{ 1,314 comments… read them below }

    1. FutureLibrarianNoMore


      Alison, you’ve given us a community to connect. You’ve given us advice. You’ve turned me from a young, clueless employee, to someone others turn to for advice (it’s usually your advice haha) on employment stuff.

      Thank you for creating this amazing place!

    2. Junior Dev

      I told someone recently “all the advice I have for you is stuff I learned from Ask A Manager, so you should just go read her archive.” Thanks for creating such a great resource and community!

    3. Ask a Manager Post author

      That’s so kind of you — thank you!

      Now can I ask y’all a favor? I’d love some input on this: The Ask a Manager podcast is coming back on June 20, and it’s going to be produced/distributed by How Stuff Works (which is amazing). They’re encouraging me to do two episodes a week rather than one. I don’t think my schedule allows for two episodes a week of the normal format (talking to a letter-writer about their letter) because it’s time-intensive, but I could do a second show a week if its format were different from the first. There are a bunch of options for what that format could be. For example:

      – I could bring on guests who have some kind of relevant specialty and interview/talk to them (for example, someone who’s an expert in salary negotiation or so forth) — similar to the episode I did earlier with Gretchen Rubin
      – I could talk about letters from the site in the past week and kind of go deeper on them (probably would need a co-host to make that interesting, so it’s not just me rambling about my thoughts)
      – I could have a co-host to talk about random topics that come up here a lot, not necessarily connected to specific recent letters
      – or something I haven’t thought of yet

      I’d welcome thoughts about what would be interesting to people!

      1. Detective Amy Santiago

        I like all of these suggestions.

        What about updates? Do you get enough to do one of those a week as a podcast?

        1. Foreign Octopus

          I second this idea of updates. I love reading those and so more in any format would be great.

          Sort of continuing on from your first point at having a specialist of some sort on – what about having people on who have actually successfully negotiated their salaries? Or successfully gone to HR about some issues that was resolved using your advice? A number of the comments in the work threads are generally about people implementing your advice in real life and the outcomes of it. I’d even like to hear the ones that didn’t go well and maybe you can dissect why they didn’t go well. I’m sure you would have loads of volunteers from the community here.

      2. alex b

        How Stuff Works?! That’s so awesome; they make some of the best podcasts!! Congrats!

        I enjoy your current format a lot, but for twice-a-week, two different formats would be great.

        From what you listed, I prefer your second (discussing past letters more w/ a co-host) and third (discussing topical things w/ a co-host) options over the first (expert interview), personally.

        I’d also love to hear a summary of and commentary on a recent job-related news story (something noteworthy about law, human interest, social justice, true crime, etc. related to the workplace).

        Fwiw I listen to podcasts where there’s a combo of 2-3 short segments in an episode, and they can work really well. Not sure if that would be more or less work, though.

        I look forward to hearing two episodes a week!

      3. Annie Mouse

        I’ll add my thanks as well Alison, this is a rare safe port in the internet and it comes with the bonus of brilliant advice and some cracking reads!

        All of those suggestions sound really good. I think you rambling with your thoughts sounds fine!
        A couple of other suggestions, what about interviews with letter writers in unusual jobs or with unusual career paths? A bit like you’ve done posts on here. Or fictional bosses/situations (as in bosses and situations from fiction, not completely made up!).

          1. louise

            omg. THE NIECES TOTALLY BELONG ON AN EPISODE. Also, investing in them is just good succession planning. ;)

      4. Lore

        What about including the broader “conversations with people who have interesting jobs” in the “experts” category? You could even take questions in advance (unless you wanted the guests to be a surprise of course) from readers—the thing they most want to know about working in a parrot sanctuary or whatever—which would cut down on prep time maybe.

        1. Hobgoblin

          Yep, that was my first thought as well. I so love running across those posts. I think they’re the most fascinating ones to read and I’d love to hear interviews about people in professions that are unusual or just vastly different than mine.

      5. gecko

        Going deeper on some letters with a cohost sounds both interesting and sustainable. It still has an advice structure (Branding tm), an easy topic for the conversation to range around, and I think cohost chemistry is a huge reason why podcasting is popular.

      6. smoke tree

        I like the idea of having a co-host or series of co-hosts to discuss letters. It could also work if you saved some of the weirder or more nuanced letters to discuss with the co-host–this is a format I’ve heard in a few advice column podcasts and I think it works well. If you were able to use a series of co-hosts, it could work as a combination interview/advice format, although it would probably involve more work to find them.

      7. Bye Academia

        I personally would prefer one longer podcast to a second one. Yours are already pretty short compared to the ones I tend to listen to.

        What if you gathered up two or three letters that are related to the one where you’re going to talk to the letter writer? You could answer one or two first to set up the general concept, and then dive deeper into it with specifics and back-and-forth with the letter writer. So each week would focus on one broad topic with two or three specific letters, including one with the letter writer calling in.

      8. Beatrice

        Maybe mix it up a bit? Like this:

        Week 1: Timely stand-alone discussion with a guest cohost on do’s and don’ts when you start a new internship
        Week 2: Letter podcast
        Week 3: Discussion with a guest cohost on this week’s explosive site letter from an employee whose pot-bellied pig was kidnapped by her boss and served as the main course for a staff barbecue
        Week 4: Letter podcast
        Week 5: “Tell us about your job” interview with someone who taught at a clown college
        Week 6: Letter podcast
        Week 7: Stand-alone discussion with a guest co-host on how to determine if you’re correctly classified as a contractor and what to do if you’re not
        Week 8: Update from the letter writer from the podcast in Week 2
        Week 9: Allison’s take on the whistleblower scandal that recently rocked ACME corp, and discussion on how to handle it if your company is involved in illegal activity


        Some of those things could be pre-recorded material that could be bumped to another non-letter week if there’s a site letter that would generate more good discussion or something in the news that makes good podcast material.

      9. Not So NewReader

        I like the idea of interviewing other people, this takes a bit off of you to provide new content each week that you have made solely yourself. From time to time maybe you could survey the readers here to see their suggestions of who they would like to hear and/or you could survey for the questions, too. “I am interviewing Jane Smith, well known for XYZ. What questions would you like answered? I will pick 7 [or other number] and ask.”

        OTH, perhaps you see patterns where certain topics come up periodically. Domestic violence in the workplace.Violent cohorts/stalkers at work. You could discuss new legislation and it’s impact on workplaces. I mentioned knowledge gaps a while ago, we all have them. Perhaps you see common misconceptions that would be good to discuss. You could bring in a person who is expert on the matter to discuss it.

        Sneakily, you could bring in people who are expert in areas that you feel are not your strong suit. This might even make it more interesting for you, too. But you don’t have to tell anyone why the person is there (chuckling).

        But my baseline answer is I am sure whatever you come up with people will like it and tune in.

      10. Soupspoon McGee

        How Work Works. Heh.

        I love all of these ideas, and I’d love it if you’d do occasional deep-dive podcasts into some of the themes we see here:
        *how to survive a toxic workplace
        *what to do once realizing your boss is horrible and isn’t going to change
        *how to be friendly but not boundary-crossing at work
        *how to find a mentor and get the most out of mentoring
        *how to network effectively, especially for introverts
        *how to dress professionally (including in ambiguous business casual environments) and how to build a work-appropriate wardrobe on a budget
        *how to date at work if you really decide to do it even though it’s not a great idea
        *how to recover from a mistake and how to know it’s time to leave over a mistake
        *how to understand the culture of a workplace, then navigate it if it’s not a great fit
        *stupid mistakes most of us have made (and survived)

      11. Sunshine in my eyes

        I would like to hear an episode for young people in their first jobs. At various workplaces I’ve seen young people not really know how to be a good employee, and managers and co-workers get annoyed, but the first timers don’t even know ‘how’ to show initiative, for example, even if they know the word. I remember standing around at my first waitress job, until I noticed others were constantly moving and doing things. Nobody told me, they probably just talked about me:) and at my current job, one of the summer temps fell asleep, and took breaks that were 15 minutes too long. He was a good kid, and ended up being a pretty decent employee but that was rough for him. He wasn’t lazy or stupid, he just needed guidance.

      12. Kuododi

        On the topic of cohosts… I have not heard anything from your delightful niece’s in ages. I loved reading their opinions in archived letters!!! If they’re in a position to pop in from time to time that would be magnificent!!! (And occasionally hysterical.). ;). Blessings!

          1. Kuododi

            Mazel Tov!!! I have an amazing niece as well. She’s the daughter I didn’t get to have. Of course my brilliant nephew isn’t chopped liver either.

      13. That female train driver.

        I’m a female coal train locomotive engineer who would be happy to talk to you about my experiences in such a male dominated industry. Perhaps you could run episodes about people in strange-ish jobs?

        1. Not So NewReader

          Trains!!! I like trains but don’t know a lot about them. Is the train you work on coal -fired or does it haul coal? I am thinking that trains are diesel and you haul coal?

          1. That female train driver.

            I haul coal, on different types of engines. I can drive diesel and electric trains. They are about 14,000 tonnes when loaded.

            1. Not So NewReader

              You’re awesome. I won’t ask more questions in case Alison decides to interview you. But it would be interesting to hear how you came to do this work. And little parts about it, such as what does a “drivers’ license test” look like.

        2. Almost Violet Miller

          I often reread the interviews with people with strange jobs. I’d really enjoy if that continued, extended with the idea of That female train driver above.

        3. Workerbee


          Being a steam locomotive engineer was always my dream since I was young and would defiantly check out “The Boy’s Book of Trains” from my grade school library.

          I didn’t go that way at all, yet I regularly visit a favorite, near-enough railway museum (which is stuffed with volunteers restoring trains and running them on the lines). I would love to hear about your experiences.

          1. Not So NewReader

            Union Pacific Big Boys, what a frighteningly large piece of machinery. The main wheels had to be close to six feet in diameter.

      14. Jo

        I love all those ideas, and I don’t think you have to lock yourself into any one of them. Variety is the spice of life – and of podcasts! :)

        Also, I have to also say thank you. I’ve been a manager for 5 years now and I improve with time, thanks to your great advice!

      15. Bibliovore

        I would like one longer one. Yes to interviews. Yes to experts. Yes to a updates. Yes to “stump the manager” like the phone ins with the “car guys”

      16. Sarah G

        Any of the co-host ideas sound great, and it doesn’t have to be experts — I recommend an episode co-hosting with your nieces!
        I also loved your mansplaining episode where you sought out someone struggling with this issue to come forward. What about similar quasi-confessional themes — like seeking out hiring managers who have interviewed applicants then not followed up with rejections, or who don’t send out job rejections in general and are open to discussing it, or who that do/don’t post salary ranges in job postings and why? Maybe you could draw attention to some of the bs that is part of the culture of the job application process and the lack of logic behind some of it.
        You also need to invite Dan Savage to co-host, of course.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Ha, my nieces would love it.

          My dream co-host is actually a friend who’s hilarious and who has always had great ideas for the site in the past — she’s the one who originally suggested doing updates, in fact. In my dream scenario, she and I could just discuss recent letters and it would be funny and hopefully interesting, but I can’t decide if it’s too weird to basically be like “listen to my BFF and me discuss AAM letters and crack each other up.”

          1. AAM afficionado

            That sounds like the perfect podcast! I love it when cohosts have great rapport. Plus it’s nice when a podcasts adds a little something “extra” as opposed to just being the spoken form of a blog post.

            While I’m at it – I would also love interview of people in different/unique jobs!

            Oh, or etiquette in situations where workplace “norms” in an industry are very different from what are established rules. e.g. how to deal with coworkers when you live in a camp environment (so you can never escape each other!) or something like that.

          2. Not So NewReader

            Actually if the two of you are comfy with each other like that, then it will probably make a very enjoyable episode. There are synergies from people who work well off each other.

          3. JanetM

            I would love that! One of my favorite things I attended ever was “Vint Cerf and another guy from the days of Arpanet sit on stage and swap old ‘war stories’.”

          4. Elizabeth

            This is going to sound a little odd, but how about having her be your reserve? Most talk show hosts have a friend/colleague who is their go-to when the scheduled guests have to bow out suddenly. Jay Leno had Terry Bradshaw in that role for years on The Tonight Show. That way, you always have the backup who you know will be able to step in and help you put on an engaging episode even if you don’t have another plan.

            1. Magee

              +1 I was going say I could name a bunch of successful podcasts that started because two close friends wanted to talk about a specific topic- MFM, TrueCrime Garage, How Did This Get Made? and Dumb People Town are just off the top of my head.

          5. Squeeble

            No, this would be PERFECT. I’d love episodes like that. Very similar to MFM, Call Your Girlfriend, By The Book…it would be great and not weird at all!

          6. StudentAffairsProfessional

            frankly, this is the best idea yet!! most of the podcasts I LOVE are basically just what you described. two or more people with great rapport just talking loosely about a certain topic (unsolved mysteries, home renovation, dating life, etc). I don’t mind at all and actually enjoy when they go off topic and are just chatting about their lives. It feels like I’m part of a conversation with friends. That feeling stimulates my extrovert brain and really helps me get through long periods that would otherwise be silence/boring to me – like doing chores, driving, envelope-stuffing at work, etc. I would really enjoy just hearing you and your friend just chat about a letter or a workplace topic!!!

        2. Sarah G

          I love the idea of you and your friend — if you have good chemistry and good rapport, it could work really well! There are a lot of great podcasts that thrive on the interplay between two co-hosts. You could always try it with her as a guest and see how it goes, but it sounds like a great idea.

      17. Janice in Accounting

        I love the idea of a deeper dive on the week’s letters with a co-host; I don’t always get a chance to read all the comments, so it would be interesting to hear you incorporate the commenters’ thoughts and ideas.

      18. Minocho

        You mentioned that you enjoyed reading your audio book because it allowed you to address tone and how to come across properly in our work life. If you have a theme that requires these scripts and would benefit from working on tone, maybe you could perform some of the common scripts with someone else to demonstrate. A few episodes on the common questions: How to address issues with an employee and help them perform as you need, or realize that the position in question isn’t a good fit; how to respond to critical feedback and the difference between explaining and giving excuses; how to give or receive an interview and address negotiations; etc.

      1. Anna Held

        Not sure if this is in response to the podcast question or not, but it’s what I came here to say. Let trusted commenters have occasional podcasts! So many of your commenters have great advice or unusual professions or have dealt with difficult work issues or simply can commiserate — they’ve been through dealing with disabilities at work, or career changes, or unemployment. Even smaller topics like “I changed my resume radically, this worked great, here’s Alison’s suggestions in action” or the two of you performing mock interview questions that are dissected afterwards could be helpful. Scripts for difficult conversations modeled so you can hear tone. All the stuff you’re doing already, really! You’ve got a good mix of the unusual and the banal, the fun and the serious and the nuts-and-bolts. I’d keep that.

    4. Belle di Vedremo

      Yes, thanks so much. This may have started as a lark for you, but look how it’s grown and what a community you host. We’re grateful.

  1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesInYourHouse

    Looking for recommendations for great cat foods and litter if people have them. My 20 year old tabby is getting fussy.

    1. Pam

      I like the pine litters, Feline Pine is the main brand. For a 20-year old cat, I would feed her whatever she wanted.

        1. Percysowner

          I like the Pine litter as well. If you find your cat likes it, you can go to a feed and garden store and buy pine pellets used for horse stalls, things like Equine Pine. It’s the exact same material as in the Feline Pine, but about 1/3 the price.

      1. Clever Name

        Pellet stove fuel is the exact same thing as feline pine and costs a quarter of the price.

    2. CatCat

      Our picky kitty likes Soulistic wet food.

      I love silica litter. It comes and large crystals and very fine crystals (the fine ones are usually clumping if that matters to you). If your kitty has litter texture issues, maybe give it a try with whichever size crystals are the most different from whatever litter you’re using that kitty doesn’t care for.

    3. Sylvan

      My cats like Swheat Scoop litter. World’s Best is also good.

      Sometimes older cats have trouble drinking enough water or have trouble with tougher food, so try stirring a spoonful of water into whatever cat food your kitty likes. Also, Friskies and Fancy Feast both sell “broths” that my old cat loves.

      1. I Love Thrawn

        The only thing about that kind of litter is sometimes it has bugs, I think. Concatulations on 20 years!

      1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesInYourHouse

        Thank you. He’s a scrawny orange tabby I got for my birthday from a shelter years ago. He’s a pain and a joy, my old man cat who still jumps on everything.

        1. Minocho

          My 17 year old man cat is getting thin. I’m pretty much feeding him whatever he wants – the more calories, the better.

    4. Book Lover

      I am using the breeze system, but I am not sure if an older cat would transition well? But the zeolite pellets seem to do a good job controlling smell and with allergies it is nice because no dust.

      Can’t help much with the food, we are using diamond kitten dry food and max cat kitten wet food.

    5. Rainy

      My 22 year old cat has a strong preference for clumping clay litter. We use Tidy Cat.

      Also, Halo. Halo’s cat kibble is fantastic–my 22yo has been eating it for the last 10 years and, well, he’s 22 so…

      1. nonprofit director

        Our two cats also strongly prefer clumping litter, and we use Dr. Elsey’s unscented for multiple cat households. We have no problems with odor, but I think a big part of that is due to the fact that they eat raw only, which really improved their output.

    6. Nancie

      I used Dr Elsey’s litter. The cat attract worked perfectly when my kitten had litter box issues.

      1. Safetykats

        Another vote for Dr Elsey’s. Cat Attract is great. You can also buy the big container of herbs (smells a little like alfalfa to me) to add to any unscented litter, which is a little cheaper but still works like a dream.

    7. Logan

      Litter – be sure to avoid anything scented, and if you want to mitigate the smell you can mix in a bit of baking powder.

      Food – cats are driven by smell, which gets worse as we age (humans and cats). I’d suggest stinkier foods, like mixing in a bit of tuna or unsalted chicken broth. I have also had baby food be highly recommended for this, although tuna or broth has always worked for me. They can’t be the only long-term food, as they are missing a lot of essential minerals, but do well mixed in with a commercial food.

      1. WS

        Yes, I had an elderly cat with kidney issues, so it was very important to keep her weight up…but kidney issues in cats affect the teeth and gums so it was hard to make food attractive to her. A bit of chicken broth or tuna or a really stinky prawn “luxury” cat food with her regular nutrient-balanced food worked wonders.

    8. Damn it, Hardison!

      Dr Elsey’s makes a senior litter (Petco online has it) that my almost 22 year old tabby likes. It’s silica (I think) and seems easier on her paws. I mix it with Dr Elseys Precious Cat. For food, mine likes Nutro Perfect Portion Grain Free Pate, which comes in several flavors. It’s very soft, which is good for my cat, who only has a few teeth left (but is otherwise surprising healthy for her age).

      1. Jane of all trades

        Another vote for Dr Elseys!
        For wet food, if you’re in a situation where your cat isn’t eating enough, you could try baby food, specifically the pureed ham baby food that they sell in little glasses. When I used to foster this was one of the things we’d give to cats who weren’t eating.
        And for regular food, I have a cat who is extremely particular about what she eats (and her tastes change on a monthly basis), but bizarrely she has always loved Hill’s Science Diet’s “turkey & liver” and “chicken and liver” (it’s healthy-ish, but not the super healthy food I’d like her to eat). She also doesn’t always want to try her food, so sometimes it can be helpful to put just a little bit of wet food on her front paw, so she has to lick it off, and gets used to the flavor by doing that…

    9. Max from St. Mary's

      My 20 year old girl has gotten fussier too.

      For food, it’s a combination–some regular wet cat food (what the other cats eat), though she has a new favorite, Farmers Market brand, she currently likes all of the flavors. I also give her people food, with the blessing of my vet, so chicken (she loves the canned stuff), tuna water, hamburger, and she loves little bits of steak; half and half to keep some weight on her.

      About six months ago she decided she was tired of the litter box, so I use puppy pads. They’re more expensive but honestly easier for me, plus I can easily see if she’s having any issues on that end.

    10. I'm A Little Teapot

      Honestly, try whatever. Different flavors, textures, brands. My 19 yo spent her life eating Fancy Feast savory salmon pate. At least until 2 years ago, when she rejected savory salmon, then last year rejected Fancy Feast entirely. I got 2 of everything from about 3 brands, saved labels of what she ate, got more a couple more of those, saved labels of what she ate, etc. She’s now hinting that she’s going to demand a change again, but so far is content. If I need to, I’ll repeat the process. When you get to be that old, you can eat whatever you want and who cares if it’s junk food. (Mine’s currently happy with Purina Pro Plan and Neutro.)

      Re litter – don’t do pine, there are toxicity concerns. Otherwise, just try different things. However, be aware that it may be the box rather than the litter. If yours is having trouble getting in/out of the box, it can look the same as rejecting litter. May try a different shape/size box first before you switch litters.

    11. AnotherJill

      We tried virtually every type of cat food and found that our 18 year old would only eat Fancy Feast with gravy. It was amusing to see the look she would give us when we tried something out.

      1. Kate Daniels

        Oh man, I *know* that look! I only do one can a day (1/2 in the morning, 1/2 in the evening) and at least try to supplement with some healthier dry food.

    12. Zona the Great

      Old cats actually need less protein and even off the shelf stuff may have too much for his kidneys. I would ask the vet for a wet food with less protein! My 23 year old died of kidney failure. While still a great feat, I wish I fed her better. She’s my best friend even across the rainbow. My current cat eats only raw food. Rad Cat. Great product.

      1. nonprofit director

        Another fan of Rad Cat, which our two cats eat. Prior to these two, we lost a lot of cats to kidney failure, which I now know may have been related to what we fed them. I wish we’d fed them better. Our two current cats, however, are going strong on raw food.

    13. Roja

      Our vet recommended 4Health, Tractor Supply’s home brand. We’ve been really happy. It’s good quality ingredients and is not expensive (~$25 for a 20ish lb bag). Our cats love it, and best of all they keep coming out with new flavors so I can always try something new. They’ve got a whole line of canned food too if your kitty prefers that. I’ve also been happy with the Fresh Step litter. It doesn’t dust as much and is good with odor.

    14. Cruciatus

      A few weeks ago my 18-year-old cat stopped eating her canned Friskies. I thought maybe she was telling us it was time even though I had just run her to the vet days before for an unrelated thing and all tests came back as pretty good (for 18). I noticed that she still was interested in treats and we had purchased a roasted chicken she was all about and I figured if she was trying to die she wouldn’t eat anything at all so maybe she still did want to eat. I had the thought to heat up her Friskies and…lo and behold it worked. Not super hot, but the smidgen she gets per meal I put in the microwave for about 7 seconds at 10% power and it’s enough for her. I don’t know if the heat helps her smell it better, or if the cold straight-from-the-fridge food hurt her teeth (the few she has left) but I just know it worked for us!

      1. Windchime

        Yeah, I had a 19 year old toothless cat and he ate much better if I warmed up his canned food before giving it to him. I think it was just a little stinkier, which appealed to him.

        I still think of him whenever I bring home a roasted chicken from Costco. He was old and stiff and skinny, but he would come running for a piece of that warm roasted chicken.

    15. Earthwalker

      We get a corn-based litter called Abound. Light weight, effective, and it has a fresh corn smell. If you’re near Fred Meyers, they carry it.

    16. Belle di Vedremo

      Oh, thanks for asking & for all the replies. My 20 year old (tortie) cat is asking me to change things up & this gives me some ideas. Id love for her to have another few good years. She’s been eating Weruva wet food, mostly pouches but the occasional can. She’s liking lamb, buffalo & beef more than poultry. She still loves tuna, likes trout but not salmon. Kibble she tires of after a year or two, and asks for a new one. And she does seem to prefer stinkier food as her nose ages.

    17. Zennish

      This may be too late after the post, but having once had an aging kitty… A vet told me cats judge what is edible mostly by scent, and often their sense of smell diminishes when they get old. I started buying whatever cat food seemed strongly scented (especially sardine and shrimp flavors) and it really helped.

      Also with litter… if you’re asking because kitty has suddenly stopped using the box, they will sometimes do this if they’ve had a recent illness or infection that caused them discomfort while using the bathroom… they associate the box with the discomfort. I encountered this once and solved it by getting a fresh litterbox, filling it with plain, unscented clay litter, and placing it in a new area, but YMMV of course.

  2. Loves Libraries

    Volunteering question. I’m a member of local chapter of an international civic club that specializes in serving children in many ways. Yesterday our group partnered with other local groups for a bike safety event. I let our contact know that I could volunteer if they still needed additional volunteers. I was told to come. I get there and there are way more volunteers than needed. I really enjoy volunteering but I don’t enjoy standing around. Does this happen to others? This has happened before with this group. How should I phrase future replies for volunteers without getting folks upset. I have an event that I help run but it seems that my event has a realistic buy of helpers. Any feedback would help. Thanks.

    1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)

      Your contact works/volunteers with the org, right? If so, bring it up with them and see if they have any suggestions.

    2. bluelyon

      This sounds…. pretty typical of a lot of volunteering experiences. Most places I’ve volunteered tend to over “staff” because people bail at the last minute, flake unexpectedy or turnout is high.
      Lots of people treat volunteer commitments as optional and that means orgs need to prepare for shortages

      1. Washi

        Yeah, when I ran volunteer orientations (which is admittedly a different type of thing) attendance hovered around 60%, but could fluctuate anywhere between 15% and 95%. It’s possible that they had an unusually low flake level for that event, but it could also just be disorganization. I would say that some good signs that a volunteer event is well run would be clear instructions on how to sign up, confirmation that you should come soon after signing up, instructions on your role sent ahead of time, and a confirmation email the day before reiterating all that information. (Not that it can’t be a great event if these things aren’t present, but organizing volunteers is actually a lot of work and people who do that well tend to be good and frequent communicators.)

        1. Anna Held

          It’s a problem, but then overstaffing just becomes a habit. Volunteer managers also want to include everyone who’s interested so they’ll stay involved, but then this sort of thing happens. I’d definitely drop a note if you feel like it — volunteers tend to just vanish, so it’s helpful if you tell them why so they can course correct.

          1. Loves Libraries

            Thanks. I talked to a friend today who was also there. He had similar sentiments. I’m also keeping this in mind when I’m scheduling an event for later this summer.

    3. Hobgoblin

      My volunteer org uses an online sign-up for events. Volunteers can see who they’ll be working with (and be more likely to show if friends will be there) and can easily remove themselves from the list. An automated email goes out asking for someone to fill that spot. It’s worked pretty well for us and has helped us avoid no shows and overstaffing.

    4. cleo

      That’s pretty typical of my experience with volunteering for one-time events, but not for recurring volunteer gigs. Which is why I don’t usually volunteer for events.

  3. Sunflower

    This is a petty question, but does anyone have suggestions handling buying clothes?

    I don’t like buying clothes and am not into fashion. I’ve tried investing in nicer clothes, assuming they will last, and been disappointed at the quality. It’s been a variety of stores too. I feel like all the clothes I’ve bought have been a crapshoot for quality. I have some cheap clothes that have lasted forever. A lot of my older stuff has started to disintegrate. Should I try and research online? Just give myself an amount of money a few times a year and force myself to buy things? Just buy cheap stuff because the expensive things haven’t been better?

    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      Have you tried something like Stitch Fix where they send you stuff and you can decide if you like it or not?

      1. cyan

        +1 for Stitch Fix. I hate shopping for clothes because of sizing weirdness, but somehow they’ve been sending me at least one item per box that I actually like. I’ve been getting some good quality stuff BUT I’m also allowing myself a bigger budget (e.g. $100-150 for a dress) to not get bad quality anymore.

    2. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesInYourHouse

      There are companies that actually send you clothes and does that shopping. Online personal stylists.

      1. Marion Ravenwood

        Agreed. I was going to suggest a face-to-face personal stylist appointment (not sure what it’s like elsewhere but here in the UK most of the big department stores offer them, plus sometimes shopping centres will have a personal stylist who can pick from a range of shops), but given OP’s dislike of shopping I’m wondering if the online version you’ve suggested might work better.

        1. April Ludgate

          Thank you – your comment inspired me to google free personal stylist services in nearby dept. stores and will definitely make use of them. I have a hectic schedule for the next few months, love to dress nice, but cannot scrape the time together for a shopping trip. Def. recommend this to the OP.

      2. Mallory

        Yep. I hate shopping. Between amazon for shoes and STitch fix and the occasional online bag of stuff from old navy, I avoid brick and mortar entirely.

        Stitch fix is too casual for a formal workplace but does well for business casual and weekend wear. I’m a size 12/14 and hard to fit (tall, curvy) and they do a great job. It’s not cheap but I wear the heck out of the pieces I get from them. You could also do this using a Nordstrom stylist or the like in person (I have 3 kids and work, so this is…not an option for me!).

        1. Mallory

          One of the downsides to stitch fix (and pluses to Nordstrom) is that if you like something, you can’t just say “I’ll take one in every color, thanks!” They have a lot of their own brand and they only send one of each piece. At Nordstrom youncan just throw more into the pile.

    3. Mimmy

      No real advice, just some commiseration. I’m not into fashion either — my wardrobe is probably considered very bland. I just don’t like a lot of the trendy designs and styles. Also, do you get overwhelmed at all the choices out there? That’s my problem–I just shut down and don’t get anything.

      1. fretnone


        I feel kind of silly about this, but I’ve realized that I like clothes that have a shop inside a grocery chain because I love going to get groceries (clothes not so much), so I’m already there and once I’m there, there’s a limited number of choices all by the same label (so the sizing is predictable) and it’s so much easier to pick one of those limited options in the colours I like.

        It doesn’t make for a super exciting wardrobe but at least I will actually get something!

    4. BugSwallowersAnonymous

      I feel the same way. Sometimes I go with recommendations from friends, especially if they have a similar body type or style to me (my preferred style is bookish and cheap).

    5. Arrnanon

      Quality wise, I find I have to shop in person- it’s the only way I can examine fabric and construction closely enough to see if stuff is likely to hold up. But that takes experience, knowledge, and time, and you don’t sound like you’re particularly interested in investing any of that, which is very reasonable!

      Honestly, brand loyalty might be your friend here- if there’s a brand that regularly fits the way you want it to, fills most of your wardrobe needs, and has a quality/ price ratio you’re happy with, just shop there. No need to reinvent the wheel every time you need new clothes. And if you haven’t found a brand that suits yet, I bet folks might have some ideas if you can narrow down some parameters of what your ideal is.

      1. Sunflower

        I think this is part of my problem. I have no idea how to examin clothes for quality to see if they will hold up. I think that is how my clothes buying experience has been a crapshoot

        1. only acting normal

          Buy or borrow a book on high end tailoring – not to DIY but to learn what things about construction and finish indicate quality.
          Look inside clothes at seam finish, linings, etc.
          Look closely at the things you have which have lasted.
          Go to a store of the kind of clothes you are after, but out of your price range, and just look at the construction.
          Sadly even spending a lot won’t guarantee quality, and decent quality can come at a reasonable price, but spotting the difference takes a little learning.

          Also, how you care for things can extend or shorten their lifespan – I *hate* what tumble dryers do to clothes, though I appreciate their convenience/necessity for some.

          1. epi

            These are all great.

            One other tip that has helped me, especially for shopping online, is to look at the models. Look closely, beyond the fact that they are obviously beautiful. Is the garment actually that flattering on them? Are they standing strangely, pulling on the garment, or photographed in a group of natural enough looking positions that still never give you a great sense of how the garment is in person?

            There’s a good chance there are fit issues or even quality control issues that affected the fit. I’ve never skipped something for this reason, then saw it later in the store and changed my mind.

        2. Treecat

          The seams are the quickest way to tell if a garment is well-made (seams are one of the first things manufacturers skimp on to save money). Look at the stitching on the seams–it is even? Is it tight? Are the stitches small and neat or loose and messy? How does the cut end of the fabric look? Buttonholes are another big area where manufacturers skimp. Look closely at the stitching around the buttonholes. If it’s already coming loose on a brand new piece of clothing, forget it.

    6. Triplestep

      Try your local thrift store (we have Savers in my area). Consider anything that looks like it might fit and give it a shot. If you buy it and then it doesn’t work out, you won’t have invested that much money. After you get used to paying a bit more attention to clothing, you might learn some better quality brands to look for. (This how it worked for me).

      Do not use Thred Up without first reading the thousands of negative reviews from consignors, and some buyers as well. These days, there’s a high likelihood buyers are benefiting from a consignor’s bad experience, so just something to consider.

      I personally have found that items that come from Stitch Fix and the like are way overpriced for what they are, but I know people who have had good experiences. (I don’t mind paying for quality, but I won’t pay upwards of $80 for a polyester long sleeved T-shirt, and I seem to get a lot of that kind of thing in my shipments.)

    7. Marion Ravenwood

      This might be a bit of a random thought, but how would you feel about going to a dressmaker and having a few pieces of clothing made for you? It will be a bit more money than shopping in a ‘normal’ place, but as they’ll be handmade chances are the quality will be better (I’d suggest getting recommendations from people you know or asking local community groups on social media maybe). You could potentially take stuff you already have and like to any appointments and say ‘I’d like something like this but in a different colour/with a different neckline etc’ as well so they get an idea of the sort of things you’re after – a good dressmaker will sit down with you and talk you through what you want to make sure it’s right for you.

      1. Stained Glass Cannon

        I second this recommendation. If you have the money to spare, a few good sets of tailored clothing will last much longer and look better on you than the awful use-and-throw stuff that seems to be in vogue these days.

        Also, I’d advise against buying online. The fit and quality is really hit-and-miss unless you’re already familiar with the brand and know for sure what you’re getting.

    8. gecko

      Try the uniform/capsule style of buying clothes. I don’t quite subscribe to the strict capsule wardrobe thing, but I have a closet of like 9 dresses, I have a silver set & a bronzey set of jewelry, a color belt, a black belt, and a brown belt, and gray tights. It’s a limited set of things to wear; I buy my dresses either from Mata Traders (since I know my size on there) or eShakti (since I can send in measurements). I have identical ballet flats from Target, one in brown and one in black, that I just re-buy when they wear out.

      My advice is to put in some effort up front and just pick a couple brands to be loyal to, with a list of some basics you can refresh from anywhere.

      What clothes in your wardrobe have lasted the longest and fit the best and been most comfortable? Try buying more stuff from them and see where that takes you, maybe.

    9. fposte

      This is super-variable, so I’m just going to give you my anecdotal experience. I live in a small town and I’m petite (as in short, not tiny), so for me buying in brick and mortar stores is pretty much a waste of time absent, like, t-shirts. I’ve therefore been buying online for years and doing a lot of tailoring. I’m also advanced enough in my career, salary-wise to spend more per item without crying.

      Retail clothing is a constant pressure for price-point; last year’s perfectly solid cotton shirt from Gap Republic Navy is this year’s skimpy blend with crooked seams, all under the same name; somewhere in the supply chain it got too expensive to make the previous shirt at the same price, so they downgraded the quality to keep the price range. So quality is always a moving target. Even in fairly staid brands like Lands’ End and L. L. Bean you can see item reviews changing when a longstanding item gets changed in quality.

      I shop online, but I return most of what I order. Ordering is trying on, not buying. Shipping is the entry ticket to getting items I really like, and I’m prepared to pay that. And when I decide to buy something, if it needs tailoring, it goes into the car ASAP with tags still on to go to the tailor. I will also, if I’m not sure if a tailor can make it the dress or whatever I want, take it over to have them weigh in, and the dress gets returned if they can’t do what I want (usually the issue is shortening the bodice–that can get super-complicated, even when you think it would just be shortening straps). I’m picky about fabrics; I stick to natural fibers or at least predominantly so, and I don’t bother with linen because it’s too high maintenance. These days I do a lot more knits, so there’s little to no ironing.

      While I can’t say that I take brilliant care of my clothes, I wash all of them in cold, and they either dry flat or spend 5-10 minutes in the dryer before being hung to dry. That includes wool and cashmere sweaters. Wool weaves with linings (think something like lined jackets and trousers, which is where quality really matters) go to the dry cleaners.

      I’m appending in followup a really interesting YouTube video about assessing the quality of your clothes.

      1. Ann O.

        This may seem like a silly question, but it’s one I’ve been struggling with. How do you create a space to dry your clothes flat and how do you create a space to hang dry?

        I have some items that are supposed to hang dry, and it’s a huge pain because I can’t find a good place where they don’t drip all over. In an older place, I had a line outside so I could at least hang things, but I found that drying in the sun made everything really stiff (not to mention, the eventual color bleaching).

        1. fposte

          I have fortunate to have a house with a basement. I use a three-tiered rack I got at IKEA for flat drying (theoretically it folds up but I never fold it up) and I have an overhead hanging rack for hang drying over the utility sink. I don’t think there’s any dripping, though; there might be if I handwashed, but I gave that up years ago, and everything gets a few minutes in the dryer first.

        2. Thursday Next

          It shouldn’t be dripping when you pull it out of the washer. Sometimes I hand wash, and since I can’t wring out the water the way a washer can, I put an old towel under my drying rack (which is set up in my bedroom).

          I tend not to wash more than one lie flat item at a time, which can go on the top of the rack. But if I do more, I put a couple of towels on the dining table and lay them out there.

        3. DouDouPaille

          I just strung up a laundry line in my shower and hang my wet clothes there to dry. I realize this may not work for every house or bathroom, but it’s at least something to consider.

        4. Ann O.

          Thanks all. Drying rack in the bathtub seems like the best option of my available ones.

          1. Blue_eyes

            We put a folding drying rack in our living room (or the bedroom if we have guests over). We have a combo washer/dryer (as in, it’s one machine that does both functions), and the dryer feature doesn’t work very well, so we air dry everything. The washer wrings everything out enough that nothing is dripping when it comes out. Things like button down shirts or nicer blouses go on hangers and get hung on the shower curtain rod.

    10. Safetykats

      I really like CAbI. The quality is good, the price is reasonable for the quality, and you do get to try on before you buy. If you don’t like the party format it’s usually not hard to find a stylist who will work with you one-on-one. (I didn’t like the party format at first, but now that I know a lot of the women at the parties I attend it’s actually a lot of fun.)

      I don’t know if Stitch Fix has different price points, but I have a couple of friends doing Stitch Fix and I’ve not been impressed with the things they have from them. They mostly look like the level of quality you’d find at Kohl’s or Ross. Of course, that could be related to their choices, not the service as a whole.

      1. cyan

        There are definitely different price points, and they also have a luxury option as well to get higher end things. My price point tends to get me Nordstrom level offerings thankfully…

    11. catsaway

      Gender/age and what are you trying to buy for? Brands like Patagonia, L.L Bean and Lands End are known for lasting a long time. I really like Levi’s for women’s jeans – they have a lot of different cuts and are still 95%/98% cotton. Eddie Bauer has reasonably priced women’s button ups that are work appropriate (no just flannel and moisture wicking hiking shirts!) I have coats from L.L. Bean and Patagonia that I really like. On the high end side, I’ve found a couple of Hugo Boss pieces deeply discounted at Nordstroms Rack (Nordstroms rack does actually have items from Nordstroms, not just outlet brands), so if you need a statement work piece or two hunting the clearance racks at your local Nordstrom’s Rack might be a good way to pick up a high quality blazer or pair of pants. FWIW, I have a Hugo Boss blazer and dress and they are both obviously well made and look good.
      Recognize that items that are closer to your body like bras and shirts just can’t last as long as sweaters and coats. Also, a white button up just won’t last like a green plaid button up since sweat stains will be more noticeable more quickly. If you have a job where you need to have a white button up (or similarly fragile item) just accept that it won’t last long.
      If you’re trying to get wardrobe staples focus on items that are less variable to the whims of fashion, such as coats, sweaters, straight leg jeans/slacks, dress work shoes and solid button up shirts. In contrast, things like ankle pants, blouses and other tops and fun dress shoes tend to change more.

    12. Cedar sage

      I am very big into clotges (I design and sew a lot of what I wear) and your observation that price doesn’t necessarily mean good materials or construction matches my assessment, too. I have two recommendations. First, it seems like Talbots actually has good stuff, as far as wovens go (don’t know about knits). Second, try a high-end consignment store. Since they only sell second-hand clothes in good condition, time will have weeded out most of the stuff that was going to fall apart right away.

    13. Hobgoblin

      I just settle on brands I like. Banana Republic outlet, Ann Taylor outlet, Eileen Fisher, stuff like that. I know exactly what size works and I don’t have to try stuff on.

      I recently read a post somewhere about a woman who wears a “uniform”- like a personal style uniform and it really appealed to me. If I had to describe my style uniform, it would be dark pants (jeans if I’m not at work), dark shirts with quirky prints, flats, and fun jewelry. So…that’s what I buy. Not the beautiful pink midi skirt or the glittery heels that are so glam, because I’ll never wear it. Like Popeye, I am who I am. My advice is to figure out what you like to wear and what you do wear and go from there.

    14. WS

      If you buy clothes slightly too big in quality (natural) fabrics, you can then have them tailored to fit pretty cheaply. I have linen pants and silk and cotton shirts I’ve been wearing regularly for over a decade and I’m pretty hard on my clothes.

    15. Jo

      I also hate shopping and have no idea how to put together an outfit. One idea I got from a friend was to concentrate on dresses. One piece of clothing as opposed to 2 or more, and you’re done. It’s also much easier to get dressed in the morning since you don’t have to worry about matching a top and a bottom. And for some reason, I find my dresses tend to last longer than pants and shirts – maybe because I’m willing to spend more on a dress generally, since it replaces 2 items of clothing?

      1. Blue_eyes

        Dresses definitely make things easier.

        If you are interested in working on putting together outfits, I highly recommend the website The Vivienne Files (not linking so this won’t go to moderation). In particular, look for her series called “Whatevers Clean 13” where she explains how to make a small wardrobe where everything goes together. The core of a lot of her work is picking a limited palette of colors for your clothes, so that everything you own goes together. Usually you pick 1-2 neutral colors, and then 2 (or more) accent colors that all go together. For instance, I chose black and gray as my neutrals, and my accent colors are purple, teal, and mint green.

        1. Epiphyta

          Janice is the best! I’m working through the French 5-Piece/Common Wardrobe in navy and gray, with plum, smoky blue and pearl gray as my accents: I work from home, and my personal style is barely a step above “got in a fight with the laundry basket and lost”, so I’m grateful for the suggestions.

    16. Middle School Teacher

      I just ordered some dresses from eShakti for the first time. I’m a bit hard to fit (short, shorter torso, curvy) and I liked that I could put in my exact measurements. I actually experimented and got one dress in a straight medium, and one with my measurements, and they both fit really well. I can’t comment on quality yet (they just arrived Friday), but I think some other people here have ordered from them? And I know they do tops and some pants too.

    17. MissDissplaced

      I’m a shopper, and rather difficult to fit, so the StitchFix things don’t work for me. What works is to find 2-3 stores that DO work snd also have online orders!
      Better quality: LandsEnd, Banana Republic, Talbots, BetaBrand, Nordstrom, Macys. I also like Soft Surroundings for flowy things.

      I think you might have to investigate what your style/fit is manually at first, but then you can shop online and save yourself the trip.

      I also shop on Ebay and get some great scores on silk blouses and tops. Some are even still with tags.

      1. MissDissplaced

        Oh! And I forgot, if you have no idea how to make an “outfit,” watch the show What Not To Wear or visit this blog called YouLookFab for put together outfits.

    18. MegKnits

      Totally late, but just in case you’re still checking. How are you washing/drying your clothes? My dryer will pretty much destroy anything within 6-10 months if I’m washing it every other week. The only things that go in it anymore are socks, pajamas and underwear pretty much.
      I have a smaller washer, so I usually do 1-2 loads of clothes laundry a week. Pants, shirts, workout gear all gets hung up after the wash. If you have a good spin cycle (and low humidity) it doesn’t take more than a day to dry. I know its a pain (I live in a 2bdrm, 1 bath condo with another human) but my clothes usually last two years.

  4. Kate Daniels

    What is your favorite place in the United States and is there a particular season/time of year you would recommend going? I want to set up a writing/relaxing/reading retreat for myself somewhere for a week sometime in the upcoming year. Unfortunately, I probably don’t have it in the budget to travel internationally.

    1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)

      I find Arizona relaxing scenery-wise, personally. I’ve only been there in spring, but if you don’t like heat then it seems like going in summer would probably be a bad idea.

      1. Mimmy

        I second Arizona! I went with my mom and sisters to Scottsdale a few years ago and the scenery just took my breath away. It was in late October and very comfortable. Yes it was in the 90s, but it was not humid.

        1. Kj

          Thirded! Northern AZ is lovely in the fall, as is Tucson. Phoenix is not the most pleasant of places, I’d recommend flying in there and driving north or south. I went to college in a town in Northern AZ and loved it. Montizuma’s well is really cool and near Sedona. Prescott is cute and quirky.

    2. nep

      This sounds like a great approach. Every region/city has got some hidden treasures. And I guess everyone’s different in what is conducive to relaxing, writing, reading. I’ll be interested to read responses here.
      Do you like woods/rural? mountains and sea?

      1. Kate Daniels

        Maybe mountains or the sea? Bodies of water always calm me down and make me happy.

        1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)

          LOL. We’re opposites, then–I find deserts relaxing. Maybe try looking in New England–there are some small resort towns on lakes that you might like. The only area I have personal experience with is the area around Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, but I’m sure there must be others. Maine also has some nice places near the ocean, although those were just day trips when I was a kid, so I don’t remember them that well.

          1. Kate Daniels

            I was thinking Maine because I went there frequently when I was a kid with my family during the summer and have many happy memories of those trips, but I might be sad going back on my own without my family.

            1. Falafal

              My favorite spot is Acadia National Park in the “Down East” section of Maine. Oceans and mountains– simply glorious scenery. Go anytime but summer and it will be very relaxing.

        2. nep

          I’ve been only once, but it felt so right and good. Cannon Beach area, Oregon. I reckon so many areas along that west coast beautiful for mountains and sea.

        3. Chameleon

          Mountains+Ocean=Pacific Northwest. Right now it’s Junuary so it’s cold and rainy, but in three weeks or so it will be glorious.

        4. King Friday XIII

          While we’re recommending the PNW, I suggest you consider the Columbia Gorge in the fall.

          Also I’ve heard people talk about a travelling retreat where they pick a nice scenic Amtrak route since you can set up with a laptop and a window view and type away. I’m not sure if you’re the kind of traveler that would work for but going up the west coast and then spending a couple days on a PNW beach sounds gorgeous to me.

          1. Cedrus Libani

            I do the Amtrak thing. Lovely introvert vacation, I don’t have anything to do or anywhere to be, I can just sit and watch the ever-changing scenery while I either read (if truly on vacation) or have a good think. If you do that, it’s more than worth getting your own personal cabin – you can properly lie down and sleep at night, and during the day, you have your own little bubble.

        5. Woodswoman

          Here’s another recommendation for the Pacific Northwest for mountains and water. The Oregon coast is lovely. And if you’re looking for something inland with mountains and lakes, the North Cascades area in Washington is beautiful. I would avoid the summer which is tourist season.

          My personal favorite time of year in the Pacific Northwest is September when the weather is mild and the days are still relatively long without the hordes of summertime. (I’m taking a three-week road trip on this route myself in September, psyched for that.) At lower elevations, October is also nice.

        6. Starley

          Nthing the PNW. If you are planning to be indoorsy and don’t mind if it’s drizzling, the Olympic peninsula is very nice. If you go during the shoulder seasons, you can do it pretty inexpensively.

          1. Epiphyta

            I live near the Peninsula; Port Townsend takes a bit of getting to and is crowded in the summer/during the film festival, but I love it. From Port Angeles you can take the Coho ferry to Victoria, BC, tour the Parliament buildings and the Butchart Gardens.

        7. Roja

          Try upstate NY around the Adirondacks in the fall? Also the Finger Lakes region, which is different (no mountains, but beautiful lakes and deep river gorges). There’s a lot of cabins for rent and such and is well set up for retreat-type things.

        8. IntoTheSarchasm

          Something quite different – Mackinac Island in Michigan. Arrive by Ferry, no cars allowed on the island, only horse-drawn carriage or bike. Close to the upper peninsula which is beautiful and woodsy. You can see the Mackinac bridge and the locks at Sault Ste. Marie are fifty miles away, as well as a border crossing into Ontario if you like. The main street of the island is a little touristy but there are lovely B&B’s and hotels, including the Grand Hotel which has a 100 foot porch and a wonderful high tea. Lots of revolutionary war history, forts and great lakes history and memorabilia.

          1. Erin

            If it rains where knee high rain boots! They don’t pick up after the horses as good as they should.

    3. Mimmy

      What about the Adirondacks in Upstate New York? I think we went a few years ago in September, and the weather was perfect. (From there, we went to Niagara Falls, which was heaven on earth.)

      1. Muriel Heslop

        I was going to suggest the Finger Lakes in the summer/ early fall but the Adirondacks are great, too!

    4. nep

      I will say the most at ease I’ve ever been as far as lodging was at an inn that used to be apartments in the lovely town of Kingston, New York. Near Saugerties. Just charmed the socks off of me, and I would go back to this area just to stay at that inn again.

        1. nep

          The Rondout Inn. Variety of suites to choose from. One of them is a former antique shop.
          Immaculate. Felt like home the second I walked in. I wanted to live there. Owners were just beyond lovely. (Clove & Creek a lovely shop right next door.) Walk along the water right up the street. I want to go back!

      1. owlie

        Haven’t been to Kingston but Skaneateles and Cazenovia in upstate NY are charming in what might be similar ways!

    5. CatCat

      I love coastal California and Half Moon Bay and a teeny town about 20-30 mins south of it called Pescadero. If I were looking for a relaxing retreat, a bed and breakfast in one of those places would be my choice. Summer is definitely the high season, but if you can do nights other than Friday or Saturday and avoid holiday weekends, they’re much les crowded. Lots of beaches nearby to relax on. Pescadero is also near a nice forested state park.

      Winter on the coast can also be really nice (though whether it will be overcast or sunny is uncertain, I actually like both) and less crowded, especially January.

      1. Woodswoman

        Agreed, the Pescadero area is a great option. Winter storms here can be dramatic and like CatCat, I like that. If you go at a time when the weather is milder and time it with low tide, a number of state parks have amazing tidepools with cool animals to check out. Inland from Pescadero are parks with redwood forests where you won’t have much company on weekdays. The one thing to note about this area is that it’s really expensive, so it depends on your budget.

    6. Sylvan

      The Outer Banks off the coast of North Carolina. Late spring or early fall when the weather is cool.

      1. PhyllisB

        I don’t know where you live, but the Smoky Mountains is a great place to relax. Cade’s Cove is beautiful if you like hiking and spotting wildlife. We’ve seen bears, foxes, eagles,ect. Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are getting too touristy and commercial, but Townsend is great; especially if you don’t go during the height of tourist season. It’s quite, got good restaurants, friendly people, and if you like tubing or canoeing that’s the place to be. My husband and I went there in January, and it was kind of empty; and some of the restaurants were closed for the season, but that didn’t bother us; the ones that were open had great food, friendly service, and they appreciated us being there. Besides, Pigeon Forge was a short drive away if we wanted something different.

    7. Ella

      I love New Orleans in the spring. It’s not terribly hot yet and the flowers bloom like you wouldn’t believe. The air smells like growing things. There’s good iced coffee. As long as you’re not there during a caterpillar year, it’s lovely.

      1. Kate Daniels

        … A caterpillar year? I am having visions of the cicada year when I lived in the mid-Atlantic… *shudder*

    8. Rogue

      Glacier National Park has been my favorite so far. It’s really a fairytale setting. Absolutely breathtaking! As for when to go? You need to go when Going to the Sun Road is open, but that means there’s going to be a significant number of people also. We went in August. It wasn’t terribly packed, like Yellowstone (also a great place), but still busy.

    9. Arrnanon

      I’m a cabin in the woods type of person, ideally with some sort of mountains and hiking, whatever time of year that particular region happens to tend to be about 65-75 degrees during the day so it’s not too hot to hike but also not particularly chilly. For a retreat I’d think about choosing a destination you can get to with the most relaxing travel mode, whatever that mode is for you. Pretty much every area of the US has some sort of lovely retreat area, I’ve found a fit for me from Maine to Seattle to Arkansas

    10. CBE

      If you like mountains, you can often get ski lodging cheaply in the summer. Even cheaper in spring and fall! And they tend to be quiet and beautiful, too.

    11. Loopy

      I have to admit this is specific and fairly tiny place but it’s my favorite place ever: block island off the coast of Rhode Island. It’s 40% conservation land and the houses there are very picturesque, lots of greenery in the form of rolling hills and various woodland holing areas and plenty of ocean views. I like late late spring or right after labor day to avoid mopeds and tourists. It’s my happy place.

    12. Annie Moose

      Come to Michigan! We have some lovely very large bodies of water, but it’s generally cheaper and less crowded than a lot of the East or West Coasts. Summer or early fall is the best time of year; it’s when it’s busiest as well, but busy for Michigan is basically empty for Rhode Island, Massachusetts, etc. Michigan never gets all that warm–it can hit the 90s, but usually stays in the 70s and 80s. Northern Michigan in particular is absolutely beautiful–the Traverse City area and the Sleeping Bear Dunes is pretty much my favorite place on Earth. (it’s also a little cooler, more likely to be in the 70s than 80s)

      If you don’t want to go quite that far north in Michigan, Grand Haven and Muskegon are pretty nice, and if you want to go to the east side of the state, the Tawas area is a good choice. (although Lake Michigan beaches–on Michigan’s west coast–are nicer than Lake Huron ones)

      If you REALLY want to roadtrip, then there’s also the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, which is just gorgeous pretty much no matter where you go.

        1. MTUMoose

          The UP in winter is awesome as well. Just have to be able to handle snow and cold. Nothing like the Northern lights on a quiet still night.

      1. selenejmr

        And Mackinac Island! Breezes off of the straits to keep you cool, bats keeping the bug population down. It’s wonderful there.

        1. Annie Moose

          I’ve gone to Mackinac Island almost every summer since I was born (three times, one memorable summer…), and I still have never gotten bored of it. I could literally just go there, sit on the lawn below the fort, peoplewatch while eating fudge, and I would be perfectly content.

          It’s heaven!

      2. IntoTheSarchasm

        I wrote an earlier post regarding Mackinac and agree with these suggestions as well. I live on the west coast of Michigan, between Muskegon and Traverse City but the whole coast has something to offer. Sleeping Bear is amazing.

      3. Erin

        Boyne city and Lake charlevoix are gorgeous. The north west corner of the mitten from grand traverse bay to little traverse bay on the Lake Michigan coast is like a combination of wooded hill country and beach towns in the summer. Winters are tough if you don’t like hunting snowmobiles or skiing.

      4. Miss Elaine e

        As a lifelong Michiganian with ties to both the Upper and Lower Peninsulas, I am unreasonably excited to read so many great comments about my home state. Mackinac Island is my favorite place on earth and the rest of our state ain’t bad either!

    13. Perfectly Particular

      Charleston, SC is a favorite of mine. I’ve only been in the summer, so I can’t speak to the best season.

    14. MTUMoose

      Try the West Coast of Michigan. Anywhere from South Haven to Traverse City. Great beaches on Lake Michigan, beautiful places to hike or explore. Lots of history in the area. Plenty of B&Bs or hotels. Great food options and lots of local breweries and wineries. Easy to fly or drive to as well. Plus Lake Michigan is freash water so no sharks ;)

    15. Tara2

      So, I live in Canada and haven’t seen much of the US. But, on a road trip from Ontario to Nova Scotia, my now-ex and I decided to forgo the boring Quebec-New Brunswick route and travel through Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

      And oh my god did I ever fall in love with New Hampshire. Particularly the White Mountain National Forest. It is just gorgeous. We went in the summer and it was lovely, but where we stayed near Conway it was clearly set up as a winter retreat, so I still plan on visiting it sometime during its peak season.

    16. gecko

      Madison, WI in the summer is gorgeous. There’s people-activity if you want people-activity, but there are also beautiful lakes and nature everywhere.

      1. Trixie

        I’m from Madison and it truly is a find. Not so big to have nightmare traffic and you can bike, hike, etc without driving two hours first. Very hard to find cities with such easy access that are also affordable.

    17. KR

      I love all the new Hampshire suggestions here and I have to agree because I am from NH. Also, it’s pretty cheap to visit – no sales tax! You will need a car to get around so keep that in mind while budgeting. Boston Logan Airport is the nearest large airport. There’s a small one in Manchester NH but it will be more expensive to fly into.

    18. Mike C.

      Pacific coast in winter. WA/OR. Incredibly inexpensive, few people around and amazing.

    19. danr

      Maine, in the Boothbay area. There are small bed and breakfasts and small hotels for staying in. Good food in all price ranges and plenty of places to just sit, read and relax. If you need to shop, go to Freeport and stop in at LL Bean and the outlets there. Best time to go is late spring, late summer or early to mid September.

    20. Max from St. Mary's

      I know you said that international is too pricey, but you might be surprised. There are some great all-inclusive Mexican resorts that are really affordable, especially in the off season, and you can usually get a package deal with airfare. Last month I spent 5 days in Cabo and the air plus hotel with food and drink was less than air and a cheap hotel in most US cities, plus I got the beach.

    21. Pie for Breakfast

      I’ll jump on the PNW bandwagon, I moved here for the outdoors and beauty. And people.
      Central coast of Oregon is beautiful and just far enough away from Portland to not have as many tourists. There’s the coast and lakes and forests and rivers. Late summer and fall is a great time. I like going in winter but it’s a different experience.
      Also in Oregon, the Wallowa Mountain area in Northeast is really nice. The town of Joseph is a hub for sculptural arts, Wallowa lake is nearby with cabins and rentals. Tons of hiking.
      The San Juan Islands off of Washington are also quite nice and can be really quiet in the off season.

    22. Aurora Leigh

      Bf and I went to Dinosaur Valley Sate Park in TX as part of our April vacation and it was so lovely! Green amd warm and the water was so clear and perfect for wading, we want to go back when we can spend more time! Also dinosaur tracks! We tent camped amd it was the most beautiful night sky.

    23. catsaway

      Oregon coast! Depending on where you are you can rent a small studio/cabin for under $100 night and you can go in the height of summer and the high will be at most 75F. Look around Yachats. There are also pleanty of ‘resorts’ in the Oregon cascades where you can rent a cabin. There are some nice lakes and hot springs with resorts around them. That’s definitely a summer activity, snow can last a while there.

    24. Mallory

      Depending on where you live, don’t rule out international. Boston to Ireland can be less than Boston to the west coast. And with air BNB you can get great lodging.

      If you’re in Atlanta or another major east coast hub you may have some great European options.

    25. Hobgoblin

      For relaxing, I like the Outer Banks in the winter. I went in February once and it was so beautiful and peaceful.

    26. Lcsa99

      Granted, we love wine, but my husband and I absolutely love going to the North Fork of Long Island. It’s got plenty of beach options that are not as expensive or crowded as the Hamptons, delicious wine, and beautiful wineries. It’s so rejuvenating to sit at the wineries sipping wine and a picnic or snack. A lot of the wineries offer live music when the weather is nice. It’s not for everyone, but we love it.

    27. cleo

      For mountains – the Smoky Mountains! The National Park is beautiful year round, but especially during spring wildflower season. The nearby towns include charming Asheville and gloriously tacky Gatlinburg.

      For bodies of water – I agree with all of the Great Lakes recs and want to add Door County, WI which is lovely in the spring and fall. It’s a peninsula extending into Lake Michigan with multiple state parks and lots of options.

    28. Falling Diphthong

      Generic recommendation for early fall, when school opens and vacation numbers go down.

      Recent trips where I would happily return, get an Airbnb for a week, and enjoy just being mostly at home in a pleasant spot. Mountains: Bend, Oregon. Sea: Outer Banks, North Carolina.

    29. Blue_eyes

      Another PNW recommendation – Leavenworth, WA. Leavenworth is on the east side of the Cascade Mountains, about a 2 hour drive east from Seattle. From Leavenworth, there are lots of options: go up in the mountains for hiking, go white water rafting on the Wenatchee river, go further east for desert climate. Leavenworth itself is charming in that it’s decorated like a Bavarian village. And there are lots of options for lodging all the way from resorts/hotels right in town, to camping or renting a cabin outside town.

    30. Kuododi

      I’m in Louisville, KY and Derby weekend plus all the activities the week leading up to the Derby….(Steamboat race, Pegasus Parade, Balloon Glow,…not to mention all the food.). KY Derby is always the first Saturday in May.

  5. Detective Amy Santiago

    I saw Ocean’s 8 yesterday and it was fantastic! Anyone else seen it yet?

      1. Marion Ravenwood

        I liked the first one of the series with George Clooney etc, but not so much the sequels. Looking forward to Ocean’s 8 though! Although there are way too many films out that I want to see at the moment…

    1. PlantLady

      Date Night was last night and we had to decide between Ocean’s 8 and Solo…we went with Solo, and then wished we hadn’t. But, there’s another Date Night next Friday, so we’ll see Ocean’s 8 then!

      1. LCL

        Same thing happened with us. His turn to pick so it was Solo. My turn next week and it will be Ocean’s 8.

    2. Triumphant Fox

      Yes! Loved it. We saw it on a whim Thursday night since it was a particularly hard day and it was the perfect thing to cheer us up! I loved the parallels with the first movie. All the eating!

    3. DoctorateStrange

      I saw it last night. It was a delight. I think what stood out to me was how none of the women had to have dark, miserable backgrounds to do what they wanted to do. I never realized how most movies about women doing crimes are usually because they were abused in their pasts. This movie never punishes these women for being ambitious and pulling the things they do and I love it.

      Also, I always found Anne Hathaway at her best when she performs characters that are hot messes and/or snarky. It is interesting how people still get surprised to this day by just how well she does in these type of roles. She was great in Rachel Getting Married, let me tell you.

  6. DC Real Estate

    Does anyone have recommendations for either lenders who are goodnwith FHA loans and the related processes in the DC area?
    And similarly if you loved your real estate agent for DC proper I’d love to have their name if you’re willing to share!

  7. Release the horcruxes

    I signed up as a contributor to royal news site Royal Circular. Excited to start writing on one of my favorite topics!

    1. Marion Ravenwood

      How exciting! Getting to write about something you love is the best :) Will you be writing about any particular royals or topics? Also will you come up with/research the stories or will the site send them to you and then you write them up? (Sorry for all the questions but this sounds so interesting!)

      1. Release the horcuxes

        Hi! I will research the articles on any topic I want, then it is submitted to review and published on the site. I want to write about the British and Scandinavian monarchies as well as little known facts/people that have been associated with royals. Should be fun!

          1. Release the horcuxes

            Thanks! I submitted the first article yesterday and am awaiting feedback from the editor.

      1. Release the horcuxes

        Because for thousands of years the fate of nations have been decided by royal politics, and the institution lives on today in many different forms.

  8. Violaine

    Doing massive housecleaning this weekend in preparation for moving later this month. It’s hard to part with stuff, but that’s just it… it’s just stuff. Someday I will probably be beeildered that I ever spent more than a few minutes questioning why I needed seven mixing bowls.

    Picked up a book recently about the art of Swedish death cleaning, but haven’t gotten around to it just yet. Now would probably be a good time.

    1. Violaine

      Annnd I thought I proofread my comment before posting. That should be “bewildered”.

    2. Kate Daniels

      This is my project for the summer! I live in a small studio apartment, so I have a storage unit with all of my extra “stuff,” but I would really like to be able to clear it out and stop paying/wasting $25/mo. I have a lot of clothes I want to donate, but it is somewhat challenging to find a place to drop off items where I don’t need a car to get there and that are open at times when I am not at work. I have a bunch of suits I’d like to donate because I’m now working at a place that is not business formal, but some of the places around here require you to get them dry cleaned and put them on hangers before donating… it’s hard to justify spending a ton of money to donate something! I would love to be a minimalist type (at least after moving several times in the past five years, I’ve learned to no longer buy physical books!).

      1. Reba

        In my area there are organizations that will pick up donations from your home… is that perhaps a possibility?

        Good luck with the cleanout!

        1. King Friday XIII

          Yes! We used the pick up option when we were getting rid of everything in preparation for a cross-country move and it was a huge time saver.

      2. Woodswoman

        Also, depending on where you live, Freecycle may be an option. It’s a listserv for giving away free stuff that has groups around the country. You can both post for things you’re giving away, or ask for things that you need. I’ve done both, and it’s worked out well.

    3. Chameleon

      I had never heard of “Swedish death cleaning” and immediately pictured the members of Dethklok dressed up in aprons and feather dusters…

    4. Damn it, Hardison!

      I’m doing a massive purge this week -while I’m on vacation! I have been looking forward to it for months. My reward will be a trip to The Container Store and IKEA for thins to organize my remaking stuff. I’m also intrigued by that book. I have a couple of relatives that I wish would read it, but sending it to them might be just a tad rude. Good luck!

    5. fposte

      I confess I liked the idea of Swedish death cleaning better than the book. But the struggle is definitely real.

      I think the big hump for me was realizing that having a need for something I’d gotten rid of was not as bad as keeping stuff around that I didn’t need; I’d operated by avoiding the first at all costs and realized that wasn’t getting me a good life. The other realization was that even if I kept only things that I liked and were in decent condition, I’d still have too much crap, so that wasn’t a useful dividing line. As long as you’re not rushed, moving is likely to be a really good way to trim down to stuff that matters most, so I hope it ends up being a good process for you.

      1. King Friday XIII

        I’m reminded of another book, Decluttering at the Speed of Life, where the author has two key questions and one of them is “If I needed this, would I even know I owned it?” Sure I could keep these things I might need, but if I need those shoe stretchers in three years, will it occur to me I have some and will I be able to find them? If not… probably better to accrue the thrift karma of giving them away now, since I’ll probably be shopping for new ones if and when I need them anyway.

        1. fposte

          For me a lot of the process has been about rewiring my loss and reward circuits, so I love your idea of “thrift karma.” I’ll look for that book.

        2. Elspeth McGillicuddy

          Ha! I’d remember I’d owned it, but not necessarily if I’d got rid of it. Or if I still had it, where it was.

          Many times have I searched for that one thing, only to finally remember I tossed it years back.

          Minds, they are funny things.

    6. Anonymosity

      Oh man, I really need to do this. If I have to move unexpectedly, packing will be a nightmare. So far I’ve managed to move some stuff out to the garage but not get rid of it completely. I think a sale is in order.

    7. Jaid

      I had to deal with bed bugs earlier this year and still haven’t unpacked the majority of treated boxes. All the things I have and other than some cleaning supplies, batteries, and some painkillers, I just haven’t needed them…

  9. Bibliovore

    Sick with asthma and bronchitis. Good news, better living through chemistry, 2 inhalers, a round of antibiotics, a round of steroids. Hulu and Netflix.

    Recommendations for binge watching between naps?
    I like the Jessica Jones, Timeless, Younger, Fosters, Bosch, Frankie and Grace, Elementary.

    1. Marion Ravenwood

      That sucks :( I hope you feel better soon.

      Have you watched any of the other Marvel shows on Netflix? That might be a good place to start if you like Jessica Jones. Otherwise I always like to watch comedies when I’m sick – usually something I’ve seen a lot like Friends or How I Met Your Mother. I find there’s something strangely comforting about it.

    2. Annie Moose

      I just started The Good Place and love it, so of course I have to recommend it! It’s extremely funny, and episodes are only 20 minutes so it’s easy to watch.

    3. Ella

      If you are interested in slightly lighter murder-fare, I liked Father Brown. I just finished the first season of Daredevil which of course is right up the Jessica Jones alley.

      Not sure if it’s still on Netflix but if you want something totally dark but also really good, Luther (with Idris Elba) was great. Broadchurch was probably the best crime serial I’ve seen for awhile but it’ll stick to you.

      My roommate really likes Doc Martin and Death in Paradise. They haven’t snagged me like they have him, but they’re in the “british episodic crime drama” family.

      Also Master Chef and the Great British Bake Off.

      1. WellRed

        I really loved Broadchurch and yes, it sticks. Have you tried Marcella or Happy Valley?

      2. Bibliovore

        I have been thinking about Broadchurch for a while. Doc Martin, I wanted to love but didn’t enough to watch more.

      3. Chaordic One

        Interesting trivia: I can’t believe that it took me so long to figure this out and recognize him, but the actor who plays “Father Brown” is the same man who played the part of Ron Weasley’s father in the Harry Potter movies.

    4. Lily Evans

      If you liked Jessica Jones, you might like Wynonna Earp on Netflix. It’s a tad campy, but enjoyable for a binge, plus season 2 was just added today!

    5. KatieKate

      I’m sensing a theme of strong ladies who occasionally kick ass :) How about Nikita? I’m rewatching it right now on Netflix and it’s a ton of fun.

    6. Chameleon

      If you like campy sci-fi, Dark Matter is pretty good. It starts off a little slow but is pretty light fare and entertaining. In a similar note, if you have Amazon Prime, we’ve been watching The Expanse and like it a lot.

      1. catsaway

        The Expanse is awesome – I also really like the books.
        I liked Dark Matter at first but then I didn’t like where the story went. I couldn’t care enough to watch season 2.

    7. Detective Amy Santiago

      One Day at a Time on Netflix is awesome.

      Also, Brooklyn Nine Nine on Hulu :)

    8. Woodswoman

      If you like vintage, I’m a fan of the 1960s British series The Avengers with Patrick McNee and Diana Rigg. Great mix of wit and mystery. Hope you feel better soon!

      1. Bibliovore

        hah- Timeless. just finished the last one. Was it renewed? Saddened by the loss of the Librarians.

    9. AnonEMoose

      If you haven’t seen it, I’d definitely recommend “Stranger Things.” I watched Season 1 while recovering from gall bladder surgery, and it held my attention and took my mind off the pain. I liked Season 2 even better than I liked Season 1.

      In the British mystery category, I really like “Midsomer Murders.” Episodes are about 90 minutes, and there are a bunch of seasons, but they’re usually about 6 episodes per season.

  10. BugSwallowersAnonymous

    I have an awkward situation I’d love some advice on. When I’m staying with my family, I get together fairly often with my good friend Sasha from childhood. Our families are friends with each other too, so sometimes at those gatherings, my friend’s grandmother is there. A couple times she’s said to me, in front of my friend and others, “I always told Sasha, I don’t know she could have a friend like you. You’re so [long list of compliments and perceived achievements].” This always makes me feel super awkward and I never know how to respond! I feel like the implication is that Sasha’s grandmother doesn’t think Sasha has these qualities, i.e. is comparing me favorably to her. She’s done that in the past with her own children. But obviously I think Sasha is amazing and I don’t want her to feel bad! Not to mention, it’s just a weird and unnecessary thing to say. Is there anything I can say in the moment to diffuse?

    1. UtOh!

      Wow, what a crappy dynamic, some relatives can be so obtuse when it comes to their own.
      How about replying back how amazing you think Sasha is…lather, rinse, repeat? :)

    2. Sunny Day in the ADK

      My mom can be like that. She actually did it once in front of my in-laws, one of the first times they met. My father-in-law was the best at handling it. My mom was calling me stupid and he just kept saying something like “Oh, I don’t find Sunny stupid at all! She’s actually very intelligent” He basically kept repeating that until my mom stopped.

    3. Not So NewReader

      “Grandma, you have mentioned this before. I am thinking that like attracts like because Sasha is [long list of compliments here].”
      “Grandma, I must say *I* am the fortunate one to have such a good friend as your granddaughter.”
      “Grandma, I hang out with Sasha because she is where I want to be in life. I want to do things in the style and with the finesse that she does.”

    4. Anono-me

      That does sound like you’re in a very uncomfortable position.

      Since it is your friend’s grandmother and not yours, I would probably keep it light but respond with something like, “Thank you, birds of a feather flock together. ” or “Thanks, like to like.” or something of that nature.

      Also, have you considered that this may be an awkward attempt at doing the ‘praise trade’? This is where someone praises you (or one of your’s) effusivly, then you in turn praise them ( or theirs’) effusivly. Even, if it’s not an awkward attempt at doing a ‘praise trade’; you could also respond by acting as if it were.

    5. I'm A Little Teapot

      Honestly, it sounds like Sasha’s grandmother isn’t actually very nice. “Wow, that’s an unkind thing to say about your granddaughter” + start talking to someone else, bonus points if it’s Sasha. That’ll return awkward to sender and point out publicly how unkind it was to say, but be non-confrontational. and I feel bad for Sasha if that’s the treatment she gets from her grandmother!

    6. Thlayli

      I’m wondering if there is a cultural difference there? I’ve had comments like that from elderly ladies in the family of a friend from a different culture. In some cultures complimenting others is expected and it is expected to put yourself and your family down and compliment others. It’s not to be taken literally that she doesn’t think Sasha is as good as you, it’s just how manners work in that culture. If you were from the same culture as her, you would probably reply, oh no I’m nothing special, Sasha is the wonderful one blah blah blah. Also remember culture can be different in different generations too.

      If there is no culture difference and she genuinely believes that Sasha isn’t good enough to have a friend like you, then that’s really weird.

      Why not ask Sasha How she feels about it and what she thinks her grandmothers intention is in repeatedly saying this?

    7. Mamaganoush

      Thank you. I feel so lucky to have a friend like Sasha!

      You can say a version of that every time

  11. Eve

    What are some professional shoe brands/links for someone with flat feet (need arch support)? It’s really hard to find good heels that actually fit and don’t cause knee pain, but don’t look like running shoes/sandals!

    1. Chameleon

      I have the opposite problem (high arches) but I adore Merrills. They aren’t cheap, but totally worth it in my opinion. They aren’t super dressy in general, but the clogs/mary janes usually are perfectly professional.

    2. Middle School Teacher

      I actually like Crocs. There are some really cute ones now that don’t look like the old clunky clogs. They’re pretty comfy. I wear orthotics most of the time now, but in the summer, I live in my Crocs flip-flops.

    3. Red Reader

      I don’t know the fine points of arch support specifically, but I have weird feet in other ways (wide toes, narrow heels, one foot is a half size off from the other, just to start) and I’ve recently fallen in love with Rothys flats. They’re not cheap, but they look nice, they come in a million colors, they’re machine washable and suited to take insoles, and on Thursday I opened the delivery box containing a new pair, put them on and went straight out for a three mile walk – the things wear like sneakers. I’ve worn them around conferences, Disneyworld and everyday wear and never had any issues at all.

      (And if anyone does want to give them a try, I have a referral link for $20 off, though I’m not sure the etiquette of sharing such a link as it’s one of the “you get $20 off and so do I” variety, so only on request I suppose.)

      1. Jane of all Trades

        Oh I was just researching them this morning and would love to pick your brain – based on the research it seems to me that some people find that they get smelly easily, and that they can be high in the back, causing chafing. Has that been your experience?

        1. Red Reader

          I could see them potentially getting smelly, but that’s where the machine washable comes in, I haven’t had any problems to date though. I think, if you were prone to foot stink, it’s be very easy to rinse them out overnight, they dry very quickly. The material they’re made of is fairly breathable, I find.

          As far as the chafing – again, no problems at all, either in regular everyday use or conference wear or taking a brand new pair out of the box and immediately walking three miles in them.

    4. Trixie

      Lifestride (DSW, Amazon, etc.) offers decent selection at affordable prices and they last. After three years of solid wear, I’m just now replacing heal tips. “Active arch” design is my favorite and I wish I could find replacement inserts.

    5. Cristina in England

      I have flat feet too and I love FitFlops (especially their boots, but anything on the original microwobbleboard) and Dansko. I also wear Brooks Adrenaline running shoes and Addiction walking shoes.

      1. Woodswoman

        I second Brooks Addiction shoes, which were recommended to me by a podiatrist. While they’re not shoes with heels, they are professional looking for work if you’re wearing pants.

    6. AnotherJill

      It really depends on your foot strike. Do you pronate (roll inward, so your shoe bottoms show more wear on the inside), supinate (roll outward, so your shoe bottoms show more wear on the outside), or have a neutral strike when your foot hits the ground?

      Most flat footers pronate, but a few of us supinate, which tends to throw all the models for shoe buying out the door. I have supremely flat feet but supinate, so most shoes with arch correction end up being very painful.

      If you can afford it, having an evaluation by a podiatrist who can potentially make orthotics fitted to your particular circumstance may help the most. Otherwise, figure out what your foot strike pattern is and do a search with those terms. I’ve found some reasonably well fitting walking shoes that way.

    7. Thursday Next

      I’m always on the quest for flat foot friendly shoes. One word of advice given to me by my great podiatrist: don’t wear absolutely flat shoes; they’re not actually good for feet.

      I’ve had some luck with Sanita and Orthaheel, but the ones I’ve had don’t accommodate orthotics. At this point I’m pretty much living in running shoes.

  12. Annie Moose

    I have a dumb situation that I’m pretty sure there isn’t a tactful solution to, so maybe this comment is just to rant (although if you have a way to resolve it without going down the feared “have an awkward conversation” route, let me know).

    So, I go over to my aunt’s house for dinner one day a week, most of the time. We go to the same church and my aunt and uncle are the closest family to me, and I’ve always been pretty close with them and their kids, so it’s nice to go over and have dinner with them before church. The problem is that my aunt has… shall we say… different opinions on gender roles and housework than I do. By which I mean that two of their sons who still live with them can literally be sitting in the kitchen next to her, and she will call out to me in the living room to help her set the table.

    On one hand: of course I don’t mind helping out! It’s free food, after all, and moving dishes from the counter to the table is not arduous labor.

    But it really, deeply bugs me that she will literally ask any woman in the house to help with dinner–up to and including guests she barely knows, I have witnessed this happen–before she will ask HER OWN CHILDREN to help her. Merely because the children in question are male. (of course if any of her daughters are present, they get asked to help) On principle, I want to be like, “why can’t your OWN CHILDREN do this instead of ME, WHO IS TECHNICALLY A GUEST.” But obviously I can’t just say this, and she would almost certainly interpret it as me not wanting to help her (which isn’t true–I wouldn’t mind if not for the sexism), not as a call to re-examine how she thinks about gender roles.

    I’ve gotten to the point where I’ll pretend I don’t hear her, go elsewhere in the house when she’s setting the table, act surprised when she asks me to help… but these are not going to address the underlying issue. I know the easiest method for familial harmony is to just keep my mouth shut and help her, but… I hate reinforcing the idea that it’s normal and acceptable to ask random women to help prepare a meal in favor of your own male children. And I especially hate reinforcing this idea in front of my cousins who are present, as they’re still teenagers.

    (and yeah–setting the table is a pretty minor thing as far as sexism goes. But it’s part of a deeper pattern with this aunt and uncle that I want no part of; it’s already caused a great deal of trouble for one of their daughters.)

    1. CatCat

      If you’re trying to avoid the awkward conversation, why don’t you start recruiting one or both of the cousins to participate?”

      “Hey Bran, I’m going to grab the napkins and start setting them out. Could you grab the silverware?”

      “Hey Rickon, Could you put out glasses for everyone while I grab the silverware?”

      “Hey Bran and Rickon, Aunt needs the table set, could you lend me a hand that?”

      “Hey Bran and Rickon, Aunt asked for the table to be set. I just remembered I forgot to [make some important phone call, like cancel an appointment before a business closes], could you set the table so I can go deal with that?” Then leave the room and pretend to make a call. Doesn’t have to be a real call and you can be “on hold” for a while.

      1. Jane of all Trades

        Agree with this suggestion! I’d do it cheerfully and be like “Jim, Bob, can you take the plates and the glasses while I take the pots, that way we’ll have the cleanup done in no time!”
        That said, I think if you get a lot of push back on this I’d probably let it go because you’re a guest, but I totally agree with you on the principle.
        Or maybe you could even try saying something like this after dinner “auntie, thanks for the lovely dinner, why don’t you stay while Jim, Bob and I take care of the dishes”

    2. matcha123

      Can you say something like, “Sure, I can do X and Bob and Joe can do Y and Z” and see how she responds? Or, “How about getting Bob and Joe to help out so things go faster? Then when they’re away in college, they will be a step above their peers.”
      Or even, “I’m feeling a bit sick today, can Bob and Joe take over?”

      Would that type of response be okay?

    3. HannahS

      So, two things. One, you’re right, it sucks. I completely agree. I’m sometimes hosted for Shabbat by some Very Orthodox People and usually the women do kitchen work as the men continued their interesting coversation that I want to be a part of but can’t, unless I refuse to help my host. And the pre-dinner prayer service is separated by gender, so I’m literally separated from the men by a screen, because the presence of my body in the same room could distract them. UGH. Sexism is frustrating and awful. I really respect that you don’t want to enact it in front of your cousins, and I think the suggestion that you ask them to help you is a good one. “Sure, Auntie, I’ll help set the table. John, why don’t you grab the salad, and James, maybe the cutlery? I’ll take the plates.” And then talk to the boys, ask them about their lives, etc. while you do it; make it feel as natural and casual as possible–you’re not Making A Statement by putting the boys to work, you just want to spend time talking with them.

      However. It’s not ok to pretend not to hear your aunt when she asks you for help. I think you’re now frustrated to the point that you’re not being a good guest. You go over regularly and you’re family; you should be offering to help, and that would be still be true if your aunt wasn’t sexist. I know you’re frustrated and I get that, but in my mind, there’s an element of playing by house rules. For me, it grates to be praying in the women’s section; I was raised in egalitarian congregations. But I don’t skip that portion and then expect to be fed and hosted without participating. My hosts go to considerable effort and expense to make me welcome; it’s not nice to just be a guest on my terms, you know? So try to include the boys, but if it doesn’t work, I think your choice is to either go and help, stop going to dinner entirely, or talk to your aunt about your feelings.

      1. Observer

        One thing about your hosts. If they actually expect women to do all the work and the boys to do nothing, they are pretty unusual. Even in households where the women do all the serving, the guys are expected to help out, at other points, such as with setting the table or cleaning up.

        I don’t know ANYONE who actually would ask a new guest to help before asking their own children. I’m sure such people exist because there are all sorts of crazy in the world. But at least in the Orthodox world, that’s a real outlier.

        1. HannahS

          I didn’t say or imply that men and boys in Orthodox homes do no housework. In the very traditional Orthodox homes I’ve been in for big meals (and I’m talking about my own relatives and mentors and friends, not just a random Chabad family I met once) I and other female guests are expected to help the hostess and her female children (because if you have five, chances are there’s a girl present) set out food, serve it, and help clean up after while the boys and men sit and socialize. Are the host and male children setting up the extra tables and chairs? I assume so. Are they working after I leave? Probably. But when there are more than 15 people, the hostess and her 2-3 female children need the help of guests to bring and serve all the food, and it falls upon the women. My point is that this is unfair, but if I’m mad about it I can either shrug and continue to help out (which I’d offer to do for any host), delegate to a boy, speak up, or not accept invitations. I shrug and continue to help, because I appreciate what they do for me and I’m too awkward to try to change things in someone else’s home.

    4. ExcelJedi

      Is this something you can talk about when you’re not in the moment? Like, help when she asks (and stop pretending not to hear!) and then have a one-on-one discussion about it when it’s not actually happening. Try being non-judgmental about it, be open to her disagreeing with you, and if she does disagree, understand that it’s her house and her rules. If you ever have these kinds of dinners at your own house, you can make the rules.

      (And maybe you’d feel better if you hosted sometimes, so you get to model the kind of world you’d prefer.)

    5. Drama Llama

      Keep it light hearted. “Dude, come over here and do the dishes. It’s 2018, boys do housework too!”

      BTW, you’d be doing them a massive favour. If I married a man who sat around while expecting me to clean after him plates will be thrown.

    6. Earthwalker

      Will those boys someday find themselves in the awkward situation of wanting to invite someone special for supper but they don’t know how to cook or set the table? I’ve met a number of men who never learned those basic skills and feel embarrassed about their limitations. Could you ask your aunt if they at least know how?

      1. Observer

        Odds are that Aunt would be HORRIFIED at the idea that her sons might ever need to be able to cook for themselves. I mean WHAT KIND OF GIRLS DO YOU THINK THEY ARE GOING TO MARRY!?!?!

    7. Anu

      My own feeling on this matter is that it’s OK to be a bit rude to make the point. After all, your aunt is being rude when she asks you to help out when her own sons are right there.

      My own experience of this was when we visited paternal relatives. There was a (thankfully unspoken) expectation that all women, and teenage girls, would go help out in the kitchen, while the men sat around talking. This was incidentally in India, but I’ve seen the same dynamic many places. My mom would just remain completely impervious to social pressure and continue sitting in the living room. She would be completely pleasant about it, but she just wouldn’t go. And certainly as a girl, I sometimes wished she would just go help out like the other moms, but it was a point that needed to be made and I’m glad she made it. If I asked her about it, she would talk about gendered norms and tell me I’d understand better when I was older – and it’s true I do understand better.

      Of course, your situation is tougher, where you’re being directly asked to do something. If I were you, I’d pleasantly say, how about we get the sons to help out, I have an urgent email to write. And then directly enlist the sons. And yes, slightly rude, but these things can’t be allowed to continue unchecked.

      1. TL -

        Yes, this. It’s okay – in family, at least – to be a little rude or simply to value your own time. You’re close enough to them that you should be able to enlist the boys’ help or say, “Sorry, aunt, I’m in the middle of a conversation/tv show/whatever. Can you ask Bryan or Joe?”

        It is totally okay to not perform gendered expectations just because they’re expected. At work and in shared living situations I magically become blind to messes in communal areas. Does the mess get pointed out to me more often than any of the men? Absolutely. But I respond by a) agreeing that there is a mess and b) saying that I always clean up my own mess, so I’m not sure where the problem is coming from.

  13. Mimmy

    One more week until my trip!!! *takes a deep breath* You can do this Mimmy!! Hubby and I leave on Friday for a family event; then on Sunday, I fly to the conference, which goes until Wednesday.

    Any suggestions for preventing, or at least minimizing, the inevitable post-trip let down? I’ve been building up to this for several months and, given my tendency to crash back to earth after a long-awaited event, know that the few days after I return are going to suuuuuck. Not to mention that I’ll probably get very overstimulated.

    I’m trying not to get too stressed out with the pre-planning, but I worry that I won’t look my best or I’ll forget to consider certain things, like how I’m getting from point A to point B.

    1. nep

      Best advice: Stop overthinking and stop projecting. I know–easier said than done. But really you can grind yourself into the ground with too much projecting about how this moment will be and how that moment will be. (I’m speaking to myself here too. I tend to do it about everything and I’m working on it; I’m always better off when I prepare as I must in a practical way, but then not obsess and project.)
      Flow through it. Know that you will be equipped at every point to make it through and make it work.

      1. nep

        (i.e. best advice that comes to mind, that I can offer…didn’t mean ‘best advice.’)
        SEE! Obsessing.

    2. Not So NewReader

      Post-trip let down: Debrief here next week. You will probably be tired also, let the fatigue help you to land.

      There will probably be a moment or two where you will not look your best. No one will care. Just like you don’t care that they do not look their best.
      You will probably forget something. And it will be okay because someone will help you or you will quickly see an alternative solution.
      I wish you safe travel. Take time each day to just be mellow,read or sip tea and be still, even if it’s just 15 minutes or so.
      I think you will have a great time.

      1. nep

        ‘No one will care. Just like you don’t care that they do not look their best.’
        Such important insight here. This can apply to so many things.

    3. WS

      I haven’t found any way to actually prevent post-event crash, but I think preparing for it is very helpful. Having a clean house and some food (even very basic food like crackers) available when I get back, not having any extra chores or appointments those days, etc. Then you may still crash, but you’ve got a clean bed to crash in!

      1. Chris, Aotearoa

        My biggest tip is to make sure you have something else to look forward to! If you can afford it, it’s nice to have another trip in a few months booked – and if not, at least planned and diaried in. And maybe an excursion – to an exhibition, a cafe somewhere you don’t visit often, the movies, a park? the weekend following your return?

        1. Mimmy

          Actually, I do have another trip a couple of weeks later at a lake house in Georgia with my family. I will definitely have that to look forward to.

          WS – I’m attending a party a couple of days after I get back, but I’m rethinking that. Not because of your post – I was rethinking it already. But the woman giving the party probably already gave her final head count to the venue. I’ll play it by ear.

  14. Llama Grooming Coordinator

    Weekly running thread!

    I’ve done a lot about myself, so…this week, I’ll ask about your favorite routes or types of routes. Do you prefer pathways? Parks? Trails? Along the water? Hills? Flats?

    Also, as always, races!

    1. Marion Ravenwood

      I tend to like parks – for me depending what time of day I go, they’re a nice balance between having something interesting to look at to distract me from the running or being oddly peaceful, which sometimes is what you want. Plus the changing seasons means there’s always something new to look at. I prefer flats, ideally with grass rather than pavement/tarmac, but that’s because I’m lazy :)

      No races for me this week (I’m waiting for my virtual running club to announce their next one!). I did go to parkrun today though, but only as a volunteer – I was timekeeping, which is a bit of a scary job, but thankfully it all went smoothly so I feel a bit more confident about it now.

      1. Llama Grooming Coordinator

        First of all, I’m glad everything went well! Hopefully you’ll be less nervous the next time you volunteer.

        Anyway, I think parks are pretty cool – although it depends on the park. Generally, there isn’t any vehicle traffic to deal with, which is awesome (although you still have cyclists – although cyclists will say they have runners and walkers to worry about!). On the other hand, it might just be my area and my schedule (I’m mostly an afternoon/evening runner), but there are times when things can get a little chaotic.

        Hills: Hills are one of those things that are an acquired taste, I’ve found. I’ll do hilly easy runs and long runs, but unless it’s an actual hill workout, I prefer to keep my workouts flat. (I really should get more hill workouts in.) But some people I run with LOVE hills. I don’t quite understand them, but it seems to work for them.

        1. Marion Ravenwood

          Thank you! I’ve volunteered at parkrun a few times but only once before as timekeeper, and I wasn’t very good at it, so was a bit worried about it this time. Thankfully I put into practice what I learnt last time and hopefully it all went OK!

          Agree about evening runs. I’m finding my evening runs are a lot busier lately, but I also think part of that is due to the time of year – now the weather is getting better and the evenings are longer there’s a lot more people spending their evenings outside. Whereas in the winter it’s much quieter regardless of the time of day.

          And I hear you on the hills! The area of London I live in is very hilly and most of the places I ran in previously had some super-steep hills, which were not my favourite. In particular my previous parkrun had a very steep hill right before the finish which I really didn’t like. But then in an odd way sometimes I miss the challenge of hills when I’m running the flat loop in my nearest park!

    2. gecko

      Anything with water is my favorite. I have a route along a reservoir near my apartment, and when I vary it up I usually go run along a pond a little further from my apartment :) I like how they’re natural loops, and bodies water are just balm to my soul.

      1. Llama Grooming Coordinator

        I’m kind of the same way, except I prefer rivers and streams. I’ll go on a loop if it’s a workout – there’s a pond on the pathway a couple of towns south that I’ve been meaning to do a workout at for ages – but I like just being able to follow along for a while, taking in the scenery.

        Although, reservoirs are usually pretty large, so I’m a little jealous that you live right by one.

        1. gecko

          It’s awesome. Though the past few weeks the Canadian geese have been raising their goslings on its shores…and the goslings are now gangly teens…and it’s surprisingly terrifying to run on a path lined with geese. They’ve been extremely calm (city geese, I guess) and it’s cool to see the babies growing up. But boy…they are in fact wild animals

    3. grace

      I love trails – especially earlier in the morning in the summers when the wildlife isn’t hiding away yet! I’ve seen deer several times and it always makes the runs easier.

      1. Llama Grooming Coordinator

        I’m such a city boy (I grew up in the suburbs, but…like, I mean, an inner-ring ‘burb) that I still get a little startled when I see deer out and about! (Although the best is when they’re hanging out in someone’s front yard. There’ve been a couple of times where I’ve thought that there were just lawn decorations and then I got closer and they moved.)

        I’m also curious – what kind of trails do you normally do? Do you prefer closer to actual roads, or do you lean more towards backwoods-style trails?

        1. grace

          I like both kinds! Near my parents house there’s a greenway that kind of loops around the neighborhoods, but I also love running in trails in the woods as long as it’s pretty much tamped down so i don’t twist an ankle.

          My new place doesn’t have any trails or sidewalks (well they’re in the apt complex but not the road nearby which???) so I’ve resigned myself to long runs on the weekends and treadmill workouts during the week and it’s definjteky not as fun!

    4. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)

      I’m very lucky to live near the water. Running near any type of waterway is my favorite. Parks would be my second favorite (living in NYC, I’m lucky to have lots of options in that regard, too). I’m not much of a trail runner; I’m clumsy and always worried about tripping over something.

      My running routes are mainly flat these days but I love hills. I actually tend to do significantly better in races that have hills than flat races. I guess I enjoy the challenge and the adrenaline rush.

      1. Llama Grooming Coordinator

        Dude, New York IS amazing, and I’m mad at myself for not taking more advantage of it. (Probably because I don’t want to have to go home post-run from New York.) Probably one of the coolest routes I’ve done is over the GW from Fort Lee and down the West Side – even with the bikers, it never gets old for me. (I did it last week with a group. I did not realize that the Bridge Challenge was happening on the lower deck AND there was also apparently a bike event going on later that day.)

        The NJ side of the Hudson isn’t bad, either (especially Hoboken), but there are a lot of parts that aren’t open to through traffic (thanks, Ellipse!). Plus, going through Hoboken Terminal even at 7:30 AM on a weekend is weird, since you have to navigate an actual doorway (I believe that there’s a door that’s usually open, but there are bollards in front and it’s weird if you’re by yourself and a little scary when you’re in a group of five).

        1. runner

          Have you tried Palisade Park (I think that’s what it’s called?) right near the GW Bridge on the NJ side. It’s got trees and water near by and few cars on the weekends (at least early-ish when I go there). Lots of runners and bikers but not crowded. You can also drive and park I think, then run, if you have a car.

          1. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)

            I’ve been wanting to try Palisades Park for awhile. Is it accessible without a car?

            Llama Grooming Coordinator, I’ve wanted to run over the GW Bridge but go in the opposite direction–from Manhattan to NJ and then down the waterfront from Fort Lee to Hoboken. I take it from your post that that’s not possible? Bummer, if that’s the case. I still love running along the Hoboken waterfront down to Jersey City. And yes, I’ve run through the train terminal, which is very strange. :-)

            1. Llama Grooming Coordinator

              I actually had to look this up – but it should actually be possible for most of it. It’s just that there are quite a few detours, which is the frustrating thing. The map the conservancy has posted is…about a year out of date and doesn’t show the closures in Newport, but other than that it looks fairly accurate.

        1. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)

          After three NYC Marathons, the Queensboro Bridge is definitely not my friend!

    5. Epsilon Delta

      I like to run to explore. So I will often start at my house and run about 3 miles to city center, and take a new route to get there. Sometimes I get myself into a little trouble because I run farther out to explore and then the run back is longer than I anticipated!

      I am fortunate to live in a small city with a fairly well-connected sidewalk system and a lot of parks. We also have a lot of historic architecture. It is a really fun place to run!

      1. Llama Grooming Coordinator

        That actually sounds…pretty amazing, and like something I’d do. (Actually, I kind of did Wednesday. I ran a 6-mile run to the supermarket…that’s less than a mile from my apartment.) And to be honest – your city sounds pretty awesome just in general, since I really like interesting little cities/towns. (One thing I like about the neighborhood I work is that there are murals EVERYWHERE. It’s great.)

    6. Red

      I LOVE the nice park by my house, and flat is the way to go. Hills kill me every time.

      As for races – I just ran a nice 5k and have another one coming up next weekend. My friend loves having a running buddy and knows I am having mental health issues (see the other thread for the details if you’re curious) and need the push to get out of the house and moving, so we’re going to race together every weekend while I’m on disability. She’s so nice.

      1. Llama Grooming Coordinator

        I actually did see the other posts you made – and to be serious about things, I’m really glad you’re taking care of yourself. That takes a lot of strength and courage to admit that, not only to other people but to yourself. Good luck on the weekends – and I’m glad you have a friend in your life that’s willing to help push you to do things you want to do.

        And I really hope you start feeling better soon! Hopefully, the time off from work will help with that, as well as anything else you’re doing.

        1. Red

          Thank you! There’s a lot I’m doing to help things out, including a med change and therapy twice a week. I return to work on the 25th and I’m hoping to feel better by then. Thanks for the weekly running threads, and I hope to have an exciting post about a fun race next week instead of one like this

    7. A bit of a saga

      I’m a bit lazy in that I don’t want to have to go somewhere to run so I always start out either from home or from work. Work is close to a nice path so I go there from time to time, otherwise a mix of parks and urban pavements – not all that scenic!

    8. Empty Sky

      I tend to do the same run over and over, but it’s because I like it so much. It’s an urban waterfront run with no stops or road crossings, lots of space (usually) and great scenery. It can get a bit crowded in summer and you sometimes have to dodge small children for the first section. It can also be extended a lot if you like (out to well beyond 10k) and varied with hill detours in either or both directions.

      I always hated hills, although I did them now and again and enjoyed knocking them off when I managed it. I used to notice that my running style seemed particularly suited to flat running, as I had running partners that would struggle to keep up with me on the flat but leave me in the dust on the uphill parts. Unfortunately it also made me very injury prone, to the point where I’ve been unable to compete in any events in something like 3+ years now. I’ve been working through an extensive program of physiotherapy and Pilates to identify and address all the underlying issues, which has involved things like altering my muscle firing sequence and basically rewiring my nervous system and learning to walk/run all over again. I’m now mostly done and I run shorter distances at a slower pace than I used to, but (hopefully) properly now and without the same injury risk. On the rare occasions I’ve attempted hills, they feel about 10 times easier than they used to and I fly up them. So I’m hoping that better hill running will be a side effect.

  15. KatieKate

    Any advice for getting over a not-ex? Someone who you went on a few dates with, but because of circumstances it couldn’t go any further (I was willing to do long distance, she wasn’t). It’s been a few months but I was on a date last night and although the woman was perfectly nice I was just wishing she was my not-ex. And I’m going to see not-ex at a mutual friend’s wedding this summer, so there’s no way to cut her out completely (not that I want to, because I still want to give us a shot…) Arg.

    1. matcha123

      I don’t think you ever really get over people…you just find other people or activities to take more importance or time.

    2. Rainy

      I was in a similar situation, and I just dated other people and did my best to move on.

      Then we ended up in the same city, and now we’re engaged. :D

      1. KatieKate

        There was a chance we were going to end up in the same city, but she decided to stay in her current city for grad school and I really don’t want to move to her city. So maybe one day!

        1. Rainy

          We were living in two different countries when we met and briefly dated the first time and then broke up, and when I had to move back to the States I made plans to move to the city we now live in unless I found a job elsewhere in the meantime, which I didn’t. Then he ended up moving here a month before me because he had a brother living here that he could crash on his sofa when he decided he’d had enough of the city he was living in (housing situation fell through last-minute, company he was working for got sold, etc). And the rest is history!

    3. misspiggy

      It sounds like you could make the wedding a chance to be a lovely goodbye. Be charming and positive, make it clear you’re stoked to see her, and wish her the best for grad school. Then if your paths do cross in the future, there’s the best chance of starting off on a good footing.

    4. Clever Name

      No advice, only commiseration. I dated a guy for like a month. It was super intense, slept with him too early- you know, all the hallmarks of a good fling. :) But I had to end it because he just didn’t make an effort to get in touch with me and didn’t really plan dates, broke dates, didn’t call when he said he would, etc, and that’s a deal breaker for me. I’m still thinking of him weeks later and wondering if I made the right decision. I’m hoping that continuing to date people and time will help.

    5. Anon for this

      LDR from the start with no end in sight is really, really tough. First step is take off the rosy-colored glasses about trying to get to know someone romantically over Skype and text.

      In my personal experience, I was in your not-ex’s shoes. Very adamant about not getting involved in a LDR-unless-someone-moved. Didn’t want to factor someone in my life decisions based on a couple dates.
      Then we met up a few months later, and it was really great to see them… and we just didn’t stop texting. Eventually we had the Define The Relationship talk, figured we’d give it a shot, and now we live together. But the key for me was seeing how to casually do LDR.

      I realize this isn’t helpful to you, but like matcha123 said, I think you just gotta find more things to take up your time, and know that there are lots of other lovely people out there that you will meet!

  16. PlantLady

    After writing, re-writing and finally deleting a post about the nasty note I got from my neighbor this week, I will just say this: If you ever have the chance to live next to a retired couple who spent the past 30+ years in a high-rent HOA in California and now spend their time nit-picking everything you do or do not do, to the point of issuing demands and instructions regarding your personal property without so much as a “please” or “thank you”, pass on that chance.

    My consolation is that the other neighbors will be finishing their new house soon, and it will very definitely block the ocean view that the nasty neighbors moved here for.

    1. Ali G

      I feel you. I owned a condo in an building where there were a lot of retirees that bought as original owners back in the 80’s when it was built. There was one especially horrid couple that lived on my floor. They were so awful they were actually banned from all Board meetings.
      They hated pets, even though they chose to live in a pet friendly building. They would not ride in the elevator with dogs.
      I had a dog and I loved messing with them. Killed them with kindness.
      Typically I would see the wife in the mornings when I was going out to walk my dog.
      Her: sneer at me and dog
      Me: Good Morning!!!!!
      Her: I am not sharing the elevator with you.
      Me “I know princess!!! Enjoy your ride!!!!”
      Her: Gets on elevator
      Me and Dog: Run down the stairs and try to meet her again when she got off the elevator and if that happened:
      “Hi again – have a great day!!!!”
      She hated me.

        1. Parenthetically

          This is true facts. I live in a condo complex with a number of extremely cranky, gossipy old biddies, and honestly coming up with ways everyone else is trying to make their lives miserable and then bitching about it is their only way to pass the time. A woman told me recently that her upstairs neighbor would stomp on the floor above her thermostat every single day to get HER heat to turn on so HE didn’t have to turn his heat on. N.B. heat is included in our homeowners’ fees so that was 100% not happening. Another one told me ages ago that the guests at another resident’s party had decided to park in her spot (she didn’t have a car) just to frustrate her because they knew her boyfriend wouldn’t stay for a visit if he couldn’t get her parking spot.

    2. rubyrose

      I do know some of this pain.
      About 20 years ago I bought a condo in a building with underground parking and interior hallways. These two amenities were attractive to me because of decreased mobility; they also attracted a number of retired people.
      At first I thought wonderful, there are people around during the day who can informally observe what was happening, while the rest of us were at work.
      As it turned out, there was this one retired couple who decided it was their right to tell everyone what they should do and how they should do it. For example, the HOA hired part time people to come in two or three times a week to vacuum the interior halls and elevators. No one would stay in that position because this couple would follow the person around and tell them where to sweep.
      There was so much contention and strife caused by these two that a special HOA meeting was called. This meeting got a short article in the Denver Post!!
      I was lucky; I moved out of state and was able to sell. Others stuck around. I was told later that property values went down. I’m not sure I would ever be able to live in a condo again, knowing what can go wrong.

      1. PlantLady

        Same here! We are the only non-retired, full-time residents in our little neighborhood, and we thought the same thing when we moved in – Great, people will be around all the time to keep an eye on things. They didn’t even notice when we left town for 10 days and had pet sitters and a contractor go in and out of the house, but when our yard guy let the shrubs grow more than an inch past the edge of the pavement, they were all over us.

        We lived in Denver for a number of years and while we never had problems, I have friends in Highlands Ranch and Parker with ridiculous HOA horror stories.

        1. rubyrose

          I live in Highlands Ranch right now (my horror story was from Aurora). But I’m in an apartment. I do have some knowledge of the HOA problems in HR via postings in Next Door.

    3. Lora

      I blessedly do not have an HOA to deal with but I do have retired neighbors who do yard work with, I swear, tweezers and nail clippers or something. My own yard, full of weeds, mint (hey, it’s green, it smells nice, it tolerates shade and you can mow it), holes in which the dog buried something terrible, and the occasional shrub that hasn’t been trimmed in five years, is a constant source of irritation to them.

      I just smile and tell them have a nice day. The guy is philosophical about it but his wife gets PISSED.

      In rural areas you get the joy of city people who move to the countryside for peace and quiet, then complain to the animal control officer that there’s deer eating their landscaping. Guy next door is terrified of all animals other than cats. Like he’s scared of squirrels, my neighbor’s elderly sheep, the world’s friendliest golden retriever down the road, owls that live in the pine tree across the street, bluejays screeching. There’s feral cats around here that can climb like Spiderman, pee everywhere and turn into whirling blades of death if you try to pet them, but he’s terrified of chipmunks.

    4. StellaBella

      Karma on the view blocking new place! Bring the new neighbours flowers, wine and food for their first week living there! :)

      1. PlantLady

        Problem Neighbors have already been complaining about how the new people are “heavy driveway users” (Wha???) and how much worse the traffic will be when the new folks move in.

  17. Nervous Accountant


    I read a book that Alison recommended, LIsa Jewell “Then She was Gone.” I loved it. Would anyone want to discuss???

    1. Release the horcuxes

      I read it last month! It was good though rather predictable as the story unfolded… I knew immediately why she was taken. I bought a book in a similar vein, The Breakdown by B.A. Parris and am excited to start it!

      1. Release the horcuxes

        I also read The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell and I didn’t really like it, so I was pleased with Then She Was Gone.

      2. Nervous Accountant

        Oh gosh, I didn’t get it so quickly. I am glad that it wasn’t as gory or violent (well as could be) as other thrillers I’ve read. I also finished into the water by Paula Hawkins. Enjoyed that as well!

        1. Jemima Bond

          I didn’t get exactly what was going on early on, either!
          I thought the bit where the bad person refers to how the victim dies was really chilling. I just felt so sorry for that poor girl :-(

          1. Nervous Accountant

            SPOILER ALERT
            I really wish there had been more justice for the victim. While I feltsorry for the bad person, I think she got off too easy. Ellie’s letter was heartbreaking.
            I also wish I’d known a bit more of Floyd’s backstory–was just super curious about his parents’ careers.
            Otherwise, I was so relieved that he wasn’t the father. :(
            I also wish that there would have been more about the other kids.

    2. Little Bean

      I just finished it today! It was not bad, I was drawn in and finished it pretty quickly. Agree that the plot felt pretty predictable though and saw most of it coming well in advance.

    3. Jess the Kat

      Floyd was certainly caught between a rock and hard place, but thankfully he wasn’t Poppy’s father. He was sinister and creepy, watching Laurel from afar and copying her husband Paul’s personal clothing style. How horrific for Ellie. My heart broke for her. I wondered if I would have nightmares about being a young girl locked in a basement with no way out.

  18. The Other Dawn

    I mentioned last week that someone on Nextdoor finally got something organized for a ladies’ game night. I’m happy to report it took place this past week and it wasn’t horrible. We all got on well and that’s what counts. I didn’t leave there thinking, “UGH that was awful” or “Jane really rubbed me the wrong way/is obnoxious/ whatever.” (A big accomplishment for me, as I can be fussy.)

    Eight of us showed up. The woman hosting had lots of goodies, like cheese and crackers, chips, etc., so that was a nice surprise. I was also happy to see she has cats, which is always a plus for me. It turned out I was the youngest one there at 43. The oldest was almost 80. I would say the youngest aside from myself was at least 55. Almost all of them have grown kids, grandkids and some great grandkids. The one who didn’t have any kids actually couldn’t have kids. I was pretty much the odd person out being childless by choice, never smoked (they’re all smokers or former smokers), and the youngest.

    We played a dice game and then got to know each other. I will say it was difficult to make it around the table since a few of them were firing questions–some a little invasive–one after the other, which started a bunch of side conversations. Made it hard to finish a sentence and keep moving. But I guess that’s what happens when strangers all looking for the same thing–to get out of the house and meet people–get together!

    We made a plan to meet every two weeks. Someone suggested weekly and a few agreed, but it was obvious that others thought weekly was a bit much right now, myself included; I’m not ready for the frequency yet. We’ll rotate hosting. I made sure to mention my gazillion cats, saying that I wanted to put that out there in case someone is allergic, afraid, disgusted, etc. No one seemed to recoil so that’s good. :)

    I’m glad I went. It gave me a couple hours out of the house and I potentially have made some friends, both things I’ve been wanting for awhile. I’ll admit a tiny part of me was hoping they’d cancel at the last minute so I could stay home and be with me, but I went anyway. What I think is weird is that I wanted to go to this more than I wanted to go to a gender reveal BBQ last weekend for my husband’s friend and his wife. Not sure why, since I actually knew a couple people at the BBQ.

    1. nep

      This sounds great. Wonderful that you went, that you’re glad you went, and that it wasn’t awful. Thanks for the update.

    2. Jess the Kat

      I’m have things in common with you – age 41, married, no kids. Hard to find others to be friends with who have the same life circumstances.

      1. The Other Dawn

        It most certainly is! I think the reason it seemed to work is the other night that their children are all grown, so they weren’t talking about babies, school, etc. They mentioned their kids and grandkids, but then talked more about their life experiences. I’d have been super bored if it was little-kid talk.

        1. Amey

          It might work even with people with young kids. I have two small children and I am so desperate for conversation about things that are not children, you have no idea. Once you’ve got kids, the most common way to meet people is through kid things and often the only thing you have in common is kids. I’d really like to just talk about stuff I like and ideas for a couple of hours…

          1. The Other Dawn

            Ah, good to know! I think I’ve had so many experiences where kids are ALL parents will talk about, so it automatically makes me think, “Aw crap, they have kids.”

            1. MotherRunner

              I was definitely guilty of this when my kids were younger (they are still little, but not babies anymore). For me, it wasn’t that i only wanted to talk about kids. It was that i literally had nothing else to say. I was at home with my kids 24 hours a day, and my husband worked long hours. So the only interesting (or “interesting”) things that happened to me were things involving my babies. I just didn’t have the time or bandwidth to watch the news, or read a book, or listen to a podcast, or go to a museum, or do anything that my pre-baby self would have found interesting. To be fair, that may not be the case for most new parents. I suspect i had postpartum depression, although i was never officially diagnosed. So in reality, i probably could have done some of those things, but at the time they all seemed impossible.
              It’s so nice to be out of the dark hole that is postpartum depression combined with social isolation combined with exhaustion, and to feel like a human again, instead of just an incubator and food source. (Obligatory disclaimer: I love my kids. I mostly enojoyed being home with them, and I’m glad i was in a position where that was possible. I am also glad that they are old enough that i can have a life outside of my children now.)

  19. Nervous Accountant


    I’m catching up on my shows. I loved blackish and was just heartbroken through the 4 episode arc. I burst out crying in public when I saw that scene in the season finale. I read one of the forums (not sure if Im allowed to mention it here) and man are they a tough crowd.

    So far I’ve to catch up on Goldbergs, Fresh off the boat, gray’s anatomy and B99. B99 is my “dessert” and I’m still crushed at the cancellation. Jake & Amy <3

    I don't know if I can bear any more sadness so I'll skip GA. I saw a season of Big Mouth and hated that I loved it lol.

    Anyone watch these shows? Any thoughts?
    Any more recommendations for comedies?

      1. Nervous Accountant

        Noooo I didn’t, that’s awesome! I was shocked it was even up for cancellation to begin with.

        1. LemonLyman

          Fox cancelled it and NBC picked it up the next day.

          I’ve been catching up on episodes via Hulu and I’m loving it! I’m mid-season 3 right now. I agree with the sentiment that it’s “dessert” although I think it’s an decadent dessert that is also surprisingly healthy. It has a great, diverse cast. The characters are all different and not just typical comedy tropes. Even Andy Samberg’s character is more than every straight white guy immature comedy character. I loved the scene in the first season where Diaz tells Santiago that because they are women in a traditional male dominated job, they need to look out for each other. These two characters support each other (and don’t gossip about their love lives or other women). I could go on… (It’s also The cherry on top that my usernamesake plays Peralta’s jackass dad!)

          And blackish is one of my current favorite shows. That arc was a very different storyline for the show… for any comedy. But it showed that relationships/marriages aren’t always happy and sitcom-like. It was “real” and that’s what blackish tries to address through their platform. It was a tonal change, for sure, but it made me appropriately uncomfortable which could have been what they were going for. They hit tough topics in a fresh way (e.g., Jack and the n-word, the Juneteenth episode – one of faves, postpartum depression, etc.). I’m still upset that ABC made them table an episode on the NFL and the anthem (I’m not opening that political debate here, just mentioning the topic of the tabled episode) because I am sure they could have handled it with the same honest discussion mixed with comedy they use when approaching other difficult topics.

          1. Nervous Accountant

            I know I love how Jake is…he’s just amazing *swoon*

            I enjoyed the arc. The scene with Bow’s father killed me, b/c it was just so sudden and I went through the same thing months ago. Although on rewatching it again, I really hate that they just used it as a catalyst to “fix” them. I’m glad they were reconciled, but the death should have been handled so much better. I hope next season really explores it b/c we’ve seen so much of Bow’s family, it was weird to not have them shown at all for the funeral and afterwards etc.

            1. LemonLyman

              Jake & Amy = relationship goals! I adore how they love each other’s quirks.

              I felt the same way about Rainbow’s father and it being a catalyst. I also felt like we were given so much on the demise of their marriage but not enough on the rebuilding. So, like you, I’m hoping they explore more next year. I’m glad it was renewed!

            2. tangerineRose

              I also didn’t like that he died and this was the catalyst to fix the relationship.

    1. Trixie

      I am hoping the Alienist is picking up for second season. I love these period Sherlock Holmes styles dramas.

    2. Anonymosity

      I am LOVING the Netflix reboot of One Day at a Time. The rest of the cast is stellar too. They’ve updated it to a Cuban family with a single mum (she starts out separated) who is also a veteran, and her mother (played by Rita Moreno!) lives with her and her pre-teen son and teenaged daughter. I love Rita Moreno in this–she is so freaking funny and adorable. They kept the Schneider character, but he’s a younger hipster guy who owns the building. I like the actor a lot. He’s cute and hilarious.

      The show is a bit issue-driven, but it’s done well and it’s made me laugh my ass off and also cry more than once. Sometimes in the same episode!! I think I like it better than the old show.

      1. The Original K.

        I love the One Day at a Time reboot! I just made my way through the first two seasons a few weeks ago. I didn’t see the first version (I’m too young to have seen it the first time around), but I love that Justina Machado finally has a vehicle and Rita Moreno is, as always, a national treasure.

        1. Anonymosity

          I was a kid when the old one was on, so I couldn’t relate to or understand the single mum thing and the adult stuff didn’t interest me that much. I just dabbled in it now and then, but what I did see was pretty good. I do remember an episode where Schneider the handyman had an intellectually disabled helper who saved the day when they had a gas leak.

          I was unfamiliar with Justina Machado but I love her. All the cast is great.

      2. Nervous Accountant

        I didn’t watch the original run, I think it was in the 1970s? I’ll check this one out.

        I actually wanted to watch the Roseanne reboot but that’s over now.

      3. LemonLyman

        I’ve watched a few minutes of the first episode and the laugh track was bugging me. But I’ll give it another try. I’m hoping the fake laughter goes away at some point. There are great comedies out there that went without because they trust their audience to know when to laugh on their own.

      1. Nervous Accountant

        I think I stopped watching around episode 3 of season 13…is it on season 14? SoI have a LOT to catch up on.

  20. The Other Dawn

    To the veggie gardeners: if I plant my leftover scallion bulbs and a few old cloves of garlic, will they grow? It seems as though it’s pretty easy based on what I see online, but I’m wanting real-life experiences. I need to fill in a few spots in my garden and figure this would be a good use for my scraps.

    I’ve graduated up to TWO raised garden beds this year. I started with one last year and it was a success, so I allowed myself another one. I have all herbs in one (lavender, sage, rosemary, cilantro, parsley, basil, oregano and dill) and in the other I’m starting bush beans and heirloom tomatoes from seeds (cross my fingers on that one!), plus I bought some established Roma and regular tomato plants for the other end. Also bought a hot pepper plant and a cherry tomato plant for my containers. I’m also going to try Romaine lettuce in a planter box. They only need a small amount of space, so I figure my planter will work.

    1. Raine

      Start them in a cup or jar with damp cotton or paper towel. Once you see them start to sprout, you can “transplant” them into those empty spots. I’ve found I’ve had more success with sprouting them first then just planting them straight away. Another great thing to plant if you have a little extra room are the bottoms of a bunch of celery stalks or potatoes that have gone off a little bit. The celery you should sprout first and the potatoes can just go straight into the ground (check to see that they have eyes on them still, if they don’t then they won’t grow).

      1. The Other Dawn

        Even though I have the whole scallion (the tops are all wilted because I didn’t use them in time, which is why I got the idea to plant them and not waste them) I still need to sprout them?

        1. Safetykats

          No, you don’t need to sprout them. I planted individual garlic cloves directly in the garden two weeks ago, and the sprouts are between 4 and 6 inches tall this weekend. (Not technically the right time of year to plant them, but I’m looking for green garlic to eat this summer, not actual garlic cloves to harvest this year.) As long as you have some good soil that stays moist, they will actually do better directly in the garden.

        2. LilySparrow

          You don’t have to sprout them, but it lets you see if they are too old/wilty.

          Also, the milder indoor conditions make it easier for them to grow roots, which gives them a head start and makes them more likely to survive.

          Cut off the green top so they don’t expend energy trying to maintain it. It will add roots first. When the green top starts to grow back, then plant outdoors.

    2. curly sue

      I’ve had consistently great luck putting cloves straight in to the ground in the fall and leaving them to do their thing. The winter cold activates them somehow — I’m not sure if you can get the same effect by putting them in the fridge before planting, but it’s worth looking into.

      One thing to note is that garlic is a two-year plant — you’ll get little balls the first year that you need to replant to get full heads the second year. Or eat them because they’re tasty, but the yield will be much better in year two.

      1. Southernbelle

        Or you can forget them in the ground and leave them until the next year, which also works great! I’ve fall planted here (in the South) and I get a whole bulb, because it actually grows all fall and then re-sprouts in the spring and doesn’t die back until October – so it’s highly dependent on where you are/ day length/ growing season length.

  21. Julia

    Why are people so damn intolerant these days?
    Today, someone I know posted a quote on Facebook saying vegetarians were the source of all evil, destroying people’s food culture etc. I’m a vegetarian, but most of my friends aren’t, and neither is my husband, and that has never been a problem. I never tell people what to eat (how would my marriage even work??) and I am SO SICK of people attacking me for my food choices. Like, once, a random guy at work told me vegetarianism was unnatural because cavemen didn’t do it. Cavemen also didn’t have cars and condos, dude! WTF.

    Plus, complete cultures eat meatless diets. Do people also think they suck??

    1. Chameleon

      That’s…a really weird quote. Most cultures have at least some amount of vegetarian traditions, if only because meat is more expensive than vegetables.

      1. Julia

        Apparently, it’s from Anthony Bourdain, the guy everyone is lauding as the hero of Asian cuisines. There are many Asians who follow vegetarian diets, and a chef who can’t cook well without meat isn’t worth much to me. Or should every meal every carnivore have be made with meat? Like, all the time?

        1. gecko

          Ah I remember that perspective. Iirc as with many things he came around to understanding vegetarianism from a position of being a uhh dedicated carnivore, but that doesn’t change that someone on your feed chose a really crummy quote to share.

          When social media becomes one giant obituary it’s always going to be strange.

          1. Julia

            I’m glad he came around (although that still doesn’t excuse the quote), but yeah, people lauding him as a hero are really annoying me today. I guess I can be glad that I did not end up working as a live-in babysitter for the guy who shared it.

            1. LemonLyman

              From your tone I take it you don’t see him as a hero. And you don’t have to. But understand that people do not call him a hero because of the comments he’s said about vegetarians in the past but because he did do many things that helped culinary culture and the world in general. He spoke out against racism, xenophobia, and homophobia, and he was a supporter of the #metoo movement. He encouraged human connection, specifically through food and culture. He recognized food not just through an elite fine dining lens but also highlighted the down home, small town spots. Other chefs do that now, too, but he popularized it.

              I understand why you’re annoyed but people make mistakes. They say and do things that they later regret. They collect new experiences and grow through them. Those experiences can help them change their perspectives and evolve as a person.

              Also, in tragedies like this, it’s best to remember how a person positively impacted others. It just seems like better karma overall. :-)

        2. Triple Anon

          His career has been in restaurants and television. Both industries depend on the meat industry, which took a hit from vegetarianism becoming popular. I know that seems like a strange statement, but consider the ads you see on TV and what’s being advertised. Lots of meat and other food products. Most of the vegetables we produce go to feed animals that are being raised for food. So vegetarianism has put a dent in the demand for not only meat but also corn, grains, soy products, etc. So there’s a media backlash against it. It’s easier to criticize vegetarianism than for entire industries to change their products and business models.

        3. Parenthetically

          Do… do people not understand that hyperbole is a thing? Or that Bourdain was vocally opposed to the sort of white yuppie self-righteous vegetarianism that insists dogs be vegetarian and stands in judgment of meat-centric traditional foodways? “Hey, Tony, when you say vegetarianism is evil, do you mean Hindu granny is evil?” “No, ****face, I mean Sarah and Brad and their kids Meadow and Blaze and their dog Guevara who are vegan, including the dog, and who cry every time they think of an Inuit eating seals.”

    2. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesInYourHouse

      I’m vegetarian too and it is hard. I get a lot of flack at times.

      1. Julia

        It’s so tough, isn’t it? I’ve had a professor tell me being vegetarian was a nuisance (it is in Japan if you have to explicitly go to a restaurant that serves at least one vegetarian meal), but I mean, sorry to care about animals and this planet, let me wipe your tears?

          1. Julia

            These days, it’s much easier if you can decide where to go, but finding a place spontaneously or tagging along with people is still pretty hard.

        1. Music

          Implying that people who aren’t vegetarian DON’T care about animals and the planet might have something to do with why you’re finding people being so unkind to you about your food choices.

          1. Julia

            I posted a reply to that below, but basically, that comment was taken out of context, and the guy who posted on Facebook had no idea I ever said it anyway.

            1. Music

              It wasn’t taken out of context, you simply failed to offer any. And if that’s how you conduct yourself online, it’s no wonder that you’re finding people so intolerant of your eating habits. Take a breath. Slow down. Stop reading anger into people’s comments. They’re not eating meat AT you.

              1. Julia

                Yeah, I took it out of context. Sorry, it’s 3am here and English isn’t my first language.
                If you read all the comments on this thread, I’m surprised you think that way, and I think you are taking things personally that aren’t, but since it is 3am here, I think I’ll step away from the computer.

        1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesInYourHouse

          I love it! I need to catch up but I adore Cecil and Carlos. All Hail the Glow Cloud!

    3. Nervous Accountant

      That is so weird. FWIW I see most of the opposite in my feed, that meat eaters are awful people etc. In either case, people are just weird, I mean if you (general you) are not eating something why do you care so much ????

      1. Julia

        I know zero vegetarians and vegans who preach. I guess it’s because we know we’d be vilified.
        But every animal rights post I see on Facebook has at least one commenter who says, “I’ll sneak some bacon into a vegan’s food, you f’*ckers” – why does it matter to other people if someone eats meat or not?

        1. Thursday Next

          I never understood this impulse. It’s as though they feel threatened by someone else’s implied moral position.

          1. Julia

            Maybe that’s it. Maybe deep down they feel guilty for eating animals, and that’s why they need to impose their habits on us. It’s the same with people who had kids and need to justify it to themselves, they tend to harp on others to also have kids, without considering that it’s deeply personal. (Not saying having kids is the same as eating meat!!)

            1. Sylvan

              You know, maybe there is something to it for a tiny number of people? I want to go vegetarian, but I still snap and buy chicken or turkey sometimes. I am a little guilty and a little jealous of people who have cut it out, which doesn’t make sense, but there it is. :)

              1. Julia

                Thank you for being so great about this discussion! I actually think that people who consume meat mindfully are doing pretty great. I said below that if I knew my “meat” didn’t suffer, I might reconsider eating some, and in general, we should all just be more mindful about our consumption and what it means for the planet and other living creatures.

            2. Anonymosity

              I don’t feel guilty, but there is NO WAY I would ever do that to a vegetarian or vegan. Good grief. What if they’re veggie because they have that alpha-gal meat allergy!? Or are doing it for health reasons? Why would anyone want to deliberately make another person sick? That’s just messed up.

              I don’t really care about someone else’s dietary choices unless 1) I’m cooking for them; 2) they’ve asked me for help for some reason; 3) they aren’t trying to force them on me, in which case I will slowly eat a carne asada taco while staring creepily at them, because that’s just bullshit.

        2. Not So NewReader

          It matters because they have nothing else going on in their lives. As an aside sneaking bacon in is not the best plan, there are other meats that hide better than bacon.

          1. Julia

            Please don’t encourage them. >.< It's like sneaking someone gluten or peanuts, or pork. (Yeah, I know it's not an allergy or religion, but it's my belief and I don't even know if my stomach could deal with meat after all these years.)

            1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesInYourHouse

              Being a vegetarian is no different than being Catholic, Muslin, etc. It’s a lifestyle choice which religion is as well. No one is born Catholic, Muslim, etc. They’re raised in that religion but people choose to stay in it.

              1. WS

                It can be a medical issue, though, from people with digestive issues or stomas, to people allergic to red meat. Quite apart from that, I don’t have any problems respecting people’s personal religious practice despite being an atheist, so why would I have a problem respecting people’s personal dietary practice?

        3. Chameleon

          “I know zero vegetarians and vegans who preach.”

          I’m not meaning to pick a fight at all, but you sort of just implied that people who eat meat don’t care about animals or the environment, like literally in your last statement above. That is…a little preachy.

          1. Julia

            The one where I said we should all be more mindful of our consumption? All including me?
            I don’t even usually say that to people in real life unless we’re already having a discussion on environmental issues. And even then, I don’t say “people shouldn’t eat meat”. In fact, I usually say nothing because I know people will get mad.
            But when a friend tells me she wants to eat less meat because it’s better for the planet, I say “great”, and when people say “vegans destroy the planet with their need for soy!” I say “most of that soy is fed to animals you eat”.

            1. The Road Ahead

              More like this bit: “but I mean, sorry to care about animals and this planet, let me wipe your tears?”

              Which is definitely pretty judgy and didn’t include yourself on the side being judged.

              1. Julia

                Oh, sorry. To give you some context, that was in reaction to a Japanese professor who told me I was being a nuisance. Not only am I tired of taking the high road every time people tell me I’m awful, it was literally an argument because in Japan, no one cares where their meat comes from and how many layers of plastic it’s wrapped in.

                I shouldn’t have said that in this context, and I apologize. I know that a lot of meat eaters care about the planet or animals in different ways.

                1. Mad Baggins

                  I’m sorry you had that experience :( In my experience, Japanese supermarkets and food stalls mark what location the food comes from, but not exactly how it got from living animal to food item, so to speak. I’ve seen schools and “itadakimasu” enthusiasts try to teach/share this, though.

                  I hope Japan becomes more open to vegetarian and other dietary restrictions, but I’ve seen many people deal with them quietly–just not eating the meat, etc. As you know there’s more pressure to conform to the standard here, so I hope you can stay strong to your principles without letting your frustration spill into moral judgment on others’ dietary choices.

        4. Not giving up bacon

          Interesting! I get the opposite – indignant ranting from vegetarians and vegans – all the goddam time on FB. I think it’s just that self-righteous people like to post their ill-thought-out comments on there, and the echo chamber effect does its thing. I’ve never seen anyone be anti-vegetarian or anti-vegan there, but there’s hardly a day goes by someone doesn’t tell me what a terrible person I am for eating meat. They just love to judge, I guess.

          It makes it hard to respect their views, when they can’t seem to avoid cramming them down my throat. If they think they’ll convert me like that, they have seriously misjudged their approach!

          1. Julia

            Your username seems a little antagonistic…

            The argument “they keep telling me to stop eating meat” is pretty weird to me, because it’s so generalized. Like, you realize it’s not every vegetarian and vegan who does it? Just like I know that most omnivores won’t complain about my eating habits, or I’d have like 3 friends.

            If you saw a group of religion X trying to gain followers, would you seriously say, “everyone from religion X is judgy and awful”?

            1. zyx

              I think you’re reading antagonism where none exists. “not giving up bacon” is making a decision for themselves, not telling you what to do or eating meat AT you.

            2. TL -

              It’s not generalized. “They” refers to the vegans and vegetarians on Not’s FB feed who are posting judgmental stuff – I also know vegans/vegetarians who are preachy. Not yell in your face preachy but “I just care about the environment/animal rights/you wouldn’t be able to eat animals either if you knew what I knew.”

              I also know some who are great and chill. Jerks come in every flavor.

      2. Dan

        The funny thing with meat eaters being awful people is that I grew up in deer hunting country, and from a nature perspective, hunting is a recognized means of population control. And going back to the stone age, hunting was simply a means of survival.

        1. Julia

          I think if people actually hunted their food, I might even consider going back to eating it. (Although I doubt it; I just couldn’t stomach eating meat anymore an event in my life.)
          But the meat industry is horrifying and animals suffer so much before they land on our plates. If people want to keep eating meat, which I get because they’re used to it, I think a reform is in order. It would make meat more expensive, and people would have to cut back on meat, but humans probably shouldn’t have meat twice a day every day anyhow. Obviously, I as a vegetarian can’t suggest that without having my head ripped off, though.

          1. Dan

            No, you can’t suggest that without getting your head ripped off.

            Deer hunting is interesting – its an animal that is hunted individually and rarely, if ever produced on a farm.

            Realistically, people I know hunt it with a bow and arrow or gun. There isn’t that much suffering unless you can’t get a clean kill. Most people I know eat their hunt.

        2. Thursday Next

          Meat eaters aren’t awful people. Meat eaters who would respond to a vegetarian by talking about sneaking bacon into their food are awful people.

          And from an ethical position, eating the meat from population control hunting is different from eating farm-raised animal meat purchased in a supermarket, as is subsistence hunting. Hunting is a more mindful process; subsistence, of course, is all about survival.

          1. Julia

            This. I think people should eat meat if they want to. But I’d really prefer it if they didn’t treat make animals suffer needlessly for it. Not saying animals suffer at all farms, but some are held in awful places.

    4. Dan

      Probably somewhere after the time that as a society we decided to encourage individualism and not necessarily reward societal conformance. While there was (and is) a lot of positive change as a result, the fallout has been that the mentality encourages people to draw lines in the sand, accept their own view as correct, and try to minimize or outright silence views we don’t agree with.

      Take any issue two people disagree on — if one is not willing to hear the other out, and give the opposing view respectful consideration, well, that’s the definition of intolerant. Odds are, while that other person may have reached the wrong conclusion, they likely had very understandable, if not justifiable reasons for feeling the way they do. Minimizing those underlying feelings is a sure way to create a sharp whiplash.

      I mean, I grew up in a mining town in the midwest, and move to the east coast for college, and eventually got a job there and stayed. But back home? Every time the census comes out, there’s a declining population — the town has lost 20% of its population since the 1980 census. (While this was by no means a major city, the population was big enough to support four elementary schools, a junior high, and a high school.) Schools are closing, and when you grow up there, you really don’t expect to stay. The people that are left working in supporting industries? As the industry itself (mining) falls out, and the demand for everything else drops as a result, you get scared.

      1. Lora

        Scared of what though? I grew up in a rural farming area. Farmers were going bankrupt left and right and sure, some managed to change from commodities to higher margin crops (veggies, fruit, maple syrup, free range chickens/turkeys), lots didn’t, and the guidance counselor in school told kids who wouldn’t go to college about truck driving / trades. They weren’t told to hang onto the dream of being farmers like dad, they were told that this is a crap job going the way of the dinosaur – sell the farm to a developer and start a landscaping company for all these yuppie developments.

        Like… How do they figure anything works? I don’t get it. My grandparents were old enough to have horse drawn family vehicles as kids and see a lot of automation replace jobs, we all knew that the world moves on. This shouldn’t be a surprise.

        1. Dan

          Scared of not being able to survive? Not sure what kind of answer you are looking for.

          We are all at risk of having our jobs automated away. The only question is if it happens before we retire. How are we supposed to know? BTW, I write the software that automates people’s jobs away, I’d be stupid if I thought the same couldn’t happen to me.

          I work in tech – which job should I train for that won’t automate away before I retire?

          1. Lora

            “the people that are left working in supporting industries? As the industry itself (mining) falls out, and the demand for everything else drops as a result, you get scared” i was trying to connect this last part with “Probably somewhere after the time that as a society we decided to encourage individualism and not necessarily reward societal conformance” and not understanding. I think I am still confused about what you mean.

            I mean, the world changes and we’re all going to be hosed, all the time. We can’t know a lot of things. If you can cultivate flexibility, and figure out how to adapt quickly to anything, it puts you in a better position to deal with whatever crazy thing happens in the future.

            1. Dan

              The connection is why many people in those situations vote the way they do, and how there has been a rather intolerant rift between voters of the two parties.

              I can’t really develop this further with out going full bore into politics, which AAM wants us to avoid here.

              1. Lora

                Alrighty. I was sort of imagining it from a historical perspective: like many of the original Puritans starved to death and some colonists resorted to cannibalism even while surrounded by food because they had cultural and religious prohibitions on shellfish and were deeply suspicious of native American foods. The Viking colonists at Greenland followed European conventions on what was acceptable food, and had a prohibition on eating most fish even though it was the most common food available to them and died of starvation as a result.

                That’s why I was confused. I mean, if you are worried about not having enough mutton and beef to eat, being willing to have clam chowder for dinner instead goes a lot further than complaining about the lack of hamburgers or dividing into Farmers vs Fishermen, as it were. But whole civilizations have died because they would rather starve than eat a filet-o-fish, so…

    5. Sylvan

      People who are happy about their own diet or tastes don’t need to throw little fits about food.

      Sorry they are jerks to you, but it’s not even about you at all.

      1. Julia

        That’s an interesting perspective. To me, it sounds more like they’re rejoicing in being the majority, and maybe afraid of doctors etc. advocating for less meat consume.

        I wish they could go and be jerks at someone else, preferably themselves.

        1. Sylvan

          That could definitely be it.

          I think they already are… They’re the ones who end up mad about the food on someone else’s plate, which is a pretty ridiculous state to put yourself in.

          1. Julia

            But many come specifically to vegetarian and vegan online communities to complain about us, say they’ll sneak meat into our food, and call us names. You can’t block everyone. :(

            1. Anonymosity

              They’re trolling. I’d bet money they go to other groups and do the same thing. Some people don’t even care about the subject–they just like to elicit a reaction.

              1. Thlayli

                Yup. You get trolls on all sites regarding any issue people disagree on. Just remember dont feed the trolls – ignore them. A reaction is what they want.

      2. smoke tree

        Yeah, I think this can be true. It’s similar to the people who will give you a hard time if you don’t drink–they outsource their guilt about their own choices by giving you a hard time about yours. I used to be vegetarian and did not care about anyone else’s dietary choices, but so many people wanted to believe I was judging them.

        On the other hand, some people just enjoy making others angry, particularly when they know the other person is a lot more emotionally invested in a topic than they are.

    6. fposte

      I think people are really polarized these days, whatever the issue. We’re inclined to see other people as the enemy very quickly.

      1. Julia

        I noticed that. Not just in politics, but things like gay marriage, which shouldn’t matter to anyone but those who actually get gay married, or parenting.

        1. fposte

          It also happens on the left with some frequency (which, as a lefty myself, I find really disappointing), so I think it’s pretty universal.

          1. Lissa

            I think the internet definitely makes it worse too – I have seen people make absolutely jaw-dropping comments to/about others online that I know they would never make! Just recently there was a provincial election here in Canada and one of my FB friends made a post that now whenever he sees something about a tragedy in that province, he’ll know there is a better than even change that person is a *slur redacted* who deserved to die. I am on the same “side” as him politically but just….whaaaat?

            1. fposte

              Yeah, that’s the kind of thing I mean. It’s too easy to cycle into a war of escalation where we let ourselves off the hook because “I’m only responding in kind to them!” Okay, but is that making things better?

    7. Thursday Next

      I was raised vegetarian (religion), introduced to meat when I hit school age (so I could assimilate—as if!), and returned to vegetarianism by choice at 21.

      I prepare and serve meat to my kids. This was very, very difficult for me to do at first. However, I had decided that I would have prefer them to choose to be vegetarian on their own, rather than having it forced on them, and it’s easier on the digestive processes to give up meat as an adult than it I should to start eating it.

      It’s not a subject of discussion for me anymore. I don’t “proselytize” my position, I just live it. I think (see my post below) that food choices are highly personal and complicated and I wouldn’t presume to tell anyone else what to eat. I don’t encounter many people these days who question or criticize my choice, thankfully. I think I would ritually shun anyone who snuck meat into my food.

      1. Julia

        That’s kind of where I stand, too. I sometimes prepare meat for my husband if it’s an easy recipe, as I have no idea how to prepare most meats. (And I think maybe some chefs don’t know how to prepare meatless meals?)
        For my kids, I think I would cook vegetarian and my husband can cook meat and fish for them if they want it, since we both take turns cooking anyway, and I believe that even for non-vegs, some meals should be meat-free for health reasons (following doctor’s guidelines.)
        That said, it does seem like being an omnivore is still seen as the default, and veg*an as the “other”, or your sentence would read “I don’t cook meat for my kids, if they decide they want to eat it, that’s up to them”, which I think is interesting.

        If anyone ever snuck meat or fish into my meal, and I could cut them out of my life (so not a co-worker etc.), I would, just like you.

    8. Anonymosity

      Random guy sucks. I’m pretty sure cavemen ate a lot more plant foods (and insects) than we think.

    9. Earthwalker

      Ever since weight loss became a US obsession we’ve been told by news shows and magazines to avoid fat, salt, sugar, protein, meat, dairy, carbs, grains, legumes, nightshades, and processed foods until there’s hardly anything left that isn’t on one taboo list or another. It hasn’t slowed down our consumption much but it’s made us as a culture rather defensive and prickly about food. An awful lot of people seem to have such a messed up relationship with food that they take out their guilt and frustration on others’ food choices.

    10. StellaBella

      I have had to modify my diet in the last year as I got really sick (gall stones and pancreas issues) and had to stop eating meat, oil, fats, alcohol, and dairy… I was vegetarian for 7 years in college and after… and am now doing more vegetarian dishes and only have chicken once a week and maybe fish once a month. No read meats, etc. I am sorry you feel attacked. My family does not understand my choices either (we are Italian-American) and well, no red meat, no wine, no cheese is like a sin somehow…but I do get it and sorry that your friend was being a bit obtuse. I also am struggling with the loss of Anthony Bourdain – for his work on bringing awareness to the plight of Palestinians (I have worked in Palestine and love it there), the issues around culture and cities like Pittsburgh (watch that episode please of his show), and his championing of travel/food/culture and sharing and talking to locals. For this – even if he was biased toward meat – I liked him. But – on the vegetarian thing – hang in there.

  22. Thursday Next

    Y’all, I bit the bullet and started a rigorous, 21-day elimination diet. I’m on day 9. Woo. Hoo.

    TL; DR: I guess my questions are, have any of you struggled successfully to quell your eating issues, particularly for health reasons? How do you not “fall off the wagon”? I try to avoid moralizing language, so I’ll just say there are stretches when I’ve been very successful—and felt great—but then I’ll have a life setback that sends me to the solace of food.

    With apologies for length, here’s the long story: I have a couple of autoimmune conditions, and I’m trying to see if I have any food triggers for flares. But TBH, I have a couple of other nascent health issues directly linked to diet, and correlated with weight, and one chronic issue exacerbated by weight.

    In short, I am a medical wreck. :)

    Doing the elimination diet has been emotionally fraught. I’ve struggled with eating my whole life. I’ve gained and lost enough weight in the last 20 years to form a whole new adult person. I can draw a direct line between food and comfort, or, more precisely, between the withholding of food and the withholding of love and care. When your mother bought chips and soda and cookies for your brother, but hid them from you, it’s hard, in times of stress, not to reach for chips and soda and cookies as if they were really love.

    (My mother had issues. Still does. What she does now can’t touch me, but what she did then still sends its grasping tentacles into my life.)

    I know people for whom dietary modifications or compliance is relatively effortless; they’re just not emotionally invested in food. And while I’ve been reading a lot of HAES material, I’m not in a position to embrace that philosophy for myself. I recognize that there’s a distinction between regulating one’s diet and monitoring ones’s weight, but I need to do both.

    I try to model an uncomplicated relationship to food for my kids, as I don’t want to deny them certain foods, and I don’t want them to feel guilt or shame. I don’t complain about my weight, or call certain foods “bad.” (I explained why I’m doing the elimination diet, to identify food triggers. My older child seems to get it.) I don’t push them to clean their plates. I don’t say anything is off limits, though I serve the healthy stuff first. I give them non-food love and comfort :) which they can’t seem to get enough of. But one of them began showing signs of disordered eating anyway. :( So there is that pressure as well.

    Sorry I wrote so much. The restrictions are pushing me into that lack of certain foods = punishment place. I know it’s not forever, and it’s for an important cause. (Did I mention I need to live forever, to serve as guardian for my younger SN child?)

    I have a therapist, I’m medicated, I meditate, I have a parents of SN children support group…I have so many pieces in place yet I still can’t figure this out and make it stick. Sometimes I wonder, what kind of adult am I?

    Sigh. Thanks for reading.

    1. Not So NewReader

      I have often thought that diet control has very little to do with what we actually eat. And you show that here, it’s what happens in our minds and how we think of food that really does us in.

      There is so much luggage attached to food it’s incredible.

      I followed a pretty strict diet for years and years. I don’t think it ever stops feeling like punishment totally. But after a bit it does morph into quality of life. The better I ate the better my quality of life became and that was rewarding.

      The thing that jumped at me was you have to live forever for you SN child. I hope that was more in jest than anything else. But in case it’s not, I spent over a decade working with adults with substantial disabilities. My number one thing that I would say to any parent is make a succession plan. Where is Child going to go, how will they be sheltered, employed (if possible) and so on. Get the adult child there while you are still alive. Help the child to transition from your home to life on their own. I have seen parents work themselves into an early grave because they did not find an alternative means of living for their adult SN child. And that adult child misses out also. The truth is no, you do not have to do it all yourself, there is help.

      1. Thursday Next

        Thanks, NSNR.

        Re. my daughter–she’s still very young. My plan is to transition her out of the family home at the age when her typical peers would leave (so, around 22). And we have a guardianship plan (it’ll need to be revised as we go along, I’m sure).

        But I’m afraid that no one will be as good or as careful an advocate for her as I am. You hear about elderly residents of nursing homes, and how staff are consciously or subconsciously influenced by whether the residents have visitors. People with consistent and involved visitors get better care.

        for instance, last week I posted here about a Medicaid snafu. When I am gone, who else will care about her enough to read these forms and challenge errors? I don’t know.

        So yes, this is about so much more than food!

        1. Not So NewReader

          People with consistent and involved visitors get better care IF they are nice. Just my limited experience but rude people seem to experience karma, whether it is family or care recipient.
          You are right about not having as good care as she would get at home with you. Overall our systems suck. But there are parts that get done right and in some cases get done very well. Additionally, there are some amazing people out there who do great stuff for individuals.
          From my stint in human service and my time as a family care person, my observation is that people who are nice make out better than people who are not nice. I mean the care recipients themselves. “Nice” goes a long way and can bridge a lot of gaps in our systems. Even a person who has many, many difficulties can still be seen as a nice person. Even if they have bad days every so often, that does get forgiven/forgotten by staff.

          I can point to a few things that captured our hearts. A person who is able to say/gesture please and thank you. It does not have to be all the time, but just like in the general population please and thank you can help anyone cover some ground. People who share or people who show a concern for others. This can be very random, I remember times when someone got hurt and an individual was very concerned about the injured party. It captured our hearts. In other cases there were folks with extreme physical limitations but they were reliable reporters. “NSNR, that over there has smoke rolling off of it.” Yep, I would run to see what had gotten too hot. Then there were some folks who could not do too much but somehow would know when someone was having a bad day. They would go over and pat the person on the back as if to say, “Tomorrow will be better. Hang on.”

          Funny/odd isn’t it? All this starts with a conversation about food. BTDT with my own version. We have to deliberately break these things into parts and deal with each part separately. In order to get a handle on what I was eating I had to deal with life problems/quandaries A, B and C. When my upset over A, B and C starting going down it was easier and easier to deal with my diet restrictions. Self-care is not just about bodily care it’s also about LIFE care. It’s about not letting our lives become out of control tornadoes and it’s about taking the steps we can to procure what we will need in the near future and the distant future.
          Here’s a thing that people don’t mention very often. Some attempt at helping ourselves will give us some benefit. More attempt will give us more benefit. It’s not an all or nothing thing, it’s actually a sliding scale. We don’t have to make perfect decisions, we do have to make some decisions. We don’t have to get everything right every step of the way, but we do have to try to do things. Go easy on you and just vow to keep plugging along. Over time you will be amazed at how much you have created that has worked well for you and your family.

          1. Thursday Next

            Thank you for such a thoughtful and compassionate follow up. I know what you’re talking about—I’ve seen that service providers definitely respond differently based on the client. So you have reminded me that there is hope.

            And your last paragraph is something I should really take to heart. It’s so easy to fall into all-or-nothing thinking. In reality, even if I couldn’t stay the course with the elimination diet, but really could commit to eating dessert only once a week, that would probably make an impact. And that’s just one example. It’s hard when there are so many different self-care balls in the air. I wonder if anyone feels truly together?

            1. Not So NewReader

              I think people feel less together now than ever before in our history.

              I found this the other day:
              The US is now the most anxious nation on earth. Between 1997 and 2004 Americans doubled their spending on on anti-anxiety meds from $900M to $2.1B. People of each generation of the 20th century were THREE times more likely to experience depression than the preceding generation.

              (article at Slate Magazine: American Anxiety: The three reasons why we are more stressed than ever before. It comes right up if you google.)

              It’s an eye opening read. I’d encourage everyone to look at it. While we have more, we have lost a part of ourselves in the process.
              In years to come ability to console ourselves and console others will be highly prized if we continue on the path we are on.
              My only rebuttal to this is we can focus on developing our own skills in this area right now.

              1. Thursday Next

                I just got a chance to read the article at Slate, which was really thought-provoking. The idea that we have become so averse to having negative feelings that we make ourselves more anxious is a fascinating one. Perhaps we could all use “acceptance and commitment therapy.”

                I for one could certainly use more in-person contact in my life. I think you’re right, that offering support to others, and receiving it in return, are going to be more important than ever, given the anxiety trajectory we’re on.

                Thank you for your thoughtful and compassionate comments on this thread! What was it about again—food? :)

                1. Not So NewReader

                  I went from a size 24 down to a 6. (I didn’t feel comfy at 6 so I moved up from that.) During that journey, I learned that diet and weight loss is at most 40% about the food we eat. There is so much more than food and eating habits that goes into losing weight. And then the hard part of keeping it off….

    2. TheLiz

      That sucks. I don’t have a lot of advice, but I can at least offer sympathy!

      I’m currently trying to lose fat (weight is just a number, muscle mass weighs more etc etc) after a sustained period of poor eating. It was a very stressful time, I knew I was self-medicating and I decided to put up with the consequences for a little while. Now I’m mostly trying to break bad habits – portions as small as or smaller than Husband’s, no candy/chips/soda in the house. If I do a shopping run by myself, I may have a small “treat” of candy or chips, and I’ll allow fruit juice into my life from time to time. I think it’s starting to work, but it’s hard. At least the elimination diet isn’t forever?

      As I’m sure you know, disordered eating is most often a response to anxiety. That means that a child of yours developing disordered eating patterns is NOT YOUR FAULT. Anxieties are everywhere, and it’s very easy to pick up that “food = control” from plenty of places that aren’t you. Love your children, supoprt them and be there for them and you’re being a good parent.

      (And I for one love the long posts ;) )

      1. Thursday Next

        I do think that I’ll have to be strict with myself about portion size and frequency of “treat food” once I’m out of the elimination phase. You’re right, it’s not forever.

        Thank you for reminding me that disordered eating is an anxiety response. It’s funny, I should have had that at the forefront of my mind, since my own eating is a response to anxiety, just a different form from my son’s. I need to try to be easier on myself about his food choices, since I’m sure he picks up on my anxiety over his eating, even if I don’t discuss it with him.

    3. Ali G

      Be strong! You have a lot on your plate (no pun intended, really!).
      Just getting through the 30 days must be so hard, but everything on top doesn’t help, I’m sure.
      I don’t have any advice, but I can commiserate on trying to just reset my head around food. Both Hubs and I need to lose weight and it’s so damn hard to just not order pizza on Friday’s and go out on Saturday’s, etc.
      I’ve also toyed with an elimination diet myself because I have digestive issues that crop up from time-to-time. My mom has IBSD that came about from her ignoring known digestive issues for years and is now on the most restrictive diet I have ever seen. I do not want to end up that way too.
      I hope you make it through and get the answers you need.

      1. Thursday Next

        The two things I keep telling myself are, “the elimination phase is not forever” and “better now than letting things get worse and therefore harder.”

        But. Saturdays my daughter wants to eat out between activities; I actually submitted my original post from the bagel shop. And she wants ice cream on the weekend—it’s usually my husband’s outing with her, but he’s not here this weekend. So it’s just me taking her to all these Palaces of Temptation. :)

        I will try to be strong!

    4. I'm A Little Teapot

      That’s tough. Glad you’ve got the pieces in place to support you, but let’s be honest: this problem was installed by your MOTHER when you were tiny. Seriously, this goes back to before you can actually remember. It’s deep, its ingrained, and of course it’s really really hard to get rid of. It’s not your fault. You did nothing wrong to deserve that abuse. This might be silly, but get kids/friends/SO/people who LOVE you to write something or other that you can tape to your mirror? A reminder when you need it that you are loved isn’t going to go amiss.

      Re your kids – they’re growing up in a world that is really messed up around food/weight/appearance. All you can do is do your best to teach them how to be healthy, and be honest about the challenge.

      1. Thursday Next

        That’s a good suggestion re. reminders of being loved. I’m going to get on that!

        The power of mothers is astonishing. I think it’s so much easier to inflict damage than to effect a proportional amount of good. That’s part of why I’m so anxious that I don’t warp my own kids, knowing how Sisyphean the task of undoing my mother’s damage is.

    5. smoke tree

      I’ve done this kind of diet before, and I actually find the intensity of it makes it easier to follow than just trying to modify my regular diet consistently. Part of what worked for me was focusing on following all of the specifications of the diet as closely as possible rather than thinking about what I wasn’t supposed to have. It was so different from my regular diet that I actually found it easier to maintain–kind of like how it can be easier to establish new habits in an unfamiliar setting. Another thing that helped was that partway through my sense of taste got a reset. After a few weeks of having no processed food or added sugar, fruit started to taste incredibly good. I also noticed that I started to feel noticeably better after two or three weeks. Part of me would like to go back to eating that way full time but it was an awful lot of work. Anyway, I hope this helps despite all of my rambling! Good luck!

      1. Thursday Next

        Thanks! This is definitely alien terrain for me, and think that does make it easier, because I’m not trying to figure out how to limit my intake of something I like. I’ve also been finding that I’m less hungry, because nothing I can eat is very appealing, or it takes more time to prepare than I have energy for. I wasn’t expecting that. :)

        I’m already at a point where apples taste reeeallly good, so that’s a positive.

    6. Brunch with Sylvia

      I am also currently following a strict diet for medical reasons. I began listening to a podcast for people who have 100+ pounds to lose (though that is not my situation). I did not think that I had a lot of issues surrounding food but I was running some scripts in my head that are defeating: “everyone else gets to eat this, but I can’t…I feel so deprived…I deserve this…etc”. Anyway, this podcaster recommended cutting through that BS and it has been a way for me to sort of detach from food as 1) reward 2) escape 3) center of family and social life. The script she suggests is “I am choosing this (for health, weight loss, whatever your reason)” not “this is happening to me”.
      She has a strong message of being in control by planning.
      For me, this has helped me to stick to my plan. There are all sorts of weird things about the podcast that don’t exactly make me want to recommend it specifically.

      1. Thursday Next

        Control is such a complex and recurring issue when it comes to eating, isn’t it? I’ll add this to my script repertoire. Thanks!

      2. anon attorney

        I think this is a really important insight – not just in relation to food. Of course we can’t control everything in our lives and there is a limit to what any individual can do about structural inequalities and economic trends, but framing such things as choices gives us power over them as far as we can. I have recently been trying to develop new habits around food which are partly, but not solely, about weight loss. It has helped to say to myself “I am going to cook X because it will nourish me, and eating nourishing food will give me more energy and I want to care for my body by giving myself good quality fuel” rather than “I can’t have Y because I’m a terrible fat person, why am I not the kind of person who can eat Y and weigh less, it’s not fair that I can’t have Y”. I’m trying to get to the point where a Big Mac is not a treat or a reward but actually a punishment, in the sense that it’s actually disrespectful and destructive to my body to give it something so poor to work with. So ‘good’ food is reframed as food that provides nourishment and an appropriate amount of energy, not necessarily the foods I would normally see as a treat. This is a work in progress. I still want to eat all the chocolate.

        For me it is not so much about food as a replacement for love, but food as reward. Breaking the link between food and reward is difficult both culturally (we are constantly urged to ‘treat ourselves’) and, I think, at the level of our neurochemistry – the reward circuitry is sensitive to what we put into it. I am trying to break the link by finding nonfood things to use as rewards or treats. I think I am making some progress. The other week I chose a salad over a burger and chips in a restaurant – not because I was denying myself, but because I genuinely thought the salad looked great. That felt like a bit of rewiring had connected.

        These things are hard and we don’t live in a neutral space but in cultures which have a vested interest in making us feel insecure and using consumption to manage emotional needs. It sounds like everyone on this thread is doing something difficult with thoughtfulness and care for themselves and others. Wishing us all well.

        1. Thursday Next

          The things we say to ourselves, about ourselves, can be far more cruel than anything we’d hear anywhere else. I think coming up with a set of positive scripts around food, like your examples, is going to be helpful. It sounds like you’ve made good headway in rewiring your reward circuit!

          Yes, good luck and best wishes to us all.

    7. food

      I’m similar in that I can trace my food issues directly to my mother (including being denied food others had access to). For me, I do best when it’s not about me being strong or resisting temptation it’s when I am 100% with myself in my food choices. When I’m trying to be strong, there is something going on that I “fighting” internally with my mother, and my job is to find out what that is so it can be addressed. I often tell her in my mind to f- off so I can get to the thing that is the source of the wish to eat too much/something I know is bad for me, basically something not in my best interest. When I’m really with myself, I can decide to have dessert for example and be totally ok with it because it’s a fully conscious decision, not one made to deal with a non-hunger feeling. It’s terribly hard work, but so, so, so worth it.

      1. Thursday Next

        This is very powerful, thank you. I will try to be more mindful in the moment of what my drive to eat something is actually about. I think I might borrow your specific F off strategy. Maybe it would help me to direct my anger toward someone other than myself.

    8. AliceBD


      I can’t help with this portion much but maybe focus on how much better you will feel? I didn’t do an elimination diet but I have certain foods I can’t eat – trial and error and a list of foods that commonly cause issues for people with my diagnosis made it not too difficult to figure out. People will go “oh wow I can’t imagine not eating x ever again” and make it sound like it is some big tragedy and have I tried medication for it? Yes I have but not eating x fixes the issue, it’s not too difficult to avoid x, and most of all I have absolutely zero desire to eat x because I will feel so physically bad so soon after eating it. It’s not an allergy (I can prepare food with x without issue and eating x won’t send me to the hospital, just will make me feel unwell) but the difference between eating x and not eating x is night and day. It was incredible when I gave up x and then realized a few weeks later how my baseline level of daily life improved. I had been low key unwell daily and had not realized it until it went away, like having a headache every single day for a decade and then suddenly not having it.

      (X for me is actually several foods, some of which were more integrated into my diet than others. I have not named them because the exact foods don’t matter and I don’t want others making comments.)

      1. Thursday Next

        Thanks! I’m hoping this will yield similar information about foods that make me feel unwell. Feeling well is a powerful motivation to give up a food, and I think I’ll be fine with that as long as I don’t have to give up everything I’ve given up for the elimination diet.

        People can get awfully nosy about eating habits and medical conditions, can’t they? I’m sorry people have given you a hard time.

    9. Ellie

      When meeting with your endocrinologist, ask about victoza. If you don’t have an endocrinologist, get one, then ask about victoza. I have similar health and food issues. It has been an almighty life saver in helping me deal with food stuff. I’d bore you to tears with details, but in short, it can help with weight loss (it’s originally for people with blood sugar issues), but more importantly it affects how you process food/want food, which can give you the mental space to deal with some of those issues. Cannot praise it and my endocrinologist enough.

      1. Thursday Next

        This is interesting! I just saw my endo on Thursday, and we talked about Metformin because even though my numbers don’t indicate it, she thinks I have insulin resistance, based on other symptoms. So we are definitely talking about pharmaceutical aids. It’s an ongoing dialogue, so I’ll leave a message for her. Thanks!

        1. Ellie

          Oh, heavens, metformin was FANTASTIC!! Getting on it was so great- sure, its side effects are ugh, but for the first time in my life, I was able to just be hungry like a normal person. I’d pretty much been insulin resistant always, but that wasn’t something folks looked for back in the day. On metformin, I could wake up and think, “Breakfast sounds good,” instead of literally rolling out of bed to immediately drink juice because my blood sugar was so low my hands were shaky …

  23. Family Travel Dread

    Did anyone else ever reach a point of no more family vacations?

    I’m in my late 20’s, living on my own. My younger brother and sister are in their early 20’s, still in college and living at home with our Mom and Dad. I am invited to the yearly family vacation and, though I know I am blessed to have parents who pay for the whole trip, I hate it more often than not. Despite the wonderful destinations we go to, I spend more time being frustrated with my family than enjoying myself.

    I am an early bird who would rather be up in the morning to enjoy the whole day and relax in the evening, while they like to sleep in, get up in the afternoon and go late into the night. I want to do museums and historical places, they want to party on the beach and shop. I compromise constantly with them but get little leeway in my direction. And these are usually to places where it’s impossible to breakaway from the group, where we’re sharing a rental car or on a cruise ship or the like; I can’t call an Uber and go my own way.

    I’m writing this from my current vacation with my mom and sister in a country abroad. I thought this would be better being a just girls trip but I’m still at my wits end with them, counting down the days til I can go home. I’m up early wanting to go out while they sleep, they finally get up, we spend two hours site-seeing, and then they’re ready for drinking over dinner and some shopping. The stick-shift rental car means only my Mom can drive it, and when I mentioned taking public transport, my mom did not want me to go, saying it was too far, would cost too much money, we didn’t know how the public transport worked in this country, assured me we’d have time to go to where I wanted to go, which we did about 30 minutes before it closed and had to rush through it. What’s worst is that she and my sister keep talking about how the time is flying by and there’s not enough time to do everything we want to do, and I just want to scream at them that if they got up and dressed before noon, we’d have the time. And every damn day has been like this.

    I’m happy to hang out with them on any other occasion (holidays, weekend trips to visit extended family); it’s just the long, out of town vacations with my family that I dread. I have declined family vacations now and then in the past due to work schedules, which doesn’t bother them. (I was eternally grateful for the last one I skipped because it was an all-included resort where the entire family got drunk every night, definitely something I was glad not to witness) But to constantly refuse trips would probably raise some questions. But I’d rather keep coming up with excuses than be miserable at a location that is meant to be fun. Am I a terrible daughter for wanting to skip these vacations?

    1. The Other Dawn

      No, you’re not a terrible person. You have a right to not want to have a miserable time. I don’t have advice, but can definitely relate, as this has happened to me twice in the last year.

      I’m very much like you, whereas my cousin (first trip) and sister (second trip)…are not. It was so frustrating with my cousin because she’s a late riser, can’t eat until two hours after her thyroid meds that she takes when she gets up, is much older so doesn’t have as much energy (which is actually no big deal) and eats a lot of junk during the day so isn’t hungry at the agreed-upon meal time. My sister is an earlier riser (a good thing!), but runs on coffee, cigarettes and junk food–she doesn’t really eat meals and isn’t hungry for anything until several hours after she gets up, because the coffee and cigarettes suppress her appetite. And when she does get hungry, it’s a donut here, snack mix there, maybe a brownie, etc. Honestly, it was worse being with my sister–at least my cousin ate actual meals.

      UGH I feel your pain. I basically decided that if I vacation with either of them again, I’m going to make sure I have some protein bars and healthy snacks, and go out on my own if necessary. I’m not going to constantly wait around for someone to want to eat, or hang around waiting for people to get up if there’s something I really want to do–it’s my vacation, too.

      1. Family Travel Dread

        I completely feel you on the meals; we’ve been clashing over that too! My mom and sister prefer to eat a big brunch when they wake up, which makes them even more sluggish and not eager to go out, and then a big long dinner and drinks in the evening. I prefer to eat smaller meals throughout the day so they are confused when I need a small meal between morning and evening.

    2. WellRed

      You are not terrible, but if you decide to go, you need to take more control over your own schedule. You are a grown woman and if you want to take the local train, take it. Also, can you help plan the destination so you can pick something that works for everyone? Rent more than 1 car?

      1. Family Travel Dread

        Since it’s a family vacation and my sibs are younger and still dependent on Mom and Dad, my parents are used to making the decisions and don’t want my input. Like I said on this current trip, when I tried to say I could take public transportation to do something else and meet my mom and sister later, my mom was quick to shut that down.

        The conversations about trips usually go ‘Hey, daughter. Here is where we’re going this year. Are you in or not?’ I’m picky about the destination so there’s no need to quarrel on that, it’s activities when we get there that I can’t get them to compromise on.

        1. Chameleon

          Instead of *suggesting* the idea of doing your own thing and meeting up later, what would happen if you just…did it? When you wake up and they are still sleeping, just leave a note saying “I went out to do X! Have a great brunch and I’ll meet you at Y at 2:00!”

          It’s not like they can stop you; they are asleep!

          1. tangerineRose

            What Chameleon said. Enjoy your morning stuff while the others sleep in.

            I’m not a morning person, so I can sympathize with wanting to sleep in on vacation, but that shouldn’t require that you sit around and do nothing.

          2. King Friday XIII

            This! Your mom is still seeing you as a kid but you are an adult, you can decide to ride the train, you can leave the house when you want to. This is a kind of boundary setting you are allowed to do.

          3. Doc in a Box

            Oh god, if I did this, there would be hell to pay. I’m 33 and still go on annual family vacations with my parents and 30-year-old brother (it’s either that or traveling solo, and I’m such an introvert I’d hate that). My mom is actually really good at planning things that everyone will enjoy, but if either me or my brother go off alone, she freaks out. I think this stems from an incident when we were small and wandered away from her in the mall, but still. I’m working on setting boundaries with her….

            1. Lissa

              Sorry if I’m misreading, but why would an introvert hate travelling solo? Wouldn’t that be preferred?

              1. Chameleon

                As an introvert it’s hard make new friends or talk to strangers, so it could get lonely. (I am an introvert who adores traveling solo, but that would be a perspective)

                1. Jojobean

                  This. I’m an introvert who has been traveling solo the past few years and have found it incredibly lonely. I just…can’t start talking to people. I just can’t.

                  But the alternative is to not travel, so I suck it up and go anyway.

            2. Marion Ravenwood

              I hear that. When I go on my aforementioned family holiday, my mum always says ‘oh you don’t have to hang around with us, go off and do your own thing!’, but I know that if we actually did do that for more than one day of the week-long trip then we’d never hear the end of it (not from her but from other relatives). Husband and I don’t drive either and the area we go to doesn’t have great public transport, so we’re a bit restricted in where we can go on our own anyway.

              1. Family Travel Dread

                Yeah that’s exactly what my mom did on this trip. She said ‘This is a girls trip but we can also split up to do our own thing’, but the one time I suggested doing that in a city with public transportation, she flipped out. If there is a next time for me on a family vacation, I think I will just wander out on my own with a note to them that I’ll meet them later, to hell with the consequences.

          4. AcademiaNut

            That’s what occurs to me.

            Decline to go on trips where you really will be trapped with your family without any options, and go to the ones that are, say, in a city that’s walkable or has public transit. Google makes navigating foreign public transit *waaaay* easier than it used to be (Google “point A to point B” and select the transit option).

            Then, when you’re there, do a bit of research about public transit, museum hours and so on, and prep your stuff before you go to bed. When you wake up early, have a shower, grab your stuff and head out the door, leaving a note saying that you’re spending the morning at X and will be back by time they usually finish brunch and get moving.

            Museums typically tend to open about 9, so you could get a nice walk in a historical area and breakfast at local cafe, or a visit at a morning market, and spend three hours at a museum before joining them. Then, leave them to their drinking in the evening and head back to the hotel.

            But overall, decide how often you are willing to do this for family harmony, and pick the least annoying option – 1 in 3 for example?

          5. Mad Baggins

            At a recent family get-together here’s what we did with the plan to leave at noon:
            Parents: up by 7am. Gym, eat small breakfast, read and lounge until we left
            Sibling: sleep till 11:30, shower in a rush
            Cousin: left at 7am to take the train downtown. Did some shopping, took the train back and met us at noon
            Me: up at 3 am due to jetlag, gym and leisurely breakfast, nap 10-11am, ready to leave by 12.

            I think every family vacation with adult children should incorporate separate schedules with shared meals/activities/whatever works. Also think of how you vet your friends before deciding to travel together–it’s fine to decide not to travel with your family, or do your own parallel vacation to them!

    3. Reba

      As my sibs and I entered adulthood the trips gradually (though not always smoothly) transitioned into shorter, more low key get togethers, like a weekend at the beach rather than 10-day trips. Fortunately for me we all seem to have fairly compatible travel styles, but still… It’s ok not to do everything together. Another thing is that once we (offspring) were mostly partnered up, it seemed natural that we would do our “main” vacations with a partner and only have smaller amounts to give to family stuff.

      I know it’s a privilege to even be thinking about the different types of vacations! But that doesn’t mean they are all fun or stress-free.

      You can think about whether you want to have a new-standard-setting conversation, or just continue to decline a lot of them. Or are there ways you can make these kinds of trips work for you–join only for part of the time, do your own thing during the day and meet for dinner? That is, if there are still parts of the trips that you’re getting something rewarding out of, like family closeness, not just to avoid a tough conversation! Good luck.

    4. LCL

      Here’s a different perspective which doesn’t answer your question but might help. In my family, and in lots of families, family vacations are only a thing with kids at home. Once the kids are on their own, no more family vacations. There will be the occasional one off vacation of a lifetime/special event, but it isn’t expected that grown children will ever vacation with their parents.

      I feel your frustration. By nature I am a night owl, but I work early bird hours. For some vacations and leisure time, I force myself to get up early or otherwise I miss the activity. But I also love sleeping in, having a late breakfast, then after some wandering around having a late dinner and drinks. What you described your family doing would drive me nuts if I was in a place I had never seen.

      1. Family Travel Dread

        I think that vacations with the kids will always be a thing for my parents. My uncle (dad’s brother) still does family vacations with their kids, one of whom is older than me and married. So it’s not entirely an abnormal thing in my family. I think it would be more abnormal for me to set my own schedule or to-do list on the trip but it would certainly be worth it for my own peace of mind, or to just start declining trips more often.

    5. Kj

      No. Skip them. Vacation is precious and you should do something you enjoy. If you feel obligated to travel with them from time to time, I might plan to meet them for the last day or two of a trip, then after they leave, you go on to do the destination the way you want. But you are under NO obligation to do this. You can just decline to travel with them.

    6. Marion Ravenwood

      I would say no, you’re not a terrible person. But I’ve been in a similar situation myself for a while, so I understand where you’re coming from. (Long story short, we go away with my family for a week every year, and for various reasons my husband hates it. I’m not wild about it myself, but I tolerate it because it’s basically the only chance I get to see my family.)

      If they’re OK with you occasionally skipping these trips, how would you feel about perhaps not going for the whole holiday? So if they’re going for a week, you go for three or four days, possibly with the excuse of work (or something else) if needed. We did that this year and it actually worked really well (although granted it was partly helped by not seeing one family member who my husband and I don’t really get on with). Obviously this is dependent on where you’re going etc but it might be a good compromise between seeing/spending time with your family and not getting frustrated by being around them all the time.

      1. Family Travel Dread

        I did actually try to plan to join my sister and mom halfway through the trip, to save on my PTO, but they insisted I be here from the start. Since I thought the trip would be more manageable with just us girls, I went with it. But thinking on it, in college, my spring break was different from my siblings’ high school spring break, which was a good excuse for me to skip the trip; but even when I tried to say I could skip one day of class and join for a three day weekend, my parents didn’t think there was much point. They seem to think all or nothing when it comes to vacations.

    7. heckofabecca

      I just got back on Thursday from a vacation to Italy with my mother—never again!!! (I’m 27 and married—my husband is still working out the school year, but as a uni student I finished ahead of him.) Spending extended time with my mom does not bring out the best in me.

      You are absolutely not a bad person for wanting to spend your time in ways that will be fun and good for you! Vacations are not and should NEVER be an obligation. Especially when you know it will invariably make you be less than your best self towards people you love.

      It’s fine to make excuses to avoid unpleasant experiences, especially if you show in other ways that you still value them—and it sounds like you know exactly the best ways for you to show them that. I hope the rest of your trip passes easily and you’re able to have some fun!

      1. Family Travel Dread

        Thankfully the trip is coming to an end tomorrow because it has been more frustrating than not. But it was a good lesson that, coupled with the helpful comments here, I think will help me to either form my own schedule on the next family vacation or excuse myself from future invitations. Thank you for the sympathetic comment!

    8. Middle School Teacher

      I get it. I love my family, but I don’t like them enough to spend that much time with them.

    9. Loves Libraries

      I can see not wanting to go on an ocean cruise with them. My husband and I are going on a river cruise. It might be easier for all to do their own thing during the day. You would still get museums and history (I love them too) and they could shop on their own or stay on the ship and be lazy.
      On a big city vacation why can’t you call an Uber to go where you want to go or use public transportation?

    10. Manatees are cool

      I was in a similar situation to you two years ago. My stepfather hates the beach whereas I love the beach, Mum has to march through museums and barely stops to read the information cards. So I got up early and went and did my own thing some days, went to the historical sites and took as much time as I wanted, went to the beach with just Mum whilst my stepdad and brother went and did something else. We still spent time together doing other things and we all had dinner together, just those few hours apart made the holiday happier.

    11. Sunflower

      I would skip it. It seems like you have significant lifestyle differences with your family. That’s fine, but it probably isn’t going to change and will always be an issue. I also assume that there are other issues that these vacations probably brings up for you. If your family are drinkers and you are not and don’t want to witness it that is pretty significant.

      You also should consider what you are giving up to attend. Even though you parents pay, you might only have so many vacation days. I personally would rather save for a vacation I want.

      1. Family Travel Dread

        Yeah, this vacation, I’m using up most of PTO for it. I was fine when I thought it would be easier to comprise with just my mom and sister, but now right at the end of the trip, I feel each day slipping by and thinking of all the ways I’d rather use it.

        I don’t mind a drink over dinner, but my family definitely drinks to excess. They also love wine tastings and the like but as someone who would rather just a simple rum and coke, I get nothing out of them.

        You put it an excellent way: we have major lifestyle differences that definitely clash on long vacations. Thank you for your thoughts!

    12. Nancie

      Ugh. I’m in my 50s and still vacation with my parents, but it would never work if they weren’t cool with us sometimes splitting up to do our own things.

    13. dear liza dear liza

      Yes. What works for me:
      1. The family vacation is not the only vacation I take a year. I frame it more as a family reunion, and expect all the joys and tribulations that entails. Going to see things is secondary, and that’s okay, because I have Cheap But All About Me trip planned for another time.
      2. I go out alone. Others can come with me- or not. But if I’m awake and they’re not, or they want to sit by the pool and I want to explore, then they do them and I do me. During trip planning, I build in my independence. That can mean the rental car we get has to be automatic, or I rent my own car, or that the hotel we stay at is near public transportation. But I will not be trapped. This does require a setting of boundaries that may or may not work for you. Family members put the plan together and then I make it work for me. If my mom expressed concerns about public transportation, I’d say, “I’ll figure it out!” and go on my merry way. But I also know if I didn’t, I’d pout and get resentful and everything would be miserable.

      When I first started going out on my own, I did get some pushback because Family Tiiiiimmmee. But I was just cheerfully independent, and now they’re used to being ditched sometimes.

      1. Bibliovore

        This. It will be shocking at first, but you do not have to do everything with them. It took me the longest time to say, I will come but don’t buy theater tickets for me. I don’t enjoy sitting for that long a time. I enjoy your company but I am not going to join you on the hike. I will read and see you when you get back. Leaving a note, I am taking the bus into town for coffee and to write, text me when you get up and we can go over the day’s plan.

      2. Family Travel Dread

        You’re right, I need to push back on being able to do my own thing. My mom even said at the start of the trip that I could my own thing but when I suggested my taking a taxi to do something else, she was completely against it. She assured me that we would get to the thing I wanted to do but still took her time, my sister too, and we got there just before it closed. I need to take a stand about doing my own thing and meeting up with them later. Thank you!

    14. Blue Eagle

      You sound just like me. How about you skip the vacation with your family, I’ll skip the vacation with my family and we can go on a vacation where we get up early and sightsee and check out all of the cool places in the vacation location and just skip all of the drinking and “partying”.

      If your family’s idea of vacation is not your idea of vacation, why would you waste your limited vacation time from work (even if someone else is paying for it) to do something that you do not enjoy? My advice – skip the family vacation to do what you enjoy and do NOT feel guilty about it.

      1. Family Travel Dread

        Yes please, I love this idea! I much more prefer to vacation with my friends; we have much more similar vacation styles, and we don’t take offense if we do split the group.

        You hit the nail on the head with the paid vacation. I guess I feel more inclined to say yes because I know I’m not in a position to afford vacations to these abroad locations on my own for the next few years but I think at this point, I’d rather a cheaper local vacation of getting to do what I want than being miserable abroad in the UK, Virgin Islands, or what have you.

    15. TheLiz

      You should skip these. You hate them, and it’s not exactly quality time if you’re sniping at each other. While you’re still where ever you are, consider “I’m waking up and going out two hours before you guys are even up – I’ll meet y’all for lunch.” I got some mileage out of this when on a party weekend-type deal with friends. I wanted to hit some museums, they wanted to see the biggest sights then drink all evening. We spent afternoons and evenings together, and I tanked the lost sleep. If your parent says public transport will cost too much, tell her you’ll pay out of your own pocket – I suspect you’ll find the money lost well worth it for the de-stressing.

      1. Family Travel Dread

        Oh I was definitely going to pay my own way when I suggested to my mom that I meet up with her and Sister later, but she still didn’t want me to do it. I should have stood my ground but I didn’t want to start an argument when we were going to be stuck in the rental car later that day for two hours headed to our next destination. I think if I do go on another family trip, I will have to make my parents agree in advance that I can do my own thing and meet them later, so then I have something to push back on if they try to stop me.

        Thank you for the thoughts!

        1. Bibliovore

          try to divorce the money from obligation. It seems that your mom has money and you don’t. It also seems that you do want to go on these trips but feel trapped. What helps me is to see my part. Instead of trying to compromise and negotiate, make your own plan. “starting an argument” “make my parents agree”d. I have been married for over thirty years. The best advice that I ever got in terms of relationships is that you don’t have to participate in every fight that you are invited to.
          It sounds like your family wants to be with you. To me that is great.
          It also sounds like you have people pleasing tendencies. Perhaps work on that.
          Write down what makes a trip great for you and see if there is match. if not, perhaps pass on one.

        2. ..Kat..

          I think the problem is family dynamics. You try to be an adult, take a cab to event, and you let your mom veto it. You could have taken a cab, they could have met you there later. You suggest you do reasonable, adult thing, you let your mom veto it. And you are miserable. You will probably be happier taking your own vacations for now. When your mom treats you like an adult (and when you don’t let her treat you like a child who is not allowed to make her own decisions), you can have pleasant vacations together.. I am trying to think of a way to say this that doesn’t sound harsh, but am failing. This is a common family dynamic for young adult children. Your mom is happy with the results, you are not. So, you are going to have to do the work. Part of the problem seems to be that you feel you have to get your mom to agree with you before you do what you want. But, you don’t.

          1. Family Travel Dread

            I totally get what you’re saying and you’re not being too harsh about it. I normally don’t have a problem making plans with my family that work for all of us, with me meeting them for meals or day outings now and then. I think the problem with the abroad family vacation is that, since my mom paid for it, I’m more inclined to do what she wants to do. She and my Dad paid for the flights, the rental car, the hotels, the food that we’ve eaten. Since they’re paying for it all, I feel bad saying ‘Thanks for spending your money on me to be here with you, now I’m going to go off and do my own thing away from all of you’.

            So though it would have been my own money for me to take a cab and go do my own outing, and meet with my mom and sister later, I still felt like I should go with my mom’s wish for me to stay, since my entire presence on the trip is on her dollar. Im definitely happier taking my own vacations, and I do plenty on my own; it’s just the big annual family vacation that I’m thinking of skipping if there’s no way to salvage my own enjoyment from it.

            1. ..Kat..

              I see what you are saying. My husband and I passed on a 2 week vacation to a really nice overseas place with my parents and family. My parents would pay for pretty much everything. But, I would have been trapped doing exactly what my parents wanted when they wanted. This would have been horrible for me (even if you forget the fact that my parents are toxic and abusive to me). So, my husband and I passed. One of the best decisions that I have ever made.

              1. Family Travel Dread

                I don’t have a family history like you do but you’re right about the trapped feeling. Right now I’m hiding in my room, headphones to full blast, to drown out my mom and sister drinking and laughing loudly, nearing midnight, in the kitchenette. I have felt incredibly trapped this entire trip, from the stick-shift rental car only my mom can drive so she sets the timing of our comings and goings to being dragged along to every meal, when I’d be happy with a book in a quiet cafe, people-watching.

                And no lie, as I’m typing this, my mom tipsily wandered into my room to kiss me and say how happy she is that I was on this trip and she’s had a great time and she loves me. I smiled, nodded, and confirmed the time of our flights tomorrow when all I want to do is scream at her that I have been miserable all this trip and never want to travel with her again, no matter if she is picking up the bill.

        3. Southernbelle

          See, the thing is, you don’t need your family’s consent for you to do your own thing. You need to want to do it more than you *don’t* want their disapproval/hurt feelings/whatever. Your boundary is “I’m doing X instead” and maybe their boundary is “we’re not paying for your trip next year” and those are both okay!

        4. Rusty Shackelford

          I think if I do go on another family trip, I will have to make my parents agree in advance that I can do my own thing and meet them later, so then I have something to push back on if they try to stop me.

          But it sounds like you already had that agreement for this trip, didn’t you?

    16. Cruciatus

      I wouldn’t stop them…yet! Keep that idea in your back pocket. But first, without asking permission tell everyone you’re going to X at 8am if anyone wants to join you, but otherwise you can meet everyone at 11 for brunch (or whatever). See if you can claim some of the vacation back for yourself first and see how they take it. If it all goes over badly the rest of this trip then, OK, be done! But maybe you’ll find that once they get used to the idea of you doing your own thing it becomes less of a big deal.

      1. Family Travel Dread

        That’s a really good point! Start doing my own thing on the next trip and if they make a fuss, then start bowing out completely. I think that sounds like a great idea.

        1. tangerineRose

          If you bow out of family vacations a few times, your family members may be more likely to give you more freedom if you decide to join again.

        2. Cruciatus

          Why wait until your next trip? If you’re still traveling, try something now! Worst case scenario you’re near the end of your trip so at least it’ll be over soon if it doesn’t go well. But maybe you can get a few days to do things you want to do. Good luck!

    17. I'm A Little Teapot

      do your own vacations. If they get upset, just tell them that you’ve realized that they and you have very different vacationing styles, they don’t mix well, and you want them to enjoy themselves without having to fuss with you.

    18. Beth Anne

      I think you need to create some boundaries. I still vacation with my family and love it but I know it’s not for everyone. One thing I might do in your shoes is maybe getting your own hotel room and meet up with them at certain times.

      Our next family vacation is a cruise which I love because we all have our own rooms and for the most part during the day do our own thing and just have dinner together.

    19. Mamaganoush

      Why are you waiting for them to wake up? Get up, go out, do your thing, come back after they’ve had breakfast, go out and do something with them.

    20. Pat Benetardis

      This is so interesting, as a mother of teens. I do try to plan our trips so there is something for everyone. And often I am up for 4-5 hours in the am before others are up and I go for a walk or something. But when we have planned something for the day, I expect everyone to get up and get going. I’m pretty sure that when they’re grown, if I’m still paying/they’re still coming, it’s going to be because I want to spend time with them. But I still think I’d plan trips with everyone’s tastes in mind. But also, my dime, my itinerary. Although we shared a beach house with extended family and basically everyone was on their own for the day if they wanted, meeting up for dinner.

    21. Environmental Compliance

      I feel ya. I’m at that point with the in-laws. They’re very kind & inclusive, but I cannot travel with my MIL. She drives me batty. Last vacation, her, FIL, Hubs and I ended up sharing a hotel room (never again!). Every damn morning at 6:30 she’d walk/trip into our bed repeatedly to open the curtains on the window because she wanted some sun. But she’d also be up until past midnight with a light on reading- and she’s a *loud* reader, lots of sighing and crinkly page turning. I’m on vacation, I want to sleep more than 5 hours a night! She also planned literally nothing but taking our nephew (SIL & family were there too) to the beach, which is fine and dandy, but I don’t want to watch a 2 year old play in the beach for five days straight. I’d like to go into the town and see things, or anything but sit on the sand in a swimsuit handing a toddler plastic toys repeatedly. But leaving to go do anything but what she planned offended her. We left and did our own thing a couple times anyway, since we like having lunch at lunch time (normal meal times mean nothing to her, and she’s infamous for skipping breakfast & lunch, but then 3PM is too close to dinner to finally get food), but her attitude at it kinda ruined the whole thing.

      I also almost left her on a train station in Germany because she gave us <10 minutes to get to an entirely different platform across the station and then wouldn't trust me in reading platform signs & the ticket. She wanted to stop, unpack, get a snack, and read the station map & AAA itinerary first. The entire time leading up to that trip she waxed poetic on how I could be their travel guide since I'm conversational in German and none of the rest of them speak much at all. But once we get there, nooooooo, don't listen to EC, we'll just miss our damn train instead. (We didn't miss the train, as FIL near dragged her after me & Hubs to the platform just in time to get on the train we needed.)

  24. The Other Dawn

    I’m looking for book recommendations. I just read a post-apocalyptic book (a pandemic, similar to Walking Dead with no zombies) and I really enjoyed it. I’m now only book 2. While I really liked the one I just read, the editing is…not so good..and it was distracting. For some reason, I’ve always enjoyed movies that involve disaster on an epic scale, like 2012, Day After Tomorrow, Armageddon, and stuff like that. I’d like to read more, but want to find good ones.

    On another note, I am finally going to meet my two favorite authors: Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child! They’re coming to my state for a lecture and book signing in a couple weeks. I’ve been waiting years for this. Every time they come anyway semi-close, like NY, it’s during the day and I have to work, and it always ends up that there’s something going on at work and I can’t take the time off. The stars have finally aligned and I’m able to go (and it’s only 30 minutes away!), so I got my tickets. The price of the ticket includes the new book, The Pharaoh Key, which they’ll personalize after the lecture.

    1. Chameleon

      Ooh, you might like Daniel DeFoe’s Journal of the Plague Year. It’s not exactly a disaster book, but it is basically about how society reacts to a major disaster (the plague, obv.) Language and pacing are a little old-fashioned as it was written in the late 1600s, but it is one of my favorites. Then again, I’m a little weird.

    2. Hellanon

      Have you read the CJ Sansom series set during the Tudor era? Meticulously well researched & written, and the central character, Matthew Shardlake, is really well drawn. I read them all & recommended them into my circle of dedicated reader friends, and they were well-received…

    3. Rainy

      The Mira Grant Newsflesh books and novellas are fantastic if you at all like zombies. And of course, I highly recommend anything by Sheri Tepper. Most of her books are near- or far-future, and if you like post-apocalyptic stuff I think you’ll like her. I’d start with The Gate to Women’s Country. I think you’ll like it.

      1. Claire (Scotland)

        Seconding the recc for the Newsflesh universe, and adding one for Into the Drowning Deep by the same author if you are up for disaster involving mermaids.

      2. Bookwyrm

        I fourth the Newsflesh books!

        I still haven’t been able to read the most recent book because it parallels some current events in the world that are too upsetting for me to read but the original trilogy and all the novellas are wonderful! I love the story so much! Plus the author, Mira Grant, AKA Seanan McGuire, is a delight and a riot at conventions. Definitely look up her panels on youTube if you have some downtime.

      3. King Friday XIII

        Yep, I was also scrolling down to see who’d beaten me to recommending Mira Grant.

    4. The Other Dawn

      Some good recommendations here, thank you! I what I like about these books, is how society totally breaks down, and how mankind rebuilds and goes on. I really got into the Wayward Pines series by Blake Crouch. It’s not disaster per se, but it’s about survival. I’ve read The Stand by Stephen King, and Swan Song by Robert McCammon. I just read Infection by MP MacDonald, and I’m now reading Isolation, which is the second book in that series. I don’t think I’ve read any others.

      1. the gold digger

        That’s one of the saddest books I’ve ever read. What do you do when you know you have three months? Do you still plant tomatoes?

        (Shute’s other books are very good, as well.)

        1. Logan

          Agreed, although I think it speaks well to a lot of life these days – we only have one life, and we don’t know how long it is, so do what makes you happy.

          And I’d still plant tomatoes – I planted mine two months ago and their flowers yesterday delighted me!

    5. Bookwyrm

      Please please PLEASE read Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel. It’s the only book that I bought multiple copies of to give away as Christmas gifts. It’s an apocalyptic story that is so beautifully written, I would reread passages just to appreciate how they were written. I can’t recommend this book enough, it is my go-to recommendation.

      1. Amey

        Me too! I read this last year and gave it to three different people for Christmas. I’m not sure I’ve ever done that.

    6. Ali G

      Have you read Wool (and the subsequent books)? I can’t remember the name of the author right now, but it sounds like something you would like.

      1. Windchime

        Hugh Howie! I love Wool, and Dust, and all the other Silo books by him.

        Also, there is a post-apocolyptic series by Justin Cronin that starts with the book “Passage” that you might like. Also, and oldie-but-goodie that I just recently re-read was “A Gift Upon the Shore”.

    7. Cruciatus

      The Passage trilogy by Justin Cronin. (This is being turned into a TV show with Mark-Paul Gosselaar and I’m not sure how I feel about that. The promo I’ve seen makes it look like a different kind of show, but I do really recommend the books! The stuff in the promo DOES happen, but other stuff is happening too and they didn’t really show that.) It’s not quite similar to the books you mentioned–more post-apocalyptic though you see what happens before, during, and after. I just read something that compares it to The Stand (which, I KNOW, I KNOW, I’ve never read. So you might like this if you haven’t read it already).

      1. Windchime

        I just mentioned the Justin Cronin books, too. I thought they were so good. Terrifying but good.

    8. kirbyjane

      I recently read Fever by Deon Myer and really enjoyed it. The story is told by a kid who is growing up during the aftermath of a pandemic while his father is trying to rebuild society, so there is an interesting relationship element to it.

    9. catsaway

      New York 2140. Not a 100% apocalypse, but takes place in NYC after climate change has wrecked havoc and killed millions of people worldwide. It’s more political intrigue and mystery and I really liked it because it’s more about the generation after an apocalypse, not the event itself.

    10. Foreign Octopus

      Maybe try Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey. It’s a post-apocalyptic novel that I enjoyed – it’s kind of Walking Dead-esque, I think, because it’s more character driven and there are bursts of action in it.

    11. Anonymosity

      You’re meeting Preston and Child!? AAAAHHHHHHH I AM SO JEALOUS I LOVE THEM ENJOY!!!!

      1. The Other Dawn

        Yes, and I’m so excited!! The new book is from the Gideon Crew series…that I haven’t read yet, but I won’t tell them that! It seems every time they go out on a tour they either don’t come anywhere near my state, or they do and I can’t for some reason. A soon as I saw it in my Facebook feed I jumped right on it.

    12. Anonymosity

      I’m working on one but of course by the time I finish the industry will have moved on. *eyeroll*

    13. Llellayena

      Parable of the Talents and Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. Also, slightly different but still has some post-apocalyptic, Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus by Orson Scott Card (my favorite author!).

    14. The Other Dawn

      Thanks for all the recommendations! I’ve added every single one of them to Goodreads as a “want to read.” Just have to say that I’m so happy I discovered Good Reads. I can now keep track of all the books I’ve read. It’s getting to the point where I can’t remember if I read a book or not, so I download it and start reading, only to discover that I’ve read it. (I have a crappy memory)

    15. A Million Streetlights

      I love post apocalyptic fiction!

      I would totally recommend many of the books already mentioned, and maybe add a couple of older classics – I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, and Day Of The Triffids by John Wyndham.

      For newer options, I really enjoyed The World After by D L Gore, and loved Freakangels by Warren Ellis and Paul Duffield. Freakangels is still available to read for free online, although it is also available in book format.

      I have added to my own reading list as a result of this thread, thank you!

      1. Ellie

        I cannot even contain my jealousy st you getting to meet Preston and Child. They are NEVER EVEN CLOSE to me.

        And have you read James Rollins?

  25. Chameleon

    So, I just found out that the neighbors in back of us have two kids just about our daughter’s age (3.5). I’d love to get them together for playdates, but I am pathologically shy and the very thought of knocking on the door of total strangers (and from a different culture, which isn’t a problem but makes me worried even more that I’ll do something dumb or be unwelcome) seizes up my whole throat.

    Shy parents, how do you deal with making friends for your kids?

    1. KatieKate

      Can you invite them out somewhere, like a park? Or invite them over? Something low barrier so you can get to know each other.

      1. Chameleon

        Mmm…the idea of actually spending time in awkward silence with them is way worse than just knocking on the door and saying “hey if the kids want to come over send them.”

        1. Bethany D.

          It’s not easy for me either, but I have to make the effort because my extroverted daughter needs more friend-time than I can give her. I know that it’s awkward to interact with a strange adult, but sending your kids over to play at the house of a complete stranger is rather risky. You have no idea what they are really like or who else might be present. And inviting their kids over without making the slightest effort to get to know the parents first is a lot less likely to be successful than if you actually tried to get to know them first.
          What I would recommend is manufacturing a reason to get to know them. A plate of extra banana bread, a hey we’re walking to the park would you like to go with us, an invitation to a dolls tea party at your house – something that will give you a specific role to play. And as a shy person I’ve found that putting together a short script to follow helps too; like practicing my introduction, three to five questions to keep the conversation flowing, and then a smooth excuse to get back to my nice safe housework before my confidence oozes away.

    2. Forking Great Username

      Do you ever see their kids outside playing? I’m totally awkward with this stuff, but it ended up happening on its own when we’ve gone outside to play and their kids have been out as well.

      1. Chameleon

        Their backyard buts up against our backyard (so we are actually on different streets). The fence is tall and wood, but there is a loose board that the kids have sometimes actually crawled through to fetch a waylaid ball. I just don’t really see the parents except occasionally they come out to the back porch to yell at the kids for three seconds and then go back inside. I’d be happy to let the kids just come over and play but I feel like I should talk to the parents about it first…

    3. Anono-me

      Does your neighborhood have a web or Facebook site ? If so, you may be able to use it to reach out to these neighbors and/or others with a post.

    4. Ann O.

      Failure, mostly. :( My daughter has met two kids on our block in a totally natural way, and we’ve utterly failed to follow up on exchanging contact info for play dates and the like.

      Our plan has been to send letters with our email address and something along the lines of “hey, our kids are around the same age and liked playing with each other–if you ever want to send them over to play, they’re welcome”. Maybe one day we’ll actually do it. :)

    5. Self employed

      The least weird thing is to go over with a plate of cookies, say hey, and bring your kids. Just take five minutes and you’re going to come across as friendly! Think about the upside and go for it!

  26. Lcsa99

    So our clothes hamper sucks. The first week we had it, one of the wheels fell off. I tried to re attach it but they don’t work, and the handle broke off as well. I know we should just toss it and get another, but we haven’t found anything we like better that were willing to pay that price (why is something that’s essentially a giant bucket so expensive?). So I am thinking if I attach casters to the bottom it will at least make the thing a little easier to use. I am fairly handy, and have a decent tool collection, so my question is: Is it actually possible to drill through pretty thick plastic to get the things attached? Is there something I should do to help them stay? Is there a certain type I should look for?

    Or am I being crazy and I should suck it up and just keep looking for a new one?

    1. heckofabecca

      My mom uses a rolling shopping cart, the kind that folds up, and it’s very sturdy! Depending on what exactly you’re looking for, that may be an option. Hope you find something that works!!

      1. Release the horcuxes

        I hate it when products are so shoddily made! I bought an umbrella on Amazon, opened it and it broke in half.

    2. Arrnanon

      Plastic is easy to drill. You’ll probably want washers or something else to reinforce at the attachment point since plastic fatigues easily (likely why you’re having problems to begin with!)

      A piece of plywood glued to the whole bottom is probably really your best bet for sturdiness but that’s a big weight add.

      1. Lcsa99

        Thanks! I do think the plywood would be too much, but getting washers is easy enough. I would assume plastic screws/washers would hold on better, but metal wouldn’t break off as easily.

    3. CAA

      Do you need wheels and a handle? If you’re not actually rolling it anywhere, I’d just take all the other wheels off.

      If you’re looking for something new, I can recommend the Simple Human double hamper. It has two bags, so you sort the laundry as you put it in, then when full you just grab each bag by its handles and lift it from the frame and take it to the laundry room. The frame is steel and the whole thing is very sturdy. Ours looks like new after over 4 years of use.

      1. fposte

        Yeah, I have something like this (but cheaper than Simple Human and plastic, which I did tape together at some point). The hamper rack stays put and I just carry the bags around.

      2. Lcsa99

        Don’t care about the handle but the wheels are important for the convenience. Would rather push something around than carry heavy bags of laundry

  27. Beth Jacobs

    Has anyone ever tried speed dating? I’ve only seen it in movies, but apparently it’s a real thing: the girls sit at tables and the guys move every five minutes. You get some ten mini-dates in one night. In the under-30 category, there appears to be fewer women than men, so it’s significantly cheaper for us :)

    I’m probably going to give it a shot, considering the fact that the way my social life is set up now, I tend to hang out with a closed group of friends rather than meet new people. Not going in with high expectations, but at the very least, I’ll have a story to tell :)

    1. Kj

      I haven’t, but my brother has and he reported it was better than online dating. Apparently though the women tend to come in groups and some of them aren’t very interested in the dating part- he had one woman who just quizzed him about weird stuff (best one was when she asked “what would you do if a bear came at you in the woods?- my brother spent the last 3 years in AK, he had so many specifics to that one!) . Most speed dating things are done by age group, so if you are on the lower or older age of the speed dating event, it can be a little weird, per my brother. But he reported it was mostly fun and he has had a few dates from it.

    2. D.W.

      I did it in South Korea when I was living there. My intention was not to find someone to date, but to find folks to hang out with. It was a ton a fun, a little exhausting (50 men) and I actually met a lot of people who I’m still really good friends with!

      I did go out on a few dates after that as well, but my goal was to make friends and I did that.

    3. Middle School Teacher

      I’ve done it a lot. It’s a fun way to kill an evening. Usually the women get a free drink, so that’s a nice bonus. I haven’t had a real relationship come of it, though.

    4. Elegance

      I have! The other women and I got along really well (we had never met before) and had fun talking to the guys. I got a few dates out of it.

    5. Sherm

      I did it once. It was fun, and everyone was normal. I think whoever invented it was on to something — you can usually tell within a few minutes whether you have a possible connection with someone else. I didn’t get any dates out of it though, but I met some interesting (in a good way!) people, and I still reflect on one of the conversations from time to time.

    6. HannahS

      I did! It was fine but totally exhausting. Low stakes, and I got a couple of dates out of it.

    7. DietCokeHead

      I did try speed dating once. I believe that women outnumbered men and I remember one guy saying he had found the activity on meetup or something similar. I remember having to rate each guy if I was interested or not and then the service followed up if both parties were interested. I didn’t get any dates out of it but I would say it is worth a shot. You never know!

    8. LibbyG

      A friend told me once that she appreciated the speed dating event because she briefly met in person a lot of the people she was also seeing online. I guess a lot of people do both in our medium-sized city? So between the interaction at the event and the more extensive background/values statements online, she could really get acquainted with folks in a low stakes way.

    9. Clever Name

      How do you find speed dating events? I might give that a try. I’ve been online dating for a few months and I’m finding it a slog. Plenty of guys are interested in me but I’m not interested in them. :( I’m finding very few guys I’m interested in on those sites.

      1. Beth Jacobs

        I just Googled “speed dating [City]” and a couple of agencies that host regular events popped up.

    10. Felicia

      I have done it but I’m a lesbian so it was all ladies and everyone moved around . They’ve all been ok. I made one of my very good friends through speed dating 5 years ago.

    11. Yah

      I’ve gone to three speed dating events (to meet a guy). I ended up becoming friends with two girls from two of the events. I dated one guy, and even though it didn’t work out romantically (incompatible lifestyles), intellectually we were very similar and so we decided to be friends.

      Basically, speed dating got me new friends, which is pretty awesome.

  28. Manatees are cool

    Day after tomorrow me and my boyfriend are off to Amsterdam for three days on our first trip abroad together. I’m so excited, we’ve booked tickets for the Anne Frank Museum, and I’ve been learning basic Dutch phrases, it’s easy because it is surprisingly very close to English with words like hello being hallo, thank you is dank je and coffee is koffie.

    1. Loves Libraries

      Enjoy your trip. I would love to see the Anne Frank house and the Rijksmuseum.

      1. AcademiaNut

        Have fun! I quite enjoyed the river tour boat tour along the canals – it’s a good chance to sit down and rest your feet for a while. The level of English in the Netherlands is really high, so if you’ve got hello and thank-you you’ll do fine.

        1. Thlayli

          Yeah I wouldnt worry about learning the language at all. I tried to use Dutch in Amsterdam and all the locals just spoke to me In English constantly so I gave up. It’s highly unlikely you would be in a situation where English doesn’t suffice.

    2. tab

      You’ll enjoy it. When we went we did a self guided walking tour of the Jordaan neighborhood, which is near the Anne Frank house. You can find it on Frommers.

    3. LCL

      And after the Anne Frank House, the Heineken museum. It was either that or go back to the hotel and stay depressed all day.

  29. D.W.

    Indoor Gardening Thread!

    I’m from the South, but I know live in an apartment, in a metropolitan NE city, and I desperately long for a yard so I can start gardening. This would be my first time doing so.

    Are there any people in the same situation who have had success with indoor gardening? What thrives in that environment? What tools should I invest in? The only outdoor “space” I have is a fire escape.

    Hoping to grow some herbs, garlic, peppers, and anything else that can survive without a lot of fuss.

      1. Kitty Kai

        I’m trying out growing on a small patio this year too! My biggest problem is keeping the squirrels from eating my tomatoes. Still haven’t figured out that yet.

        If you want to try to grow out on the fire escape check with the landlord to see if you can use that space first. If you can, be aware fire escapes get really hot and can fry plants if you’re not careful. They are great spaces for cacti, which are easy to for too!

        For indoor veggies, I would recommend veggies like radishes, green onions, garlic, smaller cherry tomatoes like Tiny Tim, and smaller hot pepper plants. The peppers and tomatoes will need good light from a south or west facing window though. Herbs are more forgiving than veggies, so you could have a window box on the inside of your window sill for herbs in any window except a north facing window.

        For easy care houseplants in small spaces I recommend cacti (if you have good sunlight), Hoyas, ZZ plants, and snake plants. They do best if you ignore them.

        Good grow lights are a good investment, as are moisture meters if you worry about watering and having enough light.

        1. Natalie

          Squirrels will be the bane of your existence forever, I’m afraid. It’s a never ending war!

          If your local squirrels haven’t been desensitized to it, try hot pepper wax sprayed onto the plant. (You can buy it online.)

          Otherwise, the best option to keep them away is some kind of cage around the plants.

    1. Chameleon

      I don’t know the situation, but in many cities there is either some common room on the roof, or community gardens that you can join where they give you a little patch to call your own.

    2. Doc in a Box

      I’m about to do the opposite move as you (metropolitan NE city apartment with a small balcony to mid-sized Southern suburban house with a yard). I only know how to garden in pots!

      I’d avoid setting anything on the fire escape, it may be in violation of your lease and could be dangerous in case of an actual fire. Do you have a south or west facing window? Line up small potted herbs along that. Trader Joe’s has seedlings that usually do pretty well indoors.

    3. Ali G

      Herbs are great for growing indoors. You can get one of those large cheap plastic window boxes and get 4-5 different kinds in it. They don’t like a lot of strong sun so they are great for indoors. If you want to use your fire escape, I recommend getting some home depot buckets for your peppers and you could also do tomatoes. I did this when I just had a balcony to grow stuff on. Peppers and tomatoes both need a lot of sun and water. Be prepared to water them almost everyday if they are in a pot and getting a lot of sun.
      Also lettuces do great 100% indoors because they like cooler weather. You can grow them in large tine cans (like the 28 oz canned tomato size).
      Get a high quality, organic potting soil and a trowel. You’ll also need a good watering can. You will be doing a lot of watering :)
      Good luck!

    4. Earthwalker

      We dumped decomposed oak mold into trashbag-lined fruit crates and old bakery buckets and grew an amazing garden on a tiny balcony – peppers, lettuce, radishes, cucumbers, tomatoes, even muskmelon. I also had some good luck growing lettuce and greens in dishpans full of potting soil on the windowsill behind the sink. Just be sure to get really good soil, light composty stuff.

  30. Gas Hog

    Are there any mechanically-inclined car people on AAM? I have a minor question that I’m curious about.

    I have a ten year old Acura, just over 80,000 miles, and it has required minimal repairs over the years. The engine still runs absolutely perfectly, the car still has the same amount of pep as it did when new, but the gas mileage has fallen off by 15-20 percent. I used to get about 30 miles per gallon on trips and now get about 25-26, and used to get about 20-21 mpg in city driving and now get about 18.

    On the Richter scale of things that can go wrong with cars, this doesn’t really rate and I realize how extraordinarily lucky I’ve been on the car front, but I’m planning to do quite a bit of driving this summer and I’m concerned about needing an untimely major repair. Is it just part of a car’s natural aging process that the engine becomes less fuel efficient over time? Or is the decrease in gas mileage a sign that I should brace myself for repairs? I’m not much of a car person and I’m not maniacal with maintenance, but I replace the engine air filter when it’s recommended that I do so, try to keep the right tire pressure, and use the type of fuel and oil that is recommended for the car. Thanks, everyone.

    1. Not So NewReader

      I am not much of a mechanic, but I wondered if the gas lines are leaking just a bit.
      I had a dramatic instance happen. I bought gas. The tank was full. I went less than 5 miles, the tank dropped by 25%. I looked out my rear view. There was a steady line of gas along the road where I had been. It was a bad gas line.
      Maybe you can slide a piece of cardboard under the car on a dry night and check the cardboard for drips in the morning.
      I was told on older cars sometimes the gas lines have to be replaced.

    2. Ali G

      Your fuel injectors might be getting clogged. do you know if they have ever been cleaned? If the fuel is clogging in the injectors then it’s not getting to the engine to fuel it and it’s just wasted.
      If you have a mechanic you trust, you can call and see what they say.

    3. Free Meerkats

      How long has it been since the fuel filter was changed. It’s cheap and simple to do and can mimic dirty injectors. If that doesn’t fix it, I’d get a fuel pressure check to eliminate a weak fuel pump and, as Ali said, get the injectors cleaned.

    4. Cristina in England

      A full service should take care of some of what you describe. If you think about your teeth, you can brush and floss every day but the dentist has special tools that can clean your teeth much more thoroughly than you can at home.

    5. Gas Hog

      Thanks for the responses! To address them:
      –I’m certain my fuel lines are not leaking. That’s scary though!
      –I don’t believe I’ve ever changed my fuel filter or cleaned my fuel injectors! The mechanics I’ve used (whom I haven’t been crazy about, to be honest) constantly have tried to upsell me on things I haven’t needed, but never mentioned those things. I don’t believe I’ve ever changed my spark plugs, either.

      1. I'm A Little Teapot

        cleaning fuel injectors I believe just involves dumping a bottle of something into your full gas tank and then driving as usual. Trip to the auto store should take care of it.

      2. ..Kat..

        Look up the maintenance schedule for your car online. You have been skipping basic maintenance that needs to be done. And definitely should be done before a big trip. Do you have Angie’s List where you live? They can help you find a good mechanic.

        1. Roja

          That’s what I was thinking too. I have a Subaru and follow their 30/60/90,000 mile checks. I’m a bit overdue now for the 90,000 but it’s really good knowing that all the maintenance stuff gets done on schedule. I’m assuming other car brands must do the same thing, so get a mechanic, a good one, and ask what needs to be done preventatively (but do your own research beforehand so you have a rough idea).

        2. LCL

          Yes, check the specific schedule. Your car may be due for timing belt and water pump replacement, that’s not one to put off.

    6. Mechanic's wife

      Are you using the same gas station? I’m thinking you need spark plugs and wires. It’s possible your injectors are dirty but plugs and wires are the easiest way to start.

      Source: my spouse is a former Honda mechanic. If you aren’t a car person, Honda makes Acura.

    7. Thlayli

      I highly recommend that everyone buy the Haynes manual for their specific brand (and year) of car. Haynes manuals are awesome.

  31. Sockpuppy

    I hate going to the dentist. I had some traumatic dental experiences as a child, and I became pretty phobic. It used to be so bad that just hearing a dental drill would make me burst into tears. But over time, it’s gotten better.

    Except we recently did a long-distance move, and I had to pick a new dentist. I went in for a check up this week and just melted down. Truth be told, I’m stressed to the max because of the move and all it entailed, and hearing that I need some dental work was more than I could handle.

    I’d worked up a level of trust with my previous dentist, who had told me at my last cleaning that this type of work was in my near future and I didn’t panic. But now the thought of going through it with a new dentist is petrifying. (I’ve narrowed it down to the length of time. One procedure will be short and that doesn’t bother me. The other one will take a while and the idea of someone monkeying around in my mouth for a long time sets me off.)

    I had told the hygienist and put in my paperwork that I was “fairly phobic,” and while she didn’t scoff or make light of it, I didn’t hear any concrete suggestions as to how to combat it either. Should I ask for All The Drugs? Fly back to my old dentist for all treatment? Other ideas?

    1. CatCat

      Hello, fellow dentalphobe,

      Getting a patient dentist who is good with nervous patients is key. Hard to find a new dentist, but with yelp and everything, it’s so much easier to find such dentists.

      And for some work, you might just want to get the gas. I need it for any kind of procedure that involves drilling. The heightened stress actually impacts the numbing agent so the gas is critical for me to relax. I prefer the gas to other options because it acts quickly and dissipates quickly so you don’t need someone to take you to/from the dentist.

      It’s like $75 more when I get the gas but sooooo worth it.

    2. grace

      They won’t make fun of you, but if your phobia is such that you’ll have a hard time staying still or keeping your mouth open, you might ask for a script for some relaxant or to have laughing gas for the longer appt.

      They deal with this all the time, but that means that unless you specifically ask for help, they’ll probably assume you have your own ways of dealing. So talk to them about it at the next appt so you can have everything squared away. Or call them :)

    3. Bibliovore

      Ask your old dentist for words to communicate to your new dentist.
      What works for me- a small amount of Ativan the night before and an hour before the appt.
      over the ear head phones and a mix of “dentist office music” Loud rock and roll- Springsteen, Meatloaf, Show tunes.
      Layers of clothes- My dentist has in the chart , a warm blanket.
      Ask for gum numbing gel for before the Novocain shot.

      Have a hand signal ready for if you need a break.

    4. Red Reader

      When I need dental work done, I set aside a whole day, ask my housemate to drive me to and fro, and my dentist calls me in a dose of triazolam. It’s a benzodiazepine that both massively relaxes you and also serves as an amnesiac, so while you’re cooperative and responsive to the dentist’s direction, you also won’t remember any of it later. Also way cheaper than gas or IV sedation, and it does the trick for dental surgery as well as more basic procedures.

    5. Loves Libraries

      I hate the dentist too. When he has to do work on me we are all happier if I have Valium and laughing gas. At one point I told him childbirth was easier for me. My anxiety has declined over time. I’m 53.

    6. periwinkle

      Ask the dentist for suggestions. Ask the hygienist for suggestions. If neither are helpful, find another provider. Don’t settle for describing yourself as “fairly phobic” – be specific about what makes you anxious, how you respond, and what your previous provider did that helped.

      I’ll second the recommendation to check out Yelp reviews. There’s a lot of stupid reviews out there, true, so look for patterns in the reviews.

      My dentist offers “painless” dentistry and a lot of modern technology to make the experience easier. This is reflected in his prices, but that’s fair! He uses a Solea CO2 laser setup for procedures traditional performed with drilling, and some sort of camera system that replaces X-rays. Maybe it would help you to find a dentist who is working with new technologies?

    7. ..Kat..

      Your dentist and hygienist may not remember what is in your chart! Remind them every time you make an appointment and every time you show up for an appointment.

      Also, if you do any of the calming medications that people are recommending, please be safe and have someone you know drive you.

    8. smoke tree

      I think there are dentist’s offices that specialize in treating people with dentist phobias–maybe you could see if such a thing exists reasonably close to you? It’s probably more expensive than a regular dentist but it sounds like it might be worth it.

    9. Windchime

      I’m a dental-phobic also. A few years ago, I had several old filling start to fail and my teeth were in constant pain. I hadn’t been to the dentist for several years. It’s counter-intiutive and it might not work for you, but what helped me was to actually read about dental phobia. I learned that there are tons of new techniques and drugs and somehow that helped me.

      Also, my dentist knows I am a baby and they treat me with kid gloves. When I had to have dental surgery last year, they referred me to a guy who used sedation and it was a piece of cake.

      Finally, if you didn’t feel like you clicked with this dentist, find another one. I used to be afraid of a younger, newer dentist but now I have discovered that I love them. They know all the new techniques and are very gentle. Good luck!

  32. Sylvan

    I have been knocked off my high horse re: time management. Tried to go to a thing this morning, planned for a 15-minute-drive, and forgot that this part of town hosts high school and college graduations at this time of year. I spent 30 minutes in traffic and missed the event. (I suppose I could have gone in 15 minutes late, but. :/)


      1. Anonymosity

        I do! :)

        I’m being secrety for a while, due to some weirdness on Twitter. So if you see me comment under this name from now on, please don’t use my name in the replies, thanks. This is the last time I’ll reply when my name is used.

        If I have any book news, I’ll post as myself. HAHAHAHAAHAHAHA I WISH

        1. Red

          Glad to see you here – almost missed this without your photo attached :) I wish you all the best!

  33. Merci Dee

    What a lovely Saturday. At my favorite tea room with my sweet girl, waiting on our tea and delicious nibbles. Next up – shoe shopping. Yes, I know it’s cliche. But Saturdays don’t get much better than this.

    Tea’s here!

    1. JayeRaye

      That sounds fantastic. I am eagerly awaiting the time when my little is big enough to join me for tea. I have unrealistic visions of frilly dresses and delicate china cups LOL. Did get to shoe shop today though, so hooray for that!

  34. The Other Dawn

    Any recommendations for small divided containers? I’m looking to make small snack packs for my husband and I, and I’m having a hard time finding containers I like. I’d like something that has maybe three or four small compartments so it can hold meat, cheese and either veggies, fruit or nuts. Doesn’t matter what the material is.

    1. Chameleon

      If you have any sort of Asian-style stores around, they often have Bento boxes that have little compartments.

    2. Rainy

      I’ve bought 3 compartment lunch containers on Amazon that hold up really well. Search “Green Direct 3 compartment meal prep” and you should find them. The difficulty with bento, in my experience, is that if they’re metal (tiffin style) they’re not microwaveable, and if they’re plastic, some parts are always not dishwasher-safe and inevitably will be put in the dishwasher anyway and then ruined. Oh, and then there’s the melamine ones, which get too hot in the microwave and deform in the dishwasher. The worst of both worlds!

    3. Ali G

      I don’t know the name of the brand, but my SIL has these Bento-style boxes she uses for her kids’ lunches. They are boxes and have different sized inserts that you can swap out depending on what you are packing. I thought they were super cool and would work well for work lunches, picnics, etc.

    4. fposte

      Depending on how small we’re talking, you might find it easier to get a larger container (one of the shallow rectangular kind) and get small lidded cups to put within it. I use those for bento variations, and I also use Lock & Lock divided containers (if you search for that on Amazon you’ll find a few different results that might be useful).

    5. The Other Dawn

      I actually have the Bentogoly boxes with all the little containers…and I hate washing those stupid containers! I’m now looking for something that is divided. I found a few things on Amazon that might work, but I may just head to Walmart and see what’s there. I don’t want meal-size divided containers since a meal-sized container filled with meat and cheese and maybe some nuts is quite a lot of calories for a snack, so I’m looking for something smaller.

    6. Anonymosity

      I bought some silicone cupcake thingys and I use those in a flat tupperware kind of container. They are very washable (I don’t know about dishwashers; I don’t have one) and they work really well as dividers for small portions of foods. Plus, I can move them around and smush them together.

    7. Jaid

      I’ve seen containers which were subdivided by using folded tinfoil or those plastic leaves one sees in prepackaged sushi (available online, btw).
      Personally, I use tiny little portion sized baggies from Wegmans with cup sizes printed on them. They’re vertical instead of horizontal, which works pretty good with long things like pickles.

  35. Bibliovore

    From my sick bed.
    My MacBook Pro 13 inch (home computer not work) is on its last legs. 2011. It has been a good run. So can you give me some help on replacing. Like everything about it except that the battery runs really hot after about an hour.
    I need long battery life.
    Lots of memory- powerpoint, pictures etc. photoshop, in design
    Light- I really use it as a laptop.
    Internet surfing/ research.
    Watching Hulu and Netflix
    I don’t game.
    This is not a MAC PC debate. Dell and Gateway made my life miserable for years. Mac it is.
    Oddly considering not replacing but that is a bad idea right? Work and home should be separate.

    so- macbook pro? Macbook air? basic MacBook.
    I was always told to get the most that I could afford but I perhaps it has been overkill for a home machine.

    1. KatieKate

      Have you brought it into the apple store for a diagnosis? You may be able to replace parts for cheaper than a new computer would be

      1. Bibliovore

        Yes, they say it is too old and not worth upgrading. Its been repaired a few times. Out of apple care.

    2. Red Reader

      I went with the base level MacBook Pro as the best bang for my buck. Def don’t get the MacBook, you can get better specs for the same money with one of the other two.

    3. periwinkle

      I’ve had all three. The Air is great if you need to carry it around a lot – so lightweight! – but it’s the least bang for your buck. The Pro has the advantage of power, and if I were still doing graphics work I would have bought another one when it was time to replace the Air.

      I currently have a 2016 MacBook because I couldn’t justify spending the Pro money, since it would be my web surfing/Netflix laptop. The keyboard is wretched in daily use. That’s fine since I do my writing and heavier-duty work on my Mac Mini using a third-party keyboard (currently a Monoprice). If the laptop were my primary home computer, as yours will be… go for the Pro.

      1. Bibliovore

        thanks…Kat… everything is backed up on an external drive. my photos are in the “cloud” My “academic” writing is on the work air and backed up on the university server. My teaching materials (powerpoints, handouts etc) are backed up at work and at home. Yes, I did have a computer turn into a brick in 2008, why do you ask?

    4. Nacho

      Is there really a major difference between apple laptops? I know with PCs there’s a huge range of prices and specs, but macs are generally all pretty similar unless you’re thinking of buying an older one at a discount, which I wouldn’t recommend. If you like what you have, why not stick with it and just buy the newest version?

      And yeah, not replacing is a bad idea. A laptop should generally last you 1 year/$200 you spent on it assuming you’re using it seriously and need it to stay in good quality, which I assume you do if you’re in design.

      1. Bibliovore

        The decision in the Apple world is more about how you are going to use it. I had a laptop pro that was I think 16 inches that was too heavy and big for me to travel with so I didn’t. The airs have fewer ports. Sometimes that can be a deficit. Not sure how I feel about the new keyboard on the airs. I will go to the Apple Store to play with those.

        I like apple because I have had good experiences with them lasting more than 5 years with little or no trouble.

    5. WS

      If you’re using for design, absolutely go with the Pro, no question. The Air is great if you’re on the move a lot but in terms of memory it can run a bit short if you need to use it for heavy-duty graphics work.

      1. Amaryllis

        Second this. For design/graphics/modeling, go with the Pro. I even stretch my Pro’s capabilities sometimes when I’m running both Solidworks and Illustrator.

    6. Melody Pond

      Well, I’m not sure about the pictures/design/photoshop piece – but for everything else you listed, I think a MacBook Air would be great.

      I’ve had my MacBook Air since 2014, and it’s still going strong. I use it for pretty much all of the uses you listed, other than the aforementioned photoshop/design purposes. Maybe if your photoshop/design needs aren’t too intensive, the MacBook Air would still work?

      Also, its battery life is pretty great. When I first got it, it was solid for 12 hours, and I think now, 4 years later, it’s still good for at least 7-8 hours.

    7. Windchime

      I love my 13″ Macbook Pro Retina. I bought it in 2012 and it’s still going strong. If/when it ever dies, I’ll replace it with something very similar. I love the solid state drive, the long battery life, and the fact that it’s been the most problem-free computer that I have ever owned.

      I’m not a power user. I sometimes use it to remote into work, but mostly I use it for web surfing, email, and playing around with photos. It’s probably overkill for what I need a home computer for, but it’s been so trouble free. I worried about the expense when I bought it, but I would do it again in a heartbeat.

  36. Caledonia

    I just started on Instagram- not posted anything yet.

    Let me know your Insta recommendations. Anything goes. Bonus points if recs are in the UK.

    1. nep

      I was thinking of starting an IG account, too–mostly just to be able to comment on posts from people I follow. I follow quite a few people on Instagram and often I want to comment.
      Do you mean recommendations of accounts to follow, or…?
      One question (looking it up also online but perhaps you know)–Is it correct that any photos I have on my laptop I can put onto my IG? (I use my laptop for computer much more than my phone.)

    2. nep

      I really like checking Instagram’s blog periodically. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s got features about a wide range of IGers–from music to photography to slime to everything in between. Just highlights some interesting things to watch on IG. (But I just checked it and it seems it’s no longer being updated…Not sure.)

    3. Minta

      Welcome to Instagram! I say that because, in this age of caustic social media experiences, Instagram can be a respite as long as you curate well.

      Things I like looking at:
      – architecture
      – photography around London especially mews)
      – perfume
      – cats
      – European villages
      – memes
      – succulents
      – slime and mixing videos
      – makeup Instagrammers
      – hair stylists/colorists

      My recommendation: tap the magnifying glass to get into the search section. Browse what they present to you and start liking and/or following. Soon, your search/browse feed will reflect what you like. You’ll be able to discover new profiles to follow.

      If you like my list or just want to connect, look for me under @amnotte.

    4. Lily Evans

      Three of my favorite UK based accounts are @me_and_orla, @hannahargyle, and @allthatisshe.

    5. Minta

      Here are some faves. I have many.

      @millyrk – travel and food
      @joshkjack – street photographer based in London
      @brutgroup – brutalism architecture
      @restless.arch – international architecture
      @celine_bernaerts – makeup
      @somewheremagazine – irreverent, artful photography aggregation
      @hobbikats – family of 4 oriental shorthair cats
      @somewhat_rad – yoga practitioner, London
      @kitkat_ch – wonderful travel photog – based in Switzerland
      @kellycreates – great handlettering

      Urban Sketching – totally forgot about it. I follow a ton of urban sketchers.

      Enjoy exploring!

    6. anonagain

      I love her artwork and she has super cute dogs (a greyhound and a pug).

  37. smelly roommate HELP

    I need some advice on how to tell my roommate her personal hygiene is an issue. I’ve written out scripts, psyched myself up for it so many times but I can’t bring myself to actually say the words. I don’t think she showers enough (I don’t really know how often she showers, but based on how slowly she goes through bath supplies it looks like maybe 2-3 times a month) and she also frequently wears heavily food-stained clothes and doesn’t change her clothes for a week or more. If she’s going out she will change into a very stylish outfit, then as soon as she gets home she puts the same very dirty clothes back on. She is from a different culture and I don’t know if this is normal there, or if she’s mentally ill in some way or what (she doesn’t act depressed, she acts friendly and outgoing and energetic even when she hasn’t changed her clothes in a week). I have brought up the food-stained clothes before, twice, and she seemed very hurt and continued to wear the same food-stained shirt for a week after I talked to her about it. I don’t know what to do. She makes a lot of self-deprecating comments about her own appearance so I feel bad making her feel gross about herself. Even when I convince myself to talk to her, I always end up convincing myself that it’s not the right time. I was seconds away from talking to her again today but then she mentioned that she has a lot of work she needs to get done today, and I didn’t want to make her sad and stressed out when she was working. I know that there is never a right time to tell someone they smell but I still can’t get myself to do it. I am so frustrated though. I am embarrassed to bring friends over because she smells. I know she is lonely but I avoid hanging out with her or inviting her out because she smells. I know I would be doing her a favor to tell her… I just don’t know how!

    (Sorry for the wall of text, I just needed a rant)

    1. Rainy

      “Roommate, you smell bad. Please shower more often–with soap!–and launder your clothing. I cannot bring people to the apartment because you smell bad.”

      There’s literally no nice way to do this.

      I had a roommate like this (he had other issues as well, but this was the one that made him smell), and you wouldn’t believe the stench in his room. He also had an alcohol problem so he routinely pissed himself, and a dog he didn’t let out often enough so the dog pissed and shat his crate at least weekly. I did NOT confront him because there were some other things going on, but jesus christ, the stench.

    2. nep

      She’s lucky to have someone as kind as you around. You sound like a very caring and sensitive person–on the one hand you don’t want to hurt her or exacerbate any stress she’s already got going on, on the other hand you want to help her by addressing this issue that can definitely hold her back. Some tough love is in order. And that is tough.
      And I think part of the answer is that you just have to bear that crazy awkward, uncomfortable couple of moments…I have a feeling, though, that it will be a huge relief for you, and possibly her as well in the end.
      I’ll never forget one time on an overseas flight–A young woman had very noticeable body odor; it was clear that people around her were put off by it. This champion, wonder woman, rock star, first-rate diplomat of a flight attendant (I was so sorry I didn’t get her name to write a letter of commendation) quietly knelt down and whispered to the young woman for a couple moments, handing her a toiletries bag. The young woman went into the restroom for a good while and emerged with zero body odor, smelling fresh and wonderful. It was a beautiful thing to see how this flight attendant handled it–You could tell she treated the young woman with the utmost dignity.
      I’m rambling here (and I’m pretty sure I’ve shared this on AAM before)–but it was a special thing to observe.
      I wish I knew what the flight attendant said–it was probably a magnificent script.
      Perhaps start with something along the lines of–I don’t think this aspect of you represents the bright, friendly person you are…and state that you’re concerned for her, feel for her?
      Your hesitation is completely understandable and normal; I will be interested in the suggestions here.
      Wishing you all the best.

      1. nep

        Or just start with very direct (yes, uncomfortable) questions so you can see where she goes with it. Are you aware that you have very strong body odor? Does it bother you that people are put off by your smell?
        I don’t know…Just thinking aloud about maybe starting with a question.

          1. nep

            Well then you’ve got an even clearer idea of what you’re dealing with. (I like fposte’s script below.)

    3. fposte

      I would move away from the food-stained clothes out and focus on the odor, using them as camouflage. “Beth, I think I should have been clearer when I talked to you about your clothes–the problem is that they have an odor that’s distracting in our shared space, and that odor is still a problem. Generally in shared spaces people need to shower every day and wash their clothes when food is spilled on them to keep odor from being a problem; if you need a hand with the laundry I’d be happy to help, because it can be kind of finicky, and I like living with you and just would like to clear up this one issue.”

      1. Thlayli

        One thing – showering every day is not necessary to stop someone from smelling in most climates. Twice a week is sufficient unless you live in a hot area or you do lots of physical activity. The goal is not to make her super duper clean, it’s just to stop her smelling so bad that you can have friends over.

    4. Jacquelyn

      I think you should embrace the awkwardness because there is no way that bringing this up won’t be awkward. Something like, “Hey, this is awkward to bring up and I hope this comes out the best way possible because I care about you, but I’ve noticed some personal hygiene issues. You seem to not shower very often and wear stained clothes. What’s going on?”. If you say it will genuine concern, maybe it can open up the conversation!

    5. smelly roommate HELP

      Thanks for all your help and moral support.

      Here’s an update: I bit the bullet and talked to my roommate. I tried to use fposte’s script but unfortunately we got derailed pretty quickly talking about clothes rather than odor. My roommate told me that the reason she never changes her clothes is because she’s gained weight and none of her clothes fit. She says she’s ordered new clothes and obviously she isn’t happy either about having to wear dirty clothes. I asked if she wanted me to teach her how to do laundry (in the past she has told me she’s never done laundry, at home she had servants to do it for her, and since moving in with me she’s used a laundry service). She said the problem isn’t laundry, the problem is not having enough clothes. She also told me I should not feel bad or awkward about talking to her about things.

      So… I guess this is good in that hopefully she’ll have more clean clothes soon. I am disappointed that I didn’t address the showering issue, but honestly I don’t notice her body odor as much as I notice her clothes and their odor. Since she told me not to feel awkward about talking to her about things, I think maybe I can bring up showering later today or tomorrow… but it also feels weird since it seems like she probably feels pretty gross right now, having to wear dirty clothes since she literally doesn’t have anything else to wear.

      1. fposte

        I’m so glad you had the conversation! I think there’s some defensive evasion in the roommate’s answer there, though–I don’t see why this means she can’t wash her clothes when they’re dirty (and this has been going on for some time, so any ordered clothes should have been here by now). However, you’ve established that this is a talkable subject, so you’ve got a callback if it needs to come up again.

        1. smelly roommate HELP

          Thanks for following up fposte, you’re so good at giving advice!

          As for defensive evasion: yeah. I don’t know why she didn’t order clothes the first 2 times we talked about it. I don’t know why she doesn’t just go to a store and buy clothes that she can wear immediately. I actually remember her mentioning she was ordering clothes over a week ago, so I don’t know when these freaking clothes are going to get here. But one thing I’ve come to realize about her as a roommate is that cleanliness is not a priority for her (in many ways) so I guess I should not expect her to have an “omg I didn’t know I smelled, this is so embarrassing, I’ll shower every day from now on” epiphany. I think this is a helpful insight…. I think I will have to focus more on telling her specifically what I need from her rather than dropping hints and expecting her own sense of shame to do the work.

          1. Cheesesteak in Paradise

            Also lots of people have capsule wardrobes or just less clothes and just do laundry more frequently. I mean, I totally get gaining weight, clothes not fitting, feeling bad (raising hand for being there right now!). But then you wash the clothes that do fit a couple times per week. I don’t think people will notice you mostly wearing the same things – they will notice if those same things are smelly/dirty. I went a whole summer wearing the same two pairs of dress pants to work (black and navy) since summer weight work clothes can be hard but I did laundry 2x per week so they got worn 2-3 times at most before being washed and I don’t usually spill food.

          2. misspiggy

            This is a long shot, but is there a chance your roommate has sensory issues and doesn’t like getting splashed with water? The laundry and shower avoidance together suggests that’s a possibility. I’m a bit like that – I hate dealing with wet clothes and the start and end of showering. Baths can be easier.

            Not sure what the solution would be, other than that you might have to keep pushing harder than you might expect.

      2. Detective Amy Santiago

        This seems like a good first step. And it’s possible once she has more clothing options, the showering part will take care of itself. I mean, I can see where she might feel like there’s no point in getting clean if she just has to put on some dirty clothes after.

        That being said, could you offer to go shopping with her and help her find some new clothes that fit?

      3. nep

        Good on ya for diving in and talking with her about it! Even if it didn’t go exactly as you’d have liked, that is huge to just have established that opening.
        (I love the thrift stores for decent clothes while I’m at a weight I don’t like and hope to change soon…I don’t know whether she’d go for that…)
        (How did you meet, by the way? Did you know her before becoming roommates? If yes, has this been an issue as long as you’ve known her?)

        1. smelly roommate HELP

          We met on the internet, where all good roommates come from :/

          But we’ve been living together for almost a year at this point. She has never been as clean as I’d like her to be, but I think it has been especially bad lately, because school is out (we’re both grad students) and her summer internship hasn’t started yet. She is a homebody so she basically hasn’t left the house in weeks (except to occasionally go out to eat) and therefore hasn’t apparently felt the need to shower or change clothes. For the whole time we’ve lived together I’ve gotten the sense that she only cleans herself for social things, she doesn’t feel a need to be clean just to be clean.

      4. Keeping Clean

        Good for you for opening the door to a conversation. Sometimes it’s good to lead with the easier things and once you’ve got a rapport, you can move forward from there.

        Since you’re talking about cleanliness and odor, perhaps you can phrase it about washing rather than specifically showering. I mention this as someone who has sensitive, dry skin and hair that keeps me from showering every day. I do, however, wash critical areas daily. At the sink, I wash my armpits. I convert my toilet to a bidet with soap and a water bottle. This has solved the smell issue between showers. Perhaps stressing washing might be another way to frame the conversation?

        1. Anonymous Ampersand

          +1 I shower less than once a week but I get washed every day and wash my clothes regularly. Showering isn’t the only answer :)

      5. Thursday Next

        You’ve mentioned cultural differences before—is it possible she doesn’t know where to shop around where you live? Or how to get help finding clothes that fit?

      6. Llama Grooming Coordinator

        That’s actually…pretty interesting that you mention that! Is this her first time living on her own?

        I’ll admit when I read your OP, I was alarmed because that behavior read as severe depression. (I’m not a doctor. I have been depressed. I…know from experience.) In a way, I’m relieved to hear that her primary issue is that she’s rich and clueless. (Relatively rich, anyway.) And more importantly, she’s open to listening and talking.

        DEFINITELY go over the laundry issue with her, though. Especially if she has multiple sets of clothes already, which it sounds like she does. I mean, I know women’s wear has a lot of care requirements, but she should at least be able to have clean underwear. Bring it up friendly but forcefully, like, “Hey, Arya, are you sure you don’t want to learn? It’ll save money and time on the laundry service.”

        With the showering, she’s probably not able to smell herself. I think you have that opening to talk to her or at least to ask. Probably not this weekend, though – but I like taking baby steps.

  38. Ali G

    Later this year Hubs and I are going to Charleston, SC for my 40th Bday. My actual Bday is the Sunday we will be there. I want to find an awesome brunch place that takes reservations for a Sunday Bday Brunch. Any suggestions?
    Any other suggestions on attractions or places to eat welcome as well!
    PS – I can’t believe I am going to be 40 in like 3 months!

    1. Enough

      Few years old but Google Sietsema Charleston SC reviews. He is the food critic for the Washington Post.

    2. fposte

      It is hard to find a bad meal in the good restaurants of Charleston.

      I really liked the ferry out to Fort Sumter, as much for an excursion as for the history; walking around the Battery is also nice. The City of Charleston museum is really well done, with a lot of thoughtful historiography and history.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale

      Husk has a great brunch and is a lovely restaurant. So good, with good veggie options if you need them.

      Happy 40th! I just got back from my 40th birthday vacation, and I’m so glad I had an adventure for the “big day”.

    4. Loopy

      I’m from Charleston and we are the LAND OF BRUNCH. People freaking LOVE BRUNCH here. So, tons of good options, how fancy/expensive are you looking? Do you like quirky places? Small intimate places? Right in the heart of downtown or off-the-beaten path local? Let me know and I’ll recommend some- since sooo many places have good brunch here, it’s hard without some parameters!

    5. Amaryllis

      We did not do brunch there, but I do have Opinions regarding dinner. SNOB (Slightly North of Broad) is highly overrated, I’d avoid it. Hyman’s and Bowens Island are IMO the best for seafood. Charleston Grill is good for high-brow food, but the atmosphere was a bit too fussy for me. For locally-sourced/changing menus, try Fig.

  39. Elspeth McGillicuddy

    If you were a mother of young kids and liked cookies, would you rather get a stash of frozen baked cookies, or frozen cookie dough balls ready to pop in the oven?

    1. Thursday Next

      I mean…completely hypothetically, of course…cookie dough balls. Yes, it delays gratification, but it’s satisfying to eat something you had to put some work into. Just not too much. :)

    2. Legalchef

      Some of each! This way there are some for cookie emergencies, but also some for fresh baked goodness when there is a bit more time.

    3. Cristina in England

      If your friend also likes brownies, they can be eaten straight from the freezer… ask me how I know…

      1. Cristina in England

        … also that way the young kids are less likely to find the evidence and demand some too…

    4. Red Sky

      Anytime other than the middle of a Texas summer when it’s too dang hot to turn on the oven I’d prefer the cookie dough balls.

    5. Thlayli

      As a mother of young kids I can state that the less effort required the better. Pre-baked for sure. In fact, I’d prefer a few packs of store bought long lasting ones so I don’t even have to defrost anything lol

  40. AlligatorSky

    My moving plans have fallen through. I’m heartbroken, I’m no longer moving out on the 15th. I’m stuck at home for now, because I don’t want to live with strangers and I don’t trust myself to live on my own.

    I’m really torn up about this :(

    1. nep

      So sorry your plans fell through. Sounds like you don’t need this on top of everything else. What are other options you might look at?
      Sorry you’re facing this.

      1. AlligatorSky

        I don’t have any friends who are looking for roommates or who are moving out at the moment, so I’m just staying at home and I’ll keep putting money into my moving out fund so that even though I’ll be at home, I’ll still have savings. Makes me feel a little better.

        1. WellRed

          Honestly, I think taking control of your money was an even bigger step rhan moving out will be, in some ways. Keep your eye on the prize.

        2. Empty Sky

          Perhaps cast the net a little wider to include friends of friends? If you ask around a bit you might find someone. I understand that living with strangers can feel a bit scary, but most people out there are actually decent, and if your friends can provide a character reference you should be able to eliminate most of the risk. You can also meet up with them first to get a feel for them and see if you hit it off.

          I ended up living with three strangers for a year out of necessity when I was studying. I wouldn’t say it was 100% successful, but it certainly wasn’t a failure. Not everybody got along and there were some personality clashes, but we made allowances for each other and generally operated like a mostly happy if slightly dysfunctional family.

    2. TheLiz

      That’s awful :( But at least you’re making plans! This is still progress towards where you want to be (free!).

      1. AlligatorSky

        Yeah, plus when I do eventually move out I’ll have a bit more money as I’m still saving up!

    3. Cristina in England

      Ugh, I’m so sorry. You will move out, just not when you had hoped. And you made progress! Making plans with your friend to move out is a milestone, even if it fell through due to circumstances beyond your control.

      1. AlligatorSky

        It sucks, but at least I can say I tried! I’m gonna tell myself that this is practise for the real thing.

    4. Not So NewReader

      Okay so that was a practice shot. Now you are going to find the real thing. You have come a very long way here. You almost have this, just have the brass to keep going. Yes sometimes tears come before renewed determination. That’s okay, too.

    5. Aurora Leigh

      I’m so sorry! But you will move out, even though it didn’t work out this time — I’m sure of it!!

    6. Llama Grooming Coordinator

      Oh wow, I’m so sorry about that! I hope you’re able to find something else soon – you deserve to.

      Did you already pay the deposit (or is that usual in Scotland)? And if you did, can you get it back, or have you gotten it back?

    7. Observer

      Please work on getting yourself to a point where you can trust yourself to live on your own. Your mother’s behavior is not going to get better, and it might get worse. So, you need to be able to move out, friends or no.

      1. misspiggy

        Yes, this. I actually think you’ll do fine on your own, AlligatorSky, because once your energy is freed up from dealing with your current situation you’ll have tons more to focus on managing your life.

  41. feeling lonely

    This is such an embarrassing thing to admit but…

    I feel like no one ever talks to me. Whenever I see other people pull out their phones their lockscreens are always filled with messages. That never seems to happen to me. I feel like no one really cares to talk to me or to check in or whatever.

    I don’t know, I guess it’d just be nice if someone cared, sometimes. Maybe just a little bit.

    1. Washi

      Asking this as someone who felt the same way for a long time – do you reach out to others?

      1. feeling lonely as well

        Not the original OP, but I’ve been feeling the same way as well lately. I noticed more often than not I message people first, or send them a link to something I think they might like. Other than my SO and one or two family members, people reply but they don’t say much to keep any kind of conversation going. It’s discouraging enough that after awhile I just stop making an attempt to keep that connection alive between actually seeing each other in person. I’m childless by choice and a good portion of these people either have children or larger families they seem to spend a lot of their free time with so maybe I just haven’t found the right people. I love keeping in touch digitally and am rather surprised that the people in my life don’t seem that into it.

    2. Cristina in England

      Ugh, I felt this a lot this week! I realized that since I am still new to where I live, I have been in a “making friends mode” in which I assume pretty much all responsibility for meeting people and saying hello, making conversation, making plans, etc. Well, this week I realized that someone I really thought of as a friend doesn’t seem to be reciprocating and so I’ve backed off completely. She still smiles and says hello but I detect a difference in how she talks to me. It’s painful, because it feels like rejection.

      On the positive side, I can think of two people in this city who I know are my friends because they do initiate plans and also ask me for favors and offer to help me when needed. So I am going to put a bit of extra energy into the friendships I know are there.

      1. Cristina in England

        I don’t think I connected all the dots there-I also meant to say that I also realized that most of the people I chat to are just being polite and don’t give a crap about me. I live in England but I am not British so I miss most subtext and cues about when someone is being genuine. (Kind of like not knowing the context of someone saying “bless your heart”). And people here are polite! So I kind of felt like everything around me was fake and I didn’t have any friends. THEN I thought of my two friends and I felt a bit better.

        1. Chidi

          I feel this way too – and I am a Brit!
          I’m glad you have two friends to chat too. Keep trying and you’ll find more.

    3. LibbyG

      I might be off here, but maybe the lock screens you’re seeing aren’t all text messages? Like maybe they’re a lot of social media and, like, Fitbit notifications? (“X reacted to Y’s post!”) Maybe smartphones are creating a false impression that “everyone else” is going through life with this thick, expansive network of friends.

      Taking the scary steps to forge the friendships you crave might be easier if you can avoid having these lockscreen glimpses feel like so many gut punches.

  42. Charlotte

    Online dating profiles: if you were looking, what information would you want to see included in someone’s profile?

    Trying to write one but it’s almost like trying to write a cover letter with no job description. I don’t want to be too generic but this probably also isn’t the place to reveal all my quirks either.

    1. Kali

      I think quirks are good! You don’t want to attract everyone. After all, women generally get too much random attention. I’d go for as specific as possible, to narrow down the field.

    2. Middle School Teacher

      I like to see what people are looking for, if they have kids, if they want kids. Likes/dislikes (I tend to skip people who identify as avid fitness or gym people, or who like hiking, skiing, or running, because I am SUPER not into any of that). I like to see books/movies people are in to because it’s a shared point of discussion/conversation starter. Things like that.

    3. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)

      Dealbreakers, like whether you smoke, whether you want kids, stuff like that. Stuff about your worldview–we don’t have to agree on everything, but we do have to be starting from basically the same place. Life’s too short to waste time with someone whose beliefs are diametrically opposite to mine.

      Less of a big deal, but I like seeing favorite books, movies, shows, etc. so I can get a sense of whether we have similar tastes and also so it gives us some common things to talk about if we’re nervous/awkward.

    4. Dating Profiles Advice

      I’ve had experience with online dating. I learned that framing the things that were not what a I wanted was as important as what I did want, to avoid responses from people that weren’t the right fit from the get go. There’s an art to that, because you want to sound positive and not negative. The key is to use language that filters people out and also attracts people you would have more in common with. Here are a few examples.

      I’m a bisexual woman and I was specifically seeking a man. While my sexual orientation was listed in the checkbox for that, I learned from experience that there were men out there who had all kinds of assumptions about bi women being promiscuous, unable to commit to monogamy, etc. So I added a sentence acknowledging my orientation and saying I’m monogamous and that there are some myths about bi people around that. I immediately stopped getting replies from skeevy men.

      Some other examples. I enjoy being silly and the company of others like that. So I listed a goofy thing I enjoy. Being in nature is important to me, so I mentioned favorite places I like to hike. I thought about the qualities of people I enjoy, and mentioned that. I also included a line about valuing who someone is, rather than their belongings, and that ended getting replies from people who tended to lead with how much money they had, their cars, or their houses.

      The bottom line is that your first version almost certainly won’t be the one you end up with. You’ll revise it and tweak it as you go along, and that’s great. I hope it all goes well for you.

      1. Basia, also a Fed

        Yes!! I sent this Captain Awkward link to a friend who is currently dating online.

    5. AcademiaNut

      A sense of someone’s personality is something I would look for. Keep in mind that you don’t want to hide your personality even if it gets you more responses, because you’ll end up with people who aren’t really interested in you.

      I think specificity can work better than generalities. Instead of saying “I like to read/play video games” list a few favourite books, or the games you’re playing right now. Describe how you like to spend a weekend, or your dream trip.

      As far as dealbreakers go, list important ones (“no smokers”, “don’t want kids”), but I find a laundry list of requirements to be off putting (and the phrase “no drama” to be an automatic dealbreaker on my part). And be upfront about parts of your life that are likely to be potential dealbreakers for others (like, if you smoke, have kids, are still legally married, or are polyamorous, that gets stated up front).

    6. Jemima Bond

      From my fairly lengthy online dating experience (with a happy ending – sitting next to me in bed right now eating bacon <3 ) I would advise as follows:
      People who say they want to meet someone “slim” put me off, never mind my weight, came across as shallow. Similarly, specifying hair colour etc. Too fussy about things that aren’t important.
      Talk about how you enjoy spending your time, so the reader can figure out if they would also like to be part of that. After all, it’s about spending time together.
      Don’t be afraid to say something silly or funny – the right person will laugh and remember you for it. And coming across as someone who takes themselves and the world too seriously isn’t very tempting.

      Avoid men whose profile pics show them with their shirt off standing next to a car.

      Avoid cliches. Discussing it with OH we laughed over the over use by women of words to the effect of “just as happy in a dress and heels for a night out as cuddled up on the sofa with a bottle of wine and a DVD!” Also we concluded that all men on internet dating sites have climbed Kilimanjaro and all women have been to Macchu Picchu.

      Very importantly, meet in person as soon as practicable. You can’t really tell how it’ll be until you meet and it’s crushing if you’ve built your hopes up over weeks of messaging them meet them and every brain cell shouts, “nope”.
      Lastly, and I say this with authority, if on a second or third date you are watching a film at his/your home and you kick off your shoes to be met with a gasp of “oh my god you’ve got webbed feet!!” when you are in fact wearing sheer tights, probably don’t bother with another date.

    7. Clever Name

      Photos are a must. The photos must show your whole face with no hat or sunglasses. This is not the time to be artistic with filters and angles. If I can’t tell what you look like, I’m swiping left.

      Make a brief note of things that could be deal breakers for others, like If you have kids or smoke or regularly smoke pot (I live in Colorado). Also state what you are looking for, are you looking for something casual or are you looking for a relationship? What do you like to do for fun? Do you have interesting hobbies? Don’t put other people’s children in your photos and if you have your own child, seriously consider whether it’s a good idea to feature them in your photo.

      Above all, be positive! Don’t complain about how hard dating is or moan about a “crazy ex”.

    8. NaoNao

      I generally tried to strike a balance between what I was “offering” and what I was seeking. I included what I thought might be “my” deal breakers (I’m a feminist, almost 6 foot tall, and I don’t/didn’t want kids) but I didn’t say “no ____” because in all honesty, as a straight woman seeking a man, men didn’t read, pay attention to, or care about my stated deal breakers, because those were for *other* dudes to care about and the important part was HE was attracted to ME and that was all I needed to know!

      **Don’t miss online dating at all in case you can’t tell. Heh.

  43. fposte

    Facebook question:

    I have a Facebook account with nothing on it; usually I’m not even logged in. Therefore I forgot about it when I impulsively posted a comment to a page that turned out to be a Facebook page; the comment posted with my name. Had I been fully awake I wouldn’t have posted it publicly at all, let alone with my name, so I deleted it immediately.

    I know it’s the internet and there’s no putting the propagation genie back in the jar, but once it’s deleted it’s not something people are going to see on the page, right? And unless the owner gets notifications, they won’t know?

    1. I'm A Little Teapot

      If it’s set up that they’ll get an email, then they’ll still have the email. Otherwise, it should be gone. If you don’t want said FB account though, why don’t you close it? Prevents the issue.

      1. fposte

        Thanks for the info! I’m thinking about deleting but I’m on the fence. I did at least log out to avoid that problem in the future.

  44. Free Meerkats

    Me: The injury from Providence RI is finally (mostly) healed and I can start walking again.
    Body: Great! BTW, here’s a gout attack. Enjoy!

    I don’t get them often, and I usually know why (hello, all you can eat shrimp), but this one is out of the blue.

    I did finish the first piece of the Worldcon masquerade costume, and got the second piece and part of the third piece cut out. I should finish the second this weekend. Three more sewn pieces after that, then on to the accessories.

    1. Amaryllis

      Gout is THE WORST. The first time my husband got it, we were traveling, and he was certain he’d broken his foot. He said it hurt more than when he actually had broken a bone.

  45. Junior Dev

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

    Struggling with acting on the knowledge that certain activities will trigger my social anxiety, but I did well these last couple days. I left an event once I realized how crowded it was, and I took an Ativan before getting on public transit. I’m also struggling with loneliness and questions about my sexual orientation (bisexual but most of my relationships have been with men, though I’m trying to primarily date women now).

    I’m proud of exercising–i biked to work three times this week! I am also proud that I moved some furniture last weekend to make my apartment easier to clean, and I set up a date with someone from online dating. We are going to get donuts and coffee.

    How are you doing?

    1. Red

      I’m struggling big time with the fact that I’m on disability leave for a couple weeks while I get my meds sorted because I can’t stop thinking about throwing myself out the window of the 16th floor. It’s a huge blow to the self-confidence, you know? But I guess I’m proud of myself for having the balls to do this. I really pride myself on my work, I can’t do it right now, and it’s okay to realize that. Or so my therapist says, anyway. I just want to feel better, y’all.

      1. Junior Dev

        Hugs. That sounds really hard and scary. I am glad you’re still here, and I agree with your therapist that it’s ok to take some time for yourself. I have some friends who’ve had really tough lives where they never got the chance to take time off their responsibilities to care for their mental health, and it takes a lasting toll on them even once they aren’t in active crisis. So what you are doing now is a good investment in your long-term well being (not to mention possibly keeping you alive, if things are that bad right now). I think it’s very brave to admit you need help and ask for it.

        1. Red

          *big hug* Thank you for the kind words. You’re one of the nicest internet peeps I know

    2. Junior Dev

      I forgot to mention initially–there have been a couple high profile suicides this week and I know that’s really hard on some folks struggling with suicidal thoughts. I am doing better enough now that it doesn’t affect me as much, but I had a really hard time when Robin Williams died, for instance. I hope everyone is ok and has people they can talk to. If you’re struggling with this I hope you’ll post here and we can support you, but if you don’t feel up to that that is also fine, and I wish you peace and hope you are able to take good care of yourself.

      The US crisis line is 1-800-273-8255

      Here is a list of international hotlines for people in crisis:


      1. nep

        The suicides really hit me hard. Not because of who they were…but just the timing, I guess, with where I’ve been in my mind lately. With the Kate Spade news it just hit me hard–and this will be news to no one–that there is that moment, that transition, where ‘suicidal thoughts’ turns into ‘there’s utterly nothing else to do but end it’…and that was the unspeakably sad but also terrifying part for me.

    3. Alpha Bravo

      Gotta agree with Red. You’re one of the good ones, JD.

      Today, I’m just trying to get through the day. Spouse would’ve turned 65 today. This has been a rough week.

          1. Not So NewReader

            This year we would have been married 35 years. Time flies. The pain never quite goes away but it stops being crippling at any rate. And that is a relief of sorts.
            You are loved, AB. And you still have a lot to contribute to this world, time will prove that out for you.

            1. Alpha Bravo

              April 8th would have been 35 years for us too. I think of getting through all the firsts this year as a series of hurdles. I’m lucky to have my daughter as a constant reminder I still have stuff to do here. And I have an old friend who just lost her spouse a couple of months ago. So I’m not alone on this road, and for me it’s helpful to be able to look down it in both directions. I’m not the first to be here and I won’t be the last, but we can be kind to each other while we walk together. You’ve shown me a lot about how to do that.

              1. Jean (just Jean)

                I’m not the first to be here and I won’t be the last, but we can be kind to each other while we walk together.

                This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing. I’m sorry that it took enormous loss and pain for you to have this observation.

              2. Not So NewReader

                (sniffles) yep.

                I remember my dad. Medical bills took most of what he had and my mother died anyway. In an odd turn about, he found a couple, where the husband was very ill. He would go sit with the husband so the wife could go outside, take a nap, whatever. In that offering of help, he started to reknit himself. One of the ways we reknit our lives by helping others. It seems to help make sense of the madness.

                Year number one is a total PITA. Every. single. thing seems to require a plan. Year number two is less of a brain drain BUT people tend to return to life and tend to SEEM less concerned about us. It’s only appearances, but the appearance is very strong. Don’t be fooled, people still remember.
                Year number two is also tough because the busyness is over. Most of the paper work is done, the medical bills have settled down and so on. We can start to think, “There is not so much that I HAVE to do anymore. I can breathe a little…. OMG, WHAT am I going to do with my life?” [Take it one day at a time.]

                Not the first and not the last: ‘Tis humbling that there are so many of us widows and widowers. That thought alone can be overwhelming at times. It kind of drives home the point how we actually need each other. Oddly, it does not take much to touch another person’s heart and life. We are all one long chain of paying it forward.

      1. Kuododi

        Oh my goodness…. I’m happy to see your post. “Firsts” are kinda awful ….. the landmark times right after a loss so deep. You’ve been in my thoughts. Blessings to you and your beloved daughter.

    4. T

      A lot of publicity about suicide prevention in the media due to the recent events.

      All the posts about ‘you are loved’ ring so hollow to me.

      I’m pretty certain no one will care if I go through with it.

      1. Junior Dev

        Hugs. It’s really hard. I don’t know your exact situation but I can relate to people’s well-meaning statements feeling empty. Especially when the reality of mental health is so much more complicated than “reach out for help”–if you can’t afford to see a doctor or you’ve tried medications and they don’t work for you, it’s a totally different problem than the one people are trying to solve with “reach out, there is hope!” etc.

        I do think that life is worth living and it does get better, but it’s very hard to see that when you’re in the thick of a dark time. Can you turn off social media for a bit and do something fun, like re-read a book you love or watch a funny movie or play with animals? You don’t have to fix everything right now, and you probably can’t, but you deserve to feel a little better in whatever way works for you.

      2. nep

        I have to say, the ‘You are not alone’ and ‘There is help’ lines ring very hollow to me. Not necessarily because well yes I am alone, or because no one would care if I went through with it. But they just seem to reflect a misunderstanding of what’s really going on. If someone is to that point, I just don’t think these lines mean a damned thing. Just my sense, from where I am.

        T — There is a community of people right here who care that you’re having such a tough time. We can’t pretend to understand exactly what’s going on in your mind. I can only say I hope something will happen (by your doing, or by something unexpected coming into your life) that will shake you out of that desperation.
        It is very hard and it hurts, no question about it. Sending you love, for what it’s worth from an internet stranger.

      3. Thursday Next

        This internet stranger would care very much. I won’t presume to know what you’re going through, but I can see that it must be intensely painful.

        Talk to us here. Many of us have been very close to going through with it. We care.

      4. Red

        I would care. It hurts every time I hear someone died of suicide, even when it’s someone I’ve never met before. If you’d like to type, I’m always here to read and I’ll give you my email if you want it.

      5. Kuododi

        Sometimes the pain is beyond words. My heart aches for you. Please keep in touch. I want to know you are still with us. May the Holy One bless, preserve and keep you now and forever more.

    5. Time Bomb of Petulance

      I am struggling with hopelessness and passive suicidal ideation. *I have a safety plan and am currently under the care of a therapist, so I am doing OK in the sense that I know I don’t actually want to die; I just need some particular life circumstances to change, and that is unlikely to happen for some time. Each day is a struggle, but I grind through it – hour by hour.

      With the recent deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, several of my friends have posted on social media that if you need someone to talk to, feel hopeless, etc., to call them. But, these same friends are part of the problem because when I do need to be around people and lift my spirits, we make plans but then they flake. So, it all feels hollow. I don’t feel like I should have to tell my friends that I’m suffering from suicidal ideation in order for them to not flake on me. I don’t know; maybe I just need new friends.

      Sorry for the rambling.

      1. Junior Dev

        It’s ok! That’s what this thread is for.

        Do you have anyone who’s more reliable you can talk to, even just to hang out and take your mind off things? The flaky friends sound really frustrating and maybe not the most helpful right now.

        1. Time Bomb of Petulance

          I have my spouse, and, I’ve made less regular plans with some friends who are not flaky. So, while we only hang out once or twice a month, but it gives me something to look forward to as I know these two friends are reliable and will not flake. Overall, I’m just trying to distract myself with work and hobbies until circumstances change. I’ve also started trying to engage in better self-care. I’ve been getting regular sleep, and I’ve also started exercising lately. My husband suggested that I start counting the seemingly small, daily victories. I did that yesterday, and it did help me to feel a bit more positive about life even though saying “I completed 2 errands today” seemed a little silly at first. We took a few minutes to review and celebrate these things.

          Actually, answering your question helped me realize things have gotten slightly better. Thank you.

          1. nep

            It’s great that you came here to share and air that out a bit. Glad your husband is there to support you–hope it continues to help.
            I’m sorry you’re struggling like this. Good for you for recognizing that sleep and exercise can make a difference. (I have really horrific thoughts late in the day if I’ve not gotten enough sleep.)
            Wishing you peace.

            1. Time Bomb of Petulance

              Thank you. Sometimes, it helps to talk to people who don’t really know you.

              I have noticed that when I am really in a funk, sometimes a work out is the only thing that helps. The post-exercise high may not last all day, but it’s usually enough to get me back to the point where I can continue to push through the day. Obviously, it’s not ideal, but it keeps me here.

      2. Not So NewReader

        I have a friend who has difficulties and he sees the stuff I have been working on here. We have a running commentary about how it’s not the people closest to us who bail us. It’s easy to think “oh family or bestie should bail me” and then nothing happens. It’s that outer circle of friends/acquaintances who seem to do the most for us sometimes. You might find it helpful to start saying yes to random offers of help from unexpected sources. The first step is to deliberately watch for these offers. The second step is to say yes (with care and wisdom, of course) to even the simplest of offers. (Your turn to pay it back or forward will come in a bit, so don’t over think repayment right now.)

        1. Time Bomb of Petulance

          I have a hard time asking for help because I worry about people judging me. It’s something I’m working on with my therapist, but you make a good point.

    6. Turtlewings

      I’ve struggled a lot the last few months with my weight and how I feel about my appearance. In the last week or so I’ve bought new bras that actually support The Ladies and gotten a fabulous new haircut, and it makes a huge difference! I look in the mirror and feel CUTE instead of lumpy and sad.

    7. Stephanie

      Doing ok. Posted below—I just moved this week, so I’m in that awkward phase in a new place like “Oh. I really don’t know anyone here…”

    8. Llama Grooming Coordinator

      First of all – I’m seconding and thirding the calls that you have one of the most awesome threads, and it’s really great work! Good luck with the date – and tell us how it goes!

      (And also – from one queer person to another – happy Pride month! You’re…well ahead of where I am on the dating thing.)

      As for me…I’m glad that I’m getting a bunch of things sorted out, both minor and not-so-minor. I have a horrible tendency of being conflict-avoidant, so dealing with ANYTHING that might require arguing that I’m not certain I’m going to win is pretty fraught for me. It’s one of those things that I’m a little ashamed about, since I’m in my mid-thirties and I feel like I should just Be A Man And Do It. (I’m well past the point where I can make jokes about “adulting” and have them be at least marginally cute.)

      But I feel really frustrated by myself. I’ve made the joke that I can’t handle dealing with more than one or two situations at a time, and…I mean, it’s true, but it also sucks. Like, I tend to shut down when I have multiple things happening, and there are a bunch of things I’ve let slide. (For starters, my apartment.) I’ve talked about this with my therapist, and she’s said that it’s understandable that I did let a lot of things slide…but, you know, I’d like to be able to kill it at work and as an athlete, while also being able to manage my own home and finances. Fortunately, things kind of calmed down at the end of last month and this month (as in, I was training for a marathon AND working 50-hour weeks with a 60-90 minute commute on either end – I’ve learned it’s possible to do a 20-miler and then go into the office, but not especially advised), so I’m beginning to get the rest of my life under control.

      Which is great. But I have that nagging suspicion that I really shouldn’t have let things get this bad, even though I know beating myself up over it is absolutely useless at this point.

      1. Junior Dev

        Happy Pride! This is my first date in several months so I don’t know that I’m that far into it tbh.

        1. Llama Grooming Coordinator

          …girlfriend, you’re actually dating. That’s better than what I’m doing!

          (Part of that is the issue with being broke as hell right now and trying to be un-broke. Part of it is just nerves! I just take a really long time to relax around people, for starters.)

    9. Agent Veronica

      Mostly very well. My partner and I, although we have a generally strong relationship, have begun going to counseling about one issue that’s tough for us—and the first session felt like a good start.

      I am dealing with some issues about how much of my self-worth is connected to my job…but that may be an issue for Friday.

    10. Environmental Compliance

      Not the greatest. First appointment with a therapist this week. Had a couple really bad days this past week with worthlessness, hopelessness & just not wanting to exist.

      Right now just trying to exist until Wednesday. Hopefully something good comes out of the appointment.

  46. Jackie

    Looking for recommendations on visiting Quebec City in Canada. Has anyone been there ? I was hoping to find a little bit of Paris there. . .

    1. fposte

      I *loved* Quebec City. I don’t know that I’d ask for it to be Paris; it’s just a cool place all on its own. I’m a big walker, and it’s a good place to walk as long as you’re prepared for some hefty verticals in the old town. It’s definitely a lot more Francophone than Montreal, so you’ll likely encounter a few people who don’t do English or much of it, but most of the people in visitor spaces will be okay with English. Food was delicious in a Franco-Canadian kind of way; there were a lot of cafe/bistro type places, which I really like when I’m traveling, to get a nice soup and whatever and camp at a table for a while.

      1. Washi

        Totally agree with all this. Quebec City definitely has a European flavor, but it’s really its own place. I loved just walking around and exploring. Montmorency Falls just up the river is very beautiful as well.

    2. Middle School Teacher

      I loved Quebec City! The old city, the chateau frontenac. There’s a good tour that goes to Ste Anne de Beaupré and one of the islands that is gorgeous. Lots of great food too!

  47. FD

    I think this is more free-for-all than work thread due to being about volunteering, but feel free to delete if not.

    I want to volunteer my graphic design talents. I think the quality of my work is pretty good (see the link in my name), though of course there’s room for improvement. But I keep not hearing back from organizations that have advertised they want volunteer graphic design work done.

    Is this common? Have any of you done this successfully?

    1. Bibliovore

      I think it depends on the project and their needs. Small non-profits need help with signage, websites, newsletters. If there is an organization that you are passionate about like an 826 or library, that is where I would start. I would love a volunteer graphic designer to help me out with promotional materials for a really cool project.

      1. FD

        Sorry, I think I didn’t ask my question right. I mean, I’m reaching out through things like Volunteer Match where nonprofits ask for help, but I’m not getting responses. I’m curious if others have found that to be typical.

        1. KatieKate

          Are you reaching out through Volunteer Match or to the organizations directly? I love Volunteer Match but sometimes people leave up postings and forget to take them down, so that might be it.

          1. FD

            Both, starting through the portal, but then reaching out directly if I haven’t heard from them. Perhaps I should reach out directly then instead?

            1. KatieKate

              I would reach out directly–and call rather than email, because those might be getting lost or confused for spam.

  48. blatantlysilly

    Hey everyone! I’m looking to ship a desktop computer from Texas to New York. Has anyone done this before and how did they do it??? I’m not a huge tech expert so taking it apart is NOT an option and seems to be the recommended course of action whenever I google it………..

    1. Jillociraptor

      If you take it to a FedEx or UPS, they will be able to advise you on how to pack it and mail it. I sent a desktop computer from the east coast to the Midwest and it was easy peasy with the help of FedEx. I didn’t take it apart at all.

      Any chance you have the box it came in? Or can ask the store if they have an extra? These machines are shipped all over the world all the time in these boxes so they are best but the shipping company will get you fixed up if you can’t get the original box.

      1. blatantlysilly

        i don’t still have the box, it’s a few years old. i’ve heard some horror stories about Fedex so its good to know that it was a really simple process for you!

    2. ..Kat..

      First back up all files to an external device that you DO NOT ship with the computer.
      Next, before unplugging cables, label each cable end and where it plugs into. Then, take a bunch of pictures to help you be able to put it back together.

      1. AcademiaNut


        If you don’t have a good backup system already, buy a small portable hard disk (you can get 2-3 terabyte ones), and do a complete clone of your system on it. Then, if you’re moving, pack it in your hand luggage.

    3. Stephanie

      Haven’t shipped one, but I worked at one of those companies. You just need to sure that it’s packed correctly—it needs lots of padding and to be secured. You could take it to the UPS or FedEx Store and have them pack it for you.

      All that being said…it may not be cost effective to ship a desktop long distance like that. Depending on the shipping speed, I could easily see this costing $200-300. If it’s some high-end iMac, I could see it being worth it. But if it’s an everyday PC, desktops have fallen in price a lot and it may just be worth getting a new one.

  49. MsChanandlerBong

    Please, please, please send me good vibes. We are looking at a house rental later this week, and we REALLY want it, but rentals in this area usually go within hours. Basically, we need to be the first people to show up with a deposit, proof of income, etc. in hand.

    That brings me to a question. We were supposed to buy the house we are currently renting, but the owner is giving us trouble. She gave us a purchase agreement with an inflated price, and when I said we don’t want to pay that price, she told me it’s just a starting point and that the bank needs a price so they can qualify us…but doesn’t the bank approve you based on your income/debts, not the price of the house? She actually told me on the phone that I was being “spastic” about the price. I always thought that the bank looked at your info and said, “Okay, you’re approved for up to $150K; go out and find a house that costs that amount or less.” We’re first-time buyers, so I could be wrong, but my gut instinct says if I sign a contract that says the price is $X, with no contingencies, then I am agreeing to pay that price.

    Based on the condition of the house, the neighborhood, and so forth, I believe the price she wants is about $10K to $20K more than the appraised value will be. Our next-door neighbor was a Realtor before she retired, and she believes it will actually appraise for $19K to $29K less than the owner is asking. In any case, we’re not willing to pay her asking price. The house isn’t in terrible shape, but there are much-nicer listings in better neighborhoods for about the same price she is asking. It’s not that we can’t get a loan for that much or are being unrealistic/unreasonable about how much we should pay, but if I am going to spend that much money, I might as well get a nicer house in a nicer neighborhood for the same price.

    1. fposte

      Good vibes, and I agree with you on your second paragraph. It sounds like she’s treating the purchase agreement like it’s the realtor listing, rather than being an actual binding document. (And, you know, if she’s saying it doesn’t matter what’s on the purchase agreement, then it wouldn’t matter for her to put the actual price you’re paying. Right, annoying owner lady?)

      1. MsChanandlerBong

        Yes! I wish I would have thought of that when we were talking, but I got a bit flustered after she called me spastic and started going on and on about how she’s bought and sold four houses so she knows what she’s talking about and I don’t. If it’s just a starting point, then why don’t I put $95K as the price and have her sign it?!

        1. Dear Liza dear liza

          And the bank is going to do its own appraisal and only approve a loan for that amount. They don’t say, Oh, MCB, we’ll give you $X for any house out there. They want to make sure the house is literally worth that amount.

    2. Ktelzbeth

      I’m buying a house right now (in the US, for jurisdiction reference) and my bank asked me how much I thought I’d be likely to spend on the house. They then prequalified me for a mortgage for that amount, looking at my income, expenses, and debts. When I house slightly above that range came up, they re-ran the numbers and re-prequalified (is that even a word?) me for the higher amount, but they didn’t look at the data on the house I was trying to buy to get a specific number. I just said, “Bank, now I need to see if I can get $X00,000 instead.” To finally officially approve the loan, they needed the purchase documents with the actual price I was paying for the house on them.

      Good vibes!

    3. anonymouse

      The bank also approves the amount based on what they think the property you’re looking to buy is worth.
      They won’t give you 200k to buy a rundown shack, because then if you can’t pay at some point, they lost 200k (minus what you already payed back). On the other hand they’ll gladly give you 200k for a property that would easily sell for 200k, because then if you can’t pay them, they can still sell the house and come out even.

    4. Not So NewReader

      This smells like a con to me.
      Why would you go to the bank twice? Once with her inflated price and once with her real price? This is a waste of your time and a head game on her part.

      The document should show the actual price that you will pay.

      Can you bluff? Tell her that you will have your lawyer review her purchase agreement and you will get back to her. Tell her to mail you the document. Then watch her back pedsl. I understand you are trying to keep costs down here, but you probably should involve professionals in this transaction as she does not sound like a trust worthy individual.
      Here in the US she could get in trouble for what she is doing, she is over-stating the purchase price and that is a big no-no.

      1. MsChanandlerBong

        I actually called TWO real-estate attorneys this week to try to get an appointment to have them review the contract; neither one returned my call (and I called Tuesday, not later in the week, so they’ve had several days). I have the sale agreement in my possession; it’s a form she downloaded off the Internet and filled out in blue ink. I am definitely not doing anything unless an attorney reviews it. But at this point, I just want to move elsewhere. Since we spoke on Tuesday, the owner has been blowing up my phone with texts: When are you going to put the earnest money in escrow? Where is the inspection report? We’re going to look at a house on Tuesday or Wednesday, and we are also going to look at apartments. I want to be able to give notice by June 30 so that we only have to pay one more month of rent here.

        1. tangerineRose

          I think you’re right on moving elsewhere – the owner of the house you’re living in doesn’t sound trustworthy. A house is a big investment – you want to avoid dealing people who are clearly going to be problematic.

    5. Blue Eagle

      Your purchase agreement does not sound correct. After having bought and sold a couple of homes, this is the way it works. (By the way IANAL but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express.)
      – The buyer is the one who prepares the purchase agreement and gives it to the seller. The purchase agreement contains (a) the price that the buyer agrees to pay, (b) a contingency for an inspection with a specified number of days for you to have the inspection completed, and (c) if you are not already approved for the loan amount, a contingency for a certain number of days to get loan approval.
      – Then the seller will come back with an amendment to your purchase agreement specifying the amount that they will agree to accept and any other changes to the conditions that your offer contains. (sometimes this is done verbally and once the two of you come to an agreement, the purchase agreement is amended and each change is initialed by both parties).

      In any event, DO NOT sign a purchase agreement for a price that is higher than you want to pay thinking that you won’t have to pay that amount because the bank will not approve the loan because the house won’t appraise for that amount. Only sign for the amount you are OK paying. Because what happens if the bank appraiser OKs her inflated amount? Then you are stuck buying the house for an inflated price.

    6. Anon for CYA

      Purchase agreements are legally binding documents and if you have no contingencies that let you out, you would be in trouble and could be forced to buy the house at the price on the PA.

      Also, do you have a financing contingency that says that you are let out of the contract if you can’t finance the house at the price on the purchase agreement. It sounds like you don’t.

      This sounds shady.

      1. MsChanandlerBong

        Nope. It basically lists the price, how much earnest money she wants us to put in escrow with the title company, who currently holds the mortgage, and the date she wants to close. I knew she was trying to scam us, but I haven’t done this before, so there was 1% of my brain that was wondering if I was totally mistaken.

    7. ..Kat..

      My husband and I hired a realtor to take care of this stuff for us. Worth every penny.

      1. MsChanandlerBong

        Yeah, that’s what we would normally do, but we already rent the house, so we don’t need an agent to find us listings or anything like that. The landlord also refuses to have an agent involved, as she doesn’t want to pay the fees. We were planning to hire an attorney to review the purchase agreement, negotiate any terms, etc.

  50. Kali

    My surprise holiday was to Hamburg! I was a bit disappointed at first, because Germany is one of only two European countries I’ve already been to, but at least that meant I speak a tiny bit of German.

    So day 1. Took the u-bahn from the airport to the Hauptbanhof and spent some time just wandering around. The lakes are really pretty! Found food and took pictures of a pigeon with feathery legs (I later looked it up, and that’s due to an upregulation of forelimb genes and a down-regulation of hind limb genes, giving legs wing-like features). Wandered around a bit more, then walked to my hostel (next to Berliner Tor). Early night, I was knackered.

    Next morning, went to Nord Coast for breakfast, near the miniature wonderland. I got talking to a guy from Chicago who was also travelling by himself. He suggested visiting the Reeperbahn.

    I’d walked passed Sankt Nikolai on the way and it looked cool so I went back and looked at the museum in the basement and went up the tower. It was so sad. :( I learned about Operation Gomorrah and the complete devastation of Hamburg. There’s also an exhibit on-loan from Poland about the bombing of Warsaw, and a bit about the bombing of Coventry. I’m from the Midlands, so I’ve been to Coventry and had a picnic in the ruins of the old cathedral. I’ve never really thought about the context before. :(

    I walked through Planten und Blomen after that, because I was thinking about going to the zoological museum. I took some photos of a statue of Kaiser Wilhelm and a German guy stopped to tell me that the statue had been hidden underground during the war and had been lost for five years. He also showed me a way to get onto the bank opposite Planten und Blomen, where the fountain sprayed and it was nice and cool. I didn’t make it to the zoological museum because I went to the museum of Hamburg instead, then to the park for a bit longer.

    I went to 20up, just to see the views. I quite like open bodies of water (because I grew up in the most land-locked city in the UK) so I headed towards the elbe and what turned out to be the pier at Sankt Pauli. Had an ice cream, bought souvenirs, got some nice pictures of sunset over the Elbe, then had some currywurst (if you don’t currywurst, did you even German?). Back to hostel; was planning to walk, but got the u-bahn instead.

    Breakfast the next morning was at Campus Suite. The guy working there stared at my chest a lot, but luckily didn’t speak English, so I could just say “das verstehe ich nicht” and stare at my phone until he handed over my coffee. Looked at the Rathaus and then back to Sankt Pauli for a harbour tour. That was fun. You never really think about the difference in boat sizes until someone turns on the Darth Vader theme and points your passenger boat directly towards a massive tanker while a little speedboat trundles past. I had German fish and chips, just to see what you did with them. It was very odd. Also, on the way there, a German lady told me off for taking photos of a pretty pigeon. It was all white and ginger. You tend to get odd patterns like that when someone has been breeding fancy pigeons and they’ve escaped and/or bred with the local population. I am unclear why she didn’t like that, but I kind of expect to be told off by random Germans at this point. My only theory is that I was facing a park, and maybe it wasn’t totally clear that I was looking down and zoomed in, and maybe she thought I was taking pictures of people?

    While on the boat, I’d spotted a beach where people were bathing, and had opened google maps to look for the nearest u-bahn stops. I went back to the hostel to put my swimsuit on under my clothes before heading to Elbestrand. Also fun. I swan in the Elde, collected shells, and turned myself into a sand mermaid. I put the shells in the dish my orchid sits in. She already has shells from Wales and Scotland.

    I made a thread on the AskEurope subreddit to get recommendations, and one redditor offered to meet for a pint.
    I took him up on it, because I wanted to see the Reeperbahn and decided that an internet stranger was a bit less scary than just wandering about down there by myself. Also, I figured I had a better chance of seeing the good bits that way. It was good, we got cans and wandered about. Saw a lot of prostitutes, who looked a lot less thin/needle-tracked than the ones around here. Also saw a combined brothel and kebab shop. You really have to admire that German efficiency. I learned a lot of football facts which I did not retain and saw the outside of Herbertstrasse. It turns out that that street has a wikipedia article. I looked it up because I was unsure on whether the reasons I imagined I wasn’t allowed down that street were too lurid or too tame. We also went up to the balcony of the Elbphilharmonie, which has curved escalators! I also learned that a headless body was recently found in the Elbe near the Elbestrand, so I went back to the hostel and showered a lot.

    Last day; breakfast at Nord Coast again, because why ruin a good thing? Also, I’d tried their waffles with fruit, maple syrup, and lime-marscapone cream, which was amazing, so I really wanted to see what they did with eggs, salmon, avocado, and bread. They did not disappoint. Then, to Miniatur Wunderland which was, as promised, very cool. :D I had to wait in the cafe for a bit before they let me in, but that was fine, I got to write in my diary for a bit. I liked all the little scenes, like the easter bunny training. I think my favourite bit was the series of dioramas showing the same area in different time periods, so you could see the church getting fancier and the farm getting more technical and then being replaced with a building before the whole thing gets destroyed by bombs. I also like the little scenes that the model makers presumably made just for fun, in the toilets. There are people riding dinosaurs and glitter waterfalls, they’re trippy.

    I went to the Rathaus and finally looked inside it, then got the u-bahn to the otherside of planten und blomen, to finally see the zoological museum. That had a lot less translation, but I’ve been studying genetics for a couple of years now, so I already knew a lot of the theory and information behind the exhibits. It was pretty cool to see little vestigial kiwi wings and vestigial whale hips. I also really like looking at phalanges. They evolved quite a long time ago, and they’re heavily conserved, they just morph a bit in different species. You can stand inside a whale’s jawbone, which is pretty awesome! I quite like that whole area; I had a burrito and a fritz-kola then looked in the comic shops. Then I went back into the city centre and walked around a bit. Bought a new backpack, because my old one was pretty tightly packed with souvenirs and I could do with something inbetween my military backpack and the little pretty ones. I sat by a fountain for a bit and people watched. Two men were loudly shouting about Jesus. I am unclear of what their opinion was, because my German is very bad. I think they were in approval. My flight was delayed, but I had some fun hanging out at the airport, and I got some nice pictures of the sunset over Manchester as we landed.

    Overall, I like Hamburg better than Berlin, which is the only other place in Germany that I’ve been to. It took me a while to remember about the cycle paths; here, the cycle paths are usually on the road rather than the pavement and they’re delineated with white paint rather than a change in brickwork. I got in the way a lot. I also found the ticking at the traffic lights really irritating, presumably just because I’m not used to it. Our traffic lines emit a noise when you can cross, and I don’t even really hear that any more.

    I also noticed that all of the touristy stuff (I got a LOT of souvenirs) tended to be specific to Hamburg. In the UK, wherever you are, you’ll find a mix of local and London/royal family specific souvenirs. I’ve also found Shakespeare souvenirs in Salisbury. Maybe because the UK is smaller? Or because we’re famous for very specific things?

    I got a LOT of souvenirs because I realised that I was very much in budget and could therefore afford to indulge myself. I have 2 nautical bracelets, a captain’s hat, a carnival mask (I just thought it looked cool, it’s not really designed as a souvenir), a little jar of sand/small shells held up by a little seagull ornament, a 0 euro note and a squished 5c piece, both from the miniature museum, lots of stickers, some Elbkiesel, many, many postcards (I collect postcards; they go on my walls), and lots of leaflets and ticket stubs to stick in my diary. I also have a handful of Euro coins, which I wouldn’t normally consider souvenirs, but I cba to go get them changed and I’m about to move into a house with children who might get a kick out of them

    1. fposte

      This sounds like a super-cool outing (I love “I think they were in approval”), with a wonderful balance of plans and spontaneity. I will note your restaurant recommendation if I ever go.

    2. Middle School Teacher

      I have been to Germany a few times but never Hamburg, so I will have to check it out! Your comment about the efficiency of the kebab shop/brothel cracked me up!

      1. Bibliovore

        Thank you for sharing about visit. I felt I was wandering the streets with you.

    3. Cristina in England

      It is so cool that you went on a surprise holiday. When my kids are old enough that I am willing to fly with them I would love to do something like this.

    4. Kali

      Oh, forgot to add. I initially typed this up for commenters on my reddit thread in r/AskEurope. They live in Hamburg so there are a quite a lot of things I didn’t explain; just ask me if it’s not clear what I’m referring to.

    5. Anonymosity

      This sounds like a lovely trip! I’ve been to the UK a few times but not to Germany. I need to go; I’ve got friends over there–one near Dusseldorf–and I want to visit them. The museum sounds cool. I’m a huge museum nerd.

      I think the souvenir thing is because UK’s famous for certain things. The red phone booths and buses in London, Shakespeare, Stonehenge, a tea towel with the royals on it, etc. In the US, you see a lot of people come back with that stuff when they visit, instead of something specific.

      My favorite souvenirs are things I buy randomly and will use, like scarves or jewelry. Also, I have a habit of picking up cool rocks when I go places. I picked up a rock someplace special and put it in a necklace. Shh, don’t tell; I’ll set it free the next time I go back. ;)

    6. Sprechen Sie Talk?

      Hamburg is supposed to be up and coming hot spot now- we are looking for a European city break for early fall and this could be fun! We’ve already done Berlin a few times (not keen on the vibe there) and Cologne, Frankfurt, Munich, Mainz, so somewhere new, but not East, would be cool.

      Great trip report!

      1. Kali

        When I visited Berlin I felt like I had to be on guard all the time, like people were always asking for money. :( For instance, there were people playing some kind of betting game in the city centre with an obvious stooge who kept making silly mistakes. If you indicated that you knew the actual answer they’d start encouraging you to play with your own money, presumably getting a lot better at the game when you did.

  51. Kitty Kai

    I just got a new oncidium orchid and I’m looking for advice from more experienced orchid enthusiasts! I have a few phalaenopsis orchids and a paphiopedilum, and those are doing well. This will be my first oncidium, and I could use any advice you can give! The label names it a oncidium ‘Roman Candles’, but the lips of the blooms have white patches, which is different from the solid red I see in photos online for this variety.