weekend free-for-all – September 15-16, 2018

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

Book recommendation of the week: Goodbye, Vitamin, by Rachel Khong. It’s about family and memory and home, and it’s quiet and lovely.

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

{ 1,263 comments… read them below }

  1. Laura H.*

    For those of you in Florence’s area of influence, hope y’all are safe as can be.

    Dealing with a major soaker in my area- hopefully will dry out a bit Tuesday.

    At my place of employment today for a shift. Hopefully I can dodge raindrops.

    1. Doc in a Box*

      Survived Hurricane Florence! This was my first hurricane, and I was terrified by everyone at work talking about the destruction wrought by Fran in ’96.

      We got quite a battering, with about 36 hours of intermittent high winds and downpours as the rain bands circled through again and again, and there are lots of small branches scattered around my yard. A couple of large trees fell along Main St. But miraculously, the giant oaks in front of/behind my house made it, and nothing fell on the power-lines overhead, so I’m counting that a win.

    2. Loopy*

      I’m in SE SC and we got literally nothing really. While we are so so so lucky, a mandatory evacuation was issued Tuesday at noon. I understand why because the forecast was much worse then and you can’t issue them too late…but I am also incredibly frustrated that people are out a week of work and expenses and will likely take future evacuations with an eye roll and stay.

      It’s not even raining right now and I know plenty of people won’t trust the evacuations going forward.

      My thoughts are with those who did get hit hard!

      1. fposte*

        I really feel for the people making the call on ordering evacuations for just that reason. You want a margin for error, so some false positives are presumably desirable, but too many up the risk, as you say, in future.

        I also liked the Scientific American piece pointing out why the hard economics of evacuation can be why people choose to stay put.

        1. Loopy*

          Its a bit of a lose-lose so often. Call too early, nothing happens you’re wrong. Call too late and something happens, you’re wrong. I hate to admit I’ll probably in the skeptical camp on future evacuation calls that early.

          I saw a lot of news segments interviewing people on why they stayed and the interviewees just seemed really sad that they were being judged so harshly when they simply didn’t have the money. I tried doing the math for a family who had to get a hotel and for Tuesday-Sat, it was easily 600-1000 dollars cost. for lodging and food alone. That’s hefty for anyone unplanned. And people with pets? Really hard.

          1. nonegiven*

            People were turned away from hotels for no credit card or having pets. Not everyone has a credit card or enough on their bank debit card to authorize for the stay. I might not evacuate. Where I am, I can stay with my sister if I need to but she is close enough to be in the same disaster.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      We were supposed to get battered until the storm changed course. It’s been very rainy and windy, though, with a lot of downed trees in my neighborhood. Thankfully, we’ve only had very short power outages so far, but it’s still not great weather to go out in. Our biggest challenge has been managing the dog, who will hold it for 20 hours before he will willingly go out in the rain. Every poop (outside, of course) is a triumph.

      We are extremely lucky. Just last week, my partner and I started looking into renting a house on the Outer Banks for Christmas (we did that last year), and now, while I know things should be ok by then, it’s just sad to see. The OBX didn’t get it nearly as bad as the coast, though, and I have a few friends with houses there. Devastating, and it’s not even over yet.

    4. Forrest Rhodes*

      West Coaster here, also hoping those in the East are staying as safe, warm, and dry as possible.

      Does anyone know how the ponies of Chincoteague/Assateague are doing? News reports haven’t mentioned them—is it possible that they were relocated before the storm hit? Thanks for any information you’d care to share.

      1. Equestrian*

        The ponies aren’t evacuated ever. They are truly wild, and trying to evacuate them and loading them up on trailers is even worse than trying to herd feral cats. Truthfully though because they’re wild animals they’re smarter than most humans and no how to survive in a storm. They know that area well, they know where High Ground is, and more than likely they’ll be safer than any people who decide to stay put and get hit hard by the storm. I haven’t heard any news on how they’re doing yet but I am fairly certain that they are totally fine. I’m a long-time equestrian and trust me when I say – Wild Horses know what to do in bad weather.

        1. LilySparrow*

          Right, and a lot (not all, but a lot) of the dangers in a hurricane situation come from human habitation: power lines, gas lines, building debris, glass, concrete that intensifies flash flooding, sewage.

          Bad weather is a different proposition in a natural landscape.

      2. fposte*

        I don’t think that area got hit very badly. Chincoteague cancelled its state of emergency, and the ponies on Assateague generally fare pretty well because they can hit the high ground, and I don’t think the island is at risk of being overtopped. Evacuation of human staff on Assateague is usually a bigger concern.

      3. Violaine*

        There was a news article that mentioned not worrying about them – they’ve been there for centuries or longer, they know what to do. No interference necessary.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          “they’ve been there for centuries or longer” I.e., this isn’t their first rodeo.

          I will see myself out. In the rain.

      4. Forrest Rhodes*

        Thanks, all. Good to hear the responses I was hoping for from minds more knowledgeable than mine. (And A.L. Barksdale, please don’t go—that was a perfect reaction, and you don’t wanna get wet!)

    5. bunniferous*

      Sitting here with no power but three years ago I won a portable gas grill and my husband used it to make the very best cup of coffee I have ever had. Can’t work but that is a feature not a bug today!

      We are still forecast more rain…this will be like Matthew and our region is still recovering from that. But at least we know what to expect. All in all this could have been MUCH worse.

    6. Violaine*

      Coastal SE Virginia here. We were expected to get something – anything – from the hurricane, but the shifting track has kept us from getting much of anything. Only a little rain.

      However, I went to school in, worked in, and lived in some of the towns that Florence is hitting in SE North Carolina (Jacksonville, Wilmington, etc). It’s breaking my heart to see so much flooding and destruction. Everyone I know that still lives there is safe, though, whether they evacuated or not. I am so, so glad for that.

  2. Loopy*

    I have been so looking forward to this thread!!

    With fall and winter coming, I really want to work on something like hygge-lite . Basically, I want to create a lot of warmth, coziness and comfort and positive associations instead of dreading the short days. One thing I LOVE is infusing my home certain scents, like the wax melts people use to scent a room. I’m a huge fan of scents like pecan or apple pie, coffee cake, cinnamon rolls, anything baked. Also vanilla varieties. Something that feels homey and warm.

    The issue? I have a pretty weak sense of smell! So I’m looking for recommendations for brands with really strong scents. Or certain scents people have found and love. I know most people are the opposite so I’m struggling to gauge by reviews! Does anyone have recs?

    1. ElspethGC*

      I’m always an advocate for Yankee Candle. I use the wax melts, often in the kitchen after cooking, and they last for several nights in a row and still smell good. Alternatively, you can put good quality vanilla extract (or other essential oils, or add whole spices like cinnamon) in an oven-proof cup and put in the oven for 20 minutes or so (with a timer!) and it makes your whole house smell super good. It’s a common tip for if people are coming to view your house.

      1. Raine*

        Another vote for wax melts! I used the brand that was cheapest at my local Walmart and a little plug in warmer. They were strong enough that they covered all the nasty smells of the dorm building I lived in my first year of college. In my apartment now I tend to use Better Homes & Gardens candles, also from Walmart. You can get quart jar sized candles for less than $5.

        1. Loopy*

          I’ve used the Walmart ones. I love the scent selection but was looking for something with maybe even more oomph! Mainly for a bigger area.

      2. all the candycorn*

        We have a tart warmer and some Yankee Candle warming tarts, and we’ve had some scented candles. I’ve observed that soy candles are easier on the respiratory system than the paraffin ones that are so readily available, the paraffin releases some volatile organic chemicals when it melts.

        Target sells a good selection of soy wax products in their candle section, and Trader Joe’s has been carrying one or two seasonal candles lately.

        1. Loopy*

          I was wondering why there were so many that were described as soy! I had no idea. Thank you for pointing that out!

      3. PhylllisB*

        Elspeth, if you don’t want to use your oven, you can also put some cinnamon sticks, orange peels (or a combo) in a boiler of water on the stove. Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer. Makes the house smell wonderful. Good thing about this is, you can cool it off, pour into a container and reuse a number of times. I’m going to do this when it gets cooler because aresol scents and candles irritate my throat. Oh, and you can add vanilla or nutmeg/whole cloves to this, too.

      1. Loopy*

        A quick Amazon search looked like they don’t do wax melts, just candles? Sadly, I can’t trust myself to remember to put out a candle and the wax melts (though they still use heat) are a safer option for me than an open flame.

    2. MsChanandlerBong*

      I had to get rid of all my wax melts and candles due to my asthma, but before I did, I used to love melting Yankee votives in my Scentsy warmer. The Scentsy melts are like $6 a pack, but Yankee often has 2/$1 sales for its votives. I’d buy a bunch, cut them in half, and use each half like a wax melt. I would just take the wick/metal base out of each votive and use only the wax part. My favorite scents were Macintosh apple, blueberry scone, jellybean (smells just like grape), North Pole (smells like peppermint), and strawberry.

      1. Loopy*

        I wondered if votives would melt with scents are strong as the wax melts. It was my main reason for ruling them out. I can’t smell regular scented candles almost at all unless I walk into a yankee candle store with 9287409380 of them! It made me sad for years I couldn’t enjoy scented candles.

      2. WellRed*

        Funny! We had apple in the ladies at work. To me it smelled like hot plastic apples. Scent is a funny thing.

      1. Equestrian*

        ^^^ What Pam said.
        What I would do personally is go to Penzeys Spices and buy a whole bunch of cinnamon sticks cloves nutmegs Etc. You’re looking for the whole spice and not the ground version. ( which is why I’m not recommending you buy this at grocery stores because often grocery stores will not sell the whole spice- only ground.) Of course, Penzeys is also amazing and I love supporting a small family-owned company. But that’s tangential to my Pointe.

        Put them all in a pot and put the pot on the stove with 6 to 8 cups of water, bring it to a boil, and then leave it to simmer for several hours. Your house will smell amazing and you can keep dumping more water in as needed.

        Do be aware that the more water you dump in the less smell you will have, but you can always dump more cinnamon sticks, clove, nutmeg etc in along with the water to keep the scent saturated.

    3. Ermintrude*

      DoTERRA oils in a diffuser. The scent is really strong for just a few drops. OnGuard is a blend that do that contains citrus and clove and is just So warming and comforting.

      1. Loopy*

        I looked into oil diffusers but the scent styles they have seem to be more natural. Which is probably good for most! I’m definitely an outlier in my choice of scents!

    4. People like shiny things*

      Switch scents frequently – biologically you start to no longer smell specific scents after being exposed regularly. Basically, the scent receptors are looking for new inputs looking for threats, once they decide that something is not a threat and starts to disregard it, the effect is the “nose-blind” thing fabreze uses to sell their products. That’s why you won’t notice your own scent/perfume/etc. But others can be overpowered by it.

      1. Loopy*

        That’s a great idea! I will try and load up on at least four to switch through. I tend to fall in love with one scent and just keep using it.

        1. KMaggs*

          There’s an Etsy shop called Frostbeard Studio that I love. They have candles and wax melts, all based around books and literary references. I haven’t used their wax melts, but their candles are strongly scented when burning and smell amazing. I’m sure their wax melts are just as good, and they come in a lot of scent combinations.

    5. Kuododi*

      I am a big fan of Bath & Body Works candles during fall and winter. They are one of the more pricey products on the market but if you get on the email list there’s daily sales so just keep an eye out. A disclaimer, I did work there for a while to keep extra $$ coming in the house. At the moment I’m not remembering the ingredients in their candles but I do know they were chosen specifically to avoid the overly smoky, black smear on the walls one can find with other types of candles. Enjoy.

    6. Ehhhh*

      Consider using the bead/gel things for bathrooms not in bathrooms. They tend to be overbearing to mask, well, the bathroom, so they might be perfect for you. And cheap.

    7. LimeRoos*

      So I’m a little late to this one. But Votivo has some of my favorite scents, and they’re all very strong. They have candles, but also reed diffusers, room spray, and a black box fan diffuser (that’s new, I haven’t tried it). I’m partial to Red Currant, Icy Blue Pine & Joie de Noel in the fall/winter.

    8. Tegan*

      This might be too late for you to see it, but I have found the Unstoppables branded wax melts the strongest smelling of any I’ve ever tried. We have both the pink and the green, and they both smell nice and super strong. I’d have to give a slight edge in both niceness and strength to the green. They both last for a really long time too, I’ve used each melt a handful of times so far and they’re both still going strong. I think there’s one other scent maybe? Not sure. But at any rate, highly recommend if you’re looking for really strong wax melts!

      1. PhylllisB*

        I have been seeing so many things Llama lately. Socks, tote bags, ect. Every time I see something, I thing Ooh, Alison would love this!!

  3. Bookworm Bingo*

    Last year, I discovered an event for my friends and I to check out in a part of our local city we’d never been to before. I mentioned the location to other people in my life and no one knew much about it. My friends and I took public transportation to get to the event, the website saying they were a few blocks walking distance from the public transport stop. When we got there, it was immediately apparent that this was a very unsafe area of the city and we needed to leave. We were able to do so quickly and safely, the only thing that happened was a male passerby darkly pointing out that we looked out of place. We got back to the safety of our homes and more surrounding areas, and put the uncomfortable situation behind us.

    As the one who planned that ill-fated outing, I find myself a little ‘once bitten, twice shy’ about planning another event to an unknown area. That’s not to say that I haven’t been to new areas in other cities before without incident. I’ve traveled a lot and that was the first time I’d ever felt truly unsafe. But I still feel uneasy about mistakenly leading my friends into a similar situation. And none of my friends blamed me, none of them knew of any red flags for that area, but I still blame myself.

    So when you’re going some place new and unknown, how can you research ahead of time the safety of the area? I’d love to do drivebys to spy things out for myself but obviously that’s not feasible for events a long distance off. Any recommendations?

    1. LilySparrow*

      Google Earth or Street View?

      It’s not going to cover everywhere, but I did discover recently that I needed sturdy shoes for a far-off wedding because we’d be parking in a meadow and walking on gravel, which was not apparent from the invitation.

    2. Mephyle*

      Google Maps Streetview is the next best thing to a real-life driveby. Obviously it can’t tell you as much, (and there is also the possibility of making an error the other way – getting a false sense of danger).
      I also find it useful when finding the way to some place is going to be complicated and it gives a much fuller idea than just a map of what the roads, streets, intersections and interchanges will look like.

      1. KnottyFerret*

        Seconding this. You can get crime maps for just about anywhere in the US, though it varies whether it’s available by city or county. Specifically, I look at violent crimes in the last 1-3 years to get a feel for how “safe” it will feel.

    3. Washi*

      Take a cab/rideshare there, and then take public transportation on the way back if you feel comfortable? I assume it was the walk to the event that was a problem, and it wouldn’t have been unsafe inside the actual venue.

      I’m curious about what it was about this area that so immediately felt unsafe?

      1. Temperance*

        Not OP, but I typically can tell when I’m in a high crime area by how rundown the properties are, how much trash is on the ground, etc. If I’m in a major city and the block looks like a war zone, I’m going to assume it’s a “bad” area.

        1. Flinty*

          Maybe I’m just desensitized, but there’s a difference between a generally rundown area, and an area where I am likely to actually be the victim of a crime. I used to live in a neighborhood with a lot of assaults and gun violence, but it was almost always between people who knew each other, not random shootings on the street. So yeah, I could have gotten unlucky and been in the wrong place at the wrong time, but it was never very likely that I would be involved. And the area with the greatest number of muggings is actually the tourist part of town, not any of the “bad” neighborhoods, and even then, muggers usually go for individuals, not groups.

          So I guess if it was a “vibe” thing, I would suggest the OP maybe look into crime stats as the others were saying, but look at the specific types of crimes, not just general stats.

          1. Lissa*

            Yeah I’m also wondering about this – bad/unsafe areas to me would be an area where you’re more likely to be mugged. Someone going out of their way to say a group of people don’t look like they belong – are we talking a situation where everyone knows each other or it’s a gang thing? Cause otherwise…what does that even mean? Sorry if I sound ignorant – ARE there areas where strangers are likely to be attacked/harassed just for being strangers to the area? I mean, I’m sure they exist in the world, it’s just really out of my frame of reference. In my city when someone says “not a good area” usually they mean “a lot of homeless people are there” but passersby aren’t really at risk.

            1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

              I agree. I’ve lived in urban areas my whole life, and I can’t really imagine a place that I would feel unsafe enough, during the day, to leave immediately.

              1. Catherine*

                When I lived in Seattle a couple years ago there were certain blocks downtown I had to avoid even in broad daylight because the catcalling and getting followed by strange men was just intolerable to me. I did genuinely feel at risk of physical violence in those areas.

          2. ket*

            Agree. I am statistically and practically safer due to my demographics/the types of crime in the “bad” part of my city than near the local party college, where I’ve been harassed plenty by rich kids. The party college looks nicer, though; bigger gardening budget.

        2. Basia, also a Fed*

          I grew up in the south side of Chicago in “the projects” and am not uncomfortable in poor, run down neighborhoods. Having said that, there have been a couple of times when I’ve been genuinely frightened (although not in Chicago).

          We once were walking down a street in a non-touristy area of a large US east coast city and a group of men in their 20s started following us and asking for money and saying “we can get it from you if we want, but it would be easier if we didn’t have to.”

          Different east coast city, but we were driving, stopped at a light, and a group of teenagers stepped off the sidewalk and started banging on the hood of our car. The light changed and we couldn’t move. I was terrified that we’d inch forward and accidentally hit someone and be dragged out of our car and beaten up.

          My point is that there are neighborhoods that are genuinely dangerous to obvious outsiders, and I don’t think its appropriate to second guess someone if they don’t feel comfortable.

        3. Laura Holt*

          This is incredibly racist, what is it even doing here? What’s yuor definition of a run down, a place that has too many bwron skinned people in it? You need to apologize for this post and take it down right now.

      2. LilySparrow*

        Not the OP, but I once got off the bus in an area of the boroughs of NYC and encountered a pack of feral dogs running down the sidewalk/street, with people scattering to get out of their way. Literal feral dogs, not a metaphor for anything.

        I’m sure the *people* who lived there were fine, but I definitely did not feel safe.

        1. Bronx chica*

          As someone from the outer boroughs, why did you put people in quotes? We don’t pack of feral dogs on our streets either and if they were scattering they obviously didn’t feel safe.

            1. LilySparrow*

              Yes, that was emphasis not quotes. I’m sure the people were no threat to me, they were not the reason I felt unsafe.

    4. Temperance*

      You can get neighborhood-specific information from CityData. What I would also do going forward is Google the event/venue to see what sorts of comments people have given on it.

    5. coffeehabit*

      I actually look up to see if there is a Starbucks in the area. If there is, I figure it’s a safe neighborhood.

      1. Gaia*

        That is a really weird assumption. Some of the highest crime areas in the last 3 cities I have lived in had a starbucks in them.

      2. Laura Holt*

        coffeehabit thinks that POC do not like starbucks or drink coffee, there are no starbucks in those icky brown neigborhoods.

    6. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I’m a bit uncomfortable with the idea of labeling areas “bad.” Do you mean it looked poor and was inhabited by black and brown people? That doesn’t mean you will be a victim of crime. As someone else said, most crimes aren’t random except for muggings and those are more likely in a densely populated tourist area where the mugger can disappear easily and lots of people aren’t paying attention.

      You almost surely would have been fine proceeding to your event. You weren’t alone and I assume it wasn’t in an actual war zone.

      1. Bratmon*

        I’m curious where you live so that you can claim “A poor, high crime area where an outsider is likely to get mugged” does not exist anywhere.

        1. ThatGirl*

          They did not write that sentence??

          There are areas of Chicago (the metro area I live in) that I would avoid because gang violence is more common and I wouldn’t want to get caught in crossfire, but those are not the neighborhoods I’m likely to get mugged in—muggers target crowded and touristy areas.

        1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

          I didn’t assume – I asked what was meant by “bad.” But it’s definitely a fact that most of the time when white people in the US speak of “bad” areas that’s code for minority plus poor. That’s the whole rationale behind white flight from cities and banks historically (not far off history either) refusing mortgages in certain areas to minority applicants to keep them out. Plus OP said it was a part of the city OP lived in so urban “bad” = minority and poor is not a huge stretch.

          I’m not perfect by any means but everyone should examine their own take on “bad” areas as part of unconscious racism. Not saying OP is racist but examining these assumptions is a good exercise for everyone.

            1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

              I didn’t say the OP was a white American. I certainly don’t know. If the OP is Syrian and talking about an area in Aleppo being dangerous, then nothing I have said applies to the OP.

              It’s still worth discussing that classifying a place (in your own city!) where people live as “bad” is problematic and definitely has roots in racism. Different kinds of racism (eg Chinatown or the Irish areas being historically “bad” in NYC) but it’s still racism. Mostly privileged people saying things are “bad” because the people who live there are Other (in some way) and economically disadvantaged rather than any real evidence about danger.

              OP can do what they want and should take their personal safety into account. But people in general should check the assumptions they have about classifying things as bad and whether those assumptions are based in subconscious racism.

      2. LilySparrow*

        Of course, it could go the other way, too. There are certainly areas not far from where I live now, where POC would feel unsafe, and if a local made a comment about them looking out of place it would definitely be a threat.

        I don’t think you can screen for that on Google Street view, tho.

      3. Courageous cat*

        I understand and agree with what you’re saying about poor and black/brown areas, but saying “you almost surely would have been fine” doesn’t sit well with me, because we literally have no way of knowing that. There are areas of my city where you are definitely significantly less likely to be fine. This comment overall makes me think that you don’t live in a very big or high-crime city.

        1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

          My bona fides don’t matter but I lived in West Philadelphia working nights and weekends for 8 years and I live in another large US east coast city now. It’s not Mayberry.

          I’m not saying crime doesn’t exist or OP should be stupid about their personal safety. I just object to the underpinnings of what (some) people consider “bad”.

    7. LCL*

      If your city is big enough to have public transportation, it will have a local subreddit. Ask there, but keep in mind each subreddit has its own rules and that sort of page usually allows unverified information. And some pages can be really snarky.

  4. ElspethGC*

    Anyone with long hair have any suggestions for smart/put-together hairstyles, for any relatively fancy occasion or for the-thing-no-to-be-mentioned-here? I’ve got my graduation in less than a year, for example.

    I’ve got long hair – hip-length. Wavy, shifting to curls from about the waist down. Which causes issues, because 1) a whole load of sites for ‘professional’ advice (eg Corporette) basically said that if you’re an adult you shouldn’t have hair longer than shoulder/bra-strap length, and 2) the sites that do acknowledge that proper long hair exists talk about it looking smart with words like “smooth” and “sleek”, which just don’t work for anyone who doesn’t have straight hair. I avoid heat-styling (no straightening) and cutting it shorter isn’t really an option. I don’t want to do that.

    Anyone have any ideas? At the moment I usually just plait it back or have it in a ponytail if I want it tied back, which works but I feel like it makes me look young, probably because those were the go-to for when I was in school.

    1. Mephyle*

      No specific ideas, but try a YouTube search on: styles for very long hair. I see some results for this search.
      For a general internet search, it seems to give better targetted results if you put ‘very long hair’ in quotes; so:
      polished styles for “very long hair”.

    2. aarti*

      A hairstyle I see a lot here is women who braid their hair in a low braid starting from the nape of their neck. Rather than braiding it to end if the hair and tying it off, they fold the end up on the underside of the braid and use a hair band to hold it in place. It looks neater in my opinion and makes the hair seem “shorter” than it is. If I can find a picture I’ll post it later.

      1. Panda Bandit*

        Ooh, that’s the same hairstyle that was popular with men around the 1700s, known as clubbed or queued hair! *history nerd squeeing*

    3. LilySparrow*

      YouTube is great for all things hair. I have short hair but my kids have long hair, and sometimes I watch them just for fun.

      There’s a channel called Makeup Wearable that has “1-minute hairstyles for work” and another called Knot Me Pretty. Both of them have mid-back or longer hair.

      Looks like sectioning and using those little elastics to build structure are key.

      1. Reba*

        Yeah, youtube! I also have long hair–not quite as long as ElspethGC though–and I try to do something fancy with it a couple times a year, as if to justify the length. You can find lots of ideas for quick updos. Lately I’ve been into styles based on “pull through braids” which do indeed use a ton of those little elastics. For everyday, I do various combinations of low buns, french braids, “gibson tuck,” and french twists (with your long hair, secure the first section of twist against the head, then either twist-braid the remaining tail and lay it back alongside the main body of hair, or quickly regular braid the tail to make it easier to tuck inside the main body of hair).

        One thing that’s kind of gratifying about the video tutorials, as someone who also has wavy hair, is that most of the stylists put curl into their hair before beginning, for volume and grip in the updo style. So we are one step ahead on that one. :)

    4. Lora*

      Get a pack of Invisibobbles at Ulta or Sephora and look up “Invisibobble tutorial on YouTube. Many cute options. With the amount of hair you have, you may need to put a little gel or leave in conditioner to keep it from making weird loose bits around your face, or redo it after six hours to get frizzies/flyaways under control, but that’s okay because it’s pretty quick to do in a bathroom.

      Signed, someone whose very long hair is a curly, cowlicky white girl Afro when anything less than bra strap or even waist length.

    5. Indie*

      My advice is: Sneer with flared nostrils at people who see curls and waves as ‘wild and sexy’ and straight hair as ‘professional’. Not only are they sexists but they clearly don’t know any WoC.

      I have long curls/waves. My go-tos are:
      -Upside down ponytails: curving the hair inwards makes it really maneagble if you’re curls are trying to say hello to everyone at once.
      – Top knots. I use hair doughnuts and sock buns to give a more defined and neat shape.
      – Chignons. Use wavy hairpins and check out youtube for how to use them. Will hold up a cartload of hair.

      But don’t be afraid to let it all hang out. Women are allowed to be feminine in the workplace nowadays. Use barettes and Alicebands to keep hair in place and off the face (if it tends to ‘rise up’ as mine does) and as long as your hair is clean and groomed you’re fine.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Just to clarify because I’ve seen a few comments like this here — work is not unmentionable in the weekend thread! Just no work-focused questions/posts.

      1. ElspethGC*

        I’m not a WoC (I’m so white I’m translucent, and that’s not actually an exaggeration) but I agree with the curls vs straight thing being a complete mess. A friend straightened my hair once – took her nearly two hours – and I got a ton of comments on how it’s “so pretty and straight, you should do this every day!” Eff you, my hair’s pretty on its own. Why should it be especially pretty when it’s straight, other than the fact that it’s not what I normally do? Also, given the time it takes and the damage heat styling does, no. Just no.

        1. Arjay*

          Sometimes it’s not about the curly vs straight as much as it is seeing something different. I have a friend who unbeknowst to me straightened her hair every day. She came into work one day with it curly and I was telling her how great it looked and asked how she had styled it that way. I was shocked to find out that’s how it naturally looked when air-dried. I don’t know why she ever bothered doing anything else.

    6. Red Reader*

      Your hair sounds about like mine, on the borderline between wavy and curly and butt-length. I pretty much live in buns, personally. Hard to describe, but I’ll try — ponytail at about the central back of my head, wind it once around my left hand at the base of the ponytail, then wind the rest of the tail around the ponytail elastic (about four times for me) so the loop around my hand is basically sticking out the middle. Hold the very tail end in place with my right hand, and slide the loop off my left hand and basically jam it down around the whole rest of the wrap. Take a hair stick (pencil or chopstick will do for practicing — I tend to go with wooden sticks, a little on the thicker side, or even metal ones, but my hair will shatter most plastic) and put it through one side of the loop, angle it so it goes underneath the ponytail elastic, and then back out the other side.

      The loop helps hold everything in place without needing like fifteen sticks or pins, and I find that this tends to make a flatter bun than some of the other methods I’ve tried, which helps spread out the weight of that much hair. For me, it holds all day and in fact all night and longer — the bun I’ve got in right now, I put up Thursday morning (I was traveling all day Thursday and didn’t leave my house yesterday :P ) and the bun itself is fine, the bandana I’m wearing is more to cover the frizzes on the top of my head until I shower and go run errands :) If you find a bun is still too much weight on the back of your head, try adjusting the positioning before you give up on it — sometimes higher or lower does the trick.

      French twists are also pretty and classy, but I am not coordinated enough to figure out how to make one work with my hair when my bun does the trick :)

      1. ElspethGC*

        I’ve done buns a few times, usually when the length isn’t cooperating, and the amount of hair always ends up making it stick out the back of my head like a weird topknot. I’ll try the tip for making it flatter!

        And yes, I’ve never mastered French twists either. Too much hair for most of the tutorials.

        1. Lora*

          For hip length hair it really is too much for the clips, combs etc that would normally hold up a French twist. You can take the crown part of your hair and make a high bun, and French twist what’s underneath, but that’s sorta defeating the purpose.

          I do recommend learning to French/Dutch braid your own hair. That gives you something to anchor a long braid to, if you want to pin up a braid or ponytail so it doesn’t get caught in stuff. And that way the pinning stays up all day with minimal frizzies and it distributes the weight around your scalp.

      2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Yes, hair stick buns! Found those this year and they are amazing. As fast as a messy bun, but actually work for my hair. And look fancy.

        I don’t have much curl to deal with, but I’ve got even longer hair. I love it, but it’s way too long to wear down from a practical point of view. If I leave the house, it’s pretty much in a bun.

        I’ve found it’s hard to find YouTube videos for long hair, since you search long hair and find someone with hair that barely reaches past their shoulders. I’ll share some links in the reply.

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          The middle style in this video is the Nautilus Bun that Red Reader describes above. It’s my standard too. Silvous Plaits also has a bunch of cool tutorials for character hair- Star Wars, Game of Thrones, anime. Not really work wear, but amazing for fancy event wear. And some nice tutorials on the basics.

          This lady talks too much, but if you skip to the actual hair part, she’s got some cool styles. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJTQEX3WnZ0&t=428s I like the middle bun on this one too.

    7. gecko*

      Buns, sometimes I’ll do two french braids and twist the braids together and pin them on the back of my head. For buns the key is that you keep it low on your head or you look like a ballerina, so with the midpoint on the lump at the back of your skull or lower.

      For the “sleekness” thing, what that means for you is no frizzy flyaways around your face, so do some experimenting with some product that’ll keep that in check when you have your hair up.

    8. HannahS*

      When I had hair that long, I’d do a milkmaid-style French braid, starting from my side-part, working across the front of my head, around the back, and then tucked under itself at the front. It looked pretty good, and provided I wasn’t wearing a sundress, it didn’t look young. I tried a lot of different braided hairstyles; I find they distribute the weight of long hair more comfortably than a bun.

    9. Parenthetically*

      When I had hair that long, I frequently did milkmaid braids — I can’t French braid my own hair to save my life, but I could manage two simple braids, one starting behind each ear, braided right down to the end, secured with clear bands, and then criss-crossed/wrapped around my head and pinned in place. I’ve put a super simple tutorial link in my name. It’s very quick!

      A friend of mine who has mid-thigh length wavy hair often does hers in a braid that she then pins into a low figure eight at the nape of her neck for her work gigs (she’s a harpist), and it looks very professional.

    10. Indie*

      Something else I’ve found useful for this hair type is to do Dutch braids in place of French braids. French braids showcase the sleekness of straight hair and creates bulk for fine hair. Dutch braids (you plait under, not over, so the braid sits out on top) shows off the thickness and texture of the hair. For some reason i also find it easier to do.

      1. Constantly Sleepy*

        Huh! I didn’t realize that that was the type of braid that I’ve been doing. I can’t do a French braid on myself very well so it looks like I’ve been doing Dutch braids this entire time.

    11. Hannah*

      Personally, I don’t see what is unprofessional about long, wavy hair as long as it is clean, healthy, not matted, etc.

      Make sure the ends are kept healthy with regular trims, and maybe use some product to mitigate frizz and keep your beautiful curls looking as neat as possible. As long as it looks cared for, it should be fine in most contexts.

      I love long hair and wish my hair would cooperate with growing out! (My hair pretty much poops out around bra length.)

    12. Melody Pond*

      I have pretty long hair currently, but it’s more straight-ish/light wavy on its own, so probably not quite comparable to what you deal with.

      But still – I think a low bun at the nape of the neck is always work-appropriate. I experiment with braid-based styles a bit sometimes. I also really like this Etsy store which makes really fun hammered metal hair accessories, which are a fun way to dress up long hair:


    13. Feliz*

      One of my direct reports has wavy hair down to the small of her back. She’s mid 20s and wears it really well – a variety of styles – all up, all down, mix of some up some down, small braids, full braids, braids in buns, just the front sections pinned off her face etc.

      Honestly, it always looks gorgeous – I think because it’s healthy and she clearly puts effort into it

    14. valentine*

      A simple tie at the nape. I’ve seen hair this long in lovely, large barrettes that look like wood or brooches. I think the issue with curls is frizz, so, Frizz-ease.

    15. DrTheLiz*

      Fellow long-hair here! For my undergrad graduation, I wore a “crown of braids”, which is pretty easy: make two braids starting just behind the ear, wind around the head, tuck the end under the other braid. For butt-length hair you might even be able to get away with a single braid making a complete loop. I also like the double-braid bun: French (or Dutch) braid the hair on each side moving back from the temple, then when you have two full braids gather and wind them into a single, low, oval bun. The low oval reduces bulk and the French/Dutch bit on the sides I find keeps the flattening effect of pulling the hair back from making my head look weirdly small.

      Googling “Victorian hair styles” I find can yield some fun results, especially for more formal things!

    16. Ehhhh*

      No advice, just jealousy. I’ve got thin, straight, quick-to-greasy hair that won’t grow more than a couple inches past my shoulders. I know maintaining and managing super long, wavy/curly/textured hair can be a PITA. But it’s so beautiful and amazing and I’m envious of you.

    17. Rachel B.*

      I have waist-length hair, and it is curly when it isn’t too blasted hot around here (two months out of the year?) I make a single braid either from the crown of the head, starting the braid bent over at the waist, or high on the back of the head leaning as far as possible backwards over the back of a sturdy chair to start the braid. Tie it off when there’s almost no hair left, then either coil the braid and stab it with a single large hairpin, aka hairsticks, use a couple of large combs or claws, or, my fave, get a scunci “upzing”. The upzing is two slightly curved combs connected by elastic strings of tiny beads. Put in one comb, curving following the curve of the skull, bend the elastic beaded strands over the coiled or folded braid, insert other comb on the other side of the braid, which comb is now also following the curve of the skull. Neat, tidy, stays put ALL day, and if little tiny bits come loose and curl along the nape of the neck or the temples, you still won’t be too hot, and the tiny curls look charming.

      I taught high school chemistry for several years and needed hair neat, tidy and definitely out of the way, not to mention grown-up. The coiled braid works for everything, including attending weddings, and one gets different looks depending on where one starts the braid. Even in the rain, it holds up pretty well, though the tiny curls multiply (fine by me).

  5. Daughter Dearest*

    Quick backstory for this question: my parents had a mutual divorce when I was a baby, and had joint custody, though I primarily lived with my mom and visited my dad every other week. My dad, stepmom, and half siblings always lived within 30 min drive of my mom’s house, that was important to my dad as I was growing up. This made it really easy for me to visit frequently as I grew up and my visits were less scheduled. When I had my own car, I could drive over after work to have dinner with them or hang out on a rainy weekend.

    For the first time in my life, my dad and family have moved further than that 30 min area. I’m moved out from home but was still near by. Earlier this year, they moved nearly 2 hours away. The frustration I’m having comes from my dad nagging at me to visit.

    Obviously with the 2 hour drive, spur of the moment dinners and casual hangouts are off the table. But it’s difficult to get to him even for a longer visit. If I’m driving over 1 hour anywhere, I prefer to spend the night. Spending 4 total hours in the car there and back for maybe a 3 hour visit is not fun. But it’s been difficult for me to have a weekend with nothing to do so I can make the overnight trip. And when I do have a weekend free, my dad is out or entertaining others guests or is somehow engaged that it won’t work. I’m frustrated because any time I call him up to casually talk, the first topic is ‘When are you coming to visit?’ so I want to call him even less because he’s always nagging.

    I’m hitting the point where I even want to say ‘Why aren’t you visiting me?’ He and the rest of the family still have a lot of ties to this area like their friends and his office (he’s working from home now) so I know my dad is actually back in this area quite frequently. A family friend told me that my dad was up here a week or two ago. But he doesn’t make any effort to see me when he’s in the area.

    I guess I’m frustrated because he’s putting all the guilt and burden of arranging the visit but doesn’t take any for himself even when he’s back around me frequently. And I know I do need to suck up the drive complaints and do a day visit. I love my dad to pieces but he’s gotten very annoying since he moved away. I miss the nights where I could swing by after work to have dinner with him and just hang out for a few hours.

    1. CBE*

      Say it! Especially if you’re hearing he’s been in the area. Something that says “Hey, next time you’re up here I’d love to grab dinner with you before you head back.”
      Because of the pattern growing up, it may never have occurred to him that now you’re an adult and he can come visit you without being at his ex’s place.

    2. Washi*

      I think “I’d love to see you too! Do you think you could visit me sometime?” is a totally valid question, especially if he’s in your area frequently. Actually, I think everything you’ve expressed here would be fair game to tell him, and might lead to both of you feeling less frustrated. My guess (if your dad is a nice, reasonable person) is that your dad is asking you when you’re visiting all the time to 1. express that he misses you and 2. make sure that you know you are welcome just as much as before, and he’s kind of oblivious about all the ways it’s now much harder for to visit and the things he needs to do on his end to make that happen.

      And is there any in the middle that you could meet up? If each of you had an hour drive, maybe that wouldn’t feel too bad for like, lunch and a walk or something.

    3. ainomiaka*

      Is this a new move? During a change it’s particularly easy to say “okay, we need to to talk about practicalities of seeing you”, but really, even the next time he says “when are you coming to visit?” would be reasonable. I would say don’t start off with complaining about guilt, but make it about practicalities. Specifically ask if he could clear a weekend for you to go visit, specifically say you’d like to be called when he’s in town/show him your place.
      If he’s still not helpful, being honest about not wanting to talk because he always nags, and then not talking as much is a reasonable next step. But start with just laying it out as problem solving practicalities.

    4. LilySparrow*

      It sounds like you have an overall really good relationship with your dad. Making the jump to a fully adult relationship on both sides isn’t always easy, even in the warmest parental relationships.

      You can absolutely bring up the one-sidedness going on here, in a “let’s talk” way, not a “call-out” type way.

      “Hey, I’ve been hearing you were in town but you didn’t call me. What’s going on? You know I always want to see you!”

      Or, “Hey, I’m trying to schedule a visit, but every time I suggest a date you say it won’t work. Can you block out some time for me? I can’t make this happen all by myself.”

    5. Villanelle*

      My friends live 2.30 hrs away. I don’t like it but I take the train and back in one day. It’s a long day for sure but I do it. You say you prefer to stay overnight. Fair enough. But sometimes you have to compromise and it sounds from what you have written here that both you and your dad can work on this (he/his family should make more of an effort to see you. You, maybe every other visit/every 3rd, whatever should just do the drive and back. Or stay somewhere cheap on the way there. Go explore. I dunno.)

    6. Temperance*

      You definitely need to bring this up! Ask him why he’s not visiting you when he’s in the area. It honestly might be that he’d prefer you to have “family time” with your half-siblings and stepmom, but still, he’s your dad and should put some effort in.

    7. Ender*

      As others have said, ask when he is coming. Also, next time you talk, lock down a weekend when you are both free and book it in. It might be a few months out but it will never happen if you don’t both commit to keeping a weekend free.

    8. Harvey P. Carr*

      Add my name to those who feel you should ask your father why he doesn’t reach out to see you when he’s in town.

    9. Bethany D*

      Maybe you could drive over on a Friday evening and enjoy Saturday morning with him, then head home in the afternoon for the rest of your weekend.

    10. Pickle Lily*

      You could suggest meeting in the middle for lunch or a walk etc. Then it’s only an hour each way and easier to fit into a busy weekend. And you both have to make the same effort.

    11. Yetanotherjennifer*

      I think on some level your dad doesn’t recognize that your lives have changed. You’re no longer a kid; you have a job, your own place, and other commitments. And he doesn’t live as close as he used to so drop-ins aren’t really possible any more. I think you’re also falling into a childhood habit of accepting your parent’s decrees for how things will be. You’re an adult too, now and while it may feel hard to broach this topic with him, you absolutely can. So talk to him. Next time he brings it up, say you’d love to but it doesn’t work for either of you anymore and you have a few ideas for new ways to get together. It will take some effort and advanced planning, and perhaps many reminders, but soon you’ll have new traditions and occasions to get together.

      You could also get your step-mom’s help with this. It may be that she’s the keeper of the schedule and can help him keep weekends free for you or identify good ones before they get filled. She could also remind him to save time for you when he’s planning a trip to your area.

  6. Waiting for the Sun*

    Music thread!

    If you were doing that thing we don’t talk about on weekends as a radio programmer and waned to freshen the playlist, what are some songs you would use? I’m thinking of classic rock or alternative songs that are radio-appropriate but overlooked/underplayed.
    Substitute” instead of “Behind Blue Eyes.”
    “Rock and Roll” by the Velvet Underground instead of the Zeppelin song by the same name.
    “Soul Kitchen” vs “Light My Fire” (had to do a Doors one:))

    1. annakarina1*

      Thin Lizzy’s “Still in Love With You” is one of my favorites that I’ve heard by them, next to “Roisin Dubh.” I’ve never liked “The Boys Are Back in Town,” but it’s the only song that rock radio plays by them.

      1. Waiting for the Sun*

        That song was new to me. Thanks.
        Enjoyed the Behind The Music episode on Thin Lizzy. Phil Lynott’s mom was ahead of her time.

    2. WellRed*

      I swear the only Kiss song our local radio plays us “Rock and Roll All Night.” I’d love to hear “Do You Love Me” just once.

      1. Waiting for the Sun*

        That’s a good one.
        I remember being annoyed by prissy girls and their “The only KISS song I like is Beth” attitude. Think girls are more free now to embrace hard rock.

    3. Waiting for the Sun*

      How could I forget? Warren Zevon – anything but “Werewolves.” Fun, but he had so much more to offer.

    4. annakarina1*

      Also, I like Van Morrison, but hate “Brown Eyed Girl.” I hated it when I was a kid listening to the sixties pop radio station, I just found it irritating. But my dad is a Van Morrison fan and his albums are so much richer and better.

    5. Lora*

      So many musicians from classic rock are men, how about some Patti Smith? Or for more alternative, Laurie Anderson?

      1. Waiting for the Sun*

        Thanks, yes.
        Joan Jett’s versions of “Crimson and Clover “ or “Do You Wanna Touch Me” would be nice.

      2. WellRed*

        Pat Benatar. Sick of Hit Me with your Best Shot. Much rather hear Outta Touch or Wuthering Heights or Helter Skelter.

        1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

          Agree re: the first song especially as she has such a great overall catalog. I had totally forgotten how awesome Invincible was until I saw it used on GLOW. A much more powerful song.

    6. wingmaster*

      I’m a huge Pink Floyd listener. It’s always a treat when I hear some underplayed songs on the radio over “Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 2”, because there are so many good songs. It would be nice to hear songs from other albums like Meddle or Animals.

      1. Waiting for the Sun*

        The radio played “On the Run, “ which was new to me, on a road trip outside Wateska, Illinois. Really perked up the drive! Figured it was Pink Floyd and looked it up when I got to my destination. Not sure what radio station; probably too distant to pick up Chicago stations. Impressed that a smaller-market station was venturing from the usual Floyd tracks.

    7. LCL*

      Ooh, I can do the classic rock part all day! I used to do this as mental exercise. So building off what everyone has posted:
      I’m a boy, cousin Kevin, the Seeker from The Who.
      Whiskey in the Jar by Thin Lizzy. Followed by Whiskey drinking woman by Nazareth.
      Rocket Ride by Kiss. Their least subtle song ever.
      Sentimental Hygiene by Warren Zevon. Followed by Industrial Disease, Dire Straits.
      Pissin in the River by Patti Smith.
      Hell is for children by Pat Benatar.
      One of these days, Pink Floyd. Two basses!
      Summer of Love and Black Blade, Blue Oyster Cult.
      The Lemon Song, Led Zeppelin. Bass part is to die for.
      Iron Man, Sir Mixalot with Metal Church. The guitar will give you chills, it’s that good.
      Famous Groupies and Hi Hi Hi, Paul McCartney and Wings.

      Be back later, going to walk the dog. Can’t wait to see everyone else’s suggestions!

    8. Windcalleddelilah*

      A lot of playlists tend to skew men. So I freshen it up by adding women led groups, women solo artists. Originals or covers. Also if I were doing a play list of classic rock from the early 70s, I’d also check out songs on other 70s lists – r&b, salsa, cult rock (songs that everyone knows but never made any charts)

    9. Big Moody Curve*

      My apologies if this doesn’t nest or format properly. I’m a newbie. It’s meant as a reply to Waiting for the Sun, about freshening up classic rock playlists.
      Feel free to tell me when to shut up.
      Since you mentioned Tin Lizzy: Mick Taylor’s version of Jailbreak. Or for particularly teeth-gritting days, the Dropkick Murphys’ version.
      Dropkick Murphys’ Dirty Water (if the Standells and Sid Vicious had a musical baby…)
      House of the Rising Sun – Frijid Pink
      Vagrants – Respect (pre-Mountain Leslie West)
      Mott The Hoople – Sweet Jane
      Hey Joe – several contenders here. The Leaves, Love, Stillroven, Tim O’Brien.
      Them/Van Morrison – Baby Please Don’t Go. Discovered this one myself on the B-side of Gloria. Be kind, please don’t ask “What’s a B-side”?
      Next Saturday, maybe “Live (recorded, released) versions that improve on the studio version”? Ex: Midnight Rambler on Get Your Ya-Ya’s Out.

      1. Big Moody Curve*

        I’m back.
        Van Morrison/John Lee Hooker’s live version of Gloria.
        Chambers Brothers – Midnight Hour
        Georgia Satellites – Don’t Pass Me By
        Freshmen – Papa Oo Mow Mow (no idea who the Freshmen were, this is a crazed surf/garage/proto-punk rendition)
        Shocking Blue – Never Marry A Railroad Man
        Shutting up now, honest.

          1. Big Moody Curve*

            Okay, one more:
            Gimme Shelter by Detroit (Mitch Ryder, post-Detroit Wheels. He aged into a great gravelly blues-rock voice.)
            Side note – I had never noticed the stray apostrophe in “Get Your Ya-Ya’s Out” until I typed it here. Whatever ya-yas are, they’re plural, not possessive. Now the punctuation will bother me forever.

  7. aarti*

    Yay! Caught this early this week.
    A year ago, almost to the day, I shaved my head. I’ve had different feelings about it over the past year but generally I’ve really enjoyed it. I found it incredibly satisfying and mostly I’ve liked the way I’ve looked. Two things:
    1) Anyone else have stories about drastic hair changes they want to share?

    2) My hair is in a weird the in-between stage. It’s 6 inches or so long but everywhere (so longer in the back and looks more like bangs in the front). Any suggestions for hairstyles?

    1. nep*

      I’ve got about 1.5 years of growth since my buzz cut. Many frustrating, awkward periods in between. I’m now back to top-knot. Miss the buzzed head and many days I wish I could have it just for a day. (I like having hair just for some variety…but when I see women with buzz cuts I do look longingly.)
      It was my second time shaving it in about a decade. One of my favorite parts was taking the clippers to it every morning or every other morning (on 2), mowing it down and getting that clean feeling.
      I know I could get more creative with it now than just the top-knot, but I don’t like spending lots of time on the hair. I like messy looks, in any case, but it takes time to get it just right.
      That was another wonderful part of the buzz–yes, I spent a couple minutes buzzing it, but that’s fun and satisfying; other than that no time spent messing with the hair.
      My only suggestion/or at least from my experience: Bobby pins can be your best friend. You can do cool things with them.

    2. AnonGD*

      Not really a happy story but I shaved my head before going into chemo (at 26). I tried to like it but I definitely don’t have a head built for baldness haha. Growing it out was a PAIN– but I feel like once you get a little bit past the point you’re at now you’ll have an easier time with styling. There’s an awkward phase where nothing looks particularly intentional (in my experience)

    3. Tau*

      No suggestions re: 2), unfortunately, but on 1) I went from hip-length to shoulder/chin-length hair at sixteen and then from that to a pixie cut at around 25 or so. I was nervous going into both but they were massive improvements and I’m not planning to let my hair get any longer than it is now again. I have pretty-much-straight hair that’s fine but ludicrously thick – every single hairdresser I’ve ever visited has commented on how much hair I have, and the one time I had to have an EEG the doctor had serious problems actually finding scalp to put the electrodes on – and I could never work out anything sensible to do with it when I was younger. When it’s longer, it just ends up completely overwhelming my face (and it would slip out of and/or eat the fastenings of most hairstyles I tried), but at pixie length, it actually looks good.

    4. Temporarily Anonymous*

      I better be anonymous for this one.
      I coloured my hair copper red which was a drastic change from its natural colour. I actually got mistaken for a natural redhead several times which was funny since my brows and lashes were still a very different colour. I also buzzed my hair this year (not while it was red) although it wasn’t an extreme buzz- I left the top a bit longer and did a fade on the sides & back with triangular sideburns. Absolutely loved both but couldn’t maintain the red (way too pricey). I find that I feel more like myself the shorter I cut my hair but inevitably I get more compliments as soon as it’s started growing out to an irritating length. Oh well.

    5. Monty and Millie's Mom*

      I agree with Nep, bobby pins are the way to go. I cut mine from about shoulder length to little spikeys about an inch long, which wa super cute when I put a little product in it, but I hated getting it cut every 6 weeks, so it only lasted about 6 months. It was fun, I liked it!

    6. Dr. Anonymous*

      French braids, both sides of the head. Hair bands or hair combs. Have a hair band in the bathroom because it’s about to be long enough to accidentally spit on it when you brush your teeth.

    7. PookieLou*

      1) I am in a cycle of growing my hair, cutting it all off on a whim, repeat. I have a lot of hair products that only get used for a few months, then go back to storage for next time my hair is long/short enough. One Saturday I was bored and felt frumpy with my longer hair. I didn’t have a regular stylist, so I called around until somebody had time to see me that day. I went from collar-length to buzzed sides/longer top. The pile of hair on the floor looked like it could be a small dog!
      As cliche as it is, I had just broken up with a real jerk of a guy when I got that cut. At my next appointment, I was hoping cute coworker would ask me out. Time after that was in preparation for our first date. Next time, we were exclusive. Next time, we’d started saying “I love you”. Getting engaged could have doubled as a reminder to get my hair done. First thing I did was show her the ring, which she was not surprised to see. The only reason she didn’t cut my hair prior to the wedding was because she was on maternity.

      2)My advice to you is to get really good with bobby pins. You can do a lot by twisting/braiding sections and pinning them back. I can’t manage a ponytail with my hair at its usual length, but I’ve found that alternately pinning sections of hair from each side at the back of my head creates a really pretty half-up look. I even did a formal up-do by pinning sections back from each side until I’d pinned it all. Clean hair can be hard to keep in place, so sometimes I curl it up with my iron and lightly spray it with hairspray before I style it. It adds nice volume and stays in place. Saved a lot of money on my wedding by doing my own hair that way.

    1. Lady Jay*

      Oh, fun! Are you doing it as a part of an organized event, or on your own? (From what I remember of the Blerch runs, they’re “online,” so you can do them whenever/wherever you want.)

    2. CatCat*

      Oh, fun! Beat the Blerch came to my city a few years ago and it was my first 5k. Still my favorite race, sooooo fun! I wish it would come again.

    3. Empty Sky*

      Hope you had fun!

      I am jealous. It’s been around 3-4 years since I managed to finish one. I have a couple of recurring injuries that keep knocking me back (I’m doing physiotherapy and Pilates to resolve the underlying biomechanical issues and change the way I run/walk/stand, but it’s a long process). I used to knock them out several times a week in training, so it’s frustrating.

    4. LGC*

      Hope it went well! I’ve done one Blerch (well…that is a story in and of itself), and it was pretty fun! For the most part, anyway.

    5. Free Meerkats*

      I finished and had fun. Only got rained on a little. I was fastest of the walkers in my age class (60 to dead males.) Of course, there were only two of us…

      I don’t run, too many ankle injuries when I was young. If you ever see me running, don’t ask questions, just start running with me. :-)

  8. Loves Libraries*

    Really sad week. Yesterday my 24 year old son’s best friend was buried. He died after falling asleep at the wheel. So sad. I’m proud of my son for being a great friend and comforting the parents. No parent should have to bury their child. If any of y’all have done that, I’m so sorry.

    1. nep*

      Oh that is devastating. Condolences. And indeed it must have lifted your heart to see your son being a comfort to others.

    2. CBE*

      I am so sorry. I have lost a young family member to another driver falling asleep at the wheel. It’s rough.
      I hope your son is able to find comfort and peace, eventually, as he grieves his friend.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Condolences. I lost a young family member unexpectedly in the spring, and it is such a flattening shock.

    4. Jean (just Jean)*

      That is awful for the parents and everyone else involved. I’m glad that your son was so helpful in comforting his friend’s parents at the time. I hope that they are able to remain in contact and watch your son’s life unfold over time. It’s good for your son to be a source of comfort and it helps the bereaved parents even though nothing can ever replace the loss of a child (or any other loved one).

    5. Loves Libraries*

      Thank you all. I have 2 children in college in the Carolinas. One is right at where the storm will be Sunday morning. I think this death is making me more anxious than usual.

    6. still miss her*

      I’m 24, and my best friend passed away suddenly almost two years ago. So crazy to me, her services feel like they were yesterday. Pulmonary embolism. I hope your son remains close with his friend’s parents. Staying in touch with my friend’s mom and dad honestly really helped me through my own grief, and I know it helped them more. Nothing’ll make it hurt less, but when we’re all together it feels like she’s there too.

      1. SorryForYourLoss*

        From birth control pills? I also had PEs from those about 4 years ago, I’m so grateful to be perfectly healthy today. I often think of how differently it could have gone.

  9. Trixie*

    Hurricane Florence ended up taking a backseat in my orbit, thanks to a fender bender on Thursday.
    No one was hurt which is always most important. However, I was the at-fault driver and this is just a few months after I was the victim of a fender bender. Not looking forward to see my insurance rates sky rocket. At all.
    The car I hit was not heavily damaged (just bumper) but mine was crunched in front. Air bags did not deploy but any accident on car history is not good. Thinking once repaired, I can pay off this car as quickly as possible (maybe dip into emergency fund) and sell or trade towards new used car. I know I’ll take a hit on value (thanks to damage reported on car history) but I’d rather unload now while mileage is under 30K.
    Looking forward, pretty easy to plan around no car for immediate time being. Was already staying home (not driving or working) because of Florence. I can use Uber or Lyft for commuting, may be cheaper than car rental for next 2-3 weeks.
    Thanks to new position, I can probably work from home if weather worsens (courtesy of Florence). Plus, I am financially in better spot to pay for higher rates which apparently will last for next 3-5 years. I can shop around for new auto insurance but don’t think it will matter with my current driver history which was pristine prior to 2018.
    Moving forward. What’s done is done. Just grr.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I take those driver safety courses every three years. I get 10% off a portion of my insurance for each year for three years then I have to re-up. Maybe that is an option for you?
      My late husband was an insurance adjuster. We bought a lot of used cars together. He always looked at the lines of the car, when they put it back did they put it back correctly? Is the bumper straight across? Is the hood in line with the rest of the car? This type of thing. Insist that the body shop do a good job, this will help you get the best price you can when you sell it. (What I like about this advice is that we don’t have to be a super technical person to check around the car and make sure every thing is matched up evenly. And we can find problem areas doing this.)

    2. Red Reader*

      I would shop around though anyway, just in case. My car was totaled in a not-my-fault accident back in February, and when my renewal came due, my insurance decided that they were going to literally almost double my rate. I’m lazy, and I don’t want to shop for car insurance unless someone gives me a reason, but that was totally a reason, and I ended up finding cheaper rates elsewhere (as in, cheaper than before the rate-doubling renewal, let alone after) even though my husband and I both had minor at-fault fender benders on our record. If you don’t find anything better, you don’t, but it’s worth a shot at least!

      1. CheeryO*

        Definitely shop around! I have an… interesting driving record, with three minor at-fault accidents (hit two parked cars and rear-ended someone) and one not-at-fault accident (rear-ended) in the space of about four years (I’ve been accident-free for two years, knock on wood!). My insurance dropped me after the last one, and I was terrified that I was going to be uninsurable. A lot of companies gave me ridiculous quotes, but some were reasonable. I ended up doing one of the Snapshot programs (Progressive, but I think other companies have something similar) and actually ended up saving a significant amount of money over what my previous company had been charging me even before the last couple accidents. It was a really obnoxious six months, because you have to limit your driving during “high risk” hours (mainly overnight) and do only the gentlest of gentle brakes. Super worth it, though!

        Also, maybe this is just me, but I don’t see why you need to get rid of the car. As someone who has shopped for used cars in the <30,000 mile range, I'm ideally looking for something that's never been in an accident. I'd expect the record to get more spotty as the mileage/age goes up.

    3. MRK*

      I had friends (a couple) who’s insurance went way up after an unlucky run of accidents. They ended up doing one of those plug in moniter things from one of the insurance companies and only had to deal with the highest insurance payments for a couple months. After that it was readjusted based on the information the device gathers. It’s an option if you are normally a pretty decent driver and just had some bad luck

  10. Sevenorora*

    Pokémon Go Question:

    I need a few more friends to finish a mission
    I live in Europe, so might get some interesting eggs when sending gifts ;-)

    My trainer code: 0119 1840 8031

    1. Middle School Teacher*

      Oh, me too! My trainer code is 6148 7038 6487. I’m in Canada so you might get some cool stuff in gifts!

    2. Frank*

      Hello. I am from Canada… here is my code if anyone wants to add me: 3752 8520 2398
      I added those that already shared their code.

    3. Ginger Sheep*

      Oh great! I am a very new Pokemon Go player -started this august!- and I was really wondering how this friend thing worked… I’m in France, and my trainer code is 6844 4991 3742. Don’t hesitate to add me!

  11. nep*

    Just starting to build my second website. Hope I don’t pull as many hairs out as I did with the first one, now that I’m a little more familiar with things.
    Anyone else use Bluehost for hosting? Their support has been great in the past few days as I sent them my new domain name and got things going.

    1. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

      I am late to the party here but Bluehost is awesome. They are the host of choice for my husband, who is a web developer.

      1. Free Meerkats*

        I figure the chain mail alone is going to take me the better part of a year, and it likely won’t be entered into competition until 2021. And the first public view of my competition costumes happens onstage because a big part of my costumes is The Reveal.

        So please don’t hold your breath, you’ll die. :-)

    1. Lora*

      This is the most manly thing I have ever seen. While looking at it, I grew a beard, my car turned into a monster truck, and the white wine in my kitchen was transformed into Jack Daniels.

    2. Anono-me*

      I am super super super duper impressed.

      Many many moons ago I helped, or rather tried to help a friend who was making chainmail. So I know just how hard it is to make a teeny tiny square of something that isn’t completely horrible. You have a huge square of plaid perfection.

      Ps What ever happened to the squid?

  12. Lady Jay*

    Reading thread! What’s on your bookshelf this week?

    I just finished Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti, a novella about a young woman of the Himba people in Africa, who leaves her homeland behind when she’s accepted to the galactic version of Harvard, Oomza University, and as she travels, is changed by her experiences. There’s also some deadly aliens in there. :) It very much feels like Octavia Butler lite, which is a good thing, as Butler’s Xenogenesis is about 700 pages, and this one is 150. I recommend Binti really highly.

    Now I’m reading the Three Body Problem 0 no spoilers, I’m only a couple chapters in! But it’s good already!

    1. annakarina1*

      Wow, I read Binti earlier this year, along with Who Fears Death, and in the middle of Three Body Problem right now!

      I did like Binti, though I felt like the major climax was resolved rather quickly. I only read the first novella, I haven’t read the others.

      I’m having trouble getting through Three Body Problem. I like sci-fi, but it’s more talk about hard science and physics that I have a harder time understanding, and keeping track of the plot. I get a general idea of the story, but I haven’t been able to stay into it a lot, more just reading it in spurts. It’s well-written and engaging, I’m just not as invested as I’ve been with other books.

      1. Lady Jay*

        I do agree that Binti is resolved a little quickly; while the shorter length makes it easy to tackle, it could easily have been another 100 pages long, I think.

        Was Who Fears Death? good? It’s on my to-read list.

        1. annakarina1*

          I really enjoyed Who Fears Death s lot. I got really into it, and I normally don’t get into fantasy, but this was more like a mix of fantasy with African folklore, with a stunning protagonist, so it stood out. I haven’t read the other books in the series yet.

      2. PhylllisB*

        I recently finished Max’s Story: A Puppy Tale by R. Bruce Cameron. It’s really a children’s book, but if you read and liked the A Dog’s Purpose series, you will like these. There’s also Ellie’s Story, Bailey’s Story and one other that escapes me at the moment. Plan to try to read them all.

        1. PhylllisB*

          The other book is Molly’s Story. As I said, these are really for children maybe 3rd grade up? But they’re such cute little stories that if you are a sucker for dog stories like I am, you will love them. And if you have children/grandchildren, well there’s your built in excuse right there!!

      3. Reba*

        Three Body Problem is also slow going for me. My spouse read it/them first, and I want to finish so we can talk about it! While he was reading, I kept hearing these exclamations from out of the silence: “What?” “That’s so crazy!” “WAIT WHAT”

        Last night I read “the Emperor’s Soul” (Brandon Sanderson). It was like a delicious snack, short and I finished in a couple hours. Not quite as well written, mechanically, as some of his other works, but very fun and imaginative.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          I really like Three Body Problem – the hard science part isn’t an issue for me, and I found reading a science fiction book with a very non-Western cultural background very interesting. I enjoyed the trilogy less as it went on, though, as I felt the author was struggling with what to do with the plot and it just kept getting bigger but less anchored in the characters.

      4. Lemonworld*

        I am struggling to find a book to get into right now. I’ve been getting books online from the library, which is great, but it also means I check out a lot of books and don’t end up reading all of them. I abandon books more freely and can get into funny reading moods.

        The last book I finished was Michael Connelly’s Two Kinds of Truth, which was excellent. I think I’m going to try the last book in Ezekial Boone’s spider series – Zero Day. I accidentally started with book 2, and it was a cracking read – like a disaster movie.

      5. OhGee*

        I read lots of SFF and found The Three Body Problem really tough to get through. I’m currently reading Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie, and while it took me a while to get a solid understanding of the complex universe she’s created, I’ve flown through it. Nnedi’s books are high on my reading list for the end of this year.

        1. SpellingBee*

          I’ve tried three times to read Ancillary Justice and I just can’t get into it! I struggle through about halfway every time and then just give up; I can’t seem to care about the characters.

    2. Merci Dee*

      I’ve been going back through and re-reading the Shadow Unit series, and am on book 8 out of 15. It’s a great series of books, kind of a mix of Criminal Minds and X-Files. The action centers on a small offshoot of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, called the Anomalous Crimes Task Force. They’re a small group that is working to solve crimes committed by individuals who have been “infected” by a phenomenon the group calls the Anomaly. Those who are affected by the Anomaly have super strength, and powers that vary from individual to individual. Naturally, mayhem ensues.

    3. Overeducated*

      I’m reading The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Gallant. I don’t always love the ideas behind his books but they’re reliably entertaining.

    4. Marion Ravenwood*

      I’m reading Sinclair Lewis’ ‘It Can’t Happen Here’, about the election of a boorish, anti-immigrant 1930s Senator who wins the US Presidency after promising jobs and money to people who were affected by the Great Depression. It’s tough going so far, but feels very pertinent to read right now.

    5. Red Reader*

      I just reread the entirety of Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series while I was on vacation – all twelve books. Next up is Chuck Wendig’s “Aftermath” trilogy, which covers the span of time between the original Star Wars movie trilogy and the newest one.

        1. Red Reader*

          So good. SO GOOD. I did a full series reread because I hadn’t done since about book 7, and everything since then I just read as it came out, so I was forgetting a lot of the earlier stuff and she ties so much back to things that seemed incidental when they happened eight books ago!

        2. SpiderLadyCEO*

          Oh my gosh, I just finished it, and I’m so sad that I’ve finally finished all the October books! Each one is better than the last, I will have to do a full reread soon.

          Now I’m not sure what to read! I will have to find something that sucks me in like the October books did.

          1. Red Reader*

            Have you tried her other serieses? My husband is hooked on October Daye, my housemate is hooked on Incryptid, and I love them all but my favorite is the Newsflesh series under her Mira Grant ‘nym. Indexing, only available on Kindle, is also an excellent two-book pair and I love the Wayward Children books as well.

    6. Max Kitty*

      I’ve just started The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (his first novel). One of the categories in a reading challenge I’m participating is a banned book. I chose this one because the Nazis banned Hemingway entirely and burned his books. And I found an entire website dedicated to trying to justify banning The Sun Also Rises, which makes me even more determined to read it. Maybe I won’t like it, but I’ll be darned if I’ll give anyone the power to tell me what I can and can’t read.

    7. Middle School Teacher*

      The Shakespeare Requirement, by Julie Schumacher. It’s good but I liked Dear Committee Members better.

      Also, French Exit by Patrick deWitt! Undermajordomo Minor needs to be turned into a movie by Wes Anderson, like today.

    8. Pam.*

      There are two more Binti novellas. Both great.

      I also recommend Catherynne Valente’s Space Opera, and Martha Wells’ Murderbot novellas.

    9. SparklingStars*

      I’m on a non-fiction kick. I just finished a book about white supremacy in America called “Everything You Love Will Burn”, by Vegas Tenold, and now I’m starting one called “The Coddling of the American Mind”, by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, which basically talks about how all of the “helicopter parenting” that today’s kids are receiving is setting them up for problems as they grow up. Both have been fascinating reads.

    10. Sparkly Librarian*

      This week:
      -Not Becoming My Mother, a memoir by Ruth Reichl (Some good reminders on how to build and center your life, but very personal. I prefer her food writing.)
      -The Outsider, by Stephen King (Surprise! I didn’t know there was a new book out. Some crossover with characters from Mr. Mercedes. Crime novel with bonus supernaturalism. Satisfying.)
      -Make Me a Mother, by Susanne Antonetta (Memoir of adopting a child from Korea in the ’90s. Still working on it.)
      -Forever Mom: What to Expect When You’re Adopting, by Mary Ostyn (So much Jesus. Skimming through there are some valuable lessons about attachment.)
      -Summer of Salt, by Katrina Leno (Practical Magic done for YA)
      -The Book of Essie, by Meghan MacLean Weir (A glimpse behind the scenes of a televised religious family much like the Duggars. Predictable but enjoyable. Did I get that recommendation here?)

      1. Lemonworld*

        I loved The Outsider! If you like crime fiction with a supernatural twist, you might enjoy James Oswald’s Tony MacLean series. It’s Scottish crime fiction, so as a fan of Ian Rankin, I’ve really enjoyed it extra. Oswald is no Stephen King, of course, but the books I’ve read so far have been satisfying reads.

        The Book of Essie was one of Allison’s recs maybe a month or two ago. I *think* I have it on hold at the library.

    11. Anonymosity*

      I’m reading Bob Woodward’s Fear: [You-Know-Who] in the White House. It’s a slog, not because it’s uninteresting, but because I can only read a little bit at a time before the top of my head blows off. I’m just so annoyed that it even has to exist. And all written down in one place, it just seems so, so much worse.

      I just can’t imagine being Bob Woodward and watching all this happen. He’s probably like, “Holy smokes!”

    12. Minta*

      I just finished Lady Be Good, by Amber Brock. It was fun. The parts set in 1953 Miami were fun to imagine in my head. Next up is Eagle and Crane, by Suzanne Rindell. I also have a biography about Andrew Carnegie on deck.

    13. Tort-ally Harebrained*

      I just finished the 10th book in the Charles Lenox series written by Charles French. Lovely Regency era detective books.

    14. Bluebell*

      I finished The Woman in the Window, and also Robert Crais’ The Wanted. And yesterday I read Retta’s memoir, which was very fun.

    15. NiceOrc*

      I’ve just finished “In the dark spaces” by Cally Black, about a young girl who is a stowaway on a space ship. Her aunt is hiding her, along with her cousin. Then the spaceship is attacked and she is captured by bird-like creatures, and has to convince them not to kill her, and that she can be useful to them, while trying to get back to her baby cousin. Interesting thoughts around whether she is a traitor to humans or just trying to survive.

      Now re-reading the Glamourist Histories series, by Mary Robinette Kowal. The first book is “Shades of milk and honey. A Jane Austen-esque story involving magic, known here as glamour. Very enjoyable!

  13. Indie*

    Hey does anyone have experience of that peculiar type of sexist; the ‘single dad looking for someone to parent his children’? It’s been happening to quite a few people in my world lately but I don’t think I’ve ever seen the phenomenon discussed.
    My sister just got back from a destination wedding where the groom did a complete parenting hand off to the bride ON THE WEDDING DAY never troubling himself with them once (or nominating a baby sitter) and the bride was settling arguments and seeing to them, in spite of the fact they dismiss her as a non-parent. It was troubling because my sister loves her nieces and hates to see their parenting outsourced by a lazy dad.
    It reminded me of a friend a few years back having the same issue. Her partner considered himself an involved dad because he had his child every weekend, but he just filled every day with ‘fun’ activities and then left my friend to do anything sensible or discipline-y because she works with kids. He also wouldn’t get up in the night which was distressing to a young son who had nightmares and wet the bed. She was a vocal feminist but seemed unable to see the sexism in these habits (probably because sleep deprived?).
    When I was online dating I encounteted men who were interested in my ability to parent their kids. I don’t know; is this a thing? You hear mansplaining discussed, and those men who hand off parenting to the child’s actual mother, but no one talks about the guys who expect women who are totally unrelated to the child to be mothers.

    1. London Calling*

      *Her partner considered himself an involved dad because he had his child every weekend, but he just filled every day with ‘fun’ activities and then left my friend to do anything sensible or discipline-y because she works with kids.*

      Otherwise known as a ‘Disney dad.’ Although the bridegroom seems to be just a lazy uninvolved parent full stop. Leavinghis wife do the child-care on their WEDDING DAY??


    2. Sunny Day in the ADK*

      Years ago I was living with a guy that had a kid from a previous relationship. We had his kid every other weekend and I feel like I spent more time watching her than he did. I would take her to the park or go for walks as he sat at home watching tv or chatting with the woman he left me for (haha).

    3. blackcat*

      I haven’t experienced it personally, but it is definitely A. Thing. I mean, it’s even kinda the plot of the sound of music.

      My grandfather did it. Twice.

      It is also a thing for men to expect new wives to coparent with the ex.

      1. ainomiaka*

        I feel like some amount of coparenting with the ex is inherent in dating anyone with a child. The ex is never going to be gone, and new relationship is going to have to see and talk to them, because the kids aren’t about you. I mean, the dude should be taking a large role here, and if you’re talking about the dude never being involved but expecting the two women to work it out that is shi**y. But I feel like signing on to any relationship where there are kids requires some amount of ex coparenting.

        1. fposte*

          Though it can also go too far in the other direction. I see a lot of posts in legal forums from the parent’s new partner, often a very new and unmarried partner, who’s clearly determined they’re going to be a better parent than the ex and take his/her place. Courts *really* don’t like that.

          1. ainomiaka*

            oh for sure. This is absolutely not okay either. Though I’d describe it less as coparenting, given that there doesn’t seem to be an co involved.

        2. blackcat*

          Oh, yes, *some* coparenting, I totally agree.

          I have known 3 cases where the dudes have abdicated ALL of the coparenting. As in, they refuse to speak to their ex, requiring the new woman do EVERYTHING with the ex. That’s just a shit thing to do.

        3. Indie*

          I honestly don’t know how you co parent with a non parent. The non parent shouldn’t directly be doing discipline or making big decisions without going through their partner, the parent. They certainly shouldn’t be negotiating anything with the ex who is a real parent! I know from my school experience it’s common for people to try, but kids resent the hell out of a Johnny come lately telling them what to do. Aside from occasional babysitting and general friendliness to the child and ex, I don’t see that they have any more responsibility than an uncle or aunt.

          1. CBE*

            And I cannot imagine having responsibility for a child living in my home that I couldn’t discipline. Little kids really do need immediate discipline when it comes to safety things. If the stepmom is there with the kids while the dad is at work or away on business, and the kids are setting fire to stuff in the garage, you bet that stepmom should step in and discipline!
            Even if the kid needs to do homework, chores, whatever.
            Being a step parent absolutely is more responsibility than an uncle or aunt!

            1. Indie*

              The rules of a person’s home is a different matter than ‘I am now your parent’. I also don’t mean step parenting of small children where you are primary carers as a couple and are raising/adopting them and I don’t mean you can’t be the responsible adult in the room when something is happening. That’s a different thing from stepping in as a new person into a child’s life and directly becoming a third or a half of their parentage. Particularly if an existing parenting is abdicating to make room. That would make any child uneasy.

          2. Traffic_Spiral*

            “I honestly don’t know how you co parent with a non parent.

            “I’m guessing that 1.) the nonparent wasn’t an affair partner, and 2.) the ex knows that her former-husband is useless as a parent, so if its not the new wife, nothing’s getting done.

    4. Lady Jay*

      Lordy, yes. I tried online dating for a while (taking a break right now, largely due to financial reasons); and it was always an instant turn-off when men were primarily interested in whether I’d get along with their kids. There was one guy, fairly recently widowed, who kept asking about whether I thought I’d his kids, both under 10; I would try turning the conversation back towards him, and he’d pop right back up with a question about his kids.

      I felt like, Dude, it’s a marriage.. This only works if I like *you* first.

      1. ainomiaka*

        I’m honestly really curious where the line is/how to find it. Your position that it only works if you like him first is absolutely reasonable. I also feel like a dad having the strong dealbreaker that knowing that his kids are part of him and a 100% package deal is also reasonable. Have you had anyone bring this up in a way that you thought was good? How did they do it?

        1. Lady Jay*

          Yeah, this is a good question.

          Thinking back, I would have been a lot less turned off if there were an effort on the dad’s part to establish a meaningful relationship with me, at the start of our interactions, with the understanding that I’d meet his kids and get to know them, at least on an acquaintance level, fairly early on. Because there was no real effort to establish a relationship between us, I was skeptical that this would work.

          If you’re more mathematically minded, I think it could be pictured like this: Guy + Kids = okay. Guy – Kids = not okay, but Kids – guy = also not okay.

          The intersecting relationships of “husband/wife” and “father/mother” need to be balanced, in a way that one doesn’t obscure the other.

      2. LilySparrow*

        I think that was a successful screening on both ends. He was putting his dealbreaker right up front. You wanted to get to know him first before considering the kids. He was disclosing that his first commitment was to his kids, and he didn’t want to waste time getting to know anyone who wasn’t willing to accept that up front.

        Screening out a bad fit early is a win.

        1. Close Bracket*

          Sounds to me like his first commitment was to finding someone who would take care of his kids and he didn’t want to waste time on anyone who wasn’t going to take care of his kids.

          1. Lady Jay*

            Yes, this was what it felt like, that he primarily wanted somebody to be a mother to his kids. I didn’t get the sense that he was interested in a wife at all.

            It was a pretty weird interaction.

    5. Middle School Teacher*

      I agree with you. It’s interesting because a lot of single dads I’ve seen online are very clear about “my kids have a mom, I’m not looking to replace her”. Which is great, I guess, but makes me think I’d be going into that relationship with kids (because of course if you develop a relationship with dad, you develop it with the kids) who will be openly rude and defiant and all “I can be horrible to you because you’re not my mom”. As someone who doesn’t want kids, I tend to avoid those guys, I’m sorry to say.

      1. Harvey P. Carr*

        “I’d be going into that relationship with kids (because of course if you develop a relationship with dad, you develop it with the kids) who will be openly rude and defiant and all ‘I can be horrible to you because you’re not my mom’.”

        I don’t like kids, don’t want kids, and would not date a woman who has kids, so this perspective may color my response. But if I was the guy in this situation… no, let me rephrase it… I would think a guy in this situation would make sure to tell the kids something like “No, she isn’t your mother, but I expect you to treat her with the same courtesy and respect that you give your mother, and there will be repercussions if you don’t.”

        The actual wording, and the repercussions, will of course depend on the level of the relationship (dating/committed/engaged/married), but the goal is to make sure the kids know “You’re not my mother” will not be tolerated.

        1. Anonymosity*

          I’ve dated men with kids (lived with one and step-parented his child) and if he had let her treat me like crap, I would have been out of there in a New York minute. Early on, I met her and she liked me. Then I moved in, and it changed the relationship, because not only was I there, I was also feeding her, bathing her, and looking after her when she was at her dad’s (she was three when we met and seven when we broke up).

          The first time I let her know it was time to pick up the toys before dinner and she said “No” to me, he stepped in and told her, “Anonymosity is helping me take care of you and when she tells you to do something, you do it.”

          Step-parenting won’t always be full-on parenting, but the actual parent absolutely has to have your back. And it can also be very rewarding. I lost contact with Kid after we broke up. She’s a young woman now and I have no idea what she’s doing, but I think about her often. We had a lot of fun, and I hope she remembers that time fondly.

      2. Close Bracket*

        So he’s not looking for a replacement mom, he’s looking for a bang-nanny. Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.

    6. Ender*

      One of many many reasons I never seriously considered men with kids. I remember watching that Julia Roberts movie “stepmom” and I was totally confused by it – until I saw that movie it would never have occurred to me that a situation like that would even exist.

      On some of the parenting forums I’ve been on women ask advice about parenting their stepkids and it always seems like the actual father is a lazy useless fecker – which is why they need advice I suppose.

      My advice is always the same – tell him to step up and deal with it. Not your kid so don’t make it your problem. (I’m obviously talking “normal” situations here like dad not playing with or disciplining kids, not something you’d call law enforcement over.

      If I was seeing a guy like this I think I would make myself scarce on weekends his kid comes over. Though why anyone would even find a man attractive if he’s a useless father is a mystery to me too – that’s a pretty core personality trait to overlook.

    7. neverjaunty*

      I don’t think your friend was so much sleep-deprived as not wanting to face the fact that a dude she liked, and who had previously checked off the Woke Dude boxes, went right back to self-serving gender roles when it was convenient for him.

    8. Extra Vitamins*

      Oh yes. Most extreme example: TOTAL STRANGER in the mall tried to hand my sister his toddler to watch while he “just went in this store for a minute.”

      1. Fruit loop*

        Oh, I had that a lot when I worked as a customer service agent for an airline. People would hand me their babies and small children all the time.

        It got so I would say, “No, I will not hold your baby. I will check you in, I will help you tag everything you are bringing with you, I will do everything possible to make this easier for you, but I do not want to hold your child.”

        Mostly, it was because the children would start crying because I was a stranger, or they would immediately start chewing on my work badge and it was always the side with the scanner part I needed to clock in and out at work or at the employee lot.

    9. Lissa*

      Yup! I have been called intolerant, bigoted and other things because when I was single and dating I said I wouldn’t consider men with kids largely because of this. I have seen far too many situations where it starts out fine but sure enough the guy starts expecting his partner to do more and more, and even she sets out saying she won’t, either she does or she’s considered an evil witch who neglects children, and often blamed more than he is even though they are HIS kids.

    10. Quandong*

      Yes, this is definitely a thing, it happened to me in both dating that didn’t progress beyond two dates, and in 2 relationships.

      I’m very accustomed to interacting with children, and in all my experiences I was more confident with the kids than the dads were. This lead to all sorts of outrageous situations where I was treated as though I were the responsible parent or a professional nanny.

    11. Koala dreams*

      Yes, it’s a thing, and yes, people talk about it. Seldomly to the parents involved, I guess because it’s awkward to bring up, but people do notice.
      I’ve been mystified by this system ever since I was a kid, and it was first as an adult when I read a book about 16th century royalty who did this that I understood this phenomenon.
      As a feminist it makes me sad that some people still live in the 16th century, at the same time, if they are happy with those kind of rigid gender roles, who am I to judge?
      However, in the case of the health and well-being of the other family members are sacrificed because it’s more important that Dad gets out of child-care duties, that’s just sad. :(

  14. Merci Dee*

    So excited! My mom’s 77th birthday was Tuesday, so my 3 sisters and I planned a birthday celebration for her today. The four of us girls, plus my daughter and my niece (about 5 months older than my daughter) are taking mom to a local B&B for tea this afternoon. One sister is coming in from out of state, and the other 2 and my niece live about 80 miles away. It’s going to be so much fun! I’ll post updates later.

    Hope everyone is having a great weekend, and that anyone in the path of dangerous weather is staying safe.

    1. Merci Dee*

      Just got back from the tea. We had such a great time! Everyone was excited to see each other spend some time together. My middle sister had not really tried hot tea before, so she got to experiment to see what she liked. Since there were 7 of us, we each got different flavors of tea, and then passed cups around to sample some of each. Most of us got 2 – 3 pots of tea each, with a different flavor each time, so we were able to sample almost 20 flavors in all. My daughter absolutely loved the two flavors she ordered today, so we naturally had to buy a bag of each to bring home.

      We had so much fun that we decided we were going to get together a couple of times a year for tea. This time the location was near my mom, my daughter and me. Next time, we’ll go some place near my oldest and youngest sisters and my niece. After that, we’ll go somewhere close to my middle sister in the next state over. Can’t wait!

      1. Emily*

        That sounds like a blast!

        I was recently at a bachelorette party, and one of the highlights of the weekend (for me, at least) was a very fancy tea. Everyone had their own teapots (with choice of tea), their own foods (including sandwiches, scones, and sweets), and optional champagne cocktails (I had one with creme de violette and it was tasty and felt very fancy).

  15. TV*

    Fellow dry eye sufferers…my eyeballs turned into the Sahara desert back at the beginning of Feburary and nothing seemed to help. My regular doc referred me to a special dry eye doctor in the area and I got the lipiflow treatment done 9 weeks ago. Around week 7 is when I really started to feel it and it just keeps getting better! Does anyone have any experience with lipiflow long term? I understand I will likely need the treatment again in the future but I’m not sure when or what that means.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, I’m really interested to hear this. I’m on Xiidra, which works pretty well for me in preventing my corneal erosions (I’m fortunate in having really good insurance that covers it), but I was curious about lipiflow. Maybe I’ll ask next time I go in.

      1. TV*

        I was on Xiidra and it technically worked, it just didn’t last very long. Lipiflow is an inpatient procedure that was not covered by insurance at all and was $1700 for me. But depending on what the cause is for your dry eye, it might be a good treatment for you.

        1. fposte*

          I’m on Xiidra as maintenance rather than cure, so duration isn’t really an issue. But I’d still love to try Lipiflow–I’ll look around my area.

    2. Amber Rose*

      I have never heard of Lipiflow before, though a quick google says it’s done every 2 years. I’ve been on Restasis for about two months now, and while my eyes are still pretty dry, they’re definitely not as dire as they were.

      Looks like most treatments for dry eye take a long time.

      1. TV*

        It’s definitely a wait and see sort of treatment plan. I’m on restasis and have been for 4 or 5 months and I couldn’t tell one way or the other if it was making a difference. But my doc said to stay on it and continue to do that, the heated eye masks and fish oil pills until our next recheck.

        1. fposte*

          If your insurance is on board for Xiidra, it apparently works much faster than Restasis. But it ain’t cheap if you have to go out of pocket.

          1. TV*

            I tried it and it technically worked, it just worked for about 2 hours after I put the drops in and that was all. I’m very fortunate to have good insurance and my doctors all signed me up for the discount programs through the manufacturer so the most expensive prescription was about $20 for a 30 day supply.

            1. fposte*

              What I was told is that it takes a few weeks for results to kick in, whereas Restasis takes several months; that’s about what I found, and while there’s a baseline of improvement I still definitely notice if I accidentally skip a dose. But Lipiflow sounds better than either to me, tbh.

    3. persimmon*

      For my dry eye, I have:
      -Punctal plugs: these help a lot, I definitely recommend. They work by preventing your tears from being reabsorbed as fast, so your eyes stay wetter. (sorry, gross)
      -Restasis: also very good.
      -Daily hot compresses, just take a warm wet washcloth and hold it to your eyes, and rub gently. This works surprisingly well.
      -I also got Lasik mainly because I was having trouble with contacts. It didn’t make my dry eye worse and not having contacts or even glasses has made my eyes feel less irritated.

      Never tried Lipiflow! My ophthalmologist was pretty dismissive of it but that was a few years ago so maybe things have advanced.

      1. TV*

        My special eye doc office is doing a lot of research on dry eye so they have a lot of data backing it up. It depends on the cause of your dry eye too. I’m pretty young so they think contacts were the culprit. Lipiflow unclog your glands so if that isn’t the problem, it won’t help you much. But my doc thinks that the punctual plugs doesn’t target the cause of dry eye, so they try to do treatments that address causes, not symptoms.

      2. Anonymosity*

        Ugh, my eyes seem to have gotten drier and I’d love to get Lasik. I don’t mind wearing reading glasses but damn I’d love to ditch my contacts and not have to wear regular glasses.

  16. Ruth (UK)*

    I’m having a bit of post-summer blues. I’ve decided to put this on the weekend thread as it’s more about a shift in my hobbies, the weather, darkness, etc than anything work related or time off work (ie. it’s not blues directly related to having been off work), though I do tend to take most of my leave between may and September, typically as Fridays, and sometimes Mondays too (to make long weekends).

    This summer I’ve spent a lot of time outside, a lot of time camping, been to various festivals, craft fairs, etc, some of my friends have got married, and generally a lot’s been going on. I do some hobbies that are seasonal (perform in the summer, practice in the winter) and now I’m just trying to get back into my post-summer routine which feels a bit tough.

    I also lead at a local volunteer project that is similar to, but not directly the same thing as a soup kitchen. While I care deeply about it etc, doing that isn’t in the same category of ‘fun’ as most of what I’ve been doing this summer (and I had taken a couple months’ break from it ending now).

    I’m do tend to struggle with cold weather, and I’m not thrilled about the increasingly dark evenings, especially as my main form of transport is a bike, and I hate cycling in the dark (even though I have adequate lights etc).

    Basically, it’s only September and I’m already trying hopefully to look forward to next spring…

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I make a list of things to do each season that help me feel like I really experienced the season.

      For me, that looks like:

      Winter: Sit in a coffee shop and read while the snow falls outside, go on a candlelight hike (our state parks do this every winter), attend the local winter festival activities, bake Christmas cookies, etc.

      Spring: Eat on a patio, go to the home opener for the local baseball team… aaaaaaand that’s about it (spring lasts, like, two weeks here. We can have two feet of snow in April and it starts getting into the 90s in May).

      Summer: Swim in a lake, watch fireworks, more baseball, etc.

      Fall: Cheer for the local marathon, take a hike by the river while the leaves are turning, carve pumpkins, etc.

    2. Tris Prior*

      Right there with you. It’s still pretty warm here, for Chicago, but it’s starting to get dark around 7 and I hate it so much. I barely have time to deal with the garden after I get home from work and evening walks with Boyfriend are totally out…. I mean, I live in a pretty safe neighborhood so sure, we could walk in the dark, but it’s just not the same. :(

    3. Yorkshire Rose*

      Here, the mosquitoes are making life miserable after 5:30 pm, so I am also making a similar list of fun things to do when it’s dark and cold.

      If you have the funds, I suggest getting a SADD light. Verilux is one of the go-to brands for real, therapeutic sun lamps. I use mine in the morning in the fall/winter as I get ready for work, and it helps keeping me from getting too gloomy. Autumn, however, is my favorite time of year – my body isn’t built for heat!

  17. Hong Kong Traveller*

    Long shot, but has anyone been to Hong Kong recently? I used points to book 9 days there and I’m wondering if this sounds doable:
    Subway from HKG airport to Kowloon, six days exploring.
    Subway to Disneyland, two nights there (they have special offers that include the hotel and admission ticket).
    Ferry to Macau, overnight there, then ferry to Hong Kong airport and fly back to the US.
    Thank you so much in advance.

    1. Dan*

      So… when you say “doable”, what, exactly do you mean? (Pretty much anything is doable, whether or not something is too rushed too be enjoyable is a different matter, and also one of personal preference.)

      1. Technically speaking, you’ll be taking the MTR from HKG to Kowloon. That is definitely doable, if not the preferred way to get into the city from the airport.

      2. Six days isn’t too rushed. (In fact, I’m not sure that six days -anywhere- while staying in the same hotel would be too rushed.)

      3. Donno anything about Disneyland over there. If that’s your jam, then hey. I can’t imagine that one full day (and change) is too much or too little.

      4. Macau: This is the only thing where I have any real “feedback”. (I’m not saying don’t go, just know what you’re in for.) The only real similarity between Macau and Las Vegas is that there is gambling in Macau. The non-gaming activities in Macau are pretty much nothing compared to Vegas. Second, table minimums there are ridiculous – think $20-$30 USD per hand.

      For a one night stay, what I *wouldn’t* do is stay on the Cotai strip. (Unfortunately, if you’re staying on points, you’re likely staying on the strip.) I’d be more inclined to stay in the more central part of Macau, which is sort of the “off strip” equivalent.

      Have you checked the ferry schedules between the airport and Macau? Note that there are two different operators; one runs to the Cotai Strip, the other runs to the Outer Ferry Terminal in Macau proper. Cabs aren’t cheap, so you’ll spend a bunch of money shuttling yourself around if you stay on the Strip and want to go into the city, or vv. Also, ferry schedules are rather limited from the airport to Macau — they are very frequent from either Kowloon or Hong Kong Island to Macau and vv, but not from Macau to the airport. Depending on what time you’re departing for the US, this can be an issue.

      The ferries between Hong Kong and Macau run frequent and all night long, I’d consider making a day trip from Hong Kong to Macau instead. Unless you have a flight departing after noon, unless you’re particularly lucky with the schedules, you’re going to find that your return day is going to be very inconvenient and waste a lot of time sitting around for logistical reasons. Least you say, “oh but the night life I will miss!” Again, the ferries run 24/7 and besides, the nightlife isn’t anything to speak of. It ain’t Vegas. As noted above with the high table mins, the Chinese go to Macau to *gamble*, they don’t go for “entertainment.”

      All in all though, sounds like fun. If you’re flying over from the US just for this trip, I think it’s a *little* short for a vacation, unless you handle jet lag well.

  18. Lora*

    Surreal moment of the week: I drive past the Andover and Lawrence MA area every day, and saw the gas explosions when they first happened and also the day after, from the highway. It looked like one of those old photos of Victorian London where you can’t see the sun for all the smog.

    Each home was supposed to have a gas regulator and a backup coming off the pipeline; the gas regulators cost about $100. The descriptions of what people whose houses caught on fire experienced definitely makes it sound like the company didn’t install the regulators properly, didn’t install backups, didn’t maintain them, etc. There should also have been PRVs installed to ensure that if the system did overpressurize it vents somewhere safely. It also sounds like the gas company didn’t follow basic safety procedure for working with hazardous gases while doing plumbing work (check pressure first with a small manual relief valve, if line is pressurized shut off an upstream valve and vent the sections individually in controlled bursts outside of a confined space, use multigas sniffers constantly).

    Hope everyone who was injured recovers fully and quickly. And I hope that utilities are held accountable, and that we learn from this experience the importance of investing and maintaining infrastructure.

    1. WellRed*

      I am surprised more people weren’t killed. As to the gas company, someone’s going to be in a lot of trouble.

      1. roisin54*

        I’m surprised too, when I first heard about this I was expecting a much higher death toll.

        I’m sure there are going to be fines and lawsuits aplenty with this, and I wouldn’t be shocked if the gas company files for bankruptcy at some point. Their President is just coming off so tone-deaf and clueless. Eversource is a pain (for many reasons) but I can see why Baker out them in charge of fixing it all. The other people clearly have no clue what they’re doing.

    2. kerlin*

      Most of my family is in that area. I have cousins that evacuated from Andover, and my parents are close enough that my father said he could hear nothing but sirens for hours going up 93. Totally, utterly surreal and insane.

      Interesting to read your evaluation of the safety measures, and the more and more I read in the news it sounds like the gas company just massively screwed this up – both in the work they did AND the PR afterwards.

      1. fposte*

        And speaking of the economic impact of evacuation: it sounds like it might be weeks(!) until some evacuees are allowed back in. I really doubt the gas company is going to fork over the full costs for people’s expenses for that duration.

        1. blackcat*

          At least one impacted person I know is getting the money for a hotel in the mean time from their homeowners insurance company. Sounds like the insurance co plans to sue the utility to recoup the cost.

          1. fposte*

            I hope other insurance cos. follow suit–it’s a gamble for the company, admittedly, but it’s the best case for the homeowner. Though renters might have a harder time (and of course renters don’t always have insurance).

    3. blackcat*

      I am also in MA and am incredibly grateful that my entire street got new gas lines, new meters, etc recently.
      But I am also not pleased that it took a BAD gas leak on the street for them to do it. The responding employees at the time rather alarmed because gas line under the road was original and almost all of us still had the original lines into the homes.
      Original as in 1892. Date was printed on the pipes.

      But it sounds like this case was a combination of inadequate maintenance of infrastructure combined with something else hinky going on. Whether it was incompetence or hacking, someone somewhere set the pressure in the mains to be way too high.

      1. Lora*

        Yeah, that’s what I mean about, they’re supposed to have PRVs installed that vent somewhere safe if it over pressurizes. I work with a lot of pressurized gas and steam systems, and the worst thing that happens if someone overpressurizes a line is, you hear a loud POP and there’s an alarm beeping and stuff venting either from the roof or the facility “backyard” where no people are. For a flammable gas that can be large volume, they sometimes put safety flares on top of a stack off the PRV, so the gas can be safely combusted, but in any case there are supposed to be Fail Closed valves to shut off the source as soon as an overpressure critical alarm goes off. There were a lot of failures that must have happened for it to be this bad.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          And the vents are supposed to be dumb–no electronics, no internet connection, valve pops open under a certain pressure.

          1. Lora*

            Yup, mechanical only and all sensor alarms hardwired. Not to say you can’t have DCS at all, but you have to have the hardware too, so it makes more sense for the DCS to be monitor only at those points.

    4. LCL*

      Thanks, I’ve been looking for a technical explanation. I work in utilities but not natural gas and don’t know anything about it. I have been following the news closely. Those poor people.

    5. Mimmy*

      What a horrible situation. My oldest sister lives in the Boston area, so when the news first broke, I was really nervous. However, she does not live in the affected areas. I still texted her just to be sure she was safe – have not heard back.

      I’ll be REALLY interested to find out the cause. Hoping for some serious accountability. About 8,500 people were affected, I believe.

  19. Dainty Lady*

    What a wonderful picture of Eve! (Or Lucy?)

    Partnered people, how do you work peacefully and productively with your partner on home projects? As you might remember, we had to have major work done on our pool recently, and it was, as *all* home projects are for us, a source of huge disagreement and stress. Basically, I am too tolerant of service providers and my husband is too fussy, and then we butt heads. I won’t say more than that, just asking for strategies for dividing up responsibilities, making decisions, etc.

    1. kerlin*

      I wish I had advice. It always ends up just being me doing it. Which increases the resentment on my part for doing all the work…but it does avoid butting heads bout communication with the contractors. So maybe if you each agree to take on a project wholly, so that you can manage it in your way, as long as you’re overall splitting things?

    2. LilySparrow*

      We divide up responsibility based on our knowledge/skill set, and how strong our preferences are. So in the planning stages, we talk about not just the goal, but the range of possible changes and outcomes that would be acceptable or deal breakers.

      He knows more about building stuff, drainage, etc, and has pretty strong opinions on design. He’s in charge of setting priority order on what might need to happen urgently to protect against damage, what stage needs to be done to allow for long-term plans, what solutions are appropriate for our given circumstances, and so forth. He’s better at talking to vendors in person, because he knows all the technical terms (and because then I don’t have to be infuriated by sexist condescension).

      I am the Keeper of the Budget and the Maker of Phone Calls, because I’m just better at those things. I have strong opinions on color, style, textures, and plants. I am in charge of crafting, reviewing, or delivering any official or binding statements (like “Yes we accept this proposal” or “this is wrong, here is what you will do to fix it”), because I am okay with having people dislike me, if need be.

      We just take a lot of time to hash things out before we start, and then check in a lot when changes happen.

      However, we have a couple of normal operating expectations in our relationship: 1) we are a team, and nothing outside our relationship is more important than that. 2) If one really cares about a detail and the other could go either way, the stronger opinion prevails.
      3) If one of us really wants something that the other doesn’t think is important, the one who wants it has to do the work to make it happen.
      4) If we can’t agree, we hold off.

      1. Melody Pond*

        You guys sound like you have a really nice balance worked out! What you’ve described is basically what Mr. Pond and I strive for, but it sounds like you guys pull it off even better than we do. :)

    3. Not So NewReader*

      No one thing works in every situation. We used humor sometimes. Sometimes we would just defer to the other one, especially if the other one had more knowledge or experience. Sometimes one of us was in charge and the other one walked away for Reasons. (No anger, just a bottom line of practicality.) Some situations can be solved by sorting out the reasons why. “Why do you want X not Y?” In following the rationale behind the choice it becomes very apparent that X is indeed the better choice, it’s not whim.
      Take breaks between projects. Get extra rest during projects, when you feel yourselves getting cranky, call it a day. Start up again, the next day or next weekend, whatever. Watch out for crankiness that is just plain lack of rest.
      Acknowledge that it IS stressful because you both want to get it right and there are a lot of choices out there and a lot of conflicting information.

    4. Red Reader*

      I am married, though in our case it’s a little different because I own the house solo, I owned it before we got married, and my husband actually pays me the same rent that our housemates do because our finances are completely separate aside from one savings account that we use for vacations. But for projects that involve service providers, I handle it all solo (partly because it’s my house and partly because I’m the one who’s around, I work from home so I’m always here). For projects that involve DIY, he’s the one who’s more likely to be actually doing the work, so we decide what we want to be the end result, he tells me what supplies he needs, I buy them, and then I get out of the way while he does it. Basically I do the financial and outside-people-management portions, he does the physical labor portions.

      1. Dainty Lady*

        IKR??!! We have an ant infestation now and I think I’d rather let them carry the house away than struggle through dealing with it with my husband, dearly as I love him!

    5. Old Biddy*

      I’ve only been married two years/living with my husband 4 years but owned my house when I met him, so I still arrange stuff like tree removal and sealing the driveway.
      When we work on something together he can get on my nerves. I like it when we work on separate aspects of the same project, so that I can focus on what I’m doing. (I’m a scientist and am used to being hyperfocused on whatever I’m working on.) He likes to talk, which is fine normally but disrupts my focus. I try to use my words and tell him to call me when he needs an extra pair of hands but not expect me to hang around chatting in between.

    6. the gold digger*

      No advice. I have threatened divorce every single time we have worked on a home project together.

      Wait. I do have advice. Do not remove the old stove and microwave and put in the new ones together.

      Or upack meat into the chest freezer together.

      Or make the bed together.

      1. Wishing You Well*

        Even though I love my guy – doing a project together? No, just no. Any home project has to be just him or hire it done. Anything else would involve a chalk outline and a homicide charge!

      2. Blue_eyes*

        Haha. Glad to know we’re not the only ones who argue while making the bed. I don’t know why, but it almost always starts an argument. And vacuuming. Our cordless vacuum has been a huge relationship-saver.

      3. Arjay*

        I love this line Captain Awkward uses a lot, though I’m not sure of its origins. “Sometimes the cheapest way to pay for things is with money.” It often applies to asking friends or family for favors that come with a bunch of strings attached, but can be used on household projects too. If we’re going to fight, if neither of us is particularly skilled at the thing, if it’s going to take us a month to do what a professional can get done in three hours, let’s please hire someone. :)

  20. Be the Change*

    Love of the week?

    Mine’s trains! I don’t get to take them often because sadly my area has pathetically sparse train service, but when I do it’s always so fun and convenient.

    1. Earthwalker*

      Libby – a smartphone app that connects to your own public library and lets you borrow ebooks and audiobooks straight to your phone once you input your library card number. I had a long drive last week and took a library audiobook that I downloaded the night before to lighten the trip.

  21. Solo Disney*

    So I’m a woman considering a solo trip to Disney in Orlando, in April/May 2019. Has anyone else ever done this? I’m based in the UK so it’s a pretty long journey.

    Things I’m worried about (and possible solutions):
    – Generally being alone. Will the magic be dulled if I don’t have anyone to share it with? Will I be safe?
    – Dining alone. I suppose I could take my Kindle or use that time to Facetime with family?
    – Travelling. I would try to find a hotel with free shuttles, but would I be safe using something like Uber?
    – I have a disability (CFS) so I’m worried about getting around the parks. I guess I could hire a mobility scooter?

    Things that I think are pros:
    – Single rider lines! I can probably get much more done in a day than I would with a group.
    – I can do what I want, when I want to. When I went with a group it felt like I was always waiting around for someone to smoke or use the restroom.
    – I don’t have to worry about pleasing others and I will make all the choices.

    I would love to hear from anyone who has done similar, or any tips or input anybody might have at all. Thanks!

    1. Merci Dee*

      If you stay at a hotel on-property, you’ll have access to buses that run on a regular 30-minute schedule. And they’ve got some great hotels in the budget, mid-range, and high-end price ranges depending on your budget.

      Disney is very accessible, and has some mobility options. A good friend often visits with her elderly mother, and they have gotten scooters several times when her mom starts to tire. You’ll be covered there.

      And Disney is total magic, whether you’re alone or in a group. They go out of their way to make trips memorable for their guests. If you stay on-premise, tell the desk staff when you check in that you’re traveling alone from out of the country, and ask for some recommendations for things to do. They’ll give you great ideas, and maybe even a few surprises!

    2. Elkay*

      Stay onsite in a Disney hotel, it’s expensive but 100% worth it. You can get their transport for free to and from the airport and they provide transport to, from and between the parks for free. I can’t remember if any rides at Disney have single rider lines, I know Universal do. The key to getting on rides at Disney is FastPass and staying onsite lets you book those earlier than people staying off-site.

      Disney is awesome and if you’re happy travelling alone elsewhere you’ll be fine there.

        1. roisin54*

          Expedition: Everest in Animal Kingdom and the Aerosmith Rock N Roller Coaster at Hollywood Studios also have single rider lines. I got to go on the Aerosmith ride many times thanks to the single rider line, it’s awesome.

          Definitely stay on site. Not only for the free shuttles, but for the food. Each of the hotels has their own food service area whether it’s a full-on restaurant or a quick-bite cafeteria set-up or both. It saves a lot of time in the morning with breakfast if you’re not doing character breakfasts. The character breakfasts are also good because, depending on when they are, you can sometimes get into the parks before they open and head to the rides when you’re done eating.

    3. Reba*

      Not related to Disney, but times when I’ve traveled alone I have sometimes met others in the same boat and shared some of the activities with them. I’ve been lucky I guess in that these folks have seemed to have a similar idea of how much time to spend together (for example, we shared rides to sites but then did our own thing for a couple hours when we got there). I would not have thought that I would enjoy that, but it actually was fun. So you might find that you get enough human contact via friendly strangers.

      I love traveling alone, and love reading in restaurants!

    4. Max Kitty*

      I’ve done a few trips by myself. I would not hesitate to go to Walt Disney World by myself. I would stay on property and would use Disney’s Magical Express to get to the hotel and then use Disney transport around the resort area. (My personal preference is not to use Uber or taxis by myself. I wouldn’t say they are unsafe, but is my preference.) Plus people staying on property get perks (like the ability to make Fastpass reservations for rides 60 days in advance). If the Disney resorts are out of your price range, you can also take a look at the hotels that are in the Disney Springs area.

      For meals, I just bring a book or Kindle. I would not recommend using FaceTime during dinner because that would be distracting to other diners.

      A lot of the walking around Disney is outside of the parks, so if you need a mobility scooter you may want to consider renting one for the length of your stay.

    5. Forking great username*

      I believe the Disboards website has an entire section just for people traveling to the parks alone – they ask questions, give advice, and sometimes even plan meet ups. You might want to check it out.

    6. CBE*

      I’m not a Disney fan at all, but I have done quite a bit of traveling alone. I had many similar concerns before my first solo trip and have found that I actually LIKE being alone, even for meals. Sometimes I read, sometimes I people watch. And sometimes I eavesdrop on people having loud dramatic conversations. (GASP!) I’ve used shuttle services, Uber, taxis and public transportation all over different cities and (so far) have never felt unsafe.
      Enjoy your trip!

    7. Red Reader*

      I am a mid-30s female Disneyworld annual passholder and go about four times a year, at least three of which are solo. I just got back on Thursday from a six-day trip, actually. I have never had any safety concerns at all.
      Being alone: I personally don’t find any problems with being there solo, but I like being solo, so really the question is, do you mind vacationing solo in general?
      Dining alone: I read 13 books on this trip I just got back from, between standing in lines and dining alone, haha.
      Traveling: Stay on Disney property. Someone else pointed out that it’s expensive, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be — I almost always stay at one of the three All-Star resorts, which tend to average about $110-120/night for a stay that covers a weekend. That’s not terrible for a vacation hotel anyway, then you take into consideration: If you stay at a Disney resort, your transportation to and from the airport (which is about a 40 minute trip) is included for free. They have transportation all over the Disney properties, from your resort to all four parks, to Disney Springs (which is a shopping/dining/entertainment complex), all free and included. When you’re wandering around the parks, your souvenir shopping can be packed up and sent back to your resort for you to pick up the next day so you don’t have to carry it around with you. Every day, one of the four parks either opens early or stays open late for Disney resort guests only.
      Disability: I don’t have any personal experience with that one, but my mom has rented mobility scooters at the parks on a one-day basis and there are several companies in Orlando that do longer-term rentals (as in, multiple days – if you rent it from the park, you can only use it in that park for that day, if you switch to a different park you return it and present your receipt at the next park’s scooter stand to get a scooter for that park) and deliver them to your hotel for you and pick them up at the end of your stay. Cheaper than a day-by-day, if you want it for multiple days, but you have to handle the overnight charging and whatnot. The Disney transportation does have the ability to transport with scooters, but again, I don’t know how convenient that is.

      Single rider lines: the only rides at Disney that have single rider lines are Expedition Everest and Kali River Rapids at Animal Kingdom and Test Track at Epcot, if I recall correctly. Disneyworld does fast passes instead, which is still pretty quick, but has some limitations. Their My Disney Experience app for smartphones is SUPER handy for trip planning.

      Happy to answer any other questions!

    8. Solo Disney*

      Apologies, just to add that I would also like to visit Universal Studios and IoA as well as the Disney parks. All of the replies so far have been really helpful, so thank you!

    9. Orphan Brown*

      Look into the disability access pass which would bypass actually having to stand in a line, though you still wait the same amount of time as others do, and return at a designated time. This allows you to wait for rides while eating, resting on a bench, etc.

    10. Cambridge Comma*

      Why don’t you try, in the next couple of weeks, going out for dinner alone somewhere a bit formal, going to the pub alone (I used to do the crossword), going to the pictures or the theatre alone? That might give you an idea of how you would feel about dining alone.

    11. Dr. Anonymous*

      See if the Unofficial Guide to Disney World is still published–lots of info about saving time and money and maximizing your fun at the park.

    12. HappySnoopy*

      Probably not adding much but there’s a lot of subparks in wdw. Magic kingdom, epcot, animal kingdom, etc are all seperate. Each could be a full day. The resort hotels have transport to any and all of them, and may be something to consider in coordinating a mobility scooter.

      Have fun!

    13. Jayne*

      Just wanted to chime in and say that Disney’s disability services are wonderful. One of my in-laws is disabled, and we all have annual passes so Disney trips are frequent. They are so, so accommodating.

      Don’t be afraid to call Disney directly! Their agents are great and will help with any questions you have, and will help you make all the reservations you need.

      Have a Magical trip!

    14. Amtelope*

      Disney is well lit and crowded and generally very safe. Take normal precautions against theft in big crowds (keep an eye on your purse, don’t shove cash in a back pocket) and you’ll be fine. If you can afford to stay in the park, it will make getting around easier — most hotels around the park run shuttles, but they’re not as fast/convenient as hopping on park transportation whenever you want. Also, a full day at a park can be tiring even for people without disabilities, and if you’re staying in the park, it’s easier to go back to your hotel mid-day to rest for a while before heading back out.

    15. ronda*

      rick steves program 533 has a segment on traveling solo, a couple of tips come up and it was a nice interview segment. (you can listen to it on his website)
      Segment was with an author of a book on the subject, Stephanie Rosenbloom, author of “Alone Time”
      and rick steves also does quite a bit of solo travel.

      If you are wanting to do the universal parks, switching to their hotel for the days you want to do those parks might be a good option. They do a boat ride for transport from hotel to parks and also had some fast pass type benefits for staying onsite. (I went a long time ago, so might not have exactly the set-up) Universal is much more rollercoaster than disney. And if you have time and want to go crazy Busch Gardens Williamsburg is the prettiest amusment park I have every been to. It is not nearby tho (2 hour flight or 12 hour drive). And the most rollercoaster one is Cedar Point (even further away, in Ohio, 2.5 hour flight + 1.5 hour drive or 16 hour drive)

    16. NiceOrc*

      Jen from the blog epbot.com is a big fan of Disney, and has a lot of good advice. Hope you have a great time!

    17. Arjay*

      This site has a ton of great information, including how to get high scores on the Men in Black ride! https://orlandoinformer.com/

      For Universal Orlando, if you want to ride the Hogwart’s Express from park to park, you have to have a two-park ticket. The Universal resorts are beautiful but pricey, but they do include an unlimited express pass for all the ride attractions at both parks, including your check in and check out days. So if you only stay one night, you can check in early on the first day, leave your luggage, get your express pass and head to one of the parks on provided transportation. Your room will be ready late in the afternoon for you to stay over. Then you check out of the room in the morning, leave your luggage, and your express pass is valid for that whole day too.

      We live close enough that we sometimes go for the weekend, only paying the hotel rate for Saturday night and enjoying both days at the park and CityWalk on Saturday night.

  22. rogue axolotl*

    I have a question for all the crafters out there about the ethics of profiting from crafts based on trademarked characters. Do you do it? Why or why not? Does the size of the company that owns the characters make a difference to you? What about the size of your crafting business? It’s just something I’ve been mulling over lately, since I used to be fairly ignorant about how trademark law works, but it seems very common in crafting circles.

    1. LilySparrow*

      Well, if you’re making a copy or an unauthorized derivative work, it’s a violation of their intellectual property. You might get away with it if they don’t notice or don’t have the resources to pursue it, but you are diluting their trademark. Over time, you’re undermining their ability to make money off their own work, because a trademark that degenerates into common use loses legal protection.

      I think that’s a crappy thing for one artist to do to another. Even if a large company owns the TM, they pay artists for their work, so killing those trademarks kills artists’ jobs.

      Now, if it’s a more generic product, like a pattern that could be used for multiple looks in cosplay, I think that’s different. It’s more like a recipe.

      So, for example, selling “Jayne’s Cunning Hat” = no. Selling a knitting pattern for an earflap hat, with recommendations on how to make it look like a Sherlock deerstalker, or a Christoph hat, or a Jayne hat – I think that’s generic enough to be okay.

      1. rogue axolotl*

        Thanks for your thoughts! I think what I had in mind are creative interpretations of the work–say a painting in your own style that includes a character, or something along those lines. In my mind I always kind of drew a line between unlicensed products that are just meant to make a profit off someone else’s work, and someone’s own creative work that is inspired by/incorporates elements of existing creative properties. I realize that’s not how the law sees it, though.

        1. LilySparrow*

          But piggybacking off the popularity of an existing creative property IS exploiting someone else’s work for your own profit.

          Why are their properties more popular than yours? Because somebody did a crap-ton of work coming up with it, refining it, getting it produced in mass media, and marketing it.

          That is all the labor of people, whose ideas and effort deserve to be respected and rewarded. Making the market is as much or more work as making the art.

          I’m a writer as well as a crafter. I know how much work it is to write a 100k word novel. But if I wrote a Harry Potter novel, my effort would not outweigh the effort Rowling put into her creation, and getting it published. My effort or “inspiration” gives me zero moral rights to the value she earned.

          If you want to ethically paint fan art, give it away. I actually follow a painter who does portraits of characters from an older (but still in-copyright) book series that was adapted for TV. She doesn’t sell these images, but she does post them on social media. Some of the individuals involved, who would have the right to shut it down, have given tacit approval by liking and sharing the posts.

          She sells her own original work, but the fan art does drive a lot of traffic to her gallery. There’s no ethical problem there, but if the rightful owners changed their minds overnight and and shut it down, she’d just have to deal with it.

          OTOH, you can sell all the Jane Austen, Sherlock Holmes, or Rapunzel fan art you want — as long as it’s based off the original source material, not someone else’s popular adaptation.

          The other thing you can do (which as a creative, I recommend) is to take that inspiration and go deeper. Don’t settle for the obvious image and use the existing character as shorthand for what you really mean. Extrapolate it to the essence of victory, or courage, or loneliness, or romance, or whatever that character is inspiring in you. That’s going to take you to universal places that touch people in your own unique way.

      2. Hellanon*

        Yes, it’s not so much a question of ethics as a question of illegal. For companies, if they don’t take steps to protect those trademarks they can lose them, and so the legal departments do keep an eye on any of that kind of activity – even fanvids on Youtube will get takedown orders if, for example, they are using music they don’t have permissions for.

    2. Amadeo*

      I theme my geeky stuff. On the whole, I try to be kinda nebulous, but if someone wanted to make a case about it, they’d have no problem doing it. I’ll do commissions with more blatant things (someone just commissioned a cup with the Cowboys star and the Braves A) but won’t even post photos of those to my Facebook page.

      Ultimately, no, it’s really not something any crafter should be doing, but it happens anyway.

      1. jolene*

        Thanks, posters protecting others’ intellectual property. I remember a discussion on here a while ago where someone asked about getting books for free (ones still in copyright) and I was appalled by how many people here seemed okay with pirating them.

      1. Wishing You Well*

        I’ve been repeatedly told: nothing is out of copyright due to time passing. Legally and ethically, it’s a thorny problem. Crafting has some unique copyright law interpretations. Your best move is to find a legal authority on crafting copyrights and be educated before proceeding.
        Best of Luck.

        1. LilySparrow*

          Do you mean never assume something is automatically out of copyright, and you should always check? I agree.

          But public domain is a real thing, many works are in it, and works do pass into it eventually (though not all on the same time frame).

    3. Alice*

      I am more open than the others who have replied.
      If your work is a straightforward derivative one, then sure, be ready to take it down, and don’t sell it.
      But if your work is a parody or criticism of the original, or if it’s highly transformative, it may well be legal to profit from it.

  23. going anon for this one*

    I’m not really looking for advice, so much as an anonymous place to vent.

    About four years ago, I hooked up with a male friend (MF) I had known in college. We were both a bit drunk and lonely (and I was dealing with my own separate sexuality issues), but everything was entirely consensual. To use the best comparison, MF is like Ted Mosby. He non-stop complains when he’s not in a relationship, is incredibly emotionally needy, and is sometimes the worst, and all he wants out of life is to get married.

    We attempted to hook up a second time, but during this second time, after foreplay MF said he didn’t want to use a condom because they were uncomfortable. I have little patience for men who complain about how condoms are uncomfortable, for a variety of reasons. I told MF that I didn’t want to get pregnant, so we’d be using a condom or stopping. He kept complaining about how he didn’t like the feel of condoms and then said we could deal with any “accidents” that happened together. I told him to get out of my apartment.

    Fast forward a year. I haven’t talked to MF since then, and we’re both at a bar for another friend’s engagement party. By the end of the night, a small group of us left together. On the way to the subway, a few other women mentioned needing the bathroom before getting on the subway or catching a cab, so I offered my nearby apartment. MF was among this group. After everyone in the small group left, I didn’t realize MF had stayed behind. He sat on my couch and wouldn’t leave for 45 minutes, insisting the entire time that because I was single and we had slept together before, MF could just spend the night in my bed instead of going all the way back to his apartment while he was drunk. I kept telling him no, that I wasn’t interested, and telling him he needed to leave my apartment. He kept insisting he was going to stay. I was terrified and ready to call the police when he finally left.

    It’s been two years and I haven’t seen or talk to MF since. I just received a save the date to his wedding. I’m livid. Our mutual female friends know what happened and half of them are on my side and said that MF was sketchy and they don’t want to deal with him, but the other half said while they understand why I’m angry and won’t be going to the wedding, they’re excited because ~it’s a wedding~.

    I know that both situations I was in could have easily escalated to assault (because forcing a woman to have unprotected sex is assault, I will fight anyone who disagrees), and I’m lucky they didn’t. I’m lucky that he left each time without anything happening. But I know MF most likely does not think he did anything wrong. MF thinks he’s a feminist, but these two actions prove he really isn’t because they’re slimy and awful.

    I hate feeling like I should be guilty because I’m angry these actions had such an impact on my life, but he clearly never thought twice about them. I’m not of the wind to ruin anyone’s wedding because of it, but it’s also making me feel like shit that some female friends think I’m overreacting and should be happy he’d getting what he always wanted in his upcoming marriage.

    Again, not really looking for advice on how to handle this. I’ve burnt the save the date (drastic, but it made me feel better), and angrily ranted to people who will listen, and I intend to continue keeping MF out of my life, but I guess I’m more upset that these type of situations still happen and that some people don’t think there’s anything wrong with it because “nothing happened”.

      1. AnonGD*

        Yep– I was going to say that ^

        If ANY of my female friends implied I should get over a situation like that they might still be a friend but they’d be out of my “inner circle” so to speak. I’d be really reserved when it came to sharing anything deeply personal with them since they don’t seem to respect your feelings.

      2. going anon for this one*

        Yeah, I’m grateful for the ones who are on my side completely. While I don’t think anything less of the friends who still want to go to MF’s wedding, it is a bit upsetting that they’re so excited about wedding talk and try to brush off my concerns (I brought up my reasons for not wanting to go to the wedding or hear about it/MF only once in a group text, so it’s not like I’m constantly harping on it).

    1. Lora*

      He sounds generally douchey. Hope his fiancee knows what she’s getting into, at least.

      Having had many male friends attempt to explain to me the male psyche, yeah, he probably doesn’t think he’s an a-hole, but…most a-holes don’t think they are.

      I’m confused why your female friends are so concerned that you should feel any kinda way about him? He didn’t give a rat’s bottom about your feelings for even 15 whole minutes in a row, why does he remotely deserve your consideration about anything?

      Also, as an Old, trust when I say that weddings quickly become more of a pain in the rear than a special event for anyone other than immediate family. You go through a stage where there’s more weddings than you can afford to send a gift for, a stage where there’s more baby showers than you can afford to send a gift for, and then a stage where everyone is getting divorced and it’s a new awkward conversation over beer every month. Then you get to be my age and go to funerals a few times a year…

      1. Lissa*

        Your third paragraph, yes! That puts into words my main thoughts about this. Why are people so invested in you being OK with this guy who isn’t even in your life anymore? You’re not negatively affecting his life in any way by just staying far away and telling people what happened. You’re not emailing his fiancee with dire messages about him. You’re not trying to get him fired. You just…don’t want to be around an asshole.

        Even if other people hear the story and don’t agree he’s an ass/dangerous/whatever, the fact that they are SO invested that you feel the same way says a lot.

        1. Lora*

          I know, right? Like 2/3 of the invitees to any given wedding are going to be busy digging outhouse pits in Overseas Country, washing their nose hair collection, having terrible diarrhea, testifying before Congress…what the heck difference does it make? You lost the invite in a pile of Fingerhut catalogs and Amazon padded envelopes, you thought it was a communication from the devil and had it exorcised, you were out of toilet paper and were desperate (see: diarrhea). It doesn’t matter to anyone really. Other people will go to the wedding and eat bad cake, it’s one less overpriced chicken / baked potato / defrosted veggie mix and iceberg lettuce salad with weirdly grainy tomato slice for them to buy. It’s not a big deal. Bless their hearts. I just don’t get it why they care.

      2. going anon for this one*

        I’m at the point where it’s the second baby stage, so I’m at the end of the wedding stage which is why I think people in my friend group are excited that there’s finally a wedding again. Not that it excuses it, but before I had even said anything about my feelings, people were definitely in the “yay I’m excited for a wedding!” mindset.

    2. Anonymous Ampersand*

      ” and then said we could deal with any “accidents” that happened together.”


      ALso your friends that don’t get it need to grow the fuck up

      1. Gaia*

        Yea I lost it at that line. We’ll deal with it? WE? Pretty sure it is the woman that will deal with it.

        I don’t even know him and I want to smack him in his head.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I guess we have a ways to go as a society that people don’t understand what is wrong here. Sigh.

      FWIW, I would not want someone attending my wedding because “It’s a wedding.” I’d want them to come because of their caring/fondness for me and my intended person. Your friends sound like any old wedding will do and they are willing to show up regardless. It’s kind of a shallow read on what a wedding is. I agree that you have learned bunches about some of your friends.

    4. Anonymous Ampersand*

      Also you’ve not spoken in two years and he’s still asking you to save the date for his WEDDING? Honestly I think he’s deliberately skeevy right now.

      1. Reba*

        Yes, it’s astonishing that he seems to think that after those incidents, y’all are still friends. To me it reads like the whole thing is a “friend group” dynamic problem. The Creep has invited the whole group. Some people in the group are downplaying the Creep’s actions in the interest of preserving the apparent harmony of the group. They want the incidents to be “not that bad” because they don’t want the uncomfortable experience of having to choose sides among members of the group.

    5. LilySparrow*

      I think burning the save-the-date was an entirely healthy and appropriate way to deal with this.

      He is a jerk and skeevy, and your friends should STFU about the wedding talk around you.

    6. Bless The Broken Road*

      I 100% agree with you on never seeing MF again for the near assaults he pulled on you; you have my full support to tell this guy to go to hell.

      I will say in terms of your friends who are attending the wedding, a lot of past drama seems to be downplayed in favor of getting along for the sake of the big day. I was involved in two wedding (bridesmaid in both cases) where there was bad history between one of the bridal party and a guest. In one case, the two kept apart the entire night, and there was no issue. In the other case, the bridesmaid approached the guest just to say hello, freaked him out, and he took his wife and left immediately. The bride and groom were annoyed that they took off without a text message of explanation, or an apology later. It was a grudge they carried for a while.

      I don’t think it’s right, but there seems to be a belief that personal business should be kept underwraps at a wedding for the sake of the couple, so that may be where your friends are coming from. I don’t agree with it but it seems to be a common wedding mindset.

    7. Hannah*

      You’re not wrong. You have every right to think this guy is an asshole and that what you experienced could have ended in assault.

      I would definitely be rethinking my friendship with anyone who told me that my reaction was an “overreaction.”

    8. Kuododi*

      You’ve mentioned quite a bit in this thread about things you “should” do or feel regarding that ghastly drawn-out train wreck you were forced to deal with. Speaking bluntly for a moment….the only things anyone of us “should” do in life is die and pay taxes. (Not necessarily in that order!!!). ;).
      For future reference, I am a huge fan of the “punch them in the throat” rule of coping with a******s like you experienced. Just a suggestion…. fingers crossed you never find yourself in need of that option. Best regards!!!

      1. Kuododi*

        Oh… woops!!!! My apologies. I glanced through your original post too quickly and missed the part about not wanting suggestion on how to deal. Above all else… please know I am completely sympathetic…and enraged not only about Mr “Feminist” but additionally and probably more furious about all of those women friends who left you between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. Sometimes I despair for my own gender. :(. Again, my true and sincere apologies. Grace and peace…

    9. Ehhhh*

      He is wrong.

      You are not wrong.

      Eff your “friends” who want to excuse his repeated behavior.

      (And if you’ve never filled up a condom like a water ballon, do. As my mother told me, “if a guy tells you he’s too big for a condom, he’s too big for you.” Irrelevant, in that “no” is enough. But humorous).

  24. WellRed*

    Going to a celebration of life today for my friend’s mom. She was an enormous influence in my life. I think we are planting a tree. BBQ and lots of wine. Sad, but looking forward to seeing some wonderful people who flew in from parts south and west.

    1. Reba*

      I hope it was a good service. I also had a similar experience recently–the mixed feelings of being happy to see people for a sad reason.

  25. matcha123*

    Are there some dating “norms” that I should know about? Especially when it comes to friends?
    I noticed that recently a male friend, who I’ve never met in real life, seems to have no interest in replying to anything I’ve posted since he officially got engaged. I post to his page maybe a handful of times a year, and we’ve always had a friendly banter until now.

    When I was dating my ex, he seemed upset when we first started dating that I had male friends. Again, people who I really only have contact with through facebook. And when we were long-distance, he would tell me about women that tried to talk to or hit on him that he rebuffed. (I didn’t really care if women hit on him.)

    I guess I don’t understand the need some people have to cut off any member of the opposite sex when they are in a relationship. If you can’t trust your partner around someone of the opposite sex, how can you trust them at all? Maybe I’ve never been so enamored with a guy that I would want to cut off friends or be rude to them.
    Can anyone help me understand this? Am I supposed to be cutting off contact with any male friend to prove that I am “serious” about a new partner? How does that prove anything?

    1. TheWonderGinger*

      I see this a lot and it always baffles me. I have as many male friends as I do female friends, some of whom I talk to on a daily basis or more of a casual chat when I run into them thing and it drives me bonkers when a romantic interest of mine or theirs gets cranky about our friendship.

      1. matcha123*

        The weird thing in my case is that before moving abroad, I didn’t have many male friends. Sure there were guys in my class who I talked to, but none that I really went out of my way to speak with outside of class.
        Now that I live overseas, the majority of my friends are male. Western women do not stay long here, and while I have many more female friends now that I’m in the big city, it’s a product of circumstance.

        1. Julia*

          “Western women do not stay long here”
          You need to meet more people. I even think I know more Western women staying here, because it’s more common for women to live in the husband’s country than the other way around, it seems. (Talk about massive emotional labor.)

          To get back on topic, I lost my closest Japanese male friend when I started dating my husband, and I have a feeling that some people only have opposite sex friends because they’re trying to date them?

          1. matcha123*

            Just wanted to say that I saw your shout-out in last week’s thread, but I’ve been buried under work, so haven’t taken advantage yet!

            Maybe it’s because I moved up here after many years in the “inaka,” but while I know a few western women here in this city, I only know one who is married to a local man. I’ve lived here over a decade and most of the western friends I have are men married to local women…

            This is a part of Japanese culture I absolutely hate. I’m expected to know intuitively stuff that I would never know…from people who have spent many years living in the US and should have a good guess as to what I do or don’t know.

            1. Julia*

              Don’t worry, I’ve been waiting for you to organize something! So far, two people have contacted me. :)

              I’m not sure if this is specifically Japanese culture, sorry. It might be, it might not be. But there are definitely foreign women who live here in the long term (one of my friends just bought a house), and I have some very close Japanese friends (female) as well, so don’t give up hope!

    2. Reba*

      I think it’s fairly common for people to dial back old friendships with people of the other gender out of “respect” for a romantic partner, or at the romantic partners demand. I think it is both dumb and pretty sad. I would not agree to be in a relationship with someone that expected this of me. No one owns my attention.

      Another, maybe more rosy, possibility for your first example is that the person is caught up in their relationship and busy–it’s definitely common for people to throw all their energy into a new or intense romantic relationship to the detriment of friendships, but ideally it’s a temporary state.

      There are people who really believe that men and women cannot be true friends. (To me this is absurd, with this logic, are bisexual people ineligible for any friendships?)

      1. matcha123*

        I wouldn’t want that, either. I don’t get to see friends that often, and when I do, I don’t want to be made to feel like I am a terrible person.
        To be clear, I am not a hugger or a touchy person. No one, is going to be getting unprompted touches from me, and I don’t wear anything sexual, or try to imply that I’d be a better partner…or even talk about dating with most guys/people…

      2. Traffic_Spiral*

        “with this logic, are bisexual people ineligible for any friendships?”
        Yup. Poor, lonely bisexuals. No friends for you!

      3. Ehhhh*

        I’ve been BFFs with a guy since high school. Some of his girlfriends have had issues with me, including a period where we didn’t speak for 2 years. It’s been more than 20 years — if I was gonna sleep with him, it would have happened already.

        Current GF met me for the first time when they visited my city. First time he left us alone, she looked at me and said, “I can’t believe anyone would be worried about you.” She gets that at this point, we are like siblings and the idea of getting together is gross. She’s a keeper!

    3. all aboard the anon train*

      I only really see this happen with straight relationships tbh. Maybe that’s because as a bisexual, I’d have to cut off every friend I’ve ever had to prove I’m “serious” about a new partner.

      It’s stupid and unnecessary, and says more about someone’s insecurity than anything else imo.

      1. matcha123*

        I agree. I have been feeling like I am crazy or somehow out of touch because I don’t immediately think to go No Contact with a male friend because he has a partner.
        Again, I am not at anyone’s home 24/7 or blowing up their phones. But if they’d been consistent about replying to messages, and then turn flake…

      2. Lissa*

        Yeah, I have never seen this in my current group of mostly LGBT people, but it has still been a thing I’ve seen around me. It really breaks down when you take out of a context where everyone’s straight, and I think sort of exposes the ridiculousness of it a bit because it’s pretty damn arbitrary.

        One of my best friends is actually an ex I dated for a year and I’ve always wondered if other partners would have an issue, but nobody ever has (for either of us.)

    4. Makes no sense to me*

      I once broke an engagement over this when my fiance expected that now we were engaged I would dump all my male friends, because “men and women can’t be friends – they’re just waiting around for us to break up so they can move in on you”
      He’d expressed zero concern about those friendships in the three years we’d dated. Not one little bit, even if I got together with them for dinner, or had them over to our place when then-boyfriend was out of town. It was no big deal, he knew them, trusted me, and it was just friendship.
      So when his opinion changed like flipping a switch, it was SO out of left field and not at all what I thought I had known about him! Seriously made me wonder what OTHER bizarre, distrustful and controlling opinions he’d been hiding.
      And that was it.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        Gonna say that was probably a good call. Who knows what other surprise rules he’d have thought up.

    5. blackcat*

      I have found this very frustrating, but it is a very real thing.

      I have one super close male friend. We’ve been super close for ~12 years now, since college. We visit each other, hang out together, etc. He signed my marriage license as a witness. Tons of folks were surprised we stayed as close when I got married/engaged. But our friendship had nothing to due with my marriage! He also dumped one girlfriend when they started to get serious and she asked him to dial back on contact with me.

      One of my husband’s best friends is a woman, and again, some folks commented that it was odd when I said, “Oh, I’m chilling at home while my husband gets brunch with Jenny.” No, my husband is not going on a date with Jenny. He’s getting brunch with Jenny. She’s a friend! Unfortunately Jenny is now engaged and she has stopped the individual get togethers. My husband misses her, and that is sad.

      One good friend of mine has explicitly told me that he is not “allowed” to see me one on one since he got engaged and then married. His wife annoys the crap out of me (and my husband), but she’s now part of the deal for any get together. What frustrates me is that while he and my husband were always friendly but not close, he invites my *husband* to do things one on one now. I miss my friend, and that is sad.

      Tl;dr, a lot of people expect married/engaged people to dial back on/cut out one-on-one friendships with the opposite sex. It is sad. And, as someone else said, a crappy thing particular to hetero relationships.

    6. Indie*

      No you don’t have to. I think this is about knowing yourself and finding someone who’s compatible with your take on friendships and accepting that some people are different. For what it’s worth, I don’t make close male friends when I’m monogamous (except for really old ones who are truly platonic) because for me personally, I often don’t experience instant attraction, my attractions grow out of friendships and I never know which ones will be affected ahead of time. Besides that, it’s been really common for me to find out that a man isn’t really my friend, but is slow-gaming me or he wants access to a network of female friendships. My partner doesn’t have female friendships for similar reasons except for casual level (like your Facebook examples). But those were decisions we made for ourselves, based on past experiences, we wouldnt require that of each other. There are lots of people out there who won’t expect you to adhere to their own personal guidelines like it’s a universal law. The way we manage attractions to others when we want to be faithful is highly personal and individualistic.

    7. Lehigh*

      Hmm. From the few things you’ve stated about your prior relationship, I would be surprised if this is an “I can’t be friends with women” thing. Sounds more like, “I was hoping to get together with matcha123 but now that I’m engaged that’s obviously not going to happen.” You had banter, sure, but he was also upset when you got into a relationship and wanted to talk to you about how he was rejecting other women (presumably FOR YOU.) It doesn’t sound like he was this as a platonic thing.

      1. Panda Bandit*

        Yeah, that’s my read on it too. “Now that I’m getting married I don’t need to cultivate a relationship with matcha123 anymore.”

      2. matcha123*

        Just to be clear, I was thinking about 2 different guys: One who I have never met in real life, and the other who was my ex-boyfriend. When I was dating my ex, we were long-distance for a number of years and during that time, I guess he wanted to test if I was jealous? by telling me about women at his office that talked to him or hit on him.
        Knowing him (my ex), he is probably taking “Woman talked to me” as equivalent to “Woman hitting on me.”
        The other guy, we used to chat on the phone a lot, but that was over 10 years ago.

        1. Lehigh*

          Oh. I thought the “he” who got upset when you were dating your ex was still the first guy. Didn’t realize there was a subject change there. Carry on.

    8. Harvey P. Carr*

      “When I was dating my ex, he seemed upset when we first started dating that I had male friends . . . . . I guess I don’t understand the need some people have to cut off any member of the opposite sex when they are in a relationship.”

      In my case, it’s insecurity. My fear is that she would find some reason to decide she prefers the company of her male friends and would rather be platonic with them than be romantic with me.

      But I’m (hopefully) smart enough to realize that I can’t force her to abandon her other friends. It’s a good fantasy, to have a woman who only lives for me, but in reality if I were dumb enough to require that of her, it would take away part of why I liked her in the first place. It’s my insecurity, and I have to deal with it; thank goodness I have enough self-awareness to realize that.

      “when we were long-distance, he would tell me about women that tried to talk to or hit on him that he rebuffed.”

      I sometimes talk about my ex-girlfriend when I’m with my girl friend (two words – “friend who is a girl,” as per Sheldon Cooper). In my case, I’m usually sharing a negative experience, but I still get a sense of validation out of mentioning her. I’ve had only two relationships in my life and I’m still single even though I’m in my mid-50s, and in that context any chance to mention that I have an ex-girlfriend (even if she was evil and she was a cancer and I’m better off without her), is a good one because it’s like, “hey, I’ve had relationships too, just like everyone else.”

      Can’t speak for other men but that’s how I see it.

      “Am I supposed to be cutting off contact with any male friend to prove that I am ‘serious’ about a new partner?”

      What is he doing to prove that he is “serious” about you?

      The answer to your question is: no.

      1. matcha123*

        Thanks for your perspective.
        I did think he, my ex, felt insecure. So I tried to show with my actions that I had chosen to be with him and WANTED to be with him. When he’d tell me that some girls were talking to him, I didn’t feel jealous, just annoyed that he wanted me to feel jealous.
        I have only ever dated two men and I am not the type to go out on multiple “dates” with different men. He knew this when we started dating.

          1. StellaBella*

            Hahaha :) I no longer date (am nearly 50, not that it matters, but for context), and have a lot of friends gay and straight, but can see this is a valid tactic for managing this stuff – and in fact see myself wanting to be around friends who are not single, straight, male. So yeah.

    9. LDP*

      Ugh, I hate this idea. This is why I very purposely mention that a lot of my best friends are guys on a first date, if only to judge my date’s reaction, and to give him a heads up. If he wants to date a girl who doesn’t have any male friends, then I’m not the girl for him. Especially if he thinks that males and females can’t be friends.

  26. Family drama is rough*

    TL; DR: My MIL recently (and suddenly) moved into a nursing home selected by my husband’s sibling, and sibling is now telling us that MIL’s funds have run out. and seems to expect us to pay the bills.

    Sibling, who does not have POA, has refused to provide us with financial information (including MIL’s assets and the home’s costs).

    MIL has given sibling a lot of her assets already, without discussing it with or even mentioning it to my husband, and still carries a second mortgage taken out to pay for sibling’s college. (Husband has been financially independent since 18.) Our concern is that sibling will not optimize the profits from the sale of their mother’s home (or may take money from it), and expect us to pay for everything.

    Sibling is not incurring any of the nursing costs. Sibling is married, with one child the same age as ours, and has a fleet of in-laws to provide childcare. MIL has been giving sibling money for things over the years, as recently as this year. We (Sibling, Sibling’s spouse, husband, and I) are all in our mid-40s.

    Our elementary-school aged child has disabilities that mean an independent adulthood is out of the question, as well as serious ongoing medical costs. While we have some money left each month after paying for current necessities, we also want to save to help pay for our child’s needs after we die. Also, we don’t know what additional health issues may arise for our child or me, as I have chronic illnesses.

    And while we live in a tiny apartment and wear old clothes, sometimes we like to do something nice for ourselves. We want our child to have as normal a childhood as possible, with some time that’s not spent at school, in doctor’s visit, or physical therapists’ offices. This summer we took our child on a road trip vacation to a fairly inexpensive tourist area, and sibling was pretty rude to us about it.

    The welfare of my disabled child is my top concern and anxiety. What should I, and my husband, do? I feel like the monster DIL. But my mama bear side is strong.

    Looking for advice, commiseration, or even fair criticism.

    1. Reba*

      Wow, sorry you are dealing with this.

      Who DOES have POA? You need to try to get on the same page as Sibling and you need to talk with a lawyer (maybe without sibling, who kinds sounds awful and not trustworthy at all from this brief outline). It sounds like this situation is ripe for financial elder abuse–like perhaps this is already happening.

      Look for a department of Aging, or department of Elder services in your state or county. They will have information about the resources available to your MIL and to you/your spouse, they can connect you with experts, and give you a sense of what planning needs to be done for your MIL’s assets so that she is not scammed and is eligible for Medicare.

      As for your priorities, continue to put your child first! That’s not wrong! But my gut feeling–obviously I don’t really know your situation–is that you and your spouse may need to step in and take on more responsibility, NOT necessarily financial but rather legal and logistical, to prevent things from going really sideways with your MIL. Good luck.

      1. Family Drama OP*

        I’m frustrated because we told sibling that we would do logistical work many months ago. I specifically said that I would be willing to take on the planning responsibilities. We’re still willing to do that, of course. MIL will not be turned out into the street!

        I think MIL delegated to sibling because this was part of a previous informal agreement, that sibling would take care of MIL when the time came. So maybe MIL wanted to believe in that? But I think she is blind to her sibling’s weaknesses, which include organization and planning.

        (I, on the other hand, wouldn’t be the greatest person to provide direct care, but if someone is in the hospital and needs an advocate to keep things on track, or needs someone to untangle bureaucratic spiderwebs, I’m your woman.)

        1. Family Drama OP*

          ETA: I wouldn’t be the best person for direct elder care because I’m already burned out from caregiving for my child, who needs a great deal of physical assistance with everything—dressing, eating, bathing, toileting (though thankfully child is finally out of diapers, which didn’t seem like it was going to happen), lifting in and out of the tub and bed and car.

      2. ..Kat..*

        Local department of aging or elder services can also tell you where to report elder abuse. Sibling is refusing to discuss/disclose MIL’s assets.

    2. StudentA*

      If you’re a monster, I guess that makes two of us. I wouldn’t feel right spending a dime until I get some clear answers. Either way, if it becomes clear that this elderly lady is in financial trouble, and my SIL was being truthful, I would find a way to contribute. Even if it meant I would not achieve my savings goals. But I’d focus on getting more details, while making sure I’m not giving any indication of evading responsibility to an aging parent.

      1. Family Drama OP*

        I guess it’s the “even if it meant I would not achieve my financial goals” part that I’m struggling with. Because we don’t have anyone to help us out, financially, logistically with planning, or with childcare, My own parents are a decade older than MIL and I will be their advocate soon, though they are financial in more self-sustaining shape.

        We’re not turning anyone out on the street, of course, but everyone isn’t going to be able to get exactly what they want here—like MIL might not be able to stay in this particular home, and sibling may not get to hold the financial reins—and we’ll have to put in more hours than we currently are.

    3. fposte*

      Are you in the U.S.? Then some of this may be beyond family anyway. If she’s going to need care for more than a very short term, MIL may well have to do a Medicaid spend-down, and there may as a result be a 5-year-lookback on asset transfers.

      On the other hand: a lot of this seems to be about sibling vs. sibling grasshopper/ant stuff. Which is psychologically understandable, but it isn’t necessarily the fairest approach, especially if the end goal is about MIL. Is there a reason sib is the one who’s had to make all the calls about MIL? Is your spouse falling into the common trap of undervaluing the on-the-scene labor for an elderly parent (especially common when the kid handling the situation is female) and the authority is should reasonably confer on the person who hand to handle that? You mention you didn’t get any say in the nursing home–do you know how much you would have been able to contribute to a nursing home of your choice?

      What I think I’d do in your position is find out where things stand with regard to Medicaid, talk to the nursing home directly about costs and fees, and decide with my spouse what we wish to contribute monthly to her care; if you’re more comfortable arranging to pay the nursing home directly, look into that.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I know with my mother, we had to take whatever nursing home would take her. My former state is not known for paying nursing home bills and the nursing homes know they won’t get paid. This makes them reluctant to take people. I had a social worker tell me, “She’s going home with YOU!” I guess the SW thought she could bamboozle 20 year old me. I told her “NO.”

        I believe my state went back 7 years at that time. So that means any money mom gave sibling over the last 7 years would have to be repaid. If this is the case your sib-in-law has some real problems.

        Get with an elder care attorney and find out what your responsibilities ACTUALLY are. Sibling is not an attorney and their info may/may not be accurate. Do NOT pay for anything until you know if you legitimately have to pay for something. Both when my mother was dying and 10 years later when my father was dying hospital accountants chased me through the hallways trying to get me to pay their bills. I simply said, “Here is the name of the attorney you can call.” I never had to pay a nickel.

        1. fposte*

          Very good advice on the finances. Creditors, including health care facilities, will often try to make relatives believe they’re on the hook for debt that legally is not theirs.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I wish someone would do something about that. That is out and out fraud and nothing is done. It happened to me in two different hospitals located in different states. So this kind of telegraphed to me that this is an industry [bad] practice.

            OP, make sure hubby does not set the precedent of paying even ONE bill. Annnd do not commingle funds. That is, do not take MILs money and put it in hubby’s or joint of yours.

            1. Family Drama OP*

              Good advice—I will let him know, thank you.

              It’s hard because I could be so much more direct if it were my parents. My husband has been avoiding being direct with his mother, and it’s driving me crazy but I can only suggest gently and not too often that he do so.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                Knowledge is power. Sometimes people can move forward if they have accurate information. If I hit this wall with my hubby, I would gather up information so he could see where the actual concerns are. It could be that your hubby is afraid you guys will lose your home. Well there are plenty of things you can do to protect yourselves. OTH, it could be that he is upset over his mother losing her capacity to live life. So then I would start talking about grief, as in grief is not just for funerals we can grieve just as hard for a person’s declining health. Perhaps he feels he will no longer have an opportunity to have a better relationship with family/mom. This also comes under the heading of grief.

                My guess would be that usually when people shut down like this it is for more than one reason. Probably you can delve into a few things that would be supportive in nature. By adding that support, he may change what he is doing. It could be that by watching you talk about these things, he finds his own words for what is actually going on with him. I have seen this also. I had a family member who was locked up pretty tightly on a topic. I just started talking about grief and the stages of grief and so on. Later, she said, by watching me talk she found words for what she could not express before. She did not know how to put it into words. It was like a dam broke, out came this flood of words. I knew she was doing better.

                1. Family Drama OP*

                  This is very sensitive and astute. There are a lot of big feelings, on everyone’s part here. I know MIL has grieved that her retirement has been spent dealing with illness, and I think my husband wishes he could do more for her but is caught up in the grief of child’s disabilities afresh, since his mother’s situation means we’ve had to go over our financial planning. I’m going to try to tell him that he has helped his mother over the years, a lot, by taking on financial responsibilities from a young age so she wouldn’t have to worry about him as she has with sibling.

                  Right now we’re certainly lacking in knowledge and it’s time to change that.

          2. Earthwalker*

            In some states the children are responsible for parents’ nursing home bills by law. I looked into this since I have a parent in a state with such a law. They don’t aim to bankrupt the children to pay the parent’s bills, though. They mainly go after children who have intentionally looted their parents’ bank accounts and left their parents destitute, reliant upon nursing home charity and state aid.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I am not sure about current time, but in NYS if you kept the parent’s home to live in then you also kept their medical bills. Some people got lucky and got out of that one and kept the house, but other people no, they paid the medical bills so they could keep the house.

            2. fposte*

              Pennsylvania is the most famous one. But as you note, they generally reserve that for extreme circumstances. (That being said, I’ve seen at least one person with a horrible parent deliberately choose not to live in PA because of this.)

              1. Family Drama OP*

                I had read about some PA cases and they scared me. We don’t live in PA, but sibling does, and that’s where they moved MIL.

                Another reason to talk to an elder care attorney ASAP.

        2. Family Drama OP*

          An elder care attorney is a really good idea—thank you.

          We have had creditors call us (she gave husband’s name, not sibling’s , as a responsible party without asking us) before about her bills during previous hospitalizations, and that is something I’m worried about.

      2. Family Drama OP*

        No, this is all very fair. We had asked sibling for financial info months ago specifically so we could do the Medicaid planning, which we have experience in. We’ve been asking for months.

        Original plan was that sibling would provide care to MIL, and that’s why MIL had been helping support sibling. But sibling isn’t providing that care.

        Sibling is able to visit more often, though, as the nursing home is near sibling’s home 3.5 hours away from us. But sibling wouldn’t even disclose the facility’s name to us for a while, and MIL wasn’t particularly capable of communication during that time.

        My husband is the one who has handled finances and coordination of care for all the hospitalizations that have occurred in the last five years.

        Husband has tried to talk to MIL but she hasn’t been doing well, and delegated info to sibling, I think in the hopes that sibling and husband would collaborate (though given their past history, that wasn’t a founded hope).

        MIL is doing a bit better, so husband will try talking to her this weekend to get documents so we can do research.

        1. Ender*

          If he can’t talk to MIL he needs to talk to a lawyer.

          You make it sound like someone has POA? Who is that? If no one has it yet then your husband should try to get it since sibling has clearly proven they are not capable.

          1. fposte*

            I think the OP’s spouse is probably a better choice, but I’m not seeing anything that would indicate the sibling is genuinely incapable.

            1. Alice*

              Refusing to tell OP and OP’s husband where MIL is sounds to me like sibling was preventing MIL’s network of social support from contacting her. How many non-nefarious reasons could there be for that?
              This internet stranger thinks that you should request that the authorities investigate whether elder abuse is occuring.
              There was a good Boston Globe article about elder abuse by home health aides recently, and sadly relatives sometimes commit elder abuse too.
              I hope that this situation turns out well for all concerned, especially your child and MIL.

              1. Family Drama OP*

                There was also a New Yorker article about court appointed guardians who exploit elderly clients. It’s disgusting and frightening.

                I’ve actually been thinking about volunteering to be an ombudsman for long-term care facility residents in my area, because I’m horrified by the potential for abuse. (Plus, I hope someone will look out for my child like this someday.)

          2. Family Drama OP*

            I think it should be my husband, because he’s more methodical than his sibling, and has had no interest in taking money from his mom ever.

            But I try to stay out of it, because I actively dislike sibling, who has said racist things to my parents’ friends about our race, and never called my husband after learning he had cancer, has not once in almost a decade inquired about the diagnosis or prognosis of our child but yells at my husband that he’s always hiding behind child, and a whole bunch of stuff like that.

            I am cordial when I see sibling for my MIL’s sake, but I do not seek any interaction with sibling.

            By contrast I am very close to my sibling’s spouse, so I know I can get along with an in law. My husband is close to my sibling as well.

        2. fposte*

          Yeah, that sounds really frustrating; I’m sorry. This kind of situation is hard enough when siblings communicate well.

          My personal approach would be to try as best as possible to separate my irritation with the way the sibling is handling it from the question of what we could/should do for MIL.

          But some of this overlaps with the comments to the anon below whose sib is piling on degrees without ever leaving home, with the consent and enabling of their parents. This clearly isn’t going to happen the way you (and doubtless I) think it should, so your best route is to accept that as much as you can, step back, identify what it is you can and can’t do without regard to sibling, and go from there.

          1. Family Drama OP*

            Oh wow, I just looked at that professional student post below. It is a very similar situation, with a parent who directed a lot of resources toward one sibling to the parent’s ultimate disadvantage. I guess it is a common source of family drama.

        3. Jenny F. Scientist*

          If your MIL is truly a) in need of full-time nursing home care and b) now out of assets, she may qualify for nursing home care under Medicaid (as fposte notes below, there’s a spend-down and a look-back and it sucks). It’s really complicated and you may or may not need an attorney.

          Also, either your MIL is competent to make her own decisions, or she’s signed a medical and/or financial POA, or she’s not competent *and* nobody else has this power and you need to take it before a judge. Someone needs to have the authority to deal with this, and your husband and his sibling need to figure it out between them, or it’s going to get really messy really fast.

          1. Family Drama OP*

            You’re right. It’s already messy, and it’s not going to get any better without some tough conversations.

            My husband has always been confrontation-averse with his mother—I think he wanted to spare her any anxiety over anything, which is nice but not always the best move. E.g, there have been times when our child has been hospitalized and he’s said to his mom that child is “under the weather” because he doesn’t want to add to his mother’s burdens. And I’m like, how does the truth add to her burdens? She doesn’t have to hold screaming child still for the IV or stay up all night holding child in the hospital bed—I do. And I feel like it adds to my burdens because it devalues the severity of our child’s situation.

            1. valentine*

              MIL may just not have the spoons for even news of anyone else’s struggles. You are right to prioritize your child and immediate family, especially because you are already living frugally and there’s no safety net for your daughter. Don’t let anyone guilt you. This summer we took our child on a road trip vacation to a fairly inexpensive tourist area, and sibling was pretty rude to us about it. SIL is using MIL as a personal piggy bank and expecting you’ll refill it. With you/r husband walking on eggshells around MIL, would he tell her SIL has defrauded her or the truth of the situation? I would want the discussion with MIL to be like a mediation, complete with third-party witnesses, so SIL doesn’t say you promised to pay for everything or to take MIL in.

              1. Family Drama OP*

                A third party might be a good idea, thanks. I don’t think anyone has been particularly transparent here, and I’ve already seen things get misremembered/misreported.

    4. blackcat*

      I would make it clear to sibling that, while you are happy to provide certain things for MIL (visits, perhaps coordinating doctors appointments) you are not in a position to contribute financially. Don’t get into debates. Just state it. “That’s not possible” should be come a common refrain.

      Also, can you talk to MIL directly? Is she cognitively okay? If so, I’d straight up talk to her about who is paying for what and how to get POA set up. If you’re going to spend $$, spend it on getting MIL a lawyer to help her with POA/estate planning.

      1. Family Drama OP*

        I think my husband hasn’t broached things as directly with his mother as he should have. She is cognitively okay for this kind of discussion, but of course he feels terrible about her physical problems and has wanted to spare her the hassle of dealing with this stuff.

        I told him this week that he needs to talk to her now, because realistically and unfortunately she’s not going to be in a better situation to have this discussion. I felt horrible saying it but I don’t think he was letting himself acknowledge that possibility.

    5. Hannah*

      Um, heck no?

      If your MIL doesn’t have any more assets, then she will need to go on Medicaid. That may mean switching to a different home, unfortunately, but at the end of the day you can’t sacrifice your own financial stability and that of your child’s. Plus…even if you agreed to pay, you probably don’t have enough. Nursing care is expensive and whatever savings you do have would be drained pretty quickly, and you’d be back at square one.

      1. Family Drama OP*

        There are no easy answers here, are there?

        I feel like this is the worst part of adulthood, having so many conflicting responsibilities and having to make choices about other people’s care.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Perspective. Our kids, if we have any, will not be able to support us either. This is the world we have. The best you can do here is to try to get your MIL the best resources available.

          Things do come up where we get little reliefs from the bleakness of it all . The nursing home my mother stayed at also housed the BIL of the US President at that time. This is a tiny little nursing home in a town that is a dot in the fold of a road map. Every so often a long stretch limo would pull up. A bunch of men in 3 piece suits (???) with sunglasses would pop out. FLOTUS had come to see her bro. So if First Family thought this home was a good idea, perhaps it was. I felt a bit better about a sucky situation.

          Odd stuff like this does happen.

    6. Small-town dr*

      So much great advice here. As a health care professional with many years of observing how these matters play out, please start with an elder care attorney. There is a reason that about 2/3 of folks in nursing homes or assisted living are covered by Medicare. In my rural area the cost is $4000-7500 per month. You need complete transparency with sibling as well as POA, medical POA, etc. Please don’t be pulled into “covering” at the expense of your child. Good luck!

      1. Kuododi*

        Following up to encourage you to consult with the elder Care attorney as many others have already said. What will happen though is that if she’s cognitively on point, the facilities, healthcare providers etc will look to her to make these decisions about $$, end of life concerns regarding DNR etc. (I took the liberty of having a chat with DH. Among other things, he’s an ethicist at the local hospital where we live.).

        Now, it will still be important to get living will and durable power of attorney for healthcare decisions in the event she’s unable to communicate and someone else needs to be designated to see her end of life wishes are respected regarding DNR, artificial nutrition/hydration, CPR/no CPR….

        As far as business issues are concerned, all that as well as living will etc specific to your jurisdiction would easily be taken care of by the elder Care attorney. Best regards to you and your family. This is a painful time of life. You all will be in my heart

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Fortunately if mom is still clear minded, it will cost much less than doing this later when she is not clear mind. I saw the price jump from $500 to $2000 and this was decades ago.

          It could turn out that she has been wanted to talk to you guys but did not know how to open the subject.

          1. Family Drama OP*

            I think it has been hard for her especially because of the physical pain. I understand how it’s hsrd to look past the day or even the minute when pain is overwhelming.

            The last time my husband tried to talk to her, she accused him of trying to get her money, which scared him off. It was hurtful to him, I think, because he’s spent so much time from childhood on trying not to cost her money.

            What I have learned from this is that the time to discuss end of life plans is now, in my 40s, when it’s still kind of abstract and I can be relatively logical about what I want because I don’t feel like I’m talking about my own death as something impending. It’s kind of grim, but that’s okay.

          2. Kuododi*

            Oh GACK!!! I knew the price was horrid but looking at your post as perspective almost gave me a small cardiac event!!! The jurisdiction where my MIL was living would do a low cost legal clinic once a month where people needing to address these types of issues could get an appointment for low fee help. It might be worth a phone call or two to the local county offices, also local bar association to try to find low/no cost legal help. Just a random thought!!! Best regards….

    7. LilySparrow*

      If sibling takes money from the sale of the house instead of using it for MIL’s care, then Sibling is going to be in a world of hurt when Medicare comes for their money.

      1. Family Drama OP*

        I’m worried that even if Medicaid found out, sibling will have already spent the money, and all it will do is delay MIL’s Medicaid eligibility. And my husband would feel responsible.

        1. blackcat*

          Has your husband gotten therapy? Would he be open to it?

          It sounds like he has a lot of guilt around his family, and getting therapy could be very helpful in navigating this situation. Therapy was tremendously helpful in teaching me how to disconnect and label things in my family as not my problem.

          Though, full disclaimer, I got angry before being able to let go, and that’s very normal. My parents never treated me fairly compared to my brother. Acknowledging that was very important, but very painful.

          1. Family Drama OP*

            I wish he’d go to therapy. There’s a lifetime of baggage he could unpack. But I think only a crisis would get him into therapy. He didn’t go to therapy after being diagnosed with cancer or being part of an event of mass trauma (I don’t want to out us with details), so I’m not even sure a calamity would get him to go.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          This is where collecting up facts is good support. Talking to an elder care attorney might help.

          Of course, he will feel responsible, who wouldn’t under ordinary conditions? Remember it’s ethically wrong of him to let your own fiances sink to save his mom, whose bills could end up being crazy high. You can say that, he needs to protect himself first and foremost. If he allows his finances to sink, then there is no way that he can be of any help to mom ever. He can feel responsible all he needs to, it’s acting on feeling that causes difficulty.

          I do think once he sees alternative plans, this concern will taper off some.

          Hmm. Does he have a trusted male friend who has been in a similar situation? Just thinking about you being the lone voice here. Sometimes men friends can be a substantial help with stuff like this, too.

          1. Family Drama OP*

            I wish he had someone else to talk to about this. I think most of his friends aren’t confronting these issues yet, since his mother is relatively young for this level of need.

            But given her health, we saw this on the horizon and I wish more preparation had been done.

    8. Family Drama OP*

      Thank you all for your wisdom and kindness. I now have a list of concrete steps to take, and I’ll be calling the local office on aging and getting recs for elder care attorneys.

      I will ask husband to set up a time to talk to MIL—it’ll be harder for him to avoid a scheduled call.

      I am also going to speak to my parents, who are significantly older than my MIL, to get a better sense of their plans. (They’ve already given me and my sibling lots of info, and I’m their healthcare proxy, so I’m less concerned about logistics with them.)

      Also, I am going to talk to MIL directly and tell her she can talk to me about anything she wants. I’ve been trying to stay out of it, but maybe that’s a mistake. Perhaps my own chronic physical and mental illnesses make it easier for us to relate to each other. Maybe it will be easier for her to ask me to do certain research tasks rather than asking her children.

      I mentioned above that it strikes me that it’s better to do end of life planning at my age than waiting until later, and I realized my husband and I have done a lot, because of child’s disabilities. We hired a special needs estate planning attorney and set up a lot of stuff before we turned 40.

      I’m going to give child lots of hugs and kisses now. Thank you all again. I’m feeling calmer and focused now.

  27. Villanelle*

    How much are certain characteristics you and the way you are vs environment, situation, circumstances etc?

    I’m asking this as it came up in a work situation where I have been recommended (well, told to) to work on my tone of voice and what I say. I find this hard because I am this way in general – sometimes more sometimes less.

    I have done mindfulness earlier this year, I have been on a training course to manage workload. I have also been more aware. But it still hasnt been enough :( I don’t know what else I can do – therapy?

    1. matcha123*

      I think that it’s a combination of all of the above.
      But if people are telling you your tone comes off as harsh (my assumption) and you are pushing back against that, then I guess the first question is why? Do you feel like a core aspect of your personality is being attacked?
      Personally when I talk to people, I want them to feel happy or at least neutral after they’ve finished talking with me. Even when we are tired or annoyed, it’s better to keep that in mind before snapping at someone (not saying you do that, just as an example).

    2. fposte*

      The answer to your first question is “Yes” :-). Mutable characteristics are still you. The things that have changed for you since you were twelve don’t mean they weren’t you.

      I see two possible friction points for you here, and I think it’s worth separating them out.

      The first is if you don’t think it’s fair to be asked this because it feels like changing something essential in you. As you can probably tell, I’m not on board with that notion. I think it’s one thing to say that a request is inappropriate or racist or sexist, and I would support pushback on that. But there is almost no one manner of expression that is quintessentially a person. (Obviously we always have the option of saying “It’s not worth it to me to make this change” and to move on to another relationship or job, of course.)

      The second is if you can’t figure out how to get there from here–if the feedback isn’t clear enough for you to grasp what specific changes you should put in place to achieve that result. That’s more of a skill question, and while different people will have different abilities to brush up that skill, I think with concrete guidance a lot of people can find more successful communication in situations like that. I think mindfulness is great, but we’re probably talking more communications coaching here. If this is mostly a work thing I’d say bring it up in the Friday thread and you’ll get a lot of suggestions–I suspect that there are some pretty easy advantage-gainers that you could add to your repertory.

    3. FD*

      Based on what I’ve experienced in my own life, I believe that everyone has the capacity to change most personality traits and behaviors–if they both legitimately want to change, have the support needed, and are willing/able to put in the effort. However, I also believe that how easy or difficult this is will depend very strongly on the circumstances.

      For example, let’s say that John is a natural people-pleaser. He prefers a cooperative vs. competitive approach. The amount of effort it would take for him to become an aggressive negotiator is so great that it’s not really likely to be worth it. Instead, John is likely better served by finding roles where those traits work for him instead of against him.

      However, let’s say that John finds that sometimes his people-pleasing traits cause him problems, because he finds it difficult to set healthy boundaries or say no when he needs to. It is probably worth it for him to put in the time and energy to learn how to do those things–even though he will probably always use a softer approach than people with a more assertive personality would.

      I’d say that before you can assess any of that, you need to really understand what the issue is, and what success actually looks like, according to your boss/others who are telling you this.

    4. Close Bracket*

      I’m going to hazard a guess that you are a woman. I’m going to hazard anther guess that only thing wrong with your tone and words is that they come out of a woman rather than a man.

      I suggest finding either a coach or a therapist who specializes in working with women to work on assertive communication. If you have an EAP, use that. You are in a no win situation, but if tell your boss about what you are working on, their (I’m hazarding a guess that it’s his) perception of you might change enough that you become acceptable.

      I would go with therapist over coach bc you will need one to cope with this situation.

      1. Smarty Boots*

        That may be true, or it may not be. I would say, OP, sit down with your manager and figure out exactly what you are doing that is problematic. Have your manager give you concrete examples. Then you will be better able to see if (1) it’s something you want to work on, and if it is, (2) you can better figure out — or your manager can help you figure out— how to address is , or if it’s not something you want to change, you can (3) decide if you can live with the consequences (whatever they might be)and whether you need a different job.

        Years ago I got a similar criticism. I asked my manager to give me examples because, I said, it was something that I myself did not see and since I couldn’t see it, I couldn’t fix it. Some of it was easy to fix: say hello how are you and listen to the answer before asking someone to help with a work task. Some of it was harder: really listen to people and make sure I was hearing them, rather than thinking about my next statement; make sure I thought seriously about others contributions before deciding on a plan of action, etc.

    5. LilySparrow*

      What are the things you say that are problematic? Are they actually part of your work?

      If it’s truly work-based communication, like collaborating on an idea or giving feedback appropriately, look around for co-workers who are doing this effectively. Modeling is a great way to adapt and learn. You might also take some communication coaching or classes.

      Effective communication is a skill you can learn. It takes training and practice. It may not be something you need to change inside yourself at all, but a thing you can just learn how to do.

      If others are using the same style as you but not getting pushback, then maybe there is a race or gender issue at play. Alison has written about ways to deal with this type of unfairness, and you’ll have to consider whether it’s a better move for you to try to adapt, or to look for another company.

      But if the feedback is stuff like “stop snarking about your coworkers’ appearance,” or “stop making harassing/discriminatory remarks,” then getting defensive because you’ve always been this way is not realistic or helpful. You may need to look into therapy if you’re having fundamental difficulty with being kind and respectful to people.

  28. The Other Dawn*

    My nephew just graduated basic training, and he’s now a US Army soldier. So proud of him!

    He lives in another state so my sister and I went to visit for his “welcome home” party last weekend. I decided to get him a couple small gifts. I also gave him a couple MREs as a joke, but he actually liked them!

    It was interesting to see how he’s changed: he’s more reserved, he’s serious about the Army rules around conduct, and his bedroom is CLEAN! (I think the fact that ALL his Army gear was put away within a day after coming home speaks volumes about how he’s changed; his room used to be a total disaster!) He’s home for his senior year in high school and then goes on to AIT next June at Fort Lee. In the meantime he’ll be in the Reserves. He changed his MOS from light wheeled vehicle mechanic to infantry, so he’ll be going active duty after AIT.

    I have to say it’s strange to see how he’s matured over the last 10 weeks, but yet he has to go back to high school; it just doesn’t fit together in my mind. He’s a man, but he’s still kind of a kid at the same time. I imagine it’s weird for him, too.

    I’ve been texting him to say, “Don’t forget to keep up with your PT!!” My husband was in the Army and they most definitely need to keep up with that. I worry that him having to go back to school for his last year is going to make him lazy, or take his head out of the game.

    1. Green Kangaroo*

      Congratulations to your nephew, and thanks to him (and your husband) for their service to our country.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I think it’s something new, to be honest. I’ve never heard of that before. He’s 18 (he and his brother were held back a year in school) so he was able to join and go to basic. Him being able to go to AIT in June and then go active requires that he graduate high school. It’s so weird to me, because it seems like it will be so easy for him to fall back into old (lazy!) habits. Although he has to go to drill once a month so hopefully that keeps him on track. He’s passionate about it, though, so I think he’ll be OK.

  29. Lore*

    Traveling to Barcelona and Paris in late October. I’ll be by myself in Barcelona for four days (though trying to convince a friend to meet me) and staying with friends in Paris. I’ve got a hotel booked in Eixample and am happy to just walk around and see stuff, eat good food, etc. I’ve been to Paris before (though many years ago) but never to Barcelona. Tell me what I can’t miss!

    1. Claire (Scotland)*

      I love Barcelona so much. The cathedral – Gothic one – is amazing, as is La Sagrada of course. I have visited Casa Batllo and Park Guell each time I’ve gone as well and they’re definitely worth visiting if you are interested in the Gaudi stuff at all. I had amazing white chocolate ice cream last time I was there from a place right by the cathedral in the Gothic quarter, which I love I general – I like to just wander around and look at the buildings and the shops in that area.

      I also highly recommend a bar called Ginger for cocktails and tapas, if you like those. The Museu Picasso was really interesting. I definitely recommend walking up Montjuic and visiting the botanic gardens, and also wandering around the Raval for shopping and cultural events.

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      The sagrada familia is well worth a visit as is Park Güell while you’re in Barcelona.

      I enjoyed the nou camp tour, if you like soccer I’d recommend that and the hop on hop off bus tour is worth checking out as it runs past a lot of tourist activities.

    3. catsaway*

      As others said, the Sagrada Familia and Park Guell are awesome. I never actually went in the Sagrada Familia but even just walking around the outside is great. If you’re into art, there is a Picasso museum that has some of his early work and if you’re into history/archeology or have a rainy day there’s a museum of the city (Barcelona history or something like that) that has exhibits on Barcelona from the time of the Romans onward, including some excavations you can walk over (on walkways of course).

    4. Sarah G*

      Another vote for Park Güell — that’s my favorite sight in Barcelona. Also La Pedrera/Casa Mila, including the very cool tour of the interior. And just walking the streets and wandering around the city.
      In Paris, I really loved the modern art museum at Centre Pompidou, and the view from Arc de Triomphe. I also ended up doing the top of the Eiffel at night, and the view was amazing — I recommend it at night. Have fun — those are two amazing cities!

    5. Aardvark*

      Barcelona is awesome! I went a few years ago and definitely want to go back at some point.
      Sagrada Familia, of course! I did a guided tour with an add-on to go up the towers, which was well worth it.
      Also: El Born Cultural Center — there’s a long history there, but the short version is that when the city decided to demolish a late 19th century ironwork market building, they discovered the basements of a neighborhood that had been demolished to erect a giant fortress. They kept the market and turned it into a museum where the ruins are partially exposed inside the market building. It’s right near the Picasso Museum.
      I also liked going up to Castel de Monjuic–nice view back down to the city.
      Markets are also great: La Boqueria is the most famous one. Santa Caterina is also really interesting — the way the old market building was renovated is really interesting.

    6. Mephyle*

      Adding to the above, my recommendation is to take a “free” walking tour or two, or three, in your first days (the economic model is that you tip the guide at the end). The Gaudi tour I took only visited the outsides of several of the main Gaudi buildings, but for some of them the guide had tips on the best and cheapest times and ways to visit the insides – then you can come back in the following days to see the ones you want to go into. Also for the Gaudi tour, the one I took ended up at the Sagrada Familia, so I planned ahead by booking my entrance for just after the tour ended, and that worked well.
      Don’t miss the Hospital Sant Pau. This has only been open to tourists for a few years, so it’s not as well known, but it is spectacular. It’s pretty close to the Sagrada Familia. Allow several hours; it’s quite big.
      Of perhaps lesser interest, but worth it if you are interested in cool architectural transformations, La Arena is a huge former bullfighting ring transformed into a shopping center.

    7. Traffic_Spiral*

      For Barcelona, stay in the gothic quarter and just wander around – try the ham-and-cava bars as well. And yes, definitely see the Sagrada. Also, Granja La Pallaresa has the world’s best churros.

    8. tab*

      Our first day in Barcelona we took a Fat Tire Bike Tour. It was a great way to see a lot of the city and get oriented. I highly recommend it. You will LOVE Barcelona!

    9. Pharmgirl*

      Barcelona History Museum! They take you below the city to see the original Roman settlement, and you slowly make your way back through time to modern day – very cool!

    10. London*

      For Paris, Sainte Chapelle is a less known sight that you might not have visited on your previous trip – beautiful old church that is more stained glass than stone. My friend was in Paris recently and did a walking tour of the Montmartre area which she loved.

    11. ronda*

      tapas in barcelona was my favorite meal of my europe work trip to prague, bacelona then leicester. Only one day in barcelona, so didn’t do much, but it was the most vibrant city I have been too. enjoy.

    12. PookieLou*

      These random guys in Barcelona have a Dali tribute exhibit in their apartment. I didn’t go, but the hand-drawn posters made it seem really amazing…..

  30. Latte syrups*

    I make my own hazelnut lattes at home, which has generally been very easy, except now I’m in a new city and can’t find hazelnut syrup anywhere. I used to be able to get it at Kroger, but since I moved, I’ve checked three different grocery stores and they don’t carry it. I’ve also looked online and those tend to be the sort of industrial sizes you would see at a cafe. I thought I might make my own instead using hazelnut extract and simple syrup – anyone have experience with this? The recipes I’ve seen online look thicker than what I’m used to.

    1. Sabine the Very Mean*

      Yes you can buy Starbucks syrup at the cafes. I like their Toffee Nut flavor but their hazelnut is top notch as well. Sometimes they don’t have enough on hand to sell you but I just ask, “Can you sell me a bottle of x today?” Very good quality.

    2. CatCat*

      Do you have a World Market near you? We’ve found hazelnut syrup there.

      We’ve also found it at Beverages and More.

    3. periwinkle*

      Latte enthusiast here…

      Many larger supermarkets do carry the flavor syrups, so you might just need to go to a larger store of the local chain. Seconding the suggestion for Cost Plus/World Market – the ones near me have a vast array of flavors. Also check out Marshalls/HomeGoods/TJ Maxx, although their selection tends to be random.

      These days I stick with Monin syrups and sauces, and the best source is directly through their website. Shipping (via FedEx) is free for orders over $20 and they regularly send out 10% discount codes to their mailing list. Monin has multiple varieties of hazelnut syrups! They even have two different sugar-free options, one with stevia and the other with Splenda (which is good because I loathe the taste of stevia). Everything is available in standard 750ml bottles with some also available in larger sizes.

    4. Old Biddy*

      Check your dollar stores. We get ours at Dollar Tree or Dollar General (I can’t remember which one). Grocery suppky places like Maine Source/Smart and Final usually have a big assortment of the large containers.

    5. dawbs*

      I have really good luck at Tuesday Morning and/or Home Goods, for some reason, getting syrups.
      For those of us who are cheap.

  31. Junior Dev*

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

    I’m having a really rough time. There are problems at the Place we Do Not Mention. My parents are in town visiting and they’re bringing my nephew, the son of my estranged abusive brother, who it’ll be much first time meeting. I’m nervous about that and I’m worried about my future and I’m not getting enough sleep or exercise.

    I guess I’m proud of making plans with friends last night. I don’t feel great about myself.

    How are you?

    1. kerlin*

      Bad bad bad week. Baaaaaad week. Sunday night, my horse got sick, and we put him on a trailer to the vet hospital in the early hours of Monday morning. He came home late Wednesday and has been making good progress (two vets and my trainer all used the word “miracle”) but holy mackerel my brain. It is gone. He’s been my whole world for almost 15 years and I thought it was all going to end.

      So, I’ve either been with him or trying to focus at work, which has been impossible. So I feel like I’m screwing up at work. And my husband (whose mental health is precarious in the best of weeks) has been bad this week as well. (If I’m not home to facilitate things everything goes south quickly.) So I basically haven’t slept or rested or even had any self-care time all week. I’m actually looking forward to a work trip tomorrow that will put me, alone, in a quiet hotel room for a few hours.

    2. Amber Rose*

      I’m having a long term existential crisis. I feel like I’m wasting my life and just letting the days pass me by and I don’t know what to do about it. Its sent me into one of the worst depressive spirals I’ve ever been in.

      I’m working on it but it’s tough. I have plans to go out today so I don’t just sit and watch YouTube videos all day.

    3. Handy Nickname*

      I’m doing okay. Started the week off with a really awful and hard conversation with my mom about our very different relationship needs- spending lots of time with my family and helping them out “counts” to me, and having long talks where we share feelings “counts” to her. She had a really hard time when I moved out 6 months ago and struggles with understanding that “I want to go home” doesn’t mean I don’t want to spend time with my family- I just need to be home at least enough to sleep and wash clothes y’know?

      Haven’t talked to her since then, but I should call her or go over today. Made the rest of my week easier though- got my whole apartment cleaned up this week and ate decent food for a few more meals than normal. Amazing what you can accomplish when you’re actually home!

    4. TheWonderGinger*

      My anxiety is in overdrive. It’s been and will continue to be a very busy time for me. It’s a mix of good and bad things like New job offer, vacation, friends wedding, Oktoberfest, Steve Trevor recovering from accident, PIP at current job. My mental health thrives when I have organization and a routine and all these changes at once is sending me into a tail spin and my compulsive behaviors are showing.

      1. Slartibartfast*

        I feel you on that. Anxiety is spinning because I hate change, I have a job offer but it’s feeling like everything is taking forever and I have an irrational fear that ahole owner of my previous job will somehow try to actively sabotage this for me. Plus I haven’t worked a 40 hour week in a very long time, and even though new job isn’t nearly as physical as old job, I worry about keeping the fibromyalgia under control. I have daycare sorted for the mornings, my car needs brakes and should probably take care of that while I’m home, even though that means credit card and what if something goes wrong on the background check, and the hamster wheel keeps spinning in my head. I just want to settle into a routine and find some stability. Go to work on time, produce a consistent product, go home and have spoons left for family stuff. It’s been a long year. Thanks for posting though, it helps to know I’m not the only one like this :)

    5. Patsy Stone*

      Mental health is not great for the past week…few weeks…few months, actually. Have been struggling with depression…situational to work and school, not living where I really want to be and not living the life I want to be living. Neither the location or the life can be changed until I finish school in April 2020. I just feel like I’m stuck in a box…I live and study in a box, I go to school and sit in a box all day, I go to work in a box (hospital, actually, but it’s pretty boxy). I made a massive career change from international adventure tourism to nursing, and am struggling to find the motivation to complete my nursing degree…been a work in progress for past 5 years, with 1 1/2 left to go. The degree is what I need to do in order to have the job I want and the life I want. Love nursing but not doing the type of nursing I want right now…I know it will change, but not until I finish my degree.

      Feeling increasingly guilty about not wanting to stay in this town/province where my parents live….I’m the only child living in the country (Canada), my sister lives across the pond in the UK. Neither of my parents have any other family, so I’m the only one who can look after them when they get older (in their mid-70’s now, good health and no concerns, but at some point in 10+ years…I don’t want them to be alone. I wasn’t nearby for 20 years as I lived/traveled the world, so now feel the need to be nearby. Where I would love to live is a five hour plane ride across the country….

      I just don’t know how to get myself motivated to push through this next 1 1/2 years. Between work, school and studying, I don’t have any time/money to pursue my passions (travel, photography, skiing, hiking, outdoors and wilderness). And even though I know the nursing job part of it is temporary and will change once I finish my degree, I don’t know how to reconcile living nearby the parents and being miserable in this town/province, with living across the country and feeling guilty for being far away.

      I feel like I just went on a massive whinge there…apologies if this sounds whiny, because I’m really trying not to. I know I have a good life, good family, and a good place to live…am working hard on trying to not be depressed, and taking care of myself, but it’s getting pretty tiring feeling down like this…

      1. WellRed*

        Late to this but want to comment. I know know it’s a struggle but keep your eyes on the prize. You have a goal with a set deadline. That’s better than having neither ; ). As to down time, I don’t know what province you live in, but it’s Canada! How far do you need to go to be in nature? Walking is free. Indulge photography with cell phone snaps. Not to trying to simplify, but just encourage you to work with what you have. Good luck. I don’t think you’ll regret being there for parents in the end.

    6. SparklingStars*

      I had a really rough start to the week (feelings of depression and loneliness flared way up, and I ended up calling my mom in desperation and sobbing into the phone). The next day I made an appointment with an EAP counselor through work. The last several time I’ve tried counseling it did not help much, but this time they assigned me to a guy who is GOOD. Sadly, I only get 3 free sessions through EAP, so he’s trying to help me find someone else who I’ll work well with (and can afford, which will be the real challenge), but I seriously got more out of that one session then I did in all the months I saw my last person. I’m actually hopeful that I might start feeling happier eventually!

      I went to a flea market this morning and did a tiny bit of retail therapy, and tomorrow I’m going to a friend’s birthday party,, so I’m getting out of the house at least somewhat.

    7. Jessen*

      I’m getting a lot better at dealing with mom issues and things like “sorry I have to go” or “sorry I’m not free” or just plain old not picking up the phone, without coming up with a giant reason why it would be absolutely impossible. It’s really hard to wrap my brain around

      I’m also planning that when thing-which-we-don’t-mention changes I’ll be moving farther away. It’ll be easier when I’m a ways away rather than right nearby, so just dropping by won’t be a thing.

      1. Raine*

        Good for you on dealing with those mom issues in a way that works for you! I’ve been working on that myself and trying to help my sister who still lives at home.

        1. Jessen*

          Thanks! I’ve been really trying to internalize the idea that you can’t reason with unreasonable people, and it’s ok to just not explain things. I’m kind of violating a lot of the normal boundary process because I know from experience that it’ll trigger a never ending battle. Frankly if I wanted to deal with arguments and rules lawyering over boundaries, I’d start babysitting toddlers.

          It’s just simpler to accept that my mother is never going to “get” boundaries. I limit contact, especially in private, and keep myself out of situations where I can’t realistically excuse myself. If I don’t have the energy, I don’t engage.

    8. Raine*

      Struggling with learning how to manage RA (so many pills) and the amount of time I have to spend laying down makes me feel useless in a way. Still coming to terms with having RA and progressive hearing loss at 19. Also, I’ve been really grumpy. I think it’s the involuntary sugar moratorium (I am in between jobs so I’ve not been able to buy my usual sweets on top of necessary expenses).

      On the upside, I started a new medication to try and calm down my jerk brain. Not sure if it’s working, might need to up the dose. This is my 6th medication and I’m hoping I won’t have to change it because it’s the first time that I haven’t had terrible side effects.

    9. Julia*

      I’ve been worse, but it’s definitely not good lately. I graduated with my master’s yesterday, but all jobs I’m being offered are for the same admin type work I did before (and I didn’t even do all admin, there was a lot of translating and interpreting involved, but people still looked down on me). Plus my husband goes back to work next week, so I’ll have a lot of time to stew by myself.
      Made an appointment with my therapist, will try to see some friends (thank God for friends on maternity leave who are home during the week) and booked my first voice lesson – of course now I’ve also caught a cold. -.-

    10. Anonymosity*

      Horrifyingly bad the last two days–I actually had to cut a half block off my walk on Friday because my anxiety was so high I could barely breathe. And this was coming off a bout of depression where I haven’t even been able to get off the sofa unless it was absolutely necessary.

      Today was much better, after going to meditation group. We meet in the very large hall of a church who graciously allows us use of their space and there is a kitchen next to the big room. The kitchen is equipped with a large pass-through window, covered by a metal shutter that’s usually pulled down (and was today, thank goodness).

      Today, not long after the facilitator started our sit, someone began doing dishes in the kitchen. You could hear the industrial dishwasher going, the bang and rattle of cups and plates, trays thumping, and water running. I’ve done dishwashing work and I could picture everything they were doing by the sounds they made. It went on almost through our entire 30-minute meditation and got louder and louder as it did. At one point, I was silently laughing and could hear the facilitator doing the same–it was kind of hilarious!

      During our discussion, we all talked about how it was a good exercise in mindfulness, in being present and not letting things get to you at the same time. I actually felt better after this instead of getting irritated by it, probably because being with the group makes such good energy.

    11. families!*

      Having a hard time..it’s the birthday of someone I was really close to who passed away and this year I miss them terribly. I’m also struggling with how I reject people even though I would like more friends and perhaps a partner eventually, including not being mindful enough so I hurt people I love. Feeling a bit defeated by it all.

    12. StellaBella*

      I hope the meeting with your nephew goes well. Am sorry for all on the thread it’s been a heck of a week, sounds like. Thank you also, Junior Dev, for this thread it is helpful to read and as a space to share that is a safe space.
      I am ok – great in lots of ways – turned in my MSc thesis this past week, and am done – just waiting 2 months for grades! So that was a big deal. But, I am not great in other ways. I need to move back home in November-ish – after wanting to move back in October – but paperwork and visas and moving with my cat etc – it is going to be done, just will take a while longer than I thought. And I would like to start working again – but …. am having a lot of anxiety about work after my last 2 jobs of dealing with very, very toxic workplaces. I took a year off to do this MSc and I am excited to move forward with it all as a refined career – just need to plan, and be careful with finances, and network.
      In other news I did get my cat a new travel crate (soft sided for the plane) and am feeding her treats in it, and she seems to rub against it – it is also on my bed so she sleeps near/on the fold out door so am hoping this lessens the trauma she may feel in a move.

    13. JaneB*

      Bad week, bad month, bad summer. Students start back tomorrow & all I want to do is hide under the duvet and cry…

      Gah, stupid brain…

    14. Alpha Bravo*

      It sounds like many of us are having a tough week (or so). I’m struggling with grief. It’s hitting me hard for no discernible reason, my face hurts from crying and I’m exhausted just trying to be some kind of normal right now. Ugh. I don’t feel very good about myself either, Junior Dev. I guess I’m proud of organizing and catering a weekly family Netflix Night at my mobility-impaired Mom’s place. It makes her really happy, and that makes me happy.

  32. kerlin*

    Does anyone have personal experience with Al-Anon? I’m dealing with high-functioning alcoholism in a close family member that is pretty directly impacting (logistically AND emotionally) my day to day life, and it’s really hard. But each time I read more about Al-Anon I get uneasy. It feels like victim-blaming and learned helplessness. I get that there’s nothing I can do to change this person’s behavior, but it really irks me to read “avoid doing things that might make them drink” because…that’s everything.

    So: is my impression wrong? Any other suggestions for place to go for help? I live in a very small rural community so I’m also concerned that I’ll have to travel a fair ways to find a meeting where I would not be known.

    1. AnonNeedsClothes*

      This isn’t the easiest thing in small, rural communities– I know firsthand being from one– but how about therapy? At the very least, therapy for you to help you deal with your family member and get advice from a neutral source. If you’re not comfortable going to someone local you might want to try the online therapy options that exist now where you can talk on the phone or text with a therapist (or even video chat if you’re internet connection is strong enough).

      It’s not cheap, but you also might not need to see the therapist for very long! Especially if what you’re looking for is mostly just tools to help you communicate with your family. My former therapist only saw me 4-5 times when I was going through a rough patch, I got some helpful advice from her on how to support myself and after that there was no need to keep seeing her.

    2. fposte*

      Why not go to one and see what you think? You can always say “Nah.”

      A relative found it really helpful, and I don’t think they found a lot of “avoid doing things that might make them drink”–it was more “stop walking on eggshells to protect them” and “you can’t save the drowning swimmer by going down with them.” (Now I’m thinking of the great quote in Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, where one attendee talks about having to bring her passed-out husband in from the lawn before the neighbors woke up and saw him, and another attendee says “Honey, just leave him lay where Jesus flang him.”)

      That being said, it’s 2018; Al-Anon was created in the years before the internet. It’s possible an online forum might provide you with similar support, if you can find a good one.

    3. Nerdgal*

      Al anon alumna here. I think your impression is wrong. No victim blaming that I remember and definitely not even a whiff of “make” them drink.
      Why not go to a meeting or 2 and see for yourself?

    4. foolofgrace*

      Al-Anon former attendee here. I found it to be a lifesaver. No blaming, just strategies or even a place to vent with no judgment. I will say that every meeting group is different — they say to try six meetings before making a determination to stay or give up on it. It might be hard to find multiple groups in a small community, though. I’m sorry you don’t have more available. Also, I don’t see a stigma in going to Al-Anon whereas there might be in going to AA, for example. It is, after all, anonymous. Some people look at Al-Anon as cheap therapy. And remember, at Al-Anon if you don’t want to talk, all you have to do is say “I think I’ll just listen today, thanks.”

    5. Dino*

      I’d say to go to one and see what you think. I went to one and found that it wasn’t helpful for me, but I’m still glad I went to check it out. I personally didn’t get much out of it since I didn’t “choose” my alcoholic (thanks mom) and had cut off contact with her so the codependence thing didn’t apply to me, and I also was never into covering up her drinking or making things appear okay to the outside world. But I think it can be a useful support group if one feels comfortable there.

    6. Notthemomma*

      Each group is a bit different in how they are set up and operate, so if the first doesn’t fit, others may. There are also online groups which may fit your needs. There has never been any victim blaming or learned helplessness that I’ve seen, my experience has been more of ‘ this is going on, this is how we can deal with it’. Good luck to you.

    7. dawbs*

      There are some problematic things about it–but it’s still often useful. I struggled w/ some of the helplessness–but I think struggling w/ admitting helplessness is part of the human condition. I never experienced the ‘avoid doing things that make them drink’ attitude, I found the ‘this is beyond your control’ countered that in helpful ways.

      I’d say it’s like finding any other group–if you go and you hate it, go to another one. Because if you go to about 3 different meetings, you’ll find 3 very different experiences.
      (It’s…kinda like finding a church. While an AOG church and a Presbyterian church and a Catholic church are all church, the experiences are pretty different)
      And, if you still need a tool and those odn’t work, consider Adult children of alcoholics (even if the person isn’t your parent-some of the tools are helpful), or, if you’re of religious bent, Celebrate REcovery.
      There are other options, although some of the struggles and problems with the groups are universal parts of the problem of substance abuse.

    8. Friend of Bill and Lois*

      Long time member of Al Anon
      It saved my life.
      No blaming.
      Good support on how to live my life while interacting with an active drinker.
      The only requirement for membership is if someone else’s drinking bothers you.
      I am dealing with the 5th family member who is on a downward slide.
      I know what my side of the street is. I know how to detach with love. It takes time but you will get through this.

    9. Jen Erik*

      I went to my local one for some years: really resented having to go – my thought was – not my problem, why should I be the one to attend meetings? – but found it really helpful. I did worry that I might know people there, and my town is small enough that I had connections to some people, but that was just okay, somehow.
      I never came across “avoid doing things…” as advice. (Have to say: properly stupid advice.) In fact, I can only remember one interaction where someone came close to giving advice, where an attendee who was very anxious about a family member had hatched a plan that was both technically illegal and medically unwise and another very experienced attendee skirted round the edges of advice-giving to suggest it wasn’t a great idea.
      As I understood it, the idea is that you come for yourself, talk (or don’t talk) about your own situation and listen to other people talk about theirs. You aren’t there to help anyone but yourself. So if you find it doesn’t help, it’s fine not to go.
      I think the ‘try it for six weeks’ idea is a good one: it was always suggested to new people. An awful lot of people spend the first meeting in tears (I fulminated instead).
      My big revelations from my years of attendance sound really trivial, but were important to me – it helped me understand something that I had accepted intellectually, but didn’t actually know – that this wasn’t my fault – and also that alcoholism is frequently a fatal illness.

  33. Fabulous*

    I’m almost 21 weeks pregnant due the end of January 2019, found out I’m having a boy, and yet I still haven’t announced it to Facebookland. Meanwhile I know several people due around the same time, some even later than me, who have shouted it to the world on FB. I feel so lost, LOL.

    FOMO is for real, guys!

    1. Sunny Day in the ADK*

      I never mentioned my pregnancy on Facebook. I did make a vague reference to needing to purchase bigger sized pants, but that was it.

    2. Reba*

      Yeah, it can be easy to feel like EVERYBODY is doing it one way, while you’re all alone doing it your way. But often that’s not true. FB is like, the ultimate medium for second guessing yourself. Hope your pregnancy is going well!

    3. Awkward Interviewee*

      I hear you. I’m 13 weeks and not really sure if/when I want to announce on Facebook. Announcing seems to really vary so whatever you do is probably fine. Husband told his work team recently. (He’s been coming to my prenatal appointments and wanted to give some context for why he’s been out for more appointments recently.) One of his coworkers said oh this is awkward my wife is having a baby next month. Uhhh when exactly was he planning to tell them he’d be out a few weeks for parental leave?

    4. NewMom*

      I posted a picture of pregnant me in January. That was our announcement on FB. We emailed close friends and family well before then–in September or so.

      I had the baby mid-February. And he was late.

    5. Traffic_Spiral*

      Don’t announce it until you want to. It really doesn’t make that much difference, so just do whatever makes you feel the most comfortable.

    1. CatCat*

      The cable car museum! It is free! Super interesting historical information about the cable car system and the museum is housed in the building where the workings are to operate the system. Super neat because you can actually see the various apparatuses that run the cables. It’s right near the outer edges of Chinatown so it’s off the Chinatown main drag and you can find some cool restaurants and shops. We went to a hole in the wall vegetarian restaurant that was good and super cheap. Get the bao if you go!

      Get a Clipper Card and load some money onto it. That will get you around the city on MUNI and BART for cheap.

      Walk along the Embarcadero!

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Good, cheap places to eat:
      Bill’s Place
      Art’s Cafe
      Kim Son Restaurant

      Free places to walk around and/or enjoy the scenery:
      Kirby Cove
      Fort Funston
      Sutro Baths
      Twin Peaks
      Golden Gate Park (bison paddock, Stow Lake, area in between De Young and Academy of Sciences)

    3. MissGirl*

      Alcatraz but get tickets early and walking across the bridge and through the national park area around.

    4. Woodswoman*

      If you’re up for a walk, my favorite for out-of-town visitors is to start in Chinatown, through North Beach, and walk up to Coit Tower. On the inside, Coit Tower has impressive murals painted during the Depression. For a few dollars, take the elevator ride up into the tower if it’s a clear day for views.

      The key to exploreing Chinatown is to avoid the touristy places. Skip Grant Street and walk instead up Stockton one block over and poke into the side streets and alleys. Ross Alley has some cool history and murals, and the fortune cookie factory is interesting. There are some good walking tours of the neighborhood.

      City Guides, run by the SF Public Library, offer terrific walking tours all over the city for free and they’re excellent. Check out their website to see a variety of options.

      I second Golden Gate Park. One place to check out is the free observation deck at the deYoung Museum in the park. You can visit the observation deck without paying for admission. Also, although it’s a little pricey, the cafe there has excellent food if you want to have lunch in the park. Nearby also is the Japanese Tea Garden.

      One last thing. If you are driving, never ever ever leave anything visible in your car, even if it’s just for a few minutes. If you’re putting things in and out of your trunk, do it somewhere away from where you park. Break-ins are epidemic and the issue is in the news all the time.

      Have a great trip!

      1. Erika22*

        +1 to CityGuides free walking tours! I recommend the Hitchcock and Castro tours (but really any of them will be excellent!)

    5. Sunflower*

      My favorite thing I’ve ever done in SF is bike over the Golden Gate. I rented a bike near North Beach and went through Presido and Crissy Field. I think it was $30 to rent a bike for the day- which you can use to bike other places as well. I love the Ferry building also. Dolores Park is hit or miss IMO. If you have a car, I’d recommend going to Marin County- that’s where you get the best views of the city.

    6. Traffic_Spiral*

      Not cheap-cheap, but get yourself some good cioppino (Italian-American fish/tomato stew) when you’re there. It’s really something else.

  34. AnonNeedsClothes*

    So I accepted a new job this week! The reason I’m posting now and not yesterday is that I’m a little panicked about my work wardrobe. Currentjob is the epitome of casual– a coworker of mine showed up to a meeting wearing sweatpants, a t-shirt, and loud running sneakers and there was no water cooler conversation about it. That casual, ha.

    Newjob, based on my interview, is much more traditional business casual. I should be able to make it through the first couple weeks with my “dressier” clothes from currentjob but I have a huge gap in my wardrobe with shoes and pants. I got a bit lazy wearing sneakers and jeans the last couple years. If anyone can recommend truly comfortable but professional-looking shoe/pants brands I would appreciate it! Newjob has parking but it’s not directly adjacent to the building and I might even opt to take the bus instead of drive– so I need to be able to really walk in whatever new shoes I buy.

    1. TheWonderGinger*

      I’m in the same boat! Nobody blinks an eye at my leggings and chucks at current job but new job is in a hospital and I am scrambling to find real pants! I personally (30F) like Maurices brand pants, they come in multiple inseams and the waistbands have stretch to them and they wash nice. Usually can snag them at a good price with a coupon or on sale as well.

      I am a high heel devotee and I find that a block heel is much more comfortable for all day wear vs a stiletto. Also, could always wear sneakers on commute and slip into dressier shoes at office.

    2. Red Reader*

      I’m a fan of Rothys flats — they come in several styles, round toe and pointed, and many colors. They’re also ridiculously comfortable — The last pair I got, I took them out of the box, put them on my feet and went for a three mile walk with no problems, and I wore them around Disneyworld for a couple of days to the tune of ten miles a day last week. They’re a little expensive, but discount codes are available, and I’ve found that between the comfort and the durability, they’re worth the price.

      1. Arjay*

        Ooh, I’ve wondered about Rothy’s; thanks for the tip. I have a well-worm pair of Tieks that are that comfortable out of the box, but the prices are steep. I bought a pair of Flytes and the footbed is a dream, but they’re giving me those sore spots by my Achilles’ tendons. Just have to break them in, I guess.

    3. Smarty Boots*

      Walk in sneakers (or hiking boots if it’s wet or snowy), change into nice shoes work. Otherwise you will hurt your feet and wear out your expensive dressy shoes.

    4. Raine*

      Check out DSW or Famous Footwear for shoes. They are always running deals of some kind and have lots of options that are professional and comfy. Old Navy also sells some cute flats that are plain suede in multiple color options. They were about $8 when I got mine. Seconding the recommendation for Ann Taylor for pants. Banana Republic or Express can be good options as well. Second hand stores can be hit or miss, but are worth combing through if you have a few hours to go to a handful of consignment stores.

    5. Woodswoman*

      For business casual, my go-to pants are LL Bean’s Bayside pants. They have a number of different styles, colors, and lengths. I live in mine for work as well as anywhere I need to wear something less casual than jeans. They’re machine washable, comfortable, and last forever. Plus LL Bean has outstanding customer service online or on the phone, and guarantees their stuff and you can return it even after you’ve washed it if turns out not to work for you. If I’m trying something new, I typically buy different sizes and then return the one that doesn’t fit.

    6. Jenny F. Scientist*

      I stand all day and am a big fan of black clogs, like Danskos. Super snazzy, no, but definitely count as professional! They come in a lot of nifty colors but, for wide feet, only in black (alas). I’ve also had good luck with Clarks shoes (check 6pm.com – it’s Zappos’ clearance site!) – they were pretty comfy, but didn’t last as well. Rockports are nice, but tend to run narrow (their wide is no wider than a C for sure).

    7. Aurora Leigh*

      For slacks I like the Arizona bootcut ones from JC Penneys. They come in teen sizes, but I just go up one size from my usual and they fit well. I think they’re called Schoolgirl, but the fit ias actually the most similiar to jeans I’ve found. I also like Lee brand ones, but it’s a more traditional cut.

      For shoes, I really like Klogs. They’re super comfortable and long lasting. I paid close to $90 for mine, but I wear them every single day.

  35. Kick In The Pants*

    I’m desperate for motivation to exercise on a regular basis. I really do want to but I find it far too easy to make excuses. I need to do laundry, that time of the month and I don’t feel well, hard day at work so I’d rather relax than exercise. What can I do to break this cycle?

    1. AnonNeedsClothes*

      I’m a pretty lazy person by nature and the only thing that gets me exercising is knowing that I’m going to have fun. This might sound weird, but I’ve discovered yoga is actually pretty fun for me– I like the challenge of balance poses. I’ve learned to enjoy running– but it HAS to be outdoors so I can check out a new neighborhood, pet some dogs along the way, etc lol. That means that when it’s 10 degrees out I just don’t run anymore because I hateeeee treadmills.

      Since you mentioned laundry– I will sometimes use things like that to get me off the couch and moving. I’ll get up, put a load in, and then immediately go change into my workout clothes and do something for at least the 20-30 minutes I have laundry running. Don’t sit back down!

      1. Kick in the Pants*

        I’m trying to bribe myself into walking/running by saying that I can only listen to my podcasts while I’m working out. And that’s nice because all my podcasts are at least 30 min long so I’m guaranteed to be moving at least that long. I haven’t been terribly successful with this technique but at least I’ll have a huge back load of podcasts to listen to when I do get into it.

    2. Dan*

      How pessimistic do you want to be? You can tell yourself that your long-term health and what not depends on it. If you’re healthy now, do you want to stay that way? TBH, my kick in the pants was going on a transatlantic cruise with my parents. It was fun and all, but there was something really depressing: It was the largest cruise ship in the world (at the time) full of nothing but old people with very noticeable health problems. I told myself that I was healthy “enough” now, but the kicker is that I want to stay that way.

      When we got to Fort Lauderdale cruise port, there was a “regular” line for customs, and a “global entry” line (customs thing for skipping the regular line.) Except the line wasn’t set up like it is at the airport (airport has automated kiosks, this was just a separate line for a human officer), and also doubled as the “disabled” line. I actually have no idea how many people actually had global entry, but my parents went through the “regular” line, and beat me out of the customs area. Several people had difficulty standing for that long period of time.

      So yeah, that was *my* kick in the pants. I don’t want to be like that in 30-40 years.

    3. Dr. Vanessa Poseidon*

      I find that when I’m lacking time or motivation to exercise, YouTube exercise videos are a good option (I like Fitness Blender, but there are a ton out there). Not having to leave my home removes one hurdle to doing something active, and there are plenty of videos that give you an effective workout in about half an hour. I can almost always convince myself to workout if I just think, “it’s 32 minutes…you can commit to this for 32 minutes.”

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        Yup – I do “Power Yoga” workout videos, and also bought a kettlebell that I can use around the house. Little bits of time eventually add up.

    4. FD*

      I’m desperate for motivation to exercise on a regular basis.

      You can’t rely on motivation–motivation is just a feeling. It will never be consistent enough to let you build a new habit.

      How can you create a situation where inertia is working for you instead of against you? You want to set up a situation where it feels easier to exercise than to not workout. Here’s a few tricks I’ve had a lot of success with to build habits I wanted to.

      1. Wanted to go from couch potato to working out. Rented a locker at the gym and put my makeup there (tie, good shoes, anything needed for work would have done as well). To get ready for work, I had to at least go to the gym. I didn’t have to workout, but I had to physically go to the gym. Once I was out of bed, and at the gym, it felt silly not to work out for at least a few minutes–even if it was only 10 minutes. Once you have a consistent habit, it’s easier to expand it to longer workouts.

      2. Wanted to go to bed earlier. Found it was difficult because I tended to stay up and play online instead. Bought a program (Cold Turkey–not affiliated, I get no financial gain from recommending it) that locks me out of the internet/specific programs at times I specify. Once my browser has been force-quit, it feels like you might as well turn in.

      3. Wanted to eat better. Biggest issue was impulse spending on fast food. Started carrying cash + an emergency, low-limit debit card only, which meant that the cash I carried metered how much fast food I could actually buy. Also started taking public transit and getting off where it wasn’t that convenient to walk to any fast food place.

      Generally speaking, the goal is that you want to set up something where it’s easier to just do the behavior you do want, and hard, inconvenient, or impossible to do the behavior you don’t want. Don’t spend time chasing motivation and/or beating yourself up for not having it. It’s a losing game.

      1. Parenthetically*

        “motivation is just a feeling. It will never be consistent enough to let you build a new habit.”


      2. nep*

        Spot on about motivation. It’s a feeling that comes and goes–our health and fitness mustn’t depend on it.

      3. CheeryO*

        Yup. Discipline, not motivation. Watching the Boston Marathon on TV is motivating as hell, but I’ve forgotten the feeling by the next morning and it doesn’t matter anymore, all that matters is that I’m tired and don’t feel like it. Remind yourself why you do it, whether it’s to improve your mental health or physical health or to train for a race or whatever, and just do it. It also gets a lot easier once it’s a habit – the hardest part is the first few weeks of building momentum.

    5. Cruciatus*

      Something that gets me out of the house to go on a walk some days is Pokemon Go. It’s a virtual reality game and requires satellites so you have to interact with the real world in order to really make much progress in the game. This might be too derpy for you, but there’s also things like geocaching (finding stuff hidden in plain sight out in the world), or enlisting a friend to go with you. You may be looking for more aerobic exercise, but I’m just a walker and none of this ever feels like too much when I’m doing it and having a goal with Pokemon Go (or sometimes geocaching) makes it fun and not “ugh, I’m out here walking for no good reason!”

      Otherwise, could you exercise on the days you have to do laundry–throw it in and you work out for as long as the washer cycle takes? Or the old “just 15 minutes then I can stop” routine (this has worked for me as well). For me, the hardest part is always just starting–but once I’ve made it to that point I’m usually good for the next 30-60 minutes.

    6. rogue axolotl*

      In my experience, the hardest is when you’ve been out of the habit of exercising for a while. Once I get into a regular routine, I don’t like to stop, because I know it makes me feel better. To build up a routine, I find it helpful to have some social and/or financial pressure–joining a class, buying a pass, finding a work-out buddy. It also has to be a kind of exercise I don’t hate.

    7. Parenthetically*

      A few things that have worked for me:

      1. Reframing exercise as EXACTLY the kind of self-care I need and will benefit from after/before/in the midst of a hard day, rather than as yet another obligation.
      2. Focusing only on workouts I can finish in around a half hour. I do not have the mental energy for a 90 minute workout, or even a 45 minute one. I do heavy weights and HIIT so I can be DUNZO 25 minutes after I start. There’s a ton of free stuff out there — Dr. Vanessa Poseidon mentioned Fitness Blender, and I second that.
      3. Just putting on my damn workout clothes. Once I’m dressed for the workout, I feel like I’m halfway there.
      4. Accountability. I’m in a group where we post post-workout photos every day that we work out. I work out four days a week so I post four photos a week.

    8. Max Kitty*

      The two things that really have helped me:

      1. I paid for a two-month Pilates class. If I don’t go, that’s wasted money. Having paid for the class really makes me go.
      2. I joined an online exercise goals group. Every month we post an exercise-minutes goal. Many times I haven’t felt like getting up off the couch, but I went for a walk anyway so I could get the 10 or 15 or 20 minutes to reach the next milepost to the goal.

    9. Libervermis*

      I take classes, with a friend if I can manage. It’s more expensive than going for a run by myself or doing a video at home, but it’s the only way I consistently exercise. I just have to get myself to the location (that’s where the friend comes in handy) and someone else will take over from there. Then I just have to do what I’m told for an hour.

      And I second AnonNeedsClothes that you have to find exercise you enjoy. I do aerobics-style weightlifting and cardio dance/Zumba primarily. Are kickboxing or cycling (other available class options) or something like running or CrossFit probably better overall workouts? Yup. But I wouldn’t do them. So I stick to the classes I find fun even if it’s not the most efficient use of my exercising time.

    10. The Other Dawn*

      For me, I have to just flip that switch in my mind: just suck it up and do it. Easier said than done, I know, but that’s what I tell myself almost everyday and that’s what gets me through. It’s 45 minutes of my day and once I’m done, I’m done and I feel great. Plus it really helps my back pain; my back feels best when I’m moving. I blogged about exercise awhile back. If you care to read, I linked to that particular post in my username. It’s more about my weight loss and keeping it off, but exercise ties into it. Good luck!

    11. Ender*

      I just read 168 hours which is supposed to motivate me to see that I actually DO have the time and saying I don’t is just excuses. I’m currently in phase 1 – tracking a week – to see what I actually spend my 168 hours doing. So far I’m finding I waste a lot of time.

    12. gecko*

      I’ve been exercising at least once a week for half a year now—the longest I’ve ever kept up a habit of exercising!

      So my success is a little limited, but I’m still close enough to your situation to remember it.

      I eventually identified that my two biggest problems were:

      1. It’s really boring

      2. It feels BAD

      For 1, I chanced on a podcast (the Critical Role podcast) that hits the sweet spot of “absorbing” and “if I stop paying attention for a sec I don’t really have to rewind.”

      For 2…exercise would feel really bad to me. When you get a fever your body just has a sense of wrongness, for instance, and while I didn’t feel febrile, my body was telling me NOPE. Then I’d give up in the middle and feel emotionally bad!

      What solves that is going easy on myself—I reaalllly prefer low-intensity workouts, and I’ve learned to make sure even higher intensities don’t feel so awful.

      So what I’m saying is…be really honest with yourself about what your blockers are. Do you always find yourself skipping your yoga class? Do you just not. like. yoga? Do your only yoga pants make you feel ugly? Can you not bring yourself to call the yoga place to sign up?

      Be as picky as you want and just remind yourself, you WANT to work out. There’s a blocker there that’s not just you being lazy—there’s something that feels too hard or IS too hard. What is that and how can you make it easier?

    13. Old Biddy*

      having a few workout buddies used to help me (back when I lived near them) we’d make loose plans to exercise after work. If someting big came up, it was NBD, but having the loose plans kept us from skipping just because we were feeling unmotivated.
      Unfortunately, now I’m living at the opposite end of the country from my workout buddies and fell into the bad habit of procrastinating at my desk until it was too late to exercise and still have dinner with my husband. So now I have two nights that are workout nights and he’s on his own for dinner.
      If I’m still unmotivated, I’ll tell myself to just go to the gym and do as little as I want. I mostly find that I am fine once I get there, but once in a while I really am too tired and only work out a little bit.

    14. Woodswoman*

      Perhaps an exercise video you could work out with at home would work for you. I don’t like going to gyms, and my exercise has typically been aerobic walking, so I’ve found that videos are good if the weather makes it uninviting to go outdoors. Just be careful to do something that’s low-impact so you don’t injure yourself, since you won’t have an instructor.

    15. moql*

      When I’m having trouble with motivation I put my workout clothes in the car and don’t let myself go home from work directly. I have to go to the gym and do at least one thing. The hardest part for me is leaving the couch when I’ve sat down and this cuts that out.

    16. AvonLady Barksdale*

      To be honest, the best thing for me was to work out early in the morning. I no longer work out (that’s another issue!) but I take a long walk every morning. It worked because I’m wired to wake up with my alarm and I simply cannot get back to sleep, so when the alarm went off at 6:30 or whatever, I was up. That’s how it goes with my walking; the alarm goes off and I am UP.

      It also worked because I never had an entire day to make excuses. I got up and went to the gym and got it out of the way. Then I got to the point where I don’t truly wake up unless I’ve had some exercise; when I’m out of town, I usually find myself getting sleepy by 10am because I haven’t done my 5000 steps. So if you’re one of those horrid morning people like me, that might be something to try.

    17. Catherine*

      For about three months now I’ve been doing a short at-home workout when I get up most mornings. Every single day I do yoga while listening to a Headspace meditation; on mornings I don’t have to be at work before noon I then put on some music and do a few sets of scissor kicks, curls, crunches, squats etc.

      My big thing to make it a habit was to add it to my bullet journal so that I was forced to check it off or acknowledge that I skipped, and to integrate it into my morning routine: wake, take notes if I remember my dreams (this is actually really helpful for pinpointing the source when I’m having free-floating anxiety!), Headspace/yoga, work out, then I’m allowed to shower and start my day.

      1. Catherine*

        Also, find a way to turn the shower after into a reward! I got myself a nice shower gel that I’m only allowed to use on workout days.

    18. Nacho*

      It helps if you exercise in your own home. Buy an exercise bike or a treadmill, or just run in place (that’s what I do). Going outside can be a pain in the ass, and going to the gym even more so, but there’s no excuse for not spending at least 30-40 minutes a day, 3 times a week doing some basic cardio to stay in shape.

    19. The Other Dawn*

      As a few others have mentioned, working out at home is a great thing. There’s absolutely no excuse (that I can think of) to not be able to do it. You don’t need equipment to do it, nor do you need a ton of space. Just do some body weight exercises, like squats, lunges, push ups (however it’s easiest for you: against the wall, on an incline, or a full push up), jogging in place, etc. You can go to the Nerd Fitness website and find the “beginner’s body weight workout” and it will give you some basic exercises. Although, I feel that particular workout should be cut in half (number of reps) for a true beginner–I wouldn’t have been able to do it when just starting out.

      Also, start slow. Do *something* for five minutes a day and give yourself permission to stop. Quite often you’ll find that you want to keep going.

    20. Anna*

      Hi there, Lots of good advice already. This is my take: I do exercise because I want to stay in good health, that is my long time motivation. But I cannot really use something that might happen/not happen in years to motivate me. I thought about what would motivate me now? I really crave being alone, I am an introvert in an extrovert job. Now all the exercise I do I do alone. Walking, hiking, biking, swimming, even exercising on a mat in my living room. I hate the gym I hate classes. Now I do not think, I have to exercise, I think yes now is my alone time. I have a friend, she works alone and have no family, her motivation is the social life at gym. We both have the same long time motivation, but our short time motivation is opposite