weekend free-for-all – November 24-25, 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: Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist, by Tim Federle. It’s exactly what it sounds like — drink recipes inspired by literature, like the Pitcher of Dorian Grey Goose, Romeo and Julep, Orange Julius Caesar, and more.

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

{ 859 comments… read them below }

    1. Cat Meow*

      Agreed, I get sad about no new posts on Saturday but I love the cat pictures so much.

      Who here has a cat? I have one and this is the first time I have ever owned (or really, been owned by) a cat! I have always wanted one and he is the best thing that has ever happened to me(ow).

      1. Schmi*

        How about four? It’s a trip.

        Any update from “ww” whose cat was diagnosed with heart problems a couple weeks ago?

      2. Lcsa99*

        We have two fuzz butts. We would have many more cats but our building only allows two cats per household. I think my husband wants to adopt every stray in the neighborhood!

        1. MsChanandlerBong*

          When we had to move out of our old place, we had to look high and low for a place that would rent to us with five cats. We ended up having to pay a $1,500 NON-REFUNDABLE pet deposit on top of the regular first month, last month, and application fee. These cats are lucky we love them!

        2. Asenath*

          Mine allows one, but I was able to negotiate permission for a second before I bought. I did the same thing with my last rental – “I do like it, but I have two cats. Is that going to be a problem?” I got “tenant may have two (2) cats” added to the lease, no charge. I’d rented another property from the landlady BC (before cats) and knew she didn’t like animals on her property (“Animals belong in barns”), but she knew I paid my rent regularly and didn’t damage the property, so….

          1. Lcsa99*

            When we were buying we had that problem. One of the places we were looking at had our accepted offer and told us later that the building only allowed one cat per apartment. The seller’s real estate agent wanted us to claim just one cat and sneak in the other – our agent was joking about dying one of our cats to look like the other. We didn’t want to risk it so we claimed both cats and got the acceptance on our offer rescinded. Places that only allow one cat suck.

            1. Asenath*

              I was surprised how many people suggested I lie about the number of cats I had, but I wasn’t going to put myself in a position in which I might be proven to have knowingly broken the agreement, if anyone ever complained about the cats. As mentioned below, I own my apartment, but it’s a condo, so I had to agree to observe the condo rules. I’ve always suspected the seller had some influence with the board, because when I first brought my condition up, they said they didn’t have the authority to allow two cats; only the board did. So I said I’d take official permission from the condo board – which the seller somehow obtained quite quickly.

              I didn’t even look at buildings that didn’t allow pets at all, but was tempted by location and price of this apartment to try for permission to have an extra pet.

              1. Lcsa99*

                I guess to someone who doesn’t have pets it doesn’t seem like such a big deal to lie about it. But like you, I didn’t want to give them a chance to kick us out of our home later or make us pick between our cats. And you can’t really hide cats. Like my attorney pointed out, cats like to sit in the window.

        3. GhostWriter*

          The phrase “fuzz butts” made me smile. Going to remember it for future use when talking about peoples’ cats. :)

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I pet your cats vicariously.
        I love them and always intended to have a few… but my allergies say otherwise. I was fine with my housemates’ cats for two years, but i tipped my allergies over the edge when I added a foster kitten and spent hours a day socializing her… now no cats. Allergist actually wrote my test results down as 4+ on a scale of 1 to 4.
        Boo hiss.

      4. CanadaTag*

        I’ve always had cats. Currently have only the one, because she’s a very possessive/jealous cat (and going to throw a fit in a few years when I bring in another cat, as she gets older, I think). She’s got a lot of anxiety (heh, she’s as autistic as I am!), but absolutely adores me, and I’m the same with her.

        And whatever gene activates in feline adulthood to turn the fur rough never turned on for her, so she’s still got kitten-soft fur, though she’s over 10-1/2 years old!

        1. CanadaTag*

          Oh, and my gravatar is a sepia picture of her, so you can see what she looks like!

          (She’s also physically disabled – she doesn’t have a right hind paw, which is part of the reason for her high anxiety, I suspect. I got her when she was six months old.)

  1. Lena Clare*

    What things are you feeling good about today?

    Mine are: hot cup of tea, cuddle with cats, napping in the afternoon with a hot water bottle (omg it’s freezing), and feeling generally ok with stuff after a shaky morning :)

    1. Loopy*

      Calling out of volunteering when I’m not feeling up to it. Sometimes it’s hard for me to do things like this unless I’m bed-ridden. I hate feeling like I’m letting people down (they’ll be short staffed without me). But working outside for four hours with an endlessly running/stuff nose and low energy would have been miserable.

      I still feel badly about knowing their morning will be rough but ultimately I am so glad to be at home with tea and tissues.

      1. Waiting for the Sun*

        Took some mistakes to a consignment shop. Found a top and earrings I liked. Got an offer that more than covered the new stuff.

    2. jess r*

      Successfully finding weird positions to lie in that don’t hurt my cranky pained back/abdomen, banana pancakes for breakfast, the chance to see a friend who’s moving soon (and who I didn’t think I’d see again before he moved). And it’s been raining here in Northern California, and that feels good.

    3. Middle School Teacher*

      I am feeling good about taking this whole weekend to rest and not talk to anyone. I’ve had a super busy two weeks and last weekend was brutal, and next week is also shaping up to be crazy, so I’m taking this weekend off from everything and everyone.

      1. Ktelzbeth*

        I’ve done the same with three of the four days of my long weekend. Rented a nice hotel room about an hour from home (the balance between being annoying to drive and close enough I’d want to run home to DO STUFF) and have been lounging around. It is great. I go home tonight because my friend’s kids are being baptized tomorrow and I want to be there.

      2. AnonEMoose*

        Good for you! My husband and I had a nice Thanksgiving with my family on Thursday, spent yesterday partly relaxing and partly doing a bit of shopping. Today and tomorrow we can relax and just be with each other and the cats. It’s good for both of us…and the cats think warm, stationary humans are a good thing, so everyone’s happy.

    4. GhostWriter*

      I typically subscribe to Netflix streaming for a month or two at a time to watch any new shows that sound interesting or to catch the next season of a show I already like, then I switch to their DVD plan for a couple months and watch one movie a week. I went to switch back to Netflix streaming today and they offered me a month free. It was a nice surprise to randomly get something free. :)

    5. PB*

      I’m feeling good about hosting a successful (and delicious) Thanksgiving dinner. I’m also feeling good about having it behind me, so I can spend the weekend relaxing!

    6. gecko*

      I whipped up some squash muffins with leftovers from my Thanksgiving “pumpkin” pie, and I’m both excited to have them and pleased that I’m a competent enough baker that I could just make them quickly without it being a big project :)

    7. Alpha Bravo*

      I like this question. Accentuate the positive! I am feeling good that we hosted a successful Thanksgiving dinner for my family and everyone got along and had a good time. (I may have told everyone in advance to leave any family drama at home and be kind or GTFO…. Apparently intimidation tactics are quite effective!)

    8. Sparrow*

      Being home after a 5 day trip to visit family, going to my favorite yoga class this morning, a cup of coffee and a book in my quiet apartment, plans with my friend to study and chat later

    9. Red*

      I bought a kit to do dip powder nails after seeing how cool my aunt’s were on Thanksgiving, so I’m excited :) I got purple to match my new fuschia hair!

          1. Red*

            It was actually super easy! It’s basically just superglue and powder, so you just do a few layers. And it dries almost instantly so you can’t smudge it. Way easier for me than a regular mani, which I still can’t do without f’ing it all up.

            1. Jen RO*

              Please post pictures! I love doing my nails, but this is something I haven’t tried yet and I’m super curious.

              1. Red*

                I don’t really know how to get pictures on here, but they just look like a gel manicure. They’re a little imperfect because it was my first time doing it, but they’re not bad at all. The kit was $40 at Sally’s, if you want to give it a try :)

    10. LilySparrow*

      I worked with my fourth-grader to cull her outgrown or unloved clothes, pack away summer things, and organize her closet. She and her older sister were thrilled and said “we should clean more often!”

      This is a major milestone. They actually like having a peaceful space, instead of fighting me all the way!

    11. Anono-me*

      I stopped at a gas station and c store on Wednesday about an hour away from my Thanksgiving host’s home. They had bigger than normal signs indicating the handicap parking spots and those spots were actually closest to the door AND the ramp. On top that, the store had big signs designating a no parking area for people using wheelchairs to exit and enter their vehicle. But wait it gets better: there was a second sign saying Delivery Drivers were not allowed to park in the handicap parking nor in the area for wheel chair loading and unloading. And the cherry on top of all of this wonderfulness, was that this sign had corporate phone for people to call if parking violations occurred.

    12. Aurora Leigh*

      The 4 day weekend! It was so nice to wake up after 2 days off and not have to rush off to work!

      Getting to spend the morning with the cats, and the puppy, and my boyfriend before he went to work (he works 2nd shift).

      The weather was in the 50s — so nice! I loved the early snow we’ve had this year, but it was nice to shed my winter coat for a day.

      A large chunk of my Christmas shopping is done!

    13. ceiswyn*

      – Getting to my favourite gym class after missing it earlier in the week due to traffic
      – Coffee and toast with a friend to recover afterwards
      – Buying eleventy billion kinds of herbal teas (ginger beer flavour, mint humbug flavour, chocolate biscuit flavour, you get the idea) to stay warm at work and ward off boredom-hunger (I’m actually looking forwards to going to work on Monday and trying them out)
      – Snuggling on the sofa all afternoon and evening with my last remaining cat, who is 19 1/2, not at all happy about being alone now, and very demanding of lap time.

    14. Woodswoman*

      I traveled to California’s Central Valley on my annual Thanksgiving trek to see huge numbers of wintering geese, ducks, sandhill cranes, swans… This time, I lucked out and got videos of thousands of geese taking off at once, and really close to the cranes. I’m looking forward to posting these as updates on my blog soon, my first post in ages.

    15. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m tickled pink to have a new, larger kitchen table …and finding it via our local “Buy Nothing” group on Black Friday really amuses me.

  2. OperaArt*

    I started learning Spanish a few days ago at age 60 because it’ll be good for my brain, and hey! More people to talk to!

    Tried out about 6 apps, narrowed it down to three: Busuu, SpanishPod101, and Duolingo.

    My pronunciation seems to be helped from having sung in Italian (although not understanding it) for several years. The idea of pure vowel sounds and placing consonants differently is not new. I studied German for a couple of years in high school—I don’t remember much of it—and that’s helping with the idea of inanimate objects being referred to with a gender.

    Wish me luck!

    1. WellRed*

      I studied Spanish. Dont speak it, but think you’ll find helpful similarities in lots of the vocab, too.

    2. Torrance*

      Good luck! :D

      I’ve been using Duolingo for the better part of a year, learning Japanese & Korean, and I must admit the gamification has really helped. Even on days when I’m not feeling it, I still log in and do my lessons, if only to keep the streak going.

    3. GhostWriter*

      How did you sing in a language you didn’t understand? I’m curious because I had to take Spanish for a couple years in high school and college and learning how to speak it (while having to also understand it) was so hard. I can’t imagine having to learn how to say (or sing!) something without even having the meaning in my head to guide me.

      1. MommaCat*

        You learn it phonetically; it also gets easier with practice. Italian and Latin are relatively easy, because the rules are so consistent and similar to parts of English. German and Japanese were a little tough, because we had to learn some new pronunciation rules, but again, pretty consistent. And in singing, all the work has been done for the emphasis, all you need to do is get the consonants and vowels pretty close, and you’re good. Also, if you have the music in front of you, you can write the phonetic pronunciation of any difficult words to help you out.

      2. OperaArt*

        As MommaCat said, you learn it phonetically and the rules of pronunciation and spelling are very consistent. I spent several years singing in opera choruses. Most of us got to the point where we could look at Italian lyrics and sing them the first time through. French was another story for me—I still struggle with French lyrics and have to write out each syllable phonetically. German was easier, partly because I’d studied it a little, but mostly because the pronunciation rules are quite consistent.

        We also had to memorize all of the music and lyrics. Italian was easier because I could often spot a word that shared a Latin root with a roughly comparable English word. For example “maledetto” means cursed, and it is similar to the English word “malediction” which means a curse. (People get cursed a lot in operas.) And after a certain point, you just start to recognize words.

        1. Artemesia*

          My husband sang in several languages in opera chorus too and it really helped him when traveling and having to master a useful phrase vocabulary for a new place. At least his pronunciation was close.

          1. fposte*

            Yes, my fellow singers and I always joked that we would be fine conversing in Italy as long as we had to tell people to let us die.

        2. OperaArt*

          It helps that opera chorus numbers tend to fall into a small number of categories:
          1. Party!!! Food, alcohol, dancing! Hold my beer while I dance on the table.
          2. Here’s us, being who we are and doing what we do, waiting for the soprano/tenor to make their entrance so that we can fawn over them.
          3. Hey, soprano/tenor. We thought we liked you, but we were wrong and now we hate you. Go away and live a horrible life.
          4. Oh, no, previously shunned soprano/tenor. You died. We’re sorry for saying all of those bad things to you.
          5. Oh, no, soprano/tenor who was playing a leadership role. You died. Whatever will become of us?
          6. Something religious/sacred/ceremonial is happening. Sing big and solemnly.
          7. We live happy, generic lives.
          8. We live horrible lives. Who will save us?

        3. Elizabeth West*

          We learned it via IPA–the international phonetic alphabet. I studied classical voice for four years and yes, you do get to where you can sing it just looking.

          Of course, translating it is another story!

          1. Tau*

            IPA is so useful. I do not understand how I ever tried to speak a foreign language without knowing basic phonetics.

            Token Swedish Guy in our choir, explaining how to pronounce Swedish lyrics: So this sh is softer than the German sh
            Me: A helpful explanation, that is not. I’ll look it up when I get home.
            Me, later: Aha, Swedish uses ɕ, not ʃ. That’s doable!

        4. PhyllisB*

          On learning to recognize words, same with cooking. I have learned a lot of French and Italian terms for cooking. Now don’t ask me to PRONOUNCE them, with my Southern drawl it would not be pretty.

    4. Corporate Cynic*

      Good luck! I just started using Rocket Languages to learn French, and I really like it – it’s a bit pricey, but was on sale for Black Friday and I felt like I wasn’t getting the structure I needed from some of the other apps.

    5. Anon Anon Anon*

      Good luck! Did you try Clozemaster? That was my favorite. Addictive and entertaining and easy to use for just a minute at time while you’re doing something else.

      I’ve studied a lot of languages. I like Spanish. It’s similar to German in that it’s very logical and the spelling is pretty consistent, but the grammar can be complex. It has a wealth of verb tenses. But that’s all very logical and it makes it easy to specify the timing of whatever you’re talking about. It’s a language we hear or see more frequently in the US, so that helps with the intuitive side of learning.

      I hope you have fun with it!

      1. OperaArt*

        Yes, Spanish is very common, especially here in California. I know several fully bilingual English/Spanish speakers, so I can pester them for practice or accent correction. :-) Sometimes signs and labels are in both languages, so more practice opportunities for me.

        1. Anon Anon Anon*

          I live in a bilingual area too. I’m finding it’s really helping with my pronunciation and conversational skills. I have a sense of the way people actually talk, at least around here.

    6. Tau*

      Good luck from a fellow Spanish learner! I started in August and am making decent progress, I think.

      I started off with duolingo, but gave up because I was frustrated by the vocabulary choices. The way it works is that you’re forced to learn all the words it picks for you in the order it wants you to, and some of those choices were… odd. At one point, I’d learned how to say “the elephant is drinking milk” before I’d learned to say “how are you?”. You can’t even forget the words you don’t want to use afterwards because the new lessons will use old vocabulary. Haven’t heard of Busuu, had a brief look at SpanishPod101 but honestly found it a bit overwhelming! It looked like a pretty good resource from what I saw, though.

      My main recommendation is a spaced repetition flashcard app for vocabulary – I use Anki and write the cards myself, but recently I’ve spotted MosaLingua which is specifically for your language of choice and looks really good. Spaced repetition basically means that flash cards are repeated in longer and longer intervals. There’s apparently some scientific basis for saying that this is the best way to get information into your long-term memory; I can’t say much about that, but I can say that for me it’s worked amazingly well. Learning vocabulary with Anki feels a little as though I’m downloading it directly into my brain.

      Another recommendation is italki, which is a website for arranging either (free) language exchange Skype dates with native speakers, or (paid) Skype sessions with a tutor or teacher. I’ve invested a little money in the latter, but am hoping to also do the former once my conversational skills are a little bit better than they are.

      And re: noun genders – my native language is German, and I can say that so far Spanish noun gender strikes me as significantly more straightforward. There’s only two, and in a lot of cases it can be deduced from the word ending.

      1. OperaArt*

        Thanks for the recommendations.
        One of Busuu’s features is the option for students to correct each other’s spoken or written assignments. So I, as a native English speaker, am correcting assignments for people who are learning English. Native Spanish speakers who are on the platform to learn English are correcting my Spanish.

    7. Anonomo*

      Good job!! I love Duolingo, Ive been learning Norwiegan with it. Also check out your local library, I just found out mine has copies of Rosetta Stone available!

  3. Loopy*

    AAM, this week has been hard. I’m having one of those periods where simple things that I can normally handle feel really, really hard. Trying not to be frustrated with myself for my budget going to crap, my diet going to crap, and barely keeping my head above water with basic things I normally can handle: rolling over a 401k before year’s end, getting an oil change, and overall planning for things with enough time in advance. Nothing on its’ own is really hard or confusing but for some reason I’m just unable to feel like I’ on top of things!

    Would love any tips for just finding a way to feel less overwhelmed by basic things all adding up!

    1. WellRed*

      The best tip I have is pick one thing and do it. Second best tip is to go easy on yourself and say, oh well, not today.

      1. Amadeo*

        Yeah. I have lots of commiseration but very little advice, Loopy and this is kind of how I end up operating when I get to feeling like this. It feels like it’s never helpful to say ‘it has to get done, might as well pick something and do that’ and do at least one thing each day, but it’s just what ends up happening.

      2. The Original K.*

        On the “pick one thing and do it” tip, I’ve been finding the “set a timer for 20 minutes and do a thing” productivity hack very helpful. I’m trying to get through this annoying paperwork thing at home and chipping away at it 20 minutes at a time has been great. You can get more done in 20 minutes than you think.

        1. PhyllisB*

          Amen on setting the timer thing. When I just don’t want to do stuff around the house, I will set a timer (usually 30 minutes) and promise myself that after that I can go read AAM or a book, or whatever. The last time I did that, I: wiped down the kitchen counters, folded and put away two loads of laundry , unloaded the dishwasher, vacuumed the whole house, and changed the sheets on my bed. And still had 3 minutes left. What that showed me is, dreading something is more tiring than actually DOING it.

    2. Loopy*

      This pickk one thing is a good tip guys. Today will be grocery shopping. Tomorrow will be oil change. Everything else will wait. The hard part is not thinking about the everything else! :P

      I also like the 20 minute tip. I may try that for wedding stuff, which is also a burden on my poor anxious brain.

    3. Not A Manager*

      Make a list, and then prioritize it. That way, when you “pick one thing” you won’t be endlessly mulling over all the other things that you *could* be doing instead – because you have a list! You won’t forget anything!

      I like the “20 minute timer” hack, but I add to it a little bit. I’ll plan a little treat for myself at the end of the time – like, say, run a hot bath, and while it’s running I’ll fold my laundry. But my secret trick is, once I’ve started my task, I’ll “procrastinate” the treat until I’ve actually finished the task. I don’t *have* to! I don’t *plan* to! I’m just committed to 20 minutes! But once I’m almost done, or half-way through, I’d actually rather finish it than not finish it, and then I can enjoy my treat afterward.

      I find this works for many housekeeping chores that really don’t take all that much time, but are hard to get started on.

      1. Ali G*

        Second the list. It really helps you regain a feeling of control because you know everything you have to do and you can pick what you want to do and when you do it.

      2. GhostWriter*

        I “procrastinate” the treat until I’ve actually finished when using the “20 minute timer hack” too. Getting started is the hardest part, so once I’ve been working on it for 20 minutes, I’m in the “mood” to do it and just getting it done is easier than taking a break and starting over.

        I’m also big on making lists. Feels like a big accomplishment when I start crossing things off!

    4. Kathenus*

      Agree with everything so far, whatever strategy works best for you to take small steps – whether that be the one thing or the list. But also, give yourself permission to take some time off and let some things slip. I’m with you on going through periods where I just seem to almost actively avoid doing things that I know need to be done. I’m actually really happy with myself because yesterday I scheduled two appointments for Monday (eye doctor and pest control) that I really need to do and have been letting fall through the cracks. And part of my reward is that on my day off Sunday I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to :)

      So balance small steps of progress with allowing yourself to have downtime without pressure.

    5. PB*

      I’m sorry. I’ve been there, and it’s tough.

      First, do you have any options for taking time off? If you have accumulated vacation time you can burn, maybe take a couple days off to do nothing. Sleep late, read a good book, catch up on your favorite Netflix shows, or whatever. This might also be a good time to call in for a mental health day. Like Alison says, you can do this occasionally, maybe once or twice a year, and it sounds like you could really use one right now. You’ll be a lot more productive, both at home and work, so taking a “sick” day even if you’re not physically sick might be worth it.

      For planning, I have yet to find a better system than a paper planner, but use whatever works for you. Maybe an app like Remember the Milk would help. My friends swear by bullet journaling. The best system is the one that works for you and that you can maintain. I’m a list maker. I would start by listing all the things you need to do, with deadlines. Then, start plugging them into a calendar. For example, the 401K needs to be rolled over by December 31. To give myself a buffer, I’d try to get it done by December 16. I’d pencil it in as a goal for that week, and plan to call about it, say, during my lunch break on December 13. If I get distracted and miss the deadline,’I’ll bump it back to the 14th. Crossing things off of your to-do list feels so good!

      Finally, be kind to yourself. Budgets get blown and healthy resolutions fall apart. It’s too late to hanger what already happened, but you can always make changes moving forward. Every day is a chance to reset. And if it doesn’t work out today? There’s always tomorrow.

      Good luck!

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Set a bed time and keep it.
      I remember when I was at my worst bed time was 9 pm. It was my cut off for the day. (I was going until 2-3 am until I found that was not going to be sustainable.)
      Having a set bed time forced me to prioritize. Things that had deadlines, such as bills got done first. Then I prepped for the next day, clothes/lunch/whatever. I might have time to do a couple other things. Then it was 9 pm, no excuses, off to bed. It worked into that 9 pm was a relief that i looked forward to. I found that I could push myself along because my day ended at 9 no matter what. I slept better, too. It wasn’t that I got everything done. I slept better because I knew I got some things done and tomorrow would be the same, as in I would get some more things done tomorrow.

      1. fposte*

        My tip to send myself to bed–the lights are on timers. I have to make an active effort to turn them back on again if I want to stay up, and it’s usually not worth it.

        1. Gingerblue*

          I am so stealing this idea. (I recently set up routines with an Echo and smartplugs which turn on lights, some quiet music, etc. in the morning to ease me into waking up. Never occurred to me to do the same in the opposite direction!)

      2. LilySparrow*

        Yes to evenings / early bedtime. Taking 10 minutes after dinner to think about tomorrow, and then getting plenty of sleep. You really do feel like you’re ahead of the curve in the morning, instead of playing catch-up all day.

  4. Be the Change*

    Early today! Love of the week?

    Mine is a 1.5 liter orange juice bottle from Einstein Bagel that I have marked in 2 hr increments for water intake. Since my kidney stone 2 wks ago I have been making sure to drink it most days, and oh my gosh. I feel so much happier and more energetic! Was I going around my entire life partially dehydrated before??!

    1. Loopy*

      I’m pretty sure I am always dehydrated! Can I ask how long it took you to notice the difference after hydrating more? I usually never last more than a day when I need to hydrate properly/mindfully and would love to know if I stick with it, I’ll actually *feel* better!

      1. Valancy Snaith*

        When I started drinking tons of water it was about 3 days before I felt Really Good. And that was when I got over the “damn I have to pee all day long” irritation as well.

      2. tangerineRose*

        When I’m working, I keep water by my desk, so I can take a sip when I feel like it. It’s a lot easier to stay hydrated if water is right there.

      3. Be the Change*

        It was quick, within a day or two. And I definitely notice on the days I don’t do the water, I am much quicker to cranky up. Yes, the constant loo trips are not convenient but they do get me out of my chair at reasonable intervals so that’s great too.

        For me, the marked bottle is key, I need that quantitative feedback for motivation.

    2. Buona Forchetta*

      Good for you! It’s crazy how much energy you have when you’re fully hydrated. Takes away the sluggishness and is as good as caffeine to get you going in the morning!

    3. Anono-me*

      I just discovered Garnier’s Pure Clean Detangler and Air Dry Spray.

      It works really well for me. I have lots of very fine hair that I wear long. Even though I like how a blow out looks, I just hate using a hair dryer on my hair. Mostly because it takes so very long to dry. Two sprays on my wet hair and a good brushing, once it is dry and my hair looks almost as good as it does after a blow out.

    4. Aurora Leigh*

      Our new scoopfree automatic litter box! It was half off on a Black Friday sale, and while I still haven’t seen all 3 cats use it consistently, it has absolutely improved our quality of life! It cuts down on the odor so much!

  5. Inspiration-Seeker*

    Anyone have a story about solving chronic boredom? Not like “I started taking salsa on Tuesdays,” but like… turned their whole life around to make it engaging and exciting on a mostly consistently basis?

    1. Loopy*

      I don’t know if I can ever say my life has been engaging and exciting consistently but I’ve felt most fulfilled in terms of feeling my life is full and interesting when I have the following combination (note that this is an ideal built up over time!):

      1) A decently engaged social circle (even a friendly team of coworkers I only see at work does the trick). It doesn’t have to be large, just a few people I text or talk to regularly to ward off isolation/loneliness. It’s usually a mix of family and friends and is usually not more than 3-4 close people between family and friends.

      2) Have one standing outside-of-work thing I do (right now it’s Saturday morning volunteering). This can be a gym routine, volunteering or even weekly nature walk. Just something I can say I do regularly that is isn’t going to work.

      3) Have one thing I’m *really* into (this can vary! sometimes it’s reading tons of books for a stretch, then I get super into baking, and then I get super into a TV show). I let myself dabble and it’s nice not to have pressure of being super good at it or the most knowledgeable but just to try new things.

      Maybe make a list of things that intrigue you and try each out? I like having a new thing to move on to and a list of potential books/TV shows/easy to start hobbies to go through might give you a sense of excitement?

      1. Inspiration-Seeker*

        So you’re saying it’s more about having a few little things to look forward to rather than changing your whole lifestyle or career? That might be good… start small.

        1. Not A Manager*

          I wholly second the idea that dealing with boredom or ennui is more a matter of finding small ways to engage in one’s life than it is about finding One Big Thing that will change everything.

          1. Alice Ulf*

            +1 to small things. Sometimes One Big Thing can happen organically, and that’s great, but–at least for me–I’ve found that when I’m obsessing over One Big Thing, I’m engaging in a sort of magical thinking. As in, if I move HERE everything will be so much better, or if I go back to school for THIS my life will fall perfectly into place. I try to remind myself that one big change won’t really change who I am as a person. But it’s difficult!

        2. Loopy*

          Oh absolutely. I’ve never felt the need to overhaul my life. Adding the above little by little is a less stressful way to fill it up as I go and it allows me to adjust and backtrack as needed. Much more flexible way to do it than looking for a one big thing!

        3. ScotKat*

          Small things can lead to big things. And honestly it will take longer to wait for a big change than to start making little changes.

      2. Zona the Great*

        I mean this totally and honestly: marijuana. It makes me feel like just looking at a coffee table book seem decadent and exciting.

      1. Loux*

        Yes! Have a sense of wonder about everything. It really helps. For example, admire the sunrise or the sunset every day. Each one is something different, even though it occurs every day.

    2. Gingerblue*

      Boredom for me tends to be sign of burnout. If I’m well-rested and not feeling overwhelmed, it’s easier to be interested and engaged in things; when I’m tired and stressed my ability to focus on things I enjoy goes way down. Any chance this is a contributing factor?

    3. Aurora Leigh*

      Get a pet! :)

      My cats and dog enrich my life in so many ways. The dog, especially forces me to get moving and get out of the house — he needs his walks!

    4. Indie*

      For me it was helping people. A couple hours a week volunteering online gave me fulfillment and a sense of purpose. It led to a career change in my case.

      But I recommend checking out Maslow’s hierachy of needs to see where you would position yourself. The theory goes that once your basic needs are met, you become bored and look for ways to further develop yourself. I think boredom is a great sign.

    5. pugs for all*

      You might want to read “The Happiness Project” by GretchenRubin. Although it chronicles her different ways to approach happiness each month, I’ll bet a lot of what she explored would also work for boredom. It too talks about making small changes in your life, not a big overhaul.

      1. Washi*

        Yeah, The Happiness Project and also Daring Greatly by Brene Brown both came to mind, especially the section play in Daring Greatly.

    6. Anon Anon Anon*

      Get out and do stuff. That leads to meetings a lot of people, which opens up all kinds of possibilities. By “stuff,” I mean anything and everything. Try different things for the sake of the experience and have fun.

  6. Rebecca*

    Just saw an ad for Hulu @ 99 cents per month for a year, WOOT!! I have xfinity triple play, and you’d think with all the channels there would be SOMETHING I want to watch, but I only watch basically sports, Gunsmoke reruns, old movies on TCM, and not much else. I tried the On Demand stuff, and there is one show I get a kick out of “The Kids are All Right” but other than that, eh, could leave it. I’d rather listen do other things like read. But I do enjoy Netflix, I can watch things when I feel like watching them, and no commercials. Hulu has limited commercials, and that’s OK, and there are shows on Hulu that I watched at my Daughter’s house that Netflix doesn’t have. I figure for $.99/month plus tax I can enjoy it.

    Now if cable TV would just let us pay for the channels we actually watch instead of bundling 95% of stuff we don’t watch into the mix, and if broadband internet would be a stand alone utility (imagine having to bundle electricity with phone service and something else to get a decent price!), that would be great. **picturing the guy from Office Space standing there with a coffee cup :)

      1. Lore*

        If Ting is available where you are, they are exactly that: cell plans based on usage. If you’re a high data user (over 2gb per month), their pricing might not work for you but I consistently spend between $30
        and $40 a month for all I need. Once in a great while it will be $45 but I think never more.

        1. Rebecca*

          I text a lot, make some phone calls, and have WiFi at home and at work, so Tracfone works for me. I spend on average about $8-$10 per month to have a Samsung smartphone that does all I need it to do! Thanks for the recommendation, though, as my phone gets Triple Minutes for Life, and that went away right after I got it, apparently…so when I get a new phone Tracfone might not be the choice for me any longer. It’s good to see plans where you can pay for what you actually use.

        2. WellRed*

          I plan to look into Ting because I have Sprint but am a bit intimidated. Sounds like I have to swap out the sim card, which frankly I don’t know how to do, but maybe the store can help? Also, does Ting have decent customer service to help.get me started?

          1. Lore*

            Ting has great customer service in my experience. When you go sign up, you tell them what phone you have and they ship you the SIM card. I think it came with model specific instructions on how to install it or maybe it’s on their website. But I’ve been really impressed with both their online chats and their call center staff.

    1. anon today and tomorrow*

      I actually think it’d be more expensive to pay for individual channels in cable packages because companies would start raising the prices and try to copy streaming service pricing. I don’t have cable, but with Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix, it comes out to about $32/total a month. I mean, look at how many companies like Disney or CBS are trying their own standalone streaming packages and how much they cost individually.

      I’m not a fan of cable companies overcharging for internet or packages, but I don’t really think the pay for what you watch would end up working out in the long run.

      I like streaming, but I’ve also found that after awhile I have the same problem I used to have with cable in that there’s a lot of options, but nothing I really want to watch.

      1. Harvey P. Carr*

        “there’s a lot of options, but nothing I really want to watch”

        “I bought a bourgeois house in the Hollywood hills
        “With a truckload of hundred thousand dollar bills
        “Man came by to hook up my cable TV
        “We settled in for the night my baby and me
        “We switched ’round and ’round ’til half-past dawn
        “There was fifty-seven channels and nothin’ on”
        – Bruce Springsteen

        That came out in 1992… today it would be more like, what? 5700 channels and nothin’ on?

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I have Xfinity triple play and I agree. So many sports channels (I don’t watch sports) and other channels I don’t watch. And it’s expensive, too! But I can’t seem to cut the cord with cable for some reason. I’ve thought about it, but can’t bring myself to do it. I also want to add a TV upstairs, but with the age of my house (280+) and the setup, I really can’t run a cable box up there and Xfinity still doesn’t offer the wireless boxes in my area. I’m thinking of a Smart TV so I can stream Xfinity live TV. I’ve never owned one, but I assume it would work the same way I stream it on my computer.

      1. Rebecca*

        I have a Samsung smart tv, and I love it. It connects to my WiFi, no problems. I love sports and don’t watch the other stuff :) If I’m going to pay X dollars a month, I’d sooner have it to toward things I actually would watch. And no antenna here, no reception due to how far away I am from transmitters and the mountains in the way. At least if I could get broadcast channels, and good internet access on its own at a reasonable rate, I’d be able to watch what I wanted to.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Thank you! With all the Black Friday sales going on, I’m thinking I might end up with a small TV before the weekend is over.

          A gripe about Xfinity (other than cost): I basically get almost all the channels, but don’t get CMT. I don’t necessarily care about CMT, but they often have movies on that I love to re-watch when there’s nothing on (which is often!). I seriously have to have the the most expensive plan to get CMT?! Doesn’t make sense to me.

          1. Rebecca*

            My conspiracy theory brain says that cable channels know which channels are watched the most, so they structure the packages so you have to pay the most just to get that one thing. I mean, if most of those channels had to stand on their own merit, and people had to actually pay for them, they’d probably go away.

    3. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      Big week/weekend for cord cutting AND getting back to being able to watch some tv!

      First, I do have stand alone internet… I unbundled and cut the cord 3 months ago. I have business class Comcast (not residential Xfinity). It helps that we are in a mixed residential/commercial area. I have a side gig where I have a business name I can use with it. (We had it before under my husband’s business name… more later on how I negotiated a 70 a month drop)

      I’m getting pretty good prices, especially since they are kinder to new customers (so I have the 1 year deal), and the customer service guy clued me into the fact that I was renting the modem. (Since these archives live forever the prices will change, but … on my plan, it was $15 / month rental, and it turns out, the lower end modem that fits the comcast requirements for the 75, is only $40 on sale at Amazon… so I paid for buying my own modem in just over 2 months). I talked to a couple techie friends, who assured me that the “DOCIS” version I was buying would not be obsolete before I moved in a few years. And took pictures of the hookups and had no problem having the Comcast customer service person talk me through the install.

      And calling comcast to complain that we’d overpaid for a couple years – and were planning to switch to a local internet only provider – got me a manager level rate on the new plan for that 12 months. Plus a credit that paid my bill for a couple months.

      So… all good.
      And yes, I did get the hulu for 99 cents and watched a show on the laptop last night.

      I ordered a black friday roku ultra for the older 32″ tv that I didn’t sell when we financially crashed and burned (when husband died)… so if need be, I can run the ethernet to it if I get too much buffering. (I think… a couple handy friends I can call and trade things to for the help installing if I can’t figure it out). When it gets here I’ll have to see if the funky railroad-train style house poses problems with the wifi. (have had problems in the past, moved the router to on top the kitchen cabinets to get wifi in the living room).

      And dug out the “HD” indoor antenna I bought when I tried to get hubby to cut the cord, and also hooked it up a few days ago – it works great so even if buy a super cheap TV for Mom’s room and hook that up there, she can get the news and over 65 stations. In high def.

      So all told, $50/month for great internet, and I can now watch tv.

      I think it was a reaction to the TV being on 24 hours a day, almost (his every waking hour) – even when I wanted to have important conversations…. that lead me to go completely silent for 3 months. I only hooked it up in the bedroom so far, because I have a bad ulcer (or the flu) this week, and 2 days staring at the wall and throwing up made me stir crazy. And I realized that it’s where I really care about it… traffic news/weather as I’m getting ready for work, and maybe a DIY house/cooking show as I’m snuggled in bed with the doggie and a cup of tea, winding down. A reward, not a lifestyle of distraction.

    4. Artemesia*

      We have basic cable and netflix. My frustration with streaming netflix is the movies are so terrible; it is as if they only put on the worst movie made by any great actor. You see a new movie — and it it stars Harrison Ford, or Kristen Scot Thomas or Anthony Hopkins etc and think ‘how bad could it be?’ And it is terrible — often, ‘turn this off’ terrible.

      Amazon charges separately for all the good movie channels.

    5. Harvey P. Carr*

      “if cable TV would just let us pay for the channels we actually watch instead of bundling 95% of stuff we don’t watch into the mix”

      You mean you don’t watch The Paint Drying Network?

      1. Rebecca*

        LOL!! I periodically scroll through the channel lineup and think – do people actually sit down and watch this stuff? And pay for it?

      2. :-)*

        The Paint Drying Network?

        Non US here, and although I’m afraid I’m making myself ridiculous… that really excists?

    6. Jaid_Diah*

      That sounds pretty good! I’m not a big watcher of hulu, but a buck a month? I can roll with that.

    7. Gatomon*

      Yes, I cut cable ages ago due to being broke, signed up for OTT a few years ago and then cut it again this summer because there wasn’t anything to watch. I now use Prime (because I pay yearly), and then switch off between Hulu, Netflix and Crunchyroll. I use a Tablo for OTA DVR service. I can’t stand ads though so I pay for the higher Hulu package, which isn’t on discount. Sigh.

      I wouldn’t mind OTT but sadly the prices are creeping up to the point where a cable package starts to make more sense. I’ve looked at Spectrum’s streaming service since I have their internet but it seems the price just went up to $45 so blegh.

      Personally I enjoy Netflix’s selection the most, with Hulu and Prime dead last. Crunchyroll is just my Card Captor Sakura itch getting scratched.

    8. Cruciatus*

      I also signed up for this deal–if others plan on doing it, also use ebates! Apparently they offered $10 cash back on Black Friday. As of yesterday I was able to get $5 cash back. I’m still pretty pleased with that!

    1. Rebecca*

      I noticed here we have different games on different ESPN channels, so depending on what game you want to watch, that makes a difference. I only watch certain teams, sometimes if there’s a football game on, I may idly watch it and play games on my phone, but really, there are only certain things I watch. I know I can illegally stream a lot of it, but I would gladly pay for just the channel/time slot if it was reasonable. Like, I wish I could queue up the “Acme Anvils” college team, the “RoadRunner” pro football team, “Tweety Bird” baseball team, and “Sylvester” hockey team, but I can’t. This winter I need to sit down and look at streaming options outside of cable. There has to be something.

    2. Middle School Teacher*

      I have also noticed my local sportspuck team games are on different channels. So I can’t just have the Sportsnet package, because sometimes they play on TSN… or TSN 3… or cbc….

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Friends & I have often wondered why cable doesn’t offer a Geek Pack, ska a Nerd Bundle. No ongoing season sports, but all the science fiction/fantasy & mysteries & documentaries & historic dramas & cartoons & subtitled shows from other cultures for variety.
      If you buy the geek pack, you’d have the right to buy shortterm coverage for the Olympics, World Cup, the Iditarod, and world championships for specific sports–especially the esoteric ones like biathlon. All to be broadcast start to finish with little to no commentary (exception : explanations of rules). All micro documentaries about contestants to be aired before the events begin or after they end for the day.

      I can dream!

      1. Slartibartfast*

        I would watch a lot more sports if I could mute the commentary and just hear the stadium noise. The constant prattle is exhausting.

  7. Decima Dewey*

    I thought I’d post about some of things that make me happy.

    There’s a house on Northbound Street and Glorified Alley with a bunch of whimsical sculptures around it: rabbits reading, a multicolored cat holding a plate with a fish skeleton on it, frogs playing on a slide, a puppy holding a lantern so their cat friend can read, a birdbath with a reclining cat using binoculars to bird watch (ignoring the sparrow sitting on their tail), a frog riding a bicycle… every so often one of the sculptures vanishes and new ones appear.

    Things I’ve seen in Rittenhouse Square: a juggler, a man playing a digeridoo, a big dog doing Civil Disobedience Dog when their owner decided it was time to leave, couples dancing to a recording of Big Band music (couples including a photographer partnering his tripod, and a hipster dad with a baby at his shoulder).

    My very doggy neighborhood. Any time I leave my building I’m sure to see someone walking a dog within a block or two. I’d been in the neighborhood a week or so when a big dog came down the stoop to check me out.

    People with colorful hair: a man with an emerald green beard, women with Crayola yellow and green hair, a patron at my library with neon pink braids with a few ivory colored braids for contrast.

    1. Loopy*

      What great descriptions! I would love to have these things where I live as well! And yes to colorful hair! I adore seeing it now that I can no longer participate in it!

      1. gecko*

        Yes–this post makes me miss Philly so much :) Same with all the Gritty news lately! Makes me wish I were back there :)

    2. EmilyG*

      I’m intrigued because I must live within a block or two of you! (But perhaps we don’t know each other IRL because I’m more of an LC person IYKWIM.) Am I getting the vibe that you’re newish to town? The Rittenhouse lights will go on in a few days and make the square even prettier. I’m also currently loving our batch of new street trees that the Tree Tenders did last weekend.

      1. Decima Dewey*

        I’ve lived here in Philadelphia since 1984. First in West Philly, then in Washington Square West, now in what used to be the Graduate Hospital neighborhood.

        1. EmilyG*

          Ah, when you mentioned being in the neighborhood a week or so, I thought you were newer. You definitely captured something about walking around here. I live on a nearby north-south Glorified Alley and walking on the carriage streets is just about my favorite thing about the city.

    3. Middle School Teacher*

      I love stuff like this. In my city on one of the main drags, there is a guy who rollerblades in shorts, shirtless, and plays the guitar, even in the winter (he wears a hoodie then, I think). And on one of the sketchier streets, there’s a guy dressed like a steampunk Mad Hatter (complete with hat) who walks up and down the street with a walking stick, and occasionally jabs one arm in the air, like he’s going “yeah!” and punctuating it with a defiant gesture.

        1. Middle School Teacher*

          No, I’m in Canada. Which makes shirtless rollerblade guy even more fun because it gets COLD here in winter.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      How fun! In my little New England suburb, a friend who worked overlooking the town green often reported a walker whose regular winter coat was Santa, and his raincoat the full Gloucester fisherman.
      She’s moved, and I find I miss the posts about his whimsy brightening the day.

    5. Free Now (and forever)*

      I love Rittenhouse Square. I’m from Connecticut, but my best friend lives six blocks from Rittenhouse and it’s a regular hangout for her and two dogs, so we always spend time there when I visit.

  8. Ali G*

    Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! I’m hiding in the office with the dog while the nephews freak out about having to go home. I swear this annual visit is the best birth control in the world!

    1. Animal worker*

      I work in a zoo and I say something similar as your last sentence. All it takes is a walk through the zoo on a busy day to reinforce my personal decision to not have kids.

        1. Middle School Teacher*

          Same with Costco. Anytime I feel like I might have missed out on having kids, I go to Costco on Saturday and I get over the feeling really quick :D

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        I can’t have kids due to health issues, so it’s not truly my decision, but sometimes I am really glad I can’t have any. Last weekend, we went to the zoo, and some kid was dragging around a rubber snake on a leash. I didn’t know it at first, so when I stepped back from the polar bear exhibit, I stepped on the snake, and the kid screamed at me. I wasn’t mad at the kid, but I thought it was pretty dumb for a parent to let their kid drag around something that could trip other people or just generally get in other people’s way. On the way out, we encountered a young girl ripping plants out of the ground. Again, kids are going to be kids, but I don’t understand why the parents don’t stop it. They stand there and act like little Sally is over there splitting atoms instead of destroying someone else’s property.

    2. Jessica (tc)*

      My husband and I have shorthand for these situations. We start with BC101 (BC = birth control), but the course number goes up based on how egregious the behavior we’re witnessing is.

  9. Laura H.*

    Just finished a lovely cookie and am about to start on a hot tea at my favorite breakfast place near my J word. So nice to relax a bit. Have a great weekend!

  10. Emily*

    In the spirit of the cat photo above, I bring you a true story from my life.

    Last night, my family and some friends from out of state drove an hour away for a steak dinner. It was tasty. I came home with a brand new cat.

    I have named him Kinky Boots, on account of the thigh high white stockings he sports on his back legs, and I’m taking him to the vet for a health check up this afternoon. Accidental pet acquisition: achieved.

      1. Emily*

        The restaurant is owned by my sister in law’s grandparents, and they told me that his original owner moved, and left him here. He’d been hanging out around the restaurant ever since. There is almost nothing that infuriates me more than people abandoning their pets!

        After dinner I was waiting out front, and he came up to me and immediately started nuzzling and purring. He let me pick him up without any protest, started making biscuits in my sweater. Grandma H said that he needed a home.

        Mom was like, “I mean, you ARE an adult. If you want him, you can have him.” Which turns out, totally true. Adulthood rocks.

        Cat + me + four other people + truck + an hour drive = Happily Ever After ™

        He spent fully 20 minutes parked on my shoulder purring like mad on the drive.

        1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

          Congratulations!!! Saw a lovely kitty sitting outside the hospital/clinic near me (not a residential area at all!), but I had an appointment – when I came out, she/he was gone. I have 3 friendly cats who hang out in my backyard and help to keep the Garage/barn/loft office mouse free… but no cat of my own. Current doggie doesn’t understand cats and is near death… so I’ll wait to bring one home until she’s gone. Or one adopts me. I haven’t had a kitty since my most beloved first pet, “Amanda Blake” (the actress that played “Miss Kitty” on Gunsmoke) died… probably before most of you were born. I’ve been a dog person ever since. I think I’d like to have one of each.

      2. Thanks For Nothing*

        Ali G, also a musical theater reference to a wildly popular musical of the same name ;-)

        I have a Faust and a Figaro myself and grew up with a Steinway. Music related animal names: achieved

        1. Slartibartfast*

          I had a Siamese acquired around 1985 named Prince. Dad wanted me to name him Caruso but I didn’t know who that was. Shortly thereafter he met the lady who would be his second wife, her cat was named Caruso. The cats got along really well too.

    1. Jersey's mom*

      My thanksgiving is a bunch of friends who do a potluck. Went to the hosts house, and he has a cat. Said cat hung out and begged for petting all night. At one point, kitty was perched on the back of an easy chair, meowing at the person seated. She tried to paw at the head of my friend, and promptly lost her balance, tumbled onto the arm of the chair, then bounced off the arm to the floor. With typical cat nonchalance, she stood up, locked a paw and hopped onto the couch. The entire room burst into laughter and I’m sureally there were damp panties when the laughing was done.

    2. A.N. O'Nyme*

      “Accidental pet acquisition” is a great way of phrasing it and I’m stealing it :p.
      My own cat adopted me, too. He basically showed up in our yard one day and decided THIS IS MY HOME NOW THANKS HOOMINS.
      We’re not sure where he came from (it seems like he was a pet as well, had a little anti-flea collar and everything but it was so worn it almost fell off on its own) but we suspect his previous owners just kinda…Left (either moved or on holiday) and left him behind.
      Never seen a cat gobbling down food like he did when we first starting feeding him. Luckily now that he knows he has a safe and warm home he doesn’t eat that much or that fast anymore.

      1. Thanks For Nothing*

        We’re pretty sure one of our former cats just . . . . decided to adopt another family :-(

        She was our “anchor pet,” the pet we got when we were pretty secure in our relationship, a feisty torti female we named Serenity (she was not serene, not by a long shot). Over the course of 10 years, we added three children, a 2nd cat (of similar age), a young dog, and moved three times. As many cats do, she utterly detested all the changes but the one she really couldn’t tolerate was the final move; from a 2 bedroom apartment to a 2 story victorian home. You would have thought we’d deposited her in a torture house from her attitude about it.

        She slipped out the door one day, never to be seen again. For months, I watched the road sides for evidence of a car strike, searched alleyways and empty lots but never saw any sign of her. She had a collar with her name on it and was a friendly cat when she wasn’t annoyed with her living circumstances. Either she was victim of a big and determined bird, or she simply showed up at someone’s house and expected them to take care of her.

        1. A.N. O'Nyme*

          Oh no! I’m so sorry!
          We did everything we could to find the owner (asking around in the neighbourhood, contacting animal protection, took him to the vet to see if he had a chip…) but nothing yielded any results. By the time we got him to the vet the legal term for stray adoption had also passed (I think it’s fifteen days?) so we decided to keep him. He already got along well with our other cat – we suspect they’re of similar age.

        2. Juniper*

          One of my cats adopted a family two doors down. I see her from time to time, and she’s happier there. It’s ok; they love animals and my other cat insists on being an only cat.

    3. PhyllisB*

      Something similar happened to a friend of mine. She went to Walmart and was heading home when she heard meowing. At first she thought she was imagining things, but finally she stopped to check and there was a cat that had managed to get in a wheelwell and not get hurt. So now she has a new cat. Her husband was…not happy because they already had four cats, but when she said, “so you want me to take him back to Walmart?” he relented. He’s a big softie, too. And they both say he’s the most loving cat they’ve ever had.

    4. Emily*

      Update: Here is a small imgur album of Kinky Boots (also called Kibs now), for the curious:


      I had to take him back to the vet this morning, because it turns out he came with a free UTI, but he’s getting meds and he’s gonna be fine :) My girlfriend and I gave him a bath last night and he was grumpy about it, but he still loved me this morning so I think we’re gonna get along alright <3

  11. Kate Daniels*

    What are some fun holiday traditions you have? I think I want to do a book and chocolate exchange with some friends in December. The comments on a post also made me wonder: do you tend to celebrate Thanksgiving/Christmas/etc. on the “official” day, or on another day instead?

    1. Red Reader*

      I do Thanksgiving on the Saturday of the holiday weekend (so, like, today!) instead of Thursday, so people can do both family stuff and my Feast (hopefully. I mean, some folks have enough family stuff that it still doesn’t work, but I try :) ) so here in about five hours, I’ll have 18 people in my house eating turkey, lasagne, two kinds of potatoes, six kinds of veggies, two kinds of dressing, biscuits, cranberry sauce, four kinds of pie, brownies and cake. (Appetizers of spinach artichoke dip, savory hummus and sweet hummus, and possibly deviled eggs too.)

      1. I*

        I got a stomach ache just reading thar, but in a “I’d be so full and happy” kinda way. That all sounds fantastic.

        1. Red Reader*

          It turned out really well :) we actually only had 14, a couple of no-shows and a couple last minute who were sick, and I forgot to turn on the crockpot with the green bean casserole or to get the cranberry sauce out of the fridge, but everything that made it to the buffet was really good and well received and I had a blast. (And leftover brownies for breakfast.)

    2. Sparkly Librarian*

      I celebrate on Xmas Eve with the extended family, and do Xmas morning with my parents and sister (and my wife, and my sister’s boyfriend, and sometimes my sister-in-law who’s at college near my folks). Those are pretty much required, in my chosen holiday tradition. But the evening of the 25th is more flexible — sometimes I stick around and help my mom make dinner for 8-10 at her place, and sometimes my wife and I head up to our friends’ place for their traditional Chinese food and karaoke potluck. I expect when we have a child/ren, it will flex even more, and that might be a just-our-little-family time. And then last year I started going to music camp the days leading up to New Year’s, so that might be the best time for my wife to see her family.

    3. Cruciatus*

      We celebrate when we can. Usually it’s the actual day, but there have been times we’ve had to delay for one reason or another–we do not celebrate the religious aspects of the holidays. Since we were kids, Santa leaves rhyming clues for our presents with our stockings. My sister and I still go around the house to find stuff before the rest of the family is up on Christmas Day (and we are waaaaay beyond being kids now. I’ll just put it that way. Our adventure is shorter these years, and we don’t wake up at 4am anymore but I still love this tradition). While it’s not as important now, the gifts Santa left were never wrapped. I remember being horrified that Santa wrapped gifts at my friends’ houses. Those were the gifts we were allowed to play with until the annoying adults finally woke up to unwrap presents! I think Santa at my house was more clever than Santa at other houses… I don’t want to think about the day this tradition no longer exists.

      Also fun, though it’s a new tradition (is that an oxymoron?) is with my friend and her family. I saw the Saran Wrap challenge on Facebook a few years ago and now we love to do that as well as the challenge with a gift inside a box that is wrapped. And wrapped. And wrapped. And wrapped. And taped. And taped. And taped. And you’re wearing oven mitts trying to open all of these things. It doesn’t even matter what the gift is–we all get surprisingly competitive and it’s a riot! You can find both of the challenges on YouTube if you want to see what they are.

    4. Pam*

      Books and chocolate- brilliant! We did early Thanksgiving with family in Idaho, then came back home for a Chinese food Thanksgiving.

  12. SignalLost*

    Naming new characters today. I feel like the time has come to take writing seriously again, so major goals for next year are to edit book 1 of 2, outline and start book 2, and then this book, which isn’t even in the same universe at all but is probably best described as a mashup of Connie Willis’s Fire Watch, a dream I had, creeping fascism, Rachel Summers, and a smidge of Harry Potter and 1984. (As usual, I dislike half my influences intensely.) So, to names for the main characters and thence to outline and thence to a soundtrack.

    I already know the male main character is Theo Someone; I’ll probably flip through an old phone book later and see what strikes me. He’s very straightforward as a character – sense of superiority over almost everyone else, arrogant, yet willing to do the absolute unexpected – at one point, he hid out from his overbearing family as a young man by becoming a line cook in a moderately nice restaurant for about a year and living in a neighborhood his parents thought should be razed with the people in it.

    The female main is proving harder, in part because her personality is a study in contradictions – like, she’s highly competent as long as she doesn’t think about it. She has a lot of self confidence, but doesn’t think she should. She has an overinflated sense of responsibility that she runs from even though she’s met everyone’s standards – when she ran away from her friends and family, she joined a foreign military and had what she felt were unacceptable casualties on a mission. She recovered the bodies and personally contacted every family and then went AWOL forever because she should have done better. She’s actually a lot of fun to write, but the name she had in the past no longer works and I want something unusual. It’s complicated by the fact that it needs to have an obvious but uncommon nickname – like, if her name was Ursula, her nickname could logically be Ur – so that Theo can make a pointed insult of not using it. Jennifer/Jen doesn’t work for this.

    How’s everyone else’s writing coming?

    1. Thanks For Nothing*

      I’ve been stalled on a scene for two days and accomplished exactly nothing. Time to move on and develop something else for awhile!

      In the kind of projects I write, having exact names upfront isn’t always necessary – at the moment, I have two MOTHER/FATHER sets, a SON, a DAUGHTER, and a GIRL, along with various job titles in place of names. I will write with those stand in descriptors until a name comes to me and it’s quite possible that some of these people will not have real names until very late in the project. In the case of a recently completed project, one person did not get their name until 60 pages into a 90 page limit. Conversely, I knew names for two people in that story from the first day of writing.

      1. SignalLost*

        I didn’t bother to name my main character with his final name (still haven’t, actually) in the duology I referenced, and it’s gotten very hard to not think of him as Matt, the stand-in name I gave him so I wasn’t just writing MC everywhere (fun fact: his initials are MC) so I think I need to at least nail that down this time. Because let me tell you, Matt and his best friends Cesh, Kalya, Mayjii, Cechela, and Andan … one of these names stands out. (Obviously it’s Cesh.)

        1. Turnip-face*

          I feel so dumb, as I’m sure it’s obvious and just gone straight over my head, but I don’t get your last sentence at all! The effects of not enough sleep…

          1. For Onde*

            It’s a joke – compared to the other names given, Matt is the one that stands out so saying it’s Cesh isn’t meant seriously.

          2. SignalLost*

            Just that I don’t think Matt fits with the other names. :) I had more time to come up with the others.

      2. Anonomo*

        I am very much a fan of Old People names, like Florence (Flossy, she will HIT YOU if you call her Flossy to her face though) or Maxine or Clarence lol. I hate names though, since I dont write in order. Ill write a few chapters with character 1 being Maxine, forget I called her Maxine and in a month have written character 1 as Drusilla. Then I get to go back and fix one or the other to the correct name and in 2 months Character 1 is suddenly Wilma and the process repeats! Lol

        1. SignalLost*

          I knew someone who changed names from Pepper to something else, but didn’t do a case sensitive search so someone later sprinkled Deirdre all over their meal. :)

    2. A.N. O'Nyme*

      My own writing is going pretty well, actually. Got a few kinks worked out.
      As for naming characters, I usually pick names with some sort of meaning – like a fire mage named “Ignatius”, for example, or a detective named “Bruce” (as a nod to Bruce Wayne).

    3. LizB*

      My goal for today is 10k words because I’m pretty far behind on NaNo, and that will bump me up to being a couple days ahead of par. So far I’ve got 3500 and it’s only noon my time, so that’s not bad! I do keep forgetting the names I’ve chosen for some of my side characters, though, and I don’t feel like digging back through my work to find them, so I’m just putting them in parentheses right now, like [boyfriend] and [cousin] and stuff. Half of them will probably get renamed eventually anyway, I named too many characters things that are pretty similar to each other.

    4. Claire*

      I was just reading a book where the MC’s (assumed) name is Wilhelmina. She goes by Minnie, but when someone asks her why Minnie, she replies, What, would you have me call myself Hel? Just a thought.

      I’m currently in between projects, which means I’m extra cranky. I’m dithering over possible plots for two different books, plus a third novel is singing its siren song. SF/Mystery? Epic fantasy? A version of Mansfield Park with magic and polyamory?

    5. Tau*

      How’s everyone else’s writing coming?

      oh god why did I sign up for Yuletide what was I THINKING what have I DONE and then why did I decide to go all-out with a fic with a freaking plot instead of just a one-shot aaaaaaaah

      The above is basically what’s been going through my head for the last few weeks. IDK, during Yuletide sign-ups I just sort of breezily went “oh yeah, since I’m having surgery I’ll be stuck in hospital for about a week and then off sick for another week that gives me loads of time for writing!!” without… quite… considering that maybe I won’t really be in the mood for writing in this situation. Oops?

      Anyway, your book sounds very interesting, and good luck with naming! I always find naming extremely annoying, especially when my characters insist on things like nicknames.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I’ve been NaNoWriMo’ing the sequel to Tunerville.. I wrote 3,299 words today. I’m at 49,247. Only 753 words left to hit the NaNoWriMo goal!

      The book is not done yet, and probably won’t be for another 25-30K words, but I’ve got more behind me than ahead of me. And it’s not going badly, but I have a LOT of work to do. Right now, I’m just trying to get the story down. I’ll fix everything I skimmed over later. God, I hate writing first drafts. I wish I could just download the contents of my head. :P But blogging it helps keep me accountable.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Me too! I end up envisioning beautiful vistas and amazing dialogue.
        Then I write it down and it looks like it was written by a six-year-old (including the grammatical errors and using 47 different tenses in 5 lines).

  13. SheLooksFamiliar*

    I spent the holiday week with my brother and SIL, and their 8 cats – 4 flame point meezers, 3 glossy black cats, and a little tortie that rules with an iron paw. My eyes are swollen and tearing up, I’m still covered in hives and scratching like crazy, I’m wheezing and sneezing – and I can’t remember the last time I was this happy.

    Hoping everyone had a wonderful holiday!

      1. SheLooksFamiliar*

        Glad I could do that! I love cats but am highly allergic to them. My SIL sanitized my room but I couldn’t resist cuddling the kitties, especially the meezers. They have such great personalities and are SO affectionate! Pretty sure I’ll be okay if I dope up on Benedryl this weekend, but the itching and scratching are worth it.

          1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

            had to look up meezers… Not as familiar with breeds (had only a long haired tortie)… but adorable!

  14. Anon anony*

    My LDL cholesterol is high, apparently. I have started to work out and watch what I eat. Would this help improve it?

    1. Rebecca*

      It helped me. I was taking Simvastatin (not sure of the spelling) for a while, but I walk and watch what I eat, and get other exercise, and my cholesterol straightened itself out and I’m off the meds, for now. Age, mid 50’s!

    2. Ruffingit*

      I lowered my cholesterol significantly by eating oatmeal every day for breakfast for several weeks. About to start doing that again.

      1. I*

        What kind of oatmeal do you eat? And do you add anything to it? I’ve been thinking about going to an oatmeal breakfast, as I’ve realized that I do need something warm to eat in the morning, but I prefer savory breakfasts (and don’t love eggs).

        1. Sconnie*

          For me oatmeal has a neutral flavor. I would experiment and try adding the spices and flavors you prefer.

        2. LilySparrow*

          We like oatmeal with some peanut butter and apple sauce mixed in: a little sweet, a little salty, but without just dumping salt or sugar in.

    3. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      the Mayo clinic site has good and trustworthy information, too. I’m in health care indirectly, and it’s my go to site for sending family and friends for solid summaries (even though I have licensed access to every online journal).

    4. Kuododi*

      In my experience….most definitely!!! I’ve been working with a nutritionist for the past 3-3.5 months as well as working out at the Y. (Cardio and light weights). As of last Wednesday check in with the Endocrinologist, my LDL/HDL is only 2 or 3 points from “normal limits.” ( Used to be so high that it wouldn’t register on a lab report. ) My A1C is down to 5.6 from 7.8 and I’ve dropped 31 lbs so far. I can’t recommend exercise and positive nutrition strongly enough!!! Best wishes!!!

    5. Hello gorgeous!*

      Cheerios. Seriously, eat more fiber and walk for 20 min a day.
      Your body breaks down fiber using bile salts, and it makes the bile salts out of cholesterol, (which your body also made from saturated fats). So sreduce saturated fats, and est more fiber, this should work on both ends to reduce your cholesterol.

    6. Cindy Featherbottom*

      Yes!!! Please exercise and eat well. It is ALWAYS what we recommend to patients first line for *most* health conditions (I’m a health care provider). It’ll take time to see improvement but improvement will happen! And I second the suggestion to go to the Mayo Clinics website. They keep their information up to date and its very helpful. Keep us posted!!

  15. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread!
    NaNoWriMo crowd: You’re almost there! Keep going, you can do it!
    In general: how do y’all do your research? Do you have a favourite location to do it? Do you have a certain thing you always use as starting point (for example Wikipedia)? When are you satisfied with your research?

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I just start googling and look for the most official-looking sources. Sometimes, if I know someone whom I know knows about something I want to know, I ask them. Lots of books, too. I have tons and keep them around, unless they get really out of date, and then I get rid of them.

      I’ve reached out to law enforcement and other folks before. The FBI has a media office for just this purpose; they’re portrayed so often in film and TV that they are happy to help writers. I did this for my bank robber book.

      What I usually do is call and tell them my name and that I’m doing research for a writing project (I wrote to the FBI). I ask if there is someone I can talk to and if I can make an appointment to do so. I’m always very upfront about what I’m doing, and I try not to bother anyone until I’ve already exhausted all other resources.

      Once, I went on the darkweb looking for stuff criminals would want (like burner phones). That was a little nerve-wracking. I didn’t want to click on anything that would bring feds down on me so I stayed far, far away from any forums. I also didn’t want to run across anything I couldn’t unsee.

  16. The Other Dawn*

    I had the lumbar medial branch block this past Monday. It’s a diagnostic test to determine if I’d be a candidate for radio frequency ablation for my chronic back pain. They inject a long-acting anesthetic over the nerve branches coming off the facet joints in the spine. If the pain stops, then it means the pain is coming from the joints and I’m a candidate. If the pain isn’t affected, then that’s not where the pain if coming from.

    So I went in for the procedure and they did eight injections–four on each side of the spine. It didn’t hurt anywhere near as much as the epidural cortisone injections I had earlier in the year. There was a bit of discomfort, but that was it. I was out in 20 minutes, measured from the time they called me from the lobby to the time I left. I then had to go home and do all the things that would normally aggravate the pain, which was pretty easy for me since it’s sitting. I had to keep a pain log for five hours and report the level of pain and the percentage of improvement.

    I sat at my home desk for FOUR HOURS mostly without back pain. That’s huge for me. My hips and upper legs ached from sitting from so long, but almost no back pain. When I got up from my desk for the bathroom and a few other things, I actually felt the sciatic nerve pinching every time I took a step with my left leg, but didn’t feel all the other pain I normally feel. I guess the pain coming from the joints (and not knowing it) kind of skewed how I was feeling and I just assumed it was all from the sciatic nerve. The anesthetic wore off by Tuesday night, which is what is supposed to happen, but it was a somewhat blissful couple of days!

    I went into it without really any hope that it work since I know that I have a pinched sciatic nerve from two bulging discs and other things haven’t worked. Well, it DID work! It also made me realize that I have pain not only from that nerve, but from the joints as well. Overall, I would estimate I got about a 75% reduction in pain.

    I go back for my follow-up in a couple weeks, so I plan to tell them I want the ablation. Something that I’m curious about, though, is how do they know which nerve to kill? They did eight injections spanning the L2 through L5, so how would they know which one to kill?

    1. strangebuttrue*

      Great update. Was thinking about you as I did my exercises. PT has been helpful but hasn’t cured it all and I’m to continue to do it for 2 more months. Apparently it’s a 3 month program. Good thing I don’t work because it would be difficult to get down on the floor every 2 hours. Ortho doc for followup next week so will add a shot to see if it takes care of the rest of my issues.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Good luck! I hope it works for you. PT only did so much for me. Sometimes it will help a bulging disc go back into place, but mine didn’t.

        I was talking with a coworker during the week. She has the same kind of pain I have, although I’m not sure if it’s the same diagnosis. Anyway, we got to talking about how, on Tuesday when I went back to work, I felt more like my old self, was perkier, and didn’t feel physically and mentally exhausted by the end of the day. She said she noticed it just in the few minutes we were talking and that I seemed different, like i was feeling better. I apparently got so used to the pain that I didn’t realize how much of a toll it’s taking on me. I told her that sometimes I wonder if I’m just being a baby and that everyone feels back pain after sitting for 10-20 minutes, that it’s normal. I guess I just don’t really know what “normal” is anymore.

    2. fposte*

      Wow, that’s really interesting, Dawn. As a fellow back person I’ve been paying keen attention to your journey here. I don’t know the answer to your nerve question but I hope you’ll report back if you find out!

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Well, I was just Googling (of course!) and found that they can actually ablate several nerves at once. During the procedure they’ll place a needle near the nerve they think is affected and deliver a small amount of electrical current, and if it’s the right one it should recreate the pain and make the muscle jump. I’ll ask all about it when I go for the follow-up, though.

    1. WellRed*

      Five days off, visiting family.
      Worst: my aunt drove us here and I just learned she has been passing out on ocassion. It’s a four hour drive : /

      1. PJM106*

        And why would you allow her to drive? Did you mean that you found out after the fact? That sounds extremely dangerous and irresponsible to put others in so much danger having someone behind the wheel who passes out. I don’t know if you were just trying to be funny, but putting other’s lives at risk really isn’t funny.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          I took it to mean that WellRed didn’t know that until after the aunt drove them four hours to their current location. I didn’t sense any attempt at humor there.

        2. Indigo Girl*

          Wow, that’s a very aggressive response. It reads to me that the aunt drove them there, and then the passing out came to light. And now Well Red is concerned. Hence them listing this as their “worst”!

          Maybe try asking for clarification before you decide to attack? Or try not jumping to the most negative interpretation possible?

      2. Observer*

        Wow! That IS bad.

        Have you been able to find another way home? Do you drive- can you ask her to let you take the wheel?

      1. Enough*

        Best – Va Tech beat UVA and will now play Marshall to try to be bowl eligible. They are at 25 years in a row, second longest current streak. FSU is at 36 but not likely going to a bowl at 5-7.
        Worst – My daughter can’t go to the game. She has a friend on the Marshall coaching team and Va Tech is the family school. But her brother will be there (class of ’08).

    2. Jaid_Diah*

      *Worst*Planning for eating Thanksgiving dinner with the folks, but getting home too late from watching Fantastic Beasts to actually eat dinner (turkey wouldn’t have been finished cooking until nine PM). I did get a plate of stuff to take home.
      *Best* Going to the water park Sahara Sam’s on Black Friday. Water in the main pool and kiddie fun area could have been warmer, but the lazy river and warming tub was lovely.

    3. Anon anony*

      Best: Having 4 days off! (Hasn’t happened since the summer!)

      Worst: We’re supposed to get snow tomorrow here in the Midwest…. hoping it won’t be that bad.

    4. :-)*

      Best: Went to the Opera the past week: Satyagraha (composed by Philip Glass). Fantastic experience! thanks to the choreography by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and the amazing performances of all the dansers, singers, and orchestra.

      Worst: Healthwise this wasn’t the best week for me, the visit to the opera was even in danger for a while (so glad that it made a turn for the better so I could go).

      1. Windward*

        Ooh, I sang chorus in Satygraha in concert (i.e. not staged) eons ago. And by eons I mean we used copies of his handwritten score rather than a published version. I can still sing snippets of it. So glad you liked it!

    5. Emily*

      Worst: My academic advisor gave me a stern talking-to this week about my lack of progress on my first paper and dissertation plans. (His frustration is deserved – I don’t know if I’m just not motivated enough, or if some kind of executive function issues are coming into play, or probably both, but I am doing a rubbish job at turning thoughts into concrete plans and actions.) He gave me a set of goals to achieve by our next meeting and said that he would be very unhappy with me if I came without those tasks accomplished.

      Best: Thanksgiving and the day after! I was alone for Thanksgiving this year, and while it felt a little strange at first, I had a very pleasant day: I made kimchi stew, watched some episodes of the new She-Ra, went for a run (saw many cardinals and geese!), and did some cleaning in my apartment. On Friday, I went to a Friendsgiving/game night, which was fun and made me feel less unusual for not doing Thanksgiving things on the previous day.

    6. Catherine*

      Best: Friday was my first full day off in seven weeks.

      Worst: caught a cold on Wednesday so I had to spend my precious day off recovering.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      BEST: Seeing some family on T-Day, knowing I’ll reach the NaNoWriMo word count five days early, and spending time with my sangha.

      WORST: Every time I see a halfway decent-looking guy who is my type-ish, he has a great big fat wedding ring on. :P
      Also, I had some weird pain in the middle of my back, to the right of my spine. It kind of went through under my ribs and got up to about a 4 or 5 so I called my doctor. I have an appointment on Monday.
      And of course, like the noise your car makes, the pain is now gone. :P

      1. StellaBella*

        Not to diagnose, but to cover all the bases …When you are at the doctor ask about lipase and gall bladder function and enzymes, when getting other tests, Sounds like what I had before gall stones were an issue.

    8. StellaBella*

      Best: most stuff shipped/moved home. Seeing friends for last dinners. Got a rental car, and went to airport to figure out timing – from rental car return on the shuttle to the terminal; from the terminal to check in to security and the process, and asked about the security procedures – the people were very nice, I am traveling with my cat in the cabin of the plane. So am feeling confident there that logistics are sorted.
      Worst: need a job soon. And stupid things like slamming finger in rental car door (not broken but damaged and black/blue and painful), cat barfing on me – literally running onto couch, leaning over and hoarking on me; and dropping and shattering my phone screen. So minor but so annoying.

  17. Sunflower*

    Can someone recommend a sparkling water machine/maker for small spaces? I’ve seen mixed reviews on Soda Stream and ideally would like something for a single person in a small apartment while being mindful of the cost of carbonation replacements. I live NYC so between the bottle deposits, limited availability and having to lug bottles home, I’m not entirely worried about the time it will take to make back my investment. Just looking for something reliable that won’t break in a year!

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I bought a Soda Stream when my partner first moved in with me and it’s been great, so I’d still recommend that one despite the mixed reviews. I was living in a tiny studio in NYC, I only drink flat water, and I got tired of lugging seltzer bottles home and watching them pile up on the floor. I bought it on eBay so I got a great deal. If you subscribe to Bed Bath and Beyond, you can use the coupons for your cartridge exchange. My partner changes the cartridge every two or three months; he works mostly from home and drinks a LOT of seltzer.

      1. Teach*

        I bought a Soda Stream at the thrift shop and see them in the housewares section frequently! Low initial investment and swapping out canisters at BB&B have made this a fairly frugal item.

    2. CAA*

      I got my Dad’s Soda Stream when he died. I wasn’t sure I wanted it, but my Mom really wanted to get rid of it for some reason, so I took it. It turns out I use it a few times a week. Dad liked all their different soda flavors, but I just drink sparkling water, sometimes with a packet of True Lime or True Grapefruit for a little flavor with no calories or artificial sweetener. You can replace the cartridges at BevMo or Bed, Bath & Beyond. The large size cartridge lasts me over a year.

    3. This Daydreamer*

      I love my SodaStream and it really doesn’t take up much space at all. I’ve pretty much stopped using their syrups and use Torani instead, and the others are right that you can save money by exchanging the co2 canisters at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. I just wish I could find an energy drink syrup that doesn’t have artificial sweeteners in it.

    4. pcake*

      Some Soda Stream machines are bigger than others, but they’re mostly vertical, not horizontal, so they have a pretty small footprint. They’re also more cost effective than the soda machines that use the little aluminum single serve gas thingies.

    5. AcademiaNut*

      I have the soda stream and am quite happy with it – it doesn’t take up much space, and it costs me about $15 for 60L of fizzy water. I actually keep one on my desk at work as well. I’m still using the original, basic model unit, which I bought at least 7 years ago.

      I pretty much only do sparkling water though, as one of the reasons I have it is to avoid sugary drinks.

    6. LemonLyman*

      Love my Soda Stream! I like that you can choose how much or little of carbonation you add to the water. I like mine very carbonated and no extra flavors. Sometimes I’ll pour 1/4 – 1/2 glass of kombucha and the rest carbonated water for flavor and probiotics.

    7. Isotopes*

      My sister-in-law has the Soda Stream and she buys the smaller bottles for it. She really enjoys it a lot. She only uses it for sparkling water, no flavourings. She admits that it’s a little more expensive than she’d like for the replacement cartridges, but the convenience of it makes it worthwhile.

  18. KonMari, anyone?*

    Anyone else doing KonMari? I am, kind of piecemeal. Just finished my tops!

    Tips for organizing along the way? I know you’re supposed to use shoeboxes or other boxes. What did you do for the closet?

    1. fposte*

      I have a big built-in closet at the end of my room; I just used shelf dividers and turned everything on its side.

    2. Isotopes*

      I shifted things around a little bit. I also ended up hanging a lot more than what she recommends, but I have 3 closets so it made sense to do it that way.

      I think the hardest thing for me was being really honest about what I wanted/needed to keep. I can be a bit of a packrat, and sentimental about certain things. I really took to heart the idea that if something doesn’t bring you joy, try to get it into the hands of someone who will really enjoy it. Also, the whole “thank it for whatever joy it’s brought to you” was…a bit hippy dippy, but really helped me to reframe the idea of “getting rid” of things.

      For organizing along the way, I’d say really try to just tackle one particular thing at a time. If it’s clothes, do ALL clothes – including jackets, accessories, old underwear and socks, fancy party dresses, the whole thing. If you do it little bit by little bit, it’s a lot more difficult, and I found when I did it that way, I always ended up hanging on to WAY more, and then getting rid of extra things later.

      Best to devote an entire day to something. Even if it’s JUST clothes – make sure it’s ALL the clothes. It’s why I haven’t gotten to my media yet – between CDs, DvDs, VHS, and books, it’s just…too much. So rather than trying to do bits and pieces, I’m just gearing myself up to tackle it all.

      Although if going bit by bit is working for you, that’s awesome, too.

  19. AvonLady Barksdale*

    Need a gift idea, please! My partner’s father (we’ll call him FIL) is going through a divorce. This is not a bad thing– he’s been miserable for years. (Also, this is not from my partner’s mother; they divorced 30 years ago. This is the second wife after her. The man likes to get married. This is a whooooole other story.) His soon-to-be-ex moved out and took a lot of stuff, including most of the kitchen tools. We visited for Thanksgiving and the whole place has gone from horribly cluttered to just a little too spare. (She took every. single. chest of drawers. Including ones that he had before he met her. She’s a piece of work.)

    I’d like to get him something for his kitchen but I’m not sure what. He cooks, but it’s not a hobby or anything, so he doesn’t need to make anything elaborate or involved. She took the food processor, but he says he doesn’t need one (and I may just give him my 3-cup Pro Plus when we move in the spring/summer). I needed to grate something while I was there but she took the box grater, but it seems like a waste to give such a man a bunch of kitchen tools. He only has small paring knives for chopping, so maybe a knife block?

    I kind of want to get him an Instant Pot. We don’t have one, but everyone I know raves about them. For someone who doesn’t enjoy the process of cooking, I think it might be a good idea; he can throw in some ingredients, turn on a button and have pasta pretty quickly, right? So tell me– if you were a 70-year-old bachelor who cooks basic stuff and has a basically empty kitchen, which would be better for you, a set of knives or an Instant Pot?

    1. Ktelzbeth*

      I am younger and love to cook, so take my opinion for what it’s worth. I’d go with the knives because otherwise he’ll have trouble getting things the right size to go in the Instant Pot.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        That’s my problem– I love to cook, so I would go for the knives too, and I have absolutely no idea if that’s expense that would be wasted on someone who has non-kitchen hobbies. :)

        1. Middle School Teacher*

          You can get some decent knives for not a lot of money. Mine are paderno and I love them. I think the whole set (6 knives with covers) was less than $80, and they’re holding up really well.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          One chef’s knife, a cutting board, and a diamond stone. That lsst is a bonus if he’s into woodworking because a diamond stone can be used for chisels as well as kitchen tools.

      2. Ktelzbeth*

        And truly, I only use two knives, a chef’s knife and a utility knife, so a whole knife block probably isn’t needed for someone whose enthusiasm for cooking isn’t huge. Occasionally a paring knife, but more often my utility knife for even the small tasks. If you want to expand, a small and large saucepan and a small and large skillet/frying pan. Oh, a cutting board for the knives. That covers probably 90% of what I use in the kitchen, with the remainder being things I have because they make specific tasks easier, rather than possible. (By which I mean something like a lemon juicer. Sure, you can hand squeeze the lemon, but the gizmo is easier.)

        1. LemonLyman*


          I do 95% of the cooking in our house and I get away with a chefs knofe (we eat vegetarian, so I might want one more if I was prepping meat). Don’t spend money on a whole set. There are good inexpensive knives out there.

    2. families!*

      Maybe he has this already, but a set of basic non-stick pots and pans that you can get at Target or Macy’s? They served me well until I really got into cooking and wanted some more specialized cookware. I received a knife block before I got into cooking and to tell you the truth pretty much never used them, didn’t even know what to do with most of the knives.

    3. WellRed*

      Knives. I personally find the idea of the InstaPot a little out there. I will have to get over that eventually.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        InstantPot is really nice during heat waves–plug it in outside and sautée out there. Throw rice & water in on top for a spicy Thai one pot or plov.

    4. Madge*

      I would get him a starter kitchen in a box sort of gift vs an instant pot. Yes, the IP is simple and convenient but it takes a certain amount of cooking enjoyment and know-how or willingness to experiment to get it to work for what you want.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I have an InstantPot and would agree with this. There’s still prep work to be done, finding recipes that truly are simple (they can actually get a little complicated for this pot, believe it or not), and learning how to use the different settings.

        I’d say get some basic items, like a pot and pan set, some cheaper knives and maybe a small slow cooker.

    5. LizB*

      Knives, or just a decent chef’s knife if all he’s using is paring knives. A big set of knives might be overwhelming, but a good all-purpose knife and a block to keep it in sounds right.

    6. CAA*

      I’d go with the knives. I love my Instant Pot (not great for pasta though, makes it too gummy), but I couldn’t use it without decent knives.

    7. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      knives; and you don’t have to do the whole set. Business costco has a nice selection of Vitrox /Fibrox knives, or you can find online at various places. That’s how I got mine… I love a huge selection and had some from a previous block set (different brand), so filled in.

      If you want to go more high end, BF at La Sur La Table had a great deal a couple years ago. I saved 67% and bought SIL the set I wished I had, for a Christmas gift. Had to coach her to never put in the dishwasher and never soak/ leave wet. There’s a care for good knives to make them last…

      1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

        PS: forgot to mention… if you do the gift set of knives, you can still pick up – like new – the other pieces he needs if you look around. I have been selling off my extra set of pans (used about 3 times), and my other duplicates from the storage unit that sat for 3 years. Someone else is probably doing the same. About 25 cents to 33 cents on the dollar for items still in the box, or maybe used two months.
        I have done well with facebook market place, and previously, the flea market (here in CA, when people move, they sometimes box up all the stuff they don’t want to take, rent a stall, and sell it off before donating what doesn’t sell).

    8. CurrentlyLooking*

      I have an Instant Pot and I’m not a big fan (except for making hard boiled egg which turn out awesome)

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yes to the hard-boiled eggs! The shells practically come off in one piece. I use mine mostly for pot roast, eggs and large batches of seasoned rice. I’ve made a few other meals, but those are my main uses for the pot.

    9. Koala dreams*

      I think knives is the better choice, a kitchen appliance like the instant pot is a hit-or-miss option. Knives are always useful, unless you believe in the superstition that a gift of knife will drive people apart. If it were my parents I would maybe go for a toaster or a microwave oven, since I know they like to use them, but it sounds like your dad doesn’t miss any kitchen appliance very much. To be honest, I also like the idea of the box grater or something simple like that, maybe a nice frying pan?

    10. runner girl*

      A decent 8″ chef’s knife (Victorinox Fibrox Pro is probably the best quality to money value I know of and is available at any restaurant supply or online), a dutch oven, a skillet, a cutting board and a couple of wooden spoons are all I *actually* need to cook just about anything. That said I have a kitchen full of tools that get anywhere from frequent (microplane zester, hand crank food mill) to minimal (big food processor, blender) use.

      I’d skip the set of knives, since he has some paring knives and go with just the chef’s knife. I know lots of people who love their Instant Pot, but I try to keep countertop appliances to a minimum in my tiny kitchen.

    11. Ranon*

      I would say a knife – if he has paring knives he really only needs a good chefs knife and a good non-slip cutting board. We live by our instant pot but it’s not the most intuitive to use- if he’s a gadget person I would say yes, but if he’s not than a slow cooker might be better.

    12. Dr. Anonymous*

      Some ideas: Victorinox 8″ chef’s knife and a low-end knife sharpener and steel, a basic grater, measuring cups, spoons, good nonstick skillet with a lid.

    13. Hello gorgeous!*

      Knives & a dishwasher safe cutting board. A good nonstick frying pan, a manual eggbeater., and an immersion blender/stick. Everything else just takes up valuable counter space.

      1. Hello gorgeous!*

        Unrelated, but sorta related – are most people yoven-dominant cooks or a stove-dominant cooks?

        For thanksgiving we had 3burners going, but all four shelves of the ovens (2 ovens) were filled, with more stuff “on deck”.

        1. Emily*

          For food-food, I’m personally more of a stove-dominant cook – lots of curries, stews, stir-fries, etc. I like to bake for fun, though, and that obviously uses the oven.

          I can see how a lot of traditional Thanksgiving foods would need oven space (turkey, stuffing, casseroles, pies, etc.), but my typical diet doesn’t very closely resemble a Thanksgiving dinner.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I didn’t offer all of the details in my original post because I didn’t think they were crucial to the question, but if you must know, it’s five marriages.

    14. MatKnifeNinja*

      Excellent knives and a non digital slow cooker.

      Everyone I know, who has a non tech savy 65+ year old parent and bought them an Instant Pot, the parent has never used it. Or used it once.

      My aunt received one last year, and it sits in her garage. She is 70. Told me at ThG it was too overwhelming. I agree with the knive suggestion from the PPs.

    15. Isotopes*

      Definitely the chef knife – you can basically do everything in the kitchen with one (I even use mine for paring if I don’t want to dirty another knife. And I have a block of 20 different specialty knives – I love to cook). The chef’s knife is where it’s at.

      Also, a dishwasher-safe cutting board, non-stick frying pan, and non-stick pot. For people who don’t love cooking, I find that the nonstick pots and pans are a really safe bet. Some people don’t like them because of the different types of coatings, but for the most part, they’re good stuff.

      And you can get a flat, handheld grater rather than a box grater – I find I rarely use the box grater when I have the small grater around. If he likes cheese, it might be nice for him to have one.

  20. Nervous Accountant*

    Yall I’m crying @ how much Canada is better than the US. So far. Driving is sooo much easier, I love the grocery stores, hell all food tastes better here (except for the water I’m sorry I just don’t like it). Just got the best facial of my life yesterday. The homes are so nice too. My husband’s family settled in Canada so I’ve been coming here at least once a year for the last 11 years now. I think I’ve spent a total of 12 months so far so I have a basic idea of how life here would be.

    I don’t regret *not* settling here many years back…I had lots of reasons back then for not wanting to leave where I am, but….as much as I can believe EVERYTHING IS BETTER HERE, I still don’t want to leave where I am . What a weird feeling.

    1. HannahS*

      Awww we’re glad you like it. Mind sharing what general part of the country you’re in? I’m curious as to what you like about the grocery stores, because I desperately wish we had Trader Joe’s.

    2. Middle School Teacher*

      The water is different everywhere you go, you realise… in AB we have the best water in the world.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        No idea tbh but based on my own limited experience, the housing at least is way better than in NYC. I’m near Toronto.. Food seems to be the same as NY price wise.. I don’t know about the bills.

        1. Steve*

          I would say that Toronto is similar to NYC and Vancouver to Silicon Valley – cost of living is ridiculous. The rest of the country is reasonable. You’d pay more for dairy as it isn’t full of hormones, and alcohol and gas are taxed more highly, but it’s offset by single-payer healthcare.

      2. Martine*

        Cost of living is terrible. One of the worst in North America. Lots of people can’t afford to live in the city/area. The housing market is atrocious. Finding a place is terrible and borders on impossible. A couple where both make six figures can have a hard time finding a house. Bidding wars happen on every house. Regular sized normal houses go for over a million dollars and go for thousands over asking. There is a lack of rentals also. Most don’t or won’t have rent control and people can’t afford to rent in the city. People who earn minimum wage can’t afford the city. My sister and her husband paid 1.4 million for a 1300 square foot fixer upper. They earn almost 6 figures each and have credit scores in the 800s. Took them a year to win a bidding war and get a house. The cost of living and housing are awful.

          1. T.T.*

            In Toronto and some of the surrounding areas you won’t find a house for under a million. The surrounding areas are almost as bad. My cousin and his wife live over an hour outside of Toronto and houses there go for the high 6 figure range. Even condos are ridiculously priced and hard to get. I was floored when another cousin in America paid the mid 5 figures for his house. My down payment when I lived in the Toronto area was 2 times that. Houses there started at $800,000. I paid 850k for a 1200 square foot with no backyard or driveway. It sold for 100k more than I paid.

          1. Over the hill*

            Doubt it. I sold an 1100 for just short of 900k in a school district with a 4 rating and very sketchy folks down the block. Over 20 offers after 10 days on the market.

            Some places, the housing market has absolutely no contact with the reality everyone else lives in. It was mind boggling but one hell of a boost to retirement goals.

      3. LaurenB*

        It may be reasonable compared to NYC, San Francisco and London, but pretty awful compared to the rest of North America. And consumer goods are so much more expensive in Canada than in the US.

    3. Mobuy*

      I’m glad you like it. I lived in Regina for 2 years and it was great! However, I was happy to come back to the US for a number of reasons.

  21. Nervous Accountant*

    Re: cat allergies…. I’m happy to report that I cuddled the kitten many times and have not died. (Except maybe at how cute it is!!). Nothing a little Benadryl/Zyrtec couldn’t handle. I don’t know if I truly am not allergic or the fact that he’s a kitten and doesn’t shed as much? (According to the family kittens don’t shed, idk the truth to that).

    1. Not All*

      As someone who raised a litter of 5 orphans this summer, I would say kittens shed *less* but they definitely shed! But it isn’t the hair people are allergic to, it’s the dander & dried saliva which is why people who are allergic still react to hairless breeds…it just spreads less because the hair isn’t floating around.

      Some individual cats do seem to cause more/less reaction though. I was fostering a Persian for awhile that didn’t seem to trigger nearly the reaction in my allergic in-laws that my other cats did.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        Yeah I did notice a few tiny hairs on my shirt but I put it in the laundry. I’m now questioning why I thought I was allergic all this time.. I thjnk it’s bc many years ago I spent the night at a friends hiuse and had horribly itchy and red eyes. The next morning we went out and she mentioned that her cat slept on the pillow LOL.. since then I assumed I was allergic but was never diagnosed officially.

        1. Not All*

          In that case can I interest you in a couple adolescent orphan kittens? lol

          My first spouse was definitely allergic to cats, but we found he didn’t have a reaction as long as we didn’t let them sleep at our heads…fortunately it was never hard to train them to sleep at the foot of the bed and we kept the bedroom door shut when we weren’t in there. We also had wood/tile floors and washed the furniture covers weekly…but that had more to do with dogs on a farm than the cats!

    2. KR*

      I’m not sure if it’s applicable to you but my dad used to have a severe dander allergy and couldn’t stay overnight in a house with cats/dogs without needing to go to the hospital. When he started dating again he was skeptical dating a women with cats until he discovered with a daily OTC allergy meds and making sure he washed his hands after pets he could even sleep with the kitties in the bed! Now he’s lived with dogs and cats and has rediscovered his love for animals now that he can be around him and his allergies have mostly disappeared, so yours may disappear more with age. I’m glad you’re enjoying time with kitties!!

    3. TootsNYC*

      As mentioned, it’s the saliva that people are allergic to–and maybe kittens aren’t so good at giving themselves baths, so they have less of it on the hair they do shed?

  22. poetry writing*

    This is a situation I’m getting into a lot – I attend a writing workshop and many people there either have MFAs or have already published something in their area or won prizes (I have published academic stuff but this is really different). I feel it really sometimes shuts me down because I just started writing poetry and it activates all my negative self-judgment. The workshops themselves are usually welcoming so it’s me. When they’re shorter workshops and there is no time to go around and share the work, I do so much better. How can I just show up and leave the self-criticism off? are there other things I should be doing instead of workshops, maybe things more introductory?

    1. Former Dancer*

      It sounds like your judgement has nothing to do with the class itself. You’re not just judging yourself, but you’re judging them at being better than you. What did you study in school? I studied music. Beyoncé didn’t go to music school. Is she still amazing? Yes. Do I think less highly of her because I went to music school? No. A degree is arbitrary. They’re there for the same reason you are.

      And if you’re that embarrassed, you can mention it. You can talk to the teacher and ask if it’s ok if you’re there.

      The point is to have fun right? If you’re not having fun then why are you doing it?

        1. valentine*

          Regardless of your histories, you are all in the same workshop. There’s always more to learn, including from each other, and someone will be the newest to any gathering.

    2. Claire*

      I totally understand Imposter Syndrome.

      First, remember to breathe. Second, an MFA or a couple publishing credits doesn’t automatically make someone more skilled than you. (Maybe some of them are, but it’s not a given.) Third, Former Dancer is absolutely right–focus on having fun. Fourth, the workshops aren’t there for perfect artists, they’re for people who are working on their craft. Just like you.

      And last, did I mention remembering to breathe?

  23. WellRed*

    Ok, this is weird and random but file it under one of those things you just notice. Finished watching Deadwind on Netflix, a Finnish detective mystery (loved it, btw). All the doors opened out, front doors, inner apt doors, office doors. I can’t fathom a door that opens out on a private residence. Seems awkward at best, dangerous at worst. But there are things everywhere that seem if you don’t live there.

      1. Catherine*

        I was researching this recently and “doors open in direction of egress” is indeed the fire safety gold standard.

    1. Anono-me*

      I was always told that doors open out, in areas that get hurricanes, so that the hurricane can’t push the door in during the storm. And that doors open in, in areas that get lots of snow, so that people can open their doors after a snowstorm. (In a blizzard, only 15 inches of snow might fall, but there is also wind that can blow the blizard snow alond with the prior days’ snow into tall drifts up to the roof.)

    2. LNLN*

      I watch a lot of Korean and Taiwanese shows on Netflix and their exterior doors seem to always open out. I agree with you that doors opening into the living space seem less awkward.

    3. WellRed*

      Thanks everyone. The fire egress makes sense. So does the idea of opening inward in snowy areas (where I live). Still, if I found a weirdo on my doorstep, I’d like to be able to slam it shut fast, not have to pull it away from him.

  24. Little Bean*

    My mother-in-law, Betty, thinks my sister-in-law, Veronica, is lazy and self-absorbed (she is). Should I coach my Veronica or stay out of it? I obviously wouldn’t tell her the exact reason why. But having spent the Thanksgiving week with them both, I can see Betty getting increasingly frustrated with Veronica every time she shows up for a meal empty handed, sits down and asks for things to be brought to her. She’ll sometimes help out if she’s directly asked to, but then she generally seems so inept that it’s easier to do it yourself than answer all of her questions about it (literally, she will ask multiple questions about how she should wash a dish). I’m inclined to not get involved, but then I feel like my own efforts to be helpful are just further highlighting how unhelpful she is. Should I say something?

    1. gecko*

      Noooooooo. I think the only situation you could say something is, Veronica married into the family as well, and did it later than you (so unpleasant as it sounds you’re more “senior”). Then you could say, “Heads up, but Betty has been wanting you to help around the house more,” or something, then leave it alone.

      But I think the best thing you can do is leave it alone.

      1. Little bean*

        Yes, Veronica is married to Betty’s son. Y’all are right that there are probably some gender based expectations here. I think the big difference is in their effort and reactions to direct requests. He will at least try occasionally, and will be glad to do anything he is asked. She will watch without offering to help, and when asked to do something, will often make an excuse why she can’t or in one case, I’ve heard her actually just say “maybe later” and never do it.

      1. Little bean*

        Yes. Her husband, betty’s son, is usually the one fetching things for her. But, to be fair, he’s not the one complaining. I kind of think he likes taking care of her.

    2. AnonAcademic*

      Has Veronica/her partner actually been asked to bring something to meals or is it implied? Same with requests to bring her things, are people humoring her or saying “Oh the salad bowl is right over there, go ahead and make yourself a plate!” I don’t think having a Talk is wise, but you can show through behavior what the norms of the family are.

      I have self absorbed in-laws who expected everyone to wait to eat until they arrived (often hours late), this went on for YEARS. One year, we cooked the meal, and told everyone “we’re eating at 6, if you run late we’ll save you a plate.” Rude relatives were flabbergasted that we were on dessert when they arrived, but we just cheerfully reheated their food, and they actually apologized for their lateness! I can’t imagine a big “you’re rude” talk would have worked so well.

    3. Lissa*

      Could this be a family culture clash? In some families showing up empty handed and not helping unless asked would be normal, so she might not realize how annoying she’s being to your mother-in-law. This is all moot if Veronica is Betty’s daughter, but if so I would *definitely* stay out of that one. What about the spouses here? I hope this isn’t a situation where the husbands sit around and the daughters-in-law are expected to bring food and help. Do you think that she’s asking a million questions to get out of helping, or maybe feels insecure if she wasn’t brought up to do a lot of tasks around the house and knows she’s not fitting in? More information necessary I think! Or maybe this is a situation where Veronica already is not Betty’s favourite and this intensifies that feeling? I would definitely not bring things to Veronica if she’s capable of getting them herself, could say cheerfully “nope, it’s every person for themselves!” or something.

      1. Little bean*

        The guys do less work than the women, but everyone does more work than Veronica. The guys will at least ask what they can do. Veronica will sometimes decline to help when directly asked to. I thought it was a matter of not knowing what to do (but seriously, what grown adult person doesn’t know how to use dish soap and a sponge) but she recently told me that she feels lazy and sometimes thinks about doing more but doesn’t want to.

    4. Jen in Oregon*

      Sincere question: if Veronica is showing up empty handed, doesn’t that mean that her husband/Bettys son is as well? (Apologies for the assumption if that’s not the case) If so, is betty equally as annoyed with her own child as she is with his spouse?

      Same question for clean up issues. If th sons aren’t being held to the same standards, why not? Just curious.

      Regardless, I think the best person for you to speak to is your own husband, and then only to say, “it would be really nice to have your company in the kitchen; be a love and come help us clean up?”

      1. Little bean*

        Sorry, I realized I’m conflating two issues. Showing up empty handed is more my issue than Betty’s, and yes, I’m annoyed at them both. Not helping in the kitchen seems to be betty’s issue. I think it bothers her more because it’s in the context of other generally selfish and lazy behavior so now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure that even changing her behavior in this one particular way wouldn’t help that much.

    5. The New Wanderer*

      I’m not as bad as Veronica in that I would never decline when asked to help, but I also don’t go out of my way to help during meals at my in-law’s. The reason is that my SIL (MIL’s daughter) immediately dives in to clean up after every meal, and between the two of them, there is no room in the kitchen to help. They also are actively getting the kids to help more by bussing the table, leaving less for the remaining adults to do. So I (female) do about as much as the males. I used to worry more about the appearance of acting like a Guest (not expected to help) instead of a Relative (usually expected to help), but trying to help more hasn’t ended up being all that helpful. And seriously, if I asked my husband to fetch me anything I were otherwise perfectly capable of getting, the only thing I’d get is a weird look.

      One thing we did institute for longer, like week-long, vacations with relatives is that each family group takes a turn providing the whole dinner – prepping, cooking, serving, and cleaning up afterwards. It’s about the only way to ensure that MIL and SIL get a break from doing most of the work (although at least half the time, one or the other insist on helping anyway!).

    6. LilySparrow*

      If you want Veronica to bring something or help out at your own house, ask her directly to do so. If she wants you to fetch her things, decline.

      If her husband likes waiting on her, that’s none of your business. For all you know they may have a thing about him serving her. Better not to ask.

      On no account should you attempt to “coach” Veronica on her relationship with Betty, unless she asks you directly for advice. Circus, monkeys, not yours.

      I have a total of six sisters in law, and they all have varying degrees of closeness, approval, or tension with my mom, my MIL, and my stepmom. You have never seen middle-school girl drama like the triangulation that starts up when one SIL tries to fix another.

      Stay far, far, away.

    7. Little Bean*

      Don’t know if anyone still reads this after the weekend but I have an update. Betty and Veronica had a heart-to-heart in my kitchen the other day, involving at least a few tears, but they seem to be doing ok now. I don’t know what was said but I do see at least a marginal difference in Veronica’s attitude. We’ll see how things continue in the future. The only reason I was contemplating saying anything in the first place was 1) while it was patently obvious to everyone else why Betty was annoyed, Veronica seemed oblivious and I thought it might help her if someone just pointed out what was happening, and 2) I was constantly finding myself jumping in to help right in front of Veronica and it made me feel like I was passive-aggresively pointing out her shortcomings.

  25. Former Dancer*

    I actually posted this in the other forum but it was kind of late and I think it might be better in this one anyway?

    I’m just curious… how often do professional dancers in LA or NY go to dance class?

    I wonder because I used to dance all the time in high school and now dance classes are pretty expensive… and I don’t know how someone on a dancer salary could afford them either! Do they just use auditions to stay in shape instead? (If you only took 1 class a day at a rate of $20/hr, that’s already $600/month!)

    1. families!*

      If you want to go often and are able to buy multiple classes at once (like a 10/20 pass), it does reduce the cost a bit. Also, I think some dancers teach classes (not necessarily dance classes, I took spin classes from someone who was a dancer), as a way to stay in shape.

    2. MommaCat*

      I’m not in either hub, but the professional dancers I know also teach dance, and, I assume, get a discount on taking other classes from the same school/program/company that they teach at. Giving lessons to kids is really the bread and butter of the performance industry until you get to the highest tier companies that pay their dancers to rehearse, and even then most of those companies also offer super expensive classes to help supplement the company’s income.

      1. Lily Evans*

        Yeah, a lot of dance studios offer a discount for teaching classes. It’s how I afforded several classes a week in high school, I basically lived in the studio! If they’re freelancing professionals they might do that. But if they’re at a professional level and affiliated with a dance company they’ll get company classes most days of the week

    3. LilySparrow*

      I used to live in a neighborhood with a lot of Broadway dancers. One of my jaw-dropping memories was standing behind two of them at the bus stop.

      One said, “Are you going to class today?”

      The other said, “Nah, it’s a 2-show day for me, so I’m taking it easy. I’m just going to run three miles and go to Pilates.”

      So I infer that they’d take class most regular days, maybe 4-5 days a week.

      1. jolene*

        I have a friend who’s a principal dancer at the Royal Ballet. He says most of them are so tired when it comes to perform that it’s ridiculous. Endless rehearsals and Pilates.

  26. gecko*

    Hey y’all I have a question about therapy, specifically Talkspace,

    Basically I’m generally well-adjusted and what minor issues with depression & anxiety I have, I have pretty healthy coping tools. But, I’ve struggled–like many people do–with feeling quite poorly about my body, and physical low self esteem. In the past few years I’ve felt like I’ve done really well with this: a lot of the time I feel quite good about about my body or at least not bad.

    BUT, I have recently gotten engaged, and while I’m desperately happy about it, being thrust into the wedding industry has been uncomfortable and left me feeling quite vulnerable. I’m a cis bi woman, marrying a cis straight guy, and not only do I have weird feelings about being seen even more often as heterosexual, I’ve found that I’m not as secure in my body as I used to be.

    A friend of mine recommended a couple sessions with a therapist to talk that stuff over, and I think she’s not wrong–just not sure how to do it. I was considering Talkspace and it’d be affordable for a few weeks. My insurance has some coverage but I’m not sure how much. Have any of you used Talkspace or similar services? If you don’t think it’s right for a therapy novice, where do you think I should go?

    1. Sammie*

      I have done a lot of different therapies, and discovered that the once a week thing over the course of months or years wasn’t for me. I liked Talkspace’s ethos of choosing a plan that works for me. I also do really well with writing all my stuff down. All the therapists seem very qualified. Having said that, I would hesitate to suggest this for a first-timer. My therapist’s responses were very surface level and it seemed part her, part the limitation of the set-up. I would say that maybe one of the more premium plans might be worth it, if you don’t want to take on the cost of traditional therapy, which I can absolutely understand. I would just say that you bear in mind, regardless, of whatever type of therapy you go with or style of therapist, keep trying til you find something that works for you.
      Best of luck and congrats on the engagement. Also, I empathise with your situation: bi erasure is so real.

      1. gecko*

        Thank you!! This was really helpful, sorry I didn’t respond until the open thread was over :) Exactly what I wanted to know about Talkspace and additional good advice to boot.

    2. NYTherapist*

      Congratulations on the engagement! You and your partner could always decide to do a smaller ceremony/ choose the traditions most important to you. A couple sessions with a therapist could be a great idea. Some ways could be searching at psychologytoday.com for therapists, looking at local counseling centers, and/or asking your insurance.

      Other ideas could be looking at books on healthy body image, body acceptance, and/or self-compassion. Captain Awkward is an advice site that helps a lot of people of different sexual orientations, gender identities, insecurities.

      1. gecko*

        Thank you! I’ll definitely use those resources. And you’re right that upping my consumption of body-positive resources to match my consumption of wedding media would be really helpful.

  27. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Weird question but: large hardcover books. How do you read them without destroying the binding? Because apparently that’s a thing and the thought of accidentally doing that to an innocent book is distressing.

    1. fposte*

      What will happen to a book depends to some extent on the binding. Some books are cheaply glued (I have one cookbook–a kind of book that is absolutely going to be laid flat over and over–that is legendary for how cheaply bound it was and how the pages all fall out), while others are thoroughly stitched. If you don’t turn a book open face down or otherwise smush it weirdly, a well-sewn book should be fine. A badly bound book is asking for trouble, so I don’t feel guilty when it happens.

    2. Koala dreams*

      My family actually had some books when I was a kid that came with instructions. I don’t remember exactly, but you were supposed to lay them on the table, and then carefully open the book in the front, then in the back, and then alternatively a few pages at a time until you came to the middle. Then you could read it from the beginning!

      Anyway, I don’t do that and my books usually survive. Unless you have really expensive books I wouldn’t care. And books can be repaired.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        This is library/bookseller standard for “relaxing” the binding on the first read. The bigger the book, the more likely that the binding could crack if it’s first opened wide in the middle. Think dictionaries, or Stephen King novels. ;)

    3. KR*

      My copy of order of the phoenix is broken into two at the binding and I just accept it. For large books the best thing I’ve found is making sure I am reading on a good surface where the book can easily lay flat without twisting around.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      When people open the book, they press their thumb down on the page next to the center of the book to help keep the book open to that page. This is done by pressing the thumb at the top of the page and running down the side of the page next to the binding.

      The other way people break bindings is by using a fat book mark, such as a pen. They put the pen in the book next to the binding and then insist the book close. Sometimes they even put more weight on top of this poor book. A piece of paper works just as well and won’t ruin the binding.

      I think it also breaks binding to leave books open up side down. (Open book, with print side on a table or couch)

      With my middle age eyes, I need good lighting to see the words next to the binding as margins can get a little narrow and close to the binding.

    5. Gatomon*

      I’ve never had a hardcover fail, but this reminds me of my mother taking new paperbacks and deliberately cracking the spines so she could press them flat on the first read. The thought of broken bindings makes my teeth crawl!

      1. valentine*

        I’d never break a binding or dog-ear an innocent page. I hold books carefully, not open enough to harm the spine, use paper or Post-it flags as bookmarks, and don’t have them out around food or liquids.

    6. Lcsa99*

      I’ve never had a problem with hardcover books. They always seem to stand up well, but like others, I never leave them open and facedown. Paperbacks are my downfall. I love them, but much too often they end up beaten up from carrying them around. I have gotten good at mending them with packing tape!

    7. Llellayena*

      I have a copy of the original “Dragonriders of Pern” trilogy with the binding completely gone (held together by packing tape) and at least one page taped into the book on the middle. It just adds to the character of the book. I also have a paperback of “The Swiss Family Robinson” held together by tape. For the most part, the hardbacks hold up better than the paperbacks, they’re better equipped to be opened to a comfortable width for reading. Don’t lean on the pages when the book is fully open and it should be ok for a long time.

  28. CleverGirl*

    So, I’m pregnant (yay!) and went to the dentist last Monday. I was told I had “pregnancy gingivitis” and my gums bled like crazy during the cleaning. The hygienist showed me in a mirror where my gums were really red and puffy, and recommended I get a cleaning every 3 months during my pregnancy and also that I do a “deep cleaning” which I think is what they call a gum irrigation, that is two hour-long sessions. Even with my insurance it would cost $200 per visit so $400. I said that’s not in my budget, and my insurance also only covers two cleanings a year, so I can’t get one every 3 months. But I started flossing every day and brushing 3-4 times a day. Well, all my gums are back to the normal color and they don’t bleed at all when I floss! I fixed them!

    1. Melody Pond*

      So, this might be a long shot – but I work for an insurance company that provides dental insurance. And for our main dental plan that we offer, we also offer a variation on that dental plan, which we call “OHTH” (Oral Health, Total Health) – it covers extra deep cleanings and such, for people who have been diagnosed with diabetes, and for pregnant women.

      I don’t know how common this is in other dental insurance companies, but maybe it would be worth looking into this with your insurance company, to see if they offer something similar?

    2. Px*

      I’ve also had issues with dental hygienists scaring me, but once I had a good clean – the best thing they ever did was sing the praises of interdental brushes. You can get various kinds/sizes (some softer rubbery ones, some actual bristly ones – the latter are better obviously), but use those regularly, floss and brush your teeth and you should be good to go honestly. I think cleaning every 3 months sounds like overkill…

      1. brushandfloss*

        Its not scaring, its the unpleasant truth. Most people ignore the signs of periodontal disease or excuse it (brushing too hard). Periodontal disease doesn’t hurt. A person doesn’t feel the damage that the plaque and bacteria is causing and once you lose bone/gum tissue its gone and won’t regrow. Most people are very diligent after their visit and then slack off. A three-month recall is standard for people with periodontal problems.

      2. Kuododi*

        I recently had the same thing happen to me with my now “former” dentist. She kept trying to convince me that my gums were in wretched condition needing gum grafts. (Yeah right). Well, I promptly scheduled a second opinion and was told by the second dentist that the only problem my gums had was getting older. ;). Well for that and a bunch of other reasons, I am now a client of the second opinion dentist!!!

        1. Nita*

          I’m a fan of second opinions too! I’ve had one dentist do cleanings every three months while insisting I need gum surgery. I figured he’s the expert, but was luckily too freaked out by the idea. Then someone recommended another dentist, who fixed this “unfixable” problem by giving me a recipe for a rinse I can make at home (chamomile, sage, and oak tree bark). My teeth still aren’t the greatest, but it’s made a huge difference – I just wish I’d gotten that advice much sooner.

    3. brushandfloss*

      It was probably a “deep cleaning” with irrigation. Hormones during pregnancy can exacerbate gums problems. Its good that you are flossing/brushing daily but if that wasn’t your habit before pregnancy there is a good chase you can also have pocketing(space between the gums and the tooth) and plaque/tartar below the gumline. Which maybe the reason the hygienist recommended the deep cleaning(scaling/root planing). If possible you may want to get a referral to a periodontist.

    4. misspiggy*

      If the issues come back, Gengigel mouthwash or gel are fantastic. One needs to check in with a doctor about using it when pregnant, but it’s incredible how well it works with relatively few uses.

    5. Cambridge Comma*

      Same thing happened to me, but the dentist recommended using thyme tea as a mouthwash and switching to a super soft toothbrush. Did the job.

  29. Brittany*

    Anyone have financial advice?

    I have $25k in credit card debt. I WISH it was from something “fun” but it was used to get out of a cycle of abuse and… then being unable to work for a period due to debilitating migraines. I lived really on the minimum. I have one pair of jeans and one pair of sweatpants I wear to bed (that the elastic broke and now they’re 3 sizes too big so I can’t walk in them).

    Now I’m healthy, and I’m out of the bad environment. I got a job that pays $50k. I might be able to make another $10k/year part time, but it’s doubtful I’ll make more than $60k/year.

    I was going to go to a credit bureau to see if I can get a personal loan with a better interest rate. Right now I’m paying $800/month to credit cards and $350/month in student loans (which is already down from $1500/month, which I was paying on a $40k salary).

    My friend said I should just call the credit card companies and demand to pay less rather than going to the credit bureau.

    I was wondering… well first of all, does anyone have any success stories? Did you pay off your debt? Was it possible? I want to feel like it’s going to be ok.

    And secondly, I’m still taking advice. I’ve lived my life not spending money on anything, not going outside because I can’t afford a “going out” outfit or a cover charge… not affording a gym membership… basically being a total hermit. And… I don’t want that life either.

    Thanks for your help!

        1. WellRed*

          Also, I once had a lawyer negotiate much lower payoff amounts but I had to pay the credit card companies then, there was no payment plan or what have you.

    1. tangerineRose*

      I had a lot of credit card debt once. Also not for fun stuff, which is just as well, because I’d have felt very guilty for running up credit cards for fun stuff.

      I’m sorry I don’t have a lot of good advice, and I hope someone does. I mostly just didn’t spend much for a long time and put as much as possible to pay the credit cards. One of my forms of entertainment was window shopping (although I did have a TV). Getting a loan from a bank is probably a good idea.

    2. bunniferous*

      I am irritated by Dave Ramsay but his snowball method of paying down debt is not a bad idea. Maybe get one of his books from the library or something? Also does not hurt to try to negotiate with the card companies. Sounds like you are on your way!

      1. Brittany*

        Thanks. I just looked him up. His says pay the minimum except on the smallest one, but the minimum was already $1200/month so I had no more than that to pay on anything. =/

    3. Melody Pond*

      While I don’t agree with *everything* Dave Ramsey says, you might find some inspiration in listening to his podcast/radio show. There are lots of callers in situations similar to yours, and when they really can’t pay their credit card payments, I do think Dave Ramsey does offer helpful guidance on how they should talk to the credit card companies.

      Second – can you get your essential “needs” or “must-haves” portion of your monthly budget down to 50% or less of your take-home pay? This includes your required monthly minimum payments on debt, as well as basic food, housing, clothing, and transportation.

      Then, can you get your “savings” up to at least 20% of your monthly budget, and preferably closer to 30%? Savings would be any extra payments on debt, anything over the required minimum payments. With where you’re at, it sounds like you probably won’t be doing any other type of long-term savings just yet, it sounds like the first thing you want to work on is getting rid of this debt.

      Finally, anything that doesn’t fall into either a “must-have” or a “savings” category is automatically a “want” – and you don’t need to cut this out of your budget entirely, but try to limit it to no more than 30% of your take-home monthly budget (and preferably, closer to 20% of your take-home pay).

      Also, this is kinda silly, but I made this little online presentation breaking down the steps that Mr. Pond and I take, with regard to personal finance, and since I wound up talking about it so frequently on the AAM open threads, I made a more anonymous version (that doesn’t use our real names) to share online. Here’s the link, if you’re interested:


    4. fposte*

      First, congratulations on getting out of an abusive situation!

      The credit union loan is definitely worth considering; if your credit rating is high enough, also look into 0% balance transfers for your cards. In either case, what you need to do is crunch the numbers and make sure you understand all the fees–is there an origination fee or a transfer fee in addition to the loan rate?–as well as the interest rate.

      AFAIK, credit card companies negotiate payoffs of debt pretty readily but they don’t negotiate an amount owed if you’re not paying it off; they’re willing to take, say, a $15k bird in the hand instead of $25k they may not get down the road, but there’s nothing in it for them to say “We now agree you owe us $15k instead of $25k.” If you take a credit union loan to settle the debt, it’s definitely worth seeing if they’ll take less for settlement. In the mean time (I’d do it today, because why not?) call up your credit card people and ask about lowering the interest rate. They’ll often do it just for the asking, and it will save you money for the interim even if you end up soon taking a loan to settle the debt.

      The lifestyle stuff is a bitch, especially if you’re not in a low COL area. The single biggest expense for most people is housing, so if there’s anything you could do there, like changing to a roommating situation if you’re currently on your own, could have a big impact. In the mean time, I’d pay attention to your library and other civic places for free activities and outings; also check out Meetup to see if there are activities in your neck of the woods that are cost-free.

      Sorry that you’re dealing with this, and I hope you find a way through it.

    5. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      + on the credit union.
      Congrats on the student loans not being in default (mine went in, and I’m now at the mercy of an egriougious collection agency who has doubled the amount due in the 3 years…). I”m working on that, but not quickly enough… so I get it! (I’m at $50,000 on a $29,000 judgement 3 years ago – and I’ve been paying $400 a month).

      Wanted to mention that a full understanding of your credit score, how your credit union might view you, and the impact of negotiating a payoff…. try the really helpful forums on FICO dot com. Understanding your credit score, and how to negotiate with the cards – some advice there. And a lot of education. (Pick and choose).

      I keep reminding myself this is doable – I just have to keep plugging away (I’m doing snowball, which is why the big student loan bill is last, plus the fact no one will actually talk to me on that one… I have to find the right person yet).

      Proud of you for getting out. Really. And don’t minimize the social benefits of volunteering as a way to get out of the house. When you are helping those even less fortunate, your worn out sneakers and holy jeans aren’t as meaningful as your smile and genuine empathy.

    6. Jessi*

      Have you looked into refinancing some of the cards? Some credit cards will offer you 0% on balance transfers for the first x months. That might not seem to help you very much short term but will save you thousands in interest longer term.

      I’ve heard of people

      1. valentine*

        If you have this kind of offer, be sure to get the 0APR, not 0% transfer fee (unless they offer both). Let’s say your monthly minimum is $25, you can pay $35/month, and you have an offer of 0APR for 12 months. Transfer $120 onto that card and pay $10/month, while paying the minimum monthly on the original card. Use the transfer card only for transfers. (I don’t know why, but if you buy something, the entire debt is due when the shopping debt is due.) You can pay them off in order. I would create a spreadsheet showing me the full life of the debts so I could play around with it and see how much I could save.

        If you can put your daily needs on a rewards card you pay in full each month, the bank will essentially be paying you to use the card. You can use the rewards to pay down the card.

        If you can increase your clothing to three pairs of jeans and three pairs of pjs (wear, wash, change in case of spills), I think wearing something different, that fits, is going to boost your mood. Look into clothing swaps or freecycling.

        I hope this improves for you, both soon and steadily.

        Escaping abuse is a massive accomplishment and I hope you are superproud of yourself and taking that win every day.

    7. Sick Civil Servant*

      I was forced into medical retirement because of migraines. I was 47. For clothing, have you tried second hand stores? I know people who shop at thrift stores all the time and have great wardrobes. Personally, I wouldn’t wear used underwear, but each to their own. Or websites where people sell stuff. I’ve bought several bags of used clothing off these types of sites. Once, I got 2 garbage bags of gently used clothes for $40. Granted, not everything fit nor was it necessarily my style, but it really helped increase my wardrobe!!

    8. Dr. Anonymous*

      I really like the Simple Dollar for advice on living frugally, getting out of debt, and finding free things to do that put some joy in your life so you don’t feel like you’re in debtor’s prison. Trent Hamm was the original writer and I like his articles best for living frugally, but not joylessly.

    9. Old Cat Lady*

      Go to a credit counselor. You can find them for free online. They can help you negotiate a lower APR which will help lower you monthly payment.

    10. Yetanotherjennifer*

      An alternative to Dave Ramsey is YNAB. They have an online budgeting software that I think costs about $5 per month but you can apply the principles to any software or even a spreadsheet. Their primary market is people with debt and their website has lots of articles and videos about how others have done it.

    11. Book Badger*

      My two economic online gurus right now are Bitches Get Riches and Nerdwallet. Bitches Get Riches is a financial advice blog geared towards Millennials and poor people (compared to folks like Dave Ramsey who are geared towards Baby Boomers and the middle class). Nerdwallet is a website that tracks your spending and debt – it checks my credit score weekly (different from a credit report, which is only once a year) and gives suggestions on how to improve it. Also there’s a forum where you can trade financial advice, which is nice.

    12. Steve*

      I have always enjoyed Gail Vaz Oxlade. She works with people on a variety of budgets, and is straight-forward. She has a website with a blog: she has stopped updating them but you can find answers to your questions in there.

    13. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Lots of good advice here on the big picture, but I’ll throw one more minutia idea into the air. Look for a local Buy Nothing group. It goes a step beyond Freecycle — in addition to giving things away, people offer help & skills. I’ve helped people move large items to a children’s museum. Others have helped me figure out garden issues in my new place. So you can pitch in without having things to offer. Best of all to me, it’s neighborhood based so I’m meeting people.

    14. A. Nonn*

      I hear you on a massive % of your income going to paying off debt. I had a lot of cc debt and worked with a nonprofit credit counseling place to negotiate lower interest rates with the card companies (I had several cards). I now pay a monthly chunk to the counseling place and they distribute to cc companies. I’m on a five-year plan, and am just over 1/3 through. The amount saved vs. trying to pay it myself is enormous.

    15. Phoenix Programmer*

      Tips: If your credit is good get another credit card with 0% interest and balance transfer. It will give you some breathing room. Pay the minimum on everything else while you throw all your money at 0% introductory APR.

      Hubby and I do this between our three cards and like clockwork this time of year one card always offers a 0% balance transfer.

      We got our debt down from 18k 3 years ago to just 5k today and was able to buy a house in the interim.

      Other tips:
      Sell carfor cheaper model use difference to payoff debt.

      HELOC if you own a home with equity.

      Loan against each an owned asset – eg car, boat, etc. Apparently unsecured personal loans are not a thing as much in the US any more.

  30. Sam Sepiol*

    Been posting a while but changed my name due to accidentally posting identifiable details under my old handle on another site, oops.

    Recap: realised husband was emotionally abusive mid last year. Left just over a year ago. Have middling sized child.

    So a letter arrived yesterday addressed to Y. Passed it on to him and he sent me a pic. It appears to be confirmation we’re divorced.

    I mean it was my choice to leave and he treated me like shit and there was no way it would ever change. But I still cried. I never wanted any of this to happen. I still miss who I thought he was.

      1. I am still Furious!!*

        I’m here, no news :( and I’m sorry you’re feeling this way. It does hurt. And even when things are bad, really bad, and we take steps to get out of a bad situation, I think it’s normal to look back and wonder what might have happened, what did I do wrong, did I do anything wrong, etc. I hope things go well for you and you can move forward. Sending an internet hug from a stranger…hope it brings you a bit of comfort.

    1. AnonEMoose*

      It’s so hard when you realize someone isn’t who you thought they were. And it’s totally ok to grieve that. I’m so glad you were able to get out, and I hope that many wonderful things are in store for you.

    2. Zona the Great*

      I grieve the end of all relationships, even the bad ones. It’s an end and it’s sad for most people.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Very sorry for your loss and your disappointments here. May time be kind to you and may your friends and family be a big help for you.

    4. Ktelzbeth*

      Congratulations on getting out. I completely understand crying when the divorce you initiated and wanted is finalized. I did it too when mine was. As much as I needed it, the divorce still represented the end of a chapter in my life and was final confirmation that the hopes and dreams I had for my marriage were never going to be. I so hear your last sentence and am crying again. Hugs to you, to me, to Furious, and to everyone else.

      1. I am still Furious!!*

        Thank you for this. I had some crying spells the last couple of weeks, not even sure why I was sad, but I get it.

    5. valentine*

      A loss is a loss. I hope the gains will take the edge off and that you can be really gentle with yourself for as long as you need.

    6. Isotopes*

      I’ve been grieving the person I thought I knew, too. It’s been really difficult. I was the one who made the choice to leave, too. And there was a lot of abuse (that I didn’t realize until my head finally cleared). And I really thought he was just the most wonderful man ever, and realizing that he wasn’t has been hard, and sad. And makes me doubt my ability to really see someone for who they are.

      Basically, I hear you. You’re not alone, this situation totally sucks, and I am sending positive thoughts your way.

  31. Still Brooke*

    I commented on here two years ago in the midst of it happening but, I haven’t talked to my parents in two years.

    Whenever people ask about them, suddenly the fact that I don’t talk to them becomes The Most Interesting Thing About Me. I don’t mind being honest, it’s more that it’s a Big Deal. A

    I thought that when people ask me “why” that saying “they’re abusive” or “that’s personal” would make them back off, but it actually makes people more interested. So it’s just a pain because it’s like no I don’t want to go into it in casual conversation. Like people casually ask about my parents and now they’re casually asking me, well what did they do that was so bad? And it’s like, in the past, but I still don’t enjoy talking about it.

    I guess I’m also worried about it because I might be in the public eye soon because of something I’m putting out, and I’m worried what if I interviewed and I am casually asked about my parents… like I don’t want to lie to a reporter… but am I supposed the lie? Like I just worry that that’s going to be that headline instead of my work.

    And then I get, “Do you think you’re going to talk to them again? Everyone should talk to their parents! Don’t you think you’ll talk to them now they’re older?” And I’m like I’ve had the same conversation so many times and I’m sick of it.

    Does anybody have any advice of what I can say?

    Or even like someone I should ask about this?

    1. bunniferous*

      Just tell them you are Estranged and you Do Not Discuss It. Anything they say after that means they are rude and you do not have to reply.

      Sorry you are surrounded by rude people.

    2. not talking*

      I usually don’t go into it but say “we’re not close”, “we’re not that close”, for example answering why I am not with family on holidays, or how can I stand not being with them on holidays etc. Most people drop it at that point. And I keep repeating it if they don’t. That is boring and there is nothing for others to “hook on”.

    3. Red*

      I have a similar experience. I haven’t talked to my mom and stepdad in 5 years and my dad in 9. They were incredibly abusive, to the point where a Law and Order SVU episode hit too close to home once and I had to turn it off. I take one of two approaches:

      1. “I don’t talk to my parents, but the rest of my family is great! I just did X with them. Have you ever tried it?” AKA, change the subject

      2. “Oh, I don’t celebrate Father’s Day because my dad is deceased.” Not totally a lie (they’re dead to me), and it returns the awkwardness to sender very effectively.

      1. Still Brooke*

        It’s interesting you mention the rest of your family! I don’t talk to the rest of my family either. I still have nightmares about my parents, and I’m too scared of someone giving them my phone number. Was that different for you?

        1. Red*

          Yeah, my family knows the deal with my parents and they don’t speak to them either. It’s like my parents just disappeared from the family tree.

        2. Jen in Oregon*

          Would you be comfortable saying that? Because “I actually still have nightmares about my parents, so naturally I’m rather loathe to talk about them, thanks for understanding.” might be pretty effective. Best of luck to you!

          1. Jen in Oregon*

            aaaaaaaaand I used “loathe” when I should’ve used “loath”. Apologies–it’s been a long day.

    4. Blarg*

      Change the subject. “Oh, we’re estranged but I’ve gotten so much closer to my brother.” “My auntie and I have a special relationship.” And to the “BUT WHAT IF THEY DIE before you talk to them again??” (Which seems to be a very specific worry people have)… I reply honestly and directly. “Yup, that’s a risk. Right now the idea of having them in my life is worse than them dying without reconnecting. If that changes, I’ll reconsider.” OR, make it their choice: “my parents chose to be abusive when we were kids and to continue those patterns after we grew up. But now we don’t have to accept it.” Or, just go with the tried and true [puzzled look] “why would you ask that?”

    5. Asenath*

      Don’t explain anything. Just stick to something fairly meaningless like “we’re not close” and change the subject – maybe ask about their parents. Too many people take even the slightest additional detail as a sign you’re really open to more questions or even advice. I’m a great fan of cool, short versions of “I’m not talking about this” and moving the conversation on immediately.

      1. Thursday Next*

        I second this. The less you say, and the blander it is, the better. Make the subject really boring for the questioner.

        —“We’re not close.”
        —*shrug wordlessly*
        —“My family’s not into/like that.” (re. big holiday get-togethers)

        On the subject of aging/dying:
        —“That’s how it goes sometimes.”
        —“Life can be like that.”

        For really aggressive people, “I’ve said we’re not close” +
        —“I’m not sure what else you want me to say.”
        —“Is there an answer you’re looking for?”
        —“I don’t really have anything else to say about this.”

    6. Operational Chaos*

      If you’re going to be publicly visible, try and get some practice in on deflection and smoothly changing a subject to something more positive.

      “How’s your family feel about XYZ”
      “I have a wonderful support system with my friends and loved ones and they’re really excited for what’s going on…”

      Things like that which are upbeat but won’t lead most to force you into revealing personal status about your family life could go a long way to helping. Unfortunately, too often comments about how you’re estranged or not close will lead to even more probing questions.

    7. neverjaunty*

      These people are emotional voyeurs and they suck.

      “Oh, it’s a long story. So, what about [entirey different topic]?” is a good way to signal to most people that you aren’t going to elaborate further. And if they persist, go for the just-slightly-too-long pause followed with an even more abrupt change of subject.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Be less forth coming. Seriously.
      It was at its worst when I was in my 20s people had to jump in with their know-it-all advice. I learned to give very short and very ambiguous answers.
      Oddly some of the worst offenders were people my own age.
      Once I aged a bit the lectures stopped.

      I had a boss who commented, “You never mention your mother.” She could not handle mommy info in a responsible manner. So I replied, “Yep. That’s right.” And I let the awkwardness just hang in the air, she had to restart the conversation. We never went back to that again.

      It’s surprising how many people cannot handle some topics in life. Look at the person you are talking to before deciding how much to disclose.

      As far as your public/press face, develop a few simple statements and use them repeatedly.
      “My parents are fine, thanks for asking. Anyone else have a question?”
      “My parent cherish their privacy. I hope you will respect their wishes.”
      The pattern here is a statement then a redirect.

    9. Epiphyta*

      I have found this essay to be very useful in shifting my own mindset around the question of death before/without reconciliation, particularly this line:

      Having a regret is not the same thing as having made the wrong choice.

      And if you have not searched the archives at Captain Awkward around how to respond to people throwing “but faaaaaaaaaamily!” at you, may I commend them to your attention?

    10. Not A Manager*

      What happens when you literally say, “I don’t want to discuss it”?

      What happens when you literally respond to every follow-up question or comment with, “I don’t want to discuss it”?

      Maybe that feels too abrupt or rude to you, but good manners are for people who exhibit good manners. If someone won’t honor your soft no, maybe you need to make it a harder no.

      1. Still Brooke*

        They ask WHY! LMAO.

        So when I repeat it then they’re like OH JEEZE and make it a big deal until I get away from them.

        1. Not A Manager*

          That sucks, but the person who’s making it suck is them, not you. “Why?” – “I don’t want to discuss it.” – “But WHY?” – “Because I don’t want to talk about it.” – “BUT JEEZ” – “…”

          I think it might help you to decide in your own mind that you don’t need to be polite to people who are rude, you don’t need to smooth the way for people who make things awkward, and you don’t need to apologize for a situation that you didn’t create.

          All of this is on them, not on you. What you owe to YOU is to keep yourself (emotionally) safe, and healthy. If that means not answering intrusive questions, or not responding to provocative remarks – well THAT’S THE WAY THE COOKIE CRUMBLES.

          I’m so glad that you were able to establish boundaries that are healthy and safe for you. I’m so angry on your behalf that you need to deal with bullshit from strangers (or worse, from not-strangers). I really do think that it’s perfectly okay for you to *just not answer.*. :-/

        2. Not A Manager*

          Also, after about two iterations of “but why” – “because no”, I think you get to say, “it’s really weird that you are insisting on talking about this when I clearly don’t want to discuss it.”

            1. Sam Sepiol*

              Our one I’ve seen on Captain awkward: “so how about that local sports team!”. Don’t replace “local sports team”, just make it clear you’re Moving On From This Conversation.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          They ask why, really?

          People don’t like being reminded that you have already answered their question. Feel free to say, “I have already answered you. Please stop repeating yourself.” Throw it back on them by saying you have answered them and you can add that they are repeating themselves.

          The problem I found is that I was so concerned about escaping the conversation that it became my focus. I totally forgot that THEY were the ones being rude. You can say, “It’s rude to keep asking. Stop.”

          They are prying into something that is none of their business.

    11. Anono-me*

      To me, Family is a choice. Your choice and the choice of the other person. With the minimum requirement that everyone honestly tries their best to be good to each other. Usually, hopefully, that includes all of your close blood-kin.

      If people are asking about how your family feels about your big accomplishment; Tell them. Tell them about how your loving family (whomever you have decided it is) thinks you’re wonderful.

      If people are asking specifically about your mother or your father, just take some of the many above pieces of good advice about shutting that nosy ‘stuff’ down.

      1. Anono-me*

        Oops. Sorry major posting fail.

        The last line in the first paragraph should read “Usually, hopefully, that includes all of your close blood-kin; but is not guaranteed to.”

    12. valentine*

      Come up with platitudes and sayings you can repeat if you can’t walk away:
      ~That’s just the way the cookie crumbled.
      ~C’est la vie.
      ~There’s other fish in the sea.

      If you have a publicist or any kind of middle person, they tell the interviewer what’s off limits. You can always give them dead air.

    13. Catherine*

      I have started responding to questions about my parents by blinking innocently and insisting that I haven’t the foggiest idea who you’re talking about, or claiming ridiculous mythological origin (what parents? they hit Zeus with a hammer and I jumped out). It’s probably not tactful but it gets across We Are Not Discussing This in a way that I can pass off as playful.

      1. Catherine*

        Also, don’t ever feel obligated to tell a reporter the truth about your personal life! The fact checker will not track down your parents and call them up to ask if they’re REALLY proud of you.

  32. tangerineRose*

    Any suggestions on sites that help with retirement plans? It will be a while before I get to retirement age, but I know I should do some real planning. Or suggestions for plans?


    1. fposte*

      I love talking retirement plans! Updating my spreadsheets is one of the highlights of the year’s end for me; no lie. I highly recommend the Bogleheads wiki and forum; Jane Bryant Quinn and Ed Slott both have really good retirement books.

      1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

        Thank you for this…. I was thinking about posting about how to do a catch up. I have 3.5 years at my job before basic retirement, and zero except my pension. May have to work to 72… but given my stress level at job, I’d rather not. I’ll post separate… but I will also check out the books. (I just ordered Ed Slott 2018).

    2. Earthwalker*

      If you have a 401K, contact the company for an advisor. You may get free consulting that’s helpful and you still have the choice of taking the advice you get or not.

  33. Fishsticks*

    Anyone have any suggestions to learn Arabic? I need to learn to speak it and I’m the absolute worst with learning languages. I care less about the written aspect as I primarily just need to be able to speak and can get a translation done if necessary. I keep hoping Duolingo will release their version but they haven’t yet. Thanks!

    1. Thanks For Nothing*

      Mango Language

      It is free through many library systems, or you can subscribe for a reasonable monthly fee

      It is text and speech based. My favorite part is how they’ll give a word, phrase, or sentence, and then open up a speech block where you can repeat the word(s) as many times as you want to match the accent as closely as possible. They also explain the goals for each lesson very clearly and have (slightly more) grammar than Duo, and cultural explanation blocks too.

      1. Thanks For Nothing*

        DLI is spectacular (if you don’t mind some military functionality scattered through your language acquisition) but the modules have an annoying habit of forgetting your account exists, requiring starting over from scratch. I once lost SIX WEEKS of German work in DLI overnight. Just evaporated as if I’d never existed.

        I really really like DLI’s culture courses for a quick sweep of a country/culture. They’re never terribly in depth but generally more than most Americans know from school and give lots of key words to search for further research.

    2. Luisa*

      If you have the opportunity to take a class or get a tutor, you should. (I recognize that this may be easier said than done.) If you start learning some of the basics of the language through a program like Mango Languages or Rosetta Stone, you could probably supplement that to learn more about your target national/regional dialect (ex. vocabulary and pronunciation differences), but having an instructor who could work on the target dialect with you right from the start would be best. I started learning MSA before I took my first Egyptian Arabic classes, and struggled to break MSA habits (mostly pronunciation stuff).

    3. Apollo Warbucks*

      Sorry I can’t recommend any in particular but, YouTube or podcasts are a great way to learn some words and phrases.

    4. Kuododi*

      When I was on contract with the Army approximately 10 ish years ago….they were connecting their soldiers with Rosetta Stone programs as a part of preparation for an overseas deployment. I haven’t personally used the product so I have no direct opinion positive or negative. For what it’s worth I do hope that helps. Best regards.

    5. Kate*

      I learned fluent Arabic as an adult! This is a question I know something about!

      1) if you “just” need to learn to speak, you are going to need to know which dialect. Dialects in Arabic are not like dialects in English, they are more like Italian/Spanish/French branches off Latin.

      2) even if you aren’t interested in learning how to write, you’ll want to get some solid grounding in how the language is constructed. Arabic is super-cool in that dozens of related words extract from a root word; once you get the hang of it, it is so much easier way to learn vocabulary than memorizing lists of random words.

      3) The Hans Wehr dictionary is more of an intermediate-advanced resource but a fantastic one, and will give you a sense of how that root system works.

      4) All related, I hated Rosetta Stone and whatever knock-off version was available for Arabic. Tossing random works like rabbit at me (always one of the first since it starts with A in Arabic) was not at all useful.

    6. Ann O.*

      What do you need to learn to speak it for? Arabic is really a language family and not a language. So the first step is making sure you genuinely know what you need to know.

      Most language programs I’ve seen are targeted for MSA or Classical Arabic, which is not super useful if your goal is conversations with people. It can be useful if your goal is understanding al-Jazeera or something similar.

      Assuming you need a daily language, I’d recommend posting ads and finding a tutor. In my experience, it’s going to be hard going because the odds of finding someone who knows how to teach a daily language is not great. But it’s going to be a lot better than trying to do it by yourself and not having anyone correct your pronunciation or your slang. I can’t remember how I got it, but I used a Peace Corps manual when I first started learning Moroccan Arabic (with a tutor). That helped us organize lessons and compensate for the fact that neither of us had a clue what we were doing in terms of how to structure a lesson.

    7. Fishsticks*

      Thank you all so much!! I know what dialect I need to learn but am trying to not put too much online lol. I’ve taken Arabic in the past but they taught us modern standard and mainly writing/alphabet. I’m basically trying to learn to communicate with some family in the Middle East so speaking is what I need to focus on. I’m not too worried about a tutor since I could just practice with family members. I’m definitely going to look into mango. Thanks so much!!!

  34. fort hiss*

    I’m working online now and I got the okay from my supervisor to dye my hair a fun color so I’m getting the purple and green hair I’ve always dreamed of (literally in the chair now). Ahhhh!!!

    1. Claire*

      Cool! I had purple highlights earlier this year, but I’m tempted by what my stylist called “oil slick.” It’s the rainbow colors you see from an oil slick in the rain.

      Will you post pics here?

  35. Positive outlook?*

    2018 has been a doozy of a year for me. Just when I thought I’d begun to get my feet back under me, I found out this week that new job hasn’t been deducting my pension… so I’m prob gonna have some significant deductions on my last few paychecks this year.

    How have you coped during difficult times? Need some self care suggestions. Preferably ones that don’t cost $.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Taking walks can be surprisingly therapeutic and quite the stress reducer.
      Hydration is important, it’s amazing how different a body can feel once it’s hydrated.
      This is going to sound frivolous: Take the time to observe nice things such as a person holding a door for an older person, a nice sunset, your neighbor’s new pup. Look at these things and say, “yeah, that is nice.” It’s so easy to blow by all the sweet things we see in one day. Take the extra second to say to yourself, “Gee, that is good.”

    2. Dr. Anonymous*

      Self-care on the cheap:
      Go to the library and read frivolous magazines. Check out a lot of books and sit on the couch and drink herbal tea and read.
      Hot bath with cold sorbet. Some homemade facial mask with egg or cornmeal or whatever.
      Random tidying of a closet, drawer, cabinet to make me feel in control of my environment
      Listen to music I forgot I liked.
      Find cheap recipes and make them.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I started teaching myself to knit & crochet using primarily needles&hooks that older family members had stopped using. My yarn came from the senior center thrift shop and from tag sales. Patterns free from Ravelry, and lessons from people at a local stitch & bitch (NOT connected to a yarn shop so no pressure to buy).
      Warning…it can be done cheap, but only if you avoid specialty yarn shops. ;)
      Bonus: always something to do with my hands so I’m finally not biting my fingernails.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Also… it’s been a nice source of random conversations with compliments. Many people see it as harder to do than I do, I think.

  36. Lonely Guy*

    Yesterday I broke up with a girl I met online via OK Cupid. “Broke up” is probably not the right thing to say, since we had just “met” and were still in the online chat stage.

    “Kitty” made the first contact. I responded, and after chatting through OKC we chatted offsite via text message. We exchanged brief bios. Kitty said she liked my fun loving personality and thought I was handsome. Yay! Insert “heart” emojis here.

    Then she posted a picture of herself with her kids. Cue up the “whomp whomp” sound effect. I don’t have kids. I don’t want kids. I don’t even like kids. She didn’t say anything about kids in her profile, so I had no idea she was a mom until we started chatting. I wouldn’t have responded to her first message if I had known.

    But the thing is, I want a girlfriend. Badly. So badly that instead of immediately nipping this in the bud, I played around with the idea of pursuing this to see if it led anywhere. But in the end, I realized it wasn’t going to work. I could have just stopped communicating, period, and ignored any future texts from her. I couldn’t do that, so I sent her this:

    Kitty, if this is premature on my part I apologize, but I’m getting a vibe from our chat that you’re interested in seeing if there’s potential for a relationship between us. That could be a good thing, because I think you’re cute and, as they say, this could be the start of a beautiful friendship.

    However, since you have children, I have a moral obligation to tell you before we go any further, that if we were to become a couple and the relationship evolved, I don’t have the temperament necessary to be a parent or whatever I would be in regard to the kids. And I’m not in a financial position where I’d be able to help support children.

    As a mother, your first priority has to be your kids. You and your children deserve no less than a man who is ready, willing, and able to welcome children into his heart.

    I’m sorry to tell you that I can’t be that man.

    I think I handled it well. I was respectful and polite, but to the point. She texted back a simple “OK” and that was it. And I felt bad. I’m glad she accepted it, but I was disappointed that she didn’t thank me for being honest with her and not just ghosting her.

    There’s no point in lying – I was also hoping she’d say she still liked me enough to pursue a friendship, possibly with benefits after a while.

    You see, it’s difficult for me to meet women, for various reasons. And when Kitty responded to my OKC profile, it was like when you’re in the desert dying of thirst and someone offers you a drink of water. You don’t care who’s offering it to you.

    Intellectually, I knew pursuing a relationship with Kitty would be bad because of the kids, and that I did the right thing. There was never any question in my mind about that.

    Emotionally, however, it was a different story. Emotionally, it was so awesome that an actual girl said she liked me and that I was handsome. Emotionally, I just knew somehow love would solve everything; cut to silhouette of the two of us, hand-in-hand, walking towards the sunset in the horizon, happily ever after, typical romantic movie ending scene… and that’s why I felt sad.

    Even the part in my breakup message where I say that I think she’s interested in a relationship, and the line about if we were to become a couple… just writing those sentences to a real girl, sentences in which I was part of the equation, and it wasn’t fantasy, it wasn’t daydreaming – just writing those words was kind of a thrill for me, because on some small level, it was real, even though I was cutting off the possibility of anything happening.

    But now, almost 24 hours later, I’m not feeling so sad. If you’re unfamiliar with OKC, when you look at someone’s profile the first thing you see is a section called “My self-summary,” where you just basically write whatever you want about yourself. In my profile, one of the first things I have in that section is a list of deal-breakers. And the first item on that list is kids. There’s no possible way Kitty could have missed it.

    I can’t help but wonder why a mother of three would initiate a conversation on a dating site with a guy who clearly states, right off the bat, that he doesn’t want kids.

    1. Villanelle*

      Well, to be fair, ‘doesn’t want kids’ I would take to mean doesn’t want their own kids, not doesn’t want to date anyone who has their own kids already as these are 2 separate things.
      So I don’t think Kitty has done anything wrong here.
      I hope you find someone who wants the same things you do soon. Online dating is hard.

    2. Jessi*

      I think there is a huge gap between ‘I have kids’ and ‘I want you the person I’m dating to be part of my kids lives’. Huge huge gap. Like if I was a parent I would want to be 100% sure of a person before they even met my kids- so maybe a year or so of dating? That’s just to meet them. I think also if you are a parent who is single you often share custody with your ex – so that’s every other weekend and maybe a couple of evenings a week with no kids. You could easily share your life without the kids.

      It took my mum and her partner 10 years to move in together- by which time both sets of kids were fully grown and moved out of home. We don’t know Kitty’s situation- maybe she was planning on moving slowly and isn’t looking to have the sort of moving in relationship? Of course the other side of that is maybe she was looking to bag a partner ASAP and thought maybe her kids wouldn’t be a dealbreaker? Alas you will never know, sorry! I think you just have to make peace with that

    3. Winter General*

      I’d assume someone who said they didn’t want kids meant they didn’t want to be a parent, not that they weren’t up for dating someone who had kids. So if that’s a dealbreaker for you, you may want to be clearer about that in future.

      Kitty might have been fine dating you without expecting you to be involved in her kids lives, but your message made it really clear that you expected her to have certain expectations and requirements in that regard (which may not have been accurate, frankly – it’s a pretty presumptuous message!) and that you weren’t interested. Even if she was, that message would have probably put her off fast.

      I hope you find someone more compatible with you.

    4. Buu*

      I suspect the reason the showed you the pic of her and her kids was to see if you were OK with it. The don’t want kids thing can mean a few things like you don’t want kids yourself. If she doesn’t want any more she may have seen that as a positive, but then wanted to check if it mean any kids in your life at all.

      When she dates she’s going to have to find someone Ok with working around babysitters, and her responsibilities as a mother. You thought about it and you’re not OK with it. I think it means you’re right the relationship wouldn’t work.

      It’s nice when you meet someone who finds you mutually attractive but a relationship is based on more.

      1. LaurenB*

        Yup. I think you may have been about three steps ahead of her. She sent the picture to say, hey, before we meet and invest anything in this, are you okay with me having kids? And since you had already invested lots of emotion in it, you felt blindsided by the news.

        I try to believe the person may not even exist until we meet in public. I don’t think stopping conversation before required even a third of the explanation you gave.

    5. Waiting for the Sun*

      Eek, I’m sorry that happened.
      You absolutely can put whether you have kids on OKCupid (probably on other dating sites too).

    6. Middle School Teacher*

      It’s incredible how often people don’t read profiles, though. Or just skim them. I also don’t want kids, and it’s in my profile, and the last guy who sent me lots of messages had “I want to build a house and fill it with kids” in his. I was like, did you take a wrong turn somewhere? Because I’m not who you’re looking for.

      Plus, for women at least, there’s this underlying assumption that “she just hasn’t met the right guy” or that she’ll change her mind. I’m not saying that was what Kitty was thinking with you, but it happens to me a lot and I haaaaaaaaate it.

    7. Fish Microwaver*

      I admire that you were so upfront with Kitty. A lot of people skirt the issue and leave the other person feeling that there is hope for the relationship. By being unambiguous, you and she are able to move on.
      I hope the right person comes along soon.

    8. Lily Evans*

      So you led her along for a few days knowing you weren’t interested in a serious relationship when it seemed like she was, broke things off in a weirdly intense message, and are disappointed that she didn’t thank you for that behavior/want to be your fwb? And you did this because of how desperate you are for any human female to pay attention to you? Not to be rude, but it sounds like you need to do some serious work on yourself before you really start dating someone, because this whole mindset you have is not healthy.

      1. fposte*

        I think that’s too hard. He didn’t “lead her on”–they mutually flirted for a few days in a standard OKCupid fashion. His message is a little overwordy, and it clearly carries the burden of expectations that were beyond the situation, but it also treated her just fine. And while he had secret hopes about where the relationship might still go, he didn’t involve her in those secret hopes–he left it up to her and accepted her silence. If I were her, this would be a perfectly reasonable encounter.

        I agree that LG could use some experience, which he’s trying to get, and would benefit from a look at something like Captain Awkward to get some better context for his longings and expectations and how to negotiate them. But since LG didn’t put the trouble on her, I think it went okay, even if it didn’t get either of them what they want.

      2. Lonely Guy*

        “you led her along for a few days”

        No. She posted the picture of her and her kids at 1:29 p.m. Friday. I continued chatting with her until 2:14 p.m., when I had to go back to work. I thought about it during the afternoon and sent her the “breakup” message at 6:31 p.m. So if I did “lead her on” it was just for a few hours.

        “broke things off in a weirdly intense message”

        I worked hard on that message. I try to be as transparent as I can. In an earlier message she asked me about my love life – did I have kids, was I married, was I dating. I responded that I wasn’t dating anyone right now, and if I was I wouldn’t be on a dating site. I didn’t think about it at the time, but I should have also said if I was married I wouldn’t be on a dating site.

        Would you rather I curtly said “I don’t like kids, goodbye?” Or would you rather I just stopped communicating entirely, ignored any subsequent texts, and left her to wonder why I wasn’t responding to any more of her messages?

        I thought I was doing the right thing by being honest with her, and what you see as “weirdly intense” I saw as polite and respectful, letting her down easy.

        “are disappointed that she didn’t thank you for that behavior”

        It would have been nice if she did. As Fish Microwaver posted earlier, “A lot of people skirt the issue and leave the other person feeling that there is hope for the relationship.” I didn’t want to do that.

        “are disappointed that she didn’t . . . . . want to be your fwb?”

        The truth is that I didn’t expect that to happen. I was just being honest with my thoughts and feelings to you guys here at Ask A Manager. And the reality is that if she was interested in a friendship, I wouldn’t have expected a potential benefits part to happen right away. Remember, we had only exchanged text messages. We never spoke on the phone, let alone meet in person. So part of that was just a fantasy.

        Believe me, I’m well aware of my shortcomings in this regard. If I wasn’t, I might have kept the “I don’t like kids” thing to myself and let the relationship progress, potentially causing more emotional damage at the end.

        1. fposte*

          FWIW, as friendly feedback, I’d say that message could have been a lot shorter–like, one of the paragraphs would have sufficed. I think probably you put in a lot of work and ended up overthinking it; the result would have been a little intense to get from somebody at that stage.

          1. WellRed*

            Yes. A little shorter and I cringed at the whole put your kid first thing. However, I don’t think you lead her on and some folks are being a tad harsh here.

            1. valentine*

              Lonely Guy, fposte has great advice for you throughout this thread. Kitty and you just weren’t on the same page. I think it’ll help you to cast a wider net, if you will, define terms and be more specific about kids. Maybe there is a soft way of spelling out “No kids (mine/yours/anyone’s).” For instance, next time, you would say, “I didn’t realize you had kids. I don’t want to date someone with kids, but would like to keep chatting/be friends. What about you?” You boxed her in with a long goodbye and I don’t see where there was room for her to suggest a middle ground. You’re at extremes as well with long goodbye or rude exit/ghosting. Looking for a middle, not making decisions for others, sticking to “I” statements and always asking, especially with women you’ve not known long, will reset the board for you in helpful ways.

        2. Lily Evans*

          You hadn’t even talked to her for a full day and you wrote her a four paragraph message, in which you make some wild assumptions of her expectations from you, I’m sorry but that’s way too intense. She didn’t owe you a thank you for that. You could have kept it short and sweet and less Byronic-hero. Seriously look at how much you’ve built up this incredibly short interaction, I stand by the statement that it doesn’t seem healthy.

          1. Someone Else*

            I read it as he texted with her for several days, not knowing she had children and thus thinking they were on the same page, then found out she had kids, spent a few hours agonizing and THEN sent the four paragraph message. I mean…it wasn’t the best handling but it also wasn’t the worst, by a long shot. He could’ve gotten the point across by being more brief, without getting to the point of terseness and that would’ve been better, sure. The length does make it seem unnecessarily intense. But it reads to me like someone overcorrecting. They’re clearly not a good fit anyway so it’s also not really paramount that they leave off on a great foot. If the goal of asking here about the interaction is to be less awkward next time, I agree with those whose primary suggestion was “be less verbose about it”.

            1. fposte*

              Yeah, that’s how I read it too.

              LG, I’d recommend you go for quantity over quality for a while :-). You put a lot of weight on this one interaction that it wasn’t ready to bear, and I think it’s because you’d built it up so much in your mind. Talk to more women in person and online and understand that most starts don’t develop into something deeper, and that’s okay. Part of why your message is a little misplaced is that it seems like it’s assuming this is really hard news for her, when it’s quite likely that it wasn’t, and she may well have been talking to other guys than you–which is not only okay but recommended.

        3. anon today and tomorrow*

          She doesn’t owe you a thank you for being honest, though. Expecting one is putting a big emotional burden on her to acknowledge your feelings after you made it pretty clear that you weren’t interested in her romantically. Her “ok” is all the response you needed. She could have never responded to your message, but was polite enough to do so.

          Honestly, if I had gotten such a message (and yes, there is a lot of presumption that bleeds through), I would have just said “Okay” and blocked you or ignored you instead of adding anything else, and then I would have moved on. It’s a bit weird to say you’re not interested, but then expect something more out of it, even if that something more is friendship, and a lot of women online dating consider things like this a red flag.

          Women aren’t here to comply with your fantasies, and I think you need to examine your disappointment over the fact that you did what you wanted, but didn’t get the desired fantasy outcome that this woman genuinely does not owe you.

          1. Be the Change*

            “Ok” seems very brusque to me. “Ok, best wishes and hope you find the right person” would be just more courteous whatever else is in your mind.

            1. Lily Evans*

              Nope. It’s someone she only ever texted and he way overdid it with that letter. “Ok” was more than enough in that situation.

            2. anon today and tomorrow*

              If someone I’d only texted with sent me a four paragraph messae telling me they knew better than I did what I wanted in a relationship, you bet I’d reply with “Okay” and consider that polite enough.

          2. ainomiaka*

            yes, this. I don’t think he was way out of line to say “I can’t do any kids at all, this isn’t going to work.” But then, if she’s on a dating site to find a relationship, she’s not obligated to do anything other than accept that and stop communicating. She is absolutely not obligated to offer FWB as some kind of consolation prize!!!!!

        4. AcademiaNut*

          Not wanting kids and not wanting to date someone with kids is totally okay, and I’d be a bit peeved at someone not mentioning they had kids on a dating platform – I figure having kids and current marital status are things that should be right out there.

          However, your message was much too intense and long for the level of interaction you had had. All you had done at this point was flirt on text messaging – you hadn’t even met. You’re not actually breaking up at that point, because you’re not dating.

          At that point, a more appropriate email would have been

          “I see from your feed that you have kids – as I said in my profile I don’t want kids, and that includes dating people with kids. Sorry about the miscommunication, and all the best.”

          Also, I really, really, really recommend you head over to Dr Nerdlove – he’s got loads of practical advice that I think would help you.

          1. GhostWriter*

            I think AcademiaNut’s script is perfect if the OP encounters the same situation in the future. It’s polite and to the point.

            I’m not sure I’d say the OP’s message was “intense” as a bunch of people have commented. More so felt that it was weirdly formal, self-righteous and presumptuous. (Messages that start out with an apology for what you’re going to say are a bad idea.) If I was the recipient, I would have blocked without responding because I’d feel like anything else might be misinterpreted and lead to further weird messages.

      3. Lili*

        Thanks for articulating this so well. Anyone who is that obsessed with “having a girlfriend” (and not having a relationship, which are two different things) does not have a healthy enough outlook to be involved with anyone.

    9. Glomarization, Esq.*

      So she reached out to someone with a profile that said “no kids” (maybe deliberately, maybe not). And you spent some time, after you understood she had kids, wondering if you shouldn’t continue with her for a little while, anyway.

      I’d like to frame this as two people individually exploring possibilities beyond what they thought were deal-breakers. Then, on second thought, nope, they’re still deal-breakers.

      On a practical note, you understand that you wouldn’t ever actually have to financially support the kids, right? As someone who was dating while my kid was still at home, I’d hate to think that all the guys I pinged on OKCupid were worried that all I was looking for was an ATM. I mean, it was nice when a guy would buy my kid a movie ticket or pizza for all 3 of us instead of just the 2 of us. But I wouldn’t expect him to buy my kid’s clothes or school supplies or health insurance.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        Pretty much. Lonely guy, your behavior was fine, but you let your thoughts get a little carried away. You desperately want a gf, so you over-projected on someone very early. Consequently, it hurt a lot when it didn’t work out. Thing is, MOST online matches aren’t going to work out. Online dating gives you access to a lot of choices, but that means there’s lots more elimination that happens. You just gotta be ok with that.

    10. Tara R.*

      I think we should always be careful from starting to create a story with no basis, and then being disappointed when that story doesn’t come true. You had no reason to believe she would want to be friends with you or want to have sex with you after the prospect of a romantic relationship ended; she’s on a dating site, presumably looking for a partner, and you removed yourself as an option for that.

      I definitely think you did the right thing by being upfront (albeit with a bit more intensity than seems appropriate for a brief bout of online flirting), but try not to be disappointed that she didn’t respond in a way that suits your fantasies. I don’t expect thank yous from people that I turn down. Sometimes guys come onto me. I’m a lesbian and I tell them so. Although I think being upfront is the nice thing to do, I certainly don’t expect a “Thanks for telling me! Let’s be friends!” They were clear about what they wanted initially, I was clear in Not Wanting That, and that’s the end of that interaction for now. “Ok” is a perfectly reasonable, and honestly relatively polite, response to a rejection.

      One of the unavoidable things about online dating is that people won’t read your profile, or they’ll read it with wishful thinking (“Oh, he doesn’t want kids, but maybe he just means he doesn’t want kids of his own…”, “Oh, she’s a lesbian, but she’ll probably be open to a threesome with me and my boyfriend…”). You can’t let yourself get too worked up about it.

      1. TL -*

        To be honest, even if I was looking for a friends with benefits situation, I’d be really turned off by a message like this. It makes a lot of presumptions about what I want from a relationship, what I expected from a relationship, and how I parent and prioritize my life. It definitely makes the rejection all about what I ‘want and need’ and takes away my autonomy.

        Whereas if I’d just gotten a “hey, I’m not looking for a serious relationship with someone with kids; I’d be interested in being friends and/or a casual thing” that would indicate that it was a) about their life decisions, not mine and b) they respected my ability to make decisions and gave me the relevant info needed to make an informed decision.

    11. Basia, also a fed*

      I appreciate the way you handled it. I would never date anyone who has kids, because I’m not interested in spending time with children regularly. And I might have written a similar message and been equally frustrated by the fact that she didn’t have the fact that she has kids in her profile.

      I’m confused by those who are saying that you wouldn’t have to support the kids or see them much. If you’re dating with the intention of a long term serious relationship or marriage, then it doesn’t matter if it takes them a year or more to introduce you – the introductions will happen eventually. If you end up living together, you will end up supporting them. And I don’t want to spend even every other weekend with a child. I’m skeptical that you could easily share your lives without the kids.

      You might want to ass to your profile that you aren’t interested in dating with children. I appreciate that you gave her a reason.

      1. Basia, also a fed*

        And that you’re not interested in dating anyone who HAS children. My entire last paragraph is a giant fail.

      2. Lonely Guy*

        It’s already in there, and it’s been there from Day One. It’s in the boilerplate stuff at the top right of my profile – “Doesn’t have kids and doesn’t want them” – and it’s right there in the self-summary section, the first item in a list of four deal-breakers (the other three are smoking, tattoos, and body piercings).

        1. Thursday Next*

          But that’s not the same as saying you don’t want *to date anyone with children* and it sounds like you should specify that.

        2. fposte*

          Seconding/thirding/fourthing this, LG–you’re hearing this as the same, and maybe it is *for you*, but for most people it’s not the same, and it’s not going to weed parents out as effectively as a more specific statement.

        3. Seeking Second Childhood*

          If his profile talks about wanting a long term relationship (which we dont know) and not wanting kids, I’d recommend someone with kids self-select out.
          If it’s looking for casual hookups, I can see where shed think she was safe to reply.

          And I’ll add that some parents don’t mention their kids because of the reality of pedophiles. That she soon told him about them thus reflects well on him.

          1. Lonely Guy*

            “some parents don’t mention their kids because of the reality of pedophiles”

            That never entered my mind. But that’s a very good reason. It’s the only legitimate reason for a woman to not mention in her profile that she has kids.

            But a dating woman with children still has a moral obligation to let the guy know she has kids before things get too far.

            1. Glomarization, Esq.*

              only legitimate reason for a woman to not mention in her profile

              Or the kids are nearly out of the house, so mom’s dating life doesn’t intersect much with the kids’ lives anyway, and won’t intersect at all in the very near future. Or she doesn’t want to tell the internet that they have kids at home, or she has some agreement to that effect with the kids’ father, or, or, or. There can be any number of perfectly legit, non-deceitful reasons not to mention the presence of kids on a dating profile.

              moral obligation to let the guy know she has kids before things get too far

              What is “too far”? This is going to be different for everybody. Do you have a concern of being deceived, or that the kids are going to be kept a secret from you? And you know, “Kitty” here did tell you, very early in your interactions with her, that she had kids.

              I hear that you’re lonely and want to date someone, but you and “Kitty” simply weren’t on the same page. This happens all the time with the vast majority of people whose profiles you’ll find. Let her go.

              1. Grapey*

                Eh, even dating someone with kids out of the house means grandkids might come along someday. From experience I can say most childfree married people want to put their spouse first in life, and that means (at least for me) not settling for someone with adult kids who could potentially take away spouse’s attention with problems of their own like needing money or needing someone to watch the grandkid every weekend.

                1. Glomarization, Esq.*

                  Everybody’s different. From my experience, the current Mr. Glomarization (spouse #2) is definitely childfree by choice. We met a dozen years after my divorce when my kid was still at home with me and it was never a source of contention in our relationship. Everybody’s got history and/or family commitments that may spring up any time.

              2. Lonely Guy*

                “What is “too far”? This is going to be different for everybody.”

                Agreed. In an earlier draft of the post you quoted from, I did say that my comment about the woman’s moral obligation was meant as a general comment and wasn’t specifically about my experience.

                But I forgot to put my name when I clicked “submit” (I only used “Lonely Guy” for this thread, I use a different screen name for other posts), got a message that I had to “sign” the post, and when I clicked okay it went back to the top of the page and my original draft was wiped out, I had to rewrite my message from scratch.

                “Let her go.”

                I had already let her go when I wrote my original post. Based on many of the comments here, I apparently failed to express that as clearly as I thought I did.

            2. Observer*

              She DID let you know “before it got too far”. If waiting a couple of days of texting is “too far” you really need to reset your expectations.

    12. Ktelzbeth*

      I see some folks saying that you shouldn’t be disappointed. My emotions have never responded to what they should or shouldn’t do. Where I come down is that what matters is what you do with your emotions. If all you do is an internal, “That sucks,” don’t involve the other person at all, and move on, I think that’s about the best you can do sometimes. The first thing I think you did right was to let her know that her kids were a deal breaker. Could the message have been shorter? Probably, but you didn’t ghost her or beat around the bush. The second thing I think you did right was to accept her “ok” and cutting off contact. You may have been disappointed because the interaction didn’t go how you wanted it to, but you did not contact her again and try to get her to do what you wanted. The third thing I think you did right was to consider the emotional and intellectual sides of your situation and make a decision with both in mind. Better luck in the future.

    13. Anonomo*

      So as a mother, I would not be one to “look for a father” if i joined the dating pool, thus a man who posted “no kids” would actually be on the top of my list since he wouldnt be involved in my kids’ lives. I appreciate that you acknowledge you arnt a kid person, but your message was full of assumptions that just might not be true (beyond my feelings on the matter, I know many women who arnt primary caregivers and therefore are able to lead childfree social lives) I would like to offer you the alternative for the future- ask the woman! You seem very eloquent and I think a version of “So I see you have kids- Im not a kid person but I like you. Would you still be intrested in talking still knowing that about me?”
      And if you really cant fathom anyone with kids, I would recommend asking if they have children in the first few messages, to save yourself from the heartache youre going through.
      Lastly, unless your a raging jerkface (and hell, even if you are!)there are many many people out there who will like YOU! Because you are you and that counts for much much more than fading looks ever will.

    14. Observer*

      So I’ve read the whole thread I think and I think you need to reset your expectations and think about your reactions.

      That you are disappointed is reasonable; we feel what we feel when things don’t go the way we had hoped even if our hopes were premature. But your reaction to her response is not appropriate. Her reaction was totally appropriate and would have been to pretty much any message that you might have sent her telling her that you are not interested in going forward. Taking issue with her not thanking you for basic courtesy is a bit much, and putting way too much weight and expectations on a stranger who you really have no relationship with.

      Also, your long message was way overboard. Others have given you scripts that you could have used. While no one of those scripts is something you HAD to use, note the commonality of all of them – they are polite, short, about what you want in a relationship and do NOT have ANY expectations of the other person. You’re not a hero, you’re not doing anything for her kids, you’re not doing anything for her, and you shouldn’t write as though you were.

      Own the fact that you want a relationship which is kid free and when it comes up just say that. It’s fine. Decent people are not going to be bothered by that, as long as you don’t date people with kids in their lives (assuming that they let you know about it.) But, when someone gets a message about how you like them but they shouldn’t be dating you because you decided that it’s better for them (which is how this comes off), then not only do you not deserve any thanks, people are absolutely going to back off.

      Even if Kathy had been open being friends, it’s totally reasonable for her to decide that someone with this much to say about her dating choices a couple of days in is not someone she wants anything more to do with. And, given that OKCupid is DATING site, it was a long shot that she’d want to remain friends anyway. So, while it’s understandable that you’re disappointed, understand also that it was never a likely outcome. And don’t try to process it my somehow making her the bad guy, even a little. Not for her sake, but for yours.

      1. WellRed*

        I never understand the whole let’s remain friends thing with someone you’ve never met and don’t actually know. But then, I came of age before the internet. (LG, I mean this comment generally, not as a criticism of you, in particular).

    15. Banana Pants*

      So you didn’t want a relationship with her because of the baggage of her kids, were disappointed that she didn’t fall all over herself to thank you for being OH SO NOBLE, and then would be happy to bang you on the side anyways?

      Dude, I can see why you’re lonely.

      1. Lonely Guy*

        Dude, you TOTALLY misinterpreted me.

        “you didn’t want a relationship with her because of the baggage of her kids”


        “were disappointed that she didn’t fall all over herself to thank you for being OH SO NOBLE”

        “Fall all over herself?” No. A simple “thank you for your honesty” was all I was hoping for. There are people who, in a similar situation, would have just cut off all communications and left the woman wondering if she said something wrong to scare them off. Maybe I was premature in saying some of the stuff I said, and maybe I said too much, but the important thing is that I told her, and she could move on.

        1. TL -*

          I’m not sure why you expect thanks for not being (as big of) a jerk (as other people are). Nobody owes you gratitude for being a good person and/or observing basic dating etiquette. If you’re looking for someone who is grateful you’re not a jerk, or at least not as big of a jerk as those other guys, you’re really selecting for a partner with very low standards.

          Your message may have been meant nicely but it read to me as fairly condescending and patronizing and it would not have inspired gratitude in me at all. My guess is that she read it in a similar manner and had a similar response.

          Also, for what it’s worth, if someone that I haven’t even met doesn’t text me back, I don’t wonder if I said anything wrong – I’m just not that invested. I assume they’re busy or there was a dealbreaker of some sort and then I just move on with life. I’d be a little – amused? annoyed? both? – if someone told me that I owed them a thank you for ‘protecting’ me from something that never would have bothered me in the first place.

        2. Cat owner*

          Lonely guy, just don’t write people you aren’t in a serious relationship with letters about why you don’t want to be with them. People don’t like it.

          And by your logic, you should probably thank HER for not posting this to r/cringe. Because she could of, but she didn’t.

      2. blaise zamboni*

        This is a very unkind response with no actionable advice, and is piling on to someone who has already received a lot of similar feedback. Maybe you should worry about your own character before snarking at others.

        LG, you’ve received great advice from others in this thread, and I’d like to echo some of it. I think many of us understand the fantasy that love will fix an unsatisfying life, but, unfortunately, that isn’t really the case. I urge you to think about what you expect a relationship to “solve” for you–where are the areas that you’re not happy in life? Obviously intimacy is a huge aspect, and that isn’t something you can tackle on your own, but if you primarily want to hook up with people then maybe other dating sites are a better fit for you. And is that the only thing you feel is missing? If you believe a girlfriend will tend to you emotionally, I’d encourage you to explore your emotions independently and with trusted friends/family, because one person can never provide all the support for someone else. If you think a girlfriend will enrich your social life or give you someone to engage in hobbies with, maybe you can recruit friends or find Meetup groups that enjoy the same things you do. Whatever it may be, you should look at what you’re *already* doing to achieve the goals you want before you ask anyone else to do the legwork for you — not because you’re not worth the effort for a potential partner, but because there is nobody who can fix your problems better than you can.

        I hope this doesn’t sound unkind to you. I wrecked an otherwise excellent relationship because I viewed it, and my partner, as an extension of my self-worth. After we broke up, I started aggressively valuing my own emotions and time, and dating (and life in general) has been a totally different experience. You are not defined by your relationship status or your partner. You are whole as you are, and embracing that fully is more attractive than hoping someone will fill a void for you.

        I wish you the best in life, dating and otherwise, and I hope someday we’ll get an update about a new happy relationship!

  37. Free Meerkats*

    It’s been an – interesting – week. I have two personal PTO days I have to use by the end of the year; I normally use them in the Christmas/New Year week, but the two guys I work with are going to see family that week, so I’ll be in the office alone that week. I used them and a vacation day to take the whole week off.

    I almost caught up on NGC Mars, got some yard work done, picked up my costume contest prize, and played lots of WoW.

    Tuesday, got a text from my brother; they were on the way to the hospital with Mom, thought she might have had a stroke. So I started looking for flights to Missouri. Exorbitant and unavailable. Turns out not a stroke, just a raging UTI and kidney infection. They sent her home Thanksgiving day.

    Made a turkey dinner for Thanksgiving and a small tenderloin roast for Wolfenoot. The fridge is stuffed with leftovers.

    Now watching qualifying for the final F1 race is the season.

    1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      sending thoughts. tough to have moms a half a country away. And the UTI thing must be super common – this is the third one in elderly women (also one in my mom, one in a friend’s mom) where they wound up in the hospital from it!

      1. anon24*

        UTI is very common and effects eldery far worse (women much more often than men). It really effects the mental state and can cause quite a bit if confusion. I’m glad it wasn’t a stroke!

        1. Asenath*

          Oh yes, this is so, so true. And I found that out when I was caring for my mother towards the end of her life. Her first hospital admission was after a fall, and she was far weaker physically than she had been – I thought, she’s shaken a bit by the fall, but called an ambulance and had her taken to a hospital. Very suddenly, she became severely confused mentally. I never even thought of an infection as a cause – hospital staff, of course, suspected a UTI immediately, confirmed it with tests, and started treatment, but I’ll never forget the hallucinations she had just after she was admitted to the hospital, before the infection was gotten under control.

  38. LGC*

    So, happy Thanksgiving to the Americans! (And again to the American runners – happy largest race day of the year!)

    To update from last week: I ended up doing the 5k. Had a bad race – partly because it was 15 degrees and I went out hard. (I was coughing for the entirety of Thanksgiving and yesterday after finishing.) I came in 5th overall, though, which…I should be happy with. It’s more that I know I could have run smarter and better. And possibly warmed up more – I jogged down to the start about 10 minutes before!

    (On the other hand, I’m a little out of shape too, since I’ve been really patchy with runs the past couple of weeks.)

    Other than that, trying to get back in the habit. Thankfully, the deep freeze was only for Thanksgiving and yesterday, and it’s actually not terrible today. I’m also trying to not spend money I don’t have on sales, although it’s difficult!

    1. Fish Microwaver*

      Congratulations on your run. Even not so good runs are worth it, as we often learn valuable lessons. I look forward to hearing of your progress.

      1. LGC*

        Check in on the weekends! I’m usually posting then!

        (I ran a 17:49. My PR is 16:52, so…yeah, it was pretty bad for me! I was more mad because I got passed at the finish line.)

    2. CheeryO*

      Getting back at it over here too. I saw too late that you asked about NYC last weekend, thanks – it was good! I finished in 3:53 which was a 6.5 minute PR. I was hoping for closer to 3:50, but the course got the best of me. I slowed down quite a bit after the Queensboro and couldn’t rally.

      I’m still not feeling 100 percent recovered. Just getting back over 25 mpw this week! I ran my Trot very easy and just enjoyed the atmosphere. Can’t beat a 14,000 person 8K with no corrals – it’s madness!

      1. LGC*

        14,000 with no corrals?! Holy cow I would lose my mind if I had to deal with that! (Hell, I nearly ate it last year at my 8K, and that was 3,000 people! From what I heard, the start was changed this year, which made the course slightly slower but a lot safer – three guys actually did fall last year, and these were guys running well under 30.)

        Congrats on a huge PR! 6 1/2 minutes is a lot to knock off, and also it’s New York, so 3:53 there is probably like 3:50 at Chicago or something. The QB is…tough, but I think I managed it by just realizing it was going to suck ahead of time and not freaking out about my pace falling off a bit there. (I have to look, but I probably lost at least 15 to 30 seconds on the bridge.)

  39. Woodswoman*

    California’s Camp Fire, the most deadly is history, is officially out because it finally rained. Firefighters are monitoring smoldering to make sure it doesn’t reignite. Everyone I know in the Bay Area is celebrating fresh air after having the worst air quality in the world about a week ago. It feels good open the windows and exercise again. But there is much loss and suffering that is continuing for survivors, with hundreds unaccounted for and people trying to find their missing animals.

    Less known is the Woolsey Fire in Southern California, now 100% contained, where three people were killed. An excellent nonprofit in the area had to completely shut down because all their facilities were destroyed.

    May it rain well into the spring this time.

    1. it's all good*

      it’s been an insane month. I have quite a few cousin firefighters in So. Cal. They are exhausted to the bone and still working. Praying for no major mud slides.

  40. Lissa*

    I had a funny experience that made me realize how curated Internet experiences can be. So I mostly post here, read Captain Awkward and a few other sites, have Facebook etc, and generally only “see” Internet spaces where basically everyone is pretty anti-bigotry, typically politically left, and has been exposed to certain concepts already around things like body acceptance. I am aware of course of Internet spaces where the opposite is true. The spaces where I go not only are people gay-friendly, but also accepting of lifestyles like polyamory, BDSM, etc – same with my IRL friends, nobody really blinks at stuff outside the norm. Online there might be some dissent or someone coming in to say something that doesn’t fit, but they usually get shouted down pretty quickly.

    I occasionally read the Money Diaries on Refinery and the other day there was one about someone who was in an open relationship, and has a husband and a boyfriend. The comments were SO unaccepting, not all but a lot! I was only surprised because previously I’d seen the people there be completely supportive of non-straight people, those going through mental health crises, etc, so I just kind of assumed it would be the same general type of commenter as here, Captain Awkward etc, but definitely not! Again, not at all surprised that there are people who feel that way, but since the internet gets siloed off I sort of assume spaces that have opinions A B and C will also have opinions D and E. Even though there’s no actual reason for that to be true.

    1. fposte*

      I find that fascinating myself. There’s a very blokey, albeit nerdy, British media forum I’ve read for years, and it’s not so much a difference of whom they support as to what support looks like and what they don’t understand. So it’s both British and a different kind of social approach.

    2. Anon Anon Anon*

      There are some places that are really awful and intolerant. I’ve found them accidentally while googling other things. I won’t mention them by name, but there is a cesspool out there.

      1. Lissa*

        Oh yeah definitely agree! Those places make me sad, but don’t really surprise me. It’s more surprising when I find an online group that seems really similar to the places I frequent, then suddenly isn’t. I’m used to internet opinions being kind of clustered, so gay-friendly is probably also ok with polyamory, understanding of food allergies, very on board with setting boundaries with family and not just saying “but they’re faaaaamily”, not telling people what they should wear etc. So when I see somewhere that has some of that but not others, I have an instant moment of surprise.

        1. Anon Anon Anon*

          Yes! I’ve found the same thing too. And, generally, people are kind of weird online. That’s why I hang out here!

    3. Thursday Next*

      There’s wider social visibility of and acceptance for certain things, like gay marriage or anti-racism. I think fewer people know someone in an open relationship, and it’s not a topic that gets a lot of exposure in mainstream outlets. So it could also be an issue of naïveté or ignorance.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      What boggles my mind is when a socially open blogger gets nasty comments for something that’s been public knowledge for years. I’ve seen it happen more than once, so no need to be more specific.

  41. I am still Furious!!*

    I have no update :( :( :( Murder trial at the courthouse (very rare for our county), holiday week, and our newspaper did not have “courthouse roundup” online OR in the printed version, so I don’t know if I’m divorced or not.

    Everyone, I am trying not to be impatient, but I am seriously in danger of losing that battle. I JUST WANT THIS TO BE OVER NOW!! And, I’m still getting socked for employee/spouse health insurance until I can show the divorce papers! I went into the system, since it’s open enrollment, and signed up for employee only starting in 2019, and learned I’ll be paying $155 less per biweekly paycheck. That’s a lot of money.

    Sorry for being a Negative Nancy :( :(

    1. Fish Microwaver*

      You’re not a Negative Nancy. I totally get wanting a conclusion so you can get on with your life. I hope you have your final decree soon.

    2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I have a possibly very stupid question. Why does your divorce have to be in the paper in order to be official? I know nothing about such things but I’ve been mildly surprised by my interpretation that it’s the paper that makes it final, rather than the judge. How does this bit work?

      1. I am still Furious!!*

        Not stupid! I live in a rural area, my attorney is a one attorney shop with a secretary, like a lot of offices here, so it’s entirely possible the papers can be done at the courthouse, picked up by the newspaper reporter that week, and I’d find out that way before I’d get the paperwork in the mail, especially during a holiday week and with a murder trial going on.

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          Aaah, makes sense. I was thinking that somehow the newspaper editor was the final authority on the matter and was confused! Hopefully it comes through soon!

    3. Woodswoman*

      You’re not being negative at all. It makes sense that you want this last piece of bureaucracy to be freaking over already, especially since you’re paying for the delay out of your own pocket every paycheck. I’ll be holding a virtual parade in your honor when this is finally done!

    4. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      Hug….. It will come. I know it is hard (I’m waiting on other things)… but we are here behind you and it will soon be over. Checking in and rooting for you!

    5. Tara R.*

      You’re so close!! That must be super frustrating. I hope for your sake that everything is settled ASAP.

    6. Sam Sepiol*

      I’m so sorry. I’m impatient on your behalf and I’m not living it. Fingers crossed for this week.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Between the holiday and the trial that court is probably pretty bogged down in work. Not a helpful reason, I understand that too.

      It’s fine to ask your lawyer for advocacy here. He can call the court to check on the processing status.

      For myself, I would tend to think that the court would be flooded with calls on Monday. So if I chose to call the court on my own, I would call on Tuesday when things were a little calmer. Then I’d slay ’em with kindness, wear them right down because you are “such a nice person” and they really want to help you. Bees/honey/vinegar and all that.

      1. Observer*

        Is the lawyer going to charge? And what can the lawyer accomplish?

        As frustrating as it is, and I can just imagine that between the just wanting it OVER and the money, this is something that makes you want to chew nails. But getting charged $100 to be told “Yeah, no there is nothing we can do” sounds like a good way to make it even MORE aggravating.

    8. LibbyG*

      I shall join you in an internet primal scream: GAAAAAAAAAAHHH!

      I was also confused about the newspaper thing the first time you mentioned it, especially because you wrote something like “a few Amish weddings but no divorces.” And I was like, why is IASF waiting for news of an Amish divorce?

      1. I am still Furious!!*

        Our “courthouse roundup” lists marriage licenses issued, deeds recorded, divorces issued, # of dog licenses, # of voter registrations – sort of odd, but it always has. This entire section was missing this week, probably due to covering the trial and due to the Thanksgiving Holiday.

  42. Junior Dev*

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

    I’m having a lazy Saturday after Thanksgiving. I need to clean out my fridge and do some other household chores.

    I’m struggling to get enough exercise, though I’ve been walking a lot. But it’s been a while since I went running, swimming, or biking.

    I’m proud of going to a friend’s Thanksgiving event and taking good care of myself by stepping outside when I felt socially overwhelmed.

    How are you doing?

    1. Red*

      I’m proud of myself for always striving to be better than I am, which today meant going back to Target for something I forgot to buy. You see, I went to Target to pick up a few things on Friday. Forgot it was Black Friday, store was super crowded and recently remodeled, and it was just a clusterfudge. This would have been fine, except for my agoraphobia. It was my version of hell, and I had a panic attack in the stupid Target. So I’m really proud of myself for having gone back, it took a lot of ovaries to walk into the store.

      1. Junior Dev*

        Congratulations! I hate in person shopping with the fire of a thousand suns and I don’t think i could have done that.

    2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I’m in a minor panic because despite working on it for weeks my house is still a wreck and my parents are coming to visit tomorrow! I have until about 3pm tomorrow to finish cleaning and decluttering, then I get on the train to go meet them. I’m currently coping with this by drinking coffee at 9pm and eating a mince pie.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        And the house is finally clean! I got up at 6:30 and started cleaning two days in a row. I didn’t get to bed until 1am and I just barely finished at 3pm. I’m super tired and didn’t even stop to have lunch! How can a house that looks nominally clean take so much time to make company-worthy?

    3. Square Root Of Minus One*

      Forbidden topic has been so bad this week it’s eating at me. I’m seriously considering all kinds of options so I don’t have to go back… and I really liked it there. But if it doesn’t go better…
      ANYWAY before I get removed. If you used to suffer from depression but don’t anymore… how did you know it was gone?
      Honestly, I feel like everyone is telling me to just buck up… and I just feel like retreating into my shell and not speak to them anymore so they don’t tell me that again, and slowly speak to no one, at all.
      However I still need to eat and shelter, so depression or not, I still have to find a way to get up and face them all Monday. And I really, REALLY don’t want to.

    4. Sam Sepiol*

      A friend of mine ran a session on boundary setting and self care. She shared the notion of Replenish First. So if you need to do something hard? Take time BEFOREHAND to care for yourself to ensure it doesn’t deplete you too much. This may be a game changer for me.

      I’m so sad and everything is very hard.

    5. Slartibartfast*

      Trying to cage the brain weasels with limited success. Got a new job, really like it, getting the computer program and workflow down, pretty good check in on Wednesday except….I am oversharing and coming across as argumentative when I am trying to be helpful and all the Aspie-like stomping on social boundaries that I should have been watching out for but didn’t because they’re a great office and I got comfortable too quickly and now I feel about 2 inches tall. Hubs doesn’t get it, because I have a new job now, being forced out of Toxic Job was 2 years ago, and losing the 5 month follow up because I was not a good fit is all in the past, right? I have finished my schooling that I wanted to do and got a job, why am I not Happy? Well mostly I am, but I am also terrified of the Universe pulling the rug out from under me and being fired, again, for things that I don’t realize I am doing until I have done them. I see it in hindsight. SoI am going to write some script s to follow, post some notes on my laptop to follow those scripts and otherwise STFU!!!! and try to get over the embarassment I’m currently feeling. Hubs is mostly a great guy, my main supporter, but he’s a black and white thinker and isn’t much help with illogical emotional issues. He’s been 100 times more patient with me than I thought he was capable of through all this, but he’s worn out too. I can’t keep leaning on him for this but I don’t have anyone else, so thanks for letting me dump this here. Letting the brain weasels out for a little internet stroll sometimes tires them out so they take a nap.

    6. 653-CXK*

      This week was a slow one, but a good one.

      – My brother, sister in law, mother and I had a good, peaceful (as in no drama) Thanksgiving dinner. It was also very, very cold (24 degrees!) so we were thankful to stay in and enjoy hashing some old stories.
      – I was planning to go to Downtown Boston Friday, but ended up staying home because of the cold (and mainly because of the crazies looking for bargains). I ended up going out yesterday, had a good lunch, and then wandered around.
      – I’m fed up with Christmas hype already. It’s gotten way, way, WAY out of hand; not even after putting the Halloween items away does the Christmas hype start. Earning a dollar is fine; browbeating us for it from November 1 to December 24 is not.
      – Before the year is out, I’d like to take a day trip up to Portland, Maine. I used to go up there once a year either by the Downeaster or by bus; it’s not a bad ride, and it’s not overly expensive (round trip by Downeaster is $48; same-day return by bus is $36). The only thing I’m afraid of is getting a call for an interview or a job offer – that and the last time I took Amtrak, an Amtrak police officer at Providence kept eyes on me while I was waiting for the train back to Boston (got to admit, though – 35 minutes by Amtrak beats almost an hour by commuter rail)

  43. Anon Accountant*

    Has anyone started learning martial arts in your 30s or older? I always wanted to when younger but we didn’t have enough money for lessons. Getting older and more adventurous I think. :)

    (Leaving in an hour for my cousin’s 21st birthday party from 5-9).

    1. Claire*

      I started martial arts when I was in my early 40s, mostly because my then 6-year-old wanted me to. He and I both ended up earning a second degree black belt. It was a lot of fun. Yelling and smashing boards can be quite cathartic. After seven years, my son and I both quit, but I sometimes think I should look for a new school.

    2. Alpha Bravo*

      As a 57-year-old martial arts enthusiast, I say go for it! It’s helped keep me fit and it just feels good to me.

      1. Claire*

        Word! I remember at my first black belt test, one of the candidates was 60. And had just recovered from pneumonia.

    3. OLD*

      Started krav maga shortly after turning 30 and its been great fun so far! You probably need a decent pain threshold (loooots of bruises) and it would definitely help if you have ok physical shape when you start (for my class at least) but otherwise I love the challenge of it and the people are all extremely welcoming! We regularly get lots of older men trying (and occasionally joining) – alas, not enough older women.

      1. ScotKat*

        Oh, what’s krav mega like? I wondered about trying it, but I’m a small woman and not sure if it’s for me! Although I run and do yoga so I am in decent shape, and I don’t mind bruises (I manage to inflict plenty on myself from daily life, ha).

    4. The Original K.*

      A woman I know started karate at 30. I met her when she was … 38, I think, and she was a black belt by then. I found out she was a black belt first and assumed that she’d started as a kid and she said nope! 30. I see no reason not to explore activities at any age, assuming your health and wallet can handle it. I have a gym buddy who ran her first marathon at 55. She’s about 70 now and is one of the most physically fit people I know.

    5. Rick Tq*

      I started training in Aikido when I was 55 and achieved 1st level black belt in 2016 when I turned 60. I’m still training and was almost ready to test for 2nd level this year. Sensei is 74 (I think) and our senior instructor is 82 and still taking break falls. Aikido a grappling art with joint locks and throws with some features of Judo but not the ground fighting of Jiujitsu. I train in an older school that is more direct action and less flowing but we don’t do board strikes or high kicks.

    6. annakarina1*

      I got into Muay Thai initially in my late twenties, and have been doing it regularly since I was thirty (I’m 35 now). It’s a tough workout, and I’ve learned a lot about defending myself and countering during sparring, though I mostly now stick to general workout classes, I’m not as hardcore as others. It’s great for self-defense and working out, and I like it a lot.

    7. Kuododi*

      I started with Tracy System Kempo in my late 30s. ( That Sensei told me about having taught a woman who started martial arts in her 80s after having been mugged.) Ive additionally studied Shuri Gojo Ryu Karate and Wing Chun Kung-fu. (I miss it terribly however it is not a terribly cost effective activity in my experience.)

    8. How to select a type?*

      Hijacking on this thread: does anyone know of a resource for helping adults select a type of martial arts to try? There are tons of studios and tons of practices, but I haven’t been able to find a tool to help someone make a choice as to what to try. TIA.

      1. Rick Tq*

        What are you looking for? Physical fitness, flexibility, mental stimulus, real-world applications? Are you ok with punching/striking and kicking? Are you looking for something formalized (kendo) or more real-world (krav maga)? Is the studio part of a franchised chain or is the owner/senior instructor part of a school/method?
        Here is my breakdown of some arts:
        Striking: Boxing, karate, tae kwan do, muy thai, kempo, kung fu
        Grappling: Judo, Aikido, Jiujutsu, wrestling
        Mixed: Krav Maga, MMA
        Weapons: Fencing, Kendo, Chinese weapons forms, HEMA

        Good luck, and get on a mat!

    9. Mrs. Fenris*

      I did karate for 5 years starting at age 37. For the record, I’m in pretty good shape but it’s from solitary, simple activities like running and weights…I’m a klutz and I have serious anxiety about doing any kind of sports or group classes. So I found myself in a group of strangers doing a very complex physical activity…and I loved it. My God, that was some of the most fun I’ve ever had. I made it *almost* to black belt, learned to do a bunch of things I didn’t think I could do, and felt like a badass. Highly recommend.

  44. Jaid_Diah*

    I just started following Greta Van Fleet. The lead singer is a 22 year old vocal dead ringer for Robert Plant of Led Zepplin.

    I also follow Simon and Martina. They started out in Korea as English teachers, but their YouTube videos of their life there (originally posted to reassure their families that they were ok), snowballed into minor YouTube empire. Now they live in Japan. They’re nice, entertaining folks. Martina has EDS, so her “Build a Ladder” thing is good to see on painful days.

    1. Lcsa99*

      Just listened to one of their songs on YouTube and you’re not kidding about Greta Van Fleet! That’s awesome.

    2. Rebecca*

      I was introduced to them last December by my son in law. Oh my goodness, I thought it was Led Zeppelin that I had somehow missed in my youth! I love their music. I also find that I like Stone Sour, especially Song #3.

      1. NovemberRing*

        Saw Greta Van Fleet in concert in September! It was fantastic!
        I joined their Facebook page and had advance info on concert dates, so was able to get great tickets.

    3. it's all good*

      My hubby just introduced me too! We just missed the concert stop in our town. Going next time for sure. I will close my eyes and pretend I’m listening to Led Zep (like I do when we go to cover band concerts).

  45. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    Spending much-needed time with in-law fam at a cold chilly beach house area. House itself is cozy, and thanks to allergy meds, enjoying being around the puppy.

    Also—Aunt Flo’s almost 1.8-2 weeks late. Thinking it’s probably stress (I mean, going through clearance and j-word transitions and a 2 hr time zone difference causes late periods.)


    1. L.*

      I’m in a similar boat being late. But between recent frequent travel, a cold that won’t go away, a lot of stuff going on at work, and starting a new form of birth control, I’m not terribly surprised. Cramps tell me it’s coming. Just it’s own schedule, not mine. Mine will come to visit right before boarding for my flight Friday night, if only because that’d be the worst possible time. I tried finding feminine products in a large, international airport once and completely failed. We were nearing disaster due to a delayed flight. So if you’re flying home, maybe pick some up on the way just in case.

    2. Parenthetically*

      Well, 1.8-2 weeks late is more than early enough to take a pregnancy test, that’s for sure.

      If you’re not on a hormonal BC, I highly recommend learning about how to spot ovulation — if your cycle is unusually long and you’re NOT pregnant, knowing when you ovulate is priceless, because the second “half” of your cycle (after you ovulate) is the one that doesn’t vary, and stress can delay ovulation. Long first half of your cycle = no biggie. Long second half of your cycle = probably pregnant.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Slower than I had expected! We adopted younger cats because we really thought Olive needed a playmate since she has such a high play drive … but it’s taking her a while to come around. She’s very interested in them and often follows them around, but she mostly still hisses when they try to play with her. She’s moving in the right direction, just much more slowly than I thought she would. (It’s interesting because when we adopted Eve three years ago, Olive was determined to be her BFF from the very start — but she was only two years old herself at the time, and that might be why.)

      Eve, on the other hand, desperately wants to play with them, especially Wallace, but she’s a little too rough and so they’re a bit wary of her. They’re working it out though, and we’re supervising closely.

      Lucy has always taken a few months to be okay with new cats, and she’s on that same path here. But she’s fine co-existing with them – will lie down near them, etc. and is fine as long as they don’t get in her space (at which point she makes angry noises at them and stalks off).

      It’s clear they’re all going to get along in the end though. They’re just taking some time! Fortunately Sophie and Wallace aren’t at all deterred and continue to make social overtures to them. I think it helps that they have each other to play with and the other cats are sort of a bonus to them.

      It’s been interesting to watch it all unfold, and it’s been slow but steady progress. And meanwhile they all tend to want to hang out in the same space together, which is nice.

      1. tangerineRose*

        They’re using non-violent communication – with kitties getting used to each other, that’s great! I’m glad they’re on track to get along. And hanging out together is nice!

        I wonder if the new momma kitty is bigger than Eve was at first – Olive might be intimidated by the new momma but have been less intimidated if Eve was tiny at first.

      2. Cruciatus*

        This makes me feel a little better. I got a new kitten at the beginning of October and our resident cat is still pretty pissed about it. The kitten looooooves her but she just will not have it. She’s still growling and hissing almost 2 months later. She hasn’t tried to kill him, which I’m taking as a small victory. She chases him sometimes and I want to think she’s playing but I’m just not convinced because of the snarling that goes with it. The resident cat grew up with other cats and was the only cat for only 1.5 months! I bought Feliway and it did nothing. The kitten had a vet appointment a couple of weeks ago and I mentioned this to the vet and she didn’t seem overly concerned and said it’s still early enough. But I’m so envious of other people I know who have posted pictures of their new cats sleeping with their resident cats after a week or so! I don’t think mine’ll be besties, but I’d love the growling and hissing to at least stop. Here’s hoping…

      3. All Hail Queen Sally*

        Years ago I used to foster multiple cats and I found one way to get them together was to play with them. When they were all in the same room together, I would dangle a string in front of the new cat for them to play with it. After a few minutes, I would dangle the string over by the old cat. Of course, they couldn’t let new cat have all the fun, and they would play as well. I kept moving the string from cat to cat and they would be moving closer to each other. After only a few times of that, they would all be playing together. It always worked–until my current cat–she is now 11 years old and has never accepted another cat. *sigh*

  46. I'm A Little Teapot*

    My Christmas shopping is Done. It’s currently strewn across the living room floor, and some elements are in the mail. But wow, that was exhausting.
    I’ve posted in the past about my interesting neighbor, who cut down my trees without permission. I’m suing them. First step in the process is a letter from the lawyer via registered mail. I’m curious to see if they’re going to pick up their mail – post office attempted delivery Tuesday last week, and as of last night at least they hadn’t picked it up. Some how I don’t think it’s wise to ignore your mail like that. (And yes, they’ve been in town.)

    1. Close Bracket*

      > I’ve posted in the past about my interesting neighbor, who cut down my trees without permission.

      What the heck?!

    2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      Grr. This happened to an old neighbor of my in laws’. The guy has a few problems, primarily being a recluse with very limited funds, and my father in law was in the process of helping him sort out a contentious overgrown tree that was encroaching on the neighbor. Well, before he got a chance the other neighbor got a very expensive tree surgeon to trespass, cut the tree down entirely, and then demanded over a thousand pounds from the owner of the tree! I’m not sure how it was resolved but my father in law was irate. Hopefully your suit is successful. Sounds to me like they know what’s coming and are trying to hide!

      1. I'm A Little Teapot*

        Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the wife (who works from home) is concealing knowledge of the registered letter from her husband. He’s got a LOT to lose – he’s a public official.

  47. Tara R.*

    So I went back through some of my old open thread comments from 2014/2015, which were a really rough couple years for me, and the commenters here were so instrumental in helping me to get through it. There were only a handful of people IRL who knew what was going on, and I felt like I had to put on a brave face for them, so having a group of people that I could just be completely honest with meant so much to me. Especially at 17/18, getting guidance from some grown-ups who weren’t involved in what was going on was really meaningful to me. Here is my almost-3-year update to this post: https://www.askamanager.org/2015/12/open-thread-december-25-2015.html#comment-957451

    That was posted at the end of my first term of university, and I’m now about a year and a half away from graduating, with a year spent on co-op. That B+ was the only non-A I’ve ever gotten, so I’m still a little bitter about it. ;) I’ve got a year of full-time work experience, I work part-time at a job in my industry, and I’m generally doing great. I struggle with mental health stuff a fair bit, but I feel like my life is going in the right direction; I know teenage me would have been so stoked to know that this was what life would be like for her, and I try to hang on to that when times are tough.

    My dad had 30 days at that time, and he kept it up. He has three years now, and a roof over his head. At some point over the last three years, things have really turned around for our relationship. I had a hard time going through some of my old posts because there was so much just raw anger and hurt feelings leaking through. I don’t feel that way anymore. I can’t pinpoint when exactly it happened, but I’ve gone from trying to avoid him as much as possible, to looking forward to chatting with him occasionally and having a fun time hanging out.

    We’ve both changed to a certain degree, but I think that growing up has been the biggest difference. If I can tell he’s in a bad mood, I don’t have to brace myself for a week of being terrorized– I can just say “Talk to you soon!” and go back to my life and my friends and my work. I don’t expect him to be something he’s not anymore. He’s a man with deep, deep trauma and a host of mental health issues, and now that I’m free from the day-to-day of that, I can appreciate that he tries his absolute hardest and I’ve never had to doubt his love for me. His life is still really hard and unstable and full of drama, and while I worry about him and hope for the best for him, I feel at peace knowing that there’s nothing I can do besides letting him know that I love him. Things aren’t perfect, but they’re so, so much better, and sometimes I have to look back at how they used to be to fully appreciate that.

    I’ve said this before, but I’m really grateful that I stumbled across AAM as a seventeen year old and that I was so intrigued by the “an employee is putting magic curses on her coworkers” letter that I decided to stick around. I know a lot of people from back then are still around; I want to say thank you so much to everyone who gave me a little bit of encouragement and kindness when I really, really needed it.

    1. fposte*

      I’ve thought about you and the changes in your life, Tara, and it’s been great to watch you as you problem-solved your way through some tough years to such good ends. I’m so glad you got to a good place and you’re still commenting here.

      1. Tara R.*

        Thank you. <3 I'm so happy that you're still around too! You never fail to give excellent advice in a compassionate way.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Oh I love this.
      Congratulations on pulling so much of your life together. It will be a long time, if ever, that anything is this hard again. I am so impressed with all you have accomplished.
      I saw you posting on and off and I hoped you would update us. But I took the fact that you were posting to mean that life was moving along for you. I have thought of every so often and sent out good vibes randomly.
      I think you are brave and smart and you make great choices that is an unbeatable combination to have.

      1. Tara R.*

        Thank you so much. I think when the chaos calmed down, I needed to put it out of my mind as much as possible for a little while, and throw myself into school/work/friends/literally anything else, but I often thought of the advice and kindness I received here. It means a lot to know that you were thinking of me too.

    3. Woodswoman*

      Although I wasn’t on AAM back when you first posted, I want to say how moving your story is. Congratulations for all that you, and your dad, have accomplished!

      1. Tara R.*

        Thank you. I try to remember to tell my dad how proud I am of him. He’s a survivor through and through.

    4. Observer*

      I’m so glad you’re in a good place. I think you are right the growing up helped a lot. But, not just in the sense that you got more mature, but that you have more physical distance and more options. And you are using those options guilt free.

      I hope your Father stays clean, but if there is ever a relapse, remember it is JUST FINE to keep using your options, and not “mean” at all.

  48. Considered Secularist*

    I had a very unsettling experience today. I had treated myself to lunch at a restaurant I have been wanting to try for a long time. It was crowded and the tables were quite close together. A man and a woman sat down next to me and she made some small pleasantry to which I replied briefly and with a small smile, not wanting to be rude but not wanting to engage either as I was reading a good book and enjoying my food. I was vaguely aware that when their food came they held hands and said some kind of blessing which, eh, not for me but I have relatives who do that so it didn’t seem very odd. I was also vaguely aware that they were engaging with the table on the other side of them. When I got up to leave, the woman said “have a great day” or something to that effect while the man looked at me fairly intensely. As I walked away from the restaurant I was hailed and turned around to see the man approaching me. He said, “you seem like you are having a tough time in your life, is that true?” “Not particularly” I said, my New England reserve internally adding “and if I were I’d not be discussing it with you.” He said, “I belong to a church and it just seems like you need prayers to get your life back on track. Can I pray for you?” I responded, “I am not a believer but you do as you like.” To be honest, I have no idea what I thought I was consenting to but he apparently thought I was consenting to a laying on of hands and public prayer right there in the parking lot as he reached for my shoulder and started “Oh heavenly father”. Luckily I have extremely well-honed responses to that kind of boundary invasion (see: previously-mentioned relatives) and he did not make contact as I leapt backwards and said “No! I do not want to pray with you!” and strode off across the parking lot to my car. It was very upsetting to me, some of my relatives have been very pushy and judgy in this area and although years of very firm boundary-setting from me has caused them to largely keep their opinions to themselves (as I very assiduously do my own) now that my parents are gone my family is a fairly lonely place for me. Also, as I stewed over this I became quite angry. Who asks a complete stranger if they are going through a tough time in their life? I mean what was that about? Had I not performed happiness and contentment to his satisfaction? I mean, wtf church guy???

    1. Not So NewReader*

      It happens often enough. And many people get an answer of yes, please pray with me. Actually it’s surprising how many times people are okay with it.
      HOWEVER, not everyone and not all the time.
      I do think he tripped up over the “but do as you like” part and read that as permission to proceed. There is nothing wrong with speaking very clearly and saying NO. You can add, thanks if you wish or not.

      I am a church going person. When my father was in the hospital this minister came up to me and asked me if he could help. Meanwhile, through the glass wall of my father’s room one could clearly see that they were doing CPR with the paddles and drugs as he had died for the fifth time in two weeks. It was a surprisingly violent scene and I could not think. When the minister asked if there was anything he could do, I simply said, “I guess not.” The minister wandered off. The guy was mean/judgey or so he seemed to me and the fact that he did not know what to do set me right on edge. My point is that even church going people tell others NO in some situations.

      In my case the guy just did not know how to handle the situation (it was unusually violent), he could not get a good read on things. In your case the guy took what you said as agreement. Subtle does not work and just answering clearly does not mean you are rude. It’s okay to answer clearly.

      My father actually lived through that. Two weeks later, I was sitting in a hospital room with him just talking at him because he could not participate. A different minister walked in. He took one look at my father and his eyes filled with terror. My father looked awful, I did not know a human being could look that bad and still live, so I felt bad for the minister. When I said yes, pray with us, I thought the guy was going to start crying because he was that afraid of what he saw. This time I felt bad for telling this minister yes. He prayed anyway.

      By all means, do answer clearly with solid no.

      1. Someone Else*

        I’ve got to disagree with part of what you’re saying. I don’t really see a problem with the “do as you like” because I don’t think most people who ask “can I pray for you?” mean “and I will do so right now and touch you while I do so”. Usually that means they’re gonna go away back to their own lives and when in church or next praying in general, do it then. Considered Secularist’s response didn’t strike me as a “no do not pray for me” (or really even an attempt at politeness to skirt having to say that), it was basically an “I don’t do this, but don’t give a shit what you do”. It’s a boundary crossing person who takes “you do you” as “touch me now”. On the one hand, this dude already established himself as a boundary crosser, so going more directly to language that indicates one’s intent to leave immediately and discontinue the interaction may have been more productive, but that’s hindsight.

        1. Considered Secularist*

          What Someone Else said. To the extent I thought anything, I thought he’d go away and pray. My aunt often says “I will pray for you” but she doesn’t in front of me. But true, he had already established himself as a boundary crosser.

          Thanks everyone for your thoughts and the confirmation that for most, this just seems weird and boundary-crossing. And for those who see good intent there, you are likely right that his intentions were good even if I found them deeply presumptuous and unwelcome.

      2. Observer*

        I get what you are saying. But this is completely on the stranger. The person who was totally unclear was the stranger! “Can I pray FOR you?” does not in any way, shape or form imply “Can I do a laying of hands?” or “Can I pray WITH you right here and now in public?”

        Considered, on the other hand was quite clear -they do not care if you pray FOR them. But no one ever asked them about praying WITH them. When the stranger tried that, they EXPLICITLY said no.

    2. Anono-me*

      I want to preface this by saying: I am a woman who believes prayer helps.

      I would report this to the restaurant as creepy behavior, especially if you would like to return.

      A strange man followed you out of a restaurant, tried to talk to you in a more secluded area, and then tried to lay hands on you. I know some people are going to say, “But the strange man wanted to PRRAAAYYY with Considered Secularist.” My answer is a strange man followed Considered Secularist from the well populated restaurant (where the conversation could have been initiated*.) and SAID he wanted to pray before trying to lay hands on Considered Secularist. (For those of you Christians who don’t like the idea the strange man could be lying about prayer in order to do evil; please reference Matthew c.5 v.4).

      * There are only two reasons that I can think of for Strange Man to follow someone who had just a moment before been seated next to him and his wife out to the parking lot to talk. 1. Nefarious intent. 2. Restaurant has already warned Strange Man to let the other guests dine without hassle.

      As far as the obnoxious questions about how you didn’t seem happy enough. I get those way too often and accompanied by an instruction to smile. Usually from men, and so do many women that I know. Usually I just do a grimace smile and roll my eyes.

      1. Merci Dee*

        Ummmmm …. think your verse reference is a little off. Matthew 5:4 is, “blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

        1. </