hear the boring, little details.
      2. If he is a reader, send him a copy of a book you both could read. Have him write notes in his copy and discuss it via email or when he returns.
      3. Send care packages. It made me happy to think of themes and get the supplies to make the care packages. Some suggested themes are – jerky in every flavor (some counties wouldn’t accept pork products so check first); birthday care package with decorations and enough goodies for him to share with everyone so he could have a mini party; everything in yellow (or another other color you want); cheesy books from a used book store; silly underwear (if he is allowed to wear something other than military issued and make sure they are comfortable – no thongs); gum in every flavor; water sports (squirt guns, water balloons, etc.); you get the idea.
      4. Just know this time apart is going to suck. Embrace the suck as they say and take good care of yourself. I took more baths and cried in the shower when I needed.
      Hang in there!

  15. FrontRangeOy*

    I’m opening a show in a week. Amateur/Community theater but we’re a 99 seater philosophically (small program with the intent of training young actors and developing their craft). I learned how to cope with repetitive anxious thoughts last year but am still struggling with feelings of not being good enough. It’s a small show, just 5 actors including myself, and our director has about a decade of professional acting credits as well. I’m just an adult community actor who like acting enough to show up and audition for 2 shows a year and learn as much as I can in during the rehearsal periods. I’ve been called “a naturally really talented actor” several times in the past couple days and that’s messing with my tech week mindset more than it should.

    1. nep*

      I think no matter what the undertaking, most people struggle with a sense of not being good enough. But what’s ‘good enough,’ really?
      It’s great that you do this. Think about how much you enjoy some unique quality this or that fellow actor brings. You’ve got that too — whatever that flair is that only you have. And — given those comments you’ve received — I’m sure you’re far better than you give yourself credit for.
      A good friend once made a remark to me about doing something without attachment to outcome — it really is powerful. It can apply to so many things — sending a letter, trying a new skill…
      All the best to you. Enjoy.

      1. FrontRangeOy*

        That’s really helpful, to do your thing without attachment to the outcome. Thank you

    2. Mm Hmm*

      You do you. It’s the way to grow into your craft. Others provide information in their responses, but it’s information for you to use not definitions imposed on you.

      Many of us have been at performances where some people weren’t impressed but for others it was the best they’d ever seen/heard. You do you.

    3. LilySparrow*

      A couple of things that helped a lot when I was performing:

      Use a physical ritual of some kind to “take off” yourself and “put on” the character. It’s hokey, but it helped me get out of my own head.

      Bear in mind that creative frustration or dissatisfaction is a sign that your skills are making a leap. Your discernment of what’s good and perception of what’s possible are always ahead of your ability. So your artistic growth goes in cycles: you try something, you’re pleased with the result, you feel a sense of accomplishment. Then you learn more, and you get dissatisfied. Your previous efforts seem weak. Then you level up and have a new sense of accomplishment.
      So you should always welcome that feeling of discontent as good news – it means you’re about to level up.

      Focus on your technique stuff: what does your character want at this exact moment? How close are you to getting it? Who’s winning or losing the scene right now? What is the physical event, the emotional event, the change in relationship? How are you experiencing that right now? And so forth.

      And then sometimes I had to kind of shake myself and say, “Listen missy, those people paid money to see this play, not my agita. They deserve 100 percent of my attention and effort, all the way through. Its not about me & my feelings, it’s about doing the show. So qwitcher whining & get on with it.”

      So best of luck with tech week and break a leg!

      1. FrontRangeOy*

        Thank you!

        Just got home from a double header (OY!!) and this was wonderful to read before heading to bed. The drama we’re doing is emotionally demanding so “stepping out of my character” rituals are already super important. Mine is not hanging costumes until final curtain (I lay them over a chair neatly in the meantime). Hanging everything up helps me get back to myself

  16. Feeling Crushed*

    Am planning on leaving my marital/family home after 35 years of marriage and 30 years in this house. Ive opened my own bank accounts, have been looking for places to live, etc. Im going to have to take some money out of my 401k to buy a used car. It feels so hard and I am so anxious. Husband is delusional about our relationship. Now that kids are gone, its worse. How do people do this?

    1. New commenter*

      All I can say is take it one day at a time. Maybe break things down into manageable tasks (like buying s used car), and just keep doing the next task. You are so brave for making such a big life change. Not everyone would do that, but so proud of you for recognizing when something was no longer working, and being willing to pursue a better life for yourself. You are amazing, and you deserve the best life for you. Good luck!!!

      1. Feeling Crushed*

        Thanks, thats good advice. Will feel less overwhelmed. Our marriage has been crappy for a long time. I want to be able to enjoy life at this point.

    2. Anonymous Ampersand*

      I left after 13 years of marriage, almost 20 years since I fell in love with him. It’s hard. Really really hard. 35 years is long. But being trapped where you’re unhappy is worse.

      Good luck. Keep posting (if you want to). I’m rooting for you.

    3. I Am Still Furious!!*

      Good for you! I left after 32 years of marriage, most of it bad. My husband isn’t getting the picture, and it will soon be 6 months since I moved out, and no settlement proposal yet. I can’t wait to get the divorce finalized so I can move on! Just take one day at a time, be good to yourself, and remember there will be good and bad days, but at the end, you will be so much happier.

    4. Marillenbaum*

      The same way you eat an elephant: one bite at a time. You are doing the things you need to do, and that’s enough.

      1. Feeling Crushed*

        Thanks all, i just have to keep reminding myself that i did everything i could.

    5. Nic*

      Oh Feeling Crushed, I’m sorry you’ve dealt with 35 years of hardship, and I’m THRILLED for you that you’re making plans to get out!

      It sounds like you’re already going through some great steps. The other advice here is also really good…take it one day at a time, one step at a time.

      I haven’t been through the same situation, but I know when I’m planning something big, even if it’s good, I often procrastinate. My trick is to make myself do at least one thing towards the goal a day. Make a phone call. Put aside money. Spend 10 minutes packing or making a list. Whatever I can to keep things moving forward.

      I know it’s suggested around here a lot, but Captain Awkward has some good stuff that involves making time and space for you, connecting with Team You, and getting stuff done.

      Good luck, you’ll rock this! Please keep us updated!

    6. Quickbeam*

      Feeling Crushed: I’m your internet twin. Leaving a 31 year marriage. I strongly recommend counseling, it has changed my life. I now have a storage locker for things that are important to me and am scouting out apartments. I have separated our finances and sought legal help on what I am entitled to. It’s hard but it won’t get easier ignoring the problems ( in my case spousal addiction). I’ll keep you in my thoughts as we make our way in an unfamiliar world!

  17. oy*

    Regular commenter going oh so anon

    Is the third date too early to have a “Where might this be headed?” conversation? How do I even have the conversation if the timing’s okay?

    I met someone through a dating app. We’ve gone out twice. For the first time in my life (I’m in my early 30’s), I feel like there might be something there, like I might actually want something serious with him. We won’t get married next month or anything, but there’s definitely something there that I’ve never felt with anyone else I’ve dated. And, yeah, I know this is ridiculously early because…

    I need to tell my landlord very soon whether or not I want to commit to my lease for another year. I’m very on the fence about whether I want to stay for another year. I have time for one more date with this person before I need to let my landlord know. What this guy says is not going to determine, by itself, whether I stay or go, but it’s information I’d appreciate having.

    I’m also studying in another country on a visa. I have about a year before I’ll have to leave unless I find a job here, but my classes end in May and then I’m just writing my thesis, which I could do here or elsewhere. The economy here is going through some weird problems, and because of the uncertainty I’m not sure whether I want to stay or whether I’ll even be able to find a job once I get my degree. So if there is something there and he agrees there’s something there and things are going well, I might have to leave anyway in a year.

    He is fairly shy, so I doubt he will bring it up. I’m going with the assumption that if one of us is going to bring it up, it’ll have to be me. But I’m totally stuck on how to address it because, well, I got to my 30’s without even tentatively feeling like this about anyone so I just assumed I never would. I know this is really premature and I wish the timing weren’t so awful. If I were more sure of where I’d physically be within the next couple years I’d wait. Ugh, I feel ridiculous even asking this.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Thoughts as I read:
      1st paragraph: With relationships it only matters if you’re reasonable close to the same page. People happily agree to marry on the second date, or that this is casual after 5 years.

      3rd paragraph: Do not move in together. That really shifts the “should I break up” and is probably too fast.

      4 and 5: Is it possible to rent a place on a monthly basis? You seem eh on your home and town–which is better than loathing them.

      If there is to be a long-term, how does he feel about where he lives?

      1. oy*

        No renting on a monthly basis unless I wanted to get an Airbnb (which would be much more expensive than my apartment). As a non-citizen, I have to pay a lot more than a citizen would, which is the biggest factor in my thinking of moving somewhere else (as in another country because the situation would be the same anywhere in that city). Wasn’t thinking of moving in with him right away, but a lot of people seem to have jumped to that, so I must have worded something wrong there.

        He does like the city we live in. I don’t know if he wants to stay here forever. If I were in a better headspace (mine’s been bad for a long time for unrelated reasons), maybe I’d be less eh about it.

        But not renewing the lease feels like deciding to preemptively end whatever relationship we could have had–if I leave, I’m probably not coming back. And it took more than 30 years for me to find someone I could even imagine myself being with in the long run, so the thought of not even trying to see where it might go even if it doesn’t work out is a rough one to think, to say the least. If I keep going like this, maybe I’ll meet someone else I like in my 60’s.

    2. RestlessRenegade*

      I understand and I don’t think you’re ridiculous! I think one way to approach it might be to let him know your plans and see what he says. I told my SO that I was applying to grad school in a city about three hours away. When I got accepted, which was several months into the relationship, I said I was going and he could come if he wanted or not. He said yes, and we stayed together for 5 years.
      I would also say that three dates is a little early for making plans around. Renew the lease or don’t based on your own wants/needs, but I wouldn’t make any decisions based on the guy, because you never know.

      1. Anona*

        Ditto to all of this! Third date is super early to be renewing/not renewing based on him. Give it a few more dates and see how things are before having the “so, are we seeing other people or are we exclusive” talk.

        1. oy*

          I don’t disagree with you that the third date is too early to be renewing or not renewing for him. That’s what’s making this so frustrating for me. If I decide not to renew (there are pros and cons to both sides, it was just a much less emotional internal debate for me before I met this guy), then why bother having the “Are we exclusive?” talk to begin with? Or why bother even continuing to see each other at all?

          1. Snark*

            The thing is, though, you’re defining “successful relationship” as “seeing each other exclusively for a really long time, and staying together through the visa issue.” That’s one possible successful outcome, but it’s not that or “why even see each other at all if I’m not sure?” You can have a very successful relationship for….six months, and then decide, hey, this isn’t quite what I’m feeling but you’re a great person and I wish you the best. You can have a successful relationship for a year and still decide that he’s not the person you want to be with when you’re both ancient and toothless, and leave the country and bid him a fond farewell. Or maybe you end up happily ancient and toothless together. But I’ve had six-month flings of a totally nonexclusive nature that I consider totally successful relationships, and I’ve observed exclusive 30-year marriages that I’d rate a failure.

            So I think it’s a fallacy to assume that it’s not worth it to ride this train – whether you get off a few stops down the line or ride it all the way to the end – particularly when it sounds like you’ve not been in many relationships, successful or otherwise. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that it’s not worth it at all if it doesn’t end in a nursing home.

      2. Betsy*

        What my ex did was to tell me, when we first started dating, quite early on, that she had plans to spend time in another country in six months time, and that it was all already organised, so I had the information I needed to make a choice about whether to keep dating her. So we decided to see where things went, with no real expectations that it would last.

        I think if you give him all the info about your potential plans, then you can see how things go from there.

    3. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

      I think it’s too early. This comes from someone who (when he was 20) told his girlfriend he loved her after eight days together, and freaked the living heck out of her. Personally I’d give it at least a month, and in the meantime, just enjoy the feeling of feeling something for someone that you’ve never felt for anyone else (doesn’t that feel nice)? All the best of luck to you.

      1. oy*

        Yeah, I don’t love him and definitely don’t plan on saying it before I do (if I do). It’s hard to enjoy this feeling with all the uncertainty, though.

    4. Snark*

      “Is the third date too early to have a “Where might this be headed?” conversation?”

      Yeah, I think. My wife and I had sort of a hypothetical, “so, what are you looking for relationshipwise these days” sort of discussion, but it wasn’t so much “where are WE headed” as much as a “where would you like to be headed” discussion. And she, like you, was also considering whether she’d move back to Israel or stay in the US, and was not sure which gender she wanted to partner with, and it was good to get all the cards out on the table.

      In your case, I think it’d be good to lay some cards out on the table – “so I’m not sure whether I can or want to stay here, and my visa is what it is, but I see some potential for a long-term relationship with you, where ya at?”

      1. Snark*

        And, I meant to add, that conversation was like two months in, when we’d started hanging out three or four nights a week and it made sense to call her my girlfriend. Three dates in is pretty early to bring this up.

          1. Snark*

            I understand, but there’s such a thing as being too honest, especially after three dates. He’s not going to be able to reassure you that he wants you to stay or that he’s going to be in a relationship with you when your visa expires because he doesn’t know. All either of you know is that this is an interesting person who you could see a relationship with maybe happening. And that’s too early for him to productively or comfortably engage with that question.

      2. Reba*

        I think that’s a really useful distinction: what you want in a relationship, where you envision such a relationship fitting in your life, versus what is the future of THIS (potential) relationship right here. I think the former is totally in bounds in early dates. The latter you probably can’t even answer beyond the presence of absence of spark/chemistry.

        That said the moving situation has to be decided based on you alone. You just can’t count on this person yet.

        Caveat, I don’t know shit about dating but I love talking to my friends about it. I know that if I were dating now I’d want to be strategic about it and I’d appreciate having the big picture chats on the early side.

        Good luck!

      3. Typhon Worker Bee*

        Yeah, I didn’t have the “should I renew my work permit? Or maybe even look at applying for permanent residence?” conversation with my now-husband until we’d been together for almost a year. Doing it before that would have put too much pressure on a new and fun relationship. Apartment leases obviously aren’t as big of a deal as immigration decisions, but I’d still give it at least a couple more months.

      4. Parenthetically*

        Mm, yeah, this is where I’d land as well, I think. “Hey, in general I’m looking for X kind of relationship, what about you” is fair pretty early on.

        1. Sled dog mama*

          Yes! My now husband and I had a what are you looking for and how does a relationship fit in your plans conversation pretty early (2-3 weeks) and became long distance at 3 months. Next week we will have been married 10 years. Make your decisions for you and what makes best sense for you and give the relationship time to grow and develop, even if it is long distance (hubby and I went a year where we saw each other twice, in a long distance relationship you either figure out how to talk to your partner about everything or the relationship doesn’t work, I think the long distance did wonders for our communication)

    5. Krista*

      I think you are rushing things. It would make me uncomfortable if someone asked me that question after the second date and might scare me away.

    6. Twitch*

      Make your housing decision based on you, not whatever he says. That should not be a consideration at this time. Even if the two of you are one day going to be married, three dates in is way too soon for that to have ANY bearing on your choices. In six months, maybe, it would be reasonable to start thinking about these things. But three dates just isn’t nearly enough time to know someone well enough to go there.

    7. Libervermis*

      No need to feel ridiculous, you’re finding a connection with someone and aren’t sure how to pursue it. Most people can relate.

      Separate from any other conversations or decisions, do not move in with him. Decide where you’re living next year based on what works for you and let the relationship be separate from that.

      In terms of discussing the future, it seems like a “hey I really like this and I’d like to keep seeing where this relationship is going” convo is perfectly in line with where you’re at. “I’m moving away in a year, do you see us making it for the long term” is probably not. So exclusivity/mutual interest: fine. Plans for eighteen months from now: likely premature.

      1. oy*

        I guess I just don’t see the point in being exclusive with someone when I already know there’s a hard end date–I know where it’s going, which is nowhere. It’s not that I want to plan out the whole relationship and want confirmation that we’ll eventually get married, it’s that I don’t see a reason to keep seeing him if I already know I’m leaving. And if I decide not to renew my lease, why even go on a fourth date or have the discussion at all?

        1. Libervermis*

          Oof, that all sounds like a lot (and still not at all ridiculous). I wish I had an answer for you, but I mostly just have internet hugs if you want them. I would encourage you not to think of it as a simple binary of “I renew my lease, stay here, date this person” or “I move away, never find love” – I’m not saying this is your exact binary, and that feeling of “what if I never find this again?” is real, but what if there were more alternatives than “this person or bust”?

        2. Reba*

          You could just enjoy the company for the time that you have it?

          I agree that exclusivity probably doesn’t make sense in that situation, but having fun is still allowed–if you think it’s possible to have the fun and not hurt too bad when it’s done, I guess.

          1. Snark*

            Yep. I think there’s a head-zap the culture lays on us, where everything is rounded up to TWOO WUV and “if I don’t want to make babies with this person it’s not real” and “it has to maybe last for the next 50 years or I’m out.” A low-stakes six-month fling is just….hooking up. FWBs. It’s not real. It’s not actually successful. But what if it is? What if it’s warm and fun and you take good care of each other and part with some sorrow at the end? It doesn’t need to be maximum emotional and time investment to be real and successful.

        3. Colleen*

          What are the penalties for renewing then moving out? Is there an option to sublet? Move in with roommates? It seems like there may be an option between “commit to this place for a whole year” and moving out of the country in 2 months (or whenever you’d have to leave).

          Even if there’s a cost to breaking your lease, perhaps that’s the cost of finding out if there’s something to this relationship.

          I also agree you can have the “I’m digging this, how about you?” after 3 dates- and you might get enough in his response to make a decision (if he says no, if he says he doesn’t want a long term relationship, etc).

        4. Betsy*

          But the thing is, you’re shutting yourself out of a potential opportunity if you just cut things off now. Sure, there is a strong possibility that you may move to another country, be open about that. But who knows what will happen- you could have several more dates and then go long distance for a while, or maybe next date he’ll pick his nose all the way through dinner at a nice restaurant and you’ll be put off and not want to see him again, or maybe if you date for a while he’ll be open to moving to your country.

        5. Snark*

          “It’s not that I want to plan out the whole relationship and want confirmation that we’ll eventually get married,”

          Except….basically you are, as I said above. You’re assuming that if you can’t plan out the relationship beyond a year from now, it’s not worth even considering – even if you’re not setting a marriage date yet. And you think you can’t plan out the relationship, or at least see a clear logistical path to staying with this person for over a year, then why bother? But if a person is basically nontoxic and good to you, and you have good experiences together and bring each other happiness and (should you be so inclined) sexy times, and you strive to leave the relationship honestly and compassionately whenever that might happen….that’s success, my friend!

          If you need a reason to keep seeing him, “I might have a relationship for up to a year and maybe much longer, depending on how things roll, with the first person I’ve actually been attracted to in a very long time if ever,” seems a solid one to me. You don’t need to make an airtight court case demonstrating to the doubtful jury in your head that there’s a point to dating a person.

          1. oy*

            I fudged the timeline for anonymity reasons and I think I accidentally made things unclear. If I don’t renew my lease I’m gone in 3 months.

            Any relationship could end at any time. But it seems like more trouble and pain than it’s worth to start something tbat will automatically end no mattet how we feel at the time it ends.

    8. Casuan*

      Oy, you’re not being ridiculous. Actually you’re being quite practical to recognise that it’s something you need to sort through & not to jump in head first.

      It is much too soon. Make your decisions as you would if you hadn’t met this guy. Definitely don’t move in together, even if it is as a friend-thing.
      the factors at play:
      -You could be unwittingly idealising the relationship, in part because of the economics & your deadlines.
      -If this guy is a different nationality than you, be extra cautious about having the where-do-we-go conversation. There are cultural norms that aren’t always evident; if no one discusses them it’s probably because they’re ingrained norms- ie: it’s taken for granted that everyone knows them & it’s easy to forget that other cultures might not be aware of them.
      -If you’re both the same nationality in another country, your feelings could be because you’ve found a compatriot who like what you do yet he might not be ready for the conversation you want to have.

      re your lease:
      +1 to asking if it can be extended by the month, or even to sign for a shorter term; again, base this decision as you would have without the new relationship.

      Err on the side of caution. You have nothing to lose by waiting & much to lose if you act too soon. Try to enjoy this relationship for what it is now, not for what you think it might be in the future This will help you sort out if you really do like this guy enough & if he reciprocates your feelings.

    9. TL -*

      “He is fairly shy, so I doubt he will bring it up. I’m going with the assumption that if one of us is going to bring it up, it’ll have to be me.”

      The thing is, it’s only been two dates and you don’t know this about him – he could be really shy but very proactive about important conversations once he’s in a secure relationship. Or find it really easy to bring things up if they’re a specific level of importance.

      I know, even for people I like, I tend to come off as much more laid-back than I am in the first part of the relationship. In reality – that’s not me. I have zero chill. But in the early parts of a relationship (or friendship), I just don’t care enough to invest in conversations like that and it’s often read as me being more laid back/accepting than I actually am.

      1. Star Nursery*

        Agreed! And ‘shy’ doesn’t mean he wouldn’t bring up topics that are important to him!

        I think it sounds like you want reassurance that your relationship will last but at three dates you and he likely don’t know each other well enough to decide. I think you should decide on the lease without considering what might happen with him. And that doesn’t mean you have to stop seeing him if you don’t renew the lease either. In three more months you and he could have gotten to know each other better and decide to continue seeing other. He could decide to move to where you move. At this point it’s too early to know what could happen months from now. Take life a day at a time even when planning for the future.

    10. Triple Anon*

      It’s not either/or. You can bring up the topic without making it an inappropriately heavy conversation for the third date. Just tell him you really like him. Show him that you’re feeling something. In a separate conversation, not too close to that one, mention your living situation and how you’re trying to decide what to do. That leaves room for a follow up conversation, at a time of his choosing, about where this is headed – after he’s had time to think about it. So it’s a sort of back and forth / both people deciding the timing of the conversation sort of thing.

  18. Reba*

    Site question: Alison, I know you have a program to selected the “you may also like” posts, but do you choose the ones for the open threads? At random or do you remember great ones you want to highlight?

    I want to thank you for resurfacing the boy band fan site letter yesterday, and sometime recently the beautiful sentence “I’m frustrated by my office’s constant Nerf gun battles”!

    1. RestlessRenegade*

      The “you may also like” algorithm makes me chortle. A while back the post was about ghosts in the workplace, and one of the recommended posts was “I ghosted my ex,” haha.

      1. Cristina in England*

        I’m pretty sure they’re hand picked, aren’t they? I remember someone asked about that specific example but maybe I remembered the answer wrong.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It varies — the site will pick on its own if I don’t, but I can manually pick. I usually do it for the open thread, since otherwise it wants to pick the exact same three links for the open thread every time (since it’s based on content, and the content of that post never changes).

      1. Kelly*

        So how do you manually pick one? Do you just have a bunch of good ones saved somewhere? :)

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          For regular posts, I’ll search for key words from the post and see what’s related. For the open threads, though, I just pick stuff I liked from the past and want to re-surface. Mostly I go by memory for that.

    3. paul*

      I’m 5 sheets to the wind after a week from hell, and I want to say the nerf gun sentence make sme happy as I’ve been all week

  19. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    2 more months till the wedding—eeek/yay!!

    Pros of marriage less than 1 year after engagement: get planning done, efficient prioritizing

    Cons: cramming cake testing, coordination paperwork AND wedding rings into 1 weekend.

    At same time, volunteer org wanted help today and the dad invited us to his coworkers dinner. I cancelled on them all citing planning, but really—I just needed rest/decompressing/binge-watching, sleep.

    Anybody else do the same? I feel slightly guilty as a people-pleaser but I know if I were to say yes to all, I wouldn’t be rested or sane….

    1. Nashira*

      If you don’t care for yourself, how can you help others?

      Spoiler: you can’t, so taking care of yourself enables you to help others later on.

      1. Carmen Sandiego JD*

        Jewelry: tomorrow (mainly looking for a plain clumsiness-resistant (lol) band)…
        Coordination paperwork: today (electronic which means I can do crosswords/chill too)
        Cake: red velvet with delicious buttercream and distinctive sugar flowers….cake testing is definitely one of the more fun parts of this crazy process <:)

        1. hermit crab*

          Ooh, that cake sounds fab. Hubs and I had a pretty chill wedding (very little planning needed) and the one thing I regret is not doing any cake tasting! Our cake selection process was like “let’s call Person-We-Know-Who’s-A-Baker and ask if she can make her Cake-We-Know-We-Like on X date.” In retrospect, we should have at least asked her for a few options we could taste and choose from, that would have been fun.

          I hope you get some good relaxing in this weekend!

    2. PN*

      Meeeee! 3 months left until my wedding. I think I’m a little bit in denial. I’m so behind on a whole load of things some of my colleagues think I’m crazy.

      Please keep us updated!

  20. Would I Lie to You?*

    Anyone here a fan of the (British) panel show ‘Would I Lie To You?’?

    Basic premise is: two teams, three members each (the two team captains are regulars), during each round, one team member is presented with a card that has a ‘fact’ about them, and then the other team has to guess (via asking for more details etc.) whether that fact is the truth or a lie. The challenge is to make lies sound true and tell truths as if they’re lies.

    Not sure if that description is enough to convince you of how wildly /hilarious/ some of the episodes are – there are some guests who have done unbelievably ludicrous things, or had unbelievably ludicrous things happen to them. But beyond the actual content of the stories, the way they’re told (and the reaction from the rest of the contestants as well as the host) are a huge part of the humour as well.

    The team captains are comedians Lee Mack and David Mitchell, who in my opinion form one of the best rival/partnerships of any panel show. They’re both obviously intelligent and quick-witted, but their humour ‘styles’ differ in a way that actually balances and compliments one another. The host is Rob Brydon (also a comedian), and while he doesn’t get as into the quizzing/banter he’s a great addition to the show as well.

    Obviously the quality of each episode depends a large part on the quality of the guests, but most of the time it’s a hoot. There’s a compilation video on Youtube (link to follow) that selects some ‘classics’ if you’re interested in giving it a go.

    1. fposte*

      I *love* this show. It is the kind of thing as a child I thought grownup TV would be like all the time.

      It’s such a robust format that it can support the occasional dud guest panelist (athlete or musician, though some of them, like Gareth Malone, have been surprisingly good), and I love that there are returning guests who have their own show reputations, with of course Bob Mortimer being the prime example. I also love that after all these years (and I can’t believe I’ve been watching this show for ten years) subgenres have evolved–the practice of giving Lee stories everybody knows are BS just watch him try to sell them, for instance.

      Rob Brydon gave it all a very different vibe after the departure of Angus Deayton, which made me nervous, but I love that he seems keen to make things *more* chaotic. Special mention also has to go to the editing–they know when to let something like the Kevin Bridges horse story take up a disproportionate amount of time.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, and I actually now remember the colors of the Teletubbies based on Lee’s mnemonic device (with David’s enhancements), so it’s educational as well.

      2. Would I Lie to You?*

        I only started watching after Rob was already on board – the first episode I remember watching was the Kevin Bridges horse story, which I had to keep pausing because I was laughing so much I couldn’t breathe.

        Bob Mortimer (and Greg Davies to a certain extent) have crossed over the that area where they’d read out something completely ridiculous, but the others are like ‘well, it’s him, so that’s completely possible’. Bob’s /way/ of telling stories is a huge part of why he’s a favourite, like he’d say the name of someone (a cat named ‘Good Monson’) that could sound completely ‘normal’ from anyone else but when he says it you just crack up.

        1. fposte*

          I’ve only watched a ittle Vic and Bob stuff in YouTube clips, but after WILTY I kind of feel like what was surreal comedy to their audience was just autobiography to Bob.

          And yes, Greg Davies is another favorite. I do like, though, how every now and then it goes the other way, and nobody believes it because it’s Lee but it turns out to be true.

          From an American standpoint, what I like is the apparent low budget, lack of prizes, and fine good time people appear to be having (save for outliers like Janet Street-Porter, who really didn’t seem to understand where she was). I love humorous camaraderie–that’s one of the charms of The West Wing Weekly podcast for me, too–and the fact that a lot of these people know one another in a small-world kind of way probably enhances it. It’s kind of like a game in your living room with friends if your friends were really, really good at being funny.

      3. Sheep*

        I’ve started watching 8 out of 10 cats, which has much of the same cast. It’s good for bingeing when you are sick and bored!

        1. Incantanto*

          Sooo it sounds weird but 8 out of 10 cats does countdown is amazing and you should watch it.

      4. periwinkle*

        When I’m feeling down, sometimes I’ll watch the horse story. It’s so gloriously surreal – the story itself, the reaction of Kevin’s teammates, David’s increasingly manic interrogation, Rob’s increasingly desperate attempts to advance the story… it’s a thing of beauty.

    2. Rookie Manager*

      I was a latecomer to this. Thought I was over panel shows… but it can be hilarious, as mentioned Bob Mortimer is always brilliant. They all often have me snorting with laughter.

    3. Elkay*

      I think James Acaster and Bob Mortimer are the best guests.

      Do you listen to The Unbelievable Truth that David Mitchell hosts on Radio 4? It’s similar in the way that you have to spot truths among lies.

      1. fposte*

        The James Acaster cabbage story was definitely a series high point! And yes, I really like The Unbelievable Truth as well.

        1. Elkay*

          I just read his book which includes the cabbage story. Apparently he told it on Josh Widdecombe’s radio show when it was happening and got cabbaged by loads of people!

      2. Middle School Teacher*

        I prefer The Unbelievable Truth to WILTY. I think I just prefer the format. Although I have to say that cabbage story kills me every time I hear it.

        1. Serious Sam*

          The most memorable episode of The Unbelievable Truth, was when there was an all-female cast of guests, including David Mitchell’s wife Victoria. One guest commented that the dynamic was that of a school-master with an unruly class of girls. Another panelist pointed out that in this case they _knew_ one of them was sleeping with the schoolmaster.

          1. Middle School Teacher*

            Ah yes! I remember that episode!

            I think for me it was Richard Osman talking about octopuses (or octopodes, as he pointed out). His little poems were a delight. “While swimming off the coast of Rhodes, I spied a shoal of octopodes.”

    4. HannahS*

      I adore it! The dynamic is fantastically hilarious. My favourite guest has got to be Claudia Winkleman.

    5. KayEss*

      My husband is a huge fan! I don’t like watching things I have to actually pay attention to, so he just shows me the best bits… there was one he watched a while back where the guest was trying to convince everyone that she was afraid of rainbows. I actually went back to him after because I had to know if that was a lie or not. (It was, sadly. But she was quite convincing about it.)

      He used to be a big fan of “Never Mind the Buzzcocks,” too, before it ended. Lately he’s also been watching “What’s My Line?” which was an American panel quiz/comedy show in the 1960s where the panelists ask questions of the guest to try to figure out what their line of work is… with jobs ranging from mailman to cow washer(?) to operator of a carnival skirt-blower machine(???).

    6. arjumand*

      Kevin Bridges: horse story
      Lee Mack: This is Steve, and while we were camping in the Scouts our tent was stolen.
      Anything with David Mitchell, but my favourite is the bucket story (also anytime David goes into one of his ‘genteel rage rants’ is magic).

      These are the things I watch when I need cheering up.

  21. Jess R.*

    I’m having some complicated feelings about my body these days, so! This is a thread to share things you like about your body — how it looks, what it can do, weird birthmarks, cool scars, anything!

    1. Emilie*

      I’m experiencing the first sign of wrinkles, and I am proud to say that they are obviously smile wrinkles! I’ve smiled and laughed enough for it to show on my face, and I think that is a good sign that I surround myself with the right kind of people for me. As long as your body shows signs of the life you have chosen (a bit of a belly, from all the delicious meals you shared with your family, wrinkles from all the laughs you’ve had with friends, or stretchmarks from when you grew an actual proper human being!), I think they should serve as good reminders when you look in the mirror :)

      1. Nic*

        My first wrinkles are smile lines, too! It makes me so happy! A few years ago I’m pretty sure that would *not* have been the case.

    2. Turtlewings*

      I am very much in the same boat, so this will probably be good for me.

      (1) I really like my hair these days. It took forever to grow it out, but it feels much more ‘me’ and I really like the look of it long.

      (2) Cool scars: My appendectomy scar is something of a family legend because it shies away from touch. If anyone tries to touch it, I tense my stomach and it shrinks back, much more so than the skin around it. Very weird and amusing.

      (3) I have chubby little hands and they look a lot like my late grandmother’s hands and I honestly love that. I don’t otherwise resemble her whatsoever but I have Mawmaw’s hands.

      (4) Birthmarks: This one’s a little weird but me and all my siblings have the same birthmark at the base of our skulls. I read somewhere that some cultures believe a birthmark indicates how you died in a past life, and we were joking that the whole family must have been lined up and shot, Mafia-style. And then I remembered that they found the bones of the Romanov children (4 girls, 1 youngest boy, just like us) and they had all been shot in the back of the head. So… yeah, we might be the reincarnated Romanovs. o_O

    3. RestlessRenegade*

      I am slowly losing weight, and liking the way it looks/feels, but I am also trying not to base how I value myself on my appearance, so it’s a hard line to walk for me.

      1. Emilie*

        Does your weightloss make it so that your body can do more things, than before (running further, knees not hurting any more, being strounger, etc.)? Maybe you could use these things instead of just your apperance, since being healthier and more able is pretty much universally awesome!

        1. RestlessRenegade*

          That is a really good point! I have been so focused on my appearance for so long that I forget the other important things my body can do. Thank you.

    4. Little Bean*

      I am in my mid-thirties and my metabolism is changing and I’m realizing that I can’t treat it the way I always have in the past. I used to eat whatever I want and only workout when I felt like it and it was fine. Now, that attitude toward health means I have a little belly. It doesn’t actually bother me that much but it does make a lot of the clothes I own look very unflattering – so I have a closet half full of things I don’t wear, but that I don’t want to get rid of cause I would want to wear them if I just lost a few pounds. The hard part is that my weight overall is not high, it’s just that it seems hard to get rid of the fat in just that one place without a lot of work…

      1. Middle School Teacher*

        I’m right there with you. I’m 38 and discovering the weight doesn’t magically disappear like it did when I was 28.

      2. Cristina in England*

        Ugh, same, and I haven’t lost the baby weight from my two year old. I want to lose it in a healthy way without triggering unhealthy eating habits from the past. My plan is to start exercising again when my 2yo starts preschool in September. That will mark about 5.5 years since I gave up my running routine when I was 13 weeks pregnant with my first.

      3. hermit crab*

        Oh, I’m in the same boat and have been thinking about this a lot lately. I just this week decided that I want to get some new clothes instead of trying to lose the weight I’ve gained over the past couple of years. I actually feel great and am healthy as the proverbial horse, but I also feel like I should be fighting harder against “letting myself go” which, ugh, is a gross thing to be feeling.

        On the other hand, I am legitimately psyched about my new gray hairs. I love them and I can’t wait until they are more visible! It’s weird, but I feel like they make me take myself more seriously.

      4. Jules the First*

        We were just talking about this on Friday over coffee…how when we were in our twenties, all our 30-something friends always seemed to be going to the gym or coming from the gym or trying to squeeze in an extra workout or fasting today or watching their weight and we thought they were being precious and obsessing over it because we did none of that and we were fine. And our friends would say “just wait – this will happen to you too!” And we’d laugh and not believe them…

        And now we are the 30-somethings working too hard to be as slender and fit as we were effortlessly in our 20s, marvelling over how much more work it takes to stay the same weight and slowly coming to terms with our rounded bellies and age-related hangovers…

    5. Felicia*

      I really like the color of my eyes and how they look simultaneously blue, green and grey.

      I like how my body is learning how to bellydance which I never thought it could do.

      My boobs are pretty good!

    6. Reba*

      I have a bony chest. No matter what weight I am, you can always see the sternum and some rib. I remember when I was around 22 or so having a chat with my mom about clothes, specifically V-necks (so flattering on nearly anyone!) and she said something about the bony chest and I kind of cut her off to say, “Mom, I actually *like* it how it is!” And I realized that was true.

      I have some decent scars on my arms from the wood shop during my art student days, which I like. I also have some small flat scars from mole removals (which always make me sad, I know they’re growing wrong, but there was one right next to my belly button that was cute! Alas.)

      My finger joints are nubbly from RA–one pinky is particularly special–but I like how they look overall and they still work well. I still type and play piano with them (move it or lose it).

      I’ve gotten back into ballet and yoga recently and I love the way they get me to hold my shoulders with my arms “plugged in” to my back. Feels great and I think my shoulders look nice, too :)

    7. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I’ve surprised myself on the job I’m currently working on by being one of the best shovellers on site. A year or two ago I was actually crying in the bathroom at break because it was too hard. So, yay arms!

    8. Red*

      I like my blue eyes, I like my curly red hair, I like my tattoos, I like my long legs, and I really like my boobs (they just got larger with a change in birth control). I also have a scar on my face that I rather enjoy the look of.

      1. Opulent Octopus*

        If not for the legs I’d have thought I wrote this! :) I love my facial scar, but everyone I’ve told that to thinks I’m a weirdo.

    9. Middle School Teacher*

      I love my hair. I work hard to take care of it and I visit the salon every eight weeks. I also used to be a hair model so I’m a bit vain about it.

      However, I gained about 5 lbs over this past winter. I’m only 5’2” so it’s pretty obvious. The winter here has been so cold and snowy that exercising has been challenging. I’m so so ready for spring because I feel bad about my tummy :(

      1. Overeducated*

        Me too to your last paragraph! I’ve also been sick so much this winter that exercising was an extra thing I couldn’t bring myself to do. I am so looking forward to being able to bike to work more as it warms up.

        As for things I like about my body, I guess I just like that it’s my way of getting through the world. I like eating, seeing, walking, and so on.

        1. Middle School Teacher*

          Whatever plagues were going around this winter, I caught them all! It made motivating myself to even just go to yoga really tough. I’m going to Europe in three weeks and I’ll be doing a lot of walking so I’m hoping that’ll jump start my exercise engine again.

    10. Parenthetically*

      I LOVE my thighs. They are thick and strong and jiggly. They’re wonderful. I also have a really pretty birthmark on my left cheek that I’ve always loved. When I was about 14 someone “helpfully” suggested I could have it removed and I was SO OFFENDED. Like… no? I love it? Thank you?

      1. Marillenbaum*

        Speaking of thighs (it sounds like mine are like yours), have you heard the Miss Eaves song “Thunder Thighs”? It has a delightful music video, and I love how it celebrates a part of my body it took me a long time to love.

    11. Cristina in England*

      I have a coffee-stain birthmark on my left shin. It’s a 3 inch long, 1.5 inch wide oval. I forget about it sometimes because I don’t wear short things very often. There is a chicken pox scar just next to it, but that’s the only noticeable scar I have so I feel like my left shin gets all the excitement and nothing interesting is happening anywhere else.

    12. Marillenbaum*

      I have my first gray hair–I’ve named her Lucille. I have a tattoo on my left collarbone that makes me smile every time I see it (in part because my mom HATES it but tries to be supportive). I can pop my arms out of their sockets at will, and I’ve always been pretty flexible.

    13. Temporarily Anonymous*

      This may be an atypical one:
      I really like my body hair -particularly my leg hair- especially when I let it grow out to its full length (it’s very thick and long compared to many women). It gets really soft to touch and then if I walk around with bare legs* I can feel it move in the breeze. It kind of feels like I gain an extra sensory ability like having antennae or whiskers, lol.

      *Since there is still such ridiculous societal judgement of women’s natural bodies I’m not comfortable doing this in public (I don’t have the emotional bandwidth at this point in my life to deal with all the mean comments and judgey looks), so sadly I only get to enjoy my leg fur in winter at home.

      Also I really like my eyes which are hazel but not really if you look closely. Actually the irises have a dark charcoal grey ring around the edge, then moss green, and then a multi-pointed star shape surrounding the pupil that is reddish-brown (almost exactly the burnt sienna oil paint colour). They look different colours on different days depending on lighting and what I wear.

      I love that my legs are strong and have stamina even though I don’t have a particularly muscular or athletic body type.

      1. anonymous for this too*

        Me too on the leg hair. I grow it out every winter, and it’s like a little forest. But I love wearing skirts and can’t deal with the judgment, so I’ll wax it all in a month or so.

    14. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

      I have a mole at the bottom of my neck (and have had it since I was born without it changing and it’s been checked by a dermatologist and it’s totally fine) that I really like for some reason.

    15. Dr. KMnO4*

      I love my short haircut. I love my green eyes and slightly tanned skin (I don’t visit tanning salons, it’s just naturally tan). I love that I can pick up things with my toes. I love that I can wiggle my right ear. Even though it stems from an old injury (a softball between my ring finger and pinky) I love that I can spread the fingers of my left hand very wide because it helps me play the double bass.

    16. The New Wanderer*

      I really like my skin. I rarely get blemishes (yay genetics!).
      I like that I can jog about three miles at a time, since there was a long period of time where I was very out of shape (no reason, just lazy). I like that I have great balance and can do most yoga poses well, barring the ones involving hamstrings or arching my back.
      My favorite feature is my green eyes, and it makes me happy that my kids desperately want to have the same eye color as me (one almost does, the other might someday) even though their eyes are beautiful as they are. Second favorite is my hair. It can be a love hate thing, but on a good hair day I feel so confident.

    17. Elizabeth West*

      I love my hair. It’s getting very long, and I love being blonde. Sometimes I think wistfully of going back to auburn, but then I remember how annoying it was to touch up every two weeks, and that feeling goes away, LOL. I might try a bronde with highlights at some point. But I absolutely refuse to cut it just because I’m older. Eff that. If I live that long, Ima be the old lady with long-ass hair.

      That’s about it right now. I gained back some of the weight I lost, when the weather was too wet/cold to walk, and I’m not super happy about it.

    18. SAHM*

      Well, I just hit 34 weeks pregnant so right now I’m kinda impressed with my belly. Also, that I need to be a bit more careful about parking too close to other cars/things bc I can no longer squeeze out of my car as efficiently.
      Cool scars? I have one on my pinky from hopping a barbed wire fence when I was a kid. I have one on my wrist from sliding down a hill on a large piece of cardboard as a kid and got a stick up my arm.
      And of course my stretch marks which I call “war wounds” to my kids. Lol.

    19. Lady Jay*

      I also have very mixed feelings about my body. I carry more weight on my belly than women of a similar size/height/shape, which is frustrating to me, but women in my family have always carried our weight there. Still, I hate feeling that cold belt buckle press into my belly, especially since I’ve gained a little weight in the last year or so.

      On the other hand, the weight gain means I have nicer arms. :)

      On the other

    20. anonagain*

      The whole being alive thing is a pretty big one for me.

      That, and my tolerance for spicy food.

    21. paul*


      I’ve got damn strong shoulders; my OHP hovers around 230 which isn’t bad.

      I’ve got a high pain threshold.

      I think my face is more or less handsome, barring some scars.


      My joints suck. My knees and hips and shoulders hurt pretty much all the time.

      I’ve got a ton of scars: my belly, my arms, some on my face. Some on my legs. I carved “hate me” into my thighs at one point; that’s never going to fade. My kids have already noticed some of them.

      I tend towards fat, absurdly so (staying under 300 is work).

      My eye sight sucks.

      1. TL -*

        I have finally admitted my high pain threshold is veering into the dangerous side – I am not taking care of things in a timely enough manner because things that should be extremely painful are coming off as mildly unpleasant.

    22. Betsy*

      I build muscle very easily. I just started back at the gym and yoga and haven’t been back to that many sessions at all yet, but can see my muscles developing again already. Some yoga positions require a lot of strength (as opposed to those that mostly require a lot of flexibility) and I can go into those positions confidently.

    23. Claire (Scotland)*

      I like my hair. I like my smooth skin. I like the curves of my boobs to waist to hips, and the curves of my legs. I like my blue eyes and how they look grey at times. I like how strong my arms are. I like that my body can walk for miles. I like the way my nails look when I paint them. I like the tiny scar at my hairline, and the bigger one on my knee, that I got falling off my BMX as a kid. I like my long eyelashes.

    24. Nic*

      My wrists remind me of my mom. A LOT. It sounds strange to say that, but it’s true. I look at my hands and it’s her wrists they’re attached to. It makes me really happy knowing we have that connection.

      I have a scar on my shoulder from getting my only birthmark taken off. I was sad when it happened, but it was changing shape and we needed to check it for cancer. The scar looks like a small round hole, and we call it my bullet wound now.

    25. Molly*

      My back is slightly more s-shaped than most people so my stomach and behind juts more out than usual and there’s a small “resting place” on my lower back. I love resting my wrists there when I’m in the shower enjoying the warmth. It reminds me of a cat’s hips, just being soft and warm and content.

      My eyes look green when I’m wearing green colours, blue with blue and grey with grey. It’s cool but I always have trouble discerning their real colour because it is just a lot of dark colours save brown.

    26. extra anon for this*

      I’ve started taking actual material steps towards transitioning and for the first time in my life I actually like parts of my body. For so long I thought there was something fundamentally broken about me because I couldn’t understand why anybody would feel anything other than mild distaste towards having a body, but I’m discovering that I actually LIKE being in here.

      1. Natalie*

        That is so awesome for you! May your physical transition process continue to be fulfilling and affirming. :)

    27. J.B.*

      I am stronger than I have ever been and have a belly. I don’t love the belly but feel really healthy and happy overall.

  22. Emilie*

    I have a personal problem, that I’d like som input on. It’s not ruining my life, but it has me speculating quite a bit.

    I’m a European university student in my mid twenties, in a friend group of people between 20 and 30 (it’s pretty common to be a bit older at university where I live, than the average American college student). One of these people is my boyfriend of two years, whom I live with. We know each other very well among the group of friends, and it’s not uncommon to show physical affection towards each other (hugs, a kiss on the cheek, a shoulder massage if someone asks for one, etc.).

    We were all at a party at the university last night, and I was talking to one of the others, Peter, who was pretty drunk (which I wasn’t). Suddenly, pretty much out of left field, he said something along the lines of “… And sometimes I don’t understand why Matthew is your boyfriend. I mean, sometimes I think that I should be your boyfriend”. I had no idea how to respond, and resorted to joking about how one of the others, Jenna, also wanted to move in with me, since she thought I was such a good cook, and then changed the subject to something completely unrelated.

    The thing is… I’m pretty sure he meant it. It puts things he has said and done in the past (things I interpreted as just being extra caring), in a pretty different light, and I have no idea how to proceed from here. He’s a great friend, but I have no interest in him romantically.

    He’s a lot closer with my boyfriend than with me, and I’m not sure what to do now.

    Do I talk to my boyfriend about it? He would be very understanding, I’m sure, but I’d like to offer up a solution as to what “to do”, if I involve him (I don’t want him to be feeling unnecessarily akward about things).

    Do I talk to Peter about it? I’m afraid that he’ll just pass it off as a drunken joke gone wrong, or maybe embarrassing him.

    Do I just leave it, and try to keep a bit of distance?

    I’m not really uncomfortable about the whole thing, but I’d like to set up som boundaries that makes it clear, that I have no interest in being anything else than friends, to avoid this potentially blowing up. I don’t initiate the hugs/kisses on cheeks/etc., and never have, but I feel like I have to find a way to withdraw from it when Peter initiates it, since it just feels like leading him on in a way.

    Any good ideas?

    1. Anona*

      Since you didn’t do it in the moment, next time you see Peter (or even by text), I’d say something along the lines of “I’m not sure if you were joking the other night when you said you wanted to be my boyfriend, but I have no interest in being anything other than friends.”

      I’d be really clear and direct. It’s kinder that way. If he keeps pushing boundaries after that, i’d limit contact.

      Regarding telling your boyfriend, I’d tell him, but let him know that you’re handling it, and are telling him for transparency’s sake.

      1. Anona*

        And he may feel awkward- but if he says stuff like that, he already created the awkward situation!

      2. Emilie*

        I’m sorry if it came off a bit messy, but the one I’d spare the akwardness is my boyfriend – not Peter (I very much agree, that he himself created the akwardness!). English is my second language, so sometimes I’m not as clear as I could be.

        I’ve tried to convince myself that I wouldn’t have to talk to him, but I guess you’re right about being clear and direct being the kindest way. And I do want to be as kind about it as the situation let’s me.

        1. neverjaunty*

          It’s already awkward thanks to Mr. Drinky there. Clarity and kindness is the best way to hand it back.

    2. WellRed*

      Frankly, I would leave it. He was pretty drunk and while I agree it was probably truthful, I don’t see what good could come from talking to him or telling your boyfriend. I mean, if you did either, what outcome would you be looking for?

    3. StudentA*

      I am not sure what good could come out of bringing it up. He was drunk. He may not even remember it. Even if he has some affection towards you, he has had the sense to keep it to himself. It might potentially be very humiliating and awkward to bring it up – and again, I don’t see how that would help things.

      Let sleeping dogs lie. He knows you’re unavailable. If he ever does bring it up in a straightforward way, then you can address it.

    4. Reba*

      I don’t think there’s anything to do, necessarily.

      I firmly do not think that being a friend and acting in normal friendly ways is leading anyone on. Withdraw or cool the friendship if that feels better *to you*–don’t try to manage his feelings (that he hasn’t even presented to you sober!).

      1. Lissa*

        Yup, this would be my opinion too! How do *you* feel about it? Does he make you uncomfortable in small ways? Then I think it’s totally reasonable to pull back and loop in your boyfriend. Or do you think it was a joke that landed wrong because there was drunken truth to it, but he’s normally fine? If so then I think it’s also reasonable to keep being his friend and act like it never happened. Don’t worry about leading him on or anything like that, if he has a crush he *knows* it isn’t going anywhere and it’s on him to manage.

        I don’t see any good about confronting him about it or telling him nothing will ever happen. He’d probably just say he doesn’t remember or that it was a joke anyway. I would keep an eye out for any escalating weird comments though.

        1. Emilie*

          It has happened once or twice that he’s made me uncomfortable by something he has done. These are things that I’ve just sort of excused it as accidents or misunderstandings, but in the light of his recent drunken confession, were clearly not things that happened accidentally. But on a day to day basis he has always acted in a way, that I would expect from any friend in this specific friendgroup.

          But it feels like I’ve been let in on a secret, that I wasn’t supposed to know about. And I think it’ll naturally lead me to keep a bit of distance (both physically and emotionally). Honestly, I wish he would have just kept his mouth shut, so I wouldn’t have to think all these thoughts about this. But on the other hand I don’t want to shame him for the way he’s feeling, since people can’t exactly control this sort of thing.

          I think keeping an eye out for escalating weirdness is probably a good idea. And I guess I can be pretty straight forward about the boundaries of our friendship, without directly confronting him.

          It has been really nice getting some input from other people. Having a bit of help in sorting through how I actually feel about all of this have helped me out quite a bit!

  23. Anon for this*

    Any other asexual people here that could help me out?

    I’m a 36 year old woman who has identified as asexual for around 6 years now. I’ve only been in 3 romantic relationships (partly due to lack of interest throughout my 20’s), and none of these relationships lasted more than about 18 months. I’ve always had a great deal of difficulty in communicating my needs as an asexual in a relationship (none of the guys I dated were asexual), and also none of them were particularly a good match for me in other ways. Be that as it may, I’m feeling rather disheartened by the whole world of dating right now.

    Any advice on how I can find someone better suited to my needs? I’ve had no luck when I’ve looked for an asexual partner locally – I’ve tried asexual meetups for my area, online dating sites for asexuals (these have very little activity, so basically useless), and changing my orientation to asexual on OKCupid. I realize that only 1 to 3 percent of the population identifies as asexual, so the pool is quite small – but then whenever I try dating other people we can’t seem to get past the major problem of “I really don’t want to have sex or fool around with you, ever – no it’s not your fault, it’s just how I am.”

    My other problem is that I’m used to be alone, and I’m quite introverted. Every time I’m in a relationship I eventually feel like I’m not getting enough time to myself, and it’s almost a relief when we eventually break up. But then after a while I start to feel lonely again. So I honestly don’t know if I even want to be in a relationship or not.

    I realize that it’s possible to be single and be happy, and honestly I have a pretty good life. But this is something that I keep struggling with, and I’d appreciate some feedback.

    1. KatieKate*

      Fellow asexual here. No advice because I haven’t figure it out yet, but hopefully we can get some advice~

    2. Canadian Natasha*

      Another fellow asexual here. Sorry I also don’t have any advice, just sympathy. (I’m aromantic as well as asexual so not in the least bit interested in those kinds of relationships)

    3. Also anon for this*

      I’m not asexual but from the definitions, I probably fall between “very low sex drive” and “demisexual,” meaning most of the time I’m not interested in intimacy but I can be in certain circumstances. Most of my relationships had been with guys on the lower end of the drive, and even that was challenging. Moreso because I didn’t have the words, or the courage, to say that I liked them a lot but I’m not interested in more physical stuff and would be even happier with less.

      By complete coincidence (meaning, we never really talked/talk about it), I found someone exactly like me via online dating (match). Because we didn’t talk about it, it led to some conflicting expectations but over the years we’ve settled into a pattern that works for us. Actually it was that whole process that made me realize what was going on: neither of us has a “problem” or lack of interest in the other specifically, we’re just fundamentally low on the scale in general.

      Honestly I’m not sure there is a good solution. If it hadn’t worked out with my now-husband, I’d probably be skimming the dating sites and going to more group activities like meetups or hobby classes. I wish there was a site for best friend-matching, not just dating.

    4. Alex*

      Fellow asexual here, with no great advice.

      I’ve honestly never met another asexual person in person. It’s very lonely. I’m still figuring it all out too, and I’m also 36.

      You’re probably way ahead of me. I’ve never even dated anyone, ever. There’s almost no one I’d like to date and usually I’m 100% cool with not having a partner.

      But occasionally, there will be someone that comes into my life that I totally fall for. But I feel that they are off limits, because OF COURSE they will want to have sex, and OF COURSE I don’t. (There’s someone in my life like this right now, and it’s so tough!)

      But the likelihood of someone who is also asexual being a person I fall for is SO statistically small that it feels like it can never happen. It’s hard.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      This doesn’t sound like an orientation related quandary. It sounds more like “I want to be alone and I don’t want to be alone” quandary. I am picking up on “it’s almost a relief when we eventually break up”. Perhaps you would like companionship/friendships over dating? These types of relationships could work into having a friend or two that you can call when your car breaks down or go have dinner with once in a while, etc. Maybe that is more what you are looking for at the moment? Maybe you’d like to take some down time from dating?

      OTH, you could think about the times you have dated and what you were looking for when you started seeing each other.

    6. AceAnon*

      Yet another introverted asexual here. I was in my mid-40s before asexuality even started to be considered as something other than a mental illness. I don’t have any immediate advice. All I know is that as I became older, the lack of a partner mattered less and less. (Yet, I’m a sucker for rom coms, go figure.) Friends, and group activities are all I want or need now.
      Wishing you well.

    7. Flowers r cool*

      Another fellow asexual here, no advice, but you have my sympathy.

      It’s hard to be frank about my sexuality even to friends let alone romantic partners, so you are a little ahead of me.

    8. Jules the First*

      Can I just say how lovely it is to know that there’s, like, half a dozen other people here who feel the same way about this?

      It’s so very rare that we meet each other spontaneously, but it’s nice to know y’all are out there…

      (I wish I had solutions to the dating-but-not-dating thing but I don’t…I kind of just fall into the “not dating” category)

    9. AnonGirlNow*

      I am on the graysexual spectrum. I wish I had an answer to your question. I have had different amounts of luck with different partners. All that has worked for me relatively well is honesty. I would love to read, maybe on a thread next weekend, how you all have had come to terms with being a/demi as it’s been a struggle for me.

      1. Alex*

        I think it is probably a struggle for most of us. I’m still not quite sure where I am with it.

        I think that I may actually be asexual/demiromantic/same-sex oriented. It’s been a long journey to get to this realization and has meant I have not ever dated anyone. At 36 years old, finding another asexual/demiromantic/same-sex person I’m into who is also into me seems like a needle in a haystack. I don’t even know where to look. Major introversion makes it all the harder. I have a hard time even making regular friends, let alone…whatever it is I’m looking for!

        But I think one of the hardest parts, as is kind of demonstrated in this thread, is that I feel so invisible. It’s not like you can “come out” in any easy way without getting into some VERY personal stuff. Most people don’t even know what ace/demi/gray even is. And a lot of the time, when I am explicit with people, they don’t even believe me. “Oh, you’re just gay and don’t want to REALLY come out,” or “You’ll come around,” is more common than anything else. It’s really hurtful, especially when this stuff comes from people you think of as friends.

    10. Emily*

      I honestly don’t know (I’m on the ace spectrum, but will do some sex stuff sometimes and have reached a sometimes-frustrating middle ground with my non-ace boyfriend of many years), but I hear you and sympathize. If I ever break up with my partner, I’m not sure how I’ll approach a new relationship. I could be wrong, but I kind of assume that for most people, the lack of sex isn’t gonna be worth it for someone they’re not that invested in yet? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      As to the being alone part of your question, maybe you could cultivate a slightly more active social life, work to deepen some of your friendships, or pursue a hobby that puts you around other people? There might be ways to alleviate some of your loneliness without entering into a romantic relationship.

  24. Super Duper Anon*

    Going Super Duper Anonymous for this: hemorrhoids. I’ve had them for about a week now (hard to tell how many, but it feels like at least two). I’m using Prep H and some prescription hydrocortisone that was prescribed by my doc for another reason. It seems like topical solutions basically help the symptoms but don’t actually treat the hemorrhoids themselves, and that I’m just supposed to wait for them to disappear. Is that so, and how long should I expect to have them? Or is there something else I can be doing to get rid of these? The topical solutions help with the itching and uncomfortableness to a large degree, but I can’t help but think there’s something else other than WAIT to help them along their merry way.

    1. Anona*

      Tucks pads are awesome. I have them in a canister, but they’re probably sold other ways too. They have witch hazel and i’ve found they’re both good for relief, and if you use them as kind of something you hold/keep on the hemorrhoid (for a few minutes, either after a bowel movement or after getting out of the shower)it seems to help with the swelling.

    2. Also Anon*

      Have you actually gone to the doctor and been checked out? Sometimes what feels likes hemorrhoids can be something else, like a thrombosis. The treatments aren’t exactly the same. I know it’s embarrassing, but it’s better to really know what you’re dealing with.

      1. Super Duper Anon*

        That’s good to know. No, I haven’t been to a doctor yet. This is my first experience with this, so I guess I’d prefer to try over the counter treatments first to see if that works. I pay 100% out of pocket when I visit my doctor until I hit my deductible, so I’d like to try a few things and see if they work before going in to the doc — but that said, I’ll certain do it if things don’t clear up in a few weeks.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          If they’re chronically thrombosed, they may have to be removed. What helped me was adding more fiber to my diet and making sure I drank enough water to move things along; straining while on the toilet can male them worse.

          I had both external and internal ones removed and it was not fun, especially the internal. So I’m very motivated to make sure they don’t return to that level again.

    3. Anonymous_Advice*

      I have had hydrocortisone suppositories prescribed to me in the past for this purpose, after having a physical exam conducted by a medical professional. It does help somewhat; though mine have been a recurrent problem for so long that my Dr. advised me to consider surgical banding at some point in the future.

    4. Anonroids*

      WATER. Drink TONS of it. And lavender essential oil diluted in coconut oil.

      Signed, a lady who has been pregnant, thanks kid. ;)

      1. Super Duper Anon*

        Can I ask what I’m supposed to do with the lavender oil diluted in coconut oil? I have both. Do I apply topically, sniff it, something else?

    5. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Do you have any reason to think the hemorrhoids could be caused by liver disease? Are you obese? Hep C positive? Excessive alcohol intake? If so, I would see your doc.

      If chronic constipation or prolonged sitting are your issues, work in fiber/stool softeners and exercise like walking.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        If constipation is a problem, organic apple juice NOT from concentrate works like you would not believe. (I am referring to drinking the juice, if that was not apparent here.) You can cut it in half with water if you want to stretch your money, you will still have the same results.

      2. Super Duper Anon*

        Thankfully, none of those. Not overweight, no hep C, and in recovery so stopped drinking several years ago. I *have* had constipation that seemed to come on during two rounds of antibiotics (finished those about 10 days ago) so I think that could be part of it. Pooping is returning to normal but the hemorrhoids could def be leftover from the constipation that turned up while I was on antibiotics.

        1. AnonTOOCauseYIKES*

          Antibiotics also caused this for me a few months ago.

          It took me quite a long time to get rid of it even after the constipation was gone (about three months before it stopped flaring up altogether, although in between that time there were some days when it was OK). Sorry you’re going through it! Witch hazel was my friend.

    6. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Also warm (not hot) baths can provide some relief. I basically did just what your doing, plus the wipes some else mentioned. It took about 2 weeks in my case, but it did start to feel better after a week or so.

    7. Ron McDon*

      I’ve had haemorrhoids a couple of times over the years.

      The Anusol/Preparation H type creams help with the discomfort/ache, but I’ve usually found they just shrink gradually with no further intervention. It usually takes a couple of weeks, I think? If they get really painful, much larger, or don’t start going down after about a fortnight, I would see your doctor.

      They’re usually a sign that I need to drink more water, or that I’ve been a bit run-down and unwell.

    8. Odelie*

      Sitz baths are good. This is what I do. Otherwise as others have said (wrote?), tuck pads, preparation H wipes, and getting up, moving around.

    9. Elizabeth H.*

      You really do just have to wait. They will go away!
      This is my favorite pro tip: get a bunch of cotton pads (like for removing nail polish or makeup), a bottle of witch hazel, and some kind of container (like a tupperware or something). Put the cotton pads in bottom of container, soak in witch hazel, put a piece of tin foil over, repeat with new cotton pads etc. until you have a couple layers of witch-hazel soaked cotton pads. Then freeze! After frozen, put a couple in your underwear over affected area and sit on an ice pack or bag of frozen vegetables (on top of a towel or something probably). Repeat. After frozen you can just wrap the cotton pads in tin foil and keep in your freezer for a flare up. You could also do this with your underwear itself or a washcloth or something but I like the disposable nature of cotton pads!

  25. going anon I guess*

    I’ve been really annoyed lately at how many events are financially geared towards couples and then charge a higher price or an extra fee for a single ticket. I wanted to buy tickets for an exclusive event and the tickets were $100 total for a couple, but $125 for a single ticket.

    And don’t even get me started on how international travel deals charge exorbitant fees if you want to travel solo. Most of the travel sites out there have great deals….but only if you’re book a room with someone. So, if you want a 9 day trip to Europe, each of you pays $1500, but if you’re traveling solo it’s $1,500 + at least $500 (sometimes it’s as much as 50-75% of the base price as a solo fee). And NONE of these travel groups I’ve encountered will match up solo travelers to share rooms. They just charge you a ridiculously high fee. I can’t find any solo traveling groups that AREN’T single/dating groups as well, which also really sucks because I just want the benefit of buying a solo ticket without having to join a dating group or be charged 50% of the ticket price as a “solo fee”.

    It’s sucks and I’m annoyed and tired of feeling like I’m being punished because I don’t have (or want) anyone in my life to share these things with. I already feel like society punishes single people, but this is pretty much the last straw for me.

    1. going anon I guess*

      oops, there was no reason to go anon for this, but I didn’t realize that the last time I posted, I was apparently anon. Guess I’ll stick with the anon handle for this post lol

    2. Fiennes*

      I HATE that. Like, how are you losing money on the hotel room if there’s one person in it instead of 2? I was single for a long time, and am now partnered with someone who doesn’t like to travel as much as I do, and it’s pricing like this that has discouraged me from using any kinds of tours or packages. Solo travelers get the best deal doing their own planning.

      1. going anon I guess*

        Right??? It’s so annoying!

        I’ve given up on a lot of international travel because planning it myself is way more expensive than some of these tours, but I also hate that they’re charging $500+ solo fees. I wouldn’t even mind sharing a room with a stranger if it meant no solo fee, but that’s never an option.

      2. Colette*

        Well, the hotel room is an issue – if it costs $100, that’s $50 each for 2 people but one person has to pay the whole thing. (And most hotel rooms are more than that). I mean, I agree it’s annoying to pay more as a single person but hotel rooms are the one place it makes sense.

        1. Lily Evans*

          There are some hotels, though, where they have separate prices for the same room, depending on how many people are staying in it, but it’s not a flat per-person fee. Like if a solo traveler is staying in a double room it’s $150, but if two people are staying in the room it’s $200. So the solo traveler is still paying more, assuming the pair is splitting the cost.

          1. Cristina in England*

            Yeah I never came across that until I moved to the UK. I don’t like the PP (per person) charges at all. Either the room is occupied or not! It would make more sense for B&Bs to just charge separately for breakfast, if that’s what it’s about.

            1. Lily Evans*

              The only reasoning I could come up with is that a second person might use slightly more electricity/water, but I can’t imagine it would be all that much of a difference.

              1. Cristina in England*

                It doesn’t add up, even if you include a full English breakfast on top of your electricity, water, and towels. Unless they’re counting on people using the hotel bar? I must not be the target guest if that’s the thinking though because I have never had drinks in a hotel bar that weren’t free with a voucher.

          2. Thlayli*

            The hotel is getting less though, so they are actually giving a discount to the solo traveller. If they jut had a flat rate for the room a solo traveller would have to pay twice as much as each member of a couple.

    3. WellRed*

      My pet peeve is cell phone plans. Get an additional 5 lines for $10 each! I don’t want 5 more lines, I want a less expensive monthly plan for little old me and my single line.

    4. Anna*

      I don’t understand – it’s actually cheaper in total to book for two? (The $100 vs $125 tickets). Not just cheaper per person? If that’s the case what’s stopping people just booking for two and then say ‘oops the other person couldn’t come’?

      1. going anon I guess*

        I shouldn’t have to buy two tickets to get a better deal, and neither should anyone else. For travel, you can’t really buy the two person deal and just say they can’t come, and for a non-travel event, I’d feel guilty buying two tickets and taking the place of someone else who might have wanted to attend.

    5. Irish Em*

      It really bugs me, I’m booking a solo holiday and even within Europe it’s like you either put up with the room that’s smaller than my wardrobe or pay more for a double-room-for-single-use and argh.

      I will say, I’ve had success with The Travel Department (they have .ie and .co.uk sites) because they do gear several tours toward Solo Friendly travel, so it might be worth taking a look, and seeing if they have any that you like the look of. It doesn’t stop the pain of getting to Ireland or the UK to meet up with them, but it does mean the hefty single supplement isn’t part of your holiday.

    6. fposte*

      Huh; I’ve encountered the travel surcharge per room thing you mention in your second paragraph, which is annoying but to me understandable from a business standpoint, since a couple in a room makes them more money ($3000) than a single in that room ($1500). I haven’t encountered the first situation you mention, though, where it’s $50 per person for a couple but $125 for a single–that’s really nasty! It sounds like something Ticketmaster would try to do.

      I don’t enjoy bearing the brunt of it, but as long as I can see the clear business reason for the policy I’m not going to take it personally. In the first paragraph situation, I don’t see the clear business reason for the policy.

    7. Lily Evans*

      I feel this. As someone single who loves traveling and going to events it’s so annoying!

      For travel companies, have you heard of Intrepid Travel? They don’t have single supplements, they pair you up with someone of the same gender to share (unless you choose to pay for your own room). They also have trips just for people traveling solo. I haven’t traveled with them, but I’ve heard really great things.

        1. Patsy Stone*

          Explore also does this…pair you up with a solo traveler of the same sex at no extra charge. They have a lot of amazing trips all over the world!

        2. Jojobean*

          G Adventures is very similar to Intrepid and they do the same thing – pair you with a roommate for the trip so you’re not stuck paying for the full room yourself.

    8. Little Bean*

      If it’s something like a cruise, I’d guess it’s because they make all of their money on alcohol and activities and people shopping on the ship, not on the rooms, so it’s more fiscally to their advantage to have as many people on the ship as possible. I don’t know if that would apply to a tour as well. Just guessing here…

      1. going anon I guess*

        Most of these aren’t cruises. They’re either trips with guided tours or trips where the tour group does the travel accommodations and sets up any exhibit/excursion/reservation or leaves you to do whatever you want for the rest of the day. So, a couple versus a solo person going on a museum tour doesn’t really make a difference since the cost would be the same per person.

        1. fposte*

          It still does when you’re calculating your personnel and equipment costs, though. Very crudely speaking, if it costs your agency $50k to set up your group tour, getting two people in a room is a profit maximizer; they’ll make more money from 24 people in 12 rooms than 24 people in 24 rooms.

        2. Undine*

          I assume it’s primarily the hotels that drive up the cost. I just went on a tour & paid the single supplement (I did have the option to have a shared room), and I had the same room I would have had if there was two of me. Most hotels, at any level, don’t have a lot of single rooms, and they charge by the room, not the person. They charge the tour the tour turns around and charges you that (plus some percentage). So if you are taking a room they could give to two people, you pay for a room for two people. But the excursions/guides/etc., you only pay one person’s share. That’s why you don’t pay twice as much overall.

          There were two women on my tour who took the shared room option, and it seemed to work out for them, but it also means you have a roommate who might be up all night running to the toilet, or whatever. (One of them ate something that disagreed with her.)

          1. going anon I guess*

            A lot of the tours I can afford don’t have a shared room option, which is where I’m running into an issue. I’d have no problem rooming with a stranger, but when I’ve asked, it’s buy as a couple or pay a solo fee without an option to room with a stranger.

            1. AcademiaNut*

              Are there any resources on line for finding people who would be the other half of your ‘couple’ for a trip? Someone else single who is interested in the same trip. Although there’d be a good chance you’d end up sharing a bed, not just a room.

              Solo travel is also an option. You don’t have someone to split room costs with, but you can compensate by picking more affordable hotels. You can then hook up with day trips in various locations, if you want to do some part of it with other people.

    9. neverjaunty*

      They aren’t giving a discount AT you or as a moral judgment on your relationship status. It’s entirely financial. They’ve determined that they will make more money by offering a discount for couples (encouraging them to go) than by having no discount (meaning some couples will pass it up entirely as too expensive.

    10. Middle School Teacher*

      Oh my god YES. I like to travel, my money is as good as any married person’s.

      You’re right, society does kind of punish single people in that way.

    11. Undine*

      If you want to find out more about how society penalizes singles, google “Bella DePaulo singlism”. I don’t agree with evreything she says (and I hate the word, which should be couplism), but she’s counted up the cost of being single in the U.S., and it’s huge.

    12. Casuan*

      Wo. It’s so good to know there are other happily single people out there!!

      I get frustrated with this, too. For travelling, I don’t expect a hotel room to be less expensive for a single than a double. It’s ridiculous to have an upcharge for a single ticket.

      The markets affect me the most, especially the “2 for $3 or $1,89 each” type pricings. Augh!!

      1. going anon I guess*

        Traveling isn’t even the only place I’ve encountered this, but it’s my current annoyance since I’m trying to plan a vacation.

        But it’s things like 2 for 1 restaurant deals where an expensive restaurant has a deal for couples to encourage them to dine at an affordable price or discounted couple tickets for an event, but you’re out of luck if you want to go there on your own. I’ve seen enough events or deals where it says two people have to be present and one person can’t take advantage of the deal themselves.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          When I joined the PBS monthly pledge thing, so I could binge shows on their website, they sent me this big book of thank-you coupons to restaurants, etc. Nearly every single offer was buy one, get one. The coupons were useless to me. I love Alamo Drafthouse, but they do the same thing–“Here’s your Victory reward! Buy one insanely overpriced shake and get another one free!” And you have to do it on one visit. I can’t drink two shakes, or eat two meals, at the same time. I can never get anyone to go anywhere with me because everybody has a family. :(

          I was so bummed about it I actually called them and nicely said they might want to consider that some of their patrons don’t have anyone with whom to share the offers. The PBS lady felt so badly for me that she started crying and I had to comfort her! It turned out she was upset about something personal, but she said she hadn’t thought about that, and she would recommend to them that they include some offers singletons can use as well.

          1. going anon I guess*

            Exactly. It’s super annoying.

            A few years ago, instead of a wedding a friend and her fiance had a small event that included a winery tasting, vineyard tour, and four course meal for a small group of close friends. Except, I was the only single person and the tasting and meal could only be booked in doubles, so if I wanted to go, I essentially had to pay for a second plate and tasting, and had to pay double what everyone else paid just because there was no single ticket option. And it was pricey. A little over $400.

            It sucked, but it sucked more than no one understood why I was so unhappy about it (one of her fiance’s friends said that was the price I paid for being single, which still annoys me to this day). There’s no reason I can think of why you need to buy two tickets to be involved in a wine tasting or meal.

            1. Fiennes*

              Fiancé’s friend is an ASS. And that’s inconsiderate at every level on both the couple’s part and the organizers.

                1. Casuan*

                  So very Totally. Gah.

                  How could the event not have been arranged for an odd number of people? I mean, it was a special event.
                  The price one pays for being single…?!? That friend was definitely an ass.

                  Elizabeth, yup re coupons, tho I don’t see the problem with two shakes if one has a freezer… ;-D

                2. Elizabeth West*

                  @Casuan — Well a shake won’t keep if you buy it during a movie. And do I really NEED two shakes? No, I don’t, LOL.

                  It’s not the shake; it’s the casual exclusion of the single person from any of these promotions. Like we don’t even exist.

                3. Casuan*

                  Yeah. I definitely don’t need two shakes…

                  …it’s the casual exclusion of the single person from any of these promotions. Like we don’t even exist.

                  This is it precisely!!

    13. Thursday Next*

      That is some weird math! I’d understand if it was $125 for an individual or 2for $200 (and therefore $100 each). But charging less in total for more people seems…strange. Why wouldn’t you pay the $100 for yourself then?

      1. Thursday Next*

        If it irks you to think of it as buying two tickets, perhaps think of it as buying “admission”? Similarly, for your general point, maybe think of it as a “bulk discount” rather than “couples’ price”?

        I know it’s demoralizing to think of the world as geared toward couples, so reframing when you can might be helpful.

  26. Snark*

    So, this week has been a lot.

    As I’ve mentioned in open threads, I’m being laid off at the end of May and am frantically searching for the thing we don’t talk about today. My Subaru is starting to burn oil and will likely need some fairly involved, but covered by warranty, engine work. We’re leaving for Barcelona in two and a half weeks. My wife’s work is intensely stressful and burning her out, and we’re still trying to do things like get exercise and see friends.

    But the biggest thing this week is actually two things: learning that my own hearing loss is probably genetic, which was good to learn, and learning that my four year old son has the same hearing loss, which is fairly heartbreaking. His hearing test, which disclosed the same moderately severe loss I have, led me to schedule an audiologist appointment, and he said mine’s probably genetic and I probably passed it along to him (along with basically all of his other features). The knowledge that he’s going to walk the same road I have is…..really depressing, and distressing. I caught a lot of shit when I was a kid about it, and it’s always been an impediment to my social life, learning, and ability to chill with my homeboys in noisy bars and restaurants. There’s the slight compensating reassurance, though, that I walked that road before him, and can help avoid a lot of the things nobody knew to tell me – like the delusion that I could just power through without hearing aids, for example. But it’s heavy news to get, and I wish I’d known it was a possibility.

    1. Snark*

      But, on the bright side, it’s 65 degrees today, and I’m gonna take a hike with the dog, get some sunlight and exercize.

    2. Caledonia*

      That is a lot snark. I hope you can manage to enjoy your European when it comes around.

      The beauty of the world we live in is that medical advances happen and by having knowledge you can prepare for any issues your son may or may not face in the future.

      PS – can we have an ask snark thread again at some point in the future?

    3. fposte*

      That’s the dark side of parenting, isn’t it? To realize that whether by influence or genetics, you’ve shared something you’d just as soon not. Has this put any of your parents’ or grandparents’ interactions in a different context as well?

      I’ve watched a colleague with anxiety deal really intelligently with her young son, who’s pretty clearly cut from the same cloth. Rather than being anxious about his anxiety, she’s really matter-of-fact with him about what’s difficult, what you can do about it, how she’ll back him up if he needs it with authority figures. I think maybe she’s being the parent she wished she’d had around this, and maybe you can be that for your son too.

      1. Snark*

        Yeah, that’s what I’m really hoping. My parents were, bless their hearts, rather clueless about how my hearing loss works and what I needed, and sort of let me take the lead in ways I really didn’t have the perspective or information myself. And there were just a lot of frustrations that I subjected myself to, trying to gumption my way through a hearing world. I’m hoping to help him avoid most of that. I wish I’d had that matter-of-fact, knowledgeable guidance about how to manage it.

        It’s definitely made me wonder about my fairly antisocial, isolated grandfather, as well.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I enjoy that our society is a lot more open about things and more respectful. “Your problem, suck it down” is not an answer to anything. I am very happy about these changes that I have seen in my lifetime.
          Your poor grandfather he probably got the brunt of “suck it down”. Every generation tries to do a little better on some things.

          1. Triple Anon*

            Yeah, I think we have come a long way. People are nicer and more matter of fact about those kinds of things than they used to be.

    4. neverjaunty*

      It’s heavy news, but your son’s experience won’t be yours; he’ll have the benefit of knowledge, and to him it’ll just be normal and not “what’s wrong here?!” Also, the world is a lot less shitty toward people with disabilities than it used to be.

      1. Casuan*

        So very +1!!

        Snark, I’m sorry for all you’re going through. And I’m thankful your son has you to guide him… with your practicality & sense of humour [dare I say “snark”?] that helps you! :-)

        Enjoy Barcelona!!

    5. ainomiaka*

      that stinks. and I’m glad you have better options to manage for your son. One thing I at least have if I ever have a kid (a more fraught topic than I had previously thought) is that at least there are ways that the issue that cost me hearing in one ear can be managed that won’t involve them growing up with a teacher hating them because I couldn’t hear her when she stood right next to my bad ear and taught.

    6. Kathenus*

      I feel for you with all that happening, especially at once. Regarding your son, as you and others have mentioned, you have so much to offer to make his path easier by your experience. And at least from the perspective of an internet stranger, you seem pretty awesome, so guessing you’re passing that on to your son as well.

    7. Elizabeth West*


      You absolutely can help your kid through this. I’ve thought about that myself — “If I have a kid, would it have dyscalculia? Arrgh it’s awful. Maybe it’s better this way.” But my kid would have the early intervention that I did not get. Their outcome would likely be vastly different from mine. So yeah, if given the opportunity, I would absolutely go for it anyway (please universe, gah; this is just stupid).

      Enjoy the hell out of that vacation, dammit.

    8. Mimmy*

      Snark – I don’t have children but I can relate the hearing issue. I was born with a slight hearing impairment (among other lovely things….). I don’t know why I was not given hearing aids when I was a child, but I somehow deluded myself into thinking I could get by without them until my now-husband convinced me otherwise (after much debate).

      I think you have the right frame of mind – now that you know what you wish you’d had growing up, you can hopefully find peace by making sure that your son gets what he needs now and, when he gets older, that he understands what will help him in school, work and socially.

      Have fun in Barcelona!!

    9. paul*

      Man, good luck. Sucksyou’re getting laid off :( And rough about your kid; I know how it feels to find out your kid has/may have something that’s made your life rough. I wish I could offer coping advice but I’m not too good at it myself so I’d feel hypocritical doing so.

      Enjoy Barcelona though, and good luck with everything

    10. ..Kat..*

      Consider ASL classes with your son? This could be a special thing you do together. Lip reading classes for you?

      Sorry, this sucks.

  27. Rookie Man