weekend free-for-all – February 16-17, 2019

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: Seven Days of Us, by Francesca Hornak. A family is forced to spend a week in quarantine together at Christmas. It’s tense, it’s funny, and it does not go quite smoothly.

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

{ 1,426 comments… read them below }

  1. BRR*

    I’m really interested in getting a stand mixer (specifically a kitchen aid) but I’m not sure I’m going to use it enough. While I would like to have constant baked goods in the house, I try to avoid sweets. I think I would use fairly often for homemade breads. If I’m not baking desserts that often, do people think it’s worth it?

    1. Sara Sunshine*

      Honestly, my roommate has one and she never uses it. It’s in a cabinet that is not easy to reach and she prefers to go for my hand mixer when she’s baking if only because she doesn’t want to take it down. Maybe she’ll get more use out of it when she moves out and has a kitchen all to herself to set it up in but at the moment, she sees it as too much hassle to take it down and set it up.

      1. Ed*

        I got a Thermomix instead of a Kitchen Aid mixter. It pretty much does everything the Kitchen Aid will do and more as you can cook in it.i steam my rice, make risotto, soup, milk different kind of flour, and lots of other things. This way my mixer gets used at least 2 to 3 times a week if not more.

    2. LDN Layabout*

      I am still in the craving but can’t afford stage, but there are so many uses beyond sweet baking for a kitchenaid. And that’s even before looking at attachments.

    3. CoffeeforLife*

      You can use to easily shred cooked chicken, make dips, whip fresh cream, make butter from cream. I guess my personal savory list is limited but! she looks so pretty when I use her. I find that when I am faced with a recipe that calls for constant mixing I am happy I have one.

    4. Book Lover*

      We have one for pizza dough and so on. I use it for baking rarely. But we have a big kitchen so it just sits quietly in a corner. I think you would not expect to use it daily, so need to think about space?

      1. BRR*

        Space is probabaly the biggest con. I’m short on counter space and I’m worried I would bet too lazy to take it out.

        1. only acting normal*

          They are *heavy* so if they’re not on the counter I’ll bet getting them in and out of a cupboard becomes too much trouble.

          1. I’m actually a squid*

            Honestly, that’s the reason I’ve stuck with hand-held mixers. Our appliance storage is in the dining room and I’ve learned that unless that appliance can justify being on the counter full-time or fits in our tiny upper cabinets, it won’t get used.

          2. zaracat*

            There are some really excellent appliance shelves you can get which fit inside an under-bench cupboard and lift out and up so the mixer is level with the bench for use (eg rev-a-shelf). Solves the benchspace problem, but they are quite expensive.

          3. pentamom*

            I actually put off getting one until I had counter space on which to keep it. They really are too bulky to take in and out frequently. I mean a reasonably able person can do it, but it’s hard enough that it would be a discouragement from using it.

            I really wanted one, though, so I got creative about making room for it and keeping other things off the counters.

        2. Parenthetically*

          I keep mine on the bottom shelf of an étagère in my kitchen, so it’s only a very small pain to get out. If I had to go to another room to get it, or god forbid take it down out of an upper cupboard? Forget it. They’re SO heavy.

    5. Lilysparrow*

      If you like kneading dough by hand and don’t mind investing the time, you don’t need one.

      OTOH, I make a lot more homemade pizza crust with it than I would without it, because it cuts the time way down.

    6. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I waited a long time to get mine and finally did for my birthday a few years ago. For me, it is SO worth it. I bake bread as a hobby (though I haven’t for a while; right now I have a starter bubbling for my first loaf in a couple of months) and I love using my stand mixer. I just got the pasta roller and cutter attachments for Chanukah and I’ve made homemade pasta, homemade ramen, homemade potstickers…

      If you enjoy the process of cooking and you do it often, the Kitchen Aid is totally worth it. I wouldn’t get it if you’re only an occasional cook or if you find the process of baking tedious.

    7. School Psych*

      If you are going to use mainly for bread, maybe a bread maker instead? My sunshine bread maker was around 100 bucks on amazon, doesn’t take up much counter space and I use it all the time. It can also be used as a rice cooker, to make jams and yogurt and to make pizza dough.

      1. Ead01s*

        Agreed; stand mixers are great for cakes, cookies and such, but if bread is your main goal, a bread machine is the way to go. I had a Kitchen Aid mixer for years, but burned it out using it to knead bread dough. The motor is just not made for that. We got a Zojirushi bread machine a few years ago and it’s still going strong. It’s great because all you have to do is dump the ingredients in and it kneads and bakes the bread for you. Or use the dough setting for pizza, rolls, etc. The best is using the timer setting and waking up to fresh bread in the morning

      2. pentamom*

        I’m going to dissent here — stand mixer bread is much better than bread machine bread. I had a bread machine for a while and the product that comes out of that is, IMO, inferior. If you bake bread frequently, it is worth having a stand mixer just for that.

    8. Wicked Witch of the West*

      I got one at least seven years ago with credit card points. I had coveted one for decades. I’ve never used it. Space is not really an issue, so it is part of my kitchen decor. Would I do the same again, probably (it’s just so pretty).

    9. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      If you have the space, they last forever and don’t wear out, so consider it a long-term investment. I got one for a wedding gift in 1993 and it is still going strong.
      Consider buying it off Craigslist/local market place (new in box) either post-Christmas / have to raise money to pay taxes, or right after wedding season. I saw a much nicer one than mine, for $100 new-in-box. Clearly someone got it as a gift and didn’t know what to do with it.
      I’ve also picked up a few attachments over time on the black Friday sales and other places. Or if you have a circle of friends and want to “try” an attachment (make sure it fits) like the noodles, etc, try before you buy.
      My sister made me a cute cover for it, and I had it (for a long time) on a rolling cart, so I didn’t have to get it out, but could roll it to my “baking corner” in my last place.

      1. Marika*

        Yes… UNLESS you get a Costco model… I got one as a wedding gift – it lasted 3 years and burned out. Turns out, the ones sold at cheaper places have plastic gears, not metal – they don’t last, ESPECIALLY with bread dough.
        Check your model numbers carefully before you buy!

        For the record, I’ve now got a top-of-the-line one that lives on my counter, gets used all the time even though I’m basically medically banned from most things containing flour or sugar, and will be all but the last thing that gets packed when I move at the end of next month!

        1. BRR*

          Interesting. I was looking at one from Costco so I’ll need to imvestigate further. From what I’ve learned so far they switched to plastic gears at one point in the early or mid 2000s but after a huge hit to their reputation switched back.

          1. Natalie*

            If you bake a lot of bread, I’d really recommend avoid the tilt-head models (which is what’s usually available at Target, etc) and get one of the bowl lift models. The tilt head just isn’t that strong and lots of heavy duty work like bread wears on it.

        2. pentamom*

          There are different grades. Do not get the lowest end one, which is probably what the Costco version is. Get at least the Artisan model, or one above that if you want to spend more and have more capacity.

    10. Lost in the Woods*

      Depends on what you like to bake. If you’re just planning on making basic breads most often, then you probably don’t need one, but they are an absolute necessity for enriched doughs (not just sweet breads, but anything like Challah or Brioche). I love mine, but I also love bread. I don’t buy bread at all, and I really enjoy trying out new recipes. If you’re just tipping your toes into baking, there’s a lot you can do without a stand mixer. If you start finding there are a lot of things you’d like to make which require it, then you could get one and know you’d use it. (I really recommend the America’s Test Kitchen “Bread Illustrated” book; it takes you through the science of bread and offers a lot of options at various skill levels. It’s written with a stand mixer in mind, but they always indicate when a recipe really requires the stand mixer versus using it out of convenience).

      If you get one, don’t keep it in an upper cabinet; it’s impossible to get down. Mine is inherited (c. 1975) and it’s probably 30lbs. I’ve not worked with a more recent model, but I would guess that they’d be a tad lighter. I keep mine in a lower cabinet, and I pull it out to do things in batches. You can keep all the basic heads (paddle, whisk, and dough hook) in the bowl, so it doesn’t take up more room than the footprint.

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I use my kitchenaid less than I’d like, and more than I will. I find I prefer kneading my own bread–but my hands are starting to ache at night so that may end soon. I love the sausage grinder/stuffer attachment. I’ve also heard if you use a lot of kale, the bread paddle does a faster job kneading/breaking it than hands.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I just bumped into my comment and notice that I reversed a key phrase– less than I will use it in future, because I’m afraid I’m developing arthritis.

    12. Bye Academia*

      I have one of the mini 3.5 quart ones and I really like it. I don’t use it that often but it’s small enough it can go in a lower cabinet pretty easily. Still somewhat heavy, but not as heavy as the normal size. I’m always glad to have it when I do use it. If the small one would fit your bread recipes, it’s something to consider if space is an issue for you.

    13. kneadmeseymour*

      I think a stand mixer is a slightly odd kitchen appliance in that there isn’t much you can’t make without one, but it does make many things easier. If you only like to make pretty standard breads and very rarely make desserts, I’m not sure it would be worth it. But if you see yourself making a lot of brioche or cinnamon buns, or make things like meringue or buttercream with any regularity, you could get a fair amount of use out of it. Also, mine has a pasta making attachment which I really like.

    14. Koala dreams*

      I’m not sure why you would need a stand mixer for desserts, they seem more useful for making bread. Especially if you make big batches of bread, since it cuts down on the work of mixing and kneading.

      1. Doreen*

        It really depends on what “desserts” you’re making and how much of them. I can use a hand mixer for most cake batters – but they don’t work for a lot of cookie doughs. I can mix those by hand if I’m making a couple of dozen – but not if I’m baking in large quantities. I didn’t start baking bread until I had my Kitchen Aid for nearly 15 years – until then, I used it mostly for cookies, whipped cream, pastry fillings etc.

      2. Parenthetically*

        It gets through cookie dough like a dream, and can whip up giant batches of meringue or frosting. Obviously not many people are hauling it out for a crumble.

    15. The Other Dawn*

      It really depends what you’ll be using it for and how often. I’ve had mine for probably 10 years. I use it a few times a year. I would say it’s worth it to me since what I use it for is typically making buttercream frosting. The kind with a pound of butter, egg yolks and a hot corn syrup and sugar mixture. That takes a lot of mixing so a stand mixer is great for that. I also use it for making brownies and cakes, and sometimes cookies. There’s also the occasional batch of homemade whipped cream. Luckily I can store it out of the way so it’s no big deal to pull it out when I need it.

      I would say if you’ll use it often, it’s worth it. If you’ll use it only a few times a year, but it will greatly cut down on manual work like kneading, long mixing times, or mixing very thick batter, then it’s worth it. If it’s just to mix up boxed cake mix a few times a year, probably not worth it.

    16. Traveler*

      No. I got one 7 years ago and I’ve used it maybe 20 times. It’s great for baking, but if you’re not doing it all the time… I don’t think its worth it. Its one of those things, for me at least, that sounded better than it was. For most jobs I just get my little hand mixer out.

    17. Genevieve shickley*

      I have a KitchenAid. It was wonderful while I was a house/duplex renter.

      Now I am in a two bedroom apt and the kitchen is really dinky. The only place to store it is on the washer in my laundry room. It is heavy and a pain to move, but because the kitchen is so small, the mixer has to be stored as soon as I am finished with it.

      BUT if you have room, it can be wonderful. I have a pasta attachment, 3 shredding blades, two bowls and 2 whisk beaters so I don’t have to stop to wash attachments as often. I also have a neat grinder, so I can get decent cuts if meat on sale, and grind my own meat fir hamburgers, spaghetti, meatloaf etc.

    18. Autumnheart*

      If you want to make homemade bread and aren’t sure you will put a KA stand mixer to enough use to justify the cost, I would recommend buying a bread machine instead. I would recommend the Zojirushi brand. They do a wonderful job and can also be used to bake quickbreads and to make dough (e.g. pizza dough).

    19. dawbs*

      I have a bosch (which is, IMO, a bit of an upgrade from my past kitchenaid) and I don’t use it all the time–but it has definitely been worth it for me.
      THe ability to have something that’s not ME stir up a double batch of buckeye dough while I prep the chocolate, the ability to turn on the frosting and come back 3 minutes later and have it be perfectly fluffy buttercream, etc. All worth it. BUT, I can easily go a month or 2 without using it.
      THey’re definitely, IMO, something to consider getting refurbished w/ warranty or used.

      That said, if it’s mostly for breads, I’d consider a good breadmaker instead (I got one last year and, sometimes it goes a while between uses, but, also totally worth it. I use it to make jam too)

    20. noahwynn*

      I had one that I found at Goodwill for $50. I used it occasionally for bread dough and it was awesome. However, when I moved I got rid of everything that wouldn’t fit in my car and so it was given away on Nextdoor.

      I’d buy one again if I found a good deal. However for the moment I’m getting by with a bread maker I bought at the thrift store for $10. Does what I need and I rarely make other baked goods.

    21. Call me St. Vincent*

      I actually JUST got one and I LOVE IT! I got it on sale at Kohl’s for around $250, which is a pretty good deal, but I wish I got it sooner. Just go for it :). (I got it in white to match my kitchen!)

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Have you seen the stickers made to fit them? I’m seriously tempted to bling mine up….

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Well worth a google search…join me down the rabbithole! The Wonder Woman decal sets make me wish for a red mixer. My daughter wants a Harry Potter potions theme. But I’m picturing where it currently sits and really that space could use some folk art color… let the dithering commence.

    22. Where’s my coffee?*

      Do it.

      I held off for years because I’m not a huge baker. But now that I have one, it makes things easier and I wished I’d splurged sooner. Potatoes, whipped cream, meatloaf, cakes. Not that these were difficult without the mixer, but nicer with.

    23. Everdene*

      My KitchenAid is one of my favourite things. Sometimes it goes weeks without being used and then other times (Christmas) it just never stops. Remember they can be used for things like mashed potatoes and pulled pork as well was cakes and doughs.

    24. Parenthetically*

      I have one, got it 15 years or so ago, and use it once or twice a month, probably. Say you’re using it to bake homemade bread a couple times a month, plus for other now-and-then tasks (it’s great for holiday baking, and big batches of things for larger gatherings) — does that seem like “enough” usage over the 20+ year lifetime of the appliance to justify its purchase? The answer is for sure going to depend on your budget, storage space, and preferences. I definitely use my stick blender and my hand mixer more often, but the KitchenAid sure comes in handy, and it is a major effort-saver for bread!

      1. M&Ms fix lots of Problems*

        Have to echo the “other sometimes tasks” comment. My family makes laundry soap from scratch, and it got so much easier to do that when we got our mixer and the shredding attachments. Huge batches of mashed veggies (potatoes, squash, etc) or cookie cakes are so much easier with a stand mixer too.
        Plus, CHEESECAKE!!! I don’t think my hubby would make as many cheesecakes as he does if I didn’t have a stand mixer. My hubby makes a really good New York style cheesecake.

    25. Floating Shift*

      I love my KitchenAid, although I would echo the statement someone else made about how sometimes, it doesn’t get used much and then all of a sudden, it’s in heavy rotation. My advice is, especially if you’re able to get one for a good price via Craigslist, etc., is to treat yourself to a cover for it — it helps keep it clean and dust-free and also can give you an extra place to store the different accessories. Target and Kohl’s both have these. Also, I found it made using my Kitchen-Aid 100% better when I purchased a scraper blade (also known as a scraper bowl attachment) — it has a rubber edge so that as the blade/thing goes around and around, it scrapes the bowl. Makes it much easier for using with cake batter and cookie dough so you’re not constantly stopping it and scraping it down manually.
      It is heavy, so I have mine on a kitchen towel on the counter, pushed under the corner so it’s out of the way — and that way, I can slide it forward when I want to use it.

    26. Floating Shift*

      Maybe one of these would work? https://slate.com/human-interest/2019/02/best-stand-mixer-kitchenaid-artisan-mini-millennials.html
      Per the article: ” It’s 25 percent lighter and 20 percent smaller than a regular KitchenAid mixer, and clearly targeted toward millennials who live in cities. The mixer can handle all the same attachments as its predecessor (minus the ice-cream maker) and comes in a rainbow of colors . . . ”

      I love my big KitchenAid but it does take up room on the counter and it’s heavy.

      1. Jaid*

        I’ve seen the attachment that works like a sprializer, except it creates sheets of veggies instead of strips, like for lasagna. That said, I don’t really have room for even the Mini on my counter and definitely no room to store it..

    27. Loopy*

      I’ve been baking A LOT and I don’t have one, I find myself wishing for one most often for large quantities, mainly doubling frosting, doing huge batches of cupcakes, cookies, etc. I absolutely CAN do everything with a hand mixer but often I have to do it twice to double things.

      My ONLY reason for not getting one was the space issue, we have zero counter space for it. I’d say if you plan on making big batches of anything, it sure makes it easier (I’ve used them with others who have them).

    28. Phoenix Programmer*

      The paddle shreds meat like a boss. I’ll toss cooked chicken in and a min of med-high its perfectly shredded.

    29. Bookslinger*

      I love my KitchenAid mixer. It’s an investment. You can buy meat grinding (sausage), pasta-making and ice cream attachments. There are more, but that’s what comes to mind. I don’t bake as much as I used to, but I don’t for a moment regret buying one, especially now that arthritis makes it painful to knead dough the way I used to.

    30. The Doctor is In*

      I grew up with a Kitchenaid in the home as a child, and have had one for 30 years. Even though I don’t use it often, I would not be without one.

    31. foolofgrace*

      The trick with a stand mixer is you have to leave it on the counter. If it’s on a shelf somewhere, you won’t be motivated to pull it down off the shelf to use it. It’s very heavy. That being said, I love mine; I got it on clearance (box missing) and it was one of the best kitchen purchases I ever made. It makes making bread so easy.

    32. Anonymous Poster*

      I’d suggest the book flour salt yeast flour… Or some combination of those words. No need for a stand mixer, and fantastic bread recipes, if that’s what you want the mixer for.

      We use ours a lot, but mostly for sweets.

    33. JLS82*

      It is for a TON more than baking. I use mine all the time, and do not keep any appliances on the counter as I find that very cluttered and sloppy looking. It is heavy, but I mean, whatever, I pick it up and place it on the counter, whatever, no big deal.

      I just made some squash noodles this morning. I have had mine for 15 years and use it constantly.

    34. JediSquirrel*

      There are a lot of attachments available for them: meat grinder, pasta maker, etc. Would you use any of those? If so, it really tips the balance in favor of getting one.

      They are really heavy, though.

    35. Alli*

      I got one last year and I love it! I bake fairly frequently, though I haven’t mustered up the baking courage/time to try bread yet. But for cakes, cookie dough, etc, it’s awesome. I love getting to do everything in one bowl, and it seems to mix much better than me using a hand mixer. Also it makes me feel like an Official Baker, which is a helpful feeling when I completely screw up recipes.

    36. t.i.a.s.p.*

      I love mine AND I NEVER THOUGHT TO USE IT TO SHRED MEAT! So happy I read this thread!

      Usually for a runny batter like cake, I just mix it with a whisk by hand. Some smaller batch things I use my hand held mixer. But for anything thick or in a larger batch (muffins, cookie dough), I use the kitchenaid. I also use it to make whipped cream, butter cream icing, angel food cake, dough (pizza and bread). I don’t have any of the attachments – just the stand mixer, paddle, dough hook and whisk thing for whipping stuff.

      Like others have said, sometimes there will be a stretch where it doesn’t get used much but then there will be a stretch where I use it daily.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I have a mini one. It lives in the basement (we have a finished basement with a lot of storage) on a counter where I keep my other not-often-used kitchen appliances (mandolin slicer, a wok, rice maker, something else I forget). I had no idea it could be used for shredding meat! Really want to try it now!

    37. pcake*

      You might consider a Bosch Compact if you want to do bread and want a small mixer. It’s stronger and has more torque than a lot of mixers, and while it’s possibly not the best for cakes and such, it’s better for tough bread and bagels, stuff like that. I love mine! Btw, it doesn’t come with a standard paddle, but I use the dough hook to cream and stuff like that – it works great.

    38. Environmental Compliance*

      I have both a KitchenAid and a bread maker.

      I use the KA for primarily desserts, though I’ll use it to mix nearly anything (sauces especially). But I’ve never used it to knead bread – I’ll do that by hand if I’m not using my bread maker, because I rarely *don’t* use my bread maker to make bread.

      My KA is really absurdly heavy, and you’re not supposed to drag it across a counter (ruins the mechanism, supposedly), so I when I had little to no counter space, it wasn’t even unpacked. Now that I have ooooodles of counter, I have all the gadgets out. I think by far my most used gadgety thing is the KA, followed very closely by the Ninja. But I make a lot of dessert type things, or sauces. I use the general paddle thing and the whisk the most often.

    39. pentamom*

      One word of advice — invest in the aftermarket silicone-edged beater if you do get the KitchenAid. It completely eliminates bowl scraping for most things.

  2. Sara Sunshine*

    As a guest in someone’s house, is there a polite way to ask they turn off the news?

    I often visit with my father and stepmother for weeknight dinners or weekend afternoon hang-outs. My stepmom is retired and my father is halfway retired. They love to keep the news on the TV 24-7. When they’re eating, exercising, crafting, reading; whatever they’re doing, they have the TV turned onto the news.

    I can’t stand the constant cycle of depressing news; I filter the news I do get very carefully for my own anxiety so it’s getting to the point that I dread visiting them because I know I’ll hear things that upset me. I’m quick to ask if they want to rent a movie just to have anything else on in the background. I have pointedly asked how they can stand to listen to it so often but they’ve said they like to know what’s going on in the world. Given that it’s their home and I’m a guest, do you think I have any standing to ask them to turn it off for the few hours I’m there? When I visited with them yesterday evening, I had to listen to details of a mass shooting, a pending government shutdown, and other such things that made me hurry to leave.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      This is difficult because, like you say, you’re a guest in their home.

      If it was anyone other than your dad and stepmom, I’d say leave it but since this is a familial relationship, you might be able to bring it up with them in a manner such as:

      “Dad, Stepmom, I love visiting you guys but I find the news distracting. Do you mind if we turn it off/turn it down so that we can speak?”

    2. Book Lover*

      It sounds like you have come at it sideways? Suggesting another option, asking if it is bothering them. Have you tried saying that you find it upsetting and you love to visit them but need to cut back if the news stays on? You know the personalities involved – would that evoke sympathy and a more positive response?

      1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

        Seconded – being direct will often get you better results. Asking to rent a movie doesn’t get your point across as well as just telling them you don’t want to listen to the news constantly. I wouldn’t push about it, but it’s worth asking directly.

      2. Natalie*

        Alternatively, if you think they wouldn’t respond well to saying it’s upsetting – how about just saying that it’s distracting? I would find this immensely distracting, I have a hard time focusing on two different voices talking. If the silence is uncomfortable, there’s always music.

    3. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I think you can ask once, directly. If they refuse, I don’t think you should push — they get to decide how to use their house.

      1. JediSquirrel*

        That said, you are also a guest, and you have the choice to not be a guest. If you are direct and they don’t stop it, you can reduce your visits to once a week. If they notice and ask about this, you can and should tell them exactly why.

        They will get the point.

    4. Not A Manager*

      What’s your relationship like with them? As a parent of adult children, I would never want to upset them for no good reason, or have them feel uncomfortable visiting in my home. I think my mother would have felt the same way about me.

      Do you have a relationship where you have to walk on eggshells with them, or can you be pretty straightforward? I agree that as a “guest” in someone’s home, it’s hard to ask them to change what they do in their own house – (although even as a host to someone, I’d certainly turn off the news if it upset them). But are you merely a guest? I hope that you can say, “this really distresses me and makes it hard for me to focus on both of you and our conversations,” and they would respect that.

    5. Lilysparrow*

      Absolutely! This is your dad, it sounds like you’re very close.

      Even if it was a new acquaintance, it’s perfectly polite to say, “Do you mind if we watch something else? I find this very upsetting.” Particularly if it’s a really awful story.

      Since you are close, there’s nothing wrong with saying, “Hey, can we not do the constant news? It really gets under my skin with all the negativity, and I have a hard time shaking it off. It would be a big favor to me if we could put on music or something pleasant instead.”

      Obviously they love spending time with you and you’re important to them. I can’t imagine they’d prefer news noise if they realized it was bugging you so much.

      1. Koala dreams*

        Yes, I think this is the best way! Politely yet direct.

        Don’t do like my mother does it! She stands with her back to the tv and blocks the view while looking annoyed. So rude!

    6. Rebecca*

      My mom does this (I live with her now). Constant Fox News, if not that, religious shows (one was talking about Revelations, complete with fake flames on the screen, when I said, hey, that’s sort of upsetting, Mom said she found it comforting!). Other times at least it’s QVC or Hallmark movies. That’s about all she watches. I go to another room.

      But, if you’re visiting, you can’t do that, and their house, their TV, so – what about suggesting an activity in another room, like looking at photos, playing a board game, going outside for a walk, or going to the kitchen for a cup of tea, something to get them out of the room?

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Actually, I was thinking she CAN do that — if I was there to visit with family, I would stay in a room away from the TV (assuming we weren’t trying to watch something together, like a movie). After all, it’s hard to talk to someone with a TV on in the background, so if they don’t want to talk to you, there’s no reason to be in the same room. I think with her father and stepmother she can ask for some time to talk to them either away from the TV or with the TV off. And if they can’t do that, then I might let them know that I feel like I would rather call then visit, because during visits I feel like I get little to no social interaction with them because of the TV. But then, I also sometimes cannot verbalize if I can hear other conversation. It doesn’t happen often, but once a voice catches my attention, I sometimes find it very hard to stop following it. (Although ironically it doesn’t usually happen in large crowds or at parties, as there’s enough background noise to be selective. It’s usually when there are only two or maybe three sources of speech.)

    7. Asenath*

      I don’t think you can do anything as a guest. I do sympathize, because I’ve cut off most upsetting news in my own life, although I grew up with the assumption that of course everyone sat through the TV evening news together after supper, and some of my relatives liked doing that until they died. Maybe you can find another room to sit in to read or something, or use that time to go for a walk (I know, bad time of year)? You might try getting absorbed in a book or a hobby while in the same room, but it can be difficult to concentrate (or it would be for me), and some people who love watching TV communally also love discussing what they watch, and it bothers them to see someone opting out.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      If true, you could say, “I am having a hard time hearing you over the tv.” This could also include the reason you can’t hear is because the tv is just plain distracting.
      You could pick activities outside their home such as going for lunch or grabbing an ice cream.
      Or you could just walk in, notice the tv on and say, “Oh I see you are busy watching tv. I will come back a different time.”

      For us we had to have a chat with parents. We got “shhhhh’ed” because they were watching tv. When the program was over we got lectured on how we never come over. (We were over every couple days.) Then we got our list of current chores.
      Yeah, may things wrong with the picture. Because there were so many parts to this story we simply said, “It’s rude/hurtful to leave the tv when company comes.” Parents honestly did not know it was rude/hurtful. (I forgot to mention the tv was so loud it precluded conversation pretty much. They did not think the tv was loud.)

      Many people leave their tv on all day for company or for background noise, whatever. But now I see that most people invite their company to another room to visit, so the tv does not interfere with the visit. And the sound is no where near as loud.

      I relate to what you are doing, I tend to think 15 minutes of news is enough for me each day. I can’t fix all that is wrong and I don’t need more stress. Perhaps at some point you can find it to say, “I have had my USRDA of gloom and doom, can we visit in the [kitchen/other room away from tv]?”

    9. Indie*

      I dont see what is impolite about expressing a preference to hosts? “Would you mind” or “How would you feel about” are good phrases. Insistence would be rude, but asking? No.

    10. LCL*

      Since it’s close relatives you have more leeway. Just say please turn off the news, it makes me angry and upset and I’d rather have a nice visit with you. My sister, who never yells at anyone, will bark at me to turn that stuff off if I have the news on longer than 5 minutes.

    11. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’m floored by the relationship dynamics being spoken about in this thread. It’s your parents. Not your friend or some further placed relative where you bring in a lot more etiquette and “guest” manners…it’s your parents.

      I just turn the channel at my parents house. If they’re not readily sitting there, engaged, watching the news, if it’s just background noise, I change the background noise. We usually listen to Food Network when I’m around. They’re my parents, we’re on a different level than friends, so the idea of “it’s their TV”, seriously blows my mind to pieces.

      Granted, my parents are my best friends and we lived together for over 30 years. Now that I don’t live with them, they are too excited to see me to ever be bothered that I turned the channel. They’d look at me like I was off my rocker if I “asked” them to change the channel. All I do is say “Duuuuuuuude, dad we have been listening to the same news story for an hour, are you actually watching this?” and then I ask for the remote or go collect it myself.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Hey, look, you’ve done this a couple times now. You obviously have a really close, low-key, healthy relationship with your parents, but it’s not cool for you to shame or berate people for not having that same kind of relationship with their parents. Your vocal incredulity that some people might not feel comfortable just doing whatever they want around their parents comes off really hurtful here.

      2. Asenath*

        Well, that works for you and for your family. When my parents were alive, I tried to be at least as courteous to them as I would to a stranger, and while I could and did ask if we could watch something else (or nothing), changing the channel on a show they were watching (without even asking!) would have been considered very rude. I would never have done it.

      3. Lilysparrow*

        OP also mentions a stepmom. My dad remarried after I was an adult, so I do not have a “parent” level of familiarity with my stepmom, and their home was never my home.

        At my mom & dad’s house, I would have said, “Hey, come on, do we need this garbage on all the time?” Or “Oh, more bad news!” and switched the channel or turned it off.

        But my stepmom isn’t my mom. She is a nice lady who likes me and makes my dad happy, so we’re very lucky that way. But no way would I do stuff in her house without asking.

      4. pentamom*

        I had a good relationship with my parents, but I was taught (by them) that it is very rude to change a channel or radio station, or turn off a TV or radio, that was turned on by someone else (parents cutting something off that kids are doing, being the exception.) You may ask, but the other person is completely entitled, without being rude, to continue to watch/listen to what they turned on for themselves.

        Not only do family dynamics differ, family cultures differ. You can have a “good relationship” and still have a difficult time navigating certain matters of family culture and etiquette.

    12. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I’m fortunate to have the kind of relationship where I just turn it off if we are talking. All of my family has the TV on constantly and I never have. No idea why but I just find the noise of TV annoying unless I’m deliberately watching something.

      Which is not very helpful for you! But maybe the best way is to just ask if you can turn it off because it’s distracting you from visiting with them. If your dad is anything like mine, saying that the news is upsetting would invite even more upsetting comments about my world view, so I don’t think I’d take that approach. But saying that the constant babbling drives me nuts and makes it hard to talk would be fine.

    13. RunnerGirl*

      In my case, it’s 100% true that I can’t follow their conversation when there is TV/radio noise in the background. Even if you’re not HOH, there’s enough plausible deniability if you take the “background noise” excuse.

    14. Thursday Next*

      I just ask my parents whether we can turn it off. They’re fine with it, since the purpose of my visit is to visit *with* them.

      Honestly, a lot of the time they don’t even realize it’s on; it’s just background noise to them. MSNBC in their case.

      1. Cat Wrangler*

        Your Dad and Stepmother probably don’t even notice the actual news, just the silence when it goes off. I think it woul be good to be direct and ask if you can compromise less news programmes whilst you’re visiting as it makes you feel bad. My Dad loves watching the news but now he gets to see one complete bulletin a day- usually lunch time – and the headlines the rest of the time. Given that the ‘news’ is a lot of speculation or analysis for each headline, he doesn’t miss much. At ny boyfriends house, I just turn it over or off if he leaves it on the 24-news channel. You’ll know if your Dad will be offended or not.

    15. Phrunicus*

      Uggh, I sympathize. We live 1000 miles away from both my parents and my in-laws, so I only see them in person once a year at Christmas, when we spend about a week or so with each. My in-laws are news junkies, to the point where I was longing for previous years’ all-NCAA Bowl Games, All the time (although not one year’s all Family Feud, all the time after dinner – there’s only so much Steve Harvey I can take). So that was bad enough, and then my family doesn’t have the TV on all the time, but kept discussing stuff, and I was just like “I come here for Christmas to GET AWAY from things and enjoy time together, not listen to more rants about politics and how everything’s going to hell”. Sadly, this last point was not received at all :/

  3. ATX Language Learner*

    Happy Saturday everyone! I’ve had some very strong coffee this morning and am feeling jazzed/energized and wanted to share a bit about my language learning journey since so many people want to learn a foreign language or have been for years and do not have the confidence to speak with native people. Since I was about 17 (I am now 31), I have always wanted to speak both Spanish and Portuguese fluently. You know when life passes you by and you have literally done nothing to achieve your personal goals? Well this is how I felt a few years ago and in August 2016 I finally decided to take the plunge and start learning Spanish. I took over 150 hours of one on one classes with 2 native speakers, both from Colombia where every class since the beginning had been in Spanish as well as studying on my own. Vocab lists. Grammar. Conjugations. Sentence structure. I also had language partners from all over the world where I would send text/voice messages through whatsapp and do video calls (30 min English, 30 min Spanish). By September 2018, I was able to speak to anyone from any Spanish speaking country, just about any topic, and for any amount of time (excluding really scientific/tech related topics – I don’t even know how to speak about those in English ha).

    From September 2018 to today, I have focused on perfecting my Spanish with reading/writing/watching shows/speaking and 2019 is the year that I start my journey to Portuguese. I found an amazing teacher on http://www.italki.com who has done over 3,000 classes all with glowing reviews and some of her students have taken over 200 classes with her. I had my first class this past Thursday and she is AMAZING! My main goal was to find a teacher much like my favorite Spanish teacher, who has a master’s degree in teaching Spanish as a foreign language and is a linguistic fanatic. From my experience, it is very difficult to find someone who can take you from an intermediate level to an advanced level because at that point, you’re not focusing on learning the grammar, sentence structures, or conjugations but rather perfecting your fluency through speaking.

    My biggest tip to anyone learning a language is to speak and listen to native people from day one. I recommend learning from someone who has been trained in teaching their native language or who has taught it for many years vs someone who teaches it as a hobby. I have friends who have been learning English for 5-7 years and do not speak well because all they have focused on is learning English from books. They write, read, and listen very well but cannot hold a fluid conversation. Learning a second language takes a lot of practice, time, motivation, dedication, failing + advancing, etc. (especially when you still live in your native country speaking your native language 100% of the time).

    End rant! Hope everyone has a great weekend

    1. CoffeeforLife*

      Wow! Congrats on accomplishing a personal goal – that’s inspiring as I keep telling myself I want to learn Japanese but I just stall out. Thanks for the push!

      1. ATX Language Learner*

        I highly recommend italki.com! There are so many professors from all over the world. I imagine you’d have no problem finding a great one that teaches Japanese :)

    2. Little Bean*

      This is so impressive! I am jealous. I have taken French classes for YEARS and even did a minor in college but it was always classroom French, like your friends – so I could read and write pretty well but never spoke or understood anything like a native speaker. And now it’s been so long that I’ve forgotten a lot. I’m in the middle of a free online class in data science but maybe when I finish that, I’ll try to regain some French!

      1. ATX Language Learner*

        Thank you!! You should totally do it after your data science class! I bet you’d pick it up quickly. I highly recommend italki.com, there are tons of French teachers. Each one has a video and bio so you can hear them speak, as well as learn about their teaching style. Good luck!!

      2. JediSquirrel*

        David Sedaris has a hilarious story about all the students in his French class living in the present tense, commenting on the nice weather, eating wonderful sandwiches in the delightful cafe, all because they are in a basic course. It’s hilarious.

    3. Koala dreams*


      I find youtube and similar services to be a great help when learning languages, you can listen to a variety of topics and often there are subtitles. The video helps you follow along even when you don’t understand every word and as a bonus, you get plenty of ideas for small talk.

      1. Karen from Finance*

        I agree, the main way I became very fluent in English was through consuming a lot of media. I suggest looking into films and TV shows in the language of your interest as you pick up a lot of the casual phrases and usage, and improve your listening comprehension greatly.

    4. KP*

      In the early 2000s I worked in a diner right outside a large metro area. We had a lot of immigrants on staff. We had a juke box that had mostly either pop hits of the moment or classic rock that people especially listen to after they come from in after the bars close.

      And the staff liked all of it — but it was country music they kept punching in at slow times. A cook explained that there is something about country songs that made it so much easier for the staff to learn English. I don’t know what it was precisely. But it did seem to work surprisingly well.

    5. Rebecca*

      I am living in Paris, and I have a Parisian ‘belle-famille’ (in laws) but my language is stalling. I am pretty functional but in big groups I get lost and I am stuck at ‘very literal’. Being funny/sarcastic/ironic is a huge block for me and my in-laws often have to explain that they weren’t being serious/offensive, and it makes me feel either stupid for not getting the joke or like a delicate flower that’s constantly offended. And it’s not just language – vocab lists won’t help the fact that I feel like my entire personality is different in French. I keep wanting to yell ‘I am funny and smart!’ when I’m with French people.

      1. ATX Language Learner*

        I totally feel you! Vocab lists are awful and it takes a long time for the words to get in your long term memory but it does work if you review them daily for about a week in addition to using them when you speak. Here is my method, maybe it would work for you!

        Day 1
        Write down word + translation in English (no more than 15/words per day)
        Find example of word in sentence using the Word Reference app, I write down the sentence so I can see it in context
        Write my own examples of the word in sentences
        On the next page, I write the English translation and translate it to the language I’m learning (I do this 2 separate times)

        Day 2
        I write the English translation and translate it again, doing this 2 times
        I speak out loud to myself or send a recording to friends, using the word. It can be a random story or something made up, the most important thing is that you use it

        Day 4/5
        I repeat what I did on day 2

        By then it’s pretty stuck in your long term memory :)

        If you do this 4 times a week with 15/words each day and 6 months later only remember 50% of the words, well that is 720 new words learned :)

    6. Carrotstick21*

      Oh my gosh – you’ve accomplished my dream! I’m planning to really focus on my Spanish after I complete my masters degree – I have just enough Spanish now to understand when people tell me how in Spanish how terrible my Spanish is. :) It’s a life goal to get better at it.

  4. Anonymous404*

    Hello! Hopefully this is in the right thread. I am going to an industry awards gala for the first time ever (I graduated 1 year ago so I’m still new to all of this) and the dress code is formal- black tie optional. So what kind of dress should I wear? Would it be more like a cocktail dress or should I do a long gown? And it’s an Hollywood theme that said ladies don’t forget your gloves, so what kind of dress would be cute? My mom has no idea, she hasn’t worked in 20+ years and dress codes have changed since then, and I don’t want to look out of place. Thank you!

    1. LibbyG*

      Sounds fun! Are there photos of past years of the event available online that you could consult? “Formal-black tie optional” seems to cover a wide range.

    2. Beth*

      A black sheath (LBD) with a Breakfast at Tiffany’s vibe would work theme-wise, and then when you get tired of wearing the gloves you would still be dressed appropriately.

    3. Sammie*

      If it were me, I would go long gown, since they mentioned the gloves. Or you could channel your inner Hepburn – check out vintage styles. The dress may not necessarily be long but vintage glamour, to me, always wins.

      Have fun!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’m a fan of Katharine, the “other” Hepburn. Especially “Woman of the Year”……oh the tuxedo jacket with slacks! Also a black lace floor length gown of my teenaged dreams.

    4. Marion Ravenwood*

      My go-to for this would be a cocktail length dress, but that’s because I’m short and have a mental block that anything much past my knees makes me look like someone’s hammered me into the floor. But because they mentioned gloves, I’d be more inclined to go for a long dress. Although a vintage cocktail-type dress could be really cute with short gloves (I’d go elbow length for a long dress) – think Jackie Kennedy.

    5. Traffic_Spiral*

      Honestly, you could do either the gown or a nice cocktail dress, so wear whichever one you feel the most comfortable/glamorous in. Go to some nice consignment shops if you have them (and see if anything jumps out at you).

    6. Need a Beach*

      This sounds like the kind of occasion to rent a dress! You can go more formal than is practical for everyday life without that “when TF will I ever use this again?” feeling. I would go for something long and flowy.

      I’m going to reply to myself with some rental links, since it’ll go to mod.

      1. Need a Beach*





        If you want more coverage, this is long-sleeved with a nifty back detail: https://www.renttherunway.com/shop/designers/la_petite_robe_di_chiara_boni/black_cage_back_gown

    7. Kuododi*

      DH and I get invited to hospital galas and Make-a-Wish foundation parties on occasion as a part of his job. I haven’t had one that was “old Hollywood” themed however the I did attend one that was formal, black tie optional. I went to my local David’s Bridal and bought a floor length gown that was a classic design I was able to reuse at other hospital events. Otherwise, I stuck with cocktail dresses. All that to say, I would go with the floor length dress. (Disclaimer being I’m no fashion influencer!). It sounds like you’re going to a fun event. Enjoy!!! Post pictures of the dress you pick if possible. Best regards.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        I buy all of my black-tie gowns on clearance from David’s Bridal. I haven’t paid more than $40 for a gown. Occasionally, I can also get a David’s Bridal gown in my size from Poshmark, too. I did this for events with themes such as “Oscar Night” and “Rio: Carnivale.”

    8. only acting normal*

      “Formal, black tie optional” would normally suggest cocktail dress. But for a Hollywood theme go long, red-carpet style. Personally I hate the long gloves, so I’d skip those despite what the invite says, but that’s entirely up to you. :)

    9. Anonymous404*

      Thank you everyone for your advice! I’m thinking about renting a gown, or checking out some of the consignment stores in the rich area of my city. I also looked at last year’s pictures and it seems like a long gown is the way to go!

      Thank you again all!

    10. Jane*

      If you’re a bit hard to fit (like I am), also check out eshakti. I’ve never ordered formal dresses from them, but I have ordered dresses for work or casual dresses from them, and they are AWESOME. A lot of the dresses you can pick the length and other style elements, so you can have some control over how formal they look. They have more full skirt kind of gowns than body hugging gowns, which may or may not work for your body, but the price is probably about the same as renting from rent a runway–most of their dresses are under $100, and they give a nice discount on your first order. Just make sure you order a few weeks before you need it, since they make each dress to order.

      1. JeanB in NC*

        I was looking at eShakti dresses the other day, and was just wishing I had some formal event to go to – they have some gorgeous long gowns!

  5. OyHiOh*

    My spouse passed away Monday morning just before 8 am. In the end, their heart simply couldn’t keep going.

    1. Bibliovore*

      Oh, I am so sorry for your loss. There are no words. I hope you are surrounded by friends and family who can give you comfort in the sorrowful time.

      1. OyHiOh*

        Both their family and mine poured into town as fast as Midwest weather allowed and we have many local friends who have been a text message away any time I’ve needed anything.

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      I’m so very sorry for your loss.

      I can’t imagine what you’re going through right now and I hope you’re surrounded by love and compassion.

      This stranger in Spain is thinking of you.

    3. lychee*

      I am so so sorry to hear that. I have been following your updates for past few days – particularly because I lost my father few months ago after a sudden heart attack, and all of us particularly my mother are still reeling. I was really hoping your husband will pull through. That time in hospital worrying about a loved one is among the most traumatic experiences.

      I cant imagine how tough this must be – for you and for your kids. It is going to take time but it gets better, somewhat. You are strong and never ever look back in doubt at what steps you took

      The following is a beautiful comment by a user called GSnow on reddit that has helped me. Perhaps it will help you too. Good luck
      Alright, here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents.

      I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter”. I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.

      As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.

      In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.

      Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.

      Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.

    4. lychee*

      I am so so sorry to hear that. I have been following your updates for past few days – particularly because I lost my father few months ago after a sudden heart attack, and all of us particularly my mother are still reeling. I was really hoping your husband will pull through. That time in hospital worrying about a loved one is among the most traumatic experiences.

      I cant imagine how tough this must be – for you and for your kids. It is going to take time but it gets better, somewhat. You are strong and never ever look back in doubt at what steps you took
      Good luck

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Different lyrics jump at me at different times. When my husband passed I found these lines just drew me in almost like a magnet.
      “Endings always come to fast but they past to slow… when the singer’s gone let the song roll on, there’s a fine line between the darkness and the dawn. They say the darkest night, there’s a light beyond….” [Simon and Garfunkel.]

      This can mean what ever you want it to mean. To me, I thought about hope in the middle of despair.

      My condolences to you and yours.

    6. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      My deepest sympathy to you and your children. You were brave, and strong for him… and words fail me at how hard this must be for you all.
      Please know that you have my thoughts and prayers (My husband died a few months ago).
      Internet hug if welcomed. Please continue to come here – lots of ongoing coping wisdom here, many have helped me. Well meaning family and friends sometimes are not objective.

    7. Alpha Bravo*

      I’m so sorry OyHiOh. I lost my spouse a little over a year ago and your posts have taken me back to one of the hardest times in my life. I tried and failed to find anything to say in the face of the pain you were and are enduring. For myself, I found it got easier once I knew he at least was free from the pain. I could put down that part of the burden. Please know there are others here who are walking this path. I have found we take care of one another. You’re in my thoughts and prayers.

    8. Thursday Next*

      My sympathies to you and your children. I’ve been thinking of you, and hope you’re able to get some support during this difficult time. I’m so very sorry for your loss.

    9. DrTheLiz*

      Oh, that’s awful. Wishing you and all your family peace and respite from any other troubles. May his memory be a blessing.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m so very sorry for you & yours. Give the children extra hugs, it will help you both. (I lost my dad to cancer at aged ten.)

    11. Jean (just Jean)*

      So sorry to hear this. May you find comfort in good memories and continuing the parts of life your spouse found meaningful. I am glad that you have sympathetic companionship both in cyberspace and brick-and-mortar space. Give yourself/yourselves time and space to grieve. Don’t be surprised or upset with yourself if normal life and mourning sometimes get mixed up together. These are meant as observations not orders! Feel free to ignore any unhelpful comments including these.

    12. Crylo Ren*

      I’m so, so sorry for your loss. I’ve been following your posts over the last month and I can’t even imagine.

    13. StellaBella*

      My sincere condolences. I have followed your story throughout and am glad you have family and friends to lean on. May you and your family find peace in the good memories you have shared with your spouse.

    14. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’m thankful to see that your family is pouring in to support you. I’m so sorry for your loss and hope that you have all the love, support and assistance in this time of grieving and transition.

    15. Basia, also a fed*

      I am so very sorry. I’ve been following your posts and hoping for a different outcome. I’m glad you and your children have an extensive support network.

    16. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I am so very sorry. I know it has been a hard time and I was hoping that things would improve. Virtual hugs for you and your family.

    17. Violet Strange*

      I am so sorry. I have followed your story. Bless you and your children and the friends and family supporting you.

    18. Sam Sepiol*

      I am so very sorry. Thinking of you and your family. I read your post last weekend and I am so sad to hear this news.

    19. Quandong*

      I’m so sorry for your loss, and am thinking of you and your children at this very difficult time.

    20. Anono-me*

      I’m so sorry. What a terrible loss to you and your children. It is good to know that you have loved ones nearby.

    21. Sybil Fawlty*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. May you feel the support of friends and family as you go through this difficult time.

  6. The Curator*

    Working this weekend but
    Joyfully wearing woolie comfort clothes. Planning a trip to Trader Joes, my happy place, and spending time with one of my favorite illustrators Brian Collier. Yes I do love my job. Tomorrow there will be much sleeping, much friend time.And maybe watching of movies.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      Ah, Trader Joe’s. I love that place…for all the things I really don’t need to be eating. So much yummy stuff there. I’ve recently discovered their salad kits. I found the Southwest one to be delicious. If I’m not a pig about it I can get two meals out of one kit and add some rolled up lunch meat to bulk it up.

    2. NB*

      My teen daughter works at TJs! It seems like a great company. I’m happy she’s there. And I’m happy about her employee discount.

  7. Blue Eagle*

    Wondering where Lyme disease came from? This week’s book is “Lab 257: The disturbing story of the government’s (USDA’s) secret Plum Island germ laboratory”. Plum Island is located off the tip of Long Island and about 2 miles south of Lyme, Connecticut.

    The lab collected all kinds of viruses from all over the world and stored them there. They did work to try to develop vaccines for these diseases (for livestock purposes), which included infecting livestock with the viruses.

    Unfortunately their maintenance procedures were lax and insects could get into the buildings where the infected livestock were, could bite the livestock to pick up the disease, could then bite birds stopping on the island and the birds could take the viruses whereever and spread them. There is definite evidence that foot and mouth disease got out of the confined buildings and infected the livestock outside the buildings that were on the island. Unfortunately no definitive evidence (but definitely circumstantial evidence) that Lyme disease was picked up there and spread to Lyme, Connecticut – where it has spread through the United States from there. Also West Nile virus and Dutch duck disease that wiped out the duck farms that used to exist in the Hamptons. Of course, the USDA’s position is that these diseases came from somewhere else and you have to prove that they originated from Plum Island. But there is proof that they lied about other safety issues related to Plum Island so it is likely that they were the source of these diseases, but good luck proving it.

    Hopefully next week’s book will be more uplifting.

    1. Bad Janet*

      Luck isn’t needed to prove it. This book is being sensational and alarmist. Scientists and museums have been tracking evidence of lyme through mammalian specimens (both human and animal) they have in their collections. Lyme has a historical record going back centuries. We just finally managed to name it in the mid-1900s. There’s an in-depth longform article out there I’ve tried to find to link here but my google-fu is weak (b/c every news station has an article about lyme and I can’t remember the researchers names). The info is out there, though.

      1. Glomarization, Esq.*

        Yeah, the first citation in the History subsection of Wikipedia’s article on Lyme disease discusses the evidence that the disease has been present on the continent for centuries:

        One study has found that prior to the reforestation that accompanied post-colonial farm abandonment in New England and the wholesale migration into the mid-west that occurred during the early 19th century, Lyme disease was present for thousands of years in America and had spread along with its tick hosts from the Northeast to the Midwest. Citation is to: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2727481/

    2. Vampire Manager*

      Just a factual point of note: Lyme disease is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, not a virus.

  8. Pack Your Bags*

    I’m brainstorming vacation ideas so I want to hear about yours! What are you favorite vacation spots, lesser known vacation locations, vacation choices for cheap, and your bucket list vacation of time and money weren’t an issue? Just looking for any and all vacation ideas!

    Mother and I have started a yearly tradition of taking a long weekend in October to travel to one specific area and check out the Halloween activities there: haunted houses, ghost walks, costume parades, and the like. We love going to Philadelphia because there were lots of haunted houses (Fright Factory was my favorite) and we crashed a fun costume party at Xfinity Live. One year we went to Texas and went to the TX Renaissance Festival on Halloween weekend. It’s always a trip I look forward to!

    Least favorite trip would be cruise ships. Though I love all the stops they take you too, I always seem to get sea-sick, no matter the meds I try, on the three cruises I’ve done. On the last cruise I went on, I got my friends to agree to a cruise that had more stops on shore than days at sea. But a hurricane cancelled two of our stops and kept us at sea those days, so I’ve just given up on cruises.

    Dream vacation would be a photo Safari in Africa. It’s something my mother and I have always wanted to do together; a real bucket list item for the both of us.

    Anyway, give me any and all ideas and stories you have of vacations! Would love hear some!

    1. SarahK*

      Definitely recommend anything in Africa. I’m American but lived in Tanzania for two years, and a few months each in Zimbabwe and South Africa. Happy to offer any advice or assistance :)

      1. coffee cup*

        Sorry, not the OP, but I’d love to hear about your experience living in Tanzania. What did you do there?

        1. SarahK*

          I was in the Peace Corps, so I worked as a high school science teacher in a small village. Amazing experience, I’d love to go back permanently.

          1. coffee cup*

            Ah I see. I think teaching is the best way of moving to another country, but I’m really not cut out to be a teacher. :(

            1. Pack Your Bags*

              There are lots of other ways to stay long term in another country! In 2012, I spent three months in Peru at a rain forest conservation center with Projects Abroad. The program has all sorts of options besides teaching, including archeology, medical assistance, sports training, and more. Trust me, I’m not cut out for teaching either, so I was really excited to find non-teaching options. They’re out there, some online research should flesh them out.

              1. Marion Ravenwood*

                Agreed. I worked in Melbourne for six months (in two different offices, doing admin/marketing and comms as that was my background at home) and in hostels in New Zealand for another six months as part of my Working Holiday Visas when I was backpacking. If I’d wanted to, I could have swapped one of the office stints in Melbourne for three months of ‘rural’ work – which could have been as much as working in a hostel in a small town in Queensland, it doesn’t have to be super-rural like ranch work or fruit picking (though it can be if that’s what you want!) – and stayed for another year. Sadly the programme is only open to those under 30 (or 35 if you’re a Canadian/Irish citizen), but if you want to experience working out there it’s definitely worth looking at.

    2. LDN Layabout*

      I’m lucky enough that for me Paris is a 2.5 hour train away so I tend to do at least one weekend a year on cheap tickets and a hotel deal. I’ve done all the tourist-y things so I might repeat one thing a trip and then do foodie things/walking around the rest of the time.

      Places people are always shocked about: Marseille and Turin. There’s a snobbery re: Marseille that it’s a big ugly port city where the rest of the south of France is some idyllic dream and to that I say *blows raspberry*. It’s a city, people live in it, it’s wonderful and warm and vibrant. Turin is also an industrial town so people write it off but there’s still so much history and great little pockets of great architecture and those moments where you see a completely normal building and it’s over the top and Italian and it’s quite frankly upsettingly pretty. Also the car museum is amazing even if you don’t care about cars, me and my friend thought it would just be a warehouse full of cars and we were wrong. It’s wonderfully curated.

      Also both the places above have some mindblowing food, from street food to the fancy.

      Strategies for cheap: Figure out your travel style and exploit it. That’s from points on hotel/flights/credit cards, to knowing what’s important to you. I care about food, so I do my research, book anything essential and make a google map of all the places we could hit up on the way (it means no fixed planning to stress over but we know where the good stuff is instead of falling into a tourist trap).

      I also know I like doing at least one fancy meal a trip, so I tend to budget around it so I can really go out for that one meal (usually tasting menu/somewhere with michelin stars) and not panic about argh look how much I’ve spent.

      If I went on a beach holiday with nothing else to do I’m probably end up screaming into the void after three days.

      Dream Vacation: Year to travel, round the world tickets with a break in that to do the ship between the UK and NYC. Also would want to do some luxury trains in there, I’d probably focus more on places I haven’t explored at all, Asia, Australasia, South America and Africa.

      1. Kate*

        My spouse had a conference in Turin once and I tagged along. I was pleasantly surprised! One of the biggest Ancient Egypt collections in the world, and an-almost Versailles right outside town that you can basically have the run of— unlike the real Versailles.

        1. LDN Layabout*

          The Venaria? It was SO beautiful. I was there at the ‘wrong’ time of year (we went to go watch Juventus lmao) but the palace was amazing. I imagine in spring/summer the gardens are superb.

          1. Kate*

            That’s the one! The Galleria Grande is the stuff dreams are made of, and we had the place entirely to ourselves.

      2. TechWorker*

        I went to Marseille a couple of summers ago – the National Park just to the south is beautiful (sea still cold though!) and easy to get to on buses. Also did a scuba dive taster which was awesome :)

        1. Equestrian Attorney*

          Parc des Calanques! It’s a gorgeous area with beautiful hikes, especially great in the off-season (gets crowded in the summer and frequently closes due to fire risks).

    3. Lilysparrow*

      We had our honeymoon in Charleston, SC and there is a plethora of haunted historical places and ghost walks there. I don’t know about specific Halloween stuff, but if they don’t, they are missing prime opportunities. So I’d bet they do.

    4. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      We love Santa Barbara, but on our trip down the coast we thought Cambria was a cute little town for a few days, although a bit tricky to get to. Some great food, off the beaten path, near the sea lion spots and the Hearst Castle (which we didn’t even see in the end!)

      We have also really enjoyed Vancouver (the Canadian one) and Seattle. I was in Seattle one year at Halloween with a friend and we stumbled on lots of goings on at the Museum so we joined in! they had the Thriller flash mob anyone could join in, different videos and music in different rooms, and some burlesque performances. It was a lot of fun.

      We re also big fans of planning little weekend trips around shows we want to see. We’ve had some whirlwind tours of quite a few cities that way an some good surprises – I thought Liverpool was a lot of fun but Berlin was just weird. San Sebastian, Spain up in the far NW coast is really quite cool, and you can combine that with a trip to Biarritz and Bordeaux in France.

      Dream vacation would probably be all the time and money to travel first class to some of the best beaches on the planet.

    5. Marion Ravenwood*

      OK… (warning, this might be long!)

      Favourites – Australia (particularly Tasmania, although Melbourne is my absolute favourite city in the world and I’d move there tomorrow if I could), New Zealand, New York. I like a big city with lots to do – particularly museums/history and good food – but I also really like being outdoors with beautiful scenery and good hiking.

      Lesser known (but also favourites) – Vietnam and Bolivia, because they’re both so different (particularly Vietnam – if you go from one end of the country to the other there are so many different types of scenery etc).

      Favourite cheaper spots – Budapest, Bolivia (although that might have been ‘cheaper’ in the context of having come from Brazil which is/was quite expensive), South East Asia. But I think as LDN Layabout says most places can be done on a budget if you plan for the things you want to do and split your spending accordingly.

      Bucket list – for years it’s been Nashville, but I’m finally going in November and am ridiculously excited! So now the only ones left on the list for me are Japan, Scandinavia and Canada. I’d love to do Antarctica as well to see the penguins, but realistically that won’t happen until you can teleport there.

    6. The Messy Headed Momma*

      New Orleans! I have been a few ties at Halloween &
      a.) the weather is perfect
      b.) tourists are at an all time low because it’s Halloween
      c.) the freak flags are still flying
      It is my favorite place to be in late October!!

      1. Bluebell*

        I went there last April and loved it! The weather was perfect, the people were really friendly, and the food was delicious!

    7. Apollo Warbucks*

      I love travelling and have quite a few ideas for trips I want to take, in no particular order:

      The trans Siberian train from Moscow to Beijing and to travel more of China from there.

      Two or theee weeks travelling in South Africa, including a Safari.

      A few months backpacking in South America with a trip to Easter island.

      Some of the old skill road through Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and on Azerbaijan.

      A week in Iceland.

      A month in India.

      A month in the USA.

      I’ve had some good long weekends in Europe from the UK, which is pretty cheap flying with easyjet or Ryan air. Edinburgh is one of my favourite places to visit and I miss living there.

      My favourite trips were to Fiji and Malta.

      I’ve never had a truly awful trip but I didn’t think much of Milan when I visited.

    8. Forking great username*

      My favorite place to vacation is Disney World – I realize it’s cliche, but I don’t care. Even before we had kids, my husband and I loved it. It’s not just another theme park – it had way more details, theming, and magic to it. They have some absolutely amazing restaurants, attractions that totally transport you to another world, etc. Disclaimer: Since it is our favorite place, we’ve pretty much perfected trip planning for it. Most people I know who hated it didn’t really plan/research (meaning long lines and the good restaurants are already booked solid) or they try to push through from park open to close (which is hot, tiring, and unnecessary.)

      My dream vacation destinations for when we’re more established and not doing kid-centric trips are Bora Bora and Paris.

      1. Anonyby*

        I love Disney! Disneyland edges out Disney World for me just because of preferred travel style, but I did a WDW trip last year and loved it! (It was my first time at EPCOT, and second time for the other three parks.)

        A dream thing for me would be to go to ALL of the Disney parks, and stay at high end hotels for each of them. Probably not going to happen without a major windfall (at least not on that scale), but fun to dream about!

        Another trip idea I’ve had that I want to do is a tour (in the old “grand tour” sense) of the Cedar Fair parks. Partly because I live near (and worked for one summer!) one of their parks. lol

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I’m with you. I’m an annual passholder and go several times a year. My husband and I went there for our -1st anniversary, our honeymoon and our first anniversary, and we decided that for our second anniversary this year we’re gonna change it up and go to DisneyLAND. :) (Probably planning three days at Disneyland and three days in San Francisco, actually.)

    9. Llellayena*

      Morocco. The dollar goes far there so overall it’s fairly cheap, if you work on saying no to the rug sellers. The atmosphere is amazing and there’s a lot to do and explore. I want to go back for the jazz festival in Tangiers!

    10. CAA*

      California’s seaside towns and cities are great for long weekends, or pick a few and tie them together into a road trip full of amazing scenery: Coronado, San Diego, Del Mar, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Dana Point, Huntington Beach, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Ventura, Santa Barbara, Morro Bay, Big Sur area, Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Point Reyes, Mendocino, Ferndale.

      I also love our national parks. This summer I’m hoping to spend some time in the southern Colorado and Utah parks.

      If you’re willing to give cruising one more try, an Alaska Inside Passage cruise is just amazing. If you go between Vancouver and Anchorage/Whittier/Seward you’ll have land on both sides of the ship for most of the trip, so there’s very little motion. When money’s no object, tack on a land tour and get to Denali National Park or further north.

      1. M&Ms fix lots of Problems*

        As someone who lives in UT, let me recommend going in April and May to the parks in the southern part of the state. If you go later than that it is very hot and very crowded. Also, pack lots and lots of drinking water.

    11. PlatypusOo*

      I haven’t travelled a lot but I have travelled to Hawaii (Big Island) numerous times and I have done most of the things you are “supposed” to do there. Plus a ton of off the beaten path stuff as well.
      I’ve always wanted to go to New Orleans, the California coast and the Gulf area of Florida. Hopefully I can do those trips someday!

      1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

        Yes, I love Big Island too! Except unfortunately, a lot of the sights around the volcano were decimated during the latest eruption and I think Volcano National Park is still partially closed from seismic damage.

    12. KayEss*

      I don’t really like to travel much at all, but my one dream trip that I hope to take in my life is to go to Rome and see all the Bernini and Caravaggio I fell in love with in my art history classes. Second place would be either Istanbul or a return trip to Jerusalem (I went 10-15 years ago, I’d like to go back with new eyes). I like places that are really rich in art or western religious history from the Baroque/Renaissance era and earlier, because those are topics I have a lot of interest in and some knowledge of.

      There are places I’d go in a situation like “you don’t have to do any planning or logistics at all, just show up and have a great time”–Paris, Iceland, Australia, Egypt, Disney World–but unless someone’s like “yo I’ve got this trip all planned out down to the minute but I need a buddy to go with me for moral support,” that probably won’t happen.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I went on a 12 day tour of Egypt with my mom, through a tour agency. We were the only two on the tour for more than half the days, so effectively ha d a private guide and driver. The other half was the cruise up the Nile, and the tour group became six people (plus maybe another twenty tourists on the cruise doing different tours).
        10/10 would go again, skip Cairo and spend more time in Luxor and south by cruising again.

        I want to do a safari one day. Next really big trip will be that or somewhere in Europe.

    13. HeatherB*

      Let me just say Africa was my dream trip and we were planning on only going once. Went for my 40th birthday to Tanzania. We’ve been back every year since :) South Africa (least favorite but still awesome), Zambia, Botswana and Uganda to see the chimpanzees and gorillas. Seeing a silver back male gorilla in the wild playing with the babies is life changing. My next trip is to Bhutan and Nepal in the fall and we also have Borneo to see orangutans either this year or next. For cheap vacations I love southern Utah national parks. Zion, Moab, Arches, Bryce – all of them are amazing and they have small, quaint towns, surprisingly good restaurants, and affordable lodging.

      1. Borneo is amazing!*

        I was lucky enough to be able to go to Borneo for work last year for a month and then have an extended vacation for two weeks. I heartily recommend the Kinabatangan Wildlife Resort. We saw an orangatun and it was amazing.

        one thing I wanted to do but was too scared to is go snorkelling on the islands off the east coast of Sabah. We were too worried about kidnapping, which has happened there sporadically over the last 10 years. I would really love to see the sea turtles.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          My favorite thing about Hawaii is snorkeling. On a bad trip you still see 20+ colorful fish species, and usually an eel or small shark. The turtles are around, best chance to see them are the boat tours but totally worth it.

          My other favorite thing about Hawaii is everything else. I love it there (mostly Maui but Kauai is growing on me).

    14. Everdene*

      For a dream holiday I’d love to explore South Africa, Tanzinia, Botswana and Zimbabwe – not something you can just do in a fortnight! We tend to enjoy more city/active breaks and in the last 12 months have been to several European cities (Edinburgh, Paris, London, Budapest, Vienna, Hamburg, Prague Dublin…) as there is always so much to see and do.

      At the moment we’re planning 2 longer trips, firstly a cruise with the parents and secondly Toronto and Niagra Falls with a lay over in New York. I can’t wait!

    15. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      A few years ago we bought Eurail (Eurorail?) passes and went all around Scandinavia, Germany, and Belgium where we left to come back to the UK. It was fun, especially since we took two overnight sleeper trains, stayed in a hotel that was a boat (still in the water!) and met with a couple of old friends.

    16. Ranon*

      Best road trip- Pacific Northwest through mountain west to Texas, if you’re not actually moving to Texas I’d probably suggest skipping the Texas part- but Bruneau Dunes/ Craters of the Moon/ Antelope State Park/ Arches/ Carlsbad Caverns/ Bottomless Lake State Park- all amazing. I’ve never been to a national park that wasn’t worth going to.

      Underappreciated- I feel like the locals appreciate it plenty, but Ouachita National Forest is beautiful and there are tons of lovely cabins and places to stay.

      Bucket list/ dream vacation- full tour of all the national parks in the Continental US, mix of train and driving, cabin lodgings every night, stops at some awesome restaurants on transit days.

    17. Sarah G*

      Just a little free association on favorite places:
      Others mentioned Bolivia, and I second that. I *loved* La Paz. It has an aerial subway (La Teleferico) that is really a wonder. I did pick up the first stomach bug of my life there , from eating something I knew I shouldn’t have (grapes from a street vendor) since I thought I had an invincible stomach, but apparently I don’t. Although I had a very mild reaction. I’d go back in a second and just avoid the street vendor produce.
      I’ve lived in Prague, and no city I’ve visited is more beautiful. Some are *as* beautiful, but not more. The Charles River/castle view at night, and Old Town Square at night are both places that remind me I am happy to be alive.
      The National Parks in southern Utah (especially Arches and Canyonlands) are true Wonders of the World. Arches has a ton you can see with hardly leaving your car, or just short, easy hikes that my (spry) 80-yr-old dad could do, but also has challenging, longer hikes that are well worth the effort.
      The North Bay Area near San Francisco (Marin and Sonoma Counties) are paradise, especially if you like to hike. Or if you like wine. The coastal areas are breathtaking.

    18. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If you’re a Halloween fan, look up Denmark’s Fastelavn. Cross Halloween with Carneval.

    19. Chi chan*

      Dude ranching is a thing. Living in cabins and going on trail rides or driving cattle would be an adventure. There are other activities often included like camping and rock climbing or watching wildlife.

    20. Elizabeth West*

      Favorite vacation spots
      So far, Wales and Scotland have been the most favorite I’ve visited. I can’t travel much because poor. I love London too.
      I also like going to the beach. Not picky about which beach. :)

      Lesser known vacation locations
      Jeez, I don’t know. Just random places in more well-known spots I’ve been to, I guess.

      Vacation choices for cheap
      Staying home, LOL. As far as details, I stayed in a B&B in Cardiff and loved it. I hadn’t done B&B before that. It’s not always cheaper, though; it depends on where you are. I’d like to try one of the hostels that has private rooms sometime. Some of those are really nice, if you can find one that doesn’t have an age restriction.

      You can eat very cheaply in expensive destinations if you do a little research beforehand. TripAdvisor has tons of threads on this. Thanks to them, I learned how to feed myself when out and about in London for practically nothing.

      Bucket list vacation of time and money weren’t an issue
      New Zealand! All over the country, but especially the nerdiest and most comprehensive Lord of the Rings tour I can find. :)

    21. CoffeeOnMyMind*

      I like to do day-cations, where I visit a new place for one day. I’ve been to: Victoria, BC; Juneau, Alaska; Toronto, Canada; and Crater Lake National Park to name a few.

      Pluses: it’s cheap, you don’t have to worry about luggage, and you get to visit some really fun places.

      Minuses: not really a true vacation.

      But I highly recommend taking a day-cation if you’re short on time and just need to get away for a day. It’s kept my sanity in tact every time. Plus it’s lots of fun!

    22. M&Ms fix lots of Problems*

      If you like Rennaissance Faires, can I recommend the Colorado Renaissance Festival? It runs for eight weekends in June and July and is a total favorite for our family. We have a tradition of going every other year and all dress up (my hubby is Squire Pleanty Pockets, as a total gag; but the girls and I are full on Middle Ages).
      We also love going on driving trips through the Rocky Mountains and touring all the old mining towns out here.

  9. Foreign Octopus*


    I’ll keep this vague so anyone can collapse the replies if they don’t want any spoilers for Grey’s Anatomy.

    I missed the series when it came out the first time as I was a teenager living in the UK and I don’t think it aired on terrestrial channels there but I’ve heard about it from friends who loved it, and clips occasionally pop up on YouTube. I decided to buy the first season (why, oh, why is it not on Netflix Spain?) and the early episodes have not aged well at all.

    The whole Meredith/Derek and Cristina/Burke relationships would never happen these days because of the imbalance of power. Derek very aggressively pursued Meredith even after she said no a number of times (and don’t get me wrong, I love Derek but if he were doing that to me in real life, I’d nope out of there so quickly).

    I know it was only fourteen years ago that the series started but watching it has highlighted how much we’ve changed.

    I’m going to finish season one because I’ve bought it but is it worth continuing all the way through?

    1. CoffeeforLife*

      My 20 year old sister has watch it *in it’s entirety* no fewer than 4 times. I don’t understand it. But, she says it’s the best show ever…so there’s that endorsement.

    2. WellRed*

      Yes. It’s worth watching. Just watched last night at a friend’s. I do agree the early seasons haven’t aged well.

    3. Anon4This*

      I disagree those relationships would never happen today. I work in healthcare, specifically graduate medical education (training residents) and there is still a lot of harassment, sexual or otherwise. And a lot of inappropriate relationships.

      As for the watchability of the show, live liked it up to the last couple of seasons. I’m barely hanging in anymore, it’s gotten pretty boring.but the first 10-12 seasons were good.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        I’ve heard the same about the last few seasons. A lot of my friends turned off after Derek died and haven’t gone back.

        And when I said those relationships wouldn’t happen, I meant they wouldn’t be portrayed the same way on TV any more. Sorry I wasn’t clear.

        (Super disturbing that it’s still happening in real life though).

    4. Tmarie*

      I started watching Grey’s Anatomy a couple of years ago, during season 12 or 13. This last Christmas, I had almost two weeks off work and started binge watching. I’ve now watched watched 11 or 12 seasons on Netflix. And enjoyed them all, the good, the bad, the horribly unlikely ones.

      About whether or not you should continue, I can just tell you that people come and go throughout the series, and lots of stuff happens. I still watch because I like Meredith and Richard and Bailey.

    5. Agent J*

      I still watch Grey’s and love it. There are high and low seasons but some of the patient and main character storylines are what you want in a good TV drama: heartbreaking, victorious, realistic enough but sometimes I-can’t-believe-they-did-that, entertainment.

      If you can make it to the season after Derek dies, I think you’ll watch it up to the current season.

    6. Everdene*

      In the last 18 months I have watched the entire thing for the first time and got hooked. It’s not perfect but good tv to relax with and now I’m up to date I’m still keen to watch the next episode when it comes out.

    7. Nervous Accountant*

      I know you said no spoilers, but I want to make sure are you aware that a lot of the original cast is gone now?

      I’ve been watching GA fairly regularly since the beginning, but I don’t think I could watch it starting now. I esp can’t watch anything prior to season 8 or 12.

  10. Lilysparrow*

    I discovered some interesting facts in the garden this week!

    1) Apparently the best way in my climate to grow a bumper crop of hearty carrots, is to plant them in March and forget them until the next February.

    2) Not so with black-eyed peas. They weren’t rotted on the vine as I expected. They were just *gone*. Ghostly branches without a pic in sight, nor any dry peas on the ground beneath. This may be connected to the very fat chipmunks living under the shed.

    3) Interplanting with green onions to repel insect pests seems to also discourage moles and voles.

    4) If you have four beds weeded and turned, a neighborhood cat will choose the only one with tiny lettuce seedlings to dig a hole and poop in. Said cat has made no discernable impact on the chipmunk population, so there’s not even a trade-off.

    5) Collecting dry seed heads of purple opal basil is aromatherapy.

    Anybody else doing garden prep – or planning? What are you planting this year?

    1. CoffeeforLife*

      We just bought a house with a gently sloping backyard. I want to plant something but I’m not sure the best way to do it. The lower end flattens out along a fence with a green belt beyond. I’m thinking berries along the fence (and hope there aren’t deer). Should I just contact a landscaper? Maybe terrace it?

      1. Blue Eagle*

        Raspberries are understory plants, so if you are planting raspberries, they will do best with more shade than sun. Blueberries, on the other hand, like full sun.

      2. Lilysparrow*

        We built a small terraced area for a couple of raised beds. Our slope is gentle enough that the bottom retaining wall is less than knee-high. We built and filled it with rubble we found on Craigslist, with a layer of fill dirt and mulch on top. Then built the beds. The drainage is great!

        You could always do something in the flatter area. Or if your slope is gentle enough, you could make a raised bed itself with the bottom deeper than the top.

        Berries on the fence are always great!

      3. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

        My hubby & I recently got a plot at the local community garden. The plot that we got has raised beds with screens under the soil, and said soil is very good! We’ve been digging out the weeds and grasses and found a whole lot of onions, which I replanted. Have no idea if they took – with the rain I haven’t been in days and hubby has been out of town.
        We plan to do a lot of earthbox type buckets, and scored on a bunch of free pallets to raise them up. Pretty excited!
        So far today is gorgeous,so we will probably go today. Yay!

    2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      This winter, I discovered that Italian parsley in a 4″ pot can continue growing despite a few weeks of below-freezing weather. The basil and mint are long deceased.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        My indoors mint didn’t make it. I’m still watering it lightly in case it’s just dormant. The oregano & chives are straggling along, but no parsley here.

    3. Pieismyreligion*

      I kind of lost my mind during our snowmaggedon last week and ordered a whole lot of vegetable seeds, including 7 types of tomatoes. So I guess this year is the year I get better at starting seeds indoors. I also got 3 types of radishes and multiple greens, a couple new beans. My garden isn’t that big so I’ll have to be better at layout.

    4. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I’ve really got to do some work on mine this year. The nettles have moved in in earnest. Most of what I grew last year was in pots, which worked OK but I’d get more stuff if I planted things in the ground.

      The front yard is a perennial disaster and really needs an overhaul but I’m lazy and it overwhelms me to look at it. I’d like to have a deliberately ramshackle cottage garden effect but it is mostly in shade so it’s been tough to get things growing besides weeds.

    5. lapgiraffe*

      My Johnny’s Seeds catalogue arrived today, yay!! It’s still far too cold and frozen to actually get into the garden, but I really really dread the day I do because I let it go wild at the end of last year. Between moving during my usual seed starting season, scorching hot/otherwise monsoon summer, and am overabundance of abnormal life stuff that needing tending to, it was a bad year for me and my community garden plot. But I did get one pumpkin plant that produced, and I’m not so secretly hoping that it will pop up on it’s own again somehow. (Kakai pumpkins, so-so flesh but AMAZING seeds and just pretty in general.)

      I really enjoy growing fairytale eggplant. Since I’m usually cooking for one, sometimes two, it’s nice to be able to cook only as much as I need at a time. I usually really love garlic but I missed that window this fall. I did manage to plant a few perennial native plants and will be curious to see how they fair this year, but I’ll also put in some cut flower varieties, the gift that keeps on giving.

    6. The Doctor is In*

      Bought seeds for kale, spinach, and 4 kinds of lettuce. Hope to plant my 4 garden boxes soon. Tomato plants but not till May.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t know if I’ll have a yard by then, but even if I move to an apartment, I WILL be growing heirloom tomatoes in pots again. I’ll try to get a balcony, patio, or at least a very sunny window spot.

    8. Tiny Soprano*

      I have such ridiculous amounts of rosemary at the moment that the restaurant over the back fence has an open invitation to just climb over and take some whenever they need it. Tomato season is also progressing so excellently that I’m thinking of extending the invitation to the roma tomatoes too…

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Last winter I brought two large planters of geraniums in for winter as an experiment. One made it through so healthily that this winter I decided to try with all of mine. So far I think I’ll have a better % survival…but I just spotted white fly so I’m reading up on using soap against insects. These are in my living room so nothing toxic.

    10. Natalie*

      Just being terribly jealous over here. We have 2 feet of snow on the ground and I expect we’ll have snow on the ground for the next two-three months. :(

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        It’s all pipe dreaming for me and keeping indoor plants well lit with grow lights… 2-6 inches of snow coming in the next 24 hours, with freezing rain as the icing on the cake. :(

    11. Environmental Compliance*

      We have several pots of lupine, lavender, dill, parsley, fennel, and butterfly weed starting – so far, the lupine’s sprouted. Several grapefruit seedlings started too. Next weekend is starting the sensitive veggies. Too cold out to outdoors plant, but once it unfreezes we’ll do some digging & compost-applying.

      Veggies to plant include a variety of tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, kale, broccoli, cucumber, zucchini, and radishes. I think that’s it. But we’re also redoing all of the landscaping this spring – a pollinator garden, rose garden, planting some shady areas, putting in dogwoods, redbuds, and lilacs, and redoing the pathways and the pond. We’re going to have a busy spring!

  11. Lena Clare*

    Hey How is everyone doing this wkend and what have you got planned?
    I’m feeling well, I’ve just been swimming, I’m now watching comedy shows online and trying to keep my feet warm! I may have to venture back downstairs to get a hot water bottle.
    Also doing some online dating and trying to keep my spirits up!

    1. Rebecca*

      I’m going to a picture painting fundraiser of some sort for our local high school band. I have no idea what I’m doing but I’m going anyway. Hope to get in a walk, did laundry already, and need to vacuum and unfark my habitat a bit. And weekend, Yay!!

    2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I got a really good swim in, and just got home with pizzas from our favorite place. I’m planning on taking a few hours to doze/read a book (whoever noted that Deadly Mountain book last week – nice call! Enjoying it a lot) and at 7 pm reconvening with Mr. Sprechen to fix his resume so he can start applying to new jobs from tomorrow.

      Sunday, not sure yet, I wanted to go to the ethnic food shop, but i may go swimming again too.

      1. Lena Clare*

        Oh I got a vegan pizza from ASDA after my swim. Kudos to ASDA stocking vegan produce but it really wasn’t very nice at all so I ended up throwing out away >.<

        Your weekend sounds lovely.

    3. Need a Beach*

      I am inspired by the unseasonably warm weather to get sh!t done…but I injured my back earlier this week. My motivation is boxing outside its weight class, so I have to watch myself.

    4. Little Bean*

      A long list of home improvement projects. This is what my life is now – I realized it was a 3-day weekend and my first thought was, yay, I can paint the living room! Also, I will be doing these projects with my fiance, who I met through online dating 3 years ago so it does work!

    5. Have dragon, will quest in exchange for hummus*

      Currently procrastinating on practicing a presentation for an adult-ed painting class. Second of four weeklong intensives throughout the year.

    6. NeverNicky*

      I had to work in the morning (presenting on research in my field) in nearest University city. Mr Never then took me into the city where we had a splurge at our favourite sushi place to celebrate my 50th birthday, as I will be working away on the day.
      Tomorrow we need to tidy the garden, and we’re going to set a fire in our fire pit for the first time.

    7. Loopy*

      I have no plans these weekend but enjoying a long awaited book (liesurely!), and playing online guilt-free (meaning browsing forums, “wasting” time, etc.).

      I am pleased as punch with this.

    8. Ginger ale for all*

      My sweetheart and I are going to a burlesque show. We had fun at one before and I am excited about seeing any possible acrobatic acts. He just loved seeing the almost bare naked women.

    9. Jaid*

      I left work early yesterday and went to Reading Terminal, then the Amish Market. Today, I drove around, to the Asian market and then Quakerstown Farmer’s market.

      Tomorrow, I’ll be organizing my refrigerator and food prepping for the next week. I’ve got Monday off, yay!

    10. Anonyby*

      I took Thurs & Fri off to make a 5-day weekend and the relaxation has been glorious! I’m planning on doing some batch cooking today and tomorrow… I need to wash out my brand new blender so I can start making smoothies again too. And then tomorrow night I have my weekly game night with friends. Monday I’m thinking I’ll head out to the boardwalk to get in some fun before I have to get back to the grindstone. :D

    11. Marion Ravenwood*

      Yesterday was parkrun, side hustle work, tidying up at home and then a friend’s housewarming party. Today I’m taking myself to a museum this morning, then need to do a bit of shopping for replacement bits and pieces, and then get ready for work again tomorrow.

  12. Half a Bookworm*

    I am in the terrible habit of starting a book, reading about half, putting it down “for a while” and never picking it up again. I have many, many half-read books, fiction and non-fiction, most of which haven’t been picked up for so long that I’ve forgotten the first half, which makes picking up where I left off extra difficult. It’s frustrating because I love reading, but I struggle to finish a single book, even if I’m really enjoying it. There isn’t really any reason for doing it, either. I just start a book, put it down, start another one, repeat.
    Does anyone else do this? Have any ideas on how to make myself focus and finish a book?

    1. misspiggy*

      On what basis do you choose books? Ideally you’d want to read books you can’t wait to finish because they’re that gripping/interesting.

      I find I only experience that with quite a limited spectrum of books these days, and I’m fine with that.

    2. CatCat*

      I do this! I switched to primarily audio books from the library (I download them using the Overdrive app). I find myself more engaged with the story with audio books and since they’re from the library, I’ve got some time pressure to finish them.

      I still occasionally read books, but mostly when I’m on vacation.

      1. The Doctor is In*

        Try the Libby app- if you don’t already have it. Basically like Overdrive but easier to use.

    3. Marion Ravenwood*

      If I have a book I’m struggling with, assuming I like it in the first place (it took me YEARS to work out that I didn’t have to finish books I didn’t like any more!), then I often find some focused reading can be really useful. I really like Silent Book Club for this – essentially it’s a group of people who meet at a cafe, talk about what they’re reading, then read in silence together for an hour. It sounds odd but is actually really companionable, and I find that not having anything else to distract me can be a massive help to make a dent in a book. But if there isn’t one near you, is it possible to maybe shut yourself off for half an hour or an hour – no phone, no internet – and just read without anything else going on? If so you might find that helpful for focus and making a bit more of a way through the book, and sometimes feeling like you’ve ‘broken the back’ of it can help you to get to the end.

    4. Sara Sunshine*

      What’s the reason that you’re putting down the books halfway through them? Is there something else you’d rather read or are they just not holding your attention?

    5. Little Bean*

      I only do this with books that don’t grab me. When I’m really into a book, then nothing can make me put it down. I’ll be staying up hours past my bedtime, reading during my lunch break at work, walking around reading on my phone… Do you finish some books and not others? If so, I say don’t blame yourself. I’ve lost count of the books I started and didn’t finish – I just assume that book wasn’t for me, and keep searching for something I’ll like better.

    6. Half a Bookworm*

      Thanks for all the replies! I generally do like the books I’m reading. I just seem to lose focus halfway through, somehow. I really can’t think of a tangible reason.

        1. Half a Bookworm*

          I tend to pick through them and just read the stories I like. Somehow I don’t feel guilty about that – just due to the sense of having “finished” one!

    7. Mimmy*

      I do this too, although my preferred genre is nonfiction. Like you, I can’t think of a tangible reason I do this…sometimes maybe if a book is repetitive I’ll lose interest. Or perhaps I come across a book that grabs my interest, thus making me lose interest in previous books.

    8. Undine*

      Maybe that’s just the way you like to read. You don’t have to finish them. I’d say I only finish about ten percent of the books I start. Those are the standout ones. I don’t see anything wrong with that.

      1. Dr. Anonymous*

        I agree with this. It’s a book. You won’t hurt its feelings. Maybe you just like the exciting feeling of starting a new one.

    9. Koala dreams*

      Nothing wrong with reading half the books. Lifes too short to spend on books you don’t want to finish. If you want to know how they end, maybe skip to reading the end before you start another book?

      Since you asked about how to change though, my suggestion is borrowing books from the library one at a time and make a goal of reading at least 15 minutes a day. Since you have pressure to return the book, you need to keep reading it, and 15 minutes is short enough to keep on reading even though you are not super entusiastic for the book.

        1. Khlovia*

          Get your eyes checked. I’m serious. Half the fun of reading vanished for me when I started getting floaters. If you have a vision problem you’re not conscious of, reading can become work.

    10. LaurenB*

      I give myself permission to rarely finish non-fiction books. Unless it’s a narrative, I figure that when I get bored, I’ve probably gotten everything out of the book that I wanted, and I’m definitely better informed than when I started. In fact, my time might well be better spent reading bits of lots of books.

    11. DataGirl*

      I am the same way, in fact I’ve given up on ‘reading’ and just do audio books now. I just can’t sit there doing one thing. With audio books I can knit, cook, or drive while I listen.

    12. Floating Shift*

      Weighing in as a friendly librarian, I agree that perhaps an audiobook might be more enjoyable? I also agree with the 15-minutes (or more) of dedicated reading time. I sometimes find I can get distracted by outside noises, the urge to check Twitter, the fact that my husband is playing a game on his phone . . . but if I find a quiet place to read and either listen to a little music or just get comfy (which yes, can involve a beverage and maybe a soft throw), then 15 minutes or more of time to myself to read feels absolutely luxurious.

      Also — have you tried short stories? Maybe a collection by one author, or a collection by different authors in one volume would keep your interest. I find short stories in a collection by different authors can make for some interesting reads (and if I don’t like one story, I just skip to another).

      Definitely take advantage of your local library — it’s way cheaper than buying books you don’t enjoy, and you can also get suggestions from them on things you might enjoy. And if you don’t enjoy something they suggest, let them know!! We won’t get offended — it’s our job to help find you something you enjoy, so feedback is a part of that. Also, we don’t write the books, so we won’t take it personally if you don’t like something that’s suggested. :)

    13. Coder von Frankenstein*

      I have the same thing going on. What I suggest is to make a note of which books you enjoy, and go ahead and put them down. Then, when you feel like starting another book, see if one of those set-aside books appeals to you. I often do 1-2 false starts before I finish something.

    14. Loopy*

      I use the Goodreads reading challenge. I can update my progress on all my books as I read and it turns page count into a percentage, which I find fun for some odd reason. This was done generally to have a place where all my read books were stored because I was forgetting authors and titles and wanted to easily recommend them. I ended up motivated to finish because I wanted to move them from to “t-read” list to my “read” list so I’d have a list of all the books I’ve been reading.

      It’s super handy a few years down the road especially!

    15. Ranon*

      I just skip to the end- I figure if it was really work slogging through I wouldn’t have put it down, so I skim to see if there’s anything else good and then move on. There’s so much to read out there, no need to slog through stuff you’re clearly not interested in.

    16. Book Lover*

      I can’t imagine doing this with a book that I am enjoying, because I just keep reading until I am finished or wait desperately to get back to it if I absolutely have to pause. But if there is a book I don’t like, I won’t finish it. So maybe you need to choose different books?

  13. ENFP*

    Does anyone have a recommendation for a self-cleaning litter box? We recently rescued a very old cat and already have two of our own, so our cup runneth over – literally. We have two standard ones now but it’s messy.

    I know some of them are expensive but we are ready to shell out! The main thing I want to avoid is the smell. I take medication that causes nausea, so the smell and the cleaning are too much for this dog and cat lover!

    1. CoffeeforLife*

      I tried the kind that scrapes it into a bin and it was just a total nightmare. The take constantly needed cleaning, or would get stuck because she peed, A LOT and the clump would be too heavy to move. I always wanted the one you hooked up to a waterline and it “flushed” the special litter pellets clean.

      I recently saw a cat door that connected to the garage and on the other side was an enclosed litter box pen. Kept the smell from being inside, and the cats had a much larger litter area in the garage (fully enclosed so they couldn’t run off)

    2. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      I have a good friend with three cats who swears by the robot litter box. Spendy, but for her …it works. She’s bought a second one for an elderly family member who also is enjoying the change.

      1. Ring ring*

        I have owned the litter robot since 2016 and love it! The cats use the litter box, it senses activity, and spins to dispose of the waste in a drawer. When we had 2 cats, we would empty the drawer twice a week on trash day and didn’t need to think about it other than that. Now with 3 cats, it’s getting full more often but I think the newer models have a feature that alerts you when it is full if you don’t want to have to physically check.

      2. Cedrus Libani*

        I also have a Litter Robot. Yeah, not cheap. But also possibly the best $450 I’ve ever spent. The capacity is roughly 1 cat-week…I have two cats, so I empty the collection bin twice a week. But that’s all the maintenance I have to do, besides dumping more litter in periodically. And my apartment doesn’t smell like used cat food.

    3. Marzipan*

      My friend has one of those ones that you roll upside-down and then back the right way up, and then you just have to pull out a little drawer and dispose of the contents. You do still have to have that level of engagement with the contents, though! And you also have to use clumping cat litter.

      I did find it quite entertaining to use when I was cat-sitting for them. Mainly it seemed like something you wouldn’t have to completely empty and clean as much as with a regular one, and thus a bit more restrained in terms of how much cat litter you’d go through. (My cat users the woodchip stuff, though, so it wouldn’t be any use for me.) You do also need enough space to be able to roll it over. And I’m not sure how well it would handle, erm, digestive issues, if that’s ever a problem for your cats.

    4. Mimmy*

      When we had cats, we tried self-cleaning ones similar to what CoffeeForLife describes but had similar issues. What we ended up sticking with was the Cat Genie (I think that was the name?). It is essentially a toilet for cats. It uses a special type of litter that you didn’t have to replenish too often. Then it would flush the….ick, then wash and dry the litter. The drawbacks were the maintenance and whenever it got clogged (which would cause it to stiiiiiiink). In both instances, you have to take the thing apart. It was a big project each time.

    5. Penguin*

      There is one (blanking on the name, sorry) that hooks into the outflow of a washing machine and uses the already-dirty water to flush the waste into one’s sewage/septic pipe. (Presumably this is not for use if one’s washing machine empties into a laundry sink!) If I recall right, it’s both $$$ and very enthusiastically touted by users.

    6. SAHM*

      We have the PetSafe brand and we get the litter boxes every month from Amazon. I change mine weekly, every Sunday so that’s what I’m going to do later today. It’s super easy, just lift up the whole thing, pull out the litter tray, pop a new litter tray in its place and drop the whole thing back down. We have two kittens who use it, our adult cats are outdoorsy so they just meow to be let out . The one irritant for me is that the boxes come in a 3 pack monthly and really you go through 4 in a month so every so often I have to order an extra 3 pack. Otherwise I love it, it really makes having indoor cats sustainable since hubs would never clean the litter box with any regularity and when I would do it the smell of cat litter makes me dry heave. I just can’t handle it, it’s worse than stinky diapers or dog poop. So this thing took care of that aspect. I still wrap the old tray in a garbage bag the minute I pop it out of the machine bc carrying it out to the bin makes me dry heave otherwise. Also, if some of the pieces fall out I don’t want to be dripping crap everywhere. But, yea, I love it.

  14. Emily*

    Hi everyone,

    I’ve been reading AAM for awhile but haven’t commented before. I was hoping for some encouragement that everything will be ok.

    I’m 25 and have been with my boyfriend about 2 years. We moved in together about 6 months ago. There’s so much about him that is great! And then, there are the horrible feelings I get when I think about marrying him. I’m not afraid of commitment; marriage and kids are very important to me. There was a time I could imagine marrying my college boyfriend. But current boyfriend – it’s like I can’t even picture it.

    Objectively, he’s great. Close with his family and friends, likes to volunteer, funny and charming, professionally successful, financially well-off… but he’s so emotionally restrained, I honestly don’t feel an emotional connection with him. He doesn’t share feelings or vulnerabilities. I know he is well-off, but he won’t tell me how much he makes (2 years into the relationship). He doesn’t really have further ambitions; all he wants at this point is to have kids and lead a peaceful life. It feels like he always has to be right in disagreements.

    These are things that I can’t see myself living with for the next 40-60 years. Let alone the next 1-2 years. I think breaking up (or at least moving out and giving each other some space) is the right move, but of course, that always come with its own challenges. I would really appreciate any encouragement or advice. Thanks <3

    1. CatCat*

      I would find it difficult to be in a long-term relationship with someone who didn’t share feelings, was secretive about money, and always had to be right.

      Also, even if he were The Greatest, if it doesn’t work for you then it doesn’t work for you. That’s okay.

      1. StellaBella*

        +1 to this. I would also find it difficult, because I have been there, and I did.

        I was in a relationship with a man for 3.5 years and we never talked money. I vaguely knew his salary as he worked for the local University observatory in the Physics department and salaries are public, but he was never open about anything money related. You cannot marry a man who will not be open about money. You assume he’s well off but maybe he also has tens of thousands in credit card debt – you don’t know. And you don’t want to take on that burden if it is the case.

        This man also was unable to share or express feelings. He could not being himself to hold my hand in public, much less think about a cheek kiss. I don’t do tonsil hockey in public, but I would have liked to hold his hand more often. I am an affectionate person by nature and I struggled with this for the whole time we dated. In private he was a lot more touchy feely and kept saying how important it felt to have touch – but just never in public. We also could not communicate well with each other – he lacked empathy, I am very empathic. He had other issues too, but the gist of it is that he was not a very nice person and while I tired to make it work in the end we had to split up because we were just not well matched or compatible.

        Agree that if it is not working for you, that is fine. You want kids, so does he – but how do you communicate around the boundaries of having and raising a family? I’d honestly move out, and take some notes from this thread to share with him and see what happens. You deserve to be happy, with a partner who can communicate feelings and frustrations and joys, and tell you he makes X $ per year, etc. Also, men who always have to be right are not nice men.

    2. Nita*

      I hate to say it, but you’re right, this relationship seems doomed… If you get horrible feelings at the thought of marrying him, there’s no long-term potential here. I was in a (much shorter) relationship like that just before I met my husband, and nearly wrecked my health trying to convince myself to ignore the inner voice that was telling me to walk away. In hindsight, glad I couldn’t ignore it.
      I think with someone like your boyfriend, deep inside you may not feel 100% safe because he’s not sharing important information with you and you don’t know how he feels about things, and that means you can’t quite trust him. It’s an understandable fear, because when you marry someone, and especially if you have kids with them, you become very vulnerable to them and if you don’t know what they’re thinking, that’s not good… And of course, you want to feel loved too. If you don’t, that’s not a good way to spend the rest of your life.
      I hope everything works out for you.

    3. WellRed*

      Move out and move on. Even if it was all hearts and flowers in other aspects, NEVER marry someone you can’t have even a basic money convo. Oh, and thrn there’s that pesky lack of emotional connection. You deserve better.

    4. Not A Manager*

      I’m over twice your age, and I encourage you to break up. An ended relationship isn’t a failed relationship. It succeeded for the time you were together – you enjoyed being together, you grew together and separately, you learned important things about yourself and the other person. End it now before the incompatibilities grow to overshadow the good things.

      This is what you need, because you (correctly) can’t be with someone whose instincts for emotional intimacy are so different from your own, but it’s what he needs too. He deserves time and space to find the future parent of his children, who wants nothing different than to create a nest with him.

    5. Ellie*

      Pick up your purse and go. If the person you’re partnered with doesn’t meet the needs you have/deem important, then you will be better off moving along. Never settle for ‘good enough’ – pursue happiness in all its forms.

    6. Traffic_Spiral*

      Listen to your gut. I mean, if you haven’t already, you could try one Come-To-Jesus talk where you say that you need more communication and stuff from him, but generally if your gut says “nope,” then it’s a nope.

    7. SciDiver*

      My advice is start putting together funds to move out. At a minimum, this is someone you said you can’t live with for the next year or two, so you need to start planning for that now. Start browsing apartment listings, find other housing options, and get a place of your own. The sooner you can be out, the better it will be for both of you to move on with your lives. It will be so much easier to make it a clean break if you aren’t living together.

      If you two had talked about commitment to each other and had seriously discussed getting married/starting a family, I’d suggest going to counseling together to hash out the issues. But the sense I’m getting is that you’re both aware of these goals but there’s been no talk of marrying each other, plus the “horrible feeling” you get when you think about spending your life together. That’s not a good sign! If your goal with dating and relationships is to find a life partner and co-parent, this is not a relationship that brings you closer to those goals, and you shouldn’t continue to stay in it.

    8. Bobbi*

      Break up with him. If you cant see yourself living with him for the next 1-2 years its definitely time for it to end. As others have said, if it doesnt work for you – it doesnt work for you, it doesnt matter how objectively great he is.

      And being with someone who doesnt share feelings/vulnerabilities is very hard – even as someone who is pretty closed off myself! For me – if I’m not thinking about/starting to open up after ~3-6 months, then this clearly isnt going to work long term.

    9. Lilysparrow*

      If you or he want to get married and have kids, and you realize you don’t want to marry this person, then the kind thing to do is break up so you can both find a better match.

      Two years (six months of which you were living together) is more than enough time to know your own mind.

      Being single is much, much better than to be in a relationship that isn’t going where you want to go, and where you don’t feel emotional intimacy and mutual trust.

      There’s going to be disappointment and hurt feelings and hassle, but that is inevitable whenever something – not just relationships, anything – doesn’t work out. But it’s a lot less hurt and hassle than if you prolong it. Or got married or had kids.

    10. Annie*

      Living together and not even sharing how much he makes is odd at the very least. How are you supposed to have children and family together and not share what the situation of your finances are? Is he hiding how much he is making because he doesn’t want to share it? Is he hiding it because he secretly has tons of debt? It’s a pretty big thing to keep as a secret, especially after 2 years. At this point, I wouldn’t even trust him that he would be honest about finances in the future ( like keeping another private account secret).

      1. Wishing You Well*

        Yes to this. A bad habit (or relationship) is harder to break the longer you keep it up. Life is very short. I hope you get moving.

    11. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      You are surrounded by red flag waving bees and you should be running like your heels are on fire and your butt is catching.

      But I will reassure you – everything can turn out okay for you. Partnered-and-unhappy is not a good way to spend your time, and the more time you spend that way, the longer you delay your ability to actually find a good partner who makes you happy and wants to actually partner with you. This guy isn’t a partner, he’s a roommate. (And it sounds like I have more of an emotional connection with my roommate, to be honest.)

    12. Marzipan*

      You know, though, relationships aren’t objective. They’re about the most subjective things imaginable. And what you’re describing didn’t sound like a relationship you want to be in. If that’s the case, you don’t have to justify that to anyone – not even to your boyfriend. You just get to decide that it’s over, if that’s what’s right for you.

      And yes, it will be OK. Maybe not immediately, maybe not every minute of every day. But you’ll get there. When I was about your age, I fell into a relationship that got to the engagement-and-home-purchase stage – largely, I think, because it seemed like the sort of thing I was supposed to be doing. In hindsight, the thing I regret is that I was in that relationship in the first place, not that it ended!

    13. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      Listen to your own words:
      “the horrible feelings I get when I think about marrying him…” ” I honestly don’t feel an emotional connection with him…” “It feels like he always has to be right in disagreements…”

      Sounds like the “Objectively, he’s great” part is less true – or at least, he’s not “great” for YOU. You can’t reason your way into loving someone, and you shouldn’t try. Someone could be a fantastic human being, with no flaws or faults, and still not be the right person FOR YOU. The secretiveness is a red flag, as is the lack of emotional connection. But honestly, the deeper issue is that you are not happy. You are not happy in your relationship, and it doesn’t seem likely to change.

      Assuming it did not change – assuming he remained secretive (which, being secretive about money is a problem – is he in massive debt? Does he have a gambling problem? Does he just not trust you? You can’t build a life with someone without having an honest conversation about finances, for a myriad of practical realities.), and assuming you continued feeling the way you do – how long could you go on like that? 6 months? A year? 10 years? If you can’t see yourself continuing for 10 years like this, and it seems unlikely to change… well, the kindest thing for both of you might be to end it sooner rather than later. You’re the only person who can decide that, though.

      Personal story time: I was once engaged to an “objectively great” guy. (Well, at the time that was how I thought of it – he was romantic, funny, had a lot of close friends, a decent career plan… later I realized his career plan was horribly unrealistic, he was more controlling than romantic and his friends were all @ssholes. But that’s not the point right now…) But, it just didn’t feel right – I dreaded the thought of marrying him. He had proposed to me in public, and I’d felt pressured to agree, but as soon as I did it just felt.. wrong. I couldn’t put my finger on why, but never made any actual wedding plans because I felt sick every time I tried. Eventually, I left him. It was hard. We had lived together, so I had to move. We had friends in common, so I was cut off from many of them, and isolated. But it was also oddly freeing – as soon as the initial, horrible, telling-everyone-you-called-off-the-engagement part was over, it felt like a weight had been lifted. Being single made me far, FAR happier than I had been with him. (Years later, I met someone else; he was perhaps less stereotypically romantic, but more genuinely kind. Less funny to other people, but his sense of humor meshed better with mine. Fewer friends, but his friends were better people. I am SO much happier being married to this man.) I have never once regretted my decision to leave an “objectively, just fine” relationship.

    14. Koala dreams*

      I’m not sure where you get the idea that don’t talking about a money is a great quality in a prospective marriage partner. Usually marriage and having children is quite a big financial undertaking, and not talking about money is objectively a bad quality in that respect. It seems like he has a lof of subjectively nice qualities, but not so much if you look at it from a factual stand-point. It’s okay to let feelings AND fact influence the big decisions. Listen to your gut and you reason!

    15. Not So NewReader*

      Oh boy.
      My friend was married for around 50 years. Her husband never showed much emotion, he missed opportunities to emotionally connect with her repeatedly over the decades. Annnnnd he did not discuss budgeting and money with her. Their kids never connected with the dad.

      He died suddenly.
      She found:
      Over a dozen credit cards with at least a thousand dollars or more on each.
      After 30 years the mortgage is still not paid off.
      There was a loan with her signature on it. (It had been forged.)
      No savings. Very little insurance.

      Please think this through very carefully. I have heard it said and I subscribe to this thought: If couples cannot talk with each other then they have nothing. Life is loaded with surprises, usually not good surprises, couples have to be able to talk it through and connect emotionally.

      Twenty years from now you could get up one morning and realize you are married to a stranger. Your gut is on track here.

    16. Autumnheart*

      I think that if you know that a relationship isn’t meeting your needs, it’s time to break up. After being with someone for 2 years, living with him, and you still don’t have vital information about him like his income or his own feelings, then that’s solid evidence that he’s not interested in seeing the two of you as a team, but himself as an individual and you as supporting cast. I wouldn’t stick around for that either.

      It doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy, but if this situation isn’t happy now, there’s no reason to subject yourself to further unhappiness. I know it’s hard to make a decision that seems like “I’m going to hurt you so I can be happy” but that isn’t what you’re doing. (I’m sure you know that, but just in case you need to hear it from an objective source.)

    17. dawbs*

      SOmebody being good on paper is not the same as somebody being good WITH you.
      I was with an ex-bf who was good on-paper. ANd…I did NOT like who I was with him. Or who he was with me. Neither of us are bad people, ti’s just, together we brought out the worst in e/o. Other people didn’t think so, but, I sure did.
      And then I met my now husband, who, on paper is no ‘better’ than the ex. In some ways, on paper, he’s objectively worse. And 15 years later, I can safely say that marrying the ex would have been disastrous, and I am pretty damn happy in that decision.
      And always having to be right is not a small thing. Can I ask how he is at apologies?
      And secretive and controlling about money (IMO, secretive is, by definition, somewhat controlling)

      I”m going to throw out one more thing here, several people have mentioned inertia, and it’s a real thing w/ relationships–you take the next step because you’re supposed to. You stay because moving out is hard (REALLY hard). And you care about someone and breaking their heart seems awful.
      But there’s nothing stopping you. And you don’t need a ‘good enough’ reason to break up with someone. There doesn’t have to be a fight or a epiphany or anything, it can just seem like time to go.
      And that’s hard (it can, from the other side, feel like blindsiding and lack of closure), but it’s better than drifting into something even harder to get out of–like marriage.
      You don’t need him to be a monster to break up, you just need to not want to be there. If you don’t want to be there, don’t try to wait for reason enough–rip off that bandaid and go. It’ll hurt, but, stayng will hurt more.

    18. Need a Beach*

      Honestly, the way you describe him sounds like Dexter. He mimics surface-level appropriate social behaviors, but can’t manage to cultivate deeper emotional abilities. If I couldn’t talk about my guy without evoking the stereotype of a benevolent serial killer, I’d start planning an exit strategy.

      (I’m being maybe 50% facetious here. Your description really does come across like a character study of someone with those behaviors.)

    19. Annette*

      I have no time for men who are hiding something. They dig a burrow and hide more and more until you can’t get into the hole. Thank u next

    20. PlatypusOo*

      I am very impressed with your level of self awareness. When I was 25 I wouldn’t have allowed myself to even have these thoughts-and I definitely should have had them.
      I would listen to your inner voice about this situation and allow yourself to move on if that’s what it’s telling you to do. Best of luck to you.

    21. only acting normal*

      Aside from you not wanting to spend even another year or two with him, which is plenty enough on its own! And the emotional distance which may be simple reserve or something else…
      The refusal to talk finances with you is a HUGE f**king red flag to me. I grew up in a climate of financial abuse: it is pernicious and nasty, and not even knowing what he earns is a stong symptom. So on that basis alone, this internet stranger is telling you to get out sooner rather than later.

    22. Alex*

      Don’t logic yourself into staying with him. You don’t have to have an air-tight, rational reason to break up. “I just don’t feel the right way about you” is 100% enough reason to break up.

      If he doesn’t do it for you, he doesn’t do it for you…and he probably won’t ever.

    23. Parenthetically*

      Hey, moving in together did what it was supposed to do, then! :)

      Someone can be AMAZING, objectively, and still not the right person for you. I know many truly upstanding guys who are smart, thoughtful, kind, generous… but who I could never marry. You’re allowed to break up with Awesome Guys, and you don’t have to have a reason beyond, “I don’t want to be in a romantic relationship with you any more.” You do have lots of other reasons, but bottom line is that you’re allowed to decide you don’t want to be with him any more.

      I think the right time to break up with someone is as soon as is feasible when you realize you want to. You can let him go, so you can find someone who makes you feel excited to spend the next 40 years with them, and he can do the same.

      Just a note that I do NOT recommend “moving out and giving each other some space.” A clean break is faster to heal. If you feel “horrible” thinking about spending your life with him, no amount of space is going to fix that. It’s a fundamental incompatibility.

      1. Lucy*

        This is a great comment. And it’s why I think it’s unwise to marry someone without living with them first (even if not necessarily just you two but in a larger houseshare). People are different when you see them All The Time.

        I thought I was happy with my ex. Then it got to the stage (and apparently the weekend) when he was ready to propose, and I suddenly realised I wasn’t forever-happy. We split up that day and are now each happily married to other people.

    24. Khlovia*

      Don’t ask me how I know this: After a few years with a man who by an amazing coincidence is 100% always 100% right about 100% of everything, you just kind of stop bothering to think your own thoughts. You certainly don’t waste effort saying them out loud.

      I shall now channel the excellent Captain Awkward: You don’t have to have a “good” or “good enough” reason to break up with someone. You don’t have to earn that right; you don’t have to identify an unmistakable dealkiller that everyone will agree with and approve of. You just have to realize you want, or need, to break up.

      He wants to have kids and lead a peaceful life not talking to you about anything important, so until you are out of the house and not accepting his visits, please make sure you are using birth control that YOU control and to which he does not have access. Thank you.

    25. Marthooh*

      He sounds like a terrific roommate and a lousy boyfriend. Well, a terrific roommate aside from always having to win the arguments. Okay, so, a lousy boyfriend and an iffy roommate.

    26. Jean (just Jean)*

      There’s nothing wrong with ending a relationship if it isn’t working out for you. You sound conscientious and kind. I trust you’ll communicate the difficult news as constructively as possible.

      Relationship math is not like normal math. Somebody can be 98% a good match, 2% a bad match…and that 2% can end up outweighing the 98%. But even with “only 2%” mismatch, it’s permissible to end it.

      Your circumstances are close to ideal in that you have not invested years and years in each other and will be able to part completely instead of having to continue as co-parents. (and + a million to the commenter(s) who advised you to keep up with the failproof birth control.)

    27. dumblewald*

      There is no such thing as a perfect person, but the people you date long term/marry need to be people you are comfortable with. This means you won’t feel uneasy with them being your primary source of communication, socialization, and someone you share physical space with. It’s good that you recognize this. I would also have trouble with dating someone who is emotionally distant. I considered dating someone like this and decided against it for this very reason. He’s a good person, but sometime I feel like he values keeping the peace over having any opinions or stances on anything.

    28. Maya Elena*

      I wanted to push back against the financial red flag others have brought up. Have you ever actually discussed your finances together, have you explicitly asked, or are you upset that he hasn’t proactively shared? Do you harbor resentment over this that could be coloring your perceptions of him more generally? I’m not trying to invalidate your feelings about THIS guy. But if *in the future* you find yourself attracted to introverted guys who don’t share, and that triggers or aggravates you in some way, it is worthwhile to examine whether it’s *you* taking their introversion personally, and figuring out different communication patterns.

      THAT SAID: to paraphrase from a dating advice guy I used to read: relationships are supposed to be easy; herculean effort to convince yourself into happiness won’t work. Also, if you don’t want to marry someone, the kind and respectful thing to do is to end it and let them find someone else.

      1. Parenthetically*

        I struggle with the whole “relationships are supposed to be easy” thing, because in a very real sense, you’re right, but I think any worthwhile relationship is going to require upkeep, effort, struggle, and just plain work, but I think it should also… I dunno, maybe feel like home, and always, definitely, be a place where you can be your authentic self. I absolutely agree with the second part of that — you should never, ever convince yourself into happiness. My husband and I are VERY different people and so it’s taken us a lot of hard work, including lots of counseling and therapy to get to where we are communication-wise, but that’s all felt like GOOD work, because we were in the same foxhole even when things were really hard.

        I think it’s better phrased as “any work you do in a relationship should be work you do TOGETHER, not work one of you is doing to or on the other” or “ongoing, unreciprocated, un-honored emotional labor sucks; don’t stay in a relationship where you’re doing all of it” or something.

      2. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

        Ah, but if they’re living together, there really should have been at least a surface-level conversation about finances there (how much can we afford? what percentage of our income do we want to spend on rent, and how much is that figure?) so if she still doesn’t have at least a baseline idea, that does sound like a red flag.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Seriously. My husband and I have very adamantly separated finances via prenup, but we still at least know what each other make, at least in a ballpark, and what our individual debt loads look like (again, at least in a general sense).

    29. fposte*

      Another road to the same Rome: people deserve to have someone really love them. It’s fairer to him, not just to you, to move on so he can find somebody really enthusiastic about him.

      And then you can find someone you’re really enthusiastic about.

    30. NB*

      You asked for encouragement, and even though I agree with the other commenters that this isn’t the relationship you want, I want to encourage you that everything will be OK. Break ups hurt a lot. They are a huge disruption in your life, and it takes time to put the pieces back together. I went through a broken engagement when I was about your age, and I thought I would never recover, but little by little, life got better. Over time, I was happy again, and I had a much better sense of what I wanted from a life partner. Now, I feel like I dodged a bullet. It’s okay to feel uncertain and even sad for a while. It will get better. {hugs}

    31. Quandong*

      Hi Emily,

      It’s very possible to break up with your boyfriend just because you want to break up, and for everything to be okay.

      It really sounds like you know your bf is not meeting your needs in the relationship, and that there are some red flags showing. You deserve to be in a relationship with a partner who meets you in the ways that you need – emotional connection, availability, reciprocation, honesty, willingness to talk about crucial aspects of relationships, ability to compromise and be on equal footing.

      As a person who married very young, I didn’t listen to my gut, and it’s something I regret. My marriage was really not good and took a huge toll on me. It should have been a short learning relationship but I made a lot of mistakes and it was a Very Long and Unpleasant learning experience. (I divorced in my early 30s.)

      Please follow your instincts and break up with your boyfriend. It may be hard at first but you will be so much better off in the long term!

      If you want more encouragement and advice I highly recommend Captain Awkward and also this Dear Sugar column:

      Best wishes!

    32. Indie*

      My financially-and-emotionally secretive ex was a great guy. Still is! If you needed help, even if he hardly knew you, he would volunteer faster than any boy scout. It came out of a genuine concern and love of people too. I let that trait confuse me. Great guy doesn’t mean great partner. It took an affair and a lot of financial infidelity and debt to get me to see that people are complex and sometimes they hide sides of themselved. It is possible for people to compartmentalise and be amazing at x and sucky at y. Some people find it easier to be fulfilled by a community than privately vulnerable in a partnership.
      Even if this is nothing more than his being somewhat more reserved, or possibly just reserved with you; you know this is not what you want. This is the interview stage for the job of marriage. This is where his best and most impressive behaviour is on show. I don’t think it is a goer.

  15. Johanna*

    Mental Health thread. I’m depressed and unemployed. It’s 1030, I’ve been to the gym and two 12 step meetings. What makes you feel better in times like these? Obvious or unexpected, please share.

    1. WellRed*

      An unexpected invitation from a friend? Some sun and fresh air, if possible. More practically, accomplishing some task, be it cleaning, weeding out the closet or doing taxes.

    2. Chicago anon*

      Congratulations, you’ve done three things already and it’s not even noon! Give yourself some credit and a nice break, like fancy coffee or tea, or read something fun (go to the library?), or a show you like.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        And three difficult things at that. I’d have to go take a nap at very least.
        How did you reward yourself for keeping this commitments, OP?

    3. DrTheLiz*

      I’ve been trying to sort of Konmari my routine. Find things that “spark joy” and put them in my day.

      Example: have breakfast be a meal I’m enthusiastic about so I can get out of bed. For a while it was waffles with frozen berries (toastinbthe waffle thaws the berry), now it’s oatmeal with frozen berries.

      Similarly, I have fancy tea that I look forward to drinking and I can use it to “do something nice” for myself almost whenever.

    4. Autumnheart*

      I think of all the hobbies I enjoy, and I try to spend some time each day doing them. When I was unemployed, I also started using a whiteboard to write down small tasks that I could accomplish each day, e.g. “Vacuum the stairs” or “Take trash out”. When I could look at the board and see that I was doing productive things, and when I could reflect on my day and know that I spent at least some time doing things I loved, then I had evidence that I was still moving forward and it made me feel better. (It also gave me something to show unhelpful people who were like “What do you do all day?” like I was malingering.)

      Unemployment is so stressful! I hope you have success in your job search soon.

    5. DataGirl*

      I struggle a lot with depression too. In the past couple years I have started some exercise classes (dance, barre, and most recently krav maga). The people are great and it makes me feel better to be in those spaces, plus of course the benefits of exercise.

    6. Alex*

      Things that make me feel good:

      Cooking a healthy meal.
      Listening to or playing music.
      Writing to a friend I haven’t talked to in a while.
      Having a clean house (I would say “cleaning my house” but that’s not really the part I like…lol).

    7. Jean (just Jean)*

      Taking a walk outside, with more emphasis on journey than destination. (Am about to do this right now! According to one weather forecast, after today we have no sunshine for at least a week.)

    8. CheeseNurse*

      I feel for you. Unemployment is crushing and horrible, and you’re dealing with that while depressed.

      I’m in a similar situation. I start my new job on Monday, but I went through 9 months of depressed unemployment. Here’s what helps me a little:
      – Time with supportive friends. I have to arrange Skype dates with mine because they’re far away, but I’ve learned that I need it.
      – Weight lifting. Body weight exercises at home if I don’t want to show my face at the gym.
      – Doing physically strenuous tasks like shoveling, scrubbing the bathtub, etc.
      – Forcing myself to do tasks I hate, but that are hanging over my head. Banging out a bunch of cover letters, hemming some pants, that kind of thing.
      – Volunteering. I’m super shy so I don’t like interacting with strangers all that much, but I figured out how to volunteer remotely (I knit blankets for a geriatric department at a local hospital).

    9. Depression suuuucks*

      Stopping to smell the roses – literally. Nature and looking at nature is good for you – your brain responds to stuff like the colour green and fibonacci sequences in leaf patterns and stuff like that, as well as the smells and sounds.

      I can’t always manage a walk, so if I’m in a store that sells flowers, herbs or houseplants, I stop and look at them, smell the flowers, and touch and smell the herbs. On really bad days, I’ll do an image search for stuff I like – ‘woodland paths’ or ‘fields of flowers’ or ‘roses’ – then change my background screen to images of nature that cheers me up.

      I also have a ‘happy videos’ playlist on Youtube, and several music playlists – some cheer me up, some that make me feel energetic, some that are calming, etc. And several boards on Pinterest – cute cats, funny dogs, jokes and humour.

      I also made a mental health journal, with coping tips and print outs of articles, and a happiness art journal/scrapbook, which is just full of art and stuff that looks pretty and poems and song lyrics and whatever else I like. (It’s a very low-key style, like a basic scrapbook, not anything fancy; I want it to be low pressure and easy to add to even on bad days.)

      I hope there’s at least one idea in here that helps you.

    10. Chi chan*

      I would escape into books or seasons. One chapter or episode a day kept me looking forward to tomorrow.

  16. Nita*

    Mini roses. Has anyone grown them indoors? How? I’ve got a lovely one and want to take good care of it. I know they do well outdoors, but I don’t have a garden right now – my options are to try keeping it indoors, or to plant it in my parents’ garden an hour away.
    FWIW, my windows have southern exposure – a few hours of direct light in winter, lots of indirect light in summer. Very dry air in the winter, which probably isn’t great, but I have a fish tank which acts as a sort of humidifier.

  17. LGC*

    Might as well get the running post up! I have a couple of things that are ongoing (I’ll put the super nerdy stuff in a comment):

    1) I mentioned last week that I’m going to be pacing a half marathon in April. (First time doing it.) I know running wise what I need to do but…what should I do during the race? Normally I’m not that talkative on the run, but should I change that? What else do I need to look out for?

    2) Boston training is…going okay. I’m able to run decently most of the time, although my plans (and nearly myself) kind of went sideways this week.

    1. LGC*

      The promised Nerd Stuff:

      So I got a Forerunner 235 a couple of months ago. It’s…weird! Specifically, I noticed it reporting really low heart rates (as in, it would say that my heart rate was in the 150s maximum when I was running sub 6:00 miles – which is crazy, since that’s faster than my pace for a half marathon), and dropping as I got further in to tempos. (I was not slowing down that much.)

      I’ve found that restarting the watch resets it to be more accurate (or at least closer to what I expected – 160s/low 170s), but it’s a little frustrating that I need to do this every time I go for a run. At this point should I send it back to Garmin? Or is this normal?

      (Relevant: I usually run outside in cold weather.)

      1. sports tech*

        DC Rainmaker (a sports tech review site, basically) may have some information on the low HR numbers, as may the Garmin forums. A possibility involving less research (assuming you’re currently using the 235’s optical HR sensor) is to get an HR monitor external to the watch that will record in lieu of the watch’s integrated monitor. There are a bunch of possibilities for those–DC Rainmaker might have good guidance there; I know he’s historically liked the Scosche monitor–though I can say personally, I use one of the Garmin monitors on a Polar chest strap (the Garmin strap is generally fine and I’d recommend it to most folks; I imply have some kind of bizarre personal body chemistry issue with it that doesn’t see to be an issue with the Polar) and have been happy with it.

      2. sports tech*

        One item I forgot originally: DC Rainmaker (the site should be easy to turn up with a search) also has good advice on where/how to wear your watch-with-an-integrated-optical-HR-monitor to make sure it can get good HR data. That might be an easy first troubleshooting step.

    2. Marion Ravenwood*

      On the pacing, whenever I’ve run with pacers at parkrun I haven’t noticed them being particularly chatty, but then I’ve never been right up next to them so it might be different if you’ve got people either side of you. I guess it’ll depend on who you’ve got running with you and how fast they’re going. (Also, good on you for being a pacer!) And glad marathon training is going all right :)

      This week I did a treadmill run for the first times in ages (and remembered how much I loathe intervals – walking is so boring and I just want to run!), and then parkrun this morning. Annoyingly 27 seconds slower than last time, but I’m chalking that up to having to break in my new shoes.

      Also, for the AAM runners, I have a question: would it be a bad idea to do two 5k races three days apart? I’m not planning to go flat-out on either of them and they’re both in the same location, though not necessarily the same course (they’re being run by two different organisers). It’s very much not definite at the moment – I’ve only paid race fees for one as I don’t know yet if I can do the other one due to work – but I’m keen to hear from more experienced runners about whether it’s something I should even be considering.

      1. LGC*

        It’s a little difficult to race that close together if you’ve never done it, but it’s definitely possible. I guess the best way to think about it is as one 10k. So it depends on what you feel like your fitness levels are!

        What makes it a little more complicated is that one is during the week, so if you’re working and then racing that might take a little bit more out of you than a standard weekend race.

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

        If you typically run 3 miles or more in a shot, I think you’ll be perfectly fine doing two 5Ks three days apart, especially if you’re not going to run either one at max speed.

      3. Marion Ravenwood*

        Thanks LGC and The Librarian! I do normally do three miles plus when I go out, but equally I know I’m definitely not up to 10k level yet, so am still in two minds about doing both races. (The one I’ve already paid for is on a Saturday, so would replace parkrun that week.) As I say it might well be that work means I can’t do the midweek event anyway, but that one’s repeated later in the year so I’m happy to hold out until then once I’ve got a few more miles under my belt. I might also see if there’s one in a week when I’m volunteering at parkrun and aim for that instead.

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

      I’ve tried a couple of pacing groups in the marathons I’ve run… Everyone has different taste for this, I’m sure, but I think not being talkative will be better than talking too much. I had to leave one pacing group in a marathon because the pacer’s chatter was relentless, complete with near-constant singing. He was trying much too hard and giving me a headache. Not my cup of tea. My feeling is… just be yourself!

      Good luck with your Boston training! I’m kind of thankful, personally, that I’m training for a half marathon and not a full. My long runs have been really nice as a stress reliever after a couple of rough weeks at work, but they’ve been super sluggish. I’m prepared to run a very slow half marathon next month, and honestly, that’s fine with me.

      1. LGC*

        Thanks for your blessing! I’m normally not very chatty on the run but if you ask me when we should finish I’ll give you an answer down to the second. (Okay. Maybe not THAT precise, but I’ll definitely know what your finishing time should be if we continue on at pace.

        I’m hoping that I can finally break 2:50 at Boston (which sounds insane but I ran 2:54 at New York, so…if Boston decides not to be Boston, maybe?). I haven’t had any runs where I felt bad – it’s mostly been just external factors (like me cutting a tempo in half because of black ice, or the actual temperature being 5 degrees F). So, it’s just the standard hazards of living in the NE US but not so much my own fitness.

    4. Jayess*

      I’m pacing a couple events this year. I haven’t done it before, so I’m not an expert. But to me, you have to know your racer. I don’t think I would pace for someone I didn’t know, or if I did, I’d take it pretty easy on the chatter. Some people are really into it, but it’s easy to get more talkative than less talkative.

      My first pacing event of the year is coming up on the 15th of March. It’s one part pacing, and one part setting my own record. I’m simultaneously looking forward to it and ready for it to be done. Training for the effort has got me repeating the same 3.5 km of trail 10+ times a week and I’m starting to get dizzy from the loops.

      1. LGC*

        So, I’ll provide a lot of background (I’ve already outed my RL info previously so yeah):

        I’m actually leading a pace group officially! (1:45, NJ Half Marathon.) So I’m “officially” a part of the race. So I know exactly what I have to run (8:00), but not exactly who I’m running with.

        1. LGC*

          It’s also my first time leading a pace group! (I did run with a friend last month but that was just one (old as hell) guy who I volunteered myself for.)

    5. Bulbasaur*

      Got my 10k event done! (The one I’d tried to enter for three years running but had to pull out due to injuries etc.) It went well. Time was nothing to write home about, but pretty good considering my training. My body also held up well and I didn’t have any of my warning aches and pains.

      If all goes well I might be able to manage the half next year.

      1. LGC*

        Congrats! (And to be honest, like…dude, don’t judge your finishing times. In the end, if it’s good for you, then it’s good period.)

        1. Bulbasaur*

          Sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that there is such a thing as good or bad times in absolute terms (except maybe for the Olympic athletes among us, if any). The phrase in my case meant “almost 10% off my personal best”. I was still happy with it, because (a) the PB was set by an earlier me from several years ago whose biomechanical problems hadn’t caught up with him yet and whose injury worries were still in the future and (b) it was at the quicker end of the range that I had targeted as being reasonable for me at the moment. However if all continues to go well I would definitely expect to improve on it next year (if I do the 10k at least).

          This race now publishes a 5k split and I discovered that mine were within a couple of seconds of each other – which is amusing, if misleading. A 10k for me usually has the following stages:

          0-2k: This is fun! I have no idea how fast I am going though.
          2k marker: Crap, I’m going too fast/slow, I need to slow down/speed up!
          4k: End of the adrenalin rush. Find a sustainable pace that can eat up the distance.
          8-9k: Hanging on desperately if I went out too fast. If I have something still in the tank, time to push the pace a bit!
          Last 100m: Time to finish in style, unless I am completely wiped, in which case I am on the lookout for a soft patch of grass beyond the finish line.

          1. LGC*

            Your description of 10ks is kind of like how I ran…my last 10k. I think I actually chased the lead pack for the first half mile/800m – in a race where the winners run 30 minutes! I’m no slouch – I ran about 36 minutes in that race – but 30 is way outside my range.

            There’s also a picture floating around from a rival club (okay, not really rivals but they’re the big club in my area) of one of their guys finishing a 5k. I’m in the foreground of it looking absolutely destroyed. (As I should have since I ran a 1 minute PR.) I was actually in a better state than I was when I ran that race the year before, when I just crossed the line and laid down on the grass for 15 minutes. (Or the first time I ran that race, when I ran through the line into the field house – it finished on a HS track – collapsed on a bench in the locker room, and was so drained a paramedic asked if I was okay.)

      2. A bit of a saga*

        I’m with LGC, well done for reaching your goal – and re: time, there’s always time to improve (I’m not a fast runner at all and I think I calculated I came something like top 90 percent in my last race. But I did a very good time for me that I was happy with and that’s all that matters)

  18. LDN Layabout*


    Luckily most of my trip is with a US resident but for when I’m on my lonesome:

    – 20% for good service, 25% for very good in restaurants?
    – Taxis/Lyfts/Ubers, 10%?
    – Bartenders, a few dollars per drink?
    – Hotel housekeeping, $3-5 a night?

    Please tell me if I’m missing something obvious a tourist would run across.

    1. CatCat*

      Restaurant and bar, I do 15-20%. This is the standard custom. 25% would require truly exceptional service.

      If you use a bellman’s services at the hotel, I generally tip $1-$2 per bag.

      Parking valets $3-$5

      For taxi/uber/lyft, I’d do 10-20%

      If you use the hotel concierge to find and book you reservations or tickets, I’d do $5-$20.

      1. Christy*

        I hate to break it to you but the restaurant tipping standards have changed in the past ten or so years. 15% is now considered a bad tip. 20% is standard.

    2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Bartenders will usually give you change in $1 bills so its customary to leave a buck a drink on the bar when you get your drinks. Just leave it there, everyone knows not to touch it :)

      Hotel housekeeping – as a former maid once in a former life, for a VERY short time, it was much appreciated but not expected, and I worked at a five star resort. That range sounds fine if you wish to leave it, although to be honest, half the time I forget.

      Taxi – maybe 15%. Restaurant is 15% with 20% for good service.

      Dont feel like you need to always tip in the tip jar, I dont unless its been excellent service. If the bellhop at the hotel takes your bags up, its a few bucks per bag tip would be expected.

      You aren’t going to Las Vegas, right? That has some of its own ‘other’ rules on tipping.

      1. WellRed*

        Vegas has different rules? Do tell. I go every year, again later this spring and would hate to be out of step.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I dunno about different, but additional? I don’t have to tip my blackjack dealer (I don’t usually tip them directly until I get up, but about every 8-10 hands in at the table I place a small bet for them in addition to my own) or roving cocktail waitresses bringing me free booze ($1 chip for water, $2 for a cocktail) when in Indianapolis. :)

    3. kc89*

      those all look decent to me!

      with bartenders, I often tip $5 for the first drink as a show of good will and then $1 for the rest of the drinks for the night, if you start off with a bigger tip like that they will often pay more attention to you which can be helpful in a busy bar

    4. Groot*

      I tip 20% at most at restaurants. usually between 18-20. I think the 25% is ridiculous. Next what? move it to 30%?

      1. valentine*

        They get paid like $1/hour, Groot, so, yes, 30%, until we crumble capitalism, change the law, or people act right.

    5. Sammie*

      In CA, especially in the expensive cities, I believe 20% in restaurants is pretty much standard now. At least that’s what I’ve been told after moving here a couple years ago, and it’s the general rule I follow.

      1. Penguin*

        When I lived in the Boston (another expensive city!) area several years ago, 20% was also considered standard restaurant tip level.

    6. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Actually, 20% should be the average tip in a restaurant because it has been almost 30 years (1991) since the tipped minimum wage was raised to $2.13 per hour. So unless we agree that wait staff deserve a hefty pay cut due to inflation, we need to tip more than we used to back then. (Until we can abolish the tipped minimum wage and just force employers to pay waitstaff a living wage like everyone else, rather than put them at the mercy of the customer, which has been shown to lead to racial and gender pay inequality.)

      So yes, I tip 20% minimum for passable service, and 25-30%+ for exceptional service. It’s only a difference of a few dollars, generally, and I used to wait tables, so I know it’s not easy.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Probably. I’ve only lived in high cost of living cities and suburbs on the east coast, where the economic disparity is probably more stark.

          Oh, and LDN Layabout, the rest of your tips seemed fine to me. If someone takes your luggage to your hotel room, tip them a few dollars ($5-20, depending on how many bags, how helpful they are, and the price of the room). If a concierge is really helpful and does a lot of work for you or really makes your trip, you can tip them once, usually at checkout, but it’s not expected, and may even be refused, depending on the hotel. (I don’t know if you’re staying at a hotel, but those were the only other things I could think of that you didn’t mention.)

      1. lammmm*

        If I’m tipping cash, I round up to whatever cash I have. So standard, decent service on $40 bill may get a $10 tip if all I have is a $1, $5, and $10. They’d of have to be truly terrible for me to leave the $6 in this case.

      2. TL -*

        You tip off food prices, though, which have kept pace with inflation and comprise the majority of a server’s paycheck. In lower cost of living areas, 15% is fine. 20% in HCOL if they follow federal tipped wages (some don’t).

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Yes, the portion of server’s wages paid directly by customers should be keeping pace with inflation, but the portion paid by their actual employers has not, as I explained. So they have suffered a decrease in wages relative to inflation, if tipping stayed the same.

    7. Parenthetically*

      For bartenders, it VERY MUCH depends what I’m drinking. I’m not going to tip a few dollars per drink on a $5 pint of Guinness. A fancy, multi-step, $14 cocktail, sure.

    8. Alex*

      All looks good, although in some cases you can use some discretion. For bars, I leave $1 for a beer and $2 for a cocktail, usually.

      If you are just vacationing, you may not run into this, but we also tend to tip other service providers, like hair stylists, manicurists, massage therapists, etc. If you go to a spa you may want to tip the person who provided the service, and 15-20% is appropriate.

  19. Anon anony*

    When you are listening to someone speak, is it okay to nod your head while listening? I do this and I have one friend who will ask, “Did I already tell you?” When I asked why she would ask that, she replied, “Because you were shaking your head.”

    I’m just being an “active listener” but now I’m confused if I should just not move or what’s going on…

    1. Lilysparrow*

      No, you’re fine. That’s just her.

      She may have a habit of repeating stories and be a bit paranoid about trying not to.

    2. Not A Manager*

      If it’s just the one person, I’d ignore it.

      Your question did make me think, though, that I nod my head BOTH to indicate “I am listening/I hear you” AND to indicate “I’ve heard this before from you or someone else and I’d like you to wrap this up.” The only difference I can think of (and I’m sitting on my couch nodding to myself as I type), is that the “let’s wrap this up” nod is faster and involves more direct eye contact than the “I am listening” nod, which is slower and more thoughtful.

      It’s *possible* that you’re somehow giving the “move along now” nod when you intend the “I feel you” nod.

    3. Marion Ravenwood*

      I do a lot of interviews for my side hustle, and I nod all the time when I’m listening in those. It’s generally code for ‘yes I’m paying attention’ in a way that means I’m still paying attention to the story and giving the interviewee time to speak – sometimes in that scenario ‘mmm’ or ‘yeah’ can put people off, so nodding indicates ‘I’m still interested in what you’re telling me’.

      That said, I know I sometimes do the insistent ‘double nod’ in a way that’s meant to be encouraging, but can sometimes feel like hurrying along, so maybe you’re doing that unintentionally and that’s what your friend picked up on?

    4. Iron Chef Boyardee*

      I’ve always thought of nodding as a non-verbal “uh-huh” or acknowedgement that I’m listening, a kind of social thing like the way “how are you?” is used as an expression and not as an actual indication of concern about the other person’s welfare.

      But I have Asperger’s Syndrome so I’m not always up on the proper social cues; take my comments with however many grains of salt as you wish.

    5. fposte*

      It’s fine. It’s not crucial that you do it–a lot of people, especially male people, don’t do a lot of nodding–and it’s possible to overdo it to the point it may be distracting. Feel free to ask that one friend what’s going on, though.

  20. PX*

    Roommate rant.

    I usually sublet the second room in the flat where I live (with the landlords blessing), and was perhaps a bit too hasty when choosing my last tenant. When she came over for a viewing, I noticed some things which gave me pause, but there werent a lot of other good candidates so I went with her. Alas, she doesnt seem to have the same kind of boundaries I do, but have no idea how to raise that.

    There are 2 main things which bug me:
    1. Moving my stuff around. I probably just need to suck it up and have a clear conversation with her about this, but it drives me nuts that she doesnt seem to understand that I dont want her re-arranging furniture or re-organising the kitchen and making it impossible to find anything every 3 weeks because…she thinks they look better that way.

    2. She wants to talk/interact with me way more than I want. My roommate preference is someone who pays their rent, is quiet and reasonably clean/tidy. I’m not looking to make friends and am perfectly happy to only have hi/bye/I’m away next week type conversations. She on the other hand always wants to know how my day was, what I’m up to, tells me what she’s up to, what her sister is up to, how her work is etc etc etc. The other week she came up behind me while I was cooking in the kitchen to peek over my shoulder to see what I was cooking and tell me it seemed nice. Ack. I had no words but shuddered so much. This – I have no idea how to approach.

    How do you tell someone to just…stop interacting so much with you? I’ve ranted to all my friends about this but no one has had any suggestions on how (or if) this is something that can be done without coming across as massively…mean/rude.

    1. Traffic_Spiral*

      Well, for #1 you need to learn how to Use Your Words, and for #2… I dunno. Most people do want to feel sorta friendly and familiar with a person they live with, and yeah, there’s not really a way to be like “I want you to just pay rent and not to talk to me” that isn’t… unfriendly. Not sure how you’re gonna get around that, other than obviously next time you need to be clear up front that you want your roommate not to talk to you and generally act like you don’t exist.

      1. valentine*

        there’s not really a way to be like “I want you to just pay rent and not to talk to me” that isn’t… unfriendly
        Sure there is. Ideally, it would’ve been in the ad and discussed during the interview, but it’s never too late to (re)set terms. PX, it sounds like she signed up for companionship (or assumes that’s what you want; ideally, she will be relieved to hear it’s not), so, it’d be kind to offer to let her out of the lease. Maybe she doesn’t know she only has permission to do whatever with her kitchen spaces. If necessary, put Post-Its or something on her cabinets, so she can see she needs to leave everything else alone.

    2. Not A Manager*

      Possibly silly question – is she renting a room from you, or is she sharing the flat with you? Is she supposed to have equal access to the living space and kitchen? I think she shouldn’t move your stuff either way, but if she’s really renting a room and the rest of the apartment is yours, I think it’s a different conversation than if you’re sharing the whole space.

      1. PX*

        No, its a good question! I typically advertise it as just the room plus obviously access to the kitchen and bathroom. When it comes to the living room, I usually say I’m happy for them to use it if I’m away or if they let me know in advance – for example if they want to have people over. But I would say its generally mine.

        But for instance in the kitchen, the spaces are clearly defined – shelves and cupboards for me, shelves and cupboards for the roommate. And thats a clear conversation when they move in. So coming back and finding stuff re-arranged there really boggles me. Like, there is a space for your things. Why are you re-arranging my things too? Plus I find her use of space really inefficient too so I’m like – this makes no sense even from a practical perspective!

        To be honest I’ve probably had the soft version of the conversation where I address the individual instances when it happens, but I’ve not quite mustered the courage to have the big picture conversation of ‘you keep doing this and it keeps bugging me so please stop it’. Mainly because I keep hoping she’ll stop eventually I guess?

        1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

          Ohhhh, that’s really different – my initial thought was “Well, it’s a roommate, it’s her kitchen too, it’s not really fair to say she doesn’t have a say in the arrangement of shared spaces” but… rearranging *your* shelf is certainly a step too far. Definitely requires a big-picture conversation of “Hey, I want to be clear that I’d prefer you not rearrange my things in the kitchen – do whatever your like with your own space, but, I have mine organized the way I like, please leave it as-is!” Which might be a good tie-in for the “can we not rearrange the furniture unilaterally please” conversation.

          I’m not sure you can ask her to talk to you less, though – not without alienating her to the point she wants to move out. It’s not weird that she’d want to get to know the person she’s living with, nor that she’d think she has equal right to be in the kitchen; she presumably thought commenting on your food was just being friendly. Probably all you can do there is say things like, “When I get home from work I’m often really tired and need to have some quiet time, thanks for understanding” and from their just model the behaviour you want her to display – politely ending conversations to go do something else (even if just “Oh, there’s a TV show on I want to watch” or “Oh, I have some emails to catch up on!”) and minimize engaging in conversation with her.

          1. PX*

            Oh man, to be clear, shes free to be in the kitchen whenever. And the food commenting would have been fine, except that she literally came up super close, right behind me to look over my shoulder at what I was chopping. All up in my personal bubble.

            Its that kind of interaction which makes me be like…!!! And then it clouds everything else because I cant fathom why you would do that.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Eh, you don’t have to know why. Probably she just couldn’t see what you were chopping. You can just say that you prefer people don’t stand close to you or that people don’t stand close to you while you are chopping. And you will do the same in return.

            2. Canadian Natasha*

              Ooh, I feel you on the personal space invasion. I have someone at the place we don’t talk about on weekends who does that along with grabbing and leaning onto the back of my chair and it drives me bonkers! But it is definitely a culture/personality difference that isn’t meant to be rude so I try to be nice about it. (I still politely ask her to stop, but I maturely refrain from biting her chair-leaning hands. Lol)

              As unpleasant as it feels, I think it is time for you to have a direct conversation with your housemate about their inappropriate patterns of behaviour in moving your stuff. I’d save the excessive talking conversation for a separate time so they don’t feel like you are finding *everything* wrong with them.
              Good luck!

        2. Asenath*

          I think, if the arrangement was that “these are your kitchen shelves, those are mine”, and she re-arranged mine to suit her taste, she’d be under no illusions that this wasn’t part of the rental agreement! I still remember the time one of my aunts visited my mother and rearranged my mother’s kitchen shelves “so they were organized in a way that made sense”! But some of the things you mention – the friendliness – seem to be mainly a personality difference. I understand it’s annoying – I tend to be self-contained, which is partly why I like living alone!, but many for many people that sort of behaviour is on the basic courtesy level. I think I’d speak up on things that weren’t part of the rental arrangement, like moving your things in your space, and put up with the chitchat. And giving reminders if it happens again, possibly escalating to the “I’ve asked you not to reorganize my things, but you’re still doing it”.

          1. PX*

            Ah self contained. Such a good way to phrase it. When I had the ad up, there was someone who responded and described themselves that way and I was like: You! Please come live with me!

            Alas, they had already found somewhere to live by the time I had the viewing.

            But yes, I think a big picture conversation about some of the other things will probably give me more patience to put up with the chitchat to be honest. So weekend goal it is!

        3. Someone Else*

          You might be able to avoid this in the future if you make a point of having this conversation up front when interviewing potential renters. Not in an adversarial way, but in a “this is what you’re signing up for/ this is the deal I am offering” way. Then you’ll be on the same page from the get-go. From what you describe it sounds like either she’s just super inconsiderate (possible, but I’m thinking less probable based on your not yet having a super direct discussion with her) or the two of you are just not at all on the same page about what this living arrangement was intended to be.

          1. PX*

            Yup, I will be making it clearer in the ad and bringing it up during the viewing more explicitly for sure. Unfortunately in this case, I only realised after she moved in that she was looking for more of a ‘lets be friends and hang out!’ type arrangement I think…

        4. BPT*

          I will say that the arrangement that she only gets a room, “access” to the kitchen, and inability to really use the living room is an unusual arrangement in a lot of places. Everywhere I’ve lived, advertising a room just denotes that you’re looking for a roommate to share an apartment/house, and that the whole apartment isn’t for rent. I’ve rarely heard of advertising a room meaning “you only get to use the room but the common spaces are not shared equally.” Was this spelled out clearly in the ad? Because if not, she probably came in thinking that it was an apartment share/roommate situation.

          If it was spelled out very clearly before she signed a lease and she’s paying considerably less than you are, then I get your annoyance about the living room. The kitchen: I would share your annoyance (because I got to the place where just living with roommates annoyed me, no matter what they did), but access to the kitchen probably to her means you have equal say over how things are done there. So moving things on your shelves – absolutely not ok. Moving common items – probably a little more understandable, even if they’re not in what you think are the best places.

          The best thing is probably just to sit down and have a conversation to ensure you’re on the same page, and realize that you’re not going to be able to control everything she does.

    3. WellRed*

      Well, I get not wanting the kitchen rearranged ( fantasies here about my own kitchen arranged just so) but if you are sharing equally, she’s…not supposed to make a single change? I’ve had roommates ocassionally change things for the better, other times, it’s a big no for me. Mostly, I try to adjust my thinking or meet in the middle. Flex.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Eh, I’ve lived with housemates for the last seven years, and we’ve all operated under the idea that rearranging communal spaces was a communal decision – that is, I don’t come home and find that someone else did it without at least asking me what I think first, unless they have a really good reason. Especially if it’s my stuff they’re rearranging. Now, if new roommate has a favorite chair they’d like to find room for or something, there’s room for a discussion about that, but it sounds like they’re literally just rearranging PX’s stuff without so much as a by-your-leave, which is a little weird.

        1. PX*

          This. If at any point she would tell me before just doing stuff (or even after doing stuff!), it would absolutely be much less of an issue. But I typically just come in to find things have been moved – and like I mentioned above often in a way that is just..impractical! When she did it in the living room, I had to move everything back to where it was because given the layout we have, what she did was literally make the room have like, 75% less usable space.

          In the kitchen I try to be flexible – some of it is fine, some of it is..eh. But then its things like taking common items we both use, and moving them to the back of a cupboard under the sink. And not telling me, so I go looking for an item which has now disappeared and I’m like…where is it? Why isnt it where it was before? (This was the second time she had moved them from where they first were when she moved in…)

          1. WellRed*

            Oh, I totally sympathize. My big current irritation: stacking large pots or dishes on top of smaller ones. It’s completely illogical and takes up so much space! Also, just put the measuring cups back together instead of tossing in drawer.

            1. PX*

              Oh my god stacking! She’s not guilty of it, but previous roommates had me wondering whether I was the crazy one for believing that the small thing should go in the big thing instead of vice versa :D

              1. Canadian Natasha*

                Wait, how does this work? People actually put big plates on top of small ones? But, why….?

    4. Ex-flatmate*

      I think you just have to be clear and direct with her. There’s nothing inherently mean or rude in saying any of that, as long as your tone is appropriate. Keep it friendly and warm, but professional-sounding rather than how you’d chat to a friend. Treat it like a business conversation, because that’s pretty much what it is.

      Ideally this is stuff you’d address when someone first moved in, or preferably even when choosing someone. But you can still do it now. Sit down with her and just be honest. “Hey, Roommate, there’s a couple of things I’d like to clarify about the living situation here. Firstly, I’m finding it frustrating that you keep reorganising things in the flat. Please don’t move furniture or rearrange stuff that belongs to me. If you think there’s an issue that needs addressing, please speak to me first. Secondly, I like my space and quiet at home. I prefer not to chat and hang out with roommates. I like you fine, I’m just not up for a lot of socialising at home. Thanks for understanding.” And then just keep being friendly in passing but not engaging in conversation etc when in the flat and set the tone for what you want.

      It sounds like she’s not a great fit for you, but she doesn’t sound malicious or unkind, maybe just a bit thoughtless. But be prepared that she may not be comfortable with the type of roommate relationship you want, so she may not stick around. That’s not a bad thing, if you both get to live in situations that suit you better.

      1. PX*

        Good phrasing! There’s some stuff that came up this week which actually makes it a good time for a conversation like this I think, so I will try and do it this weekend.

        Like you say, I think it was just a bad fit. Really I think she’s just..a bit too young/immature for me. She’s reasonably fresh out of university and I think she is still very much in the mindset of a student house/dorm environment where people are much more social and share a lot vs grumpy old me who has been out of that for a long time and just wants peace and quiet!

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          Most people don’t grow out of friendliness, you know. If you want a Ghost Roommate, you need to specifically advertise for one.

          1. WellRed*

            I use the phrase friendly but independent. I also prefer roommates over the age of 30. It screens out a lot of lifestyle conflicts. My current self would not live well with my 25 yo self.

            1. Traffic_Spiral*

              Yeah, but “came up behind me while I was cooking in the kitchen to peek over my shoulder to see what I was cooking and tell me it seemed nice?” That’s not really age-specific. Neither is “I’m not looking to make friends.” I mean, there’s nothing objectively wrong with it, but it’s sorta like trying to get a regular NSA sex partner who understands that this is purely an arrangement of convenience and you don’t ever want to just hang out or have a non-sex conversation with them. If you don’t clear that up at the beginning you very well might end up with one who asks you how your day was.

        2. Koala dreams*

          Well, the social thing I can accept as more dorm-y, but the taking things from other people’s cabinets was a big no-no in any dorm I have lived in.

    5. Iron Chef Boyardee*

      Is there a roommate agreement? Maybe there should be one.

      Not trying to be snarky or funny or anything like that.

      Obviously it doesn’t have to be as extreme as something Sheldon Cooper would write, but still… it may be a good thing to have.

      1. PX*

        No, you’re right. I typically have a conversation when people move in about expectations and practical things, but I suppose its a bit of trial and error what goes into that conversation. None of these things are issues I’ve had with previous renters, so its not something I would have thought I need to bring up.

        However as with so many things in life, you learn from experience, so I’ve definitely made some mental notes on things to discuss the next time I’m looking for someone!

      2. Wishing You Well*

        Put the house rules in writing – seriously. Say “I think we have a misunderstanding and I’d like to clarify things for both our benefits.” One page, bullet items. Include what is hers to control – cabinet, frig space, etc. Don’t make it a contract to sign. That would make it negotiable. Hand her a copy after talking about it. Written rules are tougher to misunderstand or forget.
        Be prepared if she wants to move, no matter how gently you present the issue. Be gracious.
        Give the written rules to the next tenant (if there is one) before they move in.
        Best of Luck.

        1. PX*

          Absolutely doing this for next time. The first place I lived in when I moved to my current city was this kind of set up, and they had the same thing – a list of house rules handed to me when I first moved in. It also had some of the practical bits (eg garbage collection days etc) so it wasnt just a list of do’s and dont’s, but it definitely made it clear what was/wasnt acceptable.

          And I’m very flexible on leaving dates/notice periods etc so that wouldnt be an issue on my end.

    6. Koala dreams*

      1. I think you need to be really clear that re-arranging furniture in the kitchen / living room is off-bounds, and that she shouldn’t peek into you shelves or move around stuff. Is she stealing also? Because in that case maybe it’s time to find another tenant.

      2. It’s fine to say that you are not a touchy-feely person or that you don’t appreciate her sneaking up on you. The other things are difficult because she probably feel that being social and chatty is both polite and a part of her personality. Sorry!

      1. PX*

        Oh gosh, definitely no stealing! That would definitely be end of tenancy behaviour. Just (minor) annoyances which have unfortunately built up over time.

        And I think some of the points and scripts people have proposed here have been good for me to think about! Its difficult because its not that I whole-heartedly hate being social or chatty, its just that she is the first roommate I’ve had who doesnt seem to get a lot of the social cues about when to be social or what are safe topics to discuss with someone who is basically still a stranger to you (I dont need a detailed breakdown of your sisters mental health thanks!). That combined with the other things have all just rubbed me the wrong way basically, so trying to find my zen in order to focus on the things that I can actually raise with her has been a challenge!

    7. Lilysparrow*

      Ex-flatmate makes some great points.

      I think it’s important to distinguish in your conversation between discussing things and social chitchat. Because otherwise it could come out sounding like, “Don’t touch anything without talking to me, but never talk to me!”

      Which is going to be confusing and sound unreasonably controlling, while your concerns here are in fact perfectly reasonable.

      Also, make sure you’re in a good mood and not actively irritated when you have this talk. Reduces the risk of piling on with “you’re always…” Or “and another thing…”

      Those are never helpful or productive.

      1. PX*

        Hah. Its funny your comment about not being actively irritated when I talk to her – thats kind of the problem. I’m a procrastinator at heart so what happens is she does something (usually the moving stuff)–> I am annoyed. I realise its not good to have a discussion about it when I’m annoyed as it wont be productive, so I stew for a bit while I try to find the perfect phrasing for when I do talk to her about it. Time passes and I decide its not that big of a deal/the moment has passed/it would be too awkward now.

        She does something else –> cycle begins again – with added bonus that I then remember I was annoyed previously and actually this is a pattern that should stop.

        However I am determined to do something about it because its been a couple of months now, and me stewing is no good for anyone, so I am going to use some of the suggestions here and make the conversation happen!

  21. CatCat*

    I just finished watching Diablero on Netflix. It’s set in Mexico and follows the story of a demon hunter and his associates as they try to track down missing children that have been kidnapped by a demon.

    If you like shows like Supernatural or Constantine, you would like this show.

  22. Voracious Reader*

    I would like some book suggestions please. I liked Gone Girl, The Girl in Cabin 10, An Anonymous Girl, and similar books. I’d prefer ones with great mysteries that are hard to figure out (they don’t have to have Girl in the title, ;) ). Please tell me some of your favorites.

    1. WellRed*

      Jessica knoll, Mary Kubricka are in that vein. Don’t love them, but they are certainly page turners. Didn’t love Girl on the Train either but couldn’t put it down.

    2. kneadmeseymour*

      I notice the conspicuous absence of The Girl on the Train…

      Anyway, if you like well-crafted mysteries that are hard to guess, I highly recommend Keigo Higashino. I don’t speak/read Japanese but a few of his books have been translated into English–I really enjoyed The Devotion of Suspect X. I’m a picky mystery reader who always tries to guess the ending and I could not figure this one out (in a good way).

    3. Mystery Reader*

      I enjoy the Coromon Strike series by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling). I feel the stories are interesting and difficult to figure out. I will qualify my response with it seems that I am one of the few people out there who was pretty “meh” about Gone Girl and I haven’t read the other two you listed although I have immediately put them on my list to read. ;)

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        Eh, I’m getting really annoyed with the whole “Robin” situation. It just seems to get too into the old cliche of “obviously the female character has to be the love interest so if she has a boyfriend who seems better than the protagonist on paper, he has to actually be a jerk and she’s just too dumb to get it.”

        But other than that, yeah, they’re good.

        1. Mystery Reader*

          Yeah, that’s true. I haven’t read the latest one yet (currently on the library waitlist) and I think the first two books didn’t have so much of that, mostly the 3rd one, so there hasn’t been enough of it yet to really bother me. But agree that is an annoying trend.

    4. Lily Evans*

      My favorite mystery writer is Tana French (though I didn’t love her most recent book, The Witch Elm). Her books always keep me guessing!

      1. Lemonwhirl*

        Was coming here to suggest Tana French. I loved “The Witch Elm” though. I think my favourite might be “Broken Harbor”. Or “The Tresspasser”.

    5. Extra vitamins*

      Hmm. How about “The Thirteenth Tale”. Pretty good mystery. It is in the gothic category, in case you don’t like that.

      1. eleanor rigby*

        I thought the adaptation (by the BBC a few years ago, well, 6 years ago, actually) was of a high standard. Plus Olivia Colman!

        1. Kate Daniels*

          Oh my gosh, I had no idea there was a movie adaptation! This has always been one of my favorite books. I’ll have to definitely check it out!

    6. Kuododi*

      I have been working on the ” Girl with a Dragon Tattoo” series.
      (Keeping with the title theme!). ;) It’s a very well done series imho. Have fun!!!

  23. Little Bean*

    Ok, please tell me if I am overreacting or just being a grouch here. I feel like my partner’s family friends are terrible hosts. Whenever they invite us for a holiday or someone’s birthday, they always ask all guests to chip in toward the food AND they also ask people to bring specific things. Like, my partner volunteered that we would bring a baked good, and was asked to bring chips and salsa instead. Neither of us even like salsa. Also, if you don’t offer enough money toward the food, they will tell you how much it cost and ask for more. I feel like, if you want to host an event, then you are responsible for the primary hosting costs OR you just make it a potluck and ask everyone to bring what they want/can. Everyone in this group does this, so it’s all the major holidays and several birthdays a year. It’s to the point where my partner and I don’t even want to go to these events anymore – at the last one, we pretended to have other plans so that we could just show up at the end and not eat or pay.

    1. Traffic_Spiral*

      Eeeh… are they from another culture? Maybe it’s a thing that’s ok in their culture. Personally, if I want to pay for a meal I’ll go to a restaurant, thank you, but I guess it’s different for them. Yeah, I’d stop going and find some other way to hang out with them, if you even want to hang out with them at all.

      1. Little Bean*

        I think they just have their own culture, from decades of events together. I am Asian American, my partner and his family are white, but we’re all from the US. I agree, if we’re going to pay $20 each for dinner, I’d rather pick a restaurant I like and order what I want from the menu.

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          Hm. Well, I don’t think that makes them bad people, but they are sorta bad hosts, in the traditional sense. Also, even if they’re not objectively “bad” I think it’s fair to just not like how they do things and not go. Like, if you had some people that loved hosting board game nights and you hated board games. It’s not wrong, but also, it’s perfectly ok to not want to go.

          1. valentine*

            Don’t go anymore. They’re exhausting. They remind me of the woman shamed for having a super-long, extremely detailed list telling people what to do or bring.

    2. WellRed*

      They aren’t hosts if everyone else is doing all the work and and they are issuing edicts on top of that. Call it a potluck if you want, but so called hosts shouldn’t be asking for money and certainly not shaming you for it. Throw your own shin dig and show em how it’s done.

      1. Little Bean*

        We did, actually! We hosted a party at our house and we bought and prepared all of the food (the guests were people from this group as well as others, and there was no way I was going to ask people to pay to come to a party at my house). The guests raved about how much food there was and how good it was, but it definitely didn’t change anything about how they have hosted their parties since then. If anything, it just made me a little more bitter. In my family, the huge costs of hosting even out because everyone takes a turn – so I might spend several hundred dollars at once to host but then I’ll get a free/cheap meal at a dozen other events when other people take their turn hosting. But it’s not really about the money anyway – it’s more just that it feels…. ungenerous.

    3. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      I could see one or the other (of ‘chip in toward the food’ OR ‘bring some food’), but not both. I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong to suggest what people bring, if people are bringing food – you don’t want four cakes and no salad, for example – but usually it’d be more of a vague category, like, ‘bring a side dish’ or ‘bring an appetizer’ rather than ‘bring chips & salsa’; having other people bring the food necessitates letting go of controlling the menu.
      If you want to have tight control of the menu, then you’ll have to supply the food yourself. If supplying the food yourself, it’s not unreasonable to ask others to chip in, especially if you genuinely can’t afford the expense yourself… but unless previously-agreed upon by the whole group, asking for a specific amount is a bit much.

      I don’t think you’re overreacting; but it seems like your choices are 1) decide that you like the people enough to put up with their weird habit; 2) politely explain that you’re happy to chip in, or happy to bring something, but you don’t feel like it’s fair to ask for both; or 3) don’t go to events hosted by these people any more – which will mean either hosting events yourself (possibly allowing you to model how YOU think these things should be done) or only meeting at neutral locations (like a restaurant or something). Probably comes down to how much you actually like these people – are they just ‘family friends’, or *actual* friends?

      1. Merci Dee*

        That’s a weird point of view to me, saying that it’s not unreasonable to ask people to chip in if you can’t afford the food. If you can’t afford the food, you don’t host a party. At the very least, you scale back the type of party you want to have (from dinner back to cocktail, from cocktail back to tea/coffee, etc.). Your budgetary issues should not be your guests’ problem.

        1. Washi*

          I don’t know, I think if there’s a group of people, especially family, that wants to get together regularly, but only one person’s house is big enough, that person is doing the group a favor by hosting. So in those circumstances, it’s not as much not being able to afford food as not having to be on the hook to feed everyone for every gathering. (Potlucks can work well, but sometimes having a bunch of people descend into the kitchen with their various dishes and 3 things need to go in the oven at different temperatures and someone else forgot a serving dish and stuff doesn’t super go together..I could see it just being easier to make all the food yourself and having everyone chip in.)

          But the both thing IS weird to me – if it’s a potluck, what are you paying for anyway??

        2. Indie*

          I can see that happening when people are so very close that they can dispense with a lot of formal ettiquette and get together on a ‘lets all pitch in basis’ – especially if people are young and/or broke.
          But by very close I mean you would be able to easily say back ‘No that doesnt work for me, I hate Salsa’ or ‘I can bring a host’s gift but I don’t want to do pot luck at all, actually’. I think because these people are parent’s friends the partner doesn’t feel able to do that and the friends are not considering that they are not dealing with super close peers here, even if that was how the tradition started.

          1. Indie*

            You know, scratch that, I didnt realise they were asking for actual money; WTAF.
            I think I’d dispense with make believe excuses and go straight to speaking about the invitation like it is soliciting money with things like “We can’t afford to eat out that much around the holidays actually, it’s cheaper to just feed ourselves” Or “Most of our eating out budget is being taken up with this amazing new restaurant we’ve found” or “We are actually splashing out on food ingredients right now, but it’s for the kind of menu we like to prepare at home alone together. Because we are in charge of it that way” Or ” I haven’t really been enjoying the meals you’ve asked us to pay for” or “I’d love to pay for your menu but I have been invited to a friend’s house for a free meal so they win” (but I am bloody minded enough to say that).
            Wow. A laconic ‘cant afford it’ would work but maybe discretion is the better part of valour. With my partner’s pushy family we just say we aren’t free. I dont care but they would make him suffer.

    4. kneadmeseymour*

      So you’re saying that they expect you to contribute a dish and they also expect you to chip in toward the costs of what they make? So they’re making the guests pay for everything and not paying themselves? This sounds like anti-hosting to me.

      1. Little Bean*

        It’s usually everyone contributing money toward ordering take-out from a restaurant, and then bringing an appetizer, dessert or beverage. I assume the hosts are paying a “share” of the take-out costs.

        1. Autumnheart*

          In my opinion, if one is having a party–let’s say a board game night, and there’s a decision like “Should we order pizza?” then it makes sense to have everyone chip in their share. The host would be especially nice to pay for the pizza, but it wouldn’t be rude to ask people to pay for themselves. But if someone is throwing a party for the purpose of having a meal, it IS rude to ask guests to pay.

          I might be a hypocrite, because I don’t feel that it’s rude to invite people out for dinner at a restaurant, with the expectation that each party pays for their own meal (as long as you make it clear when issuing the invitation–don’t surprise people with the bill). But I feel like it is rude if you’re hosting at home and you expect people to chip in on your party costs.

          1. Thursday Next*

            My husband was once sent a printed invitation for the two of us to a birthday party at a restaurant. IME, formal invitations=the hosts are paying.

            As we were leaving, the hosts asked us to chip in $30 pp. For a set menu that they’d decided on, which was not vegetarian (so I hadn’t eaten anything, which meant I hadn’t had any alcohol, either). It was truly tacky.

            Little Bean, at least you know the rules by which this group plays. It does seem kind of bizarre to me too, asking for money *and* food. But I think asking for money for an event at your own home is tacky, unless it’s something like a group order where everyone picks food off the menu, possibly to share, and splits the cost. If I’m paying, I want to make sure there’s something I can eat!

            Potlucks are different—they spread the costs and create variety, and they’re great for low-key gatherings. They seem more communal, rather than a party with putative hosts who are offloading so many hosting responsibilities.

              1. Thursday Next*

                My husband did—he’s too nice about things like that. But I never interacted with them again.

    5. Asenath*

      I’ve never encountered such a thing in a family setting – although there may be a tradition that Aunt Sally always brings her special apple pie for desert. Potlucks are stated ahead of time as being potlucks, not “We’re hosting a birthday party for Sam, please bring $20 and salsa”, and can be organized in different ways, ranging from complete free choice of guests as to what to bring to assigned/volunteered items, possibly with a small cash contribution to cover drinks. Potlucks might also be hosted in an individual’s house, but that’s different from that individual gicing the party. I don’t think you’re over-reacting; that’s odd.

    6. Koala dreams*

      Well, it sounds fair but strange if everybody does this. If you had shared their tradition, you would have gotten the money back when you were “hosting”. Since it doesn’t work for you, you can just decline the invitations. Offer to meet them for something not-food related on another date close to the holiday or birthday instead, to make it clear that you value them. You can go for a walk, play board games or cards, or watch a tv show for example. “Thanks for the invitation, I can’t come to the party unfortunately. I would love to spend some time with you though! What about going for a walk on *nearby date*?

    7. Autumnheart*

      I live in Potluck Country, and I would consider this bad hosting. A host should provide most of the food and beverages for their own party. Potluck etiquette also dictates that the host may say, “We’ll have plenty of food, but if you’d like to bring a dish or a beverage to share, that would be fine.”

      If the party is a true potluck with assigned dishes, that is also appropriate in Potluck Country, but it has to be agreed upon by all participants. The host can’t just be like, “I’m throwing a party and you’re invited! Please buy the chips.”

      Asking for money is really beyond the pale. That’s incredibly crass. I wouldn’t go to these parties anymore.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Ask your partner for backstory. How did these folks arrive at this method of hosting?
      If they consistently operate this way then you are forewarned because of the consistency.

      People who are close to each other can have different boundaries with money than people who are casual acquaintances.
      My friend and I help each other out at random intervals. With larger projects we pay each other for the help. To outsiders this might seem strange. For me and my friend, it works. We pay each other in recognition and out of respect for each other’s time/specialized knowledge/etc. My point is that people do things that seem strange at first glance but it is happening for a reason. With my friend and me, what people don’t see is there are times one of us will try to pay the other one and the money gets waived, it’s just a helping hand that is all.

      If you guys don’t like it then don’t go. That is what it boils down to. Yeah, I’d be kind of upset to get hit up for money like that. I’d want to know before I went to the event how much money was expected from me. I would also tend to think , “here are some people living beyond their means and getting others to subsidize it.” Again, it depends on what everyone has agreed to in the past.

    9. Lilysparrow*

      My in-laws are a really big family and none of them are rich, though a couple have larger homes that can fit everyone.

      If any one family had to bear the brunt of feeding the whole crew, it would be so expensive they would rarely get together all at once. Which is what they like to do.

      So family events are seen as collaborative, with one or the other of the folks who have larger homes as the nominal “hosts.” But everyone chips in money or a dish. It’s not seen as an invitation, but as a communal effort because we want to see everybody.

      And yes, the nominal hostess co-ordinates the dishes to make sure all the bases are covered.

      If we’re vacationing together, each family provides one meal.

      It all works out. And there is no doubt that the host families are putting in a LOT more effort than the rest of us, because they have all the work of setup, cleanup, and a million incidental details of hosting a very large group.

      It sounds to me like there’s a conflict in expectations or communication styles about these arrangements in your situation. But ultimately, if you don’t enjoy their company enough to participate in family events, don’t go.

      But “I don’t enjoy being around my/your family enough to deal with a minor annoyance” is a different conversation than “my/your family are bad hosts.”

    10. Not All*

      It sounds like that family culture has evolved to have “hosting” mean “we provide the physical space for everyone to get together and the group jointly provides everything else”. As long as everyone is on board, I don’t really see an issue with it. My family did this for awhile when my house was both centrally located and the only one remotely large enough to hold everyone at the same time that I was pretty financially strapped. (Not because all my money was going to a house…it was actually a super affordable fixer upper). Everyone was happy with this (except possibly me because I’m a bit introverted & loathe a couple relatives)…it was still much more affordable than going to a neutral location for the same gathering. It sounds like the problem is more you’d rather spend more money to go to a neutral spot than just having family provide the space. Can you suggest that as an occasional option? But it may just be that everyone else is happy and considers it a fair trade.

    11. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      If they’re supposedly thinking this is how traditional hosted events work, then they’re completely wrong, that’s for sure! If you’re hosting a gathering, you shouldn’t be asking for contributions like that.

      However if it’s just a gathering, where you’re offering your home for movie night or a game night, then it’s totally cool to say “We’re going to get a couple platters of nibbles and soda!” and then others are free to bring their own contributions. I know that if I’m told that, I then grab a case of beer and some chips at Costco, etc. I don’t need to be instructed to do so, that’s just rude. Or a guest will often say “Hey can I bring anything?” and then it’s proper to respond either “no, that’s okay we want it lowkey” or you can say “If you want to bring more nibbles, that would be great.”

      For our BBQ, everyone knows we’re going to have all the BBQ food and the basic sides plus soda and beers. However of course the beers are limited, so most others are going to bring a six pack of their favorite to put in the cooler to share as well, etc. They’re not ever asked to do so or expected. You’ll also get people who ask what we need, then we can say ‘Can you bring a sweet, we’ve got so much salty sides, dessert is where we’re lacking!”

      But again, that’s a “gathering” and billed as such. A hosted event like a party celebrating our milestones or something, nope nope nope nope. That’s all on the host to provide for.

      You’re doing the right thing by not going to their events if you hate their style! You still care for them, you still love them, you don’t have to go to their events if they stress you our or you don’t enjoy their setup.

    12. Alex*

      It is a bit strange, but it seems to be just “how they do things.” Yes, it is a bit tacky in the realm of hospitality etiquette.

      This was the custom when I was very young–like, during college or just after–that if someone threw a party, people coming to the party would chip in some money to offset the costs. This was done because we were all students with no money and it was tough to absorb hosting costs for any individual. Once everyone got more grown up though, this wasn’t done anymore.

      But maybe your partner’s family isn’t in a position to really put up money to host, and this is how they manage to have get togethers?

    13. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      This does sound terrible — I wonder if they got burned in the past somehow. I know my mom is getting fed up with being the one person in the family to ever host anything, because the costs add up. For her to ever ask people to chip in money AND bring food though, that would never happen on her watch. So she just hosts less parties.

      I have been to some large dinner parties in Sweden where each person pays the host the split cost of the ingredients for the evening, but host prepares. Food can be very expensive there, and while it seemed a little strange to me, it was considered perfectly acceptable to everyone else. We all also showed up with the obligatory bag of chips and a bottle or two of something to share around. But that was all arranged beforehand and accepted, no one was dictated to like this crew above!

      I would stop going too and not even feel guilty about it.

      1. Koala dreams*

        Even in Sweden, this is usally for cooking together or if the ingredients are unusually expensive. And it would then be odd to assign the guests a dish to bring in addition to the money paid.

    14. New Bee*

      I have one particular couple among my in-laws who is like this, and I find it pretty annoying. I chalk it up to “cultural differences” (though they are the only people I know who do this) and the fact that my mom and grandma have ingrained in me unspoken hosting rules, foremost that you need to be upfront about the extent of your hosting (i.e., saying when you invite me that it’s 100% potluck is cool; inviting me to dinner at your house and sending me a Venmo request the next day is not).

      Our solution is to only invite them over (and we do actually host/provide) or meet up at restaurants and buy our own food. (I refuse to rely on other folks’ food when we have fundamentally different understandings of what proper seasoning is, but that’s another story.) Of course, that’s easy to do when you’re only talking about 2 other people–do you think you’re the only person in the group who feels this way?

    15. HannahS*

      This sounds odd to me. In my daily life, I encounter three modes of hosting:
      1) Host buys/makes everything, guests make a pro forma offer to bring something and are denied.
      3) Host makes/buys the main part of the meal, guests sign up to bring sides/salads/fruit/dessert.
      4) Host invites guests, everyone chips in five bucks to order pizza.

      All I can imagine is that they started out with point 4 and then kept doing it, forever, because everyone hates cooking, or something, and then expanded to more expensive food. My friends and I (students) will often go for scenario 3, because the host can make a cheap hearty main, like chili. Being invited somewhere and being asked to bring 10 bucks AND a specific food would bother me, because I have dietary restrictions and often the thing that I brought is what I can eat; I would be annoyed to chip in for a main that’s not what I want/can eat.

      I guess, to me, it’s the fact that they’re being so prescriptive. The bargain of hosting is that you, the host, pays and you get to choose the whole meal, or I pay (by buying food or making it) and I get to choose my part of the meal. “You pay but we choose the meal AND you buy food but we choose what” is a violation of that. Also, wow, $20 per person is ridiculous. What are they even buying that it costs that much?

    16. KL*

      Reading this, I think you’re looking at it wrong. You’re looking at these gatherings and thinking about hosting. I’m reading about it and thinking about cost. Maybe they have the space, and they want people to come around, but just don’t have the money. Sure it’s a little tacky, but they just wanna have a good time.
      Food aside, do you actually like these people? Do you have a good time with them? Or is there more things you don’t like about these gatherings, and the food is just on a long list of things you don’t like about them? If so, what if you… Just stopped going?
      I’ve been to parties that work like your expectations do, and I’ve been to ones that work like your partner’s family friends. I’ll suck it up play by their requests if I can afford it and am in good company.

      1. Loves Libraries*

        I agree that thiyis a strange way to get together. Seconding that you ask the tradition behind this.

  24. PX*

    Happy news: The Great British Sewing Bee is back on TV! For those who do not know, after the success of the Great British Bake Off, there were a whole slew of similar shows created. My favourite of those is Sewing Bee, which has had a fairly long hiatus – I managed to catch the last season which I think aired in 2017, but the new one just started on Tuesday.

    Its soft, calm and very gently competitive like GBBO, and more focused on sewing skills rather than design (I just finished binging last season of Project Runway All Stars, so the contrast is interesting). So if anyone wants something warm and comforting to watch – thats my top tip!

    1. Marzipan*

      I’m sad that they didn’t make more than two seasons of the Pottery Throw Down, which was in the same vein but with ceramics. And one of the judges was awesome because he was constantly being moved to tears by, like, a glaze, or a really nice teapot, or whatever.

      1. Marion Ravenwood*

        It might be on hold – I think it’s the same production company that makes Pottery Throwdown, GBBO and GBSB, and IIRC when GBBO moved to a rival channel there was a thing in the contract that said the BBC couldn’t make any of those programmes for a certain period of time. Hence why GBSB is back now after a break. So fingers crossed!

      2. PX*

        Oooh, I think I might have just missed this because it sounds familiar but I definitely never watched it. Might have a hunt when GBSB is over and see what the internets has to offer. It sounds lovely :)

      3. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        My dad is a ceramist and adored pottery throwdown. He also sat and critiqued everyone’s technique. :)

        Didn’t they have to make a toilet in the second series?

    2. Ewesername*

      Oh Yay! I love that show. It takes awhile to air in Canada though, so will have to see if we can find it online.

      1. Lilith*

        I watched the pottery ones even tho I know nothing about clay etc. I just admire the skill. Didn’t like making one’s own toilet, tho. Dumb.
        I liked the Great knitting something or other but it was only subtitled for 2 years out of maybe 7?

      1. Dr. Anonymous*

        GBSB is not streaming in the US. It is possible to watch it with a VPN connected to a server in the UK. I’ve even tried to buy CDs when the previous seasons were on and for licensing reasons it just wasn’t possible, even when I was vacationing in the UK. There was an abortive attempt to produce a version in the US, but it didn’t get past the late auditioning stage.

      2. PX*

        Alas, its a BBC show so probably not. As Dr. Anonymous said, if you have some tech savvy though, or know where to look, there are generally unofficial sources…

    3. Stacia*

      I’ll definitely have to see if I can find it (on US TV). I am leaving in a week on a mission trip to teach machine sewing skills in Central America. I am so excited!!!

      1. PX*

        Your trip sounds amazing! I saw you post about it below, have a great time and please update us on it when you get back! Between this, Project Runway and a fabric design company I follow on instagram, I’m fascinated and curious as to what kind of amazing clothes could come out of giving more people access to ‘fashion’.

    4. Ron McDon*

      The first series is also currently being repeated on ‘Really’ on Thursday evenings!

      I am extremely clumsy and unable to do anything artistic or delicate with my hands, and really admire those that can, so I love watching these sorts of shows.

      I also enjoyed the pottery throwdown, but think low viewing figures were the reason it was not renewed for another series.

      I used to love ‘watercolour challenge’ back in the 90s (?), which I remember as being one of the first such gentle programmes where you would just watch someone do something artistic for an hour. I watch the big painting challenge when that’s on, but don’t like how they force painters to do something completely opposed to their normal style then tell them how rubbish what they’ve produced is!

      1. Lucy*

        Did you watch the programme on Sky last year which was a portrait challenge? They qualified with self-portraits then competed with five-hour portraits of interesting famous people. Different media and very different treatments. Fascinating.

        Google tells me it’s Portrait Artist of the Year and there will be a 2019 series.

      2. Chocolate Teapot*

        I have the books from the first 2 series of Sewing Bee, which are a combination of introduction to sewing techniques (e.g. what is a zip and how you attach it), and some of the projects made during the programme.

      3. PX*

        Oooh I will have a hunt for that!

        I’ve vaguely been taught how to sew, knit and crochet – but I’ve never really gotten into them. Strangely enough just this week I was wishing I had something I could do with my hands that would allow me to listen to a podcast in bed while still being productive so perhaps I might take up one of them again! But yes, I love seeing other people be creative.

        And as Lucy mentioned, Sky have Portrait Artist of the Year which I saw a clip of and also seemed like it would be fascinating to watch, so I will probably get on that too :)

    5. Lucy*

      “Very gently competitive” is right – in ep1 the high scorer is shown helping another competitor with a complicated, fiddly sleeve. You want to win, but you want everyone else to win as well.

      It is funny watching that as well as Project Runway because the pattern-matching on PR is generally terrible

      1. PX*

        Oooh see I feel like they always just skim over the pattern stuff on PR. For instance on GBSB I noticed they liked that Riccardo created his own pattern for the challenge, but as someone who doesnt sew – I’m like – is that really hard? Is it the equivalent of creating your own recipe? What kind of skills are involved? For PR if they are always creating their own patterns (I assume as the designs are always unique) – how can you tell the pattern matching is bad? (Is that when things dont fit properly?!) So many questions :D

        1. Lucy*

          Pattern matching is where you are using a patterned fabric and the pattern continues flawlessly across a seam. It’s monstrously difficult!

          As for pattern making, any garment has basic shapes like say a shirt has two front pieces, one back piece, two sleeves, a yoke, a collar, two cuffs. Creating your own pattern means building the garment from scratch on to the dress form or model, then deconstructing that prototype to work out what shape the individual parts need to be. Again, incredibly difficult. People spend literally years at college learning how to do this.

          It’s likely though that he meant he took the collar from this pattern and the pants from that pattern and the body from that pattern and the craftsmanship was in getting the pieces to join together. Still very difficult, but not reinventing the wheel at every step.

  25. Iron Chef Boyardee*

    If I may be so bold as to take the liberty: the following public service announcement is presented as a friendly reminder.

    For those of you who may not know, it IS okay to use the word “work” in the weekend thread. Euphemisms and allusions like “the ‘w’ word” and “the place we dare not mention” are not necessary.

    Alison herself has said so.

    It is my opinion that it’s also fine to mention your job in the weekend thread as long as it’s not the main focus of your post. For example, I’m sure this would be acceptable:

    “I like to read comics at my desk during lunch hour. Can anyone recommend a good bookstand that will allow me to have both hands free as I eat?”

    On the other hand, this would have to wait until Friday:

    “I like to read comics at my desk during lunch hour. However, my boss gets on my case about it because he thinks comics are for kids and adults shouldn’t be reading them at all. How can I politely tell him to leave me alone without getting fired for insubordination?”

    Comment as you see fit.

    1. Bow Belle*

      Removed. Do not be rude to other commenters here (the “I thought it’d be X” reference). And no, there are not mods, other than me. – Alison

      1. L’il Sebastian*

        Yep, this and what Anonerson said. There is nothing really wrong with these phrases. They bug you? Okay. Lots of people have certain words and phrases hang annoy them. That doesn’t mean they get to tell others to stop using them.

          1. Middle School Teacher*

            I’ve seen it. I can’t remember names but I have seen someone mention a thing that includes the word “work” but is not explicitly about work, and someone else comes along with their “gentle reminder” that this is the non-work thread and maybe repost next week and also their question might get deleted. It’s happened several times.

            1. Someone Else*

              I think that’s a bit different, although you may have seem examples I didn’t. I don’t think Alison has ever objected to users self-policing kindly when someone posts an obviously work-topic in the non-work thread. I’ve never seen someone tell someone to repost in the work thread just because they used the word “work” when it’s not the primary point of the post.
              On the flipside, I regularly see people avoid using the word “work”, then someone else says “what’s ‘the thing we cannot name’ mean?” and then someone else replies saying Alison has a rule about not using the word “work” on the weekend, and then Alison inevitably pops up clarifying “no there’s no rule against saying the word” and that’s about the content. So I think there’s ample evidence of confusion caused by people cutely avoiding saying “work”. I mean, I get it, if you’re avoiding it for your own reasons and to destress, OK fine, whatever. But when dozens of people use the same avoidance technique/phrasing it starts to seem like it’s required rather than all in good fun, especially when other people pop up saying it’s required when that is not the case.

              1. Middle School Teacher*

                But as I mentioned, they post about something not work-related but it includes the word. Eg. I have friends I met at work, I’d like to be more social with them on weekends, how can I do that? And someone polices them. It seems like some people see the word, miss the rest of the post, and just jumps in to comment.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I’ve never actually seen that happen (which doesn’t mean it’s never happened; I don’t see everything) but I’ve seen a ton of the other scenario. Which is why my preference/request is for people to stop with the euphemisms!

    2. Anonerson*

      I’ve always enjoyed the euphemisms like “the place we dare not mention”, “that things we don’t talk about on weekends”, etc. It’s always seemed to me like a good-natured way of celebrating the weekend, enjoying the fact that, at least for those who work only on weekdays, any worries or stress about work can be set aside, if only temporarily. It’s like a self-enforcing stress-free zone.

      1. Iron Chef Boyardee*

        A valid point.

        If this were an in-person gathering where we could hear each others’ voices and tones and inflections, it might be obvious that a euphemism is being said in a lighthearted manner.

        If we could use emojis here, that would also help.

        But phrases like “the place we dare not mention”, combined with Alison’s deleting contextually inappropriate posts and replacing them with a reminder that this is the weekend thread, may cause newer readers to think any mention of work/employment, and even the mere use of the word in a non-vocational context, is forbidden (“I’m dating a woman who is perfect for me in every way except one: she’s a strict vegetarian and I love hamburgers and won’t give them up. Can this relationship work?”).

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I get that, but the problem with it is that it makes other readers think there’s actually a rule against the word, and then they say things that reinforce that to others … and I’d rather people not think there are rules that don’t really exist here!

        1. Canadian Natasha*

          Oops, sorry and of course I just did it on another comment before I scrolled this far. In the future I’ll avoid the euphemism.

      3. Melody Pond*

        I’m with you (@Anonerson). I’ve always enjoyed the phrases like, “the place we do not speak of on weekends” even though I know it’s perfectly acceptable to use the word “work”. I find it goofy and fun, and like you said, a good-natured way of celebrating the weekend.

        And as for Alison’s concern about other readers thinking there’s a rule against the word “work”… hmm, that doesn’t seem like a huge worry to me. The actual content of the rules can always be very easily and quickly cleared up by, uh, consulting the link for the commenting rules. (If you haven’t consulted the actual source material for the rules, how can you possibly speak authoritatively about what you think the rules are? That type of thing always boggles my mind.)

        The ironic thing is that this whole line of thinking now makes me wonder whether Alison is considering implementing a rule against these euphemisms, out of concern that others will think a rule exists when there actually is no such rule… and now my head is spinning. Rule-ception? :)

        1. Sam Sepiol*

          You may like it but I hate it and often find it confusing, so personally I’d vote for the largest amount of clarity. Obviously your mileage varies!

          1. The Other Dawn*

            Same here. Just say “work.” That’s what it is. Just because it’s said, doesn’t meant the post is actually work-related.

    3. kneadmeseymour*

      You say that now, but you’ll come to regret this stance after you utter the word-that-shall-not-be-named and a horde of Microwaved Fish Eaters descend upon your home and TPS report you into oblivion.

    4. eleanor rigby*

      Thank you for saying this! Sometimes, if a poster has been particularly creative about *not* mentioning the work word, it takes me a little while to figure it out what exactly they mean…

  26. annakarina1*

    I feel happy that I’ve been so much busier in the past couple of months with social stuff. My habits are to be a homebody outside of work, with kickboxing and trivia as two of my social interests, but I’ve been pushing myself more lately to be more social and busy. So recently I’ve been out on dates, went to a Super Bowl party, a Lunar New Year dinner, two industry events, a book club meeting, a storytelling show, two of a friend’s show performances, etc. It feels like an interesting change to be much more social and not just cocooned in my own world outside of work.

    1. PX*

      Nice! I tend to have periods of more social-ness and then less, and I’m definitely in the latter at the moment. I’ve had very few plans the last few months and…am probably not quite ready to be social again for a while. Basically I’m still hibernating, but I can definitely feel that now that the days are getting slightly longer, I can see myself wanting to get social again on the horizon.

  27. Marzipan*

    Thanks to everyone for the kind words last week. This round of donor egg IVF is now officially another failure (as opposed to last weekend when it was only unofficially a failure). Feeling pretty rough now I’ve stopped the meds and my hormones are hastily adjusting back to normal.

    (Two weeks ago when I went for my embryo transfer I had some time to kill before my appointment, so I walked all the way round a sort of wharf/lake thing nearby. I keep having weird memories of it, almost flashbacks. It feels as though what I’m supposed to be doing with my weekends is going for embryo transfer. It’s just weird and incomprehensible not to be doing that. Like, why can’t I just keep going back every weekend, until it works?)

    I am currently coping by frantically planning next steps. WTF appointment with my clinic. Second opinion from another clinic. Looking into options for donor embryos in Europe. At some point I need to stop and actually think things through properly. But not just yet.

    1. dawbs*

      I”m sorry.
      ANd thinking later is an appropriate response, sometimes not stopping to think and just pattering ahead on the treadmill, knowing you’ll jump off soon is a way to be.
      But I”m sorry. ANd hormones make it harder.

    2. Ivy F.*

      So sorry to hear that. I had multiple failed cycles and I can remember how it dominates your life and your thoughts.
      Best of luck with your next steps and take care of yourself.

    3. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      Sending hug. Thought I did so earlier but do not see it… my heartfelt warmest thoughts.

  28. Twisted Knickers*

    My sister and I are thinking of taking a short trip to St. Augustine, Florida in March. We’re wondering if we might run into lots of “spring breakers” there, or if it’s not a real popular place for college students. Appreciate any advice…thanks!

    1. StellaBella*

      Can you verify with a few local hotels on dates of spring break there in town? it may span 2+ weeks depending on timing, and you may run into them. I just did a google for st augustine spring break and got over 3 million hits on the phrase including ‘top 10 reasons to go for spring break’ lists …. so … call a few places and ask but yeah it may be that you do. But if you go to more upscale places maybe not?

    2. M&Ms fix lots of Problems*

      Having grown up just outside of Daytona Beach, St Augustine was not normally very busy in March, but I haven’t lived in the region for 14 years. I will second calling a few hotels, but will also add check for a visitors office, when I left they were talking about setting up a visitors office for Old St Augustine.

  29. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    My BIL/gf are dropping by today. I have coffee on hand to offer them (if they’re hungry, frozen bakeable fries). What easy recipes do you use when folks drop by on short notice?

    1. Not A Manager*

      I have a brownie recipe that I bake in an 8×8 pan. It makes about nine brownies, which looks pretty on a plate with some powdered sugar on top, but it’s not a HUGE batch of treats. They also freeze well, so whatever’s left I pop in the freezer. The recipe takes 10 minutes to mix up and about 20 minutes to bake, and I try to serve them warm but not hot.

      People love it, and I almost always have the ingredients on hand. If you’d like the recipe, I’ll post it.

        1. Not A Manager*

          Oooh, I love sharing recipes. This is an adaptation of a recipe by Craig Claiborne.

          4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
          1/3 cup unsalted butter
          2 eggs
          1 cup sugar
          scant 1/2 cup all purpose flour
          1/2 cup chopped nuts, optional
          1 teaspoon vanilla extract
          1/4 tsp. salt (omit if you’re using salted butter)

          Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease an 8×8″ pan. (If you need to, line the bottom with parchment paper and grease the paper. My pan is fairly non-stick, so I don’t bother.)

          Melt chocolate and butter together over low heat, or on half power in microwave. Let cool slightly. Beat eggs and sugar together. I do this using a whisk and a large bowl. You are supposed to do it until they are “fluffy,” but I just do it until I’m sick of it. If you use the standing mixer, then beat for about 3 minutes until they are light and fluffy. Combine the egg mixture with the chocolate mixture.

          If you are using nuts, scoop about 2 tablespoons of the flour into the nuts and toss to coat the nuts. Add the flour to the chocolate mixture and use a rubber spatula to combine. Add the optional nuts, vanilla and salt. Stir just until combined.

          Spread the batter in the pan, even the top with a rubber spatula, and bang the pan gently on the counter a few times to eliminate any air bubbles. Bake in the middle of the oven for 18-25 minutes until the brownies shrink slightly from the sides of the pan, and a toothpick or skewer inserted into the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs on it. Do not over-bake.

          Cool in the pan on a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes. Serve garnished with sifted confectioners sugar.

          ** If you’re making this as a dessert for guests, you can prep all your ingredients, melt the chocolate, and even beat the eggs and sugar in advance. It’s very easy then to combine the ingredients and bake the brownies in time for them to be warm for dessert.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. (As a bonus, they’re also gluten free.) whiz together a cup of PB, a cup of sugar and an egg, mix in a handful of chocolate chips, wad them up and bake for 10 minutes at 350.

      I also pretty regularly have frozen preportioned cookie dough in my freezer of other varieties. Right now I think I have lemon, Bailey’s mint chip, and butterscotch brickle? Also usually brownie mix in my pantry.

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        This is what my mom does re: cookie dough in freezer. She also keeps mini-loaves of banana, lemon, etc because they are fairly close to cake and can be thawed and glazed ahead of guests.Its not a lot of food, but its a nice nibble and they look adorable sliced up.

    3. WellRed*

      Chips and salsa, crackers and cheese. Or wine in the evening. I don’t want to cook while I have guests.

      1. Little Bean*

        Haha, I went through a very brief phase where I thought I would keep fancy cheese and nice crackers and good wine in the house in case of surprise guests. Turns out that fiance and I will eat/drink anything delicious within a day or two, far sooner than any surprise guests can arrive…

    4. Marzipan*

      Scones are quick, good as an afternoon tea-y thing, made from stuff you probably have (flour, butter, milk, maybe a bit of jam to serve with them), and best when they’re really fresh anyway. Go scones!

      1. Pippa*

        Yes! Mary Berry’s scones recipe is great, and if you’re at all comfortable with baking, they’re done and on your plate in about 20 minutes.

    5. Autumnheart*

      I have a few pasta recipes that take about 20-30 minutes to make, but I almost always have some kind of cookie or cake handy. (This does terrible things to my diet, but it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make. j/k)

      If I had someone say they were coming by in an hour, I would probably dash to the grocery store and pick up a little cheese tray and some crackers.

    6. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      My mom’s go to is pepper jelly plus Brie with crackers although pepper jelly plus cream cheese works too.

    7. Parenthetically*

      Cream scones are super quick to throw together, and you can buy shelf-stable cream at TJ’s to keep on hand. If you keep bisquick around, you can put together all manner of baked goods in no time. For savory things, hummus is quick and simple to make from pantry ingredients, and we always have crackers and veggies around.

    8. Loopy*

      It’s not really a recipe but I always have some sort of produce+cheese+hummus I can arrange into a nice platter. The cheese helps it not be the dreaded veggie tray and I always have fruits to go with the veggies. Not dissing veggie trays, I just always hear people groan about them at potlucks as a cop out/lame.

      It looks nice if I arrange it on the right platter with a little care and really is no effort cooking wise. Sometimes I’ll put grape tomatoes and mozz. cheese on toothpicks and some balsamic in a little dippings cups or drizzle it over them if I’m feeling fancy. Most things on toothpicks add some minor level of fancy.

      1. Lucy*

        If you put balsamic into an almost-empty pesto jar, replace the lid and shake, you get a divine and authentic Caprese dressing for your mozz/tom skewers. It’s a party staple now and always disappears fast.

        1. Loopy*

          This sounds amazing… I wish I used pesto more often though I’m sure I can use a very small amount put in another container and do the same!

    9. Kuododi*

      I will take a block of cream cheese, wrap it until fully covered with crescent rolls dough. Then, I brush the outside of this cream cheese/dough creation with an egg wash, sprinkle the top with a little season salt and whatever dry herbs/spices which happen to be on hand. Bake in the oven at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes. (I have to tinker with the bake time and temp as my stove has “issues.”
      The goal is for the crust to be lightly browned and cheese to be warm and softened. ) Serve warm with crackers (no particular type of cracker. Whatever you have available.). Makes a gooey warm spread and is delightful.

      In writing this, it occurs to me that one might be able to use phyllo dough or some other type of refrigerator roll out pastry dough. Worth it to play around with the idea. Enjoy!!!

  30. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

    I posted a while back about beloved doggie having kidney disease and congestive heart failure. She was my “keep walking” lifeline, through the difficult time in the last few months after my husband died.
    I had to bid her a temporary farewell at the rainbow bridge yesterday morning. She simply could not go on the way she was (things had gone significantly downhill).
    I thank the person(s) here who had posted about “better a day too early than a day too late.” I didn’t quite keep the balance (had a long long night with her to get into the vet yesterday), but I held onto that saying as it was so helpful.
    Just so quiet here now. I am glad mom is here staying with me (so the house is not completely empty). It deeply affected her as well – both of us spent hours cleaning yesterday (our family dysfunctional coping mechanism). Better, a friend had us over to watch “Pride and Prejudice” with tea and fresh shortbread cookies to end the day. It helped.

    1. Sammie*

      I am so sorry for your loss – both of them. I am glad your mother and you have each other right now. I would find the sudden emptyness of a house very hard to bear as well.

    2. Little Bean*

      I’m so sorry about your doggie. Pride and Prejudice with tea and fresh shortbread cookies sounds delightful!

    3. Bye Academia*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. It sounds like you took wonderful care of her. It’s always awful to say goodbye to pets, even though we are meant to outlive them.

    4. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. I said goodbye to my 22 year old cat in October for similar reasons, and the “better a day too early than a day too late” really helped me to make peace with the decision. I hope your happy memories of your beloved dog comfort you during this difficult time.

    5. Autumnheart*

      I read a similar thing when I had to put my cat to sleep several years ago, and I thought it was helpful as well.

      I’m sorry about your dog. No matter how much time they spend with us, it’s never long enough.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      The hubby then the dog. This so sucks, I am so very sorry. It’s hard not to shake the fist at the sky and say, “OK, that’s ENOUGH!!” Shake your fist at the sky if that helps. It’s okay to be angry and weepy. I remember saying, “here, honey, CATCH! and picturing my dog finding my husband waiting for him.

      This is the dog that wagged at an empty room. Perhaps the room was not empty.

      My dog lasted a while after my husband died. He was The Dog of my life. We bonded so hard, he was always with me. Then one day his body was just too worn out.

      Well, I talked to various friends about random things. It did not take long and I concluded, dogs are not like husbands. I can run out tomorrow and get another dog. [This was a good move for me.]
      I prayed/threw it out to the universe that I find a new pup that did not remind me of my old dog. [This was NOT a good move for me.]

      I brought home this adorable pup. [Gosh I was so naive.] I ended up with a Husky pup who was smarter than me. I have never had such a clever animal. And his on switch was on 24/7, he never stopped. I googled to try to figure out how best to help this pup. I fell into a blog where a guy was talking about huskies. He said, “Huskies and wolves are not dogs.” And so my new little guy became my Not Dog.

      Not Dog just turned 10. He has changed my life and changed my days entirely. Because he is so clever, he has sharpened me. I have learned so much with him.
      I thought I would never “get over” Dog of My Life. And that was true. I probably never will.
      But it is also true that I love Not Dog for a whole bunch of different reasons. Each dog seems to serve in its own way and somehow that service can be just what we need for our current chapter in life. Those we love pass on, but our ability to love remains. My suggestion here is your next step might be to figure out what you might like to do with your ability to love. There are all different ways of sharing love.

      1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

        thank you… all of you… this is super helpful. It sucks, it really does. I knew she was going to go sometime in the not too distant future, but she went very quickly despite my every effort (and major vet bills) to try to keep her here and healthy. It was just too much for her.

    7. Another academic librarian*

      I’m so sorry. When I let my sweet dog go last year, I mentally framed it as, not gone, just gone ahead.

    8. cat socks*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. Went through this a week ago with my kitty. I’ve found it does help having some distractions. It is tough adjusting to the house being different.

  31. Anonymouse for this*

    Has anyone tried the type of dna tests that are supposed to provide genetic based diet info? A flyer was sent round at work but when I googled it there are mixed reviews about the tests. Also because I live abroad the company that does the testing here charges at least double what they would if I was in the UK or US.

    1. catsaway*

      I would take the results of any commercial based DNA test with a huge grain of salt. (Even for ancestry, especially if you’re not of European ancestry and especially for disease risk or presence/absence of mutations related to diseases) I don’t know about any tests claiming to provide genetic based diet info but as someone who has heard many talks from scientists who study human genetics and human complex diseases I don’t think there’s anything that could be called genetic based diet info that’s better than an educated guess (unless you are already diagnosed with a disease, in which case you’re probably already talking with a medical professional about your care).

      1. SignalLost*

        An entire pillar of salt, actually. DNA appears to be both mosaic and chimeric. I have firsthand knowledge of two sets of siblings (one identical twins) who don’t have similar DNA. There’s a known situation where a man who was definitively the father of his child (conceived through IVF) genetically has an uncle relationship (the story is amazing). Women are known to have male cells in their body post having sons; they probably also get alien DNA from daughters, but we can’t spot it yet.

        We don’t know enough to make commercial DNA tests worth doodly.

    2. Lily Evans*

      You’d be much better off spending that money on meeting with a nutritionist to come up with a diet that works well for you since there doesn’t seem to be much strong proof about the accuracy of diet recommendations for those tests.

      1. Nye*

        Agreed. If you have a genetic disorder or other health issue requiring a special diet, you’d likely already know. Commercial genetic testing is interesting for lots of reasons, but specific dietary suggestions aren’t really one of them. (Like that bogus blood type diet, I’d be very sceptical of anyone shilling a genetics-based diet.)

        I say this as a biologist who did 23andMe nearly 10 years ago, when they could still give you all sorts of medical info. It was fascinating and I got some genuinely useful health info (I’m a carrier for a serious recessive disorder), but it’s not a prescription for how to live your life.

    3. Anonymouse for this*

      Thanks for the responses – yes my initial reaction was this would be a waste of money. I already have appt with dietician next week – I thought this might be a way to supplement that.

    4. WS*

      Some commercial genetic tests are worthwhile – the one that analyses the ways you process particular medications was useful for me in looking for way to prevent migraines, for example. But the science just isn’t there yet on the genes & nutrition ones in a useful way for someone who isn’t suffering particular major health issues.

  32. Scrumtrillescent*


    I am going to write this as fast as I can because the writing of this post is giving me terrible anxiety.

    Last March, there was a knowledge swap thread and I shared tips and tricks for being a single parent of 5 kids with very little money. Some people emailed me at that time and asked if they could help us out financially. I had just started a new job and told them things were fine right then.

    Well, my van is now rapidly dying. I probably have to replace it this weekend. I was hoping to at least make it until we get our tax return (which is somehow only 10% of what it usually is, so all of my plans were terrible) but it is probably going to die, like cracked engine die, well, really at any time. Theres an environmental program in my state where I can get $3k for the dying van but only if it drives to the dealership under its own power. So, my timeline is really, really small.

    Anyway, my friends started a Go Fund me for the car purchase. I don’t remember all the people who emailed but I thought I’d come here and say that if people still wanted to help, we are in pretty dire need of help at this point.

    I am bad at asking for help so I am going to post this and flee and maybe never come back. Heh. But you can email me if you’d like. Thank you.


    1. Christy*

      Please don’t feel bad or blame yourself for your unexpectedly low tax return. The Treasury Department specifically decreased withholding in 2018 following the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act so that (1) people would see more money in their paychecks and be happy they had more money (a big political win, in theory) and (2) so that withholding was closer to tax owed, since that’s better for the tax system as a whole since it’s less to administer.

      This year, lots of people owe more taxes, but even more people have a lower or the same tax burden as in past years, but because their withholding was lowered, their refunds are lower. It’s theoretically good because you’re not giving an interest-free loan to the government (and the government has ten years to collect a tax debt but you only have three years to collect a tax refund) but since so many people use taxes as forced savings, it means people are often saving less.

      So! Please know that your tax refund is lower by the government’s design this year, and that it’s very very much not your fault. I’ll be thinking of you and your family.

    2. Ruffingit*

      Please know that you’re in a place so many have been in. I get the anxiety about asking for help, but were it not for the help of others at various times in my life, I don’t know where I’d be. There are seasons to life – sometimes we’re in a season of giving and sometimes we’re in the season of receiving. This is your season of receiving. Just wanted you to know there’s no shame in asking for help. It’s actually a gift to others to let them help us. It allows them to feel those positive feelings that come with giving to others.


    3. Red Sky*

      I remember you’re post last year and was really impressed. I also know what it’s like to find yourself one financial emergency away from complete and utter disaster. Late to donating, but hope it helps.

  33. StarHunter*

    Book writing thread: I know a bunch of you here write books and short stories on the side. I am recently retired with some time on my hands and would like to try writing a book. I wrote a lot for work, but I know book writing is totally different, especially fiction. I’ve been trying to read more recommended fiction as most of my reading is non fiction/science fiction. Can anyone recommend any online resources or books about how to write books? What’s your process – outline? go with the flow? Do you sketch out your characters? Etc. (PS – I have no illusions of grandeur about being a published author unless I publish it myself. Same reason why I have a travel blog – just like sharing my adventures.) TIA!

    1. Marzipan*

      Google ‘Couch to 80k’ for a podcast that’s basically a writing boot camp with daily exercises to help you get in the swing of it and find what works for you.

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      I can’t recommend any websites as I’ve been sort of trial by error but my process is as follows:

      1. Daydream: I know that sounds silly but I like to lie in bed or sit somewhere comfortable and just daydream about the story I want to write. A lot of what actually ends up in the first draft comes from this daydreaming session.

      2. Story outline: I write a story outline chapter by chapter i.e. chapter one: Vernon Dursely goes to work and notices something strange is happening. There’s a cat outside his house that is suspiciously intelligent. He wonders if something has happened to his wife’s family (Etc.) I do that for each chapter until I’ve told myself the story in paragraphs.

      3. Write the first draft: this is where I just sit and write by following the chapter outline although I find that once I start writing, I deviate but that doesn’t matter because words are going on the page and that is the only thing I care about at this point. Words. On. Page.

      3a. Dialogue first: I always write the dialogue first because it’s easier to get through and it moves the story on quicker than getting stuck in the minutiae of what colour the leaves on the trees are.

      3b. Chapter review: at the end of each chapter, before moving onto the next, I go back and fill in the description but not so detailed that I get bogged down in it. That’s for letter.

      4. Rest period: once I finish a manuscript, I let it rest for about a month before I come back to it with fresh eyes.

      Unfortunately, I can’t tell you what I do next because I haven’t got to this stage but this is just how I do it. Everyone is different and unique.

      I do recommend going onto YouTube though and searching for Neil Gaiman and Stephen King. They are both very generous with their advice and it’s a good place to start.

    3. kneadmeseymour*

      I like the podcast “Writing Excuses” although it can be a little repetitive (and rather white-dude-centric at times). Often the guests have some interesting insights, though, and Mary Robinette Kowal is very wise. I also liked Stephen King’s “On Writing” although I don’t always agree with his advice–it’s an interesting read, though. I’m enjoying Neil Gaiman’s MasterClass course, although so far none of the advice has really jumped out at me as new and exciting. I just like to hear him talk.

      As someone who struggled to make the jump from non-fiction into fiction, I want to back up that age-old wisdom that it’s helpful to start with short fiction to get used to those elements of creative writing that don’t come up in other contexts–developing your plot, characters, pacing, tension and so on. You’ll learn a lot more from finishing 5 short stories than from writing the first chapter of 5 novels.

      1. Claire*

        I will gently disagree with the comment that it’s helpful to start with short fiction. Some writers don’t find short stories easier or faster to writer. And no, the pacing and plot and other elements are VERY different from novels to short stories.

        If it works for you, great. But it’s not for everyone.

    4. Lilysparrow*

      I find the Snowflake Method (easily googleable) extremely helpful. As was the book Wired for Story.

      I do a lot of “pre-writing” of scene snippets, dialogue, and some descriptions, until I know what the story is about and what the tone is like. Then I outline, then fill in scenes from notes to full narrative. I need the outline because I write out of order.

      Some people are “pantsers,” who can drop into narrative flow quickly and move forward through the story without knowing what happens next. I am amazed by that and think it’s very cool, but the only times I’ve tried it I got a complete mess of gobbledygook that took three times as long to rewrite and edit.

      Jump in and give it a try! You will soon discover whether plotting or pantsing works better for you.

    5. Claire*

      A really great (free) online resource is Absolute Write. Link: https://www.absolutewrite.com/forums

      It has forums and subforums for everything about writing and publishing. Short stories, poetry, novels, screenplays, agents, and so on. This can seem daunting at first, but you can dip your toes into a few forums and ignore all the rest. Once you have 50 posts, you can get feedback on your writing too.

    6. StarHunter*

      Thanks for the replies. There’s so much info out there and it’s helpful to get recommendations.

      1. Khlovia*

        Take this advice cautiously: Find a really good writers’ group. I advise caution because it can be strictly a matter of luck whether you latch onto a good one or find yourself mired in a bad one. As a noob, you might not be able to tell right away. A couple of red flags to watch out for: (1) A group wherein one person is the only published author, and it is the function of the other members to be his fan club, and the only advice he gives boils down to “Be exactly like me, wonderful me.” And (2) it’s a mutual admiration society populated entirely by amateurs; nobody provides any actual crit because they’re afraid of receiving it.

        1. Claire*

          Truth. I’ve been lucky with my beta readers and my critique groups, but you do need to watch out for those red flags. And do be careful about critique groups that get targeted by scam/vanity publishers.

        2. MissDisplaced*

          I would say there’s actually a third type of writing groupie: the ones that offer critique to the point of making your story “their” story.
          This often starts with a valid critique of maybe a small part of your story (“Consider making character X was male and not female?”) but escalates to “What if Character X has a special power and lives in New York and the city is overrun with giant spiders, etc., etc.”
          It’s so annoying.

          1. Khlovia*

            Yep. We’ve currently got a difficult-to-train noob who keeps trying to deal himself in as co-author. “And then you could have him do [this] and she reacts like [that] and you could introduce a new character who is [noob avatar Gary Stu]….” Weeks of observing how the rest of us crit do not seem to have made an impression.

    7. only acting normal*

      This used to be a paid course (1st year undergrad), but is now free:

      The course book for the 2nd year undergrad course is excellent – “Creative Writing” by Linda Anderson (aka the big red book). The course itself is £££ these days, was only ££ when I did it!
      The 3rd year book is also available but I didn’t find it as useful: “A Creative Writing Handbook” by Bill Greenwell

    8. Lilysparrow*

      By the way, indie publishing is a very viable business model these days, particularly for genre fiction series that don’t command big advances or much marketing budget from legacy houses. “Publishing it yourself” isn’t failure – it could work out better economically, if you like wearing multiple hats.

      I know of a number of “hybrid” authors who were originally published by traditional houses, and have gone indie on their new books because they make more money that way.

      1. Claire*

        Legacy publishers?

        If you mean trade publishers, whether small press or medium or the Big Five, they are still around. Though yes, self-publishing and hybrid publishing are great options.

    9. Coder von Frankenstein*

      The hardest thing about writing is that you have to write. A lot. A typical novel is ~100K words (though that can vary a lot by genre). It takes a long time to write that many words, and the initial inspiration that fires you to start the book is never enough to carry you through to the end. There is always a point in the middle where it becomes a slog. You’ll need to set a schedule for yourself and stick to it; “X words/day” is pretty common, but it can be anything, as long as it keeps you coming back to make progress.

      As for the rest, it’s very specific to the individual writer. I used to write with no outline at all, just seeing where the story took me. I’ve started doing outlines, because I find it helps to have something to remind me “Oh, yeah, this is where I was going with this scene.” The outline is very loose, though, and always mutating as I come up with new ideas or run into unforeseen issues. I deal with characters much the same way; a quick sketch at the start, then fill in the details as I go.

      One question: If most of the fiction you read is science fiction, why aren’t you writing science fiction? I would never want to write in a genre that I didn’t enjoy reading. Writing is too much work to do it if you’re neither getting paid nor having fun.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      Everything Coder von Frankenstein said! A whole book can be intimidating, but you’re basically writing it one word at a time. That’s very doable. :)

      I can’t pants it. I start with notes—lots and lots and lots of notes. I jot down everything I’m thinking about the book. Characters, settings, time periods, etc. Sometimes, in the notes, I’ll end up writing a snippet or two or even a whole scene. I try really hard to think about the characters most of all–everything hinges on them and their actions and reactions.

      Next would be an outline, very roughly divided into chapters or scenes. Then I just start putting down what happens.

      I don’t always start at the beginning I set, either. Sometimes it’s easier to start on something I want to write and skip around and save the most fun stuff to write last (that gets me through the slog in the middle). It depends on the project. You can smooth everything out in editing. I wrote Tunerville that way, but I wrote Book 2 straight through. Also, sometimes you’ll find that the story really needs to start further along than you think.

      I write on computer, since it makes editing and moving stuff around easier. I like Atomic Scribbler a lot–you can export into Word, and you can move scenes around by themselves and reorder everything. It’s free from Bad Wolf Software. I’m not a shill; I just really like their stuff.

      The number one thing to remember is this: your first draft will suck. It will ABSOLUTELY SUCK. And that’s okay. Writing is rewriting, and editing, and polishing. First drafts are just for getting the thing down on *paper* and out of your head.

      It also may not go the exact way you pictured or outlined, and that’s okay too–you’ll kind of know if you’re getting way off track. You can always backtrack, cut stuff, or rewrite it. Sometimes the story will take over and go its own way and that can be fun.

      Chuck Wendig’s Damn Fine Story is a great writing book. It’s a bit irreverent and he uses a lot of curse words, but he’s very funny and gives great practical advice. He also has a blog, Terrible Minds, where he talks a lot about writing and other things. (He also invented a sandwich that is amazeballs, haha.)

  34. kneadmeseymour*

    I finally started an instagram account for my sourdough starter named Audrey II, which I’ve been meaning to do for ages. Since my building doesn’t allow pets this is the best I can do for a pet instagram.

    Although this may be my weirdest project to date, I’ve really been having a good time with it so far. Although it’s kind of hard to explain what I’m doing when someone catches me taking photos of a jar of sourdough starter at the beach…

    If anyone’s interested, my handle here is the same as my instagram handle! https://www.instagram.com/kneadmeseymour/

      1. kneadmeseymour*

        Thank you! We have already made many beautiful breads together, but I think she’s appreciating the chance to get out more. I’ve already bought her a mini inner tube for the summer.

      1. kneadmeseymour*

        Nice! You should get Igor an account, and it can be friends with Audrey II. They seem like they would have similar interests. Audrey doesn’t have any sourdough friends her own age :( Just her many spawn.

        1. Katefish*

          My husband and I follow dogs on Instagram. I recommend Dean the Bassett and Fluffy Chelsea, but the adorable dogs are legion. And we both love sourdough.

      1. kneadmeseymour*

        Thank you!! If you’re wondering how my sourdough starter came to be called Audrey II, I’m not sure I have any good answer for that. Just a product of my twisted brain.

  35. Two Dog Night*

    Cambria, CA is one of my favorite places to visit–we always stay in one of the little inns on the ocean and have wine on the balcony at sunset, and it’s only half an hour from some terrific wineries in the Paso Robles area. And it’s an easy drive up to Hearst Castle and the sea lions.

    Other suggestions: We’ve stayed at a ranch in southwestern Montana twice, and that’s a gorgeous area. It’s in the mountains, but they’re not as high as the Rockies, so it’s a little easier to be active for those of us who don’t live at altitude.

    Edinburgh, Scotland is my absolute favorite place to visit. I’ve been there four times now, including twice over Christmas, and I’ve loved it every time. It’s a great city to hang out in, and you can easily take day trips by train (e.g. to Stirling, which is totally worth seeing). You could also take a train up to Inverness to see the Highlands, but I’ve found it easier to rent a car and drive.

  36. Earthwalker*

    A vent about Real ID and heads-up for anyone who hasn’t heard about it yet. It’s a new ID that will be needed to pass the TSA gate at the airport for people who don’t use a passport. Regular drivers license won’t be acceptable soon. I didn’t know about it until I happened to hear a loudspeaker announcement at the DMV that time was running out. I went right away to the driver’s license counter to get my license upgraded to a Real ID “star card.” “Do you have your papers?” What? “Current passport, original social security card, and two recent proofs of residency.” My passport wasn’t current. “That’s okay, bring your birth certificate and all your marriage licenses showing change of name along with your social and utility bills.” My old state had withheld my marriage license (long story). I filled out forms to update my almost-too-old passport (new photos) and beg the court yet again for that marriage cert (notarized signature.) Got the marriage cert at last, yay! Went back to DMV with it, birth cert, social, and bills. Now they’re okay with …part of my name. When I married 30+ years ago, I debated whether to use middle name, maiden name, husband’s name, hyphenated … women restyled their married names in so many ways, no right or wrong. Yes right or wrong, and I had guessed wrong. “Go to Social Security to get papers.” My social security number is matched to both my maiden and married names. Problem solved, right? But no, she took my social security card and was ready to rip it up and rename me on the spot. Wait! Stop! So off to the courthouse. Now I have a court date to “change my name” to what’s on my social security card, driver’s license, bank account, passport, and every legal document I’ve signed for decades. Off to the newspaper to run a legal notice about my “name change.” All those forms, fees, errands, hours waiting for my number to be called to the counter! All this for a normal American born, once-married woman to prove to the DMV that I am who they have always said I was. If you haven’t heard about Real ID, don’t wait to check into your state’s requirements and deadline. It might be easy or it might not.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I had to go back to the BMV six times to get mine sorted out, though two of those were due to computer systems being down. The last time I went in, it took two managers to authorize. In my case, it was because I went from Firstname OldMarriedName to Firstname Maidenname-NewMarried and they weren’t sure if the paper trail was sufficient :-P but it’s done now.

    2. WellRed*

      Never married but tjis sort of thing drives me crazy! Yes. Women may have name changes. Get over it! I suspect it’s worse under the current administration.

      1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

        I don’t think this has anything to do with the current administration. Driver’s Licenses are issued by the individual states DMVs, and passports are issued by the federal government, the US State Department. She had no problem renewing her passport, but the DL was the issue, so the issue was at the state level.

        1. Earthwalker*

          Real ID is a federal mandate that followed 9/11 (pre-Trump, as you say) and that is implemented on a state by state basis. Your state has to provide enough vetting of your Real ID license to satisfy federal requirements for picture ID at federal checkpoints, like TSA. A Real ID license is optional. If you only want it to drive and not to use as picture ID at federal checkpoints, state DMV still offers a fuss-free regular license, and you can fly with a passport or not at all. Strangely, the DMV (state) and Social Security (federal) insist that they can no longer accept the name on my license and social security card, but the passport agency is not (so far) balking at renewing a passport with that name. I’d expect that someone will eventually notice that mismatch and put the same document requirements in front of passport renewal.

          1. fposte*

            My state doesn’t provide a non-real ID option at this point; I suspect that’s a state by state call.

        2. WellRed*

          I realize the mandate pre dates trump. I was thinking more of the overzealousness described, but realize that was unclear.

    3. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      I feel your pain…I moved just after getting married with a name change. Even with all the right documents, they got so confused with my 2 middle names and that I moved back to someplace I used to live under a different last name that I spent 5 hours at the DMV (2 consecutive Saturdays). Not. Fun.

    4. Bye Academia*

      Ugh, the Real ID was a nightmare for me too. I’ve never changed my name, and they still hassled me about the documents I brought because they didn’t exactly match whatever format they had in mind. I’m like…you said a bank statement was okay! This is what my bank statements look like! Take it up with my bank!!

      Luckily the DMV worker approved it in the end, but she made me feel like she was doing me a gigantic favor accepting the proofs of residency that were listed on their website.

      1. M&Ms fix lots of Problems*

        Ughhhh, don’t get me started on UT and their games with regards to RealID. I moved here from AL via CO, and I’d never had so much trouble getting a liscense. UT actually tried to declare my marriage liscense from FL invalid because it didn’t look like theirs…….
        Took me four trips and ten hours and a threat to not transfer my liscense from CO (which was valid for another four years) to a manager for them to finally accept my marriage liscense. In the end I had to show them: birth certificate, SS card, passport, marriage liscense, apartment lease, two pay stubs, a bank statement, and my liscense from Colorado.
        Then I had to do a drivers test…….

    5. Splash*

      I currently live with my parents so I don’t have any utility bills. Would something like health insurance bills or cell phone bills suffice? (Though I pay both online so I’m not sure if I could get a copy.)

      1. Lilith*

        Some of us get bills online. Does this RealID only affect women? I haven’t read enough about it I guess.

        1. Splash*

          It affects everyone (all genders). It sounds like it’s more of a hassle if you’ve had any name changes (which I guess is probably most common with women if they change their last name after they get married).

        2. CAA*

          RealID is for everyone, but since men are much less likely to change their names it’s a whole lot easier for them to get one.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Our utilities are all in my name, but my husband was able to use his W2, bank statement, credit card statement, car insurance declaration page, and I think voter registration? As proofs of address. (He didn’t need them all, but after my hassle, he took extra documentation just in case, and of course had no problems at all. :P )

      3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Your online billing still has your address on them. You can print them off and take them in, that’s enough. A credit card statement works too, they suggest utility bill in passing only because it’s an easy one to rattle off.

        1. Someone Else*

          And because your name is unlikely to be on the utility bill of a place where you don’t live, but it’s true generally any bill with your name an address can/will be accepted as proof of residency if it’s recent enough.

    6. Rebecca*

      It’s a giant pain. I am opting out by just having a passport (PA allows us to do this) as I don’t want to go through yet another round of nonsense. It’s especially burdensome for women. And the documents have to be just so, originals, raised seals, certified copies, etc. Everything has to match. All to get on a plane or enter a federal building, like we have been doing for decades.

      1. CAA*

        I’m also just planning to use my passport for domestic flights after Real ID goes into effect for Californians in October 2020.

        1. blaise zamboni*

          Me too. I’ve never had a passport before now, but my current license expires at the end of May, and my DMV is booked up until the end of May, so I’d have ~2 days grace period to make sure my Real ID paperwork went through or risk not having an active valid license. So I’m getting a passport because that’s somehow less hassle.

      2. Autumnheart*

        Same here. I have both the passport booklet and the ID card. I’ll just have to make a point of renewing in plenty of time.

      3. Earthwalker*

        I thought about that. Barring bureaucratic snafus my renewed passport with my right name – the one DMV and Social no longer accept – is on its way. But I worried about when the government would decide that they never vetted my passport name well enough and demand a Real ID. So I’m getting the whole thing ironed out now.

    7. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I’m very sympathetic with the trouble your DMV put you through, but the REAL ID act passed in 2005, and implementation started in 2013, so states have had plenty of warning and it sounds like your state DMV hasn’t been putting out the word the way ours has. They also sound like they’re just not very helpful in general.

      1. Lilith*

        I’m a widow & I still have a couple of bills that come snail mail under my husband’s name. Should I change them to my name? They are cable & electric.

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          I would, but that’s generally a good idea. Comcast cable hassles my mom sometimes because it’s my dad’s name on the account, and they’re both alive and still married.

          And sorry for your loss.

        2. Widow, too*

          I would recommend you change the electric bill to your own name. I finally did it after about 10 yearns because (1) I wanted to get a rebate for buying energy efficient washer and dryer and (2) it only took a phone call. I haven’t changed the cable bill because I am worried that my unscrupulous cable company will hit me with a “new subscriber” fee just for changing the name.

      2. fposte*

        I think what’s happened is that the state extensions are running out. My state’s extension runs out this year and they only just got a plan out last year.

        However, I’m wondering about the differences. My state is doing central issuance–the licenses are mailed to you in about 3 weeks after application so they have time to do fraud checks–and I see no indication of extra paperwork required. You bring in your old DL, you get a temporary paper one, and eventually you get your fancy new one.

        1. CandyCorn*

          Are you in IL? That’s how it seems to work here. My mom in IN had to take a bunch of paperwork in for hers though.

          1. fposte*

            Yes! And I just checked the IN site for comparison and saw that they require all those docs. Is it possible our state has for once managed to do things better than others? I’ll need some time to absorb that notion.

            1. CandyCorn*

              And…….no. I did some research last night, and we (IL) are not yet 100% compliant with REAL ID. Which means they’re not even issuing REAL ID licenses yet. It seems like it was supposed to start in January, but there is nothing about it at all on the SOS website. I thought that since we had switched to central processing that meant REAL ID but it doesn’t. It’s just a step in the right direction. When they do start issuing, we will have to present the same boatload of information as everyone else.

              1. fposte*

                Oof. Well, I guess that makes more sense, and it also explains why Illinois hasn’t been doing much messaging on this. Thanks for checking and reporting back.

      3. Rebecca*

        PA had passed a law in 2012 preventing PennDOT from issuing Real ID! “Until May 2017, Pennsylvania law prohibited PennDOT from complying with the federal REAL ID Act. Act 3 of 2017 repealed this prior legislation and allowed PennDOT to seek REAL ID compliance.”

        And the DMV site says it’s optional, so OK, if you don’t plan to fly anywhere, fine, but what happens if you get called for Federal Jury Duty, at a federal building? Will they let you in?

    8. lapgiraffe*

      I had the opposite experience, dare I say best trip to the RMV I’ve had in my life other than maybe that beautiful day on my 16th birthday when I received FREEDOM! But in all seriousness, perhaps because I live in state that will not allow you to renew anything if you have a $15 parking ticket in a nowhere town at the other side of the state or an outstanding $3 toll (yes, both real examples), I approach anything to do with my car with the utmost in research and prep and the expectation that THIS WILL SUCK. Yet with Real ID I was pleasantly surprised! I was able to start my application online, with drop down menus listing all the various types of verification documentation allowed and pick which ones I plan to bring. I had a little folder with all the things, I gave them to the clerk, she typed and scanned documents for maybe three minutes total, eye exam, picture, then pay. The whole process didn’t even take ten minutes. I don’t know that every state is going to have that online pre-check option, but it’s worth looking into and there is tons of info online to figure out requirements beforehand.

    9. Someone Else*

      Just quick clarification. (I’m not unsympathetic to what a pain this has been for you, but to anyone out there who might be reading and freaking out)
      If you have a renewable passport, ie it expired less than 5 years ago, and your driver’s license or other state ID is not Real ID, a valid passport is. Renew your passport, ASAP. Especially if you meet the criteria to renew it by mail.
      If you have a valid passport, A) you can fly with that, regardless of what kind of driver’s license you have B)having a valid passport makes it much easier to get a Real ID DL later.

      This whole process will inevitably be more difficult for anyone who has had name changes in the past, be it due to marrirage, divorce, adoption or just because you felt like it. But if you’ve always had the same name, and have a passport that can be renewed, this will probably not be a giant headache.

    10. California Real ID*

      I spent 9+ hours at my local California DMV in July renewing my expiring driver’s license and switching to a Real ID. My old license and social security card had firstname+middlename+lastname. My passport had firstname+maidenname+lastname. Other required documents were had one or the other or no middle name at all. The clerk that entered my name for the Real ID put it in however I wanted. I opted to match my passport.

      I understand that the US Government has issues with the lackadaisical way California is issuing their Real IDs. I hope mine is considered to be valid.

      Of course, they took my photo for the ID at the end of my 9+ hour ordeal. It looks like a police booking photo.

      1. M&Ms fix lots of Problems*

        I have an uncle who is a police officer – he said all ID photos are generally mug shots because that’s what you are going to look like when the police officers gets it after pulling you over.
        He was a school resource officer, then a night shift officer, and had the sense of humor to be expected from dealing with teenagers all day long.

  37. Laura H.*

    Binged all of season 2 of The Dragon Prince… I kinda wish that Netflix would break up seasons into smaller releases- more than the typical 1/ week tv format, but not dropping the whole season at once…

    Season was pretty good tho.

    1. Asenath*

      I didn’t like it quite as much as the first season, and then there was that cliffhanger! How long am I supposed to wait for Season 3??

  38. coffee cup*

    I was supposed to be going out with my friend tonight, and her friends whom I haven’t met yet, but I have a thing going on ‘down below’ that is really uncomfortable and bothering me. I feel such a flake cancelling, because she’s a really good friend and (to be honest) I don’t want to miss out (I have an innate, though mostly quelled, fear of people having a great time without me and getting to know each other better when I’m not there). But I have to sit in the car to get to work and then all day at my desk, so I think I need time this weekend to let things calm down.

    How do I stop beating myself up about something that isn’t my fault? I already told my friend and she’s fine with it. But I always feel terribly guilty when something like this happens, in a way that’s often out of proportion to what’s happened.

    1. Splash*

      I feel guilty about things I shouldn’t feel guilty about too. :/

      Would it make you feel better to think about how if your friend had been the one to cancel plans, you’d be fine with it too and wouldn’t expect them to feel guilty? Why should you feel guilty about things you wouldn’t expect other people to feel guilty about?

      Hope your other problem clears up fast!

    2. Autumnheart*

      Would you give your friend a break if she had to cancel due to TMI issues? I bet you would. I would follow up in another week or so with an offer to get together again.

      1. coffee cup*

        Totally. And she knows that. I see her every day at work and we always catch up, so I can chat with her on Monday. I just have pointless guilt.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Feel the feeling? This looks like saying to yourself or out loud, “Yes, I feel guilt” or “yeah I feel fear”. These things are feelings not actions. It’s not a crime to have feelings. Cry, punch a pillow, etc if that helps, too.

      Feelings grow exponentially when we deny or smoother those feelings. Drag it out into the light of day and acknowledge the feelings.

      You know it’s one type of problem if others ignore our feelings. It’s a much bigger problem when we ourselves ignore or deny our feelings. While your friend is probably very concerned about you, you might be so busy beating yourself up that you don’t notice her concern. Deal with your own feelings first (and your physical discomfort) and on a better day check in with your friend.

    4. Ron McDon*

      If the cause of your discomfort is a spot or swelling at the *ahem* base of your spine please do go to see your doctor. I had that once, mentioned to my boss that I didn’t want to walk far for lunch as it was painful and she told me her sister had a similar thing and ended up having it surgically removed.

      As did I… cue 6 weeks off work with a huge hole in my back.

      Google pilonidal sinus – but some of the images are a bit gross!

      Apologies if this isn’t relevant for you, but lots of people haven’t heard about this, so whenever someone mentions discomfort and sitting my antenna goes up!

  39. Splash*

    Has anyone ever gotten a rash on their hands or wrists? If so, did you figure out what it was from?

    I got a small rash on the back of both hands and part of my wrist recently. The only new product I’ve used that I can think of is a new body wash. I switched to my old body wash for two weeks and used Cortizone 10 to clear up the rash, then tried the new body wash again and the rash started coming back. It’s weird that it’s just a small patch on the back of my hands and wrists instead of all over my body though. I’m wondering if the rash is from something else and came back because I stopped using the Cortizone 10.

    1. WellRed*

      My first inclination is to say don’t look for zebras ; ) However, given it’s your hands, seems like it could be anything from dish detergent to new soap in the dispenser at work to irritation from a sleeve. Is it winter where you are? That could be a factor, even if nothing else has changed.

      1. Splash*

        It is winter where I live. My hands can get dried out, flaky and cracked if I don’t use lotion enough. The rash is more so just a slight welt with a lot of small bumps, and it’s itchy.

        I usually use a store brand hand soap from my local grocery store, but grabbed a bottle of store brand hand soap from Walmart recently a few weeks ago. I’ve gotten the soap from Walmart before, but I think the one I got before was clear, whereas this one has a pink color to it, so maybe it’s a different formula?

    2. Asenath*

      I used to, many years ago. Once, a doctor said I was allergic to dish detergent – my mother (I was a teenager living at home then) commented that she didn’t believe it because I so rarely washed dishes! It went away, and it, or something like it, recurred years later. That doctor said it was due to skin irritation caused by the cold damp climate and wearing damp mittens. Then, it too went away – I think I had cream and also tried to keep my hands warm and dry. That doesn’t seem helpful, I know, but if you’re getting the rash when you use the new bodywash, try stopping both the bodywash and the Cortizone 10 for a while. Or see a doctor.

      1. Splash*

        I haven’t changed dish detergents. I hope I haven’t developed an allergy to it.

        I saw a dermatologist for something totally unrelated and showed them the rash while I was there. They said it’s contact dermatitis and to use the Cortizone 10.

        I actually got a new pair of winter gloves this year, but I’ve only worn them two or three times. Can’t remember if wearing them coincides with the rash so I have to pay attention if I wear them again.

        Good idea to stop the bodywash and the Cortizone 10 (after it clears up again) for a while and see what happens. Need to make it like a controlled experiment.

      2. Lilysparrow*

        I once had a mystery rash, mostly on my hands, that got worse when I was driving or out in the sun. It was intensely itchy red bumps that would sometimes turn into tiny, painless water blisters. It drove me crazy for months, and my doctor shrugged.

        It went away when I moved and had a few lifestyle changes. After researching, I believe I had mild photosensitivity from either a) Depo-Provera, b) toxic levels of mold in the constantly damp, ill-maintained rental house I was living in, c) high levels of stress, or d) some interaction between them all.

        I always wore sunscreen on my face and in my makeup. Not necessarily on my hands.

    3. Koala dreams*

      I always get very dry hands in the winter. I get rashes more often on my watch hand, so I’m trying not wearing the watch every day. Also, I use hand cream to get my hands in better shape as often as I remember. If you do hand wash the dishes, I recommend getting gloves, or trying a different brand if you already use gloves.

    4. Sylvan*

      What does the rash look like? Painful, itchy, or both? Does the skin crack or split?

      I’m totally not a medical expert and shouldn’t give medical advice, but I wanted to ask because I recognize the location. That’s exactly where my skin itches, hurts, and cracks if I wash my hands too much, especially if I use hot water.

    5. CAA*

      Any kind of skin product I’m allergic to shows up on the insides of my wrists even if I’ve used it on my whole hands or other parts of my body as well. I don’t know why that skin is more sensitive on me, but it is. (Truth be told, I don’t use unknown soap in public restrooms any more, just rinse and rub then Purell after drying.)

    6. LCL*

      It’s just on your hands and wrists because we wash those parts more often, so the natural protective oils are stripped off them. Cheap mystery soap is fun to buy and try, but my experience is that in general it is more dermatitis inducing. I think there are a few people that make soap that read this blog, maybe one of them could explain why the cheap stuff is more irritating.

    7. only acting normal*

      The backs of my hands are like canaries in the coal mine of my skin allergies.
      It’s probably the new body wash if nothing else you use has changed.

    8. Wishing You Well*

      Go to the doctor. You might need a prescription. There’s psoriasis, hand and mouth disease, hives, etc. You can’t keep using cortisone indefinitely. Please go find out what you have. I’m hoping there’s a simple answer and cure.

    9. Anonnnnnnn*

      Given the issue is on the back of your hands, this is probably not it, but it’s not uncommon for some folks to be allergic to the plastic that is most commonly used in computer mice. If your job (or just life in general) involves lots of using a mouse, or even if you recently increased the amount of usage significantly, and the rash were primarily on the parts of your hand that touches the mouse, it may be worth ruling that out as the source.

    10. Ron McDon*

      It sounds similar to my eczema, but I get it on the sides of my fingers and soles of my feet. It seems to flare up when I’m stressed.

      Might be worth talking to a dermatologist?

      1. Elizabeth West*

        That’s what it sounded like to me. I have eczema on my hands also and certain body wash products aggravate it.

    11. Marion Ravenwood*

      I’v had that a few times before. I’ve usually chalked it up to a change of shower gel/body wash/detergent.

  40. Jessen*

    Whelp, a 13-day migraine pretty well derailed whatever organizational plans I’ve had. It’s hard to tell yourself to keep going, especially when so many different things just seem to pop up. Still feel like my new methods have been having some success, although it’s taking a bit of work to adapt things. Studio apartments are an organizational challenge, and there are a few things that I definitely need but don’t have a place for, especially if I don’t need them very often.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      A 13-day migraine?!

      I’m so sorry. That sounds hideous. I hope you’re feeling better now.

      1. Jessen*

        Definitely. Getting frustrated with medical care though. It seems impossible to get any sort of coordinated care. So if I’m experiencing headaches, ear pain/stuffiness, and upset stomach, I get sent to three different specialists to patch up each symptom. But there’s nowhere to go that’ll look at what’s going on overall.

  41. Athousandeyesandone*

    Was looking back at a relationship that ended a couple of months ago and was wondering if a 2 day hotel stay for a second in person meeting is weird for a long distance relationship. Some background is that we met on World of Warcraft, found out that we were 2 hours away from each other. We decided to date and he wanted to be exclusive pretty quickly. He decided to move to a bigger city 7 hours away from me out of the blue, though his reasons were decent. We still hadn’t met in person at that point though he kept saying he wanted to see me, but wasn’t taking any of the opportunities available to see me. I ended up organizing a lunch and movie date at a town in between our areas before he moved and he seemed to like it. After he moved, he started saying that he loved me, which was a bit much for me. I said I liked him but I felt that I didn’t know him enough to love him yet. He then got busy so we stopped talking as much, though he said he wanted to stay at a hotel with me in the future. A month later he books the hotel in a coastal tourist town that he wanted to go to. I was unsure about going but ended up doing it. I felt it went ok, but then 2 weeks later he breaks up with me, he says because he wanted to see me more but the distance was too far and also because it was expensive to see me, even though he would only let me pay for one dinner.

    1. Autumnheart*

      I think the whole string of events was weird, and that you dodged a bullet. His decision-making leaves a lot to be desired. He moved away, then he loves you, thenhe’s too busy to talk to you, then he expects you to show up at a hotel somewhere, then he breaks up with you because you cost too much? Guy sounds nuts.

      1. Athousandeyesandone*

        Thanks, I needed to hear that! At first I dismissed some of my feelings because he was kinda socially awkward and I kind of understand that since I have asperger’s syndrome and social anxiety, but as time went on things didn’t really make sense. He was doing all this but then telling his friends and his family about me, so I don’t know.

        1. valentine*

          He was stringing you along. Your feelings aren’t less important and there’s no objective way to be kind or coupled. I wouldn’t stay anywhere with someone without a successful relationship summit, basically, to know we were on the same page and path. But how do you feel about it? You don’t have to go along with neurotypicals and feel free to resist anyone who dismisses your feelings, tramples your boundaries, or tries to gaslight or guilt you with claims that what they want is “normal” or that most people would agree with them.

          Find someone who wants to help you get what you want, delights in knowing you, and looks forward to interacting with you.

    2. Not All*

      well, as a serious MMORPG player since vanilla WoW who has seen a LOT of people “fall in love” online, I can say that it very very rarely works out. It’s so, so easy to have the mental image of a person & feel like you know them well from talking every day, but in person everything from appearance (even if you’ve exchanged photos) to mannerisms is totally different. Plus there is the reality of brushing teeth, taking out trash, whatever. We’re playing a fantasy and we can all be whatever we want to be. Plus, some people have just have sexy voices (ahem, my raid leader!) but no personal compatibility in real life.

      (I might be a little biased since I got a divorce this summer after my now-ex decided he was in love with someone he met in game. I’ve heard their relationship didn’t last past the first in-person meeting either. His sister also nearly tanked her marriage over someone she met in-game…her husband did the math & decided staying married was cheaper than the divorce, poor guy.)

      1. Athousandeyesandone*

        That’s true, I kind of think that he liked the fantasy of me though I try to not mislead people. Other people might not do that. I’m sorry you went through that with your ex, that sounded rough.

      2. HEA*

        I met my husband online through a shared interest (not gaming!) quite by accident. Neither of us was looking for a relationship that way. I’m from North America he’s from Europe. I moved to him, we moved in together right away, we got married a year later and it’s 10 years married this summer. We were ‘together’ online for like 2 years while I saved the money to move though. I think you need to be careful but it very much depends on how honest the person is being about themselves offline.

    3. Lilysparrow*

      If you were both super-enthusiastic about the hotel stay with zero reservations, then it’s not weird. Some people would find that too soon, others not. If it was too soon FOR YOU, then it was too soon, period.

      FWIW, I think your instinct about wanting to know him better is completely wise and sensible, and you should listen to yourself because you seem to give yourself excellent advice.

      The weird part is that he seems to have pressured you into things you didn’t really want to do. He seems to have had no problem turning you down for other meetups that didn’t suit him. But you didn’t feel secure about turning this down, even though you weren’t entirely happy about it.

      That’s not a healthy dynamic at all.

      It sounds very retro Dear Abby, but it’s true: if someone really loves you, they are willing to wait until you are ready for more intimacy. When the words “I love you” are used to pressure or persuade you into going against your own feelings or better judgement, that’s not love. That’s manipulation.

      Having been in somewhat parallel situations before, my guess is that he broke up with you because he was looking for a fantasy encounter completely separate from his real life, and you wanted to treat it like a real relationship between real people. And if so, you definitely dodged a bullet.

    4. Christy*

      The red flags here, as I see them:

      He wanted to be exclusive before you’d ever met in person. And it sounds like he wanted to move way faster than you on that.

      He wanted to be exclusive but didn’t take available opportunities to meet you.

      You’d met in person once and he moved away and then started saying I love you, again, earlier than you were ready for it.

      All three of these are like, walk-away items. If your goal is to be in an in-person relationship, then don’t stay with someone who is specifically avoiding seeing you in person. (I mean, if you want an exclusively-online relationship, that’s fine, but it doesn’t sound like that’s what you wanted.) And if your boyfriend (any boyfriend) wants to move way faster than you want to, then he’s probably not a good match for you.

      1. Athousandeyesandone*

        Yeah was definitely not dealing with it in the best way. I was struggling with my self confidence previously and have trouble making friends, so I think that was why I stayed. Started seeing a therapist so hopefully that will help me figure out things.

  42. Myrin*

    You probably will be hearing less from me in the next two to three weeks – we’ll be moving into our new flat on Thursday! However, official moving-in date is on 1st March, so in the week inbetween, we’ll have time to really deep-clean and tidy up the old flat (and hope our soon-to-be-former landlady won’t literally crouch on the floors with a magnifying glass to find scratches – she’s totally the type to do that). We’re excited!

  43. Myrin*

    In other news, after three days of being on the phone all the time with people regarding moving our telephone and internet connection to the new place, I finally got ahold of an absolutely amazing and extremely competent young lady today and she sorted everything out.

    (The problem was that the house we’re moving to has stood vacant for three years before our future landlords bought it in 2014. And since then, they’ve naturally only used one… port, I guess (this is really awkward for me to say in English, please bear with me), because they’re only one household and only need one line. So the other cables/phone lines exist (so it’s not like the street would have to be dug up to put new cables into place) but have been barren and unused for seven years. I’d assumed from the beginning that a technician would have to come by to re-connect the cables and check up on everything so that we could have an internet connection, too. It turns out that that’s exactly what has to happen but somehow none of the people I talked to on the phone over the last couple of days had any idea about that. (One of the reasons I’m not a huge fan of these big service call centre type thingies – the people are always infallibly polite and friendly but of course they don’t have as intimate of knowledge of the subject matter as an actual electrician working for the cable company.) But in any case, it finally got sorted out today and a technician will be calling me on Tuesday at the latest to discuss our next steps, set a timetable, etc. I hope everything will be going smoothly, then!
    Also, I totally gushed about the lady on the phone and she got very flustered, the way you do when you’re surprisingly flattered. I’ve long made it a point to explicitly name when I’m very satisfied with an exchange and you could totally tell that I made her day with my honest thanks. She really deserved it, though!)

  44. Red Lipstick and a Book*

    My 30th birthday is this year and my grandma would like to buy me something that I will wear for a very long time. I adore her and am so grateful she’s still around and in a position to offer me a gift. I’d like to give her suggestions but I barely wear any jewellery so I’m looking for recommendations.
    I like watches, my style is classic with a little bit of boho chic. I have ordered vintage watches from Etsy that I really liked so that’s one option. I don’t know where to start looking online. Do you have any suggestions for brands? (I’m in Europe but happy to see all ideas.)
    I know this is a very happy ‘problem’ to have and I really want to find something that I wouldn’t buy for myself but would love to have as a gift from gran.
    Happy weekend, everyone!

    1. Koala dreams*

      The Citizen eco-drive watches are very nice. Some of them have more of jewellery feel, but they have very nice classical watches too.

    2. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      I’m probably old school, but I have “one” good set of pearls (got it for grad school graduation gift) and they have proven to be a treasure – 25+ years of special occasion and “Dressing up” the slightly casual as needed. When they are a family gift, they are an extra treasure. And it is not something you’d ever get yourself.
      For college graduation, I got a very nice watch (at the time) and recently discovered that it (not a rolex, not in my family) is basically dying and beyond redemption… so YMMV. Had it been a Cartier tank or other super classic watch, I’d be okay but my tastes weren’t that refined (or parents’ budget that strong) at the time.
      For future, if she does want to continue in this vein, think if she offers you something of hers that you can wear and treasure. My mom has shared with me a few great pieces of costume jewelry from Gran (solid classics). I don’t wear them often but mix them in and lovingly wear them when possible.

      1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

        If you like pearls but want something less classic, how about a string of black pearls? They’re gorgeous but a little different.

      1. Marion Ravenwood*

        Seconding the bag. I got given an incredibly generous amount of money from various relatives for my 30th birthday, and spent it on a Kate Spade Sam (not a super-fancy bag I know, but I like classic styles that go with everything and am a big fan of their stuff). It’s now my everyday bag for work, as well as a ‘posh’ bag for weddings/nice dinners out etc and I like the fact that I’m using my birthday gift almost all the time rather than it just gathering dust, which is what tends to happen with posh jewellery I’ve been given. But YMMV.

        If you’re set on the watch, I second Olivia Burton and would also look at Daniel Wellington depending on budget. Kate Spade (yes I know) have some really nice classic but quirky watches too. I have a Storm watch my husband bought me a few years ago which I love, but they’re quite a modern, ‘chunky’ style so may not be your thing.

        Also, if there’s nothing you like at the moment, would it be worth seeing if your grandmother would either give you the money she’d have spent on the watch or to put it aside for you until you see something you do? That way you don’t have to feel pressured to get something immediately and can shop around a little bit beforehand.

        1. OyHiOh*

          I also went with the Kate Spade bag, with leather wallet as well. Years later, its still my favorite bag – simple, classic, good color that goes with nearly everything but is still a color other than brown/black, enough pockets but not too many pockets.

    3. Shirazee*

      Personally I’d go with a classic piece, like pearls (as someone else mentioned). Even if you rarely wear jewelry and don’t dress up a lot, a string of pearls and the LBD will be all you need on those occasions when you do!

    4. Kuododi*

      I saw you aren’t a big jewelry person. Your post reminded me of my darling grandmother (rest her soul). She was a proper well-mannered Southern lady and believed that “young ladies” should have one pair of diamond earrings. She bought my sister and I each a classic pair of diamond solitaire earrings as a high school graduation gift. They have been absolutely wonderful when I needed to dress up an outfit for a special occasion. (I too am not a hard core jewelry wearer.). Your grandma sounds like an absolute treasure! Best wishes.

    5. Red Lipstick and a Book*

      Thank you everyone for the wonderful ideas and also the nice wishes.
      And yes, my gran is a treasure, may she be with us for a long time.

  45. Asenath*

    I’m more of a cat person myself, but I’ve started watching dog videos on Youtube – one of my sisters is very fond of dogs. There’s a great one of a bulldog doing agility – google something like “bulldog agility” or “Rudy the Bulldog” to see it. I’ve never been a big fan of bulldogs (sorry, bulldog fanciers, I think they’re ugly), but that one is cute. And fast. He’s much better than the mastiffs doing agility that you can also find online. Another, older video, featuring a retriever doing a much simpler course can be found by googling “Hilarious Golden Retriever Really Wants To Race But.. First Things First.”.

    I’ve found another way to waste time online!

      1. anonymouse for this*

        Oh for an edit button – make that the golden retriever video – but reminds me of my friend’s lab who cannot pass by a bowl of food – even when there is a cat eating from it. It never ends well for him.

  46. Myrin*

    Oh, and in yet other news, I’ll probably need to have my gallbladder removed.

    Warning for medical discussion ahead if you don’t wanna read anything of that kind!

    I’ve had flatulence almost every evening for about a month now without really thinking much about it – I’ve always been kind of gassy, even though the frequency has never been quite like that. However, my mum took a look at the small bump I had in my stomach the day before yesterday and almost had a spontaneous aneurysm because she thought it might be a hernia. She urged me to go to the doctor immediately and well, I did so yesterday morning.

    The doctor was bewildered. She did an ultrasound and thought it was some kind of cyst, but she couldn’t determine which organ it could possibly belong to. Then she moved the ultrasound just right and found out that… well, the “cyst” was actually the upper part of my gallbladder, which is not only very enlarged (i. e. the bump I felt) but also in the completely wrong spot in my body; that’s why she didn’t even think of gallbladder before, because she hadn’t exptected to see it there. She fetched her coworker, who used to be surgeon, and she confirmed that it’s indeed the gallbladder (with two stones, yay). They then fetched their boss (my primary care physician) whose eyebrows almost left his face so astounded was he by my misplaced gallbladder.

    They’ve determined that while mysterious, this isn’t a case where immediate action absolutely has to be taken – the stones are small and not in the way and all the organs are healthy, there’s no inflammation or suspicious masses or anything anywhere. I need to come in on Tuesday for a blood test to see if there’s some kind of backlog of fluid which causes the enlargement, but other than that, I need to have a gastro-specialised surgeon have a look at it. They say I can have it taken out but at the moment I don’t have to but man, I’ve absolutely already decided that it needs to go.

    Now of course all of this happens during the two weeks in the last decase where we moves flats. The doctors said I can do the move without problems but afterwards, I should make the appointment with a surgeon at the hospital, and I’ll absolutely make sure to get it done as soon as our old flat’s keys are in our lanlady’s hands. I have an exciting few weeks ahead of me, folks!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I am sorry to hear about the uncomfortable gall bladder but I am glad they found what it was.
      It’s interesting about the GB being in the wrong spot. A long time ago I met someone who was mirror image on the inside. Everything that was supposed to be on the right was on the left and visa versa. (There is a scientific term for this.) He was totally fine healthwise, just mirror image built. He had a medic alert for it.

      1. Myrin*

        Oh yeah, I’ve heard of this phenomenon – it’s called “mirror twin” in German (because apparently it’s something that identical twins can have, where one is “right” and the other is “reverse”) but IDK about the English scientific term.

        It’s super strange and I’m curious to see if the gastro surgeon is going to have any insights; I’ve had ultrasounds and even xrays of my stomach done before and I’m quite sure at least one of them would’ve noticed if the gallbladder had been in the wrong spot, so I’m guessing there was something to cause this. I do think I had a colic sometime last year and… no one realised what it was? My mum had one when I was little and the way she (and others on the net) describe it, it matches my experience (I really thought I was going to die, for example) but it happened during the night and I was fine the next day and then somehow… forgot about it, apparently; I honestly feel like my brain tried to block it out or something. I only remembered yesterday when I actively thought about it. So maybe something happened there?

        In any case, “I am sorry to hear about the uncomfortable gall bladder but I am glad they found what it was.” is exactly how I feel – I hope it’ll keep going for two more weeks and then I’ll be able to get it taken care of.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Oh wow. I thought it was rare but maybe not.

          It was in the 70s maybe a bit earlier that Friend went to the doctor and had to have xrays. He knew something was up because he could hear them saying to each other, “Hey, Bob, come here, look at this!” Then seconds later, “Hey Joe, check this out.” Finally his doc came in and explained that he was reversed, he was fine but reversed. The doc was careful to explain that Friend would always have to inform medical providers.

          I think it was a situation like this, where they were looking for x organ and found it on the opposite side, so they did a larger xray and were able to see every thing was mirror image.

      2. AliceBD*

        There’s a Lord Peter Wimsy short story and one of the characters (victim? suspect? It’s been a decade+ so I can’t remember) has it, which is where I learned about it.

    2. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      I’m sorry to hear your gallbladder migrated to an undisclosed location and is giving you troubles! I had mine out in late 2017. You can temper your symptoms now until surgery by eating a “gallbladder safe diet” and perhaps using a gas relief medication (in the US, something similar to Gas X). I waited 6 weeks from ultimate diagnosis until surgery due to some things I had going on and the fact that my surgeon was going on holiday. It was fine as long as I was careful to eat things that wouldn’t cause symptoms and take the medication to give some relief to the symptoms. Don’t be alarmed if there is a bit of a wait to remove it, unless it’s about to burst open from stones or you have a stone stuck in one of the bile ducts, it’s not an emergency and you can do the things you NEED to do before the removal. Best wishes from the US!

      1. Myrin*

        Thanks so much for the well-wishes!
        That’s basically exactly what the doctors said. I’m already being very careful with eating right now (small portions, gallbladder-friendly, …) and it’s working well right now; still gassy, but nobody’s exploded yet, it’s definitely manageable. We’ll see what else this has in store for me.

    3. zaracat*

      I’d be a little cautious about doing any heavy lifting too soon after the procedure, even if it is keyhole surgery – it’s possible to develop a hernia in the spot where the largest “port” site is (the one used for the camera and also where the gallbladder is pulled out from after it’s dissected free.) But light packing/unpacking should be fine.

    4. Cherry Sours*

      Ah, the joys of gallbladder surgery! I had been sick with what appeared to be a stomach bug for 2 1/2 days before I had any pain worth mentioning, and eventually called my nurse practitioner for an appointment the following morning. In the next hour the pain increased so much I drove myself to the hospital. Even backed into a parking spot so I would not have to turn around and look behind me when I drove myself home, lol. Little did I know…
      Had fun in the e.r., where I was diagnosed with an inflamed gallbladder. I was a bit surprised, since I’d never had issues with it before, but they pumped me full of pain meds and antibiotics. The next morning I had surgery, and afterwards was told by my surgeon that I won the “gangrenous gallbladder of the day award”. See, always a silver lining! lol
      Remained in the hospital for a few days due to bladder issues, but recovered at home with no serious problems. Hope your recovery is as easy.

  47. Complete gaming n00b*

    I’m approaching 30 and I haven’t played video games since a Pokemon binge in 5th grade. I stopped because I was getting distracted from homework. I never went back, and now realize that I threw the baby out with the bathwater and missed out on something that’s genuinely fun.

    I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube game reviews (mostly hbomberguy and Jim %&$#ing Sterling, Son), and now I really wanna get in. Problem is I don’t know where to start.

    What sorts of beginners’ games would you suggest for someone with a Windows PC?

    1. Autumnheart*

      Well, the games I play are The Sims 3 and Civilization–I started with Civ 5, which was pretty easy to learn, and branched out to Civ: Beyond Earth and Civ 6 (less easy to learn, I’m still figuring it out).

      It really depends on what kind of games you like. I like these because I really like simulation games, and because you can stop the game and pick it up later without detriment.

      Not to be a shill, but Steam is selling a bundle right now where you get the complete editions of Civ 3, Civ 4, Civ 5, and Civ: Beyond Earth (and expansion pack) for $37.65. That’s a pretty great deal.

    2. Where’s my coffee?*

      Stardew Valley for an engaging but peaceful time. Kentucky Route Zero for a novel-sequel journey. World of Warcraft if you like goofing off with others while killing mobs.

      1. BugSwallowersAnonymous*

        + to Stardew Valley! I also loved, loved Undertale, if you like story-based role playing games. Undertale is also kind of an homage to Pokemon in its art style and gameplay.

        1. Jasnah*

          I agree with starting with Stardew Valley and Undertale. I also recommend the unfortunately-named “walking simulator” genre–this will get you navigating in a 3D environment without any combat. My faves are the Stanley Parable, Edith Finch, and Firewatch.

      2. Kristen*

        Yes, Stardew Valley is great! There’s so much to it too. You’ll need to have the wiki page open to read about various aspects of the game while you play.

    3. Myrin*

      What types of games do you like/are you looking for? A relaxing, farming-kind of game? A realistic-looking FPS? A platformer? A rhythm game? Something casual, often with user-made levels? Something story-driven? RPGs? Something puzzle-y?
      I’m asking so you can answer here for us to suggest something, but also because when you’ve thought about this more, you can easily search for these tags on Steam.

    4. Yams*

      If you are in position to get a switch why don’t you play let’s go Pikachu/eevee? They are pretty fun, easy to learn and the switch has a ton of cool games. Do you have an idea of what you’d like?

      1. Jasnah*

        I agree with this, very easy to pick up and play. Just enough nostalgia for former pokemon players too.

    5. Dr. KMnO4*

      I second Stardew Valley. I would also suggest Slime Rancher, which is SO CUTE (start with Casual mode). Skyrim is a lot of fun, and you have a lot of freedom in what build/style you play and how much or how little of the story line you do. Diablo III is fun too, especially if you want to run around killing demons.

    6. NPC of convient exposition*

      Where to start really depends on your genre interests and what sort of platform you have, can borrow or are interested in getting. However I Highly recommend “Journey” and “Abzu” both which you can play on PC or PS4. Not only are they Beautiful, but they are Very intuitive, and easy to learn. Both focus on exploration.
      There are amazing games out there, games that have quite literally brought me to tears. Games that I go back to again and again because they make me happy and warm. Games that have scared my pants off.
      But recommending some of those would be a bit like throwing you into the deep end before you can float. Or giving you War and Peace before you can read. Abzu and Journey, are beautiful, lovely, relaxing and a bit like Run Spot Run. They’ll help you gain Video game literacy so that other games will be easier to transition to.

    7. Roja*

      Watch the Steam sales. My husband is an avid gamer and gets screaming deals from Steam all. the. time. Like, $30 games for $1 or $2. If you like building/designing things you might like Minecraft, City Skylines, or Sims.

    8. Cuddles Chatterji*

      Ark: Survival Evolved. DINOSAURS and EXPLORING. You should make a local server with “easy” settings. It’s SO MUCH FUN and I’m completely hooked.

  48. Rebecca*

    I’ve been listening to the “Cold” podcast, about the disappearance of Susan Powell in Dec 2009. I just listened to episode 3, Faith and Finances. I’m glad that the producers tell listeners if they know of anyone in a situation like this, or if the listeners themselves are in a similar situation, to get help. I have to admit this is very hard for me to listen to.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I haven’t listened to the podcast but I have read some on the case. That poor woman, omg. My impression of her setting was that she never stood a chance. May she RIP.

      1. Rebecca*

        The podcast is so fascinating, Josh and Susan Powell kept audio journals, so some of it is in their own words. And her friends speak, too, and I just thought oh my goodness, that poor woman :(

    2. Teach*

      I am caught up on that one, am issuing the warning I wish I’d had: if you do not know how this situation ends, you might want to look that up before you keep listening. It’s very bad, in ways that are sad beyond belief. (Not that it’s a happy-fest so far, but it’s much worse than I expected.)

      1. Rebecca*

        Oh, I know – it is a very sad ending, and it makes it even worse knowing as I listen what’s going to happen, especially when I hear her words and what she’s describing. I listened to the second episode while out on a walk yesterday, and said out loud a few times, oh just get out! Go! Please, why are you thinking/saying this?? It’s heart wrenching.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have now been listening to this podcast for the last like five hours straight. It’s horrifying.

    4. LCL*

      The Wikipedia entry on this is pretty thorough. One of Josh’ sisters, Jennifer Graves, wrote a book about their family life growing up. If you read her news accounts you might end up with a speck of sympathy for the boy Josh was, though not the man he became. The patriarch Steve was a piece of work and many think he was involved in Susan’s death.

  49. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    If all the loose plots in my head would kindly wait their turn, that’d be great thanks.
    Never been so grateful for the existence of A6 notebooks…

    1. Claire*

      I had to throw out three chapters for the current novel project and start over. Which…was painful at first, but now I have a *much* better angle on my characters, and the plot is filling out nicely. Turns out I needed to add three dangerous and troublesome sisters.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        When I get in trouble I often end up killing people for the fun of it.
        (To the government agent watching me: I mean fictional people. I am not a serial killer. Although I suppose my characters would beg to differ.)

        1. Claire*

          Hahah! Same here. Last week, spouse and I were at a restaurant where I babbled on about a different novel in progress. “I need to kill off the president,” I said. Then, in case anyone else had overheard, I quickly added, “In the novel, I mean.”

          Also: My Google search history is so damning.

            1. A.N. O'Nyme*

              Like the time I had an ad for hunting knives and an ad for vegan food directly below it.
              I laughed way too hard when that happened. Honestly wish I had taken a screenshot.

            1. Claire*

              Once for the dayjob, I had to meet with one of our clients who had connections to the military. One of the standard questions was, “Have you ever plotted against our government?” (Seriously.) I said no, of course. But inside, I was thinking, Only in my books.

    2. Cindy Parker*

      I haven’t been writing for some years now but today I found some of my old writing and you know what: I was good. Not great. But not bad. Something to work with. And that felt good. Like I know I am not good today but with some practice I could get back to that level. And I want to. I have been lurking in this thread and one day I want to add something! The spark is back. This is such a nice feeling I just had to share it. I hope you don’t mind.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        I don’t mind at all! That’s one of the reasons I started doing this thread, tbh! I had the same situation a few years ago so I know exactly what feeling you’re talking about, too.

    1. Amber Rose*

      Me too! XD
      Gotta love a birthday on a holiday.

      We’re doing an escape room. Got anything special planned?

  50. Junior Dev*

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

    I’m struggling with sleep and avoiding doctors for the health problems I know I need to deal with. I’m just so burned out on having the same conversations over and over and being talked down to. I just wanna live my life. But eventually I have to deal with it, I know. Luckily my PCP is pretty great. But I think I need to see a specialist and I’m just dreading it.

    Proud of making social plans this weekend, and of going to the gym 3 times this week. It really does help with my sleep and my mood.

    How are you doing?

    1. Lynne879*

      I’m definitely doing better this week than last week. I’m finally starting to get the hang of doing deep breathing exercises when I’m starting to feel upset about something, but it definitely needs more work. I’ve been keeping a small notebook in my purse where I write down any moments of anxiety I feel & I’ve expanded it to writing down positive things I’ve down to help my depression for the day.

      I’m still struggling on the whole making friends thing, though. I do nothing but work, so I feel like every time I find a social event on meetup or on Facebook group that I’d like to attend I can’t do it because I’m working :/

    2. 653-CXK*

      I’m still waiting for a response back from the job I applied to. They contacted me because they wanted a second supervisor as a reference; I gave them one and it turned out the extension I gave had the numbers switched (dumb error). Hopefully I will hear from them; since Monday is a holiday I probably won’t hear from them until Tuesday. I think they are serious about bringing me onboard, and it all depends on the references.

      I’m proud of finishing my taxes. Each year it was extremely easy (just me) and I did it as soon as I got the paperwork in late January; this year, I procrastinated by a month because I thought with the health insurance change, the unemployment insurance, and other things, I would be paying through the nose, but thank blessed (insert deity, crush or talisman here) for withholding ahead of time and the new tax laws – I owed a lot less than I thought I would. Uncle Sam has his money and I have my sanity back. I was really keyed up last night and this was probably why I had a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep last night; I woke up this morning and dozed off mid-morning.

    3. CheeseNurse*

      I’m doing OK, mainly because my life situation has improved. I’m proud of myself for doggedly pushing through a toxic contract job followed by a long period of unemployment, despite how incredibly difficult and stressful it was.

      Lately I’ve been going through finances and paperwork and trying to get my life back on track. I keep getting surprised that I neglected certain things and then working on not feeling ashamed or overwhelmed about it. For example, I didn’t file taxes in 2016 or 2017. I thought I had, but nope. I also found a bunch of correspondence from a collection agency that I never opened (somehow that resolved itself, despite me not even being aware of it). My cognitive abilities are really negatively affected by high stress and anxiety, but I never realize it when I’m in it.

      I’m also avoiding going to the doctor for the same reasons as you. I’ll deal with that eventually :)

      I’m managing things by exercising regularly and cutting way back on sugar. I don’t think sugar is the devil or anything, but I personally find it makes my mental and physical health worse and I feel better when I’m avoiding it.

    4. StellaBella*

      Hi and thanks for this thread as usual, J.D. Well done on gym and social plans.

      I am doing well – have a verbal/email offer for a job, waiting on contract. :)

      On Saturday I went thrifting, and after walking and shopping for 3 hours, I found 4 work dresses (have a couple of suit jackets to pair with these, as I like simple, modern, classic sleeveless, zip up back dresses to mix and match and now, I have a full work wardrobe yay!) and 3 cashmere sweaters – all for under 120$. The thrift/charity shops where I live have some really nice things in them, and to be honest, a second-hand cashmere sweater for about 18$ (made by a fancy designer) is so worth it. I kind of freaked out I was so excited to find these, and found a pair of pants made by Ted Baker London for 18$ (retail tag on these said 150$) – so now I have literally 2 ‘new to me’ suits and enough work-appropriate clothes for 3 full weeks, so for that I am happy.

      And – it’s been two years this past week since my life went pear-shaped: in Feb 2017, I got made redundant (loss of funding for non profit meant 90% of the worker bees got laid off but boss kept her 6 figure salary, yes it was a toxic place on many levels), I got dumped by boyfriend of 3+ years, and began to get very ill with pancreatitis and gall bladder issues, which landed my in hospital for 10 days with 2 surgeries. Since then – I was thinking about this last night – I have done therapy for work-stress issues, learned some new coping mechanisms, took 18 months off and did an intensive MSc, and moved countries twice. Now, with the job offer I am settling back into my life and am happy and ready to take on the challenges ahead – because I have a strong network of friends and family that I love and am grateful for, every day.

      I hope everyone has a good Sunday and that next week is a really amazing week for all of us. :)

      1. NoLongerYoung*

        Sounds like you are in a good place, and wonderful forward momentum through what must have been a tough time. High five!

    5. Catherine*

      For the last week I’ve had an increasingly difficult time getting myself out of bed in the morning. I eventually do it and I’m mostly on time to things but it’s a struggle to get up and go.

    6. Red*

      I’m struggling with my agoraphobia. I had a panic attack in Target and had to sit in the car while my husband finished the shopping, and I’ve avoided doing a couple other errands for a bit too long. I don’t know what my deal is, there’s nothing wrong with Target or the gym or taking a dang walk. I know that. And yet, I can’t seem to convince my body of it. It just insists on panicking of I try to go somewhere I don’t know well (like work or the library).

  51. Sleepless' Spouse*

    TLDR: My husband’s sleep is erratic. He’s up all night and sleeps all day, which is a big problem because we have a toddler and baby. I’m starting to lose it and need some advice, sympathy, and perspective.

    My husband’s sleep is erratic. He gets severe insomnia, often not falling asleep until 3 or 4 am. He’s usually able to get himself up in time for work, but on weekends he generally sleeps until about noon, although it’s sometimes 3 or 4 in the afternoon (I sometimes try to wake him up earlier, unsuccessfully). Other times, he is so overwhelmed with fatigue that he falls asleep at inappropriate times and places. After work, it is not uncommon for him to fall asleep in his parked car, the closet, the shower, or on the bedroom or office floor. It seems that the sleep he does get isn’t restful. He might sleep from 3 to 11am, and then want to take a nap at 2 or 3pm. He has also experienced occasional sleep paralysis, where he’s awake but can’t move. (I do think it’s noteworthy that he’s in the tech industry, whereI know that late schedules are common. I think this goes beyond that, although I don’t think all that time in front of a computer screen is helping anything.)

    When it was just the two of us, these things were a bit irritating, but I figured he’d eventually outgrow it. But it’s only gotten worse. We now have two small children, and I am quickly losing my patience. I can’t count on him for anything before noon on the weekends. By the time he is awake, I’ve already been up with the kids for 5+ hours and they are nearly ready for afternoon naps. Neither of them sleep through the night yet, so I am up at least twice a night and I would like a chance to sleep in occasionally. I’d like to go to the zoo or church as a family, or have him make pancakes or run out for donuts and coffee. I’d also like to go away for a couple days by myself in the next year, but I don’t think it’s safe to leave the kids with him. It’s embarrassing when we have out-of-town visitors or go stay with family and he sleeps all morning. I know he looks lazy, but he doesn’t talk about it or give any explanation to people, and I’m not sure if it’s appropriate for me to share on his behalf.

    He’s a good dad and I know he loves me, so I am finally beginning to realize that this is not laziness or a personality quirk, but some kind of sleep disorder that’s not going to go away on its own. A few months ago, we got in a fight and I told him he had to get a sleep study done. He had previously seen two different counselors, who worked with him on sleep hygiene, but he hadn’t seen a medical doctor. He went to talk to a sleep specialist, who said it’s probably just stress, but ordered a test for sleep apnea as well as bloodwork. Both tests came back fine. He was supposed to go in for a follow-up appointment, but he needed to cancel and is dragging his feet on rescheduling. He doesn’t talk to me about it, but I think he feels that they aren’t going to be able to help him. I asked if he told the doctor that he falls asleep in weird places and gets muscle paralysis, and he said no, that never came up. It annoys me that they dismissed it as “stress” (although I agree that stress significantly worsens it.) I want to go with him to the next appointment and share my perspective of what’s going on, but I’m not sure that’s really appropriate.

    So my questions are: does anyone have any ideas of what this disorder could be or suggestions of questions to ask the doctor? How much should I push him to reschedule his sleep specialist appointment? He doesn’t want to talk about it when I bring him up, and part of me doesn’t see a point in forcing him into treatment before he is ready.

    Most importantly for me, how can I reframe this in a way that makes me less resentful? On a rational level I think it’s a sleep disorder, but on an emotional level I feel resentful, abandoned, powerless, and angry. A little part of me still thinks he’s lazy and wonders if I’m enabling him. I don’t know whether to be sympathetic and supportive (keep the kids quiet, wait until he wakes up to do family things, make excuses for him to family, let him seek treatment in his own time) or if I need to draw some hard lines (let the kids be noisy, try to force him to wake up in the morning, stage an “intervention” where I tell him how this is affecting me, insist he sees the doctor). Any advice would be much appreciated.

    1. LibbyG*

      It sounds maddening! A baby and a toddler is hard!

      Your entreaties haven’t worked to prompt him to follow through, and maybe, in his mind, he’s managing the problem by catching up on sleep on the weekends. Though sleeping until noon on Sat doesn’t help him go to sleep on time Sat night.

      So I think you might do well to frame i